We were driving in the van — almost home — when No. 5, the boy formerly known as Surprise Baby, spoke up from the back seat.
“I have to concentrate on not growing up,” he said.
“Oh, that’s good. Like Wendy in Peter Pan. And the Lost Boys.”
“Mo-om,” said his sister. “He said throwing up.”
Ooh. I high-tailed it home.
The stomach bug attacked hard this past weekend. One minute
No. 5 was doing laps around my mother’s house at her 84th birthday party; next thing he’s heaving into a bucket.
After almost 48 hours of rubbing the back of a feverish vomiting boy, cabin fever set in. Don’t get me wrong. I felt for him, but I started feeling for me, too. I’m an outdoor cat, who can’t stand being held captive indoors. Plus it’s the time of year when they should be adding Prozac to the drinking water. By lunchtime on the third day, No. 5 kept down two tiny pretzels (God bless his Godmother for bringing them) and came back to life.
“Mommy, I’m a good boy at school, am’t I?” he asked.
“Oh, yes, you’re a good boy. Why?”
“I don’t always sit criss-cross, apple sauce, but I always look at the Smart Board.”
I knew he was feeling better to say something like that, but it didn’t change the fact that I was still going stir crazy. I got him up so we could do some colour by numbers. I was sneaking peeks at the Globe while I coloured my half.
“A doctor, a filmmaker and their video cure,” read one headline. It was a story about a family doctor in Ontario named Mike Evans who teamed up with an illustrator named Liisa Sorsa (no that’s not a typo) to make a nine-minute YouTube video. “23 and a Half Hours” — think “Mr. Dress-Up” at his easel on fast forward — shows people what they can do for just half an hour each day that will reduce their risk of diabetes, high blood pressure and depression. It will prevent or reduce obesity. It will even cure the blues brought on by hanging with a puking toddler. In a nutshell, what is put forth in this video could save your life.
I got all excited and called on the services of No. 3 to care for the pale one so I could try it. I had done it before — lots of times — so it didn’t take a lot of preparation. The video does not lie — it only took half an hour of this activity to take away the mid-winter blues exacerbated by a dozen loads of laundry and a sick child. In fact, after just half an hour I was right as rain. Life was good. No. 5 was no longer throwing up. I wasn‘t ready to be committed, just yet.
I‘m not going to tell you what the video told me to do. You‘ll have to find out for yourself. If you’re not on the Internet, next week I‘ll tell you about the world’s best medicine.
To find out what makes the biggest difference to your health, watch www.youtube.com/watch? v=aUaInS6HIGo.
Susan Flanagan can be reached at email@example.com
Quebec Summer Program feedback
Darlene Tremblett writes: “I did the summer program at Collége
St. Charles-Garnier in the summer of 1997, it was the best experience of my teenage life. I highly recommend it.”
Sylvain Archambault writes: “I have lived in Quebec City for over 20 years and it is one of the best cities to be in (with St. John’s). This student exchange program is a terrific way to get to know the city … as well as the people. After all, we have a lot in common, being neighbours sharing the beautiful Gulf of St. Lawrence. Bienvenue à Québec.”
After my column appeared,
Ward 1 Coun. Danny Breen (DBreen@stjohns.ca) emailed to answer my questions regarding municipal laws regulating vacant retail space.
“There are no laws in place regulating the use of ‘vacant’ retail space. The city can regulate the use of residential, commercial and industrial space by way of zoning, e.g. it can designate a specific area as being CCM (Commercial Central Mixed) which will limit the use of space within that area to specific types of retail activity.
“Prior to Dec. 31, 2012, the owner of a commercial property was subject to a business realty tax and the occupier of that commercial property was subject to a business occupancy tax. If a commercial property was vacant, it was not subject to the occupancy tax.
“On Jan. 1, 2013, the city introduced a single business property tax and a vacancy allowance for owners of a commercial property that was vacant, the purpose being to ensure that the commercial property owner was not subject to the payment of a property tax where no such tax existed before, i.e. a tax was not collected on an unoccupied commercial property.
“The important issue here is the definition of ‘vacant space.’ If there is a signed lease in place, that space is not considered vacant regardless of whether it is occupied or not. In that case the full tax is charged. …
“The bylaw is the Commercial Property Tax Bylaw (No. 1562). The definition of vacancy is included as section 2(1)(b) subsections (i) through (vii).”
Patsy Ploughman writes: “The whole situation baffles me, but I guess from Loblaws’ perspective it makes good business sense.
“With regard to the store in Churchill Square, it is obviously cheaper to pay the taxes than to do the renovations. … I shopped there for 40-odd years and wrote to Galen Weston on several occasions regarding the deplorable working conditions for the long-time dedicated staff. … I did get responses … that there were plans for the store. … Some renovations were eventually done but the store was downgraded to Save Easy and the staff paid the price of lower hourly wages or move to one of the other main stores. The grocery business is very low margin profit-wise and depends on volume … hence all this move to ‘hard’ goods. Churchill Square was just too small and again in such poor structural shape that any idea of increasing the size would have been apparently too costly. …
“It’s interesting to note that one hears of places moving away from the remote big boxes. … We haven’t gotten there yet. … It seems we have to make all our own mistakes. AND that commercial turns my stomach, too. As do the pictures you see of the Westons at all the fancy charity galas.”
Jay writes: “Municipalities have a great deal of power to make property owners do a lot to put themselves at a disadvantage. They make them pay taxes, they make them maintain their properties safely, which they should enforce more stringently. … They can also expropriate if they wish, and they have in many cases. And rightly so. Many property owners are negligent, and it is sometimes the ones who own property for a profit. Let’s maintain our vigilance with these owners who only want to take from the community, and give nothing back.”
Mary-Anne Stevens writes: “I love shopping at Loblaws, but I don’t love what they are doing to my neighbourhood and I won’t be shopping at their supermarkets until the Churchill Square location is released from their stronghold.”
Anne Marie Power writes: “Having given up my car in recent years, I have to add my own pet peeve regarding these ‘super’ … stores. It appears the expectation is everyone drives, as the sidewalks leading from the street to their premises aren’t cleared. In order to bestow them the honour of permitting me to spend my money in their stores, I have to either risk life and limb traversing traffic … or hike up and over a mountain of snow. … This, in my opinion, is contempt for the consumer. As long as there are choices, I will continue to opt to pick up what I need at places that care about the safety of their potential clientele.”
Jim Hurley writes: “I am president of Cygnus Gymnastics Training Centre … a not-for-profit gymnastics (group). … We presently occupy in (excess) of 13,000 square feet of space at Dominion Memorial Market on Lake Avenue.
“I want to be clear that I have not been prompted or instructed by anyone or have not been in contact with anyone representing Loblaw concerning the content of this email. …
“In my mind, and I believe that I can speak for all of our members, that Loblaw is truly … more than a good corporate citizen. In the five years we have been at Memorial Market, our club has grown, in every way, shape and form. We presently have five full-time employees and approximately
30 part-time coaches. If not for Loblaw’s support of Cygnus, the sport of gymnastics, and to amateur sport in this city, we would find ourselves in a much different position.”