Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A Most Unforgettable Character

You may have noticed my spiffy new blog logo. It was designed by my good friend and fellow blogger Cindy Schultz, AKA, Halifax Broad. Cindy has her own small award-winning advertising company in Halifax (Broad Creative) and is possibly one of the most creative people I know. We first met back in my Rye High days (aka, Ryerson U.), when I was renting the top floor of an old Victorian house in Riverdale. That apartment goes down in history as the funkiest place I ever lived. I felt like Mary Richards living there and even had a giant "D" on my wall just like her "M". Cindy was an old friend of my land lady. I use the term "land lady" loosely, as she was really just the spoiled single progeny of some fairly well off folks who bought her a house to live in. Her only responsibility was to collect the rent from her room mate(s) and me. I believe Cindy had met her at summer camp when they were kids. The land lady whom I will refer to as Dee (now and in any future blogs), was a trained chef working at Scaramouche at the time. As she worked mostly at night and slept late most days, friends would often gather in the afternoons in her bedroom where she liked to hold court on her king-sized bed. Now before you go thinking there was some kind of kinky crap going on, just relax, the reason for the location had more to do with the fact that the only TV in the house was located in her room. Every now and again, her friend Cindy would pull up in her "oh so cool" Rabbit Convertible, top down, with her dog Jessie in tow and plunk herself down for the afternoon. I recall we all liked to have a drink (or two) and watch and critique All My Children (daytime TV at it's best back then). I liked Cindy instantly (way more than Dee). As I have mentioned in previous blogs, I have always been attracted to people that make me laugh and she did, and still does. We became friends and my ex-husband and I used to spend weekends at her crazy house next to the river in Clarksburg (outside Thornbury, Ont.). During the days, we would go bike riding, play tennis or hang out near the water and at night we would drink too much, crank up Patsy Cline and play Scrabble with her and her boyfriend(at the time) Chris (I still have that Deluxe Scrabble Board you gave me for a wedding gift for round 1). Cindy's charming house was like a magnet for the entire village and people would drop in all day and night. She seemed to know everyone, and everyone knew her. She was a genuine character and you couldn't help but like her. She was funny and artistic. She had her own spinning wheel in her living room where she created personalized custom-designed ski hats. Everyone had one. She was like her own brand - like Paris Hilton, except smarter and funnier with "real" blond hair. Everything she touched was a reflection of her personality. A trend-setter without even trying. Sadly, one day she decided to sell her quirky house and move to Toronto. At the time, I was working at The Upper Canada Brewing Company in Sales and Marketing and she needed a job. We hired her despite having no experience in the business, but just on her personality alone. Never one to adhere to conventional roles, Cindy proved a memorable addition to the UCBC family. She was an open book. Like the day she came waltzing into the office, shopping bags in tow, eager to tell us all about the great sale she just came from in the middle of the morning, not seeming to give a rat's ass that the boss was within earshot and she had been shopping on salaried time. Or the day she came in after a day of sales calls, swung her feet up on the desk and started swilling a bottle of Chamay, telling us all, "You guys should try this stuff, it's really good," never for a moment considering that the chief might not take too kindly to her promotion of one of our competitors. She was fearless. And that's what I love about her. Her creativity saved the day on more than one occasion. The brewery was always throwing promotional events for the press and restaurant and bar owners whenever a new product line was launched. As the budget was always limited for these affairs, we needed to come up with cost-effective ideas. The building was down on Atlantic Avenue, a stone's throw from the Gardiner Expressway - our view from the second floor. There were railway tracks passing by the south end of the parking lot surrounded by tall grass and weeds. At least that's what we saw. Not Cindy. Realizing we had no flowers for the tables, Cindy quickly folded up some six-pack cartons, headed out to the tracks and gathered up armloads of "wild flowers" and stuffed them in the boxes and placed one on each table. They looked planned and better than if they had been ordered from a florist. The girl had talent. That talent took her to Canada's east coast where for a time she owned and operated a small chain of folk art shops called Wholly Mackerel. Always creative, she once appeared in Style at Home, or was it House and Home (I forget) as the "designer" of a colourful, folk artsy east coast interior even though she didn't actually officially work as one. (some people get all the breaks!) During that time she became a mom and sold her shops and now she spends her time cheering on her son's hockey team and running her own business. I am so glad we kept in touch all these years. Her blog is a genuine laugh riot - I could only dream of being such a comic talent. So Cindy, I salute you and thank you. I love my new logo - it's fresh and whimsical and everything I wanted it to be. I am a little concerned about her eyesight though. Just the other day, she told me she thought I looked much younger and prettier in real life than I did in my blog photo and that I should change it up. A girl can't have too many friends like that!

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