Bye-Bye To Bill’s Pizza of Tillsonburg

Bill's Pizza, Tillsonburg, Cheese PizzaAt the far south end of Tillsonburg, amongst the tumbleweeds where activity once abounded, lies a treasure hidden within a small hole-in-the-wall shop between the old “Royal Hotel” and the bowling alley.  A treasure now buried but to be remembered fondly.  A treasure of amazing pizza and people: Bill’s.

I just read The Tillsonburg News page that Bill’s Pizza in Tillsonburg is done. I’m in shock and disappointment.  Without question, the best pizza around as far as I’m concerned. So great, in fact, I had intended to write a blog post about it as one of the best things about living in Southwestern Ontario: convenient access to Bill’s pizza.  It was one of those “best kept secret” kind of places I would recommend to someone spending time in the area. Not just for the pizza but the staff and the joint also.

The crust was thin and homemade. According to End of an era: Saying goodbye to Bill’s Pizza posted in the Tillsonburg News, Bill’s went through 4 homemade batches a day. The sauce was just the right amount of spice and sweetness with a deep rich, red colour. My usual order was an extra large cheese pizza for my fussy family.  Once in a while I got a deluxe or a meat-lovers if the occasion warranted. The bacon was always real pieces of deli bacon, not bacon bits as many contemporary chain pizzas offer, and the deluxe would have fresh vegetables.  And the cheese, I can’t forget the cheese. There was always a tonne of cheese. So much, that when it melted there was a shimmery coating of grease that would sit on top. I know that may not sound appealing and your arteries may constrict just thinking about it but that was what made it a taste phenomenon. Before even taking a bite my taste buds would do sommersaults in anticipation of what was coming at them.

Bill’s Pizza quickly became the favourtie of my and my sister’s, out-of-town significant others and we have passed on the tradition to our children as well.  This was our go-to pizza growing up in Tillsonburg and a must-have when we are back visiting.  There is simply no other pizza like it.  It’s what I imagine a New York pizza to be like if I ever the opportunity to try it.

Bill’s has survived many years on their incredible reputation for great pizza and customer service.  It even managed to be one of the only businesses (that I’ve patronized) that never succumb to the use of electronic fees transfer.  If you wanted to purchase a pizza from Bill’s you had to do it “old-school”.  No debit or credit.  Cash only.  Luckily, the bowling alley next door was equipped with a bank machine or there would have been several nights of disappointment for me.  It was part of the charm of Bill’s.  It stayed constant and authentic through all the 43 years in business.

It was always a marvel as well, to see Irene or Don every time I would go in to pick up the pizza. I wondered if they ever took a holiday. According to the Tillsonburg news, I guess they didn’t. Obviously they loved what they did. They were always chatty and congenial. Every pizza passed over that counter was delivered with a smile and a thank you.  43 years of dedication and commitment to getting the best pizza out to generations of hungry patrons.  With retirement already underway, I wish them the best and happiest wishes for an amazing life from the other side of the counter.  And may they sense the biggest smile and sincere thank you from one grateful and satisfied customer.

6 Annoying Movie Cliches

Unbelievable Movie Cliches

I love movies. It’s on my list of “8 Fun Things”. I know that what happens on the screen is only a reflection of what happens in life and sometimes it is completely make-believe. It is not real life. No matter what, however, it is to be believable (depending on the genre) to the audience; they are to believe that what the characters go through in the film, are reality for them.  Having seen many films in my day, there are some common occurrences that are simply NOT believable and they have become pet peeves of movies for me.  You may agree.  Here is a list of 6 that come to mind:

1.  Shut-up Moments – When in an argument in real life, no one ever comes up with that one magic line that shuts the other one up and shocks them into silence.  At least, not in any of my arguments.  I see it happen a lot in Hollywood whether on television or film.  One of the best “shut up” moments came in A Few Good Men when Jack Nicholson was pushed to the edge with questioning while on the stand and responded to the statement “I want the truth!” with “YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH!!!”.  What do you say to that?

2.  Choreographed Dance Scenes – I love a good dance sequence but in some movies, I find it distracting when a group joins in the dance and they know all the moves.  Like the closing scene in Footloose, Kevin Bacon yells out “LET’S DANCE” and the teens of the town, who were previously forbidden to dance, join him in a perfectly choreographed number on the dance floor.  Wouldn’t happen … unless it was a flash mob I guess.

3.  16th Century Glamour – In historical romance movies, the romantic couple usually consists of a beautiful Hollywood actress complemented by an equally beautiful male counterpart.  Shakespeare in Love comes to mind.  The exquisite Gwyneth Paltrow and the handsome Joseph Fiennes make a most lovely couple in this movie about William Shakespeare’s love interest.  Guess what?  Back in the 16th century, nobody would look like that.  Their teeth would be brown if they had teeth at all and their hair would be frizzy dull mops.  There wasn’t any toothpaste or moisturizing conditioners back then.  I don’t think they would pluck unsightly stray eyebrow hairs either but I could be wrong.

4.  Crazy Fighting Stamina –  It drives me crazy when a hero in an action scene, gets shot, punched, kicked and slapped several times and keeps fighting as fiercely after 15 minutes as he did when he started.  Chances are, if someone gets shot, they are down.  Maybe not dead but definitely hindered.  Die Hard is a perfect example.  How many times does Bruce Willis get punched, shot, body-slammed and head-butted and still carries on with wild intensity.   No way.

5.  TURN ON THE LIGHT! –  I always wonder why the main character in a suspense thriller, never turns on the light when s/he is searching for strange noises in the dark.  Seems like a no-brainer to me.   I find myself screaming at the protagonist to TURN ON THE LIGHT!.  I mean come on, that’s a stupid move.  I turn on lots of lights even when I’m just home by myself let alone when I hear a strange noise and want to investigate it.  Maybe that’s just me.

6.  Real Life Soundtrack – Music certainly can enhance a film and help to set the tone of any particular scene.  I find it disappointing in real life, that a soundtrack is not playing overhead to give me cues to perhaps in-suing danger or something uplifting to build inspiration.  When my husband walks through the door, certainly we should hear “Take my Breath Away” right?  Or when I am getting ready for a night on the town shouldn’t I hear “I Feel Like a Woman” by Shania Twain?

What are some of your “Unbelievable” movie cliches?

 

 

8 “FUN” Things

FUN
FUN

Continuing with “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin, she talks about “Finding Fun”. It got me thinking about what I find fun. I know how I feel when I am HAVING fun but I can’t say as I have ever consciously thought about what it is that I seek out when I go in pursuit of “HAVING FUN”.  With intentional thought, I created this list of 8 things I find fun (as of March 2015 – it is ever-changing and evolving):

8.  Crafting – I don’t like to make all crafts but I do particularly like to make cards or creative ways to give simple gifts.  My mom is a crafter too and so it’s even better when the 2 of us can get together and share resources, ideas and time.  A pot of tea is often a must-have for a good crafting session.

DIY Money Jar Gift
The Money Jar

7.  Travel Adventures – I love to visit new places near and far.  Experiencing something for the first time is exhilarating.  Sometimes you find something so wonderful that you put it on a list to come back to in order to experience it more thoroughly or differently another time.

6.  Girls Night/Day – As a wife and mom, I’ve discovered the awesomeness of time spent with the girls.  I live with all boys so sometimes it’s the estrogen factor.  Just being in the company of other women is enough to just feel fun because it’s different.  Sometimes, it’s just nice to have a conversation with another adult who is not my husband.  I feel with my girlfriends I don’t even have to speak and they just get me without any explanation.  I find it fun just to not have to work to be understood.

Girls Night Out
Girl Friends

5.  Board Games – Great memories of times spent with family revolve around board games.  I love games.  I thought at first it was the competition but when I thought about all the solitary games I loved to play I decided it was the challenge.  Even better to work through challenges with teammates.  Not only is the challenge good for the brain but there are usually lots of laughs which exercises the soul.

4.  Social media – Social media blows my mind.  I can’t believe how many connections you can make, relationships you can start and things you can learn by tapping into the vastness of social media.  I am taking a Social Media Marketing program and the more I learn about it the more enthralled I become.  I find the philosophies, possibilities and the speed of it, fascinating.  Sometimes, I get caught between embracing it and fearing it for I think it can be powerful whether used for good or bad.  Of course, I strive to use its power for good.

3.  Genealogy – I compare it to treasure hunting.  There is always a map in the form of your family tree and you never know what information or artifacts it will lead to.  I have been known to spend a nice quiet day on a weekend, travelling to cemeteries to look for resting places of my ancestors.  I’m sure if you are not interested in genealogy, that might sound boring or creepy but I know there are other genealogists out there that will agree that this is a super fun way to spend a day.

Genealogy, Ancestory
Noel Ancestors

2.  Outdoors – Spending time with Mother Nature is a wonderful “fun” thing.  It can take on so many different shapes for me.  Sometimes, it’s a hike through a conservation area with my boys, a boat ride on the lake in the summer or quietly resting on a river bank reading a book.  I can’t forget camping, canoeing, fishing, swimming or bird watching.  Just about anything that I can do that requires me being a part of the outdoors is what I would call “fun”.  Although, I must admit, add rain to any of those and the “fun” factor is gone for me.  I’d have to shift to sitting on the covered deck, especially during a brilliant thunder storm, with a glass of red wine.

Oscars, The Movies
Let’s Go to The Movies

1.  Watching Movies – What can I say?  I LOVE movies.  I love going to the theatre to watch movies, or staying at home.   I find it extra fun to stream a movie on the laptop and use a DVP to project the movie on to the wall so it’s like a theatre at home.  The ULTIMATE in movie watching, is project the movie on to the side of the house on a beautiful summer’s eve and have a home version of a drive-in.  No movie is complete without popcorn and a coke (in my opinion).  I find movies fun to watch by myself and even more fun to watch with friends and family.  One of my favourite events throughout the year is the Oscars.  I try to watch as many of the Oscar-nominated films as I can each year to see how well I predict the winners.

What is it that you find fun?  Actually, thinking about what you find fun can be fun. 🙂

Playoff Time for the Norwich Merchants – A Special Team


The Norwich Merchants


It’s hockey play-off time in Canada and it’s Friday night.  You know what that means … (or maybe you don’t if you’re not from around these parts) there will be a hockey game somewhere to watch either live or on television.  My family can be a stereotypical Southwestern Ontario family in that we love our hockey.  And in our Oxford County community, our Merchants are in a “do-or-die” playoff situation tonight against New Hamburg.

The Merchants and I have a special relationship.  At several points in my life’s journey, I have been connected to this Junior “C” hockey team.  Here’s how:

1.  As one of  the few female ice resurfacing machine operators (The Olympia) in the Township of Norwich, I used to clean the ice for the Merchant games.  This was one of my favourite jobs of all time.  I loved waving at the kids in the crowd, being a part of the hockey experience and having the community all together in one place showing their community spirit.  And just driving the machine itself felt very empowering.  That’s a lot of machinery to be trusted to one small person.  It was fantastic.  Not-to-mention, it makes for some great interview ice breakers since this fact is on my resume.

2.  I met the man I married working for the Township of Norwich at the Community Centre/Arena.  In fact, he trained me to operate The Olympia for the prestigious Merchant games.  I regret that I never got a picture of myself driving it.  I do, however, have this picture with my husband and I on it.  We were only dating at the time. #SickeningSweet

Myself and The Boyfriend (currently husband)
Myself and The Boyfriend (currently husband)

3.  The Merchants trainer, Mark, was my boss while I worked at the Community Centre/Arena.  He could tell you some scary stories about some of the mistakes I made learning to drive the Olympia.  He’s part of the reason I’ve been able to move forward in my career.  He must have told a few good lies as a reference, to a few of my employers along the way; to which I am very grateful. (front row, second from left)

2013-2014 Norwich Merchants
2013-2014 Norwich Merchants

4.  My brother-in-law, Jason, was a former Assistant Coach for the Merchants. (in above: front row 3rd from right) Those were some exciting times to be cheering on the team with a relative on the bench.  It became a regular night out for the family since my parents, my sister’s family and me and my family, would have a reason to go out together.

5.  My nephew, Sawyer, was selected to be a “Mini-Merchant” for a game.  This meant he got to put on the jersey, skate to the centre of the ice and hold the flag for the National Anthem.  Another reason for the families to come together.

Sawyer as the Mini-Merchant
Sawyer as the Mini-Merchant

6.  My son’s, Noah, and Sawyer’s rookie minor hockey team, got to play an exhibition game during an intermission for a Merchant game.  This meant that they not only played, but, got to hang out with the “Big Boys” in their dressing room before they went out.  They each felt very special to be buddied up with a Merchant of their own.  My son even made sure he got a hat signed by all the players afterwards.  He just took the hat for show-and-tell this week.  He is still feeling very proud of those moments.  Those guys made some significant impressions that night.  I hope they know the magnitude of their influence.  #SmallTownHeroes

The Big Bro's and Lil Bro's
The Big Bro’s and Lil Bro’s

 

As you can see, the Merchants show up in a few key spots of my life’s journey.  So here’s a little shout out to this special team!   #GoMerchantsGo!!

 

 

Being Vicki

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

I love to read. One of the books that I have revisited is “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin. I’m not that far into it but every word I have read has resonated with me and so I am engaged and inspired.  I am currently reading the “March” chapter about aiming higher and on page 72 she mentions her 1st commandment, to “Be Gretchen” and went on to say that Erasmus observed “The chief happiness for a man is to be what he is”.

What am I?  I believe it’s important to know what makes me happy, it’s a BIG part of what makes “me” me and what makes you happy makes “you” YOU.  As I was pondering my “me”ness, it occurred to me, “That’s what my blog is about” because I had so much difficulty defining what this blog was going to be or be about.  I wanted to create a blog as a therapeutic activity but also wanted to reach people.  As I continue on my “blog journey” and my “Happiness Project”, I realize this is about “Being Me”, “Being Vicki”.  It doesn’t matter if I don’t have a “niche” or that I’m not following “protocol”.  It’s time for me to be “me”.  To share what makes me happy, to provide inspiration for others who may relate, or may not, but just want to escape.  I will share what I want, when I want and if you would like to check in on my journey, please do.  If you don’t, that’s okay too.  Or maybe you just want to be here one time, or two, and that’s it.  Great!!!!  Thanks for stopping by.  If you like what I say or you don’t; wonderful!  If you hate this and it’s not your cup of tea and choose to move along looking for something that brings happiness to you because this DOES NOT, awesome – you are discovering you or pursuing you and that is so amazing.  But for me, I need to spell out what makes me happy because at the end of the day, I am the only person who I know completely and totally (or at least that’s what I’m figuring out).  I know what I feel, what I like, what I want, what I hate, what makes me cry, what makes me quiver and so on… NO ONE ELSE.  I need to BE VICKI!

Being Vicki…

I am…(and this won’t be all one post because as humans, we grow, we change, we have new experiences. For today, this is a start…)

Being Me
Being Me
  • a ginger
  • born, raised and live in Southwestern Ontario
  • crazy about my 2 sons!
  • an advocate for ADHD – someone very close to me is ADHD and he needs a lot of advocacy
  • married to a great husband who drives me crazy most of the time: either crazy in love or just plain “CRAZY”
  • one diagnosed with the Mood Disorder of Depression
  • a believer that life should be full of “memories” not necessarily “things” although sometimes “things” can lead to great “memories”

This is just the beginning.  What makes you, You?

Great Canadian Backyard Skating

Skating Fun
Skating Fun

Many of you reading this post are Canadian (based on site stats). Skating and many other winter sports are familiar to you. When I mention skating on the backyard rink, the majority of you fellow Canucks will smile and nod as you remember times growing up spending countless hours outside in the bitter cold, skating around a pond or homemade rink, playing hockey or just perfecting your triple salchow.

Some of you though, will explore this post with wonder. “Skating?” you might think, “On your own backyard rink?  That’s interesting. I can imagine it though. You put on skates, get dressed in your warm attire and skate”.

Not that easy I’m afraid. Did you know there is a whole, “behind-the-scenes” world that happens before you even think about hitting that ice?

Getting Dressed for Winter
Getting Dressed for Winter

First, you must put on the long underwear. On its own, it’s amazing. It is form-fitting, soft, warm and comfortable. Then, you have to add the outerwear; usually jeans but maybe sweats. With this addition, you may feel a bit stiff but still ready to go. You should have an undershirt, T-shirt and sweatshirt on by this point and feeling very warm. Now you can head for the door because you are ready for the outside gear. Put on the snow pants and winter coat. This is where the feeling of claustrophobia sets in and you might feel like Gingy from Shrek with no hope of bending limbs in order to move with any kind of grace.  With the understanding of the Canadian winter, you cannot leave the house without a hat and perhaps facial gear if it’s a particularly cold day with temperatures lower than -10.  Gloves or mittens are necessary for the hands or you will most likely lose feeling to the digits within minutes.  After all this, you may be inclined to shout “YES” because you have equipped yourself with the paraphernalia necessary for conquering the Canadian winter.  You grab the doorknob with both mitten-clad hands and with all your strength you manage to turn and release it so that the door opens to the magnificent, jewel-sparkled, refreshing, white outdoors.  “Canadian ice, here I come”, you think.  But before you take the first step past the threshold you realize, “Dang it!  I haven’t got my skates on”.

Almost Ready
Almost Ready

This is where the real work begins.  Skates typically come with freakishly long laces that criss-cross, then cross and criss-cross again about a thousand times.   This means you have to pull each criss-cross loose to release the tongue in order to fit your sock-swollen foot into the boot of the skate.  Keep in mind, unless you have skate guards over the blades, you cannot just put your skate-clad foot on to any surface for risk of cutting through the floor if it’s hardwood or laminate, or dulling the blades if it’s concrete or asphalt.  You must choose an appropriate surface or have a towel/mat to put down to protect both blades and surface-material.

Don't Forget the Skates
Don’t Forget the Skates

Don’t forget you are bulked up beyond belief to combat the low outdoor temperatures so bending over to do all this lace-up work is next to impossible.  Sometimes, you have to bring in reinforcements to help with the job.

Help! I can't get my skates on!
Help! I can’t get my skates on!

When that’s all done though, you are pretty much ready.

Ready to Go!
Ready to Go!

Grab your hat, balaclava, scarf, mitts and anything else you need to ensure defence against the elements.  Again, if you don’t have skate guards you’ll need a path of mats, towels, cardboard or other “safe” material to get to the rink but you’re ready for the fun.  The only thing to worry about once you hit the ice is staying upright.  ENJOY!

 

Hockey on the Outdoor Rink
Hockey on the Outdoor Rink

2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 990 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 17 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.