Jody Vance

Poor Ivanka? – by Jody Vance

Getty Images: Mark Wilson

Let me begin here: I’ve never considered purchasing Ivanka brand – anything – ever.

As we all hang on for our “dear-mental-health-lives” in this constant tornado of Trump — I ask you: is it weird that I actually find myself feeling sorry for Ivanka?

What I mean by that is I feel sorry for her like I would feel sorry for a Sea Org kid who has no clue what he/she signed up for.  How putting pen to paper on that “Billion Year contract” with The CoS means cult for life.  Does Ivanka need a Leah Remini moment?

Sure, like you, I see Ivanka’s smug “pseudo first-ladylike” smiles, and cringe a bit.  It makes me kinda…..nauseous….to be honest, but somewhere deep down I feel as though Ivanka needs rescuing.

Does Ivanka realize what she’s hooked her wagon to? Does she actually want all of this?  Maybe she’s trying to save a shred of dignity for her family name?  (I want to think that is her motivation) Or, she’s been caught in this storm, since birth, and doesn’t know any different?

At the root, I find myself trying to imagine what her life has been like – even with millions of dollars – I can’t imagine it’s all that pretty “Being Trump”.

Think about this: Donald Trump is her Father.  E v e r y  d a y.

You can pick your friends, you can pick your nose….but…, would she really pick Donald Trump to be her father? Is she treading water with this man, is she “keeping her enemies closer”? Consider how we’ve all had a clear glimpse of how Trump operates when faced with even the slightest bit of push-back.  Never to be challenged, never to be told no — never EVER to be told he’s wrong.

He’s like an evil, and orange, version of The Fonz.  (with all due respect to Fonzie, who I love)

Let’s consider just a couple of highlites of Ivanka’s upbringing….

This woman was a mere 9 year old when her parents had their uber public split, she witnessed one of the ugliest divorces in history of socialites.  Can you imagine, watching the photos of “Dad” romping with Marla Maples fly across the NY Post front page – while Mom holds it together on the home-front??  Add to that to have her mother actually accused her father of forcing himself on her, sexually.  It’s all been sweep, sweep, sweep, under the rug.  It’s a horror story of the Rich and Famous.

No amount of money can erase these awful truths.  No amount of celebrity. No amount of global power.

Is it just me, or does Ivanka seem to be a bit — what’s the word — assimilated?  Like The Borg in Star Trek The Next Generation.  Ya, I said it, LIKE THE BORG.

Certainly she has benefited from the money, and status, over the course of her highly entitled upbringing.  She’s the “favourite daughter” – the one to walk in his footsteps.  The one with the successful Husband (real estate developer and now senior advisor to the President) Jared Kushner. They look quite step ford, very Ken and Barbie, plastic, trained.  Dead behind the eyes.  It’s creepy.

Are we missing their signals? Do they need rescuing?

Ya, maybe not….but I do ponder these things.

Finding the silver lining in this Trump Tornado, does make one appreciate the simple life.  The vacuuming that needs doing — the dishwasher that needs emptying, the dogs that need to be run in the pouring rain….

The White Spot for dinner – ya, that is tonight’s dinner plan.  My kid’s gonna love the surprise before swimming and the lack of paparazzi.



Pull Up a Chair, Comment -> Here ( 4 Comments In Post )
Kristina Matisic

Paws for a Cupcake? – by Kristina Matisic

9 Reasons Why You Should Get Involved in
National Cupcake Day™

National Cupcake Day™ is a cross-country fundraiser where animal lovers are encouraged to bake cupcakes and give them away in exchange for a donation. The money goes towards preventing animal cruelty and helping animals that have been abused, abandoned or neglected.

The event takes place on February 27th but we’re encouraging everyone to fundraise all month long. Proceeds go to SPCAs and participating Humane societies across Canada.

Before you say you’re too busy, you’re on a diet or you don’t bake, hear me out.

Here are nine reasons why I think you should get involved:

1) The state of the world is kind of sucky at the moment. This is an easy way to do some good.

2) You don’t have to train for a month to take part. (Though kudos to anyone who does!) Instead of walking, running or riding to raise money, here, you’re baking cupcakes.

3) You love animals. I see you out there, you can’t walk by a dog or a cat without petting them. You want to help those poor critters who are abused and neglected by their so-called guardians. We’re heard so many of those terrible stories lately.

4) Baking cupcakes is super easy. Trust me, I’m no pro baker. If I can do it, so can you.

5) Shortcuts are entirely permissible. Say yes to cupcake mix and premade frosting or to buying your cupcakes. It’s not about how well you bake.

6) It’s a fun thing to do with your kids on a rainy (or snowy!!) day.

7) For those still maintaining their resolutions, you don’t even have to EAT the cupcakes. You can donate directly to someone who has registered. (I will happily accept your donations. Just search under “participant.”)

8) You’ll be able to cross off “giving back” on your 2017 to-do list.

9) “Baking” a difference will make you feel great!

So, how do you go about this? Some ideas:

– Have a Cupcake Day party at home and encourage friends and family to drop by.
– Host a Cupcake Day party at work, encouraging everyone to bring cupcakes and a few bucks for donations.
– Ask your school if you can have a cupcake day party in the classroom.
– Forgo the party and delivery cupcakes to your donors.
– Donate directly to someone who is already registered as a host.

To learn more, to register, or to donate go to

Happy baking!

– Kristina Matisic, avid animal lover, mediocre baker, spokesperson for National Cupcake Day™

Pull Up a Chair, Comment -> Here ( No Comments )
Adopt A Pet, Kristina Matisic

Pet of the Week! – by Kristina Matisic


Hi, my name is Dede and I’m a curious and active one-year-old bunny. I may seem shy at first but I do like the odd pet.  And even though I’m not super cuddly, I have a lot of other great qualities. I’m quite entertaining!  And isn’t that what you want out of a rabbit? 😉
I’m super good with my litter box which means I make an excellent house rabbit, if I do say so myself. I like lots of exercise and toys to chew, play with, and fling. (I told you I was entertaining.)
I wouldn’t mind joining a family with older children or one that’s a bit rabbit savvy.  As for other rabbits in the house, that could be cool as I have been spayed. So no worries about my posse growing!
I’ve been at the Richmond SPCA for three months now and would so love to find a forever home!
Pull Up a Chair, Comment -> Here ( 1 Comment )
Jody Vance

Broken Promises – by Jody Vance

Vanity Fair: Jonathan Becker

Justin Trudeau’s back-track on the promise to end “First past the post” elections in Canada, is weak. 

He promised.

He campaigned on being “deeply committed” to it.

The Video says it all.  He promised to make “every vote count”… “restore democracy” — to “fix what is broken”.  Wednesday he said, via newly appointed Democratic Institutions minister Karina Gould, that he’s changed course because Canadians don’t want to change the system. 

No one asked me, did they ask you?  Which Canadians? I think the landslide of Liberal votes that promise garnered spoke on behalf of Canadians, didn’t it? 

If you search “Electoral reform – Liberal Party of Canada”, this short cut comes up in the search:

Electoral reform – Liberal Party of Canada

We will make every vote count. We are committed to ensuring that 2015 will be the last federal electionconducted under the first-past-the-post voting system.

(Open the webpage and all references to this promise have vanished.)

Am I surprised? No.  Am I miffed? Yes.  Do I think he’s a liar? No, not really….I think he’s a politician who — like so many before him — say whatever needs to be promised to get elected. 

Back to the announcement on Wednesday.  I watched it all Live on CBCNN.  The reaction to the back-track was swift. 

I sat, rather stunned, as NDP Minister Nathan Cullen stepped out of Chambers and outright called the Prime Minister of Canada “a liar”, in so many words, it struck me as remarkably Un-Canadian.  Do we do that now? Is that the government we want to show the world?? That within our country we call our PM a liar? 

Where are politics going? Are we becoming the lowest common denominator? Are we destined to continue to follow the US to new levels of low?

Federal Green Party Leader, Elizabeth May, handled it with aplomb.  She’s clearly, and rightfully, pissed off, but she kept it cool-Canadian.  Ms. May spoke her mind about the issue of “first past the post” back-peddle as well as the “feminist Prime Minister who threw two, young female cabinet ministers under the bus.”.  I’ve always had such great respect for Elizabeth May and her mission to give her party a voice in this country…..hers is the party that would certainly benefit most from changing the electoral system in Canada to an “every vote counts” scenario.  

I’d like to be able to vote in an election where I did not need to do so “strategically”, I’d like my vote to be just that….. ONE VOTE for the leader I support.  Imagine that….oh wait, we did imagine it, in 2015.


In the current global political climate, I’m finding it difficult to slight the Canadian Government for much.  I remain so grateful that we aren’t facing what our neighbours to the south are.  

Pull Up a Chair, Comment -> Here ( 3 Comments In Post )
Jody Vance

Learning from History – by Jody Vance

Getty Images: Peter Langer

My Mom was born in Dubrovnik, her sister in Copenhagen. Their parents, my maternal grandparents shared in that heritage, my Grandmother the Dane — Grandfather the Yugoslav.

We have deep European roots and have reflected that here in Canada.

This is not an immigration blog — believe it or not, this is about having grown up watching a “change of Government” change a country remarkably quickly.

My Mom first took us to Europe in 1975. It was a magical trip.  Family, friends, THE FOOD, all of it was remarkable — and such a learning experience for my brother and I.

I had my 8th birthday in Copenhagen.  A beautifully spotless, not to mention safe, metropolitan city – Mom let us free-range.  We had been taught just enough Danish to get by.

On top of learning that Copenhagen had the best Playland (Tivoli Gardens) and the best hot-dogs EVER (Pölsa), we learned Denmark was so organized, so clean/safe/beautiful because of “very high taxes.” and great government.

We soaked up seeing that “1/2” of our heritage and were excited to explore the other 1/2.

Off to the warm and beautiful, but Communist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, where we would “likely need to line up for gasoline.”, the adults forewarned.

After an epically beautiful, 2-night, train ride to Zagreb …. and ridiculously long/hot/scary-cliff-hugging bus ride to our destination, we arrived in Herceg Novi, Yugoslavia — near Dubrovnik.

Our massive extended family rolled out the slavic red carpet — my Grandfather’s arrival, the eldest son, garnered a hero’s welcome.  We were whisked away to the family compound.

Not fancy, it was rustic and hearty.  “Over there” is where 95 year old Nana was born (a stone structure).  “Over there” is the main house, with the open kitchen, that never stops baking/cooking/frying/doing. “Over there” was “our house”, on the far side of the massive vegetable garden.  (think: classic yard veggie garden x 20 .. home to the best tomato I’ve ever eaten….and onion you could eat like and apple.)

Yes, we quickly confirmed that indeed gas was lined up for.  Add to that: the handful of grocery stores were lean on stock, at best.  The people of Yugoslavia lived at the whim of the government.

While there were “big fancy hotels” near by, we would forage for our food – literally.  Diving for octopus, pulling mussels from rock faces or fishing – coupled with plucking veggies from the family garden for the side dishes.  Our aunt Maria made delicious bread each morning.

We were immersed, there for the better part of a month.  No tv’s, clearly long before cell-phones and wifi, we spent the evenings sitting around a fire pit, under grapevines, listening to/telling stories.  I alway had the prime spot: my Grandfather’s lap.

It was there that I overheard countless stories of the Yugoslav communist government ruled, with an iron fist, by Pesident Josip Broz Tito. Tito was appointed President “for life” in 1963.  He was far from perfect, but somehow he kept peace in a place where Serbs and Croats  insisted on continuing their religious war. “Most don’t even know what they are fighting about anymore, they are just taught to hate.” (For the record, if you asked my Grandfather if he was “Serb or Croat” he would push out his chest and answer “I. Am. Yugoslav”.)

Tito was both loved and hated by his people.

That stayed with me.

From Wikipedia:

“According to official statistics, from the 1950s to the early 1980s, Yugoslavia was among the fastest growing countries, approaching the ranges reported in South Korea and other miracle countries. The unique socialist system in Yugoslavia, where factories were owned by workers and decision-making was less centralized than in other socialist countries may have led to the stronger growth. However, even if the absolute value of the growth rates was not as high as indicated by the official statistics, both the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia were characterized by surprisingly high growth rates of both income and education during the 1950s.”

When Tito died in 1980, the unrest came quickly. Ethnic tensions were at the centre of the storm.

My Grandfather passed away in 1985, he didn’t see the brutal war fought between Serbs and Croats, destroying his stunning jewel – the walled ancient city of Dubrovnik, and for that our family was thankful.  As a Yugoslav, he would have been crushed by the spectacle that was this “Post-Tito Era”.

That era was smudged with shame thanks, in no small part, to Slobodan Milošević who eventually took the reigns of the Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia.  What unfolded under his rule is nothing short of shocking.  Ultimately, the world would see him charged with war crimes including genocide, and crimes against humanity, in 1999.  After Milošević resigned from the Yugoslav presidency – amid demonstrations – he was arrested by Yugoslav Federal authorities on suspicion of corruption, abuse of power, and embezzlement.  That was March 31, 2001. (not all that long ago!)

The Yugoslavs, who were crushed by the political changes there between 1980 and 1999, were not ignorant to the dangerous dynamic growing in their midst over that time — but they were powerless to stop it.

Yes that leader was ultimately punished, but the damage was beyond comprehension. Unfixable for millions.

So, as we look on with grave concern over the massive changes taking place in the USA we must be diligent in our actions and reactions to the power-plays.  We must use all available resources, and our collective global voices, to hold accountable those seemingly drunk with power.  The Coup that more and more appears to be unfolding before our eyes is frightening.  The US government inner circle is shrinking, the infrastructure created to add checks and balances to constitutional laws are being eroded.  This is a loud call to all of us – as a global society – to not loose site of the true impact history shows us this will have, long term.

Pull Up a Chair, Comment -> Here ( 2 Comments In Post )
Kathy Woodgate

I am a refugee – by Kathy Woodgate

I’m a refugee.

I was 13 years old when my parents escaped Poland, days before martial law was declared. Days before military tanks moved in to impose nightly curfews.

My parents planned the escape for months knowing what they needed to do to keep us safe. Instead of promised Italian vacation we ended up in Vienna, Austria declaring refugee status at a local police station. We were transported to a refugee camp in  Traiskirchen. We spent a year with thousands of other refugees seeking safety and peace. A year of sleeping in military bunk beds without bedding in a room smaller than my current kitchen. A year of communal washrooms infested with rats. A year of eating disgusting  meals from a metal dish. A year without school. Traiskirchen was nick named the Hilton of all refugee camps. The most ‘luxurious’ of them all and the last stop before the final ‘placement’. Placement in THE promised land. Our promised land turned out to be Canada (thank goodness!). After a long flight we arrived in Montreal. None of us knew English or French. The adults were apprehensive, children were tired and scared. I cannot imagine being DENIED entry to my new home.

My story is nothing comparing to the stories of others. Stories compared to refugees escaping war zones. Stories of refugees spending YEARS in refugee camps with horrific inhumane conditions. But it is my story. Today I’m sitting in my beautiful home with my beautiful family. We are safe. We are healthy and happy. Today I am heartbroken for all refugees who are affected by Trump’s executive order. I am horrified about the consequences of his idiocy.

I am a refugee.

Kathy Woodgate is a life-long friend of mine.  I remember we met in our very early 20’s and her Polish accent was thick.  She told tales of her travels and has always been driven to be a great Canadian.  A parent, a professional and a refugee.

Pull Up a Chair, Comment -> Here ( 5 Comments In Post )
Adopt A Pet, Kristina Matisic

Pet of the Week. – by Kristina



Hi! My name is Lorice and I’m a six year old female Formosan Mountain Dog. Exotic, don’t you think? I’m a gentle loving cuddle bug looking for a home where I can just snuggle in, watch movies with you and relax.
I have a deformed front paw but I don’t let this stop me. I also need to lose a few pounds (don’t we all!) so I need to be encouraged to exercise. Right now I’m loving hydro therapy (swimming).  When it comes to getting in and out of, or on and off things, my guardian may need to give me a bit of a boost.
I’d be happy in a home with another calm dog who doesn’t bug me too much. I could also handle a chill kitty.  But my ideal home probably won’t have young kids because I can be a bit fearful of sudden movements.
Even though I’m shy off the bat, I warm up quickly and become quite a goofball. I love tummy rubs so much that I’ll paw you for more. I’d so like to find my loving forever home!
For more information about me please contact the Burnaby BC SPCA.
Pull Up a Chair, Comment -> Here ( 1 Comment )
Tom Hallick

Be there #BellLetsTalk. – by Tom

Today is Bell Let’s Talk Day. This one is more than a little emotional for me.

I have a dear friend who is bi-polar and on top of that battles Type 2 Diabetes.

Last June, she was at a very, very low point. So much so. She was troubled about circumstances in her life. she called me & told me she was contemplating downing a bottle of pills. And I told her, don’t you dare, or words to that effect. Also, I asked if she wanted me to come over to her home and talk to her. She said no. At the time, I was at a baseball game and she lived across the bridge from the park and I’d have been there like a shot.

Continue Reading

Pull Up a Chair, Comment -> Here ( No Comments )