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Micheline Harvey: Virtual Assistant, real person/Adjointe Virtuelle, mais tout à fait vraie

Mich and Mum do Memphis or The Bucket List Trip September 13, 2016



August 11th 2016, 5 am departure, which means that Mum arrived the day before, and Mich desperately tried to go to bed at 9 pm and get at least a few hours of beauty sleep before getting on the road to travel the almost 2,400 km (one way) to FINALLY meet her King.


Mum and Mich get a choice seat on the bus that is definitely not as “Grand Luxe” as Mister François Reny (our tour guide)… who will now be known as Buddha, claimed in his publicity.


The bus is just okay. We are disappointed at the lack of leather seats, cup holders, charging stations and leg room. Autre bémol? Buddha asks the passengers NOT to use the bathroom. Uh, wait, we are driving to Tennessee and we can’t use the bathroom? Is this even legal? Should we have contacted human rights? It is agreed that they will have comfort stops every 2 hours, max. This would have been nice, and it was for a while, until Buddha started falling asleep all the time and snoring and rolling around his front seat and almost falling head first over the ramp and into the stairs or straight through the windshield. Nobody would attempt to wake him up, so the comfort stops started to get few and far between. Thank God, the bus driver is a rock star. And pretty cute, too.


First meal was at a Cracker Barrel restaurant. Best meal of the entire “road” part.


First stop – Toronto. Quick run around the base of a very impressively… um… erect CN Tower and Mich can’t stop thinking about off-color jokes and double-entendres, which would thoroughly scandalize her mother, so she keeps them to herself. Several photos later, they have a drink on a lovely terrace in downtown Toronto, and do some people-watching before the bus is due to leave.


Night 1 – Mississauga. Decent hotel, comfy bed. All our rooms have two Queen sized beds. YEAH. We are so tired at the end of the day that we just zonk out. Decent breakfast the next morning at the hotel and we hit the road again.


Rough road day, we drive through Detroit which is creepy and wonderful and impressive with its abandoned hotels, plants, homes, etc. Too fast to get any good pictures.


Night 2 – WKRP in Cincinnati! (Does anyone remember that show?) – Decent hotel, comfy bed, no water pressure. We hit Applebee’s, for a very late dinner.


On route to Nashville, we get to watch Elvis concerts and Elvis movies on the bus, and then Buddha talks a bunch of bullshit (name dropping) with several mistakes and wrong information (which drives Mich crazy!) and then he falls asleep. AGAIN. BO-RING!!!


There are 16 free seats on the bus, so the girls play “seat tag” and move around, stretch out their legs and get comfy, as do other passengers.


Night 3 – Nashville!!! During our stay, we hit Broadway where there is country music coming out of every door, we have the best hamburger in the universe (I’m not even kidding) and do some shopping. Mich gets a Cowboy hat! We visit the Country Music Hall of Fame and wander around downtown Nashville. Hunky cowboy bouncers at every door. Mich wanders around the city, looking for PK Subban and his purple cowboy hat.


Emotional moment number 1 – we visit RCA’s Studio B in Nashville and they play ARE YOU LONESOME TONIGHT for us, in the very studio where Elvis recorded it, with his X on the floor where he stood, and in complete darkness. Mich cries softly throughout the entire song, people keep asking her if she’s okay when they turn the lights back on. She swears she saw and felt Elvis standing right beside her, since she chose the chair beside the magical X on the floor, without even seeing it. The guide explained the significance of the X and of her chosen chair, later.


Quick dinner and then we go to the Grand Ole Opry where we see a 2-hour show featuring Vince Gill and friends. Mich is searching for Dolly Parton…


On the road again, destination Memphis!


We arrive in Memphis, drive around and see Mich’s Boyfriend’s high school, his first house in Memphis (he was born further South in Tupelo), his second house that he bought with the royalties from his Jailhouse Rock record, then we hit the rough parts of Memphis. Mich desperately wants to get off the bus to take pictures of the run down shacks and abandoned buildings, but they tell her it’s dangerous and she is kept inside. Dammit!


Then we hit Beale Street, blues music coming out of every door. We walk around, do some shopping and Mich drags Mum to a Blues Club with an outdoor courtyard featuring a live Blues band and… wait for it… an Irish Diving Goat! It must have been a drunk goat? Drinks and drinks later, Mich becomes a bit salacious with the Elvis life-sized statue in the park and Mum drags her off. Dammit. I only wanted to verify if he was really LIFE SIZED (ha ha ha).


Day 2 in Memphis, we have lunch at Gus’ Famous Fried Chicken. Very Southern comfort, but also very good. Mich gains 10 pounds in one sitting (not really, but it feels like it).


We visit Sun Studio where Sam Phillips’ secretary discovered a 19 year-old truck driving Elvis who walked in to make a $4 record for his mother. Mich gets to sit at the secretary’s desk and pretend Elvis just walked in to her office. Mich gets worked up again, so Mum drags Mich into the Studio and they take turns posing with Elvis’ authentic microphone.


The Studio visit was not included in the tour, but Mich insisted to Buddha that they could NOT miss this since they were already in Memphis! Buddha was insulted at her for questioning his planning, so our small group of rebels who wanted to visit the Studio were abandoned in downtown Memphis to talk 2 km back to the bus that was parked in front of the famous Peabody Hotel where the rest of the group went to watch the ducks take the elevator back up from the fountain… BO-RING!!! Ducks? Who cares about ducks?


Luckily, nothing bad happened, but let me remind you that we were walking in 34 Celsius heat in the South and it was humid. We are by the Mississippi River! Mich led the way, while the two men in the group insisted that she was going in the wrong direction and wanted to head in the opposite direction (toward the roughest part of town!). Mich was in the right direction and saved the day.


We had supper at BB King’s with another live blues band. Mich ate her ribs, downed her drink and then… as soon as the band started playing … she leaves her purse with Mum and hits the piste de danse with “Papa” and his wife (other members of our group)! Our waiter gave Mich two thumbs up.


Day 3 in Memphis,   the girls get beautiful because they are invited to Graceland!!!


We visit the house in the morning… and it is indescribable! WOW! Mich can see Elvis coming down the stairs from his still closed-up and private upper level area. She takes her slow sweet time visiting each room downstairs and then the offices, the trophy room, the music room, TV room jungle room (hell yeahhh!), and the gorgeous grounds. Elvis goes through, around and all over her. Mich is in heaven. Emotional moment number 2 – The grave. She falls to her knees in front of Elvis’ tomb with tears in her eyes. She puts a token from her office on the grave (small tiger figurine, because his karate nickname was Tiger) and spends several minutes on her knees (wishing Elvis was standing in front of her instead of being six feet under…!).


We then visit the private planes, the archives, the car museum, do some shopping and get a bite to eat.


Return to the hotel for a quick shower and change, food, and we return at night for the candlelight vigil to honor Elvis’ death.


Surreal experience, with Elvis Presley Boulevard closed to traffic, people building shrines along the street, Elvis impersonators right and left, and tons and tons of people holding candles. The girls deface Elvis’ stone wall with some private messages in permanent marker. When the dark comes, all you see is a sea of candles and all you can hear is soft Elvis slow tunes played from the speakers atop the stone gate. People speak in hushed tones, the atmosphere is very peaceful, very loving. Sadly, it starts to rain HARD, but we still make it up to the grave again, with our umbrella and an impromptu lovely girl from Cleveland who has no umbrella (total stranger) and stays tight with us under the umbrella until the end. We are soaked. Elvis wanted a  “Mich wet t-shirt vigil”, for sure!!!


Back to the hotel to dry off. By the way, during this entire day and night, Buddha is never with us and we find him sleeping on various benches throughout the day and evening. He sucks as a tour guide.


Day 4 in Memphis, we head out to Tupelo to see where Mich’s sweet baby was born. We meet the mayor and shake hands with him, we visit the shack where Elvis was born, his church, watch a short movie about his childhood and go to eat at his favorite snack bar. Mich gets to put her ass where Elvis put his ass, sit in his booth and recreate an iconic picture of Elvis in that very booth. We eat an Elvis burger, fries and have a root beer. Visit the park where he gave his free concert in 1957, the hardware store where he got his first guitar and his grade school.


Back to Memphis for days 5, 6 and 7.


We then hit the road to head home. First stop, Cleveland, then Niagara Falls where Mum gets to finally see this force of nature (Mich has done the Falls before). Plenty of photo ops, walks, a great meal and adventures in the kitschy part of NF and we visit Niagara on the Lake and head on home to Québec.


It was a great bucket list trip!


We finished the adventure by attending the Elvis Experience concert and I introduced Mum to the genius behind the Elvis. She was thrilled. Perfect ending to a very Elvis trip.


That is all, baby! Bucket list check!



Giving back February 9, 2014

Filed under: Family — matamich @ 1:33 pm
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It took 86 blood donors to help save my Cousin Cindy’s life.

An active and involved hockey mom and taxi mom with a regular job, who had always been in good shape, she never imagined that feeling tired and strange after going out for a short run with a friend would be the beginning of the scariest ride of her life.

Cindy needed a new liver, and time was running out. She slipped into a coma for 17 days. Her life was suspended as a team of healthcare professionals worked to save her, and as her Mom, her kids, her siblings and close family put their lives on hold to be there 24/7.

Now, three months later, Cindy has barely been home for a month after her ordeal and is giving back in her own special way. She has spent the week thanking donors at the mobile blood donor clinic, personally, and letting them know that their gesture is important and saves lives. She has also set a goal to convince and recruit at least 86 new donors to refill the blood bank and perhaps even surpass this goal, so that others can benefit from live-saving transfusions as well.

To me, this speaks volumes about the kind of people I am lucky enough to have in my family. It makes me proud, and it reminds me to do my part.

Give blood, it’s a life-saving gesture.


My cousin on New Year’s – Ma cousine au Jour de l’An January 3, 2014

Filed under: Family — matamich @ 9:19 pm
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My cousin on New Year's - Ma cousine au Jour de l'An

Happy New Year wishes from my hero cousin who has come a long way. Des souhaits de Bonne Année de ma cousine, qui a parcouru tout un chemin.


Courage, or my cousin Cindy. December 8, 2013

Filed under: Family — matamich @ 2:26 pm
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I hardly ever get to see my family in Nova Scotia. I am very thankful for Facebook and social media that keep most of us up to speed about our lives and give us the opportunity to communicate a little more often.

Last July, hubby and I took an impromptu road trip to P.E.I. to visit the island and have a little vacation. As we drove around and ended up standing at the ferry dock in Wood Island, I could see Nova Scotia on the other side. I knew that there was no way I couldn’t hop over for a visit, even just for a few hours!

So we took the ferry early the next morning and surprised my Nana, spent some time with my Aunt Joyce and Uncle Danny, visited Grampa’s grave and had a nice lunch in Pictou. As I was leaving Joyce and Danny’s, my cousin Cindy pulled up behind us. I was so happy to see her, give her a big hug and chat for a few minutes about our shared love of “creepy” things, movies, and stories, and so on.

Cindy and Mich

Little did I know, a mere few weeks later, I would receive the news that Cindy was fighting for her life and in need of an emergency liver transplant!

All the cousins and family lived through this crisis, hour by hour, day by day, asking for news, keeping informed, messaging each other, sending our energy, love and healing vibes. We were so afraid for her, but we all felt strongly that she would pull through. My cousin Cindy is a fighter. She recently decided to check a few things off her “bucket list” and jumped out of a plane (wearing a parachute, of course)! She rocks!

The waiting, the uncertainty, the need for an emergency liver transplant and all the time she was unconscious, semi-conscious, fighting complications, infections, going in and out of surgery was nerve-wracking for us all. I can only imagine how her mom, dad, siblings and kids felt through all this! I hope that they felt our love and support and that it helped keep them strong.

Now, several weeks later, we’ve had the joy of hearing news of important milestones: that Cindy was conscious, that she sat on the edge of her bed for a few minutes, that her brother made her a Halloween costume of the board game “Operation” out of a sheet, and she wore it on Halloween in her hospital bed, that she was feeding herself and complaining about all the fuss. That she took a few steps with a walker, went outside for a few minutes, laughed at our silly voice messages, talked via Facetime or just smiled for a picture or short video that was posted online just for us.

In a short few weeks, that may have seemed much longer for those who are very close to Cindy, we went from fearing that we’d lose her, to cheering her on as she overcame the odds and showed us all what she’s really made of. A roller coaster ride, for sure!

Through this, I realized once again how fragile life is, how everything can change very fast and how important good health is. Nothing should be taken for granted and no opportunity should be missed.

Everyone should start crossing things off the bucket list, like Cindy. She is an example. She is brave.


My daughter, my teacher September 16, 2012

Filed under: Family — matamich @ 5:07 pm
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My daughter is all grown up. From the baby I carried and gave birth to, protected and nurtured, cuddled, fed, hugged and kissed, kept warm and safe, to a toddler, a preschooler, a little girl, a teen with all the challenges along the way as I did my best to set a good example, today I realize that she is the one teaching me to live.

She moved out of the house amidst heartbreak and drama and moved to her father’s house, where she has more space and more independence, and less Mom.

She drives her own little used car everywhere she needs to go. She finds solutions to problems and new, unknown situations. She goes out, participates, she puts herself out there.

My daughter is much less of an introvert than I am. And, although I completely understand the meaning of being an introvert, and I know that it does not make me less of a person as many mistakenly believe, or as society has wrongfully led us to believe, I also know that for me, leaving my comfort zone is far more of a challenge.

Watching my daughter do it all, although she is much braver than I will ever be, I feel stronger, happier, and I push myself because if she can do it, then so can I!

And I tell myself, that if my daughter can teach me important lessons, then I must have done something right!


Housekeeping – my version vs. his version September 14, 2012

Filed under: Family — matamich @ 3:25 pm
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My version of weekly housekeeping: Dusting everywhere, wiping off surfaces, cleaning glass surfaces with special cleaner, dusting books, bookcases, etc. Vacuuming everywhere (includes moving things around to get to the corners, nooks and crannies). Washing floors, wiping down stair rails, dusting heating vents. Thoroughly washing BOTH bathrooms, including floors, tub, vanity, sinks, and toilets. Emptying out and cleaning trashcans. Stripping beds, washing and drying bedding, making beds. Disinfecting kitchen countertops and cooking surfaces, etc. etc.

Hubby’s version of weekly housecleaning (when I’m swamped with work, have to rush out of town or am very sick): Vacuuming upstairs without moving anything and without dusting first (he does not see why we should dust before we vacuum). Leaving the vacuum cleaner out in the middle of the floor for the next day or more unless I put it away. Promising to clean small upstairs bathroom but not getting around to it except maybe once every four to six weeks (if I’m lucky) but forget to clean the floor, washer/dryer. Completely ignore downstairs area, bedrooms and large bathroom.


Phone messages/messages téléphoniques July 11, 2012

Hubby arrives from an entire day golfing and having dinner with clients. It is 10 pm.

Me: “Hi. How was golf? Your friend G called looking for you. Did he reach you on your cell phone?”

Hubby: “No. Why did he call here? Did he want to talk to me?”

Me: “Um…no he was just randomly punching in phone numbers and called here for no reason. Of course he was calling here to talk to you. I just told you he called looking for you!”

Hubby: In an angry tone “Hmmmphhh! I ask questions like that to start up a conversation with you.”

Me: In my mind (Ya right. Conversation, my ass!).


Mari arrive d’une journée entière de golf et d’un souper avec des clients. Il est 22 h.

Moi : « Salut, comment a été ton golf ? Ton ami G a téléphoné, il te cherchait. Est-ce qu’il t’a joint sur ton cellulaire ? »

Mari : « Non. Pourquoi il appelait ici ? Est-ce qu’il voulait me parler ? »

Moi : « Heuh. Non, il composait sans doute des numéros de téléphone au hasard et il est tombé sur le nôtre. Bien sûr qu’il voulait te parler, je viens de te dire qu’il te cherchait ! »

Mari : avec un air fâché « Hmmmmmfff ! Je pose des questions du genre pour entamer la conversation avec toi. »

Moi : Dans ma tête (Ouais, bien sûr. Conversation, mes fesses !)


Job search/recherche d’emploi – Stuff my family says/Conversations de famille September 26, 2010

Filed under: Family — matamich @ 7:50 pm
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Mom: “Hey, teen, I’ll move Grownupmale’s truck so you can back the car out and go do your stuff.”

Teen: “SIGH. No, nevermind. I’ll ask Grownupmale to drive me when he gets back from his motorbike ride.”

Mom: “Okay, but he already told you he was not going up town.”

Teen: “I know. That’s why I’ll NEVER get a job.”

Mom: “Yeah, you should start practicing being homeless right now.”


Mère: « Hey, MissAdo, je vais déplacer la voiture de MâleAdulte afin que tu puisse prendre ma voiture et aller faire tes courses. »

MissAdo: « SOUPIR. Laisse tomber. Je vais demander à MâleAdulte d’aller me reconduire quand il sera revenu de son tour de moto. »

Mère: « Ok, mais il t’a déjà dit qu’il n’allait pas en ville. »

MissAdo: « Je sais. C’est pourquoi je n’aurai JAMAIS d’emploi. »

Mère: « En effet, tu devrais commencer à te pratiquer à être sans abri tout de suite. »


Housecleaning/Le Ménage – Stuff My Family Says/Conversations de Famille August 30, 2010

Filed under: Family — matamich @ 8:06 am
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Grownupmale : “SIGH. I’m bored. I don’t know what to do.”

Me: “Well, you can always help me clean the house.”

Grownupmale: *disappears into the shed and rides off on his bike without inviting me to join him*


MâleAdulte : « SOUPIR. Je m’emmerde. Je ne sais pas quoi faire. »

Mère: « Bien, tu peux toujours m’aider à faire le ménage de la maison. »

MâleAdulte: *disparaît dans le cabanon et pars sur son vélo sans m’inviter*


The Car/La Voiture – Stuff my family says/Conversations de famille August 17, 2010

Filed under: Family — matamich @ 9:37 pm
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Teen: “Are any of you driving up town this afternoon?”

Mom: “No, I’ve been up town three times this week.”

Teen: “SIGH…alright then. I will never get a job because you NEVER want to give me a ride.”

Mom: “Ask Grownupmale to move his truck and take my car.”


Mom: “Okay then.”

Teen: “SIGH GROAN. I guess I’ll never get a job then.”

Mom: “Well, you can always clean the house for me.”

Teen: *disappears into her room with loud angry music*


MissAdo: « Allez vous en ville aujourd’hui? »

Mère: « Non, ça fait trois fois que j’y vais cette semaine. »

MissAdo: « SOUPIR…bon d’accord. Je n’aurai jamais d’emploi car vous ne voulez JAMAIS me reconduire. »

Mère: « Demande à MâleAdulte de déplacer sa voiture et prends la mienne. »


Mère: « Ok. »

MissAdo: « SOUPIR. GÉMISSEMENT. Je suppose que je n’aurai JAMAIS d’emploi, alors. »

Mère: « Eh bien, tu peux toujours faire le ménage de la maison pour moi. »

MissAdo: *disparaît dans sa chambre et fait jouer de la musique très forte*