Virtually real- Virtuellement vraie

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

Do you arrive empty-handed? June 30, 2015


When invited to someone’s home for a meal, a party, a cocktail, an event, even if the host/hostess tells you that you don’t need to bring anything, do you arrive empty-handed?

As a rule, I always bring something. If I am not required to contribute a dish in a pot-luck setting, and am not asked to bring my own wine, I still bring an extra bottle for the hosts, something I have baked, flowers, a kitchen gadget, some artfully arranged and colorful dishcloths, a book, a toy for the family pet, something!

When I receive guests, I am surprised to see that I usually get nothing, except from one or two close friends who always bring something nice. I don’t entertain very often. My house is small and it’s difficult to find a date when my husband is at home and not out riding his motorcycle and our potential guests are available to come over. I also cherish my privacy and quiet time. But when I do, I can plan, prepare and serve a kickass brunch for 10, supper for 8 and the food will be good, the table will be beautiful, everyone will eat at the same time, their meal will be hot and there will be plenty for everyone.

And yet I usually receive no hostess gift to thank me for my hospitality, my food, and the effort I put into making it an overall great experience.

Is the host/hostess gift a dying tradition? Has etiquette changed? Or do most of my guests simply not care?


When is it their turn? April 23, 2014

alonegirl,sad cute girl alone wallpapers (4)

So many times, I’ve been told to change my attitude, change my outlook, consider things differently, accept that so-and-so is “that way” and deal with it the best I can.

Although I do agree with this advice most of the time, and I know you can’t change others, you can only change yourself, I must admit that it gets old at times, just like the people who insist that a positive attitude will bring you only positive things all the time in life, the same people who think that illness and bad luck are brought on by negative thoughts (“it’s all in your head”). To some extent, this type of preaching can be exhausting. Not everyone brings on sickness or bad events by negative thoughts. If this was true, how do you explain babies who have cancer? Little children who are in horrible accidents? Mistreated animals?

It can’t always be that simple.

I am willing to work on myself, change my attitude, try to be patient and accepting and not let negative people or things affect me too much. But the thing is that I also believe that others must work on themselves, change their attitudes at times, be patient with me when I’m not okay or with others when they are not okay, and make efforts when their behaviour is having a negative effect on the people around them.

I won’t always make excuses for everyone else and just constantly be working on myself and letting others act however they want, as if I was the most flawed person in the universe and they are all right.

It doesn’t make sense.

There comes a time when you should expect at least SOME effort from others, part of the time.

This is where I am right now, and why I need to retreat a bit, perhaps to accept that this is just the way things are in life.

Step up, people! We’re all in this together. It’s time.


You’re gay? Well then I don’t love you anymore. April 6, 2013


I’m tired of hearing stories about people who stop speaking to friends or family members who come out to them as being gay. I’m sick and tired of hearing about how awful it is for the parents, siblings, etc.

 Have you ever considered how horrible it is to have to pretend to be what you are not in a society where there is still prejudice and violence and you feel that even the people who are closest to you, even your own parents, will no longer love you if you are honest and true to yourself and come out as a gay man or woman?

 This is the root of the problem, people. If this pressure and judgement did not exist, then gay and lesbian youths would stop pretending to be straight, entering into heterosexual relationships and marriages and then coming out much, much later and upsetting everyone, including their own children!

 How can you honestly say that you love your child and yet turn your back on that same child when he or she admits his true sexual orientation? How can prejudice and fear affect true love?

 It makes no sense. And as long as we don’t address the true root of the problem i.e. society’s prejudice, judgement and violence, there will continue to be heartache, sadness, tension and even the unthinkable. Wonderful, caring, loving men and women may turn to suicide because the people that they love most can’t get past petty judgement and fear.

Take a look at the real problem. Then make an effort to change.


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.


Stationary and Stationery – Good grammar, it’s hot! August 13, 2011

I think good grammar is important and attractive! As a VA, it is part of my job to notice grammar, spelling and the proper use of words. Common mistakes can do serious damage to an otherwise stellar reputation. Think about the image you project and proofread, do some research, look it up…or ask me!

Stationary and Stationery

Stationary and stationery are confused probably more by their similar spellings than by their definitions, which are quite different. The one-letter spelling difference in these two words makes them easy to confuse.

Stationary with an “a” means “not moving”: The dog lay stationary in the hot sun.

Stationery (with an “e”) refers to writing materials, usually paper.

A good way to remember the difference between the two is by associating the  “e” in stationery with envelopes, because envelopes are often used with writing materials.



Point d’exclamation. Exclamation point. April 28, 2011

L’usage abusif du point d’exclamation

Ou : comment détruire l’effet d’une belle ponctuation.

 J’aime l’écriture. J’aime les phrases bien construites, les mots et les effets qu’on donne à des textes. Je n’aime pas les gens qui abusent de la ponctuation comme s’ils subissaient des spasmes incontrôlables en arrivant sur une touche particulière de leur clavier.

Les gens qui utilisent les … comme s’il s’agissait d’une virgule ou pour remplacer toute autre ponctuation dans un texte, m’inquiètent. Les gens qui ajoutent trois, quatre, cinq, dix ou douze points d’exclamation à la fin de chacune de leurs interventions ou chacun de leurs courriels me font penser à des personnes hystériques qui font des crises debout sur leur bureau les deux poings fermés, tel un enfant qui n’obtient pas ce qu’il veut.

Le point d’exclamation sert à mettre de l’emphase sur un mot, une phrase, à souligner l’importance d’une affirmation ou une demande, à exprimer l’étonnement, l’indignation, le désaccord, la joie, etc.

Si vous en ajoutez une demi-douzaine à la fin de toutes vos phrases, vous tuez le pauvre point d’exclamation qui désormais ne veut plus rien dire pour moi.

Tout comme l’usage abusif du mot URGENT, mais ce sera pour un prochain billet de blogue.

Exclamation point abuse

Or: how to destroy the effect of perfectly good punctuation.

I love writing. I love well-crafted sentences, words and effects that can be given to our writing. I don’t like people who abuse punctuation as if they suddenly become spastic every time they hit a certain key.

People who use … as they would use a comma or in place of all other punctuation in a text actually worry me. People who add three, four, five, ten or a dozen exclamation points at the end of each intervention or e-mail make me think that they are hysterical individuals who have temper tantrums while standing on their desks with their fists in the air like a petulant child who doesn’t get what he wants.

The exclamation point is used to put emphasis on a word, a sentence, to express the importance of an affirmation or request, to express surprise, indignation, disagreement, joy, etc.

If you systematically add half a dozen exclamation points to the end of everything you write you essentially kill the punctuation that no longer has any meaning to me. 

This reminds me of the abusive use of the word URGENT, but I’ll touch on this subject in another blog entry.


Momentarily – Good grammar, it’s hot! April 10, 2011


Momentarily can have two meanings: (1) in a moment, or (2) for a moment.


  1. The food will be served momentarily.
  2. The meeting will adjourn momentarily.

Often the context will make it clear which meaning is intended (clearly food is not going to be served for just a moment), but sometimes the meaning can be ambiguous.  In looking at the second example above, one might question whether the meeting will adjourn for a moment or in a moment. To avoid confusion, be sure that your intended meaning is clear from the context, or simply substitute momentarily with “in a moment” or “for a moment.”

Which meaning of momentarily do you use most often?



Good grammar, it’s hot! Affect/Effect July 12, 2010

I think good grammar is important and attractive! As a VA, it is part of my job to notice grammar, spelling and the proper use of words. Common mistakes can do serious damage to an otherwise stellar reputation. Think about the image you project and proofread, do some research, look it up…or ask me!

Et la prochaine fois, je continuerai avec mes 10 règles de la nouvelle orthographe en français pour les lecteurs francophones.

I will share some basic rules and talk about common mistakes over the next few weeks.

Rule 2. Affect/effect

These words are often confused because of their related meanings but differing spellings.

Affect is a verb meaning “to influence.”

Effect can be both a verb and a noun. Its noun form is related to affect. (Its verb form, meaning “to accomplish” or “to put into operation,” has a different meaning and usage altogether.) In its noun form, an effect is the result of someone or something that is affecting another person or thing.

Here is an example:

Smoking affects health. The effect is lung cancer.

Affect is the verb causing the influence or change (on health). The effect is the result (lung cancer).


Good grammar, it’s hot! June 14, 2010

Although the younger generation seems to have forgotten how to spell correctly and their communication has morphed into some kind of bizarre Internet shorthand even when they are writing a note, a greeting card, or an essay, I think good grammar is important and attractive! As a VA, it is part of my job to notice grammar, spelling and the proper use of words. Common mistakes can do serious damage to an otherwise stellar reputation. Think about the image you project and proofread, do some research, look it up…or ask me!

Et la prochaine fois, je continuerai avec mes 10 règles de la nouvelle orthographe en français pour les lecteurs francophones.

I will share some basic rules and talk about common mistakes over the next few weeks.

Rule 1. Assure/Ensure/Insure

These words are often confused or misused. They are also just plain confusing. Here are some explanations to help you:

To “assure” a person of something is to make him or her confident of it. According to Associated Press style, to “ensure” that something happens is to make certain that it does, and to “insure” is to issue an insurance policy. Other authorities, however, consider “ensure” and “insure” interchangeable. To please conservatives, make the distinction. However, it is worth noting that in older usage these spellings were not clearly distinguished.

The verbs “assure”, “ensure” and “insure” all mean to “make certain or secure”.

A person assures (makes promises to, convinces) other people.

A person ensures (makes certain) that things occur or that events take place.

A person insures (takes the necessary measures to protect) things against financial loss.


  1. Don’t INSURE your car for every nick and scratch.
  2. “In real life, I ASSURE you, there is no such thing as algebra.” (Frank Lebowitz).
  3. Federal drug regulators need more power and money to ENSURE the safety of the nation’s drug supply.

I love systems/J’adore les systèmes January 23, 2010

I am a systems kind of person. I have always written notes, procedures, step by step reminders about things, even as a young girl, without realizing that I was creating and logging actual systems that worked for me.

I have to credit a wonderful VA colleague of mine and a colleague of hers also for giving me the opportunity to put a name on this method of working and to understand just how fabulous good systems are for a VA business, and any other business! They are also good for everyday life. In my home and office, I am queen of lists, systems and procedures in order to make life easier. Yes, sometimes people laugh at my lists and systems, but when it comes time to use them, they are amazed at how efficient I am and how well things go.

Systems help you do things with a smile and keep your cool.

Everyone should check this out and become a systems and list person like me!


Je suis une personne de systèmes et de procédures. J’ai toujours pris des notes, rédigé des procédures et des instructions détaillées, étape par étape, des rappels, même quand j’étais une toute jeune fille, sans réaliser que je créais en fait de véritables systèmes adaptés à mes besoins.

Je dois remercier une merveilleuse collègue AV et aussi sa collègue à elle de m’avoir donné l’occasion de mettre un nom sur cette méthode de travail et de comprendre à quel point les bons systèmes sont fantastiques pour une entreprise d’adjointe virtuelle et pour toute entreprise! Les systèmes sont bons aussi dans la vie de tous les jours. Chez moi et à mon bureau, je suis la reine des listes, systèmes et procédures qui rendent ma vie plus facile. Et oui, souvent on rit de moi et de mes listes mais quand vient le moment de s’en servir, les mêmes personnes qui se moquaient de moi sont toujours étonnés et heureux de constater à quel point mes procédures sont efficaces et pratiques.

Les bons systèmes vous aident à bien exécuter vos tâches tout en gardant le sourire et en restant calme et détendu.

Tout le monde devrait être une personne de systèmes et de listes, comme moi!