Confessions of a Street Walker – part 32

It is possible that you have seen a rather peculiar woman walking around the streets of Hamilton over the last six years. If you have, I hope you gave a wave…because I am she.

Just because I have not posted here for a while does not mean that I have stopped walking. I have been wandering down rural Ancaster and Dundas roads. I am trying to get as many in as I can before the dreaded Canadian winter decends upon us. I do so enjoy the fall colours.

out in the ‘boonies’

Fall has definitely arrived and with its cooler temperatures. I get to wear a jacket which is kind of nice because of the pockets. I end up dragging quite a bit of stuff along on my walks and during the summer I use a sort of fanny pack that has a slot for my water bottle. It reminds me of the 1960’s Batman and his trusty Bat Utility Belt which held all sorts of things – from grappling hooks to climb buildings to his ever so useful Batarang. While I have not required either of those I do need a place for a Ziploc bag in case it rains, Kleenex, usually some dried apricots, my encouragement rocks, my car keys and my cell phone. On country roads I also wear a high-vis vest.

I do not plan on walking on the country roads when they are wet and for sure not when there is snow piled up. When I walk on the shoulder I have to be prepared for oncoming traffic (thankfully a whole lot less than the city). So I will retreat to the city sidewalks closer to home. I do have a few streets to do because I did not get them done the first time through because they had not been built yet. My walks of Binbrook, Mount Hope and Ancaster show evidence of future roads. Large machines chewing up fields getting the land ready for sewer lines and the rest of the things that go into building roads and houses.

Mount Hope is going to get bigger, methinks

Come with me while I walk down Paddy Green Road.

Powerline Road East yet unpaved.
Quite quiet and peaceful

Powerline Road East and then right onto Paddy Green where I walked southish until I got to Jerseyville Road. There were some pretty epic trees along Paddy Green.

love the spots where the trees from either side of the road create a tunnel
some of them are pretty stressed
some one must have decided to put a chunk of concrete in the growing tree

I saw a crop growing and didn’t know what it was. I took a picture and posted it to my Facebook page asking friends to help solve the mystery.

mystery crop

There were a few really good guesses but the mystery was solved when my husband’s cousin’s daughter said she actually knew the farmer and that the crop was horseradish. Who knew? I didn’t.

But now I do. And so do you.

Confessions of a Street Walker – part 31

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It is possible that you have seen a rather peculiar woman walking around the streets of Hamilton over the last five years. If you have, I hope you gave a wave…because I am she.

My walking project affords me an interesting glimpse at the wildflowers of our area throughout the year. I confess that I have long had an interest in wildflowers and try to educate myself using one of my Audubon Field Guide or by asking Google. I can so easily appreciate God’s creation when it is so colourful and interesting. I am certainly not an expert but ask me sometime how well I shared my wildflower expertise with a group of Grade 5 students on a class trip. I don’t recall ever being asked to chaperone a class trip after that.

My walk this past Monday included a section of meandering down a short section of a local trail.  I typically stick to paved sidewalks and roads but sometimes a trail just calls. I decided to pay some attention to the flora. The Chippewa Rail Trail used to be a railroad line but is now a wonderful way to travel a good number of miles with a limited amount of road crossings. My android camera did a decent job most of the time but there were some focusing issues and it is hard to clearly see just what you are taking a picture of, especially when it’s sunny. I confess that I was surprised that when it did get a good focus, how really quite clear it was, especially close up

20200817_111631A first-year Common Mullein. I love the velvety leaves. These plants have Latin names and more common names and then some of them also have nicknames. This one is also called ‘Cowboy Toilet Paper’ which I am pretty sure is not it’s Latin name.

20200817_111553 mothmullenA second-year Common Mullein. They do not get the tall spikes until their second year.

♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦

20200817_105229_HDROntario has lots and lots of Queen Anne’s Lace – some of them have the tiny purple flower in their center.

20200817_112002The not-yet bloomed Queen Anne’s Lace.

20200817_112204_HDRHere is a Queen Annes Lace that looks more like Cow Parsnip but the leaves are a giveaway that it’s not.

♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦

20200817_111121A first or maybe second-year Milkweed. The distinctive pink flowers do not appear until the third year.

♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦

20200817_105352This looks like Burdock but I call it ‘Sticks-To-Your-Clothes-If-You-Come-Any-Closer’.

♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦

20200817_105305_HDR (1)Daisy Fleabane – now that sounds like the name of a dame in a detective story from the 1940s.

♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦

20200817_105934_HDRStaghorn Sumac – again texturally soft and velvety

♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦

20200817_105147I think this is bright, yellow wildflower is Hawkweed.

♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦

20200817_110543Spotted Knapweed

♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦

20200817_111508Vipers Bugloss

♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦

20200817_110709This looks like Goldenrod. Very lucky to catch a bee busy at work.

I also saw Birdsfoot Trefoil, Cattails, White Sweet Clover, Ragweed, Butter and Eggs, Crown Vetch, and Chicory. I will confess that I saw other flowers but I have no clue as to what their names are.

The time of year makes such a difference in variety. Flowers you can find in the spring are long gone by the time fall rolls around. I saw asters just starting but they typically arrive in the fall which tells me that summer days are waning and fall is approaching. I will enjoy this weather while I can. I hope you can too.

 

Confessions of a Street Walker – part 30

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It is possible that you have seen a rather peculiar woman walking around the streets of Hamilton over the last five years. If you have, I hope you gave a wave…because I am she.

Another milestone has been reached. I have finished walking all of Glanbrook.

I started this walking project in September of 2014. By the summer of 2016, I had finished walking all the streets on the Hamilton Mountain. By September of 2018, I had finished all of Hamilton. By the late summer of 2019, I had finished all of Stoney Creek. And now I can confess that all of Glanbrook has been trod upon by my raggedy running shoes.

While keeping track of the completed streets on my HSR transit map I actually ran out of map so had to improvise.

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The red dots are the places I parked and the green half dots are places that I started leaving my ‘have a nice day’ rocks (see Confessions part 29). I used smaller maps for the new subdivisions in Mount Hope and in Binbrook. During this time of our mandated physical distancing I confess that it was good to spend my time walking down the ruralest of rural roads in our part of southern Ontario – from the ‘Welcome to West Lincoln’ and ‘Welcome to Haldimand-Norfolk’ signs I have wandered and roamed. The final street was walked on today.

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It was actually a road that I had walked on many times before but that had been years ago. We had lived on Glover Road in Hannon (R.R.#2 in fact) from when we married in 1980 until the summer of 1986 when we moved because we outgrew our cute little starter house.  We had four daughters under the age of six and Martin had just taken over his father’s construction business and we were quickly running out of room. So we packed up our things and moved closer to Hamilton so we would not have to pay long-distance charges to talk to many of our customers. It was not a built-up area at the time and we had two acres but over 30 years has changed that quite a bit.

So where do I go from here? I have already been walking in Ancaster and hope to get all of the roads south of the 403 done before winter. A lofty goal, methinks, but we will see.

Confessions of a Street Walker – Part 29

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It is possible that you have seen a rather peculiar woman walking around the streets of Hamilton over the last five years. If you have, I hope you gave a wave…because I am she.

I confess that I have started playing with rocks again. When I was younger, I used to collect shiny or sparkly or fossily rocks. It was always fun to pick up a stone that looked cool, for one reason or another and bring it home. I looked for hidden gems and remember finding ‘fools gold’ at Aunt Dorothy’s place in Keene. Ask my mom about the very special soft rock that I found when I was a small child.

But since the spring I have renewed my fascination with rocks. I have always wanted to do fancy, colourful painting on rocks …

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…but my skills and my patience are limited.

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… really very quite limited. : )

If I am travelling about and in a special place I often try to look for a rock to commemorate the occasion. I have lugged them home in my purse and in pockets and in suitcases. I confess I have even shlepped them over the ocean and across borders. I have ‘stolen’ rocks from all over. I write on each one where and when I found each rock.

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This collection started with the stones we got from Timothy and Danielle at their wedding. Then I found one on an alp in Switzerland and on the property of my father’s family home in Smilde. I found one in the cemetery where my grandparents are buried. I also found one in Jeffrey and Laura’s driveway in Echo Bay and in Fred and Amy’s driveway on Lookout Mountain. The rocks help me remember and I find them a fun memento.

I suppose that rock collecting might run in the family. When he was but a young lad, our son Henry would bring home gravel from school and squirrel it away in his pockets. Good thing he had deep pockets.

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Years later we made a donation to the school and I confessed that I felt I was just finally paying for all of the gravel that Henry had pilfered. So, sometimes the rock doesn’t fall very far from the boulder.

So what does my fascination for rocks have to do with my walking project? I decided to find some rather plain rocks and write brief messages that only required a sharpie and no sort of skill other than penmanship. I wanted to remind people to have a good day.

When Martin leaves for work, he gets up and gets ready for his day. I am usually in bed and he always comes to say goodbye and give me a kiss. He says something like “I should be home by supper. I reply with “Have a good day.” While those are my words I always take that time to silently pray “Lord, keep him safe and be with all of our kids and grandkids.” Sometimes the prayer is a little longer depending on what we are dealing with at the time. But there is always that simple prayer.

So when making my little messages on the rocks I picked “Have a good day” or I might insert ‘nice’ or ‘wonderful’. Because it is so long, ‘wonderful’ is saved for the bigger rocks.

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I confess that I have been having fun leaving rocks in unexpected places during my walks. Glanbrook has been getting its share since I have been walking there lately.

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And so it is that when I am out on a walk and I leave a rock, it comes with a prayer that whoever sees it will be blessed. Maybe you will come across one of my rocks one day but even if you don’t – ‘Have a good day’.

Confessions of a Street Walker – part 28

It is possible that you have seen a rather peculiar woman walking around the streets of Hamilton over the last five years. If you have, I hope you gave a wave…because I am she.

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‘Long time – no post’ about my walking project. I have still been out walking I just haven’t been confessing for a while. 

With the COVID restrictions in Ontario, it became my intention to stay as far away from other people as possible while I was meandering. The rural roads of Glanbrook have really been most pleasant to walk down. Most of the time I see no one and I never come even close to the physical distancing limits set by our province. Usually, it is just a wave to a fellow walker or, more frequently, a bicyclist. I try to give a brief wave of thanks for the vehicles who either slow down or move over to let me know that they see me. I feel a little hard to miss with my high-vis vest on but I am grateful for all of the considerate drivers out there. I confess that I occasionally have a properly distanced chat with a homeowner or fellow walker and people are always so kind.

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For much of the spring and now into the summer, I have mostly been wandering around Binbrook and Mount Hope and the other tiny hamlets that have been pretty much swallowed up by belonging to a larger municipality. Sometimes there is only a sign as the clue that the little cluster of houses for a stretch was a separate community – a small community but a community nonetheless. I have come across a number of the Haldimand and West Lincoln boundary signs which provide much satisfaction.

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Sometimes the map is wrong about the fact that the road is still a road. This one used to be a road but is no longer.

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Someone in Binbrook has a wonderful sense of humour.

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I estimate all of Glanbrook will be covered by September. The last road I will walk on to complete this part of the project is Glover Road. It is symbolic of beginnings as I will pass the first house we bought together just before we were married.

During our stage-one restrictions, we were not allowed to go to get our haircut. This was a challenge for me as I started to look and feel like a sheepdog.

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As the weather got better and the sun shone stronger I had to remember to put on sunscreen. I confess that one day I did not do that. I had worn a hat and the sun managed to give me a great horizontal tan line (more burnt than tanned at that point) on my forehead.

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This I solved, rather ingeniously, I think. I put sunscreen on the burnt lower half of my forehead so that the next walk would burn the top half of my forehead and – voila – my forehead was even again. 

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The difficult thing about country road walking has been finding a place to park. Most rural roads do not bode well to pulling your car over to the side of the shoulder and just leaving your vehicle whilst you traipse about for a couple of hours or more. Church parking lots have been convenient and a few businesses as well. I usually leave a note. I parked at Gourmet Meats last week, took a five-mile walk, and then went in to buy some really yummy steak kebabs for the weekend. I did find a lady on a local Facebook group who graciously allowed me to park in her driveway a couple of times. Thanks, Genevieve. 

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This whole walking project has allowed me to meet so many nice people. I chatted with this gentleman.

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He was waiting along Dickenson Road to watch the famed Lancaster airplane from WW2 take flight from the Warplane Heritage Museum. It is not often that you can see them fly. Truly a sight to behold.  

Next time I will give a rock report. Until then.

Restriction Reflection – part 2

One of the things that I find most difficult during these times of restriction is the way we are not permitted to attend funerals and visitations. Not that I have a particular fondness for those types of events. For the loved ones of someone who passes away, it can be such a very difficult time and who am I to intrude on their loss? But it feels like the right thing to do – to be there and shake a hand or give a hug or relay a memory. Some funeral homes have adapted with the co-vid situation by providing online streaming services and that is helpful but it is simply not the same. Interment ceremonies have been restricted to the barest number of family members.

It is not that I really find such joy standing in a receiving line ready to offer my condolences. As much as I can be accused of being verbose, I find I am usually at a loss for words. Really good words. I want to say really good words. Words that would encourage or offer insight or wisdom. Usually, I just mumble something that I can only hope is appropriately sympathetic.

I also find that the older I get – or maybe it is the ‘mental-pause’ that I am currently mood-swinging my way through – the easier I find it is to cry. For most of my adult life, I have not generally identified as a crier. I like to be a little more in control of my emotions – especially in public. But now I tear up at commercials, choke up during sad movies and I even quaver at the patriotic singing of ‘O Canada.’

So when a dear man from our congregation passed away I wanted to do something but I didn’t know what. The church often does it’s best loving through casseroles and pots of soup but I thought I would try something different. Since the private interment was at a cemetery just down the road I decided that I would just stand – far back – and just be there. No interacting – just standing quietly and respectfully and prayerfully. Then I thought I would make a sign to hold as I stood. That meant I had to find words that would represent a little bit of what our whole congregation was feeling.

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It seemed to be appreciated by the family – especially by those who could not be there.

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Wil and Sharon also came to stand.

* * *

There have been more losses since then – some were expected and some were a shock. I find that I really do ‘weep with those who are weeping’ and I still don’t have the perfect words to say. But I suppose life is really just full of hellos and goodbyes. It does feel good to be a part of a faith community that shares our goodbyes as a family – a church family – and I am blessed to be part of a wonderful one.

Mrs. Verdonk passed away last week. She was a past member of our congregation and a wonderful role model. She had a servant-heart and blessed many while she lived. I learned so much from her.

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Since the graveside ceremony was close by once more, I made another sign and went to stand. Quietly, respectfully and prayerfully and it felt like an honour to do so.

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It just seemed like a good way to let the family know that, as a congregation, we loved the dear soul that was their mother and she will be missed. May God grant comfort to those who mourn.

Confessions of a Street Walker – Part 27

It is possible that you have seen a rather peculiar woman walking around the streets of Hamilton over the last five years. If you have, I hope you gave a wave…because I am she.

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Most of last summer and fall I spent on the sidewalks of Ancaster and Dundas. I have a few left to do but most of them have been covered. I confess that I stayed off of the rural roads over the winter because I usually found the shoulders weren’t wide enough to hold slushy piles of snow and me.

My walking project moved along fine over our cold Canadian winter but there were some weeks that the sidewalks were too snowy or icy. It was those weeks that I stayed very close to home or went to the mall to get my 10 miles per week done. When the sidewalks were clearer I also got most of Binbrook’s built-up area done.

I am really enjoying the warmer spring weather. Now, because of Co-vid 19, we are all supposed to be distancing ourselves from one another. I am happy to be able to walk on the ruralest of the rural roads of the greater Hamilton area where I am not even close to being close to anyone.  As it is with most of the rural routes the difficulty remains with where to leave my car while I am out walking.

Last fall I did some walking in rural Mount Hope and Ancaster. We have friends who allowed me to park in their driveway whilst I trompled my way down the country roads in their area. Thanks Gord and Glenda! They were lovely roads with their own charms.

Some notes on those walks:

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The lower right map shows a part of the road that I missed. An accident on Highway 6 forced me to detour and head east and add another 3 miles to my walk that day.

20191028_135454I was tempted to jump in the back of the wagon but they were going in the opposite direction.

I passed a baked goods manufacturing facility I know as Oakrun Farm Bakery. I don’t know what they were making the day that I was walking past but boy did that ever smell good.

I was able to stop by a cemetery where Danielle’s body lies – I confess that the tears still flow and I am thankful for such a peaceful place.

I was walking down a very quiet road when a car pulled over. It was my friend Diane who lived nearby.  It was nice to see a friendly face.

I have taken to wearing a hi-vis vest as I want to be as safe as possible on country roads. I am presently wandering around rural Binbrook.

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A windy day in Glanbrook near the city boundaries. I confess that my attempt at a selfie thumbs-up appears only moderately successful.  :  )

Restriction Reflection

One of the things that I really miss regarding the Co-vid 19 epidemic restrictions is my church family. We belong to Immanuel Christian Reformed Church in Hamilton Ontario and it has been my church home for pretty much all of my life.

My church family has been so very instrumental in shaping me into the person I am today. They have been a huge part of my faith journey and have helped me grow up. They rejoiced with our family and they also wept with our family.  Even the people who have come and gone – we are still connected. I very much miss communing with the saints who gather there.

That first week that we had restrictions, our Sunday services were canceled and our building was closed. We met as a small group that we are a part of called a Faith Family. An emailed liturgy was provided and our tech-savvy hosts had queued up the songs for us to sing along with. It was good to be together.

Then, even those small gatherings had further restrictions.

Fortunately, our church staff is managing to video-record replicated services with an appropriately socially distanced media crew (awesome job – thanks guys) to maintain a  sense of community for us. We get an email with a link and we join with many of our congregation on Sunday morning and meet digitally for worship.

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We can even go to the service in our pajamas.

20200329_102958_HDR(but we won’t – because Martin would never go to church in his pajamas)

 It does feel a little strange to worship with just the two of us but we are grateful for the attempts to keep us connected. It is good to pray for ourselves and others. It is actually good to be able to pause the service for discussion and that is a feature that would be difficult to use when worshipping in person.

Hearing from our amazing pastors and some of our wonderful musicians helps bring some of that feeling. I love the fact that Martin often plays some of the songs we sing at church but there is nothing like singing together in our sanctuary.

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As we approach Easter we have been focusing on the theme of Lament and it sure seems applicable given our current situation. Last week we had a video testimony from a courageous young mother who so eloquently described her lament. We were inspired by her words and pray for her often.

I typically take sermon notes in a journal that I bring to church with me. It can look like I am doodling my way through a sermon but I find it helps me concentrate. I find that I can also look back and remember much more clearly after I have taken notes.

Sermon Notes

So we will wait. Until this is all over.

How will it change us? How will it change me?

That is yet to be seen.

But we do not wait without hope.

And it is this hope which fills us with joy despite our circumstances.

Andrew’s Amazing Tower of Teeth

So I belong to an awesome Facebook group called Weird Secondhand Finds That Just Need To Be Shared and the things posted on that site can range from wonderful treasures to oddities of epic proportions.
It is a badge of honour to find the weirdest of things. I think I have a weird thing that just needs to be shared. I will let you decide.

Before I tell you the story I will have to give you some background.
A number of our six children had to have orthodontic braces. Too many teeth and not enough mouth was the prognosis for most of them and so we spend a good number of years trotting our offspring off to a wonderful orthodontist (Dr. Taylor was great!)
For each child, the process started with a mould taken of the dentally-deficient child and then braces were applied. After a number of years, the teeth were brought into line and then another mould was made so that one could see the difference that our +$4400 investment made. And now for the story.

A number of years ago our last child flew the coop and made us empty nesters. This occurrence was not met with tears as I was too busy doing the happy dance. Don’t get me wrong, I love my kids but they had grown up and they all started their own lives and families. That is a good thing.
When each child left they were supposed to clean up and empty out their rooms so I could repurpose the space. So when Andrew left I began cleaning out his closet. I have no idea how or why but Andrew’s dental moulds made their way into our house. We didn’t steal them but I can’t see how we would have taken them home on purpose. Either way, there they were up in the back of his closet behind some video games. The closet was not well lit and so I did have quite the fright looking at a bright white pair of teeth staring at me (actually teeth don’t stare – eyes do – but I think you get my drift)
Now possessing three such sets of bicuspidical delights is strange enough and I don’t know why it behooved me to stack the moulds and create a teeth tower, but I did. A few sticky dots and voila. From the malocclusion at the top through to the dental treasure at the bottom, this crowning achievement gets to the root of things.

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I don’t quite know what to do with my statue of teeth.
If I wait long enough, my kids will have to go through our possessions when dividing up their inheritance. Maybe Andrew will get them back.

So what do ‘ya think? Weird enough?

New Years Resolution – February 2020

My brother Jeff and I have kept a New Years Resolution to watch a movie together once a month since January 2019. We alternate choices and it has been fun.

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The movie this month was Jeff’s pick and he chose Rocky. Last month’s choice was mine and I chose Chariots of Fire so I suppose this could be a ‘sports’ theme or a ‘Best Picture Oscar’ theme or a ‘men in shorts’ theme. We will see if we can make the theme last for the entire year. I suppose the next choice will, more or less, cement the theme with which we will select movies with – or not. It depends if Jeff will play along.

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I can’t say I remember if I had ever seen Rocky. I was certainly aware of some of the scenes as they are fairly iconic but I couldn’t remember the ending. Will Rocky win or won’t he?

==
Paulie: [talking about Adrian]  You like her?
Rocky: Sure, I like her.
Paulie: What’s the attraction?
Rocky: I dunno… she fills gaps.
Paulie: What’s ‘gaps’?
Rocky: I dunno, she’s got gaps, I got gaps, together we fill gaps.

==

Bodyguard: Did ya get the license number?
Rocky: Of what?
Bodyguard: The truck that run over your face.
==

Sylvester Stallone wrote the screenplay and had to pitch the script more than 150 times before someone showed interest. During that time, he was so broke that he had to sleep at the bus terminal. Finally, there was an offer to buy the script but they didn’t want Stallone to star in the movie. Stallone refused the $300,000 offer because he believed he was the best choice to play Rocky Balboa. He was eventually allowed to star in his own film which went on to earn over $200 million at the box office. Rocky also captured a Best Picture Oscar in 1976 and spawned 7 sequels. The rest, as they say, is history.