Happy Dogust – You’ve Just Gotta Laugh!

front cover
Penny:  “I’m not sure I agreed to this..”

Yes, summer is flying by, and it’s almost the end of August, or DOGUST if you will…

I thought I better get this article into my blog before it’s no longer applicable!  So, yes, that’s Penelope (aka Penny) and I, sharing the August front cover of the little magazine in our beautiful town of Oakville.  I felt I should share my “10 minutes of fame” with you all, as it will be my last.

As the article below tells you, I write the odd “funny” for this magazine, so they decided it was my time to be on the cover.  Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would be a cover girl, but I’ll take what I can get, fully clothed and all. 😉

My first instinct was to say no.  They asked for the whole family, but clearly that was met with lots of laughter, and “you have to be kidding mom.”   (Actually, my initial ask was given some thought, but the closer we got to the shoot date, the more my #famjam started having second thoughts).  I will admit, the idea of giving someone full control of the camera, without first edit rights, was giving me hives!  For those that know me, (and I am working on it), I’m not a fan of pictures, unless of course, I look fab. It’s a running joke with the gang. But seriously, who likes to post a bad pic of themselves.  And might I add, the camera clearly adds 15 lbs….give or take!

I stressed what to wear, and decided on a 2 year old, slightly frayed, loose fitting, flowy Winners top.  Don’t look too close.  The knot by my neck is falling apart, and my right sleeve elastic is gone!  BUT, it’s long sleeve, which initially was a no no from wardrobe. I managed to sweet talk them into getting my own way!  So many rules to follow.  I seriously cannot imagine what swimsuit models go through.  They would have a lot more maintenance to attend to, if you know what I mean.  I just wanted to make sure my flip flops were not showing, and that my age spots and man hands were well hidden. #fail

Penny sat like a angel, and I was somewhat surprised because typically she is full of piss and vinegar.  We now know why…unbeknownst to us, she was in heat, so the poor thing probably had cramps. 🙂 God knows, sitting on a wicker bench for two hours, can’t be fun…even for a Berner in heat!  I, on the other hand had hair issues.  It was early morning, and if you can remember, most of July the humidity hung around +40.  I had so much product in my hair, I swore that if any of the crew lit up a smoke, I would have gone up like a Roman candle.

OK agreed, I’m hard on myself, but it truly was a fun filled day!

Here is the article, keep scrolling if you are still with me…

resident feature
Clockwise:  Yours truly and Paul;  Ryan, Erik and Owen with Grandma, My Pop’s and I

You’ve Just Gotta Laugh

Meet Leslie-Ann and Penny Williams

By Claire Bickley

Leslie-Ann Williams has written about her potty mouth, her all-alcohol Christmas gift list, and, above everything, her love for her family and friends.

The local blogger has also written for Neighbours magazine since 2016, contributing her thoughts on local life, beating the winter blahs and being held hostage by crazy cats.

In that time, we’ve learned that she considers spellcheck optional, has never met a deadline she couldn’t forget and that she LOVES capital letters and exclamation marks!!!! While our style guidelines mean not all of that exuberance make it into these pages, we like to think that that excitable punctuation lives in an invisible drawer labeled “Leslie-Ann’s Irrepressible Energy.” Which is pretty much how this Oakville whirlwind approaches life – with a grin, masses of enthusiasm and a belief that whatever’s going on, you’ve just gotta laugh.

When asked for a favourite quote, she borrows words to live by from Audrey Hepburn:

“I love people who make me laugh. I honestly think it’s the thing I like most, to laugh. It cures a multitude of ills. It’s probably the most important thing in a person.”

Job, husband, three sons, aging parents – Leslie-Ann’s got a lot on her plate, and she’s definitely the filling in its sandwich, trying her best to take care of everyone.

Her father, Bill Thorne, just turned 90. Mother Lorraine is 84. Those folks have lived a life full of adventure. Bill put himself through school toiling in the coalmines of Cobalt, before making a career in the beer industry. His job moved the family from Toronto to Winnipeg to Regina to Edmonton and, finally, to Calgary. As a young woman growing up in Eganville, Lorraine studied at the Royal Conservatory of Music, and, as one of the Shane Sisters (with her sister Dorothy), she sang all over Eastern Ontario, winning multiple competitions.

Leslie-Ann loves them fiercely. She has written about the time she decided the perfect present for Dad would be an adult colouring book, to which he replied, “You want me to colour? Like colour in a colouring book, like a toddler?” and of Mom’s fondness for Alberta Rye Whiskey.

The Thornes live a short drive away in Joshua Creek, a trip that Leslie-Ann could make in her sleep. “This is a tough one as now my father has dementia and watching this has been very difficult,” she says. “The demands on me are at times all-consuming. My mom is still trying to make the best of every day. She’s always had the energy of 10 people and still does, but as a caregiver it can be very hard. You want to help and spend time with your parents, but you need to create some kind of balance. It can be very difficult at times and the guilt can be overwhelming. You can only do so much, so patience is key.”

Leslie-Ann and husband Paul met in summer school, both needing to upgrade their math mark for university. A lot of staring but very little talking or studying ensued. Both did not pass that summer class and found themselves together again at the local college to give it another try. Still mostly silence, they managed to never miss a class, did a little sharing of information on the final exam, which in turn, resulted in a passing mark for both. They celebrated over drinks, ended up dating for three fun-filled weeks – and then Paul moved to Australia with plans of living there forever. She still has the love letters they sent to and fro and, six months later, he was home. “Best day of my life,” she says, of the partner she calls her best friend.

Paul’s job with Arrow Medical moved them east to Oakville in 1998 to the house on tree-lined Claremont Cres. where they’ve raised sons Ryan, Erik and Owen. Erik, 24, a landscape design graduate, and Owen, 18, a recent graduate from St. Thomas Aquinas with dreams of becoming a Teacher, are still in the nest. Ryan, 27, is independent and works for a logistics company.

During her years as a stay at home mom, Leslie-Ann was an active volunteer at the boys’ school, St. Vincent Catholic Elementary School. It was here where she met all her best friends, and still after 21 years, remain close and keep in touch almost daily. Leslie-Ann served for several years as chair of the Ladies Night Out for Charity fundraiser which raised more than $68,000 to benefit women and children in need. She started a home organizing business, launched her blog (www.jst4lafs.wordpress.com) seven years ago and, when she was ready to go back to work fulltime, took on a role she loves as a corporate executive assistant at Microsoft.

So why not add a puppy to this very busy mix? The family had sworn off dogs after losing their beloved Bullmastiff Lucy at only six but agreed something was missing in their home. Bernese Mountain Dog puppy Penny has filled that gap – emotionally and literally.

The baby giant is everyone’s best friend and an especially welcome visitor at the Thornes’ house. “Dogs welcome you at the end of day, always happy to see you, and never give you any grief. They give you unconditional love,” Leslie-Ann says. “Penny always brings a smile to both their faces.”

Signed your Oakville Whirlwind,

LA xoxo



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