Sunday, November 30, 2008

This is Not My Church

It is not a restful weekend for us, but I am not complaining. It is full of activities that enervate and rejuvenate. Well, partly so. Saturday was a work day for me and we will attend the Saturday evening service at our church because today I am making coffee at church and my bride is working. Then in the afternoon it is off to my brother-in-law's birthday party. Who would have ever thought he would get old! Sure, 5o is old. For him. (Oh to be fifty again!) Then in the evening is one my favourite things to do, and that is a meeting of the minds and the friends of our Care Group. I will crash tonight exhausted and renewed at the same time. Yes, it is possible

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Watching the News

I caught a bit of news today as I was having my lunch. Because I have a blog, I get to vent my opinions as they arise.
First, a bit of tragicomedy. There is a minor Chicken Flu outbreak in India right now and the video clip showed a worker in full bio-safety gear disposing of a few dead chickens into an open pit a few feet deep, with what looked like lime at the bottom. So far, so good. But he was completely surrounded by curious onlookers. They were right next to him, and leaning over the hole as the lime fluffed up. They were poor peasant farmers and not one of them was wearing more that a piece of cloth wrapped around their middle.

And the Canadian Conservative Government has just avoided a meltdown. They have backed down on their controversial plan to partially end taxpayer funded subsidies to the political parties. ( Each party gets $1.95 for each vote they got in the last election). However, they have made their point. The opposition parties were willing to either send the public to its second general election in two months or form a coalition government of all the parties that were soundly defeated in the last election. I hope the average Canadian sees what is going on here.
Five years ago, the Liberal Prime Minister, Jean Chretien, enacted legislation that curtailed business donations to the parties and since then the parties have had to adjust and refine their fund raising strategies. The Conservatives have done the best job and are flush with money. The other parties are behind the times and are very poor at raising donations. I have theories about this too. But now, in spite of Gov't spending restraints and setting an example by leading, the Conservatives are made out to be the bad guys. It is back firing as most of us can see that the opposition parties only want to save their own hides on the backs of the tax payers in tough economic times. We remember these things at election time. Shame on Gilles, Jack, and Stephane for being so self-serving.

Shed Some Light

Today the up-grades on our kitchen started in earnest. I have been poking away at it for a while now but the major items, of which I am not capable, are now in full swing. One task which I would never tackle is installing pot lights. Many years ago, I had a carpenter friend build a 'sunshine ceiling' which contained a couple of banks of fluorescent lighting. At the time, they were the thing to install and have been a bit of a bother with burnt out tubes and defunct transformers, not to mention the debilitating flickering light that emanates from fluorescent. She who cooks is very light sensitive and at times claims to suffer from light deficiency syndrome. I am trusting the eight bright overhead pot lights will shed some light on her dilemma.

Friday, November 28, 2008

The Red Chair

The Red Chair held my fascination during this photo shoot. Actually, there were three of them so I did not have to heft any chairs from location to location. I have always preferred to take photos of things the way they are.
If these chairs were not taken in for the winter, I am sure they were covered with frost this morning. The roads were a little frosty in our neighbourhood this morning.

I wish our neighbours to the south a Happy Thanksgiving this weekend. The American economy and the turkey have something in common. Life was pretty good 'till now, and suddenly, things are taking a turn for the worse.

The Perth mint has suspended all future orders for its gold coins. The demand is simply too great. There is a similar scenario in every other country that mints gold coins. It seems that everyone is wanting to have a bit of gold to tide them over during the coming troubles. Because there has been a precedent for confiscation of gold held by private individuals, I have not bothered to purchase any. The only gold I have right now is the gold in my Autumn photos.
Have a great weekend, one and all.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

With Two it is Better

I was back to the Regier property again this Autumn, at their invitation. It was such a delight to be there in Spring, as we reviewed the grounds for the garden tour, that I jumped at the chance to see it once again with the fall colours. It is a metaphor for life. In the spring, there was greenery and fresh verdant life all around. Now, not only was the light fading, as it does in Autumn, but there was decay and decline all around. It was a beautiful warm fall day and this sunny spot beckoned. How appropriate that there was seating for two. As one grows old, there is a need for companionship. Growing old can be lonely as one pines for youth so having someone to reminisce with, and complain about aches and pains with, makes the load a bit lighter. But how can we ever complain about aging? We all want to live a long life, and the only way we can do that is by growing old!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Armchair Coach

As I grow older, my list of life's little pleasures seems to be diminishing. But one pleasure that is still well within my grasp is my love of hockey. I played as a young boy in Saskatchewan and it became a part of me. Now, I observe and coach from the comfort of my easy chair, propped up in front of my big screen TV. I am a little too vocal as I watch, and I wear my emotions on my sleeve. You would think the players on my team could hear me all the way from there.
My team is doing very well so far this season. The expectations for them were very low only a few months ago. Tonight, (Monday night) with their key player injured and out for a few weeks, they defeated the hottest team in the league, in the dying minutes of the game. I love the game of hockey, but especially when 'we' are winning. I may change my tune in the days following, but you will not know it because I will not admit it. I am a poor loser.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


This is the newly completed playing field next to the High School at the top of our street. In this photo, they are playing soccer, but it was built primarily as a football field as the High School has a great sports program and their football team makes it to the finals every year.
The field took more than a year to construct and as it progressed, I would walk to the top of the street and be amazed at the time, effort, materials, and technology that went into its construction. It was done for a cost of $1 million. The artificial turf is exquisite and is embedded with tiny rubber chips for safety and resiliency. Most of the preparation for the field involved addressing potential drainage problems. It is 'state of the art'.

It has amazing lighting for night play, lighted and heated team boxes, a large electronic scoreboard on one end, and a series of bleachers for spectators. The beautiful anodized chain link fence gives ample room on the sidelines. The school property extends way beyond the sidelines so why was the field not built east/west instead of north/south? My letter to the editor of the local paper was published but nobody could answer my question. You see, the football field ends at the goal line on either end of the field with a sturdy chain link fence. There are no end zones!

Monday, November 24, 2008

November Doldrums

Let us pretend it is still Autumn. These November doldrums are dull and uninspiring. Only one month ago, we had these vibrant colours surrounding us.
You remember. I know you do. All this last year, as the gasoline prices were rising and driving the cost of every up, Stats Canada came out with its monthly inflation index and to make the numbers look better, and hence the government look good, they excluded the cost of gasoline and food, in order to keep the inflation rate looking artificially low. They did not fool us as we knew every time we paid our bills and just lived, it was costing more to do so.
Last week, Stats Canada again came up with the inflation figures for October and the increase in the rate is down. Did you get that? Not inflation itself, but the increase, is lower than usual. And do you know what reason they gave? The price of gasoline has dropped! The price of gas should either be factored in or not factored in. Do not use it only when it is convenient. This is about as blatantly deceitful as it gets. But we have to come to expect this from certain elements of our government.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

One Year Anniversary

It was one year ago today that I started to blog. It has been a fun and interesting experience. To date, I have received on average, 16 hits a day. Lately that has increased, but in the beginning things were slow because I was only starting. The 'hottest' day was 170 hits. I have had visitors from virtually every country in the world. I can find out how they discovered me and it is usually through a Google Search. To date, my post on Gerbera Daisies has been by far the most popular post by which people find Terryography. Hardly a day goes by when someone has not found me through that post.
It has been a fun and creative process to come up with something every day. Sorry if it gets a little repetitious but some issues are on my mind more than others. I have so appreciated the comments from so many of you. I am always surprised when I 'bump into' people who say they are reading my blog. I had no idea and think that now they know more about me than I would care to have them know. I have been toying with the idea of starting another blog that gets more personal. I find it helpful to express my thoughts in writing as it forces to me to define them more clearly. Another blog would explore issues such as faith. That is such a huge part of my life that I would never run out of material.
One more comment is that I usually am about three or four days ahead of myself. That is, I schedule the posts so if they seem at times to be behind the times, that is why. For example, I wrote this one on the 20th. So, if you heard that I died and the posts are still coming, the announcement will not have been a rumour. But then again, Mark Twain commented at one time that the announcement of his death had been greatly exaggerated. Maybe he was a blogger too.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Walk Away From It

Imagine, if you will, that Joe and Mary have just bought a house but have to take out a mortgage from the bank to pay for it. They have $50,000 as a down payment on a $400,000 home and the mortgage is $350,000. When they go in to sign the papers and find out what their monthly payments will be, the bank informs them that they will actually be paying for $450,000 mortgage. Joe and Mary look at each other and say,"I don't think so!" and they promptly walk out.
Right now there are 10's of thousands of homeowners across North America whose mortgages are coming up for renewal. They will be renewing a mortgage that is more than what their home is worth, just like Joe and Mary were asked to do. When the value of a home is worth less than the mortgage, it is called 'under water'. And like Joe and Mary, they will say, "I don't think so." And they will walk away.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Where is Waldo?

Waldo is not in this photo. Don't waste your time trying to prove me wrong. It just looks like one of those "Where's Waldo" photos.
I appreciate your comments and emails regarding my stories. I have posted 15 of them since I have started my blog almost a year ago now. If you are interested in reading any you missed, here is a recap. There are stories of both my childhood and later of my experiences in my business.

"The Four Ghosts" was the story I posted that got the most comments. It is not about ghosts, really, but is a human interest story. Like all my writings, it is 100% accurate and true. It can be found in the May archives here.

Here is a story about a Red Cross Blood donation that went bad. Really bad. This was not childhood nor work related but my story nonetheless.

Every little boy's nightmare, learning to square dance in school. But who knew it would turn out this way?

A few encounters with death in my line of work. Fortunately not my own.

This was somewhat work related, but a funny experience I had with an 'old school' home remedy practitioner.

Adventures of school life in a Saskatchewan small town.

Mishaps and accidents on the job. None fatal, thankfully.

All about the weather, as a young boy recalls it, in Saskatchewan. Adventures and descriptions.

One of my more unforgettable customers, Mrs. Bergen, gave me many memories and lots to write about.

One of my favourites, this is a story of little boys getting into and out of trouble.

This is one of the first stories I ever wrote. I can't remember why I chose to put this particular
incident to paper, but it became the first of many.

I should have launched a career as a private detective after my experiences here.

My Grade one and two teacher, unforgettable.

Another of my favourites is this story of lies and deceit all precipitated by piano lessons. I should have stuck to hockey!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Squirling it Away

It is a daunting task to get one's self through university. Not only are the costs onerous, but the volume of work and dedication are beyond many people's capacity. The net result of all the effort and costs is to establish one's self with a career, which in turn secures one's financial future. But just one minute! We are now living in times where that idea looks a little out of touch with reality, for a least some people.
There is a free education going on right now which will teach us all life lessons. The free economy market place is holding a crash course on corrections and recession and all we have to do is open our eyes and watch. The lessons to be learned are that you cannot secure your future on spending and credit, and the value of your assets will not always remain on the up-swing. Squirling away money for times like this turns out to have been the right strategy while all around, people were spending as if there was no tomorrow. And for some of them, there might not be, at least not in their own luxurious home.
Did I say this was a free education? Actually the tuition is very expensive as we are all finding out now.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Where Is It?

Wallet, keys, glasses, cell phone. Wallet, keys, glasses, cell phone. This is the mantra I was chanting as I got dressed the other day. I was changing my pants and got distracted as I was tightening my belt. These are the four things I cannot leave the house without. I had gone for an evening walk the night before and because I am afraid of getting mugged in a section of town a few blocks from here, I left my wallet at home, throwing it into the drawer of my night table. (As if this is not the first place a thief would look after breaking into my house!) I tend to repeat important things to myself in an attempt at trying to remember them. Apparently I will have to change my strategy as I found myself walletless much later in the day. At first, I panicked, thinking I had lost it. Then I remembered. I drove the next 40 kms rehearsing a speech for the cop that would surely pull me over. (Peter's Principle) Amazingly, it did not happen. I think the cop sitting beside the road forgot to turn on his radar. He looked about my age.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


We had our municipal elections here last Saturday and I am bit frustrated. There were so many candidates for each position that it was a daunting task to get to know enough about them to make an intelligent decision. It is a fact that an incumbent has the best chance of re-election if for no other reason than name recognition. If we see the name in the news often enough, we think we know them and then we will vote for them as opposed to another person, who may be a better choice, but we do not even know the name. I am waiting for the day when party politics comes into play at the local level, like it does in the larger cities such as Vancouver and Richmond. We can then vote for a slate of candidates. If we do not know the contender, then we can at least know his politics.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Spring Rafting

It has been a while since I have posted a story. Here is another adventure I had as little boy growing up in the Prairies.

One of the best spots was directly on our shortcut to school, due west from our house. We almost always took this route to school as it was direct and quick, across the street, through Barrand’s yard, across the back alley, through Greeve’s property and over their driveway and only one block further, across the empty field. Another great spot was about a block west of my Dad’s grocery store, although it was too visible, and a chance encounter with my Mom was highly probable as she traversed this route routinely on her way to Main Street. And then there was the location next to Butch Dueck’s yard, which was by far the most dangerous and therefore the most exciting and most appealing.
Spring rafting was one of those activities that would never be allowed in today’s world. Certainly parents would ban it, but I am sure there would be municipal, provincial, and federal regulations making it a forbidden sport.
There was a small window of opportunity for rafting every spring, just after the last bank of snow melted and the spring rains were willingly finding the lowest land in town. Being a flat prairie town, the low spots were few and far between, but gravity and the undulations of the prairie did provide for sloughs in the wet years. During my time in Lanigan, there were several very good years for rafting and certainly the memories those times provided were some of the best and scariest.
All three locations were vacant city blocks. The land being too wet for housing, would grow bulrushes and willow trees and was generally good for little else. In the tall grass and reeds beside the roads that surrounded these properties, were well hidden structures made of logs, planks, 2x4’s, and other assorted floating materials. As the years went by and generations of kids recycled these mini arks, they fell further and further into disrepair. Most of the heavy tree branches were recruited for shoring up the platforms and it was often difficult to find a branch long and strong enough to serve as a push pole. It was Saskatchewan, and trees were a rare commodity, especially the ones that had long durable branches.
Spring runoff was a very exciting time of year as it heralded the end of the long bleak winter. There was a smell in the air of new growth and promises of warm weather and summer holidays around the corner. We would test the water content under the shrinking snow drifts that always grew particularly large in the depressions of the land. Each day held a little more promise, and as soon we dared we let our foot go through to the bottom and our boot would fill with water for a certainty. And that was cold water, with semi melted chunks of snow still floating on its surface.
The day would soon come when some brave soul would test the depth and announce that it was indeed deep enough, and then rush off home, with squishing watery sounds coming out of his boots, before hypothermia could set in. The exact location of the raft had to be determined before the water got too deep or it may be stranded where nobody could reach it. If the previous year had been particularly wet and the water deep and widespread, the raft would have beached on the outer reaches of the property and would have to be physically manhandled toward the water. This was almost impossible for us small children because of the shear weight of a bunch of water logged timbers strapped together. Usually the water level would eventually reach the raft and with only a few heaves and grunts the contraption would be pushed to where it would float.
The bigger kids always got the first rides. It was the pecking order. Besides, if the raft held them, it would hold the smaller ones too. Except that there was usually more than one kid on at a time, and that contributed greatly to the instability and the danger. That in turn increased the chance of a dunking, which if in deep water, could result in a drowning or at best a bad cold verging on pneumonia.
And so it was that eventually we were rafting part ways to school. There were usually several rafts on each slough and that meant there was almost always one for coming and one for going. If not, we did the usual walk around the block. There were challenges, however. We were in our ‘school clothes’ and we sometimes had books to carry. The boots were not a problem because we wore boots all spring, regardless. There were no sidewalks or paved roads so there was mud everywhere and boots were the standard for adults and children alike. Getting on and off the raft usually required a leap because the raft was grounded, but on a gentle slope so there was water between the dry land and the wooden platform. The leap was onto a very small, very wet, very slippery landing pad and one had to be careful not to slip off the far end into deep water. The books made it even more difficult. If there was a chance we would be late for school, there would be multiple passengers, making the voyage quite precarious. There was always a lot of pushing and shoving to get to the raft and later on the raft. These water craft were very unstable and an unbalanced load would make them slowly sink down on one end, making it imperative that somebody be shoved very quickly to the end rising above the water. It always made for an exciting trip to and from school and usually a story to tell our farmer friends who only had a bus ride into town that morning.
As exciting as that was for us boys, the best was always saved for Saturdays. I had many chores and responsibilities on Saturdays, but there was usually opportunity sometime during the day to have an adrenaline induced rush at the deepest slough in town. Not only was it the deepest, but there was some bush undercover, and an adjoining pit that was full of water all year long.
This was the scary end of town for me. The people who lived here were on the wild side, except for Butch and his family. There was Jimmy Schmidt, the alcoholic teenager, and the Vernard family, who nobody knew or hardly ever saw, and Jim Hill whose dad was my hockey coach but there never seemed to be a mom around anywhere. But the scariest family was the Hunt clan who lived within sight of the deep water that drew us kids like a magnet. Dennis was a year or two older than me but had already lived a lifetime. He rarely showed up for school, always had money, and his aunt lived with him and his dad. At least I think it was his aunt. She was an epileptic and I remember seeing her have a seizure in my Dad’s store one day. It was one of the most frightening things I had seen until that time and I remember thinking she would die right there in front of me. It took an hour to clean up the chocolate bars scattered all over the floor as a result of her thrashing. After a while, she recovered and headed out of the store, back to her home, forgetting her groceries in a brown paper bag beside the door. She had some really bad burns on her hands and face, the result of a seizure at home, happening a little too close to the wood stove.
Jimmy and Dennis were friends in a loose sort of way. They enjoyed guns and knives a little too much and it was scary being anywhere near them when they were in the mood for fun. One afternoon, Butch and I were pulling his little red wagon to the well to get drinking water for his mom when we heard hysterical laughter coming from Jimmy’s yard. As we passed the front of the house, we saw what the cause of all the gaiety was. Jimmy and Dennis were standing 50 ft. apart, taking turns shooting each other with a BB gun. The biggest round of laughter came when Jimmy’s front tooth came flying out of his mouth. Moments later, Dennis lifted his shirt and had to dig a BB out of his skin from just beside his belly button, with the hunting knife he always had tucked in his belt. We just could not bring ourselves to stay for any more of the fun and games and headed for the well at a brisk trot. I knew they were crazy and it was confirmed when Butch told me about the night his Dad was out to walk the dog and Jimmy shot at him and his dog with a .303 from out his upstairs bedroom window. We pushed the little red wagon the long way home that day.
The big deep water by the Hunt house was always off limits when Dennis was anywhere nearby, but there were a few occasions when the coast was clear and we got to experience the most dangerous place in town. I had a very healthy respect for water, indeed, a fear of it. The best rafts in town were in the deepest waters and if you knew where to look, you could actually find a push pole long enough to reach the bottom, that is, the bottom in most parts of the swamp. I had a fear of getting in so deep that my pole would not reach the bottom and I would have no way of getting back to shore. There was a back up plan and that was to tear off a plank from the raft and use it as a paddle. The trouble with that plan was that the planks were usually nailed on with spikes and were impossible to budge.
I had a bad feeling from the start, partly because I knew that if my Mom had any idea where I was and what I was doing, she would ground me for most of the rest of my childhood. If we stayed in the deepest part of the slough where the trees were, Butch’s Mom would not see us out of her kitchen window and we would be just fine. We did not have much time so we decided that we would get on the raft together instead of taking turns. I got on first, without incident, and then Butch jumped on. But the combined weight settled the raft down on the reedy bank and we were stuck. He jumped back off and after pushing me out a little way, he made a leap for the raft. He miscalculated and hit the edge, not only shoving the raft farther out, but he never gained a footing and went straight into the water. He floundered and I panicked. I pushed my pole down to get back to shore to help him, but the pole just went down, down and did not touch. With cries of “help” at my back, I got on my knees and reached down as far as I could to get a purchase on the bottom so I could shove the raft back. With my hand down in the water, I managed to touch bottom and with all my strength, pushed. Imperceptibly at first, the raft leisurely made its way back in the direction it had come. If not from the cold, then from sheer terror, Butch lunged for the raft and hung on as if his life depended on it. And it did. I would have preferred that he lunged toward shore, but this was not the time for that particular discussion. His body was between the raft and dear sweet land, and that was a dilemma. Now that we were both thoroughly panicked, I simply followed my instincts and jumped in, grabbed Butch, and together we waded to shore. The cold was numbing and almost instantly I lost feeling in my feet and legs. I was only wet to my waist but Butch was soaked from his brush cut to his gum boots.
We struggled to a dry spot and sat in the grass and emptied our boots. It was a sunny day, but early in spring, when there was still a chill in the air, and I knew we had to get to shelter soon. I eyed the Hunt house, only a hundred yards away, probably with the cook stove stoked and burning, but, on the other hand, Aunt Esther might be on the stove burning too. That, plus the prospect of Dennis taking aim at us with his BB gun, drove me in the other direction, straight to Butch’s house and sure trouble, but of a lesser variety. We made it and had a laugh after, but only because his Mom was not home and we had a chance to dry off almost completely.
Conversation at the supper table that evening was routine. Naturally, I did not let on about my adventure. I wanted to tell someone, but I would have to be satisfied that only Butch and I knew. I was thinking about the danger I had put myself in and how lucky I had been that it turned out OK. Then my Dad mentioned that he had heard that Dennis Hunt was in the hospital in Regina. He had got himself into a knife fight and was hurt quite badly. It made my little bit of danger seem like child’s play. We never did see Dennis after that, but regardless, I stayed away from the deep water at the Hunt house.

Sunday, November 16, 2008


I hope you, my dear readers, do not mind me extending Autumn so far into November. I still have plenty of shots of the wonderful foliage we experienced this year in our neck of the woods. The colours on this photo look like they have been manipulated, but I assure you, they have not.
During the past year, our city has amalgamated and improved some of the walking trails and connected them into a network they called Discovery Trail. The trail is delightful and used a great deal by joggers, cyclists, and walkers like myself. It extends for many miles through the city and offers a variety of terrain and vistas. It may never be far from a busy thoroughfare, but mostly, it feels like it is in the country. Our city's motto is "City in The Country" but these trails represent 'country in the city'. A good use of tax payers dollars.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Before the Wind Came

I was strolling through the sunny and shady patches among the trees, throwing my jacket open at one moment, wrapping it tightly at the next, when I began to notice how the low October sun was filtering through the yellow pigment of the autumn leaves. When I was a young lad, I was told that the sun must always be at your back when taking a photo. It became my delight, not much later, when I bought my first SLR camera, to defy the rules and point my camera at the sun. I had a fear, at first, that like the retina of the eye, when exposed to direct sunlight, my lens, or light meter, or film, would fry in the intense light of the direct rays of the sun, especially because it was being magnified by the lens. Much to my delight, I have discovered that the major influence that makes a photo good or bad, is the lighting. Unique lighting is interesting to look at and when we see a photo taken into the sun, we delight in it because we ourselves would not look into the sun, but now by looking at the photo, we can see what that would be like. Many of my favourite photos I now take that way.

Friday, November 14, 2008


Have you ever 'counted the seconds'? The first thing that comes to mind is watching the clock tick down at a sporting event such as a sudden death playoff. New Year's Eve is another event where we count the seconds, or at the launch of the space shuttle.
How about counting the minutes? Waiting for a traffic light to change, trying to get to an appointment on time, waiting for someone who is late, or enduring commercials while watching your favourite TV program, are a few examples.
Minutes can drag out interminably, or they can fly by far too quickly.
I learned a few minutes ago that I am 31,883, 125 minutes old! One would never think to count that out, one number at a time, but if we were conscious of every minute of our lives and what we do with them, we would be more aware of how many of those minutes we put to good use or how many we totally wasted.
I think a life broken down into minutes becomes important when we realise it is often the small things we do that count the most. Yes, lifetime achievement is probably the big goal, but how we live our lives minute to minute is really how we eventually achieve the lifetime goal. We can make a decision in a minute, we can act on something in a minute, we can say something kind to another person in a minute, and when the hours and days and years have passed by, although we will not recall every minute, we will reap the harvest of all the minutes put together.
My hope is that you do not consider it a wasted minute to have read this.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Good, Bad, and Ugly

Autumn rains continue to pelt down: Bad
The temperature is warm: Good
The coloured leaves are all down: Bad
The markets are in free fall today: Bad
Work is slow: Good/Bad
No good choices for Saturday's election: Bad
I had dinner with a long lost cousin: Good
7th shoe with foot found on the beach: Ugly

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Still Remembering

The sixth anniversary of my mother's death has just recently passed and the Remembrance Day that we have just had, has triggered memories other than that of war and veterans. For those of us who have had our mother's well into our adult lives, it goes without saying that we will never forget them. But my mother forgot me. After birthing me, feeding me and changing my diapers a million times, after bandaging my wounds, comforting my broken heart, and teaching me right from wrong, after encouraging me to follow my dreams and teaching me a faith that lasted a lifetime, she forgot me. After becoming best friends with my wife, after supporting me in my various business endeavours, after loving and caring for my small children and feeding our family at her sumptuous table innumerable times, she forgot me.
You see, a thief came in to her door one day and began stealing all her cherished memories. It started out slowly but he got bolder as the years went by until he had the very soul out of her. We stood by and could do very little as we saw her slowly drifting away from us, little by little. It was agonizing as she became someone we did not know, just as we too, were becoming children that she no longer knew.
And now I comfort myself with the memories of my mother, the mother I knew before the thief came, and I comfort myself with the knowledge that I will see her again one day, whole and perfect, and she will remember me.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


We remember, and yet we wonder. Why do conflict resolutions so often end in war? Are wars that we participate in always just? When young men and women lose their lives in a war that is 'lost' did they die in vain? Why can we not learn that war always does more harm than good and that there can be other solutions?
My own father who is now 86 years old, was a young man who was called to war through the draft. His father's faith was Anabaptist and non-resistant, a faith that was taught and caught in his family. There was the choice of conscientious objection and alternative service, which my dad chose with great struggle. He served his country for two years helping to keep essential services running while many of his friends and school chums donned a uniform and were shipped overseas. Many of these young men died in the battles at Dieppe. To this day, my father struggles with this reality. I believe it is called survivor's guilt. I have discovered this same thing in veterans who served in wars and managed to come back alive.
There is suffering in death and life, when it is war that a society chooses.

Paths and Benches

As promised, more park benches and autumn paths.

Getting older does not mean that the pace of life has to slow down. This was brought to my attention recently as I did some work for a retired fellow who grew up and worked in Switzerland for most of his life. He showed me a panoramic photo of some of the more famous Swiss Alpine mountain tops and told me that he had climbed every one of them. The Matterhorn has always intrigued me and I quizzed him on his experience climbing that granite peak. He assured me it was all pitons and ropes and very difficult but he did it several times. Then to my surprise, he told me that he still rock climbs on 'The Lions" north of Vancouver. He is almost eighty but is short and wiry and very fit. When I asked him if he climbed by himself, he assured me that he did not as it would not be safe at his age. He then informed me that his climbing partner is 90!

Monday, November 10, 2008

It's Starting to Happen

It is starting to happen. I felt the first symptoms a few days ago when our friends F & E left a comment on my blog. It was posted from Oahu where they were basking in the sunshine and warm ocean breezes under the swaying palms. More symptoms came about as the November winds and rain began to inundate our days and nights. I thought I would be able to hold off this malady for a few months yet, but I feel it taking over my mind and body. That annoying rash that pops up here and there, usually starts in November and it is right on time again this year. The only known cure is dabs of steroid cream or a week in the tropical sun. So I have again been smitten by the travel bug and surfing the net for a vacation is beginning to take up some of my time. I get antsy about it until a firm plan is place, and then I spend day and night counting down the days to the cure. It is a good disease to have. It gets me out of the house.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Path

There are times when a path is chosen but its ultimate destination is not known. Looking back at our Canadian Election, a path was chosen by the Conservatives that resonated with a lot of hard working tax payers, including myself. The idea was to be fiscally prudent by cutting back on some of the art subsidies that were verging on the ridiculous. Here are just two examples that came to my attention today.
The Canadian Television Fund supports the production and broadcast of high quality Canadian television programs. It is funded by the Canadian federal government and Canadian Cable and direct-to-home satellite industries. The 2007-2008 Canadian Television Fund annual report showed the $10,000 support of “Famous Whores in History”.
The $4.7 million program PromArt administered by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (that has since been cancelled) provided grants for international travel to Canadian Artists. One prominent example of why they cancelled this program was the $3,000 grant that they gave to a Toronto rock band called ‘Holy F**k’ to tour the U.K.
If you recall, there was an outpouring of indignation in Quebec who touts itself as being an 'art culture' and the Conservative support dropped off so dramatically there that it resulted in lost seats and an eventual minority government.
So, one should sit down on the comfortable bench at the beginning of the path and think long and hard about starting down that road. Who knows where it may lead?

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Media Dilema

The American media now has a dilemma. After President Elect Obama is sworn into the Oval Office, who will they blame for any and all disasters that will inevitably occur in the next four years? Bush will be gone! Will they blame their darling? Maybe they can blame EVERYTHING on Global Warming from now on.

The Canadian media now has a dilemma. How can they continue to call Stephen Harper a clone of George Bush? He will be gone and out of the limelight, gone fishing or on the speaking circuit. Who will he become a clone of now? Whoever it is, be assured that he will continue to blamed for Global warming.

By the way, the Farmer's Almanac is predicting a colder than average ("Numb's the word") winter for both USA and Canada.

Friday, November 7, 2008


There are times when the trees provide more illumination than the lamplights.

The question arises: how will the election of Obama and the majority Democratic government effect Canada. Was it only rhetoric when Obama stated during his campaign that free trade would be up for re-negotiation? Was he serious in saying that he would re-consider importing 'dirty oil' from Canada? How does this wash with his statement that he wants the US to become less dependant on eastern oil? Will he prop up the US auto industry which will in turn help the Canadian auto industry? Will the Conservative bent of Prime Minister Harper and the Liberal bent of President Elect Obama be able to find common ground? Was there overwhelming support for Obama in Canada for a reason or did most Canadians fall for the media hype and not consider the ramifications for us at all? Time will tell. The best hope for both our countries is that there is a friendly co-operation between the two powers. Given the Democrat's penchant for protectionism, I remain pessimistic. If it is otherwise, I just may become an Obama fan yet!

Thursday, November 6, 2008


What will change besides the colour of the leaves?
I have been watching some post election coverage and there is a sense of euphoria on both sides of our border. What particularly intrigues me is the jubilation among Black Americans. Far be it from me to understand the angst involved here, but when you see the tearful (tears of joy) displays and the jumping up and down like at a Super Bowl Game when your team has won, you can't help but wonder what the joy is really all about. You hear comments like "Historic", "I thought I would never see the day", "At last there will be change", "Now there is hope", and even Oprah was unable to contain her enthusiasm and was recorded jumping up and down like a school girl. Will someone tell me what will change, please! I fear that expectations are so high that everyone is for a big fall and then what will happen is disillusionment, and then apathy. The big shock for me was when President Elect Obama stated in his speech that "government will not be able to solve all the problems in America." This is diametrically opposed to Democratic philosophy, so what he is doing is telling his people not to expect too much. And I think he is right. Even subtle honesty is honesty.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Things Can be Deceiving

I will be continuing with my series of Autumn photos for some time yet. The leaves are being driven to the ground by rain and wind these days and there is little colour left in the landscape. This photo is deceiving. It was taken at the height of the colour but Weeping Willows remain green for some time longer than other deciduous trees.
The average American voter may also be deceived by today's election. I pity either man who becomes President today, although it is now certain that it is Obama. There are difficult times ahead for the American people and indeed the world and if they thought today that they were voting for a "Messiah", as some have described Obama, they will find that there is much that is not in his control. I am sure he will do all he can to restore the economy, but the situation is now very much out of his hands. He will probably be blamed at the end of his term, but it is not his fault that it happened. The markets are correcting and they will do so on their own agenda. More interference from government will only prolong and deepen the agony. So, enjoy the limelight for the next few days, Senator Obama, because you have to roll up your sleeves soon and get to the very difficult task of leading a nation out of a deep economic depression.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Good Spot For a Visit

I am writing this on Nov. 2. By now, the voters in the USA will be flocking to the polls in what will probably be the biggest voter turnout in US history. There is a sense of importance to this election that has not been in evidence for some time. There are many reasons for this but most importantly, I believe the American public senses that their way of life is in jeopardy due to the financial woes it finds itself in and the next four year term will be seminal to the future of their country. The change that Obama promises will come without any help from him, but not the kind of change he will like. Will he help or hinder with his socialistic economic philosophy? Will his smooth articulate base voice and youthful charisma translate to intelligent and thoughtful policy making? Will his questionable past and shady associations reveal him to be something other than 'All American'? Will the dismal economic and social conditions of his state of Illinois be a taste of what is to come for the rest of America? There is no doubt that he will be the winner, if the polls and pundits are correct.
The empty park bench would be an ideal spot to sit with some of my friends and discuss some of these events even though we have no control over them. Sometimes all we can do is just vote and then watch the world go by. In this case we cannot even vote. We are Canadians.

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Popping in My Head

Things pop into my head, unexpectedly and with no apparent explanation. Maybe it happens to other folks too, I don't know. Names and faces of people from my past is a big one and suddenly I will be remembering things about them that I had not thought of for years. I have thought that perhaps a detail of my work or conversation triggers a long hidden memory. Or a form of mental telepathy is happening. Or, God is putting that person into my mind for a reason. I may get a brilliant idea for a blog post in the middle of the night and actually lay awake for while composing it word for word. Naturally, in the morning it is only a faded memory with not enough vivid detail to make it worthwhile.
Another 'pop' is lyrics to songs, or just song titles. They are almost always songs from my earlier years, and usually relevant to what is happening at that moment in time. More often than not, the tune will then buzz through my head for hours, annoying me to no end.
I was standing on Eagle Mountain taking this photo when Ray Steven's song "Everything is Beautiful" popped into my mind. There were a hundred other songs that would have suited the occasion too.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Five Weeks Old

This is my Grandson Liam. He is now five weeks old. He has changed a lot since birth. He is healthy and all indications are that things are going normally for him. For this we are grateful to God who gave us this wonderful gift of a new little one in our family. I held him for about an hour the other day and as I gazed into his wonderful little face, so many thoughts raced through my mind. It would take pages to record them all here. What will his future hold? What will the world be like as he grows up? What decisions will he make that will alter the course of his life for good or bad? It is all overwhelming as my love for him wants only the very best, but I have so very little control over these matters. So, I just pray that God will protect him, watch over him, guide him, and not forsake him. When I give it over like that, it gives me peace and I know that as long as I live, I will not have to worry about little Liam.

Deja Vu

Yes, it's the same train, but a little more ominous looking in B/W. I had a Deja vu moment today when I got the phone call. We had a nice contract lined up for at least 4 weeks of work in November, all at cost plus. The call was to inform me that a family member with the required skills to do my work was in need of employment, and "I am sorry, but family comes first." In the early 80's when the big recession hit us all hard, I was getting a lot of this and did not do well for a few years as work was scarce. This is now the second time in two weeks that I have had a contract cancelled. Are we headed for the same slump now as then? Time will tell as we are coming into the Christmas rush now when it is usually busier than normal. Retail consumer spending is predicted to be down significantly and that will probably spill over into my business. If it indeed means less work, will I learn to just enjoy it, or will I fret and worry? After all, I am part of the baby boomer generation that lost a significant amount of its savings in the recent crash.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Close Encounter

The walk in White Rock is never complete without an encounter with a train. On this day it was an Amtrak passenger train, but usually it is a very long and cumbersome freight train. My good friend Michael is a security officer on the train system in London, England. He tells stories of catching fare evaders with video surveillance and lots of legwork. He would have lots of work here on our Skytrains as it is operated on the honour system. As we all know, there is not a lot of honour in some folks these days.
We have taken our grandsons here for their first close encounters with a train, and now that we have Liam, there will be more trips in the future, to watch the trains. Maybe I have never grown up because I love them as much as the little boys do.