Thursday, May 30, 2013


Is there anyone, anywhere, in the western world who has not heard of Sherlock Holmes? I must admit that in spite of his popularity as a detective in the many works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, I have never read a single story featuring this famous sleuth. To discover what all the hype is about, I have acquired the complete works of Sir Arthur as they pertain to Sherlock. (I will forgo the Tarzan novels for now.) There are 4 novels and 56 short stories in the collection, and if "A Study in Scarlet" is what I am in for, it is going to be a most enjoyable read.
Sir Arthur was a contemporary of Charles Dickens and I was anxious to compare styles and content as I have recently read several of Dickens' novels.
Sir Art introduces Sherlock and Dr. Watson in this first novel in a very memorable way and the story takes on a rapid pace from the beginning. Sherlock is a science geek and a brilliant logician with an analytical mind that can work backwards and forwards. He is able to deduce much from little, and has the case solved while Scotland Yard is still floundering around, chasing the wrong bad guys.
This particular story gets very interesting as it traces back in time to the causes and motivations of a double murder. Although the crime is committed in London, the root causes are in southern Utah. (Hey, I was just there.) The descriptions of the wild land and the even wilder Mormons is very well written and I could not put the book down.
The story was written in 1886, but has a timeless appeal. Mystery, intrigue, adventure, revenge, and problem solving are as applicable to today's crime stories as they were back then.
I think it is time to start the next story in this huge volume of work.
4 stars

Monday, May 27, 2013

Set in Seattle

Danny Logan is a war hero and a trained Private Investigator. He has a team of very competent employees and one day finds himself investigating the disappearance of a very famous business woman who was a childhood sweetheart. As the plot thickens, Danny realises that he never got over Gina and the hunt becomes personal.
The story takes place in Seattle and Port Townsend and revolves around investigative techniques, some interesting and seedy characters, involvement of Gina's family, and eventually the death of Gina in a drug bust gone bad. But that is not the end of the story. There are twists and turns, and a surprise ending.
The book is reasonably well written and holds the reader's attention, although moving a bit slow in some regards. There are a series of Danny Logan mysteries and perhaps character development is ongoing, but I would have liked to see more interaction with some of the secondary characters.
I now go to Kindle books to look for a new download and will be conflicted as to whether I will take more of Grayson's novels or leave them be.
This one gets a 3 1/2 star rating from me.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Goodbye Tension, Hello Pension

I have been 65 for 1 month and 24 days and still no pension cheque. Hello!
And if that doesn't hurt, I got a letter this week from Canada Pension Plan stating what my "Extra Benefit" would be since the CPP rules changed two years ago. You remember. It used to be that when you took your CPP as early as age 60, you no longer had to contribute. That made a lot of sense for a self employed person as we put both employee and employer portion into the plan. Then two years ago, the new rule stated that even if you were collecting CPP you had to contribute if you had employable earnings. So I did contribute for the last two years, and up to my birthday this year. My benefit for all that contribution? $13.51 extra per month.
And, one more whammy against the aged. I applied for the extra home-owners grant for my municipal taxes today. At age 65, one can get an increased grant to offset the taxes. My extra grant was $225.00. I am on a 10 month equal payment plan so that is $22.50 per month. But, guess what. My taxes went up by $12.00 per month. I am, as an old age pensioner, now saving $10.50 per month.
The bottom line is this. If you are not preparing in a big way to look after yourself in your golden years, you have a big surprise coming. The government is only throwing crumbs and finding creative ways to make the crumbs smaller.  

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Reciprocating a Blessing

Today we had our annual fund raising garage sale. It was a success, again. Every year we ponder whether we want to do it again, or not. Ask me now, I will say "probably not". Ask me in a few months and I will say "of course". We are in that kind of a cycle. It is a lot of work, all culminating in a day that leaves all of us tired.
But I must tell you what motivates me to continue. Of course, it is the fact that we are doing something good for the underprivileged of the world. But beyond that, my lack of belief about any good left in humanity is usually dissipated on this day.
It surprises me every year that I make small but meaningful connections with people, most of them total strangers. The East Asian gentleman who dickers and bargains on a $2 item, until I tell him that we are raising funds for orphans in Africa. He immediately pays up and then gives a small donation on top. The young woman and her friend who, upon hearing what we are doing with the funds, immediately opens her purse and announces that she has money and intends to spend it here. She is wowed that she can help. Several people who gave cheques or cash donations. Our amazing Care Group who went above and beyond the call of duty and gave of themselves, their time, their food, and their money.  
There are more, but the one that got me today was actually caught in the above photograph. I did not know that busylizzy photographed me helping these two ladies until she emailed me her photos just now. I am carrying a large toy for them to their vehicle which was parked down the street and around the corner. The daughter is walking ahead and the mother is talking to me as we walk. This is what she told me. " You do not know what a lift you have given my daughter today. We were just out enjoying the holiday weekend when we came upon your sale. When we read the poster about the funds going for African kids, she was thrilled and that is why she spent so much money there today. She needs to make a connection with Africa, and she feels that she has done that today. You see, recently her son went on a missions trip to Africa and died in an accident there. Finding you and your friends  here today has been the most amazing thing for her. I have seen a heaviness lifted off of her shoulders just a few minutes ago."  
When I asked God, last night, to "bless our sale", I sheepishly admit that I was kind of referring to the rainy forecast. And it did not rain, but instead, there were showers of blessings.   

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Annual Garage Sale

So much happening lately that I am a little slack on the blog posts. I can't believe I did not blog about hockey playoffs or the election. I must be getting old, or something.

I thought I would give a plug for our annual garage sale which is happening this coming Saturday. We are gearing up .... we have been gearing up for a long time now ... and will be ready for the crowds on Saturday morning. I just brought home some nice bookshelves, (4)  a filing cabinet, and a steel shelf for the garage. Our basement is full of all sorts of items that are priced and ready to set out on the tables.

It is a lot of work but very satisfying. Ken and Jan are heading to Africa in June and will be  bringing back a report on how things are going in Mwanza. We are all excited to report that a young woman from the USA is going to Mwanza to work there with the kids full time. We met a few months ago so the connection has been made and that makes it all the more meaningful to help supply funds for the kids of Mwanza.

Thanks in advance to all of you who will be coming to the sale, and a huge thanks to the many, many people who donated items this year again.

Mouat Drive, Abbotsford.   8am - 3pm. Rain or shine.

Monday, May 13, 2013


After having quite enjoyed Charles Dicken's  "Great Expectations", I thought I would venture back into the classics and try another Dickens novel. As I usually do, I read a few reviews on the Kindle site and decided, after reading the same thing in several reviews, that I would endure the ramblings at the beginning of the story and wait for the rewards at the end.
It was a bit of a tough haul. It did not help that I was scattered with my reading lately, and could not read it in one continuous stream. I often forgot who the characters were and where they fit into the story. The story itself is disjointed and one often does not know if one is in Paris or in London. The language is stilted and many of the expressions and words are obscure, making the meanings difficult to grasp.
A mystery unfolds as a doctor is rescued from his prison in France. He is brought to London by his rescuer, his daughter and her banker friend, where they help to exonerate an accused spy who they met on the journey back to England, who later marries the daughter.
Much later in the story, the daughter's husband, of his own free will, ventures into revolutionary France on a mercy mission, where he is arrested and faces the guillotine. A man who wanted to marry the daughter before the spy proposed, cooks up a scheme whereby the spy would be able to escape, but at great price.
When everything finally comes together in the last 100 pages of the book, it is interesting and rewarding reading, but the journey to get to that point was not easy. I began to realise that every image and cliché I have ever conceived of, regarding the French Revolution, came from the pages of this book.
Who am I to say that a classic such as this is not well written? I did not care for it, but that is one man's humble opinion.
2 stars

Friday, May 10, 2013

Time for a Fix

Our deck roof was rotting. Yes, rotting. The corrugated fibreglass was broken and lifting in the wind and rain, and the roof under it, as well as the ceiling on the underside, were showing a lot of mould and mildew. Not safe.
We are enjoying the air and light of this new look, but a new roof will soon be installed, something perhaps tinted and translucent. It has not rained since the roof came off so we will be running around storing chairs, pillows, etc. as soon as the rains come.
Photos to follow if I ever get a round tuit.
As for the gout, it has subsided somewhat. I worked all day and hardly noticed until the end of the day when it started to throb again. I remember when my dad had it at age 70 or so. He was complaining and limping so bad it almost made me laugh. I wanted to say to him "C'mon, man up and ignore it"
Father, forgive me.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Yikes, This is Painful!

Again, due to subject matter, there is no photo. It would be ugly.

So, I am merrily working away today, and about 3 pm I felt a bit of discomfort in my big toe on my right foot. It soon reached the point where I could not ignore it. By 4:30 I was limping. By 5:00 I was fit to be tied. I was afraid to take off my shoe because of what I might find, you know, gangrene, flesh eating disease, or worse.

I really felt like my toe had been crushed by a huge rock. I could barely walk and on the commute home I was having a difficult time applying the brake with my right foot. When I examined my toe with my shoe off, which was an ordeal in itself, I could find no evidence of an ingrown toenail or any other type of infection or injury, but my toe was red, swollen, and extremely painful.

After an accurate self diagnosis and a bit of internet research, I discovered that I have now officially entered the domain of the aged. I thought it would be when I was sixty five and got my first pension check, which I have not yet received even though I have been sixty five for 38 days now. No, it is the day you get your first bout of gout. If this isn't gone by morning, I am going to have to sharpen my axe. The pain of a self inflicted amputation would pale in comparison to what I am enduring at this moment. I will definitely be sleeping with my foot hanging outside of the covers tonight.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

The End of Hockey

      No photograph due to subject matter and copyright issues.

   Tonight I watched the last hockey game until next season. I predicted the Canucks would be out of the first round of playoffs in 4 games, and so far, I am right on the money. Tuesday, the last game will have to be played without my railing and yelling at the boys because I will be watching a High School musical dramatic presentation of "The Sound of Music".
   Why would I do that instead of watch the Canucks lose? For starters, the Canucks have been the prime cause of my high blood pressure. When someone is asked to carry out a task and they do not have the tools or the skills to do the job, it is frustrating to watch them fumble around, thinking they can do it. It is painful. I am sorry, but the Canucks are not a skilled team. Period.
    But the best reason for going to the musical is that my grandson is in it. I know he is a winner. I will come back from that event with a smile on my face.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Something For Everyone

'Sin' is a bad word. Now, people engage in inappropriate behaviour, make mistakes, and do regretful things, but nobody sins. But it seems that in the city where sin abounds, they don't mind calling it what it is. Can you read the logo on the bus? "Vegas, let the sin begin"

And how appropriate to have a 'she-devil' larger than life and in living hell-fire colours to announce the location of one variety of sin. She's hot, but beware the pointy things.

You cannot miss this giant sign on the strip. Actually, most of us are nude daily, at least those of us who shower. Also, I have stripped a lot of wallpaper in my day, so this sign is really talking about me!

And Vegas is all about pleasure, so why not actually call your establishment "The Pleasure Pit"?

Needless to say, the bulk of the city is dedicated to gambling. I am sure that many end up here to scramble for the bus fare home.

If your behaviour was not only inappropriate, but also illegal, you might want to visit this little office. The name puts an innocuous spin on a serious matter.

This sounds like a safe and pleasurable form of gambling to me, sort of risk free and sanitary.

When you have had an awesome time, done some bad things and got away with it, and have a few dollars left in your pocket, and are somewhat inebriated, or just suffering from poor judgement, this is the place you head before you fly home.

For those who prefer gluttony over some of the other sins, there is no shortage of restaurants and diners. I like the Donut/Chinese food combo.

Not only is Elvis, Wayne Newton, and the Beatles exploited beyond reason, so are Donnie and Marie Osmond. This is a clever way around a copyright lawsuit.

This sign raises a few questions. What, exactly, do we exchange for noodles? And, is not Ping, Pang, and Pong three distinct dining experiences?

I never did care for these, but here is a huge building dedicated to having an experience with M & M's. I'll pass and go to the Ping Pang Pong.

And, before you leave for home, you need souvenirs. T-shirts, mugs, pens, shot glasses, hats, and key chains. "If it's in stock we have it". And if it is not in stock, I assume they do not have it.
Just a few of the signs in Las Vegas.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Let's Talk About Marriage

Well, maybe not marriage, but weddings. Las Vegas is known for many things, but I suspect that the "Vegas Wedding" is falling on hard times. Few get married these days, and those that do are probably a bit more serious than some of these signs would have you believe what a wedding is all about. 'Intimate, Elegant, and Legendary' is one of the more classy appeals among the 12 wedding chapels we drove past on the Las Vegas Boulevard.

None of these chapels looked like they were built recently and they were in among older industrial/commercial neighbourhoods, the old section of the strip. The shape of the chapels is often church-like as if to intone the blessings of God.

Theme weddings and even drive-through weddings are advertised. I wonder if the wedding couple could super size their nuptials at the drive-through window?

After thinking about a life long commitment for about 10 minutes, one can simply go to the 24 hr. drive up window and, like a cheese burger, get your wedding on in minutes. If Joan Collins and Michael Jordan were married here, it is good enough for me. And hey, it is a 'White Chapel', more than appropriate for virgins and first timers.

The cartoonish neon and digital display board can convince even the most undecided of couples that NOW is the time to get this wedding going.

Who does not want a complete wedding package? Rings, tuxedos, veils, bouquets, boutonnieres, rent a best man, pre-nuptial agreements, and a toll free number for divorce services are all part of the complete package. The $25 Wayne Newton package is especially appealing.

Just in case cupid is involved, here is the place to get married.

No wonder Elvis keeps showing up. Everything is named after him or fashioned after his lifestyle. Somebody should tell Vegas that he is dead.

"Monbelami Wedding Chapel"? Could this be a serious one?

This one would definitely be my choice if I were to get married. The neon star burst on the roof, the picket fence above the windows (with hearts), a steeple, actual marriage information, and America's favourite. You can't miss with this combination.
Oh, I am married.