Sunday, December 31, 2006

Peace on Earth … Goodwill to All Men

When I was younger, I always made New Year’s resolutions such as “This year I will do all my homework,” or “This year I will keep my room clean.” By the time I became a “wise old teenager”, it became all too apparent to me that New Year’s resolutions were pointless if they were never kept and mine were never kept!

Nowadays, instead of resolving to achieve certain tasks, I take the time to ponder what else will happen in this world other that hasn't already occurred. Another act of terrorism? Another war? Death in my family? A lottery windfall of millions of dollars? (Check www.xe.com for a cash conversion if you are so inclined but believe me… a million dollars is a lot of money!) It ceases to amaze me what life can bring to you in a twelve month period.

As I look back over the past twelve months, I think back of all the unexpected things that have occurred in my life. A good thing … I overcame a health issue. A bad thing … my father was diagnosed with the early stages of Alzheimer’s. Life certainly has its ups and down. As long as there are more ups than downs I consider that year to be a good year. Despite all that has gone on in my life over 2006, I remain thankful for the blessings I have received from God and from those around me.

So… what will occur in my life between now and December 31st, 2007? I can only surmise but I do hope and pray that my ups will be more frequent than my downs … I must remain positive! Despite my musings about not making New Year’s resolutions, I shall make one none-the-less… Let’s hope I succeed in following it through.

“I resolve to remain true to myself.”

Now I know that this resolution is very subjective and quite vague, I might add, but it is the one thing that is going to be important to me throughout this New Year.

So, for all my friends that read my blog… I truly hope and trust that your New Year will be the year where you will meet all your hopes and dreams and that, by the end of 2007, you may look back, smile and say to yourself … “2007 was truly a special year!?

Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 30, 2006

To Boldly Go Where No Man Has Gone Before!


"Space, the final frontier. These are the voyages of the Starship Enterprise. Her five year mission: to explore strange new worlds. To seek out new life and new civilizations. To boldly go where no man has gone before. "


If you are a Star Trek junkie, you would instantly recognize the above five sentences as the words of Captain James Tiberius Kirk of the TV show Star Trek. Here in Canada, the Star Trek shows are known by practically everyone. From what I hear, the show also has a world wide fan base.

Now judging by my introductory paragraph, one would assume that I will be writing about the Star Trek series but I am not. The topic of this blog is rooted into the last statement of the Star Trek opening.

“To boldly go where no man has gone before...”

I came across this photograph in an email that someone sent me the other day. Upon seeing this guy half way up the mountain, I couldn’t help but imagine him slipping off the rock face and doing a backwards 3 ½ inward somersault into the valley below! I failed to notice the beauty of the mountains at first and neither did I see, at first, that this man was a true explorer. Here he was going where no man had probably gone before. Maybe it was my fear of falling that initially took a hold of me.

I have to admit, that though I would tend to stay away from such “high predicaments,” if given the opportunity, I would thoroughly enjoy the exhilarating experience of going where no man has gone before. I could only imagine how that would feel. Though I enjoy teaching, if I was to do life over again, I would have gone into the field of exploration … at sea level, of course.

One day maybe!

Friday, December 29, 2006

The Dartboard From My Childhood

When I was a kid, my parents bought me a dart board for my birthday. Nowadays however, if I bought my son a dartboard for his birthday, he would think I am punishing him. The closest he would probably get to playing darts is if there was a Nintendo Dartboard game…There probably is!

Anyways, move forward to about thirty years… My parents, getting on in age, decided to sell the old house and move into an apartment as the bathroom and bedrooms were all on the second floor which made it difficult for my mother. I was over there the day they moved and, on a whim, decided to head down to the basement to make sure that nothing was left. Fortunately for me, I came across a few things that belonged to me during my childhood. I had actually forgotten about these items and would never have even thought of them ever again had I not scoured the basement one last time. Knowing I would feel guilty about abandoning these “treasured items”; I decided to scoop them up and return them to their rightful heir … me!

A few days ago, I couldn’t help but notice that the price tag never made it off the dart board. I couldn’t help but laugh when I saw the price my parents paid for this birthday gift… $2.75 (Canadian dollars.) Now for you who are not familiar with Canadian Currency, that would equate to £1.20, US$2.37, 8.37 Malaysia Ringgits and 1.80 Euro. Today, if I was to purchase a dartboard, I would have to end up paying CAN$38.00!! Now that’s an increase of approximately 1381%! What’s with that??

“Inflation” they say… Yah well you can say that again! It amazes me that prices have gone “sky high” in basically everything and yet wages stay the same. The money must be going somewhere but it sure isn’t coming to me!

Now I suppose that since I have had this dart board for about thirty five years, I must have got my money’s worth out of it but if you were to count the dart holes in the board (please don’t!) you would conclude that I hardly used it. So, for my new year’s resolution, I am going to play the heck out of the dart board so that I become satisfied that I have squeezed every penny out of it! On the other hand, maybe I should just let bygones be bygones and make my son play the game… after all, if it was good enough for his “old man,” it should be good enough for him!

By the way, those darts that are stuck in my board … Don’t let the photo fool you … the bull’s eyes were shoved into it by hand to make me look good (did it?) … the closest I really ever got to the centre is where the bottom dart is. Maybe I should have stuck to playing cards!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

The Demise of a Wagon

While I was out walking on Christmas afternoon, I came across this old wagon. Now, as you can probably tell, it was probably “put out to pasture” many years ago as the wheels had taken root right into the ground. In its best of days, it probably serviced the farmer’s field by carrying the thousands of apples that this farm produces annually. Now, in its retirement, it is nothing but a relic of the way things used to be.

But why keep it around? Maybe it is a reminder of days gone by. Now, I am not a wagon historian by any means but by looking at other wagon photos on the Net, this wagon must be at least one hundred years old!

Just off to the right of this photo, there stood a Massy Ferguson farm tractor with an environmentally controlled “cockpit” of dials, controls and other high tech equipment in stark contrast of the soon-to-be sunken wagon. How times have changed! Sometimes we need to see the contrast between the old and the new in order to appreciate how easier life is for us in the now 21st century.

Maybe the farmer left this derelict in his field as a stark reminder to us of what our lifestyle may become down the road when our new fangled equipment gives up the ghost and sinks down into the quagmire of time!

“Appreciate what you have now!” he may be saying “before what we hold of value gets put out of its misery!”

Then again, maybe the farmer was just too lazy to take the time to clean up this piece of junk and all I am doing is trying to eulogise its demise … Either way, I just liked this picture!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

“If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun.”

During one of my Christmas shopping excursions, I came across a greeting card with a quote from American actress Katherine Hepburn (1907 – 2003) which goes like this:

“If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun.”

I couldn’t help but pull this card off the rack as it struck a chord which rings so true. Now, I am not proposing that we should break the law or break every rule in the book, but I do believe that sometimes, rules stifle one’s creative juices of life and therefore, we should cross over and break some rules in order to experience life in a way that we would otherwise miss out on.

I have a friend who fits this category to a tee. She is in her forties and is never satisfied to live like other woman in her forties. She wants to live life to the fullest; breaking the rules of where society would like to place her and living life on the edge. Most of her friends are “mature women” who would never do anything like what the lady is doing on the rollercoaster as it would not be “lady-like.” Well, not my friend! She is spontaneous and fun loving. It is not unusual for her to dress up for Halloween. It is quite common-place to wrestle with her children. It is a hoot watching her flirt and tease. She is not afraid to try something new. It is not unusual to see her attempting to try something without the fear of failing. She is certainly a wonderful and unique individual.

I have often been envious of people like her. As a matter of fact, I wish I had my friend’s disposition that enables her to be such a unique individual. Over the years, however, I have become someone who is not afraid to become more carefree… Maybe she has influenced me more than I realize. Either way, I have realized that sometimes, in order for us to really experience life to the fullest, we have to cut our own trail in order to arrive at where we would be most comfortable in life … being ourselves!

So, the next time you feel like doing something new and different, don’t worry about whether it is socially acceptable or politically correct to do so. Take a chance and do the unexpected and you might surprise yourself and feel life the way it ought to be felt … exhilarating!

Monday, December 25, 2006

White Christmas?

I'm dreaming of a white Christmas
Just like the ones I used to know
Where the treetops glisten,
and children listen
To hear sleigh bells in the snow

I'm dreaming of a white Christmas
With every Christmas card I write
May your days be merry and bright
And may all your Christmases be white

I'm dreaming of a white Christmas
With every Christmas card I write
May your days be merry and bright
And may all your Christmases be white


Irving Berlin, 1942







Okay! Okay! What’s with this?? Now I don’t know about where you live but over here in Canada (aka The Great White North), we are supposed to have snow for Christmas … not a little bit, not nothing but a lot. Now, as you can see from my photographs that were taken this afternoon, we did not greet Christmas morning in the traditional fashion. I opened the door to let the dog out into the green snow-less yard and I could hear sparrows chirping!

Okay … so … what is with that???

The other day, I tracked down a copy of the documentary An Inconvenient Truth by former American Vice-President Al Gore and I think that his conclusion is correct when he asserts that Global Warming is responsible. Now I am not going to get onto that subject right now though you can be sure that you will be hearing about that one from me soon.

Anyways, back to Christmas morning … We had a great Christmas morning around the Christmas tree. With my daughter away at college during the school year and my son working after school and on weekends, we get little or no time to all be together so holidays like this are always very special.

So, when you actually think about it, dreaming of a white Christmas or a green Christmas is really immaterial to what is important … a loving Christmas. So to all you that pass by my blog often or even just once in awhile, have yourself a very merry Christmas!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Old Friends

Old friends, old friends,
Sat on their park bench like bookends.
A newspaper blown though the grass
Falls on the round toes of the high shoes of the old friends.

Old friends, winter companions, the old men
Lost in their overcoats, waiting for the sunset.
The sounds of the city, sifting through trees,
Settle like dust on the shoulders of the old friends.

Can you imagine us years from today,
Sharing a park bench quietly?
How terribly strange to be seventy.
Old friends, memory brushes the same years
Silently sharing the same fears

Simon & Garfunkel (1968)


Though I know what a friend is, I looked up in a dictionary to see what they have to say and I came up with this … “A person you know well and regard with affection and trust.”

Throughout our lives, we are taught to pick our friends wisely. We are also often judged by the friends we keep. A friend is someone by your side in good times and bad. It is someone who would give their life for your safety; It is someone who would protect you at all cost. It is someone who would love you for who you are regardless of your imperfections, idiosyncrasies and mistakes.

I suppose, however … does this friend have to be a person?

A few years ago, I came across this picture painted by John Weiss and it struck me as being the perfect example of an old friendship. A dog loves you no matter what you are or who you are. It doesn’t judge you by what you believe nor does it betray you because of what you do. It will walk by you and protect you and save you from harms way. They are, in my opinion, more loyal than many friends that we have had over our lifetime.

Here’s to dogs ... our “old friends!”

Thursday, December 21, 2006

A Christmas Punch Recipe

Well, as you all know, Christmas can be one heck of a busy season. What with my daughter returning home from college, my son working extra hours, numerous Christmas parties, shopping! shopping! and more shopping, visiting friends and families, my sister returning from the East Coast (20 hours of driving away) and who knows what else, there is hardly any time for one of my favourite past times … Blogging!

And so since today is one of those hectic holiday days, I have decided to treat you with a little something that was given to me the other day… a recipe for a hot punch called “Warm Spiced Cranberry.” Now, I actually tried it and it was very good so if you are so inclined, give it a try yourself and let me know what you think.

Warm Spiced Cranberry – Pretty amber colour with a rose hue. Not-too-sweet, fruity blend with a hint-of-cinnamon drink.

4 cups( 1 litre) Cranberry Cocktail
2 cups(500 ml) Prepared orange juice
½ cup (125 ml) Lemon Juice
¼ cup (60 ml) Granulated sugar
2 Cinnamon sticks (4inch or 10cm lengths)
4 Whole cloves
4 cups (1 litre) Ginger ale (room temperature)

Combine first 6 ingredients in large saucepan. Heat on low, stirring often until simmering. Cover. Simmer for 15 minutes. Pour into warm punch bowl.

Add ginger ale. Stir. Makes about 10 cups (2.5 litres).

Now, I really liked "the stuff" but please don't be nasty to me if you find it terrible!! Just kidding! I know you wouldn't do that!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Death of a Child

I went to a funeral today. The stepson of a friend of mine was tragically killed on the railroad tracks near their home. I could report on the details of the accident but the focus here isn’t on how the accident occurred but instead what his family is going through and what they will continue to be going through throughout the rest of their lives.

Jake was a young man of nineteen years who loved life, enjoyed making people laugh and wasn’t afraid to show love towards his family and close friends. He had a talent for playing the guitar, skateboarding and teasing the heck out of those around him. I never knew the teenager but if he was anything like my friend, he must have been well loved by those around him.

Looking around the chapel as I sat listening to the minister speak about Jake’s life, I couldn’t help but notice the grief that showed on the face’s of everyone there. Looking across to the front of the chapel, my heart ached to see my friend wracked in grief and pain. I cannot even try to imagine what this has done to him as a father. A father tries to protect their children and nothing can possibly be worse when fate takes over control and wrenches them out of our hands. I am a father and I hope and pray that nothing like this will ever occur to my own flesh and blood.

Tonight, now that the celebration of Jake’s life has been completed, the family will have to go on through this “festive season” with one less person at the dinner table. They still have another son and my friend knows that not all is lost as he still has this other teenager who needs his strength and guidance along with a wife who still needs his support. I have no doubt that my friend is a strong man. There is no question in my mind that he will prevail and continue to be the excellent father and husband that he always has been.

In closing, I want to offer my sincere condolences to my friend and his family in the loss of an apple of their eye. I truly hope that time and good thoughts of Jake will help heal the suffering that they will be going through for many years.

Be strong my friend!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Oh Canada!

Yes, I am Canadian! Well, at least I have been for the last 40 years as of today. On December 19, 1966, my father moved the family from England to Canada. It was freezing when we arrived at Dorval Airport. The snow, which I had never seen before, was piled higher than me! The wind! The freezing rain! It certainly was an experience I will never forget as my father grabbed a hold of my hand and dragged me through the “white stuff.”

Now, as I said, that was exactly forty years ago today. A lot has occurred in my life since then and though I was not born here, I will always consider myself a true Canadian! I am also proud to say that my children are the first generation of my family born in Canada and I hope that Canadian blood will always be strong in my family’s veins for generations to come.

Now, that is not to say that I am not proud of my British heritage as well. As a matter of fact, I have strong Irish blood in me also. I have never returned to England but one day soon, I will stand on England’s shores once more and when that happens, I will know that I am home away from home.

So, I suppose you could call me a “Brit” or a “Canuck.” Either way, I am who I am and whatever that is … I am proud of it!

Congratulations Mum, Dad, Sis! Happy Anniversary! …We made it!

Monday, December 18, 2006

My Jean Beliveau Table Hockey Game

When I was a kid, I had a Jean Beliveau Table Hockey Game. I spent hours and hours playing this game and I would have spent even more time if I had more people to play with. Unlike today’s games made out of plastic and paper, my Jean Beliveau Table Hockey Game was made of metal. You could drop it, slam it and play it hard and it still wouldn’t break.

Over my teenage years, my desire to play with my game waned and it was soon relegated to the basement where the dampness of time took its toll on my metal game. Years later, after my stint in university I packed up my things and left home with everything I owned including my… You guessed it... Jean Beliveau Table Hockey Game! Only by this time it was partially rusted out. I took it to my new place of abode and again relegated it to the basement. After a few more years of dampness, the game was somewhat useless and so I trashed it but not before I salvaged the rods, players plus a few other pieces. I really don’t know why I chose to salvage it but, later on down the road, the pieces came in handy as I made a tidy profit off them over eBay … On eBay, you can sell basically anything!

In the past few years, as my enjoyment turned to collecting nostalgic pieces of my past, I decided to try and track down another Jean Beliveau Table Hockey Game only this time in pristine condition … and “waddya know” … I found one on … You guessed it … eBay … for $25 American. Now, being the procrastinating individual that I sometimes am, I missed the auction and was relegated to the sideline of losers.

Over these past years since my eBay loss, I have diligently looked for another one of these exact games but have yet to become successful. So, for all you folks out there … if you happen to see a Jean Beliveau Table Hockey Game, let me know and I will probably pay an “arm and a leg for it” … Well, not exactly an arm and a leg but I will pay you a finder’s fee!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

My Parents & I

My parents have been married for 56 years and they are still together. As with most relationships, they have been through good times and bad and yet, somehow, they have managed to get through it all. They have lived in four different countries and have never returned to any of them after they emigrated.

For the most part, my mom was a stay-at-home mom while my father worked in a job he hated. It wasn’t until I became older that I fully appreciated how my father went to work every day because it was his responsibility to provide for his family. I didn’t get along with my father throughout my formative years and as a result, I never really had much to do with him throughout my life until recently. As a result, my mother was affected in that, she hardly saw me either.

Over the years, I often figured that when my father dies, my grief will lie in that I never really bonded with him like a son should. I often envied some of my friends’ relationships with their dads. To me, my mother was a saint! What more can I say? I know that some of her idiosyncrasies drove me crazy at times but that wasn’t her problem… it was mine. She was my mom and that’s all that really mattered.

Recently, my father became ill and my mother frail and I, as their son, picked up the slack of their everyday living. It is tough at times but I do it because it is my responsibility as a son and besides, it has given me the opportunity to spend much more time with them. This is a good thing because I know that if they passed on in life without me being in their lives, I would have eternal regrets later on.

One day down the road, I will visit their graves and know that I didn’t lose them after all and that I got to know them all over again before it was too late. It is my lifelong goal to stay close to my children and them close to me. What kind of father would I be if I let what happened to my father and I happen to my children and I?

The moral here is … Never let the relationship with your parents or children get away from you because I have no doubt that when they die or when you die, someone is going to grieve and have regrets for the rest of their life.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

My Desire to Fly

High Flight

Oh! I have slipped the surely bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds – and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of – wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlight silence. Hov'ring there,
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I've topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or even eagle flew –
And, while with silent lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand and touched the face of God.


John Gillespie Magee, Jr. (1922 - 1941)
No 412 Fighter Squadron, RCAF

I have always wanted to fly. Back when I was a youngster, it was my plan to become a fighter pilot but, for whatever reason, that was not meant to be. My father was a fighter pilot during World War Two and I suppose that some of his stories may have intrigued me but regardless; it was my own dream of flying high the put me on that path.

I never made it to my destination but the love of flying has never waned. It was always there and always will be. Though I never did learn how to fly and quite likely never will, anything to do with flying has always been a passion of mine. I can only imagine what the feeling of “dancing the skies” or “touching the face of God” would feel like. I envy the individuals who can do all that the poem says and more and yet I am glad for them to have experienced all that flying has to offer.

So, the next time you watch a plane flying high, just remember that the pilot up there is doing “a hundred things you would not have dreamed of!”

See you later! Gotta fly!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Definitions in Nature


Gnarly




...used of old persons or old trees; covered with knobs or knots; "gnarled and knotted hands"; "a knobbed stick"




I could never understand how something as gnarly as this could look so beautiful! At least to me, that is! A rotted out birch bark tree in a swampy areas along side a trail I sometimes go for walks on.
Dangerous

...involving or causing danger or risk; liable to hurt or harm

I should have thought twice before risking my life taking this photograph. In order to get this shot, I had to balance on a 3' diameter slippery corrigated water pipe aproximately 8' above cascading water.

Deadly


"of an instrument of certain death; baneful: exceedingly harmful; a fatal accident"

A beautiful but deadly dam in Paris, Ontario, Canada. Beautiful enough to view along its banks and yet deadly enough to canoers who dare risk venturing to close!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Summers in Port Dover, Ontario, Canada


Port Dover (N 42 46.933, W 080 12.073). In 1943, my wife’s family built a cottage on the shores of Lake Erie in Port Dover. Lake Erie is one of the five Great Lakes that run along the U.S.A.-Canada border and are considered largest group of fresh water lakes on Earth. Lake Erie is the smallest of the five.

Ever since the cottage was built, her family has vacationed there every year. Five generations have spent quality time in this cottage and, without a doubt, many more generations will continue to do so. It is here that family members from around Ontario, Canada gather to share family holidays and family experiences. We have seen our children grow up on its sandy shores as well as miss the company of those who passed away during the cold winter months during the off season. The memories of this cottage will always be a tie that binds the family together.

I have come to love this quaint little town of Port Dover. It has been a town since 1835 though a settlement existed there around 1794 but was later razed to the ground by the Americans during the war of 1812. Small shops are scattered throughout the town as well as various venues of entertainment. The Arbor hotdog stand has been a favorite eating place for many Ontarians for well over 80 years as well as the best place to pick up a drink called the “golden glow.” If you are interested in viewing the beauty of this town, check out the following web site for some nice photos of this beautiful Canadian location.

My favourite place to spend time there is on the lighthouse pier. Every morning, while at the cottage, I get up early, make my way down to the coffee shop for a coffee, pick up a newspaper at the nearby newspaper stand and head off to the pier to start the day off by myself. I have found that this is the best way to start my day… an opportunity to sort out things in my mind while relaxing. At night, I return to the pier and stay there until I am the last one there. So, the pier at Port Dover starts my day as well as finishes it!

I could say so much more about Port Dover but I think that everything could be summed up in the following statement found on their official web site…

“Beaches and boardwalks, sunshine and sandals, famous hotdogs and fresh perch, fancy yachts and fishing tugs, summer theatre and waterfront pubs, fresh hand-cut fries and ice creams ... all waiting for you here, in Port Dover! "

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Unexpected Visitor (Conclusion)

In yesterday's report, I had just found out that I had been conned into paying for that elderly lady's breakfast...

Okay… okay… Now what the heck am I going to do??

Upon quickly explaining to the manager about how this lady just conned me, all three of us exited the restaurant in search of the con. Feeling absolutely foolish and angry at myself, I sincerely hoped that we would find her so that I could really tell her what I thought of her shenanigans.

Surprisingly, in the parking lot, we found her sitting in her car staring off into space as if she was in a trance. Standing in front of the car, I proceeded to show my annoyance at her. I don’t know why I stood in front of the car because if she had wanted to, she could have driven right over me but none the less, I had no intention of paying that bill.

She did not respond but continued to stare out towards the horizon. After a futile exercise of gesticulating, the manager tried to open the front passenger side door; it was locked. Okay, round two … I swung around to the front driver’s side door and, noticing it unlocked, I swung my hand towards the door handle, grasped it, wrenched it open, grabbed the old lady’s leg and pulled …

Just like I am pulling yours!

Okay, relax please … ‘Don’t be hating me’ for this story. I just wanted to provide to you the experience of how I felt after hearing this account of one's experiences. Throughout this account, he had me chomping at the bit to find out what happened in the end. I was sitting on the very edge of my seat, waiting, with bated breath, for every word that came out of his mouth. Words such a “wow!,” “no way!,” “unbelievable!” and “you gotta be kidding!” spewed out of my mouth in unison to the words from his account. By the end of the story, my heart was beating faster than it was before hearing of the account but as I found out that he was “pulling my leg,” I was ready to pulverize him (not really ... I did laugh it off later on.) Though I felt a little foolish for being so gullible, I had to laugh at such an ingenious story. I had been told this story over 25 years ago and still, to this day, I have not forgotten it. I think it will always be a favorite of mine. So, in the future, please don't disbelieve evrything else I tell you. I promise I will not do this to you again... ever!

There is one positive note however ... look at it in this light… At least you can sit there with no one around. He got to have the last laugh with me right in front of him getting to watch my expression!

I’ll get him back someday… It’s just a matter of time! Stay tuned!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The Unexpected Visitor (Part Two)

So … Yesterday we finished off where the grieving mother asked me to say “goodbye” to her as she exited the restaurant.

Upon this request, I was stunned! Who, in their right mind would ask such an outrageous request? Now, as far as I was concerned, was way beyond the limit of reasonable. Looking up at her, I prepared to tear a strip off her and lecture her on the appropriateness of such a request but as I looked up at her face, and noticing the desperation in her eyes, I relented and agreed to comply to her request.

I watched as she made her way across the restaurant floor and towards the cash register. Just as the cashier approached, the elderly lady turned towards me, smiled and waved. In return, I called across the restaurant

“Goodbye Mom, I love you!”

At this, it seemed like the entire patron population turned to witness this guy yelling across the floor to his “mother.” It wasn’t until I looked around that I felt like the fool that I was and rightly so. I felt foolish and acted foolish. Sensing the way I felt and annoyed at it, my friend assured me that I did the right thing and that, if it made an old lady feel good then, I have nothing to feel embarrassed about.

At that, the old lady waved once more, said a few words to the cashier and exited the scene.

By this point, with all that happened, I had lost my appetite and decided to just sit and wait for my friend to finish. Sensing the way I felt, she too decided to call it a morning. Asking for and receiving the bill, I went up to the front to pay it.

“That will be $24.50 please.” The cashier said.

Whoa! This was too much! Upon questioning her about the amount of the bill, it was then and there I had learned that not all in life was what it appeared to be. This elderly lady may have been elderly but she probably was not a grieving mother.

“Your mother told me that you, her son, was going to be paying for her bill.”

... So, can you see where this is going? Well, stay tuned for the conclusion tomorrow.

Monday, December 11, 2006

The Unexpected Visitor (Part One)

So... Here I was with my buddy having breakfast in this quaint breakfast/coffee shop when all of a sudden this middle aged lady approaches me and begins to speak. She looked like she could definitely use some rest and a change of clothes but who am I to judge? Now prior to her approach, I had noticed that she had been watching me from beyond the other side of the restaurant. It was as if I could feel her eyes peering into me. To compensate for this feeling I was having, I moved over a little bit in order to hide from her gazes.

“You look exactly like my son,” she says to me.

I really didn’t know how to answer since this is not what I was quite expecting. I kind of figured that she wasn’t going to ask me if I was enjoying my breakfast or what the time was but I certainly didn’t expect her to inform me of my resemblance and neither was I prepared for what she was about to say next.

“He’s dead; you know … He died three years ago in a car accident on the Interstate 75.

Now that was most certainly not a cool thing to say! Why would anybody want to ruin my breakfast by telling me that I look like some dead guy? What a way to start my day! Now, I had the piece of mind to tell this lady to take a hike and find some other guy to look like her son but, being the considerate guy that I think I am and knowing that she was probably just a grieving mother, I made some curt comment and resumed my breakfast while hoping that she would take the hint and move on to some other patron to torment.

“I wonder if you could do something for me,” she continued. “I was just about to leave here and I was wondering if you could do me a favour. It would mean the world to me in light of the passing of my son.”

Now by this point, I was willing to do almost anything to get this lady off my back and so I complied and asked her what I could possibly do for her.

"Just as I leave the restaurant, I would love it if you could wave to me and say 'goodbye mom, I love you!' .… This is what my son used to do and I would really appreciate it if you could do this."

… Now there is more to the rest of this story but suffice it to say I was stunned at such a request. Normally I wouldn’t cut a story off at such a crucial point but my rule is never to blog such a long piece of writing! Besides, I am running out of time to post this today. I will, however, complete the rest of it over the next two days. Please believe me that this is not a method to get you to return but simply a matter of time.

I assure you however, that this did, in no way, end as simple as one would expect.

adiĆ³s amigo!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

My Microfilm Bible ... Found!

If you had read my December 09, 2006 post regarding my flooded basement, you would remember about me mentioning that I had found two items I had lost while cleaning up the mess. The first being my cell phone case and the other I had not identified but said that I would report on it at a later date. Well … now is that later date!

Back in the mid seventies, my father had given me a copy of the Holy Bible. Now, this was no ordinary copy as it was printed in a 5cm square (2 square inches for our metric challenged friends!) piece of hard plastic microfiche. As you can see from the photo, this is an extremely small Bible. I have been told that American astronaut Ed Mitchel carried it to the moon on Apollo 14. It is also reported that Israeli astronaut air force Col. Ilan Ramon took a copy of it up on the space shuttle Columbia during its final and fateful mission.

According to the microfiche, there are 1245 pages in this particular King James Version. Now I am not sure as to the purpose of this copy of the Bible since its small size is of no advantage at all since, in order to read it, you would have to carry a microscope larger and heavier than a regular Bible which would defeat the purpose of carrying such a small Bible in the first place. I suppose, however, that you could carry the microfiche from point “A” to point “B” as long as you have a microscope at one of those points. I was told that copies of this mini Bible were often smuggled into communist countries towards the end of the cold war.

Anyways, back to my personal story … By the early eighties, I had lost my copy of this Bible and spent many an hour looking for it. It finally got to the point where I gave up looking for it and, over time, forgot all about it … until, 25 years later, when I was in the process of throwing out “flood water files” that were stored in cardboard boxes under the basement stairs. Well the rest is history … the missing Bible which was lost was now found! In some sort of way, I am glad that the flood occurred (well… maybe that is a bit of a stretch but you get the idea) since had I not had a reason to clean up the water, I would not have found it.

I suppose that the point to this report is that it always feels good to find something that has been lost and so, despite the crisis of the flood, it did bring some good to my day. It often seems that no matter how rough a day you can have, there is always something good that could come out of it … Just trying to remain positive I suppose!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

Have yourself a merry little Christmas,
Let your heart be light
From now on,
our troubles will be out of sight
Have yourself a merry little Christmas,
Make the Yule-tide gay,
From now on,
our troubles will be miles away.
Here were are as in olden days,
happy golden days of yore.
Faithful friends who are dear to us
gather near to us once more.
Through the years we all will be together
If the Fates allow
Hang a shining star upon the highest bough.
And have yourself a merry little Christmas now!


Homelessness has become a major problem in our society today both in economically developed nations as well as in the developing world. These include people who, for whatever reason, have no permanent shelter as a result of war, environmental disasters, lack of resources or some other crisis in their life to mention just a few.

Each and every day becomes a challenge for these individuals as they seek out temporary shelter, food, clothing, health treatment and security not to mention love and self esteem. At this time of year, their plight becomes more obvious to them as they observe the community around them in the Christmas spirit. How often do we walk by and pretend to not notice the plight of these people? Whether we ignore them or not, this social dilemma will never disappear until we step forth and become a part of a solution of support, caring and concern.

So, when you sing the carol “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” remember that there are people out there who will not be having that.

As the AT&T ad campaign once said … “Reach out and touch someone.”

Friday, December 08, 2006

Procrastination

Last summer my basement sump pump broke down. Now being the handy guy that I think I am I took it apart and fixed it … if that is what you call it. After I replaced it into basement floor, I discovered that the flotation switch was now not working as designed. So… did I take it out and fix it again? Oh no! Of course not! I gotta do it another day... can’t do it today! Too much to do! I should have replaced the entire pump in the first place but but did I? Oh no! Couldn’t do that! It wasn’t that high a priority on my list. So a week goes by and then a month.

Ahead four months later … I get home from work and call out for my dog but get no response. Figuring this to be unusual, I go down to the basement where she usually hangs out only to find her in her basket surrounded by a lake of water. Fortunately she had no where to float away and since she is just a weiner (she actually is), she hunkered down in her basket like Moses did. “Aaaaaaaaaaaargh!!” I could not believe it! So here I was rushing around and not really doing much to solve my crisis. Fortunately I learned from my last flood 16 years ago that the first thing you do is look around for any valuable or sentimental stuff that may be sucking in the darn water... Next was to figure out a way to get the sump pump back up and running… successful. Next I had to secure a wet vac to suck up the water… done.

Forty eight hours later I was still working on the “friggen floor.” It was most certainly a weekend from hell. Now, one good thing did come from the flood as I found my new cell phone case that I had lost about eight months ago. I also found one other item which I had lost about 25 years ago and which I will talk about here at a later date. I was happy about the phone case as I had just spent $25 for it the week prior to losing the darn thing but it was the other item that I was ecstatic about finding.

I suppose that the other good thing about this major flood which I compare to the flood of Noah was that it made me clean out the basement. I couldn’t believe how much I really needed to throw away. Sometimes we all need a crisis to help us get on the right track. I suppose that good things do come from personal tragedy… not that this was really a tragedy since the real tragedy was that my basement was a total catastrophe in the first place!

So … one week later and I am still getting things straightened out.

Now, back to the sump pump… I ripped the old thing out and bought a new one from the hardware store… One that works! Today I will install it and hopefully the next time it rains, my basement will be dry! Ahhhhhhhh!Yes!!!

So the moral of the story is?... I don’t think I need to insult your intelligence… you already can figure that one out yourself…I just wish I had used my brain to figure it out four months ago… “Hey Dave (speaking to myself)… sump pump not working? Water comes in during a big rain storm…So instead of procrastinating, fix it BEFORE the next major rain storm…knucklehead!!!!!”

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Canadian Winters

I don’t know about you but I live in a country that gets pretty cold between the months of December to March. Now I don’t just mean cool, rainy and windy … I am talking about frigid, snowy, slushy, slippery and just downright nasty! Just today, the temperature dipped below minus 10 degrees Celsius (14 degree Fahrenheit). If the weather is true to form, by January it should as cold as minus 20 degrees Celsius (minus 2 degrees Fahrenheit).

Currently, I have a friend who is vacationing in Cuba where the weather is forecasted as being very hot and sunny… Now that’s where I want to be! So, for all you folks in the hot weather climate, I envy you!

Now if you envy me because you are always hot and think it would be nice to live in a cold climate for a change, you need to be straightened out. A Word of advice? Stay where you are … Do not come here to Canada … I know that the land is beautiful and I know that the people are grand but you don’t need the aggravation of freezing your behind off. Think of frostbite! Think of hypothermia! Think of how it would be to live inside one big friggen ice box! You get the picture? I sure hope you do because I don’t want to see you here in pain which you will most certainly be once you get off the plane.

I could show you some magnificent photos of how beautiful our Northern forests look in the middle of winter but you really don’t want to see it for yourself if you have to experience the feeling of your nose freezing, your fingers and toes going numb and your ears about to fall off. So take it from me … it is unpleasant living in Canada in the dead of winter.

Now despite all that I have said, I must admit that I have a love-hate relationship for my country. I hate the cold but love basically everything else that Canada has to offer. I am a proud Canadian and I would wear the Canadian flag on my backpack wherever I would travel in the world. So, if you want to experience the beauty of Canada … think summer time!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Those Who Forget the Past Are Condemned to Repeat it

George Santayana (1863 – 1952), a Spanish philosopher, essayist, poet, and novelist once said that “those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it.” Throughout our lives, we have often been reminded to learn from our mistakes. Time and time again we see people around us making the same errors in judgment without learning from them.

It reminds me of the Kingston Trio lyrics to the song “Where Have all the Flowers Gone?” When they sing "When will they ever learn? … When will they ever learn?”

When we read the histories of people such as Adolph Hitler (Germany), Robert Mugabe (Zimbabwe), Charles Taylor (Liberia), and Slobodan Milosevic (former Yugoslavia), we wonder why the world allows more and more of these individuals to crop up without resistance. We all know what happens when we tolerate someone hating the Jews. We know what happens when we act complacently as someone leads a country such as Zimbabwe into massive food shortages, drought and economic collapse. When know what happens when we look the other way when someone starts and sustains a bloody civil war in Liberia. We know what happens when we ignore someone who orchestrates the death of 200,000 Bosnians. If we know, then why don’t we act? Why don't we stop it? It is our complacency that causes us to repeat our mistakes of the past. What we need to do is to fight for what is right and protect the weak.

If we, as members of humanity, take a stand for human rights and do what it takes to stop monsters such as these, we could stop them dead in their tracks. Now is the time to fight for the oppressed, the tortured and the hungry. What will it take for us to learn from our mistakes of apathy before we take a stand? What will it take for us to learn that indifference is not the answer? We need to remember the mistakes made by others in the past if we are to protect humanity in the future.

Remember the past and take a stand for humanity!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The Lighthouse

Sometimes a photograph can just reach out and take a hold of me in ways more powerful that even a woman could … well, I wouldn’t go that far but sometimes photographs can grab my attention to the point that my feet stay steadfast while my eyes and imagination become riveted! Photography has been a passion of mine for many years and I hope that one day, I will not only be able to appreciate the photographs of others but also to be able to create beautiful works of art myself.

Last week, as I walked past an art kiosk in the corridor of one of the malls in my hometown, my eyes took hold of a photograph that immediately caught hold of my attention. I later found out that is was called Phares dans la Tempete, la Jument by Jean Guichard. Now I often walk past this part of the mall but a photograph from there has never caught my attention like this one has. In the midst of one of the most powerful forces of nature, a man finds solitude (if you look carefully, you can see him in the doorway) … A place where he can be alone … away from the distracting noises of one’s everyday life. What a collision of imagery!

I have often thought of the idea of living in a lighthouse. It is often seen as a very lonely job and yet sometimes that is exactly what I would need to be able to sort out the clutter in my life and in my mind. Here, I would find solace and solitude. Now, unless I can actually find a lighthouse like this where I could spend a part of my time on a yearly basis, I suppose I will have to settle for a copy of this photograph as I have no doubt that this second best could reach out and take me to a place in my mind that no other picture or idea can. $125 for the photograph! Is it worth the price? Every penny of it!

One more thing … I wonder how the heck they ever built that thing in the middle of that raging water?

Monday, December 04, 2006

Ken and Mary Donald

My mother has an appointment to attend to this afternoon but I am unable to drive her there as I will still be at work. She called me a few minutes ago and told me that Ken and Mary Donald would be driving her. Now I have known Ken and Mary Donald for over thirty years and so, knowing the way they are, it didn’t surprise me in the least that they would be helping my mother in this predicament.

During the formative years of my life, Ken and Mary were two of the four youth leaders in the church I attended. I spent many a Sunday morning in Sunday School listening to “Mr. Donald” as he expounded God’s word to the eager ears of the Senior Teens group … Well maybe not “eager ears” but ears none-the-less ears. What he spoke to us about, however, I have never forgotten. He would stand there and show us out of the Bible how we as Christian youth should live, love and learn. To me, it wasn’t really what he spoke about but how he lived his life in front of us. He and his wife “Mrs. Donald” loved what they did and they loved who they did it for … God’s children.

On occasion throughout my life, I have had the opportunity to speak to my former youth leaders and every time the opportunity has arisen, I have tried to show them, through my actions, how much they are appreciated by me. I have often thought that the former youth of their youth groups should reunite before it is too late and honour them for their undying dedication in bringing God’s love to hundreds of youth throughout the years. They are most certainly a blessed couple.

So, Ken and Mary, thank you for the influence that you have been in my life. I owe you more than you can imagine!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Holy Blogger Batman!

So where have all those wholesome TV shows gone? Leave it to Beaver? Now there’s a show that taught values! What about the Andy Griffith Show? I swear that there wasn’t a non-wholesome character in any of the episodes. You could spend hours talking about all those old shows. They may have been somewhat corny but they certainly taught healthy values.

As I think back to my younger days, the one show that comes to mind when I think of values being taught was Batman the television series (1966). Now they were corny but wholesome show! If you could just get through the “POWS!” and the “BAMS!” you would see what I mean. On many occasions, Batman would have some healthy advice for his sidekick Robin. Whether it be drinking orange juice or wearing a seatbelt, Batman was always there trying to instil the virtues of healthy and safe living into Robin and the viewers. I remember one episode where Batman made Robin pick up a piece of litter that he dropped onto the pavement. After a ten second lecture on littering, a contrite Robin picked up the piece of litter and deposited it into the trash can which just happened to already be in the scene. There were some instances where Batman would be lecturing poor Robin right in the middle of taking on a villain and his thugs … The guy just didn’t let up!

“Now Robin, we have to beat the crap outta Mr. Freeze here quickly so you could get to bed on time so you could be up early in the morning in time for your wholesome breakfast of orange juice, toast and eggs so that you can concentrate in school and get good marks and …" yada yada yada … You get the picture.

So, how corny does one have to be in order to be wholesome? I suppose in light of the crap that studios dish out today in contrast to what we watched when we were younger, corniness, I suppose, can be justified. Despite Batman’s bantering about how to be a model citizen, I would much rather children watch Batman and Robin dual with villains than them watching shows such as Bevis and Butthead!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Ockham's Razor

According to Wikipedia, Ockham's razor is a principle attributed to the 14th-century English logician and Franciscan friar William of Ockham. Basically, what this principle says is that when given two equally valid explanations for a phenomenon, one should embrace the less complicated formulation.

So, for example, what if all of a sudden, while bathed under an intense beam of light, my friend was simply drawn up into the air by some invisible force. Should we safely assume that he was abducted by an alien space craft? After all, what else could it be? Well … isn’t that what our friend William of Ockham is saying? Why else would he have disappeared? Wouldn’t alien abduction be the most obvious reason?

Now there may be somewhat of a hint of humor in my conjecture but I think you get the point … I think that William of Ockham hit the nail on the head. All too often we try to explain a way of getting around something we don’t understand when, in fact, the answer may be staring us right in the face. Sometimes it is that simple. Maybe it is time to admit that “Yes,” the Bermuda triangle really does sink ships and down planes or “Yes,” Moses really did part the Red Sea. Sometimes, it is easier to keep it simple ... Kind of reminds me of the KISS method ... Keep it simple stupid (No, I am not calling anyone stupid. It's just a saying.)

So, what about it? Are you willing to pay heed to William of Ockham? Or do you still feel the need to state complicated explanations? Maybe you believe that the bermuda triangle has methane gas problems or that an earthquake caused the Red Sea to part just as the Isrealites' backs were to the proverbial wall... Well, you choose. I choose William!

Sometimes we just have to keep it simple. It's as simple as that!

Friday, December 01, 2006

The Road Not Taken

The Road Not Taken
(Robert Frost 1874-1963)

TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

I first memorized this poem back in high school. Memorizing it came in handy when, in university, I had to memorize a poem for public speaking. Now, twenty three years later, I still remember the poem and again, as in many other instances, it has come in handy as I have come upon decisions which I have to make.

Sometimes, these decisions are easy to make… You follow other people’s advice or examples. You make these decisions based on what everybody else would decide. The stakes are low in this decision making process. You feel that if most people take this road then why shouldn’t you. “Two out of every three doctors say that …”

Other times, these decisions are difficult to make… You have to go it alone because nobody else has made a decision on exactly the same situation that you are going through. You discover that you have to make this decision based on what is in your heart and soul. The stakes could be quite high. You cannot ask the crowd for advice because only you know the issues and what is best for you … or do you?

It is this latter road that I have to decide upon for myself. Hopefully down the road it can be said that “Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I … I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”

Wish me luck!