Monday 31 October 2011

White River ON

Today marks a milestone of sorts. I have had 5000 page views. Who would have thought that so many people could stumble on this blog. Thanks to those that stumble on a regular basis.  

White River ON.

Well, today we woke up to a light snowfall. This is to be expected at this time of year, but it would have been nice for the Trick-or-Treaters if the weather had held off just one more day. Sure, it is better than the 30 below that we have had in the past, but then I guess that we have to take things as they come.

I knew it was just a matter of time before this reached us, because about a week ago I saw that White River ON got a dump of snow.  Normally I don't pay attention to any place that is mentioned on the weather channel, but I know something about White River. White River has a population of 841 and being a CP Rail town, it only became accessible by car in 1961. It was a one industry town until Domtar closed up shop in  2007. Most people actually know something about White River, because in August 1914, a trapped Black Bear cub named Winnie was sold to Captain Harry Colebourn in White River, who named it after his hometown, Winnipeg. See, you are smarter that you thought.

I know of White River for an entirely different reason. Back in 1969, my cousin Simon was working planting trees in White River for Domtar. I had had enough of working for the door manufacturing plant where my mom worked. I had done that for a few summers, and I really hated each and every job that I did there, so when Simon said that I could get a job planting trees if I could just get there. Done deal! All that I needed to know was where and when. Simon said to come to White River anytime.

I had never heard of White River, but the guy selling tickets at the train station seemed to know where it was. This was pre internet days, so there was really no way of finding out anything about it, short of going there. My dad drove me downtown and I told him that I would see him at the end of the summer. I got on the train and my mind was filled with visions of the Orient Express, dining cars, dressing for dinner and staterooms with pleasant smiling coloured porters collecting your shoes and clothing for a shine and press. That might be the way things are done in the Orient, but on the CP night (mare) train there were just surly employees that didnt even acknowledge you were alive. The CP dining car was an old lady selling stale sandwiches, bottles of pop, bags of chips and chocolate bars with white spots. This was before the best before dates.

I had hoped for stimulating conversation on the trip, but soon realized that the only stimulating conversation would be if I talked to myself, and quite frankly by this point in the trip I wasnt talking to me. There were five evil looking nuns, a couple of old men that I am assuming were hog farmers because normal humans couldnt smell that bad. I walked the entire train and not only didnt I see elegant ladies and gentlemen, but there wasnt a dining or even a bar car. I asked one of the surly workers just how long it would be till we got to White River. He looked at me like I was on the end of the finger he had just pulled out of his nose, and walked away.

I tried the Lunch lady and she told me it is a seventeen hour trip. I checked my watch, and we had been on the rails for 45 minutes. SHIT! I sat staring out of the window for most of those seventeen hours, wondering how they could find a route this boring. It couldnt be by chance.
Finally, after what seemed like days I was dropped off in White River. What a dump! It had about three businesses and the rest of the population must have been subterranean. I went in the bar/general store/gas station/motel/bus terminal to ask how I would get to the tree planting place. The woman told me that it was about forty miles down the highway, then I would need to take a right at a green barn and it was about another forty miles down a dirt road.

Do they ever come to town? I asked.

Yes, about once a week and they were just here yesterday.

I thanked her and went outside to take stock of the situation. I noticed a huge thermometer that said Welcome to White River the Coldest Spot in Canada, -72 degrees.

This is what they figure will draw tourists? I made one of the few decisions that I have made in my life, I went back in the bar/general store/gas station/motel/bus terminal and asked when the next train to Toronto was. She said tomorrow morning and I asked if I could get a room for the night. Not surprisingly they had vacancies. She said when the tree planters came to town they were booked solid. I told her that if the tree planters were in town, I wouldnt need a room now would I?

The trip back to Toronto was quite possibly more boring than the trip out, if that were at all possible. The day after I got back, I called the door manufacturing plant and asked if there was a job that I could do for the summer. I told the guy that I had done pretty much every job and loved them all.

I can lie with the best of them

Sunday 30 October 2011

Oh My

The blog two days ago was partly about taking my son to the airport and his conference in San Francisco. His wife left to join him on Saturday, and Brendan asked me to double check that the timers had been set on the lights. It is a really easy thing to forget when you are trying to pack and finish up those last few details before heading to the airport. Everything was good and I am sure that would be cat burglars, will think twice when lights in two rooms come on and go off at exactly the same time every day. It is what I use, because I am banking on the inherent stupidity of anyone that makes his or her living stealing from honest working folk.

On a side note, I came across this little gem a couple of years ago and I think that it is just brilliant! I haven’t bought one yet, but I do think it is a great idea. Well, it would be for us because TV is the light of our lives.

So, I was driving back home from Brendan and Tara’s and I stopped at a red light. I look over to the car beside me and I see one of those Storm Troopers from Star Wars sitting in the passenger seat of the car next to me. He was just looking forward, and the odd time he would turn his head and talk to the woman that was driving the car. Why is it that women are attracted to bad boys? I guess she was driving because with our new distracted driving law he didn’t want to attract attention by wearing a helmet.

Okay, I know you are thinking that it is close to Halloween and it was probably just some guy in a costume. Well, perhaps, but it was 4:30 on a Sunday and unless he was going to his mom and dad’s for the annual Halloween costume Sunday dinner, I don’t think so. No, it is much more likely that he is part of an advance scouting team, sent by the Emperor to analyse and then report back on our military strength and customs. I would imagine that we would be an easy conquest, because the only light sabres that we have are made from flashlights and plastic tubes. Forget about our laser capability, unless we could win a battle by using our lasers to point out things on a board at the front of a classroom.

I slowed down and dropped into the Storm Troopers lane so that I could take a photo of his car. I know that I broke the distracted driving law, but I had to in order to get a photo of the car and its plate. I believe it was worth the risk. I mean really, using a camera phone has to be way farther down the list of crimes when you compare it to world domination?

I don’t expect parades or anything, but it would be nice if I could get the dents and gashes hammered out of my body and all of the knobs and bits polished like CP3O and R2D2 did.

So, keep your eyes open and remain constantly vigilant, because the bad guys are among us and if we aren’t extremely careful the crooks and thieves will get into positions of power in our financial institutions and governments, bringing us to the brink of economic and ecological destruction!

Oh my...

Saturday 29 October 2011


We are having a sleep over tonight with Hurricane and Tornado. We played, built a couch fort, watched some cartoons, painted a carved pumpkin for Halloween, dumped every toy in the house on the floor and went to get Lola’s dog food. All of this, before supper. We had pancakes for supper, partly because we know that both kids like them, and also because Louise and I like them. There were veggies of course, but they came a poor second to the syrup covered pancakes. Once they couldn’t possibly eat anymore, not even if we put a funnel in their mouths and poured it down their throats, we had jello. There is always room for jello!

The activities for apr├Ęs supper included play, Winnie the Pooh chocolate suckers, some destruction, a little crying and an opportunity to watch Wall-E again. A bedtime bottle of milk for the little one and two or three stories for Hurricane, and before you can say “Do you think they are asleep?”, they are! Ahhhhh....bliss! Tomorrow is another day and who knows what we will be up to then.

I was wondering today about how it would feel to be the Texas Rangers and the St. Louis Cardinals. I imagine that Texas would be so completely down that it would be impossible to describe. You come within a breath of achieving what you had been working towards your entire life, only to have it snatched away just when you have victory in your grasp. Could you be professional and just shrug it off and tell yourself that there is always next year? That would be incredibly tough to do. Would it be possible not to go over the games and point the finger at who was to blame? It is a team sport, but that guy really fucked it up! Oh, and that guy over there with the towel over his head, what a dick he is! Shitshitshitshitshitshitshitshitshitshitshitshit. Let’s go get something to eat and a few beers.

St. Louis? Well, they are heroes aren’t they? The adulation of an entire country (except for those die hard Texas fans), champagne and interviews, new hats, a ring, something for your agent to bargain with, a parade, endorsements and more than likely they will get a “Happy ending”. Everybody loves a winner. I wonder just how long the euphoria will last. A couple of days, a week, certainly not a month. Then what do you do? Back to life as usual, getting the groceries, car pooling, arguing whether you will take that job in Cleveland when your career is over and just carrying on carrying on.

Win or lose, life goes on and the only real way to tell if someone is a winner is the smile on their face and the smiles on the faces of those that know him. Perhaps it is when a couple of little arms go around your neck and a tiny voice says “I love you Poppa!”

Friday 28 October 2011


I took my son to the airport this afternoon so that he could catch a flight to San Francisco. There is a copywriter’s conference  (?) and somehow he convinced his company that it will be beneficial for him to attend. Not only did he convince his boss, but since his wife is a copywriter as well, she managed to convince her boss that their company would reap the rewards as well. Lucky shits get a week in San Francisco on the company dime.

I have often wondered how many people would attend conferences if they were held in places like Harlem, Fort McMurray, Death Valley, Winnipeg or downtown Tehran instead of Las Vegas, Honolulu, New York or San Francisco. Is it possible that this is a real positive learning situation or is it just smoozing? I mean, if it is a learning tool, then wouldn’t it be better to video conference or make a DVD so that everyone in the office would benefit? How much will my son and daughter in law pass on to the other employees in their respective firms? I am thinking not too much.

I can remember asking Brendan thousands of times while he was attending school, what he did in class. I pretty much got the same response every time, “Nothin’!”

“You didn’t do anything in school today?”


“Nothing at all? You just sat there and the teacher just sat there and you all looked at each other for six hours, saying nothing, and then you went home?” He would just roll his eyes and say he had homework to do as he left. “How did you get homework if you didn’t do anything or talk to anybody?” I would yell at his back.

I can picture the meeting next week, a bunch of suits sitting around a large rectangular table and the CEO of the company deals with some business for a while and then asks Brendan what he learned at the conference.


Stunned silence and then, “You didn’t learn anything at the conference?”


“Nothing at all? You and a thousand other copywriters from around North America just sat and looked at each other for a week and no one said anything?” an exasperated CEO would ask.

Just about here, Brendan will roll his eyes, get up and as he is walking out of the room, say “I’ve got work to do.” By work, I guess he means checking his email and facebook as well as talking on the phone.

It just occurred to me, Brendan’s schooling actually did prepare him for life in the corporate workplace. I didn’t waste those education tax dollars after all.


Thursday 27 October 2011

I Do Care For You

I just found out that a friend’s father had a serious heart attack. I guess that is opposed to the light hearted, fun kind of heart attack. I sent positive thoughts and prayers for her, her family, her father and the wish that he has a full and speedy recovery.

I have known her for more years than either of us care to remember. In my case I can’t remember and in hers, she more than likely doesn’t want to remember. Well, you can’t buy back an introduction to someone no matter how much you are willing to pay.

Her father was always kind to me and he was an interesting, active, intelligent man that I respected. He probably is still all that and more, but it has been too many years since I have seen him. Like I said, good luck and have a speedy recovery.

On the same topic, a friend of my son’s has returned from England where he lives to be with his mother who is very, very sick. He has been here about a month, but unfortunately had to leave today to resume his job and life in Britain. I hope there is a happy resolution, but I am not sure that is in the cards. Again, thoughts and prayers go out and I hope that they can help in some way.

Why is it that we don’t really appreciate the people we love until we are about to lose them. Oh, we may tell them we love them and remember them on birthdays and maybe give a call once a week, but for the most part they are out of sight, out of mind. I loved my grandmother very much and there aren’t too many days when I don’t think of her, 24 years after her passing. She bought a cottage in order for my brother and I to have the country experience. She helped to protect me when my brother was picking on me. I remember her chasing him down the street with a broom, good thing he was a fast runner. I didn’t call gram as often as I should have, and I wrote her even less, and for that I am sorry. I learned how to work from her and how to care. I don’t always practice what I learned, but I know what I should do. When I think of my grandsons and how much I care for them, it pains me to realize that their lives will get too busy and crowded for me. Such is life.

I tried to keep in touch with my parents, but 2,000 miles and three busy kids made our phone calls and visits rather infrequent. It is a two way street I understand, but something tells me I should have made more of an effort. Can’t do that now, but there are people I can keep in touch with and I will do my best in the future.

I can’t help the way people view me or even if they like me, but I believe if you let them know that they are liked and loved (two different things by the way) they will return the feelings. Maybe...

So, I just want to tell my son and daughters, son and daughter-in-law, wife, all of my friends and the friends I have yet to meet that even though I may not show it, I do care for you all.

Wednesday 26 October 2011

There But For The Grace Of God

I have always wished that I had a strong religious faith. You know the kind; the one where you know if you live according to a fixed set of rules you will spend eternity playing a harp or being pleasured by naked virgins forever. When you put it that way, it is hard to believe that more western men don’t convert to Islam.

I don’t have that kind of all consuming belief, so I am stuck in this world with doubts and questions. How could an all just and forgiving God even allow a Hell to exist? Wouldn’t that go against the whole forgiveness thing? It certainly doesn’t seem just to suffer burning and torture for eternity for say about thirty years of being a bastard. I wouldn’t have a problem with that, but then I am not God. Well, I don’t think I am, but you can’t be too sure.

When I was growing up I believed in the Christian God and version of the universe, but I really didn’t have too much information to base my belief on as we only went to church once or twice a year. I grew older and began to embrace a more eastern view of life. If it was good enough for the Beatles, then who was I to question it? Even after I gave up drugs, I still felt that the east had a much firmer grip on religion than the west. For a long time I was convinced that reincarnation was the answer.

You live a life and after you die, you view the Askastic records and see where you could have improved. The Askastic record is a record of your life. You then decide just what it is that needs work and are subsequently reborn, only to go through the same process at the end of this life. When you have learned all that you can from this plane of existence, you then go to another plane where the process begins again. This goes on life after life, dimension after dimension until you reach perfection or Godhead when you reunite with God. Pretty cool and pretty neat, kind of like a school for your soul and the graduation ceremony is becoming one with God. WOW!!

My problem with this is that I just don’t understand why we would do this. I get the learning and bettering yourself part, but I don’t get why God would want this. Why go to all of this trouble if you are omniscient? You already would know everything. Hmmmmm. This is my belief system of choice, but there are a few holes in it. Louise has a wonderful saying that applies in this situation. “I could never believe in a God that I can understand.”

When the kids were small we attended church on a regular basis, not because of any strong belief or need to belong, but to give the kids the background knowledge for when they begin their quest to find answers to the unanswerable. We attended a United church where the minister would ask me if I enjoyed my nap after every sermon. I told him that I just closed my eyes so that I could concentrate that much harder to what he was saying. He didn’t buy it.

We attended an Anglican church (the religion I was brought up in) and actually became contributing members of the congregation. I acted as a shepherd in a Christmas pageant, I shovelled the snow for the church and Louise was a member of the alter guild. They were very nice people and it was kind of nice to belong for a time.

I was moved by a sermon once at the United church. The minister decided to tell us his story and how he came to the cloth. His childhood was relatively normal; his family went to church once or twice a year. He wasn’t a very good student, or a particularly nice person. He drank and smoked dope, lied to girls to have relations with them, he even stole money from his parents to buy drugs once. He didn’t care about the poor or starving and his life was centered on just one person, him. This guys life and mine were pretty much carbon copies!

He then told us of an event that changed his life; I believe it was a car crash in which he and a friend had almost died in. He asked God for help and his prayer was answered by Jesus Himself. WOW! From that day to this he knew that becoming a minister and serving God was what he had to do.

I leaned over to Louise and whispered, “There but for the grace of God go I.” She started to giggle, and then I started to giggle. I started to silently laugh and so did she. People turned and gave us the look and we sat in the pew with our shoulders heaving and our stomachs hurting from keeping the laughter in. Tears ran down our cheeks and we couldn’t look at each other. It took a while, but by the end of the service we had it under control.

I could get behind a church that made you laugh so hard every week your cheeks and stomach would hurt, tears would flow and on the odd occasion you would pee yourself.

Tuesday 25 October 2011

Life In Retrospect

I spent a good deal of the day thinking. By that I mean it was a pretty unproductive day, but I did manage to watch a little TV and drink a lot of warm beverages. One thing that I did do today was to clean out the gutters of leaves and the dirt like stuff on the bottom of the gutter which is a little tricky to clean out.

I used to get the ladder, climb on the roof, perch myself on the edge and dig out the leaves and twigs. I find that for the past couple of years I have been getting increasingly nervous about balancing on the edge of the roof. I am heavier than I was and older of course, but the problem is more fear based than body based. I was never afraid of falling before. Maybe I didn’t believe that I could fall before, and now have finally grown back a few of the brain cells that I destroyed in my wayward youth. Whatever the reason, today I moved the ladder along a few feet, climbed up and emptied the gutter climbed back down, moved the ladder along a few feet, climbed up and emptied the gutter climbed back down etc. It was a little more work, but I am here and not hanging from the roof looking like a Halloween decoration.

xmas lights 550x733 Best Christmas Decorations Ever?
While I was thinking today, I thought about the things in life that have made me not just happy, but proud. When I was eight or nine, I bowled a two game total of 448 in five pin and still have the framed certificate to prove it. I managed to find the perfect woman that would not only love me back, but put up with me. The birth of all three of my children of course. I hiked the West Coast Trail, not once but twice. I am also happy and proud about getting to retirement and actually retiring. There are many more instances, but this is a blog, not a book.
I was never very good at sports. You see my brother was very good so no matter how well I did it was rarely if ever as good as Steve could do. I remember being very focused and intense when it came to bowling. I didn’t really have fun; it was something mom and dad had us do. I imagine they had visions of the family going to the bowling alley and having a family bowl. Never happened, but once I had two really good games for a kid and I can prove it!
We all struggle with relationships and the lucky ones eventually find that one person that for some reason can put up with all of the bullshit and in spite of everything...stay. I was very shy when I was younger, and could never ask a girl out or even to dance. I thought about how I would do it, but the fear of being turned down was just too much. The one girl I asked out on a date probably still remembers it. Everything that could did go wrong. She was terrified of heights and we left the theatre and had to climb down five flights of wrought iron stairs. We went to a steak house and she was a vegetarian. God know what else I did, but I never talked to her again. Sorry Becky. Louise saw something and bless her, she has stuck it out for more than thirty years.
The children being born terrified me. Louise didn’t have an easy time with Arwen and I thought I would lose both of them. The twins were somewhat easier, but caring for them for the first six months was a terrible strain on Louise.
The West Coast Trail is a very difficult hike and the conditions even when they are favourable can cause aches, blisters and frayed nerves. You push yourself way beyond the comfort zone.
We all dream of retirement, but all of a sudden, you don’t have the friends that you have spent a lifetime with. The reason you got up in the morning is also gone. Your identity as a corporate individual has disappeared.
I guess what I am trying to say (and not to well I might add) is that the things and experiences that I now treasure the memories of, were not as pleasant at the time. It isn’t that I have forgotten the hardships, but rather, I have come to appreciate the journey towards happiness. Life is better in retrospect; you can filter out the unpleasant and focus on the pleasant...mostly.

Monday 24 October 2011

Snake Oil Salesmen

There was a time when people would travel from town to town selling elixirs and potions that promised to rid you of everything from the consumption, polio, bad eyesight and even impotence. These people were called snake oil salesmen because some of the potions allegedly contained snake oil. They promised the world, but by the time the people realized the potions were useless the salesmen were long gone with their money.

We have the same kind of scum around today, but they are more sophisticated in their scams. They will approach the elderly and convince them that their house will fall down unless they are hired to do work which they start but never finish. They promise people a huge return on their investment if they can handle their money for them. They offer a chance at a free trip or an expensive prize if you just register with them. They will call you and say they are from Microsoft and that your computer has sent them error messages. It goes on and on.

These evil people tend to prey on those of us who are trusting and sometimes just a little ignorant when it comes to the things we own. A lot of the time they just prey on our greed. How many times have we heard someone say “If it seems too good to be true, then it probably is.”? I tend to be a distrusting sort of fellow and have rarely fallen for these scams. I figure that by the time I get to hear about these deals it is already too late to cash in. When I get a phone call from some company that says they want to do me a favour I always ask them why? Why would you care about whether or not I am spending too much on my long distance plan? How can you make money if I save money? For that matter, who pays you to help me save money? Most of the time, I just get a stunned silence shortly before I hang up.

A month or two ago my wife got stung when she entered a contest on line to win free air miles. She had to fill out a form that included her cell phone number. It wasn’t too long before she started getting horoscopes sent to her phone from two different companies. When we received our bill it seems that these companies were billing us about $3 per text message. Today, my friend found out that he was stung in a similar way by trying to win an iPad through an on line promotion. They weren’t being greedy, but perhaps just a tad gullible. Yes, those companies are bottom feeding scum and deserve to be force fed their own testicles and then dipped in hot tar and feathers before being dragged out of town behind some angry horses.

The company that I think is really to blame is Rogers communications. In both cases they are the cell phone company that sends the bill. The other companies bill Rogers who then bill their clients. Rogers knows that these other companies are taking advantage of their clients, but because they are making money they just let this go on. Rogers puts the number of these companies on the bill if you wish to discontinue this “service”. So, they (Rogers) know that it is a scam! I feel that they have an obligation to protect us. Tomorrow I am going to write a letter to Rogers, the CRTC, my MLA and my MP demanding that they stop this abuse of the internet and cell phones. It won’t do any good, but it will make me feel better and who knows, maybe Nadir Mohamed (CEO of Rogers) just said “If I get one more complaint about this, I will stop doing business with them!”

Maybe we should all become hard hearted and untrusting, but then our world would become just a little colder. No one you don’t know is going to give you something for free, you can’t get a $600 dollar device by sending an email, and the people that we have elected to protect us are protecting the snake oil salesmen. You are on your own!

I believe in fairies, Santa, the Easter Bunny and the existence of an honest politician (Naheed Nenshi).

Sunday 23 October 2011

Your Feet Don’t Hurt As Much

Well, I took a walk down memory lane today.

The new postal depot had its grand opening and all were welcome to come and see Canada Posts vision of the future. It is named Sunridge Depot. Whoever comes up with the names for the depots has almost no imagination as this particular depot is on Sunridge Blvd. The depot in the south end of the city is called Deerfoot South, and I guess that the depot that they are building in the north west will more than likely be the North-West Depot. Now, as I am writing this I am thinking what a bunch of doozers, but in reality it is probably done this way so that the goofs and doofs working at the Post Office don’t get things mixed up.

There were hamburgers and hot dogs, juice and Halloween candy. I just wanted to see the place cleaned up. I had been there for a few weeks and literally watched the walls go up. The letter carriers came in and were tweaking their cases to make things easier tomorrow when they come in to work. The head honchos were milling about trying to get some kind of credit for a job well done. I thought they would throw their arms out patting themselves on the back. Everyone was smiling and just happy to get out of the plant. The consensus is that the plant is a black hole that sucks all joy and life out of anyone that spends any length of time there. Like everything though, the job is as good or as bad as you let it be.

I had a lot of fun catching up with some of the people that I once worked with. Most of them are getting closer to retirement and are pretty much just marking time. The changes will be harder on them than on the younger people, because the old axiom “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” really does apply.  I found that towards the end of my time there, I would listen at the meetings to the changes they wanted made and then continue to do it the old way if at all possible. I guess that is one of the reasons for retirement.

I am not sure if mankind is ready to have long lives. Most of us don’t make good use of our good years and the “Golden Years” are spent grumbling about how the kids today have no work ethic and everything was better in the good old days. I think Plato complained about the same thing and somehow we have managed to muddle through. We have managed to build a civilization with a more or less productive, caring populace.

Enough of that. Today I laughed and talked and tried to help in any way that I could, but mostly I was just a guy they used to work with who was fun back in the day and seems to be pretty happy now. I guess I am the poster child for early postal retirement. There is life after the post office, it is just a little slower paced and your feet don’t hurt as much.

Saturday 22 October 2011

Leaves Are Pretty Cool

For some reason, this is a day for leaves.

My friends on Facebook are talking about leaves. Most of the talk is complaining about having to rake them and what to do once they are raked. There have been numerous comments on the best way to deal with them. The most sensible seems to be that they should be left alone. That is the way that nature takes care of them, but it isn’t really what I would call a good neighbour policy. I met a guy once that was tossing his leaves into the air on a windy day and they were blowing down the street, eventually ending up at his neighbours. I told him that he was a prince for sharing his leaves like that and I wouldn’t be surprised if I saw him after Halloween scraping eggs off of his house.

For the past ten years or so I have been using them in my composter, and before that I buried them at the side of the house. I don’t think that the compost is that good, but who am I to argue with all of those green thumbed zealots out there?

My grandsons Hurricane and Tornado came over today, and before they arrived I went out and raked all of the leaves into a very large pile for them to jump in. There seems to be a connection hardwired in a kid’s brain about how to play in leaves. They dive in head first, go completely under, toss them as high as they can and then do it all over again and again and again. You know, the only thing that they don’t do is to make “leaf men” out of them. The grandkids loved the leaves of course and then came into the house. In retrospect it might have been a good idea to brush them off before they came inside. Oh well, that is what vacuum cleaners are for.

When I was small, the acceptable way to get rid of leaves was to burn them. You would rake them into a pile (actually, mom and dad would do the raking) and then start a fire. The leaves wouldn’t burn with a large flame, but would smoulder and produce huge amounts of white smoke. To this day, whenever I smell burning leaves I am transported back to those wonderful days when the sky was blue, the air was crisp and clean and white smoke billowed up from every back yard in the neighbourhood. Oh, sure, it was probably an environmental nightmare, but I would gladly trade burning leaves for an equal amount of burning fossil fuel.

I remember that at this time of year in school we would get a science project to find and identify as many leaf species as possible, and to iron them between two sheets of waxed paper to preserve them. I love that smell as well. Mom wouldn’t let Steve or I handle the iron of course because there would be a good chance one of us (me) would have been branded for life. I am sure mom wasn’t happy about wax on her iron, but that is what mom’s did then and do now.

My neighbour Don and I talked about our leaves and solutions. I looked up and saw that the leaves were pretty much choking up the eaves troughs. That will be something to do for tomorrow I guess. I just might put it off as there are still quite a few leaves on the tree and I don’t really want to do it twice. I am getting a little fearful of perching on the edge of the roof, scooping handfuls of semi-composted leaves out of the eaves. I guess I am getting a little old for that kind of nonsense.

I use the leaves that I rake up as a Halloween decoration as well. Nothing says abandoned graveyard like leaves mounded in front of and around Styrofoam gravestones. They are also good for stuffing shirt and pants to make a pumpkin head man. My wife has fake leaves that she takes to work in order to decorate for the season.

Yep, leaves are pretty cool and of course very colourful.

Friday 21 October 2011

I Don’t Like To Work Nights

There is magic in the air today!

I was up and out early this morning while the sun was still hitting the snooze button. I pulled out of the garage into a thick fog. It was the kind of fog that made me think that I could just make out the clatter of horse hooves on cobble stones and I half expected to see a hansom cab turn the corner through the fog up ahead. I passed someone on the sidewalk, and I could swear the he was wearing a cape and a deerstalker cap.

Oh, I also passed a few people scraping the ice fog off of their windshields. Not so magic for them I suppose. I was headed to the last day of work for a while, and I was looking forward to the day. Well, not all of the day because I had a dental appointment with the Lovely Dr. Julie to get the prep work done for a crown.

I was even three minutes early for work! We knew what we needed to do and just as we were about to begin, J.B. came over and told us that they had once again changed their minds and we would have to do everything all over...again! Perfect.

One good thing about a workplace that practices poor planning is that you are never without work. This part time job could take me to my death bed. We finished the rearranging just around coffee time. Was this good luck or good can be the judge? We made it back from Tim’s in time to stand around while those with the higher pay grade tried to make sense out of the floor plans. They looked just like squiggles to me, so I was less help than I usually am.

Just around this time, the bosses came over and told us that there was an error that needed to be rectified. I was racking my brain trying to figure out what I had screwed up and how this lot managed to know it was me.

Craig said “I understand that when you retired, you didn’t get a jacket. Even though you weren’t in my depot I am going to fix that error. Here you go, now stop whining!” It is true that I have often complained about not getting a jacket to my buddy Ken (who did get one when he retired) whenever he would wear his. One day Al wore his to work and that started the complaining all over again. Believe it or not, I was speechless! They weren’t tears of joy, it was just really dusty in the depot, no honest! I put on the jacket and shook everyone’s hand while babbling something about gratitude. I kind of felt bad about ducking out early from work about ten minutes later. I did have a dental appointment and I wasn’t hired as a mover. Not bad enough to return the jacket of course, but I did have a twinge of remorse. I mentioned that it was a magical day.

On the way to the dentist I broke the distracted driving law and ate some lunch and drank my tea. Stupid law! Dr. Julie is one smart cookie, she put enough stuff in my mouth so that I couldn’t talk. I just stared at the ceiling and the tiny, fine hairs that grow all over people which you can only see when they are backlit. I have had so much work done on my teeth, that I am beginning to be lulled to sleep by the sound of teeth being reshaped. I mentioned that I am getting a crown on my tooth, and just like a real crown it will be made of gold. Dr. Julie asked if I wanted gold, and I asked what my options were. Could I get platinum, magnesium, teflon or even wood? She said it was between gold and porcelain and porcelain isn’t very good for a molar. So I said “Well, I really don’t have an option do I? Make sure you put in enough gold so the kids can get something nice when I die.”

Hmmmm...What happens to your gold teeth and posts when you meet your maker? With the price of gold the way it is, grave robbing might be a pretty lucrative occupation.

Nah....I don’t like to work nights.

Thursday 20 October 2011

Foetal Position On The Shower Floor

I went for an Echocardiogram today. Nothing to be concerned about, just a doctor covering all of the bases. I kind of get the feeling that he had me do this in order to build a plausible defence, just in case. I got to the office about ten minutes early, so that I would have time to fill out the forms. Surprisingly, all that was needed was my AB health number and a signature. I had barely gotten past the dresses worn at some award show in a three year old People magazine when “Paul” called my name.

This always happens, they call your name and by the time you get to your feet, the guy has disappeared down a long hallway with about twenty doors. I walked past a few doors and finally came to a darkened room with a guy in it. I didn’t get a good look at Paul, but when I looked in he said “Take off everything above your waist and lie down on your back!” I hope this is the right room, because if it isn’t then I just walked into an unpleasant scene from a prison movie.

Paul came back and stuck some self adhesive electrodes at strategic places on my chest. I have had this test done more than a few times over the years, and this time I noticed that it seemed less complicated than in the past. The first time I was hooked up to so many wires that I thought I was a marionette. I guess this is just another example of improved technology. The echocardiogram of the future will probably involve you walking through the office door and then back out again. Paul and I made small talk and found that we both have rotten teeth and good dentists. We agreed that dentists charge far more than they should, but, when you need them they are worth their weight in gold.

Paul put some kind of goop on the end of his probe and stuck it forcefully into my ribs. This does sound like a prison movie. He would hold it in one place for a minute or so, then re-goop and stick it some other place. I lost track of the time, but eventually Paul gave me a couple of wipes and told me that I should clean myself up, get dressed and that we were done. I kind of feel a little cheap!

While I was dressing, I watched the video of my heart beating. I think I saw a valve opening and closing, but it could have been a little hand waving at me. It is pretty hard to make anything out on those shadow pictures.

I left the building and crossed the street to the 7/11 where I bought myself a “reward” candy bar. When did candy bars start costing $1.67? It didn’t taste any different from the same bar that cost 10 cents back in the sixties. It did taste good however, and I suppose getting stuck and feeling unpleasant was today’s theme.

I found a video on youtube and this is exactly what mine looked like. .

Well, tomorrow is another day and I had better scrub the goop off of my body. A couple of hours in the foetal position on the shower floor ought to do it.

Wednesday 19 October 2011

Not That Keen On Spice

It’s an odd little world that we live in. Nothing is quite as it appears and strangely enough it doesn’t appear the same to everyone.

I ran into my friend Mars and his wife Alex today. I hadn’t talked to them for quite some time, so I kept them talking and talking and talking while they were holding their grocery bags. I kind of felt guilty, but obviously not enough to shut my mouth. We talked about their cycling trip this summer and their new trikes. Every now and then you look into someone’s eyes and can tell that they are in love. Mars and Alex had that look when they talked about their trikes. The way they talked made me want one. I don’t know if I want one enough to actually buy one, but I may think about it. I may try to find one on this website, , I have the tandem.

So, back to topic. We were talking and I mentioned Hawaii. Mars said that he hated Hawaii and I guess, looking at the dumbfounded expression on my face he explained. His reasons made sense and gave me an opportunity to look at something from a different point of view. They say that one mans garbage is another man’s treasure. I am thinking that it is still garbage, but the second guy is a horder like me and will take pretty much anything. I have been working at a construction site off and on for the past few weeks, and I am stunned by the things that get tossed out. I have to continually tell myself to “put it down, it is garbage and it isn’t yours!” I haven’t always been successful. I scored a used drill bit and a two inch piece of copper wire today.

One year when I was a kid and went with the family to Florida, we stayed at our regular motel and just down the beach a marching band was staying at another motel. I guess they were down here to play at the Orange Bowl game, or in the Orange Parade, or maybe the Orange “who gives a crap” thing. The first day down there, we were walking along the beach and lo and behold, what should appear but a marching band playing the theme from Hawaii Five-O. They were really good! We stood transfixed, until they marched out of sight. Pretty cool!

Then, they marched back. Then they marched away again. Here they come again. Thank god they are gone again! Shit! They are coming back again. This went on for a week and a half. If I could have driven a bus onto the boardwalk and crushed the band and their instruments, I would have counted the forty consecutive life sentences to be worth it. I stuffed cotton balls into my ears and it sort of muffled the sound. I really haven’t been able to stand the Hawaii Five-O theme song since.

I guess too much of anything is...well...too much. I know people that think my hatred for garbage men and bus drivers is unfounded, and I have heard that some people even like the garbage scum and transit terrorists. I guess variety is the spice of life.

I’m just not that keen on spice.

Tuesday 18 October 2011

A Pretty Good View

I was in a pub on Yonge Street last week called the Twisted Kilt ( ). We went there for dinner and overall, it was a wonderful time. They served very good pub food at a relatively modest price. I was there with Louise and my daughter and from all reports, the conversation was animated and interesting.

I say “by all reports”, because, even though I was there I had some difficulty following the conversation. I have tinnitus, which is kind of a constant buzz that lies beneath all sound that comes my way. Historically, tinnitus can potentially be blamed for all of nut jobs that hear voices that tell them the world is about to end, that their dog told them to kill everyone with the letter “B” in their name, and to take these tablets down the mountain to your people. I don’t hear voices telling me to cleanse the world, but I do have difficulty in following a single conversation when there is more than one in a noisy public venue.

I try to get the gist by catching the odd word, reading lips and cupping my hand over my ear turning it into a mini parabolic microphone. I am not always successful with any of these methods, and on the night in question I just didn’t have a clue. So, the fall back is to plant a smile on my face and nod my head every now and then. I couldn’t follow the whispering ladies, but the two young men at the table next to me came through loud and clear.

Perhaps it was the subject matter, or the fact that these two guys thought that what they had to say was important enough to share with everyone in the restaurant. It seems that both of these young men thought that sex was the BEST! They went on to say that nothing could beat good sex and even bad sex was a learning experience. It was further mentioned that they couldn’t get enough. What a break through! You can’t argue with the basic premise, but there are other things that can give you great pleasure. Getting up in the middle of the night and having a great pee. Finding out that your $1200 dollar transmission repair is covered under the warranty. Having your grandson give you a big hug and tell you that he loves you. How about finding a $20 dollar bill when you are walking the dog? Yes, sex is great, but a gentleman shouldn’t talk to his friends about sex, whereas finding money, saving money and squishy hugs are always good for a story or two.

These two guys went on to talk about the quality of writing, acting and production values of the current TV shows and movies that they had seen. They went on in depth about the new Star Trek movie and how although well done cinematographically, the writing and acting left a little to be desired. Also, neither one of these guys liked the direction it was taking the franchise. I had avoided looking at these guys up until now, but I had to see what these two guys that liked sex and Star Trek looked like.

The one guy was a typical sort of young man with a strong right hand, but the other guy had long shoulder length hair and was blind. The blind guy was eating with his fingers which would have been OK if he hadn’t been talking about Star Trek and sex. I don’t even want to go there!

Let’s go here. How could a blind guy be talking about the merits of a TV show or a movies cinematography? What is he doing watching TV? Shouldn’t he be fingering a book or asking some young woman if he can feel how beautiful she is?

Yeah, I know, that is wrong on more than one level. The worst thing about it is that I kind of snickered when the blind guy asked for mustard and it was on the table in front of him. I felt bad at the time and feel worse now. I may not be headed for Hell, but I bet I’ll have a pretty good view of it.

Monday 17 October 2011

Capture Someone’s Soul

I take a quite a few photos and most of them are rather common. Some are just bad and the odd one actually can move me. I am not a good enough photographer to know why or even to duplicate the circumstances behind these “gems”.

My buddy John has been a very good photographer for many decades and he could tell you why this picture is wonderful and how the photographer managed to capture the perfect lighting and angles that are necessary for a truly great picture. Someday, people will go through his portfolio and marvel at the wonders contained therein. I have a couple of pictures that he took and yes, they are wonderful. There is one of a mountain that is in black and white. I could never understand why anyone would take a black and white when they could have used colour film. Yes, boys and girls I said “film”. That is what the ancients used before camera phones and pixels. So, anyway, just looking at that picture I knew why black and white over colour.

Well, I don’t know “why” but it is a beautiful picture. He has lovely photos in his house, but not as many of his own as you might think. Perhaps it has something to do with modesty. My problem is low self esteem. Well, one of my problems is low self esteem. I never took very many pictures before the digital revolution, because not only did the film cost money, but it also cost to develop the pictures. Yep, I am too cheap to create beauty.

When my daughter was getting married, the best man come over and asked if he could borrow some pictures of Arwen as a child for a slideshow he was going to do. We sat down and went through some albums and he selected a goodly number to include. When I look through the pictures on my computer of my grandsons, I can just imagine the conversation.

Best man :        “Do you have any cute pictures of Hurricane as a child?”

Me :                  “Sure, I’ve got 132,873, and his grandma has over two hundred thousand.

                        Hey! Where you going? Don’t you want to look at the pictures?”

I am not sure that the digital camera is a good thing. When I bought my first D-camera, I asked the guy at the camera store what he thought the future held for these cameras. He told me that they will replace the 110 point and shoot, but no professional photographer will ever use digital. I guess no one could predict the advances in technology in such a short time. I know that I wouldn’t have taken the pictures that can move me if it weren’t for digital, I just wish that someone will invent something that will help me be a little more selective in the pictures that I keep.

I do love the advent of photo manipulation software. Every now and then it is kind of cool to just get crazy, and to even “repair” old photos. I have to get to work on “Revenge of the Sock Thieves” some cold day this winter.

I wonder what the future will bring and if will eventually be possible to actually capture someone’s soul in your camera?

Sunday 16 October 2011

Read To The End

During the past week, the subject of blogs came up on a few occasions. It is somewhat surprising how many people are writing blogs these days. During one Thanksgiving dinner, there were three bloggers, and that just indicates the ones that admit to blogging. One is called Dexter Days ( ) and is purportedly written by a dog. I met Dexter and he didn’t really calm down for the three or four hours that we were together. I can’t imagine how he can type a blog, let alone take the photos that are in it. My daughter writes a pretty good blog ( ) about church and ice cream (reward and punishment?), and of course this one.

During one or two of the conversations during the week, it was pointed out that mine is a little too long and wordy. Not enough photos I suppose. It seems that most people don’t want to spend a longish portion of their days reading a “wordy” blog. Hmmmm? I know what they are saying, and to a degree I understand. It was said to me “You don’t expect people to read all of the blog every day do you?” I write this blog for myself as a learning tool and to get down some of my thoughts before the only thought that I have is “Will it be rice pudding or jello tonight for dinner?” However, you know, I do expect people to read this every day and all of it. I can’t imagine why I feel that way, but I kind of do. Odd isn’t it?

I will be the first to admit that seeing cute pictures of a dog is much more entertaining that this drivel. It puts me in mind of a story about Sean Connery.

In a scene from “Finding Forrester”, Connerys character talks about wearing his socks inside out because that way the seam doesn’t rub up against your toes. He added this to the script because he wears his socks like this in real life. I saw him talking about it and he was obviously quite proud of himself. Can the Nobel Prize be far behind? I have never had a problem with sock seams rubbing my toes.

While I was delivering mail, I bought white socks in bulk because walking all day you would wear them out with startling regularity. The problem arose, that in the wash, older more worn out socks would get matched up with newer fresh socks. It was a sartorial nightmare to match these disparate foot coverings. My solution was to colour code each sock. When I bought a new batch I would stitch a red, blue, green, tan or yellow dot in each sock that made up a pair. This worked like a charm, and from that day to this, the socks on each foot have even wear. There was the side benefit of giving my family and friends another reason to laugh at me for being so anal.

I guess the point is that we are all different and we each have something to contribute to the world at large. Perhaps in time I will include more pictures and subtract the print that makes little or no sense. That would be most of the blog! I think there is a niche for everything in this world, and surely there are enough whack-a-doodles out there to make this worthwhile.

I am having fun, and I hope that you are as well. Well, you would be if you read to the end.

Saturday 15 October 2011

Strip Search and Santa

A couple of odd things happened today.

The drive to the airport was crazy. Every road we took was knee deep in construction. We would get gridlocked on one street only to find gridlock just around the corner, and down a few blocks. We finally made it to the 401 and guess what? Construction! Luckily, this wasn't our first rodeo,  we had given ourselves plenty of time. The rental return went without a hitch, as did the baggage check in and the strip search in security. They didn't want to, but I insisted.

I got dressed, put my change, pen, wallet, cough drops, two balls of lint and a plastic washer back in my pockets, threaded my belt through the loops and under my belly. I put my cell phone, iPad and laptop in my carry on bag and in ten short minutes I was ready to head to gate 19. I don't know how Louise can do the same thing and be ready before you can say WTF.

We got to gate number 19 and found a good place to build a short term nest.

We took turns going to the bathroom and getting a coffee, but I came back without one. I just couldn’t decide if I would rather have a coffee or water to drink on the flight. After a few soul searching minutes, I decided that a coffee would be more appropriate.

For some odd reason, the powers that be decided that a good place for the Tim Horton’s would be 500 meters away from the boarding gates where all of the people are. I guess that I can use the exercise after a week and a half of over eating. On the way there, I couldn’t help but notice a young mom with a baby in her arms and a 3 ½ to 4 year old screaming and throwing a tantrum.

The mom showed great restraint and as far as I could tell hadn’t hit the kid yet. As I came up to them and looked over, saw that the little boy had a sticker on his jacket that said Sean. This gave me an idea. I walked up to the little boy and said “Sean, do you know who I am?”

He stopped his tantrum and hid behind his mother’s leg. I got down on his level and said “I will give you a hint Sean. Once the plane lands in Calgary I am going to get my animals and hitch them up to the sleigh and then go way up north to where I live and work.” My being a little over weight and with the graying hair and beard helped to convince him. I never took my eyes off of his and I saw that he recognized me. I smiled and told him that it won’t be too long before I will be coming to his house.

“I know that you are a good little boy and it isn’t very hard to stay on the Nice list, all you have to do is be kind, share and listen to your parents.” His eyes kept getting bigger and bigger as I talked to him. I showed him my travel mug and asked if he knew where I might get some hot chocolate. He just shook his head and I told him not to worry I will find some, I always do.

“Oh, Sean, be sure and come visit me at the mall in December, or write a letter. I look forward to hearing what you would like for Christmas. Bye, bye and be good!” I did the Ho, ho, ho thing as I walked off to get my coffee at Tim’s.

Hmmmm....maybe I will get a hot chocolate.

Friday 14 October 2011

Thanks TO For Another Great Visit!

The other day, Louise and I went out to find the Sobeys to do a little shopping. We just needed to get milk and the weather was fine so we walked to the corner and went north. Just about three quarters of a block up, we realized that we had gone the wrong way and headed south. Just about a mile further on it became obvious that if there is a Sobeys in this direction it is of the invisible kind. Louise’s knee was starting to hurt her, so she went home while I continued on. I kept walking south and still no Sobeys. I then retraced my steps and carried on past where we had turned around before. We would have seen the Sobeys about fifteen paces further on.

The thing that disturbs me is not the fact that I couldn’t find my ass without using my nose, it is that both Louise and I remember this journey totally differently. She is wrong of course, but it got me thinking that maybe, just maybe I might be wrong every now and then.

Her memory is that as we were walking north and about 15 paces away from our destination I said “The street sign is wrong, we are going the wrong way. I am sure it is the other way!” Being level headed and not wishing to have an argument she acquiesced to my formidable will power and we turned around and went the wrong way.

My memory is that when we reached the spot that was 15 feet before Sobeys she said “I looked at the map and this isn’t the right way at all!” I was pretty sure we were going in the right direction, but being level headed and not wishing to have an argument I acquiesced to her formidable will power and we turned around and went the wrong way.

Who was right? Who was wrong? You know, if I had to put money on it and could watch a recording of the whole sorted affair, I think Louise’s version would be closer to the truth. That isn’t to say that I am wrong, just that I might not be 100% correct. Isn’t it odd how we perceive life differently, even though the experience is exactly the same?

This is the last full day in Toronto, and although I am looking forward to doing nothing in my own home and seeing my grandkids and dog again, I am going to miss Toronto and of course Maegan. I really wish that I could be here to give unwanted advice and wanted assistance when she needed it. There are many, many wonderful things about the GTA, and southern Ontario in general, but until they perfect cloning, I will have to make a choice. I wonder where I would be on the cloning list? Somewhere between Leonardo and Justin Beiber I would imagine. Later on today I think I will go for a walk in Mt. Pleasant cemetery and see if there is anyone that I recognize and perhaps take a few pictures. Wouldn’t it be cool if I got a shot of  a restless spirit? 
Maegan will miss us, but on the plus side she will get her bed and her life back.