Wednesday 29 February 2012


When I was growing up we lived pretty close to “the train tracks”. I don’t know if they were CN or CP, but I did know that they came from somewhere that I had never been and went to somewhere that I may get to someday. They carried the raw materials to factories and manufactured goods to market. The trains were used to move oil, coal, automobiles and even milk (I think).

People that came to visit us would comment on how loud the trains were and “My goodness, however do you get to sleep?” I can honestly say that I didn’t hear the trains unless I was listening for them. The trains and the tracks were an important part of my childhood.

When I was eight or nine, we would go to the tracks and walk along them like they were balance beams and we were acrobats practicing to be on the Ed Sullivan Show. Sometimes we would take pennies and put them on the tracks to see just how flat they would get. I can’t remember ever finding one of those pennies, but I did see a copperish smear on the tracks a couple of times. Years later I realized that the train was moving too fast at that section to crush the pennies and to do a good job you needed a slow moving train. We would put rocks on the tracks and while we were waiting for the train to come, the fear of derailing the train would grow by the minute. We were rewarded by a puff of dust when the train crushed the stones.

Those stones or perhaps ones just like them were used to hone our pitching ability. We would take target practice at the post by the side and as our aim improved we would target the glass insulators on the wires. I see similar insulators in the second hand store every now and then, which must have been on wires where there weren’t any kids. We would also take target practice on the new cars that were riding from the factories in Oshawa to points west. You never knew for sure if you managed to break or crack a windshield on a new car, but the chances were better than 50%.

In high school we would walk along the tracks as it was the shortest distance between two points. We were pretty good at walking on the rails by this time and could mostly make it the mile or so and only fall two or three times. Once we found a box of flares and had a ball playing with them. You know if you don’t hold a flare just the right way, hot sulphur will drip on your hands and it hurts like hell. In the fall we would use the tracks as a base of operations to stage a raid or two on people’s backyards for apples and berries. Night time raids of course. One night a fellow that had been raided set up an elaborate trip wire system and a stack of cans to warn him that we were there. Unfortunately for him we saw the string and did a mission impossible type, stealth raid on his garden. I am kind of sorry for that now, but you know, I can still taste those apples. They were delicious in name and taste.

You could generally hear the trains a goodly distance off and we would stand at the side of the tracks pumping our arms up and down in the hopes that the engineer would blast the whistle. Sometimes he did and sometimes he didn’t. We would always wave at the guys in the caboose and they would wave back. I would dream that someday I would be able to have a cool job like that. Imagine, getting paid to sit in the window of the caboose and wave at kids as you pass them by.

I was only trapped on a bridge only once. We were walking along the tracks talking about the things that kids talk about, girls, school or smoking when a “Dayliner” blasted the whistle. I just ran! The two guys I was with calmly stepped off to the side and watched me run along the tracks. They say that I was actually pulling away from the train by the time I ran out of bridge, and the adrenaline had enough oomph left for me to clear a five foot fence. That is the kind of terror that sticks with a guy.

I was back in Scarborough a couple of years ago and I took my daughter to the tracks. It is a lot harder to get on them now, but I am sure the kids have their ways. We walked along the tracks and attempted to see how far we could walk on the rails while I told Maegan some of the stories about how important the tracks were to me. She already thinks I am a goof, so what is the harm?

I think that maybe tomorrow I will go out and find some tracks to see just how far I can walk without falling off and maybe take some pictures.

Sometimes, on a clear winters evening, if the city is quiet I can still hear the sounds of a train going from somewhere I have never been to somewhere I would like to go.

Tuesday 28 February 2012

Oh, No Need For a Reward

I was on a quest today. Some of you might remember the water heater incident of a week and a half ago that damaged the floor in an adjacent room. It doesn’t matter if you remember, because I do. I have decided that self repair is far more preferable than going through Mister Insurance and his $500 deductible. Now, all that I have to do is to buy about four square feet of Parkay flooring and some of the appropriate glue, spend a few quality minutes/hours and you will never know that there was an incident.

It turns out that laminate flooring has replaced parkay as the cheapest most durable kind of flooring. So much so in fact that I simply can’t find any at all. It is starting to look like I will either have to rip the entire floor up and replace it with laminate or get creative with the water damaged stuff. I haven’t given up, well, I have for today but I have a couple of places to hit tomorrow. Wish me luck.

It was after I had had my hopes dashed that I went to the library to return a couple of movies and to see if anything jumped out at me. Nothing did, so I just headed back to the car. I like to walk by the fronts of the cars, that way it is much more difficult to hit me. It can be done, but they really have to want to hit me. I also take the opportunity to look for abandoned gloves (leather fingers protect my thumb while carving), wallets or electronic devices on the ground. I don’t usually find anything, but I remain optimistic that I will someday. Well, today was the day!
I found an iPhone that had a run in with a car and the screen was pretty much toast. I figured that I would take it to the Apple store and they might be able to track the owner. I would love to find one and be able to keep it, but unfortunately most are locked and without the peripherals they are pretty much useless. I also know just how heartbroken I would be if I lost a $400 or $500 piece of electronics. I know that a phone is just a tool, but it is a tool that can be a better friend than a person. I see the kids making finger love to their phones on the way to school, in the mall, on the bus and even when they are talking to you.

My daughter was telling a co-worker who was considering getting a new phone that he should opt for the smart phone. He said he would probably lose it and she assured him that probably wouldn’t happen. She said that it becomes a part of you and is rarely out of your hand for more than a minute or two. She left hers in a restaurant once but realized before she had gone half a block.

I got home and was telling Louise about my morning when my bag started to ring/vibrate. She looked at me as if to say “Is that a phone in your bag or are you just glad to see me?” I pulled it out and realized that I had no idea how to answer an iPhone. It turns out that just saying “Hello” into it doesn’t work. It’s funny how much I felt like a primitive tribesman that was holding a rock when it all of a sudden sprang to life. I called Arwen and asked her how to answer an iPhone and she said I should just swipe the screen. The problem was that the screen, instead of being a single unblemished piece of Gorilla glass, was now in about two thousand pieces because of the car. It rang several times and the tribesman in me kept tapping, talking and twisting, all to no avail.

I went to the iPad and googled how to answer an iPhone. It said I should swipe the screen. Ahhhhh… Next I asked Mister Google how to answer the phone without the screen. I could swear it hesitated before answering and then explained about using the earpiece that comes with it. Ahhhh…. I went to my found electronic drawer and brought out an earpiece so that the next time the phone rang I managed to answer it. The problem with found electronics is that the reason they are on the ground to be found is that they are shit! I could barely hear the person on the other end and what with the TV blaring and the phone ringing I couldn’t hear the number properly. I heard 999-984*$#%. I tried to call that number and I guess not too surprisingly I got a wrong number.

The next time the phone rang I just gave them my number and hoped for the best. They called and I gave them my address and since they were pretty close they were coming right over. I practiced my “Oh, no need for a reward.” speech, and figured I would give them the old “I would be broken hearted if I (were stupid enough to have) lost my phone. Think nothing of it.”

They drove up and I met them at the street. He asked where I found it in the parking lot and blamed a faulty button on his coat. He thanked me for being so honest and drove off.

As I watched the car drive off I said to myself “Oh, no need for a reward!”

Monday 27 February 2012

Save The Planet

The power supply that I have been waiting on, which I need to repair my ailing and long suffering computer was delivered today. Yay! I have been going to the track and trace site for both the US post office and the Canadian post office on a daily basis. For the past week and a half neither post office acknowledged that there is/was a parcel of that description now or ever in their system.

I was about to fire off an email to the company that I ordered the part, telling them that they may have made an error and failed to ship the parcel. It must be their fault, because how would two efficiently run government agencies (one of them the agency that proved there was a Santa Clause in the Christmas classic “Miracle on 34th Street”) make that kind of screw up? I don’t know how they did it, but screw up they did. Somehow, in spite of all of the checks and balances, I received the package without it showing up on either post office’s track and trace.

I guess that I should be grateful that it was delivered in a timely and efficient manner and that it arrived in one piece without dents, scratches or missing parts. Go post office!!!

Now, I have to actually install the power supply instead of just talking about it. I opened the box and it looked like an octopus from Chernobyl. How am I going to figure out where everything is supposed to go? I made a work station on the kitchen table and started to label wires and groups of wires that looked alike which only left a couple that I had to guess at. I don’t know a lot about electronics, but one thing I do know is that you aren’t really supposed to guess. That kind of thinking can start fires, electrocute older bloggers or fry about a thousand bucks worth of computer. Fingers crossed!

I hooked up all of the wires, cables and plugged the power cord into the wall. The fans started to whir and the blue operating light came on. Well, it did for about ten seconds. Shit! I pressed the button again and F2 several times. It started! I have access to my main computer again. It may only be for a short while, but at least I didn’t blow that money needlessly which was what I was beginning to think I did. The computer is four years old which is pretty old in computer but not so much if you were a tree or building. I will admit that it is almost impossible to send or receive an email with a tree or building.

I think I am going to keep my eyes open for a replacement machine. I hope and pray that this is the fix that I want it to be, but in my heart of hearts I don’t think it is. I guess if I wanted to be one of the cup is half full kind of guys I would say that I am wrong about things more than I am right, so, working on that premise, then perhaps the machine will run for another ten years. Uh-huh…right!

I posted on facebook that the machine was running and a friend sent kudos that I was saving the planet and reusing, repairing and reducing my carbon imprint. I have tried to do my bit to save the planet, and continue to do so in my own small ways. I use a push mower, I ride my bike when I can, I recycle, I turn off lights when I leave a room and I even try to grow a little food. Some of them I am proud of. To be honest though, the only reason I repaired the computer is that I don’t have any desire to spend the money on a new one. Maybe it will be the cheap bastards that save the planet in the end.

Sunday 26 February 2012

Oscar Night

I guess that I can’t let today go by without mentioning the Oscars. So many people all over the world tune in to see various aspects of the show. I would wager that a very large number like to see the movie stars. Some watch in order to see the outfits that the stars are wearing. Some people actually want to know who won what in all of the categories. I just think it is odd.

I suppose that my problem (one of many) is that I haven’t seen most of the movies that are up for awards. I don’t really care how the special effects were accomplished and the make up and hair people although wonderful at their jobs are in the end just make up and hair people. In my ignorance I was just going to say that other businesses don’t have annual awards presentations but they do. In fact, I am pretty sure that all businesses and trades have their versions of the Academy Awards. I was just so low in my chosen field that not only would I never be nominated, but I didn’t even know about them. 

I had a buddy that got a “Silver Postmark Award” one year. I can’t remember what he got it for, but I assume it was service above and beyond…yadda…yadda…yadda. I don’t think he ran into a burning building, but I would imagine that he somehow saved someone or maybe delivered a bunch of flyers before they were due. He and his wife went to a dinner and he was presented with his Silver Postmark award. I always call it the Silver Suck award just so that he doesn’t get a swollen head. I guess that if I were being honest, I would have liked getting some kind of acknowledgement of a job well done. The only problem and the obvious inference is that I just didn’t do the job that well. I would have run into a burning building and rescued a cat if there had in fact ever been a burning building. Maybe not, but there were many, many, many times that I didn’t call a customer a “Fucking asshole” when they were being fucking assholes. Maybe I didn’t get the award because of the times that I did call the customers fucking assholes. Hmmmm…something to review after I die and am trying to justify my life.

It is kind of nice to see what movies I should avoid watching in the coming year or two. Generally if the movie won the academy award I will sit there staring and wondering just what the hell it is about. One of the big winners tonight was a silent movie. I am all for the idea of actors keeping their mouths shut, but more off the screen than on. I was just wondering if it won for best writing. I am sure it is wonderful and all of you movie buffs out there are wetting yourselves waiting to talk about the movie tomorrow at work. Knock yourself out.

There is a guy I know that has over 6500 movies and knows the directors, writers, stars and probably the hairdressers from each one of them. He loves talking movies and his eyes light up when he does. I get a kick out of watching people talk about the thing that makes them want to get up in the morning. I just can’t remember that kind of stuff. 

When I watch a movie, I don’t want to know who did the makeup or even who the actors were. I want to immerse myself into a make believe world where anything is possible. I want to believe that dragon’s can not only fly, but that they can talk. I want to believe that a person can avoid a bullet and if he doesn’t, he will just shrug it off as “Only a flesh wound!” I want to know that two hours from now the hero will survive and the villain will lose. I want my aliens to speak English and be stupid enough for the human race to win whatever war we get into. I want the nice guy to get the girl. I want the underdog to win. 

I guess that at the end of the day I want to enjoy those two hours that I spent $12 to see.

Saturday 25 February 2012

Human Sphincter

I spent a lot of yesterday thinking about my kids. Mostly good thoughts…mostly. I was thinking about a couple of years ago when I was visiting Maegan in Toronto when she had an apartment on Isabella Street. There was a place on the corner of Isabella and Yonge St called the House Of Lords that is a hair stylisty place. I can remember going to this place over forty years ago and coming out with a froo-froo haircut that was way more than my budget at the time would allow. I think I got some kind of shag cut which I thought might help me to get …well…shagged. It was okay I guess, but eventually it grew out as hair is wont to do, and there I was, stuck with an expensive, messy head of hair. Well, there wasn’t anything for it, but to go back to the old German barber who only knew one kind of haircut, short and cheap.

I thought about getting my hair “done” while I was visiting, kind of like returning to the scene of the crime, but I looked in and saw what they were charging to cut hair in this century and I quickly backed out. They only get to fleece this patsy once in a lifetime.

I generally know when I need to get my hair cut if it starts to feel greasy all of the time even when it is clean. I had gone a little too long this time and I was sort of thinking of letting it grow out and see what I would look like with flowing locks. Louise had been dropping hints for a week or more about my hair. “Here’s some money, go and get your hair cut!” “Don’t you think it is time to get your hair cut?” I figured I had better go and get my hair cut before the weekend and Louise took me to the barber.

My father had been going to the same barber since he moved to London Ontario. Dad didn’t have a lot of hair, but he would go every couple of weeks. Usually he would announce that he was going by saying that if he didn’t get his hair cut people would mistake him for a Beatle. Long after I had left home and moved out west, I assume that dad kept up his haircutting habits. Dad had retired and I guess he and mom had gone downtown London to shop. While mom was shopping, dad went to get his hair cut. Mom finished shopping early or dad had to wait longer than normal, but whatever the reason, mom went to meet dad at the barbers. Dad was just finishing and paying for his haircut when my mom said “What? You aren’t going to charge him full price, he has hardly any hair.” Dad laughed, paid the man and I don’t think he talked to mom for a week or two. I know that he never went back to that barber. Ladies, you deal with your hair the way you want and let the men handle their hair or lack of hair as they see fit. 

So, I went in to see Dennis and get my hair cut. I always say the same thing when I sit in the chair, “ Hi there, Dennis. Just cut it short and try and make me look beautiful for the ladies.” Dennis smiles and puts the smock over my body, then puts that little strip of tissue around my neck and tightens the smock. We talk about the weather, if it has been good or bad and how long the current season will last. I don’t think Dennis likes me very much, but he knows what side of the bread the butter is on and he smiles if I make a joke and nods at the appropriate times. There are always awkward pauses. I think he is seriously conservative and I suspect that he knows that I have liberal, left leanings. He always does a good job and holds the mirror up at the end so that I can see what a good job he did. What the hell would I say if I didn’t like it? “What the fuck Dennis! You fucking butcher, put it back! I’m not paying for this shit!”
You know I just might get away with a free haircut if I did that, but I doubt I could ever go back again. I was in the chair once when a guy came in and said he didn’t like his haircut and got the other barber to “fix” it. His hair looked pretty good to me, but the dark look that was on Dennis’s face had me decide that I would live with any kind of shit haircut I got. I thought he was going to push his scissors into the guy’s ear. I’ll just live with my hair, and if it isn’t very good, it isn’t as if I have to look at it any ways. 

He raised his rates recently to $17 from $15, which was raised from $12 a few years ago, so with a tip I pretty much have to give him $20. I will pay it even though I don’t think having your hair cut is worth that kind of money. Hair is after all just a waste product the body sloughs off. In it’s way; it isn’t all that different from the other waste products that come out of the body. Having a barber cut your hair is just like when your sphincter cuts off the solid waste.

I am sure that Dennis thinks I am an asshole too.  

Friday 24 February 2012

Happy Birthday

I don’t think that I have very many regrets in life. Oh, sure there are paths not taken that are filled with “what ifs” and “could have dones”, but I believe that all of my choices have led me to where I am today. It is a place that I am very happy to be in and I feel pretty comfortable in my skin. There is a little too much skin, but I am working on that. No, really, I am!

Thirty-one years ago today I was blessed with two of the most wonderful children that have graced the face of the planet. I may be a little biased and in fact I am now and have always been in love with them since moments after their birth. When I was sitting in the rocking chair in my gown and mask when the nurses placed the two tiny bundles of concentrated cute into my arms. One was a girl and the other a boy. Maegan has used the fact that she is the older of the two to get a certain amount of respect over the years. Well, she has tried but Brendan wasn’t having any of that. I honestly don’t know for sure who was first, but why would the nurses lie? 

I will admit that they were a lot of work for the first little while, since we were using cloth diapers and I would come home to a stack of them that were rinsed but not scrubbed.  It wasn’t long before they were each other’s best friend. For some reason that we could never figure out, they called each other “Be-be”. They had a private language, which I suppose is a twin thing, and the only one that could understand it was Arwen who would translate for us. 

You know, when I think back, it is amazing that I didn’t hug the life out of them. 

Over the years they have become just wonderful human beings. I will often be sitting in this empty old house and wish that it were filled with laughter, yelling, running and playing children once again. Perhaps that is one of the reasons I love the grandkids so much, they remind me of times gone by and this time perhaps I can spend a little more time to focus on what the little ones find important. The rooms in this house are still known to me by which one of the kids lived in it. I can still see marks in the walls and the odd time I will find something or theirs that has remained hidden for all of these years. 

Louise took a lot of pictures over the years and we have thousands of pictures of them growing up. I guess I should get them all organized and see if they want to take a good selection for their own. I still have a lot of things that they made when they were growing up. I have a large selection of clay globs that look something like animals/ashtrays/unworldly gizmos in all different colours, with their names scratched on the bottom. I have several boxes of school work and construction paper hearts or Santas that I kept just in case they became great artists. The damned things could be worth a fortune. I am going to keep Brendan’s early writings for when he writes the great Canadian novel. Maegan’s blog ( ) is well written and I’m keeping her stuff in case she goes viral. Every now and then I will see if they want any of this stuff and there has been a universal lack of enthusiasm. I vow that I will toss it out, but when push comes to shove, I can’t bear to part with it. They can toss it when they are cleaning the house after I die.

I don’t tell them often enough just how proud I am of the people they have become. They are well loved and pretty much everyone that knows them are better people for knowing them. Maegan and Brendan still have a bond that binds them together no matter how far apart they are. I can’t imagine how hollow my life would have been without kids. I wish I could have done more for them over the years and given them all of the best things that life has to offer, but I did my best, and that is all that you can do.



Thursday 23 February 2012

Health Care

The big news in this part of the country is that the Health Quality Council of Alberta released a report that says our health system is in the toilet. People have died waiting for surgery, doctors have been paid and or threatened into keeping quiet about political interference and the emergency room waits are just horrendous. Big surprise on all of the above!

None of this is a surprise to anyone that has had need of the health care system, or those that were around when health care was functioning. I tend to be something of a conspiracy theorist and think that the Alberta government has intentionally sabotaged the health system in order to pave the way for an American style pay-as-you-go system. I firmly believe this, but for the life of me I can’t see how the politicians will benefit from giving us a poorer quality of care. I suppose that it could be argued there would be a lot of graft and could make these scumbags rich. It seems so shortsighted.

My daughter had to take Hurricane to the hospital last night because he was complaining about how much his ears hurt him. There is a hospital about five minutes away from her place, but instead she drove 30 miles to the town of Strathmore. It is just a small country hospital and I guess there are fewer people drawing on the resources there. Hurricane is fine by the way and with the miracle drug of Tylenol and a prescription of antibiotics he should have a full recovery. Arwen is a little worse for wear since she didn’t sleep and had to put in a full day. Poor baby! I guess the point I am trying to make is that she would have been waiting four hours in the city and she was back home in an hour and a half going to the country. There is something wrong there.

Louise was sick in Canmore once and we went to the hospital there. We filled out the paperwork, sat in the waiting room, were seen by the doctor and filled the prescription in about 45 minutes. Even if we had to drive the hour to get there it would still be faster than a city hospital. I just don’t understand why it is so hard to cut down wait times in the emergency ward. They could take a hint from the grocery stores. When there is a line at the checkouts in a store they open up another checkout until the line disappears. If there are a lot of people in the emergency ward, call in doctors from other floors and have them clear the backlog. Perhaps they could have three or four doctors assigned to the emergency ward and if they aren’t needed, they could go and do some other doctoring in the hospital. Yes, it is very simplistic, but perhaps that is the approach that is needed.

I have a nephew that is a doctor. I believe he originally wanted to be a general practitioner, but the cost of schooling was so great that if he ever wanted to pay off the loans he had to become a specialist. Why is that? The fees could be paid and a contract with the doctor made that he would have to practice for a certain number of years in this region. Not only would we have doctors, but also this method would open up the possibility of allowing students that wanted to go into medicine but didn’t have the money into the program.

I know I don’t know all of the difficulties involved with our health system and what I propose probably wouldn’t work. However, I sat down for a few minutes and came up with a couple of solutions and quite frankly, I am not that smart. If some really intelligent people got together and had the will to change the system that we know, then it wouldn’t be that hard. I guess part of the problem is that they find it hard to talk to each other and think straight while they are busy filling their pockets and bank accounts.

I am sure there is a solution and I hope the powerful people work it out by the time I or my loved ones need hospital care.

Wednesday 22 February 2012

Riding Bitch To a Four Year Old

You know, I don’t particularly want this blog to be a journal of my daily activities, but sometimes it seems that is just what it is. I take solace in the fact that a lot of what I write is not, not the truth, but more of an amalgam of life and experiences. Confused? Well, join the club.

Today was a pretty good day. I slept in a bit mainly because I am just a little under the weather. I have a mildly running nose (at least it is getting some exercise), and a sore throat that is hanging out with a cough. My voice is kind of sexy in a gravelly voiced kind of way. Okay, I just sound like I have a sore throat and shouldn’t be out anywhere talking to anyone. 

I put off a walk with Buster because as I said, I am a little under the weather and an insurance appraiser was coming over in the morning. When he came, I put Buster outside just so he wouldn’t bother the guy. I spent too long dealing with people that believed their dogs were the gentlest creatures on earth. A buddy of mine had a woman open the door and tell him not to worry about her “Fluffy” because she wouldn’t hurt a fly. Bill lifted his leg and “Fluffy” was hanging to his calf by her teeth. Bill asked her “What’s the name of this dog? ‘Cause this one really hurts!” I think Buster was a little pissed off, but what is he going to do? Oh, yeah, he can piss on the rug. Sorry Buster. Here’s a treat.

The insurance guy told me pretty much what I expected. They can fix it for about $1500. I on the other hand could fix it for about fifty bucks and not have to pay the $500 deductible. There is something seriously wrong with this system. I also found out what it was that is holding up my working for a couple of weeks at the post office. The post office had to move some sortation cases in order for the Construction Company to repair the floor that they had screwed up, and they were charging $5000 which the aforementioned Construction Company doesn’t want to pay. I don’t blame them, My buddies and I could move them in a day for about $600 in wages. We are going to tell the post office that we will move them back for $3000. Here’s hoping.

I signed papers to allow me to work at the post office. I had to promise not to steal any mail. I told them that in thirty years I didn’t find anything in the mail worth stealing and I didn’t believe that things had changed. We went to Tim Hortons for a coffee afterwards, and if you remember from last night’s blog they are having “Roll Up The Rim To Win” contest. Guess what? I won a coffee! All is right with the world and I am pretty sure the sun will rise tomorrow. If for some reason I don’t wake up then I leave my free coffee to Louise.

Arwen, Chris and the boys came over tonight for supper. Their house was being shown again. I hope for their sakes that it sells quickly, but from a purely selfish point of view I like seeing the boys more than we normally do during the week. Hurricane and Tornado have been sick lately (one guess why I am sick) and last night they were just snugglers. Tornado was much the same tonight, but Hurricane seems to be getting better. He wheedled a fudgesicle out of Poppa and after supper we went downstairs to play. He made a motorcycle out of the weight bench and had me riding behind him. We went to various places and he drove really, really, really fast. This kid is never driving my car! He drives like his grandma.

So anyways, this is what my life has come to. Riding bitch to a four-year-old.

Tuesday 21 February 2012

Please Play Again

Well, it’s that time of year again that all Canadians look forward to. It is ROLL UP THE RIM at Tim Hortons! For those that don’t know, Tim Horton’s is a donut and coffee shop that has become an integral part of Canadian culture, and at this time of year there is a contest with literally millions of prizes. The prizes range from a Toyota Camry (mine I hope), 3D TV’s, camping equipment, $100 gift cards and 72,000,000 food prizes. Of course most people will win a free coffee, donut or a cookie. This is my year however and I shall win the Camry! Perhaps all I will win is a donut, but it’s better than nothing. Whatever, just so long as I win something.

I had my first coffee this afternoon and I could hardly wait while that hot, brown, caffeine laden liquid slowly, ever so slowly worked its way to the bottom of the cup. I tried to drink faster, but my lips and tongue are hyper sensitive to heat. When the moment of truth finally came I took the empty cup in my hands and with a push of my thumbs I rolled the rim up to reveal the secret message. Please play again! 

I’m not a fool, I knew that the chances were that I wouldn’t win on the first cup of the season. I have dreams though, and wouldn’t it have been fantastic to win on the first cup? I don’t know if they sell more coffee at this time of year, but it is one hell of a good promotion. I even have a special plastic rim roller, which must have been designed for those with weak thumbs or equally weak minds. Who can’t roll the rim on a paper cup? I have had difficulty from time to time, so I guess that I will have to go with the “weak mind” description. My hands are just fine thank you. It is kind of a moot point because I can’t remember the last time I remembered to bring my rim roller.

Here is the web site that will tell you all that you want to know about Tim Hortons Roll Up The Rim. You can even play online! 

When I got home today I was thinking about some Buddhist friends of mine in particular and the whole concept of reincarnation in general. I have always believed that the eastern religions make far more sense than our western ones. I guess that it is because it is more of a way to live your life in a way that fits you specifically rather than our religion that tends to tell you how you should live your life.

I particularly like the concept of reincarnation as opposed to heaven and hell. To me spending an eternity in either heaven or hell would be …well…Hell. I know that I may need to relearn a few lessons that I have skipped over in this lifetime, and I am prepared to spend the next one or two working on it. It is kind of like being failed in school. No one really wants to stay back a year, but after a while it becomes obvious that it is for the best. I failed grade 10 because that was the year I learned two important things. The first was that no matter what you did in school there wasn’t really anything in the way of punishment that they could do to you. They couldn’t kill you or even torture you. If they suspended you for skipping class, you got to miss class with their permission. Perfect! A detention was just an hour or so being spent in quiet reflection…more or less.

The second reason that I failed and this is the one that probably caused the realization of the first reason; was that this was the year I discovered there are substances in the world that can alter the way you look at said world. 

It occurred to me that life with reincarnation is a lot like drinking a coffee at Tim Hortons. Every day is a prize, some are better than others are and sometimes you just get a notification to Please play again

Monday 20 February 2012

Family Day

I was under the weather this morning. I spent a couple of days with little kids coughing into my face, so really I get what I deserve. I guess that I would rather be sick and loved by the two cutest kids on the planet than healthy. That being said, in a perfect world I would be healthy and loved.   

So, I decided that I would take a lazy day, make a pot of coffee, clear a spot on the table, spread out the paper and see what shape the world is in. We get the paper every day, but for one reason or another I always seem to be too busy to do more than scan the headlines. Well, I doread which movie star is leaving whom or how a family of no talent bimbos have managed to parlay good looks into a multi million dollar empire.   

There didn't seem to be any earth shaking news, but as always happens, with every turn of the page I get a little sadder and a little more depressed. Kids from wealthy neighbourhoods appear to do better than their counterparts in the poorer neighbourhoods. The opposition party thinks that the ruling party are a bunch of crooks but they fail to mention that they themselves are a bunch of crooks, just not as successful. In the town of Canmore which is being overrun with feral rabbits (which attract coyotes and cougars) they are starting to spay and neuter the rabbits. They initially wanted to have them killed, but the animal rights activists have won and they are being humanely trapped and sterilized.   

I hope that the bunnys that haven't been captured yet can "keep it in their pants" until they can come to Calgary and get snipped. Otherwise this could just go on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on... Back in the day the government would put a bounty on rabbits and every kid would have traps out and their parents would have saved a bundle on meat. Not to mention getting nice, warm rabbit fur socks. Before you could say "What's up Doc?" there wouldn't be a rabbit problem anymore. Ahhh...the good old days.   

Today is Family Day in Alberta and several other provinces. The federal government employees have to work because the whole country doesn't get the day off and God forbid some workers have to work and others don't. They do get a day in August which is generally much better weather for taking a day off than mid February. Louise had to work and I didn't, which means that our lives went on pretty much like any Monday. I hated this day when I was delivering mail, for several reasons. Most of the businesses weren't open, but you never knew which ones from year to year, so you would have to carry the mail all day just in case. Everyone that you met on the street, and believe me when I tell you that you met everyone, would look at you with a stunned expression on their face and say " Are you working today?"   

I would usually say something like "Yeah, I don't have to, but I figured what would I do at home." Or maybe "Shit! Do you mean to tell me that TODAY is Family Day?" I would keep track year to year to compare how many times I was asked if I were working. I think that 1992 was the year of the morons for me. The good thing was that the roads were virtually empty but on the flip side there would be more dogs wandering around than usual.  

 It is interesting that Alberta was the first province to institute Family Day. It was when Don Getty was premier during the mid nineties and he was facing a scandal because his son was arrested for use and possession of cocaine. He expressed remorse that he hadn't spent more time with his family and thus was born Family Day. Who says the voters can't be bought off?  

 If you have a Family Day where you live or just any mid winter day off, I hope that you enjoyed the day and that you have an easy time for the rest of the week. One more day till hump day.        

Sunday 19 February 2012


My  long time friend Don had his sixtieth birthday celebration today. Knowing Don, there is a better than fifty-fifty chance that he is still celebrating and will be for some time to come. I am not sure if today is his actual birthday (I am really bad with these things) or if it just happened to be a time when the pub was available. I was invited, but since the party is in Toronto, well actually Scarborough, I wasn't able to attend. There have been so many important celebrations that I have missed over the years because of the economics of travel and having to make some hard choices. Luckily, my friends have generally understood and have forgiven me for my not trespassing.

I am sure there is great music, good conversation, excellent food and of course beer and wine. There are other drinks, but with this group I am not sure they are worth mentioning. Given the age of most of the attendees, I don't think I would be wrong to suggest that there will be a lot of talk about personal plumbing problems, phantom pain and aching joints. Forty years ago there would have been smoking of joints and feeling no pain at all. I wish I were there and able to see the young men and women trapped in more mature frames. I would imagine that some of their children will be there to help Don and his buddies celebrate. The kids are after all what make the struggles in life worth it.

I first met Don the summer between grade eight and grade nine. We were going into high school and it  was perhaps the first really free summer that we had. We were old enough that our parents trusted us to be by ourselves while they worked.  The first time I saw Don was when about twenty kids got together at Maryvale PS field for a football game. Don was the guy that brought his dog Whisky. It turned out that Whisky was by far the best player on the field. He could outrun everyone and never missed a tackle. If he had opposable thumbs he would have been the team captain. That summer we all spent a lot of time together, playing football, baseball and just generally hanging out together. Strong bonds were formed.

Over the next couple of years we became the people that we are now. More or less. We discovered girls, alcohol, drugs, police harassment and how much fun it could be to learn. Well, others discovered that, I discovered just how much fun school could be in spite of the classes. There are many memorable times which will eventually make their way into the blog, but tonight I just flashed on a particular party. I came late, and when I walked in, Don was on the floor with two large speakers facing each other and his head in between. I think it was the Cream, but those years are a little misty. I think he had been listening to the album skipping for the past half hour. There isn’t anything worse than being several levels of “stoned” behind.

Don went on to university and attained his masters in Medieval English Literature, learning all about Chaucer and his contempoaries. I am sure don talked about them endlessly, but after I heard “Chaucer” my eyes would glaze over.  Now, for anyone else that would have been a colossal waste of time, but Don parlayed it and his love of the written word into a life long career in the publishing field. Okay, his first job was driving a truck for M & S but he soon became a junior editor and is now well respected in the publishing world. Well, that is what he says anyways. 

Don is one of those guys that listen more than he speaks, and when he does speak you can tell that he has given your words his undivided attention and considerable thought. Yeah, it has always unnerved me. I am more used to people ignoring what I say and can therefore pretty much say nothing at all worth listening to. To his credit, Don has seldom burst out laughing in my face. Well, not more than 50% of the time anyways, and if I had to  listen to myself I would laugh more than listen too. 

I just wanted to say how much that I respect and admire Don. It's at this point that he will be waiting for some humorous quip and personal attack from me, but not today. Well, he would be if he read the blog. Don has held true to his friends through thick and thin. I know that if I ever need anything he will be the first to offer help and wait until later to ask what kind of idiot I am and why did I have a body that needed to be moved in the first place.. True friends know you for the asshole you are, the asshole you have been and the asshole you will be in the future; and they like you in spite of it.


----from the once and future asshole----   

Saturday 18 February 2012

Mall Rat

I was caught up watching TV and had to drag myself away to write tonight. I wasn’t watching anything that was particularly interesting or in any way gripping, but there I was and now here I am. To tell you the truth, I would much rather be there.

I have had a long and taxing day. It started out quite early looking through the phone book for a plumber that would come and fix/replace our water heater. I did say phone book, for those of you that use Canada 411 exclusively to look up people and numbers. There is just something about those thick yellow books that are printed on crappy paper to give you a sense that you are actually doing the looking and not some mindless machine. You can look at the ads the companies have put in the book and can get a sense of who they are and what they stand for. You hope they stand for honesty, integrity and a dollars work for a dollars pay. The reality is, that is what the copywriter wants you to think and if they could get the gold flecks out of your eyes they would be on your chest, thumb deep in your eye sockets.

I called one company and the price they quoted was so much that I could have flown my buddy in from Vancouver Island, bought the materials and taken him out for a very good meal. When did plumbers start to work Monday to Friday and charge overtime on the weekend? Broken plumbing isn’t a nine to five kind of happening. I know that everyone has to make a living. The guy that did come and replace the water heater (Frank’s Plumbing 403-2751830) was reasonable. That “reasonable” reads like reasonable, but was said in my mind like this reeeson….abllllleee(?). He was thorough and friendly and did his job with skill. He has been a plumber for thirty years and only told me to stop taking once. I am just cheap and pissed that the old hot water heater didn’t last for the rest of my life.

I guess that come tomorrow, I will have to call the insurance company to assess the damage to the floor. Not too much I don’t think, but you just never know and I have been paying premiums for the better part of my life. More bullshit to come…

I went to pick up my new glasses today and while I was there I picked up a couple of things at the Walmart. There are a couple of malls that I just love to go to in the city. One is Market Mall in the NW and the other is Southcentre Mall in the SE. Both of these malls are clean, well kept up and the stores are unique and interesting. Oh, sure they have the regular kind of mall stores but they also have Disney stores and Lego stores. I guess what I am saying is that there are places that I as a man can go into and spend some time looking while Louise is doing the serious shopping. The other thing I like about these malls is that they seem to be populated with beautiful people. Every one there seems to believe that a trip to the mall is an occasion to look and dress nice and an occasion to be happy about. They even let me stay.

Yes, I love those malls! However, that isn’t where I went today. I went to Marlborough Mall where the only unique thing would be the bullet holes in the walls. For some reason, everyone there seems to be wearing the last day clothes. You know the clothes you wear on the last possible day before you absolutely HAVE to do the laundry. You would swear that this is where all of the ugly people that lived near the nice malls come to shop. In a way I don’t blame them because I always feel out of place at the nice malls. When you go to Marlborough Mall it is always hard to find a good parking spot, and by good I mean one with plenty of walk by traffic that might deter anyone trying to break into your car. The good thing about the mall is that you are in and out, no hanging around to watch the people. The glasses were fine by the way. They passed the “Arwen” test which means she didn’t laugh out loud. It is this kind of thing that gives me a reason to get up in the morning…sort of.

The rest of the day was taken up with Hurricane and Tornado. Hurricane wasn’t feeling too well so he went home with his mom and dad, while Tornado is having a sleep over. I hope he sleeps well into tomorrow.

Friday 17 February 2012

Half Full of Empty

You know it is always something.

I had put off getting glasses for quite some time until I was sure that buying them wasn’t going to be a burden financially. Sure, I have a plan, but it never seems to cover the full amount and this time I spent more than I should have. I have mentioned that my computer just died and although I am going to try and replace the power supply myself, the way my luck seems to be going I will probably just have to turn around and sell it for a loss on Ebay. 

February, March, April and May are big birthday months in our family and consequently big dollar months. There was a time when I would dread this time of year because you can’t disappoint kids on their birthdays. It is OK to disappoint adults however. We have a vacation planned and paid for and so far everything was under control. These are just the costs associated with life. I tend to be cheap, so I cringe whenever I have to open my wallet. However, as I said these things are planned and budgeted for. 

Just when everything seems to be going fine, the shit hits the fan. Oh, it isn’t on the scale of children starving in Africa or the European Union collapsing, but this will rock my world far more than those terrible happenings. I went downstairs tonight and noticed that the parquet floor in Louise’s sewing had heaved due to moisture. WTF! I tracked the leak down to our water heater, which is leaking. Shit!

I just don’t deal with this stuff very well. I know that I will call someone tomorrow and find out just what to do. That someone will come and take out the bad water heater and replace it with a new and improved heater that will look after our needs for the next decade or so. It will get done, but it will also cost. I think the last time I had one replaced, my buddy Peter did the work and he did a wonderful job. Unfortunately, he has since moved to BC where he fixes other peoples water heater problems.

The good news is that I found out that I will have a couple of weeks of work coming in March and although I don’t have any actual figures I would bet that the cost of the water heater replacement and labour will equal or surpass my wages. The “half empty” perspective is that I am working for nothing; whereas the “half full” perspective has me rejoicing that I have the opportunity to earn the money. I think that I am somewhere in between, “half full of empty”.

Tomorrow I get to pick up my glasses and with any luck I won’t look like a total goof in them. Well, no more of a goof than I normally look.

Thursday 16 February 2012

The Stupidity of Man

I spent some time today wondering just how some of the things we take for granted, came to be. I also spent some time looking under all of the debris around the house looking for a year old lottery ticket. This particular lottery ticket is an unclaimed lotto max ticket from last February 25th that was/is worth $1,000,000. I will grant you that the odds of my having misplaced a winning lottery ticket or that I was the person that had purchased the ticket in the first place is pretty remote. The way I figure it though, is that I buy lottery tickets and my chances of winning can’t be any worse than the chance that I won and misplaced the ticket. The good thing about this search is that the ticket is already a winner and all I have to do is find it. Wish me luck!
I was washing the dishes and started to think about soap. Louise and I were telling the kids on the weekend that we could remember how painful it was when as a kid your mom would get shampoo in your eyes. They either didn’t have baby shampoo or my parents figured the crying wasn’t such a bad trade off if they could save fifty cents. I can hear the conversation now, “Mommy! My eyes hurt! STOP!” I am pretty sure my mom would have come back with something like “You think this hurts? When I was a kid, my mom washed my hair with lye soap! Not only would it hurt, but if you didn’t rinse it right away the acid would blind you.” 
How can you argue with that? I suppose they had to walk uphill (both ways) through thigh deep snow to the store to buy it. Parents are full of shit! Not me, but all of the others.

So in the dim recesses of time, someone had to have come up with the idea. They had to mix wood ash, water and animal fat in the right concentration. The wrong concentration just wouldn’t work. Too strong and it would blister your skin; too weak and it wouldn’t do anything. We have to remember that this person had no idea what soap was or that he was getting close. How anal do you have to be to keep mixing fat and ashes? Unless you got it right the first time you wouldn’t even know what it would do. I can just picture some person ten thousand years ago telling the lead hunter that “Yeah, I am going to stay back with the women and see what happens when I mix fat and ashes. You guys have a good time hunting that mammoth. Oh, watch out for the tigers and wolves!”

That actually sounds like something I would do.
How about the guy that came up with cooking the Puffer fish? This is so dangerous that only chefs that have had rigorous training and licenses are allowed to cook it. The poison is in the organs and skin and it causes paralysis of the respiratory system. There is no known antidote. Perhaps it is just me, but there is nothing in this world or quite probably the next that could entice me to take a chance that the chef has had the correct training or that he isn’t having an off day. How good could it be? It is fish! It’s an ugly fish at that. Who, back in the dark reaches of feudal Japan decided to keep trying? “Sure, the last couple of people I fed this to died, but I have a hunch that if you survive, it will be pretty tasty.” Just how hungry would you have to be to say “Ahhh…what the hell? Slice me off a slab of that baby!”

There are many more examples and I am sure that if I keep writing this blog I will get to them all eventually. There are no limits to the stupidity of man.

Wednesday 15 February 2012

A Word Of Caution

  Well, it looks like I am going to have to write tonights blog on the iPad, as I have the sinking feeling that my desktop has decided that it won't be a party to this drivel anymore. I had hoped that if I just did nothing for long enough then the computer would forget that it was breaking down. No such luck! So far, this seems to be working fine.  

Buster and I were walking today and sometimes our walks take us past the high school that my kids went to. When it was built, it was heralded as the most high tech school in the city with more computers than any other by far. I did a tour just before it opened, and it was really a place that would be a treat to learn in. Oh, the kids would probably still hate being there for the most part, but as an adult it was nice to see my tax dollars being spent on something that I could actually get behind.  

The reality was quite different of course. You would think with all of those computers the kids would be able to access the library from home and when their homework was complete they could just email it to the school. Unfortunately, the school officials were so paranoid about the kids hacking the system that there was a very limited access. I knew they would piss away my tax dollars.

 So, Buster and I were walking past some kids going to class and they were wearing clothing that was really inappropriate for the weather and in my mind, attending school. I am just an old fart so who cares what I think anyways. It got me to thinking about when I was younger and the inappropriate attire that I would wear from time to time. There was one time when the city of Toronto was suffering a shortage of marijuana. I think the supply lines must be better now, but back then, if there were a large seizure, the whole city would be without what we needed to get through the day. My friends and I were fortunate to have heard of a guy that knew a guy that heard that a friend's sister went out with a guy's brother who actually had some weed and was willing to sell. We called around to all of our friends and took their orders and of course money with which to buy the dope. It is hard to remember, but I think we were buying a pound or a kilo. We had gone to school and had learned the economics of purchasing in bulk. The more that you bought, the cheaper you could sell your product for. Thanks for making me take the five year business program in high school mom and dad.

There were a couple of problems associated with this buy. The first was that this guy lived on the other side of the city and we only had one friend with a car. Luckily, Ken was on board with the whole idea of getting high and staying there. The other problem was that we didn't know this guy and thought that it would be best to take the maximum number of people to avoid any kind of rip off scenario. Ken would have to go of course, and Big Bri was a shoe in because of his size. They didn't need to know that he was a cuddly marshmallow. I went so that I would be able to write this blog forty years later and it was either John or Don taking up the other seat. Even if my memory wasn't playing tricks on me, I was more than likely wrecked during this incident and I am amazed that I can remember any of it.  

We all piled into Ken's Epic and started the drive. Before we got onto the highway Ken stopped to check the oil and asked me to pass him a rag in the back seat. I told him there was just a pink sweater and he said that would be fine it belonged to his girl friend. Errr....ahhhh...OK. Bri rode shotgun, I was behind him and Don/John was behind Ken. Ken was wearing a top hat over his shoulder length hair, pink glasses, a tie dyed shirt and tie dyed pants. Bri had tie dyed overalls and his afro. I was tie dyed as well with patched jeans, a leather visor and long hair. Don/John, well if I can't remember who, then I can't remember what they were wearing now, could I? I sat back in my corner drinking a beer and saw Ken and Bri drinking from a bottle of vodka/rye/wild turkey. It occurred to me that perhaps we should have dressed down when on a buying trip. Certainly, it would have been prudent not to be drinking and smoking dope on the drive to the buy. We will keep the bottles out of sight on the way home.  

It turned out that the guy was a pretty cool dude. We sat down and had a beer or two while we smoked a couple of joints to test the stuff. We paid the money and headed home. We weren't worried about getting stopped on the way home at all. We were barely conscious on the way home. All in all, it was a pretty successful trip.  

Just a word of caution to those in similar situations.You can't really judge how good the weed is if you are already really high and drunk.

Tuesday 14 February 2012

Brave Sir Robin

I really like stories that have a more or less unremarkable person thrust into unrealistic and even deadly situations where the outcome of death and dismemberment is a foregone conclusion. However, through a series of chance, blind luck and unknown skills our reluctant protagonist usually manages to not only survive, but to be the hero.

Hansel and Gretel not only survived their encounter with the witch, but they managed to rid the forest of her, had a good feed of candy and also stole the witch’s fortune. Harry Potter is another popular underdog that managed to surmount being orphaned as a baby, having mean adoptive relatives and a very powerful wizard that is hell bent on killing him. Harry had quite a lot of help, and it didn’t hurt that he was also able to cast spells and fly a broom. I guess my favourite underdogs would have to be Bilbo and Frodo Baggins. They are the reluctant heroes that are closest to my heart. They are basically good hearted beings that would prefer to avoid all “interesting” adventures, preferring instead to eat many meals each day, smoke and having naps is a viable pastime. They get tricked into adventures that very nearly result in death and perhaps even worse, they miss many, many meals.

I was thinking today what would happen if I were to be put into a situation in which my skill set would be totally useless. I have to think that I would be one of the unfortunates that wouldn’t make it past chapter three in a book or beyond the title in a movie. I guess fear and adrenaline might give me a few more chapters or minutes, but if I had the need to run or swim any distance, the bad guys wouldn’t have to waste a bullet or knife thrust because all of that fear and adrenaline would have stopped my heart already.

I suppose that I could be the comic relief that gets tossed into the trunk of the car early on in the movie whose muffled complaints would frequently be heard. I don’t know whether I would be able to stare down a bad guy without wetting my pants. I haven’t had many situations in my life when I was threatened with violence, but the few times it did happen I did one of three things. First, I would run which has always seemed to me to be the better part of valour. I picture myself as a modern day Swamp Fox, running away and hiding until I can come back to fight again.

The second thing that I have done is to look the assailant straight in the eye and with a sniffle, a gulp and a quavering voice, Say “Oh yeah!” This has proved particularly useless, because the obvious answer from the bully is “YEAH!” which is followed by a fist or two. My final tactic is to try and reason with the monster, knowing that there is no reasoning with this kind of being and all the while I am making peace with my God.

No, I hope that all of my unrealistic, deadly situations stay in books or on the TV screen. It is possible that I could rise to the situation and be the kind of person they write songs and tell tales about, Like Sir Robin in “The Holy Grail”

Monday 13 February 2012

The Lorax

I had the good fortune to spend the afternoon with my grandsons Hurricane and Tornado today. I always have a good time and I think they do as well. They never say how much fun they have out right, but that is probably because their mouths are filled with chocolate and candy.

Hurricane is the oldest at just under five years old and it is interesting how much more time he spends on his own. He gets involved in whatever it is with total concentration and it can be a challenge to actually get his attention. I suppose that it is just another step in the process of growing up.

Tornado is coming up on two and keeping track of him is still a full time job. Today we were playing chase me around the house which is where he takes off and I am supposed to know we are playing a game. I am actually faster than him, but he is tricky and devious. We play this until Poppa gets too tired and sits down. Tornado still runs around a couple of times, but he pretty much knows that the old chubby guy is done for now. We like to play with blocks. I build a tower and he knocks it down if it gets higher than 2 blocks. Since I am lying down doing this, we can play this until Tornado gets bored. The other game we played was “ready, set, go!” We would say ready, set, go and take turns falling in the others lap and laughing like idiots. It’s a pretty addictive game, you should try it sometime.

The point that I am working my way towards is that kids can do the same thing over and over and over again without ever seeming to get bored. When my kids were small, we read the “Lorax” by Dr. Seuss every night for years! I really like the “Lorax”, but I have taken a break for about twenty years and am ready to start reading it again. We would watch the same VHS movies until they literally wore out. I recorded the kids favourite TV shows so that they could see them whenever they wanted which was all of the time. I still have a lot of them downstairs, and I am debating if it is worth digitizing them or not. I wonder why kids do the same thing over all of the time. Sometimes it just doesn’t make sense. You wouldn’t see adults doing the same thing over and over and over.

Maybe you would. I have a buddy that has been watching and cheering for the Leafs since he could first focus on that flickering image that came off of the TV. Every time they play, he is there, probably wearing his blue jersey and tearing his hair out. I suppose it is possible he is watching just until they win a Stanley Cup. I wonder if you can get cable in a coffin.

I spent the better part of my life walking along the same streets every day and going up to the same houses day in and day out, month after month, year after year. Whenever I met anyone I would greet them in the same way. “How’s it going? Nice day for a walk.” It was designed to be friendly but not friendly enough to encourage further conversation. I had a deadline. Well, I had an afternoon nap to get to. I still walk most every day and I have two routes that I take. Whenever I meet someone I will usually say “How’s it going? Nice day for a walk.” Who wants to talk to weirdos on the street?

We watch the same TV shows, or certainly shows that are similar and we wonder about those that are hooked on shows that we don’t like. “How could they watch such shit?” I read the same kind of books and even some of the same books over and over. I have read the Lord of The Rings more than 20 times and I read one or two of Jean Auel’s books yearly. Robert Heinlein’s “Time Enough For Love” has been a staple for me since I found it as a teenager in a puddle all swollen and missing the back third. By then I was hooked and had to buy my own copy.

I guess in the end we are very much like kids. We know what we like and pretty much stick to it. “The Lorax” animated movie opens in theatres this March and Hurricane told me that we will be going. I’m looking forward to it.

Yoo-Hoo Slot

Sometimes when I was delivering mail, I had to get a signature for a parcel or letter and as soon as the people answered the door a particular smell would hit me and I was taken back in time. Sometimes it would smell just like the house next door to our place when I was growing up. We moved in to the house when I was three and luckily there were kids our age next door. Mike was my age and John was my brother’s age and Jim was the oldest and pretty much ignored us. We stayed friends all through school and we still keep in touch from time to time. Sometimes, I would knock on the door of a house and an old Chinese gentleman would answer the door. Strangely enough, his house smelled like my dog just after he had been licking himself. I don’t know why and I don’t want to know why.

My favourite smell was always and will always be the smell of my grandmother’s house. It smelled of paint, turpentine and old wooden furniture. Whenever I venture into an antique store I think of my gram. Some of the thoughts are about the good times I had at her place through out the years. Whenever we went to visit, my brother and I would run up to the door, open the mail slot and call out “Yoo-hoo” over and over until she answered the door. It was pretty cool as a kid to have a special “Yoo-hoo” slot to talk through instead of one of those common place doorbells. I would imagine that having two kids screaming “Yoo-hoo” into the mail slot would have driven her to distraction. I have contemplated putting in a “Yoo-hoo” slot in our door, but I am not sure how I would go about it.

Once we got into her house, there was always a package of Chicklets in the top left hand drawer of her china cabinet. I can remember being too small for my hand to even reach the drawer. That was one of the few times in my life that having a big brother was beneficial. When she passed away, I was happy to receive that china cabinet and there isn’t a time that I walk by it when I don’t think of her and the Chicklets. You know, it still has that smell.

Grams house was one of those old downtown Toronto brick two story houses that had a sunroom off of the dining room and another off of the master bedroom. Both were freezing cold in the winter and unbearably hot in the summer. I can still picture gram reading to us in the sun room. When there was a family dinner, the cousins would sit at a couple of card tables in the sun room and we would laugh and argue and quite possibly brag about whatever kids brag about. I remember thinking how great it would be to be as old as my cousin Vicki and be able to sit with the adults and be included in their conversations. I never got the chance, because family dinners kind of petered out before I was old enough or perhaps we just ran out of cousins, uncles and aunts which made room at the big table. You know, I would give anything I own to be sitting at that card table and able to watch mom, dad and gram talking and arguing about whatever it was that they would argue about.

Gram had this very scary, very cool basement. She had an old coal burning furnace that had been converted to oil which had octopus like pipes running in every direction. The pipes were so low that it was hard for my dad to move around down there, but not very hard for us kids at all. The best part of the basement was the coal room. The room had long since been empty of coal, but gram had cemented all of the cousin’s initials on the floor using marbles. When we went into the coal room, we would all sit on our initial and would play cards or just sit and talk while the parents did the same upstairs. In later years, I also noticed that the cement blocks on the basement walls had been painted so often that you couldn’t feel where the blocks were joined. That was probably why the house always smelled of paint.

I think I will take a trip down to an antique store tomorrow, just to smell the place.

Saturday 11 February 2012

Insanity Defence

In the thirty odd years that I worked at the Post Office, I dreamt about work two times. I can’t remember what the dreams were about, but I took pride in the fact that I didn’t take work home with me and that my subconscious mind had better things to focus on. I kept an emotional distance from all of the craziness that went on; and really who cares if Aunt Margie got her birthday card on time or even if the mail for 105 Wintergreen Rd. went to 105 Wintergreen Place? Not me and not most of the people that I worked with. Hmmmmm…Perhaps that might be what is wrong with the Post Office. Naaahhhh!

Last night I did dream about delivering mail. I was on vacation in some Spanish speaking country and for some reason I had a large handful of mail. I must have been waiting while Louise was off shopping, so I decided to deliver the mail. Normally, you match the street name and the house number to the one on the letter, and drop it in the mailbox. It is pretty simple, but since I have no working knowledge of Spanish and didn’t know what street I was on, I did have a problem. There was a kid asking me for money and since he spoke English I asked him what street we were on and he told me. It was pretty easy to match the numbers, so I started to deliver the letters.
It was a beautiful part of town, with winding cobblestone streets with flowers hanging from lamp posts and far off music playing. It was kind of nice to be doing something, until I came to a letter that needed a signature. I didn’t have the proper signature sheet, so I picked a piece of paper out of the garbage and would have the person sign it. That’s the best I could do. Unfortunately, the address was under construction and when I asked one of the guys working, he said that he wasn’t sure who lived here. He called his buddy Stan over, but Stan didn’t know either. While we were talking, Stan was drilling holes in the arm of the couch for no apparent reason with a really large drill. I asked them why two English speaking guys were doing work in a Spanish town, but they said that they didn’t speak English at all. After that, I couldn’t understand a word they said.

When I got back on the street, I saw the kid I talked to was being chased by the local cops. I guess it was because he was begging or maybe he was even a thief. I watched him duck into a doorway and just before the cops got there, a man and a bunch of kids came out wearing funny black hats and green capes. They went over and sat under a large tree and the man (teacher) started talking to them. He pulled out a large set of bulls testicles that had been knitted out of wool, and began to point out what I can only imagine was the best way to cut them off. All of the kids pulled out smaller versions that were rainbow coloured and the whole class began to stroke their little bags of nuts.

I looked around and although I sort of understood why I would dream about delivering mail, I couldn’t understand why I would dream of rainbow coloured, woolen bull’s balls. I looked at the mail left in my hand, said “Fuck this shit!” and tossed it in a garbage can. I wandered off looking for some place that sold ice cream.
I wanted to get this dream down and “out there” just in case I ever kill anyone. This might go a long way helping my lawyer and the insanity defence. Well, it can’t hurt.

Friday 10 February 2012


My daughter Arwen was born on February 11, 1979.

I don’t know if it will ever be a date that millions will celebrate, or carry images of her on a chain around their necks, but her birth sure changed my life. It is because of her that I became a dad and Louise became a mom. It is funny how a first child will do that. She is a pretty amazing person and I wouldn’t be surprised if she somehow finds fame and glory. It probably won’t be as a rock star (I’ve heard her sing), or really any kind of musician, because the only thing she can play is the radio.

I remember how happy Louise and I were when we brought her home. From the very beginning she was a very sweet tempered child. You know, at first even her shit didn’t stink! That didn’t last though. I knew there would be some problems raising her when I saw her in front of the mirror crying. I asked what was wrong and she told me that she was just practicing. She never cried very much, but whenever she did, my heart would just melt. Unfortunately, I was the one that caused her to cry a lot of the time and although it made sense to me back then I do regret it now. Back in those days, a hug and a slurpee would usually be enough to wash the tears away.

She is one of those people that are smart, charming and that everyone likes. People feel comfortable around her and for the most part I think she feels comfortable around others. She is pretty smart, and when she wasn’t skipping I am sure she made intelligent contributions to the class. She did well in school and I am sure if she had spent more actual time in the classroom she could have had even better grades.

I could talk about all of her accomplishments and what a fine person that she has turned out to be, but I hope that she knows how I feel towards her and just how proud I am. There are two things that she has done that really makes her a shining light in my eyes. She has given me my grandsons, Hurricane and Tornado.

She continues to be a light in my life and manages to laugh at me in a way that makes me laugh as well…usually. She keeps me grounded and I understand that she even reads this blog from time to time. She says she reads it in order to keep track of the lies. That’s probably a good idea.

I just wanted to say thanks for joining the family all of those years ago and your mom and I look forward to many more years of laughter with you.