Monday 30 April 2012

Toronto, April 2012

You know, I don’t really like to travel.

I have mentioned this before and it is a true statement as far as it goes. I get nervous about a week or so before any trip and as the date for leaving approaches that nervousness seems to get more and more intense. There have been times when I have passed out on the morning of a flight and once I was all “atremble” for the week that I was at my destination. Over the years I have had more than a few trips to the doctors and several specialists as well. The last time I was diagnosed by a couple of internists and it was their considered medical opinion that I didn’t really have much to worry about as although not common, it is known in certain medical circles. I was happy they didn’t name the disease after me.

You might think that I am afraid of flying, but that is far from the truth. I just love that rush you feel when the plane gets up enough speed to take to the air. It is true that I don’t like being crammed in a too small seat, given “bits and bites” to eat and tiny glasses of coke to wash them down. I don’t think anyone likes the four hours or so in the air, but it certainly beats three days driving. Speaking of driving, the same thing happens to me when I drive.

If I lived in an earlier century, I would never know this feeling. I suppose that if I lived in a future time when they have perfected some form of instantaneous travel I wouldn’t know the feeling either. If I lived a solitary life, there is a good chance that I wouldn’t venture very far from my home. If there were no reason to travel then I wouldn’t know the feeling either. To me, the oddest thing is that I am not particularly concerned with the nervousness. There was one time that I passed out on the floor of the bathroom and came to just long enough to tell Louise not to call 911 because “I am fine!”, and promptly passed out again. I know…stupid man!

Now, after having said that, I must say that I did have a very good time in Toronto and vicinity this past week. I guess “good time” doesn’t apply when you consider that we went back because Louise’s mom passed on. It was a good funeral and I think that Lena would have loved her send off. She liked to have the family around with all sorts of busy going on at once. It wouldn’t have bothered her that some people were driven crazy trying to coordinate their lives around her funeral. In fact, I think she would have loved it.

Her kids and their significant others caught up on gossip, and more than likely gossiped about each other. We made sure that there was good food and good company. Nice to touch base with everyone, and I somehow doubt that we will all manage to get together again. The grandkids had a good time getting reacquainted. They all seem to be cut from the same bolt of cloth, being equally funny, intelligent and sarcastic. In fact, there is a very good chance they may all meet again in Hell. I am pretty sure that God doesn’t like people making fun of His priests. Nah…they all have the gift of gab and will be able to talk their way into heaven.

Louise managed to have a good visit with some girl friends from high school one night. There were other friends that we managed to visit and John and Karen put us up in wonderful fashion. I highly recommend staying with them if you ever find yourself in Toronto. I hope that we didn’t put them out too much, but I am certain that when the last hand was waved out of the window, the last kiss blown; they went home, sat together with a nice cup of Dilmah and just looked at each other. You know that look. It says “That was nice having them here…almost as nice as having them leave.” Actually, they are too nice to think that, so I have to think it for them.

We also ended the trip with a breakfast with a group of friends which although too short, managed to put the cherry on top of the trip. Maegan housed us for the remainder of our time and we even managed to go to a Second City show. It was a nice time with Maegan.

You know, I really do like to travel!

Sunday 29 April 2012

Not the Lumps of Plastic

We went out for breakfast today, or should I say we went out for brunch to the Red Lantern pub, which is just down the street from Meagan’s place. If it were any later, we would have had to call it “Brupper”.

On the way to the pub, as I was walking I saw a man with two Huskys walking towards me. I told him that he had beautiful dogs and he asked if I would like to pet them. Being a retired letter carrier, my initial reaction is to tell the guy to keep a firm hold of his dogs and just keep on marching away from me. However, not wanting to hurt his feelings I decided that I would pet the dogs and as I was doing so, I noticed that both dogs had shaved spots on their bodies. Me being me, I thought that this guy is doing some kind of surgical experiments on his dogs and since it wasn’t too long ago that I read The Island of Doctor Moreau”, this vexed me somewhat. I asked him “What happened to Doobee?” which was the second dogs name.

He told me that Doobee had colon cancer and Jules had a cancerous cyst removed from his side. WOW! What are the chances of both your dogs getting two different types of cancer? He told me that they were both doing well and hopefully they were given a few more years. I wished him well and they went on their way to find interesting smells and new places to pee. The dogs, not the guy…I hope.

I picked up a Philips brass bolt that was in the gutter. It is about an inch long and just the kind of thread that might come in useful some time. Last night on the subway coming home from the Second City show I found a small aluminum carabiner under one of the seats. I had found a large hoop earring earlier, but that would have been far too odd a keepsake even for me. These are the kind of things that I bring back from vacations, instead of little carved knick-knacks, clothing or pottery.

I will see these crappy little things in years to come and they will bring back memories of the trip probably more than anything else will. I don’t know why or when I started to do this, but it is the little bits of garbage that seems to have meaning for me. When we were in Hawaii, I picked up a white plastic lump that was on the beach and a tiny bit of driftwood. It isn’t in any special place, well, just in the top drawer of the desk in my room. I come across it every now and then when I am going through the drawers looking for things that need to be tossed out. So far the white plastic lump has made the cut.

When I was packing for the trip to Toronto, I saw the ball of blue twine that I picked up in California. It was out by the garbage cans in an alley that was on my way to Jack-in-the-Box. I stooped down, quickly coiled it and stuffed it in my pocket like it was one of the crown jewels. I felt that I was stealing something important, like anyone would care about a short length of twine. There was a hunk of wire from California, but for some reason it has failed to hold my interest. I guess it has no real practical use for me.

I suppose that when I die, whoever is cleaning out the dribs and drabs of my life won’t even give these things a second thought. They shouldn’t either, because they are really just garbage. Well, to everyone else these items are garbage, but to me these are lifemarkers that I have used to jog my memories of fun times and most of them are somewhat useful. Well, not the lumps of plastic.

Saturday 28 April 2012

More Firm Than Gentle

I’m not sure if there will even be a blog for tonight. I guess that this is what it will be, but I am getting pretty tired and the day is more than half over.

I think the plan is to attend a Blue Jays game that starts in the late afternoon. I am not a really big baseball fan, and by really big I mean someone that can actually watch a whole game on TV. I do like to watch baseball movies, like “Angels in the Outfield”, and there was “The Rookie” I think it was called, where a high school teacher becomes a pitcher for some major league team. I find I tend to cheer for the underdog and I like it even better when the game is boiled down to the interesting bits. I have a feeling that the Blue Jays have no intention of “boiling down” the game for me today.

I played softball when I was a kid. I suppose that I should say that my dad enrolled me on a baseball team each year, and each year I would let him down. I generally played left field and I think it is one of those positions that is universally given to the worst player on the team. I earned that position and consistently proved that I deserved it year after year. 

The team was sponsored by the local barbershop. Years later every time I had my hair butchered by the German barber I could look up and see myself and remember those painful days. I can remember standing in left field watching the other guys on the team toss the ball around and somehow they were having fun. It was a fucking nightmare for me! Whenever the team was out in field I would pray to God that I would be struck by lightning or swallowed by the earth in a freak earthquake. Any kind of violent death would be preferable to having someone hit the ball to me. I am sure that after the first game, all of the other coaches would tell their teams in practice that if they could hit to the left field it would pretty much guarantee a double, triple or even a homerun. 

The only thing worse than being in field was when our team would be at bat. Everyone got a turn at bat, in order of his field position. I was more than likely the only guy on the team that was hoping for three up, three down. Unfortunately that rarely happened, since the other team had someone just as shitty as I was in left field and our team took advantage of that fact. The closer I got to bat, the more nervous I became and I would hope for some thing, anything to happen that would stop the game. Eventually it would be my turn at bat and if there were two down, the rest of the team would start getting their gloves ready. I actually thought that it would save time if I carried my glove out to the plate with me, but the coach wouldn’t let me. I never even saw the three balls whiz past me!

My brother was a great player and as the pitcher he often won the game for us. I imagine that the pressure he felt to do well was worse than the pressure I had about being bad, but this is my blog, not his and I will write what I want. The good thing about the game was that it was over pretty quickly and it would be a week before the next one. Not all childhood memories are good ones.

Years later, I came home from work really drunk and Louise sent me out of the house to sober up. I walked around the neighbourhood and ended up at a schoolyard watching a kid’s baseball game. I guess that saying is true, those that can, do. Those that can’t, heckle. It turns out that parents watching their kids playing ball don’t want to listen to constructive criticism from a drunk. Who knew? I was thrown out of that baseball game and escorted off of the playground by a couple of really nice guys. Gentle but firm.

I hope that tonight I am not tossed out of the Blue Jays game, because I am pretty sure they will be more firm than gentle.

Friday 27 April 2012

Give Me A Boost

I had a dream a few weeks ago, and in it my daughter asked me if she should buy a set of jumper cables. They were on sale and it was a really great sale. I gave it some thought and told her that although it wouldn't hurt to have a set, since she didn't own a car I couldn't see why she would buy them no matter how cheap they are. She looked pretty dejected as she walked away and I felt bad that I didn't just tell her to buy the cables and keep them until she bought a car.

Yes, it was a stupid dream.

Last night I had a dream in which Louise and I were staying at this run down house in a bad part of town. I don't know why we stayed, or really what happened other than the guy with the safe that got stuck on the elevator, or the weird family that kept walking around me trying to steal things. Pretty standard dream stuff I guess. We made it through the night and when we got in the car to leave, wouldn't you know it...the damned car wouldn't start! Just then, Maegan walked up to the drivers side of the car and when I rolled the window down, she said "Don't you wish that you had told me to buy the jumper cables? I'll go around the corner and pick up a pair for FULL PRICE at Canadian Tire."

Well, at that moment I did wish I had, but how did she know; it was my dream.

Dreamland aside, I am kind of split on the merits of carrying a set of jumper cables. I just can''t remember a time that there hasn't been a set of cables in both of my cars. I also can't remember a time that I have used the cables. Not even once! I think I loaned a pair to a neighbour some years back, but it turned out that he didn't need to use them. With all of the electronics in cars today I am not even sure if it is a good idea to boost another car anyways. I would just hate to play the good samaritan and end up stuck on the side of the road in a dead car while the guy that I just gave a boost to drove off waving thanks. I have heard that happens. No, I can't quote a source.

Just about once a year I get out my cars manual and look up just how to boost a car. There is a specified way that shouldn't fry your electronics, but they still frown on the practice. The funny thing is that as I write this I can't for the life of me remember how it goes. I know that you hook up the "dead" car first and then connect the cables to the running car. On one of the cars you connect the negative to the frame and the positive to the battery, but like I say I am not sure which. I think the running one.

 In recent years, my cars have had good batteries and I tell anyone that will listen that it is best to get the battery tested and replace it if it is weak. There is nothing worse than being stuck in a dead car at the side of a road when the temperature is minus forty or so.

 However, barring that, you probably should carry a set of good booster cables in case your battery ever does die on you. Make sure that you know how to hook them up too by looking in the manual at least once a year. It would be a good idea to remember what you looked up as well. You can't rely on anyone else having cables if they are good enough to stop and I doubt they will remember how to hook them up properly.

I guess the best advice I can give is not to listen to anything I have to tell you in a dream, and if you do, you just might want to do the opposite of what I suggest.

Thursday 26 April 2012

More Time in Dreamland

Had to use the iPad agin, so no paragraphs again. I am going to have to work on that. I had another one of my infrequent dreams last night. It wasn't as weird as some of them are, but it was a little odd. We are staying at our friends (John and Karen's) home and have been treated pretty far. In the dream, we had just finished dinner and John handed us all a sheet of paper with seven four sided shapes drawn on it which were connected in a line, across the page. None of the sides were square, but were curved either inwards or outwards and where the shapes touched they would of course share that line. There was no printing or anything else for that matter on the page. John was smiling ear to ear and told us that it is kind of a riddle and we have to find the answer. He seemed to be pretty happy about the whole thing, but from that smile I was beginning to wonder if we would ever be allowed out of the house if we didn't solve the riddle. I worked with a fellow that was an associate university professor and this guy was really smart. Well, much smarter than the rest of us posties, but I guess that bar isn't set at the highest level. One monday I was talking to him and asked him how his weekend was, but unlike most people, instead of just saying OK he told me what he did. He said that he and his wife went to a party with a bunch of his friends and when they walked into the house they were given a slip of paper with the name of an eighteenth century philosopher on it and you had to act and talk like that philosopher for the evening and at the end of the night people would try to guess who you were. He had the same kind of smile that John had on his face, and "dream" me knew this might be a very long night. The thing about this guy is that he, in my opinion, was and is totally certifiable. The jurors are still out on John's sanity, but it doesn't look good. I asked John if he knew the answer and as his smile got bigger (was that even possible) and he shook his head back and forth he said "That's the beauty of this, no one knows and we'll be the first to solve it!" I thought that even though I might be the downer of the party, I should mention that isn't it possible that there just isn't a solution and it isn't even a riddle, just some guy's doodle when he was talking on the phone. John's lost his smile and his brows met in the middle, I could tell that wasn't something we should consider. I just laughed and said "Got ya! Let's get this thing solved." I don't think I am ever going to be allowed to leave. Well, of course we attempted to guess what the lines were. We got some scissors and cut out the figures and tried to arrange them into some kind of logical or illogical order. Sadly, they didn't seem to make any sense. I thought that they might be a flattened out world map without any continents, but really what is the sense of that? We spent hours trying to figure it out and although there were some pretty ingenious suggestions we just couldn't figure it out. I was beginning to wish that I got the name Baruch Spinoza (18th century philosopher) when Louise said "The only thing this looks like is a sewing pattern!" John jumped up and yelled "That's it! You got it! It is a t-shirt pattern! All of the pieces fit together and make a shirt." Louise mentioned that none of the pieces were to scale which made it really tough. John said that he had to do it this way or else it would have been too easy. We looked at John and decided that we had best humour him. I hope that tonight we can just watch TV or talk, but in the mean time, while John is at work, I am going to hide anything with a sharp edge.

Wednesday 25 April 2012


Well, the other night the Alberta Conservatives rolled to another majority government. SHIT!!

I generally fall somewhere between Liberal and the NDP in my political leanings and over the years I have had disappointment after disappointment. Oh, I have had good times as well, politically speaking of course, but ever since I have lived out west my team hasn't really had any effect on me. What I mean by that is that even when my party was in power, they would punish Alberta for not electing any Liberals and of course certainly not anyone to the left of them. I suppose that the saving grace is that it is Alberta and as a province we are quite well off thanks to the jungles and oceans on the planet some ten or twenty million years ago.

 If it weren't for the oil we would be a "have-not" province going to the federal government with hat-in-hand asking for support of some kind in order to bring the province up to a basic survival level. Well, we do have oil and for the most part, we begrudge having to support those provinces, even though at one time some of them supported us. Why don't they get some pride and do what we did? Discover oil and get rich no matter how much you mismanage the funds.

Normally, although I will bitch and complain, I don't really care who the ruling party is, because once they have filled their pockets and given plum jobs and contracts to all of their "friends", it is pretty much life as usual for me. The last couple of years however, there has been a rising star in the west. The Wild Rose Party. These are generally conservative people that don't really see eye to eye with the Conservatives. They think they are Namby-pamby. There is no reason in their mind why everything can't be user pay. If the poor really want a surgery they can just pull their socks up and make enough money, instead of hanging about all day eating candy, doing drugs and watching TV.

There was more than one person running for the party that managed to fit both feet in their mouths. One candidate mentioned that he was the best choice because he was white and would be able to represent all of the constituents and not just the people that were the same colour or racial background. I guess he meant that just so long as all of his constituents were white. I know he means well as do all politicians, but right or wrong, I feel that conservatives believe that what is good for corporate Alberta is good for Albertans as a whole.

I know, I know...there is some merit in it, but I prefer not to see it. It is just fun bashing Conservatives. They have thick skin and it doesn't bother them.

Anyways, back to the election. I found my self voting conservative for the first time in the hopes that the Wild Rose Party wouldn't get in. Thankfully, the conservative candidate in our riding was the best person for the job, but I still feel dirty.

 The same old thieving bastards won the election with a majority. Even when I win I seem to lose. The good thing about it is that their pockets are already full and all of their friends are gainfully employed in occupations where they do very little work with very high pay. Back to getting screwed over by the conservatives. I guess I have to say getting screwed over by "My Conservatives".

 I think I had better go and have a shower...I feel so dirty!

Tuesday 24 April 2012

A Reservation For Two

Another one from the iPad...sorry for not having paragraphs.  

The other day I overheard some people talking about how recent immigrants are trying to take over the government by strategic voting. I thought that all voting was strategic in the sense that you vote for the people that you think will best serve your needs and desires.  

This got me to thinking about how immigrants have been treated whenever they come to a new land. The first ones that I was aware of were the Italian immigrants when I was growing up in Toronto. I can remember people talking about how they live like animals with five families living in the same house, how the whole neighbourhood stinks when they are cooking their food. Five years later, when all five families owned their own homes (outright) and had started businesses which employed many others you didn’t hear as much complaining.  

I worked a summer job at a door manufacturing plant and the bulk of the workforce there was Italian. They were incredibly hard workers and other than the fact that I couldn’t figure out how they could speak to each other and not use English, they were pretty cool people. It was there that I learned to swear in another language. There was a second generation Italian kid about my age working there and we naturally got together on breaks and lunchtime. We talked about many things and he told me that all but $5 of his pay went to the family bank account. I told him that was bullshit and he had the right to keep his pay for himself. He understood where I was coming from, but pointed out that when he gets married, his parents will buy them a house and her parents will furnish it.


There was a time when the Irish came to North America in droves. There was difficulty getting jobs and food in Ireland and the west promised a better life. They were thought to be no good for anything but drinking and fighting, and of course the Leprechauns. Eventually, the Irish got into law enforcement (according to the TV shows) and eventually politics. More of that strategic voting I suppose. Say, wasn’t John Kennedy Irish? Today, most of the Irish people that I know are good citizens and contribute to the betterment of the country, although they still like to drink and fight. Right Linda?  

Today we have a large influx of people from the Indian sub-continent that are immigrating to our country. Their food smells different and if you are to believe the gossip they are taking over the country. Maybe so, but from where I sit, all that I see are people who are hard working and wish to make a better life for themselves and their families. Don’t we all wish for that?  

The people that complain about losing jobs and our values being changed are just wrong. Some things will change, but change comes no matter what, it is the nature of life. In a generation or two no one will be able to tell who was who and when they came to this country because like it or not there is a good chance that your kids or grandkids will be marrying “one of those Irish”! Or Indian, or Italian. Oh, and that stinky food that we complained about thirty years ago is the same food served at restaurants we line up at now.  

I wonder if it is just a coincidence that the countries I mentioned all start with the letter “I”? If not, there is a good possibility that in the future we will be able to complain about the Icelandic, Indonesian, Iranian, Iraqi and the Israelites. Maybe we will give the Israelites a pass in lieu of the past 5000 years or so. It seems that we are being alphabetical in our mistrust of immigrants.

Just a warning to all of those countries “J” through “Z”, I have my eye on you and is it possible to put in a reservation for two?

Monday 23 April 2012

How To

I am posting this with the iPad and I haven't always had a lot of luck. Maybe this time...

I first started to watch “how to” programs years and years ago. One of the first that I liked was “This Old House” with Bob Villa. I really liked Bob; he was like the neighbour that you wished you had. I don’t know how long Bob hosted the show, but somehow he was ousted as the host and I just can’t watch the show in comfort anymore. I can’t help but wonder what Bob is doing now and if his neighbours know how lucky they are.  

I still watch the show, but the projects that they take on are so far removed from anything that you or I could do it is just laughable. They always use the newest and best of everything and will rarely tell you how much the project costs to complete. I find most of the “how to” shows are a little iffey when it comes to disclosing the actual costs of the renovations. Sometimes they will give you the cost of materials (usually with a large contractor’s discount) but never will they mention the cost of labour. Labour is as we both know is more than likely the highest cost in any job.  

The other show that I used to watch but can’t get any more is “The Woodwright Shop” with Roy Underhill. The man is a God! In his half hour show he will take a piece from the trunk of a tree and turn it into some of the most amazing things. He makes furniture, boxes, toys, tools, drawers, chairs and any number of useful items. He uses tools and techniques from the 17th and 18th centuries, with little or no power, aside from the odd water wheel or springpole lathe. In just a half an hour to boot! It isn’t available on our cable station anymore, so I just have to remember what the shows were like.  

Yes, I could buy them on DVD, but the episodes are really expensive. Hey, I was just checking the price for you and I found that I will be able to watch full episodes online. There is a God in heaven, and it seems that there is one in PBS as well. Who says this blog is useless? You should check Roy out; he is funny and just incredible.  

I also watch cooking shows sometimes. I like the Jamie Oliver, Diners, Drive Ins and Dives, Sugar…oh; the list just goes on and on. I should mention Martha Stewart whom I used to watch quite often before she did her stint in prison. It is hard to find her on the tube anymore, but there are some of the recipes I learned on that show that I still use.  

What pisses me off about these cooking shows is that they always show the cook with all of these tiny dishes holding the spices and then pot after pot after pot being used to cook the dish, food spilling on the stove and floor, all sorts of plates and cutlery that is used in the prep and serving of the food. We all know that the kitchen can be a mess after you have prepared that delectable meal. They never, ever, ever will give you a tip on how to clean up easily and quickly. They must know. Most of the TV hosts have worked in restaurants all of their lives and would have to have picked up a tip or two from the dish washers. I can’t believe that the answer to the question “What is the best way to clean a kitchen?” would be “Get your assistants to do it.”  

Maybe it is. Hmmmm…I wonder if I promote Louise to assistant…    

Sunday 22 April 2012

Something Absolutely Spectacular

Do you ever get the feeling that you are being watched?

I don’t mean the kind of watched like when  you’re walking along the beach in a thong and people are starring in disbelief, kind of watching, or you managed to squeeze into that spandex exercise suit and it burst its seams on the subway kind of watching either. I mean the kind of watching that makes the hair on the back of your neck stand on end. This is the kind that makes you start looking for a cop even if you are driving while over the legal limit. Thank goodness this rarely happens.

I sometimes have used this kind of starring to my advantage. Picture this, you are in a crowded busy restaurant and the waitress is busy on the other side of the floor ignoring the people over there. How do you get her attention? Well, if you are an older man you just have to stare at her and she will eventually start to look around to see who it is that is creeping her out so much. When her eyes meet yours, you hold up your glass and tap it, telling her in the universal restaurant language “If you don’t get your ass over her with a refill, you can kiss any chance of a tip goodbye!” Of course this ploy won’t work if it happens to be senior’s day at the restaurant, because they know there isn’t a chance of a decent tip anyway.

I don’t mean the creepy kind of watching but the kind where someone is studying you. I have been having this feeling lately. Someone is out there and they are watching me. I could understand it if I were a spy or perhaps a CEO of some high tech firm that is on the cusp of a breakthrough that is destined to revolutionize voting for your favourite contestant on American Idol. I guess that J.K. Rowling went through this before she finished the Harry Potter series. It is kind of weird, but nice in a way as well, because you know that you have done or are doing something well.

I think I am being watched for what I will do in the future. I know, it sounds crazy, but it is the only rational, reasonable, realistic explanation for this feeling. I am not famous; in fact most people including my family have at times pretended that they don’t know me. My dad did this all of the time. There is little or no chance of me developing some incredible advance in …well…anything. I am a pleasant enough kind of guy, but people don’t look at you with a combination of awe and admiration just because you are a pleasant kind of guy. Right? The whole “Rock God” thing just isn’t going to happen. No, it has to be for something that I am going to do.

When you think about it, it does make sense, well, to me anyway. Suppose that you are a grad student or just some rich guy with more money than sense, living at sometime in the distant future. Wouldn’t it be cool to go back and interact with your heroes? I would love to go back about two thousand years or so and have a certain Jewish carpenter make me a stool or a table for me. “Yep!” you would say, “I beat Jesus down one dinarias and two depodius on the price of a stool and a small table! I feel kind of bad though, he didn’t have enough food left to buy dinner for his friends, so in the end I told him I would cover dinner, but it would be the last time.”

How about talking to your favourite dead actor, musician or painter. This is what is happening to me. There are people from the future standing in line at Tim’s with me and having a short, fun conversation that they can tell their unborn kids and grandkids about. There was a woman in the coffee shop today that just couldn’t take her eyes off of me. She must have been too shy to actually talk to me. There might be a time traveler’s directive, which prohibits anything, more than casual interaction. There can be no other explanation for this feeling…right?

I have no idea what it is that I am going to do, but obviously it will be something absolutely spectacular.

Saturday 21 April 2012

Where Did He Get The Bagel

Louise was out on her bike the other day, riding on the path when she came upon a guy driving his pick up. This path is strictly for bikes and pedestrians, and really pretty difficult to access in a truck, but this guy managed somehow. When Louise got up to him she said "Did you get turned around somehow?" In Louise speak, that is "Get the hell off of the bike path!"

The guy looked at her and said in his best panic/pleading voice, "Have you seen a little black dog? If you do, could you hold him for me?" With that, he drove off.

I kind of hope that he found his dog, but it has been my experience that most dogs don't just stick to the sidewalks and bike paths, they are more adventurous than that. When we first brought Buster home he took off at the first opportunity and the only way we got him back was to entice him into the car with meat. I kind of felt like a doggy pervert, "Hey there little doggy, I'll give you some meat if you get in the car." I kept gates shut and doors latched after that and kept a weather eye on him whenever there was the possibility that he might just be able to escape.

He was pretty good and never even attempted an escape or even really looked in the direction of freedom for several months after the initial escape. One day I was out clearing the snow and for some reason I needed to go into the back yard. I was pretty sure that we had broken Busters will and it was about 30 below, so I didn't even think that Buster would come outside, but he did. I had left the gate open and when I turned around I saw Buster standing in the open gate. We looked at each other for a few seconds and then I called his name. His ears pricked up, he looked me in the eye and turned around showing me his ass for a few seconds and then took off. I figured he had just called me an asshole in dog, but I wanted him back anyways.

I started to run after him, but by the time I got to the sidewalk he was no where to be found. I figured that since it had just snowed I would be able to track him by his...tracks. I don't know if everyone knows the comic strip "Family Circus", but they would often feature a strip with a dotted line that wound around the whole neighbourhood indicating where the kids went. 

That is the kind of trail that I was following. It was hopeless!

I would have to drive around like all of the losers that used to stop me on my mail route and asked if I had seen a large brown and white pitbull. "There's a pitbull loose! How did you let a pitbull get loose? Are you nuts? Where do you live?"

The guy asked if  "Would I bring him back if I found him?"

"You're nuts! I am going to call the pound; and your street doesn't get mail today!" I wasn't afraid of dogs, I just have a healthy respect for animals with sharp teeth that eat meat. I am after all made of meat.

I got in the car and drove around the block a few times, and eventually I found him eating something by the sandbox in a kids playground. I opened the door and called his name. He got up with the something in his mouth, ran to the car, jumped over me, and sat in the back seat eating a bagel. I was pretty relieved that I found Buster without too much difficulty and I probably only lost three or four years of my life from the stress. My only question was, "Where did he get the bagel?"

Louise should have told the guy in the pick up to try looking for the dog at Tim Horton's or one of the other coffee shops.

Friday 20 April 2012

How To Coast Through Life

I have to say that I love books! I like the feel of a book in my hand, the shallow “S” curves when it is lying on the table. I like the fact that I could make notations in the margins if there were something that I might need to find again. I never would make a notation in the margin of course because that would just be wrong.

I still have books that I studied in school, even though I never did learn to appreciate them. I have some books from my childhood, some of the actual books and some that I have since found and bought just because. I have books that my parents owned and some that my grandmother owned. I haven’t done more than flip through these, but those older books were made well and made to last. I have a family bible that has notations going back to the seventeen hundreds. I don’t think that it is that old, but it is twice as old as I am at least.

Books look good on shelves as well. You can tell a lot about someone from the contents of their library. When I was younger, I would read what I term to be “heavier” books, you know the kind that make you think about abstract concepts. Now, I like to read books that are “lighter” and much more entertaining. I guess you could call them fluff. I am certainly not as deep as I once was, but I am thicker. I will often just look through the books on my shelves and remember not only what they were about, but what I was about when I read them for the first time. I can remember I was reading Lord of The Rings at three in the morning when the heroes burst from Helm’s deep to make a valiant last stand, only to find that the Ents had shepherded the trees to get rid of the Orcs. I jumped up, pumped my fist in the air and cheered. It was quite moving really, and pissed my brother off.

I have a dream that someday I will own a used book/junk store where people will come and discuss books, drink tea and just have a safe warm place. There wouldn’t be any money in the venture, just happiness. I doubt that will ever happen, but the beauty of dreams is that the fulfilment of the dream can be the dream itself. The actual day to day running of a store would be far more headache than I could stand. I also have a dream that I will write a book someday. I know it won’t win any awards or probably ever be published, but it is something that has been demanding attention for years now. Maybe I am almost ready. Maybe…

Even though I love books, I think that books made of paper are dying. They are expensive to produce and not really very good for the environment. No… digital books, magazines and newspapers are the way of the future, and the future is now. I have two devices that are eReaders, a Kobo and the iPad. The Kobo is capable of holding 1000 books and with the addition of a SD card another four thousand. I don’t think the iPad will hold as many, but the reading experience is wonderful. Publishers are just beginning to find out what they can do with this new medium. Children’s books can have animation and music and books for adults can have video descriptions and even notes from the author. The possibilities are endless.

You can receive your daily newspaper online and the same goes for your favourite magazine. With the iPad, the colour is stunning and will only get better with time. The only problem is that there will be no more shelves lined with books and that wonderful smell of old paper will be gone. There will be no need for a brick and mortar library like we have now. You won’t be able to hold the actual book you had in school, you know the one. You dropped it on the floor so you could look at Cathy Arbours legs in grade nine math class. No? Well, I guess I am the only one.

Books will be around for the rest of my life, but it is a changing industry and I embrace that change. Hurricane and Tornado will be able to go through school just carrying their iPad or its equivalent. Maybe in the future, one of their treasured possessions will be an actual paper book called “The Letter Carriers Survival Guide” or “How To Coast Through Life” by Ken Harrison. Stranger things have happened…  

Thursday 19 April 2012

Today Was For Love

Today has been a long day!

It started with a phone call at 4:30 AM from Louise's sister-in-law Jennie who called to tell us that Louise's mom had just passed away. Never a good way to start the day. It isn't a good way to end the day either. Lena had just celebrated her 95th birthday when she passed, and she had lived a good long life.

She was well loved by all of her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, in-laws, friends and care givers. It is funny how you just remember the laughter and love at times like these. I suppose that later you will remember the missed opportunities, the words said in anger and all of the other "what-ifs", but for now it is just the love and laughs. She was a good woman and she made an impact on her little corner of the world and really, isn't that what we all hope for.

Right now, Louise is selecting photos and I am scanning them to put them in a slide show. She is pretty much exhausted,but she still carries on because this needs to be done. Louise needs to sleep, but that I fear is the thing that will not come easily. I will be here for her if she needs me, just as she was there for me when I needed her. That is one of the things that we do well together. One of us is strong whenever the other is weak.

Today was phone calls. The news had to be passed on, the arrangements need to be made and rather quickly. The family will gather from two different countries and at least three provinces. Today was booking flights. That needed to wait until the funeral arrangements had been made. Today was writing and checking the obituary, making sure that no one is forgotten, while being pretty sure that someone will be. Today was calling friends and making arrangements for lodging and visiting while we are in Oshawa. Today was for receiving condolences. Today was laughing, which is how I deal with this kind of thing. Today was crying. Today was hugging. But mostly, today was for love.

Wednesday 18 April 2012

It Wasn’t Heaven But It Was Pretty Close

I was in the Superstore today because I needed to pick up a few things. Fake glasses, new cape, SPF 20,000, anti kryptonite pills, a street map with all of the super villains homes and some bottled air for the bottled city of Kandor. Okay, I was just there to pick up milk, bread and some other stuff that was on the list.

I went to the produce area first and picked up some bananas and I thought that I should get some oranges because I feel a cold coming on. I walked down to the bread area and passed a rack with discounted vegetables on it. I generally walk by this rack, but today I gave it a second look. They are usually about 50% off, but they should really be sent to the compost bin. I know that they are probably quite edible and if you cut out the bruised, slimey, dented, overripe and cracked parts. I think that sometimes it isn’t just that they will nourish your body, but you have to think what kind of damage you are doing to your psyche.

I have eaten my share of food that has past its prime eating stage. I actually have some milk in the fridge right now that I have been using for the past couple of days which if I were to be honest with myself I should just pour it down the drain. That is one of the reasons I was at Superstore this morning. Anyways, I picked up some milk and the best before date was May 3rd. I almost picked the May 1st one, but I figured I get two extra days. That is fifteen days from now. How do they know it will last that long.

I don’t really understand how the “best before dates” work. Is the food good until that date if it is unopened and still factory sealed? Does it stay good until the BB date even if you opened it the first day that you got it home? Just how accurate is the BB date? I would think that they would pick a date and subtract a few days so that people like me won’t end up poisoning themselves.

It is pretty easy to tell if bread is past due, it gets stiff and develops greenish blue (aquamarine) furry spots. Sour cream tends to go greenish black and fuzzy. Cheese starts to get mould and I was wondering if when I cut said mould off; does the best before date get reset? I can’t make my mind up about mould. It is obviously a vegetable/fruit/growing thing of some sort, so I would imagine it has some nutritional value of its own. If you cook it, would it be safe to eat and a new taste sensation? What would be the Best Before date be on mould? Do you think it would start to get less mouldy as it got older? How would you go about packaging it?

I was just thinking about how long some of our food lasts. Not if you have teenagers in the house, but with normal people. How do they make it last as long as it does? I imagine a liberal dosing of chemicals and some high tech magic. Sometimes I will buy a 20 or 10 pound bag of potatoes because they are much cheaper than the five pound bag. Invariably, some of them start to sprout little plantlets and the skin softens and winkles up, much like human skin as you get older. My question is how do they keep them firm and fresh all through the winter and spring? The same question applies to apples, carrots and other root vegetables. I don’t think I want to know.

The other day, I was cleaning out the pantry and I came across a baggie that had dropped behind something. I pulled it out and it had old, broken and stale Oreo cookies and bits in it. I should have thrown it out. I really shouldn’t have given it another thought, but the baggie didn’t have a best before date on it. I got myself a glass of the milk I mentioned in paragraph three, and I sat at the table eating those old, broken, stale Oreo cookie crumbs.

It wasn’t heaven, but it was pretty close.

Tuesday 17 April 2012


Wexford Collegiate Institute.JPG
I just found out today that the high school I attended is going to have its 50th anniversary. I found out through a link on facebook, not directly from the school or even indirectly from a fellow ex-Wex student. I don’t think I will read anything into this over sight.

I have never been to a reunion, and I think it would be pretty cool. Hopefully there would be name tags with then and now photos attached, because otherwise it will just be a bunch of old farts trying to remember each others names. Well, I guess even with name tags that will pretty much be it. I think there was a twenty fifth, but I was out here and was pretty sure that the people that I wanted to see wouldn’t be attending anyways. I hope those people have mellowed towards education in the past forty or so years.

Since I attended, Wexford has become a school of the arts, sort of like the school in Fame. Well, without the “fame” I suppose. I used to do a sort of a comedy/circus geek kind of act with my then partner Ken Robison. We would dress up in stupid clothing and pretty much do stupid things on stage, it was a hoot. Perhaps because of that they decided to encourage people with some actual talent to go to the school. In a round about way I just may be responsible for any and all accolades the school has received since I left. Hopefully, when the reunion does take place there will be some killer entertainment and not a couple of geeks in weird clothes doing weird things on stage.

The reunion is scheduled for October 2015. That gives lots of advance notice for the word to be passed around. I think I can make it, but I should check my appointment book. Yep, I just happen to be free for the month. That also gives me about two and a half years to do something remarkable. I have been kind of coasting on my good looks, but if I want to impress the old gang I am going to have to do a couple of things first. One, I need to get famous in some field or profession. It should be easy enough, I learned in this high school how to work with a deadline. I wasn’t very good at it, but perhaps I have improved. Two, I will need to check out the things that are covered under Ontario’s statute of limitations. It’s been forty five years or so after all. Most of the witnesses are probably dead of at the very least, befuddled. Three, I may have to bind and gag the friends that I have kept in touch with over the years for that particular weekend. Can’t have them telling the truth now…can I?

I wonder what you do at these things. Sure, you mix and mingle, but I probably wasn’t very well liked universally. There are a couple of people I know don’t like me and I did hear from a woman a few years back who said that I had broken her heart. I never knew I was a heart breaker. I always knew that I could break wind, but that isn’t the same thing at all. Perhaps in very specific cases, I’m thinking of you Becky, and sorry! I wonder if we will have one of those crappy dances where I stand against the wall and watch the people having fun. I guess it will be great no matter what because these are the people that I can blame for who I became. Nice to put names to the phobias.

I’m kind of excited about it, but I had best get to work on that something remarkable thing before I run out of time.

Here is the facebook link to any ex-Wex that might be reading this blog.

Monday 16 April 2012


Generally, whenever Louise and I drive anywhere, I do the driving. I don’t think that I am a better driver than she is; in fact I am pretty sure that she is a better driver than I am. She actually likes to drive and she was born with a foot made of lead which allows us to get places faster than if I were to drive.

I have noticed that no matter how awful the driver, they always prefer to be the one behind the wheel. I suspect that the worse you are the more you want to drive. The beauty about driving as opposed to being a passenger is that you get to start screaming before everyone else. Well, unless you were reading the paper or texting, while searching for the beer that you just dropped on the floor.

I don’t particularly like to drive. I am just too aware of the inherent dangers of trying to control a ton of metal hurtling down the road at 110 KPH while thousands of other people that are doing the same thing. I also get distracted by the shape of clouds, people doing odd things at the side of the road, shiny objects in the gutter and sometimes I get caught up with the dials on the dashboard. We rented a car one time and I was playing with the “extras”, checking out temp, KPH/litre and the radio presets when Louise kind of screamed that we weren’t on the actual road anymore. Now, she will often say that I should pick one lane and try to stay between the lines. Good advice really.

I can remember when I turned 16 and unlike pretty much everyone else I had no desire to drive. I lived in a city with a pretty good transit system and I could go almost anywhere faster using the “Red Rocket” than if I were to drive. That, plus the fact that in North America, far more people die in cars than in buses.

I was content not to drive. My dad wasn’t though. He argued that if he had a heart attack and needed to be driven to the hospital; if I had my license I could drive him. I told him that it would be better to get an ambulance. He said that I would be able to borrow the car and go on dates. I said I didn’t have a girlfriend and it didn’t look like I would be getting one soon. He kind of shook his head and mumbled “No shit!” He said that I should get my license because it would open up more job opportunities for me. I told him that I was still in school for a few years yet and I was pretty sure that I wouldn’t want a job that I had to drive. It turns out that he was right and I was wrong about that one. Finally dad just told me I was going to get my license and that was it. Good thing we had this chat.

I won’t go into the hell of learning to drive with my dad, but if I were to start therapy I would be spending the rest of my life discussing that. The day came to take the test. I did the written part and just made the grade, I think that they were very generous in the grading because I didn’t know squat. The guy giving the road test came out and got in the car. I think my eyeballs were sweating. You had to do everything to start the car in the correct order and back out of the spot without hitting anything. I was dreading parallel parking. I was very weak on the parallel parking and they always made you parallel park. I figured that if there were indeed a God then He should help me now.

It turns out that I didn’t have to worry about the parallel parking. Just out of the mall I turned right and the guy testing me screamed and grabbed the steering wheel to prevent me from hitting that oncoming car. I was pretty sure that I had failed the test just by the way the guy looked at me. I could see the whites all around his pupils in both eyes. I think I heard God laughing. I drove pretty well after that, and even nailed the parallel parking. Not having any pressure was a good thing for me. I eventually went back and got my license and have been driving in fear ever since.

More than a few years ago now, when my son turned 16 I told him he should get his license. He told me that he wasn’t interested and I said, “What if I have a heart attack and need to get to the hospital?” Well, you know where that conversation led. He eventually moved to a city with a good transit system and didn’t need to drive. In his mid twenties he moved back and he reluctantly decided that he would have to get his license and asked if I would take him practice driving. I did, and in spite of that he got his license and is a goodish driver. Well, he is better than I am anyways. Really though…who isn’t?

Sunday 15 April 2012

I Am a Libra

I am a Libra, actually I was born on the cusp (whatever that is) and I have been told that I am a pretty typical Libra. I don’t really believe that the position of the stars can foretell my destiny. When you think of it, why would an all powerful and all knowing universe plant stars and nebula in such a position that a tiny little planet on the back edge of the bumfuck galaxy, with a self aware cancer called humans would be able to predict (kind of) their miserable little lives.

Like I say, I don’t really buy it. I do however read my horoscope on a regular basis and if what I read is to my liking it kind of makes me smile for a while. Sometimes it is just plain wrong. I have actually heard that since Pluto was demoted and is no longer a planet, the horoscope sign that we thought we were is changed. I think that I am a Virgo now. I guess I can read both and there will be double the chance that I could have a good day. For the purpose of this blog I am going to say that I am a Libra at this point in time and one of the traits we Librans have is that I have problems making decisions.

This has been a challenge for me my whole life. I think part of the issue is that I am able to view a situation and see both sides. When you look at an issue from both sides, and really see it from both sides, you know that both sides are correct. They aren’t correct for the other side, but why would they care about the other side. See my problem? I worked in a union shop for my entire working life, and I could see that the union was needed to keep the management from screwing the workers with their ridiculous demands. From the management’s point of view, they were needed to keep the union from screwing over the worker with their ridiculous demands. Life isn’t black and white; it is a grey, shady place that every now and then has a splash of colour. That is a topic for another blog.

Today I have been agonizing over whether or not I need to buy a new cell phone. I have a cell phone, but it is pretty much shit. It turns the sound off by itself, runs out of power just when it is needed and sometimes it won’t even come with me when I go out! There are a few phones that I have been keeping my eyes on at this web site. I bought one for Louise a while back and it is pretty good, at least it brought us in to the new century. I look at my crappy phone and I want a shiny new one that does more than ring, or in my case, not ring.

Part of the problem that I am having is trying to decide between hundreds of shiny new phones and the other part is that I only have three people that will actually call me. I could probably get by with four tin cans and a ball of twine. The other issue with spending $120 on a phone is this damned computer! It is on its last legs and although it will still turn on and do what it is supposed to do, there are signs that it is learning civil disobedience. It is definitely working to rule and causing me (as management) no end of grief. So, do I spend $120 on a phone that hardly gets any use and then have to spend about $500 on a new tower? Don’t I deserve it? Don’t I deserve both?

I will admit that I am pretty well covered on the computer thing. I have my iPad, the laptop and of course I can always use Louise’s computer or even her phone for that matter. I am kind of intimidated by this black tower looking at me and that tuneless little hum it constantly hums. I think I had better sleep on it, for a week or so.

You know, I got the computer on October 21 of 2007, which makes it a Libra. That’s cool! It can’t make up its mind to break down or to keep working. Maybe there is balance in the universe after all.

Saturday 14 April 2012


I have been thinking about perspective today and how it can affect the way that we view the world. I saw a view of the world from space and my God what a beautiful sight! I have seen photos that were taken by the Hubble telescope of galaxies and nebulas thousands of light years away that are simply breath taking. So much beauty, and so very far away.

I saw a sunset today that lit the sky and clouds so that everything was this amazing shade of orange. It probably means that there is a huge fire or that a volcano has erupted spewing tons of ash into the atmosphere, but from my perspective it was quite beautiful. I have seen skies that are so lovely that if they were in a painting hanging on a wall, I would swear that the artist wasn’t very good because nothing could look that good.

Most things look good from a distance; even a water purification plant looks pretty cool. I tend to look at life a little closer than that. When I am on a beach, I find myself taking a handful of sand and trying to see the different tiny things that together look like sand. Most ocean beaches are mainly made of tiny shells pieces, bits of glass and plastic and grains of what once were rocks. Some beaches are made of lava and I guess some are almost all rock. I just looked at a vial of sand from the west coast of Vancouver Island and it is made up of shells and rocks mainly.

People are much the same. Even very beautiful people tend to be less than pleasing when you break them down into their component parts. When you are talking one on one you see little skin blemishes, hair where there shouldn’t be hair, one eye lower than the other and sometimes a little mole inside the right ear. The closer you get, the harder it is to find a place to look that isn’t downright gross.

I mention this because as I was admiring myself in the mirror today, I noticed a small hair growing out of the bridge of my nose. I have never had a hair growing there before, why would my body start to grow hair on my nose now? Does it have something to do with global warming? It is only one hair, so the insulation value would be pretty limited. You know, when I think of it, my body has started to up the ante on patches of hair.

Every now and then I notice a hair growing on the outside edge of my ear. I understand that hair on the inside of the ear might have a value. It could keep out dust, fingers, birds (my ears have started to grow), and hopefully the words of any and all idiots that attempt to talk to me. My eyebrows seem to grow at an alarming rate. I can’t keep my glasses clean because of the greasy eyebrow hair rubbing against them. How do eyebrows get greasy anyways? I can remember the first time that I was at the barber and when he had pretty much finished the hair cut, he trimmed my brows. WTF? Why are these things growing? What possible genetic mutation would make this desirable?

I have lived a pretty hairless life. Sure, I have a beard, but it isn’t a really thick one that I could win competitions with. One of Maegan’s old boyfriends asked if I shaved my legs for cycling. I think Maegan still laughs at that, not me. I have so few hairs on my chest, that early on I gave them names. I have always been pretty comfortable with my hairless body. There are some extremely hairy men that just pick an arbitrary spot to start shaving. My belief is that they are closer to apes on the evolutionary ladder; I am closer to the dolphins.

When you see a particularly intriguing looking person, you just might want to stay two or three paces away to give yourself the proper perspective, or if it isn’t me, then focus on their nose.


Friday 13 April 2012

I'm Fine...ish

I woke up early today so that I could wish Louise a good day at work and wave goodbye. My plan was to go back to bed just after she left because I had too few hours of unconsciousness.

Unfortunately, by the time she left I was wide awake and the idea of going back to bed just didn’t cut it for me. I dearly wish it did, because I had one of those “almost” headaches, the ones that make themselves known, but are just waiting in the background for a good reason to get mean. I still have that headache and I am hoping that sleep tonight will send it on its way. Of course, it could be indicative of some other physical or psychological difficulty that I am having.

I decided against taking Buster for a walk this morning because the sidewalks were a mess, I had a slight headache (remember) and since we came back from California he has disgraced himself a couple of times on the dining room floor so I am a little miffed with him. I did hear the call from Princess Auto though. Not so much a call as a message transmitted through the ether, telling me to get my ass there and pronto. Well, the universe kind of screwed that message up! I didn’t see anything that I was willing to buy. There were some cool things, but most of them I either have no use for or I don’t know what they could possibly be used for. Well, so much for my getting any useful messages from the universe.

Since I was in the neighbourhood and I had a free Tim’s coffee calling to me it was a no-brainer. While I was waiting to order, this crazy woman walked up to the teller and started to cause a commotion. It seems that she found some more money and wanted them to give her a large choco-moto-vanilla-rasberry whatever. She had her medium cup that she had been drinking from and wanted them to top it up. They tried to explain that since she had already been drinking they couldn’t do it. Voices started to be raised and I thought I was in for a coffee and a show. No such luck, because just about then, her “handler” came and guided her back to the table. Things returned to normal and I returned to my coffee.

I went to check out the second hand store and then home for lunch. Louise wasn’t coming home for lunch so I made a wrap and watched some crappy TV. I needed to go to the store to pick up a lotto ticket (it must be my turn!), make an appointment with the physiotherapist and return a book to the library. I walked up to the plaza and dropped the book off and picked another up. I went to the physiotherapist and talked to the receptionist. It turns out that the first consultation is $92 and every appointment afterwards is $72. I told her that I will call back. What I really meant was that I would call back if I think having use of my left arm is worth $164 for two sessions. I am still not sure. I’m thinking, I’m thinking…

When I was walking up the sidewalk, I saw Buster in the window. Shit, I knew that I had put him in his crate, but maybe he is smarter than I thought. I opened the door and there is Louise standing in the kitchen talking on the phone saying “He just walked in, I will talk to you later!”

I asked if she took an early Friday, and she told me that she had been trying to get in touch with me since this morning and was really worried. I guess that somehow my cell was on silent and I just wasn’t around when the house phone rang. I got a little pissy that she would come home from work, but I guess from her point of view I could be dying on the floor. I told her that I had no intention of dying anytime in the near future and that I would let her know if I was considering anything that extreme. She went back to work and I was left wondering what the hell had just happened.

It is kind of nice to be loved and know that someone out there is worried about you and your ability to stay vertical. I guess from now on I will make sure that the cell is on “loud” and that I check the messages on the home phone. I have no desire to put Louise through that kind of worry again. But, there was no need to worry! I’m fine…ish.

Thursday 12 April 2012

Spring Snow

It’s snowing right now. It is April 12th and it is snowing. Yesterday it was 16ยบ and I was outside in a t-shirt. Today it is snowing! Quite a bit too!

Snow in April is pretty common in Calgary. Snow in May is pretty common too. Even though it is something that we have come to expect, it isn’t anything that we want or like. Snow in October or November is exciting, no more cutting the lawn and once the snow comes then Santa can’t be far behind. Oh, and no more gardening either. It is hibernation time.

When we get snow in April, it just means that the grass is going to get enough moisture so that it can grow strong and long. I realize that April showers bring May flowers and I am good with that. You don’t have to shovel showers. I was just out shovelling and unlike the snow we get during the winter months, this stuff is wet and heavy. You can’t push it too far and it is too heavy to lift and toss. I know that I will have to go out again tonight and shovel so that it doesn’t get so deep that I can’t move it.

I remember snow like this from when I lived in Ontario. It is a lot of fun. You can make snow men, snow angels and have snowball fights; if you get enough and you have been diligent in your prayers, then you just might have a snow day. There is nothing better than a snow day! The whole city seems to stop for the day and everything is just so very quiet. If you listen very hard, then sometimes you can hear the angels. One year I had a test that I hadn’t managed to study for and the snow day saved me from going to school and writing the test. I studied a little, but come on, it was a SNOW DAY!!!

We would go out in gangs and push peoples cars out of the snow banks to get them on their way again. You always heard rumours of kids that were given a $20 bill for pushing some guy out, but I never had that happen to me. It was just fun pushing the guy out and having him wave thanks as he drove down the road. Of course, he wasn’t a very good driver and dollars to donuts he would be in another snow bank just down the road. Why, one year we pushed a guy out four times just on Dewey Drive. What a goof! Wait a minute. If he was a goof, then what were we? I know, we were having fun.

This kind of snow killed my dad. I was grown up and living in Alberta at the time. Mom and dad lived in London Ontario where they get a pile and a half of snow each year. Mom was in the basement sewing and for some reason she had locked the doors. I guess because there was a guy with a chainsaw cutting down the maple tree in the back yard that lightning had damaged the previous fall and she didn’t trust him. Dad was out front shovelling and knocking the heavy, wet spring snow off of their bushes when a blood clot stopped his heart. The man came to the front of the house and tried to get in to call 911, but like I said, the door was locked. Mom was downstairs and getting mad because dad was out there and he had his keys. Well, by the time she came upstairs and called 911 it was too late.

They say that diabetics tend to pass quickly like that. I don’t know if it were the snow or if it was just dad’s time to go. I do know that I don’t like spring snow and I like shovelling it even less. I will shovel once more tonight and then I hope that it warms up tomorrow.

The good thing about spring snow is that it reminds me of mom and dad and how much I miss them.

Wednesday 11 April 2012

Coffee, Pills and My iPad

I received a call from my daughter this morning and she asked how I was doing. I debated telling her about my sore shoulder and generally feeling out of sorts, but I was pretty sure that it was a rhetorical question. I told her that I was fine and asked how she was doing. She said fine and then I asked her what she wanted.

Don’t get me wrong, Arwen will call just to talk and see how I am, but my “spidey” sense was tingling today. She said “What are you doing between 3:00 and 5:00PM today?”

I was pretty sure that I had left that block of time open just in case I was needed, so I told her “Nothin’” She asked if I wouldn’t mind going to her place and letting a TV repair guy in. Like I said, I didn’t have anything pressing so I got the particulars and psyched myself up for doing something in five hours. When the time came, I had taken my antihistamine pill, made a cup of coffee to take, brought my iPad to read my book and listen to music and I made sure that I would get there with about ten minutes to spare. I was as ready as ready can be.

This is the kind of thing I don’t mind doing now that I am retired. It was always a pain in the ass to take an afternoon or morning off in order to meet one of the utility companies that were coming to hook up a service. There was a time when I was still working and the cable guy needed to come and check out why our cable connection wasn’t working. I had called two days earlier when some guy that was digging a trench in the back alley cut through the cable. I was watching TV at the time and one second it was one alien killing another and the next second there was nothing but static. I suppose that it could have been part of the show, but when I looked out the window and saw the guy with the machine digging the trench in front of the cable box I was pretty sure the static wasn’t caused by aliens.

I called the cable company right away and told them that the cable was out and if they got a guy out here right away they could fix the problem because the trench is still open. The girl asked if there would be someone at home next Thursday. I said “Why?”

“Well, we need to send a technician out to assess what the problem is.”

I said “The problem is that some idiot just dug a trench in the back alley and while it was chopping up stones and roots and things it also chewed up the cable!”

“It could be a problem with the line in the house.” She said in a very sweet voice.

“It’s not in the house, the line was just cut in the alley!” I was starting to get a little angry.

“We just have to be sure. Will there be someone at home next Thursday from 12:00 to 5:00?”

“How about I give you my cell number and have the guy call me when he is leaving the place getting serviced before mine and I will meet him there.” Of course that is what I did and when I got home on Thursday at 1:15 there was a card in the mailbox saying that the cable company was there and no one was at home. FUCK!!!

The upshot was that I took the following Tuesday off and the technician determined that the cable had been cut in the alley. He ran a temporary cable across the alley which didn’t get buried for six months.

I wonder when service companies got the upper hand? I can remember that if you had a problem they would make an appointment based on when you would be home. Yes, they would work evenings and weekends, but it was their job. Sometimes jobs have to be done outside of the hours 9 to 5 and I personally don’t think that there should be extra pay for working those hours. Whatever hours you work, have good things about them and bad things. It is just work! Ahhh…well…

When I arrived at my daughters, the guy was waiting for me and just a little pissed off. So, I didn’t need the coffee, the antihistamine or the iPad. I could have used the time that I took to gather all of that stuff up though. He told me that he had a lot of calls today. I said to him “Sorry, but I’m just not used to anyone being on time.” Under my breath I said “ Go FUCK yourself asshole!”

Tuesday 10 April 2012

I Loved My Prospectors

I just heard a rather distressing commercial on the radio. A wife was asking her husband why he was taking the long way to get where they are going. He replied that it was a beautiful day and this route was much more scenic. She gave him that wife ”Really?” reply and he said that this way had fewer stop signs and he was saving his brakes. She laughed at him and said “Did you just say that out loud?” The announcer then came on and flogged some brake place. I feel sorry for the guy.

Hell, I am that guy! There have been times when I have coasted to a stop light so that I would have minimal impact on the brakes. I’ve picked routes that have fewer lights and stop signs, but normally I tell myself that even though it may be a bit slower, I like the feeling of continual movement. That’s what the guy in the commercial should have said. I had a car once that cost $100 dollars and I used snowbanks to either slow me down or bring me to a complete stop. I have taken my bike or walked instead of driving. Of course, I told myself that it was for exercise, but you and I both know the truth. I think that the emergency brake on pretty much every car that I have owned has either seized or rusted out mainly due to never being used. I just don’t park on hills.

This carries through to a lot of aspects of my life. Shoes in particular. I will walk on the grass in order to keep from wearing the soles off of the shoes prematurely. It is also much easier on the feet walking on grass as opposed to concrete. Of course the added benefit as a letter carrier is that you would save time and get home earlier. Sure, some people would be pissed off, but grass grows and most people don’t like to be complainers.

When I was a letter carrier, I would wear shoes out on a regular basis and it would get a little costly. Don’t get me wrong, the Post Office would give us $150 every six months to buy boots and gloves, we called it the “Booze and Drug allowance”. There were a fair number of people that wouldn’t spend the money on footwear, but I figured that my working life was in my feet’s hands, as it were.

For the longest time I would buy hiking boots that not only had a good positive sole, but also gave ankle support. There was a fine line between buying the best pair of boots and buying a pair that would come in on budget and last the full six months. They should last more than that if at all possible. One year, I came upon a pair of boots that was about $50 dollars over the limit. They were Prospectors and had a good positive sole, great ankle support and were made of good leather. The best part was the guarantee, which said the boots were guaranteed for as long as you owned your feet. This company didn’t count on me. I wore a pair out every couple of years, and I would send them back to the company and they would return a brand new pair of Prospectors that would carry me on my route for another couple of years.

I sent the boots back six or seven times and on the last time I was sent a pair of boots and a note. The note said that the company was leaving the country and could no longer honour the guarantee, and if I would send them $50 for this last pair everything would be cool. Send them $50? I don’t think so! I wasn’t as outraged as I could have been, because I did get to pocket about $200 bucks a year for the past 12 or so years. I figure that the Prospector shoe company and I were even.

The gloves? The first year in the post office I bought a pair of gloves, after that I would pick up gloves that people dropped in the parking lots, sidewalks and on the way to school, send them to the wash and if they made the warmth cut, they would become part of my winter attire. They didn’t match of course, but you needed a warmer glove on the carrying hand than you did on the delivering hand anyways. Sometimes one was pink and the other blue, but my hands were always warm and it didn’t cost a penny.

Life is like a carton of milk. Some people pour the last of the milk out and then either toss the carton or recycle it. I pour the last of the milk out and then stand the carton on end until the very last drop comes out. Make sure that you get every last drop out of your life.