Monday 30 March 2015

People In Paradise

You meet the nicest people in paradise.

Last night I was sitting with some others waiting for the sun to set when a guy sat next to me. I smiled, he smiled, and I stuck out my hand and said "Ken". He shook my hand and told me his name was Steve. I am not generally very good with names, but "Steve" is one of those that I never forget. Steve was my first playmate, my tormentor and my only brother. When you meet someone in paradise one of the first questions you ask is "Where are you from?”

It turns out that Steve and his wife are from Denver and they have been coming to Sugar Beach for about six years now. The winter in Denver was just as mild as the one we had in Calgary and we both agreed that although pleasant to live through it probably isn't the best thing for the planet. I mentioned that I was a retired postal worker and he told me he was looking forward to retirement. I mentioned that retirement isn't for everyone and if he happened to be one of the lucky ones with a job that made him smile and that he couldn't wait to get back to, then he may have trouble with the whole inactivity of retirement.

Steve did fall into that category, he is a scientist. In fact, he is the curator of Planetary Science with the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. We talked a little about global warming and how the scientific community made the mistake of calling it global warming and not global change which is the more accurate terminology. He is currently working on photographing the surface of Mars. Yes, that's right he is in charge of cameras on a Mars orbital vehicle that is and will continue to snap pictures of the planet to study the weather patterns. Pretty heady stuff.

He has also been involved with the Hubble telescope from its inception. He didn't go into detail, I suspect he dumbs things down for beach bums, grade school dropouts and Canadians. He took his girlfriend to the launch of the Hubble telescope and that girl is now his wife. Louise asked him how long the telescope will last and he said its mission was for ten years, but that has been passed due to repair missions and hopefully it will continue to function as long as nothing major craps out.

He talked of the museum and the innovative programs they have. The state gives a small fraction of a percent of taxes for museums and other like attractions which enables them to provide a wonderful learning tool for kids. Steve talked of a few of the programs which are designed to get people through the doors and educated about things scientific. He is a very interesting fellow and I hope that we get to talk again tonight.

These interesting people are all around, but it seems they are easier to talk to in paradise.

Take Pictures

To me, taking pictures is a way to freeze memories in time. I look at photos and can be instantly transported in time and space to when and where that picture was taken. It is magic in a way, the magic of inducing memories.

I have been going through the boxes of photos that I inherited from my mom and dad. The idea is to digitize those pictures and maybe restore them to a state before they were faded and there is no one left who remembers what they were about. Unfortunately, mom didn't write names or explanations on the backs of most of the photos, probably thinking that she would never forget those people. She probably didn't, but I may never have known them and certainly not as an adult. Consequently, unless the photo itself has some intrinsically interesting aspect I may as well just toss it.

Some of those pictures are a snapshot into my earlier family life and those memories come cascading back. Sometimes I look at the pictures and have no idea what they are about other than there is a super cute little Kenny Harrison in them. Those pictures will all be scanned and hopefully get tags written that indicate what they are about. I have a job when I return from vacation.

The reason I am talking about photos is that on vacation I like to take pictures. Most of my pictures are of flowers, landscapes, interesting patterns on the beach, sunsets, shells, stones and waves of course. I take some pictures of people but for the most part people can ruin a really fine photo. I save the pictures in a folder marked Hawaii 2015. Hopefully when I return home I will go through and mark the pictures but I just might leave them for the kids to toss when I die.

Many years ago I had a friend that went to Las Vegas and when he came back I asked to see the pictures he took because I had never been there and was interested to see what it looked like. The next day he brought in six photos of various sights and pictures of the hotel he stayed at. I looked at each one with rapt attention and told him I'd be interested in seeing all of them if he didn't mind. He told me that those pictures were all that he took. Hmmmm....

Years later when I went to Las Vegas, I filled a memory card with photos and lamented that I didn't have enough time to take even more. Each time I have gone back, I have taken hundreds of pictures. I grant you that if I were using a film camera as my buddy was, there would be far fewer pictures and probably some of the few would be under exposed, over exposed or just plain bad. Come to think of it, knowing my friend there was a better than average chance that he messed up all but six pictures.

There are picture takers in this world and there are those that rely on memories. The picture takers come in all shapes and sizes and all have different levels of commitment. One friend would never go anywhere without at least a point and shoot camera and another friend doesn't even know how the camera on her phone works. I find myself somewhere in between the two. To those who are relying on their memory, I have some bad news for you. Memory fades and unfortunately there is no equivalent to Photoshop that can bring back the colours and repair cracks and tears that time causes to your memory.

Take pictures and write on the back!

Sunday 29 March 2015


I don't know how anything gets done in this place. I wake up and need to work up to eating breakfast. Today I decided that rather than have breakfast I would take a walk down the beach and look for beach glass. Okay, beach glass was the excuse for being caressed by a tropical breeze while my toes are cooled by the ocean and my eyes treated to sea foam and footprints.

The first thing I wanted to do when I got back was to have a nap, but I first needed to get gas for the car and pick up a few things at the store. I did find some sea glass too by the way. I meant to get gas and do the shopping last night, but we ran into the "Fourth Friday Town Party".

Fourth Friday Town Party is just what it sounds like. Every fourth Friday of the month the town shuts down a large shopping centre parking lot and fills it with food trucks, a stage with live music and fifty or sixty craftsmen and women selling their wares at booths. Most of the stuff they sell is available at different shops throughout the town, but on the fourth Friday it is all in one place. We talked to a cop and he said that for the most part people behave themselves and just have a fun time. Tourists and residents alike take advantage of an excuse to listen to music and have someone else cook their meals for them.

The stage is a biggish one and there are five to ten acts that play music to entertain the masses during the evening. The ocean breeze carries the music across the area and gives the whole thing a festive feel. Of course there are plenty of seats so that you can listen to the music or just take a load off while you are eating. It is a very nice way for a town to behave.

Incidentally, in case you were wondering, there is a first, second and third Friday which are held at three other towns on the island. It is a wonderful idea! I don't know how it is funded but I suspect the crafts people and the food trucks kick in a fee for their booths and the city has to get behind it by supplying cops and shutting down the odd street. It goes a long way to further the "Aloha" spirit that pervades the island.

Speaking of "Aloha" spirit, I have yet to meet a resident of the island who hasn't been pleasant and helpful whenever I have approached them. I know I ask some dumb questions sometimes, but it seems that I haven't crossed the line into insulting or just plain stupid questions. There are some guys that spend their days hanging out at a pier just down the beach from where I'm staying and that I walk past most mornings. Back home I would probably avoid eye contact and make sure that the coins in my pocket didn't jingle as I scurried past them. Not to worry with these guys. They are quick with a "good morning" and "are you enjoying your time on the island". They are all smiles and laughter. It is possible that they hate me and my kind (haole) but they have been nothing but nice to me.

Well, it is now just past 1:00PM and I am feeling up to a swim in the ocean. Perhaps a walk on the beach as well, but I won't rule out another nap.

Friday 27 March 2015

No Talking While You Are Trying To Breathe

Louise had today off from paddling so we decided that we would try snorkelling since everyone just raves about it. I have had my doubts in the past and they are still with me in the present. We will see how things go.

Since it was a day off, we slept in and had a leisurely breakfast. We had been told that it is better to snorkel in the morning because the water is clearer, the fish are feeding and Snorkel Bob likes to make his rental money early. We actually didn't use Snorkel Bob but chose Boss Frog rentals instead. No real reason, just a whim really. We finally got on the road at 10:00 or 10:30 for the drive up to Lahina. Look at me tossing out Hawaiian names.

We found the place right away but managed to do three loops around the block before getting into their parking lot. We parked in the spot with the sign "BOSS FROG PARKING ONLY! ALL OTHERS WILL BE TOAD" I already like this place. We went in and slapped our money on the table which got us two sets of fins, prescription snorkels and a very, very minimum of instruction. I'm fine with that, I wouldn't have listened anyways. We continued up the coast to a beach that Louise had heard about. There was no free beach parking, but there was plenty of $3/half hour or $40/day parking. Not for this Canuck!

We drove down and around until we found a beach. I think it was Napali Beach but it could have been Normandy Beach for all I cared. The parking was free, there was space on the sand and a reef to snorkel to.

Things didn't start out the best when I got sand in my too tight flippers which were not comfortable from the start. I like to talk, doesn't matter who to or about what I just like to talk. You can't talk when your mouth is being used for breathing. When you try to talk, that mouth gets filled with salt water which is fine if you happen to be a fish. I finally got the hang of breathing and kicking at the same time, I wasn't good at it but I could move places. The water was murky so the pictures we took were equally murky. Oh well.

Snorkelling is a funny experience, parts of it are pretty cool and parts are terrifying. I'd be swimming along thinking "Hey, this is pretty cool!" Then, I'd suck up some salt water which is the opposite of cool. Next, I would see a fish that I had only seen in a fish tank is my dentists office which was pretty cool. Immediately after I would see those spiny urchins that you are supposed to stay away from. Why is the ocean pushing me into the Urchins??? How do you back up? HELP!!! Oh, look, pretty fish.

That was about it for snorkelling. I guess I lasted ten or twenty minutes and by then I had seen all that I wanted except my feet getting out of those flippers. I really wanted to see that! I know people who just love snorkelling and spend hours face down in the ocean marvelling at the colours and diversity of ocean life. I don't think I am one of those people.

I will try snorkelling again but I don't know when. There is obviously a small learning curve that I haven't gotten over. I still don't see me flipping in the ocean for hour after hour burt I don't have anything I want to do for hours at a time.

Maybe talking...

I'll put some pics here if I get the time, if I don't, just imagine a really good looking guy with a mask and tight fins. Pretty fish too...

Thursday 26 March 2015

Nothing To Fear

I am one of those people who believe in locks. I believe that locks keep the honest people honest and present a challenge for those of us who happen to be less than honest. I always lock my car when I park it in a lot while I go shopping. I always lock my doors both front and back at night and when we happen to be out for whatever reason. A few years ago I started to lock my gates when I noticed that someone was using my yard to cut through to the alley and did a little petty theft in the garage on the way.

I know that if my house is locked and the gates are locked then the would-be thief will just move to the next house if it is an easier target. I don't wish a break in on any of my neighbours, but better them than me.

When I was growing up, no one ever locked their doors. Well, we locked our front door which was actually on the side of the house and the back door (other side) was always left open. There weren't "latch key kids" back in those days, if you happened to get home from school and mom wasn't there we would just let ourselves in the back door. There was always a house key hidden in the garage, but I don't think it ever moved from the nail it hung on. For all I know, it just might still be there sixty years later.

Times have changed. Now, whether I am just getting older and more afraid of life or there is a real and imminent threat to my house and home, I just can't say. I do know that I have more fear than I did when I was younger. I am afraid to say anything to an angry person for fear they will go apeshit on me. I'm afraid that I will come home from vacation and someone will have violated my home. I'm afraid that my car will get broken in while I am shopping. I'm not "never-going-out-the-door" scared, but I do have concerns.

Last night at around three AM I heard a noise coming from the living area of the condo we are staying at. Our condo is on the ground floor and just three steps separate it from the communal walkway. I walked down the short hallway and stood in the dark where it met the living area. I looked and listened to see if there was anyone rummaging through our stuff. I didn't have my glasses on, they were in the living room, so I couldn't see very well. I could see that the sliding door was open and I always lock it before going to bed. The lock wouldn't keep a determined person out for more than a minute or two.

I could see the shadow of a man standing on the lanai and it appeared that he too was listening and watching to see if anyone was awake. I must have made a noise coming from the bedroom. The noise resumed so I imagined he felt that all was safe for him to continue. Should I turn on the light? Should I make some kind of noise that would let him know someone was awake and he should beat a hasty retreat?

While I was thinking about what would be the safest thing for me to do, his shadow moved. I moved and the shadow moved. I moved again and so did the burglar's shadow. Once more I moved and so did MY shadow. Well, nothing to fear at all it seems.

It turned out that I forgot to close the sliding door last night when I went to bed. The noise was a sunshade that had loosened in the wind and just needed to be tightened. My biggest problem now is that I have all of this adrenaline coursing through my body and won't be able to fall asleep until it gets back to normal levels. WOW! That was weird!

I have nothing to fear but fear itself.

Wednesday 25 March 2015

Large Waves and Murky Water

The palm trees are swaying in the breeze caused by the trade winds which we were told are stronger than normal and are wreaking havoc with the snorkeling on the south, west, east of north side of the island that we are staying at. I have no idea which way is which because on an island everywhere you look is ocean. The same ocean! In Canada if you look to the west you see the Pacific, the east has the Atlantic and up north there is the Arctic Ocean, everything is as it should be. Here the direction just doesn't matter.

Anyways, I am sitting on our lanai (porch or deck in Canadian) looking out over the small pool that's surrounded by the most magnificent flowers you would ever want to see. It is a stunningly beautiful place.

I was talking to a guy that is doing work on one of the units the other day. He is from Santa Cruz on the mainland. He and his wife moved to Florida for a couple of years, spent some time on Oahu and then ended up here on Maui. He was saying that they have the house for sale and will be leaving as soon as it sells for Santa Cruz. He is going full circle. He said that there just isn't enough work on the island to make a good living. I didn't tell him (mainly because of the hammer he had on his belt) but I find that hard to believe. I would say there is a construction boom going on here, lots of new builds and there must be an enormous amount of repair work like he is doing here. He did mention a 16 year old son and I suspect that he might be the driving force behind the move. Either the kid doesn't fit in or he fits in too well and something has to change or his life may be ruined. That is just speculation though.

Louise's paddling group went paddling out into the ocean where the snorkeling is supposed to be fantastic, but today there were high winds which caused large waves and murky water. I feel for them, but at least they had a nice paddle on the ocean.

I am bordering on the edges of sunburn. If I get too much more sun there is a good chance I will be shedding a layer or two of skin just like a snake. I have vowed to be in the ocean every day, murky or not, and that comes with the inherent danger of exposure to the sun. It is the price I have to pay for a golden glow and a chance of melanoma.

I know there are problems around the world, but I just can't seem to care even just a little bit. The news on TV doesn't interest me, I can read the paper from back home, but that is a world away from here. I did catch a news clip last night that got my attention. It seems that the beaches of Hawaii are disappearing at an alarming rate. In thirty years there is going to be a big problem for the tourist industry. That might affect Hurricane, Tornado and Tsunami in their vacation choices but I'll be dead and won't care. The beaches here have been changing on a daily basis, eroding a little bit here and building up a little bit there. I suspect it is all balanced by Mother Nature.

Like I said, there is a light breeze blowing the palm trees, the air smells faintly of flowers and the ocean. I feel warm all over, but I suspect that's just the sunburn talking. I just had a snack of Maui Chips and POG (pineapple, orange and guava) which filled an empty spot. My thoughts right now are how nice a nap would be on the lanai..............

Yesterday's Pig

Last night, Louise and I went to a Lu'au, specifically The Grand Lu'au at Honua'ula, and no matter what I might say to the contrary, if you find yourself on Maui in the future, take your future self to this Lu'au. The food was excellent and plentiful, the bar was free, the entertainment was entertaining and the people running it made you feel welcome.

I say that the people made us feel welcome with smiles and pleasant conversation. They would pose for pictures the moment you walked in and for $25 you could walk home in the end with a picture of you and a Hula dancer or a fierce warrior. I couldn't help thinking as I sat there last night enjoying the slight ocean breeze and the hum of hundreds of people that were well sated, that those original Hawaiians should have done less to welcome the first Europeans that arrived. They did make my ancestors welcome and although it is still paradise, I would have loved to see it in the pristine state.

When we first walked in we had to line up to get a wristband and be assigned a table. Louise bought the upgrade which put us in the first row of tables stage right. We then had to kill an hour or so until the lu'au opened up at 5:00PM. Killing an hour at a "guest only" resort isn't the easiest thing to do. I guess we could have wandered around until we found the bar or some place to rest our weary bones. An hour goes pretty fast when you are hungry and you can see them setting the tables and food up. Close to five we got into another line but it went pretty quickly and before we knew it they were posing us next to a Hula girl and taking our pictures ($25 US).

We were showed to our table and advised which were the best seats to pick. Just as we were about to head to the bar, a group of four came up and the one woman asked if we minded moving over one. Why? I suppose that she wanted the prime viewing seat for herself, but sadly for her she was to be disappointed. The rest of the meal and show she turned her back to us, even when we were talking to her table companions. She is missing the Aloha spirit I guess.

There were free drinks and tables full of native crafts. I suspect that a large part of them were manufactured in some third world sweat shop. They were some very neat carvings and a large assortment of jewelry to hang on the necks and wrists of lovely ladies. We took our seats and visited with the new group of four from Seattle who joined our table. Their daughter and her friend had just finished their finals at UCLA. Nice place to decompress after such hard work.

At one point, they announced that it was time to uncover the pig that had been roasting all day. I went over to get a few pictures and see the end product of a traditional pig roast.Traditionally, the pit was dug and layered with river rocks, wood and more river rocks which were heated till they were white hot. The pig was laid on top of the rocks and covered with layers of leaves and finally sand to keep the heat and steam in the pit. They use sheets now instead of leaves but the principle is the same. When they lifted the pig out, it was placed on a huge plank for all to see. It kind of looked disgusting, but that was just my take on things. Dinner was called shortly after and when I got to the pig serving station, I was amazed that they could prep it so fast. The guy said that they couldn't and what we would be eating is yesterday's pig since they had to make sure it was cooked properly and wouldn't give anyone food poisoning. Good plan!

The show started and had beautiful women and men dressed in traditional costumes doing traditional dances. I had no idea how the guys kept their
wrap up and even less idea how the girls managed to keep their coconuts in place. I did notice that coconuts are not one-size-fits-all as each of the girls had different sizes of shell as each needed. I don't think the history that they showed in song, chant and dance was entirely accurate, but it was pretty entertaining.

I do plan on doing some research on the very early history of Hawaii when I get home. I can understand why someone would want to get here knowing that the island is here, but there was a time in pre history when a group of explorers just set out into the ocean without any hope of finding land. It is entirely possible that those early explorers suffered delusions due to eating today's pig rather than wait and eat yesterday's pig.

Tuesday 24 March 2015

In Denial

I have had spots on my pictures for a long time now. I kept cleaning the lenses but the spots still remained no matter what I did. I think Shakespeare’s Lady MacBeth had the same problem. 

Lady Macbeth:
Yet here's a spot.
Hark, she speaks. I will set down what comes from her, to
satisfy my remembrance the more strongly.
Lady Macbeth:
Out, damn'd spot! out, I say!—
It is enough to drive you crazy!
Over a month ago I went online to see if there is a solution to the spot problem. Of course there is a solution to the spot problem, how much do you want to spend. The smart solution is to take your camera in to a qualified camera repair specialist and have it done professionally. The other option is to do it yourself and there is no end of helpful videos on youtube to guide your inexperienced hand. Basically, I would have to get a wand with a cleaning solution impregnated on it and use it to clean your sensor. You know the thing that pretty much everyone and their mother will tell you to stay the hell away from.
So I went to London Drugs camera department to pick up what I needed, but unfortunately, they were charging far too much for my liking. I don’t mind helping out local businesses, but I see no reason why I should do the heavy lifting. I knew that my friends on EBAY would be able to help me for considerably less than the good folks at London Drugs. I found a suitable, inscrutable company located in China that would sell me what I needed and mail it to me for under $6. Done and done!
This was back in the early days of February and I needed it to fix my camera by mid March when I plan on taking vacation pics that are spotless. I checked the shipping deadlines and they said sometime between March 3rd and March 18th the parcel would arrive. Like most companies they were just covering their butts and giving a generous buffer for themselves. I have waited and waited and waited and waited. Today was the 18th and thankfully it came today. Now I can clean the sensor so that I can take great pictures of palm trees and waves. There is the possibility that I will destroy my camera and end up with a very small flower pot.
Well, I did the deed and having taken a couple of pictures it just looks like I may have gotten rid of the spots. I suppose it is possible that I have simply moved them to another location in the camera and will rue the day I decided that “…any moron can clean his camera!”

With any luck I will post a few pictures on this blog during the next couple of weeks from our time in paradise. If you notice a couple of dark spots in the tropical sky at two and three o’clock, keep it to yourself because I will be in denial.

Sunday 22 March 2015

Whales and Crabs

There is a daily tradition at the Kihei Kai Resort. Every night at around six the residents meander towards the grass area just in front of the beach and arrange the chairs in a straight line facing the ocean. One might think it is a group of foolish people sending a challenge to Poseidon, but they would be wrong. We gather to watch the sun set over the ocean and if we are lucky, to see a whale or two frolicking out just on the horizon.

We all compare our days and use others experiences to plan what we might do in the next few days to keep paradise interesting. We are all after all in the same boat, thousands of miles from the rest of the world with a literal ocean between us and them. The sun slowly lowers itself just over the point and a blood red line of light streaks across the ocean. It is pretty magical.

Last night, our first for watching the ocean, we were introduced and greeted by the "old timers". There was talk about the weather "back home" and not a small amount of laughter. It is a fun time. Someone pointed out a whale, but like most of the times I didn't really see anything but it is just easier to say I did rather than have them continue to point at the ocean and say "There! Just left of the boat out there! No! My left, not yours."

"You’re left and mine are the same."

"So you see it?"

"Not really, but I believe that you believe that you can see it."

"Just to the left of the boat!"

"My left or yours?"


"Oh there it is...nice." I never saw it, but I'm happy for him that he saw it.

On the beach there were a couple of guys arranging cone shaped nets and attaching empty plastic pop bottles to the nets. They then took the nets about twenty feet into the ocean and set them there. I couldn't figure out why the nets and bottles didn't just wash into shore, but they didn't. Must have been some fisherman magic. I got tired talking about which left was left and went to find out what the guys were doing.

I asked the one guy what kind of fish he was fishing for and he looked at me and said "Crabs".

"Really? How big are we talking here? Eating big or stay out of the ocean big?"

He just laughed and said they were pretty small, just about two inches around, but they didn't need much cleaning and were pretty sweet. When I asked him how long it took, he held up a beer and said "We start with two beers, and if there is nothing in the net we have another beer. After six beers, we just wander off and forget about the nets."

When I stopped laughing, I wished him and his buddy well and went back to where the sun set watchers were putting away the chairs and I said a silent goodbye to our first full day in paradise.

Another Day In Paradise

Today was one of those days that took all of the energy from you. Even though all you want to do is fall asleep, you still have to get the boys home and unpack from the weeks vacation before you can rest. Tomorrow is a work day and after work there won't be time for a meal because you are the coach of the little league team and it is an early game.

Sometimes the customers are nice and a pleasure to serve. Sometimes they are the devil incarnate and there is nothing you can do to make them happy. You doubt they have ever had a happy moment in their miserable lives. Your day didn't start off very well either with an argument about something stupid that made you cry. Both of you should have known better, you do know better and it will be a long day of worry, fearing that that stupid argument will continue tonight. You hope not...

You know that you should have gone to class and not skipped out with Jeremy, but he can be pretty persuasive. Maybe you will be able to do a make up test if the teacher buys that you were sick and not going downtown to score. There just hasn't been a lot around lately and with the way school has been going, you need to forget shit for a while.

I don't know why I like to have coffee every day, I just do. My buddy and I don't have anything new to tell each other and just rehash all of the old stories and complaints. It takes a big hunk out of my day, but really I'm retired and my day is just a big hunk of nothing to do anyways. I should be able to waste my time if I want to...shouldn't I?

He's the little brother, so why should I have to look after him? I never get to do the things I want to do and it's his fault! I was busy playing on the iPad, it's not my fault he got hurt. Mom says he will be alright in a week or two and when I gave him a hug this afternoon, he hugged me back. I am sorry he got hurt and I really like him...

Every day unfolds as it should. Every life is lived as it should be. There is happiness, joy, anger, frustration, love, hate, ambivalence, ignorance and just existence. So ends another day in paradise.

Saturday 21 March 2015

Fair Winds and Kind Words

Well I wasn't going to write a blog tonight because of the miserable day of travel that we had. Not miserable in the sense the original Hawaiians felt after months of paddling, foul water and starvation. Nor the miserable my ancestors felt after spending months or years on a sailing ship eating salt cod and rancid beef. I guess miserable is kind of subjective.

I like to complain and what better place to put my bitterness than Air Canada and United Air. Fly the friendly skies my ass! However, I am in Hawaii and I have complained about the heat already. It will be months before I start whining about how hot it is back home. I guess any change is good change.

One of the first things we did is to walk down to the ocean and feel the warm, salt waves lap up against my ankles while strange stars twinkled overhead. It is truly amazing! What a difference a day makes eh?

I heat the bed calling my name. Even I know that beds don't talk, but I am so friggin tired I'm having auditory halucinations.

Goodnight from paradise, may the waves lull you to sleep and bring dreams of fair winds and kind words.

Thursday 19 March 2015

An Airport or Paradise

This is the day before we go on holiday. I am kind of excited/scared/concerned about the trip. You see, I don’t travel well, kind of like a racehorse a delicate flower a monkey or a banana. That’s it, I am a human banana. I start off looking a little green and after a while I am looking like a seasoned traveller (yellow) and by the end of the trip I am kind of brown and wrinkled. I am still the same inside more or less.

There is any number of things that need doing today. I have to pack. Yes, I know what you are thinking, “Why would anyone wait to the last day to pack?” Well, the same reason I waited till the last day to study for my grade 10 math final. I thought I had plenty of time so there was no urgency. Packing is easy, some shorts, a t-shirt or two, a bag of electronics and cables, my iPad and an ereader some personal hygiene items and what else….oh yeah, Louise. Well, I don’t pack Louise, but I do need to remember to bring her, she is my rock.

Drop the dog off with the kids. Hopefully Buster won’t cause them too much trouble this time. I understand that he sometimes marks his territory. I will explain to him that he is just a visitor and the “territory” actually belongs to Lola. I am embarrassed when he does that kind of thing, he is good at home. Thanks in advance for looking after him.

I also need to hit the library, get my hair cut and buy a lotto ticket. Did I mention I have to set the timers on the lights, take out the garbage and anything that might just start to smell while we are gone? The same reason we are dropping Buster off incidentally. Busy…busy…busy!

Wish me luck and the next post will be either from an airport or paradise.

Wednesday 18 March 2015

Air Canada

I am sitting here on hold with Air Canada customer service. If ever there was a misnomer, this would be it. I have been waiting "just a moment" for twenty five minutes now and things don't seem to be progressing at all. I knew this going in, but I was hopeful. I suppose it is like being a Maple Leaf fan just before every game.

We know better than to fly Air Canada, but they offered the best connections at the time and to tell the truth an Air Canada flight has an infinitesimally better service once you are on the plane. Well, I hope that nothing has changed. The "best connections" have changed twice since booking and now who knows what we could have gotten.

This recording on the phone keeps going on and on about how good Air Canada is and how its customers are the most satisfied flyers on this or any other planet. I'd pay good money if this son of a bitch would shut his mouth. It is possible that I am having my mind erased thru some kind of hypnosis and when I finally get a "service representative" I'll stammer and stumble over my words eventually telling them what a wonderful airline Air Canada is and how I am more satisfied with them than any other airline on this planet or any other.

I know that Air Canada is a terrible airline and the only reason it is still in business is because the government supports it financially and politically. They must have pictures of the Prime Minister while he was joining the "mile high club" with a goat or chicken.

It's now about forty minutes and still not even a hint that I will be talking with a human in the foreseeable future. Since I'll never be able to talk to one of their representatives, maybe you can help me. The first two legs of our flight we were able to pre select our seats, but the third and longest leg is run by United Airlines and we can't pick our seats until we get to the airport. We had kind of hoped to sit together. United is possibly the only airline worse than Air Canada in this world or any other.

I'm going to kill this guy if he keeps talking!!!!

I'm going to kill myself if I don't get to talk to a human!

I wonder how long the battery on my phone will last?

I wonder if this will be worth the effort?'re right; I should just hang up now and not waste another second.

Okay, ten more minutes and then I'm going to bed. Wait! He just said an agent will be with me shortly. That's the thirteenth time, isn't thirteen lucky? it, just let me go............

Tuesday 17 March 2015

The Money Is Mine

Just about a month ago, a buddy of mine sent me an email asking if I had heard about this , and if there was anything to it. The basis of this is that the makers of those intelligent chips that make our computers, TV’s, printers and almost every other wired object in our homes and businesses were the subject of price fixing. Someone took it upon themselves to file a class action lawsuit and lo and behold, they won. They won to the tune of millions and millions of dollars!

Needless to say, I told my buddy that it was/is probably a scam and no one is going to send you money just because you tell them you bought a computer in the past. How could you prove it? Most of us don’t keep our receipes for that long and those of us who do, probably can’t find them. It turns out that you don’t need to prove you bought a computer to receive the base reward of $20; they will take your word for it.

Today, I went online and filled in the information and at some time in the future I will expect to see a cheque in the mail for the money that was fleeced from me by those evil computer companies. It gives you an idea of how all invasive these computer chips are when the assumption is that everyone has bought at least one item in the past decade or so. I am sure I’ve bought many more than one and if I were at all inclined I could possibly find some receipes to prove it. Hell, I’ll be thrilled just to get $20.

I am not surprised that the chip makers got together and set the price of their product artificially high, I just thought that was the way business worked. Supply and demand. Perhaps this is just the thin edge of the wedge and all of the other businesses will have to prove that their products actually cost what they say they cost. I remember hearing that the price of clothing (jeans in particular) doubles every time they change hands. The manufacturer charges a wholesaler $5, the wholesaler charges the distributor $10, the distributor charges the parent company $20, the parent company charges the retailer $40 and the retailer charges the consumer $80. The way I figure it, if I bought one pair of jeans every year since I was fifteen, the manufacturers owe me at least $3500. That’s just the lower half of my body.

God, I wonder if we could sue the oil companies. Those bastards would owe us millions. Gas for our cars, buses, transport trucks and oil to heat our homes and businesses, the added cost to the food we bought and let’s not forget my jeans. Those chip manufacturers might even be able to get some of their lawsuit money back. Next, we should go after the friggin’ banks. Charging us a service charge to hold our money that is making them money. Charging interest on interest. They shouldn’t be sued, they should be castrated and have their testicles fed to the pigs while they watch.

Yes, I think The Money Is Mine might just be a first step on the road to sanity, but for now I will be happy to get my twenty bucks.

Monday 16 March 2015


Tornado and his mom made a surprise visit to us this morning. The visit was more driven by an immediate need for a bathroom than love of grandparents, but hey, I’ll take anything I can get.

While Arwen and Louise talked and tea’d, Tornado and I went down to the workroom to see what kind of trouble we could get up to. The initial intention was to bust out the saw and cut some big pieces of wood until they became small pieces of wood. Somewhere between the first landing and the basement it was decided that drilling would be more fun. I’m good with almost anything, so I just went with the flow. I have a Yankee Drill that I have written about before and it is the least scary drill you would ever want to meet. I think that’s why it is Tornados favourite.
I set up the wood and the drill while Tornado went and got a milk crate to stand on. For some reason, drilling just wasn’t as interesting today as it has been in the past. This stuff happens when you are four and faced with a workbench of interesting things. I remembered that I had a few rolls of caps that I picked up at a second hand store for occasions such as this. Who doesn’t like caps? They are tiny explosions that you can control which come with sparks and smoke. Awesome!
The caps were a big hit of course as I knew they would be. I don’t know anyone that doesn’t like them. I am sure there are some people in the world who avoid caps, but they are most certainly in the minority and most probably very miserable people.
 Image result for cap guns
I don’t have a cap gun anymore, but I can remember the joy we had as kids fighting off Indians, rustlers and bank robbers. We spent a lot of time shooting each other as well and we got pretty good at fake dying. What a fantastic time to be a kid! Of course there would be times when your buddies had to stay inside or go somewhere with their parents and your older brother wanted nothing to do with you. That’s when I learned that a rock could replace a gun. Yes, it wasn’t as elegant as the cap gun, but sometimes clumsy and random is just what you need.

Springtime in southern Ontario is a hectic mess of blooming flowers, mating birds, budding trees and the greening of grass. There is also an abundance of old newspaper that has somehow survived the snow, wind and cold of winter. What it can’t survive is little boys and girls with magnifying lenses. It is too early to burn ants, but you can burn your name onto those old newspapers. If you are lucky, you will find a roll or two of caps in that light spring jacket that you haven’t worn all winter. If you are really lucky, you will find a few rolls of caps in the hand-me-down jacket you inherited from your brother. I didn’t know anything about laser beams back then, but I did know that if you had a steady hand and a roll of caps strung out between two stones, you could focus that hot beam of light and explode the caps one at a time. Oh joy!!!!
Fifty five years have passed and I still remember the fun I used to have with caps, thanks in part to Tornado. Well, spring is just around the corner, I have a few boxes of caps and a magnifying glass for Tornado, Hurricane and myself.


Sunday 15 March 2015


It looks like we might just be back into winter for a while. The snow is coming down and it is settling on the roofs of the homes across the street. The roads are just glistening with moisture and the grass is collecting its fair share of the white stuff.

I don’t mind. When I was delivering mail, as soon as March came we knew that spring would follow closely behind. Sure March and April are traditionally our snowiest months, but the deep cold of winter has passed with January and February. Whatever might fall and accumulate won’t stay around very long and the farmers will be thrilled to get the extra moisture. Everything is good.

It doesn’t hurt that this time next week I will be sitting on a warm, sunny, Maui beach trying to fend off the late afternoon snoozes. Louise and I will be trying to decide if we want to have a quick supper at the condo and then watch the whales as the sun sets over the ocean. The other option is to watch the sunset and then get dressed up and go out to one of the many wonderful places there are to eat in paradise. Getting dressed up in Hawaii just means that we will shower the ocean off us, wash our hair and put on clean shorts and a t-shirt. Decisions…decisions…decisions.

Until then I welcome some snow, it will make leaving so much sweeter. Tomorrow is Louise’s first day of retirement and it will be nice for her to be able to sleep in and avoid the snowy, morning commute. My big plan for tomorrow is to pick up a couple of shirts, some socks and a new belt to take with me to paradise.
I can’t remember the last time I bought a belt. I know it was several inches and a decade or two ago. I have been comfortable just wearing my old belts and using the ones that were supplied by the Post Office. I still have a few of those, but it is time for a change. I think I will go with a dark brown leather belt. The light brown looks pretty good and will go well with my eyes. Most people don’t generally look at my belt and then at my face, but I should make an effort for those that do. There was a belt that was half leather and half cloth which was pretty nice. A couple of the belts were made of a stretch webbing which might come in handy if I continue to grow. Decisions…decisions…decisions.

Libras don’t make decisions easily, which is why it has been decades since my last belt purchase. Maybe I should put this off till I am in Hawaii. Mind you, the Canadian dollar is worth about 75¢ US so perhaps I’ll just wait till I return. I remember that Jethro from “The Beverly Hillbillies” used a length of rope to hold his pants in place and it was a good look. It might work as long as Louise doesn’t notice.

Tell you what. If I can get to the store through the snow tomorrow I will buy a belt.


Saturday 14 March 2015

Animal Swearing

I was just walking back from the grocery store along a tree lined section of the street when a large apple dropped to the ground right beside me. Another foot to the left and I would have been apple sauced. I kept walking for a few paces and then I stopped. That couldn’t be an apple tree that close to the road or I would have been squishing my way through rotten apples. I walked back; I saw it wasn’t an apple tree at all. Some squirrel must have hauled the apple up the tree, found a comfortable spot and started to eat just as I came by and startled it. Poor bugger dropped his supper.

I wonder what a squirrel says or does when he drops an apple that he has hauled up the tree. I’m guessing he would say something like “Awwww NUTS!!!” Perhaps he would say “Wouldn’t that just frost your nuts?” There would be the old stand by, “Fucking apple!” They aren’t that much different than you or I if we had just dropped our lunch from a ten story balcony. I remember dropping a near full beer from a balcony once. I watched it fall as if in slow motion until there was a foamy smash. It was pretty cool, but it wasn’t an apple, I wasn’t a squirrel and I was pretty drunk.

You ever wonder what other animals would say to you if they could talk. How about a horse when you tell the girl you are dating that “Of curse I have ridden a horse before!” The minute I walked up to that horse, he looked me in the eye and I could sense him saying “HORSE SHIT!” Maybe he thought that I had road apples for brains, I sure did by the end of the day. I did learn that you can’t fake anything that takes some skill.

The animal kingdom for the most part has a pretty rough time of it, being so far down the food chain. I often wondered what a chicken thinks when after leaving the nest for just a few minutes returns and finds her eggs gone. They may not dwell too long on it, but it has to be just a little confusing. Eventually they must figure out that the nice lady that feeds them is actually a chicknapper. BITCH! Even with a very small brain, the chicken vows that the next time she sees the farmer’s wife she’ll tell her to go “Cluck” herself.

I know that when I am walking with Buster he will sometime pick up a smell and you can tell he is thinking “What’s this shit? Whoever dropped this one isn’t eating a very well balanced diet.” Every now and then, Buster will pick up a mouldy bun with some greenish meat and you can tell he thinks he has just scored big time. Then I make him drop the bun. He looks at me like I’d look at a giant that took my next meal away from me. I’d want to tear out his throat but reality and good sense dictates discretion.

Perhaps he gets even in a different way. Maybe he spared a squirrel and talked it into dropping an apple on my head when I was walking back from the grocery store. I kind of wish I could speak and understand squirrel because I am pretty sure I would have heard “SHIT! I missed. Sorry Buster.”