Sunday 31 May 2015


I have been thinking of mortality this weekend, not my own…well, not really. Maybe just a little bit. I have been wondering more about when and how I or you begin to think of our own mortality and why.

When any of us are young, we don’t think that our lives will ever end. We don’t think there is even a possibility of our lives ending. We just live every day and during that day we laugh, cry, eat, play, drink, learn, sleep and then repeat those several times over. Our concern is totally in the now and tomorrow is just something that adults talk about. When something happens that is different than our normal routine we revert to one of the seven things we do so very well.

We age just a little and the need to plan becomes more important. It is a rare teacher that will go for the “I live in the moment and the homework just isn’t in the moment stuff.” We need to plan our play a little better because it is always much more fun to play with someone else. We learn a little about mortality if a pet fish or fido happens to pass on. We learn about cause and effect when we find an ant hill on a sunny day when we are holding a magnifying lens. Sometimes, we lose a grand parent. I don’t think we can grasp mortality at a young age; they just aren’t around any more, maybe on a vacation.

A little older and we lose a good friend to some senseless accident or an even more senseless disease. We band together and share our grief with others which somehow makes it better and worse at the same time. The memories stay with us for the rest of our lives and even when that friend is a faded memory, the grief is still a very real feeling, unaffected by the passage of time.

Older still and we lose a parent. A very sizeable chunk of your life is taken away. All of the childhood memories, the lessons, spankings, laughter, road trips, and family get togethers. Christmas and birthdays will no longer have the anchor of that missing parent. This is the time when you realize that perhaps you just may pass away some day.

Friends start to get old and sick, some pass from their illnesses and their mortality and yours become a part of the whole experience of life. The sadness that once accompanied a death is greeted with a resignation of the inevitability of this being a part of life. You have your own aches and pains and you know that at some point you too will get ill. It is part of being a mortal being.

What happens at the end? That is one question that you have to answer for yourself. We are all just time travellers and like all journeys this one has to end. Some journeys are longer, some are more exciting, some make a big splash and some barely a ripple.

All are the same in the end and if we are lucky we exit accompanied by the love of those whose lives we touched.

Saturday 30 May 2015

A Guy Has To Eat

I live in a province that has issued a province wide fire ban. That means no open fires at all, anywhere, “that means you!” and be careful with that ATV. God help you if you toss a lit cigarette out the window when you are driving. If you are stupid enough to have a fire in the city, you have to keep it small, away from anything flammable and be able to extinguish it at a moments notice.


I am sitting here looking out the window at the rain dripping off of the leaves of our birch tree. It is pooling on the roads and there are birds washing themselves in the puddles. It’s about time too; those birds were getting pretty ripe. I guess it has been raining for about four hours now and hopefully it will continue all night. That should make the firefighters and farmers in this area pretty happy. Unfortunately, I suspect that the rain is contained around this area and it is still tinder dry in other parts of the province where 41 fires are burning approximately 43,000 hectares. Hopefully this rain will move to where it is most needed in the coming days.

There was this guy I went to school with that I asked if he had a summer job. He said that he was going to catch a flight out to northern BC and fight fires for the summer at $18/hr. That was real good money back then. “How do you get a job like that?” I said. He told me that he doesn’t have a job yet, but he will just hang around a town up there and before too long there will be an out of control fire and they will need people to fight it. I wondered how dangerous the job was and he told me not at all. They drop your team and some shovels at some remote location by helicopter and you are supposed to make a fire break. The reality is that there is no way you can do that job without a couple of weeks and a backhoe.

“Well, what do you do all day?”

He smiled one of those Cheshire Cat smiles, “Well, usually we are dropped half way up a mountain and it has a really good view of the fire off in the distance. We smoke weed all day and watch the smoke blow around in the wind. Most of the time we can’t even smell the smoke, they don’t let untrained fighters any where near the actual fire.” He told me that a lot of the fires are started by humans that need work for the summer, probably some of the guys he was working with.

Well, so much for my faith in the human race. I guess a guy has to eat. 

Thursday 28 May 2015


There are a couple of things that I noticed today. They aren’t linked in any way, so bear with me.
 Image result for arbour day
When Arwen was in Grade 2 or 3 she brought home a tiny pine tree for Arbour Day. The idea is the students plant the tree and watch it grow into a large tree as they grow into adulthood. I suspect that taking care of a tree would show maturity and be a learning experience for the students. Trees are also good for the environment giving birds and tree rats a place to live while converting carbon dioxide into oxygen. I’m not actually sure that coniferous trees do that, but really, who cares. We planted it in the back garden and it didn’t do too well, it didn’t die, it should have, but it didn’t. The next spring I moved it to a sheltered location beside the front door where it did equally poorly. At some point I transplanted it to the middle of the front lawn where kids could step on it, dogs could piss on it and I just might run it over with the mower. It thrived!

Tonight I had to cut yet another row of branches from this thirty foot pine tree that blocks the view of the street and is a pain in the ass whenever I cut the lawn. I should have run it over with the mower that second year, frickin’ tree! I was cutting the large branches so that they would fit into the garbage bin when I caught the smell of pine. No surprise of course since I was cutting up a pine tree. The odd thing is the memories that smell brought into my mind. It took me back through countless Christmases, the joy and love shared throughout the years with all of those who have loved me and whom I have loved. It also reminded me of every time I found myself in the mountains, forest or park. So many good times. Christmas and camping, what wonderful memories.
 Image result for christmasImage result for pine woods

I was picking up a few things at the grocery store this afternoon when I walked past the candy bar display. I used to love candy bars but lately I have to pass most of the time. Mainly because they aren’t very good for me and partly because I can’t believe that they are over a dollar each when not on sale. I used to pay 10¢ when I had the 10¢ of course. My favourites have always been made with milk chocolate. My wife and many others like that dark chocolate, but there is something seriously wrong with people who like dark chocolate. It isn’t that they are evil…well…maybe they are.
 Image result for mars bar
I used to love Mars bars until they switched from cane sugar to beet sugar in the manufacturing process to save money. I also loved Jersey Milk bars for the sheer bliss of sweet, smooth milk chocolate. Over the years however, I have consistently and continuously loved Caramilk bars. Soft caramel surrounded with milk chocolate! It is like eating a tiny piece of heaven.
Image result for caramilk bar
I couldn’t resist buying one tonight. My stomach had been upset all day and didn’t I deserve a treat? You bet your ass I did! I sat in the car and went to open the pack when I noticed some odd writing on the back. It said “RESEALABLE”. WTF? Who just eats one square of heaven and then seals it back up? Why would anyone do that? That just shows how sick and twisted our society has become. One square! Why not eat just one potato chip? If I lived in the USA I would say that it’s un-American.

I tested the pack and sure enough it does reseal and I think I know why. When you have finished the bar and a few days later you need a pick me up then you can unseal that wrapper and smell a little bit of heaven. It isn’t at all like eating the chocolate, but it will do until you can get to the store.

Wednesday 27 May 2015

My Precious

Do you think with all of the people living on this planet there is still a possibility to find treasure?
Mankind has been looking for treasure of one kind or another for thousands of years. Sometimes people get lucky and find treasure. Sometimes people find others who have treasure and take it from them by force. Some people marry into treasure. Sometimes the guy that finds the treasure hides it and then either dies or is killed without telling anyone where he hid it. That causes a lot of other people to search for “The Lost Treasure of….” Lately, there are people who write some computer code and get more treasure than they know what to do with. There are hundreds of millions of treasure seekers that would rather buy a ticket on a treasure than to actually go out and find one. I am one of those last guys.
 Image result for lotto win
Well, until today. Today I was walking the dog and found a huge, uncut diamond just lying on the ground by the side of the road. It measures about two and a half inches by one and a quarter inches by five eights of an inch. Buster didn’t even bother to sniff it, while I scooped it up and dropped it in my pocket. I felt as I would imagine Bilbo Baggins felt when his hand closed on that ring lost in the dark, under the mountain. Hopefully I won’t be bothered by Trolls, Orcs, Wargs, Elves, Wizards or Dragons.

I am sure that there will be some nay sayers out in pixel land who will tell me it’s just a piece of glass. They would be wrong. It’s is just as unlikely that a big piece of glass would be lying in my path as a diamond, so why not think it’s a diamond. I’m keeping my uncut diamond and if ever there is a rainy day I will find someone who wants to buy into a dream. Maybe I will drop it some where that a treasure seeker will stumble across it.

While I was walking and after I had pocketed the diamond, I began to wonder who thought to polish gems and give them facets. I would imagine that someone was sharpening a spear or a sword and wondered if it would be possible to sharpen a gem stone. He (or she) found that gems could indeed be polished and looked great on the hilt of his sword. The local baron probably thought so too when he took the sword from our stone polisher. That gave him an idea. He could make beautiful weapons for other people and they would die proudly wielding them on a battle field while he sat safely in his little shop polishing stones.
I will carry this gem around with me for the next few days to see if it has the power to attract treasure. The Lotto is at fifty million and Hurricane and Tornado have been digging in the back yard. Perhaps they uncovered the Lost Dutchman’s Mine. Anything can happen when you have imagination and a large, uncut diamond.
 Image result for smeagol

My precious…..

Tuesday 26 May 2015


Here we are well into spring, fast approaching summer and I have yet to do any significant work on my bicycle.

Partly that’s because it hasn’t needed any work to speak of and partly because I just haven’t ridden very much this season. The times that I have been riding have been short…ish and I haven’t worried too much about how everything was working. I have been more concerned with how my overweight and under exercised body was functioning. The solution for one is to do more of the other I am pretty sure.

The last ride I was on I noticed that my left pedal could use some more grease and perhaps a bearing or two. I was right on both counts. Bearings tend to disappear with alarming frequency and I am pretty sure there is an underlying issue that I have yet to address. On that last ride I also noted that every now and then a gear would skip. I took a look at the chain and sure enough there were a couple of links that were very stiff. I tried to loosen them, but nothing seemed to work and on closer inspection, two of the links were bent a little. Links are pretty little so that even a small dent causes a big problem.

No problem I thought, I always keep a couple of spare chains around just in case. Guess what? No chains! What? Oh yeah… I have a tendency to give them away whenever someone starts to talk about replacing their chain. I don’t mind being chain generous, but I keep forgetting to top up my supply. Well, I will pick up a chain or two the next time I am at MEC. Maybe I will order a couple from China if they are cheap enough.

I keep old chains around for times just like tonight so that I can swap out a few links. I pulled out five or six old chains and several short pieces of chain that were hiding in my bike tool drawer. Son-of-a-bitch, none of them were the same kind. I tried to mix and match, but they just didn’t fit properly. Damn!

I guess I will be going down to MEC sooner rather than later. I put the old chain back on and lubed the hell out of it, hoping that it will repair itself. That’s kind of like hearing an odd noise coming from the engine of your car and turning up the volume of the radio to fix it. Sometime you can just ignore these things and sometimes you end up stranded many miles from home with a broken down vehicle and a two or three hour walk pushing your bike. Yes, it has happened to me.

I plan on going for a ride tomorrow and hopefully all will be well. If not, I hope that Louise will answer the phone and come to pick me up. Perhaps I will have a couple of hours to think about timely bicycle repair and that generosity can sometimes come and bite you on the ass.

Monday 25 May 2015

An Empty Belly

Can there be anything more welcoming than the smell of fresh baked bread? I missed out of living in a bread baking household by one or two generations. By the time I came along, bread was delivered door to door or widely and cheaply available in grocery stores. Mom didn’t have the time to make bread, clean the house and put in eight hours a day working for wages. We had store bought bread.

I suspect that my mom and dad both grew up eating home made bread, simply because it was cheaper to make your own. Their parents lived through the great depression and those people knew how to stretch a dollar. Fresh baked bread was an advertising slogan, not a reality for me. Whenever I was lucky enough to have fresh bread, it was a treat to be remembered.

Louise will always make a special Easter Bread every year. It is sweet bread and I look forward to the house smelling delectable a day or two before Easter each year. It tastes so good that it rarely lasts much past our big family meal. The kids who pass on taking home a couple of pounds of turkey or ham (bastards), are more than willing to take a slice or two of Mom’s bread (bastards). I can’t blame them, but I really do.

A number of years ago we bought a bread making machine because we had heard great things about them. The stories were true and for the most part bread machine bread was just delicious. Not as good as Louise’s Easter bread, but good just the same. Too good in fact, because we (read “me”) could go through a loaf of that bread in a day and I have the stomach to prove it. The machine will mostly sit in the basement but on rare occasions when the mood strikes, I will bring it up and two hours later I will be having a steaming piece of bread slathered in butter.

Two or three weeks ago I decided that I would try to make bread the old fashioned way. I would use a recipe, loaf pans, quality ingredients and our oven. It turns out that bread made that way was quite tasty and still managed to fill the house with a wonderful smell. It is also much cheaper to make your own bread than buy it. I can make about 16-20 loaves for less than ten dollars.

There is a down side to making bread this way. It is labour and time intensive. It’s not so much labour, because the actual time involved in mixing and kneading couldn’t be more than a half hour, but in the waiting time. Close to four hours is needed from start to finish. You can see why busy moms would prefer to just pick up a loaf at the store on the way home from work. Retired guys can just plan their day around bread baking. It gives a sense of accomplishment without actually having to do too much.

I will continue to bake bread for the near future, just as long as I am having fun doing it.

You should give it a go if you have a few hours to kill and an empty belly to fill.

Sunday 24 May 2015


A week or two ago, I wrote a blog about a couple of bird houses that I built and painted. There was really nothing special about them and due to my procrastination I figured that it would be next year before a bird would even look at the houses. Any self respecting bird couple would have already found a home and begun “nesting”.

To amuse myself, I made up little FOR RENT signs which I hung on the perch of each house. Over the past couple of weeks I would look out the front window and the kitchen window and get a quiet smile when I saw those little signs on the empty bird houses that were swaying in the breeze.

Today when I looked out the front window I saw the head of a bird. It could have been a tiny owl or a really tiny eagle, but I suspect it was a sparrow of some kind. I tried to figure out what kind, but to tell you the truth; all birds look pretty much the same to me, feathers, beak, little black eyes, a tail made of longer feathers and creepy little three toed feet with claws on the end. Yes, some are big and some are little, some sing and some just stare at you asking the same question over and over again.

Eagles, hawks and owls are majestic, but probably not if you are a mouse of a ground squirrel. Ducks and geese are interesting to watch and will let you feed them. I might add that they are pretty tasty when properly cooked as well. It’s the littler birds that confuse me. They fly well, and seem to shit more than they eat, but that is about it for them. They don’t really do anything other than sing a little and from time to time take up residence in one of my bird houses.

So, I was surprised to see the bird sticking his beak out from inside the bird house. He (she?) seemed a little big, so I watched just to make sure it was able to make it out the opening I cut. It wouldn’t do to have a dead bird in one of my rental units. Nothing turns prospective renters off faster than a rotting corpse. I did think of the Monty Python sketch and I would have taken more than a few pics with the dead bird. Sadly, it was/is alive and can come and go at will. Maybe the next house I make the will have a door that irises (?) closed when some one enters.

The funny thing was that the FOR RENT sign had fallen off at some point. I went out and hooked it back on to the perch just because I liked the look of it. You know that age has crept up on you when tiny bird house signs make your day. I looked out about ten minutes later and the sign was gone from the house and laying on the ground. I guess the bird can read and doesn’t want to take the chance I might rent the place to a more appropriate tenant.

I have just the one house left out back, but with the downturn in the oil industry, I seriously doubt that I will find a renter. Perhaps some down and out roustabout will want to down size.

Here’s hoping!