Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Enjoy Your Cat Videos

I find I get disappointed when I do something and no one notices. It kind of makes you wonder if at certain times you become invisible to all those around you. It is possible I suppose, but probably unlikely.

I suspect it is just that I don’t get the reaction I am hoping for. For instance, when I “share” a joke or video on facebook I am just amazed when others don’t re-share it or even “like” it. I understand that not everyone has my rarefied sense of humour, but those who choose to be my friends should at least find it mildly amusing. Why can’t everyone be perfect just like me?

Yesterday I found a youtube video that showed how to make a bent wood ring and I thought I would give it a go. Most of the time these videos underplay the complexity of the project and what I end up with is more often than not, nothing like what is in the video. I’m okay with that because I assume that the person doing the video has years of expertise and certain basic skills developed over a lifetime that I may or may not have. They assume a level of skill that I don’t have and probably will never have because I am just not that interested.

I guess I had the basic skills and enough interest that I was able to more or less duplicate the rings made in the video. Yea me! I haven’t taken the rings to the finished level of the video, but that is because I lack the interest in finishing once I have constructed the item. Not the guy in the videos fault. I think the rings (I made two) turned out pretty good for a first attempt and I am considering making more with different woods and using wood dyes to get some interesting effects. It is an easy project that you can finish in a short period of time once you have the wood bent.
I don’t know what I expected when posting a photo of the rings on facebook. There were some polite, half hearted comments, but… I thought I would have gotten comments about where the video is, or what kind of wood, was it hard or why do you waste your time on crap like that. I thought that is what I would answer. I didn’t expect anyone to ask if I could make a ring for them because I wouldn’t, but it would have vindicated that the rings are pretty cool.

I am going to believe the reason there are few comments is because most of my facebook friends don’t appreciate the beauty of the technique. It isn’t just drilled or turned on a lathe because the ring would have flaws and quite probably break shortly after wearing a couple of times. The wood was heated and bent, just like snowshoe frames are and rolled and glued around a last that I turned on the lathe to match my ring size. Then there was the sanding of course, to bring it to the correct width and get it smooth enough and shiny enough to look good. The ring is very strong and if you don’t put too much pressure on it (I did) it won’t crack.

Well, it was fun to make anyways and I have learned to live with disappointment.

Enjoy your cat videos.

Monday, 29 June 2015

You Can’t Believe Daniel Boone

The other day I saw a woman crossing the parking lot with her recent purchase of a six pack of beer. A few things were obvious about this woman. She wasn’t a very serious drinker or if she was she had fallen on hard times and would have to make her six pack last. She had more years behind her than she had in front of her and those behind years were none too kind to her. She had a horrible sense of style. This is coming from someone with no sense of style. She was wearing pink flip-flops, faded leg tattoos, far too short shorts; a low cut t-shirt and a faded brown leather jacket with fringe down each sleeve.
 Image result for leather fringe jacket
I see people like this all day, every day and rarely do I even pay any attention to them. I don’t care what people wear as a general rule because they just might start to look at me with a critical eye to my wardrobe. I sure don’t want to be the subject of some overly critical blogger. However, this woman was wearing a fringe jacket!

I have always liked the look of fringe on clothing, the way it mimics every arm or body movement. When I was a teenager, fringe was very big fashion accessory for anyone purporting to be a hippie. It was a big deal for wanna be hippies like me, but I just couldn’t afford a leather fringed jacket. I couldn’t even afford a shirt with fringe, although to tell the truth they even looked stupid to me back then.
I did have pair of cut off jean shorts that I allowed to developed long and almost cool fringe. Well, until one wash day that mom decided to put a hem on my shorts. I couldn’t look cool with hemmed shorts! Mom must have had a hard time containing her laughter as I ranted about my ex-fringed shorts. I made her promise that the next pair of jeans she cut off for me (next year) she wouldn’t hem when they became ratty looking. By the next year there were more pressing issues to worry about than frayed shorts, with my brother leaving home and that pesky grade ten report card of mine. We weren’t allowed to wear shorts in summer school.

Earlier in my life I was a big fan of Daniel Boone who as we all know wore a fringed deer skin jacket while he was cavorting about the Kentucky backwoods “killin’ bars”. I found out that the original reason to wear fringe was not for style but to direct the rain away from your body. It seems that rain would run off of the jacket and down the fringe, dripping harmlessly on the ground. The fringe would act like a series of wicks allowing the clothing to dry quickly.
You know, I have believed this for years, but just now after writing it down I am going to call bullshit. Leather doesn’t dry quickly and no amount of fringe is going to speed it up. Those pioneers and mountain men would have been better off wearing cotton or wool.

It’s a fine state of affairs when you can’t believe Daniel Boone.

Sunday, 28 June 2015

The Snoring Will Keep You Out

Last Friday the Supreme Court of the United States held that same sex marriage is a right throughout the US.
 Image result for supreme court gay marriage
I think that’s wonderful. I know that there has been persecution and humiliation for as long as I have been alive and long before that. The church has been against gay marriage for generations and for most of those generations the state has followed the church’s lead.

I don’t understand what the problem was, and I still don’t. I suppose there has been a fear that openly gay people will force themselves on children and other non-gay adults turning them gay in the process. I guess it is kind of like a virulent virus or Vampirism in the eyes of the church. Lord knows that the church’s celibacy policy has never caused any problems that couldn’t be ignored, or swept under the rug. Of course the politicians do what they think the majority of their electorate wants. Well, what they wanted ten or twenty years ago. Thankfully, the majority of political leaders have seen which way the electoral wind is blowing and are firmly and completely behind the gay rights movement. For now.

The WWW has been inundated with praise for the Supreme Court and facebook has an app that lets you superimposed rainbows over pretty much any photo that has been posted for the past week. Everyone “Likes” this decision and indicate their commitment by clicking the “like” button below numerous posts. Well, not the Baptist pastor that has threatened to set himself on fire if the decision isn’t reversed. Most people I know are supportive of his decision and willing to bring smore’s to the party.

Personally, I haven’t changed any pictures to be rainbow hued and probably won’t unless I run for office somewhere. I think I have liked the odd posting if it were funny, cute or could get me in trouble from those that think my not going rainbow is an indication that I am anti-gay. I’m not anti-gay any more than I am anti-heterosexual. I do think that there are married people who should never have gotten married and certain couples would be better off being singles. However, we are all entitled to make our own mistakes and pathetically cling to a failed relationship in spite of good sense.

I don’t understand two men wanting to be in a sexual relationship, but why not? I don’t understand two women wanting to be in a sexual relationship although as a heterosexual male (marginally) that is more interesting, but why not? I don’t understand why anyone in their right mind (male or female) would find me attractive, but I understand some do. Well, I hope some do.

I’d go out with myself. Does the Supreme Court decision support self love?

I do support love in all its manifestations. I don’t care who you are or what you have done in this life; you do deserve to be loved and to love. It matters not one whit what I think or what anyone else thinks, I will stay out of your bedroom if you stay out of mine. Well, the snoring will probably keep you out anyways.

Rainbow Love …ken…

Image result for rainbow

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Ready For Summer

Fans set up                                                      

Air conditioner installed                                    

Iced treats                                                       

Cool Drinks                                                     

Nothing to do                                                  

Wish I had a cottage                                        

Glad I don’t work in construction                     

Glad I don’t work at all                                    

Projects to do                                                  

Kiddie pool in reserve                                                                          

Well, I guess I am ready for summer. Tomorrow they say it should reach 30°C.


Friday, 26 June 2015

That’s Something

This was supposed to be last night's blog, but I was sidetracked in the garage testing out a design for a book holder. You will be pleased to know that the design seems to have worked just fine. Whether I do one with scroll work remains to be seen. Cheers!

I know I have written about this before, but I can’t remember how long ago and I am sure that what I write today will be much different than what was written before. I would be very surprised if I happened to agree with myself and in fact it would be a pleasant surprise.

I like the early mornings. The world seems fresh and full of possibilities. Of course one of those possibilities is to go back to sleep or to have a nap at some future point during the day. I like naps too.

I don’t like early mornings so much that I have ever willingly greeted the sun as it woke up, but those times were pretty cool. While we were vacationing on Maui, a couple of the paddlers went to watch the sun rise from the rim of an extinct volcano. Yes, I thought the same thing you are thinking. “What a great idea, I should do that!” However, to be able to do that the ladies had to wake at 2:30 or 3:00 AM and drive and hour or so to the parking lot half way up the mountain. The real keeners then walked the rest of the way to the volcano’s rim and greeted the sun as it rose above the ocean. All very picturesque I am sure.
What really happens is that you stumble out of the warm car into the very cold, very dark parking lot where you and a few hundred others shuffle, shivering in the dark up the trail. I think you can see the ocean and the sun just fine from the parking lot, but if you have gone to the trouble to get there then you may as well go all the way. The up side of course is that after you have greeted the sun you have a whole day in the warmth of Hawaii once you get off of the freezing mountain. Plus, all of the breakfast places will just be opening up and you will have no trouble finding a table. Oh, there is always a nap as a possibility for later in the day.

I am not competitive enough to want to be the first one up, but early enough to be one of the first few thousand is good enough for me. If you have anywhere to travel, the roads are pretty much empty and if you are travelling in a westerly direction you won’t be blinded by the early morning sun.

For most of my working life I was an early riser, half the year I would get up in the dark and the other half the sun and I would start our days approximately at the same time. One of the advantages of rising early is that you don’t have to talk to anyone until your brain unfogs a little. There is no need to think about anything other than coffee or tea? By the time you have to interact with people you are alert and focused which amazes those who are still sweeping the cobwebs from their minds.
 Image result for tea
Years ago, Louise and I went on a retreat with a lot of other young people (mid-twenties). In the morning, we woke with the sun because we had a full day of activities planned and were looking forward to getting at it. When we went to the kitchen, one of the older women (mid-forties) had been up, gone for a walk, picked berries, came back and made blueberry syrup for twenty or so of us to have on the pancakes she made us for breakfast. I was impressed! Louise tells me that it was Saskatoon Berries, not blueberries. Who remembers that shit?
 Image result for pancakes and blueberry syrup
I can’t say that I have ever shown that kind of initiative, but I will often be on my second or third cup of tea when people start to wake up. That’s something…

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Use a Snow Toilet

I was talking to a friend the other day and for some reason, the subject of winter came up in conversation. We are just a day or two into summer so I have forgotten about winter almost entirely. I am not alone in doing this; you just have to watch the six o’clock news the night of the first snowfall. Chaos!

I got to thinking about winter and how it will be different this year. For as far back as I can remember, I have taken vacation at or around Christmas time. It is a wonderful time to have time off of work because there is just so much to do what with shopping, wrapping, decorating the house, baking, watching Christmas movies, painting the window and looking after grandkids so that parents can confirm with Santa just what gifts he should bring. Each one of those activities is or can be time consuming so work just seems to get in the way. Also, since holidays at the Post Office are picked according to seniority, Christmas was the only time I could get off when the kids would be home for the first twenty years or so that I worked there. Even when I could get summer holidays, I had become so used to winter vacation that I kept picking December.

This year it is going to be different. Louise retired this year and will be around during the busiest time of year. Now, she will either be a huge help (probably) or a huge distraction (also probably). I look forward to finding out. At the very least, I won’t have to hear about how stupid the drivers in Calgary are whenever there is the hint of a snowfall.

I also was thinking about the fun times I have had in the winter. Every now and then I would go snowshoeing and with any luck we will start again this coming winter. The winters lately have been very dry and we would have to drive into the mountains to find enough snow to make it worth our while. In the past I have tried to make an igloo, but the snow for the most part isn’t of the right consistency or deep enough. It needs to be dry; wind blown and packed solid enough so that those blocks can be cut with a snow saw. I made a snow saw about twenty or twenty five years ago and have yet to give it a try. It has been partly due to sheer laziness and partly because of the snow conditions. Maybe this year I will be able to make one with the grandkids.
I have made a quinzhee a few times and all times it has been successful. A quinzhee is made by shovelling the snow into a large pile and waiting about an hour for it to “set”. I don’t know what that means either, but if you don’t wait, the snow won’t hold together enough for you to hollow it out. Oh, the next step is to hollow the large pile out, making an area inside that is large enough to sit up in and stretch out, but not large enough to dance in. You leave the walls and roof eight to ten inches thick, just so that you can see light through the snow. Make sure to poke a few holes in the walls and roof so that you will be able to breathe. Inside, once the doorway is sealed, the temperature will be well above freezing and ice will form on the inside walls making the quinzhee even stronger.
 Image result for quinzheeImage result for quinzhee
I had a friend who would make a quinzhee up in the mountains with some buddies and they would use it all winter long when they went on cross-country skiing weekends. Yes, I thought he was crazy too.

I have read about igloos and quinzhees in magazines about how they can save peoples lives that are stranded in an inhospitable winter wilderness. They would of course, but I found that building these things takes so much work that by the time it is complete, you are sweating so bad that hypothermia would take you down if you weren’t very careful. I’ve always build mine where there is a building with central heating and toilet facilities within shouting distance. I’ve never had the desire to build or use a snow toilet.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015


Dreams can be odd things that can befuddle you for the rest of the day.

I was going for breakfast at Costco with my friend and his wife. He parked the car and we got out and walked across the parking lot with hundreds of others that were hopefully going in to shop and not for breakfast. When we walked through the doors, I stopped to hang my coat on one of the hooks that were there. When I turned back my friend and his wife had disappeared in the crowd. I started after them at a brisk pace, but realized that I had left my phone and wallet in my coat so I ran back to the entrance. No surprise I guess, but the coat was missing along with my wallet and phone.

I wasn’t too worried; I would just get my buddy to pay for breakfast when I found him. Pretty soon the crowd thinned and I found myself walking along a dirt trail. It was still Costco, but it seems they had done some reno since the last time I was here. I had to cross small streams and bend low to get through short tunnels and at the end of one of these tunnels was a smallish cliff. There were a couple of ladders going down, but they seemed to be pretty loosely attached at the top.

I started to climb down and just then two kids came out of the tunnel, a boy and a girl, both under ten. They were crying about having lost track of their father. Right at this moment, they looked an awful lot like Hansel and Gretel from the fairy tale. I told them that their father was probably in the store looking for them and if they followed me I should be able to get them back to the store proper. Gretel was the oldest and she took the other ladder, having no trouble at all climbing down. I had to help Hansel because he had no idea how a ladder worked, trying to climb down with his back to the ladder. I told him that he would have to turn around, but he just smiled and slid down the ladder into me.

Of course I couldn’t hold on with fat little Hansel’s weight added to mine and we fell off the ladder. Lucky for Hansel he managed to land on me. Gretel skipped up, grabbed Hansel’s hand and they both took off without even a thank you. I hope the witch cooks the little bastards!

I lay there in a mud puddle doing a checklist to make sure there were no broken bones and took the time to mull over my options. When I got up there was a short, three hundred pound guy standing there with a two day growth of beard, a cigar sticking out of his mouth, red and white striped leotards, a tutu, green top and an elf hat on top of his head. He had a handful of large candy canes and said to me “Hey bud, hold these for me will ya? Peter Pan and the two Tinkerbells got in a twist.” He shoved a hairy hand down the front of the tutu and stirred things up a little.

While I was holding the candy canes and the elf was adjusting Peter Pan, I asked him how I could get to the store. He pulled out his hand, grabbed the candy canes and pointed down the trail. “Just keep on that way and turn right at the candy cottage, ya can’t miss it. Wanna candy cane?”

“Thanks for the offer, but I am meeting a friend for breakfast and he’s buying.” The short, fat guy nodded knowingly and climbed up the ladder like a monkey.

I followed the trail and soon saw a cottage, there was smoke coming out of the chimney and muffled screams which made me smile. Karma! I finally got to the store and decided that I wasn’t hungry any more and would just go home, have a shower and watch some TV.

Monday, 22 June 2015

Pineridge Pete

I like to putter around the house and sometimes I putter around in the yard and frequently I will putter in the garage. If you don’t know what I mean by “putter” then join the club because I would be hard pressed to explain what I do when I putter. Things get done. Not the things that really need attention, but interesting things.

Sometimes when I am in the garage I will work with both the man door and the garage door open so that the garage will cool down and the dust that I create will hopefully blow out one of the doors and eventually become a part of our environment. Mostly though, the dust just seems to hang around the garage and will eventually settle on one or both of the cars. It settles on anything else that isn’t moving as well, and disturbingly, it seems to settle on me as well. I like to think that the dust settles because I am at “ground zero” when it comes to manufacturing dust. The truth might be that I am moving almost as little as the vehicles. So what?

When I am cleaning this gizmo, sharpening that blade, sanding a whatzis I am not limited to working at the workbench. I will wander around the garage wondering just where I had put that pot pick-r-upper that I haven’t seen in sixteen years. If the big door is open I will wander out into the alley just to see if any of the neighbours happen to be out side of their garage looking up and down the alley. Generally, the alley is pretty quiet. The odd time I will see a wild rabbit sitting in the middle of the alley wondering what he will do next. What he generally does next is to stiffen up, look in the direction of some unheard sound and then scamper off into the nearest backyard.

Every now and then I will hear a car coming down the alley and I wander to the door to wave at my neighbours. I more often than not don’t know them from Adam, but it is the neighbourly thing to do. I wave at them and smile and they wave back at me with a smile. The husband is asking the wife if she knew that guy and she just shakes her head “No, but it’s the neighbourly thing to do”.  Sometimes a truck or a car will slowly pass by and the guy inside just looks at me without smiling and I make sure to get his license plate number. He looked like he was casing the garage for a late night break in. I have so many plate numbers scattered around the garage that even if I were broken into I wouldn’t remember which numbers were recent and which ones were twenty years old. I need to get a system!

When the weather turns cooler or wetter, I will keep the garage door shut and the weather outside. This of course hinders my friendly waves and keeping a lookout for possible house burglars. It also makes it tough to monitor the comings and going of my immediate neighbours. Lucky for me there is a 3/8 inch hole about two feet up from the ground in the middle of the garage door. When I hear something suspicious in the alley, I just wander over to the hole and by moving my eye back and forth I can get a 150° view of whatever happens to be going on just outside the door.

This has suited me fine for years, but I am getting older and crouching down to spy on the neighbours isn’t as easy as it once was. Yesterday I decided to do something about it. I drilled another hole at eye level so that I no longer have to crouch down. Pretty smart of me eh? Sure I could have done it twenty years ago, but I didn’t want to seem nosy. In order to conceal the hole I made a little wooden plate, painted it the colour of the door and fixed it so that I could swing it out of the way when I need to peak outside. Louise says that now I need a secret password for those that want to come in.

No, it isn’t creepy at all! It would be creepy if it were in a public place where people actually go, but almost no one is ever in the back alley except for the odd appearance of “Pineridge Pete” the rabbit.

Sunday, 21 June 2015

If I Were a Worm

I live in a province that is water poor. Oh, we have rivers that criss cross the province east to west and north to south. The mountains dole out run off streams that originate high up where there is always snow to melt. Our water just isn’t where we want it to be, in the farmers fields.

This winter was a pretty dry one, with little snow cover. That little snow cover means that there is not much ground water in the fields. Our spring has been dry as well and the farmers are getting nervous. We have already had a fire ban in the province which is almost unheard of in the springtime. The rain we do get seems to be west of the city where it is mostly ranch land and the poor grain farmers east of us are wondering if they should start to think about ploughing the crop under this year. Crazy times.

It isn’t all bleak yet. There is still time for rain to fall and for the crops to grow tall and healthy. It is a waiting game. This last week or two, we have had a goodly amount of rain. I don’t know if it is enough rain or if it is raining where it is needed, but we have had rain here. My lawn has never looked so healthy and green. Most of the time my lawn is brown with a greenish tinge to it. I suppose that I could spread fertilizer, water it, and kill the weeds, but that only leads to having to cut it more often. Why should I work to make more work for myself, it just doesn’t make sense. This year, the lawn makes me look like I have a green thumb.

There are down sides to having rain of course, my car always looks dirty. Well, it is dirty. I can’t empty the rain barrel fast enough and I worry that the overflow is just being wasted. I have had to clean out the gutters already because the storms knock leaves off of the trees and the leaves fall on the roof and the rain washes the leaves into the gutters which then clog up the down spout causing a mini flood just under the downspout which causes me to go out in the rain (getting soaked) to clear the blockage. I kind of miss the brown grass.

One thing that I remember from growing up in Toronto is the smell after the rain. Not the smell during the rain which is clean and wet, but the smell after the rain stops falling and the worms start to die. I understand that being underground during a rain storm can cause some serious flooding problems for the worms. They are right to make their way to the surface so that they don’t drown. If they would just stay in the grass, I think they would be alright, wet, but alright. Instead, for a reason only known by them, the worms continue to crawl until they are either on the sidewalk, in a puddle or in a ditch at the side of the road.

If they crawl onto the sidewalk, they either get crushed by pedestrians or become easy pickings for the birds shortly after the rain stops. If they somehow manage to avoid the pedestrians and the birds, the sun comes out and for some reason they are unable to crawl back to the earth and are baked dry on the cement sidewalks. Those that choose to seek shelter from the rain in puddles have a different fate. No bird in his right mind would eat a worm that had been soaking in a puddle for hours and days. Birds aren’t smart, hence the term “birdbrain”, but they know enough to stay away from swollen, bloated, wet worms. The best these worms can hope for is to start to rot and make the whole city smell of rotting worms.

I think if I were a worm, and I could choose which kind of worm I could be, I would be a tape worm, living in some beings digestive tract and hopefully causing them great distress. Yeah, that would be the life…

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Happy Fathers Day 2.0

I first wrote this on June 19, 2011 and had forgotten about it until some random person in another part of the world stumbled upon it. I thought that since Father’s Day is fast approaching I would just do a re-issue. Partly because what was written still mirrors my beliefs (mostly) and also because I am lazy and won’t have to write a blog tonight. I have been thinking about dad lately and how nice it is not to have to pick out a card or buy a present that he doesn’t need. It’s tough to be a son. Perhaps there should be a Sons Day. The Hallmark Card Company would be thrilled, because if there were a Son’s Day then it would follow that a Daughter’s Day couldn’t be far off.

I love my kids and I know that my dad loved his kids. I would say that my grandfather loved his kids, but I have a feeling that he was something of a bastard. Great granddad probably loved his kids though…probably.

So, to the dad’s out there and all of those wishing their dads a Happy Father’s Day, I wish you a good day and give your dad what he really wants. Don’t piss him off or embarrass him. Oh yeah, cut the lawn once in a while without being told to…

Happy Fathers Day

Well, I guess today should be about Father’s day. I am not really a big fan of Father’s Day, but I can appreciate the kids (really “the wife”) want to show just how they feel about dear old dad. Personally I think it is just an attempt at a cash grab from the card companies. I am sure that the restaurants love it (dad pays) and electronic, sports and tool stores (dad eventually pays), but does dad? Mother’s day is a different kettle of fish because she is always the “go to” guy and much more nurturing. Rarely do you hear a mom say “Don’t be such a poof, shake it off!” Dad’s are the heavies, “Just wait till your father gets home!” Poor dad gets home and is expected to be angry about something that happened in the morning. Quite possibly dad had taught little Johnny to pee against the tree in the first place.

For me I would just as soon be left alone for the day. Instead it’s go to the zoo or play catch or take everyone on a drive to the country. We all know how much fun driving with the family for extended periods can be. Oh, and when you are on your back under a car with all sorts of oily grit dripping in your eye and someone asks if you want to play catch, the only right answer is “uhhhh…sure…in a minute OK?” Sometimes it never happens.

You know, I don’t remember all of the good times I had with the kids, but I sure remember when I let them down. I still worry about those times. I was too hard on them, trying to instil what right and wrong was. Now I see that in some ways I deprived my children some of the fun in being a kid. I would have liked to take them to amazing places and done incredible things with them, but I didn’t. I was busy and didn’t have a lot of money left over from the essentials. Whenever we did get ahead it would be eaten up pretty quickly by the unexpected things. I gave of my time in scouts, soccer, band parents and trying to be there for important school events. I guess I tried to be a good dad, but it is one of those things that are hard to quantify.

The children have turned out to be impressive adults that I can honestly say I am proud of. Not all the time of course, but by and large I would like to count them as my friends. That isn’t possible though. We are friendly and have laughs together but I don’t think we will ever be just friends. Too much history I guess. When you have punished someone that didn’t deserve the punishment or when they lied to you for no good reason, it is difficult to forget. There is the generational gap as well. Just as my mom and dad never really “got” the Beatles I just don’t “get” rap and hip hop. Some humour is that way too. My parents didn’t get Saturday Night Live and for the life of me I can’t get “Borat”. My problem I know.

I often think that I would have loved to know my dad before he had us kids. The eighteen year old guy that became a bomber pilot during WWII was shot down over Germany and spent the next three years in a German prisoner of war camp. I didn’t say that he became a great pilot. He had a great sense of humour and judging by what people said to me when he died he was well loved. Happy Father’s Day dad!

I think that young men change when they take on the mantle of fatherhood, just as surely as young women change when they become mothers. For men I think that the knowledge that they need to provide for this family for the next thirty years is quite a weight to carry. That at least is the way that it has been.

Today times they are a changing, and it takes two to support a family and the stereotypical roles are merging into one. Parent! Maybe in the future there will just be Parent Day, but until then I would like to thank those that wished me a Happy Fathers Day and I will try my best not to let you down in the future.

Friday, 19 June 2015

Warm, Fuzzy

Let’s see…how to start?

I once dated this girl that was several levels of intellect above me. I know what you are thinking, “Gee, that isn’t too hard to believe, in fact I would be surprised if there was anyone less intelligent than you.” You might be right, but I am attracted to women who are smarter than I am. “Gee, that isn’t too hard to believe; in fact I would be surprised if there was anyone less intelligent than you.” Okay, I get the joke.

So this girl was a voracious reader, burning through at least two paperbacks a day and retaining a large portion of everything she read. I lost track of her (she came to her senses), but I would imagine she has made a mark on the world in some way. I always envied her reading ability. I was no slouch, but she was just amazing. I imagine that by now she has read every book ever printed.

Enough about her, she doesn’t want anything to do with me and I should respect her wishes. I started to enjoy reading in Mrs. Cunningham’s grade six class. I read before, but for some reason I discovered all of the new worlds that were available to me in grade six. I just love to read, sometimes getting lost in a story for days. There was a time when I would go without eating and without sleep until I finished a particularly good book. Now I may go without sleep but I rarely will go without eating. The book can wait while I have a sandwich.

I keep hearing people talk about how books printed on paper are so much better than the electronic books that Kindle, Kobo, and iPads give us. They say that ebooks will never replace the printed book; people like to hold a book in their hands, feeling the texture of the paper and the weight of the book itself. They say that there is nothing like walking into a particularly good book store and spending hours just browsing up and down the stacks. To have several shelves of your favourite books in your home says a lot about you. The first thing I do when I am in someone’s home is to look at the books that they have on display. I can tell at a glance if we are kindred spirits.

There will always be a place in my home and in my heart for those books that have special meaning to me. My wife suggested a month or two ago that we have to thin out our collection of books, at least those that have been residing in boxes for the past decade or two. I really didn’t know what to say! If you knew me that would be very telling. I just looked at her and wondered if she was serious or not. The kids can get rid of the books when I die, but not before.

Just so there is no doubt, I LOVE BOOKS!

I am switching over to using an eReader more and more often and I read the paper online. I find that it is much more convenient to carry an ereader with me on vacation or the doctor’s office. I could make the argument that paper books have an environmental cost that ebooks simply don’t have. In the US, in one year two billion books are produced which uses 32 million trees to manufacture. That doesn’t take into account the number of trees that newspapers consumed, 95 million trees in 2009 and 126 billion gallons of waste water. The numbers are staggering, but in the end they are just numbers. We want what we want.

Until the next generation takes over with their tech savvy lives, we will continue to read books. We will chop down trees at an alarming rate so that we can wander the aisles of charming, nice smelling stores. We will line our walls with hundreds of books that will only be read once or twice for the most part. I am slowly drifting towards a digital reading life, but until ereading develops the warm, fuzzy comfort level that a book has, we (I) will continue to read books.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

You Shouldn’t Urinate Around Your Campsite

I love walking in the rain.
 Image result for walking in the rain
Well, not the getting wet part, that can be pretty irritating, and not when it is cold because you can feel your fingers and toes numbing as hypothermia creeps relentlessly through your body. I like to walk in the rain when I am either staying dry or mostly dry. It helps if it is a warm rain, but that is a pretty rare occurrence in Alberta.
For the better part of thirty years I would be walking outside whenever it would rain. I’d follow a set route, up one street and down the other side, walking up to each house with first, second or third class mail. Sometimes I would have a parcel or a registered letter and I would more than likely be carrying some form of junk mail. Pizza anyone? Getting wet was just a part of the job and if you were weather smart you could dress to stay just damp.

I used to do backpacking in my spare time and for the most part I avoided setting out when there was a threat of rain. You can’t always avoid it though and a couple of times I got very wet and very miserable.

My son Brendan and I set out to meet a group of backpackers once. Neither he nor I really knew where we were going and had listened half heartedly when told the directions to the back woods camp. Of course it started to rain shortly after we started the hike and the rain and we set in for an unpleasant day. We were headed to Little Baker Lake which our friends had gone to the day before. We spent the day slogging through mud puddles and every now and then, one of us would slip on a root and slam a knee or two to the ground.

The day just seemed to get more and more unpleasant the closer we got to our destination. We reached Little Baker Lake only to find that we should have been heading to Big Baker Lake. We sat down in the rain to discuss what we were going to do. There was no way we could make it today and neither of us seemed to have the will to push on in the morning. It turns out that Brendan only did the hike because I wanted to go and I only did the hike because I knew that Brendan wanted to go. SHIT!!! We decided then and there that the first thing in the morning we would head back to the car just as fast as our swollen knees would take us.

We had a hot something or other for supper in the rain and made an early night of it. Sleep was easy because we were so tired. In the middle of the night I heard a crash and then snuffling in our camp site. I stuck my head out of the tent and saw a large something just at the edge of my vision. I yelled “GET OUT! GET OUT! GO AWAY!!” to no avail. I tried to talk to Brendan but he was sound asleep. I got up and started a pot of water to boil since I was awake anyways.

Soon enough Brendan came out of the tent and sat with me. He was awake when I was yelling, but had thought I had lost my mind and was screaming at him to get out. Neither of us got any sleep for the rest of the night and in the morning I managed to tree the “beast”. The beast was a porcupine and it was interested in the salt sweated into the handle of my walking stick and clothing.
 Image result for porcupine
On the hike back to the car, we learned of other hikers that had their boots taken by the porcupines during the night and they had to backpack out in their camp shoes. Poor bastards.
 Image result for barefoot hiking
Thankfully our boots were in the tent with us and we learned a valuable lesson that night. If you are trying to protect your campsite from gigantic, salt seeking, rodents then you shouldn’t urinate around your campsite.