Monday 29 February 2016

Who is Pearl Snitman

When I was younger, I knew where all of my friends lived and I knew their phone numbers. I didn’t have a lot of friends so in that way the memorizing was pretty easy. There were people whose numbers I didn’t know, but we had a kind of kid phone tree when we needed a group for a ball game, so the ones I didn’t know, someone did. Like an early six degrees to Kevin Bacon. It worked.
Adults had to worry about proper addresses to mail Christmas cards and needed to find people’s homes when going for a visit. I didn’t mail cards, I would hand them to people. It worked.

Eventually, I became an adult and found a need for an address book for numbers and addresses of people I knew but didn’t know well enough to visit on a regular basis. Also, my memory started to deteriorate fairly quickly and phone numbers faded like fog in the sunshine. I had a tiny black book that fit in my wallet. It worked.
When Louise and I got together it seemed that we really needed a stand alone address book that had addresses, phone numbers, birthdays and anniversaries. We were adults that needed to send Christmas cards, birthday cards and once we moved out west, phone calls back home on a regular basis. We merged our address books and my little black book got put in a drawer with other antiquated pieces of “important” paper. The merger made sense and it worked.

I think we have gone through four or five address books in the decades we have been together. Sometimes the binding would fail and we would end up with an elastic band around the cover and a bunch of loose pages. Over the years, our friends and family would move and or change their phone numbers which would mean a new entry had to be made. Eventually, Bette Nesmith Graham invented white out; which made re writing numbers and addresses of our friends and family much easier. Bette was the mother of Michael Nesmith of “Monkeys” fame. Some friends drifted out of our lives and their names didn’t make the move to a new address book. Some just drifted away from the earth.

Now, we have addresses and contacts on the computer, the iPad and on our cell phones. Every time we get a new mobile phone, we have to transfer our “contacts” over and inevitably I will forget how to do it the easy way. A hard drive crash and or a lost/stolen phone could leave us in limbo with no friends and family, so being the dinosaurs that we are, a hard copy is still important to us.
 Image result for cell phone contacts
We are once again in need of a replacement Address and phone book. Guess what? It seems that Address books are no longer a profitable item and most stores don’t even carry them. We went to five or six stores today looking for a good replacement without any success at all. There are really crappy dollar store address books. Very high end book stores carry leather bound books with hand made paper made in the mountains of Tibet by defrocked monks. We felt like Goldilocks today, either the books were too cheap or too expensive. The search will continue.
I suspect that we will find our “new” book at a second hand store and this November I will be writing the Christmas cards and will turn to Louise and ask “Who is Pearl Snitman?” 

Saturday 27 February 2016

Eating Burnt Pancakes

The other day I was in the kitchen cooking pancakes. I have always loved pancakes and the recipe that we have been using for the past twenty or thirty years is my favourite, making light and fluffy cakes. Mmmmmmm….

I figured that while I was making the pancakes I would set the kettle to boiling and make myself a cup of tea to go with the pancakes. I noticed that Buster’s food dish was empty so I got some food from the pantry and poured it into the dish. By now, the kettle had boiled and I put a teabag in my cup, some sugar and pored in the boiling water.

Look at me, multi-tasking!

The result of course was a batch of burnt pancakes, dog food poured on the floor around the bowl and boiling water dripping onto the floor from the counter. Nothing was a major problem; I picked up the dog food and put it in the dish, wiped the counter and floor, refilled the cup with a little less than boiling water and I ate the burnt pancakes while Louise got the next batch. I even took away a life lesson, I CAN’T MULTI-TASK!!!!

I’m not sure if anyone can. Come to think of it, I don’t remember when the phrase even came into common use, no one multi-tasked when I was a kid. I suspect that the true meaning of multi-tasking is being mediocre at more than one thing at a time. When did it become desirable to get more than one thing done in the same space of time? I think it is far better to give your entire attention to whatever you happen to be attempting and then move on to the next project. Do one thing at a time, do it exceedingly well and then move on.

Be a special person and focus on what ever happens to command your attention until you are done. That way you won’t be standing in a puddle eating burnt pancakes while you watch the dog eat off of the floor.

Anyways, here is my favourite pancake recipe. I have put it in a blog before, but what are the chances you will have read it and actually know how to find it.

Fluffy Pancakes

2 cups flour                                                      2 eggs
2 tbsp. Sugar                                                    2 cups milk
4 tsp baking powder                                         2 tbsp butter (oil)
1 tsp salt

Add dry ingredients and blend together. Add the eggs, milk and butter (oil).

Add 1 cup of any fruit/ topping you like for a variation.

Wednesday 24 February 2016

Maegan and Brendan

The first time I met them, I was told to sit down, and one was placed in the crook of each arm. They were swaddled and looked exhausted from the traumatic experience they just went through. I couldn’t see them as clearly as I would have liked, I’m going to say it was due to the angle, but more than likely it was the tears of joy and happiness.

Many years have passed, some marked with tears but far more with laughter. I’ve watched them grow through thirty five years of life. The first part I had some impact on, but mostly I have been an observer. They seem to have risen above any bad advice I gave them throughout the years and somehow taken the little that is good from me and adapted it to their own lives.

I was walking past the high school they went to with Buster this morning and I couldn’t help but see their faces on the kids laughing and in deep discussions with their buddies. I wish that I could have been a fly on the wall watching them making friends and mistakes, there was so much that I missed. Parents only know a fraction of what is going on inside of those young minds. I suppose that’s because we have forgotten how hard it is to find a place to fit in the world.

Now that they are adults, I know even less because they are far too busy shaping their worlds and putting a mark on our planet. I think it is a better place for their being here, but I am more than a little biased. As a parent the only real criteria that matters is that they be happy, and from my vantage point on the outside looking in, I believe that they are.

When Buster and I were walking this morning, we were thinking how you never really grow up in your parents eyes. My mom continued to call me Kenny forty years past the time I changed it to Ken. When I went “home” I fell into the comfortable role that I grew up in with mom looking after me and me loving every minute of it. I don’t think there was much I could do to stop it even if I had wanted to; we are hard wired that way. I like when the kids come “home” and I get the opportunity to do for them once again. I don’t always find out how life is treating them, but sometimes just being close is good enough.

Maegan and Brendan came into the world a minute apart and in that minute my life grew so much larger than I imagined it could ever get. Because of them I made life long friends, learned skills that give me joy and feel that I have made a valuable contribution to our world.

I am so very proud of them and wish them health, happiness and peace.  

Saturday 20 February 2016

Go Directly To Hell

I’ve talked about religion many times on this blog, and will probably do so in the future as well.

Sometimes, I can’t believe that there is an all powerful being looking over our shoulders and guiding us. Sometimes, I can’t believe in a world that does not have an all powerful being looking over our shoulders and guiding us. Sometimes, the world just seems to be too random and intricate to have been created by a consciousness. Sometimes, the world in all its complexity and interconnected biodiversity just couldn’t be a random accident of evolution. Sometimes, I just have to admit that there are some things that are far beyond my knowledge base.
Most of the time, I believe that religion, all religion, is simply a set of rules that we can live by. Most religions strive to lead their adherents in lives that are productive and loving. Rules such as don’t kill each other and don’t take what isn’t yours, don’t sleep with your best friend’s wife or husband, respect those that deserve respect and tolerate those that don’t. In short, all of us should strive to be the best person that we can be.
 Image result for angel devil
There is no real way to enforce people to behave, which is why our society has a police force. The threat of Hell is a concept shared in one form or another by most major religions. Some of the crazy splinter groups that make up their own interpretation of the rules seem to be in Hell already and deserve to be there on judgement day as well. To the very devout, punishment in purgatory or Hell is a very real and terrifying concept. I had a Catholic friend that would confess her sins so that she could be absolved of said sins. At the time I was more concerned that she was telling someone about what we had done or were about to do. She was concerned with her eternal soul.
Image result for muslim prayer 
I have a Muslim neighbour that prays to God five times a day. Five times a day! I know that in the middle ages the devout Catholics would pray seven times a day, but over the centuries the splinter group that I belong to found that they could accomplish the same thing by going to church just twice a year at Christmas and Easter. The “lesser” religions will eventually mature and manage to condense their messages to God.
Earlier this week the Pope was visiting Mexico. He was glad handing the faithful and allowing them to touch his holy hands. One person must have become over excited and he tugged on the Pope’s sleeve causing him to topple into a child in a wheelchair, not once but twice. Needless to say the Pope became angry and admonished the person not to be selfish.
Now, I am not a devout anything and wouldn’t walk out to the curb to see the Pope drive by, but I am aware that others probably know more than I do and will wait in the hot sun for hours just to get a glimpse of the pontiff. I can’t help but wonder about that person who caused the Pope to fall on a crippled kid. Does he figure he is eternally doomed? Will he Go Directly To Hell; Do Not Pass Go; Do Not Collect $200? Probably.

Sucks to be that guy!

Wednesday 17 February 2016

One Lump or Two

I live in a land that is very dry. We have our share of rain and snow, but nothing like other parts of the world get. The main crops grown around here are an assortment of grains, but very little crops from market gardens. The soil is less than perfect as well, but I think it is mainly due to a lack of moisture that we have trouble growing things. Late summer generally indicates a lawn that is browner than green and my indoor plants just seem to wither and die a slow, painful death.
 Image result for brown lawn
I grew up in southern Ontario which had a much better climate for growing things and people. I remember dad watering the lawn, but I have the feeling it was more so that Steve and I could run through the sprinkler on those hot summer days. It was often very humid and when I go back now for a visit I just pray that the temperature will be dry and cool. There is a three week window at the end of September and early October that has optimum conditions for me. I guess I am just not used to it any longer.
I can remember that the sugar in the sugar bowl would often clump together and sometimes turn rock hard. The humidity had a lot to do with it. Sometimes, the bag that the sugar came in was more like a brick of concrete due to the moisture. My gram always used sugar cubes and Steve and I loved going over to her house where we would sneak sugar cubes and let them melt in our mouths. Of course the cottage was always supplied with cubes of sugar and I can still picture my mom and dad dropping two cubes of sugar in each of their cups.
I have been thinking about sugar cubes for the last couple of weeks. I don’t know why. Maybe I just want to have the taste of a melting sugar cube in my mouth. Maybe, I am just preparing for the inevitable climate change where I am no longer living in a near desert climate. They sell sugar cubes out here, but I buy bags of sugar because it is a better value for the dollar. Restaurants don’t even have sugar dispensers any longer, they have all gone to tiny little bags or in the case of McDonalds and Tim Horton’s they will pre-measure the sugar in your cup.

What’s a guy to do?

Today I decided to make my own sugar cubes, how hard could it be? Turns out that it is pretty easy, you take some sugar and some water and press the resulting mixture into a container of some sort. I could have bought a sugar cube mold, but that borders on the insane, at least for now. I used a hamburger press and then cut the round of sugar into tiny squares the size of sugar cubes. I am letting them air dry, but I could have used the oven on a low setting or one of my food dehydrators. Perhaps if this is successful I will get a little more serious.

Louise thinks I’m nuts of course, but she is pretty sick and as long as I don’t bother her I can be as stupid as I want to be. I don’t wish her ill, but I have a lot of stupid to work off.

I think that tomorrow morning I will test the cubes out with my morning tea. The big question of course is “Will that be one lump, or two?”

Thursday 11 February 2016


It is odd the way my mind works, I know that for every second that passes I am getting just a smidge older. I don’t feel any older than I have for most of my life, but when I look in the mirror and an older gentleman looks out from the other side of the looking glass, it becomes all too apparent.

My oldest daughter is celebrating a birthday today. HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Gone are the days when I was involved in planning a party, buying gifts, making a cake or doing my signature birthday posters. To tell the truth, Louise did most of the planning, baking and buying of gifts, but the posters were all mine. Never once when she was eating cake or popping balloons did I think about getting older. I was too busy having fun and doing my best to make her life as good as I possibly could.

I know there were times that I made her cry and times that she made me cry, but for the most part there has always been love between us. When she was a little girl and fell off of her bike I could pick her up, give a hug, kiss her boo-boo better and hand her off to mom. The older she got the less able I was to make her feel better. Some problems can’t be solved with a large Slurpee from 7-11.

The one thing she has always done is to make me proud to have been a part of her life. Now, she has allowed me to spend time with the two most wonderful grandsons in the world. I should apologize in advance for the damage they will cause with some of the things I have already shown them and as well as for some of the things I will show them in the future.

Anyways, I hope that you had a happy birthday today…love

Monday 8 February 2016

Angry Buddha

Today is Chinese New Year!
I have only ever taken a passing interest in the Chinese New Year. I have always understood the New Year to be on January 1st and celebrated with over drinking, over eating and American football games. To have New Years celebrated a week or so into February is contrary to everything I know. I just don’t know how to even celebrate the Chinese version. I know that they dance around in a dragon costume and I would hope they let off fireworks. There is no doubt over eating involved, but whether they drink themselves senseless or play some sport I just don’t know.

When you consider how many people in the world celebrate Chinese New Year, you would think that the western world would at the very least be aware. Maybe everyone else is and I am one of the few ignorant humans left in the world. They certainly seem to be having a lot of fun, so maybe there is a lot of alcohol involved. I can’t help but notice that it is not a stat holiday in Canada or the USA. It probably should be, we can’t have too much time off of work.
This year is the year of the Monkey and I think I heard that it will be a year of good fortune, emphasis on the “fortune” part. I sure hope so; I could do with some good luck. I was born in the year of the Dragon and I have no idea what that means. Perhaps just that I have been dragin’ my ass for most of my life.

Louise and I were at a restaurant the other day and they had one of those smiling Buddha’s on the counter. Every nook and cranny had coins and they were overflowing onto the base. In times past I have dropped a coin on Buddha for good luck and perhaps happiness. It can’t hurt to have a God like figure on your side.
I wondered what happens to the money at the end of the day. The cynic in me figured that the hard working owner just pockets the coins and uses the money to reinvest in the business. However, that might bring you some pretty nasty Karma, stealing from Buddha. I know I wouldn’t want that kind of mojo working against me. I don’t remember ever seeing a Smiling Buddha temple anywhere in the city. They could be in Chinatown, not being able to read Chinese I may have walked by the church many times. Maybe they just give the money to worthy charities or the church of their choice.

Whatever they do with it seems to work because I have never seen an angry Buddha and pray that I never do.

Saturday 6 February 2016

Perfect Memories

Last night I had a dream that I was riding a motorcycle.

I have been on a motorcycle just a handful of times in my life. My mom won a 50 CC Honda in a contest when I was a teenager, but she didn’t let my brother or myself anywhere near it. She just sold it to some university student that I hated for a few years. He did take my motorbike after all.

To tell you the truth, I have never been that comfortable with motorized two wheeled vehicles. They just don’t seem that safe. At least in a car you have a metal shell surrounding you and there is no need to stick your foot out for balance. You can control the amount of wind that blows in your face, listen to the radio, drink coffee and you have a sturdy belt to hold you in the car if there is an accident. Plus, you aren’t cradling a tank of gasoline between your thighs and testicles. Who needs to rest their nuts on an unexploded bomb?

My brother had an accident while in Florida one year on a motorbike. He slid along the pavement until several parts of his body had the skin stripped off to the bone. He was considered lucky. I did a header off of my bike when I was a kid and the road rash on my chest and face made me never want to repeat it…ever!

My best friend died far too early in a motorcycle accident which resulted in a closed casket funeral. Bikes are not my favourite.

However, in last nights dream I owned a bike and seemed to be happy to do so. It was summer and the neighbour across the alley and I were working on our bikes, talking back and forth. We were laughing about the fact we spent more time working on the bikes than riding them. Perhaps they are designed that way; it is far safer to sit in your garage twisting nuts than taking your chances on the mean streets of wherever it is that you live.

Working on my bike in the garage was one of those perfect moments that you remember for the rest of your life. I was happy, laughing and being productive, the weather was perfect and for a change, everything seemed to be working out. I didn’t want that day to end and of course I didn’t want to wake up. I held on to the dream until it was a bare wisp of memory. Perhaps it will come back tonight and if I am terribly lucky I will have another perfect moment this coming summer working in the garage.

Perfect memories are too few.

Wednesday 3 February 2016

A Moron For a Son

It wasn’t too many generations ago, when the world was slower and smaller, you would grow up, live and die within ten miles of where you were born. Some were adventurous of course, but an adventurous life was a dangerous life back then. It was safer by far to stay home and follow in your fathers footsteps.

Most families would spend their days doing the same thing that great-granddad, granddad and dad had done. Millers would raise millers, smiths would raise smiths, farmers would raise farmers and lords would raise lords. Everyone knew their place more or less. Life was quiet, simple and by all accounts, quite hard.

Life has been getting easier for most of us for the past hundred years or so, partly because the world has become smaller and faster. I can get on a plane and in four hours I can step off the plane on the other side of the country. That same distance would have taken months or years before the industrial revolution. Now, we can work many miles away from where we live and the products that we create will be shipped all over the world.

I guess one of the downfalls as I see it is that we rarely follow in our father’s footsteps. It isn’t too often that you see a sign on a business that proudly says JONES & SON. We have no tradition of generational businesses in this country. Perhaps it is because our country is so young; perhaps it is because if a business is successful a franchise won’t be too far behind. Maybe the jobs we work at don’t challenge our children or capture their imaginations.

My dad was an investigator for the government and I think I might have had an aptitude for that as well. Whenever I start a search, I won’t give up no matter how long it takes and generally I will bring the search to a successful conclusion. For the past several months, I have been looking for five coat hooks that I had taken off of a board that is still in the basement workshop. I have looked in every box on every shelf and behind anything that isn’t nailed down. I have searched the garage workshop several times and was quite diligent in my search out there. Then I searched the basement again…unsuccessfully.

I spent some time today just sitting in the workshop asking myself “If I were Ken, where would I put those coat hooks so that I could find them when I wanted to?” I didn’t have a good answer for myself.

Tonight I was watching TV and it occurred to me that I knew where the hooks were. I put them on the coat rack that stands by the front door. You know the one that I walk by ten or twenty times a day, everyday, week after week, month after month. Well…good for me!

In one respect, I concluded a successful investigation and my father would have been proud of me. Well, once he got past the shame of having a moron for a son.

Tuesday 2 February 2016

Dreaming of the Wilderness

You know, I used to like going to garage sales and second hand stores in the hopes of finding things that I needed. I still like certain second hand stores, but I haven’t been to a garage sale in years. I think the problem is that I just don’t need anything much any more. If I don’t have it by now, then in all probability I just don’t need it.

In years past I would be looking for tools that would add to my small collection and enable me to do more things, after all, the job is always easier if you have the right tool. Now I have lots of tools and a good portion of them go unused for the most part. However, if I am feeling productive I am able to do the job using the proper tool. I will still buy a tool that catches my eye, but that is just the hoarder in me dropping by for a visit.

I also used to cruise the garage sales for camping and biking equipment. People grow out of camping and either give it up entirely or they move on to campers and RV’s. The equipment needed when RVing is quite different than camping or backpacking. Sometimes, not often, I would find what I needed or wanted. Most of the time however, I would just enjoy the search. There is no fun searching and knowing that you won’t buy anything. I still like to find bike related items, but I have a shelf or two in the garage that are overloaded with bike related bric-a-brac. Come the warm season I will be on the hunt for cheap bikes, just for parts. I will strip them for the pedals, cables, bearings and anything else I might use on my bikes.

I used to do a lot of work on bikes when the kids lived at home because kids are hard on bikes. Now, I just need to do a tune up on Louise’s and my bikes in the spring and maybe some other work half way into the summer. Maybe I’ll be able to show Hurricane and Tornado how to do basic bike repair in a few years.

A couple of years ago I got a MEC gift card for a birthday or Christmas and actually forgot about it. I discovered it a while back and today I went to MEC to spend it. I needed a couple of 780 X 38C inner tubes for what will become my go to bike this summer. While I was there I picked up a pump for a Whisperlite Stove. I didn’t need it because I have more than a few stoves that I can use, but if for some reason I NEED all of my stoves, this will help. To round out the shopping trip I bought a pair of bike gloves. The ones I have are about twenty years old and have seen better days. I guess I was too excited because the ones I picked up are too large. Probably meant for a bike riding gorilla.

All that means is that I get to go down to MEC again to return them and walk through the store touching the merchandise and dreaming of the wilderness.

Monday 1 February 2016

Not tonight

The idea I had for todays blog was that the "good guys" live on one side or the other of an imaginary line. Depending on what side of the line you reside on, the other guy is the bad guy.

"We" are never the bad guy. "They" are though and will always be until another line is drawn on the map.

I am done for tonight, so you can fill in the rest of the blog or wait until I get back to this idea. You might just want to go for a walk, have a tea or read some of your book.