Thursday 30 March 2017

Thin Out the Flotsom

I don’t know why, but I have been thinking about my own mortality of late. I feel fine for the most part, just the odd twinge every now and then, but that comes from decades of wear and tear on what began as genetically inferior stock from somewhere in England. My ancestors were pasty faced specimens that were happy to be called “wiry”. They were conquered and enslaved by the Vikings and Romans over the centuries and eventually learned how to enslave others, eventually owning a third of the world. Mostly due to better technology and the conviction that they were doing the work of God and they also had no qualms about sending people into the world to kill and die.

The main reason for this blog is to document my thoughts and idiosyncrasies so that my children and grand children can get a sense of who I was after I pass on. I would give anything to be able to read the daily thoughts of my parents and grandmother. I suspect that there will be little or no interest, but at least they will have the option.

Lately I have been thinking if I die tonight, what will be the impression that I leave for my loved ones. To tell the truth, I don’t really care how anyone else feels or thinks, just family. Even if I could, I wouldn’t attend my funeral because it would piss me off if people were sad when I thought they should be happy and I would be equally upset if they didn’t give me the respect I think I should get. No, I am going to the light…

I look into my medicine cabinet and wonder what will be the impression it leaves. They will see a half used tube of toothpaste, some deodorant, toothbrush, floss, assorted medication and a brush that is missing many bristles from long use. I get sad looking in there. Yesterday I took the initiative and bought a new hair brush. My cabinet will look just a little less pathetic.

I kind of feel sorry for whoever has to go through my stuff. Most of it is garbage that only I can find interesting. There are some gems, but for the most part you should just back up a dumpster to the door and fill ‘er up. Take something for memories and whatever tools or useful items there might be. I guess I should start to thin out the flotsam.

Maybe next week… 

Monday 27 March 2017

You Deserve a New Tea Bag

I have never been much of a drinker. Maybe it’s because as a child I watched my dad and he rarely had good experiences with alcohol. Every Christmas Eve my uncle and aunt would come over with a bottle or two and celebrate the holiday with our family. The next morning they would sleep in because they didn’t have children and poor dad would have to get up very, very, very early with two extremely excited little boys.

I also remember him dressing up as the Jolly Green Giant one Halloween. Mom used food colouring on his skin and I remember waking up in the middle of the night with dad still drunk and sitting in the tub while mom used a floor brush and bleach to try and get the green off of his skin. He had a greenish tinge for days and his arm hairs were green for weeks. I don’t think the men in my family were meant to be drinkers.

In high school, I had more than a few unpleasant run ins with the demon drink. Jose tequila attempted to show me my intestines by bringing them up into my mouth. Cheap wine allowed me to vomit all over myself while lying on a floor in a crowded basement. Beer just made me stupid and somehow managed to grow hair on my tongue at the same time. There are far too many incidents to relate before I came to understand that alcohol and I should stay nodding acquaintances for the rest of my life.

Luckily for me, my social group had other intoxicants available that just needed to be inhaled. My body could handle that just fine thank you very much. I could sit at a table just being mellow, listen to some of the finest music of the century and my drink of choice was tea. We would sit and solve many of the world problems at those tables drinking tea. The girls would tell me what shits their boy friends were and ask why there were no good guys out there. Look across the table!

There was something mystical about a pot of tea. Many years later, I was working at McClelland & Stewart Publishing and came across a book called “The Book of Tea” by Kakuso Okakura. It was a large and impressive book that covered the history and ceremonies involved in the preparation and serving of Tea in Japan. Could have been China, but I think it was Japan. I was into tea and thought that if I learned more about tea I would become a better person somehow. The road to being a better person probably shouldn’t start with the theft of an expensive book from your employer. My bad.
 Image result for the book of tea
It turned out that although it would have been nice to be that guy who knew all about the origins of tea and even knew how the Japanese prepared and served tea, I just didn’t really care that much about tea. Just so the theft wasn’t a total loss, I gave the book to my buddy John who would appreciate it. I don’t think I told him it was a “hot” book,,,sorry John.

Fast forward to the present. I am a tea drinker at home and a coffee drinker when I am out. It doesn’t make a lot of sense, but there you have it. I find that two tea bags will make a decent pot of tea if left to steep just the right amount of time. We usually will make a pot when the kids come over to visit. When I am by myself, I just make a cup of tea by putting the bag in the cup, swirling it around and then a quick squeeze against the side of the cup and done. However, that teabag still has some life left in it. Well, assuming two bags are good for a six cup pot then one bag should be able to make a second cup. Often I will do that second cup. It isn’t always as good as the first and there is no chance of achieving that “perfect” cup of tea, but it works most of the time.
Image result for used tea bag 

Some days I look at that partially dry, squeezed out teabag and think to myself “With all of the pain and suffering in the world Ken, you deserve a new tea bag.” Every now and then we all deserve a new tea bag.
Image result for tea bag

Saturday 25 March 2017

Fond Memories

Louise and I went into Tim’s for our morning coffee and when it came time to pay we were told that coffee was free this morning thanks to the generosity of Bryce and Phyllis. You see, Bryce and Phyllis have been married for fifty years and they thought it would be a nice gesture to celebrate by purchasing coffee for strangers at their local Tim Horton’s. Nice!

I am sure that Bryce and Phyllis are celebrating their golden anniversary in other ways with family and friends by their sides. Maybe they have or will be going on a vacation of a lifetime to do a river cruise of European countries to see fairytale castles and thousand year old bridges. They might be a surprise party organized by the grand children in a hall with pictures of Bryce and Phyllis from when they first met through the fifty years of living, working, laughing, loving and raising a family together. Not all times would have been happy and there were more than enough times when they struggled to make ends meet. However, they survived and managed to stay together for fifty years. That is quite an accomplishment.

While we were sitting there, enjoying a coffee for me and a steeped tea for Louise, we talked about Bryce and Phyllis and we agreed that they had a novel and interesting way of sharing their good fortune. Maybe in another few years, God willing, Louise and I will share our fifty years together with strangers, paying a good life forward.

From what I understand, the free coffee will only be for a limited time. I guess that Bryce and Phyllis gave a certain amount of money and when that was gone so was the free coffee. By then there would be hundreds (?) of people that had a very pleasant surprise to start their day off.

There was a fellow at the next table who got his coffee, sat down and made a phone call. I couldn’t help but listen in, in spite of having to shush Louise several times. He started the conversation with “Hey, I just got a free coffee at the Tim’s at Barlow and 39th. Yeah, some couple, (Bryce and Phyllis) are celebrating their fiftieth anniversary by buying coffees.” I thought that this guy is calling a radio station to pass on the good news and maybe get more people feeling good about Bryce and Phyllis. Do you think the radio station should mention the free coffee, or would it be better if they just mentioned the deed and not say which Tim Horton’s it was in order to avoid the inevitable rush from bargain hunters throughout the northeast of the city?

It turns out that the guy at the next table was telling his friends not so that they could come and share with Bryce and Phyllis, but to have this guy get extra large coffees for them. Black so that they could put what they didn’t drink into a thermos I suppose. I doubt that is what Bryce and Phyllis had in mind, but after being on the earth for at least seven decades I am sure it wouldn’t come as a surprise. People will be people after all.

Well, the person writing this blog has nothing but good wishes for Bryce and Phyllis and I hope that whatever they are doing today is full of love, laughs and fond memories…

Tuesday 21 March 2017

Drown My Sorrows

I like to think that I am an average Canadian. I can be pretty sure that I’m not above average, never having made any significant mark on modern society. I watch below average people all of the time driving on the road, shopping in stores and generally getting in the way pretty much everywhere. Not their fault, a fish swims, a pig rolls in mud and a dog sniffs; that is just God doing His mysterious ways.

I worked most of my life, raised a family, contributed to society as best I could and now I am enjoying retirement. I suppose that I am above average in having fallen into a job that forced me to contribute to a pension plan which allows me to be comfortable in my golden years. It would be nice if there were more gold of course, but what can you do.

For most of my life I have been listening to music on the radio, at work, in cars, at home and often in between places. I like to have some noise in the background, it means that all is normal and I am functioning well. Radio is the easiest to access so that is what I listen to most. There is TV when I am at home as well. Fortunately or unfortunately along with the music and TV shows there is the news of the day being reported. I am not really a joiner so most of the news that comes my way is very ignorable. Rarely does it have any effect on my life at all.

Sure, every now and then taxes go up a miniscule amount, a storm is predicted to blow through the area, some sporting franchise will or will not win “The Cup”. Mostly it will be a “who cares” moment or a time to get that cup of tea.

In every newscast and every ten minutes on the radio there is stock market news. Usually the stock market is up, but sometimes it is down. Often it will be up because it wasn’t as down as had been predicted or visa versa. Oil loses a dime her or a dollar there, sometimes it gains. The price will drop because there is too much and the next day there will be a shortage so the price has to go up again. The Canadian dollar continues to drop in relation to the US buck. That is supposedly good for the Canadian economy but somehow the stocks keep dropping. A low dollar sucks for the average citizen that wants to vacation in the US because everything is 30¢ per dollar more expensive. The Tech stocks are on the way up, unless they are on the way down. The bank that earned a 6 billion dollar profit in the first quarter had its stock price drop because they had predicted a 6.3 billion dollar profit. It is insane.

The point I am trying to get to in my round about way is that I just don’t give a shit! I don’t have a large portfolio of shares and stocks that need me to keep track of them on a daily/hourly basis. Even if I did have a bunch of stocks I trust the guy who invested for me to look after them. If I did have my money invested I would have selected long term investments so that I wouldn’t develop ulcers trying to keep track of the other kind. I know there are people that do track their money, but I doubt those people are getting their information from KISS FM or 95.7 The ROCK.

I know that my pension is invested in all sorts of stocks, money markets, foreign exchanges and other vehicles that hopefully will continue to make money so that I will continue to receive my monthly pittance. My RRSP’s go up, go down but over the long term they have gone up. Not as much as a good bottle of wine would have, but I can’t drink my RRSP’s. I just don’t need to hear how the stock market is doing every ten minutes on the radio and every night on the news. I can’t really do anything about it and I suspect most people are like me. The rich people have people who pay attention to that stuff and the poor people are too worried about eating and putting clothing on their kids to worry about investments.

If you worry about this stuff, you should put the money in a bank account and protect your stomach lining from being eaten away. I think I just may invest in wine, it will go up in value over the years and if it doesn’t I will be able to drown my sorrows.

Thursday 16 March 2017

Everyday is a Puzzle

Last night I finished a jigsaw puzzle of a cartoon like New York City. It isn’t something I would have picked naturally, but it was for sale at the second hand store for $1. The other puzzles were two and three dollars, but to be fair they did come with boxes and largish pictures of what the finished puzzle should look like.

I haven’t done a jigsaw puzzle in years. The last time we did one in this house, Maegan was still living here and that is probably the only reason it got done. I am pretty good on the corners and any flat sided piece, but when the shapes get crazy, so do I. Maegan was absent for this go round.

I did my corners and then the sides, but a couple of the sides didn’t get done until well into the build. I often found myself staring at hundreds of odd shaped pieces that didn’t appear to have anything to do with New York. The colours blended and no image was large enough to be contained on one puzzle piece. What a nightmare!

I don’t know how long it took, a week, two, perhaps a lifetime. Time just seemed to break up into tiny, odd shaped bits that didn’t fit together. However, now it is done.

There is a sense of accomplishment and I did stick to it when all I wanted to do was take the vacuum to it. I foolishly told my buddy that I was doing a jigsaw puzzle to keep my mind nimble. It is just my luck that his sister-in-law loves jigsaw puzzles and instead of giving the completed ones to second hand stores, I am to be the recipient of four or five puzzles. That should keep my aging mind nimble for a few months.

That just goes to show you that it is a mistake to have friends and a bigger mistake to talk to them about anything like feelings and thoughts that you might have.

It just occurred to me that someone had to draw the image that was made into the puzzle. What kind of sick bastard would do that? Do you think it is possible to track them down and ruin a week or two of their lives?

Well, tomorrow is another day and I suppose everyday is a puzzle.

Sunday 12 March 2017

Better Times Ahead

This is the last day of the deep freeze and quite possibly tomorrow will be the first day of actual spring. I am sick of the cold weather and although I welcomed winter with open arms back in December, my arms and heart are now closed!

My good friends out in Ontario are bracing for a big winter storm coming their way. With luck this will be old man winters last kick at the can for the year. The pussies that live on Vancouver Island are more concerned with the problem of whether or not last year’s flip flops or sandals go with the shorts they are wearing. Probably they are wearing clogs and rubber boots with the shorts while they get the garden ready.

I’m not bitter. Yes I am! However, at least I saw the sun for a good portion of the winter even though it was through a filter of ice fog.

Wherever you happen to be in this great country of ours, or how shitty the weather we don’t have the government that the US has for the coming four years.

Milk Cartons

For most of my life I have been forgetful. Usually, I would laugh it off and say something witty like “I must be having a senior’s moment.” “Maybe I have early onset Alzheimer’s…heh…heh…heh”. Pretty funny stuff.
 Image result for seniors moment
I’m not too worried about memory loss, I just figure that is the price for living longer than God intended. Lord knows there were a number of times that I dodged a potential call to heaven. Besides, in the vast scheme of things I doubt that forgetting why I went down into the basement matters that much. The same with where I put my keys/hat/phone/wallet/book/pen and a myriad of other items. I still know my name and most days I know which end of the week I am in.

What bothers me most is not being able to do things that I have done all of my life. Lately I have been having difficulty opening those paper milk cartons. I have never had trouble with them before, just for the past few months. I can’t imagine that all of the milk companies got together to make their cartons more difficult to open. Why would they do that? How would it benefit the companies?
soup skins for top-feeders
I really can’t imagine why I am having trouble opening them either. I don’t have arthritis. Well, not so bad that I find it a problem at all. I know my fingers aren’t as strong as they used to be when I delivered mail and had to keep the mail from blowing away in heavy winds. I suppose it is possible that I have somehow forgotten just how a milk carton works. Every time I have trouble I make sure I am opening the correct side. I simply refuse to buy the cartons with plastic caps, which are like buying running shoes with Velcro instead of laces. My time is coming, but it isn’t here yet.

After giving it some serious thought, I have come to the conclusion that the milk companies are out to get the baby boomers. There can be no other reason the cartons are so hard to open.

Thankfully, I own more than a few pair of scissors.

Friday 10 March 2017

Too Late

Well, it is just too late to start the blog.

I was busy being cold for most of the day and after that I made supper.

After supper I watched some TV and worked on a jigsaw puzzle. I picked it up a week or so ago from the 2nd hand store thinking it would be fun. Frustration can be fun...right? There is a certain sense of accomplishment when you find that odd shaped piece that you just had in your hand and it fits. 

I have been using a jewelers loop to match the picture on the box to the puzzle that is unfolding in front of me. It sort of works, but I feel like Mr. Peanut when I have it in my eye. I have so far completed the sides and the first three inches of the top and bottom of the puzzle. That may just be as far as I get.

Time will tell.

Wednesday 8 March 2017


I subscribed to the newspaper for most of my life. Well, up until about ten years ago that is. There are only two papers in Calgary, the Sun and the Herald. Yes there is the national version of the “Mope and Wail”, but the writing style and articles left me saying “Who cares?” The other two local papers were not very good either, but they did have the horoscope, entertainment section, crossword and the comics.

Those local papers were always conservative leaning and rarely reflected my point of view. I’d like to think they were wrong for all of those years and I was the lone voice of reason. Neither paper has reporters of their own and just takes stories from the wire services. I am sure it is a cost thing, but I think cost shouldn’t be the determining factor for truth. I think people should be nice to each other as well, but that doesn’t always work out.

So, ten years ago I started saving money and got my news from the internet. You have to take those stories with a grain of salt, but if you work at it you can get more in depth than a newspaper ever would. Lately, I can have access to thousands of newspapers from around the world online through my library. It is awesome! You can find out that the rest of the world thinks that Trump is a douche bag too.
 Image result for metro news
I still get some news and the suduko, horoscope and crossword in the free Metro which I pick up daily. They also have a few pages of news which is more fun and local. I guess they can afford reporters. Probably their reporters are journalism students that work for free.
 Image result for glaciers ice age
So in today’s Metro there was an article that told me gravity is measurably lower in and around Hudson’s Bay. Cool!! It is due to the ice age and the glaciers scrapping off huge amounts of rock which causes the mass of the area to be less than the rest of the world…I guess. I thought gravity was equal for the planet. I guess those people who are on Weight Watchers around Hudson’s Bay have it made.

I know you are saying, “Why should we believe you? You read comic books in science class and handed in a major project dedicated to man eating worms of Scarborough Ontario.” All of that is true, but I am much more mature and intellectual now. Really! I am!

Okay, here is a link so you can check it for yourself.

Tuesday 7 March 2017

Horrible People Doing Horrible Things

I don’t know if you believe there is a reason for us being here. I’d like to think that there is a reason and I think the vast majority of people feel the same way. That’s why there are religions and belief systems in every corner of the world and has been for tens of thousands of years. We need something to anchor us.

Personally I feel that this life is one of a series of lives and in each and every one I am learning something important. Things like lions don’t make good pets, expiry dates are important, don’t bring a knife to a gun fight, facebook advice is worth what you paid for it, snow tires grip the road but still don’t brake very well on ice, etc. I could go on and on, I have learned a lot but there is much more that I need to learn. I haven’t even begun to work on making myself a better person.

We need a belief system of some kind because the world is a horrible place. Yes, I know there are wonderful things like a baby’s laugh, free coffee at Tim Horton’s, the first warm spring day, the first snowfall of the year, holding hands with someone you love, the smell of leaves burning in the fall, looking at a sky so blue that it hurts your eyes and sitting quietly at the end of a life knowing that for the most part things have been pretty good.

I watched a young man today that had developmental issues. He was happy enough and I suppose that his challenge is what he is here to learn.

Two days ago in the early morning hours a young man was drunk, drove the wrong way on a highway and ran head on into a car with three women. The three women survived and are in the hospital but it will be a long time before they heal. I imagine they will never be 100%. The young drunk guy walked away from the accident without injury. He has been charged and will be fined or serve a few months in jail. Maybe that is what he is here to learn.

On the other side of the world there is flooding or droughts. People are starving and or being killed. They don’t have access to the fine medical care that we have and die from curable diseases. I don’t think about those people very much. I don’t think I am here to learn about that during this lifetime. I’m not sure why I am here, it can’t be about writing a blog or I would be better at it don’t you think? I haven’t made any significant mark on the world as a whole but I have had some impact on those closest to me. Maybe something I have said to Hurricane, Tornado or Tsunami will inspire them to do something great. Maybe not.

Today the world is a horrible place with horrible people doing horrible things.

Tomorrow… will be different

Monday 6 March 2017

I Have My Memories

Well, it is official!

I suppose it has been official for some time now, I am an old fart. I am old and I fart, but that isn’t what I mean. I have become one of those guys that complain about pretty much everything. Hell, I am even complaining about complaining. Sheeesh!

I don’t know what the world is coming to and I fear for the future. Why can’t things have remained stuck in the sixties and seventies? I would have liked that. The music was great, clothing was comfortable, there was free love (or so I have heard), the drugs made you mellow, not dead and people seemed to have a pretty good work ethic. When we weren’t stoned of course. We enjoyed simple pleasures like Frisbee in the park, free love (or so I have heard), 29¢ McDonalds burgers and albums for $3 or $4 bucks. A concert with a big name was six to ten dollars and there was free love (or so I have heard).

I worry that the generation that we raised have become entitled, lazy attachments to the cell phone. I saw a young mother walking with her kid the other day and wasn’t surprised to see the mom on the phone while her kid tried to talk to her to no avail. For the life of me I can’t understand what is so compelling about the cell phones. I have one, it doesn’t have me. I use it to make phone calls, settle disputes like what was Rob and Laura Petries son Richie’s middle name. It was ROSEBUD just in case you wondered. He was named after the name suggestions of seven relatives, Robert, Oscar, Sam, Edward, Benjamin, Ulysses, David.

These are the people who are in charge of building enough retirement homes for us baby boomers. They can’t take their eyes off of those fucking phones long enough to interact with their own kids. I’m pretty sure we will all be converted to Soylent Green when we hit seventy.

A while back I heard a young mom say that after being on holiday with the kids she and her hubby will be taking an adult vacation next year leaving the kids with grandma and grandpa. Hmmmm…. Maybe that is normal, maybe that is the way things have always been. Louise and I moved away from family and didn’t have the option. However, I can’t imagine going on vacation without the kids. They deserved a holiday as much or more than we did. Sometimes we would send the kids to camp and while they were having fun riding and swimming we would be single unencumbered adults in our own home. I always enjoyed making memories with the kids and hopefully they still have those memories.

I know that the memories weren’t always the best and at least once I would pull the car over to the side of the road and threaten to turn around and go home. We all knew that would never happen, but in some small corner of my admittedly tiny brain it was a possibility.

I would advise those parents thinking of an adult getaway to reconsider. There is nothing I wouldn’t give to go on holiday with my kids again. It would be fun to spend time with them as adults when no one was cooking or cleaning up. Not to be I guess, but I have my memories.

Sunday 5 March 2017

That’s My Story


It’s been a month since the last blog. How time flies when you aren’t writing a blog.

Okay, so here is the deal. A month ago our family suffered a loss which had us travel to Ontario to be available if we were needed to comfort. Really there is nothing that we could do other than be there. Too often events happen that just need to be suffered through and only time will put a perspective on those events. Needless to say the time spent was very stressful and it didn’t seem that writing a blog was in any way respectful of what I was feeling at the time.

When we returned home both Louise and I became quite sick. I suspect that the stress of our trip had an impact as well as it was time for my mid winter sickness. Of course Louise needed to jump on the band wagon and she is still less than healthy. I am pretty much better thanks to three weeks of whining and over dosing on vitamin D. I don’t know if that helped at all, but Arwen swears by it and why wouldn’t I grasp at any hope of getting better.

We went to the doctor just to make sure they weren’t going to name a disease after either one of us. Turns out it’s a virus and there is nothing that can be done about it. I wish my doctor would prescribe a placebo just so that I would have something to look forward to every day.

At the height of my illness I was praying for divine intervention. I didn’t pray to be healthy; I prayed to win the lottery. I figured that if I won the lottery I would be able to afford a doctor that cared if I was alive of dead. I could drain my blood and replace it with the blood of young, vibrant kids. Okay, I don’t think that’s a thing. At the very least I could get my sick ass onto a beach somewhere and bake the disease out of me.

The last few days I was just lazy and bed time came before I managed to write a blog.

Well, that’s my story and I am sticking with it.