Friday 16 November 2018


Let’s just agree from the get-go that I am a cranky old fart with opinions on pretty much everything. Those opinions don’t always make sense to anyone other than me and have been coloured by six decades of life. I should also tell you that I am invariably correct with my opinions and if you don’t agree then you my friend are wrong!

I am in the process of doing some small wood turnings for a young man I have known since he and my son were in Cubs together. Nice guy. I am more than happy to do this for him and we have been in contact more than a few times trying to get the design, size and shape just right. We have been doing this using text messages. There is a generational problem with this way of communicating.

He is very comfortable using the cell phone for all aspects of his life and I am like that room full of monkeys trying to write the great Canadian novel. I like face to face and he likes facebook to facebook. It will work out just fine when he realizes that I am a Neanderthal.

The human race has spent one or two hundred thousand years communicating with each other face to face. You could literally smell the guy that you were talking to. Yes, that was a down side. We have learned to listen to subtle inflections in the voice and the way select words were pronounced. We would watch the hand and body movements that accompanied the conversation. The eyes, eyebrows, forehead, mouth and the way the head would move helped us to understand exactly what our friend was trying to say.

It has just been in the past 120 years or so that we learned to communicate from a distance. For a good part of that time dots and dashes replaced words. ..-. --- .-. / .- / --. --- --- -.. / .--. .- .-. - / --- ..-. / - .... .- - / - .. -- . / -.. --- - ... / .- -. -.. / -.. .- ... .... . ... / .-. . .--. .-.. .- -.-. . -.. / .-- --- .-. -.. ... Yeah, I don’t understand it either. We humans learned how to use the telephones, but I think that was just an extension of face to face communicating.

I have yet to learn the way of texting. I know of no subtle indicators of emotion and I am completely lost when short forms and emojies (?) are used. The shit emoji I get and the happy face one is easy.

I am pretty sure that I am just ignorant and with luck and time I will be able to understand this new way of communicating. Perhaps people will just stop trying to talk to me and just smile and put a spoonful of pudding in my mouth.

Thursday 8 November 2018

June Caulfield

There is not much that we humans can do about the inevitable march of time other than be washed along with it. Sometimes time seems to slow down when there is something particularly onerous that needs to be done and when you are having the time of your life it seems to come and go in an instant. I remember a few years back when we had tickets to see Paul McCartney the months leading up to the concert took so very long and the three and a half hours of the concert itself just passed in an instant. Such is life.

I like to think of the people I surround myself with as living, breathing smile makers. Some people make me smile whenever I think of them and certainly when we are together. Some people only make me smile when they leave. Thankfully those are few and far between.

I guess that smiles are about memories. The first smile is the making of the memory and the smiles in the years that follow are physical manifestations of those wonderful memories. Of course some memories are the opposite, but sad memories don’t stay with me. Mostly my memories that start out sad are generally replaced by thoughts and smiles of the good times.

Perhaps I am different than others, perhaps my mind is too weak to retain those sad memories, perhaps on some instinctive level I know that I could not keep the sadness within me without doing irreparable harm. Who knows?

I do know that because of this I seldom keep sadness for very long. Well, unless the radio station I am listening to has a playlist that targets my misery. I’m that guy who is smiling at the funeral. It is the memories I am thinking of, not the loss. My belief system relegates the sadness and loss to those left behind, not the one who has passed. There is a very good chance that the dear departed will soon be back on the planet making another stab at reaching perfection. I am sure that I have much more learning to do and with any luck you will have entered my life and given me reasons to smile.

One such person has just recently passed on. I first met June in high school and from the first moment we met she gave nothing but smiles. We were friends or is that friends of friends. I was pretty shy and June was far too attractive inside and outside for the likes of me. I was happy to be able to say hello as we passed in the halls. I always wished her well and hoped for her to have much happiness in life.

High school ended and life came between us. I was busy trying to sort out the direction my life was to take, falling in love, moving two thousand miles away, raising three wonderful kids and trying to make my corner of the world a place I wanted to live in. June did the same and I am confident that she made her corner of the world a happier place just by being in it.

A few years back we got back in touch thanks to Facebook. We quickly caught up on forty plus years and then fell back into our own lives. I would have liked to talk more, but the opportunity just never came up. My other friends from high school lived closer and managed to get together with June to make music and I suppose smiles.

Well, June was attacked by cancer and like too many, the fight was pretty much one sided. I’m sure she battled like the fierce redhead she was and I am also sure that she still spread smiles until the very end. There will be a memorial for her coming up and I won’t be there, but I will make sure to enjoy a few smiles that day.

Thanks for a lifetime of smiles June and I hope that in the last couple of years you thought of our time together and smiled.

Wednesday 7 November 2018

Not too tight

Good day eh.

I was born in Toronto Ontario and have lived in various parts of Canada my whole life. There have been short trips to countries that have warmer climates and once to England. That is pretty much it. For some reason I feel that I need to apologise for not being more well travelled. That is the Canadian in me coming out I suppose.

Now, being Canadian there are some things that are expected of you. Being polite, apologetic, a love for beer, back bacon, maple syrup, snow shoe wearing, saying “eh” and a deep predisposition to love the game of hockey, which are things that go hand in hand with being a Canuck. I would have said being genetically predisposed to excel at hockey, except I am painfully aware that is just not true. I was never very good at hockey. I tried, but I even sucked at road hockey and the only reason I was picked for a team is that they needed warm bodies to make up the teams. They gave me an oversized stick and put me on defence and every now and then that large stick would manage to deflect the ball on a break away, allowing a good player to get back into the action. At least when a window was broken no one ever thought that I had made the shot.

I couldn’t even tie my skate laces tight enough so that I could stand up straight and not on my ankles. There was one Christmas that my brother and I got a full set of hockey equipment. I have a picture to prove it! For some reason they were Montreal Canadien outfits. I can’t be sure what I was thinking when I was eight, but I lived in Toronto and I’m pretty sure that I was a Leaf fan when I was little. I guess dad was a Hab fan. Who knew?

Five years ago I was lucky enough to spend an hour or two every week while Tornado’s daycare had skating at the local rink. When three year olds “skate” it is more crawling and falling down with some licking of the ice surface thrown in. It was suggested that I wear skates so that I could keep up on the ice. I dug my skates out and tried them on. Well, I couldn’t get them on. It had been a long time since the last time I went skating and twenty years of delivering mail had managed to spread my feet out. Actually, if I remember correctly, those skates were never comfortable. They were made in a time that footwear manufactures believed that shoes and skates would mould feet to fit. They were mostly leather and sot soft leather. I wore street shoes to help Tornado on the ice.

Just recently I once again had to take Tornado to the rink. This time it was because he had a hockey game and I had to help him get ready. I was assured that he could do everything himself. Well, I just had to make sure his skates were tight enough. Shit! Fifty-five years later and I still had no idea how to lace skates properly. Thankfully, we now have the internet which told me that I should lace the skates tight but not too tight. Thanks internet!

For those that care, it turned out fine because Tornado could feel if the skates were too tight or loose and he managed to score a goal or two.

However, since those daycare days I have been thinking that as an adult Canadian male I should have a functioning pair of skates in case I have need to make an escape across an ice field or my granddaughter asks Poppa to take her skating. Unlikely, but you never know. I thought about it for the past five years and last week I took the plunge. I bought a pair of skates at my second hand store for $20. They weren’t leather and had the look of modern skates. I have since found out that they are low end skates that can be found at big box stores specializing in selling crap. Perfect for me!

I got them home and squeezed my feet into them. The only way I can describe the feeling is that the skates felt like an instep borer from the middle ages. I was in too much pain to think where it hurt. Well…shit!

It turns out that the internet is good for something. I Googled how to adjust the fit of skates and there were several Youtube videos telling me how to make my skates into articles of pleasure not pain. What a revelation! I wonder if I am the only Canadian male that didn’t know this was possible? I followed the video and wonder of wonders; I can now get both feet into the skates without any pain what so ever. I am sure that once I go skating there will be some find tuning, but I can live with that.

All that I have to do now is wait until it gets cold enough for outdoor ice rinks to be made. I am a skating purist after all. There is still the issue of tying those skates tight enough so that I can stand and not break my ankles. Lucky for me there is Youtube.

… I should lace the skates tight but not too tight.

Saturday 1 September 2018

End of Summer

Well, it’s that time of year again when the kids have one last weekend before returning to class. Parents get to spend lots of cash on school supplies and fees that are not covered by the school taxes they pay. On the plus side, parents don’t have to try and figure out what they are going to do to keep the kids entertained for the summer while they are at work. All in all, it is a good thing the kids are getting back to class. I want those kids educated up so that they can get out and have good jobs when they grow up so that the pension fund continues to be filled. GO KIDS!

It is also the time of year when I start to think that the grass is growing slower which means that it needs cutting less often. It isn’t growing slower; I just like to convince myself that it is. My friends on Vancouver Island never get to think the grass has stopped growing...suckers! Mind you they have forgotten what a snow shovel is.

Of course the end of the summer is also the time when I can literally reap what I have sown. In the spring I planted carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, peas and for some inexplicable reason we planted kale. We have had new potatoes from the garden a couple of meals now and I think I am in seventh heaven. I am not sure if they actually do taste better than the store bought variety or if I am simply justifying all of the water I sprayed on them this summer. The peas have been long ago harvested and every time I open the freezer I se the half baggie of peas I can’t help but think the $3.50 I paid for the peas in the spring was far too much. I am sure that I did something wrong, but for the life of me I don’t know what it was.

The tomatoes are plentiful but sadly I have yet to see even a pinkish tinge on the green skins. There are a few more weeks of potential growing and ripening, but I suspect I will end up covering them in newsprint down in the basement while they take their own sweet time to turn red. The carrots are safely in the ground and it is with great expectations that I will have a good harvest. I will settle for “goodish”. Louise’s pepper plants seem to be doing well and a couple of the plants have edible green peppers. Yes, she bought red pepper plants but that is far too much to hope for.

Thankfully I don’t rely on the garden to get me through the winter. I put my trust in the many grocery stores that dot Calgary’s landscape.

I have been thinking for most of the spring and summer what it must have been like a couple of hundred years ago. I have always thought that even though fresh food would be in short supply toward the end of a particularly harsh winter, the spring would bring fresh food. If my garden is anything to go by, those poor bastards from two hundred years ago will just be getting full bellies mid to late August. That is just in time to prepare for the lean winter to come.

Once again I am thankful to have been born when society can organize food processing and distribution to allow me to effortlessly over eat. Just as long as I continue to have cash in my pocket I will be able to put food in my mouth.

Wednesday 25 April 2018

Feels Like Work

I was sitting in the dentist’s chair, minding my own business having my teeth cleaned after Dr. Julie had poked and prodded all of the tiny crevasses in my mouth. She had finished drawing all of the blood possible and reluctantly told me that although I will need to replace a crown in the not too distant future, I was good for another few months. The dental hygienist was doing her thing scraping and polishing when Dr Julie popped back into my field of vision.

Of course I thought she had had second thoughts about future necessary work or remembered that she needed a down payment on that summer home on the Riviera. To my surprise she told me that Louise had told her I did some wood working. I said that although it is true I like to work with wood, I am not that good. Like most women, she ignored what I said and asked if I could make a treasure chest for the dental office. I mentioned that a bank would be a safer place to keep her money. It turns out that when kids are good (or bad) they receive a toy to go home with. When Dr Julie moved offices the other office kept custody of the chest and the new office needed somewhere cool to keep toys.

I agreed and regretted it almost immediately when the receptionist gave me measurements by holding her hands apart like she was describing the fish that got away. I asked about colour and got a shrug as an answer. Nice… Well, at least I didn’t have any cavities.

I had some ideas and went online to see images of treasure chests and possibly find a design that would work. Most of the ones online were beyond my skills, too large or just wrong for the application. I decided that a curved top was the way to go and recessed panels for the sides. The top worked surprisingly well and in no time at all it all came together. Good on me!

Well, that was a couple of months ago and I had let apathy creep into the build, doing a little here and there, but effectively doing nothing. Sure it was cold in the garage where I mostly worked and I had gotten sick for a week or two, but I was just lazy, finding it easier to watch TV when I had spare time. I wasn’t writing blogs or really doing anything. Well, until I got the email “Just wondering how the treasure chest was coming along.”

I fired off an email with a comprehensive list of excuses that sounded lame to me, but they replied that they had infinite patience. I just hate people that are that nice and understanding.

Long story short, I kicked my ass into gear and assembled the pieces I had; made the ones I didn’t and went to the hardware store to pick up the hardware needed to finish the project. I had a few set backs, but managed to get it built pretty quickly, stained and put the hardware on. It looked pretty good if I do say so myself. Sure, I would do the next one differently, but that’s because like most humans I learned a few things by my mistakes.

I dropped it off yesterday and they seemed pleased with it. They are far too nice to tell me the truth if they didn’t like it. When Dr. Julie asked how much, I told her a root canal, two fillings, an x-ray, two tooth brushes and a package of floss. She smiled and said that I also needed a crown.

I am always happy when I finish something I make for myself. I am very understanding when it comes to excuses about how lazy I am. To do a commission just feels like work and I am retired.

Monday 23 April 2018

Grass Being Green

Well, the whining and bitching can end starting tomorrow. Our wonderful weather forecasters have decreed that we will hit 20°C tomorrow. I will be able to get my pasty white skin out in the sun where it should be.

I will be at a loss for something to complain about, but being an old man I should be able to find something worth spending my opinions on. The world is spinning as it should.

You can tell it is spring because I have seen a couple of robins hanging around the trees. The rhubarb and chives are beginning to sprout. I suppose that if I had planted crocus or tulip bulbs in the fall they would also be sticking their noses up thru the fast thawing soil. I have planted bulbs in the past and all it got me was a couple of fat squirrels. It is possible that the squirrels buried some of my neighbour’s bulbs in the garden, I will check tomorrow.

The real sure sign that spring is here is that Stan and Karen the neighbours across the alley were sitting on the deck in the afternoon sun drinking a couple of beers. His garden is still under a foot or two of snow, but that should be mostly gone by late in the day tomorrow. Life is good.

Well, not so good for some of the towns near rivers, as those rivers are rising over their banks. Some of the towns north of us are in mandatory evacuation situations. Farmers in southern Alberta can’t get onto the land to seed because it is so water logged. I hope it stays warm and dry for a week or three so that they can grow the food I love so much.

The other sure sign of spring is that today I swapped out screen doors to the back yard. We have a nice insulated door to keep the winter cold outside where it belongs that functions from late October till late April. The rest of the year we use a door I made last spring with a doggie door in it so that I don’t have to keep getting up every time someone walks past the house to let Buster out. It gets old very fast and I have suffered months of getting up just in the middle of that exciting scene on my favourite show.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot the large pot holes on the road and road gravel putting chips in the front windshield. I have been living with a chip for a while now and will continue to do so until the city sweeps the streets.

I am looking forward to grass being green and having leaves on trees and bushes in a month or two… 

Tuesday 17 April 2018

A Little Easier To Take

I am on my third and last dog.

I never had a dog when I was a kid, I don’t think my dad saw any use in them at all. Maybe mom didn’t like dogs, I really don’t know. What I do know is that my brother and I never had the opportunity to be responsible to pick up dog crap on a regular basis. I had a vision of teaching a dog to catch Frisbees, wrestle with me, share my popsicles, act as my wingman to help me meet girls and just love me unconditionally. Yes, I know that only happens in the movies, but I could dream.

The closest I came to a dog was when I was eight and had my tonsils out. I must have been really scared and asked for a dog if I was to go through with the operation. I didn’t get a dog and I didn’t get to eat ALL the ice cream I wanted either. My throat was too sore to swallow anything. Instead of a dog I got a moulting canary. It could only give a pathetic Peep and would shed feathers every now and then. Crappy pet for a little kid.

Anyways, I have made up for not having a pet for the past thirty years or so. I have had the pleasure of walking the dogs, picking up after them and trying to work my life around what is best for the damned dog. Don’t get me wrong, I do get pleasure from my little four legged friend, he is always happy to see me. Perhaps he is the only being on the planet that I please that much. Cool!

Buster is a barker. God help anyone that thinks they can casually walk in front of our house. It doesn’t even have to be anything real, Buster seems to hallucinate things that need barking at. I’d like to say that his barking is an endearing quality but it really isn’t.

Every night, just before bedtime he has to go into the back yard and bark at the wind. Well, I used to think he would bark at the wind but now I am not so sure. I recently rewatched Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I and Hermione casts protective spells around their campsite as soon as they arrive.

Maybe that is what Buster is doing late at night. Perhaps he is a mighty dog wizard and for reasons I can’t begin to understand he feels compelled to protect our home and ourselves. So far in all the years we have had Buster no one has broken into the house and we have been more or less healthy. I suppose that could be a coincidence, but I kind of like the idea that I have a magical dog that protects me and all that I own.

It makes the humiliation of picking his shit up a little easier to take.

Monday 16 April 2018

Well Shit!

I woke up this morning and it is snowing as hard as or harder than it has all winter. The weather assholes are calling for ten to fifteen centimetres but console us with warm weather for later on in the week.Yea! Oh yeah, and Trump didn’t die or have a blood vessel burst in his brain even though I and millions others prayed for it last night. There is always hope for later on in the week.

As upsetting as the snow is, it is much more acceptable than the freezing rain that is happening in southern Ontario. Stay strong...there is always hope for later on in the week. I just heard that Kelowna BC is expecting up to 30 cms of snow today, usually at this time they are concerned with the tourists coming to visit and when they should pick the fruit off of the trees. Oh, and my asshole friends that live on Vancouver Island have their own problems like are the tulips bigger this year, should I cut the grass two or three times this week and should I wear a light jacket or long sleeve shirt. The struggle continues.

Here we are later on in the day and the snow has stopped, a lot has melted and there is a good chance that warmer weather is on the way. You would think I should be happy and I am. Sort of. My reason to bitch is that we should never have had the snowfall in the first place. No one asked me my opinion on an uncalled for snowfall. Come to think about it, no one ever asks my opinion on anything. Louise sometimes tells me what I think, but that just isn’t the same.

If there is a plus to our spring snowfall is that Arwen and Brendan are vacationing with their families in Cancun and the Bahamas with their families. It is nice when you are someplace warm and a stranger on the beach mentions that there was a snowfall back home. Doesn’t even much matter where home is, it is just nice to hear that you made a good choice in vacations. To add the cherry on top, I had to shovel Brendan’s sidewalk. I sent him a picture of his old man slaving away over a hot shovel. I didn’t do Arwen’s place mainly because it is that much farther and I do have a life.

The dogs are patiently waiting till I go to bed so they can push me and Louise to the edges of the mattress while they take the lion’s share. Last night when I pushed back they gave me the same look I give to a rib eye steak. I might sleep downstairs with the door locked tonight…

Saturday 14 April 2018

Digital Trash

So, yesterday’s blog is in the digital trash bin. Not that it was any worse than all of the trash I do upload, it just didn’t get finished by the time I was finished for the day. Such is life.

I was just doing last nights dishes when I thought of a woman from many years ago. She is the wife of a friend and although we aren’t friends, we have been friendly in the past. I fault myself that for some reason we have never pursued our friendship. Be that as it may, the reason I thought of her is that she was very protective of her lawn.

At the time the kids were small and she had a small kid but they weren’t allowed to play on the lawn. This struck me as odd back then and strikes me as odd now. Throughout my years as a mailman I ran into a number of people who were very dedicated to their lawns. It is also possible that they hated the Post Office in general or me in particular and just wanted to keep me the hell off of their lawn! I generally walked on lawns because it saved me time and most of the lawns were composed of weeds, crabgrass and dog shit. Not necessarily in that order. When I came upon a lawn that was very obviously well looked after, I would stick to the sidewalks because whoever lived in that house really loved their lawn.

My opinion on lawns is now and has always been is that they are there to be walked on. They are pretty, comfortable, cool, springy and a lovely green. Mankind spent hundreds of thousands of years walking on grass and just in the past fifty years have some people decided that grass should be looked at and not used. I still walk on lawns whenever I can even though I am no longer delivering letters. I believe that it is much better for your feet and your well being in general.

A facebook friend has been touting the benefits of “Earthing” for the past few months. I guess the premise is that if you spend an hour or so a day with your bare feet on the earth you will stay healthier in body and mind. I have to admit that when I was a kid I was pretty content when I was barefoot. Well, until I stepped on some glass from a broken Coke bottle that some SOB tossed on the pavement. To tell the truth I am never so content as when I am walking along the beach in Hawaii in bare feet. That might be “Earthing”, or it just might be that all of Hawaii makes you stay healthy in body and mind. I do plan on spending more time in bare feet this summer on my brown, patchy lawn.

I started out talking about my friend and her crazy obsession with her lawn. I guess we all (the crazy ones) have things we do that others find odd or disturbing. I know a guy that has a house filled with stuffed animals. They are cool and creepy at the same time, but they do give him joy. One fellow I worked with had an amazingly well equipped workshop but he never, ever did any kind of work in it. He just loved looking at his workshop. Another guy I know has a collection of cameras, most never used. Personally, that is a collection I would like as well. Some people collect “friends” on facebook which is nuts. Can you imagine how many birthday wishes you would have to send out every year if you had thousands of friends? I have a too large collection of backpacking stoves, at last count I had seventeen or eighteen. If I still did backpacking I could justify my collection. I collect Tim Cards, old tools, chisels, planes, pens, interesting items I find on the ground and any number of bits of wire and washers.

Maybe we are all nuts. Maybe that is the way God meant for us to be. I guess it wouldn’t hurt if more people looked after their grass in particular and the planet in general.

Happy collecting!

Thursday 12 April 2018

Age of Aquarius

Image result for age of aquarius

It is hard to believe that it has pretty much six months since my last regular blog in mid November. Sure I wrote one on December 5th, but that was more of an oddity than anything else.

I should say that I have written blogs since; I just didn’t finish them or deleted it rather than post it. Yeah, I don’t get it either. I’m not even sure if this one will get posted.

I have been trying to work out why I just stopped writing, but so far I haven’t come up with a good reason. The best one is that I have slipped into a mild depression due to the recent geo-political climate of the world. Perhaps I have just reverted to my animal ancestry and decided that hibernation is a viable option for me. Now that it is spring, I can come out of my den and forage for new and interesting things to do.
Image result for bear coming out of den 
I say spring, but I am looking out the window at a landscape covered in white with more snow falling. The weather asshole says that we will have double digit temperature for the next few days. God I hope they are right!

I was pretty sick last week and I am more or less better now. There are things that I need to do but I just don’t have the get up and go to get up and go do them. Maybe sun and warm will get me motivated. It doesn’t help that two of my three kids and their families are flying to warmer climates for the next week or so while I get to look after their dogs. I still like one of my kids…

It is pretty depressing when you pay attention to what is happening in the world politically. I have always known that politicians are self serving bastards but underneath the graft and corruption I wanted to believe they had the good of the city/province/country/world as an end goal. In the past ten years or so it has become about getting richer and re-elected without a core for the people who voted them into office. Someone found out that if you tell a lie with enough feeling and often enough then the people will believe you. What a horrific state we are in!

In my youth we sang songs and protested the power brokers of the time in the hopes that a better world would ensue. I didn’t really believe that we would change that generation, but I knew in my heart that when my generation came into power then we would build the world into the paradise it should be.
Image result for tomorrowland movie 
Well, for the most part the hippies became businessmen and lawyers, warehouse workers, office workers, farmers and some even became involved in politics. We were in position to change the world. Maybe we tuned out and turned on too much, because the world is pretty much the same now as it was forty years ago. There have been some baby steps made, but we still have racial and gender inequality, powerful people doing whatever they want and the bureaucracy is more complex now than it has ever been.

I had trouble spelling bureaucracy and spell check gave me burro rat. I should have left it.
Image result for burro rat 
Well, so much for the Age of Aquarius. My hope is that the calendar was off fifty years or so and it will start to make a better world for my grandkids.