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.