I was a child of the 60s.
My first real tangible memories, are the touchstones of the times.
The music of the late 60s and early 70s.
NHL League expansion.
Nuclear testing in Kamchatka.
The NASA missions to space, and to the Moon.
My father worked for local radio stations and then the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (the CBC), and our home and dinner table was often a gathering place and nexus for discussions regarding arts, science, politics, music, and other current events that were in the zeitgeist.
I was very young, and viewed the world with a black and white sense of idealism, that had no sense of the many shades of gray that lay between the two extremes of right and wrong.
So, I had no sense of understanding for my Father, who, after a long year of working, would choose to spend our holiday time in Penticton, in front of a TV set, watching the Watergate Hearings, rather than spending time enjoying the local lakefront.
Cut to current day, where my wife and I scan the headlines, morning and night, to find the latest development, with an American President who seems to have lost his moral compass, is openly dismissive of the Press, and have a measured disdain for minorities…
Dad… I get it.
It was further brought into focus, by watching the CNN show “Tricky Dick” – a series of four programs that, using ONLY footage and audio from the Nixon era, presented the timeline of Richard M. Nixon’s rise to power, and fall from grace.
It seems that many, back then, did not recognize the signs along the way… and looks like many US citizens are repeating a lesson they did not learn the first time.
One of my Dad’s favourite quotes, from John Dalberg-Acton (1834-1902):
“I cannot accept your canon that we are to judge Pope and King unlike other men, with a favorable presumption that they did no wrong. If there is any presumption it is the other way against holders of power, increasing as the power increases. Historic responsibility has to make up for the want of legal responsibility. Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. “
I get it, Dad. I get it.
A while back, I dove back into the world of retail, after a hiatus of a few years. I took a job, working hard, having fun, and creating sawdust, at the Home Depot store in Port Coquitlam.
It feels good to be ‘back in the aisles”, helping folks with their projects, and giving them a hand with finding the items they want, and need.
The other day, along with about a dozen Home Depot associate volunteers, we went to Coquitlam, to do outreach, with our store’s next #TeamDepotCA project.
TeamDepotCA, is the project where Home Depot Associates go out in their communities, and volunteer time, energy, supplies, and elbow grease… and work on something that a worthy local organization needs a hand with.
On this occasion, the group getting a hand, was the RainCity Housing Shelter, at 3030 Gordon, in Coquitlam.
Our team showed up with trimmers, shovels, rakes, plants, garden accessories, and a lawn mower… and over the next few hours, we cut the front boulevard. Added shrubs and winter pansies at the entranceway. Cut the back yard, and installed edging in the garden to make future maintenance easier. We pulled out a few plants that had died, and replaced them with bulbs that will be nice surprise for the residents, when next Spring comes around.
And in the process of giving back, we had a ton of fun… and are looking forward to our next Project!
Here are a few pictures, from the day’s activity.
A fun time was had by all…
(Click on any photo,
At a Social Media Meetup, in 2016, we met the folks from West Coast Flying Trapeze, a new business, located in Pitt Meadows.
They are a business that offers training in various circus-related skills:
- Aerial Silks
- Aerial Hoop
- Hand Balancing
- Flying and Static Trapeze
- (And they are adding more services, all the time!)
Their facility is housed in an expansive 8000 square foot hanger, located near the Pitt Meadows Airport.
Check out their video below, for an overview of the fun!
Because I’ve had a few incidents with whiplash, I wasn’t surprised to hear that the Manager suggested that I *NOT* try the trapeze… which was my first indication that it was a top-down, safety-first facility.
The staff was all professional, and their incremental method of teaching the students, seemed to be designed specifically to maximize the opportunity for the students to succeed, as much as they could.
From the West Coast Flying Trapeze brochure:
“Circus does not require a ton of strength, a high degree of flexibility, or a certain body type. All you need to do is show up. Our Coaches will guide you through the rest. At West Coast Flying Trapeze, it’s not about what your body looks like, it’s about what your body can do!”
If you are looking for a fun activity for just about anybody, I would suggest checking out West Coast Flying Trapeze… they are a Circus School for everyone!
They are located at Unit 105 – 19055 Airport Way, Pitt Meadows, BC. (At the intersection of Airport Way and Baynes Road)
You can find more information about their services and their prices, on their website: WestCoastFlyingTrapeze.com
It is a fun venue, for both the participants, as well as observers… not only from the Circus training, but also from the perspective of the highly-entertaining four-legged friends: Russell and Tally — two very different dogs, who (seemingly) love to cuddle and entertain “audience” members! (Video below)
* I have said it before, but it bears repeating: The endorsement of this business was not bought. Nor was it paid for, by credits, free classes or anything else. Any outside businesses, which are endorsed on the “What’s In Store” category of the Blog, are endorsed, because they are good businesses, that I frequent (or have frequented) and believe they are worthy of mention. I do not accept remuneration of any kind, for my Blog Posts.
Recently, Lorie and I started crafting and selling small doors for magical creatures… and so, whether you need a home for your Gnomes, Hobbits, Pixies, Elves or Fairies… we have a door that is just right for your needs!
Some are fanciful… others quite rustic… some are colorful… and others understated. Something for every taste. Each is one-of-a-kind, and hand-crafted. (Honestly, I would post pictures, but they change ALL. THE. TIME.)
Lorie has also made some fun and funky whimsical accessories… banners, flags, wind chimes and more…
You can find the full assortment of what is currently available, in our Etsy Shop: https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/GardenFairyDoors/
For fun, we also created TreeMax – a “Fairy Tale Realty Company”: https://treemax.ca/
And, if you want the full story on how we got started making Fairy Doors, you can find the details here: https://gardenfairies.ca/
Some time ago, there was a daytime talk show, I can’t remember which one, where the host had a guest on, who was paralyzed by her parents deaths.
As the primary caregiver, she had been responsible for their everyday care and function, as well as advocating for their healthcare.
And, upon the occasion of their passing, she found that she would go into a depression, every time there was a big holiday (Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving) at their birthdays… but especially on their Death Dates. Those were really hard to bear.
The advice from experts was to remember those who passed on their birthdays, try to build new and different traditions on special Holidays, and to try to block acknowledgement of the Death Dates, by staying busy, and planning activities that “take over” the Death Dates, and by trying to “take away their power”, by remembering the good times, and pushing the sad memories away.
I have, for the most part, been able to focus on the memories I have of them, from when they were alive, and the “treasures” I have, that (for me) helps to remind me of them, and keep their memory alive.
It struck me recently, that this year will be 20 years since my Mum passed, and shortly after, we started on the roller coaster that my Dad’s health journey would become, for his last few years.
In many ways, I think I was very fortunate to stumble upon that talk show, on that day. It certainly has helped me.
But, on this day, it suddenly, and without warning, shocked me that 20 years had passed. I guess that is the power of dates, over time.
And so, I shall raise my mug of tea, in toast… and go back to keeping busy.
Today is the Birthday of a Social Media friend, who I first met through Twitter, and then extended my friendship onto Facebook.
He lived in Pittsburgh, and we never met in real life… but through the years we would talk about hockey… music… and as we got to know one another better, our past struggles with Depression.
Then one day, he was gone…
No warning. No last post. No rants about Facebook or Twitter trolls.
Just… suddenly… nothing.
And for the last few years, upon the occasion of his Birthday, it causes me, and his many other perplexed friends, to post on his FB wall, and to put out Tweets… hoping against hope, for a response.
But there are none.
I think we’ve all had friends who, upon encountering online trolls, or discordant opinions, have taken breaks, or retreated offline. I myself, have had periods where there is just “too much muchness”, and going offline seems the easiest way to quickly quiet, a sometimes overwhelming and noisy world.
But these retreats by me, and by others, are usually prefaced by a “Taking a break for a while” note… or alternately, a rant complaining about the ugly sides of Social Media. Some come back, and others do not. But in most cases, there is a build-up or explanation to the reasons for the interruption.
In Matt’s case, there was none.
It was he, who called his online profile ‘Spazz Matt’.
And, so today, it made me wonder…
About the nature of friendships, and how we are naturally drawn to some people. How we form bonds of commonality, traveling roads (whether real or virtual) together, and enjoying “shared” experiences together.
And it makes me wonder…
How someone could, after years and years, suddenly give up on all those friendships.
And then I wonder…
Beyond the facile friendships of an online community, if the struggle behind the persona, overcame the person themselves. I hope not.
But… in all likelihood, I’ll never know.
So, on the occasion of his Birthday, I post this Simon & Garfunkel video, in honour of Matt, who would (in my recollection) doubtlessly, mock my choice.
And, with apologies to S&G, I present… “For Matt, Whenever We May Find Him”
And, because I would agree that the tone isn’t quite right, I give you (again) the greatest song ever written…
“I’m Going To Go Back There, Someday” by the Great Gonzo.
Was pleased and excited last week to hear about Michael Sam, the first openly gay football player, being selected in the NFL Draft.
Then, this week, I saw this video about the number WHERE he was picked… 249th overall.
The NFL Draft comes on the heels of NBA player, Jason Collins, announcing that he is gay.
The biggest difference between the two, is that Michael Sam has not yet “proven his worth” at the professional sports level, (he was drafted out of College, where he was extremely successful) whereas Jason Collins was nearing the end of his career, and had become a free agent, (prior to his being signed by the Brooklyn Nets in February 2014).
No doubt, it is difficult to be first. There has to be a massive amount of consideration, prior to announcing something that is private, and frankly, SHOULDN’T MATTER TO ANYONE.
Why would any team or sports organization want anything BUT the best players, regardless of color, sexual orientation, nationality or whatever other criteria you want to divide people by. And yet, it apparently still does.
In one article I read recently, this quote floored me…
One NFL coach, speaking anonymously to Sports Illustrated after Sam came out, said: “I don’t think football is ready for [an openly gay player] just yet.”
I sincerely hope I am wrong… but the Teams who are giving these players their opportunities, seem to be struggling to find success. And both Teams received a “bump” in merchandising revenues, when these signing announcements were made. And that got me thinking about ‘tokenism’.
If you aren’t sure what tokenism is, here is the Dictionary.com definition:
TOKENISM:1) the practice or policy of making no more than a token effort or gesture, as in offering opportunities to minorities equal to those of the majority.2) any legislation, admissions policy, hiring practice, etc., that demonstrates only minimal compliance with rules, laws, or public pressure: Admitting one woman to the men’s club was merely tokenism.
In light of recent ugliness on Social Media by Boston “fans”, directed towards PK Subban (an African-American hockey player), it makes me wonder how far we’ve come, towards being an “enlightened” society. Many retired hockey players admit, that they do research on the families and friends of opponents, in order to be able to “rile up” opponents in on-ice scrums. But, as hockey fans, how do we so easily cast aside the legacy of Boston Bruin Willie O’Ree (the first hockey player to break the color barrier in 1958) and call out a player who is a visible minority. PK Subban is a well spoken, skilled hockey player, who works hard (on and off the ice) to promote hockey as a sport for everyone.
Hopefully, the selection of an openly gay football player, Jason Collins’ announcement, more and more visible minorities playing hockey, and inclusive organizations such as You Can Play – are just the beginning of a more open and inclusive sports environment, and the culture of sports will become more enlightened. This would, I think, help move sports fans, and society as a whole, to a better place.
I don’t think that there should be quotas, or requirements, or any such “rules”… but simply allow the best players to play in the top sports leagues, without their ethnicity, skin color, or sexual orientation being of ANY concern. I believe the only thing that any of these athletes wants, is to be considered on an equal basis, against the others competing for the available positions on the teams.
I don’t think ALL the idiots will ever go away. But, in the last while, sports fans have seen a LOT of examples of team owners (such as Donald Sterling), team management (Michael Sam getting passed over 248 times), and team coaches (see the “anonymous” quote above), indicating that many of the idiots are still RUNNING the Teams.
As some of you may know… on October 1st, Lorie and I bought an online card business… Haute Note!
A company that produces custom cards, personalized notes and stationery.
We have a variety of note styles, as well as designs for every reason and every season.
We feel that in this day and age, when pretty much everyone on the planet has embraced the technology for sending emails, texts, PINS and communicating through any number of Social Networks — there are still occasions when it is “special” to get a card. A keepsake, or reminder of a moment in time.
Whether a photo Holiday card, personalized Christmas cards, birthday invitations, wedding or baby announcements, save-the-date cards, or something else completely… we can customize and personalize any of the hundreds of designs of cards.
A set of 8 Signature cards makes a lovely hostess gift, a thank you gift, something nice for Aunt Sadie or the perfect something for the hard-to-buy-for person who has everything!
Below are a few examples, chosen at random from hundreds of styles and themes.
You can find more examples at HauteNote.com
(Click on any image below to open the images up in a Gallery Viewer)
(Click on any image above to see the cards in a Gallery Viewer)
Should you need a personal or corporate Christmas card… a card to announce a birth, or a birthday party… a wedding announcement or a BBQ invite… we have all these, and many more! Check us out at HauteNote.com
Today is the first of December, and the beginning of the Holiday shopping season… that time of year, when parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles are starting to look for gifts for the children in their lives.
Some friends of mine have written a number of children’s adventure stories, revolving around the Tooth Fairy, Dragons and their interactions with humans, led by the young boy, Garth and his group of friends. Written by Bruce Kilby and Ken Johnson, and illustrated by Sean Cannon, the first is the “Legend Of The Tooth Fairy“, is 239 pages full of a fantastic and engaging children’s adventure story… for less than $20!!!.
If you are in the Vancouver area, there will be a number of events in the Fraser Valley. You can find the details on Bruce’s Fireside Stories Publishing website
The artwork on the Chapter Plates are, to me, striking reminders of the type of books I grew up reading. Below is the Dragon illustration that kicks off Chapter Five.
I haven’t had an opportunity to read most of the articles, and I don’t know enough about the various discussions and debates to comment on them… and to me, any discussion about this is really quite pointless.
When I see a Red Poppy, I think of my Dad, and my Grandfather.
Before the Second World War, he fought against the injustices of the time, for those with skin of a different colour… at a time when the British Colonials thought nothing of their two-class system.
When the war started, he managed to get his family and wife safely onto a freighter, and stayed behind to help fight the Japanese invasion of Singapore… which didn’t last long. All the guns were fixed… pointing out to sea. The Japanese invaded through the mainland, and Singapore quickly surrendered.
My Grandfather spent the remainder of his life in Changi Prisoner of War camp, which is where he died.
On September 3rd, 1939, my dad was a young man who had just celebrated his 20th birthday a few days earlier. He had just started working for the BBC in Scotland. Then, at 11:15 in the morning, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain declared war on Germany. A day later, my Dad was a soldier.
Like countless others, he signed up immediately… and through 1945, he was assigned to various units as a radio operator on the front lines… until he was wounded. Then he would get sent to a hospital, to get patched up, and he would be re-deployed to another unit, on another front.
He fought in Italy, Crete, Sicily and Africa.
He was a young man, named Robert Harold Gray, who lived on Hamilton Road in Rutherglen, Scotland. Funnily enough, he knew three OTHER Robert Grays who lived on the same street in the same town. Not so funny, was the reality that my dad was the only one of the four who came home alive. And my dad knew full well that it was only by fluke that he made it home. There was a particular moment during a battle, when his unit was being overrun by the German Army, and amid the retreat, he let a fellow soldier go ahead of him. That soldier was immediately killed by a grenade blast. My Dad was evacuated, with more shrapnel wounds, but lucky to be alive.
After the War ended, he was discharged, and went home to Scotland. The first thing he did was burn his uniform, and put away his medals.
He didn’t ever glorify war or hold a grudge. One of his eventual best friends when he came to Vancouver, was a German neighbour, who lived across the street, who had been a bomber pilot during the Blitz.
My Dad didn’t sit around telling war stories. He didn’t like or want to talk about it.
He only allowed us two windows to peek through, to catch a glimpse of the pain he had seen and endured during the war years:
– During my teenage years, on Sunday nights, he would listen to Dame Vera Lynn’s record, over and over. Often I would come in, as he was singing along to the song “We’ll Meet Again”, to find him with tears in his eyes, lost in another time.
– During this time, he and I started watching Remembrance Day services together… until he passed away in 1999.
Since then, when Remembrance Day comes, I don’t go to the Cenotaph… I observe the Ceremony, spending time with my Dad’s memory, and thinking of the sacrifices that he and his friends made, to try to bring sanity back to the world.
The Poppy to me is a symbol of my Dad’s and Grandfather’s generation… most of them, now gone… who gave us gifts that we still enjoy. Freedom and choice.
I do not diminish or discount the importance of having discussions and debates about the issues of Veterans’ support, peace-keeping efforts and the role of armies in the modern era. However, I shall recuse myself from that discussion. To me, the intent of Remembrance Day is to remember those who gave years of their lives, or in some cases, their actual lives, to fight for the intangible values of Rights and Freedoms, that we now enjoy.
The Poppy doesn’t glorify war. There is no glory in war. There is only sacrifice and loss, and that is what we honour on Remembrance Day.
I shall wear my Red Poppy, and with it, cherish spending a moment of Remembrance with my Dad, and the Grandfather I never knew.
We’ll Meet Again
We’ll meet again,
Don’t know where.., don’t know when,
But I know we’ll meet again, some sunny day.
Keep smiling through,
Just like you always do,
Till the blue skies drive the dark clouds, far away.
So will you please say hello,
To the folks that I know,
Tell them I won’t be long,
They’ll be happy to know, that as you saw me go
I was singing this song.
We’ll meet again,
Don’t know where,don’t know when,
But I know we’ll meet again, some sunny day.
We’ll meet again,
Don’t know where, don’t know when,
But I know we’ll meet again, some sunny day.
Songwriters: Arthur Wilkinson, Ross Parker, Hugh Childs
Published by: Lyrics © EMI Music Publishing