Family Is A “Relative” Thing

The word “Family” means different things, to different people.

My parents emigrated to Canada in 1956, from Scotland.  They didn’t know anyone here, but my Uncle John in Liverpool had traveled the world, working on ships, and his endorsement of the beautiful city on the Pacific, tipped the scales for Vancouver over Montreal.  Dad thought he could find a job in broadcast radio in Vancouver… so he and my mum packed up their lives into a couple of steamer trunks, and with two young daughters in tow, set sail for Canada, leaving all relatives behind.

A few years, a few houses and a few different jobs later, my Parents had me.

To me, when I was a little kid, the word Family meant my parents, and my sisters.

My parents made many friendships in their newly-adopted country, and growing up, we called most of these people “Aunt” or “Uncle”.  As I grew a bit older, I learned that these people weren’t actually related to us, but were Aunts and Uncles “in name only”.  I also learned that there were OTHER people I talked to on the phone on Christmas Day and sometimes heard, on exchanged reel to reel tapes, who I was related to.  They were the ‘Overseas Relatives’.

As a teenager, my Mum and I went to meet the ‘Overseas Relatives’, and spent three weeks meeting Aunts, Uncles and Cousins… all over Scotland and England.  Being a typical teenager, I wore the unfortunate cloak of being self-absorbed, while lacking in both self-confidence and self-assuredness. Quiet and shy would be an understatement… so I busied myself behind the lens of a camera, taking pictures.  After that trip, I was able to match faces and personalities to the Overseas Relatives. During my teens, there were also a few trips by various Overseas Relatives to Canada.

Later, when I got married, my Family more than doubled when I was embraced by my wife’s family.  Through the following years, our Family also grew to include four lovely nieces.

Then the growth stopped…  My Parents both passed away… and Lorie’s long list of Aunts and Uncles started dwindling.  At the same time, the Overseas Relatives were diminishing in numbers, as my Dad’s two siblings and my Mum’s four siblings slowly succumbed to age and diseases.  Until all were gone, save my Mum’s brother John.

Family - Buchanan, Gray, & Knox Clans - Pitt Meadows - August 2013 - BobBlahBlah.comUncle John turned 80, last April.  He and his wife, Aunt Patricia had been very kind when I went to Liverpool as a teen.  It had been Uncle John who, when I went with my Mum to see my Grandmother, Sybil, for the one and only visit, after 15 minutes, took me for ice cream, as it was apparent (even to my teenage self) that Sybil was more interested in the Wimbledon Tennis results on her TV, than in talking to me, as she had placed a wager on the results.

After Uncle John’s recent birthday, John and Patricia’s son and daughter-in-law – David and Louise – started making arrangements for a family trip. So, this is how six of the Buchanan clan: Uncle John, Aunt Patricia, David, Louise, and grand kids Rebecca and Luke, came to be in Vancouver, for a visit.

From the first greeting at the airport, there was an immediate comfort, warmth and ease talking with all of them…  and lots of laughter amid the “getting to know” everyone.  I have always known that the Buchanan men have a distinct “look”… deep-set eyes and black hair that turns gray early… and I can now “see” myself in Uncle John, David and Luke, and them in me.

It had been 31 years since the last time Uncle John, Aunt Patricia and David had been been to Vancouver… and now Luke is the age David had been, and David was the age John had been on their last visit. Someone saw a photo of their last trip, and said each could pass for the generation that followed.  I am also older than the last time they visited, by 31 years… and I’m sure, no wiser.

But I know that these people stepped off the plane as Overseas Relatives, and are leaving today as Family.

Family is a Relative thing, and today, some of my Family are leaving town.

I wish them a safe journey, and look forward to seeing them again… hopefully soon !!!

#TravelSafe

Surfacing – A Novel

Surfacing - Novel by Natasha Jones and Jim McGregor - BobBlahBlah.comJim McGregor, a long-time Langley citizen and community stalwart has teamed up with Natasha Jones, a Langley reporter to write and publish their first novel: ‘Surfacing’.

Jim sent this note out to a few friends:

If you are looking for some exciting summer time reading, my writing partner, Natasha Jones, long time Langley reporter, and I have published our first Fiction Novel, SURFACING. The books are available now and we will be having a book launch and signing at the Langley City Fire Hall, 5785-203rd St on Saturday, June 22nd. from noon til 3PM.

Jim

From the cover notes:

Jeremy knows about the accident but when his mother, Debbie, finally reveals the truth, he has no idea that he will find his once strong firefighter father still unconscious in an extended care facility. The discovery that, after three years, his father suddenly begins regaining consciousness sets in motion a series of events that will rock many lives.
The family ventures into the rundown Franklin Center, the final destination for all of its patients, where Jeremy’s youthful optimism for his father’s recovery triggers emotions long-buried in the nursing staff, the family and their friends.
Drawing on energy from the spirit of a grandfather he can scarcely remember, Jeremy inspires his father’s medical team to question their conventional medical approach to what is possible. While the family confronts the ramifications of Don’s return to consciousness they discover that more sinister forces are at work. Bent on the destruction of the family’s hope and fueled by maniacal jealousy, one staff member will do anything to sabotage the firefighter’s valiant efforts to recover.

It is available now from Amazon.ca, for Kindle Readers: Surfacing eBook

If you want a great read, and are in Langley this Saturday, drop by the Fire Hall, and check it out !!!

Special Characters

I don’t know about you, but I have a terrible time remembering keyboard shortcuts to make “Special Characters”.

There are only two I can usually remember, just because I use them so much:

Holding down the [ALT] key, and then typing the number 0169, when you release the [ALT] key, results in a Copyright symbol… like this ===>  ©

Holding down the [ALT] key, and then typing the number 0149, results in a heavy black dot symbol… like this ===>  •

Because I can never find a “good” reference chart for the ALT Special Character Codes, I thought I would post it on my Blog, so I always know where it is.

(Hopefully you will find it useful, as well)

SYMBOL

NAME

(ALT +)

Black smiley face

2

Male sign

11

Female sign

12

Sun

15

Up/Down arrow

18

Up arrow

24

Down arrow

25

Right arrow

26

Left arrow

27

Left/right arrow

29

Euro Currency

0128

ƒ

Dutch Florin

0131

Dagger

0134

Double Dagger

0135

List Dot

0149

En-dash

0150

Em-dash

0151

Trademark

0153

¡

Upside down exclamation mark

0161

¢

Cent sign

0162

£

British Pound

0163

¤

Generic currency symbol

0164

¥

Japanese Yen

0165

§

Section Symbol

0167

©

Copyrighted

0169

¬

Not symbol

0172

®

Reserved mark

0174

°

Degree symbol

0176

±

Plus/Minus

0177

µ

Micro

0181

Paragraph Symbol ((Pilcrow)

0182

¼

Fraction 1/4

0188

½

Fraction 1/2

0189

¾

Fraction 3/4

0190

¿

Upside down question mark

0191

÷

Division sign

0247

Service mark

8480

Celsius

8451

Care of

8453

Fahrenheit

8457

Number symbol

8470

Sound recording copyright

8471

Prescription/pharmaceutical symbol

8478

Ω

Ohm

8486

Inverted ohm

8487

Sunshine

9728

Cloud

9729

Umbrella

9730

Snowman

9731

Comet

9732

Star (solid)

9733

Star (outline)

9734

Lightning

9735

Thunderstorm

9736

Sun

9737

Ascending node

9738

Descending node

9739

Conjunction

9740

Opposition

9741

Phone (solid)

9742

Musical single bar note

9742

Phone (outline)

9743

Checkbox

9744

Ballot box

9745

Ballot box with X

9746

Saltire (St. Andrew’s Cross)

9747

Left-pointing index finger (solid)

9754

Right-pointing index finger (solid)

9755

Left-pointing index finger (outline)

9756

Upwards-pointing index finger (outline)

9757

Right-pointing index finger (outline)

9758

Downwards-pointing index finger (outline)

9759

Skull & crossbones

9760

Caution sign

9761

Radioactive sign

9762

Biohazard sign

9763

Caduceus or “Kerykeion”

9764

Ankh

9765

Eastern Christian cross

9766

Chi Rho cross

9767

Patriarchal cross

9768

Greek cross

9769

Crescent moon & star

9770

Farsi symbol

9771

Adi Shakti

9772

Hammer and sickle

9773

Peace sign

9774

Yin & yang

9775

Dharma wheel

9784

Frowning face

9785

Smiley face

9786

Black smiley face

9787

Waxing crescent moon

9789

Waning crescent moon

9790

Mercury

9791

Venus (female symbol)

9792

Earth symbol

9793

Mars (male symbol)

9794

Jupiter

9795

Saturn

9796

Uranus

9797

Neptune

9798

Pluto

9799

Aries

9800

Taurus

9801

Gemini

9802

Cancer

9803

Leo

9804

Virgo

9805

Libra

9806

Scorpio

9807

Sagittarius

9808

Capricorn

9809

Aquarius

9810

Pisces

9811

White king

9812

White queen

9813

White rook

9814

White bishop

9815

White knight

9816

White pawn

9817

Black king

9818

Black queen

9819

Black rook

9820

Black bishop

9821

Black knight

9822

Black pawn

9824

Black spade suit

9824

Red heart suit

9825

Red diamond suit

9826

Black club suit(or shamrock)

9827

Red spade suit

9828

Black heart suit (or valentine)

9829

Black diamond suit

9830

Red club suit

9831

Hot springs

9832

Musical quarter note

9833

Musical eighth note

9834

Musical single bar note

9835

Musical double bar note

9836

Flat note

9837

Natural note

9838

Sharp note

9839

Cut above

9985

Cut here

9986

Cut below

9987

Scissors

9988

Public pay phone

9990

Film reel (tape spool)

9991

Airport/airplane

9992

Envelope/mail/email

9993

Victory sign

9996

Signature/sign here

9997

Pencil diagonal down

9998

Pencil

9999

Pencil diagonal up

10000

Checkmark

10003

Heavy checkmark

10004

Multiplication sign/X

10005

Heavy multiplication sign/X

10006

Ballot X

10007

Heavy ballot X

10008

Latin Roman cross

10013

Latin cross 3D shadow

10014

Latin cross outline

10015

Maltese Cross

10016

Star of David

10017

Quotation mark single comma

10075

Quotation mark single comma

10076

Quotation mark double turned comma

10077

Quotation mark double comma

10078

 

Tim Horton’s Camp Day 2013

Tim Horton's Coffee

Tim Horton’s Coffee

Hard to believe another year has flown by, and this Wednesday, June 5th is Tim Horton’s Camp Day 2013 !!!

(The one day of the year when I *ALWAYS* switch from tea to coffee !!!)

This Wednesday, head to your local participating Tim Horton’s and buy a coffee to support sending kids to Tim Horton’s Camps.  (And check out the fun and different fundraising ideas the individual franchises have come up with, to raise money for this extra special day !!!

If you don’t drink coffee, or would prefer to make your donation online, you can support Camp Day, here: http://www.timhortons.com/ca/en/social/childrens-foundation.php

Here are some details about Camp Day, from the Tim Horton’s website:

What One Cup of Coffee Can Do

Every time a guest buys a coffee at Tim Hortons on Camp Day they will help send more than 16,000 kids – who could otherwise not afford it – on the camping adventure of a lifetime. All children who attend one of the Foundation’s six camps are selected from within the communities where Tim Hortons Restaurants are located. Tim Hortons Restaurant Owners work closely with local youth organizations and schools to select children, between the ages of nine and 12, to attend a 10-day summer camp session or seven day winter camp session.

“It’s overwhelming each year see how our guests come together support Foundation,” says Bill Moir, President, Tim Horton Children’s Foundation. ” On Camp Day, buying cup of coffee and participating the many activities helps contribute to positive change in child’s life. And that’s a good feeling.”

So… hope to see you at the local Tim Horton’s, this Wednesday !!!

(And on Twitter, using the hashtag #CampDay)

 

 

Provincial Election 2013

Whenever an Election (at any Governmental level) rolls around, I always think of my Dad.

He was a life-long radio producer (BBC Radio, United Church Broadcasting, CKWX & CBC) who LOVED the politics of the day.

I’m not sure what he would think of today’s brand of politics, but that isn’t what this post is about.

He covered the BC Legislature for many years, and got to know and respect many of the MLAs.

One of the things he respected most, was how members of different parties could go hammer and tongs at one another in the “House”, and go to a bar after session, and continue the discussion, to try to work to a reasonable and acceptable compromise, that moved the issue at hand, forward.  Now, it didn’t always work that way, but generally, it wasn’t for a lack of trying.

Today, the process seems to be just as much about scoring points against your opponent, as getting the work done.

I wonder how much of that is because there is an “us or them” mentality that seems to have been adopted from US politics.

When I was young, there were Conservative, Liberal, Social Credit and NDP MLAs.

Every vote counts | BobSongs Musings | BobBlahBlah.com

Today, Provincially, we have (apart from a few Independent MLAs) a two party system.

I don’t know that it wouldn’t be a good idea to have different people, with different ideas, join in the discussion.

It certainly can’t make things in Victoria any LESS functional.

And yes, under the current system, which doesn’t allow for representational voting, that may cause some vote splitting.

So what ? *

I have always believed that I should vote for the individual who will best represent me, at whatever Governmental level they are campaigning for.

As I’m working with Elections BC, I’ve already cast my vote for the individual that I feel is best suited to work for my needs.  In this case, they are from one of the two major parties.

If I lived in Maple Ridge-Mission or Mission-Abbotsford, I would be voting for individuals from OUTSIDE the two major parties.

When discussing issues, people don’t generally see things in black and white… there are a LOT of different colours in between. (Including us Grays)

I think it will be interesting to see the results of the election.  Hopefully we will get a Legislature that is made up of many voices… from different parties… and having different ideas.

In that case, the different groups would have to work together, to find common ground, if there is to be progress.

And be a little bit more like the Legislature my Dad worked at…  where opponents were still adversaries, but had a common goal, to get things done, as well as they could be done.

My fingers are crossed !!!

Please remember to get out and vote on Election Day !!!

 

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

* So what…

I know some folks may say that I’m “ignoring the big picture” when I brush aside any discussion of vote splitting and concerns about votes “not counting”, if you don’t vote for one of the two major parties.

1) Anyone who votes isn’t throwing away your vote.

2) I believe I am looking at a longer time frame than most, because, in this way, people will increasingly see that the “first past the post” system, works to support a two party system, rather than reflecting the diversity of voices of the general public. Hopefully we will reach the tipping point on this issue, soon. (You can read more on the first past the post voting system, on Wikipedia , here)

3) The sooner that people realize that the current voting system doesn’t reflect the will of the people, and only serves to maintain an “us or them” system, the faster the discussion can begin about what system would better reflect the diversity of opinions that our Province and Nation actually has.  (In this area, I am not claiming to know enough to speak to which system would be best, or the details of how it SHOULD work.  I voted YES to the Single Transferable Vote referendum, a few years back, but not enough people understood how the system worked, so it was defeated, but I hope that the discussion will continue. (You can read more on the Single Transferable Vote system, on Wikipedia , here)

Through discussing what voting system would work better, and looking at other examples of Voting reform that have been implemented around the world, our Governments can only get more responsive and more accountable, as they are elected to reflect the many diverse voices and viewpoints that the public have.

 

 

Friends In Need Food Bank’s Most Wanted

Yesterday, as I was shopping at our local Save-On Foods, I came across a small laminated notice on the shelf, under the Peanut Butter.

The sign was small enough, and the print tiny enough, that it was almost invisible, amongst the bright and gaudy labels on the jars, but as I bent to read it, I thought about how blessed my wife and I are… able to go to the grocery store, and be able to buy whatever we want and need.  The list is from the Friends In Need Food Bank, (supporting Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge) and was a reminder of their most wanted (and needed) items:

  • Campbell’s Soup / Chunky Soup
  • Side dishes (Hearty Noodles, Ramen Noodles)
  • Canned Fish or Meat (salmon, tuna, ham)
  • Prego. Pasta Sauce or Canned Tomatoes
  • Meal in a Tin (Chunky. Chili, stew, pork and beans, ravioli)
  • School Snacks (Goldfish)
  • Pasta & RIce
  • Peanut Butter
  • Meal replacement drinks (Boost)

Friends In Need - Food Bank in Maple Ridge & Pitt Meadows - BobBlahBlah.com

If you are blessed to have enough food on your table, then the next time you are shopping, why not grab a few of these basics, and share your good fortune with your local food bank ?

If you don’t have the extra money, but you have some time, most Food Banks can always use volunteers.  Why not stop by ?

Or, if you have a few extra dollars, why not share with the food bank, so they can purchase the supplies they need ?

However you help, the folks at the Food Bank are always grateful !!!

 

 

Pink Shirt Day

Today is Pink Shirt Day.

A day, dedicated to wearing pink shirts as a way of drawing attention to the issue of bullying.

You can find out more details about Pink Shirt Day, and how it started, on their website: pinkshirtday.ca

Over the past few days, there have been a number of people in the media, who have asked the question: “Does ‘Pink Shirt Day’ help ?”

The obvious and concise answer, in my opinion, is a solid and resounding “YES !!!”

pink-shirt-day-400

I was lucky enough to go to Elementary and Secondary Schools where, except for one occasion, I can’t remember encountering bullying.

However, I do know that my childhood and early teen years were a time of change, and a period where I felt alone… isolated… and vulnerable.

I was short… gawky… quiet… not popular and wore glasses.   As it was, I largely just kept to myself, and tried not to draw attention to myself.  Had I gone to a different school, or had my school had a different environment, I would have been a choice victim for bullies.

And I would have been in trouble.

 

Later in life, I encountered another set of circumstances and a time where the place I worked for 21 years had to close… I started a new job… I lost both my parents… and we moved… all in the period of four years.  At that time, I became entangled in the quicksand of depression.  It was an all-consuming, physically-painful period… where I searched for a way out of the darkness, and back into the light of “normalcy”.  It was a tough go.  But I made a conscious decision, that was critical (in my opinion) to my eventual success… I shared my problem.

I told friends, family and co-workers that I was having a tough time, and was struggling with depression.  I took my boss aside, and let him know that I was having a tough time.  I relied on my wife more than I usually do.  And the thing that surprised me, was the steady stream of those same folk, who, privately, would come up, one by one, and confide that they were going through the same thing… but alone, privately and isolated… and how great it was to have someone to talk to.

They rarely did… but they benefited from the knowledge that they were not alone in their struggles.

 

A few years later, I worked with an Organization helping parents of kids with eating disorders to understand their children’s journey… and the most impactful lesson I came out of that endeavor with, was their catch phrase: “You Are Not Alone”… which is why I wrote this song.

So, to ask if talking about something makes it better ?  Certainly…  Undoubtedly…  Absolutely… Yes.

It does not make it go away… Only the strength of a society where bullying is unacceptable can stop that.

But the first step is talking about it.

And so today, I wear a pink shirt… and I talk about it.

 

 

Upside Downton Abbey

As everyone who follows me on Twitter knows (and if you aren’t a follower, why dontcha ???) I am a big Downton Abbey fan.

We got hooked, and wait with bated breath for each episode… trying desperately to avoid the spoilers on Social Media.

And, today, I came across the Sesame Street version of Downton Abbey:  “Upside Downton Abbey” featuring the dowager Countess and Carson.

Enjoy !!!

 

 

Castle – A Great TV Show

Various sources have been nattering on at me about Nathan Fillion, for a long time.

A while back, there was a promotion at a store, where I got a free Castle Season 1 DVD.

As a mid-season replacement, the Castle TV Show came in, with a short season.

Being sick with a cold, I blasted through those ten shows in a mini-marathon that left me wanting more.

For those unfamiliar, Castle is the story of Richard Castle, a mystery writer, who, feeling there are no surprises left with his detective character, kills him off… but then is struck with writer’s blocks.   As the book is published, Castle is drawn into a “real-life” murder, where the victims are killed in manners that resemble those in his books.  In this way, Castle meets Detective Kate Beckett, and upon successfully concluding the case, Castle asks the Mayor (a fan of the writer) to be allowed to continue “tagging along” with Detective Beckett and her team, under the guise of research, but also because the lead characters are developing feelings for one another.

TV Show - Castle - BobBlahBlah.com

 

If you are a fan of smart-aleck, Rockford Files-type crime dramas where the character is startled and offended when punched, this is right up your alley.

I didn’t find it surprising to find out that one of the show-runners called Stephen J Cannell “Uncle Steve”

If you haven’t discovered Castle, you should check it out !!!