Monday, December 31, 2012

Things one should outgrow:

feeling pressure to party on New Years Eve.

#stayingathome
#electricfireplace
#movies
#wife&I
#happyanniversary

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Yearlies

What art awaits?
Inspired by Rude Cactus and his "yearlies," I included more than my favourite reads this year. Why? "Art doesn't have to matter to a lot of people to matter a lot." ~Jeb Dickerson

I always apply the same criteria to art regardless of the medium: sincerity. That difficult-to-explain but easy-to-feel genuineness always affects me. And, for me, some linger.

My favourite 2012 reads:
-Quiet by Susan Cain
-Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon
-Blood Meridian by Cormac MacCarthy
-What it Is by Lynda Barry
-You are Not So Smart by David McRaney

My favourite 2012 movie experiences (I haven't seen many yet):
-Tree of Life
-Being There
-The Grey
-Drive
-Bridesmaids
-Looper (late entry)

My favourite 2012 television experiences:
-Game of Thrones
-American Horror Story

Songs that moved me again and again this year:
-Gold in Them Hills Ron Sexsmith
-U.F.O. Coldplay
-Abide with Me Emeli Sande
-Garden Noah Gundersen
-In My Veins Andrew Belle & Erin McCarley

Friday, December 28, 2012

Monday, December 24, 2012

Things one should outgrow:

worrying about the perfect gift.

This is a photo of a gift under our tree from my teen son. It's difficult to tell from the photo but upon close examination, I'd say it looks like it was wrapped by a lobster. But who cares? I don't care how gifts are wrapped. I don't care about gifts. I care about the people attached to them. They are the gifts: my son, my daughter, my wife. Our families. Our friends.

"The only gift is a portion of thyself." ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Things that deserve the stink-eye:


I did something very, very stupid. Okay, not very, very stupid, just regular stupid. Plus a little bit more than that. One might call it “guy stupid.” But my heart was in the right place. Everything went wrong quite innocently.

Available here.
Here’s what I did: I bought some Christmas gifts. In September.

That’s pretty organized isn’t it? One might say exemplary time-management. I suspect that I was in the one percentile of all men who bought Christmas gifts in September of this year. Whoa. According to my pea-brain, that’s a big deal. Like maybe an on-the-news kind of big deal. Okay that’s probably idiotic but the truth is this: I will never, ever do that again.

Before I explain why, I will say that I did not do this because I’m attempting to be a reformed last-minute-shopper. I’m totally ok with last-minute shoppers but that was never really my style. I’m more of an all-at-once shopper. Mostly I like to “get it over with a few weeks before Christmas.” And by get it over with I mean I prefer to complete my entire Christmas shopping in one single day, a sort-of marathon shopfest. Yup, I’m a dreamer: this never seems to work. So this year, when I suddenly realized that I was in the perfect place to shop for some quality items that members of my family would probably appreciate, I did just that. Within fifteen minutes I bought several gifts for them without being caught, along with some decoy items for myself which would explain the bag I carried out of that gem of a store. And do you want to know how I felt? Proud. Smug even.

As the saying goes, “prideth goeth beforeth the falleth” (close enough) because here’s the thing: when I returned home I hid those purchases and now, three months later, after much searching (swearing), I have no idea, absolutely no idea where they are. Plus there’s one more glitch: I can’t quite remember what I bought so I don’t know what I’m looking for. Sheesh.

And so this is exactly why guys leave their shopping until the last minute. 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Why can't we see that?

The little prince's drawing demonstrates
how blind we grown-ups can be.
Sunday: A few minutes ago I watched my teen son through my office window. As I write this he's down the street skating at our local neighbourhood outdoor rink. It's a warm winter Sunday afternoon here and watching him, I noticed someone else is skating there now too, and together they are shooting a puck around.

Saturday: Yesterday, I visited a store to buy a gift, and the boss and his employees surprised me by offering to assemble it while I did my other shopping. I know the boss, he's a good guy and sometimes we talk about our Scottish heritage plus our daughters went to school together. I returned later to thank them and pay my bill.

Friday: After a great day at work, a friend asked me if I'd heard about the school shooting in Connecticut. I hadn't. A group of us sat together in disbelief, frustration, confusion, and then in debate and then finally, in silent bewildered respect for those teachers and those children. Later, I had my first migraine. I hope it's my last. Struggling through that pain, I thought about my brother and his daily battle with cancer, what he endures and how he copes and how thankful I am for his unconditionally devoted wife and how much I wish we could be together and how much I wish there was something more I could do. And then my wife joined me where I sat in the dark and she gently massaged my hands; her touch soothed the ache in my head and she sat with me while I endured essentially nothing in comparison to what my brother faces every day. I also thought about those grieving in Connecticut and how my wife's pure compassion was so soothing and transforming for me.

Compassion: even outside of our closest, trusted relationships it's the very thing that joins us and also dissolves what divides us, strangers or not.

People: dissolve what divides you from others. Start small in the biggest, biggest place: your own family. Leave some compassion here and there in your life too. On a skating rink, in a store, at work.

And leaders: we need a society based on compassion.  Compassionate health care. Compassionate use of power. Compassionate policy. Preventative compassion. Is it really that difficult? Is it really that complicated? Isn't that what you want too? Isn't that what we all want? Isn't this what we need to do to protect our children? Why can't we see that?

"Life has taught us that love does not consist in gazing at each other but in looking outward together in the same direction." ~Antoine St-Exupery in The Little Prince

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Dear Winter,

Enough already?

How are you? Wait. Let ME answer that. You’re enjoying yourself, aren’t you? This is all very entertaining for you, isn’t it?

Remember last year my old friend? Last year your heart just wasn’t in it, was it? Last year you phoned it in, didn’t you? Don’t try to deny it. Essentially you called in sick. Repeatedly. In fact, you took a vacation. And you deserved one. After years of slapping us here and there with snow and ice and sleet and freezing rain and so on, you really did. But this year, you seem a lot different. Oh sure, some days you’re still sweet yet I think it’s important to let you know that, overall, you’ve changed. You really have.

I’d say you got your mojo back. Yup, you sure did. The word “hammer” comes to mind. I don’t really want to point any fingers but what did Edmonton ever do to you? You might want to talk to someone about that. Here in Northern Alberta, it’s like you’re toying with us. Bone snapping wind chill one day, stick-your-tongue-out fluffy flakes the next, followed by a week without the sun. One day it’s 1-2 centimeters, the next it’s 5-10. One day it’s dry bare roads, the next it’s like four-by-fouring down the highway. I found it especially entertaining driving home the other night on snow-packed icy roads through a blizzard and then guess what? The snow stopped long enough for me to spot a grader. In. The. Ditch. It’s a special, special day when graders hit the ditch. I’d like to say I remained confident for the rest of that drive but the truth is my knees became grape jelly. But Winter, despite that nuttiness, I did indeed make it home again. What do I have to complain about right? (Actually shoveling. Every day. That I can complain about too. Just sayin.)

Oh Winter. I love you. I love skidooing and sledding and this barely veiled sarcasm but sometimes Winter, sometimes, I want to karate chop you in the neck.

Sincerely,
Everyone

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Monday, December 3, 2012

I have.


The awkward. The uncomfortable. The moments you want to just shake off and pretend they never happened. 

Sheesh eh?

Have you ever bent down to listen more carefully to some adorable child who then immediately open-mouth sneezed in your face? I have.

Has someone ever woken you with a phone call but you assured them repeatedly that you had indeed been awake for several hours and by the time you finally move on to the point of the phone call no one wants to talk anymore because the lie hangs there like someone just opened up a big old container of egg salad? I have.

Have you ever had real, honest conversation with someone and then referred to that someone by the wrong name? Yup. I have.

Have you ever caught a ride with someone and then discovered they drive like a toddler’s attention span but it would be impolite to say something so you grit your teeth and gasp only on the inside? I have.

Have you ever eaten the garnish? I have.

Have you ever wasted precious time obsessing about your own stupidity? I have.

Here’s the thing: not experiencing the moments that you could have done without would mean not experiencing the moments you could have done without. Where’s the fun in that? 

Just. Enjoy. Life. More.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Quick. Think. Write.

Quick. Think. What do you hate?

I hate...turkeys, actually no, truthfully, I'm afraid of them...Monday mornings, no, not consistently, in fact, rarely...can't think of anything...can't think...oh wait, I detest arrogance, condescending behaviour...blue cheese (yup, I think I actually do hate blue cheese)...I don't know...wait, I hate faraway noises I can't discern (I have this Sherlock Holmes need to find the source)...my Kobo (I don't hate it; I just prefer real books)...uh...um...I hate...error Code 43...and when they put raisins in chocolate...kinda...I hate telemarketers (but everybody deserves a job and I don't have to answer the phone)...I can't think of anything...mowing the lawn...sometimes...I really hate bills (but that's pointless, they gotta be paid)...I know: racism. I hate racism. And contempt. So essentially, I hate:

1. hatred.

I believe one's things-I-hate-list should be much much shorter than one's things-I-love-list:

1. creativity
2. brainstorming
3. thinking differently
4. turnip fries
5. serendipity
6. my kids
7. my wife
8. Scottish chocolate shortbread (my wife just brought a box home and they sound sort of fancy, but here's bubble burster: she bought them from a gas station, yup, not exactly gourmet and they're 28% saturated fat so they're basically chocolate butter). Whoa...chocolate butter...what a great idea.
9. Paula Deen
10. writing
11. blogs
12. art
13. stories...did I ever tell you about the time my son and I caught a bunch of frogs (of various sizes) and put them in an aquarium in his room and everyday one or more disappeared and we were so confused because the aquarium had a cover but we searched all over my son's room for them (no easy feat considering he has been a hoarder in training for years now) but did not find any frog carcasses until one day-one moment-one sudden second when we both realized at the same time: frogs are freaking cannibals?!
14. #zombiefrogs
15. hashtags
16. setting my timer to 15 minutes to write stream of consciousness and then trying to finish my list before the--

Monday, November 26, 2012

Things that deserve the stink-eye:

#ireallyappreciatethepassiveaggressiveCANCELoption
#becausewhetheripressokorcancelmyportableharddriveisstilltoast
#donotbuyportableharddrivesatwalmart
#whatever
#datapocalypse

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Every answer?


Some friends and I were talking not long ago and the discussion led to this: what are the most important decisions one must make in his or her life?

That stumped me for a while. But being stumped is like toffee candy for me. It’s sweet and I just keep on chewing on it. Thus, after some time, I chose ten important questions:

1.      Whom do I choose to marry?
2.      What will I do with my life?
3.      Will I choose to have children? If I have children, what will I teach them?
4.      What do I value?
5.      What do I believe?
6.      What’s truly important in life?
7.      What’s worth changing in my life?
8.      What’s worth keeping the same?
9.      Who am I?
10.  What will be my legacy?

So serious eh? For a while I debated including, “how much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?” Or why do squirrels steal golf-balls  (Think about that: it’s a weird mind-boggling fact.) Eventually though, I decided to focus on the more serious life-changing subject matters. Thus my list felt mostly complete, but then I had to push it further and decided to prioritize them.

Stumped again. Worse in fact. Think about that for a minute: which decision is most important?

There are so many ways to debate them. Marrying the right person has made a huge, huge difference in my life. So has having children. But the quest to answer who I am has led to terrific opportunities (although I haven’t fully answered that question yet.) But what I choose to value and what I choose to believe answered several other questions. And then I wondered something else: is every answer my legacy?

I haven’t completely decided on that but my heart keeps saying yes. Yes. And that leads to another question: what do I do for others?

“You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.” John Bunyon

Monday, November 12, 2012

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Things that deserve the stink-ears:

far-away-noises in the middle of the night that mess with one's mind when it's much too early (and irritating) to be AWAKE!

Interior Monologue: [flipping over in bed for the second time] What is that noise? [flipping again] What is that? [big sigh] It's like...it's like...[listening carefully] it's like there's a bathtub in my neighbour's yard...and it's empty...[attempts to shut it out and return to sleep but hears it again]...and inside the tub there's an otter...[flips over]...an otter?...[listening carefully again]...yup, an otter...and he's, what is he doing?...he's scootching his bum...yup, he's scootching his bum back and forth, back and forth, back and forth...bathtub scootching squeaking noises [furrowed brow]...scootching and scootching...and yup, that little bastard is smiling at me while he's scootching and scootching [visualizes uzi]...what is he doing and why does he hate me?...scootching and scootching and scootching...[riddles little otter with bullet holes followed by a momentary pang of guilt and then finally, thankfully, slumber].

Monday, November 5, 2012

Things one should never outgrow:

word-choice combinations (and lemon meringue cookies).

#mutantmarshmallows
#larddollops
#whencottoncandybarfs
#whencloudspoop
#whensnowsneezes
#wetwadsoftoiletpaper

#looksbadtastesgood
#likemostthingsicook

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Things one should never outgrow:

tomfoolery. (I found these "teeth" in one of my slippers this morning.)

#"tom"akamyson
#revenge
#thewalkingdeadwerehere
#dopeoplestillsaytomfoolery?

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Sometimes

#day1
#idonotlookthisunfatinperson
#wishicoulddomorethanjustthis

I’ve never had a moustache. Unless you count the goatee I sported for a few years. Early on in that questionable experiment someone told me it looked like a gopher was trying to swallow my mouth. I decided to buy some grooming equipment after that.

And I grew a patchy beard one December while I was in University to protest exams. It didn’t have any effect. And for about a month I had a small soul patch. But I wasn’t cool enough to pull that off. Mostly I’ve been clean-shaven my whole life.

Not this month though. It’s Movember, the month devoted to all things facial hair to bring awareness, discussion and support to men’s physical and mental health issues.

My first experience with facial hair and men’s health was my Dad. The guy probably had sideburns when he was thirteen. But he ignored his health. Religiously. Over the course of his life he avoided the doctor whether he nearly sliced his thumb off or crushed his toes flat. He would have thought Movember was for ding-dongs. It caught up with him though. If he had lived longer, I think he would have changed his mind. I’d like to imagine him growing his beard with me this month. And that, I think, might be the real point of Movember.

Guys: it’s true we all respect the women’s health movement. We embrace the pink campaign with our dearest daughters and wives and aunts and mothers and sisters and grandmothers. And guys: it’s true we may feel too uncomfortable with vulnerability to really feel worthy of a month focused on us and our health. But that seems like a missed opportunity for solidarity and friendship with each other because let’s face it: we shouldn’t feel alone in this. Sometimes only another guy can really understand.

To be honest though, I’m not growing my beard this month for all men. Sorry. It’s just for one man this time actually. A really good man. A good man with cancer.

I don't know what else to say about that. The beard will have to speak for me because sometimes there are just no words. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Things that deserve the stink-eye:








After several years of marriage things change. Things evolve. Attention shifts. Priorities get, uh, reprioritized. Eventually, some wives simply replace their husbands. Sometimes this happens without much warning. Sometimes the guy doesn’t even know. Sometimes maybe a guy doesn’t even notice because he still lives in the house with his wife.  At least not at first. And then one day he has an inkling...that something is different. And then a month passes and he has another inkling and then he’s sure, something has definitely changed. It happens. And now it’s happened to me. My wife replaced me. And here’s the skinny on my wife’s new husband:
      1.      He’s skinny.
2.      Sleek even.
3.      Attractive.
4.      Intelligent.
5.      Convenient.
6.      Hardly has any needs.
7.      Is easy to manipulate.
8.      He communicates in multiple ways.
9.      Is popular and can do way awesome stuff.
10.  Doesn’t care about the remote control.
11.  Doesn’t eat her food.
12.  He’s touchy-feely.
13.  He’s interactive.
14.  He does whatever she wants.
15.  Encourages her to shop.
16.  Everyone gathers around when he’s in the room.
17.  He’s so fantastic, my wife’s friends are jealous.
18.  Even my friends think he’s several levels cooler than I am.
19.  He goes “ding” just to mock me.
20. And just this morning, my wife looked at me all dreamy and said, "I'm in love with my iPad."

Sunday, October 21, 2012

From Somewhere.

When my children were just itty they would hold onto my finger instead of my hand.

I forgot about that.

I forgot for a while. And then I talked with an old friend today and she told me about being a little girl with her Dad and how very tall he was and how she would hold onto his finger. His one finger was enough for her little hand. And this bonded them in a variety of ways over the years. Some touching, some silly.

Thanks to my friend, it's suddenly quite easy to recall my own similar memories. My kids did the same thing. First as infants. That first grasp. That first interdependence, that first fastening. And then when they were learning to walk they held my fingers for balance. And then, like a fool, I let them go to walk on their own. Precious distance stretched between us. But I had to. We all have to. No other options are provided. Yet thankfully, some connection remained.

Ever think about the threads between us all? I like to ponder that. We don't really know what memories bonds us. We don't get to decide how others remember it, or us. We influence that dynamic but not much more. It develops organically. And worse yet, threads are fragile. They're itty too. Practically invisible. Sometimes forgotten until the thread is tugged. Or we can't stop the damn thing from fraying. Or maybe it snaps. But I sometimes wonder...is the thread stronger than we are? It just might be. Because when those we love leave our lives, when threads bond them to others and threads fix them to other places or even when we lose them, those threads remain. Right now, it seems to me, they must be stronger than we realize because right now, right now, I can still feel their pull from somewhere. From somewhere.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Wayfaring

"The wideness of the horizon has to be inside us, cannot be anywhere but inside us, otherwise what we speak about is geographic distances." ~Ella Maillart

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Things one should never outgrow:

old favourites.

#mchammer
#vanillaice
#johncougar
#platinumblonde
#goodtasteinbadmusic

#happybirthdaymonthgrant&jennifer
#foranyoneunder25thesearecassettes



Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Gas Pains











Getting cheap gas in Edmonton in thirty simple steps:
  1. Need gas.
  2. Be cheap.
  3. Know where the cheapest gas is.
  4. Almost see the cheapest gas station in the world is up ahead but hmmm, how to get there?
  5. Remark to passengers that once, it was easy to get there, before Edmonton doubled in size (or so it seems).
  6. Turn too soon on the wrong street.
  7. Wait for a train.
  8. Wait for train.
  9. Wait.
  10. Drive for twelve centimeters then encounter construction delays.
  11. Eventually turn north because if I were a crow I’d be there already (it’s the right direction).
  12. Know I am correct about this direction because, after all, I am a man.
  13. Doubt myself.
  14. Encounter more construction.
  15. Encounter police lights.
  16. Encounter a parade.
  17. Double take.
  18. Shake head. A PARADE?!!!! Who gets lost and ends up in a parade?!
  19. Realize we are the kind of people who get lost and end up in a parade.
  20. Wonder why the crap is there a parade on a Saturday afternoon on a street in the industrial section in North Edmonton? Are we being punked?
  21. Make like a snail (and remain pretty much motionless for an eternity).
  22. Blood begins to stew.
  23. Glare at parade as it gets off the road.
  24. Realize that in order to get onto the correct side of the highway we will have to travel the opposite direction thus travel 35 kilometers to find opportunity to turn around (pretty much true).
  25. Find exit to gas station and wait for light then realize more than 45 minutes have passed since we began this 10 minute adventure.
  26. Follow world’s smallest series of signs through what is basically a mini-golf-course-type-route to find the street we need.
  27. Cry a little bit.
  28. Can’t see it. Still can’t decide which road to take. Begin vibrating.
  29. Finally find gas station and of course, there it was all along, on 666 Hell Street.
  30. Hang head in realization that our attempt to get cheap gas meant we almost ran out of gas.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Friday, September 28, 2012

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Make do.


In case you don’t know and you’re into useless information, I was tying my shoe the other day and suddenly the aglet popped off. What’s an aglet you say? It’s that tiny little plastic sheath at the end of the shoelace that prevents the string from fraying. Seems insignificant, doesn’t it? Some people may not even notice. But no. Aglets mean much. There’s no way to get that miniature contraption back onto a shoelace. Without the aglet, a shoelace has only so much time left.

It may seem ridiculous to some that this event could even be categorized as an event; one couldn’t be blamed for mentioning the whole thing in parentheses. I understand that. But for a tiny moment, at my backdoor one morning before work, the whole experience felt like the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. Why? Because I don’t need another reminder of how fleeting things are; I know I don’t know how much time I have left. No one does.

With the morning sun streaming in on a windy autumn day just before the workday begins, it’s strange to think about the end of something. Sunrises shouldn’t be like that. Nor sunsets. Yet sometimes that idea creeps into my heart like those autumn leaves rush in before I can close the door at the end of day in my vain attempt to keep change on the other side of the door. Sigh.

And yet, my string remains mostly unfrayed. It may not be the same as it once was but so far, something is holding it together. It suffices. My shoes still walk me where I need to go every day. So far. That little aglet is teaching me that sometimes there’s no correcting what went wrong; we just have to tie our shoes and keep going. Make do with unfairness. Make do with time, whatever that means. Make do.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Wordfuse

We all go a little nuts now and again but some people take berserk to a new level aka ├╝berserk. See The Real Housewives, Amanda Bynes and Dina Lohan on Dr. Phil. #wth?
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