Thursday, September 24, 2015

Sometimes & Something

Sometimes the absolute best thing is a movie. No question. Add popcorn and lots of butter. And a blanket, a pillow, chips, some chocolate. Or in a theatre with a crowd, each and all fixated, the light flickering in our eyes. Sometimes it’s all a person really needs to feel whole again.

So Hollywood! Stop making the same bad movie again and again. Sure, what makes movies great is very subjective and yet I believe that a truly great, unforgettable movie must contain at least ten of the following things:

1.       a surprise
2.       some kissing
3.       a character with lots of good and a little bad too, a character to like and an unlikeable character (and sometimes maybe they switch places)
4.       a laugh out loud moment or a moment that breaks your heart (or both)
5.       something one’s eyes want to hang on to
6.       somewhere and something lovely and somewhere and something loathly
7.       something on fire (but not necessarily any smoke)
8.       something simple, something complex
9.       something to feed or stretch or snap the imagination
10.   some music and sound effects and special effects and when and only when it’s really needed: some silence.
11.   someone’s eyes yelling and someone’s eyes whispering
12.   something to absorb and something to reject
13.   something uncomfortable
14.   someone so so so determined to fix what or whom is broken
15.   something shocking, something soothing (shivers and thumps)
16.   sincerity, honesty, vulnerability
17.   an advance and a retreat, an attack and a surrender
18.   a quotable quote
19.   something that doesn’t belong, something not seen before
20.   a cow but only if there’s a twister too (aka something impossible to forget)
21.   something to think about when it’s over
22.   something to talk about afterwards
23.   a mirror
24.   a mistake…

But mostly,
      25. an unforgettable movie must have a partner to share it with. 

Sunday, September 20, 2015


Basic landscape. Notice the foreground, the middleground, the background. Picture yourself navigating from birth through life to death like walking through a landscape: further away from one and closer to another, all the while perspective shifting. And suddenly you stop, that horizon line still so far away, or so it seems, and wonder, did I go anywhere at all? Did I achieve anything? Am I lost? Will I ever get there?

Yesterday, I attended a funeral for a lovely woman I did not know particularly well. And yet, she made a strong impression. Yesterday her friends cried, her brother gave a funny and poignant eulogy and, I imagine, her elderly parents felt like they were silently drowning. Two months ago they celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary with her.

Work colleagues, only periodically did our paths cross. And yet, I noticed she was some of my absolutely favourite things: humble, respectful, witty, encouraging, a good listener. And above all, a dedicated teacher.

The card from her celebration of life reads, "successful is the person who has lived well, laughed often and loved much, who has gained the respect of children, who leaves the world better than they found it, who has never lacked appreciation for the Earth's beauty, who never fails to look for the best in others or give the best of themselves."

Exactly. Imagine our lives are like landscapes. And wouldn't it be something if we painted these little lives with purpose? So someday, when others really examine them, they could use these landscapes to find their own way, to find direction? Now that's a legacy.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

And then Autumn.

Go ahead Autumn:

Slip, flutter, plummet, tumble, dive.

Let leaves leave.

I choose adapt. I choose cope. I choose thanks. Because a starting over is still a starting.

Bring wind. Bring calm. Bring change. Replace past with present. (But let me miss the past a little while too.)

And then Autumn:

Thursday, September 10, 2015


My Dad would be in his late 70s now. I can’t imagine how grumpy he'd be. On a scale of irritated to livid, he was all of them some days in those last several years. (As I age, I aim to avoid grumpy old fart syndrome.) Despite this, there have been times in this last decade when I missed him like a little kid. Which is odd, because as a little kid, I never missed him. He was always working. It’s just the way it was. I saw him at supper time. Sometimes. Occasionally, we would watch TV together. Mostly though, I watched TV while he slept. In my teen years he would take me for a drive. I’m fairly certain now that he was trying to fix something about me because we were absolutely and completely different in almost every way. Plus, I was nothing like his other sons. It worried him. I enjoyed those drives though. And depending on my mood, I learned to do two things: either jack up his blood pressure by broaching taboo topics or just nod so as to avoid disappointing him so much.

In my adult years I learned the mature thing was to steer the subject away from the grumpy stuff. It didn’t always work. Eventually, certain topics were totally banned:
a.       politics
b.      politicians
c.       political ideology
d.      various Fords that had betrayed him.

Not long before he died he and I installed a screen door together and when we finished he said, "There. Now we can quit fighting." That surprised me. Where did he get that idea? We weren't fighting; we were just disagreeing. After thinking about it for a while I realized the truth but I didn’t have the heart to tell him: he was mostly fighting with himself. Despite grumpy periods, my Dad taught me things I still think about and I’m certain he would find it silly and unfortunate which things actually stuck with me:

  • Pepper puts hair on your chest. So does sauerkraut.
  • If you pick your nose and eat it, flies will grow in your stomach. (My favourite.)
  • Women should not be skinny.
  • Travel.
  • Fly.
  • If it’s truly a good Western, at some point a woman should punch a man.
  • You don’t need a drink.
  • You're not as good as your brothers. 
  • A brand new vehicle is probably a waste of money.
  • Insurance is a scam.
  • Don’t be mean to girls.
  • Driving fast is worth the risk.
  • Some people don’t pay their bills but you always will.
  • Give your kids whatever they want.
  • Never let go of your fishing rod.
  • Help your neighbours, even the ones who are idiots.
  • Hard work is all there is.

At least for some of these lessons, thank you Dad. 

Monday, September 7, 2015

Things one should outgrow:

fretting about birthdays.

One of my friends turned 50 last week. I watched him interact with all his friends and family; he shared his vodka, ate some cake, played with his granddaughter, told some stories, laughed a lot.

Getting old? So what? No whining. No grumping. Put your mouth guard in a cup with some cleaner, adjust your attitude, and carry on.

"There is no old age. There is, as there always was, just you." ~Carol Matthau
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