Tag Archives: Dance

Ramble: Canada Day (Dominion Day)

Here in the Great White North it is the celebration of creating a nation. The official launch of the experiment called Canada was launched: July 1st, 1867.

Now the reality is nations don’t just arise from spontaneous birth. One day nothing – and the next day BOOM – “look honey it’s a baby country. She will be awesome when she grows up!”

No. Political unions arise out of planned negotiations and random choices. This land was here before it was called the “Dominion of Canada’. This land was here before human’s even existed. This land has a history that begins before those of us who are living ever breathed the air of planet earth; before humans battled each other to lay down a set of values, laws, and government.

This land does not belong to any human, first and foremost it belongs to itself as part of Mother Earth.

I ended up here by accident. My parents fleeing the turmoil of 1956 Hungary, where refugees seeking shelter. Refugees looking for a place where they could top looking over their shoulders. A new home where they could stop worrying that the wrong sentence would get them arrested, imprisoned. Killed.

They had no idea where they were headed when they bundled up their two young children – a daughter about to have her 5th birthday, and their son not even 6-months old. They packed one small suitcase and walked across a frozen river into what was Yugoslavia (now Croatia). They became homeless.

The next 6 months they lived in refugee camps, while other governments made offers for a permanent home. My parents had talked about Belgium, and then the Canadian government offered them a home in Canada. They arrived by ship, landing in Quebec City, Canada in July 1957.

They became sharecroppers on tobacco farms near Barrie, Ontario. Investing in the planting, working the fields, maintaining the buildings and equipment. Learning English from the other immigrants and refugees around them. The promise of an autumn reward making them work hard in the summer heat. Eventually my parents realized there was no pot of gold at the end of the tobacco crop rainbow.

Somewhere in there another son was born. Then I was born on Canadian soil.

My father had always been handy with tools  and fixing things. He began working as a handyman, and then as a carpenter. Eventually, in 1964, my parents saved enough to buy a small run-down farm from a local farmer and landowner – Mr. Smalley. He held the mortgage because no bank would give my parents a mortgage back in those days.

My father had a love for the land and tried to be a farmer – raising pigs, chickens, and geese. And it never really worked out. There would a good few years, followed by a horrible year. He had to keep working as a carpenter. He was a good carpenter, and so he became a site foreman for a small construction company. He earned a good wage, but ne was never wealthy.  He never had a new car, and our clothes were mostly bought from thrift shops.

My mother stayed home with her 5 children, running the household. Keeping the livestock thriving. Planting massive vegetable gardens that feed us well through the summer, and throughout the winter. She canned the bounty, so that the pantry was always filled with pickles, relish, and canned fruit.  I loved her pickled beets, and I have never been able to duplicate the flavour of the ones she made from the beets she grew.

So what is my point? Nothing really. Just a reflection on what it means for me to be here in Canada. This is a nation built on compromise and acceptance. It is a vast and complex thriving community of distinct cultures. This is a country based on a ideal of “peace, order, and good government.”

Mostly that basic vision has been maintained. Yet nothing is ever made; and no lives are ever lived without making some stupid choices. Along the way there were some horrible choices made. There is nothing that can remove the past; it is our choice to be bound by that past. We are here now and we must do better. And we will do better. It just takes time.

This nation is an experiment that is always being refined. What we value today may not be valued tomorrow.

My father taught me that you always do your best with what you have on hand to make things better. My mother taught me that you can only make choices based on what you know today. If you didn’t know something yesterday that you now know today – then admit it. You cannot change yesterday. You cannot guarantee tomorrow. All you can do is be the best you for today.

Happy Dominion Day Canada. You are not a perfect country by any measure.  Yet the only truth I know is the world could use more Canada in it.  Today was good. Tomorrow can be even better.

 

 

 

Days: Good Friday (repost)

(Yes I am recycling. This is a copy of my Good Friday post from 3 years ago. I liked it so I am sharing all over again!)

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This day seems to be the forgotten holiday of the year. There is no lead-up to Good Friday. No frenzied fanfare of festivity. No elaborate feasts to plan and prepare. That is probably why I like this holiday the best.

Good Friday really is a day off from the bustle and hustle of the consumer world. No sales. Just time to contemplate the world. I am sitting here this morning with a second cup of coffee, watching the sun peak over the horizon. There is a slight mist on the roofs of the houses as the day slips from springtime chill to springtime warmth.

I have time to think. Let my brain play with words. Roofs. Rooves. I remember learning in school that the plural of roof was rooves. But now we use the american “roofs”. When did that change? The rule I learned was if it ends in ‘f’ or ‘fe’  then to make the plural you drop the “f” sound and writes “ves”.

dwarf to dwarves
elf to elves
hoof to hooves
knife to knives
leaf to leaves
life to lives
self to selves
wolf to wolves

Of course then there are words that ignore the rule anyway – like the plural of beef is not beeves. And the plural of proof is not prooves.

Ah English the language of rules, and long lists of exceptions to the rules! This is why English is such an exceptional language.

As you can see Good Friday is for getting diverted and contemplative. Mindless musing. The above was simply pointless stream of consciousness.  A raw slice of my brain straight up. I am full of trivia. Or full of something.

My favourite memory of Good Friday is from many many many years ago. I was in my early twenties. I was with some friends driving up to Midland, Ontario to find a very specific restaurant that served Lake Huron whitefish. Our friend and driver had heard the fish was incredibly fresh and delicious.

Now I don’t remember the restaurant name but I do think it was Henry’s Fish Restaurant. I’ve been back a few times so my memory may be muddled. And the fish is still worth the long drive!

But this memory isn’t about the destination. It is about the journey. That day was a foggy Good Friday. Dense white cotton fog slowing us down to well below the speed-limit. The trees and posts shadowy dark flickers flashing by us. The road shiny black and slick. There was no-one else on the road. Just us – some friends on a journey. Cocooned in our own reality.

In the back of the car was a book – Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance – and for me it was an incredible find. At that moment, in that space, that book and the message inside clicked with me. There are concepts in that book that I had no idea could actually exist! My friend – the driver of the car – saw me thumbing through the book and gave it to me.

From where I sit today I can see that same book looking at me from my shelves. It is bedraggled and stained and dog-eared. The book has survived the years – my friend the driver did not. He died later that year from leukemia. But on that Good Friday there was no leukemia darkening our thoughts. On that day we were full of life twenty-somethings on a road trip. Our driver was a big robust man full of life and zest – and by the fall of that year he was an anemic husk gasping for air in a hospital bed. He was much too young to die.

That Good Friday held no hint of the sadness waiting in our future. We laughed, we talked. The restaurant wasn’t open we arrived, so we walked the waterfront. We drank early morning beers (cans in bags – oh we were so clever!) by the lake, while we discussed philosophy and how we would change the world. By the time we had finished our exploration of Midland – the sun had burned away the morning fog.

The fish was indeed wonderful, and we promised that next year we would repeat the road-trip. We promised that this would become our Easter weekend ritual. I’ve been back since then – but the ritual never blossomed. It withered and died.

In the mid-afternoon sunshine we drove back the way we had come. No hurry to get anywhere, we stopped at used bookshops and curio stores along the way looking for old National Geographic magazines. And books on World War II history. Our own version of an Easter Egg hunt for those that no longer believed in the Easter Bunny.

Good Friday: A good day to remember how we have arrived at this moment in time. And to remember those who we loved and left behind.

Ramble: I Miss You Mom

I haven’t posted for a while because my Mom was in and out of the hospital in the last month, and on January 16 she peacefully passed away. Free at last from the many years of struggle with her health. 

It is strange how we create a routine out of the obligations of life. A pattern is shaped from necessity and reluctantly overlaid. Eight years ago my father died, and my mom asked me to come see her more often. At first it was every other week. Somewhere in there it became a weekly visit. Usually on a Saturday, I’d be up by 6am and on my way. The 2-hour drive a quiet pleasant meditation through lovely Ontario country-side. A stop for a coffee. Sometimes a pause for walk on a trail.
I’d stop at the grocery store along the way and get what was needed, And arrive at my Mom’s usually before 9AM. We would have breakfast, discuss what was new and news, make a to-do list of what needed doing, Check the sump-pump, change the filters, light-bulbs, garden, lawn…whatever. Somewhere in there the PSW would arrive and help my mom with her personal care.
Then my mom and I would have lunch, and we’d cook something extra for the fridge and freezer. Sometimes we would bake – tea biscuits, cake, cookies – so my mom would have goodies to offer her many guests through the week. Her local church/community was simply amazing for how they took turns visiting her each evening.
Sometimes I’d stay for dinner, but usually by 4 pm I’d be heading back on the trek back the other way to my own home. Back to my own to-do list that was waiting for me.
Yes there were times I would feel trapped by the pattern of obligation. Times I just felt too tired, too overwhelmed…
And still I would go – maybe shifting the visit to a Monday…
I am not writing this to grumble and brag. I did what I did because I was available and I could. It was my choice. I am writing this because it became such a part of my life that today, this morning, In this here and now of quiet reflection, I realize and I feel the empty space that is here and now. It feels odd not planning a shopping list, gathering the tools to bring, creating a menu, finding a recipe…
I am writing not to say what I did, but to say how much it is missed. 

Ramble: Just Saying

There are words inside me. And no one to hear them. They float on the tip of my tongue in swirling poetic tones. Waiting for the moment to arrive and launch their crisp sonorous meters into the air. I stay silent because I do not dare to break the silence when none are near to hear or care.

The ticking clock winds down past the hour into the next and then around again, clicking into the sunset crawling across the eastern walls of my living room. Gone gone gone much to soon is the charm of my youthful truth spilling out from my pain into the wounded evening light bleeding from behind the clouds.

And there it is then. The finality of the moment breaching the infinity of our progress into some other tomorrow we never imagined happening. It is always just there. Out of sight and out of mind. Lurking between here and the garden gate.

And so now I sleep. Deeply. Forlornly. Avoiding my fate. Avoiding the light. Avoiding the dawn that will rattle me awake,

Ramble: Sleeping Muses; Silent Voices

Some days are better than other days. And some days are more bitter.

Here I drift within the doldrums of darkness. I am creatively unsparked. Where my writer’s heart should be playful beating out a cadence for each line – there is only the flat-lined hum of cardiac failure. Does anyone even read this blog anymore? Why would they? There is nothing new here. No new words and thoughtful inspirations. Just the ongoing recycling of hunger unfulfilled.

I need a new shtick.  A new gimmick for a new audience. I could write about food and beverage. Indulge in fine craft beers paired with exotic hand-crafted local cheeses. Spew sensual sentences about the tantalizing tastes teasing my tongue with balanced tones of esters and glucose exciting my hunger for more. And no I cannot do that. I would be lost in my enjoyment of the food and forget to write my thoughts.

Oye.  Sports? Ick. Music? <yawn>

Book reviews – oh wait I would have to start reading again. And I find I get side-tracked by wondering why the writer decided to branch the story away from an enticing side-quest into the normal well-worn plot points of what sells books. Ah yes – I guess that answers that thought. I have a dozen books strew around my house partially read and bookmarked inside and beneath the dusty dust-jackets. Award winning books I was told I should read for their current cultural relevance and revelations. Oh god they read like re-warmed shit strained through  pompadour to mask the unpleasant stench of plot banality  and the de jure unexpected plot-twist de jour….

Oh I would pluck mine eyes from my head if I am forced to read another word crafted by Joseph Boyden.

Yes I know he is renowned and regaled and endowed with awards. I cannot stand how he writes. But I guess that is why there are a thousand other writers waiting to be discovered. Oh my god – I actually wrote a review? What? An unintended and unenlightened review! I must also admit I hated the movie Titanic – so that may be a sign that you should go read Boyden!

Enough for now. I just felt I should force myself to write something. ANYTHING!

And I did.

Happy November.