Saturday, September 3, 2011

Of Paper And Pens

August is over, and the annual "back to school" frenzy that attacks those of us that have "bairn's. bambino's and/or brats" is well under way.

♬♪♩The autumn wind, ♪♬♫ came rolling in...♪♬♫.

But I digress.

The back to school Flyer's confuse me with "Notepads, Ipads, PC, Mac books, Ibooks, laptops, mainframes, calcubooks, Smart phones, IPhone, skypehones, Kobo readers, eyereaders, electronic notebooks....."

Note pads I always thought were a smaller version of a legal pad, and I am not so sure that I can find anyone in the "back to school" crowd that can define a "legal pad". How many of those under 15 out there can give me the measurements of a legal sheet of paper, or the localised North American standard sheet?

I still carry a "notebook" but not a $400 one that is WiFi, or has a key board. It is paper.
Made from a tree I suspect, but who knows. I like the whiteness of a note pad as well as the regal feel of a legal pad when I need to take important notes.
I love a good pen as well. The feel is just as important as the grace in which it skates across a page. I will spend as much time shopping a good pen every 3 or 4 years, as I do when I shop a household appliance.

I like the feel of a book as well. I struggle with an electronic reader. I understand the need and the functionality of having 300 books in one small hand held electronic device, but I love the book. I walk into our living/family room and feel secure (and smarter) just seeing the shelves and rows of books. We may not have read them all, but we do love the art of the browse, when desire strikes us.

I am no Luddite, and am not about to go on a crusade and picket Staples demanding that we all go back and learn how to use a pen and paper.
Spell check has saved my bacon on many a quick email, and I am grateful for it and all the other wonders that Mr Gates, and Mr Google hath wrought to make us better.
There are days when I yearn to see the student sitting in the back of a lecture hall, writing notes with a grand pen, and a glorious official looking yellow legal pad, in all of it's 8 1/2 x 14" glory.

I must be turning into the curmudgeon that I one day feared I would be.

So be it, just make sure spell check doesn't miss a beat on this post.



Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Love Is Better Than Anger

Jack Layton served Canadians!

Jack Layton died this past week. In his memory I want to post his last words that he left to world.

" My friends, Love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic, and we'll change the world"

Today I got angry at one of those typical "little things" in life. A speed bump the size of an anthill to be sure. I went immediately and re-read Jack's gift of words to us this week, and decided that "Love is better than anger".

We were not sent here to live in a vacuum.
I think perhaps that on September 7, 2007 when I was on life support and put in coma, there was a reason I did not slip away.
While I have yet to figure out exactly why it was not my time, I do have some ideas.
The doctors who parked me in a coma to figure out why I was not responding to anything, and was indeed in a state of total arrest, were so convinced that "This is it", had all my family contacted and advised that I had less than 24 hours.
I kinda figure I was spared to tackle some issues on this planet. Issues with people and pets I think.
While we can't take the whole world's problems upon our shoulders, we can try to do what we can within our sphere of influence, and remain open to finding opportunities to serve.

Jack Layton beat cancer the first time he had it a few years ago.
He used that time to do good, fight a good fight and found so many opportunities to serve.

I beat death 4 years ago.
I am still finding ways and opportunities to serve, and to fight a good fight for the hearing impaired where I can, champion the underprivileged where I can, and step up to battle when I think it is the right thing to do.

But I have to remind myself, thanks to Jack, that Love is better than anger.
I also have to remind myself, when the world is against me, that Optimism is better than despair.

Let's change the world today.

Marriage and Parenthood

Some days are diamonds, some are stone. Yesterday was mix. The day ended in a rock avalanche.
I try to do the best I can, and I've made mistakes along this particular road in life.

I never asked to be a Dad, but it is part of my reason for being a lot of days more than I'd like to admit.

I did ask, in marriage, to be a Husband; and yes I have made mistakes along that road to be sure.

Mary has taught me a lot about parenting, and I am grateful for it, I was left as single Dad, the sole parent of a 14 year old, in the winter of 2009. I thought it would be pretty easy as the 14 year old boy at the time was good.

I was not the best Father by any means at first, but I always tried to be there for him as after his Dad lost his health and his hearing
He then lost his Mom to cancer.
Tuff stuff for a young man!

Where I fall down is letting go. He is not 14, he is 17. I still carry that baggage of being the protective worry wart of a parent.

Some days it does more damage than good.
I need to do this not only as a caring parent, but as a caring person. There are so many times when I reach out to help others, that I neglect the immediate needs of some.And yes, this includes my loved ones.

When I strive to go good, to help, I do, on occasion, step on toes and hearts of people that mean the world to me. For me, it is not a case of if I lived the simple existence "Help no-one, just live life and do not give yourself to others."
I have to give.
I have to help others.
It is part of DNA!
For my son, I want to be there for him, to hear him, to cheer for him, to laugh or cry with him, to protect him with my life!

Where I fall down again and again, is needing to tell him things he does not want to hear.

I need to be a much better husband to Mary, in recognizing that life is about partnerships.
She is my life partner and will always be there for me. My son will move on in his life soon. Hopefully move on soon to explore the world of higher education; girlfriends; first apartment; first full time job; marriage etc.

But Mary will be with me in a rocking chair one day long after the boys have left.

I need to remember that!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Waxing Nostalgic

Lately there has been a rash of sitings on Face book profile posts that wax nostalgically for the "better times" when the CD had not been invented, Nintendo not heard of, a 500 television Chanel universe was only a dream, and we all played hide and seek until dark.

While it is indeed wonderful to wax nostalgically abut the "simpler times", my 53 year old deaf self is very grateful for where we are in this year of our Lord 2011.

Growing up, family picnics were fun and my sister and I were always very excited about those summer days when they came. I miss that.
I don't miss the fact that after we left the site at the park, it was the norm to leave all the trash, or throw it out the car window. Those of you who picnicked in the 1960's will confirm this. We dumped on the side of the road and off we roared.

Parents smoked with young children in the car, dumping the ashtrays at a stop light was acceptable.

We drove big cars that took leaded gas with no regard for Mother Earth and her siblings.
We cut trees with abandon and with no regard for the future in order to satisfy the moment. Ah yes the old days!

When we heard of a domestic dispute, we felt for the family, but dismissed it.
Child abuse was rarely reported. If it was, no one talked about it, and we went back to playing Hide and seek until dark.

Simpler times for sure, and much of it is missed.
The bookmobile came on Tuesday nights from 4 until 8 and we lined up outside the tractor trailer to see if there were any copies of Cat in the Hat to be had. The internet, let alone the giant book stores, were but twinkles in someone eyes.

Our parents bought big Vinyl records to listen to 8 songs.

We watched one of the 9 channels that our antenna took in, and of course in black and white.

No one wore seat belts,as we went to the Drive In movie, because we loved our cars! Pollution was not part of our lexicon until the late 60's, when we realized we were poisoning our lungs with factory emissions. and our fish were going the way of the Dinosaur

Ah yes, the good old days.

My cochlear Implant gives me some sense of "Thank God we live in these times". Even more so when I see a small child that was born deaf, wearing the tell-tale magnet of the CI processor that gives sound to whence before, silence lived.

I do miss the look and feel of the big Vinyl LP records. I also miss hearing music the way it used to sound before deafness and a cochlear implant.

I am very grateful for the technology that gives me sound.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Meterorites and Fur Balls

I am blessed!

There are little doubts about that. I have decent health, a very nice life, amazing wife and family.I work hard and play with love and enthusiasm with my bride of just over a year.
We live as a family unit in a home that we love, in a neighborhood that we enjoy.

Our life as a family unit is not without the tests and speed bumps that most families have, and I would be naive to ever think that we are immune to "life-at-the-speed-of-life" meteorites.

When you have a 17 year old and a 24 year old that hail from different sets of sperm and eggs as one and other, living within a wall of each other; a degree in the "Psychology of parenting" would be of little use.

Throw in a 27 year old that lives on the other end of the country and the frustrations of not being "there" to help out and/or watch the Grandchildren grow and learn....The picture of us as the "Cleaver family" is muddied somewhat.

I never give up my goal of harmony as a family unit. I know perfection in unity will never exist, but I want to make two families come as close to being a family unit as possible. I get frustrated and emotional in my quest to be the "Best Dad " and "Best Husband".
"As best as I can be" is what I now strive for, but some days find myself saying under my breath "I wish I could make it better"

I think a few of things that get under my skin is a lack of gratitude for what we have. I know how blessed and fortunate we are, but trying to get those under the age of 30 in my life to accept that attitude is painful and frustrating at best.

I remember as a child of around 8 or 9 years old hearing another boy who was a classmate, answer a question the teacher asked us one day before our Christmas break.
"What are you looking forward to this Christmas, and what makes it extra special in your house?"
I will never forger James answer and believe it shaped the way I looked at life from that moment on.
"I know I will get a new sweater from my Grandmother which I need, and all of us kids are excited that our Mommy will make us waffles. We get them on Christmas and we love them. I hope that our Dad will visit us or even phone us this year."

This boy James had very little. We all knew that by his dress. We knew his Father lived elsewhere, which was odd for us living in 1965. Families were a unit of Mother, Father and kids. James family was certainty the exception to this.
He and his family were from a different social-economic background to be sure. For us kids at the age of 8, he may as well have come from a different planet. He had no bike, no ball glove, no hockey sticks at recess. No hockey cards, no treats from the candy store after school.

But the amazing thing was the impression he had on me one day and how it shaped me a little different from that moment. His views did not conform to my Paradigm of Christmas. How could you find enjoyment and happiness from a sweater and a waffle?
I had waffles with syrup every Saturday, and could get a sweater if I needed one, I was sure.

Christmas was boxes and boxes of toys. Candies and grapes and oranges. Turkey and chocolate puddings for goodness sake. It was defined by volume and numbers.

But what he said changed for me that day.
There were people who had less than I, yet had happiness.
There were people who accepted what life had to offer them, and were grateful for that. It mattered not to them that they did not have the shiniest or fastest of the newest bikes. It was not about the fattest turkey, or the biggest stocking. It was about gratitude for a warm sweater.

Now we have a society that "needs" and Ipad for their four year old child to "learn" at a better rate than the other four year old's.Sixteen year olds that need to have a Lexus for their first car bought for them. Nine year old's that will only wear J Crew.

There is no point on going on a rant that starts with "when we were kid's..." The point is this:
I wish we all had a bit more gratitude for what God has given us, no matter what it is. My good God ladies and Gents, take a look around and see how amazing this planet can be if we really look at it.
Give thanks!

I may be deaf.
I may have many issues and curve balls coming at me daily.
Mary and I have disagreements on many things, a lot of days, but we still love each other more than I have ever loved.

I am blessed.



Friday, August 19, 2011

Autum Wind

The hard part is starting back. Finding the discipline, let alone the creative thinking to write at least one piece in this space. I figured that if I just starting typing, it will flow.
"Open a vein, and let it run" sort of thing. Man was I wrong.

This is quite possibly my twenty fifth attempt at starting back at writing in my space. My creative outlet that I love so dearly got shelved.
Summer came.
Gardens, BBQ's, pools, cold drinks, friends over....
A trip to BC with family.
Stratford Festival.

But hey..."the autumn wind, came rolling in..."

I am back baby!

I hope.


Monday, April 18, 2011

Raymond Renwick Slater - 1928 - 2011

It has been a while since I last put fingers to the QWERTY. It was around Christmas time, and I wrote of putting on good cheer hats, and going out and spreading that cheer.
Nothing made me happier than putting smiles on faces that day.

It is now in Mid April, and while the buds of Mother Nature's offerings are showing promise, the snow decided to make an encore curtain call yesterday and gave us reason to don coats and scarves again. We still try to put smiles on faces, and do what we can to put positive energy into the universe. Some days it is tougher than others, but we never give up trying.
We live in a marriage that I feel is made in heaven. There are no accidents in the universe, and I feel it is no accident that I found and married my best friend!
I love our life together

Much has moved forward in my life, as it should. Babies are born, people die, snow retreated, and buds came out. New year arrived, election looms in the horizon, my son got his beginner license, Marys daughter is planning a July wedding.

Life at the speed of life.

I took the passing of a wonderful friend that prompted me to take my lunch hour, and write a word or two.

I lost my stepfather this past week. Ray was in life for the past 35 years, and was more of a friend than father. He was a joy to be around and a force of fun right up until his stroke 6 years ago.
In my twenties, Ray and I decided we would once a year, drive to every baseball park we could and watch a game. We choose what was reasonable driving distance at made a pact that we would pick a weekend in each summer and hit the road to take in the baseball, stadium architecture, hot dogs and beer of the local park. Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit were the first and only sadly. But what memories!

We called him "Arnie's caddy" for good reason; he was the caddy for Arnold Palmer when Arnie won his first professional golf tournament of his storied gold career. The Canadian Open at Weston Golf and Country saw Palmer as a young man have his bags totted by an even younger Ray Slater. He would and will always be remembered for that.

I will miss Ray, and have ever since he lost his edge after a stroke.
Years ago we would sit out back at their house in to the wee hours of the morning, and drink beer out a shot glass for goodness sake.
Ray called it a "short beer". So we would drink many, many, many "shorts", until we called it a night.

He loved food as much as I do. We shared a love for Montreal Smoked meat and even recently shared a plater with nice rye, and Kosher Strubs on his 83rd birthday in the home where he was confined.

Rest In Peace my friend!
Save me a slice or two of medium lean Ray, and some half sours!

Oh and don't forget the Vernors to go with the meat. I'm not sure if we can get short beers in heaven!