Saturday, December 23, 2017

Santa's Opus or "A Trump of Weasels"

2017 was one tough year for the overweight fellow. With with type 2 Diabetes, a recently developed Short bread allergy  and a legion of non-believing  4 year old's, it looked like a grim year Christmas indeed.

 Political landscape aside, he, and the North Pole's Claus Enterprises Inc factories were struggling since the inauguration of the President in his largest market.
The assembly line working triple overtime to create new Paw Patrol characters were cursing Netflix for the  venue that allowed 4 year old munchkins to eat all their  happy meals  watching the 30th episode for the 59th time.
Fingerlings were being hawked at a scalpers ransom by bidding sites on Facebook, making Santa and his elves look like Grinches for holding out until Dec 25th to deliver the fad. Why should kids have to wait for the big day when right there, in bold blue, was the auction for each and every Fucking Fingerling character at 3 times retail! And then there was the dreaded Apple! Apple did not help his public relations by releasing iPhone 10 before the fat man had a chance to load a sack full for the demanding millennials.

The problems were deeper than supply and demand this year for Kris Kringle. He, the red suited man himself,  had decided to partner with Tesla. By placing an order for Driver less Electronic Sled and a fleet of drones to compete with Amazon Prime for faster delivery, he felt he could gain a once wonderful reputation. But Tesla had issues. They welcomed the order and the marketing opportunity. yet here it was, Dec 23rd and no EV driver-less sled delivery was anywhere in site. Besides the issue of not nearly enough charging stations around the globe to service his electric vehicle, he faced the wrath of FOX news declaring Santa a Libtard snowflake who thinks the earth is melting (and is not flat).

The aviation authorities had put the kibosh on Drones in most countries except America. The US agreed to allow the drones if and only if they were loaded with self defensive guns, but the rest of the world saw issues with idea.
So the reindeer were woken from slumber and the Red Bull drips were activated to ensure wide awake herds. Logistics could and would be worked out, yet Mr Claus could not get his Jolly back on for this year.

Santa cross referenced his excel spread sheet list from all the Malls with his letters that arrived to the H0H 0H0 postal code. He frowned and started to overwork his puzzler.

"Why are banks asking so much this year?" he questioned.
"Record profits, earning out of this stratosphere. Bonuses up the ying yang to management. Stock dividends to come that will put bitcoins to shame! Why do they ask for more?"

"Why are the rich demanding so much for Christmas?"  came question number two from his bearded lips.
" Tax break for those who earn hundred of thousands. Business given a huge relief so they can buy back their stock and pay themselves huge bonuses and dividends, and they want the poor to give up their medicaid so they can have more!"
So many questions on this years list.

"Why" Thought the old St Nick " did Loblaws fix the price on bread so the people overpaid?"
He quickly scratched Mr Weston request that his customers "eat more cake" of his list.

Santa questioned the "me, me, me" egocentric requests. Better phones for selfies so I can take pictures of my hot self. Faster download speeds so I can see my "likes" in milliseconds.Luxury SUV Prego strollers, Lamborghini 10 speeds, no flood ice rinks for backyards, 5,000 sq foot homes, dinners out all the time but if in please deliver a kit, and the brand names, the names, oh the names!!!!

Still, he was happy on some fronts. His elves were getting a few more bitcoins thanks to the minimum wage being raised. But the spread between the have's and the have not's was a gulf the size of Trumps ego!

"Trickle down my fat red arse!" said Santa.
"...and all this fighting, fighting oh the noise, noise, noise!"

He got and idea, an awful idea. The fat red dressed man got a wonderful awful idea

"I'll swoop into Dumpville and offer them all
a chance to see Trumps heart  10 sizes too small.
I'll fix up the issue with sexist rude pigs,
and offer the whole Trump of weasels new gigs.
They will work in the factory up here at the pole
it will prove that the north is not such a hole.
We will give them low tax rates as an incentive to come
Oh sure half of the senate will be quite glum.
Mara-go-go north  we will call to ensure they will buy it
to trick a Trump of Weasels will be such a riot.
We might have to change my suit from bright red
To keep old O'range Ego from ending up dead.
Rudolph will lead the old " air force one'
in the hopes that poverty soon will be done"

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Pas De Deux

On our penultimate beach day in the spring of 2017, we note that "New France"has colonized early on the beach. At 6:30 am, our beach "cave" on stage left has been taken over so we claim a new spot. A much calmer day has the orange and yellow sails of the catamarans tacking in full view, and I am delighted and surprised to note a pair of kayaks  trailing a paddle boat in the sea. The serene calmness of this morning has little to no breeze and has brought out early morning crowds of families. The bocci ball court is drawn in the sand. Let the games begin!
This second last day passes so quick, it is as if I fell asleep! Time is quick and meaningless in the Caribbean. We make the most and enjoy life at the speed of Cuban life!

Our final day starts early as always. By all indications it will be a red letter day. Four stars. Three Michelin! top shelve! (I do go on do I not?). Vitor, my Cuban weather man and new amigo, agrees with my ratings at 6 am when we meet beach stage left.
"Bueno! Fantastico!" he tells me and then points to the solitary white puff of cloud and in his sign language indicates with his hands the cloud will depart westward. His grin is as big as his tranquility that his simple beautiful life offers him. Vitor's trade mark thumbs up will be missed when we leave.

My morning "Kibble", as Mary describes it, is a mix of cereals with natural yogurt to soften it. This start to the day, breaking my nights fast has been consistent for the most part on our vacation, and always chased or followed with fruits and cheese. We will have one more and last morning "Clap in" before our 9 am departure tomorrow.

Este Noche is the entertainment feature again tonight. I write this inside joke for my family. Readers (if any read these ramblings) can google translate this to understand my long running joke over the years of our Cuban resort visits.

The usual morning tranquility on beach stage left is welcomed. I mentally write more story lines for my Netflix idea of a prison facility that is run at an all-inclusive which rehabilitates rather than punish. I create the humorous dialogues that my series or movie will feature as I stand in line to get "Clapped in" for my kibble. I have changed the name from "Club Fed" to "Club Dump" in honour of, and borrowed from an old friend who I have not seen in a while. Bruce, my friend, and who I discovered Cuba with 30 years ago. We stayed at a 1 1/2 star resort, and I use the word resort with tongue planted firmly in cheek.

This wonderful vacation has been a fantastic inner journey for yours truly. A metamorphosis on many levels as well as several firsts! On this physical plane of reality, I played Bocci ball for my first time. A game that I associated as being for old Italian men in short sleeved buttoned down dress shirts, long black pants with their iconic black socks worn in sandals. Here on the beach, at 10 am the "Club animation" team marks the rectangular court in the sand, as young and old in bare feet, bare chests, and bathing suits, gather to make two teams. One small red ball is tossed, followed by the large 16 silver balls as each team member become fast friends and team mates. Quebec and Ontario n Cuba!

On the spiritual level, my former annoyance that was previously harvested by men and women jockeying for prime beach real estate to surf Facebook and text on their smartie pant phones, is all but a memory. This is a huge first for me, and one of many! From the Portuguese "Oil cake" desert, which after the first and only bite we both declared it and renamed it "Indian rubber ball cake", to the tiny hard boiled delicious Quail eggs we ate one day for breakfast. Six little eggs and I still needed my "Kibble".

A picture is worth a thousand words, and this humble attempt at describing our Cuban/Caribbean experience does little to paint for you, dear reader, the 3 pm scene of tranquility as I gaze out at the calm turquoise waters, sans sound, cochlear processor removed., on our last afternoon. If it were possible to do an MRI on my brain upon arrival, and again upon leaving this slice of paradise, I am beyond certain that my colours on the MRI scan would show the blues of the water, the orange and yellows on the sun and catamaran sails, and the whites of the sand here on beach left. This would contrast the Greys and dark colours on my "arrival scan"

We never know what the future holds, and I have given thought to wonder if I/we will ever return to Cayo Coco. We talk about the "Next time" and I am in a place where I taught myself to Dance to THIS music, and if the band plays in my future, our future, we will then dance again.

But today, at this point in our journey:THIS IS WHERE THE DANCE IS!



Saturday, March 25, 2017

Cuban Beach Boy's

My "No Problemo" attitude has a wee hitch in it's giddy up. A Mariachi band has invaded my afternoon slumber party. Although not the usual mariachi group  that consists of as many as eight violins, two trumpets and at least one guitar. This Cuban beach boy band has two mariachi  guitars including  the vihuela:  high-pitched, round-backed guitar that provides rhythm, one trumpet, and a bass guitar called a guitarrón, which also provides rhythm. The bongo and the Morocco's add to the rhythm section. They have visited us, on this quiet afternoon,  to bless David and Mary's beach time with a few choruses of "Guantanamera". A famous Cuban song, and probably it's best known and noted song. It is of course from the the poem by the Cuban Poet Jose Marti. So just as Mary has nodded off into afternoon slumber land, the horn player hits a high C or b flat at a few decibels louder than a Miles Davis riff. Siesta is indeed over and this completes our Cuban experience" for the afternoon. We offer no CUC (Cuban tourist money), so in mid third chorus,  they move quickly on, sans ending, to ply their rhythm on other more  (hopefully)generous patrons of beach music.

Vitor is a native Cuban that greets me daily as the sun rises on the beach. At 6:30 daily, he sets up our beach chairs on his own inclination and unasked. Gives them a good sweep with his beat up half broom, then gives me his trademark Thumbs up. Vitor is a small happy native Cuban. Rag tag clothes, bare feet in old beat up clogs, weathered skin (is he forty or seventy? I can't tell), and a smile as wide as the Caribbean sea. He tells us that he makes 250 Pesos a month. He has a wife and four children. "Two small, two older" He is as content with his tranquil life and happy as a yellow bird is, up high in banana tree. 

Vitor tells us that he and his family have a wonderful life, His Children have free and very good health care/medical, free and excellent schooling, and housing is looked after. He loves his life and it shows. I tip him a CUC when I have one on me. A CUC is the equivalent of 25 Pesos, which is what he would make in two days salary. He does not demand or expect it, but he is as grateful as a school boy receiving ice cream on a hot day.

Vitor's gratitude for what life offers him gives me great pause today. Especially as I consider my belly aching last week when my Buick Regal was cold and I bitched silently that my car does not have a heated steering wheel. Sheesh. Vitor has no envy for us in vacation land with our unlimited EVERYTHING!  He walks the beach back and forth all day, every day,  5 am to 5 pm giving us all a thumbs up as he passes, as if to say "It's a tranquil  life" he tells us with his smile!

It is indeed

4 PM on the Beach "Stage left". The Cuban Beach Boy Mariachi band has long retired a few Pesos richer. Vitor ends his long shift stacking up the three or four hundred beach chairs, to make way for the Night Beach cleaning crew. I promise him a pack of "Hollywood" cigarettes when we arrive manyana, and I will make good on it,

He is our new friend.




At the Still Point, There the Dance is !

Day 7 in Cayo Coco, and the sea inspires snippets of  wonderful memory, and to an even more pleasant extent, the inspiration to record it with pen in my journal. Sea, sand, strong espresso with steamed milk, a Cuban cigar! They all add to the creative life experience. This has been an memory that I will not forget for a long time, but I record with pen in paper so I have for posterity.
We are "clapped in" as per usual custom here for us early diners at breakfast. My fruit and cheese is followed by a long serine walk in which Mary and I collect seashells for Aubrey  and memories for our internal visual photo memory album.
Today urban sprawl has invaded our little cave of serenity on the beach, yet we find some humor as we get some bikini clad "asses" in our faces as Mothers tend to their babies oblivious to us, and our personnel, treasured space. European dialects surround us in Dolby sound. Such is life among the blessed vacationers. It is what it is!

Today I am mentally writing a sitcom in which the story line revolves around incarcerating  prisoners in an all-inclusive resort rather than a traditional prison. In my story there is NO punishment, just positive rehabilitation that includes Yoga,, meditation, cooperative sports and lots of thinking. Prisoners can eat and drink as much as they want or need within the confines of the resort  and the "Canteen" hours of operation. There is no curfew or bed time or last call....lots to be learned for these convicts. Stay tuned as I will attempt to craft out this little bit of silliness before I turn 60, and offer to Netflix the pilot that would hopefully star Neil Crone as the "resident prison/resort veteran go to guy" as he, in my mindful pilot, has been in the "All-inclusive system" the longest.

The Beach life here is as predictable as the "Clapping in": The  ceremonies for meals performed by resort staff to welcome us early birds to dine. Beach "stage right" is Cabana land where the eleven (yes I counted them) cabanas are home to the snow birds (usually from Quebec) who rise and claim their spots prior to 5 am. Bless their Fleur de lis souls.

Beach "stage left finds us pure beach folks, with our cave dwelling mates (me) who choose the cozy confines of lush underbrush to do our meditating. This morning, as many others here are full out "Club Nino" : Nino: From Old Portuguese nio and Latin nidus meaning "Nest". I named it as mothers arrive all day with strollers, carry cases, bags, food, and babies to set up their little "Nests". Club Nino sticks for my duration here, I like the name.

Afternoons differ,  are in many ways the polar opposite to the Club Nino mornings, Afternoons are lull after the storm, The quiet that arrives after the cyclones have  left.  It is Montecristo Puritto time! Then Siesta!

Repeat daily




Tuesday, March 21, 2017


I believe I am clear at this stage and age, of what Life Branches I need to prune. And how to keep my new found blossoms bearing fruit. As well as which buds I need to nip on a daily basis.

 Twenty years ago my concerns was growth on the outside: Money, prestige, and catching the elusive rainbows of shiny happiness. It is by chasing, I believe, that I missed the moments. I missed my "reason we are here" moments for lack of a better metaphor. So arriving at this new station in life I allow David to enjoy the rainbow in all it's splendor. Rather than mourning the fading sun, I now marvel in awe at it's magnificent glory.

Three catamarans sail in my view as I write this. Now there are 6 multi coloured sails in my view. Awesome!

Old world David would not have noticed or cared. Today I note the colours of their sales, and admire the sailors technical ability to tack in these  Caribbean winds.
Reading Ian Brown's "Sixty" in this oasis is enlightening and appropriate. So much has gob smacked at once. Many lines in this book are worth re-reading as well as retelling to Mary in our short time on this Island paradise.

"Sorrow is the rust of the soul. and regret is the oxygen that makes it".
Holy Fuck!
"Everyone experiences the exfoliation of the remembered soul at a different rate, and in a different way"

I honestly feel the book this book is worthy of purchasing a paper copy (I am on a tablet), so I can re read whilst making liner notes.
"...this is what I long to be, as I head into the late innings: Less hidden, less afraid, more naked, less ashamed. I want to wear my fragility on my body -  not just my so-called need, but my intentions, and my doubts about those doubts, and the laughable wobbliness of my progress n all things. I want to be human and complex, more that I want to be right and clear".
Yes, yes, yes!

Just past lunch on Day 5 here, as  I finish "Sixty". Feeling more comfortable about my doubts about my doubts, and more secure in my decisions to be less afraid and less ashamed about them. The air here in Cayo Coco has a sleep tonic effect on me. Even after a day which has me polishing off 4 cappuccinos, I sleep like a baby from 9 pm to 6 am. Sleep for the most part here is uninterrupted, which is odd for me. Unusual when at home. Just to go 9 hours without a pee is wonderful!

There is a feeling I have of internal discovery. Reading "Sixty". Being in the moment. Paying attention to the moment. Noticing what I notice. More today than ever in my past.

The growth of my Joy is in direct proportion to my acceptance, and in inverse proportion to my expectation.

It's time for my afternoon siesta, then a wander to get a superb Café con leche.



Monday, March 20, 2017

This Is Why We Came Here

My wife Mary said something yesterday that hit me like the proverbial hammer. We had some struggles at our resort with very minor issues. Some long line ups, poor customer service etc that gave rise to a momentary anger and bitterness. As I began to mentally compare "better" vacation resorts that we have been to,  it led to this inner struggle. Mary, later that day on the beach while looking out at the aqua and turquoise Caribbean ocean and walking on the velvet white sand, listened to my bitterness patiently, waved her arms around gesturing to the wonders and beauty of Cayo Coco and said "This is why we come here !" Not only was she spot on, but my internal negative thoughts changes for the better.

I am for the most part, very much a glass half full guy. At times to my determent, as I refuse to accept the worse case scenario. I find the joie de vivre in most situations that life tosses our way. Is it too idealistic to view each and every moment in life as "This is why we came here!" ? Or even "This is God's grace and this is why we are here! To take part."

So now the questions I ask myself as I write on this beach are : Have I now reached the age of concession? "It is what it is", or have I reached and age of Gratitude : "This is why I am here, and am so grateful for it all"?

Mary has just returned from a fruitless expedition at the resort where "No towels today. Maybe Mayana" is the frustrating speech from an overworked towel lady, then the line up to book us an a La Carte meal gave us another "not gonna happen. Third world country (Cuba) is giving us First world grief. So I go to this: Should I be grateful for my Caribbean view as I lie under a Cabana on this world class beach (I am by the way) or should I be UN-accepting of the "What is"?

this Glass half full lad knows the answer to his question.

As a young boy in my "first quarter", I saw the world of  adults as the world of Oz! Streets paved with Gold, no curfews, eat what you want, when you want it; go to bed when you feel like it, not when you're told; sleek and wonderful cars to take us to destinations where "WE" wanted to go, and as fast as "WE" wanted. My "second quarter" was proof, in retrospect was that streets of "Gold" are not what gives inner joy. There will always be a street that has More "gold" on it. I always thought I needed to find that street to be happy until I realized Joy does not evolve from that. What I found was that there is always a nicer, faster car, bigger boat, better house. More importantly I discovered the difference between JOY and HAPPINESS.

So arriving at the "Sixty" train station, I now know that it is the "inner world.....MY" inner-world" where JOY exists.

And that my friends is why we come here!



Sunday, March 19, 2017

Notice What I Notice

Judging by the suns position and the activity on this Caribbean, I figure it must be 10 am. I mentally take note of this not to record the the time, but as a confirmation in my personal growth. Matters not really what time it is, but what matters is reaching a milestone point in my life where I no longer wear or feel the need to wear a watch. As well,  I make a conscious effort  to keep my "Smartie Pants Crack-berry" phone parked in pocket and ignored as much as possible. Mindfulness meditation is a wonderful teacher. Yet there remains   plenty of "pruning" to be done in letting go of the digital distractions,  and becoming more mindful in every moment. My shears are out in full.

"Notice what you notice" has become a mantra of mine. I try to  practice this gospel, and kick ass and pull myself back when I stray. Did my deafness start me on this journey I wonder? Did my utter and profound deafness/silence which arrived overnight ten years ago put me on this journey? Or is it an inner unconscious reaction to being in the remains of my day/my 4th quarter/the late innings in my game?
I sit on this beach now and mentally divide my life into quarters. If I live to 80, then that puts me in my last quarter. Even as I write the word "last", I do so slowly to make it "last". Is this my answer to the why and how I want to slow down the moments, and notice everything I notice?
In my first quarter (birth to 20 years old) life is carefree for the most part. The second quarter is the "Better get my shit together" before half time. Go into a hurry up offense before the 40 mark arrives. After all who wants to be 40 and a loser? But for me, and perhaps most, the second quarter has the carefree exuberance of enjoying life at 75 MPH.
So why is it that I feel that I missed (there is that word again) so much by traveling at the "speed of life" in my "Q2"? I was 29 years old when my Father passed away. I don't recall being tremendously sad, but it was not a happy moment either.
It was what it was.
Where these feelings a result of me not taking the time to know my Dad? To take note of his life's accomplishments, and question him on his story, rather than focus on his failures as a Father?  Was it a selfish reaction from being a son of an alcoholic, and finally being being free of the questions from my school mates: "So, what does your Dad do? Where does he live? I saw him lying a field last night, is he okay or just a Drunk?"
Answering those questions in a truthful way was cause for embarrassment, so perhaps my non-reaction to his untimely death at 59 years of age was indeed selfish.
Now in my 60th year, I have outlived my father. I find no real significance in the number 60, nor do I take any joy in outliving my Father. My marvel comes from taking almost 60 years to reach this stage stage of serenity and acceptance.
Am I where I want to be? No. My journey has not ended. But I know (or think I know) where my growth has to come from. I know which branches  need pruning.
This in itself is an achievement
It is what it is



Friday, March 17, 2017

Rage, Rage Against the Dying of the Light

Ten months and a few days will be my 60th! A milestone to be sure. The sunshine and peace of the Caribbean called and we answered. This post was written over sand, surf and beside my best friend : My beautiful wife.
What is about things ending that brings a feeling of remorse or a sadness? The end of a perfect day. A week of vacation. The perfect meal that we prolong the last taste. The last swallow of a cappuccino that gives us cause to swallow slowly and savor. That inner battle that makes us struggle to hold to that feeling of "wonderful".
As a young boy, the end of a day felt as extreme as the end of a life of a good friend does now, in my 60th year on this blue planet. I always fought a losing battle with my Mother to end my games of hide and seek or road hockey, and come inside as for bedtime preparations as night fell. The sun went to "Hell" in my world during those times.
It seems in a sense to rob us of the enjoyment when we know the end of something wonderful nears or arrives (Leaves?) I wonder how does one grasp the pure acceptance of and "end"?
As I contemplate the distinct difference in one word and it's two tenses: Miss and Missed,I realize that the two words are completely different. Missed seems to have regret in it's meaning. "I missed my chance...", and I "miss the chocolate Macaroons from Hunt's Women's bakery from my childhood that were baked fresh and a great treat for me as a young lad of six" has regret, but without the sadness.
Comparing life's, is about as futile as comparing cars, cuts of beef, houses, and even vacations. Not just futile, but also without merit or worth. Oprah is the same age as I am. Oprah has more money than God, has a dream job, and probably has a noble and Honorable life. But I am content and am finding a serenity that I honestly doubt she has. I suppose this has taken me 60 years to reach this conclusion and accept "it is what it is". That statement alone has given me peace, or at least started me on this serene journey.
A native Cuban plies his trade in front of me as I write this. He is offering fresh coconuts and pineapples for 5 peso's. He carries the weight of his tools and fruits (A bottle or two of Rum as well) back and forth in the 30 degree sun. With the skill of an artist he carves open the fruits for his paying vacationers. I marvel at his artistry. I admire him and offer a smile as I mentally compare his life to mine, and wonder if does the same. Or perhaps he has the serenity that comes with acceptance. I ask this question to myself as I compare the complexities of my life to his life. It is in writing this that I reach my conclusion that we both may indeed accept our life circumstances with serenity.
It is what it is.



Sunday, January 15, 2017

I am a Card Carrying Member of the Human Party

Spoiler alert: This is NOT a political post!

I may  scream my liberal thoughts, toot my conservative horn, or even show my socialist colours. But I AM a member of the "Humanist party". If we all could step back and drop our fathers ideology of rooting for OUR team and our team only, then we might come to a simple fact: We are all members of the same  Two-Legged tribe.

Colour me different if I support a leader that promotes equality, takes care of those in need  and provides a open and competitive marketplace for all to prosper to wish to, and all to get help when needed.
Colour me in a just plain shade of weird if you must, as I declare publicly that I am NOT against taxation. What concerns me more is how our money is spent.

Canadians got their knickers in a knot over our PM who recently spent his vacation time being helicopter ferried to a Billionaires Island lair. The media (read National Post) had a field day screaming to it's readers that "Possible violation of federal law as Trudeau admits he used Aga Khan’s private helicopter". 
Apparently getting picked up by your host in a helicopter is violation of some sort of law. I am not a legal scholar, nor do I intend to mine the legal tomes in search of this wrong. What I do know is this: To those with wads of money, getting picked up in a helicopter to take you to their private Island is akin to you or I dear reader of flagging a Uber on our smartie pants phone to take us to our Aunt Maria's 80th birthday. I do not condone this trip by any means. What upsets me is the uproar the NP has caused.
Oddly enough,this same publication failed to mention in the last 6 years:

1. The fake lake

The Harper government built  a $2-million tourism pavilion at the 2010 G8/G20 summit media centre in Toronto, which  which included a fake lake that simulates Ontario’s cottage country. The Conservatives spent a record $1.1 billion hosting the events, including $160 million in hospitality, food, security, and infrastructure bills.
If I ran the National Post I would be first to label this $1.1 Billion expenditure as “obscene, “unprecedented,” and a “poor example” of government spending. I hoped we would see responsible government spending, as all Canadian did, but all we got in this boondoggle was a fake lake and some expensive lawn furniture that is still rusting away.

2. The photo op

Taxpayers funded $47,500 for a 2010 Tory press conference during which then-Defence Minister Peter MacKay posed for a “hero shot” in a fake F-35 fighter jet built by manufacturer Lockheed Martin, which was brought in from Texas for the special event.Yet we post venom vigorously and continually  if our current PM posts a "selfie", which last I checked costs us fuck all!

3. Fighting sick mothers

From 2012-2015, the Conservative government spent more than $1.3 million  trying to prevent new mothers who fell seriously ill during maternity leave from collecting disability benefits in addition to the employment insurance (EI) currently paid to new parents.
According to The Globe and Mail, two Calgary women launched a class action lawsuit three years ago seeking more than $450-million in compensation on behalf of thousands of new mothers who were denied EI disability benefits, or dissuaded from applying for them.
Members of Parliament demanded an explanation from the Tory prime minister after breast cancer survivor and new mother Jennifer McCrea was refused EI sick benefits. The jab here is that our then Fearless leader did nothing for these sick mothers because he was too busy with the Mike Duffy Nigel Wright scandal. He should of asked his then boy wonder/chief of staff (before he threw him under the bus) : “Hey Nigel, could you fix this for me? Could you make it ‘good to go’? 'Cause you have fixed my shit before" That is before you became a liability and I had to pay you a fortune to go away, despite the fact that you are independently wealthy beyond any Canadians dream to begin with.

4. Big-ticket beverages

Our former International Cooperation Minister Bev Oda and our former Finance Minister Joe Oliver seem to have shared a taste for costly coolers, provided taxpayers are footing the bill. In 2011,Ms Oda expenced a $16-glass of orange juice and a $1,995-stay in the swanky Savoy Hotel during a government trip to London, England, where she also hired a limousine to cart her around at a cost of nearly $1,000 per day. Yet the free helicopter ride is  "Violation of federal law"!!!??? WTF??
 In 2012,Joe Oliver expenced  $16-glass of scotch he drank at the rooftop restaurant of the Mamilla Hotel in Jerusalem. He later spent $5,593 on two one-way flights between Toronto and Calgary to hold roundtable meetings with oil, gas, steel and pipeline companies. All hail the almighty oil companies.? BTW dear spenders of our money: My wife and I bottle our own wine and shop no name orange juice to make ends meet.
While Oda repaid more than $3,500 in expenses during her time in office (and eventually resigned), Oliver's spokesman maintains that he followed all the government business travel rules. Take one free copter ride and.....

5. The ad blitz

 An estimate of over $750 million has been lifted from our public purse since 2006 to pay for government advertising, much of which has been labelled “partisan” by critics.has been lifted from the public purse since 2006 to pay for government advertising.,
The ads — which have repeatedly run during expensive primetime viewing slots like NHL playoffs and the Oscars — have included $5.2 million promoting the Economic Action Plan and $24 million touting Canada-U.S. relations in Washington to increase support for the Keystone XL pipeline.
One 2013 ad by Employment and Social Development Canada even won a ‘Teddy Waste Award’ from the Canadian Taxpayers Federation for a $2.5-million blitz promoting the new Canada Jobs Grant months before the job training program was even available.This is our money used to help reinsure their reelection. Nary a mention of this ever in the NP! This spending is one sore spot for me and all parties and politicians do this on all levels. We are currently at the halfway point for our Municipal politicians. This past week we have seen the full colour, multi paged, high quality brochures disguised as Midterm report cards, but in reality are the council and Mayors legal way of spending our money to ensure they get reelected in 2 years. Yup, we pay for it out of our tax dollars.
Stand in line for days to see a doctor. Line up to get EI after your company moved production to Mexico. Cry as our Indigenous people drink sludge from the oil sands tail-ponds. But for God sake do not take an offer of a free ride to a nice Island if you are our leader.

Now back to my Spoiler alert. Please do not read this as a Paid Liberal/NDP/Green party/ "Insert your party here" plug. All this boy wants is for our paid politicians to spend our money sensibly.
To be perfectly honest, I believe we have great deals on our gas prices.Not long ago we were paying almost $2 a litre and not a peep was heard. We went down to $1 a litre and we drove to drive thru like they were just invented. Put a 4% tax on that to look out for our green world and we went ape shit!
"How can we afford to drive with this tax on a tax" was heard throughout the nation.
 Our water costs in our house runs about  $1/day which is far to cheap. Colour me a weirder shade of green when I ask the municipality to raise the price to encourage conservation.

We have become a nation of whiners who want the government to lower the price of gas, offer them cheaper hydro electricity, give them free road access everywhere. We bitch and bellyache on each and every tax without thought as to the good some taxes do.

My wish is for  our leaders to look where they spend. all our leaders in all levels: Municipal, Provincial and Federal.
Instead of a fake lake or a Pan Am Game (the cost of hosting the international sporting event was $2.423 billion, sadly attended mostly by the Municipal and city politicians who were given free tickets. This family did not budget for the tickets.) How about looking at feeding and housing our homeless. It might be cheaper to house the homeless than to house a few thousand athletes.

 Instead of taking the council to a retreat in Newfoundland or Hawai to see how other cities deal with traffic problems how about thinking about free University for those in need and NOT free toll highways for the Moms in mini vans.

Instead of spending on legal costs to fight sick mothers how about free prescription drugs to go along with our free health care, as we are the only country that offers universal health care without a drug plan.

Take better care of our lands and stop heeding those that work in the oil industry that we need to dig holes in our land to pull up the gook. We are all members of the Humanist party and we all belong to the same two-legged tribe. Let's show Gord Downie that we can do Canada a solid by being Humans.

Can we all pay a $1 and sign up for the Human party of the world?


Monday, January 9, 2017

My Sunshine Sketch of our Little Town

Many of the streets in our neighborhood are named after Whitby's original inhabitants.. Oak, Chestnut, Walnut, Maple, Ash, to name a few immediate to our house. Most of the original green and beautiful squatters (woodlands) still happily reside here in Downtown Whitby for us to enjoy.

We like living here. We love to walk and enjoy the century plus homes with trees double the age of the houses they shade. All homes are different, with no cookie cutter "Subdivision" style in sight.
Just the word "Subdivision" conjures up an industrial image. Similar to the oxymoron "Industrial Park" to denote land designated to be industrious as it sits in a former green acre.

Downtown Whitby, and the Town of Whitby itself has always been a bit of an  enigma for me. Yes, we have the "four corners" that I have always deemed a precondition of calling the area "Downtown". Yes, there is the "Village" countenance of our little Downtown that has always appealed and appalled at same times. We have the butcher,  the baker, and if we really stretched the gift stores, we have candle stick makers. Thrift shops as well as upscale clothing and decor share the same sidewalks and alleys. Thus the appealing. The local "Hotel" on the main drag gloats about it's impermanent status as the only "Naked Live Girls" in the region. Thus the appalled.

We have from middling to decent to top drawer eateries all within walking distance of our tiny house. We can and do walk to dine when date night dictates a night out.

Change is inevitable, and I know this. Our favorite old school Saturday breakfast place resided on the south side in our downtown. Properly named "Southside Eatery", the owners were fixtures at our Saturday morning eggs with real potato hash browns. A walk in the fresh air for 8 minutes and we were in family luncheonette heaven, enjoying the best java this side of "The Goof" in Toronto's beach district. The potatoes alone were worth the walk, but the true poached eggs with a side of meat made the weekend special. Sadly for us, the owners retired last year. Good for them. Not so good for Mary and I.  The new and young owners renovated, added a liquor license, changed the menu, changed name, threw out the friendly familiar service, and called their new club the "Boomerang".  Nothing of "boomer" brought me back to a second visit. This boomerang did not return.
But I digress.

Downtown Whitby has quite possibly as many drinking establishments per capita any Maritime town including Moncton and Glace Bay, but nary a Franchise Pub darkens our "Strip" The "Shoeless Joes and the Firkins of the franchised pub world are all found in the new north. They have their place.
"The Tap", The Vault, and Shamrocks  have existed in the downtown for many a pint over the years.  Most boast a patio (read backyard which is lovely) to entice a couple of us old folks out for a Friday Pint or glass of wine on a warm summers eve. Sitting among  usual suspects has been a pastime for many of us locals.

We may or may not spend our dollars at each and every downtown establishment, and we accept that new business comes (disappoints) when the familiar leave.  We still need to travel to the hinterlands to shop at Walmart, and in a pinch we buy a "Fourbuck" latte at Starbucks. But the for the most part we enjoy what is at our disposal which now includes a Portuguese bakery serving up a Cappuccino worthy of the $3 charge to go with our Pastéis de Nata on a Sunday walk in our village.

I write this today not as a rant or a review, but to a need to write to record history for me. 
I have lived in the "north" of Whitby for almost 10 years. I have had houses in the "Subdivisions" of Pringle creek. Our  "Kent Cottage" house in our little downtown has been warm and wonderful.

I have proclaimed more than once that the only way I will leave our house is feet first. 

Now I must end and walk Myla to our wonderful downtown park,passing the big and beautiful Chestnut and Walnut trees,  and as always, say hello to any and all neighbors that always respond in kind.

Ah. Life is good