Thanks, I’ll be here all week.

It snowed this morning. Not the first snow of the year, but the first one that stayed on the grass and the tree trunks and the reed tops. Minus six will do that and with a high of minus two the snow looks to stay at least until tomorrow afternoon when the temperature should get to the unseasonable high of five or six.

In keeping with the inclement weather the van broke down. It’s in the shop and the mechanic says it will cost just over two weeks salary to put it back on the road. The art of comedy is all in the timing. One month before Xmas, one month since our daughter has been in hospital. The cosmic rimshot is echoing in my ears as I type.

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We all know it

There are no rules in life but those we create for ourselves and those imposed by others we choose to obey.

Rules make life easier sometimes and sometimes they make life harder. Sometimes the rules we create for ourselves aren’t so much rules as statements of what we believe to be true about ourselves. “I would never …” “You should always…” but the fact is that absolutes are, more often than not, doomed to failure.

Field Marshall Helmuth von Moltke the Elder once said “No plan of operations extends with any certainty beyond the first contact with the main hostile force.” That has been shortened over the years, for the sake of brevity and ease of understanding, to “No battle plan ever survives contact with the enemy.” That pretty much describes life its ownself.

Our daughter was home yesterday and will be home most of today before returning to hospital this evening. Any plans I had prior to mid-October are, at best, on hold and, at worst, in peril. What surprises me is how comfortable I am with either option.

Life is chaos. We put our own narrative to events after the fact to make sense of them, but things never happen quite the same as the narrative which recounts the happenings. When it comes right down to it almost every event in life presents a binary choice. Engage or disengage. The Field Marshall’s approach, and mine: understand that no plan will survive what life throws at you and adapt. The other, equally valid approach, is that of the wise Kesuke Miyagi who taught that the best place to be when the punch comes is somewhere else.

I choose to engage again and again and again. My rule, my approach, is neither valid nor invalid it is just how I live my life. That’s all anyone can do, choose how to live their lives. We choose what we can and cannot face. We engage or disengage. The only rules with merit are those we choose for ourselves, the rest is sound and fury signifying nothing.

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Hope ajar

Do things really pile up or is it just an impression that hits when the ability to deal is in someway hampered by life its ownself?

Our daughter had a few hours out of the hospital on Saturday and Sunday the weekend before last.

Fossilized Crocodile

Fossilized Crocodile

Rock Hunters

Rock Hunters

We went to the Montreal mineral show on the Saturday and the Beaver Hall Group exhibit on the Sunday.

MFA Montreal

MFA Montreal

Mabel May

Mabel May

We couldn’t really afford to do either thing, but sometimes when you are the only parent left after the wrong one died you want to be the fun parent. Both days went well. This weekend we had some more time out of the hospital and things seemed to go well again. So there is hope, but isn’t there always?

In my bedroom there is an old, glass Kraft peanut butter bank jar in the shape of a bear. It once contained a large amount of peanut butter. It now contains a small amount of money. The money has been put together in small increments selling things on Varagesale, Kijiji or to coworkers. Every time I sell something I put the money in the jar and no matter how much I want to use the money I haven’t touched it. Even now when the van needs repair, money is tight from the extra spent on gas, food and parking, when our son ran short on the rent and had to borrow to cover, even now I look at the money in the jar and discount the thought of using it.

The money is just money, but as long as the jar has something in it then there lies my hope. It’s my moving to Donna jar. The jar is my hope.

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Paul Verrall

A little while back, while walking the dog, I wandering into Paul Verrall’s yard and he generously gave me a tour of his balancing stone sculptures. At the time he was working on a bear – in Italian cappuccino alabaster. The bear is finished and I snagged a picture of it from his Facebook page for his sculptures. Great work.

Paul Verrall bear sculpture

Paul Verrall bear sculpture

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I almost forgot – the ISBN came in.

Yes, the ISBN for The Ultimate Great Basin Relay came in and the short story is now for sale on Woohoo. It can be read by anyone who has a Kindle or the Kindle app on their iPad or other device. The story will be available other formats from Smashword and iTunes in February – Amazon has it exclusive until then.

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It’s been a while

This iteration of my blog has been going since 2002 but it was housed on a different server prior to that and under a different name. I know I started it in 1997 but have no proof of that as a great many posts were lost to time and in various moves over the years. I did happen upon the Internet Wayback Machine a few days ago and found some evidence that I have been blogging for almost 20 years.

The landing page

The landing page – Jan 20, 1998

That was back in the days when I thought that the Internet would, could, be used to give everyone a voice instead of a means of corporations tracking employees, HR departments researching private lives, pile ons on people who do things other people don’t like and trolls. Oh well. That hasn’t happened to me yet but then I don’t give too much of myself away in my blog – that’s what short stories are for.

I will give you this – and it may be me at my most provocative. In my youth I hunted, fished, drank and smoked. I do not recommend these things to others, nor do I advise against their pursuit. I believe I am a good person and these things helped form me as much as giving them up did. The only belief I hold which has not changed over my life is that you are what you do, not what you say or think.

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The thin green line

Our daughter has been in hospital for two weeks now. We’re into week three and it looks like it might be a longer haul still.

She is doing better, thank you for wondering.

The experience has been a reminder that when you are poor the slightest variations in life kick everything into a different version of what is practical.

We, most of us, think we are practical: we aren’t. Practical is summed up by the following: what needs to be done next? Everything becomes a list of things to do and anything which is not a need is not relevant. Even taking time out to write this post seems superfluous, but if I don’t do it now it might never get done and then I will lose this moment and sometimes the loss of moments frightens me more than anything else.

Practical and money management don’t necessarily go hand in hand. Or maybe expediency and money management don’t. Either way, hospitals charge for parking.  When you have to get to work the next day, and you live more than an hour by public transport from the hospital, and you have to go from work to home to walk the dog, and then to the hospital to visit – it is more expedient to pay for parking than it is to try and use public transport – if you want to see your daughter that is.

Eating becomes more haphazard. The convenience of “grabbing a bite” while driving one way or the other is far more practical than getting groceries and taking time out to cook. Time is not in the least bit ductile.

There seems to be a boomerang feature to the vagaries of life. It shouldn’t come as a surprise but it always does. Everyone knows that the moment you find your footing is the moment your feet are most likely to go out from under you. Maybe the trick is in not trying to find your footing to begin with.

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Xmas wish

What I need for Xmas is a mild winter with no snow. That’s it, that’s all. So you know we’re going to have cold winter with higher than normal snowfalls. :)

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Waiting for ISBN

Cover for the new story "The Ultimate Great Basin Relay"

Cover for the new story “The Ultimate Great Basin Relay”

With the next story to be released I thought I would go a different route and use the Canadian ISBN service to get the International Standard Book Number for the story. Every publication in the contemporary era has an ISBN and it is required to publish on Kindle and iTunes. I have been using Smashwords for ISBN but for the next story – The Ultimate Great Basin Relay – I will be using Amazon exclusively for a three month period so I needed an ISBN from a different provider. I made the application to the ISBN service run by the Canadian government last week and haven’t heard back from them yet. If there’s an upside it has allowed me to discover a great deal about the e-publishing process which was foreign to me. The downside is that once a story is finished, and it takes a long time to be finished, I want it out the door.

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One small story at a time.

It’s not much of an oeuvre, but it’s all I’ve got. My most recent story A Tale of Thunder and Light – a tall tale is out in iTunes, Amazon and Smashwords. The story started as the result of an email exchange with west coast artist Timothy Wilson Hoey. Timothy has a series of paintings called the O’Canada series. He wanted someone to write the stories behind some of the paintings but he also wanted the stories to be in the tellers own words. I wanted to write my own stories based on his paintings or stories which could be illustrated by existing paintings. He agreed to let me give it a go which worked for me but not for him. The result was that I had two stories – A Tale of Thunder and Light and The Best Goalie on Prince Arthur Street – which were perfectly good grade 4 – 6 stories. I asked Timothy if I could use the painting which inspired A Tale of Thunder and Light for the cover and he agreed: free to use unless it goes to print then we discuss royalties. More than fair considering I didn’t do one thing he wanted. So a third story has been added to my very tiny contribution to the world of letters. The thing of it is, regardless of sales figures, I’m proud of each of them. There are more to come and in each case I am proud of the result of the work. I kind of want to revisit the idea of people telling their own stories for the paintings Timothy did. I’ve been reading Them Days which I’m starting to think might be one of the most important magazines in Canadian history from an oral historians standpoint. The stories, told in the words of the participants, transcribed by someone who knows where to put the punctuation (most of the time) are of value in and of themselves.
Thunder-And-Light4 copy

Going After the Big One (1)

letting-the-thunder-pass copy2

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