Most weekends and some weekdays I spend in Harrison Hot Springs lately in the company of our twenty year old son who has been staying in Harrison for the last month. Last night, plans with friends in Abbotsford caused me to stay in Abbotsford.
I awoke at three thirty and like most everyone else I grabbed a screen to check texts, emails, social media and news sites.
This screen checking is a regular habit for me, my wife and I suspect a lot of other people when they awake during the night.
Thank God for screens and the internet. What did people do fifty years ago before smart phones, ipads etc when they awoke in the middle of the night. I have no idea! Although I do know that birth rates were higher then.
Checking my texts I saw that twenty year old son Andrew had texted from Harrison saying that there was no power in the house in Harrison and that his phone was about to die. He thought that only our house was affected.
This caused my mind to spring to attention. What could cause this? I thought. Was it just our house. Fortunately I was now wide awake and I focused my mind on what to do next. In such circumstances I am very organized and methodical so I did what I usually do in such circumstances. I turned over and woke up Pam.
I inquired what she thought the problem was. When she roused to consciousness she checked the B. C Hydro website and told me that all of Harrison Hot Springs was subject to a power outage because of a fallen tree. The tree had fallen because of tonight's storm ( another atmospheric river). I had solved another mystery. I marvel at my own resourcefulness.
My quick thinking to identify the problem resulted in me getting up, showering and heading off at 4:30 for Harrison Hot Springs.
My arrival into a dark house in a dark village to find Andrew wandering in the dark resulted in my connecting his iphone into a power outlet in my car. That charge has resulted in us both sitting in the dark, in a dark house, in a dark village, staring at our screens. Ah, technology.
Like most everyone in the Fraser Valley this morning, I woke to well over a foot of snow on the road and on my cars . It wasn't a surprise as it had been predicted , but it continues to snow so with schools and the University closed and roads experiencing further snow accumulation, today would be best described as a "Snow Day".
After fielding some texts from employees who advised that they would not be able to come into work, I made arrangements to pick up one, Barb, and to head into work. As I got ready for work, I recognized that I had a significant amount of work ahead of me to dig my car out and clear it off from the snow. I do have one car with winter tires, four-wheel-drive and it's so heavy that I can hardly afford to buy gas for it. That car I call my winter car and I keep it solely for purposes like today. It seemed excited to get some attention.
When showered and dressed, I decided it was time to get moving only to discover that my wife Pam had already gone outdoors and started clearing the driveway and digging my car out. That allowed me to clear off my car and hit the road very quickly, accomplish my errands and get to work. Honestly, I remember that this is usually our pattern when there is snow. Pam usually clears the snow before I get a chance to do so. I'm not sure if it's because she thinks it is unhealthy from a cardiac perspective for me to shovel snow or she thinks I will mess it up.
Now it goes without saying that I am more than prepared to shovel snow. I am as manly as the next guy. Assuming the next guy is somewhat wussy who hates being snowy, wet, or inconvenienced.
On this past weekend our area hit phenomenally low temperatures. This past Saturday the temperature in Harrison was almost -20 and the wind was phenomenal blowing off cold Harrison Lake as well as shifting much of the beach sand into the village. It was all I could do to walk down to Muddy Waters ( less than a block) ￼which I knew was closed. It was, in fact, unbearably cold, and being in the house was much appreciated. I had huge sympathy for the homeless that day.
Sunday was equally cold, windy and miserable and another day to stay indoors to hide from the elements. When I headed back to Abbotsford and met with Pam late in the afternoon, I found out that she had been at Norrish Creek, east of Mission, flyfishing.
Flyfishing. On a cold and miserable day when I didn't even want to walk to the car. What kind of a person does this? For the last three months, she has been heading out fishing for different types of salmon and steelhead at various locations in the Fraser Valley and enjoying it immensely. I don't enjoy fishing, otherwise I would offer to go with her, but I fear that if I did, it would reduce her enjoyment significantly. I would, of course complain about the cold, the wet, and well, you get the picture.
Anyone who knows Pam knows what an amazing person she is when she takes on a pursuit. Whether it was being a skydiving instructor in the past, hiking the West Coast Trail by herself five years ago, building her sheshed in the backyard with skylight, windows, flooring, a heat pump with A/C etc following YouTube instructions and, well you get the picture. Fishing is receiving the same attention to detail.
Pam is a wonderful role model and her two daughters have every reason to believe that women can do everything that men can do or at least I thought that is the conclusion that they would reach. But apparently, after comparing their mother to me, they have grown up with the belief that women can accomplish many more things than men can.
Clearly, my daughters feel that the world is their oyster and they can accomplish anything they want. Unfortunately I fear that my sons fear they have only a life of mediocrity ahead of themselves.
Everyone should have a Pam.
After two years impacted by COVID-19 and its affect on our economy and our spirits, 2023 offered us an opportunity for optimism and enthusiasm. Falsely.
I am very much an optimistic person, and very much inclined to see progress. I feel that I am becoming a better person all the time (would that I should live so long to actually be a decent person) and I see my children starting off as much better balanced people than I am with much better attitudes towards diversity. ￼ They don't have to spend a lot of time overcoming the prejudices that I and most people of my generation started my life with.
But I am afraid that my optimism has been greatly damaged and I must say the year 2023 is the culprit.
If I thought that society was becoming more respectful of diversity and less hateful of "the other" 2023 has given me much evidence to the contrary.
If I thought that world politics was actually beginning to be governed by morality, and a sense of the importance of human life, 2023 has given me clear evidence to the contrary, as we end, not only with the war in Ukraine, which has seen many Russian atrocities, but a devastating war in the middle east. Obviously the life of innocent children and adults is significantly less important than political goals and ideologies.
Our world political institutions appear impotent, unable to end senseless killing and unable to work effectively towards resolving obvious environmental issues.
American politics has become totally disheartening as small minded individuals pursue loud divisive policies, and rouse their respective bases to donate multi millions of dollars to election campaigns, so that they can be reelected to raise even more funds for their next election campaign. Morality seems to be missing amongst the many voices who clamber for book banning and reduction of rights of various individuals. With the money raised in American politics, you can only conclude that every member of Congress has been properly bought and paid for. But if the United States is unable to provide any moral leadership (was it ever?) who do we turn to? Russia with it's criminal invasion of Ukraine.? China with its immense repression of human rights? Europe with its growth of nationalistic and anti-immigrant governments? India and its nationalism?
Perhaps it's best for me to just keep my head down and stay in Harrison Hot Springs with its dysfunctional municipal government.
I am sure that I will wake up tomorrow and welcome 2024 and start off with another large dose of foolish optimism and hope. What else can I do?
On one of my last posts I referred to North American adoration of celebrities and used (unwisely) Taylor Swift as an example. I received much feedback on that choice, through Facebook, messaging and texts. Clearly, a wise person does not discuss politics, religion, sex or Taylor Swift.
Since my raising Taylor Swift in a post worked so well for me, I thought I would venture into yet one more of the taboo topics . Today I thought I would venture into religion. Perhaps in the next week I will venture into politics, considering the current state of the world. Sex I know nothing about so I will studiously avoid that topic.
There is something about the Christmas season that causes reflection about faith. But first let me talk about emotion and Lady Gaga.
I am not an emotional person. I have worked hard to contain my emotions as I was taught to by my parents of English ancestry. I think that I learned that showing emotion displayed weakness, and I don't think I've actually cried about anything since I was 17. But I think that as we get older, we become more open to emotion. I can only think back to seeing tears in the eyes of my hard-as-nails father when he was 80 and was surprised by a visit from Ontario by my brother and his late wife. Those tears absolutely amazed me.
This morning I took a fast look at Facebook, and on one of the reels it had part of a recording from Lady Gaga and Brad Cooper of their award winning song, Shallow. I cannot hear that song without having a catch in my throat.
I am what would probably best be described as a liberal Christian. I believe in a God of love, but not of judgment. My United church background has taught me to take the Bible seriously but not literally. My faith is mixed with science and rationality. But I understand the importance of emotion in spirituality. And perhaps it's because of the preponderance of rationality and less emotionality that my church, the United church is declining in numbers. People want emotion just as they want black and white answers and truths. But the United church does fit my family' s general view of spiritualty and the world. We must all follow the path that our faith or lack of faith takes us.
One of my favorite authors, that I read in one of our United Church Book Studies, was Marcus Borg. A theologian who focused on looking for Thin Spots. Places where we feel closer to the spirit whatever we may name that entity. Some find it in nature some find it in family love. I find it strongest in music. I find standing in church badly singing a hymn with thirty, fifty, or two hundred other people badly singing is a thin spot for me. And it may not be a hymn. It can be a choir or perhaps even "Shallow" by Lady Gaga. But at those moments my thin spot tells me that I am part of something greater. And it reminds me that I must contribute to my world positively and with love. Faith should never be a source of hatred or judgment. Or exploitation.
Many of the presentations of Christmas music, choral music, and productions like Handel's Messiah, will provide people with those thin spots that most of us crave. As I get older, I am more intentional in my seeking of thin spots. Christmas season is a time rich with such thin spots, whatever your faith or worldview.
What are your thin spots?
I read today that Taylor Swift has been named Time magazine’s person of the year.
Before I offend any Swifty’s, let me set out that I think she’s a wonderful musician, a great entertainer, and someone who generally seems to live a very admirable life. I like her, although I can’t imagine ever putting enough money together for a ticket to one of her concerts but then again, I am frugal.
And let me also add as a codicil that being named by Time Magazine is not as significant as it was 20 or 30 years ago, when perhaps people actually even read the magazine.
But really??? Person of the year? Did she create a cure for cancer when I wasn’t looking? Bring peace to Palestine or the Ukraine? An admirable, person, and entertainer she may be but to designate her as person of the year is to put the final nail in the coffin of rational thought. Clearly, the United States is a society obsessed with celebrity.
With apologies to my American friends, the United States has become a society totally obsessed and controlled by celebrity. I thought the election of television star, Donald Trump, that marketing expert who specializes in marketing,what else, Donald Trump, was the pinnacle of the United States total debasement of itself in the face of celebrity. It is comforting to know that the United States, which has become a society that devalues and attacks professionals, education, credentials, experts, science, and everything that has been valued increasingly since the enlightenment, has found its comfort in the cult of celebrity.
Want a good job? Don’t go to university and be ridiculed by the common man. Instead, go on social media, say something controversial and become an influencer. Find a group of people with even lower IQs and become a million dollar a year earner. Don’t waste your time in journalism school and gathering facts. Simply have loud opinions and you can become a celebrity overnight. Become a celebrity and you become wealthy. Become wealthy and you become a celebrity.
Why have all the traditional religions of the world not recognized the importance of celebrity. Clearly that must be the only entrance requirement for heaven, if one believes in heaven. Perhaps we need a new religion led by a celebrity!
Allow me to climb down off my soapbox of self-righteousness for a moment. Perhaps my still lingering fever and cold have caused me to become even more cynical than I was. And let me also make clear that although I see the United States leading us into the cult of celebrity as they have led the world into so many things, we in Canada are not immune from the cult, although our national inferiority complex has slowed us from creating celebrities. I thank Time magazine for rubbing our obsession with celebrity in our faces.
And once again, for the safety of myself and my family, I want to reassert for any Swifty‘s who may read this that she is a phenomenally, good singer entertainer, and an admirable person. Just not person of the year.
Mid Friday afternoon I suddenly became very cold and began to shake such that it actually became very difficult to sign cheques and letters. I quickly exited the office and came straight home and went to bed. I don't think that I've ever felt colder and I don't think I've ever had a higher fever.
I basically stayed in bed for two days. When I did get up, my balance was gone so I fell several times. The kids showed up at my door to express sympathy, but stayed well away from me. Pam came in several times to check up on me. At one time I thought I saw an insurance form.
She did stay in the room long enough for me to explain the severe discomfort I was experiencing. I've often thought that women don't appreciate the significance of a Man cold and how it causes greater pain and discomfort than even childbirth.
Pam did relieve herself of the inconvenience of listening to me complain today by heading off fishing this morning at the Chahallis River. Perhaps it was with the belief that nature would do it's nasty little job while she wasn't in the house but when she does return from fishing, she will find that I'm still alive, and partly recovered.
It has been a long time since I have spent two days in bed or for that matter two days in the house without leaving . I had no idea that the kids spent so much time in their rooms on their screens. Which is, come to think of it, exactly what I did for the two days when I wasn't sleeping.
Sometimes I wonder if when we completely destroy nature, we will even notice since we spend all our time in our rooms on our screens.
In any event, if there's one lesson for me to take from this it is that I should be grateful I am sick so seldom. I don't do sickness well. Oh, and I'm sure my family is grateful as well that I am sick so seldom.
A week ago, this year old post popped up on my Facebook "Memories". This was the second trip of a series after Pam and I had decided that our children were old enough to stay in the house by themselves, and that we should try and get away every two or three months by ourselves for a weekend. The first two trips to that stage were very enjoyable, and very memorable. Despite that. We haven't gone away together since.
Pam has mentioned numerous times that if she is around to choose my gravestone it will say on the front "the best of intentions". You can guess what it will say on the back.
Massaging the Messenger: November 2022
Yesterday was Christmas in November. Almost every community had various Christmas markets going on, Harrison Hot Springs had its opening night of Lights on the Lake with entertainment and fireworks and historic Downtown Abbotsford had it's Winter Jubilee, complete with Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus, and the Grinch.
I raced back from Harrison Hot Springs to Abbotsford yesterday afternoon for the opening of the Winter Jubilee at 4 PM so that I could welcome visitors from the stage as president of the Downtown Abbotsford Business Association. The crowd was small, my welcome was brief. Are people afraid of the rain that was predicted, I asked myself.
But then the crowd started growing. And growing. Perhaps they delayed to intentionally miss my welcome speech. But then the crowds grew. And grew. And soon the streets were filled with booths, vendors, children's activities, music from various venues, including the main stage, and people. Lots of people.
The lineup to see Santa was immense.
I considered entering the lineup to once again ask Santa for what I have asked for my entire life . Charm and good looks. But Santa has always failed to deliver and this time the lineup was way too long. And it just seems wrong to sit on Santa's lap at this time of my life.
As I left early to head back to an event in the Agassiz area, I walked against the flood of people who were still entering the downtown. In my estimation, the event was a massive success. We provided a Christmas experience to thousands of people in The Abbotsford area and an opportunity to showcase our businesses, both new and old. I have been involved in the downtown Abbotsford Business Association for about 23 years and president for several of those years and I am immensely proud of the professionalism of last nights event. I have only gratitude for our staff, volunteers, sponsors, and businesses that took part.
The only downside of the evening was that in order to play my very small role in the Abbotsford event I missed the opening of Lights on the Lake in Harrison, which apparently brought thousands of people, a phenomenal firework show, and the entertainment of such great musicians as Todd Richard and the TR band
If only there were two of me . There's a thought that will give my wife nightmares.
Those who regularly torture themselves by reading my weekly posts, will know that recently our dog, Griffin, has had some difficult days and last week a visit to the vet disclosed what previous visits had not, and that was that Griffin had cancer in several places in his body. There was an initial discussion in the family as to whether Griffin should be euthanized, but based on the vets assurances that he was not in any great discomfort or pain, the family decided that Griffin would continue on and hopefully die peacefully at home. This morning, our beloved eleven year old puppy took a turn for the worst and was taken to the vet and was peacefully put down. So ends the life of a beloved furry family member who was one of the calmest, best behaved dogs that I have ever experienced.
The photo below shows Griffin, the brown Labradoodle riding in the back of a convertible with his constant companion, Uma, our white poodle. Griffin had confided in me that whenever he was driving in the back of the convertible, he felt particularly attractive to female dogs (perhaps his own midlife crisis). He also confided that at those times he felt particularly resentful of having been neutered.
Death has been on my mind lately, whether by reason of knowing of the impending death of our family dog, or our oldest son's near fatal accident in the summer.
When I was a child, death was a tragedy to be feared. The worst thing that could happen. Growing up in a company mining town, my experience was that when one of my friend's fathers died of a heart attack not only did they lose their father but they were also forced to leave the community no later than the end of the school year, so that their house could be freed up for another mining employee. My observation was that on the death of a father my friends would lose not only a beloved family member, but all of their friends and the stability of living in the community in which they were born.
But over time as I've aged, I recognize that death is not to be feared, and is a natural part of life. In fact, it is perhaps death that makes life meaningful. Unlike in previous centuries where people died at home, and death was a family event, our society has been inclined to remove the person, and quite often they die on their own in a hospital. We do the same thing with pets when we take them to be euthanized.
When my mother died at the age of 90, having required a second operation within a week that she was not able to survive, it was some comfort that when she died we were all able to spend the morning holding her hand and talking to her. Somehow that felt much better than simply being told of a death, as in the case of my father, 15 years earlier. Although I certainly don't equate the death of our dog with the death of my mother, I do see the benefit of the dog, having spent a week at our house clearly dying, and the children hand feeding him steak and other delectables, and hugging him, and cuddling him at all times. He truly seemed to enjoy his last week, and I believe it was healthy for our teen aged children.
I think our society has removed us from death, and weakened our understanding that it is a natural part of life, and not necessarily even a bad part of life, although, obviously, the death of a young person is tragic. But for people and animals that have lived a full life, of course one grieves, but that is not necessarily the absolute tragedy that I viewed it to be when I was a child. I have slowly developed the accepting attitude that my father exhibited all of his life. That allowed him to joke about death, particularly his own, and not fear it.
We all learn about death in our own ways from our own experiences. I'm trusting that the death of our beloved puppy helped provide my children with a healthy understanding of death.
Rest in peace, Griffin.
Posts copied from FaceBook.