As a child growing up in a small northern Ontario mining town I remember trudging through fresh snow on many Halloween nights with my pillow case filled with candy that I would never eat. Although I wasn’t a huge fan of candy I would fill that pillow case several times so that I could hoard away candy that I would not eat and that would eventually be thrown away by my mother. Obviously an early lesson in capitalism and the joys of acquisition. That probably explains why we have the garages of two houses filled with freezers and food, much of it expired. A source of frustration for my spouse, Pam, and ridicule from my friends. But they’ll be whimpering at my door for supplies when a natural disaster strikes. But I digress. I wanted to talk about snow.
Remembering that childhood snow is what has made me resolve to never live anywhere in Canada east of the Fraser Valley.
But this photo from the front of our law office in downtown Abbotsford is taken this morning. Snow before Thanksgiving, you ask? Is there nowhere for me to live to get away from snow?
Well this snow was placed here this morning for the filming of a Hallmark Christmas movie. Although I have never watched one, there seems to be a different Christmas movie shot in downtown Abbotsford every week. They have long ago lost their novelty and have become a nuisance. How many cheesy Christmas movie plots does the world need. In any event they give me a regular exposure to snow. Something that I hate seeing except at ski resorts. It’s amazing how something that was such a large part of the first seventeen years of my life can evoke such strong negative reactions in me now. Much like Velveeta cheese.
Have a good thanksgiving weekend. I’m thankful for my family and the blessings of my life including where I live.
And thankful that snow is no longer a large part of my life. Except for movie sets.
And I’m thankful that I have such convenient access to expired food products.
Count your blessings this weekend!
Firstly, let me out myself. I listen to CBC Radio 1. I love their interview and idea programs like Quirks and Quarks, Ideas and Sunday Magazine. If I’m in the car by myself it’s CBC time. If the girls are with me it’s the music of today. It is that forced exposure to modern music that has made me as cool as I am. Do they still say “cool”?
This morning I had the good fortune to listen to an interview of Lauren McNamera an education researcher who had hearing impairment as a child. She made one comment that has stayed in my mind (even to the extent that I didn’t listen to the sermon in church - like that’s never happened before).
She said of recess at elementary school that the best thing about recess was being with your friends. And that the worst thing about recess was having no friends. She detailed how her hearing impairment isolated her at school and made her the object of ridicule by other kids. And how that impacted her and how long it took her to deal with that in later life.
I always think of myself as someone who tries to do the right thing. But I can’t avoid the memory of a boy in my elementary school in the small northern Ontario Mining town in which I grew up who was ridiculed constantly for being extremely uncoordinated (dyspraxia) and having an odd smell. Did I mention that he also played the bagpipes? The word “itis” was attached to the end of his last name and he was taunted in the playground mercilessly often to tears, by many of his class mates. Sometimes including me. Not often by me, but a couple of times. Even though I occasionally played with him. Even though I could see how cruel this was. But I preferred to be one of the taunters than one of the taunted. Being part of the group that taunted was a form of acceptance. Doing the right thing was not.
I am a work in progress. I am no longer an eight year old seeking acceptance by sharing the cruelty of a peer group. But that does not excuse the impact of that shared cruelty on that boy. I sometimes wonder how his life has developed and whether he overcame that early unnecessary impediment to being a secure accepted person.
My eleven year old son Adam on numerous occasions has stood up for kids at school being ridiculed or bullied. His only fight to date was to pull someone off of his buddy Jugandeep . He is offended in hearing negative comments about the race, orientation, appearance etc of other people and kids. His attitudes are so much better than mine at his age. Not to sound like I’m bragging about him, he does apparently swear like a sailor when no adults are around. We are working on that. But I want to be more like Adam.
What is my point this Sunday afternoon? That we need to be more accepting of everyone. Even people that make us uncomfortable. We need to build a culture of acceptance. In families. In schools. In workplaces. In communities. Even on Facebook. But I compare a young Adam to a young Gerry and I see huge progress. Be more like Adam.
This post has been Adam approved so that I am not invading his privacy
How can anyone not be grateful for the natural beauty that we are blessed to experience in this nation. Harrison Lake provides a beautiful photograph even when the sky is cloud covered.
The morning sunlight coming through my windows teased me to come outside for my morning walk and photograph of the lake only to then rain on me once I was a distance from the house. I will consider that message from nature sometime in the future. Today I want to think about thanksgiving.
I know that the genesis of Thanksgiving (the holiday ) and Columbus Day celebrated in the United States this weekend is the myth of “discovery” and that the symbolism of that discovery and resulting colonialism is painful for our First Nations who suffered as a result of that “discovery”. But Thanksgiving the holiday has evolved to be much more than it’s genesis. The holiday has evolved, just as I have (not enough) and my nation has (not nearly enough yet ). Thanksgiving is about gratitude. Gratitude for the privilege of sharing the natural beauty and bounty of this nation. Gratitude to and for your family, friends, good fortune and your creator, if you believe in one.
Take the opportunity to feel grateful for the positives in your life. There are lots of other days to think of negatives and problems.
This is a photo my beautiful wife, Pam, took last night of beautiful Harrison Lake. I have decided to use it as my new profile cover photo. Unfortunately the profile picture of my aged yet airbrushed face blocks the best part of the Harrison sun set. Oh well, not the first time my face has diminished nature’s beauty.
A Journal of the Covid 19 year. I have just returned from one of my many daily walks along the the lakeside street of Harrison Hot Springs. It is so surreal to walk along the lake and by empty closed businesses that you usually see bustling with visitors this time of year.
Perhaps because tomorrow would have been my 65th birthday if I had not decided to cancel and delay it for five years because of the virus, or perhaps because of the much greater time that we are all spending in our homes now, I find myself much more reflective and thinking about growing up in Levack, Ontario, a town of 3,100 just a little bigger than Harrison Hot Springs). I hope that being reflective of your past is not a sign of impending death. In any event, my walks today remind me of every Sunday in the small town that I grew up in . At that time there was a provincial statute in Ontario requiring Sunday closure. Although I always recognized the problem with imposing a day of rest based on on one faith on citizens of many faiths and often no faith, I did lament the change in the law allowing Sunday openings. Sunday closures created a day when family members would generally be together, rather than individually racing around to jobs and other commitments like all of the other days of the week.
The Covid 19 virus shutdown of most businesses has created that situation every day of the week and reminded me of the closed Sundays of my youth. Don’t misunderstand, I like shopping and being busy on Sundays. The extra day of work has probably improved our collective material wealth. I am a much wealthier consumer because of it. And yet if there is one positive result of this gloomy virus pandemic, it is the forced creation of time for family and reflection. Maybe one day per week of that wouldn’t be so bad.
I promise this is my last doting Daddy post. While I lament social distancing (unbeknownst to me I really like being around people) and lament that my major isolation time project is slowly and pitifully marking my UFV final exams (I now am officially late in turning in marks), my daughter Lauren is making the best of the family isolation, with the positive attitude that I aspire to have.
April 30 at 7:07 PMI passed some time yesterday drawing this. I’ve found that this is a great time to work on developing different skills and interests. I’ve started drawing, practicing calligraphy and hand lettering, learning new dance/acro skills, hiking, relearning how to play the piano, learning ASL, and much more. I hope to come out of self isolation with all sorts of new skills and hobbies that I otherwise wouldn’t have had time to learn. I hope everyone is staying safe and healthy during this time.
A Journal of the COVID 19 year. One of the realities of the pandemic is the cancellation of all of the spring and summer events to which we usually look forward. Recognizing this reality of cancellation I have decided to cancel my May 4th birthday. I mean the birthday itself. Not any party. I could easily proceed with a party of all my friends and family and not have numbers that would cause provincial health chief Bonnie Henry any concern. And I could manage appropriate social distancing and still hold the party in a broom closet. My decision to cancel my birthday is not for distance compliance but out of solidarity with all of the other cancelled events. My next birthday will be delayed for five years, out of principle. As a result I will not hit 65 until May 4, 2025 rather than next week. I recognize this is a sacrifice, but this pandemic calls for sacrifice.
The five year delay in celebrating my birthday is in fact very little sacrifice for me. Why should I celebrate my birthday? What accomplishment is attaining 65. It’s not like I found a cure for cancer or a new vaccine for Covid 19. All I had to do was breath for 65 years, and I almost messed that up. So, in summary, I will not be having a birthday next week, no matter what the Facebook birthday reminder says. And yes, I continue to post on Facebook while avoiding marking my final exams.
I am a dinosaur. Not only do I write using full words and sentences (a rarity on social media) I have no real understanding or appreciation of the modern technological world. My sons play electronic games with people from all over the world. I hear youngest son Adam talking to fellow gamers throughout the night. My daughters interact with their friends throughout the day by various online means. For them, social isolating is not that isolating. Today I was introduced to my kids’ Tic Tok accounts. They and most of their friends have posted numerous lip sync and dance routines. Now I know what the kids are doing up in their rooms all day. Even our dog Griffin has a Tic Tok account. I feel so left behind. And yet I can’t imagine myself lip synching and doing dance routines. Imagine, a dancing dinosaur
Photo by Pamela Palmer