Sunday, December 27, 2009

Grandchildren Sleepover and Painting Lesson

This is Boxing Day evening sleep over for five grandchildren with Nana and Papa.
One of the activities was a painting lesson with Papa(Grandpa)- me. All five around the kitchen island with watercolour paper in front of them. We each drew pictures with graphite first and then painted them in.

It takes a Grandma to set this up and pull it off. I would never have the nerve or the patience. But to my amazement, three boy cousins in one bedroom and two female cousins in another large bed and bedroom, went to sleep without hesitation and slept through the night. This morning two boys woke early and I cuddled them in a blanket to watch cartoons, then we had cereal and waited for the others. Grandma sewed the pajamas for all of them.

A Family Shot twelve years apart. A few Additions and Subtractions.

These two photos are not only representative of how time passes but what transpires during the passage of time. And they are also a testament to what truly matters in life and particularly during the Christmas season. The Loving relationships between people and within family mean so much.

Here is a twelve year old picture of Christine and me and our children, Cari and her husband Tim, and Jeff and his girlfriend Gina. With us are my parents, Ed and Tina Unruh, both of whom have passed away since then. They were however, well enough to be at both of our children's weddings.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

12 Days Before or After Christmas? and spiritual significance?

Twelve Days of Christmas

What is often not understood is that The Twelve Days Of Christmas which we now customarily celebrate as preceding Christmas day, really begin on Christmas day December 25 and proceed until January 5 the day before the twelfth day, the Feast of the Epiphany on 6 January. For instance, the BC Ministry of Healthy Living and Sport this year promoted the Twelve Days of Christmas from December 13 to December 24 in Robson Square with ice skating at GE, hot chocolate, visits from Santa Claus, entertainment and children’s craft activities.

In actual fact the Twelve Days of Christmas are the festive days beginning on Christmas Day (25 December). This period has been known as Christmastide. The Twelfth night marked the end of the Christmas season. In Tudor England, Twelfth Night itself was forever solidified in popular culture when William Shakespeare used it as setting for one of his most famous stage plays, titled Twelfth Night.

Although the song by this name ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’ was first published in England in 1780, the textual evidence may indicate the song is of French origin and this popular Christmas carol contains increasingly grandiose gifts which ‘my true love sent to me’ over a twelve day span of Christmastide: 12 Drummers Drumming, 11 Pipers Piping, 10 Lords a-Leaping, 9 Ladies Dancing, 8 Maids a-Milking, 7 Swans a-Swimming, 6 Geese a-Laying, 5 Gold Rings, 4 Colly Birds (often given as "Calling Birds"), 3 French Hens, 2 Turtle Doves, and a Partridge in a Pear Tree.

The song itself has often been viewed as a nonsense song for children. In fact, there have been numerous parodies of the song through the years. Interestingly, as early as the 16th century there were implications of spirituality for the song, that is that there were hidden references to basic Christian tenets of faith. The latter notion suggests that this is a mnemonic device to teach the catechism to youngsters so each gift refers to some aspect of Christian faith. The "true love" mentioned in the song is not an earthly suitor, but refers to God Himself. The "me" who receives the presents refers to every baptized person who is part of the Christian Faith. The partridge in a pear tree is Jesus the Christ, and Three French Hens are the Three Theological Virtues: 1) Faith, 2) Hope, and 3) Love (1 Corinthians 13:13) and Nine Ladies Dancing are the nine Fruit of the Holy Spirit: 1) love, 2) joy, 3) peace, 4) patience, 5) kindness, 6) generosity, 7) faithfulness, 8) gentleness, and 9) self-control.(Galatians 5:22). I am sorry but this effort strikes me as improbable, even comedic. Some church historians affirm this account as basically accurate, while others point out apparent historical and logical discrepancies. There is no substantive evidence available either way.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

George Frederick Handel’s famed oratorio called 'Messiah'


Early each December in our home, our cherished CD’s of George Frederick Handel’s famed oratorio called Messiah are dropped into the CD player and we begin to listen to the words of scripture set to some of the finest music ever composed.

I credit two friends of ours with beginning that tradition for us thirty years ago. For a stretch of nine years, a couple of elderly women in my Toronto church spoiled Christine and me each December. Their Christmas gift to us was to take us to Ed’s downtown restaurant just across from the Roy Thompson Hall where following dinner we would enjoy the magnificent sounds of the Toronto Symphony and the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir as they performed Handel’s Messiah.

Handel’s Messiah is a choral oratorio, not an opera, determined by the fact that the choir plays the major role. Handel’s Messiah is by far the most popular of all choral literature and while I know oratorio is not everyone’s choice of music you have all been exposed to some music from the Messiah, even if only a perverted Hallelujah chorus used offensively in Bugs Bunny cartoons or toilet tissue advertisements. The music is exquisite but the best part is the text. It’s Biblical. For the child of God the text is enough to make one shake and tremble in admiration of God.

Handel’s Messiah is a reflective commentary on God’s Promise, His Incarnation, His Passion and His Resurrection. With most sacred oratorios, while the themes may be biblical, they do not use Biblical texts. The Messiah does, skillfully, brilliantly, movingly. Today I will read you the text of the first part and preach on a small section of the scripture I quote. There are three parts. I was guest preacher this past Sunday morning at Aldergrove Baptist Church and I chose to preach from Isaiah 40:1-5 which contains the opening words of Part One. The text of Messiah is taken from the King James version of the Bible.

"Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the LORD'S hand double for all her sins. The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it."

I told the folk there that if they like what they hear they can invite me back around Easter and I can read to them the second part from Handel’s Messiah and preach a message from the text it uses. “Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world.” Then if they are up to it, they can invite me as summer begins and I will read to them the text from the third part which is such an encouraging and triumphant reminder of our hope. “I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth.” For now is Christ is risen from the dead, the first-fruits of them that sleep.” How’s that for inviting oneself.

Listen to conductor Trevor Pinnock introduce "Comfort, Comfort ye My People," and then tenor Kurt Streit singing this 3:37 min section.

Photo credit for Roy Thompson Hall: Cliff Spice

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Christmas is Upon Us

It's the 6th of December 2009 and the Christmas season is here. Today at church Christine and I were part of an ensemble that sang several selections from Handel's Messiah and that was a delight for us, and it sounded like others were thrilled to listen. Annually in our home the Messiah oratorio has been part of our celebration of the season. Christmas is a season of lights. Our pastor spoke about darkness and light. World news is frequently characterized by dark news bites much as it was in Jesus' day. He arrived as the light of the world. He pierces the darkness. Since then, all who follow him are instructed to serve as light and to insure that the light is not concealed in any way. Christine and I enjoyed a dinner at the Lampliter restaurant in Fort Langley and then in the afternoon, my two sons, one blood and the other in law, assisted me, virtually did it for me, that is, helped me set up our Christmas Tree. We purchased this 14 foot tree last Saturday an an dinner/auction for a Christian school. This is a tall and heavy tree and now it is in our living room with lights up and down and ornaments to come. Tomorrow we have friends coming over for a dinner. After the tree set up, we stopped at Tim Horton's donut place with Jeff and Gina and two of our grandkids for a snack because they had been to downtown Cloverdale to watch the Santa Claus parade. The season is rich with experiences. I speak to a bunch of seniors this Wednesday at a Christmas lunch gathering. Of course I don't yet admit too loudly that I also am a senior. I am in denial.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Ready to Fly

A friend and I were in Arizona and we drove to the Grand Canyon where we climbed aboard a helicopter for an aerial flight over the Canyon, and my first ride in a helicopter. Sitting in this glass bubble cockpit, the landscape came at me from underneath and every side surpassing an IMAX rush. The copter company’s slogan was ‘Ready to Fly.’

My mother, not consciously, but effectively, was ready to fly ever since she was a young girl. In her case, it took an entire lifetime to finally experience that for which her training had prepared her. She was 88 years old when she went to heaven. But she was ready to fly much sooner.

On this date, November 6th, 2007, Mom dismissed gravity and her spirit soared. For the past several years of her life she had steadily lost so much of the vibrancy and power that had marked her identity through all the years that her three boys and eventually their spouses knew her.

As a very young woman she was a strikingly lovely prairie woman who bedazzled a debonair and balding young man with a pencil thin mustache who was known in his home town of Hepburn as the whistler. Hepburn was a predominantly German Mennonite community and Mom committed herself by faith to Christ as a young girl. She stepped outside the norm in marrying Dad who while born to church going parents had himself not yet made a faith commitment but was otherwise a really good guy. Soon after their first son was born, (me), her husband enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force as WWII raged overseas. When the war was over Ed and Tina started a coffee shop on Hepburn’s main street. Soon after however, they moved to St. Catharines, Ontario in hopes of a better standard of living and a brand new beginning. Dad got a job at Thompson Products, then the Ontario Paper Mill and finally Anthes Imperial. He was always a factory labourer, always proud of the quality of his work and the reputation he established with his foreman and peers. Mom was in love with him all of her life, confident in him, safe in his care. Then when he was in his mid-thirties he too placed his faith exclusively in Jesus Christ, and now Mom had a spiritual partner as well. She was a woman with an entrepreneurial spirit, whether it was cleaning houses for someone else, sewing garments, or starting a successful catering business. She was married to a one woman man who encouraged her in every ambitious pursuit. She assembled a cook book entitled “My Heritage” with illustrations by my brother Neale and me. She was a leader of women, a helper, a confidant, a reluctant speaker, and a woman totally amazed that God could and would use her, and use her three sons in Christian work, and give her three daughters in law whom she loved like daughters. Gradually in her late eighties, her recollections clouded, and her communication diminished and her enjoyment of life here disappeared. And finally, although she had never wanted Dad to be the one left behind, she was ready to fly. There was lift off. She was 88. At the age of 92 Dad stood by her side and in the company of us all he said, “Good night sweetheart. I’ll be seeing you soon.” Dad only hung around for six months before he too became airborne. That’s easy to understand.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

My Friend Bob

We are heading home from Phoenix to Seattle to Bellingham. This is a great day.
For the past ten days I have been in Bob's company to provide service to him, as his chauffeur, gofer and you name it. Best of all, we are friends. He has been here for surgery, his thirtieth surgery, a consequence of an horrific vehicle accident in June 2006. In that accident an out of control car struck his rental van. His wife Donna, and his mother Lillian died because of that crash. His daughter Kim and his son in law Brent were severely injured as he himself was. The young couple's several months old son was spared injury.

I helped to officiate the memorial service for the two women more than a month after the accident - sufficient time for the three adults to be well enough to be wheeled into church. Three wheel chairs occupied by surviving members of a loved family moved the congregants to erupt in a spontaneous and heart-felt standing O salted with tears.

These have been difficult years with many challenges for Bob and for me to share these days with him has been my privilege. I love this man of God. We have talked and prayed and laughed much.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

What a Great Day! I Held an Art Show

I held my first real art show Sunday afternoon from 2-5 PM and perhaps 30-40 people came and stayed, looked around and by the conclusion I had moved 10 paintings out of 27 shown. What a wonderful surprise to Christine and me. I sold Greek scenes, French scenes and local agricultural scenes and even three archived watercolours, one of the White Mountains painted in 1988 and two of Muskoka painted in 1991. We had refreshments available. I wore my beret all afternoon. As I greeted people at the door and they saw me in the hat they laughed. Classical music played in the background. Christine set it up very attractively.

I had a handout page with the titles and an indication that if a visitor asked to reserve a painting of interest, a red dot would be placed on the piece. Yesterday we delivered sold items to their new owners, with a card on the back that tells the story behind the painting and has my signature. Now, Christine who was a bit reluctant thinks I should do this every month. Ha,Ha, Ha! I would turn into a painting factory. I returned four large paintings to their show place in Stephanie Cadiex's MLA office where they will hang until the end of November. On November 8th I install many of my remaining paintings in the Watershed Arts Café until the end of November. Perhaps I may hold another show in April or May, that is, if we still have the house which we are still pondering about, selling and downsizing. This coming Sunday I travel with Bob Dobson to Phoenix where he will have his 34th (or some number like that) surgery on his leg and I can keep him company and act as his chauffeur for ten days. We may even slip up to the Grand Canyon. I have never scene that.

And that afternoon event followed my morning of preaching two times at our church, and for the first time in years, Christine and Cari sang a duet as they once did, and it was during Communion which I had the opportunity to lead twice yesterday, that they sang “How Beautiful” – glorious words at the Lord’s Table.

How Beautiful the hands that served
The Wine and the Bread and the sons of the earth
How beautiful the feet that walked
The long dusty road and the hill to the cross
How Beautiful, how beautiful, how beautiful is the body of Christ

How Beautiful the heart that bled
That took all my sins and bore it instead
How beautiful the tender eyes
That choose to forgive and never despise
How beautiful, how beautiful, how beautiful is the body of Christ

And as He lay down His life
We offer this sacrifice
That we will live just as He died
Willing to pay the price
Willing to pay the price

How Beautiful the radiant bride
Who waits for her Groom with His light in her eyes
How Beautiful when humble hearts give
The fruit of pure love so that others may live
How beautiful, how beautiful, how beautiful is the body of Christ

How beautiful the feet that bring
The sound of good news and the love of the King
How Beautiful the hands that serve
The wine and the bread and the sons of the Earth
How Beautiful, how beautiful, how beautiful is the body of Christ

Monday, September 28, 2009


Arriving home last night we listened to a voice message from a friend Wilma telling us that her husband Al had passed away and his memorial service is scheduled for this afternoon. Al was 77 years of age, ten years older than I am.

If my first retirement year has not underscored for me already the transitory nature of life, these moments definitely do. There are more and more of these. So many of our friends, ageing as we are, become ill and some die. I have never been so conscious of the nearness of death. That’s noteworthy because the pastoral work in which I spent forty years of my life required me to visit seniors in nursing homes and hospital rooms and even be near for their dying moments. Yet I remained objective and detached. Now it’s personal.

Al had some health issues in recent years. Nevertheless, since I am 67 years old, age 77 does not seem so far off. I know how quickly time moves. It almost evaporates.

Christine and I, me with my sprained ankle, attended an afternoon 50th anniversary celebration of Arvid and Ruth Olson yesterday. It was very well attended by friends. Given the event, we saw a sea of white hair. As I hobbled along, I fit right in.

Al was a gentle and kind man. I liked him very much. Friends, children, spouse will speak well of him of him today because it will be true.

What will be said of me when I go? That is likely the most profitable aspect of reflections of this sort. I have time and I can make course corrections in some relationships where I need to do that. I can allow some of the graces of God to infect me more profoundly than they have so that I am more like my Master than myself. That would be an improvement. And I can use the time I have profitably. What I am glad about is that friendships have come to mean more to me in this phase of my life than they ever have. That makes life rich and enjoyable.

2 Corinthians 4:16 Therefore we do not despair, but even if our physical body is wearing away, our inner person is being renewed day by day. 17 For our momentary, light suffering is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison 18 because we are not looking at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen. For what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal.
2 Corinthians 5:6 Therefore we are always full of courage, and we know that as long as we are alive here on earth we are absent from the Lord – 7 for we live by faith, not by sight. 8 Thus we are full of courage and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9 So then whether we are alive or away, we make it our ambition to please him

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Today is My Birthday

Today is My Birthday

Once I was a little boy
Now I am a man
Enjoyed those boyhood years,
Cannot return again.
With passage of years I married well
Fathered a daughter and son
Nurtured them and watched them grow
Each stage was so much fun.
Now I have come this far in life
I am the white haired one
My eyes can see and my hands touch
One, Two, Three grandsons.
Granddaughters? I have two
A young lady and a tot
Each of them loves me
And I love them a lot.
Through the years of my life,
I didn’t think much about heaven
I am considering it now
That I have turned sixty-seven.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

September 7th - A Day for Birthdays

Birthdays on the Same Day

My brother Murray is an artist. He has been many other things in this unfolding life. All of them good. He has been a good brother and an even better son. He lived for these past many years in the same city as our ageing parents and he was their primary caregiver. He has been a preacher, a businessman, an employee. He is a husband, a father and a grandfather, and he excels in these latter categories. If he is your friend, you are blessed. Most recently he has taken on an unusual and forward initiative to establish an art gallery for a new church in downtown St. Catharines. It's an honourable effort to relate to the arts community with some even better news than a prospective buyer. He is not a pastor any longer, but a helper, a supporter, an honest man of whom I am proud.

Today Murray is having a birthday on Monday September 7th. Why not make it a group celebration? Murray is five years younger than me, will celebrate his mmmthikteefhtoommth birthday. But why celebrate it alone. Sooo, his second child Matthew married Cristina several years ago and Cristina was born on the same date of the month of September. So for a little while the two of them enjoyed that day. Now, for the past couple of years another smaller girl has been sharing this same birthday. Murray’s daughter Beth has two daughters and the second sweetheart named Karis was born not on the 6th or the 8th but the 7th. That makes three family members with the same date. This is a 2006 photo of Karis.

Happy Birthday you three.

Take a look at Murray's website Vintage Impressions

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Happy 9th Birthday Kailyn

Kailyn is my numero uno grandchild. When our daughter Cari was born my father and mother came to Mississauga Hospital to see their first grandchild. With great pleasure my dad, father of three boys, peered through the window into the nursery at my pinkly bundled girl with the frizzy whitish blonde hair and blue eyes. Years later my daughter gave birth to a girl of her own, a similarly striking little blue eyed blonde that claimed all of our hearts immediately. We have watched with delight as she has grown up in the company of two younger brothers.

Today is her birthday, and she is celebrating nine years.

We are amazed by the passing of time. Every generation is I suppose. I speculate what she may be like in ten or twelve more years, and I wonder whether Christine and I will still be here to watch her marry.

Right now, I love it when Kailyn leans against my shoulder and allows me to casually play my fingers in her hair when we are both relaxed. She and I tease one another and I know she enjoys that familiarity. I wonder what these next few years will bring to her.

I thank you Lord for my granddaughter Kailyn.

* 2008 Kailyn looking her best - WOW!
* 2008 Kailyn and her youngest cousin Kadence, another girl in the family
* 2005 Kailyn, Jayden, Ryan lying on the floor
* 2005 Kailyn, Flower Girl

Monday, August 3, 2009

From the Prairies to Ontario

It was 1947.

The Second World War had concluded. My father was home from his service in the Canadian Air Force. Canada had the role of trainer of pilots and aircrew for the Allied war effort under the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan, an agreement signed in December 1939 by Canada, Great Britain, Australia, and New Zealand. Dad was one of the aircraft maintenance personnel that prepared aircraft, so he was stationed in Ontario, Vancouver and Skagway, Alaska. He had never shipped overseas.

Following he war my father and mother worked in their home town of Hepburn Saskatchewan but opportunities to advance oneself were absent so they chose the great adventure of moving east, to the golden triangle, the Niagara Peninsula, and specifically St. Catharines, the Garden City. I was four years old.

My parents found a run down wooden shack on Geneva Street in which they could live as they looked for work and settled into this new life. My mom was pregnant. I remember this place being back from the busy road, and consisting of one room, with a curtain pulled over the section where mom’s and dad’s bed was. An out house serviced us. Sunlight shone between the wall boards so before winter, my parents moved into a home owned by my Uncle Ed Willems.

On September 7th 1947 my bother, oops Freudian slip, my brother Murray was born. He was a beautiful looking little guy. It was maddening. He got so much attention. As he grew he had the blond, curly hair and blue eyes. I recall the day of his birth because after sharing with me his good news of a second son, my father took me to Montebello Park and gave me a gift box in which I found a pair of roller skates, the kind that are fastened to shoes with a tightening key. They are also known as quad skates. He sat and watched me for a long time as I skated around the wooden pavilion. The gift was not only celebrative of Murray’s birth but in anticipation of my birthday the following week, September 13th when I turned five years of age.

Montebello Park is located on Ontario Street, in the heart of the downtown area. With an adjacent band shell that still hosts musical concerts today. Montebello Park remains a prominent memory from my childhood and young adult years. On Sunday night my parents would walk with us to sit on a blanket to hear a summer evening concert. Often Mom brought some snacks for us to munch on while we listened. It was in the rose garden of this park that Christine and I and our wedding party had our pictures taken when we began our life together as husband and wife on August 12, 1967.

*Dad (Edward)and his first two sons, Ron and Murray
*1910 Montebello Park
*Quad Roller Skates
*Montebello Park Pavillion and Band Stand 2009
*Ron and Murray

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Too hot to write

Sorry, the summer heat has fried my output for the past few days!

Yesterday, was the Hottest day ever recorded in Vancouver. It's been like that for days, and is expected to continue.

I'll get back at my memoirs when I cool off.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Ronnie's Baby Years

Number one son. Well, at least I was firstborn of the three sons born to Edward and Tina Unruh. Home was the town of Hepburn, Saskatchewan. My two siblings stole the show when they finally arrived. Pictures reflect that life was simple. The homes were wood frame on the open prairies and before required insulation standards. These photos are part of the inheritance that comes to the sons when the parents are gone after eight or more decades of life. Octogenarians and ninety year olds have seen so much change during their lives and I thought my folks handled all of it well. Dad was in the Royal Canadian Air Force during the first years of my infancy and childhood. World War II waged overseas. I got a lot of attention from mom and from the extended family since I was the only little squirt around at the time. As lean as the economy may have been I had a great looking pram, a wash tub and a tricycle but not much understanding about where I should ride this three-wheeled machine. Here I am in the thick stuff which I have found a good deal of the time in my adult years when I golf. I love seeing my dark haired young mom in these early pictures. My brothers didn’t know her this way because she was prematurely grey by age 30. Yes I know what some might say, that it was me who did that to her during my first five years. The photo with the little dog was taken in Mountain Lake Minnesota during a trip my mother took to see her brother Pete. Her visit was taken during one of my father’s deployments with the RCAF. I had great natural curls didn’t I? For as long as we can remember, mom kept our pressed curls, all three of us, in separate paper envelopes in her dresser drawer.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Ronnie and the Great Sturgeon

How could I know that eventually one day I would live in lower mainland of British Columbia close to the Fraser River where some of the largest Sturgeon fish in the world swim for centuries. Even recently one was caught by a family and brought to the shore for viewing before it was released to swim again. They are distinctive for their elongated bodies, lack of scales, and occasional great size: Sturgeons ranging from 7–12 feet (2-3½ m) in length are common, and some species grow up to 18 feet (5.5 m). Tim Swain caught and released an eleven foot four inch long sturgeon on August 2, 2006 in the waters of the Fraser. If you want an adventure like this, you can contact Cascade Fishing Adventures.

Sturgeon can be eaten. Not everyone wants to try however because most sturgeons are anadromous bottom-feeders. There is concern about the toxicity in the meat.

I don’t think that anyone knew or cared for that matter when I was a boy in Hepburn because people occasionally caught a sturgeon in the Saskatchewan River and it became a celebrated event because it could feed so many if it was a good size. Here I am standing with my Aunt Annie with a reasonably sized fish caught that day. You can see that it’s all I can do to hold my end of this mammoth.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Milk Horse

Young people will not remember the delivery of milk to individual homes by a horse pulled wagon. I do. In fact I have another true story from my childhood that I converted to an illustrated yarn in my grandchildren’s story book.Here it is.

One day Ronnie's mother asks Ronnie to do her a favour. She needs some bread to make lunches.
Mommy gives Ronnie some money and she tells him to walk to the corner store where he can buy a loaf of bread.
Ronnie is a polite boy and inside the store he says to the storekeeper, "May I have a loaf of bread?"
The storekeeper brings him a loaf of white bread wrapped in plastic. Ronnie gives the man the money, and the man gives Ronnie some money back. Ronnie says, "Thank you," and then he puts the money in his pocket.
He slides the loaf from the counter and says, "Goodbye." He leaves the store and starts to go home.
On the way, he sees the milk wagon. The milkman is carrying milk bottles to some houses.
In front of the milk wagon is a milk horse. The milk horse pulls the milk wagon. While the milkman is gone, the milk horse stands still.
Ronnie looks at the horse. "Hi, horse," says Ronnie. "Are you hungry?" Ronnie thinks the horse looks hungry.
The only thing that Ronnie has to feed the horse is bread. Ronnie opens the loaf of bread and gives the horse a slice of bread. The horse likes it.
Ronnie gives the horse another piece, and another, and another.
Soon, there is only half a loaf of bread. The milkman comes back to the milk wagon. "Bye, bye horse," says Ronnie.
When Ronnie arrives at home, he gives his mother the loaf of bread. Where is the rest of the bread?" she asks. "Did you eat it?"
"Oh no!" Ronnie says. "I didn't eat it."
"Then who did eat it," asks mother.
"The milk horse ate it," says Ronnie.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

You Will Be Bagiki

This is one of my childhood stories that I have written for children and illustrated in a small book that was a Christmas gift to my grandchildren. While it is a true story it has been embellished through the years. I recount it here as reliably as I can recall it.

When I was between three and four years of age, my parents, Ed and Tina owned a coffee shop in our home town of Hepburn, Saskatchewan. The year would have been 1945 or 46. The shop fronted on to the Main Street and it had a back door into a laneway. Behind the coffee shop was a well, probably unused and also uncovered. It would certainly hold interest to a boy like me.

As I was peering into the depth of this well a man in a pickup truck passed by in the lane and seeing me, out of concern said to me, “If you fall in that well, you will be bagiki.” Bagiki was a word with which I was unfamiliar and with both the rebuke and the mystery word I ran inside to tell my father what happened and to ask him what bagiki meant. He didn’t know but he assured me with a smile that it wouldn’t be good. My father never forgot that word and as he retold the story through the years, the word became synonymous in family parlance with anything that might be nasty or unpleasant in the extreme.

When I wrote the story, I wasn’t sure how one should spell the word, and when asking family members I received a variety of opinions. For many years I envisioned its spelling as I have recorded it here. BAGIKI. When we presented the gift book, Christine and I also gave each grandchild a T-shirt with the caption, “you will be bagiki.”