Tuesday, May 29, 2012


I have mentioned our new residence and one reality of community living. Our neighbours’ habits are much closer to us now than when we lived on a quiet street in a detached home on a quarter acre lot. Curiously it seems to us now, on that entire street only one couple were smokers. They smoked on their porches rather than inside their own homes. We now live in a complex in which we are astonished by the high proportion of people who smoke who reside in our complex. I have commented before about repugnant second-hand smoke blowing around our corner unit. We are making the best of a foul circumstance.

During one of our more creative interactions, Christine volunteered an inspired plan to solve our clean air deficit.  Christine and I researched and located a Cola tasting liquid herbal remedy for the craving for nicotine and since Christine bakes delectable cakes, she has added the remedy into her cake ingredients. It evokes an appealing aroma and delectable flavour. The additive affects the body chemistry as it goes directly to the brain and the body rejects the taste of tobacco. We have been delivering these cakes to all of our smoking neighbours and the smoke has been significantly reduced. Our former smoking neighbours adore the cakes and ask for more, offering to pay. They have no idea why they now find smoking distasteful.

Of course they don't look like this
Although it began as an experiment, we consider it to have been so successful that we have applied for a patent on the baking formula as well as negotiated a contractual agreement with the supplier of the remedial herbal liquid. We have obtained a bank loan to finance the manufacture of packaged cake and cookie mixes we are calling Bon Gateau. These will be marketed as culinary therapy to quit smoking. With the spike in our income we are going to sell this place, purchase a condo along Marine Drive in White Rock, a waterfront home in Tahiti and an apartment in rural France.

Monday, May 28, 2012


“How do you like your new place?”
That is the question most certainly.
Science Photo Library
You had no idea that you should ask, “How do you like the smoke?”
Joe lives across the grass courtyard with Sandra. Joe smokes. Sandra does not. In all kinds of weather I see him outside in a patio chair in his covered patio, cigarette between fingers.  The cover is provided by the deck of the unit above him where Charlotte and Wes live. Charlotte smokes too – outside her home on her deck. Beneath us to the right is a unit owned by Linda. She is a smoker but she moved last week to be with her boyfriend. She is renting her unit to her female friend Karen. She moved in over the weekend. Oh did I tell you – she smokes too. I was reading outside just now when the plumes of smoke began to waft my way – distracting. So here I am complaining. Not finished yet.

We have lived here for two months and the unit beneath us has been empty until three weeks ago when a nice lady and her teenage son purchased and moved in. We were hoping she would not be a smoker. I shouldn’t by a Lotto ticket any time soon. She smokes. But her son does not. And she smokes both inside and outside her home.

So the answer to the first question is, “I like my new place.” It has a deck both front and back. So far, if the smoke is rising on one side, I can retreat to the other. I have a lot more to say about second-hand smoke and community living and strata councils and what they can and should do. But first I have to take some time out to call my real estate agent to list this carriage home.

Thursday, May 24, 2012


Christine in Lourmarin France

Christine loves travelling more than anything else in life. Of course her faith is of importance and her family is precious to her, but her passion is travel because her spirit longs to see and to know and to hear and to taste that which exists in other places. It is not the distance that makes the travel a delight for her, and the locations do not have to be the most outlying or remote places on earth. In fact a hop to New York City or Savanna Georgia or numerous other locations steeped in history wets her appetite and draws her to read in advance and to know upon arrival where she wants to go and what she wants to experience. 

She watched travel shows and longed to go to all of the places that Rick Steves described so charmingly. Travel costs money and that resource was rather fixed for Christine. So, one day, this woman gifted with leadership skills, an engaging personality and a compelling conversational style decided to do something about her enthusiasm and her fiscal shortage. She decided to take a crash course if tourism and to launch a career as both a travel agent and a tour guide. She googled her brains off. She started talking it up. She had not been to Spain but she had friends who had just come back so she plied them with questions and she read books, and decided that Spain would be the first tour she would promote and lead. She got her husband to design some online promotional stuff and a website which later was revamped and redesigned by one of her son’s friends who was positively professional about it. She had fliers and pamphlets printed and the company with which she became associated sent her all types of promotional material. She began with her friends and moved on to acquaintances, and thirty three people signed up for that first trip.

The result was a trip of a lifetime for some people who wrote glowing testimonials for her to use the next time. She managed the tours with gusto and fervor and led the tourists in impromptu songs that she had quickly learned. They were even willing to practice now and then on the bus rides until they were confidant enough to get off the bus, go into a restaurant and sing an entire song in Spanish, so all the other guests smiled and applauded. She had stamina, and she lost some weight and looked like a million. She went back to coloring her hair and it knocked ten years off her appearance. She couldn’t care less about her husband who had chosen not to accompany her on any other trips past the first four, which by the way were to southern France, Tuscany, and Italy; then to Scandinavia; then to Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Britain, and finally to Austria and Germany and a fantastic river cruise. So the career was launched. People, particularly the older guests who felt they couldn’t do a tour any longer, raved about Christine because she cared for their every need, understood, was so kind to them, arranged for special considerations at all the stops, even pre-arranged with doctors in most stops to be available should one of her guests require some assistance.

She was learning so much about the world and she was a popular historian and deeply gratified, and soon making enough money that she moved her and her husband our of the condo they had bought in Langley, to a spacious 2000 sq ft condo on Marine Dr in White Rock.

That's Better - this is the Real Trophy
OOPS!! Wrong Trophy Image
Gradually she persuaded Ron to accompany her on some trips which she promoted as art history trips and many of the tour guests would sit with Ron and draw and paint at certain key sites. She began to do this specialty touring using other professionals in various disciplines such as with musicians when she would arrange music history tours. As time went on she noticed people who could not afford to travel but whose life circumstances were appallingly difficult and a trip would be a lifetime memory, so she found sponsors for that person’s trip or gave up some of her income to accommodate this. Five years after embarking on this new path in life, she was named tour guide of the year by one of major companies with which she worked.

This piece was another one of my imaginative flights, something akin to the one I wrote entitled, 'ON STAGE.' These trips of fictional fancy give me a laugh and sometimes catch you by surprise. Gotcha!

Monday, May 21, 2012


I officiated an international marriage yesterday afternoon. Patricia, a native from Mexico and living now in Canada, and Roman, a citizen of Kazakhstan, now resident and working in Canada, were married on a rainy Sunday afternoon in British Columbia. They were married in an out-of-doors ceremony in the garden of the Little White House facility in Fort Langley. In this photograph you can see the garden outside the windows of the dining room. Cheryl Krescy operates this catering service and when a wedding or a vow renewal ceremony is planned, I invariably receive a call to consult with the clients and then to officiate the ceremony. It's enjoyable to meet so many people from various walks of life.

Yesterday Patricia's parents and her young brother were present from Mexico. Roman's parents could not come and remained in his homeland but his brother stood up for him. Patricia's family had arranged for the photographer not only to do still shots but also to skype live-streaming video of the entire ceremony as well as the dinner and celebration to family and friends back in Mexico. The viewers in Mexico were visible on screen and they were dressed in formal apparel to be an essential part of the festivities.

As disappointed as Cheryl and I were with the rainy weather which meant so much last minute scrambling for her and her team, Patricia and Roman thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of their day.

You should drop into the Little White House any day of the week to look at the selection of Francais  black and white themed products, clothing, cosmetics, furniture, linens and much more, or pop into the cafe/salon for something to eat or for a spot of tea.

THE LITTLE WHITE HOUSE 9090 Glover Road, Fort Langley, B.C.    Phone: 604-888-8386 

Friday, May 18, 2012


People continue to ask me how life in my new home is going. I have routinely answered that with, "Christine is loving it and I am making the necessary adjustments." I realize that my sentiment is not a rousing endorsement. That’s the way it is.

It has a lot to do with me and my wiring. Change is not easily accommodated by my psyche. I became a home owner rather late in my adult life, at age 32 and over the past 38 years I have owned two private detached homes on large lots. While the decision to downsize was well considered and I acknowledge, is the right thing for Christine and I to have done, the change unsettled me. I knew it would. I didn’t think the unease would be as enduring. What am I talking about? It’s only been eight weeks. Did I think I would love this new place immediately and absolutely? Well Christine has. That is, except for the fact that a pleasant woman with a disgusting habit has moved into the unit beneath ours. She is a smoker. Second hand smoke is unpleasant and quite real whether outside or inside. It obsesses us to the point that neither Christine nor I are sure whether the hints of tobacco smoke we pick up in our place are authentic or imagined. That issue aside, Christine loves this space, its manageability, and the new furniture we are acquiring to fit the place. I have made the acquaintance of many neighbours, and I seek to greet them by name and carry on conversations and that works. Yet it is the proximity to people and the sheer numbers of people within our smallish complex that test my adaptability. Perhaps I have even surprised Christine with my networking and sociability and yet I am a private person who has always enjoyed assured solitude. I don’t have that here. I have two decks, one at the front and one at the rear and numerous windows and possibly peering eyes can watch all that I do. What a pompous expectation! Why would I think anyone cares what I am doing? I can do this. I can become adjusted to my new life and new home. It has ample space, a quiet bedroom, a large second room for my painting and computer and Christine’s sewing and computer. This room will soon have Murphy bed installed where I can crash if I choose to. Then there is a den for Christine’s baby grand piano. We have a living area with large TV over the fireplace and a dining area with new table and chairs on their way, and a kitchen island with stools still to be purchased. What’s not to like? There is no yard work. I can lock the door and go away and feel relatively care-free. I will learn to like this. And if am finding it to be a challenge, maybe I will leave the house more often to go plein air painting. That may even be a boost to my art avocation.

Sunday, May 13, 2012


I began to write about mom again today and now have abandoned the project. No need to write. I remember her. I loved her. I miss her.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


Dad at age 92

My father is gone.

He has been absent for four years. He left in 2008. Since his departure, May 1st each year marks his final day on earth. I’m not playing with you here. My father passed away, passed from this life, died, on March 1, 2008. There is in my life a profound and thoughtful impression that he is gone. I do not expect my children and grandchildren to share this. My two brothers own this awareness yet each of them recall our father with a filter fashioned from their individual experience of him.

I am the eldest of this sibling trio. I knew Dad when he was a younger man. I knew him briefly when he had only me. I knew him when my mother was young and dark-haired and slim. As time moved forward my experience of Dad included the way he related to each of my brothers in their infancies and boyhood and adolescence. I knew Dad when his 5 foot six inch frame was strong and his thin mustache suave. I knew him always as a good man, a gentle man, a gentleman.

My brothers Murray, five years junior to me, and Neale, eleven years younger than me, processed their experience of Dad as he changed through the years, some for which I was not around. I was first away at college and home in the summers and then married and finally working in other cities. When both Murray and I were away from home, Neale had some years alone with Mom and Dad before he himself was married. In the last years, Murray, who lived near Dad and Mom became the exemplary caregiver to our aging senior parents. In the last years, Murray almost daily went for a chat and a coffee with my father and I lived four provinces away. Words fail to express the admiration I have for Murray. He served my father and he served us all in his loving care of my folks.

My activities, my gestures, my handicaps, my habits, and the way I appear to myself when looking in the mirror, often evoke memories of my father. I am not my father but I subtly resemble him. In many ways I am very different from my father and yet sometimes I think that I now know how he felt about life and relationships as he was aging. I myself am in my sixty-ninth year and clinging to it as on September 13th I become a 70 year old man.

My father set a good example for me. I believe that like him I have been a good man, not inherently good but because of what each of us have believed God has done for us. I believe that I have been a hard worker in an altogether different occupation from my father. Each of us put our faith exclusively in Jesus Christ. I believe that like him, I have been a decent dad. I believe that I have been a loving and devoted husband. This year, Christine and I will treat July as our reunion month as we travel back to Ontario to be with family friends. We are celebrating the year of our 45th wedding anniversary, my 70th birthday, Murray’s 65th birthday and Christine’s brother Robert’s 65th birthday. We will find many other reasons for celebration I am certain.

My father lived until he was 93 years of age when his mind, heart and body cooperated to let him leave. He had lived for six months without Mom (Tina) who predeceased him, and for several more years earlier when she was not altogether there mentally and was in a nursing facility. He was independent, courageous, patient, easy-going, tender-spirited, uncomplaining and content.