Sunday, December 31, 2017

New Year's Eve (2017)

It's New Year's Eve 2017. Though we're refrigerated by Arctic air there was a complementary cloudless azure dome and dazzling yellow sunshine today. It was sublime to be outside! Conveniently the low tide was at noon so there was a broad swath of smooth, flat sand upon which to cycle to Ponce Inlet. The sea was jade and frothing. Along the beach were sunbathers, surfers, fishermen, walkers, cyclists, couples, families and holiday-makers.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Tidying Up

At three o'clock this morning I pitched about in bed crafting in my head an email to Bell Canada, the network provider for my iPhone 7.  This is not the first time I have written to Bell Canada.  In fact sadly for the past four years it has been a monthly obligation - at least during our winter sojourn in the United States of America when under the minacious cloud of "roaming charges".  Every month Bell Canada levied incorrect charges on our account notwithstading a prearranged "Travel Plan".  We had hoped to obviate a repetition of the annoyance by adopting a new plan available for the first time this year. Apparently we're not out of the woods.  I received a text warning from Bell Canada mandated by the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) that I am potentially incurring roaming charges. I investigated my on-line account only to discover another assertion that I had exceeded my allowable limit.  Without trotting out my rebuttal, I have taken Bell Canada to task about these baseless allegations. My historical experience is that they make good their default though not without persistent and time-consuming complaint. This morning's effort was directed to eliminate the entrenchment of yet another miscalculation by anticipating the error prior to the settlement of the account on the 11th day of the coming month.  We'll see...

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Una voce poco fa

It is almost the end of another day and almost the end of another year.  It is natural that one should reflect upon the past both proximate and more distant. Particularly so when today - which was appropriately grey, cold and forbidding - I've submerged myself in historical imperatives; viz.,  E. F. Benson's "Queen Lucia" (1920), Rossini's "Il barbiere di Siviglia" (1816) and a movie set in the early 1950s called "Carol" (2015) starring Cate Blanchett (a film which revived in particular my memory of the Drake Hotel in Chicago). The movie is a twist upon the seasonal tradition of Alastair Sim's performance (1951) as Ebenezer Scrooge in Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" (1843).

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Nasty Clown

Well!  2017!  This has been quite the year! And who would have thought a clown succeeded to change it all.  A nasty clown. The image occurred to me when squinting at the ubiquitous mephitic-mouthed buffoon on the television. What I saw was a diabolical rendition of a comic entertainer of Low German origin. But this particular clown is playing more than the giddy goat. What I see is a vicious-looking hatchet.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Christmas Day (2017)

The east coast of the United States of America never escapes the repercussions of Canadian winter weather.  Christmas Day here today was a chilly 67℉; and we have it on good report from our friends on Hilton Head Island (with whom we exchanged Christmas greetings mid-morning) that the temperature there was forbidding as well.  They complained of feeling housebound. Nonetheless it was sunny and as usual I went for a bicycle ride shortly after noon following the conclusion of my customary prolonged breakfast (which today included an exceptionally flavourful orange).

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Christmas Eve Daytona Beach Shores (2017)

For the past twenty-two years we've spent every Christmas except one in a place where the only white on the ground is the sand on the beach, places like the Mayan Riviera, Cancun, Puerto Vallarta, Domincan Republic, Antigua, Fort Lauderdale, Boca Raton, Hilton Head Island and now Daytona Beach Shores. Progressively the sojourns have extended from one-week all-inclusive jaunts to ten-day beachclub indulgences to three-week residential hotel vacations to six-month condominium winters. The early trips were purposively planned over the Christmas holiday as it was an opportune time to shut down my law practice.  There was never any business during that week.  Even if I stayed at the wheel (as on several occasions I had previously done) everybody else had evaporated. My lingering attendance was destined to be social only.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Wintry Sky

Even in sub-tropical climates in late December there is the unmistakeable hue of a wintry sky. The light is less harsh; the shadows are longer and there is an ominous starkness. The Winter Solstice is upon us complete with its Christian response. In spite of the balmy breeze and 80℉ temperature today the sky had a soft yellow blur characteristic of the atmosphere upon the approach of Christmas Eve, tomorrow.

Friday, December 22, 2017


Apart from the daily camouflage of existence nothing so explicitly distinguishes us from the animal kingdom as our abstract thoughts. The height of humanity is its dignity.  How we cultivate and preserve that dignity is of interest to me.  To be clear I consider it redundant to enquire whether the pursuit of dignity is either important or imperative. It is both in my opinion. If you disagree then the analysis will perhaps be superfluous.

A Tiny Christmas

Doc Kelly was well-known for his magnanimity. It was not uncommon for example for him to accept potatoes or corn in payment of his medical services, especially from those who would, as fate would have it, oblige him to travel by sleigh on a blustery wintry night from Town to the nearby Village of Barnhart Mills where several of his more elderly and struggling patients lived. They relied upon him and his good advice, always given cheerfully and without restraint. They would have given more to him in compensation of his professional services, but they hadn’t any more to give and Doc Kelly knew that. It is no accident that if one is good at something in particular, one is often so in general. While it may be considered an odd extrapolation, the beneficence of Doc Kelly was so widely disseminated as to include not only human kind but also animals, particularly the small ones which are so often ignored on the theory that their diminutive size somehow accounts for a greater likelihood of survival in the harsh winter months, an observation which Doc Kelly understood to be patently erroneous.

The Red Panda

Toby, who had a protuberant little belly (over which hung a tag strung from his neck announcing his pedigree), was a Red Panda Teddy bear made in Germany of Mohair, No. 458 of a Limited Edition of 1000 pieces. He "lived" in the Village clock shoppe of Mr. Dilwert Schomberg on top of The Concise Oxford Dictionary (Fifth Edition), which in turn rested upon two thick volumes of telephone books (one of which was the Yellow Pages, the other a listing of Regional Residential numbers). From this vantage atop the old metal filing cabinet (which in turn supported the Regional Listing, Yellow Pages and Dictionary), Toby was afforded a clear view across the room where Mr. Schomberg (squinting through his gold rimmed spectacles) worked assiduously during the day at his well-worn wooden desk, cluttered with a collection of pliers, small screw drivers and other implements of the trade. Toby’s view further extended over the glass-cased oak counter, and finally to the pine door entrance, appended to the outside of which was a large brass door knocker in the shape of a mighty lion’s head. Fortunately for Toby, in the poorly heated shoppe of Mr. Schomberg, he had the benefit by day of a nearby lamp which poured forth both its light and radiant heat upon Toby, at least that is until Mr. Schomberg at the end of the business day unpocketed his set of keys, turned off the lights, turned down the heat even more, then removed himself from the premises, locking the door with a double click behind him. As a result of Mr. Schomberg’s precautions, the nights were fairly uncomfortable for Toby, and no doubt accounted for the enthusiasm (in his heart only of course) with which he greeted Mr. Schomberg upon his arrival the next morning, when the light and heat were restored.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Conundrum at the North Pole

The elves were having an awful time of it! The conveyor belt upon which rode the Teddy bears, model cars, train sets, smart phones, dolls, doll houses and wind-up toys had jammed no less than three times already this morning, and it was only ten o’clock! Now it had jammed again. This, of all things, at the busiest time of the year! There remained only days before Christmas Eve, even fewer because they couldn’t really count Christmas Eve itself. Everything had to be packed and onto Santa’s shiny crimson sleigh no later than noon on Christmas Eve if he were to make his worldwide rounds in time. To complicate matters further, Santa had lately put on a bit of weight which was having the disadvantage of stealing precious moments in his descent down the chimneys (except of course those in which slick metal liners had been installed although they sometimes propelled Santa with near disastrous results).

Wednesday, December 20, 2017


Nobody likes to think of themselves as lacking intellectual insight. But the test - like so many others - is in the little things. Don't imagine that you'll convince yourself or anyone else of your foresight by advancing some complicated opinion - it will probably just be lost on your audience or expected in any event.  But trip up on something simple, something that everyone can understand, then you have a challenge!


Following the passage in the United States Senate of the much vaunted Republican tax reform bill and with the precision of an autocracy, the White House administration of President Donald J. Trump treated the American public to a vulgar and nauseating display of sycophantic behaviour by its Congressional leaders including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Vice President Mike Pence.  One by one they groveled on a public podium in the immediate presence of President Trump and before national television to sing with what at times approached religious fervour the praises of President Trump as a president, leader and man.  What made the entire production outrageous was that many of the same people (such as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson) had more than once disparaged the President even to the extent of calling him a "fucking moron".  It must be owned that President Trump has reciprocated the verbal abuse on many occasions.  All of which combined to make the ring-kissing and knee-bending utterly preposterous and vapid.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017


No matter how convoluted the arguments may become about what constitutes bias, when all is said the distilled truth is simply this, "Justice must not only be done, it must be seen to be done".  Period.  It has nothing whatever to do with the character or qualification of the adjudicator. And it certainly has nothing to do with the capacity of the adjudicator to distance himself or herself from the object of adjudication nor the ability to conceive the application of purely legal principles.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Real life, real people

The advent of so-called "reality TV" makes a mockery of life's tribulations. There is virtually nothing realistic about these notional ideas of what actually exists.  In any event it doesn't require much to convince me to abandon popular television communications.  Either I revert instead to PBS for imported documentaries and dramatic productions; or, I rely upon Netflix for similar nutrition including its repertoire of independent films.

Sunday Jazz

We received an impromptu invitation, "Tomorrow night Matthew will play us a little jazz, 6pm in the club room. If you are around, come join us." The invitation came from the parents of Matthew who is visiting from New York City for Christmas. The date for this inspiring wassail was Sunday, December 17th exactly one week before Christmas Eve.  It couldn't have been a nicer way to kick off the Season!

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Other end of town

It is infrequently that I bike to Daytona Beach from Daytona Beach Shores. To a degree Daytona Beach lives up to its notoriety for circumstances approaching the Coney Island amusement park theme. Normally I go south on the beach through Wilbur-by-the-Sea to Ponce Inlet which is considerably more reclusive.  Today however I was drawn northward instead.  Primarily the reason was that the wind was from the north and I always prefer riding out against the wind so I have the benefit of it at my back when returning (something to do with the Protestant Work Ethic I suspect).  Besides I had previously lounged in the sun by the pool (face upwards) for over an hour so it made sense to alternate to cook my other side while riding north.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Ocean Guy

After having it detailed today, I was gassing up the car in Ormand Beach when a guy passed by saying, "I don't know...but I'm guessing from the looks of you that you're an Ocean Guy." I couldn't have been more pleased!  His approbation was on the order of the First Water!  "Well, I suppose I am!", I replied. My confession was hesitant because of course I am a hopeless landlubber with no maritime credentials whatsoever (though I didn't disabuse the commentator of his fanciful notion).  Besides even without the littoral authenticity anyone who knows me knows that the Ocean is in my blood.  I love everything about the frothing green Ocean including all the nautical paraphernalia, history, produce and geography associated with it - sailing yachts and Clippers, Ship's Bells and barometers, yardarms and boating knots, buoys and wooden fishing bobs, compasses and telescopes, piers and jetties, rocky shores and sandy beaches, sand dunes, boardwalks, the huge horizon, Herman Melville, fish and jellyfish, sand dollars, sea shells and seaweed, lighthouses and saltboxes, you name it!

Friday, December 15, 2017


The first time I recall being eager about Christmas was when I was ten years old.  I crept down the stairs from my bedroom at 3:00 am on Christmas morning.  Under the austere unlit tree I found a skilfully constructed toy racing car, grey in colour with a sturdy black rubber bumper on the nose and matching rubber wheels.  The toy was a wind-up device. I subsequently amused myself by running the car about the kitchen floor until the rest of the family made an appearance. Apart from that recollection my early childhood memory of Christmas fails me.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Landing on the beach

The beach was eerily vacant today, the sea uncommonly placid. A gnome-like man with a wide girth dressed in billowing red shorts walked along the shore intently peering into the beach as though searching for a lost object. As I cycled down the beach the dark shadows cast by the racing clouds moved like transparent buildings across the face of the sand. There was a scent of mistletoe in the cool wind from the west.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

On the road home...

It is a mixed blessing to regret leaving a place. Which is precisely how we felt today upon concluding our stint on Longboat Key.  Around nine-thirty o'clock this morning the bellboy loaded our things into the trunk of the car.  As he did so we willingly and somewhat mournfully shared with him - a young chap who happened to be a native of nearby Sarasota - that this was our first but not our last visit to Longboat Key. My former reservation about the Gulf of Mexico - namely, that it doesn't compete with the intensity of the Atlantic Ocean - had completely evaporated. Everything we had seen of Longboat Key imparted nothing but the most positive impression. Though I have no doubt the adjacent barrier islands (Anna Maria Island, Holmes Beach, Bradenton Beach, St. Armands, Bird Key and Siesta Key) have their own special allure I can't imagine - unless I am utterly insatiable - that there is much to surpass the enchantment of Longboat Key.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Day at the Beach

Initially this morning I hadn't planned on bicycling today.  My lower back was killing me. I reasoned that it might be wise to take a break especially as we had cycled extensively each of the past three days.  However after my sustaining protein breakfast (and when the pain killers had kicked in) I changed my mind. But I only cycled along Longboat Club Road to the north security gate then turned around.  The sky was clearing nicely, the temperature rising.  As this is our last full day here I felt it was an ideal beach day.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Birthday Party!

Today is my birthday and as a day for a victory lap it couldn't have been more perfect! Our jaunt to Longboat Key - the putative excuse for the six-day birthday celebration - has turned out to be ideal in every way. Granted much of the triumph is serendipitous.  The weather - though somewhat cool - has been predominantly dry and clear.  For the past several days we have bicycled within a ten mile radius, relishing the pleasant winding pathways, the gorgeous scenery and surrounding architecture. Our accommodation at Longboat Key Club is nonpareil, including the beach, pool and hot tub.  The staff are friendly and proactive.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Sunday Morning Breakfast on Longboat Key

As I sat at the dining room table this Sunday morning munching my very agreeable breakfast, staring out the patio window of our suite onto the Gulf of Mexico, I thought how exceedingly fortunate the opportunity is. We're nestled on a sandy stretch at the southern tip of Longboat Key. The weather - though moderately cool today - is clear and sunny.  I attach especial significance to this day because it is the last day of my 69th year.  Tomorrow I turn 69 and spookily begin my 70th year!  Yikes!  Small wonder it is the mainspring for celebration!

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Longboat Club Road

Everyone knows Florida is a magnet for northern short-term vacationers ("tourists") and long-term sojourners ("snowbirds").  Apart from the interlopers looking for a week or so of frivolity and indulgence there are those intent upon a 3 - 6 month respite from snow and cold.  The demographics of the travelers generally reflects the age of the participants and retirement affords the critical demarcation. In addition to that distinction, the cost of the privilege to linger in Florida tends to escalate incrementally with each degree of descent along the peninsula.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Longboat Key, Florida

I have always maintained that it requires but a scratch of the surface to discover some pressing sense in almost any of life's otherwise mundane experiences.  Indeed I have frequently derived considerable strength from such analysis. Granted at times the going can be more or less forbidding than at others. Today for example might be an instance of a more convenient communication with life's sometimes imprenetrable truths.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

News from the South Pacific

Apart from Donald J. Trump's daily diet of the latest shamefully comic political misstep there is nothing that competes with the entertainment value of a newsy letter from old friends.  Naturally these emissions no longer arrive bound in embossed envelopes written on letterhead vellum and scratched in an adventurous turquoise ink by a Mont Blanc Meisterstuck Diplomat. There are however redeeming features of the email communications such as links to referenced sites as well as passable photographs. In this particular instance the drumbeat was from two birds who like us are committee members but who have literally flown the mountaintop of one of Canada's elite residential resorts north of MontrĂ©al to roost in the far-flung outreaches of New Zealand in the South Pacific.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Looking out to sea

As much as I adore bicycling on the beach my primary focus is oddly not normally the Atlantic Ocean but rather the destination to which I am cycling. This is not to say that the sea is uninteresting (though I suppose in a general way it is); instead the landmarks - being located adjacent the water - are what usually capture my attention.  In the context of our current hibernation on Daytona Beach Shores it is Ponce Inlet which has clearly overtaken my focus since our arrival.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

A day of reflection

Though I suppose it is impossible to get through any day without delving into at least some reflection upon one subject or another, today seemed to lend itself especially conveniently to the endeavour.  First and perhaps foremost is that I hadn't a lot of anything else to occupy me today.  I made up my mind early this morning that I would resist my usual impulse to go bicycling.  My reason was to give my wretched knees some relief from the constancy which seems to affect them adversely.  Besides there is more than a shred of truth in the observation that the routine repetition of anything tends to diminish the value of its overall return. On the balance however my objective was more a concession to lethargy than to quality control.  For example, even after we returned from an early morning venture to the grocery store, I withdrew to my bedroom and buried myself under the duvet in an attempt to get some sleep. But it was not meant to be.  Even wearing my eye mask I could tell the sun was doing its best to shine and that alone drove me mad, knowing that I was missing out on the sunshine!

Monday, December 4, 2017

Whiling away...

I intend to betray my hardwired Protestant work ethic. I haven't the guile to dignify my banausic domestic enterprise.  However it is characterized it constitutes no more than whiling away my time. Though I doubt it matters, there is some elevation in distinguishing my quotidian exploits as spending the time rather than killing it. Indeed if there were any attempt to extinguish anything it is the consuming effort to side-step industry and all that it entails for tireless activity and busyness.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

I'm done with being frantic!

Really, I should have known better!  It has been years since we foregathered at a bar for a "Happy Hour".  What must have I been thinking! Historically I am an undying fan of the much-vaunted preprandial cocktail. I take especial pride in my rendition of the Savoy Hotel's 1930 Sidecar. Seemingly however my endurance of any vernacular other than one approaching the monastic is at an end.

Friday, December 1, 2017


The thing I hate about sunbathing is having to lie on my front.  I can never get comfortable.  Even if I use a towel under my head.  Invariably my arms and neck feel twisted. As dedicated as I am to the enterprise it is for only minutes that I can hold that intolerable position.

The way around this irritation - assuming one wants to get a tan - is to go bicycling.  Today for example my caculated maneuver was to cycle out (down the beach) at midday with the sun in my face then cycle back with the sun at my back.