Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Form 8840, nuptials and laundry

Our day was a hodgepodge of events beginning with laundry; then graduating to filing Internal Revenue Services Form 8840 (Closer Connection Exception for Aliens - available to those present in the United States less than 183 days for which we barely qualify); later a scintillating analysis of artistic integrity and the distillation of one's professional career; followed by bicycling to Daytona Beach, banking (BMO Harris), news of the Caribbean wedding of mutual friends and naturally keeping abreast of Donald Trump's latest taradiddle and entertainment.  I can't say that my meals - breakfast and dinner (which "rests" as I write) - enjoyed any novelty, essentially intense protein in the morning balanced by raw green veggies at night.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018


The weather forecast today on Daytona Beach Shores: Sunny conditions with 34 km/hr winds out of the north. When I went bicycling with the wind at my back I "sailed" down the beach. Conveniently the low tide was at 12:56 pm just as I entered the beach approach at Breakers Avenue.  Tacking back and forth with unprecedented ease I flaunted my unseen propulsion (albeit to a limited audience) along the broad face of the lonely beach, windswept by chimera and whisps of fine sand. But I knew that upon my return I would pay the penalty of frictionless passage.  So rather than stretch my outbound resources by going to Ponce Inlet at the southern end of the barrier island I detoured onto the sidewalk at Wilbur-by-the-Sea and doubled back. I hoped that by sheltering in the lee of the shrubbery, homes and condominiums on S Atlantic Avenue I might escape the consequence of the wind. It was a moderately effective accommodation though the wind howled mercilessly whenever an opening to the sea occasioned.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Letter of Credit

The last time I was asked to provide a Notice of Assessment from Canada Revenue Agency was in connection with a mortgage application - and that was a very long time ago. My recollection is that it pertained to the acquisition of an office building over thirty years ago.  While I won't pretend that I never lowered myself to groveling for money from every one of the five major chartered banks of Canada (with each of whom for example I once juggled - contemporaneously no less - an active Line of Credit), the indignity of applying for the money was short-lived.  After the "facility" was in place it was then only necessary to "do nothing" every three or five years (depending on the original term of the loan) in order to renew the obligation at current rates.  The similarity of loan applications to rectal examinations is not altogether unfounded.  Low-level bank employees are effectively gilded with seeming limitless authority to make the most intrusive unilateral personal enquiries.  When I was young and ambitious I had no reluctance about bending over so to speak.  I assuaged the humiliation by taking a perverse delight in trumpeting that banks needed me to advance their objectives.  Nor was it beneath me to slander and shame them if they were at all hesitant about bank-rolling what I proposed (such as occured following the melt-down of the early '90s).  I can however gleefully report that no bank ever suffered the loss of even one cent as a result of our symbiotic alliances.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Clearing the Air

How do controversies arise?  Friends and lovers are abruptly at one another's throats! You'd think to hear them they had nothing in common. But considering the global nature of the remarks - introductory statements such as, "You always..." - it is reasonable to assume that the malignancy has been festering.  What often astounds the recipient of the opening volley is that the same invective might as easily have been directed to the other!  The squabble quickly descends into a full blown snowball fight, tit for tat.

Friday, January 26, 2018


It is unthinkable that any authoritative and self-respecting lexicon would pretend to advance an authentic meaning of the word chillin'.  What little research (if I may dignify an internet enquiry as such) I've conducted leads me to conclude that the term can embrace anything from the intermediate stage of an amorous relationship to consumption of nefarious combustibles. But otherwise there is no legitimacy to the prefatory assertions. What could possibly acquaint us with its etymology!  One source, the so-called Urban Dictionary suggests it means "To be in a state of prolonged satisfactory boredom.  A positive phase of behing, not regarded as behing bored but not in the process of doing anything worth elaborating upon" (spelling deliberate).  A more digestible interpretation is "a relaxed mode" or "being quiet and carefree".  An incisive explanation may be, "Doing nothing that involves effort that you dont wanna do, so it means the only effort your doing is the effort you want to put into life" (spelling deliberate).  If all that penetration fails to impress, then consider it the present participle of chill or an alternative form of chilling; a shortened adaptation from chill out. There!

Thursday, January 25, 2018


Butter is a dairy product containing up to 80% butterfat most frequently made by churning cow's milk but can also be manufactured from the milk of other mammals including sheep, goats, buffalo and yaks.  It generally has a pale yellow colour but varies from deep yellow to nearly white.  Butter consists of butterfat, milk proteins and water, and in some types, added salt. I like butter (and salt too for that matter) - its consistency, taste and colour.  I use it as a metaphor for other buttery things I like - such as yellow gold. The word butter may have derived from the Greek for "cow cheese". I also like cheese. The use of the word has extended to include puréed vegetable, seed or nut products such as peanut butter and almond butter (ditto approbation for that stuff too). It is often applied to fruit products such as apple butter even maple butter, cocoa butter and shea butter. Certain butter - such as cultured butter - contains an element of fermentation (yet another good thing in my opinion). There's even butter coffee!  And did I mention 0 grams total carbohydrates per serving?

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

What was your first clue?

One hates to be reminded of the obvious! The intelligence not only insults one's perspicacity but reinforces with irony what we already knew to be the case. The indignity approaches being struck in the face with a wet fish!  The corollary to this emotional assault is invariably the more palpable repercussion of failure on a certain level.  The satirical enquiry, "What was your first clue?" is but a prelude to an assertion of defeat on at least one front. Sadly it is our arrogance and misguided deductive reasoning which prolongs the inevitable result of these crushing preliminaries. Truth is in the end a blunt matter and no end of dalliance in its absorption will preserve us from its point.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Louie's Backyard

Writing about restaurants is not my preference.  First, I haven't any recondite culinary knowledge  - what are furikake, spaetzle or soba for example? Second, my view of a successful dining experience is that it involves more than the restaurant. There are any number of factors antecedent to a pleasant evening out. So while the putative theme of this account is one of Key West's more celebrated restaurants - Louie's Backyard - it is in fact merely the wallpaper to what has marked the conclusion of a sublime day on Key West for us.  Having said that, it would be unfair of me to pretend that Louie's Backyard wasn't a signal ingredient in more than the food.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Trinkets & Old Haunts

For years I had a mouthwatering appetite for fine watches, starting with Tag Heuer, Bulova and Baume & Mercier then graduating to Rolex, Cartier and Breitling.  But then I bought an iPhone and the idea of carrying around two time pieces seemed superfluous as well as incongruous.  Initially to avoid the accusation of being a tinsel-loving magpie I had infused my rapacity for complicated watches with what I considered pure pragmatism including for example a profesed penchant for technical craftsmanship and that they must be made of gold since I suffered an allergic reaction to base metals. But the persuasiveness of those palliatives commensurately diminished as the need for a wristwatch evaporated.  Trinkets are a hard-sell at best! They're usually on the retail perimeter (much the way fine art is the last of the household possessions to be acquired); on almost any level they compete unfavourably with groceries and booze.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Maritime Sally

It requires little in the way of ambition to lapse into utter lassitude in Key West. Certainly first acquainting oneself broadly with the territory helps. But once having scoped the grid and character of the Island - and perhaps after having elevated oneself by tottering about the botanical gardens (an intellectual expiation of the indolence that follows) - the door opens wide upon tireless evaporation. The mollification of life's harshness is painlessly accomplished by the emerald sea, yellow sunshine in a cerulean sky, the soothing temperatures and blanket purposelessness. The amplitude of the lethargy is further broadened by the expansive open waters.  Everything contrives to extenuate one's erstwhile collywobbles.  There is nothing here which doesn't reek of sybaritism. Even as I learned today the botanical gardens on Stock Island are the only frost-free subtropical enclave in the whole of Florida! As proof of its singulairty it is a paradise for the whimsy of butterflies (36 of the known 55 sub-species have been spotted here).

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Accentuate the Positive

If I recall correctly it was sometime around 2 o'clock this morning as I lay in bed, rolling from side to side in a futile attempt to relieve the chronic strain on my lower back and the pain that radiated into my legs, that I cottoned onto the old chestnut "Accentuate the Positive".  I fully suspect that contemporaneously with my mimicking of a chiropractor I had been mulling some collection of unfortuitous circumstances.  As embarrassed as I am to say, I am unable to recount what precisely might have caused the disturbance. I am so notoriously fretful that I can only put it down to a native syndrome.  In any event and in spite of the miserable condition I became obsessed with the thought that the only door out was to identify what was good and to abandon the rest. The thesis spoke to me with the gravity of an axiom while at the same time affording me a stepping stone upon which to extricate myself from disabling confusion (itself accentuated by the customary middle-of-the-night spookiness).

Monday, January 15, 2018

Key West

Key West is for me the acme of the Florida keys.  The signature subtropical character and architecture of the Florida keys - beginning in Key Largo and dilating through Islamorada, Duck Key, Marathon and the numerous tiny keys along the Overseas Highway (the notorious Florida State Road A1A which goes all the way to Jacksonville in northeast Florida) - reach their zenith in the heart of Key West. After breakfast this morning we shifted here from Marathon, a mere one hour drive away.   By ten o'clock we were pulling into the drive of the Hyatt Residence Club which appropriately is at the end of A1A where it intersects Key West proper.  Not unexpectedly our "beach house" was not ready for us upon check-in so in order to profit by the delay we asked the Front Desk to arrange the delivery of two bikes. The chap from Island Safari Rentals arrived within 15 minutes and had us set up and going moments later.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Marathon Cycle

Before you become entirely distracted allow me immediately to clarify that there is nothing Olympic about this particular cycling chronicle.  It is a tongue-in-cheek reference to a vacation cycle in Marathon on the Florida Keys where we're currently sojourning.  The bicylce I rode was a Sun Bicycle.  The first Sun Bicycle I owned was a used one from Blue Coast bicycle rentals on Daytona Beach Shores.  I paid $80 for it last October and it has - knock on wood - been a faithful companion since. Today at the Courtyard Marriott hotel in Marathon I rented another (shown in the photo above).  My commitment to the product has only been strengthened - balloon tires, high handle bars, efficient single-gear, fenders and a fat-ass seat!  Absolutely perfect in every way!  I ordered the bicycle at the front desk of the lobby after breakfast.  The staff wheeled it into the lobby moments later.  It was reminiscent of valet service! They did everything but open the door for me!

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Florida Keys

It is impossible not to be moved by the turquoise waters surrounding the Florida Keys.  The uptick in subtropical vegetation is equally inspiring. There is as well a Bohemiam sense of relaxation and indulgence. I suppose that for those who love it, boating and fishing are high on the list here too (live bait and beer are available almost everywhere). We spent last night at the Jupiter Beach Resort and Spa where we've stayed several times already. As we didn't leave the apartment on Daytona Beach Shores until after 4:00 pm it wasn't until 7:30 pm that we landed at the Resort.  The drive there was a rainy one but the traffic on Interstate 95 was tolerable. We headed directly to the dining room and put on the nosebag.  The repast was excellent as always (especially the fresh Florida Grouper). The Resort distinguishes itself for me as it is formal without being stuffy.  The staff make the guests feel like part of a family (and I understand there is a lot of repeat business as a result).

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Median Transition

We've been on Daytona Beach Shores for almost 90 days, half our winter sojourn as we straddle two countries on the continent. During that time things have changed, sometimes imperceptibly. Incrementally we've been absorbed into the fabric of the community though naturally I wouldn't imagine that our status is any other than that of an interloper.  Residents of any community traditionally harbour a disdain for tourists no matter where, even if their livelihood depends upon them.  But apart from that lingering and indelible characterization we certainly feel more adjusted to the local environment than the day we arrived.  We've discovered a favourite place for breakfast ("The Cracked Egg") and dinner ("Boondocks") both of which are nearby and serve good food. I had the oil changed in the car yesterday at a local Lincoln dealership.  We've established ties for grocery shopping, hair styling and dentistry. We know where to shop for home provisions and casual clothing. We're beginning to blend in with the wallpaper! The weather has changed from moderately hot in October to cool in January; but I can see from the fog today that warm air from the south is starting to compete with the cold air from the north.  I am gleefully anticipating the escalating temperatures in February!  As a forerunner we're headed to Key West.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Trust your Instincts

There are many things in life which confound me.  Being caught off balance should not however be the springboard from which to leap to improper conclusions.  Following is an account of what I consider a more solid basis for making important decisions.  Foremost - as my succinct introduction implies - one should not feel the necessity to decide something when discomposed.  It is imperative in such circumstances to remove oneself from the fray of the moment to deliberate more keenly upon the subject at hand.  What follows are the specific standards by which I believe one should assess a matter.

Monday, January 8, 2018

A Disconcerting Day

Though I am regularly plagued by the shadow of anxiety it is a stretch to say that when I awoke this morning I knew it was going to be a rough day. Even calling it rough is perhaps a stretch.  Maybe "disconcerting" is a better portrayal. Nothing of consequence happened but the events were nonetheless unsettling.  I had no premonition of what was to transpire but I didn't exactly spring from the lair. Nor by contrast was there anything especially alluring in the offing which might have contributed a buoyancy to the day's unrolling proceedings.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Beach Exploration

Before we arrived on Daytona Beach Shores last autumn we were full of hopefulness about what we might discover here. The optimism wasn't a burgeoning tourist preoccupation.  After all we "winter" on Daytona Beach Shores so we harbour the necessity to blend in with the wallpaper or at least surpass the stigma of a backpacker. We wanted to insinuate the very fabric of the community. We've now been here almost three months and I am hard pressed to say that we've succeeded to work our way into the environment. Certainly I've found an ace car wash and we've habituated one of the local riparian fish restaurants which has perhaps the unflattering name of Boondocks (though the peel-'n-eat shrimp are nonpareil). And I've seen the Ponce de Leon lighthouse (practically the tallest in the nation) at a distance when bicycling on the beach to Ponce Inlet.  But otherwise I confess we might know as much if not more about Longboat Key which we lately visited on the Gulf Coast (and a very pleasant stopover it was I might add).  Our once ferocious ambition has lapsed into the domestic routine of grocery shopping and bicycling which insipidity I suppose oddly distinguishes us as real residents.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

The Barrier Island

The Atlantic Ocean coast of the United States from Hilton Head Island, SC southward almost until Fort Lauderdale, FL is bordered by narrow strips of land of diverse lengths and widths which are known as barrier islands. They are separated from the mainland by what are variously called sounds, rivers, inlets or even creeks. The barrier islands are really nothing more than sand dunes and are distinguished from the rock formations found more prominently further north. "They are subject to change during storms and other action (such are hurricanes) but absorb energy and protect the coastlines and create areas of protected waters where wetlands may flourish."

Friday, January 5, 2018

Y va faire frette!!

Temperatures at home in Canada are freezing to an Olympic degree! Here on Daytona Beach Shores - where as usual we're feeling the repercussions - the report on the street is that temperatures have descended to the lowest they've been in the past eight years.  It is nothing to see a Floridian on S Atlantic Avenue dressed in a parka with the hood up!  For my part - the imperturbable Canadian that I am - I went bicyling again today along the same route but clothed instead in shorts with a shell on top of my Polo shirt and light cotton jersey.  As a concession to the uncommonly cool air I wore a pair of white socks to protect my precious ankles.  Certainly the wind was fresh and my hands became somewhat frigid but the whole was not so intolerable to prevent me taking my daily exercise.

Thursday, January 4, 2018


Shopping - like buttermilk - is not for everyone. Some people positively hate it.  They consider shopping strictly an obligation, one to be quickly exhausted so that they can get back to doing whatever it is they prefer to do. And they're not open to being convinced otherwise. Personally I tackle shopping with gusto.  Foremost it begins with mere curiosity. I enjoy seeing what's out there. Wherever you shop there is a very real chance that you'll stumble upon something unimaginable which tweaks your interest. Even a hardware store is moderately engrossing though I confess I'm less fiery about cookware. On balance it is a credit to human ingenuity that people continue to invent things and produce new takes on old ideas (this is especially true for technology buffs). Shopping is not just about buying exactly what you set out to buy. I consider it an accomplishment to have browsed the retail overtures even if nothing reverberates. As well shopping builds a treasury of ideas for comparison. In that sense shopping is power in the same way knowledge generally is.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Deuk Spine Institute

Canadians are familiar with anecdotal comparisons of their publicly funded health care and the privately funded model in the United States of America. To the uninitiated the legal distinctions of the two systems are fatiguing. However for the patient what ultimately counts is the simple matter of service. The statutory debate side-lines the heady constitutional issues of funding, universality, cost, co-insurance and inequality and instead focuses upon the less abstract and more pressing pragmatic topic of service - promptness and professional standards.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Well, here we go!

It isn't often I attack the unfolding day with p&v but today was such a day! Oddly I cannot even report that I profited by a particularly resuscitating sleep last night.  In fact I was awake throughout the night fussing on my iPhone to search for pill boxes and to uncover the precise meaning of some word which I've now sadly forgotten but which I overheard yesterday. I also resigned myself to the necessity of my late-morning attendance upon my hair stylist and the more pressing engagement tomorrow at a spine institute.  What a laugh it is that these trifling matters absorb me so!

Monday, January 1, 2018

New Year's Day (2018)

Though the weather is bleak - grey skies, driving rain and a cold wind out of the north - we're having a cheerful start to the New Year and effectively avoiding its blizzard effect. Last night we lingered in front of the wide-screen television until after midnight to watch the descent of the crystal ball in Times Square and to see the local fireworks on the beach and along the Halifax River. After five years without a drop of alcohol I can bear the deprivation. I cannot imagine how I might accomodate the erstwhile indulgence without compromising competing ambitions.  This doesn't mean however that when I awoke this morning I was perky.  Far from it! What has transpired commensurately with my elongating abstinence (and dietary purification) is the undeniable and unbidden degeneration of age.  Alas the frozen truth is that I am no longer young.  But until this unseen and capricious senescence renders me immobile I am not about to concede defeat; and like any other self-respecting old fogey I shall in the meantime rely upon deception, mendacity and wilful ignorance.