Thursday, May 31, 2018

Idyllic Venture

I wouldn't normally invite myself to someone else's home for dinner.  But on this occasion the social faux pas was at least somewhat less offensive because I offered to prepare the meal.  Our host has the fortune to live on an exceedingly lovely property and as a result is notoriously reluctant to abandon it. We on the other hand are fully fledged cave dwellers; it is therefore an attraction for us to retire to the country to a decidedly less urban environment.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Sex, Drugs and Rock-'n-Roll

At almost seventy years of age, even the thought of sex, drugs and rock-'n-roll is a joke!  For the past several days my personal agenda has been indisputably dull by comparison. In fact I am beginning to bore myself. When not reading the sometimes salacious history of facts surrounding the legal career of Claire L'Heureux-Dubé (the first woman from Québec and the second woman appointed after Bertha Wilson to the Supreme Court of Canada), the extent of my unorthodox preoccupation has been limited to daily bicycle rides, visits to my physician and my elderly mother and regular trips to the car wash. Perhaps astonishingly I nonetheless cannot completely diminish the value of those seemingly humdrum adventures.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Safe and Sound at the Edge of the Milky Way

The so-called "big picture" is I understand considered by some people as clarifying or soothing; apparently it is reputed to relieve the wrinkles and what are condemned as trifling details. Frankly I'm not convinced the intellectual posture is always the best.  Indeed for the most part I am more inclined to prefer scrupulousness to outline. But certainly the broad view can lessen at least some of the sting of mere enumeration.  The conclusion - like the initial metaphor - is more a sentiment than an analysis.  Consider for example the following story I heard today.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Practice what you preach

I have found it so much easier to tell other people what to do than to do the same myself. Living up to one's own expectations is far less convenient than merely directing traffic.  Not to mention the gratifying appeal of rhetoric which abounds in preaching generally!  Listening to one's own voice  - by comparison to the filthy trouble of performance of what one actually says - is considerably more fascinating.  Yet as irresistible as it may be, inevitably the depth of evangelism has its limits.  Specifically the nasty possibility of having to practice what one preaches comes home to haunt us.  The rebound or echo of one's own scintillating voice is ultimately inescapable.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Catching Up!

After a hiatus of a mere six days - admittedly more in the nature of a pause than a suspension - my friend Jill and I reunited with characteristic gusto this afternoon to catch up on the weekend's news.  Last Friday she had been whisked off to Toronto and Georgian Bay for a get-to-gether with close girlfriends (predominantly people who like she are connected with the animation industry).  We began our reunion at her digs within the frothing spray of the Mississippi River.  It is always a treat to commute to Coleman's Island, the source of Almonte's historic woollen trade.  The Island instantly captures the welcoming atmosphere of tradition and quaintness. It is a secluded part of Town which features the delightful (though uncommonly known) Esplanade along the North bank of the Mississippi River.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Out of the blue!

Earlier this evening I received a telephone call from an ancient - though long disregarded - friend. We go back about 35 years; and we have in our repertoire a history of youthful exploits and sometimes unprecedented laughter.  The call was entirely unexpected and quite out of the blue.  Pointedly the call was an invitation to dine with him (and others) and another mutual old friend (visiting from Nova Scotia) whom I have not seen for more years than I can recall. The gathering is proposed for two days hence.  I did not hesitate to accept in spite of the host having offered the excuse to do so by proclaiming more than once his apologies for calling on such short notice.  It is a mark of the depth of a venerable relationship that it willingly reignites at a moment's notice!

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

What's the news?

Though I did not officially buy the law practice of the late Raymond A. Jamieson, QC (I technically just paid for the purchase of his office lease and equipment - not his "files"), I have always considered that by virtue of assuming his ancient office at 74 Mill Street (and the management of the legal affairs of many of his former clients) I am the successor to his practice.  I valued my brief acquaintance with Mr. Jamieson; and I vividly recall much of what he said to me.  Among those memorable utterances was his regular introduction upon meeting, "What's the news?"  Over the years I have contemplated the reason for the success of that greeting.  It is for example markedly different from the usual question, "How are you today?"  Mr. Jamieson's enquiry instantly promoted more interest and cut to the chase so to speak.

R. A. Jamieson, QC

By the way, the reason I've posted the photograph of the 13th Prime Minister of Canada John G. Diefenbaker, PC, HC, QC (June 21, 1957 - April 22, 1963) is that Mr. Jamieson was a confirmed member of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada.  He would I think be proud to have his memory associated with Mr. Diefenbaker (as no doubt would many residents of Lanark County).

Monday, May 21, 2018

The meaning of life

As plausible as it is for the agnostic or atheist to adopt the mockery that "religion is the opiate of the masses", we're less enthused about admitting the insinuation of pagan or secular mystery.  There are those for whom the modern religion is cinema.  It arguably bridges the gap between biblical tradition and heathen account.  Interestingly the word heathen derives from the Old English of Germanic origin "haēthen" meaning "inhabiting open country".  The cinematic appeal of Indiana Jones regularly features the symbolic spaces of canyons and deserts.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Back to Basics

Novelty is not something I pretend to cultivate. The closest I am likely to get to anything new is to repeat what I haven't done for a short while.  By and large I focus exclusively upon what I have always done.  This is not to suggest I haven't an appetite for adventure; it's just that my reality doesn't match my imagination.  Briefly today while sipping a double-espresso coffee at Starbucks in Bells Corners I investigated some purported "saltbox" real estate in Nova Scotia (just in case the mounting health insurance premiums should ever prohibit our winter sojourn to the United States of America).  As uninventive as the exploration may have been, it quickly became apparent that a) nothing is cheap - anywhere; b) the Germans and Americans have likely already bought up everything of interest in the entire Province; and c) it's all unnecessarily premature - and whatever might be discovered now is certain shortly to be out-of-date.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Victoria Day Weekend

The British royal influence was inescapable today with the wedding of Harry and Meghan (the Duke and Duchess of Sussex).  For many the pomp and circumstance was a welcome alternative to the usual news.  There were floods of favourable reports about the improving status of the royal family generally, all of it remotely adding an element of nature to an otherwise bizarre arrangement called the monarchy.  For the commoners a mere view of Windsor Castle on a sunny day is awe-inspiring.  I won't however say that the picture was any more real or persuasive than our own early morning glance along the Rae Side Road as we journeyed to Rock-N-Horse farm to collect a supply of breakfast sausage and bacon.

Friday, May 18, 2018

The price of freedom

In October, 2017 after the worst mass shooting in the United States of America weird and wired television character Bill O'Reilly (now thankfully a disesteemed reject of equally laughable Fox News) boiled the massacre down to six words: "This is the price of freedom".  Does this absurd comment have any support at all among the American people?  Are they genuinely subject to such extraordinarily shallow observation? Are the Americans collectively as stupid as they now appear to be to the international community? If so, what planet do they live on? Is Trump actually their leader? Do they also think the South will rise again?

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Standard of Living

The measure of my day - and the barefaced order in which I reckon it - is the extent to which I relish my health, breakfast, the weather, the way my clothes fit, the tenor of exactitude (everything from the responsiveness of emails, the level of commercial and financial anxiety to the way the car engine sounds) and my current perception of the future.  I am far beyond the quantification of wealth, comfort, material goods and necessities (unless you include intellect, production, the incidence of disease and personal safety). But the cost of goods and services, inflation rate and the number of paid vacation days each year are outside my personal scope.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

The universe is unfolding as it should

All my life I have considered impatience my principal fault. What however redeems the inadequacy is the regular occurrence that if I hadn't pushed things along a bit I would not have discovered an even greater fault.  Relying on events to somehow unfold without lubrication has proven to be quite unreliable.  Admittedly I will never know if the same discovery might have arisen had I been more patient. On balance it's apparently a chance I wasn't willing to take; and a quandary I am prepared to absorb.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Fundamental Error

Fundamental error is primarily a legal maxim (normally advanced by an appellate court) to describe an error when the judgement of another court (usually an inferior court of first instance) violates a fundamental right guaranteed by the state constitution.  Some universally recognized rights that are seen as fundamental (for example contained in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights) include the right to self-determination, the right to liberty, the right to due process of law, freedom of movement, freedom of religion, freedom of expression, the right to peaceful assembly and freedom of association. As compelling as those rights are, what I am talking about here is rather a "gross or inherent flaw in computation, judgement or subject matter that gives rise to other errors".  My particular focus is not upon judicial error but rather upon personal miscalculation.

Monday, May 14, 2018


It is not entirely unusual that, upon hearing or seeing an uncommon word, I privately promise myself to investigate later.  Today while driving my car into the city to get it washed I stopped at a red light next to a Jaguar automobile with the singular licence plate "Diogenes".  My Bachelor of Arts undergraduate degree is in Philosophy so the name had a shred of import for me.  But frankly I hadn't any more than that.  When I returned home late this afternoon I recalled the event and looked up the name.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Spectacular Sunday!

Last night I began taking my Celebrex arthritis pain killers again.  They work. I had quit taking them about a week ago because I wasn't convinced that my aching limbs were any the better for taking the pills. But judging by the way I felt today, I am not about to abandon the prescription again any time soon. This is not the first time I have quit Celebrex.  About a year ago I had speculated that Tylenol or Aspirin pain killers were just as effective.  But I now don't believe they are. I have accordingly reduced my intake of Tylenol Arthritis (650 mg) from six to four per day - 2 at ten o'clock in the morning, 2 at four o'clock in the afternoon.  The Celebrex will start the day at 4:00 am and end the day at 8:00 pm.  This adjustment will hopefully serve to quell the pain without destroying my innards.  I have accepted that my sole problem is arthritis (as opposed to some related condition of sciatica or degenerative discs which no specialist has to date been able to isolate) and that it is never going away. I simply have to learn to live with it as best I can. Though this is hardly a brilliant deduction it illustrates how falsely persuaded I've become to imagine that almost any cure is possible.  It is not.  As long as I can avoid most of the pain, I consider my reluctant conclusion a tolerable result.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Getting into stride

If there is any ritual which distinguishes our summer sojourn in Almonte it is Saturday morning breakfast at the golf club.  Actually we go there more often than on Saturday mornings but for some reason I've always attached special significance to the mid-weekend outing.  Perhaps it's because Saturday customarily attracts the working stiffs for a game of golf and the clubhouse is as a result more energized with activity.  It is less of a tranquil rural retreat than is more common when going there during the week for example. Anyway ... all this is to say that when we leisurely began our morning ablutions today we abstractly queried whether the golf club was yet open for business.  We telephoned the club.  After hearing with the usual messages - Press 1 for Pro shop, Press 2 for Kitchen, Press 3 for Bar - we connected with a young voice who confirmed that things were in full swing.  Shortly thereafter we were cleansed and dressed, seated in the car and headed down the road in the brilliant morning sunshine to the rustic Village of Appleton.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Bite my tongue

There are some who enjoy a good fight.  They appear to survive on conflict. My preference is opposite.  Which is not to say that I shy from disagreement but rather that my method is different.  If I can't get what I want my first choice is to move on.  This is however only so if I do not calculate any advantage in doing otherwise.  Essentially my object isn't the dignity of winning, it is cultivating behaviour which in my opinion properly resolves the disagreement.  If I perceive that no amount of naysaying or objection will succeed to alter the other chap's inclination - and if nothing critical turns on his inalterable decision - then I'm out of the picture. Pyrrhic victories hold no sway for me.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Home from work

When I was still practicing law it was not uncommon - especially in the latter period of my practice - to relish the unvarnished luxury of returning home for an evening dedicated to the simple pleasures of a drink, a tasty meal and listening to music from the Great American Songbook (that loosely defined set of popular and enduring songs from the 1920s to the 1950s created for Broadway theatre, musical theatre and Hollywood musical film).  A plate of smoked oysters and a roaring fire in the Vermont Casting completed the scene. The routine was so hackneyed as to be almost laughable - though I readily confess it never failed to satisfy. The unspoken palliative wasn't so much the visceral pleasures as the reward of completing a successful day at the office. I have forever been an addict to production and no amount of psychological bantering will suffice to replace the manifest thrust of the Protestant Work Ethic. The value of work was instilled in my mind at a very early age, perhaps by the likes of Sir William Osler whose publications were part of the wallpaper at Trinity College School where we boys from St. Andrew's College regularly debated or played football.

Mother's Day (Sunday May 13, 2018)

Dearest Mother,

What a delight it is to share with you the celebration of Mother's Day on Sunday, May 13th, 2018! The Spring flowers have begun to bloom; the leaves on the trees are rapidly changing from mere buds to verdant maps of colour; the skies are blue and there might even be a warm breeze in the air. Our immediate family is blessed to reside within a short distance of one another. It is the perfect opportunity to share with you and one another our blithe thoughts for all you have done for us as our mother.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Update your login credentials

Connecting with other people is no easy matter.  Initially the acceptance of their particular vernacular may outright repel us; and even if we make the effort to understand them our posture is not always sympathetic. I won't make the mistake of suggesting we all suffer identical or even similar demons; but after this morning's bout with obstruction I'm convinced that I have at least a partial appreciation of the frustration and resignation some people at times endure. It's all very well to observe that there are bumps in the road but it is quite another to have the feeling of being at the end of the road - or, worse, even wishing you were there. Sometimes the trauma of living is so acute - and the energy to keep going so exhausting - that no relief seems either imaginable or possible. Positive thinking is not only of no avail, it may be plainly tiresome and off-putting.  Grief can occasionally overwhelm the situation beyond the realm of either logic or hopefulness.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Expiate my guilt...

Purging on almost any level is not something which is entirely foreign to me. Nor might I add do I consider it at all repugnant - whatever the reason for the redress.  I view the undertaking more as a redemption than a sacrifice.  Which is to say that the motive isn't wholly altruistic. Given my notorious abhorrence of religious fiddle-faddle anything I can do to remove the obligation of recompense from an imaginary spiritual realm is probative. Frankly I consider squaring one's conduct an ultimate personal advantage quite apart from the off-setting it may afford the aggrieved party (who very often can easily bear the deprivation of another's guilt in any event).

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Dinner in the Village

A dinner invitation from my erstwhile physician and constant friend at his country residence is not something I would ever willingly decline. His proposal was as always succinct - the usual time, the usual gang. Considering that his historic entertainment has involved crowds varying from as few as four to as many as several dozen, some strictly business, others mainly family and friends, the only feature about which I felt moderately certain was the time. This I settled at six o'clock. But it might have been as early as five o'clock if the weather had lent itself more favourably to a pre-dinner swim in the pool. Apart from that detail I knew nothing further about the congress.  But I perceived without a moment's hesitation that we were assured a pleasant evening.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Mature Behaviour

\Occasionally I behave as I should, you know - like an adult.  More exactly, I sometimes rise above my instinctive cavilling reactions and conduct myself instead with a degree of social nicety and exactitude. But it isn't easy.  It has taken me decades to discover the advantage of reservation and propriety.  This is critical to the examination for without the reward of doing so I am hard pressed to promote its value.  What I am learning - ever so slowly - is that getting the better end of the stick is not always worth the effort. I suspect a tidy amount of the psychological persuasion lies in the painful admission that we see in others what we see in ourselves (a variation of the sobering adage that criticism is the best autobiography). In the result the avoidance of sharp words and manners effectively relieves one of the humiliation of self-analysis and disappointment.  While this in itself is hardly a laudable reason for mature behaviour it nonetheless serves to dampen the nastiness temporarily - by which time the enthusiasm has often diminished to the point of enabling one to escape the toxicity of the initial stimulant.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

The Birthday Party

This evening's belated celebration of my sister's 68th birthday wouldn't be the first familial indiscretion to be cheerfully tolerated.  The abuse in this instance was all the more openly avowed because the delay (of almost a month) was previously considered and accepted.  The accommodation was the result of my sister's and her husband's absence in Florida on the day of her birth - a milestone which we ourselves only coincided with upon our own return from Florida the day before.  So at last today we four reunited at the Pelican Seafood Market and Grill where once again we were assured the finest oysters, lobster and pan roasted sea scallops.

Give it a rest

May Day is notoriously famous, a public holiday (International Workers' Day based on the alleged anarchist movement of the Haymarket labour riot in Chicago on May 4, 1886) usually celebrated on the first of May.  Though today is May 3rd the date nonetheless inspires me.  May Day is after all originally an ancient northern hemisphere spring festival and a traditional spring holiday in many cultures.  Dances, singing and cake are often part of the festivities. For me the occasion marks the customary novelty of the season, a period of renewal. This is particularly so in this instance because the winter has been marked by uncommonly draining events from which only now I feel I am at last arising.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Le Café

We are privileged in many ways in our hometown.  Apart from having a famous chocolatier ("Hummingbird") we boast a first class coffee maker ("Equator Coffee Roasters"). There are in fact several venues in town to frequent for a stimulating cup of java and to reconnoiter with one's acquaintances and friends.  Today once again our exploit took us to Equator.