Saturday, June 30, 2018

So what does it take to make you happy?

Oh, my, the timeless debate about the root of happiness!  So much of what one hears again and again is a blueprint of what it takes to be happy.  I suppose it is a reasonable enough ambition - embracing as it does the generalized rule that everything is somehow directly or indirectly aligned with the search for happiness or at least the assumption that the pursuit of happiness is fundamentally all that matters.  Put that way I am not certain it is a conclusion so readily apparent.  I am not suggesting there is anyone in his or her rightful mind who would not wish to be happy; it's just that I am not convinced the goal of human conduct is so easily portrayed. Being happy is after all not necessarily a global enterprise in and of itself.  Rather happiness is in my experience merely an adjunct of an otherwise pleasing situation.  That is, the initial goal is not simply happiness (whatever that is defined to be) but instead the tactful fulfillment of some other purpose.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Here's to life!

Yesterday afternoon - to complete the catharsis that is my bicycling - I undertook a less purgative deliverance.  It nonetheless involved answering a moral imperative.  I felt the obligation to observe something. A new outdoor brick oven had recently been constructed next to the Elizabeth Kelly Library in the centre of town.  The gossip is that the contractor who oversaw the creation is a resident of Coleman's Island. Having now seen the production I can readily advance that he has joined the ranks of the many accomplished artists in the area.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Lounging by the pool

Apparently this summer we're making a habit of swimming in the pool at our hospitable friend's country seat in the Village of Ashton. The atmospheric temperature today rose appropriately to 30℃ by mid-afternoon. There was the thinnest trace of gossamer cloud in the sky; the sultry air was still and the peripheral willows languished. The sun seared unrepentantly; we melted in the lounge chairs. After withstanding the scorching yellow orb for a mere moment a revivifying dip in the pool beckoned.  The family dog chose wisely to linger indolently with his tennis ball in the shade by the pump house.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

What a day!

Everything about today has approached flawlessness!  The glorious sunshine under an azure sky; the dry, windy air; the most agreeably warm temperature. Even now as we prepare for the end-of-day evening meal, I am savouring the mouth-watering aroma of sautéed vegetables. I suspect my increasing appetite (after having had only an orange and banana for breakfast this morning before we went bicycling) is part of the magnetism, the advantage to evanescent deprivation. The lazing experience is highlighted by pleasant jazz music.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

I don't go to church on Sundays

Given my lifetime of habit it tickles me to contemplate a possible change. The momentous change of which I speak is the day on which I visit my elderly mother at her retirement residence.  I have chosen Sundays as the most convenient day for this event.  Initially (when my mother moved to the retirement residence in the summer of 2015) my visits were more often than weekly.  Two things changed. One, I realized my visits were more frequent than necessary (and the traffic during the week was always worse). Two, I'm getting old myself.  Actually I am regularly feeling run-down. Walking even the shortest distance from the car to my destination is never a pleasure. Naturally I'm becoming more than a bit fed up with myself but regrettably that does nothing to improve my lack of energy.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

The South of France and the Austrian Jew

I was in the south of France over 50 years ago when I had just graduated from Upper Sixth Form at St. Andrew's College.  After one month's sojourn in an apartamento adjoining the Mediterranean on the Costa Brava in Spain we headed to Paris en route to Stockholm (where my father was employed as Attaché with the Canadian Embassy). After leaving Spain we had a car accident in the Pyrenees. As a result my enthusiasm for driving was seriously dampened and the trip to Stockholm was cut short a month while I lingered in Paris with my school friend Ricardo Schmeichler.  He was staying in Montmartre with his uncle who owned a Jaguar dealership in town. As far as I knew Ricardo was a Jew who came from Austria but his family then lived in Caracas, Venezuela where they maintained their business PAR (which I understand was named after the three boys, Pedro, Alfredo and Ricardo). The only other detail I recall about Ricardo is that his mother would sometimes fly to Canada from either Austria or Venezuela then take Ricardo to Saks Fifth Avenue in New York City to buy new clothes and shoes. The last I heard of Ricardo was that he had been mowed down by machine gun fire in front of his bank in Caracas.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

I don't know why we left home!

Already the thinning traffic about Town is proving my suspicion that people have left home for the commencement of summer holidays. No doubt the endurance of long winter days has fuelled the burgeoning desire for a summer holiday. The proverbial appeal of the other side of the mountain does as always spike the passion for exotic diversion - going anywhere but home.  But at times it is a mistake. I have for example flown to Italy in the month of May when the weather was absolutely perfect here but miserable and rainy in Europe. I don't care what you say, when it rains the view is the same no matter where. At least the encompassing sentiment is the same.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018


Let's start with the facts - I wish to purvey tangible proof of my authority on the weighty subject that follows. It is my opinion that facts - even if putatively open to question - are at least a disciplined and logical way to commence an analysis. I would be hard pressed to advance a more propitious foundation for any serious rumination. So let us begin! Today is Wednesday. Yet what transpired on Monday seems light years ago (forgive my muddle of a unit of distance with a unit of time but I think you get the point). After the elapse of mere hours things begin to fade from memory - at least those things which aren't for sometimes inexplicable reasons ordained to bark night and day at your front door. Put another way, there are certain matters which qualify as all-consuming to the point of wretchedness. On the other hand it never requires a whole lot of thought to discard the obsession with trifles. But not everything is unimportant.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Driving with the top down!

I don't own a convertible.  But my car does have a landau roof.  The so-called sun roof (or moon roof) only retracts a small amount but once opened - and with the combination of glass throughout most of the roof - the impression is quite breezy. Naturally when doing so I also put down the front and back side windows for the complete airy effect.  Having owned two convertibles I readily acknowledge that the landau roof on a 4-door sedan is tame competition for a 2-door sporty model like a Mustang or Cutlass Supreme (I'm guessing).  Yet what surprised me was that the balmy summer wind today blended beautifully with the sedan and lent the carefree ardour of a vagabond.

Operating a smooth machine is a thrill.  Though I am reluctant to suggest that my hearing is perfect, I can however say without reservation that the sound and feel of the engine were exquisite.  All the while I had the delightful sensation of being in an open car.  There was no point attempting to listen to music on the radio or iPhone - the wind noise capitalized on any other din.

My road journey this afternoon was a circle from Almonte along the 4-lane highway (#417) to Arnprior, down White Lake Road through to Burnstown (where I stopped for an espresso café at Neat Coffee Shop) then along Calabogie Road in McNab/Braeside Township of the County of Renfrew through Arnprior to Kinburn Road and the Village of Pakenham whence I flew along the back road to the Village of Blakeney (formerly Rosebank) into Almonte and home. These country roads are incomparable - except perhaps A1A along the Atlantic Ocean in eastern United States. I never tire of repeating the identical route here when aimlessly cruising.  The interludes at Neat Coffee Shop (or at the beanery in White Lake, the Antrim Truck Stop in Arnprior or the deck at Cedar Cove Resort) make for a pleasant outing rain or shine (though certainly the sunny weather today improved the view considerably).

I can't but feel terribly complacent when so blatantly swooning over such mundane activity. It helped to expiate my guilt that earlier this morning we had bicycled the usual ten kilometres along Country Street and the 8th Concession Line. When briefly attending a vernissage this afternoon I reminded myself how much I despise standing or walking.  My subsequent prostration in the car was more than welcome, it was a necessity - and all the better for the open windows!

Friday, June 8, 2018

Sunlight disinfects

In 1913 United States Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis coined the maxim that "sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants".  As a former lawyer it pleases me to source this attribution. I am shamefully proud to characterize many members of the legal profession as insightful and occasionally provocative.  I say this with the knowledge that some people rightfully take a dimmer view of the profession. But for the most part my experience after 40 years of practicing law is that I relish reading what elevated members of the bar and the bench have written - whether the topic is strictly law and jurisprudence, or whether the subject is journalistic, biographical, historical or even comic.  I like to imagine that elemental training in language and logic creates a very palatable resource.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018


Surely there can be nothing more innocent and pleasurable than daydreaming! As compelling as it is, daydreaming is nonetheless a singular indulgence, one of limited availability and of equal infrequency. It is quite impossible to manufacture the occupation; daydreaming is a repercussion collateral to that uncommon state of being known as temporary suspension. We must first isolate ourselves from the customary daily agenda, that combination of habit and necessity which unwittingly propels our waking activity.  Without daydreaming the sequel to our mundane vocation is seldom the product of wistful imagination.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Sunday Dinner

Sunday dinner has to be one of life's undisputed treasures. If the week's end is allowed to slip by without the plan for Sunday evening dinner it is guaranteed that nothing but remorse will attend - the consuming prospect of returning to work and habit on Monday morning. Even knowing this peril, I seldom put into motion what I professed to appreciate, apparently preferring instead to languish in the dread of the future.  It requires a degree of bravery and commitment to rise above the threat of life's realities - a contamination to which I mechanically succumbed by force of my Protestant Work Ethic. But whenever I was treated to a Sunday evening dinner it was an unsurpassed pleasure. The introduction goes back many years when I was in school and would regularly be treated by parents of fellow students to a home-cooked meal or a visit to the local golf club - often with the benefit of a beer or a glass of sherry.  While the menu has of necessity shifted from what was in those days standard fare (roast beef, mashed potatoes and Trifle for dessert), what remains is the more important ingredient - namely, socializing.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Horse Shit

The only thing I like about horse shit is the smell.  Seriously!  It's rich, sure, but undeniably bucolic.  Probably the same reason I like Crotte du Diable ("Shit of the Devil") and other strong cheeses.  They all have that robust agrarian appeal.  And I believe I've heard it said by Those-who-should-Know that 90% of taste is smell - so the implication is irrefutable.  Paradoxically horse shit has an element of unspoilt.  Yet the thing about horse shit, apart from its invigorating natural bouquet, is that it tends to ruin an otherwise pleasing acquaintance. Whatever good that attends horse shit, it is distinctly lacking in wholesomeness.  Nothing in my opinion spoils a conversation more quickly than horse shit.