Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Endless Detail

My career as a lawyer was dedicated to the examination and expression of detail. Frequently the commitment amounted to an obsession, admittedly one that for some was irksome.  I generally preferred to imagine that my clients were appreciative of the attention; but certainly on occasion my fastidiousness bothered those who were on the receiving end of the analysis - often other lawyers obliged to address the more granular repercussions. Generally speaking the annoying feature of detail is not so much its particularity as its capacity for impeding the smoothness of events (in some instances disrupting the consummation of a contract).  At the root of the problem is possible and sometimes serious misunderstanding. It is not for example the acuity of a diamond which is the issue; rather, whether in fact the item is genuine. When once one is aligned with particulars, the preoccupation is universal and otherwise indiscriminate. For this reason the brooding is at times mistakenly subject to attack for triviality.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Social Media

The distinction between modern and conventional is increasingly less persuasive.  At one time it was considered antique and backward to employ traditional methods of communication. Yet the so-called popular tools like Facebook and Twitter are rapidly becoming about as dynamic as a hamburger chain store. The extent of the common denominator has done little to augment the underlying talent. The telegraph was introduced in 1840.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

The Sunday Drive

It would normally have been an ideal day for a bicycle ride - cool, clear sky; a Sunday.  However given the tempered prologue - for medicinal reasons only - the episode unfolded as an afternoon drive in the country. In preparation for the outing I took the car to Stittsville for its daily swab. The high atmospheric pressure invited the rejuvenation. In addition to wiping the running boards and windshield wiper blades - I fussed over a minor disturbance in the wheels (but ended by concluding it was merely the effect of dampness on the disc brakes). This made me feel much better; it relieved me of the moral and psychological necessity to visit the dealership tomorrow morning. Besides the objectionable noise had completely disappeared so it would have been a search for identification. Thus emboldened I relished the undulating drive home through the vernal countryside before collecting my companion for our anticipated journey to Neat Café in Burnstown.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

The pleasure of narcotic drugs

Following my dental surgery yesterday I am taking a pain killer which I strongly suspect is narcotic.  Among other warnings on the bottle about drowsiness and dizziness and the use of care when operating a vehicle, vessel (e.g., boat) or machinery, there is a yellow sticker proclaiming that opioids can cause dependence, addiction and overdose. The opioid is used to suppress pain, coughing and for executions in the United States. My general mood and behaviour is unquestionably heightened in the past twenty-four hours.  The primary difference is the total lack of pain, a highly improving sensation. I have no doubt I give myself more credit than due when I say that an element of the euphoria is psychological release from what had been the impending medical issues prior to the surgery (though in fairness the endodontist told me today in a follow-up conversation that it is possible there was removal of some disturbing bacteria in the surgical process).

Friday, April 26, 2019

As a matter of record...

Between enthralling appointments today with an ophthalmologist and an endodontist, I pursued my inextinguishable interest in photography and humanity. Admittedly my gusto was heightened by the fluidity of the medical profession. After months of harbouring speculation about impending cataract ripening and a potentially defective root canal I was at last positioned to address both matters head on.  I now regard my former molar in a plastic bag; and my sartorial amusements "focus" on reading glasses. Between those poles we overcame a four-hour wait by visiting an expert photography store and by acquainting ourselves with a local entrepreneur whose greatest achievement in life shone as his family and grandchildren (a distillation I invariably find heartening). The variation was illustrative of the acme of science and nature, the juxtaposition of technical detail and ineffable love.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

How's trade?

In June of 1976 I arrived in Almonte from Ottawa to assume my duties as an associate lawyer with Messrs. Galligan & Sheffield, Barristers &c. Essentially my job was to plug the hole left by R. A. Jamieson, QC who at approximately 82 years of age was retiring after 50 years or more of practicing law in Almonte. His was a practice which preceded that of long-time lawyer and later Judge C. James Newton, QC and was more closely aligned with that of Mr. W. H. Stafford (who among other clients represented many of the Toronto mining interests in what is now called Lanark Highlands). Mr. Jamieson's practice had been purchased by Messrs. Galligan & Sheffield. Upon being introduced to Mr. Jamieson in his ancient law office on the second floor of 74 Mill Street in Almonte he shook hands with me and asked, "Are you not a non-resident of Canada and do you own any adjoining lands?" It was a calculated comic allusion to the cumbersome terminology then featured in any Deed of Land in the Province of Ontario designed to ensure that the Grantor (seller) was not a foreigner (and therefore subject to non-residency tax by the federal government) and not splitting up (severing) land in violation of the current provincial Planning Act.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Fountain of Youth

From head to toe captures my recent medical worries - ears, eyes, teeth, chest, abdomen, hips, legs and feet. Except for the last, each recital has been prodded, analyzed and largely remedied (or at least repaired to the extent possible). I'm presently inclined to think that the neuropathy affecting my lower extremities is irreparable, presumably the fallout of genetic abnormality or years of abuse. Otherwise my carcass is the subject of a Fountain of Youth - more pointedly described as a waterfall of retail enterprise into my coffers. Surmounting the limiting detail of the public health system means having to absorb some responsibility of one's own, a defeat which in my case is accelerated by impatience and absence from the jurisdiction for half the year.

Monday, April 22, 2019

The weather here...

Perverse metaphors abound for what otherwise constitutes the irrefutable unpleasantness of aging - fine aged wine, sublime distillation, patina, rainbow, the polished or weathered look, etc. Though we're capable of surmounting the plummeting materiality of our personal being by the employment of these niceties, when it comes to things generally I prefer more than poetic elevation. I am enthralled by substance and quality. It requires more than an allusion to cognac and hardwood to sustain me.

"... art has often to present herself in the form of a reaction against the sordid ugliness of ignoble lives"

A Critic in Pall Mall (Dramatic Review, May 23, 1885) by Oscar Wilde

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Easter Weekend

From what I can judge the rain has not been as forbidding as forecast. Certainly the rivers are higher than normal at this time of year; and the waterfalls are arrayed to singular advantage. The golf course is suffering uncommon flooding nearby the first tee below the club house adjacent the Mississippi River. The predicted downfall has however retarded.  We didn't encounter any road closures. Occasionally the sky appeared to be clearing and brightening in the distance.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Good Friday 2019

Today was by any account miserable. It was cold and rainy.  After a prolonged primarily indolent morning - including a late but hearty breakfast of steel cut oats ornamented with banana slices, walnuts and raisins washed down with strong, black coffee - and after having digested as much as able to be endured of JS Bach's St. John Passion - we resolved to overcome the dreary weather by going to Burnstown in Renfrew County.  Before however we made it out the apartment I spied an empty plastic container on the bench near the front door. It was the vessel in which our recent dinner guest had delivered a very satisfactory homemade pesto. The package was now empty and cleaned.  It invited the opportunity to drive to the Village of Ashton to return it.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Getting in focus

Today's encounter with the medical profession afforded me the much awaited counsel of my esteemed optometrist.  Upon greeting one another he gleefully informed me that - as of six weeks ago - he is the father of a baby girl, Reaya. His ebullience was palpable!  The mere mention of the child summoned the passage of sunshine and pride upon his fatherly visage. He wasn't however distracted.  Specifically he enthusiastically echoed my desire for cataract surgery, something I had thought was open to at least temporary adjournment until the so-called annoyance was "ripe" or whatever other vernacular they have for the condition. While I appreciated that the operation addresses the progressively opaque lens of the eye, I had no idea it involved the removal of the lens and its replacement with a synthetic. This naturally explains the cosmetic value of cataract surgery - to avoid having to wear glasses - but it remains consistent with the aging phenomenon from which I currently suffer. The optometrist clinched the deal for me when he opined that it is only a matter of time before I need to have it done.  This fuelled my  appetite sufficiently to enquire about having the procedure at a private clinic (possibly within a month) as opposed to going on the roster for public health care (which would likely require at least a year or more).

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

The good news is...

As I drove to Kanata directly into the glistening sun early this morning for my appointment with a cosmetic surgeon I drove over the Carp River.  The water had flooded the banks to an Olympic degree. What in the summer is nothing but a meandering creek was today - at the start of springtime - a shallow lake spread over the entire landscape, causing the bony trees to look awkward in their nautical environment. I was instinctively moved to stop alongside the road to take a photograph but my sense of duty prevailed instead so I kept driving.  Later this evening however - when the setting sun was facing the water falls in Town - I recovered my photographic yearning sufficiently to pick up from my computer, temporarily abandon my traditional late afternoon coffee and drive to the park at the bottom of Bay Hill to take a few snaps.

Monday, April 15, 2019

And so it begins...

It isn't often I become excited about the start of anything.  Most events are now predictable to the point of calculation. Being probable tends to equate to unsurprising. What galvanized me today wasn't the novelty of what needed doing.  Rather it was the relief at putting the agenda in gear. As unpleasant as a project may be I have always preferred to address the matter than to defer it. Today marked the beginning of a series of scheduled appointments, almost all of which start early in the morning, each of which follows one after the other (not by design, just the way things transpired), some of which number two in the same day, all of which are so-called "time sensitive" and which in turn carry the weight of collateral and repercussion. The bulk of the enterprises are condensed within the next four days - paradoxically prior to Easter (though I am not certain why I consider that self-contradictory) - and the remainder dwindle over the two weeks following.

Sunday, April 14, 2019


Debussy (the musical impressionist) heralds the start of a new day. Specifically I am listening to La Mer (No. 1 de l'aube à Midi sur la Mer). It was that or Johann Sebastian Bach's "I am standing with one foot in the grave", Canata BWV 156: I Sinfonia (1729). I opted initially for the nautical theme though it proved to be more work than expected, not quite the Sunday morning serenity I was hoping for.

La Mer ("The Sea") is not only the title of Debussy's orchestral masterwork but an apt metaphor for his innovative art. As Rachel Carson noted, like the sea itself, the surface of Debussy's music hints at the brooding mystery of its depths and ultimately the profound enigma of life itself – after all, mankind carries the primordial salt of the sea in our blood.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Moi, je suis le centre du monde

Espousing the doctrine that existence means my existence and my mental states is perhaps not as egregious as the belief of the solipsist that there are no thoughts, experiences and emotions other than one's own.  Both postulates however venture dangerously close to egotistic self-absorption, a tolerable immersion for a child but not the sort of candid condemnation even the millennials might prefer. There is a difference between griping about the world one's parents constructed and choosing instead to go "deep down into life and not caring a damn" (P. G. Wodehouse).

Friday, April 12, 2019

Signing in...

The impairing burdens of our return to Canada after a six-month truancy have - for the moment at least - evaporated or been suspended. I am recovering my blissful treasures. The mail (what little we don't get by email) has been opened, digested and catalogued. The hot water tank is running full steam; the toilets have been flushed; the suitcases put away and the resort wear temporarily stuffed wherever it fits.  Though the upcoming week is one appointment after another, today (Friday) and the weekend are clear except for what we want to do exclusively for our pleasure - which includes a gastronomic journey with friends to a sugar bush. After a routine breakfast (barring the boiling over of the neglected almond milk - and ignoring the morning bracer of a caramel square and Nanaimo bar) I set off upon my reliable Electra bicycle complete with fat whitewall tyres and comfortable leather saddle. Such a blessing!

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Marzipan or martini?

My introduction to marzipan was more than 50 years ago in Stockholm, Sweden. It was there in the high-ceilinged bright, white kitchen of my parents' Djursholm dwelling that I first tried the celebrated princess cake, notorious for its mouthwatering green concoction.  Subsequently I experimented with its transmogrification as imitation fruit, vegetables and small figures of animals. Just about any rendition of marzipan is zestful competition for the alternate indulgence of a stiff frozen martini (though certainly many would challenge the relative avidity). I'd wager as an amateur nutritionist that the devilish ingredients of the two potions are mischievously similar.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019


Transitioning from the American to the Canadian vernacular is not without its differences. Reawakening to the dissimilarities is as stimulating and as edifying as the study of comparative law, a lesson in the peculiarities which are nonetheless underpinned by profound likeness. Yet in spite of the elemental roots of the two cultures enhancing variances persist. It is most certainly a privilege to straddle the two nations howsoever ephemerally and superficially. In modest ways the distinctions insinuate one's sensitivities and strangely constitute a vigorous emergence. I confess the instinctual allegiance to my Canadian citizenship though as willingly I acknowledge the persuasion of changeable residency. In the end it is a race to the pinnacle of impressions and euphoria, one which I happily relinquish to matters of currency. Do we have any other choice?

Monday, April 8, 2019

Small Pleasures

Make no mistake chicken soup and “eat your veggies” are good medicine and good advice. Oh, and chocolate peanut butter silk pie is the reward for being so preposterously good. All small pleasures, I’m certain you’ll concede.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

New Dicoveries

It’s all too easy to become set in one’s ways, unwittingly narrowed to the point of ignorance in the haughty name of custom. Novelty - like the once unimaginable advantages of developing technology - can produce some hugely satisfying results and alteration. Segregated for the moment from our ritual habits on Longboat Key we have fortuitously unveiled some entertaining and heartening modifications, the very thing two old fogeys secretly welcome amidst their routine ambitions.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

The Dénouement

We have all but unknotted the strands that have sown us together here for the past six months. Today was my goodbye haircut; tomorrow it's our purgative manis and pedis. Early Saturday morning we're gone.  After my bike ride late this morning I carefully positioned the trusty instrument in its habitual place against the wall in the men's cabinet on the first floor and bid it au revoir! It may or may not survive ignorance and abandonment for the next six months until our return. No matter; I'll buy a new one if necessary. The local bike dealer rejected my offer to buy it in exchange for my promise to purchase a new one next year.  The condo management was reluctant to propose a storage place.  So I'll just leave it where it has resided since last October.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

The Agenda

It wasn't until I reached Bayfront Park on my morning bicycle ride that I activated my inertia concerning an outstanding matter with our financial advisor.  Until then it had pretty much been an ordinary awakening to the new day; viz., making the bed, the usual ablutions, breakfast (alas finishing the Kerrygold Pure Butter) and reading the latest digital issue of Country Life (which to its credit dutifully appeared on schedule). There was a minor disruption in plans when the hair salon called to change my appointment tomorrow by 25 minutes due to the illness of the stylist. I think it was shortly thereafter that I mounted my initial assault upon the financial advisor.  I have no patience. As far as I reckoned, he had indicated two days ago he would contact us. His time was up.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Sweetness and Light

Chapter II - An important item

But whatever lives or dies, business must be attended to; and the principal business of good Christians is, beyond all controversy, to fight with one another.

Richard Doddridge Blackmore, "Lorna Doone"
March, 1869

The sempiternal conflict between humans is unchangeable but it can be ignored. It smacks of complacency to rise above an issue. Yet the pragmatism of doing so far outweighs the dubious fortune of headlong battle. For one thing, does it really matter in the end if there is a victor?  Surely there are more compelling motives for resolution or at the very least polite avoidance? One incentive may be the judicious side-stepping of a fruitless encounter. Some people do indeed look for a fight. My less than charitable inducement is the concealed indignity of addressing a complaint.

Monday, April 1, 2019

Escaping the Rain

We're getting close to departure. Things have taken an odd twist aside from an accelerated dénouement. For one thing it is unusual to have escaped a torrential rainfall this afternoon while fulfilling my daily bicycle ride. Normally I wouldn't have ventured abroad in the first place.  But today - even though I knew the weather was threatening and unpredictable - I decided it was more strategic to exercise than to remain dry. Whether fortuitously or not the rain didn't commence until I had already landed at Bayfront Park and assumed my customary posture overlooking Sarasota Bay - where I meaningfully reflected that only four days remain here.