Friday, May 31, 2019

A Sterling Day!

An erstwhile acquaintance of mine once told me she was terribly fond of sterling silver jewellery. She preferred it to gold. That came as a surprise to me. I subsequently learned however that sterling silver has its peculiar allure. Today for example I was prompted to sport two of my own sterling silver pieces in lieu of the usual gold items. The pieces I chose are both made by Links of London.

"If you do what you like, you'll like what you do"

Of all the adages I've heard, none more summarily captures the start and finish of life's adventure than the saying, "If you do what you like, you'll like what you do".  What could be more instructive? It is no objection that doing so is a selfish preoccupation; or that its feasibility is often impossible. The aphorism is not a fast food menu or an account of daily life (which obviously is destined to have its measure of ups and downs) rather a lantern of guidance upon which to keep one's focus. As axiomatic as the ambition may be we nonetheless routinely permit ourselves to be diverted from the underlying intention. Nor is it difficult to understand the source of corruption - gripping models of behaviour like charity, familial duty, societal pressure and obligation in a myriad of other extrapolations (which by the way has the poisonous trait of assuming that existing trends will continue or that a current method will remain applicable). Nothing is certain about life, least of all what you will or will not like tomorrow. As a point of logic, one's outcome is thus more assured by deciding and doing today what you like.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Bien en Evidence

That today was a day of discovery should bring warmth to my heart.  And to be truthful it does. There are times I regret I haven't larger ambitions to broaden my mind, like when I repeatedly repeat the same things over and over again as is my tireless wont. What makes today's adventure all the more kindly is that it arose by accident. Though in defence of my narrowness I have to say that when I cycled home this morning - and passed the ancient Town Hall -  the seed was then planted to return later to capture a view of the River and some of that magnificent blue sky and those fluffy white clouds. It transpired precisely as I had wished.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Into the stream

It is impossible to remove oneself from the past. This is so whether one wishes to do so or not. Eventually we are drawn into the stream of detail that has made us what we are. As Goldie Hawn (playing the aging, alcoholic actress) quipped in the movie "The First Wives Club" to Bette Midler (playing the frumpy Jewish mother), "Your life, it's so...real!" The reality of the lives of the characters catches up with all of them. As in the movie, the result is often perfectly happy but we frequently find ourselves resisting the flow.

Monday, May 27, 2019


This morning as I cycled along "la route précise", repeating the task I so unabashedly perform almost every day, the thought occurred to me that there are some my age who persist to go to work everyday. Briefly I pondered the possibility that I too could work on occasion and still make time for bicycling in order to maintain my health. The idea didn't however gather steam.  Not because I am inclined to lethargy but because I'm not convinced I have the capacity to work.  Or - more particularly - to think clearly enough. The longer I remove myself from professional duty the more I am inclined to devalue my ability to address the associated necessities. I have also acquired a growing admiration for those learned minds who propel society forward. Perhaps it is my own awakening deterioration which augments the superiority of others.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Country Living!

There is - as I am certain you already know - that pithy adage about being keen on what life dishes out, grasping the moment and all that sort of spirited encouragement about wherever it is that you currently find yourself. As crusading as it may be, I hasten to say that I have no reluctance to adopt the campaign. Frankly, life in the country is good!

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Hanging by a thread

If you say that something is hanging by a thread you mean that it is in a very uncertain state and is unlikely to survive or succeed.  Its meaning is not however always metaphorical. This I recently discovered in an odd manner. The symbolism that flowed from the discovery is quite different from the aphorism, though equally pithy.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

The magnetic shower curtain

Some things just aren't worth the trouble. Nor the worry. Nor - for any reason whatsoever - the attention.  Oddly it isn't necessarily the importance of the issue which governs. There are for example some very heated matters which on one level command all sorts of inquiry and examination; there are certain policies and enactments which scream for correction or redirection.  Yet as I say even some of those don't matter a damn in the end.  Perhaps that's the real test, can you live with it?  Some controversy is more a question of superiority than propriety. Whether you should undertake a confrontation solely for the purpose of proving yourself right is questionable - even if the spinoff is possibly loss of standing.  Neither does it depend for whom you're standing up - yourself or the world. That battle - like almost any - can itself prove to be a waste of time.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

In a small way

The events today were uncommonly pleasing - though none of what transpired approaches anything unusual or especially momentous. I can only assume that within the vernacular of a humdrum lifestyle it doesn't require much to qualify for distinction.  Nor frankly do I care that it is only everyday stuff that amounts to amusement of record. I have managed to preserve sufficient complacency to spirit the most banausic variety. Attitude invariably trumps charm.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

To the city and back

My native impatience conspires more often than not to defeat what are Life's boundless prospects; which is to say, I mistakenly succumb to disappointment instead of imagining hopefulness. It requires a stern jolt to reposition myself. The awakening is invariably uplifting and encouraging. Yet through grim conviction to Protestantism or similar psychological perversion, I persist in cultivating wariness about the future - as though by some skilful manipulation of the mind I shall overcome untold possibilities. Luckily for me I am regularly defeated in this dour project.  It is however the sole domain of serendipity - or, if you prefer a more spiritual rendition thereof, providence.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Lost in the Ottawa Valley

On my drive to Merrickville today I detoured and got lost.  It's a small threat naturally because I had a general idea where I was headed. As with so many other occasions on which people become disoriented I ended by going in a circle essentially. Not certain why that is, but there you are! My venture took me along two waterways - the Rideau River and the Mississippi River. Whether it was because we haven't had a lot of sun lately; or whether because the sky today was especially blue and the clouds remarkably white - whatever the reason, the spectacle this afternoon when rolling across the open fields was quite delightful!

Sunday, May 19, 2019

JJ and Fred

There are some dreadful things in life, things which even if not instantly abhorrent nonetheless tend to upset one's innards, often peculiarly strong and vehement thoughts only. Our capacity to translate the crudest emotion into a dramatic rendition is apparently fathomless. In keeping with my recognizably binary outlook on life, I have today received a scintillating email from my friend JJ.  Uncharacteristically he related a private insight which was seemingly prompted by an article written by Fred Reed attacking Christianity and certain American overtly religious politicians. Therein lies the binary nature of the communication: sense and nonsense.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Holiday Weekend

A resident of the condo building emailed me mid-day to say was a robin's nest in the corner of our balcony. Only hours before I had been relaxing in the drawing room and noticed the sudden commotion of a bird flying over the railing. We never use the balcony.  If we want to be outside we go bicycling. I am reticent to disturb Nature but I took a photo of the nest.  What an engineering feat it is!

St. George Street

When Stephen Godfrey, The Globe and Mail arts journalist, died six years ago, I wasn't sure whether I ought to attend the funeral. I had followed his arts coverage in The Globe over the years, but I knew him only slightly. Even though his death - a dreadful, patient one, in a wintry Toronto ravine, at the end of a long depression - had affected me, I didn't feel I had any right to mourn him alongside his family and close friends. I only knew him well as a reader, and the see-and-be-seen aspect of funerals made me wary. Still, I dithered. At the last minute, I dressed for the funeral, got in the car, drove by the church, saw the crowd of fellow journalists milling about outside, and took a pass. I regret it now. Even though I turned my back on the mixed bag of grieving, gossip, consolation, schadenfreude ;and voyeurism that characterizes funerals, I went on thinking about Stephen Godfrey. A contagion of grief had been let loose in the atmosphere, and I had caught it, like the flu.

Marni Jackson, January 11, 2000, The Globe and Mail

Friday, May 17, 2019

Ridden hard and put away wet

The unmistakeable collateral of old age is more often than not somewhat depressing. I'm not saying we should look 18 years of age forever; but the reality is frequently a far cry from that pleasantry. Recently I rekindled acquaintance with two old friends.  In keeping with the oft-repeated adage, we picked up where we left off.  At least, that is, with the exception of our minds and bodies.  In that respect things have changed rather astonishingly. And not in a good way.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

A very special day

Before I commence my trifling account of the day I must preface what follows by confessing my wholehearted suspicion that what transpired is to most people quite uneventful and certainly unlikely to warrant being remarkable. Yet it was so to me. By the end of the afternoon on my way homeward I couldn't resist inwardly gushing about the sequence of events.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Coping with the Mist

Murkiness is an impassioned obscurity. As we rode on our bicycles across the bridge early this morning we were absorbed in a fog. Little could be seen in any direction. Yet there was a perfervid appeal in the mist and the swirling waters below. The lingering questions from my midnight dreams haunted me. Is life really difficult to understand?

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

The Price of Everything

We subscribe to HBO ("Home Box Office") which for the uninitiated and for lack of a more sophisticated technical explanation is pay TV.  Recently we watched a documentary about the contemporary art world entitled "The Price of Everything". The title is an allusion to Oscar Wilde's quip in Lady Windemere's Fan where Lord Darlington says to Cecil Graham, a cynic is "a man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing". Importantly it was one of Wilde's only two novels - The Picture of Dorian Gray - in which he promoted the theory of "art for art's sake".  Some caution must however be kept alive when responding to Wilde. He was after all the one who said, "Each man kills the thing he loves".  As provocative - and entertaining - as the assertions often are, they're not entirely reliable statements of fact.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Peanut butter, butter and bread

I have just returned from grocery shopping.  I needed some apples, oranges and tomatoes. Seemingly there are things of which I am unable to bear the deprivation, among them peanut butter, butter and bread. I won't feign they are the only kit I covet. Though in the food department I'm inclined to posit - as I once heard a physician remark about beer - that they contain all the nutrients required to sustain survival. It is fortunate I've conditioned myself to rise above the alcoholic indulgence since I don't need the alimental advantage to encourage the descent (the philosophic strength of which by the way accelerates with age). And apologies to the French for having excluded cheese from this ingenuous' catalogue of imperatives.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Fee Simple

There are essentially two categories applicable to real estate; namely, ownership ("fee simple") and possession (tenancy). The distinction is sometimes captured in the terms freehold vs. leasehold. The difference is not always palpable (as in the comparison of a long-term life estate to outright ownership) but generally speaking fee simple is considered the highest level of interest in land. Real property (from the Latin word "res" meaning "thing") is broadly considered immovable as opposed to personal property. The thrust of "real" is that its features apply to the immovable property itself; whereas the rights applicable to personal property are personal to the particular owner not the object specifically. For example the rights of a riparian property owner reflect the peculiar character of the water bound property, not the farmer who owns it.

The word "fee" derives from "fief" meaning a feudal landholding.  Feudal land tenures existed in several varieties, most of which involved the tenant having to supply some service to his overlord, such as knight-service (military service).  If the tenant's overlord was the king, grand serjeanty, then this might require providing many different services, such as providing horses in time of war or acting as the king's ceremonial butler.  These fiefs gave rise to a complex relationship between landlord and tenant involving duties on both sides.  For example in return for receiving his tenant's fealty or homage the overlord had a duty to protect his tenant.  When feudal land tenure was abolished all fiefs became "simple", without conditions attached to the tenancy.

Friday, May 10, 2019

The secret potion

When it comes to concoctions with magical and healing properties nothing exceeds that of a revivifying social gathering; in particular, a one-on-one congregation with an old friend. Such was the special brew for this evening's elixir. After almost a decade of quietude we reunited with an erstwhile acquaintance. Our foregathering began very early this morning with a telephone call and a proposal to meet later this afternoon for coffee and a chat. It ended late this evening following a heartfelt congregation and a very agreeable dinner.

Restless Night

Coffee may or may not have been the problem.  I seldom sleep well at night. An afternoon nap generally affords a deeper and more contented rest. Last night I succumbed to bed shortly after eight o'clock. At midnight I was awake. I lay awake for hours, haunted by the inevitable midnight mischief. Somewhere after five o'clock this morning I relented at last. But not for long.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

What are you saving it for?

Louis Irwin is perhaps the richest man whom I have ever known more than casually.  I hesitate to say we were close or that we were hard and fast friends but he did at least visit me at my residence on more than one occasion.  There is an old saying that inviting someone into your home is the height of intimacy.  I believe it is true - especially so when the visit is unattended by anything other than the same sociability which would customarily prevail. Though he owned a Fleetwood Cadillac, Louis normally arrived in my driveway in an unpretentious putt-putt of an automobile in the front seat of which sat his mangey sheepdog (which Louis had the courtesy to confine to the vehicle throughout the duration of his visit).

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

A Distinction without a Difference

Particularity is not a feature which appeals to everyone. Taking the broader view of life and its events is for some more healthful.  I prefer to distinguish precision from what many characterize as painful meticulousness. Having said that, I will however admit that very often the substance of detail can prove to be more common than quirky. On one level the identification of dissimilarity is useless - such as weather you look better in long or short hair.  For one thing, the hair will eventually grow back or can be cut again; for another, no one really gives a damn.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019


Tuesday - what I have been accustomed to call the second day of the week - hasn't normally much significance for me. Etymologically it is aligned to the planet Mars (dies Martis), including the war-like character for which it is commonly known. More popularly we've all heard of Mardi Gras ("Fat Tuesday"), the day before Ash Wednesday reflecting the practice of eating rich, fatty foods before the ritual fasting of the Lenten. Today's particular Tuesday strangely had for me a heightened sonority. I felt oddly confused - almost mysteriously influenced - throughout the day, especially regarding precisely what day of the week it was. I inclined to imagine it was a Saturday or Sunday; I failed to perceive it as a traditional day of the working week. Perhaps I was intoxicated by the multitude of activities which have occupied me for the past twenty-four hours, many of which were singular and involving their own idiosyncrasy.

Monday, May 6, 2019

New Buggy

Being as I am a confessed curmudgeon with a burgeoning dislike of anything novel or different, it is no surprise that one of the salient features of my new automobile is that the Ford Motor Co had the decency to preserve substantially what has characterized this particular model (the Lincoln Continental) since its inception. The preservation of fundamentals has made my adjustment to the vehicle considerably more digestible than having to confront newfangled functions and accessories.

In the fall of 2016, after a fourteen-year absence from the Lincoln model line, a new tenth generation Continental went on sale. Previewed by a namesake concept car at the 2015 New York Auto Show, the 2017 Lincoln Continental is the successor of the Lincoln MKS. The Continental is manufactured in Flat Rock, Michigan, alongside the Ford Mustang. This is the first Continental generation since 1958 that is not assembled at the Ford Motor Company Wixom Assembly Plant.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

I have nothing else to do

A friend sent me an email this morning.  In it he apologetically reported having spent 2½ hours at the gym earlier because he had "nothing else to do". It was intended primarily as a joke - he had previously told me in the same email that he was working on editing a judgment he had written recently and that he had a matter upon which to adjudicate tomorrow - but there was nonetheless a hint of asperity in what he wrote. In general terms he is retired from the practice of law. From time to time he acts as a deputy justice of the court; and he edits jurisprudence previously published. The bald truth is that for some people retirement of any character is fraught with the poison that one has quit. There is something compelling - and apparently legitimizing - about having to work for a living, being obliged to get out of bed to do what must of necessity be done.

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Saturday Reward

Last evening I made up my mind that I would go bicycling today.  It had been a week since my last venture on two wheels, an interference prompted primarily by my dental surgeon and complemented by the foul weather. The entire week had been devoted to an alteration of my habits, including my customary nourishment. Instead of steel cut oats for breakfast and raw vegetables for dinner, I had eaten whatever approached mush. The perversion came to a halt this morning. Reinvigorated by crisp, green apple slices and porridge with California raisins, I was poised for a favourable bike ride. Nor was I disappointed. The weather cooperated as well, still cool but dry.

Friday, May 3, 2019

Everything happens for a reason

Sir Giles Gilbert Scott OM RA (9 November 1880 - 8 February 1960) was an English architect known for his work on the Cambridge University Library, Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, Battersea Power Station and designing the red telephone box. Scott came from a family of architects.  He is noted for his blending of Gothic tradition with modernism, making what might otherwise have been functionally designed buildings into popular landmarks. The red telephone box, a telephone kiosk for a public telephone, is a familiar sight on the streets of the United Kingdom, Malta, Bermuda and Gibraltar.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Shopping List

As I dropped my passenger at the door of the hospital early this morning for his scheduled ultrasound scan I was reminded of the unparalleled privileges of country living. We were all of five minutes from our residence.  Parking was no issue. I had time to return home or go for a coffee before returning to collect the patient. The level of anxiety was zero.  Only days ago I had attended upon an audiologist with equal facility.  And before that it had been a lab for routine blood tests. All literally within walking distance; and managed by people whom one frequently knows. The same can be said of one's family physician, dentist and the optometrist. Not to mention the baker and the grocer. The only exception is a car dealership.  For that I had to go to the City.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

All a question of attitude!

It never occurs to me to imagine where I might live or what I might do. Like any other current reality of mine, it is not a topic of debate. More to the point I long ago resolved that the present state of my affairs is precisely what I would wish for. This has ever been the case - wherever I happened to be or whatever I was doing at the time. You can put it down to bloodymindedness or complacency if you will, but I prefer to view it as a model of adjustment.  It is a posture which over time has proven itself both reliable and completely satisfactory. Naturally I have the advantage of logic as well the inescapable detail of fact. Make no mistake however, the compelling feature is its acceptability.