Wednesday, July 31, 2019

The Times

I am starting to think my amateur preoccupation with recording what I do and think is a repercussion of the fugacious nature of life, the sudden evaporation of events and the prevailing taste and smell of the present. Plainly it's a competition, the sole consequence of which is an obdurate march forward. Revisiting my historical records is seldom more than a divertissement. No matter. Like most things in life it's the act of performance not particularly the sequel which is the real narrative. Otherwise I submerge myself in the poignancy and perfume of the present, including even as today the rich scent of dung amid the fields of verdant corn stalks wavering in the late afternoon breeze near the Village of Appleton.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Back on my perch!

If you count our detours to Shédiac and Fredericton, NB we easily drove 3,500 kms during our week-long visit to the Maritimes. The statistic is irrelevant except that it is one of my many obsessions to record such detail. There is some pertinence in that it documents having motored over 12,000 kms since taking possession of the car less than three months ago on May 6th last.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Birthday Celebration

We notoriously avoid the celebration of birthdays, both our own and those of others. In defence I am reminded of my late father’s own excuse for similar ignorance; namely, “Every day is Christmas!”  As specious as it may at first appear there is a truth in that compensatory assertion. This is particularly so today on the occasion of another birthday and our contemporaneous enjoyment of the last day of our sojourn in eastern Canada. In summary we have everything for which to be thankful; it would be hard to imagine a more desirable coincidence of favour. The weather has been spectacular;  the food, superb; the scenery, transporting; the serendipity, remarkable.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Shediac, New Brunswick

We never did find that sandy path between the cottages where I vaguely recall having strolled nearly 65 years ago with my sister and parents. But the visit to Shediac, NB has proven to be both useful and pleasant. The ideal weather helps. Though we only waded in the water up to our ankles at the beach - and admittedly the water was warm enough for a more adventurous dip - we nonetheless fulfilled the essential features of this reminiscence.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Anatomy of a Murder

It is an odd coincidence this afternoon that while revisiting my law school days of 49 years ago I watched an old black and white movie which has been proclaimed as one the most authentic legal films ever made. Apparently it has been used as an educational device for law students. Its critical demonstration of legal analysis and difficulty made the film curiously unique especially when compared to the many other Hollywood courtroom dramas (with the possible exception of Witness for the Prosecution). It is not my regular habit either to watch TV or films; but when I do succumb to the diversion the choice is active and selective. This film captured my delight with the avoidance of gratuitous violence and the preposterous promotion of guns. It also inspired reason and uncertainty.

Friday, July 26, 2019


We by-passed “Potato World” and the “Accordion Museum” to get to Halifax today as planned. Our reservation paid off. Upon arriving at the Hotel Nova Scotian late this afternoon our first sight was the scene of the Cunard line’s Queen Mary 2 and the Queen Elizabeth in dock at the harbour. We and hundreds others later watched from the newly conditioned waterfront piers as the two giant vessels withdrew to sea under tow.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Le Coup de Coeur

As we motored towards New Brunswick this morning along “le bas St. Laurent”, the predominantly flat agricultural land (an ancient remnant of the ice age and former basin of what is your now the St. Lawrence seaway) gradually gave way to hilly topography with mountainous ranges in the distance (reflecting the extension of the Appalachians).

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Heading East

We began our day leisurely, this in spite of the fact it was the start of our journey to Nova Scotia and New Brunswick when we would normally have launched like a rocket. Our casualness arose from two features. One, we’re in no rush to get anywhere fast; and two, we deliberately planned our first stop along the way only four hours from home - specifically at the Sheraton hotel in St. Hyacinthe, Quebec about 50 kms from Montréal (pointedly on the south side of the St. Lawrence River in the more agricultural area of this generally urban and industrial region).  Because the traffic progressed so smoothly and we seemed destined to arrive at the hotel not long after noon we momentarily debated whether we should skip our scheduled stop and aim for something further abroad.  We were spared the wrangle when recalling that we had already committed irrevocably to the reservation. When we arrived at the hotel exactly as anticipated we initially consumed extra time by refilling the
car with gas. Afterwards - following a rapid check-in, convenient subterranean parking and easy haul of baggage on a cart to the very agreeable room - we frequented the “club” rooftop lounge where we sipped Cappuccino coffee and munched on fruit power bars while watching Robert Mueller on CNN struggle alternately with Democratic and Republican binary agenda, often an embarrassing mixture of the obvious, obsequiousness and shameless political design.

Sunday, July 21, 2019


Given my lingering recollection of the Mediterranean from the hilltop estate in Porto Rafael, Sardegna, I am almost embarrassed to summon in particular the breakfast I prepared each morning when staying there. For one thing I am not much of a cook. My success (if any) is more by accident than anything else.  It helps to have quality ingredients and to avoid messing with a good thing. That dish has since become my signature matutinal creation, one of few recipes in my bailiwick. I confess the constituents of all my meals - whether because they are unimaginative or elemental - contain a variation of identical properties; namely, wheat, olive oil and salt. These predominantly pasta or bread fares I succeed to elevate by the critical choice of herbs and select protein.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Get out the heavy stuff!

The suitcases we have are reliable. The development of technology has inspired newer devices than our now predictable garments.  Only this morning as we sailed homeward along the ribbon of highway from Renfrew County (where we had languished nearby the Madawaska River al fresco for a highly agreeable smoked salmon Benedict, espresso coffee, breakfast cookie and chocolate/peanut butter square) I mentioned I mightn't bring my iPad to the Atlantic Coast.

Friday, July 19, 2019

Cheeseburger and Onion Rings

Never have I been disappointed in the cheeseburger and onion rings at the golf club. Today however surpassed even that expectation. Again and again while devouring my burger I found myself privately questioning whether it were the juice of the burger or the butter on the bun which captured that exceedingly satisfactory fatty flavour. And the onion rings - though not as plentiful as usual - were superb! As was the coleslaw and flavourful dressing (the dregs of which I literally drank from the small bowl).  All in all it turned out to be the perfect venture on a hot summer day in July!

Thursday, July 18, 2019

The Carnies are back in town!

This weekend is the annual Almonte Fair. What I recall in particular from the one or two occasions on which many years ago I attended the event is the pie contest in the Agricultural Hall (built in 1869); and that the fair ground rides were specifically designed for small children only. As a result I have never been terribly motivated to return. The fair grounds are ideally situated along the Mississippi River.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Over the hump

After turning into the narrow drive to the car wash today I tapped a new Petro-Canada Season Pass good for 90 days. This trifling event signals the mid-point of our return to Canada in April and our upcoming retreat to Longboat Key towards the end of October next. Today's three-month division also heralds our approaching and much-anticipated departure to the East Coast for a short but decidedly metaphysical visit during which I will reacquaint myself with my embryonic past (between 50 and 70 years ago). As critically for me are the bordering collaborations with the endodontist, dentist, ophthalmologist and neurologist - which will conclude months of relentless medical preoccupations, all of which (among others) prefigured in last winter's abbreviations in the United States of America.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

What turns your wheels?

The wheels that have turned me throughout my lifetime include bicycles, bracelets, ships wheels, rings, clocks, watches, cars and circles generally (spiritual and psychological). Like most people I've never fully appreciated the deeper meaning of the mathematical pie symbol (other than possibly as wallpaper). Occasionally I am moved to comprehend the "circle of life" at least to the extent that it captures one's awakening return to the beginning after a period of discovery and exploration (what I've heard called the "Magus" - a sorcerer).

Monday, July 15, 2019

Getting ready to go

Ecclesiastes 12, King James Version

Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them; While the sun, or the light, or the moon, or the stars, be not darkened, nor the clouds return after the rain: In the day when the keepers of the house shall tremble, and the strong men shall bow themselves, and the grinders cease because they are few, and those that look out of the windows be darkened, And the doors shall be shut in the streets, when the sound of the grinding is low, and he shall rise up at the voice of the bird, and all the daughters of musick shall be brought low; Also when they shall be afraid of that which is high, and fears shall be in the way, and the almond tree shall flourish, and the grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire shall fail: because man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets: Or ever the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher be broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern. Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it. Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher; all is vanity.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Été canadien

"Nature teaches us how to die." That at least is the gist of an adage I recall from the ritual of speculative Freemasonry - a witticism more lasting even than the universal fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man. Its modern application for me is as seemingly trite as down-sizing and purging - basically the inevitable elimination of almost any order, though no less artless and wholesome. The purity of the logic is compelling as well - that is, narrowing one's focus only upon what is important. There is a risk of severing ties with erstwhile contacts, obligations, pleasures, things and romances but the overwhelming appetite (or diminution of it) for what remains is inescapable, both as a motive and as a resource.  How pleasant it is at last to confine one's interests and expressions to what appeals to and answers a sense of purpose!

Friday, July 12, 2019

Summer Soup - Gazpacho

Nothing says summer to me like gazpacho soup! It is super refreshing and bursting with fresh-from-the-garden summer flavours. Though the recipe is reportedly from Andalucía, Spain my introduction to it was at Bohemian Café in the By Ward Market, Ottawa about forty years ago.  The chef - who graciously shared his recipe with me - was of Japanese extraction. Gazpacho soup is one of the few things I can successfully make in the kitchen.  It combines my love of raw veggies, salt and olive oil along with the more exotic and never-fail complements such as basil, oregano, parsley, Tabasco, Worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard, fresh lemon juice and red wine vinegar. I have not however adopted the Moor influence of adding cumin (apparently an aid to digestion).

Thursday, July 11, 2019


Not long ago it was distinctly unfashionable when traveling to carry a passport from South Africa. It was baggage in a very real sense.  It was nothing to encounter a white South African citizen who preferred instead to carry for example a passport from Canada in order to avoid the fall-out of stigma which often accompanied association with South Africa. Already the days of apartheid seem remote. The latest stain upon the international scene is the President of the United States of America. His combined tolerance of - and charity towards  - racists, Nazis and white supremacists has most recently been further contaminated by his feverish dedication to determining the citizenship of those living in the United States of America. If one pauses long enough to ask the obvious question, "Why do we need to know the citizenship of our residents?", it is not something which is readily apparent other than as a political tool and fodder to appeal to the frightened, witless members of society who collectively intend to make themselves taller by trodding upon those beneath them. The indisputable reality is that most of the potentially questionable immigrants in the United States of America are disadvantaged, uneducated and struggling. It therefore seems to be a highly divisive and poorly calculated agenda to commit so strenuously to proving the inadequacy which already exists rather than seeking a way to elevate the mostly ineffective lot of those in need.

Colonnade Pizza

The Colonnade Pizza has been a casual dining tradition in Ottawa for years. The website proclaims its "Signature Pizzas and more since 1967". Only once - an inventive mistake - I tried something other than its popular "combination" pizza (with anchovies) and Italian salad (with house dressing).  The experiment in novelty was quite disappointing and as a result I have since stuck to the tried-and-true recipe, augmented normally by a small bottle of Orangina. Until recently we likewise never ventured beyond the Colonnade's flagship restaurant at 280 Metcalfe Street (at Gilmour Street) next to the Mayfair apartment building where I lived when I began practicing law (articling) at 100 Sparks Street in 1974. Last night however I coaxed our friends in the west end of Ottawa to rally with us instead at the more proximate outlet on Hazeldean Road in the Farm Boy Plaza across from Grace in the Kitchen (gourmet grocery store and high-end kitchen appliance supplier). The restaurant venue is not particularly elegant but the meal was up to its customary high standards.  As well the service from the young, attractive girl was pleasant and efficient.  More importantly the reunion of old friends was exceedingly refreshing and highly entertaining (as I would have expected from the conglomerate of singular personalities). It was "Boys Night Out" with a twist!

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Fortune Smiles

The normally disparate spheres of the ethereal and the terrestrial today harmoniously conjoined.  The heavenly magic of a summertime dinner at the country residence of an ancient friend fortuitously complemented the mildly chilling arrangement earlier this afternoon of our granite burial monument at the Auld Kirk cemetery. The two undertakings serendipitously arose within twenty-fours on one another, quite unexpectedly but the spontaneity proved remarkably refreshing.  The authors of the respective events are by no accident regularly celebrated for their gusto and determination. Carpe diem is no stranger to either of them!

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Village Vagaries

Though we missed the 3rd Annual Pancake Breakfast at Burnstown United Church - maybe we'll be able to make it next year - we celebrated this ideal brilliant mid-summer Sunday morning by going nearby to Neat Café for what proved to be a perfectly sumptuous repast. We four - and trusty little French bulldog Max - languished on the outdoor patio in the glistening sunshine, recapitulating, aimlessly sharing stories, interests and agenda. I overheard a blasé and hitherto unknown ambition from our friend to be a pilot.  What makes someone wish to fly, to want to sail in the air?  To me it rings of far more adventure than appeals to my native sensibilities; but I imagine those who are struck by the yearning are strongly motivated. His 49th birthday approaches. When is the moment right?

Friday, July 5, 2019

Breakfast @ Golf Club w/Jim & Louise

I joined the Mississippi Golf Club as a social member in 1976 shortly after I arrived in Almonte to practice law. Like many other clubs, the Mississippi Golf Club in the Village of Appleton has become over the years a regular place for leisure gatherings. Initially it was primarily the venue for annual summertime family celebrations on the scale of twenty people - things like my parents' birthdays (in June and August), Mother's Day and Father's Day. There were also the occasional congregations of friends - usually of a smaller number, latterly intimate gatherings of two couples only. The original club house built in 1915 - where once or twice after dinner I played the rickety upright grand piano - was destroyed by fire in the fall of 1997 and replaced with a new modern building that opened the following spring.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Fresh field strawberries!

Another sweltering summer day! The temperature easily reached 92℉ under a predominantly azure dome with a light southerly breeze. My late-morning bicycle ride was however irritated by the wide-winged nuisance flies which persisted along the old railway trail. The daemonic level of battle between me and the flies escalated to complete inutility on my part. At times I must have made a comic display thrashing my arms about. My psychotic resolve is to avoid the trail until the current proliferation is exhausted either by the ravenous birds or Nature's ephemeral expectancy. Bug repellent doesn't appeal to me.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Life and Death in the Country

When we drove out of the Auld Kirk cemetery after the short ceremony, I rhetorically quipped, "What's not to like about living in the country - the cemetery is 5 minutes away and the golf club is 10 minutes away!" We continued our drive on this sultry summer day to the golf club where the six of us rallied for lunch along the Mississippi River.  It was a tight group but a poignant gathering - three faces going back together over many years, three others more newly connected but equally important. The old and the new each modified by change, continuing together into the future. For the time being we bore in upon the present and the past.

Small graveside service for Nick

It is hardly a remarkable confession by any one of us that there are few people whom we unhesitatingly recall from the myriad we've met or known throughout our lifetime. What it is that engenders a moving recollection is equally singular. Peculiarly it isn't always the strength of association between the admirer and the admired. The man who is the subject of this particular footprint is one for whom I occasionally worked and with whom I occasionally socialized.  Significantly I did however ritually break the morning fast with him and other cronies for about thirty years. But as I say, this does not of itself predict a memory, much less a repeatable or favourable one. What then made Nick so stimulating to me?

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Balmy Summer Day

Impregnating the soothing summer air this morning was the delicate fragrance of field flowers. The scent reminded me of fresh soap. I was overwhelmed by the gentleness of the perfume as I cycled along the old railway line from the centre of town to the junction on the highway to Carleton Place - in all about 13 kms from beginning to end, approximately 1½ hours at a leisurely rate (including stops for photos). Today was Tuesday, the first business day following the holiday weekend.  Canada Day was yesterday. The popular enthusiasm had evaporated. Throughout my sojourn there was only one other cyclist and one pedestrian. I imagine a lot of people are absent on holiday as well.