The Family (Or most of them)

The Family (Or most of them)
The Family

March 31, 2008

Spring Snippets from Spaceship Orion


OK, I know that made no sense. But it sure is a shining example of alliteration gone wrong.

I got nothin'.

It's April 1, and I can't even come up with a good April Fool's Day Joke to play on you.

I'm too caught up in spring arriving chronologically, but not physically. There's still far too much snow on the ground, too much of a nip in the air. But that's what I get for living in Manitoba.

Yes, Manitoba.

I'm pining for the long shadows cast by a warm summer sun, concrete that's too hot to walk upon, the smell of love in the air and all of nature's flighty desires that go with it...

Instead, the message is take a spot at the end of the line and wait like all the rest of us, buddy!

Oh sure, the Canada Geese are starting to migrate back to poop all over our car windows. That is a sure sign of spring.
Oh sure, I saw a ladybug walking on the sidewalk at work last week. Must have died overnight during freeze-up.
Oh sure, my son has taken to wearing a hoodie outside instead of a jacket. But he's just a goofy teenager who knows nothing about anything. His brain, I think, has been cryonically frozen by all those hormones and pheremones.

Other occurrences that I'm blaming on the failure of spring to truly arrive:
1. My "Check engine" light has come on, a sure sign I'll have to spend more money fixing my car
2. My camera battery decided to go dead
3. Canada's (and Winnipeg's) team won the world women's hurling (the first letter of that word begins with a 'c', remember) championship over China
4. My daughter did NOT make her bed before she left this weekend (which she always does) and my son DID make his bed (which he never does)
5. I'm hardly visiting any other blogs at all and I haven't done a male brain vs. female brain post in some time
I'm not quite sure WHAT I will do if and when spring actually does arrive. Maybe all these things will change. Maybe they won't.
Until then, I decided to "push the envelope" and actually click on the stupid ad below, which appears on every frickin' single internet site that I ever visit. Have you?
And it actually WORKS! I never completed all the 1,328 steps required, but I did find, supposedly, that 464 graduates of my high school were actually registered with this website!
Then I stopped. Who wants to actually ever find their graduating class?

March 20, 2008



Actually, the attack came on Wednesday. But I didn't have my camera with me, and the incident left me rather shaken.

So I armed myself with my camera, my missile rocket launcher, my B.B. gun from childhood and my Canadian army fatigues (ha ha ha!) and went to work this morning to catch the black fiend and blast him to smithereens.

The picture above is of one of the outside walls of the building where I work. And you will notice that there are no bird behinds sticking out over the edge, some three or four storeys above.

My prey had escaped.

It was making itself scarce, apparently hanging out on some telephone pole out of my range, where it was cawing or laughing or whatever crows do when they shit on someone's shoulder.
There I was, leaning against the building on Wednesday, my right ear plugged because of a buildup of ear wax and who knows what else, and I was just trying to smoke a cigarette in the warm almost-spring sun.


Right on my left shoulder. Missed my head by an inch, maybe two. I knew, immediately, what had happened. Others had similarly been victimized.

I immediately looked up and saw the crow's ass and tail feathers. I swear, its butt was laughing.

Linda, the artist/illustrator who was the only other person out there, saw it all. She immediately burst out in laughter herself. I can't say that was my initial reaction.

My black winter jacket was now polluted with a giant grey/white, oozing stain on my left shoulder. My first thought was "EWWWWW!!!" and to take the jacket off to get the poop off, but it was too cold.

Linda helped me clean off most of it as she tried to contain her guffaws, recommending I needed to wash it off with soap and water inside the building. So we went up the escalator to the third floor, and that is what I did.

But I instantly pledged to get my revenge on that crow. Unfortunately, he made himself scarce on Thursday. I could only take that one picture above, otherwise I might have been shot myself by our security weenies.

Still, this got me to thinking, in a bird-brain kind of way. I would have assumed that the dopey pigeons that fly aimlessly around our building year-round would have been responsible for such a dastardly, cowardly act.

I think they train for that, don't they?

(I think this pic above is Dubya, but I have no sympathy for him; he invites all the shit he gets)

And in a rather weak attempt at a suitable segue, I was finally able to attend to my doctor's office on Thursday.

There, he sprayed about 1,000 gallons of water into both my ears to dislodge about 10 pounds of ear wax that, eerily, similarly looks like shit.

Maybe there's a message in there somewhere.

(Eds note: This is not MY ear wax. My ear wax looks much worse. For pictures, which you do not want your children to see, contact Dr. MacLeod).

And while I'm at it, Happy Birthday, Gerry!

March 16, 2008

Me and My Kids (again)


And that's OK, because I post about my kids a lot. And I like that I do, and I'm going to again.

And my camera battery ran out so I couldn't take new pix. So I've had to resurrect these ones. But I might have anyway.

I haven't seen my kids, together, in a couple of weeks. And I've been very busy and preoccupied in other ways, by work and other fine distractions, but my kids are never far from my mind or heart.

And as usual, I learned something about them again this weekend.

It really hit home what good friends they are. And, gulp, how I don't need to be part of that.

(Photoshop effort courtesy of Donn, aka Homo Escapeons or whatever he calls himself nowadays)

As a non-custodial parent of two kids I care more deeply about than anything else, two kids who live with their mom, a big thing with me is how much I miss out on their daily lives, the most intimate moments.

So I tend to gravitate towards over-compensating...wanting to give them everything, wanting to micro-manage them when they're with me, wanting them to see how much I care for them and how much I want to be a part of their lives...
But that's not really what they need. They need to know I'm there for them, of course. But sometimes, they just need me to BUTT OUT. They need me to get that they're surviving and are OK, thank you.
They want me to provide for them, to pamper them at times, to always understand I'm there for them...but at the same time, to gather that they're not little bubble babies and that they need some space, too.

So while sometimes I just want to smother them when they're with me, I can't. They want and need to feel they're themselves over here, the same way they do at their mom's place, where they (gulp) live, full-time.
And this past weekend, I finally got how while they like being with me, they still have to be themselves with me and, to be honest, they can most be themselves without me.
At least, without me being in listening distance.
And I learned this when I disappeared from the room they were in together and heard them talking and joking and teasing each other. I know they were talking about my son's girlfriend, for one.
And a lot of other stuff that clearly they felt comfortable joking with each other about, as long as I wasn't within earshot.
And that "stuff" is stuff they probably wouldn't have talked about together if I was there with them. Argggghh...

So as much as it pains me to say it, I guess it's impossible, in the words of that old Bee Gees Song, to say or sing to them, "I Just Want to Be Your Everything." Even as much as I want to be.

Instead, it's about just being their dad...and letting them be individuals, which they are evolving into, no question, with me being part of that equation, but especially now, without me being in the picture, kind of more in the background scenery...

If you think about it, how close were you to your parents? In the larger scheme of things, the teens and early 20s are all about becoming an individual, breaking away, finding your own way...
And they seem to have each other. They have a lot in common and I was amazed this weekend how much they kibitzed with each other when I wasn't right there. I told them both afterwards I had noticed this.
And they both smiled and nodded that it was true. To me it was a bit frightening, but it rang true. And it's cool. A bit hard to handle, but it's true.

March 11, 2008

Really Stupid Media Accreditation Badges

So you think we media weenies just show up out of the blue and get to cover all these sports events, huh?


We have to submit to months of interrogations in dark, dank rooms by big fat guys armed with truth serums and other drugs who are hired by organizing committees that only want us to write the stories they want us to write.

Of course, we never do write the stories they want us to write. We write what actually happens, even if their event is about as poorly run as a day-care trip to the zoo.

But anyway, I have covered thousands of big events over my journalistic career, including Stanley Cup finals, Olympic Games, world championships, pope visits, federal elections, Royal visits and ribbon-cutting ceremonies.

And for all such big events, we need to get media passes.

And to obtain such passes, we need to disclose everything about the length and breadth of us, including our most intimate details from political leanings to religious beliefs to communicable diseases.

The end result, as illustrated partly below, are media credentials we need to carry around our necks, as though we're cattle or something, that make us (or me, at least), look like total dweebs.

Don't laugh too hard!

I don't usually look this bad...REALLY! But I think making you look bad is one of the organizing committees' mandates...

Uh...Howdy doody?

Not sure what PB or DR means, but I looked like I was right in the middle of a divorce or something...

Could I look any more "Dweebish?"

D'OH! There's that DR, PB again...

March 6, 2008

My bros and me...


First, I love that I come from a big family. And I love that we're evenly split, three brothers and three sisters.

The two nobs above are my two brothers -- Gerry on the left (the youngest) and Doug on the right (No. 2 in age behind me).

I will forever love my mom and dad for having tons of kids. My mom popped us out about every 12-18 months or so, like some assembly line operation that got wildly out of control.

After me and Doug, three sisters came along: Lori, Lisa and Shauna. Then Gerry.

While my sisters are very special to me -- probably, all of them, much closer to my heart, as females can be, because they're so much about the heart -- my brothers are also very special to me.

And this is about my brothers, two very special dudes.

And the context here is that while my three sisters live here with me in the city we were raised in, my two male siblings are not here. Doug's in Eastern Ontario. Gerry's in northwestern Ontario, about a two-hour drive away.

And us three brothers have only been in sporadic contact in the past 20-30 years or so as we've built our lives and our careers and our families and seen a lot of changes geographically and every which way in all those ways.

Jobs have been abandoned and others have replaced them; dreams have been lost, to be similarly replaced by others; marriages have been lost, with great pain one of the results; but lives have been rebuilt.

Even through all of this, and almost as a sidelight in a way, have re-emerged our brotherly beginnings, our childhood jokes and criticisms and debates, parts of our weird relationships, while all this has gone on.

And this is an amazing thing.

And I need to begin with my brother Doug, whose most memorable words to me ever were: "There is love in silence."

Doug is a very intense and alive soul.

He cares about things most people don't care about. He's a stickler for detail, in some ways, and if he doesn't understand you, he asks -- no, demands -- to know what it is you're talking about.

Doug is far more quiet and cerebral than I am, I think.

The guy is/was brilliant. He's younger than me but in Navy League Sea Cadets, he made the Chief Petty Officer's rank while I was just an "Acting Petty Officer."

So that meant he was my frickin' boss as we were on the poop-deck, the little moron. Actually, he's the farthest thing from a moron. He's super intelligent, both emotionally and intellectually.

I could not/can not match him.

But I sure gave him a tough time when I would try. I remember us both as little boys with blonde, curly hair. He had big wire-rimmed glasses early on, while I didn't get have to get glasses til I was 14 or so.

I was always getting into trouble, going up on the apartment roof-top with the other neighbourhood troublemaker, for instance, to throw little pebbles at the kids below.

Doug was more on the straight and narrow, as I recall.

It's strange how, as a younger brother, he used to hang out with me and my friends. Later on, as teens, I ended up hanging out more with his group of friends than my own.

And he accepted me into that group.

I have always admired Doug for his sensibilities and his no-BS approach to things, even though he could and can be a pain in the ass sometimes. Because he's very intellectual and that's where he argues from.

I usually argue from an emotional point of view. He usually wins those arguments, the cad.

While I was the high school sports guy, he was the president or vice-president of the student council.

Enough said. But I think we have both taught stuff to each other.

And when he was going through his split with his ex, we had very intense exchanges of support or advice, which I'll always remember.

The thing is that now, he has evolved enough to find someone new, and he's found a great job where he can finally use his brilliant talents.

But his unwavering support for his kids and his absolute insistence on being a great dad has always been there.

And perhaps more than anything else, that's what makes Doug a guy anyone should dig.

I admire him greatly. He is an incredible man. I am proud of him and I am proud to say I take lessons from him on how to be a better person.


On to Gerry...

Gerry is the biggest, physically, of us all. But he's the youngest of us all. So for most of us, he was just the young punk kid growing up at 196 Kitson Street. An afterthought, in a way; a late throw-in to the fray.

A last son or brother. Or should that be bother? He has always had attitude.

The thing about Gerry is, he's pretty intense but laid back at the same time. And he looks quite a bit like me, the lucky guy, but in a taller package.

All I can tell you is he's a kibitzer, somewhat like me. And this is no surprise, seeing as he and I hung around quite a bit together when I was a teenager and he was a punk.

And I mean punk only in the most fond of ways.

See, Gerry was a pretty good athlete. He became a very good hocky goaltender, and we spent a lot of time in our basement with me shooting rubber pucks at him and playing hockey.

Those are some of my most happy memories.

My dad was a goalie and so he loved that Gerry was too, and that was one of the things that tied them together, but in another way, it tied Gerry and I together too.

Still, at some point, I moved on to other things. And I kind of evolved away from him as I got involved with women and stuff.

And he and I, at least in some way, partially lost that childhood connection that had seen him come with me searching the backlanes for bugs and stuff or playing spongee on the front street.

Except that when I was about 22 or so and he was about 12, and I was on a trip to India, I received a little letter from him.

It was type-written and not paragraphed, just a bunch of lines thrown all together.

And kind of stuck there in the middle of a glob of sentences on how hockey was going or whatever, out of nowhere, hidden in the thicket of this's and that's, was a line something like this: "I miss you a hell of a lot."

I have always remembered those few words.

But here we are now, all grown up. And he's got an important job running a very important tourist region in northwestern Ontario.

And we see each other from time to time when he comes into the city.

And, as with Doug, we still have some important connection that, now through email, has been reconnected and enhanced. And it's most certainly cool.