Thursday, May 11, 2017

So there was a form from school...

So there was this form that the school sent home to give parents input about some grade destructing that is set to happen next year.

The form asked a few questions to which I was to agree to or not.  I didn't feel represented by any of the options i was given, and so briefly i kind of lost my mind and decided to go, as they say... "rogue".

I don't necessarily agree that one method of learning is inherently better than another across the board and it irritates me that we get boxed into positions, drawing lines in the sand over these issues.

So i put some stuff that came out of me at the time, in ink,  all over the lone form we have for the twins that is due tomorrow.

Good news for me, is that we have my wife who is a more sane and expert communicator than myself... "more" would be an understatement for sure come to think of it.

Bad news for me, is we only have one form.  For a very brief time I thought my points were valid and I strutted into the room and announced "do you think this is insane?"... and then read what I just wrote, seeing for the first time that it is awfully clunky, terribly misguided, grossly ineffective and rather blindly arrogant.  I kind of had my head down to read over the parts i had scratched out... when i looked up, there was a mixture of confusion and horror on  my wife's face. 

Obviously we can't hand that form in... i might keep it just to remind myself not to do those things... maybe i should just write a song and avoid answering school forms on behalf of our family.

Yes lets do that.

Monday, April 03, 2017


      When you were born you cried and the world rejoiced, live you life so that when you die the world cries and you rejoice
- Native American Proverb

Marion Yvonne Robertson's life found the sweet spot of that sentiment.

I remember one time not too long ago before one of our neighbourhood parties when my daughter told me the kids in the neighbourhood were getting excited because I might be making one of my "famous" cakes.  They were of course my Mom's "famous" cakes from her recipe box that she collected from her life that I took from the house when she could no longer use them anymore.  A little box of of ideas that when implemented brought joy and nourishment. Now it's my kids that eye the batter, lick the spoons, smell the baking, and of course sample the wares, like I did when I was young.

Our family was an "old fashioned family" where Father went to work and Mother stayed home and ran the house and raised the kids.  Make no mistake, she was the glue that held the ship together, we would have made like the Titanic without her herculean efforts on the rudder.  She loved it and thought it was a great deal (her words) and wouldn't change a thing if she had to do it again.  That concept is evaporating these days, this was her job and she was going to damn well do it to the best of her ability and i don't think i ever heard her complain about it... that would show weakness, which  was not allowed.

The chance to be around children was the greatest thing for her.  She told me this many times when we would talk over the years... oddly I became a stay home parent as well and we talked about these things at length.  She was really good about it, being a very private person herself she never told me what to do, she would never impose, but often said I was doing everything right... well I did learn from the master.

Family was everything to Mom, that's why way back around 1960 when she inherited some money
from her Grandfather she went out and bought a cottage up on Georgian bay.  "I thought it would be a great place for all of us to get together", was her logic... and it was. It was never an investment or a place for her to get away, it was a place for everybody, and my uncles and father built it out with some comical disputes over various carpentry skills... cause that's what men do and Mom was just glad everybody was there doing it.  I have heard many stories about how Mom would go take my cousin Irene (who was an only child) up to the cottage for some nice get-a-ways and I know it meant the world to the both of them.  After spending the summer at the cottage I remember going back to school and all of the kids were a bit tighter with each other than my sister Anne and I were to our friends who had played together.  I'm sure it was my mothers way of making sure she got to spend her time with her family.

While at the cottage we had some epic family card games at night... 4 wildly competitive card sharks all with their own cunning poker faces. Mom was no slouch in a card game...  just a quiet person in the background while other feigned fear or confidence to gain advantage... all of the sudden she is up in points acting surprised like this was news to her. "Oh I just had a few lucky hands don't worry about that" as the family of wolves turned on their new sacrificial lamb... I recall her onetime saying to me "you wouldn't do that to your own mother" during a particularly vicious game of "Bugger your neighbour" a game we called "Grandpa's game" because our Grandfather taught it to us.  Believe me we were savage, but I know she was happy we were all there together doing it.

Later at night when my Sister and I were suppose to be asleep, but maybe we weren't we could hear my Mom and Dad playing scrabble.  Dad would come up with some obscure "science term" that maybe was or wasn't actually a word and hilarity would ensue... dictionaries would come out and sometimes be overruled in the name of science, and then Mom would ask Dad to use the word in a sentence, and he would and then laughter might come from the rooms where people were suppose to be sleeping... it was the whole package, never a dull moment.

Sometimes a bat got in that cottage... it would get in the vent of the stove oil furnace (you could hear it) and it would make it into the furnace, and we would open the door to let it out because of course bat's are good for the ecosystem.  Now one time My uncle Wilf and Aunt Dorothy were up at the cottage and my Dad and Uncle Wilf had gone out fishing and a bat got in the cottage it was flying laps around the cottage and my Aunt Dorothy was under the kitchen table screaming and waving a broom over her head.   It was utter chaos... I remember being so excited I did a flip on the couch. Eventually I grabbed a sheet to hold up to help get the bat out the door.  Bat's use sonar to avoid objects so you can help direct them to a certain spot, you could also club them with a tennis racket but that was not the way we rolled.  I remember after the bat got out the door Mom was red in the face and smiling one of the greatest smiles and said "that was great"... my Aunt was laughing then, and so was my sister Anne.  You need a place, and you need people to be there to have memories like these.

Mom was an elementary school teacher before the kids came and she gave that up to be there for her family.  I know she loved it because she loved teaching and she loved kids, but her kids came first always. Back then school lunch was an hour long and I went home to have hot soup and a sandwich while watching the Flinstones with Mom at the kitchen table.  That was my memory but years later talking to Mom about this she said she would put a sandwich in my hand as I would pace around the kitchen.  I might have been a hyperactive child... one that may have to be medicated in today's society but I remember her saying "well this kid needed to move around and as long as he was eating I was OK with it".  It's fair to say that I wasn't the easiest kid in the world with my penchant for violence and destruction... in fact in my kindergarten report card which I have, and I quote "Mark is getting better at relating to classmates but still is quick to use his fists to settle disputes".  She let me pace around the house while eating thinking it might get some of the jitters out of my bones... now that is leadership!

One of my Mom's greatest laughs was when I got one of those electronic board sets.. I can't remember what it was called but you could make a lie detector test so I made it and tested my Mom... I set her up in the apparatus narrowed my eyes (my Father was in the room) and asked her if she had "ever had an affair".  She was on her back with her legs up in the air in a full fit of absolute laughter within seconds... now I think the way it works is that if you sweat the moisture will connect the current and beep, thus detecting a lie... which actually happened after  insane laughter (which might begat sweat)... I noted this and scored a note in my science notepad that came with the toy... this of course caused more insane laughter.  For me the question came out of the blue, I wasn't thinking that far ahead... Mom wasn't an "affair" kind of person, she was very happy with the family she had. She loved her husband, her daughter and her son.

When I was in High School and my Sister was off at University,  Mom went back to work doing taxes at H&R Block.  She was a good numbers person, which is good to have in the person running the household budget.  I remember one night when I was woken up by my parents laughing out of control. I said "what is going on".  Now H&R Block was running a commercial at the time where a scruffy guy walks in to the place and gets an instant tax refund and goes and buys a VCR... which was state of the art technology at the time. So apparently some guy walked into the office without any of his documents and accosted my mother wanting his cheque because he wanted to get a VCR like the guy in the commercial.  This of course was hilarious to my parents who were rule orientated and massively fiscally responsible, Dad was gasping and tearing, Mom was guffawing and me being always up for a contagious laugh got into the action.

Me: 17, Junior Ranger...  My Dad was a Junior Ranger, which we heard about often, so I should be... it was awesome.  Unfortunately our society can't afford those kind of programs anymore... apparently. But my experience there showed me another thing about my parents... come parent visitor day (in Cochrane Ontario) my parents were the only ones who showed up out of everybody there.  I always remember that and it has guided me as a parent... always show up for your kids, it makes a difference.

My parents always came to visit when I was in university, and when I moved out west they always came out to visit.  They came to crazy parties in Vancouver, rock shows in dive bars in the seediest parts of town, engaging with hippie friends of mine and always stood tall as real people that wanted to be there with their son... they were out of their comfort zone but yet in it because it was in the comfort zone of their son.

One time my parents came out to Vancouver and I had just bought an 1969 Volvo so we could take a trip down to Mount St. Helens in  Washington U.S.A.  Now this car, being an older car, had kind of a gas smell... my Father was not gas fume friendly and as you may remember he could really harp on subjects like these.  Now Dad of course always needs to sit in the front seat, and Mom does whatever is best for other family members so Mom was behind him, A few hours into the journey Dad's gas fume paranoia was getting a bit old and we had to gas up. As I gassed up I dabbed a tissue cloth with some gas and gave it to mom and she held it by Dad's head as we drove on.... now Dad of course flipped into a massive paranoia about this new more powerful gas odour while Mom held this gas soaked tissue by his head with a mischievous grin. The next stop she got rid of the evidence and in no short order explained to me that this was over, we had our fun and got away with it, and there was no way Dad could ever find out about it as he would be hurt if he ever found out.  Her ability to find the line and ride it was extraordinary.

I remember Mom thinking she would never have grandchildren, and then within about 7 years  she had six of them, I know it meant the world to her.  Nothing brought her more happiness that being with her Grandchildren.  One time she had taken her oldest Grandchild Lauren up to the cottage and when they were coming back it rained so hard they had to pull over by the side of the road and wait it out... she thought that was great, a perfect opportunity to have a moment with a child she loved.

She was a great cook, and there was never a time dinner wasn't ready at the exact time it should be.  Make no mistake there was an exact time, Dad had probably read in some scientific report titled "Circadian rhythm monthly" that the best time to eat was 6:00 pm sharp.  Now the number of rules we had to eat by was astounding... no salt, no fat, many multi-coloured vegetables, any recently included foods reported in the "health digest" portion of the news needed to be added aggressively.  For perspective I make food for my family every night and they are happy, Mom made food and was psychoanalyzed.

Unfortunately as time went on health didn't go as planned and what my Parents thought might happen didn't happen.  Through it all Mom sacrificed herself to serve her family as always... that's the way she wanted it and there was no telling her otherwise, she was a purpose person and that's what drove the wheels of her life, if she couldn't help her family there was no purpose, she burned out trying to do the impossible.  I remember being a kid she told me she wasn't afraid of dying, I thought that was insane because I was afraid of being eaten by a shark in swim lessons in a pool... she said "that was nuts, no shark are in the pool",  I asked when the last shark check was... she didn't have an answer,  I did receive a loving whap on the arm however.

In the end it's all just memories, thanks for the memories Mom, thanks for the love,  the guidance, the lessons in financial responsibility, the tolerance, the trust and the steady example of why it pays to be a good person.

I'll do my best to carry the torch for the next generation, I know that's what you wanted.

Rest in peace

A memorial service in celebration of Marion's life will be held on April 9, 2017 at 2pm at Mount Pleasant Cemetery and Funeral Center, 375 Mount Pleasant Road, Toronto.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Bob Dylan Wins Nobel Prize for Literature....

Dave Bidini wrote an article in the Globe and Mail and took some hits for it... Dave is always good for generating comments, but then comments may have dubious merits.  The point is I don't think anybody with a head on their shoulders would deny that Bob Dylan's lyrics are of the highest quality imaginable and that his body of work is nearly unmatched  ( does Joni Mitchell win the next Nobel Prize for Literature?).

I have an idea... I know crazy old Robertson with his crazy ideas?  Can we have a Nobel Prize for meaningful, inspiring and relevant song lyrics?  God knows we could use it given some of the insipid words cobbled together and slapped on a loop and called a song these days.  Imagine giving a shit about song lyrics?  A friend of mine was in a song/band contest in Vancouver and there was a hundred thousand dollar prize, and you had to go to a boot camp and prove your worth and learn how it is done.  I was quizzing him on things and was shocked to find out that according to this industry funded opportunity the idea of having good lyrics accounted for only about 5% of the focus for success.  So literature has no place in modern music, according to the leading industry folks.

This is insane to anybody who has ever been truly affected by "Words and Music", which happens to be the motto of SOCAN the society of composers and authors... just savior the irony.

So yes we could perhaps use some inspiration on the lyric commitment, and if you want to aim for the sky then Bob Dylan is one of the highest marks without question.

But as to the point that I believe Mr. Bidini was making was that writing a masterpiece book is a different animal than writing song lyrics.  Me, i have released a dozen albums worth of song lyrics and have plenty unreleased, and some I have laboured over and some came to me in moments of inspiration, but i have yet to write a book, but yet it is on my list, but i haven't mustered the courage to take it on.  Why take a carrot away from one of the hardest things to do for people that basically get very little reward for such massive effort.

I wrote a eulogy for my father when he died, and it went over pretty well, and a family member who knew I was a stay home dad mentioned to me a perfect career I could have... become a writer.  It was nice to hear that somebody thought I could do something, but I dismissed the idea with the logic that I would still have to sell some product to people.  Given  my massive failure selling words and music and the effort/ reward ratio was not conducive to me living a happy life and being a decent available father to my children and family.  I'm in a good spot, our family is surviving nicely on the fact that my wife has a good career and our family has balance and a level of prosperity.  Can i write a book?  That remains to be seen, but the overwhelming chance that if I do it will be in obscurity is not lost on me.  For the record I don't believe I would win a Nobel Prize if I did write a book, so this is not a "sour grapes" situation as some have suggested that Mr. Bidini's angle was.

Why not have a new category?  "Nobel Prize for lifetime song lyric output" and then let the people who slaved over books to still have a shot at the "Nobel prize for Literature".  Let's face it, another award ain't going to throw a rake on the spokes of humanity... we fucking love awards, and an award category for song lyrics might help raise the bar a bit as far as that is concerned.  Give the book people a chance to shine, or at least a hope, or a mirage perhaps and this whole thing can be done with.

I can almost imagine the people deciding on this thinking they are so great thinking outside the box giving this award to one of the greatest songwriters ever. Neat idea given to a worthy candidate, but at some point they lost focus on what they were actually doing... there is a Nobel prize in Chemistry and a Nobel Prize in Physics, also one in Physiology and Medicine.  These are all in the science field... there is not just one for science because they are all different, all meaningful and all important.

Books are important and so are songs, but they are different... Bob Dylan deserves a Nobel Prize for his lifetime body of work that has inspired the world to be better and more fair.  So do many authors fighting in the tunnel where the light at the end just got dimmer.

Saturday, May 07, 2016

SOCIAL MEDIA TO STINGING - random ideas of no particular importance

Social Media is becoming a weird dog... do people actually think they are accomplishing anything?  Mind you a few are... i can think of one offhand.  Now that is an incredibly negative thought that i just had... one that is surly to gall others should i decide to share it, and of course that said i didn't count myself as the one who is accomplishing anything. To be honest, i am very pleased with my insignificance... it's good stuff.  Why comment then?  Why fucking not, if it's just for kicks, complaints, and something else that might start with a "k" sound, if i wasn't too lazy to finish the sentence with some alliteration.  Why get it right?

You start getting boxed in after a while... i believe that to be the general mathematics of the relationship of the being and the medium as they evolve over time in a synergistic relationship.

That was a pretty good sentence until the word "synergistic" popped up... that is a punch in the head for the author.  OK i gave myself a stinger over the right eye... it's all good now. 

Now don't get me wrong... the relationship between a person and social media is indeed a synergistic relationship.  When a person posts something on social media, social media responds, and that response will factor in the decision making process in the next thing that person posts, and social media will respond in a different way.  And that person's unique world... i use the term "unique" verry verry fucking loosely, so fucking loosely in fact that i added an extra "r" too both very's.  Are you allowed to apostrophe s  the word very if you refer to it as a noun?   So confusing... but don't worry proper language use has gone the way of the Dodo. I'll tell you one thing you don't want to do... kill slugs at night with a headlamp outside a beehive.  The headlamp will stimulate the bees, an organism that is not keen on being stimulated late at night when it's "hunker down in the hive" time.  Now there is a saying in hockey "sometimes you have to take a hit to make a play".

Speaking of strange events involving bee's... I was at the beekeeping supply store the other day and the person at the cash could barely write because of a hand was all swollen  to the size of a guinea pig...  got stung by a bee.  Actually when pressed about it one sting happened about 3 days ago and the other was just yesterday.  Now me,  I'm thinking that perhaps a career around bee's is not in the cards for this person... from the talk, it doesn't seem to have crossed the mind.  With allergies, sometimes the reaction can get worse and worse over time, so you might not want to push getting stung.  I wear gloves when i go into my hive... apparently this person doesn't because they consider themself an experienced beekeeper... so i hear.  I was wondering if a prayer might help, but no for the record the person does not believe in prayer... there seemed to belief in Karma, fate and Omens, although for sure there was a bit of a problem with common sense and logic.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

My first swarm capture

It was a busy day and i was just going to relax tonight... and make some plans for tomorrow.

My bee's died this winter... it was unfortunate, but these things happen, and i actually am set to get some more on Wednesday... it's Monday night right now.  So I have a friend who has a drip line irrigation system for me and i phoned her up to see if i could get that before i install my bees on Wednesday.  She is telling me i can come and get it tomorrow, and then as a final note, rather casually mentions that in the giant Oak tree across the street there is a massive swarm of bees.

"The bee's are there right now" i say calmly even though my nervous system just kicked into hyper-drive... "oh yes she says".  I'll be there in a few minutes.  On the way down to get my beekeeping stuff i call my bee buddy Christof and we have the shortest conversation we have ever had..

-Want to come and get a swarm

All i had to grab them was a brew bucket and a heart full of hope... time is of the essence, nightfall is coming, for all i know another beekeeper is on the way to claim this bundle of gold.  Christof is a more experienced beekeeper than myself and is slightly more prepared grabbing a large box and a light and some duct tape... i knew my friends who lived by the swarm would have some things, like a ladder and some tools that i could figure something out.

The swarm was actually 3 clusters hanging about 20 feet up in the middle of an intersection, not a busy one luckily, and my friends had an orchard ladder and a long pole tree pruner.

As we were getting ready the zipper on Christof's veil broke and we lost the last bit of daylight getting that fixed... for a moment i almost said "don't worry about it", which i thought might be kind of funny given it was getting dark and bee's tend to be a little more testy at night.   It was a good thing we got it fixed for sure.  The first cluster came down into the box really easy.  It was on a little branch and the twig was cut easily with the pruning tool. 
As it was getting dark it was harder to see the branch that the bigger cluster was on so he pulled the branch towards me and i got an hand on it so we could try to maneuver it better... it was shortly after that that the branch snapped and the bee's rained down, mostly into the box and on to my head... not the way we had it written up for sure... it was on the street so we could sweep a lot of the clusters up into a dustpan and get them into the box.  Now the bees were very docile which was nice and they did head towards the box and some of the bees lined the perimeter of the box to fan pheromones outward... these are good signs that the queen was in the box, which is a very important piece of the puzzle... time will tell.
There was a lot of bee's, i would probably say about 15,000 and the weather report calls for rain tomorrow, so I'm happy the bee's are safe in a good hive right now.  Two guys driving home in a van in bee suits and a box of gold in the back.

A swarm in May is worth a load of hay; a swarm in June is worth a silver spoon; but a swarm in July is not worth a fly
   -Beekeeping proverb

So a monster swarm in early April is the big time Jackpot!  We put them in my hive and gave them some of the frames of honey that i had from my last hive to make their new home seem nice and beehive like.

Now about those bee's i have to go and get on Wednesday... I guess I'll be building some boxes.

You can never have too many hives right?


Thursday, January 28, 2016

Enlightenment is good, better when it comes before injury

We need to widen our dinner options declared a family one weekend, and the youngest one said "we can only eat what we know how to make"... and then the father true to his "maniac" way of doing things set off on some righteous sermon about how there is nothing we can not learn to do and do well... there was a paragraph titled "limitless potential"... scratch that as paragraphs aren't usually titled... bullet points might be... but now our story is getting irritating.

So the father declares "name anything and we will make it".

Sushi- We can do this... make some avocado rolls, some cucumber rolls, some deep fried shrimp rolls...

Within a small broken sentence our hero has now, even though he has yet to realize it, planted a seed in that little place in his brain that will cause the deep fry operation to overtake the sushi operation.  Now as a natural maniac, and an older one... one who's brain is more accustomed to naturally justify this coming imbalance the Father triples the sushi rice recipe.  Now lets change "the father" to "me", so i can be less confused and get on with things.

One of the justifications i used to myself at the time was "with more rice we can make mistakes and not go hungry", which is odd seeing that I had already committed to pot stickers and steamed buns as a backup.  Now i did get the steamed buns and pot stickers frozen in the Asian market when i went to fetch pickled ginger and what turned out to be fire hot wasabi. I was just going to batter and fry some shrimp, yams and asparagus, but then i got fixated on onion rings, and everything else that could possibly be deep fried

So we have about 36 avocado rolls, 24 cucumber rolls, 12 dynamite rolls, 18 tempura asparagus rolls, 30 pot stickers, 8 steamed buns, a plate of red pepper tempura, and I'm trying frantically to push out a batch of onion rings so we don't starve to death.  I ate my portion 15 minutes before going to yoga.

Now in Yoga often times your body wakes up and becomes aware and begins processing things... you breathe into spaces to open things up and push away discomfort.  In retrospect it seems foolish to gorge back a deep fried feast and then go to yoga, but in life sometimes you are focused so heavily on another job, or you fall into a deep fry frenzy and all bets are off.

My neighbour's have a deep fryer, they want me to use their deep fryer... they are community foodies who believe a deep fryer is a good thing to have, and by me using it i am helping justify the roll... we understand this and are happy, mostly, that we do understand this..  I was thinking about the deep fryer (obviously), and it is that oil commitment that is the "economic saver mentality syndrome"... If i am going to spend a pot of oil, then spend a pot of oil.   It's all decoys... there is always a reason to go insane, life is about finding the reason.  As we speak my heart is kind of feeling a little congested, perhaps i can fix this with a few wind sprints up and down the street.

Post wind sprints - Ankle hurts, seeing mild stars, new sweat areas, fresh odours... most likely the second biggest mistake of the night... pulled hip muscle is kind of coming on strong now.  What was that saying... "if you find yourself in a hole stop digging".  Enlightenment is good,  better when it comes before injury... not a bad quote to salvage from today's self induced carnage.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Defeat

The moment he was defeated was the greatest... a wonderful defeat- a hubris induced nemesis  outcome... irreversible legacy damage.  To a megalomaniac it would be the worst possible outcome... all the people jumping ship before the election... but you could only see you.  I actually wouldn't put it past you that the "all the blame for this lies with me and me alone" line you uttered was a support line should you ever throw your hat back in the ring.  You can hear the newsman say... "well by taking responsibility he has proved that he has changed"... right. I honestly don't doubt that this is a possibility... you will have to repair that legacy right?

Oddly enough you might have done the best possible thing for for the Country... put your party out of power against a majority government. 

Could have stepped away and the words "you have been an unbelievable Leader" as uttered by one of the great sellouts of all time.  Heck your Party might have even won again without you, the albatross, around it's neck.  Certainly a delicious irony for somebody who has suffered as a result of the cruel  and thoughtless policies that you imposed.

It's true the defeat was absolutely  because of you... everybody can now get out their dissection knives and carve up the Goat to show how it was you and only you that was wrong with this incompetent government.  Heck, the great foreign owned Newspapers might even run this stuff in an effort to purge the brand.  Isn't there some court case going on where you might face charges?  Who will lie for you now? If you were charged it could take the heat off others? It's just politics... nothing personal... every once in a while somebody has to get eaten by a shark, just to show how the game is not rigged

You can see why this gets better and better... Never poison the food chain for people that have things on you... most smart people know that, and I'm sure you did once too...  it's good to relearn life lessons... it's like enlightenment: it goes when you know you have it.

Aloha sucker