Saturday, December 19, 2009

A lack of information...

As I was logging on to Blogger just now I was stumped for a post title.

After log-in, I noticed I've posted 411 times since opening the Armchair in 2005. I thought to myself,

"Hmm... 411... that's like the number you dial for information."

Certainly there hasn't been a lot of that here in recent months. In fact, it's been over a month since I last checked in. I've felt sluggish about blogging, and have really been out of my normal operating mode: no pottery, no yoga, no English classes.

I have been busy though. Work's been monopolizing my time - catching up on housekeeping matters and keeping my eye on the horizon has been a full-time-and-then-some job. In some ways I feel like I've slipped from "ship's captain" back down to "grunt of the sea", but perhaps it's a captain's duty to do what needs to be done for the benefit of the whole. I'm looking forward to climbing myself back up on to the look-out tower in January if only to get a big-picture view of not only the work world, but my life (and lifestyle) as a whole.

As I approach 40, (about six weeks away) I'm finding myself a wee bit confused. The calendar says I'm almost 4-0, but in my mind I feel much younger. The other day I had a wee panic about it. I thought about all the stuff I haven't done yet, where I thought I might be by now, and really - what my true-to-life position really is.

For the last number of years I've madly been defending myself against what typically happens to self-employed folks - becoming married to my job. It happened in my 20s and early 30s, and those on the outside would probably say I've done a pretty good job of finding good wholesome activity to provide a counter to the insanity that can and does easily take over.

Today marks 23 years (1986) since we did our first event for actual dollars. The next year will see some significant changes in how we go about making those dollars, not to mention what will get done with those dollars. The challenge will be to somehow "box up" the work so I don't slide into the abyss. I love my work, really. Trouble is I love a lot of other things too, and I want to fit it all in.

The next post will touch on a couple gifts I picked up for the business - both of which should help keep a lid on boss's hourly involvement,

On the list for January: Pump up the biz, Back to pottery (remember pottery??) and a wee bit of travel... oh, and more blogging!

Stay tuned...

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Small Victories

Ever slogged away at something only to feel fruitless in your endeavours?

That's kinda how I've felt over the last couple months. Each step forward seemed to be met with two or three back - or even more confusing, sideways. Every so often though, I'd experience some kind of victory, however small, perhaps just enough to encourage me to keep going.

Today I had one of those days - a Small Victories day. All the phone calls I made or took seemed to yield good fortune and forward motion. Email traffic was similar in nature, and what breaks I took were enough to refocus and return to moving forward.

I've spent the day working away at the University - away from my home office. I think it's a good move to work here since the space I work in ISN'T my home. In fact, working in a computer lab with upwards of 60 other people at any given time puts me in 'work' mode, but also around people. I need that; it puts a whole new spin on my day. Also, since I'm not in a position to take a class this term, it keeps me motivated and excited to get back to class in January... maybe.

Not everything has been Rosy, but with today's positive vibe, the mix is easier to take. I'm on my way home to find out what went crazy-wrong on Friday to effectively take out three speaker cabinets at an event.

It smells expensive.

Dance as you go!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Since you asked...

It's been one of those days -- you know the times when one thing after another seems to complicate your progress?

I'm finding a great deal of inspiration in music. It seems I'm not the only one who's "been there". As a small business guy, I'm convinced this song was written for me.

I know you think if you take that leap
You'll be in too deep, at the mercy of the current.
Winds are high, the cliff is steep.
The sharp drop-off acts like a deterrent.

Walk out into the great unknown.
You'll never finish if you don't get started.
How about you take that one small step
Into the world that's still uncharted.

I know you feel if you sing your tune
You'll be doomed to being a one-hit wonder.
Burn too brightly, peak too soon;
Gotta get out from the cloud you're under.

Some folks are gonna do you wrong
Because you do the things they wanted to but couldn't.
They'll try to cast doubt, that's their siren song.
You'll be tempted to listen, but really you shouldn't.

Every now and then just let it ride;
You'll be a winner if you just survive.
You can't miss what you never had;
You never had a chance this good,
And that's too bad.

You're gonna think you've got it all worked out,
But something takes you down,
Makes you holler "uncle!"
Even though you're on a mission to civilize,
You'd better have a cushion
If you're pushin' back the jungle.

I know, you're tired of breaking trail.
Every small detail is hampering your vision.
Fog descends like a twilight veil.
If you push on,
you'll get what you were wishing for!

Somewhere you've got a small reserve:
Tricks up your sleeve,
Chips you haven't cashed in.
If you want to get the things you deserve,
Throw caution to the wind: stick with passion.

I know you're scared to make the leap,
You're in too deep.
I know you feel if you sing your tune
You'll be doomed.
I know you're tired of breaking trail;
Every small detail...

-James Keelaghan, 2008

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Missing the mix

I decided to spend the day working at the University today. There are no classes, and most everything is closed down, but the computer lab in Social Sciences is open, and makes a great place to work when it's quiet.

I've been in a bit of a rut as of late - routine, actually, and I realized yesterday what it is that's bugging me. Over the last number of years I've been quite diligent to inject a variety of interests into my life... probably triggered by my short attention span? Dunno. Recently, I haven't been partaking in a lot of that variety which is the spice of my life. I've been spending a great deal of time keeping the very basics of life going - head-above-water, as it were. I'm in this routine of what seems to be "work, work, work" with very little variety injected into the mix.

I met with my advisor in the English department a couple weeks ago to map out some course possibilities, and discovered that at this rate I'll get my degree in 20 years, not the 8-10 that I had anticipated. Sucky. I thought to myself, "well, maybe I could set life up so that I could take time off from the regular work thing to hit school full time for a spell to catch up". What would that take? More people, more time in and more money. I'm working on that - part of my "routine" as of late.

In the mean time, I'm NOT taking a course this term, and it'll be a stretch to get in for the Winter term, but I think it's requisite and necessary. I'm also not going to pottery. *sigh* I miss pottery... terribly. I have, however, taken up the guitar at my leisure, at home, simply picking out some favourite tunes by ear - learning from chord charts and just messing around between appointments, after dark, just whenever I can.

Sitting here at the U today makes me miss school that much more too, but what I really need is a plan - which is in the works, and contrary to my nature, I must learn the art of patience.

SIDEBAR - This last Monday was Monday Night Scotch with my aunt and Dwayne. My Mom joined us this time and we took in Dwayne's video footage from his trip to France and Spain back in August/September. We toured Paris, mostly, which delighted Mom to no end. I think she quite enjoyed her wee dram of scotch, too - not to mention a good visit with her cousin. It was quite an adventure getting Mom out of the Bethany since one of the elevators was out of service - the only one that went to the rooftop parking lot where I'd parked out of habit. The Main doors were occupied with ambulance transfers, handi-bus drop offs and the like, so we used the South entrance which meant a fair amount of running around for Turtle! On the trip down south (which coincided with rush hour) Mom and I listened to a James Keelaghan mix I'd made up... her comments? "He's easy to listen to..." Complimentary, but I'm not sure that she'll ever be the die hard fan that I've become. He's, I must confess, at the top of my list of "guitar gods". With his influence, I may even be motivated to play at the upcoming pub night in February. (Can't remember if I've blogged about past ones, but they're quite amateur-professional, and a lot of fun.)

I need a coffee - then back to the books... business books, that is - for now.+

Monday, November 02, 2009

House of Cards: James Keelaghan and David Woodhead perform with Grace

James Keelaghan's latest album, House of Cards, was released recently and being the fan that I am, I couldn't miss the show on Friday at Grace Presbyterian Church. It wasn't a packed house, but the floor was a good 3/4-sold-out.

Anyone who reads here knows that I've been a Kelo fan for years. My friend Henry from Rosseau introduced me to James' music back in the early 90s. Every time I go to a show I think of Henry (who passed away a couple years ago) and I thank him for broadening my music horizons away from mainstream contemporary pop and rock - the world in which I do much of my work.

Folk music is all about the stories, and as James pointed out on Friday, the stories continues to evolve. Years ago he wrote the song, "Kiri's Piano" - about the Japanese internment in Canada during the Second World War. A while back he was touring through the States and played a town where he knew the organizers of the folk club who sponsored his show. Sadly, I don't recall the details precisely so I hesitate to say with any degree of certainty exactly whose connection it was, but the uncle of one of the organizers was a soldier on one of the first boats sent out of Pearl Harbour. The ship was attacked, the uncle was killed, and when his personal effects were returned to the family, they included his guitar.

James was asked to play Kiri's Piano on the very same guitar, and later the guitar was gifted to him. He seemed really rather proud of the fact that he now owned a guitar that had been at Pearl Harbour - and what a wonderful offering of appreciation for his musical work!

I, for one, adore the song in all its painful realism.

"House of Cards" is the title track on the new album and it speaks quite frankly to the current global economic state. I encourage you to take a listen to the album. It's available on iTunes at .99 per song or $10.00 for the album.

Me with James at the CD signing following the show

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Birds of a feather...

...follow me around the yard.

Back in May I went out to a guest ranche east of the Cypress Hills, south of Maple Creek, Saskatchewan to do the music for a friend's wedding.

As soon as I got out of the van, I'd made a friend. The locals were going on about how I "...should be cafeful - it bites." All the while, anyone who approached - and I'm sorry, I'm not sure if this is a girl bird or a boy bird - my friend, would get snapped at, or walked away from.

I was followed.


It would appear that I was to pet said bird - else I'd get nuzzled to the point of agrevation! One of the fellows in the wedding party agreed to play photographer for this shot, and no one believed I could get that close.

It was bazzaar, yet kinda cool.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Good fortune, timing and a little luck

On Monday I took the C-Train downtown to an appointment with a potential client. I like to take the train in and out of downtown when I'm simply attending a meeting because it means I'm free of the hassle and cost of parking a vehicle.

At home I counted out some loose change, enough for the $2.50 fare. I plugged the machine with my nickles, dimes, quarters and dollar coin - in no particular sequence. Two of the nickles fell though... consistently - they wouldn't take.

I changed machines.

Same thing.

I changed machines AGIAN.

AGAIN, the same two nickles fell through.

Frustrated, knowing this was my only change on hand, I was in a bit of a fit. Now you may be wondering why I simply didn't get on the train and take my trip - who would know, right? What are the chances of actually getting caught?

Well... back in April, I DID get caught. One in a million. It couldn't have happened on a better day, either. On that day back in April, I had just received news that my van would need a $3500.00 transmission, and I was making my way from the Foothills Hospital to a chiropractic appointment at Dalhousie Station - then at the end of the LRT line. I had boarded the train at University station after realizing my book of tickets was at home, and loose change? Nada. THEN, I figured,

"Two stops? What are the chances?"

Well, on that day, quite good, actually! (To the tune of $150.00, actually!)

So... on Monday I was ready to head home and reschedule with my client!

I had one more machine to try. I looked over at the device that stamps the ticket-book tickets. On it sat a stamped ticket.

"What are the chances it's still good?"

On this particular day, at this particular time - quite good, actually! Transit tickets in Calgary are valid for 90 minutes from the time of validation. This one had been stamped 15 minutes prior at a nearby station. I guess someone was looking out for me! It's actually quite common to see people offering up unused tickets on their way off the platform, but never have I seen a ticket simply sitting there - a gift to someone (like me, for instance) who might be in need.

I accepted the ticket from the Universe, said a little 'thank you' and proceeded on my way. I actually had enough time to do my business downtown and return before its expiration, too.

Indeeed, good fortune, timing and yes, luck.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009


I love that word.

In its adjective form, absorbed in thought or meditative. As a noun, a musing is a contemplation, or reflection.

I haven't felt like blogging for months now, but that's not to say that I haven't been keeping true to my form; I partake in contemplations and reflection regularly. Absorbed in thought? Me? Absolutely. In fact, I've literally been accused of overthinking. Can't argue, either. I do it. But that's not what's kept me from blogging. I tend to have lots to say here whilst the wheels turn.

Since the beginning of the year, it seems, I've been far busier "doing" than I used to. I feel, anyway, far more exhausted yet energized at the same time. In January we had record sales. Ten events in a month is hardly "record", except for the fact it was January and a normal January sees normally the odd leftover Christmas party. This had me scratching my head wondering why, while everyone was banterning on about a recession, we were doing so well.

I honestly remember very little about February through April. I didn't keep a blog record of any consequence. April brought with it the onset of a flood at my place which necessitated a full-on renovation of the basement suite. We did it in a month - the entire month of May - and I came out the other side with a tenant right away for June, and it's worked out rather well. I jokingly call her my "downstairs wife" because on the occasion that I forget to flip my laundry, it mysteriously gets dried, folded and stacked. I also get invited for suppers fairly regularly. In exchange I tend to offer up rides here and there because my "downstairs wife" doesn't drive. Now, before you go getting any wild and crazy ideas, "downstairs wife" starts and ends with laundry, meals and rides. But it also provides for a bit of a humerous story:

Back in July I went on a date.
It was the first real date I'd had since Nathalie moved back to Quebec, so I was anticipating it. We went for a bevy, then over to catch the fireworks. Now, think of the most stunning question you could ever be asked on a first date - the one that would make you choke on your food, or spit your drink across the table. Got it? OK, now I'm going to tell you what happened to me. Thankfully, at the time, we were not sitting at the table so I didn't spew all over my date. That's bad, and you usually don't get a second chance for a first impression.

The question was, as we stood outside my van,

"Why didn't you tell me you have kids?"

I literally replied,


(for those of you who may be reading for the first time, I don't have kids)

I was thinking to myself, 'So... is this a trick question?'

She replied,

"You have a car seat in your van. Why?"

I wish I had had something clever with which to respond. I didn't. So, I told her the truth:

"Oh, that! It belongs to my downstairs tenant." Notice I said "tenant", not "wife"... that would have been bad.

I explained that I occasionally give rides to a single mom, who has two kids, who also happens to live in my basement. My date nodded as if she understood, we had a bit of a laugh and carried on. A little while later - 'bout two weeks to be precise, I received a phone call from the same girl explaining to me that she really felt she wasn't ready to be dating again. I shared the story with my "downstairs tenant-wife-whatever" and she gave me a look like 'are you an idiot?'

"Dave, there ARE times when you don't ACTUALLY have to tell the truth! ...and... this is one of them!"

I think I actually shared a bigger laugh with her over that than with my date. So, note to self - remove other people's car seats from your vehicle before going on a date. It just makes things simpler.

How's that for "a musing"?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Getting going

Some days, I'm sure you'd agree, it's easier than others. The last couple weeks have seen me exhausted. I want to get up early and have a "day to myself" before jumping into the stuff of the everyday.

Last Sunday I slept. Man, did I sleep! It's not every day I wake up at 1:00 in the afternoon.

This week I planned to be up early over the weekend to take in a run and just time to be on my own. There aren't many people out and about at 6:00 AM on a Saturday. 'Cept my neighbours. As I ran past, my neighbour Barb was sitting on her front step with a coffee. Soon her husband Mark came out to join us. We chatted for some time - not sure for how long - but it was 7-something by the time I made the University. I grabbed a coffee from one of the independent places in the food court that keep off-hours to capture the early-morning and weekend crowd. I sat and enjoyed my iPod tunes while planning stuff out on the electronic notepad.

Did I mention I love my iPone??

I decided that being worn out wasn't getting me any further ahead, so my approach to yesterday was to do a few things, but put the clock to it to keep an eye on the time. I set the timer in fact. I'd made a list of probably a dozen things which were broken down into personal and business objectives for the day. This may not be new to you, but I discovered how much you can get done with a list... and some focus.

I've been puttering away at building up a yoga room out of one of the upstairs bedrooms. Last week I swapped my room over to the front bedroom - the bigger of the two which had years ago been my office. The new-to-be yoga room needs some TLC - a coat of paint and a good cleaning. I spent some time at that yesterday.

I also did a couple or three things - you know those little projects that should get done "some day"? Yah, you know the ones you walk past every day saying, "Geeze that bugs me - gotta fix that!" Felt great... and know what? I wasn't exhausted at the end of the day! And with so much more accomplished, I felt better inside too.

I've got some ugly business stuff to do tomorrow, so it's been nice to recharge and at the same time get some of my surroundings settled.

Today I got up early and went for a run to the U. and back... but not quite as early as yesterday. I've been doggin' it today, and have a list half as long as yesterday. For breakfast I enjoyed some leftover crock pot stew... meant I didn't have to "make breakfast". It was great to turn on some tunes, eat and now write in the blog.

Whatever you're doing today, I hope it's as peaceful and recharging as I intend my day to be.

Looking west-ish through the campus toward the prairie chicken sculpture under which we had numerous Poetry classes in '07... including a picnic.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Slow like Turtle, heart like Rabbit

So yesterday evening I was at Shopper's Drug Mart and simply on spec tried out the blood pressure cuff they have for public use at the pharmacy.

Was I surprised at the result? You bet.

187 / 94

For those of you who aren't in the know, 120 / 80 is normal. My "normal" is slightly lower, actually, at 110 / 70. You can see why I was surprised!

My resting heart rate is high, too - this afternoon it clocked in at 79 BPM, and although in music terms that's the tempo of a slow song, it certainly isn't anything plodding where my heart is concerned. Normal for me is in around 58 to 61.

What's up?

Dunno, but I called the Health Link folks and was told a few things of note:

--Because I'm showing no "symptoms", there isn't any reason to panic

--If my numbers reach the low 200s and/or are accompanied by blurred vision or back pain, I must seek medical attention within four hours

--Because 187 / 94 is well over 20 points higher than my "normal", I should go in to the clinic to be checked out... today or tomorrow.

I think I'll sleep on it. I was also told that you should take your BP on an empty stomach - which mine wasn't yesterday - so perhaps I'll return tomorrow to the pharmacy first.

Taken now after sitting to write this post, my pulse is down to 66.

Hmm... sleep on it, yes.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

River Run

This, the title of a James Keelaghan song, seemed suitable for today's post. James wrote the song in support of the Alberta Wilderness Association and to curse the Alberta and Canadian governments for the construction of the Old Man River dam.

I woke up early this morning, around 5:00. After several months of attempting to calm my own waters, and feeling a lack of physical vitality, I was inspired by the words,

"Now the river's not running as fast as it did,
there's a dam there restricting the flow;
and I don't run either as fast as I could,
guess that river and I have grown old."

inspired, yes, to go running this morning. I thought about where I had tucked my running shoes from about a year ago - having given up running because of the strain it caused on my right knee. I've since had a lift added to my orthodic to compensate for my leg length discrepancy, so felt comfortable taking it on this morning.

It's been beastly hot here as of late so to step out to a cool, freshly-rained-on yard was yet even more inspiration for the run.

Do you know that wet smell that brings out the fragrance of the Evergreens and the grass?

I was quickly reminded of why, a year ago, I started with a 30-second walk-run.

With River Run programmed on my iPod, I ran.
Then I walked.
James' words struck incredible metaphor for me as I ran and paralleled his account to events in my own life.

I've returned now, going to grab some change and walk over to the U. for a coffee - perhaps a bit of an indulgence after such an incredibly healthy start to the day, but it will allow me to smell the trees again.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Go West!

Indeed I did. Last Sunday I accepted a ride to the airport from my friend Jim. Up practically the whole night before, I sleepishly miscalculated the time and ended up at the airport TWO hours ahead of flight time, not one. Ah well, time for a Tims with Jim then to the terminal.

Calgary from the air facing south across the river.

From my travels on Westjet to Quebec I learned that if you order a beverage that they likely won't serve to anyone else, they give you the whole can. I love tonic, and get the whole thing every time!

Once on the ground in Comox, I *texted* (ouch, I can't believe that word is now acceptable in the English language!) my friend Mike who was to pick me up. Trouble was, he was flying from Calgary to Nanaimo via Air Canada to grab his truck to drive to Comox to meet me for Folk Fest. Thing is, he'd missed his connecting flight in Vancouver. He was going to be an additional two hours, then the hour and a half drive north.

The Comox airport is a lovely place, and I got to know it intimately. I also got to know the security personnel and the Westjet office staff. You see, I'd inadvertently left my binder sitting on a seat outside the main doors to the terminal. I had sauntered in to the snack shop and when I came out, realized I didn't have my book. I went from one end to the other trying to remember where it was. I finally clued in to the fact that security must have picked it up. Sure enough, they'd taken it to the Westjet office. I got a teasing little lecture not to leave things lying around the airport. After hearing my friend's story of being bumped in Vancouver - the reason for me hanging around Comox - the Westjet girl said, "I guess he'll be flying Westjet next time, eh?"

I spent the bulk of my time listening to my iPod and reading poetry. Both endeavours had me reading and listening about marginalized peoples; my mood inspired this photo:

Mike showed up around 4:30 and we headed to Campbell River to pick up a couple fishing rods for my friend Norm. Campbell River is beautiful and yielded these:

We came back down to catch the last of the Folk Fest but discovered the day price still applied at the gate - a whopping $95.00! Four bands left on the stage list, none of whom were James Keelaghan - after I had noted on the website that he was to play at 8:00 Friday, Saturday and Sunday!

More than rather disappointed, we headed back to Nanaimo and stopped in at the Piper's Pub for a bite to eat. Great food, a visit with a great friend... a fabulous start to a much-needed vacation! be continued

Friday, June 26, 2009

Looking back... marks one year since I met A/C in Carlton Place, Ontario on my cross-Canada tour to Quebec. (Despite what he says, the meal was fabulous!)

Tonight I remained local. I did the music for a party for L'Arche Calgary. At it I met two long-time friends Pat B. and Michael H., both from St. Andrew's. It was a really short party, but really quite fun.

I've booked my flights to B.C. in anticipation of Island Folk Fest in Comox on Vancouver Island. I'll stay with my friends Mike and Janie in Nanaimo, then on to Burnaby to visit with my long-time friend Sharon (we went to Elementary School together and her folks still live about a block from my place) I'm looking forward to the break as the events of the last number of weeks - nay, months - have taken their toll on my physical and emotional health. Most of it's really about lack of sleep since I really took on far too much all at once: University course, work, rebuilding the basement and bringing things around to normal after the fact. One of the bonuses of my trip West is seeing James Keelaghan again at Comox. I mentioned to him that I would be attending and he seemed genuinely excited that I was going to be there.

Right now I'm listening to a disc April gave me today. It's her equivalent to my love for Kelo's music, Jen Grant. I liken her to the influence of Jane Siberry amd Dido. It's rather pleasant to have on in the background.

The house and yard are definitely taking the shape of "home" these days. I've turned over something of a new leaf - out of sheer frustration, admittedly. I'm throwing everything out which is a dynamic switch from my S.O.P. of "I might need this sometime, keep it." The space feels far better than the stuff ever did.

Tomorrow I'm going to see my Mom.

She'll be 84.

We'll have a coffee and a chat.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The things we hear...

I don't know about you, but I tend to pick up on things other people say in public. Tuesday morning it was at the chiropractor's office. I was sitting in the waiting room with an older couple ahead of me. The gentleman exclaimed to Judy, the receptionist,

"Have they changed the elevators recently?"

Judy replied, "I don't think so, why?"

"I don't remember them door-open and door-close buttons bein' there."

I'm thinking to myself, "Um... OK..."

Judy said, "No, I think they've always been there."

The gentleman's wife said, "We're probably so used to just getting on and coming up that we don't pay attention to it."

And she's right - there's lots of stuff I'm oblivious to, but it made for interesting listening. What was even more interesting was the way in which the gentleman cared for his wife. She was in a wheelchair, and when the automated computer system called her name, he escorted her to the adjustment area and quite litterally picked her up out of the chair and set her on the adjustment table. He made sure she was comfortable, then excused himself to the waiting room.

"Nice.", I thought.

This experience was not only humerous, but touching. Thought I'd share.

Monday, June 22, 2009

MUSIC MONDAY "The things we never challenge are the things that never change!" - James Keelaghan - June 20, 2009

When I asked James Keelaghan for some "Kelo words of wisdom" and to sign a copy of his album "A Recent Future", he scribbled away on the liner note insert whilst I peeled the plastic off another of his discs to sign. It wasn't until I returned to the group that I read his words. It wasn't until I got home and listened to the track "Turn of the Wheel" that I realized he'd quoted his song lyrics.

My sister and I have a standing agreement: if either of us catch wind of a Keelaghan show, we are - without fail - to inform the other. Discovering this particular show was a bit of a fluke as it wasn't really advertised all that widely. I found out from my neighbour Jim who got it from a friend who was working the event. It was the 50th Anniversary of the Rosemont Community in Calgary. I live... um... one or maybe two communities over - not far. James grew up in Rosemont and spoke a couple times of tobogganing down the hill at the base of which he was singing.

I was introduced to James' music back in the early 90s when my friend Henry was living in Calgary. He was a bit of a folkie and raved on about Keelaghan's music. It took me going to Ontario to see James for the first time in '99 at "Ste. Marie Among the Hurons" a bird sanctuary, of all places. Henry had moved home and was ecstatic about the show, especially since I was out to visit at that time.

OK, pictures...

James was kind enough to pose for a shot prior to the show

I'm a sound guy so naturally I had to scope out the stage prior to the show.

I could use this shot to argue that I was the only one to show up for the show...

...but no, it was simply an intimate gathering at the hill. Reminded me of "Shakespeare in the Park", only this poet sets his work to music.

Here we are - my good friends Norm and Jacquie at front, my BIL Doug on the grass in the red shirt, and to his left my sister Laura. Behind them, April.

About half way through, James invited his brother Bob to join him on stage.

Come to think of it, I didn't ever post fully about my basement renos in May. Nevertheless, I have a new tenant as of June 1. April joined us for the show.

I have this new iPhone which I think is great, but when trading photo favours after the show, the guy who had a real camera had some difficulty making out the difference between the "home" button and the soft-touch shutter button on my phone. It was good for a laugh, and... he caught it!

I mentioned a couple posts back about the song, "Kiri's Piano" - which James played at the request of a couple who had apparently named their daughter after the song. The song holds some significant importance to me. In English 371 we studied some literature reflecting the Japanese internment in Canada, and in English 385, studied not only indigenous but also marginalized peoples. I'm sending a copy of the disc "My Skies" to each of my two professors because I think they would truly appreciate the music.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Good news!

I went to the chiropractor this morning with my bundle of x rays in hand. I'd borrowed the previous years' shots to share with my massage therapist student, and last week had this year's comparative x ray taken. The one shot that excites me is the head-and-neck. They measure the angle at which your neck rests subject to your spinal alignment, shoulders and head position.

Back in 2006, my first x ray showed a curviture of 32 degrees.

Normal is 45 degrees.

After the initial 6-month aggressive treatment plan of 4 visits per week for 8 weeks, 3 visits per week for 8 weeks and 2 visits per week for 8 weeks the x ray showed an increase to 38 degrees - very rare, apparently, to have such an improvement in the short period.

One year later in 2007 I'd slipped to 34 degrees.

In 2008, 32 degrees.

Dr. Mike was beaming today when he came in to show me the most recent x ray. He reviewed the numbers from previous years, then popped the film up on the viewer.

Are you sitting down?

My neck curviture now measures...

43 degrees!


My head now rests further back over my shoulders, and my upper back is - although not perfect - straighter.

A lot of the progress is due to massage therapy too, and to be honest I've not felt all that great muscle-wise over the last three months. I'm incredibly tight and my muscle tone is lacking.

I don't drink enough water.
I don't stretch enough.
Exercise? Got lots, thanks - I reno'd a basement in May!

OK. I've been SLACKING.

But good news on the neck front!

Otherwise, I'm quite literally exhausted. I've never felt so absolutely worn out, and after a chat with Dr. Mike today, have come to the conclusion that my long-term go-go-go lifestyle has been to blame. I don't sleep enough, and when I rest I tend to put my body to rest but I don't always quiet my mind. I'm facing a lot of my days tired and not sharp-of-mind.

I've decided not to go on the housing project in New Orleans. Instead, I must focus hyper-locally: quite literally on my body. I've lost a fair amount of weight since September, and I'm feeling the effects. I've always had trouble maintaining my weight, and the last six months have proven even more challenging. Tiredness takes over sooner rather than later simply because I'm not charged - physically.

Off to rest my body, and quiet my mind.

Monday, June 08, 2009

A piece of Canadiana: Kiri's Piano

Messing around on iTunes, I downloaded this tune to my iPhone the other day. I was lying in bed listening to it last night and discovered it's the story of a Japanese war-time internee in British Columbia. This song brought back memories of my English studies last year in 370 - a historiographic metafictional piece, Joy Kogawa's Obasan: a reflection on some of Canada's ugly history.

I've always loved James Keelaghan's music, its local flavour (he's from Calgary) and his sense of story telling woven into amazing music. He's playing here in a couple weeks and I'm excited... really excited. He often opens his solo shows to audience requests.

I think I have one:

Kiri's Piano
James Keelaghan - 1993

Of all of Kiri Ito's joys,
the thing she loved the best
Was to play her prized piano
when the sun had gone to rest
I used to hear the notes drift down
Along the silent water
As Kiri played the notes and scales
for her dear sons and daughters.

Now me I played piano
though not as good as Kiri
She went in for that long haired stuff
but my she played it pretty.
The old piano had a tone
would set my heart to aching.
It always sounded sweetest though
when it was Kiri playing.

In December when the seventh fleet
was turned to smoke and ashes,
The order came to confiscate
their fishing boats and caches.
And Kiri's husband forced to go
and work in labour camps,
And Kiri left alone to fend
and hold the fort as best she can.
But the music did not drift as often
from up the cove at Kiri's house.
And when it did it sounded haunted
played with worry played with doubt;
For Kiri knew that soon she too
would be compelled to leave,
And the old upright would stay behind
and Kiri she would grieve.

I loaded Kiri on the bus
with stoic internees.
The crime that they were guilty of
was that they were not like me.
And if I was ashamed,
I didn't know it at the time.
They were flotsam on the wave of war
they were no friends of mine.
I went up to Kiri's house
to tag all their belongings,
And set them out for auctioneers
who'd claim them in the morning.
One piece that I thought I'd keep
and hold back for myself
Was that haunting ivory upright
that Kiri played so well.

But Kiri had not left it there
for me to take as plunder.
She'd rolled it down onto the dock
and on into the harbor.
That old upright in strangers' hands
was a thought she couldn't bear:
So she consigned it to the sea
to settle the affair.

So many years have come and gone
since Kiri's relocation;
I look back now upon that time
with shame and resignation.
For Kiri knew what I did not:
that if we must be free,
Then sometimes we must sacrifice
to gain our dignity.

Yes Kiri knew what I did not:
that if we must be free,
Then sometimes we must sacrifice
to gain our dignity.

James Keelaghan plays the Rosemont Community June 20, 2009 @ 7:00 PM
Turtle's attending.

Thursday, June 04, 2009


It's done.

The suite is finished, new tenant in - settled - happy.

And I'm exhausted.

Yesterday was a write-off, really. I tried to function, really I did. It seems the more I sleep to restore and the more I eat to refuel, the more exhausted I feel. It's crazy. I put in half a morning loading my neighbour's truck for a dump run to clear out the yard and I powered out. Literally.

I need a vacation, and soon. Was thinking of New Orleans in July to help out on a housing project down there, but I dunno - I think I need to get away sooner than that. Must see where the dust settles with the dollars and cents before I do anything too wild. I have so many things I'd like to do around the house that maybe a stay-home holiday is best. Maybe I need to enter a sleep-a-thon or something. The crazy days of up-at-7:30, to bed at 3:00 have taken their toll, apparently.

Going to a Keelaghan show in a couple weeks - that'll be a blast as it is always.

I think I'll have a bite to eat and hit the pillow again. I've been treating these last couple days like a cat: getting plenty of rest between naps.

Turtle out.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Bad tummy and an update

I guess it's about time to blog again. It's been a whirlwind of activity around here, and frankly I've had no time nor inclination to write about what's been going on.

In a nut shell: (or Turtle shell as the case may be)

I have a grumpy tummy today and I'm sad to think that it may be a result of having eaten at one of my favourite places because it's the only thing I can think of that would cause the trouble. I visited the pharmacy today for some relief, but it's not all back to normal just yet.

The house it topsy-turvy these days with an all-out renovation downstairs. My long-time tenants Terri and Emarie were graciously refacing the suite during their tenancy and as quirky circumstance would play out, gave their notice to move only two weeks prior to a double-whammy sewer backup and freshwater flood which has necessitated their early departure by two weeks and an all-out re-renovation. Including the drywall dust, I've been eating, sleeping and breathing basement renos because I have a new tenant lined up for June 1st. As with a lot of 'repair' projects -from what I hear - mine has escalated from 'restore' to 'restore and upgrade', subsequently turning this into a much larger-than-anticipated project. It deserves its own blog post, so by month's end I should have the whole story complete with photos.

Personal stuff - well, it's personal, but suffice it to say no less demanding than basement renos and the like.

Business stuff - moving right along, and sometimes screams for the attention that it's been starved. I took a course a few weeks back called "Real Money, Real Profit", offered by ATB - my favouritest bank... but I think I've mentioned that before. It was a two-day seminar encompassing the essence of Economics 201 - a little micro, a little macro and a lot of number chasing. Had an opportunity to rub shoulders with several folks in other industries, our common interests of course being the course and our financial institution of choice. I even had an opportunity to put my professional skill to work when the hotel PA system wasn't working correctly. A minor adjustment to our instructor's lavaliere microphone and some setting changes and we were back on top. Felt good to contribute in my professional capacity, however minimal.

Around about the time of the flood, I was closing in on the completion of my Aboriginal Literature and Film course at the U. This along with everything else was quite simply too much. I was close to dropping the course and accepting an F grade because in the grand scheme of things a recreational course rates pretty low on the scale of priorities when one's house, and let's face it -- partial income, hangs in the balance. One of my classmates called the other day to inquire as to "what's up??". She encouraged me to chat with our prof and possibly work something out. As it turns out, I've been offered an unofficial deferral until the end of May so as to complete the course. There is, indeed, a God, not to mention good-hearted souls here looking out for me.

I still think of Dad on occasion, and sometimes out of the clear blue. The busy-ness of my own life has kindof overshadowed my connection with his spirit, but every so often I notice his presence, and it quite frankly - causes some tears.

That's about it for now - stay tuned for the Great Flood of 2009 coming soon to an Armchair near you.

Turtle out.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Monday, April 06, 2009

Morning walk

The days are turning warmer here. Rumour has it that the temps are supposed to reach +16C this week, which is fine by me.

I was up early today and walked to the coffee shop - about 2 miles round trip.

Lately I've been mired in a myriad of internal and external challenges that have diverted my attention from a lot of the things that make life truly pleasant. On my walk I re-experienced a lot of those things that make it all worth while: A lady walking her dog greeted me with a smile and a quick chat, excited that Spring was finally on its way. At the coffee shop, the fellow at the counter seemed genuinely happy and content to be there. On my return trip I met one of my neighbours (also named Dave, but no relation) walking his dog. We engaged in a 2-minute update on life and I quickly heard of his recent trip to Seattle. We bantered about the Pike Market and the Pier and moved forward.

I'm feeling content and satisfied right now that everything is where it needs to be - mostly - and looking forward to the end of the course at the U. and tying up some loose ends with a sound system installation contract.

The weekend yielded a great purge of long-accumulated junk which begs the question,

"Where does it all come from, and when will it end???"

Nevertheless, it's forward motion and I'm liking it - a lot!

I have several plans on paper for house projects which, if all goes according to plan, will see a dramatic change in the physical space here by the end of June.

Life has its crappy little moments, but overall is really quite pleasant. Here's to Spring, new beginnings and a ramp-up to vibrant times.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Reminiscing, what’s going on today, and future plans

One year ago at this very minute, I was riding the rails underground in Montreal. I had flown out to see Nathalie and had a full day to spend in Montreal before departing to Quebec City via Via Rail. I had, admittedly, one of my best life experiences on that trip.

Upper Left - My day pass and a coffee: cheaper than a cab
Lower Left - A map of the Montreal Metro - I've been to every stop.
Lower Right - On the platform at Quebec

What am I doing today? Nothing quite as exciting as jet setting across the country and riding the rails in new-to-me territory. Nope, today I’m pushing paper. I likely won’t look back on today a year from now to reminisce about the experience. It’s kinda cold and grey outside, as is my mood.

As for future plans? I found myself standing in the back yard with my friend Norm a couple days ago. We talked about two projects I want to see come to fruition this year: one is (hold on to your seat) eaves trough and facia repair and the replacement of badly worn downspouts. (OK, be honest, doesn’t this compete with a vacation to Quebec?) The second is a chain link fence project. For years my yard has been in need of a real fence… a full fence… one that actually surrounds the whole yard. We talked at length about moving some lengths of fence to give a different shape to the yard, and to what we might consider in terms of changing the “map”. This includes relocating trailer parking, moving a shed, and possibly foot printing a section for a future garage development, being mindful to maintain the existing fire pit. Oh, and a new wood crib for firewood… that would be nice.

Monday, March 23, 2009

DJ Will and a chocolate swan

Here's what happens when you let your wing-man run rampant in the office...

Went out last night -- awesome lamb for CHEAP, and when they run out of takeout containers for the leftover chocolate cake, and you have a creative server, you get this...

Oh, and I'm on a mission to replace my store-bought dishes with my own pottery pieces. Tonight I celebrated two such bowls with a healthy meal of prawns, asparagus and salad... gee, I feel like this is one of Mollie's posts about food! It's really more about the bowls, honest!

Lots to do!

Jan's post had some cute cat pics with captions... this one I thought was kinda cute.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Think warm thoughts

Spring has sprung, the grass is riz, I wonder where the shovel is?

Ah, Spring in Calgary at 5:30 in the morning!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Dave the plumber

I know this guy who is a plumber here in Calgary. I met him years ago through one of the community centres that we do regular work for. We all swear he's near stone-deaf because he's always asking us to "turn it up!" at community events. He and his wife are pretty amazing dancers too, and whenever I think of Dave I think of the numerous times over the years that I played for him, Dean Martin's 'That's Amore'.

Yesterday I played plumber. Emarie emailed to say that the toilet in the suite wasn't refilling after a flush. It was the oddest thing, too.

I checked the water shutoff, closing it and reopening it.

The toilet flushed just fine, and I thought the problem was resolved.

Nuh uhh...

Upon the next flush, the problem recurred.

Emarie checked the web for advice. It suggested that we use a coat hanger to clean out the line that runs into the float/regulator. We did that. Again, the tank filled just fine. This time I was smart (or so I thought) and flushed the toilet a few times to be sure.

"We make a good team,", she said. "I look up what to do and you do it!"

Later in the afternoon, Emarie informed me that alas, the problem was not fixed. In the meantime, I'd been chatting with a friend whose boyfriend is/was a plumber. He told me over the phone that for the $15.00 it would be best to replace the float/regulator when this problem occurs. So, off to Home Depot. The really fancy-schmancy regulator, which you can adjust to use more or less water, was only $22.00. It made sense to spend the extra $7.00.

I discovered that this plumbing thing is really very 'plug-and-play'. Unscrew the old one, insert the new one, add water and wait.

The other thing I learned about yesterday's adventure in plumbing is that I can fix stuff... correctly... without it costing more in the end!


The only difference between this Dave and the other Dave is that he can dance and I can hear. Oh, and I'm taller.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Chez Tortue avance

I'm not sure how accurate the title is on a couple of fronts: grammatically, it's a stab in the dark, literally it's probably more accurate. I cleaned out the kitchen last night. The cubboards are going to be a whole other project, but the room itself has literally doubled in preceptual size.

Going through other people's stuff is so much easier than deciding what to do with my own, but I must admit that the whole yoga notion of "non-attachment" is growing on me, and quite naturally. I was chatting with a friend last night about this whole business and she asked me what I was doing with the stuff I didn't want. I said,

"Throwing it out."

She was shocked.

"You mean you're not boxing it up for donation or anything?"

"Nope. There's a certain satisfaction in just... throwing it out. Besides, it's full of bad energy - who wants THAT?"


"I guess you're right. But if you have any furniture..."

Sold, one couch.

Y'know, I clued in a few years ago to the notion that space is more valuable than stuff, and I refer to Bob Hope's comment on the subject,

"Buy land. They're not making it anymore."

But more to the point, with more space, there is also room for more energy. I remember back to my early days of running the business when I was aquiring capital assests. I looked around. All the SUCCESSFUL companies had STUFF, and lots of it. So I went about aquiring stuff. It felt comfortable having it all around because that was a sign of success, right? Meh.

I love my new guest room. In fact, I've taken to sleeping there since it's rebirth back on Friday. It feels great. The kitchen is... on its way, but certainly much better than it has been.

More later on the progress of Chez Tortue, but right now I have a coffee brewing.

Turtle out.

Monday, March 09, 2009


...seemed a suitable title for this post. I spent the bulk of Friday evening and into the wee hours cleaning house - in several ways. There has been a tremendous loss of energy in my home. Not because of a leaky roof or poorly sealed windows, but because of the incredible amount of STUFF around. I've blogged about having too much stuff of my own, but this is different. This STUFF is STUFF that other people have left behind over time. It seems that those, other than me, who live in my house from time to time tend not to take all their STUFF with them when they go.

I started with, and honestly didn't get much further than, the spare room. If this room could talk... it was once my office, then converted back to a guest room when Terri arrived from south of the boarder. She and Emarie inhabited the basement suite after a previous tenant left all her STUFF down there, but that's a whole other story. Nathalie used the room as her reading room and quiet space while she was here, and after that Terri's sister's boyfriend at the time rented the space until returning to the East Coast at Christmas. Everyone, with the exception of T. & E. left a great deal of STUFF behind, and let's face it - other people's stuff in my space still uses my energy. In fact, if it were my stuff, it would be here by choice and would likely contribute to good energy all around. Regardless, however, I have discovered that having less stuff increases the good energy in a space.

So, with a strategic plan in place, the whole house should be free of life-sucking STUFF within the week, and the plan is that what will remain is one comfy Chez Tortue. Or maybe a better term would be Chateau. Indeed.

Oh, I need an acronym for STUFF. I got as far as "Stuff That Utterly Fills..." and I'm stuck. Maybe there's another one... hmm... I thought of some with really nasty words that were quite satisfying to my soul, but this is a G-rated blog... or at least tries to be... maybe it doesn't have to be... will I feel better? Probably.

Turtle out.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

It's OK to be sad

On my way home from the University tonight I bumped into a long time friend who invited me in for tea, literally.

We talked for about three hours, something of my course, a bit about life in general and about relationships with people. We also touched on some of what's been troubling me about "being". I asked her quite directly if our happiness comes from within us and that outside influences don't affect that, why it is we ever feel sad or angry or any of what we construe as 'negative' emotions.

"Because it's normal", was her reply.

Well, thank goodness for that - I'm normal!

Right now I'm sad. And that's OK.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

To BE or not to simply BE

There are a few things I've been coming to terms with lately, not the least of which is a sense of confusion. Yoga teaches us to simply "be". There's nothing wrong with not being able to do a certain posture or stretch or hold. It's OK if our mind is clouded at the moment, because that is simply the state of things, and we should allow that to be... but focus on the breath and adjust our movement accordingly.

I think a lot. I mean, a lot. One of the comments that was posted a couple blogs back referred to a little bit of silliness I posted about the "Perils of a Catholic Upbringing". The commenter said,

"Best you've written so far! Not so to have a good laugh."

Point is, I didn't write it.

And yes, my writing IS philosophical.

I'm wondering if that may be the root of my current trouble. You see, I'm finding it quite difficult to be light hearted these days. The stress I'm feeling is that which I'm bringing on myself, or is it?

How often do we hear that outside factors should have no bearing on our internal happiness? That, to me, says no matter what kind of shit goes down, we'll simply be happy because our happiness has nothing to do with said shit; internal vs external.

Do we get to choose how we feel?

I know I've had the opportunity to choose whether I was going to allow something to affect me, so I suppose that is true. Did I choose to be sad when my Dad passed away? Yes, I suppose I did. Did I choose to experience all those 'divorce-type' feelings when Nathalie moved back to Quebec? Yes, I did, however some would argue that I didn't express as many of those feelings as I could have.

Does the fact that we naturally experience negative feelings when negative things happen mean that we're weak and easily succumb to whatever emotion just happens to be floating around the atmosphere, looking for a place to land?

I have a choice to make about a dear friend, and I guess the ultimate question in my mind to which I would LOVE a clear answer is this:

Do we choose how to BE, or simply BE?

Monday, February 16, 2009

...after all, it's only natural

I knew it was coming, it was inevitable. I've been having pretty great times for the most part, and the last two or three days have been a counter to that. I've felt kinda bummed, to be honest.

I notice it most at work and in my physical fitness arenas. Work wise, I'm simply not into it right now. I don't mind doing the behind-the-scenes stuff, but the field work, honestly, sucks for me right now. As for my physical wellness, well, it's been a lot of discovery where barriers are concerned. I'm either far more self-aware than I have been, or things are generally pretty messed up. I've been going to my massage therapy student's case study sessions diligently, buying into the programme. I've been going to yoga regularly, buying into the programme. I'm also incredibly stiff and sore these days, and far more aware of what's "wrong" with my body. I doubt any thing's changed for the worse, in fact in many areas I'm feeling much better, however... the more work I do, the more I feel needs to be "fixed". There is forever an additional challenge to face, and that's all part of life, but I seem to be super-aware of all of it.

I also have a bathroom that's driving me nuts... a well-meaning room mate helped me far enough to turn the place into organized chaos, and I've felt like I've been living in a construction zone for four months now. I think only diligence and time or a heap load of money is going to bring it around.

Had a great visit with my friend Norm today - super busy he is, and said he'd be all over helping me fix it all up if it weren't for his own projects at home, his travel and of course family. Gawd, they're as tired as I am. I think Dr. Mike was right - there's an epidemic in Calgary, and it takes the form of burnout.

At least yoga class was uplifting tonight.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Perils of a Catholic Upbringing concluded

Here it is - the previous post complete...

As I walked down the busy sidewalk, knowing I was late for Mass, my eye fell upon one of those unfortunate, homeless vagabonds that are found in every city these days.

Some people turned to stare. Others quickly looked away as if the sight would somehow contaminate them.

Recalling my old pastor, Father Mike, who always admonished me to 'care for the sick, feed the hungry and clothe the naked,' I was moved by some powerful inner urge to reach out to this unfortunate person.

Wearing what can only be described as rags, carrying every worldly possession in two plastic bags, my heart was touched by this person's condition.

Yes, where some people saw only rags, I saw a true, hidden beauty.

A small voice inside my head called out, 'Reach out, reach out and touch this person!' I did.

I won't be at Mass this week.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Perils of a Catholic Upbringing

...this just in by email - take heed.

As I walked down the busy sidewalk, knowing I was late for Mass, my eye fell upon one of those unfortunate, homeless vagabonds that are found in every city these days.

Some people turned to stare. Others quickly looked away as if the sight would somehow contaminate them.

Recalling my old pastor, Father Mike, who always admonished me to 'care for the sick, feed the hungry and clothe the naked,' I was moved by some powerful inner urge to reach out to this unfortunate person.

Wearing what can only be described as rags, carrying every worldly possession in two plastic bags, my heart was touched by this person's condition.

Yes, where some people saw only rags, I saw a true, hidden beauty.

A small voice inside my head called out, 'Reach out, reach out and touch this person!'

...what happened? Stay tuned...

Monday, February 02, 2009

Pokled and proded

Last week my massage therapist was ill and as a result we missed an appointment... the one I had scheduled for my birthday, January 28. On January 27 I called the massage therapy school both where I used to go and where my massage therapist trained. I had asked if there were a cancellation for Wednesday and in fact there was, so I took advantage.

Turnes out it became a double bonus. The girl who was my student therapist on my birthday knows and trained with my regular massage therapist and sent her well-wishes to Allison. Yesterday night R. phoned to ask if I would be willing to be her case study client for her second-year term. I had been asked before, but with no follow up. R. stepped up to the plate right away and booked me in.

What this translates to is essentially three treatments per week for four weeks. The trade off is of course time (which, you'll notice as per my previous post I am not trading for money, but for wellness. A bonus is that the treatments are indeed free of charge.)

I went in this afternoon for the initial assessment. It was far more lengthy than I had anticipated. An interview led to a physical assessment: range of motion tests, plum-line symetry evaluation and some overall health questions. I've also been asked to get before and after-treatment xrays. So, I've emailed my chiropractor to ask if these could be taken in his office this week.

The evaluation today has me excited because I'm learning as much if not more than my student therapist. Since having taken up yoga, I'm far more self-aware when it comes to what my body is doing and not doing, and I'm sure that to a student of massage therapy, that must be a bonus. I feel like I'm engaged in the whole process, and it's been a long time since I've felt that way going to a Western M.D.

Treatments start on Wednesday this week, and I'm excited. The drawback is that if I were of average, basic, healthy symetry I would not have been asked to be part of the student project. I guess being screwed up helps! So, if you have scoliosis, high arches and dozens of trigger points throughout your body, I encourage you to check out your local massage therapy school. You may get to be a test subject, and in this case the benefits promise to be fabulous.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Never trade your time for money... and simple math

Thought about a couple things today when I woke up:

As I opened my eyes I was inspired to post, and they say that when the inspiration hits you're best to act... whoever the "they" are. Well, "they" weren't as tired as I was at 6:30 this morning, so "they" didn't act, I did. By sleeping. The words at 6:30 came to me freely, and now closer to 9:30, and much more rested, I am strangely far less eloquent.

The point of the title is this: I was thinking about how precious time really is, and how much of it we spend chasing the almighty dollar. It is rare that you hear about someone who truly enjoys their work, and often the story is closer to

"I have to go to work",

rather than

"I don't work, I simply do, and what I do I enjoy. Oh, and by the way, I make a living at it."

I've heard it said,

"Choose a job that you enjoy and you'll never work a day in your life."

True, dat, to a point.

We've probably all worked at one point simply for the money because we need it to survive. Suck up the circumstances and remain focused on how much money is coming in... that'll make us feel better.


In the end if the soul isn't satisfied, the mind, body and spirit aren't either. At the end of our days can we look back and say,

"I had a full, rich life"

or will it be,

"Look at all the money I can leave behind!"

So the way I figure it, if we trade our precious time simply for the money, we're losing out. But, if we use our time to experience everything we can and the benefits include getting paid for our endeavours, we're happier.

Point number two: On Wednesday last week I turned 39. When I woke up this morning I figured out why 40 is considered 'over the hill'. If you do the math, 39 is your 40th year. 40 is, indeed, 'over the hill' - contrary to what I believed before that it was only at 41 that you rounded the top. I can rest assured, however that the rules have changed. 40 is the new 30, which means I'm 29 and holding.

Simple math. Love it!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Haggis, Hockey and Viagra

Raised an eyebrow yet?

Thought so.

What, you may ask, do these three have in common?

Well, my experience of course! Now, before you go getting all kinds of crazy ideas, here it is:

Yesterday was January 25 - Robbie Burns Day, of course, and alas, I did not have opportunity to sample some haggis.

I did, however, get to attend a Calgary Hitman game at the Saddledome with my niece and her cub pack. I didn't do a head count, but I'm guessing we had maybe 15 in our group - kids and adults.

The game was Calgary VS Regina, and off the top Regina scored the first goal. We tied it up by the end of the first period, and N. and I went to get a beverage. We returned to our seats right as the second period started. I observed that not only was our timing perfect, it also took as long to get a drink from the concession, practically, as an entire period of play.


Calgary went on to score on power plays, and it was the observation of one of the other adults in our group that "Saskatchewan isn't all that disciplined." OK by me - it gave Calgary an advantage of which they took advantage!

By the end of the third period, we had the game all but wrapped up: 7 to 4. Oh, and by the way, Wendy's restaurants gives everyone a coupon for a free Bacon Classic if Calgary scores 5 or more goals in a given game... mmm... Bacon Classic...

Preparing the ice prior to the start of the game

Charging the crowd to give away prizes

This photo shows the scoreboard near the end of the game:

What else do you see?

Does the electronic billboard advertising strike you as odd, for an all-ages event on a Sunday afternoon?

It did us, and although we chuckled about it, (the adults, that is) I, for one, was a bit shocked - although I wouldn't have paid it any mind at any other time. All companies must advertise, but I wonder if they'd considered their target market?

I think what might have shocked me more however, would have been questions from young, inquisitive minds...

Friday, January 23, 2009

The value of methodical procedure

I remember hearing a story years ago about a neurosurgeon who, in an attempt to focus all his necessary energy on his patients and work, would organize the simple things in his life down to ritualistic routine. He would drive the exact same route to work every day, at the very same time, so that he wasn't spending any unnecessary energy on unexpected surprises. I remember thinking to myself that he must not live in Calgary because the weather patterns here would drive nuts. I also remember thinking it was a bit over the top. But I began to think of the reasoning behind this kind of organization because it twigged to me the other day just how much energy I was spending as a result of not being precisely organized.

Over the last number of weeks I've been tired. Really tired. I looked back on all the things I've been doing since we flipped our calendars over January One, and... no wonder! I've been keeping appointments, taking classes, moving stuff, doing business and keeping hobbies - seemingly all at once. And I like it. A lot. Every so often, however, I've hit this wall of frustration when I'd inadvertently set my keys down without thinking where, gathering items for a meeting and doing the same thing - mostly out of haste.

On Wednesday, a friend told me that I sometimes tend to look for immediate results in my approach to things. Our particular discussion was centred around yoga. I was sorta complaining that some things that I've wanted to achieve physically through yoga haven't been happening as I have expected. Funny, because when I talk about these things I tend to talk about them in an critical, assesing sort of a way, whereas when I'm actually in the studio DOING postures and stretches, I'm very much about 'letting things happen' and not 'making things happen'. It could be poor word choice in my discussions, or maybe I truly am impatient, who knows?

Last week at the pottery studio I discovered something very first-hand that, after the fact was blindingly obvious: The minute I 'let go' and allowed the wheel to provide the physical force necessary to centre the clay, it was indeed centred. I could push and pull and twist all I wanted, but gentleness brought about a centredness that was very much something of a natural order. I let go my grasp, and naturally the clay went into its centred position, ready for me to open it.

"Interesting.", I thought.

I very gently opened the clay body and raised it - careful not to pinch, but rather guiding it - no more, no less - to a raised cylinder. Taking my fingers, pointed straight down, I used one on each side of the cylinder to shape it into a bowl from the inside.

Know what I ended up with?

You guessed it, a popcorn bowl! The ever-elusive popcorn bowl that I've wanted to make for the better part of a year now, happened.

Sadly, my popcorn bowl met its demise in the trimming stage a few days later when I inadvertently powered up the wheel to full-blast rotation trying to dislodge the foot pedal from underneath the wheel. My poor bowl landed side-down on the concrete floor.

Poor bowl.

The lesson was invaluable, and it applies to everything. James Keelaghan once sang the words,

One thing that I learned that day
You can whip and you can curse,
But you'll get as good a ride
If you use gentle, lovin' words.


So yesterday I started practicing focused, thoughtful and gentle action. It tends to take more time to achieve things, but one look at my desk this morning and I was sold on not only the strategy, but the belief.

Namaste, all - and speak some gentle words today -- see what happens.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Back in class

English 385, a topic course in Canadian Aboriginal Literature. It's going to be something of an unconventional course, too. The grading map is very simple - class participation and portfolio grades, all flexible in weighting, up to us as students to designate the weight for each component, and we will be signing a 'contract' to the effect.

There will be no final exam, but there will be what's called an "exit interview", one-on-one in the prof's office. No essays, but some critical analysis by way of - get this - web logs. That's right, we're blogging.

Cool, eh?

Not only are we studying literature, but film, music and other electronic media. I'm pretty pumped, actually. There will be no formal lectures, and in some weekly circumstances, no class in order to allow us time for group projects.

I've made an appointment with my prof on Tuesday for a simple meet-and-greet. I've found it effective to sit down face-to-face and kinda get to know who it is I'll be writing for and presenting to.

Oh, and morning coffee is set for Monday with Margaret, my first and dare I say to date, my favourite prof.

I wish I knew some catchy Latin phrase to close this post, alas all I know is "Carpe Diem".

Carpe Turtle. (Seize the Turtle?)


Anyone know Latin?

Back on the wagon

Yup, again checkin' to see if coffee is partly to blame for my tummy troubles and sleeping interruptions.

Today is rough.

I really want a coffee!

I seriously feel out of sorts today, and a coffee would be the fix, I know it.

I did one of those parasite cleanses back in July/August. I feel much the same as I did for the first spell of that. Guess my body's kickin' it out, and the chemistry within is changing... again.


I love coffee.

...maybe staring at the logo for a while will help.

...nope... again?

...definitely not helping.

...did I mention I love coffee?

Class starts tonight. I'm going to feel like a fish out of water without a java in hand at a night course.

Bean there, Dunn that... ah well, wish me luck.

Monday, January 12, 2009

A January Check-in

I haven't had a whole lot of enthusiasm to blog recently. Not that life isn't full and rich - in fact, it's been quite the opposite. It seems every time I think about checking in, I'm either really tired or really busy. There hasn't been a lot of in-between. Typically I've been a pretty open book as far as sharing stories with people in person and here on the blog. I find myself wanting to share less of the really personal stuff and I'm wondering if that's a function of growing older, or maybe I'm digressing in a way and it has nothing to do with age.

Years ago I was hyper-attached to my business. People could tell how well my business was doing by the mood I was in - literally. These days I talk a lot less about the business side of the business and much more about life in general mostly because now... I have one outside of my work.

January has kinda flown by. I have some photos to share and may post them in the next day or so, but the highlight of the last couple weeks are:

*Starting the New Year with something of a cross-over contract: the pottery studio where I take classes took possession of a new location as of January 1, so... on January 1 we moved. Now, not only does my company have sound system experience which, in and of itself entails moving stuff, it now has experience as a moving company of sorts.

*My Mom has asked for years that we not get her any 'stuff' for Christmas; she has enough things. So last Saturday we went for a family brunch. It was a chance for immediate family and cousins and such to gather for bread-breaking and gabbing... we do that very well.

*I registered in a class at the U. to begin on Wednesday this week. English 385, a topic course in Aboriginal Film and Literature. I also sent an email to my first (and favourite) prof., Margaret, to see if she would act as advisor on my quest for courses to eventually fulfill the requirements for an undergrad degree in English.

*I walked in to the bank not that long ago, and everyone on staff - with the exception of the few working in the back offices - said "Hi, David!" I've never experienced that in my 20-odd years of banking. I know and/or have chatted with almost everyone at my branch, including the manager. I won't go as far as to say it's my second home, but I sure feel 'at home' there. So, in appreciation of the above-and-beyond service I get on a regular basis, I decided to take a round of Starbucks for the staff. It made me feel good.

*On referral from my GP, I've been going to the Sleep Centre at the Foothills Hospital. After an overnight home-monitoring, the doctor wanted to put me on a really aggressive ant-acid prescription. I'm a prescription pessimist, to be honest. I've completely bought into the fact that the body heals on its own far better with natural elements, not man-made drugs with nasty side-effects. So, I've opted not to fill the prescription. Instead, I'm changing my diet and have looked into natural substitutes. This after the attending doctor told me flat out that there are no natural substitutions. Funny... I found a couple and I'm not even a doctor. But I've talked to people who genuinely care about good health and to the best of my knowledge these people would not steer me wrong. Sorry if this sounds 'rantish' in nature, but I really think it's foolish to take drugs that have side effects. Don't the side effects themselves say "Hey, this doesn't belong in my body!"? Now if only I could heed my own advice and kick the coffee thing... *sigh*

*Yoga's been hit-and-miss in January simply because of the holiday followed by a crazy turtle schedule, but I'm primed to go this morning and very much looking forward to it!

That's it for the update.

Photos soon.

Turtle out.

About Me

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Calgary, Alberta, Canada
English student, Pottery enthusiast, Yoga novice and lover of all people. I make friends over a warm handshake and a beverage. I discover, every day, someone willing to help me along my path.