Friday, December 30, 2011

I'M BACK

Holy crap, it's been a month since I opened this blogsite. That's embarassing! Both of the people reading this thing are going to be disappointed that I haven't had anything new on here for a while.
Here's the thing, though, I went back to work full-time and I just haven't taken the time to get back at it here. Anyway, I am resolving, (for the sixth year in a row or something) to do more blogging. You can expect to hear more from me in the New Year. Happy New Year everyone!

YOU SAY YOU WANT A RESOLUTION!

Can you believe we are already into the second year of the second decade of the 21st Century? Me either. Another year has passed and, as always, time marches on. So now it’s resolution time again. Did you stick to your resolutions in 2011? Can you remember the resolutions you made a year ago? I know I can’t be completely positive about last year’s resolutions but I vaguely remember resolving to write stuff down more so I could remember more stuff but I can’t remember where I put the stuff that I wrote down, or even if I did it at all. Hmmmm?
Anyway, this year I am resolving to make my resolutions more manageable. It’s always admirable to set lofty goals but then you’re just setting yourself up for disappointment when you don’t stick to them. Out with that “make a million dollars” thing I’ve been resolving to do for a long, long time, then. And I’ve finally kicked the smoking habit so there’s another big one off of the list. Eat better, be kinder, lose weight, spend less-save more, enjoy life to the fullest, spend more time with family…those are all things that we should be striving for every day of the year not just in the first two weeks of January every year.
If you have ever read any of the “self-help” books they are always telling you to make smaller goals first and then build toward larger goals, you know, baby steps. And quoting Frank Ra, the author of the New Year’s resolution book, “A Course in Happiness”: Resolutions are more sustainable when shared, both in terms of with whom you share the benefits of your resolution, and with whom you share the path of maintaining your resolution. Peer-support makes a difference in the success rate with New Year’s resolutions.”
Now that makes sense, doesn’t it? Work with someone you’re close to and make your resolutions practical and something that both parties will benefit from, eh? What a coincidence, why just the other day I was mentioning to my wife Debbie that we’ve got a couple of resolutions that we should make this year and now I know it’s best if we do it as a team. So I thought of a few “attainable” resolutions to start the year off and then we can see what happens.
Like: I will resolve not to say “Huh?” or “what?” every time Deb says something to me if she’ll resolve not to talk to me if I’m more than four feet away from her. Speak clearly and enunciate!! Please.” Sidebar resolution: Yes, I will look into those hearing aids!
We will both resolve to synchronize our snoring so someone doesn’t have to move to a different bedroom halfway through the night. (Not sure how we’re going to do that but we’ll write it down anyway).
Deb resolves not to nag so much on the weekends if Perry will resolve to actually do something on the weekends. Who wrote this? How’d that one get in there?!
Debbie will resolve to try to not tell extremely important news and family plans to me while the game is on and I will resolve to at least mute the damn thing while the itinerary plans are being laid out to me while the important sports event is playing on the television.
That’s about it for now, I think. It’s a pretty good start and we don’t want to overwhelm ourselves now do we? Yes, I think that’ll do for now. Oh yeah, there is another thing that I’ve got to do…I’m just going to have to resolve, for the thirtieth year in a row, to get a handle on that procrastination thing that I do so well. Wait just a second. Hold on now. Maybe I’ll move that a little further down the list, or something. I’m not sure if I’m ready for that just yet. We’ll see…
“A New Year's resolution is something that goes in one year and out the other.”-Author Unknown

MAN, MY MOM CAN COOK!

So did you get your fill of turkey and dressing and figgy pudding or cabbage rolls and kiff les (keef-lee, a Hungarian pastry)? Growing up in my house I had the great advantage of consuming the best foods from two different ethnic backgrounds…Hungarian and English.
I was so lucky to have grown up in a house with a Mom who was such a fabulous cook. My Grandma Vedress was an excellent cook, too, and she passed down her amazing cooking/baking abilities to her daughters which included her youngest daughter, my Mom Rose.
After Mom married my Dad she had to learn how to prepare the traditional English dishes that he had grown up with, too. Don’t get me wrong, Dad loved Mom’s Hungarian cooking as much as his own traditional foods but he just couldn’t give up all of the great food that his Mother had been making for him and his brothers and sisters all of his life. It wasn’t long before Mom had mastered the food and baking dishes that Dad had loved growing up. My Grandma Hubbard’s Christmas pudding and sugar sauce recipe is still the one that Mom uses every year at this time.
My Mom had always been a little intimidated with her Mother-in-law’s pie making abilities and she thought that her raisin and mince meat pies couldn’t compare to Grandma Hubbard’s but I don’t buy that. As I recall, my Mom’s pies were excellent! Still are! Certainly she had grown up making kalach and kiff les and poppy-seed rolls, which were excellent, too, of course, but her pies were pretty damn good, too.
Now the dishes that I grew up with are being passed down from my Grandmothers’ generation to my Mom’s generation to my generation and now to my children’s generation. My wife Debbie’s heritage is English and she’s an excellent cook and I enjoy cooking so we’ve shared the meal preparation duties along with sharing many of the recipes we had grown up preparing and eating. Deb can make as good a cabbage roll as I can but she’s a much better baker than me so she does the baking and I make the cabbage rolls. Go with your strengths, I always say.
Of course there are so many outside influences on what we can prepare and eat today and with so many recipes just a mouse-click away on the internet the world’s food tastes are at our doorstep. Well, our computer screen any way. Italian, Indian, Mexican, Asian….the list goes on. But on those very special occasions, like Christmas, many of us want, or need, to go back to the comfort foods that we grew up with. Sure, I love pizza, or Moo Goo Gai Pan, but not for Christmas dinner, thank you very much. But after two or three days of Christmas left-overs…now that’s a different story.
Whatever your tastes, I hope that all of you had a great time feasting through the holidays on the traditional recipes of your choice.
“Food is the most primitive form of comfort.”-Sheila Graham(1904-1

CHRISTMASES PAST!

As most of us are up to here in preparations for Christmas Present we cannot stop ourselves from revisiting Christmases Past. Why just the other day I was sharing my “remember when” moments with some of my younger workmates.
I was telling them that when I was growing up by Christmas Day the old Simpson’s Sears Christmas Catalogue, the forerunner of today’s Sears’ Wish Book, was so tattered and torn by me, my brother and my sisters that it was unrecognizable. I know how the catalogue became the “WishBook” because my siblings and I couldn’t have been the only children in the country who spent so many hours flipping through the pages of that catalogue wishing for most of the things in it. And in those days the catalogue didn’t arrive in June, or something, so we only had a couple of months to wear out the pages.
And no, I’m not going to get all “back in my day” and “walking uphill both ways to and from school” and stuff on you but suffice it to say that the times were a lot different, when I was a kid growing up in the 1960’s and 70’s, than it is today. Not better, not worse, just different.
At our house we didn’t have the colourful store-bought stockings with your name embroidered on them that “were hung by the chimney with care” we had some of Dad’s wool grey socks that were tacked to the armrests on the fronts of the chesterfield and armchairs in the living room for Santa to fill. My wife tells me that she hung her Dad’s sock from the top of the buffet drawer in their living room. Necessity being the mother of invention and all.
We actually did get “candy and nuts” in our stockings and maybe a Christmas Orange because they were a real treat back then. The tasty and expensive little Mandarin oranges used to come in wooden boxes and were wrapped in green paper and were only available to Canadians around Christmas time, thus, “Christmas Orange”. If we children had been particularly good that year, or Father’s Christmas bonus had exceeded expectations, as it were, then we’d get a few small toys, like a Matchbox car, or a capgun, or something, in the stocking, too.
For all of my wishing for the big and expensive toys to appear under our Christmas Tree the one item that I really looked forward to and knew would be there every year was a brand new Victoriaville hockey stick and the first year that one didn’t appear under the tree, when I was sixteen or something, I was a pretty sad boy.
I remember that my best friend back then, Gordie Bennett, had most of the coolest stuff, which I had been coveting from those Simpsons-Sears catalogues, stacked away in his bedroom closet. He had the 007 Super Spy set, attaché case and all, and he had a chemistry set, and a plastic machine gun that actually made the shooting sound by itself and he even had a “Mouse Trap” game in there. But we hardly ever played with his super-cool gadgets as we spent most of our time wearing out our Victoriaville hockey sticks in the road-hockey games that were going on all the time.
When it was too cold or stormy to play street-hockey we would play for hours on end with the greatest Christmas gift that my brother and I ever got…a table top rod-hockey game that had interchangeable teams and a centre ice puck dropper and goal lights and a little replica of the Stanley Cup. Man o man the hours we spent playing that game.
Now the 2011 version of Christmas is upon us and as we celebrate the birth of Christ our families will be building new memories to cherish for years and years to come. From my family to yours here’s hoping that your wishes will come true and you and yours will have a very memorable and Merry Christmas.

“When we recall Christmas past, we usually find that the simplest things - not the great occasions - give off the greatest glow of happiness.” -Bob Hope (1903-2002).

KAPP AND MOSCA DUKE IT OUT AT GREY CUP!

Say, did you guys catch that geezer fight from the Grey Cup festivities in Vancouver a couple of weeks ago? I can say “geezer” ‘cause I am one so don’t get all “politically correct” on me here. Now, where was I, oh yeah, I guess it happened at a CFL Alumni luncheon at this year’s Grey Cup Weekend when these two old foes: Joe Kapp (73) punched ol’ Angelo Mosca (74) in the chops after the two continued their personal feud that started at the 1963 Grey Cup game. It appears that these guys know how to hold onto a grudge, eh?
Back in the 1963 Grey Cup game Angelo Mosca took out Willie Fleming with a questionable hit. Joe Kapp was Fleming’s teammate and took exception to the often undisciplined Mosca’s forearm hit. Over the years, at other CFL Alumni events, the two ex-CFLers continued their feud over the ’63 Grey Cup game and never shied away from showing their contempt for one another.
Comedian Ron James, the host of the CFL Alumni Luncheon, suggested that Joe Kapp should offer up an “olive branch” to Mosca, in an effort to make peace after all these years, so he gave Kapp some flowers out of a nearby table centerpiece and then Kapp offered them up to Mosca who promptly told Joe to “***** those up your ***”, which, unimaginably, ol’ Joe Kapp takes exception to, and then he pushes the flowers closer to Mosca’s face so then Mosca pushes Joe back and swings at him with his cane barely missing Kapp. Kapp had jumped back out of the way of the swing and then he steps forward and throws a right cross into the left side of Mosca’s face and down goes ol’ Angelo with Kapp grappling after him, as the former pro wrestler, Angelo Mosca, falls off the stage. Kapp was pulled off of Mosca by other Alumni members and event staff and Angelo was returned to his stool with neither foe appearing to have suffered too much damage.
There was some speculation that the fight was staged, as Mosca had been recently shilling his autobiography and was doing book signing sessions at the Grey Cup event, but in anything that I’ve read or seen since then these guys just don’t like each other and the dust-up was not staged at all. Leo Ezerins, Executive Director of the CFL Alumni Association, apologized to the crowd for the unexpected incident and the event continued.
I’m just wondering who it was that decided to put these two on stage together at the same time? If anyone knew their history from past events together, (and apparently everyone associated with the event knows their history), then they were just inviting disaster, don’t you think? But it sure brought some attention to the CFL, the Alumni Association and the Grey Cup event when the fight went viral as an internet video sensation and was featured in many international mainstream media outlets. Perhaps this was the silver lining in the black cloud.
You know, I do not advocate violence as a means to an end, any end, but I cannot say that I was totally disgusted by the behaviour of these two individuals despite their age. Or maybe it’s because of their age. Perhaps I’m a little sensitive to age issues as I fast approach another birthday and more things on my body are sagging and graying and the world is anxious about the strain of looking after all us aging Baby Boomers…but I digress, as usual, and I’ll discuss this particular matter in greater detail next week, so, yes, of course, both men should have known better, and done better, but also, both of them had been in the sports entertainment business their whole lives and just because a couple of boys became men and then became old men, sorry, older men, doesn’t mean that the fire doesn’t still burn in the belly and the competitive juices aren’t still flowing. Do individual humans have a violence expiration date? Apparently not.

“Violence isn’t always evil. What’s evil is the infatuation with violence.”-Jim Morrison (1943-1971).
Writer’s note: comments and questions regarding this column may be addressed to hubbar@sasktel.net. Also, previous “In My Humble Opinion” and “Random Thoughts” columns can be found on the following website: http://pnhubbard.blogspot.com/.

WHAT'S IN A HEADLINE

Regular readers of this column will have noticed that the only headline that The Citizen ever uses for these essays is the actual name of the column- In My Humble Opinion. To me, one of the hardest things to do is to summarize a seven hundred word write-up into a three, four or five word headline. In fact, while I was trying to get my writing efforts to a larger audience an on-line writing forum sent me a 3000 word essay of their own on “The art of writing good titles for the internet” in an obvious attempt to pizzazz-up my titles that I was submitting to them.
Therefore, writing headlines is an art form in itself. Just ask The Citizen or any newspaper staff as they struggle to meet all of their deadlines and try to condense the subject matter of innumerable articles into eye-catching phrases. Sometimes, as deadlines are looming and distractions are unstoppable, a headline or two will get posted in the paper that maybe should have been proofread one or two more times. Then again, someone could read a headline one way and another person will read it another way and one person will catch the mistake while the other one can’t even see it after three or four readings, if you know what I mean?
Newspaper typos, misstated headlines, wrong-worded signs and similar foibles are so prevalent that The Tonight Show’s host, Jay Leno, has been doing a segment on his program for years highlighting these kinds of faux pas like-“ ‘It’s always a crapshoot to figure out how many porta-potties to have at these kinds of events,’ stated Mia Hansen, executive director of Tucson Meet Yourself”; or a miscue in a grocery store flyer stating, “Elf cutlets in wine-$2.29 per 12oz package.” Excuse me?
Occasionally headlines will appear wrong because of the way our English language is structured and sometimes a sentence can be read quite differently depending on inflection or accentuation or simply because of the sentence’s structure or perhaps the use of the same English words that have different meanings. Like the last item in the paragraph above where “Elf” would be the “brand-name” of the cutlet producers not the cut of meat from an elf; one would assume. But, then again, one should never “assume” anything, either, right?
The other day I got an email from my brother with an attachment entitled “Headline Head Scratchers” and I just had to share some of them with you. Enjoy.
“Man Kills Self Before Shooting Wife and Daughter.”-Huh?
“Something Went Wrong in Jet Crash, Expert Says”-Really?
“Panda Mating Fails; Veterinarian Takes Over”- Hmmmm…okay.
“Miners Refuse to Work After Death”- Some people will do anything to get out of work, eh?
“War Dims Hope for Peace”- Now there’s an astute observation.
“Cold Wave Linked to Temperatures”- Ya think?
“Enfield (London) Couple Slain; Police Suspect Homicide”- No @#$% Sherlock!
“Red Tape Holds Up Bridges”-Ummm…I think I’ll just take the Ferry, if you don’t mind.
“Astronaut Takes Blame For Gas On Spacecraft.”-What, the Pepto didn’t work?
“Kids Make Nutritious Snacks”- Who wrote this…Hannibal Lecter?
“Hospital Sued by Seven Foot Doctors”-Those are some very tall doctors!
“Typhoon Rips Through Cemetery; Hundreds Dead”- ??? . For once,
I’ve got nothing to add.

“Writing headlines is a specialty-there are outstanding writers who will tell you they couldn’t write a headline to save their lives.” Bill Walsh (author/editor-1961- ).

Monday, November 21, 2011

ACHEY-BREAKY BACK NEWS

My apologies, Faithful Reader, it seems that I have been remiss in keeping you up to date on this writer’s ongoing back problems. Thank you for your inquiries into my health issues and, again, I apologize for feeding you enough information to get your curiosity up only to then discontinue the flow of news regarding the ongoing saga.
It was not my intention to keep you in the dark but writing for a weekly newspaper makes subject-picking very difficult especially when there are many more important issues to discuss than my achey-breaky back. Sorry, also, for the Billy Ray Cyrus reference. Try to get that tune out of your head now, ha ha. Sorry, once again, but I digress.
What I may have discovered, though, was that keeping people in suspense keeps them involved. That was the premise behind all of those old “serial” books, newspaper serials, movies and TV shows that fed you a certain amount of information about the plotline only to leave you hanging at the end of the chapter or episode… Da-da-daaaaaaa… “Tune in next week for the conclusion of….” and, of course, there was a sort of conclusion to the last episode but it would only lead to the cliffhanger for the next episode and on and on it goes.
We still find this continuing in today’s world in many venues from graphic novels, to comic books, to TV shows, to movies like the Harry Potter series that leave us hanging on until the next segment is released.
So…cue the suspenseful organ music for you are about to enter the next episode of…“What’s Up With His Back?”
Narrator’s deep baritone voice: “When last we heard, our victim was still awaiting another MRI to determine whether the April 28th microdiscectomy surgery, performed by Dr. Chris Ekong of the Regina General Hospital, had been effective enough to repair the damage incurred while our victim had been lifting his grandson into his carseat in the backseat of a truck on his way to the Wolseley Opera House to decorate the hall for his oldest daughter’s wedding causing an herniated disc which put him in the Wolseley Hospital overnight where he was injected with multiple drugs in order to be able to escort his daughter down the aisle the following day.
The drugs “did the trick”, as they say, and the victim and his daughter were able to make the trek down the aisle and later successfully perform the traditional “Father-Daughter” wedding dance without the aid of his newly-acquired but much-needed cane.
Still not knowing, at that time, that the disc was herniated our victim tried, in vain, to discover the source of his extreme pain and discomfort and was then put on the most horrible of things…DA…DA…DAAAAAAA!!!...THE WAITING LIST!
He waited for his doctor to send him to a specialist and he waited for his specialist to get him an MRI (the first time) and he waited for the results of the MRI and then he waited to see if non-invasive strategies like more drugs and exercises and laser treatments would ease the discomfort and repair the damaged disc but none of that worked so he waited weeks and weeks for surgery to repair the damage and then the surgery didn’t appear to have worked so he waited weeks and weeks, again, for another MRI which his surgeon would not deem “urgent” but then local nurse/hero Barbara Kuntz convinced the WAITING LIST OVERSEER to move up the MRI date and at last his waiting time was reduced from twenty weeks to the more acceptable twelve weeks of waiting and on the 14th of September the MRI was performed…but what will the results show?...stay tuned…”
It is now weeks later and the narrator continues: “The scan showed that he was just a slow healer, or something, and a bit of a crybaby, too, and the surgery according to the surgeon, in fact, had done what it was supposed to do even though there are still two bulging discs in his spine but they are not putting pressure on the nerve any more and our victim just has to come to grips with the fact that his leg will always be partially numb and he will experience shooting pain in his shin and ankle for months and maybe years to come so just “walk it off, not-so-young man and quit whining about it, things could be much worse”. The music fades…the picture fades…and our victim’s limp is mostly gone as he slowly walks away into the sunset still unsure he’ll ever be whole again… ‘Til next time on…“What’s Up With His Back?”
“This suspense is terrible. I hope it will last.”-Oscar Wilde (1854-1900).

WHAT A GREAT WEEKEND!!

I think I’m going to make it. It was touch and go there for a while but I’m pretty sure I will survive. Survive what, you ask? Why, the Remembrance Day weekend of course.
Over the course of the weekend of the 11th, 12th and 13th we had Remembrance Day, our son Nolan’s wedding in Regina, which was a beautiful event, and then there was the 25th edition of the Dale Blackstock Memorial Hockey Tournament here in Kipling. Trying to get to and get through all of the events was more than a bit of a challenge but we did it.
11-11-11 was not only Remembrance Day, which marks the anniversary of the official end of the World War I hostilities on November 11, 1918 but it is also a date which reoccurs every 100 years, when written in a 2-digit style. For various reasons people often ascribe different kinds of significance to dates and numbers, for example the 2011 “11-11-11” showed an increased number of marriages taking place in different areas throughout the world and babies born on this date also receive special media attention.
In fact, in Mount Holly, New Jersey, Jacob Anthony Saydeh was born at 11:11am on 11-11-11. Canadians call November 11th Remembrance Day and Americans call it Veteran’s Day and adding to the significance of Jacob’s timely birth, on Veteran’s Day no less, is the fact that his mother is an Air Force veteran and his father currently serves in the United States Air Force. I know. Weird, eh?
In Numerology: “11:11 represents the ultimate reunion of the Divine Masculine and Feminine, the collapsing of duality surrounding masculinity versus femininity, that there is no separation between the sexes, only unity. Two “ones” are united to form pillars to the heavenly gate…the connection between yin and yang, female and male. The significance of two into one is the perfect symbol of Twin Flame. Twin Flames are the other half of your soul.” This numerological meaning is why so many couples chose this date for their marriages.
I am pretty sure that numerology never entered into the discussion when the Kipling Royal’s Senior Hockey team met to decide when they should host the very first Dale Blackstock Memorial Hockey tournament back in 1987. Many times throughout the history of the tournament the event fell on and around the Remembrance Day holiday. This, as it turns out, was completely circumstantial. If memory serves me, the first available weekend to host the tournament, after the ice was put into the rink, was the 14th and 15th of November in 1987. The Royals’ executive badly needed the tournament’s proceeds for their contribution towards the expenses for the rink expansion that was going on in the fall of that year so we booked the first available date.
I am quite sure that for the first few tournaments all of the games were played on Saturdays and Sundays which, for people who find significance in these things, meant that the tournament avoided its start on Friday the 13th!
Due to all of the other activities going on in our lives during that weekend I missed getting to the rink for the first time in the history of the tournament but I did manage to make it to the celebratory post-tournament cabaret held at the Rec Centre and I certainly made up for lost time. So says my aching head. There was a huge crowd in attendance and the Alex Runions Band was fantastic putting an exclamation mark on one of the most successful and eventful tournaments.
The exhausting, fun-filled, memory making weekend will soon be over and I’m ready for a nap. I will be sleeping with a smile on my face, though.

“The creator of the universe works in mysterious ways, but he uses a base ten counting system and likes round numbers.”-Scott Adams (1957- ).

Thursday, October 27, 2011

MOUSE IN THE HOUSE

Right around this time every year we have an unwanted guest or two that sneaks into the house. No, it’s not one of the children trying to move back in, it’s those furry little vermin that are seeking a warm place to hide, a bit of food and a bathroom for their little black droppings. Yup, it’s mouse season.
The other night the wife and I were watching a bit of TV and one of the little buggers just walked across the kitchen doorway like he owned the place. Both of us screamed and he scurried back under the counter.
So I set up the trap and lo and behold we caught it the next morning. One down, I don’t know how many more to go. I reset the trap and, sure enough, we caught another one within a day or two. Happily, there’s been nothing since then and that’s about par for the course around here, one or two every fall and spring and that’s about it. Thankfully.
You know, they make the animated versions of these creatures look so cute like Mickey and Minnie Mouse or Pixie and Dixie from the old Hanna-Barbera cartoons but in reality they’re not that cute to me. Especially when I grew up in a house with six sisters and we lived in an old two story war-time house with a dirt basement which the mice loved to inhabit. I guess I just got sucked into all the girl’s hysteria, too, whenever one of the mice would make its appearance and the sisters would all be jumping up on the furniture and screaming and everything. Learned behaviour, you know. It didn’t help that Dad was a big tease and would chase us around with the mice he’d caught in the trap.
I remember staying at my sister and brother-in-law’s house on the farm, while I worked there for a summer or two during high school, and they had a bit of a mouse problem there, too. I slept in a converted office/den which the creatures used as their convention centre or something, it seemed, as there were crowds of them meeting in that room. I knew they were in the room with me and I got used to hearing them scurry around a bit but I drew the tolerance line when they bound across the bedcovers. Yuck!
I suppose there are worse things in the world, but still, they give me the creeps and you just never know what they’re getting into. I usually start my day with a bowl of porridge and the cereal mix is kept in the cupboard that the little beast had been caught coming out of. Once he/she was caught I didn’t give it much thought until I poured some of the cereal mixture into a bowl and because of my faulty vision I was unsure whether the dark brown/black things in the mixture were flax seeds or was this mouse using my cereal as his/her litter box. Again, yuck! And again, thankfully, it was flax seed this time and the cereal mix is going into a Tupperware container from now on.
Legend has it that Walt Disney got his inspiration for his Mickey Mouse character from a “cute”, (his word not mine), pet mouse that he either had when he was growing up or one that he befriended at a studio he was working at early in his career. He was even quoted as saying that he loved Mickey Mouse more than any woman he’d ever known! Really? Must have been an interesting tidbit of information for his wife of forty-plus years. I’m guessing they must have had an understanding. Whatever. Different strokes for different folks, I guess, but one of the last animals that I’d want as a pet would be a mouse. But that’s just me.
I’m not sure if I’m related to this guy I’m quoting but I sure like the way he thinks:
“One of the simple but genuine pleasures in life is getting up in the morning and hurrying to a mousetrap you set the night before.”-Kin Hubbard (1868-1930).

Thursday, October 13, 2011

LIFE AFTER PEOPLE:THE SERIES-WHO FREAKIN' CARES!

After watching a few of the baseball playoff games the other night I was flipping through the channels trying to find something to watch and I tuned into the History Channel which usually has some interesting viewing on it. The show that was on when I tuned in was Life After People: The Series. I had never watched it before so I tuned in for a while.
According to History.com their “hit”, (their word not mine), “thought provoking” and “amazing” series- “Life After People: The Series-begins in the moments after people disappear. As each day, month and year passes, the fate of a particular environment, city or theme is disclosed. Special effects, combined with interviews from top experts in the fields of engineering, botany, biology, geology and archaeology provide an unforgettable visual journey through the ultimately hypothetical.”
I found myself thinking, how is this useful information? Who cares? Does it really matter what happens after mankind is wiped out? Is there some kind of ultimate purpose to the current residents of planet Earth on how long it would take Air Force One to blow itself up in five to ten years after all of the people on the planet have expired? Or what will happen to the Alaskan Pipeline, Mount Rushmore, Lost Art, Trash, Sea Vessels or Wrigley Field?
They present the show like it’s a murder mystery, too. The baritone voiced narrator tells of the destruction in a strained and sinister voice matching an Alfred Hitchcock-like thriller soundtrack as though we’re watching a horror movie.
The show begins: “Fade in to a view of Wrigley Field while sinister music plays in the background. Narrator breaks in:-(A deep strained and sinister baritone voice)-One year after people…there is no crew to maintain Wrigley Field…these vines have been flourishing since 1937 but without a grounds crew to give them their monthly trimming the ivy threatens to take over the whole stadium (Da, DA, DAAAAA)…Five years after people…the ivy has crawled up and blanketed the stands…decades after people, Wrigley Field is almost unrecognizable (ominous music strains to a crescendo)…” UNRECOGNIZABLE TO WHOM??!! Oh, the destruction! Oh, the horrible things that will happen…AFTER HUMANS ARE GONE and NOBODY will be here to CARE!
Yes, I know what you’re thinking. Just use your remote, man. Stop torturing yourself by watching it. But here’s the thing, I wasn’t “thought provoked” or “amazed” by their subject matter as much as I was astounded by the fact that anyone would waste their money putting this show on about stuff that doesn’t really matter. Shouldn’t we be putting these kinds of resources and efforts into something meaningful?
Yes, some of the information presented in the show was interesting and my mind is as inquisitive as the next but I would much rather see a production company occupying the minds of these experts in engineering, botany, biology etc. by using their expertise to make sure that mankind isn’t wiped out by its own destructive tendencies instead of imagining what will happen if it does. Maybe we should put our resources into saving our oceans or reducing greenhouse gases and cleaning up polluted water sources or finding real and sustainable alternatives to oil and leave the mind-numbing, useless television productions to the likes of Jersey Shore or something.
“There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.”-Peter Drucker (1909-2005).

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Is It Too Much To Ask For A Little Effort Out There!?

I received a phone call the other day from a regular reader of this column asking for my humble opinion regarding the Saskatchewan Roughriders latest poor outing. Well, George, I’ll tell you what I think in that regard. In a word or two…it stunk! Really stunk!
I wouldn’t normally use up this whole space to whine about a sports team…but since you asked…I’m gonna let loose.
I was reminded of the owner/general manager, Joe McGrath, of the Charlestown Chiefs in the 1977 movie Slap Shot shouting out between periods that, “ WE’RE LOSING!!! THEY’RE BURYING US ALIVE OUT THERE!!” in reference to the team’s listless performance in a playoff game after the Chiefs had been winning a lot of games. Any ‘Rider fan could have been shouting out those same words during either of the last two games that the ‘Riders have played, or not played, as it were.
Being outscored 82-8 in two games is beyond embarrassing. Coach Ken Miller defended his team after their loss to the B.C. Lions at home on the 24th of September saying, “We weren’t playing well collectively and I don’t know the reason for that. In the final plays of the game we played with tremendous effort offensively and defensively and we’re not playing like a team that is flat. For some reason, we’re unsynchronized and not playing well together. That’s the thing I have to get figured out. They played with tremendous effort.’’
How does that old saying go, fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice shame on me, or something like that. Okay, Ken, we’ll buy the old “there was tremendous effort but it just didn’t work out this time” for the B.C. game but not that stinker that they listlessly waded through in Calgary on the 1st of October. Generally speaking, there was no discernable effort there that I could see. Sure, some guys were trying but the team as a whole definitely looked flat in this one.
Especially at this time of year, I am reminded of the by-gone days of pick up full-tackle football games that a bunch of us Kipling guys would play in the “Little School Yard”. Any one of us would have given up anything, well almost anything, to have been privileged enough to have taken our football talents to a professional level. These professional athletes have to be aware that there is a degree of obligation to the fan base for them to put forth their best effort. Every game.
Everyone has their good days and their bad days but these guys are playing a game for a living. A game! And it’s a pretty good living at that. According to my sources the average salary for a CFL football player is $100,000.00. Some make a lot more some make less but 100K is the average. Who wouldn’t want to play a game for a hundred grand a year? And on top of that they only play about twenty-one to twenty-four games a year including exhibition games and playoffs. If they make it into the playoffs, that is.
Yes, I also know that their professional football careers aren’t very long on average but still, during their playing careers the season only lasts six months and, while I will admit that they do have to spend some of their off-season time in training, basically they’re working for half a year. Could you do that at your job? Me either.
I don’t think that we loyal followers of the Green Machine, wonky as it is, are out of line at all by demanding some effort here. Wins and losses will come and go and realistically the ‘Riders can’t win it all every year, as much as we want them to, but at least put in an effort to justify the salaries and give us some incentive to continue to put 32,000 fans into the old Mosaic Stadium at Taylor Field.
So again, George, that’s my humble opinion on that topic. Thank you for the compliments and for giving me a subject to write about this week. It was also cathartic for me to vent my frustration in regards to our team. Thanks again, I needed that.
“In reality, serendipity accounts for one percent of the blessings we receive in life, work and love. The other 99 percent is due to our efforts.”-Peter McWilliams (1949-2000).

Can I eat this?

I’m confused. I know that seems like my standard state of being but today I’m more confused than usual. I just read an article that stated that salt is actually good for you. Really? Make up your mind already. Same thing with eggs. Are they good for you or not? How about coffee. Yes or no? There are so many conflicting theories out there that it’s hard to make proper choices anymore.
Right now Health Canada has it in for salt. They say that about half of all Canadians are consuming more than double the daily recommended dose. Others say that Health Canada’s stance on salt is outdated and doesn’t reflect the most recent studies. Yes, iodized table salt is apparently not good for you because it has all the good stuff that’s in it refined right out of it, but if you reduce your sodium intake too much then you will die. That is a fact. The article only states that you need sodium to live but doesn’t say where to get the recommended daily dose of good sodium from. My research tells me that if you still want your salt then pink crystal sea salt is the best one to use.
How about eggs? I went to a dietician regarding my high cholesterol and she told me that eggs are a no-no, which is true for me given that I am more “genetically sensitive to dietary cholesterol” than the average Joe, so then eating eggs just comes down to a person’s own personal health situation rather than stating whether eggs are either good for you or bad for you.
What about carbohydrates? Another article I read tells me that wheat flour is possibly the worst thing a person can ingest into their body. Apparently, over time, the wheat plant has been so genetically played with that the proteins in one of the world’s largest staple foods are all messed up. This might be a reason why so many people are on a gluten-free diet. When you live in the “Bread Basket of the World” this isn’t good news at all. The chances are pretty slim, though, that large amounts of people are going to immediately give up bread, buns, cakes, donuts, cookies, pies, pancakes, gravy, cereal etc. anytime soon, unless they have to.
I thought the old “coffee stunts growth” myth had been thrown out years ago but in my research on whether coffee is good or bad for us I found out that that old theory still persists. I’ve been drinking coffee for as long as I can remember and I’m 6 feet 3 inches tall so I’d hate to think how tall I’d have been had I not drank all that coffee. In fact, in the Hubbard family it was requirement for each child to learn how to make a pot of coffee before you turned six. We just loved our coffee! Out of the nine coffee drinking Hubbard children I think the shortest is 5’7” or 5’8”. I wouldn’t call that stunted. Is coffee good or bad? Some research says yes some research says no, I say, again, it depends on how your body reacts to it.
The human body is one amazing machine though, isn’t it? And it’s astonishing how much crap our bodies can endure, digest and live through. I am not saying that we shouldn’t pay heed to some of these Chicken Little panic-maesters telling us what and what not to eat but I am saying that if we use a little common sense and adhere to the other Golden Rule-“Everything in Moderation” then we’ll be just fine. Oh, and one more thing…don’t believe everything you read.
“Never go to excess, but let moderation be your guide.”- Cicero (106 BC - 43 BC).

It's a television world.

Recently, while we were in the middle of our house renovations, we had to remove the satellite dish from the side of the house so we lost our TV signal for a couple of days. I know! Two days without TV?! How absolutely medieval. I managed to survive but it sure opened my eyes as to how much I was relying on the bloody thing.
But can you imagine? Right when the fall lineup of new TV shows are coming on and the baseball pennant races are heating up and the ‘Riders have won three in-a-row and the NFL and NHL are about to start up again and you lose your TV? I shudder at the thought.
I’m not the only TV addict in the house, mind you. I am sure that my wife’s greatest fear is that something very serious is going to happen to me and she won’t know which remote does what to which machine. Well, maybe it’s not her GREATEST fear but I think it’d be up there. It’s not that she is incapable of operating remotes, that goes without saying, but she’s never been given much of an opportunity to do so.
I’m pretty sure our household is not alone in that regard, with both the TV watching and the controlling of the remote control, that is. And apparently I’m not the only sports fanatic in the world either. In the United States four out of the top ten and eight out of the top fifteen most watched shows of all time were sporting events. In Canada the top five are all sporting events. And yes, four out of those five involve hockey.
Although sporting events like the Olympics and FIFA’s World Cup Finals are watched by almost billions of people other events have captured our attention, too. It is estimated that 14% of the world’s population in 1969 watched Neil Armstrong walk on the moon despite the fact that the event occurred in the middle of the night in Europe and it was not broadcast at all in Eastern Bloc countries.
If there was any doubt that Elvis Presley was the King of Rock ‘n Roll then his “Aloha from Hawaii” concert in January of 1973 is proof positive. The event was the "first entertainment special to be broadcast live around the world" and was the most watched broadcast by an individual entertainer in television history, viewed by an estimated 1.5 billion people worldwide. Some breakdowns of the figures suggest that 40% of the Japanese television audience, 51% of the American and 91.8% of the audience in the Philippines tuned in to the broadcast.
I was surprised to fine out that the world’s first mechanical television system was patented by German engineering student Paul Nipkow in 1884. The first regularly scheduled television service in the United States began in 1928 but network television broadcasts began on the DuMont Television Network in 1946, NBC in 1947 and on CBS and ABC in 1948. The Canadian Broadcasting Company began television broadcasting in Canada in September of 1952. We’ve been up to here in TV ever since.
There have been a whole lot of innovations and advances in the ol’ Boob-Tube since its inception back in the day; from the grainy old black and white images to today’s 3D television and everything in between. One thing that hasn’t really changed in all of that time is our obsession with all things TV. If there was any doubt about that just try to go without it for a day or two and you’ll see.
“Television is the first truly democratic culture-the first culture available to everybody and entirely governed by what the people want. The most terrifying thing is what people do want.”- Clive Barnes (1927-2008).

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

THE WORLD DID CHANGE ON SEPTEMBER 11TH, 2001

Typically I end this column with a quote pertaining to the subject matter of the article. Today, I am going to start my column with a quote from David Letterman. On September 17th, 2001, the “Late Night With David Letterman” show returned to the airwaves barely a week after September 11th, 2001, when 19 terrorists from the Islamist militant group al-Qaeda hijacked four passenger jets and flew two of them into the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers in New York, one into the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, and United Airlines Flight 93 crashed into a field in Pennsylvania after passengers attempted to take control of the airplane before it reached its Washington D. C. target.
Of the many quotes that I have heard or read regarding the events of September 11th, 2001, the following quote from David Letterman has stuck with me for the past decade. He said, “As I understand it-and my understanding of this is vague, at best- another small group of people stole some airplanes and crashed them into buildings. And we’re told that they were zealots fueled by religious fervor-RELIGIOUS FERVOR. And if you live to be a thousand years old, will that make any sense to you? Will that make any goddamned sense?”
Do you remember where you were and what you were doing that day? I do. Every generation has their seminal moments when they can recall exactly what they were doing and where they were when huge moments in history were taking place. For my Mom and Dad and their peers it could be V Day ending World War II, or the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki or when John F. Kennedy was shot. For my older brothers and sisters it might be when Elvis or the Beatles first appeared on Ed Sullivan. For me and many of my peers it was when Paul Henderson got the winning goal in the 1972 Summit Series. Whatever the event, there are moments that will linger in our consciousness forever. 9/11 was certainly one of those moments for me.
It is not an understatement to say that the world was forever changed on that day. Some pundits would question whether 9/11 was as world-altering an event as the mainstream media make it out to be but how could it not be?
Whether you’re a conspiracy theorist that thinks that the George W. Bush administration orchestrated the whole thing in an effort to secure oil reserves in the Middle East, or you’re a world business traveler dealing with the newer intense security measures in the world’s airports or you’re a Muslim wanting to just lead a quiet good life without being looked at like you were personally responsible for the heinous actions of a relatively small radical group associated with your religion, the world has most definitely changed.
“102 Minutes That Changed the World” is a two-hour documentary that provides a rare and intensely personal look at the world-changing events that took place on September 11th, 2001. 102 minutes is how much time passed between the first plane that crashed into the World Trade Center and the collapse of the second tower. The documentary is an evocative memorial to the 2,603 lives lost and a reminder of just how much our world has changed since that tragic day. It’s not easy to watch, but if you get a chance to view this documentary please do. 9/11 is one more monumental life-changing event that we should never, ever forget.
“Time is passing. Yet, for the United States of America, there will be no forgetting September the 11th. We will remember every rescuer who died in honor. We will remember every family that lives in grief. We will remember the fire and ash, the last phone calls and the funerals of the children. “
- President George W. Bush, November 11, 2001.

Monday, September 5, 2011

SERIOUSLY?! HALLOWEEN TREATS ALREADY?

I know that I state the obvious too much, but I still can’t believe how fast time goes by. It just seems like yesterday that Kipling and the world were celebrating “Saskatchewan’s Biggest Housewarming Party” here, but that was five years ago already! I know! Where’d the time go?
As if time doesn’t go by fast enough we are continuously reminded of distant events being just around the corner. You know what I’m talking about, don’t you? Sears’ “Wish Book” Christmas catalogue is already out. And there are displays of Halloween candy in the stores, too. Halloween candy? Seriously? Can’t we get through Summer first? And don’t even get me started on that whole “Back to School” sales thing going on in the last week of July. C’mon.
The leaves haven’t even started turning on the trees, yet, and we’re planning an event two, three or four months away? Not only that, but what’s the expiration date on the stuff you’re going to be handing out to the trick or treating children in a couple of months? That’s all we need to do is hand out stale stuff and have the lil bugg…darlings come back for revenge.
It’s not like Halloween’s going to sneak up on anybody is it? It’s still on the 31st of October, right? Nobody’s moved it to September or something without me knowing about it, have they? But it is good marketing too though, isn’t it? I know that if we were to buy some Halloween products right now the stuff wouldn’t last two months in my cupboard so I’d be replenishing the whole lot a few times over between now and October 31st.
What about “seizing the day” or “live every day to the fullest” without worrying about Christmas gifts in September or backpacks and school supplies in July like every “life coach” or Oprah psychologist is telling us to do to have a happy and stress-less life. That’s pretty hard to do when you’re walking through a mall in July looking for some flip-flops or something and all you can find are parkas and backpacks. It’s hard not to get the nerves going and the pressure building when you’re thinking “Should I be doing something else? What event am I not preparing for?” I even feel the “Back to School” pressure and we haven’t had any kids in school for nearly five years! Panic can set in easily enough, can’t it?
Oh yes, of course, I can’t forget about you keeners out there who are all excited when the Wish Book arrives so you can get a jump on the Christmas shopping and you’ve got your “Back to School” supplies before the kids get home from Summer Camp and everything but you must know that you are in the minority, don’t you? Why else would the rest of us have to put up with three-month marketing blitzes to remind us of what’s coming up? Good for you keeners, though! I’m so happy for the five of you.
Maybe, just maybe, if we can live long enough, the events will correct themselves over time and the marketers will be so far ahead of next year that it’ll be this year, if you know what I mean? One can always dream, can’t one?
“I never think of the future - it comes soon enough.”-Albert Einstein (1879-1955).

Thursday, September 1, 2011

WOULD YOU KILL ME IF I ASKED YOU TO?

The other night I was watching the movie “Sanctum” and there was a moral dilemma near the end of the movie. I don’t want to spoil the movie for anyone who hasn’t seen it but suffice it to say that someone had to make the extremely hard decision to terminate the life of another person that they were very, very close to in order to save that person from a lot of suffering. Make sense? Anyway, I am a proponent and supporter of euthanasia, under certain circumstances, and when I was presented with the ultimate question I thought I would put pen to paper or fingers to keys, as it were, and put my thoughts into verse. Morbid subject, I know, but we all have to face the Grim Reaper sometime and I don’t want to go out rotting away on a hospital bed, if I can help it. The following poem is the result. Enjoy, or not.

WOULD YOU KILL ME IF I ASKED YOU TO?

If I was suffering and the end was in sight
And there’s no other option when I’ve lost the fight.
Would you help me out and end my pain
Could you look past our love and just be humane?

If I’m crippled and broken and whizzing the bed
And I’m drooling and wheezing and I’ve lost my head
If I’m wearing “Depends” and shitin’ my pants
And I’ve more things in common with our garden plants?

If there’s no way at all I’ll be escaping this doom
And the possibility is lost on leaving this room.
Could you bend over gently and bid me adieu
When my life here on Earth is most definitely through?

Could you assist me at all like I would to you?
Would you end my life if you really had to?
If I couldn’t go on living the way that I was
Would you pull the plug despite the dumb laws?

A bedridden woman whom I knew all too well
Was just laying in wait for her death knell.
“Honey, this isn’t living” she once said to me,
“I’m a prisoner of pain and I yearn to be free.”

Morbid thoughts you are saying? Is that what this is?
And nobody should play God; all these decisions are His.
You can think what you will but we can’t all agree
About who, when or what should stop the agony.


My feelings lay bare now you know how I think
So you’ll all know what to do when I’m on the brink.
Put your feelings aside kiss my forehead good-bye
It may be terribly hard, but we all have to die.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

SHUDDUP ALREADY ABOUT JACK'S FUNERAL BEING OVER THE TOP

Hey, all of you conservative-right-wing-nuts lay off about the outpouring of grief for Jack Layton being over the top. You're just embarrassing yourselves and showing your true colours as usual. Jack Layton had qualities that your leader yearns to have. It's pretty obvious, when millions of Canadians are showing their grief, that he touched a lot of lives and your whiny "he's not worthy" diatribe is not achieving anything but showing how you can never leave the "Party Line", partisanship and politicking behind and just be human beings, which is very ironic to me because that is exactly what Jack Layton did in his political life. He wanted to work with all people regardless of political leanings, race, religion or sexual preference.

MAYBE I'M NOT SO BAD OFF AFTER ALL

I was all prepared to do another big long whiny rant about health-care waiting times and how the different factions within our health care system work against each other and not with each other in the effort to provide healthcare to the province’s residents, who are mainly responsible for the funding of this system, and how a phone call from our local doctor’s office did more for me than my letters, emails and phone calls to I don’t know how many people and how if there is a twenty-week waiting period after a failed surgery to get an MRI perhaps this would indicate that there is a shortage of MRI machines in the province and if the administration and bureaucracy of the province’s Health Regions weren’t sucking up all of the infrastructure dollars maybe we could afford to purchase another MRI machine or two and if Saskatchewan is truly the place to be with so much happening and we’re so well off maybe additional money should be allocated to more doctors and nurses and technicians and hospitals RIGHT NOW…but that’s such a downer, eh? There’s enough bad news out there so you really shouldn’t have to be subjected to more of it.
On the positive side, though, I did get an MRI appointment twelve-and-a-half weeks after the requisition was sent in instead of the twenty weeks that I was told I’d have to wait. Thanks to all of the Kipling Medical Clinic Staff, and Barb in particular, for helping me with that.
In the great scheme of things, though, my aches and pains and frustration with the system are nothing compared to what many others are going through right now. An old roommate of mine, and one of my best friends over the past thirty-five-plus-years, is fighting that evil robber of human lives, Cancer, and has thirty-three rounds of nasty treatments to look forward to in the upcoming months. My problems pale in comparison to his.
Another buddy of mine just lost some toes to his healthcare battle so I think I’m going to take some time to put things into perspective here. I am not excusing the medical system for my treatment, or lack thereof, as it were, but I will acknowledge that there are many other people that are in far worse condition than I am.
And then there’s Jack Layton. One more victim of that evil faceless robber. What can you say about Jack? I had the good fortune of hearing him speak at a Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association convention while he was the President of the Canadian Federation of Municipalities. He was inspirational then and he was an inspiration right up until he succumbed to Cancer.
While one columnist for the National Post, Christie Blatchford, called the outpouring of grief for Jack Layton “over the top”; another columnist, John Moore, offered this response explaining why he thought that the coverage of Jack Layton’s death was appropriate, “People liked Jack as a man and his sunny celebration of our country was infectious. The Prime Minister has recognized this unique bond by making the unprecedented offer of a state funeral. There’s a reason why Canadians mourn this week. It’s the appreciation of personal qualities and uncompromised political vision that they wish all politicians drew on.”
Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and everyone should read both articles to judge their merits, but I’ll agree with John Moore. There seems to be fewer and fewer politicians with Jack’s integrity, energy, work ethic and optimism. We need more Jack Laytons in the world and while we mourn the loss of a great political leader we must all pay heed to his last words of inspiration.
“My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.”-Jack Layton (1950-2011).

MY MOM CELEBRATES 90 YEARS YOUNG!

In 1921 the Bluenose was launched, Prohibition came to an end in British Columbia, Frederick Banting and Charles Best invented insulin, Canadian women exercised their right to vote for the first time and in 1921 Farley Mowat, Maurice Richard, Monte Hall and my Mom, Rose Christine Vedres, were born. There were others, too, of course, but these were some of the more notable ones.
That’s right; my Mom is going to celebrate her 90th birthday on August the 30th. Wow, ninety years. Just think of all the history and all of the changes in the world that Mom would have seen over those ninety years.
Mom was born at the beginning of the “Roaring ‘20’s” but I don’t know how “roaring” it was in Bender or Inchkeith during her family’s stay in those places in the 1920’s. I do know that they left this area for greener pastures in the early 1930’s and Mom’s family, like so many other prairie families, had to endure the “Dirty Thirties” as The Great Depression hit the world.
At the end of the 1930’s Mom was to meet her soul mate in Lowell Hubbard and they were married in October of 1940. The young couple’s marriage began while World War II raged on. The Allies won the war in 1945, Adolf Hitler committed suicide, the U.S. dropped Atomic Bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and The Cold War began. Other notable happenings in the 1940’s were the introduction of the T-shirt, the microwave oven was invented, the first computer was built, the slinky and Polaroid cameras were invented, the bikini was introduced and Lowell and Rose Hubbard brought a boy and three girls into the world.
The 1950s are sometimes referred to as the Golden Age. Color TV was invented, the polio vaccine was discovered, Disneyland opened and Elvis gyrated his hips on The Ed Sullivan Show. The Cold War continued as the Space Race between the United States and the Soviet Union began. The ’50 also saw the Hungarian Revolution unfold, the popularity of the hula hoop explode, Dr. Suess wrote The Cat in the Hat, and Fidel Castro became the dictator of Cuba. Rose and Lowell, having vowed to have only two children, completely broke that vow by following up the four 1940’s kids by having two more girls followed by two more boys and then one more girl in the 1950’s. Nine kids in all!
In the 1960’s we endured the Cuban Missile Crisis, the launch of the first man, Yuri Gagarin, into space, the Beatlemania explosion and the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy. The Vietnam War raged on prompting mass protests while “Make Love Not War!” and “Peace” became the hippies’ mantra. Canada unveiled its new flag and Pierre Elliot Trudeau was first elected Prime Minister of Canada in 1968. Lowell joined the United Church of Canada’s Ministry in 1963 perhaps seeking the assistance of God to raise their teenaged daughters and sons through the “Generation Gap” age of the 1960’s.
I just realized that I have almost taken up all of my allotted space for this column and I have only covered half of the life that my Mom has lived. At least it will give you a good idea of how much history can happen in one lifetime. I guess I have two options- 1.) condense the next forty-five years or 2.) make this a serial and continue on with the history for another few newspaper issues. I think I better go with number 1.
I will forgo the parallel history of the next forty-five years and say that Mom and Dad thoroughly enjoyed their life together. Mom lost the “Love of Her Life” in 1990, after having shared fifty years together, and their legacy lives on through their nine children, twenty-five grand children, thirty-five great-grand children and four great-great-grandchildren.
Mom still lives on her own in Medicine Hat and is amazingly healthy and hardy for a ninety-years young individual. It is hard to fathom the number of lives that have been affected by Rose Hubbard’s life. She came from a big family, she created a big family and she will be celebrating her birthday on the 27th of August with so many of the family members that she so cherishes as they cherish her. Happy 90th Birthday Mom!

“In spite of illness, in spite even of the archenemy sorrow, one can remain alive long past the usual date of disintegration if one is unafraid of change, insatiable in intellectual curiosity, interested in big things, and happy in small ways.”-Edith Wharton –(1862-1937).

I MISS MY GARDEN

Did any of you get your garden planted this year? Unfortunately we didn’t and boy do we miss it now. Our garden spot was a slough until the middle of June so that pretty much convinced us to abandon those plans for the year. After it dried up we threw in a few onion plants and we’ve got one patio tomato plant. Big whoop. Not that we had a huge garden before but it was a nice little patch that provided us with a lot of fresh produce over the years.
I miss the produce and Deb misses the garden. Her garden was her sanctuary. She always did the planning and the planting and she even misses the weeding, if you can imagine. You know, you can take the girl out of the farm but you cant’ take the farm out of the girl, eh? Me? I just miss eating the stuff.
Actually, we make a pretty decent team when it comes to the gardening. She grows the stuff and I deal with a lot of the finished products. In fact, one year we had such a bumper crop of tomatoes that we had salsa, chili sauce, spaghetti sauce, tomato soup, canned tomatoes and anything else that you could make with fresh tomatoes coming out of our ears.
The biggest problem that year was that Deb was on crutches, with her leg in a cast after breaking her ankle in a GOLFING accident, yes, you read that right, a golfing accident, (a story for another time, though), and I had one arm in a sling from shoulder surgery. Of course, this was back in the days when it didn’t take the medical system more than a year to get something fixed on you, but I digress. Anyway, here’s the one-legged lady and the one-armed man struggling with basket after basket of tomatoes while trying not to become another injury victim in their very own kitchen. I believe we got everything made with nary a new scar.
It was always an August treat to get the fresh peas from the garden and make up a big batch of “zoldborsoleves scipetke tesztaval”, or green pea soup with pinched noodles for you non-Hungarians. In fact, I couldn’t stop thinking about that soup so this weekend I made a big pot of it substituting the Green Giant’s baby peas for garden fresh. It was close but not quite like it could be, you know?
I don’t know of a market-garden nearby and I don’t know of many people with an abundance of garden-fresh produce this year so I had considered climbing a fence or two to seek out some fresh peas but I haven’t raided a garden since the summer of ’71, or so, and I’m a little beyond fence climbing right now anyway; so the Green Giant’s garden it was. Again, it was close, but it wasn’t garden fresh despite what the bag said.
That’s the thing too though, isn’t it? If you were one of the fortunate ones to have persevered and to have gotten your garden planted and are seeing the fruits of your labours coming forth now, then you had better consider a live scarecrow or two for that garden. It won’t just be the birds that you’ll be looking to keep out of there this year.
So if anyone sees a 6’3”, 230lb limping man schmutrooking, (as my Mom would say), or lurking, around their garden patch in the wee small hours of the morning, it won’t be me. It might look an awful lot like me but it won’t be me. Trust me.

“The best fertilizer is the gardener's shadow.” ~Author Unknown

Monday, August 8, 2011

YOU CALL THIS CUSTOMER SERVICE?

I know I shouldn’t air all of my dirty laundry through this column, but on the other hand, it hasn’t really stopped me before, so here we go.
A little while ago my internet e-mail provider decided that it was time for an upgrade and they said that there would be a brief interruption of services as they “improved the e-mail platform to enhance its benefits”. Okay, whatever, the old one wasn’t very good so any effort to improve it would be, well, an improvement, so go ahead, enhance away.
They stated that: “Every effort will be made to complete your upgrade during the early morning hours, but may continue into the day.” That warning was issued on June 9th for the June 28th upgrade. We’re into August, now, so “continuing into the day” has kind of stretched out a bit, don’t you think? They’re still ironing out a few wrinkles but, again, whatever, just don’t lose my stuff and you can improve my e-mail to your heart’s content.
In the notice given to their users about the upgrade they never said anything about backing up your files or your address book, or anything, they just said there might be a slow down on your already too-slow system and the “new and improved” webmail will be available as soon as the conversion was completed. To their credit they had the new system in place by the 29th of June, as promised, but “completed” would be a debatable term.
Gone was my address book. Gone were all my sent files, which, of course, I had been using as a sort of cyber filing cabinet, but the new “enhanced” system looked better and seemed more user friendly but my stuff was gone. I need my stuff! Where did it go?
And never mind all of you “techie” wizards out there that are all…tsk, tsk, tsk...and shaking your heads with your rueful smiles going, “What a fool! You didn’t back up your stuff? You always back up your stuff! Every day, Dummy! You’re just asking for trouble, you know, when you don’t do your back ups.” I know, I know, but, I don’t, and millions of others don’t, either. Do backups that is.
Regardless, my stuff is lost so I send in a query to their “Customer Relations” department at “consumer.support@__________” e-mail address to inquire of their “Customer Services Team” as to where my files are. Their response: “We appreciate the time you have taken to write us, and we acknowledge receipt of your request. We are currently addressing your inquiry and will be contacting you within 48 hours (two business days).” Huh? Two days?! Do you have any idea what “Customer Relations, Consumer Support or Customer Service” means? I guess not.
So I send them a lecture about what “Customer Service” is supposed to mean and how the timeline is unacceptable and everything and what do I get for a response? Yup, you guessed it…“We appreciate the time you have taken….blah, blah, blah…48 hours…blah, blah, blah.” You cannot be serious?
By this time they’ve at least restored my address book but not my sent files so every 48 hours I send them a new e-mail asking where my old sent files are. Finally, they respond by emailing me that I have to phone the HELP line to talk to a “Customer Relations” specialist, or something, in an effort to finally find a solution to the whole schmozzle. A schmozzle of their creation, mind you!
Guess what? “All of our representatives are currently busy…your call is important to us (BULLDROPPINGS!!!)…please stay on the line and a Customer Relations Representative will address your concerns within…pause… (different voice)…15 minutes.” What!? I have to phone you to be put on hold for 15 minutes so you can tell me how you lost my files over a month ago? Really!? Oh the agony! Thank goodness I have been dealing with our health care system for the last eleven months so I am quite used to non-service service, if you know what I mean?
So off goes another e-mail to their “Customer Service Team” stating that I want THEM to call ME. How do you think that’ll go over? Me too. We’ll see what they say in about…oh…48 hours.

“How much of human life is lost in waiting?” Ralph Waldo Emerson-(1803-1882).

THIS OLD MONEY PIT


There seems to be a bit of confusion as to the age of the old house that our family has occupied since 1993. Pioneers and Progress, the History of Kipling and District (1882-1998), state that Dr. Sylvere and Maria Falardeau built this house in 1920. The Town of Kipling’s assessment says that it was built in 1919. Chances are that the house was started in 1919 and completed in 1920 but, regardless, this place is old.
I believe that we are the fifth family to occupy this residence over the past 92 years. Throughout that time every previous owner of the house had added their own adjustments and renovations and by the time we were ready to buy it the realtor’s favourite adjectives, and the prospective buyer’s red flag words-“character home” and “potential” were being used for the property.
However, we loved the old place and we moved in while we were doing the first and, until now, the biggest renovation job of the past eighteen years. I can recall stripping away the years and years of decades-old fashion from the living room walls as layer after layer of gaudy wall paper and interesting paint colours came off revealing each era’s taste in home decorating. Stripping the old “battleship linoleum” off of the kitchen floor was a chore that would more closely resemble a form of punishment than a handyman’s task but, in the end, the finished product was worth the effort.
There were many modern conveniences added to the house over the years but there are still some of the original fixtures in use, too, like some of the upstairs light fixtures, the second floor bedroom doors with their original locks, the banisters and of course the maple hardwood flooring. The old place creaks and groans and sometimes the cross breezes make the old doors rattle in the too-loose locksets giving more “character” to this old “character home”.
This year, in an effort to offset our carbon imprint and to lessen our huge monthly contributions to SaskEnergy and SaskPower’s profit margins, we decided that we would install new windows, siding and upgrade the insulation. Well, upgrade is a bit of a misnomer as there would have had to have been some insulation in the walls to make it an upgrade. I don’t think you can “upgrade” from nothing or the .00001 R value of the scant wood chips and horsehair that was supposedly passing for insulation in our exterior walls. Until now, a wintertime infra-red picture of this old house would have revealed a great big red glowing ball.
During the most recent visit from my Mom she reminded me of the coincidental fact that back in 1970 it was in this very house that she and Dad were invited to dine with then owners D. A. (Alex) and May Cunningham. That spring Mom and Dad had come to Kipling for Dad’s interview with Kipling United Church’s Official Board, of which D.A. was the Chair, for the minister’s position at the Kipling-Windthorst Pastoral Charge. In spite of D.A. and Dad’s politically opposed viewpoints their theological opinions meshed and D.A. greatly influenced Dad in accepting the position and they remained good friends from that day on. Obviously Dad took the position and he, Mom and the last three of their brood of nine moved to Kipling and the rest, as they say, is history.

“Old houses mended,
Cost little less than new before they ’re ended.”- Colley Cibber, The Double Gallant, Prologue; English actor & dramatist (1671 – 1757).

I CAN HANDLE THE HEAT


“Wasn’t that a corker!” my late Mother-in-law used to say when an unusual event occurred. I was thinking that exact thing on Tuesday the 19th of July when the temperature here hit 35+ degrees Celsius and the humidex went over 42 degrees or something. Even for a heat lover like me it seemed a bit excessive. That particular day we were in Regina, at yet one more health-related appointment, and it was so hot that we chose to keep the top up on the convertible and crank up the air conditioner instead to get some relief. It has got to be really, really hot for me to seek out an air conditioner for relief.
The excessive heat triggered memories of my “Alberta experiment” of the late 1970’s. You see, waaaayyy back when, I was a scrawny directionless twenty-one year old living in Kipling with my Mom and Dad and floating from job to job, enjoying my life of leisure, mind you, when my Dad and my oldest brother, who lived in Redcliff Alberta at the time, thought it would be a good idea for me to head out to Alberta with him and get my collective “act” together, so to speak. The prospects for employment were greater and more varied than in Saskatchewan and my job-hopping rut needed to be broken. So I was told.
To that end, in July of 1978, off I went with him and within a week of my arrival I had landed a job at the Domglas Inc. glass factory. Well, talk about heat!! Yikes! But, first of all, I will familiarize you with the summer weather conditions of southeastern Alberta, and more specifically, the Medicine Hat-Redcliff locations. It requires only one word…HOT. Okay, maybe two words…EXTEMELY HOT. But as long as there was a swimming pool nearby or a garden hose, even, for some respite, I didn’t mind the heat all that much. But standing in front of the bottle and jar-making machines at the glass factory was another story.
Domglas Inc. were the manufacturers of many varied glass products in clear, brown and green glass. They made the stubby little beer bottles that were the norm back then, (120 per minute, in fact), and they made whiskey bottles, pop bottles, wine jugs and Cheeze Whiz jars, oh how I hated making those Cheeze Whiz jars, they were so damn persnickety, along with various other glass vessels.
My job, as an Operator’s Helper, was to assist the Operator in producing the glass products that were being made in one of six huge machines used for that purpose. Without bogging you down with the finer details, it would stand to reason that the temperature of the glass had to be high enough to form the molten glass into the shape of the destined vessel in, first a blank stage (rough shape) and then the finished state of the bottle or jar in the mold stage. The Operator and his assistant would apply “dope” (lubricant) to the blanks and molds to make sure the molten glass didn’t stick to the forms. Of course, the more square inches of glass exposure the hotter it was for the Operator and his helper. Thus, making beer bottles was a lot cooler, (if I even dare to use that term) than making double 40 ounce whiskey bottles. Make sense?
Anyway, the air temperature in the general area of the manufacturing machines was in excess of 40-45C (or 104-115F to the “old school” folks) all of the time and in front of the machines it was a lot…and I mean a LOT higher. Management gave workers salt pills on a regular basis in an effort to show some sort of compassion to the wilting sweating masses. In fact, every bottle we made was a potential cigarette lighter. All you had to do was pick up a bottle coming out of the machine with your asbestos wrapped tongs and slip the tip of your smoke into the neck of the bottle and…voila…instant combustion! So I know heat! I am very familiar with heat.
I stuck it out at the old glass factory until I was too homesick for Saskatchewan and moved back to my favourite province a year later. By the way, the “Alberta Experiment” worked, apparently, as I came back a more mature person, a more dedicated worker and someone with a keen appreciation for safe working conditions and a too-keen knowledge of what HOT really is.
“Ah, summer, what power you have to make us suffer and like it.”-Russel Baker (1925- ).

JULY'S ODD NEWS STORIES


In an effort to prove to myself that I’m still mostly sane I like to look at how screwed up the rest of the world is. To that end the World Wide Web is an amazing source of information to use as a tool to prove my point.
Take this following story for example: Three girls from Midway, GA., were trying to raise money to go to a waterpark and they thought that a lemonade stand would do the trick. But then they met the long arm of the law — their local police chief.
The Police Chief told the girls to “shut it down” citing the city requires business and food permits ($50 per day), even though the stand was at the home of one of the girls. The Police Chief said, “We understand you guys are young, but still, you’re breaking the law.” He also cited HEALTH issues because, “We (THE AUTHORITIES) were not aware of how the lemonade was made, who made the lemonade, of what the lemonade was made with, so we acted accordingly by city ordinance.”
Seriously!? Tsk, tsk, tsk. Slow crime day boys, or what? Did your own kids have a stand set up down the block or something? Some people should not be put in a position of authority I guess.
Then in the category of “Huh?” there’s the story of New York scent artist Christopher Brosius who has made his name with fragrances recalling childhood (such as Clean Baby Butt??, Green Bean and Baseball Glove-{now that one I can understand}), but felt it was time to approach the next frontier -- to make a perfume so exclusive that no one could smell it. By Brosius' reasoning, the scent's chemicals would provoke whatever reactions scents provoke in those exposed to it, but the actual scent would be undetectable to the nose; hence, no one would know why they were reacting as they were. By trial and error, he combined jasmine, sandalwood and natural amber, and scaled them down in power, yielding what he calls “Where We Are There Is No Here”. Perfume with no scent? Hmmm. I could sell you a truckload of that stuff, I’ll tell ya, and I think I’ll call it…”Water”.
This next story reminded me of a scene from the movie “Monty Python and the Search for the Holy Grail” when some characters were pulling a cart through the medieval town yelling, “Bring out your dead!”, and one old guy kept protesting that he wasn’t dead but they threw him on the cart anyway.
There’s a Florida woman who says she’s having numerous financial troubles because a bank error declared her dead last November. The woman and her husband built their home in 2007 and the couple took out two mortgages through the Chase Bank USA but the bank notified credit-reporting agencies that the woman had died. The bank even sent a letter of condolence to the family, saying someone from the bank would be in touch about the mortgage. The woman says she notified the bank officials that she was alive and also went to a local branch to correct the mistake. A month later, a lawsuit she filed against the bank alleges, credit agencies were still reporting her dead.
You know what? The really, really scary thing is that a new report states that by 2050 we’ll have 9.3 billion residents on this planet which, by virtue of basic math, will increase the number of stupid people and crazy events. Yikes! “Be afwaid, be vewy, vewy afwaid.”
“The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated”-Mark Twain (1835-1910).

SQUEAKY WHEEL GETS THE GREASE


Without boring you with all of the details I can tell you that there is some question as to the success of the back surgery that was performed on me in late April. As with all surgeries you cannot rule out the possibility that the surgery may not be as successful as one would have hoped.
Since I had not had back surgery before I was not sure what to expect afterward. More pain? Less pain? Total relief? A nerve in my spine had been pinched off for nearly eight months so the possibility of immediate relief was pretty low. However, I was expecting that I would eventually have less pain and numbness in my leg and I was prepared for a long but successful recovery.
What I wasn’t prepared for was the possibility that, eight weeks after the surgery, there would be no relief at all. Neither was my surgeon, who immediately sent in a request for, yup, you guessed it, another MRI, (just as my hearing was starting to recover from the last one, no less), to see what the deuce was going on in there now.
All of that aside, it’s the timeline that is, once again, almost more irritating to me than the pain in my leg. Considering the fact that the injury happened late last August I thought that I would be fixed by now. So here we go again…another six-to-eight-to-four-to-twelve-weeks waiting for another MRI, and then depending on the results, who knows how long until we can figure out where to go from there.
I was telling an old friend, who had worked in the health care system for years, about my nearly one-year odyssey through the system and how frustrating it was and is. She gave me the name of the “Health Advocate” at Sun Country Health Region and my friend told me that I have to call and nag and nag and call the CEO of Sun Country and the Premier and my MLA and the Minister of Health and the Ombudsman and anybody else that I could think of to get quicker results. “Squeaky wheel gets the grease, you know.”
Really? That’s what it takes? I know that’s how it works, but seriously? Do we all have to lie on the floor and kick our feet and cry and whine like a spoiled child who’s been told he has to wait for his candy? That’s the key to getting looked after? Only angry people get the fast service? Unfortunately it’s the truth, but should it be?
I was in the retail lumber business for over twenty years and I can tell you that the last person I wanted to give the five star service to was the guy at the end of the counter who was demanding service over all the other people ahead of him in line. His time is just so much more valuable than anyone else’s time you know.
Ask any waitress or waiter how they felt about the customer who whistled or rattled the ice in their glass, or yelled “Hey You!” for more service? I’m sure they were just sooo eager to run right over and attend to that customers demands. Ha!
I have never wanted to be that guy so up ‘til now I’ve been the dutifully patient patient and have been standing in line calmly waiting for my time to come up but now the patience has run out of this patient, if you know what I mean? I want some service and I want it now! I guess it’s time to get the old anger on if that’s what it’s going to take to get some service around here. I’ll stamp my feet, I’ll hold my breath ‘til I turn blue, I’ll scream and scream, I’ll cry crocodile tears, too, if that’s the program that we have to adhere to. It’s not how I WANT to handle the situation but, unfortunately, it’s how I HAVE to handle the situation.
“Abused patience turns to fury,”-Thomas Fuller (1608-1661)













































TRIBUTE TO THE BEKEVAR CHURCH


“The church still stands and really is a symbol of the faith and the hope of the Bekevar community at that time, because they built a large enough church to seat somewhere in the neighborhood of between 250-300 people when there were perhaps a lot fewer families in the area. It was a great thing for the people to get together at the church. In the springtime they would speak about, discuss before and after the service, their hopes for the summer and the fall and the seeding and what they were doing and the acreages they were putting in to crop and so on…So these things had helped to keep the community together.”-The Rev. K. C. Doka--as quoted in “Peace and Strife”-by Martin L. Kovacs © 1980.
Previous to 1911 the twin spires of The Great Church of Bekevar were not visible for miles and miles around. Also, before 1911, we didn’t have zippers, or insulin, or penicillin, or life savers (the candies), or two World Wars, or talking motion pictures, or television, or radio, or rockets, or robots, or band-aids, or bubble gum. So much has changed in the world since 1911 but the main symbol of the faith and hope of our Hungarian pioneers endures still.
So many baptisms, marriages and funerals were performed in that building. How many romances and relationships were spawned at the services and the “szureti vigalom” (vintage merrymaking) Bekevar picnics that were held annually at The Great Bekevar Church? Countless descendants owe their very lives to the community of Bekevar and its heart and soul…the church.
My maternal grandparents, Joseph and Elizabeth Vedres, lived in the Bender and Inchkeith areas during the 1920’s and they and their children attended many services and community gatherings at the church while they resided in this area.
Although the building has not been used for anything more than the occasional wedding or ceremonial service, since the new Bekevar Presbyterian Church was built in Kipling in 1967, the structure remains a huge part of Kipling and District’s heritage.
Back in the 1970’s, prior to too many vandal attacks, the church remained furnished as it had been when the last regular service was held in the building. The doors were unlocked and the church was open to locals, site seeing visitors and many former area residents who would occasionally come back home and drop in for a nostalgic look at the old building.
As with any old seldom used building The Great Bekevar Church could be awe-inspiring during the day and very spooky at night. Truth be told, it could be pretty spooky during the day, too. Stories of Bekevar’s ghosts were passed from generation to generation and many a time the imaginations of the area youth would spark new stories of their sightings. Just driving by the place at night would cause the hair to rise on one’s arms and neck and make your sweetheart snuggle a little closer proving that, once again, Bekevar could always bring people together.
On July 10th of 2011 the 100th Anniversary of the building of The Great Church of Bekevar will be celebrated. What an opportunity to honour the courage, faith and foresight of our pioneers and celebrate the enduring symbol that was left as their legacy.

“It was proposed on October 15th, 1910, by Janos Szabo that for the joint celebration of the tenth anniversary of the founding of the congregation and the commemoration of the Rev. Kalman Kovacsi’s “faithful functioning also for ten years as pastor of the congregation…a church be built in masonry and worthy of the congregation by October 6th, 1911.”- Excerpted from “Peace and Strife”-by Martin L. Kovacs © 1980.

Monday, June 27, 2011

My Expanded Waistline

During the past ten months I have been very limited as to what I can and cannot physically do. Due to my back injury and slow recovery it appears that I have lost a large portion of my calorie burning abilities. Apparently, walking from couch to fridge and back or lifting one’s fork, spoon or chopsticks continually to one’s mouth does not constitute exercise. Consequently there’s considerably more than a little “muffin top” over my trouser’s waistband; it looks more like an over-yeasted loaf of bread, if you know what I mean.
This was never more evident than a couple of weeks ago when I tossed aside my usual wardrobe of expandable waistband sweatpants or pajama bottoms and attempted to put on a pair of dress pants that I hadn’t worn since last summer. Hah! When I tried to do up the clasp it wasn’t even close. Deb tried in vain to fasten the gap together with a safety pin and she almost lost an eye in the failed attempt. Yikes!
That incident got me all nostalgic for the old days when I could eat anything I wanted and as much as I wanted and I still couldn’t gain a pound. Aaahhh, those were the days. I had always been active enough through sports, working out and physical work that I never really had to worry about it too much before. On top of the expanding waistline my cholesterol was climbing through the roof, too, so now I had more than one reason to watch what I was eating.
I definitely had to change my eating habits. I would have to eliminate the szalonna (bacon drippings with bread) or 1/2 litres of ice cream at one sitting and I would have to eat more chicken, fish and fresh veggies. I’d also have to take a hard look at replacing my usual high-calorie beer with something like Molson 67 or some other low-calorie beer but I have a real hard time paying more for less, you know?
Anyway, in an effort to eat more lean meat we picked up some ground chicken and some ground turkey instead of ground beef. Although I’m no Blue Seal Chef I do know my way around a kitchen but I was lacking recipes for cooking ground chicken or turkey. I was guessing that you can’t just substitute ground beef with ground chicken or ground turkey and have the same results so I Googled some recipes to try.
I found a number of recipes but the first one to catch my eye was the Apple-Chicken Sausage recipe. The recipe looked simple enough requiring only ground chicken, an apple and some seasoning; make them into patties, fry and voila--sausage--or a close facsimile thereof. The red flag should have been raised when the recipe called for enough poultry seasoning for seven stuffed turkeys, but what the heck do I know, right, so I threw it all together and fried them up and they smelled pretty good but…Yech! I think that whoever thought that this concoction would taste like sausage hadn’t really tasted sausage before. It was close, but there would have to be considerable experimentation with the ingredients requiring lots of time and too much wasted ground chicken to perfect that faulty recipe. As usual…”too smart, too late”.
This whole episode just reinforced in me that anything good for you isn’t going to be easy. Sure it’d be nice to live off of Cheezies and beer, like I use to, but those days are long gone and as we age and draw nearer to our expiration date, (and attempt to delay the inevitability of that day), we sometimes just have to make adjustments whether we want to or not.
“For the first time ever, overweight people outnumber average people in America. Doesn't that make overweight the average then? Last month you were fat, now you're average - hey, let's get a pizza!”-Jay Leno.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Kipling's Flooded Marsh Brings Back Memories

A little while back I ran into my good friend Brian Tennant and he invited me to join him on an adventure similar to Huck Finn and Old Jim’s ride down the Mississippi River but our adventure would be on Lake Kipling or as many locals refer to it: The Marsh. Our raft would be the Tennant’s pontoon boat, on which Brian had mounted a sail, and our Mississippi would be The Marsh. This was going to give a whole new meaning to the term Prairie Schooner.
Anybody with any history around the Kipling area would be familiar with The Marsh and I would venture a guess that not many of them would have had a chance to see a sailboat on it.
Today, if you Google “The Kipling Marsh” it shows an aerial view of a dry pumped-out marsh which is far from the unbelievable never-before-seen water levels that it’s at this year. Prior to the mid 1970’s, when The Marsh’s landowners started to pump the water out, there was a fair amount of water in it but, again, nothing like it is today.
Back in my high school days of the early 1970’s I recall my friends and I spending a lot of time engaged in activities around or near The Marsh. It was usually around this time of year when we’d go for a swim in the dugout, just north of Lawrysn’s and almost at The Marsh, to cool off on a hot June day. Some of the participants even went sans all clothing, but not Reverend Hubbard’s boy, though. Nope, not me. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
Many of us would often walk the two + mile stretch of grid road out to the old Voroney farm, currently Kevin Puffalt’s, to visit the Voroney’s teenage kids Audrey and Robert, all the while singing American Pie, or something, at the top of our lungs to ward off the evil spirits lurking in the muddy waters of The Marsh. Walking back in to Kipling at night was always interesting, too, as you could often see the yellow eyes of some sort of wildlife creature off the road and the marsh flares would give off a very eerie greenish-blue glow over the cattails and reeds. I’m told there’s over seven feet of water on top of that grid road right now.
Once we had a cold snap in the early part of October and the marsh froze solid without any snowfall. We skated and skated on that ice for hours and never crossed the same path twice.
Back in the day, Kipling was a great destination for duck and goose hunters as there were thousands of the migrating birds out on The Marsh. My avid hunter friends would have a heyday out there, too. Of course every prairie boy worth his salt had a .22 rifle and we’d go out shooting muskrats or mud hens.
The current water levels are dire to the landowners as one farmer told me he has two full sections of his land under water. The threat of flooding to the town of Kipling is real and scary if that water is not pumped away before next spring or if we get a few inches of rain in one downpour like they recently experienced in the Weyburn area but it’s also kind of neat, to have a lake so close to town. Maybe “someone or they” should buy up the property and turn it into a resort. It’s just a thought. Maybe I enjoyed that sailboat ride a little too much.
"We said there warn't no home like a raft, after all. Other places do seem so cramped up and smothery, but a raft don't. You feel mighty free and easy and comfortable on a raft."
- The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain.

Writer’s note: comments and questions regarding this column may be addressed to hubbar@sasktel.net. Also, previous “In My Humble Opinion” and “Random Thoughts” columns can be found on the following website: http://pnhubbard.blogspot.com/.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Father's Day Post

The other day I was engaged in a conversation with a few people regarding the never before seen bodies of water, that are to be found everywhere in the southeast corner of our province this spring, when the subject of fish and fishing came up. Apparently some fish have been moving from body of water to body of water, during this spring’s flooding, resulting in fish being found in ponds and sloughs which normally wouldn’t have any fish in them at all. This is big news to people who actually fish, I guess, but I do not fish, so the tidbit of information was interesting enough but not completely compelling to me.
Well, you should have seen the look of incredulity on the faces of the other conversationalists, who happen to be avid fishing enthusiasts, when they found out that I had only gone fishing maybe four times in my life. You know the look. That look people get on their faces when they find out you don’t share their love of turnips, say, or Canadian rye whiskey, or American Idol.
“How can you not love ______________?!” (Fill in the blank with one or all of the following: fishing, turnips, rye, Idol…), you are asked by someone with their eyes bugging out and their eyebrows lifted to the top of their foreheads!
I was reminded of a conversation that I had had with one particular brother-in-law of mine who was Mr. Outdoors, you know, fishing, hunting, trapping, canoeing etc. after he found out that my son, who was then nearing ten years old, and I hadn’t gone fishing together yet. I responded that I was nearly forty years old (at that time) and my Dad hadn’t taken me fishing yet! You cannot pass on a skill that you never really learned, can you?
I have joked with others that my theory on why my Dad never took any of his nine kids fishing was because his fishing and hunting trips were to give him a break from his children! Truth be told, I am not exactly sure why Dad never took any of his kids fishing but my guess would be that watching a bunch of children around open water or in a boat with sharp hooks, filleting knives, fishing rods and fishing lines flying to and fro would be a far cry from the relaxing experience that he was seeking.
Based on my four real experiences with fishing I’m not all that broken up about Dad not sharing his fishing time with me. Besides, we found other ways to bond. Dad would often hit high flies to my brother Gord and me for hours on a sunny Sunday afternoon and how many hours did we spend in front of the TV during Hockey Night in Canada, feasting on popcorn or Mom’s cinnamon buns, sharing the love of the Leafs and the hatred of the Habs. One time Dad brought home a broken down old bicycle that he spent the entire weekend refurbishing for me. Man, did I put the miles on that one!
Although my first three fishing experiences were filled with boredom, sun burning, smelly slimy stuff, more boredom, mosquito attacks and an empty fishing line, solidifying my thinking that this is a huge time waster, the last fishing experience that I enjoyed was…well…enjoyable. You see, I finally got to share that father-son fishing time with our son Nolan.
Back in the 90’s, when the kids were little, we were staying at some friends’ cottage at Crooked Lake when Nolan discovered a fishing rod in their tool shed.
“Dad, lookit this!!,”-he cried out, “ Can we go fishing?”
I started mumbling about fishing licenses and bait and trying to be nonchalant about my fishing ignorance when I thought, Oh, what the hell? What are the chances of catching anything anyway, right?
So I found a plain hook in the tackle box, tied it to the line and, lacking anything wormlike, I attached a piece of steak gristle, leftover from supper, onto the hook and we made our way down to the dock.
I let Nolan cast the line out, thinking he’d be pulling weeds around for a while, ‘til he got bored, and then we could move on. Well, well, wouldn’t you know it; we snagged a nice sized perch. Now what? I didn’t have anything to club the flopping creature with but luckily there were some other kids fishing off the dock that helped us out.
Fortunately Nolan and I got our picture taken with the prize because it turns out that it was the one and only fish that we have ever landed together. We tried and tried to get another one on that vacation, but as fate would have it, that one exciting catch was all that we were allowed. It was all we ever needed.
“Dads are stone skimmers, mud wallowers, water wallopers, ceiling swoopers, shoulder gallopers, upsy-downsy, over-and-through, round-and-about whooshers. Dads are smugglers and secret sharers.”—Helen Thomson.