Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Where did the summer go?

Tuesday August 31st, the week before labour day, back to school, hockey practice, closing the pool, fall colours, yikes - where did the time go?  It seemed like just yesterday that the last bits of dirty snow were melting and bits of green were starting to shoot up in the ditches between the dead brown stalks.  This past weekend, as I wandered through Walmart trying to find a canoe paddle to stir the mud baths, I cringed as racks and racks of Halloween masks seemed to follow my aimless aisle search through empty eye sockets.  Of course most of the summer seasonal items have already been stored away to make room for the fall and winter items - snow shovels should be just around the corner.  The creator of time, just like the creator of everything, was such a genius.  Time seems to creep along at just a steady enough pace to make you aware of the movement, like a sheer drapery in a light breeze, and yet not so fast that you worry about it or give it a second though.  And then, all of a sudden, something - a look in the mirror, or at the calendar makes you aware of just how much time has gone by while you were busy doing something, but not really sure what.  My maternal grandfather spent his final years at Central Park Lodge in Toronto.  In those days, he didn't walk, he shuffled.  As I held an elevator for him as he shuffled along the corridor I was aware that a somewhat surly looking female resident was patiently waiting for her ride down.  I turned to her and apologized for the wait, to which she replied, "don't worry, time is all I have left".

Monday, August 23, 2010

The mystery of plant life

Berry delicious
When I was growing up in Nashville (Ontario), we had a neighbour named Mr. Mulder, long before the X-Files TV series made Fox Mulder a household name.  Mr. Mulder lived by himself in a humble kind of a home, I think he may have had a barn or two, and he had the most incredible raspberry patch.  On warm summer days you could find him in a straw hat picking his berries, always willing to share a few with the local kids.  Mr. Mulder's berry's were so juicy, so sweet and succulent, and Mr. Mulder was just a nice man.  Perhaps it was this subconscious memory that caused me to load up my cart with berry bushes this spring while wandering through the local Canadian Tire.  I used a tractor roto-tiller to turn over the soil in last year's failed vegetable garden and spent a day digging in my bushes, along with a peach tree, a couple of cherry trees and some strawberry plants, all the while thinking that this garden will be easy to maintain.  When the weeds come, I'll just run the push roto-tiller through the rows and before I know it I'll be picking fruit for the table.  I applied some fertilizer and forgot about my garden until about 2 weeks ago.  Well, apparently the weeds like fertilizer too.  There were plants in there with 1 inch stalks - dense, ugly weeds.  What to do?  I mentioned to Debbie and Darlene, my gardening experts, that I thought a bush wacker might be the solution.  True to character, these 2 good Samaritans snuck into my back yard one afternoon and pulled all the weeds.  I was overwhelmed.  And lo and behold, in behind all those now relocated weeds were bunches of juicy, so sweet and succulent raspberries ripe for the picking.  I've since put down some weed barrier and mulch in hopes that I can control things a little better, but without Debbie and Darlene, I'd be in quite a pickle!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Guilt, a gift from our parents

Wikipedia defines guilt as "a cognitive or an emotional experience that occurs when a person realizes or believes—accurately or not—that he or she has violated a moral standard, and bears significant responsibility for that violation.  It is closely related to the concept of remorse."  This begs the question - where do we get our moral standards from.  Presumably, Robin Hood was not raised with a moral standard endorsing the concept of robbing from the rich to give to the poor, any more than Stephen Harper was, but I think its safe to say that this moral standard has evolved over time.  Moral standards that are passed on from one generation to the next through parenting often don't stand the test of time.  Where one generation may firmly believe that computers are a tool of the devil and should be restricted to tools of commerce, another generation may feel differently.  My father used to tell us that he would kill us if he ever caught us drinking or doing drugs.  As a teenager, I remember thinking that killing someone had to be worse than drinking or doing drugs.  What amuses me are people who develop a guilty conscience related to one set of circumstances in their moral code, and go through great mental anguish while being completely oblivious to the hurt they are causing by their actions towards others.  I'm not saying that parenting is easy, but when you see the innocent, trusting face of a small child and see how vulnerable their minds are to the imprint of their influencers, you can't help but hope and pray that some thought will be given to the conscience that they are given.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Trip of a lifetime

One of the many friendly faces of Peru

Technically, today is my first official day of rest spent in the office after returning from a two week tour of Peru, the highlight of which was a four day hike on the Inca Trail culminating with a visit to Machu Picchu.  In an effort to keep the weight of my backpack to a minimum, I used a small camera for the hike, which I somehow misplaced on the last day of our trip.  Fortunately, two of our fellow hikers kept a blog, and they provided me with a blow by blow account of the main part of our trip, which I hope they won't mind me sharing with you.  However, even words and pictures cannot fully capture the intensity of this experience.  I travelled with a group of 16 people, ranging in age from 4 to 50 something, and every member of the group had their own set of contributions and challenges.  All this to say that while this trip took me out of my travel comfort zone, it was a trip of a lifetime that I would absolutely recommend and do again.