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On a beautiful autumn afternoon just 15 days before his 15th birthday, our family said goodbye to our beloved German Shorthaired Pointer, Misha. He passed with the same gentleness of spirit with which he lived his life in the arms of his favourite person in this world, my father.
Misha

Misha and his sister, Bella, who passed quite suddenly nearly 2 years ago, joined our family a decade ago; rescued together as brother and sister because they were inseparable. And together they were welcomed into our home by our most extraordinary boy, Howard Bear, who took great delight in their company and companionship in the years they all lived together.

A connoisseur of pizza and roasted chicken, Misha was never one to miss the chance to partake in either. Even in his later years, with his eyesight and hearing having both faded, his nose would always know when such things were being baked or roasted. Always for him, of course.

While we worried terribly for him when his sister was gone, he surprised us all with his resilience, strength and, in fact, delight at finally being the centre of our attention and affection. And how could we not dote upon such an adoring, adorable, sweet-natured boy; our very own Mr. Magoo.

Too often we’ve been compelled to say farewell to our dogs with little warning or to end acute pain and suffering. Not so with our Meesh. He’d lived a life of happiness and love and never knew pain, discomfort or disease. His days were pleasant, leisurely affairs, dotted with moments of hilarity and fun thanks to the tenderness of his dearest friend, Stella, and by occasional visits from Beatrix and, most recently, Anubis.

With Misha’s passing, our family not only mourns him, but also, all over again, his sweet sister and our wonderful Howard, who together formed a very special and significant pack within our family.

We are comforted in knowing he passed peacefully, surrounded by the same love that we’d had for him throughout the decade he was with us, and with the knowledge we had been there for him and done right by him when he needed us most of all.

As has been the case every time we’ve said goodbye to one of our wonderful dogs, our hearts are broken; thankfully, they will mend with the lifetime of memories Misha leaves with us and the love we will forever have for him.

Together Again

Together Again

At approximately 6:20 pm on Friday, March 21st, Beatrix passed away with the help of the compassionate staff at the McLeod Veterinary Clinic.

Beatrix was my partner Jillian’s dog. In a wonderful bit of luck, Jill found Beatrix through an online ad about three years ago and her life and mine were forever changed because of it.

They say sometimes our pets pick us. That could definitely be said about Bea. She picked Jill and me. And in the nearly three years she was a part of our lives, she taught us so much about each other, about living, and about love.

Bea lived with such purpose. In everything she did—walking, sitting, snoozing, eating, even peeing—she did it with such gusto, so much zeal. Life was for living and she wasn’t going to miss a moment.

Even a devastating bout of bone cancer seven months ago wasn’t going to stop Bea. Knowing her spirit was so strong and her will so great, we opted to have her front leg amputated to end the pain she had been suffering, and hopefully to extend her life. It was a difficult decision, but one neither Jill nor I regretted: Bea made sure of that by showing such courage, bravery and strength during her recovery and the months afterwards.

She was true inspiration… on three legs.

In my life I have had to say farewell to four dogs prior to Bea; while each was heart-breaking, saying goodbye to Bea was utterly devastating. I’ve never known a love like Bea’s, and have never loved a dog as much as I loved her.

Bea was at once like our mother and our daughter. She cared for Jill and me like a mother would her pups; leading us on walks, licking us to clean us and soothe our aches, sleeping amongst us to protect us and keep us warm. Her love was unconditional, overwhelming and profoundly soulful. And we loved her like parents would their daughter; admired her beauty, marvelled her every trick or feat, showered her with gifts and clothes (so many sweaters!), moved heaven and earth to keep her healthy and safe. We mourn her in those ways, too. And will love her forever and always.

 

 

 

 

I updated my iPhone recently to Apple’s latest iteration of its mobile operating system, iOS 7. Spent three days relearning how to use the damn thing.

Kept reading about Miley Cyrus’ scandalous television performance at MTV’s Video Music Awards. Apparently she was “twerking .” I still don’t know what that entails, but I gather it is doubly offensive because she’s white.

Was chatting with a female coworker firmly from the millennial generation. Her plans for the evening? World of Warcraft. I assured her I wouldn’t judge her because I didn’t know enough about it to form an opinion either way.

Blurred lines? Only if I remove my prescription glasses.

Yeah, getting old.

I used to be a renegade,
I used to fool around
But I couldn’t take the punishment,
and had to settle down
Now I’m playing it real straight,
and yes I cut my hair
You might think I’m crazy,
but I don’t even care

Hip to be square?

Nah. Just a square.

I used to be quite good with technology. Could program the VCR—even the Betamax!—with ease. Reset the clock on the microwave in a jiffy. Operate a tape-deck like a pro. Whizzed around Windows 3.1, no problem.

And yet.

I fear iOS 7 may have been my Waterloo.

Honestly, what’s an aging digital immigrant to do?

Maybe it’s time to reactivate my Facebook and Instagram accounts? Or are they passé? I read somewhere the kids were abandoning Facebook in droves as the Boomers were starting to clue in.

Or should I just start Tumblring and Pintering—though I don’t really get the point, or the difference, of either. Tumblr is for men, Pinterest for women, right?

Check in with FourSquare? But why?

Post a bunch of NSFW pics to my Twitter feed? Or do I have to say my phone was hacked?

Make a sex tape? Or is “tape” a red flag? Should it be a sex M-PEG? A sex flash video?

Sigh. Is there a digital Saint Helena? I want to go to there.

I’ve apologized once already for neglecting my little slice of the worldwide web. Doing so again would only lessen my sincerity. Nevertheless, I’m keenly aware of how little attention I’ve paid to my blog.

Not to excuse the inaction, but I’ve had very little of anything to say that merits space on here, or anywhere for that matter. Oh sure, I could’ve ranted about any number of things that grind my gears: climate change deniers; western nations’ ambivalence to atrocities in Syria and elsewhere; Canada’s devolution into a jingoistic petro state; Winnipeg’s SHED. There are others, though, who’ve ranted more intelligently and articulately than I ever could. No sense reinventing the wheel.

What have I been doing with my time, then? Well, after waiting nearly six months for a job to commence, I lasted only six weeks at it before packing it in. Definitely wasn’t the right fit for me. Among other things, I went back to school to train as a cook, not a bartender.

Thankfully, I didn’t have to wait long for a new, and infinitely better opportunity to cross my path (largely thanks to the kindness of a truly remarkable poppy). I’m now plying my trade at Diversity Foods. I couldn’t be happier.

Better still, I should have more time for some of my other personal pursuits, blog included. Phew!

Neglect is oft defined as not taking proper care for an object or a thing or, in my case, a blog. Mea culpa. It was a long, long winter; cold, dark, full of introspection and melancholy—a dangerous mixture.

Looking back, January, February, March and, yes, even April seem like a snowy blip. Yet I know, going through the motions of those weeks and months felt like a never-ending holding pattern. One day, rolling into the next, simply waiting… for the big thaw, the beginning of spring, of things to come alive after so many months dormant, snow-covered, frozen.

As is so often the case in these parts, spring took its sweet time arriving. And when it did, doing so suddenly in what I suspect was an afternoon in late May, it promptly retreated shortly thereafter, ushering in another cold spell before finally reemerging as summer in early June.

Mother Nature is clearly a sadist.

Truth be told, I accomplished very little of merit or note during my prolonged hibernation. Sure, I binged on Netflix, devouring entire television series. (Damages is brilliant, btw.) I cooked a fair bit, too; even hosted a multi-course dinner for family. Most of all, I just binged on news. (Note to self: big mistake.) And while it was anything but an uneventful start to the year all over the world, it was very much uneventful for me. Depressingly so.

I suspect what made the malaise that much worse was waiting for my job to start. I’d been notionally hired by a young chef/restauranteur to join the team of his new restaurant. The trouble: it was and remained under construction for the first four months of 2013. Sure, we had the occasional meeting; did what we could while the site was being finished; but, until the site was actually operational, it was quite difficult to do much at all.

And so I sat. And watched. And ate. And drank. And stewed—literally and figuratively.

Thankfully, by May I was able to start my job in earnest, even if the restaurant itself wasn’t yet open for business. And if by some twist of fate, summer emerged shortly thereafter. Even Mistress Nature can be kind sometimes, I guess.

Three years ago, I posted a short piece on Thorium. At the time, I’d come across an article in Wired magazine that suggested this radioactive chemical element could replace uranium as a cleaner, safer fuel in nuclear power generation.

[Thorium] is abundant — the US has at least 175,000 tons of the stuff — and doesn’t require costly processing. It is also extraordinarily efficient as a nuclear fuel… You could use [it] in an entirely new kind of reactor, one that would have zero risk of meltdown.

Amazing, right? I thought so.

And yet, the silence surrounding the element persisted. Even after the horrific chain of events in Fukushima, Japan—the hideous side of uranium-based nuclear power laid bare once more—the only response to the status quo was to abandon nuclear power altogether.

Three years on, Erika Eichelberger writes in Mother Jones there may yet be hope for Thorium to breathe new life into the faltering nuclear industry. And who do we have to thank? The Chinese, of course.

As has been already been observed by others, the 21st century may well belong to China. So, too, may it belong to Thorium.

Mental illness has yet again been thrust to the forefront of public consciousness with the recent tragic events in Newtown, Connecticut. It is unfortunate such a discussion about mental health, and the lacklustre efforts we, as a society, make for those struggling with such issues, must be prompted by such tragedy. It shouldn’t take a massacre and so many lives to get us to speak about and act upon the growing mental health crisis facing our communities.

Mind Your Mental Health

Accordingly, I’m pleased to see the Manitoba Psychological Society has recently launched a “Mind Your Mental Health” campaign to raise awareness about, and encourage people to seek help for mental illness. It follows similar campaigns in other provinces, chief among them the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health‘s “Defeat Denial” campaign in Ontario, which was launched earlier this year.

I recall, while in Toronto this past summer, watching CAMH’s provocative 30-second ad before many a movie. It was arresting, aggressive—and definitely struck a very personal chord with me. So, too, does MPS’ campaign.

At least 1 in 5 Canadians struggle with a mental illness. Unfortunately, as the MPS campaign makes plain, too many of those people are not receiving the support and treatment they need.

It is no surprise why not: there are only 47 psychologists for every 100,000 Canadians nation-wide; a paltry 20 per 100,000 in Manitoba. We can and must do better.

Amidst all the noise about the latest in a long line of gun-related tragedies to befall America’s children, I hope everyone will take a moment to mind their mental health and that of their loved ones—and consider letting your elected officials know it’s time for action on this important issue.