Thursday, July 24, 2008

Camping at Chez Hoser

Really, how many people are able to camp in their own yard? And yes, this is a plain old regulation city lot. We're just fortunate that so much of it is covered in trees.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

88 and its meaning

Hugs and kisses.

For me that's what 88's always stood for. It goes back to something I learned from a girlfriend whose uncle was a ham radio operator. The shorthand used by those radio operators (early version of texting?) employed various compressed abbreviations or numbers as quick substitutions for commonly used phrases. After all, for the most part, they were sending their messages in Morse Code.

For my girlfriend and me, numbers were fun to use in coded messages, and 88 was one of my favourites. Hugs and kisses were a great way to close a note.

Only now that number's meaning has changed, as yet another Canadian soldier -- James Hayward Arnal -- has died in Afghanistan. His death takes the number of number of dead Canadian soldiers up to 88. And no, I cannot refer to Cpl. Arnal as a 'casualty' -- there is nothing casual about death.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

A perfect evening for a ballgame!

Sitting in the outfield bleachers, in amongst players from the Czech Republic, it felt a little bit like already being at the Olympics. This was the closest I'll be getting to Beijing, but just think -- I was able to walk to this event!

I wasn't the only one happy to focus on the game -- I loved these people who decided on taking the worm's eye view.

And to top it all off, the Canadian women beat the Australians, 8 - 2.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

A bad day for Canada

In fact, a day of shame.

The freshly released video of CSIS interrogating the then-16-year-old Omar Khadr in Guantanamo raises more questions about Canada's complicity in allowing a Canadian -- and an underage one at that -- to spend so many years in an unsanctioned prison.

As if the release of that video wasn't enough cause for shame, today was also the day Canada deported Robin Long, one of the 200 or so American soldiers who have come to Canada because they disagree with Bush's war on Iraq.

The most fitting comment on these events seems to be a section from Keith Maillard's "The Intervention of the Duke" (a piece from his book, Dementia Americana, Ronsdale Press, 1994 which also appears in Crossing Lines, an anthology from Seraphim Editions, 2008). The brilliant leader referred to in the poem is none other than Pierre Elliott Trudeau, a Canadian prime minister who was unafraid to stand up on behalf of Canada and the country's code of honour.


He doesn't look half bad twenty years later --
the only statesman in the western world
who would allow himself to be photographed
upside down above a trampoline. He said no
you may not inquire of any young man arriving at the border
as to his status in the armed forces
of the United States of America.
We thought Canada meant peace.
My eyes filled with tears when I crossed
into Quebec and saw the Maple Leaf flying.
As soon as I could, I became a citizen.
For all my jokes about maple syrup, I was proud.
Now it makes me sick to see my country play the yapping cur,
chasing the tail of the American dog gone barking into war.
- -

O, Stephen Harper, if only you could take a page from the annals of your predecessor. What a great country we might once again be.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

drupelets galore

I'm pretty sure the first reference I heard to the word drupelet was in some book by Kurt Vonnegut. Maybe Cat's Cradle, with all its Boko-Maru. Wherever, today was a day for gathering many tiny karasses -- drupelets of beings that make up the fruit we know as raspberries.

While we were picking, a clatter of crows kept engaging in a series of family disputes. Doing anything else, their noise might have bothered me. As it was, I just took refuge by reaching further into the shadow of the leaves and finding some the biggest, softest berries -- the ones that roll off into your hand like fuzzy marbles.

A beautiful day well-spent, and one that will taste good all the way to next March.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Miniature golf the natural way

No tiny windmills, no indoor-outdoor carpet. No trolls or other hunks of concrete formed as creatures. Just lovely, grassy greens, complete with real sandtraps. Remarkable.

This magical place is Dundas, Ontario's Rock Chapel Golf Course, where even a terrible golfer like me can have a great time.
And the putting course is only part of it -- there's a driving range, practice areas for chipping from grass, and even an area of sandy bunkers set up for practising getting up and down onto the green. Oh yes, and a beautiful 9-hole executive course for playing on after you've practised yourself into it!

And to think our local course has the jam to say it was voted the best practice place in North America. Not a chance.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Go Canada Day

Henry Morgentaler's getting the Order of Canada. My brother-in-law Leo is turning fifty. My sister turns forty-nine. And I'm going to read in the sunshine on the deck.