An Old Christmas Card from Mom

There wasn’t a lot of music in our house when I was growing up. We had a few records and a phonograph player, but I don’t remember them being played that much. The radio would be on most of the time, and that’s where we’d hear music. Sometimes, but not very often, there would be live singing. Almost exclusively by my Mother.

Every so often, Mom would get the urge to grab the guitar, and a bit more often, she’d play the organ. And she’d play and sing. I always thought she had a lovely, sweet, soft voice, but I don’t think she thought much of it. She’d always seem to sing shy, it seemed.

I’m so glad we have a few clips of her singing. I don’t listen to them very often. But when I do, they bring me right back to my childhood. And, yeah, they make me miss her a whole bunch, and I get sad that she’s not around. But sometimes it feels good to feel sad. Listening to these songs is a good sad. Much better than not having them at all.

As it’s Christmas Eve, here’s my Mom. Jean Emily (Hume) MacDonald, playing guitar and singing An Old Christmas Card.

Boom Goes The Dynamite, Part Three

My nephew, Johnny, has autism. He’s an incredibly good looking 5 year old boy, with a ton of energy and, once he gets to know you, a smile that lasts forever. Ever since he’s been born, I’ve had a soft-spot for stories that relate to the autistic. In fact, I’ve been interested in autism since university when I learned about it when I was an undeclared psychology major.

This story got me choked up when I first watched it. Then, when I called my wife in to watch it too, I welled up and cried tears. Something I don’t do very often. It’s one of those feel-good stories.
Check it out, why don’t you.

Arista (1997-2005)

Our cat, Arista, the fourth member of our family of three, as much a sibling as our only child will know, died last night.
We are all sad today.
We noticed she, curled up in a corner of the house, had been panting labouriously and fast,  as if not enough air was reaching her lungs.  In obvious distress, I tried to massage her, to feel if anything was perhaps lodged in her windpipe, but found nothing but a distressing cack on each short breath.  I lifted her and took her to her water dish, but she’d have none of it.  She went to her litter box and did some business of the solid sort (which we thought may have been the problem, but still the breath was not coming easily).  She wandered off (with us following) to another, darker corner of the house, as if she wanted to be alone to deal with this troubling annoyance by herself.
Petting and comforting her was doing nothing but apparently annoying her, and she wandered away again.  This time to behind the couch, a sure sign of "leave me alone".  She couldn’t be left alone, though, when she started meowing painful, mournful meowings.  Pulled the couch out and picked her up. Now her breathing was labourious and was beginning to sound phlegmy. Not a good sign.  Nor a good sign when liquidy discharge started to come out of her mouth.
We called the vet (this was at 9:30 at night) and told the symptoms and he said he’d meet us at the clinic.  Karyn went by herself, I stayed home with Cameron.
She arrived home about half an hour later.  Not good.  The vet would give Arista oxygen and call us with updates.  Cameron was, by this time, in bed.
Phone call another half hour later.  The vet was giving the cat oxygen, but it wasn’t doing much..  He believed Arista had suffered a heart attack.  Also, there was substantial liquid forming in her lungs.  Perhaps, surmised the vet, she had taken some poison?  None that we were aware of.
As we were wondering what the next step should be, the vet says "hold on, she stopped moving".  When he came back on the phone, he told us Arista had died.

I was the one who told Cameron this morning, and that wasn’t much fun.  She was the only pet Cameron had had.  He was the one who picked her out at the Shelter, when he was three or four years old.  He was the one who decided upon the name.  Immediately, she was house-trained, and a great addition to the family.  She played games with Cameron when he (or she) was bored, like Hide and Seek and Eat My Hair (don’t ask).  She was devoutly jealous of almost every one of Cameron’s friends, and would take every opportunity to hiss at them whenever they were occupying his time.  Those were the only times she’d show any hint of a negative attitude.
I’ll miss those nights when I was falling asleep, Arista would jump up on my side of our bed and curl up beside me for five or ten minutes before heading off to her other nightly pursuits, and those countless times she’d curl up beside me on the couch and we’d watch TV together.

She was a great cat.  We’ll miss her.


I just found out today that one of my close childhood friends just overdosed and died.
This, of course, makes me sad.
We were very close during the first twelve years or so of my life.  A Top Four Friend who sometimes elevated to Best Friend.  As we grew into mid-teenagers, though, we began to lose touch with one another.  Him choosing to explore the more wild, troubled, rebellious side of teenagedom, and me perhaps more comfortable remaining within the confines of sensibility.
He was always a very smart person, one who perhaps, as such, over-analyzed everything. As a result, he had, I’d say, a hard time finding himself, and as he grew into an adult, those troubles manifested themselves and he began to experience all manner of difficulties, psychologically speaking.
He kind of disappeared from my life for the past 20 years yet I’d frequently think of him and wonder how he was coping.  I never really bothered to actually find out though, selfishly preferring to keep his troubles out of my life.  About as far as I’d go in that respect was to ask my parents if they heard any updates about him from his parents, who live a few houses away.  It was rare that his parents offered any updates on his status.  And when they did, it was usually more of the same kind of news: trouble coping, rough times, hard news.  Not exactly the kind of topic you want to bring up.
I felt guilty about 15 years ago, when our lives briefly intersected again.  He was not in the best state, mentally, yet desired us to form a friendship.  I rebuked him with what I thought, and still do think, were valid reasons why I couldn’t, at that time, entertain the potential for rekindling a friendship that would likely be rather needy from his side.  I still feel bad for that.  Not because I think I did the wrong thing, but because I wasn’t able to give him the support he needed at the time.
I hadn’t really heard a hing about him in the last 5 years, but tonight my mother called me to tell me she found out he died. 
All kinds of implications in that word, but I’d rather not speculate on that. 
I’d rather remember that he was the first friend I remember.  I can still remember the first time we met, him a year older than me, arriving in short pants and introducing himself to me in my house, me playing alone at the time in my caged playpen.
I’d rather remember the incredibly fun times we had together as kids.  Playing all kinds of sports, all the time it seemed. Inventing and playing all kinds of games.  Going to the beach and riding in the back of his parents car, not seatbelted in child-seats, but unbuckled on the top of a couple of orange crates so we could see out the windows, laughing our heads off as the crates would tip over as we went around sharp turns.   
I’d rather remember that, as teenagers, his musical taste and knowledge was leaps and bounds beyond mine and how his music appreciation ignited a similar fire in me.
I’d even rather remember those times when I saw him going down what I thought were the wrong paths in life and not being able to pull him back.
He always seemed to be searching, way too hard, for a simple, easy, peaceful state of mind.  I hope he found some of that, at least for a brief moment or two.


Happy Anniversary, Darling Wife

Today is my and my wife’s 18th wedding anniversary.  We got married on Canada Day in 1987.  We chose Canada Day because we thought that each year, we’d both have our anniversary off to do whatever we pleased.
I think in the past 18 years, we’ve maybe had one or two Canada Days only where we’ve both been off work.  Karyn is a summer tour guide and most Canada Days she works.  I’ve had probably a third of my Canada Days in the past where I’d have a show performance or rehearsal…
Oh well, so much for those "day off" plans.  We’ll have them in our retirements, perhaps.

So, on this day of anniversary, both personal and national, a day that was spent by me cutting the grass and helping my father with a couple of computer questions, I’d like to say to my wife, who has spent the day telling tourists the history of our Island, that I love her.
And so, I will.

I love you Karyn. 

You’re the best thing that’s ever happened to me or my world.
Many more, okay?

A Burning Desire to Scream & Flash

I have a very strong desire to do the following:

Go to the beach late at night with a few people (probably my wife and son).  Requirement is that it is dark.
One at a time, someone will scream as loud and as intensely as is possible for them to do so.
While screaming in the dark, their picture will be taken.

I expect the results to look rather interesting.

When I succumb to this desire, I will post the results here.
Is your breath baited?


We have some nice looking pork to barbecue and cause salivation.  We have some "new potatoes" to boil and drool over their melted-buttery goodness.  Some potato salad, bread, various beverages cooled, etc.
I’ve been looking forward all day to making and enjoying this meal.  We get home, I open the barbecue lid to preheat the barbecue and discover the grill is gone. 
Someone stole our barbecue grill!
We could, I suppose, bake or fry the pork, but it’s not nearly the same and there really isn’t time to do so before I rush off to rehearsal.
So, Karyn, bless her, has offered to run off and get some substitute fast-food.
Pork, you’ll have to wait until tomorrow, when you’ll be grilled up nicely on a brand new grill.  Potatoes, be thee boiled on the morrow as well!
To the prick who stole our grill: May you sleep peacefully tonight and wake up dead tomorrow.


My wife’s grandmother, Mildred, died yesterday.

She lived to a great old age, and apart from the last year or so, when she really began to decline in health and spirit, she seemed to live a good, happy life.  The last time I saw her, I don’t believe she knew who I was.  It is, as they say, for the best that she passed.
Mildred was always quick to laugh around me and I enjoyed being in her company.  She seemed to have a mischieviousness about her which I appreciated.  After her husband died, she remained for many years, alone in the house they shared, and I was often amazed at her ability to keep her house and yard in shape.
She and I shared some good games of cribbage. I believe she beat me more than I beat her.  She had a thing for owls.
She was a good, strong person and I have not a single negative memory of her.
She was a great grandmother-in-law.

Mow Is Me

All day at work today, it’s been in the back of my mind – the grass at home needs to be cut.  Tonight.  It should have been cut last night, but I had a Sketch22 rehearsal.  A long busy day does not end with work today at 5pm.  Nope, the toil moves from the mental to the physical this evening.

Yes, my son (purely from the economic advantages it affords him) has taken on more and more of the task, but it’s still my least favourite part of home-ownership.

Today, I implore you all, instead of your usual prayers for the orphans, the impoverished, the sick and infrim, pray for me.  Pray for me and my suburban woes.

Bye Bye Little Fetal Birds

This morning as I was about to leave the house to go to work, my wife, who was returning from delivering our green compost bin to the end of the driveway, informed me of four dead little baby birds that were on our walkway and driveway.  Would I dispose of them, she asked.  I would, I offered.
I don’t know how they died.  Perhaps a cat?  Perhaps some bigger bird.  I assumed they came for the birdhouse that is attached to our rapidly deteriorating barn/shed.  If they were from that house, then they were kind of like family, I thought, because that’s how I see the birds that live on our property:  like family.  Not tenants.  Family.

They were the tiniest little baby birds, maybe two inches long. Seemingly featherless, nothing but bone and skin.  I got a spade and gently scooped them up, two at a time and then whipped them into the small grove of trees behind our yard.  I didn’t like whipping them in there, poor little dead pieces of nothing, but I really had no option.  The compost cart, afterall, was way at the end of the driveway.

As I was scooping up the final two birds, I thought to myself "Hey, I should take a picture of this."  You know, to somehow commemorate their death.  To honour them.  Then I thought about it and decided that I wasn’t the kind of guy that took pictures of little dead fetal birds.
I’m glad, in the end, maybe in some Amish way, that I didn’t take the picture.

Tonight’s menu:  Chicken!!