ANOTHER SUMMER…

Another summer has gone. This wasn’t a particularly good one for me. My neck of the woods was strangled by smoke from forest fires all around the province and while we weren’t affected by the fires proper the smoke from all of them seemed to gather in our valley. On the air quality index, (1 being low health risk to 10 being high risk) we had more days in the ‘+ very high’ category than I care to remember. At one point we had a reading of +49. The air was virtually unbreathable, meaning that at my age and with my health status a mask was in order.

I know where this summer went. It’s the other 69 I’m wondering about.

I remember during my youth those hot summer days and warm summer nights seemed to go on forever but I didn’t really think about it at the time. I lived in the moment. Whether it was a road trip to California or a European summer with time spent on the Riviera and Monte Carlo or simple days at the local lake I didn’t give much thought to how precious those times were.

70 summers. It seems like a lot until you really think about it. It’s then that you realize how quickly those seasons have passed. Some family, friends, and acquaintances that shared those times with me have also passed. It’s life, I guess.

If I am to be philosophical about all of this I suppose I should be thankful that I have 70 summers to remember. Many people will never have that opportunity.

If I were the village elder I would be telling my children to cherish the moment for soon it will be gone. Create fond memories and appreciate the world around you. Listen to the birdsong, feel the warm winds upon you and value the essence that lives within you.

Time is fleeting and unless you reach out and grab those moments they will fly by faster than the crimson leaves on the brisk autumn winds.

Mike Grant, author: White Wolf Moon/Barking at Yesterday’s Moon

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SPACE

It’s all around us. There’s nothing in it or to it and, if left uninterrupted, it goes on forever. That’s why they call it space. You can’t see it of course but if you go straight up until you get past the birds and the blue and arrive at nothing…that’s it. The final frontier.

Space on terra firma has become a rather intimate thing. Everybody has their own space and some folks can get a tad cranky if they feel that you have somehow trespassed on their space. The problem is that it’s not exactly clear to me how far this space extends from the body. A foot, two feet…or is it metric space? Is it like a big round invisible bubble or is it a concise shape cut parallel to my dimensions? Does it follow the contours of my ins and outs (mostly outs these days) or does it plot a random course around my 70 year old celestial body? Do bigger people get more space than little people? If so then I don’t think that’s fair. We’re all created equal (or so I’ve heard) so we should each get the same amount of space. If some people want to fill it up with more of themselves then that’s their business.

So many, many questions…

If it’s a really hot day does my space expand? On a cold day does it shrivel up and become inner-space? When I lie down where does the behind me space go? Does it compress or just sort of squirt out the sides? If I go into a really small room does all of my space fit in there with me or is some of it still outside the door? If I sit in a movie theatre does my space and the space of the guy beside me overlap and intermingle? Actually that’s a rather disgusting thought.

Of course back in the sixties I was in a different space. It was a groovy space. It replaced my neato space of the fifties and paved the path for my polyester space of the seventies. The eighties saw the downsizing of my space due to kids arriving on the scene. It’s amazing how tiny creatures such as newborns can fill up what was once a vast space. But as a new parent I didn’t have any real space to call my own…except in the bathroom. That’s the last bastion of solitude for a dad. Nobody messed with my space when I took it into the bathroom.

That was so long ago. Now they’ve all gone on to their own universes and I have my space back.

It’s funny though…it doesn’t feel the same. The space continuum has been disturbed. Of course there are times when the kids and grandkids come by and play space invaders and that’s fine. Unlike the guy next to me in the theatre these space cadets are welcomed. I also know they’ve booked a return flight. Their mission ends at bedtime. That’s when I can return to my own space. Everybody needs someone in their space but everybody needs a little space to themselves sometimes.

It’s all about balance.

TRUMP….(sorry, I just have to)

I give up.

I generally avoid discussing politics either here or on social media but this time around I decided to test my toe in that turbulent torrent of turbidity. There’s an obvious target of course but writing about Donald Trump is akin to composing an unfinished symphony. I have drafted three posts but before I get them to the polishing stage Mr. Trump throws another sack of fodder into the trough. Honestly, it’s just too damn repetitive, silly, and depressing to pursue with any amount of enthusiasm. Add ‘easy’ to that list.

Coupled with President T’s confusing rhetoric is the influx of ‘fake’ news sites. These digital Enquirers pander to those who don’t have the wherewithal to spend a few moments researching real news. If you go by what you hear, even from some members of your own online circle, every news organization is fake or politically motivated. Even here in Canada news outlets from the CBC and CTV/ATV to my local paper present fake news or are bought and paid for by political parties…according to my catalogue of online friends. After careful consideration I have come to the conclusion that if the media doesn’t mate with your narrative then it is the media that is wrong.

Opinions are fine. I love opinions. That’s what this blog is. An opinion.

Opinions, however, are not always totally factual. An op-ed may be based on black and white fact but can easily be colored by the simple inclusion of the author’s opinion and sometimes separating the two can be difficult. That’s why we have to research.

As far as Mr. Trump is concerned I have to resort to my first line…I give up.

Following is the original blog I started two weeks ago. It’s a bit of a rant but I haven’t done that for a while so….

I tend to judge stories and comments based on presentation as much as content. If someone makes a point clearly and it sounds like they know what they’re talking about I’ll pay attention and often research what they have said. When it comes to Trump I usually don’t waste the time checking. When he uses phrases like “The CIA ‘are’…” I can forgive him. Fundamental English doesn’t build golden vanity towers I guess. When my grandchildren can spell better than he…well, I suppose I could blame the education system although I suspect he just didn’t pay attention. When he points to his head and says “Believe me, I’m really smart”…who is he trying to convince? If he was smart he would hire a communications secretary to look after his social media and try to keep him on track (or quiet) when there are cameras around. When he has to tweet that he is in charge…again, who is he trying to convince?

He has had many opportunities to correct the impression he made during the campaign. Instead he has taken every opportunity to show the world how self-obsessed he is. At a wall commemorating CIA members who gave the ultimate sacrifice once again he managed to make it all about himself. In his own words on video or Twitter he likened the same agency to Nazis yet it was ‘the enemy’, that ‘corrupt media’, that twisted his words. You said it Donald…on the internet and on camera. It doesn’t disappear because you delete or refute it.

When he can make a statement in a live, uncut interview then turn around and deny saying it, blaming the ‘dishonest media’ for taking something out of context or misinterpreting what he had to say, I know it’s only bull residue. When he can ‘tweet’ in the morning then six hours later unequivocally state that he never said it then, to my mind, there is a problem.

But, like it or not, Trump is the president. It’s as simple as that. I respect the position as I respect the position of Prime Minister of Canada. It’s unfortunate that the office and the person holding that office become one and the same. I’ve distantly dabbled in American politics since Eisenhower (yes, I’m that old) and I can’t recall any president disrespecting the position as much as Trump has. I’m sure presidents from JFK to Obama (and especially Nixon) dropped a few f-bombs in the privacy of the White House but they never did it live on national television.

Yet he was elected. What does this say about those who voted for him? That’s a question I won’t even try to answer. I don’t know what’s going to happen over the next four years and all those people tossing their comments around don’t know either. We can speculate but all the speculation in the world won’t alter what destiny has in store for not only America but the world.

He and his family all proudly state that Trump is the voice of the ‘common man’, Donald Jr. even commenting that his father was more blue-collar than the ‘average’ man. They’ve stepped on enough common men on their way up that I suppose they know what they’re talking about. Trump Sr. also declares that he’s building a cabinet of folks who understand ‘the common man’. Uh huh. Other than Mad Dog I’m not sure any of these people have ever experienced a ‘common’ lifestyle. To paraphrase…he drained the swamp and now he’s up to his ass in new alligators.

Some say ‘give him a chance…it’s early’. To a degree I agree although he was elected in November 2016. He’s had enough time to start acting presidential…to show respect for the office and the people. He’s had plenty of time to take off the campaign mask and show the kind of president he will be but he hasn’t…or has he?

If Trump can set up a government as transparent as he is then it could be an interesting four years but I doubt this will happen. He’s already backtracking on his promises. That bright light across America that you can see from space is the lightbulb coming on in the collective mind of his supporters.

 

NOO SHOOS/AULD FEATS

Shoe shopping is probably my least favorite activity. I’m a casual sneaker-type guy and in the old days my only decision was black or white. Now they have shoes for walking, running, climbing, gardening, cooking chili, washing dogs…but I have already digressed. That’s the problem with not writing a blog for months. I’ve been on a bit of a sabbatical although I’m not really sure why. Life is good, cluttered and confusing but good. Maybe I just needed to step back and appreciate the clutter and confusion. That’s as good an excuse as any I suppose. Yup…I’ll go with that.

Back to my shoes. When I needed to replace my usually beaten-to-a-pulp footwear I’d go and stand in front of the racks hoping that a pair would jump out at me (yes they have jumping shoes too). The type of shoe that has never jumped out at me is the kind I bought a few weeks ago. Whenever I saw this style I used to think ‘oh, old guy shoes’ and passed them over but this time I thought ‘gee, they’re neat’ and bought them. The fact that I thought they were ‘neat’ kind of spells out where I’m going with this.

I bought ‘old guy’ shoes because I’m ringing the doorbell on 70 Sunset Lane. I’m an old guy.

I still don’t put a lot of stock in age although lately it’s been on my mind a little more. The underlying theme of ‘White Wolf Moon’ was a man trying to rekindle his youth on the premise that within his sixty-plus body lived every age from birth until now. I still believe that’s true although some of my teen years have thankfully found a good hiding spot (down by my spleen I think…but I shan’t go looking). It’s all about attitude. ‘You’re as young as you feel’ comes to mind but it’s more than that.

Physically there’s no going back. Too much water under the bridge or, in my case, beer under the belt. Lines of life, scars of experience, and pounds of Papa burgers gift wrap the essence of my being.

Mentally, however, one can take a break and look at life the way one looked at life ‘back then’. It’s not all that difficult but it’s also a bit of an education. Remembering times before computers and zillion channel television packages can be both funny and frightening but with the right outlook you can put things into perspective. Looking at today through the same eyes I had as a twenty-year-old I realize I haven’t really changed but everything around me has. Technology is a long, straight endless highway but life is a traffic circle.

The most damning evidence of my circle? Yup…the shoes.

At twenty I wore moccasins a lot. Leather moccasins laced together with a bow on top.

What goes around….

Mike Grant has two published books: White Wolf Moon and Barking at Yesterday’s Moon. Both available on Amazon.

 

STOP THE WORLD….

Time to clear the air….
I’m not responding to a lot of facebook posts anymore. Simply because…
I’m tired of conspiracy theorists.
I’m tired of hearing how Canada as we know it is doomed under Trudeau. Let’s get real here. It wouldn’t have mattered who got elected the gloom and doom crowd would have been tossing their uneducated prophecies ad nauseum anyway.
I’m tired of fifteen year old photographs/stories showing up as current fact even though they have been proven to be hoaxes for at least a decade. Check the facts before you post.
I’m tired of the assumption that if I respond negatively to a story then I’m anti-something. Other than Macaulay Culkin and aforementioned conspiracy theorists I don’t dislike anyone. If I choose to not ‘like’ your comments it has nothing to do with your religion, social status, sexual preferences or race. It’s simply because I don’t agree with your comment. If you have a problem with me not falling in line behind you then…like I said, it’s your problem.
I recently ‘unfriended’ someone because of our different views regarding one of his posts. It was regarding recruitment to form a march on the Alberta Legislature to protest the NDP Government. Let me tell you up front I’m a child of the Sixties and I am all for peaceful protest and, if I felt strongly enough about an issue, I would join the sit-in, signs and all. In this case, for me, there was a lot to be wary of. First the photograph of a flag-waving man atop an excavator posed rebelliously against a bright blue sky. Then comes the text containing a list of “I love my:”s…everything from oil sands to farming, guns to freedom. The way I see it trying to encourage a ‘peaceful’ demonstration yet feeling the need to throw ‘guns’ in there is somewhat counter-productive but it is the ‘freedom’ part that really sticks with me. The fact that we have the freedom to gather on the government’s doorstep and protest is a freedom not granted in many countries around this world. You HAVE your freedom and it was that freedom you expressed when you voted that party into office. You also have the freedom to vote them out and if you want to peacefully protest everything they do until you can kick them to the curb then go for it. When I read the original post I went back through the comments from the Bundy camp in Oregon and everything from content to presentation was eerily similar and I stated that in my response. I did receive the expected pro-Bundy style responses but then my comment was deleted. It appears the poster didn’t like being compared to the home grown terrorists on the other side of the border. The original post remained however so I have to assume he supports this type of thing. I don’t support it so I ‘unfriended’ someone for the first time in all the years I have been on facebook.
In the old days (yes I hate those words too but in this case it fits) if anyone managed to get a public forum it was through recognized media and they were required to adhere to certain standards but thanks to the internet anyone can now have their moment in the spotlight. Generally this is a good thing but as this forum also provides a stage for the wack-a-doos it is up to the reader to investigate what you see and read.
A couple of years back a fellow by the name of Bill Schoel posted on a wildlife site regarding the BC government’s policy of aerial-gunning down wolves and how it was a necessity because (according to the writer) a friend of his had seen his dogs torn apart by a pack of wolves in downtown Kamloops, BC. Coincidentally I live in Kamloops and I’m pretty sure I would have heard about this incident. Further investigation revealed that Bill lives in Maryland and continually posts idiotic comments to stir the flames. There are a lot of people like Bill who post under false names or simply anonymously to fill some sort of void in their lives but it’s when you see the responses these posts get you realize how easily unthinking people get wrapped up in stuff like this. If I remember correctly a dozen or so hunters responded that they were ready to camp out in Kamloops to gun down those vermin. A simple search of the local news outlets online would have proven the story false and they wouldn’t have looked like the idiots they most certainly are.
Memes falsely accredited to famous people, altered photographs, misleading headlines, totally laughable conspiracy theories, sponsored comments, and outright fiction is flooding social media and it now becomes the responsibility of the reader to validate everything before accepting anything these days.
If you believe that the government is spraying chemicals in the air to ‘dumb-down’ the public then fine. I think it’s simply that through social media the dumbed-down segment of the public that has always been there now has an unfiltered voice and a built-in audience that, back in the days of responsible journalism, would have remained silent.
Off my soapbox now.
I have been scarce on both this blog and the facebook pages lately due to a few things but mostly I’m working on a third book (which isn’t going as well as the first two) and the finalizing of the second book. I’m on the third read-through of the print-proof of ‘Barking at Yesterday’s Moon’ and it should be uploaded in a few days. It is available as an ebook on Amazon.
To those whose blogs I usually follow on a regular basis I apologize for my absence but hopefully I can get back into the rhythm soon…although as Evan Morris says in “Barking at Yesterday’s Moon”:
“Things change and the sooner you realize that life isn’t perfect…that everything isn’t going to magically fall into place when you get all those ducks in a row the better off you’ll be. Every step we take in life has its own trials and tribulations. After we get those sorted out we take that next step and…more wandering ducks.”

 

‘Z’ BEFORE ‘E’ ‘CEPT AFTER….

This wasn’t the post I originally had set out for today. That one involves character development, change of plot lines and other assorted writing thoughts but I have been lead astray by one of those little ‘slices of life’ that occasionally crosses my path. Following is an unfinished blog post I wrote in early September:

“While picking up my grandson from school today (a semi-regular occurrence) I was treated to an interesting display of tax dollars at work. I was leaning on the fence around the playground when a large white cube van pulled into the field behind the slides and climbers. Three men in hi-vis vests tumbled out of the truck and walked over to one of the ramps leading up to the castle-like structure. One fellow knelt down and spun one of the letters the kids hold onto whilst navigating their way to the top. It was the letter ‘e’. He spun it a few times then walked back to the van and retrieved a wrench. The other two workers stood on either side of the structure and waited while the first fellow came back from the truck (about a forty-foot hike), tightened the ‘e’, and tested it again. Then they all marched proudly back to their vehicle and left the scene. Why it took a large van and three burly workers to tighten one letter I don’t know.”

That was as far as I got as I couldn’t see the post going anywhere after that.  I didn’t want to get into the politics of civil servants or unions or whatever the reason behind what I considered to be a waste of man hours/money so I elected to let it go. However…

play

Earlier this week I was waiting for my grandson in the usual spot when a smaller white van pulled into the field behind the playground. This time two men in hi-vis vests crawled out and walked to the climbing incline. One of them spun a letter. Déjà vu…it was the ‘e’ again. I can understand that. The letter ‘e’ is the most used and often abused letter in the English language so I can see that he would go off his nut more so than his twenty five brothers and sisters. I watched as, once again, one fellow walked back to the van to get a wrench while the other stood guard. I wondered why there were only two guys this time. Maybe they knew it was that rascal ‘e’ again and knowing that ‘e’ is generally a soft letter they figured they wouldn’t need all the backup that they’d sent out the first time. Ah…that first time. Seems to me something like this should only require a first time so perhaps they should be rethinking the repair. My suggestion would be to replace it with a lesser-used letter…like ‘z’. Kids don’t use ‘z’ as much as they use ‘e’ so that should solve the problem. Maybe not…but a 5 cent locking washer might…or even a shot of Loc-Tite. I assume either solution would be cheaper than sending two or three guys out to tighten a nut. Even with the reduced manpower this time the ending was the same as the first. A quick twist of the wrench, a spin test, and then off to tackle the next catastrophe or get a coffee to celebrate a job well done. See ya next month boys!

Okay, silly rant over. I leave you with a link to Patrick Jones’s blog. Patrick is another that has always supported me even to the extent of promoting ‘Barking at Yesterday’s Moon’ before I had uploaded it. I invite you to check him out but pour a coffee before you do. He has so much entertaining and informative content on his site that it could take you a while. Thanks Patrick!!!

http://thelindenchronicles.com/

HELLO BLOG….

Well hello Blog…my, it’s been a long, long time.

Me? Not much really. Life has been kinda getting in the way lately but mostly it’s because I haven’t had much to say. Even now I’m waiting for the sun to warm the back garden patch so I can get out there and clean up the weeds and winter residue. It seems there’s always something to be done.

Hillary’s running for Prez. I don’t know why but I feel good about that. Actually I do know why…it’s because I’ve been following some of the Republican candidates and, well, as the old saying goes “if you can’t say nuthin’ nice” y’know? Plus it really isn’t my place to comment on American politics…we’ve got enough on our plate with the Canadian supreme leaders.

Mia got tossed (by public vote) from The Voice. That does bother me but it also indicates the unsavvyness of those who do vote. Yes Blog I am aware there’s no such word as “unsavvyness”…no need to drop the squiggly red under it. Carly Rae Jepsen was “voted” off Canadian Idol a few years back. I wonder if she ever thinks about that. I wonder if she used her dismissal by the Canadian public to inspire her even more…sitting in front of her mirror saying “I’ll show you Canada”. I wonder who actually won that year? Can’t say as I remember the name. Sure I could google it but really, I don’t care. I also wonder how far Bob Dylan would have gone on American Idol…would he have even passed the auditions? I doubt it. In fact of the thirteen American Idol winners how many are household names? Four, perhaps five?

What’s up with all the Zombies? There’s a plethora of them crawling around on my television lately and I don’t know why. Of course I don’t know why a lot of shows are on my television. Obviously some people watch them or they wouldn’t be there. When I bought my big-screen I didn’t realize I was getting a digital version of the National Enquirer. I really don’t care to see how Kim can balance a champagne glass on her derriere but I gather some people do. A television critic surmises that it’s because people like to identify with reality actors. I’m sorry but if you can identify with the Kardashians then what the hell are you doing watching television? I’m also amazed that I didn’t get a spelling squiggly on “Kardashians”. Forget for a moment that “reality actors” is a bit of an oxymoron and consider that there are people out there “identifying” with these well-paid frauds. You’re not peeking into anyone’s secret life…just the life they get paid to show you. Name any reality show, whether “Honey Boo Boo, Duck Dynasty, or Storage Wars…they get paid to act real.

Sorry Blog, I don’t mean to rant. It’s just that when I sat down to write this I had no clear goal in mind, much the same as a lot of the politicians I mentioned earlier. I just wanted to touch bases, to let you know I’m still around.

I’m still writing my second book. I thought I was almost done but I’ve uncovered so many things I want to change and some more I want to add. Maybe it’s just a general funk I’m in right now but I actually considered scrapping the whole thing at one point. I can’t do that…my characters need me to resolve some issues. On my re-read I realized I left room to expand a particular scene and I hadn’t returned to fill out the details. I’m finishing that up now and it has become more of a pivotal part than I thought it would be and I’m really pleased with how it developed. Maybe taking a break was the solution to my frustration. It might just be a coincidence that prior to writing the new material I finally came up with a title I’m pleased with. After calling it “the sequel” for so long it now has an identity of its own. With that pressure off things seem much better now.

Okay Blog, side note: I decided to warm up a slice of left-over pizza to enjoy while I re-read this entry. Long story short…the plate was hot and slippery. Result: one piece of pizza and forty pieces of plate on the tiled kitchen floor.

Life happens.

WRITEs