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.”

 

Should You Give Up Writing?

Lit World Interviews

I’ve always found the different ways that we scribblers describe our experiences with writer’s block very interesting. Also the different ways the seasoned writers suggest getting over it. Some suggestions are to work around your block, or force yourself to write through it, even if what you write is rubbish. Other advice is to write something completely different. We won’t mention those rather hurtful cries of, “Stop being such a wussy. Adorn yourself in adult underwear! Plumbers don’t get plumbers block!” All of these things can work with a bit of effort and confidence, but one bit of advice that you seldom see is to take a break from writing completely. As if a week away from writing anything will totally strip you of the ability to write at all. It is true that if you don’t do something for a good long while, you could get a little rusty…

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BIRTHDAY

As of February 26 I am 24,820 days old…or about 595,680 hours if you prefer. That’s approximately 35,740,800 minutes or 2,144,448,000 seconds. Suddenly 68 years doesn’t seem so bad. My heart has beaten 3,800,000,000 times (give or take a million or two) and I`ve inhaled/exhaled roughly 714,816,000 times. No wonder I’m tired.

I touch on age often in my books. In White Wolf Moon Evan is explaining to Jenn how the years don’t disappear…they remain inside you:

“Sure I’m physically sixty.” He touched his chest. “But in here it doesn’t count for much. When I turned sixty, fifty-nine didn’t disappear. It’ll always be part of who I am. Every year I’ve lived is buried somewhere in this battered old body which means I’m still fifty-nine, and forty and thirty and twenty…”

Yes that svelte and dapper young man still abides in some secret hidden part of this old body. Occasionally he manages to crawl up and out but he finds that the landscape has changed. The lines and weight that 68 years have wrought is alien terrain. Jeans that once required that fashionable Carnaby Street belt now hang in there without any support whatsoever. There’s nothing in the world that can bring back the percentage of human dignity surrendered when your wife tells you to tuck it in and you’ve already tucked. Time is a cruel master.

In the sequel to White Wolf Moon I describe it this way:

Evan leaned against the bathroom sink, listening as the mirror told his tale. The problem is that mirrors don’t write fiction. He could easily forgive the mirror a smidgeon of artistic license; perhaps a little fib or two, even an outright lie…but mirrors don’t do fiction. He stared silently into the realization that the disheveled sixty-something creature staring back at him was indeed sixty-something. His eyes were dark, the laugh-lines of yesterday were annoyingly apparent today, and his hair had become most unreliable. He ran his fingers through the grey shock, placed it carefully then softly sighed as it slipped back down over his forehead.

“Nowadays when I wake up feeling like crap,” he said, “I stare into the mirror and I look like crap. In the old days it didn’t matter how I felt I at least looked good. Sure, I can psyche myself up…tell myself I’m feeling great and do a little yahoo dance on the way to the bathroom but the mirror always shows and tells. It could lie but does it? Oh no…whatcha see is whatcha get Morris. Damn mirrors.”

And he explains it to his wife Marie this way:

“It took sixty years to get this way and it’ll take sixty more to fix it. Hardly seems worth the effort.”

A lot has happened in the last 6.8 decades and I was there. More importantly I paid attention. Through simple osmosis I’ve sucked up a wealth of seemingly unimportant trivia, from housecleaning to simple mechanics to…whatever. I suppose that makes me wise in an offhanded kind of way…the senior. The last time I held this title I was in high school and I really wasn’t very good at it. I didn’t ask to be a senior…it just sort of happened. All of a sudden I had this responsibility to set a good example for all those junior kids, some of which were older than I but obviously not wiser.

That’s how you get to be a senior in high school. Passing. That’s all there is to it. All you have to do to be a senior in life is survive. It’s pretty simple actually.

There’s only one problem with this system of seniority by age. For every wise village elder there is a village idiot. Through the simple act of survival the village idiot could eventually become the village elder. Throughout history many societies have fallen due to an old village idiot.

But I digress and I’m running out of space.

I don’t have a problem with being nearly 10 in dog years, in fact I don’t normally think about it. I can watch quiz shows and answer the history questions not because I studied but because I was there when these things were happening. I’ve gone from one channel on a fuzzy b&w television to a kazillion choices on a big flat screen. I’ve been to drive-in movies perched in the bed of a pickup truck and I’ve watched some of the same movies on Blue Ray whilst parked on my couch. I’ve marveled at so many changes over the years with a sense of wonderment and appreciation that people born in the past twenty years can’t understand. They’ve grown up with the technology and gadgets designed to make life easier. They have no idea what it’s like to head out to the pump to bring in a bucket of water and heat it on the wood stove to take a bath. Times have changed and will forever change but the learning stays the same. Not just book learning but good old fashioned life learning. It’s that basic knowledge and common sense that surrounds us all but so few seem to grasp yet, according to Evan in the sequel to White Wolf Moon, it really isn’t all that difficult:

“It’s no big secret…just pay attention. Eyes, ears, and mind open…mouth shut. Nobody ever learned anything by talking.” Evan squinted and shook his index finger at her. “Listening…that’s the teacher.”

Me2a s

 

YOU EVER HAVE ONE OF THOSE LIVES?

FLAGApril, 1955. The deck beneath my feet shuddered and groaned as the RMS Ascania pulled away from Liverpool bound for Montreal. This was to be one of her last trans-Atlantic crossings as a year later she would be pulled from service and scrapped, leaving only her bell and a large model showing her interior on display at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic in Halifax. From her maiden voyage in 1925 to this one she’d had a storied career. During WW2 she was an Armed Merchant Cruiser then she became an integral part of the Halifax Escort Force serving with the North Atlantic Escort Force on convoy protection duty and deployed to New Zealand. In 1942 she was returned to the UK as a Troopship. The following year she was modified into a Landing Ship Infantry vessel and took part in the Invasion of Sicily and, in 1944, the Anzio Landings and landings in the south of France. After the war she was returned to her ocean liner routes, the fifth of Cunard’s six “A” class liners. Perhaps her reluctance to begin this journey simply meant that she was aware of the fate awaiting her in just a few short months but I surmise the lady was just tired…weary.

This is a roundabout and somewhat overly-dramatic way of explaining that I came to Canada in 1955 aboard that great old ship. I was eight years old at the time and Canada was somewhere beyond the pointy end of the boat and England was somewhere beyond the not-so-pointy end. I must confess I knew nothing of the history of the Ascania until I started researching her for this blog.mi0301ascania Now I look at the photograph of my sister and I against the railing “somewhere in the middle of the North Atlantic” and it seems more real somehow.

This has been a difficult blog to put together, for a couple of reasons. I’m finding myself reminiscing about all the sights and sounds of a new country that was so alien to a wee Scottish lad and while I believe this could constitute an interesting series of blogs it isn’t what I set out to accomplish with this one.

I, like so many other landed immigrants from the 1940s and 1950s, assumed that Canadian Citizenship was automatic with permanent residence. Nae s’ fast wee Scottish lad…you’ve been assuming wrong. Apparently I’ve blissfully gone about the last sixty years just acting like a Canadian. Okay I don’t really know how I would have acted if I had known I wasn’t Canadian but obviously I pulled it off because nobody, including myself, saw through my deceitfully clever disguise. I have walked among Canadians unnoticed for six-decades, infiltrating their schools, radio stations, and media outlets. I have assimilated into their culture and generally been able to move undetected along any path I chose to explore.

All that ended today.citizen

As of three pm, Thursday, January 15, 2015…I am a Canadian Citizen.

Assimilation complete…I am finally one of us.natural-flag-of-canada

ANOTHER YEAR OVER….


This is another of my community newspaper writings from the seventies. Yes I admit it…taking something from thirty years ago and adding a couple of lines to update it is the lazy approach but hey, it’s the Holidays!

New Years. Everybody stops eating, drinking, smoking, running red lights, wearing unmatched socks, and arguing with the kids.

Why do people make promises they know they can’t keep? Getting elected comes to mind but other than that I think it’s because they honestly believe that this year is going to be their year and if they can just get it together everything will be so gosh-darned swell.

Every January First I get it together and spend the rest of the month trying to figure out where I put it but this year will be different. For starters I’ve decided to make my resolutions easier.

I’m going to stop arguing with anything bigger and hairier than me except for maybe the parking meter guy. It’s tough to quit cold turkey. I’m not going to go trail-riding. Horses and I just don’t get along and they’re also bigger and hairier than I am. So are cows but cows don’t run as fast. Neither does the parking meter guy. I’m also going to stop arguing with inanimate objects such as taps, toilets and bank machines. They always win anyway. I’m giving up skiing. It’s far too costly and dangerous. Besides I’ve only been skiing once in my life and one plummet down a mountainside is enough. I vaguely remember trying to scream but when I opened my mouth nothing came out. They heard me at the top of the hill so I was obviously traveling faster than the speed of sound. I’m not going to honk my horn at jaywalkers because they have a much shorter life expectancy than I do and I’d like their remaining days to be peaceful. I’m not going to try to figure out rap lyrics. It’s impossible to make sense of a thousand monosyllable string that doesn’t have to mean anything as long as it rhymes and follows the popular beat. I’m not going to try to figure out politicians for the same reason. I’m no longer going to visit those ‘anti-wolf’ pages until they can come up with more imaginative names to call me or until one single person on them makes sense. This goes back to the whole rap thing again.

I am definitely going to make this my year. I’m going to approach each day with a new improved and easy-to-use attitude. I’m going to be nice to rich people. I don’t know why it just seems like a plan. I’m going to save up all the free airmiles everybody throws at me and give them to the lady next door with the loud stereo. I’m going to stop and smell more roses, pat more puppies and skritch more cats… except for the miserable deaf one that lives next door.

And above all I’m not going to start anything that I can’t

Me2b

Cassandra

Somewhere within the madness, buried deep beneath cluttered chaos, lies a spark of logic.

An overshadowed flickering light protects a key for which there appears to be no lock. Somewhere there’s a voice speaking words to impress the impressionable, telling those who would listen how all things are meant to be. And somewhere there sits the untold truth. White satin gently swirling in the breeze.

Dear Cassandra.

Her murder-red hair an uncomfortable contrast to bleached flesh. Her light, a lifetime away, casts no shadow as ragged souls already lost pass her in search of newer playgrounds. They grew too old too fast. Where once they laughed and played there is silence.

She calls but no-one hears. Their minds are filled with whispered promise, their hearts pound with a cold and fluid emptiness. They have long since forsaken the fragility of her magic. Trapped within the spark she smiles while her moon blue eyes weep. This forgotten child of grace bows her head and slowly moves to where she cannot see the darkness of the passing crowd.

There amid the purple blooms of Everspring she sits and quietly sings while waiting for the dreamer who truly still believes.

This Mistress of illusion. Her elusive touch a fleeting moment in an otherwise predictable world.

Whimsical mysteries of innocence lay abandoned about while her thoughts drift to another time. It was easier then. There weren’t as many answers. No-one questioned how or why the stallion flew. It just did. It soared across a perfect sky on wings filled with the warm winds of dreams.

But stallions fly no more. The winds of dreams are nothing more than cold empty spaces banished to some dark place. There are those who think only with their head. For them it is such a small world in which an existence beyond their sight is unimaginable. If they could but touch her they would feel the freedom that her soft skin holds.

But they cannot touch and they cannot feel.

In youth they nurtured upon her. Their minds were hungry for all that she would give. But the frenzied feedings soon grew fewer. Once they came and stayed but now some never come at all. They just pass in the darkness, over the hill…on the other side of Everspring.

There will come a time when a pair of eyes eager for adventure will peek out over the soft green grasses anxious for just a glimpse of what might be. There will come a black night when the white stallion once again spreads his wings and flies into those uncharted depths of magical curiosity. There might even be a time when the pudgy dragon coughs and wheezes his way through some comedic forest in search of whatever it is dragons seek. That time may come soon or it could take forever.

She lifts a memory from her feet and holds it to her chest Somewhere on the breeze the voice of a child whispers her name. She raises her eyes as a young boy climbs to the top of the hill. As he approaches she sees the tears of innocence glistening in his soft blue eyes and when he stops before her she feels the sadness of misplaced wonderment.

The passing crowd failed to notice his absence. It left him behind to drown in their twisting tide of mumbles.

He’s not like them. There is warmth here…and trust. Here nothing would be said. There are no words more powerful than his simply being.

Their thoughts intermingle in subdued exchange and with his head upon her lap he sleeps…and dreams.

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