The Apple Tree

18 09 2011

As a boy, I was fascinated with fruit trees and treasured orchards. The trees were so magically remarkable, and being able to pick a juicy-sweet cherry, fuzzy peach, sweet apricot, gritty pear or crunchy apple and eat it right away was a mystical experience. When I walked through orchards in the Penticton, B.C., area, I felt like I was in a
fantasy land where there were elves and fairies about.

We moved this summer to a house in Charleswood, in Calgary, and there is a marvellous apple tree in our back yard. The apples appear like a smaller version of the ones I have seen in the Okanagan region of British Columbia. Here is an image of one my son and I picked this morning, along with a ladybug friend who was passing by:

We picked a shopping bag full of these, and it was entertaining to put James onto my
shoulders to reach up and pick a few. For the ones way up high, we used sticks to knock them off and kept careful track of them as they came bumping down. Debbie, my wife, made a whole waft of apple crumble and we have been enjoying it all day. We have enough for tomorrow, and will be grateful for the apple tree in the coming years. Our house really has been a fine investment.


Incisive Roald Dahl

5 09 2011

Roald Dahl’s writing is brilliant and incisive, and a lot of it was based upon his extensive personal experiences. One of his great works, The Twits, makes astute observations about how a person’s outlook on life can affect his or her appearance. I am sure many of us have seen this in real life, as Dahl veritably must have done. Here is a passage from the engrossing beginning of the book.

When I was at our timeshare in Banff last month, I ran into a woman who really did exhibit that she had had ugly thinking for so many years that she had self-mutilated herself! I had started work on a computer owned by the facility, and had to complete a booking for a Science kit for the coming school year. I happened to glance up when the woman entered the room, and she looked aghast that someone would have the
audacity to be using the machine when SHE wanted it NOW! As I was finishing up
getting the thing arranged, an employee told me that there was someone who had
been waiting for ‘a long time’ to get onto the machine. Well, I could not make
it go any faster. My daughter then told me that the woman had complained to the
employee, whining, “Is there any sort of time limit on that machine?” I told
the employee that I was finishing off booking the kit and that I would be off
shortly. I sure felt sorry for the employee, and if the miserable woman is
married I think the mentally abused husband has likely had serious suicidal
thoughts. God help the pitiable children of this wretch, if she (it?) has any.
Poor wee bairns!  Who would like to have a wife or mother, whose poisonous essence created a face like the Quentin Blake image seen below?

The sad thing is that there are not a few people about who are similar to the curmudgeon I encountered. Others have an obtuse outlook while assuming they are absolutely entitled to what they want, when they want it. I ran into another twit at Fairmont Hot Springs in the summer who was so. I had just finished putting my son’s swimsuit into a spinner, and was about to put mine in. A smarmy twit, assuming it was fine to cut in, put his swimsuit in. I thought, ‘Well, it does not matter that much.’
Next, he put it in for a second spin, oblivious to others around him, and took
it out very slowly. A decent fellow, who had been lining up behind me, gave me
a knowing look. How unconscious are these horrid few, this band of twits, which go through life so? These are in the same band of buffoons that do things like walk into crosswalks when the ‘Don’t Walk’ red hand is flashing. By the way, morons, in Banff the countdown on the ‘don’t walk’ signal means the light is going to change at ‘zero’. It does not indicate that you have that number of seconds to get through the intersection. When you do so, people who have had to stop for your sorry carcasses while making left turns are forced to stop the flow of oncoming traffic and to run red lights. Your selfishness causes not just one to suffer, but many. You don’t choose the
semantics for the sign, a red hand is a universal indication that YOU DON’T
WALK. Perhaps we should simply weld iron bars onto our vehicles’ fronts and bowl
selfish asses over, so entitled twits can be culled and this would improve our
gene pools?

This summer, I was grateful to be conscious enough around these sorts of people in Banff and Fairmont to realize that most people actually are thoughtful and level-headed. My family encountered lots of truly pleasant people on the hiking trails and at our timeshares. It was actually a blessing to meet the twits, because they helped to set the base levels – they were clearly in the imperceptive sub-idiot zone. To those of
you who were so kind, I pray that you receive decent returns. For those of you
who somehow got through the Texas Gates and other entrances (God only knows how
you did that) to the places we visited, I suggest you read The Twits. Really, it IS all about you!

“Against stupidity the gods
themselves contend in vain.”

— Friedrich von Schiller