It’s ‘Only’ a Paper Cup?

30 01 2015


An everyday paper coffee cup

Started with a crispy spruce cone

On a moss-laden quiet forest floor

Where sunbeams sent loving arms

Through bracing misty air

And soft breezes sent the seeds

To peacefully tumble into loamy nests


Refreshing rain and the dawn’s dew

Led the eternal seed to ease into life

Silently connected to everything everywhere

Reaching up in all weather and seasons

To become a towering parent and provider

Rooted firmly in a cyclical community

Until ironic maturity led to a rapacious saw


Made into boards for creaky homes

Pounded into nebulous bleached pulp

Chemically modified and recycled

To become mass-produced cups

Transformed into uniform stacks of vessels

To be mindlessly used and thrown away

It’s ‘only’ a paper cup?



Midlife Crisis

4 01 2015



Midlife Crisis


Life is a stale bag of dry, slightly burnt, popcorn

Nothing much is enticing nor brings escape

From feelings of remoteness and isolation

Regrets that time has deliberately oozed away


Being is a repetitive routine of similar scenarios

An aging laboratory rodent scrabbling in another maze

Jaundiced and jaded outlooks for the new subjects

Knowing idealism will fade as the wrinkles sprout


He’s paid his dues and we’ll throw a standard party

Worn-out jokes, inflated speeches and cheap cake

When he’s soon gone I’ll be the elder statesman

Surviving and balding, staring in the cruel mirror


This mundane road turns on my way home

I’ve stopped here over 2,000 monotonous times

I hardly notice it as it is as familiar as breathing

A dirty winding slab of cracking heaving asphalt


On arthritic knees I take the familiar pathway

To escape the views of walls and ceilings

The grass is lifeless and the skies dismal

Trudging along and lost in a flow of anguish


Sober passion has become a dim memory

Money does not purchase blithe blissfulness

Time means nothing; it’s all a prescription blur

Spine alert creeping from moderate to severe


Life becomes a constant yearning to transcend

The everyday petty power plays of small minds

Daydreams of living in a world of simple choices

Instead of being a commodity with an expiry date

The Long and Winding Road

15 07 2014


image (5)

On Saturday night, under a fabulous full moon, Paul McCartney played at the Fargodome in Fargo, North Dakota, making my dream come true. The Beatles have always been my favorite band and being able to see one of the Fab Four was an incredible experience that I will never forget. I have nearly every Beatle album ever pressed and also have some of Paul’s other albums, from his Wings era. The Beatles were the Shakespeares of the 1960s music renaissance, the leaders of the pack, and McCartney is still in full form. When he came onto the stage, following a super scrolling video focusing upon his childhood to modern day, I was absolutely enthralled. Wow, what an honour to actually see one of the Fab Four live! He kicked off the concert with Eight Days a Week and then moved on for an enriching two-and-a-half hours of non-stop music. Seeing and hearing Paul and his band play songs that have been so much a part of my life really took me through time. Every song has a specific memory attached. When he sang oldies like All My Loving, And I Love Her and Eleanor Rigby they all took me back to the ‘60s, watching the Beatles cartoons on an Admiral 23-inch black and white television, and listening to the band’s records on 45s and 33.3 LPs in our little rented house at 302 6th Avenue NE. I had very blonde hair back then and we lived near Rotary Park, to the west of Little Italy in Calgary. Whenever I go back to the park, Rubber Soul songs play in my mind non-stop. Before he enthusiastically cranked out Paperback Writer Paul pointed out that the guitar he was using was the original one for the song, from the 1960s. His repertoire for the evening spanned his whole career, with him showing his talents on bass, lead and on the piano for heart-stopping renditions of Let It Be and The Long and Winding Road. In the second encore, Paul chose to play Yesterday and when he launched into the song he wrote 50 years ago the audience went “Oooohhhhhh. . . .” Paul also played his tribute song to John Lennon, Here Today, telling the audience that the song was about how we don’t often get to tell people how much we love and care about them. He played Maybe I’m Amazed for his deceased wife, Linda. To pay his respects to George, Paul came up with a ukulele and noted how George was an enthusiast for the instrument. He told us about how, after George had written Something, he went to visit Harrison and played the tune on a ukulele for him. Paul started the song on the little instrument, and then the band launched into the rest of the tune. I had to wipe away a few tears at that point.

Paul has had hard tragedies in his life, but he has not allowed them to put him down. He just turned 72 last month and he is full of health and vigour. Being able to play music and sing non-stop for over two-and-a-half hours is a firm indication of his physical fitness and overall health. I was inspired by him, and admired how he has dealt with the loss of loved ones – Linda, John and George being just three of them. He really shows himself to be a real, caring human being. Paul even paid tribute to Jimi Hendrix, by playing a snippet of Foxy Lady and going for the feedback from the amps. He did so in recognition of Hendrix opening with Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band at a concert, with the Beatles in the audience, just days after the iconic album’s release. Paul’s charisma has not faded and I am eternally grateful that I got to see him. It was a long and winding trip – Calgary to Denver, over three-hour layover, then to Fargo and racing to get to the venue on time along with waiting over six hours for my flights back — but definitely worth it. I have heard many people say that we should follow our dreams in life and I have enjoyed some of the fantastic actualities of this approach. We only go around once, it is best to make it meaningful. God bless you, and thank you, Sir Paul McCartney.

Contractors’ Blues

30 04 2014


images2TT0YUICIf you are a home owner, it is quite probable you have encountered a rotten building contractor or two. My wife and I have run into three notably dirty-rotten-cheating-LYING-crooked ones in the past seven or eight years. In fact, I was not at all surprised to learn that someone actually created a book of excuses for contractors and that some would actually use the book DAILY! I have joked about this sort of book idea for years. Here are a few of the idiocies we have encountered:


  1. My son had to have an emergency tonsillectomy.
  2. Someone broke into my truck.
  3. Someone stole my cellphone.
  4. I couldn’t get it done because the ‘other guy’ (a concrete cutter) didn’t show up.
  5. I don’t do the drywall stuff around the window in the interior. I just put in the windows. I never said I’d do that. That wasn’t in my quote.
  6. I don’t remove the dirt that I dug up to put in the window wells. I never said I’d do that. That wasn’t in my quote.
  7. I didn’t know I was supposed to use treated lumber around the frames. I’ve never done that. Just paint it, or whatever.
  8. You never told me when you wanted it finished (after we had agreed on two weeks in our first meeting).



  1. First, he hired a fellow with a large backhoe to dig out our retaining wall and left the dirt so that there was a narrow single lane left in the alley. When we insisted they push the dirt into a more realistic setting, piled up beside the hole, he barked, “I KNOW WHAT I’M DOING!” The local ‘sheriffs’, busybodies, bored old men with Bylaw on speed dial, lost no time in calling in the authorities. So, we were handed a stop-work order from the City of Calgary and had to go through all sorts of stupidities – a land survey, engineered drawings, a bitter spinster dragon woman in the planning department (I’m sure she has a beehive and cat’s-eye glasses) – to get the wall completed. To get revenge upon the old geezers who repeatedly called bylaw to complain about the project, I ended up prolonging it and not cleaning anything up until bylaw called me. I made friends with the bylaw officer, and she was sympathetic because she has to deal with all sorts of pathetic grievances from people who live to complain. She appreciated my friendliness and my quip, “Oh! I was wondering when you’d call! What would you like us to do?” Anyway, the contractor who was in charge of getting the wall done had a plethora of lame excuses for never getting to work. The wall was very well built, after it was finally done, but the anguish of nearly six months to get to simple project completed destroyed the appreciation. The fool led to a simple project needing a chain link fence, tarpaulins, reflectors, signage and a host of other needless measures that are ubiquitous in our modern world of liability paranoia. We found out that he is no longer in the business, thank goodness.



This was our most recent deadbeat of a contractor. We hired him to redo much of the interior of a half-duplex we are putting onto the market. Basically, he buggered up so badly we let him go, paid him for what he did and then had to redo many things he monkeyed up beyond belief. The worst flub was when he left a water line leaking and it destroyed most of the new flooring in the kitchen! Bugs Bunny would snarl, “What a maroon!” The fellow is a menace, and we cannot see how he actually makes any money at all. The dolt showed up about every third day for a couple of hours, and then disappeared. He would not answer his phone, nor reply to texts, unless we threatened to do things like hurl his tools into the backyard. Here are some of his lines:

  1. I was rushing to get here and got rear-ended. Then, I had to go to the hospital. (There was no evidence of any collision on the back of his truck and he was functioning normally)
  2. Someone stole my truck!
  3. I was at the police station because someone stole my truck (we wondered how he got to the police station, and he then slipped up and said he drove his truck there).
  4. My cellphone ran out of battery power, so I could not get your calls or texts.
  5. My cellphone is broken, so I could not get your calls or texts.
  6. I lost my wallet. Can you give me cash to go buy materials? I’m flat broke.
  7. I could not buy gas for my truck because my bank is in Okotoks, I lost my bank card and I have to go to Okotoks to get money. So, I couldn’t make it over to work. (In modern times, this is not realistic. The guy could have gone to any branch of his bank to arrange SOMETHING). We still wonder how he got money to buy gas, to get to Okotoks.
  8. After despairing of hearing from the fellow, we went over to the duplex to find a childishly written sign sitting in the unfinished kitchen. “Debbie. Leave $200 so I can go buy a replacement door. I am going out and will be back later.” What door? And, the fellow never returned anyway. He DID have his cellphone this time but neglected to take it out to call us. He did not lock the door when he left.
  9. “I’ll be right over!” We went to the place, and started to clean up around the outside, clip hedges, etc., knowing he would be late. Over three hours later, after multiple communications, he texted: “I’m loading tile at my warehouse. I did not mean for you to go there and wait for me. YOU should have waited until I got there and let you know I’d arrived.”

Thank the Lord not all contractors are like these buffoons. We have had some good experiences with contractors, and mixed ones too. We have taken to getting references before hiring anybody now, and are prepared to pay more for sane service. One cannot put a price on avoiding the angst attached to people like the above-mentioned morons! Really, these fellows should get out of construction and make a fortune writing blues songs. By the way, the author of ‘The Contractor’s Book of Excuses’ is Karyn Zweifel and you can buy her book online, should you be a deadbeat contractor with less imagination for making lame excuses.


March 25 – Fifth Day of Spring

26 03 2014

P1020347 P1020348


Gunboat Grey

A steady ooze of east ice air

Hope torn from Pandora’s Box

A forbidding sarcastic jest

That greedily lingers

With gloomy dry death crows

Croaking on whistling wings

As the punitive snowflakes

Relentlessly float miserably

Arctic fingers reach

With frigid steel claws

Invading at each opportunity

Crushing souls face flat down

A dirge dragging everyone

Into a slammed-shut oubliette

Existential Shadow

22 01 2014



Existential Shadow

Witnessing the chromatic ambivalence

The transient image briefly mused

Is the snow so unsullied white

As it creates all harmonious colours

Alone but not at all lost

An unnoticed passing opaque echo

Of a being wandering serenely

In a landscape in no need of label

The Beauty of Impermanent Sand Castles

27 12 2013


Sand Castles, metaphors for how life is so changeable and transient. It is not so important how nice the sand castles look, nor whose is better than whose, nor if they get completely tweaked before the next rogue wave engulfs them. Instead, the beauty is in the act of creating the castles and frantically putting protective moats to surround them in the hopes that they will make it through the next surging oceanic onslaught. Also, if someone accidently crushes a  proud turret — decorated with smooth stones and bits of sea shells — while stomping by that is an opportunity to rebuild. Reforming, shifting locations, joking about the last castle that is now a ruin, chattering at the naughty ocean for reclaiming her sand, simply enjoying the moments, no comparisons, not conscious of time, feeling the sands’ grittiness, the smells of salt and sunburn, hearing the eternal ocean, perceiving ponderous pelicans . . . . A way of being, rather than striving to become the king of impermanence.