Friday, June 11, 2010

...and the beat goes on!

Hello all and especially to my special friend, (you know who you are). I am sorry that I have not continued with blogging. Either writing or visiting all of your sites but it is all I can do to turn this stupid contraption on at the end of the day to deal with minor things. What turned out to be a minor annoyance, to me at least, has lead to something painfully more difficult to deal with. Not to mention a Doctor (ahem) whom I believe, is more concerned with his pending retirement to dealing with his patients.

Towards the end of last year, you may remember me complaining about an injury to my knee which I sustained while playing hockey. At the time, my “Doctor” informed me that I “may” have torn the ligaments to my outer knee. And, that there was nothing he could do for me at the time. I was told to ice it and stay off of it as much as possible. Which, as a good little soldier, I did. I think, because I have a high physical pain threshold, I thought I was moving my way through the injury. Not so. As the months passed, and the icing and Advil treatment increased, the inflammation has become worse. In the past 2 weeks alone, I have gone through almost 60 Extra Strength (400mg) Liqui-Gel Advil's. Lord knows what that is doing to my stomach.

I can no longer walk without the use of crutches and any weight on my leg or foot is excruciating. Needless to say, trying to get any sleep has been adventurous, to say the least. The swelling has moved down my leg to my ankle which just increases my discomfort. Earlier this week, yet another visit to my “Doctor”, and he, at long last, recommended that I go for X-Rays and that he would schedule an MRI. But, he said, “I'm not sure how far down the road that will be”. Thanks......for nothing, I thought. I could feel his eyes on me as I lumbered out of his office in extreme discomfort. Many thoughts come to mind at this time but nothing appropriate to write so, I will keep them to myself.

Needless to say, life is not all about me however and so it goes. I have quickly become aware that the lives of a few of our Blog friends have been touched with the loss of loved ones including the loss of one our own, Renee. Perhaps, in the back of my mind and in my heart, there were indeed some inevitabilities that I knew were going to pass. And yet, these are the things that are so far out of our grasp that it is all we can do to hold onto today. Funny, how as I sit here a moment and think of such things, that my pain appears to be temporarily bearable. Life........go figure.

I must say this however, much to my surprise. When I logged on to blogger for the first time since the Christmas Holidays, I was half expecting those who had signed on as followers would have long vacated this sorry site. But lo and behold, there you all were (are), exactly as I left so long ago. Hmmm! Perhaps you are wondering what possessed me to, after all of this time, to log back in and to post something so innocuous. Well, the truth is, I have not bothered to check my email account for this site either for obvious reasons. But tonight, more out of curiosity and distraction, I punched the 'ON' button just to see if this dinosaur would roar back to life. It did and a part of me did as well. Especially when I read some of the accumulated back mail that had accumulated.

I hope at this time that you can all bear with me and understand that it was without malice or intent that I walked away for awhile. Perhaps it was the wish of a Higher Power that possessed me to hit the 'ON' button tonight and get back into life. For a few minutes at least, I was able to forget the constant throbbing and realized that the beat goes on. Take care people.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Goodbye 2009......Hello 2010

Well, I'm ringing out the old year somewhat under the weather. My nose is running like Niagara Falls. I have a concussion from the sneezing. My body aches all over, my head is pounding and even my eyes hurt! This was not exactly how I wanted to spend my time off. Nor is it the way I would like to be ringing in the New Year. Oh well; such is life. All I can hope for is that this is not an omen of things to come in 2010. Needless to say, seeing 2009 fall by the wayside won't be that hard to do. Not that it was a difficult year, (I've had worse), but, when evaluating the past 365 days, I can see room for improvement.

From a health standpoint, now that I have hit the big Five-O, I have to pay closer attention to my diet. Diet meaning more along the lines of what and how much I am eating as opposed to going on a diet. Diet's are good for some, I suppose, but if you want to constantly fail, I wouldn't recommend it. Especially for me. For one, I like to cook. And two, I like to eat what I cook. Part of the problem this past year has been injuries to my old body which has slowed my recovery period. I usually play sports all year long. Pick a season and I will tell you the sport. And this past year, I have added bike trekking to the list. And when I am injured and can't get out there doing what keeps the flab off, well let's just say, it ain't pretty. When I look down at my feet, I can still see my toes........barely. I'm still a couple of weeks away from my knee injury to completely heal and then, with any luck, I can get back out and play the rest of my hockey season. Fingers crossed!

Another way I wanted to make a change for 2010 was in donating to worthy causes. One in my backyard and one in somebody else' to speak. On Christmas morning, while sitting back having my coffee, there was a program put on by The Hospital for Sick Children Foundation. With every gut-wrenching story, my heart went on a roller coaster ride which did not always end happily. To say that I had leaky eyes would have been an understatement extraordinaire. Recognizing that every little bit helps, I made a monthly pledge that, based on what I heard, would help to generate enough money to continue to further the research in children's illnesses and find the cures or at best, assist in the treatment. I have no doubt that if you saw the little one's that I saw, your heart would melt too!

Now, earlier this year while I was getting ready for work, I was watching one of those Breakfast Television shows that we all have. My favourite is Breakfast Television which broadcasts out of Toronto. The upbeat atmosphere of this particular morning crew always ensures that I leave for work in good spirits. Earlier this year, Jennifer Valentyne, who does the Live Eye segment of the show, traveled to Rwanda with The Courage Brothers and World Vision to witness some to the water projects that this group has devoted part of their life to. Tomorrow, at 2pm sharp, they will be conducting their Polar Bear Dip 2010. You can read up on it here. Needless to say, it is a chilly affair, well worth the cause and generates money for creating clean water for those communities that so desperately need it. This is one of the options that I am thinking about.

A second option is to sponsor a child from one of these countries in need. Hopefully, whereby the money is more focused on the individual child. Decisions, decisions.

Okay, before I go any further, I need to say this. As a general and personal rule when it comes to charities and donations, I never and I mean ever divulge any of my actions or intentions. The reason being is that I think broadcasting it takes away a certain part of the action itself. To me it should be selfless and humble. But I think, once in a Blue Moon, if you tell people what you are doing, it may generate some action within them as well. If possible that is. Dropping money into somebody's hand is a different matter because to me, it helps an individual with a face immediately. What they choose to do with that money, I have no control over. Money handed over to the likes of World Vision where they seek out the best possible way to spend and distribute that money well, I will leave that up to their expertise. Personally, I used to hate such organizations because the feedback coming back was that executives were lining their pockets with the donations. Or, that corruption within those countries in need was always front page news and didn't seem worthy. Now my thoughts have changed based on the hands on actions such as The Courage Brothers and Jennifer Valentyne.

I took a bit of a pause here because I did make up my mind and chose to do both. Tomorrow, I will donate to the Polar Bear Dip. I'm not that brave (or stupid) to plunge into freezing cold water (not intentionally at any rate). Let's face it, my heart would probably stop. What I did just finish doing was to sponsor a child. Her name is Fatimata, she is six years old and comes from Mauritania. I'm supposed to receive an information package withing the next couple of weeks and will post more information and possibly a photo of her. I know you will love her. She's a cutie.

So, where am I going with all of this. A new year is upon us. Everyday we have our own personal struggles that life tries to trip us up with. But, compared to some others, we live a life that is fairly safe and somewhat secure. It's pretty safe to say that we do not expect to be overrun by a bunch of fanatics hellbent on trying to murder us in your sleep. And it's also pretty safe to say that if you are thirsty, all you have to do is to turn the tap on in your kitchen and fill a glass of fresh clean water without any side effects. For literally the price of a coffee a day, we as individuals, can make quite a difference in a child's life either in our own backyard or the backyard of one of our World communities. Open up an atlas, close your eyes, and randomly pick spot and I am pretty sure that somebody there could use your help. On the World Vision web page I was on, there were another 2011 names waiting for a heart like yours.

So, as I sniffle my way out of this year, I would like to convey the very best wishes of a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year to all of my Blogger Friends and their families out there. I know that in some cases life has presented many obstacles for you. It tested your patience, your understanding, compassion and empathy. But you survived the year so don't lose focus on the pluses. Remember every time you needed to go to the well, “just one more time” and remember not just the journey but the experience. It may come in handy some time soon if not for yourself, then maybe for one of your neighbours.

I will leave you with this little poem by William Arthur Ward:

“Another fresh new year is here...
Another year to live!
To banish worry, doubt and fear,
To love and laugh and give!

This bright new year is given me
To live each day with zest...
To daily grow and try to be
My highest and my best!

I have the opportunity
Once more to write some wrongs,
To pray for peace, to plant a tree,
And sing more joyful songs!”

Happy New Year Everybody

Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas.....gone to the Dogs!

In case you haven' t figured it out yet, I have a soft spot for a couple of little furballs by the name of Daisy and Jake whom I paid a little Christmas visit. This is Daisy's second Christmas and Jake's first. Jake is still a baby although he has kind of outgrown Daisy already. Needless to say, they provided me with a couple of happy memories when I watched them tackle their loot from Santa Paws! Daisy, with the better sniffer and a little more experience, led the way. Jake didn't seem to mind. Spoiled just a bit or what. But what they give back in love and affection is priceless. My friend is lucky to have these two and I don't mind making them happy too!

From my trip through Blogland, I know you all had your own very special Christmas memories and what memories they are. I just thought I would share a couple of mine with you all. Enjoy!

Well...can we open 'em up or you gonna make us suffer all day?

Oh boy! Oh boy! Oh boy!

Ya got enough tape on here bub?

Help me out here, will ya Jake.

That'a boy! Your not as dumb as you look!

Okay, okay I got it. You can go now!

See how easy that was.


Tum de dum de dum! Snacks for my tummy tum tum!

We hit it big Jake! Not sure how that happened!

A regular Smorgasbord!

Did we both get the same?

Hey! A toy too!

Let's have some of these first.

Not done figurin' all this paper stuff yet.

Hey Daisy, whatcha got there?'s mine...had my name on it!

I need a little snoozer. Wake me in a few will ya?

Never mind...I'll (zzzzzzz) catch (zzzzzzz) ya later.....zzzzzzzzzzzzzz!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Oh Holy Night

Joyeux Noël tout le monde! Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas

It's done! It's over! The hustle and bustle; the second guessing and the fine tuning of the menu. Now we can all sit back. Take it all in and enjoy the coming hours in whatever fashion that has become our tradition. That is, if you have not left anything to the bitter end, like gift wrapping for instance. And of course, right to the end, I was reminded of how fortunate of a life I have. In my final dash to pick up some last minute items, a solitary figure sat on the ice cold ground in front of a local shopping mall. He was rhythmically strumming his guitar to sheet music which lay in front of him and singing, with a very fine voice, Christmas Carols. In front of him, a red box to collect whatever offering passersby could spare. I went in the store and as quickly as possible, grabbed the last of my necessaries and exited along the outside of this man so I could intentionally pass in front of him. I stopped and dropped in some folding money alongside the cold coins that sat at the bottom of his box. I was rewarded with a wide toothed grin and a thank you. As I walked away, he continued to sing, in tune and with grace.

To me, this man was not begging. He was earning what little people paid to hear him sing, if only for a few brief moments. I'm quite pissed at myself right now because, although I did have the time, I did not stop to talk with this fellow. Yes, I may have dropped in some cash, but I could have been more charitable and found out what his story was instead of trying to guess while I journeyed home. On my way home, my brain ran crazy with questions as to what could this man, at this late moment be trying to accomplish that he was not able to do earlier. Or perhaps that was just me trying to appease myself for not stepping up to the plate. In my mind and in my heart, I have failed.

Now, as I sit and reflect of the things that I could have done, it does me no good. The moment was there, and I blew it. To me, the money that I dropped in his box, is meaningless. To this man, later on it may have been helpful toward whatever it was he was trying to accomplish. But I forgot a very valuable lesson. That this man , this fellow human being, was humbling himself at this special time of the year to make a little Christmas for himself and perhaps others in his life. I will never know. Although I never wish to ever have to encounter this kind of situation again, I know I will. Maybe there is hope that the next time, I will slow down a little and get it right.

And now, tonight as we get in our comfy's and settle in to enjoy the Christmastide with our families and friends, I do not want to forget my blogger friends out there. We all come from different backgrounds and celebrate Christmas in many ways. Some of us may have had to tighten our belts a little and be grateful for our circumstances such as they are. In true Christmas Spirit, we provide merriment regardless of those circumstances and have the memories in our hearts and photo albums as proof. Tonight I am taking this time to write this little blurb as not only a reminder to myself for my earlier transgression, but also to remember all of you.

From Mr. Beaks, Mr. Belvedere, (my Budgie boys) and myself, we would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas. May you all enjoy a safe and happy holiday season filled with many happy and treasured memories. Wherever you are and whatever your traditions. Keep the Spirit of Christmas forever in your hearts and remember this, “There, but for the Grace of God, go I”

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Christmas Book and The Ballad of Befana

Well, the days are tumbling off of the calendar faster than the rising anticipation in a child's eyes. Crowds still are hurrying and scurrying trying to get in the last of their shopping done. Most everything I needed to do at this point, is done. Save for the food items which I will get in the next couple of days. The shopping malls, as far as I was concerned, did not appear as chaotic as I had expected. Either people are a little more organized with their shopping or have scaled it down some. I did hear some crying though and saw a few rivers of tears flowing. Some of it was even coming from children. But all in all, I didn't think it was that bad. Maybe I'm just looking only for the good.

About an hour or so ago, I did go out and be a kid for a little while. Sorry no pics....forgot my camera but I will take some next time. Anyways, in the city where I live, we have a skating rink in front of our City Hall. So, our neighbouring city decided that they too, wanted to do something similar for their fair citizens. I live right on the cusp of the two, so I get to share in everything. They installed it in front of one of the shopping plazas and today was the “Grand Opening” for the rink. Needless to say, I needed to get out and give it a spin, wonky knee and all. It was fun just to skate around weaving in and out of the parents holding onto their children as well as some of the adults who were just learning how to skate. Let's just say that there were a few snowy bottoms. I didn't want to overdo it because I want to get back to hockey in the coming year but, I still had fun. There is just something captivating about a crowd of smiling happy faces enjoying the winter this close to Christmas.

Anyways, as of noon on Christmas Eve, I will be off of work until the New Year and I am looking forward to that break more than I thought I would. It's been a busy year with a lot of change and now I can take some much needed time to rest and reflect. My plan is to not try and visit everybody in one day. Santa, it seems has that job pretty well covered so I will leave that miracle to him. I plan on spreading it out a bit, stretching it out as long as I can. Less stress that way I figure. I'm guessing that many of you are in the same boat and are just trying to survive the next few days before enjoying your time with family and friends. Just take it easy and enjoy the time. There is no such thing as a perfect Christmas at least not counting the first one. And with that, I will leave you with this poem that I dug out of my favourite Christmas book called, appropriately enough, 'The Book of Christmas'. The title of the poem is , 'The Ballad of Befana (An Epiphany Legend)' and was written by Phyllis McGinley. Enjoy!

The Ballad of Befana
(An Epiphany Legend)

Befana the Housewife, scrubbing her pane,
Saw three old sages ride down the lane,
Saw three gray travelers pass her door -
Gaspar, Balthazar, Melchior.

"Where journey you, sirs?" she asked of them.
Balthazar answered, "To Bethlehem,

For we have news of a marvelous thing.
Born in a stable is Christ the King."

"Give Him my welcome!"
Then Gaspar smiled,
"Come with us, mistress, to greet the Child."

"Oh, happily, happily would I fare,
Were my dusting through and I'd polished the stair."

Old Melchior leaned on his saddle horn.
"Then send but a gift to the small Newborn."

"Oh, gladly, gladly I'd send Him one,
Were the hearthstone swept and my weaving done.

"As soon as ever I've baked my bread,
I'll fetch Him a pillow for His head,
And a coverlet too," Befana said.

"When the rooms are aired and the linen dry,
I'll look at the Babe."
But the Three rode by.

She worked for a day and a night and a day,
Then, gifts in her hands, took up her way.
But she never could find where the Christ Child lay.

And still she wanders at Christmastide,
Houseless, whose house was all her pride,

Whose heart was tardy, whose gifts were late;
Wanders, and knocks at every gate,
Crying, "Good people, the bells begin!
Put off your toiling and let love in."

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Winter Where I Live

Well, as you will see, winter is here even before it officially starts. On the week end, before the rains made things a bit of a mess, I had an opportunity to walk around one of our local parks. Earlier this summer, this was the same sight of our Rib n'Beer fest and our Multi-Cultural Event. Back then, crowds of people covered this particular area, basking in the blue skies and sunshine. As you will see, it is now covered mostly by snow but the sun was still shining. Fortunately, yes, I said fortunately, more snow came along to "clean" things up a bit. Consider it a little bit of a Winter Maintenance Program in preparation for the visit of St. Nick himself. It just kinda makes it easier for him to land his sleigh. Sandy beaches kinda dulls out the runners....if you know what I mean! I took the night pics last evening as the snow fell, silently blanketing the neighbourhood. However, the festive lights put quite a sparkle on the area. So, to my friends Down Under and to those whose back yards resemble more sand dune than snow hill, here is the pleasantry that I get to enjoy at this time of the year. And I wouldn't have it any other way. Enjoy!!!