To me this carries empathy just a little too far, but what would I know about it?


As most of you know, I have never been a father – at least not to my knowledge.. So that means I am lacking in a certain empathy about the elements ‘popdom’ involves.

One thing I do know, however, is that fathers now seem quite different from the tyrannical guys I grew up with – like my own, for example. Not to put too fine a point on it, my old man scared the shit out of me right up until I was an age when I realized I was taller than he was. He was kind of a runt.

Not that I ever engaged in fisticuffs with the old fellow. The kid next door (and my best friend) had a fistfight with his dad out in the yard one day. I thought it was pretty cool. And knowing my friend, right was probably on his dad’s part. Anyway, it didn’t mean all that much and he actually had a better long-term relationship with his dad, arguably, than I did with mine.

Anyway, old time dads of the spare the rod sort were also very little in touch with their so-called feminine side. Certain things were left to the ‘little woman’ and the old man did guy stuff which, if he had sons, was to raise them to be ‘men’, and if he had girls his role was to either beat the snot out of some young creep who took liberties with his little girl, or to at least let him know that the threat was omnipresent. I was always afraid of the fathers of girls I dated.

Now much has changed. Men are not only in touch with their feminine side as fathers, but it seems that they also want to be mothers as well, and hence you get expressions like “we’re having a baby,”. No, she’s having a baby, you were just a contributing factor in the process, but the kid comes out of her. That and, of course, the reviled by employers of any gumption, fathers taking maternity leave. neilsen prganant

But three men in England, according to an article I read, are also going through the process of pregnancy just to develop as much as they can the ultimate empathy they can muster for their poor helpmate who is suffering chronic backache, sporadic incontinence and flatulence, a popped-out navel, gestation diabetes, varicose veins and all the other charming elements of propagating the race.

Well these guys wanted to know how it felt, so they strapped 33 lb. False preggo tummies to themselves to simulate what it feels like to be nine months pregnant. What can I say about this? Not much. Obviously sensitive guys with a hell of a lot of time on their hands who are also missing the obvious part of the occasion, which is the time when you have to “call the midwife” and get the often painful procedure over with.

Maybe I am just too cynical about it all. I mean, what would I know. Except for a brief interlude in which I was a stepfather to a girl, I have never been through anybody’s birthing experience in which a child of my own popped out.

What’s that like? I shall never know.

As an aside, I happen to think pregnant women are attractive and kinda sexy.

Time to take a little tea with lovely Aunt ‘Uggy’

grannie and granddad

I never had a nickname, and of that I am glad. I find it a bit off-putting to come upon a mature man with the name ‘Skippy’. I’m also happy to not be a ‘junior’ since that implies the person is not an individual in his own right. In truth I think to name a son or daughter after a parent is an exercise in either vainglory or lack of imagination on the parents’ part.

I might add, though, if you are a junior or sport a nickname it doesn’t mean I have a diminished regard for you. Just to make that clear.

I am also playing a bit fast-and-loose with the truth here. For I do have a nickname, but it is my ‘Granddad Nickname.’ My dear and long-departed grandfather had a habit of giving all his children and grandchildren names of his choosing and names that might not resemble their actual nomenclature. Indeed there was sometimes little logic to them, but he always used them.

So, for point-of-interest, my name was (to him) Iany. Not very inspired, I will warrant. My cousin Bruce was Broois-Woois, and my brother, Colin became Collins, as opposed to my American cousin Colleen, who was known to him as The Seattle Collins.

The ones who truly felt the brunt of his bizarre namings, however, were his own kids, and some of the titles he stuck them with were not always complimentary. His oldest daughter Vivian (who was inclined to pudginess as a child) was Tubby. His second daughter, Helen, (a lovely lady) was stuck with Uggy. I asked my mother about that one. She said when his 2nd child, who turned out to be a girl, to his disappointment, a Sikh handyman around his place suggested that if he wanted to sire a boy he should give his daughter an insulting name so that his next child would be male. Consequently, Uggy arose from Ugly Boy.

And lo-and-behold it seemed to have worked for his next child (and his namesake of Robert) was male and was ever after known to his father as Boy. Next he had another daughter, Audrey (aka Rory), then my mother, Barbara, known to him as Evan, evidently from a favorite Welsh song of his; then my uncle Basil (known as Bay and I have no idea why), and his youngest child, Hugh, who ended up being named Tooey-Boy.

I gather, though, that such nicknaming was common in Victorian and Edwardian times. I think I was well past early childhood before I know my grandmother’s name (Beatrix), since my grandfather called her Trixie (understandable) but everybody else called her Tita, which evidently came from a favorite aunt of hers who was a Spaniard.

Oh, and my grandmother also used her husband’s names for her kids, including, unfortunately, Tubby and Uggy.

For the past five years our absolutely best times (with a few exceptions) have included Max


max in the joint

Max has been a vital aspect of our lives for five years now, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. Acquiring this lovely rescue dog was arguably the best decision we ever made as a couple as he has brought such joy to us.

Aside from shedding vast amounts of fur for about 11 months of the year, we have no complaints. He is friendly, as bright as he needs to be, fastidiously clean, never steals food from anywhere, including his own kibble, even though it’s in easy access. He can be noisy if someone comes to the door, but he sees that as his job, and so do we. Otherwise he is pathologically friendly and ‘smiley’. He loves everyone, with the possible exception of adolescent males if they are too overt in approaching him. And he likes most other dogs, with the exception of buoyant puppies, which he will promptly put in their place.WendyIanMax3WMD1Dec081

He has no predatory instincts and squirrels and rabbits are quite safe around the Maxter. He also has no impulse to retrieve anything. You could throw a ball until you expire from exhaustion and all he would do is look at where the ball went, then shrug and walk away.

From the day we found him at the Nanaimo SPCA we have never had a second thought about the wisdom of our decision to get him. We just ‘knew’ he was the right one. Wendy had never owned a dog before and was a bit wary. But has often said since that as her introduction to matters canine, we could not have done better than we have with Max.

Aside from his other virtues, he’s also very handsome and as we grew weary of people asking what he was – and he is a mongrel, but mongrels are, to me, the worthiest dogs to acquire – we decided to get his DNA tested a few years ago. So, he is an amalgam of predominantly smooth collie, malamute and (for some reason not clear to us, chow), even though he does not look chow-ish. Oh, and about 37 other breeds thrown into his heritage mix. Yes, his mother was a slut. DSCN2265

So, a half decade ago we drove to Nanaimo and there we saw this forlorn looking chap in a kennel compartment there (pictured) and it was so sad, in retrospect, to see him in that state.

And what has always galled us a bit is that we do not know his backstory. How did he end up in a shelter? How on earth could anyone have given up such a wonder-dog? When we got him he was not well. He was about 20 pounds underweight, he was riddled with worms (including tapeworm, we found out) and had a ton of tartar on his teeth. In other words, he’d had a hard-scrabble life. And yet he was also highly unneurotic. According to his ‘rap-sheet’ he had once killed a chicken. I don’t believe that, or if he did then he was obviously in the throes of starvation.

Supposedly he was surrendered to the shelter. The story went that he was abandoned by his original owner and then a local lady with an acreage took him on. She obviously taught him some manners as his behavior is so good, and he seemed to have had a modicum of training, though we did have to take him for some dog-obedience when we first got him just to attune ourselves to some fine points of what to expect.

So, after he came to live with us we addressed his veterinary concerns and ended up with a fine, strapping and healthy dog. I am reminded of the day we got him and were in conversation with a woman who walked him regularly. She was a bit heartsick about him being adopted by us only in the sense that she would, and in her own words, “miss him so painfully.”DSCN1821

So, we have never looked back and all I can say in retrospect is, if you are thinking of acquiring a dog, then do what we did and get a rescue. The bonus is that the animal will be so grateful to you for having done so. And, who knows, you might get a MAX.

The leading photo is his SPCA shelter picture and it still makes me sad to see that, thinking how bleak his thoughts must have been at the time.

Be wary of the baskets in which you place your eggs and future hopes


Down at the south end of the beautiful little South Pacific island of Rarotonga stood a lone horse in a lushly verdant field that swept down from the jungly hills above. Nice place to be a horse. No predators on the island, and no competition for the grass growing in abundance.

And, the horse (as shown) had access to a lovely and exclusive resort hostelry – not. The horse had access indeed but, alas, the ghostly relic of a Hilton holiday dream getaway was never to be. That was sad. Islanders had their hopes up. Since they now had international air access from anywhere in the world, this venture would surely bolster their fortunes in a big way. hilton hovel

As I understand it the project was to be a joint-venture with Hilton lending its name and the lion’s share of the capital costs to be raised by the country of the Cook Islands (of which Raro has the largest population and also is the home of the capital, Avarua). Yes as sparsely-populated as the Cooks are and scattered as they are over a gazillion square miles of the tropical Pacific, the Cooks are an independent country, complete with a parliament and a prime minister. raro

So (and again as I understand it) the PM of the day went to some funding sources and secured, he thought, funds sufficient to bankroll the thing. Well, (and don’t you just hate it when that happens?) it turned out that the money he raised was dirty. It was Italian Mafia money. Mucho scandal and what with all the eggs having been put in that one basket, the venture went down the toilet, the PM was ousted posthaste and today all that remains is a stark reminder of what might have been and what this teeny country was hoping would be. It has a sole occupant today, that sweet old horse.

But to me this situation is also a metaphor for the kinds of things that transpire in the outer world. Even within the confines of our own country. Here in Canada we are putting hopes for economic well-being on our dirty and anti-environmental oilpatch in hopes of flogging the stuff to (notorious global polluter) China. We just have to find a way to get it to the coast for that to happen and meanwhile hope that the bottom doesn’t fall completely out of the global petroleum market.lng

And here in BC dear Premier Christy has staked her political future (and our economic future) on Liquid Natural Gas in the belief that one those odd looking ships start plying our waters we will all be so rolling in the bucks that some of us might even be solvent enough to ride the ferry fleet – though that last point may be wishful thinking.

Anyway, it’s maybe wise to not count on any one thing to save us all. Just ask the old horse about that. He knows how it works.

You may see the filthy rich as disgusting societal parasites, but you know what? They don’t care

mr bums

Periodically in idle moments (of which it seems I have too many sometimes) I wonder what life would be like if I were stinkin’ rich.

By rich I don’t mean lousy winning a few mil in the lottery rich, I mean (in the classic definition thereof) Stinkin’ Rich. You know, in the upper echelons of that wretched one percent that is seeking to destroy all that we cherish and to drive the rest of us to serfdom so they can shovel mammon into their gaping and always unsatiated maws.

That kind of rich.

The kind of rich that (and I just read about this) would enable a guest at a Beverly Hills hotel to fork out $9,500 for a single night’s stay. Man, the room service for that pricetag had better be a virtual bacchanal of hedonistic pleasure. The kind of rich in which I could own days-of-the-week Bentleys (you know, sort of like days-of-the-week panties, but in luxury cars). greed

Seriously, can you imagine what it would be like to have such wealth that it would be virtually impossible for you to spend what you have in one mere lifetime? You could go anywhere you wanted to go. You could buy anything your heart coveted. Aha, I hear you saying, but you can’t buy love. But, of course you can. You can buy a whole coterie of loving handmaidens or dudes, depending on your gender or proclivities. But that’s not ‘real’ love, one can protest. Well, perhaps if you are that rich you have become satisfied that real romantic love is for po’ folk, not for the likes of you who can buy all the love you want.

While most of us may worry about meeting a mortgage payment (if we are fortunate enough to have a mortgage), keeping the lights burning in the house, or sending the wretched and ungrateful kids through college, the uber-rich have none of those concerns.scroog

If you were that rich whatever would you have to worry about?

Aha, I can hear you say (I can’t really, it’s kind of a metaphor), what about mortality?

Nobody is rich enough to buy eternal life.

At least, as far as we know. But who knows what kind of pacts these filthy-rich bastards make with the powers of the universe? Maybe you can buy your way in. They aren’t going to share such information with the likes of us, or we’d really lose all hope and wouldn’t continue working as peons for them.

The political problem with Steverino is that he knows a certain type of Canadian too well

peas tower

You have to hand it to old Steverino, he is one perceptive mofo of a politician. While many of us continue to delude ourselves with the ‘myth’ of the benevolent and polite Canadian, the dude in the big office knows well we are as rednecked as an Ozarks moonshiner, or a Ferguson copper.

Not us, we wail. That’s the Americans. Canadians are nice, polite, unprejudiced and believe in sweet-and-light non-violence. “Bullshit,” mutters the man at the helm. “I know what Canadians want. They want to be allowed to be who they really are. I appreciate that, while the other pussified parties don’t.”redneck

So, are you really so galled that a lady from a foreign land wants to wear a Niqab when she swears her citizenship? I’m not, but Steve knows that those with a burn under the collar are, and he’s a-countin’ on them folks to return him to office no matter how trumped-up and false this so-called offence happens to be to those who have ever traveled or who have availed themselves of higher education. But those folks aren’t Steve’s constituents for the most part, and he knows that.

Now, I am not suggesting there aren’t enlightened and cosmopolitan folks who vote for the governing party. That would be fatuous. But those who fall into those categories and who wish to return the party in power are generally comfortable financially and want to bring back their advocates rather than a bunch of ragtag pinkos or a young and inexperienced PET wannabe. (Not declaring my politics here, just acting as devil’s advocate.)broad

No, what I am talking about is the folks who long for a return to capital punishment, who will have spontaneous orgasms at the concept of ‘life-means-life’ prison sentencing, and who are hoping that Steve makes good on his suggestion that people living in the boonies should have the right to be armed-and-dangerous, and are hoping the central power in Ottawa doesn’t fritter away too much time dwelling on the plight of missing aboriginal women.

And then, of course, there is always war and our involvement in international conflict. Canadians are peacekeepers, are they not? So went what Steve knew was a myth. The peacekeeping thing was an invention of Liberal icon Lester Pearson. A priori Canadian flocked to the Boer War, both World Wars, Korea and not a few volunteered to join the US forces in Vietnam. Not for a second to impugn those who did serve, but let us not pretend we are always sweet-and-lovely and given to apologizing to a coffee table when we bump into it.

I am not coming down on one political side or the other, I am just stating that this guy knows his Canuck cookies when he politics and depending on where you sit that can, or may not be, a disconcerting reality. Worthy of consideration in an election year.

A collection of crows isn’t called a ‘murder’ for no reason at all


Crows are like a biker gang of avian Rhode’s Scholars. That is, they are the smartest birdies in the trees, but they are also ruthless in their pursuit of benefits for the corvid world.

Don’t get in their way or you will rue the day. If you have ever gotten in their way you will know what I mean. Crows don’t take no prisoners.

Crows are loyal only to crows. They have little tolerance for other birds and they detest eagles and hawks and especially ravens, and I share their detestation of raccoons. The creatures that they hate are ones that might presume to raid a crow’s nest, especially when young have been hatched, and they will be ruthless in assailing any creature, or indeed anybody that might encroach onto their territory. crows 2

There are those who don’t like crows. They find them noisy and dirty and somehow offensive. To them I can only say, take some time to observe them. They are the ultimate survivors and are highly content living in an urban landscape where they might be garbage cans and discarded pizza boxes to explore for leftover morsels from wasteful human beings.

They’re terribly bright and can also be domesticated. When I was in my teens a young boy next door rescued a baby crow (from some peril of which I cannot recall). He raised the crow and they bonded. He would come to our house to play with my younger brother and the crow would follow him down the street and then alight on his shoulder like Long John Silver’s parrot.

Speaking of parrots, we once had neighbors who were emigre’s from Australia. The brought their cockatoo with them. They would set the cockatoo on a perch on their deck on a sunny day and the cockatoo, unfamiliar with the species, began mimicking the neighborhood crows. Drove the crows quite insane. He sounded like them but didn’t look like them. sheryl

Crows also have their own dialects. Speaking of the local scene, a crow from Comox will not understand the cries and caws of a crow from Courtenay or Cumberland. They stick to their own territory and talk the way they talk in that territory. They also can be trained to talk in human languages, much like mynahs (related) and parrots.

In conclusion I can only say that if you do not like crows then you haven’t taken time to get to know and appreciate this thuggish avian clan. It’s a worthwhile endeavor to do so.

Pictured here is a rendering of a crow done by my dear friend Lilian. It captures the beauty of the creature. Pictured too is the Sheryl Crow, who is not related to the species.

And as per my biker gang metaphor, a collection of crows is known as a murder.