I admit I love technology and all the good it has to offer like the Internet. When I do serious writing my online dictionary is close at hand. My archaic dictionary hasn’t been opened in years. The other day for some reason I had a major senior moment. I couldn’t spell the word chimney. I kept hearing my children’s little voices mangle the word chimilie, chimminy well you get the idea. I went to my trusty online dictionary putting in variables on the search bar. No matter what I tried the word chimney never came up. I’m certainly glad I never gave my massive tome away, within moments the word and I were reunited. I love books and magazines; there is a visceral connection between holding the book, thumbing lazily through the glossy pages admiring the young models that adorn the page. Books to me are more stimulating than an action packed movie and I do love those types of movies. Books give your imagination wings to fly and imprint upon the written word your life experiences. Our language, the English language is rich and diverse with words to convey virtually every thought, so my formally abandoned “The New Lexicon Webster’s Dictionary of the English Language Deluxe Encyclopedic Edition” will now sit proudly nearby. If you like or dislike books tell me why.

The Jogger

The jet black pony tail flounced to the left and then to the right rhythmically
Her youthful energy surged into the athletic gait,
She drew close flashed a quick smile with a large dimple in her cheek,
And then she was gone as gently and softly as a butterfly landing on my arm.

May 10th, 2010

On Sunday I had the privilege of taking a little nine year old boy to see a golf tournament here in town. This is the Rosauers Open and is the largest tournament for club pros west of the Mississippi River. The major benefactor of the event is the Vanessa Behan Crisis Center and to date almost two million dollars has gone to the institution.

The golf was played at Indian Canyon golf course that has few if any level spots on the course with elevation changes of almost three hundred feet. The youngster in question was given a few spectator rules before we arrived at the course. We went into the pro shop where he met the head pro Gary Lindeblad. Gary has always had an open heart to kids; he taught my youngest daughter how to play golf. Gary asked him if he likes jellybeans and his little face lights up with pleasure and soon we were walking over to the club house and he had his jelly beans to eat. His mom had packed him a good lunch including a few treats. When you get to my age it is important to surround yourself with younger people and especially kids, they remind you of wonderment and discovery in the most benign ways.

My little friend and I met up with my best friend behind the fifth hole where many a golf tournament has been lost. A centipede had fallen from the tree above onto my hat. I shook it off, the little guy patiently coaxes the bug onto a twig, and from there he transfers his friend “furry” to the back pack where he commences to play with the animal. He wasn’t sure what type of creature he was playing with and I whispered to him the reason why it’s a centipede. He did watch the players make or miss putts. He also told me about the two butterflies he’d already seen which I never saw. I think children have an awareness of space that is different than adults; no doubt their height or lack thereof plays into this. All too often we don’t “stop and smell the roses.” We are so busy texting or talking on the cell phones thinking we are connected to so many people when in fact these artificial contrivances disconnect each other because we lose the tactile sensations of touch, eye contact and facial expressions. Many little people like him, don’t have these devices to distract them from discovery, awe and sometimes bewilderment. He doesn’t realize how fortunate he is by not having these so called twenty-first century must haves.

We stopped for a few players to come through on the eighth hole. This is a difficult par three. Earlier he was treated on another par three to seeing the ultimate top amateur player blast out of the sand trap and into the cup. He thought maybe we would see this again on this hole. It didn’t happen. He was sitting on the ground eating whatever was handy when another old man leaned down to him and said “your grandpa makes sure you got lots of food.” This little boy smiles at him and said” he sure does”, that gave me a nice inner glow regardless of his reasoning.

I tried to keep us in the shade most of the time but there were times it wasn’t feasible. Anthony had on flip flops and I’m sure these aren’t easy to walk upon a hilly golf course, so he walked barefooted. I was a little jealous; I don’t think it is proper for old men to scare the civilian populace with bare feet but a youngster walking/running this to me is normal and quite acceptable. We stood in the shade at the sixteenth green and watch one man miss a fairly easy putt, he tossed his putter into the air in disgust missed catching the club it had know sooner landed on the green when he stooped down and began repairing the dent made by the putter head. There was a back up of players on number seventeen; while we were walking past Brandon Kearney a pro out of Bend Oregon asked Anthony if he would like a golf ball. If I said he was jubilant at the prospect of having a professional’s ball it would be an understatement. He had in a span of a few minutes told me all the different things he was going to do with his new treasure. He did voice one major concern and that is his dad might take from him and lose the ball while playing. I tried to reassure him his dad wouldn’t do that to him. We walked up to the green at the seventeenth hole to watch the players try and go for the green in one shot. I suggested to my young friend that he ask the pro for his autograph after the tournament. God bless children, he became quite concerned that if we stayed here and watched the last three groups go through he would miss his opportunity to have an autographed golf ball. After him fretting a bit, I said okay lets go up to the green on the eighteenth green and we will find the pro. I knew he had second place locked up and in the end that is where he finished. I couldn’t convince my young charge that he wouldn’t leave, nevertheless when we arrived at the green Brandon is in the scoring tent and would soon be out. Now if you are a small nine year old boy and the Professional player is in excess of six feet this can be quite intimidating.
I gently coached Anthony on what to say in terms of being polite. It would be awfully hard to say no to a cute little boy, after the ball was autographed he almost forgot but then just in time remembered to say to the player.” good luck and I hope you are the winner”. This brought a smile to both our faces.

Just before the presentations I approached the champion a young man from Spokane who now calls home Rancho Mirage in California. I like probably most of the people there have known this young man along his journey to be a professional golfer. I went up to him and asked him if he would do me a favor and pointing to Anthony rolling his one ball on the putting green. He said of course, I hailed my little charge introduced them to each other and now he had two balls, the champs and the second place player. Another player Tim Feenstra turned to me and said I’ll give him one also; young master Anthony now had three autographed golf balls. These pros know the future of the game starts by treating little boys and girls with respect and make them feel part of the game.

The winner won $11,000.00 but I also won something that requires diligence to achieve an opportunity to share a childs innocence. I think I came out about even with the Champ Kyle Kelly. I had a wonderful time with this young boy; he was well behaved, mannerly and just fun to watch. I honestly don’t know if I watched his face and reactions more than the game itself. I know for sure, seeing wonderment in his eyes renews my spirit and reminds me to always seek the unexpected and try to look at this with a child’s fleeting innocence.

I really wish I knew how to use a telephone; I’d have this senile man arrested, if yesterday wasn’t bad enough today was even worse. I was hauled out at five twenty in the morning; the birds aren’t up yet, and I’m being dragged across the street to you know – do my business. Mr. Morning breath almost bowled me over with his fetid old mans breath. He was pointing out a cat for me to chase. What a buffoon, I can’t see straight, and now he has me chasing some stupid cat—it isn’t happening. Oh yea, the pussy cat in question was on the other side of the fence. Big whoop, I saunter over to the barbed wire; she hissed at me. Oh yea I can tell it was a female by the high-pitched hiss; it hurt my tender ears. Anyway, I didn’t back down. I’m after all a very large boxer who is quite safe on this side of the fence and besides, I’m not awake because of the whacko old man. God I hate this man!

I cross the street, and I’m so mad at this crazed lunatic I try to pee on his shoe and miss. I do the rest of my business on the grass and glaring at him with great malevolence. I’m plotting how to make his life a little more miserable. You know he could have said no to look after me. I’d then be shipped off to hang with my chums in Liberty Lake, Brutus and what his face. I can’t think straight so early in the morning. I HATE HIM!!!

We get back to his house of infamy, the first thing I do is slosh all my water out of my bowl, and it spreads over half the floor. He ignores me; again, he is fiddling with the stupid bag of food. How hard is it to open? Oh I see; latte breath has managed to bungle this good. He caught the excess plastic in the zipper mechanism, what a spastic doddering old fool. I don’t move out of his way, so he has to reach over me to my special bowl, and hopefully he will miss and the food will fall onto the wet floor. I don’t eat damp food—ever. I want all foods separated from each other. I don’t gobble my food like some dogs I know, I’m refined. Well he doesn’t miss. I’m starting to calm down. I can’t eat when I’m mad and plotting.

He is up to something and it doesn’t look or feel good. Wine gut is dressing up to go out. I will not go I need my sleep. I’m still tired from all the schlepping from yesterday. I lay right in the middle of his pathway, side ways. If he steps over me, he’ll have bad luck. I might bite him or let the fairy princess of dogs get him. I choose the latter. He gulps down his breakfast, slurping and smacking his lips just like a common mongrel. Chrome dome is calling me to enter my refuge, my kennel, oh no not now big boy you got me up entertain me. I’m still in shock and well I’m shakily writing this diatribe because he grabs me by the collar and jerks me into the kennel. The heavy steel door clangs in the dawn of day and now I feel like a condemned dog awaiting euthanasia.

The unshaven wretch tells me “Rupert, I’ll be back in three hours.” I ask you, where an old goat like him would go so early in the morning? I thought men of his age had to spend a half hour doing their business because nothing works right on these men. He is so old I’m sure he has to pee sitting down or he would miss the bowl and pee onto his pants. It would serve him right. Anyway he puts on his back pack and leaves. Now I am furious; he wakes me up even before gods up, and then he leaves. He doesn’t even trust me to not tear up the place, I don’t understand human time but I know in dog time I don’t break into sustained “being alone anxiety” for at least thirteen minutes. He has several pair of funny shoes with some sort of spiky things on the bottom. I’d chew them up in a few minutes before I get up a head of steam. Oh yes the leather chairs would be good to munch on. Alas I’m trapped, so I’ll make use of this time to SLEEP.

The damn fool can’t tell time either; he said I’ll be back in three hours. Hellooo, three hours, twenty two minutes and thirty-seven seconds later it shows up, reeking of sweat. This is sweat from fatigue we smart dogs can discern different smells and this is drag my ass fatigue. I now see where my revenge will begin. Somehow when life is awake the opening of my kennel doesn’t have the hollow ring of a steel cell door. Nevertheless I bound out jump up and down as if I don’t get out now I’ll do bad things to the floor, if you know what I mean. The dirt-bag falls for my scheme. He changes his hat and outside we go oh yea the sun is rising and it getting to be nice and hot. Nonchalantly I make my away across the street to pooping and peeing central. A minute later I go over to him and indicate to this fool to put my lash back on, because I have a surprise for you bozo. Leashed I leap forward pulling old creaking bones along. I head down to the path along the river this is a good place to wear him out, so he is panting with fatigue. No sooner do we arrive and he pulls me up short almost choking me to death and undoes my leash. He then says go wear yourself out Rupert. Ha, ha, I think to myself.

I do admit this is a lovely place to walk along there are several interesting things to see, for example, lots of homeless people live along the river during the summer. Buzzard breath thinks this is sad. I think it’s neat, being out doors peeing and pooping wherever I want, there is lots of grass to chew on. These homeless people leave lots of good garbage to forage through; except the wussy is yelling at me not to eat that stuff it might be bad. Duh- I’m a dog; I can smell if it’s unhealthy. Do I look like a dumb Rottweiler? Today I’m more familiar with the locations to get down to the river, so I sprint ahead before you know who shows up to yell at me not to eat the good stuff on the ground. After eating a mystery snack I saunter into the water up to my belly its cool and refreshing on my skin, while drinking I taste the slight nuance of Cadmium as an undertone to the Mercury, very refreshing. I met two gentlemen who were homeless; one was quite nice, chicken legs said he must have found some money because he shaved. Look who’s talking, when did you shave? Last week? The other person spooked me; he must have been hiding in the bushes by the river; I went down sniffing his trail until he yelled at me. Ding bat also yelled at me to get back up to the path and not disturb the drunk. I don’t want to belabor this chronicle of the indignities, sufficed to say. I misjudged the heat; I also thought we would go back the way we came, mostly in the shade. Instead, the sun shocked old fool takes me on this chewed up road filled with gravel, boulders and sand. Doesn’t he realize I have pads on the bottom of my feet, not smelly sneakers, pads that aren’t impervious to cuts and abrasions due to the terrain? This man is smart like a shoelace. I’m now panting profusely, and he is saying to me are you okay. No I always pant uncontrollably when I’m in unrelenting sunshine beating down onto my fur. He finally stops by a bench where else would it be but in the desert sun killing my enzymes and me from the heat. I drag this ding a ling across the street, so I can walk in the shade. We finally arrive at his place, and I drink some cold water and lay down. It took me forever to stop panting; he didn’t care he took his old carcass to bed and left me to fend for myself. I know I’m going to have nightmares and bad dreams all day while I sleep. I’m not sure I can deal with this crackpot for the entire week. Please someone come rescue me!

Rupert

There are many joys with retirement and yes they are balanced by sadness, we are blessed at least in this country to have both many parts of the world only know the latter not the former.

One of the joys I enjoy is taking the road less traveled, often times I’m dazzled by unimaginable beauty and my camera’s batteries died or the wrong setting didn’t capture with clarity what I saw. Such was the case many times on this journey so hopefully I can paint a word picture of some of what I saw. My first stop was in Missoula Montana, one time zone away and about two hundred miles east of Spokane. I was sitting in the American icon Starbucks having a Latte and looking south. I hadn’t traveled all the way down the Bitterroot valley. In fact I have only gone to Stephenville. I decided that would be a nice diversion since I have the time and inclination to explore an area I have never seen. This is a vast valley; the Bitterroot Mountains were nearby to the right and to the left twenty-five miles away is the Sapphire Mountain Range, the valley itself is just over one hundred miles long. The Bitterroot Mountains are sharply pointed peaks as saw teeth but covered in new snow. Yes you are reading this right, snow at the end of May. The many little towns were similar to others out west, some more prosperous than others and the poor ones looked that way, tired old and shabby. The highway itself is being rebuilt and that is always a good thing. Highway 93 runs almost down the middle of the valley. Although I was at the lower elevation I did see some deer nearby. The valley narrowed and the vegetation changed dramatically. I crisscrossed many creeks or rivers and soon was climbing up the steep mountain slope. Several sections had loose rock falling from high above the roadway. I was reminded of Rabbi Kushner’s talk of the randomness of accidents are not of God’s making and a few years ago three young women were driving home over Snoqualmie Pass when a thirty-five ton rock fell down on the car and the women crushing everything. These are not the thoughts I want running through my mind while driving in this area. Obviously I cane through unscathed. Snow was along the edges of the highway. When I started the ascent the temperature was between 60 and 65 and to my brethren north of the border the temperature was between 15-18 degrees Celsius. I turned left onto highway forty-three and continued to climb to an excess of seven thousand feet. Here the snow was pristine, white and deep. The highway was clear and the temperature had plummeted to the mid forties or between nine and eleven degrees Celsius. What an incredible treat I shared the ninety miles journey with two cars and a truck. The area is so remote I could just stop on the highway and get out for a better look at the river or Beaverhead Mountains or the high valley I eventually found myself in. I do wish I had photos to share of this area. I stopped for the night near Butte Montana.

The state of Wyoming is one of my favorite places to travel; there is so much beauty in every direction. Towering mountains draped in a shawl of snow, cascading mountain streams that sparkle in the muted sunlight and herds of cattle that roam far and wide. Deer are very common near the highway and one must be mindful that at anytime one may decide to cross without giving a thought to its safety. I had intended to play golf at one of the courses however the wind was daunting and I didn’t want to fight the elements and a new course on the same day. I had hoped vainly that when I arrived in South Dakota it would be better when in fact it was worse. I drove on stopping here and there but not really visiting. The temperature was cold and the winds were strong. That night I stopped in Iowa. Earlier in the day I stopped at a rest area and lay down on a picnic table bench for a power nap. I was sheltered from the winds by the trees surrounding the area. Refreshed and unscathed by bird droppings I continued on and stopped later that day for the evening. Clandestinely I filled my coffee mug with the elixir of the gods a hidden glass of red wine and began reading at one of the picnic tables, when suddenly I felt the cold splat upon my bare head and wrist. Quickly I checked to see if the wine was safe. I do have my priorities. Thank goodness the wine was clear of any foreign deposit, I cursed the bird and moved to a safer place and cleaned myself up.

Iowa has a few great things going for the traveler, gas that is less expensive than its neighbors and wonderfully, lit, clean and wireless rest areas. These places are spotless, the teams of men and woman who look after these areas obviously take pride in their job and it shows. I have never seen a dirty rest area in Iowa. Either the travelers are more civilized here than elsewhere. In other states the bathroom walls are made with industrial strength steel, obviously some wild despots have destroyed these facilities in the past.

I arrived in Toronto two days earlier than expected, so I surprised my mother by coming there for three days before my next stop which originally was my first stop. My mother’s couch is quite comfortable to sit on, however I’m longer than the sofa and it made sleeping an art form rather than a relaxed restful time. I have written about my encounters with my mother and you can see this under the Alzheimer’s tab on this blog.

I spent a joyful week at my oldest friend, Ted and his companion Diane in Midland Ontario. They have a beautiful home next to Georgian Bay, which is part of Lake Huron, one of the five great lakes of North America. Here are some photos of the area around their home. Ted and I were the original people who came up with the idea of going to the Arctic and part of this trip was to confirm with him some salient facts that needed verification before I wrote about them in the next installment. I arrived at their home promptly at noon on a sun splashed Monday June 31st. The entrance to their home and I believe no more than twelve other homes is a long narrow road through a densely forested area. See the photo to the left.

Diane was outside talking to her daughter when I arrived, after the genuine hugs and a few pecks on the cheek, she informed me Ted will be back soon and his son Bradley is stopping by to surprise his dad. Fifteen minutes later Ted showed up. I really think great friendships are the ones where even if you haven’t seen someone in a few years you just pick up the conversations as if you saw each other the day before and so it is with Ted. Several years ago I informed Ted that he won the man contest of who has the most toys. He still is ahead by a long way. He showed me some of his current projects and his collection of big motorcycles (you will see one later). We headed to the house the large deep rear deck stretches the length of the home facing Georgian Bay. We sat down in the shade and drank some real beer Canadian, not the mamby- pamby swill that some breweries back home pass for beer. Soon Bradley showed up.

The last time I saw Bradley he wasn’t a happy young man, what a wonderful surprise when he arrived with his wife Christina and darling and precocious child Rachel. He hadn’t a wife when I saw him last. I’m a granddad and don’t mind bragging about someone else’s grandchild,< so you will see photo’s of this little munchkin in this article. I was told I’m the cook for the week and I didn’t mind at all. Soon Rob the other son shows up with his lady Gabe and soon we have lots of conversations going on while dinner is being prepared. The boys (men) did the barbequing and I the prepared the meal. Soon we were all happily eating and drinking on the spacious deck overlooking the calm lake. I was asked to tell tales of the adventures and misadventures of Ted and I and in particular our Arctic exploration. Rob continued to ask questions all week and at the end of my stay all came clear. He sent me an email that said;” he had heard tales from his dad for forty years of his father and I and thought it was all hot air, until I told the same stories”.

One morning we played golf, Ted doesn’t play golf but Diane does and so does her friend. I insisted on playing the game at a course called Bonaire. I had met the owners by chance in a wonderful restaurant on the south rim of the Grand Canyon. We had tasted each other’s wine and then ordered another bottle and had a delightful evening of talk. I hadn’t seen them since that one time. After we arrived I found the owner and started to tell him where we knew each other and to my surprise he remembered the evening and part of my name. He did better than me, although I did recognize him. After a few short minutes of talk I went to join my friends and by the time I got to the pro shop a young woman ran in and informed the girl behind the counter that my round was on the house. A big thank you to Randy Fielder for your hospitality! I’ll be back to play all twenty-seven holes, ah lets just thirty-six for the day! I won’t be telling scores but I will share this, no prizes would be won by this group but we had fun and that was most important

My last day in Midland was filled with a few firsts. Diane, Ted, Jenni (Diane’s girlfriend) and I trekked down to Orillia small town for lunch in this quaint mall called Mariposa. The restaurant section is very upscale buffet, Quiche’s of various varieties, salads oftentimes utilizing the fresh fruits delectable desserts and wonderful coffee. We sat at our rough hewn table, afterwards the ladies went their way and Ted and I ours for about an hour or so. We stopped in a place called, “Quaker Oaks” where I purchased some freshly made and I mean freshly made as in front of me, stuffed marinated olives. These were wonderful, some were filled with sundried tomatoes drenched in garlic, some garlic stuffed and others blue cheese, all with these olives were marinated in very Mediterranean flavor. I shared these with my son the chef two days later.

I must admit I hate motorcycles due to a childhood scare. Nevertheless we went into town with me sitting in a side car. I felt like the pope, waving to people as they came into view. It felt a little unnerving sitting so close to the road. I wouldn’t want to travel for a long way cooped up inside this mini aquarium but it was something new and it’s now off “my bucket list”. We went to the Legion for a fish fry Jenni told us that two of the ladies were there twenty years ago and then they were old, when she last appeared there for an event. She and Diane belonged to the same Bagpipe band.

I returned to my mother’s place for a few more days before going to my sons home, , spending some quality time with my grandchildren. One of the things I did was go and watch the two younger ones play ice hockey and that was a joyful experience watching them go up and down the ice, one almost scored a goal and the other had a breakaway but not a goal. I also went and saw my son play and he has greatly improved in his speed, endurance and overall performance. It has been almost twenty one years since I played and boy do I miss the action but I realize all good thing do come to an end. So find solace and joy watching my son and grandchildren ply their spirits and zeal into Canada’s national past time.

The prime reason for the trip was witnessing a granddaughter become of age in the Jewish religion. It was her Bat- Mitzvah and if I may do some grandparent bragging she was awesome, poised, confident and a joyful pleasure to watch and listen to her chant her portion. Her speech at the luncheon was not too long but very maturely presented. She is a beautiful young girl; who know doubt will do great thing in our world and her life. The foregoing photo is another grand daughter; the youngerf sister of the star of the day. The luncheon was a colorful display of various foods artfully set out on the buffet tables. The fun part was the next night when the children mostly eleven to fourteen years of age had a dance party. Oh too have that kind of unbridled energy again; I got tired just watching them dance to the music and dancers on the small stage. There was an abundance of finger foods to consume, some designed for adults but of it was tasty. Around eleven that night we took three tired kids back home and two days later I left for one more stop before heading west and home.

My friend’s recently married and bought a new beautiful home that is spacious, high ceilings with lovely grounds to walk and a gazebo to slip away from the bond of the house. They live in a sleepy little town against the Niagara River downstream from the cascading Niagara Falls A billions gallons a minute pour over .
the Horseshoe Falls, sending up huge plumes of mist. photo on the left. I digress back to where I was going. Sue is a golfer, actually she is a great golfer who whipped me on the front nine quite handily, and luckily I managed to eke out a win on the back nine This course is quite old and designed by the famed architect A. W. Tillingast is 1919. There are a few spots that offer a breathtaking view of he Niagara gorge and beyond. The greens are challenging although I did manage a chip in birdie on hole number ten. This is a fun tract I’ll be writing a detail critique on this course shortly, it can be read at 3 Putt Blog or here. We had a lot of fun and it was great catching up on her the families comings and goings.

Later that evening I went sailing with them and some of their friends on Tom’s Trimaran. What a blast, the winds came up on Lake Ontario and some of the waves were about four feet high. I enjoyed watching the young skipper for the night maneuver the nimble vessel through the waves. He had a keen sense for the capricious winds and expertly blended the craft and wind seamlessly. His crew (us) was assigned various tasks mine was easy sit on the outrigger that is high with the others to keep the sailboat from capsizing. We got splashed but so what that is what sailing is all about, wind, water and people. This was a practice run for the race the next day. We won this race and I was informed the crew won the race the next day; kudos to all. After the race Tom and Sue treated all of us to dinner and drinks. The next morning sadly I left and headed home. I did spend one day lollygagging before getting serious about driving back. Once I made the decision I got home in three days.

I have returned from my almost six thousand mile journey. This was an emotional time for me. Some good other sad, you can read about my prolonged visit with my mother under the Alzheimer’s tag and read Alzheimer’s Part Two. I’ll complete the story on the Narwhal adventure within the next week. I also will relate some stories of the trip. Stay tuned!

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