Wednesday, December 30, 2020

ROBBLOG #867- Words


Words to Live by...

Not all these  words are new words. 
Many we've heard and used over the years but one is new to us all- covid.

Eventually, it will fade into textbooks like "polio" and "leprosy".
Covid has made such an impact on the entire world and in record time.
Hundreds of thousands of people have died.
Hundreds of thousands of people are battling the disease this very day.
More of us haven't had covid and that's good.
We play safe.
Work safe.
We wait it out.
6,783 new cases in Quebec since Christmas Eve.

One day covid will be just a story.
"Hey remember that Holiday Season when we all stayed in and "Zoomed" with our families?"

Here's more words I thought of. 
I wrote them down to re-type them here. 
There are others but how's this for a start:


2021 is a big question mark.
Will the vaccines put covid in its place?
We all hope so.
Will masks be the new fashion accessory even after covid?
Will be be able to celebrate the season next year like we did the years before covid 19?
Will summer 2021 be close to normal? Will theatres open?
Will the PNE, CNE and other huge people exhibitions open again?
Fingers crossed.

Still, with covid killing so many of the earth's population and all the sadness that brings, there's still the crazies shooting and killing people.
It's just nuts.
There's always time for more killing it seems- even in a pandemic.
Right. I forgot that one.
Another world to add to the list.

Be safe.
Be positive.
Be present.
Be patient.
Soon this will all be a memory as well as a chapter in a book.

Finally, please give a listen to The Island's GOLDEN CLASSICS on Swisssh and Starlite- Island Brite.
Who knows what the new year will bring for both my stations.
 On voice-activated devices: "Play s w i s s s h Radio" or "Play s t a r l i t e Radio Island Brite"
or and search Swisssh or Starlite.
Thanking you in advance.

All the best in 2021.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

ROBBLOG #866- Strive to be Jolly


I've had a hell of a time trying to compose a Christmas Greeting this year.

It hasn't been the best of years for most of the world.
Our day to day lives have been shattered and overcome by a virus that is now striking people on every continent on this earth.

I was going to take inspiration from a Christmas song but that idea fizzled out.
Then, I wondered what I wrote for a Holiday Greeting a few years ago when the world was a different place. I looked back and found a greeting from December 2006. I'm not going to simply copy it here but I will copy some paragraphs and place them in italics.

As far as Christmas 2020 goes, do the best that you can to be happy. There's no sense of telling people not to gather because people will gather- even if they shouldn't. In some places it just makes sense to stay home while in other places gathering is a chance that people will take and damn the consequences. 
Make the best of it.
I know you can.

Now some thoughts from December 2006- like a Christmas TV repeat of an old 60's television show.
Here's the first bit:

"We should all pause during this time of the year- when the heart of mankind is one and re-evaluate. It’s the opportunity to take some quiet time and reflect on body and soul, for every single one of us on this earth is “good enough”. We all should have the same chances, the same opportunities as the person standing next to us.

Make good on our promises, make good on love and relationships. Make good with each other not just at Christmas but every day of the year. Yes, it’s a daunting task but there are much harder obstacles that many of us overcome daily."

Now this from December 2006:

"There’s the “good feeling” of having “good friends”. Friends to share in special moments.  Friendships that endure even during the rough times. We have been lucky to make many new friends over the past year. Friends who have stories to tell. Friends who share their lives, their homes, their laughter and tears. It’s one of the best gifts we could hope for and it doesn’t even require a bow or fancy paper. We are all “good enough”. We need to say that- and more, to each other. We need to embrace the “good” in people and celebrate that “good” not just at Christmas-but all year long. We need to strive for tolerance. 

As Dickens says of Scrooge in “A Christmas Carol”- 

He became as good a friend, as good a master and as good a man, as the good old city knew or any other good old city, town or borough in the good old world…And it was always said of him that he knew how to keep Christmas well….  

Finally from my Greeting back at Christmas 2006:

"At this time of year, we (here at Pine Tree House) think it good to remember those who have passed on over the years. Mother’s and Father’s, Aunts and Uncles, Grandmothers and Grandfathers, Cousins and memorable friends. They may have passed but they are held tight, wrapped in warm memories."

Now, back to the present- December 2020. Tom and I always remember our four-legged friends at Christmas, for they hold many warm, funny memories and remain an important part in our lives.

There’s Samantha the Irish Setter, Max and Lucky past members of our beloved feline family and another Samantha-our first Mini-Schnauzer. We remember Luma an orange tabby who's life was cut short by breast cancer. There's Kiki our well-loved Yellow Lab who spent 17 Christmases with us! Little "Missy- another Schnauzer, who passed on the Island two years ago. We also have to pause and remember Doyle our orange tabby who bolted from our RV while parked in an RV Park in Winnipeg as we were making our way to our new home here on the island. We never saw him again. The feeling of not knowing what happened to him still haunts us almost every day. ~tears~

Today, we share our new, mountain-top, Island home with our third schnauzer- Koko, who is so much like our yellow lab Kiki it is remarkable. Finally, Doyle's brother- Dickens, at 10 years old is still with us and is actually sitting right on top of my chair back, behind my neck, as I type. It's a favourite spot for him.

Here’s to another Christmas, a different Christmas this year.
We celebrate in a new home after moving in October from a new house we lived in two months short of three years.
Things change.
We strive to be happy- and we are.

Take “refuge” in this season, for it’s a safe haven in what was a year of stormy weather. Enjoy the quiet hours, the peace and time spent around a shimmering Christmas tree. Be mesmerized for a few moments by the flames of a flickering fire. The Holiday table may be a little empty this year but you'll get through.
I know we will.
Enjoy every special moment. Wrap it in a bow and hold it tight throughout the year.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and let's hope 2021 will usher us in to a new healthier, safer time for everyone.

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

ROBBLOG# 865- Sounding Joy


Repeat the Sounding Joy.

Repeat the sounding Joy.
Repeat, Repeat- The Sounding Joy.
This Season we all have to look a little harder and be a little more creative when it comes to looking for Joy and repeating it.

2020 has been a stinker of a year.
Does it feel like the Holiday Season to you?
To me- sometimes yes.
Sometimes no.

I watch all the Christmas Movies I love to watch every year- except for all that Hallmark CRAP.
Especially the Hallmark CRAP that is filmed here in Canada especially British Columbia under the guise of keeping Canadian Actors employed- for the most part in secondary roles.
That's the way it's always been here.
We're second banana's to the Yankees.
Stupid really.

How can you be sure that a "Canadian Made" Christmas film is American?
Well for one thing even before you read the credits- if you stay with the film that long, all you have to do is count the number of American Flags in a scene.
They are usually everywhere.
On mantels. On streets. In town squares. Hanging from porches. Stuck on buildings.
It's the optimal hint of knowing a film is shot here under the guise of being in America. The flags are just in case a viewer or two recognize the landscape or streetscape as being quintessentially Canadian.

Personally, I always watch for facades of the "Royal Bank" or "Tim Horton's" in the background.  Green Maple Trees, flowers one usually doesn't see at Christmas, bright sunshine and actors wrapped in thick scarves when it's obviously a warm day are other signs to look for. The other night I saw a Home Hardware sign in a movie covered with another name but you could be sure it was "Home Hardware" underneath.

I don't know why the film just can't take place here, in Canada.
Maybe if it were "flagless" it could be almost anywhere- even when dubbed into German. It doesn't change the story. Still you have to be pretty hard up to sit down and waste 90 minutes on Hallmark Crap- and they're so white and straight! If they do venture into "living colour" or LGBT  storylines it's like 80's stuff. The Gay character has had a rotten, sad life even after coming out- if they've come out. The Gay character- if old enough, has suffered or knows someone who has suffered from AIDS. 

When the character does come out during Christmas dinner with their invited "friend" watching from across the table, the Mother says- "I always knew."
Dad curses, spits and says-
"Awww, go out and find yourself a girl. That'll set you right!"

Then Dear, old, Dad excuses himself from the table running to vomit in the guest bath as he imagines his son in a naked embrace with the "invited friend" sitting opposite his son.
Good old Dad. 
Thanks for your love and support.
"It was all those hugs from women when he was a kid that made him that way"- says Dad gruffly.
"He never learned to throw a ball like the other boys."
Just can't cope with sonny boy being a Fag.

I'm afraid if you want to feel the spirit this Christmas Season, you'll just have to look elsewhere to find your Joy and definitely not in a Hallmark presentation.

I Repeat.
To find your sounding "Joy" look elsewhere this Holiday Season. There is lots of Joy to to be found even though it's been a difficult year for us all. You just have to look a little harder.

Happy Holidays. Seasons Greeting. Merry Christmas.

Friday, December 18, 2020

ROBBLOG #864- Kismet for Christmas

 Kismet for Christmas.

No, it's not a substitute for Holiday Turkey- it's Kismet.
Kismet like it's meant to be.

Take for instance if you stood on a spot...
"What spot?"- you ask?
Oh, any spot, I guess but in this case it's a special spot. A Kismet spot.
"Oh I see. Tell me more."- you say.
I will.

Kismet happened to us in the past couple of years. It may have started a few years before but let's start with the most recent manifestation.

There as a certain spot on this Island that the Mister and I now call home. It's a spot where we took visiting guests. It gave guests- especially Easterners from Ontario, an idea of what our Island was like as far as topography is concerned. It never failed to impress.
How could it not?
There's a lake. Several mountains. An ocean view. Sky for days and even a view of the mainland- especially at night when the lights of Grouse Mountain flicker in the distance.
In summer it is a "hot" spot. Plenty of sunshine. Almost desert-like with yucca's and cacti and palms.
This time of year- at Christmas, it's magical. 
It may be green but it's a magical green.
You can see in the distance Grouse Mountain's ski resort lit up with the lights twinkling. THat's where the snow is.
There and up island about two hours to Courtney/Comax. It's where winter enthusiasts on the island go.

"So Kismet?"
Oh yes...well this spot where we stood time and time again is now the spot where we live. Our house is built on the very spot. We see our ocean, lake, sky views daily and even some snow on top of mountains like Mount Benson and Prevost.
It is magical and it's so unreal some days one has to pinch one's self. Like when we were kids and we ran into the living room to see piles and piles of gifts under a sparkling, green balsam. Well, that was my Christmas as a kid. I had to pinch myself.
I was spoiled. Very spoiled. My Mum and Dad went whole hog for me at Christmas when I was the only kid in the house.
Today this spot, on this Island, in this province, in this country, on this globe called earth is Kismet.

We had dreamed of getting away from Ontario winters.
To those of you still employed, retirement and your own "Kismet" may seem a long way off but it's coming.
Make plans now.
Dream and what better time to dream and make your dreams come true than the holiday season.

Kismet doesn't always work the way you want it to the first time.
It didn't for us.
We needed to make another change and we did. As human beings we can be in control of our future.
Our destiny.
Our Kismet.
Those that don't seek change are missing the train of happiness.

If you are not happy- change it.
Dolly Parton wrote a song called "Change It".
So do it.
Make this Christmas season happy.
Make it your Kismet.
Make a change now. Today. Dream and make your dreams come true.
You can do it.
I did. The Mister and I did together and believe me if we can- you can.

So jingle your bells.
Be merry.
Screw covid- it's meeting it's match in 2021 anyway.

Make plans for a happy Holiday Season and all the days ahead now.
Don't wait for the years to fly by because before you know it your desire for Kismet is just a memory.
Something to regret a few years down the road.

And Heaven and nature sing
And Heaven and nature sing...

It's time to find your glee.

Sing out.
Ring the bells.
Cheers to the season.
Here's to happiness and here's to the first day of the rest of your life.


Friday, December 11, 2020

ROBBLOG #863- Peace 2020


The last time I looked at this word PEACE was in December 2014.
Let's see what 2020 brings...

Peace. A word that in itself sounds warm and quiet. Peace. A little shush with the “c” on the end.

It's time to think about PEACE.
Peace in the Middle East. It's a never ending wish.
PEACE of Mind for the families of the two Canadians- the two Michaels, still jailed in an unforgiving country like China.
Unforgiving for whatever reason. The Canadian Government has been unable to free them and give them Peace.

Peace on Earth, Goodwill towards men. Peace doesn’t just mean being kind and thoughtful and peaceful during the holidays, it’s a word that should resonate the entire year through. Peace should be a top priority.
Take a few minutes, light a candle this season for Peace.
If any message could ever break through and catch the ear of any Supreme Being- Peace is it.
I’m still not an expert on Peace.
Is anyone?
People in government get paid for being experts on Peace but have they learned anything? Doesn't seem that there's an easy way to deal with a cold, distant, communist regime such as China or North Korea and I presume Russia too. I mean look at Hong Kong. Things were pretty good when the UK was still in "control". Now Hong Kong jails any citizen who mildly disagrees with their tyrannical regime.

I still don’t know how if this world will even get close to understanding the word “Peace”. Terrorism is out there lurking in the light of day as well as the dark of night. It makes us mindful and careful.
When we travel to other countries- who knows when that will be again, we always take extra care and are aware of our surroundings. Take last year at this time in London the Mister and I were sitting in a cozy cafe watching folks rush by on the sidewalk just outside our window table . We were waiting for our room to be ready at a hotel down the street. Soon, our phones starting buzzing. When we looked at text messages they were from home. Friends and family wondering if we were alright. If we were safe.?
We didn't know it but there had been several stabbings on London Bridge.
Terror during a time of Peace.

We need to find Peace. 

Take a few moments to reflect in a quiet spot away from the hustle and bustle.

Quiet contemplation over a hot chocolate paired with a shortbread cookie.

Take some time for quiet thoughts while watching tree lights flash and twinkle. Contemplate an ornament that you've hung on your tree for decades.

Reach out and touch a friend who may be lonely or needs some help. Reach out to a stranger and it doesn't have to be a corporation like a church out there ringing their bells as they stand close to a bin of cash. Do it yourself.
Cut out the middle person. 
Buy a coffee or a sandwich for a homeless person sitting on a street corner huddled in a blanket. You can be sure the help and thought you provide is going directly to the source.
A warm smile and a nod of the head to a passing stranger goes a long way too. At least it used to. It's much harder in these times when most of us are wearing masks. I've seen masks that say "I'm Smiling". It makes me smile.

A physically-distanced walk with a friend or loved one in the crisp evening air is a nice holiday activity. It does the spirit the world of good. It starts those endorphins moving and you'll feel one hundred percent happier and peaceful. There doesn’t have to be words on a walk, just positive thoughts.

So let's send thoughts of Peace during this Holiday Season and together just maybe someone, somewhere out there is listening.

Monday, December 7, 2020

ROBBLOG #863- Bah Humbug


Honestly, I might just as well take the bloody tree down today.

What a dull, old, sad, sappy, crispy-critter of a Christmas this is turning out to be.
I mean as I read Dickens A Christmas Carol, even good old Scrooge is having more fun than most people are this holiday season.
Bah Humbug.

Oh sure, I'm shopping- online mostly.
The Amazon drivers and Canada Post delivery people know me by my first name.
We are exchanging birthday cards next year.
They are at my door more than the Jehovah's.

The biggest problem is the joy of Christmas is being lost this season.
Covid is to blame.
Out in the stores everyone resembles a version of the Stepford wives- all masked up with only eyes showing overtop of mini-cummerbunds. I can't recognize anyone I know!
Then, if you attempt to smile at someone as you round the corner at Stupid Store or Walmart, it's lost beneath the mask. I try to smile with my eyes but it doesn't seem to be working.

Yesterday, I was standing at a freezer looking at turkeys. Two ladies stood to my right. We were all doing our best to give each other space. Not one of us had a measuring tape in our bags so we approximated the best we could. Suddenly and without warning I head a voice speaking to me-

"The turkeys are suppose to be 99 cents a pound at Thrifty's but they didn't have any. Walmart's are cheaper than these. 30 dollars for a turkey this size. It's criminal"

I looked at each lady but couldn't figure out who was speaking to me. Only their eyes were working and they gave me no hints. I said- "I think I'll check out Walmart."
No nods. No smiles. Just a pair of masks hanging there on two empty faces.
Happy Holidays...

It's the new way of the world, I guess.
Vaccines are coming according to Justin but it doesn't mean covid will be wiped out in a fortnight.
Maybe not even by this time next year.
It does take the jolliness away from Christmas though- doesn't it?

If I took our tree down the only one who'd notice would be the Mister because we can't have anyone else in the house to even see our tree if we are to follow Dr. Bonnie's edict.
That may change today.
Today, she is to tell us BC'ers what we can and cannot do this Christmas.
Can we see people in our homes?
Can more than one household get together in a restaurant?
Who knows?

(UPDATE: She told us the rules are extended to January 8th 2021. Awww Nuts!!)

Here in Beautiful British Columbia most of our cases are on the mainland in Fraser Health and the Lower Mainland- including Vancouver. On the Island as far as I know there are no cases here in the Cowichan. Our Island Health cases are in Port Alberni in the centre of the Island and also in the Saanich Peninsula.

I think Fraser and the lower mainland should have been shut weeks ago- like the Maritimes.
It would probably have prevented a lot of new cases.
There was talk about stopping ferry service but here on Vancouver Island we depend on the ferries not just as a means to get to the mainland- not that anyone wants to go. We also use the ferries as a way to get food and fuel and other supplies delivered. It's a conundrum but I'll do the right thing and follow Dr. Bonnie's advice.

Guess I'll go sit next to the Christmas Tree and hum Christmas Carols to myself as I sip my morning coffee.

Fah Lah Lah Lah Lah it's depressing.

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

ROBBLOG #862- Passages of Time


December 1st. The Holidays.

Where did you come from?

I swear it was August just a week ago and yet when I stop and think about it we saw a house, bought a house and moved into a house all in a matter of three, short months, so yes- December first is here in all it's sparkle and shine.

Did I mention we are blissfully happy? 
Happy like Bing Crosby in Holiday Inn when he finally gets his woman- at the end of the movie mind you. Of course in my case, it's the Mister.
We have been so pleased and yes happy that we made this huge move to the Island three and a half years ago. 

You should try it Easterners. We have two houses filled with Ontarians just three and four houses down the street. One family from Guelph, the other Ajax.

It's true that we- mostly just me in the beginning, were not happy with our first house. It took a while for us both to realize that. Anyhoo, that's old stuff and barely a pleasant memory these days. We love this mountain home and the views!
Most days we are gobsmacked.
It draws your attention away. 
It's like heaven some days when you look down on the clouds covering the valley. I've not seen the "real" Heaven and gawd knows there probably isn't one but at least I know what it could be like living up there and looking down there upon the clouds.

Speaking of Heaven...
My sister texted me yesterday to say that a friend had asked her to tell me that my Grade 7 & 8 art teacher- Margaret Leith, had passed away last Friday. Margaret was a great mentor. At Regent Park Public School in Orillia, Ontario, she encouraged me to take art in High School. She was supportive of what I did. In latter years, she would attend every stage show I was in for MAT and Double R Productions. She always waited after the show to get a hug.
She will be missed.
I am sure when I was eleven years old in Grade seven that Margaret knew I was different.
Did we even use "Gay" in 1962?
I wouldn't have known.
Another part of growing up taken away.

So, I read Miss Leith's obit.
Cremation had taken place and a memorial service will be conducted at a later date as is normal in these trying Covid times.

While in the Obit section, I browsed through the listings of the past few months. I do this once in a while to keep up. My Mother always made a habit of reading the death notices in the paper. As long as she didn't read her own name, she was good.

As I browsed through I found four other people I knew- we knew, who had passed.
An Orillia neighbour Don Banks. Don told us many stories of his life. Some very long.
He'll be missed by his family and wife Jackie who helped usher at our Theatre Orillia stage shows the last few seasons.

Further down the page- Sara Jenkins. I did not know she had been an Olympic Swimmer. She was a lovely lady and was always was glad to see you. He Obit was long and very interesting. Kudos to the author. Now I know who suggested my name to Telecare Orillia when I was asked to speak to a half dozen of the Telecare phone people a few years back. I never knew who had suggested my name to speak about being Gay. Their calls from young, questioning people were increasing.

A bit further down the page I saw Jack Tolland's name. Jack ran a driving academy in Orillia for something like 40 years. My cousin Judy- who passed a couple of years back, encouraged me to go to Jack for driving lessons.
I booked my first lesson.
After the first lesson Jack turned to me sitting there stiffly behind the wheel and he said-
"Rob, go and get your license."
I did.

Lastly as I scrolled down the page I saw the name Jeanette Law.
Jenette worked at the Orillia Antique Mall for years when the Mister and I moved to Orillia. She sold us many antique pieces and bric-a-brack.
She was a lovely lady and even came to tea at our Orillia Home- Pine Tree House.
I'll always remember her for our antiques and tooling around town in her Volkswagen convertible.

What did I learn from reading of these passing's you ask?
Firstly, I applaud the lives lived. 
It's just the circle of life and all that but mostly it tells me that time is precious on this earthly plane.
The next 20 years will tell the story.
I wonder if I'll be active two decades on?
Will I do the things I do now? 
Will I be healthy?
Will I walk around or ride my bike?

Only time will tell...