Thursday, February 22, 2018

Winter and Spring Fight to the Death, Hear all about it!  Place your bets!

The snow came just after I called Trev Deely motorcycle to ask them to have my Harley ready a month early.  Dave had ridden his Softail past me with that smug look I’d seen on all the motorcyclists for days.  Spring was here.  Ha ha ha. Looking at you still riding in a cage.  I fear I jinxed it.  As we say among friends, “I may not be much but I’m all I think about.”
That’s when my furnace died.  I called Eric at Starfleet and had faith he’d have it fixed in a day or two. He’s the best there is and has solved every problem I’ve thrown at him over the years.  I just turned out the furnace lacked the normal access and each day he’d fix one thing and it would work better but crap out in the night. I love my electric blanket.
I fear I’d been thinking about returning to the prairies but this taste of winter cold and equipment break downs was a personal reminder of the struggle with the environment that was part of day to day existence out east.  Here I had mosquito people and horsefly authorities and wasp drivers but there were no real bugs in the lower mainland.  And winter didn’t last all year. The climate here is more hospitable. Even if the creepy people demand carbon taxes and punish people for heating their homes so LA people won’t have to use their air conditioners more.
Winter here lasted only a couple of months at most .  I’d just taken pictures of pretty blue crocus and tulips and posted them on Face book.  I called them Hope and Faith.  Would they survive.
Thank God for Canadian Tire. They had an indoor propane heater to attach to propane bottles. They are imostly used in construction sites.  The temperature had dropped and my electric heater limited by the available power on my cable wouldn’t do more than keep the temperature above 60. Since living in the tropics I will only wear shorts and t shirt in the home.  I was now wearing sweats and sweaters and slippers. I may as well be in Winnipeg.
When the weekend came I escaped with Laura to Harrison Hotsprings. The Harrison Lake Hotel was luxurious with heat and I sat for hours in the public hot spring pool dreaming of the Mariana Islands.  My dreams all week week were of my sailboat and fair winds and following seas. Darlene’s incredible Facebook  pictures of Australia beaches have certainly stoked the dreams. Laura began talking about her love of Saipan once the snowstorm hit.
This week Eric became pretzel man and got into the inner workings of the furnace to scratch the right spot that had made the beast ornery.  A tiny burnt out part that somehow not responded to the computer command to ignite.  Eric set it straight. Heat, glorious, heat was now mine.
I sat on the couch in shorts and T-shirt watching NCIS and Big Bang Theory in shock.  I went to work each day.  I love my F350 truck with new snow tires. I smugly watched cars fish tailing in the ice and snow.  I talked to a motorcyclist who said it was ‘awfully’ cold, the year’s best understatement.
All over the news the Justin Trudeau and family reality show desperate to out compete their role models the Kardashian’s and Jenners were in India dressed funny doing photo ops in front of impressive old buildings. I laughed at the quotes from Indiannews about how ridiculous they looked in their Indian “costume”. Anyway now I expect him to break into the song “It’s fun to live at the YMCA” Even when I visited Mumbai it was as sophisticated as New York so I’m not surprised Trudeau’s antics are perceived as “mocking”. When he visited us in the DTES he certainly didn’t get dressed in layers of rags carry and carry a sleeping bag.
  The India government was further disgusted with him as he was only meetings with terrorists, the same modus operadi he used in Canada. But even that didn’t help his plummeting ratings so he went back to his winning strategy of giving millions and billions to strangers. 10’s of millions to terrorists in Canada. Billions to overseas tyrannies. And now he says he’s got a million dollar ‘trade deal’ but it turns out he knows as little about a good trade deal as he knows about economy, environmen or community. He’s given $750 million to chucling gleeful Indian billionaires, he really likes to hob nob with billionaires at our expense,, and they have said they’ll give him $250 billion in return.  It’s like stealing candy from a baby. But the media is all over it and every one is smoking dope and drinking and no doubt some are trying opium because ‘why not’.
My patients are homeless and the news says the shelters turned away 50 people or more.  I’m writing prescriptions for antibiotics. The flu is killing old people.  There’s a sense the government wants to save money by killing off the citizens .  The death rate from the fentanyl epidemic I’m in the middle of is over a thousand and now they’re shooting each other near the clinic I’m working. But there’s another picture of Justin and Sophie cavorting in front of religious monuments in the hot weather having abandoned Canada to the cold for his weekly family vacation.
I snarl by myself at times.  My eye less dog comforts me.  He’s been in a world of pain and now we’re relatively okay. We have heat to return to.
Then the pipes freeze. It’s a diagnostic dilemma in the dark in the snow in the below zero windchill last night in the dark but I find some idiot (me) has unplug the heat wire for the hoses so he could plug in his electric bicycle falsely believeing spring had sprung.  I plug in the cord.  In the morning the shower is running full blast, the pipe unfroze in thee night,but there’s puddles mist and spray throughout the bathroom.  I towel everything  down.  I really have to pee.
I go to my refrigerator to get milk for the coffee I’m making and the fridge is off, the freezer meat is soft. Sometime in the night the water pump and new plug and electric heater have blown the circuit.  I re set it.  I now have heat and electricity and my refrigerator is working. My water heater I hope is back on line.  It’s taken me about a half hour to get this all back in order. I’m having my first sip of coffee.
I’m running a bit late. I didn’t do the sit ups I promised myself I’d do. I’ve not meditated but I’ve not suicided.  I’ve not shot up with a needle. I ‘ve not gone looking for a bomb to blow up some government office. I’ve not become a rapper. I’ve not voted Liberal. I’ve just plodded through a not atypical Canadian winter day knowing that as I’m in Vancouver this is likely my karma for all the ‘smug’ remarks I’ve made about Winnipeg when my friend Wes sends pictures of the magic driveways and walkways there that fill up with snow minutes after they’ve been plowed or shoveled.  Here the snow will be gone in a week or so. I hope the bulbs are deep enough to withstand the cold. I love the flowers of spring.  Soon I’ll be visiting the tulips in the valley for the annual glorious tulip festival.
I just have to remember that Spring does come.  Even in Winnipeg, Toronto and Montreal Spring eventually returns with warmth and joy for all.  I expect the media will have triumphal selfies of Justin Trudeau in Canada at last, maybe even at work in parliament.  It might just be once like the sighting of the ground hogs but even the French work here eventually.  The biker gangs and mafia will soon take to the streets. The corruption will heat up. It’s Canada , we’re resilient.
Another old friend died. He was spiritual. We know he’s in heaven.  That alternative appears more attractive in Canadian winters.
  My back hurts getting out of bed.  The chiropractor is helping.  I’ve been chewing aspirin and my lovely doctor gave me a stool sample kit for Occult Blood testing. I am surely bleeding in my aching gut with all this aspirin I’m taking to just be mobile so the last thing I want is a ‘false positive’ test. They threaten everyone over 50 with the long snake. As kids we were scared of them under our beds but these ones are real and despite the humor of Connolly’s description of a colonoscopy I really feel I could go to my grave happily having avoided medically induced explosive diarrhea.
It really isn’t that bad.  I have to look on the positive. Snow tires, clothing, healthy cat and dog, heat again, running water again, light and aspirin.
 There’s just this little bit about going outside. Too many car crashes. The other drivers scare me.
 I see people who can’t bring themselves to leave their apartments. I’m seeing more and more people afraid and paranoid.  The heart patients are having trouble breathing in the cold.
I have a picture of two malaria’s and a cholera up on my wall to remind me we’re just helping each other, one a little more along the road or a little less sick.
 My mother would say, “lord love a duck”.
. I’ve got to see if the water has had enough time to heat so I can shave. I need the inspiration of a hot shower especially to ease my back.
 I’ve got clean clothes.  And snow tires. Don’t forget the snow tires.
Thank God for spring and please get rid of this snow so I can ride my motorcycle.  Really I don’t want a pickle I just want to ride on my motorcycle.
 I trust you spring. You will beat winter . You always do.


Sunday, February 18, 2018

Westminister Abbey, British Columbia

Coming home from a weekend at Harrison’s I turned off number 7 road at Stave Lake Road driving up to  Dewdney Trunk.  We’ve often stopped at the Abbey in Mission, whether we’ve been on the Harley, in a car or as this time in the Ford F350 Truck.
I like to stop at this lovely spiritual church and pray.  This time, the first Sunday of Lent we were blessed to arrive for the afternoon hymns.  Lent is the 40 day leading up the Easter. The catholic monks there follow the Rule of St. Benedict.  I believe their devotion imbues the already serene site with the power of prayer. It’s a calming place.  I feel uplifted and touched by grace each time I come.  This was special.  To hear the monks reciting.  To kneel in prayer among the worshipers. I felt  apart of the good work of the church in the world.  God the Father, God the Son. God the Holy Spirit.  Thank you Jesus.
Gilbert waited in the truck while Laura and I were in the church.  He was happy at our return.





Harrison Lake Hotel, Hotsprings Steakhouse, Chuck and Kitty's Cafe

Laura and I and Gilbert just returned from a wonderful weekend at Harrison Lake Hotel. I love Harrison Lake and Hot Spring.  I  have stayed at the Harrison Resort and Spa, the Bungalow Cabins, Harrison Beach Hotel and the Harrison Lake Hotel.  Each has it own charm and attractions.
The Harrison Lake Hotel was once the Ramada and then the Executive. I’ve been coming here for some 30 years. When Laura and I ‘ve come on the Harley we loved the safe underground parking.  Since Gilbert arrived almost 8 years ago we’ve not come on the motorcycle but rather in the car or truck.  I like it’s central location and easy walk across the street  to the Public Hot Springs Pool. All the shops are right across the street too.
The rooms have always been great.  Clean and well cared fo.  Elegant.  Nice view.  Good wi fi.  Great tub and shower. And best of all, dog friendly.
There was a problem in the past with the hot tub or sauna or something not working.  They’re all working now but I was only up there to get some canned cokes from the dispenser The sauna has been a luxury in the past.
There was also a lady once under previous management who surly. .  Not wanting to deal with her after one grumpy encounter we next went to the Harrison Beach.  There the rooms and service have always been superb and we kept going back each year.   Hearing about the new management at Harrison Lake Hotel we thought we’d give it a another whirl because the place has so many attractions.
The staff at the front desk were amazing.  Sad how one person’s attitude can affect a business but it does.  I had a borderline "secretary from hell" who almost ruined my business. I didn’t even know she was smoking crystal meth on breaks till a patient complained.  So I don’t blame owners too much.  The old saying is it’s hard to get good help and I’m actually much more amazed at how many people are so reliable that you really notice the bad apples.    Vacations are too few and too short though to take risks so we, like most people walk around trouble spots. . With the type of work Laura and I do we really appreciated the helpful caring upbeat attitudes of the new Harrison Lake staff.
We’ve loved taking long walks  around the lake and along the picturesque boardwalk.  The snow capped mountains and fresh air, and vast deep blue lake have been ever an attraction.  Sometimes we’ve gone swimming in summer. .  Other times we’ve canoed.  I’ve had my boat and outboard there fishing.  Mostly Laura and I love  the walks with Gilbert. It’s a favourite place for photography.  I’ve loved the sand castle and the town’s folk musicians.
"Taking the  waters”  in the public pool is the centre spot in each day.  $14 for entrance and towel.   Aboriginals came for the healing water long before the white man.  I love BC Hotsprings. Some people go for hours. People of all ages. Children and old.  I’m good for a half hour.  It’s healing.  I know it’s good for me.  I also can’t come here without remembering  bringing Mom and Dad decades back  and how much they loved the relaxation.
A real treat at Harrison Lake Hotel is the Hotsprings Steak House next door. They now actually provide room service but for years I’ve been going down and ordering steaks and bringing them up to the room to eat while watching a late night movie.  They’re always had great entertainers so while I’ve waited I’ve heard the best of talent. This weekend Jan Searle was a young Joni Mitchell.  With Gilbert Laura and I like to eat in the room and share bits of our steak with our very best little friend.  The steaks are the best. The gravy on the mashed potatoes was to die for and the straw berry cheese cake so tasty.
In the mornings we had the famous Hotsprings Chuck and Kitty’s All in One Breakfast Sandwiches.  The Hotsprings Steakhouse now has a full breakfast menu with appealing looking omelettes and eggs benny but Chuck and Kitty’s is a mouth watering tradition.  Their coffee is the best as well and they and their staff are so delightful.
It was a rainy weekend but Gilbert didn’t mind and both of us being fat from winter needed the exercise.  It actually snowed the next morning and the wind was so strong both Gilbert and I had to lean forward as we walked.  He did his business more quickly than normal and we both headed back to Laura with hot coffee and  Chuck and Kitty’s All in One Spicy  Breakfast sandwich.
It was simply awful that we had to leave.  But what a fabulous weekend retreat so close to Vancouver. Thank you Harrison Lake Hotel, Hotspring’s Steak House and Chuck and Kitty for making this a memorable weekend.   The hot springs themselves are so relaxing and healing.












Friday, February 16, 2018

Gratitude

Thank you God for this new day.  Help me to use it for your glory.  Help me to see the positive.  Let me always remember that ‘yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, thou aren’t with me.”
Thank you for my health and the health and wellness of my dog Gilbert and the visiting cat, George. Thank you for their morning antics and excitement over being fed. Help me to show the same joy in simple things. 
Thank you for my breakfast.  Thank you for the warmth this morning after the furnace has been fixed the last two days. Thank you for indoor plumbing and hot and cold water.  Thank you for the lovely Canadian view. Thank you for the crocuses and snow drops and green buds appearing on trees. Thank you for the Spring. Thank you for the increasing length and light in the day.
Thank you for work that fulfills the Buddhist criteria of ‘right livelihood’.  Thank you for the people I work with and those I serve. Thank you for the wankers in government even though they’re a bad lot , they are as necessary as manure if we expect growth. Please lord give us a higher quality of fertilizer soon.  Help me be more forgiving and learn to let go of my anger when I see the corruption and waste and listen to the media lies about Canada and BC and Vancouver.  Please Lord lets put an end to the nefarious inroads that UN Agenda 21 has made into our beurocracies and government.  Let us hold these traitors accountable.  Help me Lord go about my work without being distracted by the destructiveness of the ideologically driven nut bars that have usurped power and are increasingly raping this once great country for their own small elite good.
Please Lord help me to rise above the insane politics of today.  Thank you for the Bible and the stories which remind me that this is not new and that we have survived over and over again the stupidity and greed of men and women.  Help me Lord see the resilience of human kind and see that we are progressing ever forward and ever closer to you.  I believe in Homo Spiritualis, the next generation of humans who aren’t Polly Anna and know that authenticity and transparency are as fundamental as truth to the future progress.  Please help the politics of this world and our law courts trapped in in the 19th century catch up with scientific advances in the 21st century. Help our churches, synagogues and mosques come into the 21st century along.  Right now we have monkeys making decisions about nuclear weapons and we really do need to collectively get into space to remember how tiny our one planet is, how vast the universe, and how Great God is.  Help me to know my right size and rise about the little stuff. Help me to be a part of the good and not just another dime a dozen critic. Help me to seek solutions rather than just point out flaws.  
Help me Lord be better than I am.
Help me pray Lord. Help me be still and quiet and hear your peace and wisdom.
Thank you Lord for the Holy Bible and all the Holy teachings in the world. Thank you for the saints and prophets who teach love.  Help us all especially me to ‘do unto others as I would have others do unto me”.  Help me be a better doctor and more considerate and more effective. Help me heal and guide me in my listening and talking.  Help me to focus and be fully present each moment. 
Thank you God for faith and hope. 
Thank you God for this day.  
Thank you for all your blessings. Please watch over and keep safe and help prosper my family, friends and neighbors and those I come in contact with today.  Thank you Lord for everything.  

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Cariboo Road Christian Fellowship

Cariboo Road Christian Fellowship is a spirit filled church.  You feel the presence of God when first you step through the doors. The smiles on the faces, the alertness.  A sense of community.
I like their layout. Coffee and scattered tables in the vestibule. People hanging out chatting before and after church.  Before I could enjoy a coffee,   I needed to pee ,so headed straight to the washrooms. I liked the clean freshness there. Everything about the place reflected care.
I’ve been before a few times.  It’s not my primary church. I moved to Burnaby and I’m still a bit of a church tourist. I like best going to church with the God kids. Then there’s friends ordinations to be attended.
But I keep recommending Cariboo Road Christian Fellowship. I go when I sleep in.  My regular faith community meets at 10:30 am on Sunday but Cariboo Road Christian Fellowship has an early church service followed by a later one at 11:15 am.  I like that they have a whole lot going on all week too. Men’s group meetings one night. Bible Study another night.  Recovery meetings Friday nights. Beginnings for new Christians or wannabe’s. It’s a one stop shopping church for everyone.
And that’s another thing I like about the church. People of all ages and lots of children.  And different ethnic backgrounds.  I don’t like going into an all black church or all white or all brown unless that’s the makeup of the community the church is located.  I like when there’s the mix you find here which reflects this neighbourhood.  Looking at the way people were dressed I“d say they have a pretty good spread of lower to upper class with most people being middle class, much like the community here too.
They were highlighting a couple of missionary programs too, one in Lebanon and another in Africa. I like a church with missions.  I was raised Baptist and always loved as a kid visiting missionaries showing slides of far away places and people.  Christianity is for everyone.
I really liked the band.  This is a Pentecostal Hillsong Third Day level band.  When they played and sang the Creed the place burst with joy. People pretty much swaying and dancing in the aisles and everyone clapping hands.
The sermon was Ephesians.  Good sermon.  Godly preacher. Good Humor too. As the main church leader Paul was there and Ephesians was written by Saint Paul, the young preacher joked at one point,“I was having dinner with Paul, our Paul, not Saint Paul“.  All round fun, uplifting.  Entertaining and moving.  Inspirational. I know that word‘s bandied about in church a lot but a good sermon is rallying. I felt I wanted to be closer to God.  I thought of  “ my utmost for His highest”.  
This Ephesian‘s passage has that beloved line,“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you.“.  I love Michael Smith’s song,  ”Open the eyes of my heart, Lord.”. 
The preacher talked of hope.  It’s good message any day but resonated with the spring day..
Communion was good, bread and blood of Jesus, metaphysical, literal, transformative, miraculous.  
I liked Paul’s prayers.  The service ended with this 
I felt  lighter as I left Cariboo Road Christian Fellowship.  I know Jesus likes to lighten our loads. Jesus has been there with us. 
 “For where two or three have gathered together in my name, I am there in their midst.” He said that. It’s in the Gospel, the Good News.  We’re not alone.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Spring has Sprung

I am so thankful that spring has sprung.  Of little faith I worry I might die before the sun returns or rather earth gets over it’s pout and returns to the sun.  It’s the blossoms that most move me.  After the dark and dreary the colour begins to return. Shoots come up. Bits of green appear.  I took Gilbert for a long walk today.  It was so beautiful. Thank you.









Friday, February 9, 2018

Vancouver Art Gallery and the God Kids

One of the joys of my travel has been going to Art Galleries and Museums around the world. .  Art galleries are a very special space. Truly artistic in themselves,  the architecture and presentation of the art within is itself an art. Curators are to art like the conductor is too symphony.  The cafe’s and art stores there are  also wonderful places. Vancouver Art Gallery is really fine.
I chide myself that when I’m in the city I don’t go to the Vancouver Art Gallery enough.  I loved the Monet exhibit last year. I”ve always loved the Emily Carr.
When I phoned Kevin and Anna about going to church with the God kids (Kendra, Alex and Izak) Kevin answered and told me, “They’ve got coughs so we thought we’d go to art gallery instead. They’re over their colds but we thought their coughs might be disturbing in the church.”
“Count me in,” i said immediately. Art galleries and museums are themselves a kind of secular church.
We met there in the plaza.   The kids were fascinated by the dirt at the base of the trees planted in the cement.  Kendra likes to hold my hand when we walk. It was particularly gritty.
On the first floor of the gallery was the visiting Royal Collection. Lots of sketches and portraits from the Queen’s own home.  Were it not for Kevin’s keen eye I might have missed the only picture of Da Vinci in the collection.  Sir Edwin Landseer who mostly painted animals was my favourite.
Across from this was a ‘clever’ show of a artist and her make believe artist.  It was fine but  didn’t do much for me.  Avante Garde.
By contrast, on the second floor there was this amazing exhibit by the Japanese master, Takashi Murakami called the Octopus Eats its Own Leg. To survive duress the octopus it’s its own leg but the limb regenerates. It was a fitting image for an artist who had survived.   He’d been called the ‘Andy Warhol’ of Japan but from my own perspective I’d see him as their Picasso.  What always amazed me about Picasso was being introduced to his ‘cubism’ and only later seeing the works of his ‘blue period’. He was an amazing artist whose realistic work would have earned him a place in the history of art even if he hadn’t pushed the edges to be a moving force in modern art.. I think less of modern artists who throw paint at the wall but can't draw a stick figure.
Takashi’s nuclear works were amazing.  Tremendous colour and form. His ideas were intriguing too, with the use of the use of little plastic combat toys arranged upon a matt to tell an important story of the militaristic tension between Japan and the US after WWII.  I loved this. But mostly I loved his truly Japanese whimsical almost childlike. I liked that a rapper had come to him to provide him with the rapper bear and other consumer comic art objects  Add to that the exploration of the Buddhist themes and arhats which were truly foreign and exotic. They were both ancient and futuristic.  Here was a truly first rate mind.  I liked that I was there with the children.  They were happy in the spaces that Murakami art created.  Not so much the darker demon realm but definitely in the magic rooms. I loved the friendly pink octopus.
Kevin and I were not impressed with the black art. I couldn’t help but think of black lights and felt art and generic industrial spaces.  It was disheartening that it was a Canadian artist.    Thankfully there was Emily Carr art.  When I think of Justin Trudeau’s shallow comments about there not being anything of Canadian value, he  really suggests a caracature of  ‘global’ consciousness.   I couldn’t help but think of the Group of Seven and Emily Carr.  When I first walked in the woods of the BC Coastal Salish and Haida I felt I’d been here spiritually thanks to the works of Emily Carr. She opened my eyes to the local space.
The Zen art  of Lui Shou Kwan was a marvel.  I loved it thoroughly.
True Nordic, How Scandinavians influence design in Canada was a lovely exhibit.  For me,  this was mostly because so many of the pieces were like chairs and silver sets I’d seen as a young man.  I’d married a Scandinavian goddess when I lived in Manitoba.  The Scandinavians contributed so much to the culture, beauty and genius of that province.
While Kevin and I were going back for a another swing through the Murakami , Anna and the kids  found a do it yourself arts and crafts room.  They all  made hats with ears or horns, I wasn’t sure.  They  sure were delighted with their creations.  Lots of families and kids were there. Given the fun of Murakami a great exhibit to visit with something for all ages.