Thursday, December 31, 2009

Winter Underwater at Ganges

Winter underwater at Ganges Harbour is cold and dark and miserable. I knocked the trombone bit off the dorade box when I launched the dinghy. First time I rescued it before it sought the ocean floor. The wood where the screws had mounted it had become mushy so I had only to turn it a bit and remount it with new drill holes. Before I did that though, the next day, I knocked it overboard when I was cleaning the deck of mollusk shells that had fallen off the bottom of the boat. For anyone who has lost something over the side of sailboats, and I've lost wrenches, screwdrivers, cups and outboard engines, there's that sad moment when one watches as the item sinks out of sight, gone to Davy Jones Locker, like a lost friend.

But I have a wet suit on board, albeit a summer wet suit, not the winter wet suit I have in storage or the dry suit I have in storage. But a wet suit. And flippers and goggles and snorkel. I slipped into tights and tshirt, donned the wet suit, doing contortions with the zipper on the back, climbed in the dinghy, got on the flippers and mask and snorkle, then rolled over the side. Darkness and cold greeted me as I reversed direction and porpoised back to the surface and scrambled into the dinghy. Now that was a stupid idea I thought! Time to rethink.

I checked the depth sounder 20 feet. I found my dive light. Battery needed recharging. I found my buddy air bottle and filled it from my main tank, missing my BCG and finding only a few tank weights I could use to counter my own buoyancy. I jury rigged a grossly inadequate weight belt.

A few hours later when the sun was still up and I couldn't put it off any longer, I donned the still damp gear and with yellow buddy air bottle and dive lamp I set out. I'd also hung a rope over the side of the boat with a weight that I could follow to the ground and use for bearing for search. Well, the water was just as cold but I sucked air from the buddy bottle kicking down with ears refusing to equalize but finally reaching the bottom thankful for the white rope. The darkness at the bottom was still really dark despite the dive light. I looked quickly around from the rope, maybe 10 feet circumference, irritated by my lack of counter buoyancy and astonished by the dark and cold. It was even scarey.

In a matter of seconds, I concluded the little trumpet end for the dorade box, could be replaced cheaply at Poppy's Second Hand Marine. I certainly didn't need fresh air funneling through the cabin right now. They're a hot climate item. I basically wasn't happy at all doing this. Indeed I was already feeling better heading to the surface. In the dinghy I was very happy. I was even happier in the hot shower. Maybe tomorrow I thought.

Today, it's windy in the harbor and choppy. Definitely worse conditions for diving. I can't believe I did my advanced and rescue Padi training in these conditions. Yes, I had the proper equipment and great instructors from Granville Island. What I have on board right now is only for emergencies such as fouled rudder. I'll have to get my weightbelt, BCG and winter wet suit from the storage locker. Still.

If one is going to go diving it's far better to do it in the Northern Mariana Islands. Now there's the place to drop something over the side of a sailboat, just to have the excuse to go diving.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Venison Pate


Necessary tool – Food grinder – My Sunbeam Oskar has been my favourite x 18 years plus


Deer Liver -cubed One onion -chopped

4 cloves garlic-crushed and chopped

2 stalks celery-chopped

One lemon -squeezed One lime -squeezed

3 tblsp of olive oil 1/8th cup soy sauce

2 tbsp honey Rosemary – 1 tbsp

Thyme – t tbsp Oregano – 1 tbsp

1 tsp salt Ground Pepper Corns -1 tbsp

Cayenne Pepper – 1 tsp Butter – 1 quarter pound

I'm guessing at the tbsp and tsp amounts because I just use a regular soup spoon since I don't know where the measuring spoons are and only use them if I'm trying someone else's recipe.

I put the oil in the frying pan and brown the onion and garlic before adding the venison liver. I salt and pepper the liver while it's cooking. Add the soy sauce now. I put a lid on the pan, I thoroughly cooking the liver through. It needs to be really well cooked in it's juices. I then drain off the fluid some and add some more oil still cooking it on the stove top now with the lid off. I then add all and other ingredients stirring them in and cooking this for another 5 minutes. I add the butter last.

When the butter is melted I turn off the stove.

I ladle the whole works juice and liver into the electric Sunbeam Oskar food grinder. I let it rip. It seems like it churns forever but then I like the creamy smooth pate best. If I wanted it chunky I could shut it down any time.

I put this in jars and refridgerate. Right now I've got mine outside on the sailboat deck . It's cold outside. I used about half to a third of a carefully cleaned deer liver and got about 16 ounces of pate. It's best served cold but I had a couple of pieces of fresh bread from the Salt Spring Island Thrifty's and smeared the still warm pate on that. It was delicious but then my venison pate has always been delicious.

The Venison Pate beginnings

I've been making venison pate since 1989, the year Bill Mewhort gave me my first whole deer. He'd shot a two point, watched it go down and then shot it again when it came back up. On the ridge he found he'd shot twin two points then had a heart attack carrying both deer out of the North Vancouver Island woods. That's when he met me. I saw him sitting sickly on the side of a logging road and stopped to ask if he was looking for a lift. "No I was looking for a doctor, " he said. I told him I was one. And he told me he thought he might have had a heart attack. I checked him out as best I could and said he'd likely survive. He asked me what I was looking for. I said, "A deer." And he said, "I think you might have found one, if you help me get mine out of the woods." That's when I carried his deer and 'mine' out of the woods while he rested. Later, his doctor confirmed that he indeed may have had a small heart attack, though a minor thing like that would never keep Bill from hunting. Heart attacks, cancer, paget's diseases, marriages, divorces, kids and grandkids wouldn't keep Bill from hunting. They'll probably find a Mewhort hunting gene when they get the human genome fully mapped.

That's how I had a whole deer to cook myself and began to wed my gourmet cooking training with my wild game experience. Last year Bill in his 70's and still hunting got baptized and this year he got married. He's already a grandfather many times over and one of the great hunters of our present day. I think he lets his new wife do the cooking. He lets his son Allen pack out the game he shoots though Allen is as likely now to shoot his own.

My first experience with pate

My first experience with pate was England circa 1971. I think it might have been Charing Cross Road. There was a downstairs wine and cheese bar there that served exotic pate's, duck, goose, boar whatever, with French names and different types of biscuit to have them on. The basement walls were original stone,circa hundreds of years old and the crowd was 70's office young people, baby boom era. They spoke with foreign English accents that made them even more interesting and attractive. I was a first time abroad Canadian working in London after bicycling across Europe with an utterly gorgeous, good humored, sophisticated first wife.

Standing in that really exciting city dressed in a pin striped dark suit eating pate' foire across from my vivacious brunette I might well have been a Sean Connery 007 on a very secret mission. In those days I fancied I looked a bit like Robert Redford (at least wanted to).

My first experiences with liver

"Eat your liver, it's good for you!" My father loved liver and onions. It was a favourite Sunday lunch fare. My mother loved it too. "It's full of iron, nutritious and good for the blood." I hated liver as a child. I used to stare at my plate while my parents told me it was 'good for me'. My parents were meat and potato folk, Dad growing up on the ranch with the benefits of country fine food supplemented by the best of hunting and fishing fare. Mom was a Toronto girl raised protestant and though Scottish Irish heritage, cooked English. I suspect in the Baptist home of her childhood "French cuisine" would be considered too sinfully close to Roman Catholic to be considered godly. Plain hearty wholesome food was the stuff of my childhood. Salt and pepper were really the only spices that the Good Lord probably approved of. "People use spices to disguise the poor quality of their food." Boiled was best but fried was alright. God most likely ate bland too.

Ironically as a young adult I grew to love liver and to this day absolutely love pate. I think while God may be bland, s/he's spicy too.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


I love Ganges. I love Salt Spring Island. I've been coming here for nearly 20 years. I've come over on the ferry, in van, car and on motorcycle. I've stayed ashore at friends and in the fine bed and breakfasts and motels. I've anchored the GIRI in the harbor countless times, fueled up and stayed at the guest wharf or in the Salt Spring Marina. This morning after a night at anchor in the harbor I called up the Salt Spring Island Marina, first on cell phone then on the VHF radio at 66A.

The lovely, helpful and friendly marina manager was there to help me with my lines after I told her I was solo sailing. What luxury to have water and electricity. My electric heater is right now combined with the diesel heater to make the cabin toasty. They've a winter rate special, $15 a night for any boat length. That can't be beat when summer rates are $1.25 to $1.50 a foot a night and Giri is 39.9 feet. She gave me the code for the laundry and showers rooms too.

I talked to Bob at Yanmar and he came by to check my Wagner Autopilot. He bled the system while I tried adding more hydraulic fluid but that didn't solve the problem. "I think the motor is hooped," he said. "That's too bad. I guess I'll take it back to Jastram Engineering in North Vancouver. " After that we talked about boats. He and his wife have a skookum steel boat they're fixing up with the dream of cruising the Polynesian Islands. I told him about cruising Sea of Cortez and sailing to Hawaii. "How'd your cat do?" he asked. "We're thinking of introducing the kitty to sailing." I told him about Angel's love of her sock drawer and warned him about all the tedious vaccination and quarantine issues pets face in the Pacific.

Later I got the dinghy off the deck and in the water. Despite my getting smaller dinghy's and outboards over the years they seem to get heavier. I wanted the dinghy in the water to make setting up the hydrovane self steering system more convenient. Without the autopilot I'll use it on the way back with the weather forecast for more wind. It's easy to mount the Hydrovane hanging over the stern but it's even easier from the dinghy.

I also wanted to motor over to the town. It's about a 2 block walk but why walk when you're boating. The outboard was a hard start but purred once she kicked over. Part of the boatworld is using the toys. Getting in the dinghy brought back memories of the first dinghy, the dinghy I used to stand in and hyrdroplane with the fins on the outboard. That one went like lightning. A 15 hp outboard on a dinghy rated for 9 hp. Now I'm older and sit sedately, this 4 hp Yamaha doing me just fine. There doesn't seem to be the same hurry there once was.

In town I did the standard tour of Mouat's. It's one of those amazing country hardware stores which has everything and then some. I found the unique hooks I needed for hanging lanterns on the boat as well as a replacement mirror for the one in the head that rusted after sea water came through the port hole in big seas. I found another $10 thinsulate togue at Mouat's Clothing. I misplaced the Bluewater Cruising Association togue I have on boat and headgear was critical in the cold wind at sea so I need a spare. I love the sweater I bought at Mouats this summer.

Seeing the Tree House Café outside I was reminded of all the great folk and country music I'd heard there. Being a week day, the market wasn't running as it usually is when I'm over in the summer. I don't know if it goes on in winter. The other place for great entertainment is the bar and grill at Salt Spring Marina, MoBy's. Food's always been great there.

Of course I got to the book store. It's one of my all time favourites. I got a Sam Llewellyn and an Alexander Kent I hope I haven't read. In this one Bolitho is facing Napoleon's forces in the Mediterranean. (There's an automatic 12 guage shot gun with grenade shells that we figure would serve the GIRI well on the foredeck, kind of like one of the swivel guns they had on the old wooden tall ships.)

I avoided the artist shops. The galleries are incredible and I've spent hours in them and come away with affordable prints when I'd loved to have the truly great originals.

There are so many great places to eat out and terrific coffee shops, the island being famous for it's coffee distribution. It's also famous for its lamb.. I got some lamb at Thrifty's that's Canadian produced but I 'm not sure it's Salt Spring Island Lamb. For some reason I had to drive my motorcycle up to a farm to get some Salt Spring Island lamb one year. I tried it out on my Aussie friend John and he said it was as close as he'd tasted to the 'real' thing here.

Harlan's Chocolate kidnapped me in broad daylight. I didn't have time to avert my eyes and I was inside the store jonesing.

Mostly it was fun walking around the town. I love the boardwalk along the harbor. It's a truly beautiful place and the island people are the most pleasant and sophisticated. It was the festive season, too. The days are getting marginally longer. I came home in the dinghy with night falling in the harbor. The sea otters were playing in the water.

Now it's great to be in the warm.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Porlier Pass

The 2009 Tide and Current tables listed the maximum ebb tide being about an hour before. My overland speed by GPS was 9.5 knots whereas my over water speed was 4.5. The ebb tide was listed as 4.7 at maximum. The whirlpools were fierce. I could have gunned it to 5.5 knots maximum but had the concern about the water cooling leak. I had to watch the depth meter to ensure I was in the channel. I stayed in 60 feet depth at least throughout. The first whirlpool caught the bow and literally yanked it almost 45 degrees starboard. I wrestled control heeling 3o to 40 degrees in the process, then it was easier with only 30 degree variations as different whirlpools tried to siphon the boat down. All the while I could see the shore passing and stupidly tried to get a bit of it on film when two hands on the steering wheel were essential to happy progress. Not the best camera 'holding' form. And very little clip as the last of the whirlpools had their way. Fog had rolled in and night was soon falling so I was really thankful to be through the pass and heading south in the Trinicomalli Channel to Ganges Harbour, Saltspring Island.

Because of the fog and night I was wholly dependent on the radar and the autopilot had failed just outside Porlier so was hand steering, stopping the boat to pee and get snacks and check the number of flashes on the lights against the chart. I had two propane catalytic heaters going in the cockpit and the cat insisted on sitting on my lap while I was hand steering. Eventually the fog cleared intermittently and the stars and moon came out. It was haunting gliding up the channel. I could see the lights of the ferry exiting Active Pass ahead. I almost decided to turn left and anchor in Montague Harbour but thought if I needed a part or something to fix the autopilot I could get it in Ganges Town. In the fog it was a bit of a challenge finding the channel to the town. I was glad for a large fishing boat already at anchor off the wharf. I anchored in next to him.

Finally below and settled in for the night I chow down on hot venison stew from the deer I shot and canned in the Queen Charlotte Islands, not last Christmas, but the Christmas before. Mmm good.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

SV Giri – Strait of Georgia

I woke up at 8 am with Angel the cat under the covers beside me. As usual she was miffed at my expectation she move. The sun was shining in the port hole windows. The cabin was still cozy warm from the diesel heater but I flicked on the propane catalytic heater to get it toasty. Of course I fed Angel her canned food. Then I checked the deck going out to turn off the kerosene storm lantern , it's wick still burning. Despite trying a half dozen other ,some a couple of hundred dollars, nothing has ever worked as well as this cheapest of red, made in China, railway lanterns.

I cooked up some Red River Cereal which I had with evaporated milk and honey along with my Kona coffee made in the stove top expresso machine. Life is good!

I then set to work on the engine. I turned off the engine through hull at night but checked it nonetheless before disconnecting the water hoses to the impeller pump, after taking out the main screws that connected the housing to the engine, removing the belt drive at the same time. Then I unscrewed all the little screws holding the back on to the assembly giving me a view at the rubber impeller rotor. It was in good shape so I didn't mess with it.

I cleaned off the metal surfaces and took out the circular gasket. Everything looked good. Of course the gasket I had with the spare rotors wasn't the right gasket for this Johnson Pump F4B903 made in Sweden. So all I could do is find some Vaseline and clean up the old gasket. Then I carefully seated the screws on the back plate and tightened them alternatively till they were snug before tighting them all that last twist.

I connected the hoses tightening down each of the hose clamps as best I could. I was suspicious of the one worn hose end and would loved to have had a spare hose to replace that. As it was I reconnected the hose and belt drive and tightened the two screws through the housing to the engine. Using a screw driver I pulled down on the housing till I had just the right 2 finger tension on the belt.

Opening the thru hull I went topsides and started the engine. The drip was still there. Less but still there. Mmmmm. Water was coming out the side of the boat in the amount it usually did. I checked the boat water temperature and pressure and that was fine. What to do. Go on or go back. I opted to go on. I'd just keep a closer eye on the water temperature guage and though the engine is rated for 3000 rpm I normally run it at only 2500.

C'est la vie! I flicked on the anchor winch electrical switch , donned a fleece jacket and working Musto life vest and went topsides. The frost on the deck was melted by the sun though there was still some on the dinghy. Standing at the bow I stepped on the in pedal for the winch and watched the anchor chain come in. With a satisfying clank, the anchor came up and seated itself while I went back to the cockpit to put the engine in gear and head out into Howe Sound.

While the bay was protected the outflow winds of Howe Sound had caused the waters there to wear little snowy white caps. The boat healed as we took the turn then the wind was on our stern and we were headed out into Georgia Strait. A beautiful day indeed.

Once out of the Sound and leaving English Bay for Porlier Pass 20 plus miles across Georgia Strait I had 15 knot winds from the northwest so put up the foresail. It added a knot to the speed I was already making with the iron jenny giving me a respectable 5.5 knot speed with only 5 degree heel and nothing crashing about in the cabin. With diesel engine and diesel stove it's warm down below. The cockpit is a bit drafty but the dodger and windshield turn what would otherwise be a chilly journey into a pleasant cruise.

I'm typing this in the cockpit now. All around there's blue sea with a 2 foot chop and blue skies with lots of lo lying cloud. The weather report as for fog banks and there is one far ahead of me obscuring the islands but I figure it will burn off as the day progresses. By evening I should be in Montague Bay or maybe even at dock on Saltspring Island. It depends on the light. I'd rather anchor at night. Docking solo has had it's moments

Wow ! Just had a visit of a half dozen dolphins. They stayed to play riding the bow wave for a few passes and just as quick were on their way heading south. I love dolphins!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

SV Giri at anchor Bowen Island

Angel and I are exhausted. She's on my lap right now and more than ready for bed. I've just had fried pork chops and potatoes and brussel spouts. A late night meal after a very long day on the water.

This morning I awoke to fog. I tried phoning Fisherman's Cove Fuel Dock but it turns out Esso has closed that fuel dock as well. There's none in False Creek now either. I called up Coal Harbour Chevron and they had diesel but not gas.

I weighed anchor and headed back across English Bay under power in the fog, thankful to have my radar. The currents weren't too bad under Lion's Gate but when I got to the fuel dock I was told there'd be a couple hour wait while the boat before me loaded.

Finally, the very big boat left leaving me a little diesel for the Giri. I only filled 17 gallons having much more fuel than I realized. I'll have to look up what the Dickinson Stove takes but it burns a lot less than I remembered.

When I got on my way I couldn't see 50 feet in front of me. The fog was really coming in thick. By the time I out and headed for Lions Gate I couldn't see 20 feet ahead. Talk about soup, this was stew. I never did see the Bridge just the lighthouse at the base. I followed the shore with the radar finally getting out to English Bay.

I'd planned to cross to Nanaimo or Silva Bay but misjudged my distance into English Bay and almost came aground on Spanish Banks. I saw my depth dropping to 20 feet when I put it in reverse only to find myself at 3 feet of water below the keel. I was lost and doubting my compass. I could see a few lights and thought I was looking at west Vancouver. North didn't seem north. I had radar and still couldn't make sense of where I was. For some reason it looked like I was south of Point Atkinson. I was that turned around.

Thank God for GPS. Mine needed new batteries of course. Then it takes forever for the capturing of satellites. Finally, I had a fix and plotted my position on the map surprised at where I was. Was I off! The fog lifted some then and I saw all the big boats mid harbor and made for them. A fellow had called the Coast Guard because he had an electrical failure and lost his GPS. I was feeling a little superior till I got into thick of it myself. I'd travelled a lot of fog on the West Coast and down to San Francisco in the winter but I think I simply trusted the instruments then. In English Bay I was cocky and wasn't plotting my position.

That's when I figured Bowen Island would be just fine. I had to enter another fog bank to get there to and passed Point Atkinson a quarter kilometer off and couldn't see it. At that point it was dark already and I was travelling along completely dependent on GPS and Radar. Thankfully I had Point Atkinson's Lat and Long. I was so turned around and still doubting myself in the fog.

I came out of the fog bank in Howe Sound. It was great to see all the lights around and head for the flashing green light at the entrance to Bowen off Mannion Bay.

Anchor down. And the work began. The diesel heater wasn't working because the inline fuel filter was clogged. I had to empty a whole bin to find another Tempo Universal Fuel filter. Then I took the filter apart , put a new one in, and was gratified to see fresh clean diesel running in the glass filter housing.

I'd had a Coleman Propane catalytic heater in the cockpit. That took the chill off but with the fog I had to keep putting my head outside the dodger in an attempt to see. That was cold. Working on the hose I was glad to have that heater warming the cabin below while I worked.

Then the diesel was pumping through to the stove and I had it lit. The flames were dancing as more heat warmed the cabin. The wet heat of the propane had condensation on all the windows too.

While I was working on the fuel filter I saw water dripping from the engine. I thought I was marvelous taking off the water impeller and tightening the hoses. Unfortunately when I put the whole assembly back together and turned the engine over the water impeller still worked just fine but there was still water leaking down below. I 'd noticed the bilge pump light come on and wondered where the water was coming from or if the bilge pump was sticking open. This leak explained the bilge pump but sthe continued leak suggested the seal had gone on the impeller itself. I've another gasket and may take apart the water impeller in the morning.

I got carried away and took out the non automatic bilge pump. I'd had two automatic bilge pumps and one manual. I replaced the manual one with another automatic one. That required joining hoses, then stripping wires and joining them with the blue connectors and shrink wrapping each of the three. Naturally I wired one wrong and had to rewire that one.

Then it was 9:30 pm before I had dinner. I'd started the day with peanut butter and banana sandwich, had an apple and protein bar waiting at the fuel dock. Now I was thankful for a hot meal. It was plain wholesome looking and made me think of my father who used to love his meat and potatoes.

Now it's sweatshirt weather in the cabin despite the heater chirping merrily away. In the past I've closed the V Berth and just used the salon but it's not cold enough yet for that. I'm glad for the duvet. The cat cuddles up for body heat too.

We had our day of fog and I have only admiration for all the old time sailors. What a nightmare it must have been navigating blind. I needed all the help I could get andd I only was in English Bay. I certainly forgot how disconcerting fog can be. Night and fog isn't particularly pleasant. Travelling in sickly cotton candy.

Now bed. Glorious Bed! Angel is all for that too.

Friday, December 25, 2009

SV GIRI at winter anchor Kits Beach

Christmas Day. Phoning my father and wishing him Merry Christmas. Good to hear his voice. My brother and sister in law and nephews all setting down to turkey out east. I'm glad Dad's already got the 2010 Winter Olympics jacket and really likes it. Adell thanked me for the Scottish shawl but said the guys didn't know what to make of scottish ski n' doo sock knives made from 6000 year old bog wood and adorned with silver celtic crosses. "To defend yourself with against infidels, rogues and such, " I cried.

My Christmas duty done, I got back to the stowing of the boat. Too big a task requiring too much bin sorting and stowage so I bungeed everything down with several cargo bungee cordage I'd bought from motorcycle stores. I cleared my deck by throwing what I didn't need onto Tom's convenient boat and tarped that down. Ready to go, I thought to call the Chevron Fuel Dock. The coast guard kindly picked up my call and got back to me that indeed it was open.

Checking oil, opening the thru hull sea cock for water cooling and then starting the engine to clouds of black diesel smoke. Water spouting out the back. No surprises. I love my Yanmar diesel. It's just been so dependable. Untying the lines tying me to Tom's boat I shoved off with my foot before putting the engine in gear.

Amazing! I was doing it. Actually leaving dock. The most difficult moments. Courage and determination and finally doing it. I was motoring out in Coal Harbour. I love my Dodger and windshield. On deck it was cold with the windchill.

4:10 and the Coal Harbour Chevron Fuel Dock was closed. The Coast Guard told me they had no gas and were putting in a new fuel dock. Supposedly they were still supplying diesel but I suspect they closed early for Christmas day. Who could blame them.

I didn't want to miss the outgoing tide to get under Second Narrows so hoped I had fuel. I've 50 gallons in one tank and 35 gals in another. I'm not sure which one I've been drawing on and am not sure I could switch them before I got air in the system. I'd turned off the diesel heater in anticipation of fueling and didn't fancy bleeding an engine. I usually have more diesel than I think. There's no guage. Boats and motorcycles. We're supposed to keep a record. Zen and the art of sailing.

It was good to be in English Bay but night was falling. Beautiful too see the lights like so many fairies or fireflies all around the harbor, the big ships ablaze with lights. I had my red and green navigation lights on but there were no other boats about. That's a real joy of winter sailing and boating. Going under the Second Narrows I'd slipped on my Survival Suit but out in English Bay I stripped it off, too warm and a little overkill for the calm sea and pleasant night.

Anchoring off Kits was a dream. Only 15 feet depth and two other sailboats already there before me. It was calm and I put out lots of anchor chain. The VHS Channel 3 weather report said at worst 15 knots SE winds overnight and in the morning. I'm protected here on the south shore of English Bay.

Anchor down I got the diesel heater going again. My Siamese cat loves me again.

After that I shut off the engine, closed the through hull for the night, and shut off the autopilot, depth sounder and unplugged things like TV and VCR to save on batteries. Then I found the anchor lantern and was glad to find the kerosene fuel as well.

The Vancouver Police Boat came by while I was hanging it from the shrouds. "Everything okay," they asked really neighbourly.

"Yes, just anchoring for the night. Hoping to get diesel at the fuel dock in the morning." I called back.

"Beautiful night to be out, " he said. "The fuel dock in False Creek is closed. Coal Harbour has diesel and so does Mosquito Creek."

"What about Thunderbird Marina, Fisherman's?"

"They may be open, tomorrow."

"I tried Coal Harbour but I think they closed early for Christmas. I'll try Thunderbird. The worst thing that could happen is I could have to use the sails."

He laughed then putting his police boat in gear, called . "Have a good night."

With the anchor out, the lantern on up top, the cabin cozy and heated I settled down to cooking potatoes and Brussels sprouts to go with the left over Rosemary Chicken I had. Angel the cat was happy to join in the chicken. Santa Cruz Ginger Ale, Black Plums and an Aero chocolate bar completed a fine repast at anchor. Outside the cabin window the lights of Grouse Mountain Ski Hill look like a earthly Orion's Belt.

Reading Seaflower by Julian Stockwin, tales of pressed navy men in English tallships and cutters fighting the French and Pirates in the Caribeean Seas.

A different Christmas Day for sure. Pleasant with accomplishment and jolly to be off the dock and resting at anchor. Sleeping at anchor on the GIRI has to be one of life's rare treats. I am truly blessed with the gift of life this very fine night indeed.

Merry Christmas.

Christmas Eve High Mass

I am glad I fought my demon couch with curses and crosses, struggling terribly to leave it's seductive lethargy, to dress in street clothes and tally forth into the freezing foggy slippery street night of Christmas Eve, my Ford Truck Ranger cold and unforgiving to be woken for task in the pitch darkness.

I am glad I dragged my sorry ass into St. James Anglican Church Vancouver and took a seat at the back, Scrooging. I didn't feel too Christmas Evey. In fact I've been exhausted by the overwhelming task of just getting time off from the relentlessness of work.

Where is there God in this tedium of a world gone mad with shortages and greed. I wasn't a bundle of bouncing baby joy sitting looking at the congregation of idiots who like me had left the safety and isolation of their known homes in the chill of night for this mystery of mysteries.

The St.James High Mass Choir featuring Ruth Greenaway-Robbins, Nubia Martens, Dallas Bittle, Mathew McTavish and Vicki Nelmes with organist Gerald Harder sang and played an amazingly uplifting selection from Bach and Handel ending with the delightfully whimsical English Traditional Sussex Carol. The procession began with pageantry and incense. I felt transported back hundreds of years and thought I could well have been in Old England or even Christian Rome as the traditional service began. This Christmas story was at the very heart of the world I knew and the person I was becoming.

Somewhere in the middle of the rising and falling voices of the Nicene Creed or Lord's Prayer I felt a hint of gratitude. Soon I was even smiling when a friend came in and sat beside me. The sermon by Mother Jessica Schaap was particularly poignant in bringing me out of myself to contemplating the earth and heaven shaking event of the birth of Jesus. She spoke of the waiting of Advent and as a woman likened the world event to a mother's birth experience. There was joy there. Tears and joy.

Then there was communion, the kneeling and connecting. Then I was leaving, almost Catholic in my early departure,unwilling to wait for the closing rites. Rushing back into the night but thankful to have again been a part of the ritual celebration and reminder of the birth of Jesus Christ.

I liked the deep resonance of the great old church bells. I liked the bell ringer heftily hauling on the long white rope. In the distance I'd heard a siren and thought how special it was that all over the world churches were ringing bells at midnight and that sirens were drowned out by the celebration of Christ's birth.

Merry Christmas. Peace on Earth. Good will to All Men.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

District 9

A patient whose opinion on movies I appreciate recommended this Science Fiction thriller movie to me last night. "I didn't know what it was going to be like from the beginning but then it turned out to be an incredible movie I can't stop thinking about." He told me. So I picked it up last night at BlockBusters Video and sat back to a distinctly different movie in the Science Fiction genre. This was no Star Wars or Armageddon but rather a very down to earth everyday people portrayal of a very different kind of alien invasion. What it spoke to in human terms was moving and profound. Metaphors galore in the great tradition of science fiction from masters like Heinlein. Yes it was a romp with high tech and exciting guns and soldiers and all that but the personal level as something very much more.

Blind Side

A truly wonderful movie, based on the book Blind Side, Evolution of a Game, by Michael Lewis, the true inspirational story of Michael Oher, an American pro football player. Black (and Big) Michael Oher from the projects was adopted by Republican and White Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy at the Briarcrest Christian School. Michael's loving mother was a crack addict and unable to care for him. The Tuohy's adopted him after their little genius son befriended him and Leigh Anne learned he was living on the streets. What follows is an amazing journey. Quinton Aaron plays Michael and does a truly amazing job of depicting the transformation of a traumatized child who was thought mentally retarded to a bright intuitive college man. Kathy Bates is unforgettable as the Democrat tutor. Sean, the adoptive father, is sensitively played by Tim McGraw.

Sandra Bullock, playing adoptive mother Leigh Anne Tuohy, is the piece de resistance. A true delight in comic and romance movies, she is utterly extraordinary in this deep and moving role. I have always loved Sandra Bullock but thought her not quite in the league of Meryl Streeps whose breadth and depth of portrayal as an actress I've truly admired. As Leigh Annne Tuohy, though, Sandra Bullock is that incredible. She will forever be remembered as one of the truly great female actresses of our day and deserves an Oscar for this performance.

Director and Screenwriter John Lee Hancock has brought the best out in his amazing crew and this remarkably timely story. In the hands of any lesser director the sheer transformational and spiritually profound nature of this story could have been lost in exciting politics and sentimentally touching tale. Given his artist's touch he's brought all the pieces together in the perfect balance that touches the very heart of this uniquely American masterpiece.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Colin Waring

Colin Waring was my friend. Together we attended Strathcona Men's AA and Christ Church Cathedral. I loved his smile. I loved his stories of childhood in India. We both had lived in England and Toronto and shared reminiscences. He loved his family and spoke so fondly of them. I was priviledged to meet his remarkable sister.
When a staff person left my office without notice, I asked Colin if he'd help phone people to remind them of appointments. He was always more than willing to help. When he came dressed impeccably as ever, he not only phoned patients once but several times. I learned this from the pleasantly pleased patients who all told me how much they enjoyed talking with Colin, on the phone and at the office.. I told Colin however he needn't more than once. He replied, " Sometimes these days, I like to be reminded more often myself " The patients loved him. He brought a spirit of hope and good will whereever he went. I am thankful to have known such a good friend. I'll truly miss his smiles and laughter.
Dean Peter Elliot and Dr. Ellen Clark-King presided over the ceremony. Asked for reflections, one after another, those there spoke highly of their time together with Colin. All talked of his inspiration and gratitude. Rupert Lang, Organist and Director of Music, with Members of the Cathedral Choir sang. It was so fitting given how much Colin loved Symphony and so appreciated the Cathedral choral music.


It's a beautiful morning and it's good to be alive. I 've risen and made times for prayer and meditation. Sitting quietly listening for 'the wee small voice', giving the cares of the day to God, feeling the peace suffuse one's being, as the breath goes slowly calmly in and out and the thoughts return over and over again to God. Of course after a while the cat had the idea that the human sitting doing 'nothing' could well be utilized as a lap to lie on and with sufficient distracting purring and kneeding with claws out perhaps would chuck her chin.

Waiting for coffee I did the dishes that had gathered in the sink the last couple of days. As usual no government official arrived to give me a medal for the truly heroic. Throwing oneself on grenades, running into burning buildings, saving lives with intricate neurosurgery all begins with getting out of bed and making coffee and doing the dishes. This is where the Prime Minister should have his ministers handing out awards. Increasingly fewer Canadians are getting out of bed in the morning. The overwhelming task of facing the day and getting oneself presentable for going outside is too little appreciated.

With an aging population and expandable maternity clothes waists on jogging suits never used for anything but lounging attention should be given to those who get up and get out. That's the work that should be subsidized even before the 'so called' 'billable work' beginnings. I'm proud to say that despite it being Saturday I've already shaved. Somewhere the Hallelujah choir is singing in my mind.

That's the matter of perspective. H.A.L.T. is an acronym for Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired. It's a spot check for one's emotional state. It's critical in recovery. The drunk or druggie has literally broken their emotional discriminator. It's been co-opted by the drug of choice reducing the emotional landscape of the addict or alcoholic to "on" or "off". It's a binary code world that they emotionally live in. If they're "on", it means they have sufficient level of their drug of choice in their system to stop the 'craving'.

Drug addiction is not about getting 'high' for the addict or alcoholic. It's about avoiding pain. The "off" is an experience of negativity. That 'negative' experience is the early on set of craving. The length of time for craving to affect a person after the discontinuance of a drug of abuse is days, to weeks to months. Further 'trigger's' such as paraphernalia or the place where one used can cause a person to "jones", that is feel, the painful physiological need to use, almost like seeing a picture of a deceased friend can cause one to momentarily feel a tightness in the chest or a knot in the stomach.

While recovery is a process of healing physiologically it's like losing an lover. It pulls one back for at least a year. The addict though thinks that they're 'fine' in days, or weeks but the relapse rate due to cravings and 'craving equivalents' (negative feelings of ennui, boredom, anxiety, depression) is anywhere from 70 to 90% in the untreated. Even with the fullest best treatment strategies, relapse rates are not uncommonly 20 to 30% in the first year. Early AA ran a recovery rate of 75% and many treatment programs today can match that while the gold standard, Navy pilot program for alcoholism, ran an 80% success rate. The results for recovery on the first try are reduced significantly by the number of substances involved, by the presence or lack of support network (a non using, clean and sober environment of refuge such as the fellowship or 12 step programs or as commonly religious and spiritual communities), good health and work and meaningful relationships.

Because the 12 step programs are wholly voluntary and the tendency of the addict or alcoholic is to blame people even for their 'recovery' it's been a long standing policy to tell anyone 'belly aching' or not participating fully in recovery and claiming that their 'recurrent relapses' are the 'fault' of the therapy, that old timers said 'you'll get it when you reach your bottom'. The point was that a 'bottom' was whereeveer 'you had had enough misery' and wanted a 'way out" . "A Way Out", was one of the first names considered for the AA program. It never claimed to be the only way. However it did recognize that the alcoholic is primarily a 'critic' and negative. That's the "disease speaking". Those wanting instant gratification and a 'new drug' aren't too happy with the idea of 'patience' and serving others to distract yourself from focusing on your own 'misery'.

H.A.L.T. was the first aconym used to remind a person in recovery that their negative feelings weren't an indication that they needed a drug but rather that their emotions which had been numbed by constant Hiroshima like drug explosions in their pleasure centre was now coming back on line and asking for more than binary de-coding. Feeling 'off' doesn't need to mean "I need a fix". If one jumps to that conclusion then one misses the relearning and retraining of the link between emotions and mind and body. It's been severed by the addiction and now like a leg that's gone asleep it's waking up. So ask yourself if you're feeling poorly or negative, am I hungry, angry, lonely, or tired. So rather than take a drink, do a drug or act out an addiction, maybe have a snack, take a rest, call a friend or write down what it is that may be upsetting you.

It seems simple but it's a gargantuan learning task for a person in recovery. Those with process addictions for food, sex, gambling, shopping also learn to use H.A.L.T. as a first step to counteracting the craving or 'craving equivalents'. The big book of alcoholics anonymous personified alcohol as John Barleycorn and called him "cunning, baffling and powerful'. Addiction is very much this. Daily people in early recovery tell me with great pride that they don't have any 'craving' but they feel 'restless, irritable, or discontent". The so-called "R.I.D's" (restless, irritable and discontent) are 'craving". A drink or a fix are literally guaranteed to 'cure' those feelings. The trouble is that people want antidepressants or other medications or counseling or routine life to give them the 'buzz', or the 'high', or the 'fix'. The programs require honesty and the first step is the admission of addiction.

It's accepting that quite frankly, "I broke my brain…..I trashed my central processing unit….my main computer is fried by misuse". Step two of the 12 step program quite simply says, "you're insane". Insaniety is self destruction and addiction is the enthrallment with death. It's playing with death and focusing on the 'pleasure' a sex addict gets from strangulation and masturbation, the high of self inflicted 'near death' experiences. It's the alcoholic or addict who uses till they 'pass out' or 'get legless' or are 'incapacitated' so don't know with any certainty if they will 'survive'. They throw their fate to the wind and retreating to the great maternal 'teat' of the universe ask to suck and be rescued from themselves. Addiction is 'slow suicide'. It's impairment. And because of the denial and the addicted experience the realization that the 'addiction' which 'feels good' is the culprit in the negatives of one's life (the country and western song quality of losing jobs, ideals, dreams, relationships) is this 'first love" (idolatry – addiction is a religion and the object of worship is the addiction or idol).

In recovery we simply don't 'trust' ourselves and our first thoughts. We recognize that our 'best thinking' got us to this place of addiction. We become humble and 'teachable' and don't tell those who have kicked their addictions or know the disease of addiction that we're 'terminally unique', that might 'work' with others but 'wouldn't work' with me. It's a disease. There are 'evidence based' treatments for addiction. If you take them. The corner stone of therapy is to get 'out of oneself'. Isolation or participating with 'slippery persons, places or things" is the precursor of relapse.

Up to a year after marijuania or benzodiazpepine abuse people will commonly complain of sleep disturbance and disturbed mood. Almost everyone has trouble with sleep disturbance for months after stopping drugs or alcohol. Mood swings are the norm in the first year or two of recovery. Most people in early addiction if they see a general psychiatrist without specialized training in addiction will immediately diagnose them as "Bipolar II". This is lesser variant of the mood swings of manic depression, where the mania is described as 'irritability' and the depression has a 'self pitying' quality. Go figure.

The process of recovery is no different from the physiotherapy that a person whose been in an accident and has to have physiotherapy to relearn the ability to walk.

I work with brain injury and addiction. I have seen hundreds of 'mechanical' brain injuries and 'thousands' of people recovering from addiction and frankly its empirically overwhelmingly obvious that addiction is a form of 'chemical' brain injury. That's what the functional MRI's and PET scan research is showing. The emotions of an addict have to be 'retrained'. The emotional centre of the amygdale is impaired. The executive functioning of the area of human judgement and planning in the forebrain is literally mis firing for three months after stopping addictions. The brain of the addict has been coopted by the addiction. It's like a parasite or virus that takes a person hostage and uses them as host to get their needs met, more of whatever it is that the addiction is.

The good news is recovery works. For those accepting and following the treatment of recovery, attending groups, doing the Steps, getting outside help, seeing doctors, staying away from 'slippery person's places and things', getting a new spiritual focus in life, having a really healthy respect if not downright fear of the previous source of addiction, and recognizing that the process of recovery is not days or weeks but years. At 5 years people are out of the woods. After that for most people in recovery less than 50 % will relapse and those that do are least likely to return to their previous levels of difficulty. After 5 years of abstinence the 'harm reduction' and 'controlled' approaches show some success for a distinct minority suggesting that the disease is like other diseases, like cancer, which is said to be 'cured' after 5 years recovery. In these cases the 'risk' remains high but maintaining a high degree of awareness can counteract the potential damage. Commonly because of denial people delay getting help for addiction and other diseases too but once they've had treatment successfully they can be aware of the recurrence and risk.

In AA they say the 'door swings both ways' and many people who relapse return to recovery in days or weeks realizing that the downhill spiral has begun and accepting readily that this is the addiction and not some projection onto the outside world that is the hallmark of the negativity of untreated addiction. The same occurs with recurrence of cancer. People who've had breast or skin cancer see the lump and get help immediately and have a high success for cure despite this being a 'recurrence'. The same occurs with addiction. The 'trick' is to get back into recovery as quickly as possible.

"H.A.LT." (hungry, angry, lonely, tired) Returning to the addiction will cure the "R.I.D's" (restless, irritable and discontent) but books like AA's "Living Sober" give a whole slew of non chemical means to address this condition of human existence. Seligman's site "Authentic Happiness" is a major psychological resource. Maslow's studies on "hierarchy of needs' helps one understand what it really takes to 'feel good'. Montaigne and Cicero , the great philosophers, along with many others discussed "happiness". The major religions have as their principle area of interest "overcoming fear" and "finding joy". The Bible is about first a nations search for enlightment and then individuals search for the source of power. Addictions are a dead end or at best a detour. Life is where the answers lie, good living.

Mental Health is the abilility to love work and play. Addiction is a lousy lover, a dead end and ultimately horrible job and eventually there is simply no play in Addiction. Hang out with people who don't have addictions or at least those who have balance and moderation in their life and you're learn what it really is to 'love' and what the joy and prayer of 'work' are and for sure play again as an adult. Laughter is the hall mark of recovery.

Psychiatrists have long known that humor, ascetiscism and altruism are hallmarks of maturity and wisdom. The Bible teaches 'prayer and fasting'. The beauty of addiction is that recovery is 'fasting' and yet for a 'sacrifice' to be really effective it supposedly must be something really 'desired'. The blind man who loses his sight develops amazing hearing and feelings of touch. Similiarly the addict who foregoes the addiction has the world as an "oyster". Everything else can be experienced even more fully.

As one friend said, if "you're going 180 miles another in the wrong direction, all God has to do is turn you around and you're going 180 miles an hour' in the right direction. That's probably while Jung laughed saying alcoholics were great spiritual seekers but like C.S. Lewis later said they looked for the architect in the wall. They were great seekers but sought the wrong thing or went in the wrong direction.

Recovery is an up elevator that gets faster every minutes, first as you 'retrace' your steps finding your way out of the dark passage detour and then you get on the 'happy road of destiny' taking the mainstream path of recovery. It's truly exciting. It's a whole new adventure. Being "rocketed into the 4th dimension'.!!!

Friday, December 18, 2009


Friday evening. It's the end of a long day. The government cuts to mental health are showing in the office already. People who once would have seen a counsellor or service are now going to their family physicians and specialists. The low cost alternatives have been cut so that emergency rooms and private offices are faced with greater line ups. I could be book years in advance as others are but am running as much of an emergency department as so many other specialists. There's just no resources. The economics of the marginalized is that they can't afford psychotherapy. They can't afford to be in all that is now privatized and what was once keeping them out of the emergencies, doctors and specialists offices.
There's no demand by doctors and nurses for this crisis. The waitlists are attrocious. And of course, as the research on these types of waitlists show, mostly the mentally ill and those with addiction are the losers. So now we hear talk of Euthanasia.
Eugenics on the horizon as private security forces increase to army sizes. It's frightening but we must have faith. There will be hope. Maybe after the parties die down the short term cost savings will face the long term deficits. Beds opening in asylums again. Streets being cleared after Picton Trials and whatever else. There must be some serious thought being given to this somewhere. People like me and too many others are little boys with fingers in a collapsing damn asking how much longer and when will we be paid for this. Cherry picking everywhere and the people coming through the door older, poorer, sicker and some more "beautiful people with more beautiful problems". The rewards of better life and longer life brought on by success create their own new set of challenges.
Where once a young patient was on no other medication today the patient comes in with multiple medications and disabilities. It's an aging population. We are living longer. Be thankful. Its Friday and I know Monday I'll be fresh again to face the week of sadness, pain and anxiety. But Fridays I always feel that someone isn't listening to the cries in the streets.
Or if they are like me they have no miracles and must ask God the meaning of suffering. Why do we have the means to imagine peace but can't seem to get people to live it? How come we can imagine paradise but not find it? Or worse envision health and near immortality but struggle with depression and anxiety.
It's Friday. I'm thankful for the work. But were there cure today I'd take another job for sure. I pray for wellness and joy for all who now struggle day to day in these tough uncaring time. And I pray that I have done good, brought light in darkness, reduced the suffering and lessened the fear. Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. I do hope I am still convincing. Live. Life. Live life and prosper.
TGIF, thank God it's Friday. Tomorrow is another day. Hooray.

Christmas Memories

In the rush of work and bustle of life I must make time to pull out the good memories of times past. It seems so often the bad memories come uninvited whereas the good memories, polite and refined wait their turn.
In my childhood Christmas everyone is happy. It was that sort of special day. Mom and Dad in pyjamas. The kids around the tree. A dog barking or doing circles and slipping on the hard wood floor as Dad teased him with dog biscuits. The present opening was what I was excited by at first. Santa Clause was my Christmas then.
Later it was the family and dog and all of us sitting about the tree eating the mandarin oranges and opening presents. I remember a smiling Mom folding wrapping paper up for use another year as my brother and I couldn't rip the paper open fast enough. Dad was such a prankster and jokester at Christmas time. He was then the way he was on summer vacations and hunting weekends not the work week Dad so serious and tired and easily angered watching the latest Cold War news each night.
The best part was when Aunt Sally came. She was so full of cheer. Elegant from Toronto, dressed in the latest fashion. Mom and her sister and friends happy together and Dad teased relentlessness then. And special treats for us kids.
The turkey dinner was always fun with delicious mashed potatoes and gravy. And grace. Aunt Sally and Mom insisted on Grace. Dad was all for digging in. The dog was ready for under the table treats.
Christmas was such a happy occasion in my childhood.
I don't remember the consumerism yet presents were so important. There was a special toy that was given but most of the gifts were things we actually needed but were saved to put wrapped in paper and put under the tree. Socks and pyjamas. Always flannel pyjamas, scarves. The fun was flashing through those 'clothing' gifts to get to the 'toy'. And now I don't remember what those toys were. They were so important then.
Christmas was going to church too. My fondest memories are when I was a child and performed in the nativity scenes. As children we went downstairs during the services for Sunday School but would come up to perform for our parents and join in the Christmas carole singing enjoying the warmth and togetherness of being with Mom and Dad and all the other families. Christmas in church was a special family time. And sometimes we'd have a great turkey dinner in the church basement with alot of the congregation. Mom always helped in the kitchen then.
Later when I was older it was a more serious affair. I was more reserved and so were my brother and parents. A more sedate but happy time. The holidays were then more about toboganning and getting together with friends later in the day. Skating on the river. Cross country skiing.
Then the girlfriends and later wives joined in. The family grew bigger. And Christmas dinners doubled as we'd go to one family for Christmas Eve dinner and the other for Christmas day dinner. A lot of feasting. Alot more adult conversations. The parents always asking about school or work.
Then my nephews came. Squalling babies with ever attentive mother and father.
And then we were apart. I moved south and west and my brother and his family moved west then east. Christmas was never so big again. I'd be with Mom and Dad or later with my brother and his family. Or I'd be with a wife and then I'd be alone.
More I'd spend time in church. More I'd find myself in a wooden pew praying. The parties would go on. There'd be shrimp and lobster and women would dress with flair and fashion. The hometown background had changed to exotic places around the world. But the church stayed the same.
Birth of Christ. What does that mean? What am I supposed to be doing with my life? What is the meaning of my life? Help me God. Guide me. Be with me. Show me the way. Come into my life and lead me.
Jesus mean's "God within" and Christ means "God will come again". There's the historical Jesus and Christ transcendent. There's Jesus as the advocate and reconciler. There's God of Creation and God my friend.
The feeling of Christmas remains gifts and searching for gifts. But more it's the feeling I have in prayer. More it's the quiet time in a church. More it's the space in the evening or morning when I look at nature and whisper thanks. More I'm on a sailboat in the wonders of a sunrise or sunset, awed. Sometimes I'm standing on a snowy hill looking out over a beautiful valley of green pine trees and blue waters.
Then I'm in the laughter of friends and family, thankful. It's a time of celebration. The coming of the light. The birth of Christ. It's a feeling of hope and the sense of the presence of God within, saying 'it's okay, it's going to be okay."

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Strathcona Men’s AA Christmas Party

Strathcona Men's AA in Vancouver began 54 years ago. There are those there who are sober over 3 decades and others sober only days or weeks. Over the years so many men have come there and begun their journey of sobriety or stayed to help others on the path of recovery.

Every year at Christmas the men get together, raise money and form crews to set up, cook and clean up. It's the only night of the year that women are invited. Wives and daughters appear. Tonight there was even a fiancée. It's the night when ladies of AA are also invited and instead of men alone standing at the podium sharing their 'experience, strength and hope', women are called upon to share as well and do.

A lot of gratitude is expressed to AA in general and Strathcona Men's in particular. Surprising as much to ourselves, the men clean up pretty good for a bunch of 'drunks', behaving as gentlemen in the company of these gentle women who are so refined and so very elegant.

It's a joyful night. When the meeting concludes with a recital of the traditions, the feast begins. Ham, Roast Beef,Turkey, salads, vegetables, pumpkin pie, pecan pie and much much more. We all eat this festive fare and drink coffee in a church basement. A lot of reminiscences are about the Christmas times when drinking occurred. Typically there's a lot of laughter. Shame in addiction. Dignity in recovery. We are not alone.

It's so much better to be sober and present for this sacred time of year. Thanks to AA and thanks to Strathcona Men's Vancouver.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

British Columbia Wild Salmon

I've caught these often on the hook trolling in the ocean. Barkley Sound and off Campbell River were favourite fishing trips. However, if you don't want to use a hook, you can, as I did, go to the Lonsdale Quay Market. The Salmon Shop is located there.
These delightful people gave me a marvellous fillet of fresh red salmon.

Around the corner at Cobs bread I picked up utterly marvellous fresh baked dinner buns. At Kim's Farm Market I found superb vegetables, lemons and limes and those little red potatoes. I had butter and sour cream and salt and pepper at home.

In the sink I found a frying pan I'd washed. I held it up to the light to make sure it was clean. I find that what I think is clean when I'm doing dishes should be inspected again before actually using them to eat from. Similiarly I inspected the knives and fork and plate.

The Salmon came with a "skin" on one side. I put a gollop of butter in the pan, heated that up till it was melting and then swished this around the bottom of the pan. I put the salmon skin down in the pan. On the top side I sprinkled salt and pepper. Then I put a lid on that and left it for a while checking to see when the red meat began to change colour and the fish began to open up at the seams indicating it was ready.

I had the potatoes boiling along side and these could take a fork through the centre easily , falling apart when I scooped them with a holy spoon onto the plate. Then I put the sour cream and a gollop of butter on top of the potatoes and put the wild salmon on the plate with a spatula. I spilled the butter from the pan onto the salmon. I forgot to squeeze lemon on the fish.

The cat who won't eat salmon from the can insisted on having some of this salmon and at at least as thumb end of salmon. Meanwhile I was feeling like a proverbial grizzly bear eating the salmon with great glee. The fresh potatoes were good too. Normally I'd cook rice but I had the little potatoes and the rice pot with it's intrinsic timer is stowed. The pot for boiling potatoes lives on the stove with the frying pan.

I had a great meal. The cat had a great meal. I love Lonsdale Market. I love BC Wild Salmon. It's only better if you catch it yourself. Now there's a thousand recipes , I especially like using dill, but really when it's fresh as this was and it's the end of 10 hour day at the office, well, nothing is quicker and better and healthy as a meal that takes 20 minutes to prepare and lingers in ones memory for a day after.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

CutThroat Island

Geena Davis starring as Pirate Captain Morgan of the Morning Star is utterly spectacular in this all round great Cutthroat Island treasurehunt romp. Tallships, cutlass, daggers and black powder guns, cannon fights at sea, horse and carriage chases. Erroll Flynn would give thumbs up to Geena. Mathew Modine plays the supporting lead as one rescues the other in betrayal and tryst, betrayal and tryst. The cover describes it aptly as an "action packed adventure….swashbuckling saga of ruthless pirates, buried treasure and bloodthirsty betrayal." The photography is amazing. I loved every minute of it. A sailor's movie totally but I suspect everyone would enjoy it just for the delight of Geena's Modine melting smile and her high flying stunts. Great movie! Great entertainment!

Venison Stew

Venison Stew

I had about a pound of venison from the deer I shot and butchered myself this fall. It was chunks of meat so I cubed it cutting away as much of the white tendon and grisel as was easy. I think it mostly came from a foreleg with some shoulder.


Venison – about a pound thawed and cubed

Onions – 2 large white

Garlic – one head, about 8 peeled cloves, crushed and cut up fine

Ginger – about a thumb size chopped really small

Peppers - 1 red , take out the inside with seeds and chop up the red outside

1 green jalapeena – take out inside with seeds and chop up outside

Mushrooms – a cup and a half of fresh white ones

Green onions – the long ones with little white head and green part, about 6 chopped

Tomatoes – 2 fresh ones diced

Potato and carrot water – 1/8 cup

Soy Sauce – 3 tbsp (glug it on a bit)

Can of green peas - 1

Can of plain corn - 1

Can of tomato puree -1

I ate the carrot I'd planned to include in this late last night.

Spices -1/4 to ½ tsp salt

Lots of pepper, a couple of tsp's at least

Best from the pepper corn grinder

2 tbsp of oregano crushed

2 tbsp of basil crushed

2 tbsp of rosemary – the seed type, not crushed

3 bay leaf

1 tbsp of honey

2 tbsp of butter

Lime – one lime cut in half and both sides squeezed into the pot.

I'm really guessing here about the amounts because I just glug, shake and dump mostly with the spices.

I poured some almond oil to cover the base of the pan. I chopped up a couple of large peeled white onions and a whole head of garlic. I cut up the ginger and added this to the pot. Then I chopped up the venison and threw away any grisel while the onion and garlic and ginger sizzled. I added the meat then to the pot stirring it all with a stainless steel ladle. I added the salt and pepper and bay leaf here.

I cleaned my chopping board after the meat.

Then I chopped up the peppers and added those to the pot.

I chopped up the mushrooms and added those. Then I diced the tomatoes and added them.

I added the soya sauce here and then poured in the oregano, basil, rosemary here.

I then added the cans of drained peas, the undrained corn and the tomato puree. I had left over potato and carrot water from last night so I used that to swish out the tomato purre can.

I then added the chunk of butter and the honey.

I slow cooked low it, just bubbling, on my propane gas Force 10 stove in my sailboat. I just tasted it. I added another half teaspoon of salt and then ground on more pepper. I usually grind more pepper and the other Italian grinder I have just before I serve it. I'm going to serve it now. It's been cooking about the time it took me to write this. It tasted too good. The broth was scrumptious but a piece of venison was 'to die for'. Mmmmm. I'll have it with some fresh 12 grain bread I just picked up yesterday at Choices. After I'll probably have a chocolate bar or yoghurt but if I'm really enthusiastic I'll make some jasmine tea.

I'll put the remainder in plastic containers and store in the fridge freezer.I'll probably get at least three meals out of this one pot. It's so unbelievably nutritious and nearly medicinal in a native Canadian way that I'll probably get to throw into my diet this week a guilt free Church or Kentucky Fried Chicken or Macdonald's or A&W Burger and fries.

In Europe only the Lords hunted so only the Lords and Ladies ate venison. The great hind. I've shot some 30 or 40 deer and a half dozen moose or more, some bear and countless birds. I used to have cook for dozens at a time. Most of the thousand pounds of meat was shared with friends, native, locals and even those who'd never had anything except 'prepared' food. Given the effort that goes into hunting, weeks off work, days of hiking back mountains, riding back woods, sitting in rain and cold, hauling hundreds of pounds of game out often at night, sometimes alone, sometimes with a friend or two, we always say that wild game costs a thousand dollars an ounce. People often say , "can i have some of your moose' or whatever and hunters and fishermen always want to reply ,'sure if you give me your latest computer or cell phone for free."

It was easier when I lived in the country. My friend who shoots a moose each year and has shot some thirty or so, says "you're doing pretty good for a city boy". My country friends say they shoot the deer in their backyards whereas I have to drive a few hours just to get out to where I hunt, usually past Princeton or up by 100 mile House way. People get deer closer to Vancouver but I enjoy the solitude and country further out. Pulling a trigger is the hard and sad part. That's when the work of getting the game home begins.

Here we're blessed and priviledged to still have wilderness. The British Columbia wildlife authorities 'manage' the stock and hunters and fishermen are the principal contributors to the ecology of the Canadian Wildlife. A lot of the 'advocacy' groups get the media attention and make a show for the drama of it but hunters and fishermen with the prices of their licenses and their conservation policies have maintained and managed the vast wilderness of BC. I remember my dad getting us kids to help manage a marsh one year with Duck's Unlimitted. It's amazing stewardship. The pay off is in the incredible feasts. Thank God. Time for Grace and eating venison stew. Mmmmmm good!

Saturday, December 12, 2009


"Shipshape' is a term we use for orderly, tidy, clean, stowed. It's a process to make a boat that. I' ve had another day of cleaning and stowing and getting rid of excess. Another load of stuff 'trundled' ashore. It's now things like the VCR. I'm just not going to use it and it takes up too much room. The DVD player is more compact. I loved the wock but the one large stainless steal frying pan is sufficient. The V Berth is really a whole lot better organized. Those plastic clothes almost freezer bag things that you can suck the air out of really work. Some clothes I want for special occasions, a couple of good sweaters, really reduce bulk in those contraptions I bought for next to nothing at London Drugs.

I actually cleaned the head. Down on my hands and knees spraying with Mr Clean and wiping. I did the same in the Galley. I took the dustbuster to the floor but actually got down on my knees with the oil soap and cleaned most of it. Normally I'd do this weekly but with the move and getting the stowage and heat and fixing bilge pumps the day to day tasks got back burnered. What I really need is a week at sea. Nothing like cruising to get the boat 'shipshape'.

The hoses for water froze so I had to haul water for the tank. Maybe tomorrow at noon it will be warm enough to get more water on board. My 50 gal tank seemed to do me well for a week with quick showers.

I made a great venison ratatouille last night and had the left over this afternoon. Actually fried up eggs on toast for breakfast with coffee. It's getting downright civilized as the boat gets ready to do some time in the islands. I look around and it's mostly superficial clutter that could be easily stowed getting away. It's a good rule to have a sailboat an hour away from taking off at any time. I'm almost there. Coastal cruising for sure. An offshore expedition might take a few days at least to be ready. Not that I've any plans for anything more than Nanaimo, Saltspring, Texada or Victoria. It's just a 'feeling' that goes with having an offshore sailing vessel. It's living the dream. Knowing you have the means to go any where in the world under your own power. And being ready for it. Having a shipshape boat is a good feeling.

That said, there's a whole other layer of having the bins organized. I'm looking at a mess of books. They're in the cupboard but still a mess. That's the sort of thing that gets tidied up cruising. I did find the ocean fishing tackle and got the rods and reels sorted too. Fishing will be fun too.

Even had the radio playing but couldn't find CBC and the rock and roll channels were just too 'noisy' with all the chatter. I'll be glad when I get a marine electrician here to sort out the little electrical wiring issues of what'sdirect and what goes through the inverter. I'll be glad then to have the stereo hooked up. I love listening to classical music on the boat at rest. When it's running nothing like bagpipe music of the Simon Frazer Band to match the momentum.

Enjoying the quiet of the boat now.. Angel doesn't 'sleep in'. She wants to be fed at 7 am every day and lets me know that regardless. It's a struggle to sleep in with her 'cat terrorism'. Still, sleeping in wouldn't be such a joy were it not for the pleasure of work and the priviledge of work, it's routine and regularity. Weekend enjoyment is greatest for the contrast.

I think the adage holds, if you want to get something done , give it to a busy man. Getting this boat shipshape has really progressed possibly because I have so little time. Jobs tend to fill the time available. The progress on the 'great Canadian novel' faltered however. And I've not got up skiing yet.

That's the trouble with this glorious city of Vancouver and British Columbia in general. There's just too much possible to do and too little time. Walking on the beaches, Stanly Park, the Aquarium, getting out to the swimming pool, hiking, going up to Bloedel Conservatory, getting to the gardens all lit up for Christmas.

Focussing on boating I have to forego all the other great things this city and province has to offer. I'm thankful for getting my boat shipshape. It's a good feeling. I don't want to think about climbing the mast and fixing the weater vane and wind indicator though.

The Prayer of Jabez

"Oh, that you would wonderfully bless me and help me in my work;

Please be with me in all that I do and keep me from all evil and disaster."

And God granted him his request.

I Chronicles 4 :10


"Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain."

And God granted his request.

1 Chronicles 4:10

The first thing to note in reading the Prayer of Jabez is that it has a context. Earlier the Bible says "Jabez was more honourable than his brothers."

Likely Hitler said a similar prayer and yet his wasn't answered. The Bible further says that the sins of fathers will pass to the sins of their children. Therefore even when it appears briefly that the dishonorable are succeeding it comes at a price. We blandly accept the 'genetics' of the physical world but balk at accepting 'genetics' in the spiritual world. Further if we don't believe in an afterlife, it doesn't mean necessarily that we won't encounter one.

That said, the Bible is a Holy book and reading it one is always encouraged to ask for God's guidance. Praying to God before reading it, asking to see what it is you need to see today is what people do with Holy books. The sacred isn't something that is 'taken' but rather something that is 'given'. Grace is the gift of God.

That said, note the two interpretations. I expect that both interpreters asked for guidance and were given it when they translated this scripture. Further the words and meanings of history are rarely what we see in them today. Words and meanings change though messages stay the same.

The Prayer of Jabez says that honorable men can ask for help for themselves and it will be granted. Elsewhere we are encouraged to pray for others and be 'other centered'. In asking for God's hand in our lives, His guidance and his protection and success in honorable endeavours is what Jabez does.

Most importantly the Bible says it works. And the majority of those uneducated and educated believe in the power of prayer.

I'm praying for you and me today. But let's face it, if I don't know you I'll probably just generally 'hallmark' card prayer you. If you're closer to me I'll put you at the top of my prayer list. And given that I'm not much but I sure think of myself a lot I'll be praying mostly for myself. That's the nature of being a 'sinner'. Saint's are only advanced sinners. The opposite of sinner is God. I'm not there yet. Sainthood is not even on the horizon because like Jabez I want help with work, expanded territory, and less pain and protection from evil. Sainthood seems to come with more work, more pain and tends to attract evil. Maybe the darkness is more apparent nearest the light.

Wes Hazlitt says that, 'it's always darkest near the dawn so hang on."

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Anne Smith's Journal

Anne Smith's Journal 1933-1939 A.A.'s Principles of Success by Dick B. Paradise Research Publications Inc. Kihei, HI, 1992, 1994, 1998 - Anne Ripley Smith, Wife of AA co-founder, Dr. Bob, a 'founder" of A.A. and the "Mother of A.A." said "An understanding of the Cross and its meaning for life is absolutely essential. The best popular interpretation I know is, "If I be Lifted Up", Shoemaker. It is a group of lenten sermons. Christ ought to be as real to us as our nearest and best friend."

"One should by all means read at least one book on the life of Christ a year for a while. More would be better."

"A maximum experience of Jesus Christ leads to a radical change in personal life, bringing about a selfless relationship to people about one, which is a challenge to those we come in contact with."

"A general experience of God is the first essential, the beginning. We can't give away what we haven't got. We must have a genuine contact with God in our present experience. No an experience of the past, but an experience in the present - actual, genuine. When we have that witnessing to it is natural, just as we want to share a beautiful sunset. We must be in such close touch with God that the whole sharing is guided. The person with a genuine experience of God and with no technique will make fewer mistakes than one with lots of technique and no sense of God."

Anne Smith's Journal is a great spiritual text and Dick B. has written a profoundly inspiring book that speaks to the essence of AA and explains the 75% success rate for recovery which AA had from the early years.


Advent is the time in the church calendar before Christmas. It's the beginning of the great advent-ure. URE in this instance might mean "You are Energy" rather than URM – "you are mass". Einstein's equation E=MC2 explains the relationship of energy and mass as mass being "frozen energy" in essence. Jesus, God personified, came to demonstrate this all long before the word "spirit' became "energy".

Of course, given our nature, we killed God. We're fear based creatures who kill and preferably eat anything that moves and is strange to others. No wonder Jesus's principle message was "Do not be afraid". It was in his best interest to calm the human heart. Kids always put 'foreign objects' to their mouths. "We're biters".

The Sodom and Gomorrah story is that Angels came to earth and earthlings didn't treat them very well either. In fact they wanted to anal rape them. "Hey guys, look, there's some new guys in town. Let's go rape them." We are humans. Original sin speaks to our 'tendency' to screw things, and screw things over, as our "first idea'. We're not as adults responsible for our 'first idea' but for our 'second thoughts and our actions".

The book "Lord of the Flies" does a good job of speaking to our basic urges. Despite all the fuzzy cards and the occasional child being nice to something, we don't trust infants with the family crystal and certainly don't leave the new baby in the care of the two year old. Ask any cuddly kitten, sweet as they are, what children do to them.

I've heard the stories and rescued the animals and children from other children. We all havea mean streak. We also have a good streak. The war is within each of us. As Leonard Cohen even so aptly said, "There's a war between the ones who say there is a war and the one's who say there isn't." This is called 'original sin', this is the 'expulsion from the Garden of Eden'. In the Garden of Eden, or Innoscence, we didn't have to 'choose'.

And as adults we're in what Scott Peck (Road Less Travelled) called a kindergarden experience. We're still learning to be nice to the other kids in the playground.

However if God came today we'd put him in an electric chair and have to walk around wearing little gold electric chair pennants. The French would be kissing little gold guillotines.

Now I would love to say "they" would put him in the electric chair but the message of spirituality is that every day in our heart the Christ story is played out over and over again. Every day we have a events in our life where we can choose Light or Darkness. One of Bob Dylan's greatest songs was "You've got to choose somebody. Maybe the Devil or it may be the Lord, but you've got to choose somebody." Every time we make a choice, at the heart of that choice is a 'moral choice.'

Everyday, one day at a time, I'm given a choice to choose Jesus, and not be a fraid. Have faith, believe, or be scared and take revenge, vote for more 'security forces' or 'get even' or 'snap back' or I can do what Jesus said and did which is "return right for wrong." If someone gives me lemons, give back lemonades. If the authorities condemn me act as Jesus did, trusting in God. Accept that the world's condemnation is not all there is.

The church condemned Galileo, for Christ's sake. On the other hand if some one catches me poking the cat with a stick maybe I should learn a little compassion for my furry friend.

This is the time before Christmas. This is the birth of a new idea time. This is the beginning of PEACE on EARTH. This is the call to "LOVE YOUR ENEMY".

This is hard truth time. This is the Jews who think the Nazis should have "loved a Jew" yet whenever anyone says that kind of Jew "Love a Palestinian" they say "that's different". I say America should Love Iraq but they say "they're terrorists".

I say "I'm a Canadian". Learn from us. We've not killed the ugly little shit Quebecers yet. Despite their deserving more than any other shits on the earth. We want them to separate. We would build a wall to keep them on that side of the country if only they'd give us the Maritimes and the Newfoundlanders but typical of French every where they want to keep the Newfoundlanders to themselves. Not even the Newfoundlanders want to be with the French.

Ask the English, they gave up killing French long ago because it just encourages them. Now the Americans have the French under their skin. Serves them right. Everyone should have a French person in their life to test their Faith. The first cannibals were English people living beside a group of French.

Because Christmas is all about Faith. Do I have faith that this world is just an illusion.? Do I believe in the message of the movie Matrix. This is the Maya of the Hindo and Buddhist religions. This is the illusion. This is all perception. What is real is what Dr. Carl Jung called the "Collective Unconscious". God is real and all else is temporary. The spiritual is real while matter decays.

To quote the great American Vietnam soldier message, "This don't matter".

When people are living in the "real" with war and disease at their doorstep they wake up to the nonsense of shopping and media messages and consumerism and all the other fun but silly ideas. They get real and understand that we're "Spiritual beings living in a material world".

Our nature is spiritual. We're all God's children. Peel away the onion skin and we don't get shit but we we get light and love. We get little children who poke the eyes of cats and pinch little brothers but we're God's children. We are growing up. We can choose LOVE.

And we can learn to choose Love over Fear. We can listen to the message of Gandhi, Martin Luther and Mother Theresa. We can remember that Jesus said, "Do not be afraid." We can have faith that if we do good we will be rewarded in that moment and in heaven. The reward in Good is Now. It's in a feeling and realization that no money can buy. We were born to give.

I can get a $100, 000 or more today for killing someone. I can make a whole lot more money as a doctor being an abortionist or doing euthanasia. These are really high paid medical occupations. Highest paid really. Or I can go to work and try to save a life or comfort a person in pain and get low paid. I make that choice. I can be a drug pusher on the streets or I can be a drug pusher in the office or I can get to know what the person before me needs, not what I need, but what he or she needs and I can serve him. Yes I can give him a drug but I don't want to give a person a heroin so he forgets and stays imprisoned when he needs all his wits to find a job.

I can be afraid today or I can have faith and take courage. Courage is doing the right thing in spite of fear. Swaggering fearlessness is a video game world. I've faced too many guns and knives and hung off enough cliffs to know that I was afraid but did the 'next right thing.'

Christmas is the birth of Jesus. Christmas is the choice between "idealism" and "materialism". I can have a deep meaningful life of family, community and service to my fellow man or a shallow superficial life serving my own senses. I have to make the choice.

This is a time to ask "Who was Jesus". As Christians do we think its acceptable for Obama to leave the troops in Iraq till tomorrow. Should Canadians be in Kandahar? Should I talk to my neice who doesn't talk to me? The microcosm and macrocosm are one. That which we think of in a political arena affects what we think of in our personal lives. People who put up swastikas and celebrate Hitler would probably gas their neighbours if we didn't restrain them.

We know about children. Let's look at the world and ask if our leaders and our fellows and ourselves are being "good children". Is the guy I voted for being a stateman or a bully. Did I write to him and tell him what I think of what he's doing for me. If I voted for him then he's my employee. I'm responsible for his behaviour.

Jesus said we had to be "like children" to get into heaven. Did he mean we'd get their by being 'infant terribles' or was he referring to their 'trust' and 'faith' and 'love' for their parents. What do I feel towards my "CREATOR" or do I reject and ignore and neglect him by denying he exists and claiming I just "materialized" on the planet.

Nothing is more ironic than that those who deny Jesus a "virgin birth" insist that they are creatures without 'creators". "I evolved". "I spontaneously arrived" "I am a virgin birth" but "being intellectual" I mock "myths of virgin" birth or "if you want me to believe in a "virgin birth" then I am too. Evolution is fine but it's 'technical" and doesn't get to the "meaning" of the thing.

So you're a nihilist. You don't believe anything has meaning. So why are you so insisting on getting your way and holding onto your things. What we will fight for and kill for is our religion. So face it, your religion and my religion might well be Walmart and MacDonalds.

That's fine but is that 'all'. Is there more in a child's life than poking the cat's eye. What about learning. What about love. What about the big picture. Do we want Walmart's policy towards their employees. Do we look at the civil rights in China and not look at the civil rights in Walmart. Do we claim to care about children in Africa but not care for what's going on in Vancouver Eastside. Why are the courts letting out pedophiles and murderers and not protecting the citizens from repeat offenders. Have I written a letter to my politiciam employee asking him about those things I'm afraid of. If I'm a fraid that criminals ,especially marijuania growers and other government backers are getting favouritism, have I written to the state department and asked what they are doing about my concerns or am I just belly aching and polluting the world I live in with verbal farts.

And most importantly 'WHAT ABOUT DEATH". Our society is a society of "DENIAL of DEATH". And likewise it treats the old abysmally. It's a youth and adolescent culture. It's a culture that says plastic surgery is the answer. It's afraid of aging and death. It's afraid of wisdom. It's a tv culture. It's a video game culture.

But what do we believe? What is real?

That's what Christmas is. Even before Christ, in pagan days, it was the time the sun went away and people either killed themselves in fear of the darkness or had faith in the light and return of the light. Christ means messiah. It means "God will come again".

The Eucharist is a time when we eat the body of Christ and drink the blood of Christ. It's a great joke of a cannibalistic festival. But we're remembering we are GOD KILLERS. We're a race of cannibals. The vegetarians are either trying to be more than their roots or are just silly sentamentalists who would deny they were born between shit and piss.

We're animals who can reach for the skies. We're animals who can walk upright. We're intelligent animals and we can eat our neighbor or not eat our neighbor. We have to choose. We have choice. We can on a daily basis listen to the 'wee small voice' within us that says 'do good'. It's not right to steal money from tax payers. It's not right to make profit for profit sake if it means that thousands in South America will die. It's not sufficient to love your family or your corporation. You have to love yourself and your fellow man. Not just your tribe. That's where it begins. Sure you learn love in the home and then you learn to love more till one day you can be like God and love creation.

But don't get me wrong. Love a Muslim for sure. Love a taxman. But that doesn't mean I'm going to let the child poke my cat in the eye. There's a whole lot of space between loving and killing. I might think of killing the taxman or the policeman or the terrorist as #1 thought. In fact I might want them to send the fat taxmen round my way and think about stewing them too. I'm only human.

However I have to remember that the law "an eye for an eye" was the first law of "mercy". It said 'restrain" myself. Even if I can eat the taxman or eat the terrorist or devour the politician or the media critic I should learn and practice 'restraint." Despite my desire to "whack" silly girls and boys in position of power beyond their brains or emotional age, I should restrain myself.

If I really get it right I'll do as Jesus said, "Love your enemy." I'll put down my sword and not cut off the ears of the police or military today. I'll talk with them. I'll throw the money lenders charging extortionist rates, all those 'credit card' purveyors out of the temples. I won't 'respect' them. I respect "Jesus". I will 'give unto Caesar Caesar's due." He can have my money but he can't have my love or my soul. Jesus has my love.

It's not easy being 'moral'. Amorality is so much more fun. I want to be like all the tv heros. I'm addicted to Clint Eastwood and all those other 'humans'. But I have to realize that's not 'reality'. St. Francis is real. Dirty Harry wasn't a saint. God probably laughs at Dirty Harry movies and says "make my day" to Bill Hay and then loves me instead.

Be God like. Be good. Love your enemy. Love a politician today. Love a Muslim. Love a Catholic. Love a Sik or Buddhist. Even love a Communist. Hell, love a Capitalist. Love a policeman. Love the RCMP. Love the CBC. Love the ex wife or love the Judge. But Love rather than fear. And hate is just fear that is nursed and distilled. Let go of fear. Move on. Today is the beginning of the great idea of Christmas which is that God loves you and you can love God and your fellow man.

See you in heaven I hope. If I don't' eat my neighbor today, there's hope.