A remembrance of fathers


January 6 is Ukrainian Christmas Eve (Свят вечер; Sviat Vecher). This year was our first Sviat Vecher celebration without my father.

The tradition is to have a 12 course meal all made without meat. One of concoctions we had tonight was узвар; compote made from various fruits. The one we had tonight included apples.

Fall 2014

In fall 2014 my mom and dad asked me if I would go with them for a day trip to go apple picking. I drove them to a farm owned by family friends, about an hour and a half away from the Toronto.

There were lots of ground falls which we picked up and filled our baskets.

My father wandered off by himself; my mother and I did not know where he was and we became alarmed. Did he fall? We called out to him and heard no answer.

Eventually we found him. He was okay; he heard us calling him. He called back and we didn’t hear him because his voice was not very strong.

I was mindful that my dad was elderly and treated that trip as if it was our last trip together because we don’t know what’s in store for us and it COULD be the last.

It turns out that it WAS our last trip together. My father passed away in June 2015.

Fall 2015

In fall 2015 a slightly different family configuration went apple picking. My mother, my sister, and I.

We went to the same farm as the previous year and filled our baskets with ground falls. As we started to wind down the day and head back to the car we walked past the area where my dad had wandered off by himself the previous year.

Normally we just walk past that section as we return to the car, but I started wondering why my dad would have wandered into that area. I stopped and looked around, wondering what he might have been looking at, what he might have seen.

That’s when I noticed on the ground – so many more apples than what we had already picked. The ground in that area was covered with soft cedar needles so that when the apples fell they landed softly and didn’t bruise. It was if a grocery truck had overturned and spilled its load of apples in that spot; those were the best apples we found that day!

The spirit of my dad was still with us that day and was still helping us pick apples.


Every guest we had at dinner tonight has a father who has already departed. As we drank our узвар compote made from apples, we commemorated them.

Michael. Walter. Jim. John. Another Michael. We remember you.

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Forgiving is something that happens when you choose it

Someone recently asked me, “How do you know when you have forgiven someone who wronged you?”

How do you know? You know you’re forgiving someone when your reaction to what happened in the past changes. You know when you’re not relating to them anymore as someone who wronged you.

Forgiving means letting go of the “I got hurt” story. How you know you’ve forgiven someone is when you see something else other than the hurt.

Forgiving is something that happens when you choose it. You choose it when you decide that the benefit of not forgiving is no longer worth the price you’re paying.

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Persuasive Speaking – Final Approach to Advanced Communicator Gold

I’ve been working towards my Distinguished Toastmasters (DTM) designation in fits and starts.

My most recent run at it was from last July through September, in which I completed all five speech projects in the Interpersonal Communication manual.

I have five more speech projects to give in order to complete the speech requirements for Advanced Communicator Gold. In addition to the speech requirements, there is also a mentoring requirement and workshop requirement.

For my remaining five speech projects, I have chosen the Persuasive Speaking manual. It has something in common with the Interpersonal Communication manual – they both have speech projects which consist of a role play with a partner.

Project 1 is The Effective Salesperson.
The speech objectives are:

  • Recognize a buyer’s thought processes in making a purchase.
  • Elicit information from a prospective buyer through questions.
  • Match the buyer’s situation with the most appropriate product.
  • TIME: 8 to 12 minutes

It has become so easy to procrastinate on preparing and giving those last five speeches.

Time to give myself another push and get this done.

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I knocked on her door

The only times I would see her were the occasional times that we’d pass each other in the parking lot and politely say hi.

One day I passed her by and she was cleaning her car. I thought she was conscientious and hard working.

One day I passed her by and smiled and said hi and she said hi. I thought she was cute.

One day I didn’t see her car in the parking lot for several days in a row and I didn’t see her at all. I thought she was moving out.

One day I saw her sitting in her car in the parking lot. I got out of my car slowly, timing it so that I might catch her after she got out of her car and say hi before she disappeared into her apartment.

She got out of her car. I turned to her, smiled and said hi.

She said, “I haven’t seen you here in a while.”

I said, “Funny, I was thinking the same thing about you.”

We chit chatted, made small talk, and she disappeared into her apartment.

I thought she was pretty.

One day I created an excuse to knock on her door. I grabbed a plastic container that had some leftover food out of my refrigerator. “I’ll be out of town for a few days and this food will go bad if I just leave it in my fridge. If I give it to you instead you could have it for a meal and not have to cook.” Something like that – I went over the wording in my mind a few times to build my confidence that I could say it without tripping over my words.

I took the container of food to her apartment.

I knocked on her door. I waited. She didn’t come.

I knocked on her door again. I waited some more. She didn’t come.

I knocked on her door again. I waited a bit more. She didn’t come.

I went back to my apartment with the food.

Maybe next time.

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The Force Awakens

On January 1 I finally went to see Star Wars Episode VII The Force Awakens. Only two weeks since it came out, yet it seems much longer. Too many people posting their comments and reactions to risk exposure to spoilers. Was there any big “Darth Vader is Luke’s father” type reveal in this movie? I better go see it for myself before I end up reading something I shouldn’t.

Two weeks after it opened I finally went to see The Force Awakens.

I didn’t wait so long when Episode VI Return of the Jedi came out. That was a long time ago and I was still in high school then. I skipped school to see it on opening day.

I was less enthusiastic about seeing the first movie when it came out. Now known as Star Wars Episode IV A New Hope; back then titled simply Star Wars.

I didn’t see that one until a year after it opened. Truth is, I was avoiding it. So many people were talking about it, and if it was popular it couldn’t be any good. Popular things suck. Pop music sucks. Therefore I wasn’t interested in seeing it. That was my logic at the time.

One afternoon a buddy invited me to go downtown to see a new movie called Battlestar Galactica. I went, I saw it, and I was thrilled. I decided I liked movies. On my way back to the house I ran into my sister with her friends.

“I’m coming back from the movies. I just saw Battlestar Galactica,” I told her.

“We’re going out to the movies. We’re going to see Star Wars,” she told me.

She asked if I wanted to go with them.

What the heck, I decided to go with them.

Although Star Wars had already been playing in the theatres for a year, there were hardly any seats available when we got there. The seat I got was broken and would shift awkwardly every time I moved. I needed to go to the washroom and I didn’t want to get out of my seat – and then the movie started.

When it finished I had completely forgotten that my seat was broken. I had completely forgotten that I needed to go to the washroom. I was just so engaged in the movie.

Episode IV: A New Hope was released in 1977.
Episode VII: The Force Awakens was released in 2015.

38 years in between.

On January 1, 2016 I happened to be in the neighborhood of the same movie theatre where I saw the first Star Wars movie. That theatre has closed down since then and has reopened since then. Since I really wanted to see The Force Awakens that night, I went to the same theatre. The same theatre where I saw the first Star Wars. There was something apropos about coming back to that place to see that movie.

Han Solo and Princess Leia have aged in the intervening years. So have I.

“Chewie, we’re home.”

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Revisiting “Hello, Bruce”

The Hello, Bruce project has been a back burner project for several years now. As such it has been slowly simmering away; not quite coming to a boil, not quite thoroughly cooked, yet some of the ingredients have been thrown into the pot and are starting to slowly blend.

The idea for the project came from a dream, and has been evolving.

I went on a few spontaneous hikes throughout 2015, took some pictures, and re-ignited my enthusiasm for the project.

I’ve even set up a Facebook page and started a website. Both are currently in a minimalist stage; I need to start somewhere.

I’ve come to the conclusion that this is a project I will not complete through my own effort; it will require a community effort.

What about you? Do you have any Bruce Trail stories to share? Any memorable hikes you’ve been on?

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An epiphany night

The other night I had a minor epiphany night. An epiphany night is a night where I can’t fall asleep and solutions to all problems are running through my mind. This was a minor epiphany night, since solutions to only some problems were running through my mind.

One idea that is working its way to the surface is to restart blogging again. Between Toastmasters, Team Management and Leadership Program, building my business practice, and various projects of self expression, I would think I could find a few things to write about now and then.

Ideas that seem really clear during those epiphany moments have a way of becoming murky during those moments of wakefulness when I’m actually in front of a keyboard motivating myself to write.

In the past few nights I’ve noticed that my dreams have had a Time Lord theme to them. That’s probably an effect of watching the latest Dr. Who episodes. A few weeks ago I watched an episode late at night before going to bed, and ended up having bizarre dreams. The effect was similar to that time when I ate a bowl of chocolate fudge ice cream late at night before going to bed.

Who needs mind altering drugs – just eat chocolate ice cream and watch Dr. Who at night before going to bed.

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Case for Action

I started the Landmark Self Expression and Leadership Program (SELP) last week. It is a four-month program in which I will be taking on a community leadership project.

The project I’m taking on is a developer forum that brings assistive technology to the realm of musical instruments to make them accessible to people who would like to play and are otherwise stopped with a physical challenge. The outcome of this project by April is five working prototypes, each one targeting a different instrument.

Since the day that I embraced that this is the project I’m choosing for my SELP I’ve talked to a number of people about it and have noticed some interesting coincidences popping up.

What is so right now

I’ve talked to a percussionist who does not play anymore, he is stopped with a condition similar to MS.

I’ve talked to a person who used to play guitar, does not anymore, he is stopped with pain (fibromyalgia?).

I’ve talked to a person who does not play guitar due to fat fingers.

Recently in the news Bono of U2 announced that he might never play guitar again following an accident in which he broke his arm.

The guy with MS does not play anymore and says he has found other ways to enjoy music – e.g. working at a music store. But he does not play.

The predictable future

If no action is taken, people like those described above remain in a place where they have given up hope of ever playing. Their full expression is diminished. A part of their talent remains bottled up without a means to express it, share it with others and to fully contribute.

A new possibility

Imagine if Beethoven had been stopped by his deafness from composing his works. What would be missing from the world today? That which would be missing is what is possible for the future. The possibility of full musical expression.

I already had a lot on my plate. It only makes sense that I would take this on and add even more responsibility in my life.

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Author Reading at Ten Stories High

Canadian Authors Association is a national association for writers of every kind, for those actively seeking to become writers and for those who want to support writers.

The Niagara Branch of the Canadian Authors Association held its “Ten Stories High” Annual Short Story Competition, open to all Ontario writers. The top ten finalists have had their stories published in an anthology.

The Association launched their Ten Stories High Short Story Anthology on Saturday March 29, 2014 in St. Catharines.

Several authors read excerpts from their works.

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Celebrating my one year surgeversary

I celebrated my one year surgeversary today.

I wrote about this stage of my healing journey in past posts titled Chain of Events and Doctor’s Orders.

People sometimes ask me if I have increased flexibility now.

I did not gain an increase in mobility after the surgery. However, the joints in my operative hand (left hand) now have a better alignment. My left hand lays flatter on a surface now. One of the practical benefits to me is that I find it easier to wash myself – my hand makes greater surface contact for washing my head for example. Another benefit I’ve discovered recently is that my hand now fits into spaces that it did not easily fit into before. I will now slip a mitten onto my left hand with ease. When I wash my dishes, my left hand now fits into an object such as a mug so that I can wash it more thoroughly. My right hand will not fit into the same space, at least not easily, as the MCP joints stick out too much and the ulnar deviation of my fingers is too severe.

This afternoon I noticed some change in a deep and narrow cubbyhole in my car. Normally my hands would not fit into the hole; I would have to use a long implement to get the change out. However, today I discovered that my left hand actually fit into the space and I retrieved the change without any implement!

It’s not that it took an entire year for my hand to heal enough that I could do these things again. It’s that I have become so used to my hands not functioning that way that I didn’t even think to try until recently.

I still feel a kind of numbness in a certain area on the back of my left hand. The surgeon had to cut through a lot of nerve fibres to get to the joints, and I think many of them are still healing, repairing themselves, even after a year. Sometimes I feel a sensation that feels like a healing energy in my hand.

On my one year surgeversary date, I wish you all to Live Long and Prosper!

Wearing the outrigger splint

Last year: Wearing the outrigger splint
From “Next stage of the healing journey”

Live long and prosper!

One year later: Live long and prosper!

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