Saturday, October 23, 2021

Money - Part Two

Fame or self: Which matters more?
Self or wealth: Which is more precious?
Gain or loss: Which causes more pain?

Those who are attached to things will suffer greatly.
Those who save will suffer heavy losses. 
Those who are contented are never disappointed. 
Those who know when to stop do not find themselves in trouble. 
They remain forever safe. 

Tao Te Ching of Lao Tsu, part 44:
Translated by Gia-fu Feng and Jane English with Toinette Lippe.

Thank you again Brian. 

Friday, October 15, 2021

To Be Authentically Human


To see truly and live fully:           

This is what it means to be authentically human

                      Jacob Needleman 

Monday, October 11, 2021


This post might seem to be a bit dark. I have been thinking hard about a saying my grandfather learned from watching his parents. 

Grandad grew up in a family where everyone worked hard. His parents had been poor in England and immigrated to Canada where they found work. They bought a house. Money became the measure of all good for his mother and father, and my grandfather and his younger brother were sent out to work very early in life. Everything they earned had to be turned over to their parents - after all, they had to pull their weight. Such practices were not unusual in that time, but as a result of his disappointments, Grandad saw money, and the drive to acquire more and more, as the root of all evil, and said so. 

Over my life, I found a balance to this - earning money as a way to provide for family, and help others in my community - not so evil. 

Now, here is a dark story that has haunted me for over three decades. An acquaintance's husband, who had been a pharmacist, had recently passed away. In conversation with his widow, I was told that her husband had developed a treatment that he believed would cure cancer, but nobody in the scientific community was willing to believe or even test his idea. When he died, his treatment went with him. I have no idea whether that husband was deluded or a genius who might have ended a terrible scourge. 

In thinking about that possibility, what occurred to me was how many jobs in hospitals, research facilities, and fund-raising efforts would have been lost had this pharmacist indeed found a treatment to end all cancers. And the dark thought accompanying that is the sure knowledge of how determined the research community responsible for testing his idea would have been to suppress such knowledge. And why, might you ask, would they do that? One word: money. 

To what lengths would someone go to protect their fortune? Where else has truth been suppressed for the sake of money? Cigarettes? International relations? The food industry? Climate change? Social media? The "war" on poverty?

Feel free to add to the list ...

Now for the difficult questions: 

What can be done to find a better way to reward hard work and intellect? 

How much money is enough for any one individual?

Thursday, September 30, 2021

An Inheritance

These past few days K and I drove to the big city and back to meet with friends. We don't expect to get a chance to do this sort of thing much - since the pandemic and its many waves made it inadvisable, and in some cases against the law, to travel for a gathering with friends. 

The occasion was a "celebration of life" for a good friend's mother. She and I hadn't seen each other since I was in school. I phoned her not long after her husband died, and had a lovely conversation. Sadly, soon after, she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. After that, it would have been quite pointless to visit. I was never really part of her life, and yet, in a very important way, she has always been part of mine. 

This realization came as her son, a close friend in school and since, read the eulogy for his mother. He and I have always had a very comfortable relationship, which included spending time in the other's home, playing music and sharing meals. We are both only children, and in many ways it was like having a brother. Sometimes, because of circumstance, we have been apart for years, but every time we talk it is as though no time has passed at all. We each have the wonderful ability to bring out the best in the other. No matter how sad the news or difficult the time we might be experiencing, we seem to find a way to laugh together. By the time we part again, we feel better for having connected once more. 

What became clear as my friend talked about his mom is that a characteristic we both carry originated, at least partly, with her. She bequeathed it to him and he shared it with me - steady optimism and a quirky sense of humour.

Rest in peace, dear O.L. 

Sunday, August 15, 2021

Fruit of the Bush

 In this case the fruit is tomatoes. 

The darker ones are called Black Krim. The red/green variety are Mortgage Lifter. Both are very tasty, and have more flesh than those from the grocery store. 

Others in the house would likely be just as happy if I grew a couple of the beefsteak variety.  

I grew both the BK and ML from seeds gathered last year. It is time to decide if I want to have them again next year. It isn't difficult to harvest a couple of packets of seeds from a tomato or two. It might be a good idea. Just in case. 

Saturday, July 10, 2021


This morning K was responding to an article in face-place about the most famous people she ever had a conversation with. It made us question what makes someone famous. Naturally, the first thought was of celebrities, but very quickly we agreed that it should be much more personal than that.

When I went to check online who the most famous people in the world are currently, I found that I didn't know most of them and wouldn't want to know several others. Most of them - no surprise - are men. The most famous person has a nickname (The Rock) and was a professional wrestler. My grandfather spent some time as a pro wrestler and he was famous - to me. 

There is a book that was published last year that I might purchase to further my understanding of the phenomenon of worship of fame: Celebrity Mad: Why Otherwise Intelligent People Worship Fame, by Professor Brett Kahr. 

When I think of the famous people I have been introduced to (a very small list, admittedly) I cannot imagine any that I would be able to even have a conversation with. 

So, what is fame? Why would I, or anyone, get excited about these people? Yes, I might watch a movie with them acting in it. They might be in a position to change my life by making laws that I would like or not. But why would that make them important to me personally? 

As I wrote above, my famous people are the ones who have made a difference in my life. K is famous - to me. So are my children. Seeing the face of someone who makes a difference in your life should give you a warm feeling. It might give you the shivers; I always know something I am experiencing is important and wonderful when it sends a shiver up my spine. 

Nobody on that computer-generated list gives me the shivers. One makes me shudder, but that is different. 

 “Grown-ups love figures... When you tell them you've made a new friend they never ask you any questions about essential matters. They never say to you "What does his voice sound like? What games does he love best? Does he collect butterflies? " Instead they demand "How old is he? How much does he weigh? How much money does his father make? " Only from these figures do they think they have learned anything about him.”  - Antoine de Saint-ExupĂ©ry, The Little Prince

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Near and Dear

Yesterday was a special day for me, and it was lovely to read caring messages sent by friends and family. It was even better to see and talk to people I care about. Yet nothing can or will replace being held and holding those we care about. Thanks to K, I didn't miss out too much in that department. 

Never-the-less, I am in a sentimental mood today. This has been my ear-worm. 

The Nearness of You, performed ever-so-gently by Norah Jones. 

It's not the pale moon
That excites me
That thrills and delights me
Oh no
It's just the nearness of you

It isn't your sweet conversation
That brings this sensation
Oh no
It's just the nearness of you

When you're in my arms
And I feel you so close to me
All my wildest dreams
Came true

I need no soft lights
To enchant me
If you would only grant me
The right
To hold you ever so tight
And to feel in the night
The nearness of you

Music: Hoagy Carmichael Lyrics: Ned Washington

Saturday, May 1, 2021

Sometimes a Dream ...

I have often wondered where ideas come from. Could a dream be the thought that then initiates some even more interesting thought we are meant to think? If you are giving me a blank-eyed stare, that is ok ... I get that a lot. 


Many years ago, a dream changed my way of thinking of myself. In it, my rather sporty car had been at a garage for some repairs to the engine. When I went to bring the car home I noticed, to my horror, that the car's sporty wheels had been taken away and some nasty-looking wheels put on instead. I don't recall anything else from the dream - that is likely where I woke up with an adrenaline rush. I didn't think myself a particularly possessive sort of person, but that dream revealed how wrong I had been about that, and brought on some soul-searching. 

In this morning's dream, K and I were visiting some sort of fancy food market that was having a clearance sale. One bottle of wine, decades old, was in a display case. There was also a package of very special cheese of some sort. Everything in this shop had been stored at the optimum temperature and in the perfect conditions for preservation. The wine and cheese were the last of their kind. We decided to buy them. 

As the dream went on, we considered setting them both aside because they were so special - one of a kind. But knowing they would spoil quickly, we consumed them right away, with some bread, for a very enjoyable picnic. 

Both of these dreams were of their time. The first was a dream of a young person who had illusions of being easy-going. It revealed something of my true nature. It gave me something to think about in order to grow away from pride of ownership. 

What does today's dream tell me, I wonder?  Is it a sort of parable? Or is it just something that has given me an excuse to create this post? 

As K says, "Sometimes a dream is just a dream."

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Midnight Crawler

 It was as if I was watching television and a message was scrolling across the bottom. The crawler read:


It was only a dream, yet even a bad dream can make you think. 

Most of my dreams are silly. They are often the sort teachers get. I now wake with a smile, remembering I retired some years ago, so I don't have to grade a pile of papers in order to submit report cards before morning. 

What if I knew I only had a few hours left on earth? What would that mean to me? Assuming it was a premonition of sudden death, what is there to do? I don't feel any regrets of the Ebenezer Scrooge sort. I think I would want to spend those hours as I do most days now. Life is very good. I'm enjoying it while it lasts. As well, a sudden death has always seemed preferable to one that is lingering and painful.

There might be some important passwords I should tell K about, so among other things, she can let folks here in Blogistan know I'm gone ... but really, that isn't urgent. Those of you who wouldn't find out by some other means could very nicely go on thinking I was here, but hadn't thought of anything to write about lately.

Of course, the crawler on the dream television was slightly ambiguous. It didn't actually say anything about death. Maybe I should be carrying a towel?

Saturday, January 2, 2021

Keeping It Simple

 I have been baking again.

We are not feeling quite as full as Snoopy appears to be here, but we have already started cutting back.

Hard to remember that this isn't a holiday just because we are at home all the time. 

Yes, we are cutting back, but are still eating far too well. The fourth batch of shortbreads are almost cool enough for the tin - yes, four batches of simple shortbread fingers. I say simple because like most things I am making these days, there is very little work involved. Simple ingredients too - shortbreads involve only butter, sugar, and flour along with some 'elbow-grease' as Grandma used to tell me. The jar with the towel over it contains sauerkraut - simple to make using only cabbage and salt. It ferments on the counter for many days and when it has a flavour that suits your taste it is put into the refrigerator. Yum.

We are so lucky and we know it. Yet it is worth remembering that good luck rarely comes without preparation.

I will admit that there is a good chance that this post won't make it to your eyes, and if you choose, ears. It will likely join quite a few predecessors in the electronic bin - a victim of a simple and happy life, and an aversion to anything preachy. 

If it does survive it will likely be because of Gord's words and music below.


Go first in the world, go forth with your fears
remember a price must be paid.
Be always too soon, be never too fast
at the time when all bets must be laid.
Beware of the darkness, be kind to your children,
remember the woman who waits.
And the house you live in will never fall down
if you pity the stranger who stands at your gate.

When you're caught by the gale and you're full under sail
beware of the dangers below.
And the song that you sing should not be too sad
and be sure not to sing it too slow.
Be calm in the face of all common disgraces
and know what they're doin' it for.
And the house you live in will never fall down
if you pity the stranger who stands at your door.

When you're out on the road and feelin' quite lost
consider the burden of fame.
And he who is wise will not criticize
when other men fail at the game.
Beware of strange faces and dark dingy places.
Be careful while bending the law.
And the house you live in will never fall down
if you pity the stranger who stands at your door.

When you're down in the dumps and not ready to deal
decide what it is that you need.
Is it money or love, is it learning to live,
or is it the mouth you must feed?
Be known as a man who will always be candid
on questions that do not relate.
And the house you live in will never fall down
if you pity the stranger who stands at the gate.

And the house you live in will never fall down
if you pity the stranger who stands at the gate.