snow (noun): atmospheric water vapor frozen into ice crystals and falling in light white flakes or lying on the ground as a white layer

Put like that it sounds so harmless: charming, even. But nothing that merits weather warnings can be entirely harmless.

As for “flakes lying on the ground as a white layer,” well, indeed. With atmospheric-water-vapor-frozen-into-ice crystals forecast to continue to fall until nightfall, Saturday morning greeted us with a sticky-wet snow layer already several inches deep on every horizontal surface, on near-vertical ones, and on every gradient in between.

2-photo collage of snow on horizontal and vertical surfaces

2-photo collage of snow on branches3-photo collage of snowed-under surfaces

If you did it on purpose it would represent a lot of work but I gotta say, this effort is wasted on me. I don’t use snow for skiing or snowshoe-ing or tobogganing. I don’t even take photographs of it, but maybe this is the year that I’ll learn the basics.

Could it be the year that I also learn to appreciate it? That, as Mr. Holly said, will be the day.

And if you’re OK with snow but complain about the temperature, you can always revisit this Rick Mercer classic.

Posted in Laughing Frequently, You are Here | Tagged | 6 Comments

Our Better Angels

We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies.
Though passion may have strained
it must not break our bonds of affection.
The mystic chords of memory,
stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave
to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land,
will yet swell the chorus of the Union,
when again touched, as surely they will be,
by the better angels of our nature.
– First Inaugural Address, Abraham Lincoln, 1861 Mar 4

The Battle of Fort Sumter, the spark that lit the Civil War, came just five weeks after Lincoln’s eloquent plea on the day he assumed the Presidency. That’s something for all speechwriters to think about with some humility.

And yet, words do matter.

What we’ve been watching for four years, and what we saw explode last week, is a paradox: a political and informational system that profits from division and conflict, and uses a factory-style process to stimulate it, but professes shock and horror when real conflict happens. It’s time to admit this is a failed system.
You can’t sell hatred and seriously expect it to end.
Matt Taibbi, We Need a New Media System

There are no quick and easy fixes for the things that ail us as nations: nor, for that matter, as individuals.  There is no fix at all, in the sense of “full” or “final.” But maybe the right words can light our path as we struggle to act more in accordance with those better angels of our nature.

We are not enemies, but friends.

Maybe the right words can help us reach for forgiveness not judgement, reconciliation not revenge, understanding not hatred, and humility not self-righteousness.

We must not be enemies.

Maybe the right words can help us stop feeding a “political and informational system that profits from division and conflict” and start feeding our communities.

You can’t sell hatred and seriously expect it to end.



Thanks to Father Raymond J. de Souza whose article kicked this off.

Posted in Feeling Clearly, Politics and Policy, Relationships and Behaviour, Thinking Broadly | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

The Big Event this Week

While some wait breathlessly for the American Inauguration on the 20th, I’m looking forward to the 21st.

But not just any old 21st: The 21st second of the 21st minute of the 21st hour of the 21st day of the 21st year of the 21st century.

Join me at 9:21:21 PM this coming Thursday, 2021 Jan 21, in a toast to a confluence that I, at least, don’t expect to live to see again.

Posted in Appreciating Deeply, Through the Calendar | Tagged , | 6 Comments

The Ten Years That Was

Ten years ago, as close as never mind — on January o6, 2011 — I started this blog. In that time I’ve published 1,526 posts, received and responded to 4,851 real comments, and deep-sixed at least 3,682 spam comments.

“You’ve hit the ball out the park! Inbiedrcle!”

I’ve written stories, essays, rants, observations, and things that would be columns if they were published in a newspaper. I’ve presented videos, photos, phaces, and excerpts from my latest book.

I’ve written about language, family, death, avocados, sports, language, getting older, techno-weirdness, alligatorsfood, Christmas, weather, day lilies, nudibranchs, spam comments, spam emails, birds (too many to count), gardening, plagues, Canadian national treasures, travel, stuff, work, humour, and politics and squirrels and other things that make you puke. Not much, you’ll notice, on housecleaning. What’s the advice they give writers?

“Write what you know.”

All right then.

I’ve been serious and flippant; off-the-cuff and deliberate; angry and at peace. Sometimes all at once.

Most of you have been along for most of that ride. I thank you for reading, when you do. I thank you for commenting, when you will. And I’d be happy for you to forward a sample post to anyone you think might enjoy it. It really is the case that the more the merrier.

To conclude with something that is apropos of nothing at all, yet that seems nonetheless to be eminently appropriate, this bit comes from an article on canine cognition. It made me laugh, in a week when I needed that.

“Americans spent nearly $100 billion on their pets in 2019,
maybe half of which was spent on dogs.
The rest was  embezzled, then gambled away — by cats.”

– “Evolution of a Friendship” by Jeff MacGregor,
Smithsonian magazine, Dec 2020

Close-up of tortoiseshell cat.

Posted in Appreciating Deeply, Laughing Frequently | Tagged , | 10 Comments

To the Moon

They all say the same thing, each in their own words.

Oh. My. God.
No way.
I’ve never seen this before.

And then everyone — little kids, cool dudes and dudettes, middle-aged folks, old people — everyone smiles in delight.

See for yourself.

I don’t own a telescope, although this video is making me reconsider that choice. More to the point, it’s also making me consider what I have — what each of us have — that could be shared to such good effect.

Something that would elicit the equivalent of this:

I’m looking at the moon.
Hold on, I’ll call you back.


Posted in Appreciating Deeply, Feeling Clearly | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

Tumble Home

A brief excitement this week and then my hopes were dashed: a “tumblehome” hull does not do what its name says it should. You know, like you’re paddling along in your canoe or kayak, minding your own business and watching for kingfishers and great blue herons when Bam! You lean too far to one side and start to go over but the hull’s shape “tumbles” you “home” to an upright position.

It would be *such* a cool name.

Continue reading

Posted in Thinking Broadly | Tagged | 6 Comments

What We Need Right Now

I’ve mentioned John Robson here before. He’s a clever, witty, educated, conservative, Christian, Canadian political columnist with a PhD in American history. He’s a passionate believer in the principles of the Magna Carta.

None of that makes him necessarily right on any given issue. Or wrong. But in my opinion he is always an informed and thoughtful voice with a generous perspective as well as a clear-eyed view of our human frailties.

Amid all the rhetoric this week, I offer his piece, which calls for generosity on both sides. Here are some excerpts.

So I guess we won’t be defunding the police after all.  When a mob surged disgracefully into the U.S. Capitol, armed agents of the state rightly repelled the attack.  There’s a lesson here.

Actually there are several. The most important being the need to find some constructive way forward.  And if you think it starts with me repudiating my past support for Donald Trump, I can’t do it.  Not from pride, stubbornness or something darker.  Because I never supported him.

From the time his candidacy became serious in 2016 I insisted that he was unfit for office.  And lately he has been doing all he can to prove it beyond any shadow of doubt.


In the face of allegations of [election] irregularity, [the Democrats] should have declared their determination to get to the bottom of any plausible claims.  Instead they went all smash-mouth.  So what if, months from now, some intrepid reporter and editor reveal undeniable cheating, perhaps enough to flip one very close state?  Can you imagine the sour vindication many MAGA types will feel?

If not, allow me to explain.  It will mirror the sour vindication many anti-Trumpers felt when that mob attacked the capitol.  And what we need right now is not sour vindication but some form of generosity.

Enough with the virtue-signalling already.  Also, for all my distaste for Trump, I am not blind to his very real accomplishments, for instance in the Middle East.  And in giving a voice to many who had been voiceless too long.  But I need his backers to concede that he gave them the wrong voice.

I need them to say American elections are not decided by violent mobs rushing Congress.  And for the left, seeing the police defending democracy, to say proper policing is a necessary and admirable part of governing.

It doesn’t matter who goes first.  But it matters that we go soon.

And for another thoughtful and (slightly) hopeful take on this, I offer an interview with Matt Taibbi, whom I would describe as on the left in his politics but who has also called out small-l liberals and progressives in the USA. This piece is on the hate that the media fosters for profit.

Posted in Politics and Policy, Thinking Broadly | Tagged | 2 Comments


“I think politics has made us crazy.
Everybody in this country has lost their minds on politics.”
– Senator Rubio (Republican, FL),
speaking after the occupation of the Capitol

After watching television coverage of a mob forcing its way into the Capitol on Wednesday of this week, I’d find it hard to argue with this diagnosis. It sure looked crazy. But how different is that, really?

Continue reading

Posted in Politics and Policy, Thinking Broadly | Tagged , | 2 Comments

The Week that Was #5

Many silly bits this past week, including Ontario’s now-former Finance Minister who earned two “Are you kidding me?” looks by referring to his trip to Barbados in December as being “pre-planned”.

Is there another kind of planning, sir?
And does the planning make any difference?

But I decided to go with a single winner. I think Mr. Selley might have given us the gift that keeps on giving.  Continue reading

Posted in Laughing Frequently, Politics and Policy | Tagged | 5 Comments