Wednesday, April 30, 2014

"acting up" finale 2

A sister reminded me recently that our mother walked in the spotlight during her younger years and a thot came to mind: I have one photo of mother 'acting up' in a play.

Mother is on the left, head turned, listening to dramatic dialogue.
   The other ladies I do not recognize.
   Note the sparse background.
   Canvas walls and one painting.

Like mother, like son.
My head is turned as I listen to dramatic dialogue.
   I don't know who the other people are.
   Note the sparse background.
   Curtained walls and one painting.

My acting career will likely be much like my mother's.

Short 'n' sweet.

Link to acting up finale

Photos edited by GH

"Bury Me At Sea" 7

“Bury Me At Sea”: A Father’s Final Voyage 

A WW2 Navy veteran’s request becomes a son’s great adventure 

 [Doug Harrison, with Effingham Division, Halifax 1941]

Previously on Bury Me At Sea...

Had I been a wiser, braver son I might very well have turned to my father and asked how he felt about not being buried at sea, or what factors helped him choose the one over the other. But I wasn’t that son. While he was alive we never discussed the matter again.

After his death, however, it came up - and not out of the blue - one more time.

*  *  *  *  * 

The Impossible Is Possible (continued) 

With his decision made, plans for mother’s interment went ahead without any hitches, and she was buried at the Gordon Walker Cemetery on Quaker Street, Norwich in the spring of 2001, mere steps away from the remains of her childhood church.

For the most part, my father’s life and my own went on day by day without hitches as well. He kept busy with several activities at Parkwood Hospital, London (his last place of residence) and I kept busy with several of my own pursuits. And, as in the past, our lives generally intersected on Saturday afternoon at one o’clock. I’d drive to Parkwood to pick him up for coffee and a ride in the country and he would be waiting at the door, looking for me.

When we travelled together the atmosphere inside the car was warm, comfortable. Our first stop was always the same, a coffee shop at Commissioners and Adelaide two blocks from the hospital. We sought out and arrived at interesting destinations by slowly zig-zagging along backroads - south and east of London more times than not - and as the car meandered so did our talks.

During one we discussed selling the family home in Norwich. He made the final decision to ‘go ahead’, so I went ahead, sold the house, paid the final bills (with the help of my wife) and passed along the proceeds as he desired.

[19 Washington Avenue, Norwich 1917]

While involved in the process I made a significant connection.

Upon seeing the house for sale, Mr. and Mrs. Byle, my father’s next-door neighbours, decided to buy the house for their daughter. I was as happy as a clam to sell the house quickly to people known to the family, especially my mother and father, and I was astute enough to set one informal condition.

“Mr. Byle,” I said, “Someday you’ll likely think about tearing down the old barn, and when you do, I want you to call me. I’d like to have some of the lumber from the inside walls.”

He agreed to call. We shook on it and we both filed away the agreement in the back of our minds. But I’m ahead of myself.

During another ride, after the sale of the house, my father told me a form of cancer had returned to him, and that he wasn’t going to fight it again.

“I can’t bear to go through any more operations. The cure is worse than the disease,” he said.
On that day, the implications of what he said seemed clear and I struggled to find encouraging or comforting words to fit the moment. I muttered something about how he at least could make his own decision with a clear mind (“That’s a lot more than others can do,” I said) and that I was proud of him for talking to me about it.

[Doug and Gord stop long enough for a photo together. 1969]

As usual, more details were sparse, slow in coming. My brother and sisters likely know more about his actual condition then, and I’m sure the health care system is sitting on a tonne of informative medical files related to my father’s various aliments, but at the time we just drove on together, eyes on soothing countryside, down another road, around a corner and down another road, and around another corner and down another road.

My father died, none too peacefully, on February 3, 2003 in his room at Parkwood Hospital, less than two weeks after our last car ride together. The ground at his chosen burial site in his hometown was frozen and plans were made for another spring interment. During preparations, not one word or any thoughts concerning burial at sea were ever discussed.

I told my four siblings I would build a box for his cremated remains because I had the perfect lumber - but not, as things turned out, the perfect set of plans - on hand in my workshop.

More to follow.

Link to Bury Me At Sea 6

Photos by GH

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Email Email

Re PEI lobster season

My oldest sister and hubby recently moved from Bracebridge to PEI. Bold move, I say.

This just in:

Hello family and friends: sending a few pictures of what the opening
season of lobster fishing looks begins May 1st and the
fishermen are allowed to put their lobster hutches on the docks a
couple of weeks early..

As the docks are also public domain, they aren't allowed to put
them out whenever they want to..there are rules..Frank, Caron and I
will be getting up at 6 a.m. May 1st, with a thermos of tea and
muffins to watch the boats load up and take off, I'm very excited as I
haven't witnessed this big exodus before..

I'll sleep in 'til 8:00, then catch it on the news.

Photos by sister LG

The Workshop

The cats are smilin'

My time in the shop was interrupted yesterday by a seven-year old boy (grandson Ollie) who wanted to play 'bad guy' with me. I was ready for him and agreed.

(He plays the part of a superhero, I play some shlub - aka Bad Guy - and he whips me in a duel involving his super powers vs my old towels and four pillows. Yup, it's great fun).

["Finished barn board duplex w 'surprised cat' goes into storage"] 

["You're sending me to the basement?"]

After I was soundly defeated he ate supper with his grandma and I returned to the shop to finish off four fun-lovin' duplexes (by adding trim and painting smiles on a few cats). And, before my own supper, I had time to select and work on 12 solid birdhouses (from basement shelves) that required just a bit of new trim and paint as well. (More about the 'spruce up' process later).

["Red cedar duplex feels solid and smells delicious!"]

["Maybe I'll plant flowers in the pot"]

["Put cat treats in the pot! And lots of 'em!"]

By most standards, yesterday was a great day. I tried out a new super power of my own on Ollie (wiggling, tickling fingers that can't be stopped), put some smiles on cats faces and set up the shop's to-do list for the next two rainy days. Not bad at all, I say.

Link to The Workshop

Photos GH

My Morning Walk

Things are looking up again

For the last two or three weeks I've been walking to The Club as if with a heavy load on my shoulders. I could be seen walking briskly, head down, concentrating deeply - seemingly - on the troubles of the world.

(I was troubled? No. I was practising lines for a play. Deeply. A Hollywood contract was on the line).

["A Marsh Wren? He was beside the Thames near Carfrae St."] 

Well, the play is over, and while walking to The Club yesterday morning I could hear birds singing again. Fantastic.

Link to Morning Walk

Photos GH

Bird Watching

A single and double

Are some local birds' fortunes turning?

["Usually, my jays travel in pairs"]

["Has my lone dove found a partner for life?"]

I know the jay has got friends flying about. But I have seen a lone dove in the blue spruce for two weeks or more, and I was definitely heartened to see this pair of doves visiting the feeder for the last few days.

Link to Bird Watching

Photos GH

Monday, April 28, 2014

The Workshop

Today's Line Up

A few jobs are already waiting for me. Easy.

[One: Add side roofs and trim to red cedar duplexes]

[Two: Paint two wee roofs on wee BHs]

[Three: Paint a smile on three kitty-cats]

Easy kap-easy.

As well, once the cats are smiling I will start building one pine 'swap box' and six single-family birdhouses from barn board. Dust should be flying by 3 PM. : )

Link to The Workshop

Photos GH

Sunday, April 27, 2014

My Morning Smile

I've got just one thing to add about this play put on at The Club.

If Noel and I aren't in Hollywood by sunset... I quit!

Link to My Morning Smile

Photo courtesy of R. Johnston

"acting up" finale

So, the lively play is over but the repercussions are not. Yesterday I signed what looked like a solid Hollywood contract and am supposed to be on the next stage leaving town in 30 minutes.

["I'll sign the contract but I'm not carrying my own bags!"]

["I'm kissing this boarding house 'good-bye"!"]

["May I be the first to say, I'm first on the bus west!"]

Next stop - Komoka!!

Link to acting up 4

Photos courtesy of R. Johnston

The Workshop

Touch of Red

A birdhouse project usually starts up quick and finishes off slow. Cut, sand, assemble - quick. Paint, trim - slow.

However, if all goes well, birds will usually be very happy to look over their new digs. And some will occasionally grace you with their presence on a backyard perch.

One down (yesterday), three to go (today). Easy kap-easy.

Link to The Workshop

Photos GH

My Morning Smile

And Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road?

Sunday - 8:40 A.M.

It was a very good question. But it came so early in the day!

"Why is the can opener in the fridge?" said my wife.

There are so many questions in life for which I don't have the answer. Now there's one more?

In my mind I retraced my steps to the night before. I watched a hockey game. Before that. I made popcorn. Before that. I ate supper. I made supper for myself - 'cause I came in late, from the shop. I looked in the fridge. I was thinking cold beans, from the tin, with scrambled eggs. I spotted leftover spaghetti. I ate that.

"I think I put it there while mulling over my supper," I said. "I think."

Sunday - 10:00 A.M.

How many times has my wife chuckled behind my back this morning since she found the can opener in the fridge?


Maybe eight times.

Link to free rent, good neighbours

Photo GH

Saturday, April 26, 2014

"acting up" 4

I'm not saying we brought the house down but the combined efforts of the cast of 'Grandma and Her House Boys' came mighty close.

 ["Everyone seems captivated by my singing part"]

["In the lime light! This is huge." (I'm just behind Sam, second left)]

At the very least, we had a great time.

And I sign my first major Hollywood movie contract this morning over coffee at Fire Roasted in Wortley Village.


Link to acting up 3

Photos by PH

Birdhouse London

"Sturdy duplex shines up the place"

I like building sturdy duplexes for birds. I think the wood will stand up for twenty years if squirrels, raccoons and weasels leave it alone.

One recently rolled off the end of the production line in the workshop. Cut, assembled, painted, trimmed up. Check, check, check, check.

Delivery time - Saturday morning at 9:50.

I'd better tidy myself up. Cheers!

More from Birdhouse London

Photos GH 

"acting up" 3

The cast of 'I Can't Remember Drama Club' at the Horton Street Senior Centre have the packed house laughing.

I think I was just telling everybody to take a time out and calm down.

And I was having fun doing it.

Link to acting up 2

Photo by PH

Bird Watching

"I'll get a nice one for you, Dear"

My wife took this picture. It's nice to see the cardinals are still in the 'hood, maybe even living in our spruce tree.

She said she saw Mr. C. feed his mate.

["I'll pick out a sunflower seed w your name on it"]

So, for her help, should I take Pat out for breakfast?

Link to more Bird Watching

Photo by PH

Friday, April 25, 2014

The Workshop

"gray barn board"

It's worth the effort. That is, to take five minutes to drive over to Handley Lumber Mill while visiting in Fenelon Falls. To ask the manager if I can get barn board, gray on both sides, enough to fill my trunk.

Back home in London, I use it for birdhouses and roofing material (3/8th inch slats), and it is by far some of the nicest pine I work with week to week.

And recently, after cutting the gray barn board into various parts for duplexes, I had one piece left over for a small birdhouse repair.

Worth the effort? I think so.

Link to The Workshop 

Photos GH

"acting up" 2

The Horton Street Drama Club was desperate - they were half way through the schedule of rehearsals for their latest production and 'Bill' had to leave for knee surgery - so they quickly approved my thin application for his part in their latest production 'Grandma and her House Boys'.

["I play 'Gord', one of the house boys, and do a lot of dishes"] 

["I taped my lines inside The London Yodeller. Poifect."]

The producer changed 'Bill' to 'Gord' in the script and away I went, with visions of fun, fame and Hollywood on the near horizon. And I was told the script was a guideline only and I could say what felt most natural.

Cool, I thought.

So, during Wednesday's dress rehearsal, in front of half a house, instead of saying "How is Tuesday at 9:00 AM?" to a cleaning lady (for an interview), I said, "Saturday at 9 PM is good for me, Babes."

["I actually have a dentist's appt. Tuesday at 9 AM"] 

The cast was flabbergasted. But the audience chuckled.

And that's exactly what I was going for.

Next stop... Bollywood!

["Today's the big day. Trip to the Big Time"]

Link to acting up 1

Photos GH

Thursday, April 24, 2014

"acting up"

Gord's Journal

["Joan and Diane give Gord the gears about his apron"]

I thought I looked 'sixty, sexy and sassy'!

Photo JH

"squirrels mean more work"

Spring planting is lots of work. This spring it feels like twice as much because I already planted the bird feeder in a new spot - to thwart the squirrels - about a week ago. But one particular black squirrel - must be an out-of-towner, with giant muscles - can jump the new distance from my fence or shed roof.

Back to the drawing board for me. A replant is in order.

(If the black squirrel is reading this, allow me to say, I'll get you this time!)

link to squirrels mean work

Photo GH

Gord's Journal

What will be the consequences of stripping the air and oceans of predators?

"nature out of balance"

iPad GH

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Workshop

Warmer weather, at last! I can work outside and watch the dust float into my neighbours' yards.

["Everything is within easy reach outside the shop"]

["Four duplexes, from cedar and barn board, are underway"] 

["Stacked and ready for sanding"]

Some jobs, however, are still best done indoors.

["A seven-plex is ready for primer"]

Progress in the shop will be monitored daily. And photographed, and mentioned, and mentioned again...

Link to The Workshop

Photos GH