Sixteen Candles

Today marks six­teen years that Kath­leen and I have been mar­ried. Man, the time just flies by, don’t it, when you’re in love?

Hap­py anniver­sary to us.

October is Busy

Things to do in October:

  • pre­pare a talk for a con­fer­ence (pos­si­bly)
  • write
  • run a judo tournament
  • write some more
  • apply for a men­tor­ship program
  • sub­mit some writing
  • read & cri­tique a friend’s novel
  • start work on a Word­Press plugin
  • write a review of anoth­er friend’s nov­el*
  • make sure my judo points sheet is up to date
  • write a lit­tle more
  • suit up for a friend’s wedding

And still hold down my day job, teach judo two nights a week, show movies at the Evans, attend week­ly dance class­es, bi-week­ly Write Club meet­ings, and main­tain my sun­ny disposition.

I miss summer.

How’s your autumn lookin’?




* The short review: It’s amaz­ing. Read it. (Chad­wick, the longer review is still com­ing, honest.)

Notes from judo class tonight

  • I may need to order some belts before the next grading.
  • Bas­ket­ball prac­tice down­stairs is loud enough with­out the stereo.
  • It’s real­ly nice to hear some­one tell you they appre­ci­ate all the years you’ve been volunteering.
  • It nev­er occurred to me that instruct­ing at judo is vol­un­teer­ing, but of course it is.
  • Since when is Europe’s “The Final Count­down” a big hit again?
  • Half an hour of ne-waza ran­dori is lots, thanks.

A blast from the past

…in more ways than one.

When I was in Uni­ver­si­ty, there was a girl I knew that had a book called 10,000 Dreams Inter­pret­ed*. She point­ed one out to me, and it became my favourite dream ever:

To see a horse in human flesh, descend­ing on a ham­mock through the air, and as it nears your house is meta­mor­phosed into a man, and he approach­es your door and throws some­thing at you which seems to be rub­ber but turns into great bees, denotes mis­car­riage of hopes and use­less endeav­ors to regain lost valu­ables. To see ani­mals in human flesh, sig­ni­fies great advance­ment to the dream­er, and new friends will be made by mod­est wear­ing of well-earned hon­ors. If the human flesh appears dis­eased or freck­led, the mis­car­riage of well-laid plans is denoted.


Lit­tle did I know — until today — that that book was first pub­lished in 1901, and that dream’s been haunt­ing peo­ples’ minds ever since then.


* Or some­thing to that effect. Come on, this was 15+ years ago. Some­times I have a hard time remem­ber­ing where I put the cord­less phone ten min­utes ago.**

** Until it rings.

All of a sudden

Things change in a twin­kling some­times. My judo sen­sei, who has had can­cer for a year and a half — maybe longer, I can’t remem­ber what year it began — died this morn­ing at 2 AM.

I saw him on Wednes­day, and he looked fine, if a lit­tle thin. Now he’s gone, and I still can’t quite believe it.

hey genius

Open let­ter to who­ev­er it was dri­ving a green car head­ed west on Van Horne at about 70 km/h today just after noon:

Slow down.

As you can’t help but know, you almost hit me. Notice how your brakes did­n’t do the slight­est thing to slow your head­long trav­el? That’s because it’s win­ter here, with snow at the inter­sec­tions, and fresh snow every­where. These things impede fric­tion, which cars need in order to stop.

You should be thank­ing God—as I am—that there was no traf­fic in the lane I had to pull into to avoid get­ting smashed by you. Even if you’re an athe­ist you should be thank­ing God. Also you should be thank­ful that you did­n’t hit the mini­van behind me either.

You should be thank­ful that I did­n’t get your license plate num­ber. I was too busy veer­ing out of my lane, and then after that I was in an adren­a­line haze, and then after that I was shaky and just want­ed to get home. If I’d got­ten your plate num­ber, I’d be on the phone to the police right now. I kind of hope the peo­ple in the van got it, but I doubt it.

I hope, too, that you wet your pants, and drove home in a pud­dle of cool­ing piss. Not very Christ­massy, but then nei­ther were the names I called you, either.

If you’re feel­ing remorse­ful about how you near­ly ran me down today, I have the solu­tion: Go to the police sta­tion. Ide­al­ly have some­one else dri­ve you, since evi­dent­ly you have no clear idea what you’re doing. Hand over your dri­ver’s license, and tell them you won’t be need­ing it any­more, at least for a few years. Get a bus pass. Sell your car.

There’s no excuse. Win­ter did­n’t just start today. Even if you’re new to this coun­try, or even this part of this coun­try, you’ve had a few weeks to prac­tice your win­ter dri­ving. The STOP sign was clear­ly marked. The speed lim­it is well below how fast you were going.

Well, I guess I’m done shout­ing into the wind. I hope you learned some­thing from this. If not, I hope I nev­er, in all my life, encounter you again.

Thanks for not killing me, no mat­ter how hard you tried.

Gramma J

Y ddraig goch

My last remain­ing grand­moth­er died last week. It was fast; she went in her sleep the night after she’d been admit­ted to the hospital.

I deliv­ered the eulo­gy, pre­sent­ed here in edit­ed form:

Ladies, gen­tle­men, friends, and family:

We gath­er here today to mourn the loss of my Gram­ma, Jeanne Johan­neson, but more impor­tant­ly, we gath­er to cel­e­brate her life.

Jeanne Olwen Gilliam was born March 24th, 19XX. Orphaned at a young age, she was raised by her aunt, Inez King­dom, in Ten­by, Pem­brokeshire, Wales.

Dur­ing her nurse’s train­ing, Gram­ma met George Johan­neson, a sol­dier who had been wound­ed dur­ing the Sec­ond World War. They were mar­ried in Sus­sex, Eng­land, and moved to Cana­da, where they lived.

(If you don’t mind, from here on out, I’m going to call them Gram­ma and Gram­pa — I don’t recall ever call­ing them Jeanne or George in my life.)

Gram­ma was an avid gar­den­er. Mom was always impressed by–not to say a lit­tle envi­ous of–her flowerbeds, espe­cial­ly her ros­es. I remem­ber one year when Gram­ma grew a rose in such a dark pur­ple shade it might as well have been black.

She always seemed have a pet, too. At least one. She was par­tial to Siamese cats for rea­sons I don’t think I’ll ever under­stand — they seemed to like her, but I nev­er got any­thing from them but grief. She was also fond of Welsh Cor­gis — the Queen’s dogs. I remem­ber her lit­tle dog Taffy, play­ing end­less­ly with that slob­bery ball of his. I also remem­ber Rex, the first dog of hers that I can recall.

Gram­ma loved her British humour — Mon­ty Python, Fawl­ty Tow­ers, Ben­ny Hill, all the old clas­sics. My sis­ters and I shared this enjoy­ment, though my dad does­n’t. My sis­ters and I would some­times joke that maybe that par­tic­u­lar gene skipped a generation.

A lot of my mem­o­ries of Gram­ma cen­tre on the Christ­mas sea­son. I remem­ber Gram­ma’s tri­fle — such a deli­cious dessert that I even­tu­al­ly learned to make my own — and what we refer to as Gram­ma tarts, which I’m informed are real­ly “maid-of-hon­our tarts”, and the ham she’d cook. I remem­ber the Christ­mas lights she had, the ones with water in them that would bub­ble once they’d got hot enough.

Gram­ma was a fan of the Roy­al Fam­i­ly, too. Some­times it seemed like half the dec­o­ra­tions in her house were green Wedg­wood; half of what remained seemed ded­i­cat­ed to Queen Eliz­a­beth and her family.

I still have the big black-and-yel­low wool blan­ket that she bought in Wales for me when I was just a wee one. It’s great, and so-o-o‑o warm.

Jeanne Johan­neson has gone on ahead of us, at the age of XX. She will be missed. She will always be loved.