Monday, June 23, 2008


What lasts and what doesn't; this fascinates me. So much changes with aging. Things that seemed relevant at a younger age now seem silly. This should apply to early music impressions, should it not? It doesn't seem to work that way for me. I suspect that I'm not unique. My musical "idols" in my 20's were Todd Rundgren , Van Morrison, John Lennon, David Bowie, Mark Knopfler, James Taylor, and Jesse Winchester. With aging, these stars don't seem to fade. Instead, these and many others, become more cherished as time passes. Many new performers keep appearing; I expect them to subtract from my pantheon. They don't; it keeps growing. That's wonderful!

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Keeping Pets

Sometime in the 80's I read "King Solomon's Ring" by Konrad Lorenz. This book , which is an account of Lorenz's study of animal behaviour, sparked my interest in observing animals at close hand - pets. I began with fish. I had a small aquarium with an assortment of tropical fish (and plants). I eventually decided that I would concentrate on African cichlids.

These are amazing fish. They establish their own territory, even within a small aquarium. They will alter this space to suit them by moving everything until it's just right.

Then came dogs; I've yet to have a successful dog experience.

Lastly, I wanted to observe parrots. I began with one green-cheeked conure in 1997. The next year I got a second (Jules (left) and Louis (right)). Aside from being very messy, these two are perfect pets.

They behave very much like 4 year old children. They fight, makeup, are best friends and then worst enemies. They have distinct personalities. They have a strong desire to belong to a group.
If you have only one, it's up you to be the "parent"; if you have two, you become a tolerated outsider.
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Monday, June 16, 2008

My Block At Night

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008


After moving in to the apartment building where we now live, I made the acquaintance of the person in the apartment directly opposite ours. He turned out to be an 80 year old man from Ballymena in Northern Ireland. He has lived by himself in this small apartment for some 30 years.
His apartment, as I first found it 3 years ago, had not seen any improvement in all that time.

My first impulse was to suggest a complete makeover. I soon realized that this was not on. Instead, I decided to suggest incremental changes. For example, he had a stove/oven on which only 1 of the 4 elements worked. I asked the management to replace it; they agreed but needed him to sign the request. This took 6 months on his part. Once he did, it was replaced within a few days.

Tom has taught me that you cannot suddenly burst into someone's life and ask them to change everything; if you value the person, you must respect their attitude toward change, even if these changes seem to you to reflect only "common sense". You cannot impose your own vision of life on someone else arbitrarily ; listen to them and take great care.
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Tuesday, June 10, 2008



Kate and the internet

The internet has changed our lives. Kate is a good example of this.

In the late 90's I began to submit photos to a site called Photocritique. This site afforded people the opportunity to have their photos critiqued by peers (other photographers). During this time, I began to correspond with one of the contributors, Kate. This correspondence, between two people who had never met, is, I think, a direct result of the internet.

Our exchanges have continued to this day. We have never met, and yet, I consider Kate a close friend. This has been made possible by the internet.

Saturday, June 07, 2008


In the past I thought that a large, land based garden was essential. It was essentially a small farm in which the goal was to produce as many fruit and vegetables as you needed for the summer and fall. The prime requirement for this kind of gardening was buying a house with a substantial lot.

My attitude toward this sort of enterprise has changed drastically as I've got older. While my passion for growing things has remained, I no longer find the need (or ability) to compete with local markets. I now find that growing large varieties of herbs, flowers and vegetables on a small scale is equally satisfying (not to mention far less work!).

Containers on our balcony now more than adequately fill my gardening needs that large (3m x 6m) plots did in the past. As, well as filling my needs, this type of gardening does not need a huge 25 year mortgage!

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Monday, June 02, 2008

Many Things

When I was asked to leave my matrimonial home 14 years ago, I left a house filled with many "treasured" things. All had been slowly gathered over the 25 years that the marriage lasted. My then wife suggested that nothing major be removed from the "home". I accepted this as it would make it "easier on the children". This was, of course, foolish, as "things" do not a family make.

In the aftermath of this event, I first found myself scrambling to assemble the basics - a chair, a table, a pan, etc.

I then determined to rebuild.

The irony of this "rebuilding" has now (14 years later) hit me - I have acquired more things than I need. Ah, that these lessons could be learned without a price!