Thursday 28 May 2009

A Tale Of Tess.

You hear remarkable tales about the bravery, the sheer determination of our pets, indeed, what I prefer to call, family members.  This is one such tale.  A tale of Tess.

It was the summer of 1986.   The World's Fair, Expo '86, was in full swing in downtown Vancouver.  Every night brought a spectacular fireworks display.  A visual and audio delight, for most.   From our apartment window, my wife and I could see the distant flashes and glows of the pyrotechnics extravaganza.
One night, we decided that it would be fun to witness the fireworks display from the very heart of all the activity.  So off we went in the car, along with Tess, our faithful, loving dog.  Block after city block, we travelled.  Busy roads, plenty of traffic, but we knew how to get to our final destination of False Creek. We both knew our way around Vancouver very well.
Upon our arrival, we proceeded to find a good vantage point to enjoy the evening of fireworks. All was well for the first few minutes.  We marvelled at the sights and sounds.  Then came a very loud boom and flash.  Tess panicked and wriggled her way out of her collar.  We stood there stunned as Tess fled in terror.  Now all we had was her lead still attached to her collar.

We called her name, "Tess! Tess!", all to no avail.  With our voices drowned out by the boom of the fireworks, a sense of hysteria, a real concern for her welfare, began to sink into our thinking process.    What are we going to do?  For ages we searched.  Then the awful reality hit us hard, we must go home, without our beloved dog.

The next day we went back to False Creek and put up several posters with a description of Tess and a contact number.  A few days later, we received a call from a lady who said that a dog fitting the description in the poster, had slept overnight on her porch with her cat.  However, the next morning, the dog had left.  Well, this was a glimmer of hope.  Maybe it was Tess.  Maybe she was alive.

As best one could, we went about our daily business.  Day upon day passed, a day became a week, a week became two, thoughts of Tess became more of a fleeting, yet no less painful thought.  I was about to go to work on the nightshift, only enough time to have a pork chop, before heading out the door.  'Scratch, scratch, thump'.  "What was that?"  We both said in unison.  The sound seemed to be coming from the door.  I rushed over, opened the door and Tess collapsed in the hallway.

Before us lay a terribly thin, bedraggled dog.  Barely able to walk, she limped into the living room.  The extremes of emotion experienced at the moment were so profound.  Joy, elation, admiration, love for a dog that had touched us in more ways than we could have ever imagined.   With tears streaming down my face, I hugged Tess and gave her my pork chop.

Block after city block, she must have wandered, dazed, hungry, scared, confused.  Yet with sheer determination and that uncanny sense that animals possess, she found her way home.  I look back on that very special night and it inspires me.   For if I can show half of the resilience that Tess displayed, I know that I can be a better human.
Then came the day when we had to make one of the hardest decisons of our lives.  We were moving to England and that meant the dreaded quaratine for dogs.  Tess would have to stay in a kennel for six months to be observed for any potential rabies.  We worried, that if we did this, what sort of a dog would she be after the six months.   Reluctantly, sadly, painfully we gave up Tess to a wonderful couple who we knew would provide her with much love.  That was late September 1987, and to this very day, I recall how heartbreaking it was when we drove away from her new home.   Her new life was beginning, our new life was beginning.

Whilst writing this blog, I've had to stop several times.  The tears have been welling up, for as I write this, I experience all those emotions  that happened so many years ago.   As I write this, I have been thinking about this final paragraph and how I would phrase it.  Last year I was in Vancouver and found out what became of Tess.  That couple loved and adored her, that I was assured.  One day Tess got out of their garden.  Poor Tess was run over, her life, a life that brought so much pleasure to others, was ended by an oncoming train.  I was devastated for all concerned.  Upon hearing the news, I visualised Tess in my mind.  I thought of a family member whose love was unconditional and never passed judgement.  A tale of Tess, never forgotten, always loved.

Wednesday 20 May 2009

'I've Bin To Yahk 'N Back.'

I've been to Yahk and back.  
Yahk, British Columbia, Canada.
A small town located 70 kilometres (44 miles) southwest of Cranbrook, British Columbia.  
Just another sleepy little town one could easily drive right by.  Then again, the enticement to stop and purchase a world famous: 'I've Bin to Yahk 'N Back' t-shirt can prove too hard to resist.
This most certainly proved to be the case as far as we, my partner Veronica and myself were concerned.   So we purchased two t-shirts and thought, 'what the heck, let's stay the night in the local campground'.  So we set up our tent and proceeded to do some wandering around.
In the distance, we could could hear the ever increasing thunder from the oncoming freight train. Realising that there was not much happening in Yahk; we thought it would be fun to watch the train as it clattered ever closer.  Boxcar after boxcar passed by.  It seemed to take ages until finally, boxcar, boxcar, caboose.  Soon the caboose was a distant speck and tranquil silence returned.
So that was the thrill of watching a train go by.  It was now time for us to get settled in for the evening at the Yahk provincial park campground.  Ah bliss!  The evening was drawing in, it was time to relax, to absorb the wonders of the natural environment.  The gentle breeze rustling through the trees, the soothing sound of the rushing river, the occasional crackle from the campfire, the distinctive roar of  Harley-Davidson motorcycles.  The what?
A group of bikers had descended upon the peaceful and serene camping community.  Were they quiet and unassuming?  Did they discreetly set up their tents without causing attention?  Did they heck.  These dudes and chicks were ready to party man!
So did we hide in our tent?  Or did we pose proudly in front of our 1973 Dodge Polara (our very own 'Smokie and the Bandit mobile')?  Well, maybe just a tiny bit to our own surprise, we posed beside our gas-guzzlin' beast of a car.  Hey, check us out bikers.   Suddenly the song 'Born to be wild', by Steppenwolf, started blasting in my head.
We were well and truly observed by them and they invited us over.  We thought it best that we take something to drink over to their campsite.  Anyway, being of generous nature, they proceeded to offer us beer after beer after...Then they noticed the bottle we had brought over.  "Hey man, how about sharing some of that vodka with us?" said one of the guys.  'Whoops', I thought, 'now we may just have a slight problem'.  The vodka bottle was actually full of water. We had used the empty vodka bottle to use for extra water supplies.  I explained this to them and suddenly a new song came into my head, 'Born to be mild'.  Stay calm and hope they will see the funny side of this.
They all laughed and some guy handed me yet another beer.  We had a great time that night, a memorable night that taught me some valuable lessons.  We cannot judge others by perceptions or misconceptions that have been ingrained into us by ignorance and assumption.  Yes they were loud, but I know they meant no harm to anyone.  They were just a bunch of folks having a good time.  Indeed, they were a group of friends who shared the freedom of the open road.  That, to me, is a great ideal.
Somewhat groggy, we woke up the next morning in our tent.  The sun was shining, the birds were singing, all was at peace with the world.  The bikers had gone but the memory of that brilliant night still resonates to this very day.  If you ever manage to visit Yahk, purchasing an 'Ive Bin to Yahk 'N Back' t-shirt is a must.   

Thursday 14 May 2009

Environmentally Friendly.

My garden became environmentally friendly.  It took a great amount of hard work, determination and a clear focus of what I wanted to create.  I had a dream and that dream was to transform my garden from a place of squalor to a place of splendour.  After countless hours of dedication, one man and his shovel, produced a sanctuary for his soul.  The birds, the bees and the butterflies discovered a place of harmonious tranquility.
We hear a lot about being environmentally friendly.  Making sure that we use goods and services that will have minimal impact on the environment.   We are asked to do our bit to conserve energy and recycle used products.  We are told that we should walk, use public transport, instead of using the car.  This is all well and good that our legacy should be that we leave a greener, cleaner planet for future generations.
But what about a positive environment?  Should this not be an ideal for all of us?  A negative environment can do great damage to the mind, body and soul.  Indifference, apathy, indeed to devalue the credibility of our fellow man, compounds the problem of a negative environment.   
Now is the time to think 'green' in our minds.  It's about making peace with our inner environment so that this, in turn, will make our outer environment a better place for all mankind.   We can become environmentally friendly to each other and reap the rewards of a world that embraces and rejoices in our individuality.  All different, all equal.
The cynic might argue that there is no point in having such altruistic visions because the world is beyond hope.  The cynic will tell us that people have their own self interests and only care about themselves.  With such attitudes, the lack of caring for our fellow man, can only intensify.  This would be very sad.
Some might say I'm delusional.  That we must be resided in the fact that those cynical of such ideals, will be proven to be correct.  So do we continue along the road to an increased negative inevitability?
Well I know and you know, that we do have a choice.  Together, we can become environmentally friendly, to save our planet from the impact of climate change.  Together, we can become environmentally friendly towards each other.   With inner peace, we shall exude outer peace that will produce that positive environment I so crave for all humanity. 

Wednesday 6 May 2009


This blog marks an anniversary for me. It is not my ninety-ninth blog, nor is it my one hundred and first blog, it is the number in between.
And now for something completely random. I shall now do a blog that has absolutely nothing to do with the title, or for that matter, the photograph. So, if you decide not to bother reading any further; I would most certainly understand. Those of you who do continue to read this blog, well done, or perhaps you are that bored, you want to see what transpires. Here we go, I have no idea what is going to happen.
"A metrosexual is a man who is meticulous about his appearance. He is always in fashion and very well groomed. Some people mistake a metrosexual for a gay guy." (source: Well then, so much for my definition of 'metrosexual'. Silly me, thinking that metrosexual was someone with rather bizarre fantasies about rapid transit. (you can come up with your own definition of 'metropolitan'). And when it comes to 'gay', well gee whiz, I'm old enough to remember when gay meant happily carefree . I mean really, I'm sure that Fred Flintstone and all the other folks in Bedrock were having a 'gay old time'.
If you are still here, lets continue on with this random ridiculous writing. Do you reckon that 'beginner witches' 'fly off the handle'? Do you think that attempt at a joke has some 'broom' for improvement? Did you know that it Britain they have trucks that are called 'articulated lorries'? How about that, well-spoken trucks. Did you hear about the rumour that they are thinking of setting up a new motorcar rally? You've read about the fellow who brought back tobacco and potatoes to Britain from 'the new world'? So rumour has it, we will soon be able to watch: 'The Sir Walter Rally'. In ending this disjointed paragraph, let me tell you this. In all the time I have lived in England, never has an officer of the law walked up to me and said: 'Hello, hello, hello, what's all this then?'
If you want to compliment someone really quickly, than may I suggest, you 'express' your appreciation. Do misbehaving marsupials with minor misdemeanours go to 'Kangaroo Court'? Okay then, I'm going now. Heading off to 'Area 51' (no, not to visit my relatives). Actually, I got this urge to throw a frisbee in front of their closed-circuit camera. I can count... 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7. 'But what about 6?' you may ask. Well, if the truth be known, I afraid of that number and daren't ask anything about it. You recommend I read what? 'Everything you always wanted to know about '6' but were afraid to ask.'
If you are still here..I thank you. Yet again, I finished last in the naked run at a major sporting event....oh when am I gonna' end this losing 'streak'......