Thursday 26 January 2012

Why Rose is Sad

All I said was: "Why is Rose so Sad?"

French looked at me.  Took a long swig of his Miller Lite and explained.

Rose lived at home with two of her three brothers and her mother.  Her dad was killed when she was a little kid. Her older sister had left home to go to college; early childhood education, I think.  Her oldest brother was off working - out of province.  Her mother got sick when Rose was 16 and went into the hospital.  She'd been working under the table and lost her job when she stopped showing up to work.  With no rent they lost the house.

One of her brothers went off to live with the oldest brother out east.  The youngest brother was 15 and he went "couch surfing".  Roses's mother went into a women's shelter.  Rose wanted to keep going to school so she moved into a friend's basement.

He continued after a long pause and the rest of his beer:

They have never been together as a complete family again.  Rose's family is scattered across the country.

Friday 20 January 2012

Bob Bateau

I met someone that I've wanted to meet for a long time this morning. Being Canadian, it was at Tim Hortons.

There is this guy that runs from Orleans, in the east end of Ottawa, all the way past St.Laurent street. I drive past him daily. This is a run of over 20km; twice a day, every work day. Today was -17 with a windchill of -27. He was still running to work.

His name is Bob Bateau. He is an acquaintance of Pancake's Dad, so I knew a little bit of information along with his name. Pancake's Dad told me that he is an ultra marathon runner. Bob will actually enter events where you run for 24 hours straight.

We were in line and I chatted with him for a bit and then asked him if he ever went into a meditative, mystical, or spiritual state while running these great distances.

He looked at me like I was mental and said: "No I just run."

Wednesday 18 January 2012

on Good News, Pumping Iron and Ping Pong

My kids are in to ping-pong recently (real ping-pong not Wii ping-pong).  French and I once found a broken ping-pong table on garbage day.  Bruce Fish helped us fix it up and put some wheels on it.  We rolled it back to French's place.

He lived in a small wartime house, so we had to put it into his garage.  I'd never been in there before, but I'd always wondered why they never parked their car inside.  French's dad saw us coming up the driveway with this beat up ping-pong table and he came out on the porch and said: "Where the fuck you putting that?"

French said: "garage".

French's dad came down off the porch and opened the garage door.  There was a bench press in the middle of the garage.  There was a bar set up on it just stacked with weights.  The bar was bending under the mass of weight on either end.  There was a ragged copy of the Good News Bible sitting on it, as well.

He laughed and said: "If you can bench that you can have the garage."

There was no chance that I could do it, so French gave it a go.  He spit on his hands and got in position.  French could just barely move it. 

His dad slipped into place once French gave up.  He lit a cigarette and benched the stack of almost 300 pounds eight times.  He'd bring it down inhale his smoke, then press it up and exhale a cloud of smoke. 

It was all part of his system.  He'd walk his route as a mailman, walk home, head to the garage, turn on CJET country radio, read the Good News Bible (that French got at his confirmation), and lift weights.

Somedays we'd play ping-pong outside if the weather was good.

Friday 13 January 2012


This video has taken YouTube by storm:

All of my friends had a look at it and it sure caused some contention in our group.  Sweaty just shrugged it off.  Pancake said he liked the camera angles.  Bruce Fish thought the guy was "right on the money".  This caused Rose Fish to get a little heated with him.  She accepted most of it, but really took exception to him saying that he "hates religion". Her belief is that word is too strong. 

French seemed to like it and said that: "He was never one to let religion get in the way of his faith."

This message does resound in me, to a degree.  I have "hated" religion, or at least Church for most of my life.  I went back to church in 2008 and even got baptised in November of that year.  However I still stuggle with religion.  I squirm a bit when people call me religious, or ask me if I work at a religious camp.

I never know how to answer the question: "Are you religious?"  Maybe this video can be my answer.

Published to...

Thursday 12 January 2012

Pumping Iron

French came by last night.  It was kinda late.  I was just folding some sheets after the kids were in bed.  He was still wearing his work clothes.  I expected him to want to go to my garage and have a few beers.  French knows that I always keep a few cans in my tool kit.

Instead he said: "wanna pump some iron?"

I said: "sure."

We went down in my basement and started to dust off my old bench press.  French found one of my bars and started to load it with weights.  There were scattered dumbbells all over the place and we gathered them up.  After a few minutes we had the makings of a gym.  We even dug up a curl bar and a triceps bar.  It was the same stuff I had back in high school.  That was the last time I'd worked out with French.

I slid a cassette into my Sony ghetto blaster and we started to lift.  He wanted to do a circuit of arms and chest.  We "pumped iron" for just over 1/2 and hour; at which point he said "he had to go."  He rushed out to his car; sweaty, and still wearing his tie.

I feel better today than I have in a long time.

Wednesday 11 January 2012

One Million Dollars

French got a rare bit of supply work as a temporary history teacher recently.  It was great to see him again in a "professional" environment. 

We got the chance to brown bag it up in the staff room.  Now in the staffroom there are certain conversations that seem to reoccur in an almost cyclical fashion.  One of them is: "What would you do if you won a lottery?"  They reigned it in at the standard 1 million dollars.

Each teacher took their turn explaining how they would deal with the new found wealth.  All of them were very serious: new kitchen, mortgage payments, investing...maybe a bit of travelling.  The older ones with only a few years left...quitting!

There was a lull in the conversation and French jumped in: "Ah hell I'd spend it all in one crazy weekend in Vegas."

The other teachers were shocked and horrified.  One of them even said in a very concerned voice: "You can' shouldn't."  They all started giving him financial advice about how to deal with his riches.  Each one tried to set him straight with heaps of sage advice.

When we left he chuckled all the way back to his Ancient Civilizations class.