Week 53

Ok before anyone gets confused on calendars and weeks here is the 4-1-1 from epochconverter.com.

Week 53 is from Monday December 28, 2015 until (and including) Sunday January 3, 2016. Week number according to the ISO-8601 standard, weeks starting on Monday. The first week of the year is the week that contains that year’s first Thursday (First 4-day week). So there is our explanation. Are you getting paid for a 53 week work year? Hmmm

What a busy week! On Christmas Eve, Emma, Olivia, Liam and Geoff came over for supper and a visit. We had tourtiere and salad for supper. We played a trivia board game called “bezzerwizzer” and hung out for a few hours visiting. We had a great visit but we broke it up so Santa would have time to plant some gifts under the tree and fill our stockings.

On Christmas morning we got up a little later than usual, made some coffee and peeked into our stockings to catch a glimpse of some small gifts Santa had left for us. Lori’s parent Marge and Gabe arrived about the same time as we got our first cup of java and very shortly after that Emma, Olivia and Liam arrived. The whole gang was here. We all grabbed our coffee, or reloaded our coffee and got a seat in the living room. I like to hand out one and sometimes two gifts at the most, at any given time. This gives everyone an opportunity to see what the others received and to see the facial expressions that accompany the opening. It also makes the morning last a little longer than if we were having a free for all.

I thought I had picked this “tradition” up from my father but my oldest sister, MJ, told me it was far crazier at Christmas, opening the gifts, when we were just kids growing up, in Fort Saint John. So now I have no idea where I got this method of handing out one gift at a time. I actually don’t remember too many Christmases from my childhood. I do remember one year dad made us all line up, from shortest to tallest, outside the living room and we could see nothing in the living room because dad had tacked an old grey blanket across the entrance way . When we had all lined up according to our heights and we had stopped fidgeting and pushing and fighting he took the blanket down and let us in to see the work Santa had done. Back in my living room now, we handed out gifts and I try to do it so we don’t go back to back on one person but try to spread it out so everyone gets a gift before we go back to the first person. I’m confident we were all spoiled a little bit. It was a good morning. The kids gave me a wet shave kit and all the gear. A really nice black handle razor and a black handle shaving cream brush. I’ve been looking at this stuff for a couple of years but never pulled the trigger. I’m glad the kids did it for me. I already shaved with it once, on Boxing Day, and there was no blood at all. It was a successful shave!! I haven’t used it more because I’m on break from the office and I am not shaving. I am protesting shaving. I also got a book of John Lennon’s collected artwork from the kids. This book has some really great drawings and hand written song lyrics from John’s childhood days as far back as pre-school up until his death

lennon

My very good friend Raf K. gave me a book titled “Not Fade Away” and it had a kind message inscribed. I will definitely give a more detailed review of the book when I’m done. I just finished chapter 5 last night. The subtitle of the book is “A Short Life Well Lived”.

Marge and Gabe headed out and over to my sister-in-law’s for supper. Emma, Olivia and Liam headed back to their mothers to open gifts and to have supper with her. Geoff went to Julia’s folks place for supper and Lori and I went to Mary Jane’s for Christmas supper where there were about 16 of us. We had turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing and all the trimmings. Oh and Pawel brought perogies that his mother made. I need more of those. The cheese ones!

MJ sent us home with Christmas cakes and Debbie gave me a very cool metal work picture of the Dingman #1 well   which was the first successful well drilled in Turner Valley, Alberta. This was long before Alberta became the oil province it is today. When my father left the RCN at the end of World War 2 he moved to Turner Valley to work in the oil industry. It wasn’t until the mid 50’s that he moved the family up north to Fort Saint John, BC to work at the new refinery in Taylor BC, 12 miles south of Fort Saint John. The artwork Debbie gave me is a replica of the picture you will see when you follow the Dingman link.

On Boxing Day we were off to Marge and Gabe’s for supper. A terrific feast anchored by a roast of beef! I would have eaten more if I could have eaten more but I was full; although I did manage to eat a slice of lemon meringue pie.

The rest of the week was just chillin and going to the dog park ,hanging out and getting small things done.

I had some time to think about Christmases past and I don’t recall many occasions or situations. No bad times; no good times. I suspect it just has a lot to do with Christmas being different when I was a kid in the sense there were no big malls or such overt commercialism. Don’t get me wrong. I very much enjoy the Christmases of today. The time with my family is priceless and the older I get the more important these moments are to me. My parents really never had any money so there’s no big ass old memory of some fantastic gift or vacation. Not that gifting is everything but there just wasn’t many. I don’t recall traditions or habits that we did as a family. There was Church, but as a Catholics that had just become another event to dread, not something to look forward to. So I imagine I was just like any other kid in Fort Saint John, playing road hockey 12 hours a day and being thankful to not be in school! We weren’t poor. At least I don’t think we were. There was just never any “extra” money around the house. I don’t have any Christmas photos from those days either to jog my memory whereas today I insure there are many photos. I do remember one time my father took me to the Rexall drug store downtown on Main Street, beside the Fort Hotel, so I could buy my mother a gift. It seems to me I was about 5 or 6 years old at that time. I searched the aisles and finally settled on what was bound to be her best Christmas present that year and possibly the best Christmas present she would ever receive. It was a candle. A candle in a red glass, cone shaped, cylinder. I don’t remember my mother’s reaction but I am sure she admired that candle just enough to make me feel like I had accomplished the job of getting her the best present ever. I reckon that since I can recall a few good moments it isn’t so awful that I do not remember more. Have you maintained some Christmas traditions? Have you started new ones?

Christmas 2015 is in the books now but the giving doesn’t have to stop. Locally there are so many good places to do some giving and in this very harsh economy all the charities in Calgary could use some help if you can give some to them. I not only give locally to a couple of charities in the city I also give globally. One is to Friends of Haiti (Canada), where I am helping a young man get an education. It doesn’t take a lot to put someone through school in Haiti but it’s too much money for them. It’s a very poor country but you can put a kid through school for $30 for a full year. You can put someone through University for about $400 a year. Let me know if you’re interested because my wife is on the Board and I can send you a e-pamphlet. 98% of all money goes directly to the recipient in Haiti. I also give to Canadian Humanitarian  and I make micro loans through Kiva. I have been lending money through Kiva for four years now and I have been repaid 100% of the time. Through Kiva I have basically been cycling the same $300 for the four years I have been active. I lend it. It gets paid back. I lend it again. Check these charities out but please don’t forget to help at home too.

Tonight Lori and I will celebrate New Year’s Eve by taking in the hockey game. The Calgary Flames versus the Los Angeles Kings to celebrate the New Year!  The Flames set an all time team record on the 27th by winning their 11th consecutive home game. That’s where it ended though as they let the Anaheim Ducks win one. The hockey game is my speed for a New Years Eve celebration. As an ex-drinker I always considered New Years Eve to be amateur hour and I stayed home safe from the messes….oops, I mean masses.

I hope your Christmas was a memorable one and here is to 2016! May the price of a barrel of oil stay above the price of a case of beer…..

 

The song this week is from The Felice Brothers titled Frankie’s Gun 

The quote this week is a quote I have taken from a blog I follow. The blog is www.mitchteemley.com

“When suffering comes,we yearn for some sign from God , forgetting we have just had one”

Mignon Mclaughlin

That’s it….hope to see you next week…..

 

Week 52

Week 52

Today is Christmas Eve and I want to wish all of you a Merry Christmas from our home to yours. My wish of a Merry Christmas to you is a wish that represents a wish of love, hope, forgiveness and peace.

On Sunday the 20th the kids came over to decorate the tree. Emma, Olivia, Liam and Geoff and Geoff’s girlfriend Julia were here. It’s difficult to have a better day than a day when all the kids are over. The tree was already standing as Lori had taken care of that a few days before. The boys and I got the bins of decorations down from the shelves in the garage and brought them inside for all to pick through and hang decorations on the tree. I don’t have a favorite decoration per se. I did have an elf that my Godmother gave me about 50 years ago and I don’t know where it went. It disappeared about 5 years ago. Everyone pitched in although Emma, as usual, takes the lead and makes sure the tree gets finished. We sat down afterwards to a supper of chicken parmigiana, spaghetti, caesar salad and garlic toast. An awesome supper thanks to my wife!

Left to Right

Julia,Geoff,Lori, Olivia , Emma , Liam and I’m seated.

 

Christmas tree 15

Then the evening took a bad bad turn when we broke out the game “Things”. This is a game you only play with trusted friends and family and don’t tell others what was said. Mildly put this game is way off colour and way off the straight and narrow. I laughed so damn hard when I heard people’s answers. Play the game at your own peril. Hahaha

That was Sunday. I worked Monday through Wednesday and other than a couple of critical year end items to clear up prior to holidays it was a quiet and short work week. I’m at home now until January 4th and it’s a rest I really need. It’s been a tough year . Just not having to shave everyday is a treat!

This morning was the 19th annual AA Christmas Eve Breakfast put on by the White Sheep Group here in Calgary. It’s not a closed event for AA members only and friends and family are most certainly welcome. There were more kids this year than I have seen before. That’s always great to see at an AA event. It represents the reunification or rebuilding of family for so many members, men and women, who had destroyed their familial relationships. There was plenty of visiting by everyone prior to the open mic hour. Calgary is a large city and many of these people in AA are people I only see at functions once or twice a year.

The greatest Christmas gift I ever received was the gift of sobriety.It was only through the Grace of God that I am sober. Through my sobriety and because of it I am able to enjoy every other gift that I have received in my life.My family.

In a few hours the kids will be over again. We’ll have our Christmas Eve visit , drinks and food and I am sure some board game will be played .Three of the kids will spend the night with their mother in the west end and will come back tomorrow morning to exchange and open gifts. I think but I’m not sure, that Geoff is spending the night here. My in-laws, Marge and Gabe will stop over tomorrow for some breakfast and to exchange gifts. We’ll get a chance for a coffee and a nice visit.

On Christmas Day Lori and I will go to my sisters, Mary Jane’s home, for supper. Three of the kids will have supper with their mother and Geoff is having Christmas supper this year with his girlfriend Julia and her family.

On Boxing Day we’ll go to the mall to cash in on all the Boxing Day sales…….no, no, no (that’s emphatic) I am kidding. If you know me you know I’m not going close to a mall on the 26th. Boxing Day is a great day to chill, enjoy the rest and deal with the hangover of Christmas. We will go to my in-laws home on Boxing Day for a brunch which is always a great opportunity to enjoy Marge’s cooking and overindulge in food.

 

I have two songs of the week this week. The first song was one I only heard three days ago and it’s sung by “Disturbed” front man David Draiman. It’s Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Sounds of Silence”. The following is an excerpt from Blabbermouth.net:

“According to Billboard.comDISTURBED‘s cover of SIMON & GARFUNKEL‘s classic “The Sound Of Silence” has landed at No. 1 of Billboard‘s Hard Rock Digital Songs chart, with 11,000 downloads sold in the tracking week ending December 17. The track also jumped 18-12 on the Hot Rock Songs chart.”

The Sound of Silence

What a great, but haunting take on a 50 year old classic.

 

The next song is a traditional Christmas hymn that has always been one of my favorites since I was a child. Sung by Jewel it’s “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”  

 

The quote this week is from Calvin Coolidge:

Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas.

 

That’s it for this week and from our home to your home we wish you and your families a Very Merry Christmas.

 

I hope to see you again next week………………………

 

Week 51

Hello there. I’m glad to see you if you’re a first timer and thanks for coming back if you’ve been here before.

Lori and I power shopped at Chinook Shopping Center last Saturday. That place is crazy any time but at Christmas it’s crazy, on steroids. Ten days prior to this excursion we made our plans to go. I require this much time ahead of the event so I can do a head job on myself to treat my ADD, OCD and Anxie-D. So off we went after my Saturday morning home group meeting ,as my most spiritual self and we did it. The mall was great. All the festive decorations, the jingle of those Sally Ann bells and the music, quiet but always heard in the background of conversations.

That night we went to my brother-in-law’s 70th birthday party. My sister Susan, Jeff’s wife, had rented a suite at The Westin in downtown Calgary for the celebration. It was a celebration in a couple ways. Not only did Jeff turn 70 but he has had lung cancer for a number of years so a 70th birthday is something that wasn’t really planned too far ahead. I’m glad it was in the cards. Jeff’s a great guy and he’s looking great.He’s got a great attitude and a great laugh. There was a ton of good food. A brisket, curry chicken breast, shrimp, cheese and crackers and lots to drink both alcoholic and non-alcoholic. Family members galore and some good close friends too. Great party and well done Sue!

How about the Flames? Come on folks. That’s 7 wins in a row!! Hell they might even make it into the playoffs this year. Ha-Ha. Seriously this city loves hockey and most of us, with the exception of those transplants from Edmonton and Vancouver, love to see the Flames winning. Calgary loves hockey! The Flames may not be the best team in the league but they have heart and youth and some really exciting players. The goal-tending blows but there’s a rumor they may be picking up Bernier from Toronto. Go Flames!

We’re winding down year end at work and I am definitely looking forward to a few days off over Christmas to relax. We’ll all go to MJ’s house for Christmas supper this year. Yes I am looking forward to a few days off, some relaxation, family and friends and recharging my physical batteries. Maybe we can get out for a snow shoe.We have no plans except to enjoy some down time.

As the world winds down the year I want to take up the rest of this post with some videos that I found inspiring, funny or interesting in 2015 and I want to share them with you. I hope you have time to watch them. If not please come back when you have more time because I really think they are worth watching.

 

The first video is called Love Has No Labels-Diversity & Inclusion

The second video is from Jimmy Kimmel Live and is his Mean Tweets –President Obama Edition

The third video is a Budweiser Super Bowl commercial titled Best Buds. I’m a sucker for dogs.

The fourth video is  Conor McGregor with an impromptu interview with TMZ. And I posted it because of my Irish heritage and McGregor may be my favorite Irishman, today.

The fifth video is one I like because I love it when adults still find the kid in them and they aren’t embarrassed to let it out. Plastic ball prank

Well I hope you enjoyed some or all of the videos. It’s not something I would make a habit of but its year end and these were some of my favorites of 2015.

 

The song this week is from Randall Bramblett and its titled Every Saint

And this week’s quote is from Alice Cooper

The two most joyous times of the year are Christmas morning and the end of school.

 

I really hope to see you next week….it’ll be Christmas Eve. Take care until then.

 

 

 

Week 50

The Christmas season has arrived in full swing with seasonal music on the streets and in the buildings, the jingle of the Salvation Army bells in the mall, craft sales, bake sales and company parties.

I like it. I like the festive season. Coming home at night from work and driving into my neighborhood to see all the yard decorations and all the homes lit up with lights gives me a feeling of happiness. The Christmas trees in the front windows of homes, completely decorated and trimmed, with most of them posing a star or an angel on the top. It’s a magnificent time of year when Christians celebrate the birth of Christ and non-Christians in Christian countries celebrate Christmas in their own ways.

There isn’t the same joy in the season for everyone. Some people struggle at Christmas with emotions of loss, loneliness and grief. Struggling with the lack of financial ability to celebrate Christmas buying gifts for loved ones.Struggling with addictions.

In AA we will have some 24 hour meetings on the 24th and 25th in Calgary. Places where newcomers who have hair triggers can surround themselves in the care of the fellowship. These meetings will have food and beverages to be shared with everyone . But most of all they will be filled with people who understand and can empathize with the newcomer. Twenty three years ago I spent my first sober Christmas at the Garnett Block meeting. I was there for the day, by myself but never alone. I’m not without family.I have a great family and could have easily been with them. And I was welcomed to be with them. But you see I hadn’t figured out how to spend time with them. I hadn’t yet learned to celebrate anything without alcohol.I hadn’t learned yet to do anything unless it included drinking. I clearly remember my mother telling me to just do what I felt was best for me that day. Her only concern is that I had stopped drinking and she wanted me to stay stopped. Many people who will be at these meetings over Christmas don’t have the opportunity I had. They don’t have family at all or the family they do have is far away. I had a very successful day that day so long ago and will be celebrating my 23rd sober Christmas this year. And the very most cool part of it all is I will be celebrating it with my family. My mother is no longer with us but I have a very large family here in Calgary that I will be spending the day with.I look forward to spending Christmas with my family.

It’s not just people in recovery though who don’t have a place to go. Calgary is a city that people, from all across Canada, come to in search for work. Many of them have no family at all or if they do have family their family is far away. This can be a lonely time for them.

If you have an extra place at your table this year reach out to someone who is alone.Invite them to come and join you at your home .If you can spare some money listen for the jingle of those Salvation Army bells. Call the food bank and ask them what they need. Call the Drop Inn Centre and see if they need anything. There are so many ways to help others during this season of what can be a very difficult time for some. These things would make Jesus smile. And you don’t have to be Christian to be kind. Anyone can help during this season. Reach out.

 

The song this week is my favorite Christmas song sung by my favorite non conformist

 

Silent Night by Miley Cyrus

 

 

The quote this week is from H.Jackson Brown,Jr.

“Live so that when your children think of fairness,caring and integrity, they think of you”

 

 

I hope to see you next week………

 

 

 

Week 49

I had a friend pass away on Tuesday so this event has more or less consumed my thought for the week. I am not fixated on death nor too fearful of it but the way Chris died has been very unsettling for me.

I received an email from a mutual friend on Monday saying after enduring a few weeks of back pain Chris had gone to the hospital emergency last Tuesday the 24th of November. They ran some tests and on the 27th it was determined Chris had Leukemia and it was aggressive. Later that day, Monday, another email came in from the same friend and Chris was admitted to ICU and now was unconscious. Tuesday morning I received an email saying they had removed Chris from the respirator and on Tuesday afternoon another email came through saying Chris had passed on.

It was all so fast. Chris never had time to deal with anything as he died very shortly after being told he had cancer. The doctor apparently said to his sister that he had only seen cancer this aggressive twice in his 30 years practising medicine.

So Chris got a real shitty deal in my view. No goodbyes. He was single and had no kids. We met in college in 1986. He was a big man with a big heart. He never said an unkind word about anyone. He would actually be able to say kind things about people who no one else would give a moment to. He worked for the National Energy Board when we graduated and about 10 years ago made his way to Victoria to work for the BC Oil and Gas Commission. He wasn’t around as much but he made it back for occasions like our 25th graduation reunion. He was just a good guy 100% of the time. He will be sorely missed by all of us.

So yes Chris’ passing is unsettling to me because of how quickly everything happened. For him and also for his friends. I got an email Monday morning to tell me Chris was very sick and 4 emails later on Tuesday afternoon Chris was dead.

I’m a bit angry and troubled right now. I asked a mutual friend, Dale, for Chris’ email address on Monday morning. Hell I never had a chance to think about phoning or writing. He was gone. I’m finding the speed with all that has passed to be difficult today, for me.

It’s very sad.

Dale sent me this great picture of Chris!

chris

Tomorrow our graduating class is having a Christmas lunch at Eau Clare Market. I hope there’s a good turnout.I’d like to say hello.

 

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The song this week is a Beatles tune . My Life from the album Rubber Soul released in 1965

 

The quote this week is from George Santayana 

“There is no cure for birth and death save to enjoy the interval.”

 

I hope to see you next week………