Week 21, Long Weekends and Richard Rohr

The sun was shining every day of this past Victoria Day weekend and I can’t remember the last time that happened. We usually prepare for a spring snowfall on this May long weekend but not so this year. Every day was a beautiful,sunny and warm day. I pressure washed the outside of the house, the deck, the patio, the garage and the parking pad and cleaned off a couple shelves in the garage too.  Lori did a lot of work in the garden and yard. I also went through an old trunk of mine that is full of “stuff”. Mostly it’s all knickknacks’ and pictures from the past. These are things that only have sentimental value, which I want my kids to have, later. You know, when I’m gone. Ha-ha.  There’s crayon coloured placemats and tickets from concerts and sporting events that we attended. It’s just a bunch of “stuff”. I got caught up in it though.

Saturday night we met Samir and Kim at Aladdin’s Casbah .We had a fantastic supper and a visit that matched. Aladdin’s is a must if you’re from Calgary. Its south on MacLeod Trail at Avenida and worth the drive. This is not just the best Lebanese food in town this clearly some of the best food I’ve had in Calgary. If you’re not sure what to have I recommend starting with the tabouli and baba ganoush for appetizers and then order the mixed grill for a main course. If you go on Saturday night the belly dancer starts around 830-9 and you definitely want to be there for that! The food, the staff and the restaurant will have you planning your next visit to Aladdin’s .

I have a spot by some framed jerseys that needed some chairs but they had to be the right chairs to fit in with the sports jerseys. I said to Lori that I thought a couple of leather chairs would be the right fit. She got on Facebook ,checked into Calgary buy and Sell and immediately found two, brown distressed leather chairs that fit perfectly and I won’t say the price because it was such a good deal I almost feel guilty.

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This picture of me and the kids is from 1996. I found this while cleaning the garage on the weekend. Pure gold! It looks like we’re at Elbow Falls

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one of the pictures I found cleaning the garage. Emma,Me,Liam and Olivia

 

I’m presently taking a 9 week course from the Center for Action and Contemplation  . The course is “Breathing Underwater” and it’s to enhance the book by Father Richard Rohr titled Breathing Under Water ; Spirituality and the Twelve Steps. It’s been a great course and it’s given me a considerable amount of spiritual goods to reflect on. This is the second time this year I will have read this book. It’s been well worth my time.

I’m also reading Stephen King’s book , On Writing , Wayne Gretzky’s book Stories of the Game and I’m dabbling in a book of poetry my sister Nancy gave me for my birthday 2 weeks ago. It’s a book of poetry all based on Canada’s game, hockey! It’s called Hero of the Play I’ll get the first three finished by the first week of June and I’ll continue to dabble in the poetry book.

Cheers to the Nashville Predators for getting past Anaheim to be the first team in the Stanley Cup Final this year. This is their first ever appearance in a cup final in the 19 years they have been in the NHL. I’m really happy for the city and their fans and hope they do well. They now await the winner of game 7 between Ottawa and Pittsburgh. I would think if Ottawa ended up in the final it would be a nightmare for the NHL since Nashville and Ottawa are both small market teams and I can’t imagine there would be quite the TV interest that you might see in a NY Rangers versus Los Angeles Kings final. So I’m pulling for Ottawa and maybe we’ll see these two small market teams play for the Stanley Cup. Ottawa has won a Stanley Cup before but their last win was in 1927, long before the modern era.

 

The song this week is from the band Deer Tick and is titled Song About a Man

 

 

The quote this week is something I have had stored away in my file and I have no idea where I got it. But I like it.

If you had $86,400 in your account and someone stole $10 from you, would you be upset and throw the remaining amount $86,390 away at the person who took your $10? Of course not! The same way we have 86,400 seconds each day. Don’t let someone’s negative 10 seconds ruin the remaining 86,390 seconds of your day.

 

Thanks for dropping by and I hope to see you next week……………..

 

 

 

Week 20 & I Love To Write

I enjoy writing this blog. If no one dropped by, I would still do it but it’s far more enjoyable and rewarding to write when I know someone is reading it.

My weekly posts have now slowed down to every second week. Slowed is a misnomer.  I’m very busy and right now I’m not able to find the time to write on a weekly basis. I would like to but I am short on time every day.

We’ve been very busy at work this year, I’m very busy with other commitments after work and I am taking a course right now too. And I need an hour a day for the gym, for myself. I am hoping that soon I will be able to get back to once a week postings.

I love writing and could do it full time but I still have to send money to the bank every month for my home. I enjoy writing my blog and I am enjoying writing a couple of stories I am working on. I have always had a love for writing, prose, and poetry. It rivals my appreciation of music.

I quit school when I was 16 but I had already completed, with great marks, Grade 11 English.  I had a passion for English. My Grade 11 English teacher was an overweight and unusual character of a man named Mr. Loob. He wore clean pressed white shirts, short sleeves and a bow tie. Same thing every day. He too had a great appreciation for literature. He was like a cheerleader for books such as the Lord of the Flies and his enthusiasm pushed my love for literature even further. I’ll never forget Mr. Loob and how supportive and encouraging he was for all my work and projects. He was not only an interesting character he was a nice man. He’s one of the few school teachers who impacted my life.

But I left school at 16. I was bored and annoyed with school so I left. At 17 I was working on my first drilling rig, Westburne #17, outside of Grimshaw, Alberta. The rigs were a harsh place for a 17-year-old but I took to them quickly and I’ve been in that industry ever since. Through everything though I never lost my appreciation for literature.

I have taken some writing courses in the last 5 years. They’ve been in person at The Alexandra Writing Center in Calgary and some online course work. I have also taken courses from Athabasca University which is a distance, online University here in the province of Alberta. I’m applying those credits towards and English Degree but it’s likely I won’t pursue the degree again until I retire. I just can’t commit the time right now. I would have to take the time from somewhere else and I’m not prepared to do that.

I’m reading Stephen King’s book, “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft”. My friend Liz L. lent it to me and I am about ¾ the way completed. It’s a slower read because it is some of Stephen King’s life but also it’s a great book about how to write!

So, I will get back to posting once a week I just don’t know when. I don’t want to create some disappointment in myself by not meeting a deadline today, that I can’t reach later.I’ll continue to concentrate on subject matter I know and enjoy and as Stephen King has said, I’m still trying to find my voice.

 

Just when I think I know something about hockey I look back a month at my playoff predictions and am reminded why I work in the drilling business. We’re down to 4 teams and it’s awesome hockey. Pittsburgh is playing Ottawa and the other division has Anaheim against Nashville. For the sake of hockey,small markets and unconventional hockey hotbeds everywhere I hope to see Nashville in the Stanley Cup Final. It’d be great for hockey everywhere. Enjoy the clip below where Nashville is becoming known as Smashville.

 

The song this week is from Willie Nelson from his new album, Gods Problem Child and its a song about his old buddy Merle Haggard who passed on , April 6 , 2016. The song’s called He Won’t Ever Be Gone.

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The quote this week is from Father Richard Rohr.

“The human ego will always try to name, categorize, fix, control and ensure all its experiences. For the ego everything is a commodity. It lives inside of self-manufactured boundaries instead of inside the boundaries of the Godself. It lives out of its own superior image instead of mirroring the image of God. With the Western isolated self in a state of immense insecurity today, we are flailing about, searching for any solid identity.”

 

Thanks for dropping by and I hope you’ll do the same again next time I post………

Week 15 & Small Victories

 

Last night at a 12 step meeting I mentioned I had a coffee with a young man who was very pleased with some small progress he had made. He was really new to recovery and still in his first 30 days. What was he pleased about? He told me he had gone 1 ½ days without telling one lie. I understand that if you’re reading this and you aren’t an alcoholic or an addict that you might think this an unusual thing to celebrate.  I know that many of you reading this have gone days or weeks or longer without telling a lie. Not so for the alcoholic. You know how to tell when a using alcoholic is lying? Their lips are moving! Back to my new friend and our conversation. I was happy to hear him say that he had managed to do this and I encouraged him, challenged him, to go longer. But what I was happiest about was he was recognizing some change in his actions so soon in his life in recovery. When we are striving for change,we need to take time and look at that change in our lives when it happens. Almost everyone I know strives to have some sort of change in their life. It might be weight loss, saving money or recovery from alcoholism. Recognizing the small victories when they happen, as they happen , is paramount to continued success. For a newly recovering alcoholic to go 1 ½ days without lying is a big accomplishment. My young friend realized this. He wants more of this. He wants to change. He assured me he would quit waiting for the “burning bush” experience and continue to celebrate the small victories. As people in recovery we need to realize that the transformations we obtain are going to come slowly and surely if we continue to work for them.

“They are being fulfilled among us – sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will always materialize if we work for them”

This is the line that follows the Step 9 Promises on page 83/84 of the book, Alcoholics Anonymous.

And what about my friend? He’s going to keep coming to meetings, reading the Big Book, working with his sponsor, working the steps and changing his life. Recognizing your change and celebrating it are what keeps us on the path of doing more of what it was that got us to this point. Take time to get acquainted with your new behaviours and appreciate the change as you replace the old behaviours.

 

The roundup last Saturday in DeWinton was very good and the DeWinton AA Group did a great job of hosting so many in their small community. We had some great fellowship with new and old friends and a terrific roast beef dinner. The speakers were very good and my Sponsor, Andy C ,knocked it over the fence. I’ve known Andy for 2 years and he’s been my sponsor only a short while now and it was good for me to hear “his story”.

 

Tonight the second season of the NHL begins and as my friend Kelly says “It’s just like Christmas time”. The second season I refer to is the NHL Playoffs.

Tonight there are 5 games on tap and 3 games tomorrow. The Calgary Flames play tomorrow and face the Anaheim Ducks at the Duck’s barn. I have included the bracket below.

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I love to make predictions so here goes:

Chicago over Nashville
St. Louis over Minnesota
Calgary over Anaheim
Edmonton over San Jose
Montreal over NYC
Boston over Ottawa
Pittsburgh over Columbus
Washington over Toronto

I am excited to be watching some great hockey as the playoffs brings out the best,the toughest and sometimes the nastiest but it’s always entertaining.As for my predictions…..you know what people say about opinions….. enjoy the second season!

Happy Easter to all my friends. Whether you celebrate it or not I do, and I wish you all the best for Easter

I have to give the song of the week to the J. Geils Band out of respect for the death yesterday of John Geils at age 71.

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J. Geils Band ( early 70’s)

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John Geils (2011)

 

 

[He met band mates Danny Klein and “Magic Dick” Salwitz at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, where he was studying mechanical engineering. They formed the J. Geils Band in 1967 with lead singer Peter Wolf and drummer Stephen Jo Bladd.
The group released a string of albums in the 1970s but would not achieve commercial success until the 1980s, starting with the release of “Love Stinks,” its first platinum-selling record, according to Rolling Stone. Their 12th album, “Freeze-Frame,” featured its popular title track as well as chart-topper “Centerfold,” which spent six weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 in 1982.] – CNN, April 12 , 2017
The quote this week :
“Hockey captures the essence of Canadian experience in the New World. In a land so inescapably and inhospitably cold, hockey is the chance of life, and an affirmation that despite the deathly chill of winter we are alive.”
Thanks for reading. I hope youèll drop by next week………..

Week 6 & Conscious Contact

Last weekend I was on silent retreat  ,west of Caroline Alberta, at Sanctum Retreat Center.

There were 29 men who attended and the retreat was a 12 step retreat although Sanctum itself holds many retreats for many groups or organizations. It’s a beautiful center with great facilities and rooms and the food itself is definitely a spiritual experience. Check them out.

I love the silent retreat. I might pick it up to a 2 a year pace this year and get in a summer retreat also. It is an excellent opportunity to de-stress, rest, reflect and think ,or a number of other things you might want to do with the time. This year I enjoyed the silence, read a book I have wanted to read and got a good start on another book. With 29 men the silence is huge and it’s far more noticeable with that many men around than if there were just a handful. Saturday night I went into the dining hall to have a cup of tea and read my book. After about 15 minutes I realized the room was quite busy so I looked up, and counted 13 men in the room. Some men were snacking on an orange or an apple, some men were having a coffee or tea and some were just sitting. One table had 3 men sitting together, but not a word was spoken. That was a very cool moment. Everyone has their own private room at the retreat ,which was small, but very comfortable with a small table to write on if you wished to. The silence is in effect from dinner on Friday to lunch on Sunday. There was guided meditations on Friday night, Saturday morning and Saturday night and Sunday morning. Nothing is mandatory and all of it is up to the individual. I highly recommend taking it all in though if you ever choose to go on retreat. It was like getting my battery pack recharged! There are many types of retreats and retreats centers everywhere and I suggest it to anyone to take an opportunity and retreat; even if you only do it once.

The following is from Andrew Holecek who completed a 3 year Zen retreat and is the author of Dream Yoga.

 

Retreat is not for the faint of heart. It takes courage to stop and face one’s mind so directly. But if you want to be unconditionally happy, which is one way to talk about enlightenment, there is no other way. Sooner or later you have to relate to your mind instead of from it. Otherwise you will forever be held captive by the contents of your mind, shackling yourself to every shiny thought that pops up,a prisoner of your own making.

To be truly free, to cut the shackles, you have to block all the conventional exits and be with yourself, retreat into yourself. Once the initial hurdles are crossed and the mind begins to settle in retreat, the benefits unfold. The mind sharpens and the heart opens. Stability and equanimity develop. Kindness and compassion blossom. The world softens because you soften. Discipline, patience and accommodation mature.”

 

I had a nice chat today with my good friend Dan who lives in Kelowna. He sent me, via Facebook, the funeral card from our old friend Ivor Lundin who was killed in an industrial accident on Okanagan Lake on Monday the 30th. Ivor ran a boom boat on the lake pushing logs into the mill. He went down with his boat that night. Rest In Peace Ivor.

 

What a wild Super Bowl game! Congrats to Tom Brady who, like him or not , has to be the best QB ever. He deserves all the records he set. It pains me to say it but he is great! Looks like hockey and the NHL are now front and center for me until baseball season begins.

 

The song this week is from one of my favourites, The Felice Brothers. Their journey began in the NYC subway system where they played for change and now they tour the country. Painting pictures for my mind with their lyrics. I would love to see these guys live and I will, first chance I get. This is the title song from their latest album, Life In The Dark

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The quote this week is from Richard Rohr

“You have to find some way to not become a cynical or negative person, a person who keeps walking around and opening your eyes in the outside world but inside you close down, a person who stops expecting tomorrow to be better than today. “

 

 

Thanks for stopping by and I hope I’ll see you next week………….

Week 4 and Belonging

 

Well it’s week 4 but only my second blog of the 2017 and an otherwise bad start to a weekly blog. I was in Austin, TX last week and between hotels and airports I wasn’t able to pull off a blog post. That brought about the thought that it might be nice to have a couple of posts written and on the shelf ready to post for times like that. It was a short consideration though because I prefer the spontaneity of how I write now. This is, I don’t know what I will write until I sit down to do it and I never have plan or hidden motive. I also get a bit of a thrill from the self imposed sense of urgency I get from feeling I must post on Thursdays. It reminds me of college and studying for a final about 12 hours before it is to take place.

Austin was good as always but a very quick turnaround. We got to Austin last Wednesday at 930 PM, got our rental car, went for supper and to the hotel. We were up early the next morning as our meeting was for 745 AM. We and they were on time for our meeting and it ran to about 10 AM. We wrapped up and went downtown and wandered for a little while before getting to Lambert’s for a BBQ lunch. If you’re in Austin check it out. It’s fantastic food. Then it was back to the airport to catch our flight to Houston then Houston back to Calgary and we landed at 930 PM in Calgary. That is a quick turnaround!

 

My daughter Olivia moved to Whitehorse, Yukon at the beginning of the year and I’m really proud of her for stepping way out of her comfort zone and leaving the big city for a small northern city (far north) for an opportunity to advance her career and gain experience she might not otherwise gain. She’s on a one year contract with the Yukon government. Olivia just graduated from U of C last June with a Master’s in Social Work so it’s great timing. I’ve never been to Whitehorse so I am looking forward to visiting her this spring. I’ve never heard anything bad about the city and I’m already excited to see it.

 

This past Saturday my home group, the group I belong to in my 12 step fellowship, celebrated our 15th anniversary. This isn’t a long time for most groups but we’re kinda proud of our group. When we started 15 years ago we started in a relatively new community called McKenzie Towne. And McKenzie Towne was about as far south as Calgary went on the East side. There were just a couple of regulars when this group started in August of 2001. But the word got out that there was a meeting now in the Deep South and more and more people started coming. As Calgary grew, many more communities started to spring up south of us and we grew some more. We have 3 meetings a week in the McKenzie Towne Church. The Church has turned out to be great hosts to us and this Church is always reaching out to many groups and organizations in the community. They themselves have a strong sense of community. I’m not 100% sure of how many members our group has now but if I were to guess I would say about 170 members with many more people than that who drop into our meetings. It’s not uncommon to have 50 people at our Saturday morning meeting at 10 AM, which is a great way to kick off a weekend. Our celebration this past Saturday was pot luck and we invited anyone in 12 step community and I would say with friends and family and members we had about 160 people at our anniversary party. There was a band playing in the background, lots of opportunity to visit and enough food to feed everyone a couple of times over. Towards the end we had 3 scheduled speakers who all had approximately 20 minutes to speak. Each of the speakers was assigned one of the 3 legacies of our fellowship, to speak about. Those legacies are Unity, Recovery and Service. I thought all 3 speakers did a great job of speaking to and addressing the legacy they had. It was a great Saturday afternoon. I came to these rooms 24 years ago in the hopes I could stop drinking and stay stopped. I had no idea I was joining the greatest fellowship in the world or that I would end up with a few million really close friends-hahaha. It’s often said that AA is the only place where you can walk into a room full of strangers and reminisce. I’m very proud to be a member of the McKenzie Group in Calgary and very humbled to be surrounded by such great people. I have a real sense of belonging.

 

Moving along and over to football ,in my week 2 blog I predicted with confidence a Patriots Seahawks Super Bowl. Ummm, I was very wrong. But it has shaped up to be a great game, or at least it should be by the performances so far by the two participants. That would be the New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons. I am pretty indifferent as to who wins. It would be great to see the Pats win another and it would be really good to see the Falcons win this one. I’m looking forward to enjoying the game; it should be great one and a lot of scoring.

 

If you’re a regular reader you know that I love The Players Tribune. The stories are about athletes and almost always written by the athlete themselves but rarely are these stories about their sport and more likely about an aspect of their life. The following is a wonderful story by Paul Holmgren and its called My Brother Dave. Paul Holmgren was a very tough competitor and a very good hockey player .Holmgren was an American in a game that was predominantly played by Canadians, with a few exceptions. Paul Holmgren is presently the President of the Philadelphia Flyers of the NHL.

 

The song this week is Holland Road by Mumford & Sons.

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The quote this week is:

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.”

– Steve Jobs

Thanks for reading and I hope you’ll drop by next week……….

Week 14

I was telling my wife recently how much I would like to go see Willie and Merle on their “Django and Jimmie” promotional tour. I wanted to see them before it was too late. I mean Willie Nelson is 82 and at the time, Merle Haggard was 78.I won’t get the opportunity to see them together now. Merle made it to 79 years today, his birthday, and died from complications from pneumonia. I’m not a big country music fan but I am a huge music fan! I always loved the “outlaws” of country music of which both these men are a part of. Merle Haggard had more than 3 dozen No.1 country hits and he was active from about 1962 up until his death. Merle Haggard did serve time at San Quentin and attributes a performance at the prison, by Johnny Cash, as being instrumental in him turning his life around. So not only was Haggard an inmate at San Quentin he was also a Kennedy Center Honoree, was pardoned in the 70’s by California Governor Ronald Reagan and visited the White House more than once. He was the winner of numerous awards for his music from many different associations and in 2013 was awarded a Doctorate of Fine Arts from the California State University at Bakersfield. As a music lover I have not only appreciated Merle Haggard’s music but I’ve also got big respect to anyone who is still going strong right to his end. In a blog post earlier this year I had mentioned that one of my favorite albums of 2015 was “ Django and Jimmie “ that was recorded by Willie and Merle. I bought the CD immediately, before reading any reviews, because I never need to get jaded by anyone’s opinion of two of country music’s icons.

“It’s not what you take but what you leave behind that defines greatness”
Edward Gardner

Well I believe Merle Haggard defined some greatness and he left this world with a great deal without taking away too much. His humility showed when he accepted his Doctorate and said, and I paraphrase, “Thanks, it’s nice to be noticed”.

Here’s my favorite song off the Django and Jimmie album. It’s called “It’s all going to pot”

 

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Let’s keep rolling with music! Lori and I and another couple went to see ZZ Top on Saturday and they were every bit as good as I had hoped for. I have been listening to ZZ Top since I was 15 years old and I continue to rank them as one of my all-time favorite bands. Some Texas Rock and some Texas Blues and a bad ass image and they provided a super night of music. These same 3 guys have been together since 1969! And you could notice that they had been together a long time by the comfort they had with each other on the stage.There’s a little bit of magic going on when a band has been together for 47 years. I would go again tonight if I could.

 

Congrats to Villanova for winning the NCAA National Championship. Their buzzer beating three pointer brought to close another year of March Madness and closed out the tournament with a great game between themselves and UNC. You can watch the shot right Here and read the short story

 

MLB is back and my two favorite teams are off to an okay start with Toronto at 2-4 and Seattle at 3-1-1. I won’t even start to discuss the new baseball slide rule. It’ll get talked about from plenty of corners long before this season is over. Okay I can’t resist the urge to let you know that I think it makes baseball weaker, not better!

And finally the NHL playoffs begin April 13th and luckily I won’t feel any fan stress as the Calgary Flames are not in the playoffs. I do see myself pulling for the Florida Panthers and the Washington Capitals from the Eastern Conference and the St. Louis Blues and Anaheim Ducks from the Western Conference.

 

The song this week is what I imagine would be Merle Haggard’s best known song. Here he is singing “Okie from Muskogee” 

 

The quote this week is :

“It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.”

Harry Truman

 

 

Thanks for dropping by and I hope you’ll drop by again next week