Welcome

Welcome to my blog. Here you will find information that is both interesting and useless. You can even see how Steve, my camera, sees the world through my eyes, or get your hands on my latest novel, Jihad Joe at:

http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/119633

Thanks for visiting. Hope you enjoyed the coffee and cake. Sorry we ran out of donuts.


Friday, December 31, 2010

dropping the puck


dropping the puck
Originally uploaded by Rob Hoey
Since coming to Canada in July of 2010, I have attended 300 percent more hockey games than I ever had before in my life. This is how I'm going to remember this wonderful year. A time when hockey became what I do--well, actually, what I watch other people do. I imagine it must be exhausting to skate like your life depended upon it for an hour, with a couple of breaks in between. I went to see these kids play because I was hired to do a photo shoot for a team from the USA. It's all so confusing--when I lived in the Big Apple, I went to one NY Ranger game in my entire career as a man. It was long before anything much was going on--Osama bin Laden was just a little kid with big dreams of killing people, and the Rangers were actually a decent hockey team, they say. The thing I did not enjoy about the game at Madison Square Garden was the beer. Not in the drinking of it, but in the wearing of it whenever the Rangers scored a goal, or whenever the other team made them look like a bunch of schoolgirls in plaid skirts. I don't remember which. But I decided hockey wasn't for me--not in the watching or the playing.
But then I became a wannabe Canuck and I already went to a Sens game, which they lost. The confusing part was who to root for because they played my beloved (Ha) Rangers. Then I saw these great kids, all with guts and determination, grit, and skate savvy work their little hearts out to play the game they all loved and all lost. I am now a sorta Canuck, but I felt that I had to root for the Jaguars from the USA. Both games went to the other teams and it saddened me. In the first game they played well, they really did, but the other team was, how do you say, better. I took about 300 photos of game 1 for posterity and I believe the dad who enlisted my services, likes them. In the second game, the Jaguars were playing better than the other team, but somehow those little maggots from the other team tied the score in the 3rd period at 2 - 2. (I am totally kidding--they were also wonderful kids). So what does the coach of my Jaguars do? He pulls the goalie with abooot 3 minutes to go. Eh. And then what da ya know, eh, the maggots score an open net goal. So what does the coach do, eh? He keeps the goalie pulled. Then there is a humongously loud Honk! Times runs out as I slightly pee myself from the noise of the freaking horn. Game over. Trophies are handed out to the top players on each team, but I am probably more disappointed in the two losses than the kids, who are just glad to see some snow around the holidays. Go figure sportsmanship, eh.
Well, maybe next year.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Stoned on food


Stoned on food
Originally uploaded by Rob Hoey
Christmas is over and the gifts are given out`; the food is digesting slowly, ever so damned slowly. Why is it that we eat so much on these holidays? Why is food always associated with celebration and fun? Can`t we have fun without all the calories? Here we have Oliver (aka The OMan) stuffing his mouth with some kind of roundish food that he tried to take in all at once. This incredibly cute child could eat himself to sleep, or eat himself hungry, like some drinkers can drink themselves sober. But it was fun.
This was a family Christmas at Jeremy and Kiera`s new house--a house located in such a secret location, even Lucy, my GPS, couldn`t find it, and people who lived in the area, for the most, part had no idea where the road was located. Farmland areas often have roads whose names change all the time, depending on what crop is growing, I suspect. The house was on a street with a rural number thingy code, like New Line Broken Branch Road 7, or something like that. Lucy directed us to a trailor park and let me tell you, those people who lived there had no idea where they were living, much less where that freaking road was located. But praise be to gawd, we found it.
It was wonderful being around people you like and love, and this was one of the best Christmas`s I`ve had since I saw a Christmas miracle as a young man. But that`s a blog for another time.
I hope your Christmas was as nice as mine. I mean even beyond the beer and good food--I mean with the company of the people with whom you spent this joyous holiday. Christ, that sounds corny.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Merry Day


me
Originally uploaded by Rob Hoey
It`s beginning to look a lot like Christmas--the real Christmas, like the ones you see on TV where there`s snow, and lights, and good spirits among men . . . and women. We`re going to Shabana`s husband`s brother`s new home for Christmas Day. It should be fun as there are supposedly going to be 12 adults and the O Man, better known as Oliver. This kid suffers from chronic cuteness and there`s no cure. He just turned one a short time ago so this will obviously be his first Christmas, if you do the math.
There is snow on the ground, frost in the air, wood on the fire, and a hankering in my loins. I just wanted to say the last part because I knew it would surprise you.
This photo of me was taken by Thasneem. I look as serious a Saudi Arabia`s policy on prostitution, but I`m usually not very serious, and I smile a lot. The only reason I`m not smiling in this shot is because it`s a photo of me, which I take very seriously. So sue me.
But getting back to the Yuletide, we`re all set with gifts and stuff but I really don`t feel like I`m ever really finished. I wish I was really wealthy--I would buy all the poor boys and girls electronic games like Prison Bitch Break and Kill Osama. But I am just a poor boy, though my story`s seldom told, I have squandered everything for a pocket full of mumbles such are promises.
Remember, all lies are jest. Have a great holiday and bless you. . . here`s a tissue

Friday, December 17, 2010

Holiday?


l'eglese
Originally uploaded by Rob Hoey
Well, it's almost Holiday Time when all the children adorn the holiday tree with holiday balls and lights to make this holiday season something to almost remember, but I forget what. I went holiday shopping today and bought holiday gifts-the kids especially love this time of year because they're the ones who enjoy the holiday magic. I'm most grateful that this season has not offended others of different religious backgrounds who don't want to actually call this holiday anything more than that--a holiday. But it occurs to me that the word 'holiday' comes from the old English term, Holy Day. Well, I don't know who it's holy for anymore, but I can tell you that even Canada is following the new traditions of the USA and have renamed the old holiday (it starts with a "C" for certain people, and an "H" for others who were almost annihilated by a guy in World War 2) but I think it's just better to allow these holiday terms to remain unspoken lest we offend those who come from different parts in the world in the hope and spirit of turning Canada into Mecca.
Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah to all, and to all a good night.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

woman in black


woman in black
Originally uploaded by Rob Hoey
Why can't people just get along? We judge each other on so many levels--their appearance, political opinions, whether or not they agree with our own views or not, how hot they look, what their religion is or is not, what tv shows they watch, music they listen to, and how kind they are. Some values weigh more heavily on our assessment outcomes, but we always do assess, don't we? For example, does this woman look happy or sad? Hard to know. Maybe she is feeling the pain of a lost love, or the happiness of a moment in her youth when everything was pretty and in technicolor. I don't know the answer to this because when I photographed her in India, I forgot to ask her.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Canadian Flag in Reflection


flag3
Originally uploaded by Rob Hoey
Only in Canada do you get advertising that also talks about the weather. Let's face it, talking about the weather is about as mundane as you can get in normal conversations, but today we received an ad in the mail for Rogers cable TV where you can get "the hottest shows anytime with Rogers on Demand-free access on Channel 100; up to 170 channels, and Reliability." This is where you can "enjoy your favourite programs even during extreme weather conditions". And I think that's a point well taken because the Canadian weather can be extreme. It has already snowed three times since July and it's still pre-Christmas. In New York, we rarely had a white Christmas. Sometimes we'd get a few flakes in early December, but the flakes were a fluke--it would not snow for a month afterward. But here in Canada snow is like oxygen--they need it to live, and it's everywhere around you all winter long.
I'm going to a hockey game tonight, the first I've been to since I was in my twenties. The Sens are playing the Rangers and guess who I'm rooting for .  .   .
Wrong--I'm rooting for the Sens. I am no longer a New Yorker, although I miss the Big Apple a bit (or should I say "a bite"?), but I never had allegiance to the Rangers. In fact, when I went to that game years ago at Madison Square Garden (which is anything but square), I was surrounded by crazy louts who smoked dope and drank beer, often launching it in the air whenever a Ranger physically abused a member of the opposing team, thus dousing me in suds and making my time at the game quite uncomfortable.
I told Thasneem that I'll be wearing my new Senators sweater and she said "It'll be too cold." I realized she thought the game was played outdoors and I comforted her by explaining the scenario. Imagine how small the crowds would be if the games were actually played outdoors in the dead of winter, when the weather gets really cold--at least it's only going to be around minus 15. No big deal. Eh.

Monday, December 6, 2010

war--what is it good for


thank you
Originally uploaded by Rob Hoey
This photo was taken on Remembrance Day in Canada. It seems that every country has some day set aside to honour the war heroes, alive and dead, who have risked or given it all for the real estate we call home. When I think of a justified war, I think of WW2--the Big One. There have been other seriously deadly wars, no doubt, but this was the war to end all wars. Yes, they`re all big ones to the families who have lost someone in it, or to those who lost a limb or their own life. War, it seems to me, is man`s craziest expression of his innate drives based on his testosterone. Men go to war and years later they make movies about it starring guys who look like they'd freak out if they broke a nail, and the men who served are proud to have been in that war. Well, maybe not so much for Vietnam, the war I served in, but there are a lot of wars that we can brag to our kids about. Like our Desert Storm, our Desert Shield, The Persian Gulf War and let's not forget the Korean Conflict. I like the last one--"Conflict" --a word we used in high school when we made out our class schedules and two classes we applied for were scheduled at the same time so we had to decide which one to attend. Now that's a conflict we can all live with--literally--but a Korean Conflict was not something everyone could live with because lots of dudes died. Well, at least we got M*A*S*H, a funny movie and TV show out of it.
Today we have a war on terror. Oops--I should capitalize that: War On Terror. This is the first war I can recall that actually isn't a war on people, but is a war on a tactic. If we used that premise in The Big One, WW2, The War to End All Wars, we could have called it The War on Messerschmitz or the War on Kaimikazes. Let's face it, we're so clever to call it the War on Terror.  By calling it that, we avoid offending anyone, like the people who are blowing themselves up, or flying planes into buildings to kill us, aren't we?  But we aren't fighting people--we're fighting the way those people are trying to kill us. I recently saw a cartoon (no, not of Muhammad), but of an ostrich with its head hiding in the sand, and there was a desert guy with a sword (I have no idea what his religion must be) cutting the bird's head and legs off. This is the west as I see it. We are ostriches.
Well, it`s getting late and I should end this and go to sleep. I just hope we can kill terror and make the world a safer place.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Eh?


cloud4
Originally uploaded by Rob Hoey
It snowed yesterday and my childhood flashed in front of my eyes. I remembered how I played in the snow in the mornings and my toes would get so cold that they'd itch. I'd come into the house and Dad would put Noxema on them and the itch would go away. Magic. And then I'd go out and play again, only to repeat the cycle.
It's November and it already snowed twice; maybe we'll get a white Christmas--if we do, it'll be my first one in many years. I think it has been so long since I've actually had a white Christmas that Bing Crosby's song about it just came out. Well, okay, I'm exaggerating, but it must be at least 20 plus years.
My favorite Christmas as a kid was getting my first set of electric trains. Lionel, of course, with the smoke pills and the whistle and the little houses and the tracks that fit together. Once I got too old for them, I put the trains in a box and forgot about them. Then, one day I came across them while going through my stuff. I had no use for them anymore, or so I thought, so I gave them away to my nephew, Michael. I wonder if he still has them; I doubt it.
Trains had a way of being a catalyst for the imagination; today the imagination of the young is fed by computer games, cell phone games, X-Box, and things I'm not even aware of, but I know it's out there. The trouble is, we tend to spend all of our time, lately, on our computers (as I'm doing as I write this), on our phones, in our games, and less time in our real world. George Carlin had a theory about this--he believed that this was the way for those in real power to distract us from what's most important in the world, which is how our leaders (most of whom are not visible to the public), are screwing us.
I don't know if he was correct, but I do know we need to spend more time in the here and now.
What's your favorite childhood memory, eh?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Is it Winter Yet?


I love my new city
Originally uploaded by Rob Hoey
The weather report:
"Chance of rain tomorrow with a possibility of ice pellets . . ."

Ice pellets? WTF??? We never had ice pellets in New York City. Maybe some frozen rain mixed with snow and junk, but ice pellets sounds so pernicious--like destruction is imminent and cattle will die, and people will be stuck in the house watching Oprah or Judge Judy. Ice pellets is totally Canadian and it shivers me timbers just to hear it. Is it even a weather term?

We've been trying to keep the heat down in the house because I've heard the heating bills will be astronomical and will continue to rise over the next 20 years. In fact, some politico has figured it to the penny, according to a local radio station I listen to (and called into once). If a politician can predict hydro bills over a score of years, then he or she is sleeping with someone at the power plant and is getting kickbacks in the process.

And that's another thing, talking about words. People from Canada say pro-cess, not process. Pro as in the prefix of the word 'professional', with a cess at the end. We in the USA say process differently. It's almost a prah sound as in prahcess. But when you think of it, Canadians are saying it correctly and I, after all this time, realize that we've been saying it wrong in the states. Prahcessed cheese, for example, is really processed cheese. In both cases it's high in cholesterol, and we both agree on how to say that, and that it's bad fer ya. 

In any case, we hang out in my office and use the computer there, along with my laptop because it's cheaper to heat just the office. We put the heat on about (Canadians say 'aboot' and I don't care if you believe me or not) a half hour to an hour before going to bed and it warms the room just fine. Then I shut it off as we crawl under fifteen pounds of blankets, sheets, and more blankets. In the morning, it's almost cold enough to freeze my urine as I run like a gazelle to the bathroom (Canadians call it a washroom and I saw a dude at the mall today who peed and then didn't wash), and do what I do best after awakening.

So Canada has humbled me. That's a good thing. We should all experience being humbled, I believe that humility is good for the soul. It's part of the prahcess of becoming an adult.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Fart Fresheners and other Stuff


ahh the pause
Originally uploaded by Rob Hoey
I was like wow, okay, so here`s the idea I had in bed last night, where I was attempting to sleep in a room that was cold enough to cool off my refrigerator. A battery powered battery charger. The problem with it seems to be the fact that once the batteries are charged, the ones in the charger are discharged, or low, so you`d have to use the charged batteries in the charger. It kind of sounds like the way our budget deficit and bailouts are working, but that`s another story. It was clearly a night for my brain to go into the invent mode. If there was just some way for the charger to charge the batteries it was charging to finish the job before those batteries discharged, then I would make a fortune. That`s the rub.

Another thing I thought about in bed: notice how annoying it is for the person sleeping next to you to have to deal with you when you`re coughing and she`s trying to sleep. What about a cough muffler? You know, something you could wear over your mouth that quiets your cough and maybe even helps you to breathe at the same time. And while we`re at it, a fart freshener wouldn`t hurt. Imagine, you`re lying in bed, your spouse gets up to pee, and you cut a deadly one loud enough for the neighbours to hear, (and you live in the boondocks)and the smell could peel paint off a Bradley tank. But instead, she comes back to bed and she notices a pleasant minty odour that reminds her of the great outdoors, and maybe gets her to agree to go ice fishing with you, which may or may not be what you want, so perhaps you need choose another fresh scent like jasmine or honeysuckle in order for your ice fishing to be what you really want it to be: a drunk-fest with your buddies at the lake where there are no kids that belong to you, and no responsibilities.

So now that you`ve come up with some of the best ideas of the century, and you want to blog them, but you want as many people as possible to get to your blog, what to do, as my lovely Indian wife would say. You find the best keywords to use for the Googlers of the world to hit upon. And the best keyword in the world is just something I happened to think about lying in bed while I was thinking about fart freshener and such. That keyword is “keyword.” Yep, it`s that simple. Keyword is a word on every keyword list and that should mean that the entire planet will see your blog, and you will get the hits and the advertisers will pay you the big bucks that will change your miserable life so you can go ice fishing with your buddies and not have to worry about fart fresheners, cough mufflers, and battery powered battery chargers. See, it all works out in the end.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

old soldier


old soldier
Originally uploaded by Rob Hoey
Thasneem, Vidhya and I found ourselves in the midst of a huge crowd on Remembrance Day, November 11th. We were simply planning on showing Vidhya the town but when we saw what was going on, we had to be part of is--especially since I brought Steve, my Nikon D300 camera along for the ride.
It was a huge event, and I suspect there were tens of thousands of spectators, and there was a flyover by a few jets and some older planes like Mustangs, and the like. I mostly got to see the backs of people's heads as we were buried in the crowd (next year I'll go earlier), and I felt proud to be a part of this town where it was obvious, that people took very good care of their hair, and I couldn't find even one case of dandruff in the crowd.
There were speeches and a 21 gun cannon salute, which was quite moving and quite loud. There were wreaths from many countries, businesses and even local schools, laid at the tomb of the Unknown. I became a bit nostalgic, thinking of my own Marine Corps days, and how glad I was to make it home from Vietnam in one piece. War sucks, but sometimes it is the only way to defend our country. I worry about the world of today. I think the west is handing over our land to people who don't deserve what we worked so hard to get and to keep. I think the west is asleep at the wheel and it isn't funny, like it was in the movie Vacation, when Chevy Chase woke up in the car from a deep sleep, and he realized that he was still driving. I hope the west remembers that Israel is a better country than any of those tyrants who would want it destroyed. I hope Obama changes his thinking about Islam being a religion of peace and sees it for what it is and what it is doing.
Lastly, I hope someday we'll have world peace, but I don't think that's going to be for a long long time.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

nightbirds


nightbirds
Originally uploaded by Rob Hoey
The night is moving in, the sun is moving out. Ottawa is ready to sleep. And it's only 5 p.m. Winter is slowly approaching and it should be here within the next few hours. Not the official " " winter, but the winter of our discontented Canadian lives. Of course I exaggerate. It isn't going to snow anytime soon, but I'm anticipating a cold winter--I do this because I am so sure that in spite of the great deal I got from a neighbor, Mark, on firewood, I didn't take enough for the fifty dollars he charged me. He said I could take as much as I wanted for that price and I think I took enough to build a respectable campfire for maybe two nights, but the winter will probably be cold enough to require approximately seventeen times the amount I calculated as being sufficient. Well, actually I did no such calculating--I based the quantity of my take on the fact that I took eight trips with his wheelbarrow from his place to mine, and I was getting tired of the boredom of my mini-journey, what with the schizophrenic neighbor kid watching my every move as he smoked frenetically on his cigarettes, rocking and staring at me. It gave me the willies and I thought it best to stop at eight.
So I pray for warm nights and even warmer days but as an atheist, I doubt my prayers will be answered. However, I am willing to think it over if there is divine intervention and the quantity of my wood gets us through the winter. Let's see.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

thasneem and vidhya


thasneem and vidhya
Originally uploaded by Rob Hoey
Our friend, Vidhya came to visit us on Tuesday. She lives in Chennai, India, and was in Boston visiting her daughter, so she wanted to see snow and thought Canada would be able to accomodate her. Unfortunately, the weather didn't cooperate--it has been sunny, warm, and basically beautiful, which sucks for Vidhya as she has never actually seen snow in her life. She was going to extend her stay in the west for another few weeks but learned that it would cost an additional $700 dollars and so she will be leaving for Boston on Friday and then for home a few days after that. Why is it that god refuses to allow a nice person like Vidhya to go all the way back to India without seeing snow? Is it such a big deal for our Lord to just do someone a favor for once? I mean, c'mon, for Him how big a deal would sending a few billion flakes be? Sometimes I think god doesn't really care about the little things. Maybe He's too busy with the big stuff to sweat the small stuff. Or maybe there's so much small stuff to sweat that He doesn't have the time for a little premature snowfall to put a smile on the face of our guest. I just hope He'll do us the favor of snow for His birthday--even though it really isn't His birthday but a day randomly chosen by people who are evidently in the retail business to celebrate His birthday.
Anyway, at the very least, He can ensure a safe return trip for Vidhya..

Sunday, November 7, 2010

NaNoWriMo

Well, it's that time of the year again--my anniversary and yes, NaNoWriMo, or NationalNovelWritersMonth. It runs from November 1st to the 30th and all one has to do is write a 50 thousand word novel by midnight of the 30th.  The good news is that the novel can be a hunk of crap, lousy plot, weak characters, and all the typos you might have if you just wrote like a bat out of hell without checking yourself for errors. The whole idea is the word count--that's all that counts. I am the proud owner of not one, but two NaNoWriMo congratulatory certificates of completion of two rather awful novels.
But this year is different. Not only is my novel not awful, but my novel isn't going to be written by November 30th. I just will not subject myself to that burden this year; but next year will likely be a different story, literally and figuratively too. I have what I believe is a great idea for a novel and I am researching and writing, but I can't go forward fast enough to get that kind of word count without sacrificing quality.  Now I know they don't give a rat's hairy little butt about quality at NaNoWriMo, bit I do, and if I forge ahead too quickly, I'll lose my voice and my plotting.  My timing will suffer too. 
Also, I am not going to publish the title of my novel, or at least the working title (publishers often rip out your heart when they use their own title rather than yours), but I will say that it's clever.  Really.  I also believe the book idea itself is rather clever too, but that remains to be seen.
So I will leave you, dear reader (I use the singular "reader" to give a sense of familiarity and for the fact that I don't have that many readers of my blog to justify an ego-filled plural), with hopeful anticipation of my newest creation, my baby, my love.  I wish you all a good night.
Ho ho hoey

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Vidhya


porch
Originally uploaded by Rob Hoey
Our friend Vidhya is coming to visit on Tuesday. She lives in India and is visiting her daughter, Lakshmi, in Boston but wants to see snow for the first time in her life. We hope we can accommodate her but I'm not sure I can influence the snow god, Frostama. I'm not a religious person and haven't prayed in a very long time, particularly to a snow god, but I'm going to try.
I've heard that no two snowflakes are alike but I would really like to know how anyone could know that with certainty. I'm sure there are snowflakes that are pretty damn close to looking exactly like their sister snowflakes. When I was a child, there was a kids tv show and I remember the song they played every winter after the first snowfall--it was called "Susie Snowflake." My sister's name is Susie and she is far from being a flake, but that's another topic altogether.
"Here comes Susie Snowflake look at her tumbling down,
Bringing joy to every girl and boy
Now Susie's back in town;
Here comes Susie Snowflake
Hear what she's come to say,
'Come on everyone and play with me'
Before I'm on my way.'
If you want to make a snowman,
I'll help you make one
One, two, three
If you want to take a sleigh ride
The ride's on me
Here comes . . . .
etc.

I miss my childhood--the innocence, the high snowfall, my tingling toes from playing outside, my sister, Ellen, Mom, and Dad. I miss them.
Let's pray for snow--Vidhya should see it

Thursday, November 4, 2010

What I've Learned to be a Better Canuck

So I've not written a word since the beginning of October and it's even NaNoWriMo month (National Novel Writer's Month) from November 1st to 30th in which one tries to write a 50 thousand word novel, good or bad, in order to receive a piece of paper that says you've done it--and I still have not written one word on my blog. Luckily however, I did write a few good pages of the book, and did a lot of hard research and outlining, which means I should be finished with my masterpiece within the decade, if I don't get off my butt and push.
But I did accomplish something really great the past two days--I registered Doug, my car, and even got him protection, in case he wants to fool around with girl cars. Well, actually, the protection is insurance. We're finally covered Canadian style. That's why I'm using a photo of downtown Ottawa to show cars and how Doug can now go out and make friends legally.
I've learned a lot in the process of making Doug legal. I can now convert miles into kilometers (Fun Fact: one mile = 1.6 kilometers) and I learned that some car insurance salespeople can be really decent individuals--I kind of knew the latter to be true, as I was a real estate person before coming to Canada, and I know how difficult sales can be. Did you know that Tom Clancy, of the Jim Ryan, submarine, incredible weapons system fame was also a real estate salesman too? I also learned other things since becoming a wannabe Canuck--a Looney and a Twonee are one and two dollar coins, respectively. The Rideau Canal is the longest free skating canal in all of the world (or Ottawa, at least). The Giant Tiger is a very good place to shop for many interesting items you find in such stores as Walmart and Value Village, and the food doesn't suck as much.
Well, that's the interesting fun facts for now. I hope you'll give me more to add to my repertoire of Canadian information.
I love Canada.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Sports


openman
Originally uploaded by Rob Hoey
I went to the gym today. Yes, I went for my workout on the treadmill, the universal, dumbbells, crunchy pad thingy and other machines whose names escape me as do many memories of late.
But no complaints.
So I worked up a sweat, met a guy who looked about my age and turned out to be four years younger, so maybe I have poor judgment, or maybe I look younger than I am.
I took Steve with me--left him in the trunk of the car and he waited patiently for me to get pumped and sweaty--and when I returned to Doug, (he's my car, of course), I went for peanut butter and paper towels at the Metro across from the Hunt Club Community Centre (that's the way they spell center here) and put it in the trunk and took out Steve. The photo of the guy catching the football was taken by Steve, my Nikon D300. I watched the game for a while and shot photos to put on Flickr, and then went home to a television-less house while Thasneem worked. Now I know that this information is not important to you--but think about it (in Canada they say "aboot" or perhaps "a boat," it sounds a lot like that), some dude made a skillion billion dollars inventing Twitter so all of us twits can tell each other what they had for breakfast, what they're doing at the moment, oops, they just farted, and so on--so maybe this photo of the park, and my time in the gym, and my buying peanut butter with paper towels isn't going to change the face of mankind anytime soon, but it beats the crap out of Twitter.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Caped Crusader Rappelling


30
Originally uploaded by Rob Hoey
This is my son-in-law, Frankie, dressed as a super hero whom I've never heard of, rappelling down 19 storeys at the Delta Hotel in Ottawa. His company, Morguard, is the management company for the buidling and I guess it was Frankie's way of doing something for charity while sucking up to the boss. Unfortunately, Shabana arrived just minutes after her husband reached the bottom, so she didn't get to watch him risk life and limb for kids who need help with theirs. I shot over 100 photos and posted some of them to my flickr site. It was a blast.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Rapid Rob


Rapid Rob
Originally uploaded by Rob Hoey
The photo was taken in 1986 at the Philadelphia Marathon. That's me running the last few miles to the finish line. I was tired and now that I see the photo again, I looked exhausted. I was 39 years old when I ran this race and I was in great shape. So here I am pushing retirement in a few years and I'll be heading out to the gym after this blog is written. My body will not be as strong, as fast, and as resilient as it was back in the day, and I'm not okay with that--I wish I was. I don't like the idea of aging but I agree with George Burns who, when asked when he turned 100 how he felt about being so old, replied, "Well, think of the alternative." So I will go to the gym and lift weights, do the treadmill, and feel better that I've done something positive for myself. I will be happy that I can lift a bit more weight than some, not all, of the younger guys, and all of the women (at my small gym, at least), but I will come home and remember when I was young and had legs that could carry me 26 miles when I felt I could fly. But the thing I like about my age now is that I've learned so much in all these years and I don't sweat the small stuff. I see how lucky I have been to have found Thasneem and also to have come to Canada. Here is a place where I can appreciate all that I never had as a young guy from Brooklyn, and as a bonus, be a mere two miles from my daughter, Shabana.
Who has it better than me, eh?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Money---the root of all stuff

Microsoft Excel is an excellent program that can easily show you how long it's going to take before you end up in the Poor House. I did a spreadsheet for Thas and averaged what her daily intake was for two days in August and for September, thus far. She is busting her butt for nine to ten hours a day at a commission split that would make a pizza delivery boy LOL because he's doing better. So I'm in the living room writing my blog and she's in the office getting her papers together for a job she had considered to apply for several weeks ago until this one came along.
Let's face it, the Canadian economy sucks as much as that of the USA, except it sucks a lot colder in the winter. In order to get to work you need a car, or be willing to freeze body parts blue, and I don't just mean those body parts that turn blue for lack of usage, if you get my drift. It's only one day beyond the ides of September and I've already gone out and bought heat shrink plastic covering for the windows and terrace door. I anticipate snow as high as this door, and it's on the second floor.
So getting back to my opening point, the tent sale didn't make us rich or even pleasantly comfortable, but it served the purpose of warning us that a real job with a weekly salary vs. a job only paying commission, is the viable option.
I look forward to getting my permanent residency so I can begin helping out the cause, but it's taking so long.
Remember, every time you click onto one of the ads in this blog, I make a few cents--money that can be used for heating or food; money that, I can assure you, will not go to waste.
Click at will.

Monday, September 6, 2010

maple leaves


maple leaves
Originally uploaded by Rob Hoey
So we took Shabana's advice and went to Le Parc de la Gatineau. It was truly a French experience what with all the French signs in the windows, and those pain in the ass bike riders in the streets of the park (oops, parc) riding like they owned the rue. Lucy, our GPS, wasn't able to find the route for us because parks don't actually have addresses, and I'm as technologically advanced as a broken frisbee, so I didn't know how to find parks on the device, so we used an ancient method of navigation, you've probably never heard of--something called "a map," if I spelled it correctly. A map is kind of like a schematic diagram of places, only much much smaller so it can fit on a sheet of paper. Thasneem was the navigator and I was the pilot, and Doug was, and still is, the car.
We found the park without too much difficulty and went to the information booth. There was a French family of three ahead of us, asking for information about the map they were given by the information maven, and the discourse seemed to go on for hours. French question after French question and finally Thasneem realized that on the other side of the little Question Hut was another French person answering more questions. We got our own map of the park and found out that the closest lake, pinc lake, was fairly far down the road. Oh, I forgot to mention that when I opened Doug's trunk to get my camera gear, I had left the backpack opened and my 60 mm macro lens fell out and got bruised on the edge so that I cannot use a filter on it anymore. Now of course, this is sad on one hand, but gives me leverage about getting another cool lens as a replacement, on the other hand.
But I digress.
So we got back in Doug, drove into the heart of the park, and found Pinc Lac or Lake or whatever. I was as disappointed as the little British girl next to us on the observatory platform as she asked her mummy, "Mummy, why isn't the lake pink?"
"Well, it says here that a man named Pinc discovered it, so I guess they named it after him."
"Boy, that sucks," I said, much to the shock of the British mummy, who put her hands over her daughter's ears and scooped her up and away from me.
So I shot some photos with Steve, my Nikon D 300, and we got back into Doug, and headed for more park to shoot.
The photo above, called "Maple Leaves," is my symbolic concept of the drugs being used in this area of Canada by its citizens. Who paints a house mauve anyway?
Before long, it started to rain. It was a gentle rain that fell, and some of it fell into the back of my shirt, down my back, into my underwear. It was uncomfortable and I decided it would be a good thing if we would go home and see my wonderful photos of this glorious Labor Day in Canada.
So Thasneem and I put Steve away, got into Doug, and drove home to Ottawa. We were one big happy family.
The end.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Parking and Other Problems


seagull parking
Originally uploaded by Rob Hoey
Imagine someone gives you a hundred good choices, say a hundred pieces of fantastic candy, all good, but all slightly different, and you can only have one piece. Or imagine you're a bachelor who is stranded on a deserted tropical island for years and suddenly a hundred beautiful people of the opposite sex (or same sex if you swing that way) arrive, and you can choose only one of them to satisfy your sexual needs that had gone unfulfilled for that entire year. Or say you go to Walmart to pick up some Elmer's Glue and when you get there you must choose between a hundred different parking spaces, all similar, but all having a slightly different advantage; what do you do?
This is precisely what Canada is like. There are so many choices and all of them are good ones. The pace is leisurely, and nobody seems to get annoyed at drivers stopping at red lights when they probably could have "made it" in time. Nobody minds being on the short line in the market and finding the long line is moving quicker and you would have been out the door faster.
Just look at all those parking places by the seagull and note the look of confusion on the gull's face--he wasn't sure where to park either.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

worms for fishin'


worms for fishin'
Originally uploaded by Rob Hoey
So, okay, Thasneem and I took the food handlers certification course today and don't you just hate when people start a sentence with "so" and/or "okay," and especially hate it when they do both in the same breath? So anyway, the course was about E-coli, Sal Monella (ex-third baseman for the NY Yankees, 1952) and handwashing and shit. No, I really mean shit, and the problems shit causes with food, which makes handwashing even more important. The photo you see here is of minced beef or hamburger meat--it's a closeup and it kind of tends to make a vegetarian out of many people.
So, okay, we took the course, aced the test, came home and we actually joined the gym in our neighbourhood (Canadian spelling). Tomorrow we work out for the first time since the beginning of June. They don't have a large facility here, but the price is right and there are enough free weights to do the job. I may need to pump to the metric system, however, and will know more tomorrow morning at abooot 7 a.m.
Have a good one, and sleep well, my American and Canadian friends (all five of you).

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Canadian Guilt


Asian Grocery Store
Originally uploaded by Rob Hoey
As a New Yorker, I had enough to worry about just going to the store. You know, being able to safely get back from the store was just as important. I know everyone talks about crime in Metropolis, but while it isn't rampant, there is something to be said about it.
But now crime isn't a huge worry--there seems to be very little of it here, maybe a random duck snatching or two, a red light jumper, and maybe a stray snowball hitting a car window; that's about the gist of it. Now I have to be concerned with a far more important and personal matter and that, of course, is Canadian guilt.
What is Canadian guilt? Simple. It's the guilt you feel when you don't bring your own shopping bag to Loblaw's or Walmart and have to use one of their plastic jobbies to carry your stuff.
And boy, do I have stuff. Thing is, I have reached a point, (call it my going green phase), where I refuse to use one of their plastic bags for my groceries, even when I forget my cloth bag in the trunk of my car. The other day, I had to carry a bag of milk (yes, they come in these four little bags, which are then placed in a larger bag (plastic, I might add), a bunch of bananas, a box of cereal, two cans of No Name soup (that's the name, "No Name," I swear), sponges, and my 30-in-a-box No Name ice pops that I've become hopelessly addicted to, and then the woman at the register asks, "Will you need a bag with that?"
So I pretend that I always carry a bunch of stuff on my arms, pockets, and down the front of my pants to take them out to the car, because I want to look cool, and don't want to be thought of as a "waster".
Let me tell you something--ice pops down the front of your pants are damn cold.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

duck proud


duck proud
Originally uploaded by Rob Hoey
I am so duck proud of Thasneem--she did her first sale last night and today she did two, as I write this, and who knows how many by the time I go to pick her up. But seriously, we were worried about moving here without jobs--and I can't even work until I'm a permanent resident (which I believe is supposed to be capitalized). So every time the phone rings Thas announces another sale--the phone is beginning to sound like a cash register "Cha-ching" and I've been home here writing and blogging, and working on my photography. I really am proud of my wife--I don't generally like using the term "proud" because it has a sense of superiority about it, as if I am the grownup proud of my kid--but I can't help it because I really am proud. This woman is a survivor--moves from one country to another, then another, then back to the second one. I'm surprised she isn't dizzy and blonde, just so she could be a dizzy blonde. Hey, that sounds kind of sexist and I apologize to any dizzy blondes out there who may be offended. No offense intended, eh.

Friday, August 20, 2010

my day off


faster shutter
Originally uploaded by Rob Hoey
There was a time when I worked five days a week and had the weekends free to go into Manhattan and enjoy myself. That was when I worked as a psychologist. Then a time came when I worked the weekends and most other days, taking time off only when I had no appointments--that was when I worked in real estate and it was the toughest job I think I ever had. The way I soothed myself, and treated myself really nicely was to run full speed into walls, using my head as a buffer.
Only kidding.
But now I am a lowly immigrant and I'm an orphan. Both of my parents are dead--I don't use the term "gone" because it implies that they may be coming back and I know they aren't. So as an orphan immigrant I have a lot of time to myself; I mean a lot.
Thasneem is at work and called earlier to tell me the good news-her first actual day on the job (she had been in training prior to today) and she made her first sale. I knew she was going to be a success. She also has an interview next Thursday for a full-time position with CAS, the Canadian version of ACS, or The Administration of Children's Services where CAS is the acronym of Children's Aid Society. And this immigrant is at home writing his blog, taking photos of waterfalls, and earning enough money to buy the Metro, Ottawa's free newspaper.
But I am taking heart, holding out hope, and crossing my fingers for the permanent residency card to arrive soon. I believe I need to interview first, and I know that I will do okay there, but the waiting time for the card is actually worse than waiting your turn at the Department of Motor Vehicles in Manhattan at lunchtime on a sunny day.
Anyway, I'm making the best of trying situation. After all, I could be all depressed and miserable, but I'm not. I'm as happy as a kid with a bucket of gummy worms whose dad just bought him a ten speed bike.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Thas cooks as I shoot her


Thas cooks as I shoot her
Originally uploaded by Rob Hoey
Thasneem is an incredible cook, so we started a cooking business here in Ottawa. We've made a few contacts, shook a few hands, namaste'd a few South Asian business people, and even filled a few food orders. All well and good, but the problem is that we're now cooking from our home kitchen and we need to do everything we can to keep the odors of food out of our furniture, and the oil of cooking from bathing our new couches. I think we've succeed by the strategic placement of a floor fan near a window that goes out to the terrace. Winter should be fun.
But a funny thing happened yesterday when we were heating the stove. I had a flashback to my days in Vietnam, in the war. There was the unmistakable smell of Pandemonium Red number 101--a spliff-filler so powerful, it could make a naked man charge an enemy tank and beat it with a stick. (Believe me, I know this.) I looked at Thasneem, knowing that she never even held a marijuana joint in her hand, and asked her where that fantastic odor was coming from--she was as clueless as me. It turns out, the house we bought was being rented out to college students prior to our moving in and the stove must have had some old seeds underneath the elements. (This also gave us some insight into the colours chosen for the washrooms.) We cleaned it out and, as it turned out, all is well, but oh, the flashbacks to more innocent times--a time of war and killing, a time to be young, and a time to smoke up.
But not me--I was a good Marine--I'd never smoke pot.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

traffic jams


683
Originally uploaded by Rob Hoey
So what's the one thing you think of when you think of New York City and its population? Yes, traffic jams. I thought that Ottawa would be totally different but let's remember, Ottawa is in a western country just like New York, and there will be similarities. And of course, the one similarity on the negative side of life is the generic traffic jam. In New York City, particularly Manhattan, the jams are caused by intellectual deficits and automotive excess. In Ottawa, the jams are caused by these huge machines they call a Zamboni, which are used to smooth ice and flatten hot tar on new surfaces. Yes, I'm fairly certain they're using Zambonies because of the hockey craze here. I never saw so many hockey fans in one town like I've seen here. You'd think they'd invented the game or something.
The good thing about traffic jams is that they force me to take alternate routes, which then force me to learn new neighborhoods (oops, I mean neighbourhoods), and perhaps even give me photo ideas. The photo you see on this post isn't really Ottawa--I tricked you--it's actually Chennai, India. I shot this photo from an auto rickshaw while giggling from fear for my life because the cars come within a silly millimeter of each other and every moment feels like your last. The woman on the scooter is either scared, stupid, or religious, and none of them rules out any of the others.

Monday, August 16, 2010

reflections


reflections
Originally uploaded by Rob Hoey
I wanted to take more photos today. I took care of our budding food business, got in the car (his name is Doug), and drove over to Riverside, where I'd taken a few HDR's a few weeks ago. I found myself driving aimlessly along the side streets near the river. I could have parked, but I decided that there was nothing new here that I wanted to photograph. I think I'll need to concentrate on street photography--I started a group "Ottawa Street Photography" and I think that this is what I need to concentrate on. I've met a few people via Flickr online, and I like the work they're doing here. So many great photographers.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

first day away, eh

Thas is at The Brick taking her first class on sales, learning about furniture, style, and how to talk someone into spending a thousand dollars when all they came in for was a pillow to match their old couch. I have to admit that I envy her because she's already working--I really miss work because I feel about as useful as a garden hose on the Sahara Desert. But I tried to do some work around the house--like change a plug receptacle, which turned out to be a waste of time because there's something wrong with the wiring, not the old receptacle. I managed to put an extra hundred bucks on my mobile phone, however, which is a good thing in case I get a call from someone. . . anyone. But the writing is coming along--doing the story in first person--a first for me as I invariably use third person, author omniscient, which I wish I were. It's 5:00 p.m. plus, and Thas is still in training. I just hope my permanent residency card arrives before my cane and walker.
So Thasneem starts her new job tomorrow--The Brick--a furniture store, renown in all of Canada. She will be selling good quality furniture and I will be driving her there. I feel like I should wear one of those enormous white hats with the wide brim and a feather, cool shades, watch fob, tight white pants and white shoes as I take my lady to her place of business while I stay home and relax. Yes, I feel like a pimp! I can't feel good about her working and me hanging out. Maybe I'll write, but maybe I'll just hang. We shall see. We went on an interview on the far reaches of the soon-to-be frozen tundra of Ottawa. It described itself as a supervisory position but it was really a babysitting job with problem kids. Thas was able to imagine herself in the winter trying to simply negotiate the long ride to work and was able to say no to the position. Thus, The Brick is looking progressively better as night falls, eyes close, and minds wander all night, unable to sleep.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

theydontunderstand


theydontunderstand
Originally uploaded by Rob Hoey
Shopping in Canada is different than in the Big Apple. For one, you need to know how to calculate kilos, grams, kilograms, liters, milliliters and then convert them into pounds, ounces, quarts and gallons. Then and only then, will you know how screwed over you've gotten since paying for stuff in Canada vs. the USA. We're starting a food business and I've been trying to calculate our Ottawa food expenses with a Brooklyn brain. It's mind boggling, but I'm doing it.
The other thing I find really interesting and, in fact, downright cool about Canada (besides August) is that they don't assume you're going to need a plastic bag on checkout from the market. They ask you if you need a bag and charge you if you do. Being married to an Indian means that it's a terrible idea not to bring your own bags into the store because there is no way we're going to pay for a bag we don't need.. We can have 87 cans of veggies, a 4 liter (whatever that means) bag of milk wrapped in individual 1 liter bags to put into our little milk pitcher we had to hunt for days to find, a bag of chips, eggs, and a 99 ounce can of Tim Horton's Coffee, and you can bet that Thasneem will not let me buy a plastic bag to carry it, even if we left our cute little cloth bags at home. We're humping the load to the car even if I have to stuff a can or two where the sun doesn't shine and the cows find reminiscent of home. I will balance kidney beans upon my own kidneys (luckily they jut out slightly from not going to the gym), and cereal boxes will go down the front of my pants before Thasneem will buy a bag to haul our haul to the car.
So, lesson number one: always have your cloth bags in the car and be prepared to learn the metric system. And know that they just don't understand.
More to follow.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Oh Ottawa


cool
Originally uploaded by Rob Hoey
We've been working on trying to start a catering business. There are two stores that have used Thas's cooking and it seems to be selling well. We've made enough money to buy enough gasoline to drive to these two stores to drop off the food. Soon we'll be rich. We plan to move into a four bedroom home and convert the fourth bedroom into a kitchen with stainless steel six to eight burner stoves, Sub Zero fridge, and the works. Maybe we will even get a swimming pool that we can convert into an ice skating rink when September rolls around. We can rent it out to a semi-pro hockey team. Shoot dat puck; score dat goal.
Yes, Ottawa is as cold as a well-diggers anus in February. But we love it. The photo you see is of the magic castle somewhere in downtown, near the theater district that only shows hockey films. (Just kidding). The town is honestly quite beautiful. The architecture is interesting and the town even has its own Unknown Soldier, but I hear that there's a group of guys, ya know, in the local pub, eh, and they think they know who the guy is.
So I promised you that the Immigrant Manual will have a section on Shopping and it will follow--just you wait and see, eh.

Monday, July 26, 2010

houses along Linda ThomHDR


houses along Linda ThomHDR
Originally uploaded by Rob Hoey
Today was the first day we were able to actually relax and do Sunday stuff. So we shopped and I returned a refill for a new pen that our neighbor bought for me as a parting gift (sounds like a game show, doesn't it?). The previous refill got ruined because I had left it in my jeans pocket and Thas put it through the clothes dryer, which caused it to rupture and bleed blue ink blood all over the place. But the new refill is the correct size--I finally had the foresight to bring it along with me to Staples, rather than guess the length. I really like this new pen--it's short enough to fit in my shirt pocket without bottoming out, and I like the way it feels in my hand when I'm writing. Thus far, the only thing I've written with it are shopping lists and some phone numbers and addresses of places to shop. Lately that's what my life has become--one enormous shopping venture. (Notice I didn't say 'adventure.')
But today we took our cameras and went into town along some river or tributary alongside Linda Thom Park. I don't know who Linda Thom was or is, but she has a really nice park named after her and the photo above is an HDR to show a bit of what it looks like. Luckily there was a Tim Horton's nearby (I understand there are several in Canada) and I was able to evacuate some bodily fluids and enjoy the morning after a cup of Tim's Joe. The rest of the day was spent dealing with the myriad photos and Photmatix/Photoshop and editing them.
Now it's 2:30 a.m., Thas is asleep, and I'm ready to follow.
Goodnight Canada.
Goodnight Johnboy.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Canadian Manual for Immigrants

Moving is never easy and moving to another country is as difficult as juggling nitroglycerin in a mine field on a unicycle in the snow. Forget the unloading of the truck that broke your mother's antique Russian picture painted on glass. Forget the scratches on your furniture and the missing items that the illegal immigrant Mexicans you hired off the street to help load the truck, stole from you. Forget the schlepping of all your worldly possessions up three flights of stairs because you live in a multi-level condo that is cool in concept but rough on legs. No. The hard part of moving to another country (say Canada), is knowing how to throw out your garbage properly so that the garbologists who pick it up will not be offended by the genus of trash you should be recycling next week, instead of today. You see, in Ottawa, garbage is picked up only once a week and they alternate the week regarding which variety of garbage is considered the trash du jour. One week it might be cardboard; the following week it might be plastic. I say "might be" because then again, it might not--they never tell you. So I think a manual for immigrants is an excellent way for us "ferners" to learn all the intricate systems that exists beyond our knowledge.

1. The green pail is for household garbage, but not if you put it in the can in plastic bags because they don't take plastic from the kitchen garbage cans . . . but you must line these cans with plastic liners or you'll be out of garbage compliance, which means you get to keep it for another week.

2. Gift wrap your cardboard. Use a somewhat weak twine that, when put to the tensile test, it fails miserably and you must re wrap it again. For some reason the second wrapping generally works better, without suffering twine breakage. Twine scientists must have designed it this way to encourage excessive usage of this crap in order for twine merchants to send their kids to college.

3. Under no circumstances must you try to discard Styrofoam. Live with it. First of all, if you try to break it up into smaller pieces to fit the plastic bag, it will form into peanut size plastic snow-like pellets that will stick to your skin due to static electric conductance and will cause you to shake, rattle, and roll to get it off. But it will only come off when it's ready. Secondly, they don't take it on their garbage trucks, perhaps for the first reason mentioned.

4. If you are still sporting the same garbage after living in Canada for several weeks, put said waste in your personal vehicle and drive ten miles to the management company who a) did not inform you of the mailbox key procedures when you moved in; b) still did not inform you of the mailbox procedures after you called and left a message on their answering machine; and c) when you went there to inquire about the mailbox key in person (having driven ten miles again), were told that the key was with them until yesterday but now at the Quickies over on McCarthy Street; and dump said garbage in their personal dumpster on a Saturday when they are off from work and buying freaking hockey sticks and pads for their toddlers, eh.

Next session will deal with money and shopping.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Oh Canada

We are in Canada. They gave me a bit of a hard time at the border but nevertheless, they let me in and now they've got to find me to kick me out. But seriously, it's weird being an immigrant. (Is that the same as being an emigrant?) I have six months to apply for permanent residency or else. We'll be doing that in a few days--Thas is going to be my sponsor--I sponsored her for the USA and she for me in Canada.
Even my car cannot be registered with Canadian plates until I have my papers in order--sounds kind of Nazi-ish, if you ask me.
Except for the asshole driver for Ikea who was supposed to deliver our new office furniture yesterday between 5:00 and 9:00 p.m. but never arrived until 9:45 after we returned to Shabana's house, then called us in a huff asking me where was I and why didn't I answer the doorbell when he rang it, the people in Canada are very nice. The supermarket aisles can accomodate large shopping carts and large people without a problem. The drivers are generally quite courteous. The signs are in English and French, and there are trees and grass without the garbage as trimming.
More to follow.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Leaving the apple, remembering the taste, part deaux


cropped and supershopped
Originally uploaded by Rob Hoey
Today is the last day I can blog until after we settle in Canada. We've packed almost everything--luckily we left the fans out as parts of my body is sticking to the furniture that we've yet to pack. We have so many boxes, it feels like we're living in the hull of a ship. The hyperactive, playfully frenetic kid upstairs has actually quieted down the last few days-she has given us a respite perhaps because she knows we are leaving and this is her present to us.
There is another Bangladesh street fair going on along McDonald Avenue. They just had one a few weeks ago, but I guess they feel happy being here and are celebrating like crazy. It's nice. I will miss my Bangladeshi neighbors and their colorful doodads, which is just another word for duds.
When I pass PS 230, my old grammar school, I feel a bit sad, thinking this is going to be the last time I'll see it. But then a little voice in my head says, "You will be back . . . you will be back," and the voice turns out to be Thasneem.
We've gone through a half dozen rolls of wide adhesive tape and two rolls of duct tape, which I like to call duck tape because most Brooklynites think that's the real name. I also refer to it as gaffer's tape because gaffers use it to hold just about anything together, much like the Coney Island auto repair street gang. You absolutely cannot have enough duck tape, and Prospect Park cannot have enough ducks.
We gave away the television, a file cabinet, and lots of chotzkees. Our neighbors next door bought a few pieces of furniture from us and my butt is hurting from my fat wallet. Thasneem even has a deal working with the assistant super in the buiding and he may be buying her cell phone, which is clear proof that she kicks my ass when it comes to selling.
Now I know that I've said I'll really miss Brooklyn and Manhattan, but will Brooklyn and Manhattan miss me? I don't know. I just know that life is like a box of ExLax--you get out what you put in when used properly.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Leaving the apple, remembering the taste


Me BW shopped and cropped
Originally uploaded by Rob Hoey
This is my new hood--we'll be there in less than a week and the move makes me just a bit nervous. I'm wearing a Partnership With Children tee shirt that Thas got for me from her job, a job that she happily left yesterday after they refused to understand that she needed Monday off to prepare for the move. They also tried to pile on as much busy work as possible, even asking that she deliver a computer to the main office. I told her that it's foolish of them to waste her hourly salary on manual labor when they could more wisely use another worker to do the job. Now she's at the school graduation for the kids her program serviced along with other kids who are graduating from the school--I just received a text from her stating that no one else from PWC is in attendance at this graduation. Funny, she was also the only one from PWC to attend the school's Christmas party (I went with her and it was interesting). So, PWC is losing a great supervisor in Thas, not to mention the fact that three other supervisors have also turned in their resignations for reasons not having to do with happy life changes, but more to do with their intolerance of program issues (read 'problems'). And so it ends--just one more company whose misuse and abuse of their human resources caused those resources to dry up. The people who are staying are those who can ill afford to leave and look elsewhere for employment opportunities. They are chronically late, have no idea of theory or treatment strategies, and lack the intelligence to acquire them.
We are so happy to be leaving for Ottawa. We have so much to look forward to--a most excellent life adventure,  Shabana, Frankie, and the Ottawa Senators.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

What I Miss


I saw an interesting writing prompt today entitled, "What Have You Lost?" I thought about how wonderful this prompt is because it evoked so many thoughts. I'd like to share some of them and perhaps you can share some memories too.

I have lost the dependency upon someone who loved me more than life, who fed me, touched my head or face a certain way, and took me shopping with her. She always held my hand crossing the street. She taught me everything I needed to know to start me off. She was one of the gentlest souls I ever knew--a person who wouldn't hurt a thing.

I am not now ready to stop.

I lost someone who I referred to as "Ellen Bellen Watermelon," when we were children. It was a nickname I gave her because I loved nicknames. (My grandfather was "Baldy Bean"). She was a few years older than me and we had different friends, but when we learned that she had breast cancer, I was devastated. I visited her in Boston, near the end, after everything was tried at Duke University and the bone marrow transplant was called off, and she ended up at Women's Hospital, without hair, and terrified of what lay ahead. I lied to her about an afterlife because I believed it would take some of the fear of death away, but it didn't. That's because she knew what I know about all that wishful thinking. I visited Ellen in the morning and after a while, went to the hospital cafeteria for coffee. She died while I was gone.

I miss running. I miss the wind in my face, the taste of sky on my lips, and the disconnection of mind and body as I moved through space. And with running, I miss the fitness I had when I ran. Although I go to the gym, I know that I'll never have that level of fitness back again.

But what I miss the most are all the people I've known, places I've been, and the memories of my youth. But today and the days that follow will be what I shall miss the most as I become old and tired and ready to stop.

I lost a man who made special time for me. The rides back to Brooklyn from the country, just the two of us in his car, stopping for coffee and a crumb bun. Getting to the house and running the rusty water in the faucets until they bled clean. A man who had all the answers to all my boyhood questions, like "why are there metal grills on the bridge?' and he would make up some answer like, "to warn drivers if there's an accident up ahead--if the car sways to the side, you better slow down," and I'd believe every word as if it were written by the hand of god, and in a way they were.