Archive for November, 2009

Common Ground

November 28, 2009

Two Cents’  Worth in the Nickel City
Common Ground

Relocating from the U.S. to Canada is an adjustment and a test, not only in attitude but in thinking. I have to admit my knowledge of the Great White North is limited. As I venture out I am stricken by the similarities and the contrasts to Florida, where I am from.  You have Walmart, Mc Donalds, Shell gasoline and Sears. We don’t have Canadian Tire, Tim Horton’s, Petro Canada or Zeller’s.  In  Florida we have palm trees,  straight, flat landscapes and miles of white, sandy beaches.  In Ontario you have maple trees, winding, hilly streets and miles of dark, jagged rocks. You have vast blue skies, fiery sunsets and seagulls.  We have vast blue skies, fiery sunsets and… seagulls. Hmm, what do these birds know that I do not?  Common ground.

This past winter was the first time since 1971 that the entire Canadian landscape enjoyed a white Christmas. People here say it was for my benefit. One of the most frequent expressions I have heard since I have arrived here is, “It’s not too bad outside” contrary to what you might hear further south, “It’s friggin’ colder than a well digger’s ass ”.  I don’t know if that makes Canadians tougher than Floridians, maybe they just take it in stride. I have been on the beach in Florida in January and heard visitors from up North complain of it being cold at 50 degrees F.  Cold is cold, no matter how you feel about it.

I am also told I have an accent. I’ve maintained my Mid-western drawl but embellished it with a southern “ya’ll” that kind of meshes into a Mid-west/southern “golly gee willickers.”.  Generally I look like most Canadians do, but when I start speaking I get the “You must be from the States, eh?”.   Most people cannot believe I would re-locate from sunny Florida to the frigid North. Usually they get a glossy- eyed expression and ask the inevitable, “WHY DID YOU DO IT?”  But I just smile.

One thing I did marvel at that probably would not have happened in the United States was while my wife and I were shopping in a liquor store buying wine. There was music being piped in over the intercom that I wasn’t really paying attention to until I heard, Sweet Little Shoe by Jesse Winchester. Canada was his adopted home for a number of years and when I recalled that, all my apprehensions swiftly dissolved away. I knew I could make a home here with that sort of recommendation. In fact, there is a virtual treasure trove of Canadian artists I might never have heard of (and some that I have) had I not relocated here… which kinda sweetens the deal.

It will test my mettle, I have no doubt.  But I do it for love and that is the soundest, most relevant motive I can think of. I do it with humility and good old fashioned Yankee ingenuity, along with the unwavering support of my beautiful girl… which makes any test worthwhile.

First Pitch

November 21, 2009

Two Cents’  Worth in the Nickel City
First Pitch

As an American writer, I imagined once how it would feel to approach the editor of a big city newspaper and “pitch” an idea for a new column.  I had read somewhere that the best way to partake of any new venture is to play it out in your mind first, like a dress rehearsal.  By doing this you would take into consideration the method of accomplishing your goal, what obstacles to avoid and the unforseen circumstances to overcome.  That way when you get around to actually doing the deed, it will come to you as if by rote, automatically.

I am new to Canada, there are a lot of contrasts compared to the American way of life.  Politics, entertainment, social issues, each one affects us in different ways.   There is the climate factor, employment, the language, all sorts of fodder for my creative mind.  But in my plan for submitting this idea,  I would not be a meek and mild Clark Kent of the Daily Planet.

The black- and- white scenario that projected in my mind made me the Curt Schilling of pitching new ideas.  I would stride into the corner office and my very presence would metaphorically scream, “Stop the presses ” as I hurled well placed salvos like filet-mignon wrapped with the ribbons of originality.

My initial idea?  To write about “nothing.”  I could just “Forrest Gump” my way through the sights and sounds of this Canadian community reporting my American reactions while using my usual flair for resplendent detail.  What could be a more creative way to give my two cents’  worth?  But my projector threw a belt and the film started to unceremoniously melt on my mental screen, causing the reel on the loose spindle to spin and snap its celluloid tail.

“Already been done.”  would be my future editor’s fatalistic response.

“Been done?  By who?” Or is it, by whom?

“Jerry Seinfeld, 1989-98.  You’ll need to come  up with something else.”

Of course, I do what every other self-confident professional would do in a similar situation.  I stall.

“What do you mean, come up with something else?”

“Something different.”

And right then and there I would curse syndication and American programming.  What place does it have on Canadian television, anyway?  Now the wheels are turning.  The boss wants something fresh, different, and readable.  I need to make an appeal.  I require foresight and depth.   That is where you, dear reader, come in.

As an American from Florida currently residing in Sudbury, surely you have a question or two about why I am here?  Something on your mind?  Just feel like venting?  Don’t care what Americans think?  Drop me a line, I’d love to hear from you.  Anything is better than nothing, right?  Besides, that was my concept.  It’s not my fault that Seinfeld came up with my very own original idea first.  So you cannot just sit back and do nothing and I think you know why.

Because nothing has already been done.

350 is not just another number, and other nifty warm thoughts

November 8, 2009

Time to pause and reflect… ahhh, that’s better. 

I’ve been rather busy lately and haven’t taken the time to do the thing I love most.  But now here it is Sunday morning and as I glance out at the crystal clear blue Canadian sky, the sun is rising on our sleepy little neighborhood with not a creature stirring… not even a mouse.  We’ve had a brush with winter already.  One morning in particular had snow flurries so thick it made it difficult to see the highway and I had to wonder, “Am I prepared for this?”  But this morning the sun is warm and the snows of a week ago have all melted away.  The grass is still green and if not for the barren trees, one might think it was Spring.  Am I prepared for winter?  Probably not.  But unlike the nomadic Canadians who relish the cold and all those winter activities, I shall endure by thinking warm thoughts.

I’ve been thinking about my Dad lately.  Perhaps it was because the Iowa Hawkeyes had gone 9-0 up until yesterday. story.asp?S=11436708    Back a few years ago, before ESPN and the Big Ten Network, the only way you could follow a game on game day without actually being there was to listen to the radio broadcast.  The Hawkeyes are not a big name team, like Ohio State or Notre Dame, though they play in the toughest conference in college football.  Each year there are at least 4-5 Big Ten schools in the top 25, more than any other conference.  My Dad loved sports and having been struck by Parkinson’s Disease in his mid-thirties, following the Hawks in what ever the venue they were playing in was a great way to spend a Saturday.  I spent many colorful Autumn afternoons listening to football with him.  He would have been ecstatic rootin’ for the Hawkeyes now, even with their loss to Northwestern yesterday.  I cannot think of a more loyal fan.  Funny how memories come and go.  Though he has been dead for going on two decades, until recently… I haven’t thought of my Dad in years.





350 was a topic of interest a week or so ago.  I had read an article in the local newspaper about the climate and this organization that was moving towards the lessening of carbon in the atmosphere.  The writer admitted it wasn’t a number she was familiar with until she began writing the article, but recommended that we all should become acquainted with the movement, so now… you are, too.  Can we do something about global warming and the air we breathe?  I don’t know, but perhaps it is worth a try.  My Dad used to say, “There’s no sense in getting mad, you just have to get glad again.”  It would be good to get glad about the environment again.

This is my 350th post.  I looked on the Internet for other remarkable 350 milestones.  There is the Oldsmobile Rocket 350 and the 350 Chevy engines.  There is the 350 Z from the company formally known as Datsun.  In the year of our Lord, 350: the city of Antioch (Turkey) installed the first lighting system in the world.  (gotta love the Internet)  There  are only two NFL quarterbacks who have thrown at least 350 touchdowns. (ditto)  China’s 350 million cigarette smokers consume 1/3 of the product worldwide.  “… killing me softly with each drag…” (double ditto)  Sex actually started 350 million years ago. (triple ditto)  The constellation, Ophiuchus (the Serpent Holder), is 350 million light-years away.  (quadruple ditto) and 350 million dollars is just a drop in the bucket for a virtual site.  (quintuple ditto)  So what’s next for AMRFP?  (not to be confused with AARP)

After a self-imposed exile of two months and an unceremonious rejection from the local newspaper, the writing urge is still burning inside of me.  I wrote a short story recently and entered it into a contest sponsored by CBC Radio.  I cannot put it here because that would garnish a disqualification since they consider online publishing of an un-published work “publishing”.  Needless to say; win, lose or draw… it will appear here eventually.  I also still have the 8 original articles that I submitted to the local paper and will begin placing them here starting with post #351.  I have taken a break from the Shades of Hemingway series, but that doesn’t mean I do not think of it from time to time and will eventually post the conclusion here, much to your chagrin.

So, at my 3.5 centuple I would just like to say… thanks.  It has been very therapeutic for me and encouraging.  I look forward to other milestones in the future and hope to continue Advantages of Mutual Respect and Fair Play for a little while longer.