Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Long Overdue

Just how long can one procrastinate about doing this?  Well, I am my father’s child!  My Mom would laugh at that.
There was no funeral for my Dad; there was no obituary in the newspaper.  I just couldn’t do it.  I wasn’t ready at Christmas 2010 and I wasn’t ready at the one year anniversary, either.  But I’m ready now.

Malcolm Llewellyn Cannon
April 22, 1930 – April 28, 2010
  Mac was born and grew up in Toronto, graduating from York Memorial Collegiate Institute in 1948.  He then went on to Ryerson Institute of Technology where he studied jewelry-making from 1949-1951.  Why did he never become a working jeweler?  I must have asked, because the impression I got: There were no jobs.  Perhaps it was an early warning to avoid the arts as a career!

Mac definitely had his weakness for military music from an early age, earlier than I had thought.  He started as a drummer and stayed a drummer and drum major for many years, joining a variety of bands wherever he lived.  The first band I remember was the Port Hope Pipe Band, but unfortunately I’d need some prompting to recall names of any members.  I don’t think there is anyone left to give those prompts…  (oh, wait, Ray Turk was a friend of his…. If I think about this long enough, who knows what I’ll come up with!)

Another passion Mac enjoyed was woodworking.  I don’t ever recall the house without some sort of project involving the cutting and finishing of wood taking place.  Mac learned some useful observations while working with power tools which he passed on to me.  Things like:

  • It doesn’t stop when you say “ouch”.
  • Measure twice, cut once.
  • If you’re going to hire a carpenter, count his fingers….

Somewhere in the early years, he befriended Ken Asselstine and they became lifelong friends.  Ken was the best man at Mac & Marie’s wedding in 1953 and may have even had a hand in introducing them.   Ken was always the guy to reach out to Mac if he didn't hear from him. 

The “real” jobs began with Household Finance which he joined in October 1951 and he remained in the Finance business for 20 years, moving from lackey to manager and from Ontario to British Columbia with a two year “sentence” in Moose Jaw. 

With Fred Watcher
I’d say a bit of Scotch had been consumed prior to this photo….
Ontario homes were in Burlington, Port Hope, Aurora and Strathroy.  I gather Strathroy needed, or had just started, a pipe band.  They required pipers, not drummers. “Drummers are a dime a dozen” was a phrase I recall from somewhere.  Okay, maybe that’s my piper’s bias showing through…..  They needed pipers, so Mac learned to pipe.  He was given his friend Dusty Miller’s pipes and those are the pipes I later played.  Another important friendship was formed in Strathroy.  Fred and Voda Watcher became lifelong friends to my parents.
Strathroy was also where dachshunds became part of our lives.  And I’m pretty sure it wasn’t my mother’s choice of breeds!  Schnapps, Schmidt, Teufel and a host of other four-legged furkids, named after various German field marshalls, left their marks on our hearts.  And the occasional chewed high heels….

Mac didn’t think too much of Moose Jaw.  He wasn’t much for howling winds and Saskatchewan gumbo, as he called the mud there.  He did make a friend that he always spoke of with fondness.  John Stolarski was an RCMP dogmaster who lived with his family near us.  I have vague memories of a New Year’s Eve party with John in his red serge and Mac in his kilt topped by John’s buffalo coat.  That could be the night I came in from playing street hockey with frost-bitten toes…..  Mom was all dressed up.   
Mac took me to Taylor Field in Regina to watch my first Saskatchewan Roughriders’ game.  I got heat stroke there….   Hey.  *I* liked Saskatchewan!  Sand dunes on the window sills, tumbleweed caught in the fence, snow drifts over the house.  What’s not to like?  And Dad gave me 25₵ a week to go to the Sprigs O’ Heather Pipe Band and learn to pipe.  He said he wouldn’t teach me and likened it to teaching your wife to drive. 

Mac must have thought he won the lottery when he pulled the manager’s job in Duncan, BC.  In 1968 we left the gumbo behind.  Mac stayed with the finance business till 1971 when he started a furniture refinishing business.  During the summers I often got to go on various jobs with him as an extra set of hands.  I cannot count the number of things I learned and the confidence I gained by watching and listening.  I don’t think Mac was ever bored as a self-employed person, but I think some of the jobs weren’t too much fun.  Like cleaning up after fires.  For a while his work vehicle was a Volkswagen Bug.  He removed the back seat and it was amazing what he could fit inside that thing!

And another pipe band was born in his wake.  I was in this one and that band took us all over. It seemed like every summer weekend involved a parade or band competition somewhere.  The Seattle Seafair Parade was one trip of particular memory.  The crowd was so noisy Mac had to walk alongside each rank of pipers and yell the name of the next set we would play.  There was security on the tops of the buildings – and they were armed.  We were *really* glad they liked bagpipes!

In the 80’s Mac was an industrial first aid attendant.  I’m surprised he never studied to become a paramedic.  He was fascinated with Biology. I still have his coveted Biology text book. Maybe it was the Latin he liked.  Weird.  First Aid took him all over BC, mostly to mining sites and construction.

During this time, my parents built and re-designed their home overlooking Cowichan Bay. They became cat owners and staff to furry ladies.

 The family joke was that Mac was a “do-it-yourself husband” with a “get it done wife”.   Sometimes it’s just better to hire a contractor….  And that is what they should have done with the spiral staircase in the silo.  It was not finished when my mother passed away.  It was not done when he passed away.  It was almost as though when it was finished there was no reason to go on.
Mac died of lung cancer six days after his 80th birthday.  He had stopped smoking 20 years earlier.  We had a little party in the hospital on his birthday and the highlight was watching his eyes light up when he saw his oldest grandson. Perhaps he was remembering the tiny boy who wanted to trade his soother for a sip of beer.

I miss his quirky humour and twisted turns of phrase.  I miss his ability to fix almost anything.  I miss “tool talk” and discussions about his “beloved BC Lions”.  I miss stopping at Cowichan Bay.

A belated thanks to Karyn Hatt for being such a kind friend and neighbor to both Mac and Marie over the years. You are a gem.

In memory of Mac, give your kitty or doggy an extra long hug today or listen to some celtic music.  Or both.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Jack Layton

Unfair is the word that comes to my mind when I think of Jack Layton.  I don't think Canada has seen such a charismatic leader since Pierre Elliot Trudeau.  If he was a Liberal or Conservative, he'd be Prime Minister now.

It's almost unfathomable to think that a mere 16 weeks ago Jack Layton was celebrating a huge political victory for the NDP party as the votes were tallied at the end of a long election campaign. He became Leader of the Opposition in the House of Commons that day.  He looked healthy and vibrant.
Yesterday Jack Layton died of cancer at the age of 61.  On Saturday, Canadians will honour him with a State Funeral in Toronto.

Two days before he passed, Mr. Layton wrote a letter ending with a message to all Canadians.

"My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world." 
His loss is unfair.  Unfair to him as he was not able to fulfill the job he'd worked so hard to acquire.  Unfair to his family who has lost so much.  Unfair to all Canadians who have been robbed too soon of a man who would work tirelessly for the good of all.

No matter what your political leanings, Jack Layton was an inspiration. I thought this was profound when I saw it shown on the news tonight.  It was written on the impromptu memorial wall outside Toronto City Hall.

Friday, August 19, 2011

So You Think You Can Dance - Season 8

I have been completely captivated by this show this season.  The combination of athleticism and artistry has been amazing.  Right from the start, I was charmed by Melanie Moore and Marko Germar.  Melanie went on to win the vote for America's favourite dancer last week.  Thumbs up to my friend Barbi who voted by proxy for Melanie on my behalf!
(If you are receiving this as an email update, please click on the title to view the videos on the blog)

They were the only couple who rented outside studio space.  They were driven to excel - and they did.
Here are my favourite routines by these dancers.

But the routine below is the one I really love.  The premise is that Marko's character was jilted at the alter, Melanie's character is his best friend.  And the one he should be loving has been in front of him the whole time.  Watch Melanie's hand at :28-:29.  She talks with her hands throughout this piece.  Love it!

You can find Melanie on Facebook here.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Anderson Cooper's 21 Pun Salute!

My impression of Anderson Cooper is that he is a serious journalist - intelligent and driven.  Well, my friend sent me a link to yesterday's Ridiculist segment. 
He completely loses it. He snorts, he giggles, he cries.  And so do I!  I have rewatched this many times today and I howl everytime.

Now what's even better?  He added himself to the Ridiculist today!  What a class act!
I started watching the video above about 11 am this morning when it had 2,000 viewings and 10 hours later this particular version has 77,000 viewings!  There are a lot of us enjoying this!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Hawaii 2010

It was over far too quickly!