Thursday, June 23, 2011

Summer Life and Travel

Hello everyone. It's been quite a while since my last post. I've been on two trips which some might think complete opposites of each other. Both, however, were very inspirational and restorative. The first trip was the multiethnic conference in Grand Rapids Michigan. It was a long drive down there and back but the company was excellent. Things went quite well overall. I met and talked with a whole bunch of people who are interested in making my adopted denomination one which better shares power, resources, and leadership with all of the many diverse people who belong to it. If I came away with anything, it was a reminder of just how much room there is in God's kingdom. The workshops were interesting also giving a kind of overview of the many steps being taken to solve diversity issues faced by my denomination and others. With God pitching in and all of these good people and ideas, we'll get there eventually. What good one does by going to these events is somewhat difficult to quantify. While I've learned a lot myself, I find it hard to tell whether I contributed much. A whole lot of people took an interest in me as I went about with all my gadgets and such. I'm hopeful that perhaps, my perspective on people which isn't based on appearance may have given some folks there food for thought. Also, there were a number who were quite shocked that I could use an iPHONE and netbook. Perhaps, that will cause them to re-think any preconceptions they may have had of other ethnic groups. At long last, I finally was able to hear some of the resistance to change and inclusiveness up close. In some of the questions asked of presenters, you could hear the fear of change. How far would things go? What might have to be left behind? I still have material to go through from the workshops. I gave quite a number of people my contact information and very much hope to hear from some eventually. They're the kind of people who I'd be honoured to call friends.

My second trip was to Selkirk Ontario where I spent last weekend camping with five other fine folks including my friend Ron Schamerhorn. In contrast to the fast-paced hectic conference, there was plenty of time to relax and talk. I don't see most of these people between these excursions. However, over the years, they've become far more than simple camping companions due to the sheer dint of conversation we've had. Each of them is going at life a little differently. There's a couple who are trying to climb the career ladder while keeping a marriage going. They travelled with a friendly if excited little dog. As much as I enjoy petting her, I was also once again made profoundly thankful that I chose to go with a cane rather than a dog. They're like having a little kid around who you have to keep an eye on all the time. Not at all what I'd want in life without the compensations that come with raising an actual child. There was Ron, my friend who's pretty much in my position in life other than having a couple of nasty vices to deal with. He consumed far more beer than I did but seemed none the worse for it. Had I drank that much, I believe I would have been positively ill. He, on the other hand, maintained his faculties surprisingly well. The organizer of the camp is a happily single non-religious Jew who teaches mentally challenged kids. He very much enjoys these outings as occasions where he can say what he thinks without reprimand and blow off some steam. He's a very good cook even after alcohol has sunk its teeth into him. A polite Nova Scotian who has made Ontario his home was the last of my companions five. Always willing to help, he's the kind of guy who you'd cheerfully trust with your life. Very even-tempered and easy-going. There were a lot of differences but despite those, the group just seemed to glide through a most enjoyable weekend. It's interesting who fate throws together and who remains friends where others fall away. As usual, there were some misadventures. By the time I realized that my sleeping bag and pillow weren't in the tent, it was absurdly late and the man with keys to the truck where said articles were happened to be asleep. I thought I'd spare him the extra wake up since he hadn't slept well over the past while. I, for one, can strongly sympathize with what that's like and figured I'd be fine in my clothes. Drifting off more easily than I normally do, I was surprised to wake up shivering in the early hours of Saturday. It seems sleeping bags have their uses after all. Didn't think nearly so much wind would come into the tent as was the case. On Saturday night, I had a far more comfortable and solid sleep thanks to the sleeping bag and pillow. There was also the small but amusing incident, [to them], of my falling backwards out of a less than stable chair first thing in the morning with no alcohol required. The weekend was full of good-natured teasing and fun. I partially zoned out of a conversation and tried to reenter it with a bit of a non-sequitur earning me the nickname of Bananas. I profoundly hope that one doesn't stick. An annual trip with this bunch is something I wouldn't be a bit surprised to still be enjoying decades from now. Having a weekend with people who actually have time and inclination to talk to each other is an extremely enjoyable change from days spent in this apartment even if I've come to better terms with what passes for normal life.

There was a dinner and evening at the Dam on Monday. It combined a brief board meeting with a fellowship evening for all the volunteers and was very enjoyable. Learning a little about the actual effect we as an organization were having was most interesting. I also got to talk with a number of people who I volunteer with at some length. Any opportunity to get to know people in a relaxed fashion is most welcome. Tuesday was unexpectedly free since the Dam was closed for a staff meeting. I spent it doing laundry, tidying up around here, and ordering groceries. I also got in a walk around the lake before the rain started up. It took a little longer to do this grocery order since I've tried to adjust things to have as little wasted by my week away at Lake Jo and other trips like this weekend's as possible. Everything arrived yesterday with only a few substitutions. I'll just need to get some fruit and vegetables once back from vacation. This Summer is certainly draining my cash reserves more than I anticipated but I'll manage to enjoy it without going into debt or anything. After 2012, I'll be out of my TV and Internet contract with Rogers and be able to scale those back gaining extra wiggle room that way. I don't use TV all that much these days and would switch to a basic package now if there weren't a penalty to pay for doing that. I may also be able to go with a lighter Internet package although that'll require some further consideration over the next while. It gets easier to understand what drives many of my fellow ODSP recipients over that edge of inpatient hopelessness where they stop caring if they go into debt and spend for a moment's enjoyment. I thank my lucky stars that my father taught me what being in debt was like before it really mattered. Not being compelled to spend on cigarettes or alcohol are two more precious advantages I have. I'm ever so glad that neither of those addictions have gotten the better of me. My nature drives me more in the direction of a clear steady mind that would rather escape into a book or game than a bottle any day. I'll never even entertain the notion of trying cigarettes, but certainly enjoy a good drink. Perhaps, I'm more cautious with alcohol than I need to be. Eight beers proved an extravagant enjoyment for my camping weekend while others consumed three times as much. I simply like to remember my good times and savour the taste of beer rather than any buzz. For a time after Janene walked away from me, I fell into the trap of using alcohol as a means to try to escape from time itself letting myself zone out rather than face yet another empty dull afternoon. However, I learned that the price was a kind of lingering heavy frustrated lethargy which prevented the enjoyment of more time which could have been better used were I not under its effects. I don't believe I'll fall into that trap again now. Patience and discipline are worth their weight in gold when you live a life like this.

It's Thursday afternoon now. I've been pecking at this blog entry for quite some time. The rain is hammering down on my balcony railing but none is blowing in through my open screen door. You almost feel like you're cheating nature hearing so much force, being able to stand out beyond your door without getting drenched for reckless impudence. I've grown very fond of my balcony. It adds a very welcome dimension of space which I couldn't have appreciated until I had one in my own dwelling here. Cabin fever would have been far more an issue for me over the last year had my apartment not included one.

Each trip this Summer has given me quite a lot to think about. I know that eventually, these experiences will make their way into my creative writing projects and autobiographical book. Events like the conference just have so much packed into them that it's hard for me to properly document them as they occur. Others like the camping trip demand a certain circumspection when blogging about them. This weekend, I'm off to visit Michelle and Jerry. They were the two friends who I haven't seen in eight years who discovered me on Facebook. This will be my first visit their way. I'll be staying overnight and beginning the process of teaching them more about their computers. Both Michelle and Jerry have managed to get onto Twitter themselves although I expect there are some finer points to help them with. I'll be bringing my netbook along to help give them more of a crash tour of what kinds of things are available and accessible to them. It'll be interesting to see how this more extended get-together goes. We've led very different lives. Neither of them are as well read as I am nor so prone to deep thinking. Especially when teaching them about computers, I'll have to be very mindful that they likely aren't going to know things that I've come to take for granted over the years. There should be lots to talk about as I become more familiar with what their normal lives are like, but I could be wrong. At least I've found two people who are interested in attempting serious friendship. That's more than I can say for most residents of my building. From force of habit, I remove the chain lock each morning on the off chance someone should knock. Nobody ever has though. It's simply a habit born of misplaced hope. Despite all the changes over the past while, I still often go days without opening my apartment door. I certainly won't be going out today with all the rain that's been coming down. Glad I got out yesterday with dad for a nice brunch at Symposium Cafe. Their burgers and martinis are still as awesome as ever. The staff are friendly as they always have been despite all the changes in management over the years. It's good to have a place like that which I can reach on my own.

In a little over a week, I'll be going on my trip to Lake Joseph. Things are pretty much in hand regarding that. I'll take up pretty much the same stuff as last year. Granted, there is a whole lot more on my netbook in terms of audio and music. I recently bought a bunch of Patrick O'hearn's music. I was impressed by a number of pieces I heard on Sky FM's new age Internet radio station over the past while and I hadn't added to my library of instrumental music in quite some time. If nothing else, I'll at least have a week among people who share some of my audio interests. Lets just hope they're in possession of more of their faculties than some notable ones were last time. A week of good conversation among people who have at least shared some of my experiences in life would do a whole lot of good. There's always the slight hope that I'll come away with some new friends or perhaps even something more. A very slight hope given the distances around Ontario people come to Lake Joseph from, but you never know. it's happened before to more than just me. There hasn't been so much as a nibble from either of the dating sites I'm still on. I've laid my cards out on those tables as best I might and done all that I think worth doing on those sites. Either it'll happen or it won't. Meanwhile, there are a lot of perks to enjoy as a single man. One of which is rediscovering and reading books one has read before. I've been going through the Rift War saga again by Raymond E. Feist. The CNIB digital library has them all narrated by a fantastic English guy who more than does them justice. I guess they've got some sort of deal with the RNIB these days. Long may that partnership continue. Those books have done a great deal to bring a sense of companionship and adventure to the many hours which have otherwise lacked this quality in real modern life.

Well I guess that pretty much brings you up to date. Not much has happened on the writing front although I've done a little work on the online dating chapter of my autobiographical book. Also, I've come up with a few new place ideas for enchantment's Twilight. Nothing tremendous, but I'll take every little bit of progress I can get these days and be very thankful for it. As to insomnia, I've been doing quite well in the sleep department lately. All the activity of the past while has gotten me feeling very good about things in general. But for a lack of creative ideas, I feel at the top of my game.

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