Monday, January 9, 2012

Amazing Meaningful Holidays

Hello everyone. A blog entry is again well past due. It's been a very eventful couple of weeks. So eventful that I'm not going to even attempt to put things in chronological order. You'll just have to follow my stream of consciousness as it meanders through the tail end of 2011 and start of 2012. It's been a tremendously restorative good time. It's very early on Saturday morning as I begin writing this. I'm awake after an early begun five hours of solid sleep. Hopefully, I'll grab a bit more later. A cup of herbal tea, Calm Infusion, sits beside me at my desk. My computer is also in the process of converting The Passage by Justin Chronen. Hope I got the spelling right. I waited two months so I had two credits to spend. As a result, a book which could have cost $70 has cost me $28. Not bad. It's a long five-parter.

Christmas was an absolute joy this year. So was Christmas eve. usually, I would go to church on one of those two days. However, unlike every other year, my family had events on both those days and then nothing on Boxing day. I doubt that'll happen again in the next decade. I don't feel at all convicted about not attending church over the holidays. God knows my heart and where it's at. Looking back over the past couple of weeks, I've actually spent quite some time thinking about and discussing faith with my friends. Christmas day was spent in Hamilton in my brother's house. That seems to be the best thing to do with three little ones who can open and play with all their stuff. They had a terrific day and seemed to appreciate all their gifts. Ava wrote her name right away in the notebook I gave her. The flashlight from Mountain Equipment Co-op went over very well. Dad now has some money to spend on iTUNES. Mom has six games from Bigfish Games plus credits for a couple more thanks to one small mistake and the generosity of Bigfish Games making it right. After all the hustle and bustle, it was good to have nothing planned on Boxing day. I needed it to recover. I was given a pair of gloves with conductive material in the fingertips which let me use my iPHONE while wearing gloves. That was a very thoughtful idea which really stood out for me this year.

The space between Christmas and New Year's was a tad empty in places. I had family visits and also found that catching up with people online somewhat softened the solitary days. I also found myself re-reading Stephen King's The Stand. Every once in a while, that book pulls me in for another dark journey. The time passed surprisingly quickly as I made preparations for my upcoming gathering. Another pastime was Pontes Backgammon. It's a terrific polished implementation of accessible Backgammon on the computer. I bought it for 13 Euros and will be enjoying it for years. It allows for single play against the computer or two-player games on the same computer or over the Internet. You can chat with your human opponents via text message. Check out what this Romanian charity group has pulled off at:
I'd still love to see how Spoonbill Software would do Backgammon. That would be nifty. However, it's hard to imagine a better piece of software. I guess the doubling cube is a missing feature. Mr. Humfreys would doubtless find other neat things to ad were he to attempt it.

New Year's Eve was interesting. The day began early as I caught the very tail end of Jonathan Mosen's new year's show from New Zealand. I later heard and enjoyed the podcast when more fully awake. The morning took a decidedly crappy turn when I discovered that the drain in my sink was plugged. Not wanting to bother anybody on New Year's Eve, I tried everything including plunging the drain and putting vinegar and baking soda into it. Nothing worked though and I had to call the superintend ant. They called the contractors who came out and ended up replacing my old pipe with a very smooth new one. They used a blowtorch to cut out the old one and/or put the new pipe in. Given all the wood and other combustibles in the vicinity of my kitchen cupboards, that was the last thing I was expecting to hear. I've never actually felt one of those contraptions but must conclude that they offer an amazingly focused level of precision. They also must be far smaller than I previously conjectured. I then had to clean up the place and counter area quite thoroughly before I felt I could continue with my day. Thank God they straightened that mess out so promptly. My drain now sucks down water like it never has before.

Half the potential guests I had invited failed to show up for my New Year's party. There were six of us for a brief while. Joseph and Rose wanted to also be a part of the church's New Year's activities. Adam, Jeanette, Stephen and I stayed up until around four AM. I'm very glad Joseph and Rose were able to make it for a good chunk of the festivities and got to know my other three guests. It says a lot that I still had such a good time even though so many friends failed to appear. I very much hope I can get more friends at some future gathering. It's always so fascinating to hear friends who have never met each other and how they interact. A smaller group trades that pleasure for a more intimate level of conversation that I find equally enjoyable. There was some disappointment but this was far outweighed by a strong sense of just how blessed I am by the friendship of others.

That sense was further strengthened by a journey I went on at Stephen's invitation after we had recovered from the New Year's celebration. We spent another couple of days at my place. Shirley came for a visit that I believe was much longer than she had originally intended. Good conversation just kept it going for something around four hours. Originally, I think she intended to stay perhaps half an hour. I hope she makes it to a New Year's gathering one of these years. She'd fit right in and enjoy herself despite the age gap. On Monday, Stephen and I set off for down town Toronto. I ended up spending four days in his company as we travelled around visiting friends. I got to meet Judy and reconnect with Jevan, a young lady I once encountered while at the SCORE camp run by the CNIB. She certainly seems to have found her stride in life. I was surprised she remembered me especially from that long ago. It was a very pleasant bit of travel and visiting.

I also got to visit Michelle McQuigge along with Steve. We showed her how our iPHONES worked and let her take them for a spin. She loves her old Nokia phone with its tiny keyboard. Given her amazing facility to text rapidly versus my agonized snail's pace tortured texting, I can't exactly blame her. Texting is far less a priority for me than for her. The benefits of having an iPHONE far outweigh the annoyance that I find typing on it to be. Not so for Michelle. Our discussion was pretty far-ranging and she seemed full of energy. She certainly handles a knife well when chopping vegetables. Steve and she seemed to hit it off well right away as I suspected they would. Sadly, during that first day, I lost the speaker for my Trekkor Breeze. They cost $25 each. It's the second one of those which I've had to purchase as the first one broke. While I was at it, I also bought a new battery for the Breeze. Add the expense of a set of Urban Ear headphones for my iPHONE as well as renewing my Apple Care plan for my iPHONE and you've got a pretty expensive start to 2012. We never checked the kind of cab someone found for us at the subway station so there was no way to inquire about the speaker. The driver was convinced that the noise was the seatbelt dangling and that's what I thought until we were well away from the cab. A mistake I don't plan on making again any time soon. From now on, the speaker goes into my pocket even during short cab rides or whenever it's not in use. An easily avoidable stupid absent-minded mistake on my part.

I was able to attend Meko's birthday celebration due to weather completely changing initial plans for Tuesday. Tuesday was just too cold to think of travelling. Stephen and I had a pleasant relaxed day at the Murgaski house. I got to show Steve a bit of Backgammon and we caught up with what had captured our interests over the past while. As always, the food was great and the conversation stimulating. I've always felt very comfortable and open around the Murgaski's and hope Steve has felt the same around my parents as has seemed to be the case over the many years of our friendship.

Wednesday was a chance to reconnect with Earle, Meko, and others I haven't seen in quite a while. I guess the last time I saw a lot of them was at Steve's going away party before he headed off to India. What an awesome adventure that turned out to be. Earle has a very spacious sounding apartment. He seems pretty happy with it over all. After hearing about that incredible fire in 200 Wellesley, I guess I had expected to find him in a far smaller more cramped space with the added presumption that most units in the building would be similarly small cramped affairs. The reality is of course quite different. It's too bad he had to lose some irreplaceable stuff as a result of the fire but I'm glad he wasn't anywhere near it when it happened. I remember the newscasters remarking how people would just go out on their balconies when they could have left the building. 2011 really seems to have been an eventful year for a lot of us. It's as if time just reached out and caught us in its fast-moving currents for a while.

While Earle, Steve and I sat together in his place, talk naturally turned to others from our grade school days when we first became acquainted. Apparently, Daniel still thinks rather uncharitably of both Earle and I. He apparently thinks we're Radio Shack quality people, whatever that means, and that we should be eliminated. I couldn't help but observe that when dealing with such remarks, one should always consider The Source. They got it. I'm amazed that he's still thinking about me at all after such a long time. I really must have struck one heck of a nerve with my last letter to him all those years ago. Hopefully, it'll ultimately work to his good and help him become a better person. That was, after all, the spirit in which I wrote it. I don't wish him any misfortune at all but believe he'll bring that upon himself unless he's changed or will change substantially from the man I once knew.

Steve and Earle both have superb mobility skills combined with a sense of location and geographical context that I can only dream of. The ease with which Steve guided me around the city was nothing short of profound. Even after extensive lessons in an area, I don't enjoy anywhere near that level of sense of location. I'm always waiting and hoping that next landmark will appear and dreading that it won't because I can't keep a larger mental map in my head for any length of time. On the other hand, it wouldn't surprise me if I actually move around a little more safely. Steve remarked that he thinks my place was nicely set up. It certainly is and I guess I do tend to keep it fairly neat. Still, I'd think his place would turn out somewhat similar if and when he obtains one. He still sees advantages living with his parents. They're very nice folks much like my own. Also, he has more freedom of action due to his navigation skills than I do. Even so, I would still conjecture that it would do Steve's sense of self and family good to have his own apartment. This is especially true when you start to connect with the community. I couldn't put into words how much that has helped me deal with everything.

Last week's trip has certainly opened things up in a pretty deep way. I keenly look forward to similar adventures in the future as ODSP economics permits. As much as my old friends help me get around, I believe I can help them in other ways as we all navigate life in this strange place society has put us. Earle wants to come out to my place for a weekend to show me more of the Mac operating system and feels I didn't give it enough of a chance. I would welcome such a tour from someone so accomplished and experienced as he is. However, I simply don't see myself just abandoning Windows even for a month as has been suggested to me. Simply put, I have other things on the go than mastering a whole other operating system. If I find that it can really do things better for me, that's great. I'll certainly make use of what I have. However, after my initial experience, I need a higher degree of proof that it's really worth my time mastering it. I just haven't been swept along with all the hipe. For me, the main blessing here is simply having reconnected with Earle, Meko, and others and not feeling like it's just a one-time thing. I absolutely welcome this new doorway which has opened even as I continue to hope for greater community involvement here in Meadowvale.

Some of that will happen fairly shortly. I've been invited out for drinks with people from my church who I never got a chance to connect with over the holidays. Doug and Nan are always a blast to be with. Tomorrow, I'll be meeting with John Morgan. Haven't seen him in quite some time. I'll be showing him some of what my iPHONE can do.

It's now very early Monday morning. I just had the most disgusting disturbing dream that has graced my subconscious in at least a year. I had a great time with everyone last night and don't think I deserved this nasty mental nugget at all. In the dream, I had to chop off the head of a deserter or face the prospect of him still being decapitated and my being drawn and quartered for good measure. He was such a nice man too. I felt absolutely rotten but there was no way out of the situation. My sword stroke wasn't strong enough to do the job neatly so I ended up lying the guy down and sawing through the rest of his neck. I don't believe I've ever felt so utterly disgusted and bad about what I was doing in my sleep before. You can appreciate why the thought of just lying down for more sleep seems quite absurd at the moment.

The one major event that I haven't written about at all is that I've broken up with Emily. There were a number of pretty big differences right from the start. My compassion can lead me into situations that I just don't have the resources to handle. I've got to be honest and acknowledge that my strong desire to find a life partner played a part in this misadventure also. Emily just completely shut down on me over the holidays being afraid that telling me her problems would have lead to the result which has now happened. Too much special meaningful time passed without her being a part of it at all. It made me see clearly how a whole lot of circumstances are going to have to come together for her to achieve any sort of real stability. As a friend, I believe I can be of real help to her in this journey. However, I just don't have the ego anymore to think that I have what it takes to deal with someone who just shuts off communication and disappears on someone she loves. She did the wrong thing for the best of reasons. I feel bad about how things went and wish I could turn back the emotional clock somehow. However, whatever spark of love I felt has simply disappeared. It's as simple as it is messy and un fare.

given all that's happened, I find myself in a place where that need for love has taken somewhat more of a back seat. Life has at last reached a point where I can see myself really being content as a single man from here on out. I would still very much hope to find someone stable, cheerful and intelligent to partner with. Having had two ladies show interest in me over this past year, I find that I have a great deal more hope that I will eventually come across a more suitable match for me. I fervently hope that Emily too will eventually find comfort with someone who shares more of her interests, likes Stevie Wonder's music, and doesn't mind the prospect of owning cats among other things. I very much want her to find happiness in life. Sadly, I've simply come to the conclusion that I'm not the one who can give it to her. It looks like we'll be able to stay friends once she's had some time to adjust her feelings toward me. Having that happen with someone who is actually near enough and has the time to come and see me would certainly be a refreshing welcome turn of events. Of course, there's still the question of whether or not to put up my dating profiles. I guess I probably will despite how ineffective they've been. Increasingly, I'm of the opinion that the next one will be someone who I either meet locally, at Lake Joe, or who finds and takes an interest in my blog. I guess the dating profiles can help lead people to that. If nothing else, it'll help me move on a little having left out my welcome cards so to speak. Meanwhile, I have a sense that there's now enough opportunity, meaningful connection and activity in life so that it doesn't feel like there are major pieces missing. I no longer feel so incomplete like a puzzle piece that can't quite slot in anywhere.

At last, it's approaching seven in the morning. That's a far more reasonable hour to shave, shower and prepare for the day. I'm feeling a tad tired but otherwise quite good about things. Writing things down always tends to help me work through stuff. I feel like this blog entry hasn't done these holidays justice. I've had such a wonderful and profoundly meaningful time. What I've captured here seems so inadequate but will simply have to serve. This year has already started off so full of surprises. I've never had a Winter like this which hasn't slowed to a painful crawl of days so similar and devoid of events that they blend into each other. Life really seems to have changed fundamentally for me. I'm very grateful for such changes and the challenge they bring. I know that God has blessed me with the friends and family to see me safely through them one way or another.