Friends In Deed. Thank You.

 

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Thank you.

For 3 years: friends, family, musicians and well-wishers have gathered to commemorate and honor the memory of Orson Clarke.

Gone too soon, our eye-glinting ever-smiling and jovial friend, left us to contribute to the thunder that we occasionally hear rolling overhead, reminding us of musicians on high, and of that rolling baritone of his that has us always look up yonder with that same eye sparkle we miss of his.

We have payed homage to Orson’s life, with a musical gathering, for 3 years now, and I am proud to have been able to count on those that came, participated, and enjoyed.

It is an evening that this year I dedicated to the sentiment of “One Love”, that is forever mantra-ed by friends, and fit the evening’s intent fully

Leslie “Snooksta” Alston, along with Ben Comeau, Daniel “DJ” Joseph, and Naveen Uttamchandani, were the musical hosts, and also great friends of Orson’s, that have continued the tradition of lyrical honor, and supplied the Heart, Funk, and Soul to the beauty of the evening that brought and brings us all together.

To Snooki, Ben, DJ & Nav, I say Thank You.

Special guest, orator, and singer, Carolyn Fe, gave an eloquent presentation and reading of “One Love”, a piece written for the evening, and brought to light with her unrehearsed and enraptured delivery. Having words put to voice, in that special way, is a gift. Thank you for giving the words I put to paper life, and expressing them with the intentions of which I had put pen to paper.

To Carolyn, I say Thank You.

Victor Cowen’s annual Opening introduction started our evening, as Orson’s daughter Jazz’s closing comments graced the evening’s honors. Everything that transpired between these two, were true and just, and deserving of the man they were meant for.

I thank you both for speaking in earnest, and in respect.

Music drove the night, initiated by the dedication, and the care, the “One Love” that all present shared for Orson Clarke. Many took to the stage, and many more were just as content to sit, watch, and listen (myself included).

Singers, guitarists, bassists, drummers. A plethora of people that love to play, are what made us remember what Orson loved doing.

Photos were taken, video was made…but more importantly the “magic” that has surrounded these memory making honors to our friend; in the gifts of your presence, and the presence of the gifts of your time and  spirit, makes having these get-togethers all the more spiritually enriching.

It was about the Music.

It was about the Kinship.

It was about the Camaraderie.

It was about the Stories.

It was about having a Good Time.

It is about One Love.

Officially, I raise my hands, and I clap them to you, for making this annual event, in My and My Family’s eyes, a great success.

I, and We, Thank You.

See you next year…

ORSON2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1, and 7, years later

A lot changes in a year, and some years are longer than we think. Time does seem to flow faster as we graduate the age scale, but the satisfaction and joy that we feel “in time” is but mirrored by the events that trigger the tastes of the soul and the love of the memories since.

It’s been a year, today, that we lost a friend and family member, and though time has marched on, he is no less missed or loved.

An announcement was never really formally made, those that were in the know simply knew, and just overall…it was a very private thing for me.

Over the years, friends and family have come (and gone); and whereas family is always family; friendships do indeed change. Time is the factor that leaves credence and proof to the strength and loyalty of a friendship, and illustrates that separation never negates true friendship. This, in my good friend/family case, is true.

This…is the story of Loki.

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He was my best friend, He was part of my Family.

I knew him pretty much from birth, a true gift, and on a random visit to a local SPCA, after nearly leaving the facility, Fiona called me back to look at a dark shadowy lurker in the back of a cage.

Unlike our Freya who was openly visibly and had chosen me on a visit 12 years earlier; this little soon to be known German Shepherd  puppy, was cringing in the back of a cage, unseen and unwanted by anyone thus far.

Until Fiona let me know He was there.

That was the beginning of our new family, and the welcome of my new friend. He started that day, alone and unloved, and that was the last day of his life to be spent that way.

“But…He was just a Dog…”, as many have expressed to me throughout his Life and since. My dog prior, and now my dog since, all have opinions from those that “don’t” or “don’t want to”, get it or comprehend it. No they’re not human/people, but in my book…they’re much different, and in some cases…better.

My friend grew and aged with me and mine.

He was unconditional in his treatment of my wife, my boys and with me. He was rambunctious as a pup, and restful as he got older. Trials and tribulations were few, but enjoyment was much.

Coming home from a day or night of work, Loki always greeted me with a tail wag and a kiss. An open greeting that was never contingent on how I had left…just happy that I was once again home, whether I was gone for 5 minutes, 5 hours, or 5 days. Happy and grateful.

My “friend” had more loyalty in his short life, than I have experienced in my longer one. Most of us are considered lucky, to have at least one friend since early childhood, or as many “good” friends that we can count on one hand. Measured in the perspective of dog years, that 7 of theirs is equal to one of ours, I truly had a friend for life. He was with me 12 years, through the growth of life experiences, of family change seeing my boys change to young men, and Loki also shared the house with his older brother Bear (who recently passed at the ripe age of 17).

He walked with me. He ran with me. He fished with me. He sat and listened to me serenade him on guitar. He shared time with me while I would de-stress and have a relaxing cigar. He shared the couch and the chair, being a teddy bear and a blanket, even at 120lbs. He ate what I ate, and helped me in my diet.

No drama, no hangups, no agendas.

Just pure unadulterated companionship.

Priceless and given freely.

Truly Man’s best friend.

FR

FR

Loki leaving us was hard, and will better fit the pages of a longer writ than what I’m composing here, but that’s better left for another day. Seeing his smile in my mind’s eye is a daily event, and being reminded of him through our newest family member Rex is profound, but irregardless, and understandably different in each of their ways.

The hardest part was seeing Loki go, having that last cigar with him and his spirit.

It was the 1st time I didn’t finish a cigar.

On that cool winter morning, after watching Loki pass from his ailment peacefully, it seemed right, to simply light our Monte Cristo, have a few puffs and then extinguish it in the morning snow. It also seemed right to have the remainder of the cigar join him in his journey.

We always shared.

My Way. My Honor.

My friend walked beside me for 12 years that I will never forget. Times 7.

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The “Bear” necessities (1998-2015)

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In August, our eldest 4-legged family member, Bear the Siberian Husky, reached a milestone age of 17.

Hardheartedly, our “Old-Man” decided it was his time last night, and sang himself out of our lives, and moved onto the next stage.

It’s hard to explain the feeling of loss of a “dog”, man/woman’s best friend, to a person that can’t relate: but in illustration…Bear was raised within our walls from a pup, handpicked from a breeder’s litter, and weaned on the love and experience of Fiona. Hours spent nurturing the well-being of the sprite of the time that came to be the old soul that left us last night.

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Almost respectfully, he ensured/insured that he  endured to Fiona’s birthday last week, and even showed that telltale exuberance that convinced you he was going to live forever. Whether it was the love of His family, his new found friend Rex that entertained and cajoled him, the monkey-paw rubs from Erik, the cuddling from Iain, or the downright home-cooking of Fiona that had him standing on the chair over your shoulder trying to mooch a sniff and bite, our old friend was Family.

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For over 17 years, this Husky (ie. troublemaker to me) was sometimes as frustrating as he was entertaining. He became systematic, set in his ways and almost always you could anticipate what he was going to do. It was those “sneaky” surprises that got you every time, that made you think, and appreciate not only as a dog, but as a being.

17 years.

A Milestone.

Most of us can barely relate to having friends for that long a period (even at my age), and more and above, faithful friends, that have an unbiased love and loyalty to you. 17 years of welcoming us when we enter our house, greeting us undeservedly or unerringly with a “Welcome-Home” attitude that is always on key. Unbiased tail wagging that would end a workday that gave you pause, wondering how and why do I deserve this, until you see he gleam in your friend’s eye, let alone the wag of their tail, and just maybe even the occasional hoot.

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I’ve always contended that my Family is between my four-walls here at home.

Always has, always will be.

It’s now just a little smaller, a little quieter, but it is that much Rich-er for the time spent.

Bear, my son, your paw-print is left on our hearts.

We hope you are now running with your brothers and sisters in “Angel Woods” the same way you loved your Angell Woods here.

Your stay here was long, appreciated, enjoyed, relished and loved bu us.

Thank you for being a Companion for Life.

Blessed Be.

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In My Father’s Eyes

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“I always want to make my Father proud.”

Seems like a very easy and common statement, and those that go through the efforts, know it isn’t always so. As children, we are ardent in making that smile on our parent’s face, and causing that gleam in their eye.

Cause, effect, reward.

From your very 1st step, to your 1st word, the strength of all those “1st’s” always seems far superior in smile strength and parental enjoyment than the repetition of those that follow. Once you’ve made steps, then you’re walking, then you’re running; then the world opens up.

No matter the distance though, your Dad is your dad, and your Mom is your mom, and believe you me –  through a life of disparity, those things never change.

A golden reminder moment was a request that I had been asking of my dad for years.

“Let’s go fishing?!?”

I know it’s not his thing, he viewed it as something I shared with my maternal Grandfather from my youth, and always held out from joining me whether it be from that, time constraints, or from simple reservation. Maybe he finally said “Yes” because we’ve both celebrated Birthdays recently, have gotten closer again, or due to health ramifications that we each know that we’re not being honest with one another about, but Dad finally conceded/gave-in/accepted my invitation to make the Trek to where I take my sons fishing. He said “yes”. That to me is gratifying.

Dad and I are dissimilar in as many ways as we are the same. We don’t have to have the same likes or tastes, or walk the same path, but between genetics and learned aptitudes, he has guided me to become the man I have become in a lot of ways.

Besides, it’s only…going…fishing.

Starting with a good local on-the-way-breakfast, we finish our meal, last sip of coffee (at 7:30am) and head out on a new drive. With Dad behind the wheel, we’re off on a new adventure, but more so; a day spent betwixt father and son.

Driving familiar territory, was relaxing and talk drifted back and forth. Then we hit the new highway, and there was a spark in the driving pattern.

My Father had discovered something new, and a road he hadn’t traveled.

Not only because it was a newly constructed highway, but after seeing the beauty and the solitude that this highway provided, and the way it was carved through the mountains, but then once getting off it to drive the “virgin” country roads that Dad had never driven before, gave a youthful fervent intensity that I hadn’t seen from him in a while.

Coasting the country roads, reminding him of his younger days on the road driving Quebec and Ontario, he was experiencing them in a way that I have become acclimated to, having driven these same roads for a few decades on fishing excursions.

Weaving the paved roads between farms, lakes, and forest, and not knowing the way, always adds excitement in the manner that you drive, and with the amount of miles that I know my Dad has driven over the years, it was nice to see him enjoying the drive.

That driving passion was re-invigorated, and more once we hit the dirt roads, winding and sliding in ways that I don’t think my father is driven in a while. All this and we haven’t even started fishing.

This lasted for a while until we hit that last stretch of road, and turned onto our lake-front property. Years of talking, and exaggerated up-talk of the beauty and sanctity of the locale that is my/our escape from civilization, finally found light, and a home, in my father’s eyes.

He saw what I saw when I first made that same drive. My own father shared that first step that I had taken.

And I, was proud.

The view of the lake, surrounded by the gradually changing leaves of fall. The glistening of the light on the mirroresque reflection, and the slow gentle whisper of the wind of the wind. Fresh and new, but the same yet different.

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My built up illustrations of my little slice of Heaven, were found out to be…just that honest and true.

We were given a “choice and great day”, with just enough temperature to remind us that it was Fall (mandating a fresh made-at-the-Lake coffee of course), but enough solitude, tranquility, and beauty, that “Pop” now, and really now, understands the very simple distractions that this escape offers me both physically, mentally, and spiritually.

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Then it came time to put boat to water, and Dad saw that we make the most of what we have. Simply, my 1959 Gale outboard is just fine to run my boat. I don’t have need of the newest and best (never have). If it works, great, if not, my last name befits the actions to move the boat…I can “Roe” it anytime.

Fishing is an event to me, or a pastime, not necessarily one to be successfully measured by the catch. It is the action of doing; peace in the boat, rod to the water, taking everything in, and sharing it with those with us at the time (and if no one, than the fishing-dog, and if not, then simply with a cigar).

The zen of it all, is that it is my way to be one with myself. Lovingly shared with my wife and sons, my friends, my pets, and/or my humidor.

Today my Dad joined me. A fresh new experience.

Although I beg to differ with his memories, Dad says he has never been fishing with me, as a child nor as an adult. I however, remember him going both cod fishing off the coast, and lake fishing trout in Newfoundland as a child; as well as fishing with him alongside my Grandfather growing up by the water in Pincourt.

Regardless, climbing into the boat, it was fresh, being able to show my Dad the sites of the lake and the lay of the land, and he looked through the eyes of a wide-eyed youth, seeing what I’ve seen for these long years.

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The adventure continued once we pulled into the bay, and the I shut the motor. Fifty feet from a beaver lodge, 30 feet from a marsh, and surrounded by evergreens that grew between stone, we cast for that 1st time together, and my Dad was laughingly sheepish.

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It had been so long, he had forgotten how to cast.

Simply so, I educated/re-educated Dad in the art of casting, and in exactly the same way that he taught me things in life, I did the same. Learn-do, do-learn. Have fun, and you’ll get the hang of it. No one to impress, and absolutely nothing to regret or be ashamed of, because practice will produce what you want.

That simple.

And so, he cast, and cast, and cast. Even when he didn’t think I was looking, I was watching him have fun, and when he did happen to mis-cast, jokingly blamed on “Your left-handedness doesn’t work with a right handed rod.”

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Then he caught a fish. Then fishing caught Dad.

He told me that it was the 1st fish he had caught. True or not, I was happy for him any which way.

Then Dad saw me catch a fish, and he understood what I knew, how I felt, and some kind of mutual understanding came into place.

Blood became kindred spirit, and he understood the fishing “zen” I constantly describe: that it isn’t the words that are always said, it’s the feeling you get around them. That’s the experience I have always wanted to share with him.

Like all things in life, the day did have to come to an end, but it was a day well spent, and long overdue. My personal happiness is that at least I got to share it with a man who has meant, and always will mean so much to me, regardless of our differences and choices.

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He is my Dad, always has been, always will be. He spent a day with me and saw a piece of my world through my eyes, and I in turn, spent the day seeing the world through his.

Hopefully because of this, We understood each other a little more…and as proof:

Dad passed me the keys, and He let His Son drive Home.

GMC Terrain

Music, to me, is Unity.

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Music, like life, in my want is very simply led. To be enjoyed, to be cherished, to be remembered, but most of all relished.

Be it with family.

Be it with friends.

Be it alone.

No matter which, through either  of these 3 measures, Mind, Spirit, and Heart must be engaged, and rallied in what I simply have found termed as…

Unity.

At my achieved age, tolerance combined with knowledge and experience, has rendered me susceptible to certain patience and impatiences in life that have caused change and rendered decisions that a younger-self wouldn’t have done. A less experienced man would be more prone to be more accepting and more harmonious, riding the wave of “drama” that young hearts and younger minds enjoy.

That requires effort and time that is ill-afforded, and laudable; and more of a cause for distinction and separation than achieving the harmony that is more achieved through the want and sight of…

Unity.

I know that I’m only getting one crack at walking this Earth, and within that brief time, I want to enjoy it in as dignified and honorable a way as possible:

  • As true and as honest as I can be to myself and to those around me
  • As hardworking and accountable in all things I take on
  • Focused and forthcoming in all efforts
  • Charitable, forgiving, yet mindful of aggression and transgressions

Perfection isn’t guaranteed, but it is a goal. Without goals or aspirations, we’re just on the road of life, going from red light to red-light with no real destination in mind.

I prefer living my life, knowing what’s in front of me, but also enjoying what I have left in my rearview mirror.

Unity of heart, unity of mind, unity of spirit.

As stated, I also like to enjoy my music in the same manner as Life.

The most recent venture/project/faculty that I am proud to be part of, regardless of endurance, is one of the most enriching teams that I have had the pleasure to share studio and stage time with.

It is only fitting that the name of this project be: Unity.

Comprised of like-minded souls, that play music for the love of it, have a passion for the music, and are not over-complicating anything to feed embellishment or ego. It is about the spirit of the song, the peace of the piece.

There are many players that fit this credo, but there are so many more that don’t. Yet, being able to fit personable and attractable puzzle pieces together into a fun project, that all involved truly enjoy, to me, is just…Unity.

I thank my Bandmates for who they are, what they do, and how they’ve risen to the occasion. Coming together as a musical unit, sharing the short time together before we actually hit a stage, just proves that it doesn’t matter how simple or complicated the song, it is the willingness to “play together” in the same musical sandbox that makes friends, friends.

Colleagues united in music, friends united in song, spirits united in projecting…

Unity.

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“Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears…”

…is a line of a speech by Mark Antony in the play Julius Caesar, by William Shakespeare (taken from Act III, scene II) and is one of Shakespeare’s most famous lines from all of his works, explicitly as a famous example of the use of emotionally charged rhetoric.

In this work; Antony has been allowed by Brutus and the other conspirators to make a funeral oration for Caesar –  on condition that he not blame them for Caesar’s death. However, while Antony’s speech begins by justifying the actions of Brutus and the assassins (“I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him”), Antony uses said rhetoric to ultimately portray Caesar in such a positive light that the crowd are enraged against the conspirators.

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This in my view, is an apt and vivid portrayal of what our “instant” world has become.

Immediate portrayal of thoughts and emotions with privileged and self-serving motive, that media and individuals can use as a public voice, whether or not founded or just, that may later simply be rescinded with a retraction (most often not), or left to fade into the obscurity of the next concern.

A concise definition of “rhetoric” is language designed to have a persuasive or impressive effect on its audience, but often regarded as lacking in sincerity or meaningful content.

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Narcissistic-ally; media, social media and technology have provided voice to the masses to allow common courtesy to go the way of the dodo bird. The “look-at-me” syndrome has been perpetuated to make celebrities out of pretty much anything on a whim, and taking focus away from truly important matters. Information at one’s fingertips, once a blessing in disguise, is now wikpedia-izing all of us.

A decade (maybe 2) ago, having computer lab time was a privilege, and was time well invested. Now, we can google the distance from here to there measured in marshmallows, or how much sand runs through an hourglass. Nice, but not really relevant – unless that is your vocation.

An email or a text sent, and not replied to in moments; is now regarded as offensive in our instant world. The public having become acclimated to their own particular sense of importance of obviously being “that” important that they merit immediate attention, is a resultant sum of the technology put to us.

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Whereas I do understand somewhat these scenes, I don’t prescribe to them. All in due process, and all in due measure.

Professionally, personally, or even just amicably…everything in its right time.

Communication is losing it’s art form, verbally and technologically, because everyone and everything has to be bigger, better, and faster. As an example; someone recently sent me a text; announcement of a date and time of an event. That was it. Was it an invitation? A simple notification? A bragging achievement? The lost art progresses.

Just the perception that everyone is always accessible to “internet” is something that still surprises me as I punch the keyboard. I still like writing by hand, correcting myself instead of having auto-correct make me spell properly.

We are human, and therefore prone to error, and it is by error that we learn and improve.

The time that I cherish, and look forward to most, is periodically unplugging and going to the woods.

No electricity, and very simple comforts and pleasures. To sit and practice the art of conversation, to be free of the impetus of net-life, and to not have to endure the drama that proceed the postings, texts, and hashtags that make our modern acumen. The true reality of “freedom” sans-drama, no need of “likes” or accolades to prove that what we do has to be instantaneously approved of, or disapproved of. I can eat red meat if I want, I can smoke a cigar if I want, I can admire the beauty of my family, and I can kiddingly jibe my friends to their face.

That is Real.

So, much like some music, my life is a lot better…unplugged.

Unless, I’m just reciting…rhetoric…

17 and Counting, with the Bear – Happy Birthday

It’s somewhat uncanny that we still have Bear, a purebred Siberian Husky that has endured to the ripe old age of 17.

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Picked from a litter at the Hooker Farm oh-so-long ago, this once intrepid puppy has led an extensive and fun-filled life. He has endured three dog companions himself, having outlived his “sister” Freya, and his “brother” Loki, and ultimately his new “brother” Rex will be the more grueling of tests.

Just a sprite of a pup when we got him, he managed to chew pretty much everything, and be the independent dog that Huskies are known to be. Characteristically more like a cat, these dogs come to you when and if they feel like, don’t really respond to be called, and only coaxed as per their choosing. Yep, still applies.

A key-point to his earned longevity is probably due to the good cooking of Fiona. We gave away with many of the produced “treats” that they sell commercially, and give our pets real food. When you can see that they appreciate the food as much as we do, there must be something right going on.

I personally think Bear has survived this long just to the Gingerbread cookies that are made pretty much exclusively for him, and become his annual Christmas, as well as Birthday, gift.

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Having also always been a runner, is one of the focal memories that we have of this dawg. Many an hour have been spent on his escapes and travels around the city of Beaconsfield, usually averaging 2-4 hour flights of fancy, with reported sightings of a white blur travelling at high velocities that kept us roaming in his wake calling his name.

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A little older and slower now, we are now able to walk him off leash (he still tries to sneak away, gotta give him credit) but he’ll always stay close to us.

17 years is quite the achievement. As a family we have loved him as a friend and as a member of the family. Most people are lucky enough to have some friends for that long in life, and even then, those that know dogs and know them well, understand the different bond that is held, especially when this forever friend is at your side non-stop for all this time.

I may joke a lot at Bear’s expense, he is an old furball, but he’s part of the family.

A Family we made, a family we keep, and a family that we enjoy.

Happy Birthday old man, and here’s to as many more that we can enjoy.

Always ready for that next walk…

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