Can You Feel The Spinning Top?

I have been turning spinning top toys on my wood lathe. I am planning on taking an assortment West when I visit my niece and nephew.   My nephew is quite young and considering distance and exposure I am probably more stranger than kin. West is a plane trip so there are few visits.

In my mind I only met my great-grandmother once. I can still picture the rocking chair and sense the dimness of the corner she was near. What I recall most were her hands on my young face. She was blind for much of her life but I see lessons only a disability could teach.

I have learned that each face is different but we all feel the same. Rough, cold, smooth, sticky, hot and sharp feel the same to us all. Hunger, sadness and laughter are common experiences as well.

When I spin a top I can’t take my eyes away other than to glance at my watch as I time the odd good throw. I smile somewhere deep inside if not outwardly. I hope what I have shaped with my hands will touch my niece and nephew the same way. I hope they smile. Several of the tops are made from a discarded but well loved railing post. I picked it up for free and knew I wanted to use it for making tops. I told the woman who gave me the post that many hands would continue to touch this piece of wood.

I learned that we touch more than we see. The things we do and words we convey, even a simple gesture may seemingly touch only one person but like my great grandmother’s hands or the railing post how we make someone feel spins in perpetuity.

I hope to leave some sort of impression on my young niece and nephew. They won’t carry my picture or remember the words I have spoken to them but if I can connect them to the magic, suspense, and laughter that fly from a spinning top I think it might be like me running my hands over their faces.

What’s His Name?

Like the Prime Minister and Governor General I am delighted at the news of the royal birth. My first born was a son and I saw in him my father and myself. Becoming a parent is a shift. Concern for self becomes concern for family. What wouldn’t we do for our children?

I was reading some of the news coverage of the birth and was interested in the celebrations. There will be a 62 gun salute outside the Tower of London to mark the arrival. I couldn’t help but think of the thousands who died protecting the monarchy with a “one gun salute.” Those individuals don’t sell papers they merely gave their lives so we could have Freedom of the Press.

I was comforted to learn that all other parents and children who share the same birthday as the royal child will receive a commemorative penny in a pink or blue pouch. Isn’t that the royal way? Everyone else receives pennies while the royal pouch overflows with jewels.

I have no resentment to an innocent child but I don’t recognize his blood as any different. To my way of thinking each generation weakens this so called royal blood. If someone is indeed different; royal, each child they have is only half royal. This blood we pledge to, defend and pay for is only a slight fraction of whatever significance royal blood had in the beginning. If I lay with a poet my child does not burp a limerick.

I am on the edge of my seat waiting to learn this child’s name. I haven’t a clue if Dick sounds more royal than Don but with all the fuss what choice is there outside of Jesus?

You can honour or pledge to “what’s his name” or you can do the same for the guy with the scars on His hands. He can’t wave and he may not have even been handsome but He was important not for the blood in His veins but for the drops that touched the earth.



I helped a good friend put up an above ground swimming pool. He is not a wealthy man but he possesses many qualities worth stealing. He has a good heart and a sense of humour worthy of an hour drive.

My friend was pleased when we were finished but mainly for his children. I’m sure he can see the work and cost but a father sees more. A father can see forms floating and diving. A father can hear the splashing and screams of pleasure. A father feels the clinging hands at the thought of swimming with flesh and blood.

A father remembers his so it is easy to be one.

Justice Minister Peter MacKay

I would like to welcome Peter MacKay to the position of Justice Minister. What an honour it must be to sit in that seat. Your new position will require less time in military jets but with your good looks you’ll still go far.

I’m not sure if you have been briefed much about your new portfolio so I thought I would take the time and describe your position at least in relation to Bill C-54.

You have made the decision to “not punish” but for sure incarcerate, mentally ill individuals whose delusions result in some yet to be agreed on form of brutality. I agree Peter; three years without any contact with the outside world despite any progress in treatment sounds like not only punishment but in fact a sentence. I only pay lawyers so possibly you could explain to me how you sentence someone who is neither guilty nor innocent? (Send me the bill but don’t forget to claim it.)  If a person can be sentenced for being the accused we’re all in trouble.

Don’t worry Peter all you have to do is maintain a vague sense of what mental illness is and what justice is. I sense you’ll do fine. I think your predecessor used crayons to write this Bill. Only a child would kick dirt on someone who has fallen because of an illness or disability.

I have faith in you Peter. I already know you’re the type of person who would fly across the planet to get a feel for the conflict. The conflict is that your political ideology clashes with medical understanding of mental illness and true justice.

P.S. Tell your boss that when he tries to bring democracy to another country he might want to practice a little at home.

Yours truly,

Pierre Poutine

The Giggling Fisherwoman

IMG_0578I usually fish alone and am quite adept at “landing” a fish in a canoe. I have few worries and many thoughts when I fish.

On Saturday evening I paddled to my favourite fishing hole on Lake Huron with one of my nieces. It is an oasis of boulders and rocks. It was nice to have a paddler in front to make short order of the journey. We anchored in waves that were at the upper edge of what I might normally expose myself to. My niece seemed unconcerned and I longed for some good fishing. I ran the paddle and anchor as we moved about the shoal having decent luck. I say luck because it was my inexperienced 11 year old niece who was landing fish. I lost one mid-fight which she countered with a 3 pound smallmouth. I netted it and placed it over the side on the stringer which was where my lure ended up after my beautiful bass tangled beneath the canoe. I don’t recall if it was when I had to strip most of my old tangled line from my reel or the third time I pierced a finger with a lure that I started to pray. I’m sure it wasn’t a curse as “shit” was “sugar” for the evening.

The next two fish were as big as or bigger than the first. They were both caught on “her” lure her father gave me. By ten o’clock at night it was reclaimed by that side of the family. The fish on the stringer were not only larger than many I catch but also more numerous than my individual catch limit. My niece is my new lucky lure and she paddles so I might take her out again. She might read this but if she doesn’t I will tell her it is only for the extra fish but I need her. That’s the beauty of family. We do better together.

I’m sitting here with a sore thumb from the hook it met but it’s good. It reminds me of the fun we had. I was more excited by any one of her fish than most I have landed myself. She was giddy in her success and sent the odd questionably humourous remark my way. I maybe shouldn’t have tormented her on the water. I was adamant that no one would see me point at any as being hers. (Note to niece…your uncle has more in his belly so in all honesty, who ended up with more fish?)


I remember when I was finally transferred from jail to the forensic hospital. As I exited the jail handcuffed and shackled I was at first struck by the open space. Being transferred is usually pleasant and a little like watching a movie. You see and hear things you are unaccustomed to. Green grass or the sound of tires on pavement. There were several jail nurses sitting at a table outside on break. I bowed my head and thanked them. They did what they could.

I climbed into the kennel of the transfer van. It was basically like being a bean stuck to the inside of an empty tin can. I didn’t have much of a view and can recall no landmarks. I knew I was heading to St. Thomas but did not recognize the fact until we parked.

After I left college and my lifelong dream of being a Conservation Officer, I applied to several police forces. At that time there were many more interested in police work than were ever hired. I did have one interview. It was with the St. Thomas Police Force.

I should have been more specific when I prayed to ride in a police vehicle in St. Thomas. I should have specified it was the front seat I was interested in. I’m pretty good at reading people and I sensed that the two officers who transferred me would be unappreciative of me yelling “Shotgun.”


What is resilience? Is it an ability to withstand something intolerable? Is it a manifestation of stubbornness? Is it some family strength passed through generations? Is it simply survival? When we hear of what others have endured we need to keep in mind that there was no other choice. To have not withstood would have been an end.

I have withstood certain events as we all have. I had the advantage and disadvantage of being mentally ill. My perception of certain conditions would not be the same as someone looking in on me.

Thousands of years ago I suspect resilience was part of daily living. Jimmy didn’t run to his dad because Joey called him a name; he hit him over the head and took the dead rabbit from his hand. It’s probably best things have changed. I might be the guy short a rabbit. I sometimes wonder if there isn’t merit in the fight. I’m not talking about violence but the endurance of something intolerable.

I have learned things I never would have known were it not for pain. At the time of my trials I only wanted an end. Today I look back on some of my experiences and it provides cause for not fearing what lies ahead.

One Fish

I caught one Bass on what were rough seas. Most of the weekend on Lake Huron was not a Bass fisherman’s dream. It’s interesting though the different ways it can be viewed. I could tell you the time I invested and on some level agree that it was a failure. I could look back on better days and it would explain why no pictures were taken. But if I was to ask the other fishermen in my midst they would exclaim at the wonder of my fish. If I took inventory of my canoe we could all be convinced of the victory.

I guess the ambiguity arises at the present location of said fish. It sits in a freezer waiting for enough company to be worthy of a family meal. Were it in our stomachs its merit would rise from the depths like its scaly form did.

Time and place can be most influential on pessimism and optimism.