Thursday, 31 May 2012

A mystery??

My sister,hopefully a regular reader of my blog made a comment on my last installment of Memoir/backstory.Before I continue with my memoir,I wanted to make some reply to her comments,as indeed I already have privately.

My sister,in her comments notes that two of my nephews,her son Dorian and my other sisters son Zack have also been taken to visit both the barber shop and the candy store in Springhill.Firstly,I had no idea that the candy store in Springhill had actually been rebuilt,though I would be quite surprised if it had not.So I too am very glad that they got to experience that,and that my father got to take them there.I'm certain that it was a very meaningful thing for him to pass along to his grandchildren at a time when he was often inhibited by poor health.

As to the barber shop,I'm finding this a bit mysterious.What I mean is,who was this barber and what was so special about visiting his particular shop in Springhill when there are plenty of shops a lot closer to home?For my father there may just have been a lot of nostalgia involved in getting his hair cut in his own hometown.Who knows what kind of memories that holds for a person.It was certainly important enough for him to share with both children and grandchildren.Now this barber that I recall visiting and the one my nephews went to could surely not have been the same barber,though it may have been the same shop.The barber,as I recall was elderly when I visited and that would have been around 1965 or 1966.Again I get the sense that this was something more than a normal visit to the barber shop,but what its significance was I really have no idea.

It occurs to me that this is one of those incidents that would possibly make more sense if I had been able to make notes about it at the time of it happening.A perfect example of how I have to depend on memory that is in some way unreliable.In her comment,my sister made note of the fact that I seem to be able to recall things that she can't.Then she goes on to make mention of a memory which,to this point had escaped me.The certain fact is that we live separate lives complete with our own memories of things.In the 1960's for instance,a barber shop was almost the exclusive domain of men and boys,so she would have no reason to remember it in all likelihood. It's worth noting a one year age difference too,so some of the differences in recall are simply developmental in nature.A yer in early childhood will make a world of difference in how things are perceived

To that end,I have replied to my sisters comment by asking her to post a guest entry on my blog sometime in the future I'm still technologically challenged so it may take me some time to figure out how to do that But hopefully soon I can get it set up and she will agree to make a guest appearance.

But there is one burning question in my mind.WHO WAS THAT BARBER?

Some Notes On The Craft Of Memoir.

If you have been reading these blogs on a regular basis,you already know that,among other things I've been using my blog to begin writing a memoir,among other things.Not only will you get an inside look at my life,as ordinary as it is,but I think I will likely be providing commentary from time to time on what exactly is going into the process of creating memoir.So you will get a sort of insiders view,which in my mind seems rather unique.That process is not necessarily aimed at readers as much as it is done just to help me work out in my mind exactly what it is I'm trying to do.It's just an ongoing audit of the process.But you are more than welcome to look in on it.

So I began last week with entries called Memoir/Backstory.Some explanation as to what I'm doing here is in order.Mostly those entries,of which there is at least one more to come,are to set the context of the world,as I understand it in the years prior to my birth.That time is not about me,or my family in the sense of being an actual part of the memoir,but it is important to my understanding of things.

The entries I've made are not based on hard research.There is a time and a place for that,but my memoir isn't it.Just a note about research.It seems so in creditably odd to me that even though I've lived my entire life,I actually need to go back and research it from time to time.The mistake I'm most prone to is fixing some event in a particular year when,in fact it happened in some other year.For that I need research and I attempt to be diligent But I must note that the things I'm writing are"to the best of my recollection".I'm sure if some of my relatives were reading this blog,they might spot some inaccuracies.They are not intentional.

The Memoir/Backstory portion of this memoir is based on things I've been told and things I've witnessed,seen heard etc about the places and people involved.They are my way of  making sense out of these things.I do not claim that they are the actual objective truth.Nor is there any deliberate intention to deceive.Keep in mind that what is being written here involves two separate processes.First ,I experienced many things when I was very small.That was the actual living of things which happened a long time ago.Secondly,there is the recall of such things now,many years later.Lets be clear,these two things are not the same thing.It would have been invaluable to me now to have been keeping notes of my life when I was much younger,but I did not do that.Were such notes to exist I'm sure they would in the reading of them seem much different than how I recall things to be.But such is life.The memory is likely a second best source,but it's the only source available to me in many cases.

What you have read so far is simply my impressions.They could well be wrong,based on some misreading of the things I've seen,or was told.Others might well come to a different conclusion as to the people and places mentioned herein.But again,these are just my impressions.

There is no attempt to defame anyone,or settle any scores either real or imagined in the mind of the reader.In my own mind I try to stay as open to different ideas and interpretations of things as I can.I simply find it necessary to allow my mind to make such inquiries as it demands to do.

As I embark on this project,I must note that much of what is there to write about causes me a fair bit of cognitive dissonance.Most people I believe want to think well of the people they encounter on life's road,especially friends and family members.I'm no exception.What I find somewhat unsettling,though is the fact that neither my parents or grandparents were story tellers.There could be many reasons for this but I simply accept that they simply chose not to tell their own life story.Again that leaves me with more to interpret than what I'm really comfortable with.Simply,I wish I had more of those people's stories in their own words.

We should tell the truth,as much as that is possible.From an early age we were taught that.But let me be clear,not all truth needs to be told,or even should be told.My memoir is not for the purpose of shining a light on anyone's nakedness.Having said that, I've become aware of stories in the past that have ethical implications and I want you to know,I've given careful,deliberate thought to whether those stories should ever see the light of day.Some of them will never pass from my lips and,for that I make no apology whatsoever.Other stories provide enough moral or historical edification that they must be told,though they may be hurtful to some people.Please know that being hurtful is the absolute last thing on my mind in the telling of any story.But I'm afraid it may not be altogether avoidable.

Currently I keep notes for this project in a small hard backed coil notebook that I got at the dollar store.I also have something like twenty years worth of journals I've been compiling.I've found those useful.But of my notebooks I was wondering something.Do any of you,my readers feel that you would be edified by having access to my notes?Should I keep the actual notebooks,which are a documentation of my though processes in regards to this memoir,though not necessarily something intended for readers?I'll try to post it as a pole on this blog.If you've taken the time to read,please help me out with your vote.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Belated Memorial Day Comments

It's Tuesday and I was remiss in not posting yesterday. Unfortunately I had some computer issues that could not be resolved,so my comments are a day late.

Yesterday was,of course Memorial Day in the United States,but my comments apply equally to Canadians and our fighting men.No,let me correct that,our fighting families.The truth is that those families make every bit as much sacrifice as that family member that finds himself posted in some far off combat zone.And so I salute you all.

I don't think I really have a lot to say about this.I'll keep it short and sweet.I was disturbed.A week or so ago someone posted to my facebook page a cartoon.It was a picture of two Germans talking and one was saying"I don't really agree with the Furher but I think we should support our fighting men anyway.I find this deeply disturbing for reasons I think will be obvious to most reasonable people.Do I really need to elaborate as to the differences between that regime and our current society?I'll just say that it's clearly comparing apples and bananas.

Now,having said that let me make this clear.We owe a debt of gratitude to each and every one of our fighting men.We owe equally to all their family members.

Is it ok to dissent with respect to any of our current military conflicts?Yes,of course,but that is a political issue and decent dissent is conducted as a political activity.We,in North America have the finest governments in the world.They allow us to disagree and encourage us to engage in informed participation.Are they perfect?Of Course not.Have they fought unjust wars?Most likely. Personally I support the war in Afghanistan far more than the war in Iraq.But lets clearly separate politics from what is simply respectful, honourable behaviour.It is because of our troops and the sacrifices they have made throughout history that give us the right to dissent and governments that we can,to a greater degree than any place else on earth,hold accountable.And if you hold the honest opinion that any particular conflict is unjust,just think long and hard about this:when a just war comes along,it will be those same soldiers that will be called upon to defend us then too.

So lets keep the political arguments in the political arena and support our fighting men.Lets be thankful for the fact that they stand up for us,even to the extent of giving the ultimate sacrifice.Lets help out their families at home in any way we can.If you see a soldier in uniform,go and shake his hand and thank him for what he has done.Above all,lets keep our military families in prayer.Only God knows the justness and necessary brutality of any given war.I believe war grieves God, as it should us.But that should never lead us to turn our hearts against our soldiers.So let me say publicly to each and every one,THANK YOU!

Saturday, 26 May 2012


We lived about two hundred miles east of where my mother grew up.two hundred miles on the old highway that is.It's a bit closer now.My father was born and raised in the town of Springhill Nova Scotia,about fifty miles from our home in Moncton.

Many will know Springhill as the hometown of singer Anne Murray.But the primary reason for Springhill's existence is coal mining.Like many towns of its sort,it is filled with tough people who work long hours at a very dangerous job and who can often appear as though the world has worn them thin.My fathers parents certainly fit that description.Life could not have been easy for either of some point my grandmother and grandfather were separated but not before having four children,the third of which was my father.William Davis was said to be a bootlegger in the 1920's before my father came along.He was also a carpenter-a ships carpenter he once told me.He was missing one finger which he said he lost in a mine accident.The history of Springhill is filled with mining accidents including at least three major mine disasters.The mines at Springhill became a thing of the past after the last disaster in 1958.My father was adamant that he did not want to be a miner,and so he left Springhill before he had his family.He often told me that he did not want his children to be raised in Springhill.Over the years I came to realize that he had somewhat of a love hate relationship with his hometown.

My own first memories of Springhill are of sitting in a barber shop and having my hair cut while my father talked to the barber.This was unusual because we always got our hair cut at the barber school in Moncton.They cut children's hair for free.It occurs to me now that there must have been some point to this visit aside from getting my hair cut.Surely my father knew the barber.I do remember that there was a building across the street from the barbershop that was being torn down while I sat in the chair.Later that day we visited the Sears catalog store.I don't recall why, as we never shopped there ourselves.I think we were just picking up something for whoever we were going to visit-maybe Aunt Roseanna.we visited the candy store too.The candy store was run by Jimmy,who was Greek and who treated everyone who came into his store as though they were a kid.My father loved to visit with Jimmy and when we left he would always say"be sure to come back soon,Walter".I'm sure he had been saying that to my father the same way for thirty years or more.

Usually when we were in Springhill we went to visit my Aunt Roseanna.I never especially liked visiting there.Her house was always old and falling down, it seemed and was full of dirty kids who would run around outside in bare feet in the coal.Aunt Roseanna's house burned coal.At least every house they lived in that I can remember did.I hated,still loath the smell of burning coal to this day.It was a smell you could not escape in Springhill.Out in the flats away from downtown there was a huge heap of coal slag which had caught fire and burned for many years,often blanketing the whole town with smoke.In the day you could see the smoke while driving by and at night there was sometimes an eerie glow.I once asked my grandfather when we driving by at night if that was Hell.I don't recall what his answer was,but looking back I can see how a kid might come to that conclusion.I came to view Springhill as being poor and dirty and rundown,and I guess it was compared to our modern house in Moncton.My father worked hard to get out of Springhill and buy a house.For a while I came to view the town as being not as good as us.I don't believe my father intended for us to take an attitude like that though.

Friday, 25 May 2012

One of my first very early memories of Deadwater Creek is being in the barnyard at the house where Paul Hamilton and his mother used to live and watching birds.Bluejays,as I recall,sitting on a fencepost.Paul Hamilton had sheep on his farm and big piles of stones in the pasture.Because he chopped trees and drove them to the mill,I always thought of hiom as Paul Bunyon.He seemed like a very large,strong man,though years later,when I last saw him he hardly seemed bigger than average.His mother,whose name I can never remember was a small frail looking old woman with a bit of a hunched back.She reminded me of Granny in the Sylvester and Tweety cartoons,perhaps because my first memory of her was watching the bluejays.I was very young then and I'm thinking that my parents and grandparents must have been attending a wedding or a funeral at the time.It was very unusual for me to have been left alone with the Hamiltons.

Across the field from the Hamiltons was the Smith farm.My grandmother was a Smith.As long as I can recall the Smith farm was abandoned.Some of the Smiths lived in Ontario,some in Fredricton and some in Portland,Maine where they operated a restaurant called Smith Farm.We would always go pick strawberries on the Smith land and once I was stung by a bee there.You needed to watch for old wells when walking around there too.

All the farms near my grandfathers were abandoned by the mid sixties.Uncle Clifford had moved to Fredricton and worked for the University Of New Brunswick.Fred and Anna English had moved into the town of Canterbury and I can never recall visiting them in Dead Creek.Anna English had tuberculosis and we would visit her at the sanatorium near Moncton for a while.I can recall visiting my uncle Ernies place across the road from my grandparents farm.Ernie Derrick was married to my mothers sister Ruby,and they moved into Canterbury too around this time where they operated a store and gas station at the top of the hill going out of town toward Skiff Lake.They had a bunch of children,most of whom moved to Ontario for a while.Their youngest was my cousin Carolyn,maybe five years older than me.The only reason that I can ever remember visiting the Derricks at the farm is that I remember Carolyn had a toy dump truck,an orange one that she used to play with and allowed me to play with too.Carolyn was very much like her farher,one of the kindest and gentlest souls I've ever met.

In later years we would pick apples on the Derrick farm.Apples were plentiful there but were often wormy and covered with warts.

Often we would drive out to Skiff Lake and come back through Upper Skiff Lake,past Mud Lake which was overgrown and said to be full of suckers and eels.When my grandmother lived on the farm,she would eat eels and they must have got them from Mud Lake.Occasionally she would speak fondly of eating eels,and I thought her a crazy old woman when she did.There wasn't much reason to go back to Canterbury via the old road as there were very few people living there.The only people I can recall visiting were the Wylies who lived on my grandfathers old farm.Pauline Wylie was a short but emense woman and people said she was so big because there was something wrong with her glands.Once we got a kitten from the Wylies and it hads a conniption in the car when we tried to take it home.It took to running laps across the cars dashboard and around the doors and back window deck.While we were away to swimming lessons in Moncton,that cat was struck and killed by a car.

The reason I'm writing all this about Dead Creek is that it is an ancient part of me,even though I didn't live there.The Smiths,Grahams,Englishes and Derricks were all my mothers people and so I am who I am because of the people who lived in and did the things they did in Dead Creek.Someday I hope to research more of the regions history,so that I might know myself better.The fire,in particular fascinates me.

Dead Creek brought forth my mother.She lived there,went to school and church there and in Canterbury and moved away like most of the others.She was a very bright girl by all accounts and ended up working for a number of people as a secretary,including the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and The Canadian Imperial Bank Of Commerce.She was dedicated to her family until she went to be with the Lord in 2006.She rests now,just a few miles from Dead Creek,in the cemetary at Canterbury,with her parents,brother and Husband.

Dead creek is a mystery to me.There is so much to know that I don't know now.Maybe someday I will be able to write more about it,when I know more.But,whatever,I am deeply connected to that place.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Now before I go on here,it seems as good a place as any to give some thought to this dream.

Many writers I know keep a dream journal or notebook by their bed.I've never became anything nearly as obsessive about writing as to do that.Neither am I anywhere near as obsessive about dreams.I could be very wrong about this,but I don't view dreams as having special meaning,at least most of the time.But dreams in the Bible certainly had meaning,which is what leads me to say I may be wrong.The only trouble is,you can go to a book of dream interpretations and find as many different ideas as there are authors,so I have no idea which ones to believe.The best theory I can come up with on my own as to what dreams mean is that they have their meaning largely in whatever connotative meaning the dreamer assigns to their various symbols.And I admit,that is a completely unscientific theory.As for science I'm not convinced that it can interpret dreams,though it may well be able to suggest what the purpose of dreams are.But in terms of the ultimate meaning of a particular dream,I believe that is beyond science.

So what is this dream of the Deadwater Creek about?I don't want to dismiss it so quickly as I might be tempted to do.Why does it recur,though infrequently?First it is connected to a place I know,a place that in some sense is me,a part of my deep history,most of which predates my actual life.Secondly,it shows me that place in a way that is surreal,not at all grounded in what the place is really like.another mystery.I ve come to think of as the way my mind reveals ancient and deep reality to me,though in a way I can't understand intellectually.

The dream:I am walking in the creekbed of that place I know of as Dead Creek.Only it is not the same place as the real Dead Creek.Sometimes I am walking upstream and sometimes downstream.I've always believed the moon to be full though I never see the moon.The night is always bright though.There is never another person in the dream.Sometimes there are foxes and owls.The creek is full of fish.I am looking for my grandfathers old house,or sometimes the place where the creel enters into Eel River Lake.But I never get there before waking up.

The interpretation:Dead Creek is familiar but in so many ways a mystery.So is the dream.The creek is a sort of cleaned up version of the real one with clear water and banks that are not overgrown.Traveling either in it or beside it is not difficult.Rivers I tend to associate with journeys,and water with sustenance or life.That it is well lit is surprising to me,but the moon is all about light.It's not the light of day though.But the light is sufficient to see me through the journey,but doesn't always provide as much light as I might like.Owls are a night sound,though I'm not sure what they could symbolize.Wisdom perhaps,though they could also be interpreted as a predator.They swoop down silently and kill effectively.Though this dream never causes me fear at all,so I tend to see the owl as being a benevolent figure,almost paternal,in a transcendent sense of the word.Foxes are another creature I don't understand in terms of the dream.Foxes in the real world I tend to associate with pleasure,in the sense of  their being a pleasure to encounter and observe.They,in reality, often appear in unexpected places including most of the large cities I've lived in.They belong to the night.Many think them to be quite shy,though in fact they are very inquisitive and will approach very closely.It takes some time to get to know them and you never seem to get to know them completely,which seems to be consistent with the way the dream ends.I should note that of the few recurring dreams I've had,foxes occur in at least two of the others as well.So I suppose I could ask if this has some function to unite or harmonize two or more dreams.

So what does it all mean?I really don't know.Only the idea of looking for my grandfathers house makes much sense to me.In my waking life I've often thought that it might be interesting to do a sort of an archeological expedition of the site,should I ever be able to find it.In fact I've no idea if his house could be found or not.Only that,in the dream it never is,and perhaps that is the whole point.

I only know that from time to time I dream of the Deadwater creek.I'll likely stay fairly contented to not understand this dream in any deep sort of way.I can wonder about it without any real need to know.And maybe someone will read it and be able to gain some insight into what was going on in the dreamers mind.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012


For years I've kept journals,so,if you ever get a chance to view them,none of this will seem all that new to you.Keep in  mind that I first wrote this story down in one form or another some twenty years ago,so I'm not sure why I'm putting it inside a computer.Safe keeping perhaps as I've already managed to lose at least one copy of it.Remember too that the details of this story are likely to have changed somewhat since my first telling of it.I'm not intentionally telling lies,but my memory has changed over the years and I make no apology for it as I am working primarily from memory.I don't use my past writing as reference when relating todays recall.That's just the way it is.Others may recall certain things in a different light and thats fine too.For the most part they are not lying either.For the most part.But my history is mine and the only defense I have against it being told wrongly is to write it myself.So here it is.

My mother was Elva Mae Graham-Davis,though she never hyphenated it.Her parents were Thomas and Alta Graham,from Dead Creek New Brunswick.And of the people before them I have very little idea,though I suppose it is very unlikely that they were much different from my grandparents.

My father was Walter Bruce Davis.He was born and raised in Springhill, Nova Scotia,a rather hard scrabble coal mining town in the county of Cumberland,near the New Brunswick border.His parents were William Davis and Rose Davis,formerly a Ryan.Before william came Samuel Davis and Robert Davis,though again,those are no more than names to me.I'm told that they landed in Cumberland county at a place called Blue Sac road.You still pass that road today on the drive from Parrsboro to Truro and my father would always point it out and say "thats where your people come from"every time we passed.And we passed many times over the years.

Let me start by explaining,such as I understand it what Dead Creek was like.I'm sure there are many who have a better understanding of life there than I ever will,but most of those people don't have much to say about it.That makes me most curious.In deciding to write all this down I've come to realize just how much I don't know about the place,as my moters people were not really story tellers.

My memories go back to the early 1960's when my grandparents still lived on the farm,before they moved into the nearby town of Canterbury.The earliest reference I have to myself in that place is a picture my mother took of my grandfather holding me up next to a large bay horse.I appear to be just an infant so I'm guessing it was sometime in the warmer months of 1961.

In my mind I don't imagine Dead Creek to have changed much since my mothers time.The cars certainly have changed.When I was a child most of the cars were 1950s models,almost exclusivly North American made.There were a lot of rusting automobiles sitting in the yards of abandoned farms and old farm implements as well.By the time I was born many people had began to leave their farms,if only to move into town.Some people moved to Toronto or Fredricton,but most people moved somewhere.

Dead creek burned out in a wildfire in the year my mother was born.Her house was burned when she was about two months old.Maybe about the same age I was when the picture of me with the horse was taken.The countryside must have grown back so it would have had just short of thirty years to have changed before my first memories of it.It was rough country.Of my grandfathers home itself,it was sitting on the side of a hill that some people called a mountain.In some of my memories of it there was a big cistern by the road-a big wooden container of some sort.But in some of my memories it's not there,so really,I don't know if it was there or not.The country around was a place of a lot of trees and hay and wildflowers.I recall daisies and dandelions and black eyed susans most of all.There were kittens and cows and chickens too and horses of course.I can't ever remember a dog being there.When you entered the barn through the front you were at ground level.If you took the stairs into the hayloft you were still at ground level at the back,and how such things could be mystified my young mind.

Dead creek is not far from the Maine border.On a clear day you can look west and see Mt.Katahadin.How you would ever know if you stepped across that border,I have no idea.Maine and New Brunswick were pretty much alike.

Of course Dead Creek had a creek called the Deadwater Creek on some maps.It crossed the road up the way from my grandfathers farm,then turned and flowed in behind the hill on which his house had been built.I've never been down to that part of the creek.In dreams that recur occasionally I'm walking the whole of Deadwater from one end to the other,in the creekbed at night,always by the light of a bright moon.I can't say how that dream ends.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Book Review.

I've never written a book review before.Maybe this isn't so much a review as it is just some thoughts on one of the books I've read recently and that appears in my reading list at the bottom of this blog.Expect to see that from time to time.

The book"Death Of The Liberal Class"by Chris Hedges is very self explanatory in terms of its title.Hedges notes that Classical Liberalism arose as a product of the Enlightenment and is characterized by the ideas of Egalitarianism,individualism,human rights and the idea that the human condition can be continually improved by the application of reason.He notes that Liberal society,through its institutions of organized labour,liberal churches,universities and the press has been largely successful in holding off the excesses of unrestrained Capitalism until the first world war.However,Liberalism since that time has been under constant and ever increasing attack as "permanent war"identifies threats from without about which we need to be on guard:Communism,terrorism,the list continues to expand.The result is more and more surrender of freedom to the state,which he characterizes as being commodity driven and uncaring towards persons and the environment.Ultimately,Hedges sees this as being unsustainable.Liberals have played a well orchestrated part in their own downfall by allowing themselves to become corrupted by the economic forces they were intended to do battle against  to the betterment of humankind.In Hedges view,the future is bleak because the Liberal cause is dead and cannot be revived.

While a world as described by Hedges is indeed a bleak place,I don't see an absence of hope because,while Hedges is informative and raises a number of issues which we all need to give a lot of thought to,he really does not make the case for the Liberal cause being dead.That's not to say that his observations are substantially false.His argument is a kind of political/social "salt and light"argument:if the Liberal Class is indistinguishable from the other forces around it,especially capitalism,globalization and tyranny,then it ceases to be a viable force and optimism for the continued improvement of mankind and we decend into a new dark age.As much as it's a well articulated opinion,all of that is a big if.

Hedges proves his point regarding the corruption of Liberal principles to a greater or lesser degree with respect to each of the Liberal institutions.But he has not recognized that each of these entities is affected by politics unique to it's own situation.So,while the press may be greatly corrupted by virtue of it's growth into big business,universities would appear to be less so( most graduates I know tend to be more liberal in their outlook with greater degrees of education).Hedges also seems to miss a central point with regard to Liberal religious institutions.That is that there are a number of movements within religion that are unique to religion that tend sway believers toward the right politically.Briefly those issues tend to be concerned with eschatology and manifest as support for Israel in the form of Christian Zionism or Dominion theology(the belief that we should pursue political policies which will hasten the establishment gods coming Kingdom).So,if the religious communities are occupied with coming kingdoms,can we really expect them to take up the Liberal crusades as in the past?

One other thing seems to receive only passing note in Hedges book.That being that morals in general have seen a notable decline that more or less corresponds with Hedges perceived decline of Liberal society.At the beginning of the Enlightenment people were morally engaged-all people,not just liberals.But we have seen the rise of moral systems of thought such as Utilitarianism,Humanism,Subjective morality,morality of pure convenience or even nihilism.Briefly,it would seem that people are not nearly so morally involved as they once were in being their brothers keepers and in safeguarding democracy for the benefit of all.Moral discourse has declined in quality because each of these moral systems are poor replacements for belief in God and the moral accountability that belief implied.

Capitalism,power and tyranny tend to be what morality comes to be defined as when there is poor moral discourse.Survival and enhancement of the already advantaged.So at the very time we need to defend liberal ideals the most we tend to have the least ammunition with which to do this.Liberals have tended to be seen as an "anything goes"movement by its detractors and so becomes  at risk of being seen as the enemy.But,far from being the authors of declining moral values,Liberal values still exist in classical form and are articulated by some of history's best political and philosophical minds.Those values are about freeing individuals to respond morally to the world without fear of reprisal from powers that be.And those values are far from dead,though they may need to be re articulated.Liberals need to  get back to first principles and to let the world know that they are doing just that.And despite the corruption of some,they are fully capable of doing so

So,while I encourage you to read "Death Of The Liberal Class" and to consider its premises at length and in detail,I must respectfully disagree with it's conclusions.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Memoir Writers Homework.Installment 3.

Here is the third of the memoir writers homework series,based on the topic "mountains"from the session opn Monday,May 7.

I live on a continent that has mountains on both sides and I have been fortunate to see both of these wonderful mountain ranges,both very different from one another.In part it was the desire to see the Rockies that led me to the west,and they have never disappointed me.They inspire awe every time I see or pass through them.The first time I ventured into the Rocky Mountains would have been in a frightfully hot August of 1979,near Jasper Alberta.The road,the main highway that is was impassable for the many heards of mountain goats.I thought I would have to walk far into the backcountry to see them,but they venture right out on the road and show no fear of humans or cars.Later that evening I made camp on the west side of the Rockies near Blue River ,British Columbia.The rain came quickly at sunset and I was forced to abandon the idea of sleeping in my tent and lay out across the front seat of my car.There I got to see the most violent thunder storm I'd ever seen light up those majestic peaks as I drifted off to sleep.In the morning the world was fresh and clean and very cold as mountain mornings can be even in summer.Sunshine returned and burned off the fog as I drove onward into the mountains of the interior of British Columbia.Those mountains turned from cool and wet to very dry in the Okanogan Valley to wet and thick with trees at the Pacific coast.A couple of years later I visited Mount Ranier in Washington state.It was and remains the single largest thing I've ever seen and to be truthfull,it filled me with awe and made me realize how very small I was.

The other side of North America has smaller mountains.People out west would call them hills,not mountains.But really,I think of them as my favorite mountains,a place I would like to live in the way of people from long ago.Back in the hills where there are no Homedepots or Walmarts.Just the sounds and sights of the Applachians.They may not be as big as western mountains,but they are more embracing,more like home.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Part of the problem with all the traveling I've been doing these last few years is that I haven't been able to keep many books of my own.that of course doesn't mean that I've been reading any less,it just means that I've been buying less at the bookstore.I made extensive use of a world class library system when I lived in Toronto and it was a truly amazing resource.But it's just not the same as owning my own books,because,you see,I like to mark up my own books a lot by putting extensive notes in the margins,side columns and even between the lines.And to so that,you must own the book.Until last weekend I hadn't written in a book in over three years so its nice to be getting back a sense of normalcy that way.When I was small,adults used to say never to write in a book,but I've learned to do so apologetically.You see,I bought the book and it's mine.Part of what I intended in buying it was being able to interact with it's author and I don't know how to do that without keeping my own notes.Moreover,someday those books will be passed along to someone else and having those notes will help that person understand how my mind was interacting with the books author.That is providing,of course that books survive as a distinct form of media.Perish the very thought that they might not.

Speaking of books,if you are reading this blog on a regular basis,you will notice that I keep a list of what I am reading.From time to time I expect to be making comments on some of those books as well.You will likely find that my reading interests are quite varied.But I hope you will take some time to check out some those books that I've listed.If I especially like one,or find that a certain book makes an important point,you can look forward to seeing a review of sorts of it,though I'm really not a book reviewer.In fact,I've got just such an undertaking planned for a bit later this week.So keep checking my updated list.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Crotchety,A%*@ Retentive Old Man

I used to have a certain view of older people when I was twenty something.By older,I meant anyone over forty.They were all stodgy,conservative old men and women with perpetual frowns,set in their ways who would wear any colour suit to church-so long as it was black.

But somewhere along the line,after I passed fifty,I seem to have turned into a crotchety,retentive old man.When I ssay "retentive",I'll leave it to my readers to figure out the word that goes with it to make a complete phrase.

The twenty somethings I've had to deal with over the past couple of days are beginning to make me fear I'm turning into Walter Matheau or Jack Lemon.I never thought it would happen,but I don't seem to understand young kids.

We've  spent the last couple of days out building a golf course in South Calgary and the days have been very hot and dusty.Rather unpleasant work for everyone.But after only four hours,two of our staff simply left without bothering to finish out the day.In truth,I think we were better off without them.As an older person I don't know why someone would bother coming to the work site if they didn't intend to put in a whole day.Don't like the work,then don't come back tomorrow-believe me not many of us are going to miss you.The one kid looked to be just short of twenty and was complaining all morning-"the works too hard,its too hot,when do we get a break,I'm not getting paid enough"etc.Guess what kid.We are all hot and breathing dust and I have sore knees and didn't get enough sleep and I have gout too-you'll get that when you get older,if selling cell phones in the mall doesn't break your back first.The second of the two?He was hot and dusty too.But it was really the supervisor trying to explain to him that,no matter how hot you are,you really can't take off your shirt in the middle off a golf course surrounded by high end family homes.And,guess what-you can't urinate anyplace you want either.Kids and their values,these days.Well,I'm not going to miss him much either,brilliant conversationist that he was.Can't seem to say a seven word sentence without using at least three  F bombs.Maybe next time I see him I will expand his linguistic horizons by bringing up the subject of fire trucks.That way he can actually learn to rhyme without having to waste his intellect on learning another letter of the alphabet.One weants to make certain they've mastered F before going on to G.But the thing that got me most was watching this...whatever, take out his lunch,filled up with a nice green salad and a fine cheese and ham sandwich on fresh brown bread and saying"My,F-bomb,b word put the wrong kind of F-bomb mustard on my F-bomb sandwich.Maybe it's just me,but when someone cared enough for me to make me a lunch like that,it was a great thing and I appreciated it.But at least as I was standing there working for the rest of the day I didn't have to be burdened by that sort of attitude from a co-worker.After all,the attitudes packed it in early.Praise the Lord for small blessings.But I seem to be becoming what I hoped I never would.The thing is though,it seems to fit me better than I thought it would years ago.Just as long as I can keep wearing that bright orange tie to church...or no tie at all if that suits me on any given Sunday.

Good night from hot,dusty,attitude infested Calgary Alberta,Canada.

Monday, 14 May 2012

Memoir Group Homework-Our First Television

Here is the second installment of Memoir Writers Homework,based on the memoir group that I used to attend while living in Toronto.This topic was one I contributed some time ago and the writers wrote on it at their May 7 meeting.I am trying to undertake at least some of their writing topics though I now live in Calgary and no longer meet with the group.So here is installment two,entitled "Our First Television".

To my way of thinking we must have gotten our first television sometime in 1964.It was sometime after we moved from Goose Bay to Moncton.That is to say,there was a period of time we lived in Moncton in which we had no television,so the year 1964 strikes me as about right.But it strikes me as being right for another reason as well.Some of the first images I can recall seeing were associated with the Civil Rights Movement in the American South.Today some of that footage troubles me deeply,but at the time it was just something that was happening and that we could watch.People being sprayed with water cannons,politicians proselytizing the virtues of segregation now and forever,policemen,who we were taught to respect using using words we were not permitted to use-"nigger!"I Didn't fully understand  the difference between the term "nigger"and "negro" at the time.I knew one word was forbidden and the other was alright,that they had similar though different meanings,but I didn't know for certain which word was witch.So our first television brought controversy to our household almost immediately

Television also brought fun,harmless entertainment.There was "The Beverly Hillbillies","Gilligans Island" and the "Flintstones",not to mention evening cartoons which always conflicted with supper time.And we used to love the show "Get Smart"that always aired on Friday night just before bed time.Of course now I understand the show,but at the time what I liked most about it was the show intro with the doors opening and closing in front of and behind Don Adams the shows star.I guess I was a bit young for the story line.

On Saturday evening we watched the "Don Messer Show"Everyone in Canada seems to have enjoyed this iconic show.Nearly everyone of my age says that their parents watched this country music show,and  nearly all of them  relate that it was a very good idea to be quiet and well behaved while this show was on.I can hardly think of anything on television either then or now that was more distinctly Canadian.

Our first television was a huge, very heavy box that could not be eaisly lifted or moved.Many people had Television antennas on their roof,but our television had rabbit ears which were adjusted to tune in reception.It didn't always work especially well.Neither did the vertical hold.Eventually the set had to be taken next door to Mr.Cormier,who worked at the railway shops,but who also repaired televisions in his basement.I tried to look through his basement window once,where he repaired the televisions but I didn't see our set.Just a room full of a bewildering array of glass tubes that I knew went inside televisions which caused them to work.Televisions of that day were crammed full of ghostly glowin tubes and it was nearly as interesting to peer into the back of them as it was to watch the front.Except,of course that it was very difficult to gain that vantage point because of the sets size and weight and the fact that it was always pressed hard up against the wall.

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Mothers Day

First,just a note to readers.Since I no longer have access to the laptop I was using it is possible that blog entries may be appearing less frequently for a while.I apologize for this problem  and hope that it can be corrected in the near future.

Since tomorrow is Mothers Day ,I just thought I would take this blog entry to say a few words about my mother.It also fits with one of the ongoing themes of this blog,that being memoir.Consider it a tribute to my mother(Elva Mae Davis,1934-2006) as well as a bit of back story,in the sense of memoir.

My mother was born and raised in the back country of Western New Brunswick,not far from the border of Maine.Today its forgotten country with not nearly as many farms as there were years ago.But that is where my mother grew up,on the side of a hill that some people call a "mountain"The land is not especially good,with a lot of rocks and rather thin soil.There are ,and were a lot of trees about and it was mainly the trees that provided a livelihood in my mothers day.

Only shortly after my mothers birth,her and her family were burned out by a wildfire and had to start over again on very little.It's a fascinating story and maybe someday I'll write about it.When I'm convinced I have the facts straight enough in my mind.

But this was about my mother.Her life so far as I can tell must have been rather ordinary.She never really told me a lot about what it was like growing up,or perhaps I just don't remember a lot.My grandfather chopped trees and my grandmother ran the farm.I do recall that my mother told me that they would go to school by horse and sleigh in the winter.She once told me that her horse got stuck going to school.Usually there was a lot of snow in that part of the world in winter.She must have attended school in one of the nearby one room school houses,and she must have been reasonably clever,as she graduated from high school in 1950.Her diploma hung on her bedroom wall for as long as I can remember.

After school,my mother told me she went to work for the Royal Canadian Mounted  Police,as a secretary,in Truro,Nova Scotia.She told me that she could type 90 words per minute,and I don't doubt it,having seen her type.I'm not sure why she never went to university as she certainly had the mind for it.It was likely a matter of finance when she got out of school,and likely a matter of dedication to her family after I came along in 1961.Most of the time she worked,after we moved back to New Brunswick in the early 60's.For a short time she taught school in a tiny school house near where we lived.She told me that most of her students were from the Mormon family that lived on the farm next to us and that sometimes her kids would bring beer to school.I often wonder how she managed to teach at all.All I remember of that time is that she used to write out copies of exams at home using a fountain pen and carbon paper.

Later my mother worked at a bank just down the street from our house.A rather ordinary job that she held until after I moved out west.

On a cold winters night in 2006,my mother lost her life in a car accident just ten minutes from home.It was,in my mind a needless event.Needless in the sense of her not needing to be where she was when the accident occurred,but then,it's God that allows such things to be.Her and the driver of the car that hit her were both killed at the scene.

It was and still is hard sometimes because I never really got a chance to say good-bye.I'd talked to her a few days earlier and she said she was trying to figure out where I lived on her computer,and asked me how far it was from the Calgary airport.I never dreamed it would be the last time we spoke as she was still in good health.We exchanged some emails after that last phone call,and there were some emails on my computer from her a few days after the accident but I never could bring myself to open them.

In her final years my mother was a dedicated caregiver to both her husband of 46 years and to her grandchildren.That's what she was doing when she passed from this world.

I believe my mother is in Heaven.She believed in Church and God and family,though for the most part I really didn't understand the exact nature of her belief.I didn't share her denominational view after I came to belief in Christ.I often wondered what she saw in the church she attended.But she was good and kind,had a lot of wisdom about how to live well with others in this world,and believed that the world was a better place than what it really is.She never really went so far,in terms of distance from that small farm upbringing and tended to view the world in overly idealistic ways.Most people she believed were good,but our world was out running her ideals.Still,all her life she reflected a lot of Gods grace.She was Mother,Grandmother,wife and Matriarch.Gone,but not forgotten.

So tomorrow,be sure to spend quality time with your mother if you can.Because you never really know when you're saying good-bye.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

I try to keep a positive attitude about being back in Alberta.Sometimes thats easy because there really is a lot to be grateful for here.Other times it is amazingly difficult.Like last night for instance.It was a beautiful spring evening and I was walking to my Monday night jam session in the east village.As I neared my destination I was approached by two people on bicycles.Now I know the Alberta mindset:"I'm entitled-to make as much money as I can,to no government interference in my life and to whatever I can put over on my fellow citizens.In short to do as I please so long as I am sneaky enough or forceful enough to get away with it."So then,the fact that I was struck and injured by one of these spandex clad buffoons is likely my own fault.After all I only gave them two thirds of the sidewalk that they are"entitled"to use,even though the law regarding such use is phrased somewhat differently.I guess the expectation on their part was that I should step out into a busy street to allow them to pass.Silly me for thinking otherwise.But you see,I tend to view such enviromentalists as doing something responsible with their lives,like relieving downtown traffic congestion or not fouling our air with more exhaust fumes.On the other hand,maybe it's more about parking for free when everyone else pays.After all there are so many places one can chain up a bike at no cost at all.Like to mailboxes,fire hydrants,trees and even other peoples bicycles that are already using the designated bike posts.Or,maybe its really all about the fact that bicycles are not licensed or insured in this city,thus allowing this person to enjoy his entitlement to it's fullest degree.That is to say,without fear of accountability.And that state of affairs continues to exist despite at least one fatal hit and run collision between a cyclist and a pedestrian in the time I've lived in Calgary.So to this moron in tights I have this to say.By the rules of your own logic you are also "entitled"to ride your bike the wrong way down the Deerfoot Trail at rush hour.So I was thinking that you might like to do that sometime soon so as to come to a greater appreciation that every other citizen is also "entitled".As for me,I'll survive.I have a large bruise on my wrist,thumb and forearm where I caught this guys handlebars but no real damage done.And,oh did I mention,after his incident with me Mr.Responsible Cyclist speeds off past a construction flagman holding up a stop sign.It's not like he didn't see the sign.He was standing on his pedals and cranking as hard as he could.Now why do that if he's covered by "entitlement"At least it seems as though he really does understand the difference between right and wrong-and chooses to avoid the inconveniance that doing the right thing implies.So much for the forward thinking responsible enviromentalist.Aside from saving some burrowing owl,this guy obviously doesn't have much consideration for the rest of God's creatures,especially human ones.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

It's a topic that keeps coming up in memoir writing group in different forms.but among a bunch of writers I guess thats to be expected.Why write.Why sit down at a computer and make blog entries?Especially on a day like today when I seem to lack much motivation.

I.'ve been writing in one way or another for the past twenty or so years. and the real reason is just simply to tell my own story,to take ownership of it so that it's not left to others to do.because,to me that is intolerable.over the years some people have directed criticism toward me,some of it more than fair and a good deal of it not.I don't presume to answer that criticism in any manner but to offer my own story in my own words.So my writing,all of it is my own definition of myself.Others may disagree with what I offer.In fact,at least one of my siblings activly disagrees with every word that comes out of my mouth.So be it.But if I leave a written record,it's there for all to see so that they might decide for themselves what I'm all about.I have to keep reminding myself that this is why it's important to keep writing.In truth my life doesn't seem all that interesting to me.But it may to someone elsei try to look at it as a decendant of mine might two or three hundred years from now.

My grandfather was an interesting man.In the 1920's he was a bootlegger in the Province of Nova Scotia.Thats how the story goes anyhow.It's said that when he was a young boy,before WWI he once blew up the schoolhouse with dynamite.My father used to tell that story every time we drove past that school.But no one seems to know why he would do such a thing.Doing such a thing may not have been as unusual as it seems to me today.Dynamite was not likely hard to come by as he lived in a mining town.Dynamite being available is a concept very foreign to my post 9/11 mind.Worthy of his story in and of itself.But my point was not to tell his story.You see,I don't know his story and that is the whole point.

Once when we were very young my grandfather had come to visit us in Moncton.One night at bedtime my sister and I asked him to read us a story.he declined and I wondered why.Later my mother explained that he could neither read nor write.And so we never had a record of a life that must have been so very interesting.We have other peoples stories,to be sure but I would love to have heard what he had to say about his time on earth,his thoughts,his history.He never left a record.And that was because he lacked the means.So far as I know others in my family never left a record either.Not because they couldn't,but they just were not writers or historians.It never occured to them they needed to leave a written record.

I'm not like that!I'm not going to be like that!I started writing a journal when I took upgrading classes before I could get into community college and it just kept right on going after the class ended .That journal has grown to several volumes of coil notebooks,each more or less beginning with  the same explanation as to why I'm doing all this hen scratching-my contribution to family history.these days some of that history is going into my blog.It's my first time actually typing this out rather than writing it all in longhand.I'm not sure how I feel about that.

But,if you are takeing the time to read this,you are likely to find my thoughts kind of scattered.I make no apology for that.You might get a story from my childhood,political op/ed,history,a discription of my days activities,philosophy,humour,a portraitof a homeless person I see on a trip downtown and many other things.I hope you will keep reading,because,you see I'm writing all this for a reason.Even if I'm not sure what that reason is.I only know that for one reason or another I was inspired to write it.And,for that reason,it is pure me,and in one way or another part of my story.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Michael T Davis

Michael T Davis

memoir writer homework(Monday,April 30)-people I don't like.

These days I try hard to like everyone.Well,I guess thats really a lie,but I try to like as many people as I can,because it just takes too much energy to dislike people.When I was in grade school,it seemed that I disliked almost everyone around me at one time or another.some of them I hated constantly.Moncton,my hometown,seemed full of nasty,mean spirited people and I couldn't wait to leave.But in truth,by the end of high school,when I look back on it,nearly everyone was treating nearly everyone else with more civility.I think it was just a time for putting away childish things and I often wonder what it would have been like if I'd stayed.Could I have learned to like my hometown a little bit more?to a degree,thats a question that will likely haunt me forever.It took me a long time,and a lot of distance to learn to like people.Becoming a Christian helped a lot because it forced me to view my neighbours through the eyes of God,who says in his word that he loves them,and commands me to do likewise.And I truly do make the effort,though in truth,there are a lot of people out there who are very difficult to like.Lately I've come to know that there is a difference between a person,in terms of their identity,and the way that they choose to behave.Or,to put it another way,one might behave,or behave otherwise.So I try to deal with unlikeable persons in terms of behaviour.There are things which,quite frankly annoy me,even piss me off.There are some things that I will not tolerate on the grounds of belief or principle.And there are some things which are wrongminded or even evil and I must take a stand against them.But that is entirely different from disliking someone or some group of people,something which I really have no right to do.That is my perspective on disliking people right now,but it took my whole life to get that guy who got offended by something I posted on Facebook,something that he viewed on a mutual friends page instead of mine,just before calling me an irrelevant,pathetic old man,you really are not that likeable,but I don't hate you.It's just your behaviour that I find repulsive.I could even like you if you disagreed with me like many reasonable people do.To a certain right wing politician who values ignorance,has never heard of Margaret Atwood,and cannot even properly pronounce the word "library",if you could master the art of educating yourself and losing weight only on the right side of your body so that you would naturally tip to the left,it would make my job of trying to like you so much easier.who knows,I might even like you enough to vote for you.

memoir writers homework

While in Toronto,I was a member of group of memoir writers that met on Mondays at The Lillian Smith Library.And an amazing group of writers it was.Though I no longer meet at their table,I still consider myself a member of this very inspiring community of writers.Each of us contributed topics for writing and each meeting we would draw those topics,written in small slips of paper, from a can,at random.Many of the topics contained ideas that would likely never have occured to me if left to my own devices.Yet,when I really think about it,and take the time to write about it,nearly every topic figured into my life in one way or another.As a result,I now have a vast amount of work product with which to start a memoir.I like to refer to each of these writing sessions as a "hunter/gatherer"activity,without which no writing could be undertaken.It is for this reason that I am going to entitle,hopefully at least on blog entry per week"memoir writers homework".These entries will be based upon on of the topics undertaken in the previous Mondays meeting.And yes,I promise to write for just ten minutes on each topic.More or less like I did when there in person.