Saturday, December 29, 2007

Ani DiFranco Poet

Today really has been one of those ups n downs, the kind of day you feel like staying in bed.

However, after taking care of a few things I came online. I did my run of links, & then came the blog of BillyBlog the Oxypoet. What I found there is something I will never quite get over, ~ a poem "Self Evident".

I give you the link and judge for yourselves... Thanks a million Billy.


Monday, December 24, 2007

“Our kid”

I sincerely apologise for the length of this story, but believe me it was necessary, thank you for your indulgence. ~

I sat staring blankly at the television screen, just me, the TV and a chair. I had sat there now for some little time, a lump in my throat, my emotions just ripping away at my insides as I tried to summon up enough courage to turn the damn thing on! I was angry, I was an empty vessel, yet my feelings ran rampant. I longed so much not to believe the tape, a tape I had yet to watch, even though the dreaded content I knew already. ~

The Christmas card had arrived well in time, as it always had when the family sent them over from the old country. My youngest brother now held the reigns for that annual chore, ever since Mom passed away a few years back, God I still miss her so much.

No more those welcome phone calls, the unmistaken English accent, and who could forget the incredulous questions each time?

“Hello. Is that Eric? Is that Canada? “

The almost disbelief in her voice like that of a child, that you really were not standing in the next room, but indeed 3000 miles away. ~ She never did get used to the magic of the telephone.

Then Ron took over the cards & ocassional phone calls, the greeting there being,

“Hi there Our Kid!” a pause, “Are you doin alright then?”

A favorite phrase that somehow had attached itself to me from Ron. Both the call and the card were very special that year, for they became the very last I would receive.

A couple of weeks later Ron collapsed and died, no apparent warning. ~

I was angry at myself for not being there and worse, not being able to travel such distances now, because of my own health problems. ~

One of the in-laws promised me that the whole funeral & service would be filmed on tape for me. ~

I pressed the TV remote on/play button. ~

The dark screen sprang to life, as swiftly, figures appeared scurrying past the camera in an effort to get seen and be heard. The sounds of “Hi,” “Hi Eric” fell on my ears, with the odd waving hand slipping by, belonging to only who knows who. The camera scanned the church as people moved down the aisles to find a seat, I strained to see if there was anyone I recognised. Quite frankly I was amazed at the numbers of people present, some sad, others chatting away among themselves as they waited for things to settle down and the service to start. I never realized that so many even knew Ron. Tentatively I looked down at the front of the church aisle towards the alter, I was looking for the coffin.

With none in sight it looked more like a turnout for a wedding, with a moderately jovial crowd.

Quietly, I sat looking through my own personal window, protected from the crowd I could see and waited. Sobbing silently as with a flurry of activity, two ushers wheeled in the coffin on a covered trolley, the lump took a violent jump.

A guttural sound forced its way out of my throat, as tears started to flow onto my cheeks. In my mind I was crying out “Ron No!” and the tears became a deluge. Elizabeth came over and hugged me, her own tears falling over my face.

Settling down a little I rewound the couple of minutes of tape I’d missed. At that point the Vicar entered and made his way to the alter, went through his ritual, then turned to address the congregation. I sat there staring, hardly hearing most of the first words he uttered, these were mostly of the routine kind anyway and he had a musically accending voice that was difficult at best.

It had been decided by me prior, that I would furnish the Eulogy, to be read by the vicar on my behalf. ~ He proceeded to move along in that direction, after spending what seemed like an eternity voicing accolades over Ron and his life. ~

Finally my turn arrived as the vicar picking up the eulogy, started reading. He read with a reverance and pride, maybe the most impactive speech he had done in a long while. His reading and voice reflecting to me, that maybe he had practised this before the service began, I just swallowed hard, only to have another lump lodge in my throat. ~


I come to you today, tho’ conspicuous in my absence, to join with you, both relatives and friends in a celebration of life, for my brother Ron.

Dear Ron, my heart, tho’ full of love for you is also so heavy with grief at your departure.
For some time now you have been on my mind, I guess getting cards from you over Christmas will do that to a person. Of course at times like that, I usually dig out any photographs that I have of the family and reminisce about how I wish I wasn’t so far away, for I have missed you so much.

Not so amazing is how now, at a time like this memories come flooding back to me.

Always foremost in my mind, was always your strength of purpose as you bounded through whatever life threw at you. Many times in my life I have envied you your strength of character, something I wished I had had more of.

But I also remember, your apparent fragile state when as a child of two, you fell off the second stair from the bottom and apparently broke your arm, an accident that soon lost its sense of pain after the crying stopped, for now you had a nice clean cast to show everyone and of course be made a fuss of.

I remember as a child the time before the war and our evacuation to Blackpool, when we had to go in the Sunday school "Manchester Walk" one Easter Sunday I believe, you holding my left hand and Harold holding my right. I have never forgotten that day, for we had to wear little velvet suits that our Mom had made for the occasion, I remember mine was a light Blue.

Even later your excitement at owning your first motorbike, a BSA if I remember correctly. I was left feeling quite humble, for I just had a bicycle although that was my choice. As time went on, the apprehension or excitement at having to go into the army like our brother Harold did under national conscription or as I did as a regular and then you got the cushy job as cinema projectionist for your army service. I still have the photo of you guzzling back a beer on a nice sunny day.

There are so many memories of those years of our growing up, good times, rough times and a few good battles on the golden mile after a few beers, when the ‘Valentines’ took on all comers, I guess in those days we had quite the reputation. Like the three musketeers, it was always "all for one and one for all" with us. I think of those days often and still get a wry smile on my face.

I remember too, all the good times at the clubs, such great friends and friendly camaraderie, as we played our games of darts, cards and domino’s, we did pretty good in those days.

In more recent years since our parents and Harry passed on, we seemed to get even closer you and I. I can still hear your voice when you picked up the phone and uttered those now famous words ‘Hi there our kid’, such a term of endearment from you, one that I shall never forget. I love you Ron, it breaks my heart to realize I will never hear those words again over the phone, or receive the cards you always picked out to send me with such caring and love. I will always love and remember you Ron and all the members of the family no longer here. I dedicate this poem to you that I wrote in my grief.

See you ‘Our kid’ Your loving brother Eric.

Au Re-voir

Warm moisture feel I on my face
Lips tremble tears abound,
My arms around you in embrace.
In sadness, I cradle you.

Misted thoughts do crowd the space,
In my endless swirling mind
Of better times, or better place
But of this you’re not aware.

I grieve for your reality,
Yet celebrate the freedom of your soul.
As silently away you slip,
From the realm of my reality, into
The memory pastures of my mind.

Eric Valentine ©

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Stormy production

You have no idea how much trouble I had getting this to work, sometimes unconventional methods do the trick.

Wish the video was a little longer, but this is some of the stuff we got dumped on us in the storm.. Enjoy... Sound is of course optional.. ~ :)

As you can see we still have a gliche but this hyperlink at least works to show the video...You just have to back out the window when its done.. Sorry for the inconvenience.. :)



Thursday, December 13, 2007


A couple of weeks ago if you recall, I ran into a computer problem. Fortunately I was still able to write text, but the additional problem persisted and in doing so messed up my ability to blog the way I normally would.

I thought I had narrowed it down to the Norton’s Security program, but then I got additional problems happening that can only be related to Vista. I don’t know if anyone else experiences ‘Windows Explorer’ (in Vista) stop working, shutting down any open windows & then resumes working again? Anyway lately I seem to get that quite frequently. It’s pretty ludicrous when because of the problem, I now have to save my work more frequently ~ Just in case! ~

In my search for a solution I went through all kinds of checking, searching etc, going back through error files and stuff I didn’t know existed.

Along the way I twiddled and twaddled giving a few things a swift kick for good measure. Imagine my surprise last night when I went in and ran another of my many tests, things worked like they used to.

~ So bear with me if I go a little crazy and put some pictures in here that work!! ~

Elizabeth is the Pied Piper

Something to look forward to in the spring. Dancing to the music.

Our prize Cardinal, he's got his eye on you!


Sunday, December 9, 2007

One Christmas

Can’t you tell that Christmas is upon us. Yesterday I was in the bathroom puttering around to start the day, when in walked the wife. I can always tell when she’s up to something for she gets this mischievous look on her face and a twinkle in her eyes.

“Don’t forget to shave,” she quipped with a smile.

“Why, are we going someplace love?”

“Well no, but you always look better when you have shaved. I want to take some pictures of you wearing this hat.” She flourished a Santa hat from behind her back, then promptly plonked it on my head!

“I’m not wearing that thing!” I retorted while tossing it aside, chuckling as I uttered that futile protest, for I knew she would insist and eventually the pictures would be taken.

It was the magic of Christmas in the air that got me thinking. On this ocassion I was reminded of how differently Christmas is celebrated in various parts of my world.

Here in North America and in Canada in particular, things are very commercialized and on view to the naked eye. Houses are decorated and lit up on the outside, in most cases a thing of beauty, but with the ocassional glaring garish display.

Over in England where I originate from, Christmas is more of an indoor decoration & celebration, unless one tends to go into the town and mix with all the party revelers. Thinking about all this earlier today, brought to mind a memory of when I was a small kid and times were very different in the world. Sitting there daydreaming, I thought of how we used to go out Christmas caroling. This was a popular tradition years ago back home. There would be a knock on the door and when you opened it a group of children would be singing xmas carols. After a couple of songs the people would tip them and off they would go to another house.

It was almost like looking through a window in time as I gazed into my memory. There we were, my brothers and I getting all excited about Christmas and going out carol singing. ~

I thought about the year my two small brothers and I went and rang the bell on the door of a huge hotel on the seafront. I didn’t think too much of it for I delivered newspapers in that area. This man came to the door and as he looked down on us, we started to sing carols. Surprisingly, he was patient enough until we finished. He asked us questions about ourselves and then enquired, did we think our Mother would let us go back to the hotel later that evening? Even though I was only 9 yrs old I knew mom would say it was ok and told the man so. It was arranged then that we go back at 7:30 that evening. Apparently they were putting on a Xmas production for the hotel guests. The man wanted us to go on stage and sing some carols for the audience. We turned up on time and accompanied by a piano, went through our score. We were very warmly received and the crowd were very enthusiastic with their applause.

If you can imagine three scruffy little urchins standing on a stage in ragged short pants singing like angels, we must have looked a right sight. I guess you get the idea, we were almost like a scene from “Oliver Twist” and this was Christmas 1942, ~ there was still a war on.

After we had finished our singing a lady took us along to the hotel kitchen. We sat down to the biggest spread of food that I had ever seen, except maybe in movies.

To start there were Christmas crackers, the kind you pull, they go bang and a trinket usually falls out along with a paper hat. Food was jelly and canned fruit with custard, turkey sandwiches with lots of white turkey and stuffing, English trifle and to finish it all off was a big piece of English Christmas cake with Royal icing, very much like a wedding cake today. We stuffed ourselves as kids will, and to take home they made up a bag of goodies plus a nice box of chocolates for Mom.

In addition to the feast, the hotel people had ‘passed the hat’ around the audience and took up a collection for our performance. We almost fell over when we saw how much money they handed us. It came to about five English pounds, the equivalent of two weeks wages for an adult. We thanked everyone very much for their kindness and the experience, then rushed home to mom with the loot. ~

I stepped back from my ‘window’ only to find tears trickling down my cheeks, as I related my story to Elizabeth. I remembered those times, I remembered my family, all of who are gone now but not forgotten, for I will always have my ‘window’.

The wife brushed away my tears and scolding me gently said,“Just look at you, you didn’t even comb your hair today.” To which I replied, “Oh yes I did, then someone put a silly hat on my head!” We hugged as she laughed at me, tears still fresh on her face.

Eric Valentine Dec 08/07 ©


Monday, December 3, 2007

The Treatment

Have you ever stopped to think about the word “Treatment”? Such a flexible word that can be and has been used down through the ages for effect.

There are of course the most obvious uses of the word, like when you feel ill or catch a bug, an “uh oh better get treatment for that“. There are many secondary uses of ‘that word’ such as the carryings on, between let’s say businesses & unions, ~ they sure know how to give each other “The treatment“ come bargaining time. ~ Kids have been known to give parents the treatment, to get what they want. How do you look after your dog/pet? Nice treatment ~ How do you treat the material things you buy or own, ever think about the treatment they get? ~ You get the idea.

The best use of the word though I think, comes into play when you get into the behavior of people. Have you ever took stock of how different people treat each other, depending on which side of the table you come from or the situation?
How about the wife? Does she give you the ‘Treatment’ if she doesn’t get her own way? ~ Yeah, you know what treatment means at those times, it‘s painfully obvious. ~

Elizabeth and I have a lot of fun. I like to goof around and I tease her an awful lot sometimes, ~ but even I am not beyond getting ‘the treatment’ if I go too far. (Insert a smile at this point)
I think that if I had to be serious most all the time I would go nutz!

So I act the goat, be a comedian, take your pick, for there are a thousand cliché’s for the things I do, just to keep life happy and simple. Of course I could do none of this if I didn’t have such a caring and fun loving partner.

You might well ask, what brought all this up? This topic?

Well earlier today, I was busy trying to solve that computer problem I’m stuck with for now. That’s when the wife chose to say

‘let’s watch a movie‘.

Well normally I don’t like watching movies in the early daytime, I’d rather watch in the evening, so I said no I don‘t want to waste time watching a movie! I had to try to fix the problem & the noise from the boob tube would disturb my concentration. ~ Perfectly understandable to my way of thinking.

That’s when I noticed this distinct cool change in the atmosphere, this silence with the retort ~ ‘fine!’
I always know she’s upset with me when she says fine like that.

I looked at her sitting on the couch, trying to keep that serious schoolmarm look on her face, her with her reading glasses perched on the end of her nose. (She’d make a pretty schoolmarm)

I said “You’re giving me the treatment aren’t you?”

‘Who me? What is that? ~ She said,

I just burst out laughing as I pointed out the schoolmarm bit to her. At that point she cracked up, and we both laughed together, she can never stay upset for too long, as I explained that I had, had a lot of experience with “The Treatment” thing in my life and could tell in a minute that‘s what she was doing, more laughter from the pair of us, as she said

‘I never thought of it quite like that’,

I just looked and smiled for she is just so sweet. Having second thoughts I said to her,

“ Put the movie on if you want, I’ll manage somehow”.

‘Nope! It’s been on too long and is half over anyway’

I looked at her incredulously then at the clock.

“It’s been on ten minutes! If you discount the intro and commercials, you’ve missed maybe the opening credits!”

‘It doesn’t matter now, it’s too late’

She buried her nose in the book she had started reading. I sat there,

“You’re doing the treatment again!”

Elizabeth looked up, a smile tugging the corners of such a pretty mouth, she has this way of rolling her eyes at times that is so cute.
I tease her some more,
“No point looking up there, you’re on your own with this one”.

More laughter and things are fine once more.

This is the way we are in our relationship, it works fantastic and we wouldn’t have it any other way. You see, ~ Sometimes “The Treatment” does pay off ~ mostly for the ladies and once in awhile, ~ Maybe the guys win one.


Saturday, December 1, 2007

Cold Comfort

This last two days have been a bit of a headache. If you recall earlier this year I ran into problems with the switch to ‘Vista’ a thing that is still not totally out of the woods, shaky at best.

My newest problem involves a little Vista, but I am thinking most of the quirks are from the ‘Norton’s International’ security program. So much so that I am still in the throes of finding a fix. Meanwhile I am stuck with just text posting for now. I had wanted to make a post in the blog two days ago, but because of my problem things will have to be on hold for a short while.

Hope everyone has a great weekend, now I’m off to roll up the sleeves and get down to the nitty gritty.

All this and a temperature outside with the wind of -18c, how do you like them apples! Grrrrrrrrrrr ~ No doubt there will be a gnashing of molars as I go.