Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

The Sixties Scoop…
February 15, 2017

My wife and I are the parents of an adopted First Nations Child whose adoption took place within the time-frame of the legal action against the Canadian Government titled The Sixties Scoop. Details of the class action suit can be viewed here: This action, on behalf of indigenous children adopted by non-indigenous families, has been eight years in the process with the Canadian Government taking all legal actions available to avoid having this case heard. The absolute shame was the federal Government wanting to avoid the judgement to enable them to settle out of court-to set aside 8 years of process. I shake my head at our arrogance in attempting to avoid justice in this case.

Government asks judge to postpone ruling in ’60s Scoop case, outraging plaintiffs

This is a case more directly aligned with the concept of cultural genocide than about any other explanation, in my opinion. It is about the assimilation of indigenous children into the society of the day and is an off-shoot of the Residential Schools program in Canada that had it’s roots in “1860[,] Indian Affairs is transferred from the Imperial Government to the Province of Canada. This is after the Imperial Government shifts its policy from fostering the autonomy of native populations through industry to assimilating them through education. (see A timeline of Residential Schools)” In reality it began in the 1600s and the process of assimilation continued well into the late 1900s.

It saddens me that we, my wife and I,  were complicit in the continuation of this abominable program out of our ignorance as non-indigenous adoptive parents and the failure of the Canadian government and its agencies to inform us of their and our responsibilities to our child to maintain her cultural identity. The good news is we live on the doorstep of two First Nations communities, Biigtigong Nishnaabeg and Pic Mobert and many of our children’s classmates and friends were indigenous children. By osmosis, for want of a better term, our child spent considerable time in Biigtigong Nishnaabeg community with her best friends family. She was one of the lucky ones regularly exposed to her indigenous culture more by luck-of-the draw than by intent on our part or that of the Canadian Government.

I am overjoyed that the courts brought this case to fruition and yesterday, Valentine’s Day 2017 the “Federal government [was] found to have breached its “duty of care” by failing to protect cultural identity of indigenous children removed from their homes”. That we decided to add our voices to this cause, for justice for our adoptive child and all of the children of the Sixties Scoop, as witnesses for the plaintiff might have some small influence on this decision, helps to begin the healing process of right relations between us and our indigenous 10687098_10154816122320118_1482540786689546829_nneighbours and to apologize to our child for our ignorance.

Today, our chosen child is a strong beautiful First Nations woman who has chosen a career path to help other First Nations women of Northwestern Ontario reach their potential as healthy, proud indigenous women. As an aside, I was listening to a piece of music yesterday when a text arrived from a contact at the hearing to say the Judge ruled in favour of the Sixties scoop. The song happened to be Shed a Little Light performed by James Taylor. A prophetic moment indeed.

Help! I’m Drowning in Ads…
January 5, 2016

We went to the movies this week to see the newest release of Star Wars. As movies go it was OK but really was an old story with a new cover and enhanced graphics. I was more affected by the blatent adversiting that occupied the first 20 minutes following the start of the show.

No, I’m not referring to the usual promotional stuff about buying snacks and popcorn or the game to get me to turn off my cell phone or stuff about upcoming movies (previews). Those I expect. They are the enticements to return at some time in the future to see another thriller. I’m referring to the ads for Lexus, and Bell Canada, travel to sunnier locals and the list goes on.

Let me see; 2 seniors, 1 adult and 1 youth went to the theatre that night. With the cost of entrance and snacks we spent $90.00 (huzzah, we didn’t have to pay a babysitter). For that price we paid for the privilege of watching  20 minutes of commercials cleverly hidden amongst previews of upcomng movies prior to the main feature.

Had I wanted the commercials, I might have waited until the movie came out on DVD. Oh, wait! That dosen’t work any longer–DVDs now have advertising at the beginning.

So back to books. So far they don’t have any embedded ads…do they?


Travelling Man
January 5, 2016

It wasn’t until I glanced at to odometer on my new 2015 Ford Edge that I realized  2015 has been a travel year in my life. The car is now just 7 months old and it has already logged 31,000 Km. How can that be? And I know I traveled between January and April as well.

Suffice to say we normally average one trip a month to Thunder Bay (600 Km return) but I’m guessing between January and June the count went up. Cloud chose to finish her last semester of high school in Thunder Bay. That necessitated an occasional trip so Papa could do some special cooking just for her.

We normally average one trip a month to Thunder Bay but January to June saw that number up visiting with churches in the region that were closing or searching for a change of pastoral charge, or for Presbytery committee responsibilities or because I am a pastoral charge supervisor. Church work took us from Hornepayne on the east to Winnipeg (1968 Km round trip) in the west. I think I can name them all: Hornepayne, White River, Manitouwadge, Marathon, Terrace Bay, Schreiber, Nipigon, Thunder Bay, Atikokan, Fort Frances, Ignace, Red Lake, Sioux Lookout, Dryden, Kenora and Winnipeg. In fact four or five trips to Winnipeg made this year almost like 2006 while I served as Conference President. Winnipeg became my second home. Like the circuit riders of another time we plied our worship services from town to town.

Sault Ste. Marie, ON (820 Km round trip) usually sees us two or three times a year. That is time to reconnect with family.  The Sault is where my sister and her family reside. We are closely bonded even though we only see one another a few times a year. This year we made that trip 4 times. Most recently it was to help the Cloud with cleaning up the insurance issues following her car being rear-ended in a traffic incident. That was the car that carried us through the first four months of 2015. It was a magnificent steed and I hoped it would serve our granddaughter at least until after graduation from college. Usually, this trip is to hunker down with Barb and Dave and her children to stay connected. But this year was different!

In March we connected with family in southern Texas instead of the Sault. A business trip with stops along the way to Winnipeg turned into a holiday to New Braunfels (7000 Km round trip). What a wonderful break in the winter. We left deep snows at home and traded winter boots for running shoes at the Manitoba, North Dakota border. Each day was a delight; drive for a few hours then stop and walk for 45 minutes until we reached our destination. I never missed a day in Texas getting my minimum 10 Km walk completed.

At the end of April we bought a new car and broke it in traveling into May and June back in Winnipeg and Thunder Bay a few times. And that was just the first half of the year


Back to Swimming…
August 9, 2013

About mid-February I caught a cold. It wasn’t one of those stick around for a week-or-two then get back to your life type colds. This one caught and stuck and never completely let go of me until May. The most significant impact on my daily routines was that I quit swimming lunch lengths at the local swimming pool. It effectively ended my swim around Lake Superior. Sigh! And I was doing so well!

I started in September 2012, swimming between 5 and 15 Kilometres a week, starting in lake_superior_mapMarathon, ON and swimming clockwise round the lake. It is only 4,387 Km around the Lake. I was steadily swimming 3 Km a day by February. Eight hundred forty kilometres were behind me. Only 3547 Km to go!

Yesterday was my first day back at the swim. I’ve decided to start easy and stick to only 500 m a day (2.5 Km/week)  for the first week. The plan is to get back to 15 Km/week. This is really important because I have to get back into shape. Really good shape!

Cloudia Swim

She is a young woman now but has always loved being underwater.

I’ve made two promises. I promised Cloud, my granddaughter that we would finish her scuba diving training this summer. And I’ve promised another granddaughter, Happy Child, that she, too, will become a scuba diver once she turns 11. This summer is quickly flying by and the Cloud and I haven’t been in the water yet.

Practical diving in Lake Superior ends around the beginning of December. The Lake still has its accumulation of summer heat–not that there has been much in the way of heat this summer. Suffice to say, there is still time. We only need two more dives for her certification.

Happy Child

There are adventures just waiting for her.

Equally important is the promise to Happy Child. I need to stay in shape so that next summer Happy Child and I can do some diving together. She is very interested in searching for an octopus. That’s a year away and my wet suit had best be kept from shrinking over the coming winter. The suit is snug now and needs be a perfect fit by July 2014. She is counting on becoming a Junior scuba diver.

After all, A Promise is a Promise!                                 …GRB

Super Senior…
August 9, 2013

This is one of those milestone years in my life (I suppose that should read kilometrestone since I’m in Canada). I am officially into my 70th year.

My wife went to the local Recreation facility this week to buy new passes for the swimming pool and the attendant told her that I was now a “Super Senior”.

On the surface, that is a good thing, I think. I like the sound of the words “Super Senior”. At least, as it applies to me. It meant that I purchased my pass for significantly less than did my wife. She is younger than I. Her lament is that it isn’t fair that I should pay so little when I use much more water than she. It is a fact that I am larger and take up more space in the pool. And, she noted that I swim farther than does she. There must be more to it than this. I feel like I’m missing something–my own personal parking space near the entry to the pool perhaps.

Super Senior! The connotation  suggests that I can do more than the average senior. I’ve given that considerable thought. Should I now be able to leap tall footstools in a single bound–in my rush to make it to the bathroom in time? Faster than a speeding bullet! Ha! That’s after I pry myself from the confines of the napping chair. Am I now eligible for a prescription for afternoon naps? I’ll be sure to put that on my list of questions for my doctor.

I think I’ll get out the sewing machine and make myself a cape and …


Gettin’ Ready…
January 10, 2012

As usual, we started our first travel day totally unprepared for travel. I’m not entirely certain why that happens; we just never seem  ready.

It reminds me of the Scott Douglas play “Strange Angels”. Kar-ul, the angel, has just smacked Joe in the head–his method of delivering his message to Joe.

“What does it mean?” Joe asks Kar-ul.

“I think it means you’re going to die!” responds Kar-ul.

And Joe responds, “I know I’m going to die. We’re all going to die sometime.”

“You don’t live like you are going to die!” replies Kar-ul.

I’m thinking Joy and I are like Joe; we just never seem ready. Sigh.

We talked about this some after I shared my thought with her and the truth is that we really are ready for whatever comes our way. We are  just reluctant to take the first step into a new adventure much preferring the comfort of the spaces and places we know well. Especially home. We really do like being home with all of our comforts–friends, family, routines. It is the interruptions to our routines that we are never prepared for.

Regardless, we have made the leap again; car to Thunder Bay, visit with Karen, overnight with friends Pat and Jim and skip hop to Abbotsford via Westjet.

One of the things that I have been dreading is the persistent and seemingly constant winter rains of the lower mainland of BC. I find it cold! Bone chilling cold. Sit in a tub of hot water to warm up cold.

Standing on Richard's front steps watching the light on the Golden Ears.

To my surprise and delight our first day dawned bright and sunny, cool but sunny. And we watched the sunlight dance on the top of the Golden Ears.


Cellular revisited…
March 5, 2010

About a year ago I wrote a rant about Cellular service and as I recall decided the best course was to do nothing until my contract time was over. It’s over! It ended in December 2009. I decided to be cell free! I feel … I feel… I feel a sense of freedom! Getting there was fun!

Last spring (2009) I made the discovery that my cell phone was text message capable. That is it had the feature for sending and receiving text messages turned on. The truth is I had no idea that I was the proud owner of such services mostly, I suppose, because I don’t text. As it happened, I was standing in a long line-up in a department store waiting to cash out when my phone rang. Dutifully I opened the phone, brought it to my ear and said hello. There was no answer. I pocketed the phone and continued my wait in line. But the phone was insistent. It rang again! This time I happened to look at the tiny screen as I brought the phone to my ear and it read, “Papa r u coming 2 lunch“. To which I responded out loud, “No!” and hung up the phone. I had no idea how to respond other than saying “No!” out loud. I turned the phone off and put it back into my pocket.

You can only imagine the trouncing I took from my then 12-year-old granddaughter for not answering her message. She was less than impressed when I told her that I did answer her message by saying, “No!” She then proceeded to give me lessons in texting. I watched and listened intently and the very next day went to TbayTel and asked them to disconnect the text feature on the phone. They said they had done so and I left happily knowing that I would never again have to deal with another text message.

The reality is I really don’t want to talk to people on a phone all that much and especially by typing cryptic messages on an undersized keyboard. It all seems pretty inefficient and impersonal to me. I was a happy man.

Fast forward to October. Same year. I’m sitting in sanctuary chatting (face to face, live, warm body type chat) with family. My son was over and we were catching up on his most recent adventures when my cell phone rang. That was unusual in itself because I didn’t often have it turned on. But I digress. The cell phone rang. I opened it up, put it to my ear and said hello. There was no response so I glanced at the screen to see if a number showed that I might recognize. Nope! There was a … you guessed it! … a text message. It read, “…Larry get over here. Melissa is on top of James and I am getting peed off… lol“.

OK. I am certain you will understand my perplexity because 1. I am not Larry; 2. I don’t know Melissa or James; 3. I don’t care what Melissa is on top of, and; MY PHONE DOESN’T SEND OR RECEIVE TEXT MESSAGES! Sorry! I didn’t mean to shout! My son waded into the moment saying that he would respond and did so telling the sender that the message arrived at my phone in error…there was no Larry at this number and signed it, “George”.

I put the phone away and within seconds it rang again displaying the text message, “Who the f@%k  (they wrote the real word) is George?” And again my son texted, “The owner of this phone.” and again I hung up the phone and put it in my pocket.

But the phone was insistent. This time the message read, “Don’t you want to know who this is“. I thought “No.” and put the phone away. It rang again. “Aren’t you curious” I thought “No” and put the phone away. It rang again. “I’m legal” the message read. OK! OK! Too much information. I turned the phone off and determined next business day to call TbayTel and have this feature deactivated once again.

Heh! Heh! You thought the story was over! I called TbayTel and got a very pleasant young sounding male voice on the phone. I explained that I had earlier requested the texting feature be deactivated on my phone and apparently it had not been done. Could he please check and see if that was the case. “Yes” he replied. “You have texting on your phone and it is active.”

“Would you turn that feature off, please.” To which he responded, “But its free and it is part of your package.”

“Yes,” says I. “But I don’t want it.”

“Why?” he queried.

Surely you see where this is heading, don’t you? “Because I don’t text”, I said.

“Why?” he asked again.

“BECAUSE IT IS MY PHONE AND I DON’T WANT TO SEND OR RECEIVE TEXT MESSAGES!” my exasperation breaking through. (Sorry, I know I am shouting again.)

“OK”, he replied. “Its done. Have a great day.”

Now I can’t help but wonder about the conversation that went on in his office after we disconnected. Probably something like this:

Customer Service Employee: (to his colleagues) Hey you guys will never believe the call I just had…some old guy who wanted me to disconnect his texting service…”

The last month of my relationship with my cell phone was blissfully quiet. No texts. No phone calls. Hmmmm? I wonder if it was turned on?                     –GRB

Lenten Journey
February 19, 2010

I’ve decided that my Lenten journey this year will be to read at least one book each week during Lent that will in some way broaden my understanding of my faith. Last night I read the first book of this season.

First the lead in…

I regularly (when I don’t forget my appointments or have them preempted by travel) visit my Massage Therapist. This is a regular part of my wellness routine. It is further enhanced by the fact that my Therapist is also my daughter-in-law.

Not only are her massages beneficial to my sense of well-being but it is also a time when she and I have a chance to talk about the things that are important to us; family, mutual friends, our community and life in general.

During my most recent visit to her clinic, She shared with me the title of a book she had just read and without giving away too much information sufficiently piqued my interest that I asked to borrow the story. Yesterday, she dropped the book and a flower off to “Sanctuary” and I sat down in the late afternoon to begin my read.

The book “have a little faith: a true story” by Mitch Albom ISBN:978-0-7868-6872-8 is more of an eight-year journal that started with Mitch Albom, a journalist, being asked by the Rabbi, from his youth neighbourhood, to “…write his [the Rabbi’s] eulogy.” The author agrees on the condition that he gets to know his teacher better. What started as a two or three-week project lasted eight years and turned into a precious friendship and ultimately the eulogy.

In getting to know his Rabbi, the author questions his own existence and beliefs. In doing so, he champions a Christian Mission in Detroit led by Pastor Henry Covington and learns some valuable lessons about himself, his beliefs and about judging others.

Each reader will take from the stories those gems that are pertinent. While many features of the story reinforced my faith beliefs one quote stands out as significant: “Did you ever hear a sermon that felt as if it were being screamed into you ear alone? When that happens, it usually has more to do with you than the preacher.”

Last night at the Ash Wednesday service, David’s message fit this quote. Part of my lenten journey is to discern what it is that God is calling me to do now.  GB

Just fiddling around…
May 7, 2009

Foot stomping, toe tapping, hand clapping music filled the air last night. The Scott Woods Band ( was in town and performed a grand concert that took me back to my years of listening to the raido on Sarurday or Sunday nights to listen to Grand Old Opry and Don Messer and the Islanders. Check out his web site and if you live in central and western Canada, keep an eye on your local newspaper. An eveing of Old-time Country and Fiddle Music live may be what the doctor ordered. This family band is well worth your attention.      Geob

Trundling along following a brief absence …
October 2, 2008

I know! I know! I have not written for the past month. It is not that I have had nothing to write about; there have been other things that have taken time from my life. As I age I am finding that while my computer is marvellous at multi-tasking, I am not. I seem to be much more comfortable dealing with one thing to completion and then go on to the next.

In among the occasional rant about elections, I continue to work with Joy (there is that pun again) on the house. When the weather is good we work outside. We have done considerable inside work this past September. The decision was made to renew–to refresh the appearance of the back bedroom. That is what we call the spare bedroom in our home. Sometimes it is referred to as Cloudia’s room or Ken’s room. They are the two people who most often occupy the space. And Cloud’s toys are the main feature of the space.

Changing the decor was spurred on by the loaning out of the double bed that has occupied the room for many years. Joy had a vision that included changing the paint, cleaning the carpet, painting the ceiling and the trim. (As an aside, I learned that one should always paint the ceiling first, then the walls and the trim.) Her picture of the space inclucded replacing the double bed with a trundle bed. And that proved to be the big challenge for the month and took three trips to Sault Ste. Marie to bring it to completion.

Trundle beds do not seem to be a common item in Canada. That is perhaps a bit harsh. Suffice to say that trundle beds are not common in Northwestern Ontario. We went to most of the furniture stores in Sault Ste. Marie only to find that many had heard of them but few or none on display. We wanted a trundle that when pulled out from under a single bed would rise up to the same height as the single. Magic! A surprise double bed! NOT! Mostly what we heard from suppliers is, “We have to order one in and we don’t know if the two mattresses line up at the same height to make a double bed.”

People in Upper Michigan must think about spare rooms in the same manner as we. A trip across the

border into the States solved the dilemma. We found a wonderful furniture store named Shunk’s that not only had a variety  of trundle beds on display but provided exemplary service without any pressure or sales pitch. They demonstrated all of the options and then left us alone to make a decision. We did! We bought! They delivered across the border to Sault Ste. Marie, ON, met us at the border crossing to clear customs and had we been home, would have set the bed up for us.

The room is now finished. All that remains is to let Cloudia and Ken know that their room is once again ready for occupancy. With any luck that will mean a sleep over with our granddaughter soon and a visit from our friend Ken in the forseeable future.  Life is good. On to the next…        GRB