Sharing with you things that are on my mind...Maybe yours too. Come back to Wrights Lane for a visit anytime!

24 September, 2009

YOUTHFUL POETS AND ACCOUNTABILITY

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Listen up old Dresden school chums!
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Do the names Bob Peters, Betty Wilmott, Alan Pegg, Donna Latimer, Sandra Cobbum, Sheila Raymond, Anne Stevens, Tiny Santing, Martha Deacon, Jack Skinner and Larry Gray mean anything to you? 
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Well, for one thing, the above-mentioned were all budding poets some 55 years ago.  To the best of my knowledge their creative efforts were only ever published once and in my ongoing preoccupation with nostalgia I have stumbled on them.
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For the next couple of weeks, starting Sept. 25, I will bring back to life some surprising scholarly renderings that are sure to spark fond memories for certain readers of Wrights Lane.  It should be fun!  The devil is making me do it.
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WE ALL HAVE 24-7 ACCOUNTABILITY
On an unrelated subject of "self-fulfillment", an interesting question was posed recently.
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"If you were to be followed by a camera crew 24 hours a day, seven days a week for the next 100 days, how would you conduct yourself?"
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Human nature being what it is, three things would undoubtedly happen.
...1) You would START doing things you say you should.
...2) You would STOP doing things you know you shouldn't.
...3) You would MAKE performance gains and change your life.
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This would all become "reality" through a self-imposed discipline of accountability which forces us to understand all unfinished goals, projects and relationships, and that's a good thing.  Accountability facilitates good character, credibility and lends itself to accomplishment in our lives.
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But in all of this, we often fail to realize that we do have 24-7 surveillance and it is not in the form of a camera crew artificially making us perfect the way we live...It is in the form of our Heavenly Creator who has laid out for us the only perfect blueprint for living. 
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It is every bit as important to know WHO we are accountable to as it is to know WHAT we are accountable for.

23 September, 2009


Photographs and paintings speak to us.  There is a story behind every one of them.  A number of years ago I painted a picture of my two daughters, Debbie and Cindy, splashing along the Lake Erie shoreline.  The water colour painting (above) was created from a black and white photograph that I had taken when the girls were about three and six years of age.  The photograph and the painting never fail to stir up emotions within me.  Now I have a new photograph that adds to those emotions and prompts me to ask: "Where did the years go?"  The new photo (below) was taken by my son-in-law Joe Rocha who just happened to catch his wife Cindy (the chubby toddler to the right in my painting), hand-in-hand with daughter Madison, 4, as they tested the water at Niagara-on-the-Lake recently.  There is a remarkable similarity here that only a parent and a grand parent can fully appreciate.

21 September, 2009

NEW SITE HONOURS DR. JACK RUTTLE


I am privileged and honoured to introduce a new site, "A Tribute to Doc Ruttle", as part of my ever-growing Dresden: Father and Son Turn Back the Clock web site.  This new feature is highlighted by a letter written to the University of Western Ontario Alumni Gazette in 1978 by Dr. Jack Ruttle a short time before bravely succumbing to a long struggle with cancer.  The letter summarizes Dr. Ruttle's 44-year career and is warm and informative.  It paints a picture of the life of a small town doctor during the period 1930 to 1974.  Dr. Ruttle was the father of my good friend Jim Ruttle for whom I created the site.  To view this tribute click http://atributetodocruttle.blogspot.com/

19 September, 2009

THAT WAS YESTERDAY, THIS IS TODAY...

The more I indulge in nostalgia, the more I have evidence that to varying degrees we all yearn for a sense of belonging.  For many of us, that longing is fulfilled by exploring our past and the role that family members and others have played in it.
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I have also noticed that people reflect on experiences of the past in two ways -- with  fondness or cynicism. The one is a positive way to look at situations and people while the other is a negative way to remember them.

I actually know people who seem to enjoy dwelling on negativity of the past -- little remembrances that cast aspersions. While it is most certainly a personality thing, I have never understood the mindset.  This particular trait is no doubt the result of a self-indulgent need to suppress personal insecurities by placing oneself in a superior, looking-down-the-nose position, which quite frankly annoys me.

There is no denying that there is negativity in the past, just as there is in the present.  People have done, and still do, funny odd things.  People had different degrees of intelligence in the past, just as they do today.  But, God bless them, they do not deserve to be desecrated in flippant reflections of years gone by. However, 'nuff said on that unpleasant subject.  Glad it's off my chest.
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As we get older we learn to be less affected by negative memories in order to maintain our sense of well being and I think that is a good thing -- a form of mellowing, if you will.  Heaven help me in particular if there is a hint of dementia here, however...Those things only happen to other people.  Right?  
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I tend to adopt the "that was yesterday, this is today" philosophy for the most part.  I find it healthier to let go of, rationalizing if necessary, the negative memories and to nurture the happier complimentary ones.  Albert Einstein was perhaps of the same mind when he uttered his famous quote: "There are two ways to live:  You can live as if nothing is a miracle; (or) you can live as if everything is a miracle."
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For me, life is a miracle.  Past or present, everything is to be celebrated.

16 September, 2009

FIRST DAY AT SCHOOL



Granddaughter Madison, 4, (right) hugs her "bestest" friend on their first day of school last week.  God bless them, guide them and protect them.  Life will never be the same.  Virtual babies today, big girls tomorrow. The world is their oyster.  Photo by Mom

15 September, 2009

KATHERINE IS TO "BLAME" FOR ME

Countless stories and reminiscences were exchanged at my book signing in Dresden on Saturday.  One of the best was provided by Katherine (McKay) Concannon.
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Katherine prefaced her story by saying that she was "responsible for my being born."  When someone makes a pronouncement of that kind you tend to sit up and take notice.
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Katherine's mother and father and my parents were good friends.  As she tells it, the McKay's visited my folks' home one evening, bringing along their recently-born little bundle of joy.  "The Wrights did not have a baby at the time and my mother laid me on their bed to bring them luck....Almost nine months to the day, Dick was born," Katherine stated with an impish smile of accomplishment on her face.  
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I know the long-forgotten story to be true because I remember my mother mentioning it to me at one point.  My mom and dad were childless for about five years before the old lay the baby on the bed trick worked its magic.
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Thank you for the story Katherine -- and for the role you played in my being born.

13 September, 2009

WE'RE NOT OLDER, WE'RE BETTER!


Special thanks to Wanda Pellerin for providing these photos and for her assistance in organizing Saturday's book signing.

BOOK SIGNING TURNOUT WAS GRATIFYING

This is the morning after a very long and wonderfully fulfilling day before and I am still basking in the marvel of it all.
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My book signing in Dresden was a huge success --beyond my fondest expectations.  In total, I signed 77 books in about 90 minutes time and the amazing thing is that I did not suffer the writing cramps that I had expected.  I am left with mixed feelings of joy and humility that so many people from my era in Dresden showed up for the event, many coming early and staying on just to chat.  At the same time I am just a little sad that I was not able to spend more time with each one individually and to say the things that one always seems to think of after the fact.
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In all sincerity, I love you all.  I would never have been so bold, or moved, to say that 55-60 years ago.
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There are those who maintain that you can never go back, but when you can turn back the clock and experience the emotions of yesteryear with fondness and respect and from the perspective of maturity, it is truly something special to take with you always.
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Contributing to the significance of the occasion were the friends I had never  met before who simply had an interest in things nostalgic and were interested in reading about my  memories of the period when I grew up in their town.  Having my eldest daughter, her partner and two grand daughters there to share the day with me, was also significant.  Heck, even the local media showed up.
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How lucky can one guy get?

My family, Alyssa, Darrell, Becky and Debbie enjoyed meeting Dresden friends. 

08 September, 2009

YOU CAN TAKE THE BOY OUT OF THE TOWN

...but you can't take the town out of the boy!
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The following is a story I wish I had remembered to include in my book, Dresden Life Remembered.  I get annoyed at myself when these types of items surface after the fact, but such is life in the world of someone with a memory like mine.
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THE MARTIN BOYS, Terry, Gerald, Lynn, Dennis and Arthur, were frequent visitors to the home of their grandparents who lived across the street from the Wrights on Sydenham Street in Dresden.  I played with Terry, Gerald and Lynn whenever they visited (Dennis and Arthur were latecomers to the family).
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One summer I was invited to attend a "threshing bee" at the Martin farm near Turnerville, about eight miles from Dresden.  Life on the farm was totally new to me and I was at first like a fish out of water.  For instance, how was I to know that a strange looking length of barbed wire that I unsuccessfully tried to circumvent, was actually an electric fence surrounding the cattle yard.  And no one thought to warn me about the hazards of disturbuting a hornets nest.


In my first 10 minutes at the farm I was sitting in Mrs. (Grace) Martin's kitchen cum emergency ward.  "You're really learning about the farm the hard way, aren't you Dick?" she chuckled as she dabbed a mixture of "laundry bluing" on the multiple hornet sting welts on my chest and arms.  "You're mother is going to think that you've been through the Boer War," she added as she removed the cap from a bottle of iodine which was destined for the scratches on my legs from the barbed wire.  One thing about the jolt of electricity that I received when I gripped the wire, was that it temporarily made me forget about the hornet stings. 


With the bluing and iodine working their wonder, I was soon joining the others on wagons in the field and actually sitting on the threshing machine itself, directing the shoot that fed grain into the barn.  A big deal for "a kid from town".


The thing that impressed me most about that day was the fact that a group of farmers from the area congregated at the Martin farm at sunrise to help with the threshing operation.  I was equally amazed at the virtual feast prepared by Mrs. Martin and several neighbour ladies for the hungry workers at noon -- roast beef, mashed potatoes, gravy, vegetables, all served in large help-yourself bowls, and the biggest slices of pie that I had ever seen.


The Martins' father, Jack, was a salt-of-the-earth kind of guy with a ruddy complexion and perpetual smile.  He was right up there on the father meter with my dad, Ken.  Of Irish heritage, Jack was a true sportsman in every sense of the word.  He loved soccer and was a pretty fair hockey goalie in his day, which explains his sons' subsequent lifetime involvement in community sports.  Father and several sons, in fact, are included in the Dresden Sports Hall of Fame.  Grandchildren carry on the sports legacy.

Always at home on the ice, the Martins formed a hockey team which took part in a number of games for charity.  From the left, Terry, Lynn, Jack, Dennis, Gerry; goaltender Arthur is kneeling in front.
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Jack was also instrumental in starting up a baseball team in Turnerville that would eventually see all five of his sons in the lineup.  One summer Dresden Midgets made the jaunt to Turnerville to take on the local nine in an exhibition game.  In lieu of a warm body to do the umpiring, good old Jack took on that job too.  I was the pitcher for Dresden in that game and at one point had occasion to dispute one of Jack's calls at the plate.
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"Oh, come on Dickie!" Jack responded, looking me squarely in the eye.  Something in the tone of his voice, and the almost disappointed look on his face, made me feel bad for having questioned his arbitrative judgement.  He had that way about him.
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Just a few more memories that linger in the mind of a kid from town.
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Special appreciation to Lynn Martin for providing the photo of his family's hockey team and another wonderful picture of his mom and dad on the occasion of their 50th wedding anniversary some years ago.

04 September, 2009

NO LOVE LIKE ENDURING LOVE

Where would we be without love to balance the scales of life? Think about that for a moment. Quite frankly, we would all go to hell in a hand basket.
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When we ignore or are indifferent to the needs of others, for instance, our hearts grow cold over time. Stone cold hearts lead to war and crime --inhumanity toward man. Bitterness. Those of us who were Boy Scouts and Girl Guides well remember the Promise that we repeated so many times in our youth: "...do a good turn for someone everyday." Thought guru Zig Ziggler gives it his twist: "Do something everyday for someone else that they could not do for themselves."
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When we capitalize on the everyday opportunities to express love to each other we cultivate a love that will endure, a love that will stand the test of time. Love that is an emotion only will never stand that test of time, as evidence marital relationships that turn sour because the partners lose sight of the need to nurture each other over the long haul. (1 John 3:18)
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In our lives today the pressures we face can, in themselves, wear us down. It is easy to start strong in our relationships but it takes strength, resolve and effort to counter the tendency to simply give up.
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We all, every one of us, need love. We cannot survive without it. When we capitalize on the little everyday opportunities to demonstrate love to each other, we cultivate a love that will endure -- a love that will "stand the test of time." We are talking here about love that is tangible, love that can be seen and felt. Love transformed into action.
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Others count on us, just as we count on them. We receive love by giving it!
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Love discarded is a tragic waste. Love kept alive is a blessing.
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For some reason I felt the impulse to offer that reinforcement today.