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

30 March, 2010


Okay you long-in-the-tooth sports buffs, do you remember Cassius Clay, Sandy Koufax and Carl Brewer when they were in their prime?

Just for the heck of it today, check out my newest blog site "Time Out for Sports" to take a stroll down memory lane and relive a few of those old sports memories... see 

By degrees I plan to expand Time Out for Sports by adding a selection of columns (typos and all) that I pounded out on a trusty Underwood hand bomber when I was Sports Editor at the St. Thomas Times-Journal and Simcoe Reformer, 1962-'67.

Oh yeah, the name of my column in those days just happened to be "Time Out for Sports" 

Old sports writers never die...they just recycle their columns!

28 March, 2010


I write today about a subject in which I have become all too well versed.

My multiple purpose thesis is that out of devastation comes rehabilitation, out of despair comes joy, out of hopelessness comes hope...and out of faith comes miracles.

It was only four weeks ago that Rosanne was rushed into the intensive care unit at the Owen Sound Hospital.  We did not know it at the time but she was literally drawing what could have been her last breath.

She had been house-bound for more than a year, was unable to walk more than a few painful steps at a time and as her weight ballooned to a morbidly obese 407 pounds that we could really not account for, had given up all hope of ever getting better.

"I just cannot breathe," she would complain.  A chronic sleep apnea sufferer, she would sit up most of the night gasping for air, sometimes toppling off onto the floor when lapsing into a temporary exhaustive unconsciousness.  In lieu of the ability to visit our family doctor, I purchased over-the-counter medications to help with her breathing, bought expensive air purifiers for virtually every room in the house and religiously changed the furnace filter on a monthly basis, all to little avail.  We were both becoming miserable creatures, doing our best to simply get through each day, feeling very defeated in every aspect of our life.  We were slipping into a depressive state with the knowledge that we were running out of self-survival options. In the end, Rosanne just did not want to talk about it any more...So for the most part we did not.

For more than three years people had been asking "how is Rosanne doing?"  As with my late wife Anne, I hated to meet people because I knew that dreaded question would be forthcoming.  Sometimes I would go into detail and watch my questioner's eyes gloss over; more often than not, however, I would resort to the stock "Oh, about the same".  Either way, I knew people did not understand.

Hanging on for dear life and on the verge of losing it at any given moment, I finally and desperately took matters into my own hands in order to get Rosanne the help that she so badly needed.  Knowing that there was no way I could get her out of the house, into the car, and up the street a mere 300 yards to the doctor's clinic, I picked up the phone and asked for an appointment under the guise that she had several prescriptions that needed filling as soon as possible.  Truth be known, she was actually  on the verge of depleting one prescription in particular, a special cream for her chronic venous leg ulcers.  The doctor's secretary did me a favour by "squeezing" in an appointment "at the soonest" with a mere 34-day waiting period.  Rosanne ran out of her leg medication the following week and cellulitis infection eventually set in just to complicate matters even more.

The month-long wait for the appointment seemed like a lifetime and I attended as planned in Rosanne's stead, wasting no time in spewing out the details of her sad state of health.  "I am totally shocked.  I had no idea," said our young female doctor on the verge of tears.  "What do you want me to do?"  We mutually agreed that Rosanne would be taken to emergency at the Southampton Hospital by ambulance the very next morning with the ultimate objective of having her admitted for observation and testing.

Rosanne was immediately given oxygen for her breathing at the hospital the next morning and it was soon determined that she should be rushed to the Intensive Care Unit at Owen Sound where they were better equipped to deal with someone in her condition.  "You should know Dick that your wife is a very sick lady and I am extremely concerned about her weakened condition and ability to withstand necessary treatment," stated our doctor, suddenly pale and speaking in a hushed tone.  "It will be touch and go for a while.  Her situation is really quite grave," she added.

I heard those same words ("your wife is a very sick lady") at least a half dozen times again in Owen Sound.  I got the impression that doctors and nurses were speaking from the same script in an effort to prepare me for what was in store. 

Rosanne was a priority patient in ICU and given every test and exam imaginable.  She was placed on an intravenous antibiotic infusion and visited by an impressive steady stream of health care specialists.  The next few days were a blur for me as I kept Highway 21 between Southampton and Owen Sound red hot.  Having been in a similar position before, I would go to sleep at nights with my mind in a state of numbness, yet knowing that I had some proactive thinking to do in the event of the worst.  I seemed to be on auto-pilot, going through motions.

On the fourth day of her hospital stay, l began to see changes in Rosanne, subtle little changes that only a husband could see.  It took several more days for doctors and nurses to pick up on the fact that there was an obvious turnaround in her condition. Her attitude was changing, she was more alert and her personality significantly brighter.  Her physiotherapist began preparing her to take her first steps out of bed, setting a goal for her on Day One of about 15 feet by pointing to a poster on the wall.  "No, I'm going further than that," Rosanne insisted.  "I'm going to the corner down there (a good 15 feet beyond the poster)." 

She had to pause a few times with her walker and she was winded, but to "the corner down there" she went. And she hasn't stopped since. "You are amazing.  I'm so impressed," enthused physiotherapist Tracy.

Rosanne has been home now for two weeks and she continues to show improvement each day, much to the surprise and delight of her home-care team.  Her IV was removed from her hand on Friday, marking the end of daily visits by home-care nurses.  She remains on oxygen for the long-term and has been given a temporary mask system to aid with her breathing while sleeping until an overnight sleep study early in April.

She can now walk to any room in the house and I have had her out for rides in the car (and stops at Tim Horton's drive-thru) for the first time in over a year.  She is enjoying every mouthful of a restricted, portion controlled diet.  The sparkle has returned to her eyes and colour to her cheeks.  She is optimistic and determined.  Her sense of humour is back, even with a few of her famous "Rosanneisms" thrown in.  She lost 10 pounds while in hospital and she has dropped another 10 since she came home to my cooking. Her breathing is expected to improve gradually as she loses more weight.

Rosanne's tests for diabetes came back negative, much to our surprise.  Her heart and lungs are 100 per cent and her blood pressure tested normal on Friday afternoon. A suspect clot in her lungs dissipated, thanks to blood thinners and antibiotics.  The severe cellulitis in her legs has cleared up amazingly.  With the aid of oxygen, her breathing is no longer laboured and forced.  She is sleeping for four and five-hour periods at a time without interruption.  All to be celebrated.

"It is just so wonderful.  I've been given a new life.  I am so happy," she has repeated numerous times.  "I didn't know what to do for myself before, but it's all different now and I'm going to make up for lost time."

It has been a long time since I have seen her so upbeat and positive.  I don't know when I have been so proud of her.

Watching her take a renewed interest in reading, her surroundings, her appearance, methodically doing her exercises from the hospital bed set up in our dining room, attempting to help me in the kitchen and doing things for herself that she hasn't done in ages, has had a positive impact on me as well.  I feel like I have been given a new life too.  I have my wife back.  We have a future again...I am thankful. A weight has been lifted.  I believe in miracles!

I looked in the mirror earlier today and I also saw a sparkle in my own eyes that had been missing in recent months.  I then stepped on the bathroom scales and, would you believe it, I too have lost 20 pounds on Rosanne's new diet.  What a bonus! 

We've both climbed, scratched and clawed our way back from an all-time low period in our lives.  We've done pretty darn well, if I do say so myself. 

I refer you, once again, to my previously stated thesis.


I think that it is only human nature that we talk a lot about the times -- current times as opposed to times past.  In so doing, we moralize a lot and mend little.  It seems to be a kind of privilege, charter and birthright among older folk in particular to praise past times and deplore the present.

There is no question that great changes take place from the season of youth to that of grey hair.  In my own 70-plus years the pulling down of old houses and buildings and the erection of new ones; the death of several generations and the birth of new ones; the alterations in customs and fashions; the changes in the opinions of society; modes of travel; the exploration of outer space; the colossal growth of science and technology, have greatly altered the world in which we live.

We used to take matters quietly and quite in stride.  We functioned at a more leisurely pace than is the case in today's hustle and bustle world.  Everything has grown by leaps and bounds and continues to do so.  We generally agree that "things are crazy today" and "it's a new world out there."

But while times, manners, customs, opinions and lifestyles are changing, we older folk should be aware that we are changing too.  Our limbs used to be more flexible and our brows less wrinkled.  Energy wanes and grey hair tells a tale to which we ought to listen.  Sadly, we have passed through more years than the number that lay ahead of us and for that reason I think we should be thinking less of times past and more about times to come.  And that's a mouthful for a nostalgia buff like me who has spent a lot of time living in, and thinking about, the past.

Maybe, just maybe, amid the alterations of the times and the sundry and manifold changes of the world, we seniors of today should spend less time singing the praises of the past and instead look to a higher spiritual power that has never changed  over the course of centuries, and never will.  I think you know what I am talking about.

We can supplement times today by reaching back and bringing forward the simple faith that existed in the wonderful times past, thereby assuring true joy in the ever-changing times ahead!

27 March, 2010


"Neighbour", said Old Humphrey to one of his rural friends on an early Spring afternoon, "You have splashed some mud on your trousers.  You should be more careful and watch where you are walking this time of year." 

The neighbour civilly thanked Old Humph for his advice and then added that as he had scrutinized his pant legs so closely, it would do no harm to take a glance at his own.  Sure enough, looking down Humphrey realized that  he too had encountered some mud and the evidence was still quite obvious on the cuffs of his trousers.

"How I picked up that mud, I do not know, but as it turned out I was in no position to be giving such harsh advice to my friend," Humphrey was later to admit in retelling his story.  "I resolved that day to give a sharp look out for my own imperfections, before I ventured to rebuke those of another."

If it were only half as easy to amend ourselves, as to reprove others; and if in giving advice we could secure the benefit we are so intent at times on offering, wouldn't we all be so much better off?

Thanks again, Old Humphrey!

"O would some power the gift give us,
To see ourselves as others see us..."
-- Robert Burns

25 March, 2010


I am perplexed, maybe even slightly tortured by a dream that I had last night.  Generally I do not take dreams seriously, but this one has left me emotionally drained and searching for answers.

In my dream Rosanne and I were enjoying a nice evening of dining out when, just as our food was being served, the ring of a cell phone at my elbow disrupted the tranquil setting.  "I just wanted to hear from you and to know that you are alright," said the familiar voice of my late wife Anne (1940-2000).  "You'll be coming home soon I hope!"  The words piercing through my ears down to my gut.
"Yes, I'm okay and I'll be there soon," I heard myself saying in response before hanging up.

Turning to Rosanne in shock, I explained that it was Anne calling and that she wanted me to "come home" and  I felt a responsibility to go.  "How did she know that I was here and how did she get this number?" I asked of an equally surprised Rosanne.  "What am I going to do now?"

I am not sure of exactly what Rosanne said in reply but I think that it was something to the effect that I had a decision to make
Glancing up, lo and behold, there was Anne standing in the doorway with a knowing look on her face that I well remembered from our 40-year marriage.  "Oh my God, she's come after me," I cried.
I was nauseous and trembling as I awoke to the dark reality of my surroundings, reluctant to even lift my head from the warmth of the pillow it was buried in.

As I write this piece now, I struggle to resist the urge to interpret that particular dream.  I fight a losing battle, at the same time not really sure if I want to know the significance of it, there being several possible scenarios.

Perhaps it is coincidental that death has been on my mind a lot these past couple of days.  Several former friends and acquaintances have passed away in addition to two very close relatives, one a mother (84) and the other her son (60), just weeks apart.
Death, while inevitable, always has its sting.  There is so much that is unknown about it...So much that we will never know.  All we really know is that we miss our loved ones when they die.  We do not know what it is like to be dead and when someone dies and loses life consciousness, do they really know that they have died or what it is like to be dead?   Numerous theories exist on this subject.

Dreams too are a mystery -- and very personal.  Perhaps they reflect suppressed feelings or anxiety...I don't know.  Maybe I should not take all of this so seriously.  Maybe I'm just going through a rough patch and this too shall pass.  After all, I'm still alive and doing my absolute best to keep myself and Rosanne that way, just as I had done previously for Anne.  I have also dealt with, rationalized and compartmentalized my past, or at least think that I have.
I can't help but wonder though...what awaits in the next life.  What, if anything!?
'Til my next post, hopefully!


Don't mind me if I work my way through a few personal thoughts on my writing.

I am sure that readers of my work on this site, and my two recent books, frequently ask themselves "where in the world does some of this stuff come from?"  I have been known to ask that question myself.

Truth be known, many times I am my own amanuensis, never writing more than I myself am.  Sometimes I even go so far as to expose myself in ways that may be questionable.  My underlying precept, however, is to look into my own heart and write.  Be true.  Fearless.  Loyal to the promptings of my own soul.  I like also to tell other people's stories with as much feeling and humanness as possible, placing myself into my subjects' shoes as I write.

If I insert personal purpose, spirit and a degree of inspiration into my stories, I hope that a certain indefinable something flows from the lines enabling the reader to likewise feel those same inspirations.  I would also hope that what's written between the lines is many times more than what's written in them.

Because I dash off many of my Wrights Lane postings on a whim late at night, I know that they are not always the epitome of literary excellence.  My hope is only that I occasionally reach the hearts of readers, giving them something of value and enrichment, even dare I suggest, entertainment.

We derive satisfaction in many different ways.  My satisfaction is giving in to the impulse to share my feelings by means of the written word on the outside chance that someone else may relate.

Strangely enough, much of what I write I could never come close to articulating orally.  I'm kind of funny that way!   

23 March, 2010


The three Kent County boys we have been following in American college baseball have been putting up a pretty good accounting of themselves.
Larry Balkwill, 18, of Chatham put together four multi-hit games as the Siena College Saints went undefeated last week with wins over Holy Cross and New York Tech.  A freshman, Larry caught all four games (one a 13-inning affair) and emerged as a candidate for MAAC Rookie of the Week honors.  He currently leads Siena with a .390 batting average and is tied for the team lead with eight doubles.  He also has 23 hits, 14 runs scored and 10 RBIs.

The sophomore Cook twins of Dresden have also been prominent in spring season opening games with Indian Hills Community College Falcons.  The Falcons won six of seven games on a trip to Arizona last week.  In his second start of the young season, Matt Cook (blow, left) allowed only four hits in six innings of work, handing Gateway CC a 5-1 drubbing.  He has also been swinging a hot bat for Indian Hills from the first base position that he plays when not pitching.

Brother Justin (right)started the Falcons' season opener and allowed only three hits and two runs in a one-sided 13-5 win over Williston State (N.D.).  Justin is also a versatile third baseman.

Good going guys, but all uncle Jarvis (Cook) and I can say is: "We were born 60 years too soon!"

21 March, 2010


A little boy with penetrating eyes and furrowed brow asks "why do you so often forget about me, leaving me alone with feelings of doubt and with so many questions, so desperately at times needing something as simple as an embrace?

"We started out, you and I, so innocent and full of dreams.  We wanted the same things -- happiness, achievement, success, love.  We even thought, naively perhaps, that we would explore the world together. But you went off on your own, so anxious to leave me behind, so much in a hurry to grow up.

"And grow up you did!  You were not always orthodox in your approach to life but somehow you managed to do a few things that actually made me feel proud of you.  On balance however, you disappointed me because you so often forgot to be true to what we started out to be.  You were careless, ill-advised, short-sighted and yes, even selfish more times than I care to count.  Your ego often got the best of you and you pretended to be what you were not.  You could have accomplished much more in life had you not been so wasteful of God-given potential, had you not given in to weakness by taking the easy way out of difficult situations. 
"You needed the innocence, trust and compassion that we once shared.  Instead you left me behind...You thought that you were through with me...You forgot and I never fully understood why. 

"Now you are left to live with what you have been and with what you have become, for better or worse.  In the time given us, I plead with you now to please bring me back into your life?  You have changed, but I have not.  We can once again be a happy blend of each other --  me that kid who relies on you to do what is in our best interests, and you the man who is still capable if only he remembers.  I know that you've got it in you.

"You need me now more than ever-- just as I have always needed you."

I hear you loud and clear, little guy.  You have moved me beyond belief and all I can ask is "what took you so long to break your silence and to open my eyes?"  Have I been that blind that I could not see?

Rest assured I will never again forget you...I will never again let down either one of us. I am so sorry!  Thank you for staying 'within' me and for being my conscience.  Let's cling to each other and make up for accumulated hurt over the years, then carry on hand-in-hand until we are no more.

I almost lost you, but I feel a new oneness with you now.  My arms enfold you, my child, my self.

18 March, 2010


Speaking as I was the other day about my love for the first flower of Spring, well here it is -- the hearty and faithful little early-arriving Crocus, presenting itself as I stepped off the back porch this morning.  And it isn't even Spring!

"I'm as restless as a willow in a windstorm,
I'm as jumpy as a puppet on a string,
I'd say that I had Spring fever,
But I know it isn't Spring."

(From song by Rogers and Hammerstein, "It might as well be Spring.")

14 March, 2010


  • MY HOME.


We were casually finishing up our coffee and toast this morning when Rosanne's nurse came in at what we thought was 10 o'clock.

"Having an early lunch?" she asked.

"No", I replied.  "Just breakfast...It takes us a while to get going some mornings."

"Well you never know what with daylight saving time and all," the nurse was quick to answer.

"Daylight saving time?" Rosanne interjected with surprise.  "Nobody told us!" 

Good to see that our gal Rosie is back to her old self. 

12 March, 2010


I am very happy to report that we brought Rosanne home from hospital in Owen Sound last night after a two-week stay in the intensive care unit.  She remains a "very sick lady" (words of attending doctors)  but she has made wonderful progress and has adopted an extremely positive attitude which is personally encouraging.  With love, support and understanding, she will make it!  We have a wonderful team of home-care specialists to look after her.  After spending 12 hours on an air-filled gurney pad in the emergency department of Southampton hospital two weeks ago, Rosanne told an EM nurse: "The only reason I'm agreeing to a transfer to Owen Sound is to get a decent bed to sleep in."

Glad to hear that old Dresden chum Lynn Martin is progressing nicely after a very serious heart attack.

Those who attended Lambton-Kent District High School in the early 1950s will be saddened to learn of the passing of Charles Cajka in Ottawa General Hospital this week after a lengthy struggle with cancer.   Charlie was 74 years of age.  He was a graduate of the University of Western Ontario and was an exploration geologist and mineral economist.  Upon retirement,  he operated a heating and cooling business.  His sister Mary predeceased him.

06 March, 2010


Just a note on Rosanne by means of update.  She has done exceedingly well this week, thanks to a very dedicated collection of doctors, nurses, technicians, therapists and counsellors in the ICU unit at Owen Sound Hospital who have dubbed themselves "Rosie's Team".  She is responding to treatment and the long-range goal is now to get her well enough by the end of the month to qualify for the Grey-Bruce home care program.  She has come a long way and still has a way to go, but she is determined to make it.  We have some lifestyle adjustments to make in the next few months and a lot to be thankful for.

02 March, 2010


  ..Just a brief note to Wrights Lane visitors asking that you keep my wife Rosanne in your prayers over the course of the next few days.  Rosanne was transferred from hospital in Southampton today to Owen Sound Hospital were she is a patient in the intensive care unit.  It has been a tense 48 hours of testing and treatment to stabilize a respiratory problem that has been difficult for doctors to pinpoint in her lungs.  Every effort is being made to keep her as comfortable as possible with special acknowledgement to attending physicians, nurses, ambulance attendants, Saugeen Shores police and fire departments.  It may be a few days before my next post on this site.