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

29 August, 2010


We are such smug human beings when it comes to humane pretenses yet we live in a world rife with man's inhumanity to man.  Sadly, inhumanity is very much alive in the Global Village -- always has been and unfortunately always will be as one generation passes to the next.

Interestingly, the phrase "man's inhumanity to man" is first documented in a poem written by Robert Burns in 1784. According to some sources it is possible that Burns reworded a similar quote from Samuel von Pufendorf who in 1673 wrote, "More inhumanity has been done by man himself than any other of nature's causes."

Last month we listened and read with horror the reports coming out of a hearing into the abuse suffered by First Nations children in residential schools operated by numerous church organizations in Canada.  Just yesterday Allan Thompson wrote a piece in the Toronto Star about his father who was among tens of thousands of children from Britain who were unceremoniously shipped to Canada a century ago through a barbaric child labour scheme.  My late wife's grandmother was in fact one of the "Home Children" included in the dreadful and poorly supervised migration movement at the beginning of the last century.

Today, too, we continue to live with the stigma of racial discrimination of all kinds.  Terrorism 
rears its ugly head all over the world and is a constant threat even in this peace-loving land of ours.

Almost daily we hear about hostage-taking incidents where individuals are held captive, brainwashed and tortured over a long period of time.  The motivation very often is dominance or vengeance-based, sexual, or simply the work of a deranged mind.

It is not a stretch to suggest that over the centuries, nothing has caused more pain and suffering for mankind than man himself. Through war, hate crimes, and random acts of violence, the fear of the different and unknown has presented itself in human nature. The novel Night, the movie Schindler’s List and the article A Tortured Legacy are all examples of this. Through the suffering of the Jews at the hands of the Germans, there is no clearer example of man’s inhumanity to man. The holocaust was far more than a tragedy; it is something you simply cannot describe with words. The sheer evil and hate that took place in the 1940’s really exemplifies what man can be like when he’s at his weakest and lowest point of existence. Through the merciless slaughtering and torturing of the Jewish people, the Germans showed to the whole world what it’s like to be inhuman; to be animalistic.

Wars in particular expose man's ultimate inhumanity to man. Wars are an innate but absolute part of human nature. Often fought by religious factions, wars reflect man's basest instincts, untamed by rationality.

We frequently hear the question asked:  "Why does God allow these things to happen?"  Well, I've got news!  God may have created humanity, but He did not create inhumanity any more than He can control it.  Generally speaking, inhumanity is a condition of a misguided human heart that more often than not, beats within an otherwise well-intended but ignorant body.  We pay lip service to a humane society yet we stoop to being blindly inhumane when it suits certain perceived needs.

Man's inhumanity to man is the price we all pay for being short-sighted and agenda-driven by nature.  And we continually have to make apologies while going back to clean up the mess that has been left behind.  Makes you think, does it not?

We share the shame!

27 August, 2010


I don't know if anyone is interested or even cares, but since I made an issue of it in my last post (see item below), I cannot contain it any longer...Sylvia is alive and well living in Norman, Oklahoma.

I had a premonition.  I just felt the story was not over and, sure enough at 5:56 this afternoon (Thursday) a heart-stopping Facebook message read:  "It was good to hear from you Dick.  Can you tell me how I can get a copy of your book?  --Sylvia." 

I literally had to pinch myself to see if I was really dreaming.  "Rosanne, you have to see this," I announced to my very supportive spouse who had encouraged me to bring closure to my story about a young lady 54 years ago who was not easy to kiss and not easy to forget.

I am unaware of the whys and wherefores of Sylvia's sudden disappearance from our original Classmates profile contact site this past weekend, and how she relocated me through Facebook some four days later, but all is well that ends well.  On a newly-created Facebook site of her own, Sylvia displayed two photos of her wonderful family (her husband, two handsome sons and no doubt four attractive grandchildren, beaming faces all).  I am so happy for her -- and me too!

The final chapter to my story just wrote itself.  It ends as it should -- happily.  I don't have to fictionalize it.  It is what it is.  Glorious closure after more than 50 years of wondering and, yes, a degree of fantasizing too.  I honestly feel that God has blessed me and I am extremely thankful.

Of course, I plan to send Sylvia a copy of my book and in return I hope she provides me with a little more information about her life as it unfolded.  Everything from this point on will be a bonus, however.

So for now Sylvia, Rosanne and I wish you and yours continued good health and happiness.  Thank you for touching my heart one final time!

Signed, the kid from Canada


24 August, 2010


Not everyone appreciates a good story as much as I do...Well, certain stories, anyway...But I'm going to tell (or finish telling) this one because it does not have a conventional ending.  Nosiree, no Hollywood ending with this one, and I am left digging deep for a rational message -- if in fact there is one.

Two years ago on this site I published a story "Easy To Kiss, Easy To Forget".  In fact I also included it in my recent book, Wrights Lane...Come On In.  For those newcomers to Wrights Lane and others who may have missed the original post, I run it again (below) in order to set the stage for a rather surprise recent development.  Regardless, it would be best to give the following insertion a quick read before continuing.

Click here*"Easy to kiss, easy to forget: "...courtesy of a first Love's mom? A lot of what I write is for the benefit of my grandchildren, four being teenagers. Of course, as unbeli..."
SPECIAL NOTE FROM DICK:  I will not go into detail at this point, but I am compelled to make several corrections in the "Easy to Kiss, Easy to Forget" story that you just read.  For the record:  1)  Sylvia was in fact 17-years-of-age at the time; 2) she played the glockenspiel in the high school band, not clarinet and 3) we met at the Cocoa Methodist Church (not Presbyterian) where her mother was choir director.
When I first wrote this story I intended it to be the opening chapter of a book that I had in mind at the time.  My thought was to follow a young couple through life and to have them find each other again many years later through a computer web site designed to locate old friends and school chums.

The book never materialized and I eventually decided not to waste the text that had been stored in several computer files over the years.  I also never completely gave up the idea of someday writing at least a final chapter for the story in a follow up publication.

Well, believe it or not, two years ago I joined the "Classmates" Internet site and have had fun since connecting with people who attended Lambton Kent District High School in Dresden in the 1950s.  Just recently I have extended my search to include other people that I knew in the 50s and 60s, one of which was  my "Easy to kiss, easy to forget" girl Sylvia.

Much to my surprise Sylvia popped up on my monitor screen, sans photograph but displaying a hyphenated married name and still living in Florida.  She was listed as having attended high school in Cocoa, Fla. between 1952 and '56.  A perfect match...It had to be her!

"Should I send her a message?" I debated with myself.  After several days of weighing the pros and cons, I threw caution to the wind and dashed off what I felt was a compelling "for old times sake" note to the bulletin board on her Classmates page.

Second-guessing my wisdom, I nervously checked several times a day for a reply.  Almost two weeks later Sylvia registered a visit to my Classmates page, but with no comment.  I waited again for several days before sending her another note thanking her for visiting and apologizing if I had initially appeared presumptuous or intrusive.

This past Sunday I was surprised to find that a guest book visit had been removed from my Classmates site, a most unusual occurrence.  Sylvia's name had mysteriously disappeared from the list virtually over night.  The notation "Sorry!  This profile no longer exists." greeted me when I subsequently called up her site which had been wiped clean except for my now rather pathetic notes, strangely enough. 

The message was loud and clear.  This particular Sylvia was neither impressed nor interested in hearing from this particular ill-advised sentimentalist.  Maybe she thought I was a stalker, as someone has suggested, I don't know.  Nevertheless,  not quite the happy, warm and fuzzy ending to the story that I had nurtured for so long.

Kind of a letdown, right!  Sometimes life is like that.

I'll never know for sure, but if this was the Sylvia that I knew and loved all those years ago, she may be wishing now that we did kiss that night after the Valentine's prom.  That way, by her mother's rationale, it would have been easy for me to forget about her...Maybe, but not likely.  I'm just not that kind of guy.

21 August, 2010


I heard from a friend yesterday explaining for the first time that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer.  It was the kind of announcement that we all hear far too often and each time the shock is every bit as intense and devastating as before.

My friend had recently undergone mammogram testing and a biopsy for the "small cancer" in her left breast which will be removed via a lumpology and testing of the lymph nodes to be sure the cancer has not spread.  She will also have a series of five-a-week radiation treatments for a period of four to six weeks.

Always a positive, cheery person, she considered it "good news" that her "bad news" test this past June was a follow up to an all clear mammogram she had in June 2009.  "I am so grateful that I returned again in a year," she added.  Her message was loud and clear:  "Get your mammograms done ladies!"  This insatiable disease can rear its ugly head at any time -- a year can make a big difference.    

Coincidentally, on Thursday I had coffee with another friend (and husband) who had a similar diagnosis and treatment three years ago.  She is now fine and enjoying life as much, maybe even more, than before.  "The key was that my cancer was detected in the early stages," she explains now.  "Oh sure, it is always in the back of your mind and maybe that is a good thing as a reminder that we should never take our health for granted."

Cancer today can be just a blip on the radar screen of life providing it is detected early enough.  My two friends are here to tell all of us that the treatment that is necessary is only a small setback as a trade-off for a long-term, happy gain.  Believe me, I am one who has lived on both sides of that scenario.

19 August, 2010


Both Rosanne and I have handicap parking stickers for our car and truck.  If a couple of designated handicap spots are available in a parking lot, I will generally take one; otherwise I will park in the nearest regular opening and limp my way into the store or mall, leaving the one available handicap slot for someone who needs it more than me.  It's a little different for Rosanne as she needs to get as close as we can get to an entrance if she wants to go in.

This afternoon we pulled into our local Foodland parking lot and I noticed that an elderly couple had parked in our usual handicap location.  I parked a couple of cars away from them.  They were still struggling to get out of their car when I walked over to them. 

Being the joker than I am and with a straight face, I said:  "Why are you folks parking in this spot -- you're not handicapped!  The frail gentleman, looking up from his walker and taken a bit by surprise, was quick to recover with an equally straight face:  "Well we are, mentally."  The three of us broke into simultaneous laughter.  "Welcome to the club," I responded as I moved ahead to hold open the front door of the store for the slow-moving couple.

As I later recalled the light-hearted exchange for Rosanne, I began to think about the elderly man's "mentally handicapped" statement and how close to the truth it may soon be for me.  In recent months I have been bothered by some serious short-term memory lapses -- not the misplacing car keys or forgetting people's names sort of thing, but more persistent and annoying "blank outs" as I call them and inability to retain information and thoughts, literally from one minute to the next.

I try to retain a sense of humour about my increasing forgetfulness, but there are times when I worry about what might be in store for me not too far down the road.  There is a degree of frustration that spills over into my association with people, particularly Rosanne who has not quite come to grips with my problem.  I find myself lacking tolerance and easily angered, often leading me to regret certain knee-jerk actions that I have taken.

I am not sure if my writing has been adversely affected, but that is one of my worst fears.  The last thing I would want to do is to embarrass myself, but I honestly feel that I need this type of release for the passion of creative self-expression that exists within me.  Through writing I am able to make connections that would not be possible in a physical sense and that is what motivates me.  That's what keeps me going when perhaps I should pack it all in.

I have crammed a lot into the last four or five years of my life -- renovated two houses, served as a lay minister for a two-year period, walked away from a wheelchair after major foot and ankle surgery, gained some new friends and lost some old ones, written three books (two of which have been published), initiated this web site and a dozen others encompassing more than 300 individual posts, took a course in puppeteering, completed a number of oil and watercolour paintings, helped Rosanne pull through a major health crisis, tilted at a few windmills, the list goes on -- all things that I wanted to do, or felt compelled to do, before I finally give up the ghost.

Through Wrights Lane and other writings my life is pretty much an open book, although a few of the best stories will remain untold.  I have praised, encouraged, confessed, apologized, bared my soul and took risks at my own expense, leaving little else to be done by means of cleaning my life's slate.

I am now resigned to being the rope in a tug-of-war.  It remains to be seen which of my handicaps wins out in the end -- physical or mental.  It could very well be a tie.  Heaven help me!

All I can do is stand my ground for as long as I can -- and continue having a little fun while I'm doing it.

Tug away, you bastards!

18 August, 2010


I was corresponding with a friend last night on the subject of pursuing things that are personally important to us or are deepest in our heart.  Then something that I read reminded me that it's not an accident you love the things you love. It is not altogether profound to suggest also that it is not an accident that you care about the things you care about.

Neither is it an accident when you find yourself miserable or unhappy. This is the sign or signal that you are off the path of your passion(s) and a serious soul-search is no doubt in your best interest.

Why is it so often difficult for us to realize that when we follow the loves in our life we have all the joy, all the success and all the wishes that are deepest in our heart?

Do not hesitate to follow your passion, dear friend.  It will do your heart good!

Others may not always approve or understand, but why should we care...We're too busy fulfilling the desire within us and others are not necessarily expected to feel what we feel...Too bad for them!

16 August, 2010


Photo:  A 1958 Cadillac Seville, pink of course.  I could never make the raise of one of those beauties, but I did have a white sports coat.  My first car was a 1949 Plymouth Coupe, then a '52 Monarch with "overdrive" before stepping up to a '56 Olds 88 formerly owned by Dresden druggist Don Dusten.
I post this special *link to the above video site as a gift to all my "old" friends and relatives with  fond memories of the 1950s.  It really was a wonderful era in which to grow up.  You younger Cats can just watch, listen...and eat your hearts out!

Special thanks to one of those "old" friends (she's going to kill me) from Dresden who sent me the link knowing that I would enjoy it.  Betcha can't watch it only once?

14 August, 2010


Back in April I posted a story about the discovery of a skeleton in an old cistern on a property in rural Dresden.  Late Friday, area police confirmed the identity of the body as that of Clinton John Brown, a World War Two veteran who had mysteriously gone missing in 1975.  The announcement came as a relief to members of Brown's family and area residents who had speculated for 35 years on the disappearance of the 61-year-old bachelor.

The above video is of the official announcement by a Chatham-Kent Police spokesman.

Clint was a quiet, unassuming individual who had survived an 18-month stint in a prisoner of war concentration camp in Italy and wanted nothing more than to come back to Dresden and live the life that he and his comrades had fought and sacrificed for.  He lived in a trailer not far from the property where his body was finally and unexpectedly discovered.

Regardless of circumstances, the bottom of a well is no place for a body to spend eternity.  May Clint finally rest, deservedly, in peace.  You are saluted soldier!  Stand easy! 

12 August, 2010


It never fails, just when I begin feeling that I am missing the mark with my blog sites and that no one really cares about my nostalgic ramblings in particular, out of the blue I hear from someone who makes it all worthwhile.  Such is the case with an email that I received earlier today from Andrea (Ruttle) McElhone of Montreal.  I'll let Andrea take it from here.

"Hi Dick.  This thank-you is LONG overdue.  Ever since I received the Tribute to Doc Ruttle via Paul Weese, I have wanted to express my appreciation but didn't look to see the obvious reference to your email address.  I hope this reaches you and that you are still writing about Dresden on your blog.

"It was wonderful to retrieve the article through this medium.  I get to read it whenever I choose and I have been able to share it with a few friends who never met my Dad.  Living in Montreal since 1974, my life has been wonderful yet disconnected from Dresden.  If a friend is curious about my parents, I can say "I'll send you a snapshot of my Dad, my Mother and my home town."  The fact that a portion was written in Dad's words is especially revealing.  My children also appreciate having this in print.

"I have lots of memories of your parents as well.  I remember your Dad as a kind and friendly man and I have more memories of your Mom by way of her friendship with mine.  I also remember dropping in to the drug store (Carr's and McTavish) with my friends most days after school and your Mother would join  us in some form of kidding around.

"My current connection to Dresden is by way of Bob and Paul Weese and Carol Holmes Park.

"I understand that you are very busy in retirement and generally enjoying life.  Your blog sites seem to be a natural evolution of your journalistic skills.  The rest of us have benefited.  I know that my sister Carol also was very happy to receive this Tribute.

"Thanks again for reminding us of our Dad's qualities and values.  All the best!"

-- Andrea Ruttle McElhone. 

NOTE FROM DICK:  Andrea is the "baby" sister of my old friend Jim Ruttle.  I actually remember when she was born.  Growing up in Dresden, I may have said no more than a half-dozen words to her in a 10-11-year period.  Now, through my web sites and the memories we share, we come together as mature adults (one more mature than the other, I fear) and that's what makes all of this so gratifying.  The little girl I never spoke to is now my friend with something in common.  I feel very close to her even though we may never physically cross paths again.

Life does have its wonderful twists and surprises.  Thank you for this one Andrea!

*To view the original "Tribute to Doc Ruttle" feature site, click

11 August, 2010

A Broken Dream, A Father, and Hope.

A Broken Dream, A Father, and Hope.

*click on heading(s)

I feel strongly moved to share this video with followers of Wrights Lane because of the power of its message and the emotion it raises within me.  I know the clip will speak for itself as it speaks to you.  I take my leave  at this time feeling very inadequate and humble.  God bless!

10 August, 2010


From my Daily Kindness friends: A story worth repeating.

The story goes that some time ago, a man punished his three-year-old daughter for wasting a roll of gold wrapping paper. Money was tight and he became infuriated when the child tried to decorate a box to put under the Christmas tree.

Nevertheless, the little girl brought the gift to her father the next morning and said, “This is for you, Daddy.”

He was embarrassed by his earlier overreaction, but his anger flared again when he found the box was empty.

He yelled at her, “Don’t you know that when you give someone a present, there’s supposed to be something inside it?”

The little girl looked up at him with tears in her eyes and said, “Oh, Daddy, it is not empty. I blew kisses into the box. All for you, Daddy.”

The father was crushed. He put his arms around his little girl, and he begged for her forgiveness.

It is told that the man kept that gold box by his bed for years and whenever he was discouraged, he would take out an imaginary kiss and remember the love of the child who had put it there.

In a very real sense, each of us as humans have been given a gold container filled with unconditional love and kisses from our children, friends, family or God.

There is no more precious possession anyone could hold.

08 August, 2010


I was thinking this morning about my unusual fixation on my old hometown, Dresden, when the words of the song "Love The One You're With" curiously popped into my head.

Regular readers of Wrights Lane are most familiar with what has been described by some as an obsession...I even wrote a book about it, for Heaven's sake.  In all honesty, I myself have often questioned the extent and healthiness of my nostalgic exuberance for the little town  nestled on both banks of the Sydenham River in agriculture-oriented Kent County.

All along I have refuted the expression "you can never go back", insisting that indeed you can go back to the home of your childhood.  In retrospect, and by degrees, I have now amended my contention by adding the words "...but you will not belong."

In my lifetime I have lived in eight different towns or cities and in all cases I have left a little of myself behind...That's just the way I am...But something has been missing every time I go back to pay a visit.  Scenery changes, people change, someone else is living in my old house and I am left with an empty ache in the pit of my stomach.  As hard as I try to ignore the feeling, I am always none other than someone from another era -- an intruder on familiar soil, to put it bluntly.  Those places are no longer my home and never will be again, unless I physically move back and even then things will have changed and very little would be as it was before.  Come to think about it, I likewise, would no longer be the person that I was -- physically different, emotionally different, much older and with interests that are different.

At one point there were 14 members of my family (Wrights, Perrys, Sharpes, Johnstons) all living within a stone's throw of my home on Sydenham Street in Dresden...I'm the only one still living.

Don't get me wrong, there are a handful of people who remember me and fewer still who have remained dear friends at a distance over the years, and I cling to that.  After a half century, however, we have only one thing in common and that is the roots we share and the memories of days gone by. 

So, yes, you can go back but you won't belong and that's an acknowledgement that leaves me feeling rather sad.  But, you know what?  I do belong somewhere.  My home is at 62 Grey Street North in Southampton.  My wife and dog live there too.  There is no other place I would rather be.

Stephen Stills said it best when he wrote the lyrics *"Love The One You're With".  Only I have changed the words as I repeatedly sing them in my mind while putting the finishing touches to this post:  "Love the home you're in, don't be angry, don't be sad, and don't sit cryin' over good times you've had...Love the home you're in!"

A bit of closure here?  I think so.

* The song"Love The One You're With" was first made popular by the singing group Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.

06 August, 2010


We are hearing a lot these days about people opting out of demanding careers and  meat-grinder existences in the corporate world.  Variety stores in the country, lakeside marinas, bed and breakfast businesses, antique shops, gentleman farming, real estate, taxi cab driving, landscaping, golf club and tennis racquet restoration, church ministry, writing a book (to name but a few) are some of the popular occupational retreats of choice.

While circumstances were somewhat different, I too for that matter, left the security of a regular pay cheque at one time in favour of the ill-advised challenge of entrepreneurship and working on my own.  It's all about escaping stress, being the master of one's own destiny and finding a comfortable niche doing something you truly enjoy as you wind down to eventual retirement.

The lure of "a more simple life" in a rural setting, cottage country or a small community, can be extremely appealing to someone approaching burnout from life in a competitive and exhaustive business environment.  I can't help but wonder, however, what kind of world would result if every stressed or disgruntled manager or rank-and-file worker decided to join the exodus to more simple, easy lifestyles doing work that brings total personal satisfaction and joy.

God bless those who are able to make successful transitions in their life, but my hat is off to those who keep their noses to the grindstone and stay the course in demanding yet essential jobs in health care and social services, manufacturing, retail, public service, business and corporate management 
and politics, all helping to keep the wheels of trade, commerce and government grinding and lending balance to the world.

Think of how strange it would be if we all worked in stress-free jobs that we thoroughly enjoyed.  Who would do the real work?

03 August, 2010


I talk to myself a lot...This web site is no exception, but maybe that in itself is a negative thought which is the subject of this post.

For years I have been saying to anyone willing to listen (my late mother for one and more recently, my wife Rosanne):  "For heaven sake, don't dwell on negative things.  Don't worry so much.  Stop repeating how badly you feel...You are only making matters worse for yourself."  Beneath my breath, I frequently add: " are starting to annoy me and put me in a negative frame of mind like yours".

Most people do not really pay attention to what they say when they are just making passing comments or off-the-cuff remarks.  But they can have a significant impact on life.  These are usually simple responses to what often seem like routine questions, such as "how are you" or "how are things going?" or "how's life treating you today?"... "how's work going?"

We get asked these questions everyday, and over time we form some routine responses.  In many cases automatic replies will have no impact on how our lives are shaped but, conversely, those remarks or other voluntary comments that seem to be made in passing or in jest, can have a significant impact on how one's life turns out.

If you're one who complains a lot, you're likely to get more of what you complain about.  On the other hand, look for solutions and more often than not you will find them.  Focus on the problem and you'll get more of the same, right?  It has always been pretty simple to me that bad thoughts attract more bad thoughts and good thoughts lend themselves to a positive mindset, but in spite of that conviction I have found even myself falling into the trap of negativity in moments of weakness or forgetfulness.

But how do you go from complaining or focusing on problems to attracting what you want and improving or changing your life so that you overcome your ills or achieve desired goals?  Karim Hajee, author and creator of the popular "Creating Power" self-help program, recently reinforced for me the fact that the answer to that question is actually easier than you think if you understand that your words actually shape your life.

Not every word we speak will manifest, but what we say repeatedly, is what we begin to believe and that takes hold in our subconscious mind and manifests.  So we have to give ourselves a shake from time to time with the reminder that we simply cannot afford to harbour negative thoughts because one always leads to another -- and another, and another.

Now, if you really want to be happy in life, overcome problems, and be fulfilled as an individual, do as Karim suggests and focus on what it is that you really want and become a vibrating magnet to that end.  What we are talking about here is The Law of Attraction which is undisputed.

We pretty much attract both the good and bad in our lives.  I don't know about you, but in the time that I have left I'm concentrating on the good...And watching what I say, even if it is to myself. 

01 August, 2010


I will need a stepladder to pick tomatoes this year if my plants get any taller.  Never before in the history of my vegetable gardening have tomato plants of any variety grown this big ... Maybe it was the sheep manure -- no bull!