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

30 June, 2012


We Canadians are a nation blessed with a rare, precious and distinct advantage. We have an egalitarian worldview woven into the very fabric of our social, cultural and legislative institutions.

In contrast to the radical individualism that defines neighbors to the south, our Canadian worldview emphasizes social justice: the protection of the weak by the strong, the frail by the healthy, the impoverished by the wealthy.  This “just society”, combined with our natural wealth, our work ethic, our public education and health systems, and our multicultural civility gives us a real shot at being the best place in the world to live a good, if not lavish, life –- at peace with ourselves, and our neighbors near and far.

A year-round fixture on my
front porch.
So is it really true that we can’t have the society we want because we can’t afford it – or is it because we have allowed too much political influence over it?

It cannot be denied that our Canadian society has been steered in the direction of the republic south of our border. That’s an economy that tolerates sharper divisions between rich and poor, and what we perceive as injustices in the distribution of social benefits to the wounded, sick, unemployed and elderly. It’s a culture with a large segment of the media environment that celebrates what we see as intolerance.

It’s a society whose democratic institutions have become even more corroded than ours, by political attack ads, hyper-partisan tactics, and systematic voter suppression. And it is a population with higher rates of fear and incarceration, where (as so vividly illustrated in the so-called “stand your ground” law and the Trayvon Martin case) social order is descending into bloodshed, not just in spite of the law, but because of it.

To the extent that Canadians have a different experience than Americans, that experience rests, in no small part, on decades of federal policies and budgets that institutionalized priorities reflecting the centre of the Canadian political perspective. And as Paul Martin showed, it is difficult, but possible, to rein in spending without discarding those priorities.

Back to my original question: I sense a determined governmental march in our proud land that communicates a central, false assumption that our treasured “just society” – that geopolitically distinctive aspect of our values and national identity – is unaffordable.  

There is an alternative view though, and that is, if we are to have the Canada we want, we cannot afford to give so much power to government. What we cannot afford is ... a government with priorities which are wildly out of line with the priorities of the vast majority of Canadians. What we cannot afford is ... any government which is prepared to run roughshod over what should be two traditional, non-negotiable Canadian ideals: unswerving respect for democracy, and the pursuit of a just society.

I believe that Canada is resilient enough to survive the aforementioned dangerous influences of a march in a southerly direction, providing that enough of us remember what it means to be "Canadian” and to maintain "the Canadian way" that is just (and affordable) for all.

Only in Canada, you say?...You're damn right!  And we need to keep it here.

Make no mistake about it, governments do not necessarily make countries great.  It is the will of the people that ultimately deserves all the credit.  Rank and file Canadians hold the power and we should never forget that fact.  Our collective voice counts and we should express it loudly and clearly, especially when carefully marking our "X" on the election ballot.

On this weekend, above all others, we need to sing "O Canada, we stand on guard for thee..." with as much ghusto as we can muster so that it resonates in every corner of this unique and wonderful country of ours -- province to province, the Atlantic to the Pacific.

23 June, 2012


17 June, 2012


10:34 p.m., Sunday, June 17:  In exactly 10 hours time I will be going under the knife (saw?) in the OR at the Owen Sound Hospital.  I don't know why, but I feel the odd-ball urge to report in to my Wrights Lane readers for the final time before a recovery hiatus of a couple of weeks at home.

Going into this hip replacement ordeal I had no idea of the pre-surgery preparation that would be necessary.  It started with an all-day pre-op screening and test session at the hospital last week.  Since then I had  to purchase a toilet riser seat, a bath stool, two reacher grips, a three-foot long shoe horn, new pyjamas and special stockings, all of which put a sizeable hole in a $200 bill.

On Friday I was visited by an occupational therapist who assessed my mobility, the layout of our home and left me with some useful post-operative suggestions.  She also inspected and gave a green light to a stop-and-go walker and a set crutches left over from ankle surgery seven years ago.  Friday night was devoted to posting several items on two of the web sites that I manage for other people and updating an extensive mailing list for one of my clients, leaving the coast clear for me until I get out of hospital on Wednesday or Thursday of next week.

The real work, however began this weekend.  My daughter Debbie has taken time off work in Brampton to be with us and to help get me over the hump for a week or two.  We purchased a new bed and mattress for her which had to be set up in our spare bedroom, but not before cleaning the house from stem to stern, biting the bullet and struggling to mow the lawn one last time, pulling a few weeds, washing the car (inside and out), purchasing a full tank of gas for the several trips Debbie and Rosanne will be taking to the hospital next week, taking time to do some banking, purchasing groceries to get Debbie and Rosanne through the week, picking up several drug prescriptions for both Rosanne and I, leaving explicit instructions for Rosanne on how to do certain chores like making her coffee (I always make it) and how to prepare her morning fruit smoothie with her prescribed dose of Metamucil (I always make that for her too), replacing light bulbs in the house, doing several loads of laundry, preparing garbage bags and sticker tags for regular Tuesday morning pickup, preparing a beef stew for an easy supper this evening and... I know that I am leaving out several chores at least, but you get the picture -- all things that I will be restricted from doing for a while.

I said to Rosanne last night:  "I'm actually looking forward to going into hospital.  I need the rest!"

Gotta hit the hay now...4:45 a.m. will come early!

11 June, 2012


Hip replacement surgery date of June 18 coming up fast. Wrights Lane will be closed down for a while as I prepare for pre and post- op priorities.

05 June, 2012


Technically and officially, most of us are grown up adults.  We are not little children.  We are responsible, for better or worse, for our actions and choices.  Ideally, we benefit from the wisdom of maturity.  Strange, however, that on occasion a series of strong childlike impulses and urges are awakened within us -- one moment feeling mischievous and playful and the next inclined towards petulant protest.  What's wrong with that?

We all could use a good dose of lightening up at times.  The world is full of people who take life (and themselves) far too seriously.  Let's allow ourselves a little more time for fun and smelling the roses that grow in all our gardens.

Life, after all, is a precious journey -- and short.

03 June, 2012


Cindy and Madi
My daughter Cindy posted the following on her Facebook page today.  (Madison is my seven-year-old grand daughter.)  I thought this was priceless.

"This morning Madi said to me, 'Mommy, I like to put on make-up to look older and you put it on to look younger.'  As a mom her wisdom impresses me.  As a woman her observation depresses me!"

01 June, 2012


Over the course of the next week I will be wrapping up a few web site loose ends before entering hospital in Owen Sound for hip replacement surgery.  Hence a repeat and update on one of my earliest posts on Wrights Lane that received wide-spread attention.  It hardly seems like it was four years ago that I wrote the following "Easy to Kiss, Easy to Forget" item which also appears in one of my books.

I hesitated to publish the piece originally because of the personal and sensitive nature of the subject matter but in the end, I am glad that I did.  This was a story about a young lady that I met while playing baseball in Florida in 1956 and who left a lasting impression on me.  To make a long story short, quite remarkably the story eventually came to "Sylvia's" attention in Norman, Oklahoma, and she graciously responded (see her comment below, including a few factual corrections) several months later.  Sylvia, as it turns out, would meet and eventually marry Bob (her husband of 50 years) while working at the Cape Canaveral Space Centre.  Bob (not the football-playing Bob in my story) was one of the early "space pioneers" working in research and development and responsible for launching America's first attempt to land a small instrumental payload on the moon.  For the past 35 years he has headed his own company, Bio-Cide International, in Norman.  Sylvia meanwhile completed her masters degree in music at the University of Oklahoma, served on the national board of the American Red Cross, and is a Paul Harris Fellowship award recipient.  She and Bob have two sons and several grandchildren.  They have done very well for themselves.

Here's my original story, just in case you may have missed it.

15 JULY, 2008

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 unbelievable as it may seem, we all were teens at one time, struggling to find identity and a niche in life, living each new experience with unbridled intensity and emotion. 
The setting for this story is Cocoa, Florida, where I attended a baseball rookie training camp in the early months of 1956. Talk about "wet behind the ears", I was all of that and more. It was difficult enough trying to make the grade in professional baseball at 18 years of age but I also had to hopelessly fall in love for the first time, just to complicate matters.

"The face of an angel," I gasped as my eyes fell on a breathtaking countenance engulfed by a sea of church choir members. The worship service on that Sunday morning at St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church in Cocoa was a blur. That face in the choir was my sole focus. I was feeling something strange in the pit of my stomach.

As I left the sanctuary following the service I was startled by a tap on the shoulder. My heart jumped into my throat as I turned to see that face on a tall and statuesque body, standing in front of me. "Hi, my name is Sylvia. I saw you in the congregation and I just wanted to welcome you. Are you a ball player?" We chatted at length, exchanging information about ourselves on the church steps that unforgettable Sunday morning in the warm Florida sun. For a kid from small town Dresden, Ontario, this was the stuff of which dreams are made.

I learned that Sylvia was also 18 years of age and soon to graduate from high school. She played clarinet in the school band. Her mother was director of the church choir and her father was Chief of the nearby Cape Canaveral Police Force (later to become Cape Kennedy). I don't remember what I told Sylvia about myself, but I must have divulged the name of the lady who owned the home where I had been billeted. "I'd better get going. My mother has been waiting," exclaimed "that face" as we parted company. The four block walk that followed was as if I was floating on a cloud. My feet must have hit the sidewalk at some point, but it didn't feel like it.

Several hours later I was in the process of composing a letter to my mother when I heard the downstairs telephone ring. "Just one moment. I'll get him for you...Dick, it's a call for you!" came my landlady's voice from the foot of the stairs. "It's a girl," she said with a wide grin and a wink as she passed the receiver over to me.

To my disbelief it was Sylvia on the other end of the line, asking me if I had been to the ocean yet. I hadn't and she invited me to take a trip to the beach after baseball the next day -- "if I liked to". Needless to say, I liked to and we did. She picked me up in her parents' black 1955 Mercury and if this was a dream I didn't want to wake up. We had a glorious few hours ocean side, capped by an invitation to be her escort for the Cocoa District High School's annual Valentine's Ball. Adding to the honor of it all was the fact that Sylvia just happened to be a prime candidate for Queen of the Ball. I was also flabbergasted to learn that her up-to-then boy friend, a school basketball and football star named Bob, was also a shoe-in for King of the Ball. Needless to say, news that the potential Queen of the Ball would be escorted by an out of town baseball player and not the King-in-waiting, caused quite a stir in the school community.

Sylvia arranged for us to accompany two other couples, one of which would provide a car. Good thing too because I not only did not have access to a vehicle, I did not yet even have a driver's licence. Sylvia met me at her front door on the evening of the grand occasion and introduced me to her parents as I presented her with a break-the-bank orchid corsage. Another more uncomfortable introduction awaited me an hour later in the school auditorium.

"Bob, I want you to meet Dick Wright," Sylvia enthused to the hulking six foot plus, 200 pound figure looming large in front of me. As we shook hands, I got the distinct impression that Bob was not all that impressed. I was certainly not one of his favorite people at that particular juncture in time and undoubtedly there was potential for someone else to be "crowned" that evening. I would have liked to know Bob better but something seemed to tell me that it would be advisable for me to stay clear of him for the duration of my stay in Cocoa.

The evening was an unqualified success. As expected, Sylvia and Bob were crowned Queen and King and I was overcome with apprehension as the Ball drew to a close. That apprehension was altered somewhat when Sylvia gently rested her head on my shoulder on our way home and softly whispered: "I don't want us to kiss tonight. My mother kept saying over and over today 'easy to kiss, easy to forget' and I don't want you to ever forget me." On one hand I understood but on the other I was let down just a bit. I don't remember anything about the brief balance of the evening. The words "easy to kiss, easy to forget" resonated in my ears -- still do to this day. When I got back to my rooming house that night I noticed a slight smudge of lipstick on the lapel of my suit coat, left there by Sylvia when she snuggled close to utter those six mood altering words. I wore the suit for several years after that but could never quite bring myself to have the coat dry cleaned.

Shortly thereafter I signed a contract and shipped out to join my new team in Georgia. My heart was broken and I cried a lot for a few days. I was happy to have the opportunity to continue playing baseball in the states but I was reluctant to leave Sylvia and all that she had come to mean to me. I never told her, but I was truly in love for the first time. I never knew that love could hurt so much. "I'll come back some day," I tried to assure myself. As it turned out I never again saw Sylvia. We exchanged letters for several months but eventually we stopped corresponding. I don't know why. Long distance relationships are sometimes like that, especially when you are young with so much more to experience.

Sylvia's mother was probably right about that damn "easy to kiss, easy to forget" expression. I'm sure she would be pleased to know that I never did get to kiss her daughter. Likewise, I never forgot the face that so captured my fancy all those years ago. I wonder if her daughter remembers the kid from Canada that she never got to kiss!?
Sylvia said...
Yes, Dick, I do remember however, we met at the Cocoa Methodist Church where Mom was the choir director. Also, I was 17 at the time. (My birthday is in December.) It is possible that some of your recollections are combined with those of Renee Abromet,I'm not sure, and I wouldn't be surprised as she was a beautiful young blond-haired student who was very popular in high school. I do remember the handsome young ball player, though. I'm surprised at myself for introducing myself to you, though, as I was actually more shy than that. Renee played clarinet in the band. I had been a cheerleader in Arcadia and when we moved to Cocoa the summer before my senior year, I got in the band by playing the glockensphiel (forgot how to spell it).  Easier to say that I played "the bells".  Anyway, memories are special and I do remember the very nice, handsome young ballplayer from Canada, and too, wondered whatever happened to him as well. Thank you for your thoughts and for the memories you brought back. Sylvia


Ah yes, Sylvia, I remember it well! (except for the name of the church and the instrument you played in the band...I knew it was glockenspiel but couldn't spell it either, lol).  Don't know why I said clarinet.  At least I remembered the important stuff.  P.S. Renee was a nice girl, but...