A Journal Adventure


My least successful stab at keeping a journal was in 1998.  I’m going to call it an adventure because way back then I was trying something new, unusual, exciting and fun.  My other reason for this is because yesterday and today the challenges are ‘journal’ and ‘adventure’ and I’m trying to make sense of my decision to combine the two.  I do realize keeping a journal is not everyone’s idea of breathtaking adventure.

The Kiss by Francesco Hayez

The Kiss by Francesco Hayez

Anyway, adventurous or not, I did it because Oprah told me to.  She said everyone should write down three things they are grateful for every day.  I had the perfect book to put it in too, something I purchased on a whim called “Love, A Book of Days.”  It is full of beautiful art work and famous quotes with love as a recurring theme, with six or seven little blank numbered spaces on every other page, the perfect size for recording spurts of gratefulness.

My dedication to this endeavour lasted about fifteen weeks.  However, the last four weeks probably shouldn’t count because all I was writing by then were three strange words a day – words like syzygy, fossiker and ozostomia.  I suppose we can assume I was grateful for those words, but only up to a point, because suddenly I just stopped being grateful for anything at all and the rest of the pages are blank.  Except of course for the painting reproductions and the blurbs about love by famous people.  So it’s still a book worth keeping, despite being scribbled in.

Are you watching the Sochi Olympics this winter?  The reason I ask is because in 1998 the Nagano Olympics were happening.  I would not have remembered this if I hadn’t written that I was thankful for knowing the ice dancing judges were idiots and being grateful for Olympic hockey games and never having to actually watch any of them.

Other less historically significant things on my list included being grateful for –

1.  Weekends and sleeping in

2.  Clumping cat litter

3.  Being able to recognize my boss’s insanity/cope with her mental instability (there are apparently many ways to say this)

4.  How quickly one can make spaghetti

5.  Phone calls that are for me/phone calls that are NOT for me

6. Medical terminology for transcriptionists

7.  Selective memory

8.  Bohemian Rhapsody

9.  Chiropractors and not needing one

10.  Shoelaces

11.  Shopping lists, finding my shopping list while shopping, getting things that are not on my shopping list

12.  Stat Holidays, even when they’re a joke.

I have no idea what that last one means.  One day I wrote meditation, mediation, medication.  And the boss is the one who’s nuts?  Yeah.

Did you ever keep a journal?  Are you going to burn it before you die?

Dancing in Columbia by Fernando Botero

Dancing in Columbia by Fernando Botero

Cin’s Feb Challenge –  Day 20 Journal, Day 21 Adventure

When You Feel Like You Want to Climb Out a Window and Disappear

Just don’t do it.  Read this book instead.

The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared  by Jonas Jonasson

100 year old man

Well, I’ve done it again – chosen a book based solely on its cover.  But what a find this one turned out to be!  The title made me smile, and the story made me laugh out loud.  If you like adventure and dry, deadpan humor, this is a book I highly recommend.  It’s the tale of a man who has had a long and eventful life and although he has slowed down considerably at the age of one hundred, he still has an escapade or two left in him.

Through the present hilarious romp, we’re doubly entertained by flash backs to his lifetime of one unbelievable adventure after another, in which he is thrown together with very important people all over the world.  Allan Karlsson never goes looking for excitement or trouble, but it always manages to find him.  He is delightfully unassuming, matter of fact, down to earth, polite, helpful, non political, non religious, and completely accepting of whatever fate hands him.  Well, up to a point.  He is also adept at wriggling his way out of difficult situations when the need arises.

It’s an oddball, funny story, like reading about a Swedish Forest Gump, with lots of history and world events woven into it.  Apparently you’re never too old to have some fun.  Why not pick up a feel-good book that makes you laugh?  May we all have such great adventures and live to be one hundred.  Or die trying.

Weathering the Storm

English: Mayan calendar created by a modern cr...

English: Mayan calendar created by a modern craftsman (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve gotten a little distracted from my December 2012 book of days adventure in which I was supposed to be summarizing my daily preparations for the last day on the Mayan Calendar.  Although since there was never any really firm plan, I suppose I can say I haven’t gotten too far off track yet.  If you don’t know where you’re going, it’s pretty much impossible to be lost.

We got a ridiculous amount of snow today, and there’s more on the way.  The roads are crap, there’s ice everywhere, and intersections can be treacherous.  There are minor and major accidents happening all over the place, sometimes despite how careful we all think we’re being.  I wish someone would declare the month of December one big long snow day so we could all stay home until the new year.  Maybe I was a hibernating bear in a past life.

But hey!  What can we do except make the best of it?  Every day is a perfect day for something, and I think today was custom made for singing along with Kay Starr to this Irving Berlin song!  All together now – one, two, three….

The snow is snowing, the wind is blowing,
but I can weather the storm!
What do I care how much it may storm?
I’ve got my love to keep me warm.
I can’t remember a worse December
Just watch those icicles form!
What do I care if icicles form?
I’ve got my love to keep me warm.

Off with my overcoat, off with my glove.
I need no overcoat, I’m burning with love.
My heart’s on fire, the flame grows higher,
so I will weather the storm.
What do I care how much it may storm?
I’ve got my love to keep me warm.

A Letter From Nanton

In 1936, when he was 22, my dad and a friend set off from southern Ontario on a great adventure, heading west.  They stopped where there was work, made some travel money and moved on.  My mother (getting her teaching certificate in Stratford at the time)  kept some of the letters he wrote to her when he reached Alberta. It must have seemed to her like getting letters from the moon.  I’m sure she sometimes wondered when he’d ever come back.  It’s possible he wondered the same thing himself.

The pages are soft and soiled, faded and worn, written in pencil, signed with love.

Nanton, Alberta, May 24, 1936

Dear Margaret,

One week almost at an end in a strange place among strange people.  They’re very nice the most of them at least.  We had a splendid trip all through, of course some flat tires and the odd fixing of the engine.  Once the car started fire in the Montana Mountains but we got it out before any serious danger.  I can’t think very clearly because of being interrupted by someone telling me what “to tell her”!

We had a jail birds job picking stones for a couple of days, then we went to help dig a cellar for Bill Scott who is going to build a new house.  I suppose I’ll be there for a week or so yet.  This prairie they talk about isn’t what they talk about.   It’s just as hilly around here as it is anywhere at home.  Where I’ve been working we sleep in a bunk car and eat in a cook car, different from what I’ve been used to.  The fellows I’m working with are rather rough talkers but very good to get along with. 

We went into Nanton last night and watched the people walking around the streets.  It made me feel right at home although I didn’t know very many.  Right at the present time I am at Bob Greggs trying to write.  Where I’m working they keep twenty-seven horses and a bunch of cows.  Everybody has lots of horses here.  They drive anywhere from two to sixteen horses at one time.  The seeding time is over but we may be able to pick up enough jobs to keep going till harvest when the big pay starts.  I wish I could think clearly for I’ve lots of things I’d like to tell you.

I made a bet with Harold last night.  He’s been talking of quitting smoking.  I bet him one dollar that he couldn’t quit till the first of August and he took me up.  I think it will be an easy dollar.  If I have to pay it, it will still be worth it.  Something else – we didn’t get a camera.  What do you think of that.  The scenery was certainly beautiful in the mountains in Montana at one place we were twenty-seven hundred feet above the lakes at the foot.  The lakes and mountain sides were surrounded by trees and shrubs with the sun shining in.  I’ve never been very struck on scenery but that was certainly a feast for the eyes.

English: Dust Storm in Black Rock Desert, Neva...

English: Dust Storm in Black Rock Desert, Nevada (USA). Français : Une tempête de sable dans le Black Rock Desert, au Nevada (États-Unis). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In North Dakota we got into a dust storm that stalled the motor.  The dust was so thick at times that I couldn’t see the radiator cap.  We had all the windows closed but the fine dust settled in from everywhere.  We stayed there for about half an hour until a truck came and pushed us out.  We looked as though we’d just come from a thrashing and all our clothes were an awful mess.  If I never see another storm of that kind it will be soon enough.

This place is a bad town to be hanging around. Nearly everybody in town was tight last night, but believe it or not I wasn’t.  As long as a little girl in Stratford thinks anything of me I’m not going to give her any reason to change her mind if I can help it.  How is our Blanche?  I didn’t get to see much of her on Sunday, and our Ettie too.  Tell Marg Reed I’m sorry I missed her.

The worst of being so far away is it will take so long for a letter to travel either way and it does seem so long since I got a letter.  I suppose you will be as busy as a bee now getting near the end of the term, etc.

It’s certainly a lovely day today, not too warm or too cold, and the sun is shining.  So far I’m not sorry I struck out, although it’s going to grab hard at me during July and August.

Listen kid, I want you to have a good time, whatever you do.  Don’t stay at home on account of me if you get a chance to go somewhere.  You know what I mean.  But I don’t want you to fall in love, or anything like that.  That would make things bad for me.  Well kid, I was going to write a long letter when I started out but I’m at a loss now.  Don’t know what else to write.

I hope I may hear from you soon, for I don’t know how long I’ll be here.  Send the letters to Nanton, Alberta, care of R. S. Gregg, and that will get me.  Signing off for now.

With loads and loads of love, Hank.

A Book Called Liesl and Po

This is a delightful little book by Lauren Oliver that can be read in an afternoon.  Part fairy tale, fantasy, ghost story and adventure, and all about the magic in everyones life.

Does anyone ever completely outgrow the love for a well told story in which evil is banished and good prevails?  Especially when it’s got pictures?  I don’t think so.

How One Thing Leads Backwards to Another

It’s dangerous to let me wander around unattended in the self-help section of a large bookstore.  I get ideas.  I bring them home, and then I share them.

I don’t think Mike Dooley will mind if I tell you to buy this book.  And I don’t think you will be disappointed in my advice if you take it.

It won’t take up much of your time to read all of it, but if you’re anything at all like me, you’ll spend the same amount of time going back to the beginning and skipping through it one more time to re-read all the things that made you smile and laugh and feel truly amazed and so emotional you wanted to cry.

In a good way of course.

Now that I’ve read more notes I’ll read the original Notes from the Universe which I’ve downloaded to my kindle. Along with Leveraging the Universe because I think these two books will be equally amazing and because I seem to like doing things in multiples of three; going backward or forward apparently doesn’t matter to me.

If you were here with me now I’d happily lend you this delightful little book to read for yourself.

Sharing a couple or three passages here will have to do for now.  These are the pages I’ve stuck the book jacket flap between because the words touched me in a way I can’t explain.  It’s a comforting thought to believe that souls come back to live again, and that we each choose our own circumstances before starting the next adventure.  We won’t have any idea why we picked this particular life until it’s over and only then do we get to see what we’ve made of it, one way or another.  Maybe it’s a little crazy to think that way, but on a crazy scale of one to ten I’d give it a middle of the road 5.  People have believed way stranger things.

If these particular passages don’t speak to you in any profound way, don’t worry.  There will likely be something in this book that does.  Maybe lots of things. (Maybe nothing!)   Maybe it will change your life.  Maybe it won’t. Whatever you decide, it’s nice to have a choice.

Have a great weekend.

Postcards Home

In 1936 my mom was attending teachers college in Stratford, Ontario.  The love of her life, my dad, was off to see the world.  Well, western Canada, actually, but in those days, worlds away from home.  He and a buddy headed west to find work and adventure.

Amongst the treasures I gleaned from home this visit were pieces of correspondence between my parents, and letters they sent to, or received from other people.  Interesting stuff.  And amazing that it has survived all these years.

This was written on the 15th of May, 1936.

Dear Marg,  We reached Grand Forks North Dakota at two o’clock Friday.  We’re getting along fine now.  Hope you’re keeping well.  This is a big city.  I don’t like it.  The surrounding country is prairie.  Love Hank.

“Getting along fine now” suggests that things might not have been quite so fine before that.  Imagine two young men with minimal mechanical abilities setting off across Canada in a Model T Ford.

It may have looked like this new, but after thousands of miles and many flat tires and gravel roads later, perhaps not quite so lovely.

On the 30th of May, fifteen days later, he sent this postcard from Calgary.

Dear Margaret, We’re in Calgary.  We can’t keep still in one spot.  We’re heading for Rimbey for a while.  It’s about 250 miles.  Send mail to Newton and I’ll get it.  I hope you’re taking good care of yourself.  I’m having the time of my life.  Although I sometimes get rather lonesome.  We worked for about a week.  I’ll write later.  Love Hank

Dad was travelling with a friend from home, also off on an adventure, kind of like the ‘work as you go’ holidays people go off on today.  Except they go to Europe or somewhere slightly more interesting than Rimbey, Alberta.  Dad also kept in close touch with his family back home, thus the reference to Newton, his older brother.

There was work in Rimbey and I know that he stayed there for awhile.  When my parents came here to visit us in the 1990’s we drove them out there to look up the people he knew way back when.  Obviously they made quite an impression on eachother.

It’s unfortunate that I didn’t pay closer attention to the details of the stories dad used to tell us in bits and pieces about his time “out west”.  I was more concerned about the fact that they were so far apart for so long and either one of them might have married someone else.  Apparently both of them were worth waiting for.