Stray Thoughts?

A couple of weeks ago, I was in the kitchen making dinner when I suddenly thought about my former neighbour.  He lived in the house right beside ours when we moved to Toronto.  I remember the first summer, my parents were sitting out in the backyard.  They just used the chairs from our kitchen.  I think my neighbour offered to bring over his lawn chairs or he just did.  The next day or next weekend, he purchased a set of lawn furniture for us.

He was a typical middle class father, proud of his job as a school principal and his family.  Throughout the years, he was a good neighbour and got along with our family.  Decades later, his wife had passed away.  Sometimes he hung out with my dad to chat or to have a few drinks.  Eventually his drinking started to affect his health and I think he suffered from dementia. His daughters moved him to a retirement home.

Then a couple of weeks ago, he just popped into my mind.  I had not thought of him for years.  I remember thinking I wonder what happened to him.  That was it.  Then a few days ago, my sister (who still lives in the house), heard that he had passed away just a couple of weeks ago.  What an odd coincidence.  Or was it?





This is a follow up to my previous entry.  The 3 of us met today and it was a disaster.  So many angry words.  No one was at their best.  I think someone is trying to manipulate me too but I can’t really put my finger on it.  I hate this.  I also feel an anxiety attack coming soon.

I just have to move on.  Tomorrow is another day.  Life goes on.

Stressed Out Folks

The support group that I belong to for job hunting has dwindled down to 3.  Everyone’s stressed and tempers are beginning to flare.  An innocent email gets misinterpreted; I got dragged into some drama and it’s demoralizing.  I feel like I’m stuck between these 2 people.  They have debts and no income.  We went from a supportive group to the last survivors on an island.

It’s tough to see how unemployment can affect people in so many ways.  I don’t know how my dad dealt with it.  I’m sure my mom was the rock behind him.  I just hope everyone will find some strength to get through this.

Ashes to Ashes

I attended a funeral recently.  The person who passed was the mother of a casual friend.  I didn’t know the mom or the family.  This friend is a close friend of my sister in law and they had grown up together.  There were some touching stories told of the mom who came to Canada from Scotland.  She loved Canada and was proud of her Scottish heritage.  By all accounts she was a strong woman who made a lot of friends, enjoyed her sherry (a large glass) each night, had an incredible memory and loved to dance.

At the conclusion of the service, the minister said when we pass, we leave something of us behind.  The lives we have touched, the memories we have created, the friends we have made – essentially a life well lived.  We stood, watched a Scottish bagpiper played Amazing Grace and led the casket out to the hearse.

And while I don’t mean to dive into some self pity moment, I wonder what people will say at my funeral.  Whose lives have I touched?  Oh well, that’s not for me to worry about now I suppose.  Do you folks think about this at all?

Driving Like An Angel

In an attempt to save some money, I downloaded an app from my car insurance company.  It monitors my driving for 100 days and 1,000 kilometers.  At the end of that period, it’ll calculate if my driving habits warrant a decrease in my premiums.  I get a score for each trip.

So for the past month, I’ve been driving like an angel on caffeine.  Cars race past me because I don’t accelerate fast enough.  Despite my efforts, my scores so far has been miserable.  I’ve only had 1 perfect trip.  The app penalizes me for moderate and hard acceleration, hard turns, moderate braking and hard braking.  My car isn’t exactly a race car.  It’s frustrating because some of the merger lanes in the highways I use are short.  So I have to quickly merge into traffic.  It somehow nailed me for moderate acceleration when I was caught up in a long traffic jam.  I even got penalized for making a hard turn on a very quiet suburban street.  I’ve been making improvements on the turns and braking.  But not the moderate acceleration.   It’s just frustrating.

The only good news is that no matter how bad the score is, I won’t get penalized for it.

So if you see some slowpoke in front of you driving with his imaginary driving teacher, that could be me.

Growing Old

“How old are you Matt?”  asked my new student.  She’s a precocious 6 years old girl who surprised me with how well she reads.

“I’m a thousand years old,” I answered.  She giggled.

But these days I do feel a thousand years old.  I have foot problems and I don’t want to take cortisone shots yet.  My chiropractor says my back is uneven, one side is a bit higher than the other.  The joint on my thumbs by my wrist still aren’t 100%.  Yesterday morning, I woke up with stabbing shoulder pains. Ugh.

She challenged me to Jenga (that game with wooden blocks that tumble if you take out the wrong one).  I don’t like that game is the noise it makes when it tumbles.  The entire room goes silent as they stare at me.  And it’s always me.

When I played it with her, I pull out those wooden blocks very slowly.  This drives my new student nuts.  So I do it even slower to bug her.  I told her we should glue or tape these blocks together so they don’t fall.  “No!”

“How about if I just take it from the top?”


She won and gave me the choice of 3 challenges.

  1.  Do the splits.
  2.  Do a cartwheel.
  3. Do a pike.

I pleaded for mercy.  Thankfully she let me off but not before demonstrating how easy it is to do all 3.

As my cousin told me, growing old is not for the weak.



Food and Friendship

Chris, an old friend from Xanga, and his husband Tawn were in town this past week. They first flew to US to visit friends and family, then to Montreal, before spending a few days in Toronto.  I’ve known Chris for many years although we never met until 2016 when I was in Bangkok.  He and Tawn were gracious hosts even though they had just flown back from Europe and were recovering from jet lag.

There was a bit of a heatwave in Toronto although Montreal was even hotter.  They only had a few days here but they managed to squeeze in quite a bit.  I’m grateful to grab some meals with them. IMG_0017

It was nice to walk around Toronto with them and to have a few good meals too.

Souffle from Hanabusa Cafe.


Dinner from R&D restaurant.

Waffles and Fried Chicken – chicken was very moist and well seasoned.


Mac and Cheese (with smoked cheese, Indonesian breadcrumb and satay sauce) – this was quite good.


Fried Rice with ground pork and chicharron, this was so nicely done.


Slow cooked octopus (charred on the outside but tender on the inside)



Pork belly with barley risotto.  This added about 2″ to my waistline.  IMG_7500

Friendship and food go together so well.