Third Alien Shore

In a struggle to be happy and free

Drystone Wall

Page 320 of 322


A week ago Saturday my mother and father celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary. It was a surprisingly warm and sunny November afternoon that I hope they’ll remember for a long time. I know I’ll never forget it. It was, by and large, a very happy day and things went very well. My mother told me that their wedding day was a Saturday as well, but it couldn’t have been more different. It was cold, dark, and rainy. My nieces were shocked to hear that there are no wedding pictures. Mom and dad didn’t have the money for that.

My sister made arrangements for us to have dinner at a fancy restaurant in town. She was great. Mom and dad each got a single white rose when my sister and brother-in-law came over that afternoon. They brought a bottle of Champaign so we could toast the occasion before all heading over to the restaurant. My sister, brother-in-law, their two children, myself, and my parents all raised a glass. It seemed a tremendously inadequate gesture as most people there wouldn’t have been born had they not married.

We met all three of my brother’s children at the restaurant, along with the girls’ fiancées. There, the twelve of us ate to far past full, and then pored over the desert menu to figure out the best way to top it all off. But the surprises weren’t done yet. My two nephews and I went down to my sister’s car. They each carried a dozen red roses, and I carried a goofy balloon bouquet. As we walked in the entrance, I locked eyes on my mom in particular because I wanted to see her reaction when she noticed us. Her eyes opened wide and I saw her mouth, “oh my god!” It was priceless. Mom and dad each got an arm-full of roses that, with the two white roses, totalled fifty … one for each year.

My sister’s really good at that kind of thing. My parents were very touched and so pleased to see us all there with them. It’s been a very long time since I’ve seen my mother cry from happiness. I love them both very dearly and wouldn’t have missed it for the world. A five-hour drive was a small price to pay.

You’ll note that I said the day was a very happy one, by and large. My brother decided he wanted nothing to do with the occasion. My sister suggested that since he was the oldest, he might want to do the planning. His answer was that he wasn’t going to be dictated to and wanted nothing to do with it. Of course I never believed he really wouldn’t show. Yea he has issues with my sister and me, but as I suggested, the day wasn’t about my sister, me, or him. It was about our parents. But what do I know? He didn’t come. Even without them having to say so, I could tell that my parents were both very hurt. He sent a gift with his daughter, but given the circumstances, I only saw it making things worse.

I really can’t believe that he has half a clue how much damage he did that day.

Regardless, I’m not going to end this on a sour note. We all had a great time. Since all the grandchildren were there, my oldest niece had the presence of mind to suggest that they should all get into a picture. Who knows when all the cousins will be together at the same time again? They’ve all grown into young men and women. It was the very next morning that my brother’s middle child brought Jena Marie into the world, starting the next generation of the family.

A lightening

I’m going to try to lighten up a bit. Honest. Here are a few miscellaneous thoughts.

I’ve seen a number of ads and clips from various film adaptations of The Three Musketeers. The latest is The Musketeer, which opened earlier this month. I still don’t understand why everyone fights with a sword and no one in the films has a musket. Don’t they know the title?

For the ‘more money than sense’ crowd, we have Chic Dog. “Canine couture and luxury items for the ultra chic and posh pooch.”

There’s a new batch of commercials for Canada’s Walk of Fame, each profiling what I presume are this year’s inductees. This particular ad was about the abstract painter, sculptor, and graphic artist, Jean-Paul Riopelle. The phrase that caught my ear was, “He’s earned accolades here and abroad.” My twisted brain heard it as, “He’s earned accolades here, and a broad.” Clumsy phrasing, but someone gave him a woman?!

Before and after

I wrote these three paragraphs on August 28.

Again it’s been almost a week since my last entry. Maybe I need a laptop so I can write while away … yea, that’s the ticket! Of course I’m joking. The week hasn’t been very good. I’ve been concerned about money again and even though it should work out fine I still worry. Heck, I’ve done everything asked of me and either I get a cheque in the mail in a few weeks if everything goes as I’ve been told it will, or bad things will happen. Either way, there’s not a whole lot I can do about it.

Normally, I tend not to worry very much because most things that cause worry are largely out of our control anyway. It’s a very good habit to have as it cuts down on stress a great deal, but when the subject of the worry is of great importance it’s a lot harder not to worry! Tomorrow I have to go down to the rental office in my building and ask for an extension so I can pay September’s rent a week or two into the month. I know that they’ll charge me interest as a late penalty, and I’m fine with that. I’m just mortified at even the thought of asking for this because it’s something I’ve never done before. I might not be the super saver that my parents would like me to be, but I know enough not to spend the money earmarked for my rent and other bills!

I’ll just do my best to think happy thoughts for a few weeks and all should be well. Of course that’s easy to say.

Checking the dates, you can see that my plan for thinking happy thoughts didn’t altogether work. It was almost a week since the entry before and nearly two weeks until I would write another. Sometimes shit really does happen. I’m glad to be posting again, as it restores some normalcy to the day.

Yesterday’s national memorial on Parliament Hill.

My thoughts still frequently wander towards New York City, Washington DC, and where the future will take us. CNN showed footage of the first flight out of the newly re-opened Logan International, and as soon as I saw an aircraft flying across the screen, I turned away before what the announcer was saying had the time to sink in. I didn’t want to see either of those collisions again.

I was pleased to see that the Federal Government set up a web site called Canada Mourns. Canadians can read and/or leave a message to our American neighbours regarding the terrorist attacks this Tuesday. The site will be available for viewing for at least the next few months.

Memorial photo by Ottawa Citizen — Pat McGrath (AP)


The Canadian memorial service was held at noon today on Parliament Hill. It’s estimated that a hundred-thousand carpeted the lawn of the hill to see Prime Minister Chretien, U.S. Ambassador Paul Celucci, and Governor General Adrienne Clarkson speak about the tragedy, the terrible loss, and how despite the terrorist’s best efforts, we’re far from broken. Quite the contrary. I especially appreciated Ambassador Celucci’s heartfelt words describing the closeness he feels the U.S. and Canada share.

When the Governor General called for everyone to stand and observe three minutes of silence, I stood without thinking and joined the thousands downtown in spirit despite being alone in my apartment. After watching the Canadian memorial and then some of the American memorial ceremony, I switched to Space and took in the afternoon Trek line-up. I feel like I’m somehow betraying the dead and the rescuers, if I turn away. Still though, I have to do it. The continual barrage of news about this disaster pounds down my psyche and too much could lead to a really depressed mood.

Interestingly enough, I read a blurb in today’s IMDb Movie/TV News that discusses something very similar to this:

In Thailand, a psychiatrist working for the country’s Department of Mental Health, urged TV stations to stop repeating the footage of the attack on the World Trade Center, saying that it was causing stress and shock to many local people. “The stress and shock may make them forget that the incident took place far away from Thailand and that we would not be directly affected, psychiatrist Thanu Chathananon told the Bangkok Post.

I don’t think that watching makes me forget where it took place, but at the same time I’m a lot closer to it than Thailand. I mean closer in both a physical sense, and a cultural sense. Since the U.S. and Canada have cultural similarities, it would follow I’m more at risk because the attacks were based on the supposed depraved capitalist culture.

As much as it still bothers me to watch fluff on television now, I have to do it if I’m to continue functioning normally.


Still, I haven’t been able to completely accept that the Manhattan Island skyline changed tragically on Tuesday. I was there with a high school field trip in the mid-80s and we paid special attention to all the buildings and the way the island was laid out because it was urban geography that we went to study, and what better place than New York City?

Manhattan Island, from the south. Taken by your friendly author in 1985 or thereabouts.

We went up the Empire State Building our first night there and I took long exposures of the city lights, and the twin towers off to the south. Later in the trip we went inside the south tower and up onto the observation deck on the roof. I was speechless in complete wonder at both the view and that the view was from the top of a solid structure. As one of the newscasters on location reporting Tuesday’s disaster said, the WTC towers were such an icon, he expected to turn and see them standing where they have been for thirty-odd years. While I’m not there, and only visited the city twice, it’s not going to be the same without them.

That’s not to say that the city is less for their loss though. The only irreplaceable loss are the precious lives taken in the aircraft, and in and around the towers. Certainly no sane person would wish this, but the selflessness, generosity, and togetherness that has erupted since Tuesday is inspiring.

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