An ideal

I hadn’t planned on writing today, but I was sorting through some of the miscellaneous papers on my desk and came across a magazine ad that has a photo I completely love (below). Not only is it a really terrific photograph on its own, but there’s more to it. In a way, it represents something I’m looking for. Certainly you’ve heard me bitch, whine, and complain in these pages about not being in a relationship, and that’s certainly part of it.

What it’s not about is an attractive woman naked in a bathtub so I can run in there and have sex with her. It’s far more domestic…more like what I might see if I were to go into the bathroom for Tylenol or something. Without a word, I’d get my medicine and stray over there to plant a kiss on her cheek before leaving again. It’s just such a beautifully homey and comfortable scene, especially with my own embellishment added.

Someday, my friends. Someday. She’s out there.

Image ©2000 SC Johnson

Red Light Reverie

The bleached dirt shoulders.
The patched road, sagging
from blistering heat and tires.
And the thinnest scent of tar

Surrounded on both sides by ditches,
holding back the enthusiastic greenery

That was the scene as we blasted by on that empty road
in my big sister’s boyfriend’s reddest red Firebird

Weekend after weekend, year after year,
my sister would always take me
down those back roads
to the beach

That strip of sand
between lake and land
would hold me all day

…I remember so clearly…

As I catch the scent of tar
in January
at a red light
twenty years later

Rush through time

I’m making a CD of mixed Rush songs and I’m really glad that I decided to do this. I haven’t been listening to the variety of CDs that I normally do and somehow only the last two Rush CDs have made it into the rotation lately. Heck, I can’t even remember the last time I listened to Signals or Grace Under Pressure. It’s been way too long since they’ve taken a turn in the CD player’s tray.

I ended up taking a less well-known song I like off of each studio CD (except their first CD as well as Caress of Steel) and burning them in chronological order. It made for a very interesting listen as I ‘proofed’ the resulting disc in my stereo’s CD player.

When I was much younger, there was a Sam the Record Man store downtown and every Thursday they would have an ad in the local paper. It would have six albums that were on sale, three that were really on sale, and one that was practically being given away. My dad would always buy the cheapest one, which I remember as being priced at 99¢ then later $1.99 and any of the others that we’d say was good.

In 1981, Rush’s Moving Pictures appeared in the ad and either it was the week’s ‘give away’ album or was recommended to my dad. We went down early Saturday morning as always, and dad parked and waited in the car as I went in with the ad (selected albums circled) to buy the records. We always went pretty early because the ‘give away’ album and sometimes a few of the others would sell out before the end of the day. Supplies were indeed limited!

I don’t remember the first time I heard the album but I do know I liked it. I recorded it on a cassette (as I did with everything I listened to more than a few times) and still remember listening to it again and again. I was definitely hooked. I quickly learned that the cooler kids at school (I was in grade eight) liked Rush so they were my ticket to acceptance in that group. I wasn’t really embraced but I think that acceptance gave me the courage to talk to, and be friendly with, a lot of people that I never would’ve even approached otherwise.

The next year I started in high school and although I was definitely one of your more nerdy students, I got along well with just about every social strata. I think that’s one of the reasons I enjoyed high school so much. The only groups I didn’t get along well with were a group of bitchy girls, and a group of Italian guys. Both groups thought they were god’s gift to the world. However, both groups were small so it was no big loss.

And every year or two, Rush would swing through Toronto and Buffalo on tour and we’d mostly catch both shows but certainly see one. The first tour I saw was Signals, have missed the Moving Pictures tour by just a few weeks, and I’ve seen every one since. I haven’t seen any other band nearly as often and I really wouldn’t have it any other way.

Since I first heard their music when I was 14, Rush’s music has been a part of my life and I do believe it has had a significant effect beyond providing a little enjoyment. Their releases and tours have gotten further and further apart in the last decade, but I don’t begrudge them that. They’re all in their 40s now and one member in particular has suffered two personal tragedies that would break many people. Even if they never come out with another album or tour again, their music will remain and it will hold a very special place to me as far as music goes. It’s not only because of their dedication and craftsmanship, but also because it was a backdrop to the events of the last twenty years of my life.

For that I’ll always be grateful.

Photos ©1984 Anthem Group.

Death, taxes, and banks

Banks are like death. No one likes them, but we’re all stuck with them and know more about them than we’d ever hope.

Two years ago Loblaws came out with something that very few grocery stores have. Banking services! President’s Choice Financial (PCF) had everything going for it: No service fees at all except for rarely used things like money orders and such. That on its own is an eye-opener! I decided to give it a try.

Within a few months I had my first problem. An attempt to withdraw $350 from a PCF bank machine failed. The next attempt succeeded, but unfortunately both succeeded as far as the bank was concerned. I was disappointed in how long it took to get it straightened out, but I figured that everyone is entitled to a mistake.

Things went okay for almost two years but in the first four weeks of 2000 all hell broke loose. My transaction report informed me that I’d paid a $153 to Toronto Water. Of course I don’t pay a water bill, and I sure as heck don’t live in Toronto! What really gave me pause was that a week after reporting the problem (and being assured it would be taken care of within a day or two), I was told that the money wasn’t returned to me because Toronto Water hadn’t reimbursed the bank. The way I see it, I didn’t screw up so that money should be returned to me in the time that it took to update my account. It took three weeks. For frig’s sakes!

At the same time, $100 with withdrawn from my account with no explanation or notification other than that it was a “debit memo.” A week later it reappeared as a “credit memo” with just as little explanation.

The straw that broke the camel’s back was that my January rent cheque was returned NSF even though the funds were in the account. I was told that I made bank machine deposits, the first $300 was available immediately and the remainder took five days to clear. What I found was that even though I made two deposits in one day, only $300 of the total was available to me. I could get no explanation for why what I was told was different than what I found in practice. That cost me an extra $36 in interest and NSF charges so I decided that the lack of service charges in no way made up for the complete lack of confidence I had in PCF.

I’ve since returned to the Royal Bank and paying for a $9.50/month service package that serves my needs is such a relief. I dealt with the Royal Bank for about six years before switching to PCF and the Royal Bank has never made any mistakes as bad as even PCF’s most minor slip ups.

Just say no to President’s Choice Financial. You sometimes do get what you pay for.


Last Thursday I journeyed out to the wilds of Dunrobin to visit my former housemates, Gord, Kelly, and Jamie (the latter pictured above). They shared their house with me for four years…except for Jamie since she joined the household two years after I did. You’d think that would give me bathroom priority but it didn’t always work out that way!

Since Jamie was 2½ when I moved out two years ago, she has no memory of my living in what today serves as her playroom and mom’s sewing room. I took it upon myself to make sure that she doesn’t forget me again by calling more often and bugging them to let me visit. I think my efforts have met with uneven results to this point. Though she couldn’t remember my name when I arrived, I think she recognised me from my last visit. I knew that more work was required on my part when as she said grace before dinner, she stopped, gestured toward me, and quietly asked her mom, “Mommy, what’s his name again?” But that’s okay by me, two or three weeks are a long time to the young.

I’m not a girl so Jamie took it upon herself to let me in on some of the secrets that have been denied me all these years. I hope she doesn’t get in trouble for it! As I sat quietly and listened (and held the nail polish bottle) she explained to me that she had to put on some nail polish and lipstick because I was there. She explained that one must look nice when company comes calling and also when going out to parties in the evening. She also applied some pretty stickers to the back of her hands! After she was all gussied up, she vogued for a bit (see above) and by then it was time to start dinner.

Dinner, as tradition often dictates when I visit, was tacos. They’re especially good at Chez Greig because rather than simply baking the shells and then making the tacos to eat, Gord goes to the trouble of loading the tacos with meat and cheese, then broiling them to ready the shells and melt the cheese at the same time. It results in a less brittle shell and there’s nothing better than having the cheese melted. I rarely go to the extra trouble myself, but many hands make for light work. I’m in charge of the meat preparation and while the cheese isn’t assigned to any one person, it just gets done anyway. Even though Kelly doesn’t like tacos, she sometimes grates the cheese … she thinks we don’t know it’s merely a ploy to get near the cheese without suspicion so she can eat some! This time however, Jamie seems to have taken after mother.

Afterwards it was bedtime and Jamie asked if I would read her bedtime story. I was happy to do so and enjoyed the tale of Knight George and how he defeated the evil dragon. It seems that even knights are a little more sensitive and politically correct these days as there was no swordplay or blasts of flame. George used guile and a bit of magic to defeat, but not slay, the dragon. Afterwards Jamie told me that I absolutely could not give her a kiss goodnight. Taking advantage of George’s lesson, I planted a stealthy peck on her cheek and made a quick escape, wishing her a good night.

You don’t live with someone unless you think they’re at least decent people, and after four years I found that Kelly and Gord far exceed mere decency. I don’t see them as often as I like, but they remain very good friends of mine. And of course that applies to Jamie and her soon-to-be sibling!