Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

Rhymes of a Mountain Man

February 22, 2014

Today I received a book of rhymes in the mail, or better yet a booklet of rhymes, that I had ordered online from Purpora Books in Comox British Columbia.

The booklet had been written by my great grand father Henry James Blurton who came from England and became a pretty well known outdoorsman during his time and even managed to have part of a river named after himself.

Blurton CreekTo me, it seems like he was a renaissance man of the backwoods, because besides publishing at least two books of rhymes, he was also a recognized photographer and had even exhibited his pictures of the Canadian wilderness at the Wembley Exhibition in England in 1925

Stamp

Besides writing rhymes, Henry also wrote more technical pieces about mining and prospecting and had been a game warden at one time known for being strict but fair. Once, at a dinner, he was said to have commented how the wolf, which was really out-of-season venison, was done to a turn, knowing full well what it was.

Amazingly, he lived this rugged life after being educated in England at St. Edwards College and attending prep school at St. Peter’s School in London.

RMM CoverSo the story goes, he met the queen once when she was visiting Candana.

I came to learn all of this because for the last year or so I have been trying to track down my Canadian ancestry, of which I have two lines through my mother. First, my mother’s mother being 100% English by way of British Columbia and then my mother’s father whose mother was 100% French, born in Port Felix Nova Scotia with the maiden name Boudrow (Boudreau).

Now, posessing this little booklet, I actually feel a connection to my English great grandfather much moreso than I did before it got here. The piece clearly looks as though some individual had laboriously typed it out on a manual typewriter and I imagine that it was he.

I  picture him personally typing out each copy in a snow covered cabin, sitting at his desk somewhere off in the woods of British Columbia and now, almost 70 years later, here I am scanning one of the documents into my compter while sitting at my desk in the suburbs of New York City.

How could he have ever imagined that?

There is a lot more to the story that I want to share, but I’ll save that for a later date. First I want to read this booklet of rhymes very carefully and I still want to track down whatever other writings, photographs and articles I may be able to collect.

The Okanagan Historical Society has a number of articles about him that I hope to research as well and both the Harvard and Yale libraries have full copies of the Society’s annual magazine going back to the 1920’s. It may take a while but I’ll get copies of them all.

If you stumble upon this post becuase you have been searching for him, or know anything about him, please do leave a comment.

Advertisements

All I Want

January 18, 2009

While listening to Joni Mitchell on Rhapsody and packing for the next trip, I was listening to her “All I Want” and heard a line that caught my attention…

The line was about how she wanted to “knit you a sweater” and I immediately thought about an old friend who once knit her boyfriend a sweater and then how she did it while she was away on a family vacation only to come home and have him dump her before she ever even gave it to him.

She told me that she never told him about the sweater until much later in life when they met each other over coffee.

Then I thought shame on the man that did that to her. Apparently women knit sweaters when they are in love and for him to do that, after that much work, was horrible.

Then I thought about another friend who just sewed her husband a Carhartt-like jacket from scratch and it looked even cooler than a real Carhartt. She said she could make one in about 30 minutes and since she’s a bit of a hippie chick that makes most of her own clothes, I tend to believe her.

I could tell that he really appreciates it because he seemed very proud when I complemented him on it!

Making another person’s clothes seems like a very nice gesture; one that is filled with love, care and uderstanding of what the other person truly wants.

Hopefully…

When the snow gets too thick, it’s not easy to fly.

December 24, 2008

As I sit here once again at O’Hare watching the snow pile up on the wings of my plane home, I have to reflect upon how lucky I am and how thankful I am for so many of life’s blessings.

Lately it’s been all too easy to forget what this time of year is really about when the economy, the pressures of work and of family all accumulate like snow on the plane outside my window.

But, after thinking about what a wonderful son I have, my fantastic girlfriend, my supportive and loving family and the many great friends who I am so lucky to know, the snow on my wings begins to melt and everything seems possible.

So, as I hopefully head home today and spend time with many of the people in my life that I care so much about, I want to float a prayer that everyone has a splendid Christmas this year and every year to come.

And, if there is someone in your family or a former friend that you don’t get along with, get over it! Make the first move, forgive and forget, apologize, do whatever it takes to make amends and tell them you love them.

Life is too short and getting along is so much nicer.
 
Merry Christmas!

Sadness Abounds

November 15, 2008

Two weeks ago Kerry’s dad died suddenly.

The void is starting to settle in.

He had apparently been having mild cardiac distress for at least a week or two.

So they told Kerry’s family when it was all said and done.

He went to his regular doctor on Tuesday and was sent home being treated for an ulcer.

An ulcer?

The next evening, still uncomfortable, he spent a wrestles night on the bathroom floor sleeping near a heat register trying to stay warm.

The following morning, not wanting to make a fuss and get an ambulance, he let his wife drive him to the hospital emergency room where he proceeded to have a massive heart attack.

One thing leading to another, he underwent triple bypass surgery, lived for two days and passed away Saturday night having been kept alive just long enough to receive last rights.

And in what seems like an instant, he was gone.

No real warning other than not wanting to drink anything with carbonation at a family event the weekend before.

Is this a testament to a man who couldn’t be bothered?

Is this the attitude of a Marine?

Is this what happens when you’re too afraid of the doctor and growing old to face the harsh realities of what happens as we age?

Whatever it is, it sucks.

He will be dearly missed by everyone, including me.

http://obits.nj.com/StarLedger/DeathNotices.asp?Page=LifeStory&PersonID=119705237

September Update

September 8, 2008

I’m back in the air with five hours to kill coming home from Los Angeles thinking about what to write.

The things that are forefront in my mind are how I am going to find the next big fish to slay with my tax minimization harpoon as well as what fun things I hope to do with Alex and Kerry this fall.

Weekends with Alex will certainly have a singular tone; namely Football. Having been asked to be the team photographer, I need to practice at keeping my lens on the ball as it is snapped, faked, handed off or passed. Not an easy task.

Last season all I really cared about was getting shots of Alex wrestling with his defensive counterparts and catching a few candid shots of him doing something on the sideline.

Kerry and I are planning on going to Rome this fall having been talked out of Brussels by my father who feels as though there is a higherarchy to life’s travel destinations and according to him, Rome is far higher on the list than a city who’s symbol is a urinating child.

I have nothing against Rome, but to me Brussels was going to be a chance to do the Netherlands, a bit of Germany and perhaps a few days again in Paris which I loved almost as much as London.

Kerry and I will also make our annual pilgrimage to Florida using the airfare from last year when she became violently ill while boarding the plane and we had to do a last minute cancellation and get home as fast as possible. We have done the Southeastern coast of Florida from the Keys up to Stuart at least once a winter and one year we went three times. Getting away with nothing to do but be thankful that we are out of the cold is very nice.

Being early September right now and still very hot, it’s hard to imagine that we’ll be anxious to head south anytime soon. Yet, when the first leaves hit the ground and the furnace turns on, I’m sure the reservations will be made shortly thereafter.

My goals for Alex and myself are to get into New York City for a play or a museum. Although we did make it to The Museum of Natural History this past spring, he has not gotten to go into the City nearly enough, given our close proximity. I owe it to my father for giving me a great knowledge of New York and a comfort level that my ex never shared and that she is leery of him developing.

A trip to Disney might be in the works since Alex’s cousin seems to go two or three times a year and Alex’s mother is beginning to feel a bit of competition developing between her son and her nephew. If I can use that to my advantage to get him to go, I’m all for going along for the trip, even though I stay outside the Park while they all stay inside. Yes, we travel together on vacations but it’s all for him. Thankfully Kerry is the most understanding and accepting woman that I have ever met when it comes to dealing with my son and my ex.

Other things that I am looking forward to as the summer wanes is to keep working on the ol’ house since moving won’t be an option for a few more years. Now is the time to get it ready so as the five year plan unfolds and as the market turns around we will be ready to strike and move out west a dozen miles or so to get a bigger piece of property.

We certainly won’t be moving until Alex is on the verge of driving. Being close to him is mission critical.

We have been very fortunate to have had Kerry’s cousin Eric doing odd jobs around the house while I’ve had a little extra money and he has had a little extra time. I’m hoping to keep him working on some more projects like building a shed and finishing the other half of our basement. Until the furnace is ready to be replaced I have been reticent to redo the other half knowing that the new unit will probably be the size of a shoebox compared to the clunker that just won’t die.

Eric is Kerry’s uber-talented cousin who at 42 is still trying to get his musical career off the ground. I built him a website at www.mremoon.com but I’m waiting for him to get me some content so I can flesh it out. Those musicians!

The good news is that for as long as he does not make it big, which he undoubtedly will, he’s often available between his higher paying construction jobs to work for us for a modest wage along with room and board. The late night musical jam sessions on our deck singing Neil Young, Jackson Brown, The Grateful Dead along with many others will always be fond memories for me. When he is rich and famous, I hope he still wants to come over and play.

This is enough for now. As I mentioned in my recent post, I have been hard pressed to write anything lately. I’m forcing myself to write this drivel in hopes that I might think of something more fascinating to write about that actually gets the counter on the blog-roll to spin a few more times again.

Football Season Is Here!

September 3, 2008

Football season is back and amazingly I can actually say that I am thrilled about it.

I’m even in a football pool this year.

As a child I played football for one year and I was dreadful at it and hated ever since. I won’t elaborate about how and why I was such a rotten player, but I was.

My son however seems to like it and is quite good at it. He memorizes his plays with ease, he seems to be well like and respected by his coaches and teammates and he genuinely looks forward to playing.

He doesn’t like this thing they do at practice called the “Dirty Dozen” where the coaches run them into the ground, but he manages to get through it and since his position is not one requiring great speed, the coaches go easy on him.

He plays Offensive Tackle on the 5th grade team and seems to be built for the job. Although he turned 10 only a few weeks ago he is 5’ 4” and weighs in at 155lbs+.

Chubby yes; Fat no; Just all around big!

There isn’t a kid on his team that comes close to his stature and on the opposing teams there are only the infrequent few.

The way he’s growing, I’m sure that he has a way to go.

I pray he doesn’t have some bizarre condition that turns him into an 8 foot freak but I would love to see him keep growing to 6’ 5” or more. (I’m only 5’ 11” but my dad is 6’4” and his other grandfather is 6’ 2”)

The hardest thing is to listen to the disappointment in his voice when he talks about the rules over who can carry the ball.

With some of his teammates barely 65lbs, I totally understand why.

Alas I tell him what a friend of mine who played, of all things, Offensive Tackle for the Florida Gators says, “It’s every lineman’s dream to carry the ball!”

And with that I try to explain to him that even though the fans may not cheer for him the way that they do for others, those same teammates will in turn hold him in the highest regard.

Inspiration Needed

September 3, 2008

My inspiration to write absolutely anything on this Blog has been seriously diminished.

I didn’t make it up to Cotuit once this year which has me morbidly depressed about the whole thing.

Freedom Hall has majorly stalled and I feel the need to walk Main Street from Kings Grant to Oregon in order to try and get back some spark; maybe this winter.

Besides missing Cotuit but not wanting to write about it, I haven’t felt the need to quip about anything around Westfield either. 

Furthermore, since I have not been traveling much this summer for work, my airplane writing time has been non-existent which I depend upon to put finger to keyboard and peck this stuff out. (Right now I am on a trans-con to Los Angeles for a week.)

There is some good news to report however.

The primary reason that I have not had much time to write is because I have been very busy this summer with my son. Nothing takes away depression for me like hanging out with him.

We have been spending every free day cruising the Northern parts of the Barnegat Bay on his Boston Whaler and the Southern parts on my father’s Angler. We have made it out on the water almost every weekend which is far more than I had made it out over the last 20 years.

From that perspective life is great!

In fact yesterday my 10 year old son backed his whaler from the dock, took his grandmother and me for a quick zip around Kettle Creek and returned us to the dock with only the slightest coaching from me as he glided in, eased the engine into reverse and landed us like a professional.

I was beaming.

The week before we had taken my father’s Angler out of Egg Harbor and into the open Atlantic where it was rough with large rollers and whitecaps. To my delight, he liked it as much as I do.

Since one of my main objectives in life is to give him something that is at least close to the experience that I had spending summers on the water in Cotuit, I feel that I am accomplishing my goal.

He is becoming an excellent boater, albeit not a sailor.

Teenage Angst Awaits

April 13, 2008

My nine year old son is still as innocent and loving as he was when he first starting walking and talking, but as each day passes I can see the affect of his approaching teenage years and its scary to say the least.

If he turns out to have the same independent DNA that I had when I was a teenager, I need to enjoy each and every day that his loving ways continue and hope that his metamorphosis stays in abeyance as long as possible.

Can it last?

Is it inevitable?

Eating lunch together yesterday at Friendly’s, we were sitting next to a mother and a son who were debating the importance of his finishing high school.

Listening to his irrational arguments, his misguided priorities and the love in his mother’s voice, which obviously grated on him like a rusty cheese grater, I was taken back to my own teenage years when I’m sure that I gave my own loving parents the same heartache and disappointment.

To my surprise, Alex leaned over to me and whispered, “That’ll probably be me in a few years”, as if he knew that his time to test his parents’ love and patience would soon be at hand.

Alex could tell that this young man was nuts, yet inevitably he’ll fall prey to the same disease I’m sure. The question is simply to what degree?

Thank God that my parents and I survived that turbulent time. 

My parents had my three sisters to contend with as well.

Through their love and unfailing determination to see us through, we all managed to come out the other end of adolescence a little battered, but no worse for the wear.

I can only hope to do as well.

Horton Knows Exactly Who!

March 30, 2008

horton.jpg 

My son and I like to go the movies and do so at least once a month if not more.

This evening we went to see “Horton Hears a Who!”

It was a fun movie but I suspect that by the time he’s ten, he’ll be too embarrassed to be seen in public watching a Dr. Seuss movie.

I have never been a huge fan of Dr. Seuss, finding it a bit silly, but I will say that this movie made me feel differently as it led my son to ask some questions on the way home making me regret the small fortune that a movie costs nowadays at least a little bit less.

One of the themes of the story, for those of you who do not already know, is that the land of Whoville exists on a speck of dust clinging to a clover and only Horton knows they are there.

Horton, with an unquestioning sense of responsibility, holds the clover in his trunk and protects it fervently from all harm.

The problems arise because nobody in Horton’s world believes in Whoville and nobody in Whoville believes in Horton.

As odd as this may sound, the story begs the question about ourselves, our planet, our solar system, our universe and our God and my son picked up on all of this with the active imagination of a nine year old.

I won’t start to describe all of the parallels but they are in there.

Needless to say, my son’s fascination with these unanswerable questions gave us a great opportunity to talk and for me to articulate what I truly believe.

Behind all of the rhymes, there really is genius in this story.

Helen’s Chicken Soup

February 18, 2008

Far be it from me to try and turn this blog into a recipe site but by sheer coincidence Kerry cooked a chicken yesterday so today we are going to make some chicken soup using my mother’s recipe.

Like so many times in the past, I gave my mom a call and she rattles the recipe off from the top of her head, this time as she and my dad are out “tootling” around Tuckerton.

  • Start by pulling off any extra meat from the Chicken Carcass to be used in the finished soup. (If you have too much for the soup, make chicken salad!)
  • Put the Chicken Carcass in a pot and cover it with water.
  • Add one Onion cut in half (not chopped or diced)
  • Add ample amount of cut Celery and Carrots
  • Add one Garlic Clove
  • Add fresh Parsley
  • Add Kosher Salt to taste
  • Add Pepper to taste
  • Simmer for one hour
  • Strain contents of pot through strainer and place broth in separate bowl and refridgerate
  • Wait until fat solidifies on top of broth
  • Remove fat and reintroduce contents
  • Prepare pasta or rice separately and heat soup.
  • Add pasta or rice to soup.

Serve and enjoy….