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Saturday, October 28, 2017

3000 Miles!

This cloudy rainy morning I quietly walked and recorded my 3000th mile.

Honestly, I can't say that I felt like attempting to do a handstand to celebrate the event; not in the least... but I can post an image to show one.

The Oddblock Station Agent

Addendum January 26, 2018

On December 17, 2017, I quietly passed mile board 3100.

Unseasonably cold winter weather has been crimping the mileage count but I get out when those warm enough days turn up.

Some days I'm starting to feel like one of these... an old steam engine... but at least I'm not in a museum yet.


Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Grandpa's Album

One of Mom's old photos taken beside Lac Megantic in summer 1973 at a once-upon-a-time place known (avec signe en anglais) as Jim Grant's Pleasant Point. Left to right: Mary McLeod and Helen Macdonald, both of Milan, Quebec.

In this age of instant images rather than thoughtful imaginings, I find that I'm inundated with scenes of everything everywhere, real and/or unreal; I can't always discern. Many are eye-catching, personal interest related and/or curiosity invoking, but one constant eventually comes to mind, "What do I do with all these?"

That era of a using a light-sensitive film roll of 12, 24 or 26 exposures and then hoping that one certain shot comes out okay... and then finding out in a few days of course, isn't that long ago. Even my children remember those times... restlessly posing while their grandma fidgeted with her then ancient Kodak Instamatic... and then weeks later seeing hands, feet and/or tops of heads cut off.

Anyway, times have changed and continue to change, and today that one special shot may come with dozens of clone-like variations taken imperceptible fractions of a millisecond apart. Remarkably, these digital scenes are of amazingly good quality... better than film I think.

Regardless, I get dozens of these images sent to me in addition to the ones I take myself or I've download from on-line, however, that one question remains, "What do I do with all these?"

I suppose the answer is the same, and then I do as a grandparent has always done. Stick them in albums and then show them, with some bragging of course, to anyone and everyone who makes the mistake of revealing the remotest hint of curiosity to see what's between the covers. 

The variation today is post them on-line anywhere and everywhere with the other billions of images already there first... and maybe someone somewhere may actually take glance at something... but don't try holding your breath while waiting for that to happen.

The Oddblock Station Agent

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Journey's End!

The name of this post sounds like a former motel chain but regardless, the name fits well here because mile 2770 was walked on August 02, 2017.

As I've mentioned in other postings, walking is an integral part of cardiac rehabilitation programs that hospitals provide to heart attack survivors. I know because I'm a cardiac arrest survivor who went through an excellent rehab program, and walking became an integral part of my recovery. I continue with my daily walking as part of my effort and struggle with heart disease. 

If you're wondering, unfriendly dogs, hidden skunks (have been inches away but never sprayed though) and ice-covered sidewalks are probably the worst but not-too-often headaches to contend with.

"The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forever more."
(Psalm 121:8)
Daily walking does indeed involve constant going out and coming in.

 All are post-heart attack miles recorded using the Nike app on my iPhone.

If I was actually able to make the foot journey, this is where I would have started... Union Station near Front & Yonge.

Started: November 22, 2013

Decades ago my first ever visit to Toronto was through Union Station to visit the CN Tower. I can't say that my first impression of Toronto has ever changed though. 

Likewise, if I was arriving at my Vancouver destination, then I would have crossed Burrard Street Bridge and ended my journey at Kitsilano Beach.

Finished: August 02, 2017

Quite fitting a choice I think, because once upon a time I lived in Kitsilano and walked over this bridge many times on the way home from work.

A few of the miles recorded in this journey were actually walked in Kitsilano when Kie and I visited there in 2015. 

Following are a few distance stats over the route I would have used but I can't say how long it took me to walk the equivalent of each leg.

Toronto Sudbury 256.5
Sudbury Thunder Bay 634.4
Thunder Bay Winnipeg 439.6
Winnipeg Calgary 831.3
Calgary Vancouver 608.2

Total 2770

Month with the most recorded miles walked: February 2014 - 10.7 miles
Month with the least recorded miles walked: April 2017 - 91.16 miles

I suppose the most logical question now is to ask, "What's next?"

Honestly, I have no idea but I'll keep on walking as long as I'm able to.

Deo Gratias

The Oddblock Station Agent

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Canada at 150

Happy Canada Day!!

Do fifty years a difference make?

Once upon a time the symbol for Canada's 100th year.

In the lead-up to Canada's 150th birthday, I just didn't see or feel that same tremendous sense of celebratory anticipation that July 1, 1967, genuinely stirred-up in Canadians, including those years in the lead-up to the actual centennial date.

In the early 1960's, this country really came together and pulled out all the stops to celebrate Canada's 100th birthday.

Here's an example...

Try to imagine private enterprise doing something like this today.

Remember these?

First, you'd have to be old enough to remember.

One can only wonder how many millions of these are squirreled-away in the hope that they may one day be valuable. Not likely ever in my opinion... and it won't buy today what it could 50 years ago.

Is that right?

This unchanged and enduring Canadian symbol has been around longer than the Canadian flag.

The dollar bill may have disappeared along with most passenger trains but the CN noodle is still around.

The more things change the more they stay the same...

but maybe they shouldn't stay the same

Canada's 2017 PM
Canada's 1967 PM

What was that line about history rhyming but not repeating itself?

Never mind.

Lines that rhyme don't necessarily make for good prose and poetry.


Happy Canada Day!

The Oddblock Station Agent

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

2500 Miles!

This morning while walking with Kie to the GO Train station I passed the 2500 mile board in my journey.

In my continuing walking journey going nowhere, today I would be in Pritchard, BC, a name on the map about 24 miles east of Kamloops, BC.

Becoming complacent, yawning and then with ennui thinking, "Just another hundred miles" is at time tempting, but the fact is each mile is a challenge to accomplish. 

Some days I just don't feel like walking, but as a worst-case scenario heart attack survivor, I push myself to keep going. I have seen other cardiac patients in the hospitals, people who may never be able to walk a mile again, or lead a normal life, and maybe never be able to go home again.

God has been generous to me, and I am reminded of this every single mile.

Deo gratias,

The Oddblock Station Agent

Addendum May 16, 2017

Yesterday afternoon I quietly passed mile post 2600 in my continuing journey to nowhere, but if I was still heading west, then according to the map I would be in the Fraser Canyon about 5 miles east of Spence's Bridge, BC.

This past April I walked 91.1 miles, the first time I've been able to achieve more than 90 miles in a single month. The cooler than normal spring weather certainly helped.

Addendum July 05, 2017

Today I quietly passed mile post 2700 in my ongoing trek to nowhere, but continuing as if I was walking to Vancouver, then according to the map I would be exiting the Fraser Canyon into the Fraser Valley about 2 miles east of Ruby Creek, BC.

Vancouver is now less than 100 miles distant, a destination that now seems achievable instead of next to impossible.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Waiting for that Building to Fall Down

Once upon a time... this event actually did occur, but so long ago now that the story can legitimately begin with once upon a time... 

Anyway, I was a patient in the Royal Victoria Hospital in 1958. I'm no longer certain of the time of year but I seem to recall the season was spring, after all the snow melted but before leaves came out.

This was the image of the Royal Vic that I recalled seeing when I looked out windows - thinking those were stairs leading to the top of a mysterious castle - and of course wishing I could climb up there to explore.

At the time of my hospital stay I was just short of my fourth birthday and I required what was always referred to as a hernia operation. Of course most details about that visit have completely faded from memory but a few odd tidbits still hang around in the cobwebs.

I do not recall being afraid or upset about being alone and away from home; I was just there because I had no choice.

My hospital bed was in the middle of some type of large ward because I remember seeing all the other kids - mostly "big kids" to me. Some were not able to get out of bed and others had tubes and bottles hooked up to them. A few others had bandages and one older boy in particular had bandages on his neck and throat; he was unable able to speak. Another girl in a corner seemed to be very ill in bed but one day she seemed a little better and someone had tied her long dark hair into braids with ribbons.

An astonishing last-minute prior to posting internet find! This 1950's scene was actually recorded in Montreal's Royal Victoria Hospital and is very much the way I recall that children's ward.

Back in 1958 parents were not able to visit and stay in the hospitals with their children the way they are able to do so today. I recall that all of us there were alone by ourselves most of the time except of course for nurses and helpers. This said, I do remember my paternal grandmother and mother visiting but not for very long.

A few days later when I was able to get out of bed, I found a small tricycle and remember riding it around in the ward, then in the hallways to the elevators. That elevator had an operator and that elderly gentlemen kindly but firmly refused to let me ride the trike on to the elevator.

But after all these years, one particular mystery has stuck in my mind.

I encountered a man who was alone in one of the hallways; he was silently staring out of a window. I had no real idea why he was there or what was attracting his attention, so I asked him.

He told me he was waiting for that building across the street to fall down.

I remember being absolutely astonished by what he had said and of course fully believed it too. Yes, I then spent some time watching and waiting for that building to fall, which of course it never did. I clearly recall repeatedly asking him when the building was going to fall because nothing was happening. He just kept telling to wait and watch so I would not miss it.

Impatient I suppose, minutes later I was running around a-la Chicken Little and telling everyone I saw, nurses, patients, strangers, everyone what was going to happen. Of course no one believed me. 

Yeah... Chicken Little does exist.

Anyway I never saw that man again and I quickly forgot all about him and that incident until these many decades later. Again, I wonder why he was there.

As a parent I've decided that he was likely a father with a child who was ill in the hospital; probably shouldering that heavy, awful and unwanted burden of waiting. Perhaps he was in anguish and despair at being unable to do anything about whatever circumstances he may have been wishing were different.

Of course I have no knowledge whatsoever what may have happened to him and his waiting or whether or not all turned out okay for him. I shall never know.

When I started looking for pictures of the Royal Victoria Hospital for this post, I had no idea the hospital had closed.

My vignette was not prompted by and has nothing to do with the closing. Simply coincidence and a short story to tell... the type that are the ramblings of an old man getting older.

The Oddblock Station Agent


Monday, February 6, 2017


Lilac was never a source of usable wood/lumber that I ever considered until three years ago when I had a conversation with Mike Chase, a professional wood turner displaying his skills at the Farmington Fair. He enthusiastically spoke to me about the merits of lilac as one of the best woods for turning and he suggested I give the wood a try.

Three years intervened before I was able to revisit Farmington, Maine, and have another conversation with Mr. Chase. In our subsequent discussion about woods and wood turning, I mentioned our previous conversation about lilac but had been unable to source a piece. 

Upon hearing that, Mr. Chase generously offered me one of the two lilac squares that he had with him. I accepted his kind gift and promised to get back to him with the results, which I have since done. This said, I decided to add this update to my previous post, simply because lilac is unusual.

Surprisingly, to me anyway and flowers aside, hundreds of images and postings appear on Google relating to the wood itself... meaning that I am not adding anything new or profound.

Lilac is indeed an excellent wood for turning. Yes, wood from that same bush/small tree that flowers every spring.

The lilac square that I accepted had a couple of cracks and soft spots so I allowed it to acclimatize for about a month before working with it.

The checking cracks did not extend deep into the wood and one soft spot (embedded decay) is the only remaining unusual characteristic. Most may simply label that soft spot a defect but I prefer to see it as an unusual characteristic unique to this piece of wood. True, some spots may cause problems or tear-out, but in this case it did not, as the above photo shows. 

I've since completed turning the piece round just to try the wood but haven't decided what to do with it. I suppose in the back of my mind I'll think about using it in a walking stick; I make those and this piece will be ideal for that.

Conclusion: lilac is indeed an excellent wood for turning, one of the best I've worked with. 

The Oddblock Station Agent