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Friday, October 28, 2011

Hawkweeds

Yellow Hawkweed…at least that is what the, “Field Guide to North American Wildflowers” tells me it is, and the photo in the book looks the same as these in the two photos that Kie took.

Just like the name says, this stuff is a weed. Uninvited, it only grows in one spot in the backyard during the summer. I just leave it for the few weeks it’s there and after the flowers are gone, mow that area with the rest of the lawn.
This other variety, Orange Hawkweed, does not seem to grow around here. The orange variety though is more familiar because the small orange flowers were always a familiar sight during summers in Milan and North Hatley and visits to Maine.

“Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” (Matthew 6:28-29)


The Oddblock Station Agent

A Sign of our Time



No Trespassing. That’s what the sign says. 

This photo probably indicates that I can’t… 
a)      see too well
b)      read too well
c)      understand too well
d)      all of the above.
e)      none of the above

That’s part of the problem when you get older; stuff wears out. Maybe that was the reason why I was sitting on those worn out ties that had been removed. The rusty railway line looks much the same way too. I may as well include the rocks and trees,  because they too have been around for a while.

That morning I was waiting for a train to come along…and I actually did pass a train that was travelling on this railroad and in this direction when I came here. Seems that the train couldn’t make it this far either.

One thing that I have learned over the years is that train watching is really a misnomer for this activity. Most hours are really spent track watching. I should know…I’ve seen a lot of trainless tracks over the decades. Below is a free sample.

Anyway, the good part is that railway tracks are easier to follow than animal tracks. If you don’t believe me, then give both a try and see what you think. Just remember though, don’t go and pass that sign there.

Really, I like being out here doing this. I am certain I’ll be back again, and glad to be back whenever that day comes.

Oh yes…the answer to the question: I don’t really know. Just like in school, I wasn’t paying attention.





The Oddblock Station Agent
Away from the station but maybe on the right track


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Name Really Does Say it All


If you are into woods and woodworking, then you must make a visit to this place. The name really does say it all.

This place has an amazing selection of local hardwood boards you won't find elsewhere else. If you have enough time, you can look over every board at your leisure! Their prices are very reasonable too! 

Don't forget to take a look at the local made furniture on display and for sale. Some very beautiful and unusual items are waiting to be discovered in here.

Located on the north side Highway 2 and a couple of miles west of Rumford, Maine; about an hour and twenty minutes drive from North Conway, New Hampshire or an hour from Rangeley, Maine. Easy driving over very scenic highways from either location.

I live in Canada but make a point of stopping in here during every vacation in New England. The car is always full of wood when I leave. One time when I was crossing back into Canada, the CBSA officer started asking a lot of questions when I mentioned that I had a load of wood in the back. Ended up that the CBSA officer was into woodworking and wanted to know where I had bought all my wood.


The Oddblock Station Agent

A few Words Spoken at David & Winnie’s Wedding

Thank you for joining with us in our celebration of David and Winnie’s wedding.

Let me start by asking you a question.

How many of you have call display on your telephones at home?

We’ve had call display for quite a few years, and it was quite a few years ago that the name “B Chung” started showing up on the call display and in the call history. Finally I asked Kie, “Who is B Chung?”

“That’s Winnie.”

“Who’s Winnie?”

“Someone David knows at school.”

And for a long time, that’s all I knew…Winnie was someone David knew at school…but I kept seeing B Chung on the call display.

In time, David did introduce Winnie to Kie and me, and soon after, Winnie became a regular visitor in our home.

When boyfriend-girlfriend relationships flourish, as parents, it is quite likely you will eventually meet the parents of your son’s girlfriend, or your daughter’s boyfriend, as the case may be.

In July 2002, David had surgery on the lower end of his back and he spent a week in the hospital. Early in the morning of the day following surgery, Kie and I picked up Winnie and went to the hospital. That Saturday was a difficult day for all of us. Late in the evening I returned and was surprised to find Winnie still at the hospital. During David’s stay in the hospital, Winnie spent most of her time there…and I began to wonder what Winnie’s parents thought about all the time she was spending there.

We didn’t have to wonder very long because Kie and I met Winnie’s parents for the first time at the hospital. I was expecting Winnie’s father to complain to me about all the many hours Winnie was spending at the hospital…but Winnie’s father had only come to visit David.

A while later, Winnie’s mother came to the hospital, and I was wondering if Winnie’s mother was going to say something about the hours Winnie was spending at the hospital…but Winnie’s mother had only came to visit David.

I was truly surprised but I was also moved to see that Winnie’s parents cared enough to visit David, because I had wondered what Winnie’s parents thought about David and Winnie’s relationship.

Let me share with you what my thoughts were about their relationship, and what I wrote in my prayer journal that same weekend.

“What surprised me most out of this entire ordeal was Winnie. I was very surprised that she spent so many hours at the hospital with David and Kie…perhaps even more hours than I was there. I do not know what future God has planned for David and Winnie – they are both too young to think about a permanent relationship – but I cannot think of anyone who would be better suited for David – and I am certain Kie would feel the same way.  Anyway, only God knows the future for these two young people, and I truly hope that they may have a future together.” 
(Sunday morning, July 28 2002)

Kie and I, and others present here today, have also been praying for you two for a long time. We are grateful to see this day come.

These words are for Winnie.

The Bible tells us, “The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain.” (Proverbs 31:11)

Winnie, David is a person who does not easily trust people. Maybe you know this already, therefore, be a wife who will earn and keep the trust of David’s heart.

These words are for David.

The Bible says, “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” (Ephesians 5:25)

David, a certain time will come, and you’ll know when it comes, and when it does, get off the internet, turn off the computer, put away all the other distractions and then listen to Winnie when she wants and demands your attention.

These words are for both of you.

Another verse in the Bible tells us, “There are doubtless many different languages in the world, and none is without meaning; but if I do not know the meaning of the language, I shall be a foreigner to the speaker and the speaker to me.” (I Corinthians 14:10-11)

You do not have to speak different languages to be foreigners to each other. Learn to listen to each other more attentively. Learn to understand what each of you is really saying to the other. Learn to be an inseparable part of each other for the rest of your lives.

David & Winnie, may the Lord God of Israel bless your marriage from this day to the end of your lives.

May 17, 2008


Winnie and David just married...about 5 minutes earlier
David's parents celebrating
Kimberly at wedding reception

David and Winnie visiting the highlands of Scotland




 The Oddblock Station Agent 
(David's Father)


A few Words for Kimberly & Sharl’s Wedding

Ceud Mile Failte!

This is a Gaelic greeting that literally means, “A hundred-thousand welcomes.”

Thank you for coming today and joining with us in our celebration of Kimberly and Sharl’s wedding.

Over the last several months many people have given us countless hours of their time in helping us to prepare for this wedding day. Kie and I are truly grateful for all your help. Thank you again.

A verse in the Bible tells us, “A generation goes, a generation comes, but the earth remains forever.” (Ecclesiastes 1:4)

As each of us looks back in our own lives, we do remember those of earlier generations who have gone. We wish they could be here with us today, but they can’t – but we fondly remember them nonetheless. Today as we celebrate Kimberly and Sharl’s wedding, we celebrate the gift of life and acknowledge the promise of a generation who shall follow.

Weddings are about families and friends, and some members of our families and friends of every generation – from youngsters in their eighties to the very young - have travelled from afar to be here today.

Speaking about family and friends, we have two birthdays to acknowledge:

My mother’s birthday is tomorrow, August 13
Mrs. Coats’ birthday is today, August 12

When Kimberly was about 4 or 5 months old, I noticed that she understood what I was saying. At the time I was feeling very proud thinking that I had a very smart daughter…and then I discovered that Kimberly also learned very early to ignore what I was saying. As a parent, I had a lot to learn.

Kimberly, today shall be the last day I can tell you what to do – so I shall use these few minutes to do just that.

These words are for Kimberly:

The Bible says, “A good wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels.” (Proverbs 27:15)

“Wives, be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord.” (Ephesians 5:24)

So Kimberly, become a wife who is far more precious than jewels and be subject to your husband. The Bible has always spoken God’s truth and God’s truth will never change. God’s truths also apply to the structures of family relationships – even if these truths are not popular.

These words are for Sharl:

The Bible tells us, “He who finds a wife finds a good thing, and obtains favour from the Lord.” (Proverbs 18:22)

“House and wealth are inherited from fathers, but a prudent wife is from the Lord.” (Proverbs 19:14)

Sharl, both verses end with, “from the Lord.” Remember these words all your years. Finding Kimberly had nothing to do with your good luck; you have found favour with God.

These words are for both of you:

The Bible instructs us, “Do not let the sun go down on your anger.” (Ephesians 4:26)

Your mother taught me the practical application and true value of this verse from very early in our marriage. – and yes – we have had some sleepless nights.

Kimberly and Sharl, my advice to you is to learn to say to each other and truly mean, “I am sorry” – not just a meaningless sorry - but “I am sorry

And as your years together pass, do not forget these important words, Tha gradh agam ort or Aku cinta padamu, or Wo Ai Ni, or Je t’aime or I love you. The language does not matter as long as the words are as sincere years from now as they are today.

Kimberly and Sharl, may the Lord God of Israel bless your marriage from this day to the end of your lives.
 August 12, 2006


Kimberly & Sharl on August 12, 2006


Dad and Mom walk Kimberly down the aisle on August 12, 2006


Left to right: Winnie, Kie, Amanda


Sharl, Kimberly and Kiera on May 23, 2009

Fulfilled, the promise of the generation who shall follow.


The Oddblock Station Agent
(Kimberly's Father)

Benched

Down by the station...
During the course of a year a few things actually are designed and do get made in the station, aside from sawdust and blocks. 

Here is our frequent visitor showing off the versatility of the latest prototype which was painted to match the station. Nothing high-tech here…which means it was easy for the builder to understand and assemble. Of course I am referring to the bench.

My wish was to make a few of these and sell them for just enough to cover the cost of materials, but in the end I could not even give them all away. The wood is pine and workmanship is good, really it is. The problem it seems is that people don’t have a place for a bench. If they do have a place, then no one really has time to sit and relax for a few moments.

Another benefit the bench does provide is a flat surface and it can always be used to stack other stuff on top…even another bench as I have learned when too many are assembled at one time and space is tight. 

Following is a bench made from white ash and hickory lumber that came from Maine. The two woods, (at least the boards I used) are similar in colour and appearance.


I think I like this one best. Can I get down now?


One more bench. Hey! What's going on over there?

Do you know anyone who would like a bench?


The Oddblock Station Agent

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Theories Theorem


Today everyone wants to be an expert about something, or in everything and anything, perhaps maybe even in nothing at all, so I too have decided to hop on the bandwagon (or stand on the soap-box) and present my reminder about unproven theories and respond to some of the meaningless academic spouting of the learned (maybe), over-educated (possibly), and respected (dubious) who have accepted garbage as truth and rejected truth as garbage. Hence, the Theories Theorem.


Problem: Which ever way you figure it, it just doesn't add up!    Solution: Try using a calculator.


The Theories Theorem

Theories are merely very remotely possible but more likely highly improbable, far-fetched quasi-explanations that self-appointed experts offer up to the gullible as incomprehensible, pseudo-scientific non-answers to the most ridiculous of questions to which no normal person can ever be expected to ponder or would ever wish to have explained, which however in the final analysis, are the theories that both the self-appointed experts and the gullible shall most likely blindly and without question foolishly and erroneously accept as fact nonetheless.


The Oddblock Station Agent

The Art of Modern Communication


Even though we are sitting face to face across the table, I can no longer have a sensible conversation with you. You are too busy being interrupted by that device you are holding to read incoming text messages and using to send out immediate replies to someone else somewhere else. That other person is probably just as busy doing the same thing.
 
Later on, don’t ask me to text you to set up another time to get together so we can catch up with what has been going on in our lives. Catching up is what we were supposed to be doing right now. Anyway, I don’t have one of those devices so I’m out of the loop.

You don’t care anyway because you weren’t really listening right now while I said all this out loud to you. Yes, you did politely mumble something nonsensical as a response, which I really should accept as acknowledgement that you heard me say something, but you are too busy trying to communicate with everyone everywhere else that you have forgotten how to communicate to the person sitting across from you.

Hello! Would it be possible for you to turn off and put away that device for the short time we are together at present?

Never mind! Please don’t waste any more of my time. I truly don’t need to sit here and watch you push buttons.

The sad part is that you didn’t notice when I got up and left a few minutes ago. I’m sorry I didn’t say anything but you did seem rather busy communicating and I didn’t want to disturb you.



The Oddblock Station Agent


Addendum August 26, 2014

The following illustration was too good to pass up. Thanks Willy.






Sunday, October 23, 2011

Written 17 years ago for our 15th wedding anniversary


Love

Photo though is recent, taken in October 2010

True reciprocal unconditional love between a husband and a wife is a spiritual blessing that comes only from God; a remarkably wonderful love that compels all else in life to take second place. True love is a rare gift that is too often tragically taken for granted and squandered by fools who have failed to recognize its worth. True love between a husband and a wife given by God is far more precious than earthly riches because true love cannot be demanded nor can it be ordained by man if God does not first consent to allow it. Finding one’s soul-mate must first be decreed by God in heaven. 

Truly, by the grace of God alone, I have found my soul-mate.


The Oddblock Station Agent

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Grandpa and his Wheelbarrow


September 1958

This is a glimpse into the way transplanted Hebridean life once was in Milan, Quebec. Gaelic was spoken there too.


My grandfather was returning home from working in the garden up the hill back of town. Aside from the wooden box filled with turnips, he was also carrying two passengers on the wheelbarrow. Ted and I were supposed to be the help that morning.

One time I remember accompanying my grandfather to pick up a 100 pound bag of grain. He had brought his wheelbarrow to carry the load and I was given a ride on the empty trip. We had to wait for someone from inside the Poulin’s general store (which was also the town’s post office) to come and unlock the door of the CPR water tower. I do not know the reason why the grain was stored there. My grandfather had to pick up the bag from inside and load it on to the wheelbarrow. The return trip was all uphill except for the railway crossing.

In following years in the mid 1960's I saw my grandfather move some very heavy loads on that wheelbarrow, loads so heavy that I couldn't even lift the handles.

The Oddblock Station Agent

Far Wanders the Sojourner


A bluish haze covers the valley and a lone hawk silently circles and soars high above the tree-covered ridges. Long but weak shadows cast by the naked trees blur as November’s midday sun meekly fades. Distant horizons coldly darken because the clouds of a storm are now creeping in.

Squirrels quietly rest because their harvests are safely stored. Fair-weather birds of summer have flown, chasing warmer skies like an elusive dream. The cries of crows are no longer heard because they too have wisely sought out shelter. Closer sneak the clouds of storm and grayer too the sky becomes.

Come! Bare branches beckon as the northwesterly winds noisily swirl and scatter curled brown leaves. Atop the rocky ridge lies the trail of many tangled roots. The path ahead leads downward, gently curving away from the meadow’s edge and into the hardwood forest. Damp earth is soft underfoot because the ground has not yet been hardened by the morning frosts of early winter.

Thus sees and far wanders the sojourner in search of that constantly elusive destination. He is an always restless and often weary nomad in search of a home and in search for rest; perhaps in search for himself, but in truth in search for God.

“O years of youth! Where have you gone?” the heart cries out.

Years have passed slyly, leaving behind only a taste of bitter sadness, a lament over too many days foolishly squandered. Years have gone and years will come but God in heaven has known and seen them all.

The Oddblock Station Agent
November 24, 2004

Friday, October 21, 2011

A Future Woodworker Maybe?








Oddblock Station is known to receive the odd visitor at times; not that the visitors are odd though, rather, it's odd that the visitors want to visit.

Featured here is the station's most frequent visitor, and a visitor by choice and by her own request. 

Seated at the work table in the bay window, our future woodworker is busy examining and carefully selecting pieces of wood, oblivious to the fact it is January, cold, and the station is unheated.


The Oddblock Station Agent

A hint of things to come




This photo of Ted and me was taken in autumn 1958. The location was in Milan, Quebec, at my uncle's former fox ranch which my grandfather was dismantling.

On that particular morning Ted and I were carefully choosing the pieces of wood which we were busily loading into a wheelbarrow... made of wood of course.

Wood was an important part of our lives and was constantly around; indoors and out. Not surprising though because firewood was the only fuel used to heat Grandpa's house and to cook with.

As autumn 1958 progressed, my grandfather would move that pile of firewood in the background the quarter-mile from the fox ranch to the wood-shed behind the house. He would use only a wheelbarrow, but not the one shown.




This second scene, quite a few Septembers later, was captured in 2010 at a location in New Hampshire. Maybe a few things don't change too much over the years. 

While just as carefully selecting choice pieces of wood to bring home, I really did feel like a child in a candy store with only a dime to spend and hundreds to choose from.


The Oddblock Station Agent

Oddblock Station - 在木棚

In case you have been wondering and even if you haven't, there really is an Oddblock Station.

Here's the real Oddblock Station! Freshly painted too! All that is missing is the name sign and railway track. Actually the real Canadian Pacific Railway is only about 250 yards away.

Hooping orders to passing trains will have to wait for another time, but occasionally it's nice to dream, especially when sitting in the bay window and looking down that imaginary track. 

Anyway, the station is filled with many types of woods and many odd blocks...just waiting to be made into something. 

My wife insists, of course, that the odd block is really the woodworker and not one of the blocks. She may be right. The easiest thing to make is sawdust and I seem to be good at making it...lots of it too some weeks.

The Oddblock Station Agent

Megantic Mountain


Majestic Megantic Mountain is situated in the mountainous southeastern corner of Quebec near the border with Maine and New Hampshire. Relatively unknown not so long ago, the mountain has since had an astronomy observatory built on the top and has become a provincial park.


Once upon a time when we were young, Ted and I loved venturing into the woods in search of adventure whether real or imaginary. In spring just as the snow began to melt, the two of us would explore further into the wilderness forests and climb the hills southward from behind the tiny village of Milan, Quebec, just to find out if we could reach the top and to determine how far we could go. We chose that particular time of year because melting snow does not blow and drift; our footprints in the wet snow would remain uncovered and provide us with an unmistakable route back out of the woods. 

Megantic Mountain, distant several miles, was always familiar to Ted and me; easily visible from just outside of Milan. As we grew older, Ted and I wanted to hike to the top of Megantic Mountain, and at times we spoke about making the journey. On weekends through summer 1971 we carried out a few trial hikes from Scotstown to the foot of the mountain at the small dam on Mountain Brook.

Finally in late August 1972, Ted and I together with our friend Ron hiked through the valley forests and over those peaks that comprise Megantic Mountain. Our trek was made eastward from the Scotstown end of the mountain to the small chapel on the eastern summit. No trails of any kind existed in 1972 and we relied on a compass and topographical maps to find our way. Everything we needed was carried in our backpacks.


Walking through hardwood forests was easy, but as the ascent steepened, the deciduous trees gave way to conifers. Stands of evergreen trees proved very difficult to shove through. Stunted tree growth in some places made our required route impassible, forcing us to plot detours to get around. Along our route we encountered several deep, tree-covered ravines that we had to carefully descend and ascend in order to safely cross. Our map only showed them as small streams and we were grateful for the cold, clean water for drinking. At higher elevations we encountered areas strewn with massive granite boulders that looked like piled-up giant marbles. These obstacles also were too difficult to climb over, and thus forced us to make more detours.

We spent one night in the woods on the slope to the north of where the observatory is now located. The observatory had not even been planned or surveyed in 1972. About two hours before sunset, we pitched our tents on what appeared to have been a long-overgrown logging road that crossed at right-angles to our route. In forests, complete darkness will arrive quickly, even before sunset fades from the sky.

Early the following morning we resumed our eastward journey. We broke out of the woods, reaching the gravel road that led to the top of the eastern end of the mountain, exiting about 200 yards south (downhill) from where we had planned to intersect the road. With the unexpected course changes we had to make the day before, we were astonished to have been this close.

The view from the top of the mountain facing eastward


From our exit point from the forest, we had another 14 miles to walk to Milan, but the remainder of our journey would be made on gravel roads.

Crossing Megantic Mountain proved to be one of the most arduous and difficult hikes I have ever undertaken but it was the fulfillment of one dream of my youth, as foolish as it may have been.

The God of Israel said,

“For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed, says the Lord, who has compassion on you.” 
(Isaiah 54:10)

The meaning of this verse really does come alive when reading it aloud at the foot of Megantic Mountain, or any mountain. The magnitude of God’s love and peace is truly immeasurable and immovable from us.


The Oddblock Station Agent 


Another view from the top

Walking Sticks


Somewhere in South Africa - using a walking stick of course.

Odd block:    Have you ever seen a walking stick?

Other block:  I didn't even know they had feet.

Odd block:    Uh-oh, I know where this is going?

Other block:  Where?

Odd block:    Nowhere.

Other block:  Not a leg to stand on, eh?

Odd block:    Take a hike!

Other block:  Who? The walking stick?

Odd block:    I gotta get outta here.

Other block:  Don't forget the stick.

A walking stick is a unique item.  Here at home I keep a few walking sticks near the front door, and do use them when I go walking. Those have been made from different woods acquired from special places I have visited over the years in eastern Quebec and northwestern Maine.

Walking sticks bring back many memories. When I was young and would accompany my grandfather into the wilderness forests of the Eastern Quebec Appalachian Highlands, (which were his backyard) my grandfather would always remind me to never go into the woods without a walking stick. He never told me the reason, but I knew he was once lost in the woods for two days and walked out only after finding a familiar land mark.

Carrying a walking stick is a practice that has remained with me over the decades. When I am able to do some walking in the woods near home or hiking in the wilderness forests of Maine and New Hampshire, a favourite stick will accompany me. In doing so, I am also reminded of a verse from Psalm 23 “…for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.”

My storage shed (next to the station) contains selected cuttings from tree branches (apple, plum and ash) which are drying out. To lessen the possibility of splitting, they do need to dry out and season for a few years, but one day I expect to make some of them into walking sticks.


The Oddblock Station Agent