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Sunday, January 22, 2012

Kung Hei Fat Choy


Music into our lives
the next generation

with gratitude
Grandma & Grandpa

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Rough Seas and Heavy Weather

Heavy weather is a marine term that we rarely hear mentioned these days. Storms and violent seas are what mariners call heavy weather.

Restless seas we all know. We have all witnessed recorded scenes of hurricane weather and surging sea water smashing against objects along the shore.

One of the unusual events I encountered during my years of working for an ocean carrier was the filing of a “Heavy Weather Protest”. Upon safe arrival into port following a particularly rough and stormy crossing of the North Atlantic Ocean, the master of the ship would file a legally worded written statement to protest against the weather that had been encountered during the voyage. The protest was documented with abstracts from the ship’s logbooks and then sworn, signed and sealed before a notary thus creating a legal record.

The only person I know about who protested against heavy weather and rough seas and actually could do something to change the weather was Jesus.

The Bible tells us, “And as they sailed he fell asleep. And a storm of wind came down on the lake, and they were filling with water, and were in danger. And they went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and the raging waves; and they ceased, and there was calm.” (Luke 8:23-24)

Last March I was able to visit the Canadian shores of two oceans, the Pacific and the Atlantic. I have been drawing upon those experiences for musical purposes. During these last few weeks I have been editing and revising a piano composition that, oddly enough, is about the North Atlantic Ocean and is titled, “The Atlantic Canada Sonata”

Writing music is often about observing the world around us, trying to grasp and make sense of forces we cannot fathom or control, and not just simply wresting inspiration from within to assemble noises and sounds into forms and structures called compositions.

In life we encounter periods of heavy weather and rough seas; seas of confusion and turmoil, seas of sadness and anger, seas of despair and hopelessness, seas churned by storms of life that we have sailed into and so often unwillingly.

The water in the ocean is never calm. Always moving, at times quiet but never still, appearing deceptively peaceful but never at rest.

Changes in life are like strong undercurrents that grasp and carry us where we do not want to go, at times threatening to pull us under to overwhelm and wreck us against reefs and rocks of heartache

The Bible also tells us that Jesus asked, “Where is your faith?” (Luke 8:25)
When heavy weather comes uninvited and unwanted into our lives the same question is asked of us.

May 02, 2008
The Oddblock Station Agent

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

32 YEARS !!!

Thirty-two years ago this date, literally on the other side of the world, and three days after we met for the very first time.

"And they called Rebekah, and said to her, "Will you go with this man?" She said, "I will go."

This photo was taken on January 18, 1980, moments after the two of us were married in the government office in Malang, East Java, Indonesia.

"He who finds a wife finds a good thing, and obtains favour from the Lord." 
(Proverbs 18:22)

The photo below was taken in Maine. Rangeley Lake is in the background.

The years have passed quickly.

The Oddblock Station Agent


Addendum January 18, 2016

Happy 36th Anniversary !!
January 18 comes but once a year - all days can claim the same reappearance frequency - except February 29 of course.

I have never forgotten January 18, 1980.

One small story that has not been mentioned before was on the 17th, the night before.

Completely unexpected, real culture shock had hit me like a truck. Indonesia was vastly different from North America and far more different from what I had ever imagined. (No internet, no Google and almost no genuine current information about Indonesia available in Canada back then.) When I was explaining to Kie about how different Canada is, tears started running down her face. 

Upon seeing her tears, I was convinced she had changed her mind about getting married and coming to Canada with me. Turns out that when I started talking about the differences, Kie thought I was changing my mind about her; that thought had never crossed my mind.

As history reveals, we were married the following day.

Kie and I with Jonah in May 2015 - celebrating Kie's birthday at the Old Mill.
That's Grandma and Grandpa with Jonah! 
As the above image shows, I've become an old man but Kie has aged only a little, and gracefully too.
Deo Gratias!

Saturday, January 14, 2012


A wonderful sight for sore eyes!

This scene above was recorded on the Maine-New Hampshire state line and I was truly glad to return for another visit.

I am a Canadian and proud to be a Canadian, but when given the choice of anywhere in the world to visit, Maine will always be my number 1 choice. That being said, New Hampshire is a very close second choice destination; maybe that is because the two states are next door to each other and slipping into Maine for a day is very easy to do.

The above location is Serampus Falls in Maine located next to a rest area on Highway 27 between Eustis and the border with Canada. The above scene was recorded in 2010 but is little changed from photo my mother took in 1959 with Ted and me on the rocks.

Restless travellers enjoying a break at Serampus Falls while en route to Saco, Maine, in Autumn 1959

Kie and Kiera at Serampus Falls in September 2009.

When Kie came to Canada in 1980, Maine was the first place she visited in the United States. 29 years later, Maine was the first place in the US that Kiera visited, and that was by Kimberly's choice. Yes, that is Grandma holding her granddaughter. Kiera is wearing her first plaid shirt...of course from L.L. Bean...Grandpa's idea.

Wild blueberries are abundant in Maine, and some years yield better pickings than others.

You won't find these in the stores in big cities. These berries shown were picked in the Rangeley area in mid-September, a month after the normal end of season for blueberries. That particular fall a few years ago, the bushes were just loaded with berries, and only a few steps from the front door of the cottage that we had rented.

That is frozen Mooselookmeguntic Lake as seen from the lookout on Highway 17 a few miles south of Oquossoc. The daytime high temperature that day was about minus 22 degrees C. The cold air and blowing snow actually felt quite refreshing.

Maine is my favourite place to visit at any time of the year, including January. I would prefer to spend a frozen week there in January than go get cooked somewhere in the south. This is the reason why I have never been to Florida and have no desire to go there. 

Kie on the road to Rangeley Manor.

In January 2009 at the Red Onion restaurant in downtown Rangeley we celebrated our 29 years together. The thermometer in the car was reading -24 C when we took this photo. Quite a contrast when compared to 30+ degrees in Lawang, Indonesia, when we were married there in January 1980.

What surprised me most was that Rangeley was far busier in January than in I had expected.

Highway 17 looking south

The highways in Maine are kept clear but caution is always advised when travelling in winter. Even on clear days drifting and blowing snow can quickly cover roads.

Welcome to L.L. Bean and Welcome to Maine have practically become synonymous.

Of course no visit to Maine is complete without a visit to the iconic L. L. Bean flagship store in Freeport. Walk in through the main entrance and this scene greets you. Also, if you look closely, the doors really do not have locks on them. This store is open all the time. 

Another view inside the flagship store.

Believe me, this was not a busy day.

If you do make it to L. L. Bean in Freeport, then be certain to stop in and sample the seafood meals and homemade brews at Gritty McDuffs. The portions are generous, the ales are great and the prices are reasonable. Located on the east side of Highway 1 on the Portland end of town.

Deep fried Maine clams.

Less than an hour away from Freeport is Old Orchard Beach.

With miles of wave-washed, sandy beach to wander and explore, Old Orchard Beach is an interesting visit at any time of the year.

That's the North Atlantic Ocean and that salt water is cold all year long. Never mind; be brave and adventurous, take off your shoes and socks and walk in the water a while. You do get used to the cold even after your feet turn numb. Just remember to bring along a towel.

The tide is out at the pier in Old Orchard Beach. We're getting there too - I mean to that cold salt water in the background. Moments after this scene was recorded, Kie and I actually walked in the water.

Ben and Catherine at the Clambake

After your walk in the ocean, and if you feel a need to thaw out your feet or just plain need to warm up, then this familiar site at the Pine Point end of the beach is just the place. The large windows at the back offer amazing views of the Scarborough Marsh while sampling various seafood. Winnie's parents joined us when we visited in September 2011.

Another amazing stop for sampling Atlantic seafood.

The Clambake is not open all year, but drive about a mile or so northward along Route 9 toward Highway 1 and you'll find Ken's Place.

The Farmington Fair comes but once a year, in September, but is well worth the visit. The fair offers a unique look into a way of life that has been fading but which the Americans so rightly fight to preserve and hold on to.

One of the unique displays recorded at the Farmington Fair a few years ago. Bring along your camera and record some of the artistic results of the very creative. You may be inspired and end up going home with a few ideas of your own too.

Kimberly and Kiera visiting inside one of the barns at the Farmington Fair.

Where do eggs come from? 

Some city people today really have no idea where eggs come from. Just in case you don't know, the answer is visible in the above photo, in that cage in the background. See that hen there...?

If you visit the Farmington Fair, be sure to check out the interesting stuff people are selling there. You can always find a one-of-a-kind treasure that you won't find anywhere else.

A few years ago I found this painted wood block for sale for less than $5.00.

I just had to have this for my desk at sort of has a special relevance the day before two weeks of vacation starts. You'll never guess where we were going.

Maine has covered bridges too! This one is located on Littlehale Road, a little bit off the north side of Highway 16, and near the state line with New Hampshire. The bridge is closed to vehicles but you can walk across as often as you wish.

Kiera and Kimberly on the northern shore of Rangeley Lake. The beginnings of autumn colours are clearly evident on the hills in the background. September 2009.

M.I.B. fans visiting Rangeley.

Maine really is for everyone and for all ages. A year earlier David and Winnie, the "newlyweds", joined us for our vacation in Rangeley. Actually, they went to Hawaii for their honeymoon, Maine was a few months later for their vacation. September 2008.

Yes, those are shoes but I don't know why they are there.

I'm certain there is a story behind this but I have no idea what it is. This utility pole is located a few miles outside of Rangeley on the road that leads off Highway 4 toward Rangeley State Park.

You're welcome to join us in front of the fire... just bring your own chair.

Sitting in a comfortable chair with feet up on the foot-rest in front of a wood fire burning away in a fireplace stove is a relaxing way to end the day as the sun sets on a cool early autumn evening in Rangeley. Don't take my word for it though.

Moose Meadows - maybe not PGA calibre... but so what?

In Maine beautiful scenery, something different and some type of an adventure awaits around every bend. Where else can one possibly find in the middle of nowhere a 3-hole golf course called Moose Meadows?

I just can't wait to get back to Maine again. 

The Oddblock Station Agent