DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" ""> Tossing Pebbles in the Stream: 04/01/2011 - 05/01/2011 .comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Tossing Pebbles in the Stream

This blog is my place to sit and toss pebbles into the stream. The stream of Life relentlessly passing before us. We can affect it little. For the most part I just watch it passing and follow the flow. Occasionally, I need to comment on its passing, tossing a pebble at it to enjoy the ripple affect upon Life's surface.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Wedding

William Kate picture
i keep seeing

John Tiong Chungkhoo

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments; love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O, no, it is an ever-fixèd mark,
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wand'ring bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his heighth be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

Shakespeare, Sonnet 116

I am thinking of my sister, Penny, these days. Last weekend she flew off to London (after casting her vote in an advanced poll) to be present at the wedding of Prince William and Katherine Middleton.

She has been looking forward to going. As soon as she heard the announcement of their marriage she knew she had to go and be there. By the time I had talked to her about the upcoming nuptuals she already had a plane reservation.

At the time I commented to her, how much mother would have loved to have gone to such an occasion. (She being an admirer of the Royal Family). Penny had thought the same thing. Our mother had died many years ago when she was only 61.

Just before my sister left she sent me this email:

" Happy Easter, Phil. The election is certainly making me anxious. Part of me is sorry I will miss all the details of election night. I love all the political analysis that tries to explain what happened. I'm leaving tomorrow night. I feel mom is travelling with me. " (We share in interest in the federal election and a dislike of the Conservative government)

I replied,

"Bon Voyage to both of you. I am sure you will always be telling yourself how much mother would have loved this."

In response.

"For sure"

It seems my sister and I are sympatico. We share an interest in history and civics and we live our lives with an ongoing influence of our mother. Her lessons have been learned.

I hope she has a memorable time. Her daughter, Elizabeth lives in London. Hopefully, Elizabeth will talks her into spending the nights at her place. Penny had said she was prepared to camp out on the street in order to get a good place to view the comings and goings of the wedding party. She is an experienced and a adventuresome traveller so I can imagine her living on the street and chatting up the others in the encampment. Still I worry a little for her at age 70 roughing it.

I look forward to her return and hearing all about her adventure and seeing some pictures she managed to take. I regret I did not go with her.

William-Kate royal wedding
i feel the joy of youth

John Tiong Chunghoo

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Election Got Exciting

I recently wrote in a blog entry that the election campaign in Canada was boring.

Well! No more. It has gotten quite interesting. The New Democrat Party, which is usually the third "also ran" party after the Conservatives and Liberals, finds itself ahead of the Liberal Party and gaining on the Conservative Party in the polls. This mild mannered social democratic party loosely called "socialist" has historically been the social conscience of parliament and exercised power by making deals for support from the major parties in minority governments. They have never formed a federal government. They have formed governments in several provinces.

I am a life long supporter of the New Democratic Party, except for the year in the US when I worked on behalf of the Communist Party in Connecticut. I am use to often supporting a local
candidate who does not get elected. For the first time in my life I live in a riding with a New Democratic member of parliament.

These are exciting days for me and long standing supporters of the New Democratic Party.

NDP leader, Jack Layton. An all-Canadian who loves his beer and hockey. This is a photo from April 14 when he was charming the voters in Quebec. A week later, he moved ahead of the Bloc Quebecois party in that province.

( for my American readers, the BQ is a regional party that only runs candidates in Quebec. It is a separatist party that hopes to seen Quebec become a sovereign Nation some day. In the meantime they are always trying to get better political deals for their province. They control about 50 or the 75 seats from that province. The New Democrats had 1 in the last parliament. )

Quebec residents have decided to vote for the New Democrats in large numbers and are abandoning the BQ, in favor of the NDP on the strength of the attractiveness of Jack Layton.
He is seen as a man of the people. who is enjoying running and making his case among people.
By contrast the other leaders appear tense and angry.

For my American readers, to help you understand this tsunami in Canadian politics I encourage you to watch the humorous video below where Rick Mercer explains Canada and Canadian politics.

The above video was made a while ago when the Liberals and New Democrats threatened to defeat the Conservative government and form a coalition which would ask the Governor General for a chance to form an alternative government. The Conservative just before the economic collapse had been denying there was a problem for Canada and nothing had to be done. Ideologically they were going to stick by their laissez-faire economics at a time when governments were looking to stimulate the lagging economy by infusions of government money funding job creation programs. The Opposition parties wanted the government to act in the face of an economic crisis. Stephen Harper avoided his party's defeat from a vote of non-confidence
when he convinced the Governor General to prorogue parliament before a vote could be held.
This is a very unusual parliamentary device.This gave his party time to put together an economic program that would satisfy parliament.

I would remind everyone that this present election was brought about by the government being defeated (lost the confidence of parliament) when it was found guilt of being in contempt of parliament by failing to supply the necessary financial documents for the Opposition to do it's proper function of criticizing the government as the honourable opposition.

At the dissolution of parliament the New Democratic Party has about 17% of the popular vote with the Liberals around 28% and the Conservative around 38%. The NDP is usually around 20 of the popular vote.

The Conservative said they were seeking a majority government. They deserved it for being good managers of the government and the economy for 7 years. The Canadian public has never quite trusted them in previous elections to give them enough seats to form a majority government. One needs to have at least around 40% or the popular vote to achieve this and the Conservative have been tantalizingly close.

For a couple of weeks these percentages did not change much although the NDP did drop to 14% when people seemed to be willing to support the Liberal Party as the rightful alternative to the Conservatives, a traditional problem for the NDP.

After the leadership debates it seemed a lot was not going to change. No leader made any bad faux pas , each was praised by their supporters. Jack Layton was the most relaxed and charming, apparently more so in the French debate. He was raised in Quebec and speaks French of an E nglish kid who learned it on the street playing with the french kids. Michael Ignatieff, (Liberal) is an academic who taught at Harvard for years and speaks parisienne french while Stephen Harper (Conservative) is a french emmersion French speaker. It seems Jack Layton made an impression upon many Quebec residence mainly the soft nationalists who had been parking their votes with the BQ of Gilles Duceppe. It seems they where tiring of their support for the BQ and still did not trust the Liberals and Conservatives. En masse they have swung behind the New Democrats. A week after the picture above a CROP poll reported that the New Democrats were even or ahead of the Bloc in the popular vote. This made Canadians wonder what was going on in that province. Was it an uptick or the real thing. It has proved to be sustainable and a rising curve of support. At first commentators were saying due to the " winner take all" aspect of riding voting the increased support of the New Democrats would just translate into a few additional seats, maybe as many as 5 or 6. At the time this seemed really good but I have now seen that the NDP may get as many as 51 seats in that Province.

Nationally, there were responses to the phenomena in Quebec. Canadians began to not buy the line that the only worthy party to defeat Conservatives was the Liberal Party/ This arrogance and the arrogance to the leading Conservatives saw people choosing the NDP. No longer was Jack Layton the only believer to say he was running to become the Prime Minister. Parliament ended with the New Democrats having 36 seats. the most they have ever had in any parliament was 45. Suddenly, I began reading that nationally they might get as much as 60 seats. Suddenly they were tied with the Liberals in popular votes. Briefly, the Conservatives looked like they might get their majority due to the splitting of the votes on the left. The increase support for the New Democrats has continued. They began to cut into even the Conservative vote.

Now they are ahead of the Liberals who are fading at 22% of the vote, the New Democrats have in about a week and a half increased their percentage from 19% to 30 % and the Conservatives have fallen back to 35%, well away from the 40 % which might see them get a majority government. It seems possible now that there will be a reduced minority government with the New Democrats leading the Opposition Parties. I have now seen a poll that gives the New Democrats as many as 97 seats in Parliament. The trend upward for the NDP is continuing.
There have even been mutterings that they might overtake the Conservatives. Is there enough time left before the election on Monday for this to happen? The other three parties are attacking the NDP and their platform with a venegance I heard today the business community is speaking out in opposition to the possibility of an NDP government (they must be doing something right in my opinion). So far these attacks have not slowed or reversed the support for the New Democrats. Maybe, just maybe, real history is about to be made.

I, personally, think the Conservatives will hold on to their lead position and the New Democrats will have the next largest number of seats. The Conservatives may have a problem governing with the consent of Parliament. They have already said they would not form a coalition and think it is undemocratic and not part of parliamentary tradition. This is wrong of course. The largest party in our system can only govern with the consent of parliament. Without a majority of seats the government ruling party must compromise. It could happen that the Liberals and the NDP in a coalition could govern with the consent of parliament. If the Conservative cannot form a government the Governor General may ask another party (s) to try rather than call another elections soon after this one. It will be a great lesson in parliamentary democracy as it works out.

Briefly, three other interesting factors have come int0 play. The Conservative Party made a real effort to woe the "ethnic vote". They may not have succeeded in this. Stephen Harper is very stiff and not very relaxed in his public appearances. His addressing a South Asian gathering as "you people" reflects his discomfort and has tainted his appeal. He is a control freak and is not very spontaneous. He is not a very urban person. Jack Layton has a long career in urban politics. Is married to Elizabeth Chow, another member of parliament of Chinese descent. He speaks Mandarin. He is very comfortable around the rich ethnic mix of Toronto. At the recent Khadsa Day of the Sikh community he was roundly cheered while Michael Ignatieff was politely received.

Women in large numbers support the NDP as a result of its social programs and promotion of the agenda of women's issues. Half of all NDP candidates are women). Jack Layton has gone out his way to speak to women.

It seems the youth have been mobilized. If you can get them out to vote they tend to vote for the NDP. Below is another rant by Rick Mercer to encourage young people to vote. It seems to a have worked as there is much enthusiasm on college campuses with rallies to get out the vote.

I find all this very interesting. I get up in the middle of the night to check to see if any other polling results have been posted or another interesting article has been written on why this is all happening. On the other hand, I am a realist and know all this can evaporate if on political gaff is made or enough fear about the NDP program and power is generated.

Time will tell. "Prime Minister Layton", it has a nice ring.

So far there seems to have been very little comment on the Canadian election in the US. I am waiting for Fox "news" to notice it. This organizations feeds off the ignorance of Americans who cannot differentiate between or among liberals, social democrats, socialists, communists and potential terrorists. I can see the headlines now about the socialist coup in Canada and how the northern border will need to be more fortified against Canadian terrorists. Canadians love this attention and laugh themselves silly at the lack of understanding by a large segment of the American public.

Hopefully, after Monday and the election I will not have to explain how all of this failed to result in significant vote changes.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter in the City

One of the nice things about living in the city (Yes I confess to some admiration for urban living) is that on any particular festive occasion there is a wide variety of things to do to participate in it.
As I look over the activities in Toronto this Easter I find things from the Divine to the rediculous (or just fun and playful). The activities are both religious and secular something for everyone. There are sunrise services, passion plays, great musical concerts ( Handel's Messiah and Bach's Easter Oratorio). There are the community Easter Egg hunts for children as well as the very large one of Center Island.

One event I always associate with Easter is the Easter Parade in Toronto. I remember the one along to Boardwalk at Sunnyside, not that I ever experienced it (Maybe once) but because my mother told me all about it. It was a stroll really when people, particularly women, showed off their new Easter outfits and and enjoy the Spring weather. Sunnyside was beachfront amusement park on the west side of Toronto. It was important for my parents generation but actually closed down in 1954 so the ugliest cityscape of Toronto could be built, the elevated Gardiner Expressway, an accommadation to the automobile.

This early Toronto Easter Parade was in the spirit of the New York Easter parade and the inspiration of the movie "Easter Parade".

You know the song. I like this version by Sarah Vaughan and Billie Eckstine. Mainly, because I love Sarah Vaughan and consider myself to have been privileged for having seen her perform live once near the end of her career in Dallas, Texas.

In the early part of the 20th Century amusement parks were a major source of entertainment for urban dwellers, (before the automobile, TV and computers) Toronto in those early days was a small city of about 50,000 people. There were three amusement parks, on the east and west of the city and on the island. They were well used, as few could afford to escape the city in the summer. It was my generation that came to enjoy cottage life in rural central Ontario.

There is still an Easter Parade in Toronto but it is a standard street parade with little regards to showing off fashions. It is sponsored by the Lion's Club in the Beaches area of Toronto.

There was a time that Easter would be a time to only find Christians out in the streets and parks celebrating. But Toronto is a rich multicultural city with almost every religious and ethnic group represented in significant numbers. Today the Sikh community is having their Khalsa Day parade. They have a large parade each year to celebrate the beginning of their religion. Ten of thousands participate. Here is a video of the parade in 2007

The Sihk parade finishes in Downtown Toronto. It is interesting that the leaders of the New Democatic Party and the Liberal Party, will address the the Sikh rally since we are in the midst of a federal election. It seems the Christian's don't merit this special attention.

What ever you are doing this Easter, may you find it enjoyable and hopefully life affirming.
For me, this is the deep meaning for the Christian Easter message that Life should be lived in the fullness of God.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

God Save the Queen!

Today is the Queen's birthday. Her Royal Highness, Queen Elizabeth II, is 85 and going strong.
She is the Queen of Canada as well as the Queen of Britain. ( I mention this in case any Americans do not know that Canada is a Monarchy.) May she reign for many more years.

I lifted this picture from the Toronto Star Newspaper.

I thought it was a nice one of the Queen. She is always nicely turned out and almost never without a hat. (It reminds me of the Prebyterian minister's wife of my youth whose different hat every sunday was more of a subject of discussion than the sermon. ) She has been everything that we sing about in "God Save the Queen" She certainly is gracious and noble. She has reigned over us for longer than any other British monarch. Her life has been one of duty so there is no expectation she would step down. We expect she will be with us for many more years. Her mother, the "Queen Mom" lived in good health until she was 101.

You have to feel a little sorry for Prince Charles who is now the longest waiting heir to the throne. His whole life he has a preparation to become king. It must be strange to have to wait for your mother to die before you can take up your purpose in life. In fact, he may never be king.
There are those who would prefer Prince William to be the next monarch.

Speaking of the young Prince. We are all waiting for his wedding. There will be many of us getting up at 3:00 AM on April 29 to watch him marry the lovely Katherine. I am amused at how interested Americans are in the Royal Family. I think there are those who in their hearts wished they had a noble and royal family. I think they are more interested in the Royal Family than the French Canadians, who I find are largely indifferent to the Royals.

My sister is off to London to see the wedding. She will be among the throngs to line the streets to see the Royal processions to and from Westminster Abbey. She has said she may even sleep on the street to make sure she has a good viewing spot. At 70 years old she certainly is a gamer. It has been hot in London so the weather should be nice. I trust all will go well.

I will be in Ottawa for Canada Day (July 1) where I may have a chance to see the new Royal couple there as part of their visit to Canada.

Speaking of "well"!

There are some who have asked me how my well drilling went. In the picture above you will see the well head showing in the new fallen snow. The well was drilled to 420 feet most of it through the bedrock of the Pre-Cambrian Shield.

Heidi trying to figure out her shadow.

This snow will be gone by the end of the day as it is going to warm up on this bright sunny day.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Winter Revisited

Just when I thought Winter was over with most of the snow on the ground melted away, Winter weather returned. We may have six inches of snow before this is over. It was enough to cancel the school buses.

This week I am more than aware of missing the warm weather as my friend Lynne is off in Barbados for a rest. She went with her daughter, granddaughter and her friend, Pat, ( who went to China with her last year). It seems it was a girls only outing. I didn't qualify.

I miss our daily telephone conversations. Next week she will be home and I will hear all about her tropical vacation.

The beginning of the snow.

Last week, Heidi and I went to the river. There is just a little snow along the fringe of the river.
The water is now, symptomatic of our Winter drought. The light spot in the middle of the river is a large boulder we dive and swim off. Every year I try to decide it has moved. I thing it is slowly lowering into the river either by moving deeper into the channel or have the gravel beneath it washing away. I think with the river this low it should be above showing above the surface. I could be wrong.

Whatever the weather, Heidi is more than happy to just sleep the day away. Here she has her head on the arm of her chair.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Thoughts on the Election Campaign

I have been busy trying to follow the federal election campaign which I will use as an excuse for not posting a blog entry for so long. It is painful to watch this election campaign. It is boring and many very important issues are being ignored. ( such as climate change and the environment, funding of the arts, high speed rail travel). Worst of all it looks like the Conservative Party lead by Stephen Harper will get a plurality of seats in parliament and be asked to form the government once again. He hopes for a majority government. I hope it is no more than another minority government. Time will tell.

Sadly, the media consortium, that organized the debates of the party leaders this week, decided to not allow Elizabeth May, leader of the Green Party to take part. In spite of the Old Boy's Club token comments that they would like to have her part of the debates none of them exerted real power to insist upon her inclusion. While her party holds no seats in parliament it is an aspiring national party which has important issues high on its agenda that the other parties are ignoring. Plus, in the last election she took part and made a significant contribution.

I am hopeful she will win her seat in British Columbia so that her party will be represented
in parliament.

The debates were broadcast this week. I watch some but not all of them. The debate in English was Tuesday. It was a largely dull affair with few issues really debated. It is said Harper won by not losing.( a rather back handed victory praise) The opposition party leaders did not manage to rattle him and have him show his famous temper and his real attitudes toward Canada, Canadians, opposition politicians and his political agenda. Wednesday , after rescheduling the debate from Thursday in order not to interfere with the hockey game in Montreal (Only in Canada, you say!) the debates in French was held. It was a livelier affair with sharper debating points being made and contrasting policies being revealed. It is too bad the French debate was not held first so the it might have warmed up the English debate, which has a larger audience.

(Left to Right )

Stephen Harper Conservative
Michael Ignatieff Liberal
Jack Layton New Democratic
Elizabeth May Green
Gilles Duceppe Bloc Québébois

I guess it is not a secret that I am not a fan of Stephen Harper or the policies of the Conservative Party.

I do not find him a person one can trust. His personal political convictions are to the right of his party, which makes him quite extreme within the liberal Canadian culture. He has political views that he has been forced to temper only because he is the leader of a government which is a minority one. If he were ever the leader of a majority government I suspect he would do even more damage to the Canadian institutions and political tradition.

Stephen Harper is arrogant and and treats other with contempt. He exhibits the attitude we have associated with George Bush in the United States, "You are with us or against us." This is foreign to the Canadian political parliamentary system which is less adversary than the American system, particularly so when Canada frequently has minority governments where the governing party has to compromise to continue to govern.

A Canadian government can be defeated with a vote of no--confidence by parliament. On two occasion the Harper government avoided this by the rarely used device of proroguing parliament. There finally defeated when the Speaker of the House found their were ground for finding the government was acting in contempt of parliament by not giving the parliamentarians the necessary financial information for them to fulfill their legislative duty. A committee of parliament held and hearing and agreed. As a result, the government was defeated and an election called. I find this unique event was a harsh judgment on the Harper Conservative government. Harper's continue contempt for parliament showed when he brushed this all off of the "other three leaders ganging up on him". It was not just another instance of being outvoted.

There are many examples of Stephen Harper's contempt for others. It goes back to an earlier election when he publicly stated that he did not want to only defeat the Liberals but he wanted to "destroy" them. He is also well known for turning on members of his own party that disagree with him. In this election his contempt for the electorate is his parties rules that only allow those who have pre-registered to attend his public meeting. They are them vetted. It turns out with the help of the RCMP (which is illegal) he barred individuals because of viewing their Facebook site, find some Liberal connections. Studies in particular have found it difficult to attend his meetings. Also, he claim to be interested in ethnic communities by visiting them and wooing them. It is interesting to realize that it is just some ethnic communities he is interested in. We have yet to see him publicly meeting with Muslims, Tamils or First Nation communities.
I could go on with other examples of his contempt for others but I think I have made my point.

Stephen Harper is well known as a control freak. Nothing in his government is said or done without his approval. His ministers are often muted by him and all comments come out of the Prime Minister's Office. This, of course, dovetails with his contempt for others.

Stephen Harper, to stay in power has avoided his social conservative ideas and persents himself as mainly a fiscal conservative. I think many Canadians still think of the Conservative Party of Canada as being the same as the Progressive Conservative Party, which is one of the parties that merged to form it. Canada was used to the Progressive Conservative Party which was fiscally conservative and socially progressive. If the current Conservative Party ever had a majority I think the socially conservative agenda would come forward. Stephen Harper is a social conservative. He is a evangelical Christan who attended a church that is opposed to abortion, favours the death penalty, is homophobic and is opposed to same sex marriage. With a majority government these issues would be raised and the liberal culture of Canada has long accepted these issues as settled. With a majority parliament I think we would see the Conservative Party weaken or destroy Canada's National Health Care system, our government supported cultural institutions (CBC, NFB, Support for the Arts, public funding of political parties, etc). Also a majority Conservative governments would weaken our already weak legislation to protect the environment. We are already criticized internationally for doing too little. Harper are repeatedly said he would do nothing until the US decides what it is going to do. He feels we have to follow their lead. We deserve better leadership in this area. One suspects the Conservative Party of Canada is always looking for inspiration from the Republican Party in the US.

It is with great anticipation I wait for the outcome of the election on May 2. Thank goodness our electoral season is only six weeks long and not two years as is the case in the US.

Friday, April 01, 2011

April Fool's Day

April Fool's Day reminds me every year of one special day. It was the April Fool's Day that I left the United States and returned home to Canada. I had resigned my pastorate in New Haven to return to Canada to both find a church in Canada to serve and to make sure my son was raised a Canadian. He was about to enter the first grade and I knew if he went through school in the US he would be acculturated as an American. He was born in the US and held duel citizenship with a special birth certificate as a "Canadian Born Abroad." You are what you live, not what is one the documents. It had always been my ambition to have a church in Canada. The time seemed right. I felt I had done what I could for the church in New Haven. I had also managed to be both a minister and a single father for the last two years of my tenure there so I felt I could fullfil both roles in a new charge. I was feeling quite optimistic for the future.

My brother, Richard and his first wife, Lynn, came down to New Haven from Toronto and helped me pack up all my worldly possessions and stuff them into the largest U-Haul I could rent. The last thing to fit in was my canoe. Everything just fit. I don't think I properly thanked my brother and his wife for there generous effort. Thinking back on it, I realized it was a substantial commitment on their part. Maybe, he saw it as payback for the time I drove with our father to Mankato, Minnesota to bring him home after he graduated from University. In any case, I remain impressed with this act of generosity and caring on his part.

With my son, Parker, in the passenger seat , in a truck like the one above, we left on a great adventure up the Connecticut Turnpike, across the Massachusetts Turnpike and then north and west on the New York Thruway to the border crossing at Buffalo, New York and Fort Erie, Ontario.

The moment of truth at the border, when you pray the border agent doesn't follow any hunches.

I approached the border check point with much trepidation. Crossing the border always seemed a little scary to me. I know that you are in a no man's land between the American and Canadian agents. You could find yourself unable to go forward or back. While the Canadian border agents we always pleasant ("Welcome to Canada") the American agents always seemed like a tough bunch. "What's your citizenship.Where are you going. How long will you be in the US. " with a wave of the hand you are either waved into the US or directed to the side to be thoroughly questioned and searched.) I can just imagine how intense crossing must be these days in the present climate of fear.

In any case, there I was five minutes before midnight with a large truck full of all my worldly goods driving up to the US agent. I had prepared a detailed inventory of what was in all my boxes. There was among all that stuff 75 boxes of books. I knew I could be asked to unload everything and have the truck thoroughly searched. It was a slow night. There was little traffic.

Was the agent bored and wanting something to do? I opened the back of the truck for the agent to see my load. A long painful pause ensued. Finally, with a wave of the hand he had me close the door of the truck and he sent me on my way.

Two minutes after midnight I was waved passed the Canadian agent on the other side of the bridge. "Welcome to Canada." It was now April Fool's Day. I was safely in Canada with my 500 pounds of marijuana. . . . . . . . . . "April Fools!"

These were emotional days for me. The next morning I went out of my father's house and opened the back of the truck. There was everything I owned. Some of it had minor damage for the way I transported it. I lifted my Salem rocker off the end of the truck. Sat down. And, I cried.

Life had changed for me. I left a home, a job, a community of friends and a wife behind in the US.

I had no job, no house, few local friends, a unfinished suite of rooms in my fathers' house, a son who may need help to adapt without his mother near by and a new school and friends. I also was anxious about how my mother was going to behave. Two years earlier when I was facing divorce she had impulsively said "Come home, I will look after Parker." I had to tell her that I would look after Parker, he was my responsibility. Now here I was at her home just a flight of stairs would separate us. Was my mother going to try to take on the mothering role. I would have to forcefully say we would live separately. Their needed to be a lockable door between our homes. Also, Parker and I would eat together and not just be joining my mother and father for our meals. In the end, my mother had come to realize that she no longer had the strength to be doing everything for the two of us. I have no regrets about Parker have a few lovely years with my parents close by. At the time, It was all very stressful and depressing for me. What was our future be like?

I had been looking and interviewing for another church position. I had turned down an offer to become the minister at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Oneonta, New York. I decided to hold out for a position in Canada. To this day, I wonder if that decision was the right one. Oneonta is a lovely small city far enough away from larger cities to have it own integity. I liked the community and the church. It I had not had Parker, I probably would have accepted the charge. It is nice to see it is still a lovely town and a solid church.

I never did go back into the ministry full time. I had a couple of offers in the next couple of years I was back in Canada. One was to return to the US as the minister of the Third Unitarian Universalist Church in Austin, an inner city suburb of Chicago. Austin is a largely black community, in decay, adjacent to the up scale community of Oak Park. Just as in New Haven, the line between the black and white communities was just a street of two apart. . . two different worlds. At the time, I was very interested in the inner city and the life in the black community. I have lived in such communities in Roxbury, Ma. and New Haven, Ct. Austin was a tough community. For the one and only time in my life I envisioned owning a gun. In the end, the church broke the rules and did not offer me the job. They had heard that their former minister was unhappy where he was and they invited him to return rather than hire me.This is not supposed to happen but I did not protest.

There were a few rejections. The one that was hurtful to me was to be rejected by our church in Winnipeg. They discriminated against me because I was a single parent. In spite of my successful life being a minister and a single father in the church in New Haven, they felt I would not be able to give them my undivided attention. I was insulted and very disappointed that one of our churches would hold such a view and not be supportive of a single parent as their minister. With more than 50% of our minister's now women I imagine ministers that are single parents are readily accepted today.

One last chance to be a full time minister. I let pass. I was offered the Unitarian Church in Halifax. Unfortunately, I got the call the day my mother died. I asked them for a little time to make up my mind. After a week, I declined, thinking I should spend at least a year with my father as he adjusted to being without my mother. I don't know if that was a real reason or an excuse not to go. With that decision, I realized I might never get a chance to serve a Unitarian Church in Canada full time. It was another one or those moment on the road through life when the rest of your life might have been quite different.

It all began with that fateful April Fool's Day, so long ago. In any case, I look to that day as the watershed day in my life that I look backward and forward to what was and what has been working out since.

Happy April Fools. Perhaps, "happy" is not the right word in my case.