So God Made A Dog

I believe this one has been around for a while but I just heard it today for the first time. It’s beautiful and so perfect.

And on the 9th Day God looked down on his wide eyed children and said they need a companion

So God made a Dog

God said I need somebody to wake up and give kisses, pee on a tree, sleep all day, wake up again, give more kisses, and then stay up till midnight basking in the glow of the television set.

So God made a Dog

God said I need somebody willing to sit, then stay, then roll over then with no ego or complaint dress in hats they do not need and costumes they do not understand. I need somebody who can break wind without a first thought or second thought. Who can chase tails, sniff crotches, fetch sticks and lift spirits with a lick. Somebody no matter what you didn’t do, or couldn’t take, or didn’t win, or couldn’t make will love you without judgment just the same.

So God made a Dog

God said I need somebody strong enough to pull sleds and find bombs, yet gentle enough to love babies and lead the blind. Somebody who will spend all day on a couch with the resting head and supportive eyes to lift the spirits of a broken heart.

So God made a Dog

It had to be somebody who would remain patient and loyal even through loneliness. Somebody to care, cuddle, snuggle and nuzzle, and cheer and charm and snore and slobber and eat the trash and chase the squirrels. Somebody who would bring a family together with selflessness of an open heart. Somebody who would bark, and then pant, and then reply with the rapid wag of tail when their best friend says lets go for a ride in the car.

So God made a Dog

God said I need somebody who would stand at your side when the world around you collapses. Somebody to lie next to you during the long nights of pain and sorrow when it hurts to move, or talk, or think, or be. Somebody to stand guard, play games, snore for hours, and repeat as needed. Somebody to give you strength when you have none of your own. Somebody to fight when you have no fight left, to hold onto your soul as if it were their favorite toy, playing tug of war to keep you in this world. Somebody to be your companion and guide in this world and the next. Somebody to wait for you on the other side or stand guard in your absence until they can join you for eternity.

So God made a Dog

Among School Children

Continuing in a Yeats vein, I’ve always enjoyed his poem Among School Children. I look upon the poem as a commentary on growing older and, hopefully, wiser.

I

I walk through the long schoolroom questioning;
A kind old nun in a white hood replies;
The children learn to cipher and to sing,
To study reading-books and history,
To cut and sew, be neat in everything
In the best modern way—the children’s eyes
In momentary wonder stare upon
A sixty-year-old smiling public man.

II

I dream of a Ledaean body, bent
Above a sinking fire, a tale that she
Told of a harsh reproof, or trivial event
That changed some childish day to tragedy—
Told, and it seemed that our two natures blent
Into a sphere from youthful sympathy,
Or else, to alter Plato’s parable,
Into the yolk and white of the one shell.

III

And thinking of that fit of grief or rage
I look upon one child or t’other there
And wonder if she stood so at that age—
For even daughters of the swan can share
Something of every paddler’s heritage—
And had that colour upon cheek or hair,
And thereupon my heart is driven wild:
She stands before me as a living child.

IV

Her present image floats into the mind—
Did Quattrocento finger fashion it
Hollow of cheek as though it drank the wind
And took a mess of shadows for its meat?
And I though never of Ledaean kind
Had pretty plumage once—enough of that,
Better to smile on all that smile, and show
There is a comfortable kind of old scarecrow.

V

What youthful mother, a shape upon her lap
Honey of generation had betrayed,
And that must sleep, shriek, struggle to escape
As recollection or the drug decide,
Would think her son, did she but see that shape
With sixty or more winters on its head,
A compensation for the pang of his birth,
Or the uncertainty of his setting forth?

VI

Plato thought nature but a spume that plays
Upon a ghostly paradigm of things;
Solider Aristotle played the taws
Upon the bottom of a king of kings;
World-famous golden-thighed Pythagoras
Fingered upon a fiddle-stick or strings
What a star sang and careless Muses heard:
Old clothes upon old sticks to scare a bird.

VII

Both nuns and mothers worship images,
But those the candles light are not as those
That animate a mother’s reveries,
But keep a marble or a bronze repose.
And yet they too break hearts—O Presences
That passion, piety or affection knows,
And that all heavenly glory symbolise—
O self-born mockers of man’s enterprise;

VIII

Labour is blossoming or dancing where
The body is not bruised to pleasure soul,
Nor beauty born out of its own despair,
Nor blear-eyed wisdom out of midnight oil.
O chestnut tree, great rooted blossomer,
Are you the leaf, the blossom or the bole?
O body swayed to music, O brightening glance,
How can we know the dancer from the dance?

– William Butler Yeats

Yeats’s “The Second Coming”

“Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold…”

For some unknown reason these words have been going through my head the last couple of weeks. The line is from the poem The Second Coming by William Butler Yeats. I remember some of the poem from required reading of it in English Literature during my university days.

Written in 1919 in the aftermath of the First World War, the poem is also connected to the 1918–1919 Spanish flu pandemic. When read in the light of our current COVID-19 pandemic, it carries an eerie parallel.

In the weeks preceding Yeats’s writing of the poem, Yeats’s pregnant wife Georgie Hyde-Lees caught the Spanish flu virus and was very close to death. The highest death rates of the pandemic were among pregnant women—in some areas, they had up to a 70 percent death rate. While his wife was convalescing, he wrote this essential poem.

The Second Coming

Turning and turning in the widening gyre   
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere   
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst   
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.   
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out   
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert   
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,   
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,   
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it   
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.   
The darkness drops again; but now I know   
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,   
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,   
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

– William Butler Yeats

Remembrance Day

Today is Remembrance Day. I’d like to pay my deep respects once more to the uncle I never knew who gave his life in WWII, along with so many others, so that we could all be free.

Thank you, Uncle George.

George Clifford Quartly

Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (PPCLI), R.C.I.C., Company C

Killed in action near Monte Cassino, Italy
May 23, 1944

Uncle George is buried in Cassino War Cemetery
Cassino, Italy
Plot 9, A20

First they came…

Lately I have been reviewing, captioning and posting my travel shots and journal from our 2012 trip to Berlin, Germany. Looking over the pictures we took of the Holocaust memorials and remembering their impact at the time has put me in mind of the powerful First they came… piece of prose.

First they came… is the poetic form of a post-war confessional prose by the German Lutheran pastor Martin Niemöller (1892–1984). It is about the cowardice of German intellectuals and certain clergy – including, by his own admission, Niemöller himself – following the Nazis’ rise to power and subsequent incremental purging of their chosen targets, group after group. Many variations and adaptations in the spirit of the original have been published in the English language. It deals with themes of persecution, guilt, repentance, and personal responsibility.


First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for the Catholics, and I did not speak out—
Because I was a Protestant.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

– Martin Niemöller

You Could Have Heard A Pin Drop

This one has made the rounds before but as Remembrance Day approaches it is a great reminder to honour November 11th.

In France, at a fairly large conference, Former Canadian Prime Minister Steven Harper was asked by a French cabinet minister if Canadian involvement in Afghanistan was just an example of “empire building.” Mr. Harper answered by saying:

Over the years, Canada has sent many of its fine young men and women into great peril to fight for freedom beyond our borders. The only amount of land we have ever asked for in return is enough to bury those that did not return.

You could have heard a pin drop.


A Canadian Admiral was attending a naval conference that included Admirals from the Canadian, US, English, Australian and French Navies. At a cocktail reception, he found himself standing with a large group of officers that included personnel from most of those countries. Everyone was chatting away in English as they sipped their drinks but a French admiral suddenly complained that, whereas Europeans learn many languages, North Americans generally learn only English. He then asked:

Why is it that we always have to speak English in these conferences rather than speaking French?

Without hesitating, the Canadian Admiral replied:

Maybe it’s because the Brits, Canadians, Aussies and Americans arranged it so you wouldn’t have to speak German.

You could have heard a pin drop.


When Robert Whiting, an elderly Canadian gentleman of 83, arrived in Paris by plane at the French Customs, he took a few minutes to locate his passport in his carry on.

You have been to France before, monsieur?

… the customs officer asked sarcastically. Mr. Whiting admitted that he had been to France previously. The official replied:

Then you should know enough to have your passport ready.

The Canadian said:

The last time I was here, I didn’t have to show it.

The customs officer replied:

Impossible, Monsieur. Canadians always have to show passports on arrival in France!

The Canadian senior gave the Frenchman a long hard look. Then he quietly explained:

Well, when I came ashore on D-Day in 1944 to help liberate this country, I couldn’t find a single Frenchmen to show a passport to.

You could have heard a pin drop.


Canadians Are Cool…

Fog

The fog was rolling in a couple of days ago, and it put me in mind of the poem we learned in grade school – Fog. I seem to have retained this poem in my long term memory, I guess, due to its simplicity and imagery. I still love it all these years later:

Fog

The fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.

Carl Sandburg, 1878-1967

Halloween On Church Street: A Look Back

Yet again, COVID-19 has squatted over something near and dear to my little heart and taken a huge dump:

No Halloween street party on Church Street this year – BOO, HISS!!!

To add insult to injury, Halloween falls on a Saturday night this year <ggrrrrr…>

So, in lieu of the real thing this Halloween – as with our cancelled Pride Weekend earlier this year – I now present to you the best bits from Church Street Halloween parties of years past… Enjoy!

Halloween Prelude

Well, Halloween may not be happening on Church Street (or anywhere else) this year thanks to COVID-19 running rampant, but at least my physiotherapist’s office got into the spirit of things.

On yesterday’s visit I was greeted by this guy:

Fall Leaves

It’s that time again: Fall – my favourite season! The weather is cooler and the evenings are crisp. It’s also the most colourful season with the trees displaying those gorgeous shades of red, yellow and orange.

I made a few photo expeditions around the city this Fall to capture some of the changing leaves; here’s a small sampling of what I found:

High Park

Allan Gardens

Cabbagetown

Maitland Place

Ahhhhh, Fall… you gotta love it…