Organized chaos

Suddenly, people in the room felt a great deal of tension. A man rose from his seat in the middle of the auditorium. He cleared his throat. He appeared to muster his courage in front of several hundred others in the audience and a platform of political dignitaries. He looked to the moderator and began to speak.

“I am a taxpayer in Scarborough,” he began, “and I see the Scarborough subway extension coming, but I have a serious question…”

At precisely that moment, in the corner of the hall some sort of air compressor or ventilation pump clicked into gear. And the gush of air and the grinding sound of its motor all but drowned out the sound of the man about to ask the dignitaries present that serious question.

An emblem of grace and service

Chief Petty Officer Rodine Egan in Halifax during Second World War.
Chief Petty Officer Rodine Egan in Halifax during Second World War.

We met over the Red Maple Leaf. Or, I guess it was actually under it. We had only been her neighbours for a while, when she looked up at the Canadian flag hanging at my front door and took exception to it.

“You’d better take that down,” she said sternly. “It’s against the law for the national emblem to be that tattered.”

Originally resentful that my neighbour should call me out on the physical condition of my flag, I soon learned that my neighbour – Rodine Doris Mary Buckley-Beevers Egan – had every right to demand that I replace the flag. Not just to ensure that I wasn’t charged by the Government of Canada or the Queen herself for disgracing a national symbol, Ronnie felt personally obliged to fix such things. Indeed, I sensed it wasn’t only her nature, but her occupation.

All the world is his stage

OLIVER_TWIST_POSTEROur two families met during an elementary school production of “Oliver!” back about 1990. In the musical, our daughter Whitney performed the role of the old thief Fagin and Lisa and Conrad Boyce’s daughter Alida played Mrs. Bumble, the wife of the workhouse caretaker. Of course, the girls were great. I didn’t realize it right away, but Alida probably had an edge. She was coached by a man steeped in theatrical experience as an actor, director, producer and critic. In a note to me this week, Conrad described his own stage debut.

“I played my first role in Grade 1,” he wrote, “a Canadian history pageant (in which I was) Maisonneuve, the founder of Montreal.”

The face of writing

WCDR volunteers at the “Word on the Street” booth last Sunday afternoon in Toronto”s Queen’s Park Circle. (l-r) Ted Barris, Deepam Wadds, Donna Thompson & Adele Simmons.

The man approached us with plenty of confidence. He seemed self-assured, but had an inquisitive look on his face too. He pulled out a pen and paper ready to make some notes about who we were. One of us at our booth, on Wellesley Street in Toronto, asked him the burning question of the day:

“Are you a writer?”

“Sure am, “ he said. “I’m a poet. Have been all my life.”

Roundabout rules

Colorado Springs, Colorado, has fallen in love with the roundabout...
Colorado Springs, Colorado, has fallen in love with the roundabout... 68 times.

Last summer, I made an interesting discovery. Not surprising, since I was conducting research. But what I found wasn’t quite what I expected. Although it was actually quite close to home. I happened to be researching in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where, I discovered, they’ve been experimenting with something relatively new in their part of the world. What’s more, they’ve made a YouTube video about it.

“All about roundabouts,” the video says. “Getting in and getting out…”