Chasing a Dream

My temporary digs in Toronto                                                                                                             (Photo by Danny)

During the Spring of 2017, I separated from a forty year marriage and began planning a new life for Holly Golightly and me.  And as much as it pains me to write about such a private matter, I wanted to be very clear about one thing – it was not because of infidelity or anything nasty or sinister.  It’s been something I’d been wrestling with for several years and I was very unhappy, which resulted in an unhappy relationship for both of us.  I am not coming out of any closet – and I am totally straight – I just want for both of us to have happiness in our lives.

I decided to wait until my wife retired in December before leaving and we continue to share the same house, although we’ve had separate bedrooms and haven’t been intimate for many years.  We decided to list our house in the New Year and expect to have it on the market within the next few days.  We will be dividing everything equally, but I won’t be purchasing another home.  I wish her well, and that’s all I have to say on this matter.


In December, during one of my walks with the Surrey Trekkers and Vancouver Venturers Volkssport Clubs, I was chatting with my friend Frank S. about my future plans regarding housing options in Vancouver and he came up with a few recommendations that were very interesting.   But first, I had to resolve a pressing question, namely: ‘Where do I want to live?’  I had already decided to rent instead of buying but knew that it would be a challenge to find a place that allows dogs.  And I wasn’t sure if I wanted to remain in Vancouver – despite the fact that it is the best place on Earth – it is also very expensive.  So I started thinking about Vancouver Island and/or the Sunshine Coast.  But there was this silent voice from within, that urged me to consider my birthplace in Southern, Ontario.   That same voice reminded me of the secret dream I’ve had for many years, but shared with no one.  And now, I could begin chasing my dream!

But first, I had an appointment for a CT Scan on my lungs on January 12th.  A year and a half ago, they found two small spots on my right lung, and my oncologist wanted to compare the size of the spots after six months.  In February 2017, the CT Scan showed that the two spots were still in the upper chamber but now there were two additional spots on the lower chamber of the right lung!  Dr. K. scheduled my next CT Scan for September but by August, I was going through a lot of stress because of the separation and Holly’s illness and subsequent surgery.  I decided not to go for the scan or the follow-up appointment.  And I’m embarrassed to admit that I didn’t even call to cancel those appointments.

I stopped my daily walks and continued to slide into a deeper depression, aka feeling sorry for myself.  I had stopped communicating with my brothers and sisters for more than a year but fortunately, I still had my family at the Fraser Valley Cancer Centre in Surrey, whom I love dearly; and my best friends’ Norm and Robert – who I consider the older brothers I never had but always wanted.  But as close as these people are to me – I haven’t shared my dream with anyone – it’s always been a secret.

They say there are three types of secrets that we all possess, namely:

  1. Secrets we share with family
  2. Secrets we share with best friends
  3. Secrets we keep hidden deep within 

But all of that changed in early October when I learned about the Surrey Trekkers Volkssport Club.  And just as the BC Cancer Agency had saved my life eight years ago – this walking/hiking club dragged me out of the darkness and into a world of smiles and friendship!  We walk three times a week at various locations in the Lower Mainland and Washington State.  I also joined the Vancouver Venturers Volkssport Club and I’m a member of the Washington Trail Association.  Walking with these clubs has been an effective treatment because amazingly, I lost the depression during my first walk with the Surrey Trekkers.  It has been the best thing that I have done for myself – in a very long time and I’ll be writing a lot more about it in the future!  


Chasing a Dream

The snowbirds had already begun the migration to a warmer climate in early December, and several other flocks would be leaving in January, after spending the Holiday Season at home with friends and family.  But I, on the other hand, decided to travel to a colder place – Toronto, Ontario.  You should have seen the look on the faces of my fellow walkers when they learned about my plans to visit the land of ice, snow and frigid temperatures (and people).

‘Danny, why are you going to Toronto?’ they’d ask politely while trying not to roll their eyes in shock and disbelief.

Someone once said, “It’s better to keep your mouth shut and be thought of as a fool – than to open it and remove all doubt!”  But I’m not sure the warning applies to the written word.  But in any event, here are the reasons why I’m visiting Ontario for three weeks in January.  I want to find answers to the following questions, namely:

  • Would I be able to live in Ontario, after leaving thirty-six years ago?  

A lot has changed over the years.  I’ve always liked Ontario but I like the West Coast best, followed by the East Coast.

  • Could I live in ‘downtown’ Toronto? 

I last lived in Toronto in 1974.  It was in a high-rise apartment in Etobicoke at the end of the subway line.   But I want to stay in the heart of downtown Toronto, preferably in the harbor area with an unobstructed view of Lake Ontario.

  • Would Holly and I be happy living in a high rise condo or apartment rental?

Holly is twelve years old and needs to be able to go outside when Nature calls.  But I’ve seen lots of people in Robert’s old apartment building with dogs, so it’s a possibility.  But my preference would be something on the ground level with a bit of an enclosed patio or balcony, so it will be easier for both the dog and me.  The experience will be valuable regardless of what city I choose to live.

  • Could I give up my vehicle and rely on transit? 

I’m getting older and finding it more difficult and stressful, driving in rush hours and/or in heavy traffic and driving in the dark.  I also have less patience with ignorant drivers, who seemed to become more plentiful in recent times.  I’d rather just rent a car for the day when I need it and walk or take transit as my normal mode of travel.  You also see more when you’re a passenger. 

  • Could I endure the cold, cold winters?

I’ve already answered that question.  NO!  But I’m hoping to go south during the winters, so this isn’t a factor.  


But Danny, how are you going to afford a hotel in downtown Toronto for three weeks?

Relax, Spanky – I’ve done some online research – comparing the cost of hotels vs AirNB.  And in so doing, it didn’t take long to realize that I could rent a condo for about half of what it would cost to rent a hotel room, as well as other advantages, including: 

  • Avoid the cost of staying in a hotel with no refrigerator or stove to make my special meals
  • I also compared AirNB vs Craigslist
    • AirNB gave much more info and pictures and better variety of choices and only featured listings that were available Jan 13-31st
    • No idea if Craigslist listings were accurate vs AirNB – so I went with the better known of the two choices
    • I’d be living with condo residents vs hotel guests – because they’d be friendlier if they thought I was a new neighbor
    • Having a washer and dryer was an added bonus to avoid dry cleaning bills – pack fewer clothes

I found a condo in a high-rise on York Street and Queens Quay – with an unobstructed view of the lake and just a few blocks from Union Station, Air Canada Centre and of course, the iconic CN Tower.  The cost per night was $113.   But the fee was non-refundable after I took possession, so I hoped the pictures and info were accurate.  I booked the condo from January 13 – 3oth and paid in advance.  I also planned to stay in a hotel at the Toronto Airport on January 3oth to avoid the next day rush to get to the airport.

I also booked my flight and chose Premium Seating vs Economy.  I used to travel Business Class when I was working – but that was when I had Super Elite and Elite status with Aeroplan and had lots of upgrade certificates.

Friday, January 12, 2018 

I went to Surrey Memorial Hospital at 8:00 AM for my CT Scan.  They inject a dye intravenously into you and then you feel a sudden, warm rush throughout your body.  The dye reacts to any cancer cells that are present and makes cancer visible.  The scan doesn’t take too long – and I’ve had many of them over the past eight years.  I asked Dr. Karvat’s secretary to book the follow-up appointment for February 2, 2018, so I could do the trip to Ontario.  All I could think about during the scan was my trip to Ontario the next day and finally, chasing a dream – my dream!

Now that you’ve got a little background but before we start this journey together – you might want to fasten your seatbelt, stand behind the sneeze guard and hang on tightly because I have no idea how or when this story is going to end!


Saturday, January 13, 2018

The Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge was the perfect place to wait for my plane to begin boarding and I was thankful that I had upgraded to business class.  During the last fifteen years of my career with General Motors of Canada Limited, I was a frequent flyer and obtained Aeroplan Elite or Super Elite status every year – which meant lots of free upgrade certificates – priority boarding and unlimited access to the Maple Leaf Lounge.  So even when I had the lowest fare – I still had all of those benefits. 

The lounge has a self-serve bar & beverage service, food, and snacks; workstations, desks, magazines, newspapers, and television to watch while waiting for your plane to board.  Although retired for thirteen years, and I no longer have access to free upgrades – there is the option when traveling by Air Canada to purchase access to the Maple Leaf Lounge for $50 – even if you’re flying in Economy Class.  It’s a great option, to consider when traveling economy class.

We boarded the 787 plane, and I had a private domain – complete with a seat that became a bed, TV monitor and desk; headphones, remote control – and the unit is both a window and aisle location; with nobody sitting on either side of me. 

The flight attendant soon arrived with a glass of orange juice and a breakfast menu.  I explained that I’m not able to eat solid food but if they had a yogurt or ice cream – I’d be happy with either.  She also offered me a newspaper from Australia – which is where the plane had originated from earlier. 

Soon we were 39,000 feet in the air, and I had my headphones on and listening to one of my Eagles tunes, and they began serving breakfast.  I could tell by the heavenly fragrance – they were serving pancakes and sausages.  The flight attendant brought me a yogurt with the saddest expression on her young face.

‘Are you sure that I can’t bring you something else?’ she whispered.

I thought about asking for a cocktail, but I seldom drink alcohol anymore because it burns my throat.  Back in the day, I would have ordered a double vodka on ice, with a dash of 7Up for color.  

‘No, but can I ask you a question?’ I whispered, ‘do you know Captain Joe G.?’

Immediately, her eyes lit up, and she was smiling from ear to ear.  We talked about our mutual friend and how Joe and his wife, Brenda, were my neighbors when I lived in Bedford, Nova Scotia (1989-’92).  Joe has been an Air Canada pilot for many years; we used to run into each other when he flew Dash 8’s with Air Nova in the 80’s.  It’s why I usually fly Air Canada – to support a buddy’s employment – and he always drove a GM product.  Brenda’s father was the regional manager of GMAC, which was also a connection.

I tried to configure the seat into a bed but couldn’t sleep a wink – I was too excited.  I decided to listen to one of the playlists of music on my laptop.  Next, to breathing, music is a ‘must have,’ and I have a library of over 10,000 songs – all of which I purchased.  I have never downloaded music or movies for free – artists deserve to get paid for their work and pirating is unconscionable.  Would you work if your employer decided not to pay you?   Me thinks, not!

The pilot’s voice suddenly shattered a hot daydream I was having.  He announced that we were about to land and the temperature was minus 35 degrees Celsius, with the windchill factor!  A large gasp of shock and disappointment erupted from the passengers.  ‘Where did they think we were landing – Hawaii?’, I thought.

Soon we were at the gate, and I was first off of the plane and racing to the luggage carousel to retrieve my suitcases.  After getting my bags, I went outside to get a limo and just about froze! 

On the drive downtown, I called Ramy G., the owner of the condo apartment, to confirm the address on York Street.  He told me to ring his buzzer when I got to the lobby of the building, and he would buzz me in.  He said that the apartment was open and the keys were on the kitchen counter.

The condo complex was actually two large high rises connected by a large lobby on the main floor.  It appeared to be a fairly new facility and it had two security people on the lobby desk, so I felt safe and secure.  ‘So far, so good!’ I thought.

I rang the buzzer to Ramy’s suite.  He buzzed me into the building and I headed to the elevator.  The apartment was on the 35th floor.  I had no sooner opened the door to the apartment when I heard the sirens from the street below.  I quickly dropped my suitcases on the floor and ran to the balcony door to see if the fire trucks were stopping at this complex. 

And that’s when I got the next shock! 

There was a sliding door to the balcony but the balcony itself was only 18 inches wide!  Not a lot of space to do anything but stand – and it was definitely too cold to do that! 

And although the sirens weren’t for this building, it made me wonder how I would ever be saved in the event of a fire; there isn’t a ladder tall enough in Toronto, that could even reach the 35th floor and there aren’t enough sheets in the condo to tie together to climb down thirty-five floors, either!

I looked around the condo and although it was very small – it appeared to have everything I’d need for my three-week stay.  I was dead tired but wanted to catch the evening news on the television and that’s when I got the next surprise – the tv didn’t get regular network or cable stations!  There was only a menu to view Netflix and other video/game options.  I tried various options but couldn’t find an option to view regular channels, so I called Ramy and asked how to get the television working.  He explained that it wasn’t a regular television but he would come to the condo in the morning to explain how to use it.  I was too tired to argue, so I started to unpack.  But there wasn’t even a dresser for my clothes – just one small end table with two drawers, beside the bed.  

‘Caveat emptor,’ I thought to myself and decided to unpack in the morning, instead.

But the bed was comfortable and within seconds, I was counting sheep.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

I awoke very early in the morning – despite the three hour difference in time zones.   The first day of a vacation is like the last day of school in June or the last day of work before retiring – and the Little Danny inside of me was excited at the thought of watching his first sunrise from the 35th floor of a lakefront condo in downtown Toronto!

I finished unpacking, made myself a protein smoothie and then took a shower and it was still dark!  But after pouring my third cup of coffee, I noticed the first rays of sunlight break-dancing on the eastern horizon.  I grabbed my cell phone and took a few pictures but forgot to open the screen door, so the photo isn’t going to win any awards but it will at least give you a sense of the location of the condo and the waterfront.

Morning sunrise from condo

I tried to figure out the television again but despite my best efforts – I couldn’t even get the menu to appear on the screen – just an error message.  It was too early to call Ramy, so I decided to start writing updates of my trip and posting them on my Facebook and Twitter pages.  I also started to send out emails and text messages to my friends in Southern Ontario – with invitations to get together during my stay.  I even had a place to entertain guests!  But there was one thing missing in the condo – and that was my Holly Golightly!  I have never been away from her for three weeks and I know how much we’ll miss each other but I also knew that I had to put thoughts of her away or I’d be torturing myself with guilt and despair.

I decided to book a car rental online and went to the Costco website because their rates were the most competitive and I was able to get a great deal with Enterprise, which had a location across from Union Station – which was within a few blocks of the condo.  I arranged to get the car at Noon and spent the rest of the morning trying to get the television working.  At about mid-morning, I called Ramy and asked him about the television again.  I also told him that the condo didn’t appear to be very clean, which he was surprised to hear.  He said that he was out-of-town and wouldn’t be back in Toronto until the next day but that he would send someone up to the condo in ten minutes, to resolve any issues I had.  He also said that the person would also give me a remote control to open the underground parking.  

I waited until late morning but nobody appeared so I decided to walk over to the Enterprise office to pick up my car rental.  As I was going down the elevator, every time it stopped and people entered the elevator, I would nod and/or say hello.  But everyone avoided eye contact and ignored my greeting, except one person with a large dog – the dog growled at me!  It’s not often that I’ve had a dog growl at me – I normally get along with all dogs.  But the dog only learns what it’s master teaches and I was about to dismiss the incident when suddenly I heard the dog owner’s friendly voice.

‘He’s a rescue dog – from Texas, and we’re his temporary foster home,’ the man spoke quietly.  

He was a tall, bearded man – about middle-aged and he was well-dressed.  It was Sunday – I wondered where he was going with his dog but didn’t ask.  Instead, I told him how wonderful it was to meet another dog owner and flashed a picture of Holly from my cell phone.  I was tempted to make up a story about saving Holly from some disaster but the truth was actually the opposite – she was with me 24/7 during my cancer treatments and recovery period, several years ago, and she’s never left my side since.  We said our goodbyes and I watched the pair walk down the hall ahead of me.  Every few steps, the dog would turn to see if I was coming with them.  It made me both sad and envious.

I walked out the lobby door of the building and into the freezing cold.  I had dressed warmly but nothing could prepare me for the frigid temperatures.  I walked up York Street to Front Street and then walked passed Union Station until I got to the Bay Street shopping mall.  I was surprised at how quiet the mall was but remembered that it was Sunday – maybe everyone’s at church, I thought.  But when I arrived at the Enterprise storefront office,  a sign on the door advised customers to go to the depot, located in the basement to meet the agent on duty.  Within several minutes I was standing at the Enterprise Kiosk.

‘Good afternoon, I have a reservation,’ I announced, somewhat proudly.

‘Sorry, we’re all booked!’ the agent replied.

‘But I have a reservation,’ I protested.  I just booked it online a couple of hours ago on Costco.  How could you possibly be completely booked?  What about the car that was reserved for me?  Did you rent it to someone else?’ 

I was starting to get upset. 

‘I just about froze my kahunas walking here in the freezing cold, and you’re telling me you’re sorry?  Well, I’m going to call Costco and complain about Enterprise double-booking rentals.

‘Sir, Enterprise didn’t double book – your issue is with Costco.  If they had checked our inventory – they would’ve found that we had no vehicles available.  And that’s not our problem – it’s theirs!’

I stormed out of his office, swearing under my breath and began the walk back to the condo.  But I was so hot from being angry that I hardly noticed the sub-zero temperatures.  When I got back to the condo lobby, one of the security guards mentioned that the temperature was minus 35 degrees Celcius, with the windchill factor!  By the way, am I the only guy who used to call it the ‘windshield factor’?  

When I got back inside the condo, I called Costco Travel and spoke to an agent about the fact that I had just frozen my kahunas in the freezing cold because Costco had screwed up on reserving me a vehicle.  The agent I spoke to had little sympathy and offered to find me another vehicle. 

‘No, I called to complain.  I want to speak to your supervisor so I can lodge a formal customer complaint – so that this isn’t repeated again.’  But he put me on hold and I waited and waited.  I was getting too upset and decided to just hang up and reserve a vehicle on my own.  But it was now mid-afternoon, so I decided to schedule the pickup for the next day – but this time with Budget.  

I spent the rest of the day on my laptop sending and receiving messages.  Later, I took a stroll to the Sobeys store to buy some supplies including fresh soup, yogurt, Pellegrino, ice cream and Ensure.  This is what I’ve been living on every day, since 2009.  I noticed two pubs in the same mall and thought about going inside to watch the news but both places had sports programs playing for their patrons – so I wouldn’t be able to watch the news or weather, for yet another day.  I’m starting to go through ‘withdrawal’ without being able to watch my favorite television programs (especially MSNBC, SPORTSNET  & HBO).  If I can last three weeks without watching network television – maybe that would be worth it.  I spend far too much time watching television and following US Politics – so, it’s probably just as well.

Monday, January 15, 2018

After my usual morning routine, I turned on the laptop and began reading my emails and updating my social media pages.  I called Ramy and told him that I would be picking up a vehicle and needed the remote control for the parking garage.  I also explained that despite his promise that someone would come to show me how to use the television – nobody had come!  He assured me that he would make everything right but that he was in his car and outside the city but expected to be back at the condo in about an hour.  He would bring me the remote at that time.  I thanked him and said goodbye.

About thirty minutes later, I heard a sudden knock on my condo door.  I couldn’t be sure if it was at my door or the neighbors but whoever was knocking – he/she seemed angry.  And then, a few seconds later, the knocking started again!  And now it sounded like it was coming from the neighbors.  Or had it? 

I began wondering things like:

  • maybe it’s the paperboy collecting?  Or
  • maybe it’s a police raid and they’re about to bust down the door? Or
  • maybe it’s a jealous husband or wife?  Or
  • maybe I’m just hearing things…

Suddenly, the knocking became louder and more aggressive. 

I quietly tiptoed to the door and peeked through the peephole and noticed a short, elderly man standing outside my door.  He had a remote control device in his hand.  He didn’t appear to be the same person as the one pictured on the AirNB ad but I wasn’t sure.  I opened the door.

‘Ramy?’, I asked.

‘No, Ramy’s dead!’, the man explained.

WTF!  I couldn’t believe my ears – I had just spoken to him thirty minutes ago – and now he’s dead?!  I felt an instant pang of guilt and genuine sorrow learning of his tragic death. 

‘Oh my God! (OMG!)’ I was struggling to find words as the short man walked passed me and into the living room.

‘Nice view!  You like view? Yes?’ 

He was smiling, which I found a bit odd.  But before I could say anything, the man picked up the tv remote and started playing with the buttons until he was able to get the menu.  He became very excited and proudly proclaimed that he’d fixed my television.

‘No, sir.  You don’t understand; I know how to turn on the television – but I want to watch the news and weather…’

‘See?  You got Netflix and everything!’

‘Listen, buddy, I don’t want to watch Netflix – that’s why I have a computer.  I want to watch regular programs like Rachel Maddow on MSNBC or Bill Maher on HBO, not to mention the NFL playoffs!’

The man suddenly realized the gravity of the situation and stopped speaking.  He stared at me for the longest moment and then suddenly his smile returned and he walked over to the balcony door.

‘You like view?  Very pretty, yes?’

‘No, I mean yes, it’s a nice view.  But please stop for a second – what happened to Ramy?  How did he die?  Was it a car accident?”

‘Ramy not died!’ he protested, ‘he away today.  You like view?’

‘But you said Ramy’s dead!’

‘Yes, I Ramy dead!’ he blurted.

‘Oh, you’re Ramy’s dad?  He’s not dead, then!’   I fought the urge to scream.

We both stood there, staring at each other for several seconds – neither of us knowing what to say.  Suddenly, the man became excited and began smiling, again.

‘You happy, now?  You like view, yes?  I tell Ramy you happy, okay?’

‘No.  Please tell your son I am not happy.’  I then escorted him to the door – shook his hand and thanked him. 

I closed the door and stood there wondering, what the heck just happened?  I glanced at my watch – it was Noon and I still hadn’t done anything!  I went to the computer and checked for messages.  I got a message from my friend in Oshawa, who suggested I join the Vintage Oshawa group on Facebook.  I went to that page and started reading some of the posts and started viewing the many photos and posts of familiar landmarks.  I even recognized some of the peoples’ names – and started leaving them messages.  Some of them were guys I hadn’t even seen since high school.  Suddenly, I had to decide:  continue reading stuff on the computer or walk to the mall to get my car rental.  I quickly put on my coat, scarf, toque, and gloves and headed out the door.  The temperature was still in the sub-zero range – and I now wished that I had a packed my balaclava!

But the frigid temperature was a nice change from the mild, Vancouver winter I’d left behind, and it was nice to be able to wear my winter clothes, for a change!  But that sentiment lasted for about two seconds, as my kahunas froze instantly, and I found myself walking up York Street on my tiptoes.  This time I got smart and took a detour through Union Station.  Many of the nearby buildings and malls are connected to the train and subway stations, by a series of tunnels and walkways and it was nice to feel warm and cuddly.

Soon, I was standing at the Budget car rental desk.  I was almost afraid to ask…

‘Yes, I have a reservation for a small car,’ I said boldly.   I was ‘loaded for bear’ and wasn’t going to get pushed around.  I stood there stoically and waited for the rental agent’s answer. 

‘Yes, sir.  Your name please?’

‘Danny St. Andrews,’ I replied.

‘One moment, Mr. Andrew,  Let me check that for you.’

‘Actually, it’s St. Andrews!’, I politely corrected him.

‘Yes, okay.  Denny St. Andrew, right?

‘No, Danny as in Daniel,’ I calmly corrected him.

‘Do you put an ‘S’ in Andrews?

‘Yes, but only by habit.’ 

‘Oh dear, you’ve reserved a compact vehicle.  Would you be interested in upgrading to a Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV), for an additional $10?  They’re calling for snow this week and you’ll want to have four-wheel drive.’

‘Is that ten dollars extra, per day?’

‘Yes, Mr. Andrews.’

‘No, I’ll just stick with the compact.  If it snows, I won’t be driving anywhere,’ I lied (without feeling guilty).

After trying several other tactics to get me to upgrade to a more expensive vehicle, he called to their garage and started speaking to someone about what vehicles they had available.

‘Sir, we don’t have a compact vehicle, so we are going to give you an SUV for the same price.’

‘Awesome!  Thank you!’  Again, I lied.  I have been renting vehicles for many years and I know several universal rules on vehicle rentals, namely:

  1. Never rent from an airport location. There is a hidden ‘airport’ convenience fee that all the rental companies charge.  Also, most locations will let you drop off the vehicle at the airport for no additional fee – but you have to negotiate for this option.
  2. Never let them make you pay for upgrading a vehicle. They probably don’t have the type of vehicle you’ve reserved in their inventory – so don’t let them off the hook by agreeing to pay for an upgrade.
  3. Don’t pay for Sirius or WiFi – they charge $10 minimum per day. The vehicle you get will probably already have these – so why pay extra? 
  4. Don’t pay for roadside assistance. That too is a $10 per day charge.

I stuck to my position and didn’t waiver.  I ended up with a Jeep SUV – and it was loaded with options, including a heated seat and steering wheel!  And it had Sirius Radio and WiFi, too!  I could already feel my pair of kahunas growing back!  But I wasn’t through negotiating, yet.  Originally, I was only going to rent the vehicle for a couple of days – to drive to Oshawa to visit my parents and then on another day, drive to Angus, Ontario to visit my Aunt Fern.  But I was getting such a great deal – I decided to extend the rental for a full week – at the same price!  The agent agreed, and I drove back to the condo a happy boy; and proud of my negotiating prowess!

The drive back to the condo building took less than five minutes and pulled up to the underground parking door, which was closed.  I started pointing the remote at the door, but nothing happened!  I got out of the vehicle and started walking around the area – looking for a box or something to aim the remote at but there wasn’t anything visible.

Suddenly, the door opened and a car emerged from the underground.  I frantically began waving my arms in distress and hoped that the young lady driving, would stop.

‘Sorry, but I can’t get this remote to work.  Is there someplace I should be aiming at?’

But I didn’t hear the words coming from her mouth because she was the prettiest girl I’d seen in several days.  She had dark eyes – which reminded me of my gal pal Harinder; she was well-dressed and her smile almost invited me to flirt.  Geeze, maybe I should ask her what floor she lives on?

She started to explain how to work the remote – in a tone similar to the one you’d use when teaching a child something new.  I cut her off in mid-sentence by shouting ‘thanks!’, while jumping back into my vehicle.  ‘Why is it, that some people from a younger generation, feel it’s necessary to talk to seniors as though we’re senile or hard of hearing?’ I mumbled to myself, as I expertly parked the SUV in the tiniest of parking spaces.  

When I got back to my condo, I decided to make a few calls to schedule visits for the next few days, while I had the vehicle.  It was mid-afternoon, and it would be getting dark soon, so I decided to start writing a blog about this trip.  However, when I tried to log on to my website – I couldn’t perform any of the edit functions.  And although I could still access my emails and the internet – I wouldn’t be able to write or update this story about my trip! I spent the next three hours screaming and swearing at my notebook. 

I then turned my attention to the ‘wannabe’ television – wishing I could watch one of my favorite programs and wondering how I’ll survive without watching television for three weeks!  Suddenly, I felt alone and lonesome.  I made a few phone calls and decided to call it a day.  Tomorrow, I would be visiting my parents in Oshawa – I wonder if I’ll be able to find their place in the snow?  I called my Aunt Fern in Angus and made a date to see her on Wednesday. 

I also made a lunch date with a childhood friend – but that wouldn’t be until the next week.  I went to sleep thinking about her and wondering what we’ll talk about after not seeing each other in fifty years!

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

I decided to avoid the morning rush hour madness and arrived at the flower shop in Whitby, by mid-morning.  I bought two red roses – one of for each of my parents and then headed to their place in Oshawa.  It was nice getting into a warm vehicle and within a few minutes, I was cruising up the Don Valley Parkway and listening to Howard Stern on Sirius Radio.  The temperature was in the sub-zero range and it was cloudy but I was excited to be going home.

However, I always get anxious when driving down Thorton Road towards my Ma and Dad’s place.  By the way, I’ve always called my mother, ‘Ma’ and it used to really bother my Dad because he thought I was being disrespectful.  He probably thought I was comparing her to ‘Ma Kettle’ of the classic Ma and Pa Kettle movies that I used to enjoy watching.  But from my earliest memory – I’ve always called her that and she knew it was my special term of affection for her.   Here is a video clip of our visit:

Visit with Ma and Dad

I got back in my vehicle and decided to drive to a few of my old haunts in Oshawa and Whitby to take some pictures for this story. 

The first stop was 109 Iroquois in north Oshawa, where I first boarded during my last year in high school.  My parents had moved to Georgetown in the Summer of 1968 but I stayed in Oshawa, to be near my girlfriend, and worked part-time to pay my room and board.  This house used to be the home of her sister Vicky and her husband Jerry.  They had a son named Danny, too!   However, as I pulled my vehicle to the curb to take the picture, one of the neighbors came to their window and appeared to be concerned with a stranger taking pictures.  So I left without taking the picture but it was nice to visit a place I had not seen since 1969.

I then drove by the home on Sutherland Avenue where I grew up.  I have driven by this house every time I’ve returned to Oshawa for the past forty years.  The only thing missing on the street was the Chestnut trees and children.  A few years ago, I visited the last remaining neighbor – Mrs. Mills and she had told me that although there was the same number of kids living on the street now as there was in the fifties and sixties – none of today’s kids played outside!  Their exercise now is limited to playing on their computers.

But I really was shocked at the changes in the downtown area – it no longer resembled the once vibrant center of what used to be my Universe.  But then I drove down Albert Street – past 275 and Fuller’s Store, and over the famous wooden, Albert Street bridge to Bloor Street, where my first wife’s family used to live.  That house is no longer there.

I then headed to Whitby to drop by an old friend’s place for a short visit, and then I headed back to Toronto – to avoid the afternoon rush hour.  But Toronto’s rush hour begins at about 6:30 AM in the morning and lasts all day until about 8:00 PM!  I used to think that Vancouver and Montreal had the worst traffic (and drivers!) but now the award goes to the big smoke (Toronto).

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Good morning, Toronto!

 Even though I didn’t have my dog, Holly, to wake me up at two or three o’clock every morning to let her outside to go potty, I found myself waking up at that time anyway.  Habits and routines are difficult to break but I’ve always preferred being an early riser.  Sometimes, when I travel and find myself unable to sleep, I’ll get dressed and take a drive around the city, while drinking coffee and listening to music.  You’d be surprised at the number of people out at that time of night. 

I probably should have left earlier than I did and I should have also relied on Google Map’s automated directions because, within a minute of getting on the Gardiner Expressway, I was in a bumper-to-bumper traffic jam all the way to Highway 427.  But I was listening to music and enjoying the scenery, so I didn’t mind the delay.

I arrived at Aunt Fern’s place mid-morning and we had a nice visit.  I learn so much of my family’s history from her.  She was married to my Ma’s brother (Uncle Jim), who passed away in the 1990’s.  She never remarried and lives happily with Amanda, her granddaughter (my second cousin).   I left in the early afternoon to avoid the afternoon rush hour but promised to come back to Angus for another visit before I return to Vancouver.

Danny & Aunt Fern

Thursday, January 18, 2018

It was colder than I was used to but I was anxious to do some walking.  My friend Verni, from the Vancouver Venturers, gave me a copy of a 10 KM route of the downtown core that she had used when she had visited Toronto but warned that it was difficult to follow because it was printed several years ago, and much had changed.


I wasn’t anywhere near the start point, so I just used the instructions as a guide.  I used to work and live in Toronto, so I wasn’t worried about getting lost.

My first stop was at Union Station on Front Street.  I stopped to chat with a policeman and was able to get a transit supervisor to take a clip of our brief conversation.  Here is the video clip of our chat:

Danny and Toronto Cop

A few blocks later, I was standing at the Air Canada Centre – home of the Toronto Maple Leafs (hockey) and Toronto Raptors (basketball).  The next video clip shows the awesome bronze statues of famous hockey players.  The tribute to Johnny Bower was so touching, I got a lump in my throat, but that was because I almost swallowed my bubble gum.  Here is the video clip:

Toronto Maple Leaf statues

Walking along Queen Street at University Avenue, I stopped at Osgoode Hall Law School – which moved to York University in the 1960’s.  In 1980, I wrote my LSAT exam (and passed) and hoped to apply there as a mature student.  But I decided to stay with General Motors and the rest is history (no regrets).  

Osgoode Hall Law School

I decided to take a detour from the route that Verni gave me and walked over a couple of blocks to Spadina Avenue.  I used to work for a company (Morgan-Uster Inc.) that has long since moved or gone out-of-business.  Switzer’s and Shopsy’s Deli are both gone, although neither was quite as famous as Swartz’s Deli in Montreal.  Here is a video clip:

Morgan-Uster Bldg.

While walking south on Spadina, I met Eduardo.  He feeds pigeons – lots of pigeons!  My cousin Donna, who works in Toronto, told me that he is well-known but not well-liked by some.  But I like animals – and the people who feed them.  Here are two video clips:

Eduardo the Pigeon Man (Part 1 of 2)

Eduardo the Pigeon Man (Part 2 of 2)

 Next, I walked to the offices of the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer.  I was a member of the Measurement Steering Committee for a few years but our meetings were usually in Montreal – so, this was the first time I’d been at the head office.  Met with some of my friends and made plans to return the following week.  Here is a video clip:

CPAC Head Office visit

I continued my walk for another half hour and then got back to the condo for a hot bath – followed by an afternoon nap.  I was meeting a new friend for dinner that night and I wanted to make a good impression.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Today, I was supposed to drive to Coburg,  to visit my friends since high school – Alice and Peter Hrehoruk, but I woke up with a touch of Montezuma’s Revenge (traveler’s diarrhea).  Before leaving Vancouver the week before, I had heard that a lot of it had been going around but it hadn’t affected me, until now.  However, it may have had something to do with the two bottles of wine that we drank the night before and the fact, that I seldom drink alcohol because it burns my throat.

So I called Alice and we rescheduled our visit to next week.  Alice mentioned that she had had the same stomach issue earlier that week.

I spent the rest of the day in bed – except for a quick visit to the pharmacy across the street – for some Kaopectate (Bismuth subsalicylate).  While in bed, I was reading my emails on my laptop and got a suggestion from my friend in Oshawa to join the Vintage Oshawa facebook page.  I couldn’t believe how excited I was getting from viewing the old photographs that people had posted!  The pictures brought back memories I had not thought about in decades.  It was because of Vintage Oshawa, that I decided to visit both my public and high schools.  My friend Beth sent me the names of the school principals for Dr. SJ Phillips School and O’Neill Collegiate & Vocational Institute and I sent each of them an email requesting permission to visit their respective schools.  Hopefully, I’ll get permission from both because I was already getting excited!  

Saturday, January 20, 2018

I awoke, had breakfast, showered, shaved and was soon driving to visit my Grandma Puffer in Ingoldsby, Ontario.  It would take a few hours to get there but I listened to music and enjoyed the drive.  I arrived in Minden before 9:30 AM and drove to the florist shop.  I get the same lump in my throat when I think about my Grandma – she and my Ma were both heroes of my heart.  Here is a video clip:

Minden Flower Shop

I drove down the road towards Haliburton – passed a few interesting sights along the way to the cemetery in Ingoldsby, including Puffer Road, named after my Ma’s family.  Here is a couple of video clips:

Visit with Grandma & Grandpa Puffer

Visit with Grandparents and Uncle Ron & Aunt Kay


To be continued…




Today’s tune from Danny’s library (purchased):  


My First Blind Date

I was finally moving into my new apartment and it had only taken me a week to find it despite the numerous ‘No Vacancy’ signs hanging outside most of the high rises in the West End.  It was located on Alberni Street, a few feet from Stanley Park and it had an awesome view of Coal Harbour and the north shore mountains.  It’s probably a lot easier to find an apartment or condo to rent in Vancouver today than it was when I first moved here from Etobicoke, Ontario in 1973.  Back then, the vacancy rate in downtown Vancouver was less than 1%.

We had just started a business in Toronto and I would be living in Vancouver, Bobby would be in Montreal and Jack, the senior partner would remain in Toronto where our office and warehouse were located.  Basically, we were a textile company that sold to department stores and fabric stores.  Jack, the senior partner, was somewhat famous because he was the person who first brought polyester to Canada from Japan.  Back then, polyester was known by various names such as crimplene, crimpknit, trevira, dacron, terylene, and others, depending on country of origin.  We were importers and converters of textiles but most of our fabrics came from the United States.  But this story isn’t about fabrics… I just wanted to explain why I had moved to Vancouver.

I had been a manufacturers’ agent (self-employed salesman) that represented a number of companies in the textile industry.  I had a button and zipper line (HA Kidd & Co); trim and lace line (Morgan Uster Ltd); velvet line (Martin Fabrics) and my territory included Central and Northern Ontario.  I called on all of the established customers as well as constantly looking for new customers.  I was on a draw against commission – which means that each of these companies sent me a monetary advance on the first of each month.  I had to pay all of my expenses (living and work-related) out of that draw and hoped that my commissions for the month covered the advances.  My work-related expenses included leasing a vehicle, gas, meals, hotels, entertainment for others and dry cleaning bills for the suits I wore.  My living expenses were the usual – rent, utilities, clothes, and girls.  It was those combined expenses that made me become the best possible salesman I could ever be – I was too terrified of not covering my monthly expenses!

I can remember filling my car up with gas in Toronto and paying 39 cents a gallon!  I didn’t have a CHARGEX credit card at the time, so all of my purchases were in cash.  My monthly draw worked out to $175 per week – with no deductions for income tax etc.  And it used to cost me one hundred dollars to travel on the road for a week – gas, hotel and food.  Now you can better understand the source of my financial worries.  But I was happy – and within a few months – making good money!

Over the course of a few visits, I became friends with many of my customers in northern Ontario.    Later, when I went into business I decided to give my customers a phone call to thank them for their business and advise them of my upcoming move to Vancouver.  One store owner in Timmins became a close friend – she was like an aunt to me.   She said that although she was sad to see me moving, she did want me to know that her best friend had a daughter who now lived in Vancouver and she knew that the girl would really like me.  But I wasn’t interested – except – how do I say no to my friend (and customer)?  So I agreed and was given the girl’s name and phone number.  My friend, whose name I forget, said that she would call the girl and tell her to expect a call from me.  When I arrived in Vancouver, the last thing I wanted to do was call this girl – after all, I didn’t believe in blind dates (for both’s sake).  Besides, I had to get a new vehicle and find an apartment to rent in the West End – where the vacancy rate was less than 1%.

My priorities were like any self-respecting single guy – car first; pad second; business third; romance fourth.  I walked into BOWMAC – if you’ve lived in Vancouver – it used to have this huge sign on Broadway.  It was a GM Dealership and that’s all a kid from Oshawa would ever drive.  Anyways, I met Jim, a salesman about my age and within minutes, I had leased a ’74 Trans Am.  He invited me to his place on 10th Avenue – it was a large house and he shared it with three other guys.  Did I mention that it was a stone throw from the nurses’ residence?  Each of his roommates were also salesmen, so we had a lot in common.  And the nurses’ residence was nearby – but I probably already mentioned that.

That weekend, Jim and the guys and me did a little pub crawling – it was the first titty bar I’d ever been in and I was somewhat shocked.  It also gave me a sudden attack of loneliness.  But I was staying in a hotel and needed to focus on getting myself a place to rent.  Jim or one of the other guys would drive me around the West End, looking for a  ‘Vacancy’ sign outside, until one night we found the place on Alberni, close to Stanley Park.  I paid the rent and security deposit and waited until my furniture arrived before I could truly feel I was now a resident of Vancouver!

Sometime later, while sitting alone in my apartment, I pulled the paper with the girl’s name and number.  I fumbled with the paper – staring at it and wondering – should I call?  I gave into the loneliness and called her.  

Although it’s been many years, my memory only seems to remember important events and personal incidents – as opposed to remembering people’s names.  But I always remember a face and the memorable experiences things that I associate with that person.  So, if you asked me what this girl’s name was – I couldn’t tell you.  But I remember a number of things about her and I certainly remember that phone call and the date that followed.

She answered my phone call with a pleasant sounding voice and our conversation went something like this:

Girl:  Oh Danny!  [Timmins store owner] told me all about you.  I was expecting to hear from you weeks ago – I assumed you weren’t interested in meeting me.  

Danny:  Oh no, I’m sorry but I’ve been busy getting some wheels, finding a place to rent and conduct business at the same time.  I would like to get together with you – if you’re interested – but I know that blind dates are scary and …

Girl:  Yes, how about Friday night?

Danny:  Okay, yes, uh-duh, what’s your address?

She gave me her address and then quickly said goodbye.  She didn’t ask me anything about myself – which I thought was a bit weird.  And that’s when the doubts and fears started to ebb and flow inside my tiny brain. 

‘She’s probably desperate’ I thought, ‘maybe I’m the first guy that’s even called her in months!  Why did I ever agree with [Timmins store owner] to go out with her friend’s daughter?  I am such a ‘mark’ for a sob story!  But what the heck did I have to lose – being stuck with someone with whom I have nothing in common with? 

My new friend Jim almost answered that question for me, when I told him about the phone call and pending blind date.  Because after I told him that she lived in Surrey, he threw his arms up into the air and screamed that it was geographically impossible to have a girlfriend, who lived that far away from downtown Vancouver.  (Remember, this was 1973 – before the new bridges and skytrain!)

I bought a city map from a gas station and looked for her address.  I gauged the distance to be the equivalent of driving from Oshawa to Toronto (30 miles), which was a ‘piece of cake’ for a kid from Ontario!

I parked in the parking lot of her complex and then rang the buzzer to her apartment.

Girl:  Hello?

In the background, was the sound of either a baby crying or fifty fingernails scratching down the blackboard at school!  Now, don’t get me wrong – I love kids!  It’s just when the pitch of their crying is so high that it breaks windshields, that I get a little uncomfortable.

Danny:  It’s Danny… uh, duh…

Girl:  I’ll be down in a minute! I’m just giving the babysitter instructions.

I stood in the lobby and waited for the elevator door to open.  It did several times but not with anyone resembling a twenty-something-year-old girl.  After about ten minutes, she appeared – and I was shocked – she was nothing like what I had imagined.

I’d almost talked myself into believing that my blind date would appear wearing a t-shirt with a ‘eat your heart out – I’m married’ slogan; a cigarette hanging from her mouth; her hair in curlers, no makeup, and no front teeth.  Was I ever wrong – because the girl that appeared in the lobby was as beautiful as any girl I’d ever dated.  And although I still can’t remember her name – I can remember her face and body, and both were stunning!

She appeared to be surprised as she gave me the once-over, but her eyes seemed to light up and suddenly she flashed a beautiful smile – and she had teeth, too!

Girl:  Hi Danny. 

Danny:  Hi (Girl).

I didn’t want to appear too interested or anxious, but I couldn’t keep from smiling – from ear to ear. 

Danny:  You’re the prettiest girl I’ve seen in 3 weeks! 

I cringed immediately after saying it – even though it had always been my most effective ‘opening line’.  You should never let a person know you’re interested in them by acting too anxious.  ‘Try to maintain a little mystery, you jerk!’ I mumbled to myself.

Girl:  You’re not what I’d envisioned.

Danny:  In a good or bad way?

Girl:  I’m not sure.  It’s just that I’ve never been on a blind date before, but my Mom’s best friend kept calling me and insisting that I go out with you.

Danny:  I hate blind dates, too!  So, do I pass the test?

Girl:  I don’t know – it’s too early.  But I’ll know soon enough – it’s my job to be a quick study on people.

Danny:  Are you a cop?

Girl:  No.  I’m a customs officer.

Danny: ‘WTF!  (Why That’s Fascinating!) I shouted out loud, [The other WTF hadn’t been invented, yet] my Dad’s a customs officer in Toronto!

Oops!  I instantly regretted opening my big pie hole.  ‘Try to maintain a little mystery, you jerk!’ I mumbled to myself, again.

But she liked my car and within minutes we were on our way downtown.  I had found an awesome multi-level nightclub called Oil Can Harry’s at 752 Thurlow Street and it had live bands playing on each of the three levels.  I was hoping that she’d be seeing the place for the first time – because I knew it would impress her – and that is what any self-respecting guy would do on a date.  But as we entered the first level, the bouncer at the door – a giant of a man – suddenly started hugging my date and within a few seconds they were laughing and hugging and laughing and hugging and I was standing there like one of those wax figures you’d see in Madame Tussauds Famous Wax Museum.  I wasn’t jealous – I’ve never been jealous – but I felt kind of left out. 

February 25 1975 Vancouver Sun advertisement for Oil Can Harry’s on Thurlow Street [PNG Merlin Archive]

We grabbed a table and ordered drinks, but it was too loud to carry a conversation – so we just drank and danced.  I remember that she was a very good dancer and she smelled pretty good, too.  I was hoping for a slow dance, but the band kept playing fast songs.  But when they played the first slow song, I reached my left hand out to grab her right hand, but she instead put both of her arms around me in a hug – so I followed and soon we were standing alone, almost motionless on the dance floor.  I’m sure that there were people watching us and thinking that we should leave enough room between us for daylight, but we were both oblivious to the surroundings.  There’s something about a slow dance that if done properly, can be a green light to other, more passionate activity. 

Suddenly, she stopped hugging me and grabbed my hand and led me off the dance floor.  Within minutes, we were heading back to her place in Surrey.  I don’t remember much about the drive, but I do remember what happened when we arrived at her place.  How could I ever forget?

My date paid the babysitter and then put on some music.  I remember that it was Barry White, her favorite singer – whose songs were perfect for the evening.  Soon the living room was dark, with only the light of a single candle.  I could feel the excitement and anticipation growing, as she threw a couple of cushions on the floor.

Soon our eyes locked and she began moving closer until our faces almost touched.  Her eyes began to close, and I knew that she would be waiting for our lips to meet.  As we kissed, a debate began inside my little brain – should I try for more or just be content with kissing and hugging?  Most guys faced with this type of dilemma would think with their ‘other’ brain and make the mistake of trying to get to first base too soon (as though making out is like baseball!).  Nope, a person once told me that you should wait until you’re both ready to make a commitment to each other – such as going steady or marriage.  But just before our kissing got to the point of no return – she stopped and looked deeply into my eyes and said:

“Do you think I’m promiscuous?”

I stared back into her eyes, but I didn’t know how to answer her because I didn’t know what the word ‘promiscuous’ meant!  I had never heard the word before but in the heat of the moment, and somewhat out-of-breath, I guessed that it meant someone who was attractive or desirable – so I said YES!

It was the first time that I have ever had my face slapped and I was shocked and confused! 

‘WTF!’ (Why The Face!) I shouted, ‘I didn’t mean to upset you.  To tell you the truth, I don’t even know what that word means.’

But she was already standing and soon all the lights in her apartment were on and I was driving back to Vancouver.  She never told me what the word meant and we never saw each other again. 

The other mistake I made that evening was telling my new friend Jim about what had happened.  He couldn’t tell me what the word ‘promiscuous’  meant because he was laughing so hard.

And that, dear reader, is when I learned a new word.  True story.


Dedicated to my friend Doug Jackson – The World’s #1 Salesman (Retired)!



Snowflakes and Ice Cream

Danny’s place February 6, 2017


Nobody knows when it happened – but everyone knew that it had snowed during the night.  It’s an excellent example of the legal term ‘circumstantial evidence’ – although you didn’t see it actually snowing during the night – when you awoke and looked out the window – you accepted it as a ‘fact.’

But it seldom snows in Vancouver.  At least not like it has in the past three days!  In Seattle, yesterday was the second largest snowfall ever recorded in the past seventy years!  I’ve used my snowblower four times in the past two days – and now another five to six centimeters of snow this morning!  

I’ve been waiting for the ‘right’ time to resume my writing.  I can’t remember a year in my life when I had more hurt and disappointment than the past year (2016).  Usually, I bounce right back from setbacks but lately, I’ve found it takes much longer.  Life can sometimes seem to be like trying to put toothpaste back into its tube or feathers back into a pillow.

I recently returned from Montreal, where I had attended a meeting of the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer, Measurement Steering Committee – Person-Centred-Perspective.  Our committee’s five-year term ends in March 2017 but the mandate of CPAC has just been renewed for another five years by the Government of Canada.  I am hoping to be invited to serve as a patient advocate on one of the new committees.

So, now that I am back at the keyboard – and anxious to reveal all of my ‘uppers and downers’ of last year – where should I begin?

To be continued…




My Last Visit

Sometimes a tiny, almost-invisible spark appears in a girl’s eye when she is about to say ‘yes’, but even the eldest boys at the dance often miss this important signal.

As a young boy, all of the kids from the block would gather on the street and teams would be formed by Teddy H. and Bobby R. the two best athletes on the block, who would take turns choosing players for their respective team.  I was never the ‘best’ at sports, but I enjoyed playing all of them.  I remember standing beside 14 other boys, hoping I wouldn’t be last.  It didn’t matter how good a friend you were with Teddy or Bobby, you stood there anxiously waiting for one of them to look at you and nod.

But it wasn’t their nod that made you feel good for being selected early – it was that small spark in their eyes when they caught your hopeful stare – that ignited a flame inside.

“Good afternoon, Sir!”, chirped the lady at the front desk.

“Oh, uh, yes,” I suddenly awakened, “I have a reservation.”

“Your name please?”


Saturday, April 23, 2016

I arrived at the airport in Toronto in the late afternoon and was waiting for the Hilton shuttle bus to take me to the hotel in Mississauga. After about 20 minutes a Hilton Airport shuttle bus arrives, and I asked the driver if he goes to the Hilton Garden Hotel in Mississauga.  He says that he only goes to the Hilton hotel on the airport strip.

‘But isn’t the airport strip in Mississauga?’ I asked politely.

The driver just shrugged his shoulders, rolled his eyes and then drove away.

So I get out my hotel reservation and call the hotel only to learn that you have to make a prior reservation/arrangement for their bus to pick you up.  I angrily hung up – which is hard when you’re using a cell phone – I miss the satisfaction of slamming a phone down onto its cradle and hearing the thunderous sound that echoes in the other person’s ears for minutes afterward.

I decided to take a limo and after the driver loaded my luggage I told him that I was going to the Hilton Garden Hotel on Matheson Ave in MisterandMissusauga, Ontario.

I checked for messages on my cell phone during the drive to the hotel, and when we arrived, I paid the driver $38 plus a $7 tip.  I got a cart, loaded my suitcases and was standing in line at the front desk.  I was daydreaming about the spark in a particular girl’s eyes, when suddenly…


“Your name please?”  The lady behind the counter appeared to be getting annoyed at me.

“Sorry, yes, it’s St. Andrews” I answered, my mind racing to the present.  I looked around the hotel lobby and guessed that the hotel had only recently opened for business.  It still had that “new home” smell that makes it seem all the more ‘special’.  The smile was just beginning to form on my face when I heard…

“Are you sure you have a reservation at this hotel sir?”

“Yes!” I snapped back almost rudely.  “Is this not the Hilton Garden Hotel in MisterandMissusauga, Ontario?”

“Yes Sir, it is one of three Hilton Garden Hotels in MisterandMissusauga, Ontario!”

A crowd of onlookers began to gather in the lobby… making the scene both tense and stressful.  But I was the winner here!  Yes, and I have a copy of my hotel reservation which I am waving frantically over my head…

I approached the front desk and confidently leaned on the counter and stared into the young lady’s dark eyes and slowly, with my most excellent voice ever… whispered the following our lips just inches apart…

“Is this not the Hilton Garden Hotel on Matheson Avenue in MisterandMissusauga, Ontario?” I boldly and somewhat proudly demanded in a delivery identical to Donald the Trumpster.

“No Sir, this is not Matheson Avenue.  This street is Traders Blvd,” she replied somewhat apologetically as the crowd roared with laughter at my stupidity.

“Oh!” I tried hard to swallow, but I guess that my foot must have been between my new teeth implants.

There didn’t appear to be a spark in the young lady’s eyes, but she did come out from behind the counter to hug and console me.  I was a broken man, without a lot of options, and was hoping for a miracle.

When the front desk lady was finally able to break free from my hug, she quickly jumped back over the counter and offered to honor the reservation at this hotel if I paid the $21 difference.  It was cheaper than spending another $45 on a limo to get me to the right hotel – so I happily agreed.

I got to my room, undressed, and then fell fast asleep.


Sunday, April 24th

A continuous beeping noise was the first sound that I heard, and it appeared to be coming from under the bed.  Seasoned travelers know that you should never look under a bed in a hotel room, but I was no longer a seasoned traveler – so I got out of bed, got on my hands and knees and peeked under the bed…

It was my cell phone that was beeping!  But why was it under the bed?  I remember plugging the phone into the electric outlet in the bathroom –  so how the heck was it under the bed?

I looked at the time on the clock radio; it was 2:15 in the morning! Why was my cell phone under the bed and why was it beeping? I looked at the list of callers, checked for new emails, updated my status on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus but couldn’t find a reason for my phone to be beeping – or a button on the damn thing to stop it from beeping.

And then I woke up.  The room was frigid – I could almost see my breath.  I sat up in bed and stared at myself in the mirror – and wondered what had just happened.

I quickly jumped out-of-bed and raced into the bathroom – and to my surprise, the phone was still plugged into the wall.  It had all been a dream!  I breathed a sign of relief and opened the door to the mini bar.  So many choices.

I looked at the time on the clock radio.  It was 5:15 AM, which reminded me of a song by that name.  I closed the mini bar door and decided to have a bottle of water instead.  But first, I will jump into the shower.

I was drying myself when suddenly I heard a beeping noise!

The same noise from my dream!

I looked around the room but couldn’t find the source of the beeping.  And then it suddenly dawned on me – it was coming from under the bed!


This time, the search under the bed yielded the noise culprit – it was my notebook – giving me my wake up call.  Back in the day, I would have relied on getting a wake-up call from the hotel operator – usually, a hot-sounding front desk bunny softly whispering something like:

“Good morning Danny, it’s me, the gal of your dreams.  Please wake up, have a shower and shave – and meet me poolside (in the hot tub) in 20 minutes.”

Now, in the age of Star Trek, we are all a bunch of Captain Kirk wannabees – yelling into our flip phones and talking to our computers/laptops/notebooks/tablets or iWatches.

I quickly got dressed and called my youngest brother Randy, who lives in Oakville.  I would be staying at his place for most of my stay, and he and his wife Alice would be picking me up at my hotel. I wasn’t able to give him directions because I didn’t even know whereabouts in MisterandMissusauga I was staying.  But Randy has a university degree and is unusually smart (despite being married 13 times), and he assured me that they would find the hotel.

I should probably point out to those of you readers who are wondering why I didn’t stay at Randy and Alice’s place when I arrived.  It’s because I am usually so tired after a long flight and by the time that I arrive that I just want to chill and go to bed early. – and staying at a hotel is the easiest.

We had lots to discuss and plan during the two-week stay.  I was hoping to find answers about my past life in Ontario and learn more about my family and friends.

I would be attending a Lodge Meeting on Monday night – which would be my first time back since June 1982.

I also wanted to visit my parents’ grave site, see my brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, cousins and friends in the Southern Ontario area.

And of course, I wanted to see at least one Blue Jays Game while in town.  I was also hoping to take a trip to Haliburton to my Grandparents gravesite in Ingoldsby.


Monday, April 25th

I was driving to Whitby from Oakville to visit with my parents and then go to my brother Freddy’s place in Ajax, where I would be staying for the night.

I stopped at the florist shop in downtown Whitby and it was then that I noticed her!  Could it actually be her?  The Audrey Hepburn’s character Holly Golightly in the movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s  lookalike that I wrote about a few years ago?

Our eyes instantly met and it was then that I saw a tiny spark…

‘It’s her!’, my heart screamed.

My mind (and heart) raced back to that magical month in downtown Toronto and the mystical Holly Golightly lady at Tiffany’s.  (Here’s the link to that story: ).  But just as I cleared my head, she vanished into a crowded Tim’s Donut shop.

I entered the shop without thinking about what I would say or do.  It’s one of those things that you do on impulse – let the moment take you.  I could feel the excitement flowing through my body – but this time, I wasn’t going to let it end as it had before (see Danny’s previous post).

I stood in line searching for her but she wasn’t anywhere to be found!  How could she have disappeared?  Was I imagining this?  Yes, of course!  It was that re-occurring dream of mine: I was the “Fred” character and she was the “Holly Golightly” in my favorite movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

Do dreams ever come true or do they all die?

I laughed at my silly and ongoing fascination with romantic and adventurous dreams and walked into the flower shop.  I recognized the lady behind the counter – she served me last September when I bought the roses.  She knew that I was from Vancouver as I had given her my actor/writer business card.

Once again, I purchased two roses for my parents.  But this time I noticed a display of beautiful butterflies, which I have always loved – so I had the sales lady include them in with the flowers.  Neither of us had to say what the roses or butterflies meant – she had obviously been on a similar journey in her life or maybe she has been reading my blogs – the website is listed on the business card I gave her last September.

I meant to make a mental note of her name but forgot.  And although I could see the faint outline of a tiny spark in this lady’s eyes, perhaps it too had been extinguished by a broken heart.  Who knows what burning secrets are locked in the deepest corner of anyone’s heart?

I had tears in my eyes as I left the flower shop and so did the nice lady.  I waved goodbye, wondering if I would ever be back to her store?  It’s funny but I am sure that I’ve known her from a previous life.  Or maybe she just reminds me of someone.    She never returned the wave, she just stood there staring as I drove away.

I pulled up to the Dad and Ma’s place on Thornton Road in Oshawa.  It’s just a short walk to their resting place but with each step, a new tear would fall onto the flowers that were clutched tightly in my trembling hands.

And as I laid them down, the butterflies seemed to flutter their wings – as though they wanted me to follow them – but sadly, it was just the wind.


I sat down and stared at the gravestone and wondered why it didn’t hurt so much this time.  Had time finally healed the scars?  Was it time to finally let go?  Would this be my final visit to see them?

As I got to my feet to leave, I noticed the shadow of a person standing beside me.  I quickly turned to see who it was but there wasn’t anyone there!  I looked at the ground beside me – and the shadow was still there!  I stared in disbelief – was I finally losing it?

Suddenly, the sky darkened and a single beam of sunlight streamed from the heavens to the spot in the cemetery where I had parked.  And there beside the car was a little boy on a bicycle.  He looked strangely familiar and so did the bike he was riding.  And then it dawned on me…

Danny's first bike

It was me!

And I was staring back at me – the 9-year-old on my first bike that my Ma had bought me with money that she had saved from her housekeeping fund.  It was a used bike – just like all of the skates and most of my clothes – hand-me-downs that no longer fit any of the original owners.

I watched as Danny got on his bike and started riding out of the cemetery.  He was just leaving the gates and then he stopped, turned and waved at me to follow him!  He had a serious look on his face – it was neither happy or sad – but why was I seeing this obvious hallucination – this blast from the past?

I quickly started to walk back to the car – forgetting to even say goodbye to my parents.  Danny wanted me to follow him – I don’t know why or where but I knew that if I didn’t, I’d probably regret it.

I had no sooner gotten into the car when I noticed a beautiful scent and it appeared to be coming from the back seat.  I quickly glanced in the rear view mirror and found myself staring directly into the eyes of you-know-who.  She had a concerned look on her face but there didn’t appear to be a spark.  In fact, her eyes were dark – very dark and they seemed to be pleading with me to do something. She finally pointed her finger at the younger Danny and I knew that she wanted me to follow him.

I turned to see Danny frantically pedaling his bike down the street towards Rossland Road.  And every block or so, he would turn to see if we were following.  And we were!

Within a few minutes, we arrived at the Midtown Mall in Oshawa.  I turned to the Holly Golightly lady sitting beside me but she was just sitting still, quietly staring at the back of a house that overlooked the mall.  Tears started flowing…

It was Mrs. Simpson’s place!  This was the place where I had rented a room – no meals – just a room in the basement.  This is where I lived during my last year in high school in 1968/9.  My parents had moved to Georgetown but I stayed because I was in hopelessly in love.

It wasn’t until I had gotten out of the car that I noticed that little Danny had disappeared!  I turned to see Holly approaching the mall entrance and caught up with her just as she reached the door.  She waited quietly while I opened the door for her and she smiled at me as she entered.

I wasn’t ready for what awaited us inside.


‘To everything… there is a season’ (or so the saying goes), is definitely true because everything I remembered about the mall had changed.  The Dominion Store, Gambles Department Store, Shoppers Drug Mart, Country Hearth Restaurant and even Dino’s Men’s Wear – where I worked after graduating high school – were no longer there!  There were only a few people wandering around the mostly deserted mall of my youth.  It made me sad but then I saw little Danny waving for me to follow him.  Again, he began to pedal his bike like he was going to a fire.

I ran back to my car and within minutes, I was traveling to the next old haunt on my bucket list – Sutherland Avenue – the street where I grew up on.  I parked outside our old home and searched up and down the street for a familiar face but the street was very quiet.

Our old house looked great – she had aged well with time.  I wondered how we all had managed to live in such a small home – with six children and two adults sharing a 3 bedroom, 1 bathroom home and only 1 telephone on the wall in the kitchen.

I wanted desperately to sit on the front steps – just as I had all of those years ago but didn’t know if the people living there would mind.  I looked beside me and then behind me but the Holly Golightly lady was nowhere to be seen.

And as I looked back at the house, I saw my dear Ma – a much younger mom – sitting with me as a baby.

My first photo with my Ma

My Ma and me on the front steps

She was probably in her late 20’s at the time.  I wonder how many of today’s ‘Moms’ could do as well at raising a family as our moms did back in the day.

Little Danny at the front door

Little Danny at the front door

Those front steps were wonderful to see again and I decided to knock on the front door and ask if it would be okay to sit there to take a ‘selfie’.  A young lady answered the door and I introduced myself.  She smiled and seemed very happy to meet one of the home’s original inhabitants.

Her name was Nancy and she could tell that I was getting emotional.  She offered to take a few pictures of me sitting on the steps.  I handed her my cell phone and then sat down on the steps – for the first time since 1968!


It didn’t matter that the entire street had changed.  The chestnut trees were all gone and most of the homes had had updating done.  But there was something missing.  I was just about to say goodbye to Nancy when it dawned on me to ask her if there were any of the original neighbors still living on the block?

To my surprise, she said yes!  She went on to say that Mrs. Mills from 3 doors up the street, was still alive; was 96 years old and still drove a car!  I asked Nancy if she thought that Mrs. Mills would mind if I knocked on her door to say hello?  She said she thought that Pauline would be thrilled to see me.

Wow, I didn’t know that her name was Pauline – my girlfriend in 1968 was also named Pauline.  She was the one who had broken up with me shortly after our engagement.  I heard that she’d married well and was living happily ever after, in Toronto.

I almost ran up the sidewalk – the same sidewalk that I had slept on as a young boy.  Ma said that she could never get me to take an afternoon nap and that she would often find me fast asleep on our sidewalk.

I knocked on the door and a tiny lady answered.  She was much shorter than I remembered.  But I was much younger back then and grown-ups always seemed so much taller and older.  ‘She probably won’t remember me,’ I thought.

“Hello Mrs. Mills, I don’t know if you remember me – I’m Danny St. Andrews from down the street.”

“Oh my!” she cried, “It’s so great to see you!”

She was still very alert and seemed quite independent.  We talked and talked and then I said goodbye.  She told me that Kerry, Ronny, and Philip all lived on Vancouver Island!  Kerry was the oldest of her boys and we had been the best of friends.  I have not seen any of her boys since 1968.  I gave her my business card and told her that I would keep in touch.

“Danny, I remember when you were a boy, there were 16 kids living on this street and they were always outside – from morning to night – playing.  Now, although there’s still the same number of children (if not more), and yet there is never any of them outside playing.  They are all inside their homes playing video games or watching television!” she said and then smiled as she waved goodbye.

Just as I was getting into my car, little Danny pulled up beside the car.  I rolled down the window to speak but couldn’t get a sound out.  I wanted to tell him so much.  But seeing him finally gave me something that I’d lost all of those years ago.  In 1968, I went from being an 18-year-old kid to being a grown man, with too many responsibilities and nobody to guide me but “me, myself and I”.

This is where all of my dreams were born and soon, I will be able to put them all to rest.

Danny in 1968

It has taken me a lifetime of searching to find what I was looking for and now, I was starting to ‘get’ what I had never been able to understand.

And as I drove away, I could see little Danny in the rear view mirror.  He was pedaling as fast as he could but he couldn’t keep up.  I tried slowing down but the car kept going faster.  I started screaming “faster! faster! and pleading for Danny not to give up but his poor little legs weren’t strong enough.  My eyes were filling with tears as I whispered a goodbye to him.  Our eyes met for one brief moment and I watched as the tiny spark in his eyes flickered and then he disappeared.  I hope he thinks I turned out okay or mostly okay.  Goodbye, little Danny!

Danny in better times

Little Danny

Seeing little Danny made me realize, after all of these years, that he was always afraid of not being accepted or loved.  And for a brief moment, an overwhelming sense of sadness returned; it was like a knife to the heart.  How unhappy that little boy must have been.

I drove around my hometown for the rest of the day.  And I knew that it would probably be the for the last time.  Maybe it’s true – that you can never go back?


Saturday, April 30th 

It will be hard to ever forget this date.

They say that ‘sad things come in threes’.  Well, on Saturday, April 30th, it sure did.

The first shock of sadness came when I opened Facebook and saw my cousin Donna’s daughter Leila’s picture, holding her newborn son Zion before saying goodbye to him.  I cried when I read it and I am crying now as I write about it.


Can’t sleep, today is going to be a hard day. Saying goodbye to our little man, Zion. ❤ Wish this was all just a dream and I could wake up and hold you forever. ❤ R.I.P Zion ?❤

I drove to Donna’s house, knowing that she would be at the hospital.  I sat in the car in her driveway and thought back on all of the happiness in that house.  I left my business card and a lot of teardrops at the front door.  Little Zion was loved by many, many people and we will cherish him forever.  I wish that I could have given Donna and Leila a huge hug.  So very sad.

Later, on my way back to Randy and Alice’s place, my brother Freddy called to tell me that his best friend Geoff had just passed away that morning.  The funeral would be in Georgetown on Tuesday.  I told him that Randy and I would go to the funeral with him.

The third sad event that day was when I got an email message that my friend Harold’s wife had just passed away that day from cancer.  I sent him an email with my condolences.  Harold works at Surrey Memorial Hospital/Fraser Valley Cancer Centre and I know that all of his co-workers are with him and share his sadness.

I can’t remember a day or week so sad.  It sure wasn’t turning out to be the exciting trip that I had planned.


Monday, May 2nd

On Monday, I drove to Cambridge, Ontario to meet with three of the guys that used to work with me in Western Canada.


Western Region Alumni (L-R) Maurice, Gerry, Danny, and Allan.

We worked hard, played harder and always got out of town before anyone could catch us.

I asked the waitress to take some pictures/video of us.

Happy to meet…

WR3 (2)

sorry to part…

Happy to meet, sorry to part, hoping to meet again...

and hoping to meet again…








Tuesday, May 3rd

Randy and I drove to Georgetown to attend Geoff Parker’s funeral.  We paid our respects to his wife Nancy and their children and grandchildren.  It was great to see his brother Greg, who I used to hang out with in the early 70’s.  It was the first time we’ve seen each other since 1973!

Before leaving, we decided to visit the house on Delrex Blvd. in Georgetown where my parents moved to in 1968 (I remained in Oshawa to finish high school).


Delrex Blvd., Georgetown






Another sad goodbye...

Another sad goodbye…





Randy and I then returned to his place in Oakville to get ready to go to the Blue Jays game that night.


The baseball game was a thrilling, nail biter.  I bought some souvenirs and then Randy and I headed back to Oakville on the train.


(R-L) Sister Linda, her son Russell, Danny and Randy. Freddy is standing above.












It was on the GO Train that night that I realized that what I had come to Ontario searching for, was no longer there.  The burning questions had all been answered.  The flame was dying… a tiny spark continued to flicker for a few painful moments… and then everything became quiet and at peace.

It was finally time to let go of that Holly Golightly lady.  The movie character I loved as a teenager and my life-long crush was just a silly fantasy – and it finally dawned on me why.  Little Danny always dreamed of things that he could never hope to ever have but it never stopped him from trying, because quitters seldom win.  Besides, Audrey Hepburn passed away some years ago – why chase a dead dream?

And it was also time to finally store away all of the other memories from that period of my life.

But saying goodbye to my little Danny was the hardest part of my past to let go of – and I couldn’t.  Because little Danny is who I was; who I am; and the who I hope to always be!

The next morning I returned to Vancouver – to my Holly Golightly.

My Holly Golightly - she's a Coton de Tulear

My Holly Golightly – she’s a Coton de Tulear


And that is where a spark always shines – in her eyes and in my heart.



My Holly Golightly & Audrey Hepburn: A Love Story

Dear Reader,

Although I have been writing a blog (a journal of my stories) for several years, they haven’t always been with the same web-hosting company.  I have changed hosting companies several times but a few years ago, during the transition to the new site, I lost a blog that I had initially posted as a 3-part series titled My Holly Golightly & Audrey Hepburn (April 2012).

Well, today I was going through some files on my old desktop computer and found it hidden in an archive folder titled My Holly.

Now I’m not very superstitious, but it’s interesting to note, that I will be traveling to Toronto, Ontario next month on the same day as that magical trip I took there several years ago.  So what better way of celebrating an anniversary than to re-post the series again!  

So if you’ve already read this story – you might want to refresh your memory.  If you haven’t read this series – well, hold on to your toupee – things are going to get weird!  

Hugs, Danny

My Holly Golightly & Audrey Hepburn – Part 1 of 3  (Originally published April 2012)

Last night, during a deep and peaceful sleep, I suddenly awoke to the most bizarre sight ever.  I sat upright on my bed and began hugging my pillow in terror.  There on my bed was

But first, let me give you a little background.

My Holly Golightly - she's a Coton de Tulear

My Holly Golightly 

Holly Golightly is a Coton de Tulear.  I named her after the character Audrey Hepburn played in the classic film Breakfast at Tiffany’s  (my favorite actress and movie).

Holly Golightly (Audrey Hepburn) in Breakfast at Tiffany's (my fav movie)

Holly Golightly (Audrey Hepburn)

Audrey and my dog Holly have two things in common – they both have beautiful eyes, and they both have a magical connection to me.

But Danny, Audrey Hepburn passed away several years ago – and Holly, your dog, is just a dog.  What magical connection could you possibly have with either?

Patience, dear reader – patience!

A few years ago, I spent a month in the Land of Toronto – on a highly-classified and very secret mission.  The organization that contracted me cannot be named – I signed a non-disclosure agreement – and I am, if nothing else, a man of my word.  Let’s just say they have a significant influence on global entertainment matters.

I rented a furnished condo in the downtown (Yonge St & College St) area under the assumed name of  I.P. Knightly.  The condo building was very secure – with a security guard stationed at the front door – 24/7.

I also chose the condo because the Metropolitan Toronto Police Headquarters is right next door.  I scanned the surrounding area and noticed the SWAT snipers on the rooftops of adjacent buildings.    Naturally, there was a Donut Shop on the same block.  However, I have already mentioned too much – so I’ll just get to the part about the Audrey Hepburn and Holly Golightly connection.

About two weeks into my mission, I decided to take a day off.  I had been working long hours in a very dangerous part of the city known as Yorkville.  It is a corridor of trendy boutiques, galleries,  and restaurants – where the rich and famous would gather to shop, dine and giggle.  But these people don’t live in the city – they come from the surrounding suburbs such as Mr. and Mrs. Auga, Niagara Falls And Sometimes It Doesn’t, Union and NonUnion Ville, Dorothy Hamil-ton, Bow Man Ville, and Oshawa (birthplace of the Kardashian Sisters).   But I wasn’t going to spend my day off in Yorkville – I needed a change – some place different.

I was walking on Bloor Street, just west of Yonge, when suddenly I noticed the ghostly image of a beautiful woman – and she appeared to be staring at me.  I took off my mirrored sunglasses and began rubbing my eyes.  Was I having a drug flashback from the ‘60’s?  Nope, there she was – as real as real could be.  As our eyes met, she waved for me to come closer – but I stood there – frozen in fear.  She smiled, and it was at that moment that I became sure of her identity – it was Holly Golightly – the character I had worshiped since the ’60’s!

And there she was – about to open the door to a store.  As she entered the store, she briefly turned and looked at me.  Her eyes seemed to be telling me to follow her.  I quickly glanced at the sign above the shop window – Tiffany & Co.  Could this be possible?

I entered the store and was immediately captured by a beautiful scent of perfume – coming from this mysterious woman.  No, it couldn’t be Audrey Hepburn – heck, she died several years ago.  Who was this woman?

She stopped at the elevator and turned to see if I was still following – I was.  We entered the elevator together – and then the door closed.  Neither of us reached for the “floor buttons” – we just quietly looked at each other.  She smiled.  My body started to shake and tremble with an excitement I hadn’t felt since my first day of High School.  Who was this woman?  She pressed the 3rd Floor button – and then continued to smile at me.  I took a couple of steps closer to her – close enough to hear and feel her breathing.  But before I could say anything, the elevator door opened.  The mysterious woman then motioned for me to follow her.   I was in shock – she appeared to be Holly Golightly – but how could this be possible?   Who was this woman?

She was standing by a glass display case – with an assortment of rings.  She looked at me and pointed at one ring in particular.  “This one,” she whispered.  And then she vanished.  My heart stopped – and so did the time.  I just stood there – numb and in shock.

“Would you like to try it on?’, asked a salesclerk.

“Yes,” I replied, “but first tell me who that lady was!”

“What lady?” he answered.

To be continued




My Holly Golightly & Audrey Hepburn – Part 2 of 3  (Originally published April 24, 2012)

“The lady that was…. that was just… ” I stuttered,  “she was just here … a few seconds ago!”

“I am very sorry sir, but I’m the only sales clerk working on this floor today” he replied.   “Are you feeling alright?  Would you like me to bring you a glass of water?”

He appeared to be genuinely concerned.  I knew (based on my many years of sales experience) that I was dealing with a real professional.   He was well-dressed – Brooks Brother suit and patent leather shoes – probably from an exclusive haberdashery in Yorkville.  He also appeared to be “edgy” and somewhat “needy”, as most salespeople paid on a “commission basis” tend to be.

No thanks.  Maybe I’ll just try on the ring.”

The ring was very unusual – it was flexible, comprising of many small, interlocking-silver chains.   Inside the ring was a small plate with the inscription “T&Co.”

Danny's Tiffany Ring

Danny’s Tiffany Ring

The salesclerk carefully took the ring from the display case and gently handed it to me.  He then stood back (as per the Tiffany & Co. protocol) and allowed me to try on the ring.  He began smiling – which was his way of telling me that he knew he was dealing with a customer from a foreign land.

“Forgive me for asking, but you don’t appear to be from the Land of Toronto – are you here for a visit?” he asked.

My body stiffened – questions began “racing” through my mind.  How did he know I was an outsider?  Was it because I had licked my finger several times, before trying on the ring?  Or was it the “Eagles – Hell Freezes Over Tour” t-shirt that I was wearing?   (Torontonians are die-hard fans of Hank Snow, and rock ‘n roll hasn’t gone over there yet).

“Yes,” I answered, “I’m from Rochester, New York – on a bus charter to see the CN Tower and Ontario Place.”  I felt a bit guilty for lying – but only for about 3 seconds.

“I’ll take the ring,” I told him.  “Don’t bother to wrap it; I’m going to wear it.”

Later that afternoon I returned to the condo.  As I walked through the lobby towards the elevator, I noticed one of the doors closing – I shouted – “Please wait for me!”  The door suddenly stopped and then opened.  I was surprised to see that the elevator was empty.  “Hmmm, must be high tech voice-sensors” I muttered to myself.  I pressed the 33rd-floor button and waited as the elevator started moving.

Suddenly I felt someone’s presence behind me – I quickly turned – and there she was –  Holly Golightly – or Audrey Hepburn – or her ghost!   She stared at my hand – and when she saw the ring, her eyes started to twinkle.  She held out her hand – and the ring that Fred had given her (from the Cracker Jack box) suddenly and miraculously changed and became identical to the ring I had just purchased.  Our eyes met, and it was at that moment that I noticed the tears running down her cheeks.  And before I could say anything – she vanished!

As I left the elevator, I noticed a couple leaving their condo and walking down the corridor towards the elevator.  With them was a small white, shaggy dog – who started running to me.  It had the most beautiful eyes, and it was very friendly.  I introduced myself to the couple (using my alias) and asked them what their dog’s name was and what breed.  They told me it was a Coton de Tulear, and his name was Buddy.  The woman reached into her purse and wrote the name of the breeder on a piece of paper.

“Are you in town long?” they asked.

“No, I will be leaving in a week or two” I replied.

“Maybe you can join us for dinner or drinks?” they shouted as they entered the elevator.  Buddy, the dog, turned and stared at me – with the same sad expression as the Holly Golightly mysterious woman I had just seen (or hadn’t?) in the elevator.

There was something oddly familiar about that dog – but I wasn’t sure what it was.

To be continued 




My Holly Golightly & Audrey Hepburn – Part 3 of 3  (Originally published April 26, 2012)

“Why not join us for drinks sometime?” they shouted as they entered the elevator.  Buddy, the dog, turned and stared at me – with the same sad expression as the Holly Golightly mysterious woman I had just seen (or hadn’t?) in the elevator.  There was something oddly familiar about that dog – but I wasn’t sure what it was.

I saw Buddy several times before leaving the Land of Toronto – he was such a friendly and lovable dog.   Being with him made me miss having a dog – Beau (my Pomeranian) had passed away the year before, and I was still grieving his loss.   However, I decided that if I was to ever get another dog, it would be a Coton de Tulear – just like Buddy.

Fast forward to the next year.  I returned to the Land of Ontario to house sit for Linda (my sister) and Brian at their home in Ajax.   They were vacationing in the Land of the Free and had tickets to attend a live taping of the Jerry Springer Show.  Each day I would visit with my Mom at the Parkway Retirement  Home in Pickering – and we would faithfully and eagerly watch the Jerry Springer Show in the hopes of seeing Linda and Brian in the audience.  Although we never actually saw them in the audience, we were pretty certain that we heard my sister’s distinctive voice screaming of “Jerrrrreeeee – Jerrrrreeeee!”

One day while visiting my Mom – we were talking about Beau (who was named after my Mom) and how much I missed him.   We were watching television and the Wheel of Fortune show had just ended (my Mom’s favourite program).  We flipped through the channels – when suddenly – there she was!  No, not my sister, silly!  It was Audrey Hepburn (Holly Golightly) being featured on the Biography channel.  I went numb with excitement and could barely speak.  “Mom, that’s my favourite actress of all time” I explained.  I then told her about my visit to the Tiffany & Co. store in Toronto and buying a “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” ring.    I didn’t mention the Holly Golightly/Audrey Hepburn sightings – she wouldn’t have believed me – in fact, who would?

But seeing Holly Golightly/Audrey Hepburn reminded me of that dog Buddy – and that was the connection!  They both had dark and mysterious eyes.  I quickly checked my address book and found the listing for Buddy’s breeder.  It was long distance – a western Ontario area code.  I dialed the number and a man answered.  I asked him if he had any pups available and he indicated that he had just one left – and it was a 4 month-old female.  I told him that I was very interested and would it be possible to go there the next day to see the dog?  He agreed and then proceeded to give me directions to his farm – it was in the Land of the Mennonites (which explains his rather odd accent).

Early the next morning I headed out on the “401” – which at that time of the morning, was a continuous 50 mile traffic jam.  I finally reached the breeder’s farm and saw the pup.  She was beautiful – and had eyes just like Buddy!  The breeder told me that she was the last in the litter – and had an issue with her hip – but she was otherwise healthy.  The kennel was a building beside the barn – the dog had never been in a house.   I paid for the dog and as soon as I got her in the car, I called her by her new name “Holly Golightly”.  A few days later we were on our way back to Vancouver – with Holly in a soft pet carrier, under the seat in front of me.  She never made a sound and despite being confined for several hours – she didn’t “mess” the carrier.

But Danny, what about that mysterious Holly Golightly/Audrey Hepburn woman or ghost?

Well, it’s like this….

Not long after getting Holly, I saw another Audrey Hepburn movie “Two For The Road” for the first time – and was “crushed” by the character she played.  She was having an affair – and not being faithful is the one thing that neither Fred or I would ever be able to forgive – regardless of how much we loved her.   It shattered my attraction for Holly Golightly although I  am sure that Audrey Hepburn was in fact, a  beautiful woman/person – and nothing like the character(s) she played.

As for Tiffany & Co. – it lost it’s wow factor for me when I learned that Newt Gingrich had a $500,000 line of credit there.  I haven’t worn my Tiffany & Co. ring since.

But Danny, what about the terror you mentioned in Part 1?

Well as I stated, I was in a deep and peaceful sleep when suddenly I awoke – frozen in terror.  The TV in my room was on (I always leave it on during the night – it helps me sleep) and Holly was awake and staring at me.  At first it was the music – and then I saw the TV screen – it was the scene in the movie where Holly Golightly is on the outside of Fred’s  bedroom window in Breakfast at Tiffany’s!  What are the odds?  Spooky!!!

And at the same time, my dog Holly Golightly was staring at me – with the saddest expression – as if she was trying to say “Don’t give up the dream”.  I got up from the bed and went to the dresser and got my Tiffany & Co. ring.  Holly watched as I put it on my finger – and then she laid her head back down and went to sleep.  And as I laid there beside her I thought about the mysterious woman from that day, five years ago, on the elevator at Tiffany & Co. in the Land of Toronto.

Hopefully, Fred will never see that Two For The Road movie…… it would probably break his heart too!

NOTE!The part about the Jerry Springer Show is not true – my sister Linda would never watch that show… but my brother Freddy might…… I’m just sayin’……

Holly Golightly hiding behind Danny

Holly Golightly hiding behind Danny at sister Linda’s place in Ajax, Ontario (2007)

UPDATE: March 14th – I’ll be wearing the ring when I visit Toronto in April – and who knows?  Maybe I’ll see her ghost again… 



The Tush Man – Part 2 of 2

Note:  Please read Part 1 before reading this…

The very next day I got a call from the Tush Man’s office advising me that my exorcism (colonoscopy) was scheduled for Thursday, July 16th.  They also gave me instructions on the medications that I needed to purchase and that I would have to fast – and have nothing to eat for a day before the procedure.  And as I hung the phone up, I could swear that I felt the aliens burrowing further into my colon and that’s when The Fear began…

Monday, July 13th

I tried pinching myself to see if I’d been dreaming – and that’s when the doorbell rang.  Holly started to bark – as she always does when people come to the door.  I quickly put her into the den and then I rushed to open the front door. 

“Hello, I am from the Township of Langley Licence Department” the lady said as she smiled at me. I noticed that she was holding a receipt book in one hand and a handful of what looked like dog tags in her other hand. 

Although I’ve had dogs for most of my adult life, I have never believed in getting a dog licence for any of them.  And it’s not because I’m too cheap, or that I’m some kind of radical anti-government anarchist or something.  It’s just that all good dog owners believe that their dogs are members of their family – and consider their dogs as children.  And because no kind, decent, law-abiding person would ever licence a child – why would I ever want to licence my Holly Golightly?  She’s not a car or a truck for heaven’s sake!

“Hello” I replied. 

“May I call you Dan or would you prefer Daniel?” she asked politely as she began to write in her receipt book.

“Whatever is fine” I answered.  (Actually, I prefer Danny but most people call me Dan or Daniel – but that’s for another story.)

“And you have just the one dog?” she asked.

“Dog? What do you mean?”  I was lying through my teeth and was just about to deny having one when Holly started to bark.

“Is Holly Golightly your only dog?” she asked.  She appeared to be losing patience with me.  But how did she know my dog’s name was Holly Golightly?  Maybe one of my neighbours ‘ratted me out’.  Or maybe someone in the Township of Langley reads my blog and has read about Holly… or…

“Oh, you mean my little gal Holly!” I laughed, “it’s just that I’ve never considered her as a dog.  And she knows me as her Daddy.”  I was stuttering and my face was turning a very deep, dark shade of red.  I felt like the little kid who got caught with his hand in the candy jar.

The drone from the Township proceeded to lecture me on the need to be a ‘good citizen’ and a ‘good dog owner’ just like everyone else does.  She made me feel very guilty and foolish.  I guess that’s why you should never lie – because chances are the person that you’re lying to is actually smarter than you – which makes you ‘dumb and dumber’.  And all of the while that she’s lecturing me, Holly is barking loudly and non-stop in the den!

I paid the license fee and sheepishly closed the front door.

Anyways, back to my tush.

I started taking the medication 3 days before the colonoscopy – which meant never being more than 20 steps away from the washroom.  On the day before the procedure I wasn’t supposed to have anything to eat but I was supposed to drink plenty of clear fluids right up to 2 hours prior to the examination.  The pharmacist also explained that I could expect to pass a lot of gas for a few hours after the colonoscopy.

Thursday, July 16th

10:00AMArrived in the Langley hospital lobby but wasn’t sure where I was supposed to go for the procedure.  I studied the various signs but none of them gave directions to where ‘tushes’ are examined.  I decided to ask someone but hospital staff are difficult to identify because they don’t wear the traditional white uniforms anymore.  I noticed a smiling face in a uniform staring at me, so I approached her.

Me:  Can you help me?  I am here for a colonoscopy but I don’t know where I am supposed to go.

Smiling Lady:  Sorry sir, but this is the Starbucks kiosk.  But could I tempt you into trying one of our triple chocolate, triple cream, high fibre, non-gluten, watermelon-chai latte?

Me:  No thank you – but can you tell me where the washroom is located?

Several minutes later I finally found my way to the Ambulatory Daycare section.  A nurse greeted me and gave me a clipboard with a number of forms to complete.  She asked me to return the copies to her once they were all completed, signed and dated.  The only part of the form that I wasn’t able to complete was the part that asked my height (in cm’s) and weight (in kg’s) – ’cause I’m still trying to learn the metric system, which I hate with a passion. 

The nurse gave me a gown and told me to change – and then to add insult to injury – the nurse told me to make sure that I put the gown on correctly – with the opening on the back.  I quickly got changed and then opened the curtain to the cubicle that I was in and noticed that the nurse was still standing there.

Nurse:  How tall are you and how much do you weigh? 

Me:  Sorry, but I only know my height in feet and inches (5′ 11″) and my weight in pounds (190  lbs). 

I laid on the bed in that cubicle for almost an hour – waiting for my turn.  It was obvious that all of the other people were there for the same procedure – because I could overhear all of the conversations between the patients and the nursing staff.  And part of what the nurses were saying made me smile – the part where they said that you will have a lot of gas after the procedure but that it is normal and okay.  In fact, the nurses all mentioned that they encouraged everyone to ‘fart’ whenever you get the urge.  And that made me smile – ’cause everyone knows that all boys like to ‘fart’.   It was at that same moment that I suddenly heard an outburst of ‘farts’ from a number of the cubicles in the room.  One in particular seemed to be in three different notes/decibels and it lasted for at least 8 seconds! 

And as I laid there in the bed – waiting for my turn to go into the Operating Room – I thought back to when I was a boy scout at camp.  We would all be in our sleeping bags trying desperately to fart – in order to make our friends laugh – and one of my friends asked if anyone had ever seen a ‘flaming fart’?  We all shrugged our heads and collectively answered ‘no’.  It was at that point that my friend grabbed a wooden match and after grunting and groaning for a few seconds he was able to muster up a ‘fart’.  And just as he began to fart he lit the match, held it close to his tush and suddenly there was a fairly loud ‘Pooooooooooof’ noise – accompanied by a large blue flame!  Everyone in the tent laughed and shouted our approval and then each of us grabbed a handful of matches.  

The nurse suddenly appeared at my cubicle and announced that it was my turn.  And as they wheeled me out of the room and down the hall, I gave the other patients a ‘thumbs up’ as a form of encouragement to continue with the ‘passing gas melodies’ during my absence.

The Procedure

For those readers not aware of the colonoscopy procedure – it may sound scary but it really isn’t painful or uncomfortable.  But it is a very important diagnostic tool and I don’t want the humour of my blog to minimize the importance of having regular checkups – for men and women – as your best defence against cancer.  Colorectal Cancer is one of the most difficult cancers to detect and the mortality rate is one of the highest of all cancers.  And it doesn’t matter your age, sex or lifestyle. 

Within twenty minutes of entering the operating room – the procedure was over.  And it was painless – easier than having your teeth cleaned at the dentist.  As they wheeled me back to the recovery area, one of the nurses told me that everything looked fine and they only found one small alien (polyp) which they removed.  She said that the results of the biopsy will be sent to my family doctor in a couple of weeks.  She also reminded me that I would be passing a lot of gas for the next 24 hours.

And just as we entered the recovery ward I noticed another patient being wheeled down the hall towards the operating room.  And as we passed each other in the hall, I held up my hand with my ‘thumbs up” as a sign of solidarity and encouragement – and then I noticed who the other patient was – and I was shocked!

It was none other than the drone lady from the Township’s Dog Licensing Department. 

‘Karma’, I thought to myself. 

I only made one stop on my way home from the hospital – at the corner smoke shop to buy a pack of wooden matches.


Dedicated to my friend Lui Pasaglia and all other Colorectal Cancer Patients/Survivors




Danny and Lui Passaglia (Colorectal Cancer Survivor)

Danny and Lui Passaglia (Colorectal Cancer Survivor) at the 2015 PUSH FOR YOUR TUSH WALK at Jericho.  Danny is registered for the 2016 Walk in the Fall.

The Tush Man – Part 1 of 2


The earliest reference to the word ‘tush’ can be traced back to the earliest known traces of civilization – in the cave drawings found on the mountain side of Grouse Mountain, in North Vancouver, BC. Some historians have postulated that the original name of the mountain was Tush Mountain, and that it was changed when the first Prime Minister of British Columbia swept the Morality Party (a.k.a. Conservative) into power in the year 1491 AD.  A year later Christopher Columbus discovered the eastern shores of what is now known as New England. Nobody seems to know why the earliest inhabitants named the mountain Tush Mountain but after months of research, I have determined that it was because the mountain resembled a human’s tush (aka backside, bum, ass) when it is viewed at dusk from the shores of Tushview Village, (now known as White Rock).

However, my story has nothing to do with those interesting bits of trivia but it does have everything to do with ‘tushes’.

Let me explain.

It all began several months ago when my youngest brother Randy in MisterandMissesAuga, Ontario phoned to tell me that he had just had a colonoscopy procedure done as an outpatient at the local hospital. He explained that his family doctor had a practice of always giving him a ‘finger probe’ into the deepest regions of his tush whenever he had a physical examination.

Me: But why would a doctor stick his finger in there?

Randy: Because it’s the only way they can tell if there is anything growing inside your body. For goodness sake Danny, haven’t you seen the documentary film The Alien, starring Sigourney Weaver?

Me: Yes, I remember seeing that film but I thought it was just a work of science fiction.

Randy: That’s exactly what the government wants you to believe – that aliens from outer space can enter your body only in make-believe. But they’re for real and the sooner you realize this, the healthier you’ll be.

NOTE: Randy is the only one in our family who graduated from university, so it is understandable that he knows so much more than his oldest brother (and much, much more than our two, much older sisters).

Me: And that’s how you get rid of the aliens hiding in your body – by a doctor sticking his finger in your ‘tush’?

Randy: No, silly! He only sticks his finger in there to count how many of them are residing there. Once the doctor confirms that you have aliens in your body, he sends you to a proctologist.

Me: A what?

Randy: A tush doctor. Didn’t you ever see the Seinfeld episode – about the tush doctor who had a ‘The Ass Man’ vanity license plate?

Me: Jerry Seinfeld had a television show?

Randy spent the next hour explaining the procedure and why it was important for me to have it done.

Randy: My proctologist found several aliens living inside of me and he was able to cut them out. He also explained that the aliens had a name – they are known as ‘Polyps’.

Me: What do they do with the ‘Polyps’ once they’ve removed them from your.., uh… duh.. tush?

Randy: They put them in a box – so you can take them home with you. Alice knitted some tiny scarfs for each of them and we put them on the fireplace mantle during the winter holiday season (a.k.a. Christmas).

Me: So why are you telling me all of this?

Randy: Because my tush doctor told me that I should tell my brothers to have the procedure done too. I think it has something to do with the fact that we were born and raised in Oshawa – a city known to be favoured by the earliest Polyps invaders. Please promise that you’ll get the procedure done!

Me: Okay. I’ll call my family doctor today.

Several days later at my family doctor’s office…

Dr. W.: – Hi Danny, what can we do for you today?

Me: My baby brother told me that I should get you to… stick one of your fingers… er, uh, duh… into my…

But before I could say ‘tush’ the good doctor had already started applying axle grease – to the tips of his fingers all the way up to his elbow.

Dr. W.: This might hurt a little…

Several minutes later my doctor finished the examination and declared that although he couldn’t detect any aliens (Polyps) he was referring me to a proctologist anyway. He said that these Polyps are very sneaky and not always detectable by ‘the finger/arm probe’.

A day or so later, I got a phone message from the office of a Dr. such and such and that I had an appointment for a consultation.

Several weeks later, I arrived at the tush doctor’s office. However, I forgot the name of the doctor I was supposed to see and there were at least 50 doctor names on the door of the office.

Receptionist: Hello, can I help you?

Me: Yes, I have an appointment with a doctor at this address but I can’t remember his name.

Receptionist: We have over 50 doctors in this office – what were you seeing him for?

Me: Uh.. er… duh… it’s about having my… uh.. duh… um… it’s about having the aliens removed from my… uh… duh…

Receptionist: Your tush?

Me: Uh, yeah.

Receptionist: Go down the hall and it’s the third door on your left.

When I entered the office of the Tush Man I noticed that there were other patients there – both men and women, children and adults.

‘Gee whiz’, I thought to myself, ‘these Polyps must be everywhere!’

Suddenly, a young man in a white coat came into the waiting room and asked for Danny St. Andrews. I was amazed at how young the doctor appeared. The second thing I noticed was the length of his fingers (and arm) – and then I cringed at the thought of another examination.

Tush Man: When did you first notice that you had aliens living in your body?

Me: Shortly after my family doctor removed his arm from my… tush.

Tush Man: Take off your shirt and lay on this table.

He then started pressing his hands against my stomach. He did this for a couple of seconds and then declared…

Tush Man: Okay, you can open your eyes now and put your shirt back on – my office will call you with your appointment date.

Me: Forgive me for asking… but how old are you? You look very young to be a doctor – when did you graduate?

But what I really wanted to know was why the examination hadn’t included the Tush Man inserting his arm into my tush.

Tush Man: Don’t worry, I’ve done thousands of these exorcisms.

Me:  Did you know that Jerry Seinfeld had had a television show that had an episode about the Ass Doctor?

Tush Man:  Who is Jerry Seinfeld?

The very next day I got a call from the Tush Man’s office advising me that my exorcism (colonoscopy) was scheduled for Thursday, July 16th.  They also gave me instructions on the medications that I needed to purchase and that I would have to fast – and have nothing to eat for a day before the procedure.  And as I hung the phone up, I could swear that I felt the aliens burrowing further into my colon and that’s when The Fear began…

To be continued…




A shiny, red Rolls Royce


I haven’t written anything new for a couple of weeks and that’s because I’ve been busy getting ready for my cross-country tour of Canada.  But something weird happened recently that I just had to share with you.

I was on the first leg of my daily walk along the promenade/beach in White Rock, when I noticed a shiny, red Rolls Royce pulling into the parking lot.

‘Oh, here we go’ I thought, ‘another rich, spoiled, yuppie showing off in his Daddy’s car!’

Suddenly, I felt an onrush of envy flooding the depths of my being.

“Stop!” I screamed to myself, “why should you be jealous of someone, just because they have a nice car and lots of money?”

I continued my walk and continued to think about the silliness that had almost consumed me.  I have seldom felt jealousy or envy in my otherwise normal existence – but that’s not bragging – it’s just that I have seen how it has affected other people.  Jealousy and envy might motivate some people but I have always been motivated by hunger – because I spent the latter part of my teenage years living on my own and I can remember many days going hungry.  Thankfully, my girlfriend at the time worked part-time as a waitress at her Dad’s restaurant in Oshawa, Ontario and I got many a plate of fries and gravy while waiting for her to finish her shift.

So even though I seldom feel jealousy or envy, I hate it when people “flaunt or show off” their expensive toys.  And that day was no exception because on the return leg of my walk I passed the shiny, red Rolls Royce in the parking lot and there were several people (all men) gathered around this older gentleman who was all dressed in red, including his red shoes and socks! 

“Oh just ignore him, you fools!” I thought as I continued walking. 

For the next 2 days I noticed that same old gentleman standing beside his Rolls Royce with a Swiffer (feather duster) in each hand.  And on each day there was a crowd of men standing around the car – their eyes green with envy and despair.  I actually heard the older gentleman ask if any of them wanted to sit in the car?

“Don’t encourage him!” I screamed to myself at the exact same time that I tripped and fell to the pavement – directly in front of the parked, shiny red Rolls Royce.  But before I could gather myself to get up I felt a man’s hand on my shoulder.

“Here my friend, let me give you a hand” the older gentleman offered.  He then helped me to my feet – while some of the onlookers were actually chuckling at my misfortune.  BTW, ‘chuckling’ is a man’s way of giggling.  I could tell by his accent that he was from England – probably from the Luton area.  One of my oldest friends (Geoff L.) and one of my prettiest (Harinder A.) are from there so I knew that he must be a wonderful person – despite his shiny, red Rolls Royce. 

“My name is Peter” he said as he offered his hand, “are you okay?”

“Yes thanks, I’m Danny and I’m okay” I grimaced.

Peter led me to the rear of his car and opened the trunk.  Inside the trunk was a large red duffel bag and one smaller red bag, which was a first aid kit.  I have one of the exact ones in my car, so at least we had that in common (but I resisted the temptation to ask him how much he paid for his first aid kit).  He offered to render some medical assistance but aside from a few scratches on my hand and a bruised male ego, I was fine – so I politely told him that I was okay but that I appreciated his help. 

And then there was that awkward silence that always follows this type of situation.

“What year is your Rolls?” I asked.

“It’s a ’91 but it has been off the road for 17 years” Peter explained.  “It was owned by an old guy in West Van who had also owned a dozen other luxury cars  – all parked in a very large garage.  He even owned a Lamborghini.  But due to an illness he hadn’t driven any of the vehicles for many years – he died recently and I bought the Rolls from the estate.”

We stared at each other for a moment and then I replied “But he couldn’t take any of them with him!”

“No, he definitely couldn’t,” agreed Peter.

Again I resisted the temptation to ask how much he paid for his shiny, red ’91 Rolls Royce.

“Here, have a sitdown in the car” he offered.

And as I sat in the driver’s seat of the shiny, red ’91 Rolls Royce, I thought about how wrong first impressions can be.   And I also felt a pain in my heart – I missed having my Great White Shark even more now.  BTW, you can view the Great White Shark here .



Once in a Blue Moon

Originally published September 1, 2012

A Blue Moon

It’s not often that you learn something new every day, or at least that’s how it seems when you’re traveling through life in the fast lane.  And that’s because living in that fast lane becomes so complicated, that you don’t have time to think about anything but the priorities that you’ve programmed into the deepest depths of your being.  Luckily for me (and you, dear reader) I’m not traveling in that lane anymore; I’m no longer in that race to nothingness – I saved myself from being doomed.   No Corky, this isn’t about religion – it’s about waking up and smelling your armpits and remembering why you shower every morning.  Let me explain.

Life in the fast lane begins shortly after birth, when you begin to learn (about life).  And as you learn, you start to yearn (for things in life); and when you yearn (for things that aren’t readily available), you then start to dream (about getting those important things).  Life in the fast lane is a race to win all of the things you’ve ever dreamed about – things that will make you happy.  And as one dream comes true – there’s a brief thrill of victory (happiness), and then it’s onward, in the chase for the next dream.  

Some people remain in the fast lane for their entire life – overcoming numerous obstacles to achieve their dreams.  But at the end of the day, what they thought would make them happy, didn’t.  They accumulated stuff – lots and lots of stuff but it didn’t bring a true and lasting happiness.  And that, dear reader, is because we never ever, stop dreaming – regardless of the lane or lanes in life that we travel.  I still have dreams – and some of them I’ve had for most of my life.  Dreams are difficult to let go of – but we can’t always get what we want, right?  Or can we?

But Danny, what has this got to do with the title of your blog post?  Are you going through male menopause or….

Relax Corky!  And why are you drinking beer with a straw?  Please just sit there and try to remain sober for a bit longer….

Anyway, it was earlier this month that I first learned about a rare occurrence about to happen, here on Earth.  For those of you that believe in Science, particularly Astronomy (no Corky, not Astrology!), you’re familiar with the fact that the moon rotates around the Earth.  You would also know the several phases of the moon, including the “full moon”, which occurs every 29 days – or once a month (lunar cycle).  And I’d bet that even the greatest of scientists have often wondered about the term Blue Moon – and what it means?  Men have landed and walked on the surface of the Moon.  And immediately after taking the historic “One step for man, one giant leap for Mankind”, the astronaut picked up a piece of the Moon and determined that it did not smell or taste like blue cheese. 

If you are a fan of music (like me), you’re probably aware of the numerous songs written about the Blue Moon.  And the songs are not confined to one genre either – artists such as Elvis Presley, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Billie Holiday, Mel Torme and Cliff Richard, each recorded their own version.  My favourite Blue Moon song is the one by The Mavericks.  But all of those songs are about a person, who is sad and lonely or “blue” – like a sad and lonely Blue Moon.  But how can the Moon be sad, lonely and/or blue?

Oh, and then there’s the expression “Once in a Blue Moon”.  What’s that all about?  Well, because I no longer live in the fast lane and have ample time to ponder on such matters, I decided to solve the mystery once and for all (which, by the way, is another strange saying).  It was during my research on Once in a Blue Moon that things began to get both weird and scary.  Here’s what happened.

On August 1, 2012, at 3:00 AM in the morning, I was awakened by my dog Holly Golightly, who was desperately asking to go outside.  As I got to the patio door I was surprised at how bright it was outside – I didn’t even need to turn on the outside light.  I stumbled onto the patio and looked up to the sky – and there it was – a full Moon!  It was such a beautiful sight, I decided to sit in one of the lawn chairs and admire the scenery.  The moonlight creates a shadow that is much different than the Sun’s shadow – it’s much more mysterious and spooky.  Suddenly, the shadows from the fence, apple tree and the shed all took on a life of their own – and I felt as though I was being watched.  Chills ran up and down my body – the hair on my head turned a blue/white color.  I ran to the patio door and then raced inside to my bedroom and quickly hid under the covers – shaking with the fear.  But where was my little Holly?  I peaked out from the under the covers and noticed that she wasn’t anywhere in the room.  Did I leave her outside? 

I quickly slipped out of the bed and quietly crawled through the hallway to the sun room.  As I got to the patio door, a face suddenly appeared on the other side of the door!  It was Holly!  We both started to bark – a tactic that was sure to scare away any ghouls or goblins hiding in the shadows.  But as I opened the patio door, Holly suddenly spotted a cat and started running across the yard.  I started to chase her and then heard a familiar voice.

“Hi Danny!  Are you and Holly out looking for dew worms too?”   It was Bob, my next door neighbour, an avid fisherman.

“Uh, no, I uh, was just taking Holly out for a walk in the neighbourhood” I replied. 

It was at that exact moment that the light taped to the top of Bob’s safety helmet shone on my near-naked body.  I don’t know which of us appeared to be the weirdest: he looking like a coal miner or me, looking like an aged Chippendale stripper in boxer shorts!

“By the way, isn’t that the nicest looking Moon?” he asked.  Bob had only been living in the neighbourhood for a couple of years and had already seen me running around the yard in my boxer shorts about a dozen times.

I nodded in agreement and then knelt down to pick up Holly and suddenly noticed that my boxer shorts were on backwards.  I had been in such a rush to let Holly out……. And as I walked back towards the patio door, I could feel the light from Bob’s safety helmet shining on my back. 

When I got back to my bedroom, Holly was already curled up on the bed.  Within minutes she was snoring.  I couldn’t sleep – I was too rattled.  I turned on my computer and started to do a search for the term “Once in a Blue Moon”.  It didn’t take long to find the answer.  It refers to a rare occurrence when there are two full Moons in one month.  And as I did more research, I learned that August 2012 was one of those rare occurrences where there would be two full moons – the first on August 1st and the second one on August 31st.

“Wow!” I thought, “This is really something special. The next Blue Moon won’t occur again until July 2015.  I thought about all of the Blue Moon occurrences I had already missed in my life – I wasn’t going to miss another!”  So I decided that I would make preparations for a Once in a Blue Moon celebration for August 31st

I awoke early on August 31st and turned on the morning news.  There was no mention of the Blue Moon but that was okay.  I was probably the only person in Langley, Horse Capital of BC, that was even aware of this rare and exciting event; and now all I needed to get was the weather forecast.  I knew that the night sky would need to be clear of clouds to make the Blue Moon visible.  Too bad that I couldn’t share this exciting news with others but it would probably spread fear and panic in some, while others would just scoff at the idea – like they scoff at global warming.  Mark, the Global TV Weatherman, finally gave the forecast – clear skies for the next few days!   “Hurray!” I screamed to myself.

I cut and trimmed the lawn and then swept the patio.  I put candles on the patio table and brought out a bottle of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, which I had been saving for a special occasion.  As dusk approached, I was filled with an excitement – an excitement similar to that of a first date.  But there would just be Holly, the Blue Moon and me.

I sat in the Adirondack chair and watched as the sky became darker.  On the western horizon, shortly before sunset, you can see the planet Mercury just above the setting Sun.  And then the sky got darker – with a kazillion stars shining like diamonds in the sky.  The Moon wouldn’t be rising for a few hours, so I just sat back and waited.

I had my head phones on and was listening to an old Eagles tune, which brought back memories of the last time I had witnessed something amazing in the night sky.  It was August 2003, during a trip to Ontario that I got caught in the Great Power Blackout of Eastern North America.  I had traveled to Haliburton to visit the grave site of my beloved Grandma Puffer and was staying at a motel when I learned about the massive power outage.  The blackout last for a few days – affecting more than 10 million people in Ontario and 45 million people in 8 states in the Land of the Free.  But it was also during the blackout that another rare occurrence was happening in the night skies.  It was when the planet Saturn would be closest to Earth – a much rarer occurrence than a Blue Moon.  On that particular night I was laying on the end of the dock, with my legs and feet in the water – staring at the bright planet in the sky.  I remember closing my eyes and making a wish.

And last night, when I finally noticed the Blue Moon rising in the horizon, I wondered what I should do to mark the occasion?  Holly was lying beside my feet, probably wondering why we were outside.  Bob my neighbour was probably in his backyard looking for dew worms.  And me – I was staring at this beautiful object in the sky.

I closed my eyes and made a wish.  I wonder if it will come true?



Man’s Best Friend

Originally published June 5, 2012

Holly Golightly

Holly Golightly (Coton de Tulear)

Today I got up at 4:10 in the morning.  Holly Golightly (my dog) awoke from a deep and peaceful sleep and decided to wake me up – just in case I wanted to take her outside.  I swear she does this on purpose – I can almost hear her giggling while she runs down the hall ahead of me on her way to the sun room.  By the time I stumble to the patio door, she is all excited and jumping up and down – as if to say “C’mon, hurry or I swear I’ll start barking at the top of my lungs!”

Next, Holly patrols the backyard – looking for the right spot to pee.  You see, she is very fussy where she pees – the area has to be the greenest and most plush area of grass in the backyard.  As I start to lose my patience, I begin calling to her in a loud whisper – “Holly!  Go potty right now!”  But she just stops her sniffing and begins staring at me – as if to say “keep it up and I’ll just take longer – it’s your choice.”

The next thing in this nightly ritual is me walking out onto the patio – in my boxer shorts – and immediately noticing how hard it’s raining.  I start clapping my hands at Holly and she responds by running at me – full speed – narrowly missing me and heading for the other side of the backyard.   Oh great!  She thinks that I want to play “Hide ‘n Seek” with her.  As I start to chase after her, barefoot across the lawn, I suddenly hit a patch of  what feels like yogurt.  But why would there be yogurt in my backyard?  My mind began racing – hoping that if it wasn’t yogurt, it might be pudding.   Yes Sherlock, you incredible detective, it was indeed “Ka-Ka!“.

Have you ever tried to remove “Ka-Ka” from your bare feet – without the use of paper towels or other suitable cleaning aids? And all of the while, your dog is running around you at about 100 miles per hour!  I start “skating” my foot along the wet grass and just as it appears that I am getting most of it off – my other foot suddenly slides into another patch of “Ka-Ka“.  I started to scream – which is probably the point that my next-door neighbour turned on his outside light to investigate the commotion.

“Danny, is that you?” he shouted from his back deck.  “Is everything okay?”

“Heck yes, Bob – I’m just out here with Holly – looking for dew worms.  Thought that I might go fishing today” (I haven’t fished in over 40 years but how else do you explain being outside at 4:15 in the morning?)

“Mind if I tag along?” he asked.  “I got a brand new rod and reel for Xmas, and I’m dying to try it out!  Maybe we can bring our dogs along (he has a Cocker Spaniel named Spencer).

It was at the point, just after I dropped to the ground – almost in tears – that I noticed that I was sitting on what felt a lot like yogurt…..