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Today, I am 55 years old. Even my granddaughter Katelynn here is shocked. IMG_2309

I can honestly ask: How in the world did that happen? Only yesterday I was 22 and dating a hot young lady named Maria…

But happen it did. And so despite the mystery of calendar pages flipping by in blurring speed, I have arrived at this ripe old age in good health and good mind. Some may debate the latter but I am mature enough now to simply smile and nod, and stick my tongue out at them.

Yes, I have been blessed and continue to be blessed.

IMG_2389I have a wonderful wife, Maria; perhaps better known to you, dear reader, as the Bos Lady. Not only has she kept me sane over the years (a feat in itself), she has been my anchor, my best friend, my soul mate, and my laugh-track even when my quips and puns have carried little humour or ill. Oh, and she’s still hot. (I can just hear her now: “Why did you have to write that?!”)

God has also blessed me with three fantastic sons and daughter: Kristen, Brad, and Kevin. Our family treasures the gift of humour, and get-togethers are filled with laughter. Would an animated flick be made of the Bos family, the narrator would inevitably pronounce: “And there was much joy and laughter in the land!”

Two others have added to our joy: Jason, husband of Kristen; and Amanda, wife of Brad. Jay and Kristen begat Jamie and Matthew, and “Bramanda” begat Katelynn. (chuckle) Begat. (chuckle) Never typed that word before. Ever.

We are all in good health and good spirits. No one has cancer. Nobody was killed in a traffic accident. No relationship has soured. No one has walked away from the faith.

So I am extremely thankful for blessings upon blessings. It is a mystery why God has so evidently turned His face toward me and been gracious to me. Undeserving to say the least.

Today we will celebrate with family and friends. The Bos Lady has placed a Mexican theme on our celebrations tonight. There are all manners of Mexican décor right now at Chez Bos, and I have never seen so many limes this north of the equator. Tequila, my amigos and friends! The Bos Lady took a vacation day yesterday to prepare for tonight, spending much of the day prepping and cooking all manners of Mexican food and snacks. If POTUS had any sense of what is going on in the world, he would scrap his wall-building dream and build a new Interstate from Tijuana/San Diego straight to Chez Bos – we have enough food to feed them all.

55, eh? Ah yes, it’s a good time to be alive!

Empty Nesting

With our youngest son out of the house almost a year now, the Bos Lady and I are empty nesters. I am told by societal norms that we must wait until 12 full months have passed until we are officially Empty Nesters. This is to ensure that none of the prodigals actually move back in, thereby making the empty nest a houseful of moot.

So while we wait for our formal title, we have many opportunities in the gentle, soothing silence to reminisce about our three children, now grown into fairly stable adults. And reminiscing is good, y’know? Reminiscing is all about remembering the good things that happened back in the day, and I think the good Lord directs our brains to work that way. Because it’s good for our psyche, our soul.

This morning, I was driving from one meeting to another and began to reminisce about Kevin, our youngest, and one memorable trip to British Columbia. (Well, for a quick second or three behind the wheel I thought that I do an awful lot of this driving from meeting to meeting, and then I thought about when the kids were young and they said all I did at work was read emails, and now I think all I do at work and away from work is meet. But I digress, even though all these words represent just a quick second or three behind the wheel.)

The vacation was a trip to BC, as I mentioned. We planned to visit my brothers and their families in Chilliwack and see the sights, including the Great Mount Cheam, the peak locals boast of in reverent tones usually reserved for Everest or Kilimanjaro. But this trip was to be different, or at least the drive would be. We had decided to forego the speed of the Coquihalla Highway, opting instead for a leisurely drive on the TransCanada Highway through Rogers Pass with scenic stops along the way.

P1010872It sounded like an idyllic and relaxing journey. One to reminisce about in years to come. And yet, the Bos Lady and I were worried because we would have Kevin with us. Sixteen-year old Kevin in the back seat, with an attitude fueled by a headful of teenage angst.

But it turned out we had nothing to fear but, well, fear itself. Apologies to FDR. For you see, Kevin riding backseat turned out not to be a depressing drive of despair, but an endless source of humour and goodwill. It was like God threw open a breaker in his heart and transformed him instantly into a new person. A vibrant person of endless wit and expressions and comedy. Oh, throughout our two-day journey to BC, we laughed and laughed some more until tears leaked from our eyes and our bellies could take no more!

It was a trip of a lifetime.

Today, Kevin is a fine young man who remains one of the funniest people we know. His physical comedy and impeccable sense of comedic timing continue to leave us in stitches. I often think about these fine qualities when I reminisce behind the wheel. Or in the silent lonesome stillness of evenings at home.

So, yeah…maybe reminiscing does has a scuff of sadness, too.

 

Cruise to Mexico

In November 2016, the Bos Lady and I checked off an early completion on our bucket list: a cruise to Mexico on Holland America Cruises. Here are some pictorial highlights of our experience under the sun of Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlán, and Puerto Vallarta.

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WestJet from River City to San Diego
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Somewhere in the vastness of the Pacific
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Loge seating in the ship’s theatre

 

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Four-way stop in La Paz
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Bos Lady and me clowning around
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Saw a few old Bugs on the roads in Mazatlan
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Mazatlan architecture
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Divers plying their trade for tourist dollars
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Public park in Mazatlan
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Sailing past this gem at Cabo San Lucas
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Taxi in Mazatlan
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An old theatre in Mazatlan
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Mazatlan’s cobblestone streets
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Coming into Puerto Vallarta
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Enjoyed a Mexican fiesta in PV
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Dancing horse at fiesta
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Bos Lady, Bosman, and Tequila. Yeah, we bad!

 

Oceans Deep

blue-ocean-28668-1920x1200Today is a “Sea Day”, meaning no port o’ call stops today. We are on Day 6 of our seven-day cruise to Mexico on Holland America’s ms Westerdam. The trip has been amazing, incredible, experiential – pick an adjective. More compelling though, the journey has been inspirational.

Each day, I’ve often gazed at the ocean’s awesome expanse from our room’s veranda or on one of the ship’s decks. During these quiet moments, the rhetorical questions of God to Job recorded in Job 38 have enriched me with pause for thought; specifically verses eight through eleven:

Or who shut in the sea with doors,
When it burst forth and issued from the womb;
When I made the clouds its garment,
And thick darkness its swaddling band;
When I fixed My limit for it,
And set bars and doors;
When I said,
“This far you may come, but no farther,
And here your proud waves must stop!”

The sight of endless water, as far as one can see and beyond, is breathtaking. Nautical mile after nautical mile, and hundreds of them, knowing nothing but water. And consider that at the time of this writing we are a couple of hours north of Mazatlan and the depths of the sea is 3440 feet. Under these waters, two One World Trade Center skyscrapers can stand one on top of the other. River City residents can imagine seven EPCOR Towers positioned one on top of the other in these depths. How amazing is that!

It’s even more so to us. The Bos Lady and I have been prairie dwellers all our lives. We gasped our first breaths near places brightened by endless seas of golden canola. In God’s good plan, we were blessed with our own children, who played under the warm sun of big-sky flatlands. We took family vacations across miles and miles of arrow-straight highways to see the majestic towering peaks of the Rocky Mountains. But oceans and seas have never been part of our lives. They have been mysteries to us. But this week, they have become more than a mysterious unknown. They’ve become inspirational, and intensely so.

It is the Almighty One who created the depths and expanses of these waters, and guides the movements of the great beasts of the deep and cares for all of the creatures in the watery depths. And yet, He also cares for the Bos Lady and me. Imagine that. As insignificant and microscopic as we are against the backdrop of these dark, deep and infinite mysteries of the great deep oceans, our awesome God loves and cares for us. What a covenant, what grace!

Can you believe that?

That is a rhetorical question as well. But one that has two obvious answers, depending on where you stand and what you believe.

For us, we take our position under the divine power of God and the perfect love of God, as described in the words of Job 41 and the lyrics of Charles Wesley’s beautiful hymn, “And Can It Be, That I Should Gain”…

Can you draw out Leviathan with a hook,
Or snare his tongue with a line which you lower?
Can you put a reed through his nose,
Or pierce his jaw with a hook?
Will he make many supplications to you?
Will he speak softly to you?
Will he make a covenant with you?
Will you take him as a servant forever?
Will you play with him as with a bird,
Or will you leash him for your maidens?
Will you companions make a banquet of him?
Will they apportion him among the merchants?
Can you fill his skin with harpoons,
Or his head with fishing spears?

‘Tis mystery all! Th’Immortal dies!
Who can explore His strange design?
In vain the firstborn seraph tries
To sound the depths of love divine!
‘Tis mercy all! let earth adore,
Let angel minds inquire no more.

[Refrain] Amazing love! how can it be
That Thou, my God, should die for me!

This ocean journey for the Bos Lady and me will soon come to an end. But the inspirations will carry us on. Forever.

The Sounds and Colours of Home

The memories cascade quickly, bringing snapshots crisply into focus; flooding the conscience mind with amazing details of people and places and activities of so long ago. How old was I then in the remembered days of Spruce Grove? Ten? And what was I in the days of Inglewood? I think in Grade One, maybe younger.

I had opportunity the other week to drive slowly past a couple of places where we used to live when I was a kid. I was in the neighbourhood, as the saying goes. One was the west-central neighbourhood of Inglewood here in River City (aka YEG, aka McDavidville), and the other was B-Land in Spruce Grove, where all streets and avenue names begin with a B.

The Colours of the Bungalow in B-Land

Our home in B-Land was the House That Dad Built at 21 Beverly Avenue in 1972. Back then, Spruce Grove was a small town of 3320 residents, and the Bos family was among the early wave of migrants from Edmonton: young families looking for better housing prices outside the big city. Only two years before we set down new roots, the Grove was a sleepy little town of 1110 people. The 2016 city census shows that growth marched on over time, and now 33,640 people now calling Spruce Grove home.

Chez Bos was a nice bungalow, boasting bright white wood siding and contrasting black trim. With a long front driveway and a large bay window, it stood proud alongside its peers of shiny new homes in the new subdivision. Inside, our home flaunted the loud colours of that era. Deep Hunter Green broadloom was underfoot from the front door through a wide open area and down the hallway to the two bedrooms on the backside of the house. At the front of the house was the master bedroom — a term the 10 year old Ron didn’t know. Thepainter-palette room was known simply as Mom’s and Dad’s room, the one We Are Never To Go In! But sometimes I did go in, walking gingerly over the bright, bright red carpet as if walking normally would leave behind evidence of my sneaking. Sometimes I went in looking for treats Mom had hidden there somewhere. Sometimes I went in just to snoop, looking for reasons why We Are Never To Go In! And all the time, in the weeks leading up to Christmas, I went in looking for the presents that were always hidden in the closet.

Those forays into forbidden territory were thrilling to me, and the ginger steps were only part of it. Adrenaline rushed through my system and my heart hammered, amplified in my ears, because there was always a chance Mom and Dad would come home early and there I’d be: caught red-handed, standing frozen with blood on my hands on all that red carpet. And so I’d poke and prod, peek and putter, looking high and low and in and out. But slowly. So slowly. Because everything had to be left…just…so. Just exactly how it was before the adventure began.

Over in the living room, long plush shag carpeting welcomed your feet, which sank in this soft sea of burnt orange. If you vacuumed it with care and purpose, the power brush left an orderly mosaic of intersecting parallel sections of brightness and shadow. After admiring this handiwork for a moment, out came the carpet rake from the broom closet. Then, working backwards out of the room, the shag would be raked until the task was finished and all the eye could see was a perfect, unspoiled sea of orange tranquility.

The Sounds of the Home in Inglewood

It would always tick when it was getting ready. Tick tick tick tick. Mysterious sounds to my little brother and me from the dull grey monster that lived in our basement. The big, bad gravity furnace, which took ownership of its habitat every evening when shadows fell from sound-waveits web of duct work. Up close in the dark, it was a brooding beast that whispered warnings to little boys: stay away! Tick tick tick tick! But upstairs in our bedroom, far from its darkly veiled threats and shadowy appendages, the gravity furnace was a distant friend on cold winter nights. We would take turns sitting over the floor grate in our room, with a blanket over our heads to trap in the rising heat. And when the heating cycle would end, we could hear faintly the ticking beast. But in our room on the second storey far from the clutches of the beast, it seemed no longer angry and the ticking  turned into a gentle whisper: sleep tight boys. Tick tick tick tick.

There was not a lot of talking, let alone whispering, at the dinner table in our home in Inglewood. It was a rule: no talking at the dinner table. Not just a rule but a Dad Rule. You could ignore or disobey a rule now and then, but ignoring a Dad Rule was generally not good planning because there would be real consequences. (In case you’re wondering, We Are Never To Go In! was a Mom rule.) And so for the most part, the sounds at dinnertime were mostly the clinking of cutlery, the general ambiance of eating, and sometimes the dry heaves from my sister Estelle as she gagged on her detested green beans. But every once in a while, the school day had something particularly interesting to share, and excited snatches of conversation would sprinkle the air. For a minute or two, maybe, and then the command would interrupt: “OK now. Eat.” Translation: shut up and focus on your plate. End of conversation. I look back now and wonder why. But back then, that was just life and that was just how it was. We didn’t know any better.

Yes indeed. That’s where so many memories are, too. Tucked away neatly in the treasure chests of our minds until we open them anew.

King Trumps Bear

I’m being watched.

24/7 surveillance that leaves me looking over  my shoulder from time to time. It’s unsettling. There’s no one in my room here at the Best Western PluIMG_1906s in Holland, Michigan. But he’s out there. Right outside my window. Hanging on to the railing, just waiting…watching.

Big Br’er Bear.

Y’all might look closely at these photos here of Big Br’er Bear and think: “Why, that’s just a carved wooden bear — he’s all part of the hotel’s design, its motif.” But you’d be wrong. Oh so very wrong.

Did yoIMG_1907u forget where I am? You did for a second there, didn’t you. Hah! That’s right, I’m in the United States of America. The good old US of A. Where conspiracies are born.

Where conspiracies spawn and multiply ’til every part of life and (dare I say it?) death are entangled by legions of conspiratorial tentacles. And now I too am under watch. Not by some innocent wooden bear, as you might reason. Far from it! Oh no: I know what’s going on around here. I know.

It came to me last night while watching Glenn Beck. Wait…it might have been that Rush Limbaugh guy. Either way, one of these intellectuals inspired me to learn — yes, to seize — the truth. The real story. The facts and fundamentals behind this charade of a wooden bear. Motif indeed. Pshaw.

Operation Carnivore has begun!IMG_1909

Look deeply into Big Br’er Bear’s eyes as I have done. Look intently and you will see that
they are not eyes at all but tiny cameras. Well okay, you can’t see the camera in the one eye covered by bird poo, but look at the other one. US Homeland-issued, government-certified, Radio Shack-supplied surveillance camera. Through this camera, the highest levels of the American government are watching me.

And while they watch, ranks and ranks of US Army Ants march across my room at nights while I sleep to add their intel to Operation Carnivore. No, I’ve not seen these US Army Ant battalions in my room but I have felt them in my nightmares. And when I’ve bolted awake swimming in cold sweat, I’ve heard the chorus of their clickety-clickety-click lightning retreat.

So you’re asking: What is Operation Carnivore? What’s it all about? Yes, questions that cannot be ignored if we are to stop Operation Carnivore in its bear tracks. But we must be cautious. Ever so cautious. Because they can’t know that I know and you’ll soon know. They must only know that they think they know that I don’t know and you don’t know because they don’t even know you. That’s what I know. So Careful must be our calling card.

Operation Carnivore seeks to send Donald Trump to Canada. In my place. Oh please don’t think they can’t pull it off. These people — these AMERICANS — are the same tribe that hoodwinked the world into believing they sent men to the moon! The same tribe that sold the world into thinking they could have any colour car they wanted as long as it’s black. The same tribe that insists it was Kim Kardashian shooting JFK from the Grassy Knoll and then Elvis Presley memorializing the tragedy in Long Black Limousine. Come on dear reader, pluck the blinders off your eyes and SEE AND BELIEVE!!!

Believe me. Believe me because my life depends on it. Believe me when I tell you that I am expendable. This is how Operation Carnivore rolls out:

antFriday night, the US Army Ants parachute into my room in a daring broad-daylight raid. They back me up into a corner and then American Black Ninja Barbies fall in behind and mercilessly spray me with bear spray. Yes, I suppose that’s apt, isn’t it?

They spirit me away in a black limousine (see, everything fits!) to a secret location somewhere in Michigan. Donald Trump is quickly rushed and hushed into my hotel room from where he’ll check out as me. A new doctored password is provided for the Donald; one with his name and his hair, but my Canadian citizenship!

Cut to Customs. The grim-faced Customs Agent asks Trump the usual questions: Where’ve you been? Why’d you go? Anything to declare? Trump aces them all, and would you be surprised if he did not? I guess not!

Once Donald Trump has gained access to Canada, Operation Carnivore ramps up to full-blown megaspeed. I haven’t figured out all the details yet; it’s been difficult to complete clandestine meetings with my covert cohorts, but here’s the bread and butter…

Trump ousts Trudeau as Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, and the Globe and Mail’s headline screams: “Justy, you’re fired!” Trump calls a snap election and wins the largest majority ever in Canadian history. Full stop. I can feel that you’re not believing yet. Oh you foolish, foolish reader. That’s what Trump wants you to do! Wake up and smell the Koolaid. It’s not about the US presidency. “It’s not about the economy, stupid.” And it’s certainly not about Mexicans looking at the big new Turn Aroundsea king, Sucka! wall.

Operation Carnivore is about Canamerica! Once Trump seizes power in Canada, he’ll suspend our Constitution and wage war on the USA sending 11 Chinook and Sea King helicopters, three de Havilland Twin Otters, two CC-115 Buffaloes, and a CF-188A, along with couple of frigates just to show some real muscle. The Americans, enthralled by Hillary Clinton’s email lies and Kim Kardashian’s programmed sighs (drat, her again!), will never know what hit them. It will be Tora! Tora! Tora! on a grander scale across the entire land of the free and home of the brave.

trumpland

And so the Kingdom of Canamerica is established. One land, one continent, one kingdom. And one king to rule them all. King Trump. Believe it, dear reader. Believe it. Operation Carnivore is all about King Trump. And as The Netherlands is often called Holland, so shall it be with Canamerica: Trumpland.

 

Shh! Listen…can you hear them? They’re coming. US Army Ants. No! NO! YOU CAN’T COME TODAY — YOU’RE EARLYYYYYYYyyyy…

 

 

Mom

I got to thinking about Mom today. Seems natural, this being Mother’s Day and all. Hard to believe Mom’s been gone 15 years already.

As I said, I got to thinking about what a special lady she was in her quiet, humble way. Got to thinking about my visits with her when she lived at Summit Village in west Edmonton. Funny, she always had a list of handyman chores for me to do when I got there. It’s funny because anyone who knows me knows tools and me don’t dance well together. But I’d get the odd jobs done best I could, and then we’d talk for awhile. Just Mom and me sitting at her dining room table. Those were good times. I came to know my Mom so much better during those short years. Good times.

And while I was reminiscing today, I got to thinking about Mom during my late-teen years. When I had a truck, money in my pockets, and a close-knit group of carefree, bullet-proof friends. I wrote about these dangerous years and how Mom was during them in a 30-second radio spot (closer to a promo, really) while copywriting at 900 CKBI Radio in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. The spot was closer to a promo than a commercial and I was surprised the retailer, Eagle’s something or other, let us produce and air it. I don’t have the spot anymore, but it’s seared into my psyche for all time.

The spot was voiced perfectly in the deep baritone voice of CKBI’s Program Director, John Wessel. I mean, he nailed it! I can play it in my head and it still gives me goosebumps. No music background, no sound effects. Just John, delivering the lines softly and deeply…

It was three o’clock in the morning and you were just coming home. You knew Mom would be up…waiting… checking every now and then for your shoes in the porch.

Slowly, carefully, you made your way in and – barely daring to breathe – you tiptoed to your room thinking this time –maybe this time – Mom had finally fallen asleep.

And then it happened. The soft, distinct click as her bedroom door closed.

For your love, Mom, Happy Mother’s Day….from Eagle’s.

Miss you, Mom.

Your son, Ron.