Brandon Vermont and my Cousin/Aunt Edna Jones

The coolest thing happened yesterday. I do sales calls as one of my jobs and get calls from all over the country. Yesterday I got a call from a woman and I needed to ask her where she was from. She told me Brandon, Vermont. I said that I had a cousin that had lived there - that she had died last year in August. It is a small town, so she asked me her name. I said Edna Jones. "Oh! I loved Edna!!" was her immediate reply. She went on to tell me several stories about how playful Edna was. Edna was about 87 when she died. My new friend told me that she taught exercise classes and did so for the elderly, one of which was Edna. Well, they had a young man there fresh out of college. Both of the women told this young man, very seriously, that Edna's dog - a miniature pit bull - needed exercise. Well, next class, sure enough, Edna brings in the dog and the young trainer has him on the treadmill - what a hoot!

Well, if you want to see one of the prettiest towns in America, visit this beautiful place. For some reason I didn't take any photos while I was there. I always thought I'd get back to see Edna. I was there about 3 summers ago and we were having lunch in an outdoor restaurant on the main street. Some of Edna's elderly lady friends came by and Edna introduced me to them mentioning that I was a photographer. Well, we almost had a whole calendar planned by the end of lunch! (Remember 'Calendar Girls'?)

Make sure that you visit some of the Galleries when you are in Brandon and ask about Edna Jones.

Have a good one.
- Martin

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Christmas Tree

Christmas Tree

So, we don't have snow or cold here(Florida) - so how does one make it feel "Christmasy"? It's not easy - it kinda sneaks up on you - but - BUT - many people in the area get creative with lights. You can see here that our neighbour has redefined the appearance of a Christmas tree.

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What do I think of Christmas?

The other day I overheard someone "bah-humbug" Christmas. It startled me really and got me to thinking - what does Christmas mean to me? I grew up a Christian - went to Church and all, plus I had more than a little exposure to Eastern philosophy and religion as my father was a follower of the Hindu religion. And now I'm a Scientologist.

Take away all the commercialism of Christmas - it is looked upon by many as a Christian holiday but - a celebration at this time of year is not new to Christianity. My understanding of Hinduism is that there are many ways to God - so generally they will honor or acknowledge religious celebrations of other faiths as well as their own.

My view of Christmas - it's a celebration of the spirit of Man - a celebration of all that's good in us. It's a time I can read Dylan Thomas's A Child's Christmas In Wales to my friends; people greet each other more effusively; I can phone someone that I otherwise wouldn't, just because it's Christmas; if I smile at someone on the street anywhere in the world and tell them "Merry Christmas" it's ok and they'll smile back and wish me well.

That's all very cool stuff.

So, have a great Christmas and give someone a smile and a hug.


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Adventure on the Catamaran

I’ll take adventure however I can get it. Sunday, Grant and I decided to move my catamaran to his place. The reason for this was that we could leave it in the water for some of the time and wouldn’t have to go through battling the mast every time we wanted to go sailing. We decided to do this a bit late in the day and with the time change it didn’t leave us much daylight. We got the boat out and started sailing a bit before 5, giving us about an hour or so of daylight. Note here that I’ve been sailing about 4 times in my life – I had Grant’s daughter Amber with me but she knew virtually nothing about sailing so essentially, first time alone.) Grant took the car back to his house to meet us. Well about 5-10 minutes out and I realized that I hadn’t put the plugs back in the boat before we launched. For those of you who don’t know – these plugs allow the water to drain when the boat is out of the water but obviously needs to be replace before venturing back into the deeps. So, to continue – I jumped down on the first pontoon and told Amber to just hold the tiller where it was – steady. Well, of course, the wind didn’t cooperate and just as I was reaching down it shifted the boat and I was thrown off! Now it is very hard to swim and laugh at the same time. I was swimming like a banshee and shouting at Amber to turn into the wind – it took her a minute to figure this one out. And all the while I was trying not to laugh at myself and my predicament – swimming after a sailboat. She managed to slow it down and I caught up. I screwed the plugs back in and we continued. We were having to tack back and forth a great deal because of the direction of the wind and we got to watch a very nice sunset and were getting a bit nervous about sailing the last half in the dark. We were sailing on the intercoastal so it’s pretty safe and lots of lights but none on the boat. Anyway, fate solved this one for us as well. We were sailing in toward the mainland right near the Dunedin Marina – I was just about to come about and the fastening for the tiller came off. (I promise you that I checked that and all other fastenings before we left.) It was an “Oh God” moment. But - we were aimed at the only 20 foot piece of beach on that side for 3-4 miles either way. I was able to keep us pointed to that little patch of safety. The whole thing was a total blast! But I don’t think Amber wants to go sailing with me anymore. This did give us an excuse to go sailing Monday morning though and it really was a gorgeous day. You can see here a picture of my boat parked on the water at Grant’s place.

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Mom’s Reception

I've been meaning to write a few words about my mum for a while. It hasn't been easy to confront. She died in February and it took a while...
We had a reception at my brother's place a few days after mum died in February and the four of us with much difficulty said a few words. I knew it would be very difficult for me to speak so I borrowed some words from a couple of different passages. The first was from the Bhagavad-gita. My father was a Hindu and mum kept a copy of this book. It is very lengthy and it is a beautiful work - I just stole a few lines:

“The soul can never be cut to pieces by any weapon, nor burned by fire, nor moistened by water, nor withered by the wind.
It is said that the soul is invisible, inconceivable and immutable. Knowing this, you should not grieve for the body.”

Mum was always learning - taking courses - traveling – she lived life. I couldn’t read the whole poem but read a few lines from

Dylan Thomas’s “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night”

"Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light."

You can read the rest of it at Dylan Thomas

My sister said something about my mother that was quite profound, beautiful and a wonderful thing about her that we could all aspire to. Mum had amazing communication lines. I remember Niels telling me that mum would get several letters a day in the mail sometimes when she lived in Denmark. My memories of her when I was very little were of her in the evenings sitting on the couch writing letters to friends and family. When she got email she was thrilled.

Gwen pointed out that mum never waited for someone else to contact her or start the conversation. She would call or write you first (needless to say she was happy when you wrote or emailed or called back). So, Gwen’s invitation at the ceremony was that people not wait for someone to call or write them but to start the communication themselves. It’s tough in our busy lives but try it. Find someone that you’d like to be in communication with and write or email or call – don’t wait for them.
Keep well – write me any time.
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