Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Natasha's Quilt

This article is long overdue for Between Keyboard and Chair. On July 1, 2009 Grateful We're Not Dead entertained at North Gower, Ontario for a fund raising BBQ in support of eye surgery for Natasha, a young lady who has been coming to Canada as part of the Ottawa Valley Aid for Chernobyl Children since she was 7 years old. Natasha has been slowly going blind and this year she came to Canada to have surgery on her eyes. You can read more about Natasha on the OVACC website.

After the band packed up on July 1st, Helen and I had the pleasure of meeting and talking with Natasha for a few minutes and discovered what a lovely young person she is. On the way home, Helen decided she would like to give one of her hand-made quilts to Natasha to take back to Belarus. So on August 7, following Natasha's eye surgery in Toronto, we delivered a lap-quilt to her at the farm of Burt and Nancy Grundy just outside of North Gower. Needless to say, Natasha was surprised and pleased to receive the quilt and informed us that blue was her favourite colour. We had an enjoyable visit with Natasha, Nancy and Burt and I grabbed a few quick shots of Natasha and her quilt before we returned to Ottawa.

Natasha and her Quilt
Natasha's Quilt

Label From Natasha's Quilt
Label on back of the quilt

Helen and Natasha
Helen and Natasha with the quilt

Prior to Natasha returning to Belarus, we received a very nice thank you card from her.

Thank You Card

Now this was the year that the Canadian Government (i.e. little Stevie Harper and the boys) refused to agree to new travel demands made by the Belarus government and it looked as if none of the children from Belarus would make it to Canada. However, a little Canadian ingenuity and determination goes a long way in bypassing the roadblocks thrown up by politicians and bureaucrats.

At least, that's how I see it from Between Keyboard and Chair.

Have a good one.


Sunday, August 9, 2009

Get Yourself A Flu Buddy

Between Keyboard and Chair sees that the public health system in Canada is recommending that you find yourself a flu buddy for the predicted onslaught of the H1N1 virus this Fall. They expect at least 50% of the population to contract Human Swine Flu. However, most people will not be sick enough to require hospitalization. In order to prevent overloading of hospital emergency rooms by people with non-life threatening symptoms during the expected pandemic they are suggesting that you team up with a flu buddy to look after you in the event you are "not well enough to go to the drugstore to buy some Tylenol".

Now is the time to make arrangements with family, friends and/or neighbours as to who will look after whom if that annoying little virus comes a-calling. Be prepared to help if you are the healthy one. Make arrangements to check with the elderly and those living by themselves on a regular basis if the flu strikes your neighbourhood. If you're heading out to shop, see if anyone needs you to pick up something.

Actually, there is nothing new in this approach. It's the way things used to be done before we became islands unto ourselves. When I was a youngster in the country, neighbours always helped neighbours. The hospital and the health system was the last line of defence and support. I think it's time to start using this approach again.

At least that's the way I see it from Between Keyboard and Chair.

With apologies to the artist

Friday, July 31, 2009

Milton Weise 1932-2009

Yesterday morning I received the sad news that Milton Weise, a close friend in Kingston, Jamaica had died Monday when his car was in a collision. I did a quick search on the 'net and the only reference to the accident was on

"Wednesday, 29 July 2009
The local business community is mourning the death of former Director of Cable and Wireless Jamaica Milton Weise. Mr. Weise, who was also the Chairman of National Environment Planning Agency and a consulting engineer, died on Monday night when the vehicle he was driving crashed in Cherry Gardens, St. Andrew."

This was Milton, as described in the Personalities Directory:

"WEISE, Milton Ludlow, C. Eng., M.S.E., M.J.I.E., F.I.STruct. E., F.R.S.A., Dip. M.S.; Consulting Engineer. Principal and Chief Engineer Milton Weise & Associates, Consulting Engineers since 1963. Born: Kingston, Jamaica, April 17, 1932, son of the late Cladius M. Weise, Tailor, and Violet Shaw-Weise. Educated: Calabar Elementary School, Kingston Technical High School, South London Polytechnic. Career: Structural Designer Messrs. F. J. Samuely and Partners (London, England). Senior Engineer Messrs. Leonard & Grant (London, England), Deputy Chief Engineer Firth Cleveland Ltd. (Jamaica). Denomination: Baptist. Married: December 17, 1954 (divorced) ; 2 sons, 2 daughters. Interests: Tennis, Gardening. Club: Liguanea."

Milton Weise 1932-2009
Milton Weise, April 20, 1997
Kingston Harbour, Jamaica

I met Milton on July 2, 1988 when I went to Kingston, Jamaica for a three week stint teaching computer courses (DOS, WordPerfect, dBASE, Lotus 123) to engineers belonging to the Jamaica Institution of Engineers. Milton and I hit it off right from the get-go. After returning to Ottawa I kept in touch with a number of the engineers I had met that summer. When I returned to Jamaica with my wife, Helen, in October 1989 to celebrate our 25th Wedding Anniversary at the Liguanea Club in Kingston, Milton sponsored our stay there. And when we decided to take out a membership in the Club, Milton sponsored our membership request. From then until 2001 we normally connected with Milton at least twice a year when we would be in Kingston on holidays. Usually, on those 2 to 3 week excursions, we'd see Milton two, three or more times per week. Over the years we enjoyed spending many hours with Milton and Rosanne Lee, his long-time partner.

Unfortunately, family commitments have kept us from Jamaica for the last 8 years but we have continued to keep in contact with friends via email and telephone. We would usually visit with Milton by telephone once or twice a year. I last spoke with Milton a couple months ago. I had called using Skype-to-landline to see how he was doing following the death of Rosanne who had succumbed after a long battle with cancer. We must have chatted for about half an hour. Last week, I thought I should give him another call, but as usual I was just heading out somewhere when I thought of it and decided to wait until later. Now I'll never get to make that call.

I wonder how many time that sort of thing happens. You think of someone you should contact, but because you hesitate or postpone it you then never get the chance to have that talk. I think from now on, when I feel the urge to touch base with a friend I'll do it immediately just in case the chance slips away from me forever.

At least, that's the way I see it from Between Keyboard and Chair.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A Link To The Past

Years and years ago, it seems like half a century, I played in a country dance band called the Mississippi River Boys. We played the dance hall circuit throughout Lanark County as well as the surrounding counties. During the 1970s I penned a number of songs that we used by the band on a regular basis. We still include a couple of these in the Grateful We're Not Dead repertoire as well.

Yesterday I was cleaning out some boxes and came across a couple unlabelled cassette tapes. Out of curiosity I decide to see what was on them and too my surprise I came across one of the songs which I had recorded at home using multi-tracking and over-dubbing on a Dokorder 4-track open reel tape recorder. I guess I had mixed the tracks down to the cassette as a test mix. So I present here with all its glitches and warts, a link to my past. Any messups you hear are wholly attributable to me seeing as I played all parts - guitar, bass, harmonica, vocal, and backup vocal. Just click on the play button to hear it.

I hope that wasn't too painful.


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Children's Peace Plan - Evelyn Voigt

Today from Between Keyboard and Chair, I'm going to introduce you to one of my friends, Evelyn Voigt.

Evelyn happens to be my favourite Ottawa poet and a very dear friend. Evelyn was born a German prisoner of war in Norton, located close to Harare in what is now Zimbabwe. As a child she ran free on a farm in Tanzania, and later travelled widely. She chose Canada as her multi-cultural base; however, her work often takes her "home" to Africa. Evelyn has recorded a couple CDs of her poetry which are available via her web site.

Now some of you may think I'm a bit biased, and I agree I am, because Grateful We're Not Dead work with Evelyn quite frequently at peace related events. My all-time favourite poem of Evelyn's is The Children's Peace Plan and I always enjoy hearing her perform it. She did it recently at the Southminster United Church during the protest against the 2009 CANSEC Arms Show and it was caught on video. So for your listening pleasure and without further ado, here is Evelyn:

The Children's Peace Plan
(©Evelyn Voigt 2001)

Squeezing through a moon beam
she sat upon a star,
and looked down at the earth below
so very, very far.
She looked at all those children
Caught in the wars of man.
She heard their frightened voices
and came up with a plan.

In moments she was down there,
Whispering to each their name:

In China and in Germany,
in Azerbaijan and Spain;
In Russia and in Canada,
in Kenya and Peru;
Guyana and America,
Tibet and Timbuktu;
In Gaza and Jerusalem;
In Cairo and in Rome;
In Serbia and Croatia,
Burundi and at home.

The children's eyes grew wider,
as she told them of her plan.
Then solemnly they joined her.
Some walked. Some limped. Some ran.

She welcomed them with radiance.
She armed them with her smile.
She looked towards the cannons,
stacked mile, on mile, on mile.
She found herself a blossom,
a single blossom white,
Before she chose her cannon,
and sat on it, upright.

Above the cannon's mouth she sat,
Her smile as soft as dew;
And when the soldiers came to fire,
She said, "I welcome you".

And the children all took measure.
And the children chose their gun.
And the children smiled their magic smiles.
And the soldiers came undone.

They talked about their troubles.
They talked about their dreams.
The more they heard,
the more it seems:
Their problems weren’t that different.
Their hopes were much the same.
And, somehow, guns and warfare
seemed silly, tragic, lame.

Instead they chose to listen,
to plan, to heal, to please.
And the guns stood ever silent.
And the world was bathed in peace.

Squeezing through the moon beam,
she sat upon a star
and looked down at the earth below,
so very, very far.
She looked at all those children,
who sang and laughed and ran.
She thought about past battles,
and blessed her joyful plan.

So from Between Keyboard and Chair, I wish you peace.


Monday, March 9, 2009

Win a Subscription to Linux Journal

Are you a Linux user? Are you considering migrating your computer(s) over to Linux? Are you going to set up a dual-boot system with Linux and that other OS? If so, you might want to consider a subscription to Linux Journal, one of the top resources for the Linux user. And if you feel lucky you can participate in the contest Linux Journal announced last Friday:

Houston, TX - March 5, 2009 - Linux Journal, the original magazine of the Linux community, announces a contest for viewers of Tech Tip videos. During the week of March 9 - March 13, 2009 the daily Tech Tip videos will feature hosts Shawn Powers and Mitch Frazier announcing a few secret letters of the day. Viewers will need to collect the letters from each video that week (videos will be released daily) and come Friday March 13, unscramble the letters to reveal the secret word(s).

Contest rules: Participants must e-mail the correct secret word to by 11:59:59PM U.S. Eastern Standard Time on Friday of March the 13th, 2009. In addition to the secret word participants must provide us with their full name, postal mailing address and e-mail address (none of which will be shared with anyone outside of Linux Journal at any time).

Prizes: Every participant who responds with the correct information by or before the 11:59:59PM U.S. Eastern Standard Time March, Friday 13th, 2009 deadline (03:59:59 GMT March 14, 2009) will receive a free 1 year digital subscription to Linux Journal -- one entry allowed per e-mail address. For those who already subscribe to Linux Journal, a free digital subscription will be appended to their current subscription.

You can check out the contest rules or if you feel lucky, just hop on over to this first article at Linux Journal and give it a whirl. Who knows, you may just be one of the winners of a free subscription to Linux Journal.

That's how I see it from Between Keyboard and Chair.