Monday, December 31, 2007

World Dragon Boat Championship Winners In Australia Autumn 2007

Heroes and Heroines From Chateauguay -

Peter Markhauser, Joanne O'Hanley, Anita Duwel and Keith Mercer

This is an example of how determination, grit, hard work, discipline and commitment pay off.

Many of us from past graduation years at Chateauguay High / H.S. Billings, will recall with pride the family names in the above picture.

At an earlier age, as featured in one of my earlier blog entries, pictures of H.S. Billings gymnasts from the past are featured and there too is Joanne.

Joanne is currently a guidance counsellor for the Kahnawake Survival School while Anita Duwel is an adult coordinator for the New Frontiers School Board (the name of the board of which Billings is a part.)

Keith Mercer and Peter Markhauser are known for their past participation at the Chateauguay Canoe Club.

These competitors are a solid reflection of their good families, values and stand as examples of success - for parents, teachers and children .

If any of you read this - Joanne, Peter, Anita and Keith - the H.S. Billings Alumni - your peers- congratulate you. We suspect that over the duration of your journey and training, you loved the challenge, competition and the fun. But you are to be recognized since you have, -in fact- hurled yourselves by your own efforts -into a well deserved circle of greatness.

It takes belief in a dream, great effort, expense, time, sweat, pain and patient support from one's family to stick to a plan of action- such as this. Completion is one thing- impressive -but then to excel and shine; these are the traits of true winners.

You have made your families, friends, neighbors and Canadians proud. You have brought further recognition to the sport of Dragon Boat Racing.


You have gone beyond day-to-day norms, reached out to your dreams and succeeded. You have every right to be respected and recognized
-as champions.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

As We Turn The Page

A new year is upon us and we 'grads' and past students of HSB, (previously known as Chateauguay High ) deal with the snow, holidays, perhaps some travel or simply enjoy some down-time at home with family and/or friends.

(I am given to understand that Richard Kilpatrick would be coming by from California.)

For me, down-time means the investment market is quiet and therefore demand for my time is minimal allowing a stretch of my attention span to areas of personal curiosity or even to clean the house and help Jane out.

Last week, Bob (Houston) and I went out to Ste. Anne de Bellvue to the Nordic Norway shop and purchased (with Bob's expertise), a whole new set of cross country ski equipment. I'm ready to zoom.

Last night Jane and I went to the Tom Hanks/Julia Roberts movie -Charlie Wilson's War. This has to be one of the most well timed movies given the state of the world. It provides the link as to how the USA provided Al Queida's birth and continued growth. Overall, the movie is well written and very entertaining. But at it's heart, the audience learns a a very real truth which is captured neatly in the story of the Zen Master.

Having seen this movie, and read recently about the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, I realized (-given the down-time I have to do this realizing-) that I had forgotten much of what I learned in University about Afganistan and Pakistan when studying Political Science and the nature of man's struggle to attain and maintain 'power' (political or otherwise).

My perception of Bhutto and Pakistan for example, as of yesterday was limited to figuring that Ms.Bhutto was this kind-of white knight swooping into Pakistan to bring the key of democracy to the locked door of this totalitarian and Islamic regime.

So after watching last night's movie, I realized that my pat little 'perception' was possibly a little too -convenient. So I did some 'Google-ing'. I mean- didn't Canada at some point in the past have something to do with providing the Candu reactor to India and Pakistan which led directly to their creation of "friendly" nuclear devices? Underlying this curiosity about Pakistan and the assasination was a question... Does Canada have anything to do with the politics in this part of the world other than our position militarily, as a potential peace-keeping' force in Afganistan?

Other questions I have are -
How long has Pakistan as a separate Islamic country been in existence -since 1947? (60 years?)

When the term 'Islamic Extremist' is used in the media -who are they referring to exactly, if this is an Islamic country?

Why was the father of Benazir Bhutto executed by one of the previous the military governments?

In the past, how is it that Pakistan could not keep a civilian government in place even when the military stayed out of the way?

How is it that Benazir Bhutto's 19 year old son Bilawal (a student), is now popped into the lead position to take her place as the head of the Pakistan People's Party? Is this some 'family right' ? But then look at the US fixation on certain family names and even in Canada we seem to have 'brand recognition value' with some of ours (Trudeau).

Ah! - Jane has just reminded me that tomorrow is New Years and we need our bubbly along with some groceries and the cat boxes need cleaning. I better get moving -domestic bliss, political thought and down-time notwithstanding.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Our old friend Joanne
Class of 72 remembers.

Thank you Gerry and Family.
You too are well remembered.
Do your eyes still sparkle?

Monday, December 03, 2007

Frankly Speaking...

I have never really been what I would consider a "Jock" - is that "Jacques"? - no can't be. I mean, I am athletic- in that I played soccer, baseball and hockey when I was a kid. I also did Tai Chi and when my back is not killing me - Yoga. I remember when we were first married, Jane and I took karate classes together. But I have never been the type to be able to spout statistics about team sports.

One day I will tell the story of hitchhiking through the Eastern Seaboard of the old U.S. of A. but for now, I will say that I was very pleased to have Barry Jones with me.

There were all kinds of Americans who picked us up and gave us lifts down the road. And I have to be quite honest here, - we got farther, faster because Barry knew all the stats of all the football and baseball players. He knew the language!

ERAs and RBIs and all kinds of stuff. This was (and I get the feeling it still is) the language of America. No - it was the social currency!

MY, MY ! -How they would go on about all this stuff, that meant absolutely zip to me. It was a competition of who knew the most little details about people (pro sports figures) who could throw a ball, tackle, bat, catch, kick or fake.

Now, I do not mean to diminish the significance of this cultural phenomena, but we were in the middle of the expansion of the War from Viet Nam into Cambodia for heaven's sake! Both White and Black kids had disappeared down in the South while advocating Civil Rights! I had been whacked a few times in the back by a police baton when protesting in front of the American Embassy when I should have been in class at HSB! And here was Barry and these sincere and sports captivated gentlemen talking the talk! Here was I stranger in a strange land!

I mean, -do you remember Peter Oeder? He could spout stats on all kinds of snakes and reptiles. He knew exactly where to look in the Pines, if you wanted to find a Northern Brown, or Garder or a Salamander! He had flash cards the same way Barry had Baseball and Hockey cards. He was a minority of one in a milieu of the many. I'm not sure why I think of him now - I think it's the similarity to the commitment to statics committed to memory. Perhaps it's like I am with financial and investment stats? But the more I know on these, the better strategic decisions I can make.

Well- for the past 35 years, I have been flipping from TV channel to channel with my nifty remote, always skipping over the sports. "Oh God! Monday night football! Get a life! Change the channel - what's the market doing? Where's Louis Rukeiser? Are there any good movies on ?...'Thelma and Louise' or 'Shawshank Redemption' perhaps? Skip MASH the TV show, just give me the movie!"

But I have to confess.
I had John Saunders at the house with Murph (- excuse me- Dr. Vincent Murphy) the day after the reunion, as a pit-stop before joining Ralf (-oh yes- that's 'Dr.' Ralph Behrens with the beautiful family and home out in some Shangrila BC) we were all to meet over at AC's place (the angelic Anne Christine Gurholt).

So I was told about a year ago, (by Colleen Hillock and Rick Rankin) that John earned his livelihood on ABC TV doing sports commentary! "Well that's nice", I thought, -back then -my mind completely filled with detail about the looming Reunion. Woopty doo right?

So what do I find myself doing on American Thanks Giving Monday last week? I was watching ESPN -ABC, as I checked out the flying 2-d graphics and presentation (I am helping to put capital together for a deal for the people who created those graphics for all the networks). And guess who I see larger than life and spiffy 'talking the talk'?

WOW! - He looked real good! And could he talk the talk! I got my family down into that TV room fast!- out from behind the guitar and books and computer!

And I stood there transfixed pointing to our 42 inch 'not-yet-flat' TV and exclaimed with great pride and joy, - "THERE'S JOHN! He sat in our living room! I knew him way back when!"

I was thrilled as I listened to all that sports jabber! He's good at what he does. Man! - I am impressed. Keep going John! I think I 'get it', now! I'm a believer! Make us proud!

Jacob (my son) casually asked, - "So who are the other two talking with him?"
"Who cares!" says I... "There's John!"

(To think he and Colleen hosted our reunion. Oh-Oh! - Does this make me a "fan"? Hope so.)

John Saunders and the ever-cool Hopeton D'Aguliar

Mid way above - Left: AC and Rick,
Middle: Gervaise "Gerry"Bushe and Dr.Vincent Murphy.
Right: Anne Christine Gurholt, Louise Lacey and Dr. Ralph Behrens ... "Doctor, tell me... how is it that some people just get better looking with age?" - And look at Murphy - for God's sake! You look like one of those Doctors on the Soaps! Just grow old and sag like the rest of us for crying out loud!
Here we are!

Are you ready for snow...because we are going to get it now!

That's fine - I'll go skiing with my son and daughter if they have time from their university studies.

Maybe even Jane (my wife) will go - if she has a "snow day". She's a teacher you see..

Ah my old friend - are you enjoying your life?
I hope so. I think of you every now and then.
This applies to all of you who read this who knew me back in school - back when I knew you to wave to, or say hi to, or to have a smoke out behind the church, or to play guitar with and sing. I knew you when your hair was longer and when we wore a size 24-28 jeans.

As for smoking - well I gave that up when my daughter turned two. She is 22 now.

Below are a couple of pictures. I am so sorry to have to tell you that two lovely girls many of us had known - have passed on.

The first was Joanne Hannan - who I mostly knew as my cousin Greg's (Holden) wife.
The second, just two weeks after was another Joanne - Joanne Cunningham.

Joanne Hannan-Holden was with us at the reunion in May - dancing up a storm with my wife Jane as I sang on stage with our buddies in the band. She and Greg had made another appearance in this blog back in January/Feb when I put in pictures from New Years last. I really expected to dance with her again this New Years. But cancer took her from us all.

Joanne Cunningham, -I had not seen since the hallways, classes and chats in 1972 when if I am not mistaken, she went out with Ward Ross. A week or two ago, Jane asked me if I knew a Joanne Cunningham who had a sister named Gerry. Jane has this habit of reading the obits over coffee in the morning. I said, "Yes - she was one of the brightest most attractive people I knew throughout my high-school years."

Jane passed me the paper.
"Thomas , Joanne Wendy (nee Cunningham).
Suddenly on Saturday, November 17, 2007 at the age of 52.
Survived by her husband Don, children Douglas and Margery,
her mother Sheila Cunningham (Chateauguay), sisters Gerry (Jim Pfeiffer)
Heather Cunningham and her brother Jim Cunningham.

Joanne was a longtime dental hygienist (25 years), an active member of the
Orleans United Church , an Alto in the Carleton University Choir, and
an avid quilter.

Joanne touched many lives with her willingness to always lend a helping hand..."

(Some people never change.)
God she was so sweet -always smiling. So too was her sister Gerry. It has been a long time.

So yes - here we are.
It is winter.

Joanne Hannan and Jane Ashley McConnell

Joanne Cunningham (Yearbook 1972) (Gerry if you read this, please send us an updated picture.
Thanks, your old friend from the school - Les) I am very pleased Rick Rankin was able to attend the Memorial service in Ottawa area.