I haven’t felt like writing for several days, and so I didn’t write.  To just let that be is difficult for me.  What if in the next year I only blog once a week?  I struggle not to label that as “bad”.

In my worst moments, I visualize having nothing to say for the rest of my life.  But I know me … that simply is not true.  Something out in the world will get my attention and then I’ll find a way to relate it to my life.  So there.


I was driving in St. Thomas yesterday when I noticed a little black object way up high straight ahead of me.  A squirrel was scampering along the power line that stretched across the road.  Then he stopped, apparently eating something.  In a flash I was under him and gone, but he has stayed with me.

Mr. Squirrel was so calm up there.  Just dipsydoodling his way above the madding crowd.  I imagined myself on a rope, suspended above the gorge near Niagara Falls, holding on to my long pole for dear life.  Absolute terror!  Now it’s true that I don’t have the skill, and that I could possibly develop it, but to perform such a feat with my new friend’s ease?  Impossible.

What if I could hum my way through some activity that many people would find hugely difficult?  Do I do anything like that?  Well … now that you mention it … I’m writing this blog post.  Some folks, in contemplating the creation of words that will later fly off into cyberspace, would feel the same terror.  And although I’ve been in a scribing lull lately, when I do sit down with my laptop, I trust that I’ll have something to say, that the words will come.  Such as right now.  This paragraph is over.  I don’t know what the next one will be about.  And that’s okay.

“Celebrate, Bruce, that you can write with ease.  It’s all right if the quality is not so good on a certain day.  There’ll be plenty of really good posts.  Just let those fingers do the walking.”  And so I will.

Watching The Land

I drove from London towards Tarandowah this afternoon.  I was out in the country, on Scotland Drive.  And I looked around.

Lots of rolling farm fields interspersed with woodlots.  I love the curves of the land … no sharp angles or straight lines.  They mirror the flow I often feel inside me.  And there’s a sentinel tree on top of a rise, its bare branches reaching out in a gesture of grace.  Lovely.

But what’s this?  There’s a line of towers up ahead, crossing the road at right angles.  I know we need electricity but the huge man-made structures intrude in my head.  I thank the unknown powers that the towers aren’t paralleling Scotland Drive, accompanying me all the way.  Crossing their path, however, is okay.  I’m happy to wish them goodbye.

Here comes an old barn with its grey vertical boards.  Half of it has fallen down in a heap of wood.  And that too is okay.  I welcome the old and passing.  So impermanent, this life.

And then there’s a field, jam packed with solar panels, facing away from me.  My stomach turns.  It’s such a mass of flat angled surfaces.  The next field too.  How strange my mind wanders.  Solar energy is such a boon for mankind but I can’t get beyond my distaste for rectangles.  It reminds me of a subdivision in Calgary, Alberta – cookie cutter homes only a few feet from each other.

As Scotland climbs its last kilometre towards its T intersection with Belmont Road, I see living beings on the horizon … silhouettes of cows and horses.  I like that too.  Seems that I’m an old fashioned type of guy.

Creating A Day


Now that I’m firmly in place at the Tarandowah Golfers Club near Avon, Ontario, it’s time to compose a journey.  In my brain, I know that each day is one but I want that perception to become a deeper reality.  Centered on my days spent walking the fairways, I want to create a series of experiences that I can repeat many times.  Sort of an heroic quest … for breakfast … for sitting in a comfy chair, blogging or reading … for an evening meal and brew.

So I ventured forth this morning towards golfing heaven.  Where will breakie reside?  Avon doesn’t have any restaurants but the town of Belmont is nearby.  On a previous trip, I ‘d seen a sign for the Belmont Diner.  Just to be sure, I googled “Belmont restaurants” but no diner materialized.  Maybe the place is closed.  I remembered that there was a supermarket in the same building so I phoned there, and found out that the diner was alive and well and open till 2:00 each day.

I pulled into the parking lot and opened the door to a gaggle of conversation.  Six guys at one table, about twelve women at another.  Ahh … my kind of place.  I sat at the lunch counter and was greeted by a smiling waitress.  Later, she was there in a jiffy to refill my coffee when she saw the severe angle of my cup.  “It’s not my first day on the job, nor will it be my last.”  As I chowed down on my bacon and eggs, a conversation unfolded with a woman nearby, focused on our mutual love for Stephen King.  Very cool.

Next on my menu was that comfy chair.  I had discovered that Belmont has a library and that it was open today at 1:00.  And here I sit, tapping away.  Maria welcomed me and set me up with a library card.  Free Internet plus a space for me to enjoy Stephen or perhaps a book about the spiritual side of golf.  Oh … life is good.  It’s so quiet in here.  Just a customer or two.  And there’s a big old clock on the wall which reminds me of my grandpa’s farmhouse way back when.  Maria and I have chatted some about Belmont.  She’s even told me there’s a pub in town – The Barking Cat.  Hard to get my head around that name but sounds worth checking out.

I’m just about done here.  Even though it’s raining, I’m heading to Tarandowah.  Brought my umbrella.  I just might stroll the first fairway, with a song on my lips.


Discipline … And Letting Go

Now that I’m home, I’m going to take on a project that will require all my dedication.  Will I address world hunger or perhaps contribute to an elevated consciousness in Canada?


I’m becoming a better golfer.  There … no grand plan for touching the world, just me touching the land.  Hitting balls with a prayer that they’ll hang in the sky.  Wait a  minute – that sounds a bit spiritual to me.

I’ve become a member at Tarandowah Golfers Club near Avon, Ontario.  My plan is to go there most days and hit shots on the driving range until I get consistent enough to play the course with other members.  Tarandowah is a very difficult course which matches my golf game nicely.  But I’ll get there, supported by the lessons I’m taking from Derek Highley in London.

I was on the range yesterday.  Such a meditation.  I hit 200 balls, trying to “sweep the grass” and have the low point of my swing an inch or two in front of the ball.  I’ve never really practiced before so no wonder that I’ve never broken 120 at Tarandowah.

Consistently hitting the ball on the sweet spot of the clubface is one key to happy golf.  But consistency hasn’t exactly been my middle name.  And so what?  I begin.  Most of my shots were hit off the heel or toe of the club and squibbled unimpressively down the fairway.  My low point ranged from two inches in front to three inches behind, with corresponding tears in the earth.  Sometimes life felt effortless and the ball climbed in the air.  Mostly, though, it was like hitting a stone.

Again I say, so what?  I’m on the road to the sweet spots of life.  And I realize it’s possible to feel that sweetness even during the most wayward shot.  I’m on the grass, doing something I love.  I’m fully capable of letting performance thoughts go and revelling in the happiness of being at Tarandowah.  I met some fine people out there yesterday and that’s the realest joy of any activity for me.  Sooner than I’m expecting, I’ll be walking down the fairways beside them.

Day Eleven: Bloggus Interruptus

You haven’t heard from me for the past few days.  I flew home yesterday and I’m glad to be here.  My intention had been to blog every day during the thirteen in Cuba, but something happened when I sat down on Wednesday morning to write about Tuesday (Day Eleven).  Here’s how I started:

“I had just closed my door and was walking down the hallway, heading to the beach.  A housekeeper’s cart was against the wall.  As I passed by, a black woman in uniform stood at the entrance to a room.  I looked.  She looked.  “Dorelys?”  She smiled and nodded.  We looked some more.

Dorelys (pronounced Dor-RAY-lee) was my maid sixteen months ago.  She speaks very little English but we laughed a lot.  She wrote me a sweet note when I left.  About ten days ago, I went looking for her.  I’m in building 55, although I had asked for 51, hoping to see Dorelys again.  When I showed up at 51, a fellow said that she was off sick and probably wouldn’t be back for a month.  I was sad.  I let her go, wishing her well.

Then yesterday.  She had hurt her foot and was back working for one day only, since the hotel was short-staffed.  And the building she was assigned to was 55.  What are the chances that she and I would reunite?  I figure there’s some force at work beyond the ability of my puny brain to comprehend.

Dorelys and I hugged.  I kissed her hand.  And then we looked into each other’s eyes for ten seconds or so.  I don’t do that very often.  It was a moment I’ll cherish for the rest of my days.  And then it was goodbye again.  Fare thee well, my dear.”

I think I got as far as “Fare” when my screen began to fill with the letter “q”.  That sentence is only five words long but it took minutes of deleting before I got it all done.  One q came, then ten and then the scrolling speeded up.  Within seconds, I was trying to erase a hundred of them!

I panicked, with absolutely no sense of spiritual well-being intruding on the laboured breathing and sweating of the forehead.  I thought I was going to lose my paragraphs so I tried copying the file.  When I opened the copy, the q’s kept coming.  I saw a virus taking over my laptop, eliminating all the insights hunkered down in saved files – basically turning my machine into a dead piece of metal.  I tried opening one of my old files, written two years ago.  One little paragraph showed up on the screen, soon to be augmented with qqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqq  “Shut it down, Bruce, before it’s too late!”  I clicked the Start button at the bottom left, ready to press “Shut Down”.  The address window nearby filled with q’s!

Finally, the machine stopped.

This morning, I took my laptop in to Martin, my friendly computer expert.  The diagnosis?  The q key was sticking.  No evil virus.  Life laughs.


Day Ten: Catamaran

Sun and sea – just what the doctor ordered, except this tourist didn’t want to go.  How strange.  The vague unease of nausea told me to hang out at the hotel, rather than lie on the netting of the catamaran.  But I went anyway, determined to stay out of the sun.

I put on sunscreen in the lobby and boarded a double-decker bus.  Wanting to experience the freedom of the air, I went up top, open to the sky.  I hadn’t anticipated trips to other hotels to pick up seafaring types, nor the lineup of buses at some places.  I didn’t want to blister again.

I don’t understand me.  It never entered my mind to put on more sunscreen.  I am a queer duck … but basically likeable.  What I really enjoyed on the bus ride was leaning way over to my right, watching the branches fly just inches by.  A few times I had to jerk my head back as the leaves brushed the railing.  It was fun.

As we walked the pier towards our boat, all I could think of was shade.  I squinted ahead, searching for some horizontal awning.  Happily, a blue one was in place.  I sat down under it and only then proceeded to lather on the SPF.  My t-shirt was unremoved, and it stayed that way for the rest of the voyage.  Wow, that’s just about sacrilege on a catamaran trip.  No Speedo put in an appearance either.  My shorts would do nicely.

Another fellow and I watched in awe during our first anchorage as huge pelicans hovered in the breeze.  They were his favourite bird and he had never seen one.  Looking at him, I thought of a California friend who stood with me decades ago in the Rockies as he saw snow falling for the first time.  The same wonder.  Connor was so determined to see a pelican dive straight down to catch a fish, but he was even more attuned to snorkeling with his girlfriend.  He never did witness the dive.  But he and Jordan were clearly in love, cuddling as we floated over the waves, laughing and smiling.  I talked to them about Jody some, and at the end of the trip told them to hold each other close because you don’t know how long you’ll have your beloved beside you.  I believe they heard me.

I grappled with choosing cover-up clothes and mostly keeping to myself in the shade.  Didn’t fit my pictures.  Again and again, I returned to letting it be, to live in each moment.  I saw lots of boisterous conversations around me, some of them fueled by alcohol.  I didn’t want that.  I saw most of the passengers walking on a sand bar up to their thighs.  I didn’t want that either.  I sat at the back of the boat, with green islands to my left and right.  Straight ahead was the infinity of ocean – the lightest turquoise over the sandbar, medium where the water was deeper.  Wisps of clouds painted darker patches on the sea.  On the horizon, I saw waves breaking, little flashes of white that would come and go.  Other than the laughter overboard, there was silence.  It’s a very big world.

During the last hour, as we sailed back to the dock, peace descended.  No, I’m not behaving as I thought I would.  I’m not being drawn to my usuals.  I’m quieter than normal.  But there is no loss, nothing wrong with my current way of being in the world.  Float on, Bruce.

Day Nine: Saying Goodbye

Is saying goodbye to dear ones different for me in Cuba, since I’ve only known these folks for days?  Yes and no.  The moment of meaning can be just as deep here as with someone I’ve known for years.  The time shines … or it doesn’t.

Hector is one of the attendants at the gym in the village beside my hotel.  He’s a young guy, very enthusiastic, without much English.  He’s let me know, however, that he’s impressed with me working out in my 60’s.  He figures that most Cuban men don’t lift a finger past 40.  Hector has helped me understand some of the strength training machines, such as how to adjust the torso twist.  All done with a huge smile.

Yesterday, he played American songs on his iPhone as I was doing yoga.  While lying on my back, I was singing Elvis’ “Jailhouse Rock”, with all four feet and hands dancing in the air.  Hector laughed.  And I’m pretty partial to anyone who laughs at me.

I had money in my pocket for a tip and something inside told me I needed to give it to him right then.  He was so happy to receive the gift, and then told me he was about to leave for a week’s vacation.  Thank goodness I followed my inner guidance.  I’ll miss him.

Last night, Elisabeth was serving me in the lobby bar.  What a sweet person, endlessly animated in the eyes.  She told me she was about to go on a week’s vacation.  Oh, the sadness.  I asked her where she lived.  She said Santa Clara, a three-hour bus ride away.  Six hours of commuting a day!  She talked again about her husband, and of Jody.  We both love our spouses so much.  Now she gets to spend a week with him.  We said how much we’ll miss each other.  We held hands.  We hugged.  We said goodbye.

Now it’s a day later, and I’m back in the lobby bar.  Celida, a waitress who’s served me several times, comes up and asks “Do you miss Elisabeth?”  “Yes.”  (So much)  Celida then said “She talked about you.  She loves you.”  I started crying.  How can a 20-year-old Caribbean woman move me so much?

Two young Cubans whose lives are very different from mine.  And just the same.

Day Eight: Saturday Notes

I sat in the lobby last night with many other folks, listening to Cuban musicians of the lovely guitar solos and sublime blendings of the voice.  It was the tender songs that moved me the most.  Those voices wafted over the couches and chairs, blessing us all.  I sat opposite a young family – mom, dad, and two kids.  During one of the fast numbers, mom stretched her arm out to ten-year-old daughter.  They found a clear space and proceeded to boogie, hand in hand.  Oh, the smiles!  Including a big one from dad, who was sending love from his seat.  I imagined him visualizing his daughter in a wedding dress, the two of them walking down the aisle.


Elisabeth is a young waitress in the lobby bar.  We laugh and she bubbles.  “All right, Bruce?”  As in “Do you want another drink?”  Always with a smile.  Yesterday she showed me her wedding pictures on her iPhone.  Hubby and wifer just glowed.  Elisabeth says she loves him the most because he’s kind.  A good way to be, young man.  She joys in her marriage and sorrows with me as I miss Jody.  Elisabeth knows very little about golf but looks thrilled when I talk about The Masters or the beauty of the swing.  She’s very smart … it’s just that golf isn’t part of her world.  I’m glad she’s part of mine, even if briefly.


I sat next to a skink yesterday, as least that’s what I’d call him if he was skittering across the boardwalk at Point Pelee in Ontario.  He’s a tiny lizard: body two inches and tail the same.  He clung to a nearby branch for at least fifteen minutes, making eye contact.  When he breathed, his throat expanded into a flag of orange.  Just Skinkie and Brudie hanging out.  Thanks, short one, for slowing me down.


It’s such a meditation to let the body do what it feels like doing, especially when the result is pain.  And a mystery.  I’m trying to take care of the physical form, with good nutrition and exercise as my energy allows, but well-being isn’t following at the moment.  “Let it be, Bruce.  You’re not going to die.  It’s just another square on the patchwork quilt of your life.”  Well said, whoever it is that’s talking.


I was sitting in a restaurant, minding my nutritional business, when a fellow approaches and asks “Are you Canadian?”  I didn’t answer him.  Instead, I sang “O Canada” as he gaped, I think amusedly.  How lovely to have my strategic brain turn off once in awhile and let the melody flow.  He laughed and applauded at the end.  I just laughed.

Day Seven: The Masters

As my body was saying no to me yesterday, I retreated to something I love … golf.  Specifically to the pro tournament I love the best – The Masters – at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia.  For decades, I’ve wanted to be there, but tickets only seem available to the privileged few.

So it’s been me and my TV.  And I’ve become friends with some of the holes I’ve gazed upon over the years.  Friends with the greenest of fairways, the vibrant azalea bushes, the par 3 12th over Rae’s Creek, the par 5 15th with its second shot offering the invitation to fly your ball onto the green from far away.  I don’t know how it can feel like home, but it does.  The spirits of long gone golfers still walk the fairways … Bobby Jones, Gene Sarazen and Byron Nelson, as do the heroes I grew up with, thankfully still with us … Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player.

Yesterday I pulled up a chair in front of the lobby bar TV and watched the drama for three hours.  I was happy.  Yes, the beach is out there somewhere but I was in my spot, reliving the joys of yesteryear, except now it’s Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy and Jason Day addressing the ball.

On this vacation, I’ve not only reread my favourite golf novel – Golf In The Kingdom – I’m now re-rereading it.  Such an obsessed young man.  Here’s a passage:

One day he shot a ninety, yes a ninety, my friends, and laughed and complimented me all the way.  Had a grand time, he did, never looking back at par, never panickin’ or cursin’, just steady through it a’, the same as he always is.  And that I say is the mark o’ a brave and holy man, that he can retreat like that from par without a whimper.

I don’t know if I saw any holy men on TV yesterday.  I did notice a lot of angst, wild gesturing and talking to oneself.  No one broke 70, the first time that’s happened since 2007.  Sterling golfers such as Phil Mickelson missed the cut.  He double bogeyed both the 15th and 16th holes, including a wayward launch into the pond guarding the par 3.

Golf is such a seductive and oft punishing game, mixed in with the moments where club and ball unite on the sweet spot.  To regularly bring forth sweetness during a round on the links is truly the gift of a great spirit.  I want to be a man like that.

I found myself cheering for par while watching the action unfold, hoping that nobody would end the day with a sub-par score.  Let the huge obstacles wash over you and may you revel in walking the fine earth.  It turned out that seven players finished round two under par, with the total number of strokes they were under adding up to only 14.  Today, I hope this number diminishes to zero.  The game is bigger than all of us.  May the lessons inherent in stumbling, hooking, slicing and missing three-foot putts flow into the rest of our lives.

At 3:00 today, I’ll be back in the lobby, continuing my unusual vacation.  Following my bliss.  Watching life.

Day Six: Saying Yes To It All

I slept for ten hours last night.  The body is not behaving nicely.  I look at yesterday with wonder, at all the ailments (real and imagined?) that came my way:

1.  Exhausted

2.  Dizzy in the heat, head achy

3.  Nose stuffed up here and there

4.  Coughing up yellow phlegm

5.  Constipated

6.  Sand flea bites on my feet and lower legs, itchy on and off

7.  Certain unmentionable body parts are now four times their original size

The lack of wind meant that flies were my frequent visitors.  I was open to a rarified air of consciousness but I guess it wasn’t open to me.  So I retreated to my air conditioning and my book.

I read about Birdie, a Canadian aboriginal woman who was sexually abused by her uncle but hadn’t lost her spirituality.  Her love for the women in her life was immense.  There was so much anguish in the book but Bernice poked her head above it all, time and again.  As I read about the violence and her depression, my body was doing its thing.  Her pain mixed with mine.

Her home wastwisted with heat”.  Physical and emotional, like me right now.

One night, Bernice slept in a dumpster, holding thrown away flowers to her breast.  I too cling to the symbols of hope, such as this blog, knowing that as for my current malaise, this too must pass.

As Bernice’s aunt said, “The Kid looks like she’s melting.  Dimming.  Half gone … But.  She also looks lovely.  Like her body fits her spirit.”  Yes, it feels like I’ve dimmed on this vacation but the essence of Bruce is here.  Untarnished.  Still shining.

[Interlude:  My waiter friend has just brought me a coffee.  Milk is foaming above the rim of the cup.  I realize that I need to stir very slowly to prevent it from slopping over.  And so I do.  I’m pretty slow right now.  It’s what’s needed.]


I walked behind two men this morning on the way to breakfast.  They were strolling.  I was strolling a bit slower.  They both had grey hair, blue shirts and grey shorts.  (We’re all the same.)  One fellow had brown legs, the other perfectly white.  (We’re all so different.)  I made no judgments … exterior or interior.  We share the path.


I’m alone here.  I’ve been friendly to folks I’ve met, those from Cuba and elsewhere.  Our conversations are brief and then they’re off to visit with their friends.  I wish there was a special someone to share experiences, thoughts and emotions with me.  It wasn’t to be this time.

Writing to you is essential, even if “you” only represents ten people.  I get a fair number of likes but hardly any comments.  That’s okay.  I know I’m reaching a few folks.  Another type of contact for me is to post on “Toronto Golf Nuts”, a website about the best sport in the world.  I love what Brooke Henderson from Canada is doing on the LPGA Tour, and here’s what I said on Wednesday:

“What I most enjoyed about Brooke at the ANA was her willingness to do an interview after her opening round 73.  She kept answering reporters’ questions, despite no doubt feeling down.  She didn’t make much eye contact with them but hung in there and gave honest answers.  It says so much about her as a person.  I respect her humanity as much as I respect her golf, more actually.”

Yesterday, some kind person responded with “Well said.”  I cried.  Just those two tiny words of appreciation and I was gone.  Good for me.  Good for us.