Geekly Walking

There was Bruce in 1966 and then there’s Bruce in 2016.  For as long as I can remember, I’ve enjoyed attending golf tournaments.  I love standing behind the tee and watching the top pros hit the ball high and far.  Sometimes it feels like it will never come down.  Then, as the golfers head down the fairway, I motor down the rough, either pausing where their balls stopped or stepping up the pace towards the green to watch the approach shots.

Back in 1966, I’d walk 36 holes every day, following one group in the morning and another in the afternoon.  Feeling my oats.  In 2016, however, my feet are saying no to such heroics.  I saw 27 holes on Thursday, about 23 on Friday, and 18 yesterday.  But so what?  I was out there seeing Brooke Henderson hit the ball.  My feet were really sore at the end of the day.  But my soul was singing.

I love the journey of golf.  I’m not the type to plunk myself down by a green and watch 50 golfers parade through.  There are the agonies and ecstasies of 18 holes, and I want to see them.  A well placed cushioning pad on my left foot diminished the pain and allowed me to be there to see Brooke fall and rise.

I developed blood clots a few years ago in my left leg.  They’re now dissolved, thanks to the medication I’ll be taking for the rest of my life.  But the leg really swells up on long car trips or lengthy ambles over the green grass … if left unattended.  Attention means wearing compression stockings – long black fellows that come almost to the knee.  In winter, I don’t give a hoot, but warm weather produces a t-shirt and shorts on my bod, so my stockings are in full view.  There have been times in the last two years when I’ve been too embarrassed to wear them, and I’ve paid the price.  This week, my black legs are on display.  People stare a bit.  Maybe it doesn’t make sense to them to see an “old” fellow boogieing down the rough in search of golf shots.  Oh well.  It makes great sense to me.

There will come a time when I won’t be able to walk near Brooke for a full round.  I’ll be sitting beside that green holding a cold one.  But that time is not now.  In two hours, I’ll be standing near the first tee as she hits her initial shot of the day.  I’ll be all decked out in designer black, ready to ramble.  It makes me happy.



It’s always been a word I enjoy.  Decades ago, I came up with a test for human beings.  Once I had talked to them a couple of times, I wondered whether I’d like them to be my friend.  The test was simple and totally unscientific.  Do they ever use the word “fun”?  It’s often proved to be accurate.

I’m in Ann Arbor, Michigan, watching Canada’s Brooke Henderson play in the LPGA tournament.  After so many years, we finally have a golf hero to cheer for.  Yay!  Brooke sits in tenth place right now, with two more rounds on the weekend.  I’m thrilled to be here.

I’m staying at the Red Roof Inn and get a free breakfast every morning at the nearby Big Boy restaurant.  Breakie out in the world means reading the sports section of the newspaper, in this case The Detroit News.  It’s so much fun.  (Hmm.  There’s that word.  Guess I’ll be friends with me.)

Happily, the Detroit paper has two articles about the tournament – the Volvik Championship being held at the Travis Pointe Country Club.  I was expecting to hear about players’ assessment of their golf games, and the challenge of the course (such as really fast greens).  There was some of that, but I was taken with quotes from three of the four golfers who were featured.

Ariya Jutanugarn (from Thailand):

“I’m really happy with it and I really enjoy playing golf right now.  So I’m not thinking about I’m going to win, I’m going to lose.  I just have fun and keep playing good.”

Marina Alex (from the USA):

“I’m just going to enjoy it and have fun.  Going to just work on all aspects of my game so I’m just going to keep doing what I’ve been doing and see where that leaves me.”

Jennifer Song (from the USA):

“I just want to take one day at a time, one shot at a time and just see how things go.  I just want to have fun out here.”

Well, well.  Sounds pretty cool to me.  May we all have fun.



Jody and I bought our home on Bostwick Road in 1994.  It’s been the scene of our joys and some sorrows.  Cuddling on the couch in the family room.  Enjoying evening fires on the patio.  Being together during my dear wife’s illness, including a day when Jodiette took 400 steps with her walker on the driveway.  Home.

Except it’s not that anymore.  The energy of Jody and Bruce is everywhere I look.  All those moments together, tied to the house and the yard.  Spots inside and out are no longer magic … they’re flat.  How can that be?  Well, it doesn’t matter how.  It just is.

Jody and I planted three magnolia bushes on our front lawn when we moved in.  Today they’re trees 20 feet tall.  Last week they were in full glorious bloom, white flowers with a touch of pink and the sweetest scent.  Absolute beauty in the world.  In previous Mays I plunked a folding chair amid them and drank in the glory.  But in 2016 I didn’t want to do that.  I should want to, said my brain.  I decided to follow my heart and stay away.  How fascinating to be in paradise but not feeling it.  Wow.  I need to be somewhere else (such as a lovely-to-be condo in Belmont).

I don’t want to sit on my patio and listen to the birds.  I don’t want to sink deep into my couch.  I don’t want to sit in my man chair, eating breakfast and reading the paper.

Jody understands.  “Create a new life, Bruce, in a new home.  It’s not that you’re forgetting me.  You’ll be flying again, and I’ll be there with you.”  Thank you, my love.  Fly I will.


Such a simple little body part until it becomes complex.

I’ve sure enjoyed strength training over the last few months.  Globally I feel stronger and my biceps, triceps, quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, chest, back and glutes are all thanking me.  Up till a few days ago, my left shoulder was singing my praises as well but then something went wonky.

There’s one exercise called the lateral raise where I pull 5-pound weights up to the sides, so that my arms are level.  I think that’s what did me in (momentarily).  Last week I could do less weight on that one than previously, which I suppose should have been a red flag.  I guess moderation and caution are not my middle names.

It hurts when I’ve tried to lift my left arm to shoulder level.  I can only imagine what I’d feel if I had a dumbbell hanging off the end of it.  So no lateral raise, thank you.  I thought of the chest press machine and figured that was worth a go.  My hands were on the handles ready to push forward at a far lower weight than before.  I brought my energy to fierceness.  Ten seconds to go .  “Explode, Bruce!”  I pushed … and nothing happened.  The handles didn’t budge.  My mouth dropped open.  For a few seconds, the horror of it all washed over me but then I watched that fade towards peace.  A minute later, I was smiling.  What an elusive creature this human body is.  A motion that I never think twice about suddenly becomes impossible.  It’s humbling.

I also can’t swing a golf club, and that’s something I so much want to do.  It’s strange how last week I dreaded hitting a shank, where the shaft of the club hits the ball, sending the little white guy veering way off to the right.  Now I’d love to shank the ball or do anything else to it but the clubs are staying in my golf bag for awhile.

I changed course yesterday, mostly doing leg exercises at the gym, and walking several holes at Tarandowah.  I put myself in those places and did what I could.  No way is that joint at the top of my arm going to dictate my well-being.  That’s my job.



Friday The Thirteenth

In Southwestern Ontario, whenever that date shows up, it means thousands of bikers (as in motorcyclists) show up in the town of Port Dover on the north shore of Lake Erie.  Yesterday police estimated that 100,000 visitors were roaming the streets.

When I pulled into the parking lot of Wimpy’s Diner in St. Thomas, the place was crammed with bikes.  I felt myself contract.  My past experience, however, told me there was nothing to fear – I’d had many fine conversations with the leather-clad set.

Into Wimpy’s I strolled.  I paused at a table of eight.  They looked at me, probably wondering if I was a decent guy.  “Where are you folks riding today?”  One fellow smiled big.  “Some port,” he replied.  Lots of laughing and then I moved to my regular table.

The restaurant was packed with roadies, most dressed in leather jackets.  A guy in front of me was sporting a cool t-shirt …   Hmm.  Yesterday I memorized the words, expecting to write you about it.  Today the words are gone.  Phrases that included “biker” and “leather”.  I’m disappointed.  Where has my memory gone?  Oh well.

There was so much laughing at those tables, and it wasn’t gossiping.  Just a rollicking good time.  And it was great to see so many women.  So much for the stereotype of bikers being male, loud and violent.  I wanted to be included in their clan but unfortunately I have neither the wardrobe nor the steed.  That’s okay.

Driving various roads throughout the morning, I came upon many flows of motorcycles.  Zipping over the asphalt with their friends.  Good for them.  We all need family.  I’ll just have to create my own version of togetherness.

Saying Goodbye To Stuff

Yesterday Jeff and Rick from Shackelton Auctioneering came by to pick up items for their spring lawn/gardening sale.  It was the first step in getting rid of things that Jody and I shared for years but that I don’t want at my condo.  I thought the process would be sweatless.


Even though they were just “things”, some of the objects held the love that Jody and I still share.  A round patio table inlaid with dark shiny squares accompanied by matching wicker chairs.  Jody and I sat there in a little alcove at the front of our home, enjoying a lemonade.  Just chatting.  A large rectangular table with ceramic squares on the deck out back … the site of many summer meals.  Two comfy loungers where we’d sit beside each other, reading our books and listening to the birds.  All vehicles for togetherness.  Goodbye vehicles.  The magic that you hold will stay in my heart, alongside my lovely wife Jodiette.

Then there was the Roper lawn tractor that breezed over the grass for many a year.  How marvelous to change the world from scruffiness to parkland in an hour.  And our snowblower.  I felt so accomplished in transforming impassible to a clear path for Hugo and Scarlet.

Later in the day, I struggled with weights in my strength training at Wellington Fitness.  Odd, I thought.  I didn’t have trouble with this amount of weight a few days ago.  Then I realized … not odd at all.  The emotional and the spiritual morph into the physical.  Such a journey we’re all on, of gain and loss.  May I embrace them both because both is what I will continue to receive.

Old chapter, new chapter.  Nice book.

A Golfing Life

Okay, so I’m addicted to the game and to the beauty that is the Tarandowah Golfers Club.  And I see analogies to life as I set off with my clubs.  Eighteen holes.  A journey from infancy to old age.  Hmm.  I wonder what hole I’m on now.  How about 14?  I’ll take that. I just don’t want to be on the 18th green, facing a three-foot putt.  But none of us know when the final hole-out will come.  I best enjoy my walk on the pretty green lands.

Let’s contemplate the sweet spot.  If I hit the ball on the central area of my clubhead, it’s effortless and high and long.  Some of my moments in life are like that.  I don’t do anything … wonders just decide to surround me.  Maybe a smile, a flower, or writing this blog.  And then there are the times when my golf ball hits the shaft of the club and zooms into the rough way to my right.  Or a toe hit.  Either one feels yucky, like hitting a stone.  Away from the course, I might say the wrong thing or stumble on the sidewalk.  Perhaps I can’t remember what I went down to the basement for.  Or how about constipation?  No sweet spot there.

I’ve never broken 100 at Tarandowah.  I’ve created a personal par of two over par for each hole.  That would give me a score of 106.  Two days ago,  I finished the front nine with 49, four under my par.  Oh bliss!  I saw future golfing glory spread before me on the back nine.  Then I “birdied” the 10th … five under par.  What a good boy am I.  On the 11th, a long par four, I hit a fine drive that unfortunately wandered right, slipping into a bunker.  No sweat.  Just a little sand shot to get back onto the fairway.  All this is sort of like a perfect day at work – crossing off items from my “to do” list, saying wise things in meetings, having people smile and nod approval.  And then …

It took me six shots to get out of that trap.  My final score on the 11th was 16.  Felt like a layoff notice.

Whether heroic or devastating, the journey continues to the 18th green.  Miles from performance issues, I simply walk the fairway.  And I will continue to do so until my ball drops into that final hole.

A Beating Heart

I’m thrilled that the lot where my new home will stand backs onto a farmer’s field.  It’ll be corn this year and beans the next.  Beyond the field, the land slopes up so my horizon is dotted with farm homes and silos.    Oh my.  I love long views and come September I’ll have one.

As an expression of obsession, I showed up yesterday after sunset.  The sky was still pink to the west and the spread of clouds above me covered the world.  I was in big sky country.  Dots of farmstead lights comforted me … my neighbours were home, enjoying their cozy living rooms and kitchens.

But what’s that?  A flashing dot of red way to the north.  I contracted.  It was the same reaction as I have seeing flashing Christmas lights on a house – no!  It brought up pictures of industry, stores and a frantic pace.  That’s not what I want.  But it’s what I will have.

I watched my body and my feelings fall on the negative side.  “Just be with it, Bruce.”  And I did.  The beat was slow, maybe 40 a minute.  As I gazed northward for awhile, there came a shift in energy, just a bit at first but then a stream and then a flood.  The light was love.  It was a heart.  It was Jody.  It was all the folks that I hold dear.  I kept looking.  The speed of the city intruded a bit but then gradually faded into the rhythm of life.

As I explored the perimeter of my lot in the darkness, I discovered that at certain points trees hid the telecommunication tower.  No red.  Disappointment … glee … disappointment.  So in the fall I’ll be able to embrace the heart or let it step aside.  To see a symbol of civilization or to feel the farms.  Life will rush towards me either way.

Condo … Part Two


I walked into the Belmont Diner and sat down, ready for poached eggs, bacon, home fries, brown toast … and peanut butter.  When Chrystal saw me, she came right over.  “I was wrong.  Glenn’s condos aren’t on Manning Drive.  They’re on the northeast corner of town, by the water tower.”  Okay then.   Once I finish slurping my coffee, I’ll head out there to get the lay of the land.  Shortly thereafter, the door opens and in walks a guy.  He sits beside me at the horseshoe lunch counter.  Chrystal makes an appearance once more.  “This is Glenn.  And Glenn, this is the guy I told you about.”  Serendipity!

We gabbed and chewed a bit and then he suggested I come over to see the model home.  Fifteen minutes later I was at his doorstep.  We talked and walked for an hour-and-a-half.  From the map of the development, it looked like there was a lot available backing onto the farmer’s field to the north … a long view.  Something I treasure.

There was a cheque in my pocket earmarked for Wellington Manor, the big condo building in St. Thomas.  I whipped it out and re-earmarked it to Glenn.  There.  Deposit delivered.  Home reserved.  Bruce happy.  Should I have done more research, more thinking?  Naw.  Lot 4 at 12 Robin Ridge Drive was calling my name.  Strike while the iron is hot and all that.

In the week between then and now, I’ve met lots of my fellow condoers, mostly by walking around and saying hi.  I even knocked on my next door neighbour’s door to welcome her to my world.  Sharon very kindly showed me all through her home.  Oh my goodness.  In four months I’ll be in a very similar sanctuary, with Bruceness inserted into every nook and cranny.

Glenn and I have pored over the plans and come to an agreement about the design.  And yesterday I went to Patene’s to pick out brick and shingles.  Among the brick colours available for Glenn’s condos was a warm orangish-brown variety, with some of the bricks having a touch of grey or white.  Beautiful.  I asked for the addresses of homes that were built using this colour and found out that only three homes in the entire London region qualified.  “Weird,” I thought.  There were 50 or 60 homes constructed with my second favourite brick – a reddish brown hue.

Oh well, I guess my tastes are different from the vast majority.  I drove off to London to view my colour.  Google had given me directions and the target structure was number 2088 on a curving street.  As the road moved leftward, I checked out the numbers … 2044, 2048, 2052.  And then what to my wondering eyes should appear but a two-storey home decked out in the most lovely orangish-brown brick.  I pulled Scarlet to a halt, got out and leaned against my car.  I just stared.  The brick sang to me.  It was so beautiful.  So warm, so homey, so me.

Tomorrow the journey continues.

Condo … Part One

Here I sit in my big home, surrounded by nearly an acre of grass.  This is where Jody and I thrived and suffered, and thrived some more.  My dear wife is everywhere here, cheering me on.  I’m looking over to the couch where we cuddled for many a movie.  And there’s the kitchen, where Jodiette created brilliant meals.  (Sigh)

What’s true is that I don’t want to live here anymore.  The energy within is loving.  It’s also of the past.  I need a new start.  Part of my bursting forth is becoming a member at the Tarandowah Golfers Club near Avon, Ontario.  I love the beauty there.  Saw a red fox a couple of days ago.  But Tarandowah is a 40 minute drive from Union.  Can’t I live somewhere closer?

Two weeks ago, I discovered the aura of Belmont, a town of maybe 2000 west of the golf course.  I was trying to create the perfect golfing day, and unearthed a breakfast spot (The Belmont Diner), a place to read (The Belmont Library) and a pub (The Barking Cat).  Cool.  But now that I had set up my perfect day, where would I hang my hat?  (Actually I don’t wear one.)

On Friday, April 29, I asked Chrystal, the owner of the Diner, if there were any condos in Belmont.  I was guessing there weren’t.  “I think that one of my customers is building some out on Manning Drive.  Go check it out.”  So I moseyed over to the northwest edge of town and found lovely new single family dwellings … but no condos.  Oh well, I guess Chrystal was wrong.

A few days before, I stood in the presentation centre of a future condo building in St. Thomas, a city of 35000 just north of Union (about 30 minutes from Tarandowah).  I liked the layout of a small unit and over time decided to put down a deposit of $5000.  I didn’t really enjoy the area of town, but it was a condo, and I didn’t want any more yard work.

On Saturday, April 30, I left home with a cheque in my pocket.  I remembered that Chrystal had said she’d talk to Glenn, the builder, about me being interested in a condo.  Oh, what the heck, why not drive out to Belmont for breakfast first, and then go back to St. Thomas for the deposit?  Couldn’t hurt.

It didn’t.