Monday, February 15, 2016

ToadMama's Brave, Bold Blogger Challenge (BBBC #7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 , 13, 14, and 15)

Kathy (ToadMama) published what she is calling her Brave, Bold Blogger Challenge. It's simple, a challenge that's a little crazy, and potentially demanding, but that is turning ought to be a whole lot of fun and very revealing for the participating bloggers.
A sense of community doesn't happen with all bloggers. Some bloggers have excellent blogs that generate a ton of pageviews, but they never become  part of a community. Moto bloggers, at least many of them, are part of a community. The thread that allows you to explore my community is in the list of blogs I subscribe to a little lower down on the right side of the page.

I go out of my way (literally miles and miles and miles out of my way) to meet other bloggers. When I do, I post their rider profile here (actually, there, at the top of this page). Always the same questions, but an amazing array of fascinating and sometimes surprising answers.

Kathy's blog challenge is working pretty much the same way and is already yielding some fascinating reading.

It's simple: Kathy asked participating bloggers to publish one article a day during the month of February. That's 29 posts in 29 days

To keep things as interesting as possible, I have decided to take a slightly different approach from the way I normally publish articles.

This is the second batch of articles. The first six instalments are here. I will post more articles in this  page until the page gets too long at which point I'll open a third page, and so on. For each day in February I will publish an article so that it moves back to the top (or maybe almost at the top) of the journal. Kathy provides a list of participating bloggers. I will continue to link to other participating bloggers' contributions so that whenever you find this article, you'll be able to read the answers other bloggers have published.

For earlier articles in this series click here.

7. A daydream.

It's not that I have never had daydreams.

When I get waylay-ed by a daydream, the vision that has set my imagination into overdrive is an outcome that I desire keenly. I explore the idea to the point where I can see it in all its dimensions from all perspectives. I imagine the sight, the sound, the feel, sometimes even the smell, aroma, odor of the chimera that has captivated me. I interact with the vision, I picture myself in its company.

It's in this way that my strongest desires have become reality. Where there is a will there is a way.

Right now, and for the past many months, Susan and I are in the realization phase of a longstanding desire to transplant our family to Toronto. We encouraged our kids to start their adult lives there, with the result that two of three are now in Toronto. Moving ourselves and the family home proved the most difficult challenge. I applied for jobs in Toronto that would have done the trick, but none panned out. I finally broke free from the job that anchored us here, and suddenly, the move depended only on Susan and I and the vagaries of the real estate market.

Here we sit, the house sold, a new home purchased. All that remains (as if that were the simple part) is closing the transactions and moving our worldly possessions.

All that means that our daydream has us so deeply rooted in its realization that there is simply no time for other daydreams. We are slaves to a past dream that is quickly morphing into our new reality.

That's how the most difficult and important things get done.


Read what other bloggers posted:

Kathy, Richard, Rachael, Steve, Mark, and Dar

8. The weather.
Today marks the... actually I have now lost track of the number of days I have been working away in the basement. Today is the last painting day.

The weather in the basement is now white, with a dark laminate floor.

The weather outside is also white, and... irrelevant.

Read what other bloggers posted:

Kathy, Richard, Rachael, SteveMark, and Dar

9. Favorite shoes.

Shoes are, more often than not, ephemera.

I definitely have a pair of shoes that I consider as my current favorite pair. They are plain pedestrian brown loafers. I bought them in 2011, without much enthusiasm, in a Cole Haan outlet store off I-5 north of Seattle. I needed shoes, and they seemed OK.

Since then, I broke them in, and they became more and more comfortable. I have done my best to kill them with neglect, seldom shining them, and by walking countless miles at home and on vacation. And they remain comfortable, the leather is still in great shape, and they are still my go to shoe. The truth is that the sole is what is going to be the death of these shoes. It's very thin in spots, and getting thinner, plus my heels are digging an escape route in the other direction. Oh well. It's fitting that I wore them in Pompeii. Sic transit gloria mundi.

I have tried to find a new pair, but nothing doing. One shoe salesman said, when I was trying my luck, "Ahh, those were when Cole Haan was owned by Nike. Yours have that amazing Nike sole. You won't find a pair like that again", and I haven't.

If I could have that moment back, I would have bought three identical pairs. Then again, if I had the gift of time travel, I'd have bought a few winning lottery tickets by now, I'd be really, really rich, and I would have made an absolute killing in the markets. But I don't, so I didn't, and I'm not.

My oldest footwear is a pair of 37 year old Tyrol hiking boots.

Talk about abuse. I bought them in the fall of 1979 when I started Bar school. They have countless miles on them, mostly in winter snow and salt laden slush. The Vibram sole is only barely showing the wear. They are desperately in need of a good oiling. That used to be my fall ritual. They were my riding boots when I started riding in 2010. They have been on the bench since I got a pair of Icon Patrol motorcycle boots. Safety first. If I were to die with my boots on, these are the only logical choice.

Read what other bloggers posted:

Kathy, Richard, Rachael, Steve, Mark, and Dar

10. A story you love to tell.

This is not a riding story, it's much, much older than that. Besides, I think all my riding stories are somewhere here for all to see. No point in repetition, and I'm in the mood to write, so here goes.

It was sometime in the late seventies. My summer job between semesters of law school was in a downtown law firm where, in the fullness of time, I articled, practiced law, and became a partner. One of the tasks the law students did all summer long, was research in land registry offices as far afield as a few hours' drive from Montreal, and looking after filings at the court houses in surrounding judicial districts.

On this fateful sunny summer morning I was sitting in a senior partner's office. It was around 9:00 a.m. I sat patiently in one of the two client chairs as the morning ticked away.

In the other chair was the partner's lead secretary. She was poised with her pen and steno pad. I was poised with a notepad.

She was halfway through some letter or other, and I was some part of the way through my marching orders for getting subpoenas and writs issued, and carrying out registry searches.

The senior partner was sitting behind his desk, a desk littered with paper inches thick. He was leaning back in his chair, holding the phone to his ear, staring at the ceiling, negotiating with another lawyer in another firm in relation to some court proceeding that was scheduled on the practice court roll for hearing that afternoon. A perfectly normal, if somewhat chaotic summer morning in a downtown law firm.

With nothing much to do but wait, my gaze turned to the panoramic windows of the partner's 36th floor corner office.

Then this happened. Something that I will likely never forget.

Richard, our head file clerk, came into the office with the morning mail. Richard was a little uneasy interfering with the partner's hectic schedule. His only desire was to tiptoe in, deposit the mail, and tiptoe out, which he did his usual best to do. A minion, doing a minion's task, hopefully unremarked and unnoticed. He almost made it too. He had turned his back and was in mid-stride, almost half-way to the door when it happened.

"What's that?"

Richard took another stride. "No... not you..." the partner said to the unseen, unheard lawyer on the phone. The secretary and I exchanged the kind of puzzled looks expected when nothing remarkable had occurred that might justify the partner's insistent query. Richard managed another stride, rightly oblivious to the proceedings.

"Richard!" Richard froze and did an about face. "Me, sir?"

"Yes, you. What's that?"

Now you need to know in order to appreciate this, that in the days before faxes and e-mail the file room clerks opened all the mail, put a date stamp on the letter or other correspondence contained in the envelope, fastened the opened envelope to the date-stamped letter, stacked the mail, and placed the stack in each lawyer's inbox. They did this each and every weekday morning, day in, day out, all year long. Richard had done this for years at this point. He could be forgiven for not understanding that the partner was addressing him, and could also be forgiven for being at a complete loss as to what was being asked of him.

"What's what, sir?" he stammered, clearly uncomfortable at being responsible for the collective suspended animation.

"That" the partner said, pointing to the stack of mail, as if Richard had perched a dead rat on the stack, which of course he hadn't.

"It's your morning mail, sir" Richard replied, somewhat unsure of himself, because the answer just seemed so damned obvious, and the partner seemed so damned intense about it.

"Yes I know that" the partner sneered with equal measures of impatience, condescension, and contempt. "What is in that brown envelope?"

Now it's true, there was a large brown envelope buried in the stack, towards the bottom. It was one of those large brown padded envelopes you would use to mail some bulky-ish thing halfway around the world.

"Well what's in it?"

"I don't know sir, I didn't open it."

"Why not?"

"It seemed personal, sir."

It did seem personal alright. It was addressed to the partner in cursive, and in the top right corner there were enough cancelled postage stamps to feed a third world country's treasury for a good week.

"Well, open it!" commanded the partner.

So Richard, not being one to disappoint a senior partner, grasped the envelope and was poised to rip it open from stem to stern on the spot.

In a flash move so unexpected that it caught the secretary and I by complete surprise, the partner raised his left arm bent at a ninety degree angle, as if shielding himself, and exclaimed in a very urgent tone "Not here!!!" Richard froze.

"In the mailroom" said the partner, somewhat more calmly.

Richard nodded, turned on his heels, and disappeared out the door with the package, headed down the hallway to the distant mail room.

The secretary and I exchanged looks that I can only describe as expressions of shock, dismay and incredulity at what we had witnessed. You see, a well-publicized mail bomb campaign was in full swing that summer, targeting Jewish institutions here and there around the world indiscriminately.

The secretary and I wheeled around, mouths gaping, looking in the direction of the mailroom, half expecting an imminent blast and Richard's severed head, with a permanent look of surprise, rolling lopsided towards us along the carpet, steps ahead of a billowing cloud of gray smoke. The partner in the meantime had instantly turned his attention to the nameless attorney on the phone, not even bothering to explain the unexpected hiatus in the conversation.

Fortunately, as Marvin the Martian would have said, "Where's the kaboom!?! There was supposed to be a Kaboom!", but of course there wasn't, thank heavens.

Richard returned momentarily, still puzzled, holding the torn envelope in one hand, and a woman's brightly colored silk scarf in the other. He deposited them carefully on the top of the stack. "It's a scarf for your wife from your cousin in Israel, sir" Richard said. The partner nodded without even a smile, barely pausing from his phone conversation.

Now that, dear friends, is easily, without a moment's hesitation, the most callous behaviour I have personally witnessed thus far in my life. Thankfully, Richard came to no harm. Richard is a great guy. I have many, many fond memories of him. I kept up my relationship with him for quite a few years after I left the firm. He was then, and remains today, a very classy guy. At one point just a few years ago, Richard had a massive health issue and had to undergo emergency open heart surgery. Against steep odds, he survived. That's fitting proof, if ever there was one, of the enduring value of good karma.

The partner's life took a different path and ended poorly. Enough said.

I don't think I ever had the courage to tell Richard what the partner thought was in that envelope. I doubt that Richard even remembers the incident. After all, nothing happened.


Richard, who in real life may have been a minion (in the best sense of the word, pre-Dave-the-minion, whom I find perfectly adorable by the way) way back when this incident occured, when we were both very young men, at the outset of our careers, stopped by (see the comments below) to say a virtual hello. 

By special request, that I cannot possibly deny, Richard invited me to tell the 'empty stapler' story.

I remember it as if it had happened yesterday.

Speaking of minions, I was a summer student. Summer students were the lowest caste in the firm. Below partners, associates, articling students, the office manager, the accountant and her staff, the librarian, the legal secretaries, the filing clerks, the telephone operators, and heck, even the small appliances. Had a student said "Get rid of that bloody defective toaster in the kitchen, or I walk!", well it would have been goodbye student for sure.

It was my first or second week on the job. In those days the students (there were three of us) worked in the library that was just behind the file room, where Richard worked.

I had just completed one of my first assignments and was ready to hand it in. All it needed was a staple.

I reached for the library stapler and... all I got was the sound a stapler makes when it's clean out of staples. To underline my slight frustration, knowing full well that my lowly station placed me in a position where even the freaking stapler might refuse to do my bidding with impunity, I held the stapler aloft in my left hand and worked the action in a staccato way "clack-clack-clack-clack-clack" with a kind of smirk on my face I have no doubt. I was sure I didn't have a clue where the staples were kept.

In the wink of an eye, no sooner had the last "clack" sounded, Richard rounded the corner, made straight for the stapler, reloaded it, and handed it back to me with a smile. It was a playful friendly gesture on his part. I was so impressed. Really I was.

That was the beginning of a great and very productive relationship.

Many years later, I recognized Richard's considerable IT skills acquired as an avid and talented hobbyist. We were just beginning to struggle with the advent of computers in the workplace. I discussed our challenges with the managing partner, suggesting that we promote Richard to being in charge of our IT needs. The miracles Richard accomplished with our modest technology budget were a sight to behold.

And that, dear friends, is the 'empty stapler' story that Richard requested be told.

Read what other bloggers posted:

Kathy, Richard, Rachael, Steve, Mark, and Dar

11. What are you thankful for today?

The simple and delightful answer is right here, but it's not 'what', it's 'whom'...

Susan, Jonathan, Vicky, Lauren, Andrew, Anuschka... and Harris. No, that's me not Harris on the end. When this picture was taken, Harris was in the picture, just not in Florence with the rest of us. Lauren was playing her cards close to the vest back then.

Read what other bloggers posted:

Kathy, Richard, Rachael, Steve, Mark, and Dar

12. What event are you currently looking most forward to?

Super easy!

Our upcoming move to Toronto, of course.

Read what other bloggers posted:

Kathy, Richard, Rachael, Steve, Mark, and Dar

13. Share a photo of your motorcycle (or car) taken on the same day you write your post.

Sorry folks, I just don't have what it takes to haul the beast out of its winter nook.

Hiding under that cowl, somewhere, is this:

Read what other bloggers posted:

Kathy, Richard, Rachael, Steve, Mark, and Dar

14. Image of someone that you love (pets count as people, but I promise not to share a dog pic!).

When you ask me about love, there is only one answer: Susan.

Asking for one image is not possible. The only answer is a series of photos I shot at the Nubble light house in York, on Cape Neddick, Maine, when Susan was horsing around with Gabriella, a very dear friend.

Happy Valentine's Day to my darling, my one and only!

Read what other bloggers posted:

Kathy, Richard, Rachael, Steve, Mark, and Dar

15. Describe your dinner (you can share a pic, too).

Susan is still working, but I'm not. My tasks for the day were to finish painting in the basement stairwell (check!), supervise the responses to our online ads and sell stuff (check!), deal with the minutiae of settling my Dad's estate (check!), and have dinner ready when my darling wife rolls into the driveway.

There were leftovers I could have warmed up, but, where's the fun in that?

I defrosted some chicken drumsticks and prepared some asparagus spears.

Then I made a salad with romaine, zuchini, red onion, coarsely diced apples, dried cranberries, maple syrup candied pecans, and crumbled Somerset aged cheddar. I confess that I cherry-picked the needed pecans out of a container of mixed nuts, so the nuts are now a little less mixed than they were before I started.

The chicken is the dish I am particularly proud of.

It goes like this: dredge the drumsticks in some seasoned flour (salt, pepper, poultry seasoning), brown in a mix of oil and butter till golden brown, remove from the pot.

Toss in some chopped onion, parsnips, and garlic and saute until nice and fragrant, pour in some chicken broth, bring to a boil. Return the chicken to the pot, cover and bake in the oven for about two hours at 225F.

Remove the chicken and put it in an oven proof dish and return to a 325F oven. Strain the broth, and discard the vegetables. Boil the broth until nicely reduced to a third of its volume. Add a small amount of the seasoned flour to thicken. Coat the chicken with the sauce from time to time, a little like basting it. That's it!

Throw the asparagus into a Corningware casserole, add a cup of water, cover, microwave for precisely eight minutes. Drain.

Take the chicken out of the oven, garnish with the aparagus.

Looks wonderful.

Both the chicken and the salad got a thumbs up from Susan. I also really enjoyed the meal.

I guess that's an eight or nine on ten.

I'm pleased.

Read what other bloggers posted:

Kathy, Richard, Rachael, Steve, Mark, and Dar

To read subsequent responses to this blog challenge, click here.


RichardM said...

Cool! Your daydream and reality are merged, sort of... Moving could be a nightmare.

David Masse said...

You know, I don't really dread the move. There's now an inevitability about it that just a few short weeks ago seemed like a shimmering distant possibility.

I'm trying very hard to book a three-four day trip to what now seems like it's going to be Northern Florida. Bill has offered me a bike so that he and I can ride out west to visit with Jim, and Ken, and Gary, and maybe Rob, and a few other desperadoes.

RichardM said...

That story reminded me of some of the anthrax mail scares over the years. But the behavior of the partner was horrible.

RichardM said...

And, sorry, but my opinion of lawyers didn't change...

David Masse said...

Richard, some lawyers are exceptions. Not that lawyer.

Richard Herbert said...

David is definitely one of the exceptions, and pretty much one of a kind. Minion, eh? ;-) Tell them the one about the empty stapler.

David Masse said...

Richard, those are kind words. Check it out... I added the stapler story.

Man, we go way back.

Call me and we'll catch up.

SonjaM said...

Love the family picture, David. You are a truly multicultural family. It can't get more Canadian than this, and the rest of the world could/should learn from you ;-)

Roland has btw some very similar loafers that he has a hard time to part with, because he can't really wear them anymore in public (except for maybe taking the trash out...)

David Masse said...

Thanks Sonja. Why is it that guys tend to love to wear clothing and accessories that often make their significant others cringe in public?

It's just one of those things that make male female relationships so interesting.

RichardM said...

Nice looking chicken dish. It looks and sounds like comfort food.

Do you make the candied pecans?

David Masse said...

Yes I did. Super simple. Handful of pecans in a Pyrex bowl. 1/4 cup of maple syrup. Pinch of salt. Stir to coat. Bowl in the oven at 325F. Set timer for 7 minutes. Remove the bowl, stir the nuts. Back in the oven for another 7 minutes. Stir again. Remove the nuts from the bowl, spread out on a piece of foil or wax paper, let cool.

ToadMama said...

"The weather in the basement is now white, with a dark laminate floor." LOL! I can so relate to being a prisoner (in a previous time) of construction and/or renovation work.

I loved the pics of Susan and her friend. I enjoyed the family pic, too. And you're a cook, too! I'm impressed.

I'm sure you are really excited about your new adventure. Thanks for playing along. It's been fun getting to know you a bit.

The mailroom story reminded me of some professional callousness I endured, too. People can be such shits. Hopefully that guy came to the sort of end he deserved.

David Masse said...

I am glad to be participating Kathy. The challenge is demanding, but when you read the posts they really do reveal interesting tidbits about the bloggers and their craft. I love it.

The copyright in all text and photographs, except as noted, belongs to David Masse.