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Showing posts from February, 2018

Margot Frank

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I was doing sort of okay emotionally in the Anne Frank House until the instant I wasn't, and, since the instant I stopped doing sort of okay in the house at 263 Prinsengracht, Amsterdam, February became for me the month that Anne's sister, Margot, died.

The month she died, that is, because no one knows the day she died. The punctuation mark that closes the story of most human lives—the day of death—is lost to history in the sad story of Margot Frank. Margot Frank was born on February 16, 1926, and died in February 1945. She was either 18 or 19 when she died of typhus in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Nazi Germany.

Either 18 or 19. That "either" hit me unexpectedly hard. The fact of her death was monstrous. But for her family and her community to be stripped of the knowledge of the day of her death struck me as a fraction of victory for those who aimed at her total annihilation, including her memory.

In February, I will remember Margot Frank.



A trip of a lifetime

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Russia has tugged at me for a long time.

As a boy in a house with a Bible and an Edmonton Journal subscription, I followed the acts of a small number of characters in the bigger world: the Apostles, the NHL stars, and Russian and American politicians. My young imagination was peopled by, basically, St. Paul, Phil Esposito, Bobby Orr and Ken Dryden, with room for Nixon, Ford, Brehznev, Gromyko, Chernenko, and, later, Reagan, Andropov, and Gorby.

The Canada-Russia hockey series in 1972 captivated us. We watched games in assembly in the school gym on giant TVs that sat on wheeled legs. After school, when a friend in net made a great save during a road hockey game on 67 St, someone would invariably yell "Tretiak!" It was the highest compliment. Indoors, we spent hours and hours playing Coleco table hockey. My friend across the lane, Brucey Straka, spray-painted red a squad of plastic players. We replayed the 1972 series until some time in late 1979. Valery Kharlamov was unstopp…

Wave of thanks

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It is difficult to feel nostalgia for that which has not yet passed away. Difficult, but not impossible. This is the conclusion drawn from a silent encounter with a motorist  on 103 Ave this morning.

I realized I will miss the wave of thanks.

The wave of thanks, for those who don't know the arm I sing of, is the short wave that motorists in Edmonton still give, primarily to other motorists, but also to pedestrians and, in my case, bicycle riders, for kindnesses received in the give and take of automobilized travel. I am not sure if the wave of thanks exists in cities bigger than mine, Edmonton. The wave might simply be a quaint remnant  of the glory days of motoring, when we still tried to communicate car to car as human beings.

My grandfather would wave hello to other motorists in the early 1970s. I remember that vividly.




The wave of thanks happens when a motorist feels gratitude to another commuter for being allowed to merge, or to get into the flow of traffic, or allowed into …

The Prague

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We visited Prague earlier this month. It will stay with me.

Red Square, red balloons

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Here we were in Red Square five days ago in a photo composed by our friend from Saskatoon, Felipe Gomez. The rest of the photo, namely Saint Basil's Cathedral, was constructed around 1555 on orders from Ivan The Terrible.

We stopped for the pic during the Moscow Bike Parade, which drew a few thousand bicycle riders onto the closed streets of Russia's capital city.

Here is some of what I saw:



Nena was in my head for a lot of the trip, actually. I have realized how big a role Russia played in forming my imagination as a late child of the Cold War. In those good old days, I knew two categories of public figures: NHL players and politicians. Esposito, Orr, Dryden, Nixon, Ford, Trudeau, Gromyko, Brehznev. With her 99 red balloons, and her "this is it, boys," Nena walked onto that landscape.

I still see red balloons.