Golfing in Shaughnessy

Coming back I saw a guy with a golf club on the west side grassy border between the sidewalk and the street I was on, which happened to be Hudson Street.  I could see he had a ball on the grass and was positioning it.  Then he stepped over it and took the shot.

His swing looked sound.  I’m thinking this guy is not a hacker.  It was funny.  He swung the club in my direction and the ball looked like it was coming right at me.  I instinctively dodged a little to the right in these interesting times as the ball  ran out of gas quickly and plopped to the ground.


“I thought it was a real ball, “ I said, coming up to where he was.  I was still in the street.

“Oh no,” the guy says.  “You couldn’t do that around here.  It’d go bouncing off all over the place.  It’s a wiffle ball.”

I’d already guessed that myself.  I know all about wiffle balls.  You might say I’m a wiffle ball expert.  A hollow plastic ball with evenly spaced little holes in it.  This one was the same size as a real golf ball.  If you swung at it with all the precision of some heavy-hitting pro the ball wouldn’t fly more than a few feet.


“Sand wedge,” the guy says.  He was a white gentleman maybe sixty with wavy pepper and salt hair and was looking reasonably trim in dark blue jeans, new looking fine running shoes and a well-tailored, polo style shirt in a  sheeny grey, tucked in as opposed to worn loose.  “Want to join the Shaughnessy golf club?”  he says.

“I don’t think I can afford it,” I said.

“It’s free,” he says.  “All you need is a club or two.”  He was joking about doing what he was doing, but I didn’t get it at first.

“I thought you were talking about the real Shaughnessy,”  I said.  Shaughnessy Golf & Country Club   “Well, you get good loft with a sand wedge. Have a nice afternoon.”  I had to be moving on.

“Good loft.  That’s right,” he says.

He was a nice, friendly Shaughnessy-er.  I’ve no doubt that was his excellent, massive place just on the other side of the low granite stone fence bordering the other side of the sidewalk from the grassy strip.  He had the easy, confident patter of someone well-heeled.


In a flash I decided not to mention I played Shaughnessy one time as a guest but I’d thought of it.  My concern was the gentleman might possibly be a member of the real Shaughnessy Golf & Country Club because he could afford it.    And he might think me, in his final analysis, rather jejune.  And I can’t have people thinking I’m jejeune.  It’s not on.  And I wasn’t overly interested in more conversation although I’d enjoyed this strange encounter.  I had to get going.

I had the thought for a few moments that this wealthy lawyer or chairman of the board or whatever thought perhaps I might live in Shaughnessy myself, a rich guy like him, a neighbour out for his exercise slog in my running shoes and shorts and logo-ed top, something like he was doing to prevent himself from going crazy.  I daydreamed of my ego being stroked, purring like a kitten.  Hey, I’m a rich guy too!  But I was dog-tired from this championship death march and soldiered on like a horse who can smell the barn.

That sounds icky.  It’s day a billion and two of the pathogen.  Pathogen, why?  Why this?  Why now?  Where you headed, pathogen?  Behaving like this and all.  Why?  You’ve caused so much pain you ought to be ashamed of yourself.

All word spinning aside we’re getting through, like the Shaughnessy golfer who can’t go to his club, wherever it is.  It’s nice to be in the privileged position we’re in with one of the best scores on the big board.  Our game has been pretty solid so far and here’s hoping.

Championship Peony

Flowers courtesy CSNicol


Kicking Against the Pathogen

April 24. It takes a while to get it started but it still runs pretty good. Pathogen world. Pathogen apathy. The Great Pandemic. It must be great because it’s not small. I don’t have two words to say about it anymore. We went out driving again not because something was pressing but to get out of here and do something. Target: “London Drugs”. The new one up there in old Dunbar. They had no product but that really didn’t matter. We drove.

I have no idea now what I’m doing here. Major rethink. My problem is this was the only idea I had. If I’ve lost interest how are others supposed to feel?  Am I supposed to be satisfied with that? I’d rather just sit here like a blob and have another coffee.

This is what the pathogen reduces me to. But there’ll be no surrender even if I turn into an amorphous mass of goo. I’ve got a bad taste in my mind. Wash hands frequently. You don’t know where they’ve been. I get that. I do that. The emotions are sloshing around. Look at them in there. Sloshing around. They’re not supposed to be all over the place like that. Hey! Straighten up! Get hold of yourselves! We’re going to win this fight!

They’re going to make a decision on bringing the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier captain back, restoring him to duty, the one who was canned for going outside normal communication protocols to let people know his ship was basically on fire with the pathogen.

That’s an interesting idea. I think the navy now understands that the sense of alarm he had about the seriousness of his situation and the responses he was receiving caused him to believe his duty was to be a little over the top to get his superiors to fully appreciate the threat to readiness.  The captain was clearly fulfilling his duty to his crew, his ship and the navy as well as the country and the error is on the navy, not him. Is that it? It sounds so American. And the navy is big enough to realize its error.  The guy that canned him, a presidential appointee, was canned himself.  There’s a kind of poetry.  There really is.

I love aircraft carriers. I’ve always wanted one. Somehow models don’t quite cut it. I want a real aircraft carrier. I don’t need the planes or helicopters and they can take all the guns and stuff off and get rid of the nuclear reactor. It’s just the thought of having that big old aircraft carrier in my backyard. I’d cut a couple of holes in the hull so we can step right in off the grass and start having a look around. That would be so cool.


Saturday.  Long hike into deepest Shaughnessy.  Exercise exploit.  Just on the way in I pass with plenty of clearance a young man coming the other way pushing a baby carriage down the sidewalk. He is tall, fit-looking and wearing a dark jacket, jeans and sporting a ball cap with some logo on it I don’t recognize. I decide to overcome my new tendency to self-isolation  and say, “Hello.”

“Erghhh,” he goes, eyes straight ahead as he passes. The brother is stressed is my immediate reaction. Maybe this guy’s an athlete out of a job. I don’t recognize him but he doesn’t recognize me either so that makes us even.

I pass Devonshire Park. I’m impressed with myself for remembering the name because it’s one of these parks that gives no indication anywhere that it has any sort of name at all. You have to keep your wits about you in Shaughnessy and that’s something else I’d remembered.

I was poised for action on these hallowed streets but nothing was happening. The only movement anywhere was the occasional vagrant slave worker at some reno or new-build site of which there are a number just in the area I was covering. It’s so quiet you can hear a guy with a hammer a block away.

There’s a lot of trees in Shaughnessy and a lot of houses and all of the houses are large and most of them look new or recently reno-ed and almost all of them look good. They’re nice jobs, most of them in the craftsman style, painted in traditional colours.


It’s only the trees that look old. They tower over the streets and sidewalks and are coming into leaf and blotting out the sun. The neighbourhood didn’t look a lot different 100 years ago.

I get a bit turned around because when you start taking some of the crescents and their confusing arcs unless you’re really an old stager around here, which I’m not, that can happen. And if it’s not happening you just say to yourself I’m going to make it happen because this pathogen nonsense is consuming my soul and I want to get lost. I want the thrill without the danger. There’s no bears and if I get scared I can just start crying or scream blue murder and somebody’s bound to notice and save me, right?

I curve around and see a street obviously busier than any other around here, it’s a main street and suddenly I’m having the delightful sensation of not knowing what street that is ahead out there in the world. What street is it? Because from what I can see it doesn’t look like Granville Street and I thought that if I was inching towards any main street it’d be Granville Street. I’m off my nut. Finally I realize what street it is. I’ve been going in the opposite direction to what I’d imagined. Delirious with joy I turn and head homeward. A home is a nice thing to have.

April 27.  As fine a spring afternoon as anyone could wish.  We find Granville Island without too much trouble and it is its usual peaceful state these days with minimal foot traffic. Most businesses in the market have remained open except for the food court.  The shop keepers have struggled through a decrease in business but I think they’re glad to be open and we’re glad to have them.  Hand sanitizing stations are just inside the entrances.  The donut shop having undergone a recent renovation seems to be doing a roaring trade, customers lined up eight or ten or more keeping their six foot interval all the way outside under the canopy.  I don’t think business has ever been better.




Kenilworth Ivy

April 17. World 2,240,191. U.S. 699,706. Canada 32,814. Brazil has now passed Canada in total confirmed cases and Russia is closing in on Canada and will probably blow by Canada within the span of the next news cycle.

Tim Cook called me this morning from California.  That’ll be the last time that happens.  Today Tim was chuffed about me using images captured from visualizer and cropping them down and using them in my bloggy blogs to create some kind of visual thing to break up the monotonous words when it hasn’t been cleared by Apple Inc.


“I paid you for the machine, Tim. I can do anything I want with it.”

“Au contraire,” Tim said. “We own the cloud and everything in it and if you’d bothered to read the fine print under “What’s inside the box” you’d know that we still own your machine and everything on it and we don’t give a damn about receipts or money or anything. We own everything.  How do you think we got to be the richest company on the planet?”

“Tim, I understand you’ve met President Trump. What do you think?”
“Bat shit crazy, Steve. Rook to king one.”

“I’m sorry, Tim. I think you missed it. Queen to bishop three, bishop takes queen, knight takes bishop. Checkmate.”

“Ahgg… ergg…. Looks like you’re right, Steve. I resign.”

I find it generally true. The smartest individuals can have curious gaps in their knowledge of the simplest things. Tim is like this. Thinks he’s a hot-damn chess dude. Not a clue and it’s surprising. You’d think there’d be more there and there just isn’t. I told him life’s too short for chess but he wouldn’t listen. He won’t be bugging me about the visualizer anymore so that’s good. Moving on to spring garden update.


April 18. Kenilworth Ivy. Usually grown as annual. Dainty creeper that may appear uninvited in shadier parts of the garden, sometimes even sprouting in chinks of stone or brick wall…. Smooth leaves 1 inch wide or less, with three to seven toothlike lobes. Blooms mainly in spring with small lilac blue flowers carried singly on stalks a little longer than leaves.


Lewisia. To 1 foot high, 10 inches wide. Rosettes of narrow, fleshy, evergreen leaves bear 10 inch stems topped by large, extremely showy clusters of 1 inch, white or pink flowers often striped with rose or red. Blooms from spring to early summer.

They’re right about Kenilworth Ivy.  Grows like a weed.  We’ve seen it growing wild not far from here.  “Kenilworth” is a suspiciously English-sounding name which meant of course that I was going to look into it.  Kenilworth Castle.  Of course there’s a castle and of course it’s “Kenilworth Castle” and of course it would be situated in Kenilworth, England.  Stands to reason.  At least something does.  Looks like some of it burned down or something.  I’ve never been to Kenilworth, England.  I think I flew over it once, but there’s not much to see in heavy cloud at 30,000 feet.


April 22.  Yeah, the numbers for the planet.  The planet will certainly get to 3 million confirmed cases and the great United States will certainly pass 1 million.  There seems to be some dysfunction in the great United States.  Sorry about that overused word but I couldn’t think of anything else.  A madness is upon the land.

Great American madness.  Everything’s going great or things are in a situation where there’s room for improvement.  It depends on who has the mic.  I think the number of people in the great United States who don’t give a crap either way is trending to zero.  It’s all about trends.  Everybody’s looking for one and that includes around here.

I was also talking briefly on the phone yesterday afternoon to a lady who lives in Washington State.  That’s because she’s an American.  She has a friend up in woolly Canada and had arrived here for a visit as she has been doing recently, but this time it was not much more than twenty-four hours before the British Columbia/Washington State border was closed. That was a month ago.  She’s been here ever since.

“You’re an exile,” I said to her.

She laughed.

“You can’t go home again.”

She laughed again.

People from the State of Washington are wonderfully joyful people and always laugh at all my little jokes, especially ones with literary allusions in them.  And Debbie doesn’t play chess either.  It’s also nice that she’s with the person she likes so things are going along okay.

Talking to a real, live person from Washington was so uplifting I resorted to the extraordinary move of acquiring a bottle of “Kung Fu Girl” riesling from Charles Smith Wines in Washington because I’d heard it was tasty and I’d been meaning to try it.  It’s very nice with pad thai apparently.  Charles Smith Wines

Apologies to Stanley Kubrick and the Sunset Western Garden book.  Garden blooms by CS Nicol

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