An Old Keep Sake

IMG_2170In 1995 I was living in a cold water flat in London, England and every morning I commuted to work at the Sir John Falstaff pub in the heart of the “Square Mile” using the London Underground (The Tube), getting on and off at Monument Station.  One morning (or maybe evening – I don’t remember) I purchased this edition of Mojo magazine.

What initially captured my attention was it’s feature article The 100 Greatest Albums Ever Made.

At the time I wasn’t really into “classic rock”, but more the popular UK bands of the time; Blur, Oasis, Verve, Spiritualized, et al.

The magazine cost £2.35 which, at the time, was pretty dear seeing that I was living more or less at the subsistence level at the time, making barely enough to pay for rent, my weekly Tube pass, a lunchtime samosa, cigarettes and a few pints after work.  I figured however that this would be a good investment for my morning and evening commutes as opposed to simply sitting there and passing time like a schmuck.

What I couldn’t have known then is that this magazine would change the way I look at and appreciate music, or that I would still have and refer to it over the course of the next two (going on three) decades.

In fact, I now consider it as my musical Bible.

I have since gone on to listen to and collect nearly all the albums contained within this article, many of which have become Desert Island favorites of mine.   In essence, it taught me to listen to and appreciate music for it’s relevance and ability to inspire and innovate, as opposed to simply being merely current and popular.  At the time of this writing, I own approximately 90% of the albums contained within, and have heard all but maybe one or two.

My Bible is now worn, dog-eared and the binding is held together by multiple scotch tape patch jobs, but it occupies a place of honor on a shelf along with all the albums in my record collection.  Even my step-daughter has used it to scope out potential albums to collect for her own record collection.

And for the record, it still smells like the Underground.

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Something with Text On It

0630150- Something With Text On ItIt’s been almost a year since I (we) have updated out Pocket Scavenger series, but seeing as how it’s so crappy outside today we’re using it as an activity to pass the afternoon while we’re housebound.

HRH  then has chosen to use my library book, ‘Dead Wake‘ (in extremely LARGE print, I might add) by Erik Larson as her example but I’m choosing to go with something a bit less obvious.  I’m choosing any one of these beer (or ‘bar’, depending on what side of the Great Pond you’re on) mats that I have been collecting for the past 20-25 years or so.

I started collecting beer mats when I was working and living in London, U.K..  I liked my beer (obviously) and this was the easiest thing to collect given that they were absolutely everywhere; not to mention free.  Kind of like stamps only cooler…and maybe a little soggier at times.  Now, they’re just something I pick up to commemorate either a beer I’ve enjoyed somewhere, or maybe a pub I’ve visited, etc.  They’re like free souvenirs in that regard.

Some of these beer mats are older ones that I’ve acquired at actual beer festivals and some are quite unique in that they themselves commemorate a special moment, be it the new launch of a specific promotion or product.  Some of these beer mats I expect are even rather valuable.  Others, well, not so much.  For the most part they are a running commentary on all the beers I’ve drank over the years and the places I’ve visited and, believe me, there are a LOT of them.

As far as the “text” part goes there is lots of different varieties depicting slogans, brands and, geez, just about anything actually.  Just about every type of font is represented as well long before Microsoft decided to ever assign names to them.  You could consider them then as the historical precursor to the drop down menu you now find in any Word document.  But unlike Word, these have specific smells involved: soggy cardboard and beer.

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Something From A Tree

082714 - Something From a TreeToday we visited the local ‘Shagbark National Park’ here in town. I’ve run past the entrance to this public trail system now for the past three years. Little did I know that every time I jogged down Burleigh Rd. (which is a lot  actually) I was also passing by this example of a magnificent Carolinian Forest.  Had I know to veer right, I could have added some interesting trails to my leisurely runs.  When I learned this tidbit from a local article I happened to read yesterday I almost fell off my chair.  But, anyway, since this trail system is literally a stone’s throw (or, an ‘acorns’ throw if you prefer) from our home I decided to pack up the girls this afternoon and head on over to go exploring.

The information board at the beginning of the trail told us that approximately 380 million years ago this entire area was park of the Onondaga Escarpment that ran along the bottom of a small, shallow sea. 2 million years ago that sea became engulfed by the glaciers moving to the southwest scraping along with it the rich fertile soil from up north. 13,000 years ago that glacial ice melted forming what was then known as ‘Warren Lake’ around 12,000 years ago.  Who Warren is  exactly is still open for debate.  However, it sounds pretty awesome, right?  Who wouldn’t dig on that?

Our scavenger hunt item then was ‘Something From a Tree’. Okay, that should be easy enough given we’re walking through a Carolinian Forest, right? What nine-year-old girl wouldn’t be into this?  I’m Super Dad, right?  Wrong.

Epic fail.

So while I could have collected and shown here evidence of woodpeckers, a piece of bark, a bluebird feather, a twig that resembled the bust of Alfred Hitchcock (it’s true), or any number of other really cool tree related stuff, all I have for my efforts now are these three lousy acorns….which I found in the parking lot…by the car.  Big deal.

Why you ask?

Because where I was fascinated by being outside and learning more about our local area’s natural evolution, nine-year-old girls are apparently more fixated on: ‘Is that a snake?’, ‘Eww, a bug!’, ‘Why are there so many mosquitos?’, ‘Is that a tick on the back of my leg?’, ‘I’m thirsty’, ‘It’s hot’, ‘Why are there so many prickers?’, ‘Seriously, is that a tick?’, ‘Did I mention it’s hot?’, ‘Do vampires live in here?‘, and ‘I have to pee again’.  Oh, and let’s not forget the ever popular ‘what do you mean you’ll leave me here if I don’t shut up?’

It never ends.  Anyway, here are three acorns.  Dig it.

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3 Leaves

072514 - 3 LeavesThe child is being very disagreeable today about cleaning her room so she and mommy are beginning to bang heads, like, a lot.  Time for Super Dad and ‘Pocket Scavenger’  to come to the rescue.  I negotiated with her via email that if she could clean her room successfully, well, enough so that it passes an initial inspection with mom anyway, that she could go on an adventure to the park to do a ‘Pocket Scavenger’  of her choosing, and I would do the same here at work while on my lunch break.  She chose “3 Leaves”.

I thought this might be a better one to do in, say, October, but a deal is a deal and if her room gets clean who’s going to argue?  Certainly not mommy.

Anyway, there aren’t many trees here in the soulless industrial complex where my office is located but there is a field adjacent to the parking lot so I wondered over there on my break to see what I could find that would pass itself as a leaf.   Aside from what looked rather suspiciously like poison ivy, pickings were definitely slim; lots of weeds but few trees.  I did manage however to find these three beauties.  Now, I’m no Arborist but one is green and definitely from a young maple tree, while another is purplish; God knows what it is.  The third is actually a small twig with several little greenish yellow leaves attached to it.  It beats the shit out of me what it is either.

More interestingly, though, in the same field I also found a cracked and discarded bong, a single shoe, about a dozen crumpled Miller High Life cans, a stinky sleeping bag, a few empty chip bags and an old rusted shopping cart.  I think somebody might actually live there now that I think about it.  Oh, and I’m pretty sure I also contracted poison ivy…and maybe Hepatitis C.

Thanks again ‘Pocket Scavenger’!

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Something You Can Only Find in Your Environment

062014Hmm.  That’s a bit broad, right?  Or is it?  Geez.  I dunno.  Anyway, I figured we’d take this particular scavenger hunt then as an opportunity to explore a bit.  HRH  has been laid up here at home all week with the chicken pox, so I figured she could use a little outing anyway, preferably away from the general public.  So after work, we took off to the nearby ‘Stevensville Conservation Area‘  in, yeah, Stevensville (big surprise) for a little wander around.

There they have a few trails spread over a 49.9 hectare plot that wind around a fishing pond and wetland area, along the Black Creek (which, I have to say, is more of a disgusting rust color than it is black) and through an actual Carolinian forest.  I’m sure I could have picked up any number of local flora along the way and, in fact, the kid was going crazy gathering up pine cones and just about every wild flower (and weed) that we came across to press for her own journal.  Me?  I was stumped as plants all look all the same to me so I was looking for something, well, a bit different.  I just didn’t know what.

Then we happened across this little guy.  He was so perfectly camouflaged that had he not jumped to avoid being stomped on I never would have saw him.  I believe it’s a wood frog, but I could be wrong seeing as I’m no expert on local amphibians.  But, hey, it is definitely something from my ‘environment’ so it totally counts for today’s post.  So after doing a bit of a Google on local frogs, I learned that the wood frog (Lithobates sylvaticus) has the most northern distribution of any amphibian in the world.  Isn’t that exciting?  And here’s another random factoid:  it sounds like a duck quacking.  Weird.  Anyhow, they are quite common here in the townships north of the Niagara Escarpment and are almost predator free.  Well, I guess I learned something today.  Thank you Pocket Scavenger!

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A Piece of Red String

052314 - A Piece of Red StringOkay, it’s not really string but more of a large fuzzy elastic and it’s more of a magenta color, regardless, this is what I’m choosing to go with.  Work with me.  More interesting is that it being used to bind together my current journal.

I’ve been a ‘journaler’ for many years now and each year I try to scope out a cool, original looking journal with neat cover and basic, plain, average run-of-the-mill lined paper.  Fuck that fancy ‘Christian Lacroix‘  or ‘Moleskine‘  shit, who needs to spend $30-$40 dollars on a journal?  Ridiculous!  This one cost me absolutely nothing but is worth oh, so much more.  It was lovingly made by an artsy-fartsy friend as birthday present a few years ago (I only got around to using it last year) who wrapped a cheap ass notebook in a camouflage-pattered felt cover and affixed the cool dude patch on it, because – you know – I’m a cool dude, and BAM!…instant journal awesomeness.

Inside it are collections of quotes, captions, deep thoughts, not-so-deep thoughts, menus, concert stubs, comic strips, wrist bands, receipts, photos, newspaper articles, invitations, poems, song lyrics, theater tickets, flower pressings, wedding invitations, festival programs, jokes, riddles, business cards and whatever else can be written, glued, taped or otherwise affixed to a notebook page.  It’s true, I don’t throw much out.  It’s a problem, I know.

Anyway, it’s held together with a magenta colored fuzzy elastic band.  It’s the best I got.  Sue me.

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Something Historical

043014 - Something HistoricalI have oodles and oodles of old neat shit I could choose here.  ‘Old neat shit’ is my bag you see, particularly seeing that I am also becoming something of the family historian and archivist.  Kelly would probably just tell you I was a borderline hoarder but what’s really important here is that I have lots of old neat shit lying around to choose from, any of which would make for a really decent scavenger hunt story.

Instead, I’ve chose something rather new to the household which, while still satisfying the ‘old neat shit’ premise of the hunt, was acquired from my father and lord knows where he got it from.  It’s an old handwritten journal entitled ‘Bugle Notes from Canada: The Voyage Out, Life in Civilized Canada, Life in the Wilderness’ written in 1883.

The journal has been painstakingly scrolled out on lined paper with a long, flowing script and scattered throughout the journal are hand drawn sketches and illustrations for even more of an overall cool factor.  The journal is credited only to a mysterious ‘F.M.M.’ who may, or may not be related to me and, here’s the thing, there is nary a stain, mark, blot, smear, or error of any kind.  It’s flawless.  So whoever this guy was, it’s pertinently clear that he was pretty obsessive-compulsive about his note keeping and that definitely weighs heavily in favor that we are long lost relatives.

The journal has been protected and forgotten about in an old lock box that my father has stored away in the back of a file cabinet for God knows how long.  Also in the lock box there was other ‘old neat shit’ like a burned ring with two sapphires and a pair of dismantled dueling pistols…because that’s not weird!   Why do I get the feeling that there are more than a few more skeletons in my family closet which have yet to reveal themselves?  But this journal is pretty cool too.

I think I just found my new spring project in finishing this journal and trying to determine just who the heck this F.M.M. guy is and where did he come from?  Where did he go?  Why?  Did he even like it here?

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