Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Do Over

If you could go back in time and re-do a day, would you? How would you do that day differently?

I honestly have no regrets. Sure, there are things that I wish I had done differently, but not done at all?


I look at my path, look at the detours. I look at what I wanted to do when I was younger, look how those dreams went by the wayside. I took a different path from what I thought I wanted, and I ended up here.

Would I do over?


I have no regrets.


Leave a comment.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Music Monday: Changes

I get bored, as all folks do from time to time. The same old becomes so old, and change is the only option.
The Brown Knowser has become a formula over the years. I know what I'm doing from week to week, and perhaps my readers have grown to know what to expect. That's not a bad thing, I suppose, and I can see a pattern in where my readers focus, what they like, and what they don't.
My writing gets good viewership, and that's good. I'm a writer, after all, and though I don't always get as creative as I'd like, I keep my mind moving, my fingers moving over the keyboard. My head gets full, and this blog is the canvas upon which I like to let my brains spill.
Sometimes, I know, it ain't pretty.
My photos get good attention, and I like that. More and more, my eyes are seeing things from a photographer's perspective, and there have been many times where I've been tempted to walk away from my day job to be a full-time photographer. But I'm not good enough, in my opinion. When I retire—if I ever retire—I'll have time to pursue that interest.
I love music, am often surrounded by it: listening to it or singing a capella, as I clean house or shower. I love to share some of the sounds that fill my portable device, but each week that I post Music Monday, I feel like I'm cheating. It's not my music. It's not mine to share.
And so I'm thinking of changes.
I'm thinking that this may be my last Music Monday. Even though this regularly scheduled post is popular, I think I want to break away from posting music videos that other people put online.
There's a lot to this post: I have to come up with a song. Lately, I've chosen random tunes from my Android device. Once a song is selected, I have to search to see if I can find a video for the song, and often I either can't find the artists video or I cannot share it because of restrictions. And in most cases, I end up taking the video from some random person's YouTube channel.
So, I steal a song from someone who has stolen the song.
Once I have the song and the video, I then have to think of what I want to write to tie in the song. I research the band, find their Web site (if they have one), and blah blah blah, put together a blog post.
I love music, but I don't think I love preparing it for my blog.
I'm becoming bored and I need a change.
I was going to move my beer reviews back to The Brown Knowser, but my wife rightfully reminded me that Beer O'Clock is the best place to keep those posts, that beer lovers might not be interested in my other posts. I was going to make some changes: move my beer reviews to Thursdays, write on Mondays and Tuesdays, and keep Wordless Wednesday and Photo Friday as is.
But Beer O'Clock will continue where it lives today. I won't post beer reviews here.
And yet, I want changes. I want to do something new.
Until I decide, there will be no changes. Not for now. Maybe, in September, I'll give The Brown Knowser a new look and will introduce something new.
There will be no changes right away. Except, today, with David Bowie's classic hit, "Changes."

Next Monday, being the first Monday of the new month, there will be Where In Ottawa, in place of Music Monday.
Happy Monday!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Photo Friday: Lonely Vigil

There wasn't a soul around.

It wasn't at any memorial, was where the Rideau River tumbles into the Ottawa. Under a lone tree, at the entrance to the Rideau Falls Generating Station.

It's a small tree, separated from the others in the park. A lone tree, and a lone candle, burning silently.

I have no idea what it was doing there, no idea of why the candle was placed there and left to burn.

But it made for a great shot.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

A Role For Which I Did Not Audition

I should have just stuck to the list. I only had to pick up a scotch-bonnet pepper and milk. We weren't completely out of milk, but our 12-year-old daughter tends to drink it like it's going out of style, so we like to be well-stocked.

I should never shop when I'm hungry. I always get cravings for things I should not eat. I have a major weakness for potato chips. Sour cream and onion, in particular. Ruffles, specifically.

I didn't need them, shouldn't be eating something that's so high in unwanted calories, so high in fat. I haven't ridden my bike since the Rideau Lakes Cycle Tour, having learned that cycling with a fractured wrist, no matter how minor, is not a good idea. When I rode to Kingston, I had a bag of Ruffles Sour Cream and Onion chips packed in my suitcase, waiting for me. Having burned a few thousand calories, I had no qualms about scarfing that bag by myself.

Yesterday, I didn't need chips. I really didn't need to walk down the chip aisle at Loblaws, but I was hungry.

I needed to be strong, show willpower. I'll only buy a bag if it's on sale, I told myself. Sure, I had told myself the same thing on many occasions, only to cave in to my hunger and cravings, and buy the bag, no matter the cost.

I turned down the chip aisle, not recognizing its new configuration. Months ago, the store had undergone a major renovation: new colour scheme, department sections relocated, lighting made dimmer, aisles rearranged. My family and I stopped shopping here during the renovation disruptions and got used to shopping at Sobey's and Farm Boy, and even though the upgrades were completed months ago, we rarely returned. I didn't care for the new look and felt like I was shopping in an up-scale store, fearful that the cost of the new look would be reflected in the prices of goods.

I had to go there because neither Farm Boy nor Sobey's carried scotch-bonnet peppers, and I needed one. And so, here I was, my shopping bag in hand, weighted down with four litres of one-percent milk and a tiny, bright-red pepper, and a craving for junk food.

There was only one other shopper in the aisle: a nice-looking blond, in her early to mid thirties, pushing a full cart with her young son of about two. She, too, was looking for snacks.

The chips were now on my right, where I expected them to be on the left-hand side of the aisle, and almost at the far end. I started scanning up and down the shelves as I worked my way to the end, checking prices, looking for sale tags. I didn't recognize some bags, as President's Choice had once again changed their packaging. Had they also changed their flavours, I wondered, remembering that the last time I tried one of their flavours of chips, I didn't like it.

Down the aisle, closer to the woman and her child.

Potato chips are insanely expensive. I remember when I was a kid, living in the town houses off Bowhill Avenue, behind the K-Mart Plaza. At the Dominion grocery store, I could buy a small bag of chips for a dime. I have memories of buying chips at the same counter where my dad bought his cigarettes. For some reason, that memory always has me buying the limited-release of Hostess grape-flavoured chips. What ever happened to them?

Today, it's $1.49 for that size of bag, but the larger bags are around the $4 mark. A good deal is two bags for $5. I was looking for that price as I scanned the shelves, paying no heed to the woman and the murmuring of her toddler.

"Oh, no, don't say that. That's not nice," I heard, the woman obviously talking to her son but looking at me.

I turned my head to face her when I noticed that she was facing me as she spoke. Our eyes met, but because I wasn't paying attention to her or her son, I only smiled, gave a slight nod, and then continued on my search. Those Ruffles were somewhere, and I was going to find them, hopefully, on sale.

More murmuring. "No, don't say that," the woman said to her son, "he's allowed..." and then I tuned her out. I found the Ruffles and was searching for the sour cream and onion bags.

"Say... ...to the man. Say... ."

I was now standing less than two metres from the woman and her son. I looked at the boy and smiled, and then continued my search, but I now felt like I was being pulled into a conversation to which I was oblivious. I don't know how the conversation started, I don't know what the boy said, to which the woman was objecting, and I didn't know what she was trying to get her son to repeat.

It was as though I was in a play, had missed my cue, and had forgotten my lines.

The woman was looking at me, a look on her face somewhere between embarrassment and encouragement, looking for me to engage, to say my part.

I had no idea what to say, had no context, didn't know my lines. I smiled again, looked past her, to where the sour cream and onion chips were displayed.

Not on sale.

You don't need them, I told myself. You need to get back on your bike. You have what you came in for. Go home.

Exit, stage left.

As I got to the end of the aisle, before I turned the corner and made my way to the checkout, armed only with a bag of milk and a scotch-bonnet pepper, I finally heard the woman, talking to her son, loud and clear: "It's okay, honey, you weren't the only one being rude." 

I wanted to stop, to turn around, to ask her if she thought I was being rude. I wanted to correct her, to tell her that I was minding my own business, that I hadn't heard the interaction with her son. I didn't know I was being drawn into a conversation, that I was expected to get them to back up and start their lines again.

Clearly, I had missed my mark as well as my cue.

But I kept moving, pretending that I didn't hear her accusation. I wanted to get away from the drama.

Without my chips, it was already enough tragedy.