EMAIL mj.morris@live.ca


Saturday, January 16, 2016

Discovering the meaning behind the 'good stick'

Perhaps  the man I met on the bush road at Chapleau some 30 years ago who told me "Maybe some day you will find a good stick too", meant much more than I thought he did.

As I walked along the road, coming towards me was a man who I had often seen go by my house, but I did not know him. As he approached, he said, "Where is your good stick?", stopping to explain that he always carried a "good stick" with him. He moved it from hand to hand, he told me and it served to strengthen his arms and upper body.

 Perhaps  the man I met on the bush road at Chapleau some 30 years ago who told me "Maybe some day you will find a good stick too", meant much more than I thought he did.

 As he passed on by he added,  "Maybe you will also see the wolf. It's auburn. Don't be afraid. He won't hurt you." I never saw the man again, or the wolf.... (or so I thought)

I had written a story about finding the good stick some years ago, and even spoke about it at the 90th anniversary reunion of Chapleau High School in 2012. I hadn't thought about it much recently, until I received huge box from my lifelong friend Harry 'Butch' Pellow. Upon opening it. Butch had sent me a walking stick. UPDATE: Harry Pellow died on December 13, 2016
Butch and MJM circa 1947

But, it was the enclosed letter that made me fully realize the metaphor of the "good stick". Harry wrote that it was sent with best wishes "as you carry it". 

He added: "As our frailties become more evident, we need to be mindful of every step going forward -- be reminded of your friend many years ago who explained the "good stick theory."  I get the message my friend.
Butch and Brigitte Pellow 2015
By the way, the bush road was actually a logging road built originally by Edgar Pellow, Butch's uncle circa 1930.

Let me go back to my story about the good stick, and I hope I don't mangle metaphors too badly in so doing. "Shortly thereafter I came across a stick and picked it up. It wasn't as sturdy or straight as the one the man was carrying, but crooked as it was I had found my good stick. My good stick became my travelling companion helping me cross a beaver dam and walk along the edge of a pond. When I became tired I leaned on it and took a rest, and when I stumbled it helped me keep my balance, and aided me as I climbed a hill.

"My good stick was very powerful indeed, and long after I lost it I thought that if that old piece of wood from a dead tree could have been so much help to me as I wandered along, giving me confidence to surmount minor obstacles, maybe the man I met on the road meant much more with his comments than maybe I would find a good stick and even see the wolf that would not harm me some day."

For a guy like me who loves metaphor, it took me about 30 years to grasp the implied comparison between a piece of wood that was very helpful and powerful in helping me as I walked along life's road and my friends who have also been there with me and for me -- most particularly Harry 'Butch' Pellow. I have been most blessed.

Thanks Butch for being the "good stick" so often over the past 70 years or so.

I was so excited with my discovery that I was going to use it as a framework for a review of 2015 which was a truly amazing one for me, as my friends, aka "good sticks" made possible. 
Back David, Jim, MJ, Ed, Brian, Joel, Antoine Seated, Dennis, Mark. Ron

However, the Friday Morning Coffee Club, aka FMCC, was meeting and of course, I had to bring my good stick to our weekly session. It is just on three years now since FMCC was launched quite unintentionally.. 

I started having coffee at Starbucks in the newly opened, now closed Target store, was joined by Joel Vinge, then Jim Roberts, and the rest is history.If everyone shows, we now have 20 members. There is no agenda. We meet for fellowship, many laughs for an hour with all the "good sticks" who have become good friends.

We celebrate birthdays and other special occasions, and have played golf and had breakfasts at Rocky View Ranch.

Without mixing metaphors any further, let me leave you with a quote from Stephen Grellet as I head out carrying my good stick:  “I shall pass through this world but once. Any good therefore that I can do or any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.”

PS  I am not even going to try and deal with the wolf metaphor now!!!

Friday, January 15, 2016

Music plays important role in recalling fond memories of growing up in Chapleau for Lorne Riley Jr

Names below
When I saw a blog post recently by Lorne Riley Jr on Kamzooie, in which he chose some of his favourite tunes from the 1970s, and linked them to memories from his younger days, I immediately contacted him to ask if I could share it . Lorne agreed.

Although Lorne and I may not have quite the same taste in music (although I do recognize most of the songs he selected),, we do share a common view that it plays an important role in bringing up fond memories. In fact, not too long ago I was musing that music, particularly with YouTube, enables us to reimagine human connectivity, and the future of now, always on, always connected. That was the theme of Social Media week in 2014.

Like Lorne, for each song I hear from my earlier years today, I am connected to my past, present and future. In the interests of full disclosure. I spent the final few years of my teaching career at College of the Rockies founding a ;graduate program and teaching courses in New Media Communications,
Names Below

Lorne as most readers will know is the son of Jackie and the late Lorne Riley. A graduate of Chapleau High School, he has an Honours Degree in Journalism from Carleton University. His band Mileage 51 made international news recently with the release of its new album 'Stone Unturned." Lorne is director of communications at Dubai International Airport. --MJM

By Lorne Riley Jr

Music plays an important role in bringing up fond memories of the past. It’s a way to milestone our lives…at least I have always believed that to be the case. Just for fun I thought it would be interesting to do a short list of favourite 70s tunes and link them to memories from my younger days.

Fool for the City – Foghat
My fond memory of this involves the recently departed Anthony Dillon...who was a childhood and long time friend before cancer sadly claimed him last year. Anthony and I used to listen to music together as kids...Doobie Brothers, JJ Geils and he introduced me to Foghat. He taught me how to box/fight. We used to sneak his Remington 306 up to Mud Lake to hone our shooting skills. We shot pool, went fishing with my Dad. He had my back all the time. For this and much more, thanks Anthony! I hope you are resting in peace.
Names below

Carry On my Wayward Son – Kansas
Fond memories with this tune...it was the theme music for Reach For The Top which pitted high school students around Ontario/Canada against each other in a battle of wits/knowledge. I was on the Chapleau High School team for almost three years...the second and third years we did reasonably well, the first year we were in Grade 11 and got absolutely slammed. Greg Howard was our top player. On one trip he was horsing around with Paul Hawkins and fell into a mud puddle and had to go to the TV studio in the wet and dirty suit. It was hilarious. He was screaming profanities at Paul while our teacher (think it was Mr. Kuehl but could have been Mr. Kujtan) looked on. Mike Walsh was on that team as well. It was a lot of fun, and first time we all managed to get on TV

“Rat Bat Blue” - Deep Purple
Rat Bat Blue was my favourite track off of the second album I ever bought "Who Do We Think We Are". (Eagles "On the Border" was the first and I will pull a track from that in a future posting). My memory from this was playing it on our RCA Victrola down in our rec room, usually by myself and usually and very high volume. I guess I was starting to realize how much I loved music. I also remember pulling from my Dad's selection which was somewhat more serene with Dean Martin, Lena Horne and Connie Frances. It was a good record player and lasted a long time. Listened to a lot of great music on it.

“Fly like an Eagle” – Steve Miller Band
Anyone who spent time in the Chapleau pool hall knows this tune! It was the hangout for those who were too young to go to the Hublit or Sportsman hotels…it was also a very popular place for truant high school students and church goers…but you didn’t hear that from me! Spent a lot of time here with Michel Ribout, who was (and likely still is) a very good shot and a good fuze ball player. I remember one time my Dad (who was a very good shot), Anthony Dillon and I were playing a game. Anthony used to shoot as hard as is humanly possible and accuracy often suffered as a result. After these cannon shots my Dad would exclaim, “Jesus Anthony are you trying to make a new hole!”

"We’re an American Band" – Grand Funk Railroad
I recall listening to this first at Guy Ribout’s place. Guy had the most amazing record collection with obscure LPs like Captain Beyond among others. For some reason I also recall that this was one of Dennis Sawyer’s favourite tunes. It really hooked my on the cowbell as a great percussion instrument. There are some amazing cowbell songs… Honky Tonk Woman by the Stones and Hair of the Dog by Nazereth. Not to ramble too much but with the latter does anyone remember that you could listen to music in the CHS library…and that Mrs. Joyal was the very kind caretaker of that facility? That's where I listened to the Nazereth album for the first time.

This was the top song for some time with the gang I used to hang out with in the late 70s…Tim Morin, John Bernier, Larry Martel, Paul Martel, Mario Lappierre, Randy Carroll, Pat Payette (although Pat and I were huge April Wine fans and used to listen to a lot of their tunes) among others.
Toto was a prolific band and I have the fortune to have a ticket to see a reincarnation of the group in Dubai next month (thanks to a gift from my daughter Bianca)!

The first album I ever purchased was “On the Border” by the Eagles. To be honest I took a shot in the dark at Stedmans…I used to work as a dishwasher at the Redwood and had some money to burn after my first pay cheque. This was an impulse buy based on the cover art. And if there is one thing I miss about the vinyl era (although it is making a muted comeback) is the importance of album art. I chose the title track because it kind of slipped under the radar but is an extremely clever and well produced song. Check it out

Thanks Lorne... My email is mj.morris@live.ca

Listening to tunes (??) from left Larry Martel, Lorne, Mario Lapierre and Alain Bouillon
Riley family photo from left Lorne, Jackie, Erin, Patty, Loreen, Lorne Jr
At Carry, Lorne, not sure, Larry Martel, Alain Bouillon, Anthony Dillon

Michael J Morris

Michael J Morris
MJ with Buckwheat (1989-2009) Photo by Leo Ouimet


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Following the American Dream from Chapleau. CLICK ON IMAGE