the Life of
Note: The following are from rough
speech notes. To see what I actually said, see the video above.
When I was a kid, I used to think my Dad could do anything. I was born in 1957, the year they designed and built their first log cottage. I don't remember that but I must have seen it. In 1960, when I was three, we moved into our new passive solar home and I must have seen them working to build that as well. In 1971, when I was thirteen, I helped them build their second log cottage.
My Dad taught me a lot. He had tools for carpentry, plumbing, electrical work, masonry, gardening, roofing, canning. He used axes, adzes, levers, pulleys, hand pumps, chainsaws, gas motors. He had a lot of antique tools which I still use. In the war, he had worked with a top secret technology called RADAR and then after the war used tools that I can't even pronounce, radiospectrometers? and in his work he even used LASERs and computers that filled whole rooms.
It was normal for a poor farm boy like my Dad to learn a huge array of tools. He had the personality and the mentality required to use them all. He remained calm, relaxed, tranquil, unemotional and quiet. He did not get flustered like I often do. "Only a poor carpenter blames his tools" he used to say.
He was creative, innovative and inventive in his use of technology. He could MacGyver anything.
He got things to work. Once they worked, his job was done! Did it look good? That didn't matter. We had a rust hole in our car. He cut a piece of metal from our old washing machine and riveted it on the car to patch the hole. It worked fine.
But my Mom was an artist and she wanted things to look good as well. There were conflicts in our house between making things work and making them look good. I learned from both sides and am a mix of the two.
My Dad was shy, awkward, and slow to speak. Yes, he could do anything, but could he always explain it to me? No! I could watch and learn and with a few words he could explain what he was doing, except with math!
Math was torture for me. Imagine a kid in grade one asking how to do simple addition and his Dad starts talking about "infinity plus one." Okay, you can explain infinity to a kid, but infinity plus one? It made no sense to me. I quit math in high school as soon as I could.
My parents were very different. They were a great team. There was a balance of forces between them, the practical versus the aesthetic. I was so lucky to have them.
I haven't said anything about the peace movement. As you know, this was central to the lives of my Dad and Mom. For decades they worked very hard organising peace events. This was not a hobby, it was hard work.
I was privileged to have worked with them in the peace movement for about 20 years. As an adult we were colleagues and peers. We worked closely together within the Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade. We were even arrested together for sitting down to block entrance to a weapons trade show and also to raise awareness about the flight testing of NATO warplanes over Nitassinan, which is the still-unceded territory of the Innu people, who live in what is usually called Labrador and Quebec.
I continue to carry on the work for peace that they did and that we did together. It is a deep and integral part of who I am.
I have a hammer! Now I want to ask a
favour of you. Please write a word on this hammer to help remember my
Dad. I will always treasure this hammer just as I will always
treasure him. Thanks.