Ian Johnston – Farewell

June 27, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
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The exact date I met Ian, and the particulars, are lost in the fog of time like so many memories, but it must have been 25 years ago or so. I have an image of being approached while I am playing tennis with my wife but that may be a false memory. I might just be projecting myself into a scenario that I witnessed many times in the years that followed. Ian would spot someone he didn’t know on another court and introduce himself. It doesn’t really matter how it happened, the point is that we got together on the Walnut Grove tennis courts and a tennis friendship was born.

Ian and I had similar skill levels at that time unlike some of his original partners. His friend Richard, Barry the schoolteacher, and Peter the Brit often made us look foolish. But over time the group grew. Ian was indiscriminate and assembled an interesting cast of characters. There was Young Ian, the hearing-impaired teenager who drove us crazy chasing down every damn ball. Mark, the first galoot, along with Little Ron, who only earned that name because he was, and is, slimmer than me. Harold, who was better on one good leg than many of us are on two. Ted, who Ian loved to tease about being cheap, and Roy and Bryan with his snowshoe-sized racket. Old Raymond, who was just “Raymond” until New Raymond came along. Many more joined in over the years. Some stayed while others came and went. Some were better than us, some weren’t. Some could make a line-call, some struggle with that part of the game. But Ian didn’t care about skill level, language or accent, gender, or nationality. If you could hit a little green ball with a tennis racket, you were “in”. Ian was “inclusive” before it became a cliché.

For years we played in fog, cold, wind, and scorching sun. When the rains came during a match, we kept going until the risk of slipping was too high and “coffee time” was declared. Ian was the “President” of our group before it became a proper organization and was absolutely instrumental in bringing together enough tennis enthusiasts to support an indoor facility in Langley.

There are many things I will remember about Ian, like his desire to win the warm-up, the victory cackle and celebratory strut after hitting a winner, and his supply of corny jokes, the love for his family, but most of all – the joy he found in the game and the friends he made along the way.

Ian, I was one of your early tennis mates and your last doubles partner. I enjoyed the first game, the final set, and every point in between. Thanks for finding me, however it happened. I will think of you every time I play.








Final days.

February 14, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
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We didn’t plan any outdoor activities on Saturday. With our vacation winding down, an Outlet mall was high on Sigrun’s list of things left to do and I had my heart set on visiting Joe’s Real Barbecue in downtown Gilbert. We managed to do both of these things, plus a bit of a walk, before seeing a special New Year’s Eve presentation of a play called Is He Dead?, advertised as a comedy based on a story by Mark Twain, at the Hale Theater in Gilbert.

The shopping was so-so (Sigrun did buy a pair of shoes); the barbecue was very good; the play wasn’t that special (it was more slap-stick farce than the type comedy that I associate with Mark Tawin’s dry wit). The second act salvaged the performance and all-in-all, it was a very nice evening. We returned to the condo and treated ourselves to some treats and drinks to bring in the New Year.

The next day, the rain returned in ernest and we were happy to have planned a visit to the Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) in north Scottsdale. In a nutshell, we loved it but 3 or 4 hours is not enough time to do it justice. They give you a headset and receiver that is activated every time you stand in front of a display. You see a video and hear dialogue and music. The galleries are large and full of instruments from all over the world.

Rastafarian harp in the lobby.

Steinway’s 1836 “kitchen” piano. Made before moving to the U.S. and changing his name.

Beautiful guitar.

A percussion zither.

After leaving the MIM we finished our trip to Arizona with a steak dinner at Wally and Laura’s place in Mesa. Early the next morning (January 2) we caught a cab to the airport and were greeted in Bellingham with Arctic outflow wind and snow. Welcome home.


Hieroglyphic Trail

January 26, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
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It was a convoluted drive to the trail-head. Thank goodness for road signs after leaving Hwy 60. We started up the trail marked Hieroglyphic Trail (Petroglyphs). I remarked that it didn’t make sense that it was called “Hieroglyphic” since they were native petroglyphs. Read more


December 4, 2013 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Miscellaneous 


So, I put on a new shirt and nice kicks and we go to the park. It’s a sunny fall day. I’m feeling good. I wish I could walk ’cause it would be a great day to strut my stuff. A photographer shows up and starts taking pictures. Mom and Dad stand me up by this big tree. I smile for her. I know I look good.

 “Hey lady, make some extra copies. The chicks will love this.”

One hand. It’s macho and sensitive at the same time.

Oh, oh. Shouldn’t have done that. Can’t control my legs.

Oh, poop. Hey, stop laughing and help.

Cut! Cut! Get that camera out of my face, lady. This is bad for my look. 

Bagging the remains

February 4, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Miscellaneous 

I walk in my neighbourhood. It’s a pleasant and healthy pastime except for the stress caused by irresponsible dog-owners. They go to the trouble of bagging their pooch’s poop but throw the plastic-entombed crap alongside the trails. Why? Why not just leave it? At least it would decompose. So this bad verse is for you, bad dog-walkers.


The day you hear the final bell,

I pray you won’t wake up in hell,

As a yappy Pekinese,

plagued by starving fleas,

A pink bow adorning your crest,

and wearing a very prissy vest.

But with legs and pillows to hump,

you’re not unhappy with the dump.

Until one day on a grass strip you crap,

unleashed and free in a devilish trap.

Between a freeway and a forest where prowl,

red-eyed coyotes. Stomachs a-growl.

Later, when Satan bags your undead remains,

knotted in white plastic with crimson stains,

Pray he doesn’t toss it in a tree,

where you’ll dangle for eternity.


With apologies to law-abiding dog owners and real poets.


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