Category Archives: moving

A life well lived

IMG_0460IMG_0459We are living in strange and unusual times. Life is not what it was and will probably never be the same again. COVID-19 has turned things upside down and we have had to adjust the way we do things. It has been a hectic week. We’ve been busy getting packed up for our journey to our new home in Saskatchewan, while making arrangements for our children, who will not be journeying with us, although our son is coming to Saskatchewan later in the summer.

Added to this was the sad news earlier this week that my Uncle Billy passed away. Today (Saturday) he was laid to rest in Orkney. I would have liked to have been there, but even if I lived there now, COVID restrictions would have meant that I couldn’t have anyway. Under normal circumstances, the church would have been packed out, as he touched so many lives and had been involved in so many aspects of community life.

Uncle Billy was a large part of my life and it is hard to put into words what he meant to me. Although we moved away from Orkney in 1994, he always stayed close in my thoughts. It was always special catching up with him on the occasional visits back ‘home’. He will be deeply missed by those who loved and knew him, but he leaves behind the legacy of a life well lived.

As well as being my uncle, Billy was my first boss at the Post Office, my bandmaster at the Salvation Army, a fellow Rangers fan, and many other things. He retired during my time at the Post Office, but that didn’t slow him down. He continued to be involved in many different things in the community. There are too many to mention, but some of them included a continuation of his life-long involvement with the Salvation Army, volunteering at the local MS hyperbaric chamber, sailing his model yacht, and continuing to play the Last Post at the local Armistice Day parade. He performed the latter for over 60 years. His dedication to local life was recognised when he was awarded the MBE, receiving this award from the Queen. He was also recognised by a motion put forward in the Scottish Parliament, in September 2009, by local MSP Liam McArthur, which read:

That the Parliament notes the decision by Billy Stanger MBE to step down as bandmaster of the Salvation Army in Orkney after 35 years in the role; acknowledges the unstinting service that he has given to the Salvation Army since he joined as an 11-year-old boy in 1943; welcomes the fact that Mr Stanger has made clear his intention to carry on playing in the army band; looks forward to Mr Stanger’s cornet playing inspiring crowds attending Armistice Day parades and other occasions for years to come, and expresses relief that the evening of music at the Salvation Army Hall in Kirkwall on Sunday 13 September 2009 far from represents the last post by Billy Stanger.

Retirement gave him more time to be involved in the lives of his family, who were the first love of his life. He and his wife, Isa, had five children, many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. I could try and count them up, but I wouldn’t want to miss any out and get the number wrong. The top picture in this post is from their Ruby Wedding in the 1990s, before we left, and that was their family then. In the ensuing years it has grown a fair bit, many of them born since I left Orkney. Billy didn’t play favourites with his family and was able to share his love with them in equal amounts.

I have lots of special memories of Billy. One is from the second photo above, which was taken in Toronto in 1998. He and Isa, along with other family members, plus one friend who is an honorary aunt in the family, came over when Pamela and I were Commissioned and Ordained as Salvation Army Officers. We were touched by the fact that they all came over to share this special time with us. Another memory is from Glasgow in 1982, when Billy led the SA Kirkwall band playing Divine Communion at the morning meeting of the Scottish Congress. It was a proud moment for us all and it remains one of my favourite pieces to this day. Yet another memory is from Glasgow in April 1984, when Billy took my sister and I to Ibrox to see Rangers beat Celtic 1-0. Bobby Williamson scored the winner with a spectacular overhead kick and Jimmy Nicholl got sent off in what was his last game for the club. There are also lots of happy memories from working with him at the Post Office. He was a great boss to work with and was probably too lenient on many of us, especially considering how young and foolish we were at times.

Music was a big part of Billy’s life. As well as being involved in the musical sections at the SA, he was involved in a variety of community musical groups, including the local operatic society. In the early 1980s I played briefly with him in a brass quintet put together by John Jones, which was lots of fun. Recently, while packing up our stuff here I came across a CD my dad sent me from 2008, when Billy was the guest on a show on Radio Orkney, sharing some of his favourite music and the stories behind why he picked the particular ones he did. It is a great listen and just showed how eclectic his taste in music was. My only complaint is that the show was too short! I’m sure there was much more that he could have shared.

Above everything else, Billy was a great Christian example to us all. This was exemplified more in his actions than anything else. The way he lived his life backed up what he believed. Anyone who knew or met him could have no doubt that he had a deep faith. He loved sharing his witness through music, be it playing his cornet or singing in the songsters, male voice choir, or with anyone who would join him in song. He was as comfortable playing his cornet for royalty as he was playing on the streets of Kirkwall. It must have been difficult for him when he had to give up his playing later in life, but he passed on that love of banding to many of his family members, so that legacy still lives on.

Uncle Billy will be missed by many, but I can say without a doubt that his life was one that was well lived. We have sorrow over the fact that he is no longer on this earth with us, but we also rejoice in the fact that he is no longer in pain, as he has gone on to his heavenly reward.

Bookish (and not so bookish) thoughts (Sept 27)

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‘Bookish (and not so bookish) thoughts’ is hosted by Christine at Bookishly Boisterous. It’s just a round-up of bookish and other things from the previous week. Share a link there if you want to participate.

1. September seems to have come and gone so quickly. In some ways it seems to have been a fairly busy months, but I’m not that sure if I’ve accomplished that much or not. We’ll be on holiday for a couple of weeks from the end of next week. I’m looking forward not only to the time off, but also the fact that we’ll get to spend the time with family visiting from Scotland.

2. I was under the impression that I was getting back on track with my reading, but I’ve only managed four books this month so far. According to 50 Book Pledge I’m on track for 65, which is a decent number, although I pledged to read 75. I’ve enjoyed doing my book challenges for the year, but of the four I’ve tried I’ll maybe only get two completed. I’ll see how it goes, because there are still three months to go.

3. Although we moved here over two years ago, we only finished unpacking last weekend. We finally managed to sort through the final ten boxes or so that had remained untouched since we got here. I was reunited with a lot of books and CDs, among other things. I also found the ornaments pictured at the top of this post that I had almost forgotten about. They are a reminder that I delivered mail in my previous life before moving to Canada. It’s hard to believe that it is 23 years this month that I moved to Canada and 34 years this December that I started my job with the Royal Mail.

4. We finally got around to watching Silence on Sunday. It was as good as I thought it would be. Now I need to get the book read, as it has been on my TBR pile for far too long. I have also started watching Ozark on Netflix. It’s pretty dark, but I’m really enjoying it so far. I’m hoping to be able to go and see It soon, but I’ll probably have to see it on my own, as my wife is definitely not interested in seeing it. It’s a long time since I read the book, but I don’t have time right now to reread it. I was a little surprised to find out that the latest movie is only part one.

5. I haven’t thought that much about my Christmas book wish list yet. There are a lot of good books due to come out in the next few weeks, but rather than latest releases, I’m toying with the idea of coming up with a list of books available from Book Outlet for my family to choose from. That idea may change, but it’s one I’m seriously thinking about just now.

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Catching Up

It has been an unusual year so far and it still has over a month to go. We started off the year living in half a house, as we were still undergoing renovations. Finally, in mid-April we were able to do most of our unpacking, almost ten months after we got here. We still haven’t got any of our pictures up yet, but I’m working on it. Besides all of this, we also had a lot of visitors (family and friends) visit this year, which was great. We never had many visitors during our 14 years in Elliot Lake, but now that we are in St Marys we are more accessible. It’s always great catching up with family and friends, so we’re just thankful that the house was in more of a state of readiness by the time they all visited.

When we moved here last year I had hoped to blog more regularly, but with all that was happening and things we had to unexpectedly deal with, I just got out of the habit and just didn’t feel like it at the time. However, that has changed and I now feel in more of a better place to post more stuff here again. A lot of it will probably be book or movie related as I enjoy taking part in some of the memes that go around a number of the blogs that I follow. Plus reading and watching movies are two of my favourite things to do in my spare time, so it’s kind of natural for me to want to blog about them.

My reading did kind of suffer there for a while as well. There were times when I couldn’t focus or just had trouble remembering what I had just read. Thankfully I am getting back to enjoying reading again, but I won’t reach my target of 75 books for this year, although I will still probably be close to 50. Fifty is a fitting number for this year as well, because I turned 50 in April, which hardly seems possible, but is true nonetheless.

At 50 I think I’m in better shape than I was at 40, but I’m finding it harder to keep off the weight these days. Once all the rush of Christmas is past, Pamela and I are considering signing up for Forks Over Knives. If you are wondering what that’s about click on the link or watch their movie, which is available on Netflix.

Getting back to my reading, my habits have started to change again, although one thing that hasn’t changed is that I buy more books than I read. I’m seriously thinking of giving up my participation in The Classics Club as I haven’t been able to keep up with it. I also have found that I’ve not been enjoying some of the books as much as I expected to. I’ll make a decision on it soon. One unusual thing that has happened is that I have discovered that I enjoy the odd romantic novel. During the summer I received a free romance in a giveaway, read it, and discovered it was a good escape for me. I’ve read a few more since then and they haven’t been all that bad. It’s only a certain kind that I enjoy, mainly contemporary, inspired, suspense, and sci-fi. The other categories don’t really appeal that much to me at all. I’ve found that I can get a lot of what I like for free or cheap on the Kindle or Kobo apps, so that has given me enough to read. Also, on the reading front, I joined the Renovaré Book Club this year again after taking last year off. The four books chosen for this year look like great reads and I’m enjoying being a part of it again so far.

For my 50th birthday my family gave me a turntable, so I now have something to play my vinyl on again. I now have to work out how to get my collection of vinyl that is still in Orkney over here. Now I spend some of my spare time checking out thrift stores for records. I’ve found some good deals there so far. Also, there’s a great vinyl store in Stratford, which is only 20 minutes away.

One other thing that happened this year is that we have TV again. For the past few years we’ve been relying on Netflix, DVDs, and the internet for our occasional viewing, but a few months ago we discovered that we could get a good deal with Rogers for their basic TV and signed up for it. We had been with Bell for our internet and home phone, but their prices were getting ridiculous. Being fed up with this, we shopped around and discovered that Rogers offered phone, internet, and TV for less than the two services we had with Bell. So, we changed to Rogers and haven’t looked back. We also gained unlimited bandwidth with Rogers internet, so we don’t have to worry about going over our limit like we had to do with Bell. We’re still not watching much TV, but we are enjoying the on-demand feature, which is something new to us.

Well I think that’s enough catching up for now. Hopefully I’ll keep up more with the blogging now and make keeping this site up worthwhile.

Booking Through Thursday – 2015 Favourites (Dec 31)

btt2This week Booking Through Thursday poses the following questions:

What were your favorite books of 2015? How many books did you read this year? Are you happy with the amount of reading you got done? Wish you’d had more time? (I know I always do!)

My favourite reads (in no particular order) this year were:

As I write this my reading total for the year is 69 books, with one that I might get finished later to bring the total to 70. All things considered, I’m relatively happy with the amount of books I read this year, although my target was 75. I often wish I had more time to read, but I also recognise that I could sometimes make more time. Moving into an ill-prepared house didn’t help, as most of the books I had earmarked for reading in the fall are still packed in boxes. Also, with all the house renovations going on around us there were times when I just didn’t feel like reading. On the positive side is the fact that all the renovations should be done by the end of January and I’ll be able to get all the book boxes unpacked.

Book Beginnings and Friday 56 – The Turn of the Screw (Oct 2)

The last three months have been a little frustrating in a number of aspects, for a number of reasons, not least in my ability to read some of the books that have been on my TBR list for longer than I hoped they would be. Most of these books are sitting packed in a shipping container in our driveway, so I have been forced to do more e-reading and have also been making more trips to the library than normal. Neither of these things are bad in themselves, but it’s frustrating not to have access to my books in the way that I was accustomed to before we moved. Hopefully, I should have them unpacked by Christmas, if everything goes to plan.

turn of the screwWith these frustrations out of my system, I can get to this week’s meme combo. I’ve returned to a book that I started on my Kindle app before we left Elliot Lake in June – The Turn of the Screw by Henry James. I’m hoping to get it finished this weekend, then that will be one more book read from my Classics Club list. GoodReads has the following description:

“The Turn of the Screw” is an intense psychological tale of terror. It begins in an old house on Christmas Eve. It is the story of a Governess who comes to live with and take care of two young children. The Governess loves her new position in charge of the young children, however she is soon disturbed when she begins to see ghosts.

So now for this week’s excerpts:

BB.ButtonBook Beginnings is hosted by Gilion at Rose City Reader, who invites anyone to join in, saying: ‘Please join me every Friday to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires.  Please remember to include the title of the book and the author. Leave a link to your post.  If you don’t have a blog, but want to participate, please leave a comment with your Book Beginning.’

The beginning of The Turn of the Screw:

The story had held us, round the fire, sufficiently breathless, but except the obvious remark that it was gruesome, as, on Christmas Eve in an old house, a strange tale should essentially be, I remember no comment uttered till somebody happened to say that it was the only case he had met in which such a visitation had fallen on a child.

This is quite a long opening sentence and seems to set up the story well. Hopefully I won’t have forgotten much when I get back to it!

The Friday 56 is a book meme hosted by Freda’s Voice and the rules are as follows:

*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56.Friday 56
*Find any sentence, (or few, just don’t spoil it) that grabs you.
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post below in Linky. Add the post url, not your blog url.

It’s that simple.

From page 56 of The Turn of the Screw:

I just missed, on the staircase, on the other hand, a different adventure. Looking down it from the top I once recognized the presence of a woman seated on one of the lower steps with her back presented to me, her body half-bowed and her head, in an attitude of woe, in her hands. I had been there but an instant, however, when she vanished without looking round at me.

I have to admit I’ve struggled a bit with getting this book read. Maybe it’s because of the era it is from, but I’ll get it read soon, as I’m intrigued to find out what it is that is really going on.

New month, new blog

With today being the start of a new month I decided to start blogging again, after a hiatus of almost three months. It has been a busy summer as we have settled in a new community. After spending the past 14 years in Elliot Lake we moved to St Marys, ON, at the end of June. We are slowly getting settled in, although we haven’t done much unpacking yet, as we are waiting for some work to be carried out on the house. Hopefully it will all be completed before winter sets in.

St Marys is a beautiful little town on the banks of the Thames River. It is a different kind of beauty than Elliot Lake, which was more isolated and nestled in the bush. We will always have good memories of Elliot Lake, as our son was born there and we watched both our children grow into teenagers. It was the right time to move on, though, and we look forward to a set of new and different challenges/opportunities in St Marys.

I really haven’t fully worked out what I’m going to do with this blog yet. I’ll probably still do some of the same features/memes as on my previous blog, Two weeks from everywhere. I’d like to try some different things as well, plus I’d like to get back on track with my book reviews.

Thanks for reading this and I hope you’ll stick around for journey.

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