Happy Birthday Dad.

A year ago you were still in Norwalk Hospital, recovering from a nasty bout of staph that came close to killing you. Thankfully you finally got out of the hospital on my birthday and, eventually, made a full recovery. Only to pick up yet another nasty viral infection in October.

Did you run over some leprechauns in 2006? You did something to cheese off the universe - 2007 was just a nightmare for you. It wasn't a bag o'laughs for the rest of us either. I was never so glad to see a year end as I was to see 2007 disappear. Auld lang syne.

You've made it to the ripe old age of 69. You made the commment, when we were having dinner together a week or so ago, that you had outlived your Father, who died in 1967... I think. He would have been 53, if I'm doing the math correctly. Heart disease, the scourge of our family, took your Father's life too soon and nearly killed you when I was 12. It finally claimed your Mothers life two years ago, at the amazing age of 91.

At dinner, we talked about your trip to California in February, to the alternative wellness clinic. You learned alot about things you already knew, you said. And you were pleased as could be that you could keep drinking your Scotch because the doctors had said you had the healthiest liver they had ever seen.

I still don't believe that story.

But I've got a bottle of Lagavulin for you all the same.

Happy Birthday Dad.

There are a few treetops just outside the window I wake to each morning. Last night it snowed again, so this morning the tops of the tangled branches are covered in a clean white snow. When the sun came up, the snow captured some of the sky's colors, cycling through yellows and oranges. I thought I would record what happened in words so I will remeber it.

Everyone in Toronto hates the snow. People complain about it a lot. It has snowed often this winter and people see the snow as a hassel, something to be shoveled or clumsily navigated. After Taiwan, all this white seems wonderful. I walk around in awe at the amount of white. The same way that Yangmingshan is dark green, Toronto is white. The sky is white, the trees and roofs are white, the parked cars are white, the grass and streets are white, the wind blows air mixed with flecks of white into your face, and if the sun burns through the clouds, it is hot white and its rays reflect off all the city's white surfaces and blind pedestrians and drivers into a squint. It's all very spectacular.

I feel very lucky to be in Toronto right now. Especially since I know I will not be staying long enough to suffer a whole season of it. I do think about waiting for spring and summer though. It would be a shame to miss the start of the camping. To not do a little canoeing and swimming in those big clean lakes up north. To not lie on a rock at night and look up at the great mess of flickering white stars popping out of the blackness, excited when something moves.

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