Quinoa Chocolate Cake

Here is a recipe from our friend Ruth that will challenge your taste buds as well as your incredulity because you will not believe that this delicious cake with the yummy chocolate icing is not made with wheat flour. In other words it’s a gluten free, super tasty chocolate cake.

2/3 c. (150 ml) white or golden quinoa

1 ⅓ c. (340 ml) water

⅓ c. (90 ml) milk

4 large eggs

1 tsp. (5 ml) pure vanilla extract

3/4 c. (170 g) butter, melted and cooled

1 ½ c. (375 ml) white or cane sugar

1 c. (250 ml) unsweetened cocoa powder

1 ½ tsp. (7.5 ml) baking powder

½ tsp. (2.5 ml) baking soda

½tsp. (2.5 ml) salt


Bring the quinoa and water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Cover, reduce to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave the covered saucepan on the burner for another 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork and allow the quinoa to cool.

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Lightly grease two 8-inch (20-cm) round or square cake pans. Line the bottoms with parchment paper.

Combine the milk, eggs and vanilla in a blender or food processor.

Add 2 cups (500 ml) of cooked quinoa and the butter and blend until smooth.

Whisk together the sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Add the contents of the blender and mix well.

Divide the batter evenly between the 2 pans and bake on the center oven rack for 40 to 45 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

Remove the cake from the oven and cool in the pan before serving. Frost if desired. Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or freeze up to 1 month. Serves 8 to 16

Chocolate Avocado Icing:

2 large ripe avocados, room temperature

1 c. agave

3/4 c. coconut oil

1 ½ cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tsp. vanilla extract

⅓ – ½ c. warm water (I used coffee)

Blend avocados, agave, and coconut oil together in the food processor until smooth. Slowly pour in warm water.

Add cocoa power and vanilla and blend slowly. Process until smooth.

Now that’s a cake that you can eat for breakfast, lunch and desert.

Beggars Brew


I arrived at ‘Grandma’s Pub’ and realized that I forgot my wallet somewhere, hopefully at home. I sat down and since Camp wasn’t there yet I took a chance on him and ordered a pint anyway. I was sure he’d show up eventually and take care of me. Halfway through my deliciously cold drink I looked up and there he was, shaking his head. He sat down heavy like he was carrying a sack full of worries.

“You wouldn’t believe what happened today,” he said and then paused, followed by another shake of his head, which was in dire need of some maintenance. Hair like Einstein, grey wiry bits sticking out in all direction. He combed a hand full of fingers through it making it even worse.

“Well, let’s hear it, what happen today that put you in such a dishevelled state. Hopefully nothing that a nice cold beer wouldn’t be able to relieve.”

“Well she did it now, the turncoat. Out of nowhere she suddenly turned 180 degrees.”

I thought he was talking about Maureen, his ex, and mumbled something noncommittal into my beer, fearing a soliloquy about matrimony and it’s inevitable downfall but instead Camp slapped his hand flat on the table and make the beers jump. “She promised me that she’d vote for the marina expansion and a new breakwater but something or someone must have got to her and she turned on me and voted to abstain. Now, it’s a tie vote and you can guess how Marshall will vote in order to break the tie.” Hank Marshall is the town’s major, real estate developer and Head Shriner.

“But isn’t he for development, for expansion of all kinds?” I asked, not understanding the intricacies of local politics.

Camp looked at me with pity. “He’s for development alright, but only if it’s private investment, not public spending, that might force him to ask for higher taxes.”

I was relieved that this was not about Maureen, but Council woman Muriel Bisset, who moved to the Sunshine Coast a few years ago from Montreal and is a big promoter of everything French.

“Beggars can’t be choosers,” I quoted a silly proverb. “You need to talk to Muriel, maybe ask her advice about carrying some French books in your store.”

“You know, that’s not a bad idea. Maybe take her out for some French fries and Camembert. I know she likes to eat.”

“Maybe some French wine with a little Edith Piaf in the background.”

“We both grinned at the picture that this evoked.

“Talking about beggars,” Camp said, “we seem to have a whole new batch of panhandlers and freeloaders in front of the mall. I understand that there are not a lot of jobs here on the Coast. It makes me hark back to the days when we had multiple government make-work programs that put young people to work building walking trails, cutting brush, cleaning up the beaches etc., I think they were called LIP grants, (Low Income Pools). They took a lot of youngsters off the streets.”

“Well today we’re looking at the people who have fallen through our altruistic safety net into a cesspool of misery where they are foraging their way through homelessness, drugs, mental health and any number of social and economic issues. No easy fixes I’m afraid.”

We both ordered another round and contemplated the universe, looking wistfully out at the open water and the boats bobbing up and down at the dock.

“This altruistic safety net used to have a much tighter weave,” Camp said, lifting his glass, ready for a nip.

“Did I ever tell you about John Vater the 3rd ?”

Camp looked at me with a raised bushy eyebrow pausing his glass halfway between the table and his thirst.” John who? the 3rd?”

“That was his name, Vater like father in German and the 3rd because he was named after his dad who was named after his granddad.”

“Crazy custom that, naming the kids after their dads. You never know who is being called or talked too.”

“Anyway, John travelled along with us in India – we’re back in the 70’ies now – and we often walked together through the maze of alleys and streets of New Delhi, between Connaught Place and Madame Colasso’s rooming house. We always passed a whole range of beggars, some with missing or twisted limbs, skinny, half naked kids with large eyes and many women no bigger then a child, their teeth missing or rotten from a life of chewing betel leaves. One such woman, who seemed younger than some others, was always squatted at the same corner of the alley leading out to the insane traffic mayhem surrounding the large square, which was more like a crowded park.”

“Beats me why large traffic circles are called squares,” Camp said, anyway carry on.”

I took a beat and a swallow, gathering my thread again. “I can still see her, sitting motionless on her haunches, holding a clay cup between her hands like in supplication, an old faded sari draped over her head, never looking up at us, as if not wanting to intrude. We were mere kids then, except John who had already done a tour in Vietnam and had seen a large part of the world. I would always drop a few coins into the woman’s clay cup and I carried a pouch full of coins just for beggars but John chose to ignore these human wrecks and never gave them anything. Then one day, just before we were leaving on a train to Lucknow en route to Kathmandu, John Vater III stopped in front of the tiny beggar woman who squatted in the same spot with her clay bowl and he got down on his haunches so he could be level with her. He gestured for her to look at him, which she did reluctantly. Did I mention, that John was one of those American giants, over six feet tall, which made the diminutive woman even smaller ? John then handed the woman two large rupee bills. I don’t remember what they were. He then put his hands together forming a customary small tent and bowed in front of her. She just stared at the large giant benefactor as if he was Lord Vishnu himself. I observed all this from a few paces away, mystified by this sudden act of generosity. When I asked John about it later he said: “Instead of giving a hundred people some worthless coins I decided to make a difference in one person’s life. She looks like she is smart enough to figure something out and I want to give her a chance.”

“That’s a different approach, I’d say,” Camp acknowledged.

“There is a follow up to this story,” I continued. “We parted ways with John Vater III in Kathmandu and when I came back through New Delhi a few weeks later I had forgotten all about this incident until I walked by the corner at the end of the alley by Mdm. Colassos and there sat the former beggar woman on a small stool, dressed in a clean yellow sari with a wooden box in front of her piled high with a bundle of News Papers which she was selling to the passers by. I never forgot the profound awe I felt.”

“Wow, she had her own little business now. That’s a great story, should be in economics 101,” Camp said. “I take it there is a moral to this tale ?”

“I suppose it is that to make a difference in one persons life beats giving meaningless pennies to many. I never like giving my coins to the panhandlers and beggars I pass on the street but I haven’t found my beggar women yet,” I said, casting my mind back all those decades for that gem of a memory.

“I don’t mind supporting them if they at least make an effort, play an instrument, juggle balls or sit motionless dressed like Napoleon or the Virgin Mary.”

“I can’t stand it when they lounge on the sidewalk with their dogs or cats. I feel sorry for the dogs. I even passed one the other day with a ferret on his shoulder.”

“And yet they’re our fellow brothers and sisters,” Camp said.

“Some crazy family, us humans.”

“Yeah, it’s hard to be a human. Every day takes an effort, if you’re rich or poor, old or young.”

“I’ll drink to that.”

“Oh, that reminds me Camp, I forgot my wallet, could you…?”

“Glad to help out a fellow homo sapiens.”


Shots in Paradise


This story took place in the seventies, long before smart phones with cameras or mandatory child seats in cars.

Travelling with a kid had its drawbacks, but it also had a lot of

advantages. The native people loved children; it was their only God given wealth, and they always helped us gladly and reverently stroked Red’s hair in open adulation, which drove him nuts. The country was poor in materials, wealthy in population. Most of the people struggled to get some food into their bellies. The rich landscape contrasted starkly with the naked poverty of the populace. But then the land didn’t belong to the people that worked it with their bare hands and primitive tools.

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We just spent some time on a small tropical island in the Caribbean, which is home to about 10’000 people, the size of a good size village. Pristine beaches on leeward side, rough reefs and panoramic views on the windward side. One main street, several rum shops, a couple of grocery stores, a hard ware store, the jetty where all the activity is concentrated twice a day: when the ferry docks and again a couple of hours later when it departs. The town features one football field with a track surrounding it. It gets used for sports, civic celebrations, carnival and any other official activity that requires a large space. That about sums it up.

On the first day I noticed this young man

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Brave New World

           I shook off my soaking wet jacket and sat down across from Camp, Campbell Roberts, recently elected Alderman and owner of ‘Coast Books’, right on the harbour here in lovely Gibsons on the Sunshine Coast. Camp refers to his bookstore as a non-profit business without any of the perks. Just non-profit.

            “They have this new Craft Beer for sale, maybe I’ll deviate from my usual pint of Guinness and try one of these Black Bear brews,” Camp suggested.

         “Ok, I’m in, let’s try this new beer, there seems to be another craft beer brewery around every corner. It’s either brew beer or grow pot. There is a certain amount of security in both those commodities,” I said.

         “No shortage of customers, that’s the key,” Camp pointed out the obvious. “Not like in the book business. Today I’ve had six people use the washroom, one old gal wanted to photocopy a recipe out of a cook book and two people tried to return their books which were obviously dog eared and used. How’s your day? You were in the city, dentist or doctor weren’t you?”

         “Yeah, dentist, haircut and Costco,” I replied and related the incident that had been bothering me all day. Actually it wasn’t even an incident, more just a chance encounter but it bothered me nonetheless. I was getting on the elevator in the high rise on Davie and Burrard where my dentist is located and there were about half a dozen people already waiting to go up when this older women, dressed in Salvation Army fashion, maybe between fifty and seventy, hard to say, squeezed past the closing door into the elevator. “How is everybody?” she cheerfully announced to all and sundry, “what floor is everybody getting off?” she asked standing purposefully with her index finger extended in front of the floor panel.  Everybody ignored her, staring at the ceiling or at a blank space on the chrome wall.

         “Nine,” I said and she promptly entered it. “That’s my floor as well,” she said brightly. “That’s a nice jacket you’re wearing, must have cost of pretty penny.”

         “What this,” I said, looking at my bright green rain jacket. “Oh, it was on sale in Lunenburg.”

         “Where is that?”

         “Nova Scotia. Last year”

         ‘Oh, that’s nice”

         The elevator stopped at almost every floor letting one person out, sometimes taking more passengers on, but during the whole ride up to the 9th floor not one person said a word or acknowledged our funny old lady who was eager to punch in the floor number for them. They all acted as if she didn’t exist or at was at best an embarrassment or an inconvenience. I felt ashamed, not for her but for the rest of us. All she was looking for was a human response. A word, a smile, an acknowledgement that she too was human. Camp, I tell you, it bothered me, this non-responsive attitude of all these people. They acted as if she didn’t exist.”

         “What do you expect,” Camp said, sniffing suspiciously at his Craft Beer. “Everybody is so wrapped up in themselves they don’t have time to acknowledge anybody else, especially if they seem somewhat off the mark and don’t dress like they do.”

         “Oh yeah, I guess I’ve been away too long. I tell you one thing, this wouldn’t happen in Mexico. I’ve seen plenty of vulnerable and challenged people all day long but they somehow belonged, there was dignity even in the most depraved of souls. People didn’t ignore them even if they told them to go away and not bother them but they weren’t aloof or disconnected. Rich and poor, lame or blind, they co-exist, they’re all human, some more fortunate than others but I never saw this kind of detached response. And there was a second incident this very morning that falls into the same category.”

         “Wow, you had an exciting day. Get out much?”

         “Ok, this was different. This old skinny girl with a wild head of curly grey hair holding on to her rolator sat across from me on the bus, giggling and grinning at everybody, obviously somehow compromised but she did know how to get on and off the bus so she wasn’t a complete basket case. The bus stopped, she got up and waddled to the front and that’s when I noticed that her gray, stained sweatpants were hanging halfway down her butt. Not unlike the meathead rapper dudes we used to see with their pants about to fall off so they could expose their boxers. In this case all she had on under those sweat pants were her diapers. And nobody said a word. By the time I was gong to say something she was already off the bus and people were grinning and chuckling behind their hands. Nobody had the guts to point out to the old girl that she should pull up her pants, which I’m sure she would have done. It was just so undignified and again, no normal human response from anybody. This was Davies Street for chrissake Camp. I felt like a stranger in a strange land, I tell you.“

         “Welcome to the brave New World,” Camp said. “It’s the big city, it eats everybody up and nobody has got time for their fellow human beings. That’s why they call it the rat race. Rats racing for the piece of cheese, just as long it’s not my cheese.”

            “Yes,  I’m aware of that but still it bothered me. Everybody is so wrapped up in themselves and their busy lives.”

         Neither one of us said anything for a beat, both looking out at the choppy water and the gray clouds hanging over Keats Island.

          “How do you like that beer by the way?”’

          “A bit to hoppy for my taste,” Camp said.
“Well the price is right and I don’t mind the hops. By the way did you know that Guinness uses a fish bladder by-product called isinglass to clear up their murky brew?

           “Too bad for all those Irish vegans.”



Stay at home Guy

Campbell or Camp to all who know him, is one of five councillors at city hall. He is also the owner of ‘Coast Books’, “one of the few surviving independent books stores in the world”, as Camp puts it, right here on the Gibsons harbour front.

“How was your holiday,” Camp asked me yesterday as soon as I sat down at our usual table on the glassed in and heated patio, overlooking the calm waters of the harbour with Keats Island about a nautical mile off shore. No view of the mountains on this grey day.

“We loved the summery weather and the beach.”

“Well, you didn’t miss anything. Here it just rained. Then it poured and the rest of the time it was just gray, wet and cold. Like if you can’t see the mountains, it’s raining and if you can see them, it’s going to rain soon.”

“I checked the weather daily and I have to tell you I felt sorry for you all, not sorry like if you had an accident, more like sorry if you missed your train. And how is council business or should I ask ?”

“They’re still dithering with the marina expansion and the development around the harbour front. Anywhere else in the world they would just build it and then bitch about not enough consultation and public input; here they bitch right from the start, about too much or the wrong kind of consultation and the public input always comes from people who are personally impacted, like loosing views, increased traffic, taxes, noise etc. It’s never about the good of the town, the local economy and the common disinterest, although that is undoubtedly what everybody proclaims it to be.”

“I’m glad you had a good time too,” I said, taking a swallow of my beer.

“Here it is Camp,” I said, “Clare, my alter ego and partner in all things, and I examined our busy, stressed out lives and concluded that it would be beneficial for our health and welfare if one of us would just quit the rat race, and take care of the home front. In other words: Shopping, cleaning, yard work, laundry, paperwork and cooking.”

“I can see where this is leading, which is a call for another pint I believe,” Camp said, holding  up two fingers for the waitress to see.

“We decided that I should be the Stay-at-Home-Guy. Since Clare has the passionate career  and my job in the film industry is more like being a carney: setting up rides (sets) and then tearing them down. They call us Mexicans in sweaters. Pushers, movers, pullers, lifters and runners. Paid, hired and fired by the hour. It’s much easier for me to quit. We should be alright,  that is if we buy our wine for under twenty bucks and eat at home.

         “Makes sense to me,” Camp said, “all you have to do is not answer the phone when it looks like work, it’s not like you have to quit a career and officially hand in your retirement request.”

“That’s exactly what Clare said.”

Up to now my idea of staying at home had meant sleeping in, goofing off, watching late night flicks and day time soccer games, the occasional lunch at the pub which would sometimes extend into a game of pool and beyond. I also had to get over the stigma of the out-of-work syndrome. No, I was not unemployed; I was now retired. As a film technician I’m used to have weeks or months between jobs but this was different. It meant that I would turn down jobs and do I need to spell it out: no income ! In exchange I would get to be the boss or is it the slave of my own time.

“We all know that a happy wife is a happy life,” Camp stated, staring morosely into his empty glass. He’s been recently divorced and doesn’t like to talk about relationships. “So what do you say if somebody asks you what you do with all your free time?”

“I’ve already thought about this,” I said, I have my standard answers for inquiries into my work status. First of all I’m always busy. ‘The days are just packed’, will be my standard answer and ‘work is overrated.’ To the serious questioner I’ll explain our life style choice with the simple facts.”

“How dare you have fun while the rest of us grind out a living.” Campbell said. “Congratulations.”

Here is my stay-at-home-motto: Plan nothing long term, deal with immediate concerns, make sure the bathrooms are clean, don’t mix the whites with the colors in the wash, make priority lists and try not to fall off the couch during the afternoon nap.

A large part of my routine is shopping and cooking. It turns out that I enjoy both. “I get to meet all the house wives at the store and I’ve received lots of helpful tips from old pros at the game. Not just about groceries or food but also some interesting stock and investment tips.”

“Here is my tip,” Camp said, pointing an accusing finger at me. “Don’t ever – and I mean never – act on a stock tip you receive in the lineup at the grocery store!”

That was yesterday, Thirsty Thursday, which makes today Friday. Since my existential status has changed I now have to watch which day of the week it is. I love being retired.

A measure of wealth

I came across an older item from April in 2012 when Campbell, Camp to his friends and foes alike, and I first started meeting regularly on Thursday evenings for a pint or two at ‘Grandma’s Pub’, down by the harbour. According to my notes this was a dreary, drizzly day and the snow capped mountains as well as the green islands were hidden behind a grey, wet wall of clouds that draped the whole world right to the water’s edge  below the pub. I shook off my soaked fleece and pasted my hair back on my scalp before I took my usual seat, in the corner under the TV, right next to the floor-to-ceiling glass enclosure, usually a scenic and coveted spot. Camp was already seated and into his first brew and looked at me as if I was something the cat had dragged in.

“Wet out there?” he said.

“Very observant,” was my curt retort, not in the best of spirits. “Sorry Camp, I meant to say: “We’re having another day of liquid sunshine here on the Sunshine Coast, or something like this.”

“Number one rule my friend: Never loose your sense of humour, especially not in the rain.”

“You’re right, but this weather is getting to me.”

“You’re not alone.” Words of wisdom.

“I tell you what’s bothering me Camp. A few days ago, I think it was Sunday night, a news item about the plight of Nigerians flimmered across the screen and a small detail caught my attention. Did you know that up to 50 people share a toilet in that country, not because Nigeria is poor but because every little bureaucrat there lives like a lord. I tell you it bothered me all night long and when I was relaxing on my throne the next morning I contemplated my own realm. 50 people per toilet! flushed through my mind. I started to count the toilets we own. Three in our house, one in the cottage, one in the rental house, one in my mother in law’s apartment and one in our town apartment. That’s a grand total of seven toilets and four mortgages. Seven thrones for just one peasant who lives like a king.”

“Well, you said it,” Camp said, sitting back with his hands open in front of him as if he was holding a large globe. “It’s in your favour that those are shared toilets, but you’re right, something is definitely out of sync here. Nobody needs seven toilets.”

“But these days teenagers must have their own en-suite otherwise they can’t properly grow up,” I said exasperated. “I tell you what Camp, I was constipated for a couple of days until I finally found release when we decided to get rid of at least 5 of these toilets, along with the walls, floors, roofs and mortgages. It’s time to scale down, divest, purge, free up space, get rid of debts and responsibilities. It’s time to sell up Campbell, but just now the market seems on a down turn and nobody is buying.”

“Such are the woes and worries of a king,” Camp said, not extending any amount of sympathy my way. I think this turned into a multiple pint session since I, as a king, had to buy the next couple of rounds.

Small Steps

“I envy people who have special interest and can loose themselves with passion in their hobbies. Doesn’t matter if it is stamp collecting or stained glass, miniature paintings or star gazing. They all can stop the clock and spend hours, days and weeks lost in their diversions,” I said to Campbell, or Camp to all who know him. We were sitting inside to our chagrin, under the blaring TV. Our usual table in the corner on the patio, directly above the water with an unobstructed view of the dock and Keats Island about a kilometer across the calm waters of the harbour was occupied. There was obviously some kind of a party being catered to on the patio. “Realtors,” Camp grumbled, rolling his eyes with a slow headshake. Camp’s nemeses, Hank Marshall, the present major elect, seemed to head the party.

“He probably gets city hall to pay for this,” I said.

“He better not or I have him impeached,” Champ said. “Anyways what were you on about? Hobbies? Hobbies are for people who don’t know what to do with their time.”

“Exactly, some even take it as far as university courses and degrees, like reading, writing, dancing and photography, even arts and crafts. Those endeavours can result in a profession and a livelong career. Lucky are those who are not distracted by the mundane nuisance that goes on around them and instead stay focused on their chosen craft.’

“Well, some claim that the subject chose them, not the other way around. Dancers and artists of all persuasions can claim that the art came from within and was not something they stumbled across in their daily wanderings,” Camp pointed out.

“I’ve always admired people who are never bored or at a loss of what to do with all their time because they cannot wait to get back to their model trains or stamp collections, studies or research.”

“That’s because you are one of those rare human beings who are spoilt by modern life into an existence with no real purpose other than to carry on, day after day, whiling away another endless stretch of time in mundane tasks like raking leaves or polishing doorknobs,” Camp said, apparently without irony.

“That’s a bit harsh Camp, don’t you think. I do have some legitimate interest, maybe not talents but some sort of aptitude. I mean, I can’t complain about my apparent lack of focus and interest because I know how good I have it and how miserable uncounted millions fight through every day, for every meal and can only dram of the things I take for granted. Like a fridge full of food and beer, a big screen TV that blares away all day long, a late model car, kitchen toys and tools for every task imaginable, down covers on my various beds, several bathrooms for my convenience, rooms that are empty or full of surplus furniture, boxes of books and utensils and sports equipment never used. But I would certainly not trade my comfortable, meaningless existence for anyone’s life, who is less fortunate than I, who is less blessed with material wealth. I do enjoy my status as one of the top 2%, if not of the exalted 1%,” I argued, apparently to the an audience that was more interested in what was going on the patio, where our illustrious mayor was giving a lusty speech, telling from the guffaws and cat calls from his receptive audience.

“ Ok, you’re feeling guilty about your social and financial status. It is something that you can come to terms with; it’s a fate you can easily accept, you can’t help it where you’re born and grown up. Ready for another pint?”

“I know it’s the surplus of time that bothers me now, being newly retired and a newby senior. The fact that I will have more time off with less things to do. Better strike me down in full flight then let me rot in my easy chair. I didn’t want to sound like a total whiner so I made a toast: “To retirement.” Some heads turned from the patio party at this sudden outburst of merriment and I quickly took a large swallow.

“Lucky for you to have a wife who has no such qualms and problems,” Camp pointed out.

“Don’t I know it, her life is so full of responsibility and purpose that she never has enough time. I wish I could give her some of mine but that is equally as impossible as banking sleep. Those two commodities are immutable, unstoppable and not refundable. Clare’s life is so full of challenges, so rich with possibilities that there is hardly time to sleep and only so because even she cannot do without. Her work is her passion and her passion is her work and then she has her garden.”

“It’s not about talent my friend, it’s about dedication to a cause and to recognize an opportunity, something that is hard to see from a reclining position on the couch with the telly on,’ Camp said. Point well taken, thank you.

Talent is a nice trait to have but with any such advantage over ordinary mortals, it brings with it added responsibility. One is to use that talent and foster it. I happen to have a talent for procrastination, constantly putting off the things I promised myself I’d do when I have time. Like learning Spanish, or doing my soccer referee course or joining a local charity. I’ll think about it some more and thinking is best done on my back, hands behind my head, staring at the ceiling. And time slips by and opportunities pass on by and still I am tired at the end of the day.

There are a few things in life that I like more then some others. One is soccer, watching and playing it, another is reading and writing, in itself an endless task with unlimited resources and then there is cooking and it’s active counterpart, eating. Between those three disciplines I should never be bored. If there isn’t a game to watch, I could cook something or I could read one of about 10 books presently on my night table or I could always take the ball up to the pitch and kick some penalties. Then why do I feel as if I’m wasting time, that there should be fare more important things to do then what I do with my days.

“So, when people ask what you do all day long what is your standard answer?” Camp asked.

“My standard response is simple. The days are packed and I’m busy and there is never enough time in the day.”

“In other words: a blatant lie,” Camp said, looking over the brim of his new pint. “Your answer should be: Nothing much and I’m bored a lot of time. Of course nobody would know what to say to such a reply and would look at you with pity, feeling sorry for you, which is something you just couldn’t stomach. So instead you decided it’s best to avoid the naked truth and offer a white lie, staying in the superficial realm where feelings are skin deep, the truth is never far from the surface and no questions remain unanswered.”

“In a nutshell, something like that,” I conceded and then tried to defend my position. “Look Camp, you know that I don’t like to be alone. In fact I don’t have a monastic bone in me. I much rather be among people and part of a team then muddle along by myself. I enjoy the company of others, sometimes more then my own.”

“The solution seems simple enough. You could join a church but that would entail believing in God or a set of doctrines,” Camp offered.

“There isn’t one believe system or cult out there that interest me in the least, same as you.”

“As far as I am concerned there is no God,” Camp said as a matter of fact. “Sometimes I wish there was a God, some ethereal being that pulled all the strings on all the puppets, that was responsible for this world, and Lord of the one after, but my brain just will not accept such simplistic and fantastical concepts. I much rather believe in an alien civilisation that came to earth, travelling at warp speed, and crossbred with some orang-utans, thus spawning homo sapiens. I could believe in that, which makes me an atheist and part monkey I suppose.”

“Why don’t you join a political party?” was Clare’s suggestion. Easier said than done. First of all I would have to fit in, again suspending reason and common sense, and accepting a doctrine or a philosophy, which is the foundation and guiding principal of every political party. Almost like a religion. I consider myself a fair weather socialists, meaning that I champion equality of the sexes, fair distribution of wealth, universal healthcare, environmental responsible energy policies and most of all common sense. That puts me somewhere in between the

Rhinoceros and the Socialist Party.

“I would have to compromise some of my own values, swallow my arguments and keep my doubts to myself, and keep my mouth shut if I was to actively take part in a political party.”

“Excuses, excuses,” Clare sneered. “You always find a reason not to do something instead of the other way around.”

Maybe she has a point.

Which leads me to consider NGO’s and charities.

I’ve searched the internet for the most efficient NGO’s and came across some interesting and rather discouraging information. It looks like most NGO’s mirror governmental programmes and do nothing more then supplement official relief in areas like food help, medicines and support services already being provided by various governments including Canada. Medicines Sans Frontieres stands out as does Amnesty International but the later has very little impact on policy but has individual successes to it’s credit while ‘Doctors without Borders’ is fighting a multi headed monster in the shape of never ending wars and conflict, as well as unsupportive governments to the point of being deliberately bombed. Which leaves some local charities like Humanitas, an organisation dedicated to the building of homes and schools for underprivileged locals as well as in exotic places like Central America. That would be better matched to my skill set and I resolved to check it out. Soon.

Again I received a dose of Clare’s wisdom when I voiced my doubts about joining Humanitas. “Instead of finding a path toward a glorious goal, search inside and discover that’s where the secret to happiness hides.”

“Did you just make that up?” I said.

“It’s a common truth that the path to happiness starts from within. Small steps add up to a long walk. Waiting for it to come to you will take all your life and it might never come. I suggest you start with fixing the fence and cutting the lawn. I also love the way you cooked the spaghetti the other day.”

“Small steps, one at a time just like beer, one at a time,” Camp said, waxing philosophically which is not like him. He always has a definite opinion, something I count on. He’s probably wondering why it’s not him, sitting over there in the mayor’s chair, regaling the sycophants and bottom feeder, as he calls them. He lost by a couple of hundred votes against Mr. Realtor and head Shriner but he still retained his seat as one of the five counsellors. He still has a seat at the table.

“Time to go home.”

“See you next week.”