Sometimes we need a little shrine for bygone times, people, places, things and memories. Things that made a real impression on us. I’d never thought to put these things together in a place like this, but something says it’s just the right thing to do.

Sweetpea… That’s the name we bestowed upon this lump of love and protection who blessed my childhood life as a sort of emotional mentor and friend I could confide in. I’ll never forget the day we drove out from our home in Campbell River to Revelstoke to pick him up at the breeders’ place. They had a whole household of these giant English mastiff dogs; all reverse brindle, all sweet happy gigantic creatures that were ever curious and very protective of their masters.

There he was, all paws, tail, ears, and skin… A vessel of cuteness sized for his adult form, but not yet filled to capacity. He was only a month or so old… and already big as I was at the time, being around nine years old. We bonded very well and spent so much time together. Even at full size (220lbs) he insisted on sharing the bed with me, but I didn’t mind. I made the mistake of teasing him as he ate a bone, sometime near his full growth. The poor pup was entirely unaware of his strength and tore a good-size hole in my hand. It’s the one permanent thing by which I have to remember him now, and I’m happy he left his mark on me physically and emotionally.

I miss you, you blundering, wagging, drooling ball of encouragement and safetey.

Sweetpea the Mastiff - ~1996-Jan 6 2002.

When you’re growing up, you need a mentor, right? It was only for a few years that I knew Jasper, whom I’d met through another mentor and friend who’s still alive. The idea was to see if I’d be interested in amateur radio as our introducer was someone with whom I spent a lot of time discussing my childhood fascination with electronics, computers, and other technical things. Jasper and I hit it off grandly, despite his being in his seventies and me being in my tens. I was just that sort of precocious child who gets along well with older people, but that was okay. I found myself practically invited into a secondary family, over at their household for all sorts of occasions with his wife and adult children who also came to visit (I was about the age of his grandchildren). We spent countless hours enjoying ham radio, tinkering with junk, making interesting things.. It was such an incredibly important time.

Jasper passed a lot of nice things along to me in those days. I still have most of them; an original Lorens model 15KSR teletype, a GEC PAX25 telephone switchboard, an original vacuum tube caddy, countless tubes, tools, radio devices… and wonderful memories of field day and sailing trips.

I miss you, my elderly friend with the thick Dutch accent.

Jasper the Mentor, Silent Key VE7NL, VE7BMR - 1932-2005

Quotes: “Slick as snot on cardboard!”

The kitty that taught me forgiveness; dear Sula whom my mother named after the story by Toni Morrison. She came into my life when a family member brought her to us as a kitten from a litter they’d been finding homes for. My mother was unimpressed with having a pet to care for dropped in her lap sight-unseen, but I’m very thankful it happened (I think my mother was as well in the end).

Trouble-child brat that I was, I had been cruel and teased and tormented Sula at times early on, and it was a signal that something was wrong in my heart that too many years to ultimately get in touch with. Somehow Sula saw past that, and while she definitely was more my mother’s cat, she enjoyed plenty of time with me and stuck around for a good many years. She and Sweetpea got along well, often playing games on each other, but always taking time to cuddle and enjoy one another’s company.

She was really my mother’s cat, and after I moved out on my own, I only saw her from time to time, but it she of course always remembered me and we were happy to sea one another.

As I grew up, I tried to show Sula enough care and love to make up for being mean to her as a child. I think it was the first example in my life of genuine forgiveness, from a creature who could express it with clarity and without words. I’ll be forever grateful.

Sula the Brat - ~1997-2014

There’s something ethereal about the perfect moment to see what the sky is showing you. I learned this at a young age, just finding myself captivated by watching the stars and celestial bodies, satellites, and so on moving about in the night sky. Something about that window to the universe is getting through and saying “I’m the observed and you’re both the observer and part of me. I exist because you exist, and vice versa”.

This particular image was taken only a month after Sweetpea (meantioned above) died. It was a difficult time for me, losing such a special friend, and I spent a lot of mornings looking out that window toward the sea and taking in what the sky was showing me. I’d often head out on the patio just to get a better look and it always helped me feel good.