Archive for November, 2009

catholic religion in disgrace

In the wake of yet another sex scandal, this time involving disgraced Bishop Lahey of Nova Scoatia, one has to wonder how the Catholic church can still attract parishioners?  All the faithful followers should give their heads a shake.  What, pray tell, do you see worth following?  A religion headed by a gold plated monarch in Rome (OK Vatican city), billions of dollars in art treasures while its flock ekes out a meager existence in so many parts of the world, and a bone headed insistence that its priests remain celibate.  How on earth do you relate to these kinds of leaders?


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From the 23rd until the 29th, all members of our party searched diligently and put the word out that we were willing to pay handsomely for passage to Sweden.  No luck.  All the islanders who had boats, had already left, and the only boats left were too small to risk the journey across the gulf.  The autumn storms had already begun, and nobody was willing to risk the trip.  The sea could turn violent in a matter of hours, and the journey itself would last several.  The Swedish navy speedboats were no longer doing patrols, probably out of fear of the aerial bombardments.  We drove the entire length of the island looking for a way out – without any luck.

On the 29th of September, after spending the night at a farm near the Jaagurahu harbour, we spotted several small boats in the harbour.  We thought they might be German army patrol boats.  One of our party went to make some inquiries, and came back wit the news that the captain of one of the boats had agreed to give us passage to Ventspils (near Vindav), where it was then possible to get further passage to Germany.  We held a conference, and everyone in our party, save for one gentleman who had managed to secure passage on a “sumplaev” (freighter) to Sweden, was in agreement to accept the German captain’s offer.  All hope of escaping to Sweden had disappeared.  I regretfully agreed to this choice.  We cried about the missed opportunity to get to Sweden, but escape from the Russians was our priority, even if it meant traveling to Germany. 

 Later on the same day, we made our way to the harbour, where we spent the night under a bombed out roof in a barn.  In the morning of September 30 we were allowed to board the vessels.  Our number had swelled to 50 by this time, among whom one was the writer Hendrik Visnapuu.    Each boat took between 6-8 people.  We began our sea journey at noon.  The sea was quite choppy, waves breaking over the bow, and I fell seasick soon after.  I was so disoriented that my friends helped me lay down like a carpet near one of the gunwales, good for nothing but ballast!  I did not awake until the morning of October 1 as we neared the Ventspil harbour.  Thankfully over my seasickness.

 Aah, my memory.  I turn back briefly to Saaremaa, since I forgot to mention one episode which should be of interest to those reading this memoir.  I’m not very superstitious, but this story which I now recount, made me think very black and uncomfortable thoughts.  Like I have mentioned, between 22-29 of September, we traveled up and down Saaremaa, looking for any passage out.  We had plenty of provisions and we had good fortune to obtain even more.  Since we were all edgy and nervous, we spent much of this time under a fog so to speak.  Now pay attention: on the second or third day after arrival in Saaremaa, during this boat search, I happened to check out the time on my watch.  It had stopped ticking, I shook it, turned the gears but to no avail.  Was this somehow an omen?  I also had a pocket watch.  I took that out to determine the hour, and what does this mean – the pocket watch had also stopped!  I shook that one, turned the knob, and determined that the gears were broken.  What coincidence, both watches had stopped at the identical time!  I soon turned to go back to the farm, where awaited my wife.  I told her about the watches and what did she respond?  Her watch was also on strike!  It had stopped about one hour previously, about the same time as mine!  Have you heard of such a happening?  The watches showed me time for years, and now, together, my watch and my wife’s stopped showing time on the same day, at approximately the same hour.  We fretted over this, because we couldn’t think of anything more ominous!

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gays in the news

It must be a slow news day.  Here we are reading another story about somebody’s son being gay.  (Brian Burke, GM Toronto Maple Leafs) When is this topic going to fade into history?  It’s a sad reflection of our society, that the media still sees a need to publish such non-news.  By continuing to publish such banal items, the media perpetuates the schism between straights and gays.  Who cares?  Is somebody else’s sexual proclivity really news?  I sure as hell couldn’t care less what people do, as Pierre Trudeau so succintly put it years ago, in the nation’s bedrooms.  Leave it to the supermarket tabloids to report this since everybody understands those rags are exactly that.  But when the nation’s leading newspaper makes ones sexual interest a headline, one must wonder at the intelligence of the editors.

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The geese are migrating.  Canada Geese.  I watched hundreds today, three gaggles in all.  And the last gaggle (what a great word!) took a break from its exhausting adventure, landing enmasse on the lake.  Quite a brilliant sight.  Roughly 300 geese splashing down for a refreshing rest break.  And what a cacophany!  Their familiar honking resonating off the lake surface.  They only stayed about 20 minutes, barely enough time to catch their breath.  And then taking off in waves.  I could just imagine what the last ones were thinking.  “Come on man, that wasn’t enough of a break!  Let’s stay just a few minutes more.”  But even the final 5 stragglers took off together, quickly lining into formation and beating their way to catch up with the rest of the gaggle.  Nature.  We are truly blessed.

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cell phone no but coffee yes?

So what’s the deal with this new law?  We can drink  a coffee while we’re driving, but we can’t answer the cellphone.  Uh, I don’t quite get the logic there.  Or, put on a quick face, a little lipstick but no phone.  How, Mr. Bill proposing bureaucrat,  is the difference so exrteme as to warrant legal sanction?  It seems to me, that if just a little more daylight was spent letting the right brain wander, we’d be richer in both spirit and pocketbook.   Because every one of these silly policies, and there are numerous, deprives each and every one of us, the happiness we should instead be enjoying.

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PA Days

So what’s the deal with all the PA or PD days kids get from school?  I don’t remember ever having days off other than the usual holiday periods.  I think it’s reflective of the powerful teachers union and the emasculated school boards that negotiate those agreements.  My kid gets at least one day off every month, I kid you not.  Maybe I should withhold 5% of my education taxes.

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Part I

 Tallinn, September 1944.  The German occupation army is fleeing Estonian territory.  The Russian front lines are creeping ever closer.

 During almost the entire occupation period, I was still serving the Estonian government.  Only towards the end of the occupation was I conscripted into the German army.  Naturally then, fearing the arrival of the Russian forces, I was forced to flee.  In no way did I want to travel through Germany, and I therefore chose to escape to Sweden.  That was my very definite choice.  But this avenue was by no means without danger or hindrance, since the German army had placed many barriers to that escape.  Nevertheless it had to be risked.  My partner agreed wholeheartedly with that choice, and so began our journey on September 16, 1944. 

 While searching for a safe and quick passage to Sweden, I had the good fortune of finding two opportunities to leave on September 21st; both by motorboat.  One at 12:00 noon and the other at night, just in case the first launch had to be abandoned.    But fate would decide otherwise!

 Without any particular need or objective, I went through the office on the morning of the 21st at about 10:00 am.  There I found some colleagues who similarly had missed early evacuation to Germany.  One of them turned to me with some questions and offered another alternative.  He was planning to drive at about 12:00 with one of his friends to Saaremaa.  According to him, there would await a motorboat with several places available, and heading for Sweden.  The exit from Saaremaa would be the following day.  He offered me two places on that boat, which was much larger than the one I had earlier planned to take.  And there were still several places left, in addition to those that had already been reserved.  I decided to grab that opportunity and rushed home.  My wife and I hastily packed essentials in our knapsacks.

 As promised, at exactly 12:00 noon a van pulled in front of our house.  There were already ten people inside, among them my colleague with his family.  Without wasting any time, we headed off.  The bombing had already started, and explosions rained too close for comfort, in the city harbour and docks.  We made a quick stop at Klooga, where another person boarded and at 11:00 pm we arrived safely in Virtsu. 

 Since the fog was not forecast to hit the islands until morning, we had to stay the night in Virtsu.  We were invited to stay with strangers who lived near the launch area.  With lots of booze amongst us, we proceeded to fortify our spirits.  Not until late at night did we finally hit the sack.  It was a warm night, and my wife and I decided to sleep in the van.  It was parked in the cool barn, and we had some concern about the security of our baggage.  Word had got around, that the Germans were not allowing anybody wearing an army uniform on to the island. So I quickly changed into a suit, and stashed my uniform under the barn. 

Early in the morning, on the 22nd of September, we pushed the van onto the barge, and were soon on the island of Kuivastu. 

 When we arrived at the launch area, we were dumbfounded to find that the boat had left the previous day without waiting for us!  We spent the night in a nearby farm, and all were in hopeful agreement that with a little more searching we would surely find another boat.

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