Thursday, June 9, 2016


John amid the boxes and books of Janice and Jim's West End apartment, where they are packing up for a move down the street.

Jim's old kilt fit John perfectly, so with his Scottish ancestry, he couldn't resist!

Some of the many volumes of Great Books of the Western World that will move from Jim's bookshelves to ours.

John and I both know that at our stage of life, we should be paring down our possessions instead of acquiring more. But how could we turn down the offer of a free Scottish kilt, with all the fixings? Or the complete set of Great Books of the Western World? All courtesy of John's cousin Janice and her husband Jim, who are moving a few blocks to another apartment that is a bit smaller than their current place, but offers two elevators instead of one that breaks down a lot.

We knew we shouldn't take the kilt, but it fit John perfectly and it's the real, hefty deal. Made in Glasgow, its label says it is "Hunting Stewart, Canadian Scottish Regiment." Its provenance is murky and it has a few moth-holes, but it comes complete with jacket, stockings, garters, sporran, and yes, a nasty-looking dirk. As for why would John wear such a thing, both his paternal grandparents came from Scotland, he took Highland dancing as a pre-schooler, and his pride in his ancestry includes reading How the Scots Invented the Modern World. Now the question is how to invent an occasion for John to wear this outfit: Perhaps the people at our local beach on Saltspring Island should be very afraid.

As for the books, they include such authors as Homer, Plato, Aristotle, Dante, Marcus Aurelius, Montaigne, Lucretius, Shakespeare (lots), Darwin, Gibbon, Goethe, Marx and Engels, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky and Freud. At one time, most of these names would have horrified me, but my liberal studies course at Simon Fraser University has given me at least a glancing acquaintance with them. None are easy, but they now seem possible, and maybe even an enjoyable challenge. The books come from Jim, an English professor, who always calls his books his "friends." Now I hope they will become mine.


  1. Yes, I think the Saltspring Indolent Society should be very afraid. The other reason (other than that I thought it would fit him) I thought of John as a likely candidate was because his father, my Uncle Doug, acquired a set of bagpipes and learned to play them from a 50 cent pocketbook. As a kid I just loved this whole idea and it was so exotic and seemed like so much fun....not like my boring piano lessons. Family life in the 50's was pretty dull. Uncle Doug wasn't dull!

  2. And Carol also got a gift, an apron with an image of Henri Le Chat Noir and the words "I'm surrounded by morons". The idea being that many of the philosophers in the Great Books are "morons". Well, I don't think a lot of most of the "great" philosophers.