2000 Annual Letter


It must be the cold weather that compelled me to turn myself into a snowflake. As I sit here, big, fluffy white things are falling down. The snowplow has just come by. Perhaps there is also a (not so) subliminable (Getting ready for four years of George W.) desire to become part of one of those beautiful, warm, Scandinavian sweaters with colorful designs on the front.


The fact that the illustrations are part of a recently finished, eight page instructional article for JUGGLE magazine had a lot to do with it, too. Started out the year writing a two page column on ball juggling patterns. There was enough positive feedback for the publisher to ask me to expand the section to include a plethora of props. (Like to think it was clear writing, and not an abundance of alliteration. One never knows.) A side benefit of these articles is that they are furthering my work on a book about ball juggling.


Chris, my sweetie pie, and I vacationed in Louisiana in the spring. Get there before the weather turns too hot and Cajun country is delightful. Highlights were an impromptu lesson on how to eat crawfish from a very friendly waitress, who joined us at table. Southern hospitality seems to be genuine, at least gustatorily speaking. Enjoying crawfish bisque at another restaurant, the owner joined us to talk about the differences in educational systems between Canada and Louisiana.


"This is the forest primeval." For years I had romantically imagined the bayou as being the opening setting for Longfellow's Evangeline. It was quite distressing to finally visit the Evangeline tree in St. Martineville, and find out the that actual forest primeval is thousands of kilometers away in Nova Scotia, before the diaspora.


James Michener wrote about how some people like to have hotel reservations in advance, and others prefer to wander about and end up wherever. Of the two, I am probably guilty of not planning enough. After stopping at a couple of nice places to find no vacancies, Chris seemed a bit concerned about the evening's lodging. She also wasn t thrilled that the map we had wasn't detailed enough to clearly show other possibilities. With the limited directions we had, I decided to follow the bayou to search out the next bed and breakfast. Concerned about time, and the possibility of finding another "No vacancy" sign, Chris was a bit peeved when our car was held up by a couple of pedestrians, crossing the road. "Could you walk any slower?" she cried out in frustration. Driving by, I pointed out that the person dressed in the orange jumpsuit accompanied by a police officer was a prisoner and was, indeed, sporting leg shackles. Turned out he really couldn't walk any slower. To be fair, Chris would like it known, Canadians don't parade prisoners around in orange jump suits.


Had a chance to help develop a program to train people to recognize early symptoms of psychosis. Research indicates that the sooner one begins treating the disease, the less severe will be the results. British Columbia has decided to fund programs implementing new techniques. One unexpected result of my increased awareness was the sneaking suspicion that everyone around me was psychotic. Apparently, the people involved were happy with the results, I have been asked to participate in another stage of the program. This truly is a message of hope and am proud to contribute what I can.


In the summer Chris and I spent a very pleasant week in a cabin on the shore of the Gulf Islands. Don't want to mention the name, as quite a few Germans seem to have already discovered it. We aren't supposed to add to the Flut, er, flood. The theme of the week was wildlife. Afternoon hikes took us past a family of grazing deer. A seal showed up offshore every evening at mealtime to check out the seafood grilling on the bbq. Two bats competed in a nightly air race, twenty laps around our cabin. The bats occasionally veered from the course to munch the odd insect attracted to our candlelit dinners. Not as welcome were the ants, fixated on kitchen duty. In spite of keeping the place clean, we couldn't convince them to go outside and enjoy nature.


Unfortunately, a new golf course for Point Roberts means less habitable space for local wildlife, some of which tried to move in. Once the intruders were ousted I could enjoy the numerous sightings of bald eagles, herons, and coyotes. Feeble attempts to return the front yard to a more natural state have had limited success. Decided to hold off on mowing the lawn to see what might develop. Stopped in at the local nursery to inquire about different plants that might fit in. After explaining to the owner which yard we were discussing, she exclaimed, "You mean that abandoned house, one in from the corner?" It may be time for a new approach.


I get to go to Victoria one day a month to teach juggling. The Royal BC Museum is hosting Circus Magicus, an exhibit focusing on life under the big top. Should you make it to the scale model exhibit, try to locate the half-empty tube of glue that was left in the display, and will stay until the end. The rigging over the exhibit isn't strong enough to have a trapeze artist whisk away the anomaly. Also, notice that the cage door to the lions and tigers is open. The several decapitated spectators still seem to be enjoying the show, though.


copyright 2000 by Todd Strong



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