Tuesday, 31 July 2012


"We never get tornados here." That was the proud boast of Edmontonians before July 31, 1987. On that Friday, a category five twister ravaged an industrial area of the city before demolishing a trailer park in the northeast.

Though I wasn't an eye witness to the tornado, I clearly remember the events of that day. Like previous mornings, the weather was warm and sunny. As I sat on a park bench in the Legislature grounds at noon with my bag of sandwiches, The sky grew cloudy. Throughout July, we had thunderstorms roll through every afternoon. I assumed this would be just another storm.

I was wrong. The thunder rolled continuously for twenty minutes at the height of the storm. I had never heard that sort of continuous rumbling before but a woman from Hong Kong had. She said that it was like that during typhoons.

At three o'clock, a man from another government department rushed into our office and announced, "There's a tornado in the south side. I just heard it on the radio." We listened in stunned silence as the newscaster described the destruction.

A half hour later, the senior supervisor of Transport Canada's Airports department announced that we should all go home. The streets were so congested that my ten-minute bus ride home lasted for ninety minutes. The rain fell so hard that it was like being in a shower.

I switched on my portable amateur radio transceiver as soon as I arrived at my rented suite. Hams relayed emergency messages between the Red Cross and concerned loved ones. They also assisted in relaying messages between medical personnel, the police, and hospitals. As in other emergency situations, the phone system became overloaded with frantic callers from other parts of the province and beyond as they tried to contact their loved ones. Radio stations also broadcast warnings to citizens not to use the phone unless it was an emergency.

By six o'clock, the brunt of the storm had passed. As rain continued to fall, I watched the news reports of the devastation in shocked silence. Industrial sites and the trailer park looked like they had been bombed. I can't recall off hand how many people died and were injured but everybody felt stunned at the carnage. This had never happened to the city before.

According to Environment Canada, the province of Alberta has 350 to 400 tornados in an average summer. Almost all of these touch down in rural areas. Edmonton's Black Friday twister occurred as a result of the wetter-than-usual July and a cold front that pushed its way into the area from the northwest. As a result of that twister, Environment Canada now announces tornado watches and warnings whenever conditions are right for possible severe weather. It's a shame that people had to die and others lost their homes before these measures were implemented. The pride of Edmontonians was crushed that day and the citizens learned a painful lesson from that traumatic experience.

Saturday, 28 July 2012


What was your first exposure to multi-level marketing? Mine happened when Wayne, a blind friend from Jericho Hill School for the Deaf and Blind phoned me one afternoon in July of 1975.

After catching up on our post-Jericho experiences, Wayne piqued my interest with a question. "Would you like to make extra money?" When I said yes, he explained, "I represent a cosmetic company called Holiday Magic. We help people start their own businesses with products that customers need all the time."

After Wayne described how I could earn money from home and make as much as I wanted, he invited me to the Edmonton office of Holiday Magic where trained professionals would demonstrate their merchandise for free. Since Wayne was a friend and he assured me that the company sold products for men as well as women, I decided to accept his offer.

Outside the store front office, the Holiday Magic staff set up a few lawn chairs and outdoor tables. "Is Wayne here?" I addressed the woman who was applying a creamy lotion to another person's face.

"No, but you're welcome to sit down and try a free facial," she invited. Since I came all that way, taking two city busses and an hour of my time, I figured I had nothing to lose.

When my turn came, the sales representative tilted my head back and applied a cool refreshing cream on my face. "That smells like cucumbers," I remarked.

"It does have cucumbers in it since it's all organic. It's designed to open your pores and clean out dirt. That should help clear up this acne you have."

After the woman wiped my face with a damp cloth, she gave me a brochure. I started reading it at home but it failed to interest me.

While I listened to the news one day, a reporter exposed Holiday Magic as a pyramid scheme. I threw out the pamphlet, not wanting to have any connection with shady business deals.

I wrote about Wayne and other students in my Deliverance from Jericho: Six Years in a Blind School memoir. Though the institution we were kept in wasn't very kind to us, we did entertain ourselves and get into mischief like sighted children. Please visit the link on the left hand side of this page for details about this paperback.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012


What a sad day July 26, 1973 was for my sisters and me. That was the day we were forced by the City of Fort Saskatchewan to have our dog, Bunny, put down. As Diane, Linda, and I walked home from the vet clinic without our canine companion, we wept all the way.

This whole string of events could have been avoided if somebody hadn't let Bunny run free. She seemed to always get out of our yard and roam the neighbourhood. No matter how Mom admonished us to keep Bunny inside unless she was on her chain, she often disappeared.

Bunny escaped one cloudy July evening but we thought nothing bad would happen. As in times past, Mom told Diane to go and find her again. My sister returned a half hour later with our dog and some bad news. A small child had teased Bunny and she nipped him. His mother went ballistic when she heard her son bawling. Not only did Diane receive the brunt of that woman's tirade but she called the bylaw officer. She claimed that Bunny was a vicious dog who attacked her innocent little boy.

The bylaw officer came the next day and took Bunny to the pound. The staff checked her for rabies and kept in isolation for two weeks.

Diane and I visited her once during that time. When Bunny saw us, she yelped hysterically and pawed at the bars of her cage. When Diane asked if Bunny could be let out for a while so we could comfort her, the woman on duty refused her request. We tried to pet our dog through the openings but it was of little comfort to her. When we left a few minutes later, we heard her frantic yelps for blocks as we walked home.

Though Bunny showed no signs of being rabid, the pound ordered her to be euthanized.

Mom didn't seem upset that our beloved dog was dead when we arrived home. I suspect she was glad not to have the burden of looking after her.

We, on the other hand, felt devastated. We loved Bunny, though we did play some fiendish tricks on her at times. She was faithful to the end, even obeying Diane's command to go down the hall and into the back room where her life would end.

I wrote about the day when Diane brought Bunny home in my Deliverance from Jericho: Six Years in a Blind School memoir. For more info about this book and my debut paperback, please check the links on the left hand side of this page.

Friday, 20 July 2012


During twenty-one years of my life, I composed and recorded my own form of electronic music. My passion for this genre began in 1975 when I became an instant fan of the German group Kraftwerk. I first heard their hit Autobahn played on CHED, Edmonton's local rock music radio station.

When I bought their first three albums, I felt inspired to create my own sonic textures. Other electronic artists intimidated me with their racks of expensive synthesizers but Kraftwerk's early music could be produced even by poor musicians such as me.

I began tinkering with various circuits and acoustic sound-making devices in my housekeeping room, during the late seventies, for my own amusement. I couldn't imagine that anybody would be interested in my style of compositions so I never mentioned my hobby to anybody.

In December of 1984, I discovered a program on CJSR radio called Departures. The host, Marcel Dion, played all sorts of fascinating compositions plus he invited "home tapers" to submit their music for broadcast. Believing that my works might have a chance of being played, I copied all of my experiments onto a cassette and hand-delivered it to Marcel in March of 1985 as he was airing his program. Those early recordings were very primitive but as time passed, I bought better gear and improved my technique.

During the summer of 1998, and in honour of my beloved house bunny, Gideon, I recorded an album called Lagomorph. The title refers to the family of animals comprising rabbits, hares, and pikas. When I visited the House Rabbit Society web page containing the word rabbit in different languages, I decided to title each of my new tunes with those names. It took me a few months to finish recording and manufacturing the album at my home, partly due to my freelance writing work, but also because of other interruptions.

Though my music never sold well, I had fun creating it. I now write books and articles but I still have a large number of my electronic music CD-Rs collecting dust in my basement. Please contact me directly if you're interested in this style of music.

I also wrote about how I combined my love of house rabbits and electronic music in my How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity memoir. Please check out the links on the left hand side of this page for details.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012


We should expect every representative of Jesus Christ to speak the truth about all matters. Furthermore, we believe they should have our best interest at heart in whatever they say and do.

Such isn't always the case in houses of worship today. I once attended a home-based church led by a lay preacher who had delusions of grandeur. In my upcoming How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity memoir, I wrote the following account of the cruellest thing he said about me. Even worse, he spoke it behind my back at a meeting that I missed due to work. I borrowed a recording of it from the church and heard his outrageous diagnosis of my poor sight.


The minute I arrived home, I threaded the tape on the machine. I enjoyed the recording until I heard Sister Roberta ask, "Why isn't Bruce being healed? We've prayed faithfully for him, but he still has poor sight."

Brother Herald drew a long breath, then explained, "The reason God hasn't given him full sight is because he lusts after it."

I gasped as if he had kicked me in the crotch.

"But can you blame him?" Brother Herald continued as his voice became choked with emotion. "To see his young playmates running around and not being able to join them when he was a child - it's no wonder he wants sight so badly."

Then he opened the scriptures to James 4:1 and read. "From whence come wars and fightings among you? Come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts."

His follow-up statements wounded me even deeper. "There is also generational sin in his ancestry. I will not mention the scarlet lady, but we know God punishes those who hate him to the third and fourth generation. It has been revealed to me that this is a generational sin but I have put a stop to it. His children will not be affected by this curse."


How I Was Razed is the testimony of how God revealed his true character to me after charismatic house church elders misled me for more than fifteen years. You're welcome to contact me directly for more information about this upcoming paperback.

Friday, 13 July 2012


NEVER immerse a rabbit in water. I learned from personal experience that they can become extremely stressed, enough that they could die, when plunged into a bath. These animals keep their fur clean in much the same way cats do.

Nevertheless, there are situations when bunnies need their hind ends bathed. In my When a Man Loves a Rabbit: Learning and Living with Bunnies memoir, I wrote about a terribly-neglected fuzzy lop named Harry who was given to me by a friend of a friend. This is what I did to make him half-way presentable to the vet.

Rabbits aren't bathed like dogs, needing only an inch or two of warm water to be washed in. Since his paws and butt were the dirtiest part of him, I didn't have to fill the tub much. I made sure the water was tepid and that I had towels handy to dry my bunny off afterwards. Since I didn't have baby shampoo, I had to make do with hand soap. Then I fetched Harry.

I knew that rabbits disliked water but I didn't realize how much of a fight the poor guy would put up. Harry squirmed, wriggled, and tried every trick he knew to get out of the tub. He even attempted to leap out twice but I pushed him back in. Then he stared at me with the most reproachful look I'd ever seen. Harry must have thought that I was torturing him the way he gave me that "shame on you" look. It took a while to soften the faecal material and peal it off of him. The job would have been easier if he had held still. Both of us were glad when the ordeal was finally over.

Harry still smelled a bit but not nearly as strongly as before. I set him on some old towels and dried his fur as best as I could.

I wrote about Harry, as well as a number of rabbits who lived with me, in my When a Man Loves a Rabbit: Learning and Living with Bunnies memoir. Please check the links on the left hand side of this page for information regarding this paperback and Deliverance from Jericho: Six Years in a Blind School.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012


Have you ever noticed how easy it is to find fault with others while ignoring your own? Like it or not, we all tend to excuse failures in our own beliefs and conduct. Like using a mirror to check if our faces are dirty, all of us need to objectively examine ourselves with unflinching honesty. The best mirror I know of is The Holy Bible.

From How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity, here's how hearing of the phony profession of my brother offended me while I was guilty of the same thing


While Linda and I strolled toward Diane's house one evening after eating at a fast food restaurant, I vented my frustrations regarding my lack of success in bringing people to the Lord. "It's too bad Roy doesn't want to come to church anymore," I complained. "He just wouldn't let the Spirit take over his tongue."

"Did you know that he just went there to learn Brother Herald's secrets?" she replied.


"Yes. He told me he liked knowing things that other people didn't."

"That's no reason to attend a church. We're blessed with an anointed teacher from God. Roy's supposed to be learning the teachings so he can help others who want to advance spiritually."

"I know, but that's what he told me. He also didn't like being ganged up on by Sister Roberta and the rest of you guys."

The closer we approached Diane's house, the greater my anger grew. Roy had always acted like a steadfast believer while in my presence and at church. I believed those occasions when I caught him swearing and saying how he loved Lucifer had been exceptions. The metaphorical scales fell from my eyes as I understood at last he had always been putting on an act so he would receive praise from us.

Because of my blind devotion to Brother Herald, I failed to recognize then that I also attended in order to learn his pseudo-secrets.


How I Was Razed is the testimony of how God revealed his true character to me after charismatic house church elders misled me for more than fifteen years. You're welcome to contact me directly for more information about this upcoming paperback.

Friday, 6 July 2012


Though I usually WRITE about my memoirs on this blog, I'm taking this opportunity to review a friend's book. She reviewed Deliverance from Jericho: Six Years in a Blind School on her blog so I'm returning the favour.

How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver is a book of mostly free verse poetry. It is divided up into four sections. The first part relates the struggles she faced when her blind husband, Bill, suffered a stroke that paralyzed his left arm and leg. It also impaired his speech. Instead of putting him in a palliative care institution, she lovingly cared for him at home after he underwent therapy at a nursing facility. Her heart-warming, and often humorous, poetry shows how she and her husband supported each other through this misfortune.

In the second and third sections, Taylor included poems inspired by her childhood as well as from other experiences. Many of those tell of a childhood filled with love and warmth, though some of her adventures were rather wild.

The poems in the last section relate her fifteen years as a registered music therapist in a nursing home before she married Bill. Taylor met some interesting and eccentric characters during those days. She also empathised through her poetry with seniors who had to have toileting and other everyday necessities performed by staff.

The poems Taylor included in this book revel in the simple pleasures of the mundane. From swimming in a creek to the joys of Dr. Pepper, the minutiae of life is examined through her writing.

But this is more than a mere collection of random impressions. The love that the Taylors share and the devotion each feels for the other shines with crystal clarity through the first section. Likewise, the author's enthusiasm for life shows through the images she paints with her poems.

How to Build a Better Mousetrap is available from Abbie Johnson Taylor's website. You can read a review of Deliverance from Jericho at Abbie's page as well.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012


Have you ever noticed how precious it is to share memories with family members who experienced what you did? Diane was one such sibling. When we were young, my sister and I went everywhere together. Whether it was mischief or play, we enjoyed many happy hours exploring the small city of Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta.

Then the province's education officials decided that I couldn't be educated in public school, even though I passed the first grade. I was exiled to Jericho Hill School for the Deaf and Blind in Vancouver,British Columbia, five-hundred miles from all I knew and loved. As the years passed, Diane found local friends to take my place.

As we matured, we grew apart. She had her husband and later her children to occupy her attention. I had my various adult concerns that took up my time as well. Diane moved two-hundred-and-forty miles away to a city called North Battleford, Saskatchewan while I stayed in Edmonton. We visited each other on a few occasions but she was often too busy to reminisce about our carefree childhood days.

In the spring of 2004, Diane suffered from a disease called Budd-Chiari syndrome. This rare disease caused her blood to become sticky so that it clogged her liver's exit vein. My siblings and I expected her to recover after the two operations she had performed on her but, on July the third, her internal organs shut down.

Diane's funeral and interment were held at Rabbit Lake, Saskatchewan on the fourteenth. Leaving my three house bunnies alone was a concern for me but I decided that they could survive if I gave them enough food and water. Floppy managed well enough when I did that in September of 1993. When I visited friends in Portland, Oregon for three days, he was fine when I came home.

My half sister, Jentien, generously drove me to the funeral. That was such a big help since I was several thousand dollars in debt.

While Diane's relatives and I socialized afterward, I suddenly realized the extent of my loss. The only family member who had the same set of recollections as I had was gone. Roy was too young and Linda hadn't been born until I was sent to Jericho.

I wrote about Diane in my When a Man Loves a Rabbit: Learning and Living with Bunnies and Deliverance from Jericho: Six Years in a Blind School memoirs. My upcoming How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity paperback also contains recollections of the times I visited her in North Battleford.