Thursday, October 12, 2006

Highlands-Unity Lodge No. 168, Edmonton, Alberta


LtoR: Knights of the North Michael Bayrak, R. John Hayes, Stephen Dafoe, Jelle Spiker, and a Dummy

I'm home and have now successfully caught back up to some semblance consciousness. What a fantastic experience the last few days have been. I don't how to adequately thank the brethren of Highlands-Unity Lodge No. 168 for inviting me to Edmonton, Alberta to speak to their lodge's festive board.

A very special note of thanks goes to RJ, Linda and Kaitlyn Hayes for their incredible hospitality.

I've not been to Canada before. It's remarkably home-like, apart from their spineless knuckling under to the metric system, rabbits the size of push-mowers, better beer and a peculiar fascination with hockey. They HAVE to have socialized medicine there. They all have puck injuries.

Here in the States, Monday was Columbus Day, most renown for the inconvenience of closed banks, shuttered post offices, vacationing government squints and the occasional Indian (feather, not dot) protest over celebrating the discovery of a place that already had people all over it. But in Canada, it was Thanksgiving, and I was given the opportunity to share the holiday with RJ's family. I'm sure that's just what they needed - another mouth to feed and some stranger underfoot while orchestrating the traditional madness of a dozen relatives, three cats and a dog around a five-person table, plus a 35 lb. turkey, five pies, three kinds of potatoes, four kinds of vegetables, and the inevitable, how the hell do you make gravy crisis. Worse, I was completely useless in holding up my end of the hockey discussions.

The brethren of Highlands-Unity Lodge and their many visitors were exceedingly gracious and welcoming on Tuesday evening. The dinner at the posh Indian (dot, not feather) restaurant Haweli was wonderful, although a boy embarking on an all-day airplane ride should partake of incendiary-spiced beef and chicken with a little more temperance the night before - or so my fellow passengers told me. The restaurant was beautiful, and the food was outstanding.

It appeared that somewhere between 40 and 45 brethren were in attendance to suffer through my remarks - fortunately for RJ, they bought the books before the speech. I have no idea if I said anything that sounded new to them - they seem to be a sophisticated lot who are already practicing their Freemasonry pretty successfully.

It was great to have the opportunity of meeting brethren from so many lodges who came out for the evening, along with the Deputy Grand Master and Grand Secretary of the GL of Alberta. I love visiting different lodge buildings, so getting to see both Highlands-Unity (love the moose in the West) as well as Edmonton's beautiful Freemason's Hall was a treat. The presence of liquor in both Masonic halls was combined with the inexplicable phenomenon that the earth did not stop spinning on its axis. Amazing. I just don't understand how that could be. I thought a lodge building with liquor in it would burst into flames spontaneously.

Spending time with fellow Knights of the North RJ Hayes, Jelle Spiker, Mike Bayrock, Stephen Dafoe, along with RJ's brother Peter and other brethren, was great, one of those strange "we only know each other from the Internet" gatherings that is getting to be a regular occurrence with me these days.

Us Broad Ripple Lodge guys can sleep anywhere, but I regard the geniuses at Motorola as empyrean cherubim for having the divine wisdom to put alarm clocks in their cell phones so that largish, snoring, and slightly crapulous layabouts don't sleep through their final boarding calls.

Thanks again to everyone who made the last few days truly an experience I will always remember. And most especially, I want to thank the Worshipful Master and officers of Highlands-Unity Lodge for their invitation and their warm welcome.

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