Tag Archives: Friends

The Cabal



This secret group may not look dangerous, but governments, fish, and mean-spirited fanatics fear them. They meet about once every month or two in secret. No one really knows why. Not even the participants. The purpose of the meetings is not known but it is assumed they are up to no good. The only thing known about them is that they all went to High School together in Steinbach, Manitoba, in the same class nearly 50 years ago. That seems astonishing given how young and vigorous they appear.

They are known as The Cabal. Although labeled by some as miscreants they have always denied any connection to any insurrectionary forces. Unsurprisingly, no one has stepped forward to vouch for their good character. Some say they are the intellectual leaders of their generation. Others hint of rapidly approaching senility.

Only one thing is certain—they enjoy sposs. Sposs is fun that only Mennonites are permitted to have. Others don’t qualify. For the first time ever I shall (bravely) name them. They are from left to right: Dave Tiger Loewen, the spiritual leader of the group, Chris “Karlokoff” Toews, Lou Reimer, Larry “Clancy” Giesbrecht, John “Hans” Neufeld, and Paul Loewen.

Like Abou Ben Adhem may they go in peace.

The Desert in Bloom

Through the wonders of irrigation, even in a year of drought, like this one, the desert can bloom. At the Desert Museum in Tucson, one of my favourite places, , that has been shown.



Flowers can bloom in the desert if they are given a boost of water.


The Museum is different from most. Almost everything in it is found outdoors. It is located right next to Saguaro National Park, dedicated to the Saguaro cactus found only in the Sonoran Desert.

The Century Plant is highly unusual, but beautiful in its own way.

In fact with care the desert can even bloom Hoepners. Of course it can’t make Don smile. That would be asking for too much.



Slow Food at the Handlebar Pub and Bar.



Maybe the ambience is a little less than stellar, but the Handlebar Pub and Grille is still a great hamburger joint. Sometimes the music is excellent too.


We enjoyed a very convivial  dinner here with friends Don and Marlene Hoeppner. The restaurant is popular so we had to wait about half an hour to get inside. In the meantime we sampled their beer and enjoyed the sunset in the background. Remember I am an inspector of sunsets. The Handlebar is  our favorite restaurant in the Phoenix/Mesa area. My friend Dave Driedger says they make the best burgers in the world. No doubt that is an exaggeration, but I think they are pretty good. Interestingly, for a burger joint, the Handlebar does not offer fries Sometines the music is pretty good too. . Slowfood  with a convivial evening with friends makes for some very good times.


The Commons: Where you don’t have to be rich, to be rich


It was nice to a visit from 2 friends from Steinbach. Ken Loewen and Rudy Nikkel. It felt strange to get together in Arizona, but it was most enjoyable. We had a convivial evening of food, wine, and friendship mixed with jovial conversation.

Ken and decided to go on a hike on the Hieroglyphic Trail in Gold Canyon. I had hiked it a few years ago and loved it. The 1.5-mile trail follows a fairly gentle slope covered with many cactuses in the canyon and terminates at a lovely almost dry pool that persists for much of the year. I actually thought there would be no water in this dry year, but Rudy had said there was still some water in the pool. Not much, but enough to make the trip worthwhile.

Ken Loewen reflected in the pool


Ken Loewen and John Neufeld at the top of the trail

Surprisingly we met Rudy leading another group of Steinbachers when we reached the top.Amazingly, Rudy told us he had run up the trail earlier in the week. Even when I was young I was never able to run up such a hill. Today, being an old man in sorry shape, running was out of the question. Walking was plenty of challenge for Ken and I.

Rudy Nikkel at the top of the world

I heard an interesting comment on National Public Radio (‘NPR’) recently. NPR here is a bit like CBC Radio. Great in other words and like CBC radio without commercials.

The commentator commented on the marvel of Arizona’s trail systems. You can go hiking on countless trails in the area. Some of them with spectacular scenery. All worth the trip. The person said, “Arizona trails are where you don’t have to be rich to be rich.”

Then I thought about this statement a little more. That statement really applies to much more than the trails. For example, it applies to the wonderful national, state and municipal parks. It applies to public education. It applies to publically sponsored art galleries. It applies to public health services. It applies to all of the commons. Often common “property” is much more valuable than private property. The only flaw was a complete absence of wild flowers. You can never have it all.

Life is good. The commons is good. Friendship is good. Sometimes you don’t need much to be rich. .

The Wonders of Social Media: Driving 2,000 miles to meet someone from Home


I got an email from Pauline Friesen an old friend from Steinbach that I have lost track of. I don’t know why we lost track of her and her husband Wes. It just happened. Thanks to modern social media–Facebook in this case–we have reconnected. We agreed to meet at their home in Mesa. We drove about 2,000 miles to meet friends from Steinbach that we really have not seen in about 45 years. Sometimes life is very strange.

He has learned everything about his pool. He is self-taught (with the help of Professor Google and online Pool School) but he did it. He is now an expert on swimming pools. He gained that expertise so he could handle any problem (almost) he encountered. If I had heroes, he would be my hero.

Wes actually is incredibly smart and wise, not least because of his choice of a partner. Pauline is a lovely and gracious person. It was fantastic to get together with these friends again. Thanks to social media we were lucky to reconnect. There are some good things about social media to go along with the many bad things.

Sometimes life is stranger than you can even imagine.