Thursday Tidbits

Posted on November 30, 2017 under Thursday Tidbits with 3 comments

Chief cook and bottle washer, Rev. Peter Smith – Pastor St. James United Church


What is the greatest gift that you can give any time of the year?

The gift of time.

Time is a luxury for people who work and are raising a family. Every day is one giant balancing act trying to figure out a way to survive the madness… especially at this time of the year.

For seniors and retirees, it’s a much different story. Everything hinges on good health, both physical and mental. There are many people who find the time impossibly long and can feel quite listless when boredom and lack of purpose become the norm.

Well, do I have a solution for you!

I’m recruiting a few volunteers to help me with the Hot Lunch program at St. James Church. Every Tuesday and Thursday, teams of volunteers provide a simple but nutritious hot lunch for people who want or need such a service. The Tuesday meal has been going on for ten years. I got involved with the Thursday meal three years ago.

Up until recently, we have had eight teams on Thursday which means that each team only has to prepare lunch once every eight weeks. These teams don’t cook in July and August so if you do the math (52 weeks – 8 weeks = 44 weeks), each team will be responsible for preparing meals approximately 5 times a year.

So, here is my “call to action.” One of these Thursday teams is unable to continue and I am trying to recruit some volunteers. I will captain the team. That means that every 8 weeks, you’ll have to spend about 4 hours (9-1) hanging out with me in the kitchen at St. James listening to my corny puns. Seriously, it is great fun. There is a wonderful sense of camaraderie.

Now, I can already hear your excuses. “I’m going south for the winter.” “I can’t cook.”  “ I don’t look good in an apron.” These are all lame excuses which will not be tolerated. At any given meal, a team of four can normally handle matters. There are other regular volunteers who actually serve the meals. In a perfect world, I would like 5 people to step forward and join me. I have already recruited (hoodwinked!) two people. Including me, that would make 8. You wouldn’t have to commit to every meal. We would have enough manpower to cover most situations including when people are away. Case in point. If I ever get my visa for India, I will miss at least one of the meals.

Which brings me to my second point. I would love to have a co-captain (as one of the 5 people), to assume responsibility when I’m away.

Ok, that’s it. I would love to have my team in place by the end of tomorrow (Friday, December 1st.). Consider it as your first (and most meaningful) Christmas present.

Once we have the team in place, we’ll get together at St. James and talk about the minutiae.

I guarantee that it will be one of the most rewarding experiences you will have. The banter in the kitchen is worth the price of admission!

Have a great weekend.

Reminder. Christmas book sale. Three books $25.00 + shipping. Regular $55. value. Message me or send me an e-mail at

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Monday Morning Musings

Posted on November 27, 2017 under Monday Morning Musings with one comment

December 17th. Little Christo’s. The MacDonalds


What is your absolute favourite thing in the world to do?

Is it a solitary walk in the woods? Christmas Shopping at the Mic Mac Mall on Christmas Eve? (I’d rather a public flogging!). How about curling up in front of a toasty fire with a good book and a glass of wine or a nice single malt? Hanging out with your grandkids would certainly rate highly.

For me, watching my children perform music always comes to the top of my list. They did quite a few public performances when they were teenagers performing at venues with the likes of Natalie MacMaster and Bruce Gouthro. These days, they are spread hither and yon so opportunities to see them play are few and far between.

My second favourite thing (a tie with a good piece of coconut cream pie with real whipped cream) is having the chance to play WITH my children. So, mark this on your calendar. On Sunday, December 17th, 2017, from 6:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m., I will be sharing the stage with my son Peter and daughter, Betsy at Little Christo’s. We’re doing a fundraiser (more details to follow). We’ll do some Neil Young, Johnny Cash, Gillian Welch, Blue Rodeo and probably some Christmas tunes in three part harmony…. four if you want to chirp in. It’s a Sunday so hopefully there won’t be 50 other events going on that evening.

And speaking of the Holy Trinity, I have not mastered the art of being in three places at once. This past Saturday, I was invited to two events that coincided with the Christmas Parade and tree lighting ceremony. No. I am not that popular but I can provide a warm bum in a seat. The “Dance for Life” event at Immaculata Hall was amazing. Sponsored by Arts Health Antigonish and the local Heritage Society, it was an evening of learning and listening about Mi’Kmaw art and culture and an opportunity to sign a parchment renewing peace and friendship with our First Nations people. I was honored to be a signatory of the parchment. The rest of the evening was taken up with dancing of every conceivable type. I couldn’t stay for the entire program as I scurried off to my third event of the evening.

Singling out any one performance is always fraught with danger but I don’t think many would argue that Anne Camozzi’s wheelchair dance was the show stopper. Her dance to peace and friendship offered comfort to all, especially those with physical challenges. The music was haunting and the dance was quite stunning.

You knew this was coming… a bit of shameless self-promotion. It’s time for you to get into the Christmas spirit. Even an old curmudgeon like me likes certain aspects of the holiday season. You can get a copy of all my three of my award winning books for only $25.00 (+ shipping). Award winning, you say? Yes. As far as I can determine, I have sold more books than anyone in my apartment complex. You can give someone the gift of laughter with the knowledge that you are supporting yet another starving artist. I have been told that my Week45 series makes excellent bathroom material!

Private message me or flip me an e-mail at

Have a great week.

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A Cultural Stew

Posted on November 23, 2017 under Storytelling with one comment

Karen and Jyotsna – stalwarts of Cultural Connections


“ There comes a time, when we heed a certain call,

When the world must come together as one…

We are the world, we are the children,

We are the ones that make a brighter day.”

“ We Are The World.” Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie

Antigonish is the home of Coady. Every year, for decades, Antigonish has welcomed leaders from around the world. St.F.X. University and St. Martha’s Hospital, two big engines in our economy also attract many people to our community. And we boast, unabashedly, that we are the “Highland Heart of Nova Scotia.

Do we do a good job of welcoming new people to Antigonish, whether they are foreign workers, international students, professionals or refugees?

A group of interested citizens got together 5 years ago to try and answer this question. Discussions were held with the Director of International Students at St.F.X. who knew the Newcomer Navigator for the Strait region. The idea of a potluck dinner was entertained to allow newcomers and long-time residents of the area to get together to share a meal and make new friendships. St. James United Church, one of the most welcoming places you could find, stepped up and offered their newly renovated kitchen and hall. Several societies at St.F.X volunteered personnel and expertise. The International Potluck was born. The rest, they say, is history.

Rarely in life is a new venture deemed an instant success. When nearly 140 people burst through the door at St. James, the organizing committee realized that they were on to something special.

Do you eat to live or live to eat? I suppose it depends on which part of the world you call home. Most of us take food for granted. For many it is a daily struggle. A potluck is a terrific way for people of different cultures to share their food and their stories with “locals.”

Many of the potlucks are “theme based.” The Philipinno Community has been hosts twice. Cultures such as the Acadians, Chinese, African Nova Scotians, and Celts have all left an indelible mark on the event. The L’Arche drummers are always a crowd favorite.

The organizers were slightly overwhelmed by their own success and had to reduce the number of dinners. They also realized that there was much more to this than just a meal. A wider group was convened to brainstorm with the central question, “How can we make newcomers to our area feel more welcome and supported?”

In step with a broader mandate to build a welcoming community that supports diversity, the group decided that it needed a new name to reflect this reality. Cultural Connections Antigonish now liaises with several other groups in the community including the Immigrant Support Program, Arts Health Antigonish, the Nutrition Department at St.F.X. and the Coady Institute.

If you’re a foodie and you like meeting new people, attending a Cultural Connections Antigonish potluck at St. James is a must. All are welcome. All you need to bring is some food and goodwill.

Antigonish is becoming a melting pot and we are all the richer for it.

We are the world. At least it’s beginning to feel that way.

(With thanks and gratitude to Fran Wittgens )



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