Thursday Tidbits

Posted on July 19, 2018 under Thursday Tidbits with one comment

Hands at work at The Arts House

 

Show of hands. How many of you have read all 900 of my Week45 stories? The odds of that actually happening are similar to those of being struck twice by lightning. I should be careful as I have been struck by lightning once already. To prove it, here’s the story I published when it happened https://www.week45.com/a-bolt-from-the-blue/.

Based on this survey, there is a very good chance that you didn’t read my Monday post. You’re forgiven! I’m helping raise money for the Heart and Stroke Foundation. I am participating in the Big Bike Ride next Tuesday, July 24th. I am part of the team from the RK MacDonald Nursing Home. Someone who read my post on Monday thought I was doing a big bike ride, like going around the Cape. Nope. With a wonky back and neck (and mind), that’s not happening. I’ll be climbing on a BIG BIKE that carries about 18 passengers and we’ll take a cruise down Main Street at 7:00 p.m.

I’ve set a goal to raise $1000 and I’m at the hallway mark. If you’d like to make a tax deductible contribution, please go to my page with the Heart and Stroke Foundation: http://support.heartandstroke.ca/site/TR/BigBike2018/BB_General_2018?px=2165881&pg=personal&fr_id=5878. Might even wear my kilt if I exceed the $1000 mark!

The Antigonish Arts Fair is expanding its wings adding a new and exciting program. The old Visitor Information Centre beside Boston Pizza is now the home of The Arts House. Antigonish has been a hotbed for artists for decades. Many successful artists honed their skills under the watchful and caring eyes of Mary MacGillivray. Here’s a piece I wrote about Mary a few years ago. https://www.week45.com/the-art-of-being-mary-2/. Mary is still very much alive and well, recently passing the century mark. She is one of my favourite people and love our chats at the RK.

Do you have a child who is creative and wants to learn various forms of art this summer? Check out their website: http://antigonishartfair.ca/the-arts-house/ . One of my grandchildren is attending this week and from all accounts, it is awesome. Kudos to the visionaries at the Art Fair.

And speaking of the Art Fair, I have been pressed into service this Friday (20th) and will be playing some tunes at 7:20 p.m. at Chisholm Park… across from The Wheel. You know the place? It’s where Prime Ministers get their pizza when they’re passing through Antigonish!

Apparently a few of the featured performers are sick. The best they could do on short notice was a balding 66 year old man. I promise I won’t play any of my original songs. I’ll stick to the tried and true. Maybe a few Neil Young tunes and some singalong stuff. Oh yes. I have donated some of my books to The Arts House and I think they’ll be selling them on Friday night. 100% of the proceeds go to the Arts House.

How do you cure a pain in the neck? Wouldn’t I love to hear your remedies. There is no cure for annoying people but I’m working on getting relief for neck pain. My latest stop has taken me to an osteopath. We’re not 100% sure what’s wrong with my neck but it’s possible I don’t have my head screwed on properly. (Pause for the cheap shots). He did a lot of manipulations with my head and neck. It’s a little too early to say how things are going to go but I definitely notice an improvement after only two sessions.

Weather’s looking great for the next few days.

Hope to see you at the Art Fair tomorrow evening.

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Monday Morning Musings

Posted on July 16, 2018 under Monday Morning Musings with 4 comments

 

I passed a milestone of sorts on the weekend. My story about camping was the 900th story I’ve posted on my website. What started out as an accident seven years ago has turned into a passion.  At this rate, I will eclipse the 1000 mark sometime next summer. From the reaction to “Hard Top Horrors” just about everyone has a camping story. Thanks for all your comments. The beauty of writing is that there’s never a shortage of material. Chance conversations on the street lead me down some peculiar roads!

On a more serious note. There’s a woman who works at Sobey’s here in Antigonish and she’s having a rough go with cancer. Her friends are trying to raise some money for the family. I’m going to do my part by donating 100 of my books with all of the proceeds going to them. Sobey’s will be selling them for the next few weeks ($10 each) and I hope to spend some time at the store autographing them. I plan to be there this coming Friday (20th) so why don’t you come by and say hello and support a good cause. If you already have my books, buy one for a friend.

“On the road again. I just can’t wait to get on the road again”. ( Johnny Cash/Willie Nelson) Early in September, I’ll be flying to Victoria where I’ll meet up with a friend who’s relocating to Halifax. We’re going to drive across Canada, something I’ve done on several occasions. Canada is a very big country and you really get a sense of this when you drive coast to coast. No doubt the trip will generate some stories.

I also have the El Camino in my sights. If I can whip myself into shape, I hope to walk the El Camino trail in Spain next May. It’s approximately 800 kilometres long and from all accounts, a terrific experience.

For the first time, I will be taking part in the Big Bike Ride in support of the Heart and Stroke Foundation. I have been recruited to be on the team from the RK MacDonald Nursing Home. If you’d like to support this worthy cause and help me reach my goal of $1000, you can make a tax deductible contribution by going to my page with the Heart and Stroke by following this link: http://support.heartandstroke.ca/site/TR/BigBike2018/BB_General_2018?px=2165881&pg=personal&fr_id=5878 Anybody who matches my personal donation  ($100) will get a set of my books (autographed) and if you’re in the area, I’ll hand deliver them to you and we’ll have a coffee and swap lies.

The National Special Olympics is just around the corner. Antigonish will be in the spotlight. Let’s go out of our way to make everyone feel welcome.

Have a great week.

 

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Hard Top Horrors

Posted on July 14, 2018 under Storytelling with 8 comments

We stand on guard (rails) for thee

 

When is the last time you sourced, prepared and served rabbit stew at a campground?

It nearly happened 20 years ago.

The other day, I wandered into Whidden’s Campground in Antigonish with my granddaughter to visit some friends who were spending a week there camping. This campground is unique as it is an oasis in the downtown core. It has majestic, old growth trees with the Brierly Brook dissecting the park. A large percentage of the occupants on any given week are locals including a number of people from town who see traveling less than a kilometre as a way of “getting away from it all.” On the far side of the river, the entire population of Louisdale is camped out for most of the summer.

My granddaughter makes friends easily so I found myself hobnobbing with some folks from Port Hawkesbury who have a large camper. How large, you say? I would estimate it at about half the length of the Canso Causeway. I haven’t seen one of these behemoths up close as my camping days are in the rear view mirror. In no way, shape or form, could you consider this form of camping as “roughing it”. It had every modern convenience possible including a unit that slides out exposing an oven, a microwave and a chef!

Most people of my generation have taken a stab at camping. When our children were young, we were crazy enough to buy a small tent, pitch it in the back yard and pretend that we were wilderness explorers. The first sleepover likely ended around midnight when excitement and mosquitoes had taken their toll.

But we were a brave lot and we moved on to greater adventures. Our children are all musical and in a fit of insanity, we agreed to take all four to Stanfest in Canso, and to tent. Canso is perched precariously on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean and is subject to changeable weather. In the space of a few hours, one can experience scorching heat, oppressive humidity; thunder and lightning, torrential rain and fog. The concert venue is set up in such a way that you can experience the festival in the lap of luxury or get down and dirty. The kids pleaded to stay in the “acoustic campground.”

We acquiesced and paid dearly for this lack of judgment. The acoustic campground is designed for young people who have no intention of sleeping for three days straight. They plan to drink excessively 24/7 and entertain other campers by singing “Barrett’s Privateers” at 3:30 a.m. Every verse. Sometimes twice in a row.

The first night it rained so hard that a small river ran through our six person tent.

Like the Jefferson’s we “moved on up” and purchased a hard top camper. We kept it in our yard for a month. It took us the first three weeks to figure out how to open it and one week to eradicate the mildew and musty smell that seems endemic to hard tops. At that time, we had a driveway that circumnavigated the house. Once we got a hitch put on to the back of our Dodge Caravan, I was able to make several loops of the yard just to see how it would feel towing it. Never once did it occur to me that I would have to park it once we reached a campground.

It was a hot day, one filled with excitement and anticipation as we pulled out of Antigonish heading for a campground just west of Moncton. Why we didn’t practice at Whidden’s is one of those great mysteries, like how they get the caramel in Caramilk chocolate bars.

With several bathroom breaks, it seemed to take forever to reach our destination. By the time we arrived, everyone was just a bit agitated. We made the descent down a long hill and entered paradise. It was quickly to become hell.

The first thing I noticed was the preponderance of rabbits. They were everywhere including the middle of the road. Not knowing their collective I.Q., I took it slowly not wanting to explain the notion of carnage to my children while sitting around a campfire roasting marshmallows. We picked up our pass at the registration desk and made our way to our site. While I’m quite certain that there was plenty of room to park between the campers on either side of us, the space looked infinitesimally small.

You have to back into your campsite.

That’s when I felt the first droplets of sweat form on my brow. With the kids still inside the van, I made a few feeble attempts to manoeuvre the camper into place with no luck. As world war three was about to break out, I instructed the kids to go outside and chase rabbits or go to the nearby playground. I then started to receive instructions from my wife about my parking technique. That would have been helpful but to this point, I didn’t have a technique. I was concerned about the liability costs from smashing into my neighbour’s unit. All the while, I kept a keen eye on the rabbits.

This was well before the advent of cell phones and Google. This was trial by error. There was far more error than trial. My inner thermostat began to rise as I politely suggested that my wife exit the van and guide me into the space. It was a sensible idea. In theory. I could hear her instructions but I couldn’t see her. I was getting used to the large side mirrors I had purchased for this very reason but I couldn’t get her in my sights.

I lost count but it took at least 15 tries before achieving success but it nearly cost me my marriage.

I got out of the van and before detaching the hard top, I immediately poured myself a healthy glass of Captain Morgan black rum and Pepsi. I surveyed the landscape and circled the vehicle looking for dead, four legged furry characters. Mercifully there were none.

I often look back at that experience wistfully. No, that’s a lie. It fills me with borderline rage at my incompetence. But it gives me comfort to find out that many members of the male species have had similar difficulties.

Every campground should provide a parking service to morons like me. I would have paid any amount of money to avoid the angst and the embarrassment felt that summer day so many years ago.

If hotels can have valet service, why not campgrounds. It just might save a few more marriages.

 

 

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