Monday Morning Musings

Posted on August 20, 2018 under Monday Morning Musings with no comments yet

Pat Foote. Demonstrating her craft at the Antigonish Art Fair

 

Summer is winding down but you’d never know it. Yes, the heat and humidity have subsided and you can feel the first breath of fall in the air but if you like doing things, Antigonish will keep you more than occupied 365 days a year, 366 on leap years.

The final Art Fair of the summer was held last Friday evening. The weather cooperated and there was a large turnout to see local artist and artisans. The food trucks were there and a lot of musical talent on display including a performance by former Great Big Sea writer and singer, Sean McCann. Sean has a solo act and much of his concert focused on his recovery from alcohol and drug addiction. It couldn’t have been more different than a Great Big Sea show but he kept the crowd’s attention with crafty lyrics and wonderful story telling.

Pat Foote, the potter in the photo above, drew big crowds as well as she displayed her amazing pottery skills.

The community continues to be indebted to Beth Latwaitis, David Miller and Mike MacEachern for the immense efforts to promote art and artists in our community. Besides the Art Fair, their newest project is the Art House, located in the old Visitor Information Centre next to Boston Pizza. It has been a beehive of activity all summer with art classes for young people and the plan is to keep the facility open year round as a focal point for art, music and culture. I heard rumours that there will be bell dancing classes this winter. The bad news is that these will not be open to men. I know it is an awful visual but I was thinking of taking one of these classes. NOT. I can just imagine what an hour of gyrating would do to an arthritic back and neck. I’ll just stick to walking.

What? You have never been to Chez Deslauriers? For shame! Perched high on a hill overlooking St. George’s Bay, this wonderful facility serves up traditional Acadian cuisine every Friday of the summer between 11-2 p.m. The setting is perfect, the large group of volunteers friendly and accommodating with all proceeds going to their historical society. I think the last meal of the summer will be served this Friday.

There was a huge turnout at the Farmer’s Market on Saturday. This has become a “must do” event on Saturdays (besides the New York Times crossword puzzle). The Market was humming with activity as more and more crops ripen and become available. It is also possibly the premier meeting space in town as locals and their guests and tourists all mingle. Mercifully, most attendees aren’t glued to their cell phones as they’re either sampling wares or swapping tales with old friends.

A small plug for my website. As many of you have noticed, I have advertisers on my website. I have just concluded a successful six month campaign and will be launching another one on September 1st. Advertising is very inexpensive ($10 a week) and the ads are shown around 35,000 times over a six month period. Drop me a note if you know of anyone who might be interested in advertising on one of the most widely read websites on Court Street!

I received an urgent call for help from my friend Sister Archana in Kannyakumari, India. The Daughters of Mary are providing food and shelter to thousands of victims of severe flooding in Kerala which is just next door to where I was volunteering last year. Take one minute and watch the devastation. IndiaFlood

If you can help, I still have an account at the Credit Union in my name called “Investment India.” I can also accept e-transfers at investmentindia2017@gmail.com Thank you for your consideration.

Have a great week.

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Thursday Tidbits

Posted on August 16, 2018 under Thursday Tidbits with one comment

St. Francis Xavier University

 

“See you in September,

See you, when the summer’s through.”

See You in September. The Happenings

It starts as a trickle and turns into a torrent.

It’s that time of the year. St.F.X. students are returning to Antigonish. Around mid -August, the first wave appears. This is usually Student Union folks and athletes from several sports teams. The change in energy level in the community is palpable. The intensity level will peek the first week in September. It will be visible and audible. Yes. There will be some parties that will raise eyebrows and anxiety levels for citizens of the town and university administration. But this goes with the territory of being a university town.

St.F.X. is a major driver of the local economy. It is hard to imagine what it would be like if it weren’t here. It is one of these things that makes Antigonish an extraordinary small town. It is the single largest employer and helps keep the economy from suffering wild fluctuations. The university continues to improve infrastructure which is essential in the hyper competitive world of education. There always seems to be a construction project going on which provides more jobs and helps stimulate the economy. And make no mistake, the recently concluded National Special Olympics would never have been held here were in not for the facilities at X.

Yes indeed, September is lurking around the corner and that means the start of school and the Eastern Nova Scotia Exhibition.

I was a teacher back in the days when mastodons roamed the earth. I do have a long memory and back then, right around the middle of August, I would be getting a nagging feeling in the pit of my stomach. The summer would have passed far too quickly (don’t they always?) and I would know that, in spite of two weeks of freedom remaining, my head was already in “school mode”. Teachers out there know exactly what I mean.

Agriculture is yet another important driver of the economy.

The Eastern Nova Scotia Exhibition is a first rate event showcasing the agricultural community. It is also a time to get your fingers sticky with cotton candy at the midway. You can share yours with the wasps that crawl out of hiding and make their way to the Exhibition grounds every year at this time. Sadly, I will miss this year’s “Ex” as I will be traversing Canada with my son who is moving back to the east coast. Take some time and visit the ENSE. Like and share their Facebook page and you can win a pass to this year’s Ex.

And please, keep your eyes posted for information about the proposed new Farmer’s Market building. They are in the midst of a fundraising drive to erect a new, modern, year round facility.

Have a great weekend.

P.S. I always pick the wrong checkout at any store I enter.  Hard to believe but yesterday, I even got behind the wrong person in the quick checkout (1-5 items) at the grocery store.

 

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Monday Morning Musings

Posted on August 13, 2018 under Monday Morning Musings with no comments yet

Walking trail. Montague, P.E.I.

 

“What’s the buzz;tell me what’s a happening,

What’s the buzz; tell me what’s a happening.”

What’s The Buzz? Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice

Is there a more bucolic setting anywhere else in Canada that can match P.E.I.?

My brother and I took a short trip to “the Island” last week to catch a performance of Jesus Christ Superstar. This musical rock opera debuted on Broadway in 1971 and has been performed on some stage somewhere in the world for forty-seven years. I heard that there was an excellent local staging of the show a few years back here in Antigonish. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get the live feed from southern India!

Starting with the ferry ride from Caribou to Wood Islands, one is forced to slow down. Once you reach the rich, red soil of the island, you are greeted with rolling hills and 80 kpm speed limits. It must be quite a (pleasant) shock to the system for visitors from large cities who white knuckle commute through 16 lanes of traffic traveling at 13okm and hour, when not stuck in gridlock. The only time you encounter any kind of a lineup in P.E.I. is at a Cow’s ice cream stand.

Our mini vacation started with a visit with old friends at Rollo Bay. For the first time ever, I traveled on the number 4 highway which is the coastal route heading across the eastern end of the island. The scenery is quite stunning with the ocean off to one’s right with fields of potato and corn at every turn in the road.

Knowing that we were a bit early to be arriving at our friends, we stopped in Montague. There’s a walking trail, an old rail bed, just as you cross the bridge near the mouth to the harbour. We meandered along the trail. After the recent heat wave, it was quite delicious walking through the trees with a lovely warm breeze blowing in our faces. We were hatless but the wind didn’t have any effect on my recent haircut!

We had a wonderful visit in Rollo Bay, one of many beautiful vistas dotting the island. Thanks to Irene and Colin for the hospitality.

On our trip into Charlottetown, we noticed black, menacing clouds in the distance. Upon our arrival near suppertime, we witnessed a stretch of road severely flooded. We checked into the Great George Hotel and were greeted by possibly the most friendly desk staff person imaginable. It is very obvious that Islanders understand the importance of hospitality and client service as tourism is extremely important to their economy.

Did I mention cookies? The Great George is pricey but on one’s birthday, one can indulge themselves. The desk clerk welcomed us to free cocktails in the lobby area and mentioned that there was an endless supply of fresh baked cookies on a table not far from where we were standing. On our way to our room, we sampled the cookies as we felt it would be rude to offend our hosts by not trying a few. We visited this table a few times during our short stay.

Our accommodations were first class. I had negotiated a preferred rate when booking the apartment style room, mentioning that we were both seniors. I also slipped in the fact that it was my birthday, a fact that did not go unnoticed by the reservations clerk. On the living room table, there was a box of truffles and in the fridge, there were four bottles of locally brewed craft beer. Only after we had hastily consumed the chocolates did my brother notice a card from the “associate concierge” wishing me a happy birthday. Very classy indeed.

We meandered a block away to dine at the Gahan House only to find out that a vicious hail storm had knocked out power to much of the downtown core an hour earlier, putting in jeopardy our dinner plans and the distinct possibility that Superstar might be cancelled.  We ended up at Peake’s Quay on the waterfront along with nearly every other tourist in Charlottetown, being one of the few restaurants with power. Considering the size of the crowd (100 tables x 4 per table), the service what quite remarkable and all delivered with a smile. Noticing an opportunity to milk the birthday thing, my brother mentioned this to our waiter which produced the desired effect. We shared a low calorie (fat chance) dessert, compliments of the management.

We were very relieved to learn that “the show would go on”, and made our way to Confederation Centre. I will not bore you with a lengthy song by song review of the rock opera. This is a must see if you’re a baby boomer. It was a world class performance. Lee Siegel, who plays Judas, is simply off the charts with his powerful voice. All the singers were exceptionally good and the orchestra was more than up to the task. Actually, they were fabulous.

Exiting the building, we stood with dozens of others and watched a screening of the history of Canada emblazoned on the wall of the Confederation Centre.

It was short trip but everything about it was first class. Great friends, great food, wonderful hospitality and one exceptional musical.

By the way, thanks for all the birthday wishes. None of us needs reminding that we’re getting older but connecting with friends near and far once a year is rather fun.

Have a great week.

P.S. Overheard at the R.K. MacDonald last week as I was waddling down the hallway with my guitar. A few of the staff were walking behind me. “He has a nice swing on his back porch.”!

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