Monday Morning Musings

Posted on December 31, 2018 under Monday Morning Musings with no comments yet

“These boots are made for walking…” in rain,snow and slush.

 

Rarely do people purposely put themselves in harm’s way. If there is a blizzard in the forecast (storm of the century?), one is likely to hunker down, grab some storm chips and wait till the worst is over before venturing out. You might also be leery about traveling to a war ravaged country or standing on the rim of a volcano knowing that it is due to erupt at any moment. So why, you ask, would an avowed non-shopper do the unthinkable and go shopping on arguably the busiest shopping day of the year in Canada – Boxing Day?

No. I haven’t taken up drinking again if that’s what you’re thinking. For most of my adult life, I have spent Boxing Day doing the same things. It usually begins with the Hillcrest Street hockey game and ends in front of the television watching the start of the World Junior Hockey Championships.

This year, I spent Boxing Day in Victoria, B.C. I’m doing three weeks of dog sitting for friends who are vacationing. This is often the rainy season in Victoria and without proper footwear, getting something waterproof for my twice daily walks with Copper became a top priority. After a two hour early morning walk and breakfast, my brother and I took a stroll into the city (another hour walk) to check out a sporting goods store. This is a locally owned business and similar to Mountain Equipment Coop.

With the World Juniors being held in Victoria and Vancouver this year, we stopped by the box office at the arena to see about tickets for the U.S/Slovakia game later that day which had been listed as sold out. I was interested to see at least one game as this is some of the finest hockey a person can see. I managed to secure a single ticket.

It was a beautiful day and the streets were crowded with pedestrians, a harbinger of things to come. We entered Robinson’s and it was a madhouse. It looked like an ant hill that someone had kicked. “So, this is what a Boxing Day sale looks like,” I said to myself. The good news, if there was any, is that I knew exactly what I was looking for – a pair of Merrill walking shoes, the same brand that had carried my brother across Spain on his El Camino walk earlier this year. Despite the chaos in the footwear section, I was able to get what I needed relatively quickly. While getting a bargain was not my main intent, the 25% discount was a pleasant surprise.

The hockey game was excellent. The pace of the game was incredibly fast. Despite the fact that Canada was not playing, the place was packed and it was apparent that most of the attendees were Canadian by the hockey jerseys they were wearing. I got the sense early on that the spectators were cheering for Slovakia. It was barely discernible. That is until beer consumption picked up. The first hint that there was an anti -American sentiment was when a penalty shot was awarded to the U.S. team. This was greeted with lusty boos from the crowd. I was caught off guard. When the U.S. player failed to score, a huge roar went up. From there on, it only got uglier.

As the booze flowed, the boos increased in frequency and intensity. The crowd was not happy when the Americans took the lead in the third period on their way to victory. Now, I suspect that the players on the ice weren’t even conscious of the vitriol being spewed in the grandstands, so conditioned are they to block out distractions. From where I sat, it struck me as poor sportsmanship on the part of the majority of fans. As I watched, I felt a measure of pity for the U.S. players. It was evident to me and any other sober members of the audience, that these players were feeling the fallout from an unpopular president state side. Some of you might opine that this is just hockey but it didn’t feel that way to me. If this had been a Canada/U.S. game I would have expected this behaviour because this is rivalry. What I witnessed smacked of politics.

Another year has come to a close.

Wishing you health and happiness in the year ahead.

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Thursday Tidbits

Posted on December 27, 2018 under Thursday Tidbits with one comment

Poppy

 

“The cattle are lowing.

“The poor baby wakes.”

Away in a Manger

Most Christmases follow a familiar pattern but more often than not, each Christmas provides unique memories. It could be a special gift, a certain meal or even a sporting event like the World Junior hockey championships. Maybe you were blessed by the birth of a child or a grandchild which is the ultimate Christmas present.

When I look back at Christmas 2018, I will remember it for a few animal encounters. No, I didn’t hear cattle lowing at the manger.

On Christmas Eve, I was invited to a meal with family and friends. It was at a house in Halifax. When I knocked on the door, I was greeted by two dogs baring their teeth, snarling and barking. Normally, this would not cause my blood pressure to rise but one of the four legged creatures was a pit bull. Apparently my friends rescued Poppy from a puppy mill in Georgia. An American pit bull. I didn’t stop to ask him his political leanings.

The other dog was a Shih Tzu. Rio provided the soundtrack for dinner barking at almost anything and everything. I don’t know enough about this dog to determine if this is a characteristic of the breed. When it came time for dessert, Poppy hovered near my legs eyeing my apple pie and ice cream. I almost considered giving it to him, possibly saving a limb in the process.

On Christmas Day, my travels to the west coast required three separate flights. What are the odds that there would be cats on two of these flights and that one would occupy the seat next to me and the other, the seat behind me? The owner of the cat on the longer of the flights, from Toronto to Calgary, had given her feline a sedative and I heard not a whimper throughout the 3:50 flight. The cat on the shortest leg of the trip from Calgary to Victoria (1:25) whimpered and cried the entire time. There was a chorus of voices behind me trying to comfort the cat. Some were singing while others made a variety of sounds. At the end of a long day, it was mildly irritating… especially the human cat whisperers.

If you haven’t done so already, go and see the latest version of Mary Poppins. I took my granddaughter last weekend and it was fantastic. The music, dancing and special effects were superb. Every so often, I glanced over at my granddaughter who was absolutely transfixed by the spectacle on the big screen.

If you get a chance, please read John Graham-Pole’s excellent book “Journeys With a Thousand Heroes”. John is a retired pediatric oncologist. He spent much of his life caring for young cancer patients. He was also a pioneer of bringing the arts into hospitals as part of the healing process. John has been living in Antigonish for close to a dozen years and is one of the founders of Arts Health Antigonish (AHA!).

Have a great weekend.

P.S. For the next three weeks, my posts will arrive at 10:00 a.m. Atlantic (6:00 a.m. Pacific)

Rio

 

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Monday Morning Musings

Posted on December 24, 2018 under Monday Morning Musings with one comment

Me and mom. December 2014

In a few hours’ time, the rush will be over. Christmas will arrive tomorrow. We’ll all eat too much and collapse in a heap by early evening.  I won’t be one of them. I will spend the day in the sky and in airports, winging my way to the west coast, en route to Victoria to fulfill a dog sitting promise made several months ago.  I will be lucky to get a boxed sandwich and a mediocre cup of coffee as the airlines have become “no frills” except for the fortunate few in first class. Hey, maybe I can hitch a ride with Santa as his sleigh will be empty by morning.

Christmas morphs and changes as we get older. It’s now mostly about the grandchildren. Most people my age treasure the gifts of time and good health. We don’t need any more stuff.

We mustn’t forget that Christmas is not a happy time for everyone. Many older people are lonely and this is only exacerbated at this time of the year. People who live in poverty find every day challenging let alone Christmas where expectations are sky high. Many people have experienced loss over the past year with the death of a loved one and some people are dealing with very challenging personal situations.

For those of you living near Antigonish, why not drop over to St.James United Church Christmas Day afternoon as they host a Christmas dinner. Our family has been attending for years. It has become one of our favourite traditions as we share a meal with a wide swath of people. There is food, laughter, music and fellowship. Bring along some rolls, cooked vegetables or sweets. http://stjamesuc.com/xmas

Merry Christmas to everyone.

Enjoy this? Visit the rest of my website to enjoy more of my work or buy my books!
The Macdonald Notebook: Business & Politics in Atlantic Canada
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