Thursday Tidbits

Posted on January 31, 2019 under Thursday Tidbits with one comment

 

So, how are those New Year’s resolutions shaping up with one month under your belt?

After a year of questionable eating habits, I looked forward to 2019 to hit the rest button. I flew to Victoria on Christmas Day enabling me to get a head start on my plan. Or so I thought. It started rather badly on Christmas Day. With three different flights and one lengthy layover, I ate a lot of airport food, fearing the vaunted airline menus of salted peanuts and stale cookies. When I finally touched down, I was treated to the most magnificent Christmas dinner in the evening. I wasn’t counting calories but I reckon on day 1 of the new regime, I probably ate about 6,000 calories.

Things had to get better and they did. Sort of. I’m normally not one who counts, calories, steps or kilometres. My belt buckle tells me everything I need to know. Having said this, I do have a few numbers to pass along: In the month of January, I walked approximately 775,000 steps or roughly 25,000 per day. I averaged 20 kilometres a day for a total of 620. Then how am I going to explain to my doctor at my next checkup how I managed to exert all this energy and still gain 5 pounds?

I happen to have a sweet tooth as I have mentioned in this space… repeatedly. December is a killer. Unless you are supremely disciplined, it is hard to avoid sweets when they are lurking around every corner. But I figured that spending the first three weeks of my west coast stay looking after a dog, that I could slay my sugar craving.

Wrong.

My sister in law is an amazing dessert maker and during my stay, I was presented with some of the most amazing treats imaginable. I certainly didn’t want to offend her and made sure that I ate my fair share. I also received numerous dinner invitations where desserts were always served. I also ate several restaurant meals. Add it all up and despite the fact that I walked the equivalent of the distance between Vancouver and Nelson, B.C. or Sydney to Yarmouth in Nova Scotia,I gained weight.

When I get home, I will find an old slate blackboard and write 100 times: I promise to do better in February.

There are so many great places to eat in Victoria. The other morning, I was feeling a bit peckish after a 23K walk. I was in the downtown core and had heard about a small eating establishment called the Cook and Pan Polish Delicatessen and Café. It’s located on a small side street near one of the major thoroughfares. While the café is quite small, it has a great vibe. The owners left Poland back around the time of the first direct presidential elections which took place in 1990. Lech Walesa became a household name throughout the world. He was an electrician and union leader and became president. This was a year after the fall of the Berlin wall.

I chatted with the owner during lunch. He and his wife own the business and put in long days. Michal is quite an artist and does all of the posters and menu boards. When his wife suggested that he do a special poster for Christmas, he decided to do one poster (pictured below) that would include all of the big feasts. Michal has run 50 marathons and completed 8 Iron Mans. If you happen to be in Victoria, check this place out. The food is fantastic and the Tzaczyk’s are wonderful, warm people.

Have a great weekend.

 

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Monday Morning Musings

Posted on January 28, 2019 under Monday Morning Musings with no comments yet

The Trews at The Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver

 

“Rockin’ alone in an old rocking chair.”

Rocking Alone in an Old Rocking Chair – Eddy Arnold

It is hardly surprising that many of the entertainment options in Victoria are skewed heavily to an older population. Victoria is, after all, often referred to as the “retirement capital of Canada”. Movies, concerts and a multitude of events are held during the day. I have been to three excellent movies since coming out here. One of them started at 11:30 a.m. and the others were mid- afternoon and make no mistake about it, the movie theatres have really upped their game to attract customers. Most of the multiplexes here have large (oversized) leather chairs that have adjustable foot rests and reclining features. Seniors prices are very reasonable ($11) but this is more than made up by the exorbitant cost of popcorn. Unbuttered popcorn (enough to feed a moderately hungry squirrel) costs around $7.50.

So when my brother in Vancouver called and asked if I would like to come over and catch an 8:00 p.m. concert, I thought that this was reasonable. We would attend the show and be back at his place by 10:30. This wasn’t any show. Many of you will be familiar with The Trews, a band who got their start in Antigonish. Two of the band members are blood relatives which made the concert that much more appealing.

The concert was on Friday. I started the day in Victoria with a 2.5 hour walk with my other brother. I took public transit all the way to Vancouver which included three bus trips, a ferry ride and a trip on the Skytrain. After a very brisk walk around the seawall (a total of 23k for the day) and a delicious supper, I was ready for bed, not a rock concert. My heart sank a bit when my brother checked out the concert venue to discover that The Trews would not be hitting the stage until 11:00 p.m. The last time I was up this late may have been for the birth of one of my children or, more recently, to use the bathroom!

I have been to a lot of concerts in my lifetime, many of them in Vancouver back in the 70’s. My all-time favourite was Stevie Wonder. Preparing to go out on the town in your 20’s is a far cry from your 60’s. Back then, it was almost sacrilegious if you didn’t warm up with a few brews or something stronger. By the time you arrived at the venue, you would be ready to rock the night away. If the booze didn’t get you in the mood then the ever present marijuana smoke would do the trick.

On this evening, the only rocking I felt like doing was in a rocking chair. How in god’s name could I stay awake until 11:00 and then go to a concert? The answer was painfully clear. I would have to go to bed before the concert. I climbed into bed at 8:30 p.m.and set my alarm for 10:30.

“Getting dark again, getting dark again; for the second time since we got up, it’s getting dark again.” Aeslin Debison.

We set out on foot for The Commodore Ballroom at 10:45. The Commodore is a Vancouver landmark opening in the 1930s when Vancouverites danced into the night to swing orchestras. Since then, the venue has hosted everything from Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels to The Police, U2 and Nirvana.

The streets of Vancouver were relatively quiet for a Friday night. That is, until we turned a corner and arrived on Granville Street. It was as if someone had their television muted and when they unmuted it, the volume went inexplicably up to 10. Granville Street was alive and pulsating. Besides The Commodore, there are many nightclubs in this section of the city. There were lineups everywhere as it became obvious that the night was just beginning for the younger set.

We entered The Commodore and made our way up the stairs to the main ballroom. It was dark and the place appeared packed. We later found out that it was a sellout. The place holds 1000… 998 of these were rocking to the music. We lurked in the shadows at the back of the room. The Trews obviously had the audience in the palm of their hands. They pounded out the tunes one after the other in a high octane performance.

Standing there, I couldn’t help but think of the generations in our clan who have performed live music.

I cannot tell a lie. We stayed long enough to see the immense talent and energy of the band but we didn’t shut the place down. I turned to my brother and asked if he was ready to go. As if on cue, the band broke into one of its greatest and best known hits “Not Ready to Go”.

“They ain’t heavy, they’re my cousins”.

Yours Trewly.

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Thursday Tidbits

Posted on January 24, 2019 under Thursday Tidbits with one comment

Doesn’t get much better than this

 

Perfection.  /pərˈfekSH(ə)n/ the condition, state or quality of being free or as free as possible from all flaws or defects.

Initially, the thought of rousting myself out of bed at 5:00 a.m., climbing into a car and driving for three hours to go snowshoeing was not totally appealing. After all, I had left Nova Scotia on Christmas Day to come out west in an attempt to avoid wintry conditions.  I learned a long time ago that when my brother has an idea to do something adventuresome, I just say yes. Rarely has he not delivered on a promise of a good time.

The trip to Mount Washington on Vancouver Island was planned for this past Monday, the day after the blood wolf moon on Sunday night. I caught the early hours of this spectacle but was asleep when sunlight passed through the earth’s atmosphere and lit up the celestial body in dramatic fashion. However, on the trip “up Island,” we watched the giant moon do a disappearing act behind the mountains as the sun was rising behind us. At one point, we stopped the car and stood by the side of the road marvelling at the sky in front of us and behind us.

Needless to say, we were among the first people to arrive at the facility. Actually, there are several facilities catering to downhill skiers, cross country skiers and gliders, fatbikers (I’m not sure if this is the right moniker),snowmobilers and snowshoers. You could even rent gear if you wanted to take a shot at biathlon.

Mt. Washington has plenty of snow. According to their website, there was a base of some 200 centimeters of the white stuff. The sky was cloudless and deep blue, there was no wind and it was -4. It truly was a “Chamber of Commerce” kind of day.

Upon reflection, the most onerous part of the day was attaching the snowshoes to my footwear. My wonky back made it tricky to bend down to affix the three straps that would prevent me from becoming shoeless along the trail. Sometimes appearing old and helpless (a self- fulfilling prophecy) is advantageous as a young staff member wandered by to assist me.

We decided to start on an easy trail to get warmed up. Within minutes, we were meandering through old growth forests on paths perfectly groomed. The snow glistened and sparkled like diamonds. The air was pure and crisp and the silence was deafening, save for the scrunching of our snowshoes on the trail. We stopped a few times to stare in wonder…. and to catch our breath! Wanting to push ourselves, we climbed a reasonably steep section of the mountain. An audio track would have detected some serious huffing and puffing. There was one tricky spot on this trail where one had to cross a very narrow section with a precipitous drop into a ravine filled with alpine waters. I silently prayed that neither of us slipped into the abyss. I doubt that either of us could have done a lot to extract the other. Yelling would have been our only recourse.

The mountainous route took us to a frozen lake. We met a small party of people who were taking a break on a 5 hour hike. We asked a woman to take our picture. She mentioned that she had been in a dragon boat the previous day. I told her that back home in Nova Scotia, one could have been boating and snowshoeing a day apart on the weekend too  with the lovely combination of snow, freezing ice pellets, torrential rain (causing sever flooding) followed by a deep freeze.

As we made our way back to the lodge, we met an employee on cross country skis who worked at the facility.Her job? To ski all day and make sure that everyone was safe and having fun. Good work if you can get it.

It was a day to savour. We both remarked that we were feeling very grateful for being able to experience a day that could only be described as perfection.

We were understandably fatigued at the close of the day. That did not stop us from walking the dog for almost an hour before bedtime.

I sent a picture of the two intrepid snow warriors to my wife. Her comment? “That don’t impress me much.” (Thanks, Shania for planting that seed).

She sent me back a photo of the two lads from Canada who climbed Mt.Everest …with canoes on their back.

Have a great weekend and get outdoors, even if it’s canoeing in the flooded parking lot!

 

 

 

 

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