Library Presentation

Posted on March 30, 2019 under News & Updates with no comments yet

Join me today (Saturday, March 30th)| from 12-2:00 at People’s Place Library. I will be giving away copies of my first three books for free. Donations to Friends of Antigonish Library gratefully accepted.

I’ll  read a few stories and talk a bit about writing, publishing and marketing of books for any would be authors.

Hope you can join us.

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The Longest Day

Posted on March 28, 2019 under Storytelling with 4 comments

Thanks to the yearbook staff (1976) at SAJH for the picture and to Gerard MacDonald for posting this photo a few days ago which resulted in this flashback.

We’ve all had them.

Have you ever had one of those days when you wondered if it would ever end? I’ve witnessed labour and delivery of a child.  Four to be exact. Surely this is one of the greatest tests of endurance and perseverance. Writing final exams would be high on my personal list, especially when we wrote provincial exams in high school where your entire year was riding on the results. Anybody who has traveled from North America to far flung places like Australia or India can attest to utter exhaustion after 40 hours of cars, buses and planes.

While weddings are mostly joyous occasions, it can test the boundaries of patience.  Completing the Boston Marathon is another example of a very long day, especially when you haven’t slept the previous 48 hours wondering if you could do it.

A three hour root canal is right up there too.

Most people of my vintage have had at least one (?) altercation with alcohol and came out on the losing end.

The year was 1976. After a less than stellar performance during my undergraduate years, I went back to university to get a Bachelor of Education. I took the secondary program and made some lifelong friends who toiled with me to learn how to become  English teachers. It was a memorable year. Especially the last day.

When I did my undergraduate degree, I didn’t stick around for graduation so I missed all of the grad week functions. Speaking of long days, is there anything longer and duller than sitting through graduation exercises? So when grad week came along in May of 1976, I took in all of the festivities.

I had done my practice teaching at St.Andrew Junior High. (SAJH) It was a great school and my supervising teacher (KF) was a gem. Prior to graduation, I had secured a commitment for a full time teaching assignment in the Peace River country of Alberta in September. With a newly polished degree tucked under my arm, I decided to put my name on the substitution list in Antigonish to see if I could pick up a few days of paid teaching before heading out west.

I remember the graduation clearly but the ensuing 12 hours is a bit of a blur. We danced and we drank but mostly we drank. At 6:00 a.m. the morning after convocation, a handful of my buddies and me were perched on the very top row of the grandstands at Oland Stadium. The sun was coming up.

Luckily I only lived a short distance from my mother’s home where I was living at the time. I crawled home around and was fast asleep by 6:30.

“Wake up. Wake up. You have to teach today.” Was this a voice from Hades? No. It was my mother. “I just had a call from St.Andrew Junior High and they want you to come to work,” is what I thought I heard through a boozy haze. I was tempted to say that I had already been offered a contract in the fall but mom was quick to point out that she told the principal that I would be there in 20 minutes. I recoiled in horror.

I had the quickest shower on record and struck out across the same turf that I had trod less than two hours ago. SAJH was just a stone’s throw from the football stadium. As I was walking past the stadium, I glanced up and could see a row of beer bottles on the top row of the bleachers, an honour guard of sorts.

I made my way to the principal’s office. Staggering might be more apt as I was still well over acceptable breathalyzer levels. Through bloodshot eye, I listened in wonderment and I heard the principal say the following: “You will be instructing the sheet metal class today.”

My English methods course during my education year consisted of writing, grammar, methods, philosophy and measurement. There was never a mention of sheet metal.

I’m not very good with my hands when I’m sober and alert. Putting me in a room with young adolescents and dangerous equipment while intoxicated sounded like a recipe for disaster. I thought of the doctors’ Hippocratic Oath: “Primum non nocere. First, do no harm.” Luckily, the young people in this class were right in their element and didn’t need me. I tried not to breathe on anyone and was forced to consume several cups of coffee throughout the day to maintain consciousness.

Normally when the bell rings at the end of the day, it is the students who are most joyous. On this day, one of the longest in my life, the sound of the bell was akin to a boxing ring at the end of a twelve round bout. I felt beat up but somehow survived.

It was an inauspicious beginning to my teaching career.

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Monday Morning Musings

Posted on March 25, 2019 under Monday Morning Musings with one comment

Free books all this week at People’s Place Library

 

 

“I’ve seen the grand old opry, and I’ve met Johnny Cash,

If that ain’t country, I’ll kiss your ass.”

David Allan Coe – If That Ain’t Country

Country and western music is making a big comeback.

Whoa!

According to C&W fans it never went away. Country and Western music wasn’t at the top of my playlist back in the 60s. Actually, there was no such thing as a playlist or Spotify back then. You bought the latest 45 and wore out Side 1. More often than not it was the latest release from The Beatles.

Our local radio station, CJFX, played contemporary music (the “Hit Parade” with John a Go Go mostly in the evenings) and also had a show for classical music lovers. But it was at the suppertime hour that “The Old Timer” played mostly country tunes. Hard core fans could get a daily dose of Patsy Kline, Loretta Lynn, George Jones, Jim Reeves, Tammy Wynette and Charlie Pride and many more. And of course, they played a lot of Cape Breton fiddle music. (Scottish Strings)

It wasn’t that I didn’t like country music back then. There were just too many great bands and artists playing at that time.

My personal renaissance with country and western music has come from the most unlikely source: a nursing home. I play music there on a regular basis. Most of the music I perform is comprised of war era tunes and spiritual songs. At least it was at the beginning until I began getting repeated requests for Hank Snow and Hank Williams and a host of other C&W legends. My song book (playlist!)  now includes classics like “Crystal Chandeliers”, “Wings of a Dove” and “Ring of Fire”. I’m also learning a ton of more recent hits like “Daddy’s Hands” and “Lord I’m Waiting, I’m Ready to go Home”.

It took me a very long time (almost 68 years) to see the appeal for this style of music. The lyrics are generally stated simply. Nobody is going to take “Stand by Your Man”, play it backwards on their tape deck (while inhaling legal weed) and get some bizarre meaning. Most of the songs involve “hurtin” or “cheatin’”. The music is not overly complex. There are rarely more than four chords. The harmonies are straight ahead.

I guess you can say that I’m a late convert to the genre.

Speaking of getting one’s ass kicked, do you find that Facebook just becomes weirder and more aggravating with every passing day? Like many others, I’m on the cusp of declaring perpetual lent and giving up on this particular social media site. Initially, it was a great tool to keep in touch with friends but now it has become one giant trash can. Any mention of anything causes an ad to appear within 24 hours trying to get you to buy something.

The other day, an ad for a Brazilian Butt Lift appeared on my feed. You don’t know what that is? Apparently if your buns are not just the right shape, you can get them altered. The BBL (is this like BFF?) is a specialized fat transfer that augments the size and shape of your buttocks without implants. (I didn’t know that a person could get a buttock implant. Might this give a person a shitty outlook on life?) Excess fat is removed from the hips, abdomen, lower back or thighs with liposuction and a portion of this fat is then strategically injected into the buttocks. But hey, if you’re not happy with your current butt, you can make this transformational change for as little as $10,000. A sure fire cure for plumber’s butt? I think not.

“If that ain’t country, I’ll kiss your surgically altered, Brazilian Butt Lift”ass. Maybe I’ll write my own C&W song about this.

Free books.

All this week (Mar.25-30), I will be giving away copies of my first three books at People’s Place Library. It’s a fundraiser for Friends of Antigonish Library (FOAL). FOAL is a fundraising organization that provides funds to our local library for many of the essentials. Chronic underfunding of libraries is a serious issue in this province. So please feel free to come by and grab a book or two. If you are able and would like to, you can make a donation to FOAL.

At the end of the week on Saturday March 30th, I will be at People’s Place from 12:00 -2:00 to read a few stories, sing a tune or two, talk about writing and book publishing and signing books.

Have a great week.

Enjoy this? Visit the rest of my website to enjoy more of my work or buy my books!
Highland Hearing Clinic
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