Monday Morning Musings

Posted on June 29, 2020 under Monday Morning Musings with 3 comments

 

Tom and mom. Two people who continue to inspire me

 

“We all die. The goal isn’t to live forever. The goal is to create something that will.”

Chuck Palahniuk

I try my best not to watch too much television but during the pandemic, my guess is that most of us have watched more t.v. than we have in some time. The news is dominated with heavy doses of Covid-19 reporting, systemic racism issues (north and south of the border) and the endless circus of politics in many countries. Occasionally we catch a glimmer of hope amid the seeming endless chaos and despair with stories of hope, compassion, and love.

CBC’s The National, has a short segment at the end of many of their nightly newscasts featuring the life of someone who had died of the virus. Last week I saw the story of man whose roots are in India who taught school in Nova Scotia for many years. His son spoke lovingly and proudly of his amazing dad who threw himself into numerous charitable endeavors in retirement. When asked, in his 80s, why he kept such a frenetic pace. He responded that he had one life to live and planned to get the most out of it. The son feels inspired to carry on with this same attitude.

Last fall, I ventured up north to teach. I was dealing with some personal issues and arrived in a community that has had its share of trauma. I don’t mind admitting that I struggled mightily. Three people kept me (relatively!) grounded during the most difficult days when darkness enveloped me and bitter winter winds blew.

Very often I thought of my late mother. Quit wasn’t a word found in her vocabulary. There were many days that I thought I couldn’t go on. Mom would be sitting on my shoulder telling me to “finish what you start.” Perched on the other shoulder, was my late brother Tom. I would think to myself, “What would Tom do?” I knew damn well what he would do. He would throw himself into the situation with every fiber of his being.

The third leg of my three- legged stool was my brother in Vancouver who called me every Saturday to listen to my ranting.

Dying is mysterious business. Most of us by now have experienced death firsthand in our family or extended family. Those of us left behind are tasked with processing death in our own unique way.

I must say that I intensely dislike the way the term “closure” is bandied about by so many people. I looked up this word and found the following: Closure means being normal, getting back to your old self, no longer crying or being affected by death. It means moving on with life and leaving the past behind, even to the extent of forgetting it or ignoring it.

To all that I say a resounding BULLSHIT.

I believe that the greatest way to honor a loved one is to not only remember them but to emulate them. Take all their positives and carry their spirit forward. They have given us a parting gift, one that we eagerly unwrap each and every day… a form of re-gifting, without having to use wrapping paper! They give us courage when we are fearful. They lift us up when we fall. They give us energy when we feel that we can’t take another step. They make us laugh when we feel sad.

During my brother’s 10 -year siege with cancer he often said that he wasn’t afraid of dying. He was afraid of not living. He squeezed every ounce out the final decade of his life.

To honor those who have gone before me…

I hope to do more and give more.

I want to be a difference maker even in the smallest of ways.

I want to be positive and cheerful.

Care to join me?

“I guess it’s not what you take when you leave this world behind you,

It’s what you leave behind you when you go.”

Three Wooden Crosses – Randy Travis

Have a great week.

 

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Thursday Tidbits

Posted on June 25, 2020 under Thursday Tidbits with no comments yet

Practicing physical distancing in the early days of the Coronavirus

 

Bubble Buddies.

Coronavirus has done much to keep friends and families apart but in strange ways, like Facebook “Live” shows, Zoom and Facetiming, we may have done more communicating than ever before, albeit in a  new way. For three and a half months we have been encouraged to stay home. In the early days, the measures imposed by health authorities kept us at home hugging our fridges rather than our loved ones. Then came family bubbles and things started to change slowly and imperceptibly.

My son, Peter, arrived home in mid-March after spending a good part of the winter performing a solo music act on a cruise ship in the Caribbean. I came home from northern Quebec at the end of March when my school year ended abruptly. We both went into self-isolation and emerged from our caves in mid- April. We unofficially became a bubble and started spending time together, most of it in the outdoors.

Peter and I have spent a lot of time together over the years. We have done some epic road trips across Canada and the United States. My third book, “Tales, Trails and Tunes” chronicles some of these adventures. Spending countless hours in a car, motels and restaurants, we got to know each other well… maybe too well if you ask Pete! While both of us have the gift of the gab, we also learned that long periods of silence are perfectly acceptable.

It started harmlessly enough. In April, we started doing a few walks which led to a few hikes. While I haven’t kept a tally, I’m guessing we walked or hiked 6 out of every 7 days since then. While I have done some hiking in and around Antigonish County over the years, this was all new terrain for Pete. He discovered that Antigonish has many great hiking options. There were days that one or both of us didn’t feel like walking or hiking but we would push each other to get our ass in gear. We never regretted it.

Similar to road trips, long walks and hikes have their share of banter but much of the time has been spent with our own thoughts.

Peter is smart like his mother. He is musical like his sisters. I think he may have inherited his quirky sense of humour from his father! Luckily, the forests and glens don’t have recording devices to capture some of the zany conversations we have had. We would be walking along when something would come up that elicited a funny comment. The conversation would then go off in a bizarre tangent bordering on the ridiculous. I think we could easily write sitcoms together. To wit: after our ill fated hike in the woods at Ballantyne’s Cove where we were savaged with ticks, I mentioned to Pete that we should go down to the wharf now that Fish and Ships has opened for the season (world class fish and chips). His retort, “We can go for fish and ticks”!

Rarely does any one in sports or any walk of life record perfection. Ted Williams is acknowledged as the greatest hitter of all time in baseball recording a career batting average of .344. This means that two thirds of the time, Ted went down swinging. I am happy to report that Pete and I batted a perfect .1000 when it came to “apres walk/hike” activity. On every single occasion, we retired for a cold beer, first in my apartment (with appropriate social distancing) and lately at one of the restaurants that have re-opened after a long hiatus.

On Monday, we did a big hike at Keppoch, first going to the top of the mountain, then making our way to White Rock where we enjoyed a lifesaving swim in the cool waters of the Ohio River. It was a very muggy afternoon. Keeping our streak intact, we went to Boston Pizza and had a beer and some nachos on the patio. It was a gorgeous evening and such a pleasure to see lots of smiling, happy people.

We were quite enamored with the nachos and I wondered aloud if it was possible for me to write an entire 600 -word story about nachos. I have written more words on less substantive topics! This led to one of our “off the wall” conversations. Once again, I can only hope that BP doesn’t have recording devices embedded under the tabletops. Stay tuned. I may write this piece yet. Will the chicken in the nachos be plain or spicy? I bet you can hardly wait!

In a few weeks’ time, we will be heading in different directions as we try to resume a normal life, whatever in the hell that is.

I have been honored to have the best “bubble buddy” one could imagine.

If only we weren’t so foolish!

Have a great weekend.

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Monday Morning Musings

Posted on June 22, 2020 under Monday Morning Musings with 2 comments

 

Halifax Public Gardens

 

 

“There’s a reason that I love this town.”

I Love This Town – Joel Plaskett

After weeks (months) of writing about serious matters like Black Lives Matters and Coronavirus, I am taking a breather, literally and figuratively. Despite the easing of restrictions in Nova Scotia, a welcome relief, things are far from normal. Being able to get outside in the fine weather is probably the best medicine. Most of us are still spending an inordinate amount of time in our homes.

So when I got the chance for a road trip to Halifax to drop off a vehicle at the airport for a family member coming to the province, I jumped at the chance to get out of town and spend some time in one of my favourite cities, Halifax.

After a brief stop at the airport, my son and I drove into the city, crossing the MacDonald Bridge, a bridge I had run across numerous times taking part in the Bluenose Marathon runs. You wouldn’t notice this in a car, but the bridge has some serious elevation changes.

I was deposited at The Old Triangle Irish Alehouse on the corner of Prince and Granville. It was a very hot day, but I was fortunate to get a table in the shade on one of the outdoor patios. I spent a pleasant hour hanging out with my sister as we got caught up on the news. The beer was cold, there was a lovely warm breeze, and physical distancing was in evidence.

We took a stroll down to the waterfront. We entered the waterfront area near Stayners, a local watering hole and venue for live music, and sadly, a casualty of the pandemic. We headed north along the promenade and it was eerily quiet. If this were any other time, you would be fighting massive crowds. We retraced our steps and went back into the heart of the city doing a mini walking tour. There were small groups of people here and there, but the usual hustle and bustle of the city was missing. A case in point, my sister had no trouble finding a parking spot in the downtown core.

We said our goodbyes and I headed back down to the waterfront, this time walking in a southerly direction. Not surprisingly, this part of the waterfront was busier, a relative term. Most of the food stalls and restaurants were open but very few of the souvenir stands, small businesses, or the Visitor Information Centre. I wandered into the Map Store hoping to secure a large wall map for my classroom in northern Quebec. I was greeted warmly by two staff members who seemed overjoyed to see a customer. Not surprisingly, their business has suffered greatly only re-opening recently. With travel anywhere in the world quite restricted, maps are yet another casualty of the pandemic. Staycations are likely to be popular this summer.

I grabbed some tasty home cut fries and sat at a table, people-watching. The harbour was quite busy with several pleasure crafts and sailboats plying the waters. There were small clusters of people here and there and everyone seemed to be smiling – and why wouldn’t they! It was one of those truly glorious afternoons.

I wandered up Spring Garden Road heading towards the Public Gardens.I love this street. It has always had a vibe since I started coming to Halifax almost 60 years ago. There were a lot of pedestrians and vehicular traffic. If you didn’t know better, you might have thought that this was just another typical day in the city. It was a good feeling. Anything resembling normal these days is cherished.

After all of this walking (and the salty cut fries!) I was ready for another brew. Seeking an outdoor venue, I entered Stillwell Beer Gardens. The tables were safely spaced, with umbrellas to ward off the heat of the afternoon. I was wearing a wide brimmed hat and carrying a large wall map of the world. I admit that I must have looked even nerdier than usual. I opted for an IPA called Two Crows after which I took flight for the Public Gardens just a few paces away.

I love the Public Gardens. It is a serene and beautiful space in the heart of Halifax. I took a bench and sat, watching young people taking selfies, and old people pacing slowly,consuming nature’s beauty- the youth thinking about days to come and the elderly thinking about days past. I am often hit with bouts of nostalgia at times like this. I don’t want to be young again and I don’t want to grow old. This is a conundrum that many seniors deal with on a fairly regular basis. At least I do.

I walk through the gardens taking pictures, but photos really don’t do justice. You have to be present, taking in all the sensory stimulation, to truly appreciate these magnificent grounds.

There’s a reason I love this town.

Have a great week.

P.S. Some people believe that there is “no cure for stupid”. I disagree. The cure for stupid is being smart. Just over two weeks ago, our community held a peace rally for Black Lives Matter. Many people like me were leery about attending but decided that we had to attend. This unleashed vitriol on social media. According to reports, there hasn’t been a single case of Covid-19 arising from the event. The organizers took great care and caution as did the 4,000 who took part.

 

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