Thursday Tidbits

Posted on July 23, 2020 under Thursday Tidbits with no comments yet

 

One of my many hikes with Pete

 

What I did on my Coronavirus vacation.

I’m heading back to school next week. You remember when you were a child, there was a great deal of anticipation about the return to school. You knew you were going to get to meet up with your friends. There would be some butterflies as you and your mom went shopping for back to school supplies. In our part of the world, it also signaled the arrival of the Exhibition or what is affectionately known as the Fall Fair. Invariably, on the first day back, your teacher would ask you to write an essay summarizing your summer holidays.

I am not making light of the pandemic when I refer to the last four months as a vacation but for a handful of us, this hiatus from the normal rhythm of life, provided an opportunity to do some interesting things.

Like so many others travelling back home in March, I experienced self-isolation for the first time. Truly, it wasn’t a hardship for me whatsoever. Family, neighbors , and friends couldn’t do enough for me. Other than not being able to go for walks, being in quarantine was a mild inconvenience.

In the time given to me, I was able to write a book, produce 50 episodes of a live Facebook show called Pillow Talk, take care of some estate planning matters, and learn the art of making cream pies.

I took part in educational Zoom meetings taking Mindfulness training. Other Zoom meetings were an opportunity to connect with family in various parts of the country. Even though we were apart, we learned to connect in a new way.

The real gift for me was a chance to spend time every day with my son, Peter. Once the notion of the “family bubble” became a reality, we walked or hiked 6 out of 7 days, usually followed up by a cold beverage or a meal. Rarely at this stage in life, do we have the chance to spend quality time with our children.

I got to reconnect with an old school mate, Keith Currie, a talented artist who painted an original piece of art for me. Social media kept me connected with friends around the globe. For the better part of two months, I had a weekly Whatsapp video call with my friend Enrica who lives in Bergamo, Italy, once the epicenter of coronavirus.

I’m still amazed that at an advanced age, I continue to meet new people including the Purcells and the Bonvies who I met at Cape George Point on one of my long walks.

I sat on the deck of a cottage overlooking Lochaber Lake chatting with an old friend and had lunch on another occasion with the irrepressible Merle Taylor.

The greatest lesson I learned over recent months is the importance of essential workers. I think most of us have always appreciated those folks working in the health care sector. Especially during this pandemic, they have put their own lives on the line every day. However, this crisis has shown us that many often overlooked and underappreciated workers who keep our facilities clean and our grocery shelves stocked, are to be respected if not revered.

The pandemic has caused death, illness, anxiety, untold family pressure, financial hardship, dislocation, and isolation. It has also brought many people closer together and made us realize that the simple things in life are to be cherished.

I think I can say that I am a reasonably optimistic person but I feel like we are still in the early innings of this health crisis and that things are not going to be normal for some time to come. This does not mean that life as we know it has gone forever. We have a new normal in front of us and we can either curl up in a ball and worry ourselves sick or see it as an opportunity to move forward in a different way.

Have a great weekend.

P.S. One of Antigonish’s most beloved citizens has died. Hamish MacGillivray was a fixture on Main Street for decades. Here is a story I wrote about Hamish a few years ago. https://www.week45.com/a-helping-of-hamish/

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Monday Morning Musings

Posted on July 20, 2020 under Monday Morning Musings with no comments yet

Book launch this evening

(Pete MacDonald photo)

 

I will be hosting a virtual book launch this evening at 7:30 p.m. on a live Facebook broadcast.

Last May, I did a big 713 kilometer walk across Spain. It was truly one of the greatest experiences of my life. I met people from all over the world and all walks of life. When I returned home in early June, I continued to do some long walks just to keep in shape. This is when the idea of walking the Cabot Trail started to formulate in my head.

The Cabot Trail is one of the truly great treasures of our province. It is 300 kilometers of verdant valleys and rugged mountains. A good portion of the trail hugs the ocean. The vistas are spectacular.  While this area of Cape Breton boasts some 25 hiking trails, walking on the highway is not one of them! I have driven the Cabot Trail dozens and dozens of times. Why would anyone in their right mind walk the Trail on roads that are heavily travelled and with very limited shoulders in many places? Good question!

On July 11th of 2019, Simone MacDonald, a much loved cashier at the local Sobey’s grocery store, suffered a devastating stroke. This was so sad as Simone was such an active person in her own right. I decided to try and raise a few dollars to assist her in the aftermath of the stroke. This is when I decided that I would dedicate my walk around the Cabot Trail to Simone. Prior to my departure on August 24th, 2019, staff members at the local Arts House manufactured a cape with Simone’s name on it. I attached it to my backpack and off I went.

The Long and Winding Road: Walking the Cabot Trail chronicles the events of my 10 day walk of 300 kilometers.

The book has three distinct features. Obviously a part of the narrative is my own thoughts and feelings about my days on the Trail. Secondly, I met many amazing people who showed me kindness. When I set out, I hadn’t booked any accommodations and it didn’t take long to experience legendary Cape Breton hospitality as individuals and businesses opened their doors to me. Virtually all of my meals were given to me gratis. In addition to these acts of generosity, several people pulled off the road to give me a donation for Simone. We managed to raise close to $10,000. The book includes interviews with local people and tourists as well.

The third aspect of the book that some people will find interesting is the inclusion of local history. Although I had travelled through places like Margaree Forks, Cheticamp, Pleasant Bay, Cape North and Ingonish during my lifetime, I didn’t know much of the history of these places. I enlisted the help of local historians who contributed written pieces for my book, for which I am extremely grateful.

The book is a short, quick read at 120 pages but it is packed with information that I hope you will enjoy.

At the launch this evening, I will read a few passages from the book. I hope you can join me.

Copies of my book are available from me. You can also get them at the 5 to $1.00 and The Whale Interpretive Centre in Pleasant Bay. Later this week, it will also be available on Amazon. I also have a limited time offer (until I leave for the North on July 27th). You can buy a box set of my six books for $50, a 45% saving. I have ten left and they are going fast. A Christmas present for someone?!

Have a great week.

P.S. Last Saturday, I had dinner with all my siblings. After this, I had a chance to do a live Facebook show with Peter and Betsy. If you want to hear a bunch of great old tunes, check out Pete’s music page on Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/petemacdonaldmusic It was a great evening spent with family.

P.P.S. I plan to do one last Pillow Talk later in the week. Stay tuned.

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Thursday Tidbits

Posted on July 16, 2020 under Thursday Tidbits with no comments yet

The sunset years

(Pete MacDonald photo)

 

“Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”

Quick question.

How long are you going to live?

Will you make it to 60? 70? 80? 90? 100? 110?

What are the odds of you surviving forever?

This is pretty heady stuff for Week45. You’re used to a pretty steady diet of the trivial and the mundane. Most of the 1127 stories I’ve posted to date are lighthearted. They are (mercifully) short and easily digestible. My guess is that, on average, it takes my readers less than a third of a cup of coffee to get through one of my posts. Very rarely do I delve into the serious, or god forbid, the philosophical but just to keep you on your toes and to prevent ennui, I occasionally throw in the odd curve ball.

Today is one of those times.

I just updated my Will, Power of Attorney, and Personal Directive.                    

Ok. You can hit the snooze button or go and watch The Sopranos. If you’re a reader, might I suggest “Where the Crawdads Sing”. I have given you options.

Unless you beat astronomical odds, you will die someday.

Disclaimer: I am NOT a lawyer.

I am going to use this space today to have a little chat about estate planning. No. I’m not suggesting you purchase 1000 acres of land and build a “Southfork” style mansion and ranch. Cue the Dallas theme music.

Preparing for life’s inevitabilities is one of those unselfish acts. It’s really not about you. It’s about your family and those you care about. Hopefully you will grow old gracefully and die in the departure lounge of an airport, heading off to some exotic location. “And I was thinking to myself, this could be heaven, or this could be hell”. (Hotel California – The Eagles)!

A will is a legal document that sets forth your wishes regarding the distribution of your property at the time of your death. This could include things like real estate, investments, life insurance proceeds, or prized possessions. If you die without a will, this is known as intestacy in which case your assets then become the responsibility of a probate court. Most people I know would rather decide on how their worldly possessions are handled than a court. Speaking of prized possessions, I am quite certain that my heirs will not fight over my two guitars, my Boston Marathon medals, or my food saver. Well, maybe the food saver!

There are certain events that usually cause someone to consider getting a will. An impending marriage, the birth of a child, starting a new business, selling a business, separation and divorce, the death of a spouse, or a health scare. The list is much longer but you get the point. You can prepare a “do it yourself” will with a will kit or get a lawyer to do it. But as Nike says “Just do it”.

While a will is a vital part of an estate plan, a Power of Attorney (POA) is equally important. Let’s face it, when you die, you won’t have to deal with the aftermath. A POA is a legal document that you sign to give one or more persons the authority to manage your money and property on your behalf… while you’re still alive and kicking. Most often, but not always, a POA is used when a person is no longer mentally or physically competent to handle their own affairs. I personally believe that most of us would like to choose someone we trust with this important task. If you don’t appoint someone, it will be decided for you. In some cases, the person who ends up with this duty is not necessarily the person you would have chosen if you were of sound mind and sound body. While I believe everyone should have a POA, single people, especially single people with children might want to consider this.

A Personal Directive is a written document in which you give someone the power to make decisions about your personal care should you become unable to make these decisions yourself. This could include matters of health care, nursing home admittance, and end of life issues. This is another very important document. You want to be secure in the knowledge that if your health fails, you have someone you trust who will make important decisions for you. Again, without this document, you are at the mercy and goodwill of family or friends.

Have you had enough? I thought so but every once in a while, it’s worthwhile to deal with things that make us feel a tad uncomfortable like facing our golden years and our mortality.

As someone once said, the only thing golden about the golden years is the color of your pee!

Have a great weekend… if I haven’t depressed you too much!

P.S. On a lighter note. I went for my annual medical checkup yesterday. Apparently I’m firing on all cylinders. I was cringing waiting to hear the results of my cholesterol level. After nearly four months of unrestrained eating and the odd beer and glass of wine (!), my cholesterol went DOWN! May I recommend coconut cream pie rather than Crestor!!!

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