Monday Morning Musings

Posted on March 29, 2021 under Monday Morning Musings with no comments yet

Looking forward to chowder at the Dockside Cafe in Arisaig

 

The only thing constant is change.

If we needed any evidence of this truism, we certainly received it in the last year. Many people’s predictable lives were thrown into chaos with the arrival of Covid-19. While the rollout of the vaccine brings us closer to returning to some semblance of normalcy, it will be sometime yet before we can carry on daily routines without giving a second thought to the virus.

I am hurtling towards the finish line of my school year and possibly my time in the north. While I would not trade this experience for anything, I have concluded that classroom teaching for another year at the age of 70 is probably not a good option. There are many people who think teaching is a piece of cake.  There are some similarities to teaching 45 years ago, but the job description these days is much broader and more demanding in 2021. Most teachers I know are not looking for sympathy because it is a wonderful profession with good wages and benefits. Anyone who thinks teaching is easy, take a day off from your current employment and come and take charge of a classroom. Covid-19 has made the job much more demanding. Try telling a group of young children to put their masks on 100 times a day. It really does take a toll. It’s mentally and physically taxing.

I’ll put away the crying towel for a while.

There is still a chance that I might find different employment in the school, but the Leafs might win the Stanley Cup too. I’m not going to hold my breath on either one of these! I expect to be “unfriended” by all my readers who cheer for the Leafs… all two of them. The Leafs have a good team but it is hard to know how good any of the Canadian teams are this year because of the way the divisions have been set up.

I am looking at other options if I leave the north. Of course, going back to Nova Scotia and putting my feet up is not the worst of these. A summer of hiking, long walks, swimming at the beach, and eating lobsters has a very high appeal right now. However, once the batteries have been recharged, I know that I will be searching for something to do.

I have read a few articles lately about elderly people who are still going strong in their 90s. First of all, it appears that most of them have old bodies inhabited by young, vibrant minds. My mom always said that she never felt old. It certainly seems to be a state of mind. Every single one of these people interviewed said the same thing. Having a sense of purpose every day is the key to living a long and happy life.

I can’t remember if I have already mentioned this in this space, but I do have one other interesting “iron in the fire”. Mercy Ships is an organization that provides humanitarian aid on the west coast of Africa. They have two large medical ships that ply the coastline providing medical care, including surgery to the less fortunate. The ship is staffed almost entirely with volunteers from all over the world. A friend of mine brought this to my attention several months ago so, on a lark, I applied for the position of Ship’s Writer. The job would entail interviewing members of the crew who would come from very diverse backgrounds. As well, patients and their families would tell their stories too. The Ship’s Writer would chronicle the daily life aboard the ship and prepare social media posts, newsletters and other communiques.

The organization seems to be somewhat interested in this lad from small town Canada. My application is moving along and I have been approved pending a final review of my application, medical reports, qualifications etc.( God forbid that they ask any of my friends for a reference! ) Should this happen, I will then be put on the crew list. This does not mean that when the ships resume operations (literally and figuratively!) after Covid, that I will necessarily be offered the position, but at least I have a ticket. You can’t win the lottery without a ticket.

Last thing. I would hardly consider myself a voracious reader. I seem to go in fits and starts. Now that the days are longer, I’m getting out more in the evening for walks. I wonder if I will ever find the time to read the four non-fiction books that I now have on the go. I suspect that I am not the only one who suffers this affliction of too many books and too little time.

Have a great week.

 

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Thursday Tidbits

Posted on March 25, 2021 under Thursday Tidbits with 2 comments

 

A good friend to have any day of the week

 

Surely by now, most people who have read all 1204 of my posts know that I’m a pretty optimistic soul, definitely a glass half full kind of guy unless it happens to be merlot! But I do have a darker side to me and occasionally I wander down dimly lit roads. Today is one of those days so if you’re not in the mood, go and check your Instagram account.

I hate cancer.

There, I’ve said it and everyone reading today’s post feels the same way. I realize that I am one of those incredibly fortunate people who is lumped together in the cohort known as the baby boomers. Because we grew up in an unprecedented era of new births, we had lots of friends. The math worked in our favour in so many ways. But now, the seesaw is going the other way and we are losing friends in unprecedented numbers. Obituaries are popping up with shocking regularity.

I know it seems irrational to vent one’s spleen over something that they can’t see, but with every new diagnosis and every death, my wrath grows. It is so sad and frustrating to lose so many wonderful friends. Tom, Irene, JoAnn, Jean…..Sorry, but the list is too long for me to go on.

There is never a good time to lose a friend or family member but in the middle of this gawd awful pandemic, it is particularly painful. Wakes and funerals are cathartic and a way to cope with grief. Having elderly loved ones die alone must be the worst thing imaginable. Not being able to celebrate a life well lived is just plain sad.

I have spent the past several months reading a novel about Terry Fox to my students. I do this religiously every day at 1:15. The class claims to hate it, but they have learned some important lessons about Terry and the devastation of cancer. Even after all these years (he died in June of 1981), I am still inspired by his Marathon of Hope. If I thought for a moment that a long walk would cure cancer, I would start tomorrow. Some of you have seen the map of the world’s longest walk from South Africa to Siberia. It’s approximately 22,000 kilometres long. Looking at the list of countries through which one one would have to travel, a person would have to have an armed guard as a chaperone.

I saw this post the other day. The source was not available.

“Grieving is like having broken ribs. On the outside, you look fine but with every breath, it hurts.”

To those of you grieving the loss of a loved one from cancer (or from any other cause), my heart goes out to you.

Sorry, but even a humourist is allowed to be pissed off by times.

Have a great weekend.

P.S. I am not about to suffer the wrath of my readers by suggesting that the loss of a pet can be compared to that of a human being but from what I know, it is every bit as painful. I feel for you too, especially TMD on the death of your faithful companion, Luna.

 

 

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Monday Morning Musings

Posted on March 22, 2021 under Monday Morning Musings with 2 comments

 

This is what a real spring looks like – Victoria 2016

 

Spring has sprung.

Oh, really? I hadn’t noticed. When it’s -30, it’s hard to say that spring is right around the corner with a straight face. Now, I’m not complaining. By and large, the days are sunny and after the time change last week, the evenings are stretching out, allowing many of us to get out for weekdays walks, snow shoeing and cross country skiing for the first time since last October. So, while robins aren’t chirping and you can’t smell earthy aromas, we know that spring will come here soon too.

Honestly, in all my years and all my travels, the only place that I ever felt truly experienced spring was Victoria, B.C. My late brother Tom would often send us pictures of him mowing his lawn in late February or of the cherry blossoms blooming all over the city. I spent a few years in Victoria back in the 70s and got to witness a real spring. I believe that Nova Scotia at one point in its history actually had four seasons but as the cynics often say, there are only 8 months winter and four months of poor skiing. That’s not rue of course but more often than not in recent years it seems like Canada’s Ocean Playground goes from winter to summer, completely forgetting about spring. I am looking forward to seeing how spring unfolds in the north. Last year of course, we were ushered out of the province at the end of March because of Covid.

How have you managed the time change?

Last week, we “sprung ahead” one hour. I don’t ever remember this being a big deal in the past. Of course, with advancing age, there are a lot of things I can’t remember including what I had for supper last night. I see that you agree. It’s shocking that we can all sing the chorus of California Dreamin’ but can’t remember where we left the spatula after baking yesterday.

The time change hit me like a ton of bricks this year. I was in a fog most of the week. Those of you who know me well might opine that this has been a lifelong affliction. My sleep pattern was so confused that I actually had to take a morning off school last week to try and get back on track. First of all, I thought it was my age but many younger teachers and lots of students were unusually fatigued. Tired teachers and tired students are a bit of a toxic brew. I see all you current and retired teachers nodding your heads.

Do you have any idea how many coffee grounds are in a single scoop of coffee? I think about 2 million. I have been making coffee for five decades. I know how to make a single cup, a pot of coffee, and because I’m a working stiff again, I know how to prepare a thermos of coffee. A few days into my ‘spring fog’ last week, I was making coffee for work. I sat the cone filter on top of the steel thermos and started adding boiling hot water. For reasons only known to sleep deprived gods, the filter decided to tip over, pouring a half a thermos full of steaming hot coffee, along with the grounds, all over the counter, into four drawers and down the side of the kitchen counter onto the floor. No big deal. So you think? Go ahead. Try it yourself and see how many infinitesimally small grounds of coffee there are in a single scoop of coffee. I thought cleaning up molasses could test one’s patience.

I hope you have a spring in your step these days and that you shower with Irish Spring soap.

Hope springs eternal.

Have a great week.

P.S. “Big Alec” MacPherson correctly identified last week’s poem as The Windhover” by Gerard Manley Hopkins, one of the more difficult poets to comprehend in my humble estimation. Not only did Alec recruit me into the financial planning business back in the 90s, but far more importantly, he taught me how to play hearts and bridge in the basement of the library when we were at university. I was not an academic all star as my friends know, but I can play passable bridge! Alec will receive a copy of one of my books. Maybe we can meet in the basement of the library to do the exchange, Alec ,and then go to Piper’s to talk about our take home exams back in the spring (!) of 1971.

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