Monday Morning Musings

Posted on April 12, 2021 under Monday Morning Musings with 3 comments

 

Old hippies never die. They just lose their hair.

 

I’m in the home stretch.

By the time some of you read this, I hope to be winging my way back north to complete the school year. Because school starts in early August in the north, it also finishes early, in late May. It is all still a blur and before I know it, I will be back in my apartment in Antigonish hunkering down for my fourth quarantine. Unless something changes at the last minute, my time in the north will come to a close.

My regular readers know that, deep down, I’m an old softy who spends way too much time reveling in the good old days. Nostalgia could well be my middle name.

My first trip To Victoria was in the spring of 1972 (49 years ago -yikes!) after completing my junior year at St.F.X. I decided to come out for the summer to hang out with one of my brothers who was living there at the time. With absolute clarity, I remember stepping off the ferry from Vancouver and being picked up by my brother for the 35 -minute drive into the city. Cresting a hill at Royal Oak, I saw the majestic snow capped Olympic mountains for the first time on a sun dappled day. The love affair was instantaneous. I got a job driving forklift at a furniture warehouse and met some great people who became lifelong friends.

Over the ensuing decades, I made many trips back to Victoria. To this day, it remains a magical place to me and is truly one of the most beautiful cities that I have seen in my travels.

My most recent trip was very special. Despite some misgivings about travelling during Covid (and suffering the wrath of some readers who gave me a serious dressing down for my reckless behaviour), I came to Victoria to rest but mostly to remember.

Prior to this trip, I came to Victoria in December of 2018 to spend Christmas with my late brother Tom. I stayed for the better part of two months. During that time, we walked hundreds and hundreds of kilometers along with Tom’s trusty sidekick, Oslo. Tom knew and loved every square inch of the city, especially the trails.

He had an army of friends, many who became my friends.

I decided on this trip to try and walk as many of the trails that the three of us had walked before. Sadly, Oslo, Tom and Catherine’s beloved Golden, died just a few months before Tom. For the past 8 days, I have walked and walked and walked some more. I also took the time to meet with as many of Tom’s friends and family who were able and willing to meet with me. I also had the pleasure of meeting some new friends , who , for reasons that leave me puzzled (!) have become Week45 readers. Thanks to IC and MG for the warm welcome.

The weather was perfect all week so arranging socially distanced back yard get togethers was easy.

Pete accompanied me on most of my walks and visits. We quaffed a few Stella’s together and shared many fine meals.

My Air B&B was conveniently located in James Bay, a stone’s throw from the Inner Harbour, the legislature and the downtown core. Just around the corner from my rental was a restaurant on Belleville Street called “Belleville’s Premium Quality Watering Hole and Diner”. Because my accommodations did not include cooking facilities, I was forced to eat all of my meals at restaurants. A few days prior to my arrival in B.C. the province shut down indoor dining. Luckily, Belleville’s has a very large patio with well spaced tables and propane heaters at virtually every table. It’s spring here and although everything is in bloom, the temperatures are cool… not quite as cold as Kangiqsujuaq, mind you! The first meal I had was excellent and from that point on, I decided to consume all my meals here knowing their strict protocols were being followed carefully. The music playing in the background was mostly 60s and 70s with a bit of Green Day thrown in for good measure. At the far end of the patio was a huge mural with scenes from the hippie era. While dining there a few days ago, they were adding a few more panels to the mural. Two local artists (“Long haired, freaky people” Do you know the tune?) were supervising the installation of their work. I got quite caught up in the vibe and in short order had the owner of the restaurant, the artists and the carpenters laughing heartily looking at my grad photo … the one with my huge afro.

Will the “summer of love” ever die? Not likely as long as the Boomers are around.

Groovy. Far out, man.

“Will ye no come back again”? I certainly hope so.

Have a great week.

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Thursday Tidbits

Posted on April 8, 2021 under Thursday Tidbits with 2 comments

Weir Beach

 

“I want to run wild and live life to the fullest… but I also want to be in bed by 9:00 p.m.”

L.P. A friend of a friend.

A few days ago, while vacationing in Victoria, I received a dinner invitation. When I was asked what time would suit me best, I cheekily suggested 4:00 p.m. I was joking, of course… sort of. You see, with the three- hour time difference between B.C. and Quebec, we would actually be dining at 7:00 p.m. I know that is warped logic but when you’re travelling through time zones, you’re always making these kinds of calculations.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I had a helluva time this year adjusting to the time change. I thought it might be attributed to living in the north but the more likely conclusion is that damn aging thing again. Everything seems just a bit more challenging when you’ve been stomping around the planet for nearly 70 years. So, it came as no surprise to me that flying west last week, kicked the crap out of me with the time zone change.

The first night, I managed to stay awake until 8:00 p.m Victoria time (11:00 p.m. Kangiqsujuaq time). I had been on the go for 18 hours that day. At precisely 2:30 a.m. I woke out of a dead sleep. Yup. My inner clock said “rise and shine”. I normally get up at 5:30 in the morning. Mercifully, I was able to get two more hours of sleep.

In the best of times, finding a 24- hour diner serving breakfast can be a bit tricky. During a global pandemic, I would have a better chance of finding the Oak Island gold treasure chest. With no cooking facilities in my B&B, my options were limited. The night before, I had dined with Peter at a restaurant, crawling distance from my accommodations.  I had a spicy rice bowl chicken thingy, and the serving size was befitting of a lumberjack. My B&B does have a small bar fridge and a coffee maker (two of the essentials) so I was able to doggy bag the considerable amount of leftovers and put them in the fridge.

Do you know what it’s like eating cold spicy rice bowl chicken thingy at 4:30 a.m. washed down with a steaming cup of Folger’s coffee? It was fantastic of course because beggars can’t be choosers and I have seen enough poverty in my travels to realize that my breakfast fare would be a meal fit for a king in certain parts of the world.

Speaking of lumberjacks, I received a message on my Week45 site the other day which led to an interesting exchange of e-mails. It’s not that I have a staggering number of readers that I don’t know but once in a while, I’ll see a comment and have no idea who’s messaging me. I try and respond to all my messages even though I often don’t receive them in the north with the questionable (?!) internet service.

It so happens that this gentleman is married to someone that I worked with about 150 years ago. He has a keen sense of humour. This line in his message broke me up: “I believe we have, according to J., (his wife) a great deal in common other than just rugged good looks, ripped abs, devastating charm and rapier wit.”

Now, I could probably write an entire page refuting all of this. I might be able to make the case that I have a certain degree of wit (and width these days) but as for rugged good looks, ripped abs, and devastating charm? Sorry, my friend. I’m delusional but only to a degree.

I’m happy to report that I have slowly adapted to the time change… just in time to fly back north and go through it all again.

Have a great weekend.

P.S. On a serious note, my neighbours back home in Antigonish, Shane and Stacey, suffered a devastating fire and lost everything. They and their two children are going to need a lot of help. Please consider sending a donation to this GoFund account and keep your eyes out for a fundraiser being organized by my daughter, Betsy at Piper’s Pub. https://www.gofundme.com/f/lost-home-and-all-belongings-in-fire. I’ll match your donations up to $250. If you don’t like GoFund me, e-transfer the money to me and I will see that Shane and Stacy receive it. Thanks a lot. (lenpdmacdonald@gmail.com)

Shane and Stacey have been good neighbours. They have a trampoline in their back yard. All three of my granddaughters have spent countless hours there.

 

 

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Monday Morning Musings

Posted on April 5, 2021 under Monday Morning Musings with no comments yet

The crown jewel of Victoria. Hint. It’s not me!

 

“Lord, I was born a ramblin’man,

Tryin to make a livin’ and doin the best I can,

And when it’s time for leavin’ I hope you’ll understand,

That I was born a ramblin’ man.

Ramblin’ Man – Allman Brothers

I wasn’t going to mention this for fear of losing the few remaining friends that I have left. This will unquestionably raise a few eyebrows and elicit some sneers of derision. But one of the joys of being a senior is that, with advanced age, you start to care less of what people think about you. The only person that really worries me is the undertaker.

It is Spring Break at our school. I have been in the north for eight months without a break. Remember, the only way in and out of my village is by plane. I could not go home for Christmas because it would have been sheer folly to spend my entire Christmas holidays in quarantine only to return to the north and do two more weeks of the same. While I thoroughly enjoyed “Christmas in Kangiqsujuaq”, I have been feeling the need to get away.

I decided to travel out west to visit my son, Peter.

“You did what, you silly ass? Aren’t you aware that there is a third wave of the pandemic going on in Canada and around the world? Haven’t you heard every health official tell people to stay home and avoid all but essential travel? With every passing day, more provinces are going back into some form of lockdown.”

Ok. My internet has been working well lately. I know about all these things and the Raptors long losing streak. Get out the violins. I don’t know if mental fatigue  rates as essential travel but that’s what I’m going with. I have consulted a few doctors and nurses that I respect. I wasn’t looking for their blessing, but I did want to know if I was being careless and selfish. I had the Moderna vaccine four weeks ago and according to the most recent data, it appears the efficacy rate is north of 90%. What I have learned from these doctors and nurses (and reading respected medical journals) is that my chances of contracting Covid are slim and my chances of passing along Covid to someone else are also small.

A few days ago, the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) in the United States issued an updated travel statement. Here is the nub of the advisory: “Domestic travel is low risk for fully vaccinated people.” I can see you shaking your head. “Len, that is the United States and you are not fully vaccinated.” Once again, deferring to medical experts, the second dose only increases the efficacy rate by a couple of percentage points. The CDC goes on to say that “certain types of travel are absolutely going to be more essential. And that’s not just for work: we sometimes need to travel for our mental health to spend time with people we haven’t seen in a year.”

Honestly, as I sit here in the airport in Montreal typing this, I think that there is a better chance of dying from loneliness than Covid. My entire check in took under 5 minutes including security. I was the only person in line at security. Didn’t need my Nexus card!

Airports are surreal places these days. One is struck by the quietness. People are keeping their distance, of course and wearing masks. Couple this with the fact that every person is on some kind of electronic device and the atmosphere is less cheerful than a wake.

I have been following rigid Covid protocols for a year like all of you law abiding citizens, maybe doubly so because I am teaching where mask wearing is as common as chalk dust. Travelling from the north was the safest part of the trip as there are no cases of Covid and the entire Nunavik region is a green zone.

Traveling from Montreal to the west coast, I decided to add an extra layer of protection by wearing an N95 mask. I pity the health professionals who have to wear these every day. They are quite rigid and not terribly comfortable.

The flights were barely a third full and everyone was wearing masks. Ditto for hotels. As much as I would like to stay with Pete in his yurt, I chose to rent an Air B&B in downtown Victoria. Pete and I plan to hike every day. I don’t plan to go and visit any of my old friends in Victoria in their homes. We will safely distance in their back yards or go for walks. I have brought along an old CCM (Victoriaville, Hespler – I’m dating myself) hockey stick which we will use for our walks. Someone will hold the blade and the other the butt end of the stick. I’m joking of course, but you get the picture. I am going to be exceedingly cautious.

I hope everyone had a relaxing Easter weekend.

Have a great week.

P.S. OMG. I’m getting old. On my flight to Vancouver, the flight crew dimmed the lights and transformed all of the windows using tinted glass. It felt like you were flying at night. I thought that this was particularly weird. Oh yes, on the 5- hour flight, we generously received a bag of pretzels that wouldn’t fill the stomach of a mature vole and an equally midget sized bottle of water. Our “gift bag” also included a mask, hand sanitizer and wipes. How charming.

In the old days, the button to activate the overhead light was on the arm of your seat. Wanting to read, I fumbled around trying to find the gd light. A flight attendant came by and showed me the light button on the screen in front of me. Later, I wanted to watch a movie (Dead Poet’s Society with Robin Williams). I plugged in my ear buds. The movie began but there was no sound. Once again, I found myself flailing around trying to figure out the sound system. Have you ever tried lip reading Robin Williams? As I scarfed down my wonderful meal of 6 pretzels, I realized that I would once again have to reach out to the overburdened staff. Honestly, the flight crew have nothing to do on these long-haul trips other than maybe changing toilet paper rolls in the bathrooms.

A flight attendant was walking down the aisle. Just before she arrived at my seat, I discovered that ear buds work particularly well when they are placed in your ears. I had skillfully placed one end into the screen console but had forgotten to put the buds in my ear. Thank god I figured this out before she got to my seat. Being ejected from the aircraft over Lethbridge would have been insulting and embarrassing.

The movie was excellent. When I arrived in Vancouver, I was understandably peckish. As I was standing in the lineup at Tim Horton’s, I felt an itch in my right ear. When I went to scratch it, I realized that the end of one of my buds had remained in my ear.

Do you ever think that you’re “losing it”?!

 

 

 

 

 

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