Monday Morning Musings

Posted on April 19, 2021 under Monday Morning Musings with no comments yet

Yes you are.


The diary of an habitual quarantiner.

(Sung to the tune of Abilene)

“Quarantine, quarantine,

Shittiest time, that I’ve ever seen,

People there, are never seen,

In quarantine, my quarantine.


I sit alone, all day and night,

Watching the planes*, fly out of sight,

Lord I wish they were carrying me,

Out of quarantine, my quarantine.”


*I live near the airport.


Third time’s a charm?


Yes, I am in the throes of my third quarantine, so I consider myself somewhat of an expert. I expect to be considered the crown prince of isolation when I complete my fourth, upon my return to Nova Scotia at the end of May.

With all of this expertise, I thought it only fair to share some pearls of wisdom on how to survive being with oneself for 14 straight days.

What does a typical day in quarantine look like? Obviously, it is different for everyone. However, I believe that many of you can check off some of these boxes.

After you’ve wiped the sleep from your eyes in the morning and paid your respect to the great porcelain bowl in your bathroom, you head immediately for the fridge because the fridge will be the center of your universe for the next 14 days, 336 hours, 20,160 minutes or 1,209,600 seconds. But hey, who’s counting?

You make your first cup of coffee (tea/margarita) of the day and settle in to catch up on the latest news and sports stories. For the past year, the news is one repetitive loop. Latest Covid figures. Social distancing. Masks. Hand sanitizer. Bonnie Henry. Deena Hinshaw, Robert Strang, Janice Fitzgerald. Doug Ford about to explode. Jason Kenny being Jason Kenny. (insert your own comment) Teresa Tam. Dr. Isaac Bogoch. Federal updates at noon. After watching the news, you run around the room ten times (for exercise) saying “I can’t take it anymore”. Because you are a masochist by nature, you will watch the same newscast multiple times. If you start singing “My Bonnie (Henry) Lies Over The Ocean”, they might come and haul you away.

Most of the sports stories are about Covid related cancellation of games. Where is Dan O’Toole when you need him? Non-sports enthusiasts will not understand this reference.

You walk back to the fridge.

Thank god for social media. Facebook. Check. Messenger. Check. Instagram. Check. Twitter. Check. Is it possible to watch Downton Abby and Outlander five times on Netflix? Of course it is if you are cooped up for days on end.

The best part of the day is checking the obituaries. You want to make certain that you are still alive and haven’t succumbed to boredom.

You walk to the fridge.

Coffee, tea, margarita refill.

You can’t go outside unless you are quarantining on a desert island so of course, your curiosity is piqued. What IS the temperature today? This is possibly the most useless piece of information you will gather on any given day. Whether it’s -40 or +40, why should you care in your climate-controlled prison cell?

You check your e-mail. Despite the fact that Facebook says you have 859 friends, you know that’s complete bullshit. On a good day you might have five. When you’re quarantining, no one wants to write to you because they know you have absolutely nothing of consequence to say to them. But you still check it incessantly throughout the day. When all hope is lost, you bring up YouTube and delude yourself by singing along with Carole King’s “You’ve Got a Friend”.

You walk to the fridge.

Day 7. You’re starving for human contact, so you go and look in the mirror. It’s not a pretty sight.

You have a nap; one of the three or four you will have on any given day.

Day 9. You’ve got three books on the go and try and decide to read them all at the same time.

Baking. You should have bought shares in Robin Hood flour. If you had been smart, you would have bought one huge mother of a bag, like maybe 100 kilograms so that you wouldn’t have to repeatedly pester someone to go to the grocery store for another 10kg. You have never baked so much in your entire life. I see nods of agreement. You have never eaten so many baked goods in your life. The Bible says that it’s a sin to waste. You give most of it away, but your waistline is a dead giveaway. It looks like you’ve done your share of the eating of these baked goods.

Day 11. You rearrange the angle of your favourite television chair just a tad so that things look different on the screen. The first warning sign of quarantine burnout.

You walk to the fridge.

Day 12. You decide that the silver needs polishing until you realize that you don’t own any good silverware or silver polish.

You walk to the fridge.

Day 13. It’s time to do some light dusting. You even dust and vacuum the floor vents. You now realize that you are in deep, deep trouble.

You walk to the fridge. (Do you see a pattern?)

Day 14. You’ve watched the Prime Minister tell us for the billionth time that “we’re all in this together”. Your eyes are glazed over as you count the holes in the ceiling tiles.

You walk to the fridge.

What? It’s Over? I’m allowed to go outside? Can I really go out in my rubber boots and splash in the puddles? Can I go and play in the sandbox?

Not before one more pass by the fridge!

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

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Thursday Tidbits

Posted on April 15, 2021 under Thursday Tidbits with 2 comments

Feeling rather small amongst these towering trees

Pete MacDonald photo


“There is only one way to avoid criticism. Do nothing. Say nothing and be nothing.” Aristotle.

I am guessing that Ari, the esteemed Greek philosopher, never attempted to travel in the middle of a global pandemic. I know I shouldn’t write this post. It will only fuel the wrath of some people who think that people like me are selfish and thoughtless for ignoring the travel advisories. I am not going to once again try and rationalize my decision to get out of the north for spring break.

I am guessing that there are some of you who are mildly curious to understand what is actually happening out there. There are some of us foolish or brave enough to tell you.

I have done my share of travelling over the years and honestly, during this pandemic, travel has never been easier. Yes, there are strict Covid protocols but compared to the usual chaos in the big airports, getting around is simple. I am old fashioned and always comply with the suggestion of showing up two hours before my flight. Truthfully, on most of my flights, I could have shown up 45 minutes before and had plenty of time to check in, go through security and get to my gate. I have never seen so many bored airport staff in all my life. They seemed genuinely happy to see customers which isn’t always the case!

The biggest thing I noticed was the silence. Other than the odd clickety clack of someone pulling their luggage behind them, there was virtually no noise. People are spread out in waiting areas and no one seems interested in engaging in meaningful conversation with their neighbor. Masks and electronic devices add to the slumber party. It feels more like a mausoleum.

I don’t know how the stores, restaurants, and bars are managing to survive in the airports… or anywhere else. Obviously, many of them are not, evidenced by a large percentage of these establishments not being open in big airports like Montreal and Vancouver. While waiting for my flight back to the north on Monday morning, I decided to load up with a big (and not particularly healthy!) breakfast. This was a strategic move. Travel in the north is unpredictable mainly because of the weather. I normally try and fill my ample belly with lots of protein before embarking as one can never be sure when they will get their next meal. And now that airlines have discontinued meals on their flights (even the 5- hour flight from Montreal to Vancouver), this is even more important. Tip. If you must travel these days, pack some food to take with you.

The large restaurant was deserted. I was the only patron. Staffing consisted of one cook and one waiter. The waiter told me that normally, they would have seven wait staff on duty for breakfast. There are no more physical menus in many restaurants these days. In this one, there was a small bar coaster on the table with a QR code on it. You simply hold your iPhone camera over it and the menu appears on your screen. There is another similar coaster used to make your payment. The pleasant 50+ male waiter seemed happy to chat. He works for a food company. Only 50 people of a total of 550 employees are currently working. The economy is in shambles as we all know. It’s rather scary and disconcerting to witness this firsthand.

When preparing to board a flight, there is no herding of cattle as is the norm. First of all, the herd has been thinned. Most flights were two thirds empty. People are safely distanced at the gate check. At the big airports, you must remove your mask and have it replaced by a fresh one provided by the airline. You can keep the custom one you’re wearing made by grandma, but you must wear the airline issued mask for the duration of the flight. Of course, they douse you with hand sanitizer at every turn. With the exception of the flights to and from the north, there is never anyone sitting in the seat (or row) next to you. The “treat bags” provided by the airlines, that are now the norm, contain more hand sanitizer, wipes, another fresh mask and a small bag of pretzels. I have enough of these on hand to open my own pandemic dispensary. I could call it PD’s PD! For those of you new to my site, my family moniker is PD which are the initials of our father, Peter Donald.

Speaking of hand sanitizer, I am convinced that I am about to lose my middle finger, also known as “digitus medius”, digitus tertius”, or “digitus 111”. I can’t say with 100% certainty that this condition was brought on by hand sanitizers, but I have had a serious rash on my middle finger for the better part of a year. I have tried several remedies including a brew of plants and roots boiled in a pot, prescribed by a Russian friend. None of them have worked. I have thought about the consequences of losing this particular digit. It would make playing guitar more difficult. I don’t play particularly well with all of my fingers intact. As an old hippie, making the peace sign would be awkward. Go ahead and try it. Most of all, the loss of the middle finger would prevent me from, you guessed it, giving someone the middle finger. How could life go on not being able to express your dissatisfaction (rage) when someone rides the ass of your car or jumps the queue in a massive lineup? I don’t play Rock, Paper, Scissors but that might be tricky too.

In order for me to come back up north, I had to complete a detailed questionnaire for the health authority in Nunavik and get a Covid test 72 hours before getting on a plane. I booked the Covid test several weeks ago at a private clinic in Victoria. You can only imagine the safety protocols in place at this site. First of all, you have to come to the door of the clinic and call them on your phone to let them know you’ve arrived. A staff person comes outside and stands 2 meters (more actually) and asks you a barrage of questions. You are then instructed to come inside to pay for the service ($245). You are escorted back outside where you sit in a chair like a recalcitrant school child and wait for the nurse. There is a separate door to the testing facility which leads you to the testing room. The nurse is dressed in a hazmat suit and enough masks to embarrass Zorro. I was wearing a ball cap and thought I would be polite and set it down on her table. That was a definite no no. Every move and every gesture is closely monitored, obviously for the safety of the nurse. She was a great lady and I managed to get a few chuckles out of her.

Less than 24 hours later, as promised by the clinic, I had my test results. 74! I’m only joking. Even though I was pretty sure I didn’t have Covid, it was still a relief to get the results. I was very impressed with the entire process.

The night before I left Victoria, Peter and I had a great feed of Thai food. They didn’t have a patio, so we ordered takeout and took it back to our hotel room (where we were watching The Masters). When I went inside the restaurant to pick up our food, the young woman who handed me my order expressed sincere gratitude for the business. These establishments are getting hammered. I encourage those who are able, to support small, local businesses. They desperately need your help in order to survive. Remember, many of these businesses support your sports’ teams, cultural activities and charitable causes.

Hang in there. I’m almost done.

Montreal is the hub for travel to northern Quebec. As I approached the check in counter for Canadian North airlines, there was a long table with a phalanx of health care workers. It was pretty obvious that you weren’t going to get on a plane for the north unless you had the proper documentation in hand. (The aforementioned health questionnaire approved by Nunavik Health and a negative Covid test). The staff were pleasant and professional. I felt really good about getting on a plane after this careful screening. Part of the return protocol (in addition to a 14 day quarantine) is that I have to get another Covid test here at the clinic next Monday. Let’s face it, everyone is taking this business very seriously.

I was the last one off the plane when it arrived in Kangiqsujuaq. I know most of the people who work at the airport. Most of the people who manually handle all the bags and cargo are young men, a few of them secondary students at our school. They work very hard, often in brutal conditions. They are invariably in good cheer. As I walked down the steps from the plane, I could hear a chorus of “Welcome back, Len”. Can you tell me one other airport in the world where you would receive this type of homecoming? When the time comes, it will be difficult to leave the north.

I’ve come clean.

I’m sticking with Aristotle.

Have a great weekend.

P.S. The photo at the top of the page was taken by my talented son, Peter, during a hike through an old growth forest outside Victoria (Francis King Park). I had the same feeling in this forest as I have had many times walking on the tundra. It makes you feel small and insignificant in the annals of time when you see 800 -year old trees and mountains that have been around for millions of years. Towering Trees and Timeless Tundra. As the band Kansas sang “All we are is dust in the wind”.





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

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Monday Morning Musings

Posted on April 12, 2021 under Monday Morning Musings with 6 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.

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

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.