Monday Morning Musings

Posted on August 30, 2021 under Monday Morning Musings with 2 comments

 

 

Writers in crime

 

Lennon and McCartney.

Simon and Garfunkel.

Carroll and MacDonald.

Whaa?

The first two writing duos are well known and well loved. Some of the greatest songs from the 60s and 70s were penned by these talented artists.

After writing 1247 posts, I thought it was high time to up my game and bring in a real writer to help me with this post.

I would like to introduce you to my friend, Shelley Carroll. I met Shelley for the first time in 2018. We met at the funeral reception for my mom. She was (is) a friend of my brother Gerard. They have run together, cycled together and probably quaffed an ale or two together.

For some reason that I still can’t quite fathom, Shelley started following my Week45 posts. This is where I really got to know her. Over the past few years, we have exchanged numerous messages. A while back, Shelley asked me to review a story that she had written. I loved it and I have read many more. She has a keen wit and has a great turn of phrase.

I don’t know what the eff Len is talking about. Sure, I have loyally followed his blog for the past few years, but then today, out of the blue, he shows up at my cottage with a bottle of wine and his laptop, sends my partner Hal out for errands, and tells me to punch up his article so that the masses can be entertained. OK, I think. Whatever. He did bring me that wine and looks like he intends to stick around for a while. I see his guitar perched over there in the corner, so I guess we’ll make a night of it. May as well feed him. Hope Hal feels like cooking…

But in all seriousness, Len is a kindred spirit. This is the third time I’ve seen him in person and we are getting along just swimmingly. I’m honoured that he has invited me to share his space – both literally and figuratively. Let’s see what we can accomplish with this tag team writing initiative.

A sponge rubber ball. More specifically, a red, white, and blue sponge rubber ball. Surely those of you of a certain age have played with one of these. Pretty well every Easter for decades, someone in our large, unwieldy family would get one of these gems with their Easter gifts. There were simple pleasure like playing catch with a sibling or a neighbor. There were about 100 kids on our street so finding a playmate wasn’t hard. It’s a little harder finding a playmate at 70! We played baseball with the rubber ball. Some of the bigger boys could hit the ball a mile. Being one of the younger ones, I was usually the retriever. We would also lob the ball over the roof of a small shed with kids on either side.

For me, a glimpse at the image of the rubber ball that Len sent to me instantly took me back to 1992 and the Barenaked Ladies album Gordon. Not that we didn’t play with balls (or outdoors) as a child, but the image struck me musically rather than playfully. Nostalgia is a tricky bugger in that way. Much like perspective. Regardless, his prompt took me back to a simpler time. And I think that may be where this piece is going…

And, speaking of balls…we had a game of sorts that might have been more “girl friendly” than “boy friendly”. We’d put a tennis ball (or heavier) in a sock or nylon stocking, stand up flat against a wall, and swing that sock for all its worth up and down and all around and hope to the heavens that one didn’t knock it up against a cherished but misunderstood body part in the process. (Any boy who played that game was nuts or nutless). LMD

I attribute my modest baking skills to Easy Bake Ovens which were popular Christmas gift. In addition to the cake mix which came with the oven, the only other requirements were water and a stable electrical outlet. We’re cooking, Shelley.

Ah yes, we’re cooking with Bisquik and water, having long run out of the mixes that came with the oven purchase. With the right amount of butter and milk, this will go down easy.

Many times over the past 2 years, I have stood in a playground holding one end of a skipping rope. This is weird enough at the age of 69 but doubly weird when you’re doing it when the temperature dips to a balmy -40.

I can’t imagine doing ANYTHING other than burrowing under several warm blankets in those kind of temperatures! But I do fondly recall spending what seemed like an entire weekend in my driveway as a kid. One end of the skipping rope was secured to the garage door handle and each of us took turns manipulating the other working end of the rope while we all skipped and sang along to the tune of the transistor radio.

I taught art. Let that sink ink. The stick man wizard has no artistic ability. I even sucked at Etch-a- Sketch.

I was similarly artistically inclined! My forte was most pronounced in using it to write inappropriate messages to my younger brother that I could quickly erase by shaking the contraption after he ratted me out and before Mom could catch me red handed.

Shelley and I grew up in vastly different eras. I’m old enough to be her father. She has insisted on checking the paternity. We agree on one thing. When we were growing up, we were forced to be imaginative because we didn’t have many organized sports and fancy gadgets to rot our brains. We spent a lot of our youth in the outdoors. And when we ran out of things to do, we could always pick on a sibling.

Like I said earlier – Len is a kindred spirit. As such, friendship and connection transcend age. I’ll drink to that! Because we’re both older than 19.

I don’t think Lennon and McCartney need to feel threatened, but they probably didn’t have nearly as much fun as we did, swapping tales, having a drink, and looking out at the Tidnish River. I’ll give Shelley the last word. I have found that the survival of the male species demands that women have the last word.

Len is a smart man. Ya hear that, single ladies?

Thanks for inviting me to collaborate on this piece with you. It has been a lot of fun. Now, let’s crack open that bottle of wine and talk smack about Gerard.

Please check out some of Shelley’s stories at https://vocal.media/authors/shelley-carroll

Have a great week

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Thursday Tidbits

Posted on August 26, 2021 under Thursday Tidbits with one comment

 

 

A Covid love story

 

And now for something totally silly.

Covid has been such an odd time for all of us. Our lives have been disrupted in so many ways. Many of us have had to quarantine, sometimes more than once. Families have been forced to stay apart. People have had to wear masks and social distance. We have had to use so much hand sanitizer that our skin is nearly raw. We haven’t been able to attend weddings, funerals or birthdays. Many have had to work from home and some people, like musicians, haven’t been able to work at all.

Against this backdrop, it is hard to believe that a new romance could flourish but this is precisely the case with Victor and Nikki. Sort of. It had all the markings of a soap opera. Every bit of this story is true. Well, most of it is true.

There will be thousands of books written about Covid. Most of them will be scientific in nature but surely someone will chronicle love lost and found amid the rubble of the pandemic. One can only surmise that the pandemic was a bonanza for dating sites. These may have provided one of the only opportunities for people to meet.

Victor and Nikki bucked this trend and decided to meet the old-fashioned way – on a blind date. Wearing masks and staying six feet apart brings a whole new meaning to safe sex.

Victor lived in Glen Air Estates. Glen Air Estates is a trailer park outside of my hometown.

Mutual friends arranged for Victor to meet Nikki. Fully masked they got together for a first date. Victor, being a prince of a guy and one showing good taste, thought that a trip to a roadside power centre was a great way to get things started. What could possibly go wrong with such a romantic gesture? Love was in the air. So was the smell of gas as Victor pumped while Nikki preened, straightening her hair and adjusting her mask in the truck’s mirror.

The power centre also housed a casino. What better way to get to know someone than by sitting at $1.00 slot machines amongst the din common in gaming houses. If sweet nothings were being uttered by Victor, Nikki wasn’t able to hear them. It wasn’t that they fell on deaf ears. It was simply too noisy and Nikki couldn’t lip read with a fully masked Victor.

Mercifully, the visit was short lived.

They could have gone next door for Mary Brown’s chicken for a bite (deep fried chicken -surely the way to a girl’s heart) but Victor had other plans. He was a classy guy.

What came next was a bit of a shock to Nikki. “Would you like to go to mother’s?” She had known Victor for all of two hours and already he was anxious for Nikki to meet the family. In light of Covid, Nikki wondered about the prudence of going into a stranger’s house.

They drove back to Victor’s trailer. He parked the truck and beckoned his new love interest to walk with him. Nikki’s first instincts were that Victor’s mom also lived in the same park. Her second instinct was to run away as fast as she could. Victor had the temerity to ask her to hold his hand. Nikki had the good sense to rebuke this unwanted advance. They exited the park and started walking down the highway. Nikki kept her hands in her jean’s pockets.

Not far from Glen Air is a truly legendary restaurant called Mother Webb’s. It has been a popular eatery for many decades. Mother’s, as it is affectionately called, is known for its steaks and quick, courteous service.

Nikki, being the preceptive sort, quickly put two and two together and realized that they weren’t going to Victor’s mom’s place at all. When they arrived at the restaurant, Victor announced that it was his birthday.

One other thing that Mother Webb’s is famous for is their offer of a free meal on a person’s birthday. Victor was no fool but he certainly was a cheapskate. They sat down and he ordered “Mother’s Best”. Nikki ordered the Junior Rancher with fries and coleslaw. The one exception around masking is dining. It is very difficult, nigh impossible, to eat a steak while fully masked. The evening was already turning into a disaster as Victor’s entire script to this point was about muscle cars. As I said earlier, what could possibly go wrong. Nikki tried not to gasp when she looked at Victor’s full face for the very first time only to discover that he didn’t have a chin.

Nikki wasn’t able to finish her steak. She had lost her appetite watching Victor extract meat from his teeth with a piece of paper torn from the placemat. Ever the gallant, Victor came to the recue and polished off the final morsels on Nikki’s plate.

When the bill arrived Nikki also discovered that Victor didn’t have his wallet with him. All along he had planned to let equality rule the day and thought that each person at the table should pay their own bill. Of course, his bill was zero. Just like him. Nikki paid for her dinner and they left for the short walk back to the Estates.

Dear reader, you may be surprised that this was the only time that Nikki dated the Fresh Prince of Glen Air.

 

 

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Monday Morning Musings

Posted on August 23, 2021 under Monday Morning Musings with no comments yet

 

The Ross Family

 

I wish to acknowledge that most of the information in this piece was provided by the Ross family.

Dan Ross is one of the good guys.

He has given so much to his community and it is now time for the community to return the favour.

If you wanted a good definition of entrepreneurship, a description of Dan’s life would do quite nicely. From a very young age, he showed off his talents. He has spent his life honing his craft as the owner of Ross Screenprint. However, Dan is not a one trick pony. He also learned at any early age that giving back was every bit as important as business acumen. He has supported many local causes over the years.

On a personal note, when I got into business at the age of 42, one of the first people I reached out to was Dan. His enthusiasm for new ideas and marketing strategies left me somewhat in awe.

In January of 2020, Dan had an accident while skiing that left him with a sore neck. Over time, symptoms gradually worsened to sickness and debilitating fatigue, and then eventually an inability to be upright at all without suffering symptoms including intense headaches, loss of speech, lack of motor control and full body spasms. He has essentially been bedridden for one year. He is unable to look left or right. Simply put, his accident has left him unable to support the weight of his head.

I know Dan a little bit and I suspect that he isn’t looking for pity. He is looking for a solution because that’s just in his DNA. He still runs his business here in Antigonish setting up a horizontal office to be able to continue to work. He uses an overhead mounted monitor and a clear plexiglass shelf for paperwork.

Daniel’s condition is very rare. There is a surgery called Craniocervical Fusion, which fuses the base of the skull to the spine enabling the head to be supported while upright. There are eight surgeons in the world who specialize in this procedure and one of them in New York has accepted Dan as a patient.

That’s the good news.

The procedure is risky and very expensive. The surgery alone will cost $300,000. Dan and his wife Shauna have been lobbying the N.S. healthcare system to help with the funding but to no avail. The Ross’s have to go it alone.

But they don’t. It is our turn as a community of friends to step up and help someone who has helped so many. A GoFund Me campaign has been set up to try and raise at least $125,000. https://www.gofundme.com/f/surgery-to-get-daniel-ross-upright-again?fbclid=IwAR2-UAWN4QFoTFXZixAyrnXZ3TwsRZcn2TSwSUK_U-51VhIa20Eow82TXCQ

For people in the Antigonish area, there is a fundraising account set up at the East Coast Credit Union (Bergengren), in the name of Blaise Ross. You can also send an e-transfer at helpdanielross@gmail.com.

We need Dan healthy and strong once more. You just know that when he has the surgery and recovers, that he will redouble his energy (if that is humanly possible!) to make Antigonish a better place to live.

So, let’s roll up our sleeves and “get ‘er done”.

Please, if you would, share this post widely. Thank you.

P.S. More than $70,00 has been raised so far. Let’s keep it going.

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