Thursday Tidbits

Posted on September 30, 2021 under Thursday Tidbits with 3 comments


Dust off those old vinyls

(Photo credit: Shelley Carroll)

Warning: This post is guaranteed to give you an earworm. If you don’t know what an earworm is, you’ll know by the end of the day when you start humming some of these tunes repeatedly.

What is your absolute favourite song of all time? That’s a tough one. I happen to love music from many eras and many genres but, as a child of the 60s, my bias is obvious. I can’t remember a day in my life when I didn’t listen to music. Even when I’m not actively listening to the radio or Youtube, I always seem to have a tune rattling around my brain.

I was having supper with friends the other evening and California Dreamin’ was playing in the background. It may not be my all- time favorite song, but it is certainly on the list. “All the leaves are brown, and the sky is gray.” When I got home, I started to scratch out a list of some other notables that formed the soundtrack of my teenage years and my early 20s. Here are a few more that you might remember. Maybe you can share a memory of one of these songs or one of your favs.

How many of these do you know?

“When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me…” Let it Be – The Beatles.

“Well I’m a runnin down the road trying to loosen my load…” Take it Easy – The Eagles

“R.E.S.P.E.C.T…”  Respect. Aretha Franklin

“You, who are on the road, must have a code, that you can live by…” Teach Your Children – CSNY

“We skipped the light fandango, turned cartwheels cross the floor…” Whiter Shade of Pale – Procol Harum

“Those schoolgirl days, of telling tales and biting nails are gone…” To Sir With Love – Lulu

“I’ll tip my hat to the new constitution, take a bow for the new revolution…” Won’t Get Fooled Again – The Who

“When you’re weary, feeling small…” Bridge Over Troubled Waters – Simon and Garfunkel

“Rows and flows of Angel hair, and ice cream castles in the air…” Both Sides Now – Judy Collins

“Almost heaven, West Virginia…” Country Roads – John Denver

“I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain…” Fire and Rain – James Taylor

“Stayed in bed all mornin’ just to pass the time, there’s something wrong here, there can be no denyin’…” It’s Too Late – Carole King

“Left a good job in the city, workin for the man every night and day…” Proud Mary – Creedence Clearwater Revival

“Hey, have you ever tried, really reaching out for the other side…” Make it With You – Bread

“Strumming my pain with his fingers, singing my life with his words…” Killing Me Softly – Roberta Flack

“Long ago, and oh so far away, I fell in love with you before the second show…” Superstar – The Carpenters

“Little darling, it’s been a long cold lonely winter…” Here Comes The Sun – The Beatles

“I wanna live, I wanna give, I’ve been a miner for a heart of gold…” Heart of Gold – Neil Young

“Memories, light the corners of my eyes…” The Way We Were – Barbra Streisand

“Sometimes in our lives, we all have pain, we all have sorrow…” Lean on Me – Bill Withers

“Don’t you feel it growin’ day by day, people getting’ ready for the news…” Listen to the Music – The Doobie Brothers

“Nobody gonna take my car, I’m gonna race it to the ground…” Highway Star – Deep Purple

Ooh, I heard it through the grapevine, not much longer would you be mine…” I Heard it Through the Grapevine – Marvin Gaye

“I pulled into Nazareth, was feelin’ about half past dead…” The Weight – The Band.

“What would you do if I sang out of tune…” With a Little Help From My Friends – Joe Cocker

My personal all- time favourite? Man, that’s really tough but I think I’ll have to go with this one:

“Remember to let her into your heart, then you can start to make it better…”

Last waltz. Parish Center. 1968.

Every guy’s dream… to get the final dance with that someone special.

“Hey Jude”

Three Beatles tunes on the list you say? I could have had 25!

Have a great weekend.

P.S. Don’t forget to send me your #1 pick!

P.P.S. As you can tell, I “mailed it in” today!!!

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Monday Morning Musings

Posted on September 27, 2021 under Monday Morning Musings with no comments yet


A whale of a tale


“Baby beluga in the deep blue sea,

Swim so wild and you swim so free,

Heaven above and the sea below,

And a little white whale on the go.”

Baby Beluga – Raffi

On the weekend, I had a whale of a time- beluga whale to be more precise. I don’t mean to burst Raffi’s bubble or that of his legion of young fans, but those same adorable and playful white whales are a very important part of an Inuit’s diet. Belugas migrate from the south in the spring from May to July and in the fall from the north around October/November. This means that they could make an appearance any time now and I will have a bird’s eye view when they arrive. This causes a great stir in the village because it means there will be lots to eat in the winter ahead.

Many of us are still carnivores. Old habits die hard and when you are raised on beef, pork and chicken, your diet tends to stay with you for a lifetime. With apologies to you vegetarians and vegans, I still relish a great steak, a roast beef dinner, or a hamburger cooked on the barbeque. Sometimes I think I’m a hypercarnivore or apex predator.

However, being a Maritimer and having grown up close to the ocean, I also love fish and all manner of seafood. Is there anything tastier than a halibut steak, a feed of fish and chips made with fresh Atlantic cod, scallops, mussels and the crème de la crème, lobsters?

I live close to the sea now. At high tide, I am only about 100 metres from the water’s edge. I can go and pick mussels at will at low tide. I had some the other day, and they were fabulous. One of my dreams is to go mussel picking under the ice in a few months’ time. At low tide, a hole will be drilled in the ice and those who are not claustrophobic can crawl down onto the floor of the bay and pick mussels to their hearts content, all the while keeping close tabs on the tide. I know it sounds risky, but the Inuit have been doing this a long time and I think if anybody knows about tides, it is the local people.

Last week I was treated to arctic cod which are also plentiful in the bay. Many people fish right off the end of the wharf at town point. I took the easy way out. I chopped up some onion, fresh garlic, and lemon and stuffed them in the cavity of the cod. I wrapped it in foil and tossed it into a 400-degree oven. I cooked some baby potatoes, carrots and asparagus. It was a fairly simple meal but quite tasty.

As many of you know, I am living in a house at the far end of the village. I no longer live on Sesame Street, a nickname for the street where most of the Qallunaat (white people) teachers live. A work colleague is on sabbatical, and I was the lucky one who ended up getting her home. She was looking for someone older and more mature to look after her place. The older part, I have down cold! The setup couldn’t be any better. I will get to witness some fierce winter storms that will sweep down the mountains and across the bay. I might have to invest in a pair of cross-country skis or snow shoes to make it out of the house to school when it’s really stormy.

In addition to providing me with great internet (not a phrase you hear often in the north), Sirius radio and many other amenities, my friend also told me to take anything that I wanted form the freezer in her fridge. The freezer is a unit at the bottom of the fridge. After multiple attempts at putting a frozen boxed pizza in the freezer, I discovered that there were actually two units for frozen food. For god sake, don’t tell my students. They’re still not sure if I’m a teacher and this would certainly blow my cover.

A few days ago, I took a frozen package out of the freezer. I swear that it looked exactly like two quesadillas rolled up and hard as a rock. Once thawed, I realized that this was not a Mexican treat but fish. It looked like beluga but just to be certain, I took a picture and showed it to one of the Inuk teachers. She started smacking her lips.”Mattaq”, she said. Typically, mattaq is beluga blubber that is eaten frozen and raw. I tried some at a staff Christmas party a few years ago. I think it might be an acquired taste (!) but apparently eating raw beluga is a great source of energy when winter turns bitterly cold.

Because the beluga I had in my possession was already thawed, I asked my colleague for cooking tips. She told me that I could boil it in salty water or cut it into strips and pan fry it with onions and fresh garlic. While watching the Ryder Cup yesterday at Chad and Emma’s we did just that. Five of us sampled the beluga. It didn’t have a fishy taste at all. We all agreed that it had the texture of calamari, but the taste was hard to pinpoint. It wasn’t super tasty, but it wasn’t at all unpleasant. I quite liked it but then again, I was the only one of 10 in our family who liked eating liver. I guess I don’t have a discerning palate. My friend (and teacher!) Mary tells me that fermented beluga, called igunaq, is “yummy.”

I was hoping to turn a new leaf this fall by moving towards a more plant-based diet but as long as there are treasures from the sea so close at hand (along with caribou meat – my favourite), my best and possibly only chance at becoming a vegetarian is after reincarnation!

Have a great week.

P.S. I have started using medical marijuana (CBD oil +THC) for chronic pain. No, I won’t be turning off all the lights, lighting candles and listening to the Dark Side of the Moon. It’s not meant to give you a high. This particular concoction is to help with sleep. So far, so good. Sweet dreams!


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Thursday Tidbits

Posted on September 23, 2021 under Thursday Tidbits with 3 comments



“Can it be that it was all so simple then,

Or has time rewritten every line.”

The Way We Were – Barbara Streisand

Please bring back the wringer washer!

I rarely start off a Thursday Tidbits with such an esoteric subject as the merits of the modern washing machine, but it’s been a long week at school. You can tell. I’m talking about washing machines.

As I step out of the shower each morning, I stare at the washer and dryer directly across from me in the bathroom. I am used to doing my own laundry, so it didn’t take me too long to figure out this baby. I have to admit that the manufacturers and marketers of wash machines have come up with an endless number of possibilities for doing your wash. If you ask me, it is a buffet of buttons, bubbles and bullshit. Come on, does it really matter in the end if you use the active wear setting, the jeans setting or towels and sheets? In the end, it’s just a round tub filled with water and detergent going around in circles (something like the author of this piece).I find this agitating. It makes my head spin.

The old wringer washers were so practical. You could wash every stitch of clothing using the same water more than once. And when it wasn’t in use, you could put your baby sister or baby brother inside the drum and wheel them around the living room. The good old days. I always seem to cycle back to them.

Lord thundrin’ jaysus. I was running in the hallways of the school earlier this week. Kids aren’t allowed to run but 70-year-olds can do whatever they please. Ok. I wasn’t running but I was moving quickly. It had been a dreary day, cloudy, wet and cold. I heard what sounded like a sonic boom. “Len, there’s thunder and lightning.” This in itself isn’t particularly unusual but, it was also snowing. I must admit that I had never witnessed this combination before. Thundersnow is a rare winter storm (hm…it’s not winter yet) event that occurs when thunder and lightning happen during a snowstorm. According to legend, this is the harbinger of a heavy snowfall.

I’m not a counter of steps or distance. Monday was a particularly zany day for this secretary/all-purpose guy at the school. You see, this summer, there was a major construction renovation going on in the school. This included our large industrial kitchen. In order to do all of this work, everything in the kitchen (everything except the kitchen sink!) was brought to the gym. This was a very good solution for the construction worker as the kitchen was across the hall from the gym. However, there were construction delays leaving the gym unusable since the start of school. On Monday, I agreed to coordinate the gargantuan task of moving everything out of the gym so that classes could resume. One small problem is that the kitchen is still not ready to go so we had to find a few empty classrooms to put all this stuff.

Now let it be known that I was a hands-on foreman. I enlisted the help of some teachers and students, but I did my fair share of lifting and moving. Later that night my back was severely pissed off at me for trying to be a hero. This was the same day as “THUNDERSNOW”. By the time I got home at suppertime, I was whipped. Just for the hell of it, I decided to see how far I had walked at the school that day: 12.5 kilometers and 21,542 steps. The good news is that all of this activity, combined with a healthier lifestyle (the summer was a bit of a write off) has resulted in a loss of 7 pounds.

I am proud of all my children. They all work hard and have a sense of social justice. They are good parents and good people. They call things as they see them, and they possess a good sense of humour.

I don’t think Pete, Ellie and Margaret would mind me giving a special shout out to their sister, Betsy today. She had a very busy summer working for the NDP party of Nova Scotia in the provincial election. She put in an extraordinary number of hours. The ink was barely dry from the election results when she agreed to be the banner carrier for the NDP federally in Central Nova. The riding (it’s massive in geographical terms) was held for almost 4 decades by Conservatives Elmer and Peter Mackay and for the past several years by Liberal Sean Fraser. In other words, it has been barren ground for the NDP. This did not stop her from campaigning hard and having a very respectable result. I think that Betsy gets her significant energy from her grandmothers. Well done, Betsy!

After reading this disjointed piece, you probably think I’m all washed up, something normally reserved for my GE wash machine!

Have a great weekend.

P.S. Thanks to Shelley Carroll for the co-write on Monday. We had fun and it brought back a lot of memories for hard core fans of the Montreal Expos.

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