Wednesday’s Words of Wisdom (and Whimsy)

Posted on May 11, 2022 under Wednesday’s Words of Wisdom with 2 comments

My next book coming soon

Cover photos by Lucasie Kiatainaq



From time to time (just about every week), I’m scrambling to find something to write about that you might find mildly amusing or entertaining. Very often I come up empty. This is when I go back to an old standby. I write 750 words or so about nothing in particular.

First of all, hats off to the students at Dr.J.H. Gillis Regional High School. I have been substitute teaching at the school quite frequently in recent weeks. I love the variety, never knowing from day to day whether I will be in the guidance center, the computer lab or giving instructions in archery. I supervised a pre-calculus class the other day. Mercifully, the students were working on an assignment and didn’t require any help from the teacher.

The school day starts with the national anthem. I will admit to a patriotic streak and love the Canadian National anthem. During my time in India six years ago, I frequently visited schools and always took the opportunity to sing our national anthem for the children. On any given day at the Regional, the anthem is sung in English, French or Mi’kmaq. The students stand at attention, and everyone removes their hats. It is pretty impressive watching guys who, under normal circumstances might be far too cool to doff their lids, take off their hats as a sign of respect. I am pleased to report that decorum still has a place in our schools.

The average human brain weighs three pounds and constitutes two percent of the body’s weight. That is the average brain. And then there is Mattea Roach. I’m guessing that her brain might weigh a bit more. I am not a regular Jeopardy watcher but as Mattea began racking up the wins and gaining notoriety by the day, my curiosity got the best of me, and I started watching every evening. I was impressed by the breadth of her knowledge and staggered by her ability to recall this information in a nanosecond. We know how fast computers can generate answers but watching a human being process information just as quick is simply breathtaking. How can a 2- pound mass of blood vessels, nerves, neurons and glial cells store this much information and instantly recall it under the bright lights of a television studio? I am still dumbfounded when I hear a few notes from a song I learned 65 years and can remember the song and the lyrics instantly. How does the brain store so much information?

To the rest of the world, please let it be known that Mattea is a Nova Scotian!

Drum roll.

I am pleased to announce the title for my upcoming book about my time spent teaching in the North. “Northern Lights: Hope and Healing in Kangiqsujuaq”. The past three years were amongst the most challenging, educational and rewarding of my life. I will freely admit that it was not the easiest thing I ever did nor were the circumstances that led me to the north ones that I would want to relive again but as they say, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I am absolutely delighted that the cover photo was taken by a talented Inuit photographer, Lucasie Kiatainaq. I don’t have a timeline for the release of this, my 7th book.

“It’s a time for joy, a time for tears,

A time we’ll treasure through the years,

We’ll remember always,

Graduation day.

Graduation Day – The Lettermen

Many universities across North America are holding graduation ceremonies. High schools will follow suit later in June. I posted a personal graduation story a few weeks ago. Do you remember your graduation day from high school or university? Do you have a story worth sharing with your friends at Week45 about something interesting or unusual that happened on your big day? Send it along.

Have a great weekend.

P.S. On a more somber note, I attended a memorial service for the twenty-six men killed at the Westray mine. There was an explosion at the mine on May 9, 1992. The service was held at the Westray Mine Memorial Park on Monday evening. I was at the fire hall in Plymouth 30 years ago representing the Town of Antigonish. The images will forever remain in my mind.


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Wednesday’s Words of Wisdom (and Whimsy)

Posted on May 4, 2022 under Wednesday’s Words of Wisdom with one comment

My mom at 89. Never one to turn down an adventure


M – is for the million things she gave me

O – means only that she’s growing old

T – is for the tears she shed to save me

H – is for her heart of purest gold

E- is for her eyes with love-light shining

R – means right and right she’ll always be

Put them altogether they spell MOTHER

A word that means the world to me.

There is not enough space on this page to say everything that I could say about mothers. In fact, I could simply put the word “mother” on a blank page and let you fill it in yourself. But that would be slothful on my part. Imagine, “mailing it in” on the eve of Mother’s Day.

Some of you are lucky. You still have your mom’s around to guide you, to inspire you and, yes, even tell you what you should be doing! Most of our moms were warriors and didn’t put up with a lot of guff. You always knew exactly where you stood. Most often, it was the “look” that ended any contentious discussion. Sometimes it was the end of a yard stick. Words weren’t necessary.

How did they do it? The longer I live, the more I am in awe of mothers, especially my mother’s generation. Now, luckily, young mothers won’t be reading this post. They’re far too busy trying to be everything to everybody, otherwise I might have hundreds of them standing outside my apartment window banging on pots and pans, fuming at me for suggesting that they don’t work every bit as hard as their grandmas.

I don’t think many could argue that we are unlikely to encounter another generation of women like those who started having babies after the war and kept having them. Four children was just a starter family in the 1950s. Six to eight children was the norm or so it seemed on our street. Maybe there was something in the water. There were also very large families of 12 and more.

In 2022 things have changed but I think it is safe to say that mom’s still do the majority of the heavy lifting when it comes to parenting, so that hasn’t changed.

In the 1950s and 1960s, most moms stayed at home and received no compensation for 18 hours of hard labour. They were up at the crack of dawn getting the bread started. Like a strict drill sergeant, they got the troops out of bed, into the bathroom and off to school. Then they did the first of a dozen loads of laundry while the bread was rising. After putting the clothes through the wringer washer, they hung the clothes on the line. In winter, blue jeans stood at attention on the clothesline like good soldiers.

We lived in town which meant we went home for lunch. Our lunch was actually dinner so in between baking and laundry, our moms had time to make a complete meal, typically meat and potatoes, along with a freshly baked dessert. After we ate, it was down on our knees to say a few decades of the rosary to keep us pure and holy! That strategy didn’t work so well for some of us!

I don’t know about your mom, but ours ironed every stitch of clothing (and clothes, sheets and pillowcases) so in all likelihood, that consumed an entire afternoon. Rinse and repeat 7 days a week. Supper, homework, bedtime stories. I’m exhausted just writing this. Where did they get the energy to do this every day, 365 days a year? They were our doctors. Besides patching up cuts and bruises, they helped to heal many a broken heart as we learned about first love. They got us ready for Sunday mass on Saturday night. I can still see all of us polishing our shoes with the Chronicle Herald underneath the shoes to keep the shoe polish off the table. Sergeant general mom marched us smartly down the aisle on Sunday. I don’t know who we feared most. God, Monseigneur Gallivan or mom?

Special occasions required more energy. Easter, Valentine’s Day, Halloween all required planning. Nobody executed these quite like our moms. And then there was Christmas. How did they shop for 10 people, wrap everything, hide everything, do the Christmas baking, prepare a turkey dinner, go to midnight mass and then go again on Christmas morning?

One would think that our moms would have put their feet up and enjoyed the fruits of their labours after all the chicks had left the nest but many of them decided to take their talents and organizational skills out into the workforce.

When mom was in her late 80s, I often asked her how she was possibly able to do what she had done. She would look at me and say, “I’d do it all again”.

Now, some men are not quite so sentimental about Mother’s Day. They are far more passionate about their trucks than they would ever be about their moms, wives and children. In addition to the hundreds of angry women, I’ll probably have a convoy of pissed off guys in their Ford -150s or Silverados parked outside my door, leaning on their horns while blasting Waylon Jennings on their radios.

Do you need proof?

M – is for the mudflaps you give me for my pickup truck

O – is for the oil I put on my hair

T – is for T-bird

H – is for Haggard

E – is for eggs

R – is for redneck

Up against the wall redneck mother,

Mother who has raised her son so well,

He’s thirty-four and drinking in a honky tonk,

Kicking hippies’ asses and raising hell.

Up Against the Wall Redneck Mother – Jerry Jeff Walker

Hint. “Momma, don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys.”

I wondered about adding this last, slightly irreverent tune by Jerry Jeff Walker.

Mom would have loved it.

In addition to all her wonderful traits, she also had a great sense of humour.

Happy Mother’s Day to all moms out there, whether they are standing beside us in person or deeply imbedded in our memories.

Mom remains my conscience.

If I’m thinking of doing something sketchy, the “look” magically appears.

Have a great weekend.

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Tri Mac Toyota!

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