Wednesday’s Words of Wisdom (And Whimsy)

Posted on January 25, 2023 under Wednesday’s Words of Wisdom with one comment


Putting my best foot forward


“You put your right foot in

You put your right foot out,

You put your right foot in,

And you shake it all about,

You do the hokey pokey ,

And you turn yourself around,

That’s what it’s all about.”

The Hokey Pokey – Ray Anthony

When I think about my body, I rarely think about my feet. Persistent, long term back pain is a daily reminder of that body party. I have a knee that has had three surgeries and from time to time, when I overdo it (like running in marathons), it gets cranky. When I look in the mirror, I realize that the creator supersized my nose and had the temerity to first, give me an afro in my youth and then to remove all evidence that I ever had hair in my dotage.There are some days that I do something really stupid and wonder if I have a brain. Mostly, we take our bodies for granted and only think about it when something isn’t working the way it should.

When my mom was in her 90s, she often commented that her feet had put on a lot of miles over the years. Now, I am not a step counter but someone who is 90 and averaged 20,000 steps a day (very possible for my mother’s generation who chased after 6,8,10 children) would have racked up 657,000,000 steps.

I can only remember twice in my life having an issue with my feet. For the better part of 10 years, I trained for and ran marathons. I developed a serious case of plantar fasciitis which is severe pain of the plantar fascia, the connective tissue which supports the arch of the foot. It results in pain in the heel and the bottom of the foot that is usually most severe with the first steps of the day or following a period of rest. I tried every manner of cure and then discovered orthotics which did the trick. I remember running the Ottawa Marathon when my feet were at their worst. Luckily, so many other parts of my body were aching by the time I finished the race that I hardly noticed my feet. Why would anyone in their right mind, run a full marathon (42.1 kilometers) with plantar fasciitis? See my previous comment about my brain.

The only other significant foot episode that I encountered was during my walk across Spain in 2019 when I clocked 725 kilometers doing the Camino. Have you ever had a blister on your foot or on a toe? How about 20 or more at the same time? See my previous comment about my brain.

I’m not a spa guy. I do like to get a massage from time to time but I have never been tempted to enter the doors of an actual spa. At Christmas time, a dear friend gifted me a “sports pedicure and paraffin wax treatment”. She was aware of the trauma that I had experienced in the north after my most recent stint of teaching, and felt that I could use some pampering. While I was quite humbled with the gesture, the thought of actually walking into a spa and having a pedicure was a bit intimidating. I have never shied away from adventure and I thought, “What the hell” and decided to put on a brave face. And as the Nike ad says, “Just Do It”.

My pedicurist was a young Indian woman who had recently moved to Canada from the Punjab region of Northwestern India. I removed my footwear and socks, sat in a chair, and immersed my feet in warm, soapy water. I was asked to choose from a number of different colored salts and I chose lavender. Not sure if I’m a lavender kind of guy but apparently, that’s the most popular salt. The salt was added to the soapy water and now my feet were turning a lovely shade of purple.

I have to admit that the first half of the pedicure, I peppered the young lady with questions, as I knew that I would be compelled to write a piece about the experience.

Next my pedicurist (how many guys have ever uttered those words?!) cut and filed my toenails. She then applied a cuticle softener to the nails and my feet were immersed in the water again. After a few minutes, she used an instrument that pushed my cuticles around and then she removed said cuticles with snippers. It was around this time that I thought I should surrender to the process and rather than analyzing every single move that was being made, I would close my eyes and simply relax and sensate.

She next rubbed the bottoms of my feet with a scrubber to remove dead skin. She was applying quite a bit of force and I briefly wondered if she might just sandpaper her way all the way through my feet. She then exfoliated my feet with a substance that had the consistency of 10W30 motor oil mixed with beach sand. Not an unpleasant sensation. Just a bit weird.

If you at all ticklish, you might not enjoy the next part. The pedicurist started to gently massage my feet which initially made me shudder a bit but once she applied force, it was absolutely heavenly. She applied intermittent hands chops to my feet as well. It was simply divine and at that precise moment, I finally understood the appeal of a pedicure. Apparently in India, it is very common for men to get pedicures.

The pedicurist then grabbed a couple of clear plastic bags. She grabbed a cup and filled it with hot, paraffin wax. My foot was inserted into the bag and then she poured the hot wax over my feet. After all of the previous wonderful sensations, I thought that this was my punishment for asking so many questions! I had to chill for about 10 minutes before she peeled off the wax. Apparently, the wax is very good for healing cracks in the heel.

And then I was done. My feet felt amazing. As I get older, looking after my body (and mind) is more important than ever. Foot care is now on my list. Many seniors can’t even reach their feet anymore because of other infirmities.

I made my way out to the front desk and spoke to one of the staff. When I told her how much I enjoyed the pedicure, she suggested that I try a facial sometime. I thought she was joking but she was dead serious. She said that a facial is one of the most relaxing things they offer. She suggested that I book an appointment on “Facial Fridays” when the treatment is 50% off.

So, a big thank you to my excellent (and brave!) pedicurist and the folks at Secrets Spa and Hair Design for making me feel welcome at their establishment. And a special thank you to my friend IC for a most unique Christmas present.

Oddly enough, the staff didn’t suggest any hair designs for me!

Have a great weekend.

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

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Wednesday’s Words of Wisdom (And Whimsy)

Posted on January 11, 2023 under Wednesday’s Words of Wisdom with no comments yet


Book launch Saturday, January 14, 2023 at Antigonish Heritage Museum


“How much is that doggie in the window?

The one with the waggly tail

How much is that doggie in the window?

I do hope that doggie’s for sale.

That Doggie in the Window – Patti Page

This short piece could be a case of the tail wagging the dog. Of course, I could be barking up the wrong tree too.

With apologies to my friends and acquaintances who own dogs.

I quite like dogs even though one bit me in the arse when I was a youngster. We had a dog during our childhood. Chipper was a “Heinz 57” whose primary function was to pick up any scraps left under the dinner table. Fat chance when there were 10 hungry mouths to feed. Chipper’s special treat was liver, a meal that we had regularly, with most of it discretely dropped on the floor.

On Boxing Day, I had dinner with friends in HRM.  (Halifax Regional Municipality). One of the couples arrived with their dog.

I have had a lot of exposure to dogs in recent years, especially in the streets of India and Kangiqsujuaq. But these are dogs that run wild, a far cry from what I learned about the lives of some dogs.

We were having a robust conversation about the upcoming junior hockey tournament, my trip home from the north, and world affairs. I can’t quite remember how the topic of dogs arose but I’m sure it had something to do with the magnificent Samoyed husky prowling around the dining room. I believe that I was on my second glass of wine when we started a discussion about people who are vegan. Jokingly I asked the owners of the Samoyed if they knew of any dogs that were vegan. It was a tongue and cheek remark. I was astonished to learn that many dogs have highly specialized diets and that some are vegan. The expression on my face was easy to read: “Surely you are pulling my leg?”

The next shocking revelation was that a massage parlor for canines had recently opened in HRM. I thought I would lose my mind at this news.

And then came the kicker. “Our dog has its own Instagram account and (wait for it) gets paid. I am vaguely familiar with “influencers” on social media who get paid a lot of money by sponsors to promote their products. It just never dawned on me that a four-legged creature could influence other four- legged creatures but that shows you how shallow and desperate my existence has become.

I slept uneasily that night knowing that a Samoyed husky was earning more than I was on my modest website. Talk about a lesson in humility. When I arose from bed in the morning, I decided that a walk was necessary after spending 5 days trying to make it home from the north. A friend and I went to the Dewolf Park Boardwalk on the Bedford Basin. It was a beautiful morning and dozens, and dozens of people had the same idea. Many of these folks were walking their dogs and my eagle eye quickly determined that none of these animals were scouring for bits of pan-fried liver under their kitchen table. Their owners were dressed in smart winter wear but upon closer examination, I noticed that many of the dogs were wearing fashionable clothing as well. Truth be told, they were much better dressed than I was but that’s not something, even a dog, would want to brag about. I was embarrassed to even pat them.

If someone tells me that dogs have therapists and psychiatrists, I will conclude that civilization, as I know it, has reached the end of the line… or should I say, at the end of a leash.

Speaking of dogs, I ate one that was twelve inches long. No, silly, it wasn’t a dachshund (I’m vegan!) but an actual hotdog. It has been eons since I ate a wiener loaded up with mustard and relish but when one goes to the Scotiabank Centre in Halifax to watch Sweden play Germany in a World Junior Hockey Championship game, a beer and a dog somehow seem to go hand in hand. I had been given a free ticket to the event which I attended with my daughter and her partner. After all of the recent traumatic events in my life (including the issue with a dog having an Instagram account), a hockey game was just the therapy I needed. I was tickled pink thinking about watching some of the finest junior hockey players in the world. We found our section and started to descend some stairs. The further down we went, the closer we came to the ice. I was practically giddy with excitement thinking we had scored three of the best seats in the house directly behind Germany’s bench.

I relished (bring out the groans) the thought of consuming the massive hotdog and washing it down with a cold Keith’s. I took some selfies and watched the two teams warm up.

The game started. It took me about 20 seconds to realize that we had not scored the best seats in the house. Quite possibly, they were the worst. Rather than watching some of the finest talent on skates, I spent most of the afternoon looking at the necks of the coaching staff. Back when I played junior hockey, we only had one coach behind the bench. Now, it is standing room only behind the players’ bench. Thank goodness for the Jumbotron which allowed us to see the entirety of the ice surface and not just the neatly tailored shirts of the coaching staff. I don’t mean to sound ungrateful to the lovely person who bequeathed us the tickets. It was still a great experience.

I have documented in this space my recent battle of the bulge that I can say, with humility, that I won having dropped 23 pounds since the end of the summer. Some victories are short lived. It’s a good thing that I only attended one of the World Junior games in person. A steady diet of foot long hotdogs and beer would pack on the calories pretty quickly.

I have the greatest dieting tip ever. Would you like to drop 5 pounds in 24 hours without cutting off an arm and a leg? It’s very simple. Book a colonoscopy. If you have had the pleasure of going through this rather unflattering procedure, I can see you nodding in agreement. I promise I won’t spoil your breakfast by giving you the details about the process leading up to the actual procedure. You can look it up on the internet but here’s a hint. If you’re full of shit, literally or figuratively, the prelude to a colonoscopy will expose you. When I came through the operation with a clean bill of health, my children took some well-placed pot shots. I often wonder where they get their strange sense of humour. “It’s good to have that behind you, dad,” one of my daughters quipped.

If you happen to be kicking around the ‘Nish this Saturday the 14th, why not stop by the Antigonish Heritage Museum at 1:00. I will be officially launching my latest book about my adventures in the north. You may or may not be interested in my book, but you might be interested in hearing my thoughts about what’s going on in Canada’s north from someone who has seen firsthand, the havoc wreaked by residential schools, forced relocations, and the killing of the sled dogs.

Have a great week.

P.S. You can order a copy of my book on my website or simply drop me an e-mail at and I will arrange to send you a copy.

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

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