Wednesday’s Words of Wisdom (And Whimsy)

Posted on October 25, 2023 under Wednesday’s Words of Wisdom with no comments yet

First Kiss


“Just one kiss from your sweet lips,

Will tell me that your love is real,

And I can feel that it’s true,

We will vow to one another,

There will never be another,

Love for you or for me.”

Young Love – Sonny James


The best thing I ever did was get an education degree. One can’t have enough tools in the tool kit as I often opine to anyone who cares to listen. I actually don’t own a real tool kit. If you knew me well, you would understand why. I don’t own any power tools and certainly never entertained the thought of wielding a chain saw. You get the picture. I can write 1000 words but don’t ask me to hang a picture or fix anything.

Some of you know that I started my official work career as a teacher back in 1976 when I ventured out to the Peace River country in Alberta. I taught for three years before returning to Nova Scotia. There were no teaching jobs to be had in my home town and my career took a U-turn. I ended up in the non-profit sector for 13 years and bookended my career as a financial planner.

In 2019,after 4 years of retirement, I decided to dust off my education degree and spent the better part of three years teaching in Northern Quebec.

These days, I am substitute teaching which I happen to love. Most of my subbing is at the local junior school which means that I have a steady diet of 10–14-year-olds. I find this work satisfying and my hope is that being around young people will keep me young. “Don’t let the old man in”. (See last week’s WWW)

Of course, at a junior school, one sees the first signs of budding romances with this age group.

Do you remember your first love? Unless your gray matter is past its due date, you surely remember. And I would be shocked if you didn’t remember your first kiss.

I’m going to go out on a limb here but I’m guessing that if you polled 1000 women and 1000 men and asked them to recount their first kiss, the results would be dramatically different. Most of the guys would say that it was a truly magical moment. It was like the fireworks on Canada Day. Heart pounding with anticipation and then the execution of the kiss, carried the young male somewhere near cloud 9 as he walked home as if in a dream. It might have been the best moment of his life other than the hat trick he scored at his last hockey game.

Now, I haven’t done exhaustive research on those poor, unsuspecting women who endured their first kiss, but I feel certain that their experience with “first kiss” was vastly different. Having a pimply faced, slobbering boy, attempting to lock lips was as tempting as a bout of dengue fever. I believe that “endured” is the most apt description. A first kiss was to be tolerated and not necessarily a thrill.

“Young love (young love), first love (first love),

Filled with true devotion,

Young love (young love), our love (Our love),

We share with deep emotion.”

Prime time for kissing occurs during the courting stage of a relationship and reaches its zenith upon marriage.

And then children arrive.

The flame begins to flicker as sleep becomes far more important than romance.

Try asking your partner for a kiss while they are cradling a colicky infant. You might get a smack but it won’t be on the lips.

Some day there will be a last kiss.

I have been a big fan of the word kiss for most of my working life and it has nothing to do with love or passion.

Keep It Simple Stupid.

Have a great weekend.


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Wednesday’s Words of Wisdom (And Whimsy)

Posted on October 18, 2023 under Wednesday’s Words of Wisdom with 2 comments

Old man. New tunes


“Don’t let the old man in, I wanna live some more,

Can’t leave it up to him, he’s knocking at my door,

I knew all of my life, that someday it would end,

Get up and go outside, don’t let the old man in.”

Don’t Let the Old Man in. Toby Keith

My second Camino is in the rear-view mirror. I completed my second trek across Spain at the end of June. The journey is over, but the memories linger. It seems every other day, I receive a message from one of my “Camino family” members – people with whom I shared blisters, stories from the trail and yes, some wonderful Spanish red wine. We came from many different countries as strangers and different walks of life. We departed as friends. On the Camino, you are simply a walker, putting one foot in front of the other trying to make it from St.Jean Pied de Port in southern France to Santiago de Compostela in western Spain – a distance of 800 kilometres.

Besides my close-knit Camino friends, I met many other interesting people along the way. I remember one guy in particular. He was an aging, white haired, ponytailed hippie. And he loved to talk. He had a voice (and a face!) made for radio. It was deep and mellifluous. Unlike a radio, which can be turned off, this chap was loquacious. There was no off button. I’m being very charitable. I bumped into this dude three or four times – three times too many in my estimation. On the fifth encounter, we happened to be eating in the same restaurant and he asked if he could join me. I was trapped.

I listened to him drone on. He was quite self-absorbed. Once again, my charity knew no bounds.  Only a glass of very nice cabernet held near to my lips kept me from screaming. Both of us were in our 70s. When I thought I couldn’t stand it a minute longer, he blurted out, “Len, don’t let the old man in.”

He went on to tell me about a Toby Keith song about aging. My ears perked up. The more I listened, the more the lyrics of the song resonated loud and clear. My patience was rewarded. “But in his final words I found an ace that I could keep.” The Gambler – Kenny Rogers

Last week, a young German friend, Jannis, part of one of my two Camino families, sent me a message with a link to the Willie Nelson version of the Toby Keith song. I took that as my cue to learn the song.

A bit of history. You may not be a big Clint Eastwood fan (I am) but you have to admire his energy and longevity in the movie industry. He’s 93. A few years ago, Clint was playing golf with Toby Keith at Clint’s charity event. “Struck by Eastwood’s relentless energy at an age when many are content to sit and reflect, Keith asked how he (Eastwood) keeps going. “He said, ‘I just get up every morning and go out. And I don’t let the old man in,” Keith recounts. (Music News – Cathy Applefeld Olson).

We can’t slow down the ageing process. As The Outsiders crooned in 1966, “Time Won’t Let Me”. Many of us are trying our darndest to “not let the old man in”. Keeping active physically and mentally will not ward off the aging process but it certainly gives us a fighting chance of having a decent quality of life.

I don’t mean to be morbid or maudlin but from time to time, I go to the graveyard to pay my respects to those who loved us and blazed trails for us. In particular, I acknowledge my parents who passed along the gift of music to their children, their grandchildren and great grandchildren. On Thanksgiving weekend, I did three gigs. Nobody ate more turkey or had more fun than me. The best thing about the gigs was that I was forced to learn some new songs at the request of the folks who hired me. You can teach an old dog new tricks, especially if you bribe him with delicious slices of chocolate and pumpkin pie, each adorned with whipped cream!

There is a section of the graveyard that contains the mortal remains of priests, most of whom taught at our local university. I knew most of them. As a lad, I worked at the pro shop at our golf course and the priests showed up nearly every day at the exact same time. I believe that this was their real sanctuary. I got to know them well and even had a few of them as professors. And now, they are all gone.

As I finish writing this piece, I am getting ready to head out for my daily 90-minute walk. The grim reaper is lurking somewhere in the corner. I can’t outrun or outwalk or outlast him but I’m going to do my very best to “not let the old man in”.

“When he rides up on his horse,

You feel that cold bitter wind,

Look out your window and smile,

Don’t let the old man in.”

Have a great weekend.

P.S. I really like the Willie Nelson version of this song.

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Wednesday’s Words of Wisdom (And Whimsy)

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

Still cranking out a few tunes


“And we talked about some old times,

And we drank ourselves some beers,

Still crazy after all these years,

Oh, still crazy, after all these years.”

Still Crazy After All These years. Paul Simon


I just experienced one of the craziest Thanksgiving weekends in recent memory. I had two turkey dinners. Nothing exceptional about that. The leaves started to turn and fell gently to the ground. Fairly normal, I would say. I went for walks and read books, all part of my daily diet. So what, pray tell, made the weekend so unusual?

Those who know me well know that music has been part of my core being. I grew up in a household where live music was a staple, long before the advent of television. It seemed like every weekend, our house was a gathering spot for neighbours and friends.

As a teenager, I played in a band with my brothers. We were called The Escorts. No. Not those kind of escorts! We played at dances at the Parish Centre and at a number of venues on Cape Breton Island, most notably, our regular Saturday gig at the St.Peter’s Hall in Ingonish Beach. I can’t ever remember being so well off financially.

While doing my undergraduate degree, I played with a group called Fungus, an odd name for a band. Our tag line? “We grow on you”!

While working at St.F.X. in the early 80s, I played in a group with Raylene Rankin and (Father) Conrad Edwards. When the Rankin Family became famous, I often joked with Raylene that she got her start with our band called Byrne Abby. God rest her soul.

Fast forward to the present. I know that Mick Jagger has staying power so I’m not about to compare myself to the Stones but recently, I’ve had a renaissance of sorts. On Thanksgiving weekend, I performed at three different functions and have a fourth booked for early November. One was a family Thanksgiving affair; the second was a family reunion and the third, a celebration of life. They were all very different, but I enjoyed them all immensely.

I had to prepare three different set lists so I thought I would do a little quiz today. I will give you one line from some of these songs and your job is to identify the title of the song. Bonus points if you know the writer/performer. I will give you the answers at the end of the piece. No peeking!

Whatever will be, will be.

Oh, you’ll take the high road.

Now the whole damn bus is cheering.

So kiss me and smile for me.

We’d sing and dance forever and a day.

Look at the night, and it don’t seem so lonely.

Oh little did my mother think, when first she cradled me.

Whatever happened, to Tuesday and so slow.

She was afraid to come out in the open.

Runnin’ from the cold up in New England.

He was his father’s only son, his mother’s pride and joy.

So. How did you do?

Here are the answers.

Que Sera

Loch Lomond

Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree

Leaving on a Jet Plane

Those Were the Days

Sweet Caroline

Four Marys

Brown Eyed Girl

Itsy Bitsy Teeneie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini

Wagon Wheel

The Wild Colonial Boy

If you got them all correct there is a good chance that you are a Maritimer and that you’re older than dirt! And of course, a musical genius.

In a few days’ time, I will celebrate my Golden Grad Homecoming at my alma mater, St. Francis Xavier University. I still shake my head to think that it was 50 years ago that I completed my undergraduate degree.

I am sure music will be part of the weekend as it has every single day of my life.

Have a great weekend.

P.S. “This gun’s for hire.” Bruce Springsteen. Are you planning an office party or house party during the Christmas season? I would be happy to join you. From Wilf Carter to Neil Young to The Beatles. Tunes you know and love. We’ll even throw in some Christmas carols. Private message me or drop me an e-mail at

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