Monday Morning Musings

Posted on January 17, 2022 under Monday Morning Musings with no comments yet

A blast from the past – Victoria 2015

 

“Life in the fast lane, surely make you lose your mind,

Life in the fast lane,

Life in the fast lane, everything all the time,

Life in the fast lane.”

Life in The Fast Lane – The Eagles

After going flat out for four months up north, I am trying to adjust to life in the slow lane. My last stint in Kangiqsujuaq might possibly have been the busiest I have ever been in a job. It was relentless. I was wearing many hats and every second of every day, I was doing something. It was satisfying, rewarding, demanding and exhausting. No regrets.

Now, I spend my days searching for things to keep me out of mischief and from allowing boredom to set in. With the spread of Omicron, this is feeling very much like another quarantine. I have watched way too much television and Netflix shows. It’s not all bad, though. I had the pleasure of Peter’s company for the better part of a month. Our bubble of two worked out well as we worked hard to produce ten podcasts.

It would appear that we’re hopefully reaching the peak of this wave of the pandemic, which means I need suggestions for Netflix shows. I’m currently watching Prison Break, Emily in Paris and yes, Grey’s Anatomy.

I’m also reading a terrific book called Shantaram by Gregory Roberts. It is a true story set in India. After reading the first 10 pages, I was completely hooked. I find it hard to believe that 5 years ago today, I was in southern India working with the poor. So many of the situations in the book, I have lived. I’ve been in slums. I worked and lived close to people afflicted with leprosy. I have experienced the crush of humanity in India’s largest cities and have been enthralled by all the sights, sounds, smells and colours. I miss the Indian people and especially Indian food. Coincidentally, I received a request recently from someone in Scotland for a copy of the book I wrote about my experience.

I am making steady progress with book #7. If I can keep my focus and discipline, I expect that I will have the first draft completed by the end of February. My great friend from Kangiqsujuaq, Mary Arngak, has graciously agreed to proofread my manuscript. She was a mentor and teacher during my time in the village. Sadly, but not surprisingly, Omicron has made its way into the village, and it is currently under lockdown.

I was in Halifax last week visiting a friend. Yes. I did a rapid test before going! We decided to go and see West Side Story on the big screen. The Cineplex Theatres in Bayer’s Lake were open for business with many restrictions in place. I’ve been to this complex long before Covid and it can be a zoo. Not this time. We had to arrive early and show proof of vaccination. The concessions were closed. The long hallway leading to the individual theatres was completely empty. It wasn’t difficult social distancing with a grand total of four people watching our screening. If you are a lover of music and dance, I highly recommend this movie. The dance scenes are incredible but don’t take my word for it. I have two left feet and left many an unsuspecting lass with permanent foot damage back in my teenage years.

  1. Back to the podcasts. As most of you know, podcasts are meant to be an audio experience. They are passive in nature. People listen to podcasts while they are doing other things. Pete and I decided to add a few extra things for those who actually want to click on the link and stare at the screen. We have incorporated music clips and photos but make no mistake, the podcast is primarily designed for audio.

As mentioned last week, producing a good quality podcast has costs. We had to rent sound equipment to create a studio in my apartment. There’s recording of voice and music. There are photos to be arranged with the script. There is a lot of editing during the process and afterwards. I decided to do the first four podcasts at my own expense as an experiment. We produced the raw material for 10 podcasts for Season 1. The first four will run in the month of January. To continue producing and airing the last six podcasts, we are reaching out to folks like you. Somewhat like PBS broadcasts, we are looking for “friends and supporters” of episodes 5-10. Each episode costs $500 for a total of $3000. If you would like to become a supporter of the Week45 podcast, you can send me an e-transfer at lenpdmacdonald@gmail.com. You can remain anonymous, but we would be happy to tag your name on the podcast if you so choose.

I realize that this is a departure for my faithful readers. I have been producing content twice a week for 10 years at no cost. I mean, who in their right mind would pay to read 750 words of fluff?!

Have a great week.

P.S. Please share this post. Thank you!

 

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Monday Morning Musings

Posted on January 10, 2022 under Monday Morning Musings with 3 comments

 

 

“Tiny bubbles (tiny bubbles),

In the wine (in the wine),

Make me happy (make me happy),

Make me feel fine. (make me feel fine).”

Tiny Bubbles – Don Ho

The first week of 2022 is officially in the books. Christmas decorations have been put away and people are tallying up the cost of the festive season… in the wallet and in the waistline. OMG. I was so supremely proud of myself when I arrived home from the north. I hadn’t had a drink all Fall and worked so hard physically at school that I had lost 12 pounds. That all went in the shitter in just a couple of weeks. It’s amazing how we can totally lose all semblance of discipline when the reins are loosened, and we’re untethered. I shouldn’t be using the royal “we”, but I can see a number of you nodding your heads in agreement. How does one know when they’ve eaten enough chocolate?!

I will be overjoyed when ‘tiny bubbles’ actually refers to champagne and not the isolating experience that most of us felt at Christmas. My bubble consisted of Peter and I and some dust bunnies.. and of course, my magnificent two-foot-high ceramic tree. This may have been the quietest Christmas I have ever experienced. It wasn’t terrible but all the customs built up over a lifetime seemed to have vanished. Having a creative son allowed us the opportunity to play some tunes and work on podcasts. More on this in a bit.

I don’t make resolutions, but I do have some plans and goals for the year ahead. No offense, Pat and John but I hope not to see either of you other than socially. Pat and John are great guys, both endowed with a generous sense of humour. They own funeral homes. As always, my number one goal is to stay healthy. With good health, anything is possible.

I also want to finish writing and publishing my 7th. book about my adventures in the north. Because I have done four, 14-day quarantines over the past two years, I was able to get a head start on the book but hadn’t written a single word in 8 months until I put the hammer down earlier last week. If I can write at least 1000 words a day for the next month, on top of what I’ve already written, I should be in good shape. This will be by far my biggest book in terms of number of pages. I hope to publish and release it in late spring if all goes well.

I had every intention of not mentioning Covid in this piece but that’s pretty hard to do when it continues to be such an enormous drag and a huge pain in the ass. All of us know someone who has had it. Most people seem to be experiencing fairly mild symptoms but not all. I have friends near and far who feel like they have been hit by a fast- moving train. I think most of us feel like there’s a good chance that we will get it before all is said and done. Until the rest of the world’s poorer countries get vaccinated, we will continue to see new variants, according to epidemiologists.

So, hands. How many of you watched Episode 1 of theWeek45 podcast? It had its baptism last Thursday. https://www.week45.com/podcast-episode-1/. You are excused for not watching it if you were doing something more important like emptying your composter or paying your Visa bill. It’s not too late to take a look at it when you have 25 minutes. We received many favourable comments. I know at least one family who listened to it while they took down their Christmas tree. Yes. Watching the podcast is OK too. You see, Peter has inserted some wonderful photographs of places that were part of the journey.

Episode 2 will be coming up on Thursday and will continue to run weekly for the month of January. Now this is in the experimental stage. I can tell you that producing a podcast requires a lot more than meets the eye. The easy part is telling stories and chatting. However, editing this material, producing music, equipment rental, and adding photographs requires time and money.

If the response remains positive (please continue to comment), our plan is to do an initial 10- episode season. That means that if there’s enough interest, we will produce another 6 episodes after the trial run. Not unlike PBS, I will be reaching out to supporters to help with the costs of producing the last six episodes. Once we fine tune the production coats, I’ll let you know the bottom line. If you become a supporter, your name can be listed at the end of the podcast if you so desire or you can remain anonymous. Stay tuned. This is a new venture for us and we’re trying to see if it’s something you want.

Hope your year has started off on a positive footing.

Have a great week.

 

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Monday Morning Musings

Posted on January 3, 2022 under Monday Morning Musings with 2 comments

 

 

A podcast in the making

(Pete MacDonald photo)

 

“I’ve been everywhere man,

I’ve been everywhere man,

 Crossed the deserts bare man,

I’ve breathed the mountain air man,

Of travel, I’ve had my share man,

I’ve been everywhere.”

I’ve Been Everywhere – Hank Snow

Hardly.

Yes. “Of travel, I’ve had my share, man”, but there are so many places that I haven’t been.

I’ve been from Pomquet to Paris.

I’ve been from Sydney to San Francisco.

I’ve been from Kamloops to Kangiqsujuaq and Kannyakumari.

I’ve been from Bayfield to Barbados.

I’ve been from Victoria to Varanasi.

I still have the travel bug, but this pandemic has sure put a damper on things. It will get better, possibly later this year but even then, will it be really safe to go to a foreign country?

I have a partial solution for some of you. Come and travel with me in my upcoming podcasts. One of the most common comments I receive from my readers is that they are living vicariously through me. Most people won’t ever travel to one of the hottest places on the earth (India) or the coldest (the Arctic).

It appears that the younger generation and a handful of savvy seniors have been consumers of podcasts for many years now. The audio format lends itself to those who want to be able to go for a walk and listen to something educational or entertaining. Ditto for those who need a distraction as they’re doing the dishes or housework.

My son, Peter has been encouraging me for some time to listen to podcasts but in an odd twist, as we were eating Christmas dinner together (two of us rather than the 10-12 we had over the years), the notion of doing our own podcast started to bubble up… along with the champagne. Actually, there wasn’t a drop of bubbly in the house although there may have been a can of Bubli sparkling water in the fridge. We discussed the idea of creating a travel podcast for my Week45 website.

Those of you who know me well understand that when I get an idea in my head, I don’t dwell on it too long before taking action. To some, you view this as impulsiveness. I call it living.

Fortuitously, Peter had brought along recording equipment when he traveled home for Christmas vacation from Victoria. He used the gear to record the 10th Christmas album with the Sleigher crew in Halifax. Here is their take on a Christmas classic: https://youtu.be/nDh-DM96O88.

Pete was supposed to go back to the west coast on December 27th, but Mother Nature threw a nasty curveball. You see, Pete lives a few kilometers outside Victoria in a yurt. Now, to many, this is a romantic notion, cohabitating in the wilderness with all manner of wildlife, including a noisy family of big horned owls. From their early morning squawking (4:30), they may be more suitably dubbed Great Horny Owls!

Just before Christmas, “the big chill” descended on the west coast taking temperatures to all time lows. There were days when it felt like -20. This is bad enough for the locals, many who chose Victoria for its temperate climate, but when you live in an uninsulated yurt, it becomes a situation that is untenable. Peter spent three hours on hold with his airline carrier before making changes to his travel plans. With two additional weeks of holidays and with nowhere to go because of the outbreak of Omicron, we decided to record a few episodes of the Wekk45 podcast.

For the month of January, I will be doing an experiment and will need your feedback. You are used to you regular diet of Monday Morning Musings and Thursday Tidbits. When you click on Thursday Tidbits this week, you will see the first of four podcasts. Most days, you can easily read my posts while having your morning coffee. I realize that you are creatures of habit and that any change might send you into a tizzy. We have prerecorded the podcasts and most of them are between 25-30 minutes.

What can you expect?

Peter and I did four epic road trips in 2015 and 2018. We crisscrossed North America. Many of our travel adventures are chronicled in my third book, “Tales, Trails and Tunes”. We hope to bring these stories to life in a different format. There will be storytelling, banter and some musical clips. We are hoping you will take the time to check these out. I will decide at the end of January whether or not to continue the podcasts. Of course, if I do choose to continue, there’s an endless supply of stories from my travels to such places as India, Spain and the Arctic.

Here’s a snippet of music from episode 3: https://youtu.be/t7ht0dUu1fM

“I’ve been to Hollywood,

I’ve been to Redwood,

I crossed the ocean for a heart of gold.”

Heart of Gold – Neil Young

Have a great week and Happy New Year!

P.S. “I will not procrastinate. I will not procrastinate.”

Starting today, I will continue to write my 7th book about my time in the north.

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