Monday Morning Musings

Posted on April 23, 2018 under Monday Morning Musings with no comments yet

Downtown Scottsdale

 

And just like that, two weeks in the desert sun have evaporated. It doesn’t seem to matter whether I’m really busy and engaged or inactive and slothful; the relentless ticking of my life’s clock still amazes me. But time is about the only thing that evaporates around here. Every day, I take a peek at the weather early in the morning and it’s always the same: sunny with a 0% chance of rain. But this should not be surprising as Phoenix is situated in the Sonoran desert, otherwise known as “The Valley of the Sun.”

One interesting feature of the Phoenix area that I have never seen before is something called a “wash.” Washes look like dried up river beds but they are filled with all manner of vegetation. Many of these washes are actually artificially irrigated to keep plant life alive. Washes concentrate water and nutrients from a large area and serve as dispersal corridors for plants and animals.

It is hard to imagine how people decided to set down roots in the middle of a desert. But it is not hard to imagine how this has affected nature’s delicate balance. A recent New York Times story spoke about the looming water crisis in the Phoenix area as expansion continues relentlessly. I still believe that water is going to be the next battleground between our countries as the U.S. tries to slake its unquenchable thirst. And, if you believe in climate change (the proliferation of wild fires et al) the water problems will continue to escalate.

I’m staying with friends who live in a fairly new development in the north east part of the city. Like the rest of the area, it was carved out of the desert. You can walk 10 minutes from where I’m staying and be standing smack in the middle of the desert. Mother Nature has noticed this. It is not uncommon to encounter snakes, scorpions and coyotes in the wash areas. In order to get the dogs out to a nearby park for their morning “constitutional”, one has to walk through a wash area… something that the locals do all the time as they are sometimes connectors of streets.

I have yet to encounter a snake or a scorpion but coyote sightings are commonplace. I saw one the other evening at the end of my walk not 100 yards from my house and Friday evening past, I was out walking Daisy when another couple coming from the opposite direction warned me of three coyotes in the wash a few feet away. My hosts told me early on that these coyotes will not bother you and are frightened of humans. I have yet to test this theory.

I have gone to Scottsdale a few times as it forms part of Greater Phoenix and is only a 30 minute drive from my house. Scottsdale is driven by tourism and is a well-known golf destination. The first time I went there with my hostess, Lisa. She was doing a bit of shopping at Nordstrom’s. My aversion to shopping is well known by regular readers. Luckily, Nordstrom’s realizes that having a place for non-shoppers to sit is good for business. I chose the women’s shoe section which was a few feet away from one of the entrances, in case I started having heart palpitations. I wasn’t the only man sitting there, btw.

I was to discover later that this wasn’t just any shoe section. This store is massive and there were other locations in the store to buy footwear. I found it odd that there were six nattily attired sales people serving customers in this one small corner of the store. That was until Lisa informed me later at a coffee shop that shoes in this section start at $600 US. It was fascinating to watch the go ahead as the mostly male staff served this obviously high end female clientele. I doubt that I have spent $600 in footwear in the past five years since I stopped buying expensive sneakers for running.

Because tourism is everything in Scottsdale, I was not surprised to learn that parking throughout the city is free. This includes parking garages. I think I could easily live in Scottsdale but I’m afraid I’d have to go barefoot!

I’ll be heading north and west on Wednesday as I make my way to Victoria, my favourite city in Canada.

Have a great weekend.

P.S. Please turn the heat up when I return in early May!

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Monday Morning Musings

Posted on April 16, 2018 under Monday Morning Musings with one comment

Antigonish Affordable Housing Society – first $10,000 recipients

 

The power of 100.

I’ve been involved in fundraising for many years as have many of you. Whether it’s a bake sale, a raffle, an annual campaign or a capital campaign, money raised typically goes to something that benefits the community. It’s one of those things that are a very important economic engine.  Maritimers are well known for their legendary generosity.

It seems that every time you turn around, there’s a campaign of one sort or another going on. In other words, the competition for fund raising dollars can be fierce, especially in larger centers. In many ways, smaller communities do a better job sorting through the fundraising landscape. They know what’s important especially when money raised is spent locally.

We all know the power of one woman. Now, do the multiplier and think of the impact 100 women can make, especially when they have a charitable cause in mind.

Some women in Antigonish have gotten together and created a local chapter of 100 Women Who Care. This organization has been around for many years and has had a major impact on non-profit organizations in places like Pictou County and Truro.

The beauty of the concept is that it’s so simple. Let’s face it; everyone (including retirees!) leads very busy lives. Many people don’t have extra time to volunteer for worthwhile causes but in a lot of cases they have the financial resources to assist charities.

The objective is to find 100 women who can donate $100, four times a year. That comes to a tidy sum of $40,000 annually. Women can also team up in groups of up to four members to share in the cost. Four times a year, the group meets to hand out $10,000. Your donations are tax deductible.

At each of these meetings, three non-profit groups give a five minute presentation on how the $10,000 would benefit their organization and the people it serves. Then the 100 women cast their votes and the winner is announced immediately. This format is great for busy people as the meeting is over in thirty minutes and the non-profit organization chosen by the members goes home with the money that evening.

The initial winner of the first award was the Antigonish Affordable Housing Society.

I mean, it doesn’t get much simpler or more efficient than this.

No here’s the thing. The 100 Women Who Care, Antigonish chapter, needs a few more women to fill out their ranks… 23 to be exact. I showed up in a kilt at a meeting but this clever disguise didn’t fool the sharp eyed executive! If you’re interested, check out their website at www.100wwcantigonish.ca . Go to the “Join Us” tab and become a member.

I’m settling in nicely to life in Phoenix. It has been hot and dry as expected and a bit too early to tell whether the healing power of the sun will do the trick for my arthritis.

Have a great week.

 

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Monday Morning Musings

Posted on April 9, 2018 under Monday Morning Musings with no comments yet

“We are stardust, we are golden..”

 

“Hey. What’s with the white dress?”

Last week I took a drive down to Sydney to visit an old university friend. She’s my age so she’s not technically old! We hadn’t seen each other in over 40 years since we completed our Bachelor of Education from St.F.X. After getting caught up on four decades of news, she took me to meet a friend.

Last winter when I was in India, I was asked to do a book review for Daniel Doucet, a well-known figure in Cape Breton literary circles. The book, “Felicity” is laced with local humour so you knew I was going to like it. He describes fisticuffs at a church picnic as “a fearful good time.” If you get a chance, grab a copy.

We had a great chat about writing. I brought him copies of my three books and he responded in kind by swapping four of his own. The discussion was lively and I was asked to read one of my stories. As Daniel is a Roman Catholic priest, I thought something with religious overtones would be appropriate. I chose, “Mass Appeal.” https://www.week45.com/mass-appeal/.

Well, one thing led to another and I confessed (!) that I had always thought about writing a book about growing up Catholic but decided I wasn’t quite ready for excommunication. The more we chatted, the more he convinced me that my fifth book should tackle a subject fraught with many mixed feelings.

On the drive home, I started to think about growing up in “The Little Vatican.”

I’m certain that this happens to you too. Something that’s interesting gets stuck in your head before you go to bed and all through the night, your overactive brain keeps crowding out sleep. I kept replaying my childhood over and over again. I finally staggered out of bed at 5:00 a.m. feeling like I’d done hand to hand combat with a bottle of tequila and some lemons… and lost. I poured a cup of black, dark roasted courage and quickly jotted down about 30 bullets in my writing scribbler… the combined efforts of a sleepless night.

Once I get to Arizona on Tuesday, I plan to write the first chapter of the book… about my baptism, hence the reference to a white dress! I will publish this story to whet your appetite but 90% of the stories in book #5 will be originals.

Along the way, I hope to have a workshop to discuss all things Catholic and will be inviting you to join me. Surely you have a story or two, and some of them may be even fit to print!

Passings. Iggy, Bernie Vosman and Joe White. Three of my old buddies from my days as administrator at CACL, have passed in recent months and we are all the poorer. Rest in peace my friends.

Grab your mobile device or an old wall calendar and mark down this date: Saturday, July 7th. at 8:00 p.m. This is the Saturday of Highland Games week and we’re having a tribute concert at St.Ninian’s Cathedral to honor the life of James MacPherson. All of the proceeds from ticket sales will go towards the art restoration of the saints in the cathedral, a project that James MacPherson believed in passionately. I have no doubt that the show will be a sellout so I’ll let you know when the tickets are printed. They will be available for pre-sale at the St.Ninian’s Cathedral office.

I dusted off my tie dyed shirt and grabbed the old bell bottoms and made my way to the Bauer Theatre this Friday past to catch the “Woodstock” concert in aid of Festival Antigonish. So many memories and so many great musicians.

About 90 minutes before Saturday’s performance, I received a message asking me to Emcee the show. I agreed and had a lot of fun chatting between acts.

My next report will be from Arizona. “I’ve been to the desert on a horse with no name….”

Have a great week.

 

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