Thursday Tidbits

Posted on April 26, 2018 under Thursday Tidbits with 2 comments


Mt. Douglas, Victoria, B.C.

(Peter MacDonald photo)


“Go rest high on that mountain,

Son your work on earth is done.”

Go Rest High on That Mountain – Vince Gill

So much sadness. I hate to start off my post with bad news but sometimes there just seems to be so much death on our doorstep. It started with the horrific bus crash in Saskatchewan, leading to the deaths of so many young lives, followed by the senseless killing of innocent pedestrians in downtown Toronto.

And now, in the space of a few days, death has stolen of few of our own. I went to school with Heather MacVicar. She was one of the Brookland Street MacVicars. I don’t think I have seen her since we passed through the doors of the old AHS in 1970. She was looking forward to attending a 50th class reunion in 2020. Heather died a few days ago. Life can be so cruel and unforgiving.

I didn’t know Barbie (MacMillan) Whalen growing up. She was Wally and Mary’s daughter. She spent a lot of her life in California and lived the last two years of her life in Antigonish surrounded by her compassionate and caring family. I met her at the RK. She was my mom’s roommate for a few days before being moved. Her health deteriorated but she never lost her sense of humour. I would drop in from time to time to sing a few tunes and tease her. She lobbed a few good one liners right back at me.

Life is so quick, fleeting and fragile. It can be cruel and unforgiving.

I’m back on Canadian soil. I had a wonderful time in Arizona and was treated royally by my hosts, Lisa and Dudley. We walked, we ate, we hiked and shared lots of laughs. I enjoyed hanging out with their five pets while they attended a funeral in Vancouver. The weather was spectacular. I am told that when summer comes, people rarely spend much time outdoors at the temperature can soar to 120.

As much as I travel, there is something very comforting when I arrive back in Canada. Somehow, Canadian Customs doesn’t seem nearly as intimidating as other countries. After the fiasco in India last year, I renewed my Canadian passport for 10 years so I won’t have to worry about this expiring any time soon. I hope to live long enough to renew it for another 10!

A Nexus card is worth every penny if you do any amount of traveling.

I had barely touched down in Victoria when my brother Tom pushed me out the door for a walk. He tells me that this was by far the nicest day of the spring. I must have taken some sunshine with me from Arizona. Victoria is such a beautiful city especially at this time of the year. The flowers are in bloom and the lawns are lush and green. Despite all the walking I did in Phoenix, I was a bit ragged by the end of our jaunt. The two of us plus Tom’s dog, Oslo, logged 12 kilometres in 25 degree heat and quite a bit of the walk was hilly.

Quick. Fleeting. Fragile. If you’re going to do stuff, do it now. Don’t procrastinate. What are you waiting for?

Have a great weekend.


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Thursday Tidbits

Posted on April 19, 2018 under Thursday Tidbits with no comments yet

Sedona, Arizona


“But it’s alright now; I learned my lesson well,

You see, ya can’t please everyone, so ya got to please yourself”

Garden Party. Ricky Nelson

It’s so true. Not everything we do in the run of a day is met with universal praise.

My piece on baptism which ran on Tuesday was one the most read stories that I’ve posted in quite some time. Maybe it was the picture of the baptismal font with the stained glass in the background that caught your eye. Whatever it was, most of you liked it. Writing about religion of any sort is tempting fate. It remains an important part in the lives of millions of people throughout the world.

Writing about growing up Catholic is a tricky proposition in our part of the world. There have been good times and times we’d rather forget. A few of you took exception to me taking a light hearted approach to the sacrament of baptism. As I have said many, many times over the past six years, my posts are intended to entertain and give people an opportunity to smile in a world that seems so fragile and agitated. Maybe religion is too sacred a topic to treat lightly. Weigh in!

I was so pleased to hear that a few women have decided to join the local chapter of 100 Women Who Care after reading my post on Monday. Don’t know what this is? Check this out from Monday’s post.

Arizona is as advertised… hot and dry. I’m not going to rub it in, especially in light of the destructive weather that I’ve been witnessing in Central and Eastern Canada. For the next four days, I’m animal sitting for my hosts who are away on family matters. I am looking after three small dogs and two cats. One of the dogs, Daisy, a kooikerhondje, loves to walk. We do a couple of walks daily totaling around 15K.

I have heard a lot about the small town of Sedona, Arizona and yesterday, after feeding and walking the pets, I jumped in the van and drove a few hours north to Flagstaff and then down to Sedona. My guess is that many of you have been there. Driving through the desert, it is hard to imagine how this land became inhabited, being so arid and desolate. I got a kick out of some of the names along the way: Bloody Basin and Horsethief.

The road from Flagstaff to Sedona is quite stunning with high mountains on either side of the road amid groves of pine trees. How did they ever construct this road? It descends over 20 miles or so with some of the tightest switchbacks I’ve ever seen. Sedona is visually stunning with red sandstone mountains. Apparently this area was once an inland sea with high iron content. The iron oxidized giving the mountains their reddish hue. It’s a bit of a tourist trap.

Because my time was limited, I took a one hour trolley tour which went outside the town to some of the famous vistas. The highlight was the tour guide. If he was a Californian, he would be a surfer dude but this guy lives to hike. When he’s not chatting up tourists, he’s somewhere in the mountains. He claims to have seen just about every kind of wildlife including bears, bobcats, mountain lions and rattle snakes. His worst encounter? One day he was walking along a popular trail when he met a young girl walking with her Chihuahua. As he bent to pet the dog, it snapped at his feet causing him to recoil and take a few step backwards… right into a cactus plant. It took him three days to remove the thorny splinters from his butt.

In a week’s time, I’ll be flying up to Victoria to spend some time with Pete and brother Tom.

Some of you have asked about my India book. I am spending a fair bit of time in Arizona doing some editing. It’s coming along well and should be ready to go in the late fall.

Have a great weekend

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Thursday Tidbits

Posted on April 12, 2018 under Thursday Tidbits with no comments yet



You have to have lived in Western Canada to understand the culture of hockey. Yes, curling is huge and many of Canada’s greatest curling dynasties were born and bred on the Prairies. But hockey is deeply ingrained in the psyche, especially junior hockey where many a farm boy threw hay bales in the summer as part of their dry land training. Junior hockey in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba is a religion. The Holy Grail is having a chance to make it big and land a coveted position with an NHL team. Riding buses is a rite of passage and part of paying your hockey dues.

I played a bit of hockey in my time including high school, Junior B and Senior Hockey, the latter in Northern Alberta during my teaching days. And I can attest to the near religious fervor of hockey. Of all the things that helped me be accepted in a small farming community, making the local senior hockey squad made me feel like a local celebrity. If you played for the Fairview Elks, you were somebody. Most of our home games were on Friday nights and one would be hard pressed to find a seat in the Fairview arena.

Our league was spread over vast swaths of the landscape like the juniors but most of our road trips were under four hours and we traveled by car. I know what it is like to drive several hours, play a game, have a beer or two, pack sweaty equipment into the trunk of the car and arrive back home well after midnight. And winter in the North Peace Country was always bitterly cold. Temperatures of -20 to -40 were not uncommon. Frozen hockey gear would stand on end when removed from the trunk of the car to dry out at home.

The recent devastating tragedy in Humboldt is almost impossible to digest such is the magnitude of the loss. Fifteen members of the Bronco’s hockey squad lost their lives in the blink of an eye last week and the dreams of youth were shattered. No amount of thoughts and prayers or messages of condolence can possibly ease the pain and suffering of the families of the deceased or the fractured bodies of those who survived.

One thing I do know is that prairie people are incredibly resilient and determined. They will mourn for a very long time. They will suffer the loss but you can be certain that the community and the country at large will wrap their arms around those who grieve and the sun will rise again over the wheat fields.


I was much honored to attend the recent Volunteer Week Awards ceremony in Halifax. I was chosen by the Town of Antigonish as their volunteer of the year. When I was first informed a few months ago, I was a bit startled. There are so many people in our community who have given an entire life of service that I felt just a bit awkward accepting this honor. When it comes down to it, I expect every other nominee from around the province feels the same way. It is the quiet foot soldiers who toil anonymously who really deserve the credit.

And, of course, for a married couple, these awards are merited equally. It isn’t possible for both parents to be out serving on boards and coaching minor sports at the same time. The gift of time given by one’s spouse to pursue volunteer work should be recognized.

It certainly is by me.

Thanks so much for all the kind words, e-mails and private messages.

Have a great week.


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