Thursday Tidbits

Posted on December 7, 2017 under Thursday Tidbits with no comments yet

Another day in the rear view window


Senator Mary Coyle.

It has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?

Ok. Before you go jumping down my throat about your outrage around the Senate, patronage and political skullduggery, the Senate is actually an important piece in our democratic puzzle. And despite all the negative baggage attached to this institution (most of it well earned), it still has a useful function.

Mary Coyle is one of those people who will help to raise the level of discourse and bring respectability to the “Chamber of sober second thought.” Her resume is very impressive. She is smart and compassionate and has faced some health challenges with stoicism. She cares about the poor.

And she’s from Hillcrest Street, my old stomping grounds. Maybe Mary will introduce a bill in the Senate to get Hillcrest Street closed during the annual Boxing Day Street Hockey game!

Congratulations, Mary.

Some people have stopped me and said, “Len, lighten up, will you?” Long-time readers of my column know that I have focused mostly on humour but lately I seem to have strayed into other forums. I guess part of this change has to do with old age my increasing cynicism. The world seems to have gone mad.

How can one not be cynical? I watched with dismay as people trampled others on Black Friday to get a flat screen television… one day after celebrating Thanksgiving where they gave thanks for all they have.

And don’t get me started about the shenanigans south of the border. I have a very dear friend from the U.S. who is very smart, kind and generous. We correspond occasionally and each time I make reference to her President. Her response is always the same, that ” everything the President says is misconstrued.”

The world’s 8 richest billionaires control the same wealth as 3.6 billion of the world’s poorest.

J.J. Watts is a professional football player. (American football – not soccer). He is a superb athlete. I am a sucker for sports and I watch football on Sundays. I mute the million ads that scream commercialism. Mr. Watts signed a 6 contract for 100 million dollars. I am not going to argue if he’s worth it.

When Houston was ravaged by hurricane Irma in September of this year, Mr. Watts decided to use his name and fame to raise money for hurricane relief. His efforts raised $ 37,000,000. (That’s million in case you lost track of the decimal point). For weeks on end, American media reported on the devastation.

Meanwhile in India. The state of Tamil Nadu in southern India was hit with a powerful cyclone last week. .. Largely ignored by the western media. The district of Kannyakumari where I lived and volunteered this past winter took a big hit, destroying homes and businesses and killing several people. One thousand (1000) fishermen from the region are missing. One wonders why they were on the waters with an impending cyclone. It is possible that some of them didn’t know but my hunch is that many of them felt compelled to fish to maintain their livelihood.

I feel badly on many levels. Reconstruction will not come quickly or easily. I received a letter from Sister Archana the other day and the situation is dire. They are doing everything in their power to help with food, medicine, reconstruction. If I had received my Indian visa, I would be there now helping with the relief efforts.

I know I seem to have my hand out ALL the time looking for money for various charities. The people of Antigonish have already demonstrated their generosity by sending money to India to support projects that I was working on during my time there. I wouldn’t object to donations to help the relief efforts in Kannyakumari. I still have an account opened at the Credit Union (Investment India) or you can e-transfer at

Have a great weekend.

Reminder. Christmas book sale. Three books $25.00 + shipping. Regular $55. Value. Message me or send me an e-mail at


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Thursday Tidbits

Posted on November 30, 2017 under Thursday Tidbits with 3 comments

Chief cook and bottle washer, Rev. Peter Smith – Pastor St. James United Church


What is the greatest gift that you can give any time of the year?

The gift of time.

Time is a luxury for people who work and are raising a family. Every day is one giant balancing act trying to figure out a way to survive the madness… especially at this time of the year.

For seniors and retirees, it’s a much different story. Everything hinges on good health, both physical and mental. There are many people who find the time impossibly long and can feel quite listless when boredom and lack of purpose become the norm.

Well, do I have a solution for you!

I’m recruiting a few volunteers to help me with the Hot Lunch program at St. James Church. Every Tuesday and Thursday, teams of volunteers provide a simple but nutritious hot lunch for people who want or need such a service. The Tuesday meal has been going on for ten years. I got involved with the Thursday meal three years ago.

Up until recently, we have had eight teams on Thursday which means that each team only has to prepare lunch once every eight weeks. These teams don’t cook in July and August so if you do the math (52 weeks – 8 weeks = 44 weeks), each team will be responsible for preparing meals approximately 5 times a year.

So, here is my “call to action.” One of these Thursday teams is unable to continue and I am trying to recruit some volunteers. I will captain the team. That means that every 8 weeks, you’ll have to spend about 4 hours (9-1) hanging out with me in the kitchen at St. James listening to my corny puns. Seriously, it is great fun. There is a wonderful sense of camaraderie.

Now, I can already hear your excuses. “I’m going south for the winter.” “I can’t cook.”  “ I don’t look good in an apron.” These are all lame excuses which will not be tolerated. At any given meal, a team of four can normally handle matters. There are other regular volunteers who actually serve the meals. In a perfect world, I would like 5 people to step forward and join me. I have already recruited (hoodwinked!) two people. Including me, that would make 8. You wouldn’t have to commit to every meal. We would have enough manpower to cover most situations including when people are away. Case in point. If I ever get my visa for India, I will miss at least one of the meals.

Which brings me to my second point. I would love to have a co-captain (as one of the 5 people), to assume responsibility when I’m away.

Ok, that’s it. I would love to have my team in place by the end of tomorrow (Friday, December 1st.). Consider it as your first (and most meaningful) Christmas present.

Once we have the team in place, we’ll get together at St. James and talk about the minutiae.

I guarantee that it will be one of the most rewarding experiences you will have. The banter in the kitchen is worth the price of admission!

Have a great weekend.

Reminder. Christmas book sale. Three books $25.00 + shipping. Regular $55. value. Message me or send me an e-mail at

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Thursday Tidbits

Posted on November 16, 2017 under Thursday Tidbits with 6 comments

Tickling the ivories at age one


Vitamin S.

Never heard of it before?

In my Monday post ( Read by hundreds of thousands of people around the globe. “ Would you believe 420?” Thanks, Maxwell Smart ), I talked about the importance of fellowship as a determinant of good health later in life. A friend of mine in the health care field told me that they now have a name for this. Vitamin S is “ Socialization.” Technology has created a new isolation. While we are connected in seconds with friends near and far, it’s not the same thing as a good old fashioned face to face encounter.

Along the same lines, I noticed that in Cape Breton, they are experimenting with something called a time bank. ( . This is something that would work in Antigonish. But it’s kind of sad that it’s come to this because in the “ good old days,” neighbors always helped neighbors. They didn’t need an app for it.

I was in the kitchen yesterday morning merrily doing the dishes. For some bizarre reason, once the cool ( cold ) weather comes, my hands are freezing all the time and warm dish water is just the tonic. I heard fire truck sirens and was shocked to see them pull up in front of our apartment building. Somehow, our neighbor’s washing machine caught fire. Seems counter intuitive, doesn’t it?

That would not have happened in the days of the old wringer washer. Not only was it the way to wash clothes but it also made a great plaything when one of your siblings would push you around the living room while you sat in the tub! I tried to find a picture of the old ringer washer in one of the family photo albums but no such luck. I did , however find a picture of yours truly at the age of one trying out the ivories.

Of course, in many places in rural India ( including the convent where I lived ), we washed our clothes the old way… by hand, and then rinsed them by smashing them on a concrete platform.

We try our best not to be wasteful, especially when it comes to food. So, when I was making a few plates of sandwiches for the funeral reception on Monday, I saved the crusts in a bowl. Now here’s the million dollar question: How many crusts from egg salad sandwiches does it take to make a “ crust sandwich?” I sat down yesterday and ate the entire bowl. I chuckled to myself how insane this would look to most people. That is, until I thought about many of the places in the world where my lunch would have been a veritable feast.

I am having problems securing my Indian visa and won’t be leaving for India until after Christmas, if at all. I received two calls on Tuesday asking me to sing Christmas carols at seniors’ homes. How come my fan base is people over the age of 90?! I am hardly what one would call a “ teen idol.”

TAKE THE TEST. What if you could perform a short medical procedure in the privacy of your own home ( the bathroom to be precise ) and possibly save your life? I mentioned last week and wrote about colonoscopies.  I have been a regular participant in Cancer Care Nova Scotia’s screening program for bowel cancer. When I received an abnormal result, I went and had the colonoscopy where they removed a small polyp. The biopsy was negative. I guess I can just continue to be a regular arsehole!!!

Have a great week.

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