Thursday Tidbits

Posted on December 27, 2018 under Thursday Tidbits with one comment

Poppy

 

“The cattle are lowing.

“The poor baby wakes.”

Away in a Manger

Most Christmases follow a familiar pattern but more often than not, each Christmas provides unique memories. It could be a special gift, a certain meal or even a sporting event like the World Junior hockey championships. Maybe you were blessed by the birth of a child or a grandchild which is the ultimate Christmas present.

When I look back at Christmas 2018, I will remember it for a few animal encounters. No, I didn’t hear cattle lowing at the manger.

On Christmas Eve, I was invited to a meal with family and friends. It was at a house in Halifax. When I knocked on the door, I was greeted by two dogs baring their teeth, snarling and barking. Normally, this would not cause my blood pressure to rise but one of the four legged creatures was a pit bull. Apparently my friends rescued Poppy from a puppy mill in Georgia. An American pit bull. I didn’t stop to ask him his political leanings.

The other dog was a Shih Tzu. Rio provided the soundtrack for dinner barking at almost anything and everything. I don’t know enough about this dog to determine if this is a characteristic of the breed. When it came time for dessert, Poppy hovered near my legs eyeing my apple pie and ice cream. I almost considered giving it to him, possibly saving a limb in the process.

On Christmas Day, my travels to the west coast required three separate flights. What are the odds that there would be cats on two of these flights and that one would occupy the seat next to me and the other, the seat behind me? The owner of the cat on the longer of the flights, from Toronto to Calgary, had given her feline a sedative and I heard not a whimper throughout the 3:50 flight. The cat on the shortest leg of the trip from Calgary to Victoria (1:25) whimpered and cried the entire time. There was a chorus of voices behind me trying to comfort the cat. Some were singing while others made a variety of sounds. At the end of a long day, it was mildly irritating… especially the human cat whisperers.

If you haven’t done so already, go and see the latest version of Mary Poppins. I took my granddaughter last weekend and it was fantastic. The music, dancing and special effects were superb. Every so often, I glanced over at my granddaughter who was absolutely transfixed by the spectacle on the big screen.

If you get a chance, please read John Graham-Pole’s excellent book “Journeys With a Thousand Heroes”. John is a retired pediatric oncologist. He spent much of his life caring for young cancer patients. He was also a pioneer of bringing the arts into hospitals as part of the healing process. John has been living in Antigonish for close to a dozen years and is one of the founders of Arts Health Antigonish (AHA!).

Have a great weekend.

P.S. For the next three weeks, my posts will arrive at 10:00 a.m. Atlantic (6:00 a.m. Pacific)

Rio

 

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Thursday Tidbits

Posted on December 20, 2018 under Thursday Tidbits with no comments yet

Ho!Ho!Ho!

 

One of the many joys of aging, besides creaking joints and crappy memory, is the ability to not sweat the small stuff. What would once drive you around the bend and cause sleepless nights now barely registers. The only thing that causes sleepless nights these days is the need to go pee.

Case in point. My book launch. Yes, you’re probably sick of hearing about this damn fourth book. When I saw the forecast early in the week, I had a hunch that my launch date on Tuesday the 18th would be scrubbed like a Cape Canaveral shuttle flight. Five years ago, this would have caused a mild degree (?) of consternation as the first book (or first baby) always comes with the most anticipation and drama.

Now, I have become leery of weather forecasts and chose not to postpone until I knew with a great deal of certainty that foul weather would prevail. Waking up Tuesday morning, the Environment Canada weather site had ominous warnings for a very messy day. I instantly decided to postpone the launch and put “plan B’ into place. In case you were off line the last few days, the event has been rescheduled to this Saturday, the 22nd at 3:00 p.m. at the Arts House (the former Visitor Information Center). My only urgent matter of business was to trundle over to Sobey’s at 7:00 a.m. and change the date for the treats I ordered.

Besides getting older, my time in India really helped me to learn how to roll with the punches and to “accept the things I cannot change”. I also thought about the late David Miller who always looked at a challenge as a new opportunity. Now, my big fear about this Saturday is that many of you will be heading to the beach with temperatures expected to be in the low teens.

Besides getting your hands on my fourth book, the first 20 people who make a purchase of a book will receive a complimentary copy of my son Peter’s excellent CD, “Phat’s Barber Shop.” It will also give you the opportunity to see the Arts House. I guarantee you that this facility is going to become another community hub.

Our youngest daughter turned 30 this week. All four of our children are now in their 30s. How did this happen? I told her that I hoped to be around for the next 30 years. That would make me 97, a bit of wishful thinking on my part. She expressed surprise at the rapidity of her first three decades on this planet. I told her that she will be shocked at how fast the next 30 will go.

I must admit that Netflix has become my prime source of entertainment. The constant bombardment of advertising on television seems to be getting worse. There is probably some great television out there but I think this medium has failed to live up to its expectations. Most of what I watch is light and entertaining. I still think Downton Abbey is one of the greatest things I’ve ever watched. The other day I stumbled upon a PBS documentary series on the Vietnam War. I was a teenager at the height of this conflict in the mid 60’s and actually knew some Vietnam vets who came to St.F.X. in the early 70s. It was evident that these young men were profoundly affected by the experience. After watching this series, I can see why. Man’s inhumanity to man still baffles me. So many millions of civilians have been killed in war. Unconscionable.

Take a deep breath. The rat race will be over in a few days and you can put up your feet up and enjoy some quiet time with family and friends.

Have a great weekend and hope you can make it Saturday at 3:00.

 

 

 

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Thursday Tidbits

Posted on December 13, 2018 under Thursday Tidbits with no comments yet

“All is calm, all is bright.”

 

Perspective.

We all face joys and disappointments. Most setbacks are fairly minor in the grand scheme of things. Others are far more serious. One only has to look at the recent job losses at a local law firm, the call centre in Sydney and the closure of a car plant in Oshawa. These are devastating events for the people involved and magnified at this time of the year when peace, joy and happiness are the catch phrases.

I have been thinking a lot about perspective lately as I patiently (!) await the arrival of my new book. I received a notice last week that my books had been shipped and would arrive on or before Friday, December 7th. Not wishing to risk the possibility of missing the courier, I plotted a strategy to make sure someone was available at all times at the apartment to sign for the shipment. When Friday evening arrived with no sight of the delivery and a heavy snow falling, I knew that a delay was in the works.

I went to the website and was relieved to see that this courier delivered on Saturdays. However, when I revved up my laptop Saturday morning, I noted with some chagrin that delivery instructions had been amended. There were no delivery instructions. I placed a call to the head office of the courier and was told that my books were “in transit” but they couldn’t tell me exactly where they were. Not surprisingly, the cause of the delay and uncertainty, according to the very pleasant client service representative, was the recent postal disruption.

Six years ago, when I released my first book, this news would have been upsetting. It is not that I have become blasé with book number 4. One of the best things about aging is that you get a better perspective on things. I pondered the worst case scenario which would have the books not arriving until after my book launch on December 18th. A “bookless” book launch? I thought that this might be a novel idea. Actually, the more I thought about it, I started getting quite excited that this might get into the record books for the most unusual book launch ever.

I’m sure that many parents are getting antsy waiting for a delivery of a “Santa” gift in the mail. Try explaining the delay of a Christmas present to a seven year old.

Even before I re-framed my situation, I didn’t need to look far to gain some well needed perspective. I visited the Milford Haven nursing home in Guysborough earlier this week to do a concert for the residents. This is an excellent facility with a caring and dedicated staff. After finishing up, I went to visit a friend who has been stricken with Huntington’s, a horrible disease that results in the loss of coordination and the death of brain cells.

Here is my Christmas plea: please do not complain about lineups at Tim Horton’s or any other establishment, especially at this time of the year. Do not whine about the weather. There’s nothing you can do about it. Keep your aches and pains to yourself.  Be very grateful if you have a roof over your head and enough food in your belly. If you are reasonably healthy, be joyous.

And if you are able, why not give the greatest gift possible and the least costly: your time. Visit a sick or shut in person. I guarantee you that their faces will light up far brighter than your Christmas tree.

Have a great weekend.

P.S. There won’t be a “bookless” book launch after all.  My books arrived and are now on the shelf at the 5 to $1.00 or you can contact me directly if you want to save $2.25 in sales taxes. If you’re in Moose Jaw, Moosonee or Mexico City you’ll have to go through Amazon.

 

 

 

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