Organized chaos

Suddenly, people in the room felt a great deal of tension. A man rose from his seat in the middle of the auditorium. He cleared his throat. He appeared to muster his courage in front of several hundred others in the audience and a platform of political dignitaries. He looked to the moderator and began to speak.

“I am a taxpayer in Scarborough,” he began, “and I see the Scarborough subway extension coming, but I have a serious question…”

At precisely that moment, in the corner of the hall some sort of air compressor or ventilation pump clicked into gear. And the gush of air and the grinding sound of its motor all but drowned out the sound of the man about to ask the dignitaries present that serious question.

The REAL ‘We the North’

From a grade school primer reader, All Sails Set, a sketch from the story about Canada’s winningest basketball team.

Over the weekend, I read with moderate interest about the latest woes facing the Toronto Raptors pro basketball team. All week long, the Raptors’ brain trust was grappling with the news that Kyle Lowry’s wrist surgery might put the Raptors’ all-star point guard on the shelf for the rest of the season. Here’s now the Toronto Star’s Bruce Arthur put the loss of Lowry:

“It’s like a team losing both its brain and the biggest part of its heart.”

Locked into vinyl

As background to where and when I work, a favourite LP on my retro turntable.

It happens about 15 minutes and 30 seconds in. It’s happens after the flugelhorn introduction from the leader of the band, Chuck Mangione. It follows the entry of the full Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra and the spontaneous applause. Just about the time soprano sax player Gerry Niewood comes in. Right in there, kind of unexpectedly, there’s this short stutter in the recording. No, not in the recording, but in my pressed version of it.

“It’s a locked groove,” I once explained to my daughters, “an imperfection in the pressing of the vinyl disc.”

Fixin’ a hole…

The conditions seemed perfect. Winter hadn’t made up its mind whether to encase us in ice or drown us in rain. But the erratic conditions had lulled me into thinking neither did I have to shovel the driveway because a thaw would melt it, nor should I believe Wiarton Willy that spring was less than six weeks away. Then it happened.

“Ted,” my wife shouted, “we’ve got a leak in the bedroom ceiling.”

Play like a girl

Team White shakes hands with Team Blue at end of 2017 Canadian Women’s Hockey League All-Star game at ACC.

Their faces suddenly lit up. One of the cameras in the arena caught them cheering and dancing all in a row. And there they were jumping up and down in unison to the sound of a Spice Girls pop tune. They were thrilled to be up on the jumbo screen at the Air Canada Centre. But most of all they loved showing off their team jerseys, the North Durham Blades hockey team. And the camera cut to a makeshift placard another young female hockey player was holding.

“Play like a girl!” it proclaimed proudly.

Trump’s ban, Canada’s boon

Refugees from the Baltic at Pier 21 immigration hall in 1848. Photo Halifax Chronicle Herald.

A number of weeks ago, neighbours and friends gathered in the basement of the United Church in my town. The church auxiliary served sandwiches, cakes, cookies, coffee and tea. A Syrian family had finally arrived in this community and the gathering at the church allowed townspeople to greet and meet them. They kept thanking the town for its generosity and initiatives to help. One thing the couple said that first day we met has stuck with me.

“Thank you for this welcome,” they said.

Surviving: A Life

Overseas during the War, Ed Carter-Edwards served with 427 Sqn in the RCAF.

His smile remained as infectious as ever. The twinkle in his eye was still bright during my visit with air force veteran Ed Carter-Edwards this week. When his son-in-law Mike and I lifted him, so that Mike could scratch a nagging itch on Ed’s back, I could feel the muscle in his shoulders that had served him a lifetime.

Now 94, Ed battled this week not just for life, but to stay connected to a hospice room of family and visitors as long as possible. Across from his bed, his son Dennis nodded and summed up his father’s life in a sentence.

“If there was ‘quit’ in his life,” Dennis Carter-Edwards said quietly, “he never would have made it.”

Being there for history

Angela Davis has spoke up for concerns of women in America for a generation. Davis Facebook photo.

She and her friend walked among the multitudes, it seemed for hours. Some in the march were chanting, but she said it wasn’t particularly tense. Besides the obvious aspects of it being demonstration, she said she didn’t sense the men and women around her were targeting their frustration at anybody. And then the group came upon a stage, where Angela Davis, the American University law professor, was speaking.

“This is ground zero in the struggle for social justice,” Davis told thousands during her speech to the Washington Women’s March last Saturday. “Women’s rights are human rights all over the planet, (and) this is just the beginning.”

Celebrating Sir John A. in Orillia

 

Sir John A. Macdonald shakes hands with speaker Barris on Jan. 14, 2017. Photo Patrick Bales. Orillia Packet & Times.

The Hermitage Ballroom at the Best Western Mariposa Inn was the room with the Sir John A view Saturday night.

The 19th annual Sir John A Macdonald Celebration was once again sold out, with approximately 200 people on hand to show their support for the Orillia Museum of Art and History while feting one of the Fathers of Confederation.

The celebration took on an added significance this year, as 2017 not only marks the 150th anniversaries of both Confederation and the incorporation of Orillia, but also the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, pointed to as pivotal moment in making Canada the nation it is today.

That made Ted Barris a fitting speaker for the evening. He has written extensively on the country around the time of Confederation, as well as specifically on Vimy, in 2007’s Victory at Vimy.

Read the full story: http://www.orilliapacket.com/2017/01/15/celebrating-sir-john-in-orillia

An address, not an email

President Abraham Lincoln delivered his second inauguration address trying to put the one aspect of his first term to rest. Courtesy Wikipedia.

The first one used just over 1,400 words to do it. That was George Washington. The most recent one, Barack Obama, took about 2,400 words. The one who took the longest to do it, with over 8,000 words, was William Henry Harrison in 1841. The first one to do it in the third week of January, did so in 1937, setting the precedent for every inauguration to follow; and that was Franklin Delano Roosevelt. And the president-elect who spoke the fewest words at his inauguration, Abraham Lincoln, chose among the most eloquent 700 words to do it.

“With malice toward none, with charity for all,” Lincoln said in his second inaugural address, “let us strive on to finish the work we are in…”