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It is St. Patrick’s Day 2020!

Those of you who know me know that statement is usually followed by a lot of hoopla and celebration. I take the wearin’ of the green very seriously and like to start out with the perfect Irish outfit usually including hats, glasses, socks and my very own personalized Official Irish National Lacrosse Team jersey.

My day starts with Irish music and an Irish coffee or just a coffee with more than a wee bit of Bailey’s Irish Cream in it. I confess that part has already happened. Most of my nieces and nephews send me pics of their wee ones dressed appropriately. They know the rules.

This year I even dressed my houseguest that will not leave.

The rest of the day is seeking out Irish Dancers, Corned Beef & Cabbage and a proper Guinness. This year is slim pickings for any kind of celebration. All the St. Patrick’s Day Parades have been cancelled including the one in Ireland. In fact, for the first time in history there is a ban on kissing the Blarney Stone and pubs all over Ireland have voluntarily closed their doors.

Today I have been amusing myself with this.

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It gives me a little joy in this otherwise very bleak day.

Let’s just say I definitely prefer Guinness to Corona at this point.

That being said and with nothing new to share I am reposting from several years ago …

••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••

“The Gift Of Blarney”

There is no other time of year when it is easier to find a party than St. Patrick’s day. People will be wearin’ the green, adorned by four-leaf clovers and they’ll be drinking green beer. Let’s face it. St. Patrick’s Day, March 17th, is the one day when everyone can claim to be Irish. The thing is, like the majority of the “Irish for a day” folk, most of what we know surrounding St. Patrick’s Day is…well, BLARNEY!

Everyone Is Irish

The Irish are truly great story weavers. They really do have the gift of blarney. According to Wikipedia the word blarney has come to mean “clever, flattering, or coaxing talk”. If you have every dated an Irish lad you know this to be fact.
As children we are told of the hero of the piece driving the snakes from Ireland. In fact, in religious lore the snake represented evil (you know that whole snake offering the apple to Adam thing). St. Patrick, having devoted his life to converting the pagans to Christians was considered to have driven “evil” out of Ireland.

Probably the biggest misconception of all is that…dare I say it…that Patrick was Irish. In reality, he was not.
In the Monday, March 12, 1995, Toronto Star, Travel Editor Mitchell Smith explained:

“It is not widely known that “Saint Patrick” was Roman not Irish and his real name was Sucat. Somewhere around 405 AD Sucat, as a lad, was taken prisoner and then sold into slavery in Ulster. For 6 years the Christian slave Sucat worked as a sheep herder. When he escaped he returned to Britain. Later he went to France where he eventually became a priest. At this point Sucat became Patrick and in his Confessio claimed he had a dream of Irish voices begging him to return. When he set sail to return to Ireland he was headed for the area he had been kept a slave, however as they say, with the luck of the Irish he was blown off course and then captured by some local peasants. He wasted no time in converting his pagan Irish captors to Christianity, starting with their leader.”

The 4 leaf clover is not, I repeat, not a shamrock.
Of course the most obvious difference is that the 4 leaf clover has, wait for it…4 leaves. The shamrock has 3.  Although clover is most often found in nature with three leaves, rare four-leaf clovers do exist. Finding one is thought to bring someone extreme luck. The folklore surrounding four-leaf clovers is that each leaf of a four-leaf clover represents something different: first is hope; the second is faith; the third is love; and the fourth is happiness.
Legend has it that St. Patrick used the shamrock with its three leaves  to visually illustrate the concept of the Trinity (the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit) when trying to convert pagans to Christianity.

4 leaf vs shamrock

If ever anything apart from the shamrock is associated with Ireland and the Irish it must be Guinness, the national drink. With its famous black body and soft creamy head, it is an icon of Ireland and its people — strong, smooth unhurried and extremely palatable. And no self-respecting Irish person would ever drink green beer.

Speaking of dying things green…I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall when someone came up with the idea to dye the Chicago River green. I know there has to be a a tale of blarney behind that one. Don’t get me wrong. My favourite colour is green but I would have to draw the line on this one.

Chicago River Dyed Green

As for the wearing of the green, many simply believe it referred to wearing a shamrock, but an American tradition of pinching those not wearing green on St. Patrick’s Day was started in the 1700s in Boston, Massachusetts. It really has nothing to do with Ireland or St. Patrick. They thought if you wore green, it made you invisible to the Leprechauns, which was good because they would pinch anyone they could see. So the pinching is to warn and remind you about the Leprechauns.
OK, don’t get me started on these little guys…

Leprechauns

One of my favourite parts of St. Patrick’s Day (apart from all of the above) is getting to see the wee Irish dancers. When I was much younger I longed to join them with their wonderful bouncing curls. It was quite the blow when I found out that even their curls were just another part of the blarney.

Wee Irish Dancers

My apologies for the poor quality but I was well into the Guinness by then.

The absolute best stories are always based in some truth. The more you weave fact with fiction the better the chances your audience will not be able to tell the difference. The Irish are truly great story weavers. The masters of the tall tale. They really do have the gift of blarney. Much like most of us bloggers.

May your glass

be ever full.

May the roof over your

head be always strong.

And may you be

in heaven half an hour 

Before the Devil knows

you’re dead.

Slainte

It has taken me awhile to calm down. This seems to be my normal state of mind these days. Not calm. When I get like this I always think it is best I wait until the calm returns. He-Who thinks this is wise also as he is fearful of my wrath when I am “not calm”.

We all have pet peeves. I probably have a few more than most. Recently one of mine got off its leash and became less a pet and a little more feral. I’m talking about that person who get’s in the express lane for “8 items or less” with a full cart of stuff.

First let me say, this was not Walmart. It was Fortino’s, one of the higher priced grocery stores in the GTA. I had picked up my cousin David from the airport and I stopped there for a quick bite to eat and to pick up some crackers. I love my cousin and there are few people in the world that I think more highly of. He’s a very active 70+ but was a bit peckish coming off the plane. I left him eating his sandwich at a table while I ran into the shopping part to pick up my crackers. When I got in line at the express checkout to pay there was a woman and a young boy in front of me. I couldn’t see what they already had on the belt as she was blocking the view while she continued to empty her cart. She leaned over, said something to the boy and then ran off for some forgotten item as the boy continued to stack items on the belt. I watched the boy and thought what a poor job she was doing in teaching him to count. She returned and sent the boy off to fetch something for himself. The cashier began to ring her up and bag her items. The boy returned and added to the pile. At this point I am beyond fatigued, my 4 boxes of crackers felt like they weighed 4 tons and I just wanted to go home to bed. The cashier looked at me and asked me if I would like any bags. I was a bit startled as I was still holding my crackers and the belt was still full. I explained that those items were “still” the same order that she had been ringing up and did not belong to me. The woman turned to me full faced, and spat out, “It is NOT STILL the same order. I am picking up some things for someone who has cancer.”  [In other words, she is a saint and because she was picking up something for someone who has cancer she could break the protocol and pay for her 27 things at the same time she paid for the cancer patient’s 16 things.]  It got very still. There was no air. I could feel the heat from my early morning treatment glowing off my face. I started vibrating. I looked her straight in the eyes and saw what she must have seen reflected there.

Purple hulk

Please note the purple hair. That’s me.

I said, “You picked the wrong person to play the cancer card with, Lady”.

She bowed her head, fumbled with her payment, grabbed the boy by the coat and backed a way in a rather expeditious manner…for someone her age. As I watched her go I saw out of the corner of my eye David standing there watching. I turned to the cashier and apologized to her for my behaviour as the tears started running down my face. I couldn’t stop shaking and I explained to her that in my heart of hearts I don’t believe that any cancer patient would want someone doing something on their behalf to make a fellow cancer patient uncomfortable. The poor cashier didn’t know what to say. I apologized again. She apologized. It was very Canadian.

I was so embarrassed to turn around and face my David. We walked to the car in silence. When I got behind the wheel I was still shaking and I apologized to him. David has always been there for me and helped me through my last bout with cancer 27 years ago, but has never mentioned it once, then or now. He just said, “I find it best to try to stay calm in these situations but quite honestly I don’t know how you cope as well as you do.” He wasn’t embarrassed or disappointed in me. He simply understood. I love that guy!

You see, cancer is pretty prevalent in my family. My Mom died at 42 from breast cancer when I was 12 years old. I had breast cancer when I was 35. My older sister had it about 10 years later and then again, 2 years ago.  We have aunts, uncles, cousins, friends and fathers who have had, currently have, or passed away, from cancer.  I honestly can’t ever remember any of us using the “cancer card” to hurt or inconvenience someone else. My niece, Hinda, said it best when a friend commented on how she was handling the news of her mother’s cancer. “We do cancer well in this family”.  Unless, of course you turn into a raging hulk.

Today is Don Ho’s Birthday! (August 13) I know this because every year for as long as I can remember, I received a text, phone call or facebook message (sometimes all of the afore mentioned) that went like this. …

“Today is Don Ho’s birthday, my Cutes. Have I ever told my Cutes my Don Ho story?”

That message won’t come this year and it breaks my heart. We lost my “Cutes”, Harry Warner Reid, December 5, 2018.  Harry would often tell me he was still waiting for his miracle and my response was always the same…”You are the miracle.”

Harry Warner Reid • Photo Credit Judy Breadner

It’s hard to say when Harry became “Cutes”. I can’t say I remember either one of us calling each other anything else. Applying the perfect nickname to anyone he came in contact with was one of his special talents. If Harry was your friend, you had a nickname, and you were a friend for life.

Cutes & I • Out front of the Chimney Restaurant in the early ’70s

Harry’s best friend is “Wheelz” who in later years became “The Doctor”.  They had the kind of friendship that made them inseparable even when it was physically impossible to be together.  In December of 1973 they headed off on an adventure of a lifetime and spent nearly three months backpacking on a shoestring through Europe, Morocco and the Canary Islands. Actually, it was more than one adventure. It was many, many adventures and I received documentation of the craziness in the form of a postcard from every stop. But, those stories are best left to Wheelz to recount.

When they returned they went about their “normal” lives, with Harry eventually landing a high paying job at the Ford Glass Plant. He had a car, a motorcycle, a girlfriend and multitudes of friends. Life was good. And then, suddenly, not so much.  I don’t know if you can still do this, but in the ’70s, you could rent the ice dirt cheap at a local arena for use in the middle of the night. Friends would get together and play hockey. In July, 1975, Harry & company did just that. They played hockey with skates, a sponge puck and a stick. There was no other equipment, including helmets. Somehow, Harry was hit and received an unremarkable little bump on the side of his head. He left the arena and drove to his girlfriend’s. Early the next day he was rushed from our local hospital to a bigger city hospital in Hamilton. When Wheelz called me to come (I was away at college) nothing could have prepared me for the trauma I witnessed. To Harry, Wheelz and Harry’s parents. Things got worse before they got better and often it was one step forward and two steps back. Harry fought hard along with everyone who loved him. He survived, regaining all his faculties but not all of his physical abilities. There were some very dark times, but eventually, our Harry, with his big smile, breathless laugh and keen sense of humour returned to us.

I spent many hours at Harry’s home and became very attached to his dad, Earl, his mom, Lorna and his brother Stan. I’m pretty sure I spent more time there than at my own home. They were family. My memory fails me as to exactly when Harry’s Love, Linda joined him. That’s probably because it’s hard to picture her ever not there. She is the love of his life. He called her his “Serendipitous Angel”. I called her a Saint, oh, and also, Mrs. Cutes. My faith in miracles was restored when these two found each other. Linda’s energy seemed endless and because of her, Harry didn’t miss out on much. Even after his MS reared its ugly head, they lived their lives to the utmost.

Mr. & Mrs. Cutes

Harry kept a journal and made note of absolutely everything. He would often contact me and tell me things like, “Today is the day, when three years ago My Cutes brought me a Hard Rock guitar pin from Maui”, or “My Cutes visited me on this day five years ago”. I don’t know how he kept track of it all or how he remembered the things he did. There were times he would entertain me endlessly with wee stories in what seemed to be his own language. A few years ago He-Who and I drove to Florida. OK, I drove, He-Who passengered. Harry started texting me and because I was driving, He-Who had to read them out loud and respond for me. Up to that point He-Who had not been privy to what I like to call “Cutes Speak”. Harry had us laughing, tears rolling down our faces through several states. He was relentless with his tongue-in-cheek humour and often pranked me when I least expected it.

Many years ago I bought the first car that actually had my name on the ownership. It was a maroon Monte Carlo. I loved that big beast. It wasn’t new…just new to me. One day as I was making a left hand turn from St. Paul St. on to Pelham Rd. in St. Catharines, Monty just stopped in the middle of the intersection. The person I called for help was my Cutes. Somehow, he managed to organize a rescue mission with Stan leading the team. I say “somehow”, because this was long before cell phones. All I know is a tow truck took my car to the Reid’s house where it sat in the driveway, while I sat at their kitchen table. That’s where I was when Stan came in and asked me when was the last time I changed the oil.

“What do you mean? Changed the oil? When the oil light comes on I put in more oil.”

Stan’s eyes did that bulgy thing and I could see my Cutes trying really hard not to laugh.

“No. I mean when was the last time you changed it?”

“What do you mean change? I told you every time the oil light came on I put oil in it.”

Apparently, “changing” the oil was a different thing from “adding” oil. My engine had seized. Monty was in a bad way.

Every day after work I would go to the Reid’s and Monty would be there with Stan trying to bring him back to life and my Cutes was in his wheel chair with his head under the hood. I would ask for a progress report and then go inside to commiserate with Lorna.

Finally the day came when Monty and I were reunited. Stan handed me the keys and made me promise to change the oil on a regular basis. Cutes had a grin a mile wide on his face as I pulled out of the driveway. Days later I stopped at a gas station on Lundy’s Lane and asked the attendant to fill the gas tank and to please check my oil. He did. When he closed the hood and walked towards me wiping the grease off his hands he had the goofiest grin on his face. I recognized that grin. I had to dig back, but that was the postman’s grin when he delivered postcards from Harry to me addressed in big bold letters to “Cutes”. When I got home I parked Monty and went around front and lifted the hood. There, in big bold letters, hand painted on the air filter cover, was the word “Cutes”. I can still hear Harry laughing.

Harry loved Rock & Roll, bands and guitars. The band he kind-of-sort-of organized was called None The Whyzer and he was always teasing me that He-Who was to join them on his banjo. Last year Harry was absolutely thrilled to be able to participate in Day of 1,000 Musicians in Niagara.

Harry at Day of 1,000 Musicians in Niagara Falls 2018 • Photo Credit Tim Shafley

This year his band, family and friends sported a specially designed designed T-Shirt in honour of Harry.

 

Day of 1,000 Musicians 2019 • Photo Credit Dave Wheeler

Designed by Zach Bury

Through The Harry Warner Reid Memorial Music Fund, Harry has been able to continue to share his love for music by donating cash &/or instruments to the Niagara Elementary Instrumental Music Program, DSBN Academy, Beamsville Secondary School, Eden High School, Thorold High School, Greater Fort Erie Secondary School, A.N. Myer Secondary School and Eastdale Secondary School.

Harry had the ability to make people feel like they were the most valued person alive. He made me feel that way every time I had contact with him. Being a part of Harry’s life was a gift. A gift, I for one will cherish forever. As I always said to him whenever we said good-bye, “I love you, my Cutes”.

He-Who is constantly telling me I have my head in the clouds. Sometimes this makes me contemplate divorce. Other times it doesn’t bother me at all. Then there are those times when, well, I just have to agree.

One of He-Who’s other favourite people also had his head in the clouds. Pops (that would be his Dad). He-Who once wrote,

His most important source of information, however, is ethereal.  He sees numbers in the clouds, numbers in his dreams, and numbers in coffee stains.  He lives to see numbers and then reroutes them onto tickets at the track.

I don’t see numbers but, I am always fascinated by clouds and often get lost in them. Recently, we were at our favourite restaurant, Burger Barn, located in Ohsweken, Ontario. Ohsweken, is a village on the Six Nations of the Grand River First Nation Indian reserve near Brantford. We frequent the place about once a week. He-Who was behind the wheel. We were quite content as we headed away from the remains of our lunch. My head was against the passenger side and I looked up into the sky…

“WOW!” Oh My God! WOW! WOW! WOW!”

He-Who was alarmed but kept his cool. Apparently, I quite often over react to some visual distraction…like a red light or a stop sign that he considers to be just a suggestion.

“Look at the clouds! Look at the clouds!”

“What clouds?”

“What do you mean, what clouds?”

“All I’ve got is blue skies above me.”

I implored him to pull over and I leaned across him and looked up. This is what he saw.

I was shocked and amazed and quickly returned to my view. All I had with me was the camera on my phone and I could only hope I that I would capture the breathtaking vision in above me.

He-Who was reluctant to actually get out of the car to witness what I was making such a fuss over. Who could blame him? His view was pretty, shall we say, blue. I have never seen anything like it. No one I showed them to (pretty much anyone I even came into remote contact with since) had ever seen such a thing. You tell me what you think.

I can tell you this. He-Who wishes he had looked from both sides now.

*We continue to follow Heirloom Portraits Photographer Katelyn Krueger in Northern Canada through her pictures and thoughts.*

Hall Beach, Nunavut

Fear not! I have not abandoned Kate in the Great White North. I know it may seem like I have, but we are always connected one way or another.

Kate’s next stop was Hall Beach,  Nunavut, an Inuit settlement with the Qikiqtaaluk Region of Nunavut, Canada. It is called ‘Sanirajak’ in Inuktitut and it is the oldest known permanently inhabited community existing north of the Arctic Circle.

Hall Beach is home to some of the most beautiful and photographed sunsets and icescapes.

 


Mother Nature is not the only artist in Hall Beach. There are a lot of creative residents and they show us how talented they are by decorating The Youth Center with their artwork.

Inside the school you will find the hallways painted with some magnificent murals.

Beauty to be found inside and out.

*We continue to follow Heirloom Portraits Photographer Katelyn Krueger in Northern Canada through her pictures and thoughts.*

Kate redefines the “Big Chill”

Our Kate seems to have garnered a bit of attention with her journey. Just before Christmas a reporter from the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) contacted us and wanted to know more. In our eyes Kate has always been a “Star” but now a few more people can appreciate her.

The first installment read like this – Travelling Photographer ‘brought to tears’ watching northern kids grow up and had a lot of fun pictures in it.

This version actually is a little video of what Heirloom Portraits does and has Kate’s voice telling the story – One travelling school photographer describes watching northern kids grow up

When all is said and done, Kate is still on the road (or ice highway, if you like) and has a few photos for us from Pond Inlet, Nunavut.

Pond Inlet is a small, predominantly Inuit community in the Qikiqtaaluk Region of Nunavut, Canada, located in northern Baffin Island. Pond Inlet was named in 1818 by explorer John Ross for John Pond, an English astronomer. Wikipedia. As of the 2016 census, the population was 1,617, an increase of 4.4% from 2011. – Wikipedia

 

Welcome to Pond Inlet, NU

Was lucky to see this as the next day it snowed to never be seen again this year by me.

A harvested Narwhal

… another cruise ship

It’s easy to see why there are cruise ships around when you can see icebergs and spectacular sunsets like these.

I don’t know about you but I’m looking forward to Kate’s next stop. See you there.

*We continue to follow Heirloom Portraits Photographer Katelyn Krueger in Northern Canada through her pictures and thoughts.*

Now, where were we? Ah yes, Clyde River, Nunavut.

Clyde River is an Inuit hamlet located on the shore of Baffin Island’s Patricia Bay, off Clyde Inlet, an arm of Davis Strait in the Qikiqtaaluk Region of Nunavut Canada. It lies in the Baffin Mountains which in turn form part of the Arctic Cordillera mountain range. – Wikipedia

Clyde River in the Inuktituk language is Kanngiqtugaapik (Nice Little Inlet). It is also known as the “Gateway to the Fiords”. Here is Kate’s Clyde River…

Town in the background — at Clyde River, Nunavut.

In love with the view here.

Still in love with the view

This very small town provided Kate with some of her most memorable moments. There was extremely diversified subject matter, including

boats of many colours.

Magnificent giant bones.

Bowhead Whale Bone

Ribs of the Bowhead Whale

Part one of Bowhead Whale (head)

Part two of Bowhead Whale (body/ribs)  *(this part attaches to the head with those two black spots of part one photo)

Part three of Bowhead Whale (tail) — at Clyde River, Nunavut.

The next discovery was a first for Kate.

Polar Bear tracks (not so recent ones)

More Polar Bear tracks (more recent)….

Then we found him & followed him! NANUQ!!!! (my first)

NANUQ!!!! (my first)

NANUQ!!!! (my first)
*jumping over the waves*

There were a few other white furry surprises for Kate.

Pupppppppppies! Will be sled dogs next year.

I wanted to take this one home. Just too cute.

There were icebergs a plenty.

So many Icebergs in the distance – This is what the tundra looks like for anyone curious.

Lots of Icebergs

And the inevitable…

Of course there is an Inukshuk and I have a photo with it. What’s not to expect?

Town in the background

I think it is safe to say that this is one visit to Clyde River that Kate won’t soon forget.

Community of Clyde River from the hill across the pond.

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