Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Year’s Eve (2013)

It is late afternoon on New Year’s Eve, also known in other parts of the world as Old Year’s Day, Veille du Jour de l’An or St. Sylvester’s Day, the last day of the year, December 31st.  I imagine there are a respectable number of people about to begin the celebration of New Year’s Eve.  I am guessing there are men and women preparing their costume for the evening particularly if they’re planning to attend a formal occasion though they may only be donning some (possibly new) comfortable clothing for a more casual rally.  Very likely there are people who are in the frenetic throes of final preparation of food and drink for themselves and guests.  Certain couples will have made plans for a private and perhaps elegant celebration whether on home turf or in a romantic resort.  Perhaps even complete families have something special in mind to mark the occasion.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Doing Nothing

While it would be a sizeable stretch to label me a man of action, if one ignores the James Bond theme I easily qualify as someone who prefers activity to serenity.  Nonetheless there are times when sitting still and doing nothing can be really quite pleasant.  For example, after a long and exhausting bike ride I especially enjoy reclining in the sun on a chaise longue; or, if the weather is cooler, taking a nap.  Reading a book almost anytime is always profitable (though my preference is either at the end of the day in a comfortable chair with a martini or on a beach where I may be moderately distracted by the Ocean and sea grasses).  A steam bath or sauna, particularly if punctuated by a revitalizing swim, is equally agreeable. I won’t object to watching a stimulating movie or attending a theatrical performance.  I have even been persuaded without regret to take a guided tour when visiting a new place.

Saturday, December 28, 2013


Tourists as a class of people are subject to much disdain. The vilification is popular not only in cartoons (where the sloppy casual appearance of over-weight and brightly dressed tourists are regularly ridiculed). Tourists generally enjoy a poor reputation for public performance.  The real proof of the snootiness is the mere fact that you have probably never entertained a tourist in your home. Tourists inspire a degree of derision which invites aloofness. Even when the shopkeeper or innkeeper makes his or her living from the business, entertainment or accommodation of tourists it is a thinly veiled secret that they disparage the sight of tourists.  Small wonder therefore that as a tourist on foreign soil you are liable to face a predictable lonely existence and there is no amount of expenditure which will garner the same hominess of friendly acquaintance as in the place where you live.  At best a tourist can count on token deferral and polite condescension.

Picture our delight therefore at having spent a thoroughly agreeable afternoon today on Hilton Head Island with two people whom we hardly know, two fellow tourists.  In spite of being thousands of kilometers from home we four enacted an afternoon ceremony worthy of the most refined social foregathering.  Initially it may be tempting to compensate the exuberance of the congregation by dismissing it as a chance encounter of people who hail from the same provenance.  Certainly it was pure coincidence that we first met a year ago on the beach near Coligny Plaza, they walking their handsome French bulldog Max, I recovering still from the loss of my own Frenchie.  But nothing came of that encounter until by pure chance the same collision of people and dog reoccurred exactly one year later!  Well!  I mean to say!  If ever there were messages in the stars!

As a result it was but a small revelation to receive a generous invitation from our new acquaintances to rally with them for a drink at their place in Sea Pines at 1:00 p.m. today, Saturday afternoon.  Our hosts, J and A, are a married couple – at least that is what we presumed; and he runs a sole proprietorship.  Other than that we knew nothing of them and likely they knew even less about us until today.  Yet the short-lived alliance had all the hallmarks of workability and at the very least respectability and promise.  Accordingly it was without indecision that we gleefully accepted our unique invitation and began looking forward to it, wondering from time to time what was to come of it.

This afternoon as we drove into the laneway which led to our hosts’ habitation, we encountered the Laird of the Manor dutifully walking his faithful French bulldog Max.  The sight of them instantly raised our spirits as we are perpetually in need of a dog fix. I parked the car in the drive and was immediately greeted at the door by Her Ladyship, an eye-catching Nordic looking woman.  We all retired into the home and went about a summary tour of the place, exchanging comparative observations about the various rental opportunities on the Island.  Naturally Max monopolized a considerable amount of our time (a predisposition which by the way continued unabated during the subsequent three hours of our gathering).

Friday, December 27, 2013

Routine Paradise

As inclined as one may be to characterize a holiday as “getting away from it all”, it would appear that deep-seated convention trumps novelty. Possibly because I lack innovation (or worse, inspiration) it apparently requires no more than seventy-two hours for me to establish a patent and less than glamorous routine in any environment. The only difference this morning, for example, was that with the benefit of two days’ reiteration the agenda was accelerated.  As usual we busied ourselves early this morning (between 2:30 am – 4:30 am) with our computers.  It is pointless to toss in one’s bed if the mind is revolving.  Better to get up and distract one’s self with industry. Given the holiday nature of these days and not being preoccupied with my law office I find I am spending time on web sites which normally would exhaust me either by their uselessness or their dreariness, things like Facebook and LinkedIn, both of which I unreservedly lump in the same heap as Twitter – vacuous natter.  But my insistence to master the fundamentals of modern technology drives me nonetheless to address it.  I am also consuming a great deal of my time amending profiles on a number of other material web sites since I lately changed a common email address (to correct at long last a stupid spelling mistake made by Bell years ago).  The repercussions of such trivial modification are incredible!  This is especially true now that so many sites are connected to one another and because we have no less than five computing devices with us on this trip alone (four fewer than we have when on home turf if you can believe it).

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas Day at the Beach

Our winter vacation this year began exactly one week ago today, Wednesday, December 18th one hour after the MRPC Board of Directors meeting.  It was a leisurely three-day drive from the Canada to Hilton Head Island buoyed by the usual holiday exhilaration and latterly compensated by the longed-for sight of magnolia and palm trees.  While there was nothing particularly punishing about the trip other than having to stay focussed on the road for six hours a day it nonetheless took its toll.  Even as late as last night for example we were in bed shortly after eight o’clock and it wasn’t until about six-thirty this morning that we surfaced to face the new day.

It's Christmas!

My sister Lindy and I have never relinquished the child-like exhilaration of Christmas morning.  Admittedly the hysterics we contrived as children to the lead-up to Christmas have waned over the years and the memories of them are now more than a bit hazy, but we still recall the signal initiation to Christmas morning: “It’s Christmas!”

Monday, December 23, 2013

You only turn 65 once!

Having survived the Winter Solstice, and having this morning awoken with anticipation to our first full day in the condo on the beach, I commence settling into the not unwelcome routine of vacation.  This year is especially noteworthy for me not only because I carry on rejoicing in the generosity of the past month but also because I mark a point of departure.  Apart from recent commercial attainments (long-awaited conditions precedent to moving forward), it is equally important to me that I have attained the age of 65 years, a milestone which I view as a landmark in my life.  Why it should be so I am not entirely certain, but nonetheless the event marks for me no less than a time for contemplation and personal rejuvenation.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Home for Christmas

One must adjudge that for Canadians in general Christmas is the Big Scene on the year’s tabular array. Unlike Americans who apparently distract themselves beyond recognition for the Thanksgiving Holiday (think of the winsomeness of Pilgrims and wild turkeys), Canadians prefer instead to immerse themselves in the nostalgia of skating on a frozen pond and everything rustic that is manifested by a Cornelius Krieghoff painting reminiscent of "the hardships and daily life of people living on the edge of new frontiers" (Charles C. Hill, Curator of Canadian Art at the National Gallery). This selected ambiance of holly berries, freshly-cut spruce boughs, a blazing hearth and frosted window panes is second nature to hearty, healthful Canadians. The Christmas season combines and heightens the elemental dimensions of traditional Canadian life in addition to heralding the midwinter solstice and the wretchedness that is winter.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

A Christmastime Story

This is a true story, one which I heard on CBC radio many years ago around Christmastime. One of the radio listeners - a woman - called CBC to relate the events which had recently transpired.