Thursday, February 19, 2015


            There's nothing like a good old run-in with a nasty winter virus that slipped by the flu shot to make you feel positively mortal. Not that I was, or am, immortal or anything but sometimes one gets cruising along and feeling pretty good about one's self and taking one's health for granted and thinking that you will always feel good and then...wham! It hits you right between your eyes, or your ears, or your whole damn body, as it were.
            There never seems to be a good time to get sick but I guess if I had to pick one week of the year to lie around in bed or on the couch then the middle of February would be as good a time as any.
            Then again, having said that, a perspective reset is good at any time of the year. It's pretty hard to lay in bed going through the fever sweats, shivering and shaking away and not feel sorry for yourself but I'll take a bad flu over a terminal illness any day of the week. Perspective's the thing. Some say perspective is the only thing. There's a quotation out there that states, "Life is 10 % of what happens to you and 90% of how you react to it". Ain't that the truth?
            But being a bit of a multi-tasker I found that I could do both things at the same time. I could lay around feeling sorry for myself and "woe is me-ing it all over the place" while accepting that things could always be much worse than it is. I knew that one of these days I would be able to get up off of the couch and rejoin society at some point. Many other people don't have that option.
            I did, then, make time for a small personal pity-party for myself. I knew the flu wasn't going to kill me but I was still going to miss some interaction with the Grandkiddies and Valentine's Day along with the Family Day Long Weekend were going to be a bit of a bummer while being sick and all so don't blame me if I wasn't the happiest of campers for a while there.
            Again, perspective came in to the equation and I decided that there could be some good use of my wasted sick time. So between bouts of fever delirium and the over-the-counter-cold-medication's side affects I was able to finish a couple of books, Stephen King's latest, "Revival" and Saskatchewan raised hockey coach Mike Babcock's inspiring book, "Leave No Doubt", both must reads by the way, while also taking the time to review some old movies and documentaries. So...time well wasted.
            A few years ago, after some back surgery, I was unable to perform a lot of activities due to the physical restrictions of the surgery but I vowed that I'd make up for lost time. Ditto this past week's illness. Being sick prevented me from following my workout schedule but it also gave my body a few extra days rest as well. You know, Yin and Yang. Take the good with the bad. Make a positive out of a negative. I may have been down but I wasn't completely out. There you go...sounds like I'm cliché-ing my way out of the doldrums. Whatever works.
            Now that you've got my perspective on perspective I hope you'll put it to good use should you find yourself on the sick side of the couch for a few days this winter.

"That which does not kill us makes us stronger."-Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900).

Tuesday, February 3, 2015


           Well, once again, it’s Groundhog Day and the prognosticating rodents have cast their die. Did you know that there are no less than 31, yes, I said 31, groundhogs in North America that are called upon to predict how long the winter will last. This year’s score: 16 say there’ll be 6 more weeks of winter; 15 call for an early spring and 1 is disputed.
Disputed?? Hmmm? Apparently, Jimmy the Groundhog from Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, bit the mayor and nobody really knows what that means except maybe the poor thing just wanted to stay in bed, or something. And maybe the mayor should be looking into a tetanus or rabies shot. Just sayin’.
            According to folklore, if it’s cloudy when a groundhog emerges from its burrow on the 2nd of February then spring will come early; if it’s sunny, the groundhog will supposedly see its shadow and retreat back into its burrow and winter weather will persist for six more weeks.
            Most of the groundhogs hail from the United States with Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania’s, Punxsutawney Phil being the most famous groundhog; mainly because of the 1993 movie “Groundhog Day” where Bill Murray’s character is a news anchor covering Groundhog Day from Punxsutawney, PA. That movie had Groundhog day repeating over and over and over and over giving a second meaning to the term “Groundhog Day” but that’s a different subject to be covered at a different time.
            The two most famous Canadian groundhogs are Wiarton Willie, of Wiarton, Ontario and Shubenacadie Sam who hails from Shubenacadie Nova Scotia. Balzac, Alberta has a Balzac Billie, (be still my tongue), and Manitoba Merv or Winnipeg Willow, (pick one), representing the city of Winnipeg. The good news is that only Shubenacadie Sam predicts a longer winter from the Canadian Groundhogs listed above.
            You’ll notice that there isn’t a Saskatchewan representative among the Groundhogs listed and that’s because Saskatchewan Groundhogs know that it’s still too damn cold to come out looking for one’s own shadow, for crying out loud, and it also knows that only six more weeks of winter is an early spring around here! Jeez, six more weeks takes us to March 15th which, to me, would be a lovely time for winter to end.
            I got to wondering, though, who’s the guy…or guys and gals…who figured this whole shadow finding thing out anyway? Who tracked it? Did all of the other folklore weather predicting tricks stop working? You know… pig spleens and such or was the guy playing a joke on the rest of the town and it just caught on? Who knows?
            What I did find was that in the United States, the celebration of Candelmas, (a celebration of Jesus’ Presentation at the Temple), coincides with Groundhog Day and a long-ago diary entry implies that Groundhog Day may have come from a German-American Candlemas tradition. James Morris, a shopkeeper from Morgantown, Pennsylvania, states in his diary from February 4th, 1841 that, “Last Tuesday, the 2nd, was Candlemas day, the day on which, according to the Germans, the Groundhog peeps out of his winter quarters and if he sees his shadow he pops back for another six weeks nap, but if the day be cloudy he remains out as the weather will be moderate.”
            Well, there you have it. Mystery solved. Kinda.
            Apparently the Scots had similar thoughts as there is an old Scottish poem that states:
            “If Candle-mas Day be fair and bright, winter has another fight. If Candlemas Day brings clouds and rain, Winter will not come again.”


Here's a reprise of a little Christmas poem I threw together for you. Three Kings, shepherds and a babe in the manger. The E...