Sunday, January 28, 2018

Robbie Burns Dinner, SFU Pipe Band, Executive Plaza Hotel, 2018

Another fabulous night of bagpipes, highland dancing exhibitions, warm friendship and haggis.  Thank you Lorne for your generosity. Admittedly I did support the silent auction mightily.
The Robert Malcolm Memorial Pipe Bands, the largest pipe band in Canada and likely North America, has young to old playing bag pipes and beating drums in the finest Celtic tradition. Well dressed gentlemen and ladies  gathered  together to celebrate what all the world knows as the greatest culture, greatest music,greatest dance of the greatest people of all time.  We are the humblest of people too. Robbie Burns is a fine e example of what one of us alone can do.  So rather than keep all this goodness and genius in one place we have spread out the world over in the greatest of diasporas If we are not the ‘salt of the earth’ then at least we are it’s  haggis.
Jim Gallagher was a wonderful MC.  The crux of the evening is the recital of Robbie Burns, Address to the Haggis or Ode to the Haggis.  Jim Gallagher did a fine job after the masterful piping in the glorious haggis.  This is the sacred soul food of holy scottish sheep guts.  A taste that’s unmatched the world over.  Something between oysters, snails, mutton, guts  and some sort of  mash, made better some would argue with a cup or two of 12 year old Scotch.  Some say it’s poured over the haggis while others argue it’s better as an appetizer. Apparently this   lessens the squeezing of the eyes and  pinching of the face that comes with first contact with the holy of holies, haggis. I had mine straight up with the finest of gravies.
Of course we toasted the queen too.  The Chancellor of Simon Fraser spoke eloquently. Then Barbara Harris shared that she’d received her PhD at SFU and this SFU Pipe Band had piped her into convocation.  She was overjoyed with all the fondest of memories.
Ever since my friend Anne Lindsay of the Highlands took me to my first Robbie Burns Dinner some 25 years ago it’s always been special for me.  We especially like the SFU Pipe Band Robbie Burns Dinner but also have so enjoyed the dinner and dances at the Scottish Cultural Society and Robbie Burns Dinner with Blackthorn.   I brought Dr. George Chalmers and Jane  here 2 years ago and they  loved it. I introduced Lorne to the SFU Pipe Band Burn Dinner before that. Lorne’s been a life long lover of  bagpipe music.  Years past he took me to a spectacular tattoo of the SFU pipe band.   I knew he’d fall in love with their gala fund raising dinner if only because the affair is so  intimate.
I was wearing the blue Hunting Hay kilt which my nephew Andrew and his wife Tanya had chosen for their wedding.  I’d already expanded in girth beyond my red Royal Hay tartan. I can’t wear this blue Hunting Hay kilt without thinking fondly of my brother and I at that beautiful Ontario lake  and lodge wedding dressed in our Scottish regalia celebrating the first of Ron and Adell’s  children to marry.
Tonight however I’d not have been able to get mine  belted up were it not for Laura’s strength and guidance.
“It must have shrunk at the cleaners, “ I cried, after struggling for hours,  before admitting to Laura I needed help.
“Lie on your back. It’s how  we girls as teen agers, got our skinny tight jeans done up.” she commanded.
I assumed the position of shame and let her yank and tug and groan and huff and putf
“Success, “ she finally cried,  breathless, looking like she’d just had another hot flash.
The trouble came next with the belt for the sporam. It too had shrunk.  I had to replace the existing strap with the much longer strap from my over the shoulder computer bag.  That wasn’t too much trouble. The kilt was more the concern.
So I’ve already composed a letter  to the HAy Clan Chief, Merlin Sereld Victor Gilbert Hay, the 24th Earl of Erroll, Lord Hay,
"Dear Lord Hay, Could you consider an ‘expandable’ kilt material in the coming years.  It’s an idea beyond it’s time!"
Tonight’s haggis, a very fine meaty sweet local creation,  came with it’s own very appealing gravy that smoothed out the flow of the haggis down the gullet.  Some haggis, made too dry, gets caught in the craw. What follows is not a pleasant sight. But this was gray smooth haggis.  I do like smooth haggis.
Barb, Laura and Lorne were great fun to be with.  Lorne’s Glaswegian chess buddy Ian had come with his beautiful German wife, Christine. They’d left  their 5 children at home.  The impressive Stewarts were there with the delightful mother who dressed in magnificent ’Stewart Trews” for the evening.  Fun companions as well.
Selkirk Grace was said by Wayne Longstaffe
“Some hae meat, that canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it,
But we hae meat an’ we can eat,
Sae let the Lord be thankit”
The Executive Plaza Hotel’s roast beef and salmon dinner with the Haggis from Heaven was well prepared and served.The roast beef was delicious.  The Haggis was simply succulently unsurpassed.  Later the pastries and cakes were especially fine.  While we ate, a kilted accordion player and singers wandered among the tables with wondrous renditions of traditional Scottish songs.
There was as well a beautiful ballerina dancer demonstrating the  grace of the solo highland dancer.  She had such elegance and  her leaps had altitude.
Then the young high land dancers appeared , some so cute and tiny , it was amazing they had such skill so young. A great male bag piper played for all the Robert Malcolm Memorial Dancers.
Mean while between presentations we made trips to the silent auction to compete in our bids. Barbara had her heart set on a Harry Potter wand she actually won while I  was lucky with  Canuck’s tickets.
The Robert Malcolm Memorial  Grade 2, 3, 4 and 5 Pipe Bands played stirring sets.  I love the drums almost as much as the pipes. They’re a joy to watch. The 6x World Champion Simon Frazer University Pipe Band with P/M Alan Bevan ended the evening with truly amazing dexterity and complexity of sound. The evening built to this which helped one appreciate just why these pipers won world champions.  They all have lightning fingers and could scuba dive without tanks.
Holding hands round our table we sang Auld Lang Syne then gathered our Silent Auction successes before heading home. It was a rainy Vancouver night made so much warmer by the music, dance, food and grand company.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Vivian Seegers Ordination January 2018

Hallelujah! Rev. Vivian Seegers is now a deacon in the Anglican Church of Canada!
 I’m proud to say I’ve known her since she first began her dream journey at Vancouver Theological School nearly a quarter of century ago. I’d been a flyin doctor in Northern Canada when for years they couldn’t recruit doctors to work on the reserves. I’d also been honoured to work with Dr. Jack Hilldes and the Northern Medical Unit at University of Manitoba training indigenous people to be doctors.  With that back ground I was wholly supportive of Vivian who feared she’d never be able to shoulder the responsibilities given where she’d been. Rising above a past  of alcohol, residential schools, abuse and violence she became a leading medicine woman within her own Chippewyan community and one of the Sun Dance community.  This night she would take her hard earned rightful place in the larger spiritual  Christian community of the Anglican Church of Canada.
It was glad to be there ,seeing her family, especially her son,  and old friends we share in the recovery community. I was especially pleased to sit with my friend Bill.  I won’t “old" friend Bill because we’re so very young at heart.  Terrific to see Dr. Barbara Harris and our mutual philosopher friend, Andria. So many had come out that rainy cold night to share the warmth of this occasion.
Vivian was radiant.  The ritual was uplifting.  Right Reveverend Melissa Skelton, Bishop of New Westminster,  and the other priests were divinely human. I enjoyed the sermon by Reverend Emilie Smith.   The drummers made the old church vibrate.  We sang gospel songs and when the time came we all joined in saying we welcomed and would support Vivian.  She had said her vows much as in baptism.  But this was a different kind of total immersion.  The ordination ceremony was followed by eucharist.  And I was glad to take the blood of Jesus from Rev. Seegers hands.
Later over coffee, sandwiches and cake, Bill, Barb, Jolene, Ray and I shared together. I told these few how for years I’d attended this church St. John’s Shaughnassey, first when I lived down the street but more so when our mutual recovery friend played saxophone in the evening church  band.  Bill had been here then as well.  Small worlds.
Hallelujah! Hallelujah.  It was so good to be present for Vivian’s ordination.  

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Vancouver Motorcycle Show, Tradex, Abbotsford, 2018

I love the motorcycle show. It’s an annual tradition.  It used to happen a little later in the year. I used to ride a motorcycle out to the valley  without fear of snow.   Robbie Burn’s Dinner is later in the month and the two events overlapped.  I’d often be wearing a kilt and scottish regalia to the motorcycle show as we’d go from there to a fine dinner of Haggis and bagpipes.  
I’ve ridden my motorcycle wearing a kilt.  I’d not recommend it in Canada. Maybe Mexico. Nothing’s worn beneath a kilt. Everything is in good working order..  It can be mighty cold in Canada around this.  So cold as to freeze the balls of a brass monkey. And that proverbial monkey isn’t even riding a motorcycle.
I took the Ford F350 Lariat edition truck, my towing machine for my Fusion toy hauler. My  Harley Davidson Electroglyde is presently at Trev Dealey, having hot toddies and leather rubs.  Trev Deely keeps motorcycles through winter reading special night time stories about heroic motorcycles.    I’ve kept mine chained outside in the winter and it was a seriously bad year. I caught the motorcycle slipping a note to a passing truck to call  BCCOM to report cruelty to motorcycles.  I got the guys over.  We got the battery charger on my baby in deep snow, eventually fired her up and ran her for a while.  That was a bad year.
I had a HD Roadster from Barnes which I’d traded in for the Electroglide at Trev. The Electroglide  story began at the Tradex Motorcycle Show.  I saw an Electroglide one year at the Motorcycle Show and it was love at first sight.  I  just sat on it and knew I needed this bike. I even had my picture taken on it.  That night I dreamed of Sturges. That was the miracle of the motorcycle show. That was the machine made for the American freeway and the one I drove to Sturges.
 Emmet Fox in "Sermon on the Mount" talks about a loving god that wants God’s children to have good things.  Because our consumer monkey minds are all over the place wanting this that and the other thing, we don’t know how to ‘manifest’ reality but live in reaction to all the forces around us  If one knows prayer and accepts that prayers are answered, well, lets just say, the most amazing set of synchronistic events occurred, a miracle in my world.   Unexpected money was  Trev Deeley suddenly had had a slightly used year old Electro glide. The ride to Sturges followed.  The ride and being at Sturges in 2013 was it’s own miracle.  I love my HD Electroglide.
However I found myself looking at enduros this year. I was actually surprised at how many people make them.  Right now I have a Honda 500 Pioneer Side by Side ATV for off road hunting and fishing.  The trouble with Canada is that you can’t ride these on highways.  In Europe that’s not the case. I loved running into guys in Instabul and on Crete riding quads legally on the roads.  It would be a real advance for Canada to let us use them off the freeway.
I had a Honda 230 then a 250 CRF a few years back.  Both machines were spectacular off road and because they were street legal I could get a motel and ride on the highway to hunt off the logging roads in northern BC.  We’ve brought back deer hanging over the back seat  off road Hondas.
Indian had some really pretty bikes, looking good with their hassled side bags.  Yamaha ’s snow conquerer was everyone’s favourite.
I do think anything under 650 cc a little under powered for all day driving and especially high speed on the freeway.  My brother road his Yamaha 150 motorcycle across Canada as a young man.   My Electroglide is 1600 which is great for freeways and luggage and 2 people but alone I loved my Buell 600 and the Norton Commando 750 before that.  The Allied Troops in WWII used a 1200 Harley as their bike. I’ve seen one in the Canadian war machine. The Suzuki 650 enduro is really popular with several guys I know who have them. .  I loved seeing the actual Suzuki DR650 Dual Sport bike on display which Nevil Stow drove  around the world . Tough bike.  He’s off to South America this year. It’s definitely a mean machine and the best bang for the buck. Also
BMW makes great Enduros for more money. Generally you get more bike for more money too. My extraordinary academic friend  and his brilliant  wife used 2 BMW’s to ride a round South America a few years back before starting their familiy .  It was with BMW enduros that Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman did their amazing Long Way Round journey. Honda, KTM and BMW got to the final cut with them getting BMW1150GS all terrain motorcycles for the journey. I loved the book and saw some of the filming that was made into a tv mini series.  Incredible. there is a good  Long Way Round  in wikipedia.
It would just be nice to have a motorcycle you could do everything with.  Alternatively having 2 motorcycles might be the answer.  There were a whole lot of different machines at the show.  Also lots of leather. Lots of auxiliary equipment. A guy out of Richmond is making terrific metal side boxes.  I bought a beanie helmut mostly for use on my electric bike.  I did get a book written by a fellow who would a Kawasaki through central America.  A girl told me about her own trips in central america on a Kawasaki.  Can Am had some great quads and other innovative machines.
Then I met a couple of older guys who’d ridden up to Alaska. One on a Monda and the other on the KTM.  The KTM has been the great performer on the Desert runs in Dubai and Baja. Triumph had a  Tiger 1200.  Ted Simon made the Tiger 500 cc Jupiter  famous when he did his first circumnavigation in 1973. Aprillia even had an enduro on display as did Ducatti. Their enduro’s are extremely popular in Europe. I had an Aprillia scooter so am very fond of the reliable fine built machines.
The Ladies at Barnes where  I bought my first HD Roadster which I rode off rode to Skookumchuck sold me a HD t-shirt. They also found my HD togue which had fallen into my hood.
 It was an all round great motorcycle show.  I do “need” an enduro.  I think I’ll take a hammer.  I’ll  knock out a tooth and put in under my pillow tonight. Maybe that will work:)