Monthly Archives: July 2015

The Heat is On

For almost a decade, I have spent part of every summer at a certain magical place. It’s fully described in this earlier post, so I won’t go into detail again now. Suffice it to say that, this year, we happily enjoyed the usual fun, food and frolic. Each day brought us remarkably perfect weather – save one. On our second-last day, the temperature dropped, the sky turned grey and a dismal rain fell all day, stopping just long enough for my daughter to take out a sailboat, fall into the water, and soak the four layers of clothes she was wearing.

Apart from the sailing, this particular vacation day was mostly made for sitting around: relaxing, reading and chatting, instead of the usual swimming, windsurfing and kayaking. So by early evening, the combination of low activity and abundant cuisine had us feeling antsy. My daughter and I decided to burn a few calories by speed-marching through one of the buildings, up stairs and down hallways, up hallways and down stairs.

It was thus on our travels that we almost ran over Grace, an eightysomething woman staying here for a family reunion. When we met her, she was pushing a walker slowly down the hall to her room, delicately balancing two cups of tea on her mobility device.

“Can we help you carry those?” I asked her.

“No, but you can help me with something else,” she said. “Do you know how to work the heat in these rooms?”

“Actually, we do!” I replied. I explained that we’d just worked it out for ourselves, as my daughter’s dunk in the lake had necessitated a drying out of various garments.

Grace, who’d thought I was a staff person, exclaimed, “Oh, you’re a guest here! You don’t even have to help me!”

As you know, it’s my personal policy that we all certainly do have to help each other, and I freely told her so. The three of us walked at a slug’s pace together, introducing ourselves and chatting. Once we reached her room, I showed her how to adjust the heat.

Grace promptly put it up to 90, the extreme upper limit. “That’s going to feel like a hot summer day,” I warned her. “That’s just the way I like it,” she countered cheerfully.

“Well, enjoy your sauna,” I joked as we turned to leave.

“You’ve been so kind,” Grace remarked. Then she added with a grin: “I hope someone is as kind to you, when you’re as old and stupid as I am.”

For the record: When I am indeed old and stupid (a case could be made that I’m already nearly both), I’m counting on all you younger whippersnappers to be kind to me.

And please remember, always, to book my annual summer vacation.

We had lake, we had dock, we had Muskoka chairs. It was all the makings of a quintessential Ontario summer getaway.

We had lake, we had dock, we had Adirondack chairs. It was all the makings of a quintessential Ontario summer getaway.

Sports Superstar

Imagine you’ve worked your tailfeathers off to prepare for a national track and field event. You’ve put in months of training, made major sacrifices, possibly said no to pie on more than one occasion. And then you arrive at the host city only to discover the airline has ripped your shoes. Not just any shoes, but custom-made racing shoes that precisely fit your feet and no others, shoes that cost you over $5,000, shoes you’d carefully wrapped in bubble wrap to prevent damage during the flight… shoes that can’t be replaced in time for the big event.

Wow, that would suck.

That’s the equivalent of what happened to Ryan Shay of Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. He came to Edmonton for the Canadian Track and Field Championships, planning to race his personal best in several events, hoping to qualify for the Parapan Am Games later this month.

Shay is an accomplished wheelchair athlete. The “shoes” the airline destroyed were actually the front fork and steering bar of his racing chair. Without this custom equipment, Shay was out of the races.

Luckily, Shay’s athletic rival (and pal, it should be said) Ben Brown was not going to watch his friend miss this hard-earned opportunity. He called mom and dad back home in Nova Scotia, and arranged for some of his own spare parts to be shipped to Edmonton. They were adapted and fitted in time for Shay’s competitions. They weren’t a perfect match, but they got him in.

And, happily, both Brown and Shay performed well enough to qualify for Toronto’s Parapan Am Games in August (the final Canadian team has not yet been named).

Shay had only glowing words for his friend’s good deed. “I just expect that from Ben,” he said in this news story. “Not just because we’re buddies, just because he’s a kind soul. He’s a great, great person.”

The men’s trainer didn’t seem surprised either. “We live in Canada, so it’s just our second nature to help a friend out in need. And… they both want the best for each other.” Let’s hope we see them both in Toronto.

You won’t see me for the next little while, though. I’ll be on summer vacation. (Hear that? It’s the gentle sound of a paddle being dipped into the water. By paddle, of course, I mean ice cubes. And when I say water, I actually mean a lime margarita.) Let the holidays begin.

Photo courtesy of ponsulak /

Photo courtesy of ponsulak /