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Clearly not my neighbour, but someone like him.

Clearly not my neighbour, but someone like him.

One of the world’s greatest bagpipers has moved onto my street. This is a good and not-so-good thing. 

As a native Nova Scotian, I have been known to burst into tears when confronted with a pipe and drum band.  I am inordinately fond of pipe music. It makes me emotional. The sight of a line of swinging kilts clutching armloads of pipes with the drums rat-a-tat-tatting right behind never fails to send me over the edge. Blame it on all those Natal Day parades in front of Lake Banook. Where I’m from, where most people have their own tartan, a party isn’t a party unless it ends with a drunk piper wheezing on the front lawn at 4 in the morning. That’s just the way it is.

However, it takes an enormous amount of practice to be one of the best pipers in the world, and the people in my neighbourhood can tell you that this practice happens religiously between 9 and 10:30 every weeknight.  Not that we’re complaining. It’s exciting to have a celebrity musician in our midst, and who hasn’t cut loose with the stereo or an amplified electric guitar once in awhile…live and let live, right? These last few weeks, we’ve been humming along, then closing our windows and putting the kids to bed under the cooling breeze and insulating sound of a floor fan.

Except last night, something cut the practice short. I’m not sure what it was. Speculation has arisen that it might have been complaints from a protective grandmother with visiting toddlers. Maybe the piper got a blister.  Whatever prompted it, a blissful silence fell over the neighbourhood. We switched off the fans, threw open the windows and breathed the sweet night air. It was lovely while it lasted, but I hope this is just a temporary hiatus.  I’ve never been the best in the world at anything – and I respect the amount of work and sacrifice (and practice) it takes to master an instrument as difficult as the pipes. When I listen to my neighbour work at it night after night, I feel like I’m part of his clan, and frankly, I’m rooting for him. Even when I close my windows.


Wednesday, July 22, 8:17 a.m.

Light rain and fog.

Unidentified man in navy suit jumps out of idling Prius, which is parked sideways in narrow passage of St. John Street lot.  Man looks around, removes one of three dark green sawhorses erected to a) protect grass and b) ensure access to large dumpster. Man wedges Prius into spot, parking on grass immediately in front of green dumpster.

Brad Woodside, wearing a tie

Brad Woodside, wearing a tie

I confess to not understanding the purpose of men’s ties. They occasionally give a little flash an otherwise boring uniform, sure, but other than that, what do they DO? Catch soup? Be hideously expensive? Get caught in doors? Make most men look downright uncomfortable on summer days?

This is why I am applauding Fredericton Mayor Brad Woodside’s twitter campaign to eliminate the need for ties in business attire.

On Monday he tweeted:

“Happy Monday. Why do men wear ties. Do men have to wear ties. I don’t like ties and I am not wearing one today to protest. It’ll be peaceful.”

On Tuesday, he tweeted:

“Gave a speech today and had a number of meetings No tie No problem We can change the world one person at a time You don’t have to tie one on.”

Brad Woodside is well-known for being a pretty cool guy. He’s on his seventh term as mayor of our little town and that alone should give him the right to decide what goes around his neck. I don’t think he needs to wear one if he doesn’t want to. Nobody should have to. I like bowties. I also like those little cravats, when the occasion calls for it. Maybe a scarf casually tossed over one shoulder. I also happen to believe that an open collar shirt and jacket, a v or crew-neck sweater or shirt are perfectly acceptable menswear for the office or public events. After all, what’s above your neck is ultimately more important than what’s around it.

My mother has discovered Skype. She called last month and asked if we could try it, because her friend Fran uses it to talk to her daughter. She and Fran are fast friends, but my mother doesn’t like Fran to get ahead of her on anything, especially when it comes to connecting with daughters.

It took us three weeks and several false starts to start talking via video, while we tried to figure out why a) I could neither see nor hear her (turn camera on) b) I could see but not hear her (purchase and install microphone) c) I could hear but not see her (enable camera on Skype).  The first time it all came together I had to work to convince her to put the phone down. She didn’t believe we were talking through the computer until she actually saw me through her computer without a phone in my hand.

My mother lives in Halifax, which is about five hours away. We talk weekly on the phone and are now strangely even more connected through this magical digital phenomenon. I now risk that little phone ringing everytime I go online, but I admit it is reassuring to see her smiling brightly on the other end of the video link, having just applied lipstick and fixed up her hair for the occasion. She wants to “see” me, she says. And more to the point – she wants to “see” her grandchild. It’s lovely to see the look of glee on my mother’s face when Lucy climbs on my lap and appears onscreen. Fran doesn’t have any grandchildren yet. At least Mom’s ahead of her on that one.

July 2009
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  • throwing my grammaaa a party today cant wait to dee the surprisment in her little face :) it makes me excitied evertime i see shes 99 now 5 years ago
  • genuine people dont come around often.If you find somebody real,enough to stay true,keep them close. 5 years ago