Posted in Freedom Friday, Photo Opportunities

Canada Day 2015

Canada Day has always held a special meaning for my family and I. Given we live in a small town an hour north of Toronto, our celebrations are not as low-key as one might expect. We have crowds from the surrounding towns. We have lots of food to consume. And we have fireworks.

This year was no different.

For those not familiar with the holiday, Canada Day is equivalent to the American Fourth of July. Instead of red, white and blue washing the crowds with color, we dawn our own colors to create a sea of red and white. It really is an awesome experience when traveling through Main Street to the lake in the middle of our town where all the festivities take place.

Canada Day Celebrations
Canada Day Celebrations

This year, my family and I took advantage of the silence on our street to sleep in until late in the morning before we decided to head to the lake. I can’t say how wonderful it feels to actually sleep in again after years of battling with insomnia. You can read about it from my previous articles I’d written about the subject.

We left home just before noon and drove five minutes to where the town had cordoned off the area to foot traffic. In this case, timing was everything. We found one of the last parking spots available. You can imagine how happy we all were when that happened.

Our leisurely walk began with a live band playing Celtic music on Main Street. While some of the crowd negotiated their way around the platform, we stayed and listened. I don’t know how anyone else feels about Celtic music, but I love the emotion behind the genre. Given my wife is also from Nova Scotia, when listening to the guitars and vocals, I’m right at home stomping and clapping along.

Celtic music
Celtic music

Booths and specialty tables outlined the street featuring various services available to the locals. One such booth was giving away free popcorn while another highlighted produce from the local farms in the area. I’ll have to write an article specifically for the farmers in our region dedicated to producing quality foods at low prices. I’m telling you, the fruits and vegetables are delicious.

The other part I enjoyed about our celebratory activities is that they are kids-friendly. Event participants had brought in blowup castles where the children could jump to their heart’s desire without hurting anyone. This was a great way for the little ones to expend all their energy before heading home. What parent does not like that?

Blowup jumping castle
Blowup jumping castle

We then headed to the lake where the activities shifted to a more grownup theme. There still were the face-painting tables and the free food samplers given to all visitors, but added was the live band that played modern music. More than any other place, the teens and young adults centered their attention here. It was great nonetheless to see everyone have a great time.

The lake in the center of our town
The lake in the center of our town

One of the most interesting parts of the journey was the cheerleading school that put on a show for everyone. Funny thing about it was how we found it. Actually—I found it. I heard the thump of a bass. I heard the clips of music strung together with a beat. I turned to my wife and said, “That’s cheerleading music.” Seriously. I ran to the where the sound was coming from and there I saw them, tossing each other in the air and making others believe they could fly. For a moment, I believed they could fly. I wasn’t sure how long the school had opened in town, but I’m looking forward to what these kids have planned in the future.

Town's cheerleaders
Town’s cheerleaders

Our walk ended with having a treat from one of the ice cream trucks parked nearby and a few photos of the town’s historical society. I once explained our town was a colonial settlement back in the 1800’s that eventually grew into a bustling commercial center for weary travelers. The historical society preserves the artifacts of that bygone era and our family had the privilege to appreciate them during these Canada Day celebrations.

Historical society
Historical society
Historical society pose for the camera
Historical society pose for the camera

And if you haven’t guessed, it didn’t end there. Like every special occasion, we went out to eat. If you’ve been reading my articles for a while, you’ll probably know what type of food we had. I won’t describe it, but when we came back home, we were not only tired but stuffed!


How do you celebrate Canada Day or the Fourth of July? If not those, do you celebrate a similar holiday?

Posted in Women Who Wow Wednesday

Torrance Shipman

When I hear people say, “Oh, she’s only a cheerleader.” I say, “Yeah, can you perform a front handspring, step out, round off back handspring, step out, round off back handspring, full twisting layout?” That’s when the glazed look falls on their face. Torrance can. I wouldn’t have her performing full twisting layouts on Women Who Wow Wednesday otherwise.

Kirsten Dunst as Torrance Shipman
Kirsten Dunst as Torrance Shipman

Torrance Shipman (Kirsten Dunst) is up for captain of the Rancho Carne High School cheerleading squad in San Diego, California. We’re talking about the premier five-time national champions. Big Red, the current leader, is retiring. After a quick vote, Torrance clinches control and her first order of business is to assert her ascent to the throne. The dreaded words Wolf Wall fly from her mouth and everyone groans. Up they go, building one of the most fearsome pyramids in cheerleading. A few failed attempts doesn’t deter Torrance. She wants it. One last time and they make it, but in the air, the squad swivels, tilts, and shakes until Carver, their lead cheerleader, slips to her demise.

Les: You know, everyone’s saying that your ambition broke Carver’s leg.
Torrance Shipman: When really it was the angle in which she slammed into the ground.

Nothing will hold Torrance back from achieving a sixth national win.

Bring It On's Torrance Shipman
Bring It On’s Torrance Shipman

Bring It On is one of those movies that doesn’t have much of a plot, but it sure has a lot of heart. Spawning four sequels, whenever I need a good jolt of can-do attitude, I pop this into my player, sit back and let the positive vibes fill my soul.

Without giving too much away, Torrance’s challenge is keeping the team together after Big Red’s departure. This means quashing the rebellious takeover plans of two of the Rancho Carne Toros’ wannabe bosses and keeping everyone happy after a major revelation nearly disintegrates their chances at the Nationals.

Did you know that cheerleading accounts for almost two-thirds of all catastrophic sports injuries among high school girls? Imagine the enormous pressure on Torrance’s shoulders after Carver’s accident. Any ordinary person would have said buh-bye. Not Torrance.

Among the best attributes in Torrance’s character is her unwillingness to quit. No matter what gets in her way, she seems to thrive on overcoming obstacles. Her determination of wanting to remain the best causes her team to rise to new challenges, explore new ideas, and work harder than ever in order to attain perfection. She’s not one to take it in the chin and lie down. She a fighter. And fighters tend to go the distance, even if they are cheerleaders.


Have you seen Bring It On? What did you think of Torrance? Did you like how she led the team in spite of the failures?

Posted in Freedom Friday

The Elephant

I had a dream the other night. I think it safe sharing it with you. I mean, it’s not like you’re going to tell anyone, right? Aw, heck, it is Freedom Friday so if you feel like telling someone, go ahead. I won’t stop you.

Elephant/Butterfly by saulinis
Elephant/Butterfly by saulinis

I dreamt I was leading a marching band. One of those big, fat New Orleans’ marching bands. You know the kind, with the flutes shrilling, trumpets blaring, and drums banging. I blew on my whistle, twirled my baton—the whole bit, really. I was in my element. As I led the zombie-like musicians through the street (they weren’t zombies, they just followed me that way), an elephant appeared right in our path. I kid you not. It stood there not moving. We had to come to an abrupt halt. No more shrilling, blaring or banging. And no more whistling or twirling for me. A dead stop.

I looked at the elephant hoping my stare would cause it to move. It didn’t move. It just thrust its trunk back and forth, and blew a heavy sound. All I wanted it to do was for it to move from our path in order for us to continue doing what we did best—make music. It wasn’t having any of it. It sat its dump truck behind on the pavement and wouldn’t budge.

When I awoke, I immediately wondered what I had eaten the night before. It was unusual to have a dream this vivid and remember it in detail the next morning. I thought back on those tacos stuffed with spicy meat, shredded cheese and delicious salsa. It couldn’t have been the tacos. I wasn’t burping them through my nose.

McDonough #35 Marching Band
McDonough #35 Marching Band

As nighttime neared, I prepared for sleep. My nighttime ritual consists of kissing my wife, saying goodnight to the kids, changing into my PJs, brushing my teeth, going to the bathroom and making up the bed. It’s during the course of making up the bed that my mind races a mile a minute recapping the day’s events. It was here where the thought of the elephant kept pounding my head. It wouldn’t let go. Stupid elephant.

That same night, I fell asleep and dreamt of the same big, fat New Orleans’ marching band. The same flutes shrilling, trumpets blaring, and drums banging. And of the same stupid elephant sitting its massive rump on the pavement where we needed to pass. The next morning I was at a loss. Is it possible someone was trying to tell me something? Was my subconscious playing tricks on me? Had I crossed over to the throes of insanity, never to regain my tempered state?

Therefore, I did what any other person would have done on the brink of a mental breakdown. I told a friend. I blurted out everything, the band, the elephant—everything. My friend thought for a moment and said, “Don’t ask, why the elephant got in your way. Ask, why you were leading a big ass marching band.”

Could I have missed the obvious? I was so busy worrying about the elephant that I’d forgotten about the band. Once I looked at it that way, I wondered where all the cheerleaders were.

Ever have strange dreams? Care to share? Promise, we won’t tell.