The Archives

By Jim Hagarty

Today, marks my entry into my second month of blogging.

That parade you hear going by your place this morning? Just one of the many taking place in cities and towns across the world to mark the occasion of Month Two.

A friend looked over my blog last week and couldn’t believe I had produced so much in such a short time.

But in classic fashion, it took me 50 years to become an overnight success.

So it’s confession time. Most of what I write here is new and fresh. But at least once a day I go down the stairs to the dusty Hagarty Archives and drag out some nugget or another.

Over the years, I have had more than 1,000 newspaper and magazine columns published. Fortunately, I have most of those now in digital format.

But it has been a hogwrestle.

I had no digital copies of most of what I have written over the years. I did keep scrapbooks of a lot of it. But being lazy and unwilling to retype all those stories into my computer, I had to photocopy them all, carefully cut them out, feed them through my scanner and use a great “optical character recognition” program to enter them into a word-processing program. Even then, the struggle was not over as OCR is never completely accurate. So I had to read through every sentence of every column, making corrections along the way.

There were whole swaths of material that I had not kept. This required me to spend hours in our local community archives, photocopying my stuff from the hard-copy newspapers they still have.

I probably could have found King Tut with less trouble and in less time.

And I am tormented by the writing I did but which I will never find. I don’t know how good it was, but it’s gone.

My goal is to corral all this stuff into a series of books which will sell like crazy, allowing me to live a Donald Trump-lite existence. Or at least as well as the neighbour across the street who has two Corvettes (really).
So now and then, if you are discerning, you might notice a story of mine has a Dead Sea Scroll quality to it. That one might have emerged from the Hagarty Archives.

To get to those, you go down into my basement, open a trap door, climb a ladder down to the subbasement in which you will find another trap door. The files are in boxes, right behind Tut’s old coffin.

New Word Alert

By Jim Hagarty

I am so proud of my daughter.

Last night, she created, what I think, is a new word.

As I was sucking on my seventh or eighth popsicle in a row – it’s hot up here in Canada right now – my little doggie jumped on my lap, eager to participate in the frozen treat bonanza.

“He thinks it’s a pupsicle,” she said. And he did.

She’s a writer too. And any creative writer who doesn’t invent words now and then is probably just a stenographer. (Kids, ask Grandma what that is.)

I don’t work with wood, except as a rough carpenter, with clay, wool or flowers.

I play with words like you might do with your tennis ball on Sunday mornings.

And years ago, in my mind anyway, I reached the pinnacle of my creativeness when I coined the word “geneosity.” I explained to my kids, who were baffled by their dad’s latest invention, that geneosity refers to my genius and my generosity. They reacted to my new creation, and have done ever since when I used it, with a very old and familiar word: the groan.

My geneosity is my being generous with my genius.

I thought it captured my personality perfectly.

My kids seem to believe I am indulging in a bit of insanosity.

Now that’s just a stupid word which I will never use again.

But maybe that’s just me being way too promisecute.

And of course, I discourage promiscutey.

Horsin’ Around

By Jim Hagarty

You know, we’ve come a long way.

Drivers have GPS and I see an ad now for a Ford that can park itself. I wonder if it also stuffs the parking meter with coins.

Amazing have been the advances in transportation over the past few years with many more to come including driverless autos and even flying cars.

But in another way, there isn’t much new under the sun and in some respects, what went before was just as incredible as what we have now.

I wasn’t around in the horse and buggy days (though I live in Mennonite country so the practice is still familiar) but I was just one generation removed and so the elders in my family had lots of stories to tell about the times before the horseless carriage came along. Stories such as fatal buggy accidents – not high-speed head-ons like today, but buggies overturning and the ensuing mayhem resulting in death. I imagine that was a lot rarer incident than traffic fatalities now, but it happened.

And for some farmers, the horse could double as his designated driver when too much imbibing was done by the driver. My Dad told a story about a farmer from around our parts in southern Canada who used to go by horse and buggy to town on Friday nights and hit the hotels, often getting completely pie-eyed during an evening’s fun. He’d make his way somehow to the buggy at closing time, crawl in and sometimes pass out.

No problem.

The horse promptly left town and carried its owner the almost 10 miles home, never missing a turn in the process.

Match that GPS!

Sometimes the farmer in question didn’t completely pass out, but instead provided the entire community along his route home with a free concert. On a still night in winter, the sounds of the inebriated man’s musical voice could be heard across hill and valley, seemingly for miles.

And while he was in the buggy, he didn’t need to take the reins but could sit there in comfort and sing while horsey did all the navigating and steering.

A wonderful John Wayne movie shot in Ireland in the fifties called The Quiet Man has some great scenes in it involving a little old matchmaker who practically gets thrown from his buggy while on chases through the village because his horse insists on stopping automatically and suddenly in front of a pub, a stop it had made many times before.

Just like GPS, I guess, horse sense has its limits.

Queen for a Day

By Jim Hagarty
Punn Ditt Inc.

I am sliding down a rabbit hole called the Hillary Clinton email scandal.

All I can say about it is, “Yikes.”

There are two possible outcomes, if the little I have read is accurate.

It all blows over, as Clinton supporters assume it will, and it will be shown to have been nothing but another attempt by Hillary haters in the U.S. to bring her – and her husband Bill – down. This is a real possibility.

Or, the almost year-long investigation by the FBI results in indictments. If serious charges are brought before the Democratic convention in July, it is possible Clinton withdraws from the race for the White House which would be an earth-moving outcome. If indictments come following her nomination as the candidate and before the November election, Donald Trump has a much better shot to become president.

And if indictments come after the election, which Clinton wins, then the United States is looking at either a voluntary resignation of the president or another impeachment.

The ironies write themselves, beginning with the fact that Clinton worked on the investigation of Richard Nixon who was forced to step down and who avoided imprisonment through a pardon by his successor.

There is talk now, though just beginning, of a last-minute entry into the Democratic race of Joe Biden with Elizabeth Warren as his VP pick. That sounds bizarre on the surface but a lot of Democrats do not want Bernie Sanders carrying their flag. And they definitely do not want Trump, an obvious point.

In my home, as I grew up, it was always American politics that captured our interest more than Canadian politics, even though we lived in Canada. My parents were transfixed by Kennedy-Nixon.

I love Canadian politics but to be honest, it so often looks like little league. Everybody gets a chance at bat. Everybody gets on base. Everybody gets a prize at the end of the game.

Nothing little league about the way Americans go about choosing their leaders. But the stakes are so much higher. In Canada, we are still, nominally at least, the loyal subjects of a Queen. In the U.S., it seems to me, the president is the nation’s king or queen.

The stakes could not be higher.

Steph and the Gals

Steph

By Stephanie Martin
www.almostfifty.com

Steph and the Gals (our temporary name) performed our first gig last night and we have lined up two more.

As a musician and music teacher, this has been a journey of friendship, fun and music.

Because I have been performing live for years and working as a musician, it seems completely attainable to me to play live but it’s not for everyone. However, to some music students with some great talent, we proved last night that we can do whatever we want to do.

Dreams are great at all ages and when people ask me if they are too old to learn guitar or play music, I say, “No.”

I think it may even be more important later in life than it is earlier because we need to keep rejuvenating ourselves with fresh, fun things in our lives. Age is just a number. Our souls are always young, always seeking.

Life has enough stress and responsibilities without denying ourselves potentially enriching activities. Real and deeply enriching activities. Things that we may desire and yet they take us out of our comfort zone, and when we actually do them, we are elated. High on life.

Everyone’s dreams are different and unique to them, but there is never a time to stop reaching for them. One hour a week committed to something enriching can fuel our gas tanks for a whole week and fill us with anticipation for the next enriching hour.

This latest project I have worked on with my students has been nothing short of a blast. So many laughs and newly formed friendships and some amazing music.

At our first performance for a great cause, we actually received a standing ovation, which was unexpected. We did not have an encore song chosen. So I pulled my end-of-my-evening song from my repertoire, which is a feel-good, sing-a-long song and we all performed our encore song.

What a great night for this group. What a great example of following our dreams and desires and challenging ourselves to do new things.

I remember around 18 years ago getting on my first coffeehouse stage playing my original music. I had performed before but this was new and I always had the jitters. Bands had a security to them but this was a completely new creature. It was both exhilarating and terrifying and I loved it.

Since I was young I have performed many venues from big audiences with full bands to solo gigs in pubs (my favourite) and still await a stadium or the largest bank of speakers I can imagine. But I still remember that magical moment of my first coffeehouse performance, the magical stopping of time and the great feeling I had.

I know how awesome that is to share with someone else, even though this has become my work, it is still a passion. Like writing.

So my blog is my new challenge and once again I am finding exhilaration in the experience.

We are never too old to enjoy life, to stretch ourselves, to put ourselves “out there” or whatever it may be we wish to do. Let’s follow our hearts, not follow the tribe (it moves too slowly for this lifetime) and let ourselves sing.