Today is Victoria Day, a statutory holiday in Canada, in honour of the Queen who signed off on that whole Confederation thing back in 1867. I start with photos originally taken for my photoblog back in 2019, taken on Victoria Day that year, when the traditional salute by artillery is done on Parliament Hill at noon. I shall see if it's still the same here today, as the work on the Hill itself means that this spot is not accessible. Perhaps out on the lawn?
Faith Can Move Mountains... But Dynamite Works Better
Monday, May 23, 2022
At the stroke of noon, the cannons start, with soldiers manning the big guns. It's a lot of noise.
That same year, but some months earlier, I was inside for a tour of Centre Block. The Library of Parliament is behind that building, and inside is a statue of Queen Victoria as a younger woman. It is the most beautiful room in Ottawa- and presently inaccessible due to the ongoing rehabilitation work on the building.
I would not be me if I weren't taking the time to make some merriment of the occasion. Even if Her Majesty (Vicki to those who know her) would not approve. Happy Victoria Day! To my Yankee readers... well, you're working today.
Wednesday, May 18, 2022
Maple Leafs Blow It Again, Fans Caught In Five Stages Of Grief
Toronto (CP). It is a truth universally acknowledged that a Toronto Maple Leafs fan must be in want of hope of a Stanley Cup parade. Despite their record. Once again Leafs Nation is heartbroken, as their team went down to defeat in Game 7 of the first round of the playoffs on Saturday night, and in the days since, their fans, who have been deprived of a Stanley Cup parade since the team last won the Cup in 1967, are struggling to cope with the unthinkable to them, and the obvious to everyone else: their team specializes in screwing up when it counts.
The Tampa Bay Lightning vanquished the Leafs in the seventh game of a best of seven series that many objective observers saw coming. "It's simple," Charlie McGuire, a writer with the Hockey News observed. "Once they're under pressure, and it's do-or-die time, the Leafs will start saying about how they're going to get their game going and put it all out there and rally back... but that's just talk. Because you know that they know that they've already lost. And that Game Seven ends up just becoming a knife that grinds into the team, and then grinds into the fans. It hurts. Unless you're not a Leafs fan, in which case, it's hilarious."
In the days since the fateful night in which the Leafs maintained their annual tradition of blowing it when it counts, Leafs fans across Toronto and beyond have been seen in varying states of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. There have been fights in sports bars, people drowning their tears in their ever growing alcoholism, and pleading to God to explain why he hates the Leafs so much. "It's the only explanation," die-hard Leafs fans Jessica Carrier told this reporter. "God must hate the Leafs. Because I've prayed and prayed and prayed for twenty seven years like my parents did before me, and they're still not winning the Cup! It's not fair!"
Reached for comment, the Almighty had this to say. "It's true. I hate the Leafs."
Toronto bartender Duff Riley was more philosophical. "It is what it is. People come in to see the games, they spend money, they root for their team, and then they get their hearts ripped out and stomped on. And then they buy more drinks to drown the pain. Our job is to sympathize and pour more of those drinks. So from our point of view... we're selling a lot of booze and seeing a lot of adults cry. Selling the booze is the important part. Don't quote me on this, but Leafs fans are morons."
Three of the biggest fans of the team were seen in attendance at Duff's bar; all three of them are infamous for an incident several years ago in which they held the Stanley Cup hostage for a few hours and issued demands before getting their asses kicked by a cranky police inspector. They've since been banned from being near the Cup, which is usually housed in the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. "It's like this, man," one of them told this reporter, half drunk already. "It's one big ****in' conspiracy! They're all out to get the Leafs! They're out to ****in' make us all miserable! The refs, the NHL, you name it. Harry and Jack know what I'm sayin'! It's ****in' unacceptable! Because that Cup belongs to us! Go Leafs go!!!!"
At this point the man in question threw up on this reporter's shoes.
The five stages of grief, sometimes present in the average Leafs Nation fan every minute. Already online the bulk of them are making excuses and loudly proclaiming, "next year". As they did last year and the year before that and the year before that... and well, you get the picture. This has been a generational thing now handed down from their parents, fifty five years on, and it shows no indication that it will ever change.
Not that Leafs Nation can understand that.
The Leafs themselves have packed up their locker rooms for the season. Some will be back in October. Others will move on- perhaps to retirement or to other teams (where they may actually find themselves on a playoff contending team that can get past the first round). Leafs management will continue to ask fans to be patient and make promises that it'll all work out in the long run. And Leafs Nation, some still in anger or denial stages, will at some point join their compatriots over the summer in proclaiming that this year will be their year. Despite it never happening.
The last word belongs to a self-described recovering Leafs fan. James Porter is a Toronto attorney whose parents were Leafs fans. For much of his formative years, he was too. Until ten years ago. "I came to see the light. They're never going to win the Cup. I realized I was just getting my heart broken over and over again. My parents had been fans, and I had grown up with all that. And here I was, just part of the same cycle. I didn't want that anymore. Not for my kids. I didn't want them to get caught in that same vicious cycle. And so I broke out of it. I cut all ties, all those emotional bonds. And you know what? I'm better off for it. Better peace of mind than having your heart torn apart over and over again."
The wisdom of one who has learned the hard way. Too much to ask of so many members of Leafs Nation.
Monday, May 9, 2022
And now it is time for the point of view of that supreme being, the cat, who must, as always, have the last word.
7:01 AM. Waking up. Had strange dreams. An armadillo was in my house.
I really should not eat pizza with pineapple. That stuff always does weird things to my dreams.
7:03 AM. An inspection of the front yard from the back of the couch. Flying lunches pecking around in the grass. We could see some active weather today from the looks of the sky.
All of that is irrelevant. Where's my breakfast?
7:07 AM. Waiting patiently. Sounds from upstairs indicate she's up and about and in the shower. Good. Just so I get my breakfast soon.
7:18 AM. The staff finally comes downstairs. It's about time, staff, I was this close to coming up there and meowing at you. Now then, have you set your mind to your priorities? And by priorities, I mean, of course, my breakfast.
7:19 AM. Explaining my morning requirements to the staff as she sets to work in the kitchen, emphasizing my point with some head bonks to the legs. Now then, staff, meat and milk is what I'm interested in. None of those field rations you insist on feeding to me. Are we clear on that?
7:21 AM. The staff has set down a bowl of milk and a plate of salmon. These meet with my approval. Unfortunately she's also set down a bowl of field rations.
Staff, how many times do I have to tell you this?
I sigh, and set to work eating breakfast.
7:23 AM. Finished with breakfast. I am ignoring the field rations in the hopes that one of these days she gets the point.
7:37 AM. The staff is on her way out the front door. I remind her to pick up some milk on the way home. We're running short at the moment.
7:39 AM. Watching the staff depart in her car, off to that work place. Well, technically it's my car, since this is my property and my staff, but I don't know how to drive one of those things, and the only time I'm in it is when my staff takes me to that awful vet.
So then, how shall I occupy my day?
7:42 AM. I can hear the distant barking of that foul hound. Hopefully he gets skunked again.
8:29 AM. You know, there's no such thing as too many naps. In that spirit, I think I'll take one.
11:20 AM. Waking up. Big stretch and a yawn. Feeling hungry.
11:22 AM. Oh, that's right. The only food out in the open is that bowl of field rations.
Oh, well, desperate times call for desperate measures.
12:03 PM. The top story in the noon news has to do with a dog chasing the town mayor. No, this time it's not that idiot dog from down the road.
1:28 PM. I can hear the sound of that foul hound barking as the mailman drops off things at his place. Come on, dog, do you get that this is his job? He's not a robber. He's just doing his job.
Dogs are so dumb.
4:38 PM. Waking up out of a nap to the sound of distant rumbling. A look out the front windows suggests that active weather might be coming.
And if it does turn into a thunderstorm, count on that foul hound to cower like a baby.
5:15 PM. The staff arrives home at last. I watch her come in with some grocery bags.
Did you remember the milk?
5:23 PM. A great flash of lightning and a burst of thunder outside. And the rain starts. I take it as I take such things: with stoic calm.
Unlike that foul hound, no doubt, who's probably running for his life right this moment.
5:32 PM. Watching the lightning outside. Quite dramatic. Much to my liking.
5:55 PM. The staff is making dinner. The smell of cooking meat draws me into the kitchen.
6:20 PM. The storm seems to be lessening outside. I am busy observing the staff cooking.
Life is good.
6:41 PM. Dinner with the staff. She's having lasagna. She's given me a plate of ground beef that very much meets with my approval.
Yes, I'm spoiled. Your point being?
7:03 PM. Leaving the staff to do the dishes. I'd help, staff, but I don't like getting my paws wet.
7:35 PM. The staff is watching some Jeopardy. The answer is what is a gigawatt.
They should let me do this program.
8:23 PM. Lying on the couch, pondering the great mysteries of life. What is the purpose of red light lasers if not to annoy us?
11:31 PM. The staff is off to bed. Good night, staff, and sleep well.
But keep the bedroom door open.
I like walking on top of you at two in the morning for absolutely no reason.