2011 – The View From Here

2011 – The View From Here

Columnist Peter Stuart Brings in The New Year…


Well now, it’s a new day, a New Year, and I’m now officially one day older. So what does it all mean? I didn’t even watch any balls dropping in Times Square, or ‘Bye ‘Bye specials on Radio Canada, or the usual CBC TV special for New Years Eve. I couldn’t even muster the strength to stay up past a quarter to 8 PM last night! 

Yes siree folks, the end of the year for me has long become synonymous with taking stock of things, both literally and metaphorically. I usually take the opportunity of having some vacation time between Christmas and New Years to do some cleaning around the house, to get to clearing out stuff that hasn’t been attended to since the last major cleaning the previous spring. 

This year, on December 30th, I went to bed at 8 PM, with two cups of strong coffee in me, only to wake up at 3:30 AM, rarin’ to go, so I did. I had breakfast, and started cleaning. I did the bathroom, the kitchen floor, all the vacuuming, including moving pieces of furniture that hadn’t been moved in months if not years, and attaching that little fine vertical sucking attachment thingy to the vacuum hose to get into all the little nooks and crannies where no sucking thingy had been for eons. 

I cleaned out my filing cabinet drawers: Holy cow, did I ever dig out some crap. I was wondering why the bottom one wasn’t closing properly anymore. I thought to myself that maybe there was some paper that had fallen in back of the drawer in the inner bowels of the thing? So I pulled the drawer out until it was almost off its track and reached inside with my arm, amply scraping it on the sharp sheet metal in the process, drawing blood I’ll have you know, and found a whole rat’s nest of years worth of crumpled up paper jamming up the place. It took me what seemed to be forever to get it all out, and by that time, I was grunting, and bleeding, by the way. 

I ended up throwing out three full green garbage bags of paper into the dumpster out front of my place. Then I attacked my kitchen table. I cleared it all off of everything and wiped it down, as well as wiping off all the objects on it and soaking many of them in hot, soapy water, including the butter dish. I also pulled out the kitchen table and dusted behind it and got all the dust bunnies that were hiding there. I washed my place mats from the kitchen table, along with at least three other loads of laundry, and then attacked my book shelves, which hadn’t been re-organized in years. 

I got rid of a few books that I had no use for, and straightened out the rest of the shelves, making them look a lot smarter in the process, even going so far as to find certain items which I thought I’d lost. In the process, I found my Mother’s old 35 mm camera, with a film still in it, and a dead lithium battery. So I went to the pharmacy to get a new battery, and to mail a couple of letters, but they didn’t have a battery, and I set off the alarm at the Jean Coutu pharmacy’s anti-theft security system again, just like on René Lévesque. I had to go through the embarrassing routine of emptying all my pockets again to prove that I hadn’t stolen anything, putting my coat through alone without me in it, then going out again, having put all my bobbles back into my pockets. 

All that to say that by the time the post-supper hour came on New Years Eve, my body was aching from all of the bending and stretching and forcing I’d done all day, having been up since 3:30 AM, that I settled down in front of a muted TV, and listened to music quietly by candlelight until even the muted TV was too much, and I turned it off, and so was the music, so I turned it off, and the candles started burning out by themselves, which were starting to tell me something without me knowing it, so I blew the rest of them out, and tucked in for the night at 7:45 PM on Dec. 31st, 2011. 

A far cry from when I was in my twenties, when I’d go and paint the town red, and stay up to all ours partying, and consuming all manner of substances either controlled or otherwise. This brings me back to my first point. I’m one day older. What, if anything has changed in my life? My standard of living is pretty much the same. Decent, but not spectacular. I’d say one notch above the subsistence/poverty level, with potential to move upwards. I’m well health-wise, most of my big health challenges of previous years are behind me, and the health challenges of old age have yet to rear their ugly head, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed on that one, and making sure I take my meds as prescribed by my doctor, and get plenty of exercise, sleep well and eat right. 

What worries me are the billions of people out there who’re not doing so well. You see them on the news every day. The Arab Spring. Floods in the Philippines, in Pakistan, in Brazil, in Bangladesh, over thirty different wars raging around the world. That’s why I’m so grateful to live in Canada. We’re very blessed to be where we are. Forget the English/French squabbles of yesteryear, that’s water under the bridge as far as I’m concerned. Both Wolfe and Montcalm may have been enemies on the battlefield, but at heart, they were Brother Masons, and as such were honoured by their fellow Brethren by a common monument. You can see it in the Governor’s Park right by Dufferin Terrace beside the Frontenac Hotel if ever you take a stroll down in those parts. 

It’s a living testimonial to how the power of brotherly love can overcome all differences. And oh, by the way, I hear that both Wolfe and Montcalm have direct descendants. Apparently they both meet every couple of years on Grande-Allée for a few drinks and get thoroughly pie-eyed in the process! Now that’s my idea of taking stock of things, metaphorically-speaking, that is. 

Happy New Year, and God Bless you all!

About the author:

Peter Stuart is a freelance journalist and writer based in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. He has a degree in Canadian Studies from the University of Ottawa.
He has written Op-Ed pieces for the last ten years for publications including: Le Soleil, La Presse, Quebec Chronicle Telegraph and Impact Campus.
Peter writes in both French and English, and and has published his first book, entitled ‘The Catholic Faith and the Social Construction of Religion: With Particular Attention to the Québec Experience’. 
You can read more of Peter’s work by visiting his blog.

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