Cabin Fever Reliever

It was play day at school on Thursday … all afternoon.  Kids from JK to Grade 6 had eight activities to choose from, and they got to pick three of them.  What a marvelous thing for the school staff to create.

I decided to roam around the various rooms to see what tickled my fancy.  And “Minute To Win It” was my fave.  First there was “Elephant March”.  Imagine a pair of panty hose with a tennis ball bulging from one foot.  The waist band goes over your head, with the ball hanging in front of you.  Then the trick is to knock over two rows of plastic cups and water bottles.  If your elephant trunk swings are gentle, you can do it.  Too much oomph, however, and you get wildly out of control – about a zero chance of  upsetting anything.  It was hilarious.  Tiny kindergarten kids and confident Grade 6’s – it didn’t matter.  Everyone looked silly and laughter filled the room.

If impersonating a huge mammal isn’t your style, how about “Junk In The Trunk”?  Strap an empty Kleenex box just above your butt, fill it with eight ping pong balls and try to get them all dislodged in a minute.  Good luck!  Kids were upside down, right side up, jumping up and down, twisting and shouting.  Fun, fun, fun till the clock said 60.

I’m a pretty good spectator, but it was time for action.  My task was to keep three balloons aloft for the minute.  “I can do this.  I’ll pile the balloons on top of each other and then throw them straight up.  They’ll therefore be close to my body as they descend and it’ll be no sweat to send them vertical again.”  Ahh … the delusions of seniorhood.  How long did I last, you ask?  Three seconds.

Not everything was indoors.  The scavenger hunt covered the snowy schoolyard.  125 painted stones littered the landscape, apparently stuffed inside the bodies of deteriorating snowmen, hidden at the base of a climber, tucked into a little hollow – everywhere!

I told Jayne, the Grade 5/6 teacher, that I was on a mission to find one of those stones.  An hour before, I had watched a group of kids refine their search skills, and I vaguely looked around to locate my own personal treasure.  But I didn’t find anything.  Now, refreshed with preventing balloons from touching the earth, I knew this was my moment.

I told a gaggle of wandering children about my quest.  Immediately, I was deluged with:

“I know where there’s one, Mr. Kerr.”

“Come over here.  Look right there!”

“Let’s find one together, Mr. Kerr.”

So I was out and about with this short human being, then that one, and somebody else again.  Following speedy legs to all sorts of destinations.  But I still hadn’t located a stone on my own.  As the bell rang, signalling the end of the session, I trudged back towards the school, happy about my time with the kids, but sad with my empty hands.  And there, steps from the tarmac, sat a little snow drift, with a spot of yellow peeking out.  I too am a successful treasure hunter!

It was a smiley afternoon – for me, 15 adults and 200 young’uns.  Good for us.


Sometimes I wonder if I’ve left a lot of life’s goodies behind.  “Sure I did this in my 20’s but not anymore.”  To which I say “Why not?”  Take dancing for instance.

Last night woke me up.  I went to hear Angelique Kidjo sing.  She’s a dynamic songstress from Benin in Africa.  She strode out onstage with a huge smile, wearing traditional garb – a red, yellow and white “sari” and a headdress that matched.  I know that “sari” isn’t the right word but it’s all I know.

Angelique belted out all these fast African songs, each with a great beat.  And she danced!  Throwing her head back and zooming all over the stage, arms and legs moving every whichway.  And she was so happy!  I marvelled at the expressions of a full human being.

And then … towards the end of the concert, Angelique invited us all up on the stage to dance with her and her band!  1100 of us.  About 100 human beings took her up on it.  And there I was, boogieing my butt off in close quarters with dancers of all ages (including one 7-year-old girl, a whirl of limbs).  The music blasted, the audience wowed.  I looked out from the stage and took in all of Koerner Hall … such beauty in the walls, on the ceiling, in the seats.  And I too was happy.  I remembered other dancing times and smiled beneath the sweat:

1. Jody and I at an evening street dance in Vieux Fort, a tiny town in St. Lucia. We all were so packed in at that intersection that the only place to move was up and down.  So I bounced!

2. A staff Christmas party at a fancy restaurant in downtown London.  Jody later told me that people stared as I vibrated all body parts at a frantic pace in some skewed version of dancing.

3. Last summer in London’s Victoria Park, I threw everything around with hundreds of others to the music of Five Alarm Funk at Sunfest, our world music festival.  I looked around at a lot of 20-somethings, and precious few 60-somethings.  Too bad for those who missed out.

The truth is … I don’t want to miss out!  I want to dance.  If I’m to be with a lovely woman again, may she love to move and groove.  And if no such blithe spirit comes my way, I’ll dance alone through my remaining years on the planet.

So there.

Slip Slidin’ Away

I went on a class trip today with the Grade 5/6’s.

“In 1973, the Ska-Nah-Doht Village, located within Longwoods Road Conservation Area, was constructed.  It features a village reflective of the Native settlements found along the river close to 1,000 years ago.  This village, created with the information gathered by archaeologists and First Nation peoples, offers tours, workshops and an opportunity to see how First Nations people once lived.”

We made and decorated bowls from clay, sat in a longhouse, listened to our tour guide describe how important deer were to the native people, and saw the trees that these folks used so well.  Very cool.

But the best was being out and about with the kids.  On a break, I followed about fifteen of them along a road.  Down a little trail, we spied a pedestrian bridge spanning a shallow ravine.  The sign said “Maximum 40 adults”.  No sweat.  Soon we were all on the bridge, with the wood bouncing under our feet.  Great fun!

And then the question … Should I have allowed the kids to walk onto the bridge?  My answer – a resounding “yes”.  They had great fun and it was safe.  And the smiles were huge.

Later in the day, there was another opportunity to explore.  Maybe 20 kids this time.  A trail wandered through the sparse woods and soon we were at another hanging bridge, this one twice as long as the first.  Sadly, no bouncibility this time.  Five kids asked to climb down some steps towards a pond.  I said yes and watched their progress from the bridge, along with the remaining children.  One girl had found a 10-foot branch on the ground and recommended I use it as a walking stick.  So I awkwardly did, to the amusement of many.

A few folks wanted to break off some pieces of ice from the bridge and toss them into the ravine below.  I had them make sure there were no beings down there and then said “Go for it!”  More fun.  The kids who were near the pond climbed the hill beyond and joined us at the far end of the bridge.  Then it was time to go back.

Should I have been more cautious?  Should I have kept them off the bridge?  Should I have said no to the group who wanted to go near the pond?  Should I have said no to plummeting lumps of ice?  Well … I said yes.  Fun.  Safe.  I was watching.

And then the day ended.  We were back at the school with about 15 minutes to home time.  I was supervising 10 kids on the schoolyard.  Behind the Grade 5/6 portable was a circular patch of ice, about 40 feet in diameter.  The kids wanted to slide.  My answer was to head gingerly onto the ice and start floating along.  Right away, there was a line of 12-year-olds, soon zooming over the glassy surface.  Squeals of delight.  Bodies flopped every which way on the ice.  I loved it!

The small voice inside my head urged me to be aware of liability, school rules, angry parents.  Be careful.  The big voice retorted with fun, smiles and joy.  Be out there!  I voted for door number two.  The kids deserved it.



I was walking by the junior kindergarten door on my way to volunteering with the Grade 6’s.  There seemed to be a flurry of activity inside.  I wandered into the comings and goings of short people and saw that the class was having a spa day … hair makeovers and pretty nails.

A 5-year-old hairstylist invited me to take part.  I was ushered to a tiny chair and covered with a tiny plastic apron.  Then the clothes pins.  At least ten of them were artfully placed through my short grey hair.  After much debate, my two stylists declared that I was ready for the world.  Except for the nails.

Across the classroom I floated to the nail salon.  A palette of colours was presented to me by a young esthetician.  “I’ll take pink.”  That would go well with my glasses and fitness tracker.  Soon a brush laden with water-based paint descended towards my digits.  A few minutes later and I was as pretty as punch.

An assistant walked me to the floor fan, where my fingers dried.  Gosh, I looked good.  I really should go the spa more often.

I traipsed over to the Grade 6 classroom, where eyes widened upon my approach.  A couple of guys said, “That looks really good, Mr. Kerr.”  I wasn’t totally convinced of their sincerity, but there were lots of laughs too.

It was time to head home from school.  I was scheduled to visit a 92-year-old resident of a seniors residence with her niece, my friend Pat.  I asked a few 12-year-olds if I should lose the accessories and got a mixed response.  A few said dump it all, some said yes to one and no to the other and a couple of adventurous souls thought I should show her the whole enchilada.  So a full meal deal it was.  Was Thelma going to have a heart attack?  I’d soon find out.

On my way to London, I dropped into the Belmont Diner, my favourite haunt.  It pretty much came down to women laughing and men staring.  Not to be thwarted, I approached a few guys, telling them that they too could look like me.  All of them declined.

I was walking towards the front door of the home when I saw a woman sitting in a wheelchair.  I asked her if I looked good.  She said something fun and positive.  And I went off looking for Pat.  It turns out that the woman was Thelma.  I hadn’t seen her for 45 years.

The three of us sat in the lobby, enjoying coffee and tea (and cookies!).   Residents and staff came by, for some reason looking at my hairstyle.  I got many compliments and smiles.  I told them that it was the latest style from Paris.  I’m sort of a cutting edge guy, you know.

So … no heart attacks and lots of happiness.  I should see my young stylist more often.

Back in Belmont, I had a ticket to a community dinner in my hot little hand.  It was at the arena, at the far south end of town.  I’m at the north end, about a 25 minute walk away.  So again the question was yes or no.  I voted yes.

The walk southward was uneventful, just a few quizzical looks from passersby.  The real test was my entrance to the arena’s meeting room.  There must have been 150 folks chowing down when I walked through the door.  (Actually the door was open).  Immediately there was a mélange of raised heads and icy stares.  A few giggles.  I went over to my friend Rosemary to tell her my story.  She knows me well so I don’t think my coiffure was any big surprise.  Later she told me that several people had come up to her to see if she knew that man.  I’m pretty sure she didn’t disavow all knowledge of the human.

I saw a lot of men with arms crossed as they no doubt contemplated my sanity.  Women don’t seem to cross their arms so much but they too were curious.  I explained myself to my tablemates and really enjoyed heading out on the dance floor to get more baked beans or another glass of orange drink.  Hey, if you’ve got it, flaunt it!

Finally, I started visiting the residents of other tables, and the warm-ometer needle gradually rose.  After hearing me yap away about JK kids, I guess the adults realized I was a benign character.

So there’s my adventure.  It could be that a hundred people laughed at me.  Not a bad day’s work.



A Little Adventure

Why not create moments of oomph in my life?  And why not do it every day?

On Wednesday, I got an idea.  My neighbours Borot and Petra were about to leave on a 12-day Caribbean cruise.  They’d be spending a few days on the road before walking up the gangplank and they were so excited about it all.  Borot told me that they’d be setting off this morning sometime between 5:00 and 6:00.

So I did what any normal human being would do.  I bought a 20-pack of Timbits from my local Tim Hortons coffee shop.  They’re tiny donut balls – majorly yummy.  I went to bed early, setting the alarm for 4:15.  But I was too excited to sleep much.

After a morning shower, I brewed a cup of coffee, grabbed the Timbits, pulled on my winter coat, toque and mitts and sat down on the porch at 4:55.  I couldn’t wait for Petra’s garage door to start climbing.  I was ready to rush over with a Fare Thee Well present.

5:15.  Not a peep from two houses down.  Oh well.  The coffee’s good.  5:30.  The coffee’s cold so I rushed inside to the microwave, somehow believing that I could hear the garage door from my kitchen.  5:33.  Local human being bursts onto his porch, cup in hand.  Walks down the street.  Sees that there aren’t any lights on in Borot’s home.  Gosh, they better start showering soon.

5:45.  Nyet.  Those Timbits start looking good.  Then a possibility hits me: my friends left before 5:00.  Strangely, though I felt a twinge of disappointment at the prospect, I was almost giddily happy.  I’d never sat on my porch at this hour, watching pinkness grow in the east.  I was on a heroic quest but it didn’t seem to matter whether the result was produced.  The journey was lovely.

6:10.  Silence everywhere.  I imagined Petra and Borot zipping down the highway.  I thought of the Grade 6 kids I’d be visiting this afternoon.  I bet they like Timbits.  Twenty-seven children … twenty donut balls.  Oh, we’ll figure something out.

And we did.  Three kids were away.  A couple who were there didn’t want a donut.  The rest lined up in front of me and almost everyone thanked me for their little sphere of pleasure.  Two Timbits were left.  What if all three kids come back tomorrow?  Ahh, we’ll handle that too.

It was a fun day.  Here’s to many more.


And I’d Do It Again

It doesn’t make sense to head to Toronto at 5:15 in the afternoon to see a bonfire for two hours and then drive home.  It’s two-and-a-half hours each way, counting the ferry trip to Toronto Island.  But since when is making sense the way to go?

I’ve been to three brunch and concert afternoons at the island church this winter.  Marvelous food, sweet sounds and a bunch of friendly people.  Someone thought I should come on down for the humungous bonfire on March 21 and who am I to disagree?  There are about 800 residents on the island.  These fine locals save up their Christmas trees for the big evening in March.  I stepped off the ferry and followed the train of people and trees to the beach.  And there, past the bushes, was the glow.

As I got closer, embers rose forty feet above me.  Eventually, maybe 200 treegoers circled the flames.  The wind swirled, blowing the sparks this way and that.  Lake Ontario lapped onshore a few metres away.  And beyond the bursts of white and orange, all was dark.  Folks sipped their favourite beverage and chatted away.  Away from the fire, it was darn cold.  A young woman did wonders with a shining, multicoloured hoop.  A well-dressed band beat their drums for the twentieth year or more.  Gosh, it was fun.

I got back to Scarlet at 11:15, savouring the festivities.  I almost felt like an island resident.  A smooth two hours on Highway 401 and I’d be cozy in my bed.  The traffic was light and I was zipping along at 110 kph.  All was well … until Guelph.  Sideways snow jolted me and soon the car ahead was dimming, despite its emergency flashers.  A few kilometres later I could barely see it and 110 was now 20.  Plus I was gaining on the fellow.

As the margins of my world disappeared in whiteness, I imagined getting schmucked by a semi-trailer.  I was scared.  If that car wasn’t out front, I’d have no idea where to go.  “Okay, Bruce, get off this road.  You need to stay alive.”  I could just make out the sign for an off-ramp and I edged to the right.  Here it is, I think.  I could feel the slope of the road bending but were it not for those yellow diamond reflecting signs, I’d have launched into No Man’s Land.  Thank you, dear Ministry of Transportation.  I’d never noticed those suckers before but I’ll watch for them from now on.

I spent an hour at a Tim Horton’s coffee shop, sipping a brew and watching my heartbeat descend.  What exactly was I doing here?  Well, having fun … and there’s lots more of that to come.


It was Thursday afternoon, just before the kids headed home.  I heard “Let’s show Mr. Kerr” and here came two girls to reveal the contents of a margarine tub.  I’ll call them Jessica and Claire.  In the hollow of the container was a mass of green goop.

I know me.  I know what I’d do in such a situation.  I reached in and scooped out the greenness.  It rolled over my fingers and started a descent between them.  So cool.  I just stared at the flow while the girls watched my every move.  Some of the concoction plummeted back into the tub but much of it stuck to my fingers.  I believe Jessica and Claire were looking at my face more than my digits.  Joy bubbled from within.

I found out that Jessica was the author of this masterpiece.  Apparently it’s Borax, glue and God knows what.  I asked her politely, “Would you be willing to make me some overnight?”  She smiled and said yes.  Excellent.  I’d have my own special supply in time for the week of March Break (no school).

Claire and Jessica giggled their way out of the portable and I was left with “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”.  I was sure I’d see them tomorrow.

Last day of school.  I showed up for the afternoon fun day.  As soon as I opened the portable’s door and hung up my coat, Claire and Jessica traipsed over, margarine tub in hand.  I took off the lid … and there was first class slime of a delicate turquoise hue.  Into my hands it went, and it also journeyed to my heart.  Soon we were off to the various adventures which resided in some classroom or another.  My goop sat contented on the shelf.  Two hours later, we returned to the Grade 6 class.  I picked up the slime, lifted it into the air with two hands, and let it sink so gracefully into the well-positioned tub three feet below.  It was a move deserving of an Olympic gold medal.

Claire came over and I casually mentioned how delicious the goop tasted, especially on toast.  Her face collapsed and her eyes grew exponentially.  I assured her immediately that I did no such thing … face back to normal.

At the every end of the day, Tiffany, the Grade 6 teacher, has the kids do “Shout Outs”, praise for cool stuff that a kid saw another student do.  I shouted out Jessica: “Thank you for the slime.”


And on to today.  I love walking the twenty minutes to the Belmont Diner for breakfast.  A sneaky little voice told me to put the slime tub in a plastic bag and carry it along.  So I did.  There I am sitting at the horseshoe-shaped lunch counter demonstrating my goop abilities to the variety of human beings sitting around.  I think at least one person was impressed.  The rest?  Well, most of them kept their thoughts to themselves.

Now I glance over at the end table to see my turquoise friend cozy inside its Celeb margarine tub.  Just two buddies hanging out.  Who knows what horizons we’ll explore tomorrow.

Reading to You

Hello young kids.  I sat in a rocking chair this morning as five waves of you came my way.  And to each of your classes, from Kindergarten to Grade 3, I read Stanley at School.  You sat on the carpet.  You laughed.  You got scared.  Some of you were silent.  Others gasped and squealed.  It was fun finding out what Stanley had up his sleeve.

Every day, Stanley the dog watched all the children in his neighborhood walk down his street and into their school, where they stayed until the afternoon.  And every day he got more and more curious.  “What did the kids do in that school all day?”  His dog friends at the park didn’t know any more than he did.  So they decided to find out, and together they made their way to the bottom of the stairs in front of the school.  And that’s when Stanley got an idea.  A big idea.  A bold idea!  An idea so daring, it made his fur stand up.  “Why don’t we go inside?”

And so they did.  I turned on my various voices, and I think you liked it.  A doggie whisper of wonder.  A nervous little mutt afraid to walk through the human doors.  A faceless custodian yelling “Bad dogs!”  A soothing principal cooing “There, there, there” as she petted canine heads.

You and I discovered that dogs really run well in school and that kids’ lunches are downright delicious, right down to the last pickle.  You guessed if the next page would be good stuff or bad.  You told me how the story would end.  And most of your eyes were very wide indeed.

I had fun.  I think you did too.  And isn’t that just the best?

Up In The Air

It’s quite possible that I’m a strange person.  For instance, I keep testing gravity.

I was lifting weights at Wellington Fitness yesterday.  My dear friend Karisa works there and today her boyfriend Nick was working out.  She’s so much in love with her man and today I got to meet him.  He seems like a fine fellow.  Later, I told Karisa that I hope their love continues to blossom and that they grow old together.

I was standing at the front desk, so very happy that she’s happy.  I was drinking my protein powder from a shaker cup.  Without apparent thought, I threw the cup way high into the air, close to the ceiling.  The toss wasn’t as straight up as I’d hoped, and I rushed forward to make the catch.  It was a glancing blow and then a smash on the floor.  Vanilla goo flowed freely.

For a bit I just stared.  Did I really do that?  Apparently so.  The puddle was immense and Karisa found me some paper towels.  I soaked and wiped and soaked some more.  And then Brandon showed up with a mop.  I was happy, not embarrassed or guilty.  Nothing in my cognitive system had planned it out.  I just … threw.

Many years ago, when I was teaching at St. Mary Choir School, I must have been similarly happy.  I was standing in the staff room talking with Marg, after consuming a precious liquid in my favourite mug.  Same story.  The mug soared.  The mug broke.  I stared.  And somehow it was all okay.

Then there was the time in Costco when I was also flying high.  I was slurping my chocolate waffle cone while talking to a couple of employees in the vision department.  Up went the cone, sadly nowhere near the store’s high ceiling.  It did a flip in the air.  I reached out my right hand.  Plop … ice cream end down.  It should have been on the Plays of the Week.  Oh, what a good boy was I.

Guess my eye-hand co-ordination has faded over the years.  But it’s okay.  I was volunteering yesterday afternoon at South Dorchester School and Tiffany asked me if I would like a water bottle.  She had one extra.  And it has a holey insert for shaking.  Nice.


It’s always been a word I enjoy.  Decades ago, I came up with a test for human beings.  Once I had talked to them a couple of times, I wondered whether I’d like them to be my friend.  The test was simple and totally unscientific.  Do they ever use the word “fun”?  It’s often proved to be accurate.

I’m in Ann Arbor, Michigan, watching Canada’s Brooke Henderson play in the LPGA tournament.  After so many years, we finally have a golf hero to cheer for.  Yay!  Brooke sits in tenth place right now, with two more rounds on the weekend.  I’m thrilled to be here.

I’m staying at the Red Roof Inn and get a free breakfast every morning at the nearby Big Boy restaurant.  Breakie out in the world means reading the sports section of the newspaper, in this case The Detroit News.  It’s so much fun.  (Hmm.  There’s that word.  Guess I’ll be friends with me.)

Happily, the Detroit paper has two articles about the tournament – the Volvik Championship being held at the Travis Pointe Country Club.  I was expecting to hear about players’ assessment of their golf games, and the challenge of the course (such as really fast greens).  There was some of that, but I was taken with quotes from three of the four golfers who were featured.

Ariya Jutanugarn (from Thailand):

“I’m really happy with it and I really enjoy playing golf right now.  So I’m not thinking about I’m going to win, I’m going to lose.  I just have fun and keep playing good.”

Marina Alex (from the USA):

“I’m just going to enjoy it and have fun.  Going to just work on all aspects of my game so I’m just going to keep doing what I’ve been doing and see where that leaves me.”

Jennifer Song (from the USA):

“I just want to take one day at a time, one shot at a time and just see how things go.  I just want to have fun out here.”

Well, well.  Sounds pretty cool to me.  May we all have fun.