Friday Two Cents: A Week Full Of Excitement


 

This past week has bee been interesting and exciting, yet it is only the beginning. It began when I supplied at a new school I have never been before. The students and staff are all wonderful and on the third day I was there they asked me to play in the teacher vs. students ball hockey game. I was a bit surprised since I was only at the school for three days but I thought is a nice gesture to invite me.   I have played in a teacher vs. student’s floor hockey game at a school I have worked in for several years. Yet those students were grade 4 and 5 these students range from grade 5 to grade 8.   Some of the students where my height but thought why not have some fun.

The students got out to an early lead but then the teachers came back to tie 2 – 2. Then I came on and I played a bit aggressively and parked my self near the net. With a minute I get a pass and redirected it in the net. But I wasn’t finished there. On several occasions I continued to move the ball into the opposing zone and kept shooting at the net. My persistence paid off with a second goal. I got of and the by then the score was 5 – 3 teachers. By the time I got back on it was 6 – 4 but I continued to press and got my third goal, a hat-trick. In the end the teachers were too much for the students and we won 11 – 6.

Advance figure drawing

As good as that game and the feeling of camaraderie, that night I also had my advance figure drawing class, a class I truly enjoy. I have never been drawing for many years but I never took a figure drawing class. If you do not know this type of class has a live model from which we get to draw and paint. They are usually in the nude but it is not about the nudity but feeling the creativity from within you and creating and capturing the life and emotion you see.   This class I felt that I was learning so much and that my technic was improving. The final pose is usually about and hour or two in comparison to the series of 3 – 5 minute poses we draw to warm up. I was able to create a charcoal drawing of the model and as I was drawing the teacher came by and noted that he has seen a vast improvement in my technic. I had felt that I have improved but it was nice to hear it from the teacher too. I think, just when I was playing music the more I practiced the better I became. The same can be said for my drawing too.
But this not the truly exciting part; on Friday I get to top off this week off by embarking on an adventure/vacation. On Friday I am leaving with two other teacher colleagues on an adventure to discover Scotland. This is my first trip during March break overseas and I have always wanted to see the United Kingdom, particularly Scotland. I am very lucky that one of the teachers I am going with has been there several times and is playing tour guide. We plan to drive around the highlands and see many amazing things I have only read about. The driving, an activity I also enjoy, is an added bonus as we drive around this beautiful landscape that will hopefully inspire me even more.

The Wallace Monument

This week has been very exciting but the next is looking like it might top it. Here’s to adventure just as Amelia Earhart once said …

‘Adventure is worthwhile in itself.’ Amelia Earhart

 

The exciting part of an adventure is sometimes the adventure itself.   Scotland here I come.  

 

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Friday Two Cents: Canada 150 Ottawa Trip – Ottawa & Gatineau


I had the opportunity to visit the Ottawa area to take in some Canadian 150 celebration. Once there I did a lot of sight seeing in the usual places like the museums, the mint and the ByWard Market. However there was a new attraction in Gatineau that was unique that celebrated the diversity of Canada and its sheer beauty. It was the MOSAÏCANADA 150/Gatineau 2017.

Jacques-Cartier Park Gatineau hosted the biggest horticultural event in Canada, the MOSAÏCANADA 150/Gatineau 2017. Mosaiculture is a most spectacular horticultural technique that combines the following different art forms:
  • Sculpture for the structure,
  • Paint for the palette of colours, and
  • Horticulture as the means of creating living and changing artworks with plants.
The theme of the exhibit reflected on the 150 years of history, values, culture and arts in Canada, represented by more than 40 different arrangements. Admission to the MOSAÏCANADA 150/Gatineau 2017 exhibit in Jacques-Cartier Park is free and it was a spectacular site to see.
After the garden exhibit I enjoyed a unique exhibition at the History Museum that happened to be right across the street from Jacques-Cartier Park. The exhibit is called “Hockey”, what’s more Canadian then that. It was an exploration of Canada’s game for the very beginning, through the creation of the National Hockey League (NHL), the Olympics and other international games all from a distinctly Canadian point of view.
If you are going to Ottawa one place you need to visit is the ByWard Market. It is a great place to get anything from fresh fruit and vegetables to any little nick-knack. They also have a wide variety of restaurants, bakeries and cafés. One was even visited by former President Obama where he bought a beaver tail and some cookies for his daughters.
Yet the day was topped off by a wonderful light presentation at the Parliament buildings. It is a sound and light show that journeys through Canada’s history. It shows Canadian stories of nation building, partnership, discovery, valour, pride and vision for a country. Key figures, events and achievements from Canadian history are brought to life using five distinct artistic styles. All are presented in spectacular detail, with a bilingual narration and an amazing music score that is projected on the Parliament builds, Centre Block and Peace Tower. There where times during the presentation where I felt myself tear up as a swell of national pride came over me. If you go to Ottawa just for this show it is well worth the trip. It truly was an amazing sight to see and I was lucky enough to find a copy of the show on YouTube. It is about 30 minutes but it is time well spent.

Going to Ottawa has always been a treat for me and I have been there on numerous occasions. Yet every time I go I cannot help be filled with pride and love for my birth country. The history, the accomplishments and vision of Canada have always been an inspiration to me. This trip has only deepened my love for Canada and I can proudly shout out for the entire world to hear…

“I AM CANADIAN!!”

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Friday Two Cents: The Trill Of The Hunt


twoCentsOldNew

All around the world there are specific sports that people grow up with. In Europe its football/soccer, India cricket, Japan and USA baseball. Yet if you are from what I call the best place to live, Canada, its hockey. Hockey is in the lifeblood of this country. Everyone has either seen a game or has played it as a child. I grew up playing it on ponds, at city parks, in school and in leagues. I love hockey but there is one aspect of this game that many may not know about; collecting and trading hockey cards.

Tim Hortons Trading Cards 2016 - #1 Tim Horton

Tim Hortons Trading Cards 2016 – #1 Tim Horton

Ever since I went out and bought my first pack of hockey cards, I loved collecting them. Now as an adult I continue to partake in this tradition of mine by collecting the Upper Deck hockey cards sold at Tim Hortons. I am trying not to go too crazy when buying cards so I have limited myself to getting only one pack every time I purchase a coffee (two a day). It is a slow process collecting the over 100 regular set, 30 extra set and 25 extremely difficult set cards.
This would be very difficult, however these are trading cards and I would trade cards with people to try to get my set. As a child I traded cards with people at my school and class, this way I can get the set faster. The students at the school I work in are also into getting trading cards and they have come up to me and want to trade. I am very fair with them and I even give them a card or two extra, just because they are kids and I want to make the experience an enjoyable one. I look back at my time trading cards as a fun part of my childhood and now collecting these cards brings back many happy memories.
Tim Hortons Trading Cards 2016 - #87 Sidney Crosby

Tim Hortons Trading Cards 2016 – #87 Sidney Crosby

Those memories were enhanced when I discovered that a local Tim Hortons had set up a trading night for people who collect the cards. People can come into the store and talk and trade with others to try to get the set a little bit faster. I met a lot of people, men, women and fathers with their sons who are collecting and trading hockey cards. These people are no different than me, who just want to have a little fun collecting the cards. Some had stories from their own childhood about collecting cards and how they are passing that tradition onto their children. It was an amazing night of shared experiences and meeting people.
People asked me why I collect the cards. I told them that I love to collect them, to place them in a booklet and check off which ones I have and which cards I need. It reminds me of when I was a kid, with the trill of the hunt of looking for that specific card that will fill your set. To meet other people who are like me, who enjoy the hunt and exultation of finding that elusive card. I’ve almost gotten the set but I have discovered that getting the set is great but the true joy is in the act of gathering or collecting the cards. Like I have said before …
Tim Hortons Trading Cards 2016 - Specialty Card Jonathan Toews

Tim Hortons Trading Cards 2016 – Specialty Card Jonathan Toews

“The adventure is the journey not the destination.” Paul Gauchi (Me)

The journey, the hunt to collect these cards is half the fun. I guess I truly enjoy, the trill of the hunt.

Friday Two Cents: I Finally Did It


 twoCentsOldNew

 

It was a long time coming. There were some times I came close to doing it, but something always got in the way. Year after year there I was, watching and wishing I could do it and be apart of the experience, but always falling short. There were some instances where I tried negotiating to be part of it but I always fell short. But this year, YES, I finally did it and I am so excited that I did. I finally played on the teachers’ team in the staff versus the children floor hockey game.

 

Every year at the school the grade 4 and 5 children participate in a floor hockey house league. Every year the team that wins the tournament plays the teachers in a no holds barred floor hockey game, for bragging rights. The teachers have a lot of fun in the game and just about everyone participates. But the children playing the teachers see this as an opportunity to get back at the teachers for all that homework and assignments they have been given. No honestly, I have seen the previous years games and every team that plays the teachers, really try to beat the teachers.

Every year I watch the game or hear about it in the aftermath and I am full of longing to play. Year after year for eight years I have longed for that chance, but it was never because the teachers would not let me play. I had always had to work and look after the kindergartens during the lunch period, which is when the game is played. For eight years I have tried to negotiate so I can play, but it never worked out.

Yet the ninth year I was free of any duties or responsibilities so my chance had come and it was electric. Let me try to paint you a picture of the experience.

The children had just finished their lunch, as did the teachers. The gym teacher sold tickets for other children to watch, with the money going to a local charity. The children’s team was assembling in the gym ramping up the crowd. The teachers slowly make their way into the gym to the delight of the screaming crowd. The first three teachers walk in with screams and chats of their names.

Outside the gym a few children ask me, “Are you going to play?” I say yes and they run back into the gym and tell the crowd and the team. I hear them talking about the fact that I am playing and I look inside and I see a few yell out to me the same question. I respond with a nod of my head and a smile comes over their faces. More teachers arrive and I go in and I hear the crowd chant, “MR. PAUL! MR. PAUL!” I can tell you with no shame that I was a little embarrassed and overwhelmed by the attention. I grab a stick and play with it and talk a little smack to the children on the team about how they are going down and if you want to drop the gloves right now and they do the same to me. We have a little fun, talking smack to each other, but all in good fun.

The game starts but I am on the second line and I watch the children playing with such intensity as in previous years. The teachers are playing in response to the children and it is a very entertaining first shift. The whistle blows and the second shift comes on. Here I go, My moment has come and I hear the crowd yell in delight and in the mix of the noise I hear “GO! MR. PAUL!” Man what a rush of emotions came over me at that moment. I was nervous and excited at the same time. I took my position at centre and looked at the opposing team player and smiled.

The puck is dropped and I win the faceoff. I rush forward taking a position in front of the net waiting for and opportunity. I rush after their centre-man and make sure he can’t get a scoring chance or try to strip the puck from him. The shift is a heart pounding 2 minutes long but exhilarating. The whistle blows for the next shift and I go off. I didn’t score but man was I pumped.

The next shift they play as hard as the rest but the teachers’ score! Its 1 – 0 but the intensity does not diminish on either side. A few seconds later another teacher scores making it 2 – 0. High-5s are being shared by the teachers while the crowd yells its approval.

The next shift goes on with both sides throwing themselves at the puck. But no goals are scored. Then my turn comes again and I take my place at centre again. I win the faceoff and move forward. My left-winger plays hard to get the puck and then passes it into the corner. I rush in and control of the puck. I move towards the net and wrist it towards the goalie and I gets past him! GOAL!! The crowd tells and I raise my arms in triumph. I share High-5s with my teammates and move to the centre to take the faceoff. I win it again and we work the puck around with the other team really pressing against us. I find myself in front of the net again when the defenseman shots the puck up. The other team stops the puck but I steal it from them and move to the net. I shoot! I score! Two goals!! More High-5s. The whistle blows and the teachers are up 4 – 0.

I go off to rest up and see the great action continuing in the game. Neither team is letting up. The children are really trying to score, as are the teachers, but the students’ goalie is in tough and the teachers’ goalie is not letting anything through.

My shift comes up and it is the last shift of the game. I am at centre again but the principal comes up and takes my stick for the faceoff. After she came back to me and gives me the stick to finish the shift. I cover the other centre-man and in the process I make my way to their net again. Twice I try to get the hat trick, but both times I am denied by their goalie. The final whistle blows and that’s the game! The teachers win 4 – 0 and we all congratulate each other on a game well-played. But what was amazing was that the children watching came up to us and starting High-5ing us on a great game.

Both teams line up to shake hands and you can see in the eyes and faces of the kids’ team that they were a little upset that they lost. We all took it in stride because it was a well-played game and everyone, student and teacher should be proud of their efforts.

It took me nine years to finally play in that game and I had just done so and scored two goals! That was icing on the cake. The other teachers were all excited and happy about the game but I can tell you, I was so pumped that I felt like I had just won the Olympic gold medal game. It was something I wanted to experience for a very long time and I was not sure if it would live up to the hip that I gave it. I can tell you without any doubt. It was better.

Friday two cents: No hockey, that’s Ok


twocents

As a Canadian male, hockey has been a part of my life from the moment I strapped on a pair of skates as a kid and played on a frozen ice rink in my neighbourhood park.  I love the game and I am (sorry to say) a Toronto Maple Leaf fan but I am tired of all this labour unrest ever since Gary Bettmin became the Commissioner of the NHL.

Since he has been commissioner from 1993, we have had 3; yes three lockouts in 19 years.  I for one have had enough.  The last time they canceled the 2004-05 season, I made it a point to never buy tickets to a NHL game again and I never have.  But the hockey lover in me would not refuse free tickets or to still cheer on my team or follow the Stanley Cup playoffs.

This past week the two sides in the labour dispute teased the fans that an agreement was just around the corner and many were optimistic.  But as quickly as you please they break off talks and put out that the season is in jeopardy of being canceled, AGAIN!  Well I say cancel it and we fans will move on and find other places to spend our entertainment money.

I for one rediscovered my love of baseball.  I have always loved it since I played little league.  I even run a softball and T-ball league in the school where I teach and it has enhanced my love of the sport even more.  I have children coming up to me saying thank you for teaching them how to play baseball even though they thought they would not like it.  I even have parents saying thank you for getting their child interested in baseball so much they do not want to play hockey, just baseball.  They love this because baseball is a lot cheaper than hockey.

I too have put my entertainment dollars away from hockey and placed it at baseballs’ door step.  Now I go see 3 ball games at the cost of one hockey game.  More bang for my buck as it were.

So I say let the NHL cancel the season.  If the NHL doesn’t want my money, that’s ok.  Come February spring training starts and my steady old friend baseball will be there to welcome me back.  And I will be more than happy to pay for the games without the worry of the Millionaire players and Billionaire owners squabbling like kindergarten children arguing over who is the leader in line, when neither are.

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