Bikes, tykes & neighbours

10 Jun

I’m heartened to report that the spirit of co-operation is alive and well in Dunvegan. When the Dunvegan Recreation Association was busily planning its 4th annual Meet Your Neighbours event this coming Sunday, June 14th, organizers learned that the Kenyon Presbyterian Church was also planning something special for earlier the same day: the Dunvegan church’s first Blessing of the Bikes service.

“We have been waiting to find out what the Church was going to be doing, so we could co-ordinate our event to work with their service,” DRA President, Ben Williams, told me. Together, the two groups agreed that the DRA would provide the after-service refreshments. “The plan is for us to gather at the park at 12:00 and supply the coffee, drinks and dessert for our event as well as those coming out after the church service,” says Ben.

The DRA’s Meet Your Neighbours event will also feature games for the kids, fresh popcorn and plenty of Dunvegan hospitality. And, given the get-together’s timing — at noon — folks are also encouraged to bring along a picnic lunch. It’s the perfect opportunity to say hello to old friends and meet newcomers to the community (assuming we can entice them out).

As always, the neighbourly gathering will take place in the DRA Park just north of the Church’s parking lot. Cake and soft drinks will be served. I’m also told that people can bring along the liquid refreshment of their choice. And please note, this is a ‘rain or shine’ event. If Mother Nature is crying, the fun will be relocated to the shelter of the DRA Hall.

The DRA is to be commended for continuing to organize this community-building event that, year by year, gets a little bit bigger. In ages past, Dunvegan’s general stores and post office served as places where residents had the opportunity to cross paths. However, these places are long gone, and we inhabit a world of increasing isolation, made even worse by the fact your neighbour’s phone number often isn’t even in the phone book. The world’s gone cellular.

By the way… if you have a motorcycle (or a pedal-powered bicycle or tricycle) in need of celestial endorsement, the first annual Blessing of the Bikes service will begin with a reception and refreshments at 10 AM. The regular church service will then follow at 11 AM. Towards the end of the service (around 11:45 AM), Rev. Julia Apps-Douglas will bless the bike riders in the church. After this, she will step outside to bless the two- and three-wheeled vehicles themselves… hopefully followed with an invitation to drop in on the Meet Your Neighbour shindig next door.

Mats need a new home

Way back when my son was young, the DRA introduced a Jiu-Jitsu program for the local children. We managed to entice Sensei Norm Beauchamp from the Therien Martial Arts and Fitness Centre in Chesterville to make the weekly trip to and from Dunvegan to share his expertise.

To turn the Hall into a dojo (a room or hall in which judo and other martial arts are practiced), we purchased sufficient blue foam jiu-jitsu mats to cover most of the floor.

While Sensei Norm was a wonderfully talented instructor, the DRA Jiu-Jitsu program eventually wound down; the kids grew up and developed other interests (nudge, nudge, wink, wink) and Sensei Norm grew tried of the long road trips. So the mats, and other martial arts paraphernalia we had acquired, were put away in long-term storage.

Unfortunately, their hibernation was disturbed when the DRA renovated its furnace room and the time has come to find them a new resting place. For a while, it looked like a commercial martial arts facility was going to take them, but the deal fell through at the last moment.

So the DRA has asked me to put out the call. They have four 6′ x 12′ x 2″ thick high-density foam mats and four hand-held kick pads they’re willing to let go to a good home. If you know of a daycare or school or a children’s club that could put them to good use, please give Ben Williams a call at 613-525-4006.

Just FIVE spaces left

If you still want to tag along on the Glengarry Pioneer Museum’s Historical Driving Tour this coming Saturday, June 13th, you’d better hurry. At the time this is being keyed, there are only five spots left.

Organized by local historians Kent MacSweyn and Harold MacMillan, the tour back in time will begin at the Glengarry, Nor’westers, and Loyalist Museum in Williamstown at 9 AM. Over the course of the daylong excursion, the group will visit seven or more places of historical significance. And at each stop, a local expert will provide the group with historical background on the location.

The cost of the tour is just $25 for members, and $30 for non-members… and that includes a delicious lunch and all admission fees. Please note though, that you MUST register for the tour beforehand. To do so, call the Museum at 613-527-5230 or email:

Another of life’s “Date Lines”

Sometime over the past year, I must have crossed an invisible line… a “date line” if you will. It would appear that I am now officially old. At least in the eyes of restaurant servers and retail clerks.

One knows one has crossed this line when waitresses and salesladies start using terms of endearment instead of the more respectful “Sir” (or “Madame,” if this would be more appropriate in your case).

The first time it happened… as I recall it was a simple “you’re welcome, dear” in response to my expression of gratitude… I was in shock. I frantically searched my memory banks. Had I had a relationship of some type with this individual during my misspent youth? As this took place in the 60s and early 70s, my recollection of the period is a bit befogged. But a rapid search of my inter-personal archive drew a blank.

The only explanation left was that I had been relegated to the ranks of little old men and little old ladies. Faceless, grey-haired folks who conventional wisdom has it are overjoyed with a pat on the head and soft invocation of an impersonal “sweetie” or “dear.”

In stunned silence, I drove home with the chorus from John Prine’s Hello in There going round and round in my head:

Ya’ know that old trees just grow stronger,
And old rivers grow wilder ev’ry day.
Old people just grow lonesome
Waiting for someone to say, “Hello in there, hello.”