Monday, December 7, 1998

Christmas 1998

Dear Santa:

All I want for Christmas is about twenty centimetres of snow. It can leave any time after January 1!

It has certainly been an odd holiday season, weather-wise. As of writing this, I don’t think a single flake of snow has drifted earthward to Toronto – not that I’ve seen at least. It’s been easy to imagine how people in the mid-to-lower States experience Christmas year after year. There seem to be more outdoor lights than ever – maybe our way of compensating for the lack of white stuff.

My Christmas cactus hasn’t bloomed this year. Alas, I don’t think I can attribute that to the strange weather. I “pruned” it last summer and I think I must have killed it, ironic given the fact that the fellow, from whose giant cactus I spliced it fifteen or twenty years ago, died this year. The original plant was well over forty years old, as I recall.

Another Christmas first for me this year was seeing the Santa Claus Parade live and in person! On a blustery day in November (one of the few) I went with my friends Stephen and Byron and their son Ronan (who’s just about 19 months old now). It was a lot of fun, and I think we picked up a few tips for an even better view next year. Ronan soaked up all there was to see and hear, and I finally got to see those “upside down” clowns face-to-face. Ronan caught a good look at Santa but, wouldn’t you know it, I was reloading my camera and practically missed him!

When I got the photos back from the store there were actually only a few from the parade itself. The rest were what leads me to a New Year’s resolution. I won’t take another picture of Perth streetscapes. As pretty a town as it is – and its fall colours were spectacular at Thanksgiving – I have accumulated so many pictures of the town I could probably publish a coffee-table book. Of course this doesn’t include any future family pictures which may, or may not, have Perth scenes in the background.

As 1998 winds down I’m watching a fair amount of CNN, to see what fate is in store for Bill Clinton. Sometimes it’s been difficult to distinguish the goings-on in Congress, and on the talking-head TV panels, from the Jerry Springer Show. I still get a bit of a rush from the body politic - the to-and-fro, be it in the States or Canada. Once in awhile I walk over to the Ontario Legislature to observe Question Period. There’s free admission and it’s a different sort of sport than, say, a National Hockey League game, where ticket-brokers aren’t above charging seventy-five bucks for the cheap seats. (I actually checked a couple of Saturdays ago walking past Maple Leaf Gardens.) Back to politics with a prediction: Ontarians, at least those outside Toronto, will re-elect Mike Harris.

Another past-time that’s been kind of growing on me is jazz music. For a number of years I’ve been an occasional telephone volunteer at CJRT-FM, a local listener-supported radio station. While its programming has always been a mixture of classical and jazz, the powers that be have recently expanded weekday jazz time from evenings only to afternoon-drive time and evenings. It’s been interesting to learn a little about this music and the eclectic life stories of its artists.

My health has been fairly stable all year; the only ups and downs have been with my weight. I think I’ve stabilized for now, but my 6’3” frame carried as little as 125 pounds earlier this year. I don’t think I’ve been that light since I was well under six feet tall. The viral load tests available this year are “ultra-sensitive” so, while no longer “undetectable”, my v.l. is fairly low – for which I am very grateful, if not occasionally complacent. I’ve been on a combination of steroids and testosterone – a shot in the hip of one or the other every two weeks – in hopes of getting my weight up. My doctor and I are going to give that a three month trial.

Well another Christmas is upon us, and 1999 isn’t too far away. This will be the year we hear – ad nauseum – hopes that the “Y2K bug” doesn’t bite.

All the best of the season!