24 Thoughts on the Eve of 2024

Vancouver Maritime Museum Harbour Light Up, December 14, 2023
Vancouver Maritime Museum Harbour Light Up, December 14, 2023
1. "Aye yi yi. 
But that Zelenskyy, he’s a peppy little guy.”

Were he here, I imagine this is what Grandpa Danchuk (whose favourite term of endearment, be it for cars or people, was “peppy,”) would say about the war in “the old country” and Volodymyr Zelenskyy. As you can see from this video, he championed the underdog.

He’d use different words (“Damn fools” maybe) but agree with The Line’s Andrew Potter: “….Instead of sitting down to figure out what went wrong, adjusting and increasing their aid accordingly, and recommitting to the fight, the whole so-called alliance has degenerated into infighting, blame shifting, and ass-covering.”

2. “A peanut sat on the railroad track,
His heart was all a flutter,
Then along came the train
Toot, Toot!—peanut butter.”

Magellan’s dad Ed, who was a railroad engineer for CN in his early career, recited a lot of poetry. His sister Diane Wilby reminded us of this one. It makes us laugh, until we think…

3. “Laughter is a drug”
My brother Norm, MacLeod a great storyteller, could have a career in comedy, as his partner Kathy Christiansen can attest to

Watching comedian Bill Maher’s Real Time on Friday nights is one of our favourite hits of laughter. Bill, who’s done his share of drugs, says laughter, and making people laugh, is his fave.

4. “Contentment comes in small steps, like old age,
                   and poems written in spray paint.”
“Donald is an asshole”, Mal de Amor palenque, Oaxaca

Lush imagery that takes you by surprise; wouldn’t we like to think (and write) like Charles Wright, the 20th Poet Laureate of the United States.

5. “When is later? I can’t tell time!”
“Life runs like a shadow,” in the village of Barberesco, Piedmont, Italy

Our friend Joyce Young told us a story about her seven-year-old niece Emily, whose older cousin in Australia said, “I don’t want to FaceTime now. I’ll call you later.” “Can I call now?” Emily asked Joyce a few minutes later. “Now?” she asked, again. Frustrated, Emily blurted out, “When is later? I can’t tell time.” We laughed and laughed at Emily’s dilemma.

But wait a minute, when is later?

6. “And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet
 and the winds long to play with your hair”
Magellan on the beach at Tofino with our daughter Lynn, but not in bare feet!

Time to play outside says the author of The Prophet, Kahlil Gibran.

7. “By the same token…”
Haida Gwaii bird houses, Rainbow Wharf, Port Clements

A phrase Magellan frequently uses.  On his website Tangle, Issac Saul takes this approach to examining both sides of serious political issues.

8. “Allow yourself the uncomfortable luxury of changing your mind”
“Junction” in Stavanger, Norway, by Canadian pop-urban artist, Sandra Chevrier, changed with overpainting by Norway’s Martin Whatson, 2017

You can always count on Maria Popova to give you something new to think about on her website, The Marginalian. Have a look at her “Resolutions for a Life Worth Living: Attainable Aspirations Inspired by Great Humans of the Past.” Hannah Arendt: “Love Without Fear of Loss.” Toni Morrison: “Cherish Your Body.” Viktor Frankl: “Have More Music and Nature in Your Life.” Leo Tolstoy: “Choose Kindness.” James Baldwin: “Have Tenderness for how Hard it is to be Human.” Rachel Carson: “Embrace the Loneliness of Creative Work.” (Right Pat?) Ursula K. Le Guin: “Converse if You Care.” Seneca: “Vanquish Your Anxiety.” Bertrand Russell: “Broaden Your Life as it Grows Shorter.” Walt Whitman: “Live with Absolute Aliveness.” And Her Own: “Choose The Eyes of Love.”

9. "An old truism holds that the pessimist sees the glass as half-empty while the optimist sees it as half-full. But active and engaged people don't bother to measure the contents of their cups. They savor what they've got, drink it down, then go looking for a refill. One name for this approach is meliorism. Meliorists want to make things better—to ameliorate them."
Meliorists all: George Taylor, Ginger Ruddy and Peggy Cameron at the “Off to Qatar” party we held for our nephew Kyle Wilby

Don’t the words of Andrew Fiala, a professor of philosophy at California State University in Fresno, make you want to be a meliorist?

10. “Sometimes the world begins 
to set you up on your feet again, 
it wipes the tears from your eyes.  
How will you ever know,  
the way that circumstances go, 
always going to hit you by surprise." 
Laurel Peterson Gregory’s bronze dogs dancing in Palm Desert

We love listening (and dancing) to Blue Rodeo. The lyrics above are from the first song in their 1993 album “Five Days in July,” which we heard them play on the album’s 30th anniversary tour on the banks of the Saskatchewan River this summer.

“…flux is incessant, both inside and out. We stand in the tumult of a festival,” wrote Wallace Stevens.

11. “Freedom of expression and association aren’t reserved for people saying popular things”
Mom and I in Birch Hills, SK, sitting on a truck going nowhere

Remember when we read Macleans’ magazine? One of its finest writers, Paul Wells, now has his own eponymous Substack and has written a book, An Emergency in Ottawa: The Story of the Convoy Commission.

12.  “Do you want to tinkle before we go?”
On a dream trip to Nova Scotia to discover her mother’s roots

A favourite question of Magellan’s mother, Glynn, that comes to mind more often now on long car rides and long city walks.

13. “Eat.”

The ongoing command of my Grandma, Alice Danchuk. Followed best by my sisters Joyce Cochrane, (“cooking steady” her husband Arnold says), Margie Holland (she makes focaccia!), Joan Baer (you should see her pantry!) and Judy MacLeod-Campbell (celebration-central).

14. "Books
May books offer us knowledge
Help and hope that the world might 
Celebrate freedom      
     Of race      
     Of religion      
     Of rights 
     And of relaxation 

May some books guide us 
To navigate our difficult World 
throughout another year 

May special books bring us the joy 
Of imagination, escape and the 
Beautifully written world
     Wishing you very good health
     and very good reading"
Barbara made this card using bookmarks from Vancouver booksellers

Words of wisdom inside the Christmas card Barbara Armstrong made for her friends—lucky me to be one of them.

15. “I don’t know. I didn't ask."
My baby sister Judy MacLeod-Campbell, and mom

“Do you know what Mark gave Judy for her 50th birthday?” I asked our mom, Maxine. And got the same answer she always gave when you asked her about things like that. “I don’t know. I didn’t ask.” She was not one to gossip, something to emulate.

16.  “Save your money.”
Mom and dad, Ken and Max MacLeod

My sister Margie Holland reminded me of how often our dad, Ken, (second-gen Scot), said this. And he was not slow to ask, “How much did that cost you?”

17. “Do not overlook the little joys!”
Flying Goat Coffee, Healdsburg, California

Hermann Hesse, My Belief: Essays on Life and Art, 1905, said it long before the kernels of wisdom from Faith Popcorn, who prescribed the joy of “small indulgences” in 1991.

18. “Tell the ones you love, you 
love them; 
tell them now. 
For the day is coming, and also the night will come, 
when you will neither say it, nor hear it, nor care.” 
A sign of love on a hiking trail near Palm Springs

One of Canada’s finest poets, Lorna Crozier, from her latest book after the death of her partner, the poet Patrick Lane.

19. “I refuse to say anything beyond five years because I don’t think we can see much beyond five years.”

Oaxaca street art

Wouldn’t it be nice if politicians (and some people) would be as wise about predicting the future as Geoffrey Hinton, the godfather of AI?

20. “Who are we, who is each one of us, if not a combination of experiences, information, books we have read, things imagined? Each life is an encyclopedia; a library, an inventory of objects, a series of styles, and everything can be constantly shuffled and reordered in every way conceivable.”
With Graffitimundo’s co-founder Cecilia Quiles in Buenos Aires looking at Blu’s “Factory Man”

Thanks to Italo Calvino (who would have been 100 this year), a brilliant and imaginative Italian writer, for reminding us we can change.

21. “That's OK, 
Rose would say, 
don't you worry none. 
There'll be good times 
by and by 
next fall 
when the works all done" 
Glynn and Ed Sully

Magellan’s parents, Glynn & Ed, (both would have celebrated their 100th birthdays in 2024) on the Kiwanis work gang, rebuilding the Salvation Army Beaver Creek Camp for under-privileged children.

22. “In times of stress, the best thing we can do for each other is to listen with our ears and our hearts and to be assured that our questions are just as important as our answers.”

May good fortune reign upon you

Cardigan-sweatered Mr. Rogers speaking to the four-year-old in all of us. My question to Magellan here in Trondheim, Norway, would have been, “Do you think we should get a cab instead of waiting for the bus?”

23. Have a dream
Magellan’s sister Colleen Cole has kept this little scrap of paper that their mom, Glynn, stuck onto her mousepad

Penned by Magellan’s mom, a woman who, in her late 80s, learned to play the ukulele, celebrated her birthday in New York City, became known for knitting socks for the homeless and cruised to Alaska. It’s the first two lines from a poem/song? from 1942 titled “Do you remember?”

24. “For When People Ask”
Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer
I want a word that means
okay and not okay,
more than that: a word that means
devastated and stunned with joy.
I want the word that says
I feel it all all at once.
The heart is not like a songbird
singing only one note at a time,
more like a Tuvan throat singer
able to sing both a drone
and simultaneously
two or three harmonics high above it—
a sound, the Tuvans say,
that gives the impression
of wind swirling among rocks.
The heart understands swirl,
how the churning of opposite feelings
weaves through us like an insistent breeze
leads us wordlessly deeper into ourselves,
blesses us with paradox
so we might walk more openly
into this world so rife with devastation,
this world so ripe with joy.
Purcell Mountain Lodge, British Columbia

Any words of wisdom you’ve collected from your families and others that you’d like to share?

Navigation

Blue Rodeo

Italo Calvino

Lorna Crozier

Andrew Fiala

Kahlil Gibran

Herman Hesse

Geoffrey Hinton

Jane Hirshfield

The Line Substack

Bill Maher

Maria Popova

Issac Saul’s Tangle

Wallace Stevens

Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer

Paul Wells Substack

Charles Wright

Glenn Yarbrough

16 Responses

  1. Love this edition..the picture of Peggy..what a blast from the past..all so thoughtful..cheers to you and yours..nothing profound to add, thanks❤️🎶🍷and a very happy healthy new year to come…

  2. Happy 2024, May it be the best yet.
    Really enjoyed the photos, especially of the ones no longer with us, their words are truly a lesson for us all. Words from elders are indeed words of gold, not easily learned but worthy of study and repeating.
    Thanks for sharing 2023, May 2024 equal or exceed the past.
    Cheers all,

    1. Grandpa D. has been on my mind so often since Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, more so at Christmas of course when memories of the past surface, especially the year (1987?) that Magellan filmed him telling stories.

  3. Happy New Year! What a nice and well thought out post. This did not happen in a couple of hours I would bet (unless you used ChatGBT :-)). Dallas & Pat

    1. TY, We had so much fun putting this together. I couldn’t recall the gallery in Palm Desert where we saw the Dancing Dogs, but what fun we had with you two on art tours down there.

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