Friday, 13 September 2019

CCCottage Reunion September 14 - 21, 2019 Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

I'm booked and checked-in on Air Canada's #1123 at 11:00 on September 14 arriving at 12:33 to begin (I'm guessing now) our 23rd reunion since John DeLisle convened the first one in 1995. Many a tale has been told and retold since the mid 1960's when it all started in Thurstonia Park on Sturgeon Lake where a small, less than glorious, cottage was our weekend retreat. I think there were 12 guys who formed the original group, with Arch, Bill and me signing on for life a couple of years later. (We were the old guys who were allowed to hang out when some of the younger decided their weekend-time would be better spent elsewhere.) That roster remains to this day except for Pat and Arch who passed away rather suddenly. Jack, Phil and Paul have been replaced by Rod, Eric and the odd mystery guest (one named Piggy comes to mind) whose sudden appearance illuminates our gatherings from time to time. Our yearly experience seems to stay ignited by regular emails about horse races, football pools, birthdays, trips to the hospital and other remembrances of special occasions like anniversaries and a whole lot of times that make up the constant mix of our lives well lived.
I've told our story to many friends and, to a man or woman, they marvel at what we have been able to achieve and maintain for fifty-four years. Oh yes, the title 'CCCottage Reunion' was uttered by cousin Bill who stuttered a great deal as a youngster, but now reaching for 80 years his voice's ability has improved considerably.
September 14, 2019 everyone arrived with generous man hugs for each other and we piled into cars and set off for Emma Lake which is about a two hour drive north of Saskatoon and deep into a land of many lakes and wild life. We passed Elk and Deer and a coyote or two before settling into a very nice cottage donated by a friend of Ted's at zero cost to all of us. The food and drink had been purchased on Friday; the fishing and golf equipment was stored in three SUV's. Dinner was prepared, eaten and cleared away for the poker game to follow. The rooms had been assigned and the older guys got their pick, and why not? That evening the writer was awarded the "Gary McDonald Come back Award" as its first recipient. I was moved by the generosity afforded me and expressed the hope that we all live for a long time and enjoy many more reunions in far off wondrous places.

Enjoying the last can of beer in Victoria airport 2018
Monday arrived and we golfed at Waskesiu Golf Club in a National Park, a place of awesome beauty blessed by the desire to be maintained by the citizens and their government.

In the trophy room of Waskesiu Lake Golf Club
On Tuesday we rested; some went to Prince Albert the home of John (The Deif) Deifenbacker -- a former Prime Minister of Canada in the 1960's -- and entertained the Casino dealers with a generous contribution to their cause. On their return we headed back to Waskesiu to dine at Pietro Restaurant a nicely appointed dining facility with Gary the owner and Gary the waiter attending to our comfort and enjoyment for the evening.


Gary the owner preparing his 23,500th Caesar salad
On Wednesday golfing at Emma Lake golf course was a very nice local venue where we enjoyed a two-man scramble with the lowest score of 75 shot by Mike and John. Larry and I were 85, Dan and Tom 82, Ted and Bill shot 76.
The fish fry will start at 7:00pm around an open fire pit and oven mitts will be available.

Incredible Pickerel Shore Fish Fry
Mike Bird is presented the 'Gary McDonald Come Back Award' for 2020
Larry Beriault convenor of the  Cccottage Reunion 2019
On September 20, 2019 the sun rose between three of the millions of trees surrounding Emma Lake and the cottage we shared courtesy of Ted Merriman's friend Peter Kilborn.

Ted Merriman organized the cottage and much much more
During our week of golfing, fishing and poker games made more memorable with the usual kibitzing and stories told and expectedly retold because they are the foundation that unites us under The Cccottage Boys now and for as long as we want. Let the end not be in sight for years to come.

And the week ended with a dinner and a hockey game between the Prince Albert Raiders and Saskatoon of the Western Hockey League in Prince Albert.

After the reunion, on September 24, 2019 my darling Terryl wished to email The Cccottage Boys the following:
"Dear Cccottage Boys:
Thank you so much for thinking of us girls with these absolutely beautiful shawls. Ted, I think you initiated this lovely gesture. I love, love my gift. It is my prize possession and will always travel with me.
Thank you Josephines Dreams and Ted.
Love Terryl"




Monday, 9 September 2019

Bianca Andreescu US Open Ladies Champion September 7, 2019

Bianca on Television talk show tours Sept. 9/99
All of Canada glued themselves to television on this Saturday afternoon. Bianca, now being called, She The North after the Toronto Raptors NBA basketball champions, was taking on the 24 Majors Champion Serena Williams in front of a stacked crowd pulling for the American.
Bianca is a free swinging tennis athlete who appears to know no fear of losing or winning. She meditates, seeks professional advice for her mind and thoughts as well as her tennis technique. She wears a hair springy band around her right arm's elbow for no reason that we know of, yet. She is comfortable with the post-win adulation that has fallen on her as the only Canadian to have ever won one of the Major Tennis Championships (US, French, Aussie and Wimbledon) ever. Canada has had contestants in the finals but who never crossed the finish line first.
I'll predict that if she can remain injury-free she will be number one in the Tennis world for years to come.
Cathal Kelley has written these carefully crafted words that speak to Bianca's incredible 19 year ride to athletic and personal triumph:

""Years before she’d won anything important, Bianca Andreescu already understood how you’re meant to talk about such things.
She took up tennis seriously at 10 years old. She made her first headlines in youth tournaments at 14. A year later, she beat a bunch of older girls at a talent-spotting U.S. event.
“I’m only 15 and this is like the next step to winning a Grand Slam,” Ms. Andreescu said afterwards. That’s what you’re meant to say. That good enough is not good enough.
She even understood that boilerplate quotes work best with a hook. She said she was going out afterwards to The Cheesecake Factory because “I didn’t have any cake this week.”
On Sunday, Ms. Andreescu told CNN that she began writing herself mock cheques for the winner’s portion of U.S. Open prize money as a motivator. She wrote a new one each year as the amount changed. When we talk about ‘making’ a champion – as if there are assembly instructions included with children – it works the same in most instances. Ms. Andreescu got no more or better training than thousands of gifted kids looking to make it in tennis. She was prodigious, but plenty of them are. Injuries hit her early and harder than most.
So why is Ms. Andreescu Canada’s first Grand Slam singles champion? What makes her different?
A lot of people have been asking her coach, Sylvain Bruneau, that question lately. Ms. Andreescu won the U.S. Open by beating Serena Williams in straight sets on Saturday. Mr. Bruneau didn’t get a cheque but he was also a winner. His career just broke the atmosphere en route to global orbit alongside his protégé.
Even though he’s there every day, Mr. Bruneau doesn’t have a good answer about what makes Ms. Andreescu more special than all the other special people. There’s a lot of talk about mental toughness, corralling a high tennis IQ and being “a street fighter.”
But Ms. Andreescu tried to explain it in terms that are deeply out of fashion. We live in the era of perfectibility and truth through data. If you collate information the right way, you will find your answer.
Ms. Andreescu’s formula is more metaphysical. She wins because she believes she will.
A year ago, she was injured. She failed to advance through the qualifiers of the U.S. Open. She didn’t even watch the final. On Saturday evening, she claimed to have not seen any of it until she watched a few highlights that morning for scouting purposes.
How did a pro tennis player remain so ignorant of what was easily the biggest story in tennis last year? Because she’s avoiding tennis.
Even so recently – fully grown and essentially the player she is now – Ms. Andreescu describes herself as petulant and miserable.
“I would get very negative thoughts going through my mind. I would smash racquets,” Ms. Andreescu said. “So I started seeing … (here she paused and decided against saying the word ‘therapist’ out loud) … I’ll say I started seeking advice from other people.”
She now practises meditation. She is to visualization what Novak Djokovic is to the war on gluten. She ritualizes positive thinking (which sounds much more exhausting than playing tennis). She talks a lot about breathing, as if that’s a pastime rather than a biological fact.
She calls all this “working your mind.”
“At this level, everyone knows how to play tennis,” Ms. Andreescu said. “The thing that separates the best from the rest is the mindset.”
All this useful advice and insight came spiced with some absolute nonsense as well.
“Like I said many times, if I can do it, if Serena [Williams] can do it, if Roger [Federer] can do it, if Steve Nash can do it, then anyone can do it,” Ms. Andreescu said.
No. They can’t. You or I could visualize greatness 25 hours a day and we are still not winning Wimbledon eight times.
But successful people think success is simply a matter of trying hard enough. Because that worked for them.
Another thing we’re talking about when we’re talking about making champions is codifying the process so completely that it is repeatable.
What if Eugenie Bouchard had been a big visualizer?
It may be cruel to compare Ms. Bouchard with Ms. Andreescu right now, but it seems apt. They received essentially the same training in the same environment. They were each prodigious teens. They peaked at around the same age.
But one of these things is not like the other. Ms. Andreescu has the head for this. For whatever reason, Ms. Bouchard doesn’t. That’s the only explanation for someone who made three slam semis in a season no longer being able to win a first-round match.
Despite her troubles, Ms. Bouchard is still banging away with the same power-of-positivity mantras that Ms. Andreescu uses. I guess it doesn’t work for everyone.
The bottom line is that you can’t make a Ms. Andreescu. She is born. Through some unrepeatable combination of genetics, upbringing, experience and outlook, we have arrived at a nearly perfect athletic competitor. Someone who isn’t affected by fear and self-doubt in the same way as the rest of us.
What you are struck by when you talk to truly great athletes is how little philosophy they apply to their art.
Former Toronto Blue Jay Vernon Wells – who was at the time perhaps the most gifted centre-fielder in baseball – used to do a drill wherein he would turn his back to the plate and run to balls hit into the outfield. At the last minute, he’d spin and catch them without fail. His only point of reference was the sound of the ball off the bat.
I asked him how he did that.
“I don’t think about it,” Mr. Wells said, as if that were an explanation.
How did Ms. Andreescu – someone who’d never been there before, had no idea how it would feel, facing the best that ever was in front of the most hostile crowd in tennis – do it?
“I just tried to breathe,” was the closest she could come to an explanation.
In any sport, you can train them up to a certain level. By the time you have gotten to the professional ranks, the vast majority of aspirants have been eliminated.
At that point, it becomes ineffable. Some people are just born winners. That offends our societal belief in the great meritocracy, but it doesn’t make it any less true. You can’t tell the winners from the losers until they’ve won. Then it’s obvious.
You can’t scout a winning mentality. At the developmental stage, they’re all winners. You can’t develop it. It just is or it isn’t.
Ms. Andreescu is a winner. Tennis Canada didn’t turn her into one. It gave her the basic tools. She did the finishing work herself. Whatever she has can’t be broken down into steps in a training manual, although God knows people will try.
This is a good thing. It’s the best possible thing. Because if sports really were a science, we would not be capable of being amazed by their magic.""

Kelley's article appeared in the Globe and Mail on September 9, 2019

Dubai people, camels and things December 13, 2019

UAE was nothing but rolling sand dunes.  "Forty-seven years after its establishment in 1972, the UAE has become a shining country...