PATRICK MCVAY

WRITER

My Musings

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Updating My Drivers

If I told you the truth – that I own three cars – would think badly of me? Saying that I have three cars probably sounds like I'm bragging, but the fact is that I'm self-conscious about it. It suggests that I don't appreciate the corner we humans have painted ourselves into and am willing to pump as much carbon into the atmosphere as I can muster. Like I'm one of those guys who drives a giant pickup truck and takes pleasure in "rolling coal" at cyclists or running over them. (Or both). I'm embarrassed that you might think of me that way.

You know why they call it "embarrassed"? Because you feel as though your ass is bare. Little linguistical nugget for your brain to ponder.

But back to me not bragging about my three cars: we have three not because I drive all the time but because I'm bad at finding the sweet spot between the price I was offered on a trade-in (not much) and what I want in my wildest dreams (many, many thousands of dollars more). Also, the car I was trading in is 15 years old and coughs up a bolt or springs a leak often and needs surgery. I own another that is eight years old and it doesn't matter how many ball joints and control arms you replace, it seems to need another almost immediately. Consequently, one of these two cars is on the bench so that when the other is on the disabled list my family isn't stuck with just one car.

"Just one car." Yes, I know, first world problem.

Meanwhile, we had been using the same drivers for our vehicles since we got married in 2003. We finally updated our drivers to include our son when he was around 16. My impression is that we can get away with just these three drivers until 2024, when we plan to update them again by adding my daughter (currently 15). It's just sensible. By then, we may have just one functioning automobile. That's when I buy everyone a bike. 

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No, Canada!

Firesmoke Time to quit smoking, Canada

On and off in these pages, I've been known to allege that my children are Canadians. I don't mean they act like Canadians by being overly friendly, drinking maple syrup, and wearing toques, but they nevertheless had what seemed to be an airtight legal entitlement to live and work in the 51st state, given that their grandma was Quebecois.

Mais non!

Despite the fact that my kids were born (or "borned" as we little kids often said back in the 1960s) prior to the laws changing in 2009 and were bona fide citizens when they emerged into our cold world, they are not grandfathered under previous law. Changes in 2009 that eliminated citizenship being conveyed by a grandparent unless you had already applied for "proof of citizenship" (i.e., not citizenship per se, just proof that you are a citizen, which at the time they were) means that our friendly northern neighbors will bar these two from entering their smoldering country if/when the next US Civil War gets approved.
On the plus side, they won't be expected to doggedly defend any ice that still exists up there in the Canada parts of the arctic region, if ice continues to exist, which is not a given.

As if to put an exclamation point on the denial of their citizenship, Canada is blowing smoke at us Americans, preventing us from playing bad tennis outside thanks to terrible air quality. It's like they're trying to push us away from their border, or mimic the Vatican by sending messages via smoke signal. Sacre Bleu!

This issue is something short of tragic, I suppose. We are not Ukrainian refugees, or Sudanese trying to escape civil war. But with the US south sweltering, our government and society divided, and all those guns floating around, having an escape hatch would be great. (As would the tuition relief they would see if they managed to get into McGill.)

I'd like to say that we're going to protest the government's decision by boycotting Canada altogether, but the fact is that just last week we went to The Shaw Festival in the town of Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, with our tails between our legs, and yes, we had a really nice time. I guess there are reasons to be north of the border beyond escaping our heat, guns, and the US Supreme Court.   






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The Bitters

We in New England suddenly find ourselves in the midst of a rare and shocking cold snap. This may be the warmest winter in recorded history, but don't tell that to this weekend. This weekend is getting in the faces of other weekends and tweeting out "How ya like me now?!" It's strutting and preening and signing autographs because today we're going to see some of the lowest temperatures in something like a hundred thousand years!

What's that? Sorry, my fact-checkers say we were still in an ice age 25,000 years ago.

Whatever. Stop arguing with me. The fact is we've got some bitter air here in New England, bitterer than the international bitterness units (IBUs) in my New England IPA. As someone who worries about just how bad climate change is going to be, I am curious if this is the last time we'll see negative temperature values in Boston

I decide to step outside into the wind-swept night to see what the bitter cold felt like against my supple skin. Would it feel like I had landed on another planet? My daughter joined me outside for about 30 seconds, and both of us nonchalantly declared that it was no big deal. Then went back into our warm house. In truth, we weren't in the wind.

Then, at 1 in the morning, with the wind blowing and the thermometer reading -8 degrees F, I step outside to find a rabbit chilling in the backyard, literally, not seeking the warmth of one of those rabbit holes we all keep talking about going down at work. Maybe this one was relegated to the sofa for the night, rabbit-wise.

This morning the rabbit is gone, presumably not frozen to death, and maybe chased back into a hole by one of our several neighborhood coyotes. Based on how it felt last night, the coyotes did that rabbit a favor. 

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Grassy

Picture of a chairlift at Sugarloaf Mountain with very little snow It's All Natural

My youth is pocked and peppered with tiny bits of memories of something called "grass skiing." Sometimes I wonder if grass skiing was really a thing at all, or if it was just a dream I once had, or maybe something I saw online. Except it was the 1970s and there was no "online." It might have been an ad in a newspaper, in the sports section or maybe metro, a small rectangle in the corner on the page otherwise devoted to department store bras. In my memory, there's a person in shorts and a t-shirt, holding ski poles and smiling on a mountain bluff, wearing bright green ski boots.

At the time, I was a young skier, willing to believe that I could extend the joys of winter by skiing in the summer. But this didn't look quite like the skiing I was used to, where your boots are strapped onto boards that slide along slippery, cold stuff. The grass skiing I imagined from the ad I saw was more like strapping skateboards to your feet and rolling in the weeds helmet-free, a recreational sport seemingly designed to wreck knees and cause heads to make contact with large rocks.

I didn't ever ski on grass. I just remember that you could do it at a mountain I frequented in winter, called Labrador.

A recent trip to Sugarbush mountain in Vermont reminded me of grass skiing because although I was there to ski, many of the slopes were covered in carpets of grass rather than snow. The northeast has never had as reliable snow as the Rockies, even when I was skiing in the 1970s, but snow guns help to fill in where mother nature hasn't. You can ski on this fake snow, though it's not quite the same as skiing on the packed powder that forms after white stuff falls from clouds. But one thing you can't do is make snow when the temps are in the 50s. I'll be honest: warm weather in wintertime depresses me, indicating that climatologists haven't been kidding, and that my favorite recreational activity may not survive in these parts past the mid-21st century.

There is still time for this winter to be rescued. Mother Nature could brew up a storm any day, dumping a foot or two of snow on the hills so that the February break isn't a bust. Two big storms is really all we need this year. But in the future, grass skiing may be our best bet. 

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Daily Haiku

 

Cats oft’ void their guts.

They cough out fur balls. They puke.  

We tread carefully.  

 

College Tuition

We dig ourselves a deep hole

Need a second job.

 

Now that I’m sixty

People think I’m a wise man

Probably, I’m not

 

I’m in my Fifties

But tomorrow I’m Sixty

Will need a sports car

 

My PCP Says

“Keep doin’ what yer doin’”

Prob’ly I should not

 

It’s St. Patrick’s Day

We eat beef that has been corned

Whatever that means

 

Robots and A.I.

I will make use of these soon

To do my taxes

 

Strange Oscar night end

Pacino failed to mention

Best pic nominees

 

Who’s this Katie Britt?

Scary. Wierd. We could have used

A Trigger Warning

 

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