Category Archives: football

A life well lived

IMG_0460IMG_0459We are living in strange and unusual times. Life is not what it was and will probably never be the same again. COVID-19 has turned things upside down and we have had to adjust the way we do things. It has been a hectic week. We’ve been busy getting packed up for our journey to our new home in Saskatchewan, while making arrangements for our children, who will not be journeying with us, although our son is coming to Saskatchewan later in the summer.

Added to this was the sad news earlier this week that my Uncle Billy passed away. Today (Saturday) he was laid to rest in Orkney. I would have liked to have been there, but even if I lived there now, COVID restrictions would have meant that I couldn’t have anyway. Under normal circumstances, the church would have been packed out, as he touched so many lives and had been involved in so many aspects of community life.

Uncle Billy was a large part of my life and it is hard to put into words what he meant to me. Although we moved away from Orkney in 1994, he always stayed close in my thoughts. It was always special catching up with him on the occasional visits back ‘home’. He will be deeply missed by those who loved and knew him, but he leaves behind the legacy of a life well lived.

As well as being my uncle, Billy was my first boss at the Post Office, my bandmaster at the Salvation Army, a fellow Rangers fan, and many other things. He retired during my time at the Post Office, but that didn’t slow him down. He continued to be involved in many different things in the community. There are too many to mention, but some of them included a continuation of his life-long involvement with the Salvation Army, volunteering at the local MS hyperbaric chamber, sailing his model yacht, and continuing to play the Last Post at the local Armistice Day parade. He performed the latter for over 60 years. His dedication to local life was recognised when he was awarded the MBE, receiving this award from the Queen. He was also recognised by a motion put forward in the Scottish Parliament, in September 2009, by local MSP Liam McArthur, which read:

That the Parliament notes the decision by Billy Stanger MBE to step down as bandmaster of the Salvation Army in Orkney after 35 years in the role; acknowledges the unstinting service that he has given to the Salvation Army since he joined as an 11-year-old boy in 1943; welcomes the fact that Mr Stanger has made clear his intention to carry on playing in the army band; looks forward to Mr Stanger’s cornet playing inspiring crowds attending Armistice Day parades and other occasions for years to come, and expresses relief that the evening of music at the Salvation Army Hall in Kirkwall on Sunday 13 September 2009 far from represents the last post by Billy Stanger.

Retirement gave him more time to be involved in the lives of his family, who were the first love of his life. He and his wife, Isa, had five children, many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. I could try and count them up, but I wouldn’t want to miss any out and get the number wrong. The top picture in this post is from their Ruby Wedding in the 1990s, before we left, and that was their family then. In the ensuing years it has grown a fair bit, many of them born since I left Orkney. Billy didn’t play favourites with his family and was able to share his love with them in equal amounts.

I have lots of special memories of Billy. One is from the second photo above, which was taken in Toronto in 1998. He and Isa, along with other family members, plus one friend who is an honorary aunt in the family, came over when Pamela and I were Commissioned and Ordained as Salvation Army Officers. We were touched by the fact that they all came over to share this special time with us. Another memory is from Glasgow in 1982, when Billy led the SA Kirkwall band playing Divine Communion at the morning meeting of the Scottish Congress. It was a proud moment for us all and it remains one of my favourite pieces to this day. Yet another memory is from Glasgow in April 1984, when Billy took my sister and I to Ibrox to see Rangers beat Celtic 1-0. Bobby Williamson scored the winner with a spectacular overhead kick and Jimmy Nicholl got sent off in what was his last game for the club. There are also lots of happy memories from working with him at the Post Office. He was a great boss to work with and was probably too lenient on many of us, especially considering how young and foolish we were at times.

Music was a big part of Billy’s life. As well as being involved in the musical sections at the SA, he was involved in a variety of community musical groups, including the local operatic society. In the early 1980s I played briefly with him in a brass quintet put together by John Jones, which was lots of fun. Recently, while packing up our stuff here I came across a CD my dad sent me from 2008, when Billy was the guest on a show on Radio Orkney, sharing some of his favourite music and the stories behind why he picked the particular ones he did. It is a great listen and just showed how eclectic his taste in music was. My only complaint is that the show was too short! I’m sure there was much more that he could have shared.

Above everything else, Billy was a great Christian example to us all. This was exemplified more in his actions than anything else. The way he lived his life backed up what he believed. Anyone who knew or met him could have no doubt that he had a deep faith. He loved sharing his witness through music, be it playing his cornet or singing in the songsters, male voice choir, or with anyone who would join him in song. He was as comfortable playing his cornet for royalty as he was playing on the streets of Kirkwall. It must have been difficult for him when he had to give up his playing later in life, but he passed on that love of banding to many of his family members, so that legacy still lives on.

Uncle Billy will be missed by many, but I can say without a doubt that his life was one that was well lived. We have sorrow over the fact that he is no longer on this earth with us, but we also rejoice in the fact that he is no longer in pain, as he has gone on to his heavenly reward.

Top Ten Tuesday – Books I Enjoyed But Rarely Talk About

It seems like forever since I posted anything here, but I think that it might be time to start doing so again. I’ll see how things go and if I can stay motivated enough.

TTT-Big2Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme that is hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. Each week a different topic is posted inviting the participants to come up with a list of ten things to do with the topic.

This week’s topic is ‘Books I Enjoyed but Rarely Talk About.’ The following are all books that I really enjoyed, but for some reason I failed to talk them up as much as other books.

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  1. Astrophysics for People in a Hurry – Neil deGrasse Tyson. Physics was one of my favourite subjects in school, so much so that I almost went to university to study. However, my life took a different direction and the rest is history. This is a great little book that offers an understandable introduction to astrophysics. I really need to read more books like this.
  2. The Samurai – Shusaku Endo. This was the first Endo book I read. I had to write a review of it for an ethics course I took a long time ago. I found it hard to put down and it introduced me to part of Japanese history that I previously knew nothing about.
  3. The Stranger – Albert Camus. I bought this book at Bearly Used Books in Parry Sound on a trip home to Elliot Lake. Then I read it in the car in one sitting, as it wasn’t my turn to drive.
  4. How Soccer Explains the World – Franklin Foer. This is a great read that is about so much more than soccer. You don’t have to be a fan of the game to enjoy it. It truly is a fascinating read.
  5. Imperfect Harmony – Stacy Horn. I received this one from LibraryThing Early Reviewers and it was so much more than I expected it to be. It’s a book about music, community, history and so much more.
  6. The Man Who Loved Books Too Much – Allison Hoover Bartlett. Who knew that a book about someone who steals rare books because he loves them so much could be so engaging. I love books, but nowhere near as much as John Charles Gilkey. This is a great read, though.
  7. 1929: A Crisis That Shaped The Salvation Army’s Future – John Larsson. This is a fascinating look into events that are not spoken about too much. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I’m glad I gave it a go.
  8. Things As They Are – Guy Vanderhaeghe. Vanderhaeghe is a Canadian master storyteller, who doesn’t get the exposure or credit that he deserves. This collection of short stories is one of my favourites.
  9. In From the Cuithes – edited by Howie Firth. This eclectic collection of writing from Orkney, by a variety of writers, is one of my favourite books, but it’s one I really haven’t written much about. I should really give it a another read soon.
  10. The Search to Belong – Joseph R. Myers. It’s been a few years since I read this book. Although I don’t mention it very much, it really challenged my thinking on a number of things and is worth the read.

There were probably a lot of other books I could have added to this list, but these were the ones that jumped out at me as I perused my shelves. What are some of the books you have really enjoyed, but not talked about much?

Top Ten Tuesday – Short Stories/Essays (July 17)

TTT-Big2It’s been a long time, but it’s time to take part in Top Ten Tuesday again.

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme that is hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. Each week a different topic is posted inviting the participants to come up with a list of ten things to do with the topic.

This week’s topic is ‘Favourite Novellas/Short Stories’. I kind of adapted it a bit and decided to do my top ten favourite short story or essay collections.

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  1. Night Shift – Stephen King. Of all the Stephen King story collections I’ve read this is probably my favourite, although it doesn’t contain my favourite short story of his, The Monkey. It’s hard to pick a favourite from this book, but it is probably between Graveyard Shift and Night Surf.
  2. Five by Endo – Shusaku Endo. This is a collection of five short stories by one of the most under-rated writers of the 20th century. They are all great, but Unzen stood out for me.
  3. Gristle: from Factory Farms to Food Safety (Thinking Twice About the Meat We Eat) – Moby (Editor), Miyun Park (Editor). I read this book not long after I became a vegetarian and it helped solidify my view that I hd made the right decision.
  4. Winter Tales – George Mackay Brown. An excellent collection of wintry-themed stories from Orkney’s most prominent writer.
  5. The Penguin Book of Russian Short Stories – David Richards (editor). It’s been a few years since I read this collection. I used to keep it in the car, so that I had something to read whenever I was going somewhere or had to wait for something/someone. One of my favourite Russian short stories, The Nose by Nikolay Gogol, is included in this one.
  6. Love Your Crooked Neighbour: Thoughts on Breath, Bread, Breasts and Brokenness – Ron Ferguson. I really enjoyed this collection of sermons, articles, and a short story. It also has an Orkney connection, as the author was the minister of St Magnus Cathedral at the tie of its publication. He also wrote a great biography on George Mackay Brown, which is worth checking out.
  7. The Thinking Fan’s Guide to the World Cup – Matt Weiland (Editor), Sean Wilsey (Editor). This collection came out just before the 2006 World Cup and included 32 stories – one on each of the nations who participated that year. Each story has a different writer. Among them are Nick Hornby (England) and the USA (Dave Eggers).
  8. The Cat’s Pajamas – Ray Bradbury. I think that Ray Bradbury was one of the best short story writers of all time. I could’ve half-filled this list with collections of his that I’ve read, but I include this one as my favourite. Highlights of this collection include The House and A Careful Man Dies.
  9. Things As They Are – Guy Vanderhaeghe. I discovered this author, who is from Saskatchewan, when I lived in there about 20 years ago. My favourites here were King Walsh and Teacher.
  10. In from the Cuithes – Howie Firth (Editor). This is a great anthology of writing from Orkney. There are too many favourites in this one to single any out.

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Bookish (and not so bookish) thoughts (Oct 4)

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‘Bookish (and not so bookish) thoughts’ is hosted by Christine at Bookishly Boisterous. It’s just a round-up of bookish and other things from the previous week. Share a link there if you want to participate.

1. It’s October already, but the weather has felt more like summer. This weekend will be one of our more warmer Thanksgiving weekends for a few years. Time flies on and before we know it Christmas will be here!

2. I spent last weekend building two more IKEA Billy bookcases and rearranging my books once more. The picture at the top of the post isn’t of my new bookcases, but is instead my rearranged Tolkien and Lewis shelves.

3. We’re looking forward to a couple of weeks of holiday from this Friday onwards. Some of my family members arrived from Scotland yesterday, so we’ll be able to spend some time with them. Also our daughter will be home on Friday for a five day break. Added to this is her high school graduation ceremony on Friday night.

4. I haven’t had that much reading time this past week due to getting things ready for our visitors and finishing off a number of things at work before our holiday time. I’m hoping I’ll get some quality reading time in during my time off. I have some books lined up I’d like to get into, so hopefully I’ll find the time.

5. It was a great opener for the Leafs tonight – a 7-2 road win against the Jets. Hopefully it’s a sign of a great season ahead. Added to this is TFC claiming the Supporters’ Shield last weekend. Unfortunately, the Jays didn’t make the playoffs this year, but maybe next year instead.

6. The shooting tragedy in Las Vegas earlier this week just makes me numb. It’s time for our southern neighbours to take a serious look at gun control. These kinds of shootings are becoming far too frequent.

7. I rewatched ‘Michael Clayton’ for the first time in a while last weekend. I’d forgotten just how great it is. It’s probably my second favourite George Clooney movie behind ‘O Brother Where Art Thou?’

Bookish (and not so bookish) thoughts (June2)

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‘Bookish (and not so bookish) thoughts’ is hosted by Christine at Bookishly Boisterous. It’s just a round-up of bookish and other things from the previous week. Share a link there if you want to participate.

1. I can’t believe it’s June already. Half the year is almost done! Our daughter has less than a month of High School left and then it won’t be long until she’s off to University in the Fall. Where have all the years gone?

2. I finally got around to reading Hidden Figures. It was a great read, but one that couldn’t be rushed. There was a lot of information to take in, especially in regards to segregation and race issues. It’s a well-researched book about the stories of four women who overcame those issues and played an important part in aeronautics and the space race from WWII onwards. I’m looking forward to seeing the movie soon.

3. There’s some great movies out now or coming soon. I’m not sure how many of them I’m going to be able to see. Ones that I’m looking forward to include Wonder WomanThe Book of HenryDespicable Me 3, and Baby Driver, among others. I’m also tempted to go and see The Captain Underpants Movie for old times sake. Those books were very popular in our household a few years ago.

4. TFC are still going strong. After a hiccup again Ottawa last Tuesday, we took the second leg 4-0 last night and are headed to two games against Montreal for the Canadian Championship. We’re still sitting at the top of the Eastern Conference and are leading the race for the Supporter’s Shield as well. Rangers new coach, Pedro Caixinha, is beginning to show he means business, with a couple of strong signings made so fa this week in Bruno Alves and Ryan Jack.

5. I still haven’t got to the half dozen of boxes of books that remain unpacked since we moved here almost two years ago. I’ll need to get to them soon, just in case there are some that I need to get rid of. We’re planning a trip to Bearly Used Books in Parry Sound this summer and I could alway take some of them there to get some more store credit. We already have over $200 credit there, so I’m not sure if it would be wise to get more, although I’m sure I could easily find ways of spending it!

6. I’m still looking for something different to binge watch on Netflix. I probably won’t watch much during the summer, as I have lots of reading lined up, but it would be good to find something for the Fall. Any ideas would be most welcome.

7. I found a new bookstagram challenge for June. It’s the Bibliophile Book Pile Challenge hosted by @justolivia_19 and @thingsthatkeepmeupatnight If you’re interested I’m @wcs53 on Instagram.

Bookish (and not so bookish) thoughts (May 25)

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1. It has been a difficult week to concentrate, since news came through of the suicide bombing at the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester on Monday. It’s awful to think that a person can go too something as simple and enjoyable as a pop concert and not return alive. Words fail me, especially as I think of the young lives cut short by such a cruel and senseless act. In the midst of all the sorrow, there were also some uplifting stories, such as the homeless man who, after helping some of the victims, has been offered six months free rent and assistance with putting his life back together.

2. Last Monday was also the Victoria Day Holiday here. I had planned to sort through some of the boxes we haven’t unpacked yet, but that didn’t happen. Instead I spent the day reading and playing video games. Maybe I’ll get to the boxes next holiday!

3. Rangers (awful) season came to an end last Sunday with a fairly routine 2-1 victory at Partick Thistle. The less said about the season the better. There are lot of rumours going round now about who will be leaving and who will be coming in over the summer. It will be interesting to see how it all unfolds.

4. I’m almost finished the #NRBchallenge on Instagram and am looking for something similar for June. If you are interested, I’m @wcs53 on Instagram.

5. My reading is going well again and, according to the 50 Book Pledge, I’m on course for 82 books this year. Currently I’m reading Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly, which I hope to finish over the weekend.

Bookish (and not so bookish) thoughts (May 18)

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‘Bookish (and not so bookish) thoughts’ is hosted by Christine at Bookishly Boisterous. It’s just a round-up of bookish and other things from the previous week. Share a link there if you want to participate.

1. Last Saturday was the first time I took part in any kind of readathon. As I pretty much had a clear day (for once), I signed up for the SavvyReadathon hosted by The Savvy Reader. I probably only managed about 9 hours of reading, due to a couple of interruptions – I had to watch the TFC game and I had to go out shopping with our daughter for Mother’s Day – but I still managed to read three books. I also got a third of the way through a fourth one. I’d like to sign up for more of these kinds of events in the future as it was a great way to get some much needed reading done.

2. Speaking of TFC, we’re on a six game winning streak at the moment and are sitting top of the standings. Hopefully we can keep the streak going tomorrow night at the New York Red Bulls. We have a couple of bad injuries to contend with, both Giovinco and Hagglund will be out for a few weeks, but there seems to be great depth in the squad this season, so we should be able to contend with this.

3. Next Monday is the Victoria Day holiday. We’re finally going to sort through some of the boxes we haven’t opened yet since we moved here almost two years ago. Include in these boxes are at least half a dozen boxes of books. Our 15 bookshelves are totally full, so we will have to decide whether to get some more shelves or shed a few books. I’m not that keen on the latter idea, so I may have to check out IKEA soon!

4. The school year is almost over, which means that our daughter has less than 2 months left in her high school career. It hardly seems possible, but she’ll be heading off to university after the summer. Speaking of school, I’ve been given the go-ahead to explore my further education options. I’m currently exploring the possibility of doing a MTS at Tyndale in Toronto. It seems to be the one that would work best for my current situation. Most of it can be done by long distance, which suits me fine. It’s been almost 6 years since I did my last course, so hopefully I can get back onto the swing of things again easily enough.

5. U2 have started the first leg of their Joshua Tree Tour 2017 in interesting fashion. During the three shows so far they have only played songs from All That You Can’t Leave Behind or earlier. I’m looking forward to hearing The Joshua Tree in its entirety live and hearing Red Hill Mining Town live for my first time, as this tour is the first time it’s been played live. I’m also looking forward to hearing the new song, The Little Things That Give You Away.

6. I’m still managing to keep up with the #NRBchallenge on Instagram. Some days have been more challenging than others, but it’s been fun taking pictures of some books I haven’t thought of for a long time. If you are interested, I’m @wcs53 on Instagram. I’ve enjoyed this one so much that I’m going to have to look for a new challenge for next month. I’m open to suggestions.

7. Just in case anyone who knows me is worried, the picture at the top of this post is not a cup of coffee. It’s tea. I gave up caffeinated coffee almost a year ago and I think it has been good for me. I do drink decaf most days, but no more caffeinated coffee for me!

Bookish (and not so bookish) thoughts (May 4)

IMG_0603I seem to have hit a kind of wall lately when it comes to updating this blog. I’m always looking for ways to kickstart it again and found this weekly meme, which might be a way to get things going again. It’s called ‘Bookish (and not so bookish) thoughts’ and is hosted by Christine at Bookishly Boisterous. It just seems to be a list of updates and things from the previous week, some about books, some not. So I think I’ll give it a go and see what happens.

1. After a couple of slow months I think I’ve got my reading back on track again. I started off the new year pretty well, but somewhere in March things started to slow down a bit. Currently I’m enjoying Rob Bell’s How to Be Here, and am also finishing off a few others. I’m a little behind on a couple of my book challenges, but there’s nothing to worry about yet. It won’t take too much effort to catch up. The main thing is that I’m enjoying my reading again.

2. U2 announced yesterday what their special subscription gift is this year. It’s going to be The Joshua Tree Singles Vinyl Collection: 1987 & 2017, and it’ll be shipping out later this year. I’m looking forward to getting it then. Plus, it’s only 50 days until I see them in Toronto.

3. Finally Netflix put up some episodes of shows that I had been waiting for. I binge-watched season two of Better Call Saul in less than a week and I’m current getting through seasons 3 and 4 of Father Brown. I was disappointed that Netflix won’t be showing season 3 of Better Call Saul until next year, but I just discovered that the first four episodes are up on the AMC website for free (so I know what I’ll be watching for the next couple of days). *EDIT: I was only able to watch the first episode of the season for free. In order to watch the rest I would have to be subscribed to the channel on my cable service. Frustrated!*

4. Although my TBR pile keeps on growing, there’s a few good books coming out in the next couple of weeks that I’ll have to add to that pile. One that I’ll be getting for sure is Rob Bell’s What is The Bible? by Rob Bell. Hopefully I’ll be finished How to Be Here by then.

5. Today is, of course, May The Fourth day, when we celebrate all things Star Wars. With it being a week day we decided to hold off on watching anything Star Wars. Tomorrow night we are planning to at least watch Rogue One, which is fine because tomorrow is becoming known as Revenge of the Fifth day.

6. It was exciting watching the Leafs in the play-offs this year, even though they only lasted six games. Better days are ahead, I think. I’m not sure how much further the Raptors are going to go, as they are already 2 games down to the Cavaliers. Thankfully TFC are starting to find some rhythm now after a shaky start. They’re on a three game winning streak at the moment and it’s been great watching them recently. Thankfully Rangers first season back in the Scottish Premiership will be at an end soon. It’s been torture watching them recently, especially last Saturday’s game. Things can only get better and we’ll see if Pedro is the answer or not after the summer transfer window opens.

7. I decided to try a bookstagram challenge on Instagram this month. It’s a Seinfeld themed challenge hosted by The Nocturnal Reader’s Box. If you want to check out my feed I go by @wcs53 on there.

One For The Ages!

What a game! What a night! It truly was one for the ages and a real nail biter to boot! After years of having to put up with all the jokes and scorn about how we’ll never be anything, TFC have finally arrived.

Last night it took extra time, but it also took a lot of resilience and never give up attitude. After losing in Montreal 3-2 last week all we had to do was to win 1-0 in front of a sold-out BMO Field crowd. Twice Montreal almost spoiled the party, but when it ended 3-2 for TFC we were left with another 30 minutes, plus the possibility of penalties, to decide who would be the Eastern champions. We took over in extra-time and with two goals in two minutes the tie was all but over. Even losing Giovinco in extra time to injury didn’t stop us.

Now on to the MLS Cup Final at BMO on Saturday 10 December against Seattle. It’s going to be another great night!

If you missed the game, or want to relive it again, here are the highlights:

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