Saturday, April 02, 2016

Top Twelve: Pushing Away from the Table

All but done with donut(s)
I posted one entry in 2015, a clear sign that other endeavours have wooed me away from writing about hockey (and donuts).  

Oh, I have many other stories I’d like to tell here, but it’s time to say an official “see you later” with one more Top Twelve collection—this one focused on the activities, people and places that, in the last year or so, have provided relief, gratitude and even joyfulness as way to combat my often irrational fear and anxiety.


Reading
Ron Maclean’s Hockey Towns: Untold Stories from the Heart of Canada; George Henderson’s Krazy George Still Krazy After All These Cheers; and Clint Malarchuk’s A Matter of Inches, the latter of which I finished reading in Montreal.

Montreal, QC
I didn’t skate on Puckbite’s backyard rink. Way too cold. But, the Habs-loving, late-blooming hockey player and yours truly enjoyed lunch and a long philosophical discussion about hockey and the arts.

My wife and I visited several familiar places and a new donut establishment, in La Petite-Italie. Our Russian cabbie, a friendly historian who knows his way around town, delivered us to Le Trou de Beigne, where we bought these donuts, some of which we shared with the doorman at our hotel, some of which we ate, and a lot of which we had to sacrifice for art’s sake.

North Carolina
Getting Silly with "Stormy"
Another wonderful friend, much like Puckbite, lives in Charlotte. Hockey isn’t such a big deal there, so we drove north.

In Raleigh, college football outranks professional hockey, but the PNC Arena is a fantastic venue to watch a Hurricanes game. Even though the Dallas Stars beat the home team, we still enjoyed affordable seats near the player’s bench, the “Two in the Box” video segment and pulled pork.

In Durham, the hot spot is Monuts Donuts. Unique donut and coffee options contribute to the flair of this tavern that, of course, serves Sierra Nevada Tropical IPA and Irish Coffee.

Ireland
The Nutella-covered cronut at Krust Bakery was the best tasting donut in Dublin. The Boston Cream at The Natural Bakery in Donnybrook made me feel at home.

Bostonians beware: I saw lots of people sporting NY Yankees caps and not a single Dubliner wearing Red Sox merchandise.

I didn’t see a Celtics, Bruins or Sox fan in Galway either, but that’s not something I worried about while savoring the porridge at the House Hotel—in the heart of the Latin Quarter. ¡QuĂ© bueno!

Dave Gosher and Bob Beers
Gosher calls such a great Bruins game on the radio that sometimes my wife and I turn off the TV’s sound. Three weeks ago on the Sports Hub 98.5 hockey show, Beers said it’s unrealistic to expect the Bruins to be perfect every game. Every NHL team goes through ups and downs. This kind of broadcasting is refreshing and supports my efforts to tap into gratitude, dare I say love.

Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand
I love these guys. How blessed are we here in Boston to have this duo on the same line and same penalty killing unit? Definitely an odd pairing, but what’s not to love as they demonstrate their mutual affection in this Valentine’s Day video? The only thing missing is a love song.

Nashville, TN
Some Nashville hockey fans may be tired of Tim McGraw’s “I like it, I love it” after every goal the Predators score, but my wife and I heard it five times as the hometown team defeated the St. Louis Blues. I couldn’t get enough of it.


My afternoon at the Country Music Hall of Fame rivaled the hockey game for entertainment value. The Keith Urban exhibit, which includes an autographed Quebec Nordiques T-shirt, and chatting with a visitor from Toronto in front of the cowboy music displays, made me happy.

My wife took a poolside photograph of  a “100 Layer Donut” from Five Daughters Bakery as I listened to a Garth Brooks tune streaming from our hotel’s speakers.

West Point, NY
Getting to re-connect with a relative who plays for the Black Knights was extra special.

Even if you’re not a hockey fan, West Point is a beautiful place to visit. I didn’t see a donut dispenser on campus, but you’ll find outstanding soda bread and cider donuts a few miles up the road, at Jones Farm.

Writing
Most every Friday morning at the Boston Bean House, I’m working on a historical novel. If you love hockey or Canadian-American history, this book may be for you. Someday. (By the way, my hockey and donut memoir is still on the to-complete list, but it needs a wee more bit editing and time to mature.)

The AMHL
“You still got it,” Donut Boy told me while I, in my street clothes, shot the puck into the net. He was skating after the game, as he always does, and I wasn’t— but that didn’t matter. His compliment lifted my spirits.

I’ve had so much fun playing hockey with Donut Boy and all the other men and women that make the AMHL so special. As I re-read some of the stories I’ve written (and had forgotten about), I’m so glad to have been part of the league, as a player and writer, and for friends like Donut Boy.

Exercise
I haven’t skated since last fall but planks and long walks, in the cities we’ve visited and here at home in Maynard, have become my friends.

Less Pain
My groin and hip pain has decreased in frequency, intensity and duration. I’m not cured of it and there are flare-ups. But, thanks to my wife, exercise, pelvic floor therapy, my chiropractor, playing the guitar, prayer, music, meditation, my psychologist and countless others who care about me, I remain gratefully yours.

Thank you—gracias, merci, obrigado, shokran, spaciba, Go raibh maith agaibh—to all the readers over the world and to those who also shared their hockey (and/or donut) stories. Thanks for such an enlightening and magical ten-year gig.

See you on LinkedIn, email, the golf course, the rink…maybe someday here on this site again, or wherever our paths may cross again.

Update:
21 March 2017

You can now read my new blog, stories I tell about learning Spanish--in particular about pronunciation.






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