BLAST FROM THE PAST

February 9, 2017

With the recent controversial nomination of U.S. Educational Secretary Betsy Devos, I thought an episode of McKenty Live! on the subject of education with guest Quebec Minister of Education, Claude Ryan would be nice.

RADIO WAVES

February 8, 2017

 

Exchange on CJAD with Neil McKenty.

On exchange today, the full show is dedicated to D-Day June 6th 1944.

TUESDAY WRITING CONVERSATION

February 7, 2017

Here is a poem from Thomas Gray, Catharine’s favorite.

Elegy written in a country of Churchyard.

The curfew tolls the knell of parting day,
The lowing herd wind slowly o’er the lea,
The ploughman homeward plods his weary way,
And leaves the world to darkness and to me.
Now fades the glimmering landscape on the sight,
And all the air a solemn stillness holds,
Save where the beetle wheels his droning flight,
And drowsy tinklings lull the distant folds;
Save that from yonder ivy-mantled tower
The moping owl does to the moon complain
Of such, as wandering near her secret bower,
Molest her ancient solitary reign.
Beneath those rugged elms, that yew-tree’s shade,
Where heaves the turf in many a mouldering heap,
Each in his narrow cell for ever laid,
The rude forefathers of the hamlet sleep.
The breezy call of incense-breathing morn,
The swallow twittering from the straw-built shed,
The cock’s shrill clarion, or the echoing horn,
No more shall rouse them from their lowly bed.
For them no more the blazing hearth shall burn,
Or busy housewife ply her evening care:
No children run to lisp their sire’s return,
Or climb his knees the envied kiss to share.
Oft did the harvest to their sickle yield,
Their furrow oft the stubborn glebe has broke;
How jocund did they drive their team afield!
How bowed the woods beneath their sturdy stroke!
Let not Ambition mock their useful toil,
Their homely joys, and destiny obscure;
Nor Grandeur hear with a disdainful smile,
The short and simple annals of the poor.
The boast of heraldry, the pomp of power,
And all that beauty, all that wealth e’er gave,
Awaits alike the inevitable hour.
The paths of glory lead but to the grave.
Nor you, ye Proud, impute to these the fault,
f Memory o’er their tomb no trophies raise,
Where through the long-drawn aisle and fretted vault
The pealing anthem swells the note of praise.
Can storied urn or animated bust
Back to its mansion call the fleeting breath?
Can Honour’s voice provoke the silent dust,
Or Flattery soothe the dull cold ear of Death?
Perhaps in this neglected spot is laid
Some heart once pregnant with celestial fire;
Hands that the rod of empire might have swayed,
Or waked to ecstasy the living lyre.
But Knowledge to their eyes her ample page
Rich with the spoils of time did ne’er unroll;
Chill Penury repressed their noble rage,
And froze the genial current of the soul.
Full many a gem of purest ray serene,
The dark unfathomed caves of ocean bear:
Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,
And waste its sweetness on the desert air.
Some village-Hampden, that with dauntless breast
The little tyrant of his fields withstood;
Some mute inglorious Milton here may rest,
Some Cromwell guiltless of his country’s blood.
The applause of listening senates to command,
The threats of pain and ruin to despise,
To scatter plenty o’er a smiling land,
And read their history in a nation’s eyes,
Their lot forbade: nor circumscribed alone
Their growing virtues, but their crimes confined;
Forbade to wade through slaughter to a throne,
And shut the gates of mercy on mankind,
The struggling pangs of conscious truth to hide,
To quench the blushes of ingenuous shame,
Or heap the shrine of Luxury and Pride
With incense kindled at the Muse’s flame.
Far from the madding crowd’s ignoble strife,
Their sober wishes never learned to stray;
Along the cool sequestered vale of life
They kept the noiseless tenor of their way.
Yet even these bones from insult to protect
Some frail memorial still erected nigh,
With uncouth rhymes and shapeless sculpture decked,
Implores the passing tribute of a sigh.
Their name, their years, spelt by the unlettered muse,
The place of fame and elegy supply:
And many a holy text around she strews,
That teach the rustic moralist to die.
For who to dumb Forgetfulness a prey,
This pleasing anxious being e’er resigned,
Left the warm precincts of the cheerful day,
Nor cast one longing lingering look behind?
On some fond breast the parting soul relies,
Some pious drops the closing eye requires;
Ev’n from the tomb the voice of nature cries,
Ev’n in our ashes live their wonted fires.
For thee, who mindful of the unhonoured dead
Dost in these lines their artless tale relate;
If chance, by lonely Contemplation led,
Some kindred spirit shall inquire thy fate,
Haply some hoary-headed swain may say,
Oft have we seen him at the peep of dawn
Brushing with hasty steps the dews away
To meet the sun upon the upland lawn.
There at the foot of yonder nodding beech
That wreathes its old fantastic roots so high,
His listless length at noontide would he stretch,
And pore upon the brook that babbles by.
Hard by yon wood, now smiling as in scorn,
Muttering his wayward fancies he would rove,
Now drooping, woeful wan, like one forlorn,
Or crazed with care, or crossed in hopeless love.
One morn I missed him on the customed hill,
Along the heath and near his favorite tree;
Another came; nor yet beside the rill,
Nor up the lawn, nor at the wood was he;
The next with dirges due in sad array
Slow through the church-way path we saw him borne.
Approach and read (for thou can’st read) the lay,
Graved on the stone beneath yon aged thorn.’
The Epitaph
Here rests his head upon the lap of earth
A youth to fortune and to fame unknown.
Fair Science frowned not on his humble birth,
And Melancholy marked him for her own.
Large was his bounty, and his soul sincere,
Heaven did a recompense as largely send:
He gave to Misery all he had, a tear,
He gained from Heaven (’twas all he wished) a friend.
No farther seek his merits to disclose,
Or draw his frailties from their dread abode,
There they alike in trembling hope repose)
The bosom of his Father and his God.
What is your favorite poem?
Have you ever written a poem?

RADIO WAVES

February 6, 2017

 

Here is a special The best of McKenty on Exchange. Bits and pieces of everything.

Enjoy!   Listen to how Neil managed his way in a President Reagan press conference in Washington.

INTERACTIONS

February 6, 2017

Follow me on Twitter at: @McKenty_Neil

If you have any suggestions of poems or articles, feel free to e-mail me at:

linesarestillblazing@gmail.com

Comments on the question : What are your most memorable winter moments ?

February 2, 2017

Laurie Hanslin Says:

Hi, my name is Laurie. I live in central New Hampshire in a small town called Grantham. The month of January was special to me because I became “Hestia, goddess of the hearth”. I had to stay home to feed the wood stove all day while my son was in school, so it would be warm when he came home. It gave me a sense of purpose, doing something so simple. But what a wonder it is to come home to a bright fire in the woodstove and a warm home. So, my life became simple in January. Now that it’s warming up, Hestia can go out more often and the house stays warm enough. Pretty soon, Hestia will have hardly anything to do at home and will be tootling all over town.

Sona McCullough Says:

This winter has been special in so many ways.

Firstly, I have begun to realise that our family of four (five including our cocker spaniel puppy!) are going to put down roots. We are renting at present and when we moved to Norfolk, England last summer it was my 8th move in 9 years. My husband and our young daughters are all settling into work and school and we live in an area of such beauty, surrounded by open farmland and the sea. Nearby is one of the oldest Marian shrines in Europe which in medieval times was mentioned alongside Jerusalem, Rome and Santiago de Compostela and now is hidden and humble, with a tangible presence of Our Lady.

(Of course the downside to putting down roots, is trying to motivate myself to do postal redirections, when we hope to buy a house and move for the 9th time in 10 years!!)

Secondly, my new year’s resolution was to do something creative each month. And for January that meant going on a bread making day course: I had no idea that my body would dance to the rhythm of the dough as it was kneaded and that I would find myself breathing more deeply. A wonderful experience for all five senses.

Thirdly, (as three feels a more complete number!), this winter has been a special time of letting go: not pushing myself so much, not having others’ expectations as my benchmark, not worrying about all my unanswered emails. I don’t feel so ruled by a daily to-do list and in the world’s eyes haven’t achieved so much but know something more of me will emerge at the appointed time.

Thank you Catharine for the question 

Laurie Says:

Hi. This is Laurie from New Hampshire again. It’s mid March and still very much winter time. We have run out of wood for our woodstove and we are not the only ones. It’s become quite a talk around town, how people have used up their firewood and winter still goes on. …

The maple buckets are already out on some trees, but it’s still cold enough to need the woodstove going. This will be a winter I will remember. It’s the first time we’ve run out of wood before the snow even starts to melt.
Isabella McCullough Says:

Hello! I am Isabella. I am 6 years old. I live in Norfolk. I go to a school called Greshams and I am in Red house; it’s my favourite school in the world!

Here’s a poem about why this winter was memorable:

Winter

In winter my dog arrived,
He is called Jack.
Mummy gave me a game of charades
and we played it having supper.
My uncle came to visit,
Uncle Richard is his name.
Christmas we spent with my Nana and Grandpa.
We did not get any snow and I was
hoping to go sledging. .
But now it is springtime and the daffodils are blooming!

THE END!!!

Neil interviewed about John Main

February 1, 2017

Ric Peterson talks to Neil McKenty about John Main

The visit of H.H. The Dalai Lama to the Vendôme Priory in 1980. From left to right: Laurence Freeman, Dalai Lama, John Main.

The visit of H.H. The Dalai Lama to the Vendôme Priory in 1980. From left to right: Laurence Freeman, Dalai Lama, John Main.

Journalist, soldier, barrister and Benedictine monk, John Main’s spiritual odyssey was a deep seated quest for an authentic life of prayer. The door finally opened when he met an Indian swami who taught him to meditate using a mantra, only to close again when he entered the Benedictine noviciate and adopted a more traditional form of prayer.
Long after ordination in 1963, John Main discovered that the form of prayer advocated by the swami already existed within the mainstream of Western Christianity but had fallen into disuse. From then on, he was to devote his life to restoring this form of christian meditation to its rightful place within the Church. His work began with the foundation of a meditation centre at Ealing Abbey in London and led, some years later, to the foundation of the Benedictine Priory of Montreal and the establishment of a worldwide spiritual family linked through the daily practice of meditation.
Neil McKenty paints an attractive portrait of this compelling Irish monk whose teaching and writing on meditation were to transform the lives of thousands of men and women.

Cover of the new edition

cover

backcover

Coming soon: new edition from McKenty Books, special pre-order price $15 for one copy, $20 for two copies. To order send an email to linesarestillblazing [at] gmail.com.

7. “The Zaniest Show I Ever Did”

No one in talk radio knows for certain what will resonate with listeners. Or why. To Neil’s consternation and surprise, one of his most popular “Exchange” programs was “Driving With your Mate.” These are his crib notes for the program, which elicited comments from callers for two months running.

Did you ever get lost, really lost? How did you get unlost?

Why are male drivers reluctant to ask directions?

Are men better than women at driving? I know my own wife, Catharine, gives up as a map reader and as a navigator at least once on every trip we take.

Do you think men change personalities when they get behind the wheel?

I do most of the driving in my family. I consider myself a good driver, and I am uncomfortable with someone else behind the wheel. I wonder why that is? I don’t like driving with drivers I don’t know. It makes me nervous. I feel more comfortable behind the wheel than sitting in the passenger seat.

There is something darn funny about how a car affects people. Why do we always pack so much luggage? Going, let’s say, to Las Cruces we have enough luggage in the trunk to go on a cruise around the world on the Queen Mary. Why do we need so much luggage?

Catharine’s reply:

The darling man was directionally challenged, Known to go through the occasional stop sign or red light unless the navigator, me, could stop him. Never a dull moment! The luggage, on the other hand, was mostly mine, and never ceased to amaze him. Can you believe we made it?

Click below to listen to Driving with your mate.

IS THERE A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MAPLE SYRUP AND TABLE SYRUP?

January 30, 2017

maple_syrup

Catharine and I often have brunch at a well-known Montreal restaurant named Beauty’s. We always order the same items. Fresh orange juice, blueberry pancakes and bacon. Catharine orders the more expensive real maple syrup. I use the regular table syrup and it is perfectly satisfactory to me.

It is true, however, that it is all too easy to misrepresent real maple syrup. Rigtht now two American senators have a bill in the hopper that would impose tougher sanctions for the marketing of other syrups as maple syrup.

Table syrup is sickly sweet. While maple syrup may be expensive, even a small amount transforms a plain waffle or pancake, a simple slice of ham or cube of tofu, or a mustardy salad dressing.

But does Canada do enough to protect maple syrup? Quebec forbids the use of the word “maple” or of maple-leaf shapes or pictures, on any bottle that does not contain 100 per-cent pure maple syrup. But Quebec is the only province that does this? Some restaurants still pass off inferior syrups and most customers do not notice or they acquiesce.

Should there be more protection for pure maple syrup?

Is there a difference between maple syrup and table syrup?

What do you think?

Published by Neil McKenty on November 27, 2011

Here are the comments that followed:

philsfancy Says:
I like brown sugar,actually.  Put enough ketchup on anything and it works out.

Posted on November 27, 2011 at 1:52 pm

Lady Janus Says:
There’s a definite difference between maple syrup and its many copy-cats (I learned how to make one of those copy-cats for myself a few years ago). And the expense of it is only part of the difference. But yes, like with wines, a lot of people have trouble tasting the difference, and sweet is sweet.

But I don’t know what you mean by “protection.” Other than accurate labelling, what else could be done?

Posted on November 27, 2011 at 2:29 pm

Tony Kondaks Says:
Coke, Pepsi, no-name brand.  Blindfold a volunteer and see if they can tell the difference in a taste test. Whenever I’ve read about this being done, no one can by any significant statistical amount.

I’d like to think that there’s a discernable difference between real maple syrup and maple-flavoured table syrup but I don’t have much confidence I could tell the difference in a blind test.

Sugar is sugar…whether it’s refined from cane sugar in some factory in North Carolina or from boiling boiling forty gallons of sap down to one gallon of maple syrup in a quaint log cabin outside of Knowlton. And for all I know disreputable purveyors have been cutting the latter with the former for years and I have been none the wiser.

Posted on November 27, 2011 at 3:14 pm

Neil McKenty Says:
One thought. Agriculture and Agi-Food Canada and the Quebec maple syrup industry have developed a “flavour wheel” for maple products, adding descriptors such as clove, butter, or roasted dandelion root, which enables Canadians to develop a finer appreciation of pure maple syrup.

Posted on November 27, 2011 at 3:17 pm

Jim Says:
Table syrup is corn starch colored with caramel, and has never seen sap, except the sap who thinks it’s maple syrup. Why anyone thinks it’s maple, except for the colour, is beyond me. When I was knee high to a peephole I would chill the sap right out of the tree and drink it as I would a glass of water. That was a real thirst quencher. I must admit, however, that I drank more beer. The reason was that I could only knock off a few glasses of sap in a day, whereas with beer I could knock off 24 pints in a day. Isn’t it odd that we can knock off 24 beers in a day, but not the equivalent in milk or whatever.

Posted on November 27, 2011 at 4:14 pm

littlepatti Says:
I was surprised recently to find Quebec maple syrup in the USA for $3.99 in a maple leaf shaped bottle that sells for 7.99 here. I suggest that Canada is subsidizing Maple Syrup to that extent.
I use a sugar-free syrup, and very little because I like strawberries & whipped cream on my pancake or waffle.
I wouldn’t pass a taste test-
Years ago I shipped a case of syrup to clients in Florida. They had never tasted the real thing and I was the most popular person, for awhile.
I think that Canada should increase our exports.
There’s no point in more product protection.

Posted on November 28, 2011 at 8:21 am

Neil interviewed about John Main

January 26, 2017

Click below to hear Neil talking to Joe Cannon about In Stillness Dancing — the journey of John Main.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3 – sound quality not perfect for this part.

Part 4

MCKENTY: A MAN OF ALL SEASONS

January 25, 2017

 

 

As long as he could remember, Neil McKenty was interested in writing. A teacher in grade school gave him a key piece of advice: “Find something to write about.” And he did.

At 9, he won his first oratorical contest, no doubt helped by his mother, Irene, a talented teacher.

His father, Arthur, owned a hardware store in the small town of Hastings, Ontario.

At 15, Neil signed on as a stringer for the Peterborough Examiner whose editor was Robertson Davies. He covered village council meetings, sports events, accidents, runaway horses, lawn bowling and Sunday afternoon teas. He was paid 10 cents a column inch.

He and his cousin bought an old Dodge car for $30, patched the leaky gas tank with bubble gum and put a big sign marked PRESS on the windshield. He learned about politics, prices and world affairs while sitting with the farmers on bales of twine around the glowing pot-bellied stove in front of nail kegs in his dad’s hardware store.

While studying with the Jesuits, he got one a master’s degree in history and another in communications from the University of Michigan.

In 1967, his biography of controversial Ontario premier Mitch Hepburn won the centennial prize for best biography.

I met Neil on a Toronto dance floor in 1971. At the time, he was finishing a three-year stint with the Foster Foundation, working with the Kennedys and Brian O’Neill of the National Hockey League to bring the Special Olympics to Canada.

He was looking for a new challenge. He found it.

Two weeks after our honeymoon, we moved lock, stock and barrel to Montreal.

Neil did his first editorial at CJAD hardly knowing where Peel and Ste. Catherine were.

With one part-time paycheck and no car, we explored this fascinating city by bus in all kinds of weather.

One bitter January day, we were waiting on a street corner near the Botanical Garden.

We decided then and there you had to join the Montreal winter or freeze to death, so we bought skis for $49 a pair at Eaton’s and slithered around Angrignon Park.

A member of the Laurentian Lodge Ski Club took pity on us and the result was some memorable friendships, including Jackrabbit Johannsen, and a book, Skiing Legends and the Laurentian Lodge Club, which Neil turned into a best-seller.

By Catharine McKenty

For the Senior Times 2012