Opening Statement



Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Ye TSU Olde Stone Cottage Pub


Thursday:

I awoke an hour early this morning, lying in the dark, thinking of all the things I needed to do today, school, union, home. I nodded off again til the alarm went off. It was still dark. After breakfast Janet and I kissed good bye and went our separate ways to work. Driving along Sheppard and up the backstreets to JCM, I'm listening to some Blue Note jazz, "Jean Luc Ponty Plays the Music of Frank Zappa" on the car stereo. Funky in it's own way but still won't they ever end, these seemingly endless winter days?

Yes they will. Today is a moment in time. It's mid February and we are off to the annual TSU Teachers Pub at the Olde Stone Cottage in Scarborough. I admit, I got lost. I was born in Toronto. I've lived in Toronto all my life, but in the west end. When I cross Yonge Street, anywhere north or south of the crosstown highway 401, I might as well be on Mars.

No matter. The pub is hopping when I arrive. The waitress is bringing out huge plates of wings, and fries. I get my drink. There's our TSU east end crowd. Our teacher pubs are a pretty good way to end a school day, begin another school night, and try to beat the winter blahs. Only tomorrow is a PD day. This is the long Family Day weekend in Ontario. Without students it's all but a four day weekend, as far as teaching goes. That's very timely. Second semester classes are up and running. Marks are in. It's real busy now but March break isn't too far off, just far enough, for a good excuse to toss back a drink or two with my teacher colleagues and friends.

Once again our Social Committee is hosting a simply great member event. We sign in and get our two complimentary drink tickets. I toss my trench coat and hat over a chair and get down to some much needed good times free of care. There's Angie who's teaching Math with us at McGuigan now. Helene and Raphael our Beginning Teacher chair and staff rep arrive from St. Mikes. Antonella's here from Fraser. There's lots of teachers from our east end schools; Pope John Paul 2, Blessed Mother Theresa, Fraser; Neil, St. Pats, and Newman; the teacher canon of Catholic saints. Everyone's sitting back and stretching out as the sun sets and another long winter night settles upon us.

I am pleasantly surprised how many of you recognised me from this blog. Joe from Chaminade says he's read me, seen my picture and knew me right away. I am honoured. Ottavio and I discuss the political scene. Craig and the Johnson crowd wave hello. Craig put in many long hours for Beginning Teachers. Hey, here's a volleyball tip for anybody who's reading. Yes it's almost time again. Yes, the date had to be rolled back to book the PJ2 gym for a Friday night. April 20th sounds right, if I were to tell you about it here. Please keep practicing and wait for the official announcement.

Our executive show up. President Jansen answers member questions by the bar. Second Vice President Bruno and I find Counsellor Szollosy meeting and greeting folks by the pool tables, and sit down for some teacher union talk, jokes and good cheer. Answer some member inquiries. Frank knows his Bill 168 Teacher Health and Safety act very well. Counsellor Martelli takes care of our member's questions in the main bar as everyone enjoys the evening. Perhaps there's a hint of detente in the cozy bar as our post Christmas exec clicks into gear to wrap up the tasks at hand, and consider what is to be done, to further help our members. The planning begins for next year.

It's pub night but of course there's lots of teacher talk and questions, a lot of speculation on the upcoming contract talks and the Drummond Report pior to the Ontario March budget. Come spring and the provincial political scene will be heating up too with Harris like whiffs of education cuts to come, especially if Tim Hudak's Conservatives can sway public opinion their way. But tonight the conversation is light, less serious.

February is the shortest month, yet it can seem to drag on forever. Come March the winter freeze will start to lift. From there the days will quickly speed up with the summer vacation approaching fast. There are classes, marks, TSU committees, the Annual General Meetings and a unit election to wrap up first. All this and more, but I don't want to wish my life away, daydreaming about summer too much, as tempting as that can be.

As I leave to warm up my car, Ms. Oakley shouts out the directions home. Thanks Theresa! I turn on the stereo, and pull out on the street for a quick trip across the top of the city back home in the west end. It's just been a generally all around nice day, despite everything that the deep of winter brings. As the lights of the Olde Stone Cottage disappear in my rear view mirror, I can't help but sigh and admit to myself that winter or not, life is pretty good.

For more stories about Yonge St. Toronto see my July Blog Archive below...

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