Parrywinkle, October 6, 2016

I seem to have been on a Shakespearean bent these past couple of columns, dear readers. But to quote The Bard again, “All the world's a stage. And all the men and women are merely players,” as penned in As You like It, Act II, Scene VII.

If that’s true, then the Whitlock Golf & Country Club in Hudson surely had a stellar setting and brilliant cast from throughout the region for its 24th annual fundraiser on Saturday night, October 1, to the pulsating beat of A Latin Affair that I attended with my beautiful Sunshine and had a real ball!

A smash hit, made even more enjoyable by our delightful Hudson Players Club table companions comprising Steve Walters, Phil & Diana Juliet Gausden, Esme Terry, Shelley Walters, Vic Pontecorvo, Elzabeth Harwood, and Chris Gobeil. And a fantastic fundraiser for our fabulous HVT!

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MEET MR. GENERAL HOSPITAL - Not sure if Shakespeare's works are still a big draw at the Hudson War Memorial Library on Elm Street, but while there this past week, taking out books and a couple of videos, I met a very exceptional person with an emotional story to tell.

His name is George Hine, he lives in St. Lazare, and for 28 years prior to his retirement he worked in housekeeping at the Montreal General Hospital (MGH) where he has volunteered in so many other capacities for the past 21, including Santa Claus, Happy The Clown, and being awarded the Governor General's Caring Ward in 2012, the first such merit awarded to a non-professional at the hospital.

Also, just four years ago, and now the driving force in his life, helping to launch the donated recycled book store in the hospital’s reception area with every cent raised going to help support patient care there.

As of this past week Monsieur George Hines - affectionately known to staff and patients alike at MGH - is now an outpatient at that very same hospital, having been diagnosed in July with aggressive prostate cancer and now making at least 20 visits for radiation treatment.

Not that this has stopped him from his monthly pick up of English language books from the War Memorial Library, as well as French books from the library in St. Lazare which he then drives and delivers himself into Montreal for sorting and selling by other volunteers.

Says George, “For sure, when I first heard the news, I was devastated. But then I came to realize that it's not going to stop me and it's not going to beat me. Because if I just give up collecting the books and helping the hospital shop, then cancer wins.

“It's hard to explain, but going back to the hospital for my treatment is like going home. I spent so many years there. And the people are my friends and like my second family. I really do believe that what goes around eventually comes around and that if you try to live a good life and care for others, then they in turn will care for you.”

Adds George, this couldn't be more true of his wife, Carolyn, and their two children, Joanna and Jeff, who he helped coach and support through so many sporting activities when they were younger including basketball, football, paddling, soccer and baseball in addition to being for many years a Cub-Beaver leader in the community.

Says George, just before heading off for the 90-minute drive into Montreal, “Volunteerism has always given me life. I'm a people person. I like to socialize. And volunteering at the MGH has given me the strength to go on. If I were to pass away tomorrow, I would still consider myself to be a very lucky person. I've lived a full life, surrounded by people I love.”

Truly, as I say readers, a very special person. And an inspiration for others who may be considering volunteering, perhaps for the first time, as a new chapter in their own lives. For as George says, “Volunteers are needed so badly for so many worthwhile causes. And in doing so, we not only help others, but also ourselves.”

Oof. Such an emotional but most positive interview folks. And God bless you George!

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FANTASTIC STORYFEST - Still on books, the Greenwood Centre for Living History at 254 Main Road in Hudson was delighted to open StoryFest 2016 this past Sunday, October 2, by welcoming a very special guest. Namely, award-winning author, Gail Anderson-Dargatz, upon this autumn’s release of her new novel, The Spawning Grounds. A family saga rooted in the Thompson-Shuswap region of British Columbia that further builds on the author having been described as 'Margaret Laurence meets Gabriel García Márquez' because of how it weaves rural Canadian lives with magical realism.

Published worldwide in many languages, her first novel, The Cure for Death by Lightning, was an international bestseller and finalist for the prestigious Giller Prize. Her second novel, A Recipe for Bees, was another best-selling Giller finalist.

Just two days later, on October 4, former Liberal Party strategist and Stephen Leacock Humour Award winning novelist Terry Fallis was on stage at Hudson Village Theatre. In novels such as The Best Laid Plans, Fallis plumbs the depths and scales of heights of political intrigue in Ottawa, a terrain he knows well having worked for Paul Martin and Michael Ignatieff, among other Liberal luminaries.

And tonight Thursday, October 6, StoryFest’s Poetry in Performance features two pre-eminent Canadian poets. Newfoundland’s Don McKay and Inuit poet Taqralik Partridge. Again at Hudson Village Theatre at 7:30 p.m.

The author of 12 books of poetry, McKay was made a Member of the Order of Canada in 2008 'for his contributions to Canadian literature as a nature poet and mentor of many emerging writers from coast to coast' and he twice won the Governor General’s Literary Award for Night Field and Another Gravity.

Spoken-word poet and throat-singer Partridge hails from northern Quebec and has performed throat-singing with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra (MSO). Featured as one of the emerging artists in CBC’s Next! series, her work focuses on Inuit experiences and relationships with the land.

Next Tuesday, October. 11, will see Saleema Nawaz, whose book Bone & Bread was a finalist in this year's Canada Reads contest, at HVT at 7:30 p.m. And on Thursday, October 13 - same place same time - John Farrow, a.k.a. Hudsonite Trevor Ferguson, whose latest release, Seven Days Dead, is attracting lots of attention will be centre stage.

Still lots more to come at StoryFest 2016 - what a wonderful initiative for our little town by the lake - and to reserve tickets or a festival pass, go to www.greenwoodstoryfest.com.

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PENNY FOR YOUR THOUGHTS - Meanwhile, I have to be honest, I have never read a book by best-selling Canadian and Montreal-based mystery author, Louise Penny, whose novels are set in the Province of Quebec and focus on the work of Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Québec. Millions of others have.

Including Your Local Journal readers, Céline & René Pilon, who recently drove out to Knowlton in the Eastern Townships for the pre-launch of her 12th and latest book in the series, A Great Reckoning.

Says Céline, who will forever treasure the signature on the book they bought, “She was such a very nice, warm, and generous person. We told her about Hudson's StoryFest and unofficially, of course, suggested that she might like to be part of it next year. She told us that, should she receive an invitation to do so, she would accept with great pleasure.”

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BRAGADOCIOUS BRAGGING - In closing, and back to the aforementioned Hudson Players Club and Shakespeare, what a hilarious hoot their Evening of Humorous Readings was at HVT on Friday, September 30. From the Bard to bondage to a new twist on Donald Trump's bragadociousness to bragging about the size of one's deck. Am still laughing!

And that's a wrap!

E-mail: creation@videotron.ca

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