Hard-Won Happiness

Doctors

I was just thinking about how it doesn’t feel much like Easter. When I woke up this morning, some dry snowflakes were drifting down from the lead-grey sky, and that felt about right.

It’s been a mixed time in my life. I myself, this being, am just fine. I’m healthy, occupied enough, and enjoying my at-home activities. In my larger life, though, folks have been ill and dying around me. Not because of the COVID-19 pandemic, mind you. Their illnesses and passing merely coincide with the world’s other difficulties. And so I’m a bit heavyhearted right now. But, on the other hand, I’m so grateful to be well and to be able to give my love and support to those whose suffering is much more close-up than mine.

As always and as with most humans, I’m learning that I can feel a whole bunch of emotions at once and that these feelings can range from glowingly positive to downright negative. And I can experience them nearly simultaneously. Still, I don’t mind experiencing how I feel. I just wish sometimes the emotions would settle down a bit, be a little steadier. But wouldn’t we all?

Piranhas

My Twitter friend Donna shared these images the other day and I’ve been wildly re-sharing because nothing puts a global pandemic in perspective better than humour does!

Well, folks, that’s about all I’ve got to say about that. Please take care, and if you’re celebrating within your religious tradition these weekend, enjoy. It will be different, I know, with physical distancing in place, but this obstacle can perhaps make your joy and connectedness feel more special because, this year, it’s hard won.

Wishing you all the best,

Lori

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

St. Patrick

Hello everyone! Here’s a St. Paddy’s Day repost. I hope it makes you smile. (I love the song by Rawlins Cross posted at the end.)

Take care of yourselves and each other. – Lori

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! This day always reminds me of when I taught Grade 3 at St. Patrick’s School in Grande Prairie, Alberta. It was big celebration and, at night, there was at least one Celtic band playing somewhere in town. That was in the late 1990s when Celtic music blended with rock was popular. We’d go out and drink and dance and be happy that, maybe, just maybe, spring might come to that bleak northern landscape. I loved those days.

This St. Paddy’s Day, I’m celebrating again, although this time there’s no drinking and dancing (but the day is young…). I’m rejoicing because my nine-week full-time temporary teaching contract is done.

Challenging and Humbling

This teaching stint was a challenging and often humbling experience. Funny, I thought I knew something about being an educator and then I tackled that same job within a completely new context. I soon found out that in teaching, there’s always something to learn, and those students were my best teachers. I tripped and fell every day, and I staggered to my feet and kept on going.

I taught every grade in the school and I worked one-on-one with a number of students, too. It was busy and varied. I had to switch mental gears constantly to interact with the different ages and abilities of all the students. No wonder I’m exhausted! It was a very worthwhile assignment and this old dog learned a lot of new tricks. So I guess that saying flies out the window, at least in my case.

Fleeing Facebook

During this time, I left Facebook. As you likely know, I’d been considering this for a while for a whole bunch of good reasons. The reason that finally caused me to leave was a message I received criticizing my actions in the classroom. It was three o’clock in the morning and I was having trouble sleeping because of the very challenging day I’d had previously. Stupidly, I opened Facebook on my tablet and found the message. Stupidly, I read it. I felt like I’d been kicked in the stomach.

Celtic Shamrock

On Facebook, there was always someone to let me know when I failed in case I missed it. I hadn’t missed it, of course, but there’s pleasure for some in pointing out others’ shortcomings. It’s a sweet treat to correct and criticize, to feel that moral high ground beneath one’s feet. I’m sure I’ve felt that solid footing once or twice myself, that firm certainty.

Keep on posting, peon!

Because I posted frequently, and had several friends and followers, Facebook would automatically nag me each day with notifications reminding me to keep creating content for the company: 1073 people that like Lori Knutson haven’t heard from you in a while. And yet, when I left Facebook, I did not receive 1073 concerned phone calls or emails. I guess my posts weren’t as urgently needed as Facebook thought.

St Patrick and MedusaI do miss a lot of my friendly interactions on Facebook and I do feel a bit disconnected. On the other hand, my mind is clearer and I feel less distracted, less jittery. There used to be an anxious social media knot in my stomach. When I’d relax for a moment with a cup of tea and a book, I felt like I should be posting, should be “liking” and clicking. Now the knot is gone. While I miss some friends, I don’t miss Facebook. I feel like I’ve taken back a part of myself that I’d given too freely, and that feels good.

Have a happy Sunday, dear readers, and please consider following my WordPress blog. I’d really like to keep in touch and this is a good way to do it! And if you’d like to help me get around Facebook, please share my posts on that forum. Facebook still remains one of the best ways to promote content and sell a lawnmower.

Take good care and spread a little sunshine. This rock’n’roll song with bagpipes is too awesome not to share! Take a listen in Canada’s own Rawlins Cross.

~ Lori

Resolve If You Want To

 

Bluejay
A bluejay in my backyard.

Hi there! Here’s my post from last New Year’s. I still don’t make resolutions for the same reason I’ve never made resolutions: I can’t stand letting myself down. That being said, I’ve been making small, beneficial changes. These decisions seemed to have been spurred on by my aging. I feel fantastic, healthy, and positive. I also feel every building block in my body shifting and changing. If you’re lucky enough to live this long, that’s life!

I’ve recently made three small changes to my health and hygene routine.

A Tasty Calcium Supplement

Some small changesI used to try  (usually unsuccessfully) to take these calcium tablets, 600 mg horse pills. Taking a whole one bothered my stomach and I don’t even think I could absorb that amount of calcium all at once. So I cut the monsterous tablets in half which created jagged edges that sliced my esophagus as the tablet slowly clawed its way down my throat like an angry cat. To avoid this, I stopped taking a calcium supplement altogether. At my age, not awesome.

Recently, I treated myself to fruit-flavoured calcium gummies. It’s been a small, pleasant change I wish I’d made years ago!

Apple Cider Vinegar

All the health gurus swear by apple cider vinegar so I’ve been adding two tablespoons of it to my diet ginger ale. I like it! And it may just be a placebo effect, but my fat little belly seems to have shrunk a little since I adopted this habit. Another simple change that seems to have had a positive result.

OralB CrossAction Battery Toothbrush

This is another positive habit I’ve been meaning to re-adopt for years. I used to brush with a battery-operated brush, but they are more expensive and require more maintenance. But then two days ago, I resurrected one I still had kicking around from before. I cleaned in up and replaced the battery. Holy crow! My back teeth haven’t felt this clean in a long time. I’m so glad I finally made this small change I’d been thinking of forever.

Flannery O’Connor

A Good Man is Hard to FindFlannery O’Connor’s an author I’ve wanted to read for years and so this morning I ordered a copy of her short story collection A Good Man is Hard to Find (1955). I read a bit about her, too, as I searched for her works. She was born in Savannah, Georgia in 1925. I’ve actually seen her childhood home there. In her late 20s, she became ill with a disease closely related to the one that eventually killed my mom. Flannery O’Connor lived with this form of lupus for twelve years and died in 1964 at 39 years old.

Again, this change isn’t a resolution and it doesn’t require much self-discipline. Nor does it require any suffering. It’s just a gift I want to give myself in 2020. Are there any small changes you’d like to make as a gift to yourself this new year?

I don’t bother with New Year’s resolutions. There are so many wonderful and varied ways to set myself up for failure that I don’t need to add New Year’s resolutions to the pile.

Perhaps some of you have benefited from New Year’s resolutions. Maybe these made-to-self promises have allowed you to set and achieve goals that were otherwise out of reach. I haven’t met many people for whom resolutions have worked. Instead, I’m acquainted with the circle of folks who are kicking themselves because they couldn’t adhere to the resolutions they’d made. These are the people I know and to whom I can best relate.

Listen to me read this post:

The disillusioned and disappointed are familiar to me. Those who vowed to lose ten pounds and gained five, those who use our exercise equipment as a place to hang and dry laundry, those who stopped drinking after midnight on January first and got back on that old alcohol horse around seven p.m. on January third. These are the people I understand.

Not that I’m in any way against you who succeed in making and sticking to New Year’s resolutions. I’m not against you or elves or the Easter Bunny. I’m sure if I met any of you, we’d get along just fine. So far, though, I haven’t had the opportunity to meet any of these.

Willow and Setting Sun
A willow tree at sunset.

To resolve means to decide firmly on a course of action. This is just dandy except that factors all around us and that affect us are in a constant state of flux. Nothing stays the same, and there’s a whole ton of things we can’t control or predict that can alter our direction. We can decide as firmly as we like on a course of action, but we can’t control the wind or the waves. We can’t control the rain or the lightning. We can’t control when illnesses and accidents will knock on our doors.

To resolve also means to fix or to find a solution to a problem. But as human beings, we aren’t problems to be fixed or solved; we are meant to be. That’s the point of our existence, and not some imagined and ethereal state of perfection. We are meant to live, to experience, and to discover. We are meant to change, to learn, and to grow.

Sure, we can head in a direction, plot a course. Sometimes we’ll get to our destination and sometimes we’ll thank our lucky stars that we didn’t end up where we were headed. Sometimes our road will be paved, and other times it’ll be rocky and rough. Sometimes the road will seem impassable and still other times we’ll wonder where the road went. “It was here a minute ago…”

Late Afternoon
Late afternoon sun across a pasture.

Don’t let me stop you. If making a New Year’s resolution motivates you or lifts your spirits or gives you a little something to look forward to, then go ahead.

But before you make a promise to yourself, promise me that you’ll forgive yourself when the winds of change shift your direction and when the road becomes impassable. Promise me that you’ll remember your ever-changing nature, and that you’ll try to accept your humanness. Tell me that you won’t let today’s fresh opportunity pass you by because of some rusty old resolution.

Resolve if you want to, but before you resolve to improve, consider that maybe you are just fine the way you are.

Did you like what you read and heard here? Consider following this blog through your email account or right here on WordPress. Thanks for spending some time with me. Wishing you all good things to come in 2020! ~ Lori

I think I could safely resolve to listen to more Jimmy Buffett this year . . .

 

 

The Gift of Home

As I’m re-reading this post from a couple of years ago, I realize that I’ve lived here now for as long as I lived in the house I grew up in. It’s been 14 years since we moved here and nearly 15 years since I purchased Grandma’s house in Hughenden.

After all these years, I’m still happy to live here in this house. Lots has changed in my life and in this house, but that’s how it goes, isn’t it? Just recently I’ve started thinking that I could let go of this place and be happy anywhere.

Take care and thanks for reading!  ~ Lori

Listen to me read this post:

Decorated
Christmas decorations.

This is my 12th Christmas season spent living in Grandma’s house. In March of 2005 – 9 years after her passing – I had the opportunity to buy this rundown little bungalow and make it new again.

My grandparents, my dad’s folks, built this place the year after I was born. They moved into town after selling their farm. Grandma lived here 28 years before she died and thanks to the loving people that cared for her, she was able to live here until her brief hospital stay prior to her death.

I remember Christmases here surrounded by these same walls and by people I loved. On Christmas Eve, the tradition was for us kids to open one specially-selected gift. This gift was always the homemade pajamas that Grandma had spent the autumn sewing in the same basement where I now watch the flat screen TV from my elliptical trainer.Lori Lake LouiseThis house isn’t large. It’s only about 900 hundred square feet, but in those days, you could cram a lot of overnight and supper guests into it. We weren’t as worried about impressing, but instead the emphasis was on being together all in one place and under one roof, this roof.

This house remains although some of the people are gone now from us. And like the people who remain, the house is older, a little creakier, but just as familiar. Together this house and I hold the memories of days and people past. As long as this house and I are here, so are they.

I’ve learned that over a decade spent in any one place can give a really clear picture of the impermanence of everything and everyone. Since coming to this community, I’ve grown to love its people and I’ve attended some of their funerals. I’ve shared meals and drinks and photos and chores. I’ve given gifts to new parents and then I had the chance to teach those children who didn’t yet exist when I first arrived here.

From Grandma’s house, I’ve watched the years move by more closely, more clearly than they would’ve moved by anywhere else. Here, the years are thick with memories, dripping with history, and sweet with sentiment.  To live on this ever-moving continuum for this part of my life has been a gift. This Christmas season and after 12 years, this house in this place and time still feels like this best present I’ve ever received.

Heavy with frost.
Christmastime branches heavy with frost.

 

Three Unconventional Things I’m Thankful For

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An autumn road around here.

It was so funny glancing over this post I wrote last year. It’s funny because I think I’ve changed so much and I’m experiencing a whole bunch of new things. And yet, as I read this, I realized that I’m pretty much the same as I was last year when I wrote this! I’m still contemplating work and aging and the benefits of mean people. There’s less new than I thought.

When it comes to pain, though, I have much less since we now have a little hot tub out on our deck. This has changed everything! If you have minor aches and pains, and enjoy soaking in a hot tub, check out this reasonably-priced, resin tub from Costco. If I can set it up and maintain it, you can!

As Canadian Thanksgiving approaches, I’ve been thinking about the things that bug the heck out of me. This brooding gets pretty old pretty fast. So I thought about how I could turn these irritants into little nuggets of golden gratefulness. I came up with these three unconventional things to be thankful for.

Mean, Miserable People

 What is there to be thankful for in the mean words and cutting actions of others? I mean, they’re irritating, right? But these folks in their meanness and miserableness remind me of the times when I’ve been mean and miserable. I get ready to either mount my high horse or play the victim, and then I take a long look in the mirror. Oh yeah, I’ve been that person! I will try not to be that person, but the chances are very good that I will be either mean or miserable or both again, and probably it will be soon.

Listen to me read this post:

Mean people (or more accurately mean actions) also remind me of the power and the importance of love and kindness. Cruelty is so easily destructive and sharp criticism can build walls of mistrust and misunderstanding. Love alone can tear those barriers down.

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Leaves withering – just like I am!

Getting Older

How can I be grateful for my rapidly disappearing life and my deteriorating body? Well, getting older sure beats being dead. For some reason, each morning when I wake up and each night before I fall asleep, I think about how old I am. For a long time, I’ve identified myself by my age and judged my success or failure in life by what I have or haven’t accomplished by certain ages. It’s true and it’s stupid. I’m sick of primarily thinking of myself as a person of a certain age. I don’t want to worry about it anymore. I’m tired of judging myself.

Lately I’ve recognized all the great gifts that aging has given me. I love my more peaceful life. When I was a youth, I remember always needing to have music on or needing to be in conversation with someone. I bathed my brain in racket. Nowadays, I spend a lot of time alone and in silence. Nowadays, I bathe my mind in quiet.

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Not dead yet.

I love the patience I’ve fostered over the years. Without the passing of time, I could’ve never become so patient. I used to push myself so hard, to do this and to do that. And now I work slowly and steadily and with no hope of an outcome. I always get somewhere working this way just as surely as I would by pressuring myself with goals I may never achieve. For me, this steady pace is one of the best things about being older.

Pain

Yes, with aging have come aches and pains. That’s how it goes. What is there about pain to make me feel thankful? It’s kind of like the old joke:

Why are you banging your head against that wall?

Because it feels so good when I stop.

Those pain-free moments are blissful. Pain also reminds me of all the miles I’ve walked and all those years I’ve had the opportunity to be active. I didn’t have a physical disability or disease that kept me from moving. Thank goodness because I really enjoy activity. Because of this, my hips and knees are wearing out, but I’m confident I’ve got quite a few miles left in them yet.

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Autumn colour.

Perception is My Choice

This October and at this age, I can focus on the mean words of others and use that as my excuse to be cruel and angry, too. Or I can remember to be kind and to change the world that way.

As another fall sets in, I can choose to feel down about my aging body or, instead, I can feel grateful that I’m as healthy and active as I am.

When pain comes to visit, I can curse it and wish that I had no pain at all or I can choose to remember that this mild pain means that I’ve moved and I’ve lived and that I am still gratefully alive. Happy Thanksgiving!

 Below I’ve posted some recent autumnal photos from our fall travels. Thanks for reading and listening. If you like this post, share it on Facebook. You can’t believe how many more people read it when you do that. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving! ~ Lori

Flowers in the Ditch, Clouds in the Sky

This summer I’m relaxed and happy, and there’s beauty all around. Sure, there’s some clutter in my mind and a few things weighing me down, but all in all, I’m lighter and freer than I’ve been for years. I’ll take it!

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Happy Canada Day Weekend!

My age_ If I were wine, you couldn't afford me.Hello everybody! I hope you have a great weekend and if you’re Canadian, enjoy our long weekend. Let’s hope for sunshiney weather and a chance to play and relax.

If you ever want to calculate my age, it’s easy! I was a Centennial baby so our great nation is always 100 years older than me.

The guys are continuing work on our big deck project today. I’m glad because it rained a lot yesterday and early this morning. I was happy to see them lugging their tools through my back garden gate.

If you haven’t seen this video, take a listen. It’s funny and really cute and not spectacularly accurate. I like it!

Cheers!

~ Lori

 

 

Sweet Peas and Optimism

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Last year’s vibrant sweet peas.

Hello! Yesterday was our first really warm day with the temperature sneaking up close to 20° Celsius. That’s all the encouragement the leaves on the trees needed. They were reluctant in the howling wind and 4° temperatures to pop out, but today in the warm wind, they all decided to take a chance and come on out. When I walked today, the first thing I noticed were those light green leaves, the colour of optimism.

If hope has a feel to it, that feeling was definitely in the air this morning. Last night, I soaked two kinds of sweet pea seeds. One type was what I planted last year and whose seeds I harvested last fall. These will produce very brightly-coloured smaller flowers. The other variety will produce large lightly-coloured blooms in softer pastel shades. These seeds I purchased late in the winter from T&T Seeds. If you’re a gardener and haven’t yet seen their catalogue, it’s fun to explore!

Beautiful
A sweet pea bloom after the rain.

This afternoon, I’ll work up the soil one more time and plant those sweet peas now that the earth is warm. I’m very fortunate to have a gardening companion these days. He was with me last gardening season, too. Dear readers, I’m pleased to introduce George. No, he’s not my cat, but he would happily call our house home. He has nothing against his current owners. Having two homes would mean twice as much attention and twice as much food. George knows this and I can tell this is his plan. It’s not going to happen, George.

 

I wish you a very happy spring day and some of the optimism that goes along with it. Have a great weekend and a happy Mother’s Day!

~ Lori

 

The Miracle of Resurrection

TwoCrocuses

Yesterday morning and the evening before, I went for a walk and brought my camera with me so that I could share with you the miracle of resurrection here in the parkland region of east-central Alberta.

Listen to me read this post:

Crocuses Galore!

Crocus2April2019
A crocus on Crocus Hill.

I didn’t even notice them at first, and I sure wasn’t looking for them because there’s never been this abundance of crocuses in the thirteen years we’ve lived here. Then, as I walked along, I glanced to my left and into the unbroken pasture there on the other side of the barbed wire fence. The brown prairie grass was dotted with the little purple flowers. It was spattered with those and lots of cow poop which may have contributed to the successful crop of crocuses. I don’t know what the perfect growing conditions for this early prairie flower are, but this April those tiny, fuzzy flowers must be getting exactly what they need.

 

Earlier on in the week, my auntie and I drove south and visited Crocus Hill. Over the years, she’d talked about the place where the prairie soil had never been tilled, and where crocuses grew amid the ancient stones of the tipi rings there along the valley. I’d never been there before and was so fortunate to see it during a spring like this one. There were flowers everywhere, but they grew especially thick on the southern-exposed hillsides.

Spring Courting

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Who wouldn’t want to mate with this guy?

A robin’s song is never so sweet as when he is looking for a mate. I guess those birds are like the rest of us when we’re seeking someone to pair up with. We work out, get our hair cut, buy some new clothes, and try to look our best. After the mate’s been secured, well, our beauty regimen can go in any direction. Often, though not always, that direction is down.

The robin’s song as he sat perched at the very top of the tree was clear and enticing. I spotted him up there last evening, trilling away, but I didn’t have my camera. That morning I couldn’t see the robin through the branches, but I got some very good recordings of his mating song.

Frogs are the same way, singing their loudest song and hoping to attract other frogs. I didn’t see any of those amorous little guys either but I captured their voices.

New Life

The earth is resilient. We beat it up and dominate it, but it just keeps on keeping on. Along the road I walked, green grasses pushed their stubborn way up through the already-dry earth and the layer of last year’s dead grass that covers it. Here and there a gopher popped up, too. There are fewer gophers this season. Last year, the deep snow didn’t melt until the beginning of May. Maybe litters of baby gophers didn’t survive and if they did, the increased numbers of birds of prey in this area were happy to eat them. Still, I’ve seen a couple of gophers here and there this spring. They are more evidence for the miracle of resurrection.

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This old barn from along the road I walk will likely never be resurrected.

 

I hope you all had a nice weekend. If you celebrate Easter, I hope it was a rejuvenating and uplifting holiday for you this time around.

Thanks for dropping by to read and listen. Please consider following me here on WordPress. I’m on social media less and less these days but would love to keep in touch. Follow me here if you’d like to stay connected. Also, please consider sharing this post to your own social media feed. That would be great! You can share my videos too.

Take care and enjoy the miracle of resurrection that spring brings!

~ Lori

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

St. PatrickHappy St. Patrick’s Day! This day always reminds me of when I taught Grade 3 at St. Patrick’s School in Grande Prairie, Alberta. It was big celebration and, at night, there was at least one Celtic band playing somewhere in town. That was in the late 1990s when Celtic music blended with rock was popular. We’d go out and drink and dance and be happy that, maybe, just maybe, spring might come to that bleak northern landscape. I loved those days.

This St. Paddy’s Day, I’m celebrating again, although this time there’s no drinking and dancing (but the day is young…). I’m rejoicing because my nine-week full-time temporary teaching contract is done.

Challenging and Humbling

This teaching stint was a challenging and often humbling experience. Funny, I thought I knew something about being an educator and then I tackled that same job within a completely new context. I soon found out that in teaching, there’s always something to learn, and those students were my best teachers. I tripped and fell every day, and I staggered to my feet and kept on going.

I taught every grade in the school and I worked one-on-one with a number of students, too. It was busy and varied. I had to switch mental gears constantly to interact with the different ages and abilities of all the students. No wonder I’m exhausted! It was a very worthwhile assignment and this old dog learned a lot of new tricks. So I guess that saying flies out the window, at least in my case.

Fleeing Facebook

During this time, I left Facebook. As you likely know, I’d been considering this for a while for a whole bunch of good reasons. The reason that finally caused me to leave was a message I received criticizing my actions in the classroom. It was three o’clock in the morning and I was having trouble sleeping because of the very challenging day I’d had previously. Stupidly, I opened Facebook on my tablet and found the message. Stupidly, I read it. I felt like I’d been kicked in the stomach.

Celtic Shamrock

On Facebook, there was always someone to let me know when I failed in case I missed it. I hadn’t missed it, of course, but there’s pleasure for some in pointing out others’ shortcomings. It’s a sweet treat to correct and criticize, to feel that moral high ground beneath one’s feet. I’m sure I’ve felt that solid footing once or twice myself, that firm certainty.

Keep on posting, peon!

Because I posted frequently, and had several friends and followers, Facebook would automatically nag me each day with notifications reminding me to keep creating content for the company: 1073 people that like Lori Knutson haven’t heard from you in a while. And yet, when I left Facebook, I did not receive 1073 concerned phone calls or emails. I guess my posts weren’t as urgently needed as Facebook thought.

St Patrick and MedusaI do miss a lot of my friendly interactions on Facebook and I do feel a bit disconnected. On the other hand, my mind is clearer and I feel less distracted, less jittery. There used to be an anxious social media knot in my stomach. When I’d relax for a moment with a cup of tea and a book, I felt like I should be posting, should be “liking” and clicking. Now the knot is gone. While I miss some friends, I don’t miss Facebook. I feel like I’ve taken back a part of myself that I’d given too freely, and that feels good.

Have a happy Sunday, dear readers, and please consider following my WordPress blog. I’d really like to keep in touch and this is a good way to do it! And if you’d like to help me get around Facebook, please share my posts on that forum. Facebook still remains one of the best ways to promote content and sell a lawnmower.

Take good care and spread a little sunshine. This rock’n’roll song with bagpipes is too awesome not to share! Take a listen in Canada’s own Rawlins Cross.

~ Lori