Memoirs, Or Shadows Of What Has Been
By Peter Landry

Chapter Fifty-Four: Columbia, Iraq & Juan: 2003



The first startling piece of news was, on February 1st, at the conclusion of a Space Shuttle mission, the vehicle, Columbia, disintegrated during reentry over Texas, killing all seven astronauts on board. It was the second fatal accident, the first one was the Challenger which broke apart and killed seven, seconds after liftoff in 1986. By August of 2003, an official report came out showing that the cause of Columbia's breakup was because a compression or hole on the leading edge of the left wing. This defect was caused by a piece of the insulating foam coming away from one of the insulated fuel tanks strapped to Columbia's side. The piece hit the leading edge during the launch of the vehicle. After the Columbia disaster, the Space Shuttle program was put on hold for more than two years. This delayed the continuing construction of the Space Station. During this time the station was supplied (other than large building parts) by Russian craft.

The other piece of big international news that came was the second Iraq War. Some say that President Bush (son) was trying to finish what his father (the first President Bush) started and which he could have easily finished at the time. In 1991, the Allies stopped short of going all the way to Baghdad and take out Saddam Hussein and his regime. Hussein was left in place only to prove to be a continuing problem. But I believe that President Bush senior may have had it right. As, after the 2003 war when the Allies went all the way through Iraq leading to a the capture and death of Hussein, and a removal of his regime, problems soon evolved. The principal problem was that a vacuum was established and sectional fighting took place as other men decided they and their followers wanted power. As much as most of us do not like hard dictators, in marginal countries, it could be dictators work best. Maybe President Bush senior back in 1991 was right?

As for deaths in 2003: Gregory Peck American actor (b. 1916); Katharine Hepburn American actress (b. 1907); Bob Hope, comedian and actor (b. 1903); Art Carney American actor (b. 1918).

Margo and I made a change in celebrating New Year's Eve as 2003 come in. The family went off to celebrate at the Nova Scotian just two blocks from we live. The Nova Scotian is one of the older hotels in Halifax, the other is The Lord Nelson. Both of these hotels are in my memory as always existing: the Lord Nelson opened in 1927 and the Nova Scotian opened in 1930; both are in the grand-style which one does not normally see these days. The "kids" and their respective spouses rented rooms for the occasion; as for Margo and I, we walked the two blocks. I remember we all had a grand-time. I remember well the bunch of us singing out We Are Family with much feeling and gusto.

As we can see from Pictures Lisa & Marty bought a cottage, two over to the west of us; it was one of the older ones of the nine cottages between the lane and the lake shore on our particular section of Sherbrooke Lake. I had my doubts as to the wisdom of such a purchase. The main problem, it seemed to me, was that it had no inside facilities, just an outhouse off to the side. Even if one were to put in an on-site sewerage disposable system - the question is "where to put it." The lot was on a steep incline to the lake and the Municipal regulations were stiff. These doubts didn't last, as, during the next few years, Marty worked with the inspectors and a special system was designed and installed - problem, over. Also, as we will see, Marty and Lisa added a beautiful extension, but more of that in the chapters to come.

With the purchase of the cottage, and while they paid us a visit there on a couple of occasions, we did not see Roger and Paula Churchill as often as we did through the years. Though in 2003, the four of us took a hike for which we had long planned: the beautiful coastal trail system at Taylor Head Provincial Park on the Eastern Shore, with its pristine white sand beaches, rugged headlands and sweeping views of the Atlantic Ocean; all, on this particular piece undeveloped coastline in Nova Scotia. I produced a video of this, which I intend to put up - one of these days.

One more event that I must mention: that September Halifax got hit, dead-on, by a raging hurricane: Juan; the residents of Eastern Canada (primarily Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island) will long remember Hurricane Juan. This was an unusual event for the eastern coast of Canada. Hurricanes, feeding as they do on warm water form in the southwestern Atlantic and generally move westward with a slight tendency toward the north. Usually by the time they move into the cold north Atlantic waters, they settle down, though they can strike the Nova Scotain coast, but only as a wind storm. Somehow "Juan" managed to find a warm path and kept its hurricane proportions, and, as I have said, struck Halifax pretty much directly out of the east. Wharves and small boats were tossed up onto the shore like small toys; trees all over Halifax were uprooted.

As for the top songs for 2003, a feature I will be dropping: More Rap & Bubble Gum of which I have previously expressed my dislike: there is nothing in 2003 in the way of popular songs worth writing about.

As for the top movies of 2003:
Finding Nemo. This is a computer-animated adventure film produced by Pixar and released by Disney. The story tells of a clown-fish (Marlin) who, with another fish (Dory), search for Marlin's abducted son through the oceans experiencing the risks and adventures that follow along. Finding Nemo won an Academy Award for Best Animated Film. "Finding Nemo was the highest-grossing animated movie of all time until being overtaken by Shrek 2 in 2004. It is currently the ninth highest-grossing animated film after its 3D release and the 43rd highest-grossing film of all time." (Wikipedia)
Bruce Almighty. Of course, if you like Jim Carrey, you are bound to like this movie. Bruce (Jim Carrey) is a rejected field reporter for a television station. He gets fired and blames the matter on God (Morgan Freeman), who takes time out to pay Bruce a visit. God is of the view that things might work out if Bruce should have Godly powers - the movie then turns to being a very funny one.
Lost in Translation. The main feature in this movie is it stars Bill Murray. He plays an aging actor picking up some work in Japan. Lost in Translation won Best Screenplay, Original at the Academy Awards.
Cold Mountain. The production tells the story coming out of the American Civil War (circa, 1864). A wounded deserter from the Confederate army travels back to his southern home to the woman he loves. Starring Jude Law, Nicole Kidman, Renée Zellweger, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Natalie Portman, it won an Academy Award for Zellweger as Best Supporting Actress.
The Barbarian Invasions. The work concerns itself with a "womanizing history professor" who becomes terminally ill with cancer. I am not sure that this work would be everybodys "Cup of Tea." (It was, it is to be noted, a Canadian Production.) It won Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards.

Ravel's Bolero by the Russian, Valery Gergiev conducting the London Symphony Orchestra.

[Pictures, 2003 (1) (New Year's & Taylor Head)]
[Pictures, 2003 (2) (I - Cottage)]
[Pictures, 2003 (3) (II - Cottage)]
[Pictures, 2003 (4) (Brothers & Sister)]

NEXT: [Chapter 55: A Winter Storm & A Reunion, 2004]


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Peter Landry