Tuesday, April 26, 2016


A few events over the weekend....

Our local labour council organized a Day of Mourning celebration.  The official day to recognize workers who have been killed or injured on the job is April 28th, we seem to do it on a Sunday close to that day.  There were a few guest speakers, some worker representatives from the community, management reps from the mine in Goderich, a bag piper, and just regular people who care to remember....  There is always a speech that is current and up-to-date.  Nary a day goes by in Canada without a worker being killed at work, and it is such a current issue as well.

After that, Molly and I, as well as the neighbour, headed over to the arena in Goderich where the most famous Winnipegarian musician was performing; Fred Penner...  He had all the classics happening like Wheels on the Bus, This Land is Your Land, Skineraminky Dinky Dink, Itsy Bitsy Spider, and all those classics from yesteryear...  The girls where there usual cheery self = best of friends and better enemies.  They love, then hate each other...  So we went together, but they couldn't decide where to sit and who to sit beside.  There was crying and screaming....  Afterwards we went for ice cream and everything seemed fine.  We all got back home and the girls went upstairs to play.  And then the neighbour left and went home.

2hrs after, just putting Molly to bed, there was (washable) marker all over, all bloody over Molly's floor.  The hardwood was scribbled on and marked as two complete donkeys would do.  A few expletives from me, some Spray 9 and paper towels, and it was cleaned up...  However what really got me was that neither kid said anything.  It won't be the last time the two of them get into mischief.  Donkeys - the two of them.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Nicer Weather

With real nice weather, lawn furniture migrated outside, the snowblower moved out to the farm, and generally redundant or useless household items got sorted to be disposed of.  The weekend marked a great opportunity to do those things, and just be outside and enjoy how pleasant it is out.

I got ripping out on the bike with my buddy Drew Anderson.  We started at his place, and went a whopping 6 km into Port Albert to the fish ladder.  The conservation authority was collecting the eggs and sperm from the fish swimming upstream to be fertilized artificially, then released back into nature at the appropriate time.  There was quite the gathering of people watching.  40 or 50 anyway.  It is kind of weird that so many want to watch this "milking" of sorts = but it is all for an educational and resourceful cause.  I didn't get any pictures, although many people were snapping away.  We then hopped back on the bikes, zoomed over to Clinton for a milkshake, then into Goderich.  It was a great day indeed.

Today we loaded up and traveled north into southern Bruce county.  We had a nature walk around Shelly's 1/6 ownership of 117 acres better known as "The Airport".  We were checking out how the fish ponds were doing and had a general inspection of the farm - but didn't get close to walking the entire perimetre.  We hit about a mile loop which is just long enough with Wally.  We didn't see too much - 1 measly fish, and heard a number of partridge.  The farm is in fine condition and we have some rough plans to fashion together a dock to fish of off..... 
Molly and Wally are absolutely zonked this Sunday night - In bed and out cold before 7:00pm.  Molly had some much fresh air this weekend, a sleep over, and just a huge amount of play with her cousins.  Same, but different for Wally.  He is just tired from running around more and being more active on his feet.  Lately the kids have been up early-ish in the morning, but we can usually hold'em tight in their rooms until seven before they get released for the day.

I am continually enjoying and appreciating this time off from work.  I can't say enough about how fantastic it is.  To me, it is worth it.  Looking forward, both Shelly and I signed up for another leave.  It is a two and a half over 3 years.  It will get us out of school in February of 2019 until September 2019.  The one good reason for this timing is, it is the half year before Wally starts junior kindergarten.  He'll already be 4, we can pull him out of the municipal day care he'll be attending, and we can do whatever and whenever before he goes to school. That is a long way away, however it is something to look forward too.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Covered Up

I am great at disassembling and tearing down, but when it comes time to putting things together, fixing, troubleshooting, and the like, I am absolutely terrible.  I have no worthy tools for any such job, nor do I have any skill.  I do have inclination though - and that is scary because I have no tools or skills.  However with a brave and steadfast mindset I tackled a project that proclaimed "no drilling", "easy to install", and "mounts to existing hardware".  Seemingly nothing should or could go wrong.

About 1 month ago I bought a new truck.  There isn't really a story here, I had great fortune with the 04 Tacoma.  It took me across Canada, all around Ontario, it moved 6000 plus tires and tonnes of scrap steel.  It was a great vehicle for the years I had it.  However the truck was in a bit of a transition of needing a few new parts and having a few minor creeks and squeaks, so I found this time to be a good opportunity to start new.  Long and short is I got a new 4 door Tacoma.  It is very well equipped with 4 doors, 2 extra from the old one, 6 speed manual, and white.  It has all those 2016 fancy dashboard and steering wheel button controlled gadgets, which I haven't really got into, and it is really nice in my opinion.  So I am more then satisfied.

I had a topper on my old truck, but in this one I thought I would start with a roll up cover to see how it fairs.  Today was the installation day with the promises mentioned in the first paragraph.  All in all it went well.  I had a bit of a struggle clipping some pieces together, but the bar was upside down.  Flip.  And viola.  The instructions were quite clear - The online video helped, but the physical instructions were more helpful to me.  I feel as if I am a way better visual learner, but in this case the job was completed because of the physical instructions. 
It is a great weather day - I even thought about washing the truck, so I turned on the tap in the basement to engage the outside faucet, and wouldn't you know, but there was a huge crack in my outside water line.  Should I get my hammer and go at the broken pipe?  I don't think so.  One repair a day is good enough for me.  Besides I don't think a hammer is going to fix this problem anyway.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Big Brothers & Big Sisters Bowling

For the past 4 years, colleagues and I at work support the Huron and Bruce County Big Brother and Big Sister Bowl-A-Thon.  One of the directors of the organization is a retired teacher/principal who worked with someone I work with - and our participation has evolved from that starting point. I don't believe anyone on our bowling team is involved with the organization, but that doesn't mean we can't get active in the bowling end of it.  This year we decided to bowl at the Goderich location.

Each year there is a costume theme.  Superheros, or Hawaiian have been played.  Sports Jersey costume was another, and so on.  Last year it was simple Halloween night.  Our team dressed up as the Village People....  So this year it was an International theme.  We decided to go as Canadian Lumberjacks.  Jeans, plaid shirt, toque and suspenders - almost an everyday get-up for me anyway.  Once again, for the second year in a row, our team won the dress up competition - Although disappointingly not many other teams completed the attire component.  Yes, there was a guy wearing a kilt, and a girl in a Japanese Kimono, but most teams aren't as enthusiastic as we are to dress up.
*Just a partial picture of our fearsome team - myself, Liesa, & Jen

As for the tallies on the night.  $6800 was raised.  There were probably 12 teams.  It was 5 pin bowling, and I think I hit 114 or 104 for my first game.  (But I was at 70 after 4 ends....  then the guttering started.)  We started a second game, but lost interest after a few frames, and chit-chatted with those around us rather then finishing off the punishment.

So that was that.  Today we woke up to 5 cm of snow on the ground.  Molly is going to a friend's birthday - at the bowling alley of all places, Shelly is in the year end co-ed Volleyball tournament, Wally is sleeping, I hit a decent run this morning, and that is about it.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Post Easter Recap

 For the past 10 years or more, my buddy John Coups and I have always made it a point to have breakfast together on Good Friday.  It must have started with going out late on a Thursday night, and then crashing over at his place, and continuing on in the morning with eats.  It has morphed from house to house, and other guests too.  Now, family, kids, and it is quite different from yesteryear.  However, the tradition continued this year and John and his family were over, Steve and Hellen, and for a first time this year Phil Dalton and his family.  It was a great get-together.  It was a scoff worthy of any $20 buffet breakfast at a restaurant.

On Saturday morning the family and I took in the annual Easter Egg insanity on the square in Goderich.  It is quite the event.  It is narrated with a mircophone by someone who thinks he calling a monster truck show.  The announcer is trying to get the crowd and the kids all wound up - like it is necessary.  Anyway, something was proclaimed about 20,000 eggs, and then the sound of a marine air horn.  Pandemonium ensued.  Kids and parents rushed to the treasure.  I don't think many parents knew what to do; take pictures, or take the candied eggs.  Wally and I just hung back in the peripherals, Molly eased into the ruckus and scooped a few eggs, Shelly was sussing it all out, and then it was over.  It was quite a cold morning too.  We walked the square a bit.  I got a new watch battery, we got some pepper for the pepper grinder, and then made our way home.

Sunday was the most impressive weather and social day of the weekend.  I went out for a relaxing run for 95 minutes or so.  I crossed paths with a coyote, about 40 yards away, I pushed a turkey for a bit, but then it flew off, and of course I say lots of geese, and rabbits.  Molly and I went for a swim at the YMCA, and then we packed up our provisions and went to Sarnia for an afternoon of family company and food. Suffice it to say the weather was awesome, the food was superb, the drinks were quenching, and all was right.  Wally was rather clingy and didn't seem himself.  Molly was herself; being a decent sport at times, being a bit of a bossy pants at times, and basically holding court as her typical self.

Monday was a rainy day.  A cold, wet hard rain until mid afternoon.  As it let up I got on the phone and called Phil to see if he wanted to go out for a run.  Shelly and the kids had long taken off for a bit of an adventure up to south Bruce county.  Phil was keen to go, so we hit the trail for an easy and mostly dry run.  Not to our surprise, there was a pretty big tree down across the path, so I return later that afternoon and diced it up...  My contribution to maintaining this public space.
Now I won't have to worry about that impediment during the next run....

That is about it actually.  Molly's school or class had a sports themed day last week.  It was "Jersey" day or something. She doesn't actually have any professional sports team clothing at all.  No Leafs or Jays gear.  Nor Raptors or any other professional team wear.  But I think she wore the best jersey ever to be drawn!

Monday, March 21, 2016

Post March Break

Another long wait in between a posting or two.  There is always lots that happen, then again maybe it isn't to news worthy for this forum.  I was sending a few emails today and got thinking I should at least update with a few pictures and some stories.

Shelly and I went to Toronto over the March Break.  The kids were in Lucknow, and they would be just fine without us for a couple of nights.  We took a very leisurely drive on Hwy. #86 getting to our destination, but there would be a few stops along the way. 

Elmira was the first braking point as it was the noon hour and lunch was calling.  We then stopped again in Guelph to see those crazy Tremainiacs.  Teressa was all to happy to load up our empty vehicle with toys-once-used.  We caught them de-cluttering, and there stuff became ours.  however I will say that the doll house and racetrack, despite looking a bit rough, were an instantaneous hit with Molly and Wally.  The doll house especially.  So before anything else could be loaded into the Jeep, we were off to our resting point of the Chelsea Hotel on Gerrard.

Toronto was fun for the two of us.  We crossed paths with mutual friends, had some great eats, went to a few bars, and pubs, listened to some live music, went to a movie, watched the St. Patrick's day parade, went to Canada Blooms, did some basic shopping, and walked around.  There were some misgivings about not having the two donkeys with us, but nothing that made a lasting impression on me - maybe a bit more on Shelly.  So feeling like we did what was needed to do in Toronto, we returned home and picked up the the kids.

The rest of the March Break was time spent in and around Goderich = a bit anti-climatic maybe, but there were some longer then usual sleeps, a big dump run with a buddy, a trip out to the farm to see how it weathered/wintered, and that is about it.....

I did however play in a St. Patrick's Day concert with my dad's pipe band - The Teeswater Pipe and Drum.  They held a concert in the town hall on Saturday the 19th, and I played along.  Over the past few weeks I went up to a few rehearsals, and my dad and I would practice an hour here and hour there, just to get the tunes in my head.  Indoors, these pipers simply play chanters and indoor bag pipes because, obviously, a bag pipe is simply too much inside.  Especially 8 or 10.  The guitar wouldn't even sound over a bag pipe, even plugged in.

So three or four weeks ago I got my mid-life crisis guitar!!!!!!  Gibson J-45 Custom Koa.  To say it is awesome, would not be saying all there is to say.  It is such an incredible thing.  It is art, instrument, class, and beauty wrapped together.  I got it used....  So happy.   So anyway it, and I, both had our stage debut.

Back to the concert = I chorded and accompanied along with a number of songs.  The Ministrel Boy and Loch Lomend, Paddy McGuinty's Flute, Britton's Glory, Doug's Jig, and the Skillet Jig.  I played along with a soloist singer as well.  Someone might have a picture - but I didn't get one - or a recording. but I will post a picture in the future of the new axe, and a video of us playing....  It was pretty fun.

We finished off the break, like I wrote, out at the farm to check on it.  The field looks amazing!  Tiling does work and it soooo worth it, but my trails are wet in places.  Some of the places are nearly knee deep of water.  I kind of expected that....  I don't know what I can do = It is a wet area....  But I started the lawn tractor and it worked, I started the generator and it worked, and the weed wacker started as well.  3 for 3 basically. 

That is the basic rundown of the last week anyway.  I got out on my motorbike for 10 minutes, then I poured rain on me...  I have got in an incredible amount of running and i feel great about that.  Phil and I knocked off a 5km tempo in 17:30 on the trails a week ago, and it felt super easy.... Coups and I had a huge dump run a week ago and we threw out so much crap!  Unreal how crap creeps up on you in a house.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Tribute to Dennis Fairall

*All pictures taken from the Windsor Star newspaper website....

A month ago or so word got out that there was going to be a celebration of longtime Windsor Lancer track and cross country coach Dennis Fairall.  I immediately put the event on the calendar, and no sooner the phone was ringing and the emails were getting set to go to the festivities.  So fast forward a few weeks, met up with my very good pal Drew Barisdale, room was booked at the Casino, and it would be off to Windsor for a quick, but very important 36 hours....

So I met up with Drew in London.  We were roommates for 4 years in Windsor, we both ran on the track and cross country teams, and we remain very good friends.  I see Drew 3 or 4 times a year, which is actually quite a lot considering this has gone on for 15 years, 4 kids between us, marriages, and full time work.  So wasting little time, I parked the truck in a parking lot in London, and we drove down together .  We wasted little time getting to conversation.  It was a more formal catch up from last crossing paths at Halloween just before going to Virgin Gorda, and the odd phone conversations over the last few weeks.  He is doing fine, and no complaints from me.

It was a incredible turnout of former and current athletes, work colleagues from the University, other coaches, and there was his family and friends there too.  There was about 500 people there.  I couldn't begin to name the notables, but I saw hundreds of people from yesteryear - it seemed like it anyway.  It was so many people.

In no particular order - it was a blast to see Johnny Cress and Phil Mathias, though I do see them every other year or so at different events. I saw Michelle, Dana, Missy and Tina.  4 (stunningly) great girls with so much beauty and life among them.  Duper and Marnie were there.  I ate dinner with O'Brian Gibbons, Kevin Far, Andy Hahn, Mike Gingras and Donny Garrod.  90s Lancers were not complete without mentioning those 5 names.  Also Mike Kainz, Dave Weston, Tom Beale, Jeremy Carbonarro, Billy Lessard, Zeke, Giller, Haller, Enver, Joe, Kevin O'Conner and on, and on, and on.....  I have missed a lot of names.

Wow....  It blew my mind seeing everyone.  And I will tell you everyone there looked absolutely terrific.  Beyond terrific in fact. I can't underscore this enough.  If looks could kill - this room would have slayed!  Nobody seemed to have let themselves go, or look like they had gained weight or popped out a double chin.  People were in their finest, and I was totally in awe.  I would swear time had forgotten these former athletes. There was the token balding guy, someone going a bit grey, a waistline that was bigger, but these were exceptions, not the norm.

The unfortunate thing of it is, however, Dennis himself is having health problems and is retiring as a result of his diminishing state.  Although he looks terrific - way more grey hair, sadly he is no longer working in his former capacity because it is too much.  He is however doing a bit of coaching and guidance for a few athletes still.  But physically he looked okay.  I can image it was an overwhelming night for him.  I know he had a great time.  I am fortunate to have had a great chit chat with him back at Halloween in Waterloo for 10 minutes with him.  And I was also happy that throughout the 2000s and into the 2010s he was up in Goderich during the cross country teams training camp.  Looking back I am thankful for those times, just as much as the time I spent with him from 1994 - 1999 as an athlete.

At any rate the night was a huge success.  Speeches and tributes flowed from the podium as many fine guest speakers took the stage and reflected.  Drew and I continued with a bit of reflection ourselves with all of the great teammates, friends, coaches and acquaintances.  There was the past, but the future is ahead of us all and it was time to start making new memories for the next time we get together again.

So congrats again Dennis.  It was a great event.