Sunday, April 16, 2017

Spring Canoe

The spring canoeing season isn't very long on our Maitland River.  When the water is aplenty, the weather is usually cold and miserable.  When the weather is warmer, sunny and nice, water levels tend to decrease significantly.  Juggling this juxtaposition always seems to be the case.  March Break canoeing would have the best water and worse weather.  May canoeing is the best weather, but the poorest water.  So here we are in April.  April usually has the just right mix.  Today we found it.

We are very lucky that we put in our canoe about 12 km from the house in Goderich.  Where we finish up it is about 6km closer to town.  But the river winds and bends so much that it is about a 15 km journey.  I know there are much better places to go canoeing in the spring where you are guaranteed higher water levels, but the fact that this spot is so close to home, it makes poorer conditions a bit more likable because location.

Today's adventure consisted of Joel, Trista, Scott and me.  It was raining in the morning quite a lot, but by our noon start the clouds had disappeared and it was sunny.  No sooner had we started layers of clothing were being peeled away and it was quite a nice day.  The water levels were okay.  I think in another week this trip by paddling wouldn't be as nice.  Scott and I only got hung up once; we rolled off everything else without too many issues.

Water fowl is abundantly seen.  We saw all kinds of ducks and geese.  There were a number of red tail hawks taking positions in leafless trees along the river bank.  The turkey buzzards are back in the area and we saw all kinds circling overhead our path.  We saw what we thought was a beaver swimming in the water, but at second glance it was probably only a muskrat.  Lastly there was a bald eagle's nest just 10 minutes into our ride and there was at least one bird in it we saw who was sunning itself or just watching the world go by.  For as nice of a day it was, we didn't see too many people at all.  Only 1 feller hiking with his dog, and just 2 or 3 others at their cottage or cabin along the route.

It was a successful day by canoeing standards; nobody got wet!  We enjoyed a great paddle, and the weather was terrific.  I don't get out canoeing too often, but when I do I always enjoy myself.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Don's 50th

This event was significant.

10 short years ago in March of '07, I was introduced to Shelly.  It was just after the March Break.  I had went out west with Joel to my brother's house skiing, and I came back to an email message from my friend Adrian about meeting up with a supply teacher he knew.  A girl.  So it wasn't much time after that that there was a dinner or two out, a movie night, and a bit of time spent together with this supply teacher friend.

In April of '07 it was my buddy Don's 40th birthday.  I was 31 at the time.  Of course I knew many people over 40 years old, but this was the first ever 40th birthday of a friend I went to.  Casino Royal had just been released that autumn, so Don was going to have a James Bond themed birthday.  How that was ten years ago I will not know.  But it was.  I made this super awesome James Bond Moonraker outfit from a white painter's suit.  I duct taped cargo pockets on it.  I also used the duct tape to highlight the elbows and other significant parts of the suit which needed it.  There was even an authentic looking Praxis Enterprise identification badge on it that was made to make the suit look that much more special.  I invited Shelly to come to the party with me.  She was draped in a typical Bond-girl type cocktail dress that Bond would undoubtedly fall for.

Fast forward 10 years......

A month or so ago the invite rolled out for Don's 50th.  He was resurrecting, which is appropriate for the month of April, the James Bond theme for this soiree.  Excitement!  The Moonraker custom had long been tossed, but there were plenty of options, and going as Drew Macaulay and Shelly Johnston wouldn't cut it.

I had half committed going to the party in a french cut speedo that would certainly identify me as Daniel Craig/James Bond coming out of the water in Casino Royal.  My trunks are black.  His are blue in the movie. Not good enough.

It would have also been suitable to go as the villain in Thunderball named Emilio Largo.  Check on the eye patch, check on the black bow tie and the white shirt.  No white jacket....  Darn.

Shelly was going for an "outside the box" ensemble.  There would certainly be enough Bond girls there that evening with their slim fitting dresses, their styled hair, and the high heels.  How would I be able to find Shelly in such a gaggle?  As a result she pulled off a pretty impressive vodka martini - shaken, not stirred.  It was a fine choice, it certainly fit in with the theme of the night, and her extensive creativity and forward thinking ideas were evident.

As for me, James Bond must have worn a grey suit during one part of one movie....  Not showing, but I was packing an AirSoft Walther PPK in one of those swanky detective holsters under the suit. I should have posed with it, but there were a few cops there.  My buddy said it isn't illegal, but I wasn't sure - last thing I needed was to get shot over a silly costume.

We had a tonne of fun.  There was plenty of food and drink.  There were casino games rented and Don-Dollars to play with.  Cake came out and Happy Birthday was sang.  My favourite blog reader Sheri was there with her man Craig.  There were lots of great people to spend the evening with - minus the cops of course!  Ha.  Just kidding Jamie and Paul = you two don't even read this anyway.

I can't believe Don will be 60 in 10 short years!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Dame's Rocket

The Lucknow Legion played host to the infamous Dame's Rocket this past St. Patrick's Day.  The sextet, ha, plugged in and executed their sets with harmony, tone, and rhythm.  It wasn't a huge crowd, but they were keen listeners and excited to hear the girls in person.

Photo Credit to Laurie Hayden; (L to R) Monica, Shelly, Rachel, Katie, Kelly, & Natalie

This is one of the musical groups that Shelly is in that generally practices and rehearses at our house on Tuesdays.  They slay my beer, that is for sure, and maybe that is why they keep coming over to use our house as the studio.  But I also guess it just works for them all too.  It is an interesting mix of two environmental engineers of sorts, two of them are in education, a radio DJ, and one who is in hair and cosmetics.  A true sundry collection.  Why they haven't asked me to join in is a complete mystery.  I don't believe their next concert is booked - they only play about 3 or 4 gigs a year; and don't let that be a reflection on their talent.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Concert February 4th

I thought I had written a few things down about the concert I played in in February.  I guess I didn't.

This is the second time I had played with the Teeswater Pipe Band.  My dad has been in this troupe for the better part of 10 years, and really enjoys playing and parading with them at various events.  The first time I played with them was on St. Patrick's Day in 2016, or rather is was during a St. Patrick's Day concert. This time it was a Robby Burns themed concert with some piano, poetry, dancing, chanters, drumming, electric guitar, bagpipes, indoor bagpipes, singing, and me on an acoustic guitar.  In all there was about 15 pieces, and I accompanied on 5 or 6 of them.  The concert was in Teeswater, ON at the town hall.  The crowd wasn't very rowdy, but at 80 strong they proved to be willing listeners, and non judgmental which is important to me.  My dad and I practiced mostly at home, Shelly also helped out by playing the piano for me, and after 2 formal rehearsals it was time to break a leg on the stage.

It was pretty fun.  It was a bit of a challenge, but like anything after sustained, mindful and repetitive practice I got the chords and their sequence memorized well.  I felt as if it sounded and went well.

One of the other highlights of it all, besides doing this with my dad, was seeing an old Windsor Lancer T&F friend.  She was Julie Lisle back in the 90s, but is now Julie MacDonald.  Her two girls aged 9 and 7, give-or-take, were the highland dancers who stole the show with their cute ensembles', crisp taps', and superb leg lifts'; just like their mom did back in the day as a hurdler!  I knew Julie was in the area, and saw her a few years ago at a wedding we were both at, but it was neat to see her and reminisce about the good-old-days.

As for us at home - we are great.  We were out to the farm on a good old nature walk, and testing the limits of our body weight versus the frozen ice this past weekend.  Molly had no confidence despite being one of the lightest, Shelly's wasn't so sure either, yet Wally and I were as optimistic as can be.  I knew the deepest section was only about knee high, and although a wet boot wouldn't be great, it would have been deserved based on my lack of fear, and made a better story.  In the end I crashed through some ice, but my Bogs repelled the cold icy water which was well past my ankle at the time.

This is how we get ready for bed!

Friday, February 24, 2017

Practice Video From Concert

A simple video shot a few weeks ago in Teeswater, ON... Like I wrote earlier; the concert was fun and I enjoyed playing along with the pipe band.


Thursday, February 23, 2017

Adding Steps

My buddy Scott and I tackled a simple modification on the truck over the past week or so.  I bought the steps thinking that the weather wouldn't be agreeable to do this outside in February.  It would have to be a spring job or find a decent sized garage.  But with the weather in the mid teens for much of the past 2 weeks, no time was as good as the present.  First step was to give the truck a good wash, and open the packing and hope that I don't loose anything.

These are a definite need and not a want.  Molly has a hard enough time getting into the truck.  I knew that was going to be the case when I bought it, but I didn't want an easily-accessible mini van or loser cruiser as a ride.  I wanted a truck.  That is it.  In a few years Wally is going to be ready to tackle getting into and out of the truck as well.  It might as well be easy for them.

So anyway, no big deal.  These look pretty good and are useful.  The installation instructions said no drilling, no cutting, use existing threaded holes - all of those agreeable words to a guy like me who has no tools or know-how.  Only one ratchet would be needed.  A screw driver to remove a cap.  Sounds like something for my disposition.  I had Scott on tool detail, and in fact all installation detail.  I bought some lock tight and some oily-type spray to coat the unit after it was on the truck, and of course I would supervise if needed.  Weather was 16 degrees centigrade in the middle of February - scary nice.

I've played a number of hockey games lately.  It had been about 2 or 3 years away from it.  I was wrangled into playing in the Old Timer's Tournament in town a week or two ago.  That was fun.  I also played the other night in Bayfield.  It was good to get back out.

It was a long weekend this past week.  We hit the road 40km north into Bruce County for some cousin action and play.  We had a big Christmas-y type meal and play.  The weather, again, it is just so unseasonably warm, had melted the snow to the most ideal packing capacity.  We made a bit of a snowman, and Molly had to instigate the argument over who had to dress it up.  Of course she had too, and not any of her cousins.

I think it is safe to say that Molly will have challenges, and has ongoing challenges, on waiting her turn, appreciating other people's space, being patient, sharing, sitting beside certain others, and the like.  She has a strong nature which is good, but it doesn't serve her well all the time.  She can be quite funny!

International Women's Day

International Women's Day isn't until March 8th, but the labour council I am involved with, along with our ETFO affiliate have supported this campaign.  This is the ad that we put together, Willie Laurie actually put it together this year, that is going to be in The Focus newspaper in the coming weeks.  I think it looks great, and there was lots of support for the ad this year from other local affiliates.

For more information about this go to the Ontario Federation of Labour Website.