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.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

New Doors

We have a wide selection of doors, as it is, already in The CoachHouse; regular doors, sliding glass doors, patio doors, a set of french doors off the garage, a cat door, a trap door for the bar, dutch doors, and even saloon doors.  They all open and shut, they add privacy, have some value of insulation too, and just generally do as a door should.  For the longest time both of us have been thinking about adding an interior sliding barn door on the inside brick wall in the living room.  We have the space, and thought it would look cool.  It may also add a bit of a sound barrier too.

Low and behold there was a feller in Blyth who could fabricate such a door, and the track system.  A few emails were sent back and for, he came to the house to take some measurements, we went to his house to shore up the particulars, and he even returned once more to remeasure and reevaluate the project.  In the end it would be two doors for us.
The second door would be in our bedroom.  It is the partition into the ensuite bathroom.

The big door is most impressive.  It is about 6.5ft x 8ft.  The track is about 13 ft long.  He used tongue and grooved worm maple wood, put a dark stain on it, and then a finishing clear coat so that it doesn't pick up finger prints and whatnot.  The perimetre is edged in steel.  It was heavy too.  Over 200 pounds....  Well over.  He drilled into the bricks rather then the mortar to set his holes.  He put a lead expanding tap into the brick, and then the track went up.  There are rubber bushings against the wall.

The door is on a bit of a hidden sliding track on the floor as well to keep it true.  Also, it is impossible for it to become undone at the top because he put some more rubber bushings up there so it can't get lift.  At each end of the track there are, again, rubber stoppers so the door cannot be slid off of the steel.  During the process he mentioned a couple of times that one really needs to know how to hang this just perfectly - and he was that guy.  If they aren't dead-straight, gravity will slide the door and it can't stay in a neutral position.  Also they can't rub on the floor, they have to clear trim, and so on and so forth.  Let's just say he did a super great job.

The bathroom in the bedroom is in need of a major overhaul = it was finished in 1982, and the tiles are falling down....  It is in a pitiful state.  The picture is just meant as a before and after reference...


So we are super happy with it - The colours and the nitty gritty were all on Shelly....  I probably would have choosen a darker honey coloured stain myself, but I really, really like the dark stain as it is.  I wouldn't change anything about how it was done.

Up next, at some point, is some bathroom overhauling.  They are in quite a state.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Halfway & Beer and Pancakes

Today marks the halfway point/portion of the time off of work.  I might be a day or two plus or minus, but it is the halfway point of the school year at least.  My friends Scott and Leanne start work today for the first time since last June, my friend April starts her half-year off today, and my buddies Rich and Joel are continuing with their full year leave.  It really has seemed and felt like an incredibly long time since July 1, and I just hope this second half feels as long.

There has been silly weather around here.  Quite a bit of rain, more sunshine then usual, and temperatures well above freezing.  I had an hour or two to myself yesterday afternoon and I was going to go for a run outside, but instead I jumped on the KTM and went for a spin around town.  It was nearly 9 centigrade!  The salt, sand, dusty roads and slippery corners are no concern for me.  Not many people would get out this time of year because of all the extra bits of stuff on the road which otherwise scuffs up the bikes and makes riding less (safe) enjoyable, but the KTM doesn't mind such infractions.

I have been running though quite a bit.   I ran every day in January except for 1.  Inside Monday to Thursday, outside for Friday and the weekend - I am pretty sure I have a race coming up at the end of May.  The last time I raced I said never again, why the hell am I doing this nonsense, but it is going to be a relay race with some buddies from university - out on the Cabot Trail, so it should be fun.

Everyone is good around here - School is going well for Molly.  I may have written this, but she seems to be doing very well with the traditional reading, letters, and math awareness - but her printing and letter formation, colouring, cutting, glueing - fine motor stuff, seems suspect.  There is a report card that comes home during the last week of February, so we'll see what it says.

Wally isn't walking unaccompanied yet.  Lots of pulling himself up and meandering around the perimetre of things.  He stands without an aid for 5 seconds or so...  But not walking.  He is always saying good-bye, mom, and dad, but nothing else really.  He is eating lots with his hands, and has 6 good sized teeth to tackle whatever is in his mouth.

Shelly is back at work.  As I wrote the new semester starts today and I gather her 3 classes are all music; a ninth grade instrumental, a guitar only class, and a senior level instrumental too.  Shelly and Molly are in music class on Thursdays.  It is a parent-tot class, a introduction and awareness to Music.  It is called MYC - Music is for Young Children....  They sing songs and get a feel for the notes on the staff, get an understanding of tempo and beat counts, and just get familiar with the discipline.  They both have fun.  It is an hour a week on Thursdays...  Wally and I wrench on the motorbike during this time!

That is about it - Just hanging out really.  I figure the day is only about 6 hours long with Wally; 9:00 am until 3:00 pm.  We are at the YMCA for 90 minutes, he'll sleep for two and a half hours, we eat, and soon enough we are back walking to get Molly.

This was years ago - over 12 anyway, but my brother told me a story about how, and I think this is how the story goes, he was at a tree planting camp and in some capacity they got to a point where all they had to eat/drink was pancakes and beer.  Morning and evening - beer and pancakes.  I don't really think it is that bad of a meal to be honest.  So the other day we had pancakes for dinner, and I just had to crack a beer and tell the family the story of their uncle Trevor and how he used to eat beer and pancakes at some tree planting camp of yester-year...