Monday, June 19, 2017

Hanging Around

Hanging around with a noose around your groin is basically what teacher's do (on field trips, and sometimes just daily).

We were off 14 km down the road to a gem of a spot I had never been to in my life.  All these years teaching in the area and living here too, I had never been to Camp Kintail.  Founded way back in 1929, they have a few hundred prime acres nestled along the shores of Lake Huron.  It has roots in the church, but it was a secular day through and through for the class Liesa and I brought this year.  I half figured there would have been a bit of a pre-meal blessing, or at least a token camp fire song about religion.  But alas, nothing.  Just a day of great weather and lots of fun and activities.

We got to the big stuff first.  The ropes course would be our first destination.  It looked good enough for Navy Seals in training.  In fact it looked great.  There were no less then 12 different vertical paths and challenges.  They all seemed rather difficult too.  However the inner climber sprung out among the adolescents and they were up walls, across wooden bridges, swinging from a zip line, and the like for a solid hour.  The only problem in this station was the 12 obstacles were only minded by 6 or 7 be layers.  So a bit of standing around.   I wanted to get-at a few of the challenges myself, but I figured the day and its liveliness was for the students, not for me.....  Though I did manage to get a few of them donkeys to hoist me up the squirrel swing or whatever it was called.  Thankfully they didn't drop me like a sack of flower.

Next up was the beach.  It was sunny and warm out at over 20 degrees centigrade, but Lake Huron must have been a fresh 60 degrees Fahrenheit max.  No sense no feeling - most of the students were in the water and splashing about.  The paddle boards came out, a number of kayaks, and even some canoes got going....  The water was a bit rough - I couldn't see the life guard having too much ambition to go rescue a capsized student in such cold conditions....  So I was out myself in a scow and keeping and eye on everyone.  I stayed dry and had a good paddle to boot.

There was a nice hot lunch for the 130 kids or so involved at Kintail for the day.  We sat in groups of 8.  I half expected a bit of a religious saying or prayer to kick things off, but instead roles were assigned and kids found themselves with a job in order to expedite our salad, fries, chicken burgers, drinks, and so on.  It was a well oiled machine indeed.  The fun, or so the newbies thought, was when it was post lunch and staff started walking around with a scrapper-spatula.  The promised this would be an exciting job to help.  All of the rookies put up their hands, and no sooner were they are garbage duty scrapping the excess food off of the plates and into the trash!

Anyway the rest of the day was good.  There were a number of other balance games and games of chance....  Archery and sling shots were also let-go.  They had a fairly large 100+ foot enclosed slide.... We were in groups to geo-cache....  Just a fun day.  Lots of pictures, but all of kids.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Invasion of the Shriner's

I don't know how it came to be, but there must have been a big southwestern Ontario Shriner's gathering in town this weekend.  They partied and paraded quite jubilantly on Saturday afternoon starting only a hundred metres or so from the house.  Other curious neighbours gathered to see them off on their loop of the square as I did.

There wasn't one lady to be seen in the lot.  Evidently women aren't or can't become a member of the order.  However it is a fraternity..  But what a shame...  All the little Honda dirt bikes and four wheelers, the Aladdin-like shoes, the dune buddies and fire trucks.... All the neat toys and gizmos.  They had a clown brigade too.  There were a few different bands playing.  It all sort of takes one to the middle east or off to Morocco.  Totally Lawrence of Arabia type atmosphere, but in Goderich.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Last Day in May

A pretty poor social media month around drmexploits, however here we are at the end of the month and I suppose it would be worth while to post a brief recap.  Nothing too profound happened during the month, but I suppose the summary would go a bit like:

* helped organize the 400 strong Mother's Day road race in Goderich
* it has been going strong for 6 years and I have set up the course and water stations each year
* I also biked it this year knowing there would be noooooooo waaaaaaaay I'd come anywhere close to my 16:10 of 2016
* Molly ran the 1 lap loop of the square kid's race...  She had lots of fun....  She ran the entire way...  She got a medal at the end for finishing...

* Shelly and I went to an Award's night sponsored by her federation
* she was recognized and won an award along with a few of her colleagues and some students in the board
* here jazz band was the entertainment before it began

* Shelly, Bridget, Phil and I played a 9 or 10 song set at the Goderich Legion the other night
* Shelly was on vocals and ukulele, Bridget on the violin and vocals, Phil on the box drum, and me on the guitar
* we were okay...  we practiced better then we played perhaps, but it wasn't too bad - my friend took a few pictures but I haven't seen any of them yet.

That was it basically for the month.  Shelly had a birthday.  I had a few good visits with some buddies from out of town.  I saw Kites and Rich in Guelph, then I saw Rich in Goderich.   I helped my buddy Dave open his cottage just south of town.  We have gone out for a few good bike rides on the trails.
 We have been cutting trees out at Shelly's farm.  All of the ash are dead and have to go.  The neighbour Kevin has been quarterbacking the falling of the trees, and we've been around to clean up after it is on the ground.  Plus I helped my mom cut down a decent sized tree in her yard.  It fell right were it needed to; no damage to person or property.

My buddy Steve hosted a huge retirement party and birthday party for his wife who celebrated those two events this past weekend.  It was quite fun to get out with Shelly among adults.  Molly and Wally were at home with my dad and they quite enjoyed themselves out for dinner and having a play on some equipment down at the beach.

So it was a busy month - at the time its events didn't seem that profound or interesting, but at the end of the month it seems more important.  Or important enough to put down for memories later on.

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.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Dungannon Vintage Snowmobile Show

It is certainly appropriate Dungannon plays host to an annual  vintage snowmobile rally each winter.  I think of vintage stuff as things time has forgotten, and time has forgotten the wee wee hamlet of Dungannon - no offense to two loyal readers Joel and Sherry....

There was no shortage of pre-fuel injected, pre-carbide skiied, pre-gps, and just about any other"pre" creature comfort snowmobiles have today at the rally.  The newest machine there was probably from the early 90s - it looked out of place.  No, the machines there were from a by-gone era of craftsmanship and dependability which was second to none.  Machines with no ergonomics, or no heated features, yet they somehow have lived on in old barns and sheds to see a few flakes of snow each winter pulling laps around the perimetre of a field, or to simply make an appearance at a rally like today's.

Molly and I made the trip.  She wasn't too excited, but a bit of bribery with the promise of potentially riding on one of the yee-old-beaters, and a few toboggan slides at a nearby point, was the push she needed.  We walked around causally, nodding our heads at each old sled like we new all of the quantitative and qualitative statistics of them, and said hi to many familiar faces.  I spied a few kids in the class I teach who rode their snowmobiles to the rally and hoped to shore up a ride for Molly and me, but no.  I maybe didn't ask as point-forwardly as I should have - like when I get kids to sit and get mindful with their work in school.  However, lesson learned and taken from my angle.

The obvious manufacturers were well represented; Ski-Doo, Polaris, Artic Cat, but then there were a number of makers which was a bit more unique; Harley Davidson, John Deere, Mercury, & Chrysler had this really odd looking dirt-bike like contraption.  

I got thinking a lot today about my youth.  Our family had a mid 70s Ski-Doo Olympic.  It was a 340 cc engine with one spark plug.  It was yellow and had a black seat. Of course you had to mix the oil and gas just so, choke it, and yank the hell out of the rip cord to get it going.  It had a wind shield, but by the time we were teenagers it was busted from our aged abuse of it, along with the protective cover.  It wasn't all that powerful, and would get stuck quite easily if you were turning in the deep 1980s snow.  I remember quite often going in a straight line on it with snow so deep it would cascade over the windshield, before it was broke, and go on my face and down the front of my jacket.  We had an old 6 or 8 foot long wooden toboggan that we were towed on.  The snowmobile clothes were stored in an over sized hockey bag and they had this smell to them.  Maybe a bit moldy and perpetually wet, but not enough to be toxic.  After taking turns riding it with my siblings, we would prop up the rear track with a single larger piece of wood - something about not wanting the back track to ice to the snow.  There were lots of good times with that snowmobile.

At any rate - all is well here.  No real news or information to share = I was in a concert last week actually with the Teeswater Bag Pipe Band.  They had about 13 or 14 songs to perform with various instruments, and I accompanied along on 5 of them I suppose.  It was fun - I don't have any photo evidence, but I might to able to load up a video of a rehearsal that I taped so I could practice on my own.

No much else....

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Skating at the Park

Throughout the 80s I can clearly remember the fire department in Goderich flooding the tennis courts at the town pool area on Nelson Street.  The ice rink was that big - basically two tennis courts wide and long.  There was another rink too.  A secondary rink on the grass area for figure skating.  The tennis courts were reserved for hockey.  It was a source of memories for me, and good ones at that.

By and by however the courts did not get flooded in subsequent years during the late 80s and into the 90s.  I suppose it got to be too much work, or too much liability in case of accident.  For whatever the reason there wasn't a community minded outdoor skating rink for quite sometime here.  For a few years in the mid 2000s there was a rink up on the square in Goderich.  I was never on it.  Nor do I remember it lasting that long.  Again the reasons for its demise could have been unpredictable weather, not enough volunteers, too much cost or liability of course.

For the past 3 or 4 years a group of volunteers have resurrected the outdoor rink at the tennis courts.  It has two sets of rinks each about the size of a NBA sized basketball court.  One of the rinks is skating only, and the other has a perimetre set of 4 foot high boards and nets for pick-up hockey.  There are about a dozen different implements such as shovels and such to clear the ice, and a number of benches to sit on to put on skates.  A dedicated group of volunteers flood it when it is appropriate to do so, and by all accounts it gets used quite often.

Molly and I hit it up for 45 minutes or so today.  There was always about a dozen other like minded people on the skating only side, and about a half dozen kids playing hockey on that side.  The sun was poking out and it made it really nice with the accompanying blue cloudless sky.  Molly seemed to do much better then she does indoor at the YMCA in town.  I can't explain that, however it seemed like it to me.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Nature Walking

The holidays presents lots of extra time obviously.  We used this time to be at the YMCA of Goderich a number of times to go swimming and skating as a family, and also just to poke around town and out at the farm.  I can't remember what day it was, but it was a nice sunny day so we took off for Hawkin's road to see how the trails and the 25 acres (at Shelly's farm) was holding up.

I had been out there a few times before New Years Eve with the cross bow in hopes to fill a deer tag.  Despite my best efforts, which are poor, I didn't, but did see lots of sign and undoubtedly the deer, lots of rabbits and coyotes are enjoying the trails that I have slashed.  Unfortunately I did not or have not seen and turkey tracks....

At any rate we got on the trail and just heard the pains and screams of wild children.  Without fail Molly complains that it is too this, or too that....  it is too wet in the spring, too buggy or mosquitoe-y in the summer, too many leaves in the fall - her legs were tired this time walking in the snow.  However I try to deafen her calls and and enjoy the walk.  Not 50 feet into the trail I saw what I thought was a jack-rabbit.  Not a cottontail, but a sizable lepus.  Wally was pulled along on a polar bear sled and it was a nice hour or so for all of us.

Molly got a sled for Christmas.  It was your standard "saucer" variety.  We told her she could have a go on it at a place on the way back from the walk at the farm.  She had it in her head after seeing Wally in his sled at the farm that she should be able to ride on it rather then walk.  Saucer sleds aren't the kind that someone gets pulled on....

On the way home we did manage to stop at a sledding area and it worked out just fine.

Last but not least Wally just had his second birthday.  He had it with just a bit of fan fare.

Forgetting My Password

So getting back into things with passwords can be a nightmare.  In September there were no less then 4 or 5 passwords with school to log into the network, to take attendance, complete assessments, finish some reports on students, log into the federation information, and of course the school email system.  It was all forgotten or changed from what I once knew and remembered.

The same can be said with me for this website.  Posting every month doesn't do too much in terms of remembering the login.  However here I am, successfully logged in and adding away in 2017.  We all made it through the holiday season and though there isn't too many pictures, there were lots of memories and stories.

December finished up with a number of school cancellations before the 23rd or December.  To be honest I thought it was going to be quite difficult to make it that far into the month and keeping everyone on track.  Thanks to a few weather cancellations it happened.  They seemed to help in two ways - it made completing work a lot easier because there was less time to do it.  And secondly it just gave enough of a break to want to get back and complete the things that needed done.  So I didn't bat an eye when the closure notices appeared.  I still made it to a health and safety inspection, two in fact, and got plenty of work done at home which both caught me up, and moved me forward.  And it is even another cancellation day today!

So Christmas was just a terrific time for everyone.  On the eve, we went out for dinner and drinks to  a friend's house, where we were joined by other friends.  We were not too late.   The kids were wrapped in beds not long after eight - Molly being very excited, and Shelly and I just hung out and did those last minute things that needed done, and watched Die Hard.

Christmas morning came early.  Before seven.  Santa did in fact make it to the house and dropped off a sundry of useful and necessary items that people asked for and needed.  An electric blanket, Husky car mats, pink hockey helmet and Paw Patrol paraphernalia.  There were other goodies too, but those were the highlights.  Later that afternoon we continued in the joyous spirit with dinner and drink at my uncle Larry's, joined by relatives of all stripes.

Boxing day was spent much like the previous day with an early morning rise, and the same activities of drink and gifts and food at my dad's.  It was the least busy boxing day in terms of numbers in quite sometime.  But that is the way it goes from time to time.