Monday, May 22, 2017

Amazing Ernest Hemingway stories...

So I saw this online with the Toronto Star, telling about Hemingway's time at The Star. I was going to post just the link, but I decided it was important enough to run the whole story. Credit: The Toronto Star.  


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http://ehto.thestar.com/marks/how-hemingway-came-of-age-at-the-toronto-star

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BILL SCHILLER
FEATURE WRITER
“I may be going to Russia for the Star,” Ernest Hemingway wrote his mother in a 1922 letter from Paris, “. . . am awaiting orders from them now.”
As it turned out, Hemingway never went to Russia for the Toronto Star for reasons that remain unclear.
But what is clear, in new letters just published or about to be published, is how dependent he was on the Star for money, mobility and access to places and events that he eventually shaped into stories and novels.
In four years of writing for the Star, from 1920 to 1924, in Toronto and in Paris, he travelled extensively — “10,000 miles” in one year, he wrote to his family, some on the Orient Express.
The details are contained in some 6,000 letters, 85 per cent of them never before published, to be issued in the coming decades under an ambitious program called the Hemingway Letters Project.
“Being a foreign correspondent for the Toronto Star allowed Hemingway to get out and see contemporary postwar Europe in a way he wouldn’t have had he simply been traveling as a tourist,” says Prof. Sandra Spanier, a Hemingway authority at Penn State University and lead editor of the project.
“And he wrote things up for the Star that he later worked into fiction.”
Scott Donaldson, one of America’s leading literary biographers, says the Star gave Hemingway a chance — and great latitude to choose subjects and style.
“He was very, very lucky to get that kind of freedom,” he says. “Their recognizing his ability to do it and giving him that chance is what made that experience so valuable.”
Hemingway the reporter was competitive from the get-go.
In one letter, pencilled from the Star newsroom in 1920, Hemingway told his parents that he had scooped the competing Globe on an important story. The competition was forced to follow him the next day with a lead editorial.
“Mr. Atkinson who owns the Star complimented me on it,” Hemingway wrote.
In 1922, returning to his base in Paris from a conference in Italy, Hemingway boasted to his mother, “Got back here last night after skimming the cream from Genoa.”
And to his father he scribbled on a postcard of the Italian port, “If you’ve read the Daily Star you know all about this town.”
In 1923 his mother wrote asking where he was heading next.
“I don’t know,” Hemingway responded. “It depends what I hear from the Star.”
The first volume of Hemingway letters, dating from 1907 to 1922, was published by Cambridge University Press last fall. Volume two, from 1923 to 1925, will appear next year.
Originally, the project planned to publish 12 volumes. Now it expects 16, as more letters continue to surface.
With detailed annotations to the letters, the project aims to deepen readers’ understanding of Hemingway’s development as a writer from childhood to his suicide in Ketchum, Idaho, in 1961.
The Hemingway who emerges from the early letters is filled with youthful exuberance, thrilled to be traveling through Europe and proud of his journalism.
He kept his Star clippings — neatly trimmed and blemish-free — all his life.
And he sent a stream back to his parents in Chicago, whom he had persuaded to subscribe to the Star.
Hemingway arrived at the paper in January 1920 hoping to freelance. He was an unknown 20-year-old with dreams of becoming a novelist.
His timing was fortuitous. Founder Joe Atkinson was trying to build a world-class paper based on great writing and scoops, with a showcase weekend edition known as the Star Weekly.
The freewheeling Weekly, in particular, demanded colour and human drama.
Hemingway delivered both in spades.
By 22, he was the paper’s European correspondent.
But by 24, following a clash with a senior editor bent on breaking him, he was gone.
He left the paper in anger, going on to become one of the world’s most famous authors and winning a Nobel Prize for Literature in 1954.
But he always carried with him the memory of being a foreign correspondent for the Star. It was the highlight of his journalistic career.
Managing Editor John Bone and Star Weekly Editor J. Herbert Cranston trumpeted his work, playing it big and promoting it with in-house ads touting Hemingway’s achievements and worldliness, sometimes promising readers that their roving correspondent would deliver the news “through Canadian eyes.”
Hemingway had an obvious incentive to travel: it paid more. For stories from Paris Hemingway earned only modest per-word rates. But for out-of-town assignments he made $75 a week plus expenses.
At the time, it was cheap to live in Paris. Hemingway and his first wife, Hadley Richardson, were paying $20 per month for a small, cold-water flat near the Pantheon and could live on as little as $1 a day.
In one article Hemingway told of how Canadians could live in Paris “very comfortably” on $1,000 a year.
Still, Hemingway wasn’t above double-dealing. On at least two trips he filed regular dispatches to the Hearst newspaper chain, much to his wife’s chagrin, under a secret arrangement that paid him well, though not as well as the Star.
Managing editor Bone caught him at it — but forgave him.
Hemingway would later wax nostalgic about those years in his posthumous memoir, A Moveable Feast.
But while the story of Hemingway’s journey to Toronto begins in 1920, he nearly came earlier — for military training.
Another newly published letter reveals that an 18-year-old Hemingway, desperate to get into World War I, approached Canadian army recruiters in Kansas City in 1917.
American forces had rejected Hemingway because of his poor eyesight.
At the time he was working as a cub reporter for the Kansas City Star.
In a letter first published last fall, Hemingway told his sister Marcelline, “I intend to enlist in the Canadian Army soon,” calling the Canadians “the greatest fighters in the world,” and adding, “our troops are not to be mentioned in the same breath.”
In the end, however, the Kansas City Star sponsored a Red Cross Ambulance unit and he set off for Italy. There he suffered serious wounds, was decorated by the Italians and returned to America in January 1919.
While speaking of those experiences later that year to a women’s group in Petoskey, Mich., where his family kept a cottage, he captivated Harriet Connable of Toronto, whose husband, Ralph, ran the Canadian arm of F.W. Woolworth’s department stores.
The Connables needed a companion and mentor for their disabled teenaged son who could stay with him in Toronto while they vacationed in Palm Beach, Fla.
Hemingway would be paid $50 per month, have the run of the Connable mansion at 153 Lyndhurst Ave. — near present-day St. Clair Ave. W. and Bathurst St. — and be able to dedicate time to his writing.
Arriving in Toronto before Connable headed south, Hemingway persuaded Connable to get him an introduction at the Toronto Star.
Connable did, and Hemingway did the rest.
He befriended writer-editor Greg Clark, who introduced him to Star Weekly chief Cranston, and soon Hemingway had four unsigned pieces in the paper, then his first bylined story ever — about getting a free shave at a local barber school.
In seven months at the Kansas City Star, Hemingway had never earned a byline.
In Toronto at the Star Weekly, he started at a half a cent a word, earning $5 for a 1,000-word piece. In time, his rate doubled.
Memorably, he wrote a scathing satire on Mayor Tommy Church mooching for votes at a boxing match at Massey Hall.
“We’re out to get the mayor,” Hemingway wrote to his father, “. . . and I’ve been riding him.”
On winter evenings, Hemingway tried skating on the Connables’ rink and played pickup hockey with a small group of friends that included the Connables’ daughter Dorothy, the chauffeur’s son, college student Ernest Smith and others.
Hemingway befriended writer-editor Greg Clark, pictured above, who introduced him to Star Weekly Editor J. Herbert Cranston. The rest is history. TORONTO STAR
In warm weather, he played tennis and rode the Connables’ horses along Bathurst.
Hemingway found Toronto expensive and complained that “the Doggone Star” paid him only once a month.
But he was having “fun,” he wrote his parents, and getting published.
When trout season opened, Hemingway, who was religious about fishing, thanked the family and set off in mid-May for Petoskey and the streams of northern Michigan.
Still, he continued to file regular pieces to the Weekly, including one on how Canadians were getting rich running liquor from Windsor into prohibition-era Detroit.
After a spell of boring writing for an in-house magazine for a shady Chicago financial institution, he wrote Star managing editor Bone in October 1921, asking to come back.
He was now married and unemployed, and his creative writing was going nowhere. He dreamt of returning to Europe, which he had seen only briefly in WWI.
Bone was keen to have Hemingway back.
So they struck a deal, and by December 1921 Hemingway and Hadley — the model for the immensely popular novel The Paris Wife — set off for France with the promise of bylines in the Star from across Europe.
The Hemingways were immediately smitten by the City of Light.
In a just-published letter, dated Feb. 15, 1922, Hemingway wrote to his mother, “Paris is so very beautiful that it satisfies something in you that is always hungry in America.”
Fifty years later, in a rare set of tape recordings kept today in the Hemingway collection at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston, Hadley told a biographer that Hemingway had been her guide.
“He opened up the world,” she recalled. “He was very tender and sweet.”
He was also hard-working. When he wasn’t assigned by the Star, he was weaving the threads of his journalism and his life into prose and poetry in a small room down the hall in their apartment at 74 rue du Cardinal Lemoine.
And he was ambitious. There was an artistic “happening” in Paris in the 1920s — celebrated in the recent film Midnight in Paris — and Hemingway was determined to be part of it.
Originally, he had planned to go to Italy, where he had been during the war. But Hemingway had met the American writer Sherwood Anderson in Chicago.
Anderson told him that the place for a young writer isn’t Italy right now, it’s Paris,” says Penn State’s Prof. Spanier. “‘That’s where things are happening.’”
While the Star provided him the means to support himself, Spanier says, Anderson provided him letters of introduction.
Within weeks, Hemingway was dining with Gertrude Stein, Alice B. Toklas, Ezra Pound and James Joyce.
Soon, Pound was shopping Hemingway’s poems.
In the years since, Paris has become part of the Hemingway legend.
So has bullfighting — a Hemingway passion that first saw print in a front-page piece in the Star Weekly.
Hemingway had visited Madrid and Pamplona in the summer of 1923 and participated in the famous running of the bulls. Cranston gave it all the play he could.
“Bullfighting Is Not a Sport — It Is a Tragedy,” the headline read.
“That piece in the Toronto Star was his first working out in print of that material which would show up in his first major novel, The Sun Also Rises, in 1926,” says Spanier.
Today that article, and many of the nearly 200 Hemingway wrote for the Star, can be viewed — not touched — in a securely locked room, under constant supervision by a senior archivist, on the fifth floor of the JFK Presidential Library. The clippings are kept under protective plastic.
In the literary world, they are precious documents.
So in early 1923, when Hadley announced she was pregnant and preferred not to give birth in Paris, Hemingway’s return to Toronto was natural.
He had enjoyed his earlier stay there. He was highly regarded at the paper, where he had friends, and could provide his family a steady income.
Assignments from the Star had always “brought in good money,” he wrote his friend Bill Horne. But now he had to provide stability during what he called, “The First Year of the Baby.”
A steady income of $75 a week would help.
But he also confided to Gertrude Stein that he was uneasy about being a father. He was too young, he said, and did not want to leave Paris.
Hemingway decided they would live in Toronto for one year, and he lined up a Paris apartment for their return in October 1924.
The Hemingways arrived in Toronto in September 1923 and put up at the Selby Hotel on Sherbourne St.
What Hemingway did not know was that he was landing into the middle of a vicious intra-office feud between managing editor John Bone and city editor Harry Hindmarsh.
Hemingway would be caught in the crossfire.
As he explained later to a biographer in an unpublished 1952 letter, Hindmarsh “hated Bone and hated me because I was a project of John. R. Bone.”
Although Hindmarsh was technically Bone’s assistant, he had enormous clout: he was owner Joe Atkinson’s son-in-law.
Hadley’s first letter from the Selby Hotel, dated Sept. 14, 1923, was filled with optimism — and news. She told Hemingway’s parents that a “small new Hemingway” was on the way. They were sure it was a boy and due in late October or early November.
“The Star people are so keen about your son,” she wrote reassuringly. Friends at the paper couldn’t do enough. Greg Clark and his wife had arranged for their own doctor to look after her. And Greg and Ernest were heading out fishing on Saturday.
“I think we shall love many things about Toronto,” Hadley wrote.
But she also noted that Hemingway had “rushed” into work and on his very first day, Sept. 10, 1923, was sent to Kingston to cover a sensational prison break.
Hemingway’s next-day account was gripping, fast-paced and filled with compelling detail and colour, a first-class piece of journalism under pressure.
It was splashed across the front page. But Hemingway was denied a byline.
Then, things worsened.
Three weeks later, he was sent to New York to cover the arrival of former British prime minister David Lloyd George. He was reluctant to leave Hadley in their new apartment at 1599 Bathurst. She was, after all, in her last weeks of pregnancy.
Those fears were well-grounded.
As Hemingway was returning to Toronto by train on Oct. 10, 1923, from his New York assignment, Hadley gave birth to their first son, John Hadley Nicanor, at Wellesley Hospital.
“I was fine,” Hadley recalled years later. “And Bumby (John) was quite something. And then Ernest came in, in tears and sobbing because he hadn’t been there.
“That’s the kind of a guy he was . . . frightfully sensitive. It was a misty, misty occasion.”
Then, things got even worse. While in New York, Hemingway had missed a story that Hindmarsh and Atkinson thought important: the deputy mayor of New York had belittled Britain, and the Star’s readership was largely of British stock.
Hindmarsh hauled Hemingway in and dressed him down, and a shouting match erupted during which Hemingway said any work he would do for Hindmarsh would be with “the most utter contempt and hatred.”
He was on shaky ground now, he wrote Ezra Pound.
Soon Hemingway was reassigned to the Star Weekly and began plotting his return to Paris.
He had complained of staid, conservative Toronto from the day he returned.
But the legendary “Hindmarsh treatment,” as Star staffers called it, put him over the top.
Hemingway blamed Hindmarsh for working him relentlessly, for “spiking” (killing) his stories, and most pointedly, for assigning him out of town when his wife was about to give birth.
Now, he was furious at Hindmarsh, the Star, Toronto and Canada as a whole.
The country whose uniform he once wanted to wear was now “the fistulated asshole of the father of seven among Nations,” Hemingway wrote Pound.
“It is a dreadful country,” he wrote Sylvia Beach, friend and owner of the Paris bookshop Shakespeare and Company.
To Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas he wrote, “It was a bad move to come back.”
Hadley recalled later that Hemingway had told her, “If I have to stay with him (Hindmarsh), I’ll go crazy.”
Hadley replied, “Let’s leave.”
Hemingway submitted his resignation, effective Jan. 1, 1924.
They would have to break their six-month lease on the Bathurst St. apartment, for which Hemingway said in a letter to Pound they were paying $125 per month.
In a final, generous gesture, the Hemingways hosted the wedding of fellow Star writer Jimmy Cowan and his bride-to-be, Grace Williams, in the Hemingways’ apartment on Jan. 12, 1924. Hemingway was not only best man but he supplied the liquor from a local bootlegger. A Star announcement whimsically reported that the wedding had been celebrated “very quietly.”
The next day the Hemingways left from Union Station for New York, boarding the Cunard liner Antonia for France on Jan. 19.
There was, however, one more concern. The Antonia would stop at Halifax, and the Hemingways worried that police might board looking for them. They still owed between $250 and $375 in rent.
“We skipped out,” Hadley said later. “The boat did stop at Halifax, but no police came on.”
The Hemingways divorced in 1927.
A year later, John Bone died of a heart attack in the Star newsroom.
Harry Hindmarsh went on to become the most powerful man in Canadian newspapers, elected president of the Toronto Star in 1948.
Years later, Hindmarsh was reported to have said that he had “made a mistake” in the way he had dealt with Hemingway.
But Hemingway never forgave him.
“I would like to propose that Harry Hindmarsh should burn in hell,” he wrote in an unpublished letter in 1952.
The author never set foot in Toronto again.


Thursday, May 18, 2017

This too shall pass ...

So if you read any Canadian newspapers at all, you’re aware of the cultural appropriation arguments going on, with certain persons claiming that white writers, especially those in mainstream media,  cannot be sensitive enough to write about issues involving indigenous people. The suggestion from some is that unless you’re part of the oppressed group, you just don’t have enough understanding and empathy to really appreciate what it means to be oppressed. Or to truly understand the problem. The claim is that cultural appropriation is happening so much and so often that as long as we tolerate it, we encourage it.
Hmmm. I disagree. This is Canada. People are still allowed to think their own thoughts and form their own opinions.  William Shakespeare wrote about Jews living in Venice and witches in Scotland. So maybe we should ban Shakespeare too. 
These people with their faux outrage are just talk, talk, talk. They have no credibility. You don't survive in this world by sitting around pointing fingers and blaming everyone else.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Totally nuts and without reason...

Well I have to say I believe that this is the beginning of the end for Donald Trump. His decision to fire FBI Director James Comey appears to be totally without reason. Okay, so here's the problem. This guy Trump is so bizarre and out-to-lunch that he is making stupid become the new normal. So with anything he does he seems to be able to escape the scrutiny that should kick him out of office. Those poor people in the States, at least the reasonable ones, are at a loss because so many other people are putting up with this orange-tinted wacko and actually supporting him. Truly, the inmates are running the asylum.

Yum!

I think I am becoming a foodie! You know, one of those people who likes and learns so much about foods and different things. Maybe it's because spring is here and I am feeling ...better. Anyway, this week I remembered something my Dad did for me many years ago. He made a toasted sandwich with sliced apples, butter and cheddar cheese. OMG, it was so good back then and so I tried it again. It was great, only I put it on an onion bagel. I had it for breakfast with tea. Sooooo soooo goood! Try it!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Just because it is in fashion, doesn't mean it is stylish...

This is fashion? Really? Just read today about Nordstrom, a high-end retailer that is selling muddy jeans for more than $400. OMG. I have to say it. People are stupid. I am fond of mentioning to Claudette that just because something is “in fashion” doesn’t mean it has style.  
People mix those words up too much. A lot of the stuff we see in the fashion industry has no style at all. 
I was in court this morning and I noticed a lawyer wearing a nice navy blue suit. That was okay. Except he had light brown shoes with blue and white striped socks - Horizontal stripes! Okay, I blame his parents. He was a young lawyer. This poor guy might think this is fashionable, but he has shit-for-brains in the style department. 
Okay guys, here’s the rule. Navy suit goes with black shoes and dark socks. Socks must never, ever draw attention. Brown suit, khaki beige and lighter suits and you can wear brown shoes, but only if you shine them. Yes, buy a shoe brush. It falls under the category of well groomed. Lesson over. 

Monday, April 24, 2017

Ugh. Keeping mum ...

Every now and then I will joke with somebody about the things we hear in the news business. Can you keep a secret, I will ask. People's eyes will gleam and they will whisper back, Yes! Yes, I can keep a secret. Well, so can I, I tell them smugly. And then I get the nasty look LOL.
Well we came across some information today in the newsroom today that I cannot release right now. It's a news story, of course, but not an earth shattering expose or scandal. It is a very good news story for Timmins and when it is revealed ... soon, I hope ... a lot of people will be pleased.  We have to wait until the deal is done.  It's just that I like to tell people good news, but right now, I have to wait.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Westree weekend tradition ...





Was so pleased to spend time with my grandsons on the weekend helping them hone the fine art of shooting warm cans of  pop. Shake ‘em before you shoot ‘em. They explode so nicely! Even Jennifer joined the fun. I know we made quite the mess, but once the shooting was over, we cleaned up all the cans. It was nice to have some family time, watching the Leafs win, enjoying great food and fabulous company. As usual Don and Denise were perfect hosts.

I wished Claudette could have made the visit but she’s enjoying some holiday family time in Orlando, Florida. She went off with her family and grandkids to Disneyworld for 12 days! From the notes I get she seems to be having a wonderful time. I keep thinking how many times Debra has told me about that place. Who knows, maybe someday J

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

I blame the police...

 I am usually a staunch supporter of the police, but not in the case of the United Airlines flight where a person was forcibly removed from an airplane this week. I don’t think police, even so-called airport police,  should be used to enforce a corporate policy. The airport police who were called to the scene should have asked, what criminal act is taking place. Is there an actual crime underway? Is there a danger to the public? A person who disagrees with United Airlines corporate policy and who bought a ticket in good faith and was allowed to board the plane is not a criminal. He or she may have a civil complaint with United. If they refuse to leave the plane, United may seek a lawsuit against them. I think our lawmakers should re-think the idea of using police unless there is a criminal action or a danger to the public. Refusing to give up the seat you paid for is neither of those. 

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

News doesn't take holidays ...

I have often been embarrassed when friends and family members catch me for not knowing that a holiday is happening. I usually need to be reminded that this coming Friday or Monday is a holiday of some sort. I saw it happen today to a colleague working on a special news project. He had been preparing to line up some phone interviews for Friday morning. Sure enough I was close by to hear his phone call this morning to the first interview, saying “Oh what? Friday? A holiday? Ohhhh… yesss. Okay then, …”
This all goes back to journalism school where you learn several things that stay true over the years; one of them being: News never takes a holiday. 

Sunday, April 09, 2017

History is overwhelming...

This weekend is one I have thought about for some time. I was pleased to watch television Sunday to see the network coverage of the 100th anniversary of attack on Vimy Ridge and the Canadian victory there.  I have to say I was pleased with CBC coverage over CTV. This is something I had been thinking about in the past few years and I actually considered travelling to France to take part in the commemoration.I think I just wanted to return to France for a visit as well.  Like most people I am certain I would have been overwhelmed with the sense of history, but I was happy at how well the event was covered on television. I read the book by Pierre Burton last year and was both shocked and overcome with the level of incompetence of the military brass in the First World War. But then again that is looking at the event through modern eyes. I must say I was amazed at the scope of the Canadian victory, but given that the German officers were as prone to the same level of bad judgement by some British and Canadian officers it might not be surprising that common sense won the day. History is such a cruel judge, but a judge just the same.

Regardless, I was so pleased to see the thousands of young Canadians , as in high school students, who took part in the Vimy commemoration this weekend. Like the poem said, the torch has been passed. “Be yours to hold it high…”
Image Credit: Library and Archives Canada: German officers surrendered to Canadians after the battle at Vimy Ridge. 

Thursday, April 06, 2017

It's over!

What is wrong with me? I woke up this morning thinking of a life where people are open, honest, good, decent and interesting. That’s what happens when you watch too many episodes of Downton Abbey. Yes, I have been binge watching all week. It was Friday that Claudette got an e-mail from Netflix revealing that the final season was now available. Well, we could hardly wait to finish supper. So for the past few days, we plonked down on the couch, put the tea on and watched the entire final season. Of course we had love/hate relationships with all the characters, even to the point of shouting that Lady Mary is a bitch. And of course dowager Lady Violet is a saint with a sense of humour.  Last night it was the final episode. What a fabulous story. What a great television show. Claudette said she will now feel like she is missing something. As the final episode came to an end, she said “Well, they can’t leave us like that. We have to have more!” I cannot disagree.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Well done VIA!

I know it was a marketing thing, but I think VIA Rail made a brilliant move this week when it announced it was offering up youth rail passes for July for only $150 for unlimited travel in July. As most of my friends are aware, I am a huge rail fan and so I am glad VIA is making this option available for more people. I think it should be done more often and my hope is it will revive passenger rail travel. The other good thing is that it will help younger Canadians get to know their country better. I can't think of a better way to spend July than riding the rails through Canada. 
It’s funny but just last night I was out for some beers with a guy from the Globe and Mail. He is travelling to Moosonee to work on a story.  I assumed he was flying. I was pleased he decided to take the train. He said it would give him more time to meet people and talk to people. Exactly. That’s how you get good stories.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Change is good ...

I know there are people who are worried about the idea of letting refugees into Canada. One hopes they can learn to accept a little change. I believe it is a good thing to bring new people to our country. After all, our country was built by immigrants. I was pleased this week to see that a refugee family from Syria has arrived in Timmins. I wish them well.  I have very little idea of what their lives were like on the other side of the world. Let’s hope they find good lives and happiness in our country.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Hard choices

 In other news, as they say, a lot of people like myself are shaking their heads at the antics of Mr. Trump. I said Mister, because this fellow certainly is not presidential. But he has been elected, and that is the price of democracy. People can collectively make poor choices.  It is interesting because Canada is in the midst of selecting new leaders for both the Conservative and New Democratic parties. My concern is whether they are looking for a truly good leader, or merely somebody that can unseat Justin Trudeau. The idealists will say the answer is both, but I have my doubts. Our local guy is Timmins-James Bay MP Charlie Angus who is running to head the NDP. I like Charlie. He has integrity. He’s a good guy. Tough days ahead for him, for sure. I wish him the best. 

Keeping up to date ...

Jennifer sent me a text on Friday. “Question … u still alive?!” Ha ha, funny girl. But I can’t say I blame her because I was definitely out of touch for about four weeks. So I finally chatted with her Saturday night, after assuring her I responded to her text. She said she never got it. I insisted that I sent the reply, but then last night I realized that while I created a message, I never actually sent it. So much for thinking I was tech savvy enough to know how to use my phone. I wonder now why I never got answers for other texts that I figured I had sent out.
She also reminded me that I hadn’t been updating the blog. So I will stay on top of that.
Anyway, good news. Jennifer has passed her provincial exam and is indeed a Registered Nurse. They say pride is a sin, but I cannot help but be proud of what she has done. I am blessed to say at this point in my life my children give me happiness.
I am proud of myself too. Claudette and I were out shopping for dinner. I convinced her she would like pan fried pork chops. I wasn’t sure because she can be as fussy as I am with food. But happily the chops turned out just fine and she enjoyed the mango chutney that gave them a nice flavour.

For dessert we had something we both remember from out childhood … baked apples. Oh my goodness, they turned out nice and soft, but not mushy. We had them with a stuffing of brown sugar, butter, flour and granola. It was great! And the vanilla ice cream was fabulous. 

Monday, February 06, 2017

An amazing football game.

Well a lot of friends think it is strange that I rarely watch NFL football but I make a point of watching the Superbowl. It was even a funnier a few years back when I showed up at my favourite roadhouse, only to have some friends laughing and pointing at me for showing up on game day. They hadn’t seen me in ages. The best part was when I scratched a beer ticket and won a gas barbecue! Ha ha. I watched the Superbowl game on Sunday from start to finish and was amazed. Claudette and I cooked up a bunch of game day snacks and really got into the game. A couple of times she even hollered at the Patriots defence for allowing so many wide open passes. So yes, I was cheering for the Patriots, but it sure got quiet at halftime. I kept thinking Brady was holding onto the ball too long. That’s when I said to Claudette “sometimes you will be amazed at how crazy things happen in the closing minutes of the game.” And that’s why it was fun to watch the final minutes of Sunday’s game. I could barely believe what I was seeing. And then in overtime, it was all Brady. No wonder the guy has won Superbowl five times now.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Way to go Jennifer!

So pleased to get the most amazing news from daughter Jennifer this morning. People close to me know that Jenn is a cancer survivor. She endured a harrowing and horrible time in 2009 and 2010 when it discovered she had a rare form of leukemia. Jenn was confined to hospital for months. She could not walk. She endured chemo-therapy, radiation, spinal surgery. But she fought back. She survived. She learned to walk again, going from a wheelchair, to a walker to a cane and finally back on her own two feet. Four years ago, Jenn set out on another journey. She was so impressed with the loving care she got at the Sudbury cancer centre that Jenn decided to become a nurse. 
In December, we celebrated the fact that Jenn graduated with honours for her B.Sc. Nursing degree. This morning Jenn called to let me know she has been hired to work at the Sudbury hospital, Health Sciences North. Yep, she is going back to work in Oncology, helping the people the way she was helped. 
I am so, so proud of this amazing young woman! I am also more that pleased with the incredible love and support Jenn got from her husband Scott and her boys Tyler and Nathan. 

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Such good news ...

I have to say I am pleased to hear that 2016 was a special year for mining safety in Ontario. I am working on a story today about the fact that 2016 was the first year in many, many years that no one died in an underground mining accident in Ontario.
That is such good news. Over the years, I have done too many stories of men dying in the mines. And just a couple of years ago, I had to do the story of the first ever woman to be killed on the job underground. As a reporter, as a former miner and mine rescue man, I hope we are in a new era and the trend continues.

Sunday, January 08, 2017

Life is good

New Year’s was great this year because Claudette and I were back together. We first met just before new year's several years ago. Time passes, things change and we are together again. It’s all good. I think the best part is that she knows me better than I know myself in most cases and doesn’t put up with my usual bullsh*t. So I have to say 2017 is going to be a good year. 

So happy new year and other stuff...

Okay so 2017 is here and by my reckoning that means I have been blogging now for 10 complete years. This January marks my 11th year! I confess, I am not writing in here as often as I should. Some days I think, who cares? But then I remember that part of the exercise here is to write about things I want to remember. Not that I have any memory problems! LOL. Plus it’s nice to share the good things that happen.
Christmas Day, like most Christmas celebrations in the past year, was at Scott and Jennifer’s place. Even before Terry died, we were celebrating at Jenn’s I think mainly because of our grandchildren. It just made the whole celebration that much more fun.
So this past Christmas was different. We exchanged no gifts at all. That was Jenn’s idea because we had decided to spend a week on a family vacation in Punta Cana. It cost a bucket of money, but it was the best thing.  For years I would tell people I had no interest at all of going to a southern climate and sitting on the beach. And it was true. But I had no idea how much I would enjoy it.  And going to an all-inclusive resort is the only way to go. I am sure I will find time to do it again.

I think the best part was going out to a different restaurant each night and spending time with the whole family. There was Jennifer and Neil and myself, Jenn’s husband Scott and his parents Don and Denise, and the grandchildren, Victoria, Tyler and Nathan. In the photos below we have Denise, Jenn and Victoria. Then there is another nice pic with Denise and Jenn, and then a pic of Scott and Jenn. 

Coming home to Northern Ontario and Timmins was nice, but the weather was indeed a bit of a letdown after spending a week with blue skies, warm breezes and sunshine.
But it is good to be back at work and back into the groove of covering local news stories and staying in touch with what is going on in town.
I should mention one of the best things that happened on our vacation was Jennifer getting news back from the school that she has completed her nursing education. Yep, Jenn has an honours degree B.Sc. in Nursing. Woohoo. I was proud to stand up at dinner one night and make a toast in Jennifer’s honour. We are all super proud of her.
The worst thing about the vacation was the night I was awakened with a huge pain in my right kidney. I knew immediately. I was passing a kidney stone. It has happened to me before. That kind of pain is extreme and I suspected it the day before when my urine looked pink. There was nothing to be done but to endure it. I didn’t know the resort had a physician on duty 24/7. And I had full insurance. But I sort of went into a pain trance and fell asleep about two hours later. I was better the next day and thanks to some heavy duty Advil, things got better.
In the photos below, Neil and Scott enjoyed some tequila, Jennifer and I in a photo at the beach, and that was me showing off the bottle of champagne they put in my room.


2017 is going to be a good year in Timmins I predict. There has been a lot of fuss in Timmins over the fact that the city is planning a huge celebration for the Canada 150 anniversary of Confederation. It will be an eight-day festival of fireworks and music. Mayor and council are taking a lot of flak over it, because the city is putting up $3.5-million to make it work. I think in the long run, people will see that the city finally had some guts to step up and do something different and exciting. Complainers will always complain. And even if the event is a winning success, complainers will still find something to whine about. Anyway, check out the website: starsandthunder.com
Facebook is one of the reasons I think. It was supposed to a fun thing, to see how other people are having fun in their lives. There was a time you could just walk away from the whiners, but now they get in your face every day. LOL.
In the window of life, it’s always nice to look for the good things. But then again there are always those people who come and smear shit all over the window. The price of democracy is that everyone has a voice.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

First ever southern vacation trip...

I have never been on a southern vacation before. It seems like such an ordeal to plan and carry it through, but now that I am here, it sure seems worth it.

 Wow, what a couple of crazy days we’ve had. The drive from Sudbury to Toronto Thursday afternoon was scary. We hit a bad snowstorm at Parry Sound and Scott had to follow a tractor trailer because he could barely see the highway. We got into Toronto around 9 p.m. We got the hotel room dumped our bags and then set off for dinner at a place called Jack Astor’s. It was nice and we were so glad to have a drink and relax.
Then we got back to the hotel, had another drink and decided to go to bed. Good thing. I think I had one whiskey too much. 3:00 a.m. and the hotel door opens. Hello Neil! My son was back from a rock concert and hanging out with friends and had to pay $50 in a cab to get from downtown Toronto to the airport Crown Plaza Hotel.
So we were all up and showering, shaving and re-packing the luggage at 5:30 a.m. Got down to the lobby by 6:07 a.m. to find a huge crowd of hotel guests all trying to catch the same shuttle to the airport as we were. So we were a bit disappointed for a minute. Then the drive came back into the lobby, saying he had room for four more! That was us. We were right at the front of the line for the next shuttle but he took us in the early shuttle. Lucky for us. We got into Pearson Airport just before 7:00 a.m. to find another crowd of Sunwing passengers all clamouring for registration. Well I bought the elite tickets so I got through quickly, but Neil, Scott and Jenn had to wait for the rest of famjam to show up to get through security together. That’s when the fun began. Sunwing originally sent us to gate B20, but because of the storm, some planes did not get back to Toronto on time, so they sent us to gate B27. The thing is, they would not admit there was going to be a delay, so we rushed like hell to the new gate. Then Sunwing announced a new gate again, this time gate C33. Again, more than 200 passengers rushed like hell to get to the new gate. Thank God for gray hair. As an almost senior citizen, they put me on one of those golf carts trolleys and gave me a free ride to the new gate. I gave the driver, a guy named Vincenze,  a five dollar tip!
So we all finally hook up at gate C33. All the family was there so we charge up our phones, grab some coffees, some bagel BLTs and have a nice little breakfast together. It was almost 9 a.m. and the flight was scheduled to leave at 9:15 a.m. Something told us this would not happen. The plane had not arrived at the gate, said the lady at the reception desk. Suddenly there was another announcement. All passengers with tickets for Sunwing Punta Cana please be advised of a gate change. This time we all rushed to gate B41 expecting to see our plane. No it was not there. So we sat for nearly three hours and finally we were able to board the plane just before noon. Once we got airborne, the flight was four hours to the Dominican Republic and then it was more than an hour getting through customs and immigration. There was also roughly an hour of sitting on the taxiway at Punta Cana airport waiting our turn to disembark I should have mentioned earlier.  By the time we got to the hotel for check-in it was close to 8 p.m. That’s okay, everyone showered, got fresh and we hit the dining room. OMG it was so good. Did I mention that Cesar, the hotel guy, gave us all a President√© Cervesas beer on the bus ride in from the airport.
Anyway, after supper, which included substantial amounts of seafood, salad, pasta, and sushi and more beer, we decided we needed a walk. But not before stopping at the bar in the main lobby where we all loaded up on some tropical cocktails… you know the type, double shots of rum and tequila and juice and fruity things. Well it was an excellent tropical evening with a soft breeze blowing in from the ocean.
So the boys had the bright idea of going down to watch the waves crashing in on the beach. It was excellent to stand there and watch the moon rise and smell the fresh salt air and the warm gentle wind.

I couldn’t take it. Took off the shoes and sock and decided to dance in the surf. It was a perfect day one of my first ever trip on a southern vacation. 

Monday, December 05, 2016

What can you believe

This is such an issue right now because so many “fake news” organizations are springing up on the 'net and people are posting fake news as a joke, or sometimes to deliberately spread misinformation. It drives us crazy at work because ordinary folks really have no idea of the work that goes into a story. They ask inane questions about how truthful the real news is. They have no idea that 75 per cent of our time is spent gathering information and fact checking. You can’t imagine how many times we have stopped a story because we cannot verify the information on time.  Of course if Justin Trudeau says something that isn’t true, we won’t call him a liar but we will present correct information and let people judge. We recently ran an environmental story where we presented numbers from an environmental report. One woman on Facebook said she disagreed with the numbers. That’s fine. That’s an issue between you and the environment ministry. So of course she goes on Facebook to say the story is wrong and that our reporting is wrong. OMG, this is not about winning a coffee shop argument. This is about facts. Somebody was obviously sniffing too many fumes in the hair salon. You almost wish her grade five teacher would show up at her doorstep, rap her knuckles and tell her smarten up.
I’ve got to write more later about disagreeing. Just because you disagree, doesn’t mean you’re right and the other guy is wrong, or that you’re a better person. It just mean’s you disagree. 

Monday, November 14, 2016

Breaking news. Really?

I am getting old. Maybe I am getting cranky. I heard a local news story this week described as “Breaking News!”  It wasn’t. Yeah it was local news, but breaking? Nahhhh. I remember when the term breaking news was something HUGE.  Everywhere you go now, everyone is talking breaking news.
We are only a few days away from November 22. That’s the anniversary of President Kennedy being shot to death. THAT was breaking news.
Last month we had the anniversary of the Yom Kippur war. I remember being in J-school and seeing the BULLETIN come across the wire. October 6, 1973. Back then the wire machine was a big Telex contraption. Ding, Ding, Ding, Ding, Ding, Holy crap. Five bells! It was the first time I had seen a bulletin coming in. OMG that was a word that gave goosebumps to news junkies. You knew some heavy shite was happening. Turns out that Israeli was inches away from being defeated by the Arab states. Israeli needed more jets and bombs to fight Egypt and Syria. They appealed to the U.S. for help. Nixon and Kissinger refused to help. Israel’s Prime Minister Golda Meir was tougher than both of them. She positioned an Israeli air force pilot into the cockpit of a jet fighter that sat on a runway ready to roll at a second’s notice. It was loaded with a nuclear bomb. Meir told the U.S. that if Israel came any closer to being defeated, she would destroy Egypt. The U.S. sent new jets.
THAT was breaking news. 

Sunday, November 13, 2016

A nice tradition...

I was pleased to see a tradition continue this year in Timmins at the Cenotaph.  People who attended the Remembrance Day ceremony were placing their poppy on the steps of the cenotaph once the ceremony has ended. It’s a nice personal tribute I think. I am not sure how or when the tradition started. I first noticed it a few years ago and I am pleased that people do this. It was just as pleasing to see so many young people showing up at the ceremony, although it was cool with winds gusting up to 40 kilometres. Well done.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Tea is good eh

Okay, I am calm now. I can write about things without flipping out over the U.S. election results.
It was a good day. We’ve have had a couple of nice mild days in Timmins, a bit overcast, but the temps were warm, around 10 Celsius.
We have a few nice new coffee bars in the downtown area, which I think adds a pretty nice local flavour to our city. Yes, I still enjoy McDonald’s coffee and a Timmies dark roast, but today I got a nice cup of Red Rose for only 75-cents. That’s all they charge at the Coffee Warehouse, because you serve yourself. You can also pick and choose from a huge selection of Keurig coffee pods, and other tea-like infusions. 
They also have amazing muffins, cookies, sandwiches and other foods. I drive myself crazy walking by their pasta bar, it smells so incredibly good. The new shop is located in a former clothing shop, so the decor is pretty rich and upbeat. They kept a lot of the expensive wood paneling. Looks nice. 
So I think I have had only ten cups of coffee in the past month. I am definitely on the tea thing now. I don’t know if that is better for me or what, … but I don’t pee as much LOL. 

Sunday, November 06, 2016

Fish and potatoes...

So we had a really nice supper Saturday of cod fish and potatoes, with some carrots and broccoli. I say nice because I was comfortable with eating the fish. In recent years, I have discovered that some of the traditional Canadian brands for fish are no longer Canadian. We were looking at buying some sole or haddock and there was that familiar picture of Captain Highliner on the label. But after reading the fine print, it revealed this fish was Product of China. So no, I will not eat fish from China. I do not trust their food industry at all. And why the hell is Highliner selling Chinese fish? We are being told, as older people, to eat more healthy foods. So I try, given that I usually like a healthy glass of whisky now and then.  After searching a bit more, we came across a European label that features fish caught wild in the North Atlantic near Norway. At least, that’s where the cod was caught. It is call Findus.
Well, let me tell you it tasted just like the nice Cod I used to eat when I was a kid. By the way, the potatoes were excellent. We mashed ‘em by using an electric mixer, the same kind you use when making cakes or muffins. Just add a bit of Philadelphia cream cheese and they taste fabulous. Just sayin’.

Saturday, November 05, 2016

Could it really happen?

I think I am like a lot of folks these days, living in dread of whether Donald Trump will actually be elected to office. I don’t believe he is a stupid as he has been portrayed, but he is certainly not as smart as he might be. Certainly, he is not presidential in the sense that George Bush Sr. or JFK presented themselves. Mr. Trump is a disappointment, as is the Republican Party. 
What is truly disheartening is reading the stories in the U.S. media of how ordinary people seem so ready to accept this person and the things he stands for. I don’t see how people can overlook his obvious sins and be ready to vote for him. I think also there is an underlying current of people being against the idea of a woman being president. Come on. This is 2016. I also think there is a backlash against Obama. I think a lot of American citizens are still so upset at having had a black president, they will thumb their nose at the establishment by voting in Trump. And that’s fine. But I am still having a hard time accepting the level of popularity that Trump seems to be enjoying. I hope I am wrong.
Oh well, we will know by Tuesday night.
By the way, Tuesday is Ronald’s 60th birthday. What a milestone for my little brother. No more war zones for that guy. Not unless somebody talks down about the Toronto Maple Leafs or Miller Genuine Draft.
And yes we are all getting older. Big brother Gary will be 65 in December.

Speaking of sports favourites, I can truly say I was more than pleased to see the Chicago Cubs win the World Series. I was never a rabid Cubs fan, ever. But when Cleveland beat the the Blue Jays, I could not cheer for Cleveland so I figured I would have to cheer for Chicago. Ask Claudette. We sat in her living room on more than one occasion with the TV blaring and me shouting at the plays. 

Friday, October 07, 2016

On being civil ...

Okay this is a rant, but if you know me, it will be civilized. I hope. I have noticed in recent times, especially with social media, that there is a spirit of meanness that runs through a lot of the comments on things like Facebook and Twitter.
This is especially true in Timmins when people get upset by decisions made by city government. Okay, we get it, you are not happy.  But the constant whining and name-calling is really getting out of hand.
I am getting so tired of it that I am getting close to shutting down any participation in social media at all.
I have been blogging here now for more than 10 years, and I do try to present my own rants and points of view in a civil fashion, even though there are time I get peed off.
I just think that before people hit the “send” button, they should take a breath and reconsider their words.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

The sound of jets...

I was not pleased recently to read of, and listen to, reports in the Toronto media of people being upset with the annual air show at the Canadian National Exhibition. Their contention is that the sound of military jets is the sound of oppression for many refugees. There are claims that the sound of jets is the sound of hell raining down on people who had experienced first hand the terror of living in a war zone. Okay, I can understand that. But welcome to Canada, the land of freedom and tolerance. This is where we choose to let others live and let live.  If you don’t like the sound of military jets, fine. Don’t listen. Tune it out. Ignore it. You’re in Canada. The chance of a military jet raining down terror on the population here is quite remote. If you want to live in Canada, get used to other people living their lives too. We Canadians are made of sterner stuff than getting upset at the sound of a military jet.
Besides, I come from a military family. I grew up with the sound of jets. I know that jets are also the sound of freedom, when those jets are deployed against tyrants in other parts of the world. Yes, Canadian warplanes have done their share of raining hell down on the bad guys. Sorry if that offends, but hey, you want to be a Canadian, then get used to other people having different opinion. Jets are the sound of redemption when our troops are pinned down or trapped by the enemy. When our jets are sent in on a ground support mission, it means our troops have a better chance of coming home from a dangerous mission.
I know some people might not like that, but here in Canada we have values that override your personal opinions. So maybe it’s time to consider how others think and learn to go along and get along.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Complaining, nicely

Sometimes you have to complain. I was paying my bills this morning when I noticed the cost of my digital subscription to the New York Times was more than $25! When I signed up last year, it was only $12.94 a month. I called the 800 number and was greeted by a pleasant customer service call-centre person. After a brief and good-natured chat, where I said I would have to quit the service. she offered to renew my digital subscription and chopped the price back down to about $10 a month for the next year.  Nice, very nice.

Monday, September 05, 2016

A perfect Northern Ontario weekend...

Well the Labour Day weekend was one of the best times so far this summer. Claudette and I drove down to Westree for a visit. Who knew that we would end up playing Texas Horseshoes?  It was more fun that I expected. I loved spending so much time with Tyler and Nathan, who haven’t yet learned how to stop growing tall!
Don, Jennifer and Scott got out to do some serious fishing. And I mean serious. Look at those pickerel. Jenn caught the five-pound monster on the right, out of Opikinimika Lake. We had an amazing fish fry at the camp Saturday night. Don and Denise were the usual masters of hospitality. Supper was excellent. An evening around the bonfire was perfect.

We also got a tour of Denise’s garden. I was impressed. Along with her many other talents, Denise has a green thumb. I was pleased as well when she donated a couple a fresh turnips. Claudette and I cooked them up with some mashed potatoes and cabbage rolls when we got back to Timmins Sunday night. Wow, I amazed at how often I forget how good it is to have real food, fresh food.
And I know Jennifer is reading, so here in the info on the wine. It’s a French Red and you will love it:


Sunday, August 21, 2016

Tragically Hip concert, so emotional ...

Still buzzing after last night’s concert performance by the Hip. It’s hard to say exactly how great it felt to be with friends to see the final show on CBC. Claudette and I had planned to go to the special concert broadcast in the park in Timmins, but we were at a family gathering of sorts at Marie and Moe’s place. Had a great dinner and then the rain came. It poured and poured. We all moved to the rec room. There was easily 30 people in the room and when the concert began, we were pumped. The concert was everything we expected and more. Especially when they opened with Fifty Mission Cap, the story of Timmins hockey great Bill Barilko.  When Gord Downie began singing Fiddler’s Green, I could barely believe it. Fiddler’s Green refers to folklore about a better life in the afterlife … like he was facing his own mortality and having the courage to sing about it. I was in tears! The best part was being in the room with people who truly enjoyed the concert. I will never forget last night. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

I use it every day!

At first glance, it looks like a cute little twin-lens reflex camera.  On closer inspection it is a very clever little pencil sharpener with a unique design. Jenn got this for me at Christmas and at first I thought it would be an ornament on my desk. I use pencils every day and I am fussy about them being sharp. So yes, I use this neat thingy every day and I am glad to have it. Who thinks up stuff like this?

Monday, August 15, 2016

In praise of home cooked food ...

We’ve had some hot weather in Timmins lately. Hot enough that it saps my appetite and I do indeed lose interest in cooking. It is so much easier to order a pizza or grab some take-out burgers. So it was quite a treat this weekend when Claudette outdid herself with a fabulous roast beef dinner. Potatoes, carrots, home bottled beets, fresh bread and even horse radish. (Wow, the beets were amazingly tasty.) It was made even better by a bottle of Pinot Noir. So of course we could not eat it all. Sunday night rolled around and the beef dinner became beef stew. How could I say no!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Just stuff...

The Olympics have become interesting to watch because so many Russian athletes have been banned from participating. I wonder if this will become an issue at some point in the future, when people claim that the games are no longer truly representative of the world’s best because so many missing athletes cannot compete. On the other hand, I wonder if the IOC will at some point declare all the Russian medals won at Sochi in 2014 to be null and void because of the doping scandal uncovered by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).
It is sad to think that this is what international sport has become.

I sat down last Friday and told myself how much I like Northern Ontario. That’s because I was with my friend Claudette at a pre-wedding celebration in Sudbury, sitting in a backyard, with several other folks just enjoying their company, although I had not met most of them before. I could have been in any backyard in Timmins or Kirkland Lake or Chapleau on a summer evening. I like to think that Northern Ontario folks are especially relaxed and welcoming. Anyway, the weather was warm, a light breeze kept the bugs away and the people were just so friendly.

I am getting more concerned about Donald Trump, his comments, his attitude and his seemingly unstable personality. I was especially disturbed by his comment that Second Amendment enthusiasts (right-to-bear-arms advocates) might to be able to take care of Hilary Clinton and her choice of Supreme Court judges. Wow, that is a bizarre comment. Absolutely bizarre.