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Monday, December 29, 2008

The best Christmas...

It's Monday morning and I am enjoying another day off. It's nice to be home, but I have to admit that this Christmas at Jenn's place was just one of the best ever. Maybe it was the fact that we all managed to get together, despite the weather and then enjoy each other's company. I felt lazy because I had absolutely nothing to do but sit back and enjoy the time. All I had to do was eat and drink and get hugs and kisses when we went visiting. The food was fabulous and the whiskey was fine, but I think I caught a little cold from somebody. There were some funny moments. We visited one home where the host asked what I'd like to drink. I held up my thumb and forefinger closely together and said "just a whiskey with one ice cube, please". He came back with a full tumbler of whiskey ... and one ice cube. Good thing Don was driving.
Jenn and I even managed a nice phone call with Neil on Christmas Day. He's in Vancouver and was heading off to enjoy what he called "an orphan's Christmas" with several of his friends. Neil even bragged they had a nice 30-pound turkey. But since he's an avowed vegetarian, I hope he got to enjoy some of the stuffing.
Well, I tackled the driveway this morning. It took an hour to get rid of all the snow. I will have to tackle some housework today because Jenn and Scott are arriving Wednesday to celebrate the New Year in Timmins.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Finally back home in Timmins after a fabulous visit with Scott & Jennifer and the boys in Sudbury. What an eventful week. Take a close look at my old beak there. It’s still a bit swollen and bruised from my adventure with Jenn’s storm door last night. I even managed to get a few cuts. (click the photo) I was coming back to the house after taking the kids skating and it was raining. So once the kids got back into the house, I wasn’t paying full attention to the storm door, which was a one-piece all-glass door. I thought the door was open when I barged right through it! Luckily the glass was safety glass and it shattered into thousands of tiny pieces… but I still got a few cuts on my hands, scalp, face and even one cut on my elbow! Nothing serious, thank goodness.
Today was fun. I was able to get out to Nathan’s hockey game today and witness his first official minor hockey goal. Nathan was quite pleased and it was nice that the whole family was there to see the goal and cheer for him.
The week was also great in terms of the excellent food. Oh my god, I can't believe I ate so much. Denise (Jenn's mother in law) brought some excellent Christmas pastries and an amazing jar of picked eggs. I think that's all I ate for three days. But it was soooo good.
The drive home from Sudbury took several hours. Jennifer called me on the cell phone to advise that the highway had been closed at the Watershed. The sun was still shining, so I pressed on. Within an hour it was obvious that winter was in control. The plows had not yet passed and the roads weren’t that slippery, but just so packed with snow that you couldn’t drive any faster than 60 K/ph. When I got to the Watershed, there were no roadblocks, but there had been a power failure. Not able to get coffee, I pressed on. The driving was very slow and tiring, four-wheel drive, second gear. Twice I saw vehicles in the ditch. I got to Highway 101 at Timmins and that’s where police had indeed set up a roadblock. There had to be more than fifty vehicles there, mostly transports, waiting for the highway to open.
They seem surprised to see me coming through. The police officer at the roadblock said a snowplow was about 30 minutes behind me.
Oh well, it has been a long day. I am so tired. I am hitting the sack shortly. It's too quiet here at home. I was just getting used to the sound of the kids laughing, shouting, fighting, crying and laughing again. I miss them already. I am lucky though.. we spent hours together talking, laughing, shopping, eating chocolate cake, playing games, telling silly stories and laughing some more. I am so blessed.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Lazy holiday time.

I got tired today of being lazy and eating rich foods and drinking Baileys. Today was a shopping day with the kids, so Tyler, Nathan, Victoria and myself jumped into the truck and drove to the New Sudbury Centre. That's where each of the kids grabbed a shopping cart, - yup they each took a cart, - and pushed it all around the Dollar Store to buy stuff with some of their Christmas cash. It was fun. I actually had more fun with the kids this morning in the driveway. The weather was so mild that I was out there in my housecoat and pyjamas playing frisbee and then we played for awhile with the remote control toy truck, driving it through the slush! It was almost lunchtime and there I was in the driveway, slippers and jammies, playing with the kids.
I can't believe how mild the weather was compared to earlier this week in Timmins when I got frostbite on my fingers. Christmas Day was perfect. Sunny and mild. The kids were all about snowshoeing before lunch, and then they were skating. I think the warm weather is my fault. Santa came through with my new Canada Goose parka, reputed to be the warmest parka in the world. I was looking forward to testing it out in the ultra-cold weather, but no such luck. Jennifer tried the parka on as you can see in the photo below.
I was sleeping-in Christmas morning, but my room was next to the kids' room so I heard them getting up and checking out the gifts, when I snapped sone photos.(see the top photo here)
It was a fun Christmas morning and the kids could barely contained their excitement. I think the best laugh was when we could hear Nathan hollering urgently, but no one could see him... that's when we realized he had climbed behind the Christmas tree and was lost in the tangle of branches and gifts.
Jennifer made the morning a bit more enjoyable as she made the rounds with a pot of fresh coffee and a bottle of Baileys. It was an absolutely perfect Christmas Day with Jennifer and Scott and the boys; Christine, Demetrios and Victoria from Whitby and Don and Denise from Westree.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

So this is Christmas Eve...

I love this time of year. Everyone's in such a good mood eh. I was in the line-up at the liquor store in Timmins yesterday...Oh my god, what a line-up... but everyone was joking and laughing. At one point, one fellow hollered "hey why don't we open a few and pass 'em around...?" The liquor store staff looked nervous for a few moments. I can just imagine how busy it will be there today.
It's early morning and I am having my coffee. I awoke before 5:00... but there's no way I could go back to bed. Pretty soon, I will load the truck and get ready for the drive south. We had some snow so it should take about four hours. The drive should be nice and quiet. I hope. The highway should be in good shape. If not, I have discovered there is a logging road that runs south from Timmins down to Matachewan, then there's a connecting road southeast to Elk Lake, then west to the Watershed and then south to Sudbury.... Yeah right, I should arrive by New Year's.
Got all the wrapping done last night. I ran out of Scotch tape and had to use heavy packing tape for some gifts.
I always think I didn't get enough gifts, but I think the real reason is that we all have so much it's difficult to buy for people. I can't wait to see the fun that Tyler and Nathan, my grandsons, will have tomorrow morning.
Tyler called me at work yesterday, just to remind me that I have to visit him and Nathan at Christmas. I was laughing so hard.
I also got so many nice Christmas Cards this year. With Facebook and e-mail, you'd think Christmas Cards would be obsolete... but they're still so darn nice to get. So thank you for those.
I checked the truck a while ago. New bush tires. Snowshoes, Survival kit, blankets, extra parka, compass, GPS unit, CDs (there is no radio signal between Timmins and Sudbury!. I am such a Boy Scout eh. Tyler reminded me of one more thing... I gotta buy a chocolate cake...that's what we're having for breakfast on Christmas Day.
Merry Christmas everyone.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Other things

Some clown jumped on the hood of my truck today. Really. Click the photo. She was part of the firefighter’s annual candy run, where they drive through the streets each winter and give out candies to the kids in return for donations for the food bank.

I dropped by Tim Horton’s today. Tim’s makes you polite. There are two doors to go through to get inside, or outside. On the way in, I met another fellow coming out. He held his door for me, and I held my door for him. We were about two metres apart. I said “you’ve carrying coffee and stuff, I’ve got the door.” So he came forward. On the way out, I ran into a teenager… Same thing happened. He smiled and held his door for me. It’s a good thing to hold doors for people.

Dropped by the Book Bin after coffee. I bought five new books. That should keep me going for awhile. I’ve read four books so far in December. I don’t think I miss TV at all. Well sometimes when I get together with people and they talk about stuff on TV, I think I am missing out.

More good news, I was chatting with Jennifer today about spending Christmas with her gang and she revealed some nice news. Tyler scored his first goal in minor hockey today. Woohoo for Tyler!

Winter has officially arrived.

Happy winter! Yup, It arrived at 7:04 this morning. Minus 28 here in Timmins. Windchill minus 39. But that will improve... Environment Canada says it will warm up this afternoon to a high of minus 25. I will be out and about. It's gonna be a nice day.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Good reading.

One of the good things about the net is the fact that it has so much FREE online stuff. I am referring to magazines and newspapers. There was a time you'd have to spend hours in the library or make a trip to a specialty news store to get this stuff. I have bookmarked a couple of new websites that are great. One is for The New Yorker magazine, which has a very funny section where you get to insert the caption for their cartoon. The magazine has some good writers, but its a bit snooty overall. Pretty political too. There is also another website for the New York Magazine, which is totally different. It's all about pop culture and street level New York. Still, it's interesting reading. It's a good way to blow off a Saturday morning and ignore housework. A steam hot pot of tea and peanut butter cookies helps out too. : )

Friday, December 19, 2008

Photo ethics.


Some days it's a struggle. How ethical is it to touch up a photo? The issue is an urgent one in the news business because a Reuters staff photographer was fired a year or so ago, for making an explosion in Lebanon look worse than it was by enhancing the smoke and flames using Adobe Photoshop. This week I shot a local news photo -- nothing special really -- but afterwards the guy mentioned that he was embarrassed about a nasty cold sore on his lip. So I fixed it. And yeah, I wondered if it was the right thing to do. It's not a national story, but it's the principal of the thing.
When I worked in broadcasting, we would edit audio tapes when a person stuttered too much so as to save them from feeling embarrassed. I think that applies in this case.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Too much stuff!

I am not sure whether to laugh or snarl... I am reading more and more about the practice of "re-gifting". That's where somebody takes a gift they have received, and obviously don't need, and gives it to another person for Christmas. I can't imagine doing that. I think my mother taught me better. But, I think it was done to me once, at an office gift exchange where you reach under the office Christmas Tree and grab a gift. I grabbed a bottle of wine, so the next person had the choice of taking the wine or grabbing another gift. They took the wine, so I was free to reach for another gift. I did. There was beautiful wrapping on the box. I opened it. It was a vinyl steering wheel cover. What the hell is with that? - LOL - Of course nobody tried to take away my lovely new steering wheel cover. So i got stuck with it. I think this re-gifting thing just tells us that we have too much stuff.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Random thoughts... Sunday morning.

I am angry at myself for a rookie mistake I made yesterday. I drove out of town...
all of about 30 kilometres, for a quick shoot at a community centre. It was nice to drop in and say hi to lots of people I hadn't seen in awhile. But I forgot to re-set my wonderful cameras to automatic. I was on a shoot Friday night, where i set the cams on manual so i could do some nice outdoor shots. The outdoor shots turned out nicely (see the photo at right) but when I did the Saturday shoot, i was still in manual mode and therefore forgot to focus. Only when I got back into town, did I notice my mistake. What a rookie!

Friday night was cold... when I was outside doing the shoot I really felt it. The windchill had to be minus forties. I used my bare hands to pick up the tripod and it felt like my hands were burning, and then nothing. No feeling at all. I was afraid of frostbite, so I tucked by hands into the top of my sweater... it worked. They warmed up fast. I was near Pearl Lake and figured if it was that cold, then the ice would be safe. Actually, it was been really cold for several days. So I grabbed my snowshoes and stepped onto the ice... the snow seemed solid, I decided to leave the snowshoes on the shore and just walk on top of the snow... well that worked for about ten paces and then the snow got soft and I sank a bit. Then I smelled something.... it was that musty odour of swamp-rot, cattails and loon-shit (that's what we call it here in Northern Ontario) and then I realized there was no ice... I had broken through to the bottom of the lake. Hmmm... this is not very smart I thought. So I gently began walking backwards and got back on shore.

Another thing about the cold. I really feel it in the morning, when I get into the truck. I don't have heated seats. Some mornings it feels like I am sitting on a block of ice! And it's colder than I expected... maybe it's an age thing. So I explored the idea of getting heated seats... Well, there are a couple of wonderful shops that will do just that, they will install brand new heated seats in the trucks, for about $1,200. So guess what. I went to Wal Mart Saturday and got a nice sheepskin pad.
Cost of driving to Wal-Mart: About $26 cents.
Cost of the sheepskin pad: $11.97
The feeling on my toasty warm butt: Priceless!

I never check my mailbox. That's because Canada Post drops my mail off in a stand-up postal box beside the street, about 100 metres away. Saturday I got a Christmas card that wasn't in the mail. It was hand delivered, which seems a pretty good idea considering that Timmins is not a big place at all. But the smart thing was that the card was left by the front door, and NOT in the mailbox. But you never know...I think I will get in the habit of checking the mailbox...hmmm, maybe once or twice a month eh.

We have a new restaurant in town. Boston Pizza had a big opening last night for all the important people and friends of the owner. I was only able to go because I had to snap a few photos. The interesting part was that the new owner, a prosperous guy in his late 30s, maybe early 40s paid a nice tribute to his dad. His dad is a well-known businessman in town. But what I didn't know is that he came to Timmins in 1949, as a poor immigrant fresh off the boat from Italy, worked on the railroad and then did pick-and-shovel work in the gold mines. Eventually he got his own business and did well. Today, that family owns 18 restaurants. Nice story. The first time I ever went to Boston Pizza was with Neil, in Sarnia. They had a promotion called "Drink your Dad's beer night". They were selling beer at $2 a bottle for Labatt's 50, Carling Redcap and O'Keefe Ale. Funny eh.

Speaking of Neil, about every two or three days I get a notice from his Facebook account, where somebody has posted a new photo of him. In every picture, there's Neil in some new bar in Vancouver, with a beer, a new lady and a big grin. What's THAT all about?

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Politics

It was interesting to watch the news of the political rallies held across the country Saturday. Whatever your political views, I think it's a good thing that more and more younger Canadians are taking an interest in their government. Interesting times eh.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Busy December so far...

No Kidding. This Ottawa nonsense has rebounded into every little small town newspaper in Canada, including ours. Oh well, it keeps me busy. I won't get too political... but I saw the video on Stephane Dion the other night. It was terrible... in this day and age, one must be able to get the message out. I think Dion should check in with Osama Bin Laden.... Bin Laden lives in a friggen cave and he puts out better videos that the Liberals.
Happy Birthday this week to my fave big brother Gary. Everything cool Gary? "yup" Any problems? "nope".
Today is telethon day in Timmins. Gonna drop by the TV station tonight and urge people to spend a few bucks for the poor. Winter has arrived... I will be digging out the snowshoes this morning. No... I am NOT that energetic... I am just gonna put them in the truck on a "just in case" basis.