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Monday, January 26, 2009

Only in Timmins...

I was checking out the schedule this morning for the South Porcupine winter carnival which is on next month. The schedule shows 10:00 p.m. on February 12, and says "Skinny at Jakes". I had to laugh. Only in Timmins would anyone have any idea of what that means. Skinny is a very well-known local entertainer and Jakes is a popular pub. Better plan to get there early. If Skinny is on stage, it's gonna be a good time.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Death in the family

We lost a sweetheart of a guy this weekend. Mike Campbell, 49, died in an auto crash in Manitoba on Saturday. He was driving back to Timmins to be with his wife Sue, Terry's eldest sister. Mike always lived life to the top and he never slowed down. He came into our lives years ago when he rode his Harley into Timmins to get a job in the mines, years before riding a Harley was fashionable. Mike never worried about fashion. He lived life his way, never held back and always had a big smile for his friends and family. Yes, we are sure going to miss him.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Another hike...

Another hike today, this time across Pearl Lake and up the north shore to get a close-up look at the McIntyre headframe. It was surrounded by deep snow and the whole place was deathly quiet. It looks huge the closer you get and I wondered if this is how it looked back in the winter of 1927 when it was first built on top of No. 11 shaft. By the way, Stompin' Tom wrote a song about this place back in 1965. It was called Fire in the Mine... fire burned for 30 days.

More than a thousand men were laid off. Draegermen were brought in from as far away as Kirkland Lake and Sudbury to fight the fire. Only one life was lost. Interesting times those were. Anyway, I hiked along to the north side of the headframe ... the side that people rarely see. You can see my snowshoe trail in the lower left side of the photo. It was a good workout.
I didn't mind it, except that when I am really hoofin' along I sweat too much. My toque got wet with sweat and then it froze solid on my head because it was so darn cold out today (minus 34 windchill). I didn't dare take it off until I got back to the truck. It was uncomfortable, but I figured frozen hair would be worse, so I just put up with it.
And just so you know, this month marks the third year that I have been blogging. Jeez, you'd think I would run out of things to yak about by now.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Another blog!

Oh well, I knew it wouldn't last forever ... I am not the only Blogger out there. Yeahhhh, I know it's hard to believe, but today I found another blog. This one is in the States at some place called The White House. Check it out here: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/

Goosebumps eh

I don't know what you're doing right now, but I've joined millions of others around the world this moment to watch CNN.com and the swearing-in and speech of President Obama. Amazing stuff. This is a "where were you when..." moment. And yes, it gives me goosebumps.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Good words...

Have you had a frisson lately? You may have, but not known it. I didn't know until this week what a frisson was. I was reading a novel and as the detective walked down the dark hallway with his gun in his hand, he felt a frisson as he passed an open door. That sent me running for the dictionary to learn that a frisson is a "shiver, quiver, shudder, thrill of sudden excitement". I guess it's a good word, but I don't think I can use it in newspaper writing. It's not the kind of word we use everyday. Hmmm.... I can imagine the frisson when I get into the the line-up at the Tim Horton's drive-through!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

On the cover of the Rolling Stone...

Lots of excitement about President-elect Obama these days. It's going to be an interesting week. I am sure looking forward to his inaugural speech. I noticed that Obama's image is becoming iconic. I was lucky to grab several copies of the Rolling Stone magazine, which interestingly changed it's format just before Christmas to become the same size as all the other news magazines. And the first edition of that new format has Obama on the cover. It has become a collectors' edition already. I sent Neil a copy for Christmas, because it looks like he's becoming a little bit political. Go figure - - A Gillis with a political opinion! I think that old Bob Dylan's amazing words from his folk song 45 years ago are still ringing true today ... The Times They Are A-changin'

Come gather 'round people wherever you roam
And admit that the waters around you have grown
And accept it that soon you'll be drenched to the bone.
If your time to you is worth savin'
Then you better start swimmin' or you'll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin'.
Come writers and critics who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide the chance won't come again
And don't speak too soon for the wheel's still in spin
And there's no tellin' who that it's namin'.
For the loser now will be later to win,
For the times they are a-changin'.
Come senators, congressmen please heed the call
Don't stand in the doorway , don't block up the hall
For he that gets hurt will be he who has stalled
There's a battle outside and it is ragin'.
It'll soon shake your windows and rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin'.
Come mothers and fathers throughout the land
And don't criticize what you can't understand
Your sons and your daughters are beyond your command
Your old road is rapidly agin'.
Please get out of the new one if you can't lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin'.
The line it is drawn, The curse it is cast
The slow one now will later be fast
As the present now will later be past
The order is rapidly fadin'.
And the first one now will later be last
For the times they are a-changin'.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Another scanner : )

It's been cold today, but it was a good day. I got another scanner today! I dropped by the TV newsroom and noticed that their old scanner was unplugged... apparently it hadn't been working properly, and they have a newer portable scanner. So I asked Sean, the head techie about it... he said, go ahead and take it. Here's the good part ... this is the very same scanner I bought in the early 1980s and I used it for years at the TV station newsroom... when I left Timmins in 1987, I sold the scanner to the TV station. So I took it home today, cleaned it up, opened it up and poked around a bit and got it working again! The speaker is fried, so I hooked up an external speaker and it works perfectly. Cool eh.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Sunshine and snowshoes

I got out and got some sunshine today ... a bit too much in fact, as I got a bit of a burn on my nose and cheeks while snowshoeing across Pearl Lake. I have a tube of sunblock ointment in the truck, but it was frozen. I am gonna have to remember to wear my sunglasses too, except that I find the metal frames are uncomfortable in cold weather. One thing about snowshoeing is that it makes you walk like you crapped your pants ... not that I am too familiar with how that feels. But it sure feels good and it's all good exercise - - the snowshoeing I mean! : )

Feeling good

Finally feeling a bit better today after that miserable cold. I made only one pot of coffee this week. I think tea is better for a cold. I like hot sweet tea with milk. I think that's something I got from my Mom and Grandma Gillis. When I was a kid and I came in from the cold weather, Mom always gave me a hot cup of tea. I always added sugar. Grandma Gillis always gave me tea in the mornings, when I stayed in Mira. I guess tea is one of my comfort foods. I am pleased that so many people sent Christmas Cards this season. I thought that was something from the past. Obviously not. Canada Post also came through this week with a card and letter from Leilani and Ronald, all the way from Vancouver Island. Leilani is my cool sister-in-law who is one of the few people I know who got her picture taken with the Stanley Cup ... in Afghanistan! Leilani put in a real nice Christmas letter with the card, which is a nice tradition. It's amazing to hear that Dominique is 24! Christina is 17! and Matthew is 15! Wow, we are all getting older eh. Ronald was home on leave for Christmas, but is soon heading out to Afghanistan. Leilani is back in uniform too, working at the air base in Comox. It's so nice to hear that things are well with them all.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Staying warm in the bush

I finally dragged my lazy butt out of the house today for a nice hike in the bush. The weather was perfect. It was snowing and mild at about minus 20 ... still cool enough to try out my new Canada Goose parka for about an hour. There was a problem. After about 20 minutes of hard hiking, it was too warm! I was actually sweating.
I had to stop at one point and open the front and cool off. That's not a serious problem. Santa Claus was generous this year but the parka should last a few years longer than most. My first extreme weather parka was a Woods brand... it lasted 17 years. I remember it was so warm I could go ice fishing and lay down on the ice for a snooze and not notice the cold. The Canada Goose cost a few extra bucks, but I think it will keep me toasty warm for a few years.

Circumstances

For the past few years I have been thinking of snapping some nice photos of the Northern Lights. But circumstances don't always allow it. I have been waiting and preparing. I bought a special tripod because you just can't get a nice shot by shooting a handheld camera. I have all my cold weather gear ready and I always travel with my cams, fresh batteries and lots of photo memory cards. As luck would have it, we saw the Northern Lights on New Year's Eve as Jenn, Scott and I drove to the house party at Moe and Marie's place. It was bloody freezing out and I couldn't stop the truck to set up for a good photo. Since it was New Year's I was wearing a kilt, which doesn't quite lend itself to working in cold weather. I figured since the aurora is caused by magnetic anomolies at the earth's poles, it would likely continue on Thursday night. But Thursday night was clouded over. All day Friday I grumbled with my cold and sore throat and then at midnight I checked for aurora. Nothing. Same story Saturday night. Clear skies. No aurora. I will keep watching. Oh well, I am tired of staying cooped up in the house with a cold. Gonna load up on some Neo-Citron and go snowshoeing this afternoon.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Happy new year ... poor Reuben D'Aigle

Well here we are in 2009 and I am still puttering along in low gear. But I am having fun. New Year’s Eve was a hoot at Marie and Moe’s place as the Maltais gang came together for a party. It was nice to see everyone again. Jennifer and Scott were in town for that and so we all partied the night away. Everyone slept in on January 1, got up for steaming pots of coffee and then went off to Aunt Sue’s for some 'hangover soup'. I stayed home to nurse a sore throat. Last night Scott and Jenn took me out for supper at the new Boston Pizza restaurant. It was nice and then we rented some movies and snuggled on the couch. I think everyone was too partied out to do anything more than that. Jenn and Scott got up early this morning to make the trip back home to Sudbury. I know that I have to be back in “work mode” by Monday… but I was already out at a fire alarm this morning. Some poor guy on Norman Street had a garage fire. Life goes on eh.
Oh by the way, happy 100th anniversary for Timmins. It was 100 years ago that the Porcupine gold rush began. You’re gonna hear a lot about that as they plan to celebrate this for the next FOUR years, which includes the discovery of gold, the start-up of the mines and then the incorporation of the municipalities.
One of the most interesting stories was that gold might have been discovered here in 1908, instead of 1909. A famous prospector named Rueben D’Aigle came through this way looking for gold in 1908. Reuben knew his stuff. He’d made money in the Klondike gold rush and came back east to find a fortune in the Cobalt silver rush. He was a bit late for that so he headed north to the Porcupine where he did drilling, blasting and rock testing, but for some reason had no success. It was a year later that another team of prospectors came through. They found Reuben’s camp; they even saw the old bootprints in the moss and the mud. As the legend goes, they kicked aside the moss and found a beautiful vein of gold that eventually became the world renowned Hollinger Mine. Poor Reuben.