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Saturday, January 24, 2015

Chasing a fire

Well the news came out this week that Ontario's Ministry of Natural Resources is suing CN Rail, claiming that it was sparks from a passing train that caused the big Timmins No. 9 forest fire in May 2012. It was a huge, huge fire. So I was looking through some photo files this week and I came across these photos which tell a little story. I remember the day the fire began, going down to Tatachikapika Lodge to get some pictures. The fire had started south of the Lodge and north of Gogama.
By the time I got there, during the supper hour, the fire was going strong. I could only get photos from a distance. Heading back to Timmins along Highway 144 I noticed there were scores of sideroads leading into the bush, west of the highway. Many were blocked. Most were not. I figured if I wanted to get some photos of the fire I would have to take a sideroad. So I just picked one, put on the 4-by-4 and starting driving west.
Soon enough, after about 10 kilometres, I knew I was getting close to the fire, but I was a bit worried about going too close. The sky was filled with thick, black and grey smoke. I pulled into a clearing where there was an esker. I climbed to the top of the esker to look around and get photos. Yes, the fire was just over the next hillside.
Suddenly there was a helicopter hovering nearby. Great! I started snapping photos and then the helicopter got closer. Guy inside was waving at me. I waved back. So then the chopper circled around and landed. You can see my little truck in the photo. The guy got out and he was angry! He was an MNR Conservation Officer and told me I had no business being there, to get the hell out. Once I explained I was with the newspaper, he calmed down and explained that the fire zone was being declared and no one allowed in the hot zone. So I got out. But I also got some nice photos.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Whoa! Enough pizza!

Here's the thing. Monday was a long day at work... one guy got sick, so I covered for him and didn't get home until about 8:30. Then Tuesday, another long day. A federal cabinet minister interview... but he was an hour late. So I was at the office, just wrapping up when I decided it was too late to go home and cook supper. It was 8:00 p.m. So I went online and ten minutes later I was picking up a fresh pizza! Excellent. Got home, opened a beer and put my feet up. Having half a medium pizza was just about perfect. Tonight, I got home and decided ... leftovers! Pizza, yeah! Let me tell you... I was hungry... but Jeez, having pizza two days in a row is enough, thank you. So now I am full, but I don't think I will be having pizza for awhile. Tomorrow, Mr. Noodles. That's another story!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

RIP Uncle Joe and Uncle Sonny

It has been a rough week or so. I was saddened to learn of the deaths of two of my uncles. Uncle Joe Gillis died on January 9th, and Uncle Sonny Rostek died on the 15th. Joe was my Dad’s little brother and Sonny was married to Aunt Theresa, my Mom’s little sister. I remember both of these fellows so much from my childhood. The great thing about uncles is that they always had a smile and a kind word for their nephews. I remember both Joe and Sonny as a couple of guys who were always smiling.
I spent a couple of days in court this past week covering the sentence in a manslaughter case. It was so bizarre. Murder and manslaughter cases are like that. More members of the public should drop in at court to listen to what goes on. It is so real and so raw.
Last weekend was a hoot. Jennifer and Scott and Tyler and Nathan were all in Timmins as the boys had a hockey tournament.
They did very well and had a lot of fun. Scott and Jenn are incredibly dedicated hockey parents and I was amazed at the energy and effort it takes to do that. The best part was seeing how much the boys enjoyed themselves. I snapped a couple of photos of the boys. Ty is No. 91 and Nate is No.13.

Saturday, January 03, 2015

Ten years ago...

Just to make things interesting, here are a couple of photos of Jennifer and her boys from Christmas 2004.

So, 2015 is here...

Well, happy January. This means I am entering my 9th year as a blogger. I am also on Facebook, but I am thinking of gradually getting away from it. In a word, Facebook has become just plain stupid. It’s not that people don’t say interesting things, it is just that there are too many others that react so stupidly. Enough ranting.
I had a fabulous Christmas holiday at Jennifer’s place. It was just so nice and relaxing and it was great to spend time with Jenn and her guys. The boys are amazing. They’re turning into men and I am pleased to see that. Yeah, they’re still boys in some ways, but they are pretty cool young guys too. I am amazed at how tall the boys are. I got a real kick out of getting up early Christmas morning, only to find the boys were up ahead of me and making coffee for the adults!
Also on Christmas, we did a Skype hook-up with Don and Denise in Florida. It was the first time I have seen Skype and I was impressed. Jenn and I also enjoyed a great phone call with Neil in Vancouver. We were going to do the Skype thing with him also, but with the time difference and the schedules, it just didn’t happen.

Christmas Day was excellent overall. Jennifer is outstanding in the kitchen and I am always amazed at how organized she is. Of course she was enjoying herself too. Now that she is in school full time, her days normally start at about 6:00 a.m. so she really enjoyed the time off.
Driving back to Timmins last weekend was nice at first as the roads from Sudbury to the Watershed were mostly clear and wet. After that, the snow started and the highways were crap. I just took my time. It took nearly five hours to get to Timmins.
This past week has been enjoyable as I had time off. I am totally relaxed and ready to begin the new year. I was invited to a New Year ’s Eve party and it was nice. It was basically the Timmnins media crowd. Taylor Ablett from Moose FM was our host. It was a good time to brush off the kilt and celebrate in style, which I did. I was not much in the mood for drinking, so after two drinks in six hours, I was the driver for the others. It was kind of funny to watch people transform themselves when they are partying. I am glad I was able to get folks home safely. I got home around 3:00 a.m. poured myself a nice glass of Scotch, sat down, did some reading and went to bed. I slept till 10:00 a.m. and then I had to get up. I was starving. LOL. Breakfast was porridge and strawberries.
This will be a good week. Jenn and her men are coming to Timmins next weekend for a hockey tournament. It’s going to be excellent to see them again.
I have attached a few photos. These include Tyler and Nathan by the Christmas tree, I always get a photo of the boys on Christmas morning. There’s also a few shots of Jenn, making coffee, shovelling the slush and talking to Buddy. There is also a nice night shot of Scott and Jennifer by the bonfire.