Sunday, July 31, 2016

The great forest fire of 1916

Canadians were shocked earlier this year to see the destruction of the forest fires in Fort McMurray. But it was 100 years ago this week that the worst ever forest fire in Canadian history burned in the area of Matheson, Nushka (Val Gagne), Porquis and Iroquois Falls, just east of Timmins. The difference back then is there was no early warning and when the flames did roar into these tiny settlements, the destruction was complete. There were no teams of firefighters in helicopters, no aerial water bombers, no modern evacuation procedures. The fire was half a million acres in size. The death toll is estimated at 223 persons, but it was likely higher than that. And yet these communities rose up after the fire and the people found the strength to carry on. I am always amazed when I read about things like that. We live in a fabulous country, but it is the people like this who have made it great.

YouTube is better than I ever expected

YouTube has become one of my favourite sources of entertainment these days if only because it offers some pretty interesting viewing choices. Jenn and Scott, and Santa Claus, got me a Roku video streaming box a couple of years ago and so I can enjoy watching YouTube on my big screen. Recently, I got a kick out of watching videos of the White House press dinners held in the past few years. Barack Obama has some pretty funny speech writers and in the past few years, he has done some pretty hip and funny joke routines. I also enjoy watching and listening to some amazing music videos. I dare say that almost any favourite song you have can be found on YouTube. It’s the same thing with movie clips. If there is a scene from a favourite movie you would like to see again, do a search on YouTube. I am pretty sure you will find it. Another thing is that some of the best Academy Award winning movies can also be found. I don’t how people manage to get all this stuff online, but I do enjoy seeing it. 

Saturday, July 16, 2016

It is okay to be offended. Roll with it.

Yes, I know I am getting mellow in my older age (Notice I didn't write OLD age). I was going through the news websites this morning, getting caught up on all the stuff from the past week. I too am shocked, saddened and shaking my head about the terrorist attack in France. I clicked on one story only to discover if was a video of the truck in Nice. There was a warning that the video contained explicit images. I stopped watching. Then I realized that I had done something so simple, that I wish more people would do it. We often get complaints that our news images are too shocking. Well, yes, that might be. So if you don't like it, don't look. Don't try impose your views on everyone else and have the images removed. Stop looking. It's as easy as that. If you're offended, that's okay. You have the right to be offended. So, get over it. I have the right to be offended too, so I stop looking. But I do not have the right to stop you from looking at something in the news.

Sunday, July 03, 2016

Yes, it is so good...

Summer is when I like to try new drinks. Okay, I lied. I drink new stuff all year round. But summer seems the time when they come up with some pretty nice new beverages. I was out stocking up this week when I saw the new Mill Street Brewery brand of root beer. It is made right in downtown Toronto and is a blend of Mill Street's vanilla porter and root beer, with hints of sassafras and licorice. It is just as yummy as the first time you tasted root beer when you were a kid. So of course, I cooked up a couple of hot dogs Friday night, (Yes, Debra, they were Schneiders!)  and washed 'em down with root beer. So, so good.

July is good

Enjoying July. Well most of it anyway. Had to drag myself out of bed at 5:00 a.m. today when the fire pager sounded for a structure fire in the city’s north end. I didn’t feel like it, but I peeked out the bedroom window. Yup, there was a big fire, flames and smoke roaring into the sky. Thank goodness the people got out safely.
I was planning to enjoy my Sunday morning with tea and a fresh pan of apple crisp for breakfast. I made it yesterday using Granny Smith apples. I was worried it would be too tart, but the Granny Smiths are just perfect. So I will remember that. I usually use McIntosh apples, which are almost as tasty.  I had the apple crisp later this morning when I got home from the fire call.

Now last week, I made another fruity crumble dish, but this time I used rhubarb and strawberries. It was SO good. I bought the rhubarb at the grocery store, where I was surprised to see it. The only problem was the rhubarb was $6.99 a pound and the strawberries were another $4. So that is a rather expensive dessert for this old man.

I spent Canada in Timmins and really enjoyed the perfect weather. It was about 20 Celsius and sunny with a light breeze. It was the perfect day for joining the annual Canada Day flag walk with Karl Habla. Karl is an immigrant who wastes no time telling everyone in Timmins how great his adopted country is. Every year, for more than 20 years, Karl has led hundreds of citizens on a two kilometre walk from city hall to the international flag park in Schumacher. I met a lot of folks there I have seen in past years. It was very nice.
Later in the evening, I sat on my balcony here in the north end and watched a really nice display of Canada Day fireworks. How cool is that?
Last Sunday I was pleased to be invited out to dinner to help Marie and Moe Maltais celebrate their 40th anniversary. Can you believe it? I love those people. It was a nice dinner organized by their son Zacchary, as a surprise party… and it worked. Moe gave a nice speech during dinner where he said the first rule of a great marriage is to always do whatever she asks. Well that got a good laugh. Then he said the second rule is to be the best of friends. And then he gave Marie a big smooch. A lot of people got teary-eyed when that happened.

Time for another cup of tea …