The Family (Or most of them)

The Family (Or most of them)
The Family

April 28, 2008

A massive family get-together

OK, so I love to blog about my family.

And on Saturday, the whole clan got together, except for my brother Doug and his family in Ottawa.

As usual, I took plenty of pictures. Some are here. Some, including most of the rest of my family, are not.

That's because they don't want to have their pix on my blog, as much as I'd like to include them.

So here is what I can include, beginning with my brother Gerry's pic of who he believes the true guy inhabiting Spaceship Orion is.

And here's the real me. Please, no comments about which is more handsome or accurate.
A major incident of the day was when my brother Gerry was bowled over by exhuberant nephews Cole and Justin, and the result. Somehow, it was poetic justice.

I'll come back to that, but the theme of the party was to celebrate Mother's Day, and about 32 birthdays among the grandparents, parents, nephews, nieces, uncles, aunts and whomever else.
I spent $36 on cards alone, for which I was soundly chastised by several sisters and sisters-in-law, the cheapies. Here's a collection of most of those cards.

This is Monica, who's leaving Wednesday for Europe on a 2 1/2-month trip I know little about.

This is Joshua, my brother Gerry's son, looking mischievous.

This is my oldest sister Lori's tattoo that she got for her 50th birthday.
The W.G.F. stands for With Georgie Forever, a reference to our grandmother on my mom's side, Georgie, who lived with us for a good time before she died.

I'm pretty sure I got my sister Lori's permission to use this pic of her face. If I didn't, I'm sure she'll scream at me.

Back to Gerry, who decided we should simultaneously take pix of each other taking pix...

He's such an arse...

Like I said, he's such an arse...

His hair is greyer than mine is. He insists he has more of it, though.

And now back to his ankle injury, which he believes is a "bad sprain."

You can tell he's a bit ornery...

But whatever. What is, just is.

April 23, 2008

Slogging through Spring


I missed the summer-like temperatures here last weekend when I was out of town in neighbouring Saskatchewan, where it was cool and blustery.

But I heard stories about young women out in bikini tops sun-bathing (from a young guy I was working with out of town, don't get your pantyhose tied up in knots!), I heard about hints of summer.

So now that I'm back, there's a winter storm watch advisory out there, and they say we're going to get 10-20 cms of snow starting late tonight.

Temps are expected to be 10C degrees below normal for the next few days.

As I listen to Mark Knopfler's latest CD, which I got mailed to me for buying tickets to his concert here this summer (it's very mellow, but nice), I've got to say I haven't felt, really, like spring's arrived yet.

And that's left me with a pout.

It's gotten considerably warmer, virtually all the snow has melted, but there's been a strong, unco-operative, cool wind that's seemed to have negated the effects of the blue skies, warming temps and sunshine.


It's made me feel so up in the air, kind of out of kilter, sort of numb to what should be the most pleasant time of the year...kind of like this deer...

This deer, apparently, had the misfortune of being hit by a fast-moving train in Manitoba and ended up on the top of a hydro power line. What a way to go. Death's Double Whammy, so to speak.

So about all I can do is eye my shorts hanging there in the corner of my bedroom, think about my sandals sitting in the closet, covet the slopitch season starting up, contemplate feeling warm and cozy...

...And exist.

I was going to post about Hillary beating Obama in Penn State and how I don't care...

...Because she lost my respect when in desperation she hit him below the belt for his comments that the U.S. working class is bitter, which is true.

I was going to post about Canada's aboriginals predictably announcing they're going to use the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics as a world-wide stage to air their grievances, but I don't care...

...Because they just want more money.

I was going to post about how proud I am of my son for his sensitive handling of his latest breakup with his latest girlfriend.

I was going to post about how my daughter's long trip to Europe is coming up in only a few days and how I'll miss her...

But instead, I'm just going to listen to Mark. And wait for it to warm up so I can thaw from a long, cold winter.

April 20, 2008

While Dad's away, the Dunderhead will play...


(This town in western Manitoba is where writer Margaret Laurence grew up...)

Did you know Kandahar is actually in Saskatchewan, not in Afghanistan, where our Canadian troops are dropping like flies trying to keep the peace and track down Osama Bin Laden?
It's all a Canada-U.S. political ruse, I say...

Yeah, while I was out of town doing my job, my son, who has a key to my apartment, was entering same apartment -- which is very close to his school -- and creating a disaster of epic proportions.

Upon my return Sunday, all the tell-tale signs were there:
--Toilet paper not replaced on the dispenser.
--Five or six Bounce dryer sheets used and left on the floor all over or on the dryer, no doubt to repel the cling and lint for the one shirt he might have washed for some hot date with his girlfriend.
--His hair gel, left next to the bathroom sink, opened.
--The toothpaste, left uncapped so it can dry out.
--The mouthwash, its cap left off.
--Spit-out toothpaste stains in the sink.
--And, of course, a total mess in the kitchen. Dirty dishes put in a dishwasher full of clean dishes.

Whatever, left all over the place.

Another sink full of dirty dishes, an open bag of what used to be fresh bread, now dry. My bike is nowhere to be seen. He must be riding it. The usual crumbs are all over the living room.
Ahh, to be home again.

April 16, 2008



Basically, what this means is the next two weeks of my life are going to be hell. Fun, hopefully, in a twisted sort of way, but still hell.

In order to protect the innocent, namely me, I'm not going to mention any real names here, or at least not full names.

I'm not going to name the two teams involved, for example, for fear of fans googling the team names and finding this sad combination of two posts.

And then hunting me down and lynching me if they don't like what I write over the course of this best-of-seven series.

But you may be able to pick up the name of the Manitoba team I'm covering, a squad of players aged 17-20 who will advance to the national Junior A championship in Ontario next month if they win this series.

I've been covering some of their playoffs in the past two weeks so they know me a bit, but now they're going to get to know me a lot better. And if the series goes sour for them, I may not be the most popular guy.

But I have to document what happens, good or bad. That's life.

Suffice to say that on Thursday, I'm starting out on my roughly seven-hour journey to a place called Humboldt, in our neighbouring province of Saskatchewan.

I've been through and to Saskatchewan many times, for different reasons. Most often, it's been a place I've needed to travel through to get somewhere else. There are people I hold dear there, but nowhere near Humboldt.

Saskatchewan is another prairie province here in the Great White North, and Humboldt is one of the many smaller cities within it.

Did you know, for example, that Miss Saskatchewan 2007 hails from Humboldt? I didn't think so. She's quite attractive. Maybe I'll be able to meet her.

A fellow sports reporter grew up in Saskatchewan and she says I should stay in the monastery in nearby Muenster because I've been able to get a hotel room only for two of the three nights this weekend.

I told her I'd better not because I'd expect to find all her old boyfriends there with funny haircuts and robes and weird urges.

At the bottom of this post, I've included a Google Earth map that you may or may not be able to click on to enlarge. Trust me, Humboldt is there, not all that far from Saskatoon, if that helps you.

And I'll be there too.

Which brings me to this: Why two posts in one? Well, because these two events or incidents are directly related to this assignment.

I basically discovered, when I went out to Portage la Prairie to cover my team's practice Tuesday night, why I'm a writer and not a photographer. And so will you when you look at the pictures to follow.

In the first pic below, the pony-tailed guy on the left is a national award-winning photographer for my paper who's been around forever. He's there taking pix to illustrate my stories.

The guy on the right is the Manitoba league's communications guy, who handles their website, can write and take pictures with a much fancier digital camera than mine and who evidently doesn't worry about his hair when he wakes up.

These next series of pix are my shots from the players' bench, taken with my Sony Cybershot camera, which is about as wide as a graham wafer that was dropped into the glass of milk and left there.

I'm bringing that camera with me, but I can only take pictures of things that aren't actually moving, as you will see below in Post No. 2.

There's a one-second delay or so between when I press the "take picture" button and when it actually takes the picture. Slight draw-back for us professionals, but I can admit when I don't have the proper equipment.

Now, for Post No. 2.

Usually when I go on these short kinds of road-trips, I just drive my own car. But the old gal is getting a bit undependable, so I said I wanted to rent a car or use a company car.

Our supreme being boss, being a female, opted for the latter.

So for the first time in some 20 years or something, I had to take the bus to work on Wednesday so I could pick up that company car and drive it home for my Thursday morning departure.

It takes me half an hour to drive my own car to work at the best of times. And I haven't been with Transit Tom in a long time. So I brought my camera along to attempt to document this Back to the Future experience.

But first, I had to check out the city transit website. My tiny brain almost exploded. Of five options to make my way to my office from the south side of the city to the north, I picked Option No. 5.

Believe it or not, this was the simplest way to get to my office from my home. I still have a headache.

At the appropriate time, I soldiered on bravely. I even had my $2.50 in change. Many years ago, I could have done something like this in my sleep...and it would have cost 50 cents. Not now.

I arrived at the bus stop.

I plopped my bag down with my work laptop inside it. Is nothing free of advertising any more?

My bus came a few minutes late. An exceptionally overweight woman was driving it.

She growled when I got on. I meekly let my toonie and 50 cents drop down into the pay-me-or-else thingie and asked for a transfer.

My plan had been to take all kinds of pictures, but the bus was so crowded I figured I'd be eaten alive by all the other passengers who do this every day.

I did, however, manage to get this shot of our corner of Portage and Main, Winnipeg's most famous intersection, which by the quality of the shot could just as well be Ma and Pa Kettle's fork in the road.

This next shot is me risking my life and limbs to prove to you that I actually was on a city transit bus.

And I have no idea whether you'll even be able to view this, but below is a video I accidentally took trying to take the picture above. I hope you enjoy it.

Surprisingly, I actually made it work. And here's the second bus that transported me there.

I actually had only a few minutes' walk to my building, below.

And after all that trouble, this is what I end up with and what I'll be driving to Humboldt. It has no automatic anything, except for transmission. I have to crank it to start it up (not shown).

And here's that Google Earth map I promised you. There are some beautiful things in Saskatchewan and some beautiful people. I only hope the jalopy above is able to get me there and back in one piece.

April 14, 2008

Big Birthday, Big Trip; Little Girl, Big Girl



That's right, it's another landmark in our lives. My daughter turns 20 on May 3, but she won't be here.

She'll be in Europe, travelling to places like London, Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Munich, Venice, Rome, the Amalfi Coast, Greece, Florence and Nice.

She's leaving April 29 and isn't coming back until July. She's travelling with one friend in what will be the voyage of her young life.

She's saved for most of the trip herself, although she's getting help, of course.

There's a big party later this month on my side of the family to honour a whole bunch of my family's birthdays, including hers, and to send her off properly.

It's possible I'll be out of town, in neighbouring Saskatchewan covering a hockey series, and won't be able to attend that party.

So this past weekend, I took her and her brother out to her favourite place for dinner.

I should be taking them out every week like this, because we never have as much fun as we do when we go out for dinner. We all laugh at each other and tease each other, and more often than not, she's the target.

So here's what that was all about. (Note my son's goofy expression in the pic below)

One of the highlights is always my son's eating habits. He eats like a horse, but he's supremely picky.
And he plays with his food. When he finds something to play with, everybody has to know about it.
And in this case, he found what he claimed was a baby octopus.

Sadly, I had to agree with him. The picture above is blurry. But that's what it looks like.
And his dish did include calamari. Anyway, we had fun with it. He even had to take a pic of it.

I had to get them to do their normal goofy pose...and then it was time for dessert...

Several hours before this, I had told her she had to keep in touch with me and let me know where she was and that she was safe.
Of course, she shrugged it all off and said she and her friend planned on starting a blog to keep all of us informed.
She didn't want to hear it, but I explained how helpless I'll be feeling, unable to protect her or come to her rescue if something happens.
And I asked her to try to understand that feeling and to take seriously my need to know she's OK.
She acknowledged that and said she'll do her best.
All I can say is, EEK!