The Family (Or most of them)

The Family (Or most of them)
The Family

May 12, 2009




I don't know if you'll be able to click on this scanned image to read what the bill says. But it's from Budget eToll of Great Neck, N.Y. (Why would a place be called Great Neck, anyway?)

And it claims that while I was driving one of their rented cars, I failed to pay a 40-cent toll somewhere around Chicago on Aug. 28.


My personal transponder, whatever that is, works just fine, thank you!!!

Whatever. As a result, I now have to pay a bill of $45.40 US in fines and administration fees.

I've been to Chicago a number of times, mostly to cover Stanley Cup hockey finals, but I've never had to rent a car.

Last summer, I had to cover our baseball team as it wound up its season in Joliet, Illinois, not that far from Chicago.

And then I had to carry on with the team to Gary, Indiana, for the start of the playoffs.

Joliet, as you might have heard, houses one of America's most dangerous prisons, or at least used to. Gary was once America's murder capital. Great assignment.

And now I feel like I've been victimized myself for being a goofy Canajun.

I flew to Chicago, rented the car, tried to make sure I had enough American change for all the tolls I expected to encounter.

I nixed Budget's offer of a car equipped with GPS, got my maps out, and merrily went on my way.

Well, not merrily. I had some nerves.

When you come from Flatland, Canada, a place with few freeways and no toll booths but high taxes ( how come our roads are so lousy compared to theirs?), a place you've lived most of your life that you know like the back of your hand...

...And you pile into a car to navigate some of the busiest and most congested freeways, highways and byways of one of the most densely populated areas in North America, you just might have a little trepidation.

It's called ChicagoLand, for gawd's sake. It's another world from what I'm used to.

Long and short of it is, I had the toll booth thingy all worked out on my route.

Unfortunately, I took a wrong turn at Albuquerque and had to double back about 20 miles to get the correct turnoff for Joliet.

I had to go through two more tolls (unmanned ones) than I planned for. I ran out of change. But I couldn't pull over to get more change.

I'm on about a 360-lane freeway with bumper to bumper traffic at rush hour.

I have some Canadian change, but not enough American change. As I inch up towards the big collector thingie, I try to throw in some Canadian change with the American change I have left.

It won't register as paid.

I quickly jump out of my rental car, run to the guy behind me, explain I'm a stupid Canajun and offer him $5 American for the proper American change -- 40 cents!

Before he can say anything, and with horns blaring at this idiotic, pathetic driver they're all being forced to wait for, I put the fiver in his hands.

Dumbfounded, he reluctantly gives me his change, I run back to my car, toss it in the collector thingie and drive off.

I'm convinced that's where they got me.

I think the collector thingie didn't properly register the amount of change I threw in -- or I did something else wrong -- and so for not paying that 40-cent toll, I'm being dinged $45.40.

What's that, more than a 1,000-per-cent surcharge? I'm terrible at math, but I know it's a lot.

Hopefully the one thing you CAN read on that bill is right at the bottom: BOO HOO!

May 11, 2009

Resting and Being...

...And simply waiting for summer and sunshine.

May 10, 2009



This was all about us (mostly Donn, as you can see below) having fun with the vegemite sent to me by the unbelievably lovely Stace, from Australia.

I could wax on about his lively simultaneous senses of intelligence and stupidity.

His outrageousness and good sense, his immaturity but his insight, his utter disregard for good taste but also his politeness and political correctness.

And, in the next breath, his political incorrectness.

In fact, I often have.

But as our separate yet never completely separated lives have taken their twists and turns over the years, the one thing we've always maintained is a never-say-die commonality of both being complete doofuses.

And to virtually be inseparable. And to love doing that, together.

And this has endured through time and space and lost marriages and found lovelies and our kids and bad times and spectacular developments and otherwise. And this will never cease to be.

I'm a couple of years older than him, so I'm way smarter and sexier.

But somehow, despite his obvious shortcomings, he has managed to find a lovely woman from which sprang a beautiful son.

And of course I have embraced them and they have, to my great fortune, embraced me.

And I have blogged about them before.

As in the following picture sequence, when young Donn & Alice progeny Ridley was introduced to the boyhood magic of a fart cushion, a pleasure I was never privy to as a kid.

I just made my own.

Now Alice is quite restrained, actually. But as I understand it, this was her idea.

You can't see it under Alice's butt above, but it's there, making that indescribably funny sound.

Ahem. That was last year, I think, over at their place. Isn't Alice sexy?
And in this photo below taken at my place, isn't Donn NOT SEXY?

Donn, as you can see, is a camera-friendly guy. He's very animated, he's the life of the party, and when I first met him, I couldn't stand him.

But somehow, he persisted. He won me over. I was fascinated by that sense of stupidity and moronic kid-like personality that hid his perception and depth, his philosophies about combining fun and philosophy.

Just living in the moment and doing it right.

Being a wussy...

And many other things.

But on Saturday, at his invitation, I went over to their place again. And I felt embraced, again.

By Ridley, who seems to bring out the kid in me -- even at this ripe old age -- and who loves testing his physical limits, and likes everything from playing catch to getting tennis balls shot at him.

(Donn sent these photos to me and added the labels on the pix)

Ridley's about to try and bean me in the head with a nerf football above as Alice calls me from behind to take my pic, as I recall...

Alice catches my butt, which is apparently on fire.

That little fireplace thingy has been an enduring and constant presence in their back yard all these years as Ridley grew up, it's one of those beautiful things that jars the senses gently.

Well, at some point, the old guys had to get into it. And Alice was there to record more 50-something male sports silliness.

One good turn deserves another. Unfortunately, Ally did not get the shot where I actually did hit Donn in the gonads.

Now I think Alice is one of the most beautiful women on the planet. She's warm, lets me hug her close, makes me always feel at home...she's a beautiful mom and, as Donn says, she's his lovely lady wife.

But we're best friends, Donn and I. So I get to have at least a bit of her, don't I? At least a few hugs now and again?

Evidently not...Donn started pouting after that pose above.

So Donny boy got over my little tryst with Alice in their back yard and then he fired up their barbie and cooked some absolutely gorgeous steak for supper, complemented by some excellent shrooms and onions and red peppers by Ally.
I feasted on that food.

And then after that, we went outside again for a while, did that fire thing above, Ridley had his bath, then he joined us for a game of Phase 10, a game they introduced me to several years ago.

Ridley was amazing. He can add and subtract better than I can. His mom was helping him slightly, but I've seen adults who can't do math like he can. He truly is an amazing young man.

After Ridley went to bed, the obviously inebriated Donn took this pic of the three of us playing Phase 10. I can't even remember now who won, but I know I came back big-time to make it close.

And speaking of close, see how close Ally and I are?
Donn, do you remember anything?

May 8, 2009


So, as I walk around my place in my sweats and Perry Como slippers on what was hopefully going to be a day off in the warmth and sunshine of a hot spring day, this is what I find.

(Not the stuff above, I just decided to put that in; note the woman in the middle of the top pic ha ha ha ha!)

Someone from Algeria entered the following words (well, in their attempt at the English language, I guess) into the Google search engine: "sadame housine erk."

I'm not sure what "erk" means, but I've translated the first two words into Saddam Hussein.

Lo and behold, it brought them to me and this post or series of posts from July 2006:

Will wonders on the Web never cease?

P.S.: It got up to about 3C today -- some 15C below normal. For you 2.5 Americans who seem to visit here, that's like having what is supposed to be a 68F day turn into a 36F day. Get my drift?

May 4, 2009

Boys of Summer


We know it. But hell, it takes winter a longer time to lose its grip up here.

When it finally does, or so we think, it's baseball season, with football just around the corner.

And on Monday, I finally got a chance to experience it again, under sunny skies and almost shorts sort of weather.

And this is what it felt like.

You can joke all you want about all the Americans above coming up here to play baseball. It's true, they're just not good enough to play in the Majors or AAA or, most of them, even AA.

But like anybody else, they want to be stars.

And in independent baseball, there are few better places to play than here in all of North America. This team gets 7,000 people a game in a beautiful park.

They love playing here, these guys, because they can feel that American dream and be a part of it, even at a lower level than the A-Rods and their ilk.

In their world, I have to believe, it's all relative.

If they can't win a World Series, or a AAA or AA or even an A calibre title, maybe they can win an Independent League championship in the middle of Canada.

They can hit .350 with 20 homers or they can throw up a 1.95 ERA with 10 wins and still feel like world-beaters.

These kinds of things are the hope at any level of sport -- if that's the best you can do, then you want to make the best of what you can do.

And on what was finally a decent spring-time day under sunny skies and about 19-C (close to 70-F) temps on Monday, I, too, was moved by this weather of warmth and hope, just sitting and absorbing the rays.

And here's what I saw. And revelled in.

That guy on the left, the picture above? He's a catcher.

He almost died last season when the gigantic guy behind him, who's 6-4 and 298 pounds and who was playing for Joliet, Ill., at the time, accidentally hit him in the head with his bat.

The catcher suffered a fractured skull and had bleeding on the brain.

But he recovered, came back last season and now he's this team's No. 1 catcher. And the guy who did this to him is now his teammate.

And as fate would have it they're both playing independent league baseball with the same team in the middle of barren Canada in a place that almost certainly, they had never heard of until they ended up in this league.

Sports is a totally weird, wonderful thing.

To say these guys want to be here is almost certainly not true. They'd rather be Yankees or Braves or Astros or Dodgers or Twins, earning millions of dollars each year.

Instead, they're Goldeyes.

But if you talk to any of them, their responses would be that this is where they WANT to be. There's a certain dose of reality in that to go along with the politically correct answer.

The point is, they're here because this is the best place they thought they could be.

Me, this is the only place I could be. So there's some sort of symbiotic thing going on there.

I'm too dumb to say anything more. Except that man, what a feeling to be out in the sun's warmth, watching Boys of Summer.

May 3, 2009




My son, Evan, WAS with me though.

He worked Friday and Saturday nights so he asked me if his girlfriend, Katrina, could come over Sunday to spend the afternoon watching movies and if I could make them supper.

Of course I said yes.

After watching X-Men (The Last Stand), they started watching a horror flick -- Silent Hill.

And while Evan says he's more the wussy than her as far as being scared by horror flicks usually, he had seen the movie Kat, being a girlie girlie, was all a'scared.

She's a beautiful girl and they're great together, they just really have a lot of fun.

But she wasn't exactly appreciative of me taking some pix of her freaking out at the some of the more gory scenes, although she didn't freak and allowed me to proceed.

Her semi-reluctance, of course, encouraged me all the more.

Meanwhile, my beef and onion sauce was simmering all afternoon on the oven and my water for boiling the spaghetti was at the ready.

Katrina could barely persuade herself to go into the bathroom to, ahem, freshen up.

I had to turn the light on for her and she had to push the shower curtain all the way back just to see that no ugly creatures were in the tub.

These two are SO cool together.

Oh, to be 16 or 17 again. Ev is. I'm not. Sigh.