Dilemma of Olympic Proportions…
March 5, 2010

We recently returned from a trip to British Columbia to visit our eldest son and his family. The opportunity to be with our son and his partner and our granddaughter was the draw. Neither of us was really excited about being in B.C. The last two visits were disappointments; it was cold and damp and grey most of the time; it was crowded and noisy and had far too much traffic. There are certain expectations and images one has of Canada’s “Lotus Land” and those have yet to appear for me.

Our first two visits–one in november and another in January–three and two years ago respectively left me longing to return to Ontario; the need was for the winter sun that is usually in abundance in January and February at home. Those first two visits aided in the formulation of my opinion about “lotus land”.

The November trip was wet and foggy most of the time. I recall disappointment at not being able to see the mountains. There was one day in the fourteen we were there that the rain stopped and the Golden Ears in all their majesty shone forth. All-be-it viewed through the sieve of buildings, overhead wires and the general clutter of humanity. It was cold. It was to the core damp and cold and I found it difficult to warm up even while sitting in front of the radiator and asking my son to turn up the heat.

The following year saw much of the same. Great adventures with family but the weather left me disappointed. Eight days of sunshine out of 21 and temperatures hovering around the freezing point. It snowed the night we landed in Abbotsford. Another disappointment to be sure–mostly based on preconceived expectations.

This year’s holiday was, to my surprise, an improvement over the previous two visits. It didn’t rain nearly so much. At least part of the mountains were visible most days and the temperatures were on average about 8 C. It made for comfortable walking and actually made me want to be outside most days. And it goes without saying that time with family was wonderful. Especially after a two-year absence.

No, the difficulty I came away with this year was the Olympics. The cost of hosting the Olympic Games appears to me to beyond excessive. I was staggered by the announcement that $900 million was being spent on security alone. That was reported on the same day as the Vancouver Sun reported many lower mainland school boards were having difficulty funding their school systems. The decision was to lay off teachers and increase class size.  A no-fly zone was in effect that encompassed much of the lower mainland. Air security was such that flying schools chose to shut down rather than take the chance of students accidentally entering the no-fly space. It will be interesting to see if any of them have had to go out of business as a result. There were parking restrictions that affected retail outlets thus reducing the number of people who had access. Instructions to employers within security zones were to create flex hours for employees or allow work from home. The homeless were considered an eyesore; there were excessive cost overruns in the construction process. Don’t get me started on the gouging for tickets and rooms and food and … And the list goes on… All in the name of sports.

So I wonder what ever happened to sport for the sake of sport? To game? When did we get to the point that all of this needed to be so big. After all we are talking about sports–games–play. I am dumbfounded that we equate our excitement for sport with patriotism. That one truly baffles me. Does the fact that I don’t support the olympics or that I cheered for all the competitors when they did something spectacular make me less patriotic than my friends who are really into the Olympic thing? The events that I watched were great and I rejoice in the skill and dedication of the players. But they are games. People playing games.

In my opinion the time for the olympics is past. Our tax dollars would best be spent on other things. Like a $58 billion deficit that our government has gotten us into.                                  GRB

Home from holiday…
August 18, 2008

Well, the first full day back from holiday has been relatively slow. It is not that I’ve done nothing; I’ve just paced myself. There was a storm during the night and the temperature has dropped to a cool 7 C. I actually slept in until 10 am today. Mostly because I slept poorly last night. My hips were aching quite badly. I’m certain it is from the number of continuous hours I’ve spent behind the wheel of the car. The seats in my Escape are not very comfortable on long drives. I managed to get my two morning coffees into me by 11 am and took the trailer back to U-Haul. The rental was a tad more than I had anticipated but what the heck I was able to take most of my home with me to Tobermory. I think we took most of David’s home, too. No, we really didn’t need all that stuff. It was a ‘just in case’ scenario.
I cleaned out Cloud’s nest from the back of the car and returned all of the treasures she had tucked away in every nook an cranny. She is like a squirrel/chipmunk in the way she creates a nest in the back seat of the car. There are little stashes of food (candy/two day old pizza) and drink (partly consumed cans of pop and bottles of water) strategically placed so they are easy to find when she wakens from a travel nap. Now that I think of it, there is a distinct comparison to the condition of her bedroom at home.
Joy, Aidan, Cloudia and Tannon at lunch in the Crows Nest, Tobermory, ON

Joy, Aidan, Cloudia and Tannon at lunch in the Crow's Nest, Tobermory, ON

I am constantly reminded of her presence with us. Every time I put my hand in my pocket I find a new treasure the she has deposited there for safe keeping. My God! I’m a part of a squirrel nest. For every treasure I find tucked away, in trust that I will care for it, I am reminded of a moment in time when we were together and in great confidence Cloud would say, “Papa, please hang onto this for me. I don’t want to lose it.”

Days later, sometimes weeks later, I find the treasures entrusted to me and I add them to the pile of things that need be returned someday. And we’ll sit and laugh about how the treasures ended up in my possession and what stories we will share. (grin) I had to go to the grocery last night to fetch some staples–you know, the important stuff like bread and milk. The larder was quite bare. While shopping I ran into Dave, Jen and the twins. They arrived home from our shared holiday a few hours prior to us. They, too, were doing the same thing following our weeks adventure to Tobermory replenishing the food stocks. Tannon latched onto me in the store and decided that he was coming home with me. It appears that he had not had enough ‘Nana and Papa’ this past week. Actually, I think he would have stayed the night if we encouraged it in any way.
I did get some exercise in the backyard today. I am determined to continue with the work we started prior to the trip to Tobermory. So I spent most of the afternoon digging out roots of crabgrass. It felt good to be working beside the garden and admiring the way it has grown in the week we have been away. There are tomatoes on the tomato plants and there are really cucumbers on the vines. I can taste the dill pickles now. It really doesn’t matter that there are only two cucumbers almost ready to harvest. What is important is that two cucumbers grew. I am confident more will grow. The challenge now is that it happen before the first frost of the fall. That can happen any time now. It is evident that gardens grow, quite well, in spite of our ministrations, to produce the most delectable food. David picked radishes last night that were the size of small apples and left them on the the counter top in the kitchen for our dining pleasure upon our arrival home. What a delight!
But I digress. The digging finished, I moved about twelve heavy paving stones to the back of the property. Thank heaven Joy came along to help me do some of the lifting. I am too tired to lay the stones today. That can be a tomorrow job. I’ve cleared enough roots to lay at least three more stones in the walkway. Then I’ll dig again. I’m thinking I’ll call DJ, our grandson and see if he would like to earn some spending money over the next week. He is a young 16 with strong muscles.
Right now, I think I need a nap before preparing dinner. Yes, a glass of wine, a nap and dinner. Just what the doctor ordered. I’ll get to it then.                            GRB

Superior views …
July 23, 2008

I’m on the road again heading east along the north shore of Lake Superior to Sault Ste. Marie with a truck load of gently used clothing to drop at Value Village and six dive tanks needing annual inspection. More importantly, I am off to visit my sister and brother-in-law for a few days. I haven’t seen them since last December. That time hardly counts as a visit. On that trip it was dark and cold and very late at night  and Dave and I stayed only long enough to get a few hour sleep as we began a diving adventure to Bonne Terre, MO. But I am excited at the opportunity to see family again.

It is a drive I have made many times and is one of my most favourite places in Canada to travel. At Wawa the highway picks up the shoreline of Lake Superior again and provides spectacular views of the lake. Wawa is a good place to stop for a bit of a break from driving; a chance to stretch muscles stifened from sitting too long in one position. It was a great place for a lunch stop with a view and some delightful conversation with a lady from Trinidad who now calls the north shore home.

I have some favoutie spots where I frequently linger on this journey.

Old Woman Bay is the first of the breath-taking sights. The approach to the bay is a long hill one drives down and the highway appears to change from pavement into a wide light sand beach curving off to the right and backed by a massive wall of granite. I’ve never been able to find the perfect vantage point from which to photograph this marvel and capture the awesomeness of this approach to the Lake. It is more an experience than a fixed image. But it is just the first of the ‘aha’ moments in the drive.

I’m tempted to stop and linger awhile at Montreal River Harbour. It is more typical of many of the beaches on the north shoreline. No sand here! Just large, rounded bowls created by the power of the waves on the lake that force chunks of granite to rub against one another with such force that over time rounded stone are formed. It is difficult beach to walk along. It does, though, speak to the power of the lake.

Montreal River Harbour at Trails End

Montreal River Harbour at Trails End

The beach covering ranges from pebbles to rocks the size of a human head all shaped by wave action.  This site is even more wondrous when a storm is raging on the lake and you get the chance to watch the creation process in action–rocks moving against rock. The roar of the waves and the wind are reminiscent of a great factory churning out rounded bowls.

And so a simple drive always turns into a longer drive because there is still Katharine Cove, Alona Bay, Pancake Bay, Agawa, Batchewana and on and on. I always marvel that I reach my destination. This trip was no different than all the ones before; it took much longer to get to the Sault only because of dallying along the way. I’m smiling as I write that phrase because it carries me back to a time when I was small and my father would frequently find me dallying and have to call me back to reality.

The sun shone. The traffic was light. The sights were marvellous as always. I did actually arrive at my destination only 3.5 hours later than planned. Sigh!                     GRB