Monday, February 26, 2007

Tanked Up!

Hey the water guys came through for me today so it’s laundry night tonight. I started calling them last Thursday when the reservoir in my house began to get low but with them being short a vehicle (the tank fell off one truck) it took them until today to get around to me. No town water systems up in these places and everything has to be delivered and later pumped out by truck except in some locations like Iqaluit that use a combination of underground and utilidor systems. It’s just like the gas tank on your vehicle in the winter though… don’t let it get too low because in the case of water at least you can never be sure when the next delivery might be. If something serious breaks it could be days or even weeks before repairs can be made and things get back on schedule again.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Six Degrees...

There's a neat little write-up on Wikipedia about how we are all closer than we think and I’m always amazed when I’m off in some exotic part of the country and meet either someone I know, or someone who knows someone I know, or who is from our part of the country. Yesterday I was talking to a fellow from Inukjuak who vacations with friends every summer in Kincardine, Ontario. A part of this vacation of his sometimes involves trips on Chi-Cheemaun and across Manitoulin.

When in Sanikiluaq a year or so ago I ran into a family who were living there at the time but were shortly going to move home, to Tobermory. In either Big Trout Lake or Bearskin Lake (I forget which) I met a teacher who is from Kagawong. In Fort Albany I met a teacher who is from Wikwemikong. There are many others as well who are either from or who vacation on Manitoulin.

When Gloria and I used to trade pins at the Brier every year we also met all kinds of similar people. Included in this group of curling fans was a lady who actually worked with my brother in law on the island and another who turned out to be a future mayor of Espanola! I guess it just all goes to show how inter-connected we all are.

Just Let It Simmer...

Sunday morning and the chilli’s bubblin' away. I’ve gone overboard again and made so much it will probably last me all week. That’s OK though as I leave the house early in the morning and don’t make it back until around 8:00 p.m. so after about a 12 hour work day I really don’t have time or energy to cook. Warming up leftovers is quite adequate. Warmed up chilli with some garlic toast makes a great supper.

Kidney beans, hamburger, tomatoes, green pepper, red pepper, lots of onions and whatever you want to add for spices to give it some kick. I’ve added a couple other items today and I know the corn and carrots will be OK but I’ve also included some sliced potatoes as well this time. We’ll see how it turns out.

Usually my “experiments” as Gloria calls them turn out OK but occasionally I come up with a dud that not even I can eat. Everyone else is usually very polite and say how good it is but if I don’t get the spices just right it seems like a flop to me. Oh well, we’ll keep on a cookin’ as long as people keep on eatin’ and I’ll try to post a photo of the finished product when it’s done bubblin’ away a few hours from now...

... and here it is with a little cheese and garlic bread on the side. I haven't tried it yet so I'm not too sure how the potato in the middle will be but here we go!

Hmmmm... could use more onions!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

A Sad Day

The photo on the right (posted here without permission) appears in this weeks Manitoulin Expositor. There is a story in there this week announcing that Farquar Dairies may soon be transferring their operations off-island to Espanola. I can understand this move for business reasons but to me it is a sad day indeed to see the world famous Farquar ice cream moving away.

I first started coming to Manitoulin in the late ‘70s and one of the highlights was always the island made ice cream. When my father, who is a self proclaimed ice cream addict started his annual visits several years later it was again one of the high points of his trip to have what he called the best ice cream in the world. Yes, I know, the recipe and taste will remain the same (I hope) but some of the romance and history (major ingredients) will not be there any more and in my mind I wonder what the first cone of next year will taste like.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Good Weekend

Sunday is usually my one day off a week (if I get one at all) and this is what I would call a rare “Good TV” day. It actually started last night with a choice of a couple movies I enjoy, Castaway and the 5th Element. While neither makes my Top Ten list they are both shows that I can watch without too many nasty comments… except for the idiot “Ruby” in the latter movie setting me off.

Today has continued with the morning draw of the Scotties Tournament of Hearts, followed by the Daytona 500 this afternoon and then we’ll get the evening curling draw tonight. Gloria and I went to 10 Labatt Briers in a row and are still members of the infamous “James Bay Gang” of curling groupies that try to hit as many Briers, Hearts and other events as possible. Over the years we were fortunate enough to have met, talked with and even had a beer or two with some of the curling greats. My personal favourite is still Eddie “The Wrench” Werenich and dozens of others that if I try to list them all I’d mess up and leave someone out. Oh, I’ve got to mention Pat “Elvis” Ryan, Rick Lang. “The Iceman” Al Hackner and of course “Brier Bear” himself. We’ve met millionaires, paupers, farmers, TV personalities, truck drivers, hydro linemen, musicians and hundreds and hundreds of real down home people who are fans, just like us. These people restore my faith in humanity and they make the Brier the best possible place to be for 10 days in March.

Over the years we became known as serious pin traders and have a collection of thousands of lapel pins (mostly Brier) that includes two personal pins that have became collectors items in their own right. I really miss that part of our life and hopefully we’ll be able to get back on the circuit, do some serious pin trading and renew some of the old friendships once again.

Hey… The Brier is just down the road in Hamilton this year. Treat yourself, take in at least the weekend package and bring me back a pin, will ‘ya!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

The Doors Open In

Just reading about all the storms in upper New York and it reminded me that in the north, all doors open in. There are many stories of people that were trapped in their homes for days at a time behind a door that wouldn’t open out against the snowdrifts.

I recall one such storm we had in Iqaluit that lasted a couple days. The morning after it ended I was heading to work and in places literally walking even with the power lines on top of the power poles. Took a few days to dig everyone out after that one!

Some lessons learned? Always keep a few extra days food and water in the house along with candles, batteries for flashlight and radios, a few good books and TP!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Inukjuak - February 5

Well we’re on the road again for a few weeks and right now I’m in Inukjuak, Quebec. Formerly known as Port Harrison, Inukjuak is located about half way up the east coast of Hudson’s Bay. There have been fur trading posts here since the early 1900’s with Revilllons & Freres first, followed by the Hudson's Bay Company and now The North West Company carries on the tradition. Although trapping is not as important as it once was, living in partnership with the land and the animals is still a major force here, as it is in all First Nations communities.

Back in the early 1950’s the government forcibly took people from Inukjuak and moved them north to Grise Fjord and Resolute Bay. This was done in order to create Canadian settlements in the high arctic that would prove our sovereignty and “warn off” other countries that might be tempted to move into our circumpolar regions. I won’t go into detail here but it would have been nice if the government had asked the people if they wanted to move in the first place and also they also might have checked to make sure there was enough animal life in the new communities for people to live off. These transplants had a very hard time and it's quite the story that you might want to investigate further someday.

The weather has been about what I expected it to be, generally in the mid –30’s with the wind chill and even down to –52 walking to the store into the wind Saturday morning. Today is not too bad and the blizzard that started Friday night is supposed to taper off by tonight. The temperature is up to –12 right now so it should be just a balmy stroll up to the store. Cold very seldom bothers me but I must admit that when I got to the house Saturday night and found I was missing one of the two cans of kidney beans that I was going to make chilli with I didn’t bother back-tracking to find it somewhere behind me on the road. I’ve always found that as long as you have something tight fitting so the wind can’t get in that the low temperature won't bother you. A well wrapped scarf around your throat and lower face with a good hood on your jacket should keep you nice and toasty unless you are headed out on the land for several hours. Also important is an ordinary baseball cap worn under your hood. The peak of the cap will channel the wind away from your face even when walking into the wind. Kind of important walking into a blizzard!

I haven’t taken many photos yet this trip so the one you see up top here is one I took while passing through last summer. We’ll do our best to keep Our Manitoulin! up to date while we’re here but my internet connection is a very slow dial-up so please be patient if I get behind occasionally. I’m going to rely on MSN Messenger and all your blogs to keep me up to date on what’s happening down there everyone so you keep on writing and I’ll keep on reading!