Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Day 2

May 25... Montreal to Kangiqsujuaq

Can’t say as I’m overly excited about this trip. I have nothing against this community and in fact it provides some of the best scenery in the country, has a great bunch of people and store staff. It’s just that there wasn’t enough time off between the last trip and this one. Also, the store open hours are a bit much and make my work week while here a minimum 75 hours long and over the last few years I’ve gotten lazy with only 50 to 60 hour work weeks. Oh well.

The last time I was here would have been in the early 80’s when I used to be the travelling auditor and inventory taker for the Hudson’s Bay Company. Although the town has grown the store still looks the same to me. Oh, it’s a little bit wider but it still has that “old school” grocery store look and is in drastic need of modernizing.

These photos were taken yesterday and looking at them I must admit that I really need to get a new camera. The old Polaroid I’m still using was great in it’s time but the quality just doesn’t do it for me anymore. I wish that you could see the group I’m calling “snow surfers” in the photos as it was really spectacular to see 3 or 4 of them running up and down the fjord for several hours. Looks like fun… maybe I’ll get a chance to try it!

Monday, May 28, 2007

Day One...

May 24th... Wikwemikong to Montreal.

Well we're on the road again. It would have been nice to get a few more days off between trips this time but it just wasn’t to be.

My last trip ran long because two key people in the store decided that during their vacation (that the company pays their way south for) would be a great time to resign. If they had done so before leaving on holidays they would have had to pay their own plane tickets out which would have come to something like $1,500.00 each. Pretty good planning on their part, eh? Then to top that off when they finally did send someone in that could give the store a hand and possibly allow to me to leave a little earlier we had one of our store managers pass away from heart failure caused by diabetes. So, they had to take this new guy and send him to the store where that loss occurred. Just a part of life up here and it makes it hard to set too many firm plans.

Anyway, May 24th took me to Montreal for another night at the Quality Inn. (Do you suppose it's a sign that I'm travelling too much when when they greet me by name before I even get to the front desk?) The Sudbury to Toronto flight was good but again Air Canada strikes out on the Toronto to Montreal run. It must be several years since I had an easy connection through Pearson Airport. I’d say that out of my last 10 passages through Toronto I’ve missed my connections 5 times, had to run to make it 3 times, lost luggage twice and only had one easy and on time transition through the airport. Just one more event to make me take the train or even the bus instead of flying, unless it’s on Bearskin Airlines which has always given me an on-time, smooth, fast and friendly flight. They are a little bit more expensive than Air Canada but if you have to fly they are the way to go for sure. Too bad they don’t go to Montreal yet but I’m sure that will come some day.

When we finally did get out of Toronto (2 hours late) we had a Boeing 767 to travel on. Personally I’ve never liked this particular aircraft as their seatbelt are shorter (I'm not a small guy!) and they squash you in tighter than Westjet, which is not good. Westjet is always my LAST choice for flying. I know that many people swear by them but (in my experience) they use 737’s with extra seats put in so your knees are up against the seat in front of you, they are seldom on time and I think their attitude is unprofessional. I don’t want a stand up comic bringing me my coffee, I want someone to act like their priority is the passenger, not which page in the joke book to turn to next. I’ve always gotten the feeling that if we ever had to evacuate from Westjet one of them would be standing at the emergency exit trying to explain the punch line before we would be allowed to go down the slide.

There I go off my topic again. I was talking about the 767 and here are a couple photos of the interior for you. Those first class seats must be nice but I can’t see paying the extra for a one-hour flight to Montreal. I used to occasionally upgrade to business class when heading between Toronto and Winnipeg, and Gloria and I once flew first class from Vancouver to Montreal but unless you’re on one of those longer runs its not worth paying hundreds or thousands of dollars more just for a couple hours worth of extra leg room. That’s it for now, next entry will deal with Day 2 to Kangiqsujuaq.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Watkins Organic Cleaner

OK, I know... everyone is going to get (or already is) tired of me talking about Watkins but I'm just so completely sold on the products and company that it's hard to keep quiet about them. I just ran across a list of uses for Watkins Organic Cleaner on one of our bulletin boards that I MUST share with you. Just some of the uses for this product...

General Cleaning: Use 1 tsp to 1 qt of water. Cleans kitchen, doors, woodwork, walls, etc.

Appliances and Bathroom Fixtures: Use ¼ tsp to 1 pint of water. May help reduce odors.

Windows, Mirrors, All Glass: Use 2 drops in a 4 oz spray bottle of water. Wipe dry with paper towel. Do not use more than 2 drops or it will smear.

Dishes: Use 1 tsp in the dish water. Fill dirty pots with water and ¼ tsp of cleaner and let stand to loosen stuborn particles.

Floors: Use ½ tsp per gallon of cold water. (This concentration will not remove wax). Wring Mop to dry and wipe up spots and dirt leaving floors shiny.

Furniture: Use ¼ tsp per pint of water. With nearly dry sponge wipe off dust, fingerprints, candy, spots, etc. or use a spray bottle and clean cloth. Everything disappears from furniture leaving the finish beautifully bright and non-magnetic so the finish will not attract dust.

Spot Remover: Apply directly to soiled area, use brush to rub into area of spot. Wipe off with a damp cloth or rinse in a basin if possible.

Woolens, Silks,Nylons and All Fine Fabrics: Use 1 or 2 tsp to a basin of water. For stains apply a drop or two directly in the spot and pres in with the thumb. Immerse in cold water solution; let stand a few minutes, then rinse by squeezing water through the article and lay to dry.

Humidifier: Add afew drops each time you fill the tank. Helps the lime not to build up so fast.

Poster Paint on Windows: Use ½ tsp per qt of water.

Boat Algae: Use 1 tsp per gallon of water.

Laundry: Top loader, use 1/8 to ¼ cup per load. The first time you use, run machine through a complete cycle, before adding clothes ti get all old fillers out of your machine.

Remove Set In Stains From Clothes: Removes mildew from clothes. Takes magic marker, gum, or ink out of clothes. Takes tar off of mats.

Use as a Prewash: On clothes.

Add 1 Capful to Generation III: To take sweat smell out of cloths.

Use On Ring Around The Collar: Mix with Degreaser to remove set in stains. Removes body oils from polyester knits.

Soak Drapes In Organic Cleaner And Degreaser: Removes yellowing from cigarette smoke.

Clean Carpet or Upholstry: Use 1 to 2 tsp in carpet shampooer.

Windshield Washers: Add 1 to 2 drops each time you fill washer tank. For summer use only.

Shoe Cleaner: Use 2 drops on a wet cloth, will not remove the wax. Shine with a dry cloth. You can also add a drop or two in a spray bottle of water to spray on shoes. Works super for white baby shoes.

Battery Terminals: Use ½ tsp per pint of water. Spray on battery terminals, let soak for 2 minutes then clean with wire brush.

Add Organic Cleaner: To chicken plucking water and they clean so much better. Great to use when cleaning ducks and geese. (1 capul per gallon of water).

People Planted Trees: They soaked some trees in a 5 gallon bucket with 1 tbls Organic Cleaner per gallon of water. Then they poured the water in the holes that were dug for the trees. The trees planted that year grew 12 inches taller than the trees planted the year before.

A Person Transplanted Trees: Transplanted trees when they were leafed out. They poured water with Organic Cleaner in every other hole. The treated trees lived and the other trees that had only water in the holes died. Try this when planting your garden plants.

Wash Car: Use 1 tsp per gallon of water to wash car. Removes bugs. Wax with good wax, then spray with Watkins Lemon Furniture Polish for a great shine.

Clean White Wrought Iron: Use 1 tsp per gallon of water.

Eyeglasses: Use 1 to 2 drops in a spray bottle to clean eyeglasses.

Smoke Film: Use 1 to 2 tsp per gallon of water to remove smoke film after a fire.

Wash Fruits and Vegetables: Use 1 tsp in large bowl or pan to wash your fruits and vegetables, or use in spray bottle for smaller batches. Makes them stay fresh longer.

Use to Water Your Lawn: 32 oz mixing bottle attached to hose, mix 4 oz Organic Cleaner with water. This covers approximately 1,000 sq ft. With two applications in the hot, fry summer the grass stays greener than others in the neighborhood. It makes the soil absorb water better. Also good on other outdoor and indoor plants.

Kills Bugs: Use 1 tsp in trigger sprayer of hot water; spray on bugs and they drop over dead. This is safe for the environment. This makes water wetter and it penetrates the bodies of the bugs and kills them with no chemicals. Works of Most Garden Bugs.

Christmas Trees: Put in water for Christmas trees and they will draw up more moisture. Put drops around house plants also. Also makes cut flowers last longer.

Wash Face: Take equal parts of Organic Cleaner and Aloe Vera Juice and wash face with it for 1 week. This clears up Acne.

Prevents Steam on Windows: Use 1 or 2 drops in 4 oz spray bottle.

Before Putting in Contact Lens: Wash hands with Organic Cleaner, using just a few drops. Organic Cleaner will not leave a residue on your hands and is less expensive than optical soap.

Outside The House: Use to clean siding and awnings.

Mix With Pine Oil: For use as a bathroom cleaner.

Remove Sticky Deposits of Tape and Decals: Use a few drops directly on the residue.

Clean Wall Paper: Use diluted solution on damp sponge or cloth.

Wash Your Hair: If you get really grungy use to shampoo your hair. Always finish with Watkins Aloe Vera hair conditioner.

Prevent Ring-Around-the-Tub: A capful in the bath will prevent ring-around-the-tub. Also prevents that gummy feeling when you finish your bath. Great for soaking the kids.

Now to be honest I haven't tried all these tips out yet so I can't personally endorse them but knowing the quality of other Watkins products I have no doubt that the above will work and there are probably a lot more uses as well.

Watkins Red Liniment

Just thought I'd let everyone know that I've only got one (1) bottle of the Watkins Red Liniment left in my inventory at this time. This is such a great product I always try to keep some on hand at all times so I WILL be placing an order in the next few days. Let me know if you would like to give it a try but you know that if a Major League player like Johan Santana is endorsing it that it just has to be great!

I shouldn't tell you yet but... this item is going to be on sale at $4.00 off during June. Place your order now and we'll order it then and get you the $9.99 sale price for delivery to you in June.

Need a catalogue? Let me know and I'll drop off or get one in the mail to you right away. Thanks!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Welcome to the Niska Inn!

Please give a warm welcome to one of the newest web sites in my group. This one is the Niska Inn located in Moosonee, Ontario. The Inn is located just a couple minutes from the shores of the mighty Moose River and has all the usual amenities plus the chance to see a seal or beluga whale. Not too many locations offer that! By the way, Moosonee is Ontario's only seaport and is a neighbour to Moose Factory which is located on an island in the middle of the river and is Ontario's oldest European settlement. In summer you take canoe taxi's back and forth between the two communities and over freeze-up and break-up the only way to travel is by helicopter. It's worth taking the train trip up there on either the "Polar Bear Express" or the "Little Bear" and if you need any information just let me know or send an email to Dan and Nancy at the Niska Inn. Tell 'em "Our Manitoulin" sent you!

Montreal Overnight

May 18th and Day 43 brought me awake at 5:00 a.m. to catch an 8:00 a.m. flight that would be my first leg on my last day of travel for this trip. I would always rather be early than late so I grabbed the 5:30 shuttle from the Quality Inn on Cote de Liesse to P.E.T. airport. I’m never sure how much to tip the shuttle driver, or even if I should. Generally I give them $2 as my reasoning is that if every person they carry that day gives them $1 or $2 then they will be making more than I am. I have occasionally given up to $5 for a really dynamic and friendly driver or absolutely $0 for one that I believe is in the wrong line of work. Maybe a tip would “friendly” them up though and I know I have far too many bad days myself so I always feel a little guilty when I don’t tip. I can just imagine what kind of mood I’d be in myself after driving all day long in Montreal traffic. City driving is something I have to gear myself up for and I know how drained I feel after a trip down Metropolitan and Decarie Boulevards, not to mention having to through downtown in rush hour!

But I digress…

I’m really starting to like those little automatic check-in machines at the airports. You just insert your Aeroplan or credit card, punch in your flight number and there you are, an electronic entity. Sort of makes you wonder where else the bits and bytes of your being is stored, doesn’t it? After that you get the chance enter the number of bags you are checking in and then review and change your seat assignment if you wish. Personally I always switch to an emergency row window if one is available as these seats give you a little more room in front and sometimes they are even just double seating instead of three across. Once you've made any changes you want to out will pop any boarding passes that you need and after that you just have to stop at one of the many luggage drop-off stations to show your ID and drop off your suitcase. Quick and painless.

In Montreal I normally then head around the corner to Burger King for my morning "Croissandwich" and coffee where I relax for a half hour or so before heading through security.

I don’t remember which airline it was but once flying off to some Lions Convention in the US I actually got a single large seat on the emergency row, which was great. On that particular flight you could also pick up the air traffic control frequency on your headset. A great deal of the time when I’m on the computer that is what I am listening to anyway and as a matter of fact I’m just hearing a Perimeter Airlines “Metro II” being cleared to final approach into Winnipeg. Just part of the fascination I have with flying and aircraft in general. By the way, if you check out this particular link at FlightAware you can see what’s flying over Manitoulin Island right now. If you’d really like to get exotic check out LiveATC where you can listen in on hundreds of airports around the world.

But I digress… again…

We were out of Montreal over a half hour late because our pilots were late getting in from Newfoundland due to weather delays. No reason to panic yet as I would have over an hour to spare between flights in Toronto. So I got to the gate in Toronto to find that my 10:10 flight had been delayed until 11:40 because the 8:00 flight had been cancelled due to mechanical problems. This messed everything for the rest of the day and as there were no spare aircraft available we had to wait for a flight to come in from Windsor so we could “borrow” it for our flight to Sudbury. Anyway, we made into YSB a couple hours late and I grabbed my rental car, a Toyota Yaris this time as my PT Cruiser wasn't available, darn it! The Yaris is a fun little vehicle to drive and has a lot more room and power than I thought it would have.

So, I’m home and content for a few days but have to leave again shortly for another stint in Northern Quebec. It will be a few weeks in Kangiqsujuaq this time and then back home for hopefully a couple weeks off at least. In the meantime I’m going to enjoy my short visit home and try to get caught up with some neglected web site and Watkins / Summit Group projects. It was also great to hit the Manitoulin Farmers Market in Mindemoya on Saturday and I’m also going to try for the one in Little Current on Tuesday. I hope to see you there!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Notes on a plane...

Thursday, May 17th, Day 42 of this trip.

Out of Inukjuak on time at 3:00 p.m.. I had been a little bit worried last night when the snow started blowing and the wind started rattling the windows but the dawn brought calm weather. Apparently the main storm had hit south of us as our Dash 8 aircraft skipped over Umiujaq as they still hadn’t had time to get enough snow off the airstrip for us to land. So it was straight to Kuujjuarapik for the mandatory debarking, luggage claiming and security clearing routine that I have spoken of before. We were all surprised by the warm south wind that greeted us as we got off the plane. Some passengers were still wearing their winter parkas and I heard one woman comment that it felt like berry picking time. This was a bit of wishful thinking as there is still lots of snow on the ground and Hudson’s Bay is still ice filled. Much of it does have the distinctive blue “candled” appearance in many places so it won’t be long before it starts to seriously beak up and melt though. I would say that we were close to the La Grand hydro complex before the last of the snow started disappearing from the shores around the lakes and rivers below us.

Once again I was surprised by the appearance of trees around Kuujjuarapik as my mind seems to forget their existence after a month or so on the tundra. You seem to get so used to seeing the open horizons and rock strewn islands that even the smallest bush can cause excitement. I remember once years ago when I was taking a vacation after almost two years inland that I was downright shocked by the colour green around my hometown in the Eastern Townships of Quebec. It wasn’t so much the trees as where I’d been had lots of scrub spruce and other fir trees but the appearance of a leaf on a maple or oak tree just shocked me for several minutes. I had simply forgotten about their existence.

Anyway, we were the normal group of passengers coming out of the north on this flight. Patients headed south for doctors appointments, people who had been visiting or were going to visit relatives, workers like myself who had finished up their assignments and contracts and even a couple students who were headed to Montreal to pick up graduation gowns and other paraphernalia. Those of you who head to Sudbury or maybe locations farther to shop may find it hard to believe that people in the north may have to travel thousands of miles and spend well over $1,000.00 just on a plane ticket to Montreal to pick up a prom dress but it’s true, and a fact of life for many arctic citizens.

I’m going to close this off now before it drags on too long but I’ll continue this saga in another blog entry. See ‘ya!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Welcome Pituvik!

And the latest member of the family of web sites maintained by yours truly is that of the Pituvik Landholding Corporation of Inukjuak, Nunavik, Quebec. Check out the photos including the ones under the "Community" section and you'll see why I keep heading north. Of course, Manitoulin scenery is fantastic also but there is just something about the Barren Lands of the Arctic and the tundra that appeals to me.

Monday, May 07, 2007

The Walrus...

Since we seem to be on a wildlife theme lately, did I ever tell you that they call me “Aivik” in many of the Inuit communities? I have no idea why.

I’ve also been mistaken for Wilfred Brimley, “Mr. Oatmeal” occasionally and was once even asked what my favourite movie had been.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Missed again...

I understand that we've had another visitor around town the past few nights. Haven't seen him/her either yet, darn it!