Tuesday, September 30, 2008

New ship in town...

I stopped by the Little Current docks for a few minutes today and this ship was tied up. She is the United States Geological Survey ship Sturgeon, out of Cheboygan, Michigan and at 101' long it was an impressive site to see. I'm not too sure what it's in town for but the USGS has lately been investigating the decline in fresh fish in the great lakes so something to do with this is a safe bet.

Make sure you stop by these docks if you are a visitor to Manitoulin. It's full of boats of all sizes throughout the summer but looks pretty quite right now. Come take a look in July or August and you'll see a big difference. The bandstand can be a real hoppin' place also, especially during Haweater Weekend. What's Haweater Weekeng you ask? You'll just have to come and see for yourself, the first long weekend in August every year. I'll save you a hot dog!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Things I had to come to Manitoulin to see...

I've looked for one of these things for years and last night my mission was accomplished. One of the neighbours dropped off some beets from her garden and when Gloria was getting them ready to cook into pickles this thing hopped out and onto her shirt. Wow, what a fantastic insect. He willingly walked onto my hand and slowly made its way up my arm over the next few minutes. Right now he/she is on a plant on the deck where I let it crawl to after that.

Other things I've only seen here?And oh yeah, don't tell Gloria because I didn't, but there was one of these on the road near the house when I came home yesterday. Just a small one, maybe 3 feet but definately a Massassauga Rattler, probably one of the last in this area as it's been 2 or 3 years since I last saw one. They normally do everything they can to avoid humans but I guess the warm road was just too much for this one after these cool autumn nights. They probably wouldn't kill you but with the closest antidote being many hours away in Toronto you have to wonder what the experience would be like. You try it first and let me know, OK?

October 5th: I'm told that it is most likely a Fox Snake that we occasionally see on the road near our house and not a Massassauga Rattler. Tell you what... next time I see it I'll give you a call and you can go pick it up to examine more closely. I'll stay in the car, thank you! :-)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Home from the hospital (garage)…

The little car is all better and home where it belongs with no damage to the transmission. What happened was that the radiator blew and when that happened anti-freeze found its way down into the transmission casing. Because I had it off the road and shut down within a couple hundred feet and in less than 30 seconds there was no serious damage. I was just lucky that I was in a place where I could do that, and I have this nasty image of how much fun it would have had I had been in the middle of the Champlain Bridge in Montreal.

Even though they say it’s OK I’m still going to take it back in a few hundred kilometers to have them flush it out again just to make sure nothing nasty shows up, but at this time everything looks good. The bottom line is a new radiator, a few seals, hoses, clamps, fluids and only a few hundred instead of a few thousand dollars. We’ll keep you posted.

A trail less travelled...

I spent a few hours yesterday at one of my favorite spots on Manitoulin, McLean’s Park. It’s a couple kilometers down New England Road lined with trees whose branches overhang the gravel road. I’ll post some photos of that in a couple weeks after the colors have started to change.

I go out there as often as I can just to enjoy the silence and walk the trails while occasionally enjoying a pipe full of whatever tobacco I have at the time. There is an old porcupine that I see quite often and though I didn’t get a glimpse of him yesterday I could hear him shuffling through the leaves a ways off the trail. The routes vary from short to over 7 kilometers and you can cut back and forth among most of them to create your own customized tour. The vegetation varies and there are many old trees that have been well worked by the woodpeckers. Naturally you have a chance of seeing raccoon, deer and there must be black bear around also.

Park facilities are clean and well kept and some days I don’t even hit the trails at all but just sit at one of the tables reading and reflecting. Only rarely do you see anyone else there and other than an occasional car or school bus going by it’s a very quiet and peaceful location, except for the scolding of the chipmunks of course! They seem to think the forest is their private domain and anyone visiting is violating their space. Maybe they’re right.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Trade in or keep?

It turns out that my little red car is going to be OK and the repair costs won’t be too bad. As soon as I realized something was wrong I got it off the road and shut down within 200 feet and that saved it. Still, I’ve been driving this Jeep since last week and I must admit that the style and feel have grown on me. I also like the 4-wheel drive option as where we live can be quite nasty sometimes in the winter. We haven’t had any problems that we couldn’t deal with up to now, but the idea of kicking it into 4-low and not having to worry about the snowplow being late would give me a little peace of mind.

I won’t touch this particular vehicle however because of things I’ve mentioned before and another problem that I’ve discovered since, but I think I could be talked into the same or a similar model without too much difficulty. Has anyone out there ever had a Jeep and if so, did you have any problems?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

I love a good debate...

I have never voted Green before but was seriously considering supporting Elizabeth May and specifically Lorraine Rekmans in our riding this time but now I'm not so sure. Look at their promises so far…

$6.2 billion next year: to buy carbon credits to meet Canada’s Kyoto Accord commitments. / Buying credits isn’t meeting Kyoto promises, it’s just BS and attempting to sooth a guilty conscience while fooling everyone into thinking we're making a difference. All the crap will still be in the air and the polar bears will go on starving in the heat, but we’ve planted a few trees in a rain forest somewhere so I guess it will be all OK now.

$5.2 billion next year: a carbon tax rebates for taxpayers. / What, are we supposed to feel better because we’ve created another multi-billion dollar deficit that we are now going to have to pay interest on for how many generations to come?

$16.2 billion next year: a carbon tax holiday for business. / Excuse me, business is causing most of the problems and we’re supposed to reward them for fupping us all up? No, here's the rules, here's the reasonable time limit allowed, do it or someone else will.

$5 billion next year: income splitting for all adults. / Sorry, I don’t fully understand this. What the heck is income splitting and how do I get my share of this refund? My personal opinion (and feel free to disagree and let me know) is that there should be only one income earner per household. This would prevent a huge percentage of the population from living beyond their means and depending on credit cards and also reduce the unemployment at the same time. Would this hurt me as well? Yes, but I still feel it has to be done for the good of the family and the economy.

$ 8.6 billion over three years: to help relieve student debt and increase funding to the provinces for post-secondary education. / OK, education is important but please explain to me why it costs $30,000 a year to attend university anyway. Cut out all the useless sport programs that serve no purpose and you’ll save millions that could be put into real education and not game playing.

As I said, feel free to disagree and tell me so because I like a good argument, win or lose.

Oh, and let me know if you want to get into the +$80,000,000,000.00 (not a made up number) that our buddy Mr. Dion has promised to spend. What are we to do? Do YOU want to pay taxes to cover interest payments on that kind of bill?

Oh, for another Pierre Trudeau who was a true scholar and not afraid to do what had to be done while saying to hell with what anyone thought about him personally. Yes, I was a Trudeaumaniac and I'm proud to say so. Unfortunately the politicians today are not of the same calibre that he was.

September 22: OK, a little education from my wife explained the obvious about income splitting to me. I knew what it was all along and must have just been too tired when I wrote the original note last night. At least I can use that as an excuse, can't I?

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Family photos...

Keeping with the “photo” theme I just ran across an interesting one from Boxing Day 2006 on Gloria’s Facebook site. Wow… Patrick, Myself, Sandra with Nicholas, Andrew and Gloria. The second one is of my Father with my Aunt Maude from I don’t know when, probably one of their birthdays.

Photographs and memories…

You know it occurs to me that there are huge gaps in my life during which I have no photographs. I’ve always said that I didn’t need photos because I had a memory… but is that memory accurate and what about after the memory goes? There are things I wish I could see again just to grasp some point of reality and not just a blurred image of people, places and events but again, what when the memory goes? Would having a picture in front of me even mean anything? Would I know who or what it’s a photo of? Will a person even know a photo is a photo? Then again, I like my memories and have probably tailored them to be just so but still, I wish...

Friday, September 19, 2008

You’re possibly addicted to Facebook when…

… you start to know your opponents by their name and profiles. Take Joan here for example. I’ve fought her on “BBQ Fight!” many times before and know her by heart. I know when she’s added new upgrades, I know which grill she will upgrade to next, I know when she’s stronger or weaker than I am, I know when I can (got ‘cha this time!) out cook her easily. The problem however is that she’s not the only one and this is not the only pastime that I pass time with. There is also “My House” and the various “Slot Machines” and “Scratch Tickets” I have to play daily. Don’t you DARE stand in the way of my “Bingo” or especially not my “Texas Hold’em” in which I have been in the money for all but one week in the last 4 months! Sigh… what’s next. I wonder if there is such a thing as an actual, physical Bingo hall out there? No, don’t tell me… I don’t want to know!


My new favorite breakfast… Watkins Pumpkin Butter on toast with Cinna-Cream Sprinkles. Mmmm….

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Transmission? Transmission? We don’t need no steeenkeeng transmission!

My apologies to Bogart and how many out there remember which of his movies I’ve modified that line from?

So my nice little car that I bought on July 2 and haven’t even put 3,000km on yet kicked me in the butt today. I was headed over to Michael’s Bay to meet a guy I had been corresponding with for the past couple years about Manitoulin and Watkins and only made it as far as Sandfield. The engine went vroom and she just sort of coasted to a stop. I got it mostly off the road but there was no warning, no lights on the dash, just vroom and then the cloud of smoke and smell of burning. Anyone want to buy a blown transmission?

Sigh… A fast call to CAA got me a tow within 45 minutes to the dealer I’d bought it from, and since I had been over there last week looking at a Jeep Liberty that’s what they gave me for a loaner. To continue the day’s events I got about 5 miles towards home when the engine warning light on this one came on. Aaarrrgghhhh!!!!! I called the dealer again (one mile earlier and I wouldn’t have been in cell phone range) and they told me to bring it back. When I got there they put the computer on it and there you go, just a sensor they said, it’s OK to drive without any damage. So why do they bother putting a warning light at all if there is no chance of damage? Hmmm… I’ve brought it home anyway but you really have to nurse it. If you give it too much gas too fast it hesitates and jerks and isn’t much fun to drive. So much for considering a Jeep, or at least that particular one. I think I’ll take it back tomorrow and see if they can give me something else instead. It’s OK, I was starting to get bored with retirement and needed a little change to the daily routine anyway.

September 21 Follow Up...The Jeep has run perfect for the past two days. As soon as the warning light went out everything started purring like it should. Still makes me nervous about this particular machine though. Think I may just order a new one instead.

Sleepless on Manitoulin…

Here it is the middle of the night and I can’t sleep. Too many plans, too many projects, too many memories of the past 35 years on the road… and some from earlier than that.

A bit of advice to all who are about to retire… You know all those things that you always said you would do after you’ve packed it all in? Well don’t try to start doing them all at the same time! Pace yourself, indulge yourself for a few weeks with some complete relaxation, reflecting, contemplation and planning of your next move. Then (and only then) start just one of those projects and work up to the rest as time permits later on. Try the one out, get comfortable with it, play with it and have some fun. After all, you’ve earned it and deserve it, right?

Am I doing it this way? Of course not, I’m too accustomed to running 14 things at the same time in the stores while trying to coordinate 10 or 20 staff members to do the same. My wife always said that I have an addiction to adrenaline and I think maybe she’s right. I’m truly the happiest when I’m actually trying to get every single one of those 14+ things done by the end of the day, but I’m realizing now that is has taken its toll over the years. I won’t get into any medical problems (real or imaginary) in this blog but I’ll just say that you have no idea how much of a downer it is when that type of demand is suddenly taken away from you. It used to hit me as soon as I stepped on a plane when leaving a community and I would just collapse in my seat in a state of complete exhaustion and fatigue. The thing is though… that rush would always start up again in a few days or a few weeks and I’d be back to my old overdrive self who thought this was normal and that I was feeling great. Guess what… now there is no new trip coming up in a few days and I’m having withdrawal symptoms from my 35 year addiction.

My hopes for a cure? Daily updating of all my web sites, taking on new duties for a couple of them, adding a new one or two, trying to contact and get to sign up on Facebook everyone that I've ever met in past 50+ years, setting up a table at a weekly flea market, setting up and conducting a meeting with over 500 people to pitch Watkins as a fundraising idea (that's going to have the adrenaline pumping), searching daily for new and prospective associates all over the continent, hoping to update this blog every day and renewing some past acquaintances. Hmmm… that’s not 14 projects, guess I have to try harder. Autumn of my life indeed... I think I many need HELP!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

What do you think...

Everyone out there knows how much I love children, right? Well, I was offered a job a couple days ago driving a school bus. I can start just as soon as I upgrade my drivers license. What do you think? NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO!!!!

Although if one of these next two vehicles were offered to me I might be tempted to take it for a spin around the island once or twice.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

My New Toy...

I decided recently that it was time to add a second vehicle to use for our Watkins business. This is what I finally went with as the price was right, it was clean and had very low kilometers. I even took it over to a local garage to have them crawl over it to try to find something wrong but other than needing a good set of winter tires soon there were no problems at all. It's a few years old but has been very well maintained and the brakes appear to be new. It's a Dodge SX2.0 and is one very fun little vehicle to drive with lots of perk when you need it. We'll have to wait and see how it performs in the snow this winter but so far I'm very happy with the purchase and as an added bonus, it's even a tax deduction!

I hope you keep an eye out for us (with the Watkins signage on the back doors) and we look forward to meeting all your Watkins needs for many years to come.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Wondering thoughts…

Everyone needs a passion,
everyone needs to belong.
Everyone needs to have goals,
everyone needs a song.

We are all a part of the ethic,
our souls must be firm and true.
But everyone needs a few cracks,
that’s where our light shines through.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

We are what we choose to be...

“And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” (T. S. Elliot)

Does the man define the job or does the job define the man? Am I the same person that I was a few days ago?

I’m now my own boss, I’ve got my passion back and I see a future ahead and not just an arbitrary date when some ready-or-not life changing event is supposed to occur.

Therefore in this case although the man has been shaped by what he was, he is now defined by what he visions his future to be.

“Your thoughts drive your actions, Your actions drive your results, Your results become your future.” (Anon)

Hey, I bet you tomorrow is going to be one really great day and I hope you’re all a part of it with me!