Monday, October 20, 2008

October 20, 2008 - Post election ramblings

So is everybody happy that the election is over and you don’t have to see those wanker party leaders trashing each other on the news every night? Ana and I really paid close attention to this election, especially the issues related to where we live, which are mainly aboriginal land claims and manufacturing. We were happy that the Conservative guy in our riding won as we felt it was time for a fresh face, especially one that was part of the ruling party which will hopefully attract greater attention to our issues.

I must say that I was quite disgusted with the “vote anything but Conservative” that was promoted by a number of groups, such as the vote swapping websites and even the premier of Newfoundland! I was also shocked to hear Elizabeth May say that it might be better for Green party supporters to vote Liberal in some ridings. What?? The whole event seemed very negative to me. It seems to me that when we vote we should be voting for the person and party who we think will do the best job and move Canada in the direction that we agree with. It’s easy to shoot down ideas and trash peoples’ reputations but a whole lot harder to devise and sell policies that are good compromises and not impossible to implement. Contrary to popular belief, I think Elizabeth May and the Greens did a terrible job at the debates; instead of showcasing their good ideas and drumming support for her candidates all she did was join the others in bashing Harper. I am not a member of any particular party so I just vote for whichever party has the best leader and from everything I saw there was only one leader sitting around that table. Don’t forget, you’re not voting for the guy you’d most like to have a beer with, if you did then everybody who could would have voted for Duceppe; instead you vote for the best able to lead. That’s what I did. When the next election comes around, I’ll once again look at the options and make up my mind then.  It certainly seems the economy is in for a bollocking so we'll see how well this government does handles the country during difficult times.

Wow, bet you didn’t know this was a political blog!


Sunday, September 7, 2008

September 7, 2008 - A Rainy Sunday

I love port wine but it does tend to leave a bit of a sting the next day.  Our compadres Arthur and Rosa were over last night for a big steak barbeque - it was our first visit practically all summer as we've all been so busy with weekend trips.  We followed up the big meal with a solid hour in the hot tub and a few glasses of port.  The only way Rose could convince Arthur to leave was promises of bacon the following morning, which I'm sure helped with the unavoidable hangover.

Mom was in town last week for a visit and we took her to Grand Bend, which seems to have become our favourite summer hang-out.  The weather was excellent for her visit and she spent a lot of time with the kids.  After here she went to Ottawa to spend a few days with the Leifmeister.

We had an excellent weekend trip to Vancouver for Ana's cousin Nancy's wedding a few weeks ago.  We lucked out with sunny weather which is clearly quite unusual for that place.  We managed to meet up with Mark and Linda for a coffee in the morning before the wedding then I slipped away during the reception to sneak a quick pint with the old fellah, which was quite easy as they just live around the block from the hotel.  We started planning for the upcoming Bassmaster fishing tourney up at his cabin near Kingston.

It's been a very gratifying summer for us, we've been on loads of trips and seen a lot more of southern Ontario, which was our goal for the year.

For some reason the words aren't coming too fast today so I better wrap it up here before this gets really boring...


Thursday, July 17, 2008

July 17, 2008 - Lunchtime at Work

Cold beer, hot days, pleasant nights, weekend trips, fresh fruit, bare feet, green grass.  Summer in Ontario is full on and we’ve been loving it!  Ana’s mission is for us to visit somewhere interesting each and every weekend all summer and so far we’re right on track.  Upcoming trips will include Montreal this weekend, possibly my cousin’s Jeff’s wedding in Saskatoon after that, and then up to Mark’s cabin near Kingston to meet Marty, Jen and Leif for the August long weekend.  In August we have Ana’s cousin Nancy’s wedding in Vancouver and a couple other more local trips planned.  It will be anything but boring. 

By aunt and uncle Barb and Gerry were here visiting for ten days and we had lots of fun and plenty of laughs.  My favourite phrase about uncle Gerry is, “the location may change but the jokes remain the same” – fortunately, they always make me laugh, especially the ones that come out after he’s had three beers.  The kids have been asking about uncle Gerry almost every day since he left – they got way too used to his constant attention with wrestling, throwing them around, singing songs, playing games, the best of which was “fetch uncle Gerry another cold beer”.  My dad was also in town for about a week and we all took a weekend trip to Bayfield on Lake Huron, which I think is our favourite region of Ontario so far.

I was back in Saskatchewan in June for the annual fishing trip which was loads of fun as usual.  Marty made it back for this one too which was an extra bonus.  We spent a lot of time on the trip talking about how much fun it’s going to be when Magnus, Leif and Stella can join us, it will definitely add a whole new dimension to the trip.  The main change is we’ll probably have to switch to hard liquor because there will be no room for kids and 16 cases of beer in the boat.  Then again, I suppose the kids could be towed on a raft or something. 

Magnus will be starting junior kindergarten at a French immersion school in September and he’s very excited about it.  It will be a sad day for Stella, though, when her best buddy starts being away from her for a whole day at a time - they really are the best of friends and have great fun together. 

We have had some sad news recently - a dear friend of the family, Grace, succumbed to cancer after a long battle.  She was one of the kindest and most generous people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.  Tragically, her husband was killed a few years ago in a tragic car accident, leaving their two daughters parentless.  Thankfully they are both extremely mature, strong, independent and capable which they will definitely need to get through this.  We hope to be able to support them in whatever way we can as they have been through a terrible time. 

Time to sign off.


Monday, April 21, 2008

April 21, 2008 - Paradise Island, Bahamas

In the midst of the Canadian spring/summer turnaround we decided to take off on one last winter getaway - to Nassau, Bahamas.  Unfortunately it was forecast to be in the low 20's in southern Ontario which robs us of the opportunity to enhance our tropical enjoyment by pitying the frozen folks at home.  But on the bright side, we noticed on the news that Alberta and Saskatchewan were just hammered with a late winter blizzard which does lend us some smug comfort.

Nassau is a special place for us as it's where Ana and I met ten years ago.  In fact, yesterday we took the kids for a walk over to Atlantis and went to the exact spot in the casino where we first met.  It seems that much has changed since then, but many things have also stayed the same - our passion for travel, our love for life and many of our friendships from those days which remain intact.  I had forgotten how incredible the Atlantis hotel is, from the amazing detail of the architecture to the abundant marine life which seems to be everywhere.  It is certainly one of the most amazing man made creations in the Caribbean and not to be missed.

We found a great deal on an all-inclusive hotel called Paradise Island Harbour Resort.  This is our first real experience with an all-inclusive place and we've been quite happy with it.  The best part is not having to prepare any meals and surprisingly the food is pretty good.  The only irritation thus far is the place is full of young college kids from Boston who are on some sort of school break now, and are taking full advantage of the underage drinking possibilities here.  We can't complain too much since it wasn't that long ago when we were that age, though I can't remember my folks having enough money to send me off to a Bahamian resort for a week!

There has been quite a bit more development here since last time, but overall not that much seems to have changed.  We're hoping to meet up with an old friend, Sheldon Johnson, while we're here which will be great.  Sadly, we've lost touch with our other good Bahamian friend Ruthie which is sad as we would have been very happy to see her again.

I am quite sure that yesterday Stella had the best day of her life.  She woke up at 8am in an incredibly good mood and bounded out of the door and raced down to the pool, waving her hands and hollering.  She had a big breakfast then spent hours outside playing on the beach, dipping in the ocean. running around the pool and playing with her brother.  She then dozed off on a patio lounger under the shade of a cabana and palm trees with a strong breeze keeping her cool.  She slept for a full two hours then woke up smiling ready for more action.  She ate a big lunch then hopped on my shoulders for a walk to Atlantis, where she was thrilled to see the sharks, fish and rays cruising around in the giant aquariums.  Upon our return she had a huge supper, then another swim in the pool and stroll on the beach and returned to the room for a nice bath and an hour of Dora before nodding off for a full night sleep.  A great day for the kids always means a great day for us.

The advantage of taking a winter vacation now is that we'll be heading back to the start of a lovely Ontario summer.

Well, better get down for breakfast!


Thursday, March 6, 2008

March 6, 2008 – Home, Dusty Home

The Canadian winter drags on.  And on.  Blah.

We are past the worst of it now but there’s definitely no obvious spring in sight as we just got walloped with another 20 centimeters of snow with another 15 expected for the weekend.  To make things worse I got an early morning phone call from two friends in Christchurch, New Zealand who are enjoying the beautiful summer there.  I didn’t tell them about the weather here – they are not the kind of guys who show sympathy for that sort of thing.  Or anything, really.

We’ve been working madly to get some vacations in the pipeline but they keep getting thwarted for one reason or another.  We do have a trip to Saskatoon planned for Easter which we’re all looking forward to, especially Magnus.  Every time we put his jacket on to go somewhere he says, “We’re going to Grandma’s now!”  Sorry kid, just going grocery shopping again.

With the lack of a decent real estate project at the moment we decided instead to finish our basement, which has put our house in a constant state of dust, at least the basement area.  We tendered out the whole job and Ana’s parents quoted zero dollars, which seemed like a decent price so we hired them.  I did pitch in by doing the electrical work, though you’re never really sure if you’ve done a good job until you’ve connected everything to the panel.  If nothing happens when you switch on the breaker, that’s likely a good sign.  If holes blow through the drywall, it’s usually a bad sign.  I should be ready to flip the switch Saturday morning and you can be sure I’ll be wearing a welder’s face shield just in case.

You may see some changes in the website soon as we are doing a makeover to spruce it up a bit.  Ana is taking an interesting “Ebiz” course which has given her some new ideas to try out.  You may have also noticed we’re working on a book.  The preliminary title now is “The Grand Adventure” and I’ve been having a wicked fun time writing it.  I’ve developed a daily writing ritual that begins at 6 am and lasts until either 7 am or when Stella gets up, whichever comes first!  It is going to be full of travel tips, but not the kind of tips you can find in any of the hundreds of guide books available (travel with a valid passport, drink bottled water, lock your door, la de da de da…BORING), they will be less obvious, more valuable and, best of all, wrapped up within the context of many travel stories.  We’re taking a much more personal approach to discussing travel, focusing on friendships, culture, personalities and even backpacker spirituality.  It’s a chance to relive and relate some of our most amazing experiences, many of which we’ve probably never told to anyone.  We’re hoping the book will be a fantastic addition to any traveler’s library.  Sign up for our distribution list and you will be the first to know when the book becomes available.

That’s all the news for now, stay cozy.


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

January 22, 2008 - Madeira Beach, Florida, a balcony overlooking the Gulf of Mexico

I have the perfect life and challenge anybody to top it.  Knowing that one's life and fortunes can turn on a dime, I'm not afraid to love my life, relish it, enjoy it, brag about it and be proud of it.  Picture this.  I just finished smoking a lovely Don Tomas maduro corona style cigar with a Kalik in my hand and Ritmo Latino playing on my computer, sitting on the balcony looking down on a perfect beach and a never ending ocean.  Down below in the pool I can see my gorgeous wife ( a "10" by anybody's reckoning) and her lovely parents enjoying the sunshine.  Inside sleeping are my precious children who are both beautiful and perfect and the loves of my life and who will grow up to be smart and wise and outstanding.  We live in a great country and town and enjoy life every day with many more "ups" than "downs".  Ana and I both work for excellent companies but at the same time are together building an excellent company of our own.  We are healthy, happy, hopeful and have traveled more extensively than almost anybody we know.  We count our blessing and feel fortunate and lucky each and every single day.  I have two brothers and a brother-in-law who are my best friends, parents and "extended" parents I love and learn from and grandparents who have lived wonderful lives and are around to share their memories and experience with us and our children.  I have more than thirty first cousins, each of which who are zany, goofy, successful and exceptionally fun to be around.  We have friends that live all over the world who we love and  see as often as possible.  If anybody out there can beat this, please get in touch with me and we absolutely must meet up for a beer.