Saturday, September 30, 2006

War of 1812 All Over Again

Several items in the news caught my attention this week. This morning CBC radio (french language version which I have adopted in my non-tv phase at the cottage) reports that the longest undefended border in the world, Canada with the USA, now is armed on one side for the first time since the War of 1812. Apparently the USA has established free fire zones in several sectors of the Great Lakes and has armed its Coast Guard vessels. In theory innocent boaters setting off from Canadian ports (remember I now have responsibility to speak to issues regarding Georgian Bay Islands National Park, with Lake Huron on the albeit distant horizon) may stray into the line of fire. Ouch! Reports also suggest, on a different front this time, that Canada's position of preeminence in terms of trade relations in the world (Canada USA trade being the largest between any two countries) has now taken a back seat to the China USA relationship which last month jumped into top spot. Nothing is sacrasanct it would seem. Also this week, our Minister of the Environment Rona Ambrose, Ron as her name was misspelled on several management memos this week, has announced a government crack down on air emissions from the oil and gas industry. Hope all the toxic clouds over the Great Lakes respect borders or they may get fired upon, no matter which country they are headed for! China this month is apparently exhibiting Chinese built cars at western auto shows. Are we on the cusp of the modern day version of the Japanese invasion? Great Wall, Geely and Chery may be replacing Honda and Toyota before you know it.

Saturday, September 23, 2006


Whoever thinks I am off to the backwoods somewhere, despite the history of Gravenhurst as a sawmill town (just like Ottawa), chomp on this for a while. In the next couple of weeks these are some of the options. Maude Barlow lecture in Bracebridge, Bruce Cockburn concert in Orillia, Sloan concert in Bala (they open for the Rolling Stones in Halifax sometime soon), Don Harron show at Gravenhurst Opera House (remember the Jogfree of Canada by Charlie Farquharson?), Three Cities play on Life of Bethune again in Gravenhurst, George Fox concert, local hockey at junior level by unsanctioned upstart league, YukYuks comedy at Bala Bay Inn, hey I know I am overlooking a few. Then there is Barrie, then Toronto within an hour and a half. Finally it is hardly lonely at work. We expect 3,000 visitors over Thanksgiving. I will be giving thanks after the week-end, not during methinks. Oh yes, Blue Rodeo soon too.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Bethune Blast

This week has been a blast. First Day, Sunday, 10th September was Myron's 75th birthday at the National Press Club with assorted guests numbering near 70 and a fine lunch. Myron's patronage has helped to keep the club afloat since it is tottering on the brink. Not enough budding journalists I guess. Monday was well, 9/11, say no more other than that it also marked my departure from Ottawa to greener pastures so to speak. I flitted from one cottage to another, 420 km apart. Tuesday was my first day as Communications Officer at Bethune House National Historic Site. Staff are going to be fun. Already I have received a gift from Chinese visitors for holding doors, coats, smiling in perfunctory photos or just being an amiable appendage at the site of their pilgrimage. I am learning Norman's life with the eye to having interpretation (guiding) as one of my roles. My office meantime is in the 1880 home, hope it is not haunted. I have not yet set the alarm off unwittingly but that day must surely come. Wednesday, a year to the day since I returned to North America from the Middle Kingdom. My furniture is delivered on a rainy day. Driver is late since they slept in after driving until 2 am. They did a good job so tipped them, who said I was Scottish? Three weeks after I walked through Alexis Nihon Mall, adjoining Dawson College, Montreal, wouldn't you know a shooting rampage breaks out. Two dead (shooter included), eight critical amongst 19 injured. Thursday, ho hum only three of us on staff to-day since others off with a heavy week-end in prospect. After work I took an evening jaunt to check out possible residence for winter. Bala, 20 km up the road, has lakeside charm. Listened intently to owl hooting in woods by cottage. Friday, jeepers I'm the only one running the place to-day. Long lunch allows me to answer ad and line up a winter residence on the lake. Wait till I post the million dollar view!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Watching Paint Dry

This post is coming to you from White Rock Public Library on the Pacific Coast just south of Vancouver. Internet access is free for scroungers like myself. It has been a momentous week for me, summer even. I have sold my house which I co-owned in Ottawa. Closing day was Tuesday and of course it was a scramble to get the place ship shape for the new owners. We installed new windows, the tenants moved out, I was packed and then moved and finally the clean up. Painting doors and windows, varnishing scratches and oh yes the thresholds too if only to create a good first impression. The neighbours jokingly said why bother, you did sell the place didn't you? At one point as the tail end of hurricane Ernesto settled over our region and the rains came I finally got around to painting outdoor steps knowing full well they might not dry before closing and the handing over of keys. So late on the eve of the big day I was reduced to watching over the freshly painted steps for a couple of hours, paranoid that neighborhood cats step on them and trail wet paint everywhere. I went to bed tempted to leave the doors open in case the still wet paint on the thresholds stuck to closed doors. I was awake at 3am and even went down to move the doors to prevent them sticking. Next morning sure enough in the yard there were paw prints in paint leading to the next yard. Whether it was the cats or racoons only they know. Watching paint dry is a demanding proposition.