“Just when I thought I was out . . . they pull me back in” - Al Pacino, The Godfather: Part III.

After she’d finished eating her mid-morning snack yesterday, I took Daughter Number Two to the grocery store.  Between coughs, she laughed and giggled in her car seat, and all was well.

I pulled her out of the seat, plunked her in the yellow shopping cart, and we made our way up and down the aisles.

I’d just about finished, our cart was full of another week’s worth of survival supplies, and Daughter Number Two started hacking rather violently.

She leaned over the protective bar on the front of the cart and promptly threw up on the floor in the middle of the frozen food section.

Standing there – freezer door open, box of burgers in hand, half-twisting to check on her just in time to see her heave – I considered myself lucky she hadn’t turned the other way.  That would’ve been an expensive, disgusting development.

It could have been worse.

But it wasn’t very good.

I tore open the box of facial tissues I was about to buy, stuffed the UPC coded lid in my pocket, and wiped her off as well as I could.  Fellow parents offered support and encouragement:

I remember those days.

Oh, poor little thing.

I’ll go get someone to clean that up.

Teenage shoppers from the university just down the road – busily stockpiling on-sale frozen pizzas – watched in horror and immediately evacuated.  I imagine they were in a hurry to get to the family planning section to also stockpile expensive name brand birth control products.

I stood in line to pay – surprisingly nobody lined up behind us – then packed everything into the trunk, and tucked her back into her car seat with a canvas grocery bag blanket wrapped around her.  Somehow I convinced myself this would form a protective barrier should she decide to hold a repeat performance on the way home.

Luckily, she didn’t.

I got her in the house, fastened her in the high chair, and assembled a rather carefully considered lunch for her.  She ate it all.  Everything stayed in, and I made her drink a lot of water.  She went down for her nap with no fuss, and slept quietly for its duration.

I put the groceries away and considered the morning’s events over and done with.  She coughed, she’s little, she couldn’t take it.  Isolated incident.  End of story.

As the afternoon went on, she seemed okay, but when evening came, she got worse quickly.  Dinner didn’t stay down.  Grandma was immediately called in for backup.  She arrived quickly, as usual.


There was more unpleasantness just before bedtime, and several coughing episodes throughout the night.  My wife and I took turns trying to lull her to sleep with little to no effect.

Staring at the ceiling, merely a few days after my last nearly sleep-free night, the famous scene from the Godfather popped into my head.

Last Sunday, I was in the precisely the same position.  And I arrived at work this morning with as much energy and feigned enthusiasm as I had last Monday.

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The Scots voted no.  They will remain a part of the United Kingdom.  Nae voters drowned their sorrows with cheap Scotch.  Aye voters celebrated with good single malt.  Either way, sporrans were emptied and pub owners raked in piles of cash.

Hangovers were plentifully reported.

- – -

Teachers in British Columbia voted yes to a new contract.  They will go back to work on Monday.  Students will return to classes.  Teachers will continue to do an important job.  Many Canadians will continue to believe teachers are overpaid and lucky to have the summers off.  “Glorified daycare,” is what teachers provide, as one eloquent online commenter put it.  This is the same type of person who will proudly proclaim that Charter rights are inconvenient/unimportant and that worker legislation is only there to protect the lazy.

And that’s why education’s important.

- – -

Daughter Number Two slept through the night.  Yes, this was well received by the household.  She did, however, wake up at 5:25.  We were already awake, but it made the morning routine a bit more hectic.  No, this was not well received.  I thought I could persuade her to return to dreamland, but my meager efforts failed.  She slobbered all over me, smeared snot on my shirt, and treated my nether-regions to a series of well-placed kicks.  They were surprisingly swift.  Good morning indeed.

She’s still getting even with me.

- – -

It’s finally Friday.  Yes, I’m happy about that.  It’s been a long week.  My fridge is currently housing three Ontario microbrews I’m really looking forward to drinking.  First up, the Harvest Ale from Muskoka Brewery.  It comes in a cool bottle, and this one was outstanding last year.  Secondly, the fine folks at Beau’s All Natural Brewing Company have kindly released their Night Märzen Octoberfest Lager just a few weeks early.  Beau’s is easily one of my favourite breweries, and they put a lot of thought and effort into everything they do.  Finally, there’s a Pumpkin Ale from Great Lakes Brewery.  It’s almost fall, it’ll be cool tonight, and well, it’s local and it’s beer.  Done deal.  All of these are available at your friendly neighbourhood LCBO store.

No reason to wait.

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Last Night.

Daughter Number Two’s ears must have been burning the second I hit the little blue “Publish” button and sent yesterday’s blog entry hurtling into the Outer Hebrides of Cyberworld.

She must have somehow felt marginalized by my relegating something as important as her personal wellness and good luck to merely one sentence in my rambling discourse on all things stomach.

She must have wanted me to learn a few life lessons.  Cherish what you have.  Focus on the good.  Don’t complain about the bad.  Or something similarly Zen-like, I suppose.

She must have wanted to get even.

I say this because she had quite a night last night.

Don’t be alarmed.  She didn’t experience any of the netherworld rumblings the rest of us had to endure over the last few days – or not that I could tell anyway – but she was certainly upset about something.

Oh yes she was.

She woke up at 11:00, 12:15, 1:30, 2:45, 3:30, and somewhere around 5:00, but I must admit that I can’t be too specific about the last two.

Somewhere after 1:30, I’d accepted my fate as a nocturnal animal, and I’d already taken to scavenging neighbourhood trashcans desperately searching for carelessly discarded still-good vials of Advil Pediatric Drops.

Give me the good stuff!

We’d run out of it, you see, and I noticed Daughter Number Two was holding her mouth and chewing her fingers while she was screaming and screeching at the top of her lungs.

Clever fellow that I am, I generally deduced that her teeth were bothering her.

He pats himself on the back here.  Good boy, he says.

Yes, a different part of the GI tract, but an equally problematic one.

Given the horrific events of the last few days, teething pains were a much easier problem to solve – or so I arrogantly thought at the time – and I headed out in the car to journey through streetlight lit suburbia in search of pediatric pain relief.

Three gas stations had everything but.

Advil for arthritis, Advil for headaches, Advil for Scottish Nationalists – but absolutely nothing for children under two.

I drove to the 24 hour grocery store.  The Metro.  The sign in the window proudly declared they were OPEN 24 HOURS A DAY, 7 DAYS A WEEK, but this was a cruel lie.  The store’s cash registers were being revamped – on this night of all nights – and the store was closed.


On to Sobey’s.

Which was also closed.

Permanently, it turns out.  The signs were gone, the shelves were gone.  It was a ghost of its former Scotian self.

I contemplated that for a moment, hyena-laughed at my own zombiehood so perfectly mirroring the situation at hand, ungraciously admitted defeat, and drove back home.

In the meantime, my wife had administered Pediatric Tylenol – we had some of that stuff kicking around – but it is a poor substitute, and it was utterly ineffective.

New parents take note.  It is a poor substitute.


The night did not improve much, and things continued pretty much as they had before.

Morning came.

Coffee was made.

Work beckoned.

I semi-consciously went out at lunch today – arms horizontally outstretched before me, legs moving in tiny steps, mouth wide open and drooling – and finally secured two precious boxes of Pediatric Advil.

If tonight’s anything like last night, at least I’ll be prepared.

There’s also a high probability that I’ll soothe myself with as many mugs of Scotch as it takes to fall asleep and dream of one day living in an economically bereft country of ma (my) very (very) oon (own).

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Make Way.

When I came back from my daytrip up North, I was relaxed and refreshed.  I was looking forward to enjoying the rest of the weekend with my family and friends, and I felt like I’d been on vacation for a week.

I suppose we all need days like that now and then, and I’m glad I got mine.

I had no idea my newfound feelings were about to make way for something entirely different.

We spent most of the rest of the weekend bunkered down in the house.  Daughter Number One was violently ill on Saturday night.  She threw up in bed – twice.  I changed and washed the sheets and comforters – twice.

A delightful scene to be sure.

Unfortunately, my wife fared no better in the gastrointestinal sweepstakes, and she stoically struggled through her weekend as well, and finally returned to work today, albeit unhappily, and, truth be told, still a bit unhealthily.

After Daughter Number One went through her second set of sheets, I decided to camp out on the couch with her.  I pukeproofed it through a crude layering of towels and blankets, and I plunked a large stainless steel pukebowl in front of her.  We called in our old friend Curious George.

We watched him for two hours.

The bowl caught a little action, but there was significant improvement on this front.  I must confess that I thought she’d be knocked out much sooner than she was, but she somehow held on for the long haul.

Eventually we both fell asleep, just around midnight I think.

I woke up sometime after 2:00, declared her past-puking, and tucked her into her sleeping bag on the floor – again, surrounded by various absorbers and with the trusty pukebowl closeby.

Miraculously, she was mostly fine by morning – which came much sooner than I was hoping for.

Daughter Number Two – knocking on wood as he types – emerged mostly unscathed from this scary stomach illness.

I thought I’d also managed to escape the clutches of the dastardly disease villain, but Monday morning I woke up feeling . . . let’s say unpleasantly . . . and continued to feel that way right until, well, just a few hours ago.

Luckily, my metabolism and/or my immune system managed to fight off the villain long enough to get through the weekend – otherwise we’d have had a grave scene on our hands.

One parent has to be of sound mind and body in the house at all times.

Otherwise, the household falls to ruin and the villain wins.

My disease mainly manifested itself with one specific symptom – I’ll spare you the details – but I’ve been confined to a steady diet of Imodium, Pepto-Bismol, bread, and water for the last few days.

A real treat, let me assure you.

I’ve been forced to spend my hours close to the facilities, and this has made each day a truly surprising adventure, to say the least.

When will the dastardly disease villain strike next?

Well, whenever he wants.

And there’s little time to spare.

Make way.

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Just before we left the golf course, I took one more picture.  This tree – I have no idea what kind it is – was leaning in the fairway, and it caught my attention.  It looks like it’s blowing in the wind, but it isn’t.  It just grew that way.


Our next stop in Owen Sound was the Tom Thomson Art Gallery, and this particular painting stuck out.

Maybe you can already see why.


Now I know they’re not exactly the same – one’s a tree going up into the sky, and the other’s a branch come down from it – but the water in the background, the percentage of sky and hills, and the green image in the foreground seemed a crazy compositional coincidence.

At least to me, anyway.

I love visiting the Tom Thomson Gallery.


It’s not as big as the AGO, and its collection isn’t as extensive as the McMichael’s, but there’s always something new to see, and they feature a lot of his board work, which I’ve always preferred.

The Group of Seven painters painted on pieces of wood or on wooden panels when they were out in the bush.  They then took these panels back to the studio and translated their rough sketches into the huge canvas masterpieces we’re all familiar with.

But I like the immediacy of the panels.



To know that Tom had that very thing out there in the woods with him, sitting on his stool, brushing bugs away with one hand and painting with the other.

I’m almost more impressed by those little boards than by the paintings they turned into.

And that says a lot.

I love those paintings and everything they say.

After we’d done our rounds at the gallery, we drove a half hour down the road to Flesherton.  I was looking forward to another meal at my favourite restaurant, and it didn’t disappoint.

What a great place.

If you’re ever out that way, you must stop in.




And, right beside it is another art gallery.  It’s a small one too, but it features a lot of cool stuff from incredibly talented local artists.

It’s called Arts on Tenfittingly for an art gallery on Highway Ten – and it offers paintings, drawings, sculpture – you name it.




Even a gigantic oversized xylophone for kids to play (or me).


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Back to the Beach.

I played one round of golf this year – on Father’s Day - and I hit the ball around a little bit at the small nine-hole course my friend’s father built at the farmhouse we stayed at this summer – but I usually feel like getting a final round in when the weather turns autumnal and it’s not so hot out.

I managed to do that this weekend.

I know I won’t ever play as much golf as I used to, and that’s fine.  I don’t enjoy the sport like I did, and it’s just getting to be far too expensive.

I spent a day up in Owen Sound – which I’ve written about on here many times before – and I had a fantastic time.  It was nice to be out of the GTA, even if it was just for a day.

We played Cobble Beach – my favourite course – and we played fairly decently.

The course is carved out of a big chunk of the Georgian Bay shoreline.

I’d been to the driving range earlier in the week to prepare myself, but I didn’t expect that I’d play nearly as well as I did.  I don’t think my friend did either.  We shot 91 and 92 respectively, but considering it was my second (his first) round of the year, we couldn’t have expected anything better than that.

Most importantly, we had a great time.

Take a look at the pictures, and you’ll see why.

What a beautiful place.



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I read a blog post earlier this week that had me thinking about all sorts of things.

I was going to write a reply.

I actually started to.

But then it got longer and longer, and I kept thinking about it, and it made me more and more angry, so I decided to post it here instead.

Click this link to see what got me started.

Read the blog, click on the link in the middle of it, and watch the video at the end.

I’m sick of reading about things like this.

And I know, I know.

The National Football League does plenty of good too.  It’s involved in countless charitable events, and so on and so forth.  Blah blah blah.

So it should be.

The league brings in 9 billion dollars every year.

9 billion dollars.

They don’t get any of it from me.

I stopped watching years ago.

When I saw Oliver Stone’s movie, Any Given Sunday, I wondered how often NFL doctors actually lied to players about their health and kept them on the field anyway – pumping them full of who knows what to win the game – even though it was clear that continuing to allow them to play football could and would probably kill them.

Was Stone bending the truth to make his film?

Did that really happen?

I did some research.

I read about it.

And there’s no lack of evidence confirming it.

Yes, team doctors lied.

Players died.

Pretty awful stuff.

The average life expectancy of an NFL player is 55.


When I heard about Junior Seau, I was incredibly bothered by what he’d done – by what he felt he had to do, I guess.

And although the NFL has never officially admitted guilt in cases like Seau’s, they DID agree to pay out 765 million dollarsthree quarters of a billion dollarsto settle a lawsuit filed by 4,500 players.

Would you pay that much money if you knew you hadn’t done anything wrong?


I’m sure we all agree that Ray Rice is human garbage.

Michael Vick is too.

The folks who run the NFL, and the people overseeing most of its teams, don’t seem to be any better.

Can we really be surprised anymore?

There’s no moral compass there.


If there were, we wouldn’t be reading about this stuff.

And we certainly wouldn’t have been subjected to this monstrosity.

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