(Short) Blog for a Wintery Night.

It’s not officially winter for almost another month, but you’d never know it.

It’s snowing outside, the neighbourhood’s lit up with Christmas Lights, and the smell of fireplaces and woodstoves is in the air.

I had to wear gloves and a toque on my walk today, so while it isn’t winter yet, it’s definitely wintery.

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The flurries came and went for most of the day.  Snow gathered here and there, but it wasn’t until later in the day that it really started to come down.

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I’d love to learn to capture snowfall in a photograph.

It never seems to work.

I assume it has something to do with shutter speed and lighting – all of the things you probably can’t do with a phone camera – but you can get the general idea, anyway.

As I was picking the kids up from school today, I made a pit stop and picked up one of my favourite wintery drinks.  The near-black Coffee Porter from the folks at Mill Street Brewery.

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It’s a collaborative effort.  They brew the dark, rich beer, and then use coffee from their neighbours in the Distillery District, Balzac’s Coffee Roasters.

It’s local and delicious – especially around this time of year.

I had to call around a little bit to find some, but it’s worth it.

I drove home through Streetsville in the semi-dark of a late autumn afternoon – some of the lights were on, the stores were decorated, people were shopping – and I felt lucky to be enjoying the festive scene.

After I got the girls settled, I hung the Christmas lights and garland around the front door.

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I just felt like doing it.

Since I did most of the work last year, it was relatively quick and painless this time around, and then I settled into the couch with Daughters One and Two, and one of those dark brown bottles.

It tasted even better knowing that I’d earned it.

I flipped on my iPod and searched around until I found Blue Rodeo’s cover of the Gordon Lightfoot classic “Song for a Winter’s Night.”

You can check it out here.

I’m generally not a fan of Christmas Albums, and I think it’s kinda wonky that they released one, but their version of the song is excellent.  I love the way Greg Keelor sings it.  It’s raw and wonderful.

The album cover’s pretty sweet too, and it comes with an interesting story: “The cover art is an illustration drawn by Greg Keelor’s great-uncle Arthur Keelor who once worked designing greeting cards at Raus & Mann in the 1920’s alongside members of the fabled Group of Seven.”

Talk about Canadiana.

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And that’s my short blog for a wintery night.

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Leftovers, Volume 1.

Today, I proudly offer all of you the first installment of Leftovers: things I wanted to say, photographs I took but never posted – you get the idea.

Over two years of WordPressing and still coming up with new ideas.

Pats self on back.

On with the show!

- – -

A few weeks back, I worried that the charges against Jian Ghomeshi were perhaps fabricated.  That’s probably an embarrassing thing to have gone on the record about in retrospect, but I work in the sort of job were fabricated allegations are often made against men – they don’t always end well – and so I hope you’ll all forgive me.

He’s been charged today with a whole whack of things, and I don’t think this is going to end very well for him.  He’s not been found guilty in a court of law, so it’s too early to draw any conclusions.  But . . .

Perhaps the only good thing to come out of this case is that it’s caused people to re-examine the way women are treated, and that’s a good thing.  Especially around this time of year.

This cartoon appeared in the Globe and Mail a few weeks ago – around the time the Ghomeshi incidents were popping up, and after the scandal with the MPs, and a whole bunch of other nasty stories – and I really liked it.

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Damn straight.

- – -

My little girls wore cool costumes for Halloween.  Daughter Number One was a funky/scary witch, and Daughter Number Two was her little black cat.

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They raked in the goodies.

I made them a special Halloween-themed dinner.  Embracing my mother’s Italian heritage, I created perhaps the very first Giacomo-Lantern.

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They didn’t like it as much as I thought they would.

But I did.

- – -

Remembrance Day is sandwiched between Halloween and Christmas.

I’ve written about this before.

In any normal year – unlike this one – it doesn’t get enough attention.

It’s always bothered me.

And this year, between Halloween and Christmas decorations, my wife made this.

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Lest we forget.

- – -

Since the leaves are almost all off the trees, and are soon to be covered in snow – again – I thought it was a good time to post this photograph – also from November.

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It’s one of my favourites.  It just worked out.

- – -

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No words necessary.

I didn’t try them.

I’m a vegetarian, but even if I wasn’t . . .

- – -

How do you do this?

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How?

Count the ways this is wrong.

Criminally parked.

Snow not cleared off the top, nor completely off the rear window.

Dealer plate.

I move for sweeping police powers in this regard.

Take the license away.  Cut it up.  Done.

No tickets, no expensive trial, no windy explanation.

The evidence is all there.

Three strikes.  You’re out.

- – -

It’s been colder than normal in November so far.

How cold?

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I’m not convinced that spreading blue ice on my windshield is going to help clean it, but I bet the person who parked that van probably gave it a shot . . .

- – -

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Look pal, anybody can putt for eagles.

When I still played golf regularly, I putted for plenty.

The real question is: are you an EGL MAKR?

If you’re not, you’re probably a BOGY MAKR.

And if you are,  do you really want to be bragging about that?

And I’m just saying . . . if you made enough EGLs to warrant that plate, you’d probably be able to afford stainless steel screws.

- – -

And that, my friends, concludes the first installment of Leftovers.

Thanks for reading.

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West Wind.

On the way home from work last night, I pulled into the park and snapped this photo.

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On the right side of the picture, there’s a crossing guard leprechaun at the end of the rainbow in the middle of a hellishly dark sky.  On the other side, the rainbow vanishes into the sunshine fighting to creep through the white clouds.

If you look really closely, you can see the outline of a second rainbow just above the prominent one.

There were two of them yesterday.

At the same time.

Anyway . . . it had rained all morning, and I expected it would continue into the evening – particularly when I saw the dark, foreboding sky – but it didn’t.

Instead, the wind pounded the west side of our house all night long.

It whistled and whirled and shouted at us.  The windows rattled and the trees shook.  Our friends’ fence blew over, and I was worried we’d lose one of the big green cedars in the backyard.  They held on, however, and in the morning everything was the way it was when we went to bed.

Even our fences.

Luckily.

I was thankful I made time on the weekend to pack up all the patio furniture.  Who knows where that stuff would have ended up?

I kept thinking of the first stanza of Shelley’s “Ode to the West Wind”:

O wild West Wind, thou breath of Autumn’s being,
Thou, from whose unseen presence the leaves dead
Are driven, like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing,

Yellow, and black, and pale, and hectic red,
Pestilence-stricken multitudes: O thou,
Who chariotest to their dark wintry bed

The wingèd seeds, where they lie cold and low,
Each like a corpse within its grave, until
Thine azure sister of the Spring shall blow

Her clarion o’er the dreaming earth, and fill
(Driving sweet buds like flocks to feed in air)
With living hues and odours plain and hill:

Wild Spirit, which art moving everywhere;
Destroyer and Preserver; hear, O hear!

Although he left it out of his poem for some reason, the Wild Spirit of Shelley’s West Wind also loves carelessly packed garbage/recycling bins.

The scene on the streets on the way to work this morning was a dismal one to start the day with.

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Plastic bags, newspapers, and disposable beverage containers as far as the eye can see.

All because people can’t be bothered to bag things up on a windy day.  They don’t want to use another plastic bag and spoil the environment, you see.

So they’ll just let the wind take their refuse wherever it pleases.

Great.

This school of thought – we’ll call it carelessness for short – is disgusting and disturbing.

If everything’s going to be recycled anyway, then one more bag won’t matter too much will it?

Since the fields, streams, rivers, and lakes – the ultimate, unfortunate destinations of these windswept recyclables – won’t recycle anything – what makes more sense?

I know I’ve ranted about neighbourhood garbage before, but it’s getting ridiculous.

I can hear the living room conversations now:

Oh wow!  The news says we’re going to have 100km wind gusts tonight!

Do we have candles?

Yes.

Matches?

Yes.

Did you remember to put out the carelessly packed recycling bins and the not-weighted-down garbage cans?

No, but I’ll get right on it!

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According to Plan.

Yesterday went according to plan – or at least most of it did, anyway.

I got the patio furniture safely stowed away in the pool shed or under the massive canvas cover our backyard set came with for precisely this purpose.

It’s big enough that I can actually get a few more things under there too, which is good, but it also makes for a large, sad, ugly testament to the season’s passing.

The big blue pool safety cover in the background is another one of those things.

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Every time I look outside and see them, I cringe at the many months of indoor confinement that lie ahead of us.

Especially on a bleak, grey, rainy day like yesterday.

But, when everything’s buried in fluffy white snow it doesn’t bother me as much.

Be careful what you wish for I guess.

In wishing for warmer weather, so I could also get the garage cleaned up and ready for winter use – store the kids’ toys, take up the fatigue mats, get everything up on shelves in boxes, move things around, generally organize, close down the man cabin . . .

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. . . I also inadvertently caused Frosty’s premature death.

This was all that was left of the poor fellow this morning.

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Sigh.

But I’m sure we’ll build another snowperson soon enough.

Daughter Number One and I got the last leaf raking of the year in, and we did as thorough a job as we could.

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While I was outside working in the garage, I managed to catch most of the Ti-Cats game with a friend of mine who popped over for a beer (and moral support).

And that part of yesterday went perfectly according to plan as well.

The Cats won the Eastern Conference final in a pretty entertaining game, and I was happy for the hometown.  My brother and a friend of mine were at the field, and they send me some interesting text messages, and even a few pictures.

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Everyone was pleased with the result, and I’m sure the bars and pubs surrounding Tim Hortons Field were absolutely delighted as well.

The Tabbies will line up against Calgary in the Grey Cup this Sunday.

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Just before the game started, Daughter Number One and I managed to get out and do some quick grocery shopping, and we ran into a sports celebrity of our own.

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We encountered him in the same place last year too.

The Great One with a glass of his good wine.

He looks the same – for some reason – but Daughter Number One’s changed a lot.

- – -

Daughter Number Two’s recovery is a little behind schedule – Grandma came to the rescue again to bail us out – but we’re hoping everything is going according to plan with this as well.

Early text message updates from the home front suggest that she’s on the mend and doing well.

Poor little thing.

Pink eye and an ear infection and everything else that goes along with those.

Needless to say, it was another very tired Monday morning at our place.

We need to stop having those.

Really, we do.

In the meantime . . .

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The Season for Everything.

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We’re lucky to have a walk-in clinic in our neighbourhood.  We’ve used it quite a bit over the years – and we’ve used it even more since September, when the girls went back to school and when Daughter Number Two seems to have been exposed to every single possible bug known to toddlerkind.

She woke up from her afternoon nap yesterday with that dreaded yellow sludge coming out both eyes – a sure sign of conjunctivitis, or “pink eye”.  Daughter Number One had her own struggles with this annoying inflammatory infection, so we knew what it was as soon as we saw it.

We put in a call to our family doctor, and we knew we were on the clock.  If Daughter Number Two was going to make it into school on Monday, she had to get antibiotic eye drops stat.

So we hurried over to the walk-in clinic.  There was only one group ahead of us when we got there – and good thing too, as we arrived half an hour from closing – so we only waited a few minutes.

The doctor examined her, confirmed pink eye, gave us a prescription and sent us on our merry way – but not before discovering that Daughter Number Two also had an ear infection in her right ear.

Another prescription.

Antibiotics for that too.

The neighbourhood pharmacy is conveniently beside the walk-in clinic, and they know us well.  Our pharmacist said he’d only be a few minutes getting everything ready and he knew we were coming.  I’d called him earlier about the over-the-counter eye drops you can buy to “treat” pink eye, but he warned us that they rarely work, and that we’d better off with the prescription ones.

In his words: “There’s just no point in spending the money.  They might work, but they probably won’t.  It’s about one in ten.  Get a prescription for the good ones if you can.”

Knowing that Monday was quickly approaching, I wasn’t going to argue with him.

When we got there, he greeted us, and told us that there’d been a three-hour wait at the clinic for most of the day, and that his small store had been absolutely packed.

“It’s the season for everything,” he said.

And so it is.

Especially for us, it seems.

“You’re lucky you came when you did, they’ve just started to slow down now.”

Instead of waiting for everything, we went to the grocery store – also conveniently in the same area – grabbed a few things, including ice cream to cheer up the kids, and when we returned a few minutes later, everything was ready.

We came home, administered the medications, and hoped for a quiet night.

We didn’t get one.

We’re getting used to that.

At least the Leafs won.

- – -

I’m hoping to find the enthusiasm to pack up the patio furniture today.  That season’s definitely over.  Last night’s rain seems to have melted most of the snow, and I’d like to get the garage organized enough so we can start parking the car in there again.

I’m sad that garage season is also over for another year, but that’s the way it goes.

Did I mention there’s a fireplace out there now?

You can only use it in the autumn and winter.

And only if a game isn’t on.

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And that means I won’t be able to use it today.

The folks at the CFL have managed to arrange it so I can watch my hometown team host the Eastern Final.

Somehow, it’s scheduled right during naptime.

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Not bad.

I hope Ti-Cats season ends with them hoisting the Grey Cup next week.

 – – -

And since it’s the season for everything, I’ll treat myself to some of this stuff later.

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It might be their best one yet.  Six tasty seasonal treats.  Get ‘em while you can.

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Trades.

Yes, a rare weekend post.

I wanted to get some of this out yesterday, but the day didn’t quite unfold as I was hoping it would, and you got the tale of Shityphus instead.

Worthwhile reading, I know.

Anyway, if I’d had time, I would have posted this instead.

- – -

It’s hard to take pen – or keyboard – in hand in defence of any sort of celebrity nowadays.  There’s the disgusting mess with Jian Ghomeshi, the dishnourable Lance Armstrong debacle, the emerging, ongoing Bill Cosby scandals – it’s just one disgraceful incident after another.

But when I heard about Linden MacIntyre and the CBC this week, I have to admit I felt sorry for him.

He plied his trade on The Fifth Estate for 24 years.  He’s been a public broadcaster for 38 years.  He’s published three solid novels, and he’s just released a new one I haven’t read yet.

But he gives one interview to the folks at the Globe and Mail – in which he warns against celebrity worship of any kind – and he’s barred from the CBC building by some members of Peter Mansbridge’s entourage.

Evidence in itself that celebrity can cause people to be bullied.

Okay, maybe he didn’t phrase his sentences in the interview as carefully as he could have, but you’d think that after all the years he’s worked there that somebody would be willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.

Guess not.

And who knows?  One day we could find out that MacIntyre’s a creep too.

Anything can happen these days.

If you care, you can listen to his side of the story here.

But there’s some powerful irony in all of this, isn’t there?  He was employed by the CBC as an investigative reporter for so long – paid to expose the truth as he found it – and then he’s banned from the place for doing exactly that.

Wonderful.

I saw this poster in a few places on Twitter, and I’d like to believe it’s a tongue-in-cheek joke, but maybe it isn’t.  I have no idea.

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- – -

 You may remember last winter’s stories about the young man from Oakville.

There’s a new chapter in it now.

He’s been traded from the Vancouver Canucks to the Edmonton Oilers.

I hope this means he’ll get some more NHL ice time.

Every Canadian has a soft spot for the Edmonton Oilers.  All those Stanley Cups in the Gretzky era, and even one after it.  Those were great days for Canadian hockey.

But the way the Oilers have been playing recently, it seems they can probably do with a few changes.

I’ll have my fingers crossed that calling him up is one of them.

He’s been playing for the Utica Comets in the AHL, and he’ll continue to patiently ply his trade for the Oklahoma City Barons.

- – -

In a strange coincidence, my wife has also been hired to ply her trade for the Edmonton Oilers.  She’s part of the team that’s been hired to build the new office for the Oilers Entertainment Group.  It’ll be in a new building attached to the new arena.

I’m hoping that somehow translates into Leafs/Oilers tickets at the Air Canada Centre.

Fingers crossed for that too.

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Shityphus.

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Those of you who have only a cursory knowledge of Greek mythology will have missed the legendary tale of Shityphus.

It’s a relatively minor one not included in most textbooks.

But many of you will have heard about his brother, Sisyphus.

Sisyphus was eternally condemned – for a number of reasons I won’t elaborate on here, but that you can read about by clicking this link if you’re interested – to push a gigantic boulder up and down a mountain, only to helplessly watch it roll it back down again.

This was his continual personal hell.

Zeus was a vengeful bastard, and he forced this infernal punishment upon poor Sisyphus.

And there was nothing Sisyphus could do about it.

Shityphus . . . well . . . Shityphus . . . his fate was pretty similar, actually.

The powers that be forced him to push a gigantic ball of shit – herein referred to as a shitball – up and down a gigantic hill – herein referred to as a shithill – and, over the years, Shityphus wore a gigantic shitpath into said shithill.

Once it started, the shiterosion just couldn’t be stopped, and the shitball was surprisingly heavy.

The shithill couldn’t take the shitpressure, and the shitball – well, it just kept getting bigger and bigger and bigger and bigger.

It became harder and harder to push.

But Shityphus just kept pushing the shitball up the shithill.

He didn’t really have a choice.

And boy did it ever stink.

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