Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Another year is almost wrapped up

A couple of things I'd like to zip on here while I have a few minutes to spare.

First, I hope that everyone has had a great holiday season so far and played safely.
I'm looking forward to seeing all of my present friends and making some new ones in 2012. So don't go and do anything goofy to ruin that. Okay?

Secondly, a quick heads up that both of my lads presently have very nice and polite girlfriends that Cheryl and I like very much. Thumbs up to T and B. Well done.
I'm betting that I will be mentioning this again at some point in the future.

On December 10 my grandmother (who we have always known as Granny) turned 100 years old!!
Do you believe that? She is the oldest person I have ever known.
Co-incidentally, she also happens to be one of the people that I have known the longest. :)
She's in great shape too.
We had a nice family gathering at a small restaurant in the Village of Gagetown.
Family came in from the U.S. and Ontario for the lunch.
The local MLA presented Granny with a letter from himself as well as the premier of New Brunswick and other members of government.
It was really very nice. We all had a nice time and Granny was delighted to have us all together.

Finally, a couple of posts ago I talked about B's paper route and that we were required to insert the mounds of flyers into the papers from now on.
I made a mistake. Oops.
Last week the papers rolled in on Thursday and I was surprised to see that the flyers were already in place.
I mentioned it to Cheryl and she told me that we only had to insert them for a couple of weeks before Christmas. It's back to normal now.
Darn, we were starting to make plans on what to spend that extra dollar a week on.

I stand corrected.

Stay well, play safely, and Happy New Year (in case I don't talk to you before then).


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

I wish that I could be stronger...

This isn't a happy one. If you proceed to read it I apologize now.
If you don't read it that's okay. I understand.

One of the many difficult tasks of dealing with my mother and sister's passing three years ago has been going through so many of mom's things.

The "things" haven't been too bad I guess. They're pretty simple. Either it's something that we can use, I can give to someone else to use, or throw away.

The real crusher has been going through the multitude of photo albums that mom had.

It's almost like mom had an obsession with photos. Every time she went on a trip she returned with rolls and rolls of film to be processed. She had them all developed and then put every picture in photo albums.

When she was done showing friends and family the photos she would put the album(s) in their storage spot with the multitude of other albums. I'm quite positive that they were never looked at again until I inherited them.

I should mention that they are certainly not all holiday snaps. I've been surprised to find plenty of family pictures that I had either never seen or had just forgotten about.

Most of these photo albums were put in a huge Rubbermaid storage container but there were others in boxes as well.
I brought them back to New Brunswick a few years ago in a rented trailer along with lots of other things.

When I began going through these things I accepted the reality that I would have to be ruthless.
Unfortunately my nature is to hoard things.
I had not really realized that I had some of this characteristic until I watched the show "Hoarders" on TV.
I'm not as bad as the folks on that show but many times I find myself sympathizing and understanding what the hoarders on the show are feeling.

As I looked at the pile of mom's photo albums I accepted that there was no way possible that we could keep all of them.
Disposal was necessary.
I decided that unless a photo had mom or anyone else that I cared about in it it went into the trash.

It was impressive how well I did. I loaded up an entire garbage bag with photos of scenes that were pleasant but had no relevance to me other than that my mother had taken them.

I was at it for a few hours each day.
This seems like (and was) a long time but I was still far from done.

One morning a few days into this I felt terrible. It felt like I had been hit by a truck. I was sore and achy all over.
It was everything I could do just to get out of bed. I can't remember feeling so awful.

At first I didn't make a connection with this and mom's photos but my doctor pointed it out in a conversation.

Holy cow, he was right.
This process of looking at hundreds of pictures and throwing many away was affecting me and I hadn't realized it.

You could understand why to this day I have never gone back to that task.

T is a very tidy and neat lad and I am very proud of him for this. He is neater than I have ever been in my entire life.
It's all good though. He isn't really obsessive about it but takes it very seriously and has pride in doing it right.

You can imagine how frustrated T has been with the stacks of photo albums and other items of mom's sitting there in the basement unmoved for two years.

I haven't actually told anyone about the effects of the pictures on me. I've just steered clear and avoided that pile of stuff.

Until today.

I had a message from Cheryl who was overwhelmed by the amount of stuff down there. She had tried to get into it to clean up but wanted me to help her with it.

So I told her what my problem is and why I haven't done what I was supposed to do.

Her reply was "That's okay Hon...I will do it."

Thank goodness.

Stay well,

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Gee, thanks...

This is rather amusing and I wanted to share it.

As many of you know, our son B started a newspaper route almost a year ago. It's delivered every day except Sundays and Christmas Day.

It's been going pretty well and he and I have the routine down to a science. His route isn't in our neighbourhood so I drive him over and we do it together.

I wake up at 6:15 and go outside to get the newspaper bundle while he gets dressed and ready to go. The papers usually arrive sometime before we get up.
I say "usually" but not always. There have been a few instances that they have been two hours late. We were told in the beginning that the customers are to have their papers delivered before 7 a.m.

I put the bundle on the kitchen table and cut the plastic straps holding the bundle.
By this time B has come into the kitchen. Some of the customers like to have their paper in plastic bags while most do not.
I hold the bag and B rolls the paper small enough to fit into it.
Then we're ready to go.

Since the start of B's paper career, Thursday has been a dreaded day for us.
That's flyer day and the papers are sometimes almost twice as fat as a regular day.
That's okay though and not a big deal.
For the past few weeks the flyers have been huge and almost twice as thick as the newspaper itself! I'm assuming that this is due to the Christmas season being upon us.
Up until recently the papers had come bundled as usual with the flyers already within the papers.

However, a few weeks ago the newspaper publisher sent out an announcement that the flyers would no longer be inside the papers and would be in their own bundles.
The carriers were now required to insert them into the papers.

But, it was going to be worth their while. The publisher was going to pay the carriers a little extra for their efforts on flyer day.

I thought okay, it's a bit of a pain but as long as he was to get some extra moolah for it, I'm good with that.

I'll tell you though. The last couple of weeks have been crazy with the size and number of flyers.
The person who delivers them to our house brings them right up and leaves them on our front porch which is nice.
A couple of times when there was a different person I found the bundles on the driveway behind my car. At first I didn't even know they were there. After waiting for a while I decided to go out and look around and that's when I found them.

A couple of weeks ago we had a snowstorm. The boys and I did a decent job of clearing the snow but during the night the snowplow came and left a gift at the end of the driveway.
When I got up to get the papers I could see them way down at the road at the end of the driveway.
Coincidentally this was on a monster sized flyer day so two trips were needed for me to bring them to the house.

Anyhoo, B and I have been stuffing all of those stupid flyers into all of those papers for a few weeks now without complaining too much with the knowledge that some extra bread will be gracing his palm.

Last week Cheryl received a copy of B's pay summary.

She made the huge announcement that we had indeed received the "flyer windfall" in his pay.

About a buck.

Just over one dollar.

Perhaps it's just me but I was really thinking that it would be a little more than that.

Ah well, it's better than nothing right?
Right? :)

Stay well,

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Very Thankful Indeed

I recently read an article on being a thankful parent of twins.

The American Thanksgiving is coming up this weekend and being thankful is a common theme throughout the internet these days.

There were a several areas where our experiences differed as the article was written from a mother's perspective but all in all it pretty well nailed down my feelings too.

The author mentioned many things that twins share including their birthdays.
One major difference of our situation to the article is that our guys do NOT share the same birthday.
T was born before midnight on April 17 and B was delivered after midnight on April 18.
It's not a common thing for twins but one that we have been very happy about.

For their whole lives we have strived to highlight the boys' individuality.

We haven't dressed them alike or tried to make them appear the same as many parents of multiples do.
They're not the same.

They are their own person and having different birthdays is another fantastic way to show that.

To this day I still have people that are surprised when I tell them even though the boys look alike, they are very different in many many ways.

It's funny but when the boys were babies I had someone argue with me that they were not twins because of having different birthdays.
Needless to say I didn't bother arguing very long with that kind of logic. I just left that chap to think as he wishes.

One point mentioned that twins have a special bond even though they will inevitable squabble with each other.
Man, do I ever understand this one.
Sometimes the bickering makes me crazy and I can't ever imagine that they will EVER stop going at each other.

Then they do something awesome like make a funny video together as they did this past weekend which shows me that when they DO settle in and work together they can do magic.

Another great example is when they both go down into their music room to play together.
T on the piano and B on the drums.
Unfortunately these sessions usually only last for a couple of minutes before artistic differences put an end to the sessions but for those few minutes that they actually sit and play music together it's amazing.

I recall a guy that I worked with in Ontario who is a twin.
When our boys were babies I talked to him about being a twin. I naturally assumed that he and his brother are best friends and said so.

I was floored when he told me that he hates his brother.
He told me that when they were kids they would fight and hit each other so hard that they would make each other pee blood.

Now I'm betting with certainty that this is a rare example of a twin dynamic.

I wonder how their parents feel about these guys hating each other so much?

The very thought of that makes me feel sick to my stomach.
I am going to put that away and feel comfortable that my boys will never feel that way.

The article referred to a multiple birth being short and sweet and getting two babies at once. I'm pretty sure that Cheryl may not agree with the short and sweet point.
She went full term with our guys.
They were delivered naturally.
T was 7 pounds 9 ounces and B was 8 pounds 11 ounces.
Those who know about this will understand what she went through.
The delivery room was so full of people it was almost difficult to move.
There was a medical team for each baby as well as for Cheryl.

I'd like to say again right here that another thing that I am very thankful for is that I am a guy and will never have to go through what the ladies do. Lol.

The article referred to twins sharing private jokes and often even a special language with each other.
I love this one. It's totally true.
One thing my sons have between them is the way they call each other. It's hard to describe here but I'll just say that it's unique.

Ever since our sons were small I have repeatedly told them that friends will probably come and go throughout their whole lives. Unfortunately girlfriends and companions likely will as well.

Even Cheryl and I will be gone one day.

But, the constant thay will always have throughout anything and everything for their whole lives will be each other.

For that they should always be as I am.
Very thankful.

Stay well,

Friday, November 11, 2011

This Says It All

This is the passage that I read today at the New Maryland Remembrance Day service.

It's quite short but to me it says everything.
Councilor McCaie-Burke read the same passage in French.

In Memoriam read by Councillors Tim Scammell & Gisèle McCaie-Burke

“With pride and gratitude we remember our Comrades who, serving in the Canadian and Allied Armed Forces, made the supreme sacrifice for Sovereign and Country.  Others of our Comrades we remember with deep affection who, since their return to Canada, have been called to Higher Service.”

It was raining a fair amount and was chilly but thankfully it wasn't very windy as the forecast had called for.

This was the last service that I read as a Councillor. For a while anyway.

I was very impressed by the large number of people who ignored the elements to attend.

We will not forget those who served and sacrificed for us.

Stay well,

Monday, October 24, 2011

Yep, this ticks me off

Ever since the United States changed the rules for Canadians to cross the border I had intended to get myself an updated passport.

One day someone mentioned something called a "Nexus" card which is supposed to be like a passport for travel between Canada and the US and was cheaper than a passport.

Several months ago I looked into it and decided to go for it.
I filled out the online application and waited for the initial application approval. When that was completed a few weeks later I went online to book an appointment for my interview at one of the border crossing locations listed.
The Houlton, Maine location was the closest to me a short distance from Woodstock, NB.

I work in Woodstock. It would have been convenient to book the appointment on a workday and take my lunch hour for it but it worked out the closest appointment fell during the week that I had booked vacation time.
Oh well.

On the day of my interview B and I headed out fairly early for the 1 1/4 hour drive to the Houlton customs office for my interview. B wanted to come along for the ride to keep me company.

I was pleasantly surprised at how friendly and helpful the young lady at the front desk was.
I was equally impressed by the friendliness of the officer who conducted the actual interview too. He was quite easy going and the interview went very well.

At the end he asked me if B was there for an interview too. He told me that kids under 18 can get a Nexus card for free if a parent has one.
That's a pretty sweet deal. Additionally, once my guys have cards they can use them as official photo ID.

When I got home I headed to the web site and filled out the initial applications for both boys.
We were hoping that perhaps we could have the process done in decent time and be able to hop over to Maine for a day trip while it was still summer but as it worked out the initial conditional approval didn't arrive until almost a month and a half later.

From there I needed to go to the web site and book an appointment for their interviews.
We preferred not to have the boys miss any school so I booked them for their next school professional development day on October 21.

Over the next few weeks we assembled what we needed for the interviews.
The problem we had was that we couldn't find T's birth certificate anywhere in the house. I still don't have a clue where it could be.
We tore the house apart looking for it with no luck.

On October 16th I went to the Government of Ontario web site to see what could be done to get T a replacement certificate.
At this point I didn't even know if this was possible but happily found out that replacing it was very easy and only cost $35.
I completed the transaction. A message came up stating that the replacement birth certificate should arrive within 15 days or so.

Unfortunately our appointment was only 5 days away and it wouldn't arrive in time for that.

I was wondering if there was anything else that we could use for T for his proof of citizenship.
If there was no other option I would have to reschedule the boys for a different day. I didn't want to take separate trips all the way to Houlton for this. That would be a waste of time and wasted gas.

I tried several times to contact the Houlton office to ask but every time I tried to call that day the line was busy.
I had an appointment not too far away from there that afternoon so I took an early lunch to drop by and speak to someone in person.

I told the man at the desk my predicament and asked what my options were.
There was nothing else that we could use. It had to be his birth certificate.

When I mentioned that a replacement was on its way, the man told me that the officer could conduct the full interview for T and once the new birth certificate arrived I could head over so they could scan it to complete the process for T.
How sweet is that? That was perfect.
We could still do it on the boys' day off.

A couple of days later I called the Nexus place again to confirm that it would still be okay to drop off T's birth certificate later and that I didn't have to have it with me.
The man on the phone was the same one that I had spoken to when I was there and he confirmed what he had told me before.

Great. We were all set.

On October 21 the boys and I headed out fairly early for Houlton to make sure we got there in time for the 9:30 interviews.

When we entered the man at the desk was the same from my last visit and when I called a few days prior.
I gave him everything we had for both boys and he took it over to the officer who was to do the interviews.
I found out that the person who conducts the actual interviews is a US customs officer.

He called B and I over to do the interview. I had to answer most of the questions since I am the boys' guardian.

It was pretty clear from the beginning that this dude was not as friendly or easy going as the one who interviewed me.
He hardly looked at us and was rather abrupt and snarky at times.
No matter, we breezed through the process in a few minutes.
He took B's picture for the card and that was that.

Then it came time for T's application.
He asked me where T's birth certificate was. I told him that we had misplaced the original but a replacement was being mailed from Ontario and that I would drop by as soon as it arrived.
He said that I would have to reschedule T's appointment when I had his birth certificate.

I mentioned that I was told that we could do the interview without it and I would be certain to bring it when we received it.
Nope, he said. I had to reschedule. There was no other way.

Talk about feeling like being kicked in the stomach.
I didn't pursue it any further. It wouldn't have done any good if I did.

We went back over to the main desk area where the first guy was and I told him what the other officer had said.

He just looked at me.
There was no "Geez, I guess I was mistaken. Sorry about that pal."

I said that I would call and make a new appointment.

As we drove away I was so frickin angry.
T seemed resigned to the facts and took it in stride. Much better than I did.

How could one person who works there tell us something, TWICE, and be wrong like that??
Don't you think they should be on the same page to avoid this?

Anyway you get the point. I was steamed. I won't go on about it any more.

Guess what arrived at the house that afternoon? Yep, the replacement birth certificate was delivered by courier only 5 days after I ordered it.

I've booked a new appointment for T's interview.

Wish us luck.

Stay well,

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Short and Sweet

I know many bloggers don't like to quote or refer to newspapers or other media sources but I make exceptions when I'm the one being written about.
I don't think the Gleaner would mind since I have praise for them in this post.

A couple of weeks ago I was contacted by Heather McLaughlin of the Daily Gleaner to talk about my last blog. She had a couple of questions about my decision to not seek re-election in the spring.
We spoke for a few minutes and I left it to fate to see how it would play out.

(You recall that in the past some news sources have taken my words and I haven't always come out looking so well.)

I was very pleased when I saw this in the Gleaner on Monday October 10.
Heather did a very nice job of keeping the details of our conversation short and sweet to which I am thankful.
Here is a link to it.

Gleaner article

If for some reason the link above doesn't work I have copied and pasted it here as well.

Scammell won't reoffer
Published Monday October 10th, 2011

New Maryland Coun. Tim Scammell says he has decided not to reoffer when municipal elections roll around next spring.

Scammell said he's enjoyed his experience on council.

"I would encourage anyone to offer themselves for public office, but I really recommend that they evaluate the time commitment and determine if it fits into their lives or not," Scammell said.

The married father of twin boys, who will be 14 by the time May elections roll around, said he wants to spend more time with them during their teenage years.

Scammell said he wanted to make his intentions known early so that anyone interested in running in the next municipal election has a headstart.

"I know of a couple of guys who have expressed their interest in it and if they do, it will be great. It would be an awesome council if they got on," he said.

Scammell said he'd be happy to share his thoughts with any candidates who want to know what the job of councillor entails, and he's not ruling out a return to local politics if the timing is right.

This appeared in the Comments section on the web version of the story.

"But Tim, you are the one who should be running for Mayor! If anyone can get some GOOD things happening for the village, it would be YOU. Too bad the younger blood and voices are being chased out. Wish you would really stay on!"
A Reader, Fredericton on 10/10/11 11:02:10 AM ADT

I appreciated this and replied to it.

"Thank-you very much for the kind words and confidence A Reader. I appreciate it more than I can tell you.
Please don't feel that I'm being chased out though. I don't feel that way.
I plan on staying involved with Village matters and would like to remain on at least one of the committees that I'm presently on if the upcoming Mayor and Council will permit.
It wasn't an easy decision to make but it's the right one for now.
However, in 2016 my sons will be 18 and most likely quite independent of their dear old dad.
That may be a good time to consider seeking office again. (If the voters would have me).
Thanks again.
Tim Scammell, New Maryland on 11/10/11 12:05:38 PM ADT

I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised by what A Reader said.

My pal Charles posted my last blog on his blog site and I was stunned by the level of nastiness that spilled out of the comments section.
If that venom was left here I would not allow them to be posted but Charles censors very little on his blog.
I won't bother repeating them here but I was saddened that there are people who could look at what I had written and blast me for it.
I've blown it off now thanks to good words from good friends who put it in perspective.

Anyhoo, now I carry on with the last few months of my term on New Maryland Council.

There's some busy times ahead with the upcoming budget and the new year coming.

Carry on.

Stay well,

Monday, September 26, 2011

It's been interesting, Thanks

To many this isn't news since I made this decision several weeks ago.
I haven't kept it a secret but I figured that I should say something publicly.

There's no better place to do so than right here where people can see it.

This decision has actually been brewing in my mind for a pretty long time.

In my July 21st post I referred to the Council meeting of that week.
Specifically a member of the public who showed up and was somewhat annoying.
What I didn't mention was that to be at that Council meeting I had to leave my sons' baseball game in the second inning.

As I sat in the meeting listening to that gentleman a nagging thought in my head was saying "I am missing my boys' baseball game for this".

That wasn't the first time I had heard that thought.

I'll admit that I've been pretty lucky in my term on Council as far as schedule conflicts. Usually these things have worked out pretty well.
However, there have been several occasions that I have missed a game due to a meeting.

I won't blame New Maryland Council for all that I've missed.

I missed T's very first hockey goal several years ago to be at a meeting of NBSCETT Council. I was the president at the time. (I'm not currently involved with NBSCETT Council.)

I still feel the sting of that day.
I remember clearly when my cell phone rang during the meeting. I excused myself to take the call.

It was T calling to tell me that he scored his very first goal that day.
I was so damn proud of him and announced it to everyone at the meeting that my son had scored his first goal.

An awesome feeling and a terrible feeling at the same time.
I wasn't there when he scored the goal.

Honestly, I don't know how my boys feel when I wave goodbye to them while they are on the ball diamond or hockey rink in the middle of a game.

If you were to ask them they would probably tell you that it's okay and no big deal but I'm not sure that would be the whole truth.

Do you know why I think this? Because of the bad feeling I have in my stomach as I am waving goodbye to them while they are in the middle of a game.

Anyone who knows me knows how much I love watching my sons in anything that they are involved in.
That's no surprise. Any decent parent has that feeling.

My sons will be 14 years old next year when the municipal election comes along.
If I were to run for a Council position and win, that would mean another 4 year term on New Maryland Council.

At the end of that 4 years my boys will be 18 years old.
I'm not trying to predict the future but I'm thinking that by the time my sons are 18 years old they may not have as much time in their lives for baseball, hockey and activities as they do right now.

The next few years in my sons' lives are going to be pretty special ones.
My being there with them may be important for them.
It will be critical to me.

So, I've made up my mind that I will not be running for a position on New Maryland Council in the upcoming election.

I'm not saying that I will never run again though.

I plan to stay on at least one of the committees that I am on right now.

Perhaps in a few years when the boys have grown up and have lives that are mainly independent of my own I'll decide to jump into the fray again.

I'm not leaving the game. I just want to sit on the bench for a while.

Thanks for putting me in Coach.

Stay well,

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Where to start...

Geez. It gets to be so long between posts and there are so many things in my head that I would love to talk about.
If I tried to I would be typing for days.

I guess I'll start with baseball.
In my last post I referred to the boys' upcoming year end baseball tournament that weekend.
If you go back a year in this blog you'll see that the boys took gold in the tournament by beating Minto and the kid with the rocket arm.
What worked in our favour was that we had several strong pitchers and we saved my son B for the last game to seal it up.
The Minto team on the other hand, only had a couple of good pitchers but the rocket kid was their strength.
Last year he was used in Friday and Saturday's games and when it came down to the final game he couldn't play for as much of the game as if he didn't pitch at all.

This year was a different story, thanks to Mother Nature.

The tournament started pretty well the same as last year with our lads walking over the competition for the first 2 days assuring their spot in the final game on Sunday.
As we expected, the same team from Minto was going to be the other team. Just like last year.

Our coaches had the same strategy and worked it out so that we would use my other son T and the others to pitch and save B for Sunday's final game.
If he didn't pitch at all in any other game he was clear to pitch up to the maximum 85 pitches in the final game.
If he was called in to pitch in any of the other games it would mean that his pitch limit would be reduced by half since there was not enough time to rest between games.

Our advantage against Minto would be that the rocket kid would have been used either Friday or Saturday and would be limited to how many he could throw on Sunday.

B was not used Friday or Saturday and was clear for Sunday.

This is where Mother Nature came in and messed it up for us.
Sunday was rained out so the Final game was postponed until Tuesday night.

All of the pitchers on boths teams had enough rest and could throw up to 85 pitches in the game.

It turned out that that other kid held our guys back and our bats did not produce results.

B did a very good job on the mound but I'm sorry to say that it was not enough.
I don't want to seem like I'm blaming but there were some plays in our field that were rather sloppy and put us behind.
Minto's offence isn't the strongest but they didn't make the errors that we did that day.
Plus, without hits we couldn't get runs back.

I'm proud of our guys for the effort but Minto deserved that game.

Some people don't understand how a team may not be overjoyed at still winning a silver medal.
Looking at the guys in the photo above it doesn't look like they were overjoyed about it, does it?

In all fairness to them that picture was taken immediately after the game when they were still stinging.
I'm glad to say that within an hour or so they all seemed to be back to good spirits and feeling much better.

Look at it this way. They were the second best team in the entire league for 2011. That's pretty darn good.

So, another baseball season is done.

Yesterday I signed up the boys for the upcoming hockey season.
The leaves on the trees have started changing colours like crazy this week.
Before long the snow will be here and the seemingly eternal Canadian winter will be upon us.

But we have hockey.

Bring it on. :)

Stay well,

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Wait! What Summer?

I can't believe it.
When we were driving home from Moncton the other day I glanced over at some trees near the highway and saw a whole lot of leaves that were already changing colour.

For crying out loud. There are still 2 weeks left in August! The boys are still on summer vacation.

I have to say that this summer has been one of the more disappointing ones in terms of the weather.
The sun would be out on days that we had nothing in particular going on but many days that the boys had a baseball game the rain would blast down and ruin everything.

What's worse is that on a few occasions it rained like crazy in the morning and stopped by midday.
By then it was too late to try and prepare the ball field for a game that night even if it could dry out enough to play a game.

Last night was supposed to be their last regular season game before the end of year tournament this weekend. But, it poured rain yesterday morning and the game was cancelled.
That sucks. We have all been very disappointed when this has happened.

As you know, we love our baseball and I REALLY look forward to watching my guys play.
On top of this, there were 2 games that we were supposed to play that were cancelled because they couldn't find an umpire!
How sad is that?

I'm ashamed to say this but there were a couple of times that I had to leave when the game was in progress in order to be at Council related meetings.

In fact, do you recall my last post? The one about that idiot spouting off at Council about what he felt was the right way to build a road?

That was one of those nights that I had left the boys' ball game to be at that meeting.

I didn't mention this in the last post but what was going through my head when that goof was talking (apart from wanting to tell him where the door was, and for him to use it right away) was that I was sitting there listening to that rubbish while my sons were playing baseball.
And that really ticked me off. The straw that broke the camel's back and provided me with some clarity, if you will.

I guess I'm mentioning this so that the blog I will be posting in the near future won't come as a real surprise to anyone reading it.
A couple of people already know what's coming but I'll leave it at that for now.

For now I'm going to cross my fingers that the weather decides to be nice to us this weekend so that we can at least have a decent conclusion to the lads' ball season.

Stay well,

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The facts? That would be great please.

After this entry I hope to never discuss Baker Brook ever again on this blog.

This was taken directly from FOX FM News page this morning and was played on the air as I was travelling to work.

"A resident of New Maryland is concerned that flooding may start on Baker Brook Court if the village keeps just a paved curb on the street instead of digging a ditch. Bela Galantai made a presentation to the council about his concern last night, he says he wanted to educate council about the problem and hopes council can look into fixing it.
New Maryland Mayor Frank Dunn says he appreciates Galantai coming forward and he will take a look into his concern."

As you know, I am on New Maryland Council and happened to be there. I also have a little knowledge of details that were overlooked by the reporter on hand last night.

I really don't want to go back and detail all of the problems that have taken place with the Baker Brook project. I don't have enough time.
If you like, there's some details here in my blog entry from last year. A little bit weary I suppose. How are you?

I accept that far less people will read this than who heard the radio news item this morning. Plus, most reading this will not have heard it or even care about what I'm talking about.

So I guess I'm writing this as personal way to get things off my back and give some small satisfaction that (to steal a phrase from X-Files) "The Truth is Out There" since my local media outlets don't appear to share my attention to detail.

That's okay. They are very busy with many things.

Okay, let's go.

First of all, when the Baker Brook work was being planned as part of the larger Infrastucture project it was agreed that we should give the residents as much as we possibly can since it had been far too long since their street had been upgraded.

The sanitary system upgrade was mandatory since the existing wastewater lagoon had long passed the end of its lifespan and likely become an environmental hazard.

While this work was to happen the Council decided that we would go that extra mile and connect the residents to the Village municipal water supply. The new water tower being built in the project added some water capacity and hooking on a few more homes onto the system would be no problem.
Presently about 1/3 or so of the Village homes are connected to the Village system. The rest of us are on our own wells.

So that was added to what was to be done.

Prior to the project both sides of the street had sufficient drainage of storm water.
There had been no reports of inablity to handle the capacity of storm water that flowed on the street.
However, there were some funds available so that we could improve the storm drainage on the high side of the street and add curb and gutter and catchbasins while we were in there.
So we chose to go for it. After all, we were giving the residents of Baker Brook a sweet new street with sparkling new features already.

Keep in mind that there was nothing wrong with the system as it was. By rights all we really should have done was fix the road and keep the rest as it was.
This upgrade to the upper side of the street would add appeal to the appearance and also improve the stormwater drainage capacity. Just in case.

The lower side of the street was to remain as it is since we could not afford to do both sides.
That was okay though.
There are other places in New Maryland with curb on one side and none on the other. It's quite common and functions adequately.

The Village's consulting engineer has been satisfied with the work that we have decided to do.
This chap is a Professional Engineer who gets paid well to have knowledge in these things and provide these opinions to his clients.

That was fine with me.

Now to the present day.

The Baker Brook portion of the project is in its final stages.
The watermain laterals are installed in all except one home.
The sanitary system has been modified and that stuff is now travelling to our treatment plant instead of the derelict lagoon which it did before.

The stone is all down and the new curbing is finished on the upper side of the road.

There are a couple of things being tidied up and then it's paving time.
Brand new blacktop.
It will be quite a street to see.

Just prior to our Council meeting last night I received a message detailing this chap's concerns which he brought up with the engineer.
The engineer advised him that it is what it is but that he could go to the meeting and say what was on his mind if he wished.

When this dude started talking he indicated that he has been building concrete foundations for many years and personally did many of the homes in New Maryland.

Somewhere I thought I heard it mentioned that he stated that he is a developer but that is very different than building foundations for someone else completing a home.

Here's my thing.

As you see in the above news item he told the news that he wanted to educate Council about the problem.

First of all, who the heck is he to say that he will "educate" me??
I completely understand the value of practical experience related to formal education. In fact, there is a man I work with who has more experience-gained knowledge in his little finger than most people who are university or college educated.

But for this guy to stroll in out of nowhere and proclaim himself to be an expert and show us what's really going on? I don't think so.
Thanks anyway.

Secondly, this is the very end of the project. No-one has had any issues with the way we were doing this up until now.

Thirdly, there is no more money even if we wanted to add more curbs. The Infrastructure funds are done.
If there is to be more curbing it will have to come out of my Transportation budget. And that will not happen.

Right now we are working on a 5-year plan to add to the sidewalk system in the areas surrounding New Maryland Elementary School so that kids walking to school won't have to walk in the roadways as they do now.
This is my priority and you can't have any money from that.

Lastly, and this is pretty huge.
This guy ISN'T a New Maryland resident!
He lives in Fredericton and just bought a vacant lot on Baker Brook.
His plan is to build a house on the lot and probably sell it.
I don't think that he has ever had any intention of becoming a resident of the Village.
What I see is that he thinks that a new house with a new curb in front of it would fetch more than one without.

I should point out that the news item is confused about what is to go in and what this guy wants.

There is no problem with that drainage.
Will there ever be in the future? Maybe. Maybe not. Who the heck knows? With the wild weather the world is being hit with these days I think that we could all be in for surprises now and then.
The major flooding in New Brunswick last December was a perfect example of it.

I mentioned something last night which I'll say here.

Even if the Village had an extra $100,000, for example, to go out and build some curbs, what makes that piece of Baker Brook any more deserving than any other Village street that is in the same situation?

I'll wrap it up now.

Keep in mind that not all that you read is precise or even true and that even if it is true, there may be details not included that could change the entire tone or meaning.

Stay well,

Friday, June 24, 2011

Oh! The Places They're Going.

Once in a while something comes along that makes the job of being a Village Councillor truly worthwhile and worth all of the hard work.
Last night was one of those occasions.

I was fortunate enough to be invited to the Graduation Exercises for the Fredericton High School Class of 2011 at the Aitken Centre.

I had received invitations in the last couple of years but for whatever reason was unable to attend until this year.

I really didn't know what to expect as I had not been to one of these before.
Heck, I didn't even go to my own high school graduation ceremony.
Actually, when I earned my Grade 12 Diploma at A. Y. Jackson Secondary School in North York I intended on continuing on to Grade 13 the following year.
The Grade 12 diploma didn't seem like a big deal to me so I skipped the ceremony.

I suppose I could say that a representative of Canada's postal service presented me with my Grade 12 diploma. (It came in the mail).

I did go into Grade 13 but didn't quite get that diploma at the end. I dropped out that year and went back the next year to try out "Grade 14".
I didn't get the diploma that year either.
It's a long story that I won't bother telling right now but I WILL say that I made a lot of friends and had a very good time that year. :)

It was a weird time in my life. I'll leave it at that.

What I wasn't expecting last night was to see a class of almost 500 kids take a very large step into their adult lives.
I had no idea that there were so many! Granted, FHS has over 1900 students in Grades 9-12 so I should have figured it out that about a quarter would be graduating last night. FHS website

It was incredible to see so many kids down there. I was in the reserved area of the stands. There were at least 1000 family members and friends filling the stands.

It was almost like being at a UNB Varsity Reds game except that it was very very hot in there last night.

Usually in such a situation I may try to find a way to escape and get air but last night I sat there in the heat for the whole time and applauded while every single student's name was called and they went up to receive their diplomas.

It may sound a bit odd but I was okay with that. Really.
I only knew a few of the kids that were graduating but I felt very proud for all of them.

I know that I would never be called upon to speak at these ceremonies but I sort of wished that I was.

I would like to have told them what was going on in my head as I watched the ceremony.

I would have told them that just a couple of days before I was stunned to realize that even though it felt like my boys had just gone into middle school they were in fact ending their second year.

I wish I could have told them how scared I am to know that before I know it my sons will be heading into that very school that they are now leaving after 4 years.

I would have told them that even though there may have been days that FHS felt like the last place in the world that they wanted to be, in fact, their days at FHS are probably going to be the ones that they look back with the most fondness as they move on in life.

I would have said that it scares the hell out of me to know how fast the day is coming that my two "little" boys will be sitting there in those seats at their own graduation ceremony.

I would have told them that I was pretty certain that those parents up in the stands with me were feeling a worry that every parent will always feel that their "babies" will be okay as they grow up and move on in their lives.

I wish I could have told them that wherever they are going and however busy and wild their lives will become tomorrow, please sit down once in a while and talk to those who love you.
Because they really do want to know how you are and what's going on.

Finally, I wish that no matter what places they go and what wonders and worries they are certain to face that they come out happily and safely on the other side.

Stay well,

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


I'm stuffing the blog with this post and our family is stuffing this week.
We are stuffed with things to do and I really don't think we could fit any more in.
I'm not complaining though. It's an awesome week.

I'll start with Sunday. Even though the weather wasn't the greatest it was a great day.
Coincidentally, it was Father's Day.
I don't think that I have mentioned this but the boys have started their summer hockey league and have already played 3 of the 10 games.
I'm the main coach of the team.

This is the league that mixes all levels of boys and girls from beginner to Triple A. The biggest rule is that they have fun. Another rule that I greatly admire is that any one player is only allowed to score 3 goals in a game. If they score 4, they get a penalty and the goal doesn't count.

Our team hasn't started off so well. We've actually been pounded in each game so far. We're trying to be positive about the whole thing but I can't help but notice how mismatched the teams are.
I won't dwell on it but there was some shiftiness when the teams were being selected by some who have been doing this for a while and enjoy winning more than some other people do.
Not to worry, we were told that if the teams are eneven that there will be a realignment soon. We'll see.
Honestly? I don't care. I like the kids we have on our team and would prefer not to lose any of them for the sake of a few more goals.

Anyhoo, the kids played a game on Sunday evening and I enjoyed it. Even though we lost.

My father and step-mother made it out which was great.
They are very busy folks and don't really live very close to us so it becomes difficult for getting together.

After the game the boys, Cheryl, my dad and step-mother and myself headed over to Swiss Chalet in Fredericton for a late dinner.
We were pretty hungry by this time and fortunately the Father's Day mobs were long gone when we arrived. We practically had the whole place to ourselves. Sweet.

The next item of awesomeness (awesomeality, awesomeivity?) is that our Baseball season started last night! I'm an assistant coach this season.
It feels like so long since we last played. Actually it has been a long time.
We've been having practices but gametime is where it gets good.

The team that we played last night was actually the team that we beat in the final game last season.
They were pretty good but didn't seem to have what they had last season. Not yet anyway. The season has just started and much can, and likely will change.
Our guys won 14-4 which set a good tone to start the season off.

As always, we were very proud of T and B.

The pitching duties were divided into two innings each. B played first base and was the second pitcher on the mound.
At first he let a couple of pitches get away and seemed to be getting a little upset but managed to rein it in and bring his focus back all by himself.
He pitched two solid innings.

T was outstanding on third base and center field.
One huge shot was smacked out toward him and would certainly have been a triple. That is, if T wasn't on the job. He made it look easy as he jogged over and pulled the ball out of the air to make the out.

How did these guys get so good? I don't remember being that good. :)

Continuing in my awesome week, TODAY is my birthday.
I know that you Facebook pals out there already know because I spent quite a while this morning thanking everyone who posted birthday wishes on my wall.
Thanks again everyone. I have the best friends in the world.

For my birthday present, I want a nice sunny day outside and to watch my sons play baseball again.
What luck! It's a lovely sunny day out right now. I hope it stays that way for another 7 hours or so.
And look! There just happens to be a baseball game scheduled for tonight in Nackawic. Nice.
We have never played against a team from Nackawic before and have no idea what to expect. Nackawic is a mill town and for all we know the baseball players will all be lumberjacks built like Paul Bunyan. :D
It will be fun no matter what.

Nackawic is about halfway from my office to Fredericton so I will be meeting my crew at the ball field near the big axe.
It's true! Go here and see for yourself! It's the world's biggest axe. It's huge.

Town of Nackawic

After the game if all goes well, we'll be celebrating the victory and having birthday cake at my dad's house a short distance along the river from Nackawic.

That's a pretty amazing week isn't it? And it's only Tuesday. :)

Tomorrow we just happen to have another hockey game at Base Gagetown.

As thrilled as I am at how this week is working out but the boys are more thrilled than I am.

This is their last week of school.
Grade 7 is a wrap.

Holy moley, wasn't it just recently that I posted about their first day at Middle School? Two years can't be done already can they? They are? Wow.

I distinctly remember asking very politely for time to slow down just a little bit to let me keep up.
I suppose that's not going to happen.

I'll just try to enjoy the ride then.

Stay well,

Friday, June 10, 2011

Picture This, My Friends

I was in Fredericton the other day at lunchtime and made a detour over to the York Street Train Station/New NB Liquor Store to have a visit.
I knew that not much would have changed since the last time that I was there but wanted to have a look regardless.
Plus, I realized that I had not posted recent photos in a while and felt that I should.

For my part and that of the Fredericton Friends of the Railway it appears that our work is done and we can all be proud of the wonderful newly spiffed-up landmark in the City of Fredericton.
Still, after all these years of driving by and taking thousands of pictures of the station's decay and feeling depressed I owe it to myself to take happy photos and feel good about the place now.

So I think that I'll probably continue this habit for a while longer.
I won't post thousands of happy photos but will store them somewhere with the others.

I've found a few of my pre-repair pictures from about 6 years ago that I'll post for comparison purposes with the new photos.

The difference is stunning.

Have a look. These are the the old photos.

Pretty sad, wasn't it?
Now have a look at this. As it appears today. This will cheer you up.

Awesome isn't it?
As you see there is a little more work to be done and a few things to be tidied up.
I'm not certain what will be going on with the ground surrounding the structure but I'm sure that it will be quite nice.

If I'm not mistaken they may be realigning the City walking trail from the far side of the property closer to the station. At least that was the plan a few years ago.

One thing that I will be sure to do is to get inside at some point and take a multitude of photos. I'll post quite a few of those.
When I was there the other day the front section was locked.

Not to worry. I've waited this long. I can wait a little longer.

Stay well,

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Promoting a Preferred, Proper, Practical and Professional Produce Production Protocol

I had to do create some kind of title to catch your attention because this entry isn't the most exciting one I've done.
It's kind of exciting to us though and I wanted to keep track of the progress as the summer moves along.

The boys and I decided to plant a vegetable garden in our back yard.

We got the idea last year when we were visiting my cousin up in Stanley, N.B. and marvelled at the amount of awesome fresh vegetables they had from their garden.

We all enjoy veggies but T is a fan of onions in particular so we had to make certain that we have a lot of them.

I have to ask a favour if you're reading this. If you see something that we are doing wrong that we can fix please let me know as soon as possible.
If it's something that is too late to repair, please keep it in your head and casually mention it at the end of summer so that I can note it for next season.
Thanks. :)
As I write this we have already learned an important lesson since first planting. You'll see farther down.

The plan has been in our minds all winter but I wasn't really sure of when we were supposed to get started with the process.
I grew tomatoes years ago when I lived in Ontario but that was easy. I just bought little plants that had already been started and plopped them into the ground in a garden that was already there.

This project is a tad more complicated since we had to dig out a patch in our yard for it.
No problem. I picked a good location with plenty of sunlight.

Several weeks ago T and I were shopping and spotted a display of seeds. We bought a couple of packages of pea, carrot, cucumber, corn, and onion seeds.
Then we bought one of those plastic tray things with a bunch of sections with peat disks.
These things make life pretty easy for someone like me. All I had to do was add water to the tray. The peat disks absorbed the water and swelled up.
I just put the seeds into the tops of the peat, closed the lid and put the tray in sunlight. And we waited.
It's a little greenhouse. Very nice.

The hard part was digging out the patch of the yard for the garden. The digging wasn't so bad but pulling the sod out and loosening the soil wasn't so much fun.
It seems that there's a fair bit of clay but we'll see how that works out.

Here's a bunch of photos of our first phase.

Okay there it is. Planted.
That was just over a week ago.

Remember that first lesson I mentioned that we learned? Most who have gardens will have spotted this right away.
I'll give you a hint.
It has to do with planting delicious looking green stuff right beside a forest overloaded with bunnies, deer and other assorted hungry wildlife.

Yep. Two days later I went out to see how things were progressing and found a bunch of the plants pulled up and lying on their sides. Some did appear to have been chewed.

Don't ask me why but I forgot to take a photo of the destruction before we repaired it.

Off to Home Depot we went to get what we needed for a fence.
Two small rolls of chicken wire and 6 wooden stakes later this is what the vegetable garden looks like now.

At first I thought that deer had done the deed since it looked like a hoof or something had made the holes to dig out the plants but the next day I looked out and spotted Bugs the Bunny looking sadly through the fencing at his salad.

We'll see how it goes.
If I do several updates you'll know that the garden is doing fine.
If I never mention it again it's safe to assume that it was a disaster and I'm sulking about it. :D

Stay well,

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Horror in Your Head

To start this one off I will have to begin by giving a short summary of some recent world events in the news.

On Sunday May 15th approximately one-third the town of Slave Lake, Alberta was destroyed by a horrendous fire. The blaze originated in the forests outside of town and was pushed closer and closer to the town by winds up to 100 km/hr.
Despite the best efforts of fire-fighters and civilians the perimeter of the town was breached and 95% of the 7000 residents were forced to evacuate.
By the time it was over, City Hall was burned, many businesses vanished and two hundred residences were destroyed.

In the United States a wingnut named Harold Camping who is president of Family Radio, announced that the rapture and Judgment Day would take place on May 21, 2011 at 6 p.m.
He based this stupidity on his calculations and conclusions from passages in the bible.
Sadly, this loon was given far too much coverage on the world stage and some folks actually felt that the Apocalypse could actually take place.
Happily, here we are 3 days later.
Doofus was wrong but now claims that he made an error and the event will actually occur on October 21, 2011.
Wouldn't it be nice if this guy had no access to media from now until then and we wouldn't have to hear about it again in a few months?

Over this past weekend more than fifty twisters were reported across seven midwestern states in the United States.
The worst hit was Joplin, Missouri where on Sunday a single twister killed at least 116 people, and the figure is expected to rise as debris is cleared.
Hopefully they will find some survivors as well.
This was considered to be the deadliest tornado in the United States in almost 60 years.

That's quite a bit of scariness and bad news for a short period of time isn't it?
At what point does it become too much to bear?
When does the horror of the world smash around inside our brains and finally cause it to collapse into itself?

I remember watching the movie "The Fisher King" starring Robin Williams and Jeff Bridges and feeling so sad for Robin's character.
Following the death of his wife, William's character slips into a catatonic state and remains there for a few years.
When he emerges he becomes obsessed with the tale of the legend of the Fisher King and most of the movie follows his hallucinations as Jeff Bridge's character tries to help him.
I won't bother going into full details but my point is that sometimes things happen that cause someone's mind to go into another place which is a different reality than what the rest of us know.

On the other side, I think that at times a mind which has been worn down by time or altered in some way may take what it sees, good or bad, and twist it around into another reality.

Perhaps this isn't always a bad thing.
If we can take a whole bunch of messy things and turn it into something nice in our mind what harm is there in that? Especially if it is in our later years and we don't have a lot of time left on the Earth?

That's the nice side.
What about the scary side?
What about when someone takes several things and turns them into a horror in their head?

I think that I witnessed this yesterday when we were visiting my grandmother at her nursing home.
To start I want to mention that the home is a beautiful place in the Village of Gagetown. It's cozy and overlooks the water.
No matter what time or season I have been there the view and scenery are always great. This is very important as Granny loves watching the world from her window.

During our visit yesterday Cheryl went down the hall while the boys and I stayed in the large TV room with Granny.
A few minutes later Cheryl came back and asked me if I had heard anything about a disaster involving 200,000 people in Ontario. An elderly man had just said something to her about it.
Holy moley. I'm pretty certain that I would have heard about something like this!
Even if I had never turned on the TV or radio I would certainly have heard something through Twitter or Facebook.
I had not heard of any disaster of this magnitude.

A couple of minutes later this gentleman came into the room and told us that 200,000 people were watching a football game and were sucked up into the sky to their deaths.
He then said something about a bus with thousands of people that was destroyed.
Then he said "I'll show you the paper. Hold on." and scurried out of the room.

When he returned he held up the front page of the Daily Gleaner.
He pointed to a photo of Prime Minister Stephen Harper touring the destruction at Slave Lake with the Mayor.
I started to say something about the fire at Slave Lake, Alberta but he interrupted me and pointed to the remains of a building in the photo and said that was where the 200,000 people had been watching the football game when they were killed.

The entire time this fellow was speaking it was in such an urgent and distressed way as if he had witnessed something terrifying.

Then he sat down on the couch beside my son.
He told us that from the morning to the evening yesterday he couldn't bear to watch the TV anymore from the terrible things that he was seeing. Then he covered his face with his hands.

I confess that at there was a moment that I felt some amusement listening to this man since I knew that what he was saying wasn't true.
If it had been real it would certainly have been horrific.

But here's the thing.
To this elderly man, I think that it WAS real.

I think that he had heard about the news items such as what I mentioned above and his brain put them together into an event of death and destruction like no other.

His tone of urgency and sorrow convinced me that he really believed that what he spoke of had actually transpired.
I don't think that anyone could convince him otherwise.

Perhaps he is like that all of the time? Maybe it was the first time that this had happened to him?

I don't know but it did not appear that anyone in the place was concerned about it.

On the way to the van I told Cheryl how sad it was that if the mind creates another reality why does it have to be such an awful one?
Why not something happy and peaceful? That would be so much better, wouldn't it?

As I write this I feel more sadness for this man than I did yesterday.

I'm hoping that when he opened today's paper he found some good news.

Stay well,

Monday, May 2, 2011

Return To Sender

Today is election day across Canada.
Tomorrow morning this country will either have a new Prime Minister or will return Mr. Harper to the office.
Since the last election the Conservatives have been dealing with the fact that even though they have been in power, it has been with a minority rather than a majority government.
Basically, this means enough seats to hold power but not enough to call all of the shots.

Without getting into the whole story here we are going to the polls for the 4th federal election in seven years.

No problem. We can handle that. We just do what we have to do.

I'd like to share a little story of something that I found interesting though.

My wife is working today as a Deputy Returning Officer at one of the local polling stations and she is the only person other than the actual voter who is allowed to touch a ballot.
Initially she had asked to work a poll and was told that a representative from Elections Canada would be in touch with her to sort out the details.

A couple of weeks ago she received a call that she would not be needed to work the polls but would be a backup in case an opening came up.
A few days later she had another call advising that she was needed and was to attend a training session for DRO's and polling clerks.

So far, so good.
She attended the training.
As far as she knew the next thing she would be required to do was to show up on election day at the polling station and get to work.

Last Friday evening a lady from Elections Canada called to speak to Cheryl. She wasn't home so I took a message and she called this lady back.
She was surprised to learn that she was required to go to a building in Knowledge Park in Fredericton to pick up a box. No-one had told her about this before this call.
What would have happened if we had been away for the weekend and missed this call?

We had some running around to do in town and stopped in to pick up this box.
It turns out that the box contained 500 ballots as well as a voters list among other things.
I wasn't able to see exactly what was in there since it was sealed before Cheryl took it out of the building.

She was only to open the box in the company of the station polling clerk while at the polling station this morning.
I assume that is what happened.

What I found interesting is that when Cheryl was picking up her box she said that there was a room packed with people being trained for election day.
Why had they not been trained earlier when Cheryl was?
Did they not realize that they needed training until receiving a call on Friday evening?
When Cheryl contacted her polling clerk to discuss election day the clerk was almost oblivious as to what she was required to do.
It wasn't Cheryl's place to train her polling clerk but she sought out information and passed it on as a favour.

The biggest, most interesting thing about all of this is that when Cheryl went to pick up the box containing the voters list and 500 ballots she was not asked for identification of any kind!
Anyone who was aware that she was a Deputy Returning Officer could have walked into that building saying they were my wife and walked out with a ballot box and 500 ballots.


It's possible that there was an error and the person handing over this stuff to her was actually supposed to see her identification and just forgot.
Or perhaps this person recognized her and didn't bother?

This is only one instance that I just happen to be aware of. I wonder about the rest of the country.

Get out and vote people. It's our right.

Stay well,

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Time Machine

I have wanted to do this one for ages but was waiting for the right time to do it. Now is that time.

You'll see why when you get to the end.

This is about the greatest rock band in the world, RUSH, and how my life has passed through the years along with them. That's where the Time Machine title idea came from.

One day in 1975 as I was walking home I noticed an old record player in someone's garbage. I don't know if it was just because I was 12 years old or that I had a hunch that this record player may still work but I decided to bring it home with me.

My family had an 8-track player and I had a cassette recorder/player but we didn't have a record player. As such we had no need for vinyl record albums in the house. I had won a Bobby Sherman vinyl album at a School Safety Patrol Christmas party. It had never been played before and even though it wasn't my choice of music to listen to, it would suit the purpose of seeing if my new/old record player worked.

I discovered that the record player "worked" perfectly in that it played the music. The only thing was that when I touched the center post or any metal part of the player I got an electric shock. I suppose that would explain why it was in the garbage but I overlooked that and had myself a new record player/wakeup device.

Soon afterwards I decided to take a trip down to the local public library and check out the assortment of LP's that were available to sign out.

This seems so bizarre to think that the North York Public Library could be a source of discovering the music of the day but they were up to date and anyone with a library card could sign out the albums of their choice.

I can still clearly visualize going through the records and stopping at RUSH - Fly By Night. This was the second album put out by the boys and the first with the "new guy" Neil Peart who replaced John Rutsey as the drummer and lyric writer.

I had never heard of these guys before but the cover of this album was so cool with a big snowy owl coming right out of the picture at me. I had to check this out.

I couldn't even tell you if I signed out any other albums along with it but I made my way home with Fly By Night under my arm. I went upstairs to my bedroom, took the record out of its sleeve, zapped myself as I put the record onto the post and turned the record player on and sat back to hear what this stuff was.

At that moment a lifelong fan of RUSH was born.

I would have been 11 or 12 years old at that time. Roughly 36 years ago. Man, I can't believe it's been that long...

I didn't have a lot of spending money in those years but I usually found a way to get a new RUSH album within the first day or so of its release. For the longest time RUSH would release a new one annually. I could listen to an album for about a year before I was really hungry for new stuff so this worked out perfectly.

I'm not positive of the first time that I saw the lads in concert. I originally thought that it was in 1977 or 1978 but I'm not positive.
What I AM positive of was that I was at their show on Sunday September 2, 1979 at Varsity Stadium in Toronto. My family had to speed back to Toronto from a cottage that we were using on Lake Simcoe just so that I could get to see this concert.

I still have the ticket stub somewhere. (I'll have to look for that and scan it, just for fun.). One of the best things about this show was that I finally had the opportunity to see FM who were another of my favourite bands of the time. Both bands were awesome but RUSH was what I was there for.

I've looked around on the internet and found that this show was part of the Permanent Waves Warm Up Tour. Even if this was the case the show was for the prior album "Hemispheres". I'm certain of that because I have this program from the show.

Once I went to my first show it became a tradition that I would see them every time they played in Toronto or somewhere within a few hours driving distance such as Hamilton or even Buffalo. If I had plans of some kind the plans would have to change.

RUSH was my priority.
You'll see later in this post that this hasn't changed after more than 30 years. There were a couple of times that I went to the shows by myself but I always ran into friends and spent the rest of the show hanging out with them.

Last year a documentary "Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage" was being released in theaters around the world for one night only.
As luck would have it the only place in New Brunswick that was showing it was in Moncton. It was a midnight show only.
Can you guess what I did? Yep, the family packed up and made an overnight mini-vacation out of it. This was the closest thing we had to seeing RUSH in these parts.

It was a blast. Sure it was late and we were all tired but what an incredible movie it is! Seeing it on the large screen made it even more amazing.

It was almost surreal seeing my old high school named in it.
Even more astounding was when it showed Geddy and Alex walking around outside a church where they first performed shows in the basement. That was where I went to nursery school!
I could still visualize the parade we all had on the church driveway for my birthday that year. That very driveway was right there on the screen.

Guitarist Alex Lifeson attended the same high school that I did. It was several years before I was there as he is about 9 years older than I am so I didn't see him personally. However, I found out fairly recently that our favourite babysitter was his friend at school.

It was when I was at high school that I learned Alex's real last name is Zivojinovich.
One of the walls in the band room was covered with a mural that he had painted. In the bottom corner was A. Zivojinovich. I don't recall how I found out that it was him but I admired the artwork that much more when I did.

In 1997 I heard on the news that Neil Peart's daughter had died in an automobile accident. It was such a strange feeling to feel so much grief and sympathy for someone who has meant so much to me for so long but has no idea who I am or that I even exist. How many of us wanted to tell Neil how sad we felt for him and express our condolences?

Less than a year after this Neil's wife Jacqueline passed away from cancer.

My god, how much could one man take...

For the next 5 years there was nothing from RUSH. Alex and Geddy did solo projects which were good but not the same.
I learned later that Neil packed up his life and rode 55,000 miles on his BMW motorcycle in order to mourn and reflect.

He wrote a book about the journey "Ghost Rider: Travels on the Healing Road" which I bought and read. Only when I read this book did it really sink in how close we came to losing RUSH forever. At his daughter Selena's funeral he told Alex and Geddy "consider me retired".

At some point in the travels Neil met a new woman that he married in September 2000.

Thankfully, in 2001 Neil contacted Geddy and Alex and told them that he was ready to get back to work and start writing music again.

In 2002 "Vapor Trails" was released and the boys were back. On July 17, 2002 I saw them play the Molson Ampitheatre in Toronto. I went by myself but I'd be damned if I was going to miss my first RUSH show in over 5 years.

Since moving to New Brunswick I have travelled back to Ontario to see them in concert.

I really wish that they would consider playing somewhere in Atlantic Canada. I have heard that they played here in Fredericton 30 years ago for the "Moving Pictures" tour but they haven't been here for a while.

I note that when we went to see the movie in Moncton there were about 100 people in the theatre. A friend of mine in the US told me that the midnight movie screening in his city was completely sold out and he couldn't get in. That may tell something of the interest out here.

From the time my sons were babies they have listened to RUSH. Many times we were in the car I would have a RUSH CD or cassette playing and they would rock along.

One of the funniest things I remember is playing the cassette "Roll the Bones" when they were 3 or 4 years old and both of them singing "We are young!" when it came up in the song "Dreamline". I can still hear it.

As you probably already know, both boys have taken up music. T with piano and B playing drums.

In fact, B idolizes Neil Peart. He has photos of Neil and his amazing drum kit in his bedroom and regularily practices playing along to RUSH songs. He's doing darn well too!

A friend of mine is on a mailing list for upcoming concerts. Last fall she forwarded me a message that tickets were about to be sold for a show in Montreal on April 20, 2011. This was to be the first time that RUSH has played east of Ontario since we had moved to New Brunswick in 2003.

I didn't need to think about it very long. We were going. All of us. Myself, Cheryl and the boys. I decided that it was time the boys went to see their first big rock show.

The significance of the show's date didn't immediately strike me but it was taking place just a couple of days after the boys' 13th birthdays.

As luck would have it the grand opening of the new N.B. Liquor store was going to be on April 21, the day after the concert. There was no way we could make it back in time but as I said before RUSH was the priority.

I wish that I could have been there but Mayor Brad Woodside gave me a "shout-out" at the ceremony. What a great guy he is.
Charles took a great video of Brad and the "shout-out". Have a look.

I called the Bell Centre in Montreal before we left and found out that it was okay for me to take my camera into the show as long as it wasn't a professional camera with a zoom lens. Excellent.
I took several videos. Here is a link to one that I posted on YouTube.

Even though my camera isn't a professional one by any means I think it did pretty well.
Here are a few of my photos.

That last one was taken at a really nice restaurant named Baton Rouge across from the Bell Centre. We went there for dinner before heading to the show.

There we were with our boys who had just become teenagers about to go to their first big rock concert. Wow.

There is something very cool about that photo and what the boys are wearing.
T is wearing my t-shirt that I bought at the Triumph - Allied Forces 1981 tour show.
B is wearing my RUSH - Moving Pictures 1981 tour t-shirt.
I bought those 30 years ago.

I have seen RUSH in concert more times than I can remember but I think I can honestly say that this show was the best I have ever seen them play.

They played for more than 3 hours with a short intermission in the middle.

An interesting note is that to commemorate the 30th anniversary of "Moving Pictures" album, RUSH played the album in its entirety in the second half of the show.
How's THAT for a coincidence?

For their last song they played "Working Man" from their first album.
We watched in amazement as Neil crashed away, Geddy slapped the bass like a maniac and Alex played his guitar so fast we couldn't keep up with his fingers.
After already playing for more than 3 hours they looked like they were ready to go for 3 more!

We all loved it. The boys had their best birthday trip ever and I got to see RUSH in concert again.

By the way, guess what RUSH has named their current tour?

The Time Machine Tour.

What a cool coincidence. :)

Stay well,