bin here, bin filled, bin gone


A major item on the to do list got done last week. The cottage was built in 1969/70 here on Georgian Bay. A few years later a one car garage kit was put up as a boathouse/storage building. Since the late 1980s, the water level receded and the 14 foot aluminum boat has sat in the boat house along with its cradle and boat track rails waiting for the Bay to come back. It hasn’t. During the 1990s, my father and mother passed away after some illnesses and the boathouse continued to accumulate materials of various kinds.

Also around the property, bits and pieces of decks and stairs and even some original yellow plywood window flaps had been tucked away in various corners. Dock sections and shore line defense (wire baskets known as gabeons). The guiding principle was “keep it for it might be useful down the road”.

Well, practically none of it has turned out to be useful. So after much discussion and some procrastination, a bin was ordered. What size do you order? Hard to say. But a 20 yarder was dropped off bright and early one Wednesday morning. It was scheduled for a week’s stay.

30 years = 1.65 metric tonnes

Now, I have a history of blowing out my back. It goes back to my 18th year when a boulder needed shifting on the property here and no bulldozer was available, so I volunteered and damaged my lower transverse ligaments. Since then periodically, my back goes “out”. Having developed a good sized gut over the years has not helped. So I decided to take it slow and easy.

The first day I worked for about 45 minutes loading stuff carefully along one side of the bin. I wanted to leave room for some sizable wooden dock sections. To move these I had asked for some help. Two fellows were going to come by on the Friday. I did another 45 minute session of loading and called it a day.

That night it snowed and kept on snowing to the tune of 6 inches. I spent time on Thursday pulling pieces of this and that out of the corners of the boathouse. Friday I just stared at the snow trying to will it to melt. The fellows did not come on Friday. On Saturday more work pulling things out and getting them stacked up to load. Sunday the snow finally melted away. Monday morning I did a little more work loading and then sat down to wait and see if the two fellows were going to come as planned at 9:30 am. If they showed up, then the dock would go in. If they did not, the space I had preserved in the bin for the dock would go to other items and the dock would have to go next year.

They showed, well, one guy showed, not good news. It meant that I would have to help move five dock sections planked tops over a 2 inch x12inch frame structure 5 feet x8 feet long. Heavy, heavy, heavy, heavy, and slightly less heavy (one section was a little smaller than the rest).

My back began to ache as we sized them up. However, after a little fussing and thinking, we ended up tipping them up on their ends and flipping them over and over on their ends to the bin, a distance of about 80 feet. My back survived. Three old sets of wooden deck steps got sledge hammered into pieces and the morning’s work was done. Thanks to Jamie the dock sections made it into the bin. I did about 25% of the hefting on those, he did the rest.

30 years worth getting picked up

Tuesday some more odds and ends: old glass windows, two old lead pane windows from the old 1939 built North Toronto house (why they got brought up I will never know), old lawn mower, old curtain tracks, bits of metal, my mother’s old wheelchair (should have donated that back in 1996 the year of her death), old fibre board, pieces of 1970 panelling quarter inch plywood, old shingles (been sitting for 20 years outside), and old this and old that and I was done. Totally beat.

Called Wednesday morning and they picked it up around noon.

30 years of stuff rolling away

1.65 metric tonnes = 3638.25 pounds
that is a lot of stuff – 30 years worth

strange men with leaf blowers….


My surprise of the year was yesterday when I heard a symphony of leafblowers, not just my next door neighbour. I peered out and saw a crew attacking the million or so leaves on my lawns. This was a pleasant surprise.

A call about ten days earlier to the man who does some garden service stuff for us occasionally unearthed the news that his small business was 15 properties behind. There has been an unusually large number of rainy days this October. He was sorry to say that he didn’t think he was going to be able to help us out. It would depend on the weather and he could not guarantee that he would get to us. The forecast for the next week was rain or light showers on every day. He could only try and see what happened.

Watching the weather, we had resigned ourselves to letting most of the leaves sit until Spring, which is not the best option but is one we have had to make do with several times over the past 10 years.

Luckily the weather forecasters were wrong and the 15 properties dried out a bit and he and his crew caught up. And so with a couple of hours of roaring, the million leaves have gone. Poplar, maple, and oak. I look forward to watching the trees replenish in the Spring.

annual big garbage item day – saying goodbye to the old green couch


yesterday was the once a year big garbage day in my township. We are allowed to put out metal items and other large items for garbage pick up on this one day in the year. The township says the limit is five items. Used to be a monthly pick up of large items but that was changed last year.

Last year I was ill and having a lot of difficulty walking and lifting or dragging large items to the road for pick up was an impossibility. This year I managed.

The run on extension to an old metal desk was the first sacrifice. I used a banged up old cart to haul that the 140 feet to the road. Next was an old metal fireplace log grate. Then the old barbeque that had not been used for ten years. Red meat went the way of the dodo in the household and I am just not much of a summer party host. Then an old typing table with two prop up side arms went next. I had bought that for about $20 at an antique mart, but it didn’t really go and I am trying to simplify things, trying to move from near clutter to Shaker simplicity and order. I have a long way to go on that journey.

Then the biggie. The couch was a regular four seater, bought I believe way back in the late 1960s. It started out as a Danish Modern teak unit made like a tank, with green cushions. It was reupholstered and reinvented as a skirted, rose abstracted patterned, pale green couch. It made the move north from the city house sometime after 1992 to here, the cottage converted into a year round residence for my late parents.

It was an excellent couch and survived as a cat scratching post for four cats. My late dog, Diamond, used to love to curl up on it and snooze. It was long enough for me to sit at one end and Diamond and her brother to curl up on the remaining space.

I also have a particularly fond memory of some exceptionally fine afternoon dalliance that was ably assisted by the couch. The lady long gone. The memory still brings a smile.

I also remember an argument with my mother about this couch and its placement in the large main room. She was confined to a wheelchair and complained about the placement of it in my master scheme. I am six feet two inches tall. It looked fine to me, until I sat in a dining room table chair and looked at it from her seated height or as near to it as I could sit and slouch. Suddenly, the couch was no longer a couch but long pale green wall, a huge visual and physical obstacle in the room. We came up with a different place for it.

So yesterday with a little luck and thinking I was able to drag it and twist it to get it through two doorways and out to the side deck, by myself. Then turned it and tilted it down the steps and down to the lawn and then the long drag on its back. 100 feet to the road. My arms and shoulders and my legs complained a lot and I was very stiff for the rest of the day, but today I am mostly recovered. No wrestling my weight in wildcats until later in the week.

An odd marker signifying the passage of time. Funny how these inanimate objects we choose to live with become so very personal.

vandals hit cemetery


got a group alert message from the local neighbourhood watch earlier this week….vandalism in the village cemetery….

My father is buried in the Catholic cemetery in the village. So I drove over and walked up the hill to check on his gravestone. No vandalism. I didn’t see any on any other markers. Turns out it was the other cemetery in the village, Union Cemetery.

He died in January of 1992. I think of him often, and of course, today.

the great file hunt – this year’s time


Once again I affirmed my basic human frailty and inability to reform and become an organized adult person. (Setting down the self-flagellation device), I don't want to hurt my elbow.

There is something that I choose to renew annually and each year at that time I have to find the paper file that has the pertinent secret, classified, well, not really, information in it. Some months back I began weeding files and sorting files and filing files because I had arranged several piles of files and I own one two drawer, fairly long drawers, filing cabinet. Of course, I only got about half way through this pulse-poundingly exciting project before I went on to something even more mundane, like mowing the lawn. 

I have about three weeks before the renewal deadline passes. So tonight I started by going to the file cabinet. I looked inside and found the hanging file greenie thingie with a label for the file that I wanted, but no file inside. In a Twilight Zone moment of little originality, the empty hanging folder thingie laughed at me. (Large sigh). I began the rest of my hunt. After 26 minutes I found the file. This was marginally better than last year.

a wish list


  1. I wish there were fewer mosquitoes, although I understand that birds eat them, I just wish they would eat faster.
  2. I wish I had not got fertilizer put on the lawns, since they are growing at a ferocious rate and fitting mowings between rain falls is getting trickier.
  3. I would like to have coffee with Marisa Miller once a month until I die.
  4. I wish that I could travel to Paris with the love of my life. (that would be France, not Ontario).
  5. I wish that I could find the true love of my life; some reasonable facsimiles did not turn out to be quite the real thing, mostly my fault.
  6. I wish that there was better insurance for hopeless romantics.
  7. I wish I could find a way to miss my dog, Diamond, without the feeling of total devastation, (she died suddenly on March 2, 2006).
  8. I wish my friends were not quite so busy and a little bit more communicative and all knew how to tap dance, we could put on a show.
  9. I wish that Deadwood was not getting zapped early by HBO. Shakespeare in a mining camp.
  10. I wish that I could sleep like a normal mammal.

American Politics – a crash course (CARO on LBJ)


I'm about halfway through re-reading Vol. 3 of Robert Caro's biography of Lyndon Baines Johnson. If you ever wanted to learn about politics, read this 3 volume biography. Along with the incredibly fascinating view of LBJ and his pursuit of power, you will get gems like the mini-bio of Senator Richard Russell of Georgia, the most powerful member of the US Senate, who controlled the Southern Caucus and helped stave off progressive legislation for years.

    Caro paints the full portrait. In the case of Russell, he describes Russell's valuable and fair handling of the committee investigation into the relief of General MacArthur by President Truman. This is one moment in the 20th Century, when the US might, and a lot of people who were in Washington then believe that it was very possible, have lost its democracy to a military officer taking power. Russell helped cool off the fires of indignation and allowed the complexities of global strategy and the need for civilian control of the military to be clearly presented to the American public. And MacArthur faded away. 

    Other things Russell did will make you shake your head ifnot boil your blood.  The same whole picture is shown for Johnson.  A more multi-faceted collection of inconsistencies you will never encounter.  But in this volume, The Master of the Senate, Caro shows how Johnson and only Johnson could have turned the Southern Caucus slowly and carefully around to the point where civil rights legislation was passed. A man with ugly characteristics, incredibly hungry for power, and he did much good.  On the flip side, you will read how he carefully moved to destroy Leland Olds, an American public servant you probably don't know but should. Johnson's tactics were clever and effective: manipulation of Olds's supporters and the press.

     As I read this I wonder who in the Senate is working in this way today.

morning on Georgian Bay


I am looking out my front window at 5:40 a.m. and the sun has just risen over the horizon, over the trees on the island to the east here on Georgian Bay. There is a sky with cloud bands so the dawn sky is a swirling mix of gold and pink and all the shades in between. The waters of the bay have a purplish tinge and there is a slight chop to the surface, the normal current is running from the northwest point. The waters closer to my side of the bay are lightest in colour at this moment. The middle of the bay darker and a narrow sliver of water on the far side is reflecting the sun as it climbs. I can hear the traffic in the distance, Highway 400. Many birds are singing. A robin is the closest to my window. The bright fire of the sun is gouging a tear in the cool waters of the bay. A gull wheels and soars along the shore line. The forecast for the rest of this beautiful day calls for showers in the afternoon. Two ducks just flew into my view and splashed down near to shore. Now the cat has joined me and is asking for his breakfast early since I am up.

10 things I think about life


1. I think life is a gift.
2. I think Life used to be a great magazine.
3. I think life is not a rehearsal, but I don’t seem to be getting my script pages early enough in advance.
4. I think life is God’s way of saying that beauty costs.
5. I think that my dog is in Heaven and there is an infinite number of sticks ready and waiting for when I join her.
6. I think that I would change a ton of things if I had a chance to relive my life, depending on the tax implications.
7. I think that thinking is over-rated and living on reflex is a way that I will never understand or practice.
8. I think that life is comedy with some sad bits thrown in when you least expect them.
9. I think life is never quite as long nor as good as we think it should be.
10. I think life is a very long walk in paradise.

midnight rambling


"Nothing changes if I don’t change."
I must remember to write that down.

"Consistency may be a criminal act."
I think I'll just hope to memorize that one.

Balancing self-inflicted contradiction
on the end of my nose
is my new party trick.
The lamp shade kept falling off
don't you know.
The world rolls on and
there ain't nothing I can do about that.

I own me, every second, every scrap. I give away the belly button lint.
St. Peter has his shopping list/book of demerits.
Glad he has a job.

Every day is a ride on the carousel.
It all comes around again.

Remember the joy,
let the chemicals in your skull
soak out
that bright warm bath once again.

Then pour it out of your fingers and your toes.