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Heaven Is A Better Place Today

I woke up this morning and after my shower instead of heading downstairs to find some underwear I went straight to my closet and put on my Hip shirt. I know that doesn’t sound like anything odd but I ALWAYS do shirt last, after a teeth brush and layer of deodorant so that I don’t get anything on the shirt. As I was looking through my shirts I also brushed past the shirt I had made for the last concert that reads “Here’s a glue guy, performance God…” and it was just enough to put it in my head. I walked back downstairs to brush singing “heaven is a better place today”.

I was in the movement room at work, alone, when my phone started blowing up. “Gord died…” was the first thing I read from Al and it hit me like a tonne of bricks. I just had trouble pulling it together. Then as other people started texting me it was just too much emotion. It was definitely a tough day working with kids. One woman I work with also loves the Hip and when I first met her we were both wearing Hip gear. I was the one who told her when she got in this morning and her eye’s just welled up and she went straight to the phone to call her husband. The impact of it all was just so HARD, HUGE, and HAUNTING.

I tried hard to compose myself throughout the day but it was hard. One text I received said:

“sad day – I was thinking of you this morning. Great memories – thank you for bringing the Hip into my life!”

Back to square one. I just kept telling myself that Tom Petty died just a few days ago and I don’t remember any grown men walking around the office all welled up. Pull it together man, I kept telling myself. Then I read the obituary on Maclean’s – that was a mistake.

What I realized was that it wasn’t just about the passing of an amazing man. A man I feel some kind of personal connection to that I have never met. I realized it’s about all of you. All of the people who share this music with me and the memories that pop into my head when I hear it. The concerts, the road trips, the parties, the clubs, the camping, the hockey, the socials, the weddings, the friendships…all of it.

It’s the knowledge that today is the day the music died. Literally. What I can only explain as the soundtrack to my life now has a beginning and an end. I know that the music lives on but it makes me sad to think about the flame that brought so much happiness to my life has gone dark. Knowing that I will never again sit in an arena and see Gord live weakens my will a little. I can clearly remember them all and never wanting that feeling to end. Even just sitting in my car alone and cranking it up – it could never get loud enough, no number on a dial could ever explain it.

So that’s what I did on my way to pick up the kids after school. Got lost in it.

When Shan got home we asked GOOGLE to play some HIP and opened up a bottle of wine I never thought there would be an occasion for. We drank for Gord – and then Al came over and we all drank for Gord, just as we have so many times before.

RIP Gord Downie – Thank you for everything.

Thunder Bay 2017

With summer winding down and Shan already getting back into school mode I thought I would take a little trip to Thunder Bay with the girls. Not only would I get some Ratte time (that was missing this summer on the camping front) but I would also get some quality time with the girls that I am going to miss so much once school starts back up.

The Ratte’s were in Winnipeg for a couple days before so we just basically followed them back to Tbay. Paul drove with me and the girls so it was nice to have 8 hours to just hang out and catch up. The girls are incredible in the car now. Usually Ashlyn can be needy but we had a little talk about how it would be harder for me to sort her out when I am trying to drive safely and she was awesome the whole way there and back. In about Dryden I gave them these LOL Dolls that I had bought a couple days before we left as a surprise. They are a chore to open up so it took them some time to sort them out and once they were all open they played in the car with them all the rest of the way.

We had an awesome visit with the Rattes. The highlight for the girls was just playing outside with the kids every chance they got. Paul has a really nicely paved driveway where they just spent hours on scooters, shooting hoops, and practicing on the wheelchair Paul had in the garage. We also took in a boat ride, a movie, the Persian Man, the park and a place called “Boulder Bear” where the kids climbed for almost 3 hours.

Paul and I got out to play hockey a couple times while I was there. It’s another world in Thunder Bay. It’s a Thursday night skate at 9pm and most of the guys are older than me. Hard guys, that do the heavy lifting at the mill all week and on Thursday nights after hockey they go to this bar called the “Wayland” to drink beers and eat pizza. We got home around 1am and although I was dreading my 8 hour drive on Friday morning I am sure it beats getting up to go to the mill. I am pudding compared to these guys and it was an honor to get to play with them even for just one night.

On the way home we made lot’s of stops but most memorable was Kakabeka Falls and our stop for lunch in Blue Lake.

   Thunder Bay 2017 Album

Back Step

It seems each summer Shan and I decide that we need to get at least ONE house project done on our summer budget. This year it was the back step and slanting sidewalk.

Destruction of the existing back step was our first concern. I took a few whacks with a sledge and broke the hammer so Shan said I should go and rent a jackhammer. I was still determined at this point to get this done frugally so I borrowed a hammer from a neighbor and channeled all that doubt into rage and this was the result.

Even Penny looks impressed.

Post project we always go back and forth about how to attack these things. Not being “very handy” there are some things out of my comfort zone and in this case it was drilling into the foundation. I wanted to put a header on the house to attach the frame so Shan’s dad offered to help with that. I also talked to my other neighbour who suggested I bring the step out another block so that you don’t have to step off the step to open the door like you had to before. Brilliant if you ask me. So we increased the size of our header to accommodate that and JD guided me with where to put the lag bolts and how the frame would come together and attach. Big thanks JD for all the help with that.

Notice those big holes in the frame so that it can be flush with the house and the lag bolts can come through? Well drilling those is not fun unless you have a really good drill. I found that out the hard way! Shan helped me put together the frame and I think we did a super good job. Once that was done I attached it to the house and built the legs to level it out and keep it steady. We ordered a yard of 1/4 down to fill the frame and planned on using the rest for the sidewalk. Shan thought a yard was too much but it turns out it’s not.

What $100 looks like on your driveway.

Honestly at this point in the day I was done after hauling in all the 1/4 down. I figured I could finish the rest tomorrow and that is when Nolan appeared out of nowhere! He came equipped with work gloves and shovel in hand. With his help we were able to lift and level the remaining sidewalk that was slanting toward the house. That was our initial job for the summer before it grew into a new back step. Nolan really pushed me to get it done that day and in the end there is no way I could have done that without him. Also, the next time I need that done I will hire someone. I think it turned out awesome but someone who knows how to do it properly could get it done with a lot less swearing. It also didn’t help that the kids were water bombing us while we were working but it made it fun! HUGE thanks to Nolan for being the kind of friend who just shows up at your house when you are doing this kind of thing.

Here is the end result…

Still need to move the hose over.

Kinda makes me want to do a front step next year!

Otter Falls 2017

Heck Otter Falls will always have a special place in my heart. More so after this week with the “Bickerson’s”.

I have done a lot of “laking” with JD over the years. Some camping, but mostly “laking”. Some of my fondest summers were spent on a boat with that man and so I was looking forward to this one as soon as Shan booked the sites. Shan was too, imagine a week of picture perfect camping with your two brothers, their families, and grandpa all together in one place. It was just that…perfect.

Tim, Les, Syd, and Riley all arrived in Winnipeg a couple days early (from CGY) so it was nice to get a visit in before we left. Lexi and Ashlyn were so pumped to have them here that it took a couple days for it to sink in that we were all going camping together. For Shan and I it was bonus time with Tim and Les who we don’t see nearly enough since Tim cut the apron strings.

For camping Shan booked sites as close together as possible so we could all be close together. We also needed something big enough to fit Tim’s rented house on wheels. A massive motor home that he managed to park in one move! Props for that. Shan even had shirts made!

It was an awesome family weekend. The kids all played, chased frogs, swam in the lake and ate giant marshmallows from JD. We made friends with our neighbour who even took them out tubing (thanks Clint, talk about memories). The adults swam too and drank a little, and played frizknock, and ate Jos’ Louis and little fancy sandwiches. Mike and Tara took us to Rainbow falls for a day and we all just hung out at the falls. It was the best.

Definitely a weekend our family will not soon forget. Big thanks to all who helped make this one happen.

Peeves July 30

Sometimes I am grumpy, you should be too.

Wire Brushes

I have been seeing all these posts on my important Facebook feed about people being rushed to the hospital with pieces of wire lodged in their esophagus. Turns out cleaning your BBQ with those wire brushes is now unsafe. It only took 40 years of my life and access to social media for me to find this out. I blame the dollar store. I think people are buying these $3 ones at the Dollar Store and they are falling apart just enough to make your hot dog lethal. Buy a good one if you need to use this useless tool. Crumpled up tinfoil does the same thing and people with all kinds of time on their hands have yet to let us know the foils of foil.

Pistachios

The cost of pistachios is outrageous. I know they come from Central Asia but how many times do we need to pay for shipping on these things? Are we paying to have these picked by the bag. I decided to treat myself for my birthday so I ordered some online because things are usually cheaper on Amazon. Fingers crossed I get them in time!

I didn’t really order these because I like being married.

Ashton Kutcher

Has no business on Shark Tank. That’s like Kevin O’Leary sitting around the circle in Forman’s basement telling jokes. It just doesn’t make sense. Just because you have lot’s of money to invest doesn’t mean you’re a shark. I am sure to his credit he is very business savvy but he is a flounder among sharks. Let’s be real, Kelso – stay in your lane.

Cigarettes Out Car Windows

I get that nobody wants a stinky cigarette butt in their car but if it doesn’t stop you from smoking in there then deal with it. When I see someone flick a lit cigarette from a moving car I think low class. When it’s the car in front of me and it hits my car I feel like catching up to that vehicle, getting in, and cutting my toenails in the passenger seat.

Peeves July 18

Sometimes I am grumpy, you should be too.

Restaurant Nachos

If you are going to charge for restaurant nachos they best be better than the ones I can make at home. I am talking to you Cabin Jack’s in Kenora. I come to you because my fridge is not usually stocked with all those exotic ingredients like Jalapenos. You give me 8 grams of shredded cheese and a diced tomato? How dare you!

Investors Group Field

Maybe it’s just my luck but good grief…the last two events I have attended there have been really poorly thought out. Most recently I went to see the women’s soccer team play. Security was tight enough that I had to pour my water bottle out. I was told I could refill inside where I found a huge line up to fill up on water seeing it was Africa hot outside. After about 15 mins in the water line I can see that the bottle filler is broken so it is taking forever for people to fill up. You would think if they are making people pour out water someone might have been on the bottle filler fixing? Then in the second half I decide to go for some of those mini donuts I have been smelling in my section for the entire game and the lineup is 30 mins long. I opt to go for popcorn instead and after a short wait in line I am told they are out of popcorn! Huh. Same thing happened at the Heritage Classic. They ran out of merchandise and pizza! Not to mention the 2 hour “sun delay?”. Terrible event planning.

Water Socks

There is just no way to look cool in water socks. And can someone make some that eventually dry? I put on water socks from last summer and they are still wet and sandy. What’s up with that?

ROGERS

I ended up getting a new phone because my G4 could hardly snap a picture anymore. My deal with Shannon was that the phone had to be $0 dollars and no penalty for money still owing on my current phone. I went to T-Booth in the mall and they set me up with a Pixel for $0 dollars and offered me a $100 pre-paid Mastercard to put towards what I owed on my current phone. Win win right? Wrong. Nobody at ROGERS knows how to make a payment with that pre-paid credit card! I was on the phone with Monique for an hour before she told my I would have to go to my local ROGERS store and make the payment there. Only here’s the thing…THEY DON’T KNOW HOW TO DO IT EITHER! It’s 2017 ROGERS figure this out.

Loud Honda Civic’s

That doesn’t sound like racing exhaust fool, that sounds like a cry for help. I hate when one of these little cars revs up past me and I have to stop my conversation to look at this crappy little car that someone dumped a bunch of money into so that it sounds like a Harley Davidson. You want people to look at you, buy a Harley Davidson! Stop, just stop.

Yes see? See? Still a Civic.

Connect Four

I hate it when your kid says they can beat you at Connect Four and then they do just that.

Of Mice And Men

Last year Shan and I got away to Sioux Narrows for our Anniversary. While we were there we scoped out some amazing campsites and booked them immediately for this year once they were available. They are both non electrical sites but also both on the lake and one has a little island and private beach with fire pit. We booked five days almost just to see if we could do it.

We arrived on the Monday and had a great day setting up and settling in. We got into the lake and waited for the Morrison’s to arrive. We were also supposed to meet the Ratte’s out there but they just couldn’t make it. We had a nice dinner followed by a sweet fire on the island. Despite the mosquitoes who did everything they could to shut is down. Al and I shut it down around midnight.

Monday night, Tuesday, and Tuesday night it rained like I have never seen before. It kind of hung around Wednesday during the day so we spent some time in town and then drove to Kenora to hang out and have dinner. We ate at Cabin Jack’s and oh by the way they are out of fish and you can make a better nachos at home. Fries and poutine were awesome according to Lexi and Shan said the Quazzi-dilla was a good one.

It was Thursday when Shan noticed we had house guests…or should I say mouse guests. They had chewed through some plastic bags and left a few presents in one of the drawers. Al and I picked up a couple traps in town that afternoon and we set them up to see what we were dealing with and as soon as they were set we had our first kill. Shan and Larissa went to get more traps and somehow I managed to set them up wrong. Seems the little buggers cleaned peanut butter off two traps without them going off. Sadly we didn’t figure this out until I returned from the fire at about 1am. The kids were right freaked out (and I don’t blame them) so they were asleep on the couch beside our bed. I reset the traps and we went to bed listening to the mice munch on our latest investment and it didn’t take long for the first SNAP.

I kept getting out of bed and emptying traps trying hard not to wake up the kids. At about 3am I set our last 3 and went back to bed helpless at this point. We heard the first 2 go off and didn’t budge but about 430am the last one SNAPPED and I could hear it being dragged around under the dining bench where the hot water tank sits. Shan shone the flashlight in there and I could see it looking up at me. He was caught by the tail and was having trouble getting out of there. I couldn’t reach him so Shan went to get me some tongs and while she was away I watched him drag himself and the trap behind the cupboards. That is when we called it and started packing up. We were out of there and on the road by 6am.

We figure the crazy rain we had drove them out of their nests looking for warmth and high dry ground. No idea where they were getting in though. when we got home my dad was here so I asked him to reach in and pull out the moving trap! Thing was still alive too! Dad took care of that one and then we set the traps and caught one more soon after. Nothing overnight and we spent 2 days taking the camper apart and cleaning everything. We did some steel wool and spray foam too so I hope that helps when parked. We will see at Otter Falls this coming weekend!

All in all a great week with great friends. The girls had a blast swimming, catching “crawfish”, just hanging out by the fire.

   Sioux Narrows 2017 Album

St. Malo Short Trip

Once again I am finding it hard to write. We move so fast in the summer it seems to fly by and I find myself in the last week of holidays before I know it.

We bought a camper this year so we didn’t wait long to test it out. We bought a 2009 Surveyor Hybrid off a really nice couple on Kijiji. It was the nicest one we had seen in our price range and the first time in the history of buying anything that Shannon didn’t try to haggle (that’s how I knew it was a good deal). It took a lot of figuring out and few car mods to make it all work but we are all set now. If you ever need anything hitch or tow related don’t waste you time with anyone other than Mitch’s Welding. They set me up with a brake controller that GNR would have butchered. When I couldn’t get my shank to work with the height of my trailer GNR wanted to add a lift kit to my camper for $1000 and told me that the right shank for my vehicle didn’t exist. I went to Mitch’s and was in and out in 10 mins with a new shank. They even put it together and adjusted for the height of my trailer. They are awesome there.

We started with a close trip to St. Malo just to get the feel for it. I have never towed anything like that before so I wanted to get the feel of it on a short trip knowing that our big one to Sioux Narrows was coming up. There were a few things to learn but for the most part it was smooth. A lot less set up for the hybrid but more crap to take care of like filling up with water and of course the dreaded dump before you leave. I put some strict bathroom rules in place to make sure it was a little more smooth.

As always St. Malo did not disappoint. The beaches were a little murky for the kids liking but we found the east beach a little more clear. We found the best place to play in the water was at the river on the south side of the park where people drop in their tubes. I was there with the dog the night before so on our last day we all went in the morning to play and explore. It was so nice that we decided we would likely just spend our last day down there. That was until we were walking back and Shan noticed Penny fussing over her leg. At first we thought the pests were getting to her and then we noticed the BLOOD. Lots of it running down her leg. I got her to the vet quick in St. Pierre Joly and in less than an hour they had her all stitched up. It looks as though she was impaled on a stick or something but it’s hard to know. The worst part for her is the cone she has to wear for the next 12 days. The worst for us was leaving her behind as we took off for 5 days in Sioux Narrows.

   St. Malo 2017 Album

Honker Boards

This morning I went to Steinbach to pick up a bike rack that Shan had found on Kijiji. We figure it will go nice with the new camper and bring our camping game up a couple notches.

Honker BoardsI end up at this beauty house just on the outskirts of town and end up meeting this really cool guy and his family out working in the garage. They invite me in for a little look at what they are working on and I am blown away. They make long boards under the name “Honker Boards” and the craftsmanship and branding is incredible. Just looking at the few he has in the garage immediately makes me think I am cool enough to handle one of these things. Tenfold if they are being crafted locally in Steinbach by a guy in his garage, it really doesn’t get any better!

We talked for a bit about some of the ones he is currently working on and possibilities are endless. Custom trucks, colors, wood grain, etc. Anything you would like on it basically. If you think this is something you would be interested in let me know and I will put you in touch. When I get mine we can surf some pavement like it’s 1999.