Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Exploiting the Children

The headlines are telling us that a sweatshop using child labour in India has been raided and shut down. It turns out hat this sweatshop was a subcontractor for The Gap. The store has pulled from its shelves all merchandise emanating from this factory. But is that enough?

It's a dicey thing: child labour in particular and sweatshop conditions in general in the third world. All sorts of companies obtain goods from Asian suppliers. While most of these companies are not directly responsible for what goes on with their subcontractors, they could, no doubt, do a much better job at monitoring and preventing such occurrences. The Gap could even make sure that these particular children be recompensed before being sent home. According to the news releases, they haven't been as yet.

Let's fact it, children in less developed countries do work, and that's not going to change overnight. It's the kind of work that they do, the conditions that they work in, and the very meager compensation, if any, that present the problem. That and the fact they won't be in school while they are working long, tiring hours. Children also need time to play. It's a right or should be.

Atrocous working conditions seem to be part of the development phase. European workers also had it pretty tough during the industrial revolution. My own grandfather was forced to leave home at a very early age to make his way in the world. But we know better now and must make an effort to make the world a better place. Even if life must be harder and more demanding for children in developing countries, they still need some time to be kids. While families may require some work from them, they also need time to play and learn, and western companies such as The Gap need to take some responsibility for making that happen.

The Mill of Kintail

Sunday: it looked like a nice day from inside the house, so I proposed to Cuppa that we drive up to the Mill of Kintail for a bit of a walk early in the afternoon. She was quite enthusiastic about the notion and even packed a picnic lunch. Which we had to eat in the car because, despite looking nice from inside, it was rather windy and cold out — too cold to contemplate eating sandwiches outside. But then we headed into the woods for our little walk and were pleased to find that it was calm and, therefore, relatively warm in the shelter of the trees.

We've been to The Mill a number or times and posted a number of pictures, but every day is just a bit different, and so here are some more. I took the two pictures of Cuppa standing on the bridge. That's the old house in the background of the first; the actual mill is long gone.

From the bridge, Cuppa took the next two photos of me. I really like the one through the slats.

Cuppa took this from along the path.

On the way out, I took the next and final photo of the chapel where some outdoor summer weddings occur.

It was a good thing to have done. It's nice to have a spot like this within reasonable distance.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Just Before it Snowed ...

... I took this picture.

It's the corner by the park, the one that we often pass by when going to and from the kids' house. It was a partially sunny day, so we had been out walking and driving before visiting the kids and the bonny wee Smudge. When we went by this site, the sun was shining, but I drove past regardless. Then, I thought better of it and doubled back to snap the picture: might as well while where is still a bit of colour here and there. Many more leaves have fallen than remain, but these trees still looked splendiferous — to me anyway.

Ironically, some drops hit the windshield moments later. "Cuppa, could that be snow that I see falling?" She replied that it couldn't possibly be, but, alas and alack, it was. Not much; we almost had to squint to discern it, but that's what it was. It was just two evenings ago, when we went on a short evening walk crawl, that I remarked to the old girl: "For the first time, I think I feel the hint of winter in the air." And she agreed.

So, shortly after making that remark and immediately after taking what might possibly be my last autumn photo, it snowed. Not to worry: it's still autumn, and it may not snow again for another month or more, but ...

Sunday, October 28, 2007

1036 ...

... that's the number of pages that we have left.

Tonight, I began to read Lord of the Rings to Cuppa. We have done this at least twice before and perhaps as many as four times. I can be sure of two times because I have twice blogged about it. Oddly enough I mentioned it on December 29 of both 2005 and 2006. In 2005 we had just finished the book, but last year's account had us finishing it several months prior. In the 2005 post I mentioned that had begun in June. So, it seems that this should keep us going for six or seven months. Winter will be done; spring will be here — summer, if we're slower this time.

I wonder how it will turn out this time?

Saturday, October 27, 2007

A Halloween Template

Don't get too alarmed; it's temporary.


It's very easy to sound ancient: just tell someone the cost of something from before they were born or were at least very young. The teller has a different viewpoint, however, because as hoary as we might become, anything that has happened within our own lifespans, tends to seem at least somewhat current — certainly not prehistoric anyway.

I don't know how many times I heard my dad reminisce about getting a made-to-measure suit for ten dollars from Tip Top Tailors. To me, that was tantamount to dating himself as antediluvian. Although I now have a better temporal frame of reference and I get more or less get it with regards to the fleetingness of it all, when I recall that statement of his, he still tends to seem almost primordial to me. In point of fact, however, there was only a thirty year gap between our two arrivals on planet Earth.

So kiddies: it's my turn to don the cloak of ancient venerability by passing this tidbit on to you. Today, I just signed a contract to install a new furnace. Without revealing the actual dollar amount (because it makes me break down into heart-wrenchingly anguished sobs), let me say that the price tag of this new contraption which will spend its life in our basement is twice that of our first new car. It makes me shake my agin' noggin, I tell ya.

So ... if you like to collect things archaic, don't hesitate to email me. I can send you my address, and you can come and attempt to chip this old fossil out of the surrounding bedrock.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Not a Gaggle

Darkness comes early now, so by six o'clock last night it had set in, which is why it was plenty dark when we went walking about an hour later. And that's why we didn't see them much. But we heard them honking and squawking as wave after wave, or gaggle after gaggle, passed almost overhead but not quite near enough to see in the early darkness. Judging by the sound and fury, some of the gaggles were quite large. Others were small, but they all called incessantly to one another.

Perhaps most of the noise is to tell other gaggles, the stragglers as it were, in which direction to fly. Perhaps the stragglers squawk to say, "Hey, hold up, we're on our way."

This went on constantly for about ten minutes as gaggle after gaggle honked its way across the dark sky. Then, about fifteen minutes later a final and small gaggle flew by. Wherever they had been, they must have found some pretty fine pickings to make them so tardy.

Chalk one up for town life (see previous post). With gazillions of green acres all around, the geese have many places to fly to and from ... and to again. I wonder what causes them to relocate with such zeal from one field to another in the dark, though.

PS: Well, excuse me. At the conclusion of the above I decided to double-check "gaggle" with Guess what. When geese are in flight they're not a gaggle but a skein. They're only a gaggle when on the ground. Who knew: aside from that renown college English teacher, KGMom?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Getting Around

We live in a town of about 10 000 good folks. We can get to any other part of town within ten minutes. Nevertheless, we're sure using a lot of fossil fuel these days because I seem to be doing a lot of driving.

You see, a town of our size doesn't have all of the amenities that one requires all of the time. To wit: our vehicle is a Honda, but there is no Honda dealer in this town. In fact, the nearest is a half hour away in another town. That's where I went yesterday because we needed some things checked that I thought could be best done by a Honda place. When I got back we had enough time to run up to yet another small town to check out some merchandise that isn't done terribly well in our settlement. And so it goes.

We're not always madly moving about like this, but we seem to be doing rather a lot of it lately, much more than we ever did back in our previous small city of 75 000. Sarnia had just about everything close to hand. Well, not quite I guess. They didn't have the local culture that I like so much around here: no maple syrup days, no celidhs, no celtfests, no art gallery, no concert hall (the latter two being in the nearby city).

While I don't enjoy the fuel concomitant fuel costs and appreciate he environmental cost even less, I am willing to pay the price up to a point. I rationalize by considering that many people in big cities spend a lot of time commuting too: not just some days but most days. It's the way things are for many North Americans.

And I sometimes see interesting things on my little journeys. Yesterday's highlight was a beaver who stopped highway traffic for a minute or two. He sat up and stared us down before ambling off to the far side of the road. That's a sight that I've never seen before and will probably never see again. He still seemed wet from his last swim too.

Later, I passed a memorial by the side of the road. It consisted of plastic flowers. I guess I don't mind that it is meaningful for someone to commemorate a loved one who was lost in an accident. Whatever it takes, I suppose. It's just that the departed isn't there in that spot any more, and I find it difficult to understand the need to continue to mark it — with plastic flowers, even.

So, you see, I sometimes see interesting things in our travels. Sometimes I see ordinary things that cause me to reflect. Not too much though: don 't want to hurt me 'ead.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

My Non-Encounters with The Rocket

It's beyond me to do anything resembling a full treatment of the man here and now, but this past weekend was a milestone of sorts for the famous Rocket, or Maurice "Rocket" Richard, or just "Rocket" Richard. He was the first hockey player to ever score 500 goals in his career, and last weekend was the anniversary of that event. That's him up there in the photo.

He was a prodigious goal scorer on the famous Montreal Canadiens, often dubbed as The Flying Frenchmen, of the fifties and earlier. There are not many athletes who become one nickname wonders. While many obtain nicknames, they are usually an adjunct, such as Wayne Gretzy also being known as The Great One, but when he was playing announcers would seldom have been know to say, "The Great One has the puck." They would call The Rocket just that, however; nothing additional had to be added and seldom was.

My memories of him are dim. I know that I saw him play on television, but I was young, and he was pretty well past his prime by the time I began to pay attention. However, I do recall two in-the-flesh sightings.

One Sunday afternoon, a small grocery store one street over in Montreal had a bit of a to do. Some Habs (a nickname for Les Canadiens) including himself were to be there, and they were to be giving away some hockey sticks. He was sitting on the back of a convertible, and I remember him getting a wee bit testy with some kids who wanted to snatch sticks before it was time to disperse them. But there was a big crowd, and it became obvious that little me wasn't about to get one of those sticks, so I didn't linger to watch the proceedings.

My second sighting was some years later after he retired and I was probably fourteen or fifteen years old. The Rocket happened to be at a bowling alley where I was enjoying a game with a friend. We were done and on the point of departing when I spotted The Rocket talking with a couple of kids in this near empty establishment. Well, I was English, and he was French, and I didn't know how welcome my intrusion would have been so I simply observed him briefly and continued my exit. Besides: the star culture and autograph collecting frenzy era was not quite upon us, and we tended not to accost strangers back then.

There you have it: my two non-encounters with perhaps the most famous and dynamic hockey player ever to lace up. He was a French Canadien and an iconic man for his people, but we Montreal Anglos were also in thrall with him and the team.

Monday, October 22, 2007

A Perspective

I forget who it was now, so I can't link, but I once read a blog by a nurse who worked with dying patients. He'd visit them in their homes; I guess the proper term is palliative care. In perhaps the only post of his that I can recall, he recounted how he advised a wonderful lady who was quickly coming to the end of her days on this sphere that it was time for her to thank her body for bearing her (my words) through the years.

That's has stuck with me: the notion of thanking your body when it is time. It seems good and fitting to me. But then I consider that I might begin to be thankful for it (or to it) long before I begin the last lap.

I don't think many of us do this, for our relationships with our bodies are not always terribly positive. At best we tend to take our housing for granted, but more often than not, we often hold negative feelings: wishing that we were taller, leaner, stronger, more durable, or some combination of the above.

But weak or strong, they are all that keep our spirits alive. For that I am grateful.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Like Me ...

... Autumn is beginning to fade.

(Photo taken last weekend.)

At 60, I guess I'm in my autumn too. Oh, it's early autumn still, and the leaves are just beginning to change, but I rather think that I have arrived at this season.

Hopefully, my winter will take it's sweet time getting here though because I rather like this season of life. There's beauty in it — for humans in metaphorical terms and for nature in ways that are visible in a Canadian October. No doubt part of our appreciation of the season stems from the realization winter looms. It's like the quote that Cuppa reminds me of: Death is the sugar that brings sweetness to life (or something close to that).

That appreciation may change for me someday as I continue to inch along life's timeline, but it seems to me that so far, each age has some advantages over the previous one. Although every stage has its wonders, I do think we become more and more comfortable with ourselves and more appreciative of our blessings in the autumn of our lives. And that's not a bad thing.

Meanwhile, I have perhaps another week to enjoy the fading autumn colours, so I'll try to make the best of it. Excuse me; I'm going for a drive.

Friday, October 19, 2007

The Wee Smudge ...

... came to visit on Wednesday. Mom had to go into the city, so we were forced into the hardship of becoming babysitters for the afternoon.

As the photos verify, the clever girl did the most amazing thing — put herself to sleep. I know that most babies do that sort of thing from time to time, but not this one. At a minimum this youngun requires ten minutes of rocking before she will deign to close her cute, bright, little eyes.

At the maximum she requires ... well, let's not go there.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

What I've Been Up To

Maybe it's just me, but, after posting for about three and a half years now, I seem to have little to say. Maybe it's just that we can only have so many prime interests at any one time. Lately, I've been fiddling around, so to speak, and I've also just finished my little web page course. I mentioned it once before; it's a refresher of the one that I first took about three years ago. That was another interest that got pushed to the side, perhaps in favour of photography and Photoshop, so I decided to re-take the course. Yes, there really are only so many balls that I can juggle at once.

I have liked building web pages, but it does take time, and one does get rusty quickly. Hence the re-take. Even then, the circumstances of life took me away from the course for two weeks. When I checked back in on Sunday evening, to my dismay, I found that I had only two days to finish two lessons, including the final exam if I wanted to complete the thing. So that's what I did for much of Monday and Tuesday. Needless to say, I wasn't too motivated to do much of anything yesterday.

It really takes time to build a page from scratch, especially if one is rusty. That's why it took me many hours to come up with this one (see snapshot below). The teacher gave us the filler content and the basic coding minus images, and we had to make the design, which is easier said than done. After many hours, this is what I came up with. It looks better in Firefox than Internet Explorer. People who are learning to do such coding generally work from Firefox because it tends to interpret things in a proper way — unlike IE.

If you want to check out the real page click here. If you do, you will notice that paragraphs change slightly when you hover over with your mouse. You may also notice fancy lettering on the first letter in the first heading and some opacity on the second and third images. It's not much, but it took me a long time accomplish it.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Results

I wrote about the MMP referendum the other day, and the results are in.

With more than 63% of the voters choosing to keep the present system, it wasn't even close. This morning on CBC, they were dissecting that a bit. Experts were saying that people hadn't been given enough information. I guess they're right because, ironically, this morning was the most that I have heard about it — on CBC or just about anywhere else. Oh, I might have just missed it earlier; they might have debated it ad nauseum for all I know. I'm just saying that this guy sure didn't hear much prior discussion about the referendum.

In terms of actual elections results, the Liberals in what appears, at first blush, to be a landslide took 71 of the 107 available seats. That's 66% of the total number of seats, and that seems impressive. The thing is that under our first-past-the-post system, they were able to achieve that with only 42% of the vote. My goodness: what a disparity!

I'm happy enough with the results in a way because the Liberals are a relatively benign and well-meaning group (in my opinion). That doesn't, however, exactly make the system fair. It's just that the MMP proposal didn't seem like an attractive alternative to most people. Including me.

I wonder if there will be a new proposal in the future. If so, I hope it's less cumbersome and only requires us to vote once. Although I didn't mention it in my MMP post of the other day, among other things, I really didn't care for the two-vote idea. I think people should make up their minds and stick to their guns.

Enough of politics though! Back we must go to our regularly scheduled programming.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Thanksgiving Photos

... and two video clips at the end.

With Her Two Grandmothers
With her two Grandmothers

With Dad
With her Daddy

With Her Aunties
With her Aunties

With Mommy and Aunty
With Mommy and Aunty

Mom with her Girls
Mom and her Daughters

Jabbering and Playing with Her Foot

Dark but Cute as She Plays with her Aunties


It's not easy being comfortable at this time of year. The weather was torrid when we cooked the turkey last Friday, but we didn't want to run the AC in October. Now it's cold and damp, and we don't want to turn on the heat yet. We try to wait until the end of October, but we never quite make it. It was easier in the previous house when we had a fireplace to use when we didn't want to heat the whole house. Alas ...

Meanwhile, my headache continues to bang away at me, even after two strong Advil early this morning followed by two strong Tylenol later. But I've been slogging away at Thanksgiving pictures anyway, and I think I'll post them now. That will make three posts in one day, so you'll excuse me if I head into hibernation for a while? It's cold enough after all.


Late last November, I wrote a post that I called Stupid Pills. The day had begun with a fiddle lesson that went badly, and it went downhill from there. The next day I woke up sick and wrote Clinging to my Raft. I was quite ill, but I actually took some solace from the realization that part of the previous day's problems might be attributed to the fact that I had been getting sick rather than simply losing my competence.

Yesterday, almost a year later, I had another poor fiddle lesson. Oh, it wasn't as bad as last year's, and the rest of the day wasn't fraught with misadventure, but I clearly wasn't with it. I was out of sync all of the way through the lesson. I felt that way even on my trip in and thought about last year's fiasco but dismissed the notion that something might be going wrong with my body because, other than feeling out of sync, I was actually feeling alright. Therefore, I put my misfiring down to a bit of an after-Thanksgiving-weekend reaction, a hangover of sorts if you will. No, not that kind of hangover!

Today, I woke up with a headache and sore throat. I'm not deathly ill, but I find it remarkable that, once again, performance issues preceded the actual onset of illness or at least the realization of that illness. And, once again, I find it somewhat comforting to be able to pin a reason to my rather weak showing yesterday.

Not only that, but this short blog was decidedly difficult to write. Sometimes it flows; sometimes it's a struggle to write one decent sentence.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

The MMP Referendum in Ontario

I offer my following opinions about the Ontario MMP referendum for the benefit of any Ontarion that happens to chance by before Wednesday's election. It's a dumb blog in a way because it's too long and uninteresting for the average passerby but not really long enough to explain the referendum really well. I'll do my best to hit the highlights and assume that any Ontario elector would know enough to fill in the blanks. I'm doing this because I don't think we've been provided with very good information, and I'd like to do my bit, albeit rather late in the day. It's confusing but worth following if a resident hasn't really digested this stuff yet.

Ontarions go to the polls tomorrow to elect their provincial government for the next four years. As far as I can see there are two unique things about this election. The first is that the date was set approximately four years ago. Up until now, elections have been called arbitrarily by the party in power at a moment that they deem opportune — opportune for them, of course. The second is that we also have a referendum to vote on.

The referendum is to determine whether we want to embrace a different model for electing members of the legislature. It's called MMP which is short for Mixed Member Proportional. In a nutshell it's an attempt to elect representatives more fairly. I love the concept and was all for it until, with the election on our doorstep, I decided to look at the proposal more carefully. Now, I don't like it.

Basically and briefly, the idea (if this referendum were to pass) is that we would elect 90 members of parliament in the traditional way: that way being that whoever gets the most votes in a riding would then represent that riding in the legislature. It follows that the party that wins the most ridings forms the government.

There are several problems with this first-past-the-post system, but a major one is that, because there are at least three parties in almost every riding in Ontario, someone can be elected with only 40% or fewer of the votes. By extension, a party can win a majority of seats and form the government by gaining only 40% or less of the total provincial vote. Under this system it is also possible for a party to get, let's say 10%, of the total vote but not win even one riding and, therefore, not be represented at all in the legislature. It doesn't seem right.

And so, on Wednesday we will be offered the option to change the system. Unfortunately, I find this proposal terribly awkward and unattractive. Under the MMP referendum proposal, we would now vote twice: once for the local candidates and once for our general party of choice. Ninety of the 129 legislature seats would be filled by these candidates. The other 39 seats would be filled by a new group of at-large members.

I don't mind the idea in general, but I don't like how it plays out in this specific proposal. I don't mind the concept that an additional 39 seats would be filled by a second at-large, party vote. But there's a twist that I don't like. You see, in a way, the second party vote would trump the riding vote. Let me try to explain that as briefly as possible with the following example that for the sake of simplicity assumes a two-party system. Yes, I know we have three fairly major parties and a number of minor ones, but I really want to keep it as simple as possible.

Let's say that Party A elects 60 members from the traditional riding votes, but Party B only elects 30. However, let's also say that in the second ballot, the at-large party ballot, the electorate decides to split the vote evenly by giving both parties exactly 50% of the vote. It would mean that Party B would be given an overwhelming share of the 39 at-large candidates, and here's how.

It's because the second vote kind of trumps the first, for it's the second vote that will be used to determine as much as possible the actual number of seats that each party will obtain. (It's confusing, I know, but stick with me here.) If the electorate really split the at-large vote 50/50, then one half of the whole legislature of 129 and not just the additional 39 members should go to each party. Party A, therefore, would only get 5 more members (of the 39 remaining) to bring them up to 65 total seats, which is one-half of 129 (or as close as we can get) while Party B would get be granted 34 (I assume) of the at-large members to give them a grand total of 64 seats.

It doesn't seem right to me for one party to obtain an overwhelming share of those 39 at-large seats when the vote split evenly between the two. I fail to see how this particular MMP system solves more problems than it creates.

If the proportional presentation were to only apply to the 39 at-large seats, I would most likely feel differently. What I mean is that if the two parties (in the above example where each received 50% of the at-large vote) were to split the 39 at-large members evenly, I'd vote for it, for that system would allow for some fairer distribution and representation but still weigh local riding votes more heavily. But I can't buy into this extremely odd proposal, and I'll be voting NO.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Another Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving weekend in Canada has rolled around once more, and our little family is together again. The girls have flown in from the left coast to be with us and the Wee Smudge on her first Thanksgiving. Another first: the little one's French grandmother will join us from Montreal. We haven't previously done this joining together of both sides of the family for a holiday. Hopefully, it will go well and be the first of many.

It was blinkin hot yesterday when we pre-cooked the turkey, and it's cooler, cloudy and rainy today. Thankfully, tomorrow, the day we will celebrate (although the official day is Monday), is predicted to be dry, not too hot and partially sunny. Sounds fine to me.

We've had many fine Thanksgiving feasts, including some recent ones at the cottage with Cuppa's sister and family, but they mostly all blend together — except for one.

It was my first year of teaching. I had been at it for a month when I suddenly realized that I had yet to give a test to any one of my six classes. No doubt I had at least some assignment marks but no test results. So ... in my young foolishness, I decided to remedy that on the Friday before Thanksgiving weekend by presenting all six classes, close to 175 students, with tests.

I soon discovered that was not exactly a good plan!

Not only was it a bad plan to test every class on the same day, but I really didn't yet know how to construct a decent test. Therefore, each was too long: too long to write and too long to mark.

Result: I spent the whole, three-day weekend marking my little, tired brains out. I think I finished late Monday night, just in time to roll exhaustedly into bed to rest up for the resumption of classes on the next day.

Just to show my state of mind during this markathon, let me share this true anecdote with you. I finally and at long last got to a very wonderful paper and exulted over this student who showed such a great grasp of the material and who was able to pen his or her thoughts so concisely yet lucidly. It was perfect! One hundred percent! However, when I tried to record the mark, I discovered that silly me had actually marked my own marking scheme. Can you believe it? The problems didn't end there, of course, for I had to deal with six very unhappy classes who protested vigourously on the next day. Because the tests were poorly constructed, the results were not good, to say the least, and class after class howled its displeasure.

And that, my friends is the story of the one Thanksgiving that clearly stands out in my memory.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Passing Thoughts

We are an odd assortment of entities, we humans. Of course, while at some level I understand that I number among the odd ones, I don't really believe it in my heart. My driving, for example, is nigh unto perfect. Really! This allows me to observe peculiarities in others, and I here and now address my keyboard to briefly recount one of these.

To wit: we live near a two-lane highway. The problem with a two-laner is that not everyone prefers to go through life at the same speed. Since I am not the fastest driver in the world, certain other drivers insist on passing me. Of course, I try to help them out when I can. Every so often, for instance, the blessed highway builders have added a special passing lane that is long enough for others to pass me in comfort and with ease, for if we chance upon one of these, I stay in the slow lane and allow others to pass.

However, when the gas pedal is under the other foot, so to speak, it doesn't always work out as well. You see, just as I am not the zippiest driver in the world, neither I am not the ploddingest one. Sometimes, therefore, I am the one getting stuck behind a turtle (sorry Dave), and it is I who looks to take advantage of one of these designated passing zones. Alas, it doesn't always work out as well as I would hope, for not all others are as considerate as I. (Remember if you will that I count myself as one of the few non-odd humans, and one of my finer traits is that I am considerate.)

In point of fact, more than once I have putted along behind a slow driver, but as we enter the passing zone s/he will suddenly depress the gas pedal and begin to speed like a bat of out you know where. This presents a conundrum, for I know that if I don't pass, the same driver will slow back down to a leisurely crawl just as soon as we get back to two lanes, and I will be stuck again. It's beyond my ken what goes through their brains, but I have found myself in this predicament more than once.

And so ... I am forced to hurtle into warp speed in order to get by the turtle-become-bat-soon-to-become-turtle-once-again and end up exceeding the speed limit by not a small margin. Someday, I will probably be hauled off to the hoosegow for my efforts. It's just not fair, I tell you. Not when I'm so sincere, considerate and wonderfully un-odd.

Monday, October 01, 2007

A Memory Triggered

We took a drive down to the Kingston area on Sunday to begin to scout out possible wedding venues for the girls next year and found a good candidate (below) on Wolfe Island.

But we have the better part of a year before the wedding becomes a story, so permit me to proceed to more banal thoughts: at which I excel.

As we drove around town I recalled our little family holiday almost fifty years ago. It was probably less that a week long, more like four or possibly five days. From Montreal, we visited Eastern Ontario, specifically Kingston, Brockville and Cornwall. I imagine it was a bit of a nostalgic stroll down memory lane for my parents who had lived near Kingston for a few years. You see, for a short time, Dad had been a minister in a nearby town and mom had given birth to me in the Kingston General Hospital. My maternal grandmother's clan also hailed from around Cornwall, and mom had spent a lot of time in that area as a girl.

The highlights of the trip were probably supposed to be visiting tourist attractions such as Old Fort Henry in Kingston and the Robert Moses Dam and cruising the Thousand Islands. But I also remember the hotels at which we stayed. I remember the Revere Hotel in Brockville (pretty darn sure that was the name) and one in Cornwall whose name I forget, but it was probably my favourite because it had a very special elevator.

Until then, I had only ridden in elevators that were operated by white-gloved, uniformed women in department stores like Eatons in Montreal. But this elevator I could drive all by myself. And drive it I did. What a kick! I would seize any opportunity to get on the contraption and push the buttons that would take me downstairs to the lobby and back up. I probably drove everybody crazy! You can tell that I was a deprived child.

Yesterday, as we drove around Kingston, memories of the little hotel there suddenly popped into my head. "Of course, it's long gone AC; it wasn't a very grand place way back then after all." Then, about thirty seconds later, didn't we drive by Hotel Belvedere. By golly, that was it! The very same hotel. (Photo from their website, from the side and looking better than it did straight-on from the front.)

I wouldn't have recognized it by sight, I don't think because fifty years ago, I believe we got there in the evening and left early the next morning. But once I saw the name, I knew it: Hotel Belvedere. Partly, I think I remember the name because I kept souvenirs from this trip for a few years: matchbooks and those typical hotel soap bars to be exact: items with the hotel's name in other words. Strange souvenirs, I know, but we didn't get out much, and I'm sure there would have been precious little money for normal souvenirs.

Oh my! Writing that brings to mind that there were, indeed, other souvenirs. I remember now. I also collected pennants from that trip. I'm pretty sure there was one from Old Fort Henry and probably from the rather new St Lawrence Seaway and probably one from the Thousand Islands. I now remember that they hung on my wall for several years.

So, that's the long version. The short version is that yesterday, I drove by a hotel in Kingston that I stayed at for one night about fifty years ago.