Friday, December 12, 2014


There was a promise of +3 degrees that late November day. Not much of a promise, but a damn sight better than the last week, which featured full on winter type storms and lows of -15 at night. I was putting together a crew for a expedition of sorts, which would include a boat ride, a bonfire, some hot food around said bonfire, and of course, refreshments. Apprised of my intentions my dear wife offered the opinion that my plan for the day was both foolish and dangerous, but one that would not cause her concern. She said that her lack of concern was mostly because she doubted severely (as she put it) that I could pay anyone enough to accompany me into that frozen Hell. I got distracted by her choice of words (what did she mean "mostly"?), but then quickly recovered saying, "Pay someone? Why in the world would I have to pay a fella for a grand adventure?" She said, "You make it sound like you're offering them tickets to Disney World, when instead you are putting together a crew for a re-enactment of The Franklin Expedition." I explained that a "possum lodge" type group of  men like us find a day like this very exciting and it was like offering a day at Disney World!

At my age I think I know a thing or two about what men consider to be exciting. Now to be inclusive of all, I've been told that younger groups of usually unattached men have a very different idea of a Disney type experience. I understand it includes a raised stage, brass poles, and having plenty of dispensable cash on hand. I think we are getting off track a bit so back to my plan for the day.

The purpose of this trip of course had nothing to do with finding the Northwest Passage, but it did involve finding safe passage through an ice filled Lost Channel and rescuing one of my "tin boats" and the "little Merc" that powered it. We launched at an ice free Big Chute and headed east on our quest with a sturdy vessel, plenty of provisions and a well seasoned crew. Navigating around ice flows as we went we made good time until changing course and heading up into the slower moving waters of the channel itself.
The weather had changed its course as well with temperatures falling rather than rising (+3 becoming -3 and a snow squall coming in to make things interesting).

Progress forward became very slow, but being a swarthy bunch we pressed on. We were within sight of the cottage and the promise of shelter when, like the ill fated Franklin crew mired in heavy ice, we were forced to abandon our ship and continue on foot. Ice conditions were at that problematic stage (too thick to navigate by boat but too thin to support the weight of a crew member).

It was while I was witness to the exertions of the men between boat and shore that I made the following observation: generally speaking the more seasoned the man the more mass he seemed to have and the less likely he was to be "fleet of foot," which played a big role in how dry he was reaching the shore.
Eventually all souls aboard made it to shore and the relative safety of the cottage with varying degrees of success staying dry.

Undaunted, we set about to build a fire, winterize the cottage and rescue "The Shenanigans" from her icy prison beside the dock. No easy feat as she had gained a little weight since summer in the form of ice and snow filling her hull.
The little Merc? Well it was liberated as well, then travelled by sleigh, then boat, then the back seat of my truck to its place of wintering on a bench in my workshop. The crew members? Well we wound up getting warmed by the fire, having a hot meal and a friendly debate about who fared the worst on this excursion and of course the inevitable assignment of blame.

As with all endeavours it was not without adversity and I suppose responsibility ultimately rests upon the leader. What is it that Frank Costello said? "Heavy lies the crown" sort of thing?

Like the ill fated Franklin Expedition the unanswered questions were many.
Perhaps my choice of days to depart was flawed. Maybe the path taken through an ever thickening layer of ice should have been different. Even the order to abandon ship may have been hasty. Who can really be sure?

As I gazed at those gathered around the fire that day, through the jokes, barbs and differing versions of events, I was only sure of one thing.
Clearly, not a soul here would trade being at Lost Channel today for Orlando and a visit with Mickey!

Friday, December 5, 2014


A hot bath, a fresh shave and new hair cut gives a guy a little bounce in his step! It's a good feeling, and if you're lucky enough, like me, to have a little "youthful influence" from a certain toddler in your life, you might convince yourself that youth is a state of mind, not a physical attribute that slowly slips away from all of us.
As a fella ages he must however realize that feelin' good is just that, a feeling. It passes. Value wise? Let's see! The expression, "that and a buck and a half will buy you a cup of coffee," comes to mind.
On the other hand "gettin' old' is much more intrinsic, much easier to quantify, and tends to stick with a fella once it gets started. Then of course there is "feelin' old" which is different again. It seems to be more transient in nature and seems designed to nicely counteract that first, more agreeable, condition I mentioned, "feelin' good or youthful."

"Gettin' old" is that back/shoulder/neck pain that makes extended lounging on a bed in the mornings like a teenager completely unmanageable when your in your 50's. "Feelin' old" is when, despite his better judgement, a fella takes a moment to survey his image in the morning mirror and can't figure out for the life of him why Walter Matthau is staring back at him.

"Gettin' old" is when you hurt your back or hip sneezing or wrench one of your fingers tucking a "blankie" into the back seat of your truck for your dog to sit on. "Gettin' old" is realizing you forgot your change at home when you get to the coffee shop and then fumbling for your reading glasses so you can see instructions on the bank machine that's going to charge you $1.75 for the privilege of access to your own money! And lastly, "feelin' old" might be patiently standing in line with my fresh shave and my new hair cut and  having to listen to the young gentleman in front of me flirt with the "20 something" server. He was obviously in a much greater hurry than I this morning, as he had opted for a hat rather than a comb, a cigarette rather than a tooth brush and of course the customary pajama bottoms rather than actual pants.
Not being burdened by an actual job to go to, the PJ's I imagine are a comfortable choice, and judging by their predominance among the generation x'ers, a fashion statement of sorts. The statement it makes to me is: I have my "Playstation 2" on pause in my parent's basement, swiped a couple of toonies from the console of Mom's car and ran in here to snag something sweet before my next online adventure. Most of my observations about this young fellow are simply conjecture, but the cigarette part I can attest to as I had seconds ago watched him flick it over his shoulder into the parking lot with one hand on the door of the building. Well apparently the staff there did not share my disdain, as with a few grunts, chuckles and mumbles, looking up from his cell phone he flashed a smile and got a free apple turnover. Me, the old guy, well I got a frown and an "eye roll" and was charged an extra 30 cents when I politely asked for a double cup, as I was walking to work.

Oh well, such is life! Can't say I didn't occasionally enjoy the same preferred treatment in my youth as this fellow now. I guess the young man's attention made her feel good, and it will only be later, when she's counting her tips, that she may realize the true value of his momentary interest in her. Yup! You guessed it!
"That and a buck and a half will buy you a cup of coffee!"