Monday, November 30, 2009

I’m afraid to step into my workshop

I’m pretty sure I left it a mess.

And though I’m also pretty sure I have enough birdhouses already made to fill a table at an upcoming Christmas bazaar, I’m all sold out of my Muskoka-style four-plexes, and as soon as I step into my workshop I’ll think about making another half-dozen for the sale.

“They seem to be selling quickly, so make some more,” I’ll say to myself.

Earlier my wife said, “Take the one you made for me and just take orders.”

I said I could do that but, truth be told, I don’t like taking orders.

When someone sees a birdhouse and wants to buy it I want to hand one right over, and not say I’ll have one ready by Tuesday and feel obligated to rush lumber through the saw and have to deliver one across town. Too much added pressure.

Besides, I’m tired right now and I don’t want tiredness to be the theme for the week.

So, I’ll head out to the shop to clean up the mess - a small mess is easy to deal with - but I sure hope I don’t talk myself into taking on a new batch of four-plexes.

["No big mess! Just one job left on the bench"]

["And four on the ceiling that need stain": photos GAH]


Maybe the flu took more out of me than I at first realized.

Have you had the flu and been dragging yourself around the house?

I could just make a pot of strong coffee and push ahead but I’ve been trying to cut back.


It’s Monday morning of a busy week and I’m tired already

Do you have weeks like this?

My dance calendar for the week is filling up quickly and I’m already weak in the legs.

So far, I’ve got hockey on Wednesday and Friday, company coming and shed night on Thursday, insulation to install by Friday, a birdhouse table to man at a bazaar on Saturday (I finally found a bazaar. Sure hope I can sneak away from my table to buy some homemade white bread!) and a column due on Saturday.

Yipes. The combined drive from London to Fenelon Falls on Friday and return trip on Sunday was 8 hours long and I guess, for a guy my age, that’s long enough to make me wish for a nap before noon today.

Sleep deprivation related to helping with the twins doesn’t at all help.

(I sure hope my wife has energy to heat up some soup for lunch).

Oh yeah, we squeezed in a few hours at Ollie’s third birthday party once we were off the highway yesterday.

["Ollie delivers the pizza on time": photo GAH]

Maybe the third slice of pizza or thick slice of chocolate cake is slowing me down.

Hopefully, if I go to bed early tonight (there isn’t a good football game on tonight, is there?) I’ll be myself tomorrow and flying down the wing during Wednesday hockey.

Too much to think about. Time for a nap.


How is your week shaping up? Relaxing? Wanna trade?


The Twins: Sleep tight, good night, don’t fight

The good news is:

The twins are healthy at 9-weeks old, like to eat and perform certain bodily functions at regular intervals, enjoy their walks out of doors and allow their mom, dad and grand-parents to catch a nap time on occasion.

["Back from a stroller ride": photo GAH]

The bad news:

The grand-parents don’t adjust to sleep-deprivation easily and by the time they get back to their hometown (London) after a week end of helping care for the twins they barely have enough energy to heat up soup before they crash on the couch.

Hopefully, my strength will return in time for my hockey game on Wednesday.

Excuse me, time for my morning nap.


Friday, November 27, 2009

Ollie and Me: He’s getting older by the minute

As we all are.

Tick tock. Time flies.

But like most three-year olds (he celebrates his third birthday next Tuesday) he worries less about getting older than I do and would rather spend time creating a train out of a group of cardboard boxes.

["End of the line for Thomas and Percy?": photos GAH]

Thomas and Percy birthday cakes are ready but my wife said this could be the last year for her to make such efforts.

I said, “You should keep the tradition alive until he’s a teenager. Ollie and I love your cakes.”

“You do it then,” she replied.

Ollie, it makes me sad to say that this could be the last year for such nice cakes.


Snow is falling in London but not enough to...

...get a good picture.

By the time there was enough breeze to open the Canadian flag on the porch across the street the snow was almost done for the day.

And when the snow was at its flurriest I sneezed and got a crappy shot.

I include a picture of our bags of leaves (on the curb for 6 days and counting) because I want to show City Hall how conscientious my wife is about keeping to its leaf pick-up schedule.

["Oh, she keeps to the schedule, all right": photos GAH]

City Hall - get over here. My wife is tapping her foot.


Is Sarah Palin fishing for a new job? Pt 2

Earlier I wrote that ‘I think Sarah Palin is looking for a career as a spokesperson for a private, for-profit health care system’ because she told Mary Walsh (one of my favourite people), “Canada needs to dismantle its public health-care system and allow private enterprise to get involved and turn a profit.”

Palin obviously hasn’t taken the time during her book signing tour to get a read on how Americans actually feel about their health-care system.

Hint: The majority of Americans are not satisfied with their health system.

Then I wrote the following:

“Nonetheless, Palin would be a great spokesperson for private, for-profit health care in the US because she ignores the majority of US citizens, just as private health-care providers do. Why, they’re made for each other.”

A reader - from the USA - made the following comment:

“They are made for each other for sure. Sarah scares the beejeebers out of me.”

I like it when someone agrees with me but I find it amazing that, on both sides of the border between Canada and the US, there are people who are scared by some people in the political field.

["Let's dismantle this fish"]

I mean, I’d be scared too if a Canadian politician looked at our health-care system and said ‘Canada needs to dismantle its public health-care system and allow private enterprise to get involved and turn a profit.’

What kind of person wants to rip apart a public-minded system and allow private, for-profit corporations to have that much control over our lives?

Do we have politicians in Canada who would echo Palin’s words?

And if so, who are they? What party do they support?


Thursday, November 26, 2009

Canada’s growth to stagnate! That can’t be good, can it? Pt 2

On Nov. 11 I clipped an article from the local paper (The London Free Press) that says a few things about the next ten years in Canada.

A new report says we’re headed for a decade of stagnant growth because of four things:

post-recession adjustments

the aging population

low productivity

and the measures governments may adopt to control climate change

(What’s stagnant mean? Click here to read Pt 1 and find out.)

Post-recession adjustments might mean that our economy will be affected by our new-found desire to be more austere, i.e. to spend less, save more and pay down debt. The aging population may feel they have enough stuff and as they retire they will not all be replaced, affecting productivity. And reparation money that goes toward the environment may not seem to be helping the economy.

Should we be depressed now, or for ten years?

["Compared to this guy, life is good"]


Though the writers of the report, economists Derek Burleton and Grant Bishop, say "it is critical to recognize that things will not simply return to how they were," Canada’s economy will still experience some growth, just less than what we’ve become used to as we’ve pursued excessive lifestyles.

"This (muted growth)” write the economists, “represents a new normal for the budgets of households and governments, as well as the returns on domestic capital investment."

So, can we live with stagnant and muted?

It’s like asking, can we live in a smaller house, drive a smaller car, eat less beef and pork and chicken, attend fewer recreational activities and still feel we’re living well?

Of course we can. And we will, if what Derek Burleton and Grant Bishop say is true:

“And there is not much that anyone can do about it.”

Of course, they’re wrong. They forget that not all of us think like economists. Some of us realize that our outlook affects the outcome of our lives.


Feel free to read the full article and respond in some way.


Zoom w a View: From a front porch on Cathcart St.

I know, I know.

No bazaar this week at the church across the street.

Yup, my wife's been busy.


Canada’s growth to stagnate! That can’t be good, can it?

I read a daily paper for several reasons.

I’m addicted to Dilbert. (Wally and I have so much in common. Ask me about Blue Binder Day).

To see if the Maple Leafs are out of the basement. (Yes!)

Free Sudoku.

To read articles that force me to think about the upside of down. (A positive mindset will help during the tough times ahead).

Fifteen days ago I clipped ‘Canada’s growth to stagnate’ and - my gosh - it’s a good one, because it attempts to predict what the next decade will be like, not just next week or the month after Christmas when the Visa bill comes due, and though ‘stagnate’ doesn’t sound all that positive (definition - motionless, dull or sluggish; related to stagnicolous i.e., living in swamps), already I’m thinking there’s a silver lining.

I mean, if you live in a swamp, raise your hand.

See that? Not too many of you. Already we can say that life could be worse. And very damp.

And though the article deals with the next ten years (“It may one day be remembered as the lost decade, in economic terms. A new report published by the TD Bank says Canada is headed for a decade of stagnant growth that will test the budgets of Canadian households and governments alike.”) I think there is an upside to looking that far down the path.

You might have been thinking, I wonder what June, 2016 will be like.

Well, now you’ll know.


A lot of good can come out of a lost decade.

Remember, most of us have lived through ten years of polyester. And we survived.


Is Sarah Palin fishing for a new job?

I think Sarah Palin is looking for a career as a spokesperson for a private, for-profit health care system.

She says so in so many words to Canadian Mary Walsh at a recent book signing:

“Canada needs to dismantle its public health-care system and allow private enterprise to get involved and turn a profit.”

["Let's cut the guts out of it"]

Profits are king to Queen Palin but she’d make a terrible nurse. She can't even take the pulse of the majority of Americans as it concerns the US health-care system.

According to a 2009 Canadian health care consumer survey, when Canadians and Americans were asked if their health care system deserved an A or a B, 43% of Canadians said yes, but only 21% of Americans said yes.

In other words, 79% of US citizens would give their health-care system a C or worse.

When asked if they believe that 50-plus per cent of health spending is wasted, 15% of Canadian said yes, but 52% of Americans said yes.

In other words, Canadians sound a lot - a lot - more satisfied than Americans when it comes to their health-care systems.

Nonetheless, Palin would be a great spokesperson for private, for-profit health care in the US because she ignores the majority of US citizens, just as private health-care providers do.

Why, they’re made for each other.


I just hope Palin doesn’t go fishing for work in Canada!


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

How many pairs of blue jeans do you need? Pt 3

How many?

It depends on who you listen to for advice, doesn’t it?

Jeanne Beker, host of CTV’s Fashion Television, suggests each woman should have about 15 to 20 pairs of jeans.

I say six to eight, and you could survive with five.

Is the correct answer somewhere in between?

I’m not sure, but I do know a red light goes off in my head when Jeanne Beker, a supporter of the fashion industry, throws out a number.

The same red light goes off when I hear about the square footage of modern homes, the amount of horsepower in many cars and the portion sizes of restaurant meals, because surely, if we’ve learned anything in the last 60 years it’s this - bigger isn’t necessarily better.

Survive with five. Reduce your spending. Less stuff is a good thing.


How many pairs of blue jeans do you need? Pt 2

I own seven pairs of jeans, including my workshop pants.

(Jeanne Beker and I do not see eye to eye at all).

Of the seven, my workshop jeans are the most comfortable.

But they only get worn in the shop.

I am not allowed to wear them to The Red Roaster. The owners of the coffee shop would fine with them (when the jeans are washed and worn with sandals, straw hat and a clean shirt I look like I’ve stepped right out of the ‘60s and I’m fine with that) but my wife would be embarrassed to be seen with me and would refuse to buy me a coffee.

["These are not Roaster pants": photo GAH]

She’s very tidy. She still irons her clothes every day before I crawl out of bed.

Yeah, we have issues.


Could you survive with seven pairs?


How many pairs of blue jeans do you need?

Jeanne Beker, host of CTV’s Fashion Television, gives us a hint.

Beker suggests each woman should have about 15 to 20 pairs.

“It’s like, ‘How many shoes should you have?’ There are so many interesting jeans...” she says.

Unfortunately, Beker didn’t suggest a guideline for men, leaving me to fill in the gap.

So, guys. Listen up.

["Warning - this is not a walk-in closet": photo GAH]

You know me. ‘Live small and prosper’ is my motto. I’m pretty sure you can survive with less than half as many pairs as a gal.

Six to eight pairs should do you fine. You could survive with five.

Really, think about it. You need a pair for yard work or the workshop, if you have a workshop. You need a pair that are comfy for watching TV. Maybe two pairs for special occasions, like when you go out for supper with your spouse or really important friends, or to the nearest pub with a couple of the guys. At least one pair with an extra inch or two in the waist, for when you’re feeling stuffed or when you know you’re going to put on the feed bag at supper. And maybe another stretchy pair as backup, call them all-occasion jeans.

["Workshop jeans - two more years of wear at least": photo GAH]

Could women do with fewer pairs? Of course. As long as a woman has 6 to 8 pairs that fit nicely then she should be as happy as peaches.


And do we need walk-in closets? A spare room for clothes?

Call me old-fashioned, but I’d rather be out for a walk than standing in side a walk-in looking at how many shirts I have.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Letter to the Editor: We’re more than a throwaway society

Frances H. got a lot off her chest recently in The Londoner.

First, she misses the day when she could buy something (e.g. a three-speed Raleigh bicycle) and the dealer would stand behind it for 30 years or more.

Plus, “now our merchants and manufacturers promote a throwaway society. There is no need to stand behind their products” she writes.

Thank goodness she still has her “70-year old Kenwood blankets from Timothy Eaton” to give her some comfort on cold winter nights.

Frances is right. We’re a throwaway society. Every year I bet we set numerous items on the curb that are out of fashion or just need a bit of repair.

In fact, we could be more aptly described as a throwaway, store in the basement, stack in the garage, hide at the back of the closet or under the bed society.

What’s the solution? Buy what is essential but buy quality?

Reduce spending, save money and pay off debt?

Be very discriminating when you buy something you really need?


Do you have something that compares to Frances’ Kenwood blankets? Something of good value that will last and last?


The Lighter Side of the Classifieds: Do I need more trouble...

Did you see this ad in the paper?

Maybe you went for it. Not me.

For sale - Free boxes of garage sale items

Let me get this straight. They couldn’t sell the stuff, not even for a nickel. They think I want it?

Do you want it?

Here’s another ad:

For sale - Men’s thermal long underwear, $15.

First off, are they new or used?

["I don't know. Maybe they'll fit you better"]

Second, even if they were new, would you drive across town to buy somebody else’s underwear?

Click here for more of the lighter side.


The After (partly): Historic corner of Wortley Village getting a facelift

Though the reno is not fully finished, the Westland Building is showing signs of improvement.

Upper windows have been repaired and new paint shows off the lower apartment door, upper wall and upper window treatments.

Money well spent.

["Hi, Mom. Yeah, the door is done. Looks good.": photos GAH]


The Before: Historic corner of Wortley Village getting a facelift

I don’t know much about the Westland Building but I’m glad it’s getting a fresh coat of paint - and more than a few repairs.

["Westland Building needs repairs and fresh paint": photos GAH]

Westland, at the corner of Wortley and Bruce, has housed an antique store for as long as I can remember and has recently become home to local art work as well.

The poor condition of the exterior surface and window and door trim was ignored for decades - but no more.

Is it an old building worth saving? I think so. It commands a view of one of the finest streets in London and the repairs will partly pay for themselves by ensuring the building stays rented for years to come.

Do you know of another building with such a fine front window? (Not counting the rounded ones I found in Chicago!)


Zoom w a View: How did I get back to Chicago?

I was snooping at old photos of local scenes, came across one of a London bus stop that featured American Apparel (fancy schmancy underwear, anyone?) and that reminded me of my summer trip to Chicago.

So, that’s how I rediscovered these four shots I took back in the Windy City.

These large semi-circular window and door frames are stand-outs, in my opinion, and are on or visible from Michigan Avenue.

Chicago would be a great place to motorcycle to, and from, if you can find the official starting point of historic Route 66.

I can take you right to the spot.


Got enough stuff? ReForest London plants trees as Christmas gifts

I have enough stuff and our family has made the following plan this year related to Christmas gifts:

A few things for the kids, that’s it.

My youngest sister is supporting a local charity with some of the money she saves, and the following caught my eye recently:

ReForest London is offering Londoners something different this year: trees as Christmas gifts. Through an online donation, or at four retail locations beginning this week, ReForest London will plant a tree for each donation received.

["Reforestation - not a bad idea": photo GAH]

“I think people are looking for a way to give to others in a positive, environmentally beneficial way,” said Julie Ryan, Executive Director of ReForest London. “We already have so much 'stuff'. Why not give something that gives back to the environment?”
Londoners can give a tree two ways: through an online donation to ReForest London or by purchasing a small gift at four retail locations in the coming month.
To donate online, people can go to and give securely through CanadaHelps.

Donors can enter the gift recipient’s name and address and ReForest London will acknowledge the gift of a tree to the gift recipient.


I thought I’d share the ReForest London information here in case you were looking for an interesting gift-giving option with an environmental link.


Monday, November 23, 2009

Let’s compare a Chicago bus stop to one in London, Ontario

Where would you feel most at home while waiting for a bus?

If you see an alien you might feel inclined to drop a dime in Chicago.

There’s a number to call, but what would you say?

“Hi. My name is Gord and someone just sat down beside me who is from way out of town. From Green Bay? No, no. Think even farther away than that.”

Back in London, we don’t have to report aliens. Would it even enter our minds?

Something else might enter our mind in London, while studying some of the finer points of American underwear and waiting for the Westmount bus on Queen St.

So, where would you feel most at home? Would you rather be checking out aliens on Michigan Ave. or fab undies on Queens?

What!? It’s a fair question.


In My Room by The Beach Boys

I just finished writing a brilliant post (see below... I’ll wait) and I concluded by saying:

I’ll be in the shed.

And then the thought of ‘In My Room’ floated through my head, a song that was the flip side to a Beach Boys’ hit from the 1960s.

The song In My Room not only became on of my favourites at the time but is now a favourite of my oldest son Dave. How did that happen, so many years later? That’s another story.

I say to my wife (or write on a note) ‘I’ll be in the shed’ several times per week, at least 4 or 5 days out of every seven.

I wonder why?

I do like the smell of freshly cut cedar and even though I was cutting pine and spruce yesterday, the smell of cedar, though slight, hangs in the air.

I am my father’s son and he wasn’t one to sit still for long. He always had to be doing something. Dave is like that too.

Sure, I have 19 little piles of lumber that need to be sanded, stained and assembled into birdhouses, but there’s no rush, as far as I’m concerned.

My first bowl is on the lathe too. Still no rush.

I think part of the answer lies in how the time passes so easily in the shed. There’s no rush, no push to have a job done by supper time or any other time.

["At present, the chairs are loaded with 19 birdhouses": photo GAH]

I have a clock but I barely know it’s there. There’s hardly ever a reason to look at it.

When a job is done it leaves the shed, and makes room on the bench for the next job.

There’s always a next job, one I’m looking forward to completing.

Which reminds me, I should set up the sander.

I’ll be in the shed.


Everyone needs a shed, or their own room.

What was the A side to In My Room?

Send me a picture of your workshop. We’ll trade notes.


It might be 117. Maybe 118...

I’ll say there could have been as many as 119 consumer confidence polls conducted in the last 30 days (e.g. “Do you feel confident? Are you spending money? Do you know Christmas is coming and Sears is counting on you?”) and guess what?

Here’s one more.

"Canadians continue to cut their spending on clothing, footwear, accessories and entertainment as the Christmas season approaches... but retailers are going to be better off than they were this time last year.”

In other words, we’re adopting tighter spending habits but we’re not as Scrooge-like as we were this time last year.

So, for those that care, there you have it.

["No window shopping for me"]

Me? I didn’t read much past the headline - ‘Majority of Canadian families shrink spending.’

Or say much more to myself than, good. We just need to live small, save our money, pay off debt and be kind to our neighbours.

Sears can sink or swim without my help.


Hey, I’m no Scrooge. I just need a long rest from a 60-year-old materialistic lifestyle.

I’ll be in the shed.


So, the Harmonized Sales Tax has ruffled a few feathers Pt 2

I wouldn’t even be thinking about the upcoming HST if one of my older sisters had not sent the following (mass) email, a part of her mini-protest against the tax:

“Hello. Next summer (2010) the Ontario Government is set to put into force its new harmonized GST/PST sales tax which will apply a 13% sales tax to everything we purchase.

Things That Were Not Subject To The Current 8% PST Will Be Now Taxed.”

I know the email is supposed to make me feel a certain way (“My gosh. More evil taxes. Will it never end? Did my head just fall off?”) and the second line with all the capital letters is supposed to drive it deep into my skull (“If you’re not sweating bullets BY NOW, you should be!”)

Sorry. What do we expect?

And, won’t Ontarians simply shrink their spending to accommodate the tax as we have done related to the recession? (“Fifty-three per cent of those asked have cut spending on clothes and related items” - from recent consumer confidence survey)

And isn’t that a good thing? After 60 years of more sugary sweet apple pie (in a material sense) than our stretchy jeans can manage, isn’t it a good thing to slow our consumption?

Canadians stand in 3rd place when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions per capita, only behind the USA and Australia.

Here in Ontario, we won’t lower our lifestyle voluntarily, so a consumption tax like the HST may have a very positive outcome.

My sister doesn’t think so, but then, she’s likely not alone.


Where do you stand on the HST, or taxes in general?


Sunday, November 22, 2009

So, the Harmonized Sales Tax has ruffled a few feathers

I haven’t said one word since Day 1 about the new HST that’s going to be implemented in the summer of 2010.

It’s not that I can’t form an opinion , or I feel summer is too far off (I own a motorcycle - so I’m always thinking about next summer), or taxes are of no interest.

It’s just that...

... firstly, some people get so hot under the collar about taxes that I back off due to the heat.

And secondly, it’s a big topic and as soon as I think “more taxes” I think “what should we expect?”

I mean, here in Ontario, how long have corporations and individuals been clamoring for lower taxes, and getting them from provincial and federal governments?

["Lower taxes prevent tooth decay"]

Wasn’t it just last week that Finance Minister Jim Flatulence was going on about how he was going to lower taxes again because that’s what everyone in the free world deserves?

Maybe it wasn’t last week, but at least last month. Turn Flatulence upside down and he’d still preach “lower taxes will even save us from tooth decay.”

So, the HST is coming.

And what should we expect after years of living in a low tax environment?

I have more problems with those that demand we scrap the HST than I have with a consumption tax of some kind.


Will the HST bring harmony? We’ll see. More rants later.


Saturday, November 21, 2009

From The Workshop: Four-plexes hot off the workbench

Whenever I rescue a bit of barn board I think I’ll make a four-plex.

The model is easy to put together and I like the roof lines whether I apply linseed oil or paint.

Painted surfaces take longer to prepare but provide a suitable contrast to the age and texture of the barn board.

One large roof panel can be removed to provide access to the second storey and the bottom can be removed (six screws) so that the three lower bunks can be cleaned each spring. Easy shmeasy, I say.

As you can see, I add bits of trim to the front using leftover lumber.

The cutting, sanding and nailing (for trim) takes about 45 minutes per four-plex but I think the end result is more pleasing to the eye, at least from my point of view.

["From rescued lumber to four-plex - easy schmeasy": photos GAH]

What does the bird think? I’m not sure.


If my wife says I’m getting better...

... Then I must be getting better.

From my point of view, I know the flu is moving on down the road because I posted my responses to a couple of newspaper clippings yesterday.

And typed up a letter addressed to a pub in Scotland and finished two more four-plexes and did a weird little dance to a Wilco tune while sweeping the workshop floor just before closing time.

["Rescued lumber becomes a four-plex": photo GAH]

From my wife’s point of view, I’m making some of my own meals, taking a shower at my regular time, making jokes (though they’re still not funny) and staying up later than earlier in the week (though twice I fell asleep watching the news).

And I look good enough to take her out for coffee this morning.

So, I must be feeling better.


Friday, November 20, 2009

Newspaper Clippings: G8 countries too busy to help poorer countries

How could leaders from most of the world’s biggest economies be bothered to attend this week’s UN food summit in Rome? They’re too busy with other very important matters, right?


Though UN organizers will say some progress was made to at least keep attention high on “the plight of the more than one billion people going hungry,” I think the absence of leaders from the UK, USA, Canada, France, Russia, Japan, Germany and the European Union means that the quality of life for most of the world’s poor will continue to take a backseat to the quality of life for the world’s wealthiest citizens.

PM Harper is busy with an economic junket to China and India. He feels the need to keep the primacy of the Canadian economy first and foremost in everyone’s mind so that our collective lifestyle doesn’t slip an inch.

That Canadians are among the highest emitters of greenhouse gases per capita and growing chunkier by the year inside our jazzy Levis is very important to the man. I give him that.

I also tip my hat to Italy’s Silvio Berlusconi, the only G8 head of government at the summit.

Sure (as reported here), “as the leader of the host country he all but had to attend, and by doing so he won a delay in a corruption trial against him which had been due to restart on Monday,” but still, I tip my hat.

Hey, I’m sure he cared!


G8 leaders will surely pull their collective weight more effectively in Copenhagen in December, right?


Newspaper Clippings: Hang your clothes outside all winter, I say

And if anybody complains, fire off a frozen puck in their direction.

That’s my advice, at any rate, to those people across America who are facing a rising tide of housing associations who oppose the practice of hanging laundry on clotheslines.

I’m not joking about the fact there are still North Americans who oppose seeing clothes on clotheslines because they find it unsightly.

(I’m not joking either about the frozen pucks. Let ‘em rip).

One fellow in Pennsylvania “said he was fined $100 by the (housing) association for putting up a clothesline in a common area.”

There are many benefits related to clotheslines as long as you remember to duck on your way to the garden shed.

Fresh air, exercise, hydro savings (not as much as Carin suggests in the article, in my opinion, unless you’re doing tonnes of laundry), lower GHG emissions etc.

So, hang your laundry all winter if you like, and keep a bucket of pucks and an old hockey stick nearby, in case you notice someone wagging their finger.


A frozen puck - too drastic a measure?

Is a nerf ball okay?


I know I’m feeling a bit better when...

... I can cough a few times without ripping a lung out of my chest.

... I can stand up without losing my balance.

... I can walk to the next room, sit down and not fall asleep.

... I can work around 14 separate piles of lumber in my workshop and not get lost.

... I can assemble a four-plex (birdhouse), sip a beer and listen to Wilco for two hours and enjoy every minute.


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Royal Mail: The Harbour Lights, 6 Harbour St., Irvine, Ayrshire

So, readers, off we go to Scotland (by Royal Mail) to see if we can scare up any Skinners who helped my dad out of a cold pickle about 70 years ago.

Mail to:

The Harbour Lights
6 Harbour Street,
Irvine, Ayrshire,
KA12 8PY

Dear Proprietors,

I discovered recently a few words about your fine establishment in a story written by my father concerning a naval training mishap off the Ayshire coast near Irvine in 1941 or 1942.

Gordon Douglas Harrison, age 20 or 21 at the time, wrote the following:

“We were perhaps headed south (for a midnight training exercise) and it was rough. Our craft ran aground on a sandbar.

“Koyl ordered Bailey and I overboard to look or tread for deeper water. (Koyl, flotilla commander, entered the water as well).

"Wandering in sea boots, underwear, duffel coat, I fell into deeper water and hollered, “Over here, sir!”

“So we worked our asses off to free the ALC and we were successful. Koyl’s fuming, “We are going to be late!”

“Bailey and Koyl were able to get back aboard. I wasn’t and they drove off and left me out in the water.”

Though my father found the next couple of hours in the water unbelievable, after the landing exercise and what felt like an eternity, Koyl and his craft returned to the same area and plucked my father from the water before he gave up hope.

He later wrote:

“When we returned to Irvine, Koyl, Bailey and I hurried to a local pub (now known as the Harbour Light). We were given hot porridge, rum, and our clothes were taken to be dried and we were wrapped in blankets.

“All of this help came from ladies.

“It was late afternoon before we left the pub (the Royal Sovereign or King George?).”

A copy of an old photo of the King’s Arms Hotel appears with my father’s story and a note that members of the Skinner family helped warm and revive the three sailors.

I write this letter to ask if The Harbour Lights was once known as the King’s Arms Hotel?

And if any members or relations of the Skinner family from the early 1940s still remain in Irvine, visit your pub on occasion and can remember or verify my father’s fine story?

If so, I’d love to hear from them.

Yours very truly,

Gordon A. Harrison
Have Rum Will Travel