Friday, September 29, 2006

Jonas Touches Down on Sawlog Bay

Christine, Jonas and I returned to Lindsay yesterday after spending three days at my parents’ place on the shores of Georgian Bay, just outside of Penetanguishene.

We welcomed a host of visitors, everyone except the Three Wisemen. My brother Jason and his partner Veronica met their new nephew. My Gramma Henderson, Uncle Jim, Aunt Vicky and her partner Cindy visited too. Little Jonas accommodated them with snuggles and overall cuteness.

Jonas became the fifth generation of the Mackie family to visit Sawlog Bay, the bay where my family has been coming to since the early part of the 20th century. My grandmother, Eva Mackie, lived there for several years before she moved into a nursing home nine years ago. She passed away on Aug. 13 – a month to the day before Jonas was born.

It was a special few days for our family. My parents doted on Jonas. They are the fantastic grandparents I expected them to be. I’ve posted a few pictures of our visit in my photo album. Just click on the link to the right to seem them.

I Have No Time For Tie Domi

Tie Domi was a lousy hockey player. He is an even worse human being.

I’ve known this for quite some time. There are few people I loathe more than the former NHL goon. He is the biggest phony I’ve encountered as a journalist.

I could never comprehend why he was one of the most popular athletes in Toronto. I’m told his bad-boy, brawny personality had something to do with it. Also, he portrayed himself as a man of the people – an athlete not far removed from his constituency.

What a load of bull this is.

I hope Domi worshipers took notice this week when details of his sordid personal life became public. His now ex-wife Leanne filed divorce documents detailing accounts of Domi’s alleged infidelity, emotional abuse, and family abandonment.

Domi walked out on his wife and three children and carried on an affair with actress Tia Carerre for two years. Now it appears he is the latest boy toy of Liberal MP Belinda Stronach.

When I worked for The Hockey News, I had access to the Maple Leafs’ dressing room. One time early in the 2003-04 season, I watched as Domi berated a PR man as players and journalists looked on. At first I thought it was Domi joking around, but the PR guy wasn’t smiling. Plus, the anger in Domi’s eyes revealed a sinister motive.

A reporter friend of mine tells a story that reveals how much of a bully Domi is. He found himself alone in the dressing room with Domi and Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos. Unhappy with what he perceived as unfair criticism, Domi tore into the pair. He accused them of abandoning him. My buddy said he feared for his safety – he honesty thought Domi was going to haul off on them.

I was once walking past Maple Leaf Gardens when the Leafs still played there. Domi was standing on a street having an animated conversation with a guy I didn’t recognize. I watched for a few minutes as Domi got in the guy’s face. The only time he took his menacing eyes off the man was to turn his head and spit on the ground.

TSN just hired Domi as a commentator on its Wednesday night broadcasts. When he retired, I thought I’d see less of his ridiculous head. No such luck. I guess I’ll just have to change the channel when Domi’s on – just as I always have.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Goodbye Jolene

Jolene McMurdo left Fort Albany for good on Sunday, and with it the community lost a shining light.

Jolene was one of the RNs at James Bay General Hospital. She received a job offer in Wawa she couldn't refuse, and decided to make the leap. Jolene arrived in Fort Albany on June 17, 2005. I remember that day because it was three days after I got there. It's funny how every outsider who moves to Albany remembers the date they landed, and henceforth refer to it as their anniversary, like an alcoholic remembers the anniversary of their sobriety.

Jolene endeared herself to Christine and I instantly. As it turned out, Jolene and I attended Maple Grove Public School in Barrie at the same time; Jolene went to Kindergarten in the morning while I went in the afternoon. I was always more amazed at this coincidence than Jolene was. From Christine's perspective, she loved working with Jolene because she always found a way to make her laugh amidst the madness.

Jolene is everything you wish for in another human being: selfless, empathetic, humouress, devoid of ego. We will miss her tremendously.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Reflections on Fatherhood

I have to admit I really didn’t have a clue when it came to parenting.

Luckily Christine did, and as a result Jonas is a healthy and happy 12 day old.

When it comes to being a father, it’s true that nothing can really prepare you. I read the obligatory books on how to hold a baby, how to change a diaper, how to burp, and so on, but I still found myself ill-prepared to change a diaper at 3 a.m. with your little one screaming at the top of his lungs. Experience has taught me to cover up his privates when changing his diaper, lest I get peed on with my wife (and dog) standing there laughing. It also taught me to sleep when your baby sleeps, although I still prefer the computer to napping.

Right now, it seems like everyday bleeds into another. It’s most difficult to tell when the day ends and begins. Parenting is a 24-hour a day job. You sleep when you can and hope you’re alert enough when making that left turn in a busy intersection. My little boy waits for no one, if he wants his viddles at four in the morning, he gets them. We’ve nicknamed him the King because of this.

Christine is doing the majority of the work - I truly have the easy part. She is on-call at all times and can’t be too far from Jonas because she is his life-line. The mother-child relationship is one I am marveling at. Christine has kept Jonas alive singlehandedly throughout the past 12 days. In that time I have seen her morph into the great protector of an innocent life. I too have bonded with Jonas, but not in the same way.

What strikes me about Jonas is the immense potential he has, even at 12 days of age. Of course, you never want to put pressure on a child, but I know he is capable of great things in life. We want to give him every opportunity to accomplish his dreams.

Finally, what is going through my mind these days is the fact that I am one step closer to immortality. By that I mean Jonas will live on after I’m gone, and I will live on inside of him. I will have been a part of his creation, as my parents and grandparents were part of mine.

A Long Journey Ends Happily

Christine and I found out she was pregnant on the morning of Jan. 5, a Saturday. The following nine months were filled with all the highs and lows expectant of pregnancy. Chris was awfully sick for her first trimester. There were mornings (and afternoons, and evenings) when we worried if it was all worth it.

There was the day in February when she was flown to Moose Factory for a checkup after her stomach pain became really severe. We were thankful everything checked out OK.

While we were out for breakup in Moosonee, she was rushed to the hospital with more unbearable stomach pain. Everything turned out to be OK.

Our biggest scare, as some of you know, came when we were down south in July. Some irregularities brought us to the hospital in Lindsay. Chris was eventually transferred to Mt. Sinai in Toronto when it was determined she was showing signs of labour. She was 30 weeks pregnant. We spent a week in hospital, with me sleeping on a cot beside here. A week later she was released, but doctor’s orders prevented her from returning to Fort Albany.

I went home to teach my class. It was hard being apart at such a crucial time. However, the support of friends and family helped us through. Five weeks later, on Aug. 25, we were re-united.

Jonas William Mackie was born on Sept. 13 to the happiest parents in the world. He arrived safe and sound, thankfully.

Congratulations Northern College Grads

I want to recognize my students back in Albany who were honoured on Aug. 24 for completing Level One of the Northern College upgrading course.

A big shout out to Donald, Eric, Martha, Rose, Jolene, Gabinion, Madeline, and Luanne. You should be very proud of yourselves.

Also recognized were the graduates of the Native Residential Construction Worker program.

We had a nice ceremony at the Community Hall. Several local celebs were in attendance, including Chief Andrew Solomon and Deputy Chief Leo Loone. Diane Ryder and Willard Small of the college flew up from Moosonee for the event.

A special thanks goes out to David Sutherland for organizing a great afternoon. Mee-gwetch!