Monday, October 30, 2006

My Boy is Smiling

Studies show that a baby’s crying peaks at six weeks of age. As the father of a six-week old, I would have to agree with those studies. In the last week Jonas has cried, cried, cried. His nickname should be The Incredible Sulk. He has driven his mother crazy, who spends 24 hours a day with him. I, on the other hand, get to leave for work during the day. And believe me, I find it a heck of a lot less stressful in the classroom than I do spending a day at home. Since Jonas is tethered to Christine, I have taken it upon myself to do the lion’s share of the household chores. Here’s how I spent Saturday and Sunday:

washing floors
changing cat litter
washing bathrooms
washing clothes (both adult and infant)
folding clothes
putting clothes away
walking our dog Ollie and Grover (Jenn and Tom’s pooch)
feeding dogs
feeding Sylvester
washing dishes

That’s about it. We managed to find time to go to the Ambulance Base where Jeremie and Todd cooked moose stew and bannack for everyone. It was incredibly good. Also found time to watch the Leafs beat the Habs on Saturday night in a fantastic game decided by a shootout.

Amidst the craziness, I am finding time to enjoy Jonas. He is now smiling purposely, we think. The picture below, of him in his swing, captures my smiling little boy.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Me vs. Margaret Atwood

Before we found out we were pregnant, I used to read books of all kinds. The classics. Books about sports. Books about music. Trashy Books. Autobiographies. Biographies. Books that were funny. Books that were sad.

Then when we found out we were pregnant I began reading books on what to expect from parenthood. A lot of good that did me. The only thing I remember was this helpful piece of advice: whatever you do, don’t anger your wife. When Jonas was born, I went mostly on instinct and remembered the important credo "no uterus, no opinion."

Recently I have had a hankering to start reading non-parenting books again. I don’t have nearly as much "me" time anymore, and therefore my reading time is devoted exclusively to The Hockey News. Hey, I need to know who’s playing left wing on Phoenix’s first line. That kind of stuff is important to me. But there has to be more to literary life than the magnificent THN. Like Margaret Atwood for example. I have been meaning to read her novel "The Handmaid’s Tale" for quite some time. I should have read it two years ago when my friend Kim recommended it to me. It is one of her favourite books. I think she used the words disturbing and mysogynistic to describe it. I was sold. Then a funny thing happened. I somehow got it in my head that she wanted me to read "The Stone Angel" by fellow Canuck Margaret Laurence. Easy mistake right? Well, I went ahead and read the novel and loved every page of it. I then went on a Margaret Laurence reading spree. I read just about everything she ever put out in the summer of 2004. My favourite Laurence novel is "The Fire-Dwellers." What an awesome piece of literature. And I don’t care that I’m the only Canadian male to ever utter those words about that book.

Only after I read the complete works of ML did I realize Kim liked "The Handmaid’s Tale." So here I am, staring at the THT. I managed to read about three pages at midnight last Friday, sitting in the rocking chair next to Jonas’ crib, listening to him coo-ing. I managed to deduce that a woman, possibly the handmaid in question, was in a gymnasium with other handmaids. Help me out here, do I have the gist of it?

I am determined to finish the book. As motivation, I will keep everyone updated on my progress. Probably won’t read it tonight, though. Just realized the E.R. episode where Abby’s preemie baby’s is born is on, and they play that awesome David Gray song "Slow Motion" during the c-section birth scene. Oh, and there’s the World Series game. I’ll watch that if there’s nothing good on "The Hour." That’s a good show too. Exactly how Am I supposed to find time to read? Answer me that.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Sandersons 4, Mackies 1

Congratulations to our friends Mike and Kim Sanderson who welcomed their fourth child, Hailey Faith Sanderson into the world on Fri. Oct. 20. Hailey was born in Charlottetown P.E.I. Wow, who would have thought Mike and I would combine to father five children by the time we were 30? Damn we’re proficient.

I know what you’re thinking Mike. You think you’ve got the baby thing in the bag. Well, let me tell you something: Christine and I have a good run in us. We’re comin’ back. I think we might have a multiple birth in us, twins or maybe even triplets. How would that feel to have us tie things up in one day?

In other news, we had an enjoyable weekend. On Thursday we accepted an invite to DPC Jen’s for dinner, along with Francois (hospital maintenance worker) and Madeline (health care aide). Good times were had. And then on Friday we went to Ladyne’s for a potluck. There was no NASCAR, but we did partake in a wild game of Asshole. I managed to spend a good part of the night as the a-hole. The others enjoyed watching me make mistake after mistake, due to sleep deprivation - or so they thought. The truth is, I would’ve screwed up anyway. Like asking how many cards everyone gets, only to be told to deal the deck until all the cards are gone. Then we were putting away two decks of cards, only problem was I didn’t think to seperate them. Hahahahahahaha, Jeff you so crazeeeee.

Cute kid, eh?

His Royal Cuteness

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Does This Boy Look Native?

The only white baby in Albany

Yesterday I returned to the classroom and it didn’t take long for the ribbing to start. I brought in a picture of Jonas to show the students. Their response was predictable.

"He looks native don’t you think?", one of them asked.

"I didn’t know your wife is native", said another.

Hahaha. I let them get it out of their systems. It was very good to be back. Very good indeed.

I looked at the picture again, and low and behold he does look a bit like a native baby, but ONLY because it was taken on one of the four days of his life that he was jaundiced. Something I managed to point out to the pupils.

Our class has tremendous chemistry. They enjoy making fun of their teacher, but they also show an interest in me as a person. I too like getting to know them on a personal level. They lead very interesting lives. They exist on a different level than the rest of society. And I mean that as a good thing. There is less emphasis on material possessions in Native culture. I find it really refreshing.

It rained almost all day in Fort Albany. Yesterday was one of the most beautiful days you could imagine. It just goes to show that the weather in Northern Ontario is about as predictably unpredictable. I just got off the phone with Kyle Wellwood of the Maple Leafs. I interviewd him for a story I’m writing for Hockey Life magazine. I had not interviewed Wellwood since his first year in the OHL. Boy, has he changed. Then again, so I have I.

All bundled up for a walk

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Potluck Night in Fort Albany

Christina with Jonas

Denis and Jonas

Jack and Jonas

Last night we hosted what is the most popular social event among white people in Fort Albany: the potluck. Here were the attendees: Christine, Jeff, Jonas, Jocelyn, Jeremie, Jen, Jennifer, Jack, Denis, Ladyne, Christina and Todd. Jesus, that’s a lot of people whose first name starts with J. Little Jonas fits in perfectly up here. And to think, we just lost Jolene, Joe, and his daughter Jolia.

As usual, the food was first rate. There were lots of laughs, although Jocelyn and Jeremie were subdued by their standards. I had the perfect plan for the television. I had the volume on mute with the Detroit-Oakland ALCS game on. When that game ended, I had planned to turn it to the Leafs-Calgary game. But Ladyne had other ideas. I left the room briefly, returning to what looked like NASCAR on my TV. NASCAR Night in Canada? I’ve never heard of such a thing. Then I put 2 and 2 together and realized that the resident NASCAR freak had changed the channel on MY television. Actually, I didn’t mind too much. I think it’s cool that quiet, polite Ladyne watches NASCAR every Saturday night. Besides, there was too much socializing to do. I would, however, have liked to have seen Magglio Ordonez’s walk-off homer to put Detroit in the World Series for the first time since I was in Grade 4. But alas, NASCAR ruled the night. I must say I agreed with Jocelyn when she said: "Do they just keep driving around in a circle? That’s soooo boring."

After the gang had left, I switched the channel and watched the third period and OT of the hockey game. It was really exciting. Mats Sundin scored the winning goal - his third of the game and 500th of his great career. In addition to the action, I was amused by the commentators - the elderly and frumpy Bob Cole and the young and very beautiful Cassie Campbell. It was Cassie’s first broadcast and I thought she was OK. She was by no means brilliant, but she was no more insightful than Harry Neale.

So, here’s a quick Bob Cole story - one of many I have of the man. A friend who works at CBC told me once that Bob calls a game with one hand down his pants. I didn’t put much stock in the story because I’ve learned that rumours blow through the CBC like a Fort Albany wind. I wouldn’t have believed such a tale had I not seen it with my own green eyes. A couple of years ago I was covering a game when I walked past the CBC booth seconds after the period had ended. I glanced inside only to see Bob sitting there with his belt undone, AND his zipper down. For God’s sake, the man’s pants were wide open - in public. It was quite the Kodak moment. I can’t imagine him doing this with Ms. Campbell next to him, but Bob marches to the beat of his own drum. This was evidenced after the game when he said something along the lines of "It’s been great having you here, girl." Geezes, what year is it and what rock did Bob Cole crawl out from under? Well, at least he didn’t call her a dame.

Friday, October 13, 2006

I Heart Snow Patrol

One of my favourite things to do in Fort Albany is to go hiking. Actually, hiking is a bit of a stretch – it’s closer to walking. Hiking just sounds more exotic. A hike is all that much better when I listen to my iPod. My recent hikes have been incredibly enjoyable because I’ve been listening to the latest Snow Patrol CD, Eyes Open. It is my favourite CD of 2006, no question about it. It is one of those albums that gets better every time I hear it.

With that in mind, I thought I’d share my top 20 singles of 2006 through the end of September.

1 Chasing Cars - Snow Patrol
2 Nothing Left to Lose - Mat Kearney
3 Ticket to Immortality - The Dears
4 Girl In The War - Josh Ritter
5 Don't Wait - Dashboard Confessional
6 Twenty Four Hours - Athlete
7 The Adventure - Angels And Airwaves
8 How To Save A Life - The Fray
9 Not Going Home - The Elected
10 You’re All I Have -Snow Patrol
11 Jolene - Ray LaMontagne
12 Pussywillow - Greg Dulli
13 Hate Me - Blue October
14 Try So Hard - Charlie Mars
15 World Wide Suicide - Pearl Jam
16 Our Last Night - Better Than Ezra
17 Miracle - Foo Fighters
18 Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels) - The Arcade Fire
19 The Hardest Part - Coldplay
20 Bonnie Brae - The Twilight Singers

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

A Great Thanksgiving - With Pictures to Prove it

Yesterday we enjoyed a most memorable Thanksgiving. The fall colours were on full display, there was a chill in the air, and the smell of chimney smoke permeated the reserve. There were no baseball games for me to lose myself in, but other than that it was just perfect.

Jonas, Christine and I went over to the Ambulance Base where our close friends Jeremie and Jocelyn hosted a Thanksgiving feast. Jeremie is a paramedic, while Jocelyn is an RN who is leaving Albany for good on Wednesday. She is returning to her hometown of Kingston where she will write her own ticket as a Nurse Practicioner. James Bay General has had several months to make her an offer to remain here as an NP, but one has not come. I won’t get into details any further, but needless to say the hospital is losing an incredible asset.

Anyway, back to the feast. The food was incredible, and the company was just as good. Since none of us can be with our families on holidays, it feels like everyone up here is your family. Of course, Jonas was a huge hit. He was a very good boy - he just loved being passed around.

I have this week off from teaching because it is a culture break in the community. A lot of the community members are out hunting, so it is pretty quiet around here. I’ve had a few people ask me if I was going hunting, but I tell them I’m too busy being a father. Never mind the fact that I couldn’t shoot a moose if it walked into my living room. I’m no big advocate of hunting, but since moving up here I appreciate how important it is to Native culture. There is something noble in feeding your family this way. I just have a lot of respect for the knowledge that one has to have in order to live off the land.

Christina, Jonas, Paramedic Wendy and her son Grissom

Jonas and his Auntie Christina

Wendy’s sister, Olive

Jocelyn did not want to give Jonas back

Jonas and his new friend, Ladyne

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Jonas’ First Hockey Game

I have made an important parental decision: Jonas will be raised a Toronto Maple Leafs’ fan. I grew up a die-hard Leafs’ fan, then developed a strong dislike for the franchise when I worked at The Hockey News. I found the organization to be incredibly arrogant from the top down. Sure, I enjoyed listening to Pat Quinn’s post-game media conferences, but he is an incredibly arrogant, miserable man. I, like a lot of others, shared the opinion that the Leafs were a bunch of whiners – from Darcy Tucker to Shane Corson to Tie Domi to Bryan McCabe. The only Leaf of the past decade I had much time for was Alexander Mogilny. He was a talented player on the ice and a great interview. He always treated me with respect.

Now that Pat Quinn is out as coach, I have decided to give the Leafs another shot. I am a big fan of coach Paul Maurice. In addition to being a good hockey man, he is a funny and insightful guy. My favourite Maurice story was told to me by a colleague who covered the Detroit OHL franchise when Maurice coached there. According to my buddy, there was a decidedly androgynous season-ticket holder who sat just behind the bench. It drove Paul crazy not knowing whether the fan was a man or woman. So, between periods of a game he asked another fan to follow the person in question to the rest room and report back. I can’t remember the rest of the story, whether the fan was male or female. Or perhaps the fan never went to the can. At any rate, I always get a chuckle out of the story. I’ve heard a lot of other favourable Paul Maurice stories over the years. Many of them involve humility and generosity. I wish him all the success as the Leafs’ coach.

So, Jonas and I sat down to watch the Montreal-Toronto game last night. It was my little guy’s first game. He cried, fed and slept through the game, but it was a father-son bonding experience nonetheless. The Leafs’ lost in a shootout, but I thought they played well. Jonas let out a wail at the end of the shootout, at which time I said “there there Jonas, the Leafs still get a point for the loss.” He then shot me a look that said: “I know, you idiot. I just soiled myself and I’m freaking starving.”

He won’t remember his first game, but I certainly will. Just as I will remember the first smile, his first word, and his first step.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Ever Great Town

Christine, Jonas and I made it back to Fort Albany this afternoon after an exhausting trip that spanned two days.

On Thursday we made the eight hour drive from Lindsay to Timmins. David drove the first three hours to North Bay and I drove the rest of the way, having gotten no more than four hours sleep the night before. It’s amazing what you can accomplish when your wife and child are depending on you.

After we returned, I went to the Northern to buy some groceries. It took me well over an hours, as I stopped to chat with friends I hadn’t seen in six weeks. It was magnificent to see the bright, smiling faces of the community members - excited about the long weekend. I had a nice chat with Kerry Bitternose and Jacob Ashamock, who are two of my favourite people in Fort Albany. They are a great couple who have a two-year old son named Andre. Kerry is expecting again, in November I think. Jacob is one of my students. He actually inspired me to take up blogging because he himself has his own site on Piczo. I checked it out and came to the realization that I should be doing something like that.

Christine’s very close friend Christina Nicolaidis is visiting right now. At Christine’s urging, Christina came up here to work for five weeks. She is thinking about returning full-time in January. We really hope she does. A few minutes ago they were discussing their favourite profane expressions as little Jonas looked on. He’s not going to pick up on that shit is he?

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

We're Going Home

By tomorrow night at this time the four of us will be homeward bound. We plan to be resting comfortably at the Days Inn in Timmins. I love Northern Ontario more than you can possibly imagine. If I have my way, I will live the rest of my life in the North. When I die, they can bury me deep beneath the frozen ground.

It's not that I hate Southern Ontario. The thing is, Toronto is the only locale in the South I would ever move to. Christine and I are all or nothing kind of people. Give us the bustle of downtown Toronto or the quiet solitude of the Northern wilderness. We have no desire to live in Suburbia. We don't want to be a slave to the automobile. We would like the freedom to walk to work. We want our kids to be able to walk to school. Now, I am by no means looking down on suburbanites. I have several friends who love the suburban lifestyle as much as I do the Northern Way.

Don't get the wrong idea here - we are not small town, backwater folks. Christine and I are as progressives. It just happens that we live on a First Nations reserve that up until six years ago had no indoor plumbing. Pavement is still years away. No drivers licence is needed, thank you. Bicycle and ATV helmets? Hell, you would get laughed off the reserve if ever you wore such a contraption.

Christine has agreed to let me pick the next place we live, and by golly it's gonna be in Northern Ontario. I'm just not sure where yet. Here's my long list of potential places of residence: Timmins, Kirkland Lake, New Liskeard, North Bay, Sudbury, Sault Ste. Marie, Wawa, Blind River, Manitoulin Island, Matheson, Cochrane, Kapuskasing, Sturgeon Falls, Espanola.

OK, that's a pretty long list. Can anyone out there help me out? Where should we move? Any places on the list we should avoid?

Monday, October 02, 2006

Happy Birthday Johnny!

Today is the 19th birthday of my brother-in-law Johnny. Damn, do I ever feel old. Johnny was six when we first met, and come to think of it I was 18. We have both grown up a lot since then. Johnny doesn’t want a lot of people fussing over his birthday, so I won’t go on any further.

I am so tired I am having trouble finishing words, let alone sentences. Jonas was up every hour last night. I know that I slept a little because I had a dream that is way to bizarre to explain.

I don’t have much to write, but I will mention that Christine, Jonas, Ollie (our lab/husky X) and I are leaving for Northern Ontario on Thursday. We are renting a mini-van to lug all our stuff to Timmins in. My bro-in-law David has graciously agreed to drive us there. We have to overnight in Timmins on Thursday then we fly to FA on Friday morning. It’s best that we leave soon. Not only do I miss the north badly, but I soo expect to fall asleep and never wake up. Such is life as a new parent.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

The Month That Was in Music

One of my passions in life is music. Listening to and collecting songs is a hobby of mine. This goes back to the late 1980s, when I was just a wee lad. Anyway, a few of you out there know that I enjoy ranking my favourite songs of each year. It is fun to look back on past years and see just how the music I listened to shaped my memories and vice versa.

Here are the singles I was listening to in September - ranked in order.

1. Ticket to Immortality, The Dears - This track will end up being one of my favourites for the year. I just love the lyric: "Everyone has had their fun with me/but the world is really gonna love you." Just a great phrase that makes me think of little Jonas.

2. You’re All I Have, Snow Patrol - I just love the latest SP CD. Apparently this upbeat song has been released as a single in the UK.

3. For Us, Pete Yorn - Pete Yorn is one of my favourite artists. His CD musicforthemorningafter is one of my all-time faves. His new disc Nightcrawler is outstanding too.

4. Good Man, Josh Ritter - Josh Ritter is one of those artists I love to listen to on a rainy Sunday in autumn.

5. Pull me Through, Jim Cuddy - Blue Rodeo is one of my favourite bands. This song isn’t JC’s best work, I’ll admit. It sounds like a leftover from the Diamond Mine CD, and that’s going back about 17 years. Still, Jim’s voice still sounds fantastic.

6. Shopping Trolley, Beth Orton - I really like Beth Orton’s voice. I like a few of her singles, but find her albums less than stellar.

7. New York Minute, Mobile - I’ve been hearing this song on XM quite a bit. It is catchy pop-rock, but by no means earth-shattering.

8. Original Fire, Audioslave - This song barely made it on my list. I like Audioslave, but this isn’t one of my favourite singles by the band.

More on Domi’s Creepiness

I didn’t intend for my blog to become a platform for my hatred of Tie Domi, but if that’s what it’s become, so be it.

The other day Tia Carerre issued a statement saying her and Domi have never been anything more than friends. This is interesting because Domi probably has a different opinion. For years, the dung for brains Domi has been regaling friends with intimate details of his affair with the third-rate actress. Now, it isn’t beneath Domi to lie about his personal life, so it’s possible Carerre is telling the truth. Oh, and another thing, Belinda has issued a statement insisting she had nothing to do with the breakup of the Domi’s marriage. Oh please.

One more Domi gossip story I’d like to pass on, and then I’ll try and leave this issue alone. A few years ago there was a sensational trial in a Toronto court involving a prostitution ring in which several celebrities were linked. As I recall, the judge deliberated on whether to allow the media to publicize the identities of the celebs. The night before the decision was handed down, Domi’s then-agent Don Meehan advised Me Idiot to come clean with Leanne – better she find out from Tie than from the press. It’s pretty good logic actually. Tie, never being one to think on that level, told Leanne of his fondness for prostitutes. Of course, you can see where this story is going. The following day the judge ordered a publication ban on the identity of the johns. Alas, Domi was both pissed and relieved at the same time. Poor little Tie.

One final thought – I have a lot of good hockey gossip stories that would make great fodder for a website. I’ll probably share a few of them in my blog, as long as they hold some relevance.