Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sweet Baby James and me

Last night, I watched "Spectacle: Elvis Costello with... James Taylor". It reminded me why James Taylor has always been a personal favourite of mine. I'm sure that "Sweet Baby James" is one of the first albums I ever bought.

I won't say that I identify with his music, because the themes really have nothing to do with my life. But I will say that I love listening to his music, and find it very relaxing and pleasurable.

I did see James Taylor in concert once, in 1996 at the Ottawa Civic Centre. It was Little Brother Dan's first-ever concert; we went with my sister, Dale.

There we were in our arena seats, before the concert had even started. Three rather husky women came along, looking for their seats. They were looking in the row in front of ours, and realized they were supposed to be in our row. One of them just stepped over the back of the seats, but the other two realized their tight denim skirts precluded them from doing it. Dan was sitting on the aisle seat. When we stood up to let the women pass, one of them stopped in front of 13-year-old Dan and shook her substantial rack at him. He turned to me with eyes as big as saucers and exclaimed, "I like concerts!"

Now, some 14 years later, it turns out that his daughter, five-month-old Abby, is also a James Taylor fan. Music is how Dan and Christine put Abby to sleep at night, especially when she's fussy. She even has her own MP3 later, complete with a speaker. James Taylor tunes work quite well.

However, it seems that Jason Mraz's "I'm Yours" is her favourite. I just found out why. When Abby was just a few hours old, her Daddy rocked her to sleep, playing that song on his iPod. Not coincidentally, it was also the song that was playing when Christine walked through the beach sand to the gazebo, under which she and Dan were married in April of last year.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

My overnight trip to Toronto

I'm just back from an overnighter to Toronto, to see my honourary granddaughter Abby and her Mom and Dad, Christine and Dan.

Abby has been in The Hospital for Sick Children for a week now. At first it looked like meningitis, but thankfully, that was quickly ruled out. It hasn't been confirmed, but it looks like a stomach bug of some kind kicked the crap out of the little sweetie, dehydrating her and sending her into shock.
I'm happy to report that things are looking up, and she seems to be getting better by the hour. Tomorrow, her care team will discuss whether she's well enough to transfer back to Timmins. Her parents, as much as they'd like to go home, will not rush anything. They are loving, very level-headed parents. Dan has to go back to work Friday night, so hopefully they'll at least be back in Timmins by then, but whatever happens, they're prepared to roll with it.

I can't describe how much I love that little girl. At three months old and weighing about ten pounds, she has this 52-year-old, 200-pound guy wrapped around her baby finger. Her smile just lights up the room, and makes her Big Uncle Bob's heart melt. I hate the circumstances under which we got to spend time together this weekend, but given the circumstances, there is no place in the world I would rather have been this weekend.

I flew Porter Airlines for the first time, and it won't be the last. Unmatched comfort and service; convenience by landing at Toronto Island instead of Pearson, and quick ferry and shuttle service back and forth from the island to downtown. Reasonably priced, too.

Back to Sick Kids: Pardon my naivete and idealism, but it breaks my heart to see a building there devoted to pediatric brain tumor research. Why do we need such a thing?

It's also disturbing to see a sign in the hospital directing you to the Substance Abuse Treatment Day Program. In a children's hospital! Of course, "Child" means up to 18, but still...

And as sick as Abby has been, it's also heartbreaking to see some of the kids there. Seeing as such a place is needed, it truly is a great place, staffed by amazing people who never get the credit they deserve, or at least never enough of it.

No, I'm not depressed. Quite the opposite. I'm counting my blessings and being thankful first of all that Abby is going to be alright, for having her in my life (and her parents, too, of course) and for the people and facilities that are there when we need them.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Bus Ride Observations

What I saw today on my ride to work:
-Lots of police cars and an ambulance at Hurdman Station. Turns out it was just a medical emergency for an OCTranspo rider. Talk about over-response on the part of police!
-Short guy, about five-foot-nothin', roughly 60 years old with an IQ to match, gets on the bus while involved in an animated conversation. His lips were moving, but there was nothing coming out.
-A dazed-looking lady wearing socks and sandals. Likewise, a very old man wearing sandals exactly the same as the ones I own, with socks in them. ARRRGGGHHHH!
-A homeless guy with a dog in a stroller, one of those runner's three-wheelers with the bike wheels.
-A young dude on a skateboard, no helmet, pads, etc. on the lefthand side of Queen Street -- right on the street!

I love this city!

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

I'm head over heels

The pride and joy of my pride and joy has arrived.
Abigail "Abby" Thérèse Ann Contant was born this past Friday. She is the daughter of my Little Bro, Dan, and his wife, Pretty Christine. The closest I've come to meeting her is via photos and webcam from Timmins, but it's enough that I'm totally head-over-heels in love. I'll gladly fill the role of surrogate paternal Grandpa, going by the name of Uncle Bob. Heck, I've already bought her a Team Canada hockey jersey.
I'm flying to Timmins Saturday to visit her. First stop after her Dad picks me up at the airport is her house, of course, then a quick trip to the mall to buy her a teddy bear, and maybe a couple other things.
Welcome to the world, Abby, my little Peanut. You will one day realize how surrounded with love you've been since the day you were born.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Waxing nostalgic

I've been feeling a bit nostalgic lately. I'm not sure why, maybe because I've been doing some writing for a history of Iroquois Falls, due to be published later this year, or because I've been listening to more classic rock music than usual.
I even had a facebook post that prompted some discussion about the top classic rock songs. There are several that I agree with, and contributed my own nomination for one that should be near the top: Dire Straits' "Money for Nothing".
That sent my thinking process onto a bit of a tangent, recalling buying vinyl records as a teenager.
Of course, Pierini's in Iroquois Falls was my primary source. Trips to Timmins always meant a stop at Circle of Sound, in what was then the brand new 101 Mall. Your record purchase was put into a bright pink plastic bag, which was heat-sealed at the checkout.
There was also Records on Wheels, on Pine Street near Second Avenue, a door or two down from the Colonial Inn restaurant, which featured phones at the tables, over which you ordered your food. It later became A&W and then Benjamin's. If I recall correctly, Records on Wheels also sealed your purchase in a plastic bag. It was a small, narrow store. I can't recall whether it was later replaced by or existed side-by-side with Two Pieces Boutique, similarly small and narrow. It was where we bought our jeans and cords in the style of the day, be it boot cut, flare or elephant pants, and the puffy-sleeved shirts to go with them, thus the Two Pieces.
I imagine what sealed the doom of all of those places was the opening of Timmins Square.

Friday, January 29, 2010

A rite of passage

I had an interesting people-watching experience this afternoon.
I went with my youngest niece, Caitlin, to get her driver's licence. If I remember correctly, she had her G1, now has her G2, and has a year to get her full-fledged G licence. Way back when I borrowed my Dad's Flintstone car to try my licence, we had the beginner's and then the driver's licence -- none of this graduated stuff.
Anyway, it was interesting to watch the young people come, Mom or Dad (or Uncle Bob) in tow. The anticipation and nerves were palpable in the young people; the pride and melancholy in the parents. Another fledgling getting closer to leaving the nest, learning to fly on their own, moving towards total independence from Mama and Papa Bird.
The only one I saw come back from a road test was Cait. She was smiling ear-to-ear, telling me she passed. A couple of the parents looked my way and smiled.
Cait was especially happy, because this was road test number three. I think she passed this time, because instead of having her older sister with her, she had her good luck charm -- me!
Of course, by the time she had walked around the building from where she had parked the car at the end of the test, she had already called her Mom to share the good news.
Way to go, Cait.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Quick! First answer off the top of your head

If you had to sing one karaoke song to save your life, what would it be?

Mine would be Barry Manilow's "Copacabana".