Archive | June 2012

Just Bitchin’ – Moving To Florida

My oldest nephew, his wife, 2 children, 3 cats and 1 very large dog are moving to the Orlando area of Florida from North Vancouver.

I’m very excited for them – this will be a family adventure.  They’re driving one of the cars (plus the dog) to get there!  I was curious enough to discover that this is at least 52 hours of non-stop driving.  I hope they are all speaking to one another when they arrive at their final destination.  I also hope they get to see a few of the spectacular sights along the way – there won’t be a lot of time for sight-seeing!!

The new home looks absolutely divine – complete with screened in lanai and swimming pool.  I’m hoping I can combine a visit (I haven’t been invited yet) with an item that has been on my bucket list longer than getting a tattoo was – swimming with dolphins.  Since the new home is probably within reach of Discovery Cove – I just might get this one crossed off the list before too many more years pass by.  A little bird told me that swimming with dolphins is a favourite of my great-niece so I might even have company!!

British Columbia’s loss will be Central Florida’s gain!!  Lots of luck with the move J&C!!

My 3 nephews will soon be spread all over the continent – one in Toronto, one in the Vancouver area and one near Orlando!  Wonder where family events will take place?


Just Bitchin’ – Next trip planned – WOO HOO!

Just booked the next “big” trip – for 2013!

Heading to Provence, Monaco and Tuscany on what they call “a leisure tour” (by bus, but with multiple nights in each of 3 hotels).

I’m way beyond wanting to (or even being able to) pack my suitcase to have it outside the door at 6am each morning to move on to the next place!  This sounds lovely – and we get to train through (and eat lunch somewhere at) Cinque Terre on the northern part of the Italian Riviera – a place that has been on my wish list.  Our stays will be in Avignon, Monaco and Florence.  Doesn’t that sound darned near perfect……and with good friends too!!

WOO HOO!  Now to save the money!!!


Just Bitchin’ – OC Transpo – ???

In this morning’s Sun there is an article quoting the new Union VP as saying that worker morale is now the top priority.  Sharon Bow has been a bus driver herself for 21 years so one would think she should know what she is talking about.  The drift of the article was about scheduling and the stress it puts on the drivers.  She had my sympathy right up to the place where she said “our riders are an important part of our job”.  GOOD GRIEF WOMAN!  WITHOUT RIDERS, THERE WOULDN’T BE ANY JOBS FOR BUS DRIVERS, BUS MECHANICS, MANAGEMENT – ANYONE!!

I am retired, so I don’t ride the buses anymore although I did so for many years, living in Kanata and working downtown.  If those at OC Transpo don’t feel that the riders are THE MOST IMPORTANT PART of their jobs, there isn’t much hope for the entire organization.

I agree that worker morale, scheduling, working conditions, and so on are important but riders are the bread and butter of OC Transpo.  Salaries (thanks to unions and our city council) will go up every year and so must ridership or this pony won’t trot….or whatever the expression is.  Without a consistent increase in riders, OC Transpo and the Union representing their workers, won’t have things like scheduling or salaries to worry about.

Personally, I think any increases in costs associated with running OC Transpo should be directly tied to how well they are doing as measured by ridership numbers.  Increase ridership, reward the organization and its members.  Geesh!  Does that sound too much like private sector thinking?

Just Bitchin’ – Now this is HOT!

Surely the skies will open up soon and relieve us of this heat and humidity!  It’s too hot to put a foot outside the door!

I remember living without central air – we would all head down to the basement during those much less frequent heat waves……or, some years later, that one room with a window unit in it became the place to be!

Officially, we aren’t having a heat wave unless the temperature, in the shade and without the humidity factored in, reaches 32C three days in a row.  Isn’t that just too ridiculous.

Just Bitchin’ – Allan Hubley on Garbage Collection

I knew there was somebody at City Hall with some common sense to bring to the table.

In today’s Sun, Hubley suggests that City Staff take a look at costs/savings for a process where we dump all of our garbage, together, into however many containers we need weekly, we have one pick-up and then the City does the sorting into the various recyclables, landfill, etc.

For sure, if they do their job, we would very quickly achieve all targets in terms of landfill avoidance (something we are not even inching towards on our own).

Given fewer garbage trucks and fewer drivers, an ability to meet the commitments to green bin tonnage we are already paying for, and yes, some costs associated with sorting – it sounds like a win-win scenario to me.

I certainly hope this idea is given serious consideration.

Any thoughts?

Just Bitchin’ – Cattitude

I know….I know…..Cattitude is most definitely not a real word – but for anyone who has cats at home, it says it all!!

Take Herbie, for example

Where’s my Beer?

Who me?  I didn’t do anything!

I wonder what he is thinking?

Just hanging around!

Herbie is the one with the innocent face who usually instigates all of the scuffles and then watches the fireworks as they unfold!

or, for that matter – Blaze

 Such a stressful life!

Nobody will find me under here!

 This box is NOT too small!

What’s your point?

Blaze is the softie – the snuggler – and the eating machine.  I have to stand over them to make sure he only eats his own food and not everyone else’s while he’s at it!

and then there is the Grand Dame…..Olivia.  It isn’t as easy to get pictures of her – she’s camera shy – and she’s a dark colour!  She puts up with the boys – but just barely – and often puts them in their “rightful” place.  This elegant little chocolate brown lady can become a she-wolf when she wishes to show her “I was here first” cattitude.

Sun Bathing

 Ever watchful – where are those two brats?


 What’s not to love?

There are times I wonder about my sanity in having three cats – but then there are times I wonder about my sanity for all sorts of other reasons as well.  I don’t wonder for long ……as Blaze would say…..”What’s the Point?”

How could you not love these little critters????

Just Bitchin’ – Where should we put the new Casino?

I’m with Ron Corbett (Journalist for the Ottawa Sun) on this one.  Rideau Carleton Raceway gets my vote.  Why?

  1. The site is already established with slot machines and a huge client base (1.5 million per year).
  2. There is oodles of parking.
  3. It is relatively easy to access for our rural neighbours.
  4. Points 1 and 2 sound like reasonable choices from a cost perspective to me – I don’t want any of my tax dollars (municipal or provincial) going into a casino – ANYWHERE!
  5. Any downtown location would mean public transit for those of us who live here.  If you are in the east, west or south, direct bus service only runs for worker bees (mornings and late afternoons, Monday to Friday).  I don’t care how much fun it is, I would NOT take 2 or 3 buses and 1-2 hours overall travel time each way to go there.
  6. Downtown might be nice for tourists in summer, but Ottawa in winter (other than Winterlude) is NOT a tourist hotspot and my guess is it isn’t tourists who are responsible for the success of this sort of venture.
  7. A casino at Scotiabank Place would also work well – but I doubt my budget could handle having a casino that close by.
  8. Our mayor, Jim Watson, wants a downtown location for the new Casino.  He will likely bully Council to agree with him as he usually does.  That, for me, is just one more reason for not wanting a downtown choice.

This may all be a moot point.  If the provincial budget fails and an election is called, Dalton’s frantic need for sources of income (and thus the desire to build more casinos in the province) may go the way of the DoDo bird.

What do you think?


Just Bitchin’ – Deep into Family History

Before my recent Nova Scotia trip (read previous blog), I knew I had roots in Sheffield Mills, Nova Scotia – just outside Wolfville.  In fact, I had a picture of a house with some names and dates written on the back of it – and I had a copy of a book called “Sheffield Genaeology”.  This book also had a picture of “the house” – but nowhere could I find an address.  I was determined to find the place and beyond that – who knew?

My great-great-great grandfather (Stephen Sheffield) bought the house in 1779, lived in it until his death, his son and family then lived in the house, followed by his son and family – and finally by my grandfather, his wife and their son, my Dad – until my grandfather passed away when my Dad was only 4 years old.

A helpful gentleman involved with Nova Scotia “Valley Tourism” responded to one of my many emails I sent out and asked me to send him the picture.  I did – and also sent a rough hand-drawn map from the genaeology that showed housing in Sheffield Mills in 1864 – each house identified by who lived in it – not by street name and number. This kind person went out of his way (that’s what Maritime folk do) and not only found the house – he went there himself and took a current picture of it for me, sending along with that, the latitude and longitude co-ordinates so I could find it myself.

Google provided me a street name and address (which turned out to be incorrect).  After settling in to Roselawn Cottages in Wolfville, we headed to Sheffield Mills in search of the house.   My GGGG bought the house from Christopher Knight whose wife was said to have been a witch.  The front doors of the house were identified as “Dutch Christian – Satanic” with an inverted cross on them.  Apparently they are of much interest to tourists today!!

After stopping at an incorrect house – we were helped along by friendly folks and then there it was.  THE HOUSE.

Several efforts to knock on the door provided no response, and after taking a picture of the outside, we prepared to leave.  Before we could do so a car pulled into the lane.  I identified myself and my interest in the house and we were immediately invited in.  Oh my!  It was emotional and overwhelming.  The floors were original.  The ceiling beams were original.  The front door was original.  Some neighbours were called and arrived in short order . I guess a visiting Sheffield was an event.  The neighbour (Jim) had lived in the house himself for 60 years and prior to that, his family, for generations, had been next-door neighbours and friends of my family.  I had some family and house history with me.  The new owner is an archaeologist and had a keen interest in the history of the house and family and is hoping to restore much of it.  Jim was also the “about-to-retire” editor of the local bi-monthly news – and it sounded very much like my visit was going to be included in the next edition!!

We stayed several hours and were made to feel completely at home. I came away with 2 hand-made nails from the original construction, lots of stories and a keen sense of family.  There wasn’t time to do more – and there was so much more to do – historial aerial photographs, cemeteries to investigate, etc. etc.

Another visit to Sheffield Mills just might be in order!!

This was definitely a trip highlight for me!


Just Bitchin’ – Delay in the Return of Football???

I saw red this morning when I read in the paper that the recent court case (Friends of Lansdowne) could very seriously impact and delay the return of football to Ottawa.  It angered me NOT because of any potential delay in the return of football (I could care less about that), but because of the excuse and finger pointing provided by our own mayor, Jim Watson.  It appears the final reports on the governance and legal agreements with the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group aren’t expected until months after they were scheduled to be tabled and that it is the legal challenge by the Lansdowne Park Conservancy that is causing the delay.


I spent many years working for a very large high tech company.  We dealt with RFPs and contract negotiation situations in the hundreds of millions of dollars.  We were given approx 6 weeks to not only respond to the RFP but to also understand and agree to the associated contract terms and conditions.  Once a bid was awarded, there were minor contract negotiations prior to final signing – all managed with a maximum of two people and sign-off on our end – and those two people dealing with a multitude of other things simultaneously.  The City of Ottawa has a huge staff and no doubt an entire legal department and contracting department at its disposal.  Work on the contract with OSE should have been ongoing by City staff regardless of any lawsuits surrounding the overall project.  To use the lawsuits as an excuse is plain NONSENSE.  I am sure they did take up the time of City legal beagles – but it isn’t normally the lawyers who work out the contract details (though they probably do the final check and approval).

Just another instance of the Mayor blaming anyone and everyone and the City plugging along in its normal fashion on my tax dollar.  I am not amused.

Speaking of our Mayor – does he not trust Councillors to do an interview?  He turns up, uninvited, in the strangest of places.

Just Bitchin’ – Road Trip to Nova Scotia

Just got back from a fabulous road trip to Nova Scotia and Cape Breton in particular. There is a lot to tell but I’ll try to cover just the  highlights.

We landed in Halifax and rented a car (a Ford Edge – loaded).  After the much-needed 15 minutes to figure out how this magnificent vehicle worked (lots of buttons and options), we headed for St. Peter’s, Cape Breton Island where we stayed at The Bras D’Or Lakes Inn for 2 nites. Did you know that Bras D’Or Lake is the largest salt water lake in the world?????

I would highly recommend the Bras D’Or Lakes Inn – the owners went out of their way to be friendly, the service was excellent, the beds extremely comfortable and the food was absolutely yummy.  We roamed upwards to Sydney and stopped at Rita MacNeil’s Tea House in Big Pond – where, to our surprise, coffee, tea and oatcakes were “on the house”.

Our next stop was the Glenora Inn & Distillery having driven up the beautiful Ceilidh Trail, and stopping at The Red Shoe Pub in Mabou (owned by The Rankin family).  This is the ONLY distillery of single malt whiskey in Canada.  We learned that they had single-handedly (i.e. no help from the Canadian whiskey folks)  won a 9-year law suit launched against them by the Scottish Whiskey Distillers Association against their use of the word “Glen” in the name of their Whiskey.  It does mean dale or valley and the Distillery is in Glenora.    The Inn has 9 guest rooms and some cottages – the grounds are absolutely lovely and the rooms very comfortable.  The pub (dining room not yet open for the season) was just OK in terms of food but we did have music to dine by – a fiddler and a piano player whose foot stomped to such an extent I wondered if he would be rendered incapable of playing if his foot was tied down!

On up the Cabot Trail (breathtaking scenery), through Cheticamp to Pleasant Bay where we had a date with Captain Mark to go whale watching IN A ZODIAK.  We were poured into (and I mean with assistance) floatation suits.  We felt like astronauts – we even walked as if we were on the moon – and waited for our craft to return with a previous group.  Man oh Man – it was SMALL.  Seven of us went off with Captain Gilles (as it turned out Captain Mark was busy lobster fishing).  Who would have thunk we’d have 3 gentlemen from Ottawa seated behind us???  After an hour or more of pounding across waves and enjoying fabulous rock formations on shore and some intriguing sea caves, we returned to the area we started from having seen not a single whale.  A radio call to Captain Mark (who was now back on shore) to go up on the hill and look for whales resulted in instruction to “head straight out”.  We did – and there was a whole pod of pilot whales and one minke whale.  What an adventure.  The minke whale (the larger of the 2 species) glided back and forth under the rubber boat about 10 ft down – you could see it clearly, only surfacing once in a while and seen only by those who happened to be looking in the right direction when it did so.  The pilot whales seemed to be simply frolicking and enjoying putting on a show for us.  There were 7 or 8 of them and they ventured quite close (approx 20 ft ) to the boat. We happily floated out there with the whales for nearly an hour before heading back to shore – a happy group.

A special of fresh lobster and crab was on the menu for this evening – a messy but most enjoyable treat at The Rusty Anchor in Pleasant Bay.  Our hotel was The Midtrail Motel – all pink and blue with views of the ocean!

The next day we continued on the Cabot Trail through the Cape Breton Highlands National Park (we were alerted to watch carefully for moose and bear – we saw neither) – beautiful in its own way – dense forest – every shade of green imaginable and on through Ingonish and Ingonish Beach to Baddeck where we stayed at The Inverary Resort – a beautiful and quite large resort with a good restaurant overlooking the water –  more fresh lobster and a banana split that involved a banaba crepe thing and all sorts of ice-cream.  Good thing we were sharing!!

Back on the mainland we headed for Pictou, Nova Scotia.  Our “hotel” here was a delightful B&B called The Evening Sail – well worth a double mention.  We headed down to the harbourfront area and ran into none other than Peter McKay (our Minister of Defence) who was there to announce funding for a special project.  We managed a photo opp with himself.  You never know who you are going to run into when “out and about”.   Our dinner that night – more lobster, of course – was at the Pictou Lodge – a very old lodge once owned by the CN Railway – sort of a Nova Scotia cousin to Montebello.

Our last stop was in Wolfville – but I’m going to save that one for a separate blog involving my trip back in family history.  All I will note here is that the wineries in the Wolfville area are plentiful – we managed to stop at two of them!!

Speaking of wine, along the way we consistently ran into a Nova Scotia winery called JOST.  Although we never got to Amherst to visit the winery itself, their excellent wines ended up at our daily happy hours or on the dinner table more than once during our journey.

I have decided I will miss the keyless start on our rental car and I will really miss the back-up camera – loved that feature!!

If you’ve never been to Cape Breton – GO SOON!  It is just as everyone says it is – breathtakingly beautiful, friendly, welcoming, and restful.  They say you can drive the Cabot Trail in 5 hours – but I would highly recommend doing both the Ceilidh and Cabot Trails and more –  and taking your time.  Every “look-off” as they call them provides a view that just has to be admired and not rushed, the food is incredible, the artists’ studios plentiful, the beaches calling to be walked on…..etc. etc. etc.