Archive for October, 2004


Nothing is built on stone; all is built on sand,
but we must build as if the sand were stone.

Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986), Argentine writer

October 15. Friday.

It all began yesterday. I called a roofing contractor named Nick from Extreme Roofing in Thornhill to come and fix the valley in the roof. It was not urgent and he was called with a week’s notice and agreed to be there, rain or shine, to do the work. Thursday came and went, and after at least a dozen calls there was no sign of Nick, even though at 11:30am I had called to confirm the guy was coming and he assured me that it was all good. My wrath holds in check for vengeance against this little shit. So late last night, the day before we are slated to move I finally get hold of Howard from Canadian Roofing who tells me he will be here no problem at 9am. He was. He came, he fixed, he got paid. However, 9am was when the movers, Noble Moving, were supposed to be coming. Cue the audience groaning as the 9am deadline came and went. I did however get a phone call from the dispatcher telling me that their truck had broken down (um, ya, sure) and that they would not be there until 2pm. I guess it had broken down in someone’s driveway and they were filling it with stuff while awaiting the mechanic… So anyway, I passed the rest of the day by packing practically everything since we really hadn’t packed much before then and spending time on the phone listening to my banker and my lawyer complaining about each other. It got to the point that the lawyer repeatedly hung up on the bank forcing the bank manager to call me with a “No fair… Tell him!!!” Once I told them all to stop behaving like children and sort the stuff out they finally agreed to stop calling me to pass notes for them. This was shortly followed by a call from the lawyer saying the purchaser would not close the deal until he had the receipt from the roof work. He then proceeded to ask for additional receipts for work we had done to which my lawyer told him to F*@% off. The deal finally closed at 4:58pm.

Oh yes, the movers. They finally decided to show up at 2:30pm with the wrong truck and no idea what I was talking about regarding their breakdown. They did a walk through the house and it was blatantly obvious (despite the fact that I told the dispatcher when I ordered the move to provide their BIG TRUCK) that they were not going to be able to fulfill their function with the existing equipment.

Go and get the other truck you frigging idiot.

They returned about 30 minutes later with a bigger truck and moving guy number 3. 6 blindingly slow hours later they arrived at the new house only to find that lo and behold the people moving out hadn’t. At least not quite. By the time that Nicole and I had gone to the lawyers office to pick up the keys (FROM THE MAILBOX!!!) since our Realtor had decided to go out to dinner instead of performing his final function, the other family were gone and our intrepid guys were already loading the garage with our stuff. We instructed them to take the furniture inside and leave the rest of the stuff (hereafter referred to as crap) in the garage. This would be the quickest and easiest thing all round and would mean that we could go through aforementioned crap at a slower pace and distribute it to its rightful place at a later date. As it turns out, this meant me on Tuesday as I waited for the cable guys to show up. So, 8 hours later and almost $1000 poorer we were finally ‘in’ our new house. Of course you couldn’t have squeezed toothpaste into the garage it was so full, but that was OK. I shudder to imagine how big the truck would have had to be to accommodate the skip full of garbage we threw out in the weeks preceding the move. In all there was approximately 400 cubic feet of garbage that we threw out, or a skip about the size of 2 SUV’s.

So we were in, after a horrendous day of mistakes, phone battles and lying SOB’s and there was obviously only one thing left to do… Order Chinese food!

Huge (American) Pants

Huge Pants

The truth is more important than the facts

Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959), US Architect

October 8. Friday.

So off we went, extremely tired and bleary eyed into the rush hour traffic of Cleveland in search of a TJ Maxx store from where we hoped (and succeeded) to get our free Olympic Gymnastics DVDs. It was in this store that I was reminded just why exactly I love going to the USA. Huge Pants. I have recently been on a search for anything in Canada sized at an XXL or larger. My search to this point has been futile other that ‘specialty’ stores which manage to make me both embarrassed and angry at the same time. In no other place will people openly celebrate your uniqueness and readily strip you of all your money than in George Richard’s Big and Tall. Their philosophy seems to be “Hey fatty, you’re a jolly guy, let me charge you twice as much for these ridiculously large pants.” The only solution – Go to the States where not only do you not need to go to anything as ludicrous as a “Big and Tall” store to get clothes for the XXL, but you can find racks and racks of the same clothes everyone else is wearing but at appropriately immense sizes. Now I am not complaining because I can’t get clothes to fit, but rather that I just can’t find baggy clothes to enable me to move around freely while coaching gymnastics. But TJ Maxx to the rescue… I was in XXL heaven and managed to snag some wonderful shorts not only in the right sizes, but also at about 30% less.

“Y’all are gunna see me agin reeeeal soon” I thought to myself, massive pants slung over my shoulder…

We departed Ohio en route to Erie Pennsylvania where we dropped into a local grocery store to stock up on Red Bull (not that cheap!) and goober (they didn’t have my flavour). $71 later we started out on the final 2 hours to Niagara Falls and our next stop, the Travelodge at the top of Clifton Hill. This particular hotel promised a Jacuzzi in the room and proximity to the Casino and the Arcade which I loved last time I was there. We arrived in the early evening and decided that the Casino should be our first stop and while Nicole headed straight to the main Casino, I headed to the Arcade first to revel in the Blackpool tackiness that I was raised on. After about 45 minutes of coin drop, skeeball and whack a mole I turned my winnings into a cute furry Tiger and headed for the den of iniquity. I met Nicole at the doors and since she was not carrying a large bag over her shoulder with “SWAG” written on the side I determined that her search for the jackpot had been unsuccessful. We headed inside and while she went once more into the jangling alleys of glittering machines, I headed for the cool green tables of the Roulette wheel. It didn’t take long for us both to exhaust our predetermined stashes and so we decided it was time to get some food and headed back to the hotel to ask about the proximity of the Red Lobster. It was all you can eat shrimp and I wasn’t going to miss that… The only thing better is the all you can eat crab legs which I will happily go for several times when it finally returns. We hopped in the car and headed to the restaurant, Nicole happy to finally get her hands on more crab legs and I was delighted to have nonstop garlic shrimp delivered to me seemingly at will. It was 90 minutes later when they wheeled us out in a wheelbarrow and poured us into the Jeep.

The room was a sight for sore eyes since those who know me best are familiar with my complains about not having a bathtub in which to spend lazy hours. There was a tub right in the room, not in the bathroom, but right in the room with the bed from where you could watch TV. Needless to say this hotel at half the price of last night’s took my vote by far. Even though we have bought a house with a soaker tub and are only a week from moving in, there was no way I was passing up the opportunity to soak my aching back. Eventually I dragged my wrinkled but happy behind into bed and was probably asleep before my head even hit the pillow…

The next day was a dose of reality… We left at 6 again in order to get back to the city in time for coaching stopping only very briefly to say hello to two very sulky cats and to grab some clean clothes. After coaching was done I think we both spent the majority of the day either sleeping or complaining about how tired we were. Suffice to say that we did not spend the day packing, a decision that would come back to haunt us as the week wore on.

In Fact I Just Did!

I’d drive 5 hours to see Carly Patterson…
In fact I just did!

Courage is resistance to fear,
mastery of fear
– not absence of fear

Mark Twain

October 7. Thursday.

5 hours in a car sounds like a lot, but if you are on your way to see Olympic Champion gymnastics it is a small price to pay. We left our place at about 6am hoping to beat the traffic and motored along the 407 making it almost to Niagara Falls before either of us were really awake. To my horror (or misdirection) I missed the Triscuit factory once we crossed the border and ended up doing a little loop around some very ugly neighbourhood in Niagara Falls USA to get back on track. The traffic started to get thicker as we approached Buffalo, but we found out it was actually due to an accident rather than rush hour and within moments we were heading across I90 towards our first stop at the Service Station. We passed through the tolls and the familiar countryside of rural New York passed by with alarming speed. We crossed over into Pennsylvania and after what seemed like an eternity (PA always passes slowly for some reason) we reached the Ohio border and set our sights on the home of the Browns.

Our hotel was located very close to the highway and was actually joined to a shopping mall which in turn was linked to the Gund Arena via a pedestrian tunnel meaning we could get there and back without having to go outside past the peddlers and crowds waiting at the bus terminal. We decided that first we would check out the facilities, having noted that they were claiming to have a pool and workout facilities but as it turned out, both were fairly disappointing which led us to decide that the Cleveland Renaissance would not receive a repeat visit from us. Back in our room we relaxed for a while then decided to head out and get a coffee and a snack at the coffee shop across the street which turned out to be more of a head high counter from where they dispensed cups so you could get your own urn brewed coffee… Tim Horton’s is was not, nor indeed the Dunkin’ Donuts equivalent for which I was hoping. We wandered up and down Ontario Street for a few minutes in an effort to get our bearings and to locate the Gund Arena from the outside which we were able to do after several wrong turns. The weather was nice, however we elected to spend most of the afternoon cruising the mall and having some lunch at the Japanese restaurant in the food court. We found an Abercrombie and Fitch and both discovered that their clothing was not favourable to either of our body types and that the reason so many people wear their stuff is still relatively a mystery.

Evening came quickly and with plenty of time to spare we set off for the arena. Once there, we managed to sneak in the camera without a problem but then discovered that Nicole had forgotten to bring her glasses… So with 45 minutes to go, we scampered back to the hotel, retrieved the glasses then hunted down the nice guy who let us leave only to have the camera discovered… Typically as it turns out in Ohio good naturedness, he told us we would not be allowed to use it, but let us go ahead with it anyway. The seats, as I had hoped, were front row center, in fact if we had been any closer we would have been in the show. We were so close in fact that Dominique Moceanu had seats 2 rows back from ours!

The show itself was just spectacular and if anyone has a chance to go see it I would highly recommend it. Even though I have been around gymnastics and high level athletes for a long time, some of the things these young women were doing were nothing short of astounding. There were both artistic and rhythmic gymnasts, male and female, and also trampoline Olympic Champions. Of course, Carly Patterson was there much to the delight of the screaming girls in the crowd, and even though the Hamm brothers were not there, Jason Gatson’s arms made up for it. There was much floor work, some bars and beam and some incredible work from the guys with two hanging panels of material which they used like a mixture of rings and something out of Cirque Du Soleil. There was also a touching tribute to three wonderful Special Olympics gymnasts whose determination and obvious enjoyment was a real treat. I have to say for me the highlight was seeing Carly Patterson do her Olympic floor routine since it was such a dramatic sight in Greece. Seeing her up close like that is probably the closest I will get to seeing the Olympics themselves and it left an indelible impression in my memory.

It was late by the time we got back to the hotel and knowing that we were going to be leaving at 6am there was only one thing that we could do – order pizza!!!