Friday, 26 June 2015

Preparing for Retirement?

It's 9 a.m. 26 Jun 2015 and I'm relaxing on the deck in my back yard, reading The Moon and Sixpence by W. Somerset Maugham and enjoying the fresh air and the sunshine dappling the trees and thinking a bit about life. I'm obviously off today, winding down my Class A Reserve time for another month (this means I've been working 14 days a month). In July I start full-time employment for another 2 and a half months, then from mid -September until 10 November, when I retire, I will be back to working part-time.

The back yard on a sunny morning
I started my Friday off about 6 a.m. with a short morning walk with the dogs. They objected to being awakened but I do like my morning routine. Jo was asleep, having finally fallen asleep a couple of hours before. The dogs had a small breakfast after their walk, then headed back to bed with Jo while I went for a morning run. I prefer running in the morning, less traffic and it's kind of peaceful. After my shower, it was about 7:30 and since it was nice and bright, I thought I'd make a pot of coffee and headed out to the deck. The dogs followed me down but decided that it was still much too early and Clyde headed back to bed with Jo. Bonnie stayed for a little bit, shared my digestive biscuits (3 as per my fashion) and then she headed back upstairs too. Because she can't or won't jump onto the bed, she probably curled up in her own bed.

The rest of the deck and our little rose garden down below
While the rest of the family slept, I gathered the books I'm currently enjoying and settled into one of our deck chairs and enjoyed the morning, my coffee and my reading. Of course, in the winter, I'll have to enjoy this past-time either with a lie-in in bed or on the couch downstairs, but I think I can handle that. A morning run two or three days a week, and then a relaxing couple of hours of reading to start the day, maybe followed by a Blog entry, then at 11ish, the dogs get another walk and then lunch. Sounds pretty darn perfect.

Morning visitors checking to see if there are snacks left over (No)
Around 9, I had visitors, who are adjusting to what might become a new routine. They are used to having a long lie-in with Mom in the morning while they wait for me to come home for lunch. Still not sure how to adjust when I don't go to work. Of course, Clyde missed snacks because he decided to go back to bed rather than wait. But they did receive a carrot slice each. They look very sharp now that they've received their summer haircut from Leela. Pictures to follow.

Our yappy bundle of nerves, Clyde, quiet for the moment
As I write this, Clyde is curled up on a pillow beside our computer table in the den. They were outside just a short time ago, making sure there were avian interlopers in the back yard. This is one of their self-directed responsibilities, another being to bark at the neighbours anytime they come near the back yard.

Our lovely lady, Bonnie, always so serious.
Bonnie is probably lying down on the half landing, either licking her back feet or keeping an eye on the front door making sure we don't get any intruders.

So anyway, if this is what retirement will be like, I think I'll enjoy it. Another half hour of reading, hoping to finish my Maugham book, then it'll be time to take the dogs out. Enjoy your weekend!

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Reminiscences of a Military Brat - Part 9 - A Move to Ottawa, just a waystation

In my last post, I talked about my time in Lahr, Germany. I finished Grade 10 there and in the summer of 1971, it was time for the Dumoulin clan to return to Canada. My Dad was transferred this time to our Air Force base at Uplands, Ottawa, Canada, in the nation's capital. We flew back to Trenton while our furniture from Lahr returned by sea and our other furniture, which had been in long term storage for the past three years, also was shipped to us from Chatham, NB. Volksie, my dad's car, also came over by sea and I think was shipped directly to Ottawa.

Ottawa turned out to be a relatively brief way-station on my Dad's military career. We stayed just one year and were then moving up the highway to where it had all begun, North Bay, Ontario. That's the subject of my next entry. I don't have many memories of Ottawa. We lived on base at Uplands, on Sampson Drive, in an end-unit, three bedroom row house. Dad added a nice picket fence to spruce the place up. It was a nice area, as I recall, woods all around, shielding us from the main highway. Nearby was a Drive-in theatre.  I do remember spending some evenings, when we didn't actually pay to go to the drive - in, sitting outside the fence and watching the movie, catching the odd word from some of the speakers attached to the car windows, until the black flies got too bad to stand and I would head back home.

John went to school on the base as there was still an elementary school there. Because I was in high school, I was bused downtown to one of the Ottawa High schools. There were a few to choose from, so not all the military brats went to the same school. I went to Brookfield High School, the closest high school to the base. From my perspective, it was huge. I had never attended such a big school. I think Lahr Senior School had about 300 kids and Brookfield had somewhere over 2,000. Needless to say, I did find it somewhat overwhelming. The nice thing was the variety of courses I could take. I liked languages, continued with German and French. They didn't have Latin, which I had taken in Germany, but they did have Spanish, so I had my first year of Spanish there. I dropped Geography and History like hot potatoes, as I had never enjoyed them, instead taking an Intro to Law course. And then the other basics, Physics, Math, English... I did enjoy the PE program, learning rugby for the first time and they even had a rowing facility down the road at Dow's Lake, which was fun. But other than that, my memories of Brookfield are minimal.

My mom was also working at this time, she found herself a job at the Post Office just down the road from Brookfield. She had worked at the Post Office in Chatham when we were there and I know she enjoyed working again. There was no Base Theatre at Uplands, but Dad worked at the hockey rink, I'm pretty sure.

I didn't continue with Air Cadets, mainly due to laziness. I think the Squadron was downtown and I didn't want to be busing over the city at night, once I'd returned home. I did continue with curling, there was a small Teen league on the base and we had lots of fun. I fondly remember our overnight funspiel we had one weekend, starting at midnight and finishing at 8 Saturday morning. That was a blast! One of the neat things about the Teen curling was that it was run by Earl Morris, who has most recently made such a name for himself coaching a number of Canada's best curling teams. Hey, maybe we had a positive influence on him. :)

I had good times hanging around with my friends Bart Munn and Brian Wolstenholme, over at their homes, listening to music; my introductions to The Magical Mystery Tour and Rick Wakeman's Six Wives of Henry VIII. I did get to see my first professional baseball game while we were in Ottawa. Dad took me to Montreal to watch the Montreal Expos play against the Cincinnati Reds. Steve Renko started for the Expos and I got to see Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan, the Expos future; Ken Singleton and others. The Expos lost 13 - 3, but it was a fun afternoon; I loved it. I did go to one other game, my cousin Denis Dumoulin, took me on the bus to Montreal. There was supposed to be a double-header against the Mets; with Tom Seaver and Jerry Koosman starting for the Mets. Unfortunately, it got rained out.

It was nice to be close to our relatives, my dad's brother Rene lived in Ottawa, so we did visit a few times with them.

But once again, we were on the road after a year; this time to my mom and dad's ultimate retirement location, North Bay, Ontario. My dad's military career finished there and I kind of got mine started.

More next time.

One last thing to say and that is Happy Father's Day, Dad! Thanks so much for everything!

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

A Trip to Ottawa and Kingston - Jun 2015

We just got back from our short trip to Ottawa and Kingston. The purpose was to attend our daughter Jennifer's law school convocation at Queen's University, Kingston, ON. I have to say it was one of our most successful trips; travel-wise, that is. We've been on many excellent vacations previously, but the flights and car rental and hotel bookings that Jo made this time made the trip that much more enjoyable. We flew overnight from Comox to Ottawa, last Wednesday, arriving in Ottawa, early Thurs morning. After a brief scare that my suitcase hadn't made the flight with us (it turned out that the conveyor belt had simply jammed up), we went to get our rental car.

The rental car was upgraded from a Toyota Corolla (none available) to a BMW SUV by our friendly Enterprise rep; quite nice once we got used to it. We never did really figure out how to use the usb, mind you. We met Jenn at her flat in downtown Ottawa and also got to say hello to Martin before he headed off to work. After a brief relax, neither Jo and I had slept that much on our flight, we spent a couple of hours looking at apartments and condos, part of a possible future investment with Jenn. Then off we went to Kingston. I thought maybe I could avoid some of the rush hour traffic in Ottawa by taking a bit of a roundabout way out of Ottawa, which turned out to be the wrong decision. It ended up adding an hour at least to our trip. I did have to switch with Jo about half way to Kingston as the jet lag and lack of sleep finally caught up with me. The B&B we stayed at in Kingston, the Hochelaga Inn, was very nice and comfortable and the breakfasts were both tasty. Friday was the convocation and it was a nice, relaxed affair. It was held at Grant Hall, which you can see in the background of the photo of Jenn and I. Afterwards, we celebrated with an excellent Italian meal at Casa Domenico's, so tasty and really not all that expensive.

I did manage to squeeze in a couple of visits to Berry & Peterson Booksellers and found a few books as well. (More on that later) All in all, it was a very nice visit to Kingston.

We headed back to Ottawa, dropped Jenn off at her flat and checked into our hotel, the Albert at Bay Suites, just a few blocks from Jenn's place. Once again, Jo had outdone herself; comfortable room, free parking and excellent rates. It was a nice place to crash. We spent the next two nights visiting relatives; Saturday we took Jenn and Martin along as we went to dinner at my brother's place in Aylmer, enjoying a relaxing evening of good food and conversation. Sunday the same group went to see my nephew, Patrick and his fiancee, Lindsay and enjoyed another relaxing evening, eating, chatting and playing cards. On Sunday, during the afternoon, Jo and Jenn once again went out looking at houses and I wandered up to the Book Bazaar, another nice book store, with an excellent mix of books and found myself a few more books. Of course, I did have to carry them all back to Comox on Monday, but it was worth it.

Our trip home was short and relatively comfortable. We went right out and got the puppies from the boarding kennel. I think they were very happy to see us. This was only the second time that we've left them there longer than just a day of doggie day care. They both needed baths in the worst way and they've been a bit quiet since we got them home, but I think it was a good experience for them and for us. They definitely need haircuts now, the baths have left them very fluffy as you can see from Clyde's photo above.

Anyway, onto book purchases. As I mentioned I did find a few books, including a couple of interesting collector pieces. I've talked a fair bit up to now, so I'll try to limit my book list mostly to pictures of the books and book titles. So here we go

1. Necronomicon, The Best Weird Tales of H.P. Lovecraft - I have been looking for a long time for books by H.P. Lovecraft. I had previously found 4 paperbacks of his stories. I saw this commemorative edition of a number of his stories at Berry & Peterson Booksellers. I didn't know if I wanted to spend as much money as they were asking but on my second trip to the store, since it was still there waiting for me, I had to purchase it. This edition was published by Gollancz of London, 2008 and a number of his stories. I will do a special Blog on my Lovecraft books in the near future.

2. The Best of Saki by H.H. Munro - On my Goodreads main page there is a recommendations section; basically, trying to provide other book recommendations based on my previous readings. Well, anyway, that's where I heard of Saki, a British writer, H.H. Munro, who wrote a short stories under the pseudonym of Saki. I added it to my list, just in case one of the books stores I visited had some of his books. Lo and behold, Berry and Petersons had a special edition of his short stories, published in 2007 by The Folio Society.

3. Lost in a Good Book by Jasper Fforde. This is the second book in the Thursday Next series, an entertaining fantasy mystery. I found this at Book Bazaar.

4. Various books by Graham Greene. Over the last few years, I've been searching out the early books by Graham Greene. I read a few during my university days and recently have begun to enjoy them again. I found these three books at both book stores, some of his early works. One is fiction and the other two are travel books. (1) Journey without Maps, originally published in 1936, a story of his travels through Liberia, Africa. This edition is from Compass Books and was published in 1961. (2) The Lawless Roads, originally published in 1939, about his travels through Mexico. This edition was published by Penguin books in 1971. (3) England Made Me, originally published in 1935, his most ambitious pre-war novel. This edition was published by Penguin books in 1973.

5. Concrete Island by J.G. Ballard (SciFi) - I've collected quite a few books by J.G. Ballard. He is definitely one of the more unique writes of SciFi I've ever read. The Concrete Island was one of his earlier works, originally released in 1974, after Crash and just before High Rise. (I see another feature writer in a future Blog)

6. Classic Mysteries. I found these two mysteries at Berry & Peterson's, two mysteries by a couple of the classics of the genre; Dorothy Sayers (Lord Peter Wimsey) and Georgette Heyer. The Unfinished Clue by Heyer was originally released in 1934, this edition by Panther books in 1971. This was her third mystery. Have His Carcase by Sayers, was originally published in 1932; this edition by Penguin Crime in 1963, continues the adventures of Lord Peter Wimsey.

7. Contemporary Mysteries. I've been collecting and planning to read Frances Fyfield's Helen West and Sarah Fortune novels (she is on my list this year). This is the second Sarah Fortune mystery, originally published in 1994. Meg Gardiner is a new author for me; Kill Chain being the 5th book in the Evan Delaney series, originally published in 2006.

8. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss (Fantasy). I didn't buy this book, rather it was given to me by Jenn and Martin as a Father's Day prezzies. This is a relatively new fantasy, originally released in 2007. I'm looking forward to giving it a try, especially since I'm caught up with the Game of Thrones books. At the moment there are two books in this series.

9. Modern Classics - Voyage in the Dark by Jean Rhys. I started collecting Jean Rhys' stories when I saw them listed in the back of another book, I think one by Somerset Maugham. This was originally published in 1934, with the featured edition by W.W Norton and Company released in 1982.

10.  Classic Pulp Fiction - The Mask of Fu Manchu by Sax Rohmer. As a kid I read many of these series, Doc Savage, Conan the Barbarian, John Carter of Mars. I've since begun to enjoy the Mr. Moto and the Modesty Blaise adventures. I've only recently begun to find the Fu Manchu books; I think the first two at one of my Victoria book stores.  The first book, The Mystery of Fu Manchu was published in 1913. The Mask of was released in 1932, with this edition published by Star Books in 1977.

11. The Trojan Horse by Hammond Innes. Innes is another of those authors I've never read before. Once again, I saw this book listed in the back of one of other thrillers, probably one by Alistair MacLean and the story line sounded very interesting. I saw this copy at Book Bazaar and it was in reasonable shape. Originally published in 1940, this Pan Books edition came out in 1955, the year of my birth, so it only seemed appropriate that I should get it.

12. Classic Poetry - Selected Poems by T.S. Eliot - I needed a book of poetry for a Poetry reading challenge in Goodreads. I do have a few of the classics on our bookshelves, but I remember reading The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T.S. Eliot in high school and thought this book might suffice. I was able to read it during our flight back to Comox. While I readily admit I don't really get poetry, I did like his style and descriptive skill. This book was published in 1961 and also featured his classics, The Wasteland and The Hollow Men, etc.

So there you go, highlights of our trip back east. It was a nice trip, but as always, it's always great to get home. Now back to work tomorrow.. :)
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