assorted ramblings of the flashman...


Boat Trailer Blues

Yesterday my family and I went to the Dickson Dam Reservoir for Keilan’s second birthday party. We’d purchased an old boat from my brother last year, but it needed a little engine work. We finally had it fixed and were excited to try it out. The only thing that sat heavy like a lump in my stomach was the thought of the dreaded boat launch and backing up the trailer with a whole bunch of people waiting on me and watching.

I have very little experience backing up with a trailer and I knew I should have practised more. We got to the lake and I was happy to see that there was almost no one there. I thought to myself, “This might not be so bad.” With no one waiting on me, I can take my time. We got the boat prepped to launch, and by that time there were a couple vehicles in line to launch their boats. We got in line and by the time it was my turn, there must have been ten vehicles behind me. The lump in my stomach became a lead brick.

I started to panic a little bit inside. I tried to back up the trailer too quickly and it did not go well. After my third attempt, someone in line behind me came up and asked if I needed some help. I said, “That would be great,” and he patiently came alongside me and walked me through backing the trailer down the launch.

I decided right then that I was not going to pull that boat out of the water until after every last trailer was gone from the parking lot. That way I’d have lots of time and no pressure.

We had a great day at the beach with a couple other families. My plan of waiting until everyone else left was coming along nicely until the thunderstorm started to build in the West. The thought of five kids on the beach or sitting in their seats in the van during a thunderstorm while I waited on all the other boats to leave wasn’t a good one. I waited as long as I could, but the wind and the waves came up quickly and we finally had to get the car in line to pull the boat out of the water.

Backing the empty trailer down was even worse. I tried to go slower this time, but I couldn’t see the trailer out the back window. Again, I knew I should have practised in an empty parking lot before we went out. After a number of failed attempts, another person from the line behind us came and helped me get the trailer down the ramp.

I’ve learned my lesson. Never again until I practice, practice, practice!

The Annual Christmas Tree Hunt

Last weekend we were invited out to the Sundre, Alberta area by some friends to find a Christmas tree. This is something that we’ve been doing for the past few years and it’s become somewhat of a tradition in our family which we look forward to with great anticipation each year.


There’s just something about taking the kids and driving away from the hustle and bustle of the city to spend the day with friends and their children. Life and work in Calgary just gets too hectic and it’s easy to forget the important things in life. Sometimes we just need to stop and take a break and spend time with the ones around us that we care about.


Last year when we went, it was very cold, so only my eldest son and I along with most of the other adults went hunting for the ideal “Charlie Brown Christmas tree.” The rest of the kids stayed inside, supervised of course, and they still had a very good time.


This year, the weather was much nicer so all the kids came along to find the trees. The kids got pulled on tobogans and they had a blast.

I think the highlight of the whole afternoon came after finding the Christmas trees. We went back to the house, shared a meal together and watched 14 small children instantly become friends. Granted, they weren’t all strangers to each other, but it’s amazing to watch how kids can walk up to one another, introduce themselves and just play. Somewhere along the line we seem to lose that as adults with all of our responsibilities and hang-ups.


The bottom line in all of this is that life is just too busy. Take the time to slow down and spend some quality time with the people you care about in your life. It doesn’t have to be going out and cutting down your own Christmas tree (although if you have kids, I’d highly recommend it). Spend some time with your loved ones doing things that you all enjoy. You won’t regret that you did.

Kudos to the Alberta Children’s Hospital

A few weeks ago my wife and I noticed that our 3 month old son had an inguinal hernia. We knew we’d have to have something done about it eventually, but since it didn’t seem to be causing any problems, we were in no particular hurry to subject him to surgery. We took our son to see his GP, and she wasn’t concerned about it at all. She did refer us to a pediatrician for an unrelated issue that turned out to be nothing.

When we saw the pediatrician, she said something would have to be done about the hernia and started the procedure of referring us to a surgeon at the Alberta Children’s Hospital. The hospital would phone us when they were ready for us to bring in our son for a consult.

On Thursday afternoon however, things became a little more urgent and my wife ended up taking him to the emergency room at the Alberta Children’s Hospital here in Calgary. Now, I’m not a big fan of the medical system. I think as a society we tend to intervene a little too much in the body’s God given ability to heal itself. That being said however, it definitely has its place and I’m quite thankful that it’s there for those times that it’s really needed.

My wife stayed at the hospital with our son from the time he was admitted on Thursday afternoon, until he was discharged late Saturday morning. The doctors and nurses at the Alberta Children’s Hospital were very supportive and you could tell that they really care about the children and the families under their care.

Dr. Mary Brindle and her team who performed our son’s surgery were very good. They made sure that we understood what was going to happen and the associated risks involved. When the surgery was complete, Dr. Brindle came to talk to us to let us know that it went very well and that there were no complications.

Our son is back to his normal, happy self and we are quite glad. I would like to offer a great big kudos to all the doctors and nurses at the Alberta Children’s Hospital. Thank you so much for being there and for the caring work that you do.

Race (Ethnicity) in the US Presidential Race

I have been watching the commentary following the US Presidential Election with some interest. My wife is an American and the US is afterall Canada’s biggest trading partner. Being involved in the business world, I also realize that the US economy has quite an effect on economies around the globe.

The one thing that seems to be at the forefront of all the post-election media coverage is the fact that President Elect Obama happens to be of African American descent. I haven’t travelled throughout the US very much so I don’t really have a first-hand view. This coverage leads me to believe that racism must still be a really big issue in American society however, more so than in Canada where slavery never developed to the extent it did in the US.

It would be difficult to tell how much of a role ethnicity played in the vote itself, but it sure is getting a lot of press now. With the election finished, the other issues seem to have been put to bed.

Personally, I believe President Elect Obama ran a much better campaign than Senator McCain. I would hope the American people were able to get past the issue of race or ethnicity and vote on the issues at hand.

Regardless of the effect race or ethnicity had on the vote, I really believe that the candidate with the strongest campaign won in this case. No matter which candidate came out victorious in this election, the top man in the Whitehouse has quite an uphill battle over the next few years with issues such as the economy and the “War on Terror” to contend with.

It’s going to be an interesting four years.

StoryBook Theatre

If you’re a fan of theatre and the arts and you’re looking for a family-friendly activity in Calgary that is enjoyable for children and adults alike, StoryBook Theatre may be exactly what you are looking for.

Being the parents of five small children ranging in ages from 3 months through 9 years, my wife and I are always on the lookout for things we can do as a family. We found out about StoryBook Theatre from a friend who emailed us a copy of a poster for the Cookie Cabaret presentation of “The Fisherman & His Wife.”

The Cookie Cabaret performances are held at the Community Arts Centre on the Old Currie Barracks in StoryBook Theatre’s Easterbrook Theatre. These presentations are geared toward ages 3 through 6, but if the one we went to see is any indication, they are always fun for all ages. The “Fisherman & His Wife” was a very interactive production and was very professionally done. The set was painted very tastefully in bright colours that would appeal the the kid in any of us.

More recently we took in the Adventure Theatre production of “Harriet’s Halloween Candy.” The Adventure Theatre presentations are held at the Pumphouse Theatre and are for ages 6 through 12 years. We found that both our younger children and we ourselves enjoyed this one as well. Like the Cookie Cabaret, the set was bright and colourful, and was quite tastefully decorated. The performance was top-notch and included live song and some choreography.

StoryBook Theatre is definitely a family-friendly, fun-filled time and is worth checking out.

You can find more information on the StoryBook Theatre Web site here: http://www.storybooktheatre.org/

Emerald Lake Lodge

Two weeks ago, my wife and I visited Emerald Lake Lodge, one of the hidden gems of Yoho National Park. Located about 20 minutes West of Lake Louise near Field, BC, the historic Lodge graces the edge of beautiful Emerald Lake.


We had stayed at the Lodge in the winter time close to ten years ago as young married’s and since then, it hasn’t lost any of its almost magical qualities or charm. The main lodge, built in 1902 from hand-hewn timbers is surrounded by romantic cabins complete with balconies, wood-burning fireplaces and beds more comfortable than any I’ve ever experienced at a hotel. Whether looking out from your room, the dining room at the main lodge or the lake-view outdoor hot tub, the breathtaking views over the lake are second to none with the majestic Rocky Mountains as a backdrop.


The cuisine offered from the dining room is nicely presented and very tastefully prepared. Dinner selections are based largely on various types of game and the next morning’s breakfast buffet offers a wide selection with something for every taste.

A pathway around the lake makes for a nice walk at around 5 km with additional trails branching off from it for the more avid hiker. Various wildlife can be seen throughout the area and the natural beauty of the area abounds everywhere.

One of the nicest things about staying at the Lodge is that the rooms do not have televisions and there is no cell phone service in the area whatsoever. I left my Blackberry in my suitcase and was very shortly glad to forget all about it. We spent our stay with no distractions, enjoying each other, the great service of the Lodge’s staff and the beauty around us.

The Emerald Lake Lodge is definitely a place that we’ll visit again and again throughout the years to come.