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Bend It Like Bonchek

September 5, 2011 @ 18:51

Oh yea, he bent it, he twisted it, he made the goddamn thing dance and that's why Dan Boncheck, my good friend and trailer neighbour is the 2011 Jeff Laird Memorial Bocce Champ.

Bonchek started the day by beating my wife, and then me and then plowing through the rest of the opposition before capturing the crown that he oh so desperately wanted.

Bonny has played in every park bocce championship since its inception in 1996, but up until Saturday and never even placed.

It may seem silly to an outsider than grown men and women (mostly men, by a long fuckin' shot) care so much about a goofy little game that involves water filled plastic balls.

But not only does the tournament recognize a great friend that we all lost seven years ago, but it gives you bragging rights for a year.... And Bonchek wasted no time.

During the post tournament party on Saturday night, he was seen actually dancing with the trophy, and then Sunday morning Queen's "We are the Champions" could be heard blasting from his trailer before he walked out wearing the Golden Shoes around his neck.

Oh yea, the Golden Shoes are a pair of size 13 Nikes that were spray painted back in 1996 as the first actual emblem of the championships.

Bonchek had a lot of fun through Sunday and the early part of Monday rubbing it in.

As a former two time champion, who doesn't let anyone forget it, Bonchek tried to have some fun with me. I told him he was stealing my act.

Although I have to admit, I can be pretty nauseating when it comes to the bocce championship. I'm a lot like a Hab fan. I haven't won since 2005, which is ancient history in bocce years, but I talk like I won yesterday.

All in all it was a great day. And I should mention that Bonchek beat Jason Woolley in the final. Last year, Jason not only failed to win a game, he failed to score a point, and this year he almost zooms to the top.

A great day, a great tradition and a great group of people.

Category: The Trailer

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Tin Palace Update

August 8, 2011 @ 07:57

What can I say, like everybody else I've been amazed by the fantastic summer. It's made time at the tin palace very enjoyable to say the least.

May and June sucked, but as soon as Canada Day hit she went the other way and I've got the empties to prove it.

I don't know what the difference is between being at home and being at the tin palace, but it seems returning empties on a regular basis is a lot easier in Brampton. At the trailer I have to take them to one of those satellite return depots and if you don't have to wait for the guy, then he doesn't have empty boxes to put your loose bottles in.

That's another problem when you have a tiki bar that acts as the focal point of the park.

People bring bottles in their cooler bags and then leave them. It means at any given moment I have way more bottles than I do cases. Oh yea, it might put a few more bucks in my pocket, but handling the bottles is a pain the ass.

And speaking of pains in the ass, all is good on the rodent front. Over the past few years I've written about the mink that decided to take-up residence in my boat. He'd eat shell fish at one end and then shit at the other. It made for a terrible mess and left me looking for ways to get rid of the bastard.

It seems cayenne pepper does the trick. Put some along the back transom and when the little prick tries to lift himself into the boat he takes a full nose full.

Last week I mentioned Mr. Bold. It's a young raccoon that's been frequenting my end of the part lately and he doesn't give a shit about anything. If he wants something he just comes and gets it. Last week we're were literally pushing him away with a broom as he tried to get at a bowl of peanuts that were on the tiki bar.

This week we didn't seem him. I know it sounds awful but maybe there are others in the park that aren't as tolerant. Maybe he ended up with a bullet between his eyes.

Oh well.

A few years ago the raccoon problem in the park became so bad that the park manager performed a culling in the fall. Apparently it was a massacre, but it sure as hell made life easier for a couple of years.

Other stuff - as usual the trailer comes with some emotional attachments every year.

We're a pretty tight group up there and have grown into one big family, so when somebody leaves or somebody's kid gets married it becomes quite emotional.

We've had both this year. First of all, my buddy Bruce, he was at the park before I got there and we've become very good friends. At the end of last year, for a number of reasons, he decided that his time was done and he moved out.

His site is still vacant and it bugs the crap out of me. I still can't even walk by his site because it makes me so heavy hearted. He's a good and generous fella who hosted many a good time at his place.

I had more than one perfect steak off his barbeque.

Marriage? Young Ryan Kimber got married back on July 9th. This has particular significance for us because all through the 90's and the early part of the new millennium Ryan and my son Danny were best buds.

They spent all their summers together, inseparable and free as birds.

But there we were a few weeks ago watching Ryan walk down the aisle with his beautiful bride missy. It just couldn't be. Where does the time go?

Last weekend we all had our hearts in our throats again as both Ryan and Danny came up for the weekend and they did a couple of the things they did when they were kids.

Most notably go to the "jumping rock" where they spent many hours not so many years ago.

Our friends Pete and Sylvia had a fish boil one night and that was fantastic. I did a huge beef tenderloin on the barbeque another night and that was superb and I've finally perfected boneless chicken breasts on the barbeque.

They cook so fast and if the heat is too high you dry them out in no time. Here's a tip, throw them on the grill medium heat for a couple of minutes on each side until they have that barbeque look. Then put them on the top shelf to bake. Take them off as soon as the pink disappears.

Juicy.

That's it for now. I don't want to go on too long. From now on, instead of waiting so long before entries and I'll update you more frequently.

That's if you give a shit

Category: The Trailer

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Off To The Tin Palace

August 5, 2011 @ 19:07

It was a great week.

I was back in the big smoke livin' full time with my darlin' again, and as I write this Delyse is busy getting our shit together to head up to the tin palace, for a nice relaxing weekend.

I know what you're thinkin'... relaxing? Where's does an unemployed guy get off talkin' about relaxing?

Hey, everything is relative to your situation and right now my situation calls for a couple of days at the tin palace with some great food and great friends. I'll be back on Sunday night ready to give er' on Monday.

And I also promise this. One of the more popular features of CanadianThinker.com has been my postings about "The Trailer."

I've been a little lax that way again this summer even though some over the top whacky shit has happened, including a hail storm that dropped hail stones literally the size of golf balls.

And I mean it. Everybody also uses the golf ball term but these were literally the size of golf balls.

There's a been a raccoon that keeps comin' back every night, and he's such a prick we've named him "Mr. Bold". He thinks he's owns the fuckin' place.

But that's enough for now. I'll bounce back on Monday with a recap of the trailer season so far, including what happened this weekend.

It will include a bottle of Bell's scotch so I'm hoping there's a happy ending... but you never know.

Category: The Trailer

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The Trailer - Week Four

June 27, 2011 @ 16:48

Sorry people, no update this week because this weekend was spent at the Tragically Hip show in Bobcaygeon.... and Brampton.

How was the concert? Great. From a distance. I didn't venture down into the mud bog and left just in time to avoid the problems they had emptying the park.

I got to see the HIp live on Tuesday night at a 600 seat venue in downtown Peterborough, so I could afford to cut my Bobcaygeon night short.

If you want to see some great pictures from the concert, go here.

Category: The Trailer

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The Trailer - Week Three - The Flag Pole

June 21, 2011 @ 08:45

What a great Father's Day I had. Both my kids made their way up to the tin palace on Saturday and didn't leave till late Sunday.

Danny's girlfriend Shawna was there also and she choked me up by giving me a Father's Day card with a very nice note inside. It meant a lot.

My kids also gave me nice cards... and booze.

But I gotta tell ya, outside of the cards and gifts the weekend was emotional from another standpoint.

It's hard to believe, but Sunday was the fourth Father's Day since we lost my dad back in '08..... and it just so happened that the flag pole at the end of my dock needed some fixin'.

Over the past couple of years the winter hasn't been kind to my dock and the flag pole is actually the extension of one of the legs. It got pushed onto an angle and it looked pretty sad, so on Saturday when Danny arrived, he and Melanie and I went to work.

I should explain that the flag pole was given to me by my dad back in 1993, the year after I bought my first tin palace. That first trailer was more like a tin hut.

My dad thought that my original dock would be perfect for a flag pole, so on one of his many visits to the trailer he brought one. It's steel conduit with collars in two places making it about 20 feet high.

Before Dickie brought it up, he drilled holes at the top for a pulley and he put one of those things near the bottom that you wrap the rope around. He painted it silver and gave me the first Canadian flag.

Every year I think of my dad when I raise the flag in May, and lower it in October. My dad was thrilled to give me that flag pole and I've made sure to maintain its respect and integrity every year.

This year was a bit different however. We got a late start to the season, the dock had got pushed around by ice and snow and not only was the flag pole on an angle; it had also lost the rope.

Over the past couple of weeks I hated looking at it. It wasn't worthy of the spirit attached to it, but there wasn't much I could do about it without help. Somebody had to lift the dock while the other person pushed the leg straight.

While I stood at the back of the dock, Danny lifted while Melanie pushed. Bingo! It did the trick; she was straight as an arrow and instantly noble again. We installed new rope, clipped on a new flag and Dickie's significant contribution to the tin palace was back in business.

It really is a wonderful thing. I don't think I'd ever be able to put into words what that flag pole means to me. Every time I look at the lake it's there, a reminder of a great father who took so much interest and pride in the little things... like bird houses and flag poles.

I'll be honest; when he first brought the flag pole to the trailer I didn't think that much of it. It was appreciated, but I never dreamed what it would mean in the years to come.

It's become a symbol that I can't imagine ever parting with. In fact I've often thought about that, if I ever leave the park, that flag pole is coming with me.

Yup it was a great weekend and fixin' that flag pole with my two kids, on Father's Day was the capper. Dickie adored Mel and Dan.

Dickie also loved the Kawartha's and he loved the trailer and as long as that flag pole stands, he will remain a big part of it.

Love ya Dickie.

Category: The Trailer

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The Trailer - Week Two

June 13, 2011 @ 15:46

What can I say, the weather blew hogs again. Fortunately, I was only at the tin palace for slightly over 24 hours this weekend.

My beloved son Daniel turned 26 on Friday so my wife and I, along with Danny and his lovely girlfriend Shawna went out for sushi in Brampton. It's great place on Kennedy Rd. just north of Brampton called Japan Buffet or Sushi 168. They seem to go by both names.

$19.99 all you can eat, which includes soft drinks and dessert.

On Saturday we awoke to the usual grey skies and threatening rain and thought we'd stay in "B" town. But as the day wore on, Delyse felt increasingly guilty about not being "up north" to help with preparations for a Jack and Jill shower that's taking place next Saturday.

So about two o'clock we hopped in the car and headed for Burleigh, with weather reports from on-site friends that it was warm and sunny.

Fat chance - by the time we arrived at Lovesick it was miserable, raining, breezy and cool, the typical shit for this spring.

We sat around and watched the Jays hammered and then I barbequed some chicken for dinner.

By this time the rain had stopped so we salvaged some of the day by sitting by a fire and shootin' the shit till about midnight.

Sunday morning? Surprise, more shitty weather. It was spitting rain till about then, and then that gave way to variable cloudiness, mostly clouds, high winds and disturbingly cold air.

Regardless, I got some things done. Cut and trimmed the lawn. Helped my buddy Jerry put his Sea-doo in the water, and then we launched my boat for the first time in two years. I never got around to it last year 'cause I got sick of the filthy mink that's been shitting in it for the past few years.

Despite her advanced age, my skiff started right up and performed well during the 500 yards between where she was launched and my trailer. It was too windy and cold to enjoy a ride, so I headed right for the dock and took about three runs at it while swearing at the wind and November like conditions.

It was shortly after this episode that I said to Delyse "let's get the fuck out of here." So we packed up and headed for home.

I wish there was more to tell you, but there ain't. It was quiet weekend. A lot of the regulars did the smart thing and stayed home.

This coming weekend should be good. As I mentioned earlier, we're celebrating the upcoming marriage of another one of the trailer kids with a Jack and Jill that will no doubt end at the Tiki Bar with everyone whacked out of shape by midnight.

I'll take some pictures. But not of my "Weiner" if you know what I mean.

Category: The Trailer

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The Trailer - Week One

June 7, 2011 @ 08:45

I promised I'd do a better job of updating the "trailer" posting this year, and I'm going to keep that promise.

Thanks to unbelievably shitty weather, this past weekend was actually our first at the tin palace this season, and that meant lots of catch-up work.

There's always raking, and pruning and planting to do, but this year I had to re-board the floor of a deck that I built a dozen years ago.

I tell ya, I'll never make that mistake again, I'll never use anything but pressure treated lumber when I'm building something.

Back in 1999 I thought it was a good idea to save a few bucks and built the lower portion of my tiered deck in untreated spruce. The plan was to treat it every couple of years, but being the fat ass lazy prick that I am, I never got around to that.

Spin the clock ahead to 2011 and there I am with a bunch of my buddies ripping the top off a deck that would have needed no maintenance if I had spread cheeks and used pressure treated in the first place.

The upper part of the deck was built in 1992, with pressure treated, and it's still fine.

On the upside, these building projects at the trailer always re-enforce the special bond that we have up there. If there's a job to be done, everybody shows up in the morning with their tools and we get 'er done.

Other highlights of the weekend. Delyse got the flowers planted, we decorated the tiki bar and as usual, had a couple of great meals.

Given our middle aged digestive systems, we've backed off the red meat quite and bit and have been preparing a lot more fish lately. Salmon and the such.

The boys got together on Saturday night and watched the hockey game and Sunday we hung out in the glorious sunshine and marveled at the wonderment that is Lovesick Lake.

Working close to the tin palace means I get to spend a lot more time up there, and waking up Monday morning to a mirror like lake, the sound of a loon and the warm sun reaffirmed that when the conditions are right, there's nowhere else in the world I'd rather be.

Another great thing about the "family" we enjoy at the park is watching the kids grow up. Not mine, other peoples. Mine are done with the growing things.

It's fun to watch the other kids change from year to year and listen to some of the great things they have to say.

Like my eight year old neighbour Josh Bonchek, who told me when he gets a bit older he's going to take over his parents house and put them in a "nursery" home.

Until next week.

Category: The Trailer

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The Trailer - Walk Around

April 16, 2011 @ 10:10

On the subject of the trailer - Tuesday afternoon was beautiful so I got in my car and drove the twenty-five minutes north of my office and did a walk around.

Holy cow people, talk about organic medicine. That first stroll the park blows big time wind through your sails. It's a new beginning and you've got to suck it all in as soon as you can because the season always ends in the blink of an eye.

I'm happy to report that once again my unit wintered well. No leaks, no sags, no mice.

I have some work to do on one of my decks, but I've myself to blame. About ten years ago I decided to go with untreated spruce instead of pressure treated. What an arshole move. The 20 year old pressure treated stuff is still going strong.

The Tiki bar is still standing. A little rickety by nothing a few three inch deck screws won't fix.

My dock dips on one end, but again, no big deal, my buddy Jason will put on his wet suit one day and kick out one of the feet and she'll be as good as new.

It's a fabulous time of the year.

I had a surreal moment while I was there on Tuesday. I stood there in the deafening silence, all alone and I looked around.

Soon there will be life, laughter and a lot of love.

The seven month serenity will soon be cracked by the greatest bunch of people on earth.

Category: The Trailer

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The Trailer - Week One 2010

May 27, 2010 @ 08:23

A few of you have asked about my trailer updates and why I haven't written anything yet?

Well here's the deal. I didn't go up until Sunday of the long weekend, and I went all by myself. The trailer will be playing second fiddle to my sweet daughter Melanie who's getting married in September.

It's only May, but already there's a ton of crap to do and my wife Delyse has thrown herself into the project with exceptional glee. There will be a lot of weekends this summer where we'll have to stay at the base camp in Brampton and do neat stuff like look at flowers and decide what centre pieces to use.

If you've ever been through this, you get the drift.

On the flip side, I'm a pretty lucky guy. Helping the run what is the Corus Peterborough Radio Empire has me located just 25 minutes from the tin palace on a Monday - Friday basis - so its there whenever I want it.

However, in case I forgot to tell ya, and assuming you give a shit, I decided to keep my apartment in Peterborough over the summer, so I actually have three residences at this writing.

It means on those occasions when I have something to do in town, like a dinner or a golf tournament or just socializing, I can "walk" back to the apartment and not worry about driving up highway 28.

But let's get back to "The Trailer - Week One."

I packed up the car in Brampton on Sunday and set off. On the way I stopped off at the Farm Boy in Peterborough and bought myself a big honkin' T-bone. Over the past couple of years we've been eating a lot less red meat so every so often its nice to pig out on a big piece of cow.

When I arrived at the tin palace I realized the benefits of showing up late into the weekend. My neighbour Gerry had already cut my lawn and cleaned up all the goose shit that's become an aggravating part of spring.

They need to be snuffed.

Having this looked after I immediately sprung into action. I got a couple of the fellas help me put the room on my add-a-room, and then removed some outdoor furniture that spends the winter indoors.

I raked some leaves, cleaned up some stuff behind the trailer, cleaned out my shed and then gave the inside of the trailer a through going over. You know, wiping, dusting and cleaning.
These events took me right into the early evening and it was time to spark up the Webber. She wintered quite well and fired up on the first click.

With the initial lighting I like to crank it up to high and let it burn for a good half hour.

This gets rid of all the cob webs and old grease and guck that's hardened during several months of inactivity. Once she's real hot I take the wire brush to her until I'm sure she's not gonna give me some bacterial disease.

Who decided that barbeques are female?

I'd like to report that post steak and potato dinner that the night got wild and we were all hootin' and hollerin' around the tiki bar to the now Canadian cultural up-north soundtrack that is the Tragically Hip, but that didn't happen.

The Tiki Bar wasn't together yet.

Instead, somewhat exhausted I stretched out on the futon in the add-a-room about 8:45, and the next goddman thing you know it's 11:45. So I wander inside, flopped onto the bed and stayed there till 7:45.

Breakfast consisted of a peanut butter and banana sandwich and I washed it down with some shitty coffee. It's the only kind my shitty coffee maker makes. I don't know what it is about the bastard, no matter what kind of coffee I run through the prick, it comes out bitter and flat.

Time to splurge and buy myself a trailer Tassimo.

After breakfast I did some more rakin' and sweepin' and wipin'. In fact after the steak the night before, I did a lot of wipin'.

By late morning it was time to tackle the Tiki Bar. I got my buddies Gerry and Dan to help me install the roof, while my other buddy Jason re-worked the wiring so it wouldn't be life threatening anymore.

After the roof was in place I started stringin' the lights and this became very frustrating because more than half the strings didn't work. The parrots didn't work, the walleye's didn't work and neither did the sandals.

Lucky for me, I had a new string of pelicans, beer steins and Toronto Maple Leafs.

I enjoyed stringin' the Leaf lights because it was just hours before the Montreal Canadiens would be eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs. It made me think of next spring when the Leafs most assuredly will win the Cup and I'll probably watch all the games at the Tiki Bar.

Decorating a Tiki Bar is time consuming. By the time I was finished it was late afternoon and my good buddy Dan Bonchek offered to grill up some burgers. It was perfect timing.

Nice juicy burgers and a wonderful salad whipped up by his wife Tracey put Freddie P. in a good mood.

I washed it down with some ice cold water and thought about the rest of the evening.

I was dirty and grimy and tired so instead of having a shower in my trailer, which features a puny eight gallon hot water tank, I decided to head back to the apartment in Peterborough for a long hot one.

And that's what I did, and whilst in the shower I concentrated on feet. They get real dirty in crocs.

Afterwards I was zesty clean and ready for some NHL action. When I flipped on the Habs / Flyers game it was 1-1 early in the first period.

I laid back on the couch and enjoyed every minute.... of the highlights.... I fell asleep well before Coaches Corner and had to get the glorious result and highlights on SportsCentre shortly after midnight.

I got up of the couch and went to bed. I had to work in the morning.

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Beautiful Girl

January 10, 2010 @ 10:18

If you frequent this blog often, you know that a large part of my life deals with a trailer that sits on a beautiful lake in the Kawarthas.

This coming year will mark our 19th summer in this little piece of paradise, and like most of the others in the park, once the New Year hits, we start counting down the days until the second Saturday in May when we "open up" for another season.

Unfortunately, this summer will be a bit different. It will require a transition for quite a few of us because we lost a good friend over the holidays.

I don't mean to be overly dramatic because I'm sure a few will find it odd that I'm talking about a dog, but this was a special dog. This was a dog that was part of the trailer fabric, a dog that had been around for 17 beautiful years, a dog that everyone loved.

Her name was Jo and belonged to my next door neighbors, Tracy and Dan.

Actually she belonged to Tracy well before she belonged to Dan, because Tracy and Dan didn't become an item until a few years after Tracy had bought Jo to be a companion in the new house she had bought.

From what I understand, Jo was a handful at the beginning. She liked to chew things and she liked to run away. In fact Tracy once told us that way back when, when Jo would run away, she actually hoped she wouldn't come back.

She was kidding of course because Jo turned into a quite the mutt, obedient, loving and extremely loyal. You've heard of invisible fences, well Jo had an invisible leash that was tied to Tracy's ankle. They were inseparable. Tracy was always in Jo's line of site and followed her everywhere.

Even when Tracy would go out on the water her Sea-Doo, Jo would run up and down the shoreline waiting for her to come back.

Needless to say, a lot of us fell in love with Jo, me in particular. Somehow along the way I bonded with this dog and she'd show her affection for me by literally putting her paws around my neck while I was sitting and then she'd put her head on my shoulder.

Sure, it might have had something to do with the bag of jerky-treats I kept in the trailer, but this dog had more depth than that. She was genuine.

She was also a great friend to my dog Billie. Billie was born after Jo, and died before Jo, but in between there was a special connection between these dogs that I've never witnessed before.

When we'd arrive on a Friday night I'd let Bill out of the truck and she'd immediately look for Jo, and they'd go through a bizarre ritual. Jo would growl, Billy would become submissive and roll on the ground, growling Jo would put her jaws around Billy's neck, softly of course, and then they'd jump up and take off never to be apart for the rest of the weekend.

It was a wonderful relationship. Most mornings when I'd get up, Jo would lying outside our trailer door waiting for Bill to come out.

When Billy died back in 2007, one of the hardest parts for me was going back up north and having Jo look for Billy.

Good dogs don't happen by mistake. They're an extension of the people who raise them so that tells you something about Tracy Calderone.

I haven't talked to Dan or Tracy yet and to tell you the truth, I don't think I'm ready for that yet. Seventeen years is a long time to have someone in your life so I imagine they're busted up right now. Hell, I'm busted up. I don't think I could get through the conversation.

I can only offer this. It's what I told myself after Billie died.

Dogs have short lives and the day you get them, is the first day of setting yourself up for guaranteed heartbreak. When they go you just have to keep thinking of the good things, the good times and the special moments.

And thanks to "our" wonderful Jo Jo, Tracy and Dan have a ton of those.

Category: Friends | The Trailer

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