First boat trip into camp since last fall.
Silliness isn’t always funny, but sometimes you have to laugh anyway.
I chuckled last week when I received an envelope in the mail addressed to me at 107 Dick MacKenzie Blvd here in Sioux Lookout. I get mailings at that address every once in a while (thank goodness we have dedicated postal workers who, like the RCMP, always find their man).
Bureaucracy demands answers that fit in the boxes.
A few years ago I bought a remote lot on a lake, accessible only by boat during open water season, and snowmobile during winter. The closest road and the closest electric lines are several miles away.
To construct a simple cabin required a building permit from the town. One stipulation of the permit was that the cabin be wired to code for electricity the same as an urban year-round full time residence. Although I protested that I didn’t want, nor intend, to have electricity - indeed, it would be nearly impossible because of the distance from existing transformers - I ended up complying with the regulation, at a cost of nearly $10,000. That, of course, increased the book value and the yearly taxes, for a feature I didn’t want. One explanation to me was that in the future somebody might buy the place and want electricity. I sighed with relief, happy that the writer of the law didn’t assume that a future owner just might want a swimming pool.
Once all was said and done, I must admit the wiring is a nice touch. I installed a modest solar system that runs a few lights, a small sound system for music, and plug-ins to charge phones and laptops. Heck, last year I even hoisted a chandelier, complete with dimmable lights, above the dining area table.
But here’s the silly part. Once the electrician had finished his job he had to make an application for a provincial inspector to come approve it. Part of that process entailed a phone call to southern Ontario headquarters to complete the inspection application paperwork.
The first part needed a street address. Despite considerable explanation that there was no street, therefore no street address, the southern holder of the pen that fills out the form would not budge. She insisted that the form had boxes to fill in that had to have that information. She could not conceive of a house without a street.
So, VOILA! How many people have a boulevard named after them?
It took another day, and a second person, though, to complete the form. The woman who finally got what she needed to fill in the address boxes balked real hard when she came to the section that needed the location of the source of electricity and was told there was no source because we weren’t putting electricity in. She couldn’t fathom that, and absolutely refused to sign a form without all the boxes filled in the way she thought they ought to be.
Eventually, everything worked out. Sometimes after dark I flip the switch to light up the chandelier, and I sit happily in the dim glow, and I smile because the ambience is pretty nice and I know somewhere in the mail an envelope addressed to me at my own private boulevard is on its way to Sioux Lookout.
Oh, by the way, last year we built an outdoor picnic shelter beside the cabin. I ostentatiously call it the White Pine Palace, but it’s basically a glorified beach umbrella - some posts in the ground that hold up the roof, and a wooden floor. No walls, windows, doors, or anything like that. Just a pleasant open air shelter where we can sit in the shade on a hot day and take cover from the rain on a stormy day.
We just got our latest MPAC assessment. The good folks at that office have never visited our site, but they have declared my palace to be a two-car garage with a pretty hefty value, although the nearest road is miles away and there has never been a car there, nor will there ever be.
We made a call to the MPAC office and they had an explanation. You see, they have this form with little boxes that have to be filled in…
I’ve been observing the best squirrel yet – let’s call him Alfie – all afternoon. He has been hanging around the deck for hours, herky jerkying on the deck and along the rails, twitching and spasming like a cattle prodded robot, tormenting the dogs, tantalizing Monkey, the cat, and in my face, a foot away, challenging me to a game of chicken through the wine glass on my elbow table.
He enters the live trap, within arm’s reach of where I sit still as a bug, unable to drink my wine while he’s so close, and licks the peanut butter from the trip pan as he sneers at me a split second before leaping from the cage and flying to a nearby poplar tree branch, two feet and a half second ahead of the jaws and claws of my bodyguard, licking the goober goo still smeared on his bandit lips.
As soon as the dogs lie back down, Alfie reappears, claws scratching out loud on the vertical uprights as he spirals up and down a dozen of them, like stripes on a barber pole, until he gets to the flat surface of the lakeside bar upon which he jumps and thumps making drumbeat noises with his nails on the surface. I sit silent, two feet away, eyes bugging out in wonderment. The dogs stare in astonishment as the assertive little clown revels in his deviltry, enjoying every moment.
Part way through the afternoon I went inside to rub the ribs I was preparing for the barbeque and while in the kitchen heard the trap doors slam shut. Surprisingly, I didn’t feel happy about that. Alfie had been a wonderful entertainer for me. And my dogs. And the lazy cat.
I pondered some options. Instead of driving Alfie over to Squirrel World where a dozen of his friends from my yard have reunited during the past two weeks. I could simply open the doors and let him scurry out to resume his life here in my tool shed. Maybe I could encourage him to eat peanuts from my hand. With some coaching, perhaps he could learn to wear a tiny Mexican sombrero and ride around the yard on Boomer’s back. I wondered if squirrels like catnip.
Nah, that would be selfish. Probably the kindest, most generous act would be to surprise a friend by dropping off Alfie on his porch in the middle of the night. Let George enjoy the animal antics of the little guy.
No squirrel has ever escaped from my trap. Never. But, when I stepped outside to have a word with Alfie, there was the trap, doors shut tight. Nobody home.
Alfie entertained us for another couple hours, including one more Houdini session where the trap closed up sans my buddy, while I was inside preparing potato wedges to join the ribs on the grill.
The cool of evening eventually drove all of us indoors and as night’s darkness closed in I still had not decided what to do with Alfie. Of course, it was not exactly my decision to make, as Alfred the Great was still roaming free, probably snugged up like a ball in a shredded tee shirt in back of the cupboard in my tool shed.
Wedding April 24, 1982 in the lakeside living room of Ken and Madeline Robins at Ojibway Baits. Paddy Houston performed the ceremony.
Honeymoon night, third floor suite, Sioux Hotel.
Reception, barbequed chicken in the front yard of our home at 40 Lakeshore Drive.
Snow devils gallop across the lake as ribs, rubbed right, rest atop slow smoke in the barbeque. It's spring!
April may be the granddaddy of all seasons in Sioux Lookout.
Despair is close at hand for morning wakers of gloomy days. Those of joy revel in the fragile early days of the season, soaking up the beauties of the winter-to-summer transition.
This is a season to celebrate. One day is warm and sunny. The next may be windy, cold, and harsh. But they're ours to enjoy as we dance our way to the magic of June ...