Monday, January 25, 2010

How quickly things can change (part 2)


Why is it that I want to start off so many of my posts with "When I was younger"? I suppose it's because I'm at a point in life where more time is behind me than ahead of me, which begs the question - who's bright idea was it to start keeping track of time? It seems we now have far too many devices reminding us of the sometimes slow, but more often than not the rapid slipping away of time. There's the simple clock, then there's the stop watch, the GPS counts down to a destination, and the treadmill counts down the time to the end of a work out. I imagine some cave man way back when came up with the concept, I'm not really sure. All of these thoughts were running through my mind last night as I made my home from a truncated ski trip in Vermont. After some initial hesitation and upon resolving some "leaving work for 3 days in a row guilt issues", we left for Stowe Mountain Lodge mid-day on Saturday, about a 6 hour drive. Sunday morning we were up bright and early and ready to ski on what looked like an absolutely perfect day. As the gondola took us closer to the top of our first run, I sensed that Dave was getting a little tense from the height and from the comments being made by the other occupants of the gondola. The first picture is of Dave in the Gondola with the mountain in the background. When we got to the top the views were spectacular, and the conditions were perfect. I guess I didn't pick up on it, but I guess Dave was a little nervous about the trip down, a feeling I remember from younger days (about 25 years ago) when I first tackled Mansfield mountain with a group of co-workers from ComputerLand. Dave started off snowplowing, which was smart, which seemed like a good way to ease into the slope. As his confidence increased, his speed picked up, and quick as a flash he rolled and tumbled somewhat unceremoniously into a jumble of skis and poles. I really didn't think it was a bad fall, and encouraged him to get up, but it quickly became apparent that he had injured himself. After getting him out of harm's way, I made my way to the ski patrol to get him brought down the last 100 feet or so for an evaluation. After a preliminary check up, the EMT suggested that we go to a little urgent care clinic where A very nice D.O. took some x-rays and encouraged us to head towards a hospital with a staff orthopedic surgeon. Dave was feeling pretty good, so we drove to Kingston General Hospital where a crack team of very friendly and capable nurses, doctors and students quickly assessed his injury and recommended surgery. It was like we were on the set of General Hospital. It turns out Dave had an injury that is fairly common to skiers, and as it strangely enough, Tiger Woods, as well. So, later this week, David will be going under the knife to have a piece of bone screwed in place, putting his plans to run a half marathon in February on ice. The mountain was doused in the same rain storm that flooded parts of Ontario today, so perhaps this ski trip was never meant to be.

Monday, January 18, 2010

How quickly things can change

A week ago tomorrow the sun came up on Haiti as expected. People went about their business as they would on any other day in a Caribbean nation, albeit a nation plagued with more than their share of political strife and poverty. And then, without warning, deep beneath the earth, the Caribbean Plate shifted like a bear twitching in his sleep. In Canada, news of the quake started to appear on the evening news, but it wasn't until Wednesday morning that the total destructive force of this event started to sink in for the rest of the world. But for Haitians, the impact on their lives was immediate. Many were killed instantly, many others were trapped and/or injured, and most were bed-less, home-less, food-less, water-less and hope-less. Back home in Grafton, a fan gave out on the furnace that provides heat to the building where we house our reservations, marketing, human resource and finance departments. The temperature plumetted to a bone chilling 16 degrees. Oh horror of horrors! Some people were so shocked by this dramatic event that they were barely able to work. Emergency calls were placed to get electric heaters strategically placed, but this only made matters worse as the increased demand caused a circuit breaker to trip, plunging one printer into darkness! More screams and cries for help. I lit a fire in a fireplace that hasn't been used since this office was used as a residence, only to be subjected to complaints about the burning smell coming from the fireplace. GIVE ME A BREAK! As each day of the Haitian crisis goes on, I can't help but reflect on how blessed, and yet utterly spoiled and self absorbed western society has become. As we go on with our lives wringing our hands over the crisis in Haiti or the war in Afganistan, or the famine in Africa people just like us have no bed to sleep in, no clean drinking water, no idea where their next meal will come from, no lights to turn on at night, nothing simply because of where they were born. According to a Haitian relief organization recently featured by Ste. Anne's (The Starthrower Foundation), 12% of the world's population use 86% of the world's resources. Even the record setting financial aid that is being promised to Haiti works out to less than a toony per North American. Surely, in this age of wealth and technology if we all put our heads together, we could find a way to fix the world, regardless of the challenges thrown at us from time to time by "mother" nature. To give, click here.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Back on the farm


I was raised on a beef farm, where I acquired a taste for red meat, and a disdain for farm chores, But strangely, while I still love to eat beef, I have developed an interest in farming. Last night, I had a real craving for a steak. Luckily for me, I own a spa and my chef, although he is a vegetarian, humours me, (and the vast majority of our mostly carnivorous guests), by always offering a nice cut of meat on our dinner menu. However, I felt like I needed a night out, so three of us bundled up and headed to a newish restaurant in Port Hope known as the Black Bean. A couple of years ago, I lamented on this very blog that eating out in the Cobourg/Port Hope/Grafton area wasn't full of great choices. Well, all that has changed with The Black Bean, Zest, The Northside, two Thai restaurants, a Chinese-Japanese joint, and a handful of other great eateries. At the Black Bean, I opted for beef carpaccio to start, and the rack of lamb as my main., both of which were delectable. Luckily the two others joining me had steak, one of whom shared a bite with me, while the other let me finish his frites. If you're right up to date with your reading of the musings of this spa guy, you'll know that I bought the Grand Champion Steer at the Roseneath Fair this past fall, and put him on the menu at Ste. Anne's. I sampled a piece of tenderloin from "the Champ", and it too was delectable. All of this part of a plan to bring locally grown, well aged meat to our guests. All too often, when we shop the meat aisle at the local super market, or bite into a piece of meat, we are oblivious as to how that piece of meat came to be. So, back on the farm at 9:00 this morning we had our local vet down to the barn for a "farm call". I wanted a professional to have a look at our small fledgling herd of beef 10 cattle so that we could make sure we were doing all the right things to produce a superior product. I was absolutely blown away as to how quickly this vet took hold of the principles behind our beef program, and at the quality of advice he was able to give us with a view to making sure the meat that ends up on the plates of our guests will be flavourful, tender, good for the end user, and delectable. We spent the better part of two hours learning about tips for handling livestock, living conditions of the cattle, the kind of and frequency of feed and water, the butchering and aging process and the best breeding practices. It left me energized and enthused about the potential for a Ste. Anne's brand of local, naturally raised beef.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

2009 To-do list

I have piles of paper on my desk, in my desk, to be filed, to be read, to be shredded, magazines to be read and to be opened. I just can't seem to bring myself around to finding the time to go through it all. I've hired various part time assistants to help me, but invariably they find other more pressing things to do, and even when they get around to trying to organize my piles of files, it just results in more piles and the prospect of sitting down with them to go through it all. Then there is the electronic stuff; the mountains of emails, word files, excel files, folders upon folders, and pictures (so many pictures) all kept because I might need to reference them some day. And then there are the duplicates! Today, as I tried to make some room on my desk for a writing pad, I came across my 2009 "to-do list". I took a few minutes to go over it, and was pleased that more than half the items on this particular list could be checked off. However, this was just one of many lists I made in 2009, and not one of these lists really captured the essence of what I really should aspire to accomplish in a year, each was more a glimpse of the tasks that were on my mind on the day the list was compiled. When one thinks of how precious life is, and what great things can be accomplished if we set our minds to it, the piles of files become quite insignificant. One thing I do do is that if you don't get to something, over time it probably wasn't that important to begin with. None-the-less, I was pleased that I had accomplished some of the tasks that I had on that particular list. At this time of year, we tend to want to make changes, to start fresh, sometimes awakening to the reality of how quickly time goes by and how much time we waste doing quite meaningless things. Over the weekend, it was next to impossible to get a time slot on one of the cardio conditioning machines at the spa, as eager exercisers were busy implementing their new year's resolutions. I expect the machines to be free again early next week. Happy New Year!