Sunday, July 08, 2012

Summertime And The Living, Its Easy, Well, Easier

When I was growing up summer meant going to camp, which in Northern Ontario means the cottage. Except for camping trips in even more remote locales (impossible to believe but true) we spent most of July and August up at our log cabin by the lake. Except for two years ago when Mom was sick my folks have spent the majority of each summer up there for over forty years. Last year they got up there for just over a month, it was heaven to them after the previous summer spent in town, in doctors' offices and the hospital. They headed up a couple of weeks ago and nobody will see them until September except the odd time they come out.

A simple life it was back then.

Here in the city the word camp has a different meaning. You send your kids to camp. Day camps in the city or camps up in the Muskokas. For born and raised Torontonians its what you do. For us its something we haven't gotten our heads around. The two oldest went to bike camp for a week last summer but this year we've got them doing nothing. The boy is playing soccer once a week. His older sister has no interest in it. So that's it. The rest of the time we're hanging out.

 Which is fine. We have enough activities through the school year to keep us busy and things are hectic enough as it is. We went to a wedding last night and realized that after a couple of years where we (Jenn and I) had worked at getting out on dates and having romantic dinners once a month we've gotten into a bit of a rut. It just happens. Work and kids and all of the obligations that happen and suddenly six months have past and while its been a good six months its gone by in a flash and you're drifting. Our eleventh anniversary is in two weeks and so I've booked a room at a quaint inn in Charlottetown and we're going to do some daydrinking, play some pool, get dressed up fancy and go to dinner and all of that good stuff. Necessary.

 Now some of this business has been great. We went to Florida and Jenn went to Qatar for work for two weeks. Some of it has been, what's the word, the necessary clutter of modern life. The lease was up on the van, we had to take care of that and bought a new one. Our mortgage had to be renewed (one piece of advice - put money down on that sucker if you can in the beginning, before you have kids. We put 10000 down one year before the babies started happening. Knocked nearly five years off of it, just like that. Another piece of advice, make sure she comes first. That's all I've got. That's all you'll need.) - ten years down, ten to go and now the end is in sight for that. Great feeling.

 We were talking to a friend who has not had kids yet and she talked about her days. She naps a lot and a lot of the time she does nothing. We tried to remember what it was like before we had kids. Can't really remember much of it. There was more of the sex and the drinking and that good stuff. And a lot of doing nothing. I wouldn't trade the kids in for anything but sometime the thought of doing nothing ... wow. Can't even imagine it.

 So that's the plan for the summer. With us the season rushes by pretty quickly. There is always a week up north with my folks and we always drive out east for two and so there are four weekends right there. Jenn has to work a few weekends and so we usually look at the calendar and are surprised (its the same every year, we're always surprised, not sure why that is) to see that we have one, maybe two, weekends where nothing is going on.

The long weekend was one of those. Great weekend? Perhaps greatest weekend, when all was said and done. We had barbeques with friends on three of the evenings, eating and drinking our fill, talking and laughing as darkness fell and the kids ran wild, school days already forgotten for them. Beer and wine and charred meat and fresh vegetables and a cheese, a cheese!!!, that you can barbeque. Catching up and stories of times passed and plans made for times to come. Three wonderful nights.

The kids had an enormous waterfight with a whack of their friends on the street. We sat out in the boulevard with neighbours in the shade one day, shooting the breeze and drinking cold beer, the bottles sweating in the heat. Took the kids out for Korean food to celebrate the end of school one evening (their decision). Mornings spent lazing around, coffee on the porch, Tim Pat Coogan's biography of Michael Collins. Some time spent writing and some time spent together in the black hot night, sheets thrown aside, fan whirring, streetlight sifting through the blinds.

A grand start to what, just a week in, is shaping up to be one of the greats.


The free agent frenzy has not been so frenzied this year. The chill from the labour talks maybe? The increasingly shallow pool of free agents? Its been muted and the number of deals that are headscratchers are few. That may change with so many teams near the floor, we may see goofy deals thrown at the flotsom and jetsam as teams push to get to the minimum.

Of course with a cap at seventy million one can even look at a deal like Dubnyk's and shrug. 3.5 per year is goofy for a guy with so little time under his belt but he's a starting goalie and isn't a starting goalie worth five percent of the cap? Especially a guy whose numbers are pretty good for a shit team? That's the thing, at seventy million if you have a quality guy at five or under its a win isn't it?

Having said that the Petry deal is out of this world, of course I would bet on him cashing in big time in two years if he keeps going the way he is right now.

Its been an odd summer for sure though. Luongo and Nash and Ryan are all sure to be traded but so far its been more of a phoney war than anything when it comes to movement and so one wonders what, if anything, the Oilers are going to do. Looking at the roster its clear, once again, that this team, for all of its young talent, still needs help. The question is whether or not the plan is to go with the status quo and hope that a) Whitney is healthy and b) Khabi can get it together for this season or if insurance is going to be brought to Edmonton in each case. I wouldn't mind a bit of help up front but they're set up the middle and on the wings as well unless the plan is to send Paajarvi out again or to move someone for a Dman. I think the plan up front is just to let the kids grow.

If Whitney is the Whitney of two seasons ago than the D, while green, is the best its been in a while. Even if he is (and with those ankle and foot issues its tenuous at best) one would think that if a guy like Streit can be brought in then all the better.

As for Khabi well one can hope that he suddenly finds his usual contract year magic. There's very little out there in terms of goaltending, Christ maybe Yann Danis is in the range of many of those out there anyhow, but if Khabi gets into thirty games then probably the playoffs will be a distant bell.

They probably are anyways even with the much improved goal differential of a year ago pointing to better days ahead. With Schultz and Yakupov added to the mix, another year for Petry and Dubnyk and Hall and Eberle and Ted and Paajarvi to grow, a healthy Hemsky (knock on wood), things are looking up and I would presume the club makes a move in the standings.

But man a guy like Streit would sure help. And if he (or someone like him) can be gotten on the cheap and the deal for Lubo seems to point to the value of a guy like this as just that, then I think its time.

Streit - Nick Schultz
Smid - Petry
Whitney - Justin Schultz

That almost looks like a real NHL calibre D corps. Actually scratch the almost.


Anonymous said...

Hey man, nice summer by the sounds of it. We're just breakin into good weather out here on the west coast.
It's funny though reading your musings, we're bringin up our 3 boys, and mirroring a lot of the experiences that you write of.
I made a bet this week with a flames fan, he pissed me off so I bet a bill on the flamesfinishin last in the NW. I think my beloved Nucks are easy winners, Minny should easily finish ahead, Col always overachieved, so that leaves the Oilers.
I figure this year they jump. Betterbe the case, thoughts?
- billy -

mrzael said...

On vacation from Edmonton here in York in he UK. we' off to Dublin this AM for four days in Ireland. I read your blog regularly and today's matches the mood perfectly for these lazy days of summer. I shall raise a glass of Guinness for ye. brave day to you.

Max Powers said...

Your talk of feasts and drinking make me feel warm and fuzzy like a Tolkien story.

And your damn right that looks like a good solid NHL d corps. Ridiculous to think they would even think about giving a spot to Klefbom (rumors) and having 2 rookie D when, as you said, quality veterans can be had for cheap.

Black Dog said...

Hey Billy, every year it looks like the Flames are going to fail but they keep hanging in there. They still have a lot of quality vets. If they trade Bouwmeester then I could see them starting to really slide and even with him its possible I guess but really I think they are probably still better or on par than the three younger teams. At least for now.

Oilers and Avs are still the weakest although if the Oilers get good health for Hall and Whitney from the get go and Dubnyk can carry the mail then I think they move up. Finally.

Black Dog said...

Max - yeah I would leave Klefbom in Sweden for one more year, then ease him in next year. No rush. Bring in a vet who can play top four.

Mrzael - damn I'm jealous, I've been to York as well. Great place.

Not sure how long you are in Dublin or if you'll be online before you leave but here are some pubs you should check out, if you can. All within a short walk of the centre of it all:

Stag's Head
The Long Hall
Brazen Head
John Mulligan's on Poolbeg
Davy Byrne's
Dawson's Lounge

First six are all famou sold Dublin pubs and Dawson's is a riot.

Also check out the Ha'Penny Inn if you can. A personal favourite of mine.


mrzael said...

Thanx BD. stopped at Davy Byrnes and Stags Head(best ever) and finished up at O'Niels for Dinner and live music. this city is fantastic..the energy, the pubs, every twenty feet I think and lots of pretty girls. off to Cork today.

Bruce said...

Tell me more of this barbecued cheese. rksksca 24

Bruce said...

This damn Captcha is even tougher to pronounce than it is to spell.

Black Dog said...

Mrzael - jealous. Sounds liek a great trip.

Bruce - its called 'halloumi', you throw it right on the grill, that's about all I've got, I just ate it ;)