The long backside of winter

14 Jan

And away we go! The Christmas decorations are packed and stored. The tree has been banished to the back forty. And now we begin the long coast down the backside of winter. On the plus side, the solstice was but a few weeks ago and the days are already getting perceptively longer. However, the readings on the hamlet’s digital outdoor thermometers still start with a negative sign. That’s why, deep in the depths of Dunvegan, residents eagerly await distractions like the Dunvegan Recreation Association’s Potluck Supper and Annual General Meeting.

The get-together is scheduled for Saturday, January 17th from 5:30 to about 8:00. And it’s well worth noting that, as it’s NOT an election year, you can attend with virtually no chance of being coerced into volunteering against your will. It also means there’s time on the agenda to liven things up with a guest speaker. This year, Jim Mullin, Chair of the Glengarry Pioneer Museum’s 1812 Re-enactment committee, will talk about his secret life as a historic re-enactor and give us an inside look at the re-enactor’s world through a series of slides.

Like the Association itself, the AGM is a family affair. Children are welcome to attend, assuming a parent or two accompanies them of course. The way it works is that folks usually show up at the DRA Hall (19053 County Road 24) around 5:30 PM for “social time.” Then, at 6:00 PM, the food is uncovered and the hungry hordes snake their way down the line piling their plates with homemade mains and sides. Appetites satiated and coffee and dessert before them, the crowd settles down to a brief business meeting at 7:00 PM, followed by Jim Mullin’s presentation. Regardless of whether you live in the immediate vicinity or not, if you and/or your kids have benefited from a DRA program in 2014, please come and show your support for the volunteers who make these recreation, cultural, and sports events possible. Admission is free. All the DRA asks is that you contribute a main dish, salad or dessert. Hot coffee, water, soft drinks and juice will be provided free of charge.

Euchre This Friday

If you’d enjoy a bowl of hot soup, homemade sandwiches and sweets — followed by a few hands of friendly Euchre, prize draws and conversation — then make a point of stopping by the DRA Hall this coming Friday, January 16th. That’s when we’re holding the DRA’s first Euchre Luncheon of 2015. The weather forecast for Friday is calling for light winds and temperatures around -7 C, with a 40% chance of light flurries. So the roads should be in pretty good shape for travelling. The event gets under way at 12 PM and wraps up around 3:30. Admission is only $5.00 and includes a post-game snack. Volunteers Ann Stewart, Linda Burgess and I hope to see you there. Please note that we will be observing a moment of silence for long-time co-organizer of these Euchre tournaments, Diane McMullin. As reported in last week’s column, Diane died just before Christmas.

Carnival Heads Up

This year’s Winter Carnival in Dunvegan will be held on Saturday, February 7th. Needless to say, I’ll have many more details in subsequent columns, as the big day approaches. However, I wanted to make sure you highlighted the date on your Milk calendar. Once again, it will have all the ingredients that have made this simple winter celebration such a hit for nearly thirty years: great food (country-style breakfast at the Hall plus Terry’s homemade soup and rolls), outdoor activities for the whole family (skating, pond hockey, tobogganing and a scavenger hunt) and old-fashioned, two-horse open sleigh rides. We’ll also have an activity that may be unique to Dunvegan: Snolleyball, or volleyball played on a snow-covered court instead of sand. And, no, the players aren’t wearing bikinis and swim trunks. If you and your friends would like to field a team, contact Ben Williams at 613-525-4006 or by e-mail at: “”. Teams should be a minimum of six and a maximum of eight players. We’re also trying to get a Big Name match between two high profile organizations… perhaps, for example, the Alexandria OPP detachment versus the Maxville Fire Department. Everything but the fund-raising breakfast is free. So you have to ask yourself: why, especially if you live within a 10 km radius of Dunvegan, have you not bothered to stop by… even just for a few minutes? More in-depth information will follow in the weeks ahead as I try my darnedest to entice YOU to participate.

Home Energy Reports?

A neighbour down the road kindly dropped off a copy of letter he had just received from Hydro One: a “Home Energy Report.” The two-sided, full-colour document awarded my friend two “smiley faces,” and gave him a ranking of “10 out of 100.” It went on to assure him that he was doing “GREAT” (emphasis theirs). The letter reported that he had used “18% less electricity than his efficient neighbours.” Who, pray tell, are these “efficient neighbours?” Hydro One defines them as the most efficient 20% of 100 nearby comparable homes averaging 2,255 square feet that use electric heat.

The only problem is that my friend’s home is 3,900 square feet and he hasn’t used electric heat since the 1998 Ice Storm. Given this, one might begin to suspect the report’s veracity.

All that aside, the first questions that occurred to my friend were how is Hydro One is obtaining the square footage of our homes and confirmation of the heating system we use? Do they also have a sweetheart deal with our friends at MPAC (Municipal Property Assessment Corporation)? Second, what is the purpose of this mailing… aside from keeping the “sunshine” flowing for a team of Hydro One employees? If you received a Home Energy Report from Hydro One recently, I’d love to see a copy of it. Please scan it, if you can, and e-mail it to me. I’m wondering if these are simply “form” letters or are costly, individually-generated reports.

The Sino Blues

As Terry was packing to leave for Toronto a few days ago, she asked me — I assume rhetorically — after checking the tags on various clothing labels: “is everything made in China these days?” Well, I noticed this morning that there is still at least one item that does not emanate from behind the bamboo curtain… The Canadian Almanac. It’s published in Maine, U.S.A.