Here we'll focus on life in the Ottawa Valley - and we'll do it with a sense of humour.
Valley folk are proud of where they call home. They work hard, play hard, love their weekends and their toys.
AND they love to laugh. Even at themselves.
Enjoy this little slice of Valley life. through the eyes of a true Valley boy.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Learning to Speak Valley 101 - #2

Good morning class.
Welcome back to Learning to Speak Valley 101.
In today's class you'll learn words and phrases that will be vitally important if you are to understand what in the hell that Valley guy or gal is talking about.

Today's word is:

When is it used in conversation?: When you're in a hurry or you need to buckle down.

Often found in sentences such as: "It's last call, we have 16 pints on the table and there's just the two of us - better giver!" or "Don't look now, it's the boss - better giver for a while until he leaves!" or "You were so loaded last night, and I'm sure you don't remember singing karaoke - but when that Celine Dion tune came on, man, did you ever giver! Dude, I didn't know you listened to Celine Dion."

Often used in conjuction with: Effin. As in, "Here comes her husband, I'm heading for the truck. If you're coming with me, you better effin giver."

Chances (scale of 1 to 10) of hearing in church Sunday morning: 3 (only if the story of Noah and the Ark comes up - then you'll hear comments such as, "Oh lordy. Noah didn't have a chop saw, a compressor or a nail gun - man, he would have had to giver to get that boat built.")

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Learning to Speak Valley 101

Good morning class.
Welcome to Learning to Speak Valley 101.
In this class you'll learn words and phrases that will be vitally important if you are to understand what in the hell that Valley guy or gal is talking about.

Today's word is:

Youse (rhymes with booze).

When is it used in conversation?: When addressing groups of two or more people.

Often found in sentences such as: "G'day, how are youse today?" or "Hey, can I bum a smoke off any of youse guys?" or "Holy whistlin'. Did youse two see the price of gas today?"

Never use in sentences such as: "Hey, you, with the big arms and the monkey wrench in your hand - did you just use the word 'youse', you illiterate moron?"

Chances (scale of 1 to 10) of hearing in church Sunday morning: 10

Saturday, March 27, 2010

To the Max: Keeping was all about giving

(Shown above, Max in 1982 - note the smoke!)

He took community news to the Max.

Last night, Max Keeping said farewell after 37 years (and 7,000 broadcasts) at the anchor desk of CTV News in Ottawa, better known to Valley folk as CJOH-TV.

Most of us grew up with him on our TVs, keeping us up to speed on what was happening in our neighbourhoods.

Recognized in all corners of the Valley - and beloved by many - Max seldom turned down a chance to visit and support a worthwhile cause. In fact, while chatting with him over dinner at an Arnprior Rotary Club meeting last fall, he told me he that he attends more than 200 such engagements each year. That's mind blowing.

He lends his name and punch to help charities, in particular children's charities, whenever he can. He has a Foundation named after him. He's the main face at the CHEO telethon each year. And he managed to handle anchor duties and oversee the news department at Ottawa's top community TV station.

He did so with class. Dignity. And professionalism.

He understood the importance of thinking 'local first.' He was all about community. He put his focus squarely on the issues affecting area residents.

And that's why folks in the Valley respected him so much.

His priorities had a truly Valley flavour.

And he loved coming to visit "up the line," as he said at the Rotary meeting.

A Newfie by birth and a Valley lad by choice, he was a good friend to the late Mac Beattie, one of the Valley's most famous ambassadors. And that's how he became familiar with the small towns and villages around the region. And with a few of the watering holes.

Max has been known to tip back a pint at various stops around the Valley, including a few just down the road from my place at the old T-Bell in White Lake.

If you want to win favour with people from the Valley, take a page out of Max's book.

Think locally. Work hard. Help your neighbours. Make a difference. Do so with class. And don't shy away from a cold pint when offered.

Check out this video from CTV Ottawa following last night's broadcast. Note another Valley connection in the video - Carp's own Catherine Lathem, a reporter with CTV.

Max Keeping with Yoko Ono and John Lennon in 1968.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Lord have Mercer: Hockey lessons, Kinburn-style

Rick Mercer is always good for a laugh.Who can forget his "Talking to Amercians" show on CBC where he showed just how ignorant most Americans are to what life is like north of the border?

Equally funny is The Rick Mercer Report. This week had me laughing more than usual as he visited the Paralympic Games and got some hockey lessons, Kinburn-style as Valley boy Todd Nicholson got some air time on the very popular TV show.

Check out the video below.

It's a clip of the entire segment. It's all funny, but the sledge hockey segment begins at the 4:15 mark.

Watch for Todd to throw a bodycheck at a surprised Mercer. And then give him a little advice.

Another feather in Todd's cap.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Blast from the past: Birling down, a-down white water

Have you ever heard a song that triggers a flood of memories.

No, I'm not talking about thinking back to making out on the dance floor to REO Speedwagon's "Keep on Lovin' You."

Great, now I can't get that tune out of my head.

But here's a little blast from the past that will drill that sappy 80s love song out of my mind. And I'll be whistling this tune all night.

Let me cue it up for you:

You're sitting in front of your TV, no clicker in hand. Yes, there were days when I had to waddle over to the actual set to turn the channel. But there were only four channels to choose from. Five on a cold winter's night.

Ahhh, country cable.

But CBC could be counted on to toss some Canadian culture at you. And if you didn't feel like turning the channel to a fuzzy CTV or a snowy Global (and TVOntario was only worth watching on Saturday evenings for Bleu Nuit) then you watched what was on Channel 4.

Those little two-minute vignettes were oozing Canadiana.

And none were better than this little ditty. Canadian history with a Valley flavour.

Check out this link and tell me you weren't singing along.

From the cool files: Todd is an inspiration to us all

How cool is this?
Todd Nicholson, a Kinburn boy and Arnprior District High School grad, just competed for Team Canada's men's sledge hockey squad in the Paralympic Winter Games for the fifth time.
If that isn't cool enough, he had air time on CTV, TSN, and had his photo in Sports Illustrated a few weeks back. He's carried the Canadian flag in the opening ceremonies, has worn the captain's "C" on his chest and has a trophy case full of medals and awards.
And he's now the proud papa of twins.
Next, he's going to be on a segment of the Rick Mercer report this week.
There will be more on Todd in upcoming blogs.
But for now, check this out:
This man is an inspiration and I'm proud to call him my friend.
For a great blog on the Paralympic experience this year, check this out:
A superb job by Todd's brother Gordie and his wife Jenn who kept everyone in the Valley up to speed on the Games in Vancouver.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Stating the obvious: No more ice means no more ice fishing

The mercury is climbing and the ice is disappearing off the lakes and rivers.
And the true Valley person is sad to see the ice fishing season come to an end.
No more sunny afternoons on the ice or in the shack, curled up with a book in hand and a beverage on the table.
You have to find something else to do with your weekends now.
Gardening? Nah.
Home renovations? Nope.
How about working on a new fish shack for next winter?
Now there's a plan.
Better start soon, because if you don't get the yard work done and get the projects on the honey-do list underway, you just may be sleeping in that shack for a long time.

On a sidenote, here's a photo of a true fish shack colony. About a decade ago on White Lake we had about a dozen shacks and thought it was a village on ice. How about this metropolis of about 600 shacks in Quebec?

Check out more photos on this cool blog posting:

And for a real laugh about ice fishing, check out this classic clip from the Rick Mercer Report.

A blueprint to become public enemy #1

Valley folk have a sense of humour about a lot of things, but they have absolutely no patience for people taking shots at their love of hunting or labelling them as "rednecks."
Enter one letter writer who put local residents in her crosshairs and fired both "hunting" and "redneck" bullets into the heart of the Valley.
In the West Carleton Review of Feb. 4, Amanda Lee-Hutchinson reacted to a story that ran the week before about a coyote killing contest sponsored by Al's Corner Store in West Carleton.
She was disgusted by the idea. She has a right to her opinion. The letter may have ruffled a few feathers based on the whole "anti-hunting" sentiment, attacking the idea of the contest, but she squeezed off a couple of rounds at not only hunters, but residents in general.

You want to become public enemy #1 in the Valley? A good way to do that is to call the locals "rednecks" and state that you're considering sponsoring a "redneck kill contest" where the targets are people in John Deere hats and bush jackets.
And then, for good measure, toss in a line about bad grammar and pick-up trucks.
Double ouch.
She stopped short of insulting mothers and their cooking.

That was more than a month ago.
People are still pissed about her comments. The paper received more letters in reaction to that one letter than they have on any single topic in recent memory. They ran reaction letters for a few weeks and still had many more they couldn't fit in because of space or libel issues.
Oh my lord, Ms. Hutchinson, what were you thinking?

To say that letter stirred up a hornets' nest would be an understatement.
Admittedly, it was fun to read the reactions. Then again, I'm not Amanda Lee-Hutchinson.
Have your say. If you don't like the idea of the coyote contest, by all means, have your say.
But don't do it by insulting the Valley folk.
That's a peeing match you don't want to be part of whatsoever.
Personally, I'm not a big fan of the bounty being placed on the coyotes. And I'm a hunter. And a Valley lad.
And I've even taken my share of line drives off the ol' coconut over the years.
But even this fellow would never fire those shots to get my point across. And I hunt. Have owned a 4x4, wear a bush jacket and have said "youse guys" more than once.
Valley folk can joke amongst themselves about their trucks, their love of hunting and their grammar. But you weren't accepted as being even remotely "Valley."
What in the hell were you thinking?
The dust still hasn't settled. And the worst part for the letter writer is that the real issue became buried under the avalanche of reaction to the redneck comments.
I'm not sure what I'd rather see standing at the edge of my property - a coyote baring its teeth or a pissed off person from the Valley.
I'll take my chances with the coyote.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Spring skiing Valley style

There is something to be said about being the first to do something.

In the Valley, there always seems to be unofficial races to be first.

People want to be the first to do many things each season: race the snow machine down the road after a few flakes of snow fall; hit the golf course while there are still patches of the white stuff on the fairways; open their golf course for the season (see: Highlands, Calabogie); walk around in shorts and a T-shirt at the first sign of spring; grab the first box of fries from Wes' Chips or the first cone from Scoops in Pakenham; and the list goes on.

But there are some lads in West Carleton who can lay claim to being the first to - are you ready for this? - to water ski on the river.

West Carleton Review reporter Derek Dunn pulled together this story about some diehard water skiers who were out for a leisurely ski on March 10.

Anyone ever see that Seinfeld episode about shrinkage?

(Above photo taken by Derek Dunn / West Carleton Review)

Friday, March 19, 2010

"I Am Ottawa Valley!"

Thanks to the success of the Vancouver Olympics - capped off with Sidney Crosby's gold-medal winning OT goal - Canadian pride has never been higher.
If William Shatner's cornball "I Am Canadian" rant at the closing ceremonies didn't kill that sense of pride, nothing will.
But Capt. Kirk's five minutes on stage inspired me to track down a little something I penned at the Arnprior Chronicle-Guide a decade ago - right at the time the original Molson "I Am Canadian" beer rant hit the airwaves.
To christen this blog that focuses squarely on life just west of the Nation's Capital, I humbly bring you: "I Am Ottawa Valley!"
Grab a cold pint and rant along with me.

I am intelligent, hard-working and open minded. And not just on weekends.
My address is a rural route, not a street number.
I know my neighbour's name, and have at least one of his power tools hidden in my garage.
I begin my alphabet with "A" and end my sentences that way too.
And it's pronounced "two-four," not "a case of beer."

I have no Rideau Canal in my hometown, but I do have White Lake.
I like politics, but the only party I'm loyal to is a keg party.
I have no Peace Tower, but I do have a tower of empties in my shed.
I call my mayor by his first name.
And I don't wonder how to flush after using an outhouse.

I can hear crickets from my porch.
I have a porch, not a verandah.
I don't complain of bug bites unless the blackfly is bigger than a grapefruit.
I own at least one Stompin' Tom 8-track and know every word to "Big Joe Mufferaw."
And it's pronounced "rasslin" not "wrestling."

I'm easy going, but have a temper during the playoffs.
I settle minor disputes in the parking lot, not in a courtroom.
I own a purple bug light and have a screen door.
I have learned the hard way that you shouldn't pee on an electric fence.
And it's a ball cap, not a "baseball hat."

I always hold a door open, and it's "ladies first."
Even at last call.
If the band doesn't have a fiddler, I want my money back.
I drink from the bottle and have opened at least one beer with my teeth.
And it's pronounced "ain't," not "aren't."

I volunteer without looking for a pat on the back.
I ask what I can do for my community, not what I have to do for recognition.
I sacrificed my body for my high school team.
I remember every victory and vividly remember every loss.
And deer hunting IS a sport.

The air in my village smells of freshly-cut grass, not exhaust fumes.
Traffic jams are caused by hay wagons, not by selfish drivers.
I am fiercely loyal to my hometown and the Valley - the only place to live.

I am Ottawa Valley.