Ron Buffie

Ron Buffie

Transcona community correspondent

Ron Buffie is a community correspondent for Transcona. Email him at ronbuffie@shaw.ca

Recent articles of Ron Buffie

Saturday night Sunshine

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Saturday night Sunshine

Ron Buffie 3 minute read Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2022

In the late 1950s, I was part of a work gang laying new rails along the CNR line 30 miles west of Thunder Bay. Behind us, an extra gang removed the existing rails, replacing them with the new. We followed them, picking up the old rails. It was a good outdoor job with lots of overtime, mostly in remote areas.

Bud M. ran the crane and I looked after the maintenance. Our crew was made up of mostly newcomers from Portugal and Italy. We worked with three men on a flatcar of rails. One in the middle to attach the tongs and one at each end to steady the rail as Bud swung it over the side and gently eased it to the ground, where three men replicated the flatcar men in reverse, as Bud swung back to pick up another rail. All this was done on the move, requiring timing and co-ordination. We had a good crew and a good cook feeding our enormous appetites. After work, I tried closing the language gap by teaching the men old favourite songs.

It was a Saturday night, and weeks since we had been in a decent-sized town. After dining, someone pointed out the town of Sunshine, Ont., was only 10 kilometres down the track. That started a flurry of washing, shaving, and digging out town clothing. Half of us started out, while the others stayed behind, wisely believing it was too long a hike for a few beers. Walking down a railway is difficult, as the ties are spaced too closely together to take normal steps, the shoulder is uneven crushed rock, and the ditch is full of weeds and water. It was a long, tiring hike, soon forgotten as we guzzled beer in the Sunshine pub and swore undying friendship to each other. At closing time, many bought 12 packs to take back. The trip back in the dark was challenging, our co-ordination a bit addled. To keep up spirits we stumbled on, singing You Are My Sunshine in fractured English, occasionally stopping to guzzle a beer and help those lagging, who claimed they couldn’t go any further. Those we motivated by warning them that there were ferocious animals lurking behind the trees, waiting to devour a tasty paisano.

As the beer cartons began to deteriorate, we stashed most of the beer in the ditch, hoping to recover it later. It was a long arduous trip back and, luckily, we all made it but swore — never again.

Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2022

Supplied photo

Correspondent Ron Buffie was a member of this CN Rail work gang, laying rails outside what is now Thunder Bay, Ont., in the 1950s.

A royal memory from 1939

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A royal memory from 1939

Ron Buffie 2 minute read Friday, Sep. 30, 2022

Though I’m not not a royalty buff, the recent passing of Queen Elizabeth II took me back to when I as a six-year-old student at Margaret Scott School and had a brief glimpse of our then-King, Charles VI.

Prior to my mother’s passing she presented me with some keepsakes she had saved for me. I was surprised and highly moved that after all those years and several moves, including a lengthy stay in California, she was able to save some old photos, my baptism certificate, and a certificate commemorating my attendance at the visit of King George VI to Winnipeg on May 24, 1939. The certificates were rolled up and, considering their age, were in pretty good shape. I had them framed and hung up in my dining room, to which they add a touch of distinction.

The passing of Queen Elizabeth brought back memories of that long-ago event when my schoolmates and I had the opportunity to participate in that royal visit.

As children we had only a vague idea of the importance this event, but as there was such a fuss over the preparation, we too became embroiled in it. We were presented with small Union Jacks and our class hiked to Salter Street where, in the neighbourhood of the St. John’s Library, we lined up waiting for the royal procession. After a long wait someone hollered, “Here they come!” and we enthusiastically waved our Union Jacks as the procession passed by. I don’t think Princess Elizabeth was with the royal party. At that time she would have been 13 and probably too busy with schoolwork to accompany her parents on regal tours around the world.

Friday, Sep. 30, 2022

Six-year-old Ron Buffie was presented this certificate to commemorate the visit of King George VI to Winnipeg in May 1939.

An observation on writing

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An observation on writing

Ron Buffie 3 minute read Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2022

Several years ago I started submitting writing to The Herald (one of the Canstar Community News weekly papers), some of which they found interesting enough to publish. Initially I had to travel a long way into the distance and past for material. As I continued writing, and with Canstar’s encouragement, I started to find stories of interest closer to home and of more recent vintage.

It’s been a gratifying and learning experience and after an outing I rarely come home without ideas for an article. I believe I’m learning to see, understan, and appreciate some of the amazing life around us. Reading Canstar’s other community papers, I see they encourage other writers to submit stories and articles.

I now find stories of interest in my yard, on my street, on the bus, in my reading, in my shopping forays, and in ancient memories drifting around in my head. Starting with a sketchy idea, it’s surprising how much related material I can dredge up from memory, often people, places, and events I thought I had long ago forgotten.

The biggest mystery is pressing the correct trigger to start an interesting and coherent article and of course my recycle bin is usually full of false starts. Sitting in my back yard with a good book and a cup of tea I’m often distracted by the interesting antics of those sharing my space, each one with a story. Ants, bees, butterflies, flowers, birds, rabbits, squirrels, garden, and neighbour’s children have contributed to my writing.

Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2022

Ron Buffie’s writing desk, in his home office.

Pothole fishing photo sparks memories

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Pothole fishing photo sparks memories

Ron Buffie 2 minute read Monday, Jul. 4, 2022

transcona

A recent Winnipeg Free Press photo of Chris Thompson angling in a pothole in the middle of Route 90 brought interesting and humorous comments from readers, and there’s no doubt he gave many passing motorists a good reason to smile. Thompson said he likes to do things that make people laugh, and we need his kind of humour.

The image took me back to another humorous but possibly more successful fishing experience.

We were ballasting the CN Rail track into Thompson and I was operating a D6 Caterpillar equipped with a front end V plow. My job was to run through the side-opening gravel cars, forcing the gravel out to drop out along the rails. A gang behind us shovelled the gravel into place. As there was heavy rail traffic bringing in construction material for the mine, we often had to pull into a siding to let the priority trains pass. During one of these downtimes, one of the train crew caught a mess of walleye in a nearby river. We had a feast that lunch — all the walleye we could eat — with a a lot uncleaned fish left for another meal. Sitting on the steps of the caboose after lunch, contentedly digesting my meal, I noticed seagulls squabbling over the over the remains of the fish we had cleaned and tossed there. Because I had my fishing tackle nearby I tied a chunk of fish skin to the end of my line and sat back to angle for sea gulls.

Monday, Jul. 4, 2022

This picture of Chris Thompson ‘fishing’ in a pothole on Route 90 reminded correspondent Ron Buffie of his time working for CN Rail in northern Manitoba.

An ode to our neck of the woods

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An ode to our neck of the woods

Ron Buffie 3 minute read Wednesday, May. 25, 2022

Here in Transcona we enjoy small town life,

Secure from big cities, bustle and strife.

We’ve everything we need in our big tent,

With many an interesting, community event,

Wednesday, May. 25, 2022

Correspondent Ron Buffie has written a poem in honour of Transcona and all its charms.

Determination of a marathon man

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Determination of a marathon man

Ron Buffie 2 minute read Wednesday, Apr. 13, 2022

Twenty years ago I developed heel spurs and gave up running. I bought a pair of roller blades, which were easier on my heels, and started skating in Birds Hill Park. I would start at the stables and skate around the north and south drives and finish with a circuit around the lake, giving me a total of 20 kilometres. Often I would see a diminutive woman on the other side of the road logging the miles. As we were on opposite sides of the road going in opposite directions we never got a chance to talk but saluted each other with a comradely wave.

A few years ago I started to see her using the track at the Peguis Trail Health & Fitness Centre at Chief Peguis School, and we had an opportunity to introduce ourselves. Her name is Ada Letinsky and she’s a marathon runner, having run 68 marathons, including several times in Boston, Chicago, and New York. She was first woman in her age class in the Manitoba Marathon three times, and has a personal best of 3:05.

Ada spent a good deal of time training and racing with Greg Brodsky, the renowned Winnipeg defence lawyer who died on Feb. 9. She said that everyone knew Greg was a world-class defence lawyer, but few knew he was also a serious marathon runner and happy to be known as one.

In 1993, the night before he was set to run in the New York City Marathon, he called a doctor to his hotel room and asked for a cortisone shot in his right knee. The doctor refused, knowing that Greg should not be running on it. Greg ran anyhow. At mile 17, when one of his sons joined him, Greg asked, “Are my legs still moving?”

Wednesday, Apr. 13, 2022

Greg Brodsky (above, with Ada Letinsky) required a wheelchair to get around after running the New York City marathon on a bad knee in 1993.

So, what are you reading?

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So, what are you reading?

Ron Buffie 2 minute read Wednesday, Mar. 9, 2022

The media have a vested interest in what people are reading. Their livelihoods depend on it.

With that in mind, during the doldrums they occasionally conduct a survey, asking newsworthy people “what are you planning to read over the holidays?” or, “what are you planning to read this winter, or next spring?”

The answers are often surprising. Some seem to think a particular genre is best suited to a certain time of the year. Examples are mysteries for the summer and history and lengthy bios in the winter. Shouldn’t we read what we find most interesting, right now ?

As these interviews are usually impromptu and interviewees are often caught off guard they often respond by citing a book they feel is in vogue and will enhance their literary image. Books covering high-profile celebs, scandals, biographies of politicians, environmental issues, and bestsellers. Perhaps I am I expecting too much to hope that some might say they intend to reread an old classic such as Huckleberry Finn, Treasure Island, Sherlock Holmes stories, an Agatha Christie mystery, or maybe even give Ulysses another try.

Wednesday, Mar. 9, 2022

Musings on guilt and regret

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Musings on guilt and regret

Ron Buffie 5 minute read Friday, Jan. 21, 2022

My chiropracter told me a startling tale recently. One of his clients, now retired, related told him how he had worked for a company for 40 years for a company and never put in a full day’s work. He was full of regrets, suffered from guilty dreams, and wished he could go back and correct his errant ways. Unfortunately, this story brought back memories of my transgressions, resulting in similar unpleasant dreams, highlighting the price we pay for our misdeeds - a lesson I was a little late in learning. In some cases, when I was able, I went out of my way to repair my transgressions but in most cases victims of my sins of omission and/or commission are no longer around and I have to live with my regrets. My working career was much like my school years and I did just enough to appease those in charge. I was a dreamer and when the opportunity arose I was easily distracted by the pursuit of personal pleasure. Though I did good work and treated people well most of the time, there were many situations where I could have done much better. Most of my work was in sales and I went out of my way to stick up for my customers, which they appreciated, but  the company I worked for groused that I wasn’t a team player. A recurring dream I have is of being out on the road all week and returning to the office to deal with an irate boss with little more than inflated expenses to show for my efforts.  It wasn’t until much later in life that I learned to consider consequences and practise restraint, to some extent. However I’m still guilty of and still capable of actions that come back to haunt me. Usually late at night, when I’m having trouble sleeping, little demons will sit on my chest, prodding me with their pitchforks and saying, “remember when you did this” and, “remember when you didn’t do that.” It’s not only employers and people that give me pause for regret, I also think back to my youth when I thoughtlessly blasted away birds, gophers, squirrels and rabbits, and even tortured insects. I can never undo those sins of the past but perhaps if I put more effort into being a kinder, gentler, and more caring human being I might somewhat square my conscience and appease those pesky, sleep-depriving,  little demons.Ron Buffie is a community correspondent for Transcona. Email him at ronbuffie@shaw.ca

My chiropracter told me a startling tale recently. 

One of his clients, now retired, related told him how he had worked for a company for 40 years for a company and never put in a full day’s work. He was full of regrets, suffered from guilty dreams, and wished he could go back and correct his errant ways. 

Unfortunately, this story brought back memories of my transgressions, resulting in similar unpleasant dreams, highlighting the price we pay for our misdeeds - a lesson I was a little late in learning. 

Friday, Jan. 21, 2022

We all pay a price for our misdeeds but putting more effort into being kinder and gentler may help appease our guilt.

These are the people in my neighbourhood

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These are the people in my neighbourhood

Ron Buffie 5 minute read Monday, Dec. 27, 2021

There have been many interesting changes on Dowling Avenue East since I moved here in 1994. Wwith the exception of my next-door neighbours I rarely saw others on my block, as they tended to come and go via their back garages, and I rarely saw adults out for a stroll or cycling. In those early years there were many families with young children and at Halloween I had so many tiny visitors I would run out of treats. I had angels, lady bugs, bunnies, witches, skeletons, pirates, and a variety of ghoulish visitors. It was a joy to see these kids having so much fun. Over the next decade my young Halloween visitors dropped off and I had a surplus of treats to gorge on. The families with small children had either moved away or the kids had grown too old for tricking and treating .Today, some neighbours and I spend more time in our front yards watching a more varied, and active array of neighbours passing by. It’s encouraging to see so many people walking, cycling or sitting on the front porch, enjoying the activity on the block. I often see older couples, walking hand in hand or cycling together, something I had rarely seen in my first years on Dowling. There’s been a resurgence of young kids livening up the block with sidewalk art, hopscotch, cycling, rollerblading, skateboarding, skipping, or tugging a wagon with younger siblings enjoying the ride and of course tricking or treating. There are many more people walking dogs, too — the elderly with small yippers and yappers, and then younger people with large exotic breeds which I had never seen before, including great Danes, Irish wolfhounds, and St. Bernards. Most dog owners are conscientious about cleaning up behind their pooches. The changing neighbourhood has changed our culinary habits as new ethnic restaurants have opened, and stores carry a wider variety of interesting and savoury foods. Getting out, chatting with neighbours, strolling, cycling, or sitting back watching and enjoying the activities on our street will no doubt lead to a better understanding and appreciation of one another. Hopefully this is a citywide and country-wide trend, confirming that interacting with humans can be much more gratifying than TV or electronic devices.   Ron Buffie is a community correspondent for Transcona. Email him at ronbuffie@shaw.ca

There have been many interesting changes on Dowling Avenue East since I moved here in 1994. 

With the exception of my next-door neighbours I rarely saw others on my block, as they tended to come and go via their back garages, and I rarely saw adults out for a stroll or cycling. 

In those early years there were many families with young children and at Halloween I had so many tiny visitors I would run out of treats. I had angels, lady bugs, bunnies, witches, skeletons, pirates, and a variety of ghoulish visitors. It was a joy to see these kids having so much fun. 

Monday, Dec. 27, 2021

There have been many interesting changes on Dowling Avenue East since I moved here in 1994. Wwith the exception of my next-door neighbours I rarely saw others on my block, as they tended to come and go via their back garages, and I rarely saw adults out for a stroll or cycling. In those early years there were many families with young children and at Halloween I had so many tiny visitors I would run out of treats. I had angels, lady bugs, bunnies, witches, skeletons, pirates, and a variety of ghoulish visitors. It was a joy to see these kids having so much fun. Over the next decade my young Halloween visitors dropped off and I had a surplus of treats to gorge on. The families with small children had either moved away or the kids had grown too old for tricking and treating .Today, some neighbours and I spend more time in our front yards watching a more varied, and active array of neighbours passing by. It’s encouraging to see so many people walking, cycling or sitting on the front porch, enjoying the activity on the block. I often see older couples, walking hand in hand or cycling together, something I had rarely seen in my first years on Dowling. There’s been a resurgence of young kids livening up the block with sidewalk art, hopscotch, cycling, rollerblading, skateboarding, skipping, or tugging a wagon with younger siblings enjoying the ride and of course tricking or treating. There are many more people walking dogs, too — the elderly with small yippers and yappers, and then younger people with large exotic breeds which I had never seen before, including great Danes, Irish wolfhounds, and St. Bernards. Most dog owners are conscientious about cleaning up behind their pooches. The changing neighbourhood has changed our culinary habits as new ethnic restaurants have opened, and stores carry a wider variety of interesting and savoury foods. Getting out, chatting with neighbours, strolling, cycling, or sitting back watching and enjoying the activities on our street will no doubt lead to a better understanding and appreciation of one another. Hopefully this is a citywide and country-wide trend, confirming that interacting with humans can be much more gratifying than TV or electronic devices.   Ron Buffie is a community correspondent for Transcona. Email him at ronbuffie@shaw.ca

There have been many interesting changes on Dowling Avenue East since I moved here in 1994. 

With the exception of my next-door neighbours I rarely saw others on my block, as they tended to come and go via their back garages, and I rarely saw adults out for a stroll or cycling. 

In those early years there were many families with young children and at Halloween I had so many tiny visitors I would run out of treats. I had angels, lady bugs, bunnies, witches, skeletons, pirates, and a variety of ghoulish visitors. It was a joy to see these kids having so much fun. 

A tribute to the good ol’ boys at KP

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A tribute to the good ol’ boys at KP

Ron Buffie 5 minute read Monday, Nov. 29, 2021

As we ease up on COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, it’s encouraging to see we’re making some progress getting life back to normal. I’ve been having coffee with a bunch of guys at the Kildonan Place food court for years and it’s good to see a few of them back meeting in their usual spot for coffee and confabulating. They represent what old guys are, and have been, doing the world over for many years and you could set your watch by their regularity. It’s a time-honoured custom; meeting your peers in plazas, town squares, cafés, bistros, livery stables, general stores and, more recently, in shopping malls.With the exception of Doug, who works part-time as a meat cutter, they’re all retired, like me. Boris from the furniture business, Steve from the railway, Walter from trucking, and Bill from Hydro. Doug never reads newspapers, claiming he gets all the information he needs from his smart phone. But the others do, and Bill frequently shows interest by asking when my next article is coming out.I’m not criticizing those with different reading habits, as I learned a long time ago that different people have different interests. Hopefully, this article will stimulate non-readers enough to pay more attention to The Herald, as they may be missing important fodder for their KP confabulations.  During one recent conversation at KP one of the guys asked me where I get my ideas for writing from and I replied, “everywhere, including right here!” I was being somewhat facetious but later realized these guys from many walks of life are pioneering the path back to normalcy, with normal being people getting together, like them, for lunch, to shop, for coffee, and to discourse on politics, sports, weather, the pandemic, ailments, cures, and “whatever happened to good old so and so” who they went to school with many years ago.Passersby seeing the same old guys in the same place for lengthy periods of time may consider them to be Rip Van Winkles, idly dreaming their lives away. Not so ! Listen in and you may find they have interesting, innovative and creative ideas to solve the world’s problems.Ron Buffie is a community correspondent for Transcona. Email him at ronbuffie@shaw.ca

As we ease up on COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, it’s encouraging to see we’re making some progress getting life back to normal. 

I’ve been having coffee with a bunch of guys at the Kildonan Place food court for years and it’s good to see a few of them back meeting in their usual spot for coffee and confabulating. They represent what old guys are, and have been, doing the world over for many years and you could set your watch by their regularity. 

It’s a time-honoured custom; meeting your peers in plazas, town squares, cafés, bistros, livery stables, general stores and, more recently, in shopping malls.

Monday, Nov. 29, 2021

Dreamstime.com
People the world over are once again gathering at their favourite places for coffee and conversation. It’s a welcome sign that we may be returning to normal.

Teamwork takes care of leaf-raking chore

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Teamwork takes care of leaf-raking chore

Ron Buffie 4 minute read Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021

 

Based on the belief that prevailing winds are from the northwest, I don’t understand  why my lawn on the north side of Dowling Avenue East  is always covered in leaves while the lawns across the street are comparably bare.Could it be Mother Nature is telling me I need more excercise ? After being shut in owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, I’ve become lethargic and have difficulty  motivating myself. I’m a procrastinator as well. As it’s growing colder, based on past experiences, if I don’t get to work immediately and rake the leaves we’ll have rain then a cold snap, and then snow and I’ll be faced with a soggy mess to deal with in the spring, no good for the health and growth of my lawn. Though it was a cold, blustery day I put on a warm jacket and toque and headed out to do battle. With a good supply of leaf bags on hand I had barely started raking the leaves into piles when I was joined by a passel of young kids from four to 16, my neighbours from across the street. They came well-equipped with rakes, energy, and enthusiasm. We soon had a production line going, raking, bagging, and toting the filled bags into the back lane for garbage pickup. It was interesting watching a small one dexterously wielding a rake twice as long as they were tall. Occasionally one would disappear —with a “Whoopee!” — into a pile of leaves. With all this help we tuned an onerous chore on a gloomy day into a joyful event.With everyone pitching in we were soon finished and I believe they had more fun than watching TV or playing electronic games. My hard working crew deserved a reward and, based on other years, it was time for rest and refreshment. Normally we would head for the A&W for refreshments but owing to the pandemic we’ll have to wait. As soon as it’s safe to do so we’re all going to the closest A&W where we’ll all enjoy great big grandpa burgers. Ron Buffie is a community correspondent for Transcona. Email him at ronbuffie@shaw.ca 

Based on the belief that prevailing winds are from the northwest, I don’t understand  why my lawn on the north side of Dowling Avenue East is always covered in leaves while the lawns across the street are comparably bare.

Could it be Mother Nature is telling me I need more exercise? After being shut in owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, I’ve become lethargic and have difficulty  motivating myself. I’m a procrastinator as well. 

Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021

Supplied photo
Correspondent Ron Buffie was joined by his neighbours’ children when he decided to rake his lawn.

The joy of doing what I want, when I want

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The joy of doing what I want, when I want

Ron Buffie 4 minute read Monday, Oct. 4, 2021

Over coffee recently, some good friends and I were discussing a typical day in retirement. When I explained I often get up early, read the paper, do the crossword, then sometimes go back to bed for another hour or so, they were taken aback. They’re too hard-working and organized and believe they have too much to do to spend their time frivolously in bed.   When I think of all those years of hating to get up to go to school on cold winter mornings, or my days as an adult of rising at 6 a.m. - in the dark at 30 below - and then having to wait for transit to get to work, I don’t feel a bit guilty sleeping in. I hated getting up on those cold mornings and promised myself that when I could, I would indulge myself by sleeping in until I was good and ready to get up. That time is now and I’m taking full advantage of it by spending as much time as I like luxuriating in bed under a soft down quilt.     Too many of us over the years have programmed ourselves into behaviour contrary to our best interests and when, after years of work, we’d like to indulge in some well deserved sleeping in, we can’t. What a tragedy that, after all those years of work, some of us cannot reap “our just rewards” - such as sleeping in on a cold winter morning. Over the years, many men and women develop the “it has to be done now” mentality,” which drives them. I’d like to suggest that many things don’t have to be “done now.”You don’t have to be a supermom or pop and, unless it’s an emergency, many chores can wait. By being kinder to yourself now you’ll reap the rewards later in life. I recently heard a sad comment about a retiree who didn’t know what to do with himself in retirement.“He’s too old to work and never learned how to play.”Ron Buffie is a community correspondent for Transcona. Email him at ronbuffie@shaw.ca

Over coffee recently, some good friends and I were discussing a typical day in retirement. When I explained I often get up early, read the paper, do the crossword, then sometimes go back to bed for another hour or so, they were taken aback. They’re too hard-working and organized and believe they have too much to do to spend their time frivolously in bed. 

  When I think of all those years of hating to get up to go to school on cold winter mornings, or my days as an adult of rising at 6 a.m. - in the dark at 30 below - and then having to wait for transit to get to work, I don’t feel a bit guilty sleeping in. 

I hated getting up on those cold mornings and promised myself that when I could, I would indulge myself by sleeping in until I was good and ready to get up. That time is now and I’m taking full advantage of it by spending as much time as I like luxuriating in bed under a soft down quilt.   

Monday, Oct. 4, 2021

Over coffee recently, some good friends and I were discussing a typical day in retirement. When I explained I often get up early, read the paper, do the crossword, then sometimes go back to bed for another hour or so, they were taken aback. They’re too hard-working and organized and believe they have too much to do to spend their time frivolously in bed.   When I think of all those years of hating to get up to go to school on cold winter mornings, or my days as an adult of rising at 6 a.m. - in the dark at 30 below - and then having to wait for transit to get to work, I don’t feel a bit guilty sleeping in. I hated getting up on those cold mornings and promised myself that when I could, I would indulge myself by sleeping in until I was good and ready to get up. That time is now and I’m taking full advantage of it by spending as much time as I like luxuriating in bed under a soft down quilt.     Too many of us over the years have programmed ourselves into behaviour contrary to our best interests and when, after years of work, we’d like to indulge in some well deserved sleeping in, we can’t. What a tragedy that, after all those years of work, some of us cannot reap “our just rewards” - such as sleeping in on a cold winter morning. Over the years, many men and women develop the “it has to be done now” mentality,” which drives them. I’d like to suggest that many things don’t have to be “done now.”You don’t have to be a supermom or pop and, unless it’s an emergency, many chores can wait. By being kinder to yourself now you’ll reap the rewards later in life. I recently heard a sad comment about a retiree who didn’t know what to do with himself in retirement.“He’s too old to work and never learned how to play.”Ron Buffie is a community correspondent for Transcona. Email him at ronbuffie@shaw.ca

Over coffee recently, some good friends and I were discussing a typical day in retirement. When I explained I often get up early, read the paper, do the crossword, then sometimes go back to bed for another hour or so, they were taken aback. They’re too hard-working and organized and believe they have too much to do to spend their time frivolously in bed. 

  When I think of all those years of hating to get up to go to school on cold winter mornings, or my days as an adult of rising at 6 a.m. - in the dark at 30 below - and then having to wait for transit to get to work, I don’t feel a bit guilty sleeping in. 

I hated getting up on those cold mornings and promised myself that when I could, I would indulge myself by sleeping in until I was good and ready to get up. That time is now and I’m taking full advantage of it by spending as much time as I like luxuriating in bed under a soft down quilt.   

Tales of Peguis Trail Fitness Centre

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Tales of Peguis Trail Fitness Centre

Ron Buffie 4 minute read Tuesday, Sep. 21, 2021

In an attempt to delay dotage from sneaking up on me I’ve been working out at the City of Winnipeg’s Peguis Trail Fitness Centre, in the basement of Chief Peguis Junior High School at 1400 Rothesay St. I started working out  years ago when fitness centres appeared in Winnipeg and have belonged to a number of them over the years. For the first several years, the gyms I attended were men-only, but some later became co-ed in efforts to increase membership. The first few years of mixed spas were interesting, in that it appeared to be a fashion competition for some people. The fashion parade has eased up since then and most folks are most interested in working out these days.When I regularly roller-bladed around Birds Hill Park, I often saw a petite woman  running in the opposite direction on the other side of the road. We never had the opportunity to talk; just waved at each other as we went in opposite directions. However, when I started working out at Chief Peguis I began to see her doing laps on the indoor track. We started talking and I learned her name is Ada. Ada has run over 20 marathons and, while she ran, her husband, Martin, could be observed deeply absorbed in a western novel by Louis L’Amour, pursuing rustlers on a stationary bike. I often run into the pair at Kildonan Place shopping mall and over coffee we have long, interesting conversations. Unfortunately, Ada has been having hip problems and recently had a hip replacement. I thought it may have slowed her down a bit, but I now see her back at the gym, pedalling vigorously on a stationary bike while Martin catches up with the rustlers. It’s good to see.Ron Buffie is a community correspondent for Transcona. Email him at ronbuffie@shaw.ca

In an attempt to delay dotage from sneaking up on me I’ve been working out at the City of Winnipeg’s Peguis Trail Fitness Centre, in the basement of Chief Peguis Junior High School at 1400 Rothesay St. 

I started working out  years ago when fitness centres appeared in Winnipeg and have belonged to a number of them over the years. 

For the first several years, the gyms I attended were men-only, but some later became co-ed in efforts to increase membership. The first few years of mixed spas were interesting, in that it appeared to be a fashion competition for some people. The fashion parade has eased up since then and most folks are most interested in working out these days.

Tuesday, Sep. 21, 2021

In an attempt to delay dotage from sneaking up on me I’ve been working out at the City of Winnipeg’s Peguis Trail Fitness Centre, in the basement of Chief Peguis Junior High School at 1400 Rothesay St. I started working out  years ago when fitness centres appeared in Winnipeg and have belonged to a number of them over the years. For the first several years, the gyms I attended were men-only, but some later became co-ed in efforts to increase membership. The first few years of mixed spas were interesting, in that it appeared to be a fashion competition for some people. The fashion parade has eased up since then and most folks are most interested in working out these days.When I regularly roller-bladed around Birds Hill Park, I often saw a petite woman  running in the opposite direction on the other side of the road. We never had the opportunity to talk; just waved at each other as we went in opposite directions. However, when I started working out at Chief Peguis I began to see her doing laps on the indoor track. We started talking and I learned her name is Ada. Ada has run over 20 marathons and, while she ran, her husband, Martin, could be observed deeply absorbed in a western novel by Louis L’Amour, pursuing rustlers on a stationary bike. I often run into the pair at Kildonan Place shopping mall and over coffee we have long, interesting conversations. Unfortunately, Ada has been having hip problems and recently had a hip replacement. I thought it may have slowed her down a bit, but I now see her back at the gym, pedalling vigorously on a stationary bike while Martin catches up with the rustlers. It’s good to see.Ron Buffie is a community correspondent for Transcona. Email him at ronbuffie@shaw.ca

In an attempt to delay dotage from sneaking up on me I’ve been working out at the City of Winnipeg’s Peguis Trail Fitness Centre, in the basement of Chief Peguis Junior High School at 1400 Rothesay St. 

I started working out  years ago when fitness centres appeared in Winnipeg and have belonged to a number of them over the years. 

For the first several years, the gyms I attended were men-only, but some later became co-ed in efforts to increase membership. The first few years of mixed spas were interesting, in that it appeared to be a fashion competition for some people. The fashion parade has eased up since then and most folks are most interested in working out these days.

Summing it all up nicely

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Summing it all up nicely

Ron Buffie 5 minute read Monday, Aug. 16, 2021

A recent telephone conversation with an out-of-town school chum set me off on a stream of consciousness, wafting me on a magic carpet to simpler and more enjoyable times. Times when the whole world was spread out to explore and enjoy. Back to my youth of fishing, skating, skiing, swimming, and learning about Mother Nature in and around Sturgeon Creek. North of the creek, when the snow had just melted, lay a huge body of water which, though drying in summer, saturated the earth with enough moisture and  pressure to force out cool, pure springs along the creek all year. I recall hiking that frozen prairie in winter and the satisfaction of learning to follow and stick to the wind hardened drifts, avoiding the softer snow in between. Sprinkled across the prairie were small bluffs of trees providing cover for jack rabbits, prairie chickens and the occasional deer. Hiking through the soft snow in those bluffs on a couple of occasions I would have the wits scared out of me by a prairie chicken exploding out of the snow under my feet. We called them prairie chickens but they probably were ruffed grouse as, even in those relatively pristine days, prairie chickens were becoming scarce.   Without much effort I can squeeze a good deal of satisfaction writing about experiences of past and present. Some of which I may get the satisfaction of seeing in print. Occasionally I get feedback from a reader telling me they enjoyed a recent article which makes it that much sweeter.      COVID-19 and minor health issues have curtailed my activities somewhat. However, I still work out  on a regular basis and I’m looking forward to winter to see if I have a few kilometres of cross country skiing left in me. No doubt I’m entering the home stretch and looking back, I realize how graciously fortune has smiled upon me. I have a comfortable home, a few good friends, a reasonable income, unbridled curiosity to see, care, and understand what’s happening, a garage full of unfinished diamond willow walking sticks to work on ( some of which will be donated to charitable organizations for fund raising ), a fridge and pantry full of good food, several hundred books to be read or re-read, and a thousand stories and memories to relive and write.What more do I need ?  Ron Buffie is a community correspondent for Transcona. Email him at ronbuffie@shaw.ca

A recent telephone conversation with an out-of-town school chum set me off on a stream of consciousness, wafting me on a magic carpet to simpler and more enjoyable times. 

Times when the whole world was spread out to explore and enjoy. Back to my youth of fishing, skating, skiing, swimming, and learning about Mother Nature in and around Sturgeon Creek. 

North of the creek, when the snow had just melted, lay a huge body of water which, though drying in summer, saturated the earth with enough moisture and  pressure to force out cool, pure springs along the creek all year. 

Monday, Aug. 16, 2021

A recent telephone conversation with an out-of-town school chum set me off on a stream of consciousness, wafting me on a magic carpet to simpler and more enjoyable times. Times when the whole world was spread out to explore and enjoy. Back to my youth of fishing, skating, skiing, swimming, and learning about Mother Nature in and around Sturgeon Creek. North of the creek, when the snow had just melted, lay a huge body of water which, though drying in summer, saturated the earth with enough moisture and  pressure to force out cool, pure springs along the creek all year. I recall hiking that frozen prairie in winter and the satisfaction of learning to follow and stick to the wind hardened drifts, avoiding the softer snow in between. Sprinkled across the prairie were small bluffs of trees providing cover for jack rabbits, prairie chickens and the occasional deer. Hiking through the soft snow in those bluffs on a couple of occasions I would have the wits scared out of me by a prairie chicken exploding out of the snow under my feet. We called them prairie chickens but they probably were ruffed grouse as, even in those relatively pristine days, prairie chickens were becoming scarce.   Without much effort I can squeeze a good deal of satisfaction writing about experiences of past and present. Some of which I may get the satisfaction of seeing in print. Occasionally I get feedback from a reader telling me they enjoyed a recent article which makes it that much sweeter.      COVID-19 and minor health issues have curtailed my activities somewhat. However, I still work out  on a regular basis and I’m looking forward to winter to see if I have a few kilometres of cross country skiing left in me. No doubt I’m entering the home stretch and looking back, I realize how graciously fortune has smiled upon me. I have a comfortable home, a few good friends, a reasonable income, unbridled curiosity to see, care, and understand what’s happening, a garage full of unfinished diamond willow walking sticks to work on ( some of which will be donated to charitable organizations for fund raising ), a fridge and pantry full of good food, several hundred books to be read or re-read, and a thousand stories and memories to relive and write.What more do I need ?  Ron Buffie is a community correspondent for Transcona. Email him at ronbuffie@shaw.ca

A recent telephone conversation with an out-of-town school chum set me off on a stream of consciousness, wafting me on a magic carpet to simpler and more enjoyable times. 

Times when the whole world was spread out to explore and enjoy. Back to my youth of fishing, skating, skiing, swimming, and learning about Mother Nature in and around Sturgeon Creek. 

North of the creek, when the snow had just melted, lay a huge body of water which, though drying in summer, saturated the earth with enough moisture and  pressure to force out cool, pure springs along the creek all year. 

A fateful conversation

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A fateful conversation

Ron Buffie 5 minute read Saturday, Jul. 10, 2021

Over the years, from going to church and garage sales, as a result of dental work and thanks to an inheritance, I accumulated a small collection of old gold, gold and silver jewellery and old coins, which I kept in a jewellery box on my dresser. I told Fred, a co-worker who dabbled in antiques, about this collection and he asked what I planned to do with it.I said “I don’t know I just like having it.”He said “If you don’t do something with it, it’ll probably end up much like your church and garage sales finds.” The seed was planted and every time I looked at  the contents of my jewellery box I recalled Fred’s advice but it wasn’t until recently that I finally acted. I took the old gold and silver to a jeweller, the coins to a dealer and with the proceeds treated myself to a juicy steak at an upscale steak house. The most valuable items were an inherited watch I gave to my sister, a valuable heavy gold chain I gave to a nephew, and a silver ring I passed on to a deserving neighbour. It was a relief passing these items on to others, hoping they would put them to good use.  I’ve lived in this neighbourhood for over 20 years and other than petty thievery I hadn’t heard of any break ins. I felt protected by motion detectors and I have a high fence which I keep locked, protecting my back yard. Then one afternoon I returned home to find my back door wide open. Entering the house I found it in a shambles, with all the drawers in my dresser and desk dumped on the floor. Checking my bedroom I found the back window wide open, even though  I had secured it by placing a length of wood in the channel to keep it from being slid open. All that was missing was a small can of coins taken from my desk, not much more than $10. I called the police and they were quickly on the scene to take fingerprints. They pointed out that my windows could be forced open in seconds. I had the windows replaced with more secure ones and thanked Fred for his advice.  Though he didn’t mention break-ins, his advice prevented a substantial loss.     Ron Buffie is a community correspondent for Transcona. Email him at ronbuffie@shaw.ca

Over the years, from going to church and garage sales, as a result of dental work and thanks to an inheritance, I accumulated a small collection of old gold, gold and silver jewellery and old coins, which I kept in a jewellery box on my dresser. 

I told Fred, a co-worker who dabbled in antiques, about this collection and he asked what I planned to do with it.

I said “I don’t know I just like having it.”

Saturday, Jul. 10, 2021

Supplied photo
A suggestion from a friend prompted corresondent Ron Buffie to give most of his valuables away before his house was broken into.

Scammers love to take advantage of ‘scemos’

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Scammers love to take advantage of ‘scemos’

Ron Buffie 3 minute read Wednesday, Jun. 16, 2021

Several years ago I was a member of a men’s fitness centre on Regent Avenue. Some older members never worked out in the gym but made good use of the sauna.

After a workout I would sometimes joined them in the sauna and was privy to some interesting conversations, mostly based on money.

If someone mentioned they had recently bought a new car they were asked, how much they paid. When they were revealed how much, they were always told, “you’re crazy, I could have got it for you for $2,000 less.”

The cost of plumbing, a paint job, auto repair... anything was fair game. When someone mentioned the price paid there was always someone who could have got it for much less. It appears these men were paranoid over paying too much and being considered a “scemo” – an Italian word for fool – or easily duped, particularly on money matters.  

Wednesday, Jun. 16, 2021

Several years ago I was a member of a men’s fitness centre on Regent Avenue. Some older members never worked out in the gym but made good use of the sauna.

After a workout I would sometimes joined them in the sauna and was privy to some interesting conversations, mostly based on money.

If someone mentioned they had recently bought a new car they were asked, how much they paid. When they were revealed how much, they were always told, “you’re crazy, I could have got it for you for $2,000 less.”

The cost of plumbing, a paint job, auto repair... anything was fair game. When someone mentioned the price paid there was always someone who could have got it for much less. It appears these men were paranoid over paying too much and being considered a “scemo” – an Italian word for fool – or easily duped, particularly on money matters.  

Where have all the jackfish gone?

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Where have all the jackfish gone?

Ron Buffie 5 minute read Tuesday, May. 18, 2021

In Manitoba our most common commercially caught fish are walleye (pickerel), whitefish, and northern pike (jackfish). Many stores stock fresh pickerel as high as $4.99 per 100 grams, sometimes the more economical frozen whole whitefish, but never fresh or frozen jackfish. The stores also stock foreign fish such as tilapia, basa, milkfish, and a variety of farmed fish which I have tried and found lacking the texture, quality, and flavour of jackfish. As well some foreign fish are farmed, reputedly under questionable sanitary conditions, and I have found that they have much higher moisture content making cooking difficult and their lower prices questionable.  Growing up near Sturgeon Creek, I honed my fishing skills there with makeshift fishing tackle, bringing about a lasting source of pleasure.  I recall catching jackfish,  suckers, bullheads, silver bass, and rarely, pickerel. But jackfish were the most plentiful, and from the cold spring fed creek were great eating. I took great pride in bringing home enough to feed the family. The rules being I had to clean and fillet them. Seasoned, dipped in egg, then in fine bread crumbs and fried, provided many tasty and nourishing meals. As the years went by I obtained more sophisticated tackle and was able to fish more productive waters where I caught jackfish, trout, salmon, pickerel, bass, freshwater drum, perch, whitefish, goldeye, burbot, and catfish. While the most desired fish were trout or pickerel I and many others equally enjoyed jackfish when caught in cold unpolluted water. Historically jackfish played an important part in helping many early prairie setttlers feed their families.   Our commercial fishermen have to sell their catch to the freshwater fish marketing board where it is processed and resold. As jackfish are considerably less expensive than pickerel I wonder, “where have all our jackfish have gone?” I know fresh jackfish is in demand for gefilte fish and other recipes, and there’s probably a huge market in  heavily populated communities in places like New York. Maybe so, but how can our government justify selling “all of our jackfish “to other countries, and then foist questionable foreign, and probably not as healthy substitutes upon us, depriving us of an important, tasty, nourishing, and inexpensive resource?     We’re constantly advised to buy locally but in the case of jackfish there’s nothing to buy.  How come?  Ron Buffie is a community correspondent for Transcona. Email him at ronbuffie@shaw.ca

In Manitoba our most common commercially caught fish are walleye (pickerel), whitefish, and northern pike (jackfish). Many stores stock fresh pickerel as high as $4.99 per 100 grams, sometimes the more economical frozen whole whitefish, but never fresh or frozen jackfish. The stores also stock foreign fish such as tilapia, basa, milkfish, and a variety of farmed fish which I have tried and found lacking the texture, quality, and flavour of jackfish. As well some foreign fish are farmed, reputedly under questionable sanitary conditions, and I have found that they have much higher moisture content making cooking difficult and their lower prices questionable.

Growing up near Sturgeon Creek, I honed my fishing skills there with makeshift fishing tackle, bringing about a lasting source of pleasure. I recall catching jackfish,  suckers, bullheads, silver bass, and rarely, pickerel. But jackfish were the most plentiful, and from the cold spring fed creek were great eating. I took great pride in bringing home enough to feed the family. The rules being I had to clean and fillet them. Seasoned, dipped in egg, then in fine bread crumbs and fried, provided many tasty and nourishing meals. As the years went by I obtained more sophisticated tackle and was able to fish more productive waters where I caught jackfish, trout, salmon, pickerel, bass, freshwater drum, perch, whitefish, goldeye, burbot, and catfish. While the most desired fish were trout or pickerel I and many others equally enjoyed jackfish when caught in cold unpolluted water. Historically jackfish played an important part in helping many early prairie setttlers feed their families. 

Our commercial fishermen have to sell their catch to the freshwater fish marketing board where it is processed and resold. As jackfish are considerably less expensive than pickerel I wonder, “where have all our jackfish have gone?” I know fresh jackfish is in demand for gefilte fish and other recipes, and there’s probably a huge market in  heavily populated communities in places like New York. Maybe so, but how can our government justify selling “all of our jackfish “to other countries, and then foist questionable foreign, and probably not as healthy substitutes upon us, depriving us of an important, tasty, nourishing, and inexpensive resource?   

Tuesday, May. 18, 2021

In Manitoba our most common commercially caught fish are walleye (pickerel), whitefish, and northern pike (jackfish). Many stores stock fresh pickerel as high as $4.99 per 100 grams, sometimes the more economical frozen whole whitefish, but never fresh or frozen jackfish. The stores also stock foreign fish such as tilapia, basa, milkfish, and a variety of farmed fish which I have tried and found lacking the texture, quality, and flavour of jackfish. As well some foreign fish are farmed, reputedly under questionable sanitary conditions, and I have found that they have much higher moisture content making cooking difficult and their lower prices questionable.  Growing up near Sturgeon Creek, I honed my fishing skills there with makeshift fishing tackle, bringing about a lasting source of pleasure.  I recall catching jackfish,  suckers, bullheads, silver bass, and rarely, pickerel. But jackfish were the most plentiful, and from the cold spring fed creek were great eating. I took great pride in bringing home enough to feed the family. The rules being I had to clean and fillet them. Seasoned, dipped in egg, then in fine bread crumbs and fried, provided many tasty and nourishing meals. As the years went by I obtained more sophisticated tackle and was able to fish more productive waters where I caught jackfish, trout, salmon, pickerel, bass, freshwater drum, perch, whitefish, goldeye, burbot, and catfish. While the most desired fish were trout or pickerel I and many others equally enjoyed jackfish when caught in cold unpolluted water. Historically jackfish played an important part in helping many early prairie setttlers feed their families.   Our commercial fishermen have to sell their catch to the freshwater fish marketing board where it is processed and resold. As jackfish are considerably less expensive than pickerel I wonder, “where have all our jackfish have gone?” I know fresh jackfish is in demand for gefilte fish and other recipes, and there’s probably a huge market in  heavily populated communities in places like New York. Maybe so, but how can our government justify selling “all of our jackfish “to other countries, and then foist questionable foreign, and probably not as healthy substitutes upon us, depriving us of an important, tasty, nourishing, and inexpensive resource?     We’re constantly advised to buy locally but in the case of jackfish there’s nothing to buy.  How come?  Ron Buffie is a community correspondent for Transcona. Email him at ronbuffie@shaw.ca

In Manitoba our most common commercially caught fish are walleye (pickerel), whitefish, and northern pike (jackfish). Many stores stock fresh pickerel as high as $4.99 per 100 grams, sometimes the more economical frozen whole whitefish, but never fresh or frozen jackfish. The stores also stock foreign fish such as tilapia, basa, milkfish, and a variety of farmed fish which I have tried and found lacking the texture, quality, and flavour of jackfish. As well some foreign fish are farmed, reputedly under questionable sanitary conditions, and I have found that they have much higher moisture content making cooking difficult and their lower prices questionable.

Growing up near Sturgeon Creek, I honed my fishing skills there with makeshift fishing tackle, bringing about a lasting source of pleasure. I recall catching jackfish,  suckers, bullheads, silver bass, and rarely, pickerel. But jackfish were the most plentiful, and from the cold spring fed creek were great eating. I took great pride in bringing home enough to feed the family. The rules being I had to clean and fillet them. Seasoned, dipped in egg, then in fine bread crumbs and fried, provided many tasty and nourishing meals. As the years went by I obtained more sophisticated tackle and was able to fish more productive waters where I caught jackfish, trout, salmon, pickerel, bass, freshwater drum, perch, whitefish, goldeye, burbot, and catfish. While the most desired fish were trout or pickerel I and many others equally enjoyed jackfish when caught in cold unpolluted water. Historically jackfish played an important part in helping many early prairie setttlers feed their families. 

Our commercial fishermen have to sell their catch to the freshwater fish marketing board where it is processed and resold. As jackfish are considerably less expensive than pickerel I wonder, “where have all our jackfish have gone?” I know fresh jackfish is in demand for gefilte fish and other recipes, and there’s probably a huge market in  heavily populated communities in places like New York. Maybe so, but how can our government justify selling “all of our jackfish “to other countries, and then foist questionable foreign, and probably not as healthy substitutes upon us, depriving us of an important, tasty, nourishing, and inexpensive resource?   

An unexpected visit from the Easter bunny

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An unexpected visit from the Easter bunny

Ron Buffie 5 minute read Tuesday, Apr. 20, 2021

Though not a regular church attendee I consider myself a good Christian and try to be of service to my fellow man. Over the years I’ve travelled extensively in Canada and frequently moved within the city. As a result I have rarely been involved in my community, but I do occasionally attend church services with my neighbour at the Abundant Life Baptist Church. That said, the lack of services owing to the pandemic has not been a hardship for me. Due to a painful arthritis attack I found this Easter particularly trying, as I felt cooped up and read- and TVed-out. I was missing interacting with humanity and going for long refreshing walks, enjoying the warming sun. I had no plans to celebrate Easter.The afternoon before  Easter Sunday, I looked out the window and spied a little girl toting large bags making her way down the street and turning into my yard. It was my neighbour Mercy, making like the Easter Bunny, delivering Easter breakfasts for shut-ins such as me. I presume her mom submitted my name, along with others, to Abundant Life church as a shut-in who would benefit from an Easter care package. Owing to the pandemic I couldn’t give Mercy the big hug she deserved but I’ll not forget to do so at a later date. Opening the bag in my kitchen I noticed that it had been numbered, an indication that there were others in the neighbourhood receiving this gift. The breakfast consisted of two hard-boiled eggs, two cinnamon buns, two bran muffins, two hot cross buns,  assorted hot biscuits, a banana and an apple. Permeating the whole was a silent but enormous and welcome Easter blessing.      Easter morning I made a pot of coffee and enjoyed my Easter breakfast, contemplating how similar breakfasts were being enjoyed by other shut-ins throughout the city.  I hoped they got as big a boost as I did from this kind gift in this time of need. I said a prayer, giving thanks to the many who make these things possible - the community, Abundant Life Church, good neighbours and the volunteers who cooked , baked, boiled, and assembled these breakfasts. I’d also like to thank Mercy, the bearer of this bounty.  Her parents named her well.Ron Buffie is a community correspondent for Transcona. Email him at ronbuffie@shaw.ca

Though not a regular church attendee I consider myself a good Christian and try to be of service to my fellow man. 

Over the years I’ve travelled extensively in Canada and frequently moved within the city. As a result I have rarely been involved in my community, but I do occasionally attend church services with my neighbour at the Abundant Life Baptist Church. That said, the lack of services owing to the pandemic has not been a hardship for me. 

Due to a painful arthritis attack I found this Easter particularly trying, as I felt cooped up and read- and TVed-out. I was missing interacting with humanity and going for long refreshing walks, enjoying the warming sun. I had no plans to celebrate Easter.

Tuesday, Apr. 20, 2021

Photo by Ron Buffie
An Easter breakfast care package, delivered by a girl named Mercy, provided an uplifting moment for correspondent Ron Buffie.

Have your own ‘prairie oyster’ party

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Have your own ‘prairie oyster’ party

Ron Buffie 5 minute read Monday, Mar. 29, 2021

 

Years ago I had a sales job covering southeastern Saskatchewan. In those days there were sales reps representing most major companies. There were reps selling meat, baked goods, paper products, shoes, clothing, fruit and vegetables, distilled liquor, beer, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, paint, hardware, dry goods, canned goods, tobacco, soap, and many others. The most unusual product I cam across was mud that was sold  to oil companies, which I believe was used in the drilling or well-capping process. I had a territory which I covered every six weeks, as did many of the other reps. We often stayed in the same towns and frequently had meals together where we often drove out hosts to distraction with our insatiable craving for “prairie oysters.”  Don’t know what a “prairie oyster” is? Let me explain. The daily lunch special at most places we ate included soup, a package of crackers, and a pat of butter. On every table there were the usual condiments, including ketchup, HP or Worcestershire sauce. We would take a cracker and build a dam of butter around the edges. In the centre we would put a good glob of ketchup, and in the middle a dab of H. P. or Worcestershire  and voila, you had a prairie oyster.This treat  was so good we had waitresses scurrying back and forth replenishing our cracker, butter, ketchup, and sauce supply. We tried not be too demanding least we wore out our welcome. No doubt some parsimonious restaurant owners told their staff to limit  our cracker and butter supply but as there were many restaurants to eat at, and a high turnover of staff, we enjoyed many fine feeds of prairie oysters.  It’s been many years since I had a prairie oyster but,  housebound right now, twiddling my thumbs, and needing a diversion, I realized I had all the ingredients and proceeded to create some, finding them as good as those of the past. It’s too enjoyable,creative, and unusual, an  experience to keep to myself and I hope other shut-ins follow suit with their own prairie oyster parties. It’s easily done. All  you need are a platter of crackers, a dish of butter, a bottle of ketchup, HP or Worcestershire sauce, a butter knife, napkins and you’re all set to dine, and add a bit of zest to your COVID isolation. Ron Buffie is a community correspondent for Transcona. Email him at ronbuffie@shaw.ca 

Years ago I had a sales job covering southeastern Saskatchewan. In those days there were sales reps representing most major companies. 

There were reps selling meat, baked goods, paper products, shoes, clothing, fruit and vegetables, distilled liquor, beer, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, paint, hardware, dry goods, canned goods, tobacco, soap, and many others. The most unusual product I cam across was mud that was sold  to oil companies, which I believe was used in the drilling or well-capping process. I had a territory which I covered every six weeks, as did many of the other reps. We often stayed in the same towns and frequently had meals together where we often drove out hosts to distraction with our insatiable craving for “prairie oysters.”

Monday, Mar. 29, 2021

Supplied photo
‘Prairie oysters’ were a lunchtime treat for travelling salesmen in days of yore.

The joy of a winter getaway with nature

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The joy of a winter getaway with nature

Ron Buffie 5 minute read Friday, Feb. 19, 2021

Prior to the first cold snap, I drained the water lines in my Whitemouth River retreat and shut it down for the winter. However we still go out to cross-country ski on the river. We make use of a little log cabin on the river bank equipped with a Franklin stove and in 10 minutes we have it comfortably warm. Though it’s a struggle breaking trail through the deep snow on the river, restricting the distance we travel, it’s an exhilarating experience. Unfortunately, by our next visit the trails made earlier are usually well covered with snow. However, skiing conditions improve beginning in February when the sun has somewhat melted the snow surface, forming a harder crust, which is easier to ski on.Well-dressed, with a packsack containing smokies, buns, condiments, tea and a tea pail, we go off on a winter picnic. Some consider us a bit touched, going skiing on the river in winter and say we may go through the ice and drown or freeze to death. Such poor souls have no sense of adventure and are missing some of the joys in life. We ski along comfortably with the sun’s rays warming us, and study nature’s artistic sculpting of snowdrifts as well as stories wildlife have left behind, such as a few drops of blood in the snow and the snow brushed on each side by an owl’s wing tips, left behind when nabbing a mouse. Or a heap of mussel shells near a rapids where an otter has dined. When we need nourishment, we stop at a site out of the wind, often near a rapids with open water, easily dipped for tea, and lots of dry driftwood for our fire. We soon have a fire blazing, the tea pail boiling and smokies sizzling on a willow wand. Enjoying our tea and smokies I don’t know of anywhere else I would rather be. Back in the city, I’m often asked if I go away for a winter holiday and say no, I’ve spent most of my working years travelling and have had enough. I much prefer skiing on the Whitemouth, at Birds Hill, or other sites near the city. They look at me in amazement, wondering, how I  can compare skiing with a trip to Vegas, Disneyland, Palm Springs, Acapulco, or Hawaii. Who’s crazy? Ron Buffie is a community correspondent for Transcona. Email him at ronbuffie@shaw.ca

Prior to the first cold snap, I drained the water lines in my Whitemouth River retreat and shut it down for the winter. 

However we still go out to cross-country ski on the river. We make use of a little log cabin on the river bank equipped with a Franklin stove and in 10 minutes we have it comfortably warm. Though it’s a struggle breaking trail through the deep snow on the river, restricting the distance we travel, it’s an exhilarating experience. 

Unfortunately, by our next visit the trails made earlier are usually well covered with snow. However, skiing conditions improve beginning in February when the sun has somewhat melted the snow surface, forming a harder crust, which is easier to ski on.

Friday, Feb. 19, 2021

Supplied photo
Las Vegas, Palm Springs, Mexico... they have nothing on the wonders of winter skiing on the Whitemouth River.

Better keep this, just in case…

Ron Buffie 5 minute read Preview

Better keep this, just in case…

Ron Buffie 5 minute read Friday, Jan. 22, 2021

Rooting around in my garage, looking for a tool, I discovered a dust covered jar labelled “July 23 2008.” I don’t recall placing it there but I must have done it in one of my more rational moments. The jar contained a dozen keys I had been saving for many years but which didn’t fit any locks I knew. As I hadn’t needed for them for all this time, into the recycling bin they went, and good riddance to them. Over the years I have become a hoarder, reluctant to discard something, just in case I may one day need it, which has led to accumulating a confusing conglomeration of odds and ends. Recalling a bad experience with a leaking hot water tank and the ensuing flood, I purchased a tray to go under my current tank to contain leaks. When I tried to install it I found the work required the services of a qualified plumber / gas fitter and stored it in my shed to have it installed when I needed a new tank. A few years later, my tank developed a leak necessitating replacement. It wasn’t until well after the new tank was installed that I found the tray. This time I stored it behind the tank and almost 10 years later I again had a leaky tank, necessitating installation of a new one, and finally had the tray installed. From time of purchase to installation took 14 years. Over the years I have collected and saved many books of interest. Upon re-reading them, I found that some are no longer of interest and, if I’ve saved a book for reference purposes I can usually find the information on the internet. Along with the books, I have records I haven’t listened to for years. I have pens, pencils, memo pads, file folders, and address labels enough to last a few lifetimes. In my pantry I have spices and condiments long past their best-before date. I also have clothes, pots and pans and dishes that I never use, and albums full of mysterious photos. Learning a lesson from the keys, I’m going to regularly  stockpile and date superfluous items. Those not used within a reasonable time I’ll toss into the garbage, the recycling bin, or donate to a thrift store.Ron Buffie is a community correspondent for Transcona. Email him at ronbuffie@shaw.ca

Rooting around in my garage, looking for a tool, I discovered a dust covered jar labelled “July 23 2008.” 

I don’t recall placing it there but I must have done it in one of my more rational moments. The jar contained a dozen keys I had been saving for many years but which didn’t fit any locks I knew. As I hadn’t needed for them for all this time, into the recycling bin they went, and good riddance to them. Over the years I have become a hoarder, reluctant to discard something, just in case I may one day need it, which has led to accumulating a confusing conglomeration of odds and ends. 

Recalling a bad experience with a leaking hot water tank and the ensuing flood, I purchased a tray to go under my current tank to contain leaks. When I tried to install it I found the work required the services of a qualified plumber / gas fitter and stored it in my shed to have it installed when I needed a new tank. A few years later, my tank developed a leak necessitating replacement. It wasn’t until well after the new tank was installed that I found the tray. 

Friday, Jan. 22, 2021

Rooting around in my garage, looking for a tool, I discovered a dust covered jar labelled “July 23 2008.” I don’t recall placing it there but I must have done it in one of my more rational moments. The jar contained a dozen keys I had been saving for many years but which didn’t fit any locks I knew. As I hadn’t needed for them for all this time, into the recycling bin they went, and good riddance to them. Over the years I have become a hoarder, reluctant to discard something, just in case I may one day need it, which has led to accumulating a confusing conglomeration of odds and ends. Recalling a bad experience with a leaking hot water tank and the ensuing flood, I purchased a tray to go under my current tank to contain leaks. When I tried to install it I found the work required the services of a qualified plumber / gas fitter and stored it in my shed to have it installed when I needed a new tank. A few years later, my tank developed a leak necessitating replacement. It wasn’t until well after the new tank was installed that I found the tray. This time I stored it behind the tank and almost 10 years later I again had a leaky tank, necessitating installation of a new one, and finally had the tray installed. From time of purchase to installation took 14 years. Over the years I have collected and saved many books of interest. Upon re-reading them, I found that some are no longer of interest and, if I’ve saved a book for reference purposes I can usually find the information on the internet. Along with the books, I have records I haven’t listened to for years. I have pens, pencils, memo pads, file folders, and address labels enough to last a few lifetimes. In my pantry I have spices and condiments long past their best-before date. I also have clothes, pots and pans and dishes that I never use, and albums full of mysterious photos. Learning a lesson from the keys, I’m going to regularly  stockpile and date superfluous items. Those not used within a reasonable time I’ll toss into the garbage, the recycling bin, or donate to a thrift store.Ron Buffie is a community correspondent for Transcona. Email him at ronbuffie@shaw.ca

Rooting around in my garage, looking for a tool, I discovered a dust covered jar labelled “July 23 2008.” 

I don’t recall placing it there but I must have done it in one of my more rational moments. The jar contained a dozen keys I had been saving for many years but which didn’t fit any locks I knew. As I hadn’t needed for them for all this time, into the recycling bin they went, and good riddance to them. Over the years I have become a hoarder, reluctant to discard something, just in case I may one day need it, which has led to accumulating a confusing conglomeration of odds and ends. 

Recalling a bad experience with a leaking hot water tank and the ensuing flood, I purchased a tray to go under my current tank to contain leaks. When I tried to install it I found the work required the services of a qualified plumber / gas fitter and stored it in my shed to have it installed when I needed a new tank. A few years later, my tank developed a leak necessitating replacement. It wasn’t until well after the new tank was installed that I found the tray. 

A child’s Christmas in Winnipeg

Ron Buffie 5 minute read Preview

A child’s Christmas in Winnipeg

Ron Buffie 5 minute read Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2020

When I was a boy, there was competition among the kids on our block as to who had the largest Christmas turkey, and I recall one year our family having one that was 30 pounds. As there were six in our family this provided Christmas dinner, warmed-up turkey, lunches of turkey a la king or turkey sandwiches, and then the carcass went into the pot for soup. We always put up a Christmas tree, and always waited to the last minute to get a good buy. Often all that were left were lopsided rejects which my dad fixed by cutting off branches where they weren’t needed, drilling holes into the blank spaces in the trunk, inserting the cut branches there and ‘Voila!’ we had a magnificent, balanced, tree. Months prior to Christmas, mom purchased a variety of spices, nuts, peel, cherries, and other dried fruits which kept her busy baking Christmas cake, shortbreads, mince tarts and cookies. On Christmas Eve we opened our presents and feasted on candy shaped like bows, on tangerines and a variety of nuts — hazel, pecan, walnut, peanuts, and almonds. The Brazil nuts usually caused a ruckus over whose turn it was with the nutcracker. On Christmas morning,mother was busy from early morning preparing and baking the turkey for dinner at six o’clock and we were encouraged to go out and play. It was a time of great anticipation. As the day progressed, the aroma of roast turkey and sage dressing wafted through the house.Along with the turkey a ring of garlic sausage and the turkey neck were put in to roast. While the turkey was roasting my mother made a batch of sauerkraut buns to appease our appetites until dinner was ready. We had to practise self restraint or we could very easily fill up on those delicious buns.Finally the turkey was ready and as the aroma of dressing wafted through the room we watched in anticipation as my dad carved off the portions of dark or white meat we requested. I preferred dark, and also the neck, which no one else wanted. Roast turkey, mashed potatoes, cole slaw, vegetables, gravy, and cranberry sauce made for a feast to remember. After dinner we had tea, spumoni ice cream, shortbread, and Christmas cake. Often we heatedly played a board game one of us had received. Then, all worn out from watching our mother work, we would retire early for a much-needed rest. Ron Buffie is a community correspondent for Transcona. Email him at ronbuffie@shaw.ca

When I was a boy, there was competition among the kids on our block as to who had the largest Christmas turkey, and I recall one year our family having one that was 30 pounds. 

As there were six in our family this provided Christmas dinner, warmed-up turkey, lunches of turkey a la king or turkey sandwiches, and then the carcass went into the pot for soup. 

We always put up a Christmas tree, and always waited to the last minute to get a good buy. Often all that were left were lopsided rejects which my dad fixed by cutting off branches where they weren’t needed, drilling holes into the blank spaces in the trunk, inserting the cut branches there and ‘Voila!’ we had a magnificent, balanced, tree. 

Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2020

Mmm-mmm... memories of Christmas dinner.

Missing the art of conversation

Ron Buffie 5 minute read Preview

Missing the art of conversation

Ron Buffie 5 minute read Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020

In my early years of employment working for CN Rail I spent a good deal of time travelling by train. I worked the western region from Armstrong, Ont. to the west coast. As this led to many lengthy trips, I usually took along a few good books and cast an eagle eye around the coach to see if there were any girls I could  charm. Most of the time the girls, if any, ignored me, and I would read or look out the window at our magnificent country.What I didn’t want was to  listen to a lengthy discourse from an old geezer who needed an audience. I had been trapped in the past and knew how difficult it could be to escape. I knew that once these types transfixed you with their hypnotic eyes, you were like a moth pinned to a display board — doomed to a lengthy dissertation on the good old days, the war, or trips of the past. I grew  adept at sensing whether I was being singled out for a lengthy monologue and was usually able to tactfully escape. As I grew older and went into other fields of work, my old habits of avoiding conversational traps with old-timers carried on, even though I knew I was somewhat rude and might be missing something of significance.Now that I’m retired and housebound due to the coronavirus I can see how important communication is. As we grow older there is a limited number of people who understand us. Consequently, we have to try to strike up conversations with whomever is available, whenever we have the opportunity. More importantly, we need that interaction to reassure ourselves we’re still a factor in society. Having worked with large numbers of people for many years I need people to talk to and interact with. Now when I run into a likely prospect, like the old-timers of my past, I crave the stimulation of a good conversation. If the person I meet is retired like myself they often welcome an opportunity to gab. However, many are still working and I see their eyes glaze over as they desperately glance around looking for an escape route, much as I used to.      Ron Buffie is a community correspondent for Transcona. Email him at ronbuffie@shaw.ca

In my early years of employment working for CN Rail I spent a good deal of time travelling by train. 

I worked the western region from Armstrong, Ont. to the west coast. As this led to many lengthy trips, I usually took along a few good books and cast an eagle eye around the coach to see if there were any girls I could  charm. Most of the time the girls, if any, ignored me, and I would read or look out the window at our magnificent country.

What I didn’t want was to  listen to a lengthy discourse from an old geezer who needed an audience. I had been trapped in the past and knew how difficult it could be to escape. 

Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020

In my early years of employment working for CN Rail I spent a good deal of time travelling by train. I worked the western region from Armstrong, Ont. to the west coast. As this led to many lengthy trips, I usually took along a few good books and cast an eagle eye around the coach to see if there were any girls I could  charm. Most of the time the girls, if any, ignored me, and I would read or look out the window at our magnificent country.What I didn’t want was to  listen to a lengthy discourse from an old geezer who needed an audience. I had been trapped in the past and knew how difficult it could be to escape. I knew that once these types transfixed you with their hypnotic eyes, you were like a moth pinned to a display board — doomed to a lengthy dissertation on the good old days, the war, or trips of the past. I grew  adept at sensing whether I was being singled out for a lengthy monologue and was usually able to tactfully escape. As I grew older and went into other fields of work, my old habits of avoiding conversational traps with old-timers carried on, even though I knew I was somewhat rude and might be missing something of significance.Now that I’m retired and housebound due to the coronavirus I can see how important communication is. As we grow older there is a limited number of people who understand us. Consequently, we have to try to strike up conversations with whomever is available, whenever we have the opportunity. More importantly, we need that interaction to reassure ourselves we’re still a factor in society. Having worked with large numbers of people for many years I need people to talk to and interact with. Now when I run into a likely prospect, like the old-timers of my past, I crave the stimulation of a good conversation. If the person I meet is retired like myself they often welcome an opportunity to gab. However, many are still working and I see their eyes glaze over as they desperately glance around looking for an escape route, much as I used to.      Ron Buffie is a community correspondent for Transcona. Email him at ronbuffie@shaw.ca

In my early years of employment working for CN Rail I spent a good deal of time travelling by train. 

I worked the western region from Armstrong, Ont. to the west coast. As this led to many lengthy trips, I usually took along a few good books and cast an eagle eye around the coach to see if there were any girls I could  charm. Most of the time the girls, if any, ignored me, and I would read or look out the window at our magnificent country.

What I didn’t want was to  listen to a lengthy discourse from an old geezer who needed an audience. I had been trapped in the past and knew how difficult it could be to escape. 

Overripe pears bring back memories

Ron Buffie 5 minute read Preview

Overripe pears bring back memories

Ron Buffie 5 minute read Friday, Nov. 6, 2020

I often find surprise treats on my front steps or in my mailbox. Gifts from my neighbours of soup, chicken, roast beef, cake, cookies, or other interesting and delicious baked creations. Today it was a bag of overripe pears which I made short work of. Being overripe did not lessen the quality, flavour, or kindness of the gift as they were soft, juicy, and delicious. Eating them took me back to my childhood, when money was scarce and my mother often stretched our grocery budget by buying overripe fruit, vegetables, and other bargains. We often enjoyed one favourite, overripe bananas, in sandwiches. Later, others of my vintage told me they too enjoyed banana sandwiches with of peanut butter, which I hadn’t tried but will next time I find some overripe bananas.One gourmet treat my mother brought home from Eaton’s was an economically priced package of assorted deli meats, comprised of the tail ends of various cold meat rolls. Ham, bologna, liver sausage, blood sausage, corned beef, head cheese, jellied tongue, salami, and macaroni and cheese loaf were often included, giving us a lasting taste for and appreciation of different foods.Getting on in life, I have retained some parsimonious habits and though not financially needy occasionally buy marked-down products. I enjoy fresh baked goods but as they often end up in my freezer I find nothing wrong with marked-down products. However, the arrival of these pears got me wondering why some look down on this form of  bargain hunting as demeaning and below their dignity, while others take it in stride. Changing course slightly, I recall a story that helps explain that mindset.  ears ago, I was having a beer with a young woman I had just met. When I started rolling a cigarette, she offered me one of hers, which I declined, because I preferred my hand-rolled smokes. I realized later that she probably came from a family that had to roll their own cigarettes and considered doing so in public an affront to her sensibilities and a sign of poverty —she was embarrassed. Since then, I have found that some people who were deeply scarred by pinched circumstances early in life go to great lengths to keep memories of that period in life deeply buried, while others not only take them in stride, they relish reliving them. Ron Buffie is a community correspondent for Transcona. Email him at ronbuffie@shaw.ca

I often find surprise treats on my front steps or in my mailbox. Gifts from my neighbours of soup, chicken, roast beef, cake, cookies, or other interesting and delicious baked creations. 

Today it was a bag of overripe pears which I made short work of. Being overripe did not lessen the quality, flavour, or kindness of the gift as they were soft, juicy, and delicious. Eating them took me back to my childhood, when money was scarce and my mother often stretched our grocery budget by buying overripe fruit, vegetables, and other bargains. We often enjoyed one favourite, overripe bananas, in sandwiches. Later, others of my vintage told me they too enjoyed banana sandwiches with of peanut butter, which I hadn’t tried but will next time I find some overripe bananas.

One gourmet treat my mother brought home from Eaton’s was an economically priced package of assorted deli meats, comprised of the tail ends of various cold meat rolls. Ham, bologna, liver sausage, blood sausage, corned beef, head cheese, jellied tongue, salami, and macaroni and cheese loaf were often included, giving us a lasting taste for and appreciation of different foods.

Friday, Nov. 6, 2020

Dreamstime.com
Many people grew up thinking that overripe fruit, often purchased because it was least expensive, was a wonderful treat.