Sunday, September 8, 2013

A Look Back at Summer

As we ease into fall, although the temperatures are still quite summer-like, but with shorter days and cooler nights,  I find it only natural to look back at the last few months.  While they are quieter on the formal council front, with fewer meetings, personally summer is not usually a time of much relaxing for me.

I did have the opportunity to spend almost a week in Saskatoon at the national conference of police commissions.  This was an excellent conference, with many good speakers and discussion opportunities.  The focus was on the ever-increasing effect of mental health on police work - with changes to mental health practices, more and more of the issues that police have to deal with involve people with mental health problems.  It makes an already complicated job even more so, and it was certainly fascinating to hear the experiences of police departments across Canada, and learn about some of their initiatives.

And while council may be less active in the summer, I had many people comment to me about the amount of work that they could see being done on our streets, and most saw it as being extremely positive - they can see their tax dollars at work, and appreciate that.  The annoyance of having to find alternative routes to get where you're going is seen to be just that - a temporary annoyance.  Andrea's normal walk to work had to take a detour with the extensive work done in the 100 block of 10th Street East, but even she found unexpected benefits in the yellow raspberries growing along a fence in the back alley detour that she had to take for a week or two.

So how have I been filling my days?  Once again, I've been reminded that one of the joys of owning a hundred plus year old house is that there is never a shortage of work to keep me busy.  I replaced five of the windows in the house, took the old carpet out of the television room and replaced it with laminate flooring (sadly, I took a shortcut on that job which means I'll have to do it over, likely this winter), and, most notably, I've been replacing the shingles on the north side of our roof.

I've had to remove several layers of old shingles as well as the original cedar shakes, with their many, many really old tiny nails, replace some of the underlying boards, and take down the chimneys - more complicated than I originally thought it would be.  And working on a steeply pitched roof isn't something that many people are willing to volunteer for.  In fact, it's not something that I want anyone inexperienced to even try - just too risky if you don't know what you're doing, or if you're not comfortable with heights.  My efforts to hire experienced help weren't successful either, so except for much appreciated help in cleaning up the old shingles and bricks, it's been a solo effort.

It gets quite hot up there, but I'm grateful that there hasn't been too much rain to slow me down.  I figure that I'm more than halfway there, and the tricky parts are done, so I can see that I'll soon be coming to the end of the days when I have to strap on the safety harness.

Fewer council meetings through the summer means that our agendas when we get back in September are a bit thicker than usual, but hopefully summer has been a rejuvenating break for all of us.  I think that as this new council moves into its second year, and we all become more familiar with this more open and cooperative way of working, our focus on making our efforts more effective and efficient will continue to show results.

"Summertime is always the best of what might be." Charles Bowden

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