Winter madness and two unusual businesses.

Madness takes many forms.

Madness takes many forms.








With another swirl of the Arctic Vortex dumping more snow on us than I have seen in my 10 winters in Canada and continually lower temperatures than I have ever experienced, life has been interesting.

So interesting that I have not published a blog post this month, a terrible lapse. Another lapse (perhaps of sanity) was evidenced by the photo at the top of the post.

There is a story behind this. I wrote in the previous post that an old friend and fellow Rhodesian / Zimbabwean Polo-Crosse player, Chris Pocock recently published a book “The Story of Polo-Crosse in Zimbabwe”. Sue her children and her late mother Joan Keene, my son Bryan, my late father, Ted and I are all mentioned in the book. When Chris started a Facebook page for the book, I somewhat foolishly promised to post some photos of Sue and I on our horses with our Polo-Crosse saddles, sticks, helmets and jackets in the snow for a laugh.

We could not find anyone else mad enough to come and take the photos at -12C and in light falling snow so we had to take turns.

Sue on Silver

Sue on Silver

Amongst other new experiences, a frozen drain pipe on the washing machine last Saturday caused Sue serious concern. Fortunately that was irritating but easily fixed by me removing the pipe and thawing it in a sink full of hot water. I will not whine about frozen pipes, having to rig up a temporary water supply to the barn using hoses each time we need to fill the horses water trough, digging logs out of a meter of snow, or spending hours outside in the bitter cold splitting wood to keep warm. Many people are having it far worse

I have been tempted to swear when, even after the block heater has been plugged in for an hour the tractor still won’t start without the batteries being boosted from another vehicle.

Most of North America has experienced weeks of very low temperatures and heavier than normal snowfalls. Parts of England are flooded due to the highest rainfall in 200 years. Even areas in Southern and Central Africa are getting more rain than usual. The weather has gone crazy, global warming seems to have been postponed.

A bright note for Canada is the performance of our athletes at the winter Olympics. Alternating places with Norway or the Netherlands at the top of the medal table.

Last week, I attended a networking breakfast organised by our local small business promotion people. It was interesting on several levels, not least some of the unusual businesses that were represented. There were the usual suspects, real estate agents, insurance brokers, accountants, printers and graphic designers.

There were two that caught my attention:

Susan Kemp, a life transitions expert helps older people make transitions in their accommodation and / or lifestyle. Her service is particularly useful when seniors need assistance and advice and do not have family members who are able and willing to provide the support they need. With many of us living in different cities or even countries, to those of our children or parents, this type of service can save many headaches. In addition to providing advice, Susan can act as an impartial manager of many different service providers, safeguarding the property and rights of her clients.

When my mother died recently on another continent, it was fortunate that she had organised her affairs extremely well and that my brother and his daughters were able to do whatever was necessary. If that had not been the case, a service like Susan’s could have been very useful.

Susan helps clients in Ontario and beyond, here’s the link to her website 4Life’s Transitions Inc.

The other was Janice Marshall, of Just-A-Few-Fotos who is anything but your regular photographer. Janice has channelled her photographic skills into a thriving business based on “Bringing a new look to the face of Agriculture”. She specialises in rural scenes with cattle and horses. Her work is sure to evoke fond memories in everyone who has roots in farming or working with large animals.

I have no commercial relationship with either of these two businesses, I mention them as examples of people who have developed their skills and interests into business opportunities. One into a type of business that I had never heard of before, the other, carving out a niche to differentiate herself from the common perception of “photographer”. i.e one who takes photographs of weddings, buildings, all the usual stuff.

They are both living proof that it is possible to uncover a skill or ability we have and turn it into a business that provides value, that enriches people’s lives and produces an income.

An observation from this breakfast, other events I have attended recently and watching people being interviewed on TV is how badly many people speak and how unprepared they are to give an “elevator speech” when given the opportunity.

A big plug for Toastmasters here, it is one of the most effective ways to polish up your speaking skills, for prepared and impromptu speeches and to eliminate bad habits, especially using filler words like “um, ah, so, you know”.

Hoping we all survive the rest of this winter’s cold in North America, floods in Southern England, fires in Australia and other bizarre weather conditions elsewhere.

Peter Wright


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  1 comment for “Winter madness and two unusual businesses.

  1. Roberta
    February 12, 2014 at 5:49 pm

    Yes, this is a winter for the ages and history books. And it shall be remembered for months to come due to melt and flooding. A friend in upper New York said that the Great Lake is so frozen it will take months to do so…..and that will make the summer cooler than usual. It’s always something.

    You meet and introduce to the most interesting people. They are an inspiration. Thank you.

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