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More Than The Need For Speed

Chris Cleaver drives an altered 1932 Dodge, but not to work. He turns the AA Fueler loose at the drag strip where its 3,000 HP hemi works to turn seven second ¼ miles reaching speeds approaching 200 miles per hour. The blown “supercharged” engine runs on methanol. It’s a different world…roaring engines, screaming tires and fire suits. Oh, and parachutes to slow you down at the end of the run.

It doesn’t matter how hot it is out, full fire gear is required!

For Chris, drag racing is more than just a hobby. He invests a lot of time, energy, money and skinned knuckles. “I’m not a mechanic”, he says. “The engine was built by Keith Black and I take care of maintenance and everything else but the machine shop work.”

Judy is in the pInk when working as pit crew – Photo Credit Darwin Kent

On event weekends in the summer, you’ll probably find Chris and his wife, Judy Stacee-Cleaver, at one of the province’s four major drag strips competing with members of the Ontario Nostalgic Drag Racing Club (ONDR). “There’s lots of traveling and many racers come from all over the USA and Canada to participate,” says Judy. “They bring Funny Cars and Jet Cars which are very fast, and motorcycles and snowmobiles too. “And it seems like everyone has a golf cart to tow their dragsters to and from the staging area and to scoot around and visit old friends.”

Chris lets everyone else do the driving…in the golf carts

Judy plays an active role in the racing operation and among her other duties gets Chris lined up in the groove (approaching the starting point), then tows the car and him back to the pit after the run. Family friend and sponsor Johnny Bergeron is quite often along and is a main part of the crew.

Life in the "pit"

Life in the “pit”

The dynamic duo race at Toronto Motorsports (the old Cayuga Dragstrip); Grand Bend Motorplex, on the shores of Lake Huron; St. Thomas Raceway Park, just outside of Port Stanley on Lake Erie; and at Shannonville Motorsport Park, near Belleville and have made many friends along the way. ONDR usually has their season finale at St. Thomas, which hosts a Thanksgiving event called the Turkey Nationals. It’s very much a family affair and along with many other clubs, there will be young kids racing their “Junior” dragsters, with their parents sending them off.

This puts a whole new meaning to the term “Kiddie Car”

Often you’ll even see dogs wearing ear muffs as they take in the races.

No chasing cars for this fellow, fully geared up to protect his hearing

There will also be many campers and RV’s as members enjoy a weekend of fun which winds up with a festive turkey dinner.

“It’s a sport that brings together people from all walks of life, with many different jobs and functions,” says Judy. “And I’m here to support my husband. “It’s very exciting, although the faster he goes the more nervous I get. “But, there are a lot of rules and many safety considerations.” For instance, racing on methanol is somewhat safer than gasoline. Methanol has a lower burn temperature and is easier to control in case of fire — and a methanol fire can be put out with water. On the other hand, it takes more methanol to generate the same energy as you would from gasoline. That means that the car gets lighter as the methanol burns off during the run and the dragster can become less stable as you near the finish. “It’s about learning, challenging yourself,” Judy points out and Chris adds, “It’s all trial and error.”

The nostalgia and camaraderie appeals to Chris, perhaps even more than the “need for speed”. “That’s what I really enjoy,” he says. In the Nostalgia Drag Racing world, friendships last longer than a few months of preparation and a blistering seven second rush on the strip.

 

Storming The Castle

Once upon a time, in a land not so far away (we’ll call it the Durham Region), there lived a wee Princess named Mincom Jo. Now Princess Jo was a very happy Princess, but she longed to spend her time whiling away the hours wandering around a beautiful castle while her faithful subjects brought her food, mail and the remote. This little Princess knew all about castles and came from a very long line of castle experts who had handed down the knowledge for generations: a person’s home was their castle no matter what the size or curb appeal. So, although visions of turrets and moats danced in her head, she was not above enjoying a good “bouncy” castle.

I am a Princess. My Mother is the Queen. This is my Castle.

I am a Princess. My Mother is the Queen. This is my Castle.

Fortunately for Princess Jo, there actually exists a real castle in the Durham Region. The castle, in Whitby, has been a school for many a young maiden for over 140 years and although Princess Jo did not study there, Trafalgar Castle School “allows” her to visit a couple of times a year.

Trafalgar Castle

The Castle was built in 1859 by the Sheriff of Ontario County, Nelson Gilbert “Iron” Reynolds , as his private residence.  Joseph Sheard, the Toronto architect, designed the castle in an Elizabethan style built with limestone, stone and 15 towers. Remarkably, the castle cost $70,000 to build.

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Unfortunately, due to financial difficulties, Reynolds had to sell his castle in 1874, receiving only half of what it cost to build. For the price of $35,000, the Methodist Church of Canada purchased the castle including the land and turned it into Ontario Ladies’ College. In 1979 the school was renamed Trafalgar Castle School.

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There have been many upgrades and state of the art improvements over the years, but the integrity of the original castle has always been kept intact. The attention to detail is evident when you venture inside during an open house.

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2 ceiling interior

3 ceiling interior

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When the school first opened it had 25 residential students. It now has over 200 students including 70 boarders. It boasts the “World-Best Curricula” including Latin, Mandarin, the highly regarded Singapore Science & Math, Robotics, English Writing and I-Think. “Since 1874, well before the world openly accepted educated women, we’ve been inspiring our students to think progressively and innovate in the face of social challenges…Girls at Trafalgar excel in every discipline.” In fact 100% of the school’s graduates are accepted by the universities of their choice.

Princess Jo’s favourite time to visit Trafalgar Castle School is when they hold their annual May Court Festival. This year marked their 109th traditional dance around the May Pole.

Trafalgar Castle School Photo

Trafalgar Castle School Photo

The festival marks the official arrival of spring. Traditionally, graduating students who best exemplify the School’s motto of truth, virtue and loveliness are elected as the May Queen and her Counselors.

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Trafalgar Castle School Photo

This year’s formal ceremony included words from local dignitaries to mark the sense of tradition and history passed on year after year. Alumnae and locals from the community enjoyed the celebration including many cultural dances performed by boarding students from China and Mexico. When the formalities were finished it was time to enjoy some of the other activities available including Castle Art tours, dunk tanks and a Strawberry Social.

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Local vendors offered fun-fair food and freshly squeezed lemonade.

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LemonadePrincess Jo has yet to be invited to dance ’round the May Pole. It could be that she arrives after that part is over.

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That’s OK, she spotted a squirrel horses.It must be her Royal Horse Drawn Carriage arriving to take her for a spin.

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1 Mayday 1 Horse Drawn Carriage

She found a perfect spot to pick up a few new Princess dresses…

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and some royal jewelry.
1 May Day 1 Princess Jewelry

Our special little Princess was even able to connect with some of her loyal subjects. She had this lizard laughing his head off.

Laughing Lizards

It was a good day for everyone and Princess Jo was content to go home to her own castle to dream of next year’s visit, leaving everyone to…live happily ever after.

The End

March Madness

March can get a little crazy in the Durham Region.  When it comes to weather one might even say it is bi-polar. One day you are getting emergency weather winter storm warnings, with “polar” temperatures and record snowfalls. The next day the sun is shining and you are tempted to walk about in your shorts. We won’t mention any names (Mincom Jo). Let’s face it, we are Canadians — there was a lot of shorts-wearing going on.

If the weather didn’t have you confused, there is always the calamity that goes with changing our clocks to Daylight Saving Time. Some people will always be confused. Try to remember we “Spring” forward and “Fall” back. That’s right. We lost an hour of precious sleep on the 14th.

spring forwarc

There were “Snow Days” with the kids home from school, then “March Break” let them off school for an entire week: not a problem if you live in the Durham Region where there was a lot going on for kids and their families. Ontario Power sponsored a whole week of events including hiking, crafts, skating and swimming. Purple Woods Maple Syrup Festival launched March 12, 2016 just in time

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Anna & Family At the Purple Woods Maple Syrup Festival

for the break and can still be enjoyed over the next couple of weekends. The Oshawa Airport hosted Girls Flying Girls, giving young girls one of the most exciting adventures of their life.  The Bowmanville Tackle Swap and Fishing Show was in full swing.  Both the Pickering Town Centre and the Oshawa Centre had activities for the kids and March break camps were offered through the City of Oshawa, City of Pickering, Town of Whitby, Town of Ajax, Municipality of Clarington, Township of Scugog, Township of Uxbridge or Township of Brock. This list goes on.

Things are always a little whacky on the 17th. The “Wearin’ of the Green” can make for some strange outfits on St. Patrick’s Day. You can pretty much find anything and everything coloured green…your food, your drinks, buildings and even bodies of water. One thing we don’t colour green is our Anna’s (Stinson) mouthwatering homemade shortbread. You can’t get more Irish than Anna and her shortbread. We are also fortunate that we have the number one ranked Irish restaurant in all of Ontario here in the Durham Region. The Snug, in Newcastle, brings authentic Irish fare right to your table. We recommend you save room for the Sticky Toffee Pudding.

Shortbread

The Snug

Walsh’s The Snug In Newcastle, ON

The kids are back in school for a short week. This weekend is Easter weekend giving them the day off on Good Friday. There will be an Easter Parade in Pickering and an Easter Egg Hunt in Ajax, both on Saturday. The Oshawa Airport is hosting an Easter Egg-stravaganza on Sunday.

Easter Parade In Pickering

Easter Parade In Pickering

In case we haven’t mentioned it, we also officially welcomed the March Equinox whose dual identity is called Spring, on Sunday, March 20th, 2016.  Yes, Spring has definitely sprung. Enjoy it folks!

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2016 • Rose Quartz, Serenity and Monkeys

2015 has come and gone and in its place comes a whole new year of possibilities. Things will most certainly look different. Are you ready to make some changes?

According to the Chinese calendar the new year begins February 8th and it will be the year of the Red Monkey. The monkey is quite clever and intelligent, especially in their career and wealth. They are also a naughty, wily and vigilant animal so be prepared to be kept on your toes.

Pantone has already surprised us this year by choosing two colours to represent the colour of the year.

“For the first time Pantone introduces two shades, Rose Quartz and Serenity as the PANTONE Color of the Year 2016. Rose Quartz is a persuasive yet gentle tone that conveys compassion and a sense of composure. Serenity is weightless and airy, like the expanse of the blue sky above us, bringing feelings of respite and relaxation even in turbulent times.”

colour of the year 2016

Joined together Rose Quartz and Serenity demonstrate an inherent balance between a warmer and embracing warm tone and cooler tranquil blue, reflecting connection and wellness as well as a soothing sense of order and peace.

Our Stacee-Free Team enjoys starting fresh in a new year by setting themselves some goals. They aren’t all the same. In fact most of them are quite different.  Let’s hear what they have planned for 2016.

Judy Stacee-Cleaver

Judy Stacee-Cleaver
Team Leader/Broker of Record

Stacee-Free Team Leader, Judy Stacee-Cleaver, has set a few goals for the year. Balance between her personal and professional life seems to be the focus.

“It was very busy last year, with major changes everywhere. In 2016 I would like to have a little more time to: have fun; get some exercise; complete important projects that have been sitting on the back burner; connect with more of my clients who have become friends; complete our new web site; grow our Networking group who has supported us all these years; and join our local Board of Trade.”
Board of Trade
Kathy Lapoint Sales Representative

Kathy Lapointe
Sales Representative

 

 

Kathy Lapointe has a solid plan to increase her Real Estate skills.

“I plan on attending more Real Estate seminars, courses and conferences to network. I would like to treat myself with a new Dell Tablet to update my efficiency dealing with Sellers and Buyers, and I’m looking forward to another successful year with Mincom New Choice Realty.”
Dell tablet
Jo-Ann Rucinski Licensed Assistant & Photographer

Jo-Ann Rucinski
Sales Representative & Administrator

 

 

Mincom Jo has done some reflecting and has big plans if she gets lucky.

“The years are going by quickly, but the last one was especially fast.  I’m always striving to be kinder to myself and others, especially on the roads. To send out thoughts of Peace for the World and given the past year, we need more people to think on Peace. I would love to win 5 million dollars, take some friends on a cruise and book suites with balconies, then give most of the money away. On the professional side, I plan on completing the Broker course this year. ”

cruise ship
John Martin

John Martin
Sales Representative

John Martin has a plan for 2016 and has set some very specific goals.

“Some of my goals are as follows:

  1. Grow my Real Estate Business by at least 100% by doing these: advertise in my farm area at least once a month • attend the free “Lunch and Learns” at the Ajax Pickering Board of Trade and at least six “Networking After 5” events at the APBOT • polish my listing presentation skills • try to be a better listener • collect email addresses and include them in a monthly news letter • take more real estate courses
  2.  Get more active, do more cycling, swimming and walking. More activity with the wife would also be good
  3. Start renovating the house
  4. Get the dog well-trained.
 These are just some of the things I’ve been thinking about. The phrase “Planning for Success” is better than doing nothing and planning to fail.”
puppy
Anna Stinson

Anna Stinson
Sales Representative

 

 

Anna Stinson isn’t one for making resolutions. She does, however, have a good idea of what she hopes to accomplish this year.

“I’m looking forward to helping my clients achieve their Real Estate goals for 2016. I hope to grow spiritually, continue being involved with my community and look forward to spending quality time with my family at home and abroad.”
Whitehead

Yes, The Stacee-Free Team is tackling the New Year full force. What changes are you planning on making? Did you make any New Year’s Resolutions? We would love to hear about them!New Year

Where To Go, With Mincom Jo

It was a very cold long weekend in February and Mincom Jo fancied herself a night out. Let’s face it…it’s been a deep freeze in the Durham Region and all the weekends have seemed pretty looooong.  This one, however, was the Family Day “long weekend”. If that wasn’t enough, it also happened to be the weekend that Valentine’s Day fell on. So it didn’t matter where you lived, most of the activities were geared towards families and couples. But not to worry! Mincom Jo knows where to go and how to have fun.

Mincom JO

One of  Jo’s favourite venues is the GM Centre in Oshawa. She’s been there several times for shows and as a matter of fact, most of the Stacee-Free Team has been there…a lot.

Photo Credit: GeneralMotorsCentre.com

Photo Credit: GeneralMotorsCentre.com

“As Durham Region’s premier Sports and Entertainment Facility, the General Motors Centre provides a first-class home to the Oshawa Generals of the Ontario Hockey League, the Durham TurfDogs of the Canadian Lacrosse League and the Oshawa Sports Hall of Fame.

Since opening, the General Motors Centre has hosted major concerts and special events including Elton John, Cirque du Soleil, the 2011 BDO Canadian Open, IIHF World Junior Pre-Competition, Eric Church, Jason Aldean, Hedley, Skate Canada Synchronized Skating Championships, Selena Gomez and The Wiggles; to name just a few.”

As luck would have it, The Pink Floyd Experience would be making an appearance Saturday night. And if you can’t have Pink Floyd, this group is the next best thing.

This was to the band’s Oshawa debut performing “4 Sides of Floyd”.

A fully packed show covering songs from four sides off of four different Pink Floyd albums, combined with a spectacular light show, full quadraphonic sound and six outstanding musicians bringing you the most authentic Floyd experience. The Pink Floyd Experience is a full-on sensory assault – interpretive videos, plane crashes, flying pig, helicopter – it’s all there, LIVE!  This is the show for the ultimate Floyd Fan. Perfect! Our Jo enjoys Pink Floyd!

Of course she still had to brave the bone chilling temperatures but it was worth it.

GM CentreAs she says…

“The GM Centre is the perfect place to see any performance. It is a really nice facility and they have the ability to configure the seating and stage to accommodate a more intimate setting. The sound is great. It’s easy to get to and you can watch quality entertainment without having to go into Toronto. What more can you ask for?”

Pink Floyd Experience

The Pink Floyd Experience

Needless to say, Jo had a great time that night and is looking forward to her next long weekend adventure.