Sometimes all you need is a magic feather...

Remember in "Dumbo" when Timothy gives Dumbo that magic feather to convince him that he can fly?  And Dumbo totally believes it works and then when it flies out of his trunk while soaring above the circus he starts plummeting to the ground and Timothy has to tell him that the feather was never magic and he could fly all along?

Well I've seen that very phenomenon in action these last couple of weeks and I'm kind of in awe of watching it unfold.

So my daughter is not what you'd call the bravest kid out there nor is she super keen on trying new things (she's her Mother's daughter after all).  While all our other friend's babies were swimming etc, Lu preferred to sit on the edge and survey and would scream if you actually tried to bring her in.  Last winter we managed to actually get her in the water willingly and she kinda sorta liked it, but only if she stayed on the pool steps etc.

So this summer we finally convinced her that life in the water was grand and she's been happily playing in the shallows.  But despite that newfound "okay-ness" with the water, if you tried to convince her to maybe, just maybe, try to swim a wee bit or god forbid, put her face in the water you'd be met with protests and a million reasons why that did not need to happen.  Seriously, don't even attempt it.  No chance.

But then!  Then my brother put in a pool!  A pool without a shallow end!  Leaving her no choice but to go in THE DEEP WATER (cue scary music).  Then enter my mother with a pair of simple swimming goggles from Canadian Tire that she bought with the sole purpose of ending the argument between the older cousins about whose turn it was with the other pair of goggles.

WELL, dammit if that cheap little pair of goggles didn't give this kid some kind of instant superhuman bravery and she went from kinda, sorta being in the water with a bit of something resembling swimming all while consumed in a lifejacket to a kid diving into the water head first, nose unblocked, no lifejacket, swimming underwater, kicking her little feet, paddling her little hands with no end in sight.  And all of this literally within seconds of donning these goggles.  These goggles are her magic feather!  If she's wearing them she instantly feels like she can do anything in the water.  Like from the goggles down she's cloaked in some kind of super swimming power.  For a kid who is so adverse to trying things that seem out of her reach, I can't even believe what I'm seeing.  It's absolutely that ridiculous.

Then I wonder -- do I have a magic feather???  The smart sensitive answer would be "of course, it's my family and colleagues that help me think I can do anything!" but let's not even go down that sentimental gooey road, as totally valid as it may, in fact, be.  Maybe in this day and age our smartphones are our magic feathers?  With them we can be as productive as we want to be, find out any information we can possibly need and take them away and we feel totally helpless and lost - despite the fact that we know we can get along just fine without them.

I don't know.  I feel like I must have a magic feather in my life somewhere -- there are days when it feels like it's my girlfriends, there are days when I feel it's my favourite pair of shoes.  I guess it varies depending on the severity of the day and just how much help I feel I need?

Today I feel like it was the coffee.



Time Trials...and Tribulations

When I was a kid summers used to last forever. Or so they seemed. I mean, we can all agree that aging has no power over the passage of time. Just because our bodies and sometimes our minds show the passage of time it’s certainly not because they are working to hold time at bay. Whether we are 5 or 55 time passes at the same pace for everyone and yet water cooler talk amongst us oldsters is often about the passage of time. “Where has the summer gone?”, “Halloween is just around the corner but it feels like we just started summer?”

Never once do I remember as a child complaining about time passing by too quickly. Some studies have said that’s because children gauge the passage of time between special events or special days and we as adults gauge it via every single to-do item and meeting we have on our minute by minute lists. That makes sense to me.

To be honest, most days I’m quite happy they pass by as quick as they do. We spend most of our time working and doing menial tasks. Why on earth would we want to stretch that out? We’ve all had work days that have lasted forever. Would you want that every day? Could you imagine getting stuck in that endless conversation that you don’t want to be a part of in the slow-time world? No one out there ever makes requests like “hey give me some of that 24 hour flew but let’s make the day drag on forever.”

I complain about the quick passage of time but the more I think of it the more I have to say I am quite content with it. The only way I would want time to slow down is if I won the lottery and everyday were a vacation spent with my wife, daughter, family and friends. I love my job but I mean…I ain’t crazy.

2015, My Year of the Family

2015 has been an eventful year so far. There has been tragedy and joy. Laughter and tears. But one constant runs through all of it: family. Since the year began, it feels like I have had more opportunities to see family in 2015, and I feel very grateful for every second of time I’ve been able to spend with them.

This may not seem like a lot for some of you, but I live quite far away from my immediate family, in many years I’m lucky if I see everyone once or twice! Here is a quick run down of FamJam 2015!

Late December 2014:

  • 2nd Christmas visit with my dad, sister and brother in law
  • hristmas visit with my extended family on my mother’s side. Poignant as the last visit with my Aunt Theresa who passed in February of 2015, more on that later.
  • New Year’s Eve wedding in Oshawa with my extended family on my dad’s side.


  • 50th birthday celebration for my brother. The whole family came to Ottawa for bowling, it was amazing fun!


  • My mother’s sister Theresa passed away. A blow to our family, made somewhat less difficult by our family rallying together. We had a wonderful visit with our extended family.


  • My big sister came for an extended visit. We ate like fools and had a lot of laughs!


  • My father’s brother Lionel passed away. Another blow to the family, this time on my father’s side. Cousins and relations came from across the country to celebrate his life.
  • Ottawa bound to visit residences with my father, who ultimately moved back to the Ottawa area after almost three years in Deep River. I think we saw every retirement home in Gatineau! But another excuse to visit with my dad and my siblings.
Even puppy cousins like to get together!

Even puppy cousins like to get together!

May: No travel, but I did have two trips in April….


  • Oh this trip will never fade. A lovely weekend visit with my dad and my siblings in Ottawa AND dinner with my niece and nephew in Montreal before my brother, his girlfriend and I went to see Rush in concert! YEAH!


  • Half work/half play, but I made it to Montreal to see my sister and her family and to kickstart some work projects we’re developing with them. Was a really nice visit, and great to be in Montreal again!


  • VACATION! Spent with my oldest sister, her husband and their new pooch Libby! What a great week, wish the weather had been better. But we had so much fun they stayed an extra day!
  • Camp Day with my 2nd family, the Levesque’s! Might be cheating a bit by including this one, but it was such a lovely day spent in the water and eating and gabbing. Loved it!

  • 2nd trip to Montreal! This time for a family party for nephew and godson to celebrate his graduation, his apprenticeship and moving into his first apartment. It was loads of fun, and ended with a short overnight visit with my two other siblings back in Ottawa before the long trip back home.

So many memories. I honestly can’t remember a year since I moved back to Sudbury in 2001 that I got to spend so much time with my family. This summer has truly been a memorable one. I have managed to squeeze in great visits with all of my siblings, and see my extended family on both sides twice this year. As we head into the fall, another family assembles around the production we're working on, and of course this year's Folk Music Ontario conference and the family that surrounds that event. Many more memories to look forward to.

A Camp Regression

I'm not sure about you (well actually I DO feel pretty confident that most of you will feel the same way) but when I go to camp I resort to a primitive state.  With the exception of my smart phone (which I will admit is a pretty big exception to my whole analogy here), I'm basically a step above a cavewoman.

First of all, I'm never hungrier than when I'm at camp.  As a child, the joke was that I basically ate like a church mouse.  I basically didn't like anything and subisisted on the minimal amount of food necessary to survive.  Bring me to camp and I could out-eat some of my uncles.  As an adult, while the array of foods I eat is at an acceptable level, take me to camp and I still have to eat CONSTANTLY.  An hour after breakfast I'm making a sandwich.   Then eating a bowl of guacamole.  And another sandwich.  With sides of tomatoes and other assorted yummies.  I basically continue to snack all afternoon (while also drinking all the coffee and all the summer-y beverages) and then eat a full dinner of multiple Mom-made deliciousnesses, followed by dessert and always ALWAYS chips at night.  If I had to hunt and kill my own food, I could totally do it.  That's how hungry I get out there.

I rarely shower and rely instead on the lake to wash my of my forest grime.  I doubt cavepeople  frequented the sauna as much as I do but who knows?  I'm not up on my sauna history enough to be able to say with certainty what the ancient Scandanavians did with their time. My hair gets knotty and unkempt and is righted only by another lake dunking.

I poke at bugs and watch the comings and goings of the nearby animals with huge interest.  The waviness of the bay must be discussed every morning and revisited at multiple points throughout the day.  We draw in the sand with our fingers and on the rocks with ash-covered sticks.  Our children have fingernails full of dirt, sand in their hair, grubby bare feet and are often in various states of undress.  We make fires in the evening but in actuality, our bedtime comes shortly after the setting of the sun and we wake with its rise. 

I eat, I swim, I sleep, I explore then I eat some more.  Then I put this on repeat.


First world problem for sure but when it’s time to snack or even bring snacks to a party what’s your go to? And I don’t want to hear about your healthy choices. Brava for you for eating celery in place of a chip but everyone has a weak spot for either cheesies, chips or popcorn. If you actually dislike all three of these then I say good for you…weirdo.

To be honest with you I’m not a huge fan of popcorn, I will eat it of course but it’s not my go to snack. Chips on the other hand…well…I have never met a chip that I wouldn’t walk over my own mother for. I also love cheesies but what are they really? Are cheesies a category all to themselves? A chip? I think it’s safe to say that they make a better fire source than a food source but they are pretty good. The greatest downfall to a cheesie is that you can’t hide the fact that you are eating them from anyone. I often sneak my chips in during the day before my wife comes home but I can’t do that with cheesies. They leave your hands covered in paste that’s died with orange number 12 and they stain your hands for at least an hour. I mean I can sneak them in if need be but I have to plan it a little better than I would sneaking some sour cream and onion Ruffles.

And who out there remembers the Onion Ring chips? They were of the same texture as cheesies but they were round rings, white in colour with green onion flecks on them and had a sour cream and onion flavour to them. I don’t see them around anymore but that’s probably a good thing.

If I don’t want to eat chips, or cheesies for that matter, I need to keep them out of the house. I mean if we bought a bag of chips because someone famous was going to come visit our house the next day and their only request was a bag of chips, I would eat them the night before they arrive. Our pantry will actually hum with a slight vibration when chips are resting in there. They call to me. I can’t help it. My chip binge eating tendencies are all the chips fault. 

Something Awesome, This Way Comes

I’m finding it increasingly hard not to turn into a grumpy old fart. I’m fighting it, but there are times when it’s hard. It doesn’t help when you see discouraging things in your community that makes you question your decision to live in a certain place.

But then, something happens that reminds you why you settled here in the first place. That “why” for me at the moment is Up Fest, a new festival being produced by the folks behind We Live Up Here. I love their attitude of just doing it. There is a passion and enthusiasm going into this that reminds me of something in the air here in Sudbury when I moved back.

Sudbury is a weird, weird place. I’ve rarely encountered a community that both loves and hates itself as much as this place. We are surrounded by natural beauty that is stunning in its grace, and yet try to do undertake a public works project that is more visually appealing than the most utilitarian option and the populace goes crazy. Try to get people to understand that there is more to our community than the quality of our roads and you’re really in for an earful (FYI in all my years working with people from around the world, I’ve never heard any of them say they moved somewhere because of the lack of potholes).

It just drives me to distraction the way this community works sometimes, and increasingly to dreams of living elsewhere.

But here now is a group of people who have said, enough! We’re going to get weird, and crazy, and there’s going to be art and music and we’re going to fill this city with imagination. We’re going to transform the community and show how it can be cool and different, and that we can embrace who we are and celebrate that.

I’m all for that! I’m all for anything the gives voice to the silent majority, or at least another minority that isn’t talking about roads or taxes. I want great things for our community, but great things don’t come when our politicians are silenced by a vocal minority of small-minded naysayers. There are countless examples of it, and I for one am fed up with it!

So if you want to see something cool, different and exciting happening in our community like I do, get yourself to a place where you can get tickets for this event, because I have a feeling it’s going to be something the community talks about for a very, very long time!

Raising butterfly babies...

So when I'm not Copperworking, I've got this sort of side project called "Milkweed for Monarchs" happening through the generous support we received from the Project Impact Initiative back in the spring.  You may remember me going on about how cool this undertaking was and all the cool little community betterment projects that came out of it.  

Anyway, so we've been spending the summer harvesting wild milkweed seeds and growing them in our greenhouses, rescuing mature milkweed plants from the side of the French River highway expansion and finding homes for all of them all over town.  People have been generously stepping up and donating yard and garden space and creating little milkweed "waystations" for the struggling Monarch butterfly population.  This plant, in case you maybe didn't know, is the only food source for the Monarch and the only plant on which they lay their eggs and they are rapidly losing this habitat due to urban expansion etc.  

We have been so pleasantly surprised with how high the demand for these beautiful plants has been and we couldn't be happier!  Everyone wants milkweed it seems!  And even happier than us has been the Monarchs!  Soon after homing plants in host yards we began getting pictures of big, fat and happy Monarch caterpillars who seemed to have moved right in and started eating.  Yay!  

We even managed to salvage some caterpillars who weren't hanging out in the best of locations and we brought them inside and reared them by hand  -- a super fun thing to do with kids AND takes the baby caterpillars out of harm's way until they cocoon.  We snapped some pics of the whole cocoon to release process (it takes about 2 weeks) and thought we'd share them here because really, it's so awesome.

Fat and happy Monarch tucked away in his chrysalis.  See the gold beads around the seam??  Seriously cool.

Fat and happy Monarch tucked away in his chrysalis.  See the gold beads around the seam??  Seriously cool.

Freshly hatched, wings still squishy!  This is the coolest part because you can watch the Monarch filling its wings with fluid and watch them get fuller and fuller.  AWESOME!

Freshly hatched, wings still squishy!  This is the coolest part because you can watch the Monarch filling its wings with fluid and watch them get fuller and fuller.  AWESOME!

Almost all filled out!

Almost all filled out!

Getting ready to say goodbye!

Getting ready to say goodbye!

Take a rest!

Take a rest!

Resting up on some milkweed before hitting the skies!

Resting up on some milkweed before hitting the skies!

The Stanley Cup came to Lively, Ontario…

…thanks to the hard work and perseverance of local boy Andrew Desjardins and the rest of the Chicago Black Hawks. To get to such an elite level of competition isn’t easy and Andrew talks about it in the blog he posted shortly after they clinched Lord Stanley’s Cup. He also mentioned something else that I felt is crucial to surviving the game and succeeding at a high level. When remarking about the core group of players who’ve won the cup before he explains “They made sure we kept the highs and lows perfectly even the whole way, and I think that went a long way.” You could take that remark and apply to entrepreneurialism as well.

Starting a business and succeeding isn’t easy. A lot of hard work and dedication goes into it and because of that one can’t help but get really low during the tough times or super high when everything is falling into place. The problem with these two extreme reactions is that if you’re too hard on yourself when it doesn’t go your way you can spiral down and potentially never recover. Too high and one can get complacent and over confident. Andrew’s quote can also be used to describe an entrepreneurs approach to selling their business to others. You have to be even keel. If you over sell and sound far too confident people can get turned off or worse, you can appear to underachieve on a project which can directly affect receiving more work from that client in the future. The opposite is true as well. If you sound like you don’t believe in yourself others won’t believe in you either.

Steady Eddie wins the race if you ask me but it’s easier said than done. Entrepreneurs are supposed to have swagger and because it’s a personal venture they can’t help but get knocked down during the tough times. There are wins and losses in sport and business. How you are able to manage the two and stay focussed and balanced will directly affect your success.

Andrew Desjardin’s Blog for NHL.COM 

Unexpected Opportunities

Summer. It’s a good season. Not my favourite personally, but it’s up there and close to the top. Every summer I’m always a little surprised to see what a huge impact the seasong has on business and productivity. It’s really kind of amazing.

Our summer has gone from being packed to the gills to being pretty open. A TV project we were to work on got pushed back to 2016 leaving a hole in our schedule that would be hard to fill up given the timing of it. C’est la vie in production and these things can happen. It just begs the question: What now?

For us, it’s turning into a really interesting conundrum. There are a few options open to us in dealing with this unexpected open. We could kill ourselves to fill the gap or we can take this as a sign and a gift. We haven’t had a summer since we first launched Copperworks! A bit of a break will do us some good. We may even get to enjoy our summer.

So instead of trying to chase down every piece of work we can, we’ve targeted a few key gigs that will help to keep us afloat until our next TV project kicks in later in the summer. We’re going to focus in hard with some partners on project development work and have set a goal of developing and selling a show to a broadcaster by the end of fall, which our partners feel is totally doable.

We’ve actually been working on content for a couple of years now. Between our busy schedules it’s been challenging at times to be in sync with our partners and finding opportunities when we’re all available to devote time to moving things forward. We’re all on the same page now, and this unexpected window gives us the time we need to lock things down and push really hard to sell.

All of this adds up to a pretty sweet silver lining. Don’t get me wrong, I’d have been very happy had things not changed! But instead of moping around feeling sorry for ourselves we did what we always do, we rallied, and made a potential negative into a positive. Hopefully by this time next year, our partners and us, we’ll be delivering our first television series to a broadcaster! Either way, we’re going to enjoy our summer. Hope you do too.

Musical Musings, By Dennis

For today’s blog post I thought I’d present a few musings about music and the business.

I’m going to start with something fun!. On Sunday, in Montreal, I went to see Rush, one of my all time favourite bands. It was an amazing show. It’s billed as their farewell tour “of this magnitude” and it was an incredible musical walk through history. For the tour they planned their set in reverse chronology, from their most recent music all the way to their first recordings.

Not only was the music presented this way, but so too was their stage set up and all the set pieces. So we started the concert with a super cool, modern rock show set (and Rush loves to go nuts with their sets), all the fancy lights and slowly as the show progressed, the set changed and got scaled down. The light show got scaled back little by little. And finally they had the basic set up as a high school band, with their amps propped up on wood and metal school chairs.

It was really something. I’ve been a fan for about 30 of the 40 plus years they’ve been around, and I was blown away by the show.

Now for something decidedly more serious. I know you’re confused. Usually Mike is the one to rant about the music industry, but I have some thoughts about music streaming services and fees. There’s been a lot of talk, controversy and confusion about streaming, how and how much artists get paid for their music on these services. It’s a topic that bears discussion. Basically, it boils down to yet another means of screwing artists!

But for me, frankly, I think when it comes to money in the music industry the whole sector is in very desperate need of openness and transparency. Record deals are notoriously awful and favour the labels, venues screw artists over so often I don’t think any of us bat an eye at it anymore. On every level artists get screwed when it comes to getting paid. So instead of focusing on the new kid on the block, the streaming services, I think we really need to have a larger discussion and start advocating a move to a much more transparent payment regime for artists.

It's the only way musicians will finally get a fair shake.

Planks and Pain

I know, I know....another company rambling about a silly little in-office fitness challenge but what are you gonna do!  Swimsuit season is upon us and us Copperworkers have turned our minds to getting ship shape!  This week we slapped up a 30 day Planking Challenge spreadsheet on the wall and have been knocking out our planks like good little exercisers.  

We are already on........wait for 4 people.  We are up to a solid 30 seconds of office-wide planking.  

And we hate it.

Anyone else wanna get in on the challenge?  We got plenty of room in the boardroom for joiners!

So if you're walking down Larch street and you hear screams of "Squeeze your glutes!!!" and "Neutral shoulders!!!" you'll know where it's coming from.


Just When I Think I’m Done with Music…

…it pulls me back in. Most of my frustration with music is a product of my age. I understand the changes and stay current but so much of the new industry still bugs me. And then a song, a band, a performance or a business move will happen to make me sit straight up in my seat and breathe life back into my outlook on music. This past weekend was one of those eye openers. The Northern Ontario Music and Film Awards (NOMFA) is an absolutely vital cog in the wheel of the local music scene. After a brief hiatus it came back this past weekend and it was glorious. A perfect mesh of both artists and industry that creates so many opportunities for those who take part. One artist in particular has totally grabbed hold of the opportunities available through NOMFA and put them to good use.

His name? Kalle Mattson. What should you do? Look him up online. Listen to his music. Buy his music so that he can keep creating. He will be recognized as a music superstar someday and most of the world won’t care that he’s from Sault Ste. Marie but we will. He was introduced to the NOMFA’s in 2009 and he impressed many of the industry folks who were brought up to the event to share their knowledge with our budding stars. He networked with them and impressed them beyond his performance. Not only was he talented he was smart. He impressed people with his vision of who he wanted to be as an artist and his drive to succeed. Where are those industry folks today? Some of them are working with him! They are part of his team and together they are making headway in the Canadian music landscape. His performance at the Awards was that one performance that woke me from my slumber and I thank him for that.

And beyond giving me a good slap upside the head Kalle is a perfect case study of how NOMFA works. A perfect case study for all musicians and bands. The Awards Conference brings the industry to our artists and gives them the opportunity to impress. Making it in music goes beyond the creative. You have to work the product. Your entire career, but especially so early in your career, you are a salesman. You need to sell your product (you) in order to create believers (them). Without believers it’s a long road to hoe. Without selling yourself the proverbial road in question will be short.

I honestly think that it’s a musicians market right now and the world is their oyster so long as they work it on all levels. Kalle Matteson is doing just that. If he keeps his direction true there will be no stopping the number of believers he creates.