Archive for August, 2008

The fruits of one’s labour…
August 23, 2008

Hey! All that farmer stuff I referred to earlier has paid off. We continue to work in the backyard throughout the week. At some point Joy suggested that it was time the potatoes be hilled. Now this is a significant statement in that it did not name who was to do the hilling. Since my name says it all I did the hilling. In the process two new potatoes were exposed. They ended up on the dinner table that night. Yum!

There are things growing in the garden! Eatable things! I will have some cucumbers the “Good Lord Willing and the creek don’t rise”…or words to that effect. And I am going to have brussel sprouts, too! I have been wondering where the miniature cabbages appear on the plant and today I made that discovery. I don’t want you to think that I am really this dippy when it comes to gardening. The brussle sprouts were sort of a filler when the frost killed off many of the cucumber plants that I put in after June 10th. I wanted something to fill in the great blank spaces in the garden and the stores had no more cucumbers in their bedding plants. But they did have brussel sprouts. I like brussel sprouts! So I planted them without checking to find out anything about them or how they grow.

I think surprises are good! It restores one’s belief in magic happenings-like edible plants growing when one doesn’t expect much. The good news of all this is I can now crow about all this produce to my brother-in-law. His garden isn’t doing so well this year. It’s not that I wish him or his garden ill will, I am just really pleased that my garden is growing in spite of my ignorance. Heh, heh! Want some dill pickles, Dave? Heh, heh.

Now that I’m home I’ll pay more attention to what is going on in the garden. We have begun to eat the fruits of our labour and I can assure you it is marvellous.                     GRB

Rubbing shoulders with talent
August 23, 2008

I began writing this in July while visiting my sister and brother-in-law. I’m not sure why I didn’t publish it at the time but there are some thoughts that are worth being journaled and read over in the future. Mostly I want to have all who are interested experience the talents of two young photographers with whom I am acquainted.

Being with family, even after lengthy absence, is like putting on comfortable clothing; everything fits. It just feels right! It was meant to be! I’ve been at my sister’s home in Sault Ste. Marie and having dinner on the deck. Dave informed me that we were going to have the old Saturday night traditional dinner for Wednesday night’s meal–barbecued hamburgers. And they were good, with all of the required condiments and salads and roasted potato thingys to satisfy the greatest of hungers. We washed it down with some good red wine.

Errup! Burp! Excuse me!

More important was the company. Family and friends and conversation and story and good food. It was a perfect evening. G. an dher son Chris came for dinner as well. Chris is here visiting his mom. He is a young Canadian photographer with considerable talent. He and his partner have spent considerable time in the Canadian north and most recently in the Queen Charlotte Islands and his photographs are truly amazing. One can sample Chris’ talent at What a wonder it would be to travel with Chris on one of his adventures and learn to record what one sees with such artistry. He has the potential to be a great photographer.

Some of Chris’ images remind me of another young talent. (I’ve noted that I use the term ‘young’ frequently when I write. I’ve just hit my senior birthday and I see anyone under 65 as young.) Kevin Palmer currently of Winnipeg, MB has been making pictures and music as long as I can remember. Kevin and I have spent considerable time working in darkrooms and toasting successes with a good single malt scotch. He has continued to invest in his photographic skills. Check out Kevin’s talent at Both of these photographer’s deserve notice.

But back to the warm clothing of family…

Whenever I visit my sister we manage to sit up into the we hours of the night catching up on all of the things we each consider really important in our lives. We talk of our children and the woes and successes of their lives. That includes, too, the frustrations we feel as parents when our grown children display behaviours that are more akin to childhood. Mostly, though, Barb and I rekindle our relationship as brother and sister and friends. There is always a sense of nostalgia to our gathering. We were best of friends while growing up. That’s not to say we didn’t have the usual brother and sister fights and squabbles–mostly attributed to me as the younger doing what little brothers do best to maturing sisters–pester. And I was good at it! I could probably still give lessons to brother-in-training.

In the morning we always moan and groan about how foolish we were to stay up so late and vow not to do that again all the while knowing that the next time we are together our respective spouses will retire long before us and we will continue our ritual dance of renewal of family and friendship.          GRB

Some days are just fraught with frustration…
August 23, 2008

Isn’t there a Murphy’s Law about when you are already really, really busy that a thousand other things will need your immediate attention? This week has been much like that so if there isn’t a Murphy’s Law about it there certainly should be one.

Joy and I have been busy all week preparing a wedding feast. We are well organized and have everything mostly ready for the event tomorrow but there have been so many interruptions that have drawn us away from the task at hand. Some of the interruptions are quite delightful; one never really minds when grandchildren appear and need a hug and a snack on their way to another great adventure. Aidan and Tannon frequently stop in on their way to their Grandma’s and Grandpa’s home (maternal grandparents live on the same street as we) or to the park at the end of the street. Three days ago Cloudia and her friend Hanna with Abby and Morgan in tow stopped in for a bathroom break, hugs and snack on their way to the park. Those are the good breaks. They refresh us and enliven us and bring considerable laughter to our home and to our lives.

It is the phone calls with blank air when one stops to answer a call while in the midst of putting a spice rub on pork tenderloin or seeding and chopping a dozen tomatoes. I am hoping that we can mitigate some of those annoying calls when the Canadian “Do Not Call Registry” is up and running. I am not certain about its effectiveness because our Federal Parliament does not have the political will to put any real teeth into it. But we will give it a try and then begin our own form of harassment to have it made into something worthwhile. Note to self: Think of creative ways to harass federal MPs  over lousy Do Not Call Registry*Grin*

More than that is the anxiety we have been feeling over getting the meal ready and dealing with the problems with our church’s manse. The church had the manse fixed up last summer and then we rented it in December. Our tenant left at the end of June and now we  are preparing the manse for the arrival of our Intern Minister. Much of last summer’s work has had to be redone. So we have been arranging for cleaners to come in and for the heating people to service the furnace and clean the ducts. In the process of getting this done we have been anticipating having to do the painting ourselves. That really means getting a group of our congregation together (in summertime) to do the painting. We have one week and also have another meal to cater on Wednesday next week.

The good news is that the painting contractor called to say he has finished a job elsewhere and “…if we still want him to paint the manse he is available…”. Now I am not prone to running about kissing people without at least more than a passing acquaintance but let me tell you, I came  close at this call. We inspected the house, accepted the price, chose the paint and the painting will be all done tomorrow. Yesssssss! *Big sighs of relief*

That’s the good news! Isn’t is strange how there is always a flip side? Yesterday I spoke to the cleaners. They are a diligent crew and do excellent work but our meeting was a litany of things they were struggling with: there is a hole in the toilet bowl so when one flushes the water rises above the hole and goes–you guessed it–on the floor. Now I know why the rags were wrapped around the toilet bowl when our tenant left. So we need to replace the toilet. When any of the hot water taps are turned on rust comes out. The water lines are copper and don’t rust. The culprit, a crack in the liner of the hot water tank. We need to replace the hot water tank. And speaking of toilets we may not be able to do much with the one in the basement. Anyone out there know any good plumbers that have time on their hands?

Then the other shoe fell. They have cleaned the carpets and they look great! It is the smell of the dog urine that they are having difficulty removing. So they are going to try some other things but if it doesn’t work then the carpets may have to be removed… Arggghhhhhhhhh! Livingroom, hallway and three bedrooms. Be still George. Note to self: Check blood pressure; have large drink; check blood pressure; have another large drink; forget blood pressure; hae nuthr dink…

A  r r u u u   u g   g    g h   hhhhhhhh hhhhh!                       GRB

Home from holiday…
August 18, 2008

Well, the first full day back from holiday has been relatively slow. It is not that I’ve done nothing; I’ve just paced myself. There was a storm during the night and the temperature has dropped to a cool 7 C. I actually slept in until 10 am today. Mostly because I slept poorly last night. My hips were aching quite badly. I’m certain it is from the number of continuous hours I’ve spent behind the wheel of the car. The seats in my Escape are not very comfortable on long drives. I managed to get my two morning coffees into me by 11 am and took the trailer back to U-Haul. The rental was a tad more than I had anticipated but what the heck I was able to take most of my home with me to Tobermory. I think we took most of David’s home, too. No, we really didn’t need all that stuff. It was a ‘just in case’ scenario.
I cleaned out Cloud’s nest from the back of the car and returned all of the treasures she had tucked away in every nook an cranny. She is like a squirrel/chipmunk in the way she creates a nest in the back seat of the car. There are little stashes of food (candy/two day old pizza) and drink (partly consumed cans of pop and bottles of water) strategically placed so they are easy to find when she wakens from a travel nap. Now that I think of it, there is a distinct comparison to the condition of her bedroom at home.
Joy, Aidan, Cloudia and Tannon at lunch in the Crows Nest, Tobermory, ON

Joy, Aidan, Cloudia and Tannon at lunch in the Crow's Nest, Tobermory, ON

I am constantly reminded of her presence with us. Every time I put my hand in my pocket I find a new treasure the she has deposited there for safe keeping. My God! I’m a part of a squirrel nest. For every treasure I find tucked away, in trust that I will care for it, I am reminded of a moment in time when we were together and in great confidence Cloud would say, “Papa, please hang onto this for me. I don’t want to lose it.”

Days later, sometimes weeks later, I find the treasures entrusted to me and I add them to the pile of things that need be returned someday. And we’ll sit and laugh about how the treasures ended up in my possession and what stories we will share. (grin) I had to go to the grocery last night to fetch some staples–you know, the important stuff like bread and milk. The larder was quite bare. While shopping I ran into Dave, Jen and the twins. They arrived home from our shared holiday a few hours prior to us. They, too, were doing the same thing following our weeks adventure to Tobermory replenishing the food stocks. Tannon latched onto me in the store and decided that he was coming home with me. It appears that he had not had enough ‘Nana and Papa’ this past week. Actually, I think he would have stayed the night if we encouraged it in any way.
I did get some exercise in the backyard today. I am determined to continue with the work we started prior to the trip to Tobermory. So I spent most of the afternoon digging out roots of crabgrass. It felt good to be working beside the garden and admiring the way it has grown in the week we have been away. There are tomatoes on the tomato plants and there are really cucumbers on the vines. I can taste the dill pickles now. It really doesn’t matter that there are only two cucumbers almost ready to harvest. What is important is that two cucumbers grew. I am confident more will grow. The challenge now is that it happen before the first frost of the fall. That can happen any time now. It is evident that gardens grow, quite well, in spite of our ministrations, to produce the most delectable food. David picked radishes last night that were the size of small apples and left them on the the counter top in the kitchen for our dining pleasure upon our arrival home. What a delight!
But I digress. The digging finished, I moved about twelve heavy paving stones to the back of the property. Thank heaven Joy came along to help me do some of the lifting. I am too tired to lay the stones today. That can be a tomorrow job. I’ve cleared enough roots to lay at least three more stones in the walkway. Then I’ll dig again. I’m thinking I’ll call DJ, our grandson and see if he would like to earn some spending money over the next week. He is a young 16 with strong muscles.
Right now, I think I need a nap before preparing dinner. Yes, a glass of wine, a nap and dinner. Just what the doctor ordered. I’ll get to it then.                            GRB

George – Farmer (of sorts)
August 4, 2008

I checked! One of the meanings of my name is “farmer”. To be sure, that is not what I am. But I have a better appreciation for the role having toiled this summer, with Joy (Ha! a pun), in our backyard.

View from the house to the green space.

View from the house to the green space.

It is beginning to pay dividends. I can now see a design emerging from the chaos. Who knows, perhaps by next summer it will be sufficiently completed that we can sit and enjoy the sounds of the birds, wind in the trees and butterflies flitting about.

For the moment I am more aware of an aching back, and tired hands and feet. It is a labour of love! That is the litany that keeps me at it. At least that’s the story I’m using today. And I’m sticking to it. Oh, oh! Here comes the litany of love again. I’d best get back to work!                         GRB

Where are you Noah when a fellow needs an ARK?
August 1, 2008

Today the car needed servicing so I travelled an hour down the highway to the dealership and left my car in their care. I did note that there was a lowering sky. Heavy dark clouds were building north of the town and in the distance I could hear the deep rumble of thunder. Actually the clouds were more than dark; they were black, intensely black and they were piling up higher and higher. There were some powerful updrafts raising the tops of the clouds heavenward.

I watched a while longer standing out on the street in awe of the power of nature. Meteorology was one of my favourite courses when doing my Degree in Geography. It was a very loud clap of thunder that wakened me from my reverie. “That one was much closer”, thought I unfurling my umbrella in anticipation of becoming very wet and striding off in haste toward the restaurant.

No sooner did I enter the restaurant than another clap of thunder shook the building and lightning streaked across the sky. The rain started, first lightly then with increasing force until it was like watching someone upturn a large pail of water. Individual drops were replaced by a torrent and now other patrons were on their feet faces glued to the windows.

It was about that time that I began to think about the great flood. You know the one where God said, “Noah! I want you to build an ark.” And Noah responded with, “Riiiiiight! What’s an ark?”

But the Creator wasn’t done this day, yet! Powerful winds drove down the face of the cliff across the highway opposite the restaurant. The glass in the large picture windows bowed inward slightly from its force and it drove the rain sideways. The prudent ones stepped back from the glass not quite trusting its strength. Building eaves were no protection at all.

I watched two young women make a dash for their car in the parking lot; their squealing could be heard above the din of the driving rain. Long before they reached their car to fumbled with the key in the lock, their hair was plastered to their heads dripping rivulets from each strand. Chances are good that they sat in puddles when their botoms hit the car seats. It must have been a very important appointment that drove them out into that rain. Then again, maybe they still liked running through puddles. It is still high on my list of entertainment.

I started making plans, mentally sketching out the architecture of an ark. Where in the heck is Noah when a fellow needs an ark? And what’s a cubit anyway?

As suddenly as it started, it stopped! Dead calm! An occasional plip into one of the myriad puddles in the parking lot. So I’ll just put these ark plans on hold for now. I’m ready for the real thing. Was this a test, God? Heh! Heh!            GRB

Cell Phone rant…
August 1, 2008

I can’t believe my ears. I am watching the news and one of the lead stories reports Bell and Telus are going to start charging their customers not only for sending text messages but for receiving them as well. If I understand this story ( correctly, should you send me a text message you are charged $.15 for that message and I am going to be charged $.15 for receiving the message. I didn’t ask you to text message me. It is a phone. Phone me!

Cell phone users, for goodness sake send your cell phones back to the companies and stop this madness. As consumers you have the power to force the companies to change. It is not the responsibility of government to protect you from this kind of gouging. You have a responsibility to control your own destiny. Please, wake up and quit allowing the phone companies to do this.  If we all sent our cell phones back to the companies they would have to change  or go out of business.  This is utter maddness!                            GRB