DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" ""> Tossing Pebbles in the Stream: 09/01/2007 - 10/01/2007 .comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Tossing Pebbles in the Stream

This blog is my place to sit and toss pebbles into the stream. The stream of Life relentlessly passing before us. We can affect it little. For the most part I just watch it passing and follow the flow. Occasionally, I need to comment on its passing, tossing a pebble at it to enjoy the ripple affect upon Life's surface.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Bring on the Rest of the Questions

This morning when I turned on my computer and the Welcome page for AOL came up there it was, a test, a quiz actually. I just can't resist a test. It was 10 questions of the new American immigration questionaire. For those applying for citizenship learning the answers to such questions is part of the process. There are apparently 100 questions in all.

Well! I did the quiz and got 100%, ten out of ten, perfect!!!! (Does pride really come before the fall?) Any less and I would have been disappointed in myself as I have spent a lifetime interested in our southern neighbour.(What I felt was more like warm satisfaction than pride.)

Now I want to see the whole list of 100 questions! Do they really reveal the essence of America and American's knowledge of itself?
Probably not. One word answers to questions are by nature superficial.

I wonder how many Americans would do as well as I or most Canadians on a list of superficial questions about Canada, disappointing few as most Canadians know and often joke about.

I believe we are slowly, as a country, learning to live with our lack of recognition, approval and appreciation by our southern cousins. We care less now than we did when I was younger. In my lifetime, Canada has matured as a country and culture and has little reason to feel envious of the Great Republic.

In the meantime, I am ready with the answers, just in case I get invited to become an American citizen, or get challenged to an American version of the game of Trivial Pursuit.!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Some of my Critters

Here are a few of the critters about the place. They are what get me up in the morning. They demand little more than to be fed and watered and treated with kindness. They give back joy to me.

This is my flock of one. The only one that hatched out of a incubator group of 40. It turned out the temperature was not high enough. I recently tried to move it into the chicken coop but it was not comfortable there. The other hens did not attack it but they let it know it didn't belong so it was aways trying to hide. I was not going to move it back into my kitchen so I decided to put it in a cage of its own in the rabbitry.

I think this white chicken is a banty hen. Time will tell. I have a couple of white banty's in the hen house that a friend gave me.

I seldom name my animals so this chick is nameless. We have as nice a relationship as you can have with a hen. When it was in the kitchen she sat with. and on, me as we watched TV. She was learning to stay perched on my shoulder. I thoughI might let her think she is a falcon. I bet she misses TV in the shed.

As soon as I open her cage she wants to step out onto my hand as you can see in the photo.

This is my latest batch of bunnies. The other older batch of seven black ones are in the rabbitry. This group is in the basement of the house with their mother for now. I wish they would stand still long enough for me to take a clear picture. I resist picking them up but if I put my hand in their midst they will cuddle against it and lick it. They are so damn cute. There are six in this bunch . One black, one rusty one and four white ones. The white one with the grey nose and tail is my favourite.

This is Babe at the basement door. She is there every morning waiting for me to emerge with the feed. She has a name because she is really June's pig. She begged for one that she could keep as a pet when they were born. It turns out she is more my pet. If I was more practical Babe would be in the freezer supplying us with pork this coming year. Instead, she has a date with a boar so she can be productive by having a litter, her first.

My other sow, Babe's mother, will get the same date with some stunning boar.

"A pimping I will go, a pimping I will go, . . . . . . . . ." I wish I didn't have to arrange these things.

I certainly don't have to arrange a breeding for my cats. I thought I had them down to a manageable number when "Oops, she did it again!" Mother cat had a litter down in the shed and brought them to the kitchen when she wanted them weaned. And then, "Oops, another cat did it". She had a litter outside and dropped two very little kittens at the back door. They are still in a nest I made in a closet out of the way. I believe one kitten from the first litter and the two from the second are missing from this picture. You do the math. Too many!!!

I need to find out from someone how I can get blogger to let me post more than four pictures at a time.??? Any help out there.

Besides this group of critters I have the following, all named by others: a cow, Daisy, and a heifer, Lucy, another sow, Ruby and my dog, Ben, and my neighbour's dog, Blackie (we share). Sadly, Blackie has gone missing but I still have a little hope! I would have liked to include them.
Perhaps, another time.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Tragedy, The Insanity, The Criminality

One likes to think that decisions to go to war; risking so many lives and costing so much of a Nation's treasure is a reasoned one. Around a table, a very sober and serious group of men and women speak of all the implications coming to the conclusion, "Mr. President, we have come to the near unanimous decision that we have no other alternative than to go to war." It seems I am a dreamer and have watched too many movies.

Recently, a document has been published which gives a different picture of what really went on before the War on Iraq. It is a conversation among President Bush, President Aznar of Spain and Advisor Rice. It is shocking in its unreasonable tone and casualness.

Historian Dr. Juan Cole, discusses this document in no uncertain terms.

"El Pais published a transcript (reprinted at this link) of the conversation between George W. Bush, Jose Maria Aznar of Spain, and Condoleeza Rice held at Crawford before the Iraq War. Bush is typically bullheaded, impatient, conspiratorial, bullying, arrogant, ill-informed and way over-optimistic. The transcript shows the true colors of the man-- a sort of thuggish, ignorant Mafia don-- who destroyed the United States and destroyed Iraq. "

I urge everyone to read all of Dr. Cole's remarks. He is among the most informed people on the Middle East and the War in Iraq.

To my dying day, I will never understand why the American people have not taken care of President Bush by now. (Unless stopped, his next catastrophic decision will be to attack Iran).
Like a voice in the wilderness Daniel Ellsberg calls for bureaucrats and politicians to do their duty and uphold the Constitution in defense of the Nation. Ellsberg personally learned his lesson over Vietnamm when he belatedly did his duty and had the Penatagon Papers published.
'A Coup Has Occurred' - by Daniel Ellsberg

Empeachment is the least the Americans could do. Justice cries out for trials for war crimes for members of the Bush Administration. I will spare you my rant!

One feels so helpless! "Nero fiddles while Rome burns."

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Islam Can Speak to Us All

My life has been largely a religious quest. Religion has fascinated me, frustrated me and filled much of my intellectual life. Sadly, it has seldom satisfied me. It seem there is part of me that resists "submission" to the Mysterious. This may be a tale for another time: my journey from the child in school banished to the corridor for not publically reciting the Lord's Prayer to the clergyman I become as a vehicle for my personal seeking.

I have long been interested in World Religions. At one time, I could have been persuaded to become a reformed Jew as a result of a wonderful service in a Toronto Synagogue. Likewise, I was deeply impressed with Buddhism. And then, I was tempted to consider the life of a brother in a Trappist Monestary.(I fancied the robes and solituded. And I had read far to much of Thomas Merton) I found I came to hold a loyalty to the liberal religion of the Unitarian -Universalist denomination. It gave me a religious home when it seemed their was no place for a questioning religious person. If I were beginning again I might very have well become a Quaker.

Being a child of the '60's there was always the temptation of New Age religion through chemical mysticism but all that seemed so undisciplined. I find classical mysticism of all Faiths, requiring submission and discipline much more interesting. I am not very good at either. So I have limited my fascination with religion and mysticism to intellectual inquiry of the religious, Religion and particular Religions.

We all have much to learn from other Faiths than our own. In trying to understand them I believe one must consider them at their best to learn the great truths they have to teach. All Faiths have forms that are less than ideal and with element brought in from history, custom, ignorance and prejudice which detract from what they have to offer us. Also, I think one must try to understand what the meaning the religion has to the humble practitioner. "Theology is the price you pay for converting intellectuals to religion". I once read on the jacket of a book. This is not where religion is lived and felt as stimulating as the intellectual inquiry is.

Thanks to the American invasion and occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq and their war against Islam, I have become interested in Islam and in particular, Shi'a Islam. Of all the world Faiths, it calls the loudest for submission; the very name, Islam, means to submit.

We are in the midst of the Islamic holiest time of the year. Ramadan. This is a wonderful religious and family and community time. It is a month long spiritual discipline of fasting during the daylight hours during which scripture and prayers are said, and eating with family and friends wonderful food after sunset and before sunrise. It is a time when Muslims seek to purify themselves and bring themselves once gain into the right relationship with God. Charity is also encourage at this time as are other ideal behaviours. (This is part of the website for Ismaili Muslims. It is one of the Shite branches of Islam whose Iman is the Agha Khan IV who is the 49 Imam, a direct descendent from Allah. The whole website is a fascinating read. I first met Ismaili Muslims when they were driven out of Uganda by Idi Amin and some came to Canada, and shared "church" space with the Unitarian Church in my home town.)

The other blog I enjoy reading is by an American Muslim woman who lives in Boston. Her father is an Imam in that city. She explains the meaning of Islam very well.

If you know little about Islam I invite you to read in a couple of blogs on my sidebar, particulary about the meaning of Ramadan. The first is the one by "Sunshine." She is a 13 year old Iraqi girl, living with her family in the midst of a war zone. She is articulate and a delightful person.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Laura's Great Adventure

I just found out my niece Laura has finally moved to Ausstralia. This has been in the works for some time trying to get all the paperwork in order, still I felt a twinge of regret to know that she is so far away. What I feel is nothing compared to what my brother and his wife feel. . . . At night when all is still I expect to be able to hear them weeping and wailing. . . . My brother has a wonderful bond with his girls and will miss Laura, his first born who is now so far away.

Over the years I have not seem much of Laura and her sisters Heather and Andrea, since the family moved to North Carolina. I have followed their growing and their education (at which they have excelled) over the years. I have always been very interested in the three girls and how they have developed as wonderful women.

Laura is the oldest and this past year she has become an immigration lawyer. (Not that she could do anything for our undocumented relatives in the US. Not all illegal residents speak Spanish and swim the Rio Grande: some speak English and swim the Niagara River. lol)
Laura has gone to Australia to be with her beau, Dominic. I wish them a wonderful life together in the land down under.
Laura has started a blog, , to share her life with those of us left behind. I shall read it with interest.
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Thursday, September 20, 2007

Enough Meditation and Prayer Until Spring

The Christian Mystic, Evelyn Underhill wrote, "Work is a form of prayer." (I would refine this as "work joyfully and well done is a form of prayer". As I have written before I like to think of preparing the Winter's wood as a form of meditation, the Zen of Wood. One had to give one over to the task, study the wood for the best lines of fracture, feel the pains of your muscles, let the sweat pour forth and the build an artful pile to let the wind and the sun cure the wood to just the right moisture content.

Well! my experience of Zen is over for this year. The wood is done. I have split and piled in the basement about ten face cord of wood, which is dry and ready to burn. David, my faithful helper, and I have cut, split and piled about 15 face cord outside which I will cover with a tarp to keep the rain and snow off . The heat, wind and cold will cure the wood for use in the late Winter and Spring.

See David loading the last of the wood into his "truck".

We have three piles of stovewood over four feet high and 33 feet long. and the beginning of a fourth. I estimate about 15 face cords.

For those of you whose lives are not organized around wood, a cord is a measure of wood. At one time, there was a forestry trade called a scaler. He would come into the bush and scale,(measure) the wood in logs. Loggers were paid by the cord. it is an inexact measure. There are two scales, one favours the logger and the other favours the purchaser of the wood. Guess which one the government scaler used.? Now wood is seldom scaled. It is weighed. The logger is paid by the tonne (we use metric tonnes in Canada), as is the trucker and the contractor who manages the wood lot. It is fairer as long as the logger gets a variety of species to cut and the logs are not left on the ground too long for they can dry out and lose weight.

The cord is a measure still used for firewood. Legally, " a cord is 128 cu feet of air and wood". This is a pile of cord wood 4' X 4' X 8. If it is pile of boards rather than round or split wood it is 70 cu feet. The cord of firewood is also inexact for their is more wood in a pile of split wood than is a pile of round wood.

Around here people have gotten into the habit of calling a face cord, 16" X 4' X 8', a cord. It is actually 1/3 of a cord. Seller's beware. I am waiting to purchase some cords of wood and have a seller bring me only face cords. Where are my 2/3 of a cord?? A legal case could be won. When you are buying and comparing prices, know what you are talking about.

To confuse it even further there are long cords. This is wood two feet long rather than 16". It is in fact 1/2 cord.

I am sure you are finding this fascinating. Sorry.!

My dear friend, Madam Carré, once told me she was not going to leave me her estate when she died. For a number of years she had said she was going to. I spent a lot of time trying to dissuade her. I would find it very embarassing for her daughters and grandchildren and great granchildren are my neighbours. There were already whispers that I was after her money.

When she told me this, I told her I was relieved. I told her I never wanted anything from her except her friendship, "and that would last me a lifetime.". Then I added, there is one thing of hers I coveted,. . . . . her scalers rule, (she and her husband had been jobbers logging in the bush). I half expected her to give it to me on the spot but she didn't. Her Grandson next door has it now.

To complete the story, after she died her daughter came by the house with a large framed jigsaw puzzle of a lovely farm scene, which we had put together over many cups of coffee. "My mother wanted you to have this picture." It hangs in a place of honour in my library. I know she like this jigsaw picture and she apparently associated with it quality time with me.

Still, I sure would like a scaler's rule.

Here is David resting on his walker. He calls it his "truck". While I am the logger he is the trucker. He has managed to do quite a bit of work. He seem to relish working (He has worked hard all his life). Just as we were finishing he asked me if i was going to get some more to cut and spit. "You can never have too much wood." Here he can not only do a little work but he can watch the dogs, pigs and cows in the yard. Also, overhead these days are flocks of honking geese which sometime land to rest on my fields. I may give in and get some slab wood to cut up for kindling. David could help with this also.

Here are some of my neighbour's cows which came for a visit. I called him to let him know and that they were not on the road. The two in the front are mine. They got a close as the electric fence would allow. I suspect they were checking to see if the bull came this herd of cows and calves. They are both in need of a good breeding (aren't we all) unfortunately the bull did not come. I must have one over for a couple of weeks of good grazing and cow companionship.
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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

My Grandmother Lavinia Beeston

Lavinia Beeston, my maternal grandmother as I remember her

My maternal grandparents, Charles Parker Beeston (after whom my son Parker is named) and Lavinia Beeston (Walley) came to Canada in 1913 from the Potteries (the six towns where the china and pottery making industry concentrated.) The story goes that my grandfather was not successful in his father's hardware and construction business so in embarassment they moved to Canada. (My great grandfather, Charles Beeston, was a prosperous business man and the mayor of his town (either Stoke upon Trent or Newcastle-under-Lyme.) I must try to sort this out.)

When they came to Canada they left three of their children, an eldest son and two daughters, behind to be care for by "Aunt Jennie" until they got established. It took three years. My mother and one of my aunts were born in Canada.

I have no pictures of my grandmother as a young woman. If fact, the one above is the only one I have. I believe my sister has some of her younger. It is hard for me to imagine her as a young woman. It is even harder for me to imagine she had five children. For me she was always the little elderly proper Methodist lady who took the pledge at 18 and never drank alcohol all her life. While I consider myself politically quite radically left, and I love to be around interesting "different" kind of people, there is much in me that is conservative and conventional, mainly in the realm of the family and daily living.

I remember my grandmother as kind and gentle. She always had a few candy treats for us in her purse, in which their was alway a perfumed hankerchief. I can smell it still! Do any women carry hankerchiefs any more?

My grandmother new a lot about chinaware. You could not serve her tea without her finding an opportunity to turn the cup or saucer over to see what kind of china it was. "Made in England, it must be good."

I remember the death of my grandmother. I was 13. We woke up for school and my parents were not home. Very unusual!, a little frightening. When they came in my mother told us that Grandma had died. This was my first experience of a death of someone close to me. (The first of many) I was asked to be one of the pall bearers, which for me was a recognition of my more adult status.

My grandmother was the source of words of wisdom that I find myself using still. "A stitich in time saves nine." "A penny saved is a penny earned." " Take care of your pennies and your pounds will take care of themselves."

Being English she had some prejudices of the Irish who drank, enjoyed a good time, could confess their sins to make everything all right, were lazy, dirty, crude. . .the usual stuff". Unfortunately, I was too young to sort all this out and it has taken me years to shake off a lot of this. Reading a lot of Irish dramas and history helped.

The strangest thing my grandmother told me in my tender years was that, "When I feel down I should always remember that I am a member of the British Empire!!!" Even at the age of 12 or 13 I smiled and felt I should break out with a rendition of "Rule Britannia, Britannia rules the waves. . ." I was a second generation Canadian and felt admiration and respect for Britain, I felt no loyalty. I don't think she would have understood. And yet, I am a bit of a Royalist and like the institution of the Queen.

I have had these memories all these years to I guess they are important to me. I must tell my grandchildren more about her.

Orange Juice is spoiled for me!

A refreshing glass of O.J. from Florida

If I never hear about the other O.J. from Florida it will not be soon enough. He is beyond contempt and one can only wish he never surfaced again.

I find the news coverage of this person insulting. He deserves to be ignored by the newsmedia. But it is news, you say! Well the news media decides to ignore real news around the World daily so that it may entertain us with so much drivel. It goes out of its way to appeal to our lesser instincts to look into the lives of the rich and famous/infamous.

Why is O.J. so news worthy that his crime, his character, his friends, his history needs to be detailed all day long. What is newsworthy about "Where are they now? (the players in his murder trial). And what makes their opinion in the present situation of any importance.

Then there are the endless experts. What self respecting professional: lawyer, psychiatrist, psychologist, sociaologist, academic etc would ever allow themselves to be drawn into TV pop analysis on less than full information. TV coverage becomes not only an appeal to our purient interest but in effect the trial of a case. Where is the remote. . .where is the remote. I need to turn this stuff off.

I may never drink O.J. from Florida again. It is tainted for me with it's association with the other O.J. from Florida, the criminal. For now, it is cranberry juice for me to perk me up in the morning. ( In about a month we will be able to tramp the Cache Bay cranberry bog and pick berries and make out own! There is an association worth having.)

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Remembering Terry Fox

Today is the day there are Terry Fox runs across Canada (some 9oo), and in places around the World, to raise funds for the Terry Fox Foundation which funds efforts to cure cancer. (since 1980 $400 million has been raised not only in Canada but around the World.

Terry Fox captured our imagination and heart back in 1980 when he began his one legged run across Canada from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Cancer had taken his leg at age 18 and he had a passion, no an obsession, to run across Canada to raise some money to fight Cancer. It was largely a solitary dream that went unnoticed at first until he got into Ontario and people began to realize his effort was "for real".

I wish I had taken the time to watch him run by as I live not far from the Trans Canada Highway. Route 17, the southern branch of the two routes of the TCH across Ontario. I did follow his efforts in the news and realized the excitment he was raising. Alas, it was in Northern Ontario, just short of Thunder Bay, that his cancer began again and he had to give up his run to the dismay of all. He had hitched along the highway, often a lonely figure , for some 5400 km. He soon after died having raised $20 million dollars in his effort that year.

He is among Canada best know and admired Canadians and we continue to honour his memory and take up his mission to raise money for a cure for cancer each year with the Terry Fox runs.

This is the stature of Terry Fox in Ottawa near the parliament building. This photo is one that is lonely and cold as his run must have often been.

It is certainly true that one person with a dream and determination can make a difference. Terry Fox epitomized that for all of us.

It is interesting to go back and revisit this historic Marathon of Hope run. One of the best places in in the CBC film Archives Terry Fox's Marathon of Hope - People - CBC Archives

Here is an article on Terry written in June. 2006 CBC News Indepth: Terry Fox

And, of course, Wikipedia Terry Fox - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Friday, September 14, 2007

A Trip to the Cemetary

It began with a mildly panicked call from June while I was across the village working at a neighbours, "David is gone. He is going to Sturgeon!" Thinking she meant he was going to the hospital and the ambulance was coming or had already been, I asked, "What happened? Is he sick?" No she said, "He is going to Sturgeon. He took his walker and said he was going to walk to Sturgeon. I couldn't stop him he is going up the road toward River Valley." (David is 85 and in no shape to walk the 26 miles to Sturgeon Falls.)

I drove back across the village toward the house and intercepted him about 1000 yards up the road coming toward me. He had made it over the hill to my surprise. I stopped and asked him. "Where are you heading." "I am going to Sturgeon. She doesn't want me any more!" "Come on get in I will take you back home." " No! I am going to Sturgeon." I want to go to the cemetary and then I am going to the cemetary in Verner." (20 miles away). "Who do you know in the cemetary in River Valley.?" I asked. "My in laws." "Come on, I will drive you there. Let me put your walker in the back of the car and get in." This is how the trip to the cemetary began.

The cemetary in River Valley is a parish cemetary of the Eglise de Sainte Rose de Lima. Here the local French Catholic parishioners are buried or expect to be buried. It is about a mile from my house and I must pass it every time I go anywhere.

Before David and I could drive to the cemetary June joined us walking down the road. While I was distracted she took David's walker out of the car and he refused to get back in.
"Make him get in." June pleaded. " Well then, I will walk with you. "I told David, hoping June would just go away for now. She evenually did saying she was going back to the house and would join us at the cemetary. "It is a mile you know." I reminded David. "That's OK, I will rest on my walker when I am tired." So we walked and talked about the weather, the trees turning, the geese on the field, my neighbours cattle. Two or three times he stopped and sat down on his walker. I picked some bird's foot treefoil growing along the road and put it in his little basket on his walker to take home to my rabbits.

We finally reached the cemetary. I was surprised David made it. My gimpy knees were complaining and I was wishing I had a walker to sit down on. I eventually sat on a headstone feeling some what uncomfortable as if it was disrespectful. (I must suggest to the cemetary board that they put in a park bench). David wandered around and located his in-laws marker and some headstones of people he had known with a story about each. "This is the guy I bought the lovely little horse from." He had previously told me the story.

I too looked around the cemetary at all the familiar family names: Ayotte, Giroux, Tessier, Legault, etc. The families are all still well represented in our small town. I recognized people I had know in the years I have lived here. You know you are old and perhaps "belong" (I may never fully belong. I will continue to be seen as an outsider.), when you seem to know more people buried in the cemetary than in town. This is really not true but it certainly has been a long time since I moved here in 1980. It is home.

By now June had joined us coming in the car. I am sure I would not have easily walked back home, even if David could. With a promise to drive him to the cemetary in Verner, where some of his family is buried, including a grandson who had drowned a few years ago, and then. to the cemetary in Crystal Falls, where his parents are buried, David accepted the invitation to go back home for breakfast.

For two days, David insisted he was leaving and getting an apartment in Sturgeon Falls, with out June. I stayed out of it wisely. Eventually, June informed me he told her he loved her and he was again his regular self. My helper was once again happy to join me in piling the wood I have been spitting.

Years ago, when I first came to River Valley, Father Bradley, the parish priest visited me out of curiousily as to who this single father, English speaking, 'cleric', with one child , was. I was clearly a curiousity and an outsider. He was polite and friendly but in spite of his name he was a strong French nationalist and saw English only speakers somewhat threatening in his town, which had been his fiefdom for 35 years. He now is buried in the cemetary on the highest point of land with the largest monument. . .still keeping guard over his flock.

On this occasion, he went out of his way to tell me they even had a protestant buried in the cemetary. A fellow named Campbell. I later went to look for his stone (above) and laughted! He was there alright but right in the corner near the road nearly outside the cemetary. I later learned he was actually outside the cemetary on the road allowance until they straighted the fence. Was Father Bradley's hand in this? I suspect so for he controlled everything in this hamlet back then.

Well, if he was ever uneasy about young Campbell being in his cemetary, he can rest easy now for last year they came and dug up Campbell and shipped his remains out west to a family cemetary. Perhaps, now there is a place for me in the cemetary. . . .just on the outside edge. How appropriate.

The is the headstone of my dear friend Madame Carrie (even after nearly 20 years of knowing her I never called her Delima). Our relationship is a full chapter in a novel. She was romantically attached to me while I saw her as an older motherly friend. There were tensions at times that wewre both touching and humourous. And comments were occasionally made in town, after I first escorted her to a family gathering where 400 of her closest relatives were in attendance. We ignored them. I was very fond of her and she was very good to me and Parker. I miss her often.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Canadian Census 2006

The Canadian Census of 2006 has just been made public. It shows us how we have changed as a population since the last census in 2001. The most striking thing this year is that it is the first time that same-sex marriages have been listed. It will take a few census period to pass before these statistics reflect the reality. While over 12,000 licenses (many for people coming to Canada to be married) have been issued only just over 7,000 same sex marriages have been reported for census purposes. Apparently, the questions and attitudes need some refining to ellicit the accurate information.

There are other interesting details. The Canadian family is being redefined. Besides, same-sex families, there are more single parent families, childless familes, common-law marriages etc.

The family was redefined for me years ago, when I found myself a single parent of a son. Back then for a father to have custody was rare. I found myself doing things to underscore that we were a family, a small one but a family none the less. I felt some people thought I was just a single guy with a kid. I know we never went to the show on a weekend for that was when the non custodial fathers entertained their kids. We went, as a family during the week. And, of course, I did all the "mother" things I could, from being on the PTA to organizing the school lunch room program. Oh how I protests those school letter addressed to the mother. I am sure, these days, with the continuing changes in the understanding of the nature of the Canadian family, fewer assumptions are made.

The classic two parent and children family is decreasing as a percentage, and in size. 1.5 children per family is the average. In the US it is 2.0. As a result, Canada's population increase is due to immigration while in the US national child births account for the increase still. I was surprised to seen that the highest percentage of single parent families is in Nunavut. I wonder what this says about the values and conditions in the Inuit family? In Quebec, there are the highest number of couples just living together, and a very low birthrate. The Catholic Church has lost it's control over the French Canadian population, which we also see in Northern Ontario among the French Catholics. This is a process that has been going on for several decade. For more comment on the census read this news report Canada's changing family Here is how it applies to Toronto Single-parent families on rise in Toronto

For a real examination of Canada through the census go to the Statistics Canada site and click on the table of contents. 2006 Census: Portrait of the Canadian Population in 2006 The information here could be the basis of a year long study of Canada. I particularly liked the flash animation illustrations. Here are three of them NWT11mars Quebec 11mars Ontario 11mars

It is interesting to know of all the G8 countries Canada is growing the fastest. Population growth in G8 countries from 2001 to 2006 It is interesting that Germany has stablized it population and Russia is losing population. Socially, what is happening in Russia?

Canadians continue to be an urban people. It was back in the early 1950's that the majority of people came to live in cities rather than in the rural areas. We also continue to live within a short distance of the American border. Along the historic east-west corridor first traversed by the fur trade, then the railroad and now the trans-canada highway. As a result, it seems Canada will always have a vast wilderness area in its north, both the near North and the Far North which includes the Arctic region. Hopefully we will learn to care for it better as resource extraction temporarily draws more workers to the North.

It is interesting that the three territories now total over 100.000 people. Aboriginal peoples have a large say, politically, in how this part of Canada will be used.
2006 Census: Portrait of the Canadian Population in 2006 2

The census is a wonderful resource, which the government uses to make decisions about Canada programs and we can use to learn more about our country and our heritage. I invite you to expore Canada through it.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

A Day Remembered: September 11, 2001

It was a surreal morning back in 2001. We we all watched aghast at the horror of it. The "movie" played out but in the end we all had to come to terms with the reality of the horror of it all.

It was more than Amercian tragedy. Of the 3000 who died there were people representing up to 70 countries. Canada lost 24 of its citizens.Canadians who died in World Trade Center Disaster Sept 11, 2001 The World Trade Center was a monument to world wide commerce.
For this, it may have been a target.

For our American cousins it was an affront: an attack on its citizens and its understanding of itself , in New York, Washington and Pennsyvania, as the leading Nation of the World. American was the be changed for ever.

Canada and the World, stood in solidarity and sympathy with the United States. Canada responded by having the grounded air planes land at our airports where not only did government agencies respond efficiently but local Canadian families took in strangers into their homes and lives, unhesitantly. We were after all neighbours!

As the years have passed. The inadequate and wrong headed response to this terrorist tragedy has just added to the horror of it all. The World's good will for American was squandered and fear saw the Nation of Liberty transform itself for the worst. And then there, were those who used the tragedy to bring war to a country with no responsibility for the tragedy for an agenda that can best understood as a grab for control of oil. They have have earned the World's contempt. Millions of Iraqi citizens and ten of thousands of American soldiers have paid a terrible price in death and injury.

The War on Afghanistan has proved to have been a crude response to terrorism when a precious response was called for. It has little affected the threat of terrorism. And left a country to try to repair itself and regain it peace and sovereignty. It has come to be seen as a dubious military adventure.

Sadly, the truth of these word of W.H. Auden were realized " Those to whom evil is done/ Do evil in return."

Friday, September 07, 2007

Prelude to Autumn

Well! I am starting to anticipate Autumn. The rain today and the refreshingly cool breeze coming through my window put one in the mood. When I took my bath in the river it seemed somewhat colder. In a couple of weeks it may be too cold to swim comfortably.

Now that my split wood is tucked away in the basement, I know I will have fuel enough for the kitchen cookstove, around which life revolves all Winter.

Here is my much loved antique wood cookstove. My previous post with the photo of the cat and kitten under the stove, reminded me it was time to clean the stove before its daily use is called for. You should have been able to see my reflection taking the picture in the chrome.

The chimney will need a thorough cleaning, also. I could do without another fire that began with a chimney explosion.

My favourite activity around the stove. Cooking on it. It is particularly satisfying when I cook using ingredients a grew or raised myself.

The first sign of Autumn in the air is the Black Ash trees turning colour. They are the first to turn and often have dropped all their leaves by the time the other trees are in full colour.

I have been waiting all Summer for the Chinese Lantern plant to ripen. Physalis - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia It has largely overrun one of my gardens. I hope there is enough fruit to make a batch of jam. This plant is poisonous. Eating the green fruit and leaves can be fatal. Interestingly my, pig, which may eat other things in the garden, ignores this plant with its lush dark green leaves. Smarter than the average pig!

I am interested in edible wild plants. Native Canadians in this part of ther continent, Anishanabi, prior to European contact, were probably more food gatherers and fishermen than hunters. The fur trade transformed their culture into a trading economy based of hunting furs.
The forest is a banquet of food if you know what to look for.

Many plants are listed as poisonous when, in fact, parts of them , in the right season, or cooked properly are quite edible.

If you are interested in potentially poisonous plants here are a couple of good sites.

From the Canadian Government , a good place to start Canadian Poisonous Plants Information System

If you live farther south there is a nice site in North Carolina , Poisonous Plants and Mushrooms of North Carolina

More Cats

I am almost too tired to make this humble post. All that wood I split is now in the basement. filling about 1/4 of the space. I have a little more room inside for about a full cord of slab wood that will make good kindling. It has been a race against the possibility of rain. Today it is going to rain!

I still have the logs to cut up and split and pile so it will cure for late Winter use. I can take my time with this green wood.

While I was trundling wood into the basement one of my mother cats showed up with a litter of lovely kittens she had in the shed. She brought these feral cats into the house and has decided to finish caring for them under my wood cookstove. I tried to take a picture of these wild ones. It will take time as they scurry away if you get too close.

click on photo to enlarge

I liked this picture for the one little kitten suddenly stuck its face out. There are five lovely little kittens. Once again, I have far too many cats!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007


I could not resist doing this quiz after my email pal, Julie posted her result . I admire her audacious claim to be a liberal in a part of the US which is predominantly conservative. Recently, she married a conservative Babtist minister. I wish her much happiness but wonder about the spirited conversations in her future.

I guess my answers to the questionaire were truthful for I think I may just be a "Peace Patroller". It started in 1960, when I joined my first, peace group, "Ban the Bomb" .

How to Win a Fight With a Conservative is the ultimate survival guide for political arguments

My Liberal Identity:

You are a Peace Patroller, also known as an anti-war liberal or neo-hippie. You believe in putting an end to American imperial conquest, stopping wars that have already been lost, and supporting our troops by bringing them home.

It seem the political pendulum is swing back and being a "liberal" may no longer be an evil thing in the US for which politicians have to apologize. This article give one reason to hope. Sour Americans Hungry for Change as Election Approaches - Now if only the Democratic Party can embrace liberalism to the extent the population has hopefully will continue to do.

Sunday, September 02, 2007


This morning I put on all my logger's safety gear (boots, pants, helmet with eye screen, ear muffs, and gloves and headed for the bush to finally get some the logs out that blew down last summer. My neighbour came with his skidder to make the job relatively easy. I meant to have June take a picture of me so you could see what a well dressed logger looked like. After working in the bush and having some near misses I have come to appreciate this equipment. Even with it I managed to fell two trees that struck me , nearly cut off my big toe and came close to running myself over with my own skidder, in my short career as a logger. Oh! i should mention I rolled my skidder over with me inside once. What self respecting logger hasn't done it? The equipment doesn't make you any smarter. . . . . .just makess a most unforgiving job a little forgiving.

It is a beautiful clear warm day with a cool breeze blowing: an ideal day for what we are going to do. I did manage to work up a good sweat just putting the gear on. The pants are too small ( have put on some weight, I see) and the boots are always a struggle. I had to wait for Leo so I had a chance to rest and cool down before we struck out into the bush just in front of the house.
After a morning of labouring at the wood cutting we called it quits, for now. Now I have some wood to cut, split and pile for use in the late Winter; Early Spring.

(click on photo to enlarge)

The task before me for this week.

And there is this split wood to tuck away in the basement. To make it enjoyable; one has to face doing wood as a spiritual discipline. The Zen of Wood!!! I prefer this idea to self- flaggelation!

When rest is required I can join the cats on the couch. If I could come back I think "as a cat" would be very attractive.

Sometimes I just play with my bird and watch TV. My" flock of one" is growing and getting a few feathers. I think it thinks I am it's mother. Am I turning into some old cogger who keeps a chicken in the house? (I have a backwoods neighbour who lives with two women and kids an keeps his chickens in the house because he is too lazy to go look for the eggs. Don't you just love the country with all it characters. I am sure some people think am one!

I finally gave into June's pleading and gave her one of the bunnies. She went out and bought this condo for the bunny and a lot of fancy food and attachments. $125 to house a $2 bunny.
Maybe, if I come back it could be as a pet bunny for a little old lady. One could get used to being cuddled between her ample breasts and be made a fuss over.

Today, is the anniverary of Dave and June's wedding I officiated with them by the river last year. With Dave you would think she has enough to look after without a pet pig, rabbit, two dogs and a cat.!

Well so much for this time out. Back to the wood project. Ommmm! Ommmm!