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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.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Canada Day Graphics

You Might Be Canadian If...

You bring a portable TV on a camping trip so that you don't miss Hockey Night.
You hum David Foster's '88 Calgary Olympics theme in the shower.
You know that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) don't always look like that.
You can sing "O' Canada" in French and actually know what the words mean.
You send angry letters to the CBC demanding the return of the Hinterland Who's Who spots so you can finally find out what happens to the arctic ptarmigan in winter.
You think Great Big Sea isn't Atlantic-centric enough.
You know the French equivalents of "free", "prize" and "no sugar added", thanks to your extensive education in bilingual cereal packaging.
You still haven't taken down your "NON" posters from the 95 Referendum.
You know more than 3 guys named Gordon.
You think Ashley MacIssac isn't Celtic enough.
You can eat more than one maple sugar candy without feeling nauseous.
You think -10 C is mild weather.
You have twins named Donovan and Bailey.
You know the ingredients for poutine.
You know what happens in the Evergreen Forest when Bert Raccoon wakes up.
You dressed as Bruno Gerussi for Halloween. You spent hours sifting through garbage on the beach to prepare for the role.
You know that the 'Extra Creamy' in Kraft Extra Creamy Dinner is 'add more milk.'
You know the difference between real snow and "television" snow -- the white stuff that passes for snow on tv and in films.
Someone accidentally stepped on your foot. You apologize.
You stepped on someone's foot. You apologize, then apologize for making them apologize.
You pity people who haven't tasted a "beavertail".
Your Saturday nights in the Atlantic provinces include eating beans and brown bread as you watch Hockey Night in Canada.
You know that the Canadian Alliance is just the Reform Party with better hair.
You know that, contrary to general belief, the Inuit have about the same amount of words for snow as do English speakers. Your favourite Inuit word for 'snow' is "navcaq" (snow formation about to collapse).
You wonder why squirrels and seagulls somehow manage to get in every zoo exhibit (including the parking lot and squirrel and seagull exhibits).
You eat chocolate bars, not candy bars.
You only know three spices: Salt, pepper and ketchup.
You know that a pike is a type of fish, not part of a highway.
You drive on a highway, not a freeway.
You have Canadian Tire money in your kitchen drawers.
You brag to Americans: Shania Twain, Jim Carrey, Celine Dion & more, are Canadians.
You know that the C.E.O. of American Airlines is a Canadian!
You design your Halloween costume to fit over a snowsuit.
You know that the last letter of the English alphabet is always pronounced "Zed".
You live in a house with no front step, but the door is one meter up from the ground.
Your local newspaper covers the national news on 2 pages, but requires 6 pages for hockey.
You know that the four seasons means: winter, still winter, almost winter, and road work/construction.
You know that when it's -10 degrees outside, it's a warm day. You perk up when you hear the theme song from "Hockey Night in Canada."
You are in grade 12, not the 12th grade.
"Eh?" is a very important part of your vocabulary, and is more polite than, "Huh?"
You call it a BUN not a "Roll".
Its called a WASHROOM not a lavatory or powder room or rest room.
You have more kilometers on your snow blower than your car.
You have 10 favorite recipes for moose meat.
You've taken your kids trick-or-treating in a blizzard.
Driving is better in the winter because the potholes are filled in with snow. You owe more money on your snowmobile than on your car.
At least twice a year, the kitchen doubles a meat processing plant.
The most effective mosquito repellent is a shotgun.
Your snow blower gets stuck on the roof.
You think the start of deer season is a national holiday.
You head south to go to your cottage.
You frequently clean grease off your barbeque so the bears won't prowl on your deck.
You know which leaves make for good toilet paper.
The major parish fund-raiser isn't bingo, it's sausage making.
You find -40C a little chilly.
The trunk of your car doubles as a freezer.
You attend a formal in your best clothes, your finest jewelery and your Sorrels.
You can play road hockey on skates.

To Laugh or be Outraged

When I first viewed this video I could not decide if it was a spoof worthy of the Daily Show or a truly outrageous coporate presentation on an economic proposal for a casino to be built in Baghdad's Green Zone.

I would entitle in "Salvation by Casino". It is not only insensitive to the cultural values of the country (ie. gambling in forbidden in Sharia Law) but also full of clique capitalist notions, ie, what is good for high rollers is good for the poor.). Well I leave it to you to listen and judge for yourself. I encourage you to view it.

If this video , broadcast last February on Iraqi TV, it not a spoof it is revealing how some have come to see Iraq as an American colony to be exploited by all kinds of get rich quick schemes.
This contains a vision of Baghdad as a future Havana, before Castro tossed the crooks and gamblers out.

It has become evident that the United States has no intention of leaving Iraq any time soon. The Bush administration is working very hard to guarantee large Western Oil Companies full access to Iraqi oil under free market conditions. (Most countires have nationalized their oil. Iraq is the last great chance for free market exploitation .) Iraq will lose it's sovereignty over it oil.

The second Bush administration "spoil of war" is to get the Iraqi's to agree to a mutual security pact . status of forces agreement, that would see 58 permanent US military bases established in Iraq from which Americans would be exempt from Iraqi law and the US military could arrest Iraqi citizens and operate militarially without Iraq's permission. Iraq is seen as the platform for the US to continue it military interference in the Arab, Persian and Central Asian world. The reason of course is OIL.

Only the Iraqis can stop this loss of their sovereignty. A very large majority want the US to just leave. Even the vassel government has grave doubts. But, of course, democracy does not win the day in the military or the corporate boardroom.

The Iraqi capitalist oil law and the mutual security agreement will be passed onto the next administration as a done deal, a Bush commitment beyond his presidency.

Mark my word, Barack Obama, who has promised to get the US out of Iraq will come to say this means something other than literally getting out of Iraq. He will reduce the number of troops but leave significant troops behind in US bases in Iraq to "help" the Iraqis. This is what he meant all along. How cynical !

Friday, June 27, 2008

Donating Organs

My blog pal Gretchen sent me the following reward and a gentle reminder of the importance of arranging to donate your organs when the time comes they are no longer needed . In Canada. it is as easy as signing in the right place on your driver's license. In other places it is no doubt just as simple. Don't forget to tell your family of your wishes to commit this last selfless act of love of others. (Your body belongs to someone else when you die.)


Crystal at Memoirs Of A Mommy created this award in honor of the donor that saved Noah's Life. Noah is her son and he had a heart transplant when he was under one month old. He just turned one earlier this month!! Her hopes are that in passing this award around, we are creating more awareness of the importance of organ donation.

I pass this award on to three other bloggers who I feel do much to share their love: Peggy, Tom and Rosie. Your good deeds have not gone unnoticed and admired.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Two More Books

I was pleasantly surprise that so many of my non-Canadian readers had read and enjoyed Anne of Green Gables. It got me to thinking of other Canadian novels I was aware of as a child which were well know in the first half of the 20th Century but less so now.

Being educated in Canada meant you studied more American literature than Canadian, of which there was some but not a lot. Stephen Leacock and W. O. Mitchell come to mind. The two novels I remember studying in high school were Prester John and Barometer Rising. The former takes place in South Aftrica while the latter is actually a Canadian novel by Hugh Maclennan set in Halifax during the Halifax Disaster. This was the extent of my formal study of Canadian Literature, while I had read lots of American literature, Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn, Little Women, Moby Dick, Billy Budd, Last of the Mohicans etc.

Years later, when my son studied the novel in high school, he read Deliverance, an American novel, a light weight one at that. Why shouln't Canadian literature be studied in high school? By this time Canada had experienced a cultural renaissance in excellent literature which could have been read. It is hard to understand. It strikes me as lower expectations for a blue collar rural high school. Give them a easy short novel not classic English literature an excellent Canadian novels. It seems a novel by any one of a number of prize winning authors ( Margaret Atwood, Magaret Laurence, Mordecai Richler, Timothy Findlay, Michael Ondaatje, Robertson Davies , etc, ) would be too hard or not as interesting. Enough of this pet peeve I would like explained to me some time.

Beautiful Joe was a book I remember reading when I was young. I found this above photo of the very dust jacket of the copy we had.

Beautiful Joe is the story of a dog who was cruelly abused by a man and rescued by a family that gave him a home. His ears and tail had been cut off among other abuses. In the end, Joe has an opportunity for "pay back". This story was based on a real dog in Meaford, Ontario. Marshall Saunders Margaret had heard the story She wrote the story, relocating it in Maine and ended up winning a prize from the Humane Society. This is the first Canadian book to sell over 1 million copies. I don't think it is read much anymore although it is still available.

Margaret Marshall Saunders, interestingly, was a contempory and friend of Lucy Maud Montgomery. Both attended the same Scottish/French school in Nova Scotia. She wrote many books which were social commentaries of the time.

We had in our house when I was young Jalna, by Mazo de la Roche. She wrote a whole series of 16 novels about the Whiteoaks family. They are about four generations of English gentry set in a Canadian setting. I was aware of Mazo de la Roche not so much of having read a little of what she wrote but because I grew up within five miles of the estate the Jalna stories were set in. In Clarkson, Ontario it is now know as Benares House.

Surprise me! Let me know you have read and enjoyed either of these books. I suspect they will not be as well known as Anne of Green Gables.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Canadian Icons

There were news items this week with reference to a couple of iconic Canadian characters: Anne Shirley and Sam Steele. This is the 100 anniversary of the writing of the book "Anne of Green Gables," by Lucy Maud Montgomery. This week a great treasure trove of historic artifacts once owned by Sam Steele were bought from his English relatives and returned to Canada. In their own way, each has helped to shape Canada's image of itself.

For those who have not read "Anne of Green Gables". . . .shame on you. If you are American, you are forgiven but I encourge you to correct this situation, particularly if you have a young person to share it with.

Anne Shirley was an orphaned girl who grew up in the home of the strict and hardworking Cuthberts. ( Presbyterians no doubt.)The red headed Anne is a delightful, smart, talkative, imaginative, young girl growing up in rural Prince Edward Island. While she occasionally got into mild trouble for the most part she her life was very civilized and charmed.

I like to think Anne Shirley is to Canada what Tom Sawyer is the the United States. Both stories are about coming of age in rural small towns or their respective countries.

Anne of Green Gables is widely loved and enjoyed across Canada. It has beeen the basis of a movie and a couple of series of TV programs. On PEI it is a virtual tourist industry where you can visit the House of Green Gables and in the summer attend a production of the play of Anne of Green Gables in Charlottetown.

Anne of Green Gables is a book read around the world. For reasons not clear to me, the Japanese, in particular, love Anne of Green Gables and the other "Anne" books. They come by the thousands to visit Prince Edward Island, a beautiful and most civilized place, and many even get married in the land of Anne Shirley.

A doll of Anne Shirley

In my family we have our own Anne Shirley. This is my niece Andrea. If she were an actress, What a wonderful Anne she would make. She is the youngest of my brother's girls. She is the funniest, most talkative, athletic and fun loving. She is presently in graduate school at the College of William and Mary studying psychology toward a career in University teaching.

The happy couple

Then again, perhaps Laura could be an Anne Shirley. Laura is my brother's oldest daughter, currently living in Australia, working as a lawyer. This picture I just got with an invitation to her wedding to the fellow standing beside her, Dominic. The wedding will be in Charlotte, NC, this fall. Since I just got this lovely photo I thought I would post it.

But I have digressed.

Sam Steele the other Canadian character I started out to mention was a real person an early North West Mounted Policeman, (Now the Royal Canaadian Mounted Police, (RCMP). He was sent to western Canada in the early days of settlement and came to represent law and order, fulfiilling the goal of Canada for "peace, order and good govenrnment."

As a young person Sam Steele was very interested in native North Americans and apparently read James Fenimore Cooper's books. His interest in and sympathy for the aboriginal peoples of Western Canada no doubt help him resolve conflicts among them and the settlers. Canada is did not experience the wars against the Indians waged by the Americans to our south. In fact, he met will the American Commander Alfred Terry. Sitting Bull when he and his tribe fled North into Canada after the Battle of the Little Big Horn. They were allowed to stay as long as they maintained the peace. He did try to encourge Sitting Bull to return to the US, which he did after a few years.

We have the mythic image of Sam Steele, thought strength of character, fairness and insistence of the rule of law, keeping the peace in the west. He, first went west to put down the Metis North-West Rebellion. Later he confronted the American whiskey traders, resolved issues between natives and settlers, turned back gun toting Americans wanting to go the the Yukon in the gold rush of the 1890's. Sam Steele, no doubt, help to establish the reputation of the Mounted Police in the early days if it deployment.

Sam Steele

Sam Steele went on the have a military career after his years in Western Canada.

If the Americans can have their iconic western lawman, Wyatt Earp, Canada can have it's lawman, Sam Steele. Each came to represent how the West was won.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Attachment to Things

I like to think I am not very attached to "things". My most prize possessions are my canoe and the gold medal I won at University. (It is the one thing I asked my wife to return when we divorced. She graciously did.) And, I love an old pair of moccasins. (more later).

I have had my classique "Prospector " canvas cedar strip canoe since I was 17. I worked half a summer to pay for it( $150) and spent the other half alone with it in Muskoka lake district. Ever since I have managed to enjoy it although it is now in serious need of repair and recanvasing. (Such canoes now sell for well over $150 a foot, as they are still largely hand crafted. That is almost my complete list. Although I do still mourn the loss of my wedding ring and my buck hunting knife (6 inch blade, black handle and scabbard.), at the hand of a thief who lived in my house at the time.

When my house caught fire and burned the roof off I went back into the burning house to grab my gold medal and the box of family photos. I guess that says a lot.

I have always enjoyed footwear, although I do not own many pairs. For years I wore only Wellington Boots with a side zipper that I cherished. (Before this I actually owned a pair of white bucks which I fussed with (How is that for revealing my age.) So cool!

Well , recently my friend Denis brought me back a pair of Mukluks made by a woman on the Webecque Reserve in Northern Ontario, not far from where he is working. I always fancied having a pair but I have always found them expensive and I am cheap.
( Only two things I don't mind spending money on are a book and an excellent restaurant meal) I also had wanted mukluks handcrafted and not commercially manufactured. I expect these mukluks will become a prized possession.

My new mukluks. They are made of soft deer skin. I will have to save them for special occasions. I expect when it is very cold outside they will work fine with only a pair of socks inside.

Here are my beloved moccasins. These are made of tough moose hide and have a double moose hide sole. I wore these Summer and Winter for about 30 years. They were perfect to canoe in and they were warm in the Winter as long as it was cold enough to stay dry. These are called Quoddy (Named after the Maine Natives, the Passamaquoddy) moccasins which I bought in Freeport, Maine. (They cost $50. An outrageous sum for me back then.) I would like to get another pair but they are now around $180. Here comes that line again about me being cheap. I am cheap BUT I do accept gifts:) . Size 8 . I have spend many wonderful hours in these moccasins but sadly they are worn out unless I can find someone capable of putting another sole of moosehide on them.

Here is what a virgin Quoddy Moccasin looks like before it is loved.
What are your most cherished possessions.
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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

We Are Sorry. . . .

Today, the Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, apologized to the aboriginal peoples of Canada for our countries genocidal policy of removing native children from their parent's home and sending them off to residential school to deliberately rid them of their native heritage, family connections, language, and culture. In short to try to make native children, white European-Canadians, , speaking English or French.

To add insult to injury, many of these children were sexually and physically abused by their religious caregivers. The school were run by Catholic, Anglican and United Church religious workers.

This went on for three generations. The damage done to individuals, families and communities is immeasureable. It is a wonder there is any Native Canadian culture left.

Needless to say, It is a little late to be saying "Sorry". For years now the churches have been paying reparations. (After the victims struggled for justice) They long ago apologized. The government has also set up funds to compensate victims of the residential school system. (After the victims struggled for justice) Saying "Sorry" for this ill conceived policy is the last piece of the effort to restore justice to Canada's original people. It would be nice if the government would quickly and fully honour treaties that have been abused for over 150 years.

This period in Canadian history brings shame on us all. One would hope history will be taught in schools that reflect this.

It seems the aboriginal peoples are satisfied with the goverment's heart felt admission for its part in this travesty. If they are satisfied I guess we all should be satisfied.

The future will speak of how sincere the government and all of Canada is as remaining serious issues between the First Nation's People and the Federal Governement are worked out.

My less sceptical sister sent me this note:

"I shed a tear today as I watched the Prime Minister of Canada and all the other Leaders of political parties acknowledge that a terrible wrong had been done to our First Nations peoples when residential schools were created to "take the Indian out of the child." This Eurocentric policy has wreaked havoc on aboriginal societies ever since. As a teacher of Canadian history I have long been concerned that many Canadians did not know about or understand how our First Nations have been abused ever since Europeans first arrived on these shores. Today's words will now have to be put into action if the apology is to become "real" for those who have been wronged. If you were not able to see the TV broadcast check out As well the CBC is running a series of documentaries about the issue called "Stolen Children."

I hope she is right.

Here are Prime Minister Harper's apology.

For more information

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Another Dog. . . .I think !!

Meet Teaka! June came in from a trip to town with the pup. It is in fact a teacup poodle. Just what we don't need. . . .another critter in the house. David has two small dogs in his room, June shares her room with four rabbits, and now this dog-like critter and I have 10 cats (I think) and Gage, of course, not to mention the occasional visit from the Runt. O yes, I have had a red squirrel living in the basement for a year. For the time being he is keeping forty young chicks company.

"You know you getting old when you prefer the company of a dog to a person."

(Click on photo to enlarge)

So far he has yet to bark.

June is trying to get the "dog" to sit.

Gage want to know when he will be ready to play. I think Gage would like to carry it around in his mouth and take care of it.
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Monday, June 09, 2008

The Runt Drops by

I heard a rattle at the front door and before I knew it the Runt had let himself in. He thought it would be nice to share some of Gage's food. He has taken to demanding special feedings. Besides wanting to come in the house to eat the dog and cat food, he wants special feed outside. While the other pigs are competing for the food I give them the Runt will just lie down and rest for he knows he can eat whenever he wants. He follows me around the yard until I give him his private food portion out of sight of the other piglets.

As you can see the Runt has grown. I suspect he now weighs 100 pounds.

We have had some hot weather. You can see the dirt on the Runt's coat from wallowing in a mud hole to cool off.

Remember when he really was a runt.

There was a time he would share the couch with Gage.

When outside Gage likes to chase the Runt a little. But in the house he just watches him with distain. Like myself, Gage is pretty laid back .

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Friday, June 06, 2008

D-Day, Normandy, June 6, 1944

Today is the Anniversary of D-Day, the great battle for a beach head on the Normandy coast of France. There are not enough superlatives to describe this battle assault. For its size, planning and execution is was truly a unique military operation, worthy of remembering and studying as a monumental struggle of the Allies to turn the tide against Nazi Germany in recapturing Europe. It was the third piece of the puzzle in the struggle to defeat the Germans and push them back into Germany and defeat. The other two were the Russian defeat of the German army at Stalingrad and their drive to the West and the invasion and capture of Italy by the Western Allies.

This year I reread about two element of the Normandy Invasion. Juno Beach, the site of the Canadians effort and Omaha Beach one of the American points assault. The Canadians distinquished themselves by getting ashore and penetrating the furthest inland that day. The Americans suffered dreadful loses (now thought to be as many as 5,000) as things had gone wrong . Finally they assaulted the cliffs to secure their beachhead. Accounts of these two battle are well worth reading.

The Normany Assault can be thought of as the beginning of the end of the second world war but in the coming year hundreds of thousands would yet die before it was over.

As a footnote to history, I have long been interested in the story of Kurt Meyer. He was a highly decorated SS officer who was held responsible for the murder of Canadian prisoners of war at Abbaye Ardennes. He was accused, tried and convicted by the Canadian military . He was given life imprisonment but ended only spending 9 years in jail.

On this day, I remember my Uncle Ross who was a fighter pilot in the RCAF in this great battle.
Later he served in Holland. I wish I had asked him more about his wartime experience. I do remember him tellingme , if he had to do it over gain he would be a conscientious objector, which surprised.

Take time today to remember the Normany Campaign.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

The Beginning of a New America. . .Perhaps

It was interesting to see Barack Obama pass the finish line in the US primary race. It is an historic occasion that an African American has completed the journey from the back of the bus to the head of the parade as a designated candidate for President.

I was saddened to hear the contrasting speeches of Obama and Clinton. Hillary Clinton failed to be a graceful loser. While Obama spoke of a high minded vision for the Nation and praised Hillary Clinton for her historic run for the nomination she refused to clearly acknowledge his victory with an immediately move to support him. Instead she gave a self serving speech about her being the best candidate. While she declared how worthy she was Obama was declaring how worthy the Nation can be in the future by overcoming the dismal years of the Bush administration. This has often been the temper of the campaign: for her, the fulfilling of her long ambition to become President; for him, a changed vision for the Nation in which Americans can fulfill a dream by reasserting their more idealistic ideals.

Hillary Clinton appeared sad as she stood on the platform, praising herself while the train of history was pulling out of the station. It is past time she got on the train or just quietly take the bus home.

A footnote on my previous post.

The Canadian Parliament did pass a resolution urging the government to make it possible for US war resisters to stay in Canada. The three opposition parties united to out vote the government side of the house. For an article on this read,

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

War Resisters in Canada

Today there will be a vote in Parliament on a non-binding resolution which asks the government to allow war resisters to say in Canada. There are a small number of individuals who have chosen to leave the US rather than continue to participate in an illegal and criminal war on Iraq.
There numbers would be much larger if Canada had not changed it's immigration policy since the Vietnam War era when some 50,000 war resisters came and were welcomed in Canada.

I am not hopeful the present Conservative government while listen to this call for Canada to honour its historic role of offering refuge to those fleeing a country because of war. Sadly, our present Conservative government seems more interested in pleasing the Bush administration on a wide range of issues.

It is Canada's official position that the War in Iraq is an illegal war of agression (which we resisted US pressure , under a Liberal government, to join. By definition, (since Nuremburg) such a war is the worst of all war crimes.

Canada has a long history of offering refuge to Americans who have wished to flee the US. Much of East and Central Canada were settled by United Empire Loyalists who left, or were driven out, the the US after the War of Independence. Later fugatives slaves, "looked to the North Star" to find their way to refuge and citizenship in Canada at the time that slavery was legal in the US and the Fugative Slave Act was the law of the land to have fugative slaves returned to their masters. During the Vietnam War many young men found a welcome in Canada as a refuge from involuntary military service in another unpopular American military adventure. And now we again have an opportunity to make it easier for American War Resisters to come to Canada.

These and others who have sought to make a new life in Canada have made Canada what it is today, a country in stark contrast to our American neighbours.

Below is Bob Rae addressing a support for War Resisters meeting in Toronto. Bob Rae, a former Premier of Ontario and now a member of the Liberal Party opposition in parliament.

Below is Elizabeth Chow the partiamentary Immigration critic of the New Democratic Party.

For further information one could read a recent editorial article in the Globe and Mail.

Here is a blog devoted to the War Resisters in Canada issue.

There is a effort to lobby the government to pass the resolution and change the immigration regulations to allow war resisters to easily stay in Canada.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

"Matchmaker, Matchmaker, Make Me a Match . . ."

Last year when I was hoping my two sows would get bred, I sent them off to Club Porcine for a couple of weeks of fun and rooting up the earth. It worked for they came back pregnant after brief encounters with a hefty boar. Three months, three weeks and three days later they delivered 29 piglets.

This year I invited, Nuts, the boar over to our place for a couple of weeks. I guess I am the Matchmaker but I feel more like the pimp.

His arrival was not without incident. Ruby, the Duroc, tested him to see if he had the right stuff.
You can see the tusk scratch marks on his neck. This may also have been Ruby's was of say, "Don't get any bright ideas, I will not stand for it!" (I love this expression. When I was a child we had a neighbour lady, with many children who used to always shout her disapproval, "I will not stand for it." I later learned the barnyard orgins of the phrase) Ruby was in no mood. Well moods change! I am counting on it.

Here you can see Ruby and Babe, who has been getting her figure back after nursing 14 young piglets, who are now getting quite big. Is that the Runt in the middle?

Nuts, the Boar seems more interested in Ruby. Is he following her to risk another fight in hopes her mood has changed? Or maybe just to cuddle and make up.
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