DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" ""> Tossing Pebbles in the Stream: 03/01/2009 - 04/01/2009 .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.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Female Problems

I am too old to be living with a female that has periodic female problems. Let alone sharing my bed with her. Everywhere she sits or lies down she leave blood spots. It is a long time since I had a female embarass herself and me by leaving such tell tale signs.

It's my lovely bitch , Heidi. She is in heat. Such a big dog and such a big mess. I have been told that they sell sanitary napkins for dogs. How embarassing. I refuse to inflict my elegant companion with wearing a napkin. What would that lovely male dog from next door, who has taken up residence on my welcome mat, think!

Well I love her and I will put up with trying to limit the damage, even if I will have to throw some sheets away. You can do these things whne you don't have a human female pestering about the mess "your" dog is making. There have to be some advantages to being single.

It will be a long three weeks.

Heidi on her old chesterfield (I use this Canadian word to confuse my American friends. It is so much more elegant a word the couch, although this beat up piece of furniture deserves to be called a couch.0)

Remember when I posted Heidi with the red balls and how she was treating them like puppies.
Well! she got the real thing. . . . . .almost! She went into my closet and borrowed two kittens from the cat. She carried them one at a time in her mouth and put them on the bed, where she tried to lick them to clean them. She would have gotten up on the bed to cuddle around them if I had not taken them away from her when the cat showed up. Several times a day she sticks her head in the door to the closet and checks on her kittens. The mother cat doesn't seem to mind.

All that faux mothering tires a hound out.

I hope this little movie works. Otherwise you just get to see how tall Heidi is when she stands on the bed.
{Hmmm, it didn't work. Back to the drawing board to figure out how to post a little video I make with my camera.}
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Friday, March 20, 2009

Our Sacrifice for Afghanistan

I begain this blog entry a couple of weeks ago. Friday, Canada had four more soldiers die in Afghanistan bringing the number now to 116. Governor General,The Right Honourable Michaelle Jean and the Defense Minister, Peter MacKay, will be present to receive the coffins along with the families and accompany them to Toronto.

Recently Canada has lost four more soldiers in Afghanistan bring the total to 112.
As a percentage, Canada has suffered the highest number of casualties among the forces there.
They are located in Kandahar Province where the insurgency is very strong. The mission is very risky as it requires soldiers to be out and about patrolling and communicating with the local people. They need to let people know that they are offering security and they need to find out what they can do for the local people within the scope of the Reconstruction Program. Sadly, most of the casualties have been the result of improvised explosive devices buried along the road.

The Canadian military, I believe, is doing an admirable job of which Canadians can be proud. Besides establishing some level of security along with the Afghanistan Army, which they are helping to train, they have arranged for wells to be dug and schools built. They also financed a wall to be built around the grounds of Kandahar University so the nomadic Kuchi people could be kept off the grounds feeding their animals. Local medical help has been give where possible, widows have regularly been given food and other goods. They have also been able to arrange vaccinations against polio, an illness that is largely wiped out world wide. A bridge has been built across the river and the largest project is Canada's commitment to refurbish a local dam to improve irrigation of farms. It seems Canada has established some good will locally.

The Canadian military has been careful to respect the local people and their customs. They also have tried to minimize civilian casualites.

Canada's involvement in Afghanistan is not without its critics, myself among them. Canada is determined to end it's military involvment in 2011, after a decade, as determined by parliament. It seems the Conservative government is determined not to give in to the US pressure to stay longer.

Canada is not a very militaristic country, although we have an outstanding military history when it has been necessary ,the seven times, for Canada has come to the aid of other countries. It seems we do manage to create very good soldiers in spite of often underfunding the military, there not being a larger constituency to lobby for support of the military such as they have in the US with its vision of an empire of World domination and the lobbying of the military-industrial complex.

Canadians from the beginning have felt a deep respect the soldiers that have died in this mission, even while being critical of the mission itself. It seems the Canadian soldiers, who often come from small towns and rural areas of the country are just some of our "lads" and have earned our love and respect.

The Conservative government of Stephen Harper tried to follow the US example and keep the public and press away from the coffins returning from the war. Canadians wouldn't hear of it. Many of the families of the fallen soldiers felt to deny public recognition only demeaned the sacrifice their sons or daughter has made. So the government reversed its decision and now the returning dead soldiers are publically acknowledged and honoured. The coffins are all returned to Base Trenton where the immediate family is present along with some high government representatives: such as the Governor General, the Prime Minister, Minister of Defense, or another cabinet official. The press are there and it usually makes the evening TV news.

From the beginning,spontaneously, people began showing up on the bridges over passes along the 100 miles of highway 401 from Base Trenton to Toronto. This stretch of highway has officially been named
"The Highway of Heroes/Autoroute des heros" Summer and Winter people gather, informed by word of mouth and often waiting a long time to see the convoy of limos and hearses pass. People find their own way of saluting and recognizing the fallen soldiers. Individuals, families, veterans,
uniformed service personnel are all there on all the bridges. It is a very moving tribute.

(click photo to enlarge)

Bridge over the Highway of Heroes.

On YouTube you can find many video tributes to Canada's soldiers. Some are for individual soldiers, others are for a groups of soldiers that died together. Individuals and groups of Canadians have created these. You will even find the tribute NBC did last November. I guess in their own way they were approving of how Canada has handled this and disapproving of how the US has handled it. I have looked at many of them and they are all very moving. Some are a little too over the top for my liking. I chose to include one put together by a high school in Toronto, Malvern Collegiate. It is subdued and reverential and it follows all the steps the returning solider goes through from the ramp ceremony in Kandahar to arriving in Toronto.

I hope you take the time to view it and enjoy it. Tthink of the young soldiers who have died answering the call of Canada to serve and defend another country.

Here you will find the list of soldiers since 2002.

The Vernal Equinox: Spring

Well it is supposed to be officially Spring. We are back into some cold weather. It is not bitter,cold, (-5C), but cold enough after being teased for a few days with some lovely warm (er) weather 10C. I guess this is just one of the signs of Spring around here freezing and thawing days. With the warm sun and the longer days the snow is making a retreat even when it is below freezing, another sign of Spring for sure.

You can almost see the snow disappear some days. It had decreased by over half.

I wonder what Heidi is thinking. "I thought that cold stuff was a little closer yesterday." She actually prefers to walk on the snow than get her feet wet in the water and mud.

This is my side lawn. I can hear all you garden proud people exclaiming. "Oh, my God!" Luckily, I try to live by the dictum. "Don't sweat the little things. The pigs have been rooting it up with their little snouts looking for all kinds of tender morsals: roots or grubs. They have done a real job on it. It is hard with frost right now. The pigs are busy seeking out other places with a little ground to ravish further way from the house.

In a couple of weeks I will smooth out the ground, toss a little grass seed around and by the end of the summer I will have good sod once again.

Here is a sure sign of Spring. My chickens are starting to lay again. (They never did completely stop.) As a result, we can get an assortment of sizes. Left to right: extra large, large, medium, petit. The real small one is a hen's first effort. She will do better with the next one. The big one may be a double yoker. I won't know until I crack it.

These are just a couple of signs of Spring in my yard. There are others like the crows showing up and the leaf buds on the lilac bush getting bigger. I am sure you all have special signs of Spring where you are. I won't feel like it is Spring for real until there is very little snow in the bush and I can walk in and find the bloodroot plant. This is one of the first flowering plants of the season. It grows close to the ground and has a lovely small white flower that closes up at night. Native Canadians used this plant for the red dye in the root both for cloth and face painting. It is a poisonous plant although I have read it has been used in very small amounts as a medicinal plant.

Enjoy the Spring. May your rubber boots develop no holes.

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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy St. Patrick's Day

I have spent my lifetime trying to overcome my English grandmother's prejudice against the Irish. She did not rant about them or talk about them a lot. I actually only remember her saying something once about them. It left an impression with me. This should be a warning to all that we should be careful what we say about others, even in jest, when little ears can hear you that are attached to a wee person who loves and admires you. The meaning they hear may not be exactly the meaning you intented to convey.

Here remark was a judgement on the Irish as being poor, lazy, shiftless, drunkards, who did far too much dancing and partying, papists who could sin all week and make it OK by confession to a priest. (my grandmother was a Methodist who took the pledge not to drink at 18 and never did. My memory of her is of a moral and proper woman, for who an extravagance was a little candy in her purse to give her grandchildren).

You may recognize her list of Irish shortcoming as similar to any list against a prejudiced group: Blacks, Italians, Haitians, Newfoundlanders, French Canadians, etc. Real life experience and a liberal education puts the lie to such prejudice. I am grateful I have had both.

I first thought I might write something about Jonathan Swift's "A Modest Proposal", which always impressed me as a biting bit of satirical prose about the relationship between the Irish and the English in the 18th Century. If you are not familiar with this it is well worth reading. It is often said to be the best bit of satire in the English language.

Instead, I offer you a couple of videos on food for this occasion. One of the nice things about ethnic occasions is the food. It is almost always peasant food and comfort food. In North America Corn Beef and Cabbage is considered the perfect St. Patrick's Day meal. The thought of it and watching the following video makes me so hungry. If the car were not broken I would get out to the store and buy the ingredient and make it.

As an alternative, how about some Irish Stew! I miss my neighbour who used to give me a slaughtered lamb for letting his sheep graze on my pasture, otherwise, I could make this meal.

I hope you celebrate today with a lovely meal to you liking.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Spring Perhaps!

We are enjoying some warmer weather at last. The temperature will be above freezing during the day for the next week or so, maybe longer. It is very clear and bright out.

An icicle formed from the porch roof in front of the front door. Surely, this is a sign of Spring.

This is Heidi eyeballing a piglet. She is staring it down. His muscles tremble in the tension they are in. The piglet seems to know just how close he can get without having Heidi lung for him.
I keep Heidi on a lease as I don't want anymore piglets being grabbed by an ear and having a great commotion break out. I am great believer in "Peace at all cost." like that other Unitarian Neville Chamberlain. ( a modest Unitarian joke for the historically literate).

This is a little pig picnic. The snow is hard. Even I can walk on top. A little bare spot with some grass in front of a large boulder was an occasion for a group runt and feed. I salted the spot with a little cracked corn.

This is what some of the pigs have learned to do. They come up the ramp onto the front porch and lie right in front of the door sunning themselves. As you can see from the shadows my house faces south. There have been as many as seven doing this at one time. This picture I took through the window in the front door, not the best view.

The temperature right now is 0C on it way up to about 5C and tomorrow it may reach 8C. Off with the winter coat! Off with the tuque! Off with the gloves! On with the rubber boots. There will be puddles.

I hope others are in a Springtime mood.

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Monday, March 09, 2009

A Woman With Something to Say

I intended this to be a posting for International Woman's Day. I got sidetracked.

Queen Rania al Abdullah of Jordan is an arab Muslim woman with something to say. Being married to King Abdullah ibn Hussein, who is a direct descendent of the Prophet Mohammed, gives her strong credentials to speak on the role of women in Islam. She challenges our prejudicial views of about Muslim woman and their place in Muslim society. She is modern, intelligent, outspoken and beautiful. She also chooses to often not wear the hijab, or headscarf. This is not how Muslim women are repeatedly depicted in the news.

Much of what we associate with Muslim women and the nature of Muslim societies has more to do with tribal customs than the essential teachings of the Prophet Mohammed.

She reminds us we need to be careful at judging Islam and in particular the position of women in Islamic societies. Queen Rania has taken it upon herself to speak up for Islam and Islamic women through her own You Tube channel.

Queen Rania is a lovely person, funny and intelligent. She is a very skilled communicator.

Here is a funny , "10 Reasons. . ." video, ala David Letterman, of her explaining her decision to use You Tube to communicate her ideas and encourage others to share theirs. This is her response a year ago when she was given an award by You Tube

Listen to her response to comments left on You Tube concerning Muslim Women and Islam.

Queen Rania is a woman to listen to and learn from whereever she appears or speaks. Her efforts were recognized by being granted the "Woman of the World Award."

Friday, March 06, 2009

"They Have Reconciled."

It has been a typical quiet morning here. I have fed the animals, taken the dog out, started the woodstove and got the coffee going. I just sat down on a chair to enjoy my coffee and cinnamon toast to chat with my dog Heidi,( lying as usual on my couch watching me, hoping for a piece of toast), while half watching the news on TV.

TV Item: Chris Brown has been charged with two count of assault on his girlfriend Rihanna!

Following this bit of news are the graphic details of how he beat her to a pulp while driving together in his Lamborgini, with the accompaning photo of the young woman looking like she was the loser in an extreme fighting match.

I thinking how horrible and unforgiveable when I hear. "THEY HAVE RECONCILED." WAAAA! I caught myself screaming at the TV.

"The Scream" by Edvard Munch

Have you ever wanted to scream at the TV? How could this young woman "reconcile" with anyone who did what Chris Brown did? It is beyond my comprehension. If she doesn't have any more respect for herself than that then maybe she should disown this low life human being for the benefit of all the young girls who admire her, her fans who have made her wealthy. They need to know this kind of behaviour by a man is absolutely unacceptable. Apparently, she is going to speak up in court on ChrisBrown's behalf What ever she has to say can only ring hollow in the face of the physical evidence and the disposition she has already given.

I am not sure who is more pitiful: Chris Brown, who live with a rage he cannot control or Rihana, who in spite of fame and fortune cannort envision herself as a worthy independent woman, who will let no man ever strike her.

As one who has never raised his hand in anger at a woman or child, these cases I will never understand. In my more self pitying moment I wonder if maybe if I had knocked some woman around a little I might not be living alone. . . . Not really! I would have no respect for myself if I did that. One can only hope our laws will deal harshly with men who cross the line and bring violence into a relationship with their, "love ones". Sadly it is only when it happens to the "beautiful people" do we learn much about it.

Thus ends this morning's rant. I feel better now.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Family News

For my recent birthday my grandchildren gave me the mounted photos, school pictures, below.

I am trying to decide where to hang it. In the upstairs hallway, where I have my great grandparents pictures and my uncle's paintings seem to be a good bet.

(click on photos to enlarge)

I have been wanting to post some photos of the kids for a while but my big scanner seems to not want to cooperate. I keep getting notices on the computer that it cannot locate the scanner, as if their is no cord between them. I have redone the software for the computer and that seems to make no difference. These devices are fun when they work but I just find them annoying when they don't.

Back to the pictures. No I have not been drinking. The pictures are on a slant so as to avoid the flash from the camera.

The top photo is of Dylan, 11, the oldest. Below him is Olivia, 10, and at the bottom, Travis, 9.
They are all terrific children: healthy, intelligent, active in sports, well behaved and polite ( with me at least). They have all played hockey (Dylan and Olivia always on the same team) soccer and "T" ball. Dylan and Olivia even took figure skating lessons one year. The purple tights on Dylan made me wince. Fortunately, they had enough of that after one year. Travis managed some step dancing lessons, which is popular around here in the French community. Dylan and Olivia have belonged to the swimming club and done well in competitive swimming. The kids have also learned to play the keyboard (piano) and now Dylan is trying the drums. I have yet to hear the young Gene Krupa play. As I have mentioned before, I am most proud that they have all become bilingual, taking their education in French. This is a big advantage in Canada with two official languages but more important they can share in two linguisitic cultures and make their lives so much richer for it.

I find Dylan being the grandchild most interested in me and what I say. He is intellectually curious and likes to learn new things. If I were able I would probably spend more time with him.
I had always thought I would show him the joy of canoe tripping and camping but so far it has not worked out.

The three kids are enough to make grampa proud. I only wish I was able to spend more time with them.

Speaking of being proud. This is Andrea, my brother's youngest daughter. She just heard she has been accepted in the doctoral program in psychology at Dartmouth College come September.
This past year she has been at the College of William and Mary, where she will be awarded an master's degree. She is a graduate of the University of North Carolina, at Willmington.

You make us all proud, Andrea.

Come next Winter, she will have the opportunity to enjoy the northern winter with lots of snow.
It has been years since her parents took her and her sisters south to live in North Carolina. This will be a chance to polish her skating skill and maybe take up skiing. Andrea is athletic and I expect she will enjoy the opportunities of living in west-central New Hampshire.

Here is a video of the lovely setting and campus of Dartmouth College.