Friday 31 May 2013

Too little...Too Late

I have been sitting here for about an hour and still can't think of anything that I want to write about. 

I guess I left it too late and my mind is just circling in sleep mode. I will be back tomorrow, but you will just have to read one of the other blogs that I have written.


I wouldn’t consider myself a very superstitious person, but I am the kind of guy that thinks it is far better to be safe than sorry.

For instance, I would never walk under a ladder. The old wives say that it is bad luck, but what is bad luck? Okay, a hammer might drop on you when you are under the ladder. You might nudge it as you pass beneath it and someone will fall, perhaps break their neck and sue you for every penny that you have and every penny that you might have in the future. I use a ladder to put up some of the Christmas decorations in the house, and invariably I will drop some stuffed animal and it will drop right under the ladder. Because of the ladders placement it is sometimes difficult or impossible to reach the toy. Yes, I have been known to take the ladder down and after I retrieve the dropped decoration I will set the ladder back up. That isn’t superstition, it’s…ahhh…

There is a saying that if you have an itchy nose you will soon be kissed by a fool. What a load of claptrap! Mind you, Louise does rub her nose from time to time. Coincidence I am sure.

We all know that the number thirteen is supposed to be bad luck. I don’t subscribe to this, but when I was working I would call in sick on Friday 13th’s, and now I don’t even like to get out of bed. There is no 13th floor in buildings, there is no 13th aisle in an airplane, and my parents were married on a Friday the 13th and (shudder) I might have been conceived on the 13th. There is undoubtedly nothing to the 13th, but why would we take a chance?

Those old wives also say that if you make a wish while burning onions then it will come true. If that were the case, then I should be able to get a wish every time that Louise goes into the kitchen. OUCH!!!!

Here is one that I have tried (unsuccessfully) more than once. If three people are photographed together, the one in the middle will die first. It may work, but not reliably or quickly. Trust me on this one.

A spider is a repellent to the plague if worn around the neck in a walnut shell. I don’t know about the plague, but pretty much everything and everyone will be repelled if you do this.

So, I have established that I am not really superstitious. Having said that, I think I may have made a karmic mistake today while I was washing the dishes (for the third time today). I picked up the strainer to wash and there sitting on the rim was a ladybug. What the hell is a ladybug doing on my strainer, in my kitchen on the day before Christmas? I picked up the strainer and gingerly walked to the back door with it and banged the strainer on the wall till the ladybug dropped off. I went and finished the dishes and later in the afternoon I started to think that perhaps having a ladybug in the house on Christianity’s most holy day might be a good thing. It wasn’t where it had dropped a couple of hours earlier. Where could it have gone? How would I apologize anyways? I speak ant, but that is mainly swear words. I know that rhyme about her house being on fire and her children having a less than stellar day, but it wouldn’t do to say that when you are hoping for good luck. I just did some research; it would seem that it is bad luck to kill a ladybug. I am sure that it didn’t die, but since it is winter and bugs don’t have a lot of body mass to keep it warm… I knew that doing the dishes would lead to no good. Ahhh…SHIT!

Well, I hope that you all have a good and Merry Christmas. I will caution you to stay away from ladders, make sure that you burn your onions, be careful about how you are placed in photos, avoid rubbing your nose around your significant other and if you happen to run into a slightly tatty looking ladybug, let me know.

I just like this song.

Thursday 30 May 2013

Dried Out Brown Grass

I know that there are places where it rains for weeks and even months at a time. I know that some places in the world have seasons of the year where all it does is rain. There are places that have an equal mix of rain and sun which promotes an amazingly fertile land.

I have backpacked through a rainforest on Vancouver Island where the annual rainfall can be up to 11 feet. Yes, I said 11 feet. That kind of rainfall can create monster sized trees and an incredible assortment of vegetation. Places like Ontario and England get a good measure of both rain and sun making for almost perfect growing conditions. The mountains to the west of us here get a considerable amount of precipitation, but there is very little good soil and the altitude as often as not will give snow instead of rain. Not a very good location for cultivation.

I have chosen to live in an area that is a pretty dry area. Grains tend to grow well here and grasses which make it an ideal area for raising livestock. You can grow vegetables, but they had best be the hardy, quick growing variety. Tomatoes are hit or miss, some years I have more than I know what to do with and other years, my only option is fried green tomatoes. We are used to the country side being mostly brown with the odd area of green. There are scrub tree forests of some deciduous, but mainly various types of evergreen trees.

This year however, we have been getting more than our fair share of rainfall. If we get an appropriate amount of sunshine, there is a good chance that the farmers won’t complain and my garden will actually ripen before the first frost in September. With the big tree gone there is a chance that the grass on the front lawn will overpower the soil and dandelions. I’m getting ahead of myself though. Right now, sunshine is a dream and I spend part of my days looking out the window watching the rainfall drip off of the various plants and people who come into view.

I was thinking today, while watching the rain, that the different plants and trees have evolved to make the most of the rain. I have determined that the upper portion of the plant or tree collects the rainfall and deposits it where the roots can make the most of it. The rhubarb plant has large leaves that collect the rain and funnel it down to the roots. The large deciduous trees whose roots spread out as far below ground as the branches do above ground will catch the rain on its leaves and drop it evenly on the ground underneath it. The coniferous trees do much the same thing, but their roots tend to be a tap like root and the branches are pointed up for the most part and drop the water close in under the tree.

I know it is probably far more complicated than that, but I only spent an afternoon thinking about it. Hopefully, the rain will stop soon and we can go back to the dried out brown grass that I am used to.

Wednesday 29 May 2013

Pull My finger

It’s hard to believe that today is Hurricanes sixth birthday. In some ways I can’t believe he is already six and in another way it is difficult to believe he is only six. I knew that he was going to drop over tonight for a short visit and I sat at the window waiting for him like a kid does at Christmas waiting for Santa. He is the bright light in my life. I actually have two bright lights, but today is this ones birthday. HAPPY BIRTHDAY little man!


I mentioned yesterday what a relief it was to have the big elm tree cut down. I was so happy and just thrilled that it was finally taken down. It started to rain right after the tree monkeys had finished cutting, so the clean up crew didn’t make it. They are the ones that will feed all of the branches into the chipper, grind out the root and do a general final tidy of the area. Oh, they are the ones that will submit the bill as well. Today I don’t have that feeling of relief, happiness or being thrilled. Today I just want them to get all of that shit off of my lawn. Funny how within 48 hours it went from a beloved part of my life to a big pile of shit I want tossed in the chipper and hauled away.

Someone sent me one of those facebook helpful hint updates. You know the kind, they show you how peanut butter can be used not only for sandwiches and making your skin smooth, but you can also pack it into a faulty transmission to make it run smoothly until you can sell it to some sucker. I would imagine you would have to use smooth and not chunky peanut butter.
Today’s “helpful” hint was how to make those baked on dirty cookie sheets shine like new. You need a ¼ cup of baking powder and just enough hydrogen peroxide to make a paste. Then you rub it on with your fingers and wait for the magic to happen. There doesn’t seem to be any magic happening. Perhaps if my fingers were made of steel wool or 60 grit sand paper there might be some effect, but nothing if you just let it sit.

When I read it I was pretty sure that nothing would happen. However, I thought that perhaps there would be some kind of chemical reaction. I don’t know anything about chemistry, having spent most of the time in class doodling, making jokes and trying to sleep with my eyes open. The article on facebook mentioned something about someone’s grandmother having loaned out her pans only to have them return sparkling clean. Nothing ever tasted the same again. Grandmas don’t lie! Well, not usually…
I’ve noticed quite a few things on facebook that people pass on as the truth and it is basically bullshit. There is one AMBER alert that has a three year old kid being kidnapped by a guy in a blue mini van. This poor kid has been kidnapped by the same guy in the blue mini van fifteen times in the past three years. This one always has the phrase at the end which tells you to pass it along. Inevitably someone uses Snopes and informs the “friend” that it is just bullshit, but you can’t be too careful. Turns out that there was never a three year old kid taken by someone in a blue mini van.

Facebook seems like the modern day version of the crazy uncle who always wants you to pull his finger. You know you are being taken in, but who doesn’t like their crazy uncle.

Pull my finger…

Tuesday 28 May 2013

The Elm Tree

I had the Elm tree from the front of our house cut down today. Elm trees can live for several hundred years given the right conditions, but close to my house in the middle of a suburb wasn’t the right condition.

I didn’t plant Old Elm; it was here when we moved in. I suppose the previous owner wanted shade from the afternoon sun. From what I have heard about the previous owner, he didn’t give a lot of thought to anything and certainly not to where it would be best to grow an 80 foot tree. It was right beside the house, and at the end, the base was six inches from the house which it towered over. I should have taken care of the tree years ago, but I was attached to it. We had history.

When we first moved in, the kids would try to climb old Elm, without a lot of success, it wasn’t a really good climbing tree, but for little kids it was plenty high enough. Over the years it has been home to a number of birds and a couple of sexually innovative squirrels.

One year I made a bird feeder out of one of those kerosene lanterns which I thought was quite creative. The birds loved it, but it turns out that I would just as soon not have a bunch of overfed birds crapping all over my yard. The idea of feeding birds when they are quite capable of finding their own food just seems silly. My buddy feeds birds, but he finds some joy in watching them. Come to think of it, I haven’t noticed any bird shit at his place, so I imagine that he has them trained to go on his neighbour’s property.

Another year I made a bird house by hollowing out a piece of birch and putting a metal roof on it. I later found out that you shouldn’t use metal for roofing materials on bird houses. It turns out that they become hot boxes, kind of like mini torture chambers for birds. Well, at least there was no bird shit around. I’m tempted to make metal birdhouses for the Magpies.

One year I was hanging Christmas lights, I lost my balance, the ladder slipped and I fell. Lucky for me, the Elm tree caught me before I hit the ground. It would have been luckier if I hadn’t been hanging upside down with my leg wedged between two branches. I had lots of time to consider my escape while I swung back and forth in the cold November breeze. One good thing came from that fall; I never put up the Christmas lights unless someone is at home that can call 911.

Early on, I carved a face in the trunk of the tree. It was my attempt at one of those “green man” faces. It turned out pretty good and I think it took about three years before the Elm swallowed the green man and covered it with bark. I have always pictured someone burning the tree one day and while watching the logs burn, they will see a face appear. They might think that they are the chosen of either Jesus or Elvis, depending if they are religious or just crazy.

I have watched my kids in that tree and in the last couple of years I have watched as my grandkids stood on a cut off branch. There aren’t many good trees in Alberta and I am going to miss this one. I suppose that’s why I put off cutting it down for so long. I have often sat under its branches reading and drinking my tea, well in the years between bird feeders and bird houses of course. I plan on turning some of the branches into bowls for the kids so that they can keep a piece of their childhood.

There is more light now with the Elm gone, and hopefully I might even be able to coax the grass to grow on the front lawn. It is the beginning of a new day.

Monday 27 May 2013


I have recently been taking Buster on a different route for our walks in the morning. I’m not doing it because I am a good guy that has his best interests at heart. I am doing it because we are walking earlier and I want to avoid the grade school kids who are heading to school at the same time. I don’t dislike all kids, just the ones that want to get all coochy-coo with Buster when all he wants to do is find some new place to take a leak. Sure he likes the attention and I think that he can’t tell the difference between these kids and Hurricane and Tornado.

Before I go any further, I just want it clear that the grade school kids have nothing to do with Vaseline.
Now that is settled, part of the reason I am walking this particular route is that a couple of months ago I found a ten dollar bill half frozen in the ice and being an optimist, I am hoping to find it’s twin. I haven’t had any luck with the money, but there is always tomorrow.
What I have noticed, are empty Vaseline containers on the side of the road. If there had only been one empty container, I would have thought that it is just normal garbage that was tossed out of a car. They toss out raw half chickens, so why not Vaseline? One day I saw no less than four empty containers strewn over two blocks. I would wager that all of the houses in that two blocks area combined, don’t use one large container in a day. Well, maybe if there are newlyweds, but even then... If that had been the only time I had noticed empties on the road, I would have thought it just an aberration, but it wasn’t. Since that first time, the problem has spread down the road for about twenty blocks.

What the hell! I figured that there must be some way to get high from it, but I’ve done an internet search and no luck. There is an internet prank going around where you put Vaseline on your hand and high five someone. That might work a few times, but eventually no one will high five you because of your reputation. It certainly wouldn’t account for 15 – 20 large jars of Vaseline.

Okay, I can think of something that might use that much Vaseline. Illegal Greko-Roman wrestling! There might be a small segment of the population that like to watch young men and women smear themselves with Vaseline and wrestle the best two out of three falls. They would hold these matches in abandoned warehouses late at night, and of course there would be heavy betting on the outcome. Come to think about it, it might not be such a small segment of the population that would be interested.
I wonder how I could get an invitation. Just for research purposes of course.

I did find a site for legitimate uses of Vaseline, and it turns out that Vaseline is quite versatile.

Sunday 26 May 2013

Your Intestinal Health

When I grew up, neither myself nor my brother were expected to do any household chores. Perhaps in the beginning my parents had hopes that Steve and I would help out around the house, but I suppose our efforts just didn’t meet my mom’s standards. I gave housework very little thought and just so long as all of my needs were met I had no complaints.

Mom always did the dishes in the single sink that we had, drying them right away. There were people who had double sinks, but I had always figured that the second sink would take the place of a drying rack. This is all that I knew until I moved in with Louise. We had a double kitchen sink and I was informed that the second sink was to rinse the soap off of the dishes. Hmmm…makes sense. That is the way that I wash dishes now, the one sink filled with soapy water and the second filled with very hot, clean water for the rinse, and then into the rack to dry. I rarely towel dry the dishes, mainly out of laziness rather than a well thought out reason.

I do most of the dishes because I learned early on that if you wanted some alone time, the best way to get it was to do the dishes. Even when someone offers to help, they don’t really want to help, they are just being nice. There is also the fact that other people don’t do the same job that you would like them to do. I always rinse the dishes first, before they go into the soapy water. I don’t like the idea of dirty dishes going into my nice clean wash water. Yes, I am aware that it is just a trifle anal, but the idea of small hunks of food floating in the water that I am trying to clean dishes in, just does not make sense. One of my many idiosyncrasies I guess.

When Brendan was in Scouts, the way they would do dishes is to have one tub of soapy water and a tub of clean water with a touch of bleach to rinse and sterilize the dishes before they were dried. The Scouts were the ones that did the dishes and frankly, they didn’t really give a shit abut how clean the dishes got. Some of these kids didn’t even scrape the plates clean before dumping them in the soapy water. They would never pour out the water and replace it because it involved heating more water on the stove and the kids washing wanted to get to play sooner rather than later. I tried to get a third tub filled with water just to rinse the lumps off of the plates, but I was never listened to. Bastards! I managed to get through all of those weekends without any serious bouts of food poisoning, but I attribute that to keeping a keen eye on the plate that I put my food on.

I remember reading in Popular Science years ago that in the future (now) the people will spray a plastic coating on the plates before eating and after the meal we would just have to strip the coating off and put the plates away. I think it’s a good idea, but knowing myself, I imagine I would rinse the plates before I strip off the plastic coating. You can’t be too careful when your intestinal health is concerned.

Saturday 25 May 2013


Over the past few decades, I have been struggling with the notion of equality. Not just mine, but just where everyone else fits in.

To begin with, I do believe in the premise that everyone is created equal. I guess that I should say that everyone has the potential when they are born to be equal. Do I think that everyone is equal? In a word NO.
I know that there are people that are actually making a big difference in the world. They create many beautiful things or make music that makes you cry for joy. Some have made inventions that change the way that we communicate and live our lives. One woman has written a series of books that caused a whole generation of children to read. There are giving people in every city that spend their time and money trying to help the down and out. Throughout the world there are people willing to sacrifice their comfort in order to benefit others.

These are superior people!

We all have the potential for greatness, but get caught up in the day to day of living. It isn’t as if we don’t want to help others or write a best selling book, invent the perpetual motion machine or inspire a generation to make a difference. Most of us just don’t have that drive and determination to persevere when times get tough. We would do amazing things if only…

I am not saying that we can’t make a difference on a local level; in fact that is what we should work towards. The ripples that spread from our lives generally doesn’t go farther than those we love, and that is just fine. Perhaps the impact that we create won’t be felt for a generation or two. Maybe Hurricane or Tornado will have a child that is one of those more equal people and lead the human race into space. I suppose that it is possible that one of those people will be inspired by something he once read on the internet, a nonsense blog that just touched him or her. You never know.

I’m not the person I would like to be, but I am the person that I am. I have to live with that and it is something I have found to be comforting. Could I be a better person? You bet! Will I be a better person? Probably not. I am not much different than Popeye, “I am what I am, and that’s all that I am!”

We all have equal potential, but we don’t have the same kind of influences that create the drive to excel. Perhaps a loved one died of a disease that makes a son go into medicine and discover the cure. Someone sees people in his country die of starvation, and grows up to solve the farming problems his country has. Thankfully there are those damaged people who feel the need to excel and make the world a better place.

I’m happy to try and make those around me happy…ish. I am equal to me, and ultimately that’s all anyone can do.

Friday 24 May 2013

I’m Hoping for a Brain

I was taking a shortcut through a back hallway in our local plaza going from the bank to the library when I overheard a snippet of a conversation coming from a laptop/cell phone/sales/repair store. I personally think they also dabble in stolen goods and perhaps drugs, but that’s just because they are located close to the high school and the guy behind the counter looks like a crook.

There voice I heard belonged to a woman and she was saying “If I give you a hundred and twenty in cash, I save thirty and you don’t have to pay the GST or any income tax so you will come out ahead and so do I.” I didn’t linger because generally speaking, people don’t want witnesses around when they are ripping off the federal government, or at least making plans to. I did glance in the store and the woman looked like any other middle aged woman you would find in the community. This one just happened to be bereft of morals and any feelings of civic responsibility.
I can understand the desire to save money, and I can appreciate the woman’s negotiating skills. I have often wished that I could bargain like that, but stupid person that I am; I believe the merchant is already giving me his best price. One time when I was taking a cab out to my walk, I was talking to the driver and I asked him if he would move back to India if he could. He told me that he visits every year to help his family during harvest, but would never move back permanently. I made the assumption that he wouldn’t go back due to the poverty, but he told me how India was a very rich country. However, so many people avoid paying taxes when ever they can and it leaves the government without enough money to provide the services necessary for the population.
Now, I am just taking this guys word on the problem and I am sure that India has many, many problems that are complex and varied. I do believe that it is our duty to pay our taxes so that our government can provide services equally throughout the country. I would gladly pay 90% of my income to the government if everything was provided. Unfortunately, it seems that as the years go on we pay more taxes for less service. We also pay our politicians and upper civil servants too much for what they do. To be fair, most workers of all kinds make more money than they deserve.

I am not sure where I was going with this, but suffice to say that the woman should just pay the $150 and the merchant should pay the proper amount of GST and income tax. The government should spend the money in a fiscally responsible way. Workers should be satisfied with their wages and stores and businesses should be happy with a healthy but honest mark up on their goods and services. We should all be able to get affordable housing and decent, healthy food. Medical and dental services should be available to all who need them. People should treat each other with the honesty and respect they deserve.

Yeah, I know that is never going to happen, but I can hope. Perhaps if we all hope for the same thing it just might come to pass. Maybe a little girl with a small dog and red slippers will drop a house on Steven Harper and we will all dance off down the yellow brick road looking for salvation from the Wizard.

I’m hoping for a brain.

Thursday 23 May 2013

Bird houses

I mentioned that we in Calgary were expecting a couple of days of rain. Boy, you would think the end of the world was near. Sure, there was a devastating two mile wide tornado which totalled Moore Oklahoma, but we are going to have two whole days of rain! I’m not sure I will be able to handle all of the green that is bound to spring up shortly after the rain ends and there is also a possibility there might be more mosquitoes this summer than last. The roads are even going to be wet! There are things I love about this city, and many others that just drive me nuts. I’m pretty sure I will survive the great flood of 2013, but if not, this will be my last entry.

Buster and I managed to get in our morning walk before the rain started so we were free to watch the gentle sprinkling out the front window for the rest of the day. While we were walking, I was going over in my mind if I had rain proofed the house as best I could. Yep, windows closed! Job done.

I did feel kind of bad for the birds that are living in the birdhouses I put up last year. I had no idea when I put them up that any bird would be stupid enough to take up residence. Maybe that’s where the term “bird brain” comes from. They were more for decoration and quite frankly were not my best work. I mounted them at eye level and thought of them more as cat feeders than bird houses. The hot sun, high winds and winter cold has taken it’s toll on the poor things, and I meant to repair them but it turns out that the birds have already set up housekeeping.

The tiny shingles that looked so nice last year have mostly blown off and there are sizeable gaps in the roofs structure. Personally, I think that the birds can just suck it up. Wild birds make do with a bunch of sticks and mud jammed between two branches with no roof at all. However, my birds are spoiled and I kind of feel that I am sort of responsible like an absentee (small “g”) god. Before it began to rain I went out with a stapler and a piece of plastic to fix the roof. I stapled the one side on and started on the other when there was a flutter of feathers and a grey blur shot out of the hole that is the front door. I’m not sure but I think I heard the bird say “Oh, for fuck sake!” as it sped away. He’ll thank me for the plastic…probably.

The other house has a toque for roofing material and it should wick the rain away. I don’t know that for a fact, but even if it doesn’t, I didn’t force the birds to live there. Come to think about it, that particular bird was using cellophane from a cigarette pack for nesting material. Maybe it was doing its own DIY on the roof. I wish that bird all the luck in the world, but any idiot knows that the waterproof layer has to be on the outside.

I put up another birdhouse that I made this year and if it were me I would have moved into that before the rains came. It’s made of a flowerpot and not only does it look nice, but it is located under the eaves, is waterproof and spacious. It would definitely be an improvement over last year’s model home. Some lucky bird will move in and the others will undoubtedly be insanely jealous.
It seems that everyone on the property have a nice, warm and dry place to stay out of the storm. Well except for those fucking squirrels and they can freeze their nuts off for all I care.