Sunday, May 20, 2018

Time changes everything

You've no doubt heard that time heals all wounds.

And no doubt you've heard the corollary of that; time wounds all heels.

That came to me while I was reminiscing about Buddy, the German Shepherd I had when I lived in Durham. I grew up with dogs, and I'd had other dogs before Buddy, but Buddy was the first dog I'd been soley responsible for as an independent adult.

I used to leave Buddy in the garage during the day when I headed off to work. Spring came along, and now and then, if it wasn't forecast to rain, I'd leave him outside, tethered to the deck.

One night I came home, and Buddy was tether-free, awaiting my arrival. Also awaiting my arrival was a hysterical phone message from the neighbour behind, about how Buddy had attacked her daughter and dragged her down the street by her hair...


Without waiting to hear Buddy's side of the story, I immediately gave him a bad-dog thrashing.

On calm reflection, with the passage of time, it dawned on me that Buddy could not be guilty as charged.

Not that he wasn't guilty. I fully understand and acknowledge that he may have dragged that kid down the street by her hair... but he was just playing!

Those neighbour kids behind used to cut through my yard on the way to school. In hindsight, I should have taken that into consideration. But I didn't. Nobody's perfect.

Those kids had a good relationship with Buddy. I imagine that a couple of hours after I left for work, he was thrilled to see them coming through!

And they would have been thrilled to see him too! Possibly thrilled enough to let him off his tether.

At which point Buddy's exuberance may have got the better of him... hence that unfortunate phone message.

I thought things were OK between me and Buddy after that, and for awhile they appeared to be. I even got him little Charlie, a black lab cross, as a playmate to while away those long hours in the garage,

Then one day, when we'd taken our morning ramble through the Durham Conservation park and into the countryside beyond, Buddy disappeared.

He disappeared right around a deer yarding area, and I assumed he'd just got busy chasing deer.

I always hoped he'd come home, and he sort of did.

Three or four weeks after Buddy went missing, me and Charlie were heading off on our morning walk, and there, stretched out on the walking path right in front of us in the dim light of an early morning, was good old Buddy!

I was thrilled!

I didn't make too big a deal of it. No "bad dog" shit on account of having gone missing for a few weeks. I just let things ride.

Alas, Buddy only lasted a few more days with us; he disappeared for good the next time we passed that deer yard.

I figure that on his first awol, after getting tired of chasing deer, he'd found a local farmer who knew a good dog when he saw one, and fed Buddy accordingly.

That would have seemed a much better deal than being cooped up in the garage all day, with or without his new pal Charlie.

I think Buddy just came back to say goodbye.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Here we go again; ten dead in Texas school shooting

And once again, we have to turn the asshole who does this into some perverse brand.

Who is killer dumbfuck?

I don't care!

Nor do I need to know his name!

It's sad enough that things have come to this; where school shootings are just a fact of life.

Making the killer dumbfuck famous just encourages untold others in this fame-obsessed celebrity-worshipping culture.

Why can't media stop glorifying these assholes?

Eight things to like about the Bruce

From time to time me and the Farm Manager contemplate upping sticks and moving closer to the city where our children  live. I can look at those real estate listings for hours on end, but it only takes a few minutes on the front stoop to clear my head.

There's a lot to like about living here.

Frogs and birds. Both frogs and birds are allegedly at risk in the wider world, but they're doing just fine up here in the Bruce. Sometimes they even sing together.

Affordability. Ya, it's one thing to see a 100k Land Rover pulling a 100k Airstream trailer up the road, but that family in the ten year old Dodge van going up the road right behind it is gonna have just as much fun camping in their nine by twelve tent. A couple of high school drop-outs can still buy their own house if she makes fourteen bucks an hour at Timmies and he makes sixteen working at one of the rock quarries.

Howell's Fish. Out of the lake, into the smoker, and on your plate in under 48 hours if you get your timing right. You can't beat Howell's smoked fish.

Sullivan's Butcher Shop. According to them, you can't beat their meat, and I wouldn't want to anyway, but you can't beat their pickled beets either. And their smoked sausages are simply amazing!

Vistas. Every time you turn around, you're looking at limestone cliffs. The Wiarton Marina has to be the most photogenic marina in all Ontario.

The Wiarton marina. You can keep a twenty footer in the most photogenic marina in all Ontario for about a thousand bucks a year. Not sure what the guys with the 52' SeaRays are paying, but they get the same priceless views of those limestone cliffs.

People. The librarian at the local high school has bear meat in her freezer. Why? Because she shot it and it'll make great BBQ.

And then there's this. Yup, that's how we roll in the Bruce.

Gonna be a long time before I leave this place.

Beef farmers getting screwed

I'm not talking about feedlot operators.

I'm talking about the manure-on-their-boots small time guys like the father and son team who graze their cattle here at Falling Downs.

If you look at the price farmers get for their cattle you'll see that over the last twenty years, beef has more or less tracked the rate of inflation. The cost of inputs, however, has run well ahead of the rate of inflation, and the cost of land has gone through the roof.

A hundred acre spread like this one is going to run you at least 600k. You can graze a dozen cow-calf pairs on that while growing enough hay to overwinter them. That'll make you a tidy return, if you sell those calves off after a year, of maybe twelve thousand bucks. That wouldn't cover a minimum wage paycheque if the farmer got paid by the hour, and quite aside from that, it represents a whopping half percent return on your investment!

There should be some way of differentiating between the beef you buy that comes off feedlots and the beef you buy that comes from happy critters roaming around open meadows. I'm not sure there's any difference in the taste of the steak, but I for one feel better knowing that the animal that gave its life so I can eat had a decent one herself before it turned up on my grill.

There's a whole lot of money being made between when the farmer gets two dollars a pound for his beef cattle and you paying twenty bucks a pound to put a steak on the BBQ.

The guy with manure on his boots should be seeing a little more of that cash.

Friday, May 18, 2018

My college daze

 Oddly enough, I quite remember my college days.

This will come as a surprise to those cohorts who assumed I'd flame out soon.

I was at Outhouse College, which was an appendage of that institute of higher learning now more commonly known as Western University.

Only spent a year there, but it was an eventful year. I was simultaneously the captain AND the quarterback of the college drinking team. That's a tall order, and you can imagine the stress that involved. Nevertheless, we won a few championships that year.

I remember a few of my profs... Jeffries, McLarty, McPeck...

And this guy named Hansen, who for some reason, maybe because of his cliched good looks, was known as "Hollywood Hansen" back in the day.

Al Jeffries was a salt of the earth kinda guy. Never had any trouble with him. I learned in the fullness of time that he was on the team that vetted new admissions to Outhouse, and he'd cast the deciding vote on this candidate who was at best 50/50. Fifty percent chance of being a choice recruit; fifty percent chance this asshole would cause you no end of embarrassment.

And it's been fifty-fifty for a long time now.

McPeck was quite a guy. I think he was in philosophy. He made the headlines of the local paper because when he was out for his morning constitutional one day he spotted a couple of youngsters who had fallen into the River Thames.

He was only able to save one of them. You can imagine how that would haunt a philosophy prof for the rest of his life.

And it did.

But the real deal on McPeck was that he was a bit of an outlier at the time. Teaching "critical thinking" was a big fad in those days. McPeck had the unmitigated temerity to suggest that you'd actually have to know something before you could think critically about it.

I remember a few of my fellow students as well. There was Tanja, who came back from spring break to find her dad had been charged with attempted murder. I liked Tanja a lot, and it wasn't all about her very impressive rack. No, she was on the editorial committee for something called the "Outhouse College Arts and Literary Review," where I actually had a couple of short stories published.

And there was this Dolson guy, who I remember telling me; if the path of excess leads to the palace of wisdom, I should back up a bit and find the right exit ramp...

Not sure exactly what he was trying to tell me.

But I'm still here, Mr. Dolson!

And still kicking against the pricks!...

Then there was the colleague who, on being informed that I'd invested my student loans in a place called the "Oar House," surmised that said establishment was right next door to the "air cutting place."

Sounds a bit sketchy...

We even had field trips at Outhouse! I recall a trip to the (then) new CBC HQ in downtown Toronto.

A gang of us were waiting for the elevator in the lobby. When the elevator finally arrived it could only accommodate half our crew.

As we were waiting for the next elevator, I looked around and suggested to the left-behinds that perhaps we should find a bar somewhere instead of touring that stupid CBC building. I was taken aback by the enthusiasm of my classmates for this suggestion!

Long story short, about half the class of '94 got shitfaced in downtown Toronto instead of touring the new CBC digs.

Which ultimately led to a slip of the tongue I regret to this day. Somewhere along the route back to Outhouse, I felt compelled to announce, to all aboard the bus, "hey Hansen, eat shit and die."

Needless to say, I never ever did get a reference letter from Professor Hansen.

But I've done OK.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Justin Trudeau just got a tune-up

And in remarkably short order!

At mid-afternoon today the Google news aggregator featured Justin calling for an independent inquiry into IDF use of "excessive force" at the Gaza border. The CBC had pretty much the same story on view.

That was mid-afternoon. It's now early evening, and that story has disappeared from both the CBC home page and the Google news aggregator.

Hey, those unarmed Palestinians swarming the fence are all terrorists, and having IDF snipers cut them down is just Israel defending her borders.

Who would deny any sovereign nation the right to defend its borders?

Only a dyed-in-the-wool anti-semite would deny Israel the right to defend her borders...

Go patriotic snipers!

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Hiking through a riot of birdsong

Everybody knows songbirds are going extinct.

Here's a link to a story in National Geographic that proves the point. If it's in National Geographic, you know it must be true.

Except... except when I'm walking the hounds in the morning, my quiet personal thoughts are totally obliterated by the cacophony of birdsong all along our five kilometre route!

No extinction going on in these parts!

If those National Geographic writers ever strayed beyond the confines of DC, they'd realize things aren't as bad as they seem to be...

Here at Falling Downs, the songbirds are so plentiful we gotta reload the bird-feeder three times a day!

It's a beautiful thing!