Thursday, September 30, 2010

Two Jackpots in a Row!

        Okay, I'll get this out of the way first, the jackpots didn't involve any money! These jackpots involved two people I had never met before and finding out that we had mutual acquaintances.
        A few days ago a couple stopped in my yard as they saw a car in my driveway that they would be interested in buying. They were polite and didn't want to waste my time and wanted to leave their name and phone number in case I ever decided to sell the car.

       We talked a few minutes and the lady somehow or other said that she was raised in the area. So my curiosity went hyper and I asked her if she went to the school I taught in. Yes, she had and then she told me her maiden name. I had taught her two sisters and a brother. This family had it all. They were strong academically, arts wise and in sports. They could also do no wrong! In other words they were extremely well behaved . They were the kind of kids that you could teach for fun. We also talked about some of the teachers from that age. So it was a pleasant memory for me. The bonus was that this woman had become a teacher and was teaching in the school system that I taught in.

     I then looked at the man and asked him if he was raised in this area. He said know but he had been raised in Saskatchewan and he was proud of that. Since I was born and raised in Sask. I had to ask him "Where abouts?" He said Guernsey, Drake...I said wait a minute, Drake is my home town! So then we discovered many people who we knew . I was born in 1939 and he was born in 1957 so we knew different generations of the same family. We were both searching for more common links. He reminded me of some of the experiences which were common such as picking saskatoons , swimming at Manitou Beach and tobogganing on the hills at Lake Manitou.  Most of the area is extremely flat so getting to slide on the hills a Lake Manitou was a treat for all of us. The pool was the only one in a very large area. so we were fortunate as it was nicer to swim in a pool than a lake.

      I enjoy meeting people were we have common connections. It's all the more rewarding if I've never met the people before. So I had a very pleasant one hour visit. It really was like winning two jackpots in a row.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Long Gun Registry Opponents Stretch Their Logic

      This summer we have had a very vigorous debate regarding long gun registry when the government proposed a bill to kill the gun registry bill. The numbers for support of the registry were very close and the closer the numbers came the hotter the debate. The gun registry was kept but the government sponsored the bill to kill the registry was defeated by the combined opposition.

     Now I like to be open minded about issues, but I like to see a fair debate with an absence of   tactics which bend the logic.

    One objection I have is the claim that the law makes criminals out of honest people such as farmers and hunters. I object strongly to this as the law does not make anybody a criminal. People make themselves criminals by breaking the law and getting caught and being convicted. People make a choice to break a law. The law does nothing to make them criminals. I've worked with enough bad guys and they realize that the choices they made got them into trouble. Pot sellers would like this idea that the law makes them a criminal not their selling of pot. I'm sure murderers would like this slant. Kill the murder laws because they make people into criminals. Opponents use this angle because some people refused to register their guns and got caught.

     Another objection I have is to refer to gun registry as "gun control."  Gun registry is not "gun control." The issue should be called gun registry. "Gun control" brings too much emotional baggage with it. Even Priminister Harper got caught up using the term "gun control" rather than gun registry. A Priminster should know that the law doesn't make the criminal.

      Another myth that was promoted heavily is that the long gun registry was a device to go into a residence and confiscate the guns. Nothing could be further from the truth. Great emotional stories are told about little old guys having their guns confiscated and we are to feel sorry for them. Police will seize guns when an offense has been committed. If someone discharges a fire arm too close to a residence and someone complains the shooter is going to be in trouble and should be in trouble as  it is dangerous. Whether there is gun registry or not if you discharge a fire arm too close to a residence you will be in trouble. Don't blame the gun registry for your troubles.

      Opponents ignore the fact that major safety regulations accompanied gun registration. Gun safety courses have been developed and taught by gun owners. GOOD!

     Opponents like to push the point that gun registry doesn't prevent crime. Gun registry was not about preventing crime. Gun registry assists police in their work if they have some idea who has guns. Again safety is an issue. This argument is extended to great lengths by bringing in all kinds of objects which could be used as weapons.

     Opposition to gun registry has a good case. Opponents have done themselves harm by stretching their points unnecessarily. They also brought in the NRA. Not fair when you bring a foreign group in to help you fight your cause. It was rather interesting to follow comments on stories and see that the same guy wrote in his comment many times trying to inflate the opposition. This tactic just looks exactly like it is...SILLY.

      To this point I was somewhat apathetic about gun registry. Whatever happened would have been acceptable to me. I am not anti hunting. Hunting is legal and is well regulated although I think they should have closed grizzly bear hunting many years ago. The tactics used by gun registry opponents has attracted my  attention. I dislike tactics which are bent. From now on I will be a much more active supporter of gun registry. I have started by writing this piece.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Bird Bonanza

     Yesterday Sept. 21 was a record day for birds in my backyard! I watch birds out of my back windows all year and keep tally of what I see. I usually count 30-35 species a year. It's quite predictable. I can check the calendar and say well, chipping sparrows should be here. Then there are my faithful year round residents who visit my feeders.

      I have also noted in previous posts that the migrating season can get very interesting. Suddenly birds that just go through for migration appear. They make for an interesting and challenging time to watch birds. In the fall migration the birds can look quite different compared to the spring migration when the birds are in breeding plumage.

      So yesterday between 12:45 and 1:15 I had 15 species in my backyard! For me that's a record and the half hour was very exciting.

      So what did I see? Wilson's warbler, Tennessee warbler, orange crowned warbler, yellow rumped warbler, house sparrow, white crowned sparrow, white throated sparrow , chipping sparrow, pine siskin, red breasted nuthatch, black capped chickadee, flicker, downy woodpecker, blue jay and robin.

     So at this time of year I find Sibley's guide to birds very helpful as it illustrates the adult and juvenile colorings. Ordinarily I like birds of Alberta by fisher and Acorn as you only have Alberta birds covered. Lately I've started using on line sources and one I recommend is the Cornell ornithology site. This site will also provide the various calls ans sometimes provide video so that you can see the flight pattern.

     So yesterday for a brief half hour I had a real birding bonanza!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Rainy Sunday Afternoon

       It's a very cool, dull, rainy Sunday afternoon. At times rain has been heavy. This is just the opposite of what we would like at this time of year. For farmers trying to harvest and gardeners, we are looking for some sunny,warm, dry weather.

        My nephews are farming in Saskatchewan and they went on the fields last week and got stuck in the mud many times. This rain only makes it much worse.

      So this afternoon I began to think of music and songs which have rain in them. The one I'd like to come true is "Don't Let the Rain Come Down." This was done by Trini Lopez in the 60's. I still have it but it's on a reel to reel tape. My old reel to reel tape recorder doesn't work anymore so I can't listen to it. Now many people will not know what I'm talking about...   reel to reel tape recorder.

      Other tunes are more upbeat as in Eddie Rabbit's "I Love a Rainy Night." This is another lively tune about rain and also from the 60's. We need Eddie Rabbit's rain  in the summer when moisture is needed to bring on crops and gardens.

     "September Rain" describes today very accurately. It was a much slower piece of music which probably comes from a long way back.

      I'm sure that I could go on with many examples of music which has a rain theme. The blues genre alone could produce may titles.

      So this Sunday afternoon I'd really like to do what I did many years ago on the farm. I'd go upstairs  and cover up, listen to the rain on the roof and soon go to sleep for the afternoon.

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Killing Frost Hit Last Night

       When September arrives , I know that it's only a matter of time before we get a killing frost. Last night was the night for a killing frost when we had a low of minus 6 C and below 0 for about 8 hours. So this morning no matter whether the plants were covered or not the were severely frost damaged .

      When frost is forecast here, I begin to worry and become tense as I do not like to see the end of a growing season. Once the evil deed is done, I can relax because frost is one thing I don't have to worry about anymore.

      So now I don't have to water plants everyday. No pleasure of walking by the plants each day to see their progress. The expectation of plant yield has come to an end. I will note the things I've learned this year so that next year changes can be made . Certain varieties will not be grown next year.

     Now I'm at peace and fall can take it's course. Many trees were shedding leaves by the bag full today. Fall cleanup can seriously begin.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Sequel to my Predicament

          A few posts ago I did a piece called "Predicament" where I described how our lock wore out and we were unable to unlock it and get in the house.

        Well that lock had to be replaced very soon and that was another adventure. We went to our favorite building supply center that has some people knowledgeable about locks. Home Farm Girl insists that she has to have exactly the same lock to replace the old one because the same lock is on the front door. She will move heaven and earth to find the exact replacement lock. Our lock was a 1963 model as that is when our house was built.

       The first guy we ran into was about as helpful as a coat of paint. He knew that the lock we had was not produced any more and then he tried to sell us the lock which is most popular today. This disappointed Home Farm Girl and she was ready to start on a marathon search for the exact lock. She was sure it could be found somewhere in some one's supply of locks. About this time a little dumpling of a guy came along and asked coat of paint what the problem was. Dumpling said yes, these locks are no longer produced, but we have some in the back corner. Dumpling went to the corner and came back with the exact lock. Home Farm Girl was absolutely pleased and amazed. Now Dumpling says, " It's a Weiser lock and they have life time guarantees so you get the lock free. I thought Home Farm Girl would really lose it as for her there is nothing better if it's free  especially if she was expecting to pay for it.

       So in less than two minutes Home Farm Girl was on her way with a free lock and a reluctant handyman to install it. After filing the striker plate for  while I got the new lock to fit perfectly. Now the door closes  with a soft "clasp" and so works better than it ever has.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Some Topics Keep Giving and Giving

        When I started my blog two years ago,  little did I realize that I would do five posts on the white tailed jack rabbit.   I did not intend to write about rabbits. Experiences have occurred which have lead to good stories.

        This urban area has a number of jack rabbits as a permanent population. Most days when I'm out I see a rabbit and sometimes three at a time. Just seeing a rabbit munching on grass or snoozing in some brush does not make a story. Since rabbits are somewhat numerous and very active they sometimes present stories. That is what has happened to me. Interesting happenings take place and I write about them. Now my neighbors are passing on stories and pictures. I've also had to do a little research so I learn some interesting things. It also helps that these animals are cute and move in huge leaps and bounds.     I see so many rabbits that I have jokingly appointed myself as the official rabbit watcher.

     So scroll back and look at some of the posts I've made on the white tailed jack rabbit.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Baby Jack Rabbit with an Attitude

         I received an email this morning which included a couple of pictures of a new born jack rabbit.


     My neighbors Mavis and Duane, happened to find this little critter toddling about on their lawn beside the shrubbery. Their first reaction was to get a picture and their second plan was to shoo the little guy back into the shrubbery for his own protection. When they attempted to guide the baby back to the protection of the shrubbery it hissed at them. More than that, it put a paw out as if to shoo them away. So they gave up trying to help and left him to his own design. They did the right thing to leave him alone. Many people pick these little fellows up thinking that they have been abandoned . Not so.

       The doe leaves the new born rabbits about an hour after their birth. The babies leave their birth place almost immediately and go in different directions. Even though they are tiny and young they are very mobile and can move easily. The doe comes back from time to time and finds them and nurses them. They do live a precarious life and a high percentage of them are preyed on by predators. The jack rabbit has come to know that there are fewer predators in an urban setting and the food is plentiful. Therefore we have an ever increasing population of jack rabbits in the city.

      So thanks Mavis and Duane for being alert and getting a picture and telling a story. This little creature displayed a very independent attitude for his age. It's rather amazing that this birth happened on Sept. 5 which is rather late in the season.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

What's the Best Part of Barbecue?

       Now there are many opinions as to what the best part of barbecuing may be. For some it's the social occasion. Others it's the meat. And for still others it's what can be done with spices to obtain a specific flavor. For me the best part of barbecuing is the veggies!

      When I barbecue I insist on barbecuing some vegetables with what ever meat I happen to chose. I cut potatoes and onions into quarter inch slices. I also slice up some carrots. I lightly oil tinfoil with margarine and layer the veggies on the tin foil. A little bit of salt and pepper and then I fold up the tin foil to make a fairly tight seal. Cook over a direct low heat. In about 20 minutes they are done. I turn them slightly every 5 minutes or so so that they don't burn.  You end up with slightly caramelized veggies and do they have taste!

      I guess the combination of vegetable flavors gives the whole serving real zing. For me it's the best part of a barbecue. Try it sometime and let me know what you think.

Labor Day


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Alf Sells Mushrooms

          Some kids sell lemonade, but my six year old neighbor sells mushrooms!

          I have written about Alf previously in this blog. Alf spends part of his time with his Dad who is my next door neighbor. Alf is typical of any six year old...full of energy, creative, curious, and cute. When Alf is with his Dad, they try to do many active things like swimming, cycling and yard work. So there wasn't time to organize a lemonade stand. And I'm not sure about Dad's ability to make lemonade.

         We have had a very wet cool summer. As a result we from time to time had a bumper crop of mushrooms(fungi). At Alf's place there was the stump of an old tree and several large mushrooms appeared. You guessed . Alf got the idea in his head to sell mushrooms. So for part of one morning I was pestered to buy mushrooms. I was creative in my refusals and tried to tell him about edible and non edible mushrooms. The price varied from a dollar a mushroom to a penny a mushroom. Finally, I thought if I take his picture that should satisfy him.

       So here is the salesman and his mushrooms. I would be happy if anyone could identify the mushrooms for me.