Saturday, August 30, 2008

Zoom w a View: Water, water everywhere

Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink.

Water, water everywhere and not a drop of Quik.

However you remember the line, take a moment to share a few photographs related to - water.

Click here to visit a unique site, Written Inc. by carmi, including instruction re how to take part.

Enjoy your long weekend.

And now, back to the beach.

"Excuse me. I believe that was my Corona!"


Gord H.


Friday, August 29, 2008

It Strikes Me Funny: Canadian lifestyle is a hard-hearted killer

Part 2

Bumper sticker:

“Our air sucks deeply. So you shouldn’t”

Ok, the sticker needs some work, but so does our air quality.

According to the latest Canadian Medical Association report “roughly 21,000 Canadians, mostly seniors, will die this year from a combination of short- and long-term exposure to air pollution.”

[I recommend you click here to see above photo in context at The Kassandra Project]

A newspaper article re the report also said:

“the annual death toll will rise 83 per cent to 39,000 deaths per year by 2031”

Though the economic losses are staggering ($8 billion this year, accumulating to more than $250 billion by 2031) the estimates are conservative since the study “assumed air pollution will not increase above current levels.”

The study assumed we’d stabilize air pollution, our transportation, construction, production and lifestyle habits? And maybe make a few efforts to live smaller than we do?

I hope analysts are correct.

Because “prolonged exposure to air pollution damages the muscle cells in the arteries of the heart, causing them to harden.”

And our hearts, in many ways, appear to be very hard already.

[Read Part 1 for context]


Sugar in the Morning: PC white grape juice slams cranberry cocktail

News update:

I moaned and groaned something fierce yesterday about the amount of sugar that was in my bottle of cranberry cocktail.

And well I should. 35 grams of sugar in a 250 ml serving (63 per 450 ml bottle) is way out of line.

Farther still out of line is the PC white grape juice I just had with my lunch. (I diluted it with lottsa tap water).

37 grams of sugar per 250 ml serving or 269 grams per bottle (1.82 L).

We have a winna!!

Can you beat that?

[Click here for yesterday’s posts and moans and groans]


It Strikes Me Funny: Canadian lifestyle is a hard-hearted killer

Few people would be surprised that the Canadian diet is a killer.

For example:

Wendy’s new Baconator sounds like Terminator and can strike down strong men.

Did you know, however, our air can do the same?

It’s so bad it should come with a warning label:

“Breathe something else.”

Or maybe a bumper sticker:

“If you breathe this you’re too close and you’ll soon be dead.”

It’s so bad everyone should read news about the latest Canadian Medical Association report that tells how bad it is.

Here are some lowlights:

“a cumulative death toll of 800,000 Canadians by 2031”

“smog will also drain billions of dollars from Canada’s economy and health-care system in medical costs and lost productivity”

[Is it any wonder major corporations don’t want to support health care? It would cost too much to take responsibility for their actions.]

So, right off the top we’ve got death and drainage problems.

There’s more:

“the vast majority of smog-related deaths will be seniors aged 65 and older because they are more vulnerable to heart problems”

Hey, I’m good. Still in my fifties.

But there’s more.

Stay tuned.


Thursday, August 28, 2008

Zoom w a View: Water, water everywhere but not a drop of...

Quick. How does that line end?

You might have to be my age to remember.

Both teachers and students of photography, however, will find it easy to share their camera work (or play) with others after following a few simple instructions posted at Written Inc.

Carmi's theme this week at Thematic Photographic, relates to - water. (Not Quik)

Below: My son and grandson in the water at Fenelon Falls

Next, grandson Jack tells me about the one that got away

Water and sand make beautiful music together

Click here for more Zoom w a View.


Cranberry Juice. Cranberry cocktail. Harmony Restaurant. Heart Attack.

Relax. I didn’t have a heart attack while drinking cranberry cocktail at the Harmony Restaurant.

But next time I’m offered juice I’ll ask if it’s real juice or counterfeit cocktail.

450 ml of cranberry poppy-cocktail contains 63 grams of sugar and I wouldn’t be surprised if most of it is high fructose corn syrup, the cause of much of the fat in this great wide land of ours.

And in your cheeks, hips, waist, thighs, breasts, upper arms and butt.

[Grandson Jack asking, “That’s five times as much sugar as we need... right?”]

Did I miss anything?

Oh yeah. I think my love handles are full of the stuff.

(It’s definitely time for me to hit the recumbent bike. Hockey season starts in two months and my team needs me - really needs me.)

At the aforementioned restaurant I poured a small amount of my cocktail over a glassful of ice and later took home the rest. So did 3 of my 4 companions.

We drank the rest with lots of water while swimming in the afternoon.

Conclusion: Sugar in the morning, sugar in the evening, suga at suppa time is more than an innocent love song.


Sugar in the morning, sugar in the evening, suga at suppa time!

Geez, if I’d wanted a heart attack while eating pancakes I would have asked for one.

I wanted blueberries with my blueberry pancakes, nothing more.

Oh, yeah. And a glass of cranberry juice because that’s what the server at the Harmony Restaurant north of Fenelon Falls said she was serving.

But when the juice arrived it was actually cocktail and I’m smart enough to know there’s a difference - just not how much of a difference.

After reading the nutritional facts label and discovering how much sugar was in the bottle of cocktail, however, I figure the difference is somewhere between good health and a coronary.

[Closing in on a coronary bypass?]

I exclaimed in front of others, “What the heck? That’s a lot of sugar.”

Close your eyes and guess. Just take a stab.

How much sugar in a 450 ml bottle of cranberry cocktail?

10 grams? 20? 30? 40? 50? 60?

Someone might say, “Sixty? Get real, granddad.”

Yeah? Try this.

The label said 35g per... 250 ml serving.

Quick. Go grab a calculator. I’ll wait.

Stay tuned.


Live Small and Prosper: Small homes are out there -and I like ‘em

Like The Small House Society I think the following:

There is “an ecological, economic and psychological toll that excessive housing takes on our lives.”

That’s why governments need to be, like the Society, “dedicated to the promotion of smaller housing alternatives which can be more affordable and ecological.”

People who live small already are happy to promote the fact.

This, from apple jack creek (Alberta):

“I originally built the Banff layout (768 main floor with half upper story as a loft, the rest open) for my son and myself to live in. It's on a crawl space, so we have storage down stairs.”

“Living in the small space was reasonably workable for two of us, and with a few more interior walls, or a full second storey, this could've worked well for four.”

[The Agawa model at]

“Regardless, there are a number of really nice small square footage designs on the site which I thought your readers might be interested in.”

So, in some jurisdictions small homes are possible and enjoyed.

Will governments soon not only allow small homes but encourage and promote them more visibly?

I hope so.

Because I really liked the Agawa model and can already see myself in Port Burwell, sliding down a bronze fire pole to my motorcycle below.

Wait. Do governments allow bronze poles?


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Live Small and Prosper: Governments must encourage small homes in a big way

According to The Small House Society they are "a voice for the Small House Movement.”

Their website said:

“It's not a movement about people claiming to be "tinier than thou" but rather people making their own choices toward simpler and smaller living however they feel best fits their life.”

[Cartoon by GAH: Do you do more with less or less with more?]

I support their intentions fully and hope levels of government soon do more to encourage such movements.

Because finding or building small homes in many places ain’t easy.

Recently, mojo contributed the following:

“Honestly I could do quite well with under 1000 sq ft. The "dream house" I'll build one day is a converted "garage-in-a-box" that may include a sleeping loft...”

“Assuming, of course, that I can find a place to build it.”

“This is not always the easiest of tasks. You'd think that you could simply buy a piece of land, and build what you want on your land, but it doesn't work that way.

“Between restrictive covenants, local ordinances, zoning restrictions and all manner of other red tape, you have to look pretty hard for a place you could build something that small on.

“Added to that, most such places are outside the city proper, meaning no city services -- and probably a longer commute.”

Challenges abound.

Will governments assist in removing barriers?

Stay tuned for a success story.


It Strikes Me Funny: Ahhh, small homes - the simple life at last

If you’re considering a small or smaller house for whatever reason(s) - surely there are over 1,000 good ones - read a post by Peter Coy referred to below.

Title: The joys of small houses

Let us pause in our worship of square footage and his ‘n’ her master bathrooms to count the joys of the small house.

1. There are fewer places for things to get lost.
2. You can vacuum more quickly. 

3. The heating bill is lower.

4. No room for furniture you can’t afford anyway.

5. Families spend more time together (because they have no choice).

Peter then provides a link to The Small House Society which takes the matter of small homes quite seriously.

You may find the electronic journey rewarding.

I browsed floor plans (The Enesti: under 800 sq. ft.) and readers’ comments and started saving for a sloping building lot I saw recently in Port Burwell.

My new wee house would have to be on stilts but isn’t that doable?

I’d park my Virago under the porch and slide down to the ground on a bronze fire pole.

Ahhh, the simple life may not just be a dream.

Can you add to Peter’s list?


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

My Point of View: The Small House - Do we have a chicken and egg question here?

[Should I have mentioned the egg first?]

Yesterday I wrote that ASAP all levels of government need to sponsor and demonstrate the building of [small, energy-efficient] homes because most home builders won’t do it. We need to see a few examples... to get the bigger picture.

Reader kvl made me think again when he said the following (in part):

I would argue that home builders would build those types of houses if that’s what people wanted... but as sad as it might be, most people want to live in the "burbs" and want their monster house.

I thought, kvl makes a good point but perhaps only in part.

For example, do we have something like the proverbial chicken and egg question here?

Do most people want to live in the burbs or is that just where most of the new homes are that are in a reasonable price range?

Do people want their monster house - because after looking closely at all the alternatives, from 1,000 to 4,800 sq. ft., they really feel a monster home is the best buy - or because that’s all that is offered?

[Click here to see the Enesti: Under 800 sq. ft.]

Do home builders build what people want or something that will compete with other offerings (or look even better: “We’ll make the red oak kitchen island standard!”) and that’s what people have been enticed to buy?

Do you feel dizzy right now? Sorry.

Imagine how the chicken feels. Or would it be the egg?

I think that smart-looking, energy-efficient 1,000 sq. ft. homes or condos would sell very well if given the chance.

But a typical London home builder won’t take that chance for a variety of reasons.

For one, the climate isn’t right.

Other reasons?


Live Small and Prosper: Our type of lifestyle is doubly deadly

Part 3

People, like glacial ice, are disappearing at an alarming rate.

According to a recent study by the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) almost 21,000 Canadians will die this year because of short- and long-term exposure to air pollution.

[Link to article: London newspaper]

Almost double the amount is predicted by 2031.

When I suggested in an earlier post our city should “go onto something else that will help the environment” (e.g. ban plastic bags, build an electric car company or subdivision of very small homes) I didn’t add “or else thousands of us won’t survive.”

I would imagine the present (1:2,000) and future (1:1,000) death rate associated with air pollution is somewhat the same in the U.S. and Mexico but because those countries have much greater populations their losses won’t be as noticeable.

[Photo in context]

At least until the CMA discovers how many annual deaths are attributable to water, land and food degradation as well.

Then it will be more visible how deadly the North American fossil fuel-based lifestyle has become.

21,000 is likely the tip of the quickly melting ice berg.


Monday, August 25, 2008

Live Small and Prosper: 1,000 Sq. Ft. homes - we should build them

Part 2

A couple I read and later wrote about owns a huge cottage in the Muskokas (5,000 sq. ft. plus) and the wife said two things related to its size that caught my attention.

And I quote:

“Sometimes I’ll visit a room and just sit in it for an hour so I can say I use it.”


“It’s probably too big for the two of us.”

I conclude that it is. Anyone who has to visit rooms has their head on backwards.

Many other individuals, couples and families have similar unreasonable-sized homes across North America and though every other ‘huge homes and gardens’ magazine proclaims the glory of life in a castle we could easily live quite comfortably in 1,000 sq. ft. or less.

[Click here: photo in context]

We need to see a few examples, however, of small, energy-efficient homes to get the bigger picture.

ASAP, all levels of government need to sponsor and demonstrate the building of such homes because most home builders won’t do it.

Costs associated with this type of public education will be quickly returned through the many physical, environmental and social benefits.

Am I on the right track?


Live Small and Prosper: The 1,000 Sq. Ft. home - where is it?

Part 1

I think we’d enjoy countless physical, environmental and social benefits if more individuals, couples and families lived in smaller homes, even smaller than 1,000 sq. ft. including all levels.

But I don’t know if any exist in our city. Or in Canada.

Do you live in a 1,000 sq. ft. home or is there such a home in your neighbourhood?

If you do, or if there is, please send a picture of it to me.

And owners of small spaces, be prepared to answer the following questions:

Do you have to stack things on top of one another?

Is your TV in a closet?

If you’re married do you sleep in bunk beds? (You’d have to wouldn’t you?)

Where do you store all your stuff?

What benefits do you appreciate related to your small home?

I think, in general, the bigger the house the bigger the lifestyle and some associated problems.

More furniture, more building materials, more heating fuel costs, more toys, more debt, more production, more fossil fuels to drive the economy.

Am I right?

Stay tuned.


Sunday, August 24, 2008

Live Small and Prosper: London is on an environmental roll (Look out, Montreal!)

My hometown - London, Ontario - recently instituted a limited ban on sales of plastic water bottles at city-owned sites.

Shortly thereafter it garnered praise from other Canadian cities including our capital, Ottawa, was featured on CBC Radio news (jist talk about a feather in yer cap, by gol’) and may influence future decisions re bottled water in local schools.

Not bad for a couple hours work on a Monday night at ye olde city hall.

So, we should start a list, eh?

If city council can figure out how to get water fountains into public spaces e.g. Victoria Park, and ordinary citizens can actually manage to carry water in thermoses - geez, or squeeze their own oranges if they prefer fresh juice - we should go onto something else that will help the environment or save landfill space or lower our dependence upon another convenience related to the all-encompassing (but not all-powerful) fossil fuel industry.

If we play our cards right we might even get our own space on the next Monopoly board.

[Click here for details about Canadian cities featured in the latest Monopoly game]


My Point of View: Deforest City should strike while the water’s hot

London, Ontario is on a roll.

The ban on plastic water bottle sales instituted by London City Council was mentioned - more than once! - on CBC Radio’s national news.

While a hapless tourist was screeched in at a pub in St. John’s, Newfoundland and the countdown clock for the 2010 Winter Olympics in British Columbia struck ‘536 days to go’ a CBC announcer proclaimed the virtues of our ban at city-owned sites.

While 3 London’s councillors who voted against the ban crossed their hearts and hoped no one would die of thirst (“We’re getting sued again!? Sheeeiiittt!!”) Ottawa councillor Alex Cullen said he hopes his own city will revisit the issue "given London's example” and added:

"Anything we can do to reduce the amount of plastic bottles by having such a policy on city property I think is a good idea.”

Even local school boards will consider a similar ban in the fall. (link to London newspaper article)

Because of the tremendous uphill roll our city is experiencing, I believe now is a good time to tackle even more pressing environmental, social and physical issues.

Stay tuned.

[Read post below - free of charge - for more context]


Friday, August 22, 2008

Live Small and Prosper: London’s nanny state garnering praise from Ottawa

At the same time as local councillor Paul Van Meerbergen is huffing and puffing that restricting the sales of plastic bottled water (even in a very small way) is “one more brick in the creation of a nanny state” there are reports that other cities and institutions may follow London’s lead.

It just hit me.

“London’s lead. Other cities may follow London’s lead.”

I’ve never used those words together before in a sentence.

And we could be hearing them again soon - even on CBC Radio Canada nonetheless.

This, from online:

“A recent ban on bottled-water sales at municipal premises in London, Ont., is a good idea and one that Ottawa should reconsider,” two city councillors say.

"I'm happy as a clam that they've gone ahead and made such a sensible decision," Capital ward Coun. Clive Doucet said. "But I'm sad that we can't be ahead of the pack."

Hey, you snooze you lose, Clive!

“Happy as a clam. I’m as happy as a clam.”

When’s the last time you heard that?


Thursday, August 21, 2008

Zoom w a View: This is me getting all artsy with asparagus and turbines

As I said in a recent post last, Sunday was “a perfect day to go slow, stop and snap postcards from the side of the road.”

The Yamaha rumbled when I wanted rumble but I had just as much fun with the camera.

Richmond and Lower Path Rd., an asparagus patch and under a turbine at Port Burwell were a few of my stops.

I hope you’ll excuse me for getting all artsy-fartsy with some photographs.

Asparagus does that to me.

Click here for other photos.


My Point of View: To ban (the plastic water bottle) or not to ban

If you want to have a great debate institute a ban on plastic water bottles at a few city-owned sites as did London Ontario.

Fur will fly. Truth will be turned upside down. Over-reactions by deputy mayors and councillors will be the order of the day.

And, if you’re like me, willing to carry your own water in a thermos and squeeze your own oranges if you prefer juice, your blood will boil at some of the things people say.

For example, Councillor Paul Van Meerbergen declared [see entire newspaper article]:

“It’s one more brick in the construction of a nanny state.”

As I said yesterday, the derogatory term generally refers to excessive state controls.

Here’s more:

It can refer to “consumer protectionism that removes or controls otherwise free choices such as helmet laws, anti-smoking laws and other laws regarding personal choices (some of which include a social cost, as in increased health-care costs to society at large)” [Wikipedia online]

In my opinion, many would agree that some restrictions save lives and untold personal and economic costs (seat-belt, helmet, anti-smoking, highway speed laws etc.) and we’re still hundreds of years away from becoming a nanny state.

We’ll need an excessive number of bricks put in place before present and future generations are adequately protected from the social and environmental costs related to excessive lifestyle choices - made possible by an unsustainable economy fueled by petroleum.

Van Meerbergen also predicted Londoners won’t let their kids drink from public fountains that are exposed to things as vile as urine and added, “Most families are not going to encourage their children to lap up water from public fountains.”

His words made me wonder, what’s more excessive?

The controls or the councillor?

In conclusion, though there will be many more statements made in support of bottled water that will make me feel more like a geezer, give me fever or make my blood boil I will hold my tongue (in this space) until we’ve lived with the ban for one year.

Hold my tongue?

You heard it here first.

[Read post below for more context]


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

It Strikes Me Funny: Comments about London’s bottle ban give me fever

My temperature rose a notch or two while reading comments from an industry spokesman and local councillors who oppose a limited ban on plastic water bottle sales at some London venues.

[A London newspaper report]

An incomprehensible comment by Dep. Mayor Gosnell (“We are penalizing water”) boosted my geezer temp to 98.9 degrees.

But a lulu of a lament by Councillor Paul Van Meerbergen provoked a fever.

He said:

“It’s one more brick in the construction of a nanny state.”

Is he kidding?


There’s no report Van Meerbergen grinned mischievously, winked at people or poked a fellow councillor in the arm before saying, “Hey, I was just goofin’ around.”

For those not in the loop, ‘nanny state’ is a derogatory term and “in general is used in reference to policies where the state is characterized as being excessive in its desire to protect ("nanny"), govern or control particular aspects of society.” [Wikipedia online]

Is a small restriction on plastic bottle usage equal to a brick?

How does that work?

Hurry - my temp just hit 99.2 degrees

Stay tuned

[Read post below for more context]


It Strikes Me Funny: Comments about water bottle ban agitate this geezer

I predicted in today’s column that as discussions related to a water bottle ban continue in London people who sell ‘plastic’ water (and others) would say, in effect:

“Are you nuts? There are great reasons to allow plastic bottles.”

And I predicted such comments would make me feel like a geezer.

I was correct on both counts.

After a ban was actually introduced people said the following:

“(The city) ... ignored the facts and decided to target a healthy consumer choice. This is a move that will cost taxpayers more and do less for the environment.” - J. Sherwood, Pres. of Refreshments Canada

[Report in London newspaper]

I put my hand to my forehead.

Ouch. My geezer temp - usually stable - was at 98.7 degrees.

“A ban will push people to drink less healthful alternatives.” - Deputy Mayor Tom Gosnell and Controller Bud Polhill

I hit 98.8.

“We are penalizing water.” Dep. Mayor Gosnell

98.9 degrees soon followed and sweat from my nose dripped into my orange juice.

Could civic leaders respond in a more out-dated fashion?

Stay tuned.


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Motorcycle Miles: Butterflies, wind turbines, an alligator and asparagus patch

Last Sunday was a perfect day to motorcycle.

I called a friend from Aylmer and told her to warm up my bike.

(She purchased a Suzuki from me two years ago but I still call it ‘my bike’.)

It was also a perfect day to go slow, stop and snap postcards from the side of the road.

My friend and her daughter are good riding mates. They’re pretty curious about their surroundings and will often explore one side of a ditch or asparagus patch while I’m exploring the other.

[Asparagus patch: photo GAH]

They don’t mind that I stop every 10 minutes to see what I can see.

Or not see. Where’s Johnny?

Johnny? Johnny?


It Strikes Me Funny: True Canadians can squeeze their own oranges

In an earlier post concerning some of the myths related to the use of bottled water I asked the following disconcerting question(s):

Where is our self-reliance, ability to squeeze our own oranges, appreciation for the environment, creativity - and willingness to think outside the bottle?

So many answers, eh?

I think one of them is:

We live in such a hurry we buy “conveniences” thinking we’re buying time too.

Sometimes we are, a few seconds here and there, along with a host of environmental challenges that end up in landfills and waterways.

Lately, like many True Canadians, I’ve been squeezing oranges in an old juicer, adding water and ice, pouring the results into a travel mug or thermos (total time - 5 minutes) and sipping it throughout the day.

I take the thermos on many short motorcycle trips.

I enjoyed the ice cold orange juice as a cheap treat (about $1.00 less than coffee) while walking Port Burwell’s beach recently.

Next week, maybe I’ll squeeze up some strawberry lemon juice.


My Point of View: Yup, I’m a geezer - I won’t buy bottled water

Part 3

Sure, I’m a geezer.

I have unruly neck hair and don’t believe the myth that bottled water is healthier than tap water.

[Why? Click here.]

According to a recent letter to The Londoner (V. Prat, Aug. 13) there are five more popular myths and they all turn my unruly hair gray.

Along with as much plastic water as we can fit into a Hummer some people want us to buy the following:

That $1 or $2 a litre [for water] is cheap.
Bottled water is a sound environmental choice
Recycling plastic works
At events e.g. if bottled water is not available people will turn to sugar drinks
There will be lost jobs

Why, just for starters, it geezerfies the mind to imagine how much money some people could save if, instead of bottled water, they purchased a thermos for their backpack or brief case and travel mug for the car.

Where is our self-reliance, ability to squeeze our own oranges, appreciation for the environment, creativity - and willingness to think outside the bottle?


Saturday, August 16, 2008

My Point of View: I’m a geezer and have my own juice

Part 2

According to a recent letter to the editor there are six popular excuses related to drinking bottled water.

Well, no matter how many excuses are generated I’ll continue to think bottled water should be banned wherever possible because I think like - therefore I am - a geezer.

For example, excuse or myth 1 is as follows:

Bottled water is healthier [than tap water].

I say, what a bunch of malarkey.

I heard the first batch of bottled water came from a greasy hose out back of a garage.

Two guys started selling town tap water for 10 cents a pop because people were actually willing to buy it rather than walk home for a drink - and the practice continues to this day.

With a bit of effort and ingenuity we could carry cold water with us everyday - even freshly squeezed orange juice - in any number of reusable containers, conveniently, and drink something a lot healthier than bottled water.

Bottled water is healthier?

Not a chance.

Read Part 1 of My Point of View below for context.


My Point of View: Debate re bottled water proves I’m a geezer

Part 1

I already know I’m a geezer.

While shaving this morning I spotted a wild tuft of hair on the side of my neck that hadn’t been there last week.

My hair realizes it misses the sixties and is doing whatever the heck it pleases. And I can’t blame it.

A recent letter to the editor of The Londoner confirmed I’m a geezer too, as excuse after excuse - six in all - for using plastic bottled waters made me realize I come from another generation, maybe even from a land far away where we learned to do many things for ourselves and when we whined that we were hungry our mothers told us to have a drink of water, then go outside and play - but not with scissors.

I’ll start teasing a few posts out of the letter after I make my morning orange juice.

Tune in for Part 2

Click here for the first in a recent series about The Blackout


Thursday, August 14, 2008

Ollie and Me: Poignant moments now that I’ve seen the photos

To teachers and students of photography:

There is a unique opportunity for you to share your camera work (or play) with others at Written Inc.

Carmi, the site’s creator, invites you to participate in Thematic Photographic, and this week's theme relates to - poignant photos.

I fell in love with the following photographs of grandson Ollie and me as soon as I saw them.

I thought again of a few words a Greek restauranteur told me years ago, while playing near his kitchen with my first grandson:

“You get your children back.”

He was right.

There are times I feel strong regrets that I spent, as a school teacher, more hours during most days with other people’s children than my own. And as a young father I didn’t have the good sense to appreciate the treasure in my own house.

However, every time I now spend a meaningful moment with my sons and grandsons a bit of regret disappears.

[Click here to see another shot of Ollie and me.]


Today is the 5th anniversary of The Blackout

Part 7 - Conclusion

Five years ago today millions of people in Ontario and north eastern U.S. experienced a historic hydro meltdown.

So historic and memorable that some still refer to it as The Blackout.

In the last several posts I’ve been telling the story of an official knee-knocking party that began spontaneously on my front porch with friends and neighbours.

I wrote:

Warm conversations flowed, ice melted in more ways than one, a rare atmosphere developed, neighbours became friends and we realized we’d get through The Blackout by sharing advice, skills and supplies.

The sharing atmosphere has continued on Cathcart St., our neighbours are still our good friends and I’ll be part of another front porch knee-knocker tonight after supper.

Not everyone landed on their feet like my neighbours and I did, but The Blackout’s date reminds me to enjoy things that are near.

Also, connected to that first knee-knocker party, a ‘live small and prosper’ philosophy is now frequently shared in my weekly column.


Would we benefit from annual organized blackouts?

Here’s another man’s opinion.


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Live Small and Prosper: The 5th anniversary of The Blackout is tomorrow

Part 6

Tomorrow's date will mark five years since my wife and I huddled around a crank radio with a few neighbours on our porch, agreed not to open the freezer doors while we used up food from the fridge and I kept asking:

“Anyone want more yogurt? Please?”

That turned out to be a good plan after we learned from our immediate neighbour we could be in for a long haul since The Blackout affected such a large area the process of getting everyone back online would take days.

Ontario Hyrdo One’s Anne Creighton reported the following:

“We're checking our system to see what the impact is, but it looks like the majority of the province could be out.”

New York Governor George Pataki added:

"Well over half of the people of the state are without power." [CBC News Online]

It helped our mood that our neighbour brought a rare single malt whisky to contribute to our stock of dwindling drinks.

I grabbed more chairs, asked the growing crowd to squeeze in a little closer [we reached 12 guests and declared it an official ‘knee-knocking’ party by 10 p.m.] and brought out my own bottle of single malt.

Or was it two?

Warm conversations flowed, ice melted in more ways than one, a rare atmosphere developed, neighbours became friends and we realized we’d get through The Blackout by sharing advice, skills and supplies.

The beer, whisky and close quarters helped but The Blackout was the catalyst that provided a different flavour to our street.

And more.

Tomorrow - the final installment

[See below for Part 5]


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Live Small and Prosper: The 5th anniversary of The Blackout is 2 days away

Part 5

At 7 p.m., three hours after The Blackout on August 14, 2003 my wife and I tidied our front porch and welcomed the return of a few neighbours.

Soon a small group huddled around a crank radio and wondered what had caused The Blackout, if some folks would have to work the next day, how to deal with future meals and frozen food - among other things.

While we enjoyed a breeze in London, Ontario James Thompson, who works in Manhattan, said:

"People that would normally be inside are outside because they are baking in their buildings.”

When Robert MacKenzie, supervisor of communications for Toronto, was asked where Mayor Mel Lastman was he replied:

“I have no idea.” [CBC News Online]

However, when I asked who wanted a Guinness before it got warm I received positive replies.

One came from a disembodied voice several feet away.

“I do,” said a neighbour sitting alone in the dark on his nearby porch and in return for Guinness he brought bad news and good whisky.

Tomorrow - Part 6.

[Click here for Part 4]


Zoom w a View: Quick - shoot, edit and crop the crops

I could have taken a 1,000 photos but returned from Cape Chin, Georgian Bay and Wiarton with only a few.

The fellow who did all the driving said in advance that our weekend trip was going to simply be a quick crop tour.

Quick. What are the crops?

[Add a slice to a toasted bacon, cheese, tomato, dill pickle and peanut butter sandwich. You'll be glad you did. Your spouse - not so much.]

[These are the seed pods for... ?]

[My newest cribbage buddy is picking one crop while backing into a second]

[Click here for other recent photos]

Did you recognize Spanish onion, garlic, peas and tomatoes? How about Lou?