Saturday, March 31, 2012

Climate Change Concerns: Londoners are now ‘six-planet’ consumers

[“Success in 2100 would be a world in which a recognizable descendant of our current civilization is still thriving.” Gwynne Dyer, Mar. 22, London Free Press]

We have been taught to live for today by many avid instructors: Government and business leaders, media and economists, parents, family members and friends, and even by our own thirsts. Conservation (or a philosophy to ‘live small’) is not our cup of tea, or at least not for the majority. To most, it might even be for babies.

["Are we riding too fast?": photo by GH]

However, a recent newspaper article by Gwynne Dyer suggests we are on the wrong path, even here in the very heart of south western Ontario, i.e., London.

“Unfortunately, the way we are living is not sustainable. We have taken too much land out of the natural cycles in order to grow our own food on it. We are destroying the world's major fish populations through overfishing and pollution. We also are driving most of the larger land animals to extinction.” (March 22, The London Free Press)

Dyer says nothing about our extravagant use of water but he easily could have, simply by sharing a few details from a recent United Nations study that calls for a very close look at global water management policies, and says that the demand from agriculture, an industry that currently uses around 70% of the world’s freshwater, is likely to increase by about 20% by 2050, due to population growth on planet earth, i.e., from seven billion (the present level) to nine billion.

Dyer describes our current situation as “a six-planet civilization.” By that he means we require six Earths “to sustain the present human population in the high-energy, high-consumption style that is the hallmark of the current global civilization.” And for no other reason, in my opinion, than to provide a bit of comic relief, he goes on to say, “And for the foreseeable future we will have only one planet, not six.”

Six planets. Here we are in 2012 living as if we have six Earths from which to draw resources. And for those who haven’t been paying much attention, it was only about 15 years ago that the phrase “five-planet consumption” was first bandied about in the news. Really, in only 15 years our population and overall consumption has grown to such a degree that another Earth is needed to sustain us in the lifestyle we so richly deserve.

However, I think it goes without saying, “for the foreseeable future we will have only one planet.”

These few details make me wonder if we should take a closer look at our ‘live for today’ philosophy.

Please click here to read Gwynne Dyer’s full article.


Please click here for more Climate Change Concerns.


Thursday, March 29, 2012

Vancouver Island or Bust PT 2: “Yes, I can afford Paris. You can’t?”

[“Plus, 30 days on a bike and 4,700 km. of tarmac is twice the trip I took in 2010 (to Halifax) and my hinder parts are now two years older.” It Strikes Me Funny, Mar. 28]

I’m taking a train west to Vancouver in April, not my motorcycle, and though I’ll miss the freedom associated with riding a bike for about 4,700 km., from London, Ontario to the ferry terminal in Horseshoe Bay, British Columbia, travelling via The Canadian (a unique Via Rail train) offers many benefits as well.

For example, The Canadian cuts the duration of the trip in half, thereby forcing my wife to cancel several house parties and celebrations in honour of my absence. I no longer have to plan sleeping and eating arrangements for 20 - 22 days along the Trans-Canada highway or sweat about keeping my motorcycle perfectly tuned along the way, not including 5 - 6 days on Vancouver Island. (Just one mishap or one over-night delay would knock a long line of dominoes, related to reservations at hostels and motels, completely out of whack).

As well, though there’s nothing wrong with my cooking, the dining car on The Canadian will undoubtedly be a step up from my typical hostel or ‘side of the road’ fare, and going to sleep to the sound of a gently rocking train car will likely be easier than dropping off between a stranger’s snoring in a male hostel dorm in a Winnipeg, Saskatoon or Lake Louise (etc.).

Even if I took the train home, in order to save time, I’d still have to trouble myself with selling the bike in Vancouver or shipping it back home.

["A trip to Paris, with camping gear on board - easy ka-easy!"]

Really, the train is just a whole lot easier on my psyche and my wallet. Already, I'm more relaxed about the big trip, and with the money saved I’ve purchased half of what I need to get safely to Paris in style, along with Vienna, Zurich and Brussels. Why, even Damascus isn’t out of the question while we’re talking about the plans I have in the future - once returned from Vancouver Island - and once I’ve purchased a decent bicycle to go with my new blue CCM bike trailer.

Besides the aforementioned towns and villages in Ontario well worth a visit after a day or two of hearty bicycling, there is no end to similar, pretty, restful locations on my doorstep, or at least within a 100 km radius of my front porch.

However, I’m getting ahead of myself. I haven’t even visited Vancouver Island and already I’m talking about Paris, Ontario.

It just goes to show you how excited I get whenever I make a big savings.

More to follow.

[Photos by GHarrison]


Please click here to read more Vancouver Island or Bust


Zoom w a View: The last of the blossoms

Last week, thanks to unseasonably warm temperatures, 99% of my apricot tree blossomed over the period of two days. On the weekend almost every white petal fell, blanketing the lawn like large white snowflakes.

In spite of cooler temperatures this week, the final 1% blossomed amid the almost-bare branches.

Tomorrow’s forecast: A touch of snow.

[Photos by GHarrison]


Please click here for more Zoom w a View.


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Vancouver Island or Bust PT 1: “So, I’m going by train”

[“In July, 2012 I’ll leave Wawa with a full tank of gas in my motorcycle at about 9 a.m. The weather will be lovely (says the author, optimistically), as it was the first time I drove that piece of highway north of Sault Ste. Marie in August, 2007.” It Strikes Me Funny, February 23, 2012]

I wrote about such big dreams in February. I dreamt I’d motorcycle west to British Columbia and Vancouver Island this summer and be home in time for supper. Plans have changed.

Oh, I still dream about B.C. and Vancouver Island most every night, and I am going west soon (most details are now beyond the dream stage and, thanks to my savings - dwindling while we speak - already paid for in advance), but the changes to the itinerary are quite significant.

For example, I’m no longer travelling west by motorcycle. The duration of the trip would have been too long, i.e., about 30 days, including only four rest days. And the cost of 30 day’s travel, including fuel, bike insurance, accommodation, food and souvenirs - oh, I like lotsa souvenirs - really stretched my savings.

Plus, 30 days on a bike and 4,700 km. of tarmac is twice the trip I took in 2010 (to Halifax) and my hinder parts are now two years older.

So, I’ve booked train passage on The Canadian (a Via Rail train that travels back and forth regularly between Toronto and Vancouver, and features one heck of a nice dining car), thereby cutting the duration of my trip and expenses in half, as well as preventing great amounts of wear and tear on my hinder parts.

[“Neys Provincial Park”: G.Harrison, 2007]

I know I’ll miss the freedom of pulling over at the side of the highway whenever I want to take photographs. I know I’ll miss travelling at my own speed and singing out loud under my helmet. However, as I’ve learned over the years, when teaching or travelling or staying close to home, when one door closes another opens.

["A trip to Paris? Outstanding!": link to photo]

Already, the money saved has opened the door to a future trip to Paris.

More to follow.


Please click here for more Vancouver Island or Bust


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Zoom w a View: Wooden you like to know?

My neighbour’s lawn still reveals deep dents from the felling of an old sugar maple two weeks ago. The mars will soon be filled in, I’m sure.

However, the holes in the stump will remain, and even grow larger, for years to come. Burrowing ants have struck it rich.

“I want the corner office,” says one ant.

“I want the room with the window,” says another.

“I want to be nearest the fridge,” says a sluggish one.

Also for years to come, I’ll stop by on occasion to see ‘work in progress’.

["Ant Residence" Photos by GHarrison]


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It Strikes Me Funny: “I’ll dust off my Zenith”

The John Labatt Center was hopping last Friday night as the London Knights downed the Windsor Spitfires three to zip.

Several times during the game the following intriguing message was displayed upon the jumbotron over center ice.

[iPhone photo by R. Anderson]

I told my two friends I would dust off my old Zenith (the Royal 710, circa 1960) and look for an earbud.

As of today, I've dusted it off. But...

[Royal 710 photo by GHarrison]

What are the chances it will still work? What are the chances I’m willing to part with a few bucks for six batteries (D cell, if I recall correctly)? What are the chances the folks at JLC will let me into the next home game with the Royal 710 ‘portable listening device’ under my arm?

More to follow.


Please click here for more It Strikes Me Funny.


Ollie and Me: Meet the SQUAT Team

Ollie is a big boy now, 5 and a half years old, and knows his way around our house like the back of his growing hand.

While helping his Grandma in the kitchen the other day, he explained to me that the apple sauce they were making was not for me.

“Who is it for?” I asked.

“It’s for my SQUAT Team,” he said.

Ollie is a very good squatter, as one can see. Very flexible.

So, forget calling for the SWAT Team when in danger. It’s old school. Call Ollie and his team after they’ve finished their apple sauce.

[Photos by Grandpa Harrison]


Please click here for more Ollie and Me.


Sunday, March 25, 2012

Zoom w a View: “Pancake Bay, Lake Superior”

The shoreline of Pancake Bay, Lake Superior presents a view worth conserving.

Photos by GHarrison, August 2007.


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Climate Change Concerns: PT 3 “Water, water everywhere?”

Without a doubt, I say “water, water is not everywhere” and our demands are growing from all quarters.

A growing population is an irresistible force upon a finite resource. As is agriculture, energy development and use, sanitation needs, our thirst for recreation, cooking requirements, and more.

Many topics related to water conservation will be discussed: A reduced population. Rationing. 90 second showers. Composting toilets. Meatless meals. Smaller food portions. Smaller homes, furnishings, appliances. Reduced spending on all goods. Bottled water bans. Fossil fuel reductions. Oilsands withdrawal. Swimming pool closures. Rain water for gardens. “No Golf” Days. Etcetera. (No stone will be left unturned.)

Some attempts at conservation will be made. I predict, however, almost all will be touched by crisis.

Drink up?

[Photo of Pancake Bay by GHarrison]


Please click here to read the following:

Climate Change Concerns: PT 1 “Water, water everywhere?”

Climate Change Concerns: PT 2 “Water, water everywhere?”


Zoom w a View: A warm March, a blooming apricot

A warm March. I also say “too warm March.” The unseasonal double - digit temperatures produce conditions that many flowers and trees cannot resist. Blooms are everywhere.

As global temperatures rise, early blossoms will become the norm, as will other consequences - also irresistible - but less pleasing to the eye.

[Photos of apricot tree by GHarrison]


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Friday, March 23, 2012

Climate Change Concerns: PT 2 “Water, water everywhere?”

[Farmers will need to grow 70% more food by that time (i.e., the year 2050) as rising living standards mean individuals demand more food, and meat in particular. UN study, London Free Press, Mar. 12]

We humans are a very demanding bunch of creatures, and as we demand more creature comforts we’re going to run up against shortages in all of our most important resources, one being water. It’s not everywhere anymore.

As our population rises from seven to nine billion in the next few decades, the world’s supply of water will be severely strained by increased demands from three sectors at the very least:

- the agricultural sector; it already uses 70% of the earth’s fresh-water supply and will want about 90% of drinking water to keep up with rising living standards

- the energy sector; it, including Canada’s tarsands projects, can only be described as a freshwater pig

- the sanitation sector; it demands excessive amounts of water for personal hygiene, cooking waste disposal, keeping the car shiny, etc.

["Water, water everywhere? Demands are growing."]

The UN report tells us “a silent revolution has taken place underground... as the amount of water sucked from below the surface has tripled in the past 50 years, removing a buffer against drought. And just as demand increases, supply in many regions is likely to shrink because of changed rainfall patterns, greater droughts, melting glaciers and altered river flows.”

I suppose if we want to watch a perfect storm, we need to look no farther than our rapidly dwindling freshwater supply.

Without question, we must think now about stringent conservation techniques - related to food and energy production, water use and sanitation - that will guide us toward a sustainable future. Just as some turn piggy banks upside down, then shake them, in order to retrieve the very last coin, we must turn our way of life (and our way of doing business) upside down, and vigorously shake, in order to see what human behaviours, including creature comfort habits, are most steering us toward the demise of the human creature.

No stone can be left unturned.

More to follow.

[Photo of north shore, Lake Superior by GHarrison]


Please click here to read Climate Change Concerns: PT 1 “Water, water everywhere?”


60 Plus: “I still can’t touch my toes”

I know my weekly hockey game has something to do with my stiff back and the fact I could only get within four inches of touching my toes yesterday.

There are other factors: I’m 60 Plus years of age; I don’t have a stretching routine; I have very short arms.

However, for the second day in a row, I completed a few easy stretching exercises before sitting down at the computer. And... good news. Moments ago I reached about one inch closer to my toes - without medical assistance.

[“You little beggars are getting closer!”]

Really, I have to become more flexible. The only positive thing about grunting and groaning while putting on shoes and socks in the morning is that I provide comic relief for my wife. And while in the shower, I have to wrap a washcloth around the end of a spatula in order to clean between my toes. Not a pretty sight.

60 Plus. Sure, I have more time to stop to smell the roses, but if I have to bend over, it’s a tough job.

[Photo by GHarrison]


Please click here for more 60 Plus. Then stretch!


Zoom w a View: Climate change concerns in London 2

In a previous post I expressed some concern about the early arrival of spring. Golfers everywhere threw clubs in my direction. Ha! I ducked.

I mentioned a magnolia tree - one block from my house - that had budded in February but had fallen off my radar (I assumed it had been affected by a few cold nights) and presented a few photos of my apricot tree, with buds a-burstin’.

Yesterday, I purposely took my camera as I walked past the magnolia on my way to coffee. The tree is alive and well... a true Hardy boy. I'm happy to learn the tree was not completely thrown off by unseasonably warm March temperatures.

As years go by, and springs get warmer and earlier, we’ll grow more aware of the negative consequences (upon our ‘deforest city’) associated with climate change.

Golfers will likely rejoice ‘til more chickens come home to roost.

[Photos from Cathcart St. by GHarrison]


Please click here to view Zoom w a View: Climate change concerns in London 2


Thursday, March 22, 2012

Climate Change Concerns: “Water, water everywhere?”

[Farmers will need to grow 70% more food by that time (i.e., 2050)... . Mar. 12, London Free Press]

In 2050, farmers (local, national, international) will be working their butts off trying to feed 9,000,000,000 people. Chances are, they’ll face dozens of challenges.

Ugly consequences related global warming, climate change, lack of clean fuel sources, etc., will surely be felt by all farmers, and if a recent United Nations study is even half-accurate, they’ll have a heckuva time finding a decent glass of water to cool off with at the end of a long day in the fields.

So too will you and I. (Though I’ll have to reach the age of 101, don’t count me out. Great-grandmother Gordon reached her 104th or 105th birthday when I was a child, and I may be as resilient as she was).

Here are a few numbers from the UN study:

Demand from agriculture, which already uses 70% of the earth’s fresh-water supply, is likely to rise by about 20% by 2050

Demand will be driven by a growing population, predicted to increase by two billion people (and reach nine billion) by 2050

Demand will also be driven by rising living standards, i.e., farmers will need to grow 70% more food by that time because individuals are demanding “more food, and meat in particular”

Demand, demand, demand... sounds like the first three acts of a very scary stage play. And it gets scarier when we realize the 70% predicted increase in food will be demanded by a 29% increase in population.

So, when a study says now that “the world’s water supply is being strained by climate change and the growing food, energy and sanitary needs of a fast-growing population”, we should be thinking now about stringent conservation techniques - related to food and energy production, water use and sanitation - that will guide us toward a sustainable future.

And what should ‘stringent conservation techniques’ include?

Stay tuned.

[Photo by GHarrison]


Please click here for more Climate Change Concerns.


Zoom w a View: Windmills at the side of the road

Do windmills come in different sizes?

Can windmills be placed atop buildings?

Does Canada own “Made in Canada” windmills?

If we produced 10 - 15% of our hydro with windmills, would that segment of hydro production be a sustainable industry?

How long do windmills last?

Are coal-fired energy plants sustainable once health-related expenses are considered?

["Postcard from the side of the road" by GHarrison]


Please click here for more Zoom w a View


Fun and Fitness: “I’m 60 Plus and can’t touch my toes”

I’m 60-plus years of age and can think of only a few advantages of not being 30 anymore.

At age 60, for example, I was able to apply for ‘early CPP’, i.e., Canada Pension Plan benefits before age 65. Free coffee for life, that’s what it means, and that’s a good thing. And that’s the only good thing I can think of, concerning my age, at the moment.

60 Plus also means, based on a recent attempt, I can’t touch my toes anymore. What the heck!? I used to be able to put my palms flat on the floor without bending my knees and do kip-ups with one hand tied behind my back.

This morning, after a few minutes of stretching, I reached for my toes and got within four inches. So, that’s what I’m going to attempt to improve upon once I return from my regular walks in the ‘hood. It’s one of my ways of adding a bit of fun to my fitness regimen.

Stay tuned.

[Photo "The four-inch gap!" by GHarrison]


Please click here for more Fun and Fitness


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Zoom w a View: Climate change concerns in London

In February, as I walked to a local coffee shop in Wortley Village, I noticed a magnolia tree on a neighbour's lawn beginning to bud. The spear-shaped, fuzzy buds - hundreds at eye level, next to the sidewalk - were hard to miss.

I made mental notes: Magnolias are budding far too early. One hard frost and the buds will be die. The tree, therefore, won’t bloom in spring.

And in many subsequent walks to the Red Roaster for my morning coffee, I haven’t seen any magnolia buds or blooms. Climate change is doing its work, and it’s fortunate we don’t rely on magnolias as a food source.

The hardy apricot tree on my front lawn began to bud much earlier than usual as well this year. In fact, this morning, upon my return from the coffee shop (it’s true, I’m addicted to coffee) I noticed blooms for the first time. In two days the tree will be covered with millions of lovely white blooms and a few photographers will stop their cars and snap pictures through their rolled-down windows, as in the past.

The tree is blooming too early thanks to global warming and I suspect that as temperatures fluctuate more in the future other fruit trees will have a difficult time adjusting to wonky growing seasons.

Unfortunately, we do rely on fruit trees of all kinds to provide a part of our expansive diets, and climate change will likely result in food shortages in the near future. As we feel the warm (then hot) rays of the sun upon our faces, legs and arms in the coming months, perhaps we’ll also feel we have had something to do about that.

[Photos, "Apricot Blooms", by G. Harrison]


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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Walking 6: Discovering London in one pair of pants

Trees, the Thames River, plastic bottles, bridges, birds, hills and valleys, and flowers are all things I invariably notice as I walk city streets for an hour, 4 or 5 times per week.

I cannot help but notice the rapid week to week changes in the natural surroundings brought on by rising temperatures, warmer this year in March than I can ever recall in the past. (“We’re not breaking records this year, we’re smashing them,” says an article in a local newspaper.) I cannot help but notice that plastic bottles have become the most common items that litter city streets and parks and pathways, barely outnumbered by the spring flowers making their way through remnants of last fall’s leaf clutter.

Noticeable too are the trees in bud, some soon to be in bloom.

As I walked through Thames Park recently I wondered if most Londoners feel it’s a good thing or bad, that spring is coming earlier each year. My impression is, based on conversations with a dozen or more friends and acquaintances, that most like the warmer weather (the golfers in the crowd truly love it), and only a few feel it is weird or wonky and may come at a cost.

I don’t know if I’ll develop a long-term habit of walking the streets of Old London Town for the sake of ‘fun and fitness’ (it’s ‘early days’; as well, I should add ‘photography’ to the mix), but it seems apparent global warming is developing a stronger grip on our local climate.

As it does so, I think fewer will actually like the warmer weather - in spite of an earlier golf season and other fun consequences - because the ugly consequences related to climate change will be more apparent or better known.

[Photos in Thames Park by G.Harrison]


Please click here to read Walking 5: Discovering London in one pair of pants


It Strikes Me Funny: “You’re looking really good”

You know, I don’t often write about how handsome I am, or how fit, or how humble I am for my age... but maybe I could squeeze in a few posts each year about just those things. After all, I think I have good reason.

Yesterday, while I prepared to exit the Little Red Roaster, a woman looked me over while I zipped up my sweater and then said four unexpected words: You’re looking really good.

That stopped me in my tracks. I mean, full stop.

Usually, upon hearing those words, I fall over, unless it’s my wife talking... and then, we laugh and I wonder what it is she wants, i.e., the car for the afternoon, a raise, a quick smooch on the cheek before I’m told it’s my turn to make lunch.

However, yesterday, after I’d wiped the stunned look offa my face, I mentioned that my walking habit must be starting to pay dividends.

["I walked through Thames Park recently; trees are budding early"]

I think it’s that or my aftershave sends out signals (e.g., “Avon Musk, circa 1985, is such a manly fragrance, don’t ya think?”), or, the heavy elastic in my sweater makes my stomach appear smaller.

Whatever the case, I walked home thinking I should write more about such encounters because they likely mean something good.

Exactly what, I’m not entirely sure.

Should I ask my wife what she thinks about the incident next time it’s my turn to make lunch?

[Photo by G. Harrison]


Please click here to read another exciting episode of It Strikes me Funny.


“IT STRIKES” Again: A sale on lasagna and the ultimate chef challenge

[The following column was previously published in May, 2003. There is not a frozen ‘super market’ lasagna that even comes close to my wife’s recipe, especially if I make it. ‘Nuff said. gah]

A sale on lasagna and the ultimate chef challenge

Frozen lasagna in a grocery store’s flyer caught my eye the other day. Five pounds - $9.99. That’s incredible, I thought. Who can beat that?

“When you make lasagna how much does it cost?” I asked Pat.

“It’s pricey. Why?” my wife inquired as she looked up from her magazine.

I pointed to the flyer and said, “Can you make better lasagna than this for less money?”

“Ours might be thicker and tastier but I doubt we could beat the price,” she said.

I heard a touch of cynicism in her voice. The Harrison cook-off was born.

In the past I have been involved in a cook-off or two at Aberdeen Public School. Staff members vied for the prize of light-hearted, short-lived cooking glory and meager recognition. By the time afternoon classes began the winner was left with piles of dirty dishes and a few left-overs.

But in my kitchen it was about the glory, the honour, and ten bucks. I perused Pat’s recipe, made slight modifications and prepared to walk to Valu-Mart in Wortley Village for enough ingredients to fill a 9 by 12 inch pan.

At the store it took me all of 30 seconds to discover that $10 wasn’t going to get me very far. Mozzarella cheese was $5.69 for 600 grams and a pound of lean ground beef cost about $4. I decided it would be wiser to make two batches at once and try to beat the average sale price of $2 per pound.

A customer informed me I could save money by purchasing regular ground beef instead of lean. I resisted. A cashier said she had stopped making her own lasagna because she couldn’t match the price for five pounds of the PC brand. I pressed ahead.

With noodles, mozzarella, pasta sauce, tomatoes, cottage cheese, beef, peppers and mushrooms, I figured I had about 8 pounds of ingredients. Total cost was $17.08. Oh, it was going to be close.

The next day, an icy morning in early April, I assembled the ingredients, then sliced and diced, grated the cheese and cooked the noodles. By 11 a.m. the delicious aroma of fried onions, peppers and spice filled the house and by noon all was ready to spoon into two casserole dishes. An Italian sausage, onions, garlic and a few spices I had on hand brought my total costs to approximately $18.50, so I needed nine pounds of very tasty lasagna to win household glory.

“How are you going to weigh it?” Pat asked innocently.

I stopped stirring the sauce and replied, “I hadn’t thought of that.”

After a short pause I said, “We’ll go by the total volume. I’ll measure the sides of each pan and multiply by how deep it is to calculate cubic inches."

I arranged fat layers of noodles, cheese and sauce in the greased pans, and quietly celebrated as the ingredients approached the rim of each dish. After careful measurements and calculations I estimated I had 24 cubic inches more lasagna than two pans of store-bought - for $1.50 less.

After 35 minutes at 350 degrees the steaming lasagna was served.

“It’s delicious,” Pat said. “Perhaps I’ll take some to mother’s house tonight.”

That one vote of confidence was reward enough.


Please click here to read more “IT STRIKES” Again


Monday, March 12, 2012

Walking 5: Discovering London in one pair of pants

From a week ago last Sunday to last Saturday I was able to find time for four fun and fitness walks. And by adding a couple of light errands to the mix, I walked for almost two hours on one day.

The fun value still persists. I like repeating the hills to improve walking strength, and stopping to snap an occasional photo if a particular scene ‘catches my eye.’

I’ve noticed I like to look under and through bridges, perhaps because a bridge can frame a photo or reveal a convergence of sturdy lines (e.g., the under parts) we don’t see very often.

[Directly above: The artsy-fartsy version of 'bridge under parts']

Is it just me? The Thames River seems to be home to twice as many ducks as in the recent past. If so, is their larger number related to global warming and an earlier or easier spring?

Yesterday, during a warm afternoon, the ducks themselves had little to say as some snoozed near the Blackfriars Bridge.

[Photos by G.Harrison]


Please click here to read Walking 4.


Live Small: Living inside a small circle

As long as I have access to parks, pathways, a good computer, coffee shop and hardware store, I think I can get used to living inside a small circle.

I thought of the phrase ‘a small circle’ the other day as I prepared to take my compost out to my new compost bin. The bin is homemade, as is the almost matching garbage can bin, and they both reside inside the small circle of my back and side yard. And beside my garbage bin is my writing alcove, decorated to the nines with homemade artwork.

When the weather warms I’ll spend several hours per week inside that small circle. I’ll take out a compost deposit, circle back to the garbage bin with another deposit, then sit down in my alcove and do a bit of writing, i.e., after admiring the artwork made from leftover materials.

Coffee, when needed, will be close at hand. As will be most of my earthly needs. All inside ‘a small circle.’

I don’t mind if, as I age, more and more daily activities occur inside a small or even shrinking circle. (They may have to anyway, as energy prices rise). The convenience and routine is enjoyable, and as long as I have access to the larger world, whether for a bag of nails, exercise walk through the city, or occasional long trip (e.g., a train ride to the west coast, as is happening in April) I’ll be a happy camper.

Can you see yourself living inside a small or smaller circle? Have you chosen to do so in the last few years?
What are, or might be, the advantages?

[Photos by G.Harrison]


Please click here for more Live Small.


Friday, March 9, 2012

It Strikes Me Funny: Equalization radios of the classic kind

I’m in trouble. Classic trouble.

I remembered my older son’s birthday all by myself for once, mailed off two books that arrived on time, but promised him a third gift - a classic, turquoise Electrohome radio - that will cost me more to give than I initially thought.

Initially thought. I don’t know how many times those words have landed me in the soup. Thousands likely.

Like the time when I was a kid and thought my mother would like my creative retort to a declaration she made regularly, i.e., “Gordon, you’re going to drive me crazy!”

“For some people it’s not a long drive, Ma,” I said.

Not good. It didn’t go over as well as I initially thought.

Throwing eggs at my Grade 6 teacher’s house on Hallowe’en night. Wearing a new sweatshirt bearing an Ognen Nash quote - Candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker - to my Grade 11 English class. Swimming naked in Gordon Lake in 2006. At first, each idea felt perfect. But later... hmmm, not so much.

A day after promising my older son his third gift (“I’ll bring it up in a couple of weeks!”), a troubling thought came to mind. What will I give my younger son for his next birthday that will be on par with the lovely Electrohome?

Stink. To keep peace in the family I’m going to have to dip into my collection for an equalization radio. It wouldn’t be fair to give one a classic from the 1950s and the other a pair of socks, even though socks are a lovely gift, depending on the quality and quantity.

For example, as a gift, six pairs of the black cotton ones from Winners is indeed a winner. Right? Socks are fine for a birthday gift?

Sorry, I digress.

So, now I have to head for the basement. Can’t put it off. My boys talk on the phone all the time. News about the radio will get out. I’d better get my equalization radio ready to go.

[Photos by GH]


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Thursday, March 8, 2012

Walking 4: Discovering London in one pair of pants

The temperature outside yesterday was either climbing toward, or was in, double digits, so... how could I not go for a walk before my hockey game?

I noticed the snow drops in Thames Park, hidden under leaves or closed tight just a few days before, were making a splash. And the butter cups I’d photographed and posted one week ago were now migrating, or blazing a new trail under a neighbour’s fence.

Warming temperatures have a downside too, I thought, as I continued toward home. In my lifetime, millions of people will be blazing trails from sea coast locations toward higher ground as water levels rise.

[; Please click here for more graphs and details]

I loosened my top button and turned for home.

Photos by G. Harrison.


Please click here to read Walking 3.