Monday, November 19, 2018

First World Problems (1).

The House Isn't on Fire!!

[Photo: Where there's smoke, there might be burnt raisins]

For those keeping track of first world problems, allow me to add one more.

The fire alarm in our kitchen frequently goes off - scaring the socks off me! - while I'm standing over the toaster... waiting, waiting. And after getting my wits (and socks) back I grab a towel and wave it frantically back and forth under the blasted alarm before a host of firemen come stormin' through the front door.

I can hear them say, "Toast! We drove across town because of toast? Now, get out there on the front lawn in your pajamas. That oughtta teach ya!"

But it wasn't my toast that set things off this morning, it was burnt raisins - from my wife's raisin and walnut buns. A wee pile of them had fallen to the bottom of the toaster over the last few weeks, along with what looks like croutons and granola. 

While the alarm wailed I flapped my towel and realized it's high time I clean out the tray under the toaster. And while doing so I thought, first world problem. 

How often do fire alarms - set off by toaster or toaster-oven residue - result in house calls? I bet it's a stat, a 'thing', a thing of frustration. 

I think it should be on the list.
I could throw the stuff onto my driveway. Good traction!

Please link to Small Pleasures 7.

Photos GH

Monday, October 1, 2018

Motorcycle Friday Pt. 1.

Cool, Windy, and a Seasonal BLT.

[Photo: Expert gulls fighting a stiff breeze]

Company was expected to arrive at my front porch by 2PM, said a note on the dining room table.

I glanced at my watch, morning coffee in hand. 830AM. 

If I leave by 10 I can be home by 1:30, I thought.

I was gone by 9:45, parked beside the channel at 11, and noticed right off the bat that gulls were fighting the same stiff breeze I had while travelling on my motorcycle toward Port Bruce.

BLT and coffee at noon. Last shots taken while sitting beside the channel.

And I was back home in time to meet my son and grandson at the door.

Please link to Enhanced Port Bruce

Photos GH

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Enhanced Port Bruce

iMac Helps Me Turn Blue.

 Photo: Last Sunday, on north shore of Lake Erie.

Port Bruce is a humble lake-side retreat for a very, very slowly-growing number of Canadians. And that's the way I like it.

The water's edge is gravelly and occasionally I have to exit the water by crawling on hands and knees. And that's the way I like it.

 "Come on in. The bright blue water's fine!"

Sometimes I press the "enhance" button on my iMac's iPhoto software program and the colours jump from normal to brighter or darker or both. And that's the way I like it. 

After a short swim on Sunday I ordered "the usual, please". BLT, can of sodee-pop, followed by dessert - Raspberry and Truffles ice cream. And that's the way I like it.

Big lake. Small, humble boat.

The beach is partly covered by long grass. The pier is short and sweet. The channel wall is often host to a healthy gull population. I can walk around snapping pictures and not worry about crowds, busy traffic or nuisance noises. 

That's the way I like it.

More trips to Port Bruce and lovely Lake Erie to follow.

And maybe a visit to St. Marys as well, for an old-timer I know. : )

Photos by GH

Friday, September 7, 2018

photos by prehistoric canadian.

wild majestic turtles swam alone.

"There was a time in this fair land when the railroad did not run"

Last night before bed I looked through old photo files from a ways back. Not a long, long, long ways back, but a ways back nonetheless.

oldies but goodies:

 old snapping turtle turns up his nose, at bridge 1984

 as the mud dried, swallows lost two nests (out of 90)
at Crossley-Hunter bridge

 1994 Virago is a champ for prehistoric rider

 ancient rock art: "go west, young man, not to cleveland"

Please link to Motorcycle Miles 8: Vivid Blue Over the North Shore.

Photos GH

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Motorcycle Miles 8: Vivid Blue Over the North Shore.

An Unexpected Bright Canopy

I warmed up the bike at noon in my driveway under large, billowing clouds. But a few minutes after passing south of the 401 highway I noticed the skies were clear. Only one large mass of white - looking like a large rabbit blowing smoke rings - appeared on the gradually approaching horizon, the north shore of Lake Erie.

"The rabbit ears had transformed into a set of wings"

By the time I parked my motorcycle in Port Bruce, the rabbit ears had transformed into a set of wings, wide enough to allow the shape-shifter to hold its glide pattern for almost an hour.

There was no escape from London's mugginess. It had followed me the 57 kilometres south, then enveloped me while I strolled in heavy jeans and black boots to the boat channel and pier. 

Oh, to be a gull, I thought. To float on a breeze, to skim the water's face, to rest and cool upon a wave.

"The shape-shifter held its glide pattern for almost an hour"

Not brave enough to swim in my boxers, I ordered an ice cream cone (Raspberry and Truffles) and sat in the shade. 


Photos GH

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Motorcycle Miles 7: Port Bruce at its Best

Cool, Inside Out and Backwards

["I pulled over on a busy stretch in order to see where I'd been"]

"Where I'd been": I passed through Belmont, home to a significant water tower, motorcycle shop, The (world-famous) Town Restaurant, my favourite house (with significant front porch and old barn) and an antique Case tractor.

"I pulled over": Two miles south of Belmont at the top of the highest gentle incline in the area. I was surrounded by oceans of green soy and corn and stood under crisp blue skies. For a second I trusted that one second was all I would need to catch a photo from the centre of the nearest lane.

A safer spot for roadside photos

As I continued south through Mapleton, I planned my second stop. Bridge 1984.

"It's not too far," I said to myself. "And I haven't snuck up on Mr. Snap for quite a while."

 Dead centre. I think he's there!! Zoom in. Zoom in!

That's Mr. Snap's nose, alright.

That cagey old snapper may have heard me coming, but because my last visit was weeks and weeks before, he likely hung around just long enough to taunt me with a shadow of his presence. No sooner had I snapped the second shot, he submerged like a wary submariner. I waited 15 - 20 minutes to get a third photo but he never reappeared. Oh, he's cagey, that boy.

As I rounded my last curve before dropping down into Port Bruce proper, I felt the moderating affect of Lake Erie on the temperature. Cool. I downshifted to reduce the speed of my bike, and thereby moderated the moderating affect. I smelled French fries from The Sand Castle diner as I passed it and studied the sky and calming colours of the Great Lake. 

"I could live here," I thought. "Maybe, someday."

 My first photo after parking the Yamaha.

My last photo before leaving Port Bruce, sans Key Lime ice cream.

I only noticed the aforementioned antique as I passed through Belmont on the way home. 

Now, Case and I go a long way back. But that story's for another day.

"Are your brakes still working?" I wondered.

Between Belmont and Nilestown the rhythm of the motor resonated in time with the passing flashes of paint down the centre of the highway and my mind conjured a new song, with Pink Floydian melodies - 

Oceans of green
under big skies
Perfect marvels
for seeking eyes... 

Please link to Motorcycle Miles 6: Birds and Boats in Port Burwell.

Photos GH

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Two Hop Farms are Poppin'.

Local, and Not So Much.

Photo: Want a short, educational road trip, with ice cream involved?

Gord's Hop Farm is moving through an interesting stage: Delicate hop flowers are slowly developing into fragrant hop cones.

My neighbour also has a hop farm (both are very small farms, i.e., hop vines cover our side fences and some lattice work), but they provide educational opportunities.

One might ask, "How come this beer I'm drinking smells so delicious?"

That would be, for a good part, the aroma of hops.

"How come it tastes so full and rich?"

That could in part be attributed to flavourful hops.

"Where did Gord's hops come from originally?"

From Damion, a guy I met at a London Knights game. Before that.... ? (Google it!)

Hops grow in the wild, and can be spotted easily if you know what you're looking for as you drive or walk through London and environs. For example, there are some in Harris Park, and my son's backyard, and in other local spots.

If you'd like to see a large, productive hop farm while out for a drive, please travel south on Springfield Line south of Mount Salem. You can't miss the Hayhoe Hop Farm on your right before reaching the lakeshore road (Scotia Line between Copenhagen and Port Burwell).

I recommend a road trip in a 1960's VW microbus.

Port Burwell is a destination in itself. Be prepared for ice cream!

Please link to Motorcycle Miles 6: Birds and Boats in Port Burwell.

Photos GH

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Articles: Operation TORCH, N. Africa, Nov. 1942 (Pt 6).

Allied Work Continues in North Africa.
News Clips from Nov. 13 - 16, 1942.

[Photo: WHITE BEACH on the bay of Mersa Bou Zedjar.
Photo Credit - From HyperWar - Page 197 Chapter XI


Canadians worked alongside British and American troops during the initial landings and later (transporting reinforcements and their supplies) in their 10 - 11 day stay near the shores of Algiers, Oran and Arzew in North Africa.

As mentioned earlier, they worked under pressure. Lloyd Evans (RCNVR, Combined Ops), working as part of the Central Task Force near Arzew (east of Oran) reports:

We spent the next week or so unloading troop ships, cargo ships and ammunition ships that had just come from the USA Other than the RN and RCN naval personnel this was strictly an American operation. It was strange for us to see the jeeps and trucks we took ashore loaded with cigarettes, gum and chocolate bars. One night we had to make an emergency trip ashore with a load of Tommy gun ammo for an American group who were almost surrounded by the French Foreign Legion and fast running out of ammo.


The Canadians in Combined Operations initially also worked without rest. When my father did get a break, he was sent to the Reina del Pacifico (nearby troop ship). Getting there was half the fun:

Our Coxswain was L/S Jack Dean of Toronto and our officer was Lt. McDonald RNR. After the 92 hours my officer said, “Well done. An excellent job, Harrison. Go to Reina Del Pacifico and rest.” 

But first the Americans brought in a half track (they found out snipers were in a train station) and shelled the building to the ground level. No more snipers. I then had to climb hand over hand up a large hawser (braided rope) to reach the hand rail of Reina Del Pacifico and here my weakness showed itself.

I got to the hand rail completely exhausted and couldn’t let one hand go to grab the rail or I would have fallen forty feet into an LCM bobbing below. I managed to nod my head at a cook in a Petty Officer’s uniform and he hauled me in. My throat was so dry I only managed to say, “Thanks, you saved my life.”

The Reina was a ship purposely for fellows like me who were tired out, and I was fed everything good, given a big tot of rum and placed in a hammock. I slept the clock around twice - 24 hours - then went back to work.

In seven days I went back aboard the Reina Del and headed for Gibraltar to regroup for the trip back to England. During the trip I noticed the ship carried an unexploded three inch shell in her side all the way back to England. (Page 25, "Dad, Well Done")

Below: Readers will find more news clipping from The Winnipeg Tribune (digitized), a link to more information about the U.S. involvement in the invasion of North Africa, and a few superior photographs from the Imperial War Museum.

Y WHITE BEACH, LES ANDALOUSES. Landing craft at left is an LCM.
Photo Credit - Page 201, HyperWar 

Please link to HyperWar for more information about landings in North Africa - Page 201 Chapter XI

Would the war be over in 1944? Opinions were formed based on Allied progress to date, including successes in North Africa:

The role of some members of the Canadian Air Force are mentioned in the following piece, and Canadians in Combined Ops, operating landing crafts, were part of the "largest amphibious operations" ever conducted:

In one of the previous posts related to my father's experiences in North Africa he mentioned the following:

At around midnight over the sides (of the Derwentdale) went the LCMs, ours with a bulldozer and heavy mesh wire, and about 500 feet from shore we ran aground.... There was little or no resistance, only snipers, and I kept behind the bulldozer blade when they opened up at us. We were towed off eventually and landed in another spot...

The 'bulldozer blade' made for good cover. So did the "wrecked Nazi truck" mentioned below:

More details about Canada's "hero of the air":

Submarines still were a menace in The Med, and in 1943 the menace forced Allied war planners to send convoys around the continent of Africa on their way to the invasion of Sicily (75 years ago on July 10 of this year):

The streets in some towns and cities along the north shore of Algeria were eventually calm and sailors went ashore on leave.

The next photo below is a screen capture from a video made in N. Africa in Nov. 1942.

The 3rd and 5th sailors from the left look very familiar. 

Could the 3rd from left, wearing a black sailors' cap, be Kermit Storey, Dieppe survivor? Kermit is in the centre of the front row in the next photo, from St. Nazaire to Singapore, Volume 1:

Though I am not certain of that match, I believe the 5th sailor from the left in the screen capture (wearing a white cap, and with a fresh cigarette in his mouth) may very well be P. Bowers, Canada (see below).

Five Canadians in Combined Operations. Photo taken in Glasgow, likely in 1942.
Back row, L - R: J. Dale, P. Bowers, Joe Watson (Simcoe, Ontario)
Front row, L - R: Chuck Rose, Chippawa, Ontario and Joe Spencer, Toronto.
Photo Credit - From the collection of Joe Spencer. Used with permission. 

P. Bowers appears in this photo, as well, sitting 2nd from left. S. England, 1943
Don Linder, Kitchener, first on left. Don Westbrook, Hamilton, first on right.
D. Harrison (my father), centre, sticking his head out from behind Bowers.
Photo Credit - From the collection of Lloyd Evans (RCNVR, Combined Ops)

And now, back to the news clips:

The next three photographs and captions, related to Operation Torch and North Africa, are from the Imperial War Museum, U.K.:

A12665. American troops making their way inland after landing at Arzeu.
Photo by RN Photographer F.A. Hudson. Imperial War Museum (IWM)

A12730. Landing craft on their way to the beaches.
Photo Credit - RN Photogr. J.A. Hampton, IWM.

A12732 General view of transports anchored off shore near Algiers. Two lorries
are parked on the beach, whilst two landing craft are beached and several more
can be seen between the beach and the large number of supply and troopships
stretching across the horizon. J.A. Hampton. IWM.

The following clip reveals more information about the variety and amount of supplies that the U.S. forces landed in North Africa, often on landing crafts manned by Canadians in Combined Operations:

The first action my father and his mates (RCNVR, Combined Operations) trained for was Dieppe - unbeknownst to them, of course. Known to them as Operation RUTTER (scheduled for July, 1942; cancelled on the day of the raid) and then as Operation JUBILEE (scheduled for Aug. 19; "it should have been cancelled too" said my father), their experiences would never have been forgotten. More details about the raid are supplied below, about three months after the event:

[Editor's Note: I only added the above clip because I got an angel food cake pan stuck to my head as a child and a local metalworker had to be called to remove it.... with metal cutting shears.]

Does the next photo look familiar? It should. See top of page!

WHITE BEACH on the bay of Mersa Bou Zedjar, North Africa.
Photo Credit - A.P. Wirephoto, The Winnipeg Tribune...
And from HyperWar - Page 197 Chapter XI

A connection to London, Ontario is found in the next clipping, along with a connection to the Canadians in Combined Ops (i.e. "Mac" Ruttan):

More news to follow from North Africa.

For an earlier post, please link to Articles: Operation TORCH, N. Africa, Nov. 1942 (Pt 5).

Unattributed Photos GH