Friday, 26 August 2011

Finding the Woodleigh Replicas

Greg and I toured all the roads around Kensington yesterday in order to find the Woodleigh Replicas. We finally found the property after asking an older clerk at Tim Horton's in Kensington, who got the directions almost right (but turn at Burlingon!).

Joanna and I visited  Woodleigh a quarter of a century ago - now doesn't that seem a lot longer than 25 years ago!!! We had lots of  fun touring the castles etc.

The propert is a bit spooky - all the trees have grown so tall. Another couple - from Montreal - rode up on their Harley -Davidson. They remembered going there as children.

We took some pictures which I'll post later once we get home. There is a big sign offering people a chance to "be part of history " or some such wording and buy lots there. The property dates from 1867, so the For Sale sign says. I fear the replicas may succumb to demolition by neglect. That would be too bad.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Changing cookies

Not the chocolate chip variety, but the Internet variety. I want to find out the number of visitors to my blog, but not including my own trips to the miscellany.

I think I may have succeeded in doing this, thanks to directions from someone much more clever than I,  whom I found on the help board!

What gratified me was that I was able to follow his directions and make the necessary changes all by myself . No IT guy from the seventh floor was called to make the changes in these settings, as would have happened had I been at work.

Retirement imposes new levels of self-sufficiency. I hope this new-found skill works out.

Now I will just cross my fingers that the truly amazing (well, 114 seemed amazing to me) number of hits I got last month weren't all mine!

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Poem: Equinox 2010

Equinox  2010 

At midnight at the edge of the deck,

the long flappy leaves of the canna lilies

tumble and bow and nudge one another

in the night wind and the moonlight.

Above them,

the poplars  overlooking the garden

stand ready to net  the full moon in their  leaves

or permit her  passage  through their branches.

But instead, Jupiter escorts the full moon

across the equinoxial sky

above them all.

As the sun rises for hours on her full shining face,

she describes a long arc across the clear night sky,

unaware of  her harvest light,

of the boys and girls come out to play,

deaf to their whoops and calls.

In the magnificent motion of the heavens,

she slides across and away,

captured by a necessity of movement,

which Newton termed gravity and Dante, love.

Lorna Harris

September 26, 2010

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Dispatches from the Wilds of North Middlesex #7

Summertime and the livin' is queasy

The dog days of summer are upon us. For about 20 days during July and August, Sirius, the dog star, rises and sets with the sun. According to the ancients in Egypt and Rome, Sirius adds its heat to the sun’s, and hot sultry weather, not to mention frenzied behaviour, is the result. Whatever the cause, residents of North Middlesex have been exhibiting the effects of stifling temperatures.

For one thing, goofy crimes seem to be on the rise. Joining the litany of petty thefts reported in the crime column of the Parkhill Gazette, are these: A 20-year-old youth was charged for walking down a local street with an open beer in his hand at 5:30 in the morning. In nearby Southwest Middlesex, a middle-aged man was ticketed for the “impaired driving of a motor vehicle.” The vehicle in question was an electric bicycle.

In the almost-too-stupid-to-be-true department, a driver was charged with speeding and then found to have a suspended licence, along with a number of other licencing offences. His vehicle was towed. A routine check on the friend who came to pick him up revealed she was driving without insurance, and as the report dryly noted, “Her vehicle was towed.”

Three kids, aged 12 and 14, left an large empty box on the front steps of someone’s home, rang the doorbell and ran but apparently not fast enough. Located shortly after by the police, they were taken home to their parents and “warned about mischief charges.”

Unfortunately, not all offenses are as laughable as those. Police have not yet found the vandals who tore the cross off the roof of the local Catholic elementary school and then hurled it against one of the windows of the church across the street. As reported in the London Free Press, a church spokesperson noted, “Using the cross, which for us is a pretty powerful symbol of love, to do something destructive, is missing the whole point of what it is."

Then there is the individual who poured paint over a car parked overnight on Main St. Black on the outside and white on the inside: maybe the way the perpetrator views life at the moment. So far, no word on suspects there either.

Not to forget — the hordes of mosquitoes. I had hoped to write these dispatches without having to use the M-word. However, temperatures are up all over town because of the on-going infestation. To add humiliation to itchiness, it’s been the subject of articles in the London Free Press as well as Canada’s national magazine (no, not Toronto Life, but Maclean’s).

A meeting at the community centre drew about 400 hot, angry residents. Unfortunately, I wasn’t among them, as I was cooling my heels in bug-free Toronto at the time. However, attendees learned more than they will likely ever need to know about the life cycles of various mosquito species, all of which are propagating in a flagrantly irresponsible fashion just about everywhere here. Unfortunately, not much was reported initially in the local paper, as the new editor was, in her own words, still familiarizing herself with the issue.

The company that did the larvicide spraying offered to blanket the town with malathion, which its representative said wouldn’t affect people and pets and would be effective for four to five days in killing all adults (mosquitoes, that is). This suggestion did not receive widespread approbation. Instead, some townsfolk wondered why the population of bats, frogs, and dragonflies is so low. Apparently this has nothing to do with chemical sprays and everything to do with the “present state of the swamp area,” according to a rather nebulous follow-up report in the Gazette.

Turning to agriculture, until recent deluges, the corn was getting so stressed in some fields that the leaves looked like spikes. Apparently, half an inch of rain does the soy beans some good, but not the corn. It needs more. Irrigation is banned to save water, but word on the street (well, more accurately, in my neighbour’s kitchen) says a plane was spotted spraying the corn with some kind of stress guard to cut down on the moisture evaporating from the leaves. The other day, I saw a helicopter fly over our back forty, but I cannot attest to its purpose. I’m not growing corn. Word in the kitchen says it was probably on the look-out for marijuana. I’m not growing that either.

In the truly unsavoury department (Reader Alert – don’t read if close to mealtime, especially if it involves pork), Greg and I were shocked by the sight of a bin of dead pigs sitting beside the highway to Grand Bend. We were on our way to our usual Saturday breakfast of, what else, bacon and eggs, accompanied by lashings of Globe and Mail. The bin shared the field with a billboard announcing the sacredness of all human life, leading me to conjecture that someone was making some kind of odd political or theological statement: either that all life wasn’t sacred or that the lives of pigs should be included.

However, when I asked about it in church the next day, I was quickly disabused of that subtlety. The bin is intended for dead baby pigs whose small size means the lid can be closed while awaiting the arrival of the dead-stock guy. In the heat, some adults succumb, and their fly-ridden and bloated carcasses overflow the container.

The next day, I was holding forth on this travesty of provincial regulation and highway aesthetics, when I was told by a retired farmer that I was overly squeamish and should remember that Farmers Feed Cities. True, but it really makes me think twice about wanting to put “pork on my fork.”

Another Poem


Before lunch in the parish hall,

the old women sit silently

at the long tables –

waiting for grace.

They are sharp-eyed, unsmiling, dour;

their wrinkles set in place by the confidence of duty –

waiting for grace.

I grip my plastic glass to the point of breaking,

I have just about smiled my face to pieces.

Such serenity as theirs is hard-bought.

I am brittle

and still

waiting for grace.

(September 29, 2010)