this is the day

NUTS ABOUT…

NUTS ABOUT…
I attended a wedding in another city yesterday. I was telling someone that I don’t to a lot of weddings so when I do, I think about love.
More accurately, I marvel at how we work together to create love.
It’s pretty clear to me that men and women have banded together since the beginning of time to take advantage of each others strengths and to shore up each other’s weaknesses.
It’s also obvious there is nothing in it for nature to make men and women the same.
Oh sure, we can pretty much do anything the other can do outside biology, but we have our preferences, don’t we?
One is that women are more attuned to people and men are keener about things.
Afterall, it was Red Green who said, “Women love a man who is handy,” so it must be true. Just look at all those men with “Honey-Do” lists… though I’ve never had one.

Another tendency is the way a man can focus on one thing to the detriment of all other distractions.
Hunting comes to mind, but I could list many examples where we seem to have blinders on.
Like all of our gifts, sometimes this works against us. ‘Nous avons tous les défauts de nos qualités,’ say the French. We all have the faults of our qualities.
Focus is important, a superpower in fact.

Missus approaches things with a much wider scope than I do. She is apt to notice many more subtleties in her surroundings, especially where people are concerned, than I ever would.
Friday I was preparing to attend this wedding, with its flight to another city and overnight stays. Missus was curled up in a big comfy chair in my office, watching and “helping” me with my preparations.
I brought the usual stuff, of course, but struck upon the brilliant idea to bring a few days supply of roasted nuts. I’m not keen on fast food or even most restaurant foods and well, these are no ordinary nuts.
I’m talking top of the line quality cashews, blanched almond, pistachio, walnuts and more from the roasting ovens at The Ottawa Roastery.
I’ll eat a handful (or maybe even two) each day.

Missus noticed.
“You are probably not allowed to bring those,” she said.
I replied, “Should be good hon, I checked the website.”
“Oh, I don’t know, Wally (she calls me by my last name). So many people have peanut allergies these days, and some are extreme, life and death sensitive. I bet they won’t let them on.”
Reluctantly, I took them out.

I learned a long time ago to defer to missus on matters of health. In fact, most women are absolute experts at keeping the people around them alive. Look at mothers and their children? Ever see a doctor’s office run by a man?
Soon I was at the airport on time (if Missus is involved we are early) with my backpack carry on, and punching in my booking number at an Air Canada kiosk.
Nothing. I enlisted help.

Turns out, instead of gong on Friday and returning Sunday, I had booked both my ‘to Calgary’ and ‘from Calgary’ flights for the 3rd of September. I was given a number to call.
Someone named Joanne at Air Canada got me booked on a Friday flight to Montreal and then Calgary. It wasn’t cheap. But I was going. Next security.
At the first stop, a uniformed man accosted me as I went by and insisted he swab my backpack for evidence of explosives. A formality.
We bantered good naturedly, especially given the relief I felt after averting a travel disaster. I must have been hungry and asked him if he would have allowed my big bag of roasted nuts.
“No problem,” came his reply, smiling congenially as he gave me a pass and sent me on my way.

Next was the metal detectors and sending your stuff through bins. I needed two, one for the backpack, one for my steel toe Invincible Defender shoes (wear them with dress pants or jeans and they suit both), belt, jacket, wallet and phone.
He ran them through a second time after discovering my laptop in my backpack. I passed. And as he was examining my stuff, I must have been still hungry because I found myself asking this higher order expert examiner the same hypothetical I’d asked the bomb squad dude.
“If there was a sealed bag from home with about “this much” nuts in it (showing him about three inches with my fingers), would that have been allowed?
“No problem sir, you get to keep your nuts,” came his reply in the easy ball busting way men speak.
We laughed. I went to my gate, charged my phone and did a zoom call meeting I thought I was going to miss but which the delay allowed.

Soon, I boarded and went to Montreal, and before long, landed and made the transfer, and was now tucked into 24C, an aisle seat, headed west.

We reached altitude and the seat belt sign had come off when I noticed a comely stewardess (airline attendant I think is what they are referred to now) bent over and making her way down the aisle backwards, stopping to talk to each row separately.
Since I was sitting aisle-side, she was hard to miss in her Air Canada blue gray tightly tailored skirt.
She got to my row and said, “Vous preferer le Francais or can I speak English to you?”
I answered, “English is fine,” not wanting to practice my French at that moment. I think I was hungry.
So, she starts in, “Well just to let you know, there is someone on board with an extreme nut allergy and to protect them there won’t be any mixed nuts for sale for the duration of the flight.”

I resisted the inclination to ask her if she knew my Missus.
I’m an old hand at this stuff.
Instead, I responded, “It’s funny you say that because just few hours ago I had packed a big bag of Ottawa Roastery nuts to bring with me and my Missus saw them and predicted just what you are saying.”
The women in the seats around me clucked… visibly.
I continued, “She said so many people have extreme allergies these days that it would probably not fly (excuse the pun) with you guys if I brought them in my carry on. So, I didn’t bring them.
“Now here you are telling me the exact situation she predicted three or four hours ago. How can this be? She obviously knows many things that I do not”
Now I can see the women sitting around me, squirming, nodding, smiling, chortling quiet laughs.
“Your passenger is safe with me, thanks to you and my Missus,” I tell her.
Flight gal responds half in English and half in French, “Bravo Monsieur. She is a smart lady!” smiling.

Missus called it. That’s why I’m nuts about her.

This is the day…
cw

SUNDAY PRAYERS


SUNDAY PRAYERS
I was a good boy the first few years of my life. I attended choir practice with my dad when Catholic masses were still in Latin. I’d lose my place and be struck with fear and confusion… only to have the old man beside me reach down gently and show me where to pick up and rejoin the others. It’s a fond memory.
I guess I was there with him in church singing in a language I didn’t understand because I could read. I doubt it was because of my voice as no remnant talent has been detected in that area of my personal expression for decades…
But I’d like to sing. Sure I would. I write instead. Perhaps that’s it, my heart sometimes sings when I write…
I also used to believe in God. Perhaps I still do but don’t know it. Back then, I just took everyone’s word for it but still, to me it seemed reasonable that someone was running things.
After choir, I was in altar boys (unmolested) and served for some years alongside my brothers and many others.
All during this time, I remember I often prayed.
My father used to usher us to bed with the order: “Teeth, tody, prayers.” Tody was our word for the toilet.
So, I’d brush my teeth, use the washroom, and say my prayers.
For a time, surely I must have prayed to God that I would not wet my bed. Yet, it was not until grade two that my prayers in this regard were finally answered.
But back in those days, we prayed “morning, noon and night,” as they say. It seemed normal and prayerful encounters in many circumstances were regularities.
We don’t pray anymore so much. I blame the gay cabal in the Catholic Church ruining it for everyone. Nietzsche called it, but we won’t shoot the messenger.
You can argue that one without me.
I left the Catholics and became an Anglican in 1987. Better to have priests who can marry went my thinking, for wherever there are children, there must also be women. So, I let a Bishop slap the Catholic out of me in front of the congregation. Team Human.
Nowadays, we have mindfulness. Mindfulness is our new prayer, it seems… only it’s not so new at all.
Considering its history right into the Bronze Age and the Indus Valley of India, breath and spirit have combined in a form of prayer for a long time. Possibly before we knew what prayer was, at least compared to the modern version.
I say fuck modern convention and I seek prayer… and act to pray, for prayer expresses a calling from the spirit. It is the spirit which speaks for the soul.
Nurturing that part of our existence brings the possibility of experiencing awe. Awe indeed.
Who has not been “awesomed” by a setting sun, the expanse of an ocean, or the heights of snow-capped mountains?
What about the Milky Way the first time you see them, far away from the lights of the city? And the Aurora Borealis, the Northern Lights, making visible our atmospheric limitations?
And music which moves, paintings and art which captures, grand architecture which expands?
They say awe dwells right at the dividing line between excitement and fear. I like that conceptualization for it brings with it seemingly infinite potential and possibility.
When we bring awe into our world, we begin to see it everywhere… whereas before we may not have even known it existed.
Soon you see awe not just in nature, or in the blue skies and rising moon, but also in your spouse, your children, your coworkers and others around you. I sometimes see awe in you, yes I do.
You are awesome, really you are.
So, we have one hemisphere of the brain which is overwritten in childhood by an operating system predominantly focused on data, analysis, judgment and especially, conformity. It speaks in language and is focused on survivability and sociability.
While the other, the Master Hemisphere, understands language but utters not a word. Rather it speaks in feelings and flashes of insight.
Thomas Edison advised us back in the day ”Never go to sleep without a request to your subconscious.”
Isn’t that what prayer was for?
I’m not a true believer in the sense that I don’t profess my faith conventionally. That doesn’t mean to say I will claim, “I’m not religious, I’m spiritual,” instead either.
It’s just that I prefer to see God as Good Orderly Direction, as my father suggested we do some decades ago when my son struggled and balked at the Scout Oath. Son #1 didn’t buy it, but the acronym lesson has been useful ever since. I’m loyal that way.
I see God as a metaphor for nature and the universe. Later I learned that was Spinoza’s idea so I’m a Pantheist I suppose.
What the fuck do I know? Oops, that makes me Agnostic.
I’m fine with not knowing. I don’t need to know.
In this way, I keep my bargain with my deceased mother when she told me on her deathbed, “Christopher, you’ve got to have a little faith,” and I promised I’d leave room in my life for mystery.
Mystery can be a lot of fun. Scary sometimes, but exciting too.
So I pray. I combine prayer and gratitude and Edison’s advice and often ask my soul what it wants before I go to sleep. What am I feeling, I ask myself. What do I want, I add to my requests.
Last week I had some questions swirling around me while I was on a training, and it was suggested I ask God the following:
What do I see?
What do I hear?
What do I feel?
What do I know?
What do I need to do?
So, like a good Catholic boy turned Anglican man, I did what I was asked without faith or question. I said my prayers.
At 4am I was awoken with answers that came in as clearly as shafts of light through an open east-facing window from a rising sun in a cloudless sky. Clear enough?
It was pitch black outside, but the lights turned on inside me.
I had my answers.
Luckily, I know how to hypnotize myself back to sleep.
I did it again, and then again. Several nights and each night or the next morning at some point, answers came to me… always before noon.
I have a list of questions. I may save them up…
It’s free to be nice I say. It’s also free to pray and be nice to yourself and find answers like people have been doing for at least 2500 years and probably since the dawn of man.
I send you blessings of power and love. And prayers too.
Let us all pray.
This is the day…
cw

LITTLE GIRLS (2June2020)

LITTLE GIRLS

Some little boys may hunt for curiousity or for conquest. Some don’t. My little guy is happy to let wildlife go its way.
My little girl hunts for care giving. She pets bees, you see.
She has a natural curiousity about all living things.
Maybe it was because of the time we walked the two hundred acres and a dragon fly alighted in her hair at the far end, just perfectly, like she was wearing a barrette.
Then, it was happy to hitch a ride with her all the way back home, never moving from the safety of her head until we were in the backyard with the pond in sight.
Clearly, a highlight of her short life.
Daughter picks up spiders, you see. Snakes too, almost daily.
Last week, I saw she had my trap out over in the hedges baited with grass and pine cones, trying to catch a rabbit.
But, it’s the squirrels she’s been after most. A three year quest.
A few days ago, her chance finally came. She heard noises in the garage and suspected squirrel. I was summoned.
Women do that with me. If I’m not working for her ma, she’s putting me to work herself. I wonder where she got it?
Red Green said women like a man who is handy. No kidding…
Under daughter’s direction, I put on my welding gloves (in case) and went looking for the critter, confirming her suspicions while she bounced around delighted. “You might be right, Charlie,” I told her, as I removed another box to look inside..
Sure enough, a baby squirrel had fallen out of the insulation in the rafters, through the plastic vapour barrier and into our stored Halloween decorations high up on a shelf.
Illegal alien rules applied; detention was in order, she said. Well, she didn’t actually use those exact words but there was no doubt a version of “finders keepers” was in force.
Soon, I was also affixing a floor to her old beat up cage, and helping her find a way to attach a water supply. Into her fort the captive went, its cell made as luxurious as she could.
She named it Chocolate Chip. How perfect.
She knew about my friend Lynn, who had a rescued squirrel she named Nico, for over a decade. It had dropped out of the trees as she walked by and became her pet, She cried when it died.
After holding her caught squirrel for a few days, Charlie resisted all efforts, by her ma, urging she release the critter. Ma is her hero in many ways, a good mother and great model for love.
Yesterday, I had a chance to focus on the squirrel issue with daughter while I was in the yard doing a bunch of things.
I asked her how she was doing with her pet. She told me all about her adventure. I listened.
Finally, once she told me everything she had to tell me, I asked her, “Do you love that little squirrel Charlie?”
“I sure do, daddy,” she answered.
Over the last few days I’d mentioned that squirrels live in trees, their natural habitat. Squirrels and trees belong together.
We don’t see squirrels in a field. Nope. Always a tree to live in… with other squirrels, I mentioned casually.
So, I continued, “Charlie, if you really love that little squirrel, could you love it enough to let it go live in trees with other squirrels, with its family?”
She said no, not a chance.
I told her about sitting in front of the garden two days ago, in my old wooden seat where I like to sit, and hearing its mother above in the cherry tree, loudly scolding me.
The cherry tree is connected to the pine tree at the back of the garage where the breach into my rafters had obviously occurred.
“It’s up to you Charlie, you do what you think is right. I trust your judgment.” I was determined to say no more.
She looked pensive, and I could see the resistance on her face. Three years, that’s how long it took her to catch a squirrel, no small accomplishment.
I left it at that…
An hour or so later, this.
She brought Chocolate Chip to me. She had the watchful eye and familiarity of a caregiver with her little charge. She let me take her picture.
First, she stroked the little squirrel’s head, like a mom fixing a child’s hair before sending them off on the bus for the first day of school. Then, she confidently strode over to the pine.. and released it. Straining for a moment as she watched the critter scamper home up the trunk.
The dog joined in watching the critter climb high into the branches. Encouragement I told her it was, helping Chocolate Chip go home.
We talked afterwards. She was philosophical, saying to me: “At least I got to know what it feels like to be a mom.”
Indeed, a glimpse of the Hero’s Journey.
Just like her ma.
Little girls: they teach men about love.
This is the day…

cw

CONQUEST KIDS

CONQUEST KIDS
The barn, as we call it, is really just an old shed. It may have once housed animals, but that would have been long ago. It most surely served others before me, a tool shelter used in various combustion engine repairs.
As a child, i remember rafts of logs driven by lumberjacks still floated the waterways around here.
The barn, like the house, is built with a patchwork of hundred-year-old timber, with walls of rail road ties hewn from those logs floated down the Ottawa and Gatineau Rivers. Some ended up at the E.B.Eddy plant, where the first house builder and owner worked.
A tin roof has seen better days but still works. Not a chance I’d be up there. The climb would be fine, but the idea of ripping my hands on old nails and metal means I give this sort of thing a pass.
But not my country kids. Snow accumulation on the north side lingers, affording them access. I tend to stay out of their adventures and let them find their way while testing themselves.
Big sister Charlie has been trying to climb this roof for a week. Each morning, waiting for the school bus, she tries.
The arrival of spring and melting snow ❄️ means her window of opportunity lessens each day.
This morning, while I was assigned to hold the dog leash, she made it to the top.
Victorious.
This is the day…
cw

ESCAPE

ESCAPE

Monday to Friday, I get to make my children breakfast and see them off to school.

We wait at the end of the driveway for the big yellow schoolbus.

So happens the gal driving the bus is part of a big local farming family. Missus took prom photos for them some years back.

That’s what it’s like in the country. Circumstances delightfully “repurpose” inhabitants as needed.

She waves as she pulls away.

The kids waste no time waiting for the bus. They climb snow banks and barns.

Right until I spot yellow approaching a quarter mile up the street. Then they re-assemble, don backpacks, ready to embark.

But on this day, Charlie finds a wounded Cottontail recovering from what must have been a harrowing night.

There’s blood on the rabbit’s ear as it sits immobilized by an old stove. Coyotes are all around us, lurking, occasionally at any hour of the day.

We hear their yapping most nights, often just outside our bedroom window. They are big and healthy lately, perhaps bolstered by a peak rabbit year.

We find their scat all over, and sometimes what little is left of their kills in the mornings.

For this lucky bunny, last night was no kill, just scat.

This is the day…
cw


UTILITIES UTILITY
Wednesday last, my area was hit by an ice-storm. Missus had been warning me about it for two days, whereas I tend to ignore forecasts. Not her, she is on it daily. In fact, the only reason I pay it much attention at all to what’s going on outside the house is because of her reports.
I have two weather station apps on my phone. One I keep calibrated to display in Celsius, the other in Fahrenheit. That is what I mostly use them for.
I was brought up on Fahrenheit and Imperial measures and had Metric and Celsius rammed down my throat late in my education.
So I have them mostly for reference, or to answer a question from the kids.
Not missus, she watches the weather like a hawk. You could say she does this out of habit because she also likes the smell of her clothes after they have dried out on her clothesline.
I set her up with a beauty system, even built her a set of steps up to a platform by an old cedar that takes advantage of the prevailing breeze.
From there, she dutifully dries her clothes in the sun and wind.
Four trees came down out back in this ice storm. Those were just the ones in my backyard. Hundreds more at Rooster Acres are down or damaged by the weight of ice. It took a day or so to melt and let go.
The four trees in my backyard surrounded my yard shack. I put a new roof and tar paper on it last year to better protect bedding straw we use for chickens and rabbits. To say nothing of the newish lawn tractor I keep in there. Nor the Kawasaki Mule 4×4 and other assorted tools and machines were affected.
The trees fell around and away from the shed.
I am thinking of how to compensate my kids for taking bush saws to the limbs of the felled trees and earn some coins.
More specifically, what argument to use with Missus to override her concerns about sharp objects and children.
Last year, Howie wanted to saw some wood for a grand plan he had to build his own “lab” out back, under the main fort and over the unused sand box, long since devoid of sand.
It’s the stray cats you see, they will use it as a litter box. I do not like my kids playing in Toxoplasmosis Gondi any more than the next guy. I have not put more sand in for five years at least.
Howie used the bush saw adequately. He is a chip off the old block because like his old man, whenever he uses a tool he might bleed, at least a little. That is the price you pay for learning.
I tell this to his ma, but she is not so convinced.
In any case, we had no power, no water, and no heat for a few days.
Missus and the kids rose to the challenge. Luckily, I got us a generator some time ago for times like these.
Unfortunately, I had to choose for heat for the kids and victuals, while the basement sump pump stopped working. I have devised a plan for next time: last week we had 18 inches of water in the downstairs for a couple of days.
High and low pressure switches on the furnace went out. The hot water heater automatically shut off too. And what did Missus do?
Not a word of complaint.
She went out and fetched water from the sisterhood who live closer to town while we brought up pails of water from the basement to operate the toilet.
As well as the using the toaster oven to feed the kids, I used the BBQ to make coffee.
Twice I took us all out to restaurants. Once for supper, once again on Friday morning for breakfast. It was to celebrate my daughter’s twelfth birthday (at least, that was our excuse).
Sure enough, after two days, power came on later in the afternoon just in time that day for Missus and daughter to bake her a cake and cupcakes.
Water and heat. Flush toilets, running water, hot water, and a heater of some kind. I do not have a woodstove, but you can bet my next place will have one if I have my way.
In fact, eventually I want solar panels and big storage batteries enough to power us for a week. But that is for later.
It was an adventure, for the kids and their mother. One night the kids slept in our room on mattresses because we did not have heat for both bedrooms. They loved that.
And the boy figured out that we could get internet if we ran an extension and plugged in the modem and antenna from a splitter because they do not draw that much power.
He had a “best of me” moment when he figured out that the antenna points toward a tower a mile or so away and has nothing to do with our utilities. We just had to tap in from my office. I didn’t even think of it.
I took him up on his suggestion and together, we ran the cable behind my desk. Soon, we were all connected. I kept him home from school and let him play on his tablet for that.
Yesterday, Missus used two big pots holding ten gallons each on the electric stove (which worked as of late Friday and did not interfere with her Easter dinner). These she used to draw me a bath, adding cold water to make it warm and cozy.
I got to take my first bath in at least a decade.
You know what I mean.
Not one complaint from her, the children or even the dog. We just handled the challenges, taking each issue in stride.
These moments are wonderful reminders of what a gift things like flush toilets, electric stoves and furnaces really are. Few people even camp anymore, many won’t even try.
Last night, my landlord’s son came over at eleven pm, having finally figured out the right way to reset the gas hot water tank. He kept apologizing for not figuring things out sooner. I told him to forget about it. Fuhgetaboutit.
Soon after he left, I could hear Missus sneak down to use the washroom and use the sink to wash her hands. Just now, she says she’s going to take a “well-deserved” long shower.
Bless her and the way she smells.
We are back to normal.
This is the day…
cw

CONTRASTING BOYS & GIRLS a retrospective

CONTRASTING BOYS & GIRLS
a retrospective
From 2020,
“IT’S ACUALLY A REAL TOILET,”
so he says, “except it’s made out of cardboard.” Adding, “Look, I put-ted a liner in it. Mommy says I can use it in the bathroom.”
He wanted to use it in his room. Mom asked me to help her. His compromise suggestion was we could attach straws taped together and run those down into the toilet. She wasn’t convinced and sought authority.
Me.
“Howie what I like about this idea is your imagination and how you are inventing plumbing. Not a chance you can use that in your room because you share a room with your sister and she’s not OK with it. And, we already have a toilet. How about using it out where there is no toilet, like in the fort we just built?”
“GREAT IDEA DAD,” he says enthusiastically (capital letters are inadequate here), can I go now???
“Sure thing bud, it’s almost dark but you have just enough time,” I answer, catching the look from missus, the one that says, “see, this is why I keep you around.”
I take his picture, for her, for later. She rescues the extra large roll and substitutes a small one. I ask if rain is in the forecast. She says no.
Introverts are like that, always an eye on the future. I haven’t checked a weather app in months though I have two on my phone.
In seconds he’s enlisted his sister to help him carry his “invention” and open door handles while rubber boots slide on and suddenly, it is quiet in our kitchen.
Missus and I know these are the moments. The moments. We look at each other, our smiles like the clinking glasses of toasts and cheers.
It is this we wanted, never suspecting it could be this good. Not ideal, but perfectly imperfect. Like a portable toilet made of cardboard and plastic and scotch tape.
Charlie comes back in first. “He used it and then dumped it out,” she reports, adding, “I didnt like that.” Oh, we know sweet Charlotte, “you are a good sister,” we tell her.
Moments later, he’s back, triumphant as the inventor of a portable toilet should be. “It worked?” I ask. “Yup,” he answers.
Then he’s at my side, showing me how he will use discarded cardboard rolls from toilet paper and Scott Towels to attach plumbing to his contraption to eliminate the “dumping” step in his elimination protocol. We discuss the merits of using the two seater outhouse already in existence a mere ten paces from his tree fort. “But dad, I’m scared in there,” he interjects, discounting the suggestion entirely.
I send him to the window. It’s even darker now but the outline of the forest is there. “How many trees do you see? Count them.”
He counts, I think he’s ball parking because he says one hundred. I accept his answer. Someone used this on me decades ago and at last, it is my chance.
“One hundred? Well that’s how many washrooms there are outside because each one you can use to piss up against. That’s what boys do.”
He hesitates. I may have him now. It’s at least a stalemate. He is going to sleep on it.
Good night little man. No TV tomorrow either.
.______________
From 2018,
HOW TO SEE YOUR WIFE
On our way to see grandpa Howie, we plan to stop at Tim’s Horton’s so we can bring dad a small decaf and a Boston Crème. At age 89, rules are out the window.
Charlie: daddy, do you know everything?
Dad: Yes, daddy knows everything.
Charlie: do you know what I’m going to say?
Dad: does it have to do with hot chocolate and donuts?
Charlie: no.
Dad: I have limits.
Charlie: did you know that if your wife isn’t beautiful, you can change the way you see her so she IS beautiful?
Dad: …
Charlie: did you know that?
Dad: thank you for reminding me.
Charlie: your welcome.
Dad: how about we get you some Timbits and a hot chocolate too?
Charlie: OK. Can I come in with you?
Dad: absolutely.
____

There you go,
Team Human in development.
This is the day…
cw

Sir Omelette

Sir Omelette
He was born as the son of Little Dude, the most elegant and well-behaved rooster here at Rooster Acres. Not too big, not too small, his line of roosters is a perfect addition to our workforce.

Last year the fox killed a dozen of our workers, including Little Dude.

I can imagine him going first, sacrificing himself to protect his flock. Indeed, how we found the dead leads me to think, or at least imagine, that he went down first while sounding the alarm.
The rest of the hens scattered. I found some deep in bushes, having worked their way into the middle of the brambles and standing there, quietly immobilized, hoping the danger had passed.

As we gathered corpses and shored up defences, the boy found chicken tracks leading into the forest. The two children and I followed them through the brush, a little snow still on the ground helping us find our way.

The Ancient Forest beside us has numerous old structures left standing from previous tenants who had constructed a great paint ball battle ground. It was to these that little not-yet-named Sir Omelette had fled. Reaching the end of the tracks, the three of us puzzled at how they seemed to disappear, and we stopped and looked around. There, on a board nailed across two trees about four feet up, stood this little chicken, just a few inches high himself at the time, pacing back and forth, making worried sounds.

I grabbed him and handed him off to daughter, and she tucked him safely into the crook of her arm and jacket while cooing reassurances to the escapee.

Back in the chicken pen, he was released to grow up some more, ample food, protected, and that is what he did. By late spring, he looked increasingly like his old man, and crowed a hoarse rooster call each morning soon after.

Alas, while rebuilding the flock on behalf of the company, Sir Omelette sired two sons. One was a virtual twin, the other a mix with a red hen that daughter called Fire Feather. That she is reading the Warrior Cats series no doubt influenced her and equally without a doubt, Fire Feather is an entirely appropriate name.

The problem became three roosters. I have tried that before; it is too hard on the hens. I am convinced Granny, one of my favourite chickens over the years, was weakened by a pair of juvenile roosters After she died, I killed them both. I also culled Sir Omelette’s lookalike son last week, something that the children and I debated over breakfast for most of the month. Daughter has no loyalty to the Little Dude looks and prefers the fiery looking rust colours of Fire Feather.

The problem is soon after, Fire Feather and Sir Omelette suddenly became mortal enemies. Sir Omelette realized two of the younger hens were aligned with his son, and without his son’s brother there, it was the time to strike.

Only Fire Feather fought back. Both birds were covered in dirt and circled each other menacingly each time they got close. In just a day, Sir Omelette was blinded in one eye, blood visible on his little rooster face.

The boy suggested we quarantine Sir Omelette in his own yard, splitting the flock between the roosters. I asked him how that would work, who would build a box for him, that sort of thing. He reassured me, “I will dad, I’m a big boy now.” He had my ear. And there is a penned off area at the back where we sometimes had put a new chicken for a few days until the others get used to them. It has an old doghouse converted into chicken coop we use for such occasions.

I sent daughter out to let the chickens out by herself this morning. I could see through the window as she walked among them examining the results. She came back in and told me it looked like Sir Omelette was blind in both eyes. I suspected she was exaggerating but the problem was no less severe. She reported that Sir Omelette was likely beyond repair. “Do you mean I should put him down, Charlie?” I asked. She nodded, then suggested I find some sleeping medication and feed that to him until he just goes to sleep.

I put the kids on the school bus and Remington the dog and I went out to have a look. Sure enough, Sir Omelette was staggering around the pen, attempting to fight Fire Feather, mistaking hens for roosters while lurching to and fro. I snatched him up in my arms and he was gone in moments.

It’s not my favourite thing to do, that is for sure. I liked that rooster; I liked him a lot for the ordeal he had suffered and the bond we had in rescuing him.

Roosters are remarkable animals. Like adult human males, they contribute only a tiny amount of DNA to new chicks. While women are the burdened but precious creators of life, we men are the expendable males but powerful defenders of life. It is the rooster we hear when a fox or coyote comes near. I’ll know his alarm all the way to my office at the front of the house. It is the rooster whose loud calling brings attention to the Cooper’s Hawk who might be sitting in a tree overlooking the flock.

When I feed the birds, the rooster eats last. First, he will pick up pieces of bread and put them back down to show the hens where the food is, making a short “tuk-tuk-tuk” noise while he is at it. Once the hens have all had a chance at the treat, then he will take some himself.

There may be lessons learned in all of this. I am not sure. I had three crowing roosters a week ago, now I have one.

He was a fine bird, and I am hoping it gave his life purpose to serve here at Rooster Acres.

For a man, dying for a cause is honourable, while killing for a cause is sometimes necessary.

Goodbye Sir Omelette.

This is the day…
cw

 

COTTONTAIL QUITS

COTTONTAIL QUITS

That’s the thing about Rooster 🐓 Acres, its commitment to diversity.👏
What an impression that leaves on our workforce.
The only thing is, by diversity, I mean various species, and also whether they are alive… or dead.
This little Cottontail lived in or under an outbuilding all winter. I’d often see her or him just before dark or at sun up. 🌞
His or her tracks decorated my whole driveway some mornings.
It would eat leftover oiled sunflower dropped by birds under their feeder outside the window by my office desk.
The odd time, when feeding pellets to Spotty (the domesticated rabbit) late in the day, I’d take a little extra and leave it at the carport entrance for this brave little one out in the cold.
The food was always gone by the next day.
And so the children found her (or him), lying prone under the back porch steps. When I pulled it out by hand, she (or he) looked well fed, just dead.
The back side of the animal was alive with maggots, but only in a small area, indicating a recent condition.
The children honoured her with a proper burial in the forest under some trees. 🙏
I liked that Cottontail. I’m glad she came to die near me under my back porch.
Missus said maybe she was just old. Could be.
Maybe she just quit.
This is the day…
cw

RIGHT WOMAN BDAY NEGOTIATION

RIGHT WOMAN BDAY NEGOTIATION

When two people meet and “fall in love” observers and participants alike may remember a “rainbows and sunshine” period at the start of the relationship.
Attention is on each other, and every day is an adventure because each thing done together has not been done together ever before.
Novelty reigns supreme and novelty creates stress, which in this case is exciting, something to be faced together..
They say there are 3 phases of relationship: lust, attraction, attachment. The problem as I see it is that we buy into the idea that as if you move from one to the next you leave the former stage behind.
Of course, I call bullshit on this attempt to “move me along.” In defiance of social science bean counters, my suggestion is to “put lust first… and let love take care of itself.”
That said, ideally one of the most critical things that happens during courtship is negotiation.
No one wants to disappoint others: everyone wants to be someone’s hero. Consider then that the hero has no idea of his limitations; the warrior knows exactly what his limitations are.
Be a warrior and consider your life and who you let into it carefully. If you are not good at negotiation, learn all you can about it and get better at it.
The secret to success is cooperation. Making negotiation skills a priority helps you, the people around you, and society at large.
The most important aspect of successful negotiation is to create a win-win to preserve relationships.
That attitude and intention can create understanding and progress in just about any area of life. Can you confidently bargain for what you want?
Can you create understandings with your partner in advance for all the usual pitfalls such as drinking, pregnancy, sex (including sex after pregnancy), housework, friends, work relationships, social expectations, how to argue and make up, diet, and how fat you will let each other get, etc.?
I remember when I told Missus I’d probably forget her birthday.
That’s when she told me that I should go to the card shop that day and get a bunch of cards to keep in my files.
She said, “And on the day of my birthday, when you come downstairs and realize that you have forgotten, you will go to that filing cabinet of yours and fill out one of those cards. Then you’ll put it on the kitchen table, so I’ll know you made the effort to honour my birthday.”
I did as suggested, never once realizing I was committing to a future with her in the process.
Women are closers.
Today is her birthday and I didn’t forget it. We went to dinner last night with another couple and had a delightful time. We even had a babysitter! Both the company and food were grand.
That’s the card I filled out and put on the table earlier today. I didn’t forget the birthday but realized I had no card to leave her in the morning. I went to the files. We’re not married but we won’t quibble, especially not on her birthday.
Courtship is about those little negotiations.
According to attachment expert and professor Sue Johnston, we need two basic questions answered, “are you there?” and “are you with me?” to make things stick. To me one speaks to presence, the other to loyalty.
One gal told me recently about being harried at lunch while being courted by her husband and making him and her son Kraft dinner with sprayed oil instead of butter. Then she barely mixed the dried packaged cheese that comes with it. She said the lot of it was clearly the worst dinner ever.
The man’s straight-faced response to the little boy was to say, “Now, let’s be sure to thank your mother for a wonderful lunch.”
She said she knew right then she’d marry him.
She did and they have four more kids. I’m not sure if that is encouragement or a warning.
Clearly, it works to put lust first, love will prevail.
I negotiated with Missus most of the things that had gone wrong in my previous relationships. Women drinking outside my presence or where I felt she’d be safe, for example. She took it in stride, and I checked off all the boxes. I could find no reason to NOT love this woman.
And that is just it, I think a man can love just about anyone he puts his mind to loving. We are adaptable if anything.
Missus did some negotiating of her own beyond the card-hack close.
At one point she said, “I want people to look at the two of us and wish they were me. Not look at the two of us and feel sorry for me that I am with you.”
Damn if it is not the best advice I have ever received from a woman (and I’ve had all kinds of good counsel from the sisterhood).
If you are a man feel free to adopt it. If you are a woman, share this advice with men around you if you think it will help. Clearly, I needed to hear it.
Can you make a deal similar to Missus’s advice?
For fuck’s sake, she was young when she taught me these things. We are seventeen years in, with two wonderful kids.
If a 20-year-old broad can negotiate that kind of deal with a man who trained in behavioural sciences, taught sales for decades, and has read a book per week his whole life, so can you. Dammit.
OK, with all that said, here’s my last point. There are no guarantees and there’s no way to tell if a woman is the “right” woman or even a “really great woman.”
If you can tell, you should probably move to New York and run a hedge fund. Speaking of which, women are known as conservative investors but make the bet of their life on a man.
What I can tell you is that I am not the same man I was all those years ago. Neither is Missus the same woman.
Dare I say it, we are better, she definitely is. I’m inspired and at times, I hold in me a quiet awe for her.
And that has as much to do with me as it does with anything else. Men lead, women command.
We bring out the best in each other… or we don’t.
Choose one.
This is the day…
cw

A CLICK FOR HOLMES

 


A CLICK FOR HOLMES

I remember it was about fifteen years ago that Holmes bought me a birthday present. It was an odd occasion frankly, as this was the first time that had happened.

By then I’d known him for close to twenty years and not once had he gone out of his way to honour me and actually get me a gift.
Ron Ladd came into my life when he answered an ad for one of my sales crews. At the time, we sold cut flowers door to door all over Southern Ontario.
He was in foster care, and over the next few months and even years, a handful of his foster brothers joined us at his invitation. He was the first.
I could say he was the last too. Within a couple of years of working for me he moved into one of the rooms we rented after we duplexed a bungalow on Hamilton’s West Mountain. Mortgage rates were in the teens at that time and so, we did what we had to do.
I remember complaining to Homer, the Children’s Aid Society social worker who was covering his rent and being gently rebuked.
He told me he wished every one of his hundred plus caseload had someone like me in their lives. Who me? Yes, you. Through my shame, I accepted my role reluctantly.
Ron was a good tenant, learned quickly, and was a loyal and reliable contractor. He loved to laugh and I had the privilege of mentoring him into adulthood despite my flawed existence.
It was the rap era; he could dance too. We nicknamed him Holmes, as in, “What it is, Holmes?” He liked that.
Eventually he moved away to Calgary. We followed, leaving Hamilton and heading to the coast a year or two later. On the way, we checked in on him and roommate Billy Bopper (nickname), another foster kid Ron had brought into our circle, both like family.
We even took them to Cowboys, me wearing my new Lucchese boots bought special for the trip west.
I can’t remember if Billy punched anyone out that particular night or not. It was a long time ago after all, and “The Bopper” had the odd off-night.
Sure enough, in kind some time later Holmes followed us and moved to British Columbia’s Lower Mainland.
There, we lived and worked together again. Eventually, I went into the newspaper paid sales business.
He’d by then become a kayak guide working the salt chuck. My friends and I fished the rivers and salt, and Holmes knew the moon phases and the tides. He had developed expertise.
Later on, he joined me as a manager. It meant reluctantly leaving Galiano Island in the Georgia Straight (“his island”) to help me run Calgary after I’d expanded out of the Vancouver account.
He did it for me.
So, it was he came over with these 30 lbs. dumbbells on what had to be my fiftieth birthday.
I was shocked that he had actually thought of me. Dumbfounded too as they were the perfect all-around size, and a man’s gift to a man.
He’d been doing a lot of body weight exercises and with little encouragement could do a “human flag” off any post. He was a compact powerhouse for some of those years.
Right away, I noticed: one of these dumbbells is loose. When you lift it, it clicks.
Of course, our relationship was based on respect and loyalty, the foundation of any male friendship.
But it also included plenty of the competitive tendency to ball bust each other.
He had a good sense of humour our man Holmes, and we both laughed easily.
I picked them up and started doing reps and click-click-click-click-click… I looked at him.
Happy with the gift but unable to shut my big mouth, I said something like, “Sure enough, one of them is loose and clicking, what the fuck Holmes…”
He answered, assuring me I could handle it, laughing at me with kid brother cheekiness.
It struck me later that my answer was unkind. The kid, from poor beginnings and a troubled start, and even though he was in his thirties, had thought of me. If he’d brought me two stones tied together with string on sticks my only answer should have been profound gratitude.
So now Holmes is gone.
It was a few years after returning to his many friends and actively working as a competent and well-liked kayak guide in the magical waters which surrounded his beloved island. He said good night one evening to his buddy and went to sleep, and never woke up.
I grieve that fucker still. Not in an overwhelming or necessarily burdensome way. Admittedly though, it was at first. Losing people who are loved is always a travail.
I cling to the Hofstadter idea that we exist in each other. Where I exist in Holmes might be in question… but where he is in me is never gone. My little buddy Holmes echoes endlessly down through time in all those he left behind.
And he clicks too. Every time I pick these up, which is pretty much every day, there it is: click-click-click-click-click-click-click-click-click-click.
Ten reps of Holmes, minimum.
I could do super slow reps, which are better for me and I sometimes do, and hear no click, but there’s no fun in that.
With every rep and every click, an echo, a click for each as my memory vault swings open to reveal one of a thousand scenes of me and my little brother.
A click, I see him at age 14 at his first week on the job, cherub-faced and full of commitment.
A click, now I’m teaching him to drive.
A click, I hear him dealing with his first jealous girlfriend (a blonde-haired blue-eyed Newfoundlander beauty).
A click, and he’s teaching my son, his de facto little brother, how to swim in our back yard above ground.
A click, he’s dancing to hip hop in Niagara Falls, N.Y., at a giant club while acting as our designated driver.
A click…
A click…
A click…
A click…
A click for Holmes.

This is the day…

COLD IMMERSION

COLD IMMERSION

The company is situated in Canada, in part of the northern latitudes where snow is common during the winter months from as early as November and as late as April.
Oh sure, I hear complaints from some quarters decrying the inconvenience of winter cold and its accumulation of frozen precipitation. I have an answer.
I have yet to meet someone impatiently waiting at a bus stop (or elsewhere), shivering in minus degree weather (be it Celsius or Fahrenheit), enslaved to the schedules of public transit (or otherwise), who opts for the choice when presented this way.
I simply ask them to remember the swarms of mosquitoes in summer, from the bloody biting black flies in May and June to the deer and horse flies which draw blood and hurt the rest of summer, and then I ask, “Would you rather have that AND six-inch cockroaches crawling all over the place… or this?”
Not once in the decades I have asked the question has anyone (albeit usually female but that’s besides the point) answered that they would prefer six-inch cockroaches and biting insects over winter.
When they answer predictably this way, I say, “Isn’t this great, it’s killing all those bugs!” To which I usually get an acknowledgement, but one clearly based on the better of two bad options.
So winter is like any cold, even cold viruses, in that it builds immunity. And just as a cold with runny nose and coughing is inconvenient but not usually debilitating, so is winter. It build courage I say…
Cold immersion is all the rage amongst the longevity crowd. My son and Chicken Executive Officer assistant has been known to don my winter boots and nothing more than the underwear he sleeps in to let the girls our of their coop and start their day.
Daughter Charlie is not as brave thank heavens, but, according to her mother, is chronically underdressed.
I can get some of that by wandering outside the main offices in a T-Shirt to visit the workers laying eggs to experience it. I will often linger, finding something to do, grabbing a shovel with bare hands that we leave by the fence and shoveling some of the snow impeding the hen’s and rooster’s paths.
If I arrive soon after Howie has let them out I might observe the Hustling Hens as they scoot around, nary a sound among them save for a stifled cluck here and there.
They defer to their defender, the main rooster who is first or second out and checks things to ensure the coast is clear.
Once satisfied, Sir Omelet will signal in the time honoured tradition of all worthwhile roosters. The Celts are said to have believed the rooster a mystical animal as it was first to be heard after a battle.
At the company, things get a little louder as the Hustling Hens start to scratch and dig, through snow if they have to, grateful for the two pine trees in their enclosure and the protected grounds underneath.
Once he has saluted the day gloriously in this way, sons of Sir Omelet, Red and Sir Omelet Jr., might give it a go, but never before giving their father first voice.
In some ways it is solemn, a ritual, a bit like the ringing of a church bell for an early Christian mass.
Some years ago, my Missus insisted I find myself a four wheeler with a plow to more quickly do my driveway. She went so far as to buy it for me. How many gals do that?
When it works it works well enough, the machine I bought I mean, and I can do the driveway in half the usual time. Next machine I get will be fuel injected, is all I’ll say.
I have a snowblower too and it’s a good thing I do. I keep a quarter mile stretch of grass cut in summer encircling the company offices to facilitate walking and exercising. In winter, the snowblower keeps this area clear for me and chief of security, Remington Cabela, as we patrol to make sure all is in order.
Some time of day will see me tossing a twenty-pound ball ahead of us just for fun. Remington has gotten good at avoiding where it lands and has quickly trained me to be very careful.
But it is the end of the driveway that garners my Missus’ attention.
Although I got her winter tires and change them for her faithfully each November and April, she lacks four-wheel drive and clearance.
So out she goes to shovel it like the indomitable Canadian gal that she is. And she never ever asks for help unless it’s over two feet.
She just takes care of it.
As you can probably tell, she doesn’t give a damn about “cold immersion,” in any form whatsoever.
This is the day…
cw

HOME SWEET HOME


Home SWEET Home…

Worth maintaining: property values alone need protection.
If we know NOT doing upkeep eventually means a leaky roof, we stay on it and ensure we are not left exposed to the elements… and the animals.
I learned that the hard way.
When I lived overlooking Lake Ontario, I once let my shingles on the lakeside part of my second story roof curl under the twinned forces of heat and wind.
One day, it rained… a lot, and began dripping significantly from the light fixture in the master bedroom.
I ended up replacing the shingles on the whole house by myself.
I learned a lot, and it was both pain and pleasure as I learned roofing… on the fly (by ladder actually).
The pain came from kidney stones I happened to get at the same time. Those are a bitch.
The pleasure derived all from satisfaction and outweighed the inconvenience of the roof maintenance by far.
No contest.
Common sense, maybe.
Many years ago, probably burdened by a bad back, I shifted perspective about the nature of my true home.
What a difference did it make.
This is the day…

DAD PRIVILEGE

DAD PRIVILEGE
As CEO (chicken executive officer) here at Rooster Acres, I am called upon to solve problems complex and mundane.

If exercising the brain promotes intellectual health, I won’t need any fancy pants training regimen—the usual: sleep, exercise, diet, plus trying to keep up with my children should do it.

The kids themselves are rabid learners. The way they take to anything new on their tablets reminds me of how the company head of security, Cocker Spaniel Remington Cabela, gobbles chicken tossed her way when I eat supper. You could say they set upon learning “like a dog on a bone,” as the old saying goes.

This morning, I converted game CDA music files to MP3 and loaded them onto a memory stick. I had skipped that lesson, so I did it on the fly. Now I have a desktop file just for the boy.

Last night, we loaded the files onto a stick but found out his chromebook wouldn’t play them.

The kid slept, holding the stick in his hands so as not to lose it. He has his own memory stick now: oh, the joy.

Before conducting this sensitive transfer, we stood in my office, him on my step stool, me beside him, and recited Invictus together.

I thank whatever Gods may be for my unconquerable soul…

This is the day…

http://eepurl.com/bhlN7D