Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Promoting a Preferred, Proper, Practical and Professional Produce Production Protocol

I had to do create some kind of title to catch your attention because this entry isn't the most exciting one I've done.
It's kind of exciting to us though and I wanted to keep track of the progress as the summer moves along.

The boys and I decided to plant a vegetable garden in our back yard.

We got the idea last year when we were visiting my cousin up in Stanley, N.B. and marvelled at the amount of awesome fresh vegetables they had from their garden.

We all enjoy veggies but T is a fan of onions in particular so we had to make certain that we have a lot of them.

I have to ask a favour if you're reading this. If you see something that we are doing wrong that we can fix please let me know as soon as possible.
If it's something that is too late to repair, please keep it in your head and casually mention it at the end of summer so that I can note it for next season.
Thanks. :)
As I write this we have already learned an important lesson since first planting. You'll see farther down.

The plan has been in our minds all winter but I wasn't really sure of when we were supposed to get started with the process.
I grew tomatoes years ago when I lived in Ontario but that was easy. I just bought little plants that had already been started and plopped them into the ground in a garden that was already there.

This project is a tad more complicated since we had to dig out a patch in our yard for it.
No problem. I picked a good location with plenty of sunlight.

Several weeks ago T and I were shopping and spotted a display of seeds. We bought a couple of packages of pea, carrot, cucumber, corn, and onion seeds.
Then we bought one of those plastic tray things with a bunch of sections with peat disks.
These things make life pretty easy for someone like me. All I had to do was add water to the tray. The peat disks absorbed the water and swelled up.
I just put the seeds into the tops of the peat, closed the lid and put the tray in sunlight. And we waited.
It's a little greenhouse. Very nice.

The hard part was digging out the patch of the yard for the garden. The digging wasn't so bad but pulling the sod out and loosening the soil wasn't so much fun.
It seems that there's a fair bit of clay but we'll see how that works out.

Here's a bunch of photos of our first phase.

Okay there it is. Planted.
That was just over a week ago.

Remember that first lesson I mentioned that we learned? Most who have gardens will have spotted this right away.
I'll give you a hint.
It has to do with planting delicious looking green stuff right beside a forest overloaded with bunnies, deer and other assorted hungry wildlife.

Yep. Two days later I went out to see how things were progressing and found a bunch of the plants pulled up and lying on their sides. Some did appear to have been chewed.

Don't ask me why but I forgot to take a photo of the destruction before we repaired it.

Off to Home Depot we went to get what we needed for a fence.
Two small rolls of chicken wire and 6 wooden stakes later this is what the vegetable garden looks like now.

At first I thought that deer had done the deed since it looked like a hoof or something had made the holes to dig out the plants but the next day I looked out and spotted Bugs the Bunny looking sadly through the fencing at his salad.

We'll see how it goes.
If I do several updates you'll know that the garden is doing fine.
If I never mention it again it's safe to assume that it was a disaster and I'm sulking about it. :D

Stay well,

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Horror in Your Head

To start this one off I will have to begin by giving a short summary of some recent world events in the news.

On Sunday May 15th approximately one-third the town of Slave Lake, Alberta was destroyed by a horrendous fire. The blaze originated in the forests outside of town and was pushed closer and closer to the town by winds up to 100 km/hr.
Despite the best efforts of fire-fighters and civilians the perimeter of the town was breached and 95% of the 7000 residents were forced to evacuate.
By the time it was over, City Hall was burned, many businesses vanished and two hundred residences were destroyed.

In the United States a wingnut named Harold Camping who is president of Family Radio, announced that the rapture and Judgment Day would take place on May 21, 2011 at 6 p.m.
He based this stupidity on his calculations and conclusions from passages in the bible.
Sadly, this loon was given far too much coverage on the world stage and some folks actually felt that the Apocalypse could actually take place.
Happily, here we are 3 days later.
Doofus was wrong but now claims that he made an error and the event will actually occur on October 21, 2011.
Wouldn't it be nice if this guy had no access to media from now until then and we wouldn't have to hear about it again in a few months?

Over this past weekend more than fifty twisters were reported across seven midwestern states in the United States.
The worst hit was Joplin, Missouri where on Sunday a single twister killed at least 116 people, and the figure is expected to rise as debris is cleared.
Hopefully they will find some survivors as well.
This was considered to be the deadliest tornado in the United States in almost 60 years.

That's quite a bit of scariness and bad news for a short period of time isn't it?
At what point does it become too much to bear?
When does the horror of the world smash around inside our brains and finally cause it to collapse into itself?

I remember watching the movie "The Fisher King" starring Robin Williams and Jeff Bridges and feeling so sad for Robin's character.
Following the death of his wife, William's character slips into a catatonic state and remains there for a few years.
When he emerges he becomes obsessed with the tale of the legend of the Fisher King and most of the movie follows his hallucinations as Jeff Bridge's character tries to help him.
I won't bother going into full details but my point is that sometimes things happen that cause someone's mind to go into another place which is a different reality than what the rest of us know.

On the other side, I think that at times a mind which has been worn down by time or altered in some way may take what it sees, good or bad, and twist it around into another reality.

Perhaps this isn't always a bad thing.
If we can take a whole bunch of messy things and turn it into something nice in our mind what harm is there in that? Especially if it is in our later years and we don't have a lot of time left on the Earth?

That's the nice side.
What about the scary side?
What about when someone takes several things and turns them into a horror in their head?

I think that I witnessed this yesterday when we were visiting my grandmother at her nursing home.
To start I want to mention that the home is a beautiful place in the Village of Gagetown. It's cozy and overlooks the water.
No matter what time or season I have been there the view and scenery are always great. This is very important as Granny loves watching the world from her window.

During our visit yesterday Cheryl went down the hall while the boys and I stayed in the large TV room with Granny.
A few minutes later Cheryl came back and asked me if I had heard anything about a disaster involving 200,000 people in Ontario. An elderly man had just said something to her about it.
Holy moley. I'm pretty certain that I would have heard about something like this!
Even if I had never turned on the TV or radio I would certainly have heard something through Twitter or Facebook.
I had not heard of any disaster of this magnitude.

A couple of minutes later this gentleman came into the room and told us that 200,000 people were watching a football game and were sucked up into the sky to their deaths.
He then said something about a bus with thousands of people that was destroyed.
Then he said "I'll show you the paper. Hold on." and scurried out of the room.

When he returned he held up the front page of the Daily Gleaner.
He pointed to a photo of Prime Minister Stephen Harper touring the destruction at Slave Lake with the Mayor.
I started to say something about the fire at Slave Lake, Alberta but he interrupted me and pointed to the remains of a building in the photo and said that was where the 200,000 people had been watching the football game when they were killed.

The entire time this fellow was speaking it was in such an urgent and distressed way as if he had witnessed something terrifying.

Then he sat down on the couch beside my son.
He told us that from the morning to the evening yesterday he couldn't bear to watch the TV anymore from the terrible things that he was seeing. Then he covered his face with his hands.

I confess that at there was a moment that I felt some amusement listening to this man since I knew that what he was saying wasn't true.
If it had been real it would certainly have been horrific.

But here's the thing.
To this elderly man, I think that it WAS real.

I think that he had heard about the news items such as what I mentioned above and his brain put them together into an event of death and destruction like no other.

His tone of urgency and sorrow convinced me that he really believed that what he spoke of had actually transpired.
I don't think that anyone could convince him otherwise.

Perhaps he is like that all of the time? Maybe it was the first time that this had happened to him?

I don't know but it did not appear that anyone in the place was concerned about it.

On the way to the van I told Cheryl how sad it was that if the mind creates another reality why does it have to be such an awful one?
Why not something happy and peaceful? That would be so much better, wouldn't it?

As I write this I feel more sadness for this man than I did yesterday.

I'm hoping that when he opened today's paper he found some good news.

Stay well,

Monday, May 2, 2011

Return To Sender

Today is election day across Canada.
Tomorrow morning this country will either have a new Prime Minister or will return Mr. Harper to the office.
Since the last election the Conservatives have been dealing with the fact that even though they have been in power, it has been with a minority rather than a majority government.
Basically, this means enough seats to hold power but not enough to call all of the shots.

Without getting into the whole story here we are going to the polls for the 4th federal election in seven years.

No problem. We can handle that. We just do what we have to do.

I'd like to share a little story of something that I found interesting though.

My wife is working today as a Deputy Returning Officer at one of the local polling stations and she is the only person other than the actual voter who is allowed to touch a ballot.
Initially she had asked to work a poll and was told that a representative from Elections Canada would be in touch with her to sort out the details.

A couple of weeks ago she received a call that she would not be needed to work the polls but would be a backup in case an opening came up.
A few days later she had another call advising that she was needed and was to attend a training session for DRO's and polling clerks.

So far, so good.
She attended the training.
As far as she knew the next thing she would be required to do was to show up on election day at the polling station and get to work.

Last Friday evening a lady from Elections Canada called to speak to Cheryl. She wasn't home so I took a message and she called this lady back.
She was surprised to learn that she was required to go to a building in Knowledge Park in Fredericton to pick up a box. No-one had told her about this before this call.
What would have happened if we had been away for the weekend and missed this call?

We had some running around to do in town and stopped in to pick up this box.
It turns out that the box contained 500 ballots as well as a voters list among other things.
I wasn't able to see exactly what was in there since it was sealed before Cheryl took it out of the building.

She was only to open the box in the company of the station polling clerk while at the polling station this morning.
I assume that is what happened.

What I found interesting is that when Cheryl was picking up her box she said that there was a room packed with people being trained for election day.
Why had they not been trained earlier when Cheryl was?
Did they not realize that they needed training until receiving a call on Friday evening?
When Cheryl contacted her polling clerk to discuss election day the clerk was almost oblivious as to what she was required to do.
It wasn't Cheryl's place to train her polling clerk but she sought out information and passed it on as a favour.

The biggest, most interesting thing about all of this is that when Cheryl went to pick up the box containing the voters list and 500 ballots she was not asked for identification of any kind!
Anyone who was aware that she was a Deputy Returning Officer could have walked into that building saying they were my wife and walked out with a ballot box and 500 ballots.


It's possible that there was an error and the person handing over this stuff to her was actually supposed to see her identification and just forgot.
Or perhaps this person recognized her and didn't bother?

This is only one instance that I just happen to be aware of. I wonder about the rest of the country.

Get out and vote people. It's our right.

Stay well,