Tuesday, May 26, 2020

I have nothing to say

I have nothing to saw. So I will not take 10 paragraphs to say it. As my then three-year-old daughter said when she dialed 911, "Nothing 'citing ever happens 'round here". (Something did, shortly thereafter). It is cold and raining enough to be miserable. My FB news feed and email inbasket is full of Coronavirus and Trump, with a bit of Trudeau, Kenney and Ford thrown in. Occasionally, some Zelensky, Putin, Merkel, Macron and Johnson. Bleah. So I am posting some cartoons I have collected over the years. I'll leave the off colour and political ones to Jackiesue in West, Texas at Yellow Dog Granny. Her sources are superb.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

I never saw a purple dog

Well, actually, I have, sort of. It's a long and violet tail.

Volk was 12 years old in January. He does not know this. He is also a runaway because he hates being in the dog yard especially now that Lucky has figured out his size makes him top dog. So Volk sits by the fence and cries a lot, a mournful not quite howl.

I used to let him run free with Lucky on a leash because he would mostly come home after our walk. Then he stopped and took off to somewhere, coming home when he felt like it. So I put both dogs on leashes and all was well but Volk was even less happy in their yard.

Late one afternoon, last week, he started with the mournful howl and Tanya said enough. She opened the gate and he disappeared. At 4:30 in the morning she opened the door to let the cats out and there was Volk, comatose on the front step. He had a bit of blood behind his left front leg and on cursory examination, what looked like a small round bullet or pellet home. It was not a bullet or he would have been dead and the wound did not seem very deep.

Tanya called the vet at 6:00 am. Our "House-calls" vet was out of town, so she called the lady vet at the clinic. We could get in at noon. She gave Volk some water with a syringe. Next thing he was sitting up. He was comatose because he was tired. We reexamined at the wound and found a couple more. The little SOB had been fighting, AGAIN. It was not much of a fight as he showed no signs of a struggle. He had been attacked and made a run for it.

An hour later he had struggle to his feet and stiffly walked to the gate to go back in the dog yard. He knows the drill, having been through it many times before. But we had a vet appointment.

The vet found a couple more holes, cleaned, disinfected, bandaged him and sent him home. Antibiotic injections for 10 days. We made a bed for him on the front step, rigged a cardboard box for him to sleep in and tied him to a reasonably heavy plastic patio arm chair. The leash was long enough to give him room to move around and we took him for walks every 4 hours, more to keep him happy than that he needed potty breaks that often. Once a day Tanya would disinfect the wounds, spray purple disinfectant (Potassium permanganate) on it and rebandage him.

On Sunday, Tanya went out the front gate and left it open. Volk made a run for it, dragging the chair. the chair caught in the gate, the "knot" came undone and he was gone, leash, bandages and all. We went looking for him but a lady brought him back in about an hour. She lives across the river/marsh from us.

She has a little female dog and two large yard guard males. Volk likes the little female. the two big dogs disapprove. Volk was then firmly tied to the railing. We quit bandaging as it didn't stay on very well anyhow. He lived for walks so yesterday I took him for 3 km. His leg is fine. Last night he was howling again so we threw him back in with Lucky. He can defend himself.

I went out this morning and sprayed him purple again.

That dog has more lives than a cat. He still wants to run away and we have to watch him when we open the door to the dog yard

For those whose education had been neglected, a poet named  wrote:
The Purple Cow
I never saw a purple cow
I never hope to see one
But I can tell you anyhow
I'd rather see than be one.
Years later she added a verse:
Ah, yes, I wrote the purple cow
I'm sorry now I wrote it
But I can tell you anyhow
I'll kill you if you quote it.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Remembering the Farm - Cavell History

There are hundreds of communities that have disappeared over the past few decades because they no longer served a purpose. Good roads, better vehicles, and larger farms dried up the livelihoods of the small towns. I have, as a highschool friend put it, outlived two towns, now abandoned and pretty much disappeared. One I went to elementary school and the other highschool. This is the story of Cavell, my first and real hometown. The story is abstracted from the Leipzig and District history book published in 1980 for Saskatchewan's 75th anniversary. Unfortunately, I was unable to find any pictures of the town. there are aerial photos from 1946 but I could not access them.

Cavell, (initially Coblenz until 1915) was incorporated as a village in 1908 when the Grand Trunk Pacific (later the Canadian National Railway) completed the rail line from Winnipeg to Edmonton. The railway acquired land for the village and built a station and stockyards. At that time, the village had a general store, restaurant, boarding house, two lumber yards machine agencies, hotel, butcher shop, construction company and an Imperial Oil dealer.

The post office, operating from several locations over the years. Joe Hingston was postmaster from 1918 to 1949. My aunt, Winnie (Hingston) Simpson was postmistress from 1956 to 1970 when it closed.

St Margaret’s Anglican church was built in 1909 in which services were held until 1954 and a Pentecostal church in 1926 of which my Grandfather FW Hingston was pastor, followed by my father. Services were held there until 1987. The history book says there were two wedding in the Anglican church. Actually there were three because I was at one of them, aged five. I asked my folks if 16 was the right age to be married and they didn't think so.

Two elevators were built in about 1909 and eventually were owned by Saskatchewan Wheat Pool. They operated until 1975.

A one-room school was opened in 1911. My father completed his Grade 8 there and I attended to the end of Grade 7 in 1960, when the Wilkie School District closed all remaining one room schools and students were bused to Leipzig or Wilkie.

Cavell was intended to be a divisional point on the Railway, but sufficient water could not be found to supply the steam engines, so Wainwright and Biggar were set as the Divisional points. Such is fate.

The population of Cavell increased rapidly to around 200 by 1913 but then fell away just as rapidly to only 20 to 30 people by 1925 as other towns grew and took business away. Cavell never could find sufficient water and it contributed as much as anything to its demise. By 1943, it lost village status and was merely a hamlet in the RM of Reford #379. There may have been 20 people left when I started school in 1953 and perhaps five when the school closed in 1960.

By 1980, there was only one resident left in Cavell. Today everything is gone except the RM maintenance shop, and my grandfather’s house and the old church which my brother owns.

This 1915 map of Cavell indicates that it once was a thriving little community.

Sketched from memories of 65 years ago.
I could not find an aerial photo, or even a photo of any kind. I found Cavell on the National Air Photo Library but there was no preview of the 1946 photo, so I have no idea if there is even a close up. So, I sketched what I remember from 65 years ago. Not to scale and certainly not accurate as I know some things are missed. The stockyards were still there when I started school but were torn down shortly after. The general store was owned by Jake Kaufman and then Jake thomas before becoming home to a retired farmer. Tom Kilbert was an old bachelor who lived next to my grandparents. When he died, his tin covered shack was moved to our farm and turned into a grain bin. Both the Anglican church and the school were relocated before my time. The school is now a museum in Wilkie.

Google Earth from 2003.
Google Earth shows what was left in 2003 when they last updated the area. The RM shop is the only real structure left, along with the old church and my grandfather’s old house across from it both of which my brother owns. My brother is keeping Cavell on the map because so long as there is one owned lot on which taxes are paid, it it legally a place.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Tired of being Angry, Tired of being Sad, Tired of being Tired. Just plain tired!

Even thinking is difficult these days. so I have avoided it. I feel too much like the little boy in the picture, all huddled up inside my brain. My inbox and FB newsfeed are full of too many articles to even read all the headlines. And most make me angry or sad. I am skipping about 75% and that still leaves too many. I haven't started drinking yet and don't intend to other than hard cider after my walk.

Heather Cox Rischardson's Letters from an American (https://heathercoxrichardson.substack.com/) is a good summary of each days news. Saves me reading a lot of articles. She writes it every night before she goes to bed, sometimes at 3 am. She is an American political history prof. 

I also follow the statistics, knowing that from some countries they are not very accurate. funny how authoritarian governments are like that. These are the links I use:
https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/#countries . Data is in table format, with charts for total cases and total deaths in either linear or log format. Countries are listed and linked for details. USA also provides details for states.
http://91-divoc.com/pages/covid-visualization/ charts data by country and also America by states, in linear or log. It also charts both countries and states by population. Very useful for visual comparisons.

America took 25 days to go from 100 cases to 100,000 and then 32 days to go from 100,000 to 1,000,000. It took 31 days to go from 100 deaths to 10,000 and 25 more days to reach 60,000.
Canada took 26 days to go from 10 cases to 1000 cases but only 12 days to go from 1000 to 10,000 and 27 days to go from there to 50,000. It took 27 days to go from 10 deaths to 1,000 deaths and a further 13 days to reach 2850 deaths. Ukraine took 18 days to go from 10 cases to 1000 cases and will reach 10,000 cases by the end of this month or 27 days.. It took 17 days to go from 10 deaths to 100 deaths and 14 more days to reach 250 deaths.

The problem is that confirmed cases are a  function of testing per population which varies from country to country and state to state. Deaths are also a function of testing and do not necessarily include people who died at home or even in hospital untested. Comparisons of reported deaths from all causes compared to expected deaths as per long term data, revealed more than double expected deaths in BRitain of which less than half were counted as Covid-19 deaths. Depending on how they are calculated, death rates are all over the map.

Countries are gradually opening up and whether we get second waves or not will be interesting to see. Reasons for opening up and who is going back to work is rather fascinating if one has a morbid sense of humour. States that are opening up are making sure that white collars who can work from home continue to do so while the low paying jobs must go back to work so that they stay off unemployment insurance. The disease is a Republican's wet dream as it kills poor and blacks at a 2:1 ratio with elderly and preexisting conditions making up the majority of deaths. Workers in health are just collateral damage.

The one bright spot in my day is walking the dogs on the backroads. Lucky is 8 months old, 75 lbs and has far too much energy. I keep him on a leash. Volk is an old hand at this and as long as there are no chickens or cats, heads us up and we follow. Lucky loves Volk and tries to copy him which wears me out. Drag me, stop and sniff, drag him then he drags me, stop and sniff. Repeat constantly.

I have a number of walk routes that go 3, 4 or 5 km and have added to make it 6 km the past two days. I kind of power out about half way but it is atleast a challenge. Now to work up to 7 and 8 km. I hit the edge of town but do not go into it. There are a few pedestrians and cyclists but a German Shepherd on a 10' leash is a good distancing tool. He is friendly but people don't take chances. Yard dogs are annoying as they bark constantly when we walk by. Everyone has a 6' to 10' fence and a dog. Sometimes the dog is small and yappy, others have big guard dogs that spend their life on chains. I hate that. There are a few feral dogs but they don't bother us.

Volk hates our neighbours dog, going back years. Ronald is a big dog, on a chain by the fence. Volk runs up to the fence and barks and snarls at him. Last night Ronald was out on the street. Volk took one look at him and ran into our yard. I laughed.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Paskha (Easter) Traditions and other things

Sunday is Paskha, Orthodox Easter. There are certain traditions that go with it. Like Family Gatherings which will not be the case this year, but other traditions still carry on.

Thursday is cleaning day. Clean house, clean body, clean heart. Since we could not hire our usual cleaning lady, I did the vacuuming and some dusting. Tanya damp mopped and more dusting.

Friday is baking day. Tanya swore she would not paint eggs this year nor make Paskha bread. She did both. Fifteen eggs (?) and 3 large, 4 small Easter bread. We also made 4 loaves of banana bread and two pans of Mexican corn bread. She sent baskets of stuff to Andrey's family and to Lina.

Today Tanya is back gardening, mostly watering as we are so dry. The winds which stop only at night suck the moisture out of the soil and fill the air with dust. Strong winds also reignited the fires in the Chernobyl area two days ago and they are burning out of control again. The pollution in Kyiv makes it impossible to go outdoors or open windows.

The fires were deliberately started, possibly with malicious intent. That aspect is being investigated by the FSU (Ukraine's CIA). There are other malicious activities ongoing as well.

The Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate (UOCMP) has been an unofficial arm of the Kremlin's war on Ukraine. The Pecherska Lavra, a UNESCO site, is controlled by the UOCMP. It is a hot spot of coronavirus, with many monks and staff testing positive and two deaths reported. While the Autonomous Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) has been fully cooperative with the Ukrainian government's stay at home orders, the UOCMP has not. Even though in Russia the ROC is encouraging people not to attend services, in Ukraine the UOCMP is deliberately undermining the government's attempts to halt the spread. There was a large gathering at the Pecherska Lavra last Sunday and another is expected this Sunday. This is simply to impede the control of the virus in Ukraine and inflict disease and death.

We will have a feast tomorrow, even if there is only the two of us. Tanya has the menu planned. I am going to attempt scalloped potatoes with ham, just to add a bit of Canadian to it.

Zhovti Vody is shut down from noon today, no stores, no taxis, nothing. People are being urged not to attend Easter services, to avoid congregating anywhere. Next week end is Memorial weekend when people traditionally visit the graves of loved ones, some even traveling long distances. One hopes that the visits will not all occur on Sunday but be spread out over several days.

Now I need to walk the dogs. My excuse to leave the yard and wander the back roads. A 75 lb German Shepherd pup on a 10' leash is a useful distancing tool incase I meet pedestrians.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Remembering the Farm - This Old House

The house in which my father was born and in which our family lived until the late 1960's was built in about 1910. My Grandfather purchased the farm which included the relatively new house in 1914, the year he and Grandma got married. It was a basic two-storey 14x28 box with a lean-to kitchen and store room on the north side and lean-to front porch on the west and a dug out root cellar.

Downstairs was an L-shaped living-dining area and parlour, with stairs going up and under them, down to the root cellar. Upstairs had two bedrooms, a large one on the west and a small one on the SE corner, along with a hallway and a closet with a toilet and honey bucket, vented to the chimney. A stove pipe from the space heater in the living room came up through the floor and provided heat to the west bedroom where we kids slept. The parent's bedroom was unheated and on a cold night with a SE wind was also unliveable.

My father also slept in the west room as a boy. Bedbugs were a major problem in every house in those days and his bed and bedding had been taken outside to fumigate one spring while he slept on the floor. While he slept one night, a ball of lightning came in through the roof and went out the west window, shattering both and leaving his bedding full of scorched splinters. If he had been in his bed, it would have killed him. Fortunately it did not start the house on fire.

Initially the house was heated by a coal and wood space heater in the living room and a coal and wood cookstove in the kitchen. Eventually both were replaced by fuel oil burners. The house never had water or sewer installed. We got electricity in the spring of 1953, the year I started school.

The house was 2x4 frame construction, sided in shiplap and had no insulation. The last years we lived there, you could see daylight through a crack in the wall under my brother's bed.

In the early 60's my mom's father bought and paid for the moving and much of the renovation of an old house in good condition so his daughter would have someplace decent to live. Renovations were completed for a move-in in the late 60's, where my parents and younger siblings lived. My brother is living there now.

Dad tore down the lean-tos and the chimney finally toppled but the main box is still there, though the stairs have collapsed. Instead of burning the place, my brother is determined to save it for some reason and has reshingled half the roof.

When the house was new. It never saw another coat of paint.

My grandmother standing by the front yard c early 1940s

My grandparents standing by the front gate c late 1930s

My father standing in front of the old house c 1990s

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

RIP John Prine 1946-2020

Turned on the computer only to read that we lost John Prine to Covid-19. Here are a few of my favourites in his memory. It is a sad world out there.