Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Photo Poser 4

Thames River carp, bass or trout?

Would you fish for it?

Would you eat it?

[Photo by G.Harrison]


Please click here to view Photo Poser 3


Photo Poser 3

Do you recognize this model?

Where is it from?

Where is it going?

[Photo by G.Harrison]


Please click here for Photo Poser 2


Photo Files: Those creative Quebeckers

Grandson Jack is going to Quebec City soon as part of a Grade 8 class trip. (My sons also went to Quebec on a class trip. Did your own? When I was a kid we went to a dairy show in Toronto at the Royal Winter Gardens. I saw enough cow behinds to last me a long time).

My first visit to Quebec City, about a dozen years ago, was very memorable: My wife and youngest son and I stayed at a hostel inside the Old City; I ran a half-marathon into a wind so strong it peeled the skin off my nose; After the race my son introduced me to one of the finest beers in all the land, i.e., Fin du Monde. Have you tried it?; My son and I had our pictures taken in front of a vivid scene.

When I return to Quebec City in the future I will try to find that same scene... painted upon the flat brick walls of tall buildings. The only thing that will look a dozen years older will be me!

Fin du Monde anyone? Anyone?

[Photo by P.Harrison]


Please click here for more Photo Files


60 Plus: I’m making a dent

I don’t mind being over 60 years old. I have all I need. Money enough to buy oatmeal and all the additives I like in my porridge.

And yesterday, for the first time in years, I touched my toes while doing my four-minute stretching routine. At least I made a dent in the toe of my running shoe, and in my book, that counts!

Also, I’ve been walking regularly for 8 weeks or so, 60 to 90 minutes at a time, and on Monday I jogged for 50 meters in Harris Park and my legs felt great.

The stretching and walking habits are paying dividends, the hill repeats are adding to my muscle mass (I love throwing in words like that!) and I could likely run a five km. road race in the fall without falling over.

Now, if I could only find my keys to the shed. The grass needs a trim.

[Photo by G.Harrison]


Please click here for more 60 Plus


Ollie and Me: The iPad and the 'myPorridge'

Ollie is a Harrison all right.

While Ollie played Inspector Gadget on his iPad this morning, I tempted him to try my morning’s batch of porridge. I played it up well.

“It contains oatmeal, cranberries, raisins, walnuts, almond and sunflowers seeds... and several drops of pickle juice, because I know how much you love pickles. Want to try some?” I said.

He nodded, so I stuck the first spoonful from my bowl into his mouth while he gadgetted. Soon thereafter, with Ollie’s full approval, lovely Grandma was heating him up a bowlful from the pot in the kitchen.

Harrison’s ribs stick together.

[Fresh photo by G.Harrison]


Please click here for more Ollie and Me


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Photo Files: Main Street, Norwich

Main Street, Norwich, as per the photo, was once a plain old dirt road.

Next, it was brick-covered and in the 1950s and ‘60s, as it recall, it was the prettiest street in town, except when horses from local farms deposited warm buns near the curb.

Finally, in the early 1960s, it was tarmacked, and while the tar was still warm, young hoodlums littered its fresh surface with beans and corn. Read more about the terrible misadventure here.


Please click here for more Photo Files


It Strikes Me Funny: My favourite ‘five and dime’

I write a weekly column and am happy to do a bit of research when needed, as was the case for next week’s offering re my favourite ‘five and dime’, i.e., Irvine’s, once the reigning champ of stores in Norwich, Ontario.

I found the following story about Irvine's from the archives of the online Norwich Gazette, a small town newspaper that published scores of my parents’ columns over the years.

Preamble: How the tarmac became marred

Norwich Gazette, Wednesday, November 24, 2010

My brother Timothy (Timmy in his Norwich days) talked me into working on this story. He said he was going to send it to the Norwich and District Historical Society for the 200th anniversary. After being skeptical, I worked on it myself aimed at my family members. I realize the active anniversary celebrations were during the summer, but I submit this to you as one of my fond memories of Norwich. I actually lived in Norwich from mid-way Grade 1 to early Grade 7, but I simplified. My father was the minister at First Baptist Church, leaving in 1963.

How the tarmac became marred

I've lived in 11 Canadian municipalities from the largest city to small villages. From Grade 1 to 6 I lived in Norwich, Ontario, then a village of 1,700. Although I haven't been back for decades, my memories from Norwich capture my imagination more than almost anywhere else I've lived. This summer Norwich celebrated the 200th anniversary of its founding. When I was eight years old, I inadvertently left my mark on the village's gift to itself on its 150th birthday.

One hot summer morning I received my allowance, 10 cents if I recall correctly. Allowances were paid on Saturday. The best place to blow 10 cents in Norwich in 1960 was Irvine's Five and Dime and that was my destination. I arrived soon after it opened at 9 a.m.

["Irvine's Five and Dime was mid-way down the right side of the first block of Main Street, Norwich"]

The attraction at Irvine's was a series of tables with the tops broken by wooden slats marking off subdivisions of perhaps 12x18 inches. A pile of crayons filled one subdivision, some marbles filled another, then plastic cowboys, toy soldiers, etc. Lying in one rectangle were pea shooters, basically a heavy duty plastic straw in an era when all drinking straws were still made of paper. The "peas" for sale were really some sort of white bean. I made an inspired choice and emerged onto Norwich's main street armed with shooter and peas.

It was already a hot day and perhaps made hotter by the sun being absorbed by the pristine stretch of fresh black pavement the village had laid over the quaint bricks that had covered the main street until the day before. The pavement hadn't had time to fully harden and summer temperatures had delayed that process.

Heat and pavement played no part in my consciousness. I looked for a victim and beaned the first kid I saw. That sparked an immediate arms race on pea shooters. By late morning the village's supply of pea shooters had been exhausted. One boy offered me a quarter for mine, but I wasn't bright enough to accept it. I should have because by then the beans at Irvine's had been bought out and spit out.

Kids crossed the main street to buy feed corn from the feed store opposite Irvine's. The corn may have had some sort of vitamin supplement on it because it tasted horrible. My technique was to store the ammo in my cheeks. It made for a soggier shot, but a more satisfactory hit, from the shooter's point of view. You got familiar with the taste of the ammo before it was expectorated.

As the sun got higher, the not yet cured asphalt got softer. Adults started to notice that beans and corn were being trampled into the expanse of virgin black asphalt, a permanent blemish on Norwich's sesquicentennial advance into modernity. The village fathers banned all pea shooters and stores were forbidden to sell peas, beans or kernel corn to any little boy who asked.

My family members have teased me about this incident all my life. After 50 years, this is my best recollection. I wonder if my contemporaries who corroborated in this tarmac desecration even remember it at all, boys with classic names such as Billy, Doug, Randy, Kim, Brian, Monty and Mac.

Daniel (then Danny) Johns, Edmonton, Alberta

["Danny and Kim, and Timmy and Gord attended classes together at Norwich Public School in the 1950s and '60s"]

Click here to visit Norwich Gazette


Timmy Johns was my best bud in Grade 8. I recall that Danny had a good sense of humour and my brother Kim got along with him well.

Brother Kim assures me that the ‘boys with classic names’ are the following: Billy Hopkins, Doug McLees, Randy Bishop, me (i.e., Kim), Brian Arn, Monty Fish, and Mac Cunningham.

Please click here for more It Strikes me Funny


Monday, April 16, 2012

Photo Poser 2

Do you want to buy waterfront property?

Will new waterfront property near the Thames River come on market within 10 years?

What are you willing to pay to live at the historic Forks of the Thames?

Would you fish from your balcony?

[Photo by GHarrison]


Please click here to view Photo Poser 1


Photo Poser 1

Are London’s water cannons low on water already? (It's only April!)

Will the water level in the Thames River decrease during the summer?

Is London’s fresh water supply a matter of concern in 2012?

[Photo by GHarrison]


Please click here for Photo Files.


Thursday, April 12, 2012

Theatre of the Restless Mind PT 1: “Dad, do you remember a cold day in Hornepayne?”

The train whistle shrieked louder than the cold wind racing past its windows. Doug Harrison, a 23-year old Canadian Seaman took note of the sound - it came to him as a muffled moan - as he sat upon a bench seat inside a crowded passenger car, six back from the steaming engine, but he didn’t immediately realize what it meant.

Doug looked up from the well-thumbed Toronto newspaper one of his five buddies had purchased for a nickel the day before (“That’s a pretty steep price to pay,” he surely said at the time, in early 1944). He gazed out the train window and noticed the trees, having rushed past for the last 100 miles or more, were now thinning.

“Boys, we might see a new face in a few minutes,” he said to Leading Seamen Chuck Rose and Buryl McIntyre, two tall gents who were sitting on the bench opposite him, one on each side of his resting feet. “I heard the whistle blow and the train seems to be slowing. I tell you, I could sure use a stretch.”

The train slowed more perceptibly, another sharp whistle blast was sounded, some passengers stirred and an old-timer, familiar with the isolated stops in Northern Ontario and the spare amenities offered at each, said a few words to the restless sailors.

“We’re coming into Hornepayne. Not much more than piles of raw lumber to look at, but there’s hot coffee inside the station.”

[Original photo by Doug Harrison; this copy by G.Harrison]

Doug and the other sailors stood, straightened, shook out a few wrinkles, donned their standard-issue navy blue long coats and stepped out of the train car.


I’m glad my dad carried a camera on his way west from Ontario to Vancouver Island, while he travelled toward a naval base situated in Comox, a small town on the north eastern side of the island, and 90-minutes north (today, by car) of Nanaimo’s ferry landing. By examining one of a handful of photographs from that time in his life, I recently learned the once-thriving town of Hornepayne exists somewhere along the way.

I sussed out from the ‘black and white’ that Hornepayne lies 572.4 miles west of Toronto, 722.4 west of Montreal and 635.4 east of Winnipeg. And that when six young men in navy blue stepped off the train there (with Doug behind the camera) in January, 1944, it was cold enough to turn one’s breath into clouds of frost.

[Above photo, and of engine, from]

In a road atlas I discovered that the town sits on highway 631, about 100 kilometers north of White River (200 km. north of Wawa) and Trans-Canada Highway 17, and about 70 km. south of the intersection - likely a very quiet one - of 631 and Trans-Canada 11.

Hornepayne also sits on the CN rail line that connects Toronto, Sudbury and Winnipeg and many tiny spots that the vast majority of Canadians will likely never see or hear about, even once, over the course of a lifetime.

For example, do Capreol, Wilnet, Westree, Gogama, Kukatush, Foleyet, Elsas, Peterbell, Argolis, Fire River, Oba or MacDuff ring a bell? Not very likely, unless you regularly travel on the CN line between Sudbury and Hornepayne and keep your eyes peeled for signs erected at all the little whistle stops along the way. It may have been while on that stretch of rail that someone first said, “Be careful, pal. If you blink you’ll miss it.”

At I read that Hornepayne is the ‘quintessential railway town’. It is ‘hewn out of the wilderness of northern Ontario... symbolic of the railway’s determination to develop that region, and of the character of its inhabitants’. The town was called Fitzbach when first established in 1913 ‘as a divisional point on the Canadian Northern Ontario Railway’s main line between Montréal and Port Arthur. It was renamed Hornepayne about 1920’.

I also learned that the highway that runs through it today (i.e., number 631) was not completed until the 1980s, so it was about 40 years after my father stopped there that ‘the community’s dependence on the railway was ended’. In other words, if I’d lived there in the 1960s and wanted new blue jeans, in all likelihood I would have had to thumb through an Eaton’s catalogue, measure the length of my inseam with the help of a cloth tape from my mother’s sewing basket, mail off an order and then go wait (impatiently, very impatiently) at the train station for six weeks or more. That being said, to this day the railway serves as a vital link to the northern community.

What would six young sailors, chiefly from south western Ontario, have thought of Hornepayne? Would they have felt like they were in the middle of nowhere, or said, “We’re so far out of town we can’t even see the boonies from here?” I don’t know. Never will.

[Photo by Don Westbrook; Doug Harrison stands second left; this copy by G.Harrison]

I do know the old CN train station still stands and, according to Wikipedia, ‘is no longer in use and fallen into disrepair’.

I also know, when I drive west to Comox this summer, I’ll likely feel a strong urge to turn north at White River, and drive about 100 km. out of my way in search of hot coffee and a quiet place to stretch my legs.


This story was written at a time when I was planning to motorcycle to BC. I am now going to travel by train and should be home before the snow flies!

Please click here for more about Dad’s Navy days


Zoom w a View: At the Fork of the Thames

Before I leave the house for a walk along the Thames River, London, I drop a camera into my back pocket. Its cord hangs out from under my sweater or jacket, so it’s easy to reach.

Walk, walk for exercise.

Snap, snap for fun or pleasure... or just to catch my breath.

Do you go for regular walks with a camera?

[Photos by GHarrison]


Please click here for more Zoom w a View.


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

It Strikes Me Funny: Strong, captivating legs

I’m developing the habit of walking several times per week and am already enjoying several benefits along the way.

For example, because I usually double up on hills (i.e., if I encounter a steep one, I’ll walk up or down it twice), my legs feel stronger while playing my weekly hockey game.

As well, my posture appears to be better. I’m standing up straighter and, as I walk, I’m not looking at the lines in the sidewalk as often.

Keeping my head up is paying off as well. I’ve noticed more bird activity, whether on branches, in the sky overhead, or in flight toward the ground. Robins are everywhere. London’s worm population is now in steady decline.

I’ve also noticed interesting odds and ends in front yards and windows... not that I’m snooping.

Yesterday, in a house window on Marley Place, I spotted a leg - strong and captivating - that is in better shape than either of mine. Perhaps it belongs to a dancer. For certain, it reminds me of a prop from one of my favourite movies.

Can you guess which movie? My sons will know. For several reasons, to be explained later, they feel it is a movie about their own childhood.

[Photos by GHarrison]


Please click here for more It Strikes Me Funny.


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Vancouver Island or Bust PT 5: Maritime Museum of British Columbia

[“I have a full itinerary and need to make every hour count... in a relaxed fashion, of course. I cannot rush about after four days of eating lamb chops and delectable desserts and drinking fine wines.” April 7, Vancouver Island or Bust PT 4]

I have some questions for you, including a tricky one re the purchase of hardware in Victoria, B.C. But first, more about me... and my upcoming trip to Vancouver Island.

For certain I’ll keep myself busy, at a relaxed pace, while in Victoria, B.C. I’ll rent a bicycle, tour the Esquimalt Naval Base and Museum, and take at least a gazillion photos of artifacts and the nearby harbour without breaking a sweat.

I’ll also somehow find time to tour the second floor of the Maritime Museum of British Columbia, on which are displays relating to the British Royal Navy and more importantly, in my mind at least, the Royal Canadian Navy. Luckily, the Maritime Museum is mere steps from where I am staying in Victoria, no more than a block and a half away from the front door of my home away from home.

[Maritime Museum of BC, in Victoria: photo link]

As well, if time allows, I’ll take a bicycle tour recommended by a local reader of my weekly column. D. Clarke’s interesting description follows:

“Take a drive along Dallas Road and Marine Drive. Admire the views across the Strait at Clover Point. If it's a bit windy you'll see some interesting kites being flown. Oh yes, there really is a lovely view across the Strait. While there, drive a short distance to the Oak Bay Cemetery and see if you can find the grave of Emily Carr. Stop for supplies at the Fairway Shopping Centre (across from the cemetery) and be sure to drop into the Hardware store beside the market.”

(Q: Are nails on sale for a penny farthing? Mr. Clarke doesn’t explain why I should go to the hardware store. Any ideas?)

“Continue along the waterfront to see some spectacular homes built into the side of the mountain. There's a fantastic view from atop Walbran Park, if you can find your way up to the cairn to read its very interesting message.”

(Q: What’s the message? “Don’t look down.” (?) Too late.)

“Be sure to stop at the Oak Bay Marina (killer whale statue in front), and enjoy a coffee inside the glassed-in cafe or outside on the patio with sounds and sights of the dozens of sailboats at anchor. If you have time, visit the village of Oak Bay near the Marina. (The "Blethering Place" serves very good fare at reasonable prices). Return to Beach Drive and carry on to Cattle Point for another view, and be sure to read the politically incorrect signage at both he Marina and at Cattle Point, so named because...(a plaque will explain why it is so named).

[The Blethering Place; photo link]

(Q: How much will I pay for a cold IPA at The Blethering Place? You know this bletherer has to drop in, don’t you?)

“What I have mentioned, with the exception of the museum visits, will take but a couple of hours.”

(Q: Does that sound about right, minus the time to sip one IPA?)

I think time spent in Victoria will be very rewarding indeed.


Please click here to read Vancouver Island or Bust PT 4: “Cheeseburger en sauce abricot”


Monday, April 9, 2012

Birdhouse London: People will eat up the bat house

Over the last few years I have been asked one particular question more than many others when I’m selling birdhouse, e.g., at a yard sale or bazaar. I.e., do I make bat houses?

Until last summer my answer was usually, “I’ve looked at designs, but I haven’t made any yet."

Now I can say I make them regularly. Once I picked a style I liked and completed the wood list, the rest was ‘easy kap-easy’, as I like to say.

Barn board will stand up well in all kinds of weather and look more suited to its outdoor surroundings once the shine has worn off the lumber. And information about where to place them is available online in several locations.

For example:

Canadian Bathouses

Bat Management

If you notice a drop in the mosquito population in your neck of the woods, perhaps it’s because a neighbour has a bat house in a favourable spot. Bats love mosquitoes!

[Photo of bathouse by GHarrison]


Please click here for more Birdhouse London


Fun and Fitness: My heart will thank me

Maybe it’s in my genes. I have a built-in desire to exercise a few times per week so that I ‘don’t fall apart’.

Plus, I don’t want to be the slowest guy on my hockey team, so maybe it’s more than genes. Maybe I’m chiefly motivated by vanity.

["105 points per week. Easy kap-easy": photo GH]

Whatever the case, I haven’t had trouble collecting 105 points or more per week for the last several weeks, by exercising almost everyday, whether it be walking, riding or playing hockey. In fact, I will raise my weekly goal to 110 points/wk. for the summer because my walks have easily become longer - due to warmer weather - and bonus points are piling up.

(Have you dusted off your running shoes or bike yet?)

110 points. Easy kap-easy? We’ll see. One thing for sure, my heart will thank me later.

Will I see you on London’s pathways?


Does anyone else use a point system to track weekly exercise?

Please click here for more Fun and Fitness


Saturday, April 7, 2012

Vancouver Island or Bust PT 4: “Cheeseburger en sauce abricot”

[“My itinerary is full, and not overflowing, and I feel it’s a wise move on my part to keep things that way. After all, I want to be in a relaxed mood while drinking in fresh scenery, flavours and experiences. I want to walk, not run, upon new pathways I encounter.” April 5, Vancouver Island or Bust PT 3, April 5]

I leave for Vancouver Island in two weeks from today. Excitement runs high. Items from my itinerary are racing through my mind.

After four days of very civilized train travel (I already know that every meal, e.g., my first supper, d'épaisseur côtelettes d'agneau en sauce abricot (i.e., thick lamb chops in apricot sauce, to the uninitiated), will be served on expensive, imported fine china. Very civilized, I say!) I will arrive in the city of Vancouver, British Columbia and quickly embark upon the short journey, by bus and ferry, to Vancouver island and the city of Victoria.

I say ‘quickly embark’ because I have a full itinerary and need to make every hour count... in a relaxed fashion, of course. I cannot rush about after four days of eating lamb chops and delectable desserts and drinking costly fine wines.

Once in Victoria on Wednesday, April 25 I’ll need to journey downtown to my hostel, then settle in, then rent a bicycle, then explore the harbour by bike path and take the first of several hundred photographs of new sights. Later I’ll have supper (enough with d'épaisseur côtelettes d'agneau; I’ll be looking for a cheeseburger and a cold IPA) at a ‘mom and pop’ diner, then turn in early so I’ll feel as fresh as a daisy for my next day’s ride to the Esquimalt Naval Museum to meet the curator and study, up close and very personal, a very important navy artifact. (Please read Vancouver Island or Bust PT 3 for more details).

[“Aerial photo of Esquimalt Naval base”: Courtesy photo link]

On Thursday afternoon, likely after a full Esquimalt Naval base tour and before I settle in at Spinnakers Brew Pub for a fine meal and serious note taking, I’ll pedal on down to a car rental agency to reserve a car for 11 a.m., the next day, i.e., Friday, April 27, the day I leave Victoria to go to Courtenay, a town two hours up the eastern coast of the island.

I’m sure it will be a spectacular drive but I’ll stay focussed on my 2 p.m. appointment at the Courtenay Museum. There will be a couple of very important people waiting for me there.

More to follow.

[Photo at top of page by GHarrison]


Please click here to read Vancouver Island or Bust PT 3: “My itinerary is full the way I like it.”


60 Plus: “I still can’t touch my darn toes”

I sit down at the computer everyday and if I would simply stretch for three minutes before doing so, I bet I would be able to touch my toes within two weeks. But I forget to stretch. And I still can’t touch my toes after admitting such a couple of weeks ago.

["I'm getting closer": Photos by GH]

Perhaps if I placed a sticky note on the bathroom mirror I’d remember to stretch. Chances are, however, I’d forget about the note while making my first pot of coffee of the day.

Perhaps if I placed the sticky note on the coffee pot I’d remember to stretch. Chances are, however, I’d forget about it while heating up some of the oatmeal I keep in the fridge. And a note on the fridge would get lost among the other notes, photos and calendars on the door.

Perhaps if I placed a note on my computer screen I’d remember to stretch. I.e., a little one down in the right corner near the ‘Trash Can’ icon.

I think I’m onto something. At 60 plus, I still get good ideas. They just take a while to formulate.


Is formulate the right word here?

Please click here for more 60 Plus.


Photo Files: “Rivetting nose job”

Many Londoners will know that a local artist recently had to repair damage to his sculpture of a rhino in front of our local art museum. The rhino’s horn had to be reattached.

What many Londoners likely do not know is that the job was rivetting, as were the results.

[Rivetting photos by GHarrison]


Please click here for more Photo Files


Zoom w a View: Grandson Ollie’s first photos

After taking a photo of my grandson and showing it to him, he wanted the camera.

[“It’s Ollie”: by GHarrison]

Below are Ollie’s first posted photographs, with meaningful titles:

“It’s the cat”

“It’s my finger”

“It’s my plate”

“It’s the cat again”

Give a child a camera and see what happens.


Please click here for more about Ollie and Me


Thursday, April 5, 2012

Photo Files: Metal works




It works for me.

[Photos by GHarrison]


Please click here for more Photo Files.


Photo Files: Early twilight, late magnolias

As you can see, I’m not a pro with a camera. But I happened to have one in my back pocket last Sunday evening.

In my opinion, the shadows that appear on the branches make it seem a gray blanket rests behind the magnolias, and not the night sky.


Please click here for more Zoom w a View


Vancouver Island or Bust PT 3: “My itinerary is full the way I like it.”

[For example, The Canadian (train) cuts the duration of the trip in half, thereby forcing my wife to cancel several house parties and celebrations in honour of my absence. Vancouver Island or Bust PT 2, March 29]

I leave for Vancouver Island in 16 days, on Saturday, April 21. Train tickets, hostels, money for souvenirs - check, check, check. All preparations, except for the packing, are complete.

My itinerary is full, and not overflowing, and I feel it’s a wise move on my part to keep things that way. After all, I want to be in a relaxed mood while drinking in fresh scenery, flavours and experiences. I want to walk, not run, upon new pathways I encounter.

Already I know I will enjoy my first breakfast upon the train, on Sunday, April 22. Freshly squeezed orange juice in a crystal glass, a lovingly prepared ham, cheese and asparagus omelette upon fine china and linen, coffee and refill from carefully selected and roasted beans flown in from Nepal... or west-end Montreal... fantastic.

I know too I will settle in easily at the downtown Victoria hostel the following Wednesday and enjoy my first bike ride along the harbour front pathway. Hundreds of breath-taking and unique photos within the first hour, are almost guaranteed.

["I love the water!": photo of L. Superior by GHarrison, 2007]

The next day, I will enjoy pedalling to the Esquimalt Naval Museum to see WWII Canadian Navy artifacts and I’ll do cartwheels as the curator escorts me to a side room where a hammock from the SS Silver Walnut will be on display, upon my request.

About the hammock: It's from my dad’s ship, and 1943. Though it belonged to Stoker W. N. Katanna, it bears my father’s name along with those of the 16 other crew members that journeyed aboard the Walnut from Liverpool and Wallasey, around the tip of South Africa and on to the Suez Canal, Port Said, then Sicily. I’ll take 100 photos. I’ll offer to buy it. The curator will shake her head. I’ll double my offer. I’ll laugh and cry. I’ll really want to take it home with me.

[Photo courtesy of Esquimalt Naval Museum]

Already I know I’ll pedal back to Victoria empty-handed but not empty-hearted, and on the way I’ll stop at Spinnakers Brew Pub at 308 Catherine St. to have a cold pint of west-coast India Pale Ale and write a note home.

“The beagle has landed...” it will begin. “Every old dog has his days, and today will go down as one of mine.”

Oh, there will be other highlights too, a full itinerary of them.

More to follow.


Please click here to read Vancouver Island or Bust PT 2: “Yes, I can afford Paris. You can’t?”


Zoom w a View: Unobstructed views

Until leaves fully grow and unfold, the views from certain vantage points beside the Thames River in London will be unobstructed.

The views make my morning walk a lot more interesting.

[Photos by GHarrison]


Please click here for more Zoom w a View.


Walking 8: Discovering London in one pair of pants

Miles are adding up. Three here, four there, three or four times per week. No doubt, I will one day possess some of the finest quads in London.

Lately I have left the house for my 'fun and fitness walks' wearing three layers of clothing ‘up top’, i.e., t-shirt, sweat-shirt, light jacket. After 20 minutes and two trips up and down a steep hill in Thames Park, however, I've unzipped the jacket and sweater under my neck and allow heat from the furnace to escape. It’s amazing how much heat a person produces when exercising.

Recently I added a detour around a local brewery to my regular route in order to stay outside longer and see a different view of London. The ‘Blue Loop’ includes another nice hill so my quads and onboard furnace get a good workout, and because leaves upon hundreds of trees are just beginning to emerge, graffiti and river views are unobscured.

[Please not: I said “around a local brewery” and not “into”]

A ‘cycle’ tag in Harris Park reminds me to keep looking for a good bike to haul my new bike trailer. Biking and camping season will soon be fully upon us and I plan to pedal to, and camp in, some pretty exotic places soon - once I dust off my old Coleman stove.

Paris, Zurich, Vienna, Brussels, Stratford-on-Avon... even Avon. All on my list. All in Ontario.

But first, I have many miles to walk.

[Photos by GHarrison]


Please click here for Walking 7: Discovering London in one pair of pants.


Sunday, April 1, 2012

It Strikes Me Funny: Penny wise, nickel foolish?

Like many Canadians, I follow a certain procedure when dealing with pennies I find in my pockets. It’s a long-standing tradition, 50 - 60 years old in my case, and it started after the price of penny candy jumped to two pennies and - after hearing a loud rip in my heart - I stopped buying them.

Here’s what I do. I place the copper coins into a wooden dish on my dresser at the end of a hard day’s work and throw a few back into my pocket at the beginning of the next day’s work in order to make change, so to speak.

When I end up with more in the bowl than I feel I need during a hectic day ‘back at the plant’, as I like to say, I put several into a plastic coin counter on a shelf near my dresser. And later, when the coin counter contains the grand total of fifty pennies, I say ‘huzzah’, reach for a penny wrapper behind the aforementioned coin counter, and within seconds I have a full roll of pennies ready to put inside a small box in my closet that contains several other rolls of pennies destined to go to the bank whenever I can find the time.

Sometimes I don’t turn in my rolls to the bank until the box is full. Other times I ‘turn them in early’, as I like to say, and as many of my friends and family members do.

Really, it’s surprising how often we bump into each other at the bank, pockets drooping down to our knees, filled with actual buckets full of pennies. If one of us ever made a video for U Tube it would get a million hits in the first hour. Every Canadian would identify with it.

I mean, how many times has the whole ‘bucket of pennies thingee’ happened to you? Many times, I’m sure. And if you’re not reading this, you’re likely waiting in line at a local bank right now, turning your pennies into a crisp and very useful ten-dollar bill.

Thank goodness then, that our Finance Minister has made plans to stop issuing the coin. Though well practiced when it comes to handling pennies, surely all Canadians from Penny’s Point, Newfoundland to Copper’s Cove, Vancouver Island will breath a deep sigh of relief, not only because of the nuisance factor (“That’s the last time I’ll be caught with my good pants dragging down around my knees because of eight rolls of pennies goin’ to the bank at one time,” will be heard in every province, eh), or because you can’t buy a darn thing with a penny (“When’s the last time you ever could get blackballs two or three for one blessed cent, or those lovely red jelly raspberries?” all the boys in Crooked Knee, Ontario will ask), but because all Canadians will feel the positive effects of saving upwards of $11 million a year in production costs.

Think of it. $11 million, or 33 pennies for every Tom, Dick or Sherry. Why, that’s huge savings, isn’t it?

Unless we run into problems with the nickel.

I mean, how much does it cost to make a nickel anyway? In all this talk about scrapping the penny did anyone bother to look at that?

What happens if we need more of them to make change with the penny gone? How much will it cost to ship more nickels across this very wide country of ours, from Penny’s Point to Copper’s Cove?

What if Finance Minister Jim Flaherty simply traded one small expense for an even greater one - just for the sake of ‘show’, just to make it look like he was actually doing something?

Worse yet. What if ten rolls of nickels is heavier than ten rolls of pennies when I go to cash them in at the bank? My good pants will be dragging right down to my ankles!

Yes sir. We could find ourselves in quite a mess.

[Photo by GHarrison]


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Zoom w a View: Wild carrot seeds, I think

The remains of hundreds of wild carrot stalks and flowers (I think) line the side of the west walkway through Harris Park in London.

And inside the dry, fragile grasp of the flower one can see the seeds of the next generation of plants.

Am I right that the plant is wild carrot?

[Photos by GHarrison]


If I’m right, that will mark the first time for this new week.

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