Saturday, May 17, 2014

MAY LONG MEMORIES


            Oh no, here it is...deja vu all over again! Remember a few weeks ago when I rehashed a column from '08 and in it I said, "I for one, wouldn't be too disappointed with a few more weeks of ugly weather. I'm not hoping for it! But if it happens, it might ease my guilty, sports-addicted conscience." Well guess what? It's a complete replay of the events that happened after I wrote the original article, too.

            The weather has stayed nice and "indoorsy", except for maybe one or two days since I put that article in the paper, making it quite comfortable in front of my TV but doing absolutely nothing for the garden or the lawn!

            In that article I also said, "Now, as then, I am not accepting responsibility should the weather continue to be un-spring-like for the foreseeable future." I am sticking to that statement, too. It's not my fault!

            Come to think of it, with the Victoria Day long weekend coming up in a few days, I seem to recall just as many, if not more, crappy weather long weekends as nice ones. Perhaps it's just that shivering beside a campfire with snowflakes swirling down is more memorable on a May Long Weekend than a nice warm sunny one.

            I was combing through my May Long memories and I recall a group of us guys back in high school trying to camp out in the bush down south of town through a two-day down pour. We tried to make the best of it but we finally had to pack it in and surrender to the nasty weather. It wasn't among the greatest long weekends I've ever spent but forty years later I can recall every memorable, soaking wet moment.

            Ditto for a camping adventure my brother Gord and I endured with our sister Dot a couple of years before at Kenosee Lake. The day started okay, as many of them do, and by 8:00pm we were bailing water out of the tent and packing things up in the car. Talk about a downpour! Luckily a couple of the Krecsy boys were down at the Lake, too, and let us stay in their dry cabin for the night. Again, not a great time but very, very memorable.

            A generation later and it was the same thing for our three kids. They'd plan and plan and plan and pack and pack and pack and then...downpour! Can you see a pattern here? I don't even want to guess at how many washing machines were worn out washing all of those long weekend muddy, soaking wet camping clothes and bedding.

            Now, I do recall one Bike-a-Thon event from the early '70's when we school kids were trying to raise funds for a swimming pool and the route was from Kipling to Kenossee Lake and it was so blasted hot that the asphalt from the highway was sticking to the bike tires. They didn't even have the piers, the buoys or the big slide out in the water at the beach, yet, but a bunch of us ran down and dove right into the water to cool off anyway. Every other leap year, or something, the weather can be nice, I guess.

            I shouldn't even tell you this but Environment Canada is predicting a pretty decent weekend for this year's version of the Victoria Day Holiday Weekend. Not a heat wave, mind you, but 18C on Saturday and no rain predicted so far. Remember, though, that anything after two days is a crapshoot. I don't want to bring you down but maybe pack an umbrella and a rain slicker if you are planning any outdoor-type activity.

            As much as I've enjoyed watching indoor sports I am as sick and tired of the cold weather as anyone and I'm ready for some heat. Bring it on. It's time to stop watching sports-it's time to start playing sports.

"It always rains on tents. Rainstorms will travel thousands of miles, against prevailing winds for the opportunity to rain on a tent." Dave Barry-(1947-).

 

Sunday, May 4, 2014

HOW'D THEY GET IN HERE!?

            It was about seven years ago that I installed a wood burning stove in our living room. It has been a great addition to the house for both aesthetics and function. In fact, during the fifty-four hour power outage caused by the big snowstorm in late April of ’11 the stove provided us with the only source of heat and a means to cook our food.
            In the entire time that we’ve had the stove in the house we have never had a problem with birds nesting in the chimney or coming down into the stove or anything. Not until last week that is.
            Because the house is two stories high there must be close to twenty-five feet of stove pipe and chimney coming out of the top of the stove. I’m pretty sure that there’s a bird-screen on the chimney cap, too, so the first bird that breached the screen had to be really determined to make our chimney its home.
Due to the length of our cold, damnable winter we had run out of fire wood a while ago so we weren’t using the stove a lot in recent weeks making it easier for the birds to hang around the top of the chimney. I am uncertain as to the sequence of events but I’m pretty sure it started with one sparrow getting through the screen and making its way down the pipe to the stove itself. Once he got in and chirped away it appears that others followed.
Now, before I go any further with this story I will have to tell you that birds freak me out a bit. I’m not exactly scared of them but they’re off-putting, you know. What with their tiny spindly, scaly feet and beaky faces and weird noises and flapping and caca-ing everywhere and everything…they’re just weird to me. Oh yeah, and they’re stupid, too. They don’t call ‘em “bird-brain” for no reason.
So anyway, Deb’s home for lunch one day and hears something scratching and making noise in the stove and she knows it’s a bird but doesn’t want to open the door and let the damn thing out into the house so she leaves it in there, because birds freak her out, too, especially when they’re invading her house, and she’s hoping that I’ll deal with it when I got home from work.
When I get home all is silent so we go about our business and there’s like six hours of hockey to watch and I don’t particularly want to deal with the bird invasion anyway so I ignore the problem hoping it will go away on its own.
All was quiet for a day or two but then the noises started up again and then they stopped. Deb came home for lunch and there was no noise coming from the stove so she figures someone has to check this out and slowly opens the stove door and finds one of the poor little things passed away in the stove. She suits up like it’s nuclear waste and disposes of the dead bird and thinks that the problem is solved.
She told me about her discovery and I’m thinking I better get a fire going and keep the little buggers from coming down the chimney so I stopped on my way home after work and bought a box of fire logs and I started to get a little fire going. Then Deb gets home from work and I’m showing her how there isn’t a direct hole into the stove from the chimney and how I couldn’t figure out how the birds were getting into the fire box and I was poking into the stove with the poker when two of the blasted things fly out of the stove! Yowza!
I’m not sure which of us had the higher scream but we both jumped back out of the way as the two sparrows flew around the house…thankfully scared s---less! We opened the outside doors and after a few attempts to fly out the windows and walls the birds finally found their way out. I poked around again in the stove as the “EZ-Burn” logs didn’t burn very easy and there was lots of smoke but little fire and AGAIN another of the stupid things flew past my head. Sheesh, how many are in there anyway! Thankfully, three was the answer to that question.
So far so good, though. That was quite enough excitement for us that day. It’s been a few days since the bird fiasco but I guess I’m going to have to fix that chimney cap and make sure we burn a bit more in an effort to keep the invaders at bay.

“Is it worse to be scared than to be bored, that is the question.”-Gertrude Stein (1874-1946).

COW FARTS?

           Hooray, hooray the 1st of May…don’t be so quick putting that parka away! As our progress into warmer weather continues its slow pace one is left to question the validity of Global Warming, isn’t one? Especially in these parts it is. Following one of our coldest winters in recent memory, and the cold weather continuance around here, a little global warming doesn’t sound like such a bad thing. But, then again, one has to be careful of what one wishes for doesn’t one?
            Maybe you don’t believe in Global Warming anyway. In doing my research there was so much information regarding the subject of climate change and global warming that one could read the information for days and days and still not reach a definitive conclusion.
I’ve found that one thing’s for sure, though, the differing opinions are either politically based or scientifically based, (and often an amalgamation of both), depending on the motives of the speaker at the moment. Both parties seem to fudge their climate statistics to back their arguments…pro and con...once again, depending on the speaker’s agenda. And if you think that the mass media are going to produce accurate findings then think again because the news is a product to be sold and there is no obligation by the seller of the product, (news), to be accurate…just sellable.
On one hand science has a difficult time telling us what the weather’s going to be like next Tuesday, let alone in 2099, but can there be little doubt that the effects of 7.3 billion human beings, with all of their varying habits, has got to be affecting good ol’ Mother Earth in some form or another?
Regardless of your stance on Climate Change there can be no doubt that human habitation is adversely affecting our planet in some way. To raise awareness of this fact April 22nd was designated as Earth Day and it was celebrated around the globe. My research states, “Founded by Senator Gaylord Nelson, Earth Day was first organized in 1970 to promote ecology and respect for life on the planet as well as to encourage awareness of the growing problems of air, water and soil pollution.”
Of course the observation of “Earth Day” came with some practical and some impractical solutions to lessen the negative affects people have on the planet. Take our eating habits for instance. It has been calculated that if the United States alone could reduce the national cattle flatulence production by 25% it would be equal to removing the greenhouse-gas emissions of 1.25 million cars! I know! Who’d have guessed? Cow farts?
To that end, the United Nations is promoting the reduction in the consumption of meat and dairy products by encouraging humans to consider vegan diets and replacing our beef consumption with…say…bugs! That’s right…insects! Apparently they’re a great source of protein and their gas-passing isn’t quite at the level of our bovine meat providers.
Insects are already a large part of many Earth residents’ diets but I just can’t seem to get excited over a huge dish of larvae stir-fry with a side of chapulines (grasshoppers). If it’s all the same to you, I think I’ll get my protein replacement from shake powder and tofu; keeping in mind what I’ve said in the past about an “acquired taste”…if you have to “acquire” a taste it may be best to stick with your initial assessment, which was probably…”yuck”.  
We’re pretty much in cattle country around here so this livestock reduction talk will probably fall on deaf ears because one man’s pollution is another man’s livelihood and I don’t see too many Saskatchewan cattle producers and feedlots switching over to grasshopper or beetle herds in the foreseeable future but I guess it’s nice to know that there are options.
If you get right down to the nitty-gritty of the whole Global Warming/Climate Change/Earth Destruction conundrum it comes right down to science. Science and its advances have led us to this point in the Earth’s ecological history and I am hopeful that science will find a way to reduce or even reverse the damage humans have inflicted on Mother Earth with it.

“You would have thought that our first priority would be to ask what the ecologists are finding out, because we have to live within the conditions and principles they define. Instead, we’ve elevated the economy above ecology.” David Suzuki (1936-).