Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

It's Done

Summer is over, done with for this year of 2009, to be repeated, in the year following, once autumn has morphed into winter, and winter into spring. This is the cycle of our years, the vast mechanistic organism within which we live, breathe, and enjoy our lives, thankful for everything that we have.

Our gardens are not yet prepared to wither, for the rain we've had in abundance of late, and the winds as well, have protected tender annuals and late-blooming perennials from the chilling effects of overnight frosts. For that too, we are grateful. Grateful to retain, at least for the short term, the luscious and lush flowers that so brilliantly colour our days.

In the ravine, every day brings changes. Today the thermometer was unable to bring itself to rise above four degrees. With the constant wind, and the rain, itself fairly constant but for the occasional window of cessation and the surprise of a moment's sunshine breaking through before rain returns, the trails have been littered with new-fallen leaves.

Not just leaves, but from the huge old pines scattered all over the ravine, the trails - as well as the underbrush have been inundated with pine needles. The effect is marvellously soothing; to walk on the soft needles, feeling them underfoot, to look along the trails, seeing an endless swath of yellow-orange lighting up the path.

The contrast of the needles in their soft, glowing orange-yellow, with green yet glowing on the trees above is balm to the autumn eye. And all the while, as we progress, needles keep falling gently about us, as do the leaves, gentling the landscape. This is not yet, however, the final curtain for pleasantly balmy weather in our sphere, for this year.

We still keep the faith, knowing that soon, before the end of this new month approaching, we will savour the memory of late summer for a few more days, with Indian Summer, when suddenly fresh breezes bring in warm temperatures, and we can imagine, for a few days, that Nature has relented and returned summer to us.

I'm awfully glad that another thing is done with. I had procrastinated, not wanting to shove myself out the door with yet another door-to-door canvass, but finally last week, did begin the canvass of my street for The Arthritis Society. Yet another canvass; I don't seem to be able to say 'no'. Though I did, for January, because the Heart & Stroke Foundation got to me first, for February.

Our near neighbours responded as they are wont to do, most of them, generous to a fault. Those who steadfastly refuse to extract from their comfortable pockets a few dollars for a charity are now given a polite bypass; no point knocking on those doors any longer. But the others welcome any charity I represent, prevail upon me to chat, and permit me to move on.

Done with, and we're moving on. Concluded, another wonderful summer. Finished, another charitable canvass.

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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A Sobering Introduction to Adulthood

Justin Birch has described the dreadful scene he came upon when he was out in the early morning hours of September 20. He had no reason to believe that last Sunday would bring him an experience that would haunt him for the rest of his life. At age 19, he encountered the wreckage of a vehicle that had gone off the road not far from where he lives east of Navan, on his family's farm.

He had been at his girlfriend's home, after attending a house-warming party at a friend's newly-acquired home, where many others of their friends had been. It was a light-hearted event, a fun evening, with friends. A few of his good friends had left the party earlier, and since they lived nearby he thought he would just casually drop in on them before finally heading home.

As he drove along Heuvelmans Road, his headlights picked out a scene of debris scattered about, and then he could see a truck in the ditch, its cab crushed. He pulled around, left his own truck and rushed over to the turned-over vehicle in the ditch. There, he saw, squinting through a cracked window, a familiar face. He could barely make out the others in the vehicle.

He dialled 911, and spoke quietly with the young woman, unable to extricate her, but intent on maintaining contact with her, so she would be assured someone was there who cared about her, to help her, while awaiting medical assistance. The young man, Justin Birch, assured her and stayed beside her. She spoke to him, informing him precisely who those others were, so still and quiet.

They were the very same friends whom he had been intent on seeing, before turning in for the night. He had been unable to recognize their truck, in its wrecked condition. The full horror of what lay before him was finally revealed. Three of his good friends, two of them 19, one 16, lay within the wrecked truck, dead.

They had, in fact, been returning to the party they had so recently left. The vehicle left the road and crashed into the ditch a mere kilometre from where they were heading. The tragedy that took three young lives and impacted on so many others has etched itself into Justin Birch's very soul.

The sad message is the transience of life, the narrow passage between life and death, the tormented memories of those left behind.

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Of Vital National Interest

Good grief, is this what a president does? Concern himself at a strictly regional level with hands-on efforts to convince the International Olympic Committee that his old city hang-out of Chicago is deserving of hosting the 2016 Olympics? A president seen as the primary figure representing the state of the free world, with any number of truly difficult decisions to make, matters to attend to, political fires to put out, is prepared to travel to Copenhagen to make the case for the Windy City?

President Obama, along with his wife, have committed themselves to speaking in Denmark at the final presentation to the IOC, using their vast diplomatic and popular appeal to lend credence to the city as the choice site for the 2016 Olympics. Chicago a world-class destination as opposed to Madrid, Rio de Janeiro or Tokyo? Really? Gritty, politically corrupt, Tammany-hall Chicago trumps the historical, exotic metropolises of Spain, Brazil, or Japan? Uh, don't think so. In any event, why is this a priority for a time-beleaguered president of the U.S.?

This man, still a freshman on the world stage, come to think of it - and who is facing a true backlash in his own country around his proposed health care changes, along with a foreign-war-disenchanted public eager to withdraw the country's troops from the deadly mountainous muck-and-mire of Afghanistan, coping with the country's allies in attempting to impose rigidly-purposeful sanctions against Iran's obvious threat to the world - oops, almost forgot the Israel-Palestine problem - is taking a break to promote the U.S. as the obvious IOC choice.

Conventionally, traditionally, previously, no U.S. president has joined that populist fray. Other countries may have become involved at the federal level, sending their executive officers to plead the case for consideration of their world-class sites, but it is this particular wholly-invested, hard-working, totally dedicated president, assailed on every side by world-class problems of immense proportions who has decided to throw his weight behind his adopted city.

And not only Barack Obama, but other high-ranking individuals in his administration have been dedicating their 'free time' to vigorously advancing the Chicago-site nomination. Even while at the United Nations General Assembly opening and the Group of 20 Economic Summit, both Obamas made their pitch to their international counterparts. Along with making very nice to IOC members. Who knew, who might have imagined that the hosting of an international sports event ranked right up there with:

  • Preventing a fundamentalist theocracy ruled by their committed militaristic Revolutionary Guard - determined to spread their iron-fisted ideology and ascendancy on the rest of the world, abetted by the persuasion of nuclear warheads on far-ranging missiles - from having their way;
  • Persuading the American public that it has an obligation to itself as a leading liberal-democratic country, one proud of its heritage of equality for all its citizens, that none of its less-advantaged should fear end-stage debilitation, both physical and economic for want of a national health program;
  • Enticing two autonomous, antagonistic entities, one a recognized and legal State, the other a nascent state-in-the-making, to relax hostilities for the greater purpose of normalcy in nation-to-nation relations to advance both their futures;
  • Battling a wide-ranging and covertly deadly Islamist terror web threatening to overturn all hopes of final and reasonable conciliation between the world of Islam and that of the West;
  • Restoring and advancing peaceful relations between itself and the once-superpower Russia;
  • Bringing the United States, and with it much of the rest of the world back into a state of superior and nicely balanced economic/financial health;
  • Coping with the problem of facing a future of financial indebtedness, and balancing that with its relationship with the emerging industrial giant that China has represented;
  • Developing, along with its global partners, a reasonable response to the very real challenge of environmental change.
Might this diversion of a temporary nature be the solution to all work and no play?

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Monday, September 28, 2009

Our Household Gargoyle(s)

Slim opportunities presented today for any kind of outdoor activity. Heavy overnight rain set the pattern for the following day. We need the rain. It generally does rain in the fall. And we are now officially in fall. The rain has moderated the temperature, so it doesn't feel quite as cool as it would, otherwise, due to the higher-than-normal humidity.

All work on the garden shed has been halted, for now. Not only because of the rain, but because our master workman has taken a rest. Actually a rest long overdue and imposed as a result of feeling 'under the weather'. No matter, work will re-commence when the craftsman has become re-invigorated as a rest of a rest period. The most arduous of the work of the installation has been completed.

Yesterday was a photo-taking day. Taking in the colours and textures that remain of the garden. And there are ample examples of both. Our large old pine that centres one of the gardens has begun again shedding needles in abundance. Which needles litter the garden below, and this is fine with the rhododendrons directly under the pine. Where the needles sit thick and prickly on the grass, I rake them up and collect them in heaping handfuls for compost. The needles along with the fallen pine cones. And then, since they also fall on the bricks of the courtyard, that needs sweeping as well.

This is truly invigorating work, and I enjoy the activity of cleaning up, tidying up the areas, and as I am thus engaged, glancing continually at various parts of the garden, noticing little details, exquisite, splendid floral displays, not quite ready to remove themselves from our personal landscape. The extravagence of the lush begonias, falling up and over their stems, gracefully draping themselves over the sides of their enclosure. The bright, white trumpet shape of the datura flowers, those moon flowers of deadly provenance.

The huge, fabulous clusters of white-pink hydrangea against the red brick wall of the garage, leaning heavily on the province of the climbing rose beside it and the Big Ben rose that appears to have exhausted its potential for further show this season. Beside it the bright red florabunda roses, just entering their final phase of well-earned conceit, brandishing new buds
beside the glory of the fully-opened roses. And above and beyond them, the household gargoyle observing all, impishly and impudently demonstrating what it personally thinks of it all.

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Sunday, September 27, 2009

Berserk Marketing

Food consumers have become more alert to the carbon footstep left behind as a result of the type of shopping they indulge in, for items to put on their dinnertime table. Not that most people, during seasonal harvest times haven't always been interested in purchasing local products. Simply because the fresher food items are from the field they're grown in to the dining room table, the more nutrients they contain, the fresher and sweeter they taste.

And, given the short run from local farms to neighbourhood grocers, the less deleterious environmental impact they have.

When we're shopping now in our supermarkets we're assured by signage on the produce shelves and by packaging information that we've chosen a food product that was grown and picked close to home. This makes us feel snugly smug, that we are self-sufficient, able to feed ourselves at close range, and that we, as consumers, are helping to combat environmental damage.

Notably, with many other food products, like citrus fruits, pineapples, bananas, for examples, we know they've been trucked and shipped long distances.

But with local, seasonal soft fruits whose seasons run the gamut from strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, peaches, plums, melons and grapes, we know we can buy locally. When asparagus, green and wax beans, lettuce, globe peppers and tomatoes are in season we exult at their fresh, local taste.

At other seasons we accept that we must buy such produce grown in Guatemala, Peru, South Africa, Israel, Florida and California, and we indulge our shopping habits because we love to eat a wide array of foods, so readily available in our global marketplace.

But what kind of lunacy is it when marketers decide to complicate matters by trucking local produce - grown a mere 40 kilometres from a city centre - some 730 kilometres distant, to a giant warehouse. And from that giant warehousing facility servicing the needs of supermarkets associated with a single corporation, the foods gathered there are then delivered back, to the supermarkets in the city where they were grown locally.

That's just what is happening in the Ottawa area, where Loblaws, in their marketing wisdom decided to do away with local warehouses and instead return to a giant distribution centre. And where local producers are now faced with losing business with this giant retailer if they're not prepared to truck their market-ready food at substantial additional cost to themselves the distance required, to the distribution centre.

Meanwhile, Loblaws continues to proudly advertise the Canadian, and local content of their food offerings. Such marketing brilliance.

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Saturday, September 26, 2009

Emerging Fall

There is no escaping this reality. Night-time temperatures dip to freezing. The days are noticeably - oh so noticeably - shortened. We enthuse over every day we have that is clear and bright, breezy and inexpressibly lovely. And we mourn the passing of the carefree summer months. Nature always seems to be in a hurry in this northern clime, leaving us a scant few months in which to revel in warmth and full sunshine, in anticipation for the progress of the flora around us.

We anxiously inspect the trees growing around us for signs of fatigue, and some of them do amply demonstrate their willingness to give up their leaves. In some areas of the trails along which we walk in the ravine, already the ground is littered with crisp fallen leaves. A smattering of bright-red maple leaves, but a wholesale release of elm and of ash, in some areas.

Those large oval ash leaves have taken on a light yellow hue and are readying themselves to detach, to fall and meld themselves into the melee of fall-ready surrender. On the forest floor there are now large areas free of the undergrowth that had so latterly crowded one another in contention for space and light. Ferns, those sensitive to colder temperatures, have fallen in on themselves, preparing to be absorbed into the ground.

All the wild apple trees have given up their fruit; small mean, and sometimes small juicy, red apples stipple the underground. Occasionally an apple will land in such a way as to become impaled on the thorn of a hawthorn, sitting there, bright red and ornamental, as in thoughtful preparation for Christmas decoration. The season has encouraged another spurt of fungi in fanciful shapes and colours. Staghorn sumac have submitted to the inevitable in scarlet surrender.

Squirrels busy themselves, selecting delicacies to hoard over winter while they pretend to hibernate. Dragonflies flit about, brilliant in their sun-brightened delicate forms, unconcerned as yet by the coolness of the temperature, the wind rustling the leaves above, persuading them to take leave of their summer-time perch.

We amble along, in quiet commune with all that surrounds us, savouring every moment of the time yet left before the full onslaught of winter; the connective balance of moderation between fall and the icy, snow-laden time to come.

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Friday, September 25, 2009

Wrong, Again

Evidently there's another bed-and-breakfast brouhaha. With a lot of people lining up behind a couple living near Liverpool, England, who operate a small hotel named Bounty House. Bounty House, and their owners, Ben and Sharon Vogelenzang, are indebted to a nearby state-operated hospital, which often refers patients who are undergoing treatment to their very nice establishment, so handy to the hospital.

The hospital is no longer referring patients to Bounty House. And Ben and Sharon Vogelenzang's neat little business has more or less collapsed. They have, therefore, lost their livelihood. But not only that, they are being harassed by public authorities. After questioning, the local constabulary have charged this couple with using "threatening, abusive or insulting words", said to have been "religiously aggravated".

Poor Ben and Sharon Vogelenzang. They stepped into a landmine. And they are not contrite. Turns out one of their guests, staying with them while receiving treatment at the hospital, turned up on her third morning at their lovely and comfortable little hotel for breakfast, wearing a !gasp! hijab. This rather surprised the hosts, and it would appear they forgot how to be hosts, however extemporaneously.

No polite detachment, no deferential treatment to a woman undergoing medical treatment, requiring a tranquil retreat in between treatments. The hosts and their guests exchanged opinions. The hosts allege that their guest ventured her opinion that (unprodded?) Jesus was but a minor prophet, and in response the sensitive hosts charged that Mohammad was a warlord, and a hijab is a sign of female bondage.

The guest, somewhat upset, filed a complaint with the local police. And things went downhill from there. Understandably, the hospital was grieved to learn that their patient was dreadfully upset as a result of the hostile encounter she was part of, at the very domicile-for-hire they had recommended to her. Henceforth, no further recommendations. Result: lost business.

Now the supporters of the Vogelenzangs are vociferously incensed about 'political correctness', freedom of speech, and a nice middle-aged couple being charged with a criminal offence, and facing a whopping fine. One does have a certain compassion for them; if their business is indeed collapsed, it might be recognized as earned societal censure. Criminal charges should be forgotten.

Were and are they being unfairly harassed? Don't think so. There are more than enough genuflections to PC; this, in my opinion is not one of them. The hospital entrusted this couple with the privilege of attending to the basic material well-being of a vulnerable health-impaired patient. They responded by insulting a guest in the interests of 'speaking their mind'.

These hosts, determined to be ungracious in the face of a hijab-wearing woman, are old enough to know better, to exercise better judgement, to understand their obligation as a business catering to clients of the hospital which trustingly refers their patients to their establishment. Rudeness to the point of utter nastiness doesn't sit well with such circumstances.

End of story.

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Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Pleasurely Craft

Writing is a sweet and gentle consolation, just as reading is; it has the ability to gladden the heart, and challenge the mind, and in the final analysis, it provides boundless personal satisfaction. Even when one does not need to be consoled, one does require a challenge for the mind, lest it grow creaky from disuse.

Writing, almost as much as reading, is, for people that way inclined, as necessary as breathing. Without it we are unfulfilled. Bereft of a certain potential. Those bitten by that writing bug have a need to express themselves, to relay, in the language of choice, a narrative of their experiences, whether in real-time language, or as creative fiction.

And so it is with me. And I can identify the initial spark in my granddaughter. In her love for the written word, and the inexhaustible resource that reading represents. Knowledge and entertainment, along with her own need to express her personal perceptions from the mind of a growing child, with a growing realization of the world around her, and the individuals who people that world.

I take huge pleasure in writing, and it makes my heart skip to see hers. It is so wonderfully redolent of an awakening, intelligent mind eager to know more. In her I see myself. The search for meaningful intelligence, for an understanding of everything that surrounds us, the nature of the universe and our place in it; the nature of humankind in all its puzzling manifestations.

Pictures, it is said, are worth a thousand words, and that may very well be so. I write, often, of gardening, of the escape to the garden, to work with nature and assemble a palette and shapes that landscape my world. I have written, set down my thoughts, absorbed myself in the written expression since I was a child.

And always, uppermost in mind was the thought how wonderful it would be to be a writer; not a casual writer, but one dedicated to the craft. It is in the human spirit to wish for validation, recognition of one's effort. There are few who attain that height of recognition for the creativeness of one's mind's efforts in expressing ideas that others take delight in, or respect for their originality.

It is, people who write so often moan, a lonely avocation, or a profession in whose interests of achievement, the writer struggles and meets the adversity of a reluctant muse, unwilling to be awakened from her comfortable nap, simply to satisfy the longings of a writer-born. There was indeed a time that I thought of writing as isolating, but isolation is a requisite for assembling thoughts to convey through the written word.

That kind of isolation, temporary as it is, enables the writer, through gentle concentration to evoke memories, to recall visions, to bring together experience and observation to create another kind of reality. There is nothing spare about my mode of expression; I tend toward verbosity. Why express oneself pithily, when an extravagant gush of words can accomplish the same thing?

Tedious and tiresome to the reader, perhaps, but sheer joy of expression to me. As a writer, one known only to myself, uncelebrated in the world of scribes, unknown to the public, I satisfy my self, my inner urge to craft, create and express myself. Writer's block? What is that? There has never been a time when I have been at a loss for words, unable to call up expressions, viewpoints, perceptions.

Scribacious am I.


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Life's Hard Lessons

The little guinea pig that our granddaughter wanted so badly to have for her own was found on the website for the local Humane Society. It was, they said, about one and a half years old, and it found favour with our grandchild, twelve at that time when they adopted the little animal and took it home. To join a plethora of other animals in their home; dogs ranging from pocket-sized to veritable beasts, two cats and six rabbits. The little guinea pig soon found itself located in its very own two-story set-up, next to a similar one for two rabbits.

Yes, there were quite a few animal companions in that single house, but none of them, sighed the child, was hers. She wanted a pet of her very own. Resistance was futile; rational explanations about turning a home into a zoo went absolutely nowhere. She was resolute. For her birthday she wanted a pet of her very own, and that pet would take the form of a little guinea pig. Certainly she paid great attention to the other animals, played with the dogs, tolerated the cats, and enjoyed the rabbits.

But a guinea pig was different, and that was what she wanted. She was forewarned of the responsibility that would entail. It meant she would no longer be able to go on longer than two-day visits with friends or family, sleeping away from home. Because her pet's enclosure would have to be cleaned on a daily basis. Her pet would have to be fed, its water changed constantly, and with pet ownership came pet responsibilities. She would not change her mind, and the guinea pig was acquired.

Despite her long familiarity with animals, she was fearful of picking up the tiny creature. She relied on her mother to pick it up and lay it on her lap when she wanted to brush it gently. Or when the pen had to be cleaned. It was fine when the little pig sat quietly on her lap and allowed her to smooth its white-and-black hair, but she steadfastly refused to pick it up herself, fearing she might harm it. Over time the little animal became so familiar with its surroundings and exhibited no fear at the presence of the other animals, it was permitted to roam outside its pen on occasion.

It particularly asked, through its emotive little squeals to be let out to roam around with all the others when, in the evening, after dinner was done for all of them, fresh fruits and vegetables were cut up for salads for the entire menagerie in their own bowls. The little guinea pig had a bowl of its own, and loved the salads that supplemented its usual feedings. He would position himself close to our grandchild's mother's feet at the kitchen sink, with the dogs sitting and waiting in a semi-circle around the main event.

The little pig occasionally seemed to lose its robust appetite and eat without enthusiasm, but those events were transitory, and his usual verve would soon return. A week ago, our grandchild enthused that finally, she was able to pick him up. Odie had stopped running away from her, she didn't need to quickly grasp for him, he now allowed her to raise him herself to her lap. She mentioned that he looked like a little fur ball, but he wasn't; under that pelt of hair, she said, he was actually thin-feeling.

When she arrived home from school yesterday at her usual time of four in the afternoon, her mother happened not to be home. She wandered over to Odie's pen to greet him as usual, soon as she emptied her backpack of all her school assignments. He didn't run to greet her. He lay oddly, in a peculiar manner, yet didn't seem to be asleep. His eyes were open, but they did not move. She reached over to gently ruffle the top of his head, then drew back in dismay. She had never encountered death before.

Her mother telephoned, telling her child where she was, and she was heading home, would be there in less than a half-hour. She hesitated, through her distress, to say anything to her mother until her arrival at home, but was unable to stop herself. She wept and informed her mother, knowing how fond her mother too was of the little creature. And then she telephoned her grandmother, to wail and bemoan the misery of her little guinea pig's departure.

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Environmentally Sensible?

Well, that's progress for you. My municipality is putting its organics composting program where its pledge is. In the interests of reducing the amount of garbage put into landfill sites. We're producing so much garbage of every conceivable kind that we're spacing ourselves out of dump-space. On the other hand, there must be an awful lot of people, like us, who do our own recycling of kitchen waste. We've got two composters on the go, and the amount of wet or kitchen waste that we dispose of outside the composters is absolutely minimal.

We eat very little meat, so there is a scarce quantity of bones and gristle to be tossed into the garbage. All of our vegetable and fruit skins and cereal-type scraps make their way into the compost bin we keep handy under the sink. Add to that coffee grounds and teabags, eggshells and any compostable food leftovers. That under-the-counter compost bin gets taken out and dumped into one of our two backyard composters twice each week.

At the end of the gardening season the contents one of the composters get distributed into our gardens, fulfilling the life-cycle of the compost. This is an ongoing process, one that benefits us personally, and the municipality as well, since it results in far less garbage being taken away from this house. On the other hand, we still have far more trash than we should, on a weekly garbage-day pick-up, to be hauled away from our house.

Much of that trash is mostly comprised of packaging materials. If society were truly invested in producing less trash, we would engage in persuading manufacturers and packagers of food products to use fewer packaging materials, and to produce such materials more amenable to composting. And the municipality itself would make far more of an effort to recycle far more waste products from packaging than it currently does.

The green waste bins that the municipality is preparing to circulate among the homes it services will not be an effective diversion of wet waste to the extent that recycling more packaging materials would be. People who already recycle kitchen waste and garden waste to their home composters will have little use of the green bins. Whereas, if there was a commitment to recycle more packaging materials there would be far more of an environmental impact.

The push for green environmentalism helps local industries, those who manufacture the green bins, and the accompanying kitchen catchers, but the total functionality is illusory. All plastics used in packaging should be biodegradable, and they should be disposable environmentally.

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Monday, September 21, 2009

Whose Rights Exactly?

The privacy of one's home is seen as protected by ownership and the right of people to enjoy their privacy. This can be overturned, however, if and when home-owners themselves alter the presumed privacy of their home by opening up the home as a business, and as a business, welcoming strangers into their inner sanctum. Then the home is no longer private; it is a home converted to a business that caters to the comfort of travellers, as a bed and breakfast.

It is still a private enterprise, but it does not quite enjoy the rights to privacy that most home owners do, due to the fact that there are, on a temporary basis, people other than family members enjoying the interior space on a client basis, paying for the privilege of intruding on the privacy of a home that is more than a home. Still, it is perfectly feasible for owners of bed and breakfast establishments to maintain certain client criteria.

Bed and breakfast owners have the right, as a private business, to reject a paying client if they feel that client represents as someone with whom they would not wish to do business. On the other hand, there are laws enacted to protect very distinct portions of society, those for whom the services of a trained animal are required to enable them to go about in public in safety and security.

Under the law businesses may not deny service to those who are accompanied by service dogs; the blind, for example, dependent on the professionalism of a trained working dog, their constant companion enabling them to move about in safety, warning them when danger is at hand. In Ottawa, a bed-and-breakfast owner denied service to a blind man with his guide dog.

Claiming to be allergic to dogs, the owner, Doug McCue, denied service to David Martin, his wife Nancy, and service dog Wazey, at his Cornerstone Bed and Breakfast on Drummond Street West. Mr. and Mrs. Martin sought to reserve a room in August 2008 to attend a wedding, and there was a room available for them then and there. A previous enquiry elsewhere had denied them a booking.

When it was revealed by Nancy Martin that her husband and his service dog would be accompanying her, she was informed of Mr. McCue's 'no-pet' policy. Which is unfortunate, because Mr. Martin's dog is no mere pet, but a valuable and trusted working animal. The Martins felt rather incensed that laws meant to give them parity with others in services could be flouted in such a manner.

And they sought the assistance of a lawyer sympathetic to their situation. Unsurprisingly, since that lawyer too is blind and uses a guide dog. Seeking to support a basic moral and lawful principle, they wanted an apology by letter, an assurance that Mr. McCue would alter his discriminatory policy, and a cheque for $2,000, to be turned over to a group training guide dogs for the blind.

Mr. McCue failed to respond, and a following letter from Mr. Martin's lawyer gave Mr. McCue a request for $2,500 in general damages, $3,00 in legal fees to be accompanied by a written notice of change in policy. "Should I not hear from you by September 5, my instructions are to commence action, both under the Ontario Blind Persons' Rights Act and the Ontario Human Rights Code, and to have served upon you said documents shortly thereafter."

Mr. McCue is one stubborn man, refusing to recognize the demands, and as a result the demands escalated. Both he and Mr. Martin suffered extreme stress as a result of the situation. Days before a Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario hearing the two finally agreed to a mediation attempt. Mr. McCue admitted "sincere regret", and handed Mr. Martin a $700 cheque, which went directly to guide-dog training.

However, Mr. McCue is adamant that the sincere regret that he proffered was insincere after all, and he still feels hard done by. His little enterprise is no longer in operation and Mr. McCue has now turned his ire upon Mr. Martin's lawyer, reporting his 'intimidating' letters of demand to the Law Society of Upper Canada.

Mr. McCue can brood on the injustice done him now, in the privacy of his home no longer open to service the needs of strangers. His original purpose in opening his home, he said, was to make the acquaintance of interesting people. Nancy and Ian Martin are exceedingly interesting people. As is their lawyer, Terrance Green.

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Sunday, September 20, 2009

Still Exuberantly Colourful

Everything in the garden continues to look reasonably fresh and bright, yet time is running out for this year's garden. I had decided, in the interests of temporary longevity, to give everything a good soaking yesterday, and watered the gardens and the garden pots somewhat to excess, including the ornamental trees. And rather unsurprisingly, we had overnight frost on the roofs. Not quite ground frost, but a gentle warning. I gathered all the ripe plum tomatoes this morning, leaving some still on the vine, to ripen further.

I can hardly believe the swiftness of this summer's passage. But then, it's likely I, and everyone else feels the same way, already nostalgic for the early days of spring discovery when the bulbs were just beginning to raise themselves, and all gardeners were excitedly looking forward to another season of sumptuous flowering that would knock us off our pins and cause us to bore non-gardeners with emailed photographs of our wonderful gardens. Of course we have those photographs to nudge wan memories during the winter months when we grieve the loss of exciting garden discoveries.

As it is we can wander the gardens, admire the still-blooming yellow roses, the pink, the red roses, determined to bloom as long as they can, defiant of the approaching season; they echo our thoughts. But on a more practical level, preparations are required to plan the process of putting the garden to bed. Damaged rose cones to be replaced with new ones to protect the roses overwinter. Compostable bags to be prepared to take the bulk of the perennials to be cut down neatly so spring can commence with its new growth.

And bulbs, tulip and daffodil bulbs, and lots of them, to encourage my efforts to find suitable places where they can be dug in. And also lots of new grape hyacinths as well to border the gardens that haven't already been planted with them. So I can forget about them throughout the winter months, and then be suitably amazed when they miraculously break through the springtime garden soil when nothing else has yet gathered itself to make the effort.

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Saturday, September 19, 2009

Antics and Agony

Turned out another lovely pre-fall day. Close to freezing last night, and tardy in warming up, but once it did, pleasant beyond complaint. We set off for the ravine a tad earlier than usual, and wore light jackets against the chill, but soon left it behind as we chugged along. Some of the underbrush had already turned colour, ready to shrivel and dive into winter mode. We had our little stump-tail squirrel meet us at the foot of the first hill, and tossed him the first of what turned out to be three peanuts.

The first he took down to the creek and buried it just above the waterline, something we've seen him do before. The second he deigned to eat, then and there. We stood, watching him, Button and Riley paying no mind, their attention turned elsewhere, and then we tossed him a third peanut. Upon which a tiny red squirrel appeared out of nowhere and, ignoring the presence of peanuts we'd left in all manner of other regular places, undertook to chase Stumpy. Which it did, relentlessly, but Stumpy had no intention of relinquishing his peanut.

Along the way throughout our hour's ramble, there were other little regulars who met us at the usual peanut caches, and they're a delight to see, to witness their eagerly brave approach, knowing peanuts have been left behind for them. When we left a handful of shelled and unshelled peanuts in the broad crotch of the old willow tree, roughly two-thirds of the way through our daily circuit, there were two squirrels, a black and a grey one awaiting our arrival. After leaving the offerings and heaving ourselves up the hill alongside, we stopped to watch two other black squirrels intervene to take their share.

The passage through the trails, the changing landscape, with birds flitting through the trees - too swiftly for us to identify them - and the myriad numbers of newly-hatched iridescent-red dragonflies presents us with unparalleled satisfaction and entertainment. We feel privileged, as indeed we most certainly are, and prepare ourselves for a good day. Striding along the trails, we're refreshed, re-invigorated, happy to be alive to experience nature's generosity and utter control of our environment.

Fall will come as it must, and all the growing things that we now see in the ravine will be further transformed as the undergrowth continues to shrivel, as the sap begins to descend to the roots in preparation for winter's rest period, and the leaves turn colour and drop, sometimes seeming, in a fall wind, like confetti blessing the ground around us.

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Friday, September 18, 2009

Political Brethren : Embracing Loathsomeness

It's awfully nice when families make an effort to come together, to decide to forget their differences, and make an effort toward reconciliation. After all, life is too short to harbour resentment and grudges, isn't it? And somehow, even if one family member presents as someone you wouldn't ordinarily get along with because you don't appreciate their character, behaviour or values, that old adage about blood being thicker than water at least encourages the effort to overlook the unpalatable for a stab at better relations.

It just makes everyone feel better about themselves. And just incidentally, there might be a time when that very same individual, regrettable though his/her mode of behaviour and personal values are, could be of some assistance to you personally. You never know. And sometimes you lay aside bad feelings because you want to please a third party; say for example the parents in the family. Or perhaps there's an unfortunate situation where the family has been deleteriously impacted by some kind of tragedy. Everyone pulls together.

And so it is, one supposes, with political parties, too. There are always elements and cliques in any political party that pull away from the mainstream. And sometimes those disaffected ones actually disrupt the mainstream to the extent that the entire party becomes fairly dysfunctional. On the other hand, there have been occasions with one faction, beginning as a minority, pulls others toward their ideological differences and suddenly they become the effective majority. And then sense of grievance and anger can cause further disruptions.

Best to make amends between one another, restore collegiality for the common purpose of getting ahead. Since that, after all, is what most political parties strive for; to get ahead of their political opponents. So far ahead that the electorate views them with favour, electing them to form the new government. Which occurs often enough. In the case of a minority government, it helps to entice all members, including the disaffected ones, to join in a common purpose. Bringing their favoured regional support to bear in hopes of a majority win.

So here is the once-fractured Conservative Party of Canada suddenly finding anew common cause with the popularly-disliked former prime minister of Canada, the (dis)Honourable Brian Mulroney. Time has not mellowed the public's perception of his sleazy personality. But for some truly peculiar reason, well before his public persona rubbed the electorate the wrong way, he enjoyed a massively-majority government. And that bright memory has the Conservatives in a state of longing. Stranger still, Mr. Mulroney still has support in Quebec. Which is precisely where the Conservatives would dearly like to pick up seats.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper was saved from having to abase himself and his values for the sake of reconciliation, missing the 25th-year celebration of the 1984 election sweep. The personable and loyal Laureen Harper attended in his stead, while the prime minister made political hay for Canada in the New York money markets, after his Washington meetings with President Obama and Congressional leaders pleading for reinstatement of our 'good neighbour' trading status.

What a contrast in personalities; the Prime Minister's moral integrity and personal rectitude as opposed to the former prime minister's storied and all-too-obvious phony-baloney-malarkey persona, his fraudulent ethical standards sullying the office he was finally forced to abandon, having stepped too many times in his own ordure.

But politics does make strange bedfellows; we see evidence of that all the time. And doesn't it give Canadians a warm, snuggly feeling to know that the Conservatives are celebrating themselves anew as "one big happy family"?

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Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Peoples' Nature Preserve

Almost forty years ago,when our children were young, we discovered Gatineau Park. That wonderful natural preserve, so unique in its sublime presence as an unspoiled green space, close to the capital city of this country. Back then, when we explored the inner confines of the park, we did so in supreme isolation. We seldom came across anyone else on our forays, And we discovered all manner of trails that must have been old, but little-used, and as a result, barely marked. We did our share of getting lost, but after awhile we became familiar with those trails, and we loved them.

When our youngest child became interested in butterflies he was able, with the help of a net, to capture some lovely specimens which he later mounted, amassing quite a collection. Later on, when it was fish he was primarily interested in, he would net dace and tiny bottom-feeders, and small perch, sunfish, and even bass. He would take some home, and place them in one of the several aquariums he kept, and study them. He later took a doctorate in biology, and is now a senior biologist with a provincial government department.

We had family picnics, featuring all manner of edible goodies. Mostly we would have picnic lunches, but occasionally dinners, as well. After lunch we would embark on a brisk trail ramble. After dinner, we would launch our canoe in one of the lakes. We might eat on the trail, halfway up the side of one of the hills; for example at Luskville, or at any other spot that looked enticing and inviting, even on occasion at picnic tables set out at certain places. We discovered interesting toads and frogs and snakes, saw exotic birds and waterbirds, deer and porcupines, foxes and raccoons.

We would pick wild berries in season, each of us with a pail, then haul them home and make jam from strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries. Once too, from rose hips. It was there that we taught ourselves to canoe for the first time, and we became addicted to canoeing on all the lakes in the park. We snowshoed Gatineau Park in the winter, and loved every minute of our time there; up in the hills, swooshing down on layers of newly-fallen snow, or over the frozen lakes, listening to the ice 'crack' under us.

When our children became adults, and we spent a number of years out of the country and then returned the Gatineau Park we once knew was no more. A huge advertising campaign had been launched, enticing people to come and visit the park, spend their leisure time there, appreciate the beauty of the place. And more; the advent of the bicycle had arrived, when mountain bikes with their heavy-duty frames and tires were invented. The park was no longer our private preserve. Nor should it have been.

In the years that followed we began to notice how stealthily large private homes would begin appearing in various parts of the park. And we were quite simply amazed that this national treasure was allowed to be invaded like this, surreptitiously, as though the cottages that were present on various lakes weren't surprisingly invasive enough. Now there's a group that has approached an National Capital Commission consultation committee on recreation with the idea of limiting the numbers of vehicles permitted in the park.

The Conseil regional de l'environment et du developpement durable de l'Outaouais is concerned about the degradation of the park environments with too many visitors, and too much recreational usage in particularly sensitive areas. For starters, enforcement of current park by-laws might be a good thing, insisting that bicyclists whose thrill is not nature, but speed under arduous physical geological conditions, remain on those trails where it is clearly marked they are permitted to venture.

Thrill-seekers resent that any of the trails arebforbidden for their use; they have no sympathy with the need to protect environmentally-sensitive areas. Meaningful fines that convince people they need to respect the rules laid down by those who care about the park, should be the reward for those who flaunt responsibility. Further, the NCC should practise what they mealy-mouth-preach, and ensure that the 361-square kilometres of forests and lakes with its rich flora and fauna, be off limits to private ownership, and the building of monster homes for the well-connected and the wealthy be prohibited.

The NCC should strenuously resist the temptation to charge motorists on entering the park. The park and its upkeep has already been paid for, and continues to be, through general taxation. This precious natural resource should be available for all who respect its presence and wish to take advantage of viewing and experiencing its beauty and diversity. For the most part, thanks to heavy NCC advertising, most of the people who visit do so to see the fall colours and their excursions are limited.

For those who appreciate the Gatineau Hills for the opportunities it allows us - to view wildlife, identify the flora, exercise our city-weary limbs on its many trails and well-forested interior, enjoy quiet paddles on the lakes - the freedom to pursue those options should remain unobstructed, other than the fees already extracted.

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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

To Do No Harm

The debate here is among health professionals. To be immunized or not? While the Province of Ontario has fully funded annual flu immunization shots for the entire population, fewer than 50% of health professionals have been agreeable to taking those shots. Rather more than that among the general population take advantage of the opportunity to be immunized. And the campaign appears to work reasonably well.

Now, with the advent of another type of flu, one which promises to produce a truly potential international health calamity as a pandemic, the recognized urgency for society to be prepared to experience the misfortune of H1N1 contraction is paramount. With the onset of fall and winter, the promise of a return of the initial, somewhat lackadaisical appearance of the H1N1 virus which caused minimal discomfort in most people infected may return to wreak true havoc.

It may, or it may not have mutated to become a more health-abusive virus. Pregnant women, children and young adults have been seen to be more susceptible to the H1N1 virus than older people whom, it is thought, may have some immunity as a result of previous exposure in an earlier, similar viral flu outbreak. Those born before the 1950s are held to be less at risk.

This highly transmissible virus is causing government and the health community no little amount of headaches. Anticipating its arrival, and anticipating as well, the full swoop of its potential. To assail some with minimal results, and to affect many immune-compromised individuals to a far greater degree. No one can imagine whether this may result in many severely ill people with long periods of rehabilitation before them, and even deaths.

The health-care community, the first-responders, those who provide health care in public institutions and private health care facilities are deemed to be responsible enough to ensure they take the required immunization shots so they will not act as vectors, passing the virus on to those whom they care for. Yet this simple-appearing direction appears to have hit against a stone wall of resistance.

Fully half of health-care workers, from doctors, to nurses, pharmacists, to hospital technicians, ambulance drivers and paramedics are stridently resistant to the need to be immunized to ensure that precautions have been taken, that they are less likely to become themselves infected and to communicate that infection to the many people with whom they come in contact through the course of their duties.

There are no guarantees that the immunizing agents are completely without complications for some people, that there may be health repercussions as a result of having taken the required immune shots. It is entirely possible that some minuscule segment of society will be adversely affected, and some even smaller number critically affected. There are risks in all manner of enterprises.

We are assured by our health professionals, those whom we depend upon to protect us during these times to the best of their abilities, that the scientific community sees immunization on a mass scale as the best preventive for global disaster. Those in the health community who are tasked with looking after the health of individuals in a hospital setting should be prepared to submit to the same treatment required of the general population.

Their participation, in fact, is far more critical. It is the profession they sought, the practise they felt compelled toward, and they should be prepared to honour its most basic precept.

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Waxing and Waning

As summer wanes inexorably into fall, progress on our garden shed waxes toward completion. Summer has completed its mission for this year of 2009, giving us great pleasure in the process. Leaving us as compassionately and gradually as it can, itself unwilling to entirely relinquish its all-too-brief hold on the summer equinox in this Western Hemisphere. That's the thing about the inevitable, there is no holding it back.

Our entry into the ravine this early afternoon was nothing out of the ordinary. Last night's several rain events - one of which was a substantial downpour of a thunderstorm - is hardly to be noticed. The trails are just as dry as formerly, the earth ready to crack from several weeks of dry weather. The creek hardly appears as though it received a fresh infusion last night; it runs now at a very low ebb - lackadaisically.

Squirrels are everywhere; red, black and grey, in fall hunting mode to acquire food-storage materials for the long cold months ahead. They await our passage, eager to avail themselves of the daily peanut hand-outs. This is a true precursor to fall, brisk and windy to the point of jacket-weather, although we're only wearing long-sleeved tee-shirts - admittedly with short-sleeved tee-shirts underneath for that additional comfort zone.

Fall is suggested in the prematurely-turning leaves of trees and shrubs that have obviously been health-compromised. Their bright red, rust-curled leaves have begun to fall to the ground, leaving bare, black limbs, ready for whatever is to come. As it is always so for this time of year, fungi have begun to appear; pure white mushrooms, and those ghastly flat-headed pale blue mushrooms, as well, in the underbrush.

Fall asters are now reigning supreme, among the languishing Queen Anne's lace and the still-blooming clovers. There are the undistinguished asters in abundance, and here and there, delighting us, those delicately-toned pink and mauve ones, those with the luxuriant heads. We see minuscule colonies of bright orange fungi on tree stumps, and odd-appearing shelf fungi on an old yellow birch.

The cardinals we see and hear are beginning to moult; they sound somehow less enthusiastic, their songs less scintillatingly brilliant. But perhaps we're attributing our late-summer apprehensions to them, that famous anthropomorphizing that humans are wont to engage in when considering the other creatures with whom we share this Earth.

On our return home, I desultorily begin cleaning up the gardens of long-bloomed perennials, but simply do not feel like continuing. I gather a half-dozen ripe tomato orbs, and in the kitchen, slice them, drizzle them with olive oil, and sprinkle sweet basil from our herb garden over, to let them sit and absorb the flavours to enrich our dinnertime experience.

Then I dawdle, on the glider with little Riley beside me. Both of us completely relaxed on the deck, while my husband continues his work on the new garden shed. He has almost completed the roof shingling. We see this project, like all the others he has undertaken over the years, coming to completion.

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Monday, September 14, 2009

The Effective Pulpit

There's just something about people who find fault in general society, and do their utmost to steer people in the right direction, overlooking themselves. Like doctors, who have been assigned the task through their choice of profession, of diagnosing and healing. They're busy people, tend to eat too much like everyone else, and have little time to spend on exercising themselves. Their general health is seldom any better than that of those whom they see in their practise.

And just think back to when people who were gravely ill or those requiring intervention surgeries being admitted to hospitals where smoking was common and accepted. When non-smokers, irritated and annoyed by all the smokers around them; their doctors, other patients, even those whom they shared temporary room with in the hospital setting, had to submit to the inevitable; cigarettes everywhere, with no escape.

Hospitals where people requiring special medical intervention like surgery are received - and where, because of inadequate attention to common-sense hygienic practises, germs and viruses are rampant - where better a place to pick up an infection than a hospital? In that same hospital, the food that is served can also be injurious to one's health. All the nasty, poor-nutrition choices available anywhere, are there in blooming technicolour on one's hospital food tray.

It's not very polite to be personal in this way, but when an obviously morbidly-overweight individual identified as the 'executive director, Physical and Health Education Canada', has her photograph in the newspaper, along with an admonitory letter to the public speaking on "Ontario children's poor eating habits spur sharp warning"; a response to an article previously published, one does a double-take.

The Heart & Stroke Foundation of Ontario had commissioned a study of the health of children and youth in Canada, and published their findings. Statistics that indicated today's youth may be in poorer overall health than their parents when they become adults; more prone to exercise-deficit and weight-abundance leading to higher incidences of heart and stroke problems; adult-onset diabetes and other debilitating, life-shortening illnesses.

Those who speak with authority on the subject of health, nutrition, mobility and exercise, should also look the part. We lead by example, not by word-of-mouth. Those who take it upon themselves to represent societal needs should be prepared to preach from the pulpit of personal conviction. Which should be reflected in their personal approach to those very same topics, reflected in the most obvious way; their image.

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Sunday, September 13, 2009

It's Tough To Make Ends Meet

Pity the poor woman. She had to do something to ensure she could pay the bills. So that her family would have a decent place to live in, nutritious food to eat. And of course, everyone needs clothing, needs to have some type of vehicle to get around. And then, of course, there's the need to get away from it all. The rigours of the workplace do require that people obtain some relief from all that pressure. Shouldn't everyone be entitled to a minimum standard of living, a living wage in compensation for their efforts on behalf of public duty?

Take, for example, a public servant, a caseworker for Ontario's Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee. Now, think about it: such an individual is entrusted with the care of peoples' everyday lives, their income, their health-care services, even devices meant to therapeutically assist them, if their physical well-being has been unfortunately compromised. And their existence of course, is already compromised since these people represent the homeless, those for whom society undertakes assistance; people who are not deemed competent to look out for themselves.

Someone's got to do it, in a compassionate society, isn't that right? So welfare agencies such as the one that Preadorshani Biazer represents as a case worker are entrusted with the duty to do so. Isn't that fortunate for those socially inept, lonely and confused, homeless people for whom this woman spent her long working hours taking care of? As things stand currently, Justice John Moore is mulling over what manner of jail term he should properly bring down for this civil servant charged with breach of trust, fraud over $5,000, theft over $5,000 and laundering the proceeds of her self-emolument.

Perhaps she didn't quite understand that the funds she milked were to be used for purposes other than her own singular upkeep? Perhaps she was under the impression that the salary that she earned represented an honorarium, to be boosted by whatever funding for client services she could funnel into her personal bank account? Perhaps she wasn't sufficiently indoctrinated into the quaint social practise of civil service and service to community? Perhaps she felt offended by having to represent worthless people who were unable to establish their presence adequately in society?

In her defence, her lawyer pleaded with the judge to consider her circumstances: "There were months (Preadorshani Biazar would not have been able to pay her mortgage if she had not been taking from the system." Wouldn't the hardest heart bleed for this poor woman? Of course, she did plead guilty to the charges as laid, of defrauding 52 clients of between $1,000 to $400,000 each. Now isn't that an ambitious endeavour on behalf of one's family? And consider: this woman has three children dependent on their mother.

Whom her lawyer describes as a hard-working individual who "was able to do a lot of good for a lot of people"; those mentally incompetent homeless whose interests she represented, obviously. Obviously what they were unaware of, what they did not know, couldn't hurt them? Oh, perhaps it would make taxpayers irate, but how unreasonable can you get? Just because the average taxpayer doesn't live in a $865,000 Toronto home, drive a BMW X5, own a $30,000 speedboat, and travel to Europe, Dubai and Las Vegas. What of it?

The ordinary taxpayer obviously suffers from a lack of vision, a dearth of creative initiative. Which Ms. Biazar, mother of three, hard-working civil servant, obviously does not. Perhaps the ordinary taxpayer should think about getting a life; Ms. Biazar did. And now she can contemplate all the fun she'll be able to engage in, sentenced to penitentiary. Will she be penitent?

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Friday, September 11, 2009

One Cranky Egotist

Another story about some individual who feels hard done by.

The man, who lives in Carleton Place, not far from Ottawa, claims that the people who own and operate small shops on the main street have been the bane of his existence. Alex Allarie, at 52, old enough to be a little more sensitive to other peoples' needs, claims he suffers from anxiety and depression. Little wonder, since his aggressive attitude would make him few friends in the community he lives in. To assuage his anxiety he has a tiny companion dog, a 7-lb. chihuahua.

Dogs of any size and notably of good temperament, have a respected history of helping people who are alone to feel that there is someone with whom they can communicate, someone who gives them unstinting emotional support. They are notorious, in the best of all possible ways, for helping people to cope with life. Even better, they help people to appreciate life, sharing it with a somewhat-undemanding companion. One which, while offering support, is highly dependent on the human component of the relationship.

So at one fell swoop, dog ownership confers upon the person who undertakes to bring a dog into their house, the knowledge that one is responsible for the well-being of this dependent animal, giving additional purpose to life, while at the very same time, the animal helps its human companion enjoy life. In Mr. Allarie's case, it would appear that he feels a kind of entitlement that questions the quality of his judgement, let alone his good neighbourliness in a small community.

Animals, other than humans, simply do not mix well when food is contained in areas where dogs - always curious about food, and eager to smell it, and paw it if possible - can gain access. And most people, even dog lovers, don't think too highly of dogs roaming freely in areas where food is served, or where food is being prepared and sold. All the more so in a bulk food store. Where bins that store various food items can readily be contaminated by peoples' unwashed hands, let alone dogs' dander to which many people are allergic.

Mr. Allarie insists his tiny dog is a working dog, a service dog, and as such he should feel confident that he and his dog are accepted as such, able to breech society's general proscription against permitting animals in places where it is generally felt they should not venture. Were Mr. Allarie to have kept his little dog confined in a neat little carrying bag perhaps the merchants in town would not have been quite so incensed over his insistence that where goes he, there goes his dog.

The owners of the Granary Bulk and Natural Food store, established in the area for over thirty years, have been forced to defend their decision not to permit the man into their store with his dog which they had found on occasion wandering the store, free to sniff about as dogs do. The irate dog owner has seen fit to file a grievance with the Ontario Human Rights Commission, with the confidence that they will find in his favour, and discipline and likely fine the owners of the natural food store.

Who now say that their complaint is not so much against the presence of the dog, but rather to exercise their right to deny entry to a belligerent and trouble-prone individual who has launched complaints against other merchants in town beside themselves. It is his bellicose manner that takes them aback, more than anything. As for the little dog, it has no special training to be classed as a 'service dog' by its owner. Its very presence has a calming effect evidently, on his psychological well-being.

Enabling him to go out in public and harass and threaten law-abiding, respected merchants in the town where he lives.

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Winding Down The Gardens

Not yet, not just yet. But thinking about it. Well, truth is, I have begun cutting back some of the perennials that have well spent themselves, and as yet there have been no empty gaps resulting from that. I will, soon enough, begin the serious work of cutting back. There is still ample colour in the gardens, and I don't want to interfere with that. On the other hand, late-bloomers like Echinacea and asters and turtleheads have spread so widely in some places that they've interfered with the needs of sun-loving plants like roses.

It's true, however, that though the roses are continuing to bloom, some of them have their best days behind them - quite apart from their June-spectacular bloom. Where I've taken down much of the still-blooming tickseed, it has hugely benefited the undergrowth of wax begonias, tuberous begonias and dianthus. The lone datura that I permitted to come to maturity is rewarding us with its spectacular white-tubular blooms, lovely and deadly - but who eats them, we merely admire them.

The Japanese quince have now fully matured, and they're hanging there, ready to be plucked for use. Which is fine, if you're really enthusiastic about dry, bitter-tasting fruit; surely they're not really meant for human consumption? Riley, our little apricot poodle, used to pull them off their prickly perches when he was young, and then he would play with them for the longest time, tossing them about as though they were balls especially meant for dogs to play with. He no longer evinces an interest.

The gallardia in the the little garden that contains the datura, is bravely blooming, its bright orange colours, lined with chocolate streaks a lovely counterpart to the Stella d'Oro lilies, and the huge leaves of the lime-coloured hostas on either side of the red-tinged heuchera.

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