Sunday, May 27, 2012

Giant Cecropia Emerges

We Are Excited
In August of 2011, I entered a post showing the caterpillar of the cecropia moth. I placed it in a bottle to show our grandchildren the next day. They never did see it because when they arrived it had already spun itself into a cocoon. It was left outside over the winter and earlier this spring I carefully cut the cocoon out of the bottle (it was too small for the moth to emerge) and glued it to a stick that I then stuck in a potted plant. Then we waited and waited. I had almost given up hope when today – May 27, 2012 – the beautiful moth emerged.
A couple of pictures are included here, but if you want to see more, visit my album at!/oa/6545675/mode/gallery/
I will leave the album on line for a month or so, and there is no password required to visit or download if you want.
Nature is truly wonderful!
You can enlarge these pictures by clicking once, and then again to get full size.
This is the cocoon awaiting the emergence of the moth
Voila - in all its splendor

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Granddaughters sing

Singing for Grandpa!
The files for these videos are too large to post in the blog, so you can see them on youtube. The videos are very casual, just performing for me in our living room, and of course their snoopy little dog has to show up in each.
In one video, Ashleigh and Morgan sing a song made popular by Alison Krauss - "I'm Just A Ghost In This House". In the other video, Ashleigh sings a shortened version of "I dont feel like loving you today", by Gretchen Wilson.
Here are the links. I hope you enjoy.
"I dont feel like lovin you today"
"Ghost in this house".
They have several other videos on youtube you may want to watch also.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Sleepng Children Around The World ( SCAW )

Sleepng Children Around The World ( SCAW )

While chatting with an aquaintance at a concert recently, I asked about his brother Mike, and a very interesting story came out. About 2 years ago, Mike Slocombe of Bowmanville Ontario was a donor to a “Time & Talent” auction for their church. He offered to drive anyone going to the airport, in their own car, return the car to his home where he would thoroughly clean it inside and out, and pick them up on their return. I do not know how many trips he had on offer, but it was a great success and was quickly sold out.
Subsequently, another lady contacted him and said she was sorry she had missed out.
Would Mike consider taking her to the airport and she would pay him. Mike told her he would be glad to do this, but would not accept pay for it. She insisted that she pay something, and they reached an agreement whereby she would purchase a couple of bedkits for donation to an organization called SCAW (Sleeping Children Around The World).
This was the start of an ongoing program and a passion for Mike, who has since donated or caused to be donated many many kits. I know that his wife Janice is also wholly involved in assisting Mike in this venture, and I am sure they both feel a great sense of fullfillment.
Currently Mike requests that a minimum contribution be made to the charity to provide for three bed kits, however some willingly provide more.
Mike provides this service at any hour of the day or night, and in fact likes the very early and very late deliveries because traffic is at a minimum in those hours. The clients love the service because it provides them with a cost saving alternative to parking at the airport, they know their vehicle is safe, and they know they will be delivered on time, and picked up when they arrive. This is a real win/win situation for everyone.
If you do not know about SCAW, it was founded by Margaret and Murray Dryden in 1970 (their two sons played hockey – you might remember Ken & Dave!). This registered charity guarantees that 100% of all donations are applied – there are no paid administrators – even the volunteers who travel to other countries to give out the kits pay all their own expenses.If you are interested in finding out more, go to - they have a wonderful story to tell! Who knows, you may get an inspiration! You might even decide to copy what Mike does, but be aware –
Mike OWNS Bowmanville!
(For your information it is important that anyone considering doing this, should do it in the client's car. This will protect them from insurance issues. the unfortunate real world.)

Thursday, March 1, 2012


And other shaving stuff.
 In the early 1960’s I inherited a straight razor. Nothing special, but it was a fine instrument. When I saw another at a flea market I bought it. Soon I had several and found myself looking for them. My interest widened to any shaving memoribilia including blades, safety razors of all types, barbers bottles, advertising posters, sharpeners etc.
I soon learned not to tell friends what I was collecting because people laughed when I told them. It was not until I found a book on shaving artifacts that I realized there were other people in the world that had the same affliction. During the following years my collection took over one room in our house and included a big old barber’s chair.
When I was on business travel in various parts of the world and had some spare time I haunted antique stores in search of more treasures. My good friend Mike started buying razors for me, but soon found that he enjoyed the pursuit so much that he started his own extensive collection.
After retirement, I decided it was time to let others enjoy my collection and started selling piece by piece on Ebay. My first sale was a Marvel Safety Razor set that originally sold for .15 cents, and for which I paid under a dollar. I was more than a little shocked when it was bought by a collector for a big price.
I could ramble on all day and fill many pages on the delights of the search, the thrill of acquisition, the joy of ownership, and the pride in displaying, but I will not.
I have had thousands of pieces in my collection, and if you are thinking of the plain black handled straight razor that your grandfathers used – think again when you look at these few pictures. They are a tiny representation of the many finely crafted and elegantly styled straight razors that were prized by men of earlier generations, and many of which are still being used today by men who want the ritual and the wonderful shave only available by using one of these instruments.
As a footnote I would add that the variety and complexity of safety razors is equally interesting. If interested, google Roy Ritchie and Ron Stewart’s book “straight razor collecting”. One section contains pictures of some of my razors!
                                             Beautiful example of early 1900s ivory handled
This one, believe it or not, is late 1700's or very early 1800's with silver inlays and real tortoise shell handle
                                                 Another early 1900s with a snake handle
              Quite rare, this shotgun handled razor from the early 1900s is highly sought by collectors
                          A gorgeous ivory handled set with silver pins inlaid is from approximately 1840.
This is an example of a later razor, likely 1920s or 30s with art deco handle and beautifully shaped blade

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

More Conscience & Consequences

We all have things in our past we wish we could change. Anka wrote, and Sinatra sang “Regrets, I’ve got a few, but then again, too few to mention”. I guess they were either lucky or saints. I know I have lots of regrets - things I did or said, or things that I could have done or said but did not – and when the memories flash in my mind now, I cringe – generally things that no one else would even remember or care about - not important to anyone but me.
However, sometimes people do or say things that are important to others, and those memories can cause embarassment, regret, or severe guilt.
After the previous post, I was contacted with another story.
The gentleman involved in this instance owned and operated for many years an automotive supply business, dealing with service stations, garages, body shops, and anything related.
A customer had purchased a piece of equipment that for some reason malfunctioned or simply did not work properly. Perhaps he was having a very bad day, or the equipment malfunction caused a loss of income, or maybe he just had anger management issues. Whatever the cause, when he could not contact the owner who was away on business, he spoke to the owners wife, and during his rant at her, he stated that he “would like to kill” her husband! Did he mean it literally? Probably not. Still, those words could not be recalled.
This took place a very long time ago, and while the equipment issue was subsequently resolved, the words still hung in the air.
They have met on many occasions since that time, but it was only last week that the man approached the owner, now long retired, to express his “deep regret” at those hateful and frightening words.
There is an old adage that says “confession is good for the soul”. I guess you could turn that around and say that keeping guilt inside without attempting to make amends is soul sickening. Conscience is our personal moral compass. It may not prevent us from doing or saying something rash, but it can direct us to the appropriate way to get rid of that terrible feeling of guilt or shame.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Conscience & Consequences

Recently, a friend (we will call him Bob) told us a remarkable story of deceit, guilt, and atonement.
Walking with his wife on the main street of a small town, he was approached by a man who called him by name. Although he did not recognize the man by face, he did recognize his voice. The man asked him if he could talk to him for a few minutes, which they did.
More than 40 years ago, Bob had been in a car accident at night when another car with two male occupants came from a side street and they collided. No one was hurt, although the car was totalled. Bob turned off the ignition in the still running vehicle, turned off the lights, and got out to wait for the police.
The other driver was charged, and when it came to court, the other driver, and his passenger told the judge that Bob had been driving without lights. Their case was dismissed.
Several years later, Bob received $1,000.00 in his mailbox from an anonymous source, which he puzzled over for a long time and then forgot.
You have likely guessed by now that the person who stopped him on the street that day was the driver of that vehicle many years ago.
He told Bob that he had not had peace of mind in all those years. He was the source of the money left in Bob’s mailbox, but that had not eased his conscience. He is now a respected businessman in that community, and when he saw Bob on the street, he took the opportunity to make his confession. He also told Bob that because of the guilt he suffered he had worked extra hard to be a “good man” for all the following years.
There are lots of elements in this simple story.
Consequences of our actions - Guilt as a life spoiler - Conscience - Confession -Atonement.
I admit to an admiration and respect for this man who did wrong, suffered for it, and has spent his life trying to atone.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Notable Books of 2011

Come Read With Me
These are books I read in 2011, but not all were new in that year.
My library record shows that I borrowed 151 books during the year. Those listed below are books that stand out in my memory when I look at the whole list. I will not attempt to do any kind of extensive review of them – you can find reviews on line. There were many other fine books on the list, but these were the standouts.
I find that as time passes, I want fiction books that provide several things – noble heroes and heroines that win, bad people that lose, some poetic revenge is always good, and happy endings.
I want murder mysteries to define the chase – not the details of the atrocities.
I want authors that do not get in the way of the reader if you know what I mean.
I want to feel satisfied at the end.
1. The girl who kicked the hornet's nest -Stieg Larsson –so well known nothing needs be said
2. The friends of meagre fortune - David Adams Richards – a Canadian tale of lumbering and lumbermen in past days.
3. The confession - John Grisham – includes a powerful indictment of Texas for it’s record of executing murderers.
4. Paganini's ghost - Paul Adam .Lots of interesting information about violin making as well as a good mystery
5. Snakewoman of Little Egypt - Robert Hellenga. A rather bizarre story of snake handling sects in America – makes an interesting read
6. Revenge of the lobster lover - Hilary MacLeod .A lighthearted Canadian murder mystery set in PEI
7. The best laid plans -Terry Fallis. A hilarious account of a reluctant Canadian politician
8. Pacific glory - Peter T Deutermann. Historical fiction – the battle of Midway – terrific!
9. The high road - Terry Fallis. A sequal to “The Best Laid Plans” (above). Equally hilarious
10. Unbroken - Laura Hillenbrand. A non fiction account of a Unique American from WW11
11. From the far side of the river - Paul Quarrington. A Canadian author’s short stories of fishing. Quarrington is, surprisingly, not well known despite his many literature awards. Now deceased. Look him up on the net for his books (including Whale Music), and his music.
12. The Beothuk saga - Bernard Assiniwi. Historical fiction by a Native Canadian about the Beothuks (now extinct) of Newfoundland
13. The octave of all souls - Robert Eady. A story of a small Canadian town. Highly entertaining & nostalgic
14. The good son - Michael Gruber. A different viewpoint of split allegiances as well as terrorism. Worth the read
15. The evolution of Bruno Littlemore - Benjamin Hale. From ape to human – will disturb many readers, but probes deeply into what makes a “Human”
16. Thunderstruck - Erik Larson. Non fiction that reads like fiction - the stories of two men—Dr.Hawley Crippen, murderer, and Guglielmo Marconi, the obsessive creator of the wireless telegraph. Highly recommend!
17. Caleb's crossing - Geraldine Brooks. Historical fiction and well worth reading for the details of life in that era in America, and especially relating to Harvard University.
18. A lonely death Charles Todd. A murder mystery, but more compelling is the traumatic after affects of WW1 on the characters
19. Sailing alone around the room - Billy Collins. Poetry. Wonderful, glorious, riotous, humerous, nostalgic. A must for poetry lovers!
20. High plains tango - Robert JamesWaller. From “The Bridges of Madison County” author comes this book that got lots of bad reviews by critics. Still, I LOVED it! Hits all my buttons.
21. A Redbird Christmas - Fannie Flagg. A great way to end the reading year. Flagg never fails to picture small towns and small town people in a wonderfully warm way. This is a “feel good” book.
22. Miles To Go - Richard Paul Evans. While this is actually a sequel, it is a good stand alone read.

I am currently halfway through Bill Bryson’s book – At Home. Great so far, but that will have to wait for the 2012 review.