Saturday, April 18, 2015

On A Bit of an Animal Adventure

As the title says....  And maybe more like a mother - young animal adventure.....

It started last Thursday when my class went on a field trip to a local dairy farmer's operation a few kilometres from the school.  We hit up the Angst Farm for a bit of an education on dairy farming and the process there-of.  It was very fun.  Peter and Denise are two great people.  They have quite an operation with 60 milkers, and a bunch of heifers, and some calves too obviously.  Their milking machine is robotic and the ladies get their udders empty as and when they want to or feel the need to do so.  The seminar was about 75 mins. long and we got to see a wide variety of the aspects of this way of life.

A calf was born about 10 minutes just before we got there.  Apparently mother and young are only together for about 12 hours - sometime less.  Just enough time to get it up and walking, licked clean, and a drink of milk...  Then it is off to a smaller pen.  Off without their mothers.  Forever.  It does not sound that right....  No other mammal really operates like that.  There are rare occasions like human adoption when quick separation like that occurs.  Maybe in the wild many mothers abandon their young if they sense disease, illness or some other threat.  But generally it is not the case.  However many people enjoy their dairy products and simply do mind or care this practice goes on.

On Friday it was off to Clinton to the Reach Centre to watch a Medieval Times presentation.  Lots of horses of course, but there was also a Falconer too.  He was pretty interesting.  He brought out a falcon or hawk or some sort that is quite the star in Hollywood - the guy was very pleased to tell everyone that it had been in a movie with Nicolas Cage (probably more like a scene for 2 seconds...) recently, he brought out a golden eagle which was 27 years old, and lastly, he brought out a turkey vulture.  That is where and when he lost my credibility.  Turkey vultures are all too common in southwestern Ontario.  Heck you can be driving in your car and they will be eating a dead skunk on the side of the road and not even move.  What was next a trained crow?  I wasn't too impressed with the turkey vulture.  And that actor falcon of his - it will also be the official mascot for that Toronto soccer team this summer so "watch for him on TSN".  Okay buddy.  I will.

So this falconer stood out because he was quite in love with his birds, and the only cast member without super long hair and a beard.

On Saturday we loaded up and went out to Port Albert where they had the fish ladder going.  It is a process of tagging, marking, and collecting fish roe and semen for the hatcheries in the area.  There were lots of good sized fish and the samples were satisfactory I suppose.  Lots of people generally go and watch the process.  Again, humans are odd in many ways.  I look at it as a type of  socially acceptable voyeurism.  I didn't take any pictures though - that'd be wrong!  But it was a beauty of a day and we ran into a few other pervs, I mean people I know.  Good on them fish.

We skidded east of Port Albert to check on the flock of lambs out at Larry's.  It looked as if everyone there had a great arrival into this world and they seemed happy to see us too. The horses were outside getting some sun, the casts were in the barn, and there were a few chickens there too picking away at this and that off the ground.


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Mid April

Halfway through the month - unbelievable.  These days in some regard seem to drag on.  The sleepless nights (Shelly + Wally) and the crying is growing old, but I fear there are a few more months of unsettled life. Wally fights and fights every step of the way.

We all had a terrific Easter weekend.  Lighthouse Street was opened up and the Johnston's came over and we were more than able to accommodate, space and feed the bunch.  It wouldn't have been possible on Quebec Street  - well not as possible.  Nothing is impossible I suppose.  There was maximum food and drink, and minimum squawking and complaining.

It was good having a huge breakfast scoff with the Beasley's and Coup's too on Easter weekend.  We got Molly this V-Tec kids digital camera.  We got it at a scratch and dent type store for $12 or something.  Well wouldn't you know it was full of pictures from the family who once owned it before it found its way to this liquidation store that we got it from...  And we had a great visit with the Guelph crew of Trista and the donkeys.

Over the past few weeks we have really went to town purging and cleaning up the backyard.  There was quite a lot of waste to get rid of, limbs to trim, trees to pull out or cut, and so on.  I explained to my neighbour that this is just like cutting hair - it will grow back.  But he is in his mid 70s and wasn't so confident of my analogy.  However for me and what I am used to, it will come back.

The motorbike is running fine.  It loves the cold air.  I have gone through a tank of gas anyway so far this year.  Not too much.  I had it in my mind to really give it a go last weekend because I had the time, but I got a bit cold.  Hopefully I will have more than enough warm weather and time coming over the next few months.

At school today we had a guest entertainer/assembly.  A country music talent named Ryan Laird.  He has an anti-bullying message, coupled with fantastic music.  I was asked to bring in my amp and whatnot for him to use.  I don't know exactly what it is called, but it is a Bose, and you can plug your guitar and microphone into it and it is really portable and good.....  We got it as a wedding gift and it really is quite the system.  At any rate I was a bit taken back that I had to bring it to school for this guy to use.  (Well, not exactly - it was just that he requested a system of some sort be available for him to have his sound travel through....)  He had a custom Cithara guitar [$3k ? at least..], he has professional videos, he was found/or has worked with Taylor Swift by the sounds of it, he has toured with serious country musicians, obviously has management and an agent representation, and the like....  So, ya, I figure an amp and microphone plug in thingy would be the least of his concerns...  To make this long story short he used my system = Well I'll tell you, sound has never ever been so clear out of that thing until he put it to use.  Now I am not saying it was cool that he used my gear, but it sort of was.  And it really does sound awesome.  It filled the entire gymnasium - and clearly.

2 of these 3 boys bought us the sound system - Thanks AJ and Lyndon..

And to finish the story - Ryan is an amazingly talented musician...  The message was well received by the students...  The assembly was great....  He is a songwriter and a musician....  I got chit-chatting with him and he was very nice....  That's it.  Oh, and also his guitar slipped out of its strap, fell to the ground, and broke the patch cord/cable end (the steel part which goes) to the amp = Roady Drew was to the rescue and I let him use mine!  To think what would have happened today if it wasn't for my equipment and me....  It was a good thing I was around.

Again - too much time in between postings.  A friend who reads this blog just said to me last night that she has checked it out a few times and nothing.  Well nothing new.  So Amy - thanks for reminding me and I will do a bit better.  *Tell Jeff that I really want to go see the new Mad Max too.....

Thursday, March 19, 2015

March Break

There has been lots to write about - and I know a few three or four care and expect and want the updates, so this posting comes late and with some apologies that I haven't written a few things in the past month, plus.  However it is the March Break in Ontario and you would think that has left me with plenty of time and opportunities to get out and going.  And it has....  But it is a bit different this year.

Since I have last written I have hit up Toronto and went to the motorcycle show, Windsor to watch the CIAU Track and Field Championships, and some day trips to London and Stratford to poke around at this, that and the other.

Toronto was fun.  The motorcycle show had all the eye candy, gear, paraphernalia, chrome, and such that a guy/gal could need.  I watch a few demonstrations of stunt street riders, trial riders, and the OPP Golden Helmets who have incredible skills on a 600 lb motorcycle.  Of course every manufacturer was also there and plenty of companies who sell the all important "add-ons" to complete your riding attire or theme.  I picked up a book, of all things, written by a Canadian who rode 5 years, 140,000 km, around the world and back again.  It was an interesting account of financial planning, love, motorcycle repair, local flavour and world culture all knitted together nicely.  He had no real sponsors, or no support or crew, but managed to find his way.  It is called The University of Gravel Roads by Rene Cormier.

And Windsor was a great, great trip just the other weekend.  Ex-Lancer alum Phil Dalton and I made the trip and it was a great, great time.  The action on the track did not disappoint, and seeing a whole whack of familiar faces was super as well.  I was very pleased to see that everybody from whom I met in the fall up in Goderich was doing well, and it was also nice to see lots of current and former coaches at the track.  It is always surprising who you don't see, rather then the ones you do.  However it was the start of the March Break and most people do not have their lives planned around an event like this.  I am really glad to have attended and seen the folks I saw.  I was a tightly packed 30 hours or so, but well worth it.

And things around home are rolling fine.  Half of the snow is all melted which is nice - although there is the odd drip and leak in the basement.  I have to think it is just melting from outside and getting in...  Everything is so dirty.  We need a good rain to clean up the streets and get that dusty/sandy deposit off of the streets.

I had my motorbike out for a spin the other day.  I put the battery in and it fired up.  It weather the winter well I guess because it had no hesitation or stumbles when it was throttled.  In fact it runs so much better in the cold weather as compared to the hot summer.  The cold air over the intake gives it more life I am sure.

So ya - Molly and Wally are well.  Wally is finding himself and finding his way.  Not with me though.  Oh no. There is zero, nothing, zilch I can do to please or satisfy whatever it is that is exasperating him.  I look at him and he cries.  I change him and he wails.  I hold him and he flails and fusses.  I do bathe him with very little trouble.  That is about it.  But he really can get loud and worked up for such a small kid.  Although I seem to think he isn't that small.  People tell us he seems big; that they think he has grown....  But I suppose that is a common statement and observation in the position we are in.  Next time I will post some quantitative stats on height, length and weight.

Molly has changed a bit.  Again, another obvious statement I am sure.  She is a bit more trying and testing. She has resorted into many "donkey-ish" behaviours...  Her over excitement and enthusiasm is getting the best of her.  However, she is not that bad - she has never chucked a harry in public or has been rude.  She never bites or hits - but she will get to and go to that area which pushes buttons....  She doesn't always get on with her cousins or neighbour friends as nice as they are (to her) in comparison.  She'll know what bothers them, and seemingly do it on purpose.

Things here with Shelly, and I, are great.  We continually mention that it is so great being in this house we are in.  It just is nice.  It has everything, but it isn't like it is super fancy or opulent.  The greenhouse was like 25 degrees centigrade today, while it was 5 degrees outside.  It is nice to have a garage to store stuff in.  We are starting to get things organized a bit and we will start some plants in the next few weeks.  Nothing major, just some flowers, tomatoes, herbs, and such.  


Friday, January 30, 2015

End of January

Pretty fortunate to finish off with a snow day today.  It was quite windy and there was some snow accumulation.  however I never did search out and see if the highways were closed.  My work, and there is plenty of it, was done at the comfort of home, and the Goderich Library. 

There isn't even close to the snowfall of last year however.  But I was out with the snow blower to make sure the driveway is accessible to those coming and going.  And we have had quite the steady stream and supply of people over.
So the steady stream of relatives have been mostly represented by the Johnston side of the tree.  But my grandma has been over, and for friends there has been far too many to mention accurately.  Off the top of my head the Grails, Tremainiacs, Kelly, Darby, and Hank, the Grails again....

Wally is doing well.  There are no stories of 5 hour plus stretches of sleep or quiet time...Nothing to write about a cool, calm demeanor who barely fusses...  Each day has stayed the same, seemingly no progress has been made....  But all in all his extremes don't seem that bad, and are just probably regular attention seeking cues for his age.  For needing relatively so little at 3 weeks; food, cleanliness, warmth, being dry, a mother's love, sleep, he gets pretty worked up when one or a combination of them aren't immediately provided.  And especially at night!
*Weed whacker ear protection does not work for a screaming child...  Trust me, I have tried.  Molly is learning the same lesson.


Sunday, January 11, 2015

I researched back a few years to see what I wrote when Molly was born.  At the time there was a news story, and website, indicating that the world's 7 billionth person was going to be born in a matter of weeks. I guess it was weeks.  Low and behold the website is still live and pumping out numbers at alarming rates.

The numbers for Wally show he is the 7,246,419,973rd person currently on earth, and overall, the 83,648,877,411th person to have lived since history began.  Check it out for yourself if you like at

Even if the website has a margin of error between 3 and 6 per cent, that is still a heck of a lot of people. 

Wally is doing just fine, still.  All of the grandparents have been over.  Nothing else really.

Few Pictures

It wasn't too long after I wrote that last post that Shelly was waking me up after 1:00 am saying she had to get to the hospital.  I dismissed her painful plea as indigestion.  By 3:00 she was telling me to get the hell moving, and call my mom to mind the house and Molly - we were on the go!

It was a quiet night at the hospital.  The nurses were more than happy, and extra, more than extra capable of dealing with this situation. 

Skipping 7hrs worth of craziness....

10:23 am - 8lbs 9oz and 21 inches long.  We didn't really have a name firmed up so we left him as the boy for a day.  Later that night we bounced around some family names and other options.  I had thought about Walter for a month or two.  Walter can be called Walt or Wally; 3 decent options.  I have been calling him Wally.  No papers have been officially signed, but it looks like Walter Johnston Macaulay with a few first name options depending on what people's pleasure is.  I like the ring of Wally Macaulay, and I like that it rhymes with Molly.  I think it is a decent name.  And later in life, or in elementary school, if he wants to go by Walt or Walter, that will be fine.
It was unbelievable.  There is so much more of a story because Shelly was supposed to get to London to deliver, but all the roads were closed and the ambulance wasn't going to get through.  Needless to say there was no trip to London.  He was born in Goderich.  He really looks a lot like Molly did, but he does look like a boy just as much too.

It is such a bounding experience with your partner to be there when something like this happens.  It opened my eyes to a whole new world.  I didn't know what to expect.  It did surprise me in some regards, but just the same I knew it wasn't going to be all roses.  The encouragement and teamwork involved was something that struck me.  Also noted was even though it is extremely physical, more importantly is the mental planning and conditioning, more so for Shelly, to push and persevere when you don't think you can take it or go further.  You really have to be in a (mental) place to accept what is coming and not giving in.  So that is the big part of advice that I would recommend.  Then again I wasn't pushing a 9lbs, 21 inch long mass out of a birth canal.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

A Few Snow Days

It has been a very sporadic week of work.  Monday was a snow day, Tuesday I went out with kids, and Wednesday/Thursday have also been off.  As I write, Thursday, it is still quite windy and roads are closed.  Last year there were 4 snow days this week, and it is looking to be the same....  We'll see. 

There really isn't that much snow however.  Only about 20 cm maximum has fallen.  I have only had the snow blower out and cranked up once.  I have just been shoveling and hand bombing what snow has fallen, but most blew in the driveway for the most part.  So it has been quite manageable in that sense.  But boy has it been windy.  Most of the highways have been closed.  Or at least parts of them have been in between various committees in Huron and Perth counties - It is a dam good thing I haven't had to drive to London with Shelly.  Although I really think I have completely just jinx myself.

On that topic, Shelly's due date basically is/was today according to one of the methods of calculation.  The other date is the tenth of January.  It doesn't make too much sense to me why or how there are two different dates, however it appears to be the case.  Quantitative representation (by Shelly) has always been a skewed in my opinion over the years.  Numbers, times, dates, money amounts have always been subject to a more or less interpretation.  So for all I this baby may be here at Valentine's Day.  Maybe the weather will be more agreeable when it does come.

We are all doing very well though.  It is a big year and there is lots going on.  I am most looking forward to a potential big trip in August to France, the sabbatical from work, and of course some fall travel solo and with the whole family to some exotic location...