A longtime rural resident, I use my 60 plus years of life learning to opinionate here and elsewhere on the “interweb” on everything from politics to environmental issues. A believer in reasonable discourse rather than unhelpful attacks I try to give positive input to the blogesphere, so feel free to comment upon rural issues or anything else posted here. But don’t be surprised if you comments get zapped if you are not polite in your replys.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Shameless Self Promotion

Between assembling articles for our new blog Democracy Under Fire, starting to clear our trails of the winter debris, chipping the leftover branches from the pines recently sawn into lumber for various projects, starting the annual fight with the twitch grass in our perennial beds, creating several new gardens for the Rhododendrons and Azaleas grown from seed 3 years ago and now ready for a permanent spot, checking over our stock of lawnmowers and trimmers for sale and several other of the usual spring chores I simply have not been blogging here as much. Phew, even the list makes me feel tired!

My blogging partner from the Democracy blog seems to be in much the same boat out in BC, she just held a course on Permaculture and started a blog about it, has been busy blogging about her increasing family of chickens, rabbits and other strays as well as getting involved in discussions about the BC vote on STV. Seems we both need to focus on one thing at a time but that is hard to do when you really want to “do it all”!

Fortunately here in SW Ontario the sunny days have been interspersed with rainy days, forcing me inside for a sorely need rest of the old bones and giving me time to catch up with the blogospere. We even found a little time to walk the trails WITHOUT the chainsaw and enjoy the spring flowers. The Hepatica are now all but done but the Trout Lilly’s and Bloodroot are out, the Trilliums and Bellwort are showing colour and the Orchids and Violets are green and poking up through the layer of fallen leaves from the fall.

So I hope you enjoy this post, visit some of the links provided, consider visiting us for your lawn and garden equipment repairs or if you need a good used mower or trimmer; or even simply come tour our trails during the next few week when the woodland flower show can only be called spectacular. Meanwhile sorry if it gets kinda quiet here but I am Just a Little bit Busy!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Its nice to be heard!

Most of us who have a personal blog do not really expect to gather a great following or have an enormous impact upon the few readers who may stumble upon our ramblings, so it is a pleasant surprise when we get a response to one of our posts. A little while ago I wrote a critical commentary about a flyer I had received from “The Rural Secretariat”. I did not say anything earth shattering, I just bemoaned the fact that the links contained therein were not that useful. Imagine my surprise when I was contacted by said Government body with a request for a dialog upon my thoughts about the flyer and related matters.

“Steve” and I spoke at some length on the phone about the difficulties in communicating such initiatives to rural residents, the joys of internet compatibility for dial up users, the things that this small (9 people for all of Canada) department is trying to do and even what really constitutes “rural”. Not only was I impressed that Steve found and read my blog, but that given my remarks he had taken the time to get in touch and find out more about my concerns. That he was friendly and easy to talk to, open to ideas and future dialog and expressed the intention to put my blog rantings before his colleagues for discussion made this one of the most interesting and pleasant conversations I have had with a “public servant”. Thanks Steve!

Having talked briefly about the Senate report about rural poverty (it's much more than that) he directed me to another report on rural issues which I had not heard of before. The report entitled “One Vision, Many Voices” (PDF 3.9Mb) originated from the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties national symposium – Rural Matters! Forging Healthy Canadian Communities and included speakers and delegates from across the country. They came up with a number of suggestions on supporting our rural communities which meshes closely with that Senate report (Senator Fairbairn in fact made a presentation regarding just that) and I am told that there MAY be some movement towards implementing some of these suggestions. They are at least being talked about by those in government concerned with such matters, I do hope that these two reports and their recommendations do not go the usual route of such things and gradually get left by the wayside, so that bit a least was good news.

The One Vision report is going to take a little while to absorb and I will write more about it in the future, either here or at Shanejolly.com if that local “sustainability” blog ever emerges from “maintenance”! In the meanwhile I will add just one more request (apart from my already expressed thoughts regarding that “flash” content.) for the guys at the secretariat and the various supporting organizations – If you must put documents up in PDF format PLEASE tell us how big they are so that we know whether we are going to tie our phone line up for 2 minutes or, as in this case, 20 minutes. Oh, and a summary html page would be real nice to give us a clue about content BEFORE downloading would be nice!

Dialog on supporting and enhancing our rural communities is important and "The Rural Canadian" is always open for such discussions.

Saturday, April 18, 2009


…has arrived in SW Ontario, at least for now. I for one will not be fully convinced till the end of May, having had my tomatoes frosted off after the May long weekend, but a recent hike through our bush has me most optimistic!

A recent gentle stroll down the trails through our 30 acres of pine and hardwood bush revealed a particularly fine showing of Hepatica flowers poking up through the dead leaves of fall, the wild leeks are showing green and a careful examination will reveal the Blue Cohosh and the Trilliums just poking through. That long sunless winter is finally a thing of the past, and like the flowers the things to be done are also springing up, having taken the opportunity of an open week last month to take a few of our larger pines out to “let the light in” and to give the old man some materials to build “stuff” for sale (this household being like many others and looking for additional income) we had the saw mill in last week to cut it into usable lumber. It was a tough two or three days on this old body, between handling the logs and boards and cleaning up the slab wood after, it was a good job I had some younger bones to help me out. Must be getting old, or tired, or lazy, or…….

Then our little hike revealed several trees blown over in winter storms down across our trails, or laying close, teasing me by calling “next years fire wood, fire wood, come get me!”. With such “little” jobs calling there is no difficulty filling our days, the difficulty comes in finding enough energy to do it all, I find that at my age (not telling you, but lets just say that some days I feel older than others!) I am good for 3 or 4 hours of steady physical labour before I feel a blogging moment coming on, where an hour sitting in front of the keyboard thinking about what to write puts a whole new spring in my step….for at least the next 10 Min!

This whole thing is my way of saying that its so bloody good to be outside DOING something that’s its hard to not try and do it all in one day, the pant size that increased 2” over the last 5 or 6 months now is shrinking by the day and the winter blahs are a thing of the past. No shrink needed, just give me a stroll in the woods with the spring flowers poking up through and I am good to go for another 6 months.

Strangely I even feel less inclined to bitch about our political “masters”, the over paid auto “worker” who cannot survive on less than $100 thousand a year. Even the total lack of jobs in our rural county bothers me much less when the sun is out, is this why some of our politicians think that the sun shines out their ……… oh well never mind, I was trying to leave that shit behind for at least one post!

Anyway folks, if you happen to be within traveling distance of us here in Grey Bruce Counties of Ontario and want to get that spring feeling do take a look at some of the pics of our trails and consider visiting, we would be glad to show you around and give you that “spring feeling”. If on the other hand you want to get your feeling about the demise of our democracy off your chest and a good rant will make you feel better, then feel free to visit our new blog Democracy under Fire where opinions and articles about Canadian Democracy can be found.

Do please enjoy the spring weather, the spring flowers and the spring feeling, just like most things in this life it will be fleeting, make the best of it whilst you can!

Spring………… YAhoooooooo

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Not so Independent?

Tip o the Hat to Impolitcal for noting that the Federal Court decided not hear Linda Keens case regarding her firing as president of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission. They determined that it was “fair”. Whilst the details of their ruling have not been released the question remains - If a Minister can arbitrarily dismiss the head of an “Independent Commission” without due process exactly how independent can said commission be?

Keen was fired from the commission’s top job by the Harper government in January 2008 after the commission forced a shutdown at a Chalk River reactor that produces vital isotopes for medical uses.

Keen’s lawyers contended that the fundamental issue for the court is whether the federal cabinet can dismiss the head of an independent, quasi-judicial tribunal because she refused three ministerial directives to “illegally” restart an aging isotope-producing reactor at Chalk River before its operational safety could be demonstrated.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Thinking Rural

A month or so ago I received a “flyer” from Agri-Food Canada entitled “Thinking Rural and Remote" promoting a number of government initiatives aimed at rural Ontarians. I thought “now there is something we need, I must check this out”. Now having done just that I must say I am not only disappointed but actual annoyed by the whole thing.

Lets just take a couple of the items, go to their web sites and see what’s its all about. Front and center is a bit about the “Rural Secretariat, a focal point for the government of Canada to work in partnership with Canadians in rural areas”. Great! However when you visit their web site we see much self promotion including a long list of organizations with which they work, but guess what? Not one link to any of those entities so that us rural folk can see what’s in the works or have an input to that “partnership”, just pages telling us how they “work with a broad range of clients”. If we look at the Programs section we get this “Rural Partnership Development Program - The final deadline date to submit an application for this program was November 30, 2008. Applications are no longer being accepted.” Well now that’s real helpful!

Then there is the Community Information Databank “it your community and your information”, yep, unless you are a rural dial up user! The whole site and information retrieval runs under that dreaded curse to dialuppers the “Flash Player”. Hmmmm scratch looking at that info.

How about “Rural Team Ontario, Comprised of representatives of 13 federal agencies and 8 provincial ministries.” Team members organize workshops, engage citizens, conduct research etc etc etc. But no links or information to said engagement or research are included on the flyer. Call me cynical but this sounds like beurcratic BS to me, look what we are doing, but not too closely!

Then there is “Joining the Global Village” a bit about hooking up remote communities to broadband internet and telephone. A great thing for those mostly native communities mentioned in the piece in the remote north who do indeed need this resource available, but then here I am just 3 or 4 miles from a major highway in SW Ontario and ½ hour drive from a good size city and can I get High speed internet, no chance! Not only that but not having cable I now learn that shortly my choice of television content (local news has already all but gone by the wayside) will be reduced to possibly one station due to the closure of rebroadcasting towers in this area.

Finally I checked one of the links given for Rural Learning, with so many rural schools up for “amalgamation” with larger (and more distant) schools I thought there may be some good support here, but no, just information about The Rural Learning Association and its membership but very little about actual practical assistance to the rural community.

My header says I am one of the rural minority, that’s no lie, increasingly rural residents are falling through the cracks because they are increasingly more and more of a minority and this bit of self congratulatory BS from our government does not make me feel any better. The whole thing was a total waste of paper, waste of good electrons, and more importantly a waste of tax payers money.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Herding Cats!

The folowing is part of a post on the Green Party Blog and in my view sums it up so eloquently that all those sheep should read it and consider which it is that they wish to be…..

“Managing a political party is a lot like herding cats. You're basically dealing with a horde of highly opinionated, independently-minded individualists each with their own ideas on how things should work and what's the best way to do things. Somehow you've got to get them all moving and working together if you're going to arrive at your intended destination: getting elected. At the same time you've got to respect the independence and free spirit of the individuals in your herd. Good party leaders have to be good cat herders.”

“The big risk is the fine line between being a cat herder and being a shepherd. Harper and Ignatieff are shepherds. They treat their party members like sheep - dumb animals with no independent will or individuality. They drive them and employ party enforcers to act as sheepdogs, nipping the heels of those who stray. The new code-phrase for this in the Conservative and Liberal folds is Party Discipline. It a phrase I quickly tired of hearing prior to my eventual flight from Iggy's sheep pen. The result of Liberal/Conservative Party Discipline, of course, is their MPs, candidates and party members lose their cat-ish ability to react quickly and think on their feet.”

I could not agree more, we need more cats and less sheep!