Retired to the County Gaol

After much investigation, I found GGG Grandaunt Bella’s Death Registration record. The record was obscured by a faulty transcription: a misspelling of her surname. She lived to be 88 years old, and spent the last years of her life at the County Gaol. She is listed as a vagrant, although that seems a bit harsh, as a description of someone who cared for her father till he died, and then supported herself as a seamstress, eventually buying a small plot of land that I assume she lived on. She is buried on her father’s farm. She was probably institutionalized because she was old and needed care herself, and not because she was shiftless or had committed any crime. It seems sad, but who knows what kind of a place it was. Surely there were other honest, hard working people there, who faced similar circumstances, allowing people to at least offer each other some understanding and perhaps even camaraderie.

Things have changed. But I am not convinced they have changed for the better. Older women make up a significant proportion of those living in poverty in Canada, and they are also well represented in the homeless population. I don’t trust professional Feminist appraisals of the quality of life for Canadian women. Professional Feminists make a career out of advocacy. I have trouble with the need for advocates. The advocates get to have a career helping others, are usually well paid and middle class, and although they do help a few people, they seldom, if ever, make any significant change to the issues causing the disparity, which are structural and institutionalized.

Yesterday the blood test did not take as long as I had feared. There were only about ten people in line before me. At this lab you have to take a number when you come in the door. I carefully hang on to that little tab of paper, as it represents a place in the queue. Lose it and you will have to go to the back of the line again. I am sporting a beauty of a bruise, but there is not pain.

I also managed to do all the trip-to-town errands that were on my list yesterday. Shopping is a dangerous activity. There are always bright and shiny things that, in the wonder of the moment, I think I might need. But if I keep walking around the store, by the time I cycle back to those appealing items, I realize I do not need them, nor do I really want them.

My Mom has a birthday this weekend, 82 years young. And young she is, what a spirit! Her father, my Grandpa, was a fine fellow, and he was active his whole life through, all 89 years, an example to all of his children and grandchildren. That is where my Mom gets her gumption, which she has in spades. Happy Birthday Mom, and wishing you many, many more!

Attila has been spending a few hours stacking fire wood every evening. I think that by the end of May he will have all of it stacked. Then we will be able to recover the lawn, which has been buried under the dumped load of fire wood. Of course, once this fire wood is stacked, Attila will be bringing in wood from the bush out back, from trees culled by the wind and weather.

We are having an all day rain! The landscape needed it, and since the floods have subsided, no harm done.

One of the lovely things about the leafy season is movement. The slightest breeze animates the world. It is difficult to resist becoming lost in reverie, watching the lilt and sway of newly unfurled greenery.

In reading various news reports this morning, I was struck by a contrast, which I will describe. I read quotes from two people who experienced the power of mother nature this spring. The first person quoted, I found admirable. The second person quoted, not so much.

The first quotation is from an interview with a man who had experienced serious property damage, done when ice blew off the lake next to his waterfront property. Ice was driven ashore with unusual force, by wind. The man lives in Alberta, and his comment is:
“Nature’s pretty powerful,” says Morrison. “I’m actually quite fortunate that that’s all it did.”

The second, which I didn’t like nearly so much, quotes a letter from a Mayor, a seasonal resident in the Ontario area she represents; an area that experienced flooding in the spring of this year.

The flooding was caused by a combination of factors. The ground was saturated since last fall, and was still frozen when the area experienced heavy rain. The frozen ground was unable to mediate the effects of the unusually heavy rain, resulting in heavy run off, and thence flooding.

This is clearly an act of nature. It is something that scientists would regard as an infrequent, but not unexpected, occurrence.

“Murphy claims there was a “…lack of advance warning from the MNR to the municipalities.” This statement contradicts the MNR’s assertion that its first Flood Outlook warning was sent to all municipalities on April 16 (to identified emergency management coordinators including the Township’s Richard Hayes) and followed up the Flood Outlook with a Flood Watch (reported on Moose FM April 18) that was then upgraded to a Flood Warning (followed by more Flood Warnings specifying areas that could expect flooding). You can read the full letter that was sent by the Mayor to the Premier, various provincial cabinet ministers, the District…”

What a contrast in attitudes!

There were floods where we live. I did not hear the Flood Outlook warnings, and I take responsibility for that. I don’t listen to the radio station that announced the warnings, although I could have, if I had been concerned. I live on higher ground and am not as concerned about flooding as I would be if I had waterfront property. I am not holding public office; I am not morally or legally obligated to monitor conditions for the general population of the area I live in, nor do I have the resources to do that.

Worldly Distractions


Condition: Heavy Rain
Pressure: 101.2 kPa
Visibility: 3 km
Temperature: 7.0°C
Dewpoint: 6.0°C
Humidity: 93%
Wind: ENE 11 km/h


“The real hero is always a hero by mistake; he dreams of being an honest coward like everybody else.”
Umberto Eco
1932 –


Wednesday, May 8, 2013

On the job yesterday, I sat down for 15 minutes, between 8:15 and 5:15. It was a very busy day, and I should have sat out my unpaid lunch hour, and taken my two ten minute breaks, but I didn’t. If I had, the work would not have been completed, customers would not have been served. So I did what had to be done to do to run the place by myself for the day. There will be little thanks for it, from the management. I don’t care, I feel better when I do a good job. However, were I to be working every day like this, I would hunker down and take my unpaid lunch hour for myself, and my two ten minute breaks. I would have a chance to organize the work flow to that end. But going in to take over for one day, a few times a year, means it is a whole new ball game, every time.

Last night I was so tired I could hardly put two sentences together!

And I was very, very stiff from standing the whole day long. This morning I woke up refreshed and not too stiff at all. Thankfully, this recovery took place without the aid of medication.

Today I have been working on my genealogy sources, and making a bit of headway. I am still working on the first generation to arrive in Canada, in 1820. Right now I am looking at the available information for Bella, one of my GGG Aunts. She was single and living with her father until his death. Then she married, at the age of 48, a widowed man with eleven children. It seems that the relationship did not bloom, as I find her in the census again at the age of 55, married and living alone as the head of her own household, employed as a seamstress. And that is what she continued to do, support herself as a seamstress throughout the ensuing years. I am still looking for a record of her death, and information about where she is buried. That has taken up most of the day today, and I still haven’t found any death or burial records. They are probably out there somewhere, obscured by misspellings and poorly transcribed indexes.

My diligence in making my required calls to all those government agencies seems to have paid off. The whole episodic experience was due to a deliberate refusal by my former employer, to abide by the laws of the land. I came home from work yesterday to a recorded message asking me to call the government agency, providing me with an extension to a direct line. I made the call and was thrilled to hear the news, that the issues have been assessed and apparently resolved, and that I am to receive a modest payment due to the adjustments. It is a rare case where honesty is the best policy, rarer than I would like to think. I have been meticulously honest with the three government agencies I have had to deal with over this issue. I kept meticulous records of my former employers actions and statements. I have been slightly euphoric all day, it has been almost a year since this fiasco began. Being a bit superstitious, I hesitate to say the issue is resolved. Just me, dodging the evil eye.

The sky has spent the day gathering clouds, colouring them blacker as the day grows older. I wouldn’t be surprised if we get rain this evening. There is a fire ban in the area at present, and the retreating waters of the recent flood, it is an odd combination. We need the rain on the land, but we do not need more water in the lakes and rivers.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Last evening I was sidetracked, I was focused on not eating. I had to fast from 8:00 p.m. last night, so that I could get a routine blood test this morning. The danger was, and is, that I will forget that I am fasting and grab a glass of orange juice or some other treat I should not have. And that would mean I would have to start all over again with the fasting.

The laboratory is a one hour drive away, and will be crowded when I get there. Everyone who has had to fast for their blood test shows up first thing in the morning, so that the waiting room is sometimes standing room only, and the wait can be long. I have seen seniors, with low blood sugar from fasting, experiencing conflicts over the queue. Getting a blood test is a half day ordeal.

I will take food with me in the car, and something to clean my hands with, before I eat. After I eat and drink some water, I will hunt down a Tim Horton’s and savour a rare store-bought cup of coffee. When energy levels are replenished, there will be chores to do. I have a list. Another hour long drive, and then I will be home, sometime in the afternoon!

The day is cloudy, and will be warm, 22C. The birds are singing in the trees, and the newly unfurled leaves are slightly swaying in the breeze. Mist is sleeping in her basket, having had a few sips of her morning milk. The next door dog is barking to get in after his morning consitutional.

I am looking forward to the day.

Spring Morning

Worldly Distractions


Condition: Cloudy
Pressure: 101.5 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: 23.9°C
Dewpoint: 7.3°C
Humidity: 34%
Wind: SE 8 km/h


“The optimist proclaims that we live in the best of all possible worlds; and the pessimist fears this is true.”
James Branch Cabell
1879 – 1958


“James Branch Cabell (pron.: /ˈkæbəl/; April 14, 1879 – May 5, 1958) was an American author of fantasy fiction and belles lettres. Cabell was well regarded by his contemporaries, including H. L. Mencken and Sinclair Lewis. His works were considered escapist and fit well in the culture of the 1920s, when his works were most popular. For Cabell, veracity was “the one unpardonable sin, not merely against art, but against human welfare…

Cabell was born into an affluent and well-connected Virginian family, and lived most of his life in Richmond. The first Cabell settled in Virginia in 1664; Cabell’s paternal great-grandfather, William H. Cabell, was Governor of the Commonwealth from 1805 to 1808. His grandfather, Robert Gamble Cabell was a physician; his father, Robert Gamble Cabell II (1847–1922), had an MD, but practiced as a druggist; his mother, Anne Harris (1859–1915), was the daughter of Lt. Col. James R. Branch, of the Army of the Confederate States of America. Cabell County in West Virginia is named after the Governor. James was the oldest of three boys—his brothers were Robert Gamble Cabell III (1881–1968) and John Lottier Cabell (1883–1946). His parents separated and were later divorced in 1907…

On November 8, 1913, he married Priscilla Bradley Shepherd, a widow with five children by her previous marriage.[2] In 1915 a son, Ballard Hartwell Cabell, was born. Priscilla died in March 1949; Cabell remarried in June 1950 to Margaret Waller Freeman.”