July 2018- Sept

Unless otherwise credited, all photographs are © David Ritchie and may not be used without my permission.


Sept 1  Sweet Autumn clematis are delightful. They blossom in late August and into September. The scent is intoxicating. I transplanted this one (yes, it’s one plant and this is one year’s growth) three years ago. I cut it back to the first bud on the vine each spring.

Whilst most other flowers are fading, my hostas and clematis are just getting going.




Found: another hosta photo to be considered for editing. It was overlooked in the first review of the images, but I quite like it. See Hosta 3 below.

Aug 24   Editing photos is sometimes difficult, especially in today’s digital world. Back in the days of film, we didn’t take as many frames of a subject as we tend to do today- film and processing were costly.

Here are two three photos of my favourite hostas, a very old fragrant variety. I found many names for this one and I don’t really know which mine is. They came from a garden that grew them over fifty years ago. They are late bloomers and need shade to grow- a northern exposure works well for mine. The scent is intoxicating.

Back to editing: I photographed them last evening and narrowed my choice to two three images. Now you, the reader, get to choose which one to post in the gallery.  Please use the contact link.


Hosta1.jpg        Hosta 1


Hosta2.jpg         Hosta 2


Hosta3.jpg         Hosta 3



 Text exchange with a friend regarding meeting time:

> Maybe 5?

> No time commitment needed. You will be flogged if late


Aug. 21  Quotes. I enjoy finding quotes from the past that are relevant to today. I thought that I might share some with you.

I particularly like this one: “If you tell the truth you don’t have to remember anything.” Mark Twain

“A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on it’s shoes.”  Mark Twain  (More relevant today than ever)

“Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.”  Samuel Johnson

“Patriots always talk of dying for their country but never of killing for their country” Bertrand Russell


Roll Out the Resto

It was the moment of truth, the test of my mechanical abilities. All systems checked, the finicky Lucas electrics were refreshed (new electronic ignition, new wiring harness, modern connections installed) and the fuel tank filled with fresh gas.

Prime the gas in the new carburettors, choke on, transmission in neutral, ignition on. Prod the kickstarter to top of compression stroke. Rise up with all my weight on the kicker, right knee bent and then all weight transferred down through the kicker in a smooth motion. Nothing. Repeat proceedure and hear the first stumble of ignition.

The third kick and music to my ears- the roar of a fresh Norton Commando engine. I burst into a happy victory yell, a mixture of satisfaction and relief. My grin felt like it would split my face in two.

I was obsessed with motorcycles from a very young age (see “Blame Johnny Sombrero” on my Feb 2018 rant page). I have owned a motorcycle since I turned sixteen and the variety has been interesting. In my day new riders followed a natural progression of engine size and power. I shudder when I hear of a new rider starting with a hundred horsepower motorcycle today and I’m saddened, but not shocked, when I told the rider has crashed.

My first bike was a Yamaha YG1 80cc. My father co-signed a loan and I rode that bike every day of my sixteenth summer to a Putnam tobacco farm where I earned the money to pay the loan off. I did some crazy things with that first bike. I rode to Missisauga on the 401 in December. It was so cold returning that I tucked in behind a transport to escape the wind. When that failed to keep me warm, I bought a newspaper to wear on my chest under my jacket. I think I was hypothermic when I left the 401-  I stopped on the shoulder of a road and not feeling my legs or feet, I fell over with the bike. A few minutes of “jumping jacks” restored feeling enough that I did get home eventually. I must have shivered in the hot shower for a half hour, then into bed.

An 80cc motorcycle was not the ideal machine for highway riding. I had the throttle wide open the entire time and it might have gone 65 mph with a tailwind, downhill. I sold that Yamaha and bought another- a 250 YDS3 with a delightful intake howl and some real power and acceleration.I rode that bike for a number of years, from Thunder Bay (Port Arthur/ Fort Williams at that time) through Minnesota (Hwy 61), Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York.

That led to further purchases- a Honda CB 450, a Matchless G80 CS in road trim (worth big $$$ today) – but the bike I lusted for was a Norton Commando, the most beautiful British bike ever. In black with gold trim, the colour god made motorcycles.

I eventually did get a five year old Commando, the 1972 Combat model. Very fast and great handling, but still the typical keep- wrenching- to- keep- riding, oil- leaking British motorcycle (they are much more reliable today, with both Triumph and Norton still in business).

After around six years of riding the Norton I had a very bad crash. The bike was ruined and it took several operations to repair my personal damage.

Norton 002.jpg


Norton 001.jpg

The ruined bike gathered rust and dust in a barn and then a garage . My guilt mounted as I procrastinated on a rebuild for many years. Life got in the way- family, business etc. I never lost the urge to ride and borrowed bikes whenever I could.

Finally life stabilized enough that I could afford the needed time and money to consider bringing the Norton back to life.

Penance proved to be very expensive- I couldn’t be satisfied with a stock rebuild.

It took two years. I bought the factory workshop manual and a parts book, then stripped it down to the last nut and bolt. The end result was a bike better than the original. All the available stainless steel bolts, alloy wheels with stainless spokes, new exhaust mufflers, controls, headlight, gas tank, seat, tires and much more. The frame was powder- coated, I polished the aluminum alloy parts, a lightweight fiberglass cafe style front fender installed- the entire works. The engine and clutch were refreshed. I took the transmission apart, replaced a few bearings and a gear that were known to fail. That was the most complicated mechanical task. Taking things apart is easy- proper assembly can be a challenge.

The most difficult work for me was the new electrical harnesses (main and headlight),  getting the connections right. I learned a lot about electricity, a subject that has always mystified me. My previous knowledge about the evil Lucas electrics consisted of “don’t let the smoke out of the wires”.  There is a very good reason that Joseph Lucas was known as the “Prince of Darkness”.

The end result was a successful rebuild. I took a great amount of pride in my work.


Norton 003.jpg


Norton 004.jpg


Aug. 9   Re-writing history? I swear that we are collectively losing our minds. Today I read that the city of Victoria is removing a statue of Sir John A, Macdonald from the city hall steps. The latest target for transferring 21st-century guilt to our historic past. I do not talk of political matters here but political correctness has gone too far. The founder of our country has been consigned to the trash heap with no sensitivity to historical perspective. There are no leaders worthy of sainthood- everybody has some dirt in their past and none of us are perfect. Furthermore,  the story writer neglects to use the “Sir” title that Macdonald was granted. So now he’s just another bum from the past?

To the city of Victoria: ship the statue to me, I’ll display it with pride and raise a glass to toast Sir John. I know that he would approve. I like history, warts and all.


Aug. 5  Life sometimes takes me away from here, and I’ve been very busy, but back to normal now. Organising a party for forty people, feeding and entertaining them was a daunting task. It cost me many sleepless hours and I have a great deal of respect now for those who take on the responsibility. I also have gratitude for the friends who helped me. Thanks to Candy, Larry, John, and others.

Reading books has been a lifetime addiction for me, and I’m presently reading an interesting novel. The Water of Life by Daniel Marchildon is a historical novel that takes place in Scotland and on Georgian Bay in Ontario. It begins in 1494 and follows the story of Scotch whisky. It educates in a fine storytelling way, alternating between the old and the modern world.

Aside from the many things I learned about Scotch, historic events I knew nothing of were revealed. The worst Great Lakes storm to date occurred in 1913. Thirty-seven vessels and 244 sailors and passengers were lost. Large lake freighters were broken in half, and captains reported waves at least thirty-five feet in height with the wind often blowing in the opposite direction. Blizzard conditions with snow and ice- it must have been terrifying.

I also learned about global trade creating agricultural problems 150 years ago. The louse phylloxera travelled from America to France and almost ruined the wine industry there. Affected vinyards were forced to uproot the vines and burn them, roots and all. Close to 85% of the vines were lost. Curiously,  American vine rootstocks were imported and  French varieties were grafted onto the phylloxera-resistant US roots.

Global trade also brought the Norway rat to Canada circa 1775 (thanks a lot.) It’s not all bad: dew worms were brought to Canada to enrich gardens and have spread over the country. They’re also good for fishing!

Rant. When Noah Webster wrote the American dictionary he wanted to make English spelling simpler (for the mostly illiterate Americans?)  He deleted silent letters (honour~ honor) and shortened words.

Why then did he change whisky to whiskey? Scratching my head over that one…


July 21   Yay! I have milkweed planted to attract Monarch butterflies. Milkweed is the only plant that keeps them alive- the larva (caterpillar stage) can eat nothing else. I have seen only a few butterflies this year and noted one around the milkweeds a while back. Today a friend with sharp eyesight spotted this delightful site: a Monarch caterpillar.


I will be watching closely for more. There was a time not too very long ago when it was common to see dozens of Monarchs around the farm. During the fall migration hundreds could cover a tree or shrub to rest for the night. Perhaps those days are gone forever but, given our help, we will hopefully build up a sustainable population.


I love jokes. This one came from a fellow motorcyclist:

The Frustrated Motorcyclist

Son: Dad, please buy me a motorbike for my birthday.

Father: No son, I’d rather buy you a violin.

Son: Please dad, I want a motorbike!

Father: Son, it’s better to be a musician than a biker.

Son: OK then, give me the violin if you insist.

After a long while and many music lessons, the father asks: ” Son, show me what you’ve learnt thus far.”

Son says, “No problem…………”


Very clever, right, Wilson?


July 13   Friday the 13th and the ever-growing Port Dover gathering happens again. When asked if I would be going (I have ridden motorcycles for 50+ years) I replied in the negative.

I was asked, “why not, you are a biker, right?”

“No,” I replied, “I’m a motorcyclist, not a biker, plus I can’t take crowds of people, particularly fat old guys who dress like pirates and ride obnoxiously loud bikes.”

Am I a bit harsh? Anyway, I hope the faithful have a good time and don’t go deaf too soon.


July 10  Rainfall can be a fickle teaser in this area of eastern Elgin County, the Norfolk Sand Plain, rich sandy/loam in the Carolinian Zone.

In the post-tobacco era growers here adapted and now produce the most diverse variety of crops grown in Canada. In addition to the traditional corn/ wheat/ barley/ apple/ peach/ oats/ soybean/ dairy/ poultry/ pork/ beef mix, a diverse variety of vegetables and fruit are now grown. From bok choy to hops, peppers to shrimp.

Seriously, an indoor shrimp farm in one of the former Imperial Tobacco buildings along with Weed MD, a cannabis producer. Craft brewers, goat milk yogurt, ginseng and much more are produced.

Large producers such as Dr Oetker have taken note and located locally to take advantage of the availability of fresh produce and grains.

Of course, nothing grows without water and rainfall has been scarce here lately. A moraine ridge approximately 20 km north of Lake Erie creates a ‘rain shadow’ here. I say “it’s raining north of Lyons” with a fair degree of accuracy when distant thunder sounds and dark clouds roll eastward like a sulky temptress, teasing us to the north. So near and yet so far.

This is the result of drought: corn that looks like a crop of bayonets leaves curled to protect them from the relentless sun.




Notice how the leaf presents the lighter underside to the sun, better to reflect powerful rays and shrink the surface area. Soybeans also ‘turn over’ their leaves in the heat of the day and I have noticed some maple trees do the same in an extended drought. Nature can be resilient, to a point.

Speaking of nature’s resilience, I posted a photo of the snowball shrub totally stripped by the dreaded viburnum beetle on June 2(see the April- June posts) It has since recovered and produced new leaves. When I first noticed the new growth I watered it daily. Here it is in a new wardrobe.




Although it looks healthy, the eggs laid in the deadwood of the shrub will hatch and the caterpillars will attack again next year.

Update  July 12 The viburnum are back and are once again devouring the leaves. Sigh…


More rants  April-June 2018    Feb- March 2018



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