Sept- Oct 2018

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

Oct 27  New words are born every year. Time Traveler, a Merriam- Webster search tool is fascinating, like a living history. Search the words that were first used in the year you were born.

It is much more than that: click on any year since your birth year, and new words vividly recall the events, the stories, the technology, cultural idioms, science, and so much more. In other words (pardon the pun), history.

The year I was born there are 238 new words listed. Some I found surprising. I would have thought the words were newer or, in some cases, older.

For example: analogue computer, audio-visual, drag race, hydraulic fracturing, privatize, simulcast, no-frills, nacho, marinara, xenophile, hi-fi, circuit board.

I find it amusing that “missionary position, sexpot, soul kiss, arousal” were all first used in my birth year.

Check out the site, it’s very entertaining.

Rant time. What I find odd is that new words are declining over the years. In 2016- five new words. 2011, ’13 and ’15 only had one new word each.

This is supposed to be the hippest, coolest, most informed, internet equipped, instant communication era ever. And yet we don’t invent many new words today, we simply change the meaning of words.

Trash-talk hollow rap drone reigns. Bad poetry with sampled stolen sounds. Or, as Keith Richards once put it-  ‘Mary Had a Little Lamb’ with a drum machine.

I was asked “You don’t like hip-hop?”  “No” I replied, “I listen to music.” End of rant.

Oct  24  Quote (source unknown)   “After the stone age came the bronze age, then the iron and now we are in the plastic age”.

Edit from a piece that I posted to a motorcycle forum:

Saw the funniest damn thing I’ve seen in a while; a large-barge Harley in the oncoming lane, a full frontal of the rider biker in the gynaecological position, boots in stirrups splayed out ready to fend off oncoming traffic (those guys are tough), full pirate drag.

His ‘scoot’ was sporting a “bat-wing” (barn door) handlebar- mounted fairing. That sight alone cracks me up every time I see it. The old school, no attention to aerodynamics, Vetter fairing was bad enough, but it did make a good platform for the 8-track /AM radio combo. There was a day when no Harley rider biker would be seen with a windshield, let alone a full size fairing on his bike.

It gets even better. Stretched well above the barn door ‘fairing’ and the oncoming boots, is a reach-for-the-shy set of ape hangers. The attached hands in requisite finger-less gloves, the rider’s biker’s head just visible above the ‘dash’, framed with ape arms sporting matted hairy armpits. The regulation ‘biker’ grimace under a piss-pot helmet. Perfect.

I love motorcycling.

Oct  23  Big wins for women in yesterday’s municipal elections, but particularly noteworthy in Aylmer. Elected is a female majority on a council led by Mary French, the new mayor. Nearby Bayham township also elected a majority female council.

Who would’ve thought it could happen here in rural Ontario? Congratulations ladies, I wish you all well! Please make wise decisions for us.

Oct 23   Dogs teach us many lessons, one of which is that, no matter how domestic they become, they are still wild animals.

Walking Wilson yesterday in the late afternoon, he showed me that he is indeed a wild animal and an ever clever hunter too. The lane to the back of the farm is bordered by a thick cedar hedge on the west side. It is so thick that it would be difficult for me to crawl underneath the branches- but not a problem for a dog.

Wilson had been diving into the thick brush at the same place on several past strolls. Yesterday he scored. I could tell from what little I could see of his back end that he was lunging aggressively deeper into the cedars.

When he backed out he had a small rabbit in his jaws. It looked to be an adolescent just about ready to leave the nest. Well, it had left the nest for the last time. I heard the crunch of bones as Wilson crushed the rabbit’s head, followed by the neck and then the chest and abdomen. It took a while to get it all down but eventually, the hind legs were the last bits down the hatch. He got a rabbit last year too.

Now if you think that I could have stopped Wilson eating the rabbit, you don’t know my dog. Any dog with captured prey can be aggresive- they caught it and nothing will damn well take their prize away. That is their wild nature coming to the surface.

My last dog, MJ, showed the same behavior. He once cornered a small groundhog in the backyard. There was a stand-off with the groundhog putting up a very aggressive front. I knew that MJ would win that battle so I went to get a shovel to bury the critter.

When I returned with a shovel there was no groundhog. Thinking that it had escaped, I called to MJ. He turned around and looked quite pleased as the tail of the groundhog disappeared down his throat.

Neither dogs showed any negative effect from eating wild animals- normal digestion and no nasty discharges. Saved me having to feed them supper too!


Oct 15    Learning English must be excruciatingly difficult. I’m still learning and it’s the only language that I have. We take it so much for granted, using words that have so many different meanings and pronunciations.

Google tells me that, according to the Oxford dictionary, the word with the most different meanings is ‘set’ at 464!

Three letters, so many meanings. If that sounds like an anomaly, no, it isn’t. The top ten words round out with ‘strike’ at 250 meanings.

Crossword puzzle writers use those different meanings cleverly and sometimes maddeningly. Yes, I do crosswords occasionally. In pencil, not ink.


Oct 13   Lost and found. Well, not really lost. I did find this forgotten item in my garage.

In my long-gone motorcycle and canoe camping days I tended to need waterproof containers, compact in size, plus the indispensable duct tape. This was my solution:


Remember film cans? These are Fujichrome cans, the best. The lids could be taken off and reused many times and still stay waterproof.

Remember wooden matches, strike- anywhere- to-light matches? Back in high school days the cool tough guys would ignite them with a thumb nail, or with a quick strike of the match along the leg of (rolled up at the cuff) Levis. I think they were called safety (!) matches. Likely banned now.

I kept one can filled with those matches. What the other end carried depended on mechanical needs. Carb jets, cable end adapters, small screws, etc. Today’s suggested use? SD cards, batteries etc.

Or maybe safety matches and weed. The duct tape? Ask Red Green.

Or Graeme, here repairing his cracked motorcycle windscreen in South Dakota.



Oct 8   Happy Thanksgiving. We should all be thankful that we in Canada, live in a safe country with good food and abundant fresh water. Also for health care, possibly the most important of all.

Autumn is always somewhat difficult for me. It signals the end of the riding season and another disappointing Blue Jays baseball has ended.

It is time to store summer away and to pick up walnuts. I will also be gathering milkweed seeds for friends who have expressed interest in growing for monarch butterflies. Contact me if you’d like some seeds and I will gladly mail them.

The days are noticeably shorter and leaves are starting to change colour. Lots of yellow and gold around here, with fiery red sumac accents. We still have not had a frost- they come later each year.


Sept 24    It’s a Girl!!  Have a Cohiba cigar on me!

No, I haven’t got another daughter. See the full story with photos in the Sept 8 entry below.


Sept 19  Cliches & Platitudes 

“Everything happens for a reason” gets dragged into conversations, often used as a pseudo-philosophical type weak explanation for grief, upset, anger at events that have occurred etc.

‘Reason’, in the cliche, is a substitute word for ’cause’. A cause is not the same as a reason: cause includes randomness, plus the physical effects of gravity, chemistry, and an infinite number of natural and random events. Not to mention emotions, crazy politicians and more human foibles.

Great thinkers have wrestled with “cause” for centuries. Not one of them has suggested that everything that happens is under the control of some mysterious force, as the cliche suggests.


Cultural appropriation and other ‘politically correct’ nonsense is the social hammer wielded constantly in the media. Which begs the question: what is ever correct about politics?

The Cleveland Indians, Atlanta Braves and Washington Redskins plus countless minor teams have been attacked for their name and logos.

I have a suggestion for a Cleveland name change: the Cleveland Native Indigenous Persons. I think that is a quite respectful if somewhat long team name. Sportscasters would likely shorten it to the Cleveland NIPs.

Solved- who would possibly be offended by an affectionate acronym?


 Updates on the monarch are posted below.

Sept 8  Another surprise from nature. On Thursday I discovered a monarch caterpillar hanging from the siding beside my back door.

What an odd place (circled in red) to choose!  I took this photo today.


The J shape and the writhing motion told me that it was going into metamorphosis, from larvae to pupa. I grabbed a camera as the action was happening rapidly. Unfortunately, the first photos were very poor. Too much caffeine for a handheld closeup resulted in motion-blurred, out of focus, underexposed photos. What stupid, rookie photography. As if I don’t know better.


Recognizing my errors I put the camera on a tripod and set the focus to macro.  The results aren’t too bad for a point and shoot digital.




Here is the finished chrysalis, a jade green beauty.


I will watch it carefully: the next stage (butterfly) usually takes 10-15 days, depending on the weather. Stay tuned- I’ll hopefully have photos of the emergence of a butterfly.


Yesterday a sharp-eyed friend found two more caterpillars on milkweed in the garden. I hope they make it to adults before the frost and can go on vacation to Mexico. I have noticed quite a few monarchs around here- a very good sign. There have been several news stories on people helping the monarchs in Ontario. Do the monarchs a favour and plant milkweed in your yard. Contact me if you want some seeds.

I also witnessed two adults breeding. They were a funny sight flying together, as we say around here, “doggy locked”!

Update   Twelve days have passed with no change to the chrysalis. Perhaps the cool weather for several days in the beginning, plus the increasingly fewer hours of daylight, affect the metamorph success. Monarch migration from here is largely over- I saw only a few this past week. I will attempt to preserve it if nothing changes.

Maybe I’ll frame it, I have an idea for a nature collage art piece.

Update #2  Two days ago, and eighteen days after I first saw it begin, the pupa had changed lime green to a dark colour. Looking closer I saw this:



I continued to watch it for the rest of the day, expecting little change as the weather was cool and windy.

Yesterday morning I saw no change. It was somewhat warmer with a high of 21C predicted. I walked Wilson and then fed him and myself. Checked the ‘pod’ again and saw that it had cracked open. By the time I got my camera mounted on the tripod, the butterfly had emerged.

IMG_5565.JPG                                 Notice the short wings and long abdomen.

It was fascinating to see the wings grow larger over the next several hours.




At this point, the butterfly was trying to climb the sliding but was unable to grip the smooth surface. It fell to the cement below, so I cut a small branch from a spirea shrub, and offered it to the butterfly,

It climbed aboard the branch which I clipped to the siding.


SetUp.jpg                       Here’s the setup complete with a peach treat on the menu.

Next, I moved it to the south side, sheltered from the breeze and where the sun was intensely warm.


Sometime later after it climbed up the red metal on the bench, I moved it to the south side of the spirea shrub. The wings continued to get larger and she began to exercise them by opening and closing them.



OpenWings.jpg                                With wings open I could identify it as a female.

Three hours after emerging she took off. I did not see her leave but I hoped she headed south towards the lake (Erie) beginning the migration to Mexico. Vuelo Seguro! Send your future progeny back to Elgin County.

Here ends my monarch butterfly saga.

IMG_5602.JPG This is the only physical reminder left. I removed it for framing. The adhesive attaching the stem to the siding was unbelievably strong. I could not pull it off with tweezers and had to slice it off with my knife. Nature’s Superglue.


I am weak in science, math etc I have zero algebra or chemistry knowledge- I flunked those subjects spectacularly. I enjoy the natural world without having in-depth knowledge of the subject. It is enough for me to experience the wonder of change and the spectacle.




More rants, essays & observations at:

April-June 2018

Feb- March 2018

July- Sept 2018


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