Amelanchier Alnifolia*

And no I’m not swearing at you!

I frequently joke about charging people to take photos of our Nora as we do our daily circuit around Confederation Landing. But today I got a charming surprise gift from a lovely lady from Regina. She spied Nora and came running across the road to fawn, cuddle and be licked within an inch of her life by the Most Beautiful Female Wire-Haired Dachshund on Water Street. We chatted for about 10 minutes about Dachsies – she grew up with them and recognized Nora as a wire-haired immediately. Most people don’t recognize the breed and more than one person has, much to Nora’s indignant horror, asked if she’s a Schnauzer-mix!!!!

Nora doesn’t seem all that impressed by her jar of Saskatoon Berry Jam but chances are if it appears on a small piece of toast at tomorrow’s breakfast it will be much appreciated.

As we said goodbye she said to wait a minute she had a little gift for me and returned from her car with a jar of Saskatoon Berry jam. It was a very warm, friendly gesture and Nora will get to lick a tiny taste with tomorrow morning’s morsel of toast.

*The Saskatoon Berry – Nora’s jam is from the good people at Last Mountain.

While frying eggs or setting off fireworks on July 4th it should all be done to country music as today is also National Country Music Day!

This, That, and the Other Thing

Those windows on the second floor would be nine of the seventeen that will need spring cleaning.

I have been missing in blogging this past week, mostly because of a rawther busy schedule. However the following is a brief update on life above the Dentists’ Office in the old Lennox Nursing Home Building on Water Street.

“How did I get up here? It’s really better that you shouldn’t ask. It will only upset you!”

First things first – Nora! Well we had a bit of a set back more than a week ago when Nora woke up shaking, whimpering and afraid to move. She snuggled against me and wouldn’t stir. A quick call to the Atlantic Vet College Clinic brought the suggestion that she may have overdone it (who our NORA!!! NO! NEVER!) and that we go back to more kennel rest and the pain killers. At a visit to the Vet several days later a week of Medicam, for inflammation, was prescribed. I don’t particularly like Medicam, the dosage has to be very exact based on the dog’s weight and an overdose can do great harm. The vet also wanted to give her a sort of doggie prozac and increase the dosage of pain killers. We nixed that big time as a doggie druggie is not my idea of what my girl should become. She is back to some kennel rest, pain killers twice a day, and attempts, often futile, to stop her running, jumping and tussling with Nicky.

Officially spring began March 20 when the sun reached the equator at sometime around 1748 ADT. In our house our first sign of spring came two or three days later when the first fly came in through the door as I let Nicky out to prove to him that it was too cold to lie on the deck in the sunshine. The fly obviously felt the same as I did!

With the incredible talent that is Tara MacLean during a radio interview for our PEI Symphony Fundraising Gala.

Much of my time the past two or three weeks has been taken up with preparations for our PEI Symphony Orchestra fundraisering Gala: A Night at the Races. That involved going begging bowl in hand to various businesses and individuals asking for donations to our auctions – and I’m please to say that so many came through with a great variety of items. A few that were approached via email and letter just didn’t respond which puzzled me. One did respond with a very polite refusal explaining that they did not feel our demographic was a fit for their products. I can accept that but to not reply at all just seems to be not only rude but incredibly short-sighted of a business in a small community.

I did a short radio interview for a local afternoon show with the incredibly talented Tara MacLean who was our host and headliner at the Gala. She is begining an association with the PEISO that will lead to a full length concert with the orchestra in 2020 – and launch a tour of appearances with orchestras throughout North America.

If you’d like to hear the golden tones of yours faithfully shilling for the event CBC saves this sort of thing for posterity – or a few weeks, which ever is longer. A left click here will take you there.

The gala was a great success – a record number of people, many who took the Races theme to Ascot heights. Sadly I cant’ find any photos of either Laurent (in full Captain Von Trapp drag) or I (vested, watch-fobbed, tuxedoed, and top hatted to the nines) so there is no evidence of our sartorial splendour.

Yes we are feeling guilty about leaving the HFH for a few days – so Mission Accomplished Nicky! And before anyone starts castigating the humans our friend Marie treats them even better than we do – and that’s saying something.

Our Nicky was not a happy camper yesterday morning – he saw the bags being dragged out and went into full panic mode. Even the arrival of Marie to look after the HFH for a few days did not calm him down. Nora was a little less concerned – Marie will cuddle, pet, coo, and deliver the biscuits so what’s the big deal. We decided that a few days in the bright lights and big buildings of Halifax would not go amiss – when did I ever think I’d consider Halifax “the big city”???? So we packed a few things – 10 shirts, four sweaters, 11 changes of underwear, socks etc – for the three days and head out on the drive to the mainland and the waters of the Bedford Basin. The weather promises to be sunny if cold but a change of scenery for Laurent’s birthday, the wind down to the winter projects, and just a change of scenery will do us both good.


The photo on the left is the beginning of the 11 km (7 miles) span of the Confederation Bridge that joins the Mainland to the Island. That’s New Brunswick in the distance across the ice packs of the Northumberland Strait. Ten minutes later we arrive in NB and Halifax is only another two and a half hours away.

March 28 is a day with two possible celebrations that I initially thought were related: Weed Apprication Day and Something On A Stick Day. I thought that second one was “Clip” when I first read it. Turns out they mean “weed” like in dandelions not …. never mind.

This, That and The Other Thing

I began this blog in November 2006. I had previous written a blog in 1998-9 when I lived in Warsaw. I was working as the web editor for an English language newspaper in Poland at the time and the publisher wanted an on-going column on expat life. Blogs were a new thing back then but the format fit the need perfectly. Sadly I can find no record of those Warsaw postings and I sorely wish I had in some way saved many of them – particularly as series I did on the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. But they have all disappeared into the ether that was the early internet.

However much of WillyOrWontHe has survived intact though the transfer from BlogSpot to WordPress did startling things to some of the photos, links and many of the early videos have disappeared because of YouTube copyright. In an effort to tidy things up I was looking over those early posts this past week. They were chatty items – pictures of our house in Aylmer, our garden in summer and winter, our beloved Reesie, work nonsense, travels in Asia (Laurent was living in Beijing at the time), and odd bits and pieces that amused, startled, or, on occasion, offended me.

When I look at those early posts I realize how very much they were like what I have been posting on FaceBook over the past five or six years. During that time many of the people whose blogs I followed stopped writing and drifted over to FaceBook. I have been FB free for almost a month now and find that often there is a silly, petulant, or trivial thing I’d like to share. Perhaps then it’s time to return to some of those postings about what’s happening around here as well as investigating the poems of obscure Jacobin poet-ferrymen.

Nora Captivo – believe me having our Nora in the kennel most of the time is no fun for any of us. We try to take her out from time and then she mostly just wants to be cuddled.
  • On the Nora front – she is in her final week or so of kennel rest and it is become more and more difficult to control her. She is one unhappy puppy and makes her displeasure known to anyone who will listen. There does definitely seem to be a problem with her left back leg – it has always been a bit wonky and seems more so now. We shall see what the vet has to say in a week or so. The strain is telling on everyone!
  • Invariably the weekend of our PEI Symphony Orchestra February concert is a storm weekend – it’s a tradition! This weekend is no exception but at least the storm is forecast for several hours after the concert is over. One of the pieces on the programme is by Pierre Wissmer, a Swiss-French composer who is totally new to me. But having heard his First Symphony I’m planning to give some of his other works a listen. Currently I’m creating the online programme notes for the concerts as well as for the handout programme. It’s a great deal of work, but more importantly a great deal of fun and I’m learning fascinating things about composers, their works and their lives. To be honest I wonder how many people are actually reading them online but am forever optimistic. Next up the Mahler #3 – Mahler was not a nice man!!!!!
  • I read this morning that the great blues performer Jackie Shane died at her home in Nashville at the age of 78. I wrote about her back in 2017.  I said at that time that a NYTimes story about the reclusive trans-gender rhythm and blues singers “brought back memories of high school, my first tentative steps into the gay world, and the strange but wonderful crowd I hung out with.” RIP Jackie!
  • We may have had another snow day this past week – a record number this year – but a miniature orchid in our breakfast area has given us a touch of spring. Last week it burst forth into tiny purple flowers for the first time in over a year. I recall that orchids were once considered exotic, fragile and hard to care for. I’m sure that many of them still are but there is obviously a species that is as hardy a plant as you could wish. This particular little Orchidaceae was purchased at Bel Fiore, our friend Minoo’s shop in Ottawa four or five years ago. It is housed in a copper cage of the type that were used in Shisha lounges throughout the Middle East. The charcoal for the Hookah would be lit in the cage and then the attendant would swing it around – sometimes in almost balletic movements – to get the coals glowing and red hot. It was the prefect hanging container for this delicate, but obviously hardy, wee orchid.

February 23 is World Sword Swallower’s Day.

HFH* – Long Overdue GPP**

Its been so long that most people have probably forgotten the acronyms *HFH (Hounds from Hell) and **GPP (Gratuitous Puppy Pictures) but rest assured that Nicky and Nora are still running around the household.  Mind you they are no longer puppies however as far as I’m concerned they will always be my puppies.

This is now their third winter here in Canada and much like the humans they own they are still not use to or happy with it.   And they are particularly not use to (or happy with) winter arriving at the end of November!  They have however learned the difference between the temperature and the temperature + wind chill.  As an example this past Monday it may well have been only -24°C but with a sharp blowing wind that -30°C was more like it. They’ve learned that when it gets that cold the stylish doggie coats come out.

They’ve also learned that when there is snow and ice on the ground plus salt to melt the snow and ice  – and our super uses generous amounts of salt – then those detested red booties are also necessary.  The past week or two the boots have become de rigueur for even the quickest trip into the cold. 

But of course this winter sartorial splendor requires that the human equation in all this do some fancy work to get puppies clad and booted.  Not having a great experience of it  I am only guessing but I would think it is less work to get a child ready for skating on the canal.

Particularly with our Nicky.  First he runs and hides on the couch, then reluctantly creeps towards the entrance hall – trembling in (feigned) fear and trepidation.  A furtive look up and an attempt to placate the demanding human with a quick lick face-wards.  Then the real fun begins 

 Okay so the left paw – nay won’t fight you on that one:

 The back paws – hmmm well okay I’ll let you win that one.  In fact I may even lift my leg so you can get them on without too much trouble.

Ah the right paw – not sure on that one…. how about I just put it over here out of reach and push real hard against your paw. 

Gosh you weren’t able to get it on that way – how about I push the other way.  Oh sorry that doesn’t seem to be helping much, does it? 

Well okay that one is finally on – hey it only took three minutes this time, if you want I can do a repeat of the morning I went for the record?????  Okay I’m ready!  Hurry up I have to go!

Nora is a bit more of a stoic about it – no fuss, the odd furtive look and attempted lick; she won’t fight you but she’ll be damned if she’ll help you with this form of canine torture.  She is not really happy about this; in fact if she had a cell phone the Humane Society  would be on speed dial!

 Okay now I’m ready!  I don’t like this one bit but damn it red is my colour isn’t it?

Okay torture – not to mention the indignity of being seen in those damned boots – over!  Biscuits given as a rewards for doing what we were aching to do anyway.  Time for a doe-doe.  Wake us when it’s summer!

December 21 – 1913: Arthur Wynne‘s “word-cross”, the first crossword puzzle, is published in the New York World.

Songs of My People

As I mentioned last week our Nora believes that the Songs of Her People should be shared with the world. And songs she has – songs for all occasions! Songs of greeting – joyful and wary; songs of loneliness; songs of need; songs of captivity; and songs of battle. A full repertoire of cries and calls from the canine heart.  And share she does – often only in parlour performance with her intimate circle but on occasion the wider world has indeed heard her song!

Here’s one that suggests neglect and inattention on the part of someone she cares about – as long as he feeds her – deeply.  Sort of a “blues” tune. And you will notice that the song has the required effect. The inattentive object of her affection responded and gave comfort and a commodious lap to nap on.

15 January – 1919 – Boston Molasses Disaster: A large molasses tank in Boston, Massachusetts, bursts and a wave of molasses rushes through the streets, killing 21 people and injuring 150 others.

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