Mighty Oaks From Little Acorns

We often think that the important things which happen, and the marvelous things that are created, are the products of “big city” people.  It just seems right that those with the most exposure to society and education, would be the “doers.”  It is often a surprise that some city-, country- or world-changing events are caused by small-town, backwoods boys (and girls).

On August 21, 1860, Aylesworth Perry was born in a tiny Ontario hamlet.  Despite being a patriotic Canadian, interested in our history and heritage, I had never heard of him.  It seems that this was the gentleman who went on to transform the North West Mounted Police – who would later become the R.C.M.P. – from a loose-knit band of rowdy frontiersmen, into the effective, respected organization it became.

What caught my eye about the little newspaper filler article was the fact that this strong, powerful organizer of tough, gritty men, in a tough, dirty landscape, was from the tiny-rainbow-pissing village of Violet.  Like the famous….whatsisname, above, I’d never heard of a place in Ontario named Violet, so I began to do some research.

The officially-issued, Province Of Ontario roadmap refuses to even mention it.  Time to go online!  My first search for Violet, Ontario, got me Violet’s Violets, in Milton, ON, and Violets and Roses Flower Shop in Brampton, ON.  My next step was my usual, Mapquest.ca, which located a Violet Hill, ON, not far from my home town.  This magnificent megalopolis boasts almost 300 residents, which is probably why I’d never heard of it either.

When all else fails, go to Google, which had no trouble locating Violet for me.  Where my town is almost as far west as possible, in Southern Ontario, this place is at the far, east edge, close to Ottawa and Montreal.  To call this place a village is perhaps to stretch a point some.  It’s more than just a wide spot on the road, with a house on both sides, but not much.  It makes Violet Hill look like urban civilization.  There is one road into town, which splits at a Y, and two roads leave town.

I was astounded that Google Earth had actually driven these roads.  They must have been on their way to a real town.  It had to have been a remote-controlled vehicle.  A human driver would have dozed off.  If it’s this tiny now, I wonder how much smaller it was, a hundred and fifty years ago.

At about the same time in history, a famous feminist/suffragette/ human rights proponent, named Nellie Mooney McClung, was born in a tiny village about 30 miles east of my home.  She’s so famous, you’ve never heard of her either, and the only sign that she and the village ever existed, is a dedication plaque, and a small cemetery.

“Famous”, in Canada, means that two people know how to spell your name.  More recently, just before I crawled out of the igloo, a famous female Canadian author was born in a small town 30 miles to my south.  At the age of 76, she’s decided to stop writing, and retire back to her birthplace, to count up all eight Loonies she’s made from the Canadian publishing industries.

A couple of years before my birth, a man was born in a village of 300, twenty miles south-east.  He went on to be the long-term editor of the Toronto Sun newspaper, until the Frogs from Quebecor Publishing hopped down from Montreal, and gobbled it up.  You’d probably not notice his birthplace either, if it weren’t for the stench of the pig-processing plant, and the truckers’ restaurant, which is well-known for its ribs and wings.

All of this has generated great optimism in me.  If people from places like Nowhere, and Never-Heard-Of-It, can become movers and shakers, it’s never too late for me to become famous also.  (It’s spelled S.M.I.T.H.)  Two more posts like this, and it’s onward and upward to FreshPressed, and fame and glory.  Did I mention the money?….or I could just keep trying to amuse, entertain and educate you, my faithful followers.

Being famous, and from a small town is not always a good thing.  We have a Canadian lady (?) from Wadena, Saskatchewan, a mighty little town of 1300.  She’s been a television news reporter, and then anchor-person, who puts her pants on one leg at a time, just like all the other guys.  The Prime Minister gave her a pork-barrel appointment to the Canadian Senate.

She now has to, grudgingly, repay $140,000 in expenses to the Government, because she was “confused” and “forgot” things like that her “primary residence” was in Wadena, not Toronto.  She’s one of four recently appointed Senators under investigation by the R.C.M.P.  I’m not sure how much of this type of thing the American system of electing Senators would prevent, but I’m pretty sure it couldn’t be much worse.

End of bitch!  Insert comment here.

 

Ode To CWC6161

Also, OWED to CWC6161

BrainRants was the first blog I found.  When I began infesting it with my random comments, it was from the commenters, rather than his blogroll, that I found and chose other bloggers’ posts to read.  One of the first, and the nicest, was a lovely lady named Candice W. Coghill.  Her blog I.D. is her initials, along with, what I believe is/was her age, twice.

Feeling that only grumpy old male dudes like me were curmudgeons, she wrote under the blog-name, The Kindly Hermudgeon, a softer, kinder, gentler female version.  I was impressed with, and attracted by her comments, and apparently she felt the same about me and mine.  When I got my own site up and running she was a regular reader/commenter, and one of my earliest followers.  It was she who reminded me to add a “Follow Me” widget.

I commented often on her site, which at that time, was largely about her personal life.  That first November, before I was “On The Net”, she participated in the NaNoWriMo, pumping out 2000 words a day for three weeks, and using the final week for editing and polishing.  I offered to refrain from distracting her, but she assured me that my online presence was welcome.  She was the first to send me a blog award, when I’d only published 14 posts.

As a long-term loner, I often have to work at accepting others as friends.  Such was not the case with The Hermudgeon.  She was intelligent, knowledgeable, literate, friendly, welcoming, supportive….the list goes on and on.  We were instant friends.  Despite being a couple of years younger than me, she was almost a web-mother to me, or a loving, caring sister, so unlike the psychotic minefield I shared ancestry with.

She lived in a little Atlantic coastal Florida town which shares my Scottish clan name.  I used Google Maps satellite view to see her frame house on a small inland bay.  I told her of passing almost within stone’s-throw distance as I had driven down to Key West.  I mentioned a central character in a book I was reading, who was recruited from her tiny town.  I told her of finding another Florida woman, half her age, with exactly the same name, a pill-dispensing medical worker, who liked to be called Candy Popper.  Not impressed with that name, she denied being related.

She was very dedicated to becoming a published author and helped many others in their quest.  Later posts were writing tips and tutorials, knitting-circle-type meetings, and real-time addresses from writers who had made it.  This woman was just Industrial Strength support and help to all she could reach.

Sadly, she had developed inoperable abdominal cancer behind her navel.  Many of her later posts told of radiation treatment and chemotherapy, which were provided by a mobile clinic, housed in a medium-sized jet airplane.  This aircraft flew from city to city, with a rotating schedule.  She got to know the doctor in charge, the nurses, and the flight crew.

She told of their care and concern, and how she had trouble working for two or three days after a treatment, because of weakness and disorientation.  She wrote of Doc Magic feeling that things were under control….but then of the ogre rearing its ugly head once more.

Because her blog had become about commercial writing and being published, I didn’t drop in as often as I had early on, but still stopped by occasionally, with a Like, a short comment and a word of support and hope.  Just about a year ago, on July 11, 2012, her posts suddenly stopped.  I dropped in every couple of days, then once a week, then twice a month – nothing.

I did a search, and found a mostly-English blog-site in France, and thought she’d moved, possibly for medical reasons.  When I paid a bit of attention, I realized that it was stagnant, with posts and comments a year and a half old.  Questions to some of her other regulars revealed that no-one had any information on where she had gone, or what had happened to her.

She was a fighter, and she treated me far better than I deserved.  I can only hope that she simply doesn’t have the time and strength to spare for blogging.  On March 20 of this year, I accessed her final post, and left the comment, “Goodbye sweet Angel.  You will be greatly missed!”  My daughter, LadyRyl, also got to know and like her very much.  She joins me to worry and wonder, to fear the worst, hope for the best, and miss this fine lady very much.  I checked her site again before publishing this tribute.  What may forever remain the final comment, is still, “Awaiting moderation.”

Time Flies

Happy Blogiversary!

Has it really been a year since I started this silliness?  And you guys keep coming around to read it, even without a Community Service order!  You all deserve a big pat on the back.  Please take one each out of petty cash.  Just watch where you put your hands.

A whole year??!  Time flies when you’re making fun.  With BrainRants makin’ it look easy, and a daughter who pushed her creaky old father down the slippery slope, I thought I’d have a go at it.  The first thing I learned was that it wasn’t anywhere near as easy as Rants, and some of you others make it look.

Like so many other avocations, I find myself safely in the middle.  The authors, socio-political commentators and humorists among you show me levels to aspire to, though likely never achieve.  I keep up with the other raconteurs, constantly trying to throw in a small ration of humor, even among my rants, as well as interesting and educational, social and geographical trivia.

Never saddled with a need to publish, I started slowly, gradually increasing the pace until I was putting out a post every two days.  I cut that back to every three days when panic ensued about where new topics would come from.  Since I’m writing this before my actual blogiversary, I won’t know the exact count, but it should run about 125 posts in the last year.

Perhaps I’ve been fortunate, but I’ve only encountered a couple of blog sites that I would describe as terrible, one that was an admitted psychotherapy project for a young, female, drug-using runaway.  Another was about the adventures of a young woman trying to find Mr. Right, and too often getting Mr. Right Now.  It began to read like the script from year 18 of a TV soap opera, desperate for followers.  I finally had to give it up when the contradictions and fantastic co-incidences became too much to believe.

I’ve found sites with posts about Popsicle stick carving and salt shaker filling.  Though I see no followers, likes, or comments, there must be at least a few people who stop by to read.  I like to hold my head and my hubris high, and assure myself that, at least I’m not that boring.

Some bloggers post every day, a few, more than once a day, even if it’s just pictures of clouds and a few words.  I still haven’t learned how to insert pictures or videos.  My forte is the (electronically) printed word.  I try to make my posts about something, even when it’s not something important.  It just takes me a couple of days to find each new subject and put together a cohesive story about it.

I try to hold my posts to a maximum of a thousand words.  Even with an interesting post, attention spans and patience start to wear off quickly, much farther than that.  I’ve revisited some of my early posts, and found rookie mistakes, huge paragraphs, half a page long.  It’s a wonder that I managed to garner any followers at all.  I’ve learned tighter, more concise presentation

I liken myself to one of my favorite pop bands, Jethro Tull, the British band with the American name.  Like almost every other English group of the time, they thought they were a “Blues” band.  Their first couple of albums were lame, experienced out of context, and yet they’ve hung in for over thirty years.  They’ve travelled, had fun, made some decent money, and still have long-time fans.  If only I do a quarter as well.

My posts are all free, and I try to ensure that you get full value for what you pay.  What you have paid is, attention….and friendship, and comments and following, and guidance, and encouragement, and compliments, and inclusion.  As I’ve been told, and responded to, the measure of the worth of me and my site, is not in the great numbers of people who only comment, “Nice post.”, but the numbers of great people who have made me one of them, and made the last year a real hoot.  I thank you all – again!

When I published my 100th post, my insecurity had me worrying about where to find grist to mill out a few more.  More and more I feel I’m mostly past that.  I now have about fifteen unpublished drafts ahead, and new thoughts pop up from time to time.  Some of them may seem chronologically misplaced, like when I post about a late September trip in late November, but you guys seem patient with the old fogy.

I count myself extremely fortunate to have found such a circle of great thoughts, in great blogs, by great writers.  I am not what I was a year ago.  I am much improved, and I hope to use your support and guidance to further improve me in the next year.  I hope that my meager offerings have improved my readers’ lives in some small way, and plan to try to increase the dividends.

Excelsior!!