Crackling Fire on a Cold Winters Day

Written by Harold McNeill on September 14th, 2015. Posted in Tim Hortons Morning Posts


 

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September 15, 2015 (Photo, thanks Alysha):  A glass of wine, some mood music and the first crackling fire of the year.  In terms of comfort and ambiance, there is nothing finer than a log fire.  (Lexi is actually snuggled between our feet.)

Link to full set of photos for this story.
Part 1  Link to a Magical Summer
Link to full set of photos for Part 1.
Part 3  The Magical Gardens of Adam Szczawinski

Summers of my Youth

In the summers of my youth, the work was not done without having set aside an abundant supply of wood for those deep cold prairie winters as that was our primary source of heat.  Here in Victoria, it’s not as deep and not as cold, but winter in Canada is still winter and as Canadians we love those crazy cozy log fires.

As Lynn and I recently installed wood burning insert our quest for good wood is ravenous. Drop a tree anywhere within a ten block radius and we hear it fall even when no one else can. With our gear ready and trailer hooked up, we can be on scene in less than ten minutes and first in, first cut and you own the tree, that’s the tradition. More than once we have been warned off by Hydro, but if Harold Cutting Woodwe’re lucky and they’re busy, we can have the choice parts cleaned, cut, loaded and gone before they even arrive on the scene.

While it only takes a medium gale to produce copious quantities of street wood here on the Island, those winds do not usually begin until late fall and the wood won’t be dry in time for the current winter. If you don’t have a plentiful supply in reserve, you pay the going rate of about $200 per cord for split and (sometimes) dry, second choice stuff from a jobber or upwards of $300 from an established firm.  Link: (Victoria Firewood)

May 2015: Harold with his new Husqvarna chain saw working peacefully cleaning up the property next door.

Early this spring it was our good fortune to get ahead of the storms when the property immediately across the street was being subdivided for three homes. As the one acre lot was filled with old fruit trees, maple, oak, cedar, fir, etc., there was more than enough for a two year supply and with a warm, dry summer, most of it would be ready for a fall start.  So with chainsaw, hardhat and ear protection in hand, we began cutting, hacking, bucking and dragging that fine wood across the street to our front yard.  But, as we all know good things don’t always last.

Police Intervention

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A Magical Summer

Written by Harold McNeill on September 6th, 2015. Posted in Tim Hortons Morning Posts


Fairy in Garden

Personal Photos:  We always knew it would be A Magical Summer since the moment our granddaughter Audrey first planted those Scarlet Runners early this spring.  It became real one morning when I captured this  photo of a fairy standing in the corner of the garden beside an old wicker chair.

Link to Photos for this Post
Part 2: Link to Crackling Fire on Cold Winters Day
Part 3: The Magical Gardens of Adam Szczawinski

Fences and Gardens, Family and Friends

So much was happening this spring and summer it was hard to keep up, but suffice it to say there was a lot of magic. Woven between various trips to destinations inside and outside Canada, as well as visits by family and friends, there was a determination to redo the garden and fences as they were in tough shape after several years of neglect.

Last year Lynn and I worked at cleaning up the decks and redoing the garden furniture, but that only made the crumbling fences and mom cropped 7 front coverovergrown gardens look even more sad and forlorn.  Growing up in a family where my mother had the greenest thumb I know, we could no longer avoid thinking how she would feel if she happened by and saw all those steely, prickly weeds making such fun of the few domestic plants that survived the long summers of neglect.

Back in the late 1990’s mom and I had spent two magical summers planting everything we could get our hands on and it was now time to renew the gardening vows that were etched in my genes.  In our family one daughter, Kari, and one son, Sean, have been gifted with that particular gene, so the linage will not be lost any time soon. The jobs, however, were not a one week fix.

Photo (Personal Files, c1990s).  When mom was here for those two long visits, we spent day son end planting everything we could get our hands on. As neither of us had ever made moss hanging baskets we must have put together fifteen of various shapes and sizes.  Many of the McNeill Life Stories, 1941-1965, a historical stories on the blog, came out of our daily conversations.

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Remembrance Day: The Forgotten Warriors

Written by Harold McNeill on November 9th, 2015. Posted in Tim Hortons Morning Posts


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Double Click Photo to Open

I am still seeing far to many FB posts that confuse issues related to September-11th with our celebration of November-11th.  Try to remember the defence of our freedoms during two World Wars was fought by military personnel from countries representing every race and religion around the world and while Canada, then as now, was home to a few who utter racist rants, we need to remember this is 2015, not 1914 or 1939.

It is time for everyone to accept that Canada is a multicultural mosaic where minorities are the norm, not the exception, so let’s stop trying to prove it is otherwise. The following statement is plucked from a Web Site dedicated to the memory of those who served in World War I:

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Halloween 2015 at the McNeill’s

Written by Harold McNeill on November 1st, 2015. Posted in Tim Hortons Morning Posts


Haunted Castle

Photo of Haunted Castle (Web Source).  The castle was projected on a large screen in a
dark corner of the deck.

Again this year, it was a beautiful clear late afternoon and evening for the trick or treaters. Considering torrential rains had pelted the city and caused considerable localized flooding over the previous twenty-four hours, the clearing was an unexpected, I don’t suppose a little rain in Victoria would dampen the spirits of the true Hallo’weiners’.

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Voter Turnout: Vancouver Island

Written by Harold McNeill on October 21st, 2015. Posted in Tim Hortons Morning Posts


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Student voter turnout on Campuses across Canada reached record numbers.

Congratulations Vancouver Islanders

We have once again set more voting records on the Islands, but it seems that somehow the Green Tinge wafting from Salt Spring and Saanich somehow turned a psychedelic orange as it covered the rest of the Islands and while it wasn’t red, it still exuded a glow much warmer than steel blue.

Voter turnout. In a word, awesome! Thanks to those thousands of young people who picked up the torch and marched to the polling stations across the Island.  We may be tagged as the newly weds and nearly dead’s here on the Islands, but when it comes to voting we managed to tuck away our stash or grabbed our walkers and headed to the polls by the thousands. When you live on the these laid back Islands, an extra hour or two in a line-up just wafts by with barely a notice.

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Syrians in Crisis: Can Canada Do Better?

Written by Harold McNeill on September 5th, 2015. Posted in Tim Hortons Morning Posts


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Hungary, September 5, 2015

As Syrian refugees flee a war torn dictatorship and hundreds march across Hungary and other countries, the people of Canada have many thoughts about what our response should be or should have been over the past few years.

Should Canada and other countries around the world take in more refugees or should those refugees be put in camps and simply held for years as done in many countries. I am not being critical of refugee camps as they serve a very useful purpose when used on a temporary basis, but too often that is not the experience.

Perhaps barriers could be built along borders so they can’t in, an idea that is gaining strength in the United States regarding the Mexican border and in some have even suggested one (at least electronic) with Canada.  But, really, is building fences along our borders the answer?

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Mental Illness by Another Name

Written by Harold McNeill on August 31st, 2015. Posted in Tim Hortons Morning Posts


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Photo (Web) Whether Chiheb Esseghaier suffered from the onset of mental illness or not, makes little difference.  With great fanfare, he was arrested, charged, convicted, and awaits sentence.  The massive publicity generated served the greater good of helping to prove a war on domestic terror was not only necessary, but it was also essential. This created the conditions that allowed dozens of new anti-terror laws to be passed with barely a whisper of complaint.  

UPDATE: August 27, 2019,  Two men jailed on terror charges given a new trial by the Ontario’s Highest Court

Original Comments on this case:  (August 31, 2015)

As the trial after a trial of Victoria’s infamous Canada Day Bombers case awaits its fall continuation, the sentencing hearings in that earlier terror scare, the VIA Train guys, is slowly being derailed by controversy.

The court-appointed psychiatrist leaves little doubt the main protagonist was rapidly slipping off the rails well before he actually did any planning to derail that train.  Early-stage schizophrenia? Probably and, as many have observed, just the sort person to be targeted in:

“… an FBI sting that has been used dozens of times in the U.S. to nab prospective terrorists … It’s a method adopted from the war on drugs and the FBI’s battle against the Mafia, and one that critics charge has routinely and deliberately served to ensnare the mentally vulnerable or the insane.” (Globe and Mail).

You may not recall, but it was The FBI who ran the VIA Rail sting and who agreed to pull the pin hours after the Boston Bombing (see Terrorism, Another Perspective). (also, Link Toronto Today article)

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Warning to Immigrants Entering Canada

Written by Harold McNeill on July 31st, 2015. Posted in Tim Hortons Morning Posts, Editorials


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This Victoria, B.C.  Big House is illustrative of a proud Aboriginal past where wealthy, prominent hosts would use it as longhouse for potlatching and housing guests. Potlatching was an innovative way for re-distributing wealth between families and clans, but the practice was brought to an abrupt end in 1884 in Canada through an amendment to the Indian Act. The same was done in the United States a decade later.

This was done at the urging of missionaries and government agents who considered the cultural practice to be “worse than a useless custom that was seen as wasteful, unproductive, and contrary to ‘civilized values’ of accumulation of wealth.” (Wiki Source). For those who didn’t know or may have forgotten, and that likely includes at least a third of the Canadian population, the Aboriginal people of Canada and the United States were the first to claim the Northern part of this continent as home.       

Note: September 8, 2015.  This pencil video narrative tells the story of early settlements in North Central America.  (LINK)

Introduction: Warning to Immigrants  

I felt compelled to write this post after receiving another of those wide circulation emails that spoke harshly of Muslims and others whose religious and cultural practices differed from that of white, english-speaking, middle class, Christians. Also, the fear mongering about the target groups and the harsh legislative agenda of various conservative leaning governments around the world over the past ten to fifteen years, has reached hysterical proportions.

In that vein, many Canadians may think Donald Trump an outlier, but it remains clear a significant number of people support him.   “This is our country not yours” is a refrain repeated over and over and fear mongering on a wide scale is a tactic used to cement the concept (e.g. “Mexicans are rapists”, “Muslims are terrorists”, etc.).  Make no mistake, when it comes to racism, Canadians can play that card with the best of them.

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Comments

  • Harold McNeill

    January 15, 2021 |

    Wow, Graham, I was taken by surprise (but then again that’s not too hard). Having all you fine folks (my children by other fathers and mothers) would have been great. I’m hopeful that sometime in the not too distant future, we can reprise that trip. Perhaps we’ll just set aside a time for someone else’s landmark day, and we can surprise them. Love to you two. Harold

  • Graham and Nazanin

    January 15, 2021 |

    How could we miss this historic event my friend!!!
    Nazy and I were booked for that cruise Harold, we were looking so forward to it.
    We will be together soon! We both wish that continued unconditional love you receive from everyone to continue as you are that special someone that makes a difference in this world.
    Happy birthday sir, cheers!

  • Harold McNeill

    January 7, 2021 |

    Glad you found the site and that Dorthy enjoyed. I’ve added a lot of school photos in other locations linked to the High School Years stories. Cheers, Harold

  • Shelley Hamaliuk

    January 2, 2021 |

    Hi there, I am Dorothy Marshall’s (nee Hartman) daughter. Mom was quite excited when she discovered this site while surfing the net yesterday, so excited that she told me to have a look! She quite enjoyed taking a trip down memory and seeing old pictures of herself.Keep up the great work!

  • Harold McNeill

    April 14, 2020 |

    Hi Rick,
    Great to hear from you and trust all is going well. Our family members are all doing well but it must be pretty tough for a lot of people. I had once heard you were going to do some writing but never heard anything further. I would be most interested, but do you think the OB News have archives back to that time. Any link or information you could provide would be greatly appreciated. Did you keep copies? Regards, Harold

  • Rick Gonder

    April 14, 2020 |

    Hi Harold
    About 22 years ago I spent several weeks going through the OBPD archives. I wrote several stories that were published in the OB News. Feel free to use if they are of value to what you are doing.
    Keep this up, I’m enjoying it and it brings back memories.

  • Harold McNeill

    April 12, 2020 |

    Hi Susan,

    Glad you had a chance to read. I decided to update these stories by proofreading as there were several grammatical errors in many. Hopefully, many of those glaring errors have been removed.

    Many of the stories carry a considerable amount of social comment regarding the way the criminal justice system is selectively applied. Next up involves a young woman from near Cold Lake, Alberta, who was abducted by an older male from Edmonton. Her story is the story of hundreds of young men and woman who have found themselves alone and without help when being prayed upon unscrupulous predators.

    Cheers, Harold

  • Susan

    April 8, 2020 |

    Great read, Harold!…and really not surprising, sad as that may sound.
    Keep the stories coming, it is fascinating to hear them.
    Love from us out here in the “sticks”, and stay safe from this unknown predator called Covid.

  • Harold McNeill

    February 17, 2020 |

    Update:  Times Colonist, February 16, 2020, articles by Louise Dickson, She got her gun back, then she killed herself,” and,  Mounties decision to return gun to PTSD victim haunts her brother. 

    Summary: I don’t know how many read the above articles, but they contained the tragic details about young woman, Krista Carle’, who took her own life after suffering for years with PTSD. While tragedies such as this play out across Canada every week, the reason this story resonates so profoundly is that the final, tragic, conclusion took place here in Victoria. Continued in the article.

  • McNeill Life Stories Index to Police Notebook - McNeill Life Stories

    February 16, 2020 |

    […] Part I, Police solidarity and the push for amalgamation. Part II, Comparing police cultures and implementing change Part III, The past as a guide to the future Part IV The integration of police services […]