Death and Repose

From my St. Thomas Dog Blog, Apr. 13 2010 – in memory of Jack who died 7 years ago today

Today is the 13th anniversary of the death of my old Collie-mix Jamie and tortoiseshell cat Cedric.  They were put to sleep together, due to cancer and crippling arthritis, and they’re repose at Sandy Ridge Pet Cemetery Eden ONburied together behind a house I used to live in.  The present occupants of the house know they’re there, but in future no one will know the significance of that small bed of orange and white dahlias and tiger lilies.

Now my animals have plots at Sandy Ridge Pet Cemetery just south of Eden. The first time I went there, I was in the area with a bit of time to kill.  I was driving around Calton, Richmond and Eden, looking at the places that were home to my parents’ families a century ago.  On the Plank Road (#19 Hwy), I saw a sign for the pet cemetery.

So in I went. I quickly used up all the tissues in my pockets and was using old napkins from Tim graves at Sandy Ridge Pet Cemetery photo Jim StewartHortons that I found in the car, then my sleeves to wipe my eyes and nose. It’s the most beautiful cemetery I’ve ever seen.  And active!  Seasonal flowers, small toys, photographs, solar lights and notes left on beloved pets’ gravestones.  It’s lovely and gut-wrenching. There are people’s graves too, with their pets.

A pet family plot

I looked up the website and contacted the owners, the Cowans.  I broached the subject with my husband.  He thought it was a good idea for the pets.  Then I moved on to the subject of us.  Expecting his response to discussion of our own mortality to be Jack at Sandy-Ridge- photo Dorothy Stewart “lalalala my fingers are in my ears I can’t hear you”, I was surprised that he heard me out and thought about the options. His family is from Kentucky, so the family plots are there.  My family plots are in London, Tillsonburg and Dorchester – not places with any real connection for me or him.

The scattering of ashes over a waterfall or lake is a romantic idea, but leaves no mark of your existence.  He realized that some ‘I was here’ marker mattered to him, at least for the sake of his sons.  I realized it was important to me because I do genealogical research and gravestones are a solid connection with the past.  They tell you something about individuals and families.

First burials

So we bought a family plot for us and pets.  Too soon we had to use it.  January 30th 2008, our German Shepherd Jack died.  He was buried the charlie and me at pet gravesnext day.  We, our mothers, my sister and the Cowans were in attendance.  A month later, Henry, the oldest cat, joined him.  It was a bad, sad winter.  Eventually, we’ll all be there in this plot demarcated with granite ‘S’s at the corners.*  And it feels ok, knowing that others like me will walk along the path and read names and dates and reconstruct bits of family history.  And cry.

*In 2012, the Ontario government demanded the removal of the human graves.  Human ashes only were there, but they and the gravestones had to be moved away from the spots the people had chosen for their final repose.

The Wolf in the Parlor

It took me a few months to read The Wolf in the Parlor: How the dog came to share your brain by Jon Franklin. It was my ‘morning coffee’ book.  Those always are read slowly.  But I had trouble with this one.  I considered not finishing it, but I’m glad I did.

Amazon link for Wolf in the Parlor by Jon Franklin
Click for Amazon link

Franklin’s premise is that humans and dogs evolved together and, in fact, became parts of each other in terms of brain function. ‘Tame wolves’, he says, began to develop about 50,000 years ago when some wolves became essentially camp followers of humans.  They realized putting up with human contact was an easy way of getting food.  The humans realized that putting up with these less aggressive wolves was an easy way to have protection from wilder animals and to have a constant food supply if needed (wolf meat).  Wolves evolved into dogs, humans evolved to a form more like us, and the interconnectedness between wolf/dog and human grew.

Complementary brains

12,000 years ago, he says, human and dog brains got smaller.  His argument is that the rational, thinking part of dogs’ brains decreased as did simultaneously the emotional and sensory part of humans’ brains.  The dog handed the thinking over to humans and the humans handed emotional and sensory intuition over to dogs.  Together, they have the full spectrum of intelligence and perception.  Apart, they do not.

I know nothing about evolution or neurology, so I can’t comment on his scientific accuracy.  However, like religion, his thesis seems as good a framework as any for thinking.  It ‘feels’ right to me and, in thinking about my history with dogs, I can ‘see’ it.

My persistence in reading paid off in the final chapters.  He discusses how humans too often now have forgotten the mutuality of the bond with dogs.  There’s a horrible tale of a day he spent with an animal control officer.  That story introduces his argument in favour of purebred dogs.  In essence, he says that if you expect the dog to fit into your lifestyle and match your needs, get one where you can be pretty sure that the innate traits and needs of the dog will be that match.  The best way is get a purebred from a breeder who knows his or her dogs and their lineage.

Persistence needed

Why I say my “persistence” is that I had some problems with the writing.  First, the beginning of the first four chapters all read like introductions.  It felt like he had several good openings and couldn’t decide on one so used them all.  Second, no references.  I was shocked.  I’d seen he had no foot- or endnote numbers, but I thought he must be using chapter-by-chapter summary citation at the end.  Then I read about Standard Poodles in the Iditarod and wanted to know more.  I flipped to the back – nothing, not even a bibliography.  Yes, I can google it but I think that, within a book, I should be able to find out where a fact came from.  Isn’t lack of citation plagiarism?

So the scientific bases of his evolutionary, neurological and paleontology arguments are only sporadically backed up with sources in in-text form.  This particularly surprised me because he’s a science journalist.  Reference, reference, reference.

Anyway, you can read a Q & A with him about the book on his website. He says you’ll have to read it to find out how the story ends. For me, the ending did make reading it all worthwhile.

Here is a review of The Wolf in the Parlor’s first 60 pages in The Other End of the Leash, an interesting dog blog. I think the leash should have extended to the end of the book. (From my St. Thomas Dog Blog, May 20, 2011)

Corrie Street Jan. 25/15

Prince Charming

Kirk and Beth’s wedding was as wonderful as I’d hoped. But there were last-minute beth-and-sinead-outside-registryjitters, and those gave me my scene.

Kirk is late for the ceremony, making everyone nervous. Beth fears he’s backed out. And she doesn’t even know about his wibbly spell the previous night.

The registrar says the time on their booked slot is running out, the couple booked next fuss about their wedding maybe running late, the guests mutter about a sinead-consoles-bethno-show groom. Beth doesn’t want to hear any of that, so she’s out front on the steps, nearly in tears. Sinead is with her. Beth tells Sinead she thought all the bad times with men were behind her now, thought Kirky was the one.

As she tries to reconcile herself to being beth-and-sinead-see-kirk Prince Charmingjilted, Kirk jumps out of a van, carrying a boombox and singing along with it – “Prince Charming”. He’s Adam Ant. He’d decided to find the outfit she’d wanted. He wanted to surprise her, go beyond her expectations. He wanted to show her he’d do anything for her because he loved her so very much. Beth wasn’t the only one in tears! I was too.

Kirk-asks-for-silenceLater, during the reception at the Rovers, there was an unintended heartbreaking moment. Kirk wants to give his speech, so he yells above the noise, asking for “a minute of silence”. Tracy laughs, “Why, has somebody died?”

Anne Kirkbride

In a coincidence of timing, it happened that episode aired in Canada the same night that Anne Kirkbride (Deirdre) died. Soon after hearing that sad news, watching Corrie and trying to absorb the fact that we’d never see Deirdre again, hearing what her on-screen daughter said sent me into tears again.

tracy-asks-who-diedSomehow though, if that line had to occur on that particular night, it is right that it came from Tracy. Even when she doesn’t mean to, she can put her foot in it. I could see Deirdre’s look of shock and hear her – “Oh, Tracy luv! What a thing to say!”

Our Deirdre

Deirdre Barlow with EcclesAnne Kirkbride has died. Tonight, after a short illness, say the news reports on CBC and online. We know her best as Deirdre Barlow.

We last saw her flinging a trifle that didn’t set properly against the wall. Evidently being on the brink, she then went to visit a friend so that Anne could have a well-deserved break.

I have been hoping she’d soon return. The Barlow household, indeed the whole street, just isn’t the same without her.

Deirdre washing dishes & cryingMy condolences to her real-life family and her Coronation Street family. She will be sorely missed.

She will always be The Weatherfield One.

Amazon link for coronation street cookbookIn honour of Deirdre’s trifle and her signature stuffed marrow, here’s a link to The Coronation Street Cookbook by Graham Carlisle on Amazon.

 

 

Corrie Street Jan. 18/15

Tinkers

I don’t know (and don’t want to know) how long the Tinker women are going to be tinker-womenaround. At first sight, I knew this is going to be good! I am glad, of course, that they are the other side of the wall of fiction. In real life, I would keep as far away from them as I possibly could. But at a safe remove, they are fun to watch.

Thursday, they completely took over from the minute the door opened to show them standing there like the witches of Macbeth. Then they saw Jason and assumed he was the Arlene-sees-Jasonfiancé. Mother and grandmother were gobsmacked. Arlene too, but she recovered quickly and moved in. Straight across the room to him, every muscle and nerve ending ready to pounce. And only Jason could stand there, completely oblivious, as those three salivated like he was a meal on a plate.

Beth corrected them: Jason was just there to fix the radiator. Kirky would soon be home. When he walked in, simultaneously, three faces filled with lascivious interest changed to disappointed amazement. There is this standing in her living room, and that is what she’s marrying?Arlene-sees-Kirk while shirtless Jason is next to her

The Tinkers continued their takeover of the living room; making themselves at home, demanding tea, criticizing plans, making Kirk nervous.

tinkers-laugh-about-kirkNext night, the eve of the wedding, they thought they were alone in the house. So they voiced their opinion of Kirk – packs boxes and talks like Goofy – and Beth’s wisdom in marrying him. They did not know Kirk was there, on the stairway listening to every word.

He has had enough difficulty believing that Beth, a goddess in his eyes, would actually superman-kirkmarry him. Now he’s heard her family express those same doubts. Poor Kirk. I hope he believes Chesney’s words, that he is a good man. A man to be respected and emulated, with the integrity of Superman.

Lab Mysteries

Click for Amazon link for Randolph A Dog About Town
Click for Amazon link

If you like dogs and mystery novels, or even just one or the other, have a look at J. F. Englert’s Bull Moose Dog Run series.  There are three so far; A Dog About Town (2007), A Dog Among Diplomats (2008) and A Dog At Sea (2009). The ‘sleuth’ who tells the story is Randolph, a middle-aged black Labrador Retriever.

A sucker for animal stories, I’ve read some of the other dog- and cat-perspective mystery series.  I’ve liked them, found them kind of cute, kind of funny. One of the Midnight Louie books by Carole Nelson Douglas made me think about feral cat life and TNR (trap, neuter, release) from the cats’ point of view.  Not as straightforwardly beneficial as people may think it to be. While I’ve enjoyed the animal-detective books I’ve read, I haven’t felt a pressing need to immediately get the next one.

Randolph, a literate Lab

As soon as I finished A Dog About Town, I went back to the library and took out the second, A Dog Among Diplomats.  Now I want to read the third.  I want to know what happens next. Randolph’s take on being an intelligent dog in a human world made me think about many dog behaviours, and people’s behaviour in relating to dogs.  You learn a lot (Randolph is a very literate dog), you are given lots of little doggy asides to think about, and the mysteries at the heart of the books are interesting and well-presented.

As with all novels featuring non-human protagonists, disbelief has to be suspended.  But it wasn’t a lot of work doing that with Randolph.  This is despite him being able to read (a skill learned while being papertrained in puppyhood), and not just reading the cereal box.  He reads Dante’s Inferno, Proust, Kierkegaard and, for light reading, Dickens.  He teaches himself how to use the internet and succeeds in setting up a hotmail account for himself faster than I’ve ever been able to do. But these improbabilities do not get in the way  – I found myself quickly accepting Randolph’s extraordinary skills and just got on with the story.

Dog park behaviour

Randolph’s observations on human-dog interaction are shrewd, even cringe-making sometimes when you recognize yourself.  He also observes the child-dog relationship in a refreshing way, especially coming from a Lab, the perceived ‘kids’ dog’. Randolph takes you into his Manhattan – the streets, Central Park and the dog parks.  He gives you the dog perspective on dog park politics of dogs and people.  He notes the types of dog behaviours in meeting each other and even in their toilet habits.  After you read his descriptions of dog habits, you find yourself watching dogs to see if they fit Randolph’s classification system.  By and large, they do.

Englert is an astute observer of dogs and people, or he has been taught a lot by his own Lab.  I’ve never been a big Lab person – they’re too boisterous and single-minded (usually involving a tennis ball) for me.  But I look at them a bit differently now, after ‘meeting’ Randolph.  He reminds me of Labs I have known and liked, nice old sensible ones.  I also look at my dogs a bit differently, wondering if there’s more going on in their heads than what I have thought.

From my St. Thomas Dog Blog, Apr. 24, 2010.

Corrie Street Jan. 11/15

Gift of the Magi

Maybe it was coincidence that a Christmas week story reminded me of an O. Henry story. In “The Gift of the Magi,” a couple each give up what is most valuable to them in order to give something to the other.

roy in police station, coincidence of airtime in storyRoy and Gary give each other their loyalty. Having both been driven to desperation, they hurt each other. In two scenes Wednesday, each takes the blame for what happened. They do so in ways true to their character: Roy tells the complete truth, Gary lies. Their end purpose is the same, to absolve the other of wrongdoing.

The young hooligans are harassing Roy again. They brag about looking through the things in his apartment. They disparage Hayley, their worst sin in his eyes.

Gary’s family is treating him like a pariah, for becoming involved with Ayla rather than Gary-with-policereturning to Izzy as they had hoped, for having lost his job due to his involvement with Ayla, for having borrowed money from Faye to buy his son a Christmas gift and then having the bad luck to buy something his mother had already bought. Gary’s bad luck is compounded by accidentally breaking “Faye’s one big Christmas present we all clubbed together to get her”.

Desperation – action and reaction

Gary uses Anna’s keys to go into the café to rob it. He does not know what has been happening with Roy, nor how on edge he is. Roy hears noise, grabs his cricket bat, goes bruises-garydownstairs and wallops the young man in the hoodie with his hands in the till. But he doesn’t stop there. On the street, he continues hitting him.

Sinead sees and is horrified by Roy’s violence. She is gentle like Roy, and seeing him out of control terrifies her more, perhaps, than it would any one else.

Roy is arrested and he tells exactly what happened and refuses to press charges against Gary. For Roy, his own actions outweigh what Gary was trying to do. In the hospital, when questioned, Gary says Roy only hit him once and that his extensive injuries came roy-sees-wierdofrom him falling. “I must bruise easily,” he says.

When Roy comes home, he sees the young louts have scrawled “wierdo” on the café window. Roy’s only comment is, “they spelled it wrong.”

 

Burwell Bible

I have never seen the Bible belonging to my great-grandparents, but I know what was written in it, thanks to my grandmother. It looks as if she made a couple of additions as time, and events, went on.

Burwell Bible births and marriages transcribed by Minnie Burwell

For ease of reading, here is what she wrote:

Record Copied From Family Bible of Hercules and Ada Ann Burwell

Hercules Burwell (Father) born Oct. 5, 1848
Ada Ann Burwell (Mother) b. Aug. 30, 1848
James Silas Burwell b. Apr. 30, 1870
Ada Larreau Burwell b. Jan. 3, 1872
Lavonia Burwell b. Apr. 9. 1874
Lewis Maylon Burwell b. Mar. 23, 1879
Charles Hercules Burwell b. Oct. 11, 1880
Merit Lee Burwell b. Jan. 30, 1882
Frederick William Burwell b. July 13, 1884
Wilson Garfield Burwell b. Sept. 29, 1886
Peter Dwight Burwell b. Apr. 18, 1888

Marriages

Hercules Burwell and Ada Ann Norton, Parents
Married Aug. 22, 1869.
Chancy E. Clark and Lavonia Burwell
Married Nov. 9, 1898.
James Silas Burwell and Alice Kennedy
Married July 4, 1906.
Charles Hercules Burwell and Minnie May Lymburner
Married Dec. 14, 1910.
Merit Lee Burwell and Ella Myrtle Chatterton
Married Dec. 10, 1913.
Wilson Garfield Burwell and Florence Wareham
Married Aug. 16, 1911.
Frederick William Burwell and Ada Sophia Meadows [Leach]*
Married Dec. 4, 1916.
Peter Dwight Burwell and Alberta Davis
Married Feb. 14, 1917.
Wilson Garfield Burwell and Annie Miller
Married Apr. 16, 1953. [2nd]
Peter Dwight Burwell and Wilma Maher
Married March 27, 1959. [2nd]

Burwell Bible deaths transcribed by Minnie Burwell

Deaths

Ada Larreau Burwell died Dec. 19, 1875
Lewis Maylon Burwell died Apr. 1, 1882
*Father* Hercules Burwell died Feb. 14, 1890
*Mother* Ada Ann Burwell died Jul 4, 1912
Frederick William Burwell died Feb. 26, 1922
Mrs. Frederick W. Burwell, nee Ada Sophia Meadows*, died [Jan. 17, 1968]
Chancy E. Clark died Dec. 9, 1923
Levoina Clark (Burwell) died Dec. 13, 1923
Merit Lee Burwell died Nov. 27, 1924
Ella Myrtle Burwell (Chatterson) (Chambers) died Sept. 30, 1955
James Silas Burwell died Dec. 19, 1947
Alice (Silas) Burwell (Kennedy) died July 31, 1964
Florence Burwell (Wareham) died Feb. 28, 1950
Wilson Garfield Burwell died Nov 10, 1959
Annie (Miller) Burwell (Wilson’s widow) died July 26, 1971
Alberta Burwell (Davis) died Jan. 7, 1954
Peter Dwight Burwell died Jan. 24, 1961
Charles Hercules Burwell died November 11, 1965

*Grandma knew Ada Sophie first as Meadows, the surname of her first husband Clarence M. Meadows.  Her birth name was Leach.

The Bible would have been in Hercules and Ada Ann Burwell’s house, beside Otter Creek west of Eden in East Elgin County. It was the farm where Ada Ann lived with her parents, Joseph and Mary (Younglove) Norton. Before he married Ada Ann, Hercules Burwell had lived in Fingal, in West Elgin, with his family.

My Old Valley Home, poem by C. H. Burwell, and photograph

The house and farm was inherited by son Frederick Burwell. His son Wilford (my mother’s first cousin) lived there for the rest of his life with his wife Madge (Hodgson, my father’s first cousin). My mother framed a photograph of the farm together with the poem her father wrote about it.

Corrie Street Jan. 4/15

Naughty and Nice

callum-santa-hatSanta Claus is coming to town. And he’s going to blow Kylie’s world apart. Happy Yuletide season for the Platts is over.
Across from the Platts’ house, Callum sits in his car Christmas Day, watching and waiting. He watches Kylie talk to Eva, watches David go into the Bistro. His car radio is playing Christmas tunes.

He sees you when you’re sleeping, he knows when you’re awake,
He knows if you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake.

Being good isn’t going to help Kylie now. Not when David comes in the house and finds callum-reflected-in-mirrorCallum standing close to Kylie. He doesn’t see the look of fear and revulsion on Kylie’s face. He just sees another man, and a little packet of drugs, with his wife. Then he hears what she’s foolishly been hiding from him. This man, her drug supplier, is Max’s father. It shouldn’t be a big surprise to him, but the fact that she kept it from him, and Callum’s gloating, is too much for him.

The Platts gather around for a Christmas dinner that David has insisted be ‘fun’ and ‘pleasant’ and ‘normal’, and is anything but for the adults at least. Then David tells Kylie to pack herself a bag, figure out how to say goodbye to her kids, and get out. Despite the pleas of Kylie and Max, he will not change his mind.

callum-watches-eva-leaveStanding on the street in front of her insanely decorated house, Kylie stands with her silly little bag, wondering what to do. Up pulls Callum’s car. What choice does she have? She gets in.