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Poor Fred

Here is Elizabeth Safley Brinker performing her wonderful take on David Sawyer’s song Poor Old Fred.

Next week David Sawyer will be a guest on The Agency Podcast. Be sure to tune in to hear his version of this fab song.

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A Cool Morning Walk, Humber Bay East

the grackle – the neighbourhood bully

look up

male red-wing blackbird
Always an interesting view
Mr. Cardinal
Perhaps a northern mockingbird?

surprising colour blast
my city

red-necked grebes
lots of tree swallows
long tail duck
robins everywhere
a popular spot
and another

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The new episode of The Agency Podcast is up. Listen right here or find it at all the good podcast places.

This week we talk to the charming and uber-talented singer/songwriter Moses Lightergang. Moses provided two musical selections and we have a wonderful conversation with him. 
We also share our suspicions and disappointments about world leaders. We talk weird pantry offerings…and we talk about the things that are on everybody’s mind. 

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Everything is Broken

I was surfing around the YouTube this morning and found my way to this excellent cover of the Bob Dylan song Everything is Broken complete with a fab set of imagery. This is Don Carpenter on chromatic button accordion and vocals and Karen Sellers on Drums. It seems like an appropriate song for our times. Mr. Dylan wrote it for the 1989 album Oh Mercy. Everything is broken has been played and recorded by many musicians over the years. Also check out R.L. Burnside’s version.

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The Simple Elegance of the Semicolon

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Listen to the new episode of The Agency Podcast here or find it at all the good podcast places.

This week we have a visit with singer/songwriter and musician David Tombesi-Walton. This episode features two musical selections by his band Mr. Wu’s Pigs. We also talk about monsters, holiday bread, and we break a few eggs. If you would like to reach your local Special Agent, email us anytime.

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Squeeze Box Man – Volume VI

This morning I picked up the new issue of Squeeze Box Man from the printer. Anyone interested in buying a copy can email me. Copies of this issue or any of the back issues are $12/copy + $3 postage to anywhere. For subscribers to the entire set, I’ll be getting your copy of the latest issue in the mail this week. It turns out the entire story will not fit in the planned 6 issues so there will be an issue VII out soon. Subscribers to the set will receive the final comic as a free bonus issue.

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The Net

I asked my brother if I could borrow his landing net for my canoe trip to Quetico this summer. Most of my fishing is fly fishing in streams for trout and I have a small net that hangs from the back of my fishing vest. In Quetico though, we’re apt to catch some much larger fish. I wanted to bring a bigger landing net, but since I don’t do a lot of lake fishing, I really didn’t want to buy one. My brother tossed his net in his car, and the plan was for us to meet up someplace between his place up west of Alliston and my place in the city for a social distanced net hand-over. The date and time we had planned to meet didn’t work out, so he decided to simply leave the net in his car for when we finally did meet up.

Today he drove from his place over to the Boyne and Pine rivers to have a look at the streams and see if he could spot some of the big rainbow trout in the rivers. He had his camera with him and he was taking photos. It was beside one of the rivers that he met a conservation officer, who asked him if he had been fishing. The season was after all closed. My brother said no, he was taking photos of the river and showed the guy his camera. Well, the conservation officer saw the landing net in the car and became suspicious my brother was indeed a poacher. He asked to search the car. I wonder if conservation officers actually have the power to do a search? What would have been the outcome if my brother had a fishing rod in his trunk?

I haven’t actually seen a conservation officer on an Ontario stream since the early to mid 90s. I used to see them now and then on the upper Credit and regularly on the Grand. I think there were lots of provincial cut-backs once Mike Harris came to power in Ontario. It’s good to see there are some level of stewardship going on these days.

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First Planting

My seed order arrived from the good folks at Stokes yesterday, a few green veggies which I grow in big containers in the sunny strip beside our front walkway. Among them is a veggie I love but have never grown. It’s known as Chinese broccoli or sometimes Chinese kale or as gai lan or sometimes guy lon (at my local Asian market, it’s gai lan). It looks more like rapini than broccoli or kale to me. Regardless of what you might call it, it’s a super tasty vegetable I enjoy either steamed or stir-fried.

My seed package points out this is a cool season crop which should only be sewn in early spring or fall, as mid-summer crops will bolt to seed. The directions are for planting directly outdoors March 15-April 10 for harvesting May 20-June 15. Well, I missed March 15 because I didn’t have the seeds, but I was out early this morning preparing a container. This is a large rectangular container which I used last year for rainbow chard. I’ll use a similar container for chard, which will I’ll plant in a couple weeks.

As I harvest gai lan in early June, I’m going to plant some pole beans in the same container. Other seeds I’m going to plant out front this year include bunching onions, Bright Lights chard, Hybrid mustard cabbage (bok choi), and Napa cabbage. When they’re available, I’ll pick up some little lettuce plants and also some kale from the garden centre and once there is no longer a danger of frost, I’ll plant some tomato plants and maybe more gai lan in the fall.

At last count, my front yard veggie garden included over 30 containers of various sizes. I had tried to grow veggies in a raised bed out back, but there is limited sun, and none of the sun-loving veggies thrived there. The front yard veggie garden is an experiment triggered by construction next door. They removed 3 or 4 trees when they replaced the modest bungalow to the south of us with a huge home. I was disappointed we lost the trees – it seems we’re trading trees for development all around Long Branch these days, and our canopy is shrinking. However, there was an unintended consequence to the loss of the trees, and that is it created a sunny strip on the south side of our front pathway.

I tried a few containers out there, and buoyed by our success, I’ve been expanding this garden. As well as the containers, I have garlic in the ground (it’s up!) and I plant a few other things directly in the ground as well.

Bring on the spring!