I Want This Car!

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By Jim Hagarty
I don’t often hanker for old, old cars, but I flipped out when I saw this 1931 Ford Model ‘A’ parked at my vet’s yesterday. It is such a beauty. I eventually watched the owners come out and drive away. A man and woman in maybe their early ’60s. Well dressed in natty attire, sort of old fashioned. Straw hats. They drove out of the parking lot, their car hardly making a sound. She had her arm around him. I bet they had a good day.

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Harvest Season Arrives

By Jim Hagarty
2007

The recent rain has been hailed as a good thing for the crops. We haven’t exactly suffered drought conditions this summer but things were getting a bit parched.

In my neighbourhood, I must say, it’s been a very good growing season. The flattened pop can crops along sidewalks and parking lots have not been stilted by the shortage of precipitation. Likewise, clear plastic water bottles, many still half full, have popped up like wildflowers everywhere, decorating the landscape with the glints of the sun that reflect off their shiny surfaces. The rows on rows of potato chip bags are much improved over last year when the quantity was noticeably down.

But most encouraging has been the comeback of the shopping cart crops that seemed to have withered in the recent past.

The colourful growths – sturdy and standing as much as four feet tall – come in a variety of bright colours this year. And they can mostly be found in alleyways and parking lots, sometimes appearing overnight on front lawns. It is difficult to know, sometimes, who has sown the shopping carts as no one ever seems to claim them.

So, one day two weeks ago, my family and I decided to harvest some of them, as they seemed in danger of becoming overripe. My son grabbed a dark green one, my daughter a bright green one and we started off to return them to the east end malls from where it seemed likely the shopping cart seeds had originated. Alas, the young ones began complaining, as we marched along the main street of town in full view of four lanes of traffic, that the stores might think we had stolen the carts – and drivers (some of whom we probably knew) might also entertain strange thoughts.

This had not occurred to me, so I hung back, to disassociate myself from the cart pushers ahead of me. Alas, however, a third cart was spotted – a brilliant red one – and soon I was trudging along pushing the fruits of my labour too. Eventually, amidst much whining, complaining and self-pity (the kids objected too), we arrived at our destination and deposited our harvest at the appropriate locations.

We hope to find our reward in Heaven as there appeared precious little immediate recompense for our good deeds. Another scenario was suggested, again, one that I hadn’t thought of in my do-gooder haste. If the people growing the cart crops around our house know we’ll return them, won’t that just encourage them to bring home more? Since when did they start teaching logic in the schools?

Since then, like hay that comes back after its first cutting in June, the carts have returned, as lush as ever. But now we walk by them, hoping some other family might take up the harvest. We are kept busy enough, as it is, reaping the wild coffee cup and the yellow donut box, and the occasional fast-food bag.

We even took in two boxes of empty beer bottles from a lot next door. These we returned to the beer store without hesitation and realized a $6 return for our good deed!

Harvest time is my favourite season.

Animal House

By Jim Hagarty

One thing to know about me, and something I freely own up to, is I know a little bit about a lot of things and not a lot about anything.

Some things I know just are not things at all. It is a shock to me, sometimes, when someone points out that what I believe to be true is absolutely not true at all. It can be a bit embarrassing, but I just move on with the new information in place.

When I was a kid growing up on the farm, this much I knew: there was no connection between humans and non-humans and, of course, humans were superior. I liked non-humans like crazy and living on a farm, I was surrounded at all times by more non-humans than humans. Still, I did not have a lot of appreciation for anything that did not walk on two legs and was unable to talk, at least talk in a way that other humans could understand. It did not occur to me that animals, birds, insects and even plants could communicate with each other and with species not their own. They just moo’ed or whinnied or chirped for no particular reasons and that was that.

But 65 years on, I have a different appreciation now for the world around me. How this affects me today is the fact that I can’t kill anything any more. Anything. If a fly is buzzing around my head while I sit here typing, I capture it with my hand and release it outside. On the farm, I killed just way too many living things to make we want to do it again, even if I am annoyed. Yes, I am responsible for the deaths of lots of non-humans even today when I sit down to a nicely barbecued pork chop supper, but …

I think this is why I have changed my views. Enough tidbits of knowledge about the natural world has seeped into my brain over the years to give me a few different ideas about man’s dominance over the universe.

A few years ago, and don’t hold me too tightly to this information, but the story began circulating that the birds we see flying around are actually leftover dinosaurs. Their ancestors, those big guys that tromped around, stomping and roaring, died out 80 million years ago. And yet, these descendants of some of those dinos are still flying around. A bunch of them are cawing away in my backyard as I speak.

There are also certain kinds of chipmunks that were scurrying around when the dinosaurs were ripping it up. Even some groundhogs. When the asteroid hit and the dinosaurs died, many of the creatures who could take refuge underground emerged later to carry on. I am a enthusiastic genealogist but I can only trace my ancestry back a couple of hundred years. Some little chipmunks can lay claim to ancestry dating back 100 million years or more. That impresses me.

And then there is the origin of humans. Lots of theories, lots of evidence. We used to live in the trees, then came down to the ground when environmental disasters forced us to go looking on the plains for something to eat.

But before we climbed those trees, we somehow walked out of the ocean one day. And when we did, we were dragging tails behind us.

That sounds almost preposterous, doesn’t it?

Then this question that gets posed:

Why does a human being have a tailbone?

I think my feeling of superiority began to crumble a bit the first time in school that I learned that a human being is an animal.

Wait, what?

We may be incredible animals and maybe we have gone a little farther than the non-human ones we see around us, but we are just a part of nature.

Over the years, dating back to the farm, some of my best friends have been non-human animals.

I am glad that has been the case.

Stop Just Sayin’

By Jim Hagarty

I have no decent explanations for the things that bug me on a regular basis, I freely admit. I want to locate the first person who ever said or wrote this super annoying expression: “Just sayin'”. I would like to take that person out behind the barn and administer a much-needed attitude adjustment. I do not know what it is that “just sayin'” is supposed to mean. Does it mean, which I suspect it does, that I am not responsible for the bullshit I just now expressed and you will have to give me a pass on it because, after all, I am “just sayin'”.

In other words, yes, what I have just expressed is probably unacceptable but I have a right to say it so boo hoo for you if you don’t like it.

“If Obama is really an American citizen, howcum we have never heard him singing a Merle Haggard song? Just sayin’…”

I believe that this expression was especially designed for people who want to get their hatred out there and not be held to account for it. So, if you see it at the end of a comment, read that comment over again and tell me I am wrong.

It is the hater’s shorthand and a little classier than, “Fuck you!”

Just sayin’.

My Fun Family Car

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By Jim Hagarty
In the early ’70s, our neighbour on the farm who had moved to town, died. His widow did not want to keep the car she and he husband had used. So she sold their 1966 Chevelle Malibu to my Dad for $400 and he gave the car to me. It was a lighter shade of blue than the one shown above at a classic car display in my hometown this week, but identical in every other way. I loved that car. It had a very peppy engine and as most four-door sedans in those days, a bench front seat. The bench had so many advantages, a major one being that on a date, proceedings did not have to be relocated to the back seat where there was more room. And in the days before seatbelts became the law, a young man could drive down the road with his date sitting tight beside him, one arm on the steering wheel and the other around his girlfriend. The worst thing to happen to car-inspired love was the bucket seat. How sexy is it to sit in a bucket? One thing that amazes me is how this car, bigger than most full-size American cars on the road today, was considered almost a compact, much smaller than its older Chevy cousins such as the Impala. The Chevy Nova (at first also called the Chevy II), in fact, was even smaller than the Chevelle and I believe was actually referred to as a compact. To see one today makes that classification laughable. It is huge.

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