My Research Project

By Jim Hagarty

How long can a full tank of barbecue propane last?

This is a question I have wanted the answer to for years.

Finally, I found a way to solve the puzzle.

I brought home a full tank last weekend and we had our first barbecue of the season. It was great. I went outside after supper and fired up all three burners full blast to burn off the grease from the grills.

Next morning I walked over in the vicinity of the barbecue and remarked to myself that it seemed unusually warm in that corner of our yard. We have a nice big lot but generally the climate remains fairly constant from one side to the other.


It was then I noticed that the barbecue was still busy barbecuing grease.

I am pleased to report that a full tank of propane will last at least 14 hours.

Somebody should pay me for my research.

So I can get the tank refilled.

My Think Tank

By Jim Hagarty

I just spent some quality time at a think tank where I did a lot of cogitating (look it up, it’s respectable).

As usual I came away from the session having learned a lot and feeling lighter. In fact, it is a pause that refreshes without filling.

My think tank is almond coloured and about three feet high. It has a wooden seat which is nice because it doesn’t get cold, an important attribute on frosty mornings.

If you have a chance to attend a think tank or two sometime, I highly recommend the experience. It is where I have come up with some of my best ideas over the years and those who have encountered the results of some of my best ideas fully agree that they could only have come from my think tank.

All I can say to them is, tanks a lot, I think.

Me and Queen Elizabeth

Al Bossence final

By Al Bossence

(I am not an annoying name dropper. But years ago I wrote a piece for a magazine which was looking for stories on “Famous People I Have Met.” My friend Jim Hagarty asked me if he could reprint it on his blog so after long and tense negotiations (over coffee), I agreed. Keep in mind I didn’t actually meet most of these people.)

I think it was sometime in the mid ’50s I was probably 10 years old or so when I first saw the Queen of England.

It was a fleeting glimpse as she and the Prince of Wales passed by in an open car on William Street, Stratford, Ontario, Canada.

But, I was sure she saw me. After all, I was a young 10-year-old boy with a big imagination so why wouldn’t she have seen me? The roadside was jammed with throngs of cheering people as far as I could see and the Queen of England had just become my friend. It would be another 45 years or so before the Queen and I would lay eyes on each other again.

Canadians will recall some of these next names …

I remember seeing our then-prime minister, John Diefenbaker, when I was a small boy in public school. He stopped in the village of Tavistock, Ontario, where I grew up and gave a speech by the town’s water fountain. I related this story to a friend of mine from Tavy and he said, well don’t you remember Pierre Elliott Trudeau coming through town a few years later doing the same thing. Alas, I didn’t. Must have been one of those days I was playing hooky.

In 1967-68 I was a doorman/car jockey at a then posh Tower Hill apartment building at the corners of St. Clair and Spadina Avenue in Toronto. The president of the Canadian Cancer Society lived there and one night held a big entertainment function. A fellow doorman and I were at the big front glass doors as the limousines rolled up. We smartly stood at attention and swung open the doors for Princess Margaret and Lord Snowden. I remember how she glowed as she walked by with all her jewels on and how handsome Lord Snowden looked. Later that evening, four of us had to move a heavy piano from a hallway into the suite where the party was going on because pianist Peter Duchin was playing. There was a Toronto Maple Leafs hockey player there that night as well but not sure who he was. Might have been Carl Brewer.

Sat at a table next to Canadian singer/songwriter Gordon Lightfoot in a little Halifax coffeehouse back in 1966. I was in the Navy at the time. His career was just in the process of revving up and he was playing there. I remember their table was pretty “lively.” Saw him once more after that in concert at The Center In the Square in Kitchener, Ontario. I think it was sometime in the ’80s.

Saw rompin’ Ronnie Hawkins at the Stratford Coliseum in the early ’60’s when he was a really wild and crazy guy. Some members of his band went on to form “The Band” who in later years backed Bob Dylan.

While living in Stratford Ontario back in the ’90’s I drove for a company called The Stratford Airporter, taking people to and from Pearson International Airport in Toronto. I drove singer and harpist Loreena McKennit several times as well as another lady from a Canadian group called Farmer’s Daughter. Actors from the Stratford Shakespearian Festival frequently traveled as well: Bill Needles, Martha Henry and Rod Beattie were a few of the travellers.

Saw Johnny Cash and June Carter at Toronto’s Ontario Place as well as Tina Turner and Cindy Lauper. Been to concerts in Toronto by The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, ZZ Top, The Eagles, and Neil Young. Saw Roberta Flack on stage at the Festival Theatre in Stratford. Listened to Moe Kaufman playing The Swinging Sheppard Blues in Stratford as well.

Back in the ’70s and ’80s there was a well-known stage actress at the Festival in Stratford by the name of Pat Galloway. Before moving to Bayfield in 2002, I did a lot of landscaping for Pat and her husband Barnhard at their home near St. Marys, Ontario. Really, really nice down-to-earth people. Fellow stage actors William Hutt, Douglas Chamberlain and Douglas Campbell would sometimes be there. In Pat’s heyday we heard that there were some pretty lively parties on their estate with various in town Hollywood actors popping in.

Oh yes, about me and Queen Elizabeth and our second meeting. I think it might have been in the summer of 1998. The Queen was in Stratford again and I heard she would be heading off to Woodstock, Ontario, in the early afternoon. I knew that I may never see her again so I hopped on my motorcycle and headed over to a spot out in the country along Highway 59 just a few miles north of Hickson, Ontario. Nice open spot and no throngs of people this time.

Finally, the normal traffic going by ended. No cars at all. I waited and waited and then one car went by and few minutes another one followed a few minutes later by another one. This went on for about five minutes. Had I missed her?

Then I saw the convoy of cars coming fast. First one, two or three and then there she was and she was sitting by the back window on my side of the road. Light blue outfit with a matching blue hat.

I was standing beside my motorcycle as I waved. No mistaking it this time, she looked right at me, but alas, there was no recognition in her eyes from 45 years before.

Whoooooooosh, the car was by in seconds and she was gone.


By Jim Hagarty

I love quotes. Little sayings that make me think, make me laugh, give me courage, give me perspective. I collect them and Mitt Romney-like, keep them in binders. I have quotes on areas likes fear, procrastination, courage, love, achievement plus other categories.

Starting today, I am sharing one quote I like per day. Click on inspiration. Without a trace of ego (ha!) the first entry is one of my own quotes. I promise things will improve after this.

Not Like It Was Love

Bad Daughter cd cover

By Jim Hagarty
A couple of years ago, I wandered into my favourite local music hall to hear a great band that had gotten back together after many years and were playing their debut reunion concert. The opening act was a mother and daughter duo who blew me away with their set. Guitars, auto harp, sweet voices and wonderful harmonies. Calling themselves the McCullough Girls, mom Deborah McCullough and her daughter Callie played songs they had written and recorded in session in Nashville and released on a CD called Bad Daughter. I couldn’t get over how good they sounded on stage and afterwards, I met them and bought their CD. That summer I drove the back roads around my town listening over and over to the disc and couldn’t get enough of it. The McCullough girls hail from Stratford but have played in venues all over North America. I am not sure of their status as a duo at the moment but I have been in touch with Callie who is agreeable to allowing me to feature their songs on Lifetime Sentences. When I get the details, I will offer the CD for sale in the Corner Store. One of my favourite songs on the record is Not Like It Was Love. I hope you like it.

Not Like It Was Love by the McCullough Girls

Fare Thee Well Hee Haw

By Jim Hagarty

I have been listening to modern country music on a local radio station the past couple of months and I am really enjoying it.

Seriously. No joking. I love it.

I’ve always loved old country and now I love the new. But I believe that the new music is having some strange effects on me and I am not sure what to do.

First off, I have a gigantic urge to buy a pickup truck. And it’s gotta be a Chevy. No furrin’ vehicles for me and not even a Ford or a Dodge. Just a good ole Chevy.

Next, I need to keep it off the highways and drive it only down dirt roads. That might be hard to do because all our non-paved roads are gravel, not dirt, but maybe I could find one north of Millbank somewhere. Someone might declare that a gravel road is a dirt road but I challenge those people to make a mud pie from a pile of gravel.

Then I need to find a girl. Yes, I said it, but I don’t really mean a girl, girl. I mean a young woman. Now, she needs to be little. Not sure why, but she does. Medium sized, plus sized – uh, uh. And purty. I need to find a purty little contray girl and drive around in my truck with her, down some dirt roads north of Millbank.

This girl, whom I will call baybay, needs to dress like a cowboy with hat and boots and jeans and lumberjack shirt during the day. She has to be tough as a grizzly bear and mean as a rattlesnake. However, when not behaving like a gunslinger on the main street of a dusty western town (Millbank), she needs to be ready for the beach in the summer. For that, she will have to wear cutoff blue jeans and either a halter top or tube top, her choice. Blonde hair. Long blonde hair. And she needs to rest her head on my chest at every opportunity.

In the evening, my young cowboy/lumberjack/partial nudist will dress up prettier than a princess except she’ll have way more class than a real one.

Truck, girl, what else? Booze. Plenty of it. Beer. More beer. Hose Cuervo tequila. Jack Daniels whisky. A margareta or 10. Pour me another one.

Oh, and if the truck’s in the shop, an old car will do. Chevy, of course. An el Camino, ideally. (Kids, ask your grandparents what that is.)

I feel an urge I have never had before to go fishing. All day long. But before I head out, I need to get down on my knees and say a prayer to the man upstairs. To thank him for the truck and the girl, the booze and the fishing gear and the dirt road north of Millbank.

After a day of fishin’, I will head for a bar. Maybe get in a fight. Probably win it. Maybe not. It really doesn’t matter as good ole boys such as me all love and forgive each other.

I’m gonna throw a lot of coins in the jukebox even though such a machine hasn’t been seen in these parts for 30 years.

When I stagger home, I will sit on my front porch for a while and look at the stars. Go kiss my truck and then crawl in with my lumberjack/little girl/princess for some kissin’ and who knows what else.

But I can’t stay up too late. Got a busy day tomorrow. I want to listen to great country tunes on the radio by Garth Brooks, George Jones, Conway Twitty, Johnny Cash – even though they aren’t played on the radio any more. Maybe satellite radio.

If I’m feeling adventurous, I might even listen to some Springsteen or Bon Jovi. And I will need to bang out some tunes of my own on my old guitar. I don’t know why my guitar has to be old, but oh well. So are my truck and my car.

I will write some songs and in the songs I will plunk as many American states and cities as I can, but only the country ones – Texas, Alabama, Tennessee. No New York or California. Memphis, Nashville, Fort Worth. No Chicago, no Boston.

So, that’s about it. Can’t think of much else I’m feeling after eight weeks of modern country music except that I’m grateful for the country I live in and feel sorry for any idiot who might criticize it to my face.

Oh yeah, on my to do list: buy a horse and a big dog. Bring ‘em home in my truck. I just can’t wait to get that truck.

Also, wish I was smart as my Dad. Mom made the best pies ever.

Except for Anna Mae’s in Millbank.