Going 1, 2, 3 fast

12 Jul

It’s a wee bit slow in Dunvegan these days. With the cancellation of the Honey Fair, there’s not a lot going on at the Glengarry Pioneer Museum until the end of the month (more on this next week). And to be fair, aside from soccer, summer is usually pretty quiet at the Dunvegan Recreation Association.

As for the hamlet itself, most people seem content to enjoy the summer weather forecasts, blessed as they are with no mention of snow, sleet, nor gloom of night. However, despite the surface tranquility, I suspect there are a few residents busy getting ready to put their homes on the market, before the bubble pops. I wouldn’t be surprised if at least four properties saw For Sale signs hammered into their front lawns.

About the most exciting thing in sight this week is the auction that will be held Thursday evening, July 13th at 19520 County Road 24. That’s east of the Dunvegan crossroads, although you shouldn’t have any problem finding it. Just look for the hundreds of cars parked on the side of the road. Under the expert guidance of auctioneer Peter Ross, Allan Walker will put an eclectic assortment of items on the block that he deems surplus to his new life in downtown Vankleek Hill. The list includes everything from a juicy compact tractor combo (complete with attachments) to an antique pump organ and a vintage Super 8 projector.

Billed as an “on-site live twilight auction,” — thanks to Covid, we now have to specify that the event is in-person and only for the undead — the sale promises to be a fast-paced affair. It starts at 5:30 pm sharp and is slated to last a maximum of 90 minutes.

I know the day will come when Terry and I will have to move on… or under, as the case may be. But I struggle to imagine what Allan and Claire will be feeling after the gavel drops for the last time Thursday night and they know the movers will arrive in a few days to transport the rest to their new home on the hill. Best of luck to you both.

Punch Buggy for adults

I’m unsure of how pioneer families kept the young’uns occupied on long buggy or sleigh rides to town, but when my best bud and I rode in the back of his dad’s new 1957 Pontiac, ‘I Spy with My Little Eye’ was all the rage. However, by the time Terry and I had kids, ‘Punch Buggy’ had usurped it.

For those unfamiliar with Punch Buggy, it’s a car-spotting game played by kids in the days when they interacted with each other and not just their smartphones. The way it worked was that the players would call out “Punch Buggy” whenever they saw a Volkswagen Beetle and thereby earn the right to lightly punch an opponent.

It occurred to me that we might rejig this old pastime for adults as an aid to staying awake during endless meetings, presentations and seminars. Instead of Volkswagens, players would be on the look out for ‘ings’… buzzword like ‘decolonizing,’ ‘onboarding’ or one of my latest bugbears: saying ‘going forward’ to mean ‘from now on’ or ‘in the future.’ Its use is ubiquitous in both the corporate world and the public service.

As Paul Brians points out in his book Common Errors in English Usage, offenders think the phrase ”gives a sense of action, purpose, and direction…” Other folks though, find it pretentious, especially when it’s just being used to indicate the future. “Since in English our verbs do this job nicely, ‘going forward’ is often superfluous,” Brians writes.

Not sure how the scoring for ‘Punch Smuggy’ would work, but I’m open to suggestions, going forward. 

Christmas in July?

When Terry told me that some enterprising young person has started an apple-pressing business in Alexandria, I was reminded of how popular the cider-making demonstrations at the museum used to be. Oft times when Velma Franklin was curator, she would haul out the old cider press from the museum’s collection and put on a demonstration. Terry and I would cart down loads of windfall fruit from the apple trees that Mogens Jensen had planted on our farm years before, and a great time was had by all. There’s something organically gratifying to hear the crisp crushing of the fruit and the see the juice pour forth with each turn of the screw.

When I spoke with curator Jennifer Black about the status of the press, she reported that it had to be ‘retired’ a number of years ago in order to preserve it as an artifact. Nevertheless, she agrees that cider-making was a great draw, and would be a super addition to the Harvest Fall Festival.

This, in turn, sparked a ‘Museum Wish List’ discussion that I offered to mention here. Jennifer wonders if there’s a Summer Santa out there who has a working cider press they’d be willing to donate to the GPM. In addition to being used at the annual FallFest, it would make an excellent demonstration station for the “Pioneer Days” program for Grade 3 students in the spring.

To be perfectly honest, Jennifer is actually looking for two Summer Santas. The second item on her wish list is an old-fashioned manual ice cream maker. She tells me their present one is getting a little long in the tooth. Naturally, it would have to be one of the ‘cedar bucket with a tin chiller and wooden dasher’ type, in order to give Fall Festival visitors that authentic, hand-cranked experience.

If you are in a position to help with either of theses appeals, please give Jennifer a ring at 613-527-5230. I don’t want to make any promises, but I’d check with her if your donation(s) would be tax deductible.