Monday, August 19, 2013


I spent most of my Saturday - at least it seems that way - hunting fruit flies.  We bought fruit from Atlantic Superstore and used it right away, but we've been left with a rapidly expanding population of these tiny beasts.

Normally I don't kill anything (excepting mosquitoes or other blood sucking bastards!), but this is war.  I have already learned much more than I need to know about the drosophila melanogaster.  They live about one month, which, judging by the rate of reproduction since yesterday, is potentially a lot of fruit flies.

War takes its tole on both sides though.  The enemy must invade your mind to be successful (I'm thinking I should have read that free public domain copy of The Art of War that's on my Kobo) and you have to learn to think like your enemy to be victorious.

I firmly believe that both sides lose.  With each death I cause I lose something inside of me.  It matters not what I kill or am responsible for killing.  I try to limit that weight as much as I am able.

No matter how fleeting or seemingly insignificant the life of the fruit fly - or anything else - is, they want to survive, just like us.  Perhaps, after this life, their spirit will move on to some other being, maybe even human (I know plenty of humans that don't appear far removed from a fruit fly).  We may too.  Still, we all try to hang onto the present because of that fear of the unknown.  The future just may turn out to be better than we imagine in our thoughts rooted in fear, anxiety and uncertainty.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Great Dollar Store Wars of 2013

When future historians regard the Saint John history annals, the year 2013 may just compare in significance to notable events such as the great fire of 1877 or the start of the Great War because the city and its residents has been thrust unwittingly into the marrow of a fierce battle for supremacy and survival between the warring Dollar Store Plus, located in Brunswick Square, and Your Dollar Store With More on Germain Street.

In an economy that has many retail shops struggling and having seen businesses close their doors, Saint Johnners are gaping with anxiety as someone has had the audacity to challenge the very  existence of a local icon, the mall-bound Dollar Store Plus.

The interloping Your Dollar Store With More has invaded the space once occupied by the venerable Appleby's Image Centre and has begun to buttonhole their way into the pervasive cheap-goods market so affluent uptown.

The tension has formed like a great wall of fog permeating the once hot (okay, somewhat warm)summer air as one tries to pass the streets laden with sandwich board signs directing the consumer this way and that.

To see the horror at its pinnacle, visit uptown Saint John on a cruise ship day to witness throngs of tormented tourists standing in confused agony trying to decide where to purchase those necessary made-in-China souvenirs of their trip to the Loyalist City and Canada.

For some, this has to be better than wrestling or MMA because, in the true spirit of dollar store wars, it's free to watch.  Stay tuned.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Not Dying Today

I've been in awe of the survival instinct in some creatures since I was young.  I admire it and often wish mine was as strong, although hope not to have to test my resolve too much.

About a week ago I was waiting for Holly on Germain Street in our car and spotted a haggard, young, grey seagull with its wing hanging limply at its side cross the street at King and walk hurriedly up the street.  It tugged at my heart and I wished him well, but knew there wasn't much, if anything, I could do for a wild, scared gull.

Yesterday, I rounded the corner of Horsfield onto Germain and there, beside Trinity Dental's brick wall, was the same bird.  He didn't run from me this time.  I carefully passed him, trying not to look at all threatening, fearing he may bolt away into the street or try and fly, injuring the wing more, reversing any possible healing that may have occurred.

After passing, I realized I had a giant bag of dried fruit and nuts I had just purchased in the excursion to Costco the night before, so I pulled some out and tossed him some large pieces of fruit and nuts hoping it was okay for seagulls.

Leaving the studio that evening, he was in the same spot, breaking bread with some pigeons and a crow.  And on my way in this morning, he was there again and I was prepared with a bit of cheap dog food with which we normally feed our raccoons.

I thought the outlook for this little guy (okay, I have no clue how to differentiate sex in gulls) was bleak when I first saw him, but I now have hope that perhaps, with the community's effort for sustenance, kindness and respect, he may have a bit of a chance.

I would hate some dog - leashed or not - to scare him into danger.  Cats in the area, already sentenced to the perils of a life outdoors, seem to be giving this large bird space.  He must have found somewhere safe to await the morning when night falls. He's clearly resourceful and has found a way to survive.

Gulls are a part of our Fundy heritage and give the uptown area a whole lot of character.  I routinely hear the frantic alarm from his kin even from the confines of the studio and who hasn't admired the grace with which they glide between the office buildings upon a current we can't see?  This youngster deserves a chance.

I sent messages to two Maritime wildlife rescues asking for their advice, but haven't heard back from either as of this posting.  It's a shame the nearest wildlife refuge seems to be in Sackville, NB.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

I'm Tellin' Ya, That's Nuts

Since Costco moved to Saint John, destroying trees and displacing deer and other equally adorable critters, we refused to support them, despite the promise of the lower prices that could be involved.  It seems rather like some secret society for the modern western world - you pay a membership fee for the privilege of shopping there, then you're given a sort of secret handshake in the form of savings by purchasing obscene amounts of highly processed consumer goods combined with relatively decent customer service, especially when compared with the uninspired walking-dead cast that seem to make up the staff (and clientele) at Wal-Mart.  At least you don't have to dress in white sheets.

We are not box store types, we founded Cash Mobs Saint John, for goodness sake.  We feel a strangely sickening feeling walking through their brightly lit large, automated doors that makes us think they must have been involved some way with the extinction of unicorns or some equally horrific misdeed.  But, being that we don't have deep enough pockets or unlimited time to search out local everything, we do need to feed their coffers on a depressingly regular basis.

Our comrade, Back-Alley Bill (trust me, that moniker is a compliment), who until recently was a long-time holdout, offered to smuggle us inside as a guest (envision a pledge at some extremely boring fraternity) to see if the savings warranted the sale of a piece of our souls.

We meandered through the aisles, gawking at the volumes like hillbillies newly exposed to city life, routinely stating, "That's a good price," as we passed giant boxes of sugar-laden cereals, pro and pre-biotic infused snack goods, and industrial strength garbage bags.

We drew smirks from the other customers as we gawked at the restaurant-sized container of Nutella and exclaimed, "Yeah, there's a good idea.  Sit that in front of the kids in the morning and tell them to help themselves.  Who would buy that?" we asked each other.

Loading our bag-less spoils into our vehicle, wondering why on earth we purchased a huge bottle of pickled asparagus, we reflected upon the prospect of joining and could not deny that the help our budget will receive is on the plus side, so we may pony up the fifty-five dollars for a membership.  We reason with ourselves by stating that Costco does pay and treat their employees better than other box stores.  The unanswered question is what kind of a hit will our community-minded spirit take?

I must note that the inspired photography of Bill Lapp can be viewed at The New Artisan Studio at 87 Germain Street, Saint John, NB.  Come check it out!