Saturday, February 26, 2011



Frog 2 of 3 in series
/ S. Shawcross / 8 x 10 / Oil on canvas / $100 or all 3 paintings for $275
Be sure to visit our painting blog:

This weeks feature video:
Oh Bathroom humour... where would we pee without it?

CURRENT COMMENTARY: This column was written in 2005 at the height of the green movement and its migration into Chelsea--then heralded as a model green community world-wide. It is very doubtful it retains that title now with the loss of land and habitat to construction. Ironically the council that accepted awards for their "green efforts" at the same time were laying the foundation for its demise, now encouraged by our new council. The construction continues unabated. The new green residents brought significant change to Chelsea which I began to address in my "Countryfolks Guide to Chelsea" columns. Of course as they say, "you ain't seen nothing yet" when it comes to change in Chelsea. Chelsea, either by design or indifference or both, will soon become "the kind of place everybody wanted to escape from by moving to Chelsea." The irony of the Universe never ceases to amaze. This column was the first on the theme. Enjoy.

Confusion sometimes happens when country-folk are suddenly confronted with the whole new set of rules brought here to Chelsea by city-folk looking for a country-folk lifestyle.

For example, the dos and don’ts of doggie doo-doo. This is a new situation for country folks who usually had better things to do with their time than following their dogs about with baggies. Having something better to do with their time will soon be a distant memory for country-folks who are learning now how to keep up with the neighbors which is a very time-consuming activity.

Yet, even country-folk turned suburbanites will want to be good citizens in preparing for what’s coming, so here is the question: should the collected doo-doo be put in the recycling, garbage or compost bin? Some people use doggie doo-doo as fertilizer in their gardens. (Dedicated gardeners that they are.) But surely most won’t want to be using raw doggie doo in their gardens unless legislated to do so. Of course, most people flick the doo-doo into the woods but even this is destined to be a problem: if “everybody” flicks their doggie doo into the woods…

Some bring it home and flush it down the toilet. Now willfully bringing a bag of doggie doo into the house may make some people squeamish. Not because they’re actually carting around a pocketful of doggie doo but the mostly because living in Chelsea they know plastic bags are not recyclable. Most conscientious people committed to green lifestyles usually re-use their plastic bags or they use paper or cloth ones. Using paper bags, particularly on the days when Fido has eaten too many prunes, just doesn’t make sense. And its not a very pleasant idea to put these types of paper bags in the recycling bin for some poor person at Chelsea’s new recycling depot to have to sort through. How pleasant would that be? And washing out the equivalent of cloth doggie-diaper doo-doos… Well… really… We “have” to be realistic about this.

Now this still leaves us with washing out plastic bags that once held doo-doo. How do green lifestyle people live with this apparent contradiction? What can be done? Is creating a landfill site and filling it with doggie doo-doo bags our only solution? It seems inevitable. Since that is bound to happen we can probably leave the doo-doo in the bags and put it in the garbage bin. How sad all this is. There just isn’t any other answer is there? But wait, maybe there is a solution to this whole problem of doggie doo-doo.

Apart from creating a doggie doo-doo septic waste treatment plant that would cost a lot of money or putting recyclable diapers on Fido, we may consider shipping our doggie doo to the third world. (Or course, we’ll need an additional bin labeled “merde”) We can help fertilize parched fields and they can create their own landfill site of plastic bags. They’re overpopulated there as it is so they can’t possibly disagree with adding more land. Instead of teaching English we could teach third worlders how to follow first-world suburbanites (or their dog-walkers) around with shovels and buckets. They’ll be much more likely to get landed immigrant status if they have a useful skill. And now a delicate topic… Unfortunately over there in the third world some communities have been known to eat dogs; mostly because of cultural norms but sometimes just because they’re starving. We’ll have to enact a by-law to prevent them from doing this here because we need these dogs to provide the doo-doo for all this important activity.

Now… about used kitty litter. Opening the door and letting the cat out is something country-folk do. Now you need to use something called kitty litter. But that’s for the next chapter maybe when we discuss castrating Cedrick the cranky barnyard tomcat.

Saturday, February 19, 2011



Billy Blue / S. Shawcross / 20 x 24 / Oil on canvas / SOLD
Be sure to visit our painting blog:

This weeks feature video:
With all the Middle East Uproar, this piece remembers Iraq

CURRENT COMMENTARY: This column, written in 2005 is probably the one that would later spur my regular columns on scientists. I would go on to found (in a figurative sense) the "Society for the Rehabilitation of Misguided Scientists" where I encourage them to take up needlework. It astounds me what they do out there in the name of science but it was ever thus and these columns afford me much delight so I guess I'm quite appreciative of the scientists out there. And most of them, because I usually check with the scientists before I publish, take my words with good humour. Once however, I got a call from the husband of one of the scientists who was studying mouse pee... Well... that was a column that never did appear, damn fine as it was... lol. I take on the scientists again in my next column published in the West Quebec Post. The scientist in question was quite a good sport about it all thank heavens (despite my own cringing as I forwarded it to him for approval because even I can't believe what I write sometimes. The muse has a mind of its own...) Anyway, the column below is pretty tame compared to what I eventually get up to. Enjoy.


I remember the good old days… Just last month as a matter of fact. Back in January 2005 we could find ourselves rolling down Highway 105 at the top of Mile Hill only to be transfixed by the magical sweep of Ottawa’s skyline in the distance. It was enough to make your heart flutter and make you darn right glad to be alive. Now it’s February and times have changed. Now the heart doesn’t flutter like it used to or if it does we don’t notice, preoccupied as we are by the thought that maybe our lungs aren’t getting enough oxygen and we’re just lucky to be alive. No longer do we see the skyline, now we see the smog.

Seems to me we didn’t have smog back in January. Back then the Quebec government hadn’t yet decided to unveil its new platform on wood stoves as toxic environmental pollutants. Back then the scientists weren’t even monitoring smog levels in winter. But now they are. Makes you kinda wonder which came first, the smog or the regulations. I remember back in January how we used to throw a log on the woodstove and watch the fire. So much for that small pleasure. Which brings us to the obvious conclusion: its time we starting stressing Liberal Arts in University.

There are far too many scientists and they are out of control. They are slaughtering chickens in Asia, cows in England and mosquitoes in Canada. They’re warning us about skin cancer, effluence, alien invasive species, smog, acid-rain and toxic waste. Why? It’s obvious of course: it’s a cry for help.

The truth is, scientists are miserable and they want us to help them but they don’t know how to ask for help so they slaughter chickens instead. It is obvious they hate the world and they don’t want anyone else to be happy.

We never used to have holes in the ozone, or sunspots or global warming or asteroids on a collision course with earth. We only started getting these things when we stopped stressing Liberal Arts in university and started giving students things like microscopes, telescopes and computers. Nobody back then thought about the consequences.

We have to understand scientists don’t mean to be so negative. They have either never known how to be happy or else its been trained out of them. We need to help our scientists and we can begin by taking away their equipment. We need to encourage them to take up needlepoint. When they’re not looking we’ll replace some of their test tubes with finger paints. When they start spouting mathematical formulas we need to give them Play Dough. We need to support their efforts to secure grants to study flower arranging with alien invasive species in the Ottawa-basin or how gasoline makes rainbows in water. Our scientists need our support. It may take time, but soon we’ll be able to watch the sunrise and burn wood in our stoves again without feeling guilty about how we’ve done all these scientists wrong.

Friday, February 4, 2011



Old Chelsea Gallery with Blue Tree / S. Shawcross / 20 x 26 / Oil on canvas / $120
Be sure to visit our painting blog:

This weeks feature video:
If only the powers that be in the Middle East knew what these guys know...

CURRENT COMMENTARY: This column was written in 2005. It's amazing the pace of change since then. The Giant Tiger at Wakefield was such a new and different thing and the empire building in Chelsea was pretty tame considering now how it has just moved to a different level. I know this because we just got the budgetary statement in the mail along with our municipal tax bill. What can you say... read it and weep?


What a great reward it was to see that the powers that be have relinquished their stranglehold on francophone names for the Gatineau Park in favor of historically significant names. And in that spirit I think perhaps we ought to consider changing the names of a few places. For example, there isn’t an eagle within eyeball’s distance of Gleneagle. The guy named Larry who used to live in Larrimac wasn’t even Scottish and there’s not a rosebud to be seen on Montrose. Never mind the pines of Pine road or the Sumac’s of Sumac road. Tamarack Road is the only road that actually has Tamarack’s on it I’d say.

Now sometimes it isn’t so much the name but how you pronounce it that needs to be clear. For example, the Giant Tiger in Wakefield is called by English people, the TEEEgrrrr GEEEantt with a little puffy lipped lisp. It just sounds better doesn’t it? Sure everything you buy there is made in China, or Indonesia, but even still there is a certain class to buying your underwear at the TEEEGrrrr GEEEantt. It makes it sound like Holt Renfrew. It makes prancing about in your long johns darnright classy somehow.

Sometimes though, changing names for places does not work particularly if you tend to want to name the place after what the locals call it. We can’t call Meech Creek Leech Creek and still encourage tourists. And take that lovely funeral and crematorium at the entrance to Wakefield e.g. It would do no good to put up a large sign calling the place the “Wake and Bake” because someone somewhere would be offended. Some people have no sense of humor whatsoever.

And what the heck’s going on with the rationale for naming Link Road. All sorts of people ripe with anticipation drive down it just to see what it links up to. But they’ve been had of course because Link road is a dead-end. And there’s no mine any more on Mine Road but I’ll bet everybody who lives there thinks the road is theirs. “It’s mine! No, it’s mine!” The people on Notch Road probably think they’re a notch above the rest of us..

Now I’m all for changing the name of Hollowglen. You see, the thing is, Hollowglen cannot possibly be hollow anymore. Hollowglen best as I can recollect has gotten a fire station, a community centre, a playground, agricultural protection, street lights and paved roads. Fortunately for those who live in Hollowglen, any change of name ought to be easy enough given that the Mayor himself lives there. So lets get on that shall we? We need to rename the place Fullerglen given its new status as the place full to the gunnels of municipally-funded projects.

Time we started naming things what they are. Yep.

P.S. A reader has asked if there is a ding dong living on chemin Bell and whose place is chemin Place anyway? I'll leave it to my readers to answer that one.