Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Erin go bragh! My Irish policeman grandfather taught me to say this Irish greeting when I was young. Grandpa was perhaps the most dependable, kind, and loving man I have ever known. Grandpa loved St. Patrick's Day, and had a kelly green corduroy shirt he wore only on this holiday. As was common in the old days, grandparents taught grandchildren all sorts of things through conversation. Whether it was family history or historical world events, my grandparents shared this information with my brother, Bill, and I. Grandpa told me the names of his grandparents who came from County Donegal, Ireland, as well as the names of other ancestors and relatives. Apparently, these Irish ancestors came to America prior to the Great Famine.

As I have mentioned before, Grandpa loved to fish. Normally, he and his brother John fished in the Allegheny River near New Kensington, PA. He also enjoyed going to my uncle's hunting and fishing camp on the northern shores of Lake Ontario. The only time I have fished in Canada was trolling in a boat with my grandfather. Maybe that is why I love to fish today - good memories of a really good man.

Grandpa also loved playing cards, especially cribbage, and he would attempt to entice any visitor to play a game with him. The only times I know of that Grandpa indulged in alcohol were at the Elk's Christmas party and the times when the whole family gathered to play cards. I never saw him drunk, only a little "happy".

My brothers and I were his only natural grandchildren (were the others unnatural??) and he often did little things that showed us that we were special to him.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Last year, fishermen of the Alle-Kiski Valley were asked to give fish from the Allegheny River to environmentalists of the Allegheny Township Environmental Advisory Council. This group wanted to study the possibility of toxic elements in the river, as so many industries have dumped waste products into the Allegheny. Their results show very high levels of selenium and mercury in the river, particularly in the Kittanning/Ford City portion of the river. Expectations were that the levels of these materials would be highest in the Pittsburgh area, but that has been found to not be the case. Tomorrow evening, March 16, the results of this study will be presented to the public at the Allegheny Township Environmental Advisory Council meeting. I plan to attend, even though I haven't fished the Allegheny in years. I would like to fish there one day, and would like to know if the catch would be safe for human consumption.

With the weather moderating each week, I am walking once again. The excess weight gathered to my bones over the very cold winter months needs to be shed prior to hot weather, and walking seems the quickest way to do that short of starvation.

As I type this, I am watching a series of tv programs on China. Fascinating. This very old culture, one which I have always believed pre-dated those labeled "ancient" by Western civilization, has levels of sophistication never matched in other old cultures. Not being an anthropologist, I venture to say the Chinese culture is perhaps the oldest in the world, not Africa as some folks are currently saying. Tell me if you have concrete evidence to the contrary.

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