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Another beautiful summer week with a few showers of rain thrown in. Here in the country, although there were heat warnings all week, it wasn’t too bad because there was usually a breeze. We are warned that this will become the norm rather than a single instance now and again. Unfortunately, not much is being done about it, and a number of proposals will only make things worse if followed through.

This week the beloved monarch butterflies were placed on the endangered species list. After a short recovery period, it seems that once more, the numbers are declining. This is not necessarily our fault herein the north. In Mexico, villagers and loggers are illegally cutting down the special evergreen trees the monarchs rest in over the winter; in the southern US, recent droughts have made the supply of flowers and other nectar sources in short supply. Just when we here are being encouraged to plant more native plants and nectar gardens.

People are even being discouraged from hand-raising caterpillars as in some places; there is a bacterial that gets into them and can then spread to wild populations. What to do? I know there are people who raise hundreds each year. Does it make a difference if they can’t make it back here the following year? On the day they were declared endangered, I saw at least five and two the next day, more than I usually see at this time of year. There is still hope!

Following along with that, on Wednesday, the Lucy Maud Montgomery Society Maud Squad had their luncheon, a lovely meal. Following this was a talk from a gentleman from Cannington who owns a shop on the main street of Cannington and sells native plants. He gave a very interesting slide show about the uses of native trees and flowers and how they can be substituted for many non-native items. An excellent presentation!

Bryan Smith spent a few days in Nebraska for the new Claas combine training. They flew into Denver and then drove the rest of the way. It sounded like a great learning experience following in his father’s footsteps, who used to do that for a different company.

July is a busy month for birthdays. We start with Bill Barton, who lives in town now but was raised across the road from me on the farm now belonging to Gary Smith. Everybody knows Eleanor Beer Todd as the Dandelion Lady because she made all kinds of good things from what most of us call weeds. Immigrants actually brought dandelions to North America years ago for both food and medicine, like many other plants we call weeds. Like the plantain, everyone has on their lawn just now. Eleanor is 89 and still dancing strong!

My sister Faye Ashton celebrated her 80th birthday on Friday and was truly surprised when our Epsom Girls showed up in the afternoon to wish her a well and fun afternoon. Donnalee Thompson also celebrated, but she and her husband are on a road trip in this area, and so far, I haven’t seen her. Donnalee was born on the Ashworth farm, went into nursing, moved to British Columbia and a few years ago, back to Alberta to be with her daughter and family.

Stephen Hackner is another of these kids who I find it hard to think of as being as old as they are. Stephen is the youngest of Bruce and Ona’s children and lives further afield than do his siblings. Happy 36th anniversary to Ellen (Walker) and Ron Smalley. They, too, have a very talented set of children of whom to be proud.

The Foster hosted the Django Djunkies Friday night, and it was a great night of music. They even got a standing ovation for their efforts and talents. Their sound is quite unique based on guitar but several other instruments, including violin and mandolin. Brian O’Sullivan told me the name originated with his wife. They were listening to The Cowboy Junkies one night (Canadian Band), and she came up with The Django Djunkies. Django Reinhardt is the famous gypsy/French guitarist who wrote much of the music we play. He was part of a famous group in the 20s-50s that included the brilliant violinist Stephan Grappelli. We intend the name to have to do with our passion (addiction ?) to this music. Next week features Scott Benson and Susan on flute and guitar. The event starts at 7:30 p.m., and admission by donation is at the door.

The Bethesda WI held a luncheon Saturday at noon at the home of Sue Gloth. As always, the ladies outdid themselves, but the intention of the lunch was to raise funds for the Ukrainian refugees who are being settled in Durham Region. A special guest was Walter Kish, who works with the Ukrainian Canadian Congress looking after settling these people in the area. Walter’s heritage is Ukrainian, and he spent four years working in the country a few years ago. So far, two groups of 300 refugees have landed in Durham, with many more expected, and housing, food, necessary documentation, schooling etc., all have to be looked after. It was a very informative and eye-opening talk.

On Sunday, church was held at Sandford with Rev. Wayne Reed as our minister. His wife Marie accompanied him. Lots of singing, beautifully accompanied but just Ruth this week. It was interesting to find out that their family and the Richardson have a long history of living in Vandorf! Next week Wayne will be leading a Communion service. Please plan to attend with us. A friend Donna will be playing for us next week while Ruth takes a holiday break.

Sunday afternoon was another party, this time for the birthday of my brother-in-law Keith Ashton (85) and my sister Faye with a goodly number of both Asling and Ashton family members attending. It’s one big extended family for sure! It was good to see several that we had not seen since before the pandemic. Fortunately, we had the shed to shelter in during that heavy rain, but I wonder what happened to the folks enjoying the Scottish festival?

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