Parrywinkle, May 19, 2016

Well, what a royal kerfuffle it has been this past week! First of all in the media over in Jolly Olde England in the country's capital, London, with possible diplomatic repercussions in Beijing, China. And no, we're not talking about statements made by that pretentious, perfidious, problematical pretender to the Republican throne in the U.S., Donald Trump.

And then, the regal icing on the cake as it were, more recently right here in our little hamlet by the lake. When I was chastized and taken to task - and rightly so I may add - by three alert Your Local Journal readers and hoisted on my own petard over a cutline I wrote last week below a pic of two happy Hudsonites, George & Janet Ellerbeck, celebrating his milestone 80th birthday, outside Buckingham Palace reading YLJ for our Around the World feature. But first things first.


BLAME IT ON THE BROLLY - In case you missed it on the news, apparently Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II - who was born on the same day as George albeit 10 years earlier - has come in for some flak after she was overheard by a BBC TV crew at 'Buck House' during a garden party there telling Scotland Yard's Commander, Lucy D'Orsi, that the Chinese were “very rude” to the British Ambassador to China. This following a 'preparatory meeting' at which D'Orsi was present for a possible visit by Chinese officials that never came to be - for whatever reason - after the Chinese delegation walked out in a huff stating that the trip was off.

Ironically, had it not been raining at the time, the Queen's comments would never have been overheard and duly reported. For while she was far from the microphones, Her Majesty was sporting a plastic umbrella that - according to news reports - acted as a kind of cone in a loudspeaker thus amplifying her voice to the attendant crew. Kaboom!


I'M ALL WRONG JACK - And here in Hudson, I wrote that the Queen was in residence when the Ellerbeck's photo was taken because the Union Jack flag was flying above the palace. Not so e-mailed Neil Blaikie who correctly pointed out, “This is not the case. The Royal Standard flies over Buckingham Palace when she is in residence, when she is not in residence the Union Jack, as shown in the picture, flies. This is the same of all Royal residences. Her Majesty is currently residing at Windsor Castle.”

And this from William E. Crowle. “A very small correction. The Union Jack flown on a royal residence means that the Queen is not in residence. When she is in residence or visiting the building, the Royal Standard is flown. Thanks for your usual great newspaper.”

And one more from Susan Mercer, “…the Queen is only in residence when the Royal Standard is flying – a very different flag from the Union flag.”

Well, as a former Brit who emigrated to Canada way back in 1967, what can I possible say guys but Mea culpa. Sheesh, just thankful I'm able to pen this apology and still write my column without being carted off to the Tower of London and the Green there for a merciful beheading with the six obligatory ravens looking on!


FARMER'S MARKET RETURNS - Talking of green in a manner of speaking, the Hudson Farmer's Market - raising funds for Hudson Legion Branch #115 - is back today, Thursday, May 19, for another season of showcasing local produce every week from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the parking lot at the corner of Main and Selkirk. See you there?


WHAT A BLAST - Meanwhile, fish rather than fresh fiddleheads was the raison d'être for the recent annual Cast and Blast weekend fundraiser for the Canadian Youth National Fly Fishing Team up at the Kenauk Nature wilderness resort north of Montebello.

And while I have it on good authority that the actual fishing wasn't all that great due to the cold weather and even the threat of snow, a jolly good time was had by one and all helping to support youth development including participating in the Canadian National Championships that this year are being held in Merritt, B.C. in October.

Shown in the photo below (centre) are Hudsonite Peter Stephenson - who loves the sport, is a seasoned veteran, and gives the youth encouragement to do their best in all their pursuits - with some of the juniors including (to his right) fellow Hudsonite and team member, Alex Baumeister. To his left is Colin Huff, a former youth team captain, who has now graduated to the big leagues and will be representing Canada at the World Championships being held in Vail, Colorado, this September.

Says Hudsonite Tim Bezanson, who has been involved in organizing the Cast and Blast weekend at the Kenauk for 20 years, “It's incredibly satisfying to see the youth develop and to be able to help them out in all their activities.”

And what can one possibly add to that? Except to admit I just can't wait to go fishing for trout again this summer. Albeit not with a fly and certainly not in Pine Lake where the ducks and wild sedges and grasses are thriving. But let's not go there right now. For that's another fishy tale entirely!


A HEAVENLY KISS - And now to the skies above us. Quite by happenstance, bumped in to Pierre Tournay outside the Hudson War Memorial Library this past Saturday (May 14) to learn that it was in fact National Astronomy Day around our planet. Who would have ever thunk it?

“So what's up?” I asked Pierre, a long-time amateur star and planet-gazer here in Hudson and environs and a founding member of the self-dubbed Hudson Lunatics whose members watch the heavens through their telescopes.

“Actually,” he told me, “it's a real exciting time because the planets, Mars and Saturn, are moving closer and farther apart as they proceed with their respective oppositions and retrograde motions in proximity to the Moon through the next few months. In fact, it is a pretty grouping visible above Hudson just before midnight. Assuming, of course, that you have a clear Eastern horizon because Saturn and Mars rise rather late in the evening these days.” My head was already spinning!

Added Pierre, “All three are in an arc that mimics the head of the Scorpio Constellation with its bright orange star, Antares. It is a beautiful kite arrangement and, although not visible to the eye, you have little Pluto to the left of Sagittarius in a small star group called The Spoon since it is found next to the Tea Pot, the nickname of Sagittarius.”

As an 'in-depth investigative reporter' and still intrigued, however, I asked Pierre to elaborate. “Look at them at weekly intervals,” he answered. “And over the next two to four months, they will both move about each other considerably as they show us their retrograde motion. You will be witnessing one of the hardest astronomy problems the ancient Greeks had to deal with. How do planets go back and forth knowing - at that time - the Earth was the center of it all? It took Copernicus to nail it and solve it by putting the Sun in the center.”

Crikey mick, I thought to myself. How can I put this in terms that I can really relate to or even fully understand? And then Pierre answered as if reading my thoughts. “Each week at the same time, look from your garden to Saturn and Mars. Over many weeks, they will move closer and then farther away. Call this a bouquet of flowers arrangement and why not offer a celestial kiss to your beautiful Sunshine? Now that's romantic!”

That's a true story dear readers. And thanks for the tip Pierre! Will follow through. For as Hamlet is reported to have said to Horatio, “There are more things in heaven and earth, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

And that's a wrap!


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