All posts by Eugene Knapik

Best time for mushroom hunting?

Somebody landed on this blog after searching “best time for mushroom hunting in Southern Ontario”. Lots of people think the best time is now. I know this because there are a few cars at just about every forest I know and all the obvious places are now mushroom-free zones.

For me the best time is anytime but when the forests are crawling with foragers. This is the time of year I stop. It’s been a pretty good season for foraging for certain species. I haven’t been out nearly as many times as I have on some other years, but I’ve done pretty well when I have ventured into the woods. So I’ll leave the honey mushrooms and any other goodies to the crowds. Have fun. I’ll be back out come morel season in the spring.

The biggest issue in Long Branch

Yesterday a fellow came by canvassing for a candidate who hopes to knock incumbent Councillor Mark Grimes off his perch. I asked him, what’s the biggest issue in Long Branch. He started telling me some of his candidate’s ideas, but couldn’t guess what issue I thought was most important.

I pointed to a home just across the way, the one with the tree protection fencing and the sign saying the owner of the property wanted to take down several trees.  The severance for this property was successful, even though our community banded together to oppose it at the Ontario Municipal Board. The old house – in very bad shape – will be torn down and replaced with two long and tall structures squeezed onto this lot.

Across the street, three houses have sold recently, and neighbours have heard there are plans to develop two of them next year. Then there is the house next door. When it sold, the real estate agent proudly told us this time it was a family that bought the property, not a developer. He was wrong. The owner knocked on our door one evening to discuss our trees – three of them in particular – growing near the property line. He thought they should be taken down to support his development – but, he said, he would replace them with new trees later.  They’re spruces, desirable species – two Norway spruce and one white spruce. One in particular is a magnificent mature specimen.   However, we like our trees. They were one of the reasons we moved here. We like the birds they attract and the shade and privacy they give, and we think they ought to be protected.

This same property has a massive silver maple on City property out front. The fellow who used to own the place used to tell us it was the “second biggest tree in Etobicoke.” I don’t know if that’s true but it sure is a big tree. IMG_2080He told me when he moved in, he could lock his arms around this tree. The developer who bought the place hired arborists to do testing to determine the health of this City tree. This fellow told us he is considering severing the property and building two homes, but might consider building a single home.

There are lots of people in our community who have lived here 40, 50, 60 years. This is an aging population and we’re seeing quite a lot of home sales in the past couple years. Happily for these folks, they’re doing quite well selling their homes as prices have gone up sharply.  However, it has also become a magnet for developers who see the wide, well treed lots as an opportunity to cash out.

It is not surprising our community will change. We need to plan this renewal and the community should have a say. Instead, the change is being defined one property at a time as developers buy up addresses and apply to the Committee of Adjustment, and if necessary to the Ontario Municipal Board to sever properties into two long narrow ones. This process is defining the architecture as well, and most of the resulting homes have two stories over a garage. They’re tall and narrow and in some cases they go back 60 or 70 feet.

Residents who don’t want to see the community over-developed this way are forced to fight one application at a time. Our community is getting better at this, but it is a tough fight. When our neighbourhood appealed to the OMB last year, the developer had a team of lawyers, planners, arborists and designers, all well versed in OMB procedures. I was criticized by the adjudicator because I was not as well versed in their procedure as the opposing team.  I can tell you that I did not feel that the concerns of the existing community were highly weighted at all.

Some increased density along the main artery in our community is, in my view, not a bad thing – and will help revitalize a long retail strip which would benefit from a bigger customer base. However, we should have some regulation in place to preserve the character of our residential neighbourhoods south and north of The Lakeshore. I think that is the direction and spirit of the Official Plan for the City.

I think our current system is broken and the Ontario Municipal Board is broken. It is enabling broad change in our community on an ad hoc basis driven by the mighty dollar. We can do better than that.  I’m looking candidates for Council in Ward 6 and for Mayor who are willing take action and actively advocate for our community.

So far I haven’t seen much of our candidates. A fellow came around yesterday representing Everett Sheppard, and he was happy to talk to me. I was sitting here at this computer one day a week or so ago. A fellow representing Mark Grimes came up to my door and left campaign literature but didn’t knock. He also thought it was a good idea to pin up campaign literature in our book box (not cool, buddy).  Russ Ford has had someone drop off a card.  So far, that’s it.  Is anybody out there campaigning?

I invite candidates for Council and Mayor to comment on this post. Who is willing to advocate for this community?

It’s Mighty Dark to Travel

Time to change the cat litter and I’m procrastinating (wouldn’t you?) by listening to some old time selections on the YouTube machine. Here are the South Carolina Broadcasters – I can tell you they are a seriously infectious group to hear live – performing It’s Mighty Dark to Travel in an informal setting….

Shortenin’ Bread

Shortenin’ Bread is a tune from the turn of the century – the 19th to the 20th that is. I grew up thinking of it as a children’s song but I’m rethinking that.

Check out this excellent performance by Chicken Train, filmed by a banjo picker named Dean Barber at Clifftop 2012.

That is some top-rate Old Time music in my books!

Here are some buskers called the Water Tower Bucket Boys playing it in Seattle back in 2009…check out the dancers!

Finally, just for the fun of it, here are the Collins Kids on Tex Ritter’s Ranch Party…


Morning with the dogs

IMG_2311The dogs like the family to all be together all the time and when one of us isn’t around, they’re always a little bit out of sorts. I was away for just a couple days in Ottawa but when I got back yesterday early evening, I got the royal welcome, as if I had been away for weeks.

This morning I thought I’d take them to one of their favourite places, the huge leash-free area of Jack Darling Park. What a lovely morning! There were lots of dogs out for our crew to run around and play with and they had a great time. Last time we were there, Georgie lost the ball we brought along, and this time he found an identical one, which he carried around for 20 minutes before dropping it and forgetting all about it in favour of chasing a new friend. IMG_2314

The beauty of Jack Darling is that on one trip there Memphis and George can enjoy a lot of variety, plenty of interaction with other dogs as well as some time away from the crowd. It even has a water spigot with a few bowls available to provide cool fresh water for all the dogs.

I noticed Memphis was favouring her back right leg a little by the end of the run – not badly enough to stop her from running around but enough to notice.  It doesn’t seem to be anything serious – now an hour later she seems fine – but we’ll keep an eye on this.

It looks like the beautiful weather is going to continue for the weekend. Beautiful.


Yeah Baby! Angie Dickinson’s Police woman is here

The Real Deal, Angie Dickinson, TV Series Police Woman
What fun!! Mullets, moustaches and of course, Sgt. “Pepper” Anderson fighting LA crime.

Frank Caught a Woodchuck

I really like Dave Landreth’s banjo playing. He posted this original on the YouTube the other day and this tune simply makes me smile so I thought I’d share it here. It’s got a lot of stuff going on in it.  If you like it, check out his other videos.  He also has a CD available online that I also like a whole bunch (just ask Mr. Google, that’s how I found it).