15 Years on the Erie Canal

Low Bridge sheet music

Sometimes I get the oddest song randomly get stuck in my head. Often the only way for me to remove such an earworm is to play the song, maybe even a couple of times, and then my brain releases it. However, if I have a very specific song stuck in my head I usually want to hear that exact rendition of it to get it out. Sometimes that isn’t always possible and in such cases I’m left feeling sad and disappointed, and the earworm is still in my brain torturing me.

Today is just such a situation. I can’t locate the song, easily, anywhere.  The unfortunate fact is this song is already old and not commonly found. Worse yet, the version in my head is from a children’s album I had as a wee one. Fortunately, I still have the album. Unfortunately, we do not currently have a turntable hooked up. I used to play that album continuously as a child and it included some peculiar songs, such as this one.

When I first looked up the song I was terribly disappointed at what I found on YouTube. Then I found this version, and while not really the version I wanted, still a decent version and thus I share it with you.

This song was originally written in 1905 by Thomas S. Allen. It’s written about an era when barges were pulled by mules. As a child I don’t think I fully understood that. I mean to me, back then, a barge was a large vessel and one mule pulling it wouldn’t have made sense. Remember, I was only about 5 years old at the time.

So as these barges were being pulled down the Erie canal they would come across these low bridges. Again, I didn’t understand why the bridges were so low, only that people needed to get down for fear of getting brained by a bridge. I guess sometimes there would be passengers on the barges and they would stand up top, but if they came to a low bridge everyone would have to duck or lie down to safely travel under them, as would the person on the mule. My thought… get off the damn mule! I mean, it’s already got a heavy enough load with a barge full of product and people, it certainly didn’t need the added burden of one more person, use your own legs for gosh sakes!

Anyway, here’s the song, or at least a good rendition of it…

Help from the Cat


When using the downstairs restroom, Finnegan kitty often runs in as I’m closing the door. Apparently, he feels I am incapable of doing this sort of thing alone.

He’s a bit OCD and has a routine he repeats every time he joins me. He runs in just as I’m sliding the door closed, leaps up to the top of the tank, makes a big stretch with his front paws up along the corner of the wall next to the toilet with his back paws still on the tank, then he comes back with all four paws on the tank while rubbing his head on the corner of the tank and looking up at me. It’s silly and cute and he’s done this for over 4 years now. Afterwards, he usually rolls around on the floor by my feet terrorizing whatever bit of fluff is trapped in the corner under the cabinets.

It’s completely routine and I’m so used to it that it seems odd if he doesn’t do it.

But today something changed… he jumped up on the tank as usual, did his big stretch, but I think he must’ve miscalculated his footing, I’m not entirely sure as I was busy at the time. It seemed he slipped and ell a bit. He was struggling to get his front half back onto the tank. The space between the toilet and wall is narrow and he was having some difficulty gaining his footing. I didn’t really notice until the toilet flushed.

I have to admit, the manual flush toilet flushing is mildly disconcerting when you’re not expecting it.

After I rescued him from certain headache he thanked me by “killing” a dangerous bug (read: spot of dirt) on the baseboard to prove what a great hunter he is. I feel much safer now.

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Nole and Yvonne Conway 1971

Today would’ve been my mother’s 77th birthday.

My mother, Nole, was an amazing and strong individual with a lot of heart, and drive. She was an awesome cook, an incredibly talented artist and crafter, had a goofy sense of humour, and was very generous to those she cared about. She survived the annihilation of her village in the Philippines by the Japanese in WWII, as well as a sexist, patriarchal, and sometimes abusive life in PI.

She came to America to wed my father in 1961 in Alabama, when it was still illegal to have an interracial marriage, but they were married by a judge and then later in a Catholic church. My mother became a US citizen and then eventually helped bring her parents and siblings to the states in the 1970s. She went to college to become a cosmetologist and worked the last 13 years of her life at a salon in JC Penny’s. The money she made was often sent back home to help her deceased brother’s children go to school.

She was diagnosed with cancer the first time in 1972, shortly after her brother passed away. She was diagnosed with cancer again in 1974 and survived both instances. In 1987 she was diagnosed with breast cancer for the second time. She fought hard and survived for 4 years, but she passed away on June 13, 1991.

My mom was an incredible person. I love her and miss her so very much every single day.

Pay Attention to Me!


Some times people are simply desperate for attention. They’ll make comments that neither engage nor enrich a conversation, but simply to make their presence known by posting something.

Today I accidentally stumbled upon such a situation with a total stranger. To be fair, I was looking at an image of guerrilla art that was a protest. Any time you are on a page for such a topic you should expect someone, somewhere, to be verbose about their position, either for or against the protest topic. What I found was a person who apparently did not understand the point of the topic, which was a very profound in-your-face image that seemed fairly clear to me what their message was. Not so much for this other person. They were looking at it from a different perspective. I can appreciate this concept. However, their execution of expressing their position was… just plain obnoxious.

I made the mistake of engaging them in conversation, but some people aren’t looking for actual dialogue, but rather a pulpit from which to preach, be heard, and not have to answer any questions.

So, for those who might not be aware: Flooding the comments section of a photo (or status) on FB with the same message over and over again, then “like”ing your own comments, tells the world not that you have something important to say, but rather that you’re desperate to be noticed. The sad part is that what you have to say might be important and something people should pay attention to, but given human nature, we are less likely to hear it because it is poorly presented. Also, if it seems you are desperate in your need for attention people may take that as a sign that you haven’t got anything worthy to say.

Irish Sunglasses & Domestic Abuse

Domestic violence isn't funny.

A friend posted a photo of a girl with a nasty looking black eye. The caption reads, “IRISH SUNGLASSES Free pair when you forget dinner!”

My friend’s comment is “Haha :)”.

Now, I know in my heart my friend is not one in actual favor of domestic violence. This image is clearly intended as a joke. In fact, we have no real idea from what this photo was originally from. Could’ve been from a car accident, or any other kind of accident, and not remotely related to the caption.

However, that aside and taking the image as it is presented, it’s a very mixed message. What this photo is also saying is that the stereotype of a “fighting Irishman” and domestic violence are something we can laugh at. It mocks a painful reality for millions of people.

Having been one of those on the receiving end of some extreme domestic violence and currently helping a dear friend who is dealing with domestic abuse and violence, this “joke” image truly upset me.

Will we as a society ever get to the point where this is no longer funny because of the reality on which it’s based? Will we, on whole, ever condemn domestic abuse and violence rather than just sections of our society? Will we ever get to a point when we can’t believe this behaviour was ever common/acceptable/practice?

Some facts about Domestic Violence from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV)

  1. One in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime. [1]
  2. An estimated 1.3 million women are victims of physical assault by an intimate partner each year. [2]
  3. 85% of domestic violence victims are women. [3]
  4. Historically, females have been most often victimized by someone they knew. [4]
  5. Females who are 20-24 years of age are at the greatest risk of nonfatal intimate partner violence. [5]
  6. Most cases of domestic violence are never reported to the police. [6]

For more information or to get help, please call:

The National Domestic Violence Hotline  1-800-799-7233

The National Sexual Assault Hotline 1-800-656-4673

The National Teen Dating Abuse Hotline 1-866-331-9474

1 Tjaden, Patricia & Thoennes, Nancy. National Institute of Justice and the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, “Extent, Nature and Consequences of Intimate Partner Violence: Findings from the National Violence Against Women Survey,” (2000).
2 Costs of Intimate Partner Violence Against Women in the United States. 2003. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Centers for Injury Prevention and Control. Atlanta, GA.
3 Bureau of Justice Statistics Crime Data Brief, Intimate Partner Violence, 1993-2001, February 2003.
4 U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, “Criminal Victimization, 2005,” September 2006.
5 U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, “Intimate Partner Violence in the United States,” December 2006.
6 Frieze, I.H., Browne, A. (1989) Violence in Marriage. In L.E. Ohlin & M. H. Tonry (eds.) Family Violence. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.