No. 1

blog photo 41 bug leader

 WHAT IT IS

On a whim, Sapphire and Cricket headed to Washington D.C. aboard an Amtrak train to hear a speech by Fred Singer, a prominent U.S. climate change denier. During a stopover in Beaver Falls, two scruffy men in bad suites boarded the train and sat across from Sapphire and Cricket, both clutching maniacally to manila file folders. Within thirty minutes of departure, the smooth swaying of the train and the rhythmic clacking of the wheels caused the men to fall asleep, the contents of their folders dropping to the floor.

Sapphire couldn’t help but look. The documents, labeled “INSECT-CLASSIFIED”, described the pictured insect as: “No. 1 Leader/Positively Identified by Field Agents Graham & Smith in London, Halifax, San Francisco, Beaver Falls, Wanapitie, Nevis Island and St. Louis.” The document further authorized a “squish without prejudice” order by the commissioner of INSECT, Melina Schulz.

Sapphire and Cricket  inspected the documents for a few moments. They had never heard of INSECT and were genuinely surprised to see their little village of Wanapitie listed with all the other places. As all this was sinking in, the two men began to move, and Sapphire hastily placed the folders back on their neighbours’ seats.

 

WHAT IT IS NOT

It was a warm afternoon, and Frank James was in one of his favourite places on earth: the Mark Twain National Forest. Walking along the edge of the Eleven Point National River, James came across this curious looking fellow among the shrubs at the river’s edge. As James approached, a wickedly huge widow maker broke off from a pine tree adjacent to him and crashed to the ground missing him by no less than a foot. As James collected himself from the near-death experience,  this curious little insect flew very close to him and in James’s words, “winked” at him.

 

THE OLYMPIANS

blog photo 40 the olympians.jpgWHAT IT IS

Nicknamed the ‘one eared wonder’ the canine in the foreground took home gold in the high jump, gold in the one hundred meters and gold in the four- hundred- meter dog paddle in the Canine Olympics held in Salt Lake City, Utah. The two, natives of the Caribbean island Nevis, were spotted vacationing in Mont Tremblant, the world class ski resort north of Montreal, Quebec.

This photo was taken just before throngs of fans surrounded the pair looking for pawtographs.

WHAT IT IS NOT

The Ellwood City Fire Department has recently taken possession of two highly trained sniffing dogs to aid their investigative branch in determining the origins of fires in their jurisdiction.

The two canines specialize in old fires where the cause of the blaze has yet to be determined. An unexplained year- old fire in the heart of Ellwood City was determined to be arson when these canines found punctured cans of pesticides in the basement of the buildings.

THE GOSLING

 

blog photo 39 the gosling.jpgWHAT IT IS

There is a part of Shoal Lake, Ontario that lies inside the Manitoba border and this is where Mildred Duck spends long summer days feeding on aquatic vegetation and if she is very lucky some fine northern wild rice.

It was on one such day trip that Mildred caught a glimpse of a weeks old gosling feeding among the reeds. Mildred’s little duck heart started racing; she knew she had found the lead actor for her upcoming production of the ‘Littlest Gosling’.

WHAT IT IS NOT

Yet another of Margaret Brookside’s community activities is to organize the annual rubber ducky race along the Beaver River, with funds raised going to the Heritage Valley Beaver Hospital in Beaver, Pennsylvania.

The small rubber ducks are launched at Beaver Falls, with their final destination near Rochester, Pennsylvania. This year Sapphire took this photo of a wee Canada goose who got in amongst the rubber ducks and was easily the first across the finish line in Rochester.

ELLIE’S STORY CONTINUES

Slim had them put up this sign after his experience.

Ellie's Story Continues...4.jpg

Slim Clemons was a big man, weighing in at 365 pounds.  To accommodate his girth, he had a big office, over 5,000 square feet.  And, Slim had big ambitions to match his ample size.  He was a high-stakes producer, organizing and promoting horse races, sporting events, beauty pageants and music extravaganzas.  In addition, Slim had a large investment portfolio consisting of the kind of stocks that produced fast money: start-ups, mining, and energy sources.

Slim loved his fast-paced, high-pressured career, but once a year, he would fire up his luxury 40-foot recreational vehicle and take his family on an ostentatious camping vacation.   Despite the luxury accommodation that defined camping in a whole new way, Slim liked a little unexpected adventure built into his vacation.  As such, he would sit in his office on the 30th floor of Salesforce Tower in Indianapolis studying a large map of North America while massaging a dart between his thump and index finger.  After counting to ten, Slim would launch the dart, and it would sail toward the map, puncturing the map at the destination towards which Slim would drive the R.V.  This year the dart landed on Missaussagga Provincial Park in Northern Ontario, Canada.

This was Slim’s first trip to Northern Ontario, and although the mosquitoes and black flies were considerably bigger than he had expected, and their large numbers were keeping his wife inside the recreational vehicle, Slim was content.  On the fourth nightin the wilderness, Slim was reading an old Kurt Vonnegut Jr. novel when something outside the R.V. caught his eye.  Always a man of action, Slim grabbed his Glock G19 handgun from the bedside table and headed outside.

The park was dark, as dark as the Alberta oil in which Slim had recently invested.  Slim gripped the Glock, his arm outstretched, swaying from side to side.  As his eyes became accustomed to the dim light, he began to make out small animals scurrying around the forest floor and swinging from tree branches.  Suddenly a loud, piercing female voice shattered the silence “Shot one of those teddy bears and that’s it for you Buster.”

Slim heard a high-pitched but muffled scream behind him.  He spun around and there was Ellie hanging from a branch just inches away from his face.  He backed up, tripped over a rock and crashed to the ground.   He looked up at Ellie highlighted by the moon that had serendipitously come out from behind a cloud as if it understood this moment needed to be emphasized. Slim’s heart swelled in his chest: the teddy bear was beautiful.  Right at that moment the 2017 Miss Teddy Bear North America Beauty Pageant was hatched in Slim’s mind.

The Trestle

 

blog photo 36 stone bridge

WHAT IT IS

Every time Will and Beatrice Offley drive their aging pickup truck over this stone trestle, they stop for a few moments and consider that day in early June. A -five-year-old girl stood on the trestle, alone and crying. The Offleys stopped, talked to the girl and reassured her they would find her parents.

That never happened. The Beaver County couple finally got approval to adopt the child after months of inquiries trying to find her parents. The only indication of who this girl might be, was the name Samantha Gallant sewn into the sweater she was wearing when found on the trestle.

WHAT IT IS NOT

There is a stone trestle in Beaver County, near Ellwood City, Pennsylvania, that is considered by local residents to be a most mysterious place. A lost child, a tool box full of cash, huge swarms of bees and enormous flocks of birds have all been seen on or near the trestle.

It has caused such a stir, that Weyburn Saskatchewan biologist Cinder Willoughby has been brought in by local authorities to investigate the phenomenon of the trestle. To date, Willoughby has observed tens of thousands of birds and insects disappearing under the trestle.  However, there has been no evidence uncovered regarding where they go.

CHRISTMAS CACTUS

 

blog photo 38 cactus flower.JPGWHAT IT IS

Sapphire and Cricket make the trip to Digby Neck in Nova Scotia, Canada almost every year to toss Christmas cactus flowers into the ocean near where their parents’ small airplane went down.

In 1988 their parents were flying home to Sudbury, Ontario from Quebec City when they were asked to divert their flight to Halifax, Nova Scotia to meet with the Minister of Lands and Forests. While on route, the single engine Cessna was engulfed in dense fog off the coast of Brier Island. Despite weeks of searching by the Canadian Coastguard, the wreckage and their bodies were never found.

Sapphire and Cricket, fondly remembering their parents’ love of Christmas cactuses, always bring some prized flowers and scatter then into the sea.

 

WHAT IT IS NOT

One of Margaret Brookside’s extracurricular duties as Administrative Assistant to the Mayor of Beaver Falls is to organize the annual Christmas cactus photo contest.

Photos from around North America are sent to Margaret to be entered into the competition. This year, noted biologist Cinder Willoughby, who was working up the highway in Ellwood City, volunteered to judge the photographs. Pictured here is Sapphire’s entry, an entry Willoughby didn’t consider a winning photography.

 

THE TOWER

 

blog photo 37 tower ladder.JPGWHAT IT IS

Unlike the depraved bastards in Arkansas who throw live turkeys from an airplane to their deaths, Mutt Jefferson does quite the opposite. Once every three months Mutt climbs this tower with a peregrine falcon or two and gently encourages them to do what they do best.

This year Mutt released seven falcons; one seagull he rehabilitated from ingesting copious amounts of pesticides was also released.

WHAT IT IS NOT

Miles Hobbson, former deputy premier of Nevis, uses the platform atop this tower to record observations of UFO’s coming to earth from the regions around the star Mizar.

Equipped with a powerful telescope, Hobbson claims to have triangulated touchdowns in Beaver County, Pennsylvania, Halifax Stanfield International Airport, San Francisco, London, England and of course his beloved Nevis. To date, Hobbson has not offered an explanation of why these visitors are landing on earth.