Friday, July 23, 2010


As I was riding along in the car the other day, I watched a woman actively tending her flower garden at the side of her driveway. Daisies and echinacea and other bright headed flowers bloomed riotously. The woman herself was like a huge flower, bobbing among the others. It was her hat that did it. Her hat was extraordinary; a huge, pale yellow straw hat of obvious quality, its broad brim crinkled into rosepetal-like convolutions. It would not have been as out of place at Ascot as it should have been in that garden. I could hardly see the woman beneath it. I smiled as I relished the unexpected harmony between the gorgeous flowers and this so patently manufactured object.

Was the hat supposed to look like that? Did she fashion those crazy ripples and waves?Or were they the happy accident of carelessness born from her concentration for the task at hand? Maybe the hat had blown off in the wind and become distorted Perhaps she’d raised a hand to wipe sweat from her brow, and caused those creases.

It was hard to grasp what it was about the sight that gave me joy, rather than making me just laugh at the ridiculousness of it, but I think it was that something about the vigour of the moving hat and the guileless way she wore it which conveyed her deep engrossment in her task. I rejoiced to see such a clear expression of a flow experience, that state where we forget ourselves entirely. In that moment, I could see and share her experience of becoming one with her garden.
This beautiful photo by Pavlo Boyko is from Wikimedia Creative Commons. Here is a link to his Flickr photo stream of things Ukrainian .

Friday, July 2, 2010

Black and White and Read all over

Picture this!

A man is out for his morning run. He is sensibly attired in a white t-shirt and black running shorts. He passes a field full of Holsteins, who gaze at him with interest. Suddenly, one of the little heifers takes into her head, for whatever reason, to follow him. Whether she mistook him in his black and whiteness for the lead cow or whether she just liked the cut of his jib I don't know, but pretty soon he had a following of pace heifers, jauntily following him down the fence line, heads up and tails swinging. It was exceptionally sweet.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

People are Alright, Sometimes

I watched five lanes of traffic on Highway 38 at the 401 stop dead to let a confuddled puddle duck and her brood of seven fuzzy ducklings negotiate the crossing of the road. First she would head one way, make it almost all the way across and change her mind. Then she would repeat the process in the other direction. It was heartbreaking to see how upset she was, and how her children followed her every move. It took five traverses before the family made it safely into the woods beyond the Park'n'Ride. The great thing was that no-one seemed to begrudge the time it took to let this happen. I only hope they found their way to the big swamp to the west.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Scene 2 in the Garden: In Which I am Cast as Mr. McGregor!

Rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrabbits! Rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrotten Leetle Rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrabbits!

They're eating everything...Lettuces, beets, chard, and they have a definite fondness for eggplant, especially the oriental long ones. I have asked God to send me a fox. In the meantime, I have discovered that I'm a dab hand at trowel throwing. I actually hit one, but its a light carbon fibre trowel so it only skeered him a bit. Which is actually all I want to do.

Other mammals in the garden tonight were a baby weasel (long may his rabbit hunting soul prosper) and a full grown vole (who can stay only as long as he doesn't eat the produce, or until the weasel gets him, whichever comes first). Who knew gardening was such a blood sport. And speaking of blood, we've spread blood meal around everything a rabbit might find remotely tasty.

Oddly enough, the carrots are untouched. These are undoubtedly hipster rabbits. Nothing predictable for them. And they're locavores to boot. And I'd like to.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Tiger Stripes

Wow! and I thought Camo Glamo' was as weird as evening wear got. Take a look at this 1949 American concept of chic. This really doesn't work, does it? And the worst part? There's not a hint of irony.

A friend sent me a link to the Brooklyn Museum's current exhibit, American High Style: Fashioning a National Collection. Pretty amazing stuff. Some of it is even amazing in a good way!

Saturday, May 8, 2010


This is my cousin's new baby. There is no more amazing or strange thing in the world (to me, anyway) than the development and birth of a new human.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

I See a Bear in Your Future...

So, I get home from Rock Dunder, and decide to make a pot of coffee. I dump the grounds from the previous pot into a strainer, and lo, and behold, a portrait of a bear in high relief emerges! If this were Professor Trelawney's class at Hogwarts, I'd be terrified!

Rock Dunder!

Wow! I've gotten used to thinking of myself as a flatlander. Rock Dunder, just south of Morton off Hwy 15 is a reminder that we actually have topography. Its a great hike, (if a little challenging to the knees) up to the bluffs which line the Rideau Waterway. So nice to be on granite and quartzite after all that limestone. And so wonderful to feel the forest floor under your feet. When you get to the summit it's bare, smooth, glaciated rock with fantastic views along the river and beyond. Apparently the formation, part of the Frontenac Arch biosphere, is a pluton. A pluton is an old volcanic plug, from which the exterior has eroded away leaving the hard igneous core. Gros Cap, near the Sault, is a similar formation but its called a batholith. I'm sure all those vulcanologists out there could tell me the difference. I'll google it later. Whatever it is, it is beautiful. The smooth rounded curves of rock, the fresh breeze, being up there with the turkey vultures wind surfing. Great!

In the forest there was a profusion of wild flowers in blossom. Hepatica, saxifrage, violets; yellow, blue and white, Canada mayflower, blueberries, uvularia, dutchman's breeches, and of course, the trilliums; white and red. Needless to say, many pictures were taken.

It was hard work going down the steep descents over roots and rocks, but a great workout!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

I am Amazed

We were given Task #7 for our Web 2.0 training. The task was to listen to a podcast and answer some questions. I've started back to my Spanish lessons again, so I thought I'd go back to a series of podcasts I listened to in 2008, called Coffee Break Spanish, to see if I had progressed any.

It was nice to hear the cheesy theme music again, and to be suitably impressed by the ability of the host, Mark, to switch from a fairly pronounced Scottish accent to what is, to my ear, a pretty good castellano accent. Unfortunately, his sidekick, Kara, who has a hopeless ear for language and makes other learners feel comfy thereby, wasn't present on the episode I chose so I didn't get to remake our acquaintance. I chose Lesson 50, because I knew I had progressed a little since the old days. To my astonishment, I'd improved to the extent that the progress of the podcast lesson was painfully slow, so I went in search of a more appropriate level of instruction.

I Googled "intermediate Spanish podcast", and came up with a site called They had SSL4YOU, EspanolSegunda Lengua para Todos (Spanish as a Second Language for Everyone). I listened to a podcast called Crazy Weather, and whereas once I would have been completely lost, now I could get one phrase in five. However, I realized that I was out of my depth when I realized that the screen I was staring at while I listened through the headphones was a transcription of what I was listening to. I didn't realize that until half way through the podcast. Sigh.

Now I was on the hunt for something that was not too easy, not too hard, but juuusstt right! I finally found what I was looking for at where I listened to and participated in a lesson, featuring Johnny Spanish and Cristina from Miami on asking for things in a restaurant. Although the lesson was fairly easy, it required me to construct sentences based on the theme of the lesson. That's just where I'm at! Reading and writing are getting easier. Listening is OK, if the accent is something I'm familiar with, but actually having to open my mouth and speak extemporaneously is still a challenge.

I enjoyed my little foray into the world of language instruction podcasts. Some were little mini-stories, others were expositions of word usage, like CBC's "C'est La Vie"--one of my favourite radio programs ever. Lots of them were tied into language learning systems, and used the podcast as a "hook".

Only some of these podcasts could be used in-library, since many of them require you to speak aloud. That could be a bit of a disruption. But for highschool students struggling with the subjunctive mood or for travellers looking for some phrases to take south with them, these are great resources; especially if all of our language instruction materials are out!

Hasta la vista, baby!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Dramatic Monologues

In my line of work, I have witnessed some amazing performances. People seem to treat the library as something of a confessional Occasionally, it feels like I am the audience in a one-man or one-woman play! Enter Stage Left! Hold Forth! as the audience sits in stunned and wondering silence. They gesture, they fume, they sit on the corner of the desk and chat away about the vicissitudes of their lives...husbands, wives, children, erstwhile friends, illness, sorrow, tall tales of adventure. They always leave feeling better. Sometimes I feel like Lucy Van Pelt!

It would be unethical to share anything but my amazement, but I do have another dramatic monologue, delivered by my aged English cousin, Gwen, many years ago, which so impressed me with its flow and sustained length that I recorded it verbatim in my journal the evening after hearing it. My cousin died recently at a very great age, and I don't think she'd mind being immortalized in this way.

So here goes......

"I used to have a lovely clump of Jersey lilies, but I fear they've all gone now. The big willow blew over in the storm; did you hear about the storm? Terrible, it was; anyway, the branches fell into the lily bed. That and the floods....

Jersey lilies they were; I got them from a friend. She's quite a few years younger than I am; a few, well.....five or six, lets say four. She married a Jerseyman, he's a , well he's retired, but he was a farmer. We call them Gwen and John too. We went out there for a holiday. They have a lovely house, well, the son's got it now, but they have half of the ground floor. They were going to have a small cottage, at the bottom of the garden, a retirement cottage, you know, but they priced it all out and in the end it would have been too much trouble so now they have half of the ground floor with their own entrance, and the son; no , both sons share the rest. Its a long house, very French. We spent a month there. All along the wall there were beautiful flowers, some of them these Jersey lilies; masses of pink lilies.

Just as we were flying out, we were in the house packing up; I was still in me underslip, and the bell rung. A fellow came in with a bag of new potatoes and a great bunch of these plants. As we were driving along the road to the airport, John said to me:"I don't know if we'll be able to take them back in; I shouldn't think so." I looked at him and said "I've got them now, and if you think I'm going to dump them out on the roadside...."

So we brought them home. But they've gone now.

I don't know, maybe you had to be there, but this just guts me every time I read it.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Creative Re-Use

My neighbour has an amazing outdoor rink on which his two hockey-mad little boys, their cousins, and all the neighbourhood kids spend every winter evening using to the fullest. While the more couch potato type kids are inside watching the Simpsons, these little tykes are out perfecting the upstairs shot under the kleig lights. My neighbour faithfully smooths, waters, scrapes, until that rink shines like a mirror. Its a wonderful addition to our neighbourhood.

When spring came early this year, I thought how disappointed he must be to see all that work come to nothing so prematurely. I thought that until this week's heat wave, when the neighbourhood kids all gathered. The rink had become a community wading pool. There was always someone's mom sitting on bench nearby just in case, but everyone was having a whale of a time. Pretty soon the liner will be put away and the boards taken down for another year. But for now, the kids have decided to seize the day!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Quilts of Various Sorts.

I've been known to be a quilter. Not a "quilter" in that sense of having a lovely sewing room with all my fat quarters (look it up, non-quilters) arrayed in precise prismatic order, and all the latest gear for machine embroidery. I like scrap quilts. The ones I grew up with, with printed cotton broadcloth cut either cleverly or economically into kaleidoscope patterns. When we were kids, we used to like to look up through them in the mornings and admire the stained-glass effect of the colours and the seams that became visible through the backing.

I like the idea of quilts that use up every scrap of the useable. "Use it up, Wear it out, Make it do, or Do without" is a saying that could have come out of the mouth of either one of my grandmothers. One had a tinfoil drawer, a ball of elastics, and scads(to use her word) of string. The other was the quilter. I have on my bed, sometimes, the quilt she gave to my husband and I as a wedding present (lo, these many years ago). I had it on my bed for every day of my marriage while she was alive. After she died, I thought I'd better take it off, to better preserve it, but its pretty tattered now anyway, so whenever I feel the need of it, I put it on the bed again. It is a masterpiece of conception and construction. Grandma used the remnants of housedresses, doll clothes (which were probably remnants when I knew them as doll clothes), aprons, curtains, and combined them into pinwheels, masked off by ribands of multicoloured solid strips, on a pristine white ground. Despite being composed of a multiplicity of colours, the whole is perfectly balanced, allowing the eye to wander over the entire surface without distraction. The corners match, the seams, some of which are now visible through lifting patches, are arrow straight, and look as if they'd been cut with a razor; this long before the handy dandy rotary cutters which are the only way I can do this kind of thing. The quilting, done by hand on a frame built by my grandfather, is at least 8 and more often 10 stitches to the inch, and as I can recall from working with her, if the needle didn't make it through all layers, you went back and tried again.

My quilts are more, Yes, let's call it that. I try to keep things on the straight and narrow, but if a seam edge flips over when I'm sewing it, I leave it. My stitch length depends on which needle I'm using and if the television program in the background is interesting or not.

Both Grandma and I learned the hard way that the recycling ethic has a downside. Remnants are ok, but using much loved already used garments can be disastrous, as that patch will wear out before any of the others. Using cheap material can also sometimes let you down. So it is with my quilt. That, as much as anything is why its tattered. The stitches have held, but the fabric has not.

While I was thinking about Grandmothers, I remembered a photo I'd once made for something called Self-Portrait Tuesday, which was a kind of web "happening", which started as blog, became an interactive website, and now, renamed Self-Portrait Challenge, seems to exist only asa Flickr group, though it still maintains its thematic nature. If you Google it, that's where you'll end up. There was a monthly or weekly theme and photographers from around the world would post their interpretations. I made two that are quiltish. One, I called Quilt of Days, and was a nine-patch of images I made of myself and what I was up to for a space of time. I wanted it to look like a crazy quilt.

The other was a collage of images which I called something like "remembering the grandmothers" or "thinking about the grandmothers" or some such thing. Genetics is a bit like quilting really. You take a bit of this and a bit of that, an eye colour here, a quirky smile there, some stature, or not, a laugh, a predisposition to this or that disease, and stitch them together. There's a pattern, but you can change it up a bit. GATTACACGATTA. You know.

And you just never know how the whole thing will come out until its finished!

What next?

I've been pretty busy this week. At various times I've thought, Oh, I'll blog this or that, but have forgotten along the way what was so amazing about whatever it was I'd seen. So I'm working back closer to home. Today's offering is a couple of photographs I took in the newly open yard. That newly open yard which is so full of other blog-stopping things to do. Ai ai ai!

Here they are--a rust spiderweb on the base of an old canning kettle which has been used in the last couple of decades as a flower pot, and the unfurling of the unstoppable rhubarb.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The End of the Ice Age

Maybe I should just change the name of this blog to "My Nature Journal", since almost always it is nature which supplies me with the amazing sight of the day, even though most of what I notice is completely predictable. These things happen every day, every month, every year. What makes them special is when they happen to me, personally. Every year the ice goes out; every year I wait for it, but every year when I see that telltale glitter on the horizon, I think "Oh boy, the lake is clear!" and today was that day. The dog and I ambled down through the woods to take a look. I took the lower trail today, the one that threads its way along behind a mossy granite ridge that we call The Dragon's Back, down to the little point, or the first point as we call it, to distinguish it from The Point, which is our most usual destination. I wanted to take a look at Coyote Rock. When the ice is on the lake the coyotes who live in the 600 acre plot of land that borders the lake use this as their rendezvous on cold moonlit nights. We like to go down there and see how many sets of individual tracks we can identify. Casey prefers the more accurate smell count. Today we saw no coyotes (we never do), but we encountered four geese who, instead of fleeing from Casey's inept hunting technique of plunging through the reeds after them, actually came closer after that. It was nice to lean up against the boulder at the shore and do nothing.

On the way home, I was looking up at the spent seedheads on the lilacs which line the track, thinking how the weathered bronze of the branching pods reminded me of some French Empire chandelier, when I noticed with a shock that there were green buds showing! When did that happen?

The third amazing natural wonder of the day (first chronologically) was a flock of fifty, count'em, fifty wild turkeys in a field between here and Sydenham. Youngest Son, who was a trifle sleep challenged last night, asked me to drive him to school. Those are some really BIG birds. Alas, there is no picture. No camera on board. Darn.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Friday, March 19, 2010

Imaginary Landscapes

The two most striking images of today are in my mind's eye. They come from stories told to me by my friend, Marlene. We were out on the morning dogwalk, feeling sad about the trees the township cut down along our road for no apparent reason. (Rest assured, I have asked for one).
She told me two stories, one of which made me sad, and one of which filled me with joy and nostalgia. The first was about how hot it has become in her home country of Costa Rica. She was raised on the slope of a volcano high in the mountains near San Jose. Her mother recently sent her some pictures of kids playing outside in shorts and spaghetti strap tee shirts. Mom!, are they crazy? asked Marlene... her memories of what she wore while growing up were rubber boots, sweaters and woolen caps. When she was a girl, it was always cool and misty. Her mother told her that since the lumber companies deforested the volcano, the climate has changed a lot. The climate in San Jose, where her mother lives now, is also changing. Because it is on a high plateau fairly close to the equator, the climate has always been steady within a few degrees of 20 C, summer and winter. Last week, it was 35C.

The happier story was also from Mar's childhood. Her grandfather had a finca, a farm in the countryside. Down the laneway was a row of large conifers which had grown so tightly together that they almost formed a hedge. Marlene was lucky to grow up near her cousins, arranged in three groups of four age-mates each, and they loved to play in these trees until they were teenagers. They created their own world in the tree tops , each having a house, with dishes and special belongings. They could move from tree to tree, like squirrels, never having to climb down to go visiting each others houses. Like the Swiss Family Robinson, or the Lost Boys. How idyllic! Life is definitely better with cousins.

Thursday, March 18, 2010


Six year olds,

driving full sized ATV's,

on the public road,

in packs.

I ask you!

Where is this going?

Where are their parents?

What are they thinking?

What idiot(s) thought that this was a good idea?

Oh, wait, it was the local council! Good one, boys.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Day the Geese Came Back

As I trucked the recycling out to the curb, I was thinking about what today's most amazing thing might be. I considered, briefly, the last patch of gravelly ice lying in the driveway, its amazing longevity aided by the shade of the big spruce tree. I looked up into the sky and saw a pair of jets arcing overhead. Today's atmospheric conditions don't favour long streaming jet trails, because each of them had only that little lenticular exhaust that I associate with rockets from 50's comic strips. Its pretty amazing that we can get up in those things and just fly across to Europe or Asia or Toronto anytime we have the time and money. (Let's not get into the morality of it just now.)
After the recycling and a cup of coffee, it was time for the obligatory dogwalk. I decided to go down to the point today. Its one of my favourite walks, but takes a good hour, especially if you stop to take pictures, or to sit on the rocks by the shore when you get there. At this time of year, its good to get out earlyish, when the sun has warmed the air, but has not yet turned the track into a sea of slippery mud. Today, I'd timed it just right. The footing was not iron-hard, and not gooey. It had the consistency of still warm fudge, nice and soft to walk on, but stable.
I heard them before I saw them. Honk doesn't really cover the range of noises that come out of a skein of three hundred or so Canada Geese on the move. There's prattling, gargling, squawking, squealing, creaking. Its an incredible noise. This group was so large that the V had branches, and there was a stealthy little secondary vee inside the big vee, catching a draft on the wake of three hundred pairs of wings. I wondered what all that noise is about. Are they callling out directions to one another? Arguing about place? "Hey Buddy, I was here first, get in line!" Maybe each squawk is necessary to make the most out of a wing beat. Geese are pretty big. Maybe they need a kiyup like a tai kwan do fighter just to stay airborne? Or maybe they're shouting encouragement to one another. "C'mon guys, only 3ooo more clicks to Happy Valley/Goose Bay!" Or maybe its just gossip, cause that's a pretty long trip. Maybe they need something to do to pass the time. I just looked up the etymology of "gossip" to see if maybe it was related to geese, but sadly, it doesn't seem to be.
Seeing all those geese was another harbinger of spring, but to see them followed in wave after wave of skeins of a similar size was really thrilling. Talk about a wall of sound! Mind you, I think the small skeins are almost as noisy. Incongrously, I thought about how glad I was that they weren't squadrons of enemy aircraft. Paranoid? Possibly. I tried to take their picture but failed miserably. It reminded me of my friend John, a landscape painter who once, for a joke, painted a pair of webbed feet in the sky at the top edge of a failed painting, and exhibited it, entitled "You've got to be fast to paint ducks". He sold it for several hundred dollars, presumably to someone with a sense of humour!
When we got down to the point, there was a welcome flash of blue at the shoreline, where really thin ice, that would be water by noon, was reflecting the sky. The thicker rotten ice beyond was dull grey, riddled with tiny holes at the surface that took away its ability to be anything but dingy. Here I heard another noise I associate with the coming of spring, the challenging calls of redwing blackbirds (called affectionately in our family "Ge-bleees"). For me, even more than the first robin, this is the marker that spring is REALLY here. Robins are always pushing the envelope, and they've been known to be wrong before, but redwing blackbirds always get it right.
On the way home, I took some shots of beautiful ice formations in the puddles. I figured it might be one of the last chances for this spring. Amen to that!

Sunday, March 14, 2010


An unfamiliar tree on the horizon caught my eye. As I drew nearer it resolved into a huge flock of birds, flying sufficiently close together to create a form of the same size and density as the crown of a tree. As I watched, the shape dispersed into a plume,and moved across the sky as if the tree were being blown away by the wind. It was all over in seconds.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

A Series of Little Things

A four year old chasing cars down the length of his yard, while he waited with his dad for the schoolbus.

A pair of jeans tucked into the tongues of neon edged hightops. A new fashion for twelve year old girls? Or an iconoclast in the making? Shades of the Eighties.

Three horses rolling in the arena at the same time; all those legs and mighty bellies in the air.

Twitterpated drivers, drunk with spring, not paying attention. Amazing, but not so wonderful.

Signs of Spring

The onions know.....
The dog took her first swim of the season in a little stream. She came out fairly quickly, but she even did her lie down and get the belly wet move.

Is this slime mold? Algae? Whatever it is, its green! You can't keep chlorophyll down once there's some sun on it!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Return of Colour

Like the slow spread of a blush, life is returning to the world. The telltale sign is colour leaching into things. The goldfinches on the feeder are now beginning to be olive rather than drab. The willows by the highway are yellowing up as if their branches had been dipped in chrome yellow. There's the faintest hint of pink in the stands of maple covering the stone outcrops in the farmers' fields. The pond ice is taking on designer tints; aquamarine and pistachio muddied just enough to be sophisticated. It's inevitable and inexorable.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Corvids and Canids

Two of my favourite animal groups have afforded me lots of laughs over the last three days. First there was the backyard fox who we watched hanging out for a good ten minutes. The dog needed to go out, so we let her. We wanted to see what the fox would do. The dog went down the steps, entirely oblivious, and started her ritual of rolling in the snow. She can carry this on, with sound effects for several minutes. I kept expecting her to catch the scent of the fox, but she never ever realized he was there. He stood at the far end of the yard, by the cliff edge, watching her. I wish I could have read his expression. Was he puzzled, amused, disdainful of her domesticity? One thing he was not was perturbed.

While driving down Sir John A. the other day, I saw a charcoal coloured toy poodle in a blaze orange winter coat (um, who could mistake him for prey, I ask you, especially downtown...maybe they just liked that colour?) cock first one leg against a snowbank, then the other so that he was standing on his front legs as he let fly with a stream of yellow. Quite a feat...look Ma, no feet!

Today on the way back from my riding lesson I had to look twice to be sure of what I was seeing. It was a crow in the centre of an open field, rolling, just like my dog, in the snow. He'd dig his beak in, slide, turn over, and then sit up and fluff his feathers. Then he'd repeat, as needed.

Friday, February 26, 2010

gaudí pedrera barcelona

gaudí pedrera barcelona
Originally uploaded by campru
Watched a video of Gaudi's work today, and I don't think I'll see anything more amzing today. I love his organic forms, and the sense of fun that pervades much of his work, despite the fact that he was an ultra-religious ascetic. He manages to transcend that to reach a place where worship commingles with honouring your genius to the full.

Thanks to campru for the flickr post on creative commons of this beautiful photo.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Without Even Leaving the House

I'm tied down with housework and cooking today, so haven't ventured into the wild world except to go grocery shopping....but that's another story.

As I spun on my office chair, I caught a flash of pearly light from the Paua shell which my dear friend, Diana, brought me from her New Zealand home. After waiting patiently for my camera battery to recharge, I was able to photograph it, though of course the light had changed by then. How Monet.

Here is a link to a video of paua, a type of abalone, in its natural habitat.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Animals Lying Prone

There's a theme to this day. A fisher, lying dead in the road, and still contriving to look fierce and burly. What wonderful paws. No picture of that because I was driving.

"My" horse, deciding that a good old roll in the sand ring was in order, WITH THE SADDLE STILL ON!. No picture of that, because I was too busy trying (and succeeding, luckily) to save the saddle.

Only in Canader, eh?

Dateline: February 15, 2010

Typical winter day in Canada. Two boys at a loose end, doing target shorts.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Miniature Fireworks Display

I had occasion to really look at some flowers today. Flowers are pretty and all, but on close inspection they are marvellous! How extravagant is this? They used way more material than necessary in the carnation, and it looks like they took pinking shears to the hem. It makes me wonder why (not that I mind at all). If you look really closely at the top one, you'll see that the pistil is blue. What gratuitous, yet subtle use of colour! I like the last one best. The black centre draws your eye, and as you stare at it, the fine brightly coloured structures (I'm guessing stamens) which surround it seem to move outward, like a mini-fireworks display!
We may take time to stop and smell the flowers, but how often do we actually take the time to look at a flower up close? I recommend it!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Back in the Days Before Blogging

At Book Club with a Difference today, one of our participants talked about The Cure for Death By Lightning, by Gail Anderson-Dargatz. She read this book twelve years ago, and was inspired to create a scrapbook like the one described in the opening passage of the book.

"The cure for death by lightning was handwritten in thick, messy blue ink in my mother's scrapbook, under the recipe for my father's favourite oatcakes: Dunk the dead by lightning in a cold water bath for two hours and if still dead, add vinegar and soak for an hour more."

Since reading the novel, our book club member, an artist by profession, has added daily to her scrapbooks whatever comes her way; a feather, an old newspaper clipping retrieved from a box, inspirations for art pieces, grandchildren's drawings, photographs, notes in her own hand about the doings of the day, the weather, whatever is going on in her world. Its a way of keeping track of things that might be lost or neglected otherwise and a way of sharing herself with her family, who enjoy looking at the books. She now has seven fat black albums full and continues to add more. She told us how one or two of us had even made it into her book! Like a blog, the scrapbook of the day gives a glimpse into a life with all its beauty, sorrow, and oddity. We were thrilled when she brought her first one for us to look at. And now you can see a page from it too.

A Horse of A Different Colour

This is Frankie. You don't usually see this colouration on such a big fella. From the side he looks like a Mercator projection.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


There was a Great Grey Owl sitting in a tree outside the library today. My mother was here at the time and had her trusty "l'il red camera" in hand. I've asked her to send me a picture.

Great Greys have beautiful dark eyes, and a very regal presence. And I love how silently they fly.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Wonder of Wonders!

I can see the surface of my desk!
The sunset was pretty nice today, too.

Sunday, February 7, 2010


Stop me if you've heard this one....In 2008, I went on a pilgrimage in Spain. It was a big deal for me and I talk about it a lot. One of the symbols of the Camino de Santiago is the pilgrim's scallop shell, and many pilgrims purchase one along the route to put on their pack or around their necks to proclaim their status. One of the few embellishments I took with me when I went was the first gift my husband gave me, about 30 years ago; which is this little shell necklace. You won't believe it, but it didn't even occur to me until I was sitting in a cafe in Santiago at the end of the journey that I had had my scallop shell all along.
The Pilgrimage route abounds with images of Santiago de Compostela, the patron saint of Spain,,_son_of_Zebedee
who in the guise of Santiago Peregrino (aka Pilgrim) carries with him the medieval equivalent of the hobo's spotted handkerchief on a stick, and his drinking gourd.The other day, I finally got around to throwing out the cactus that the kids had nurtured when small (Hint: cactus make a great botanical choice since they can survive without being watered for years--I kid you not). As I was pitching them in the garbage, I rescued this little Buddhist traveller who had decorated one of the cactus gardens, and noted with surprise his drinking gourd and hobo's pack. When we bought him at the dollar store, I didn't really pay any attention to him at all. He sat there, a pilgrim precursor, for 15 years until I finally woke up to his presence.
They say that wherever you go, there you are. I say, wherever you go, there you may have been already. Life (my life, anyway) has a tendency to be cyclical like that.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Bush Telegraph

A great day for making tracks. But not very good for stealth. Everyone was represented. Mice, Squirrels, Turkeys, Grouse, Deer, Coyotes, Foxes, Dogs, People, Tracked Vehicles.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Thursday, February 4, 2010


Once again, it was the email inbox which provided the day's oddity.

Sudbury, Ontario man on the snowy back deck, mush to mush with a big cow moose.

Only in Canada, eh?

This put me in mind of the many stories of interspecies friendship that I've seen lately. Vagrant hounds and lonely orangutans; lions and tigers and bears (oh, my!) cohabiting in a southern U.S. zoo, and so on. My favourite personal experience of this was one summer evening when we were out walking the bounds of our little northern village with our German Shepherd, Mishi.. The pink sky cast a glow over everything. It was like wearing rose-coloured glasses. The weathered fence posts, the daisies in the fields, even the page wire was gilded with fiery pink. As we walked past a field of young cattle, one curious little heifer put her wet nose through the fence and stretched out towards the dog. Mishi did the same. In the gilded light, the two noses touched. Then the dog put out her tongue and licked the glistening nose of the calf. The calf, surprised,started a little, but held her ground. We could hardly believe our eyes when that big rough cow tongue slurped the black wet nose of the dog. It was a magical moment.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


I don't have a picture of the most amazing thing I saw today. It was this: just after lunch we watched a dog fox, with a huge black brush tail as long as himself, sitting on our back lawn as relaxed as he could be and having a good old scratch. He thought about throwing himself down for a roll, but changed direction mid-fall, and did a "Snoopy" bounce. Then he trotted over to the edge of the cliff and looked out over the lake for a few minutes before wandering off across the neighbour's yard. I love it when I get to look at the wild world in action like this. It feels like I've been given a gift!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Mystery Objects

Galactic storms? Medical images?
Closeups of the "Witch Balls" hanging in the bathroom window, actually.

Monday, February 1, 2010


This dog has a problem with chewing herself. Is there a Doctor in the House? A Psychiatrist? Red Green? I guess duct tape really can do anything. Only duct tape can save her, because she respects this bandage cover. And its surprisingly easy to remove when its time to change the dressing. Unfortunately, she looks like some amateur started to build a dog robot, and then gave up. Function trumps form, people.

Sunday, January 31, 2010


At a thrift shop with an alliterative name which is NOT owned by Walmart, there is always something to boggle the mind. I went there today to drop off some donations, and because I knew there would be something crazy to see. I was disappointed not to see any really awful eighties suits or anything unsuitably sequinned, but there were these two examples.

On the left is an album by someone I've never heard of. It begs the question "HOW?" did he ever get enough play to have a "greatest hits" album. Uber-cool? I think not. On the right, we have the question "Why?" Why did anyone ever think any of these things were remotely what was required by anyone? I can't decide between the highly polished coconut piggy bank and the teasel headed hedgehog with the cauldron as being most ridiculous. And the touristy crap like "minimalist plywood beaver", "resin soapstone moose--is that a moose?" or the Blue Mountain Pottery Owl--in flame tones was rightly cast aside by whoever was the unfortunate recipient.

Why, Why, Why? and How, How, How? These questions haunt me whenever I haunt V V.

Saturday, January 30, 2010


Here's something remarkable which I see every day on my walks. This tree is completely infested by phomposis galls which are fungal infestations which cause wood to grow in a disorganized fashion. Even though this is a (non-fatal) disease, the overall effect is quite beautiful, especially in winter when the knobbly branches are silhouetted against the sky, looking like some petrified plum blossoms or perhaps a roccoco tracery of stone.

Friday, January 29, 2010

War is Weird

Visited the War Museum in Ottawa today, where I saw lots of oddities. I decided that this camo evening gown by Jean Paul Gaultier was worthy of mention.
Who would wear this? What fashion statement is being made here?
I'm not sure that this was actually the weirdest thing there...I mean concentration camps, nuclear weapons, man's inhumanity to man have got to be right up there. Hitler's Big Black Car of Evil gets a dishonorable mention.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Weirdest Thing Of The Day

The Plan: to record(for posterity? the heckuvit? well, who cares why, perhaps this will become evident as the so-called "plan" unfolds)...the strangest thing I see every day, with pictures where possible. Its a pretty weird world, after all. Let's see what transpires, shall we?
This was in my inbox this morning. If its real, its amazing. If its not, why would you bother to make people think that there was a dog as big as a pony alive in the world? Sometimes I think people don't have enough to do.
PS--because sometimes I don't have enough to do, I've added a Spanish Word of the Day Gadget to my blog. This will help me build my Spanish vocabulary for my next pilgrimage--see Post for February 7. (which is actually where I should have put this, but I'm trying to stay on task).