Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Ever Wonder How?

Please note that the Posts of the Week should be back next Wednesday. Thanks for understanding this holiday slowdown. Please remember to click on each image to enlarge.

Ever wonder how a flower can be plain and unremarkable throughout summer but appear striking and eye-catching after its death and well into the winter?

Ever wonder how a sunset can glow on the horizon and add fire and warmth to the end of a cold winter's day?

Ever wonder how such a fragile creature learns to trust a human presence and allow a camera to click loudly nearby?

Ever wonder how a crazy little dog can disappear for no longer than three seconds but come back with a fresh collection of burrs?

Ever wonder how that same dog can challenge you with a "let's do it again" look and make a game out of removing said burrs? As soon as each one was plucked from his back and discarded, he chased it down again. Did I mention that he's a crazy dog?

Ever wonder how human feet could be this small? These belong to my newest neighbour, Liliana Elizabeth - sister to Winston the leaf-thrower and octopus-conqueror.

Ever wonder how a newborn's tiny hand can seek and grasp the comfort of another human hand? That's Frank's finger offering security.

Ever wonder how a few lights - blurry, out of focus and reflected in glass can still dazzle our eyes and give holiday cheer?

I wish you all a Safe, Healthy and Happy New Year.
See you in 2010!

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Menorahty Holiday

Ever since my generation of family started having children of our own, we cousins have been congregating to share kidlet birthdays and other occasions. Our kids are all legal adults now and we've not sung Happy Birthday as a group since the youngest one turned thirteen but we still make a point of getting together each year to celebrate Hanukkah.

This year our numbers were smaller than usual but we still enjoyed latkes and other goodies, great conversation, good laughs and a gift exchange at my cousin, Barb's home earlier this month.

Once lunch hit our bellies, a few plates of treats came out along with coffee and tea.

They look really good, don't they?

Everyone at the party was required to bring an inexpensive gift. It may be useful, tacky or delicious. The gifts are left untagged and placed in a pile.

Without peeking, each guest selects a Scrabble tile from a glass bowl.

Mine was O.

If the A tile was selected, that person chooses a gift first. Once the gift is opened, the next letter is called and that person has the option to steal the first gift or select a new one. The play continues in this manner until all gifts are opened. Often there are many "thefts" of popular items like chocolate.

This happy little Buddha was popular with my son, which is a good thing because he ended up taking it home.

It was the second night of Hanukkah, and so two candles of the menorah were to be lit.

The Shammash (or attendant) candle is used to light them and remains lit and nearby but separate.

A few songs were sung by those who knew them. My aunt and cousin went off to the kitchen to play their usual game of Scrabble, and chit chat continued until it was time to head home.

Belated Chappy Chanukkah and Many Menorah!

Please note that I won't be doing a Posts of the Week tomorrow. I just haven't spent enough time reading and compiling posts but I should be back on schedule for next Wednesday though.

Thursday, December 24, 2009


Happy Kwanzachristmakah Everyone!

Wishing you all the very best of the holiday season however you may celebrate it.

Be safe!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Posts of the Week

In the spirit of keeping it light for the holiday season, here is a mini Posts of the Week.

The icon/award to the left here is yours for the taking if your blog post has been named as a Post of the Week - either as top post or as a runner up, today or in past weeks.

This week's top Post of the Week goes to :

The Gift
by Suldog
at Suldog

Other wonderful posts in no particular order are:

Zombies in the Attic
by Fragrant Liar
at Fragrant Liar

Children of Children
by Tabor
at One Day At A Time

Who Were the Beatles
by John
at Accidental Mysteries

Miscellaneous Monday #1
by Saz
at Fat, Frumpy & Fifty

Bear and Out of Place
at Kcinnova's World

Winter Solstice
by TSannie
at The Tombstone Chronicler

Rob Roy
by Cabo
at Hey Cabo

Please drop by their blogs for a visit and leave a kind comment if you have the time. Also, please feel free to add your own choices (for any blog except this one) for a specific blog post in the comments section below, where others can see them. Thank you.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Feathered Friends Flashback

Tis the season to slack off a bit when it comes to blog posts. I'm less prepared than I'd like to be with my posts and so my blogging schedule may vary and lag over the holiday season. This includes the Posts of the Week. Since I have less time to visit blogs, I'll not be compiling as many links for you. We'll see how that goes, but please don't be surprised if Wednesday comes and goes without the usual post. My guess it that you'll also have less time to read them this week.

And once again, I'm dusting off the archives and presenting a few older photos. Some of them are leftovers which have never been shown and some have been published once before. Only the woodpecker is brand new. I hope you'll enjoy. Please remember to click on them to enlarge.

This Mourning Dove was in the process of building a nest when this photo was taken one spring day. It was right at eye-level. They're not the brightest birds. (please click to enlarge)

The Grackles don't appear to be very colourful birds - unless the sunlight hits them just so as it did in this photo. Isn't that a beautiful turquoise head? (please click to enlarge)

One day, in early spring, I took a walk in an area where it seemed nobody had wandered. It was rather off the regular park path, across a biway and down alongside a very shallow and narrow creek. In contrast, it was right next door to a car dealership. Still, it was a lovely, calm day and while out there, several hawks were in flight a small distance away. (please click to enlarge)

In the summertime, we're visited by several herons. The dam seems to attract them some days. Pictured above is the Night Heron. (please click to enlarge)

And this, of course is the beautiful Great Blue Heron. He posed and strutted for me along the wall of this same dam. (please click to enlarge)

While up at a nearby pond one summer day, I was visited by this lovely swan. She was just hanging around looking beautiful. Here, she swam over to me to get a closer look at my camera. (please click to enlarge)

That same pond is home to many varieties of birds - among them, seagulls. This guy was another curious onlooker. (please click to enlarge)

A starling steadied himself on a slender tree branch, defiant of the cold, winter wind. (please click to enlarge)

A beautiful, red Cardinal perched atop a branch, his mate behind him, hiding from view. (please click to enlarge)

A winter Blue Jay landed on my back yard table top where peanuts rewarded his vigilance. (please click to enlarge)

On one of the first snowy days of this year, I went outside to fill the bird feeder and replace the almost-depleted suet. As soon as I started fussing around with the seeds, this lovely little woodpecker boldly flew to the branch to await new food. He watched as I filled each receptacle and kindly posed for a couple of photos. (please click to enlarge)

That's all for today. I hope to have more photos for you soon.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

At First Glance (And Winner Announced)

Thank you to everyone who entered my Casserole Giveaway a couple of posts back. A random draw produced the lucky winner. Congratulations to Joanna Jenkins of The Fifty Factor. According to her blog, she'll be away from internet access until Sunday, but she'll have this little surprise news waiting for her upon her return.

Below are a few photos taken over the last couple of weeks. Please remember to click on each image to enlarge.

An out of focus park bench as seen behind a branch of colourful spindle berries. They'll remain bright like this through much of the winter.

At first glance, what do you think this is?

I can tell you what it is. I just can't tell you why. They're areas in the surface of the mostly-frozen pond which are beginning to thaw. The black center is water. The dark gray is icy and the white, of course, is snow-covered ice. There is nothing directly above those spots which could be dripping onto them. I don't know why this happens quite like this - do you?

The green leaves are ground cover which hadn't quite yet died. The yellow and red leaves had fallen from nearby trees. I liked how the light dusting of snow frosted the foliage.

Similarly, I thought this tree looked nice with it new winter coat. I left a peanut between its trunks after I took this photo.

At first glance, you can see a photograph of Frank taking a picture. Of what?

What you see in his viewfinder was my bird feeder. This little chickadee came to dine and stuck around long enough for me to get a shot of my own.

Long-withered Queen Anne's Lace still looks pretty against its snowy background.

In a few days time, the sun will begin to set just a little bit later each day. For now, dusk seems to come so early with lovely streaks of colour.

Ducks line up along the top of the dam while the mauve and magenta sky reflects in the lake behind them.

At first glance, you see a set of blurry Christmas lights...

But back up and you'll see that you were looking at their reflection in the parked cars. This was taken at a slightly different angle than the previous cropped photo.

See you with more in a few days.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Posts of the Week

Before we get to the Posts of the Week, I'd like to remind all readers that the Giveaway is still running until midnight today. It's open to all who live in Canada or the U.S., or for anyone who has a friend, relative or blogging buddy who does. Please scroll down to my previous post for details. Thanks for participating! The winner will probably be announced tomorrow.

The icon/award to the left here is yours for the taking if your blog post has been named as a Post of the Week - either as top post or as a runner up, today or in past weeks.

This week's top Post of the Week was written by someone who you've seen me list often. His posts are always incredibly touching or highly amusing - sometimes both. Do yourselves a favour and start including this blog in your daily reads. You'll not regret it for a moment. Without further delay, this week's top Post of the Week goes to :

On Small Bridges
by Cabo
at Hey Cabo

Other wonderful posts in no particular order are:

Aggie's Sky
by Kathleen
at Easy for Me to Say

A Christmas Memory
by MPM
at Mental Pause Mama

Solomon the Milkman
by "Soldog"
at Suldog

Two Coats
by Cricket
at Cricket and Porcupine

Snow Day
by Sandy
at Writing in Faith

by Clowncar
at The Oort Cloud

Waikiki Embraces
by Cloudia
at Comfort Spirals

The Disappearing Woman
by San
A Life With A View

I Think It's Winter
by (the other) Hilary
at Crazy As A Loom

A Smiling Monster
by Shimp
at Land of Shimp

Mammogram Day

by Shrinky at
Shrink Wrapped Scream

Reader's Choices:

Recommended by Sandi

Root, Trunk and Limbs
by Frank
at Baron It All

Please drop by their blogs for a visit and leave a kind comment if you have the time. Also, please feel free to add your own choices (for any blog except this one) for a specific blog post in the comments section below, where others can see them. Thank you.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Your Favourite Song - a Giveaway!

Yes, it's true. I'm having a giveaway.

The other day, the generous folks over at CSN Stores approached me to provide an item of my choice either for review and to keep, or to offer up as a gift to one of my loyal visitors by hosting a giveaway.

A review was out of the question. It's just not the kind of thing I'd like to do with my blog, but I thought it might be fun to be able to offer a gift to my readers, as a thank you for their many visits and warm comments.

Having never done this sort of thing before, I still wasn't sure. I hemmed and hawed and badgered their representative with a lot of questions, and finally decided to go for it.

I pored over a few pages of options for my giveaway. I saw cookware, dinnerware, wine_racks and gadgets. I was instructed to select something for up to $75 and eventually, I settled on an item which I hope my readers will like.

It's the Euroquest 3 quart stoneware casserole pictured below. You can read more details about it here.

Unfortunately for my many wonderful overseas visitors, this giveaway can only be shipped to Canadian and American addresses. I'm sorry about that restriction but if you can provide me with the Canadian or U.S. mailing address of a relative or friend (excluding yours truly), there's no reason why you can't be included.

Once the contest closes, I'll select one name by random draw.

Here's how to enter:

• The deadline for this contest is Wednesday, December 16 at midnight, Eastern Standard Time. You have until then to enter for this draw.

• Before the deadline, simply leave a comment on this post telling me the name of your all-time favourite song.

• Be sure to leave me your email address so that I can contact you if you should win. I
f you do win, please be prepared to provide me with a mailing address in Canada or the U.S. via email.

• If all goes as planned, the winner will be announced on or before the weekend.

• If I don't receive an email and/or comment reply from the winner within 7 days after that announcement, I'll redraw, and award it to the next name drawn.

The casserole will be sent out to the winner by the good people at CSN Stores.

Good luck to all who enter.

Now tell me.. what's your favourite song?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Scene of the Crime

Yesterday, we were hit with the season's first snow-rain-snow storm. High winds and wet conditions kept me from taking my camera along for an outing but the day before that was dry. I decided to head up to a park which is about a 15 to 20 minutes walk from home. To my utter shock and horror, I came upon a crime scene, and it wasn't pretty. Come join me as I retrace my steps.

It started off just fine. A cold but pleasant enough day. I filled my pockets with peanuts, grabbed a camera for each shoulder and headed out along the path.

My local pond was partially covered with a thin layer of ice, allowing these ducks to walk on water. (please click to enlarge)

Different in appearance and attitude from the Mallards, this Wood Duck opted to find the open water. Doesn't he have such beautiful colours? All still seemed peaceful on this morning. Nobody could know the carnage which lurked ahead... (please click to enlarge)

I arrived at my destination, happy to photograph some of the bare bones of the foliage which remained. (please click to enlarge)

The dock, with its welcoming benches is usually bustling in summer. Folks sit, bird-watch, fish and simply enjoy the day. Today, the cold air made these benches much less inviting, and I moved on. (please click to enlarge)

I liked how these dead, leafy stalks dipped elegantly toward the water. The day still felt so innocent and tranquil at this time... (please click to enlarge)

I continued along and noticed this tiny leaf clinging tenuously to these burrs. (please click to enlarge)

As I rounded a curve in the path, I realized how populated this park was compared to the one closer to home. Squirrels began approaching me from every direction. Either they were very used to folks feeding them in this location or they could smell the peanuts in my pocket. In any event, they were quite bold. I offered nuts to a few eager cuties and they fearlessly took them directly from my hand. As I continued along, a man called to me from behind, suggesting that I turn around. Apparently the little guy pictured above never got his peanut and had begun following me, remaining close to my heels with each step I took. I turned and rewarded him for his efforts. As I bent to give him his peanut and snap a photo, another squirrel began climbing my leg, intent upon finding the stash in my pocket. Did I mention that they were bold? I moved along tossing peanuts to demanding critters as I went. (please click to enlarge)

These "dolls' eyes" caught my own eye. They're quite bright and inviting against their russet background but don't be fooled by them. They're highly toxic for living creatures to ingest - but not as toxic as the scene I was about to happen upon.... (please click to enlarge)

My first hint of trouble ahead was the look of extreme terror on this craggy face*. He was completely frozen with fear. I wrestled with myself as to whether I should turn to look or just run. I followed his fixed and frightened stare, and saw the scene which will haunt me forever. (please click to enlarge)

If you have small children in the room with you, please send them away before you scroll down lest the image traumatize and scar them for life.

Please steel yourself for the image you are about to see.

It's heartbreaking.

Particularly at this time of year.

I warn you, it's ugly.

If you're ready though, hold on to a loved one's hand and scroll down to see this shocker...

THEY'VE KILLED SANTA! And his little penguin elves too. (please click to enlarge)

If anyone has any information that might help us learn who would do such a thing, please call your local police department where you might also be able to obtain information to help you to break this sad news to your children. Oh the humanity.

When you raise the next glass of eggnog to your lips, please remember our dear, chubby friend and say a silent "ho ho ho" for him.

May the holiday cheer be with you.

*A nod to Rain whose blog often shows us some wonderful tree faces. She's a master at finding them. And Frank whose recent post is full of wonderful tree photos, including one of my favourites.