Monday, April 27, 2009

It Has Sprung

It's beginning to look a lot like spring around here.



Most of these photos were taken a couple of weeks ago. The soft fur of the Pussy Willow emerges after a long winter. (please click to enlarge)



Fluffy buds of spring. (please click to enlarge)




A watchful Robin hops around in hopes of finding some worms. (please click to enlarge)




New leaves unfurl to greet the warming sun. (please click to enlarge)




A pair of Cardinals hunt for food together. (please click to enlarge)




Grackles are so colourful in the sunlight. This iridescent gold and blue beauty eats from some fallen seed. (please click to enlarge)




A lovely House Finch nibbles on some seeds. (please click to enlarge)





This cutie has been coming around for a few weeks, to stock up on some spilled seed. Just have a look at those ears. (please click to enlarge)




The rosy sky of dusk as seen from behind new buds. (please click to enlarge)




The fiery sun kisses the sky goodnight. (please click to enlarge)



More in a few days.

Friday, April 24, 2009

B.. B... B.. Benny and the Jets

As I had anticipated, this week has been a busy one, spent enjoying my son's last time off until late in August, and possibly even as late as October. We had a very interesting 24 hour period which I'd like to write about and post photos but I anticipate this upcoming week to be a busy one as well. I think I'll try to schedule a couple short blog posts, and get back to my regular blogging habits after that. I also hope to get out to visit your blogs more than I have. Thanks for your patience. while I enjoy my family time.

For now, I'll leave you with these images of Benny, and his first encounter with an oscillating water sprinkler. This is the dog who has to eat every shovelful of snow, chase down every maple seed as it does its whirly spin out of the trees and eat every lake wave which makes contact with the shore at Frank's family cottage. I am SO getting a pulsating or rotary sprinkler for him next!

Please remember to click on each photo to enlarge.




















video

Monday, April 20, 2009

Wrong

My older son is home for a few days now that his exams are over for this year. His next few weeks will keep him busy fulfilling obligations back at school and then his summer will take him back to Gagetown, New Brunswick for thirteen weeks of military training - ten of which will be spent out in the field. He won't be home again until late August at the earliest, and most likely not until mid-October. For this week, my boys and I will be together. We'll share meals, music and conversation, and for now, all will feel right in my world.

Over the past few days, I've been to Frank's place and back. Among the many photos which I took, were a few of things that somehow were wrong. It wasn't intentional, but in reviewing the images, I found myself saying "Wrong. That's wrong. That's very wrong."

Frank wanted me to see this tree which he happened upon in a small parking lot a few days earlier.

It appeared to be surviving and sprouting its spring foliage despite how damaged it actually was. (please click to enlarge)



A huge segment of its trunk was hollowed out on two sides. Sheer determination alone appeared to be what was keeping it alive. (please click to enlarge)



I photographed it from a few angles - each one showing just how much of the trunk is missing. And yet it thrives, much like some brave souls who manage to cope with whatever hand they're dealt. (please click to enlarge)



Nearby, we happened upon this "Welcome" mat in an unlikely spot. Not on a porch. Not on a doorstep. Not outside of a store. It was simply sitting right in the middle of the road. (please click to enlarge)



These two guys were fishing for trout, but not in the traditional way. Earlier this month, when the creek overflowed from heavy rains, it flooded over the banks, across the path, along the grassy area and into the nearby pond, and carried two to three dozen trout with it. These fish need to get back out to the creek to successfully continue their spawning process and so these two volunteers were catching the trout in nets, removing them from the pond and replacing them into the creek where they belong. Thanks to them, the fish population will not be diminished as significantly as it would have been without their help. (please click to enlarge)



The creek is where spawning trout like this pair belong. That crazy pattern comes from the reflection of the trees which tower over the water. (please click to enlarge)



While out walking, Frank pointed up at a tree and interjected one word into our otherwise logical conversation. "Guitar."

"Guitar?"

"Yeah, there's a guitar up in that tree."




Sure enough.... .. someone's Kawasaki Keyboom guitar was posing nicely amid the branches of a tree. It was fairly high up, and I can't imagine how it got there. (please click to enlarge)



Of all things that were wrong (that is - not as it normally appears), this was the most heart-wrenching. Our Canadian flag at half-mast to honour our most recently fallen soldier, killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan. She was 21 year old Trooper Karine Blais and she was just two weeks into her first tour of duty. She was the 117th to die in the Afghan mission since it began seven years ago, the second female to die in this mission and she was her parents' only daughter. (please click to enlarge)



As with those who passed before her, Karine Blais' body traveled the Highway of Heroes - a stretch of Highway 401 which runs between Canadian Forces Base Trenton through to Toronto. Thousands of people gather on the overpasses along the route, to pay respects, to say "thank you" and "goodbye" to our fallen soldiers as they return home. This January, 2009 article by Paul Crookall tells the story of this tradition best. (please click to enlarge)

On November 11th, 2008, in a blog post called Remembering Our Heroes, I included the names of the 97 soldiers who had been killed in Afghanistan up to that time. Since then, we have lost an additional twenty sons and daughters. They are:

Cpl. Mark Robert McLaren, 23 • Pte. Demetrios Diplaros, 25 • Warrant Officer Robert Wilson, 37 • Cpl. Thomas James Hamilton, 26 • Pte. John Michael Roy Curwin, 26 • Pte. Justin Peter Jones, 21 • Private Michael Freeman, 28 • Warrant Officer Gaetan Roberge, 45 • Sgt. Gregory John Kruse, 40 • Trooper Brian Richard Good, 42 • Sapper Sean Greenfield, 25 • Warrant Officer Dennis Raymond Brown, 38 • Cpl. Dany Fortin, 29 • Cpl. Kenneth O’Quinn, 25 • Trooper Marc Diab, 22 • Master Cpl. Scott Vernelli, 28 • Cpl. Tyler Crooks, 24 • Trooper Jack Bouthillier, 20 • Trooper Corey Joseph Hayes, 22 • Trooper Karine Blais, 21

Thank you.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Authors & Artists - Third and Final Part

This is the last installment of CD and book covers as created for you with random components. Once again, it was a lot of fun to see how many random titles matched their photos so well. I hope you like viewing them as much I enjoyed designing them. Thank you to those who played along and to all who have left such kind comments on the previous posts.

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Lulda Casadaga is a blogger by day and a musician by night. Her newly-released CD They Bear No Fruit is a collection of her hits performed live with her backup band Bitter Jester. Give it a listen while you visit her at her photography and fiction blog, Lulda's Lament.

"Promises that you make to yourself are often like the Japanese plum tree - they bear no fruit." ~ Francis Marion


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Kcinnova (pronounced Casanova) is a mom who really knows how to rock. Her popular CD Dignity of Innocence quickly rose to the top ten of the music charts. She's backed by her all-girl group, Bad Schlema. When not performing, she can be found posting wonderful photos on her blog Kcinnova’s World.

"The world ridicules a passion which it seldom feels; its scenes, and its interests, distract the mind, deprave the taste, corrupt the heart, and love cannot exist in a heart that has lost the meek dignity of innocence." ~ Ann Radcliffe


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Dave brings a little piece of New Zealand to us through his blog, Cimba7200's Thoughts... Join him there to see photos of the local flora, fauna and fun. Congratulate him on his newly published Foundation of Failure as penned by Sylvester Forbes. It's bound to be a bestseller.

"I will not allow yesterday's success to lull me into today's complacency, for this is the great foundation of failure." ~ Og Mandino


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Sandy Carlson has been posting beautiful photographs and fine poetry on her blog Writing in Faith since 2006. She participates in many of the popular memes and often has a different slant on what would first appear to be the obvious. Sandy also writes under the pseudonym Shonda Stine. You'll want to stop by her site after you've read through her latest novel There Before Me.


"Everywhere I go I find a poet has been there before me." ~ Sigmund Freud


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Indrani penned her book Something Very Special under the name Claudia Osip. It's sure to be as popular as her wonderful blog I Share
where she does indeed share beautiful photographs and fascinating background details about her incredible journeys. You won't regret paying her a visit.

"A good head and good heart are always a formidable combination. But when you add to that a literate tongue or pen, then you have something very special." ~Nelson Mandela


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Bag Lady lives on a ranch in northern Alberta with her husband and numerous cows - many of which were named after bloggers upon their birth last spring. She has an incredibly busy life on the ranch and yet she takes time for blogging daily at Bag Lady's Blather. She has recently completed a book of poetry called A Why And A Wherefore which she penned under the pseudonym Adina Mannix. Like Baggie and her bovine friends, it's an udder delight.


"The rain fell alike upon the just and upon the unjust, and for nothing was there a why and a wherefore." ~ W. Somerset Maugham


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Pat is a terrific lady who lives, writes, takes photographs and stamps in Arkansas. She recently celebrated one year of blogging over at Remembrances of An Arkansas Stamper.
Head on over there to congratulate her success at blogging, and for becoming the author of Fruit For Their Songs, which she penned under the name of Aubrie Sampo.

"I value my garden more for being full of blackbirds than of cherries, and very frankly give them fruit for their songs." ~ Joseph Addison


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Lover of Life is an empty nester who can be found over at her blog Life In The Second Half. where she entertains us with fine writing and photography. Somewhere in her busy days, she's found the time to write The Mastery Of His Passions - the biography of my guitarist son, Alex.

"The happiness of a man in this life does not consist in the absence but in the mastery of his passions." ~ Alfred Lord Tennyson


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Steviewren's blog A Little Birdie Told Me So contains so many aspects of her creativity. She's an artist, and you will see signs of her sketches and doodles all over her blog. Her photography and writing makes hers an interesting stop in the blogosphere. Under her pseudonym Polina Gilbert, she has just released her latest book Everything I Said. Dog lovers everywhere will enjoy it.

"I didn't really say everything I said." ~ Yogi Berra


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Jo blogs out of Vancouver about friends, family, art, news and the many interesting facts that run through her clever mind. She's also a fine water colour artist, and is the musical genius behind the band Rumba and their new CD Doorway for the Human Spirit. You might want to pop it in and give it a listen before you visit Jo over at A Majority of Two.

"No pessimist ever discovered the secret of the stars or sailed an uncharted land, or opened a new doorway for the human spirit." ~ Helen Keller


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Shammickite is a fellow southern Ontarian who has a busy life which is reflected on her blog Rook's Nest. You'll enjoy her casual and friendly writing style and her wondeful photography.She has recently become a Grandma and is patiently awaiting grandchild #2. You wouldn't think that Shammie had the time to record the CD The Might of the Gods but she did! She's the lead singer of the popular band Roomate. Give it a listen and then let her know what you think of it when you visit her blog.


"Slow but sure moves the might of the gods." ~ Euripides


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Pouty Lips has two blogs. The one I've known all along is a light-hearted site called Pouty Baby's Nonsense but I've just discovered her newer blog called Dream Weaving.
A quick look through its posts tells me that I think I'm going to like this one. Why not give them both a look and tell Pouty what you think of her new microwave cook book A Moment of Time, as penned by Othello Dexter.

"All my possessions for a moment of time." ~ Elizabeth I
Link

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Crabby McSlacker along with her co-blogger Merry, is the genius behind Cranky Fitness - the place for fitness information, flab-reduction and fun. Always a clever crab, she's written a new how-to book about acquiring fame and fortune. Though written under her nom de plume, Gabriella Macey, the style is unmistakably Crabby. Please visit her and tell her what you think of her book Waiting To Be Known

"Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known." ~ Carl Saga


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Tricia is the clever mind behind Shout where she blogs about family concerns and finding her way through parenting her pre-school-aged son. Both of her own parents have been known to leave some amusing advice comments on her blog. Won't they all be proud to learn that Tricia wrote a book called Comfortable With Yourself under the pseudonym Laureen Brett? Please pay her a visit soon.


"The worst loneliness is not to be comfortable with yourself." ~ Mark Twain


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Clowncar blogs over at The Oort Cloud where the focus is on astronomy. Occasionally his posts discuss his young daughters (about whom we're not supposed to remind him will be dating one day). Clowncar recently published his story With Strong & Active Faith under his pen name, Maximillian Wolfe.


"The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today. Let us move forward with strong and active faith." ~ Franklin D. Roosevelt


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Sunday, April 12, 2009

To Catch A Thief

This is the Easter weekend, and my older son is home from Kingston for a few days, so I'm going to take a short break from creating CD and book covers. I'll resume those later in the week, but at this time, I won't be taking any further requests. I apologize to those who are still waiting to see theirs. It won't be too much longer. Thanks for playing along.

I keep a bird feeder hanging off of the plum tree in my back yard. Usually, after it's been freshly filled, it will take anywhere from one day to one week until it's emptied by the variety of birds which come for their feast. Lately though, I've been finding the empty feeder with its lid askew, and a small pile of seed on the surface beneath the supporting branch.

I know that squirrels are notorious for emptying feeders in a hurry, but those I've seen around here had always been content to eat from spilled seed and frequently-offered peanuts, as long as the Blue Jays hadn't already beaten them to it. The only alternative that came to mind was that creature known for its bandit-like qualities - a raccoon.

I had placed a plastic outdoor table directly beneath the feeder in hopes of catching most of the overspill, resulting in less to clean up from the patio after all winter. It would seem that the table might have aided the suspected raccoon in accessing, opening and tipping the feeder.. We decided to try securing the lid of the feeder by using a couple of heavy-duty rubber bands - the kind that you can often find around stalks of store-bought broccoli. This worked for a while, but it also seemed to make the birds ill at ease. Suddenly, a week or two would go by without any reduction in the feeder's contents. When temperatures dropped to particularly cold depths, the elasticity would weaken and I'd find broken bits of the bands lying on the snow.

Eventually, the birds became used to seeing this new decoration, and they returned to feed once again. However, a more determined raccoon began visiting regularly, and the new attempts to secure the roof of the feeder were quickly thwarted by this persistent critter.

Last weekend, Frank decided to buy another style of feeder, in hopes of deterring the raccoon from gaining such easy admittance to the quickly-diminishing seed. This one was taller and narrower, and contained several perches for smaller birds. We also decided to remove the table from beneath the feeder, to eliminate at least one approach.

Not a half hour later, we saw a raccoon climb down the side of our house, walk along the fence and stroll down into the yard. She glanced up at the tree, and immediately began to climb.

Settling into the branches, she sat still momentarily while she considered her plan of attack. Slowly, she eased herself toward the branch which houses the feeder.



Without a care in the world she casually lifted the roof off of the feeder as if she'd seen it a hundred times before and began nourishing her belly.



On my side of the glass, Benny was barking his fool head off at this masked intruder. How dare she not feel intimidated!


video


Eventually, Frank held Benny back while I chased her away to the back of the yard, under the fence and to safety. As soon as I turned around to come back inside, she was practically at my heels, heading back to her interrupted meal. I tried a total of three chases - all with the same results. Finally I held Benny while Frank made menacing noises, kicked a plastic bucket with which Ben likes to play and ran straight into my lilac bush. Hours later he was still finding twigs in his hair. It seemed so unfair that I had to be holding Benny instead of my camera.

Frank decided that the new feeder was useless for my yard and ended up taking it home with him to add to his growing collection. A different, smaller raccoon has since returned, undoing elastics and tipping the feeder. I've given up.



Raccoons are clever little creatures and when they want something badly enough, they're not easily dissuaded. This Easter weekend tells me that it has been one year since Mama raccoon nested in my attic and subsequently under my deck. I figure if she wants to live near me so badly, the least I can do is feed her.



Happy Passover, Easter and Spring!

If you're relatively new to my blog and haven't read about the chaotic time that a raccoon fell through my bedroom ceiling, please click here for part one. Parts two and three follow. The tale is complete with photographs of baby raccoons and Mama clinging to my son's window.. from the inside. That family still lives under my deck a year later. I hope you enjoy the posts.


Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Authors & Artists (Part 2)

Below is another batch of pseudo book and CD covers. There will probably be one more group of them after this. Thanks everyone for playing along!

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Head on over to Bubblewench's blog The Blogs of Life if you want to see her adorable cat, Karma giving step by step instructions on how to use a Wii Fit. It's quite amusing. Bubblewench's new CD In The Majority just hit music shops, placing her and her band, Polynomial Long Division at the top of the charts.


"The test of courage comes when we are in the minority. The test of tolerance comes when we are in the majority." ~ Ralph W. Sockman


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Daryl's beautiful photography, clever toons and wonderful writing style is her personal invitation to accompany her Out and About in New York City. Please visit her, and while you're there, congratulate her on her brand new bestseller A Reputation for Subtlety which she penned as Faustine Patton


"It pays to be obvious, especially if you have a reputation for subtlety." ~ Isaac Asimov


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Phyllis is a microbiologist whose excellent blog efoodalert.com provides daily information about food safety and recalls around the word. I know why she chose the number 60 - her recent milestone birthday. I guess aging has its downside though, among which is ailing memory. Phyllis gave me a number but didn't specify whether she wanted a book or a CD. Since it's her birthday and she's my cousin, I've decided to give her one of each. Sit back and read through the pages of her gripping novel Deeds Left Undone, written under her pseudonym Ava Moritz.


"The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone." ~ Harriet Beecher Stowe

In her spare time, Phyllis joins the other members of her musical trio Chiasmatic Groove. Last year, they released this collection of mellow tunes on their popular CD Ordinary Days.

"A man can stand anything except a succession of ordinary days." ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


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Renae Meredith is a new blogger who has dipped her yellow nail-polished toes into the the blogging waters with ease. Please visit her and leave her a comment over at Autumn Leaves. Before you do, leaf through her latest novel Country of the Heart, written under her pseudonym Marjolaine Wibo.


"The family is the country of the heart." ~ Giuseppe Mazzini


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DS has a wonderful blog over at Third-Storey Window. She's a lover of literature whose profile states "Peering out this window is like staring at Alice's Looking Glass; nothing is ever quite what it seems. Thank God it's only the third storey, in case I have to jump..." Why not pop over and give her a visit? Before you do, please have a look inside her latest literary release The Long Run, as penned by Hadiya Srecko.


"An idealist believes the short run doesn't count. A cynic believes the long run doesn't matter. A realist believes that what is done or left undone in the short run determines the long run." ~ Sydney J. Harris


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If you're thinking of trying something new and delicious for dinner tonight, drop by Cheffie-Mom's blog Dishing With Debbie a.k.a. How I Overcooked My Family. She's talented, funny and always amusing. Even her newly-released CD reflects food and eating. Sit back and listen to Birds Might Eat Them by Cheffie/Debbie's family band, Skyritida. (I cheated a bit with this one. I reversed the image so that I had an open area to work with on the left. I also used a second image, that of the bird which I extracted from this image - also reversed.)


"Half of the modern drugs could well be thrown out of the window, except that the birds might eat them." ~ Dr. Martin Henry Fischer


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You're in good company if you are one of Reb visitors over at Sibu Pegasus Power, where her fine photography and occasional mini-rants aways entertain. But lately, Reb has been In Bad Company. That's the title of her new CD released by her rock band Hachinohe Expressway. Give it a listen while you head over to visit her.


"Associate yourself with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation for 'tis better to be alone than in bad company." ~ George Washington


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UmmFarouq is one of the newer visitors to my blog and the first (that I know of) from Jordan. She writes about her life in the Middle East in her delightful blog Southern Muslimah subtitled "She's More Than A Girl In A Headdress." Please pop by her place for a visit and then pop her band 3D Monster Maze's new CD Treat Us As Equals in the player.


"I like pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals." ~ Sir Winston Churchill


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Dianne keeps us entertained with her blog Forks Off the Moment where she often writes about those in the field of entertainment, and proves her fine writing skills with Wordzzle challenges. Pay her a visit after you pick up her new novel Dreams of Thy Youth as penned by Peigi Tecumseh.


"Keep true to the dreams of thy youth." ~ Friedrich von Schiller


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Redbush is truly a fine artist. You can see some of her marvelous paintings over at her blog Redbush's Brambles. While there, congratulate her and her band The Accursed Kings for the release of their new CD, Sleep With the Earth.


"Now I see the secret of the making of the best persons. It is to grow in the open air and to eat and sleep with the earth." ~ Walt Whitman


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Mom to a toddler, and expecting twins this summer, MamaGeek keeps a fine blog called What Works For Us where she shares some of her lovely photography. Make sure you stop by to let her know if you enjoyed her new novel What We Pretend To Be penned as author Innes Levi.


"We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful what we pretend to be." ~ Kurt Vonnegut


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Country Girl is a fabulous photographer who likes to work with textures. She lives in a wonderful old farm house with her husband, and a beautiful Border collie named George. Please visit her at Chronicles of a Country Girl. As Mirthe Terrence, her best-selling novel With Wind and Self Righteousness will enchant you up to the last page.


"Vegetarianism is harmless enough, though it is apt to fill a man with wind and self-righteousness." ~ Sir Robert Hutchinson


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I hope you enjoy them. There will be one final groups in a few(ish) days.