Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Edging Into October

The subtle shades of September have begun to spark and catch the blaze of October's fiery reds, but I'll have to save their flame for another post. For now, I'm still living in the previous month when a late summer trip to the cottage beckoned, and we followed.

The drive from my home takes about four hours. Once we're off of the highway, and heading north and eastward, the countryside gently changes from flat farmland to rolling wooded hills. Small ponds and creeks spill over into view, reflecting the soft hues of the season.

There are a few standard stops along the way - the grocery store for perishables and something sweet. We act as if we're giving into a whim when buying the ooey-gooey delight from their bakery section, but we both know it's inevitable. Other stops along the way might include the dollar store for a needed item we realize was forgotten, the chip wagon for this area's best fries and of course the tiny but adequately-stocked liquor store for wine or some spirit to help combat the chilly autumn nights.

The last leg of our journey takes us through winding dirt roads that follow the lake. The curves are tight as the road rises and dips, hugging the hills which make up this beautiful lake shore drive. The land is dense with trees, allowing only an occasional glimpse of water when glancing off to the left. Driveways are marked with a column of wood-carved signs, proudly displaying family names which serve to announce that you're approaching your destination. Throughout the twists and turns, Benny begins to turn up his volume - worry-whining to remind us that he must not be left in the car when we stop this time.

When you see this sign, you know it's time to turn left and drive the last few hundred meters to the cottage. (please click to enlarge)

We were pleased to see that there was a boat available for our use. I liked the way the yellow swirl on the side seemed to continue its flow in the securing ropes. (please click to enlarge)

Once unpacked, we decided to take the boat out and cast a few lines. Benny joined us, but we soon regretted our decision to include him as he never stopped running back and forth - pausing briefly to lean over the edge to bite at our wake. (please click to enlarge)

Visions of his little frame falling overboard prompted us to leave him inside the cottage next time - much to his dismay. This was taken as the boat was pulling away from the dock. (please click to enlarge)

Except for one particularly cold and rainy day, one or both of us fished at least once daily. The early evening sky treated us to its paintbox of colours. (please click to enlarge)

One day, we saw temperatures dropping from balmy to near-nippy. That last evening on the boat became a bit uncomfortable as clouds obscured the setting sun. This was the last cast of the day. (please click to enlarge)

Early the next day, while we sat on the deck drinking coffee, we selected a lure to fish off of the dock, and planned a possible hike. (please click to enlarge)

Benny "relaxed" in the boat which was docked nearby - until he saw something that caught his attention. (please click to enlarge)

Sunning itself on the dock, was a tiny red dragonfly. Since it had caught Benny's excited attention, it was in peril of being inadvertently stomped upon by an exuberant Jack Russell Terror. I offered a finger and the dragonfly gladly accepted the invitation to relocate. It graciously allowed me a macro shot before we bid it farewell. (please click to enlarge for detail).

We hope to return to the cottage for one last visit sometime next week. During that time, I plan to schedule two more posts with more images from last month's stay. If I'm not making the rounds visiting your blogs, and not responding to comments at that time, that's where I'll be.

Friday, September 26, 2008

September Stroll

Come walk with me. There's no need for a jacket just yet - the mornings are still warm and slightly humid. Put on your comfy shoes and we'll walk through the field and woods, to the creek. While we stroll along, see if you can guess which songs are represented by the snippets of lyrics written in pink, below each photo, and please remember to click on each of the images to enlarge them.

1 "The sun pours down like honey..."
Away from the main path and close to the shore, these flowers had grown tall - just about eye-level. I noticed how the sunlight was filtering through the trees, giving an almost sepia appearance, so I crouched down to capture flowers, branches and sunlight all together.

2 "Spinning at the mercy of an unrelenting force..."
A spider scrambles across its dew-dotted web to claim its breakfast.

3 "The autumn leaves of red and gold..."
The sun catches and illuminates the red and golden tones of the changing leaves. Soon there will be more red than green.

4 "Out past the cornfields where the woods got heavy..."
These woods were heavy with a fungus. Mushrooms are growing like steps in the bark of the tree.

5 "Step by step, one by one, higher and higher..."
An up close and personal look at this growth.

6 " Fish are jumpin' and the cotton is high"
September is the time when the salmon are making their way upstream. This is the same spot where trout were jumping in the spring. Every minute or so, you can see one of them attempt to jump its way up the fish ladder. Some make it, and disappear from view. Some hit the wall with a sickening thud. This one made it.

7 "I know nothing about fishing but just watch me go..."
Inside the trash bag, are one or two that got hooked before they had the chance to jump the ladder. This angler seemed pleased with his catch.

8 "Look at the flowers and the green grass so tall..."
Late in the afternoon, the sunlight saturates the wildflowers with deep, rich hues.

9 "Those water-coloured memories, soft as a summer's breeze..."
On this day the creek was like glass, reflecting the trees in its surface. There were several salmon swimming just beneath which continued to make their way upstream.

10 "But there are times that you feel you're part of the scenery..."
Up ahead, Benny catches up to Frank while making multiple detours along the way. So much to sniff!

11 "Keep on smilin' thru the rain..."
The day is done. Back at Frank's place after the sun has set and rain clouds moved through, leaving raindrop-spattered leaves.

12 "Got to sit down, take a rest on the porch..."
Outdoor lighting illuminates the back deck revealing plants which have begun to look September-weary.

Lyrics answers (not necessarily by the original artist).

1 - Suzanne - Leonard Cohen

2 - Nexus - Dan Fogelberg

3 - Autumn Leaves - Eva Cassidy

4 - Night Moves - Bob Seger

5 - Jacob's Ladder - Bruce Hornsby and the Range

6 - Summertime - Janis Joplin

7 - Gone Fishing - Chris Rea

8 - Warm Love - Van Morrison

9 - Sand River - Beth Gibbons

10 - Take the Long Way Home - Supertramp

11 - Keep on Smilin' - Wet Willie

12 - Lookin' Out My Back Door - Creedence Clearwater Revival

Monday, September 22, 2008

Non Trivial Pursuits

I've enjoyed trivia, ever since the Canadian-made Trivial Pursuit went on the market in the early 1980's. We owned the Genus, Baby Boomer and Television editions of the board game, and played them on occasion when friends came by. A game for four usually lasted a couple of entertaining hours.

About a decade later, computers came into my home, and since then, I've gravitated to Internet versions of trivia, readily found on most IRC (Internet Relay Chat) servers. As with most online venues (blogs are no exception), I've come to know several people quite well through the typed word alone. A few folks have become close enough to merit the occasional phone call and others stay in near-constant touch by email. A few times, I've lucked out and met some of these people in real life.

My oldest online-turned-real-life friend is Karen. We met almost ten years ago through a newsgroup discussing a book we had both read and loved. If you're curious, the novel was Diana Gabaldon's Outlander (Cross Stitch in the U.K. and many other Commonwealth countries). After just a posting or two, we took our correspondence to email, and became fast friends. We had a lot in common, and a love for trivia was among them, so we often visited a favourite trivia chat room together.

When we first met face-to-face, we both felt a bit uncomfortable. We hadn't exchanged photos, so we only had a vague idea of what the other looked like. We arranged to meet up at a craft show, where we'd each be with another friend. It was a short encounter - just long enough for a cup of coffee and a wish that we had a couple of keyboards between us. It took me a bit of time to reconcile the face of the person that I met that day, with the friend I knew so well online.

Through the years, we've arranged to get together a number of times and have maintained our friendship despite ongoing changes in our respective lives. Emails have dwindled over the last few years, but we always know where to find the other, and when one of us does, it usually generates a flurry of emails, laughs and general silliness.

A few years ago, Dave, a young Australian trivia player was traveling the world, and among his stops was a visit to nearby Toronto. Karen, who lives about 90 minutes from me drove to my place for the occasion. So did Frank, and it was also the first time I met him in person. The four of us spent a nice day chatting, cooking, watching summer Olympics and of course eating. What else do almost-strangers do when they meet? Oh right, we drank too!

That get-together kick-started a few subsequent visits between Frank and me. I checked in on him when he was in the hospital recovering from his heart attack later that year, and a few months after that, he decided to spend a bit of time in my neck of the woods. Our friendship evolved from there and the rest, as they say, is history.

Recently, Frank and I received an email from our longtime, online friend Zia. She was coming to Canada and wanted to see the two of us. Plans were made, dates were settled and a couple of weeks ago, we met our fun and engaging friend whom I had known for over five years (longer for Frank) if only through the typed word and occasional photograph.

She came bearing gifts - among them the world-famous
Tim Tams! And yes, they're every bit as yummy as those Aussies (or Oddsies in Frank-speak) say they are! We spent all of Saturday together, enjoying lunch out, attending our local outdoor Southside Shuffle Blues and Jazz Festival and finally back to my place for Frank's famous barbecued back ribs. Unfortunately Frank was suffering from a nasty toothache that day, but toughed it out and enjoyed the time despite the gnawing pain in his jaw. Zia had no trouble keeping us entertained with delightful stories of her travels, family life and career.

From Toronto, she traveled into the United States to visit another mutual online friend and then back home to Australia just a few days before her first grandchild was due to enter the world. We're still anxiously awaiting that news. Except for that nasty old toothache, Frank and I thoroughly enjoyed our time with Zia and I hope she'll visit again if she ever finds herself back to this part of Canada.

No doubt, there are less pleasant incidents of people getting together in the real world after meeting online, but I suspect most would have a fun story or two to tell. I know of two blogging friends that plan to meet up shortly and I'm happy and excited for them. How about you? Have you ever finally met anyone that you've known for awhile online?

Here are a few photos from the Blues and Jazz Festival. Please click on each one to enlarge them.

We arrived at the south end of the city late in the afternoon. The street was closed off to traffic and musicians were set up at intervals along the main drag. Their schedules were well-timed so that as soon as one band went on break, the group directly across from them started up their set. This clarinetist was part of the Dixieland Band seen in the smaller photo at the top.

There was a little bit of Country and Southern Rock.

And even some Rock & Roll as provided by the Tone Dogs.

This couple was a lot of fun to watch. They danced throughout much of the Tone Dogs' set.

If The Captain and Tennille were still performing today, they might look something like this.

This little terrier looked adorable wandering the street, mothering its toy puppy.

A totem pole that appears to be made just for Frank. If you look closely, you'll see that they're all fish.

Moving away from the street, we found some interesting kiosks. This one sold clothing - colourful dresses adorned their racks.

These exotic-looking masks caught my eye.

And this hat shop sported stacks of sombreros.

Zia thought that Frank would have made a good Rasta, but he just smiled and dodged her suggestion to try on this Dreadlocks-adorned Tam. He knew the camera was taking it all in.

This rooster basked in the golden sunshine at the end of a lovely day.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Wings and Wing Nut

If there was an Internet connection up at the cottage, I might not want to come home until close to winter. When Frank's out fishing for hours, I could entertain myself by reading about hard-working ranchers in Alberta from The Bag Lady, the colourful characters in Suldog's Boston and the exotic foods and interesting folks in Kappa No He's Japan. I could spend some time on Russel's Iowa farm or on the bustling city streets of Jo's Vancouver. If I wanted to find a few new blogs to read, I'd click over to Australia to read David's Post of the Day. And I could probably read Frank's wonderful posts before he ever hit the publish button.

But there's no computer there and truthfully, when we're at the cottage, I don't miss it one bit. In fact, if all has gone according to plan, that's where we are right now, and you're reading a scheduled post. So if I haven't been to your blog in a while, or I've not responded to your recent comments on mine, it's only because I'm enjoying the country air, fishing, hiking, building fires, roasting marshmallows, soaking up the scenery and hopefully taking lots of photos.

Below are a few pictures and a short video that I've shot over the past week. The winged creatures were all photographed around local parks. Wing nut Benny was goofing around in my back yard.

I'll be back to catch up with everyone next week. Until then, please try clicking on some of the blogs mentioned above. Most of these folks post frequently, and all of them are very entertaining.

This tiny fly caught my eye because its colour kept changing in the sunlight. Originally its iridescent body gave off a light purple shine but by the time I was able to focus on it with my macro setting, it had a definite green hue. Both colours made it stand out among the petals of this golden rod. (Please click to enlarge)

The same brilliant yellow blooms that contrasted with the fly, now worked to camouflage this bee. (Please click to enlarge)

But you can distinguish it's furry, yellow body quite easily against this purple aster. (Please click to enlarge)

This little moth, resting on a thistle, appears to be weathered and worn. (Please click to enlarge)

I like the way clouds appear in water. This small sparrow sits on the concrete barrier between land and lake. The lake water is behind him, but its body is reflected in a small rain puddle. (Please click to enlarge)

Late in the day, the setting sun painted the clouds a golden orange. A duck bathes in the warm glow of its reflection in the pond. (Please click to enlarge)

This summer, we discovered that Benny loves bubbles. They appeal to the manic (about 99.7%) portion of his brain. He will tirelessly run after, jump and bite every bubble within his reach, and keep searching for those that might have landed somewhere long after the last bubble has been blown.

As you can see, he gets a fair bit of height into those jumps.

Here's a look at his goofy face while on a bubble mission. (Please click to enlarge)

And last, but not least, Wing Nut Benny also enjoys a good game of Flip the Bucket. Please be sure to watch the video of this crazy dog below.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

In A Fowl Mood

It started off poorly at home that night, and it just got worse from there.

The Cormorants were getting ready to go to a party. They had eaten a marvelous fish dinner, bathed, primped and dressed up for the occasion.

Mrs. C. had been watching her weight recently, and while glancing back at her reflection, she asked her husband "Does this outfit make my ass look big"?

Mr. C., being a rather typical male, was not listening to his wife, though something in her tone alerted him that she was feeling insecure. He pulled out an old reliable stock answer to reassure his wife.

"Thiiiiiiiiiis much, and more every day." It was an unfortunate choice.

She hung her head and burst into tears.

Later on at the party, he offered his wing and asked her to dance but she refused and turned away.

They stood in stony silence while others joined in a Conga line.

After a while, Mr. C. wanted a response from his wife, so he asked a pretty, young bird to join him. The two of them skipped across the floor, past his unhappy spouse.

When her husband and his long-necked partner nearly knocked her over with their dance moves, Mrs. C. became angry.

They began to argue.

The other guests gave them their space, and they really had it out.

Mr. C. told her that he resented her silly sulking, and in doing so, he stomped his foot in righteous indignation.

Then jumped into the water to cool off.

He thought about how his distracted state of mind had given rise to this misunderstanding, and he began to feel like a birdbrain for causing his wife such anguish. He soon swam back to apologize to Mrs. C.

Mr. C. explained that when they were getting ready for the party, he really thought that she had asked him "How much do you love me?". And as always, that answer was "Thiiiiiiiiiis much, and more every day."

After a short while, they sorted everything out. When he offered her a warm hug, she realized she was being silly and instantly forgave him.

When the band played their favourite song, the reunited Mr. and Mrs. C. tore up the dance floor.

And that night, the Cormorants kept the promise that they made to each other when they were first married - never to go to sleep angry.

The End