Thursday, October 29, 2009

Day Trippin'

A couple of weeks ago, Frank and I took a couple of day trips around and about his neck of the woods. We drove to Port Hope, Ontario and visited an antique and craft store called Primitive Designs. We'd seen it advertised in one of those freebie magazines which offer suggestions about where to go and what to do in the area. Their Native Canadian crafts and imports from Southeast Asia intrigued us, prompting us to visit.

We spent over an hour looking over the many beautiful and unique items, and left with a carload of purchases. Among them, a huge coffee wood plant stand, a wooden crow, a carved wooden dragonfly which balances delicately on a stand, some incense and ...

a totem pole which now resides at Frank's place. (please click to enlarge)

The place is set up as a series of well-sheltered tents outdoors. It's cold inside but after a awhile you scarcely notice it. You're too busy looking at all of the fascinating pieces of art. (please click to enlarge)

Can you imagine placing one of these huge garden sprits in your back yard? (please click to enlarge)

She's got legs and she knows how to use them - as a table support, of course. (please click to enlarge)

Carved wooden loons sit among colourful rain sticks. (please click to enlarge)

This beautiful wood carving had such incredible detail. (please click to enlarge)

There were far too many items to show in separate photographs so I put the rest of them together in a three minute video. I hope you enjoy it.

In a few days, I'll have some photos taken around and about our day trip.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Posts of the Week

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

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

Childhood Lost by Nancy at Life in the Second Half

Other wonderful posts in no particular order are:

Soul of Musa by Joseph at Life in Motion

Violated by Kevin at Blunoz Random Ramblings

Rust on the Roof by Steviewren from A Little Bird Told Me So

What Is Your Sell By Date? by FFF at Fat, Frumpy & FIfty

Keeping Up With Rex by Maria at Gardening With Turtles

A Friday Bench on Saturday by Kerri at A Little Piece of Me

Recommended by Jane:
Noisy Nighttime Orgasm by The Walking Man

Recommended by Daryl:
This Week's Windmill by Anita at Prairie Visions II

Recommended by I'm Being Held Hostage:
Write a Blog and Be Respected by One Strangely Lush Mother

Recommended by Eddie Bluelights:
Beyond Herself by Sande at So To Speak

Recommended by DS:
A Tiny Glimpse of Portland, Maine by Louise at Potted Frog

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 top posts in the comments section below, where others can see them.

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Brand New Day

Lyrics by Van Morrison. Photos by me. Colours by Mother Nature. Please remember to click on each image to enlarge.

When all the dark clouds roll away

And the sun begins to shine

I see my freedom from across the way

And it comes right in on time

Well it shines so bright and it gives so much light

And it comes from the sky above

Makes me feel so free, makes me feel like me

And lights my life with love

And it seems like and it feels like

And it seems like yes it feels like

A brand new day, yeah

A brand new day.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


When I was twelve, my family bought and moved into their first and only house. Having grown up on the top floor of a lovely old three-story apartment building, I was thrilled to have a front yard, a back porch and garden, and a room of my own.

Around that same time, a Portuguese family moved in next door to us, and I quickly became fast friends with Debbie and Yvonne - two of the three daughters. We went everywhere and did everything together throughout our teen years.

Two doors down from them was our friend, Evan. He was a year younger than I was and probably a bit smarter. And was always interested in gadgets. Not like pocket knives and compasses - those were too typical. Evan liked electronic toys like bugging devices and noise meters. He was a 1960's kid ahead of his geeky time, and he was always looking for ways to acquire and use these gadgets for his entertainment.

One time the four of us decided to hold a faux séance. The victim was Isabel - Debbie and Yvonne's younger sister. Evan rigged up a speaker which sat hidden behind the drapes in Yvonne's bedroom, where the seance was to be held. He had a microphone which was connected to the speaker by a long wire that led back to his own home. I was stationed outside of Yvonne's room. On the other side of that door, the three sisters sat in semi-darkness trying to conjure up the dead. As they asked questions of the dearly departed, I repeated their words to Evan over the phone. Speaking into the microphone from home, he came up with appropriate responses which he delivered in a ghoulish voice over the makeshift sound system. Poor Isabel was totally convinced that she had successfully made contact with the other side.

I can remember a time when Evan got into a bit of trouble with the police for constructing and detonating a bomb. Oh, relax. It was a pretty benign explosive, which propelled unraveling rolls of toilet paper all over an unpleasant neighbour's yard. He had been caught, and was sitting in the back of a police car by the time Debbie and I found out what was going on. His one and only concern was that he had to get rid of the package of cigarettes he had, so that his parents wouldn't find out that he smoked. This was especially important because they believed he still had the asthma which bothered him as a younger child. That regularly re-enacted condition got him occasional days off from school.

Evan came from a musical family and was a talented pianist. He loved to play, and I loved to listen to his renditions of Elton John's Border Song and Your Song. He also took pride in having figured out how to play the Charlie Brown cartoon theme - tickling both the keyboard and our fancies. He had the most incredible eyes I've ever seen. The colour - unique. Not quite green. Not quite brown. Almost golden. They were startlingly beautiful and oddly catlike. He was a fun, intelligent guy, with a wry sense of humour.

We grew apart as kids tend to do, and though our paths crossed a couple of times when we were in our twenties, we never fully clicked again. As the years went by, and online communication made the world a little smaller, I thought about what path Evan's life might have taken. I had little doubt that he would be Internet-savvy and would likely work in a computer-related field. A few years ago, a quick Google search confirmed that.

Evan was a web page designer, a computer consultant and part time techno-guru for one of Montreal's top radio stations. The world of technology had finally grown into his long-standing geekdom. I couldn't resist emailing him to catch up. He responded shortly afterward with the pertinent details of his life. He had three sons of whom he was immensely proud, and a career which gave him much joy. He still created music. He still smoked those darn cigarettes. Our exchange was brief and pleasant, and more than a tad nostalgic. I was glad I'd made contact.

That was a number of years ago. Recently, I thought I'd look for a radio station to listen to online. I immediately thought of my native Montreal's CJAD - the station where I knew Evan worked on the air occasionally. I wondered if that was still the case and decided to Google his name once again. Sadly, the first item which came up was his obituary.

Evan passed away almost two years ago of lung cancer. Just yesterday, I found this very lovely tribute by his friend and colleague. The photo of Evan on that page must have been taken when he was in his forties, yet he looked almost the same as he did when we were young teenagers - minus the braces.

Evan and I hadn't been close for decades, but it ached and tugged at my heart to learn of his passing. So many good memories and laughs were shared with this boy who had eyes like a cat.

Rest in peace, old friend.

The following images were taken last week at a beautiful, old cemetery in Port Hope. Please remember to click on the images to enlarge them.

"Sweet is the memory of distant friends. Like the mellow rays of the departing sun, it falls tenderly, yet sadly, on the heart." ~ Washington Irving

"Let children walk with Nature, let them see the beautiful blendings and communions of death and life, their joyous inseparable unity, as taught in woods and meadows, plains and mountains and streams of our blessed star, and they will learn that death is stingless indeed, and as beautiful as life." ~ John Muir

"To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die." ~ Thomas Campbell

"Our death is not an end if we can live on in our children and the younger generation. For they are us, our bodies are only wilted leaves on the tree of life."
~Albert Einstein

"When death occurs, death as you know it, the universe embraces you and takes you to its heart." ~ Rosemary Altea

"So say it loud and let it ring. We are all a part of everything. The future, present and the past. Fly on proud bird. You're free at last." ~ Charlie Daniels

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Posts of the Week

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

There is a Season - for Perspective by Julie at Midlife Jobhunter

Other wonderful posts in no particular order are:

My Neighbor Jerry by Grayquill at It's Just So Homer...

Life is Food by San at A Life With A View

Creepy Old Guy Hates Fat Girls by Dianne at Forks Off the Moment

Slice of Lime - Slice of Zucchini by Lime at House of Lime

Grey Matter Management 101 by LadyLuck at Surreal Housewife of Amador County

Not Funny, Do Not Laugh by Hilary (not me!) at Crazy as a Loom

How Big Al Got His Name by Rochelle at Adventures in Nature

The Quest by Wendy at Changes With Seasons

A Moment of Urgent Prayer by Debbie at I Overcooked My Family

Leaving Las Vegas by Kathleen at Easy for Me to Say

Recommended by Sandi:
In My Heart And On The Dance Floor by Sandra at Dances With God.

Recommended by Thumbelina:
The Maiming of the Shrew by Keith at Bloke in the North

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 top posts in the comments section below, where others can see them. Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Raccoon Roundup

If you're new to my blog and unfamiliar with Sugar and Spike, the short story is that they were born under my front deck, orphaned, rescued, rehabilitated and released. The longer story can be found in the above links. There are lots of photos and a few videos of them when they were just a few weeks old and very, very cute.

I have a few overdue images from the last time we saw Sugar and Spike together. Shortly after this visit back in September, Theresa spent a week up at the cottage but didn't see the two of them together at any time.

They've become difficult to tell apart in the dark, which is when they usually arrive for their feeding, and so when only one shows up, we're never certain if it's Sugar or Spike. Spike is generally bolder and more affectionate than Sugar but during Theresa's visit, the only raccoon that she saw was shy and nervous, and wouldn't accept her approach. Sugar can be skittish like that, but not usually that fearful. The worry is that something might have possibly happened to frighten Spike.

On the plus side, all of the food (and there's more than enough for two appetites) continued to disappear during that time, as well as during the following week when Frank and I were up there. By then, nights were cold and we didn't hang around much to wait for them to appear. But large quantities of food was always gone in the morning.

These images were all taken in September during a typical feeding.

Spike tends to ignore the healthier green beans and go straight for the cat food. He's not much different than any other pre-adolescent who turns his nose up at veggies. He does love peaches though. Let me tell you about that...

In August, Theresa and family were spending some time up at the cottage. Sugar and Spike were coming around without fail every night. They were often seen hanging around the cottage waiting for a handout....

One night, someone awoke to discover that one of the kits was trying to get in through an open window. He closed the window thinking he had thwarted its attempts. However, he turned around to find the other one had already gotten inside and found the peaches which were up on the counter. He was sitting comfortably on the sofa, greedily enjoying the juicy fruit - totally unconcerned with activity around him.

Another night, Theresa awoke to find Spike had broken in through the window once again, made his way into her bedroom, climbed up onto her bed and was gently touching her face with his paws. He just needed a bit of cuddle time with his Mom.

As I've mentioned in previous posts, Theresa looks after all sorts of orphaned animals and early this summer, a pair of day-old kittens came her way. She has adopted the two of them and keeps them with her whether she's home or at the cottage. Like most kittens, Luca and Sambuca can be pretty rambunctious but one particular night, their playing seemed just a little noisier than usual....

Theresa got up to find that Spike had entered the cottage yet again, and was having a great time romping around with his buddies Luca and Sambuca. The kittens were thrilled to play with Spike, and he didn't make too much of a mess this time. He was even thoughtful enough to use the cats' litter box to do his business. He had been litter trained as a tiny kit.

Of course, every time the raccoons came into the cottage, they were quickly shooed outside again. They can't remain too dependent on human contact. They need to learn to fend for themselves. They have been fed a lot, though. The hope is to get them fattened up so that they'll cope with the winter.

This friendly guy is Spike. As you can see, back in September, he'd eat out of my hand.. especially if it's his all-time favourite treat - marshmallows.

He's incredibly gentle and very affectionate. He would allow me to pet him while he'd eat, and one time he came around to the campfire, to sit with us briefly. He never once startled with the camera flash going off all the time. Isn't he beautiful?

A rare photo of Sugar and Spike together. That's Sugar hogging the bowl of cat food. Spike makes sure he gets a few handfuls now and then.

Nobody has been to the cottage for a couple of weeks now. Frank hopes to get up there for a day or two, just to retrieve a few things which we left up there last time, in hopes that we'd return soon. No doubt he'll leave a large bag of cat food out for Sugar and Spike. That will probably be the last human handout until next spring.

If there's anything new to report, I'll be sure to let you know. Until then, please wish those critters strength to get through the winter. I hope we'll have more raccoon tales for you in the spring.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Eyes Have It

On my recent walks around a few different areas, I began to find changes in the flowers which had been around for much of the summer - and like so many times since looking through the camera lens, I discovered things that I never knew before. Come along with me and I'll show you.

One day, while walking up near the cottage this unusual plant caught my eye. In fact it looked like it had literally caught an eye. I had to look this up to learn the name of this plant, which is White Baneberries or Doll's Eyes. Each of those little stems once held an "eyeball" but there was only this solitary one left by the time I saw it.

These are the seed pods from the Himalayan Balsam or Touch-me-nots which grows quite profusely in late summer and early autumn, all around Frank's place. Until recently, I thought they were a kind of Snapdragon, but they're not. Thank you, Google!

Seed pods of the Himalayan Balsam with a dew drop at the end of it.

If you take one between your fingers and gently squeeze it....

.. like this...

... the pod will pop with surprising force, and expose the seeds which will ensure next year's growth.

Spindle berries take all summer to form and acquire this brilliant pink colour. These will soon open up to reveal orange seeds on their underside. The pods and seeds will remain in full colour after the loss of leaves, through the autumn, and even into the snowy days of winter.

The soft, silky hair of the thistle plant.

Colourful sumac and asters brighten up the shoreline along the creek.

This pretty red and white plant is growing through the fence from my neighbour's yard. I have no idea what kind of plant it is. Does anyone know? Thanks very much to Maria who has identified this plant as Mina Lobata also known as Spanish Flag.

Thanks for joining me for another walk. As always, the company was fantastic!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Posts of the Week

Thank you to everyone who has received my version of David's Post of the Day with such kind enthusiasm. Your support means a lot to me.

What a great bunch of people there are out here in the blogosphere. Below are just a few of the very many.

This week's top post of the week was:
A Cappella written by DS at Third-Storey Window

Other wonderful posts in no particular order are:

Why a 20' Fence is a Very Good Thing by TSannie at Tombstone Chronicler

Temple Visit by Terrie at Kappa No He

Double Exposure by Gary Heller at Gary Heller Photography

Day Four of Fine Arithmetic by Imbeingheldhostage at In the Gutter

City by Jim at Suldog

Squirrels & Sand Maggie May at Nuts in May

Target Practice by Tom at A Pacific View

63 Kids by Sandy at Writing in Faith:Blog Your Blessings

Sunday in the Park by Daryl at Out & About in New York City

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta By Louise at Potted Frog

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 top posts in the comments section below, where others can see them. Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Wings and Other Things


I've always loved animals of (almost) all kinds and thought birds to be beautiful creatures, but until I got my camera a couple of years ago, I can't say that I've always noticed them the way I do now.

Sure, if one landed nearby, I'd acknowledge their unexpected company with a smile and a note to myself about how lovely it was, but I wouldn't have realized how really wonderful they are. How so many make eye contact. How they cluster in a particular berry-yielding tree. How some of them make that sound with their wings and not their voice.

They've taught me to walk slowly and softly in their presence, to wait and watch and follow their movements and to be grateful for their visit to my day, whether I manage to get a semi-decent photograph of one or not.

When Frank was busy looking down at some of the many salmon in the creek, I happened to notice this fine creature standing just across the water from us. He became skittish when he heard click of my camera... (please click to enlarge)

.. and flew off to a better spot where all of its inhabitants had fins and tails instead of arms and legs. (please click to enlarge)

A wander around my lake revealed three Cormorants perched on a log in the middle of the pond. Their eyes were fixed at some point straight ahead and above them, as if they expected fish to fly. (please click to enlarge)

Far less nervous than the heron, as soon as they heard the click of my camera, they all turned to glare at me. Sooorry! (please click to enlarge)

This timid little robin peeked out at me from the safety of a tree branch. (please click to enlarge)

Spotted from the car, I snapped this photo of this beauty just before it disappeared beyond the edge of view. The darker blue spot on the upper left is the windshield's shaded glass. (please click to enlarge)

... and other things.

On our recent trip up to the cottage, there were so many sights for which I would have loved to stop and take a few shots. But every time the car slows down, Benny starts his whimpering, whiny "Woe is me - we're in the car and I don't know where we're going. We're all gonna die!" routine, so we have to plan our stops to be as few as possible - like the grocery store, the liquor store and the place where Frank gets worms. Anything more than that and we'd have to kill Benny.

So I tried to take a few photos on the move.

This old barn looks like it's in need of a face lift - all tilted over to one side like that. I don't even think I'd realized that when I took the shot through my window. All I thought at the moment was "charming old barn.. click!" (please click to enlarge)

Likewise for this rusty old graffiti-covered train car. Hmmm, it too, looks like it's on a tilt. Could it be me? Maybe taking photos through the car window is not such a good idea. (please click to enlarge)

Back in July, Frank and I had lunch out at the marina near his place. On our way out, I noticed this sign on their outdoor bar. It made me laugh - not that I could ever relate to it. I mean really, who in the world could be cuter than Frank? (hic!) (please click to enlarge)

When visiting my sister a while back, she showed me her new electric bike. Rarely have I seen a bicycle so new and shiny, and it just demanded a photo. (please click to enlarge)

Frank's been doing some renovations at his house - some of which included a new back deck (shown in part in the last photo of the previous post). Since this deck is larger than the old one, some decorative stones had to be moved out of its way. I just liked the way they looked with a pitchfork laying on top of them. (please click to enlarge)

Benny usually gets walked twice a day - early morning and late afternoon or early evening - depending on the season. On the latter walk, there's a spot along the creek where we'll stop to look, listen and think for a moment or two. Benny is usually off sniffing around for the last bit of trouble he can find before heading home. At this time, the sun is setting behind us, creating long shadows everywhere. I took this photo of our own two shadows which stretched across the opposite shore while we said "Goodnight" the creek. (please click to enlarge)

Now it's time to head on back home. Thanks for joining me.