Thursday, April 29, 2010

Through the Glass

Yesterday's post showed a closeup of this recycling bin which sits on the platform at Toronto's Union Station. It was shot through the window of the GO Train which took me to visit Frank a couple of weeks ago. A few of you suggested that it was a trash bin and a couple of you got the precise answer. Tabor was the first one to guess that it was a recycle bin. Thanks for playing along.

I guess the bags had just been changed. Toronto can't possibly always look this neat.

Also shot through the window was this view of the St Lawrence Market. I had to be quick since the train was on the move.

Once I met up with Frank, we drove up to Orillia together. Wandering around town brought us to a craft shop. These colourful beads in glass bottles caught my eye.

Further along the main street, this unusual table setting in a store window beckoned to be photographed. It was a promotion for a murder mystery dinner theatre.

Back at Frank's place, this red-winged blackbird sat on a branch of his magnolia tree and sang to us through the closed window. Photography is never all that sharp through glass.

Case in point - this blurry little chickadee on my own back yard tree one rainy morning. She had collected a sunflower seed from the ground beneath the feeder and was about to set to work cracking it open...

By striking it repeatedly on the branch. They're such clever and agile little things.

Now this is the only photo on this page which wasn't taken through glass but they're the reason why the next photo was...

Flower-stomping, bud-biting, grass-ripping, lawn-digging, blind-wrecking little brat! Can you tell how much he wanted to be back outside?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Mystery Object and Posts of the Week

I thought I'd add an extra element to this week's POTW. A "mystery object" photo.

Please look at the image below. It's a close up view of part of a larger object which I saw on my way to Frank's one day. Do your best to guess what it is in the comments section. I'll publish the full image, along with other photos in tomorrow's post. Thanks for playing along!

So what do you think it is?

* * *

Without further delay, here are this week's Posts of the Week:

The icon 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. I've decided to start mixing up the colours each week. Take whichever one appeals to you.

This week's top post goes to:

at TechnoBabe's Adventures

Other wonderful posts in no particular order are:

The Art of Zen
by Pauline
at Writing Down the Words

Messages from Within
by Bonnie
at Original Art Studio

I Felt the Earth Move
by Debbie
at Suburb Sanity

Muskrat and Teacher
by Sandy
at Writing in Faith

And Suddenly.. It Was Summer
by EthelMae Potter
at The Adventures of Fred and Ethel

We Carry On
by Deb
at Talk at the Table

by TSannie
at The Tombstone Chronicler

Noisy Guy
by Tom
at A Pacific View

The Little Things
by Kerri
at A Little Piece of Me

by Brian
at Waystation One

A Step Back in Time
by Country Girl
at Chronicles of a Country Girl

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, April 25, 2010

Pints and Half Pints

This post is also something of a repeat from almost three years ago edited to include new information. I'm fairly certain that most of you haven't read it since it was early blogging days for me.

Over the years, our street has seen its share of difficult and unusual neighbours.
Like most residential areas, we've had the codger who has called the police over urgent issues such as kids playing basketball or street hockey. We've seen those who literally could not mend fences due to opposing tastes. There used to be people next door to me who played their music so loudly that the mirror on the connecting wall would vibrate - at four in the morning. We still have one post-middle-aged male who has spent most of his summers walking or biking around, dressed in nothing more than a Speedo. And yes, it looks as ridiculous as it sounds.

Ours is a very transient area and most of our colourful characters have moved on, but a couple of my current neighbours have caused me some consternation. Here is what I wrote about once such neighbour two and a half years ago:

One of my neighbours gives me pause for concern. Don't get me wrong - he has a very lovable personality. With his engaging smile and flirty eye contact, he has endeared himself to the women, and even the men on our street. Although new to the area, he has become a welcomed part of our
regular get-togethers, but during these events it has come to my attention that he clearly has a serious drinking habit.

Despite his obvious charm, he can be loud, demanding, and at times has been known to show a significant temper. The young couple with whom he resides seem to be unconcerned with his frequent liquid dinners, lunches and even breakfasts. Like the rest of us, they have become quite enchanted with him and so they turn a bit of a blind eye.

We all pretend not to notice when he lets out a loud belch or fart, and we're all too polite to complain about how he sometimes eases his way through the women in the crowd, in hopes that he can land a subtle grope at a nearby breast. We don't really mind. We all know that he'll soon imbibe his next fix and pass out shortly afterward - a trickle of drool running down his face. All too frequently, he's been carried home and put to bed in just that state.
In spite of my concerns, I have big hopes that our neighbour will cut back on his excessive drinking one day. Right now he appears oblivious to anything edible that is spread out before him when we congregate for barbecues and planned parties, but I believe that our charismatic friend will eventually come around.

Another newer neighbour who has moved onto our street since my original post, usually comes across as really friendly and loving. She has an engaging smile and never has a bad word to say about anyone. She's smart, beautiful and always seems to be learning something of importance from the world around her. And yet sometimes, for no apparent reason, she'll look you straight in the eye and then do something incredibly rude - she'll stick out her tongue. What else can one do but laugh at her? Sometimes she'll stop and smile. Most often, she'll keep on wagging that protuberance at you. Once, she unexpectedly burst into tears. She's an odd but lovable person, so I'm willing to endure her rudeness from time to time.

Both of these neighbours are different than most of the adults on our street. They're unusual but quite lovable regardless of their behaviour. It just so happens that they're siblings. Just look at their lovely faces and tell me if you wouldn't be willing to forgive their anti-social ways...

Here's Winston, who is now 2 and a half. You may recall him from last autumn's leaf-throwing activity with Benny.

He was at the pint of no return.

And this tongue sticker-outer is Lilianna, his adorable baby sister.

Liliana Elizabeth and Winston Ripley (believe it or not) both belong to our neighbours Erin and Ron

Try not to be too offended

That thing's gotta dry up eventually

Don't forget to get a good look at it from the side.

Maybe she's had enough of this game.

How could you not forgive this face?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Dragonfly Wings Revisited

I originally posted this two years ago. Due to time restraints and other projects calling, I'm going to tell this story again. It will be new to most of you but familiar to some. I hope you enjoy it.
We spent a few days up at Frank's family cottage.The weather wasn't terribly cooperative, offering just a few moments of sunshine here and there over the course of the week. We didn't have access to a boat so we were pretty much cottage and dock-bound for our full stay. That was just fine with us.

The overcast days didn't lend themselves to photographing colourful vistas, and since dawn occurs so early at this time of year, I wasn't anxious to get out of my cozy bed to attempt to capture the non-existent sunrise. What was left to photograph?

Last June, when we arrived at the lake, we were greeted by dozens of dragonflies which zigged and zagged their way around our heads, kindly reducing the mosquito population for us. This year, we might have arrived a week before that schedule. There were a few here and there, but it seemed that many of the dragonflies we saw were not in flight.

This is the empty skin of a nymph. In previous summers, mature dragonflies dropped their eggs into the lake where they grew and developed into nymphs. They stayed underwater from one to a few years, eating, growing and maturing until they were ready to climb out of the water and begin the process of becoming a dragonfly.

Here is a healthy dragonfly which has just emerged from its abandoned skin.

This one is resting on the dock while its wings unfold and dry off over the next hour or two. Isn't that a brilliant green on its back?

This beauty recently emerged from its nymph state, and appears as if it is almost ready to fly. Its wings are still too wet to separate. See the water droplet suspended from its tip? It took a little over an hour until it flew off in search of food.

Here we have a sick or perhaps injured dragonfly. We didn't realize it at the time, but it soon became apparent that it was not recovering from its ordeal as it should. Its body was dry, but its wings remained stuck together, and we could see the droplets of water captured between them. Unlike others which we had observed, this one didn't appear to be able to separate and spread its wings. We wondered if they had not formed properly. Perhaps they were somehow fused together. Late in the day, this dragonfly had not progressed at all. Frank wondered if his fish filleting knife might have a thin and sharp enough blade to help separate the wings.

It seemed to help. With such a skilled touch, he should have been a surgeon.

A short while later its wings were open for the first time.

Climbing the rope a few hours later, it appeared to be just as unable to spread its wings as before the "surgery." We placed it so it would be more sheltered from impending rain and predators. In the morning it was in worse shape than before.

It seemed fairly obvious to us that it wasn't going to make it, so we figured that the best we could do for it was relocate it in a more natural setting and allow it to die a dignified dragonfly death. It clung to my finger allowing for an easy transport.

I zoomed in for a closer look.

We gently placed it on the end of a cut branch where it remained for the rest of the day.

It was unable to capture its own food, so we made a clumsy offering of a recently-swatted mosquito. You can see it over on the right side of the branch if you enlarge the photo. Shortly afterwards, the mosquito was gone and the dragonfly remained.

Later in the day, we learned that our dragonfly friend still had some fight left in it, when its safety was threatened by a determined caterpillar.

I learned that I could take a video while my camera was on the macro setting. Watch as our dragonfly friend displays its survival instinct as it fights off the caterpillar.

It won that fight, but we're not so sure it survived the night. In the morning, it was nowhere to be seen. It may have become a bird's meal. Had we checked more thoroughly, we may have found it lying somewhere below its previous perch. Or perhaps it gained some strength overnight, managed to spread its wings and fly. Neither of us really believe that but we'd like to.

In a few days I'll post some more photos. There probably won't be a dragonfly among them.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Posts of the Week

The icon 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. I've decided to start mixing up the colours each week. Take whichever one appeals to you.

This week's top post goes to:

Picky Fwadoos
by Pauline
at Writing Down the Words

Other wonderful posts in no particular order are:

Live Like You Were Dying

by June

at Aging Gratefully

My Hero

by Hilary

at Crazy as a Loom

Offering Prayer

by Samson

at Sammy's Photoblog

by Clowncar
at The Oort Cloud

Food for the Soul
by TechnoBabe
at TechnoBabe's Adventures

Uninvited Shipmates
by Tabor
at Room Without Walls

Topsail = Heaven

by Sandy

at Writing in Faith

Readers' Choice:

Recommended by Joanna

Hey! The People Look Like Ants From Up Here
by Pearl
at Pearl, Why You Little...

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, April 18, 2010

Spring Bling

“And the day came when the risk to remain in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to bloom.” ~ Anais Nin

“Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May.” ~ William Shakespeare

“Thought is the blossom; language the bud; action the fruit behind it” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Let a thousand flowers bloom and we'll see what flourishes.” ~ Clara Hemphill

“Here and there you'd see a tree that was budding or grass trying to grow. There was hope.” ~ Carolyn Hunter

"It is not only fine feathers that make fine birds." ~ Aesop

"A bird does not sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song." ~ Chinese Proverb

"Use the talents you possess - for the woods would be a very silent place if no birds sang except for the best." ~ Henry Van Dyke

"When I see a bird that walks like a duck and swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, I call that bird a duck." ~ Richard C. Cushing

"To listen is an effort, and just to hear is no merit. A duck hears also." ~ Igor Stravinsky

"Be like a duck. Calm on the surface, but always paddling like the dickens underneath." ~ Michael Caine

"If you keep your feathers well oiled the water of criticism will run off as from a duck's back."
~ Ellen Henrietta Swallow Richards

Thursday, April 15, 2010


Some of you already know my bloggie pal Jinksy of Napple Notes. If you do, then you also know she's a clever lady with a delicious sense of humour and fine poetry skills. Jinksy is my favourite kind of poet - sometimes serious - oftentimes silly. Occasionally she'll turn her comments section over to her readers challenging them to a poetic response, which is what prompted me to offer her a challenge of my own.

I often search the web for interesting quotes to accompany my photos. Sometimes I select a snippet of a song, a line from a movie or something from a book. More often than not, a bit of poetry exists which will often express the mood of my images. It's satisfying to find the right ones, but it's also very time consuming.

Enter Jinsky.

The other day, I dropped my poetic friend an email asking her if she might be inspired to write a few lines for each of the photos you'll see below. Jinsky rose to the occasion and quickly shot back with her wonderfully crafted verse and haiku which are paired with the matching images for which they were written. I hope you enjoy them, and if you do, please be sure to drop over to Jinsky's blog and let her know. I bet you'll find yourself returning there often.

This lovely gull circled around me a few times before I was able to get him into focus. Though he was still fairly distant, it looks like I just had time to take the photo and duck out of his way - thanks to my zoomy lens.

the camera's eye
freeze-framed the quizzical glance
of the gliding gull

This little pocket of the lake collects the strangest things. Last time, it was a fishing float and an apple. This time it looks like breakfast was on the menu - Cocoa Puffs, a solitary Honeycomb and what appears to be a mushroom cap.

cereal puff balls
float in a nightmare landscape
of water logged dream

This is last year's Autumn Joy which will be cut back before new growth appears. When it begins to bloom in mid-summer, it looks a bit like broccoli. Then as the mini blossoms open, it changes from green to soft pink to rusty red.

Ghostly echoes of the past
haunt the dried flower heads
as they dream of youth flown
and wait patiently for rebirth.

Walking down the street, in the town of Lindsay in southern Ontario, we saw this cute pooch watching every car and person which passed beneath his window.

It's a dog's life standing still,
poised like a statue on the sill,
watching clouds go passing by
with never once the chance to fly
on scudding paws along the street,
free, excited, swift and fleet.
What dreams go racing through his head
at night, inside his doggy bed?

We spent the night in Lindsay. These three stones decorated the table in our motel room.

Three polished stones encircled by lace
each with a word carve on its face-
Truth for the seeking,
Faith in the finding,
and Wisdom to grant overall grace.

Back at home, I was trying to photograph a bird which sat atop a higher branch. The winged critter was out of my focal range but the camera decided that these woolen mittens were an unusual find - about ten feet above me.

green pine-needle spray
disguises identity
of two brown mittens

On the first warm day of spring, all sorts of wheels hit the pavement - bicycles, motorcycles, roller blade and skateboards. This board was abandoned hastily by my young neighbour. I suspect he had to pee.

Bright painted shapes protest at their sudden view
of a world tip tilted and stationary,
as the discarded board's metal wheels vibrate
with the hum of remembered movement.

Then again, that might have been me who had to pee... after finishing this yummy martini made with passion fruit, lemonade, pineapple and vodka.

on a glass surface
painted dragon fly hovers

Newly-sprouting willow boughs against the backdrop of the setting sun.

willow branches bow
to greet golden, glow-worm spheres
of lighted windows

Thanks for joining Jinsky and me on our little joint adventure. If you enjoyed our post, please stop by her blog and let her know.

I'll be back in a few days.