Jul 15, 2019

Milvine Monday

milvine ~ of, like or pertaining to kites and similar birds

Mary, Mary, quite contrary
How does your garden grow?

It’s growing very well, thank you very much. I may not have accomplished the writing I’d planned on doing last week, but I did get some work done on the gardens. Actually, I can’t take all of the credit. Hubby did a lot of work too.



These are green beans – that whole row at the front. And I was able to pick enough of them for the granddaughter to have with supper last night. Behind the beans, almost hidden, are cabbages and broccoli on the left and pumpkins on the right. There are only three pumpkin plants, but there are a lot of blooms on them. Good thing we like pumpkin pie. There are also a few pepper plants hidden in there – whether or not they survive is still anyone’s guess.



This garden plot is a bit of a mess. Starting at the back on the left, we have dill and brandywine tomatoes. Left front are the pea plants that are already producing, a hodge podge of carrots (not my fault! The rain washed the seeds around), and some cherry tomatoes on the right.

The pond garden is finally starting to come together.



I’m not going to tell you how much money we laid out for plants, but at least we were smart enough to spend it on shrubs and perennials. The shrubs went along the back fence, and the perennials went into the pond garden. Even back when we had the smaller pond garden the idea had been to have all permanent plants in there. Let’s face it, it’s a pain in the butt to have to plant annuals every year.

The Moai heads were our gifts to each other for our anniversary. We actually got them a while back. The hubby attached them to cement pads so the wildlife can’t knock them over.

I don’t know how much more ornamentation we’ll be getting for the garden, I think it looks pretty good the way it is now. And we’ll have to wait until next spring to see which plants survive. I suspect this will be an ongoing project.

Meanwhile, the garden needs a name. Something containing the phrase “pond of death” I think. So far we’ve (and by we I mean the hubby) fished out two dead birds, a dead mouse, and a dead chipmunk. The mouse and chipmunk I can understand – they could have slipped in while getting a drink and couldn’t get out again. But the birds? That just doesn’t make sense.

The garden of the pond of death. Hortus Mortis or Mors Stagna perhaps.

Jul 8, 2019

Malagma Monday

malagma ~ emollient plaster

Is it just me or are the birds super annoyingly loud this year?

The dawn chorus doesn’t start at dawn, it starts about a half hour before dawn and takes place right outside my bedroom window. Right now I’m listening to some bird – I can’t see it but I know what tree it’s hiding in – and it just won’t shut up.

There is a family of crows that seem to have taken a liking to the trees at the back of the yard. Or maybe the people that live on that property have been feeding them – I don’t know. That’s one of the pitfalls of a six foot high privacy fence, it makes it hard to be a nosy neighbour.

And as I was sitting at the dining room table having breakfast one morning (it looks out over our deck) I heard one of the most annoying birds making its noise and I looked out and there it sat on the deck railing. My first thought was, how can such a tiny bird make such a loud noise??

We also seem to have a much larger variety of birds than we used to. We’ve always had the robins, red winged blackbirds, grackles, and blue jays, maybe the odd cardinal, but this year I’ve seen orioles, goldfinches, grosbeaks, flickers, and a couple of wood peckers. Those aren’t the only ones I’ve seen, of course, but those are the only ones I could identify.

Maybe it’s time to put the feeder back up. The squirrel population was just starting to make a comeback after the coyotes moved on to better feeding grounds, but the foxes are back so the squirrels have thinned out again. In fact, I’ve been sitting here looking out the deck doors for the last hour and haven’t seen one squirrel – not even in the big trees behind the fence.

Go foxes go! The squirrels are the reason I took down my feeder in the first place. The little tree rats may seem cute at first, but they get very aggressive after they get used to you. I once posted a picture of the squirrel who kept climbing the screen of the deck door, looking for the peanuts I put out for the jays. I’ll take foxes any day!



Hmm. Come to think of it, I haven’t noticed any chipmunks or birds in the back yard either. Do they know something we don’t?

Jul 5, 2019

Fireworks For All!

Oops! I forgot it was Friday (it is Friday, right?) which means I also forgot to post a picture of the week. So seeing as we had both the Canadian and American fireworks holidays this week, I'll give you a couple of bonus pictures. It has nothing to do with the fact I 600 pictures of fireworks. Really. :-D






Jul 1, 2019

Mimosa Monday

mimosa ~ a mixed drink consisting of champagne and orange juice

Happy Canada Day to all my fellow Canadians who have the day off today! And to all my American friends – sucks to be you! You have to wait until next weekend for your holiday. LOL

Traditionally this is the true start of the summer, complete with sunscreen and swimming, parades and barbeques. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, our town hosts an annual arts and crafts fair we call the Waterfront Festival, which draws a large number of people to our small town, swelling the population and mucking up the traffic.

A great deal of the beach was still under water, but Thursday they brought in the heavy earth movers and cleaned up as best they could. I have not been down there yet, but I’m assuming they got the job done.

Not to be out done in the barbeque department, we had one on Saturday for some of the husband’s family that came down from Ottawa. It went very well, if I do say so myself. Everyone seemed to enjoy the food and there were no leftovers – be still my heart! Normally I overestimate the food.

The cousins all get along famously, especially the two little ones. Together with Grampy/Uncle Steve they christened the new pool. The granddaughter especially enjoyed the pool – she’s been dying to get in there since they took down the old one. And she’s absolutely fearless in the water – must be the Aquarius in her.

I don't know how well you can see it, but the grandbaby’s face matches the unikitty on her dress.



Now excuse me while I go sit on the deck with my feet up and have a mimosa.

Jun 28, 2019

The Face of Summer

This week's picture was actually taken with my phone. What can I say? Sometimes it's a little handier than my good camera.

Wednesday I took the granddaughter down to the beach after pre-school. It was a warm and sunny day, and there was still pools of stagnant water all over the beach. But fortunately, our waterfront boasts not one but two splash pad areas. The main one has a bunch of different splash areas and it was pretty crowded. So the granddaughter asked if we could go down to the other play area and I said sure. Smart kid - there was no one using the secondary splash pad.

As you can see, she had a blast!


Jun 21, 2019

Summer's Here . . . Sort Of

I actually had another depressing picture of our beach picked out, but then I realized today was the first day of summer. This called for something a little more summery.

The last time I was down at the waterfront I just happened to take a few pictures of the garden at the east end of the beach. Actually, what attracted me was the pink blossoms on the trees. I have no idea what kind of trees they are but they look pretty cool.

I picked this particular picture because it looks like a pretty little park garden. You have no idea what a mess the beach is just beyond it.


Jun 17, 2019

Mucid Monday

mucid ~ mouldy; musty

Oh the weather outside is frightful,
Closed windows are so delightful
The summer’s coming really slow
And it feels like it maybe might snow.

Seriously! It’s the middle of June – why am I not complaining about the heat and the humidity? I’m still wearing socks and shoes, and heavy jeans, and long sleeved shirts. And I’m wearing a jacket when I go out, at least in the morning.

The hubby has been wearing shorts and a tee-shirt (and freezing his butt off) while working outside, but I noticed my next door neighbor was wearing track pants and a sweat shirt while working in her garden yesterday morning. Usually at this time of year she's out there gardening in her bathing suit.

So far this month has been cold and wet and drizzly. The water has been epically high in Lake Ontario, although it was supposed to have peaked on the weekend. The beach is still mostly under water which begs the question, what’s going to happen to the Waterfront Festival?

Every year for the July 1st weekend our town throws a three day fair down along the waterfront – music, crafts, a midway . . . We get tons of out-of-towners come to help us celebrate Canada’s birthday.

One of the main attractions is our large, sandy beach. This is what the beach looked like yesterday morning:



Not very appealing, is it?

We have two weeks for the water to recede so we can reclaim our beach. It’s anyone’s guess if we’ll make it.

Jun 14, 2019

To Bee, or Not to Bee

I'm kind of cheating today. It's still pretty cold and miserable here, and we still don't have much of a beach. This picture was taken last year at the Ecology Garden on the West Beach.

I'm not sure how our local bees are faring in the cool, wet weather, but hopefully they're resilient little guys.


Jun 10, 2019

Monodont Monday

monodont ~ one-tusked

Technically, this is part two of last week’s post.

For those of you who missed it, a quick recap. We’ve had an above-ground pool for over 20 years and it needed to be replaced. Now that the hubby’s retired he didn’t just want a pool, he wanted a POOL. It might have been cheaper to go with an in-ground pool, but we aren’t able to do that because of the septic bed in the back yard.

When we bought this house, our neighbourhood was part of Hamilton Township, not the Town of Cobourg (which is why we had septic tanks instead of sanitary sewers). The first thing they did when they annexed us into the town is give us sanitary sewers (which we had to pay for) but we didn’t have to remove the septic tanks, just fill them up with approved filler and leave them in the ground. Had we removed it, we probably could have put in an in-ground pool, but that’s really, really expensive.

Anyway, when we put in the original pool the rules for such things were more relaxed. Fences only needed to be so high and they weren’t picky about what they’re made of. So we had a mixture of wooden, chainlink, and lattice (for the part at the front of the house to make it look pretty).





That ugly wooden fence had been there when we bought the house, but we added the chain link at the back when we got the first pool. There was chainlink and an ugly rail fence along the other side, but I didn’t think to get a picture of it before it was torn down. Nor did I get a picture of the lattice.

So that was the fencing we had. Now to tear it all down:





Notice the nice roll of chain link in the first picture. :-)

Now it was time to put up the new fence. We decided on wood for one side and the back. After the hubby put down the non-refundable deposit for the pool and arranged to have proper fencing put in (I think the chain link was only about 4 feet high and it needed to be 5), he went to the town for the permit.

Uh oh. Apparently the town’s website was out of date and the rules had changed. Fencing for pools now had to be 6 feet high for pools. Chain link had to be within a certain size of mesh, and the wooden fencing had to be made with vertical boards, not horizontal. If we wanted the decorative lattice on top, that had to be beyond the 6 foot mark.

It would have been so much cheaper to go with wooden fencing around the whole yard, but the neighbours on the west side have a huge vegetable garden and we didn’t want to block the morning sun from their garden. I’ll tell you this though, those neighbours better be planning to stay for a good long while because the posts for the chain link were driven down 3 feet and set in cement, so there’ll be no taking down that fence.



It was surprising how quickly the back fence went up. There are actually two guys working, one is behind the fence.



The hubby was careful taking down the old wooden fence because he was hoping to repurpose as many of the boards as possible into the new fence. However, once we saw how nice the back fence looked I couldn’t stand the thought of that beautiful wood getting covered with that ugly reddish brown stain so I talked him into going with all new wood for the side fence too.

They were done the back fence in a day. Then they were back the next day to sink the posts for the side fence and once the cement was dry framed it in so the hubby could do the rest himself.

This is a picture of the Bill the fence guy and the hubby working in the rain. Bill was only supposed to do the framing, but he stayed long enough to help the hubby with several sections, just to give him a head start and make sure he knew what he was doing.



And here are the finished fences:







And what happened to the wood the hubby saved? Never fear. There’s still the playhouse he promised the grandbaby he’d build her.

But that’ll be a post for another day. :-D

Jun 7, 2019

The Fog Comes On Little Cat Feet . . .

Fog
BY CARL SANDBURG

The fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.


Jun 3, 2019

Milliad Monday

milliad ~ millennium; period of a thousand years

Once upon a time we had a pool that looked like this:



It was a nice size pool, considering about the only one who ever used it was the hubby, but we had it for a long time and it needed replacing. It had to be at least 20 years old, and I think just about every part except the uprights have been replaced over the years.

And you know, the hubby’s retired now so he has a lot more time to spend in the pool during the summer, so why not get a bigger, better pool?

But first things first. First, the old pool had to go. This left us with a nicely rounded hole in the backyard. Then it rained and we had a shallow pond where the pool used to be.



The pool guy brought in a baby excavator to make the hole the right size for the new pool – the hubby decided to go for an oval instead of round one.



After getting the hole the right size and shape, the pool guys did a lot of this:



Apparently they’d never installed a pool like this before. But they finally adjusted the hole and tamped down the earth and started installing the braces and the track the sides would fit in. And then they did some more of this:



Next, the wall went up with a pad on the bottom:





Then the liner:



Then add water:



We could only put a couple of feet of water in it because we don’t have the proper fencing yet (next week’s post), and to save time we had it trucked in. It may be quicker to do it this way, but it’s a lot more expensive, so once the fence is up we’ll be using the garden hose like we did with the old pool.

At any rate, the pool is done (more or less). A two day job that only took a week and a half. :-)


May 31, 2019

Déjà vu Vu All Over Again

Remember a couple of years ago when the town suffered some pretty significant flooding and the water in Lake Ontario was so high the beach was under water?

Well guess what, it happened again.

Not the flooding, but the disappearing beach. Which seems kind of ironic considering the flooding that went on all around us, especially further up north in cottage country.

And of course I had to take a look for myself and record the view for posterity.


May 27, 2019

Mithridate Monday

mithridate ~ antidote to poison

Welcome to Canada, where you get wind, rain, sun, and snow – sometimes all in the same day.

It appears that we skipped over spring and went right from late winter to early summer. One day we were still getting frost warnings, the next we were running around without our coats on. The grass is green and the trees are leafing up nicely. And the first round of flowers – tulips, daffodils, and crocus – are already fading to make room for others.

Since my last post I’ve actually had the deck door open a few times. Haven’t quite got to the barefoot stage yet, but then my feet get cold easily.

I haven’t been able to take the granddaughter to play at the beach after preschool lately, not because of the rain, but because there isn’t any beach. I guess maybe it's because of the rain after all. Once again the water level of Lake Ontario is so high that it’s right up to the board walk at the local waterfront. It had started to recede a bit the morning I went down to see for myself, but I’m sure it won’t take much to flood it again.

The granddaughter and I were able to get all of our seedlings in the ground on Friday, and then Saturday they were pretty much flattened by a heavy rain. Fortunately they had some sun yesterday so they weren’t looking quite as bedraggled. But they only have today to make their comeback because it’s supposed to rain the rest of the week.

It's a learning experience, that's for sure. While I agree that some plants, like tomatoes, benefit from being started indoors, there are many that don't need the head start. Beans, for instance. They sprouted in just a couple of days and were about a foot high before we got them into the garden. I would have been better to plant the seeds directly to start with. And carrots - there's gotta be a trick to planting carrot seeds. The seeds I planted inside were just barely sprouting and fell apart when I tried to put them in the garden, so I ended up planting more seeds but they did not end up in even rows like I recall from my mother's garden.

For those of you who are interested, the seedlings that we planted were green beans, purple beans, peas, broccoli, cabbage, peppers, regular carrots, purple carrots, and dill. We also planted pumpkin seeds which didn’t sprout but I planted the pods anyway just in case. And my neighbour gave us about eight brandywine tomato seedlings, some sweet millions (which I think are cherry tomatoes), and some more pepper plants.

Even with all of that my garden looks a little sparse, but it’s just getting started. It’ll be interesting to see what it looks like in another couple of weeks.


May 24, 2019

Down on the Farm

The bad news is that I still haven't found another photography course to take. The good news is that I'm still taking pictures. :-D

This week I had the opportunity to go on a trip to the farm with the granddaughter's pre-school class. It's a small farm, but perfect for pre-schoolers to visit. There were piggies to feed, baby chicks to stroke, and eggs to carefully collect from the chickens. And many, many pictures to be taken.

I chose this particular shot because of the look on the calf's face. Could anything be cuter?


May 20, 2019

Megascopic Monday

megascopic visible to the naked eye

If you’re lucky enough to be living here in Canada, then chances are you have the day off today. All hail Queen Victoria!

Traditional, the 24th of May weekend is the long weekend set aside for planting gardens and opening cottages. Well, it sounds good in theory, but we’re still getting frost warnings and cottage country is pretty much under water.

I’m still having to wear a jacket, or at the very least a sweater, when I go outside for any length of time, and I’d better remember to check to make sure I have rubber boots to wear when I go on the trip to the farm with the granddaughter’s pre-school class on Wednesday.

The Orange Menace to the south can say whatever he likes about there being no such thing as global warming, but even he can’t deny there’s been a change in the climate. We’ve been subjected to some pretty extreme weather the last few years.

There’s been a rise in both the number and the ferocity of hurricanes, droughts resulting in wildfires, earthquakes, mudslides, sink holes, the list keeps growing. And there’s been a subtle, but relentless, shift in the seasons.

Several years ago I did a series on prophecies, and I remember while doing my research I came across an aboriginal prophecy about the earth having enough of what man was doing to it and retaliating with fire, flood, and wind. I wish I could better remember the details or at least what tribe it had been so I could try and find it again, but unfortunately I didn’t save any of that research. But it makes you think, doesn’t it?

In the meantime, the granddaughter and I got impatient waiting for spring, so we planted a tray of seeds in the house. Everything but the pumpkins sprouted in less time than I imagined, and actually they’re more than twice as high as they are in the picture. And yes, I made little toothpick flags to mark what exactly I planted.

Now all we have to do is wait for the weather to settle enough to plant them in the garden.

May 17, 2019

Fish Pond

Well, as per the way my luck goes, my photography class was cancelled. This was the second time I've tried to take this class through the local college and it will be the last. There are other people out there who can show me how to use my camera. So, until that happens you'll have to suffer along with the pictures I've already taken.

This particular picture was taken in one of the greenhouses in the Allen Gardens in Toronto last summer. There are several greenhouses joined together, each featuring an amazing variety of flowers. But the thing that stands out most in my memory was how insanely hot it was. Greenhouses tend to be a little on the warm side at the best of times. Exploring a series of greenhouses on the hottest day of the summer was killer. :-D


May 13, 2019

Madapollam Monday

madapollam ~ fine cotton cloth

One of the surest signs of spring is when the big white sign goes up on the lawn of Saint Peter’s Church announcing the annual book sale. It’s an event the daughter and I used to enjoy attending together.

Unfortunately, as is the way of things, the book sale has changed over the years. What started out as a fun local event where you could pick up a book or two for pennies has morphed into something . . . less enjoyable.

First of all, they’re no long accepting donations of magazines, which means they’re no longer offering them for sale. This is a shame because in my time I’ve picked up some really good ones – old National Geographics (yes, the same ones I had so much trouble getting rid of myself), and UNESCO Couriers, which is a magazine put out by the United Nations.

They used to group the books into categories like History, fiction, non-fiction, children’s, and sometimes you could find a real treasure amongst them. They’re still pretty good about separating them, but a few years ago they started a “Collector’s Corner” as well.

I don’t know who decides what books go onto this table, but if you like old books this is where you’d find them. With jacked up prices. What ticks me off is that all the books at the sale were donated, and while I can understand separating out books that might have some value, jacking up the prices of those books seems a little unreasonable. Especially considering many of these books end up unsold.

The buyers have changed a lot too. Instead of the friendly locals we’re getting more out of towners who are out to make a buck. There’s a lot more pushing and shoving and a lot less camaraderie. This year I was there right when the sale started and I found what I consider to be a few bargains, but I don’t think I’ll be going next year.

It’s the end of an era, folks.

St. Peter’s Booksale

I wait through winter dark
anticipating spring
I watch the ice recede,
leftover snow melting.
The days extend their length
the sun stays in the sky
the wind warms up the air
we bid the cold goodbye.
But for me the greatest sign
of spring is without fail
the lawn sign that proclaims
Saint Peter’s Book Sale.


May 10, 2019

Sunrise

Our town is nestled on the north shore of Lake Ontario. Which means it faces south. Which means getting a decent picture of the sunrise or sunset is pretty problematic.

The good news is, my photography course starts next week. In the meantime, I chose this picture of the sunrise on this rainy Friday morning to remind myself that the sun does really appear occasionally. Maybe it'll come out tomorrow. ;-)


May 6, 2019

Montane Monday

montane ~ mountainous; mountain-dwelling

One of the hardest things a pet owner has to face is having to make the decision to let your beloved pet go. This is a decision we were working up to over the last several months with our 19 year old cat Taz.

Just before Christmas we noticed Taz was having difficulty walking, so we whisked him off to the vet. One x-ray and blood test later it was determined that he had a pinched nerve in his back and advanced kidney disease. We came home with special food, painkillers, steroids, and kidney medicine for him, all of which I had to administer on a daily basis.

He did better for a while, and we hoped he’d last until the weather turned nice enough that we could take him outside one last time – his favourite thing in the world. Alas, the weather stayed cold and wet and it was not to be.

Taz started a downhill slide, and rather quickly too. We wrestled with the decision to end his suffering and last weekend we agreed it was time. He’d stopped eating and was barely able to make it out of his box to have a drink of water. There is a mobile vet in our area, but she wouldn’t be available until Monday, so we made him as comfortable as possible.

Sunday night, the daughter and the granddaughter said their goodbyes when they were here for dinner. And just as I was headed for bed, he managed to drag himself as far as the door to his room. I brought him a drink of water, and then I broke open one of his pain pills (they were capsules) and mixed the powder with some broth so I could give it to him with a syringe. Then I wrapped him in a towel and we had a nice cuddle for a while. I had the feeling in my heart that this was good bye.

When I got up last Monday morning I found that I was right – he left this world the same way he lived his life – on his own terms. I’ll never forget the fearless little kitten he started out as, and I’ll miss him terribly, but I’m glad his suffering is over.

I’m sure his beloved Panda was waiting on the other side of the Rainbow Bridge to greet him, along with Julius and Valentine. Rest In Peace, Taz.

May 24, 2000 - April 29, 2019

Apr 26, 2019

These Boots Are Made For Planting

Well, it's a done deed. I signed up for my photography class. And not a moment too soon.

I took the grandbaby down to the beach after preschool yesterday, and I brought my good camera with me in case a picture taking opportunity arose. And it did. Several opportunities arose as a matter of fact. And how many pictures ended up on my camera?

None.

Not a one.

And why is that (you ask)? Because it's been so long since I used my camera that I forgot how it works. I was pressing the wrong button and couldn't figure out why it wasn't taking pictures. Can we say d'oh?

I did finally figure out what I was doing wrong, but it was after we'd left the beach and the grandbaby was down for her nap. And boy did I feel foolish!

So once again I was forced into delving into my store of previously taken pictures for my picture of the week. This one was taken last summer at the local ecology garden down by the harbor. What a cute idea for recycling!


Apr 22, 2019

Mantelletta Monday



mantelletta ~ knee-length sleeveless garment worn by Catholic cardinals and bishops

Yeah, I know it’s pretty much over now, but Happy Easter, for those of you who observe these things.

I have a question. When did Easter become Christmas light? The stores were crazy enough on Thursday, but only a fool would take the chance of shopping on Saturday (Friday being a stores closed holiday) – and I should know being one of those fools.

The amount of merchandise going through those checkouts was kind of appalling. And I’m not just talking chocolate and candy, I’m talking clothes and books and toys and bicycles and other assorted sports equipment. It was a gluttonous feast of excess.

When I was a kid we used to make a pilgrimage to my aunt and uncle’s house for the Easter weekend. There would be a big, hollow chocolate bunny or rooster sitting in our Easter baskets on the dining room table, and chocolate eggs (sometimes jelly beans) to find. My aunt, who at one time worked as a milliner, would have made us hats to wear to church.

When my daughter was little, we still went up to Owen Sound (my aunt had the best house for Easter egg hunts!) We hid jelly beans in plastic eggs because she didn’t like chocolate. I’d get a white rabbit for her Easter basket and I made her a fancy dress for church. Many years later I still bought chocolate for Easter, and we’d get a movie instead of an outfit.

This year I figured the grandbaby would get enough chocolate at her house, but I still couldn’t resist getting her four Disney princess kinder eggs, and one giant one. I nestled them in a basket with a new outfit she can wear to school. The rest of us got a small chocolate bunny and a regular kinder egg.

And you know what? She was quite happy with what she got. There was a little more chocolate than was strictly necessary, and yes, like many other kids she got a bike, but the bike she got wasn’t an Easter present so much as a springtime present that was bought on Easter weekend (when the bikes were on sale).

But seriously, when did Easter become such an occasion for excess? Jesus died on the cross for our sins, let’s celebrate by drowning ourselves in chocolate and a bunch of other crap we don’t need. I’m not a religious person, but I kind of miss dressing up and going to church on Easter.

Maybe I’ll go next year. Wanna come?

Apr 12, 2019

Sweet Pea

Today's picture of the week is one I took last year on a visit to the local ecology garden. I picked it because the sweet pea is my favorite flower. Ironically, it's the one flower I've never had success with in my garden.

A couple of years ago I planted sweet pea seeds and nothing happened. But the next year I had plants spring up that took right over the small garden . . . and never bloomed. They did, however, start choking out the bedding plants I'd painstakingly planted. And boy howdy they were hard to get rid of. All attempts to pull the vines up failed. I think the roots went right down to the center of the earth. So I love sweet peas . . . as long as someone else grows them for me.


Apr 5, 2019

Picture This

Photography is something I was pretty serious about at one time. When I was in high school I was a member of the photo club, where I learned how to develop black and white film, I subscribed to a photography magazine, and dreamed of some day owning a Canon SLR camera. I was going to be a photo journalist and work for National Geographic.

It’s pretty obvious that neither the dream of the camera nor the dream of the career ever came to pass. I’ve owned many cameras over the years, none of which were my dream camera. I came close once with one of the early digital Canon cameras, but it wasn’t an SLR.

About a year ago when we thought we were going on an Alaskan cruise, I treated myself to a brand new camera – a Canon Rebel DSLR. I finally had my dream camera. There was only one problem though –I didn’t know how to make it work.

Laugh if you will, but my first few days with my new camera were very frustrating. The instructions that came with it might as well have been written in Chinese for all I could understand them. I got it to take one picture, but couldn’t get it to take a second one.

Fortunately, the daughter is a real photography and showed me some basics. But she already has a lot on her plate with little enough free time as it is, and I have a lot to learn. So I’m going to take a night school course in photography and hopefully have some fun while I’m learning.

I’m sure the course will include lots of practice – with a digital camera at my disposal, why not? A friend and I just finished a 52 week challenge using only pictures from our phone (if you’re curious you can find the results HERE) and I figured it might be kind of fun to share some of the photos I’ll be taking with my camera as well.

The course doesn’t start until May, so in the meantime I’ll be sharing random pictures from my camera every Friday. After the course starts I’ll post the best picture from each week’s lesson.

To start the ball rolling I have a picture of the lakeshore near where I live. It was taken in September last year. If you'd like to see a bigger version of it, just click on it.

Apr 1, 2019

Midlenting Monday

midlenting ~ custom of giving gifts to parents on mid-Lent Sunday



So . . . I was wrong about not having the opportunity to wear the winter jacket I talked about in my last post. I got to wear it when I went out for coffee Sunday morning. And why was that? Because after a week of spring-like weather I woke up to snow yesterday. SNOW!

I was not a happy camper.

However, this is Canada and the weather is nothing if not unpredictable, especially this time of year. Years ago it was pretty common to have snow right through the March Break and I can remember one year we had a record breaking storm on April second.

But take heart! I was down at the waterfront recently and as you can see by the picture I took, the ice and snow are receding. Those aren’t hunks of rock on the breakwater, that’s just really dirty ice/snow accumulation that’s melting away. At least now they have a thin coat of white on top to pretty things up.

Last week I did something I haven’t done in ages – I went to a poetry gathering. Members of the Cobourg Poetry Workshop, both old and new, got together to honour Eric Winter, Cobourg’s Poet Emeritus and the man who started the workshop many years ago. We started out taking turns reading poems written by Eric, then some members shared poems they’d written about Eric.

I had a great time and I realized how much I’d missed these once a month gatherings. This could be in part because the two more, shall we say, contentious members who tried to turn the group into something it’s not are no longer part of the group.

Anyway, it was enough to make me think about signing up again. Maybe even attend the poetry reading this month. Maybe write a poem or two of my own.

Maybe you’ll even find me upstairs at the Cat and the Fiddle for the next meeting.

Mar 25, 2019

Metasthenic Monday



metasthenic ~ having strong haunches or hindquarters

The wheel turns and the seasons change. It’s still not all that warm, and the wind is particularly bitter, but the sun has been out more often than not lately and the oppressive gloom of winter is slowly lifting.

My big accomplishment for the weekend was getting a new zipper sewn into my black winter jacket. You know, just in time for the weather to warm up enough so I won’t get a chance to wear it.

This jacket was a thrift store find and I only got to wear it a few times before the metal zipper in it kept sticking and/or separating when it wasn’t supposed to. I actually paid more for the replacement zipper than I did for the jacket itself, but I really like the jacket so I figured it was worth it.

That feeling lasted until I actually sat down to put the new zipper in. Ripping out the old zipper was no problem, but my sewing machine did not like the thread I was using (it kept breaking) nor sewing through the leather. It pretended to like it, the new zipper just slid into place and I had no problem sewing initially, but several sections of the stitching didn’t catch so there were big gaps.

I adjusted the tension and the thread started breaking. I changed to a different kind of thread and it broke too. Then the needle started hesitating – sometimes it would stick in the material and pull the whole thing upwards. The cats went into hiding.

I finally broke down and went out and bought some upholstery thread (maybe it was a little overkill but I wanted a good, strong thread) and some leather needles. It should have been easy-peasy. It was not. The thread still broke. I adjusted the tension again. The heavy duty sewing machine needle bent. I replaced it. The hubby suggested I just take the jacket to the tailor in the mall – he’s lucky to have escaped with his life.

I took a break to get my blood pressure back to normal and then gave it one more shot. One long seam without stopping like it should have done in the first place and the first half of the zipper was in place. The second side only took a couple of tries, which was kind of surprising because it was the harder of the two.

I have another thrift store jacket in the closet, a nice medium blue ski jacket, that also needs a zipper replaced. Actually, the zipper itself is fine, it’s just the little piece at the bottom that keeps the whole thing from separating that needs replacing. I may look into alternative fixes before resorting to replacing the whole zipper.

It might be better for my blood pressure.

Mar 18, 2019

Monoliteral Monday

monoliteral ~ comprising only one letter



I survived March Break! Woohoo! And kudos to adults everywhere who also survived.

My sister dropped my great-niece off on Tuesday, and I took her home on Saturday. You’ll have to ask her whether it was a good visit or not – she certainly wasn’t any trouble. She’s not messy and she hardly eats, unless she had a stash of food in her room (like I did when I went to the retreat). She lasted all the way to Tuesday evening before caving and asking for the wifi password. LOL

I felt kind of bad that we didn’t really get out to do anything, having to babysit every day kind of limits what we can do. Although we did go for a trip to the sugar bush with the family of one of the granddaughter's friends.

The sugar bush, for those not born and bred Canadian, is like a big tree farm, where the trees are all maple and at this time of year get tapped with a metal spigot so the sap can be collected and turned into maple syrup, taffy, and or maple candy. Yum!

Sandy Flats, the sugar bush we went to, is about 160 acres. We went on a hay ride through the property and saw all the trees with their taps in place, we went on a nature hike where we saw many animal tracks including, my granddaughter insisted, werewolf tracks, and we got to peek into the shed where the sap was turned into syrup.

Before we left we lunched on pancakes and sausages, with lots of syrup of course. We had a great time and I may have spent a little too much money on syrup and maple butter to bring home with me.

The processing was a little more modern than I remember from when I was a kid, but the rest was pretty much the same. A trip to the sugar bush was one of the typical school trips for elementary school and not only do I remember the trip, I remember being grossed out by one of my classmates who had a peanut butter and dill pickle sandwich for lunch. :-)

The granddaughter starts kindergarten this fall – I wonder if she’ll get to go to the sugar bush on a school trip next spring . . .

Mar 11, 2019

Mutualism Monday

mutualism ~ belief in mutual dependence of society and the individual



It’s the March Break. For kids it’s a whole week of freedom from school. For parents it’s a chilling preview of what summer vacation is going to be like. LOL

But even if you don’t have kids you can’t help but be affected by March Break. There are hoards of them everywhere. Need to drive somewhere? Watch out for the swarms of children who’ve decided that yes, they really can ride their bikes in the melting snow. Want a quiet walk in the park? Not likely. Planning a trip to Costco and looking forward to the free samples? Go early, before the March Breakers descend on the store like a plague of locusts. There are kids everywhere

When I was a kid, I used to spend the March Break up in Owen Sound with my aunt and uncle. I honestly can’t remember being driven all the way there, but I’m pretty sure my parents drove me part way and then my aunt and uncle would meet us at a pre-determined place and I’d be handed off like a football.

When I was older, early teens, I would take the bus from here to Toronto and my uncle would meet me and we’d go to the Sportsman Show before continuing on to Owen Sound. I loved looking at the boats and watching the fly fishing demonstrations and the sporting dogs being put through their paces.

There was one particular March Break that stands out in my mind . . .

I was probably 13 or 14 years old. It was raining when I boarded the bus at home and I was dressed appropriately for the weather. I met my uncle in Toronto and we spent the next 5 hours at the Sportsman Show. Now the event took place in one of the big buildings where the Canadian National Exhibition is held, which means it was a closed in space with no windows to see what was going on outside.

What was going on was the biggest snow storm of the season. We missed the express bus we were supposed to take, and ended up on the one that stopped at every little village and town along the way. Which turned out to be a good thing because we heard later that the express bus had been involved in an accident.

By the time we got to Owen Sound, the snow was so heavy that the ploughs had given up trying to keep up with it and were concentrating on keeping just the main roads open. My uncle’s car at the bus station was literally buried under a hill of snow so we ended up hitch hiking to his house, catching a ride in a TV repair van.

After all of that, the rest of the visit was pretty anti-climatic although I do remember my aunt had turned on the electric blanket on my bed so it was all nice and warm. :-)

This March Break I have a niece coming from Hamilton to visit. She’s older than I was when I went visiting, so I’m pretty sure we won’t be doing the crafts my aunt always had waiting for me. But I think it’ll be a good visit all the same.

Mar 4, 2019

Maledicent Monday

maledicent ~ cursing; addicted to speaking evil



Well, I made it home again from my retreat, but it was a near thing. There was a tiny bit of snow on the drive up; day two it rained; day three there was extreme wind (with the chance of us losing power; and day four we had snow added to the wind. One of the major highways was closed both ways due to accidents, but fortunately it was not the route I’d planned on taking. However, driving conditions were abysmal on the route I did take and I only narrowly missed getting caught up in delays by two other accidents along the way.

Obviously I made it home, but it was not without a price. The sinus cold I’d been fighting off before the retreat got its hooks in my head and chest and turned into the mother of all colds/flus. This kind of sent all my determination and good intentions packing last week and other than popping cold pills and babysitting (granddaughter also had a major cold so we were quite the pair) I didn’t do much of anything.

Did you know the only difference between a cold and the flu is that the flu comes with a fever? All this years I thought the flu was a stomach virus, but apparently a stomach virus is just that, not the flu. Someone forgot to send me a memo when that changed. Just like I never got the memo that instead of coughing/sneezing into your hand you’re supposed to sneeze into the crook of your elbow. Just suddenly one day everyone was doing it that way and I’m like, “what are you doing?”

The retreat itself was a lot of fun and I got a lot of writing done, although mostly short stuff from the workshop prompts. There were 15 of us in a big old manor house that overlooked Lake Simcoe. It was kind of interesting watching the frozen lake fill up with ice fisherman during the day, and then the lights from the snow mobiles when night started to fall.

The house is owned and administered to by a group of nuns, which accounted for its well stocked library of religious tomes and the insanely narrow, hard beds we had to sleep on. Being a house, not a hotel, we had to provide our own food and we were divided into groups to make lunches and suppers. There were a handful of food sensitivities in the group, and one vegetarian, and only one meal that had meat – a lunch that consisted of soup and sandwich fixings. You should have seen how fast that meat disappeared!

It was a good group – from a young screen writer to a research doctor writing her memoir. There were a couple of others writing life-based stories, a couple writing non-fiction, a few writing fiction, and the rest just writing.

All in all, I’d do it again. Maybe not in winter though. And next time I definitely want a room of my own. :-)