Thursday, January 26, 2006

the loggers

Tasha, checking out where Misty disappeared behind the stack of logs.

See why it's so difficult to get ANY pictures of Misty when we are outdoors?

The loggers are very busy. The woods have been incredibly thinned. They don't seem to be done yet, but already, as the larger trees have been taken, the woods seem to be full of more light. Afterall, although the sun is still low on the horizon and the shadows are long even at midday, the smaller saplings don't cast as dark a shadow, do they?

I have mixed feelings about all the logging. I'm very glad they are merely thinning the woods, rather than clear cutting, but in some spots, the woods seem devastated. I see evidence of machinery everywhere. They did have the horses in there for a while, but I haven't seen them lately. And I had hoped, that near the edges of the woods and along the laneway, a buffer of larger trees might have been left in place. Ah, well, it's not my place, is it?

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

wild turkey adventure

Today, about 40-odd wild turkeys spent the afternoon criss-crossing the cornfield to the south of our house. I was quite frustrated in trying to photograph them. These few shots are the best I could get.

When the dogs and I set out for our afternoon walk, Misty took off like a shot after the turkeys. Several of them took to the air. I was amazed to see them fly. Most of them ran rather quickly off in different directions. Misty never even got close. Nor did I with my camera! (Misty the mighty hunter is, right this minute, curled up most comfortably in amongst the softest pillows on my bed, legs twitching as she dreams catching-turkey-dreams!)

that black dot to the right of mid-picture is Misty sprinting after the turkeys

Here's the tease of the turkey footprints everywhere between the corn stubble.

And more footprints on the turkey highway through the woods!

Molly, coming back from a peek (sniff, actually) down the turkey-highway through the woods.
Most of the tracks in this photo are of a dozen or so turkeys. Misty led the way as she usually does, and the other two caught her excitement and followed. The other two stay pretty close to me as I walk along, usually returning pretty promtly when I call them back to me. Misty makes wide circles around the general area of the path I take, pretending to be too busy sprinting off after all the wonderful scents to walk close to me. She really thinks she is the leader, you see. When she sniffs out something good and starts her excited yipping, I'm sure she thinks I'm an incredibly dumb dog for not coming to help her capture whatever it is...After all, the other two dogs get so excited and run off towards her barking to see what she's got! I'm sure, to her, I'm the most useless dog she's ever seen! As she runs past me in one direction or another, she is probably thinking: yup, there she is, plodding along, with no idea of all the interesting bits of news-filled scents that are to be found everywhere!

rain in the city

Yesterday afternoon, rain in the city alternated with the occasional snow flurries which melted as they hit the ground. Less than 20 minutes north of the city, the snow started to stick, even before I had reached the beginning of the Oak Ridges Moraine.

At my paying job yesterday evening, one of my clients, a sweet, wrinkled and wizened little old Italian gentleman, said he had started praying for me when he saw the snow flurries, knowing I would have a fair distance to drive in the snow to get home. As he told me this, there was a lull in the snow flurries. Pointing this out, he said, his prayers were answered, 'thank God'.

Little did he know that it continued to snow north of the city on & off and the temperature being few degrees colder allowed the snow to stick around... But it still gives me a warm feeling to remember his friendly smile and broken English and his gesture of the sign of the cross as he told me he had said a little prayer for me.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

the melt

the snow gone nearest the warm south wall of the smaller barn

see the patchy snow? and this is on the north side of the large barn.

a rather fanciful window on the smaller barn's south wall. Manitoba maple seedlings are everywhere!

characteristic cedar-rail fences between fields . Trees along the fence row include maples, oaks, butternut, with the smaller buckthorn, hawthorn, & wild cherries. Wild grape often clambers over the fences and up the trees. Rocks cleared from the fields are often loosely piled along the fence line as well.

took this picture for the interesting lichen and algae on the rock, more than anything else. oh, and I love the dry curly grasses too.

in the shelter of the fence and tree, snow had all but disappeared

looking south-west across my alfalfa-meadows of the summer, you can see the trees that shelter the old abandoned house and our house. To the left is the big old barn.

As the Farmer's Almanac predicted, apparently, we are getting our mild winter. Although in our area, the snow did nearly disappear for a day off the grass on the island made by the circular drive to the east of our house, the snow in the driveway closest to the house, packed down by our traffic, remained a sea of ice made even more slipppery by the water-melt on top of it.

out our dining room window, our "skating rink" driveway is visible

Out in the more exposed areas around our home, a teeny skim of icy snow did remain over most everything. You can see from the photos I uploaded, from the 16th of Jan, that wherever there was more shelter or heat from the sun, as in a southern exposure, you can actually see the grass.

a bluejay is crazily perched under the feeder, and grass can be seen beyond the south wall of the greenhouse!

About 60-70 km southwards, in the cities by Lake Ontario, the snow was completely gone, except where it had been piled up by snowplows. There it was mounded up in ugly chunky icy greyness. The grass was a sickly green!

The ice made me think many times: whatever did I do with my skates, anyway? Lost in all my moves or lent out to the friends of my kids? I have no idea. But I have hopes of skating again on the pond I discovered the other day.

Some of my fondest memories are of learning to skate with my cousin Leena's hand-me-down skates on an outdoor city rink in Helsinki as a kid. A pot-bellied stove in a little shack outside the rink provided a warm place with rough wooden benches where you could change into your skates. The boots, tucked under a bench, staying back in the heated shack the whole while, were pretty warm to get back into after skating. A lot of the older girls stayed in the shack, smoking and talking about boys, never skating at all!

I never could tighten the laces very well myself. If an older girl-friend, or my Mom wasn't there, sometimes the rink attendant, a kinda scary, unshaven old man, with the perpetual cigarette hanging from his lower lip, would lace your skates for you, if he noticed you. More often, one of those older girls in the shack would kindly help the little girls with their skates. Quite often, being so shy back then, I hardly dared to ask for help. So, after a circuit or two of the rink, back I'd go to the bench to tighten the laces some more. The rare times my Dad was able to come to the rink were the best times, because then my laces were so tight, my ankles didn't wobble at all!

After we came to Canada, we skated outdoors on the frozen creeks in the woods or on the ponds that formed in low-lying pockets along the hydro-line corridors that cut through the suburbs of the GTA. Sure, there were man-made ice rinks too in indoor arenas, but I rarely enjoyed myself there as much as I did outdoors, with the changeable texture of the ice, ( strangle trapped air bubbles, cracks, waves, crystals) the weather, the wind, the early setting sun of winter. I would have missed all that indoors! Besides, there was more room outdoors to play any game you wanted. At the indoor rinks, it was crowded, there were bullies, and a loud announcer would dictate the direction of the skating! Quite often, after many hours of skating, when it came time to put the boots on to walk home, besides the boots being freezing cold, walking felt so odd one could have fallen on one's face! We would walk home in the dark for our supper.

Quite often, both in Finland and Canada, my feet would get so cold that unthawing when I got back indoors was agony! The tears. Oh My God, I remember that pain! But I'd be back outdoors the very next day, if at all possible!

Perhaps my favorite times were skating at City Hall in Toronto when our piano teacher took us there with her family. Her husband was a wonderful skater, who, no doubt played hockey in his youth, but still could make you feel like you were floating with the music, dancing around the rink. How my sister and I loved skating on his arm!

No. My absolute favorite skating was with my friend Dave in high school. The most gifted athlete I have ever known, also a Great and Gentle and Genenous Soul, skating with him was like flying. Skating with him, we zipped past everyone, making probably 2-3 circuits of the ice to each of their 1, all in beautiful rhythm. I sorta know where Dave is these days, but haven't been in touch for a long time. I would love to hear from him!

I'm hoping with a bit more snow, that since I do have my skis, I can do a bit of cross-country skiing. Weird: last winter, I wasn't sure where my boots were, sure my waxes were too old or non-existent anymore, not sure if the bindings were intact or something, never did get around to inspecting the ski situation, and so was satisfied to just go for my walks. Maybe I'm really settling in here for a while, actually gettting the skis into order!

hurray, snow!

the laneway, sparkling with snow

out towards the main road

Over the last couple of days, we have received a little bit of snow. In fact, yesterday, when I got out of bed, all the branches of the trees and shrubs were heavy with it. And between intermittent snow flurries, we had sunshine and blue sky!

We had blue sky today as well. Lovely, lovely day! The sunset was all peach and pink and violet with streaks and curls of cloud tinted by the setting sun.

I saw a couple of deer in a marshy area a little north of here--near Coboconk--as I drove home from visit to son.

And in the woods, on my walk today, I saw tracks of a large-ish bird, not as big as the turkeys (grouse?). I really do need to get myself some books to identify the tracks I see. Also by the pond, I saw the tracks that looked a bit like small hands with claws, with little drag-marks between footsteps, tracks of a four-footed animal.

The peace and quiet of my walk was disturbed by the buzz & whining of snow-mobiles somewhere to the south of us. Maybe not as noisy as the power-boats were on the lake and canal this past summer, but still...When will noise-polution be outlawed, please?

I sometimes wonder, if there were absolutely no traffic noise at all, EVER...would I be afraid of the unfamiliar silence? (and we really get very,very little traffic noise here, relatively speaking)

visiting with "Trainspotting"

I went to visit my son again this weekend as we had planned. He was in great spirits this time. And I had the weirdest experience.

I mentioned the Ian Rankin book of shoft stories and the movie "Trainspotting", here before. So my son mentions that he is getting rid of some of his old movies and since I have an old VHS machine, I thought I'd look at them...maybe he would have something I'd want. I noticed, he had "Trainspotting" . My son had the VHS but couldn't play it as he only has a DVD player. Fine, I thought, I really don't want to see it anyway. I said, thank-you, but no, I don't think I'll take it home either. So, a little while later, there it is on TV! Not something I would have wanted to watch, but there I am. Thinking, there is some reason this weird synchorinicity has happened. I must watch this movie. I still don't know why.

Friday, January 20, 2006

whale music

Imagine the thrill of those Londoners who were able to get down to the Thames and see the whale! There it is, there is something indefinable we humans get when we catch a glimpse, or even better, get close to a wild animal, particularly something we might not see very often, such as this whale .

A couple of days ago, I walked along a different route around our meadows, going southward along the cornfield, then east, past the huge piles of logs from the foresters. I found a wild turkey highway of sorts. The dogs went wild, running along very excited along the highway of footprints. They scattered into the woods to the northeast of the little pond behind an old earthenworks dam. A couple of days later, following the same walk, I came upon Misty at one point, with her head up in the little hollow of a tree, with barely her tail showing. Maybe she knew what had taken shelter in the tree, but I could only guess.

Later, we came upon tracks that looked like those of a large dog--larger than any of our dogs. The tracks made an even paced, direct path along the old road through the woods northward. Coyote? Wolf?

All sorts of tracks stop me and grab my interest: here, there, on the way to the compost pile, tracks of the squirrels, birds, mice?

I really think I shall have to buy myself a book to help me identify what I see.

Speaking of books, I read one book I enjoyed a great deal, one middling, and one that was not so great:

First, a collection of short stories by Ian Rankin. Great writing, but I confess that I find the subjects too dark. Oh, I do like mysteries but find books and movies that portray worlds such as the stuff of the movie "Trainspotting", depressing. Of the characters, I think Rebus is easily my favorite. Maybe I'd like Rankin's Rebus novels more. I'll dip into this stuff once in a while, but it won't be my steady diet of reading/viewing.

The second book was a mystery that I enjoyed and now have a difficult time remembering the title and author. Let's see. An English mystery writer... I suspected the mother almost right away....Ah! I've got it: The Veiled One, and Inspector Wexford mystery by Ruth Rendell.

The third that I liked the best, was Gail Godwin's Evensong. In my mind, her wonderful portraits of the worst and the best ( some of the many in between) kinds of church people were fascinating. My favorite part was the heroine finding glimpses of God in the people she encountered in her work and private life. I have to try to find the quote/passage.
Here is another excerpt about "sandbox whiners" that nicely helps one distinguish a little between dictation vs inspiration, or how the Bible can still be a source of inspiration today, even though the writers were all too human.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

attempt at activism

So. I walk into the Starbucks() in Ajax and ask the handsome young Oriental man who served me if they have "organic free trade coffee"!! I didn't realize what I had said until he said, yes they have one brand of fair trade coffee, "Estima", I believe it was. He put no emphasis at all on the correction, but something in his eyes flickered. He knew that I realized that he knew that I had unintentionally asked for the Last thing in the world I would want (free trade vs fair trade). But he politely showed me a large bag of whole beans of the stuff. No, they didn't have a pot of it is on the schedule to be offered in February (he rhymed off the dates). I said I would have liked to taste it, didn't buy the bag of coffee beans, thanked the young man and left.

I think I need to practice this activism thing more so I don't end up asking for what I don't want!! whah?

messing about with pineapple

christmas lights at the locks, Fenelon Falls. Can just make out santa and his reindeer?

my favorite is the green dragon--not the best picture of it.

I heard a snippet of interesting information on the radio the other day. I think it was on a late night public radio station and it had to do with teaching math. As I consider myself math-handicapped--even though I would bristle if I were to be told today that I can't handle it, as I was told when I was in school!--I wished that math were taught in a more interesting way.

A game was discussed that reminded me of one of the gambling games I played with Son when I visited him. The learning game involved 5 cards in a hand and using them to come up with 21, a game that I pretty sure even granddaughter at age 4 would catch on to pretty quickly. As it is, I wouldn't even try to comprehend the computational processes she already is capable of in playing such things as "barbie monopoly" etc. Are we underestimating what kids can do? And why, oh why, is school so often so boring? I don't care how many colourful books and other media you give kids, it's boring when you spoonfeed them and expect them to regurgitate it back. Isnt' that the way you were taught? No? Well! Then you must have been more lucky than I was.

I'm sure kids are naturally as curious as I was. I remember the physical feeling of waiting, waiting, waiting, sitting on my hands as the teacher, painfully, step-by-slow-step, explained and wrote out on the blackboard to process: how to form the letters, how to do long division, how to parse a sentence...My hands have never felt quite healthy since. I also remember waving them about in the air, eager to guess or try things out for myself...occasionally being allowed to try and the condescending attitude when I was wrong. No opportunity to experiment or find out for myself or explore ideas hands on. Nope, just : that is not the right answer.

And I did fairly well in school. I often liked the structure and the routine and the rules and regulations a lot. For a while, parts of me thrived in the order of it. Things have really fallen apart since then. Maybe I realized I would have liked to mess about a bit more, blow up a few chemistry labs, make more mud fly off the pottery wheel, noodled about in the real world of bugs and plants and stuff more. I sort of came of age at the end of the hippie era and realized that some very avant garde schools had come out of that era and I had not had the opportunity to attend them.

I laughed today at myself, because as I described to our cleaning lady the videos I've been watching lately ( I got episodes 3,4 & 5 of Mapp & Lucia from the library), and mentioned that I would have loved to wear the wardrobe of Mrs. Lucas myself, I could just picture my poor father if I had been young in the '20s: he would have been appalled at women who cut their hair and shortened their skirts etc as they did in the era of the flappers. Motor cars and skimpy bathing costumes and women doing calisthenics? Of the devil! Yes, indeed.

So, as I cut my pineapple for breakfast, I remembered the math thing. Fibonacci series. And to illustrate it, among lots of things that come up when googled, I found this. ok, it's not a rocket into space or anything but it amused me.

World Mysteries site science section contains interesting discussions and illustrations of the Fibonacci series and plants, the human face, the human hand, etc.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

organic wines

siel suggested a Starbucks Challenge in her comment to a previous post here. I think it's a great idea. Our bigger coffee place around here is Tim Horton's. I wonder what they would say to "organic fair trade coffee please"? Shall we find out?

I also enjoyed siel's list of organic wine producers in California. Here is a challenge for me. Can I find organic wine producers in Ontario? Another project. Anybody out there know?

The organic vegetarian , aka Melissa, also sent comments my way, for which I am humbly grateful. Read her blog to follow the struggles and proud moments of a mom who is out to save the world. Yeah! Right on!

Another great read on the interdependence of humanity and nature, and collective problem solving can by found by checking out Lauren's blog.

I am not in the position to be condescending, so I do hope this doesn't sound like I am: I am amazed at the passion and caring and courage in ones so young trying to do it all and save the world at the same time. Downright hopeful, it makes me, yes it does!

Monday, January 16, 2006

books and movies

I went to see Memoirs of a Geisha with Mike, last week. Of course, because of the silly way I read novels -- rush through to find out how it all turns out in one reading if possible!-- I wasn't sure if I liked the movie at all. I found myself anticipating things that I thought had occurred in a certain way or order in the book, and the movie didn't unfold in the same way. Certain things that were huge in my mind, like the shocking collection of the doctor who won the bidding for the heroine's virginity--not mentioned in the movie. And I was prejudiced by a New York Times review that claimed the costumes were not authentic--and therefore found much of the exposed flesh and lack of the geisha's white makeup in many situations inexplicable. As to what was accurate and what was not, I really am in no position to judge, and therefore all the more frustrated. I usually enjoy the visual and auditory luxury of a movie.

I also did go out to ambush my son! Yes, he is still working through some difficult stuff and was a little emotional to have his mother accost him in such a fashion -- I'm only exaggerating a little! We had a nice supper and I ended up staying the night because he wanted to fix things about my car with the help of daylight. I'm very glad to have the headlights and windshield wipers fixed and in working order again. And I had envisioned riding to his rescue like mothers are supposed to, right? Seriously, I don't claim to have any answers, except that I believe in him and am proud of him. Yes, we all have problems and we overcome them bit by bit.

I surprised myself by enjoying a round or two of a table game one of his sisters had given him for Christmas. Its name had something to do with Las Vegas and involved some of the games of chance one might play in that city. Of course, I lost again and again, in increasingly worse terms, thoroughly enjoing myself. On my turn, I nearly always landed on squares that called for a hand of poker and having long ago forgotten how to play, had to keep reminding myself of what a good hand might be by looking at the rules of play, with Son offering strategies for how to play my hand if, supposing I had this or that...

I also had the great good fortune to have lunch with my daughters, whose company I enjoy more and more all the time. I have not-so-secretly, I suppose, started to wish for a home of my own that is closer to them, so that travelling to visit is not such a time-consuming affair. Am I ready to give up the peace of country life? Not really. I still crave the quiet and wildness, sometimes finding even now, here, that civilization intrudes...And I still want room to garden, room for my messy art work, etc... So, somehow, I believe the universe will take all my little wishes about the home I want and that home will come into my reality in good time.

Finally, today, I was able to concentrate on such pleasures as laundry, cutting back the hibiscus and lemon verbena, and trying to do up some cuttings of pelargonium, African violets and rosemary. Our landlords' stepmom was glad to have the cuttings of the hibiscus as we had talked about and was very sweet to bring me a cutting already rooted of a hibiscus ( a different colour from mine) of her own. Isn't that lovely?

Having heard, perhaps on my trusty CBC radio, that willow twigs soaked in water act like a rooting hormone as well as preventing cuttings from going moldy, I am brewing a willow-tea with which I plan to water the cuttings....I'll keep you posted on that experiment.

Bedraggled hibiscus after its haircut.

hibiscus cuttings for Sheila

I also uncovered a couple of pots of bulbs that I had buried under the leaves in a corner between the greenhouse and the back-step where we hang our clothes out on the line in milder weather...brought the pots of bulbs indoors and let them start warming up a bit in the laundry-room sink. Dried leaves and chunky bits of frozen snow clinging to the pots, I have to clean them up a bit before showing them off. Besides, although I am hopeful about the tips of green that have sprouted up, it has been a while since I tried forcing bulbs into bloom indoors. My method is always much more haphazard than the ones prescribed in such clear and precise fashion in books and gardening mags. However do people get to be so organized anyway?

said pots of bulbs in said sink

Seems to me I should be ordering seeds or something about now too, and I have no idea...I don't even have the catalogues I want yet, except for the online-heritage-tomatoes one...

Travelling along in the car these days, I am almost always singing along to Deva Premal's Embrace, mantras beautifully set to music. Makes the trip fly.

Fun stuff I got from the library:

videos of Episodes I and II of Mapp & Lucia, programs of London Weekend Television, adapted from the book by E. F. Benson; I watch them again and again to enjoy the wardrobe of the heroine, the wily and elegant Lucia Lucas. Maybe I should have been born to a different time because I would love to wear those clothes!

Encore Provence, New Adventures in the South of France, by Peter Mayle, which I re-read for perhaps the fifth time

The Madonna of Excelsior, by Zakes Mda, a wonderful book about people involved in the turbulent time around the release of Mandela from prison; magical realism, political and social satire and criticism all rolled-up into vividly portrayed real human beings

The Veiled One, an Inspector Wexford mystery by Ruth Rendell

I am also re-reading Awakening the Buddha Within, by Lama Surya Das along with a gift I received from Mike for Christmas: Conversations with God, an uncommon dialogue, book 1, by Neale Donald Walsch. While I always have books such as these or gardening books beside my bed and on the go, the fiction I mentioned above is something I don't indulge in as often. With books such as the Buddha, or Conversations with God, I am able to sedately read a chapter or two and put a book aside to go to sleep at a sensible (for me) hour, thoughtfully trying to digest what I have read.

But not so with most novels. I'm helpless when reading fiction. I inhale it, not eating, not sleeping, not bathing---disgusting really how addicted I become to the plot--how will it all turn out. And often, I cannot remember the names of the characters afterward. Eeek! the zipless.....! What have I become??

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

bleak and cold

It's so bleak and cold. This picture almost seems as if the sun is shining, when it's actually not. It must be the contrast with the dark drive shed against the snow.

I tried to capture the pearls of ice hanging from the seed heads of the grasses. Ah well. Icicles will have to do.

I found the rows of icicles hanging on the side of the barn intriguing. Everything is dripping, wet and cold.

Yep! Them there shiny things are puddles on top of the ice in the laneway. You can almost see the reflection of trees in one of the puddles.

gracias a la vida

It is raining, but temperatures are hovering around the freezing point. I refilled the bird feeders. I had to repair one first. Well, it really wasn't a repair job. Red/Green would have approved: I used electrical tape and a split clothes peg to secure one of the plexiglass panels to the frame. Part of the wooden frame, a vertical piece of molding, had been split off. It had formed part of the groove into which the plexiglass fit, and with it gone, the plexiglass was not staying in place. It looks bad, but it works.

With the temperatures a bit milder, I was able to break up some of the ice on our back steps and sweep it away. Despite practicing my yoga faithfully everyday, I still found just that little bit of exertion caused my shoulders and neck to protest! I keep reminding myself to be patient. Seems I should stick to nothing heavier than a tea cup!!

What was that quote in my yoga-photo book about limitations?

"We can do yoga practices that may reveal to us where we are resisting happiness. Once we are made aware of our tightness and uptightness, we can then begin to let go."
~~Sharon Gannon and David Life, The Art of Yoga

"Happiness is as a butterfly which, when pursued, is always beyond our grasp, but which if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you."
~~Nathaniel Hawthorne

"Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful."
~~Albert Schweitzer

"If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion."
~~His Holiness, the Dalai Lama

"Neck tensions usually arise from fear of failing, of making mistakes, from a feeling of inadequacy in a given situation.....Also, remember that you are often biased in your self-criticism, that you see failures where an objective observer would never find fault."
~~Rosina-Fawzia Al-Rawi, Grandmother's Secrets, the ancient rituals and healing power of Belly Dancing

Interesting, isn't it, how synchronicity seems to lead me in my reading to what I need to think about! As I may have said before, I have about 40 to 50 books at my bedside, with bookmarks in them. I pick up a book, seemingly at random, before I go to sleep, or, as now, when I'm thinking about things, like my pain. The mysterious and profound connection between one moment and the next is very moving to me!

(What I'm listening to: Mercedes Sosa "Gracias a la Vida", Trance Planet compilation.)

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

mindful eating

A couple of days ago, I finished reading the book Harvest for hope: a guide to mindful eating, by Jane Goodall, with Gary McAvoy and Gail Hudson, 2005. A lot of this was not new to me, looking at the food we produce and consume, the issues regarding the use of pesticides, chemical fertilizers, GMO's, packaging, additives, animal cruelty, factory farms...etc.

However, I was very glad to read someone as well respected as Jane Goodall, in her gentle way, making her suggestions for change. using water filters, eating organic, shopping locally at farmers' markets, buying shade-grown & fair trade coffee, and so on. To anyone who is not familiar with the issues, this book is a must-read primer.

Here are some of the resources that I liked from the back of the book:

Blue Planet Project, an international effort to protect the world's fresh water from the growing threats of trade and privatization:

Earth Day Network's Footprint Quiz; find out how big a footprint you make upon the earth:

New England Heritage Breeds Conservancy works to conserve historic and endangered breeds of livestock and poultry in an effort to preserve a more diverse gene pool, and encourage the production of these breeds on today's farms:

Organic Consumers Association, is a grassroots, nonprofit that deals with issues of food safety, representing the views and interests of organic consumers in the U.S. :

Slow Food. Founded by Carlo Petrini in Italy, Slow Food promotes food and wine culture, defending food and agricultural biodiversity worldwide:

The Edible Schoolyard, offers its program as a model for other organizations engaged in creating organic gardening and cooking projects for children:

Compassion in World Farming Trusts' mission is to work toward ending factory farming systems and practices that cause suffering on farmed animals:

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is the largest animal rights organization in the world:

Campaign to Label Genetically Engineered Foods, is concerned with the growing acreage of unlabeled and inadequately tested genetically engineered crops. As GMO's are used in the manufacture of so much foodstuff, and labelling is not required in Canada or the US, I think this campaign is very important:

Percy Schmeiser, Farmer/Activist, seeks financial assistance with the legal challenge of going up against the giant Monsanto. Read about his struggle on the Web site and support him if you can:

I will post more resources most likely in a soon-to-be upcoming blog.


Reading this post about bats, here made me wonder about something I read a while back, maybe in an old issue of Harrowsmith magazine. It seems there was a community (Port Hope, Ontario?) that was restoring either their municipal building or a church. It was discovered that bats had made their home in the old tower. But before exterminators were called in, somebody had the bright idea that the bats might be lured out of the tower if bat houses were plentiful and available nearby. The community was sold on the project, as bats do consume hu-mongeous amounts of pesky bugs like mosquitos. Bat houses were built. The tower was re-built and made bat-proof. And the bats have stayed to take care of the community's mosquitos! I do wonder if I can find that story....

sunshine? no!

A bit of a surprise was several spots of sunshine through the day. Sunshine? what is that stuff, anyway?


The big excitement today came at about 1 o'clock in the afternoon. I was sitting in the livingroom, reading Grandmother's Secrets, the Ancient Rituals and Healing Power of Belly Dancing, by Rosina-Fawzia Al-Rawi, and enjoying a cup of coffee. Suddenly the dogs set up a racket and came to sit on the back deck, looking out at the cornfield to the south of us. There are large glass patio-doors at that end of the living room that extend all the way across that south wall. The view is spectacular.

In the field, the corn is gone now, but in the stubble, there were about 12 wild turkeys, slowly making their way across, in an informal line. They were busy munching as they went, I suppose. Occasionally, I saw one of the birds stretch up and flap it wings. It took them about an hour to make their way across the field, from west to east, a leisurely stroll the whole way. I didn't see where they ended up going because I had gone back to my book. I don't know what the dogs thought of it all, but after they made the initial announcement, they just sat on the deck and watched the parade.

The photos are of some footprints, I'm assuming a turkey's, that I took a couple of days ago at the bottom of our laneway, right by the mailbox! The prints are about 3 to 4 inches long. I guess the turkeys are pretty much living in this area lately. As I understood it, wild turkeys had been hunted to extinction in this area and were recently reintroduced. They seem to have made a success of it. I saw a flock of about 30 birds near here, as I was driving to my paying job recently.

Monday, January 02, 2006

a room of one's own ~~II

So, continuing the grand tour around the old workroom aka studio:
our next stop is under the west window, the work table, temporary home to more plants that needed rescuing from the freezing greenhouse, robin's nest, etc.

Lack of room forces storage under the worktable.

Yes, there is a closet, containing ugly stacks of boxes. (note to son: still want shelves put up in there. thank-you. i love you.)

last leg of the tour.

Little black box on left is an electric space heater -- absolutely necessary supplement!

And just before we open the door to exit,

check out what's behind the door! Isn't that a lovely grate over the heating duct? Don't see them made like that anymore.

THE END. Le fin.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

a room of one's own -- I

Part of the rituals associated with the turning year is the making of New Year's resolutions. As I pondered what I wanted to change, I had a look at what I already liked about my life. Part of what I like is my work room/studio.

Other than clearing out what was there and sweeping and washing the floor before I moved my boxes in, the room is pretty much as I found it: weird pink walls, terribly dirty grey ceiling, dark-stained wood floor that is scratched and paint-splotched. It has two windows, one facing south and the other west. It took a long time for me to unpack my boxes, and all the stuff needs an organizing hand, but I love my mess.

So for the voyeur, here's a short tour:

Let's peek in the door -- oooh, it seems to be dark in there. Are you sure you really want to see this?

Immediately inside the door to the left is a basket full of waste paper with a cardboard box on top.

What's in the box? Well, as I slowly unpacked those moving boxes, I came across some stuff that belonged to my youngest daughter, like these dance shoes.

I really need to remember to take them to her the next time I go to town, don't you think?
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Careful, there! You have to step over the pile of books and papers that are on the floor, conveniently beside the chair to my desk. Hah! If you think that's bad, you should see the pile of books beside my bed -- approximately 40-50 is my best estimate. No, I can't shelve them, because I am currently reading them...

Part of my desk-top view to the left of my laptop...I know, those dried roses are just dust collectors, aren't they? To the left is one of my paintings. A detail from the painting is below.

To the left of my laptop, under the printer, is part of the setup that holds up the desktop (an old solid wood door). To the right is a simple loom, a cork board and a handmade checkers board (made by my very resourceful dad many years ago).

Under the south-facing window, several plants reside on top of an old filing cabinet. And in front of them, perched on a couple of stools, the New Zealand flax are waiting out the winter.

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In the southwest corner is an open shelving unit full of my stuff, supplies for artwork, soapmaking, spinning, knitting, etc.:

 be continued.