Tuesday, October 30, 2007


I get teased sometimes for living on "millionaire row", but that's not true at all. Oh, don't get me wrong: my home is lovely, eccentric maybe, an old farmhouse set well back from the lake in the middle of a large old farm (with an interesting history of it's own, actually -- which I'll tell another time.) And, it has nearly all those features I want in a home: quiet, surrounded by nature, lots of windows, lots of plants, real fireplaces, a sauna, a greenhouse, some quirky and colourful art work, lots of room to wander around in fields and woods...(we will deliberately not dwell in the down side aspects of old farmhouses, shall we?)

OK!! So I can't help it if I do live very near some million dollar summer homes on Sturgeon Point. It is interesting to walk along the Point and contemplate the lives of those who own those homes and maybe one of these days, I'll give you a walking tour of some of the most interesting ones along the lake. In the meantime -- ah! It's actually not possible to take the boat tour now either, because the locks are closed for the season. Sorry 'bout that.

(click on the picture to get a larger view)

The history is fascinating; the people have been coming here to summer homes for over a hundred years. I'm only starting to hear little bits of it and it's inspiring me to do some research...

This summer I met a marvelous lady with a slightly wicked sense of humour -- "We drink martinis!" -- who gave me a glimpse of some of the stories that abound here. However, since every hilarious, hysterical story she started to tell, she prefaced with "you can't write that down", I am obviously forced to search for the library for a more sober history to tell you about!
Oh, I hope it's half as interesting as the stories this lady hinted at!!

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Sunday, October 28, 2007


I love this time of year -- okay, okay, it's true: I love all the seasons. This is the bottom of the back lane behind my house that ascends up from the lake.

Impossible to capture the jewel-like glow of sunlight through the leaves.

Here leaves tossed down like gold coins upon the ground, near the top of the laneway, just before it flattens out in front of my house. Not too far-fetched to appreciate the fallen leaves as a fraction of the wildly abundant generousity of Mother Nature, fragments of gold carpeting the laneway.


little girls

I find these pictures of my granddaughter very interesting. As you can see, she is very, very aware of the camera and it is nearly impossible to catch her being natural.
Here phrases of my own mother's, phrases that irritated the hell out of me whenever she said them, come to mind: "I'm old enough to remember when..." or "At my age..." What usually followed the first was a rose-coloured-glasses bit of nostalgia (terribly consistently so in my opinion) or a startling observation (much rarer) of how different things have become in even a relatively short span of history; what followed the second was a conclusion that could be interpreted as words of hard won wisdom or a put down of anybody younger. Always depends on the point of view, or how irritated I was at that particular moment with my mother.
So here I catch myself thinking similar thoughts that start the same way: I'm old enough to remember when...And I wonder if I'm not indulging in some rosy nostalgia myself.
Of course we hammed it up for the camera when I was a child too! All I have to do is remember the hilarity brought out by a family viewing of my Dad's slides. We anticipate with evil glee the stupid faces, the baby's bald head, the gap-toothed grins of certain photos, where we know the sibling was captured unawares or where the posing for the camera reveals something altogether unintended and we cringe in embarrassment of our younger selves.
Sometimes we adults notice an awareness of sexuality in today's young girls that we imagine to be so frighteningly different from what we were like. It is different, of course, but I doubt it's even half as alarming as we think it is. (Here I go: ) At my age...
No really. I can remember a certain kind of sexual awareness when I was 6. And I can remember being shocked at the apparently sexual posing of my daughter and her friends when they were little. But it was a very innocent sexuality in my daughther when she was 6, different from when she was 16, and again very different from her sexuality at 26. And it will be different again, but always present, when she is 36, 46 or even 96! It needn't be all that frightening to admit it.
Sure, the signals and emblems of sexuality that today's little girls observe and mimic in their culture may seem very shockingly more blatant than the signals we observed in our own childhoods, but that is probably only because we adults are experiencing a bit of culture-shock in general. The symbols of sexuality in our childhoods were probably just as potent as those of today, just different.
Don't let anybody kid you into believing that any culture, anywhere, at every time in history, has not had its sexual symbols that children observed and imitated. It's a fine balance, the middle ground of being aware of the vast array of sexual symbols in our culture, and helping our children navigate their way into healthy adulthood through all that.
To understand just how nuanced sexual interactions are between human beings, one just has to recall George's line in an episode of Seinfeld, where too late, he has a "flat-forehead-moment" and realizes that "'Coffee' doesn't mean coffee! 'Coffee' means sex!" Another example of how our beliefs mess with reality is the young one at my paying job (yes you, G.!!), who expressed horror and disgust that an older female patient (an age not much older than mine, which is why it struck me as a possible maligning of my own sexual urges -- tee hee hee!!) was very worried about being able to remain sexually active upon discharge from hospital. Did G. have an idea of "appropriate age cut-off" for sexual activity or was her reaction related to other generally inappropriate responses our patient did exhibit at times?? Or, what about the cultures who believe in guiding and teaching their young girls that the proper & whole raison d'être is to get married young and have children, at an age when sadly, too many of them are not even physically matured enough to have babies without terrible risks to their health?
I understand the impulse in well-meaning adults who try to legislate dress, behavior, or define a legal age of consent. Unfortunately, I think there are too many variables that can't be pinned down so easily, because, I'm all too aware (& have a great mistrust) that some of that need to control, define, and legislate, actually comes from a very ugly place in our adult worlds.
I guess our shock at encountering it, when we see the children of today mimic our culture's sexual symbols, comes from our deep fear for the safety of our children. However, it would be a shame if we were to clamp down on it or punish our children for it. It is a terrible world sometimes, but that is all the more reason for protecting and allowing our girls to bloom as they will, as they were created to do, in their own good time, in their own way, without interference from us adults.
It is only natural that children are sexual creatures from the moment they are born, but it is a continuum, not necessarily a smooth one, that has its convolutions and bumps along the way. It is only complicated by our adult need to demarcate turning points, big changes, coming of age. It is fraught with our need to define it, manage it, ensure its safety. It's too bad we can't focus instead on encouraging & nurturing its natural, healthy growth in strength, power and independence, understand its complexity and accept that it doesn't belong to us. It belongs to the growing little girl alone and yes, it will change radically, and if allowed, will develop in its own healthy way into what all little girls are meant to become, incredible, self-determining, sexy women.
The art in raising girls to healthy adulthood lies in just trying to find that precarious balance between our beliefs, enculturated ideas, science, religion and nature.

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end of the season

The summer season is over. Most of the summer people have gone back to the city and their summer homes are being closed up for the winter. Only a few year-round residents remain here in the Kawarthas.

The Sturgeon Point Union Church, a non-sectarian, and oh, it must be said, most clearly Christian, meeting place, is also quiet again. On a Sunday morning in the summer, it was possible to hear the the congregation joining their voices in robust hymns, hymns which with their sober and triumphant chords can still bring a lump to my throat and cause tears in my eyes. The huge songs were swallowed up by the overhanging branches of the tall pine trees, some notes soaring into the blue, blue sky, the highest notes splintered into ever thinner vibrations amongst the blinding rays of summer sunshine shattered, reflected into millions of shards of light by the rippling waves of the lake.

There are a few Sunday sounds, still. The construction crew doing the renovations on the cottage by the lake aren't there on Sundays. The cottage sits on huge metal supports, propped up off its foundations to allow a basement to be built under it, quietly resting, waiting for the returning growl of the small bulldozer and the cement mixer and the hammering of the weekdays. But there are a few sounds of the remaining year-round residents, the man tinkering in his garage, the voices of family up from the city to visit with a retired parent. And there is the sound of dry leaves underfoot and the softer muted sound of footfalls on a blanket of pine needles on the road.


Friday, October 05, 2007

sunshine and the colour red

Another gorgeous day. The sun is warm. I'm afraid when the cold weather comes it will be a shock after such a warm and mellow fall!

When I wake up in the mornings, I can see a deepening blush creeping across the leaves of the maples that surround my house. I think it is supposed to be the change in daylight hours that triggers the colour change, I can't remember for sure. The nights are cooler, but not frosty.

Besides being lazy, I am allowing the mild weather to lull me into the belief that we will never have frost, we will never need to close the windows against the winter winds, we will never have to start the furnace up, we will never have to bring in the tender plants from the back deck.

I apologize for posting another photo of my hibiscus blooms! I can't seem to resist them and I know I'm repeating myself.

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Thursday, October 04, 2007


Green is the colour of healing, empathy and caring. It is soothing and balancing, it refreshes and brings peace. It is also the colour of growth, ideas and new life, and it can also soothe tension, heart ailments and heart ache.

With fall bringing the fiery embers of the dying year, it's surprising to find so many cool greens around!
Maiden hair fern.

In the open woods, the foliage of Early meadow rue, Thalictrum dioicum, is turning gold.

Hydrangea arborescens, American hydrangea or Seven barks hydrangea. The creamy-white flower clusters of June and July have turned green and will turn papery-brown later in the fall.

Melissa officinalis, Lemon balm. My sources tell me this lovely lemony herb both stimulates the heart and soothes the nerves. A magickal use of this delightful herb was in a charm to attract love.

Ipomoea 'Marguerite', Sweet potato vine.

Digitalis ambigua 'Carillon', Foxglove (also Faeries' glove, Faery thimble, Witches glove). The faery folk may become your enemies if you cut or misuse this flower which they consider their property! Foxgloves are the natural source of digitalis, a powerful stimulant and cardiac regulator, which can be toxic in large quantities. So, the nature spirits should be respected with regards to this herb, and it should be left in the garden as simply a pretty invitation for faerie folk to visit.

Geranium (sorry, can't remember which one, but this one has masses of tiny pale pink flowers in June/July)

Miscanthus sinensis


Foeniculum vulgare dulce 'Rubrum', Bronze fennel seed heads. Herbal lore has it that a sprig of fennel hung over a doorway at midsummer prevents hostile spirits and bad luck from entering the home during the coming year.

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