Sunday, October 19, 2008

the garden

Oh, in case you think all I do is run and work these days, I do also get out into the garden once in a while.

Right now, I'm enjoying the yellow and red leaves on the big maple trees outside my window. In landscaping terms, they are "borrowed elements" from the complex of homes to the north of me, but I don't mind that. I'm also borrowing the trees from the park that is west of me. The trees are MY landscape now. And the colour is glorious!!

I tidied up the little beds I planted this summer in front of the building. I brought the two pots indoors and I'm hoping to overwinter the Pennisetum setaceum ‘Rubrum’ (Common name : Purple Fountain Grass). The Salvia officinalis 'Tricolor' and the Sedum x 'Frosty Morn' I popped in the ground. The Strobilanthes 'Persian Shield' will also hopefully be overwintered indoors, but the Verbena 'Lanai Peach' and the million bells, I discarded.
I regret now that I hardly took any photos of the wee garden and the pots because they did have their moments. Ah well. I can't hold on to everything, no matter how hard I try.
The kidlet across the hall from me put some rubber snakes in the garden this summer, her theory being that they would keep the squirrels away. Not effective against the squirrels, but I'll admit they did give me the heeby-geebies when I cleaned them up in my kitchen sink before giving them back to her. At least I got a "Thank-you" note for my efforts in her sweet childish and spelling & writing, which tickled me no end!


Thursday, October 16, 2008


So, yesterday, I launched my drive for sponsorships for my run in the 10 km international TOYOTA Great Ethiopian Run in Addis Ababa, on November 23. As I am footing all the expenses of travel, etc., all the money I raise will go to Ethiopia Reads.

If you are interested in supporting a great cause, visit Ethiopia Reads! To find out more about my trip, I'll be blogging about it on Running In Ethiopia

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bird feeder

An interesting project here for those who understand how important a connection to nature is to mental, physical, and spiritual health:

"Project FeederWatch Benefits Birds and People
Connection with nature
promotes wellness

Ithaca, NY-­More than 100 studies have shown that getting closer to nature reduces stress and promotes a feeling of well-being in children and adults. So, filling feeders and counting the birds that visit may be just what the doctor ordered! For more than 20 years, that’s what participants in the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Project FeederWatch have been doing-­benefitting themselves and the birds.

"It is a great winter time activity for the whole family," says Alaska FeederWatcher Nancy Darnell. "If you have children, they will come to love watching the birds. All of this is fun and a chance to contribute to scientific studies, too!"

The 2008-09 season of Project FeederWatch gets underway November 8 and runs through April 3. Participants count the numbers and kinds of birds at their feeders each week and send the information to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Participants submitted more than 115,000 checklists during the 2007-08 FeederWatch season, documenting unusual bird sightings, winter movements, and shifting ranges-­a treasure-trove of information that scientists use to monitor the health of the birds and of the environment.

“Being a FeederWatcher is easy and fun, and at the same time helps generate the world’s largest database on feeder-bird populations,” says project leader David Bonter. “We are grateful for the contributions our participants have made for the birds and are proud of the joy they say it brings to their busy lives. Since we started in 1987, more than 40,000 people have submitted observations, engaging with the wildlife beyond their windows.”

“Project FeederWatch opened up a whole new world for me,” says participant Cheri Ryan of Lockport, Kentucky. “It’s so interesting to watch the activities of the birds. I
learn something new each time I participate.”

Scientists learn something new from the data each year, too, whether it’s about the movements of common backyard birds or unusual sightings of rarely-seen species. Highlights of the most recent season include the largest southward movement of Red-breasted Nuthatches in the history of the project­-part of an expected influx of
northern birds that fly farther south when their food supplies run short. Other
northern species showing up in record numbers included Common Repolls and Pine
Siskins. Among the rare birds reported was a Streak-backed Oriole in Loveland,
Colorado-­the state’s first report of this bird, native to Mexico. A December nor’easter deposited a Dovekie in Newton, Massachusetts, the first time this North Atlantic seabird has ever been reported to Project FeederWatch.

Long-term data show some species increasing in number, such as the Lesser Goldfinch in the Southwest. Other populations continue a downward trend, such as the Evening Grosbeak throughout their range. Once one of the most common species seen at feeders in the northern half of the continent, the grosbeaks are declining for unknown reasons.

Beyond the benefits to birds and science, however, is the benefit to participants. “Nature is not merely an amenity; it is critical to healthy human development and functioning,” says Nancy Wells, Cornell University assistant professor of design and environmental analysis. Her studies find that a view of nature through the window or access to the environment in any way improves a child’s cognitive functioning and reduces the negative effects of stress on the child’s psychological well-being. Wells also notes that when children spent time with nature early in life it carries over to their adult attitudes and behavior toward the environment. (italics mine!!)

Project FeederWatch welcomes participants of all ages and skill levels, from scout
troops and retirees to classrooms and nature center visitors. To learn more and to sign up, visit or call the Lab toll-free at (800) 843-2473. In return for the $15 fee ($12 for Lab members) participants receive the FeederWatcher’s Handbook, an identification poster of the most common feeder
birds in their area, a calendar, complete instructions, and the FeederWatch annual report, Winter Bird Highlights.

Many FeederWatchers echo this comment from Mary Strasser of Wisconsin: “The greatest reward for me as a participant in Project FeederWatch these many years has been observing birds and behavior that I might have missed had I not been part of this project.”

Note: Photos are available at To find local participants for stories, contact David Bonter at (607) 254-2457 or email Visit the “Explore Data” section of the web site to find the top 25 birds reported in your region, rare bird sightings, and bird summaries by state or province.

Media contact in Canada: Kerrie Wilcox, Bird Studies Canada, (519) 586-3531,

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is a membership institution dedicated to interpreting and conserving the earth’s biological diversity through research, education, and citizen science focused on birds. Visit the Lab’s web site at . "

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Canadian Thanksgiving

Dear (friend)
Oh Bizarre! It was supposed to be a busy but pleasant weekend, but it was only confusing, tiring and disappointing. I certainly HOPE your weekend was nicer!I had an absolutely great 12-ish (that's Mary's fault as always!) km run on Friday night -- even with the steep hill on the way back to the Running Room west of Thornton! Then, it went downhill from there. Despite having eaten well, etc., two beers went straight to my head afterwards. Phew! Thank god I wasn't driving.

Then on Sat morning, I was supposed to meet my Amharic tutor. I thought he didn't show, he thought I didn't show, but the whole time, we were sitting at tables in the central hall of the Toronto Research Library, merely yards apart, his nose in a book, me with my back to him, looking for him to come in the main doors. He didn't have his cell phone, I couldn't reach him...I went back to Oshawa, hoping to have a good breakfast (never mind! my schedule is that works for me, okay?)

Somebody told me that they have good breakfasts with fruit, etc. at Dines. Okay. So I went there only to discover that it was a pretty run-of-the-mill greasy spoon. No fresh fruit for you, idiot! So I had an omelet, all the while cursing myself for forgetting how many greasy meals I had "enjoyed " at this certain fat@#$%& friend's house! (okay, I admit, I was starting to feel like being really, really mean!)

So I went home, had a nap. Now, midday naps usually leave me feeling even more mean. But I forced myself to get up. I shopped for my groceries. Then I was too tired to put them away except for the stuff that just absolutely had to go in the freezer or fridge, OR ELSE!!!I fell asleep on the couch in front of the tv and got an awful crink in my neck. I woke up and stumbled into bed at about 3 am.

I had sensibly set the alarm, so I didn't oversleep and miss my Sunday morning run. It was supposed to be a long,slow,steady 20km loop up to Winchester Drive, then back down Thornton. The weather was perfect. Sunny, cool, no wind. I figured out pretty quickly that Jim was setting an awfully fast pace. This was no LDS, even for him. Damn. But I hate running alone, as nobody else running this morning runs at my much slower pace. Damn. I kept up with them all the way to Rossland Road, on the home stretch. By Adelaide, I lost them. Thank god Kieran's foot was bothering him and Mary had indigestion...Anyway, I made it up that hill on King St. west of Thornton, back to the Running Room on Thickson. And Jim and Mary are congratulating me, saying they think I'm getting really fast...HUH??I'm dying here, running MY race pace or better on what was supposed to be a nice easy LSD!!! Is everybody crazy, me most of all??? We went for our usual coffee etc and I almost puked up my muffin and coffee I was so wiped out.

I went home for a nap. When I woke up, it was just going on 3 o'clock. There was a message on my machine saying Jim made a mistake, he was running with a bunch at 8:30 am, Mary's bunch running at 10:30. I could choose from two groups to run with, Monday morning. There was a message from work asking if I'd like to work the day shift, 7 am to 3pm, instead of the evening shift I was scheduled for. Bonus, I thought, miss a run but, this way, I would be able to have Thanksgiving dinner with either my daughter and her husband's family or at Mary's, or hey, even both -- I mean Mary's party would be "-ish", which means it would stretch into the wee hours!! I phoned work. Noooo...the secretary on now didn't know about needs for the day shift. She was told the staffing was okay. Hopes dashed.

Monday, I was still shattered. Man, I felt like I'd run a half-marathon everyday for a week! Run at 8:30??forget it. Run at 10:30??! I have to get ready for work!!!Dull brain, sluggish brain, tired tired tired at work all evening! Missed Thanksgiving altogether. Missed running. Nobody loves me.

Tuesday, oh YEAH! The groceries! The laundry! Hurry, hurry, hurry! Catch up! I thought long weekends were supposed to be relaxing? I obviously don't have the hang of how to do weekends. Really hope yours was better.



Tuesday, October 14, 2008

no me

Please read this article about Ethiopia Reads published in the Good Housekeeping magazine:

Monday, October 13, 2008


...see, I have always loved donkeys!!

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Saturday, October 04, 2008

gracias a la vida

Ain't life grand? Here I am all stuffed up, the pressure in the front of my face tempting me to rip my nose off. But what can I say?

I'm looking out my workroom window, enjoying the parade of birds travelling through the maple trees, blue jays, cow birds, blackbirds, little things I can't identify...I saw several skeins of geese flying south too.

The leaves on one of the maples are edged in red and gold, the centres still green. The other maple's leaves are turning red, the veins highlighted in pale green or gold.

I'm cold and hot by turns, as my body freaks out, trying to regulate my body temperature and fight off a silly, drippy cold.

But still, I'm elated. Dumb, huh? Can't help it. Just sitting here, listening to my music and watching the leaves gently moving in the breeze in the dying light of a grey, cold day -- there's something gorgeous about that too. I don't know what it is. It must be the melancholy Finn in me that loves the richness of the minor keys.

Gracias A La Vida - Mercedes Sosa

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Thursday, October 02, 2008