So I was wrong...

In my last post, I was certain the Conservatives were in for a fall in the election, and would lose some of their seats. Huh. I was wrong. I expected a slightly different outcome than what we received. Too bad, I was hopeful. Next time.

It is being said that Stephane Dion will be stepping down as the Liberal Party leader today. What a shame. I'm not his "biggest fan" as a politician, but I think as a human being he seems fairly decent. But it's a shame the Liberal party selected him in the first place and generally wasted his time. There were other candidates who I personally felt could have fared much better. I didn't understand why they chose him at all, but hey I'm not a Liberal, so what do I care. lol Back to the drawing board for the Libs. Bonne chance, M. Dion! Thanks for your attempt to have a "fun Canada!". (One of the best lines from the leader's debate, ever!). And good luck to the Liberals in finding a replacement. Choose wisely, grasshoppers...

I hope we do not see reform in the NDP party. I think I am one of the few I know who actually likes Jack Layton. Sure he's a little shmultzy and over the top with that big smile of his at times, but he's got charisma and character, and a good head on his shoulders. I see victory for Mr. Layton in the future, if the party allows him to continue on. And if the people of Ontario get their heads out of the sand and quit saying, "I can't do it again! Not after what Bob Rae did to Ontario!", perhaps this country could see some reform for once.

It's funny - Bob Rae has jumped ship to the Federal Liberals, and now that he wears a different colour, he's okay? He was elected in his riding the other night. So who was the problem in Ontario? Bob Rae or the NDP? (It was Bob! A new red coat doesn't make him any less of who he was when he led the Ontario NDP, folks!).

*shaking my head*

Elizabeth May - time will tell her fate. She is getting all the glory for bringing the party up to where it currently stands with nearly 7% of the popular vote, but it must be noted that the momentum was started back in 2004 with Harris as the leader, who led the party to an almost 4% jump in popularity. May and the Greens have continued that momentum, and for that she should be proud, but she did not create it.

What an interesting county we live in. So divided, so torn. What choice we have though! For that I am very grateful. We all should be. Regardless of majority, minority, seats or none, we have choice!

Oh, Canada

Originally uploaded by ms_czyph
Today is election day in Canada. Or, as I am calling it, the biggest farce and waste of money this country has ever seen. The Conservatives stand to be re-elected with a very narrow margin, forming yet another minority government (and this time with a smaller minority!) which will cause another election to be called, likely next fall. Farce.

It sickens and saddens me that they are entering this election polling at about 34%, and they stand to win. 34%! The majority of Canadians do not want the Conservative Government to retain power, however they are so bloody well torn on who to vote for on the left that we will continue to suffer until next fall when an election is sure to be called again. Wasteful. Shameful. Irritating!

We need serious electoral reform in this country. This "first past the post" stuff doesn't work for us anymore. A more proportionate representation is what we should be fighting for. "Should" being the operative word. Canadians, sadly, are so complacent and "la-di-da" about the Government and policies that affect them that it will never happen. Nobody cares enough. That troubles me. It also troubles me that more Canadians tuned into the US Vice Presidential debates than for the Canadian leadership debates.

Come on, people!

I'd love to see penalties for those who don't vote included in our electoral reform. Fines, jail time - I'm not picky. It is your civic duty to vote, and I see no excuse for NOT voting, other than your own apathy, ignorance and laziness.

I cast my vote this morning. I waffled, I debated myself, I questioned what was the "right" way to vote. In the end, I just marked my X where I thought it would be best served. I know I can't really affect the outcome of the election that much with my one little vote, but dammit - I'm willing to try.

If you haven't voted yet, please do. If not, don't complain later when things happen and changes are made that you aren't too pleased with. You give up that right when you ignore your duty.

Red-tailed Hawk

"The wild hawk stood with the down on his beak
And stared with his foot on the prey."
~ Lord Alfred Tennyson, 'The Poet's Song'

In early/mid April of this year, my husband and I noticed a pair of Red-tailed Hawks circling a building across the way from us. You could hear their decending cry, "kree-eee-ar....kree-eee-ar", as they flew overhead looking for a meal and as it turned out, a place to nest. They couldn't have picked a better location to hunt and live in. The building they chose is an old abandoned bread factory which now serves as a hotel to hundreds of pigeons who spend their days sitting in a line on the roof, basking in the sun. I can only imagine the smorgasboard of rats, bats and other small animals that are sure to be found inside. A ready food supply without needing to leave the nest - pretty astute creatures these hawks are! Since the bottom half of the building is used as storage for a local company, Novacraft Canoe and Kayak, we aptly named the pair "Canoe" and "Kayak".

One of "our" birds when they first starting building their nest.
Second window in , second row from the top...

It was mid to late May when we heard the first cries from the nestling. It was difficult at first to get an idea at first of how many chicks had hatched, but we narrowed it down to one squawking cry - all day long. It was absolutely amazing to hear the youngster's call, but unbelievable how loud 'he' could be, and how it reverberated off the building walls. We named the baby "Nova", keeping in theme with the unwitting landlords. As the nestling grew, we heard the immature "kree" call as 'he' learned to fly. Day and night we listened and waited with anticipation for the day we would see Nova emerge.

One of the hawks in flight, late May.

The pigeons take flight as the hawk perches on the fire escape and waits for his take out.

The adults didn't hunt outside of the building very often through May to July, but had started coming out a little more lately. We would all run excitedly when we heard the call overhead and turned our eyes (and cameras!) to the sky trying to catch a glimpse of their majestic flight. A few times I watched as one of the hawks sat in a window on one of the lower floors and tore apart it's catch with it's big, strong beak. Other times they would just sit and watch us, as we watch them, while they caught a breath of fresh air (and probably a few moments of peace) before the baby would begin to squawk again, calling out every 3-4 hours for food.

I know I can't describe the sound adequately, but one of the calls reminded us of a duck that was hurt or trapped (we called it the "psychotic duck sound"), and at other times we heard a sound comparable to an excited monkey. It's calls would be followed by a series of loud shrill "chirps" which we thought maybe were the parents answering back, but we can't be sure. Later we heard what we thought may be the immature "kree-eee-ar" that the hawks make in flight and while hunting, and knew Nova would be leaving the nest soon.

In the last few days, the squawks and calls for food from the baby have stopped. A sense of panic almost overcame us yesterday as we realized we hadn't seen or heard from our friends in a few days, until that familiar cry came once more and we looked up to see one of the adults flying with the much smaller nestling right above our house. I ran for my camera, but they were gone again before I could get a picture of the moment we had been waiting for - Nova's first flight!

I am hoping to get a picture of Nova before he and his parents leave for the winter, if they do leave that is. Some hawks will migrate, others will stay. We hope they will stay, or at least return next year, so we can witness it all over again and perhaps document them even further. Such majestic creatures, they are. Someone I loved very much once told me that in Native folklore, hawks are watchers and protectors. I can think of many times in my life when I have needed comfort and had an encounter with a hawk at that moment. It is nice to think that they maybe are watching and protecting my family and I. And even if they are not, it's truly amazing to watch and has been a wonderful lesson in nature for us all. I've enjoyed our friends immensely and will be sad to see them go.

Say cheese!

"You'd think he was the first person to ever lose a tooth!" ~ Judy Blume

Alice lost her first tooth last Friday. It had been wiggling for what seemed like an eternity, before laying completely flat for a few days (gag) and eventually coming out with a little tug from Alice. I must tell you, I have a serious aversion for anything to do with teeth. *shivers* I keep having to remind myself that this is the first of many that she is going to lose, and Jack next. Ugh. It should get easier by then, I'm sure. Oh, man, I pray!

The tooth fairy came that evening, and what a lucky girl she is! She was left $5 and a book with a note stating that first teeth are extra special, and the rest of her teeth are valued at $2 a piece. I checked with other moms to see what they were doing, so we wouldn't blow our cover. I can't get over the rate of inflation on teeth though. I remember getting a quarter! But then, that was 30 years ago... *sigh*

Gotta love a cute, toothless grin!

"Produce great pumpkins....

... the pies will follow later." ~ Unknown

We're not sure what is going to come of these, as they weren't planted until around July 9th, but hopefully these little plants will yield us a few pumpkins to carve and use for pies this fall! It's amazing how much growth we have seen in just a few weeks though. I'm hopeful!

July 25th

July 27th

July 31st

All 4 pumpkin plants, cauliflower and tomatos. There is a row of green peppers at the top as well. I'm thinking we might end up pulling the cauliflower etc to make room for the pumpkin vines...

“We fancy men are individuals; so are pumpkins; but every pumpkin in the field goes through every point of pumpkin history” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

We'll see what happens!

Long Point

Last Sunday we took a little trip to the beach at Long Point Provincial Park. It's a gorgeous park located on a 40 km sand spit on Lake Erie, and one of the nicest beaches I have ever set foot on in Canada.

The wind was up and the waves were quite high on the day of our visit, but the water was warm and shallow. We had a wonderful time "wave crashing" and splashing around in the water. And I, of course, had a marvellous time taking pictures with my new camera. Enjoy!

Jack climbing up on a drifted log, thinking he would be safe from the waves.
Now you see him...

... and now you don't. It hit that log and sprayed right over top of him.
Off the log he went. Alice had a great laugh over it, but it didn't deter Jack from running into the oncoming waves again and again.

A new baby to love!

Oh, exciting news from my front. I have a new baby to love!

Last week I became the proud owner of a Nikon D40, digital SLR camera. I am overjoyed with my new little friend and have hardly put it down since charging the battery!

As a result, I have decided that much of this blog will become a "photo blog". I plan on posting a photo or two each day with a little story attached to them. Yes, I've got the bug again. I lost it for a while, as I was feeling left behind the times still shooting with film in my Nikon F90X. But I'm back, and more excited than ever!

So sit back and enjoy the show! I hope to see some feedback from you. Help me as I grow!


No news is good news!

"For most folks, no news is good news; for the press, good news is not news." ~ Gloria Borger

I don't read the newspaper anymore, and I won't watch the news on TV. Both are always filled with doom and gloom and depressing stories, or stories that just make you mad. Take this morning for example. I clicked on the website for the local newspaper and the following headlines jumped off the front page of the print edition:

"Ecological catastrophe" (referring to the fleet of vehicles Environment Canada uses and how they are gas guzzlers. Thanks to the government of Canada for continuing to fleece us.)

"Body pulled from Huron" (a story about a young man's body, presumed to be a 17 year old who went missing at the beach last week, that was pulled from the water.)

"Crochet pulled from fair's fabric" (crocheting - a mainstay of the Western Fair - has been pulled from the craft exhibit! Atrocious!)

And a large picture in the middle of it all with the caption, "The Pride and the Protest". An older gentleman holds up a sign that says, "Homosexuality is a sin. Jesus calls sinners to repentance.", while a participant in the Gay Pride Parade "reacts with mock horror" as he reads the sign. Can't we all just get along???

And reading it online is no better. The breaking news headlines include a suspicious death on one end of the city, a 3 vehicle crash which has left 5 people in hospital and a body being found after a trailer fire.

Wah, wah, wahhhhhhhhh...... How depressing! Why did I look?

Why can't we reserve the front page for happy stories? "Kitten rescued from the top of white pine tree", or put our birth and wedding announcements there. Save one whole section at the back and call it the "Doom and Gloom" area or something. Better yet, sell a whole paper devoted to gut wrenching, sad, angering or otherwise non-pleasant stories. From my experience, there are people out there who get a thrill from other people's misery, so they wouldn't have to worry about papers not selling. They'd sell more!

Nah, I'm done with the news. Or at least I'm going to be very selective of my news sources. Horror and tragedy just aren't my idea of a good read while sipping my morning tea. Or at any part of the day actually. No thanks. I'll pass. What a waste of trees.

“Never awake me when you have good news to announce, because with good news nothing presses; but when you have bad news, arouse me immediately, for then there is not an instant to be lost.” ~ Napoleon Bonaparte

Smeeshy is a great cat...

"Shee-shu Smeeshy...." ~ Jack at 2 years old

I love animals, especially cats. I don't think there has been a day in my 35 years that I haven't had a cat as a pet. My parents took in and adopted several stray cats over the years as well as 2 dogs. I had hamsters, guinea pigs, a rabbit and every injured bird I could find as a kid. In 1994 while in University, I adopted the ugliest yet most beautiful black kitten I have ever seen. He was a scrawny little thing with a big head and long tail. The runt of the litter in size, but the smartest and most vocal of the bunch. He was one of 13 kittens born to a young mother who, with such a large litter, died shortly after they were born and the kittens were hand raised by a vet's office. I brought my runt home when he was 4 weeks old and named him "Marley" because when that cat cried, he wailed!

Marley grew into his body and became a stunning cat, albeit fat later on in life. Sadly, our boy had to be put down last November at nearly 14 years old due to issues that became beyond our control. He was peeing all over the house, including where he slept. Something was wrong and we didn't have the means to treat him, unfortunately. I still miss him and think about him often. He was a smart cat who thought he was a human being, and he was a good, loyal cat.

We have since adopted 2 other wonderful beauties, and they have filled the void left by good ol' Marley. First came Dinah, a gorgeous grey and brown calico. Svelte and beautiful, Dinah is an adventurer. She's smart and playful and very much Alice's cat. When Alice takes off to a friend's house up the street, Dinah follows her mewing. Whenever we return from vacation or a weekend away, Dinah brings us home an offering of a mouse or a bird, probably begging us not to go away and leave her again. She's an amazing cat.

Our second girl is Smokey, aka "Smeeshy". With a coat of almost blueish-grey, Smokey adopted us after being abandoned a few streets over by her previous owners. We took her in, loved her up and she's been with us ever since. She arrived around the time that Jack first really started talking in "sentences". One day she rubbed up against him and he said, "Aww. Coot. Shee-shu Smeeshy..." (translation: Aww, cute. Thank you, Smokey). "Smeeshy" has stuck as a nickname although Jack's pronunciation has improved, and Brad and I still giggle when we call her "Smeeshy". Smeeshy likes to stay closer to home and be around her people, unlike Dinah the wanderer. She's a lap cat and a lover, and "my" girl. Smeeshy is a great cat.

I love our cats. I'm happy that they love us too and continue to make us their "people". We will gladly be their people as long as they will have us.
Have you hugged a cat today?


Happy Birthday, Canada!

“Canada will be a strong country when Canadians of all provinces feel at home in all parts of the country, and when they feel that all Canada belongs to them.” ~ Pierre Elliott Trudeau

A day late, but heartfelt wishes nonetheless! 141 years old. Wow! The changes Canada has seen in that time... Can you imagine?

My internet service has been sporadic at best lately. I will extend my apologies now for starting July off with a rash of posts in one day (that is, if I get to posting the ones I have stored). I have been writing them in a word pad file waiting to be able to publish them and figured I would do that while I have a few minutes of down time today. If not today then soon!

We've been off galavanting once again. This time to Point Pelee National Park in Amherstberg, Ontario. What a beautiful park that is. The kids had a great time hiking the marsh boardwalk, seeing baby swallows being fed and turning their bums out of the nest to poop (Alice! She thought it was hysterical and could have spent the day there watching them). We took a canoe ride up the marsh where we saw painted turtles, red winged blackbirds, a green spotted frog and hundreds of beautiful water lillies dotting the pond. The weather was perfect for riding our bikes up to the education centre where we spent a little time exploring the displays before hopping on the bus to the "point".

Brad and I visited Point Pelee a couple of times pre-kids and loved it. What a difference in the last 10 years though. Back then you could walk out on to the point for about 50+ feet. Now it is basically just a sandbar where seagulls perch and sun themselves, and the cut off for pedestrians is a pile of rocks at a blunt end. The erosion from the lake is amazing but sad.

It is also a very dangerous area. Many people have been sucked in by the undertow over the years and drowned, so of course I was a litte uptight every time Jack or Alice even put a toe in the water. We spent about 15 minutes there skipping stones, finding a few seashells and watching the seagulls do a little air show for us, then headed back to safer ground.

We spent our Canada Day at a Pioneer Village where we saw demonstrations (in full costume!) of activities at the time of Confederation. A vintage baseball game, stilts that the kids could walk on, fiddle music in a church, fresh squeezed lemonade and more kept us busy for a few hours. Then home for a nice little campfire before Alice and I headed out to watch the fireworks. It was a nice display. Short I felt, but nice. I love fireworks. Especially when put to music. I always get a little "rush" watching them.

Brad starts his holidays next week, so I'm sure my time for blogging will once again be limited. I will be back though. Don't leave me just yet! ;o)


PS: If you read this blog before I get some pictures added, be sure to check back later!

I love quotes!

If you haven't noticed yet, I love quotes. All quotes, even quotes about quotes! I use them in nearly all of my posts, so I hope you enjoy them and they give you something to think about.

I quote others only in order the better to express myself. ~ Michel De Montaigne

I love quotations because it is a joy to find thoughts one might have, beautifully expressed with much authority by someone recognized wiser than oneself. ~ Marlene Dietrich

The next best thing to being clever is being able to quote someone who is. ~ Mary Pettibone Poole

... and my personal favourite:

I pick my favourite quotations and store them in my mind as ready armour, offensive or defensive, amid the struggle of this turbulent existence. ~ Robert Burns

A good quote can come in handy sometimes. It helps get a point across with slightly more credibility than one might give you credit for had YOU said it first. Someday perhaps I will quote myself. If only one day I will be so wise as to write or say something "quote worthy". :o)

"And we were never being boring....

... We were never being bored." ~ Pet Shop Boys

I promised myself I would write a blog post soon then totally became sidetracked. So here it is. A post chock full of a week's worth of adventures. What a week we've had!

My nephew was married last weekend and the kids were flower girl and ring bearer in the wedding party. Alice is seasoned in the flower girl position, so it goes without saying that she did great. Jack we worried about a little, but he wore his tux and followed his sister up the aisle like a little trooper. I was quite proud.

I'm still in disbelief that I have a nephew old enough to get married, but then I remind myself that I was only 11 when he was born and that we are (sadly) getting older, so this is the natural progression. What a wonderful bride he chose for himself though. I'm very happy for both of them and wish them many years of happiness together. And lots and lots of babies! (Okay, I'd settle for one or two.)

Mid-week Brad was feeling slightly 'burned out' at work and decided to play hooky for a day, so we took the kids on a hike to a local conservation area that is home to a beautiful, natural waterfall and old growth Carolinian forest. We walked the trails, did a little fishing (but caught nothing) and hunted for fossils. We found a few trilobites and fossilized coral and had a great day.

Friday I decided to be spontaneous and packed our gear up for an impromptu camping trip. When Brad arrived home from work, we sprung it on him that we were ready to go. He didn't look overly thrilled at first but quickly warmed up to the idea. We didn't go far - just half an hour out of town - but had a wonderful time once again. We arrived around 6 pm and set up our tent just ahead of a rain storm hitting. It rained steadily all night, so we huddled in the tent, watched the rain and tried to get a good night sleep - as good as you can get sleeping in a sleeping bag on the ground, that is. Saturday morning when we awoke, the rain was over with and the sun was shining.

We started out the day with a bit of fishing in the pond and caught fish after fish after fish. Mainly Blue Gills and some little Sunfish. Alice and Jack were thrilled. After fishing, we biked over 5 kms of trails through and old growth Carolinian forest. Some of the trees were gigantic, and just beautiful! We didn't see much wildlife, unfortunately, but it was a pleasant ride just the same. In the afternoon we decided to rent a canoe and took a little paddle up the pond. Jack was thrilled to ride in the boat, but fell asleep 5 minutes into the journey. He didn't miss much, because we really didn't see too much on that trek either, save for some lily pads and a Blue Heron.

After a trip to the beach, another short bike ride and hike up another trail, we went back to our campsite and settled in for a campfire and roasted hot dogs and marshmallows. Once the kids were tucked snugly into their sleeping bags, we enjoyed the fire ourselves and soaked up the warm evening air and sounds of other happy campers.

It was hard returning home yesterday. Camping always takes me back to my childhood when we would spend our entire summer out at Jellystone park. Dad would commute to work and then come up on the weekends to be with us. Some of my best memories were made while camping. We were never bored as kids, and I don't want to hear those words from my kids either. "I'm bored...". Only boring people are bored! I have no time for boredom. :o)

On another totally unrelated note, I knew returning home from camping was going to be met with bad news. I said to Brad when we woke up yesterday morning, "I had a strange dream last night. We arrived home to a message on the phone about someone passing away. I hope your Grandma is okay..." Sure enough, yesterday evening I received a phone message about a passing. A long time family friend who I've never known as anything but "Aunt Milly" passed away yesterday morning.

She and "Uncle Gerry" were my parent's best friends for many years. Uncle Gerry is also in the hospital awaiting long term care, and I don't think will be far behind Aunt Milly in his journey to the next life. I wish them both Godspeed. They would have celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary this year, and lived independently until they both became ill in May. So heartbreaking...

I have a feeling that is the kind of summer this will be, and the next death will follow quickly. Brad's Grandmother (in her 99th year) has stopped eating and is deteriorating quickly. They have made all the arrangements in anticipation of the inevitable. Now we just wait. Not a pleasant thing to anticipate and wait for, but the ultimate journey in life, I suppose.

That's it for today. Until next time, peace!

Back to the Blog...

I'm not sure if there is anyone out there reading this, but if you are I apologize for my long absense. The fall was rough for me after dad's passing, and I just didn't feel like writing for a while. Honestly, I didn't know if anyone was even reading what I wrote so I figured, why bother?

Well, I've decided that my writing should be primarily for me. It's my outlet. I enjoy it. So here I am, back to the blog.

If you're out there, say hi. Tell me what you'd like to see me write about. Give me challenges if you like. If not, then just enjoy my random ramblings.

Stay tuned. I hope to have a new post written soon.