Remembering Summer.

Summer is a place where the view is so lovely, it gets its own frame.
The colours are so vivid, your breath gets caught in between blue and orange,
and the blue poppies take your breath completely away.

Summer is a place where magic surrounds you.

And the sky consumes you.

Winter is not summer.

to see more magic, go to http://skyley.blogspot.com/


Knock. Knock.

Who's there?

No, not me! I'm your common (but cute) garden variety Downy Woodpecker. You see me practically every time you come out onto the porch. You should get rid of the screen so can see me better...and the guy behind me. Knocking.

Yup. It's me. Pileated Woodpecker. PW for short. You can call me Woody.

 Got any food in there? Hahahaha ha! Nope.

This is fun! Food and a swing! Hahahaha ha.

Tastey, too.
Hey check out who else is hanging out today...
American Tree Sparrow!  Like your bi-coloured beak .

And your yard guardian

Pining for some nuts. In a pine tree. Hahahaha ha.

Nice little restaurant. Maybe I'll be back!
Hahahaha hah! Wonka wonka.


Shades of White and Grey

In January, in Canada, the days melt into nights melt into days...nothing is black and white and a million shades of grey are revealed.
A monochrome world that slowly shows its colours...

The magic day arrives, when the sun is blinding, the water becomes
ice and men become boys.

Colour me hopeful.
Spring will come.


We Have to Stop Meeting Like This.

I have to attend many meetings.

Yesterday, I attended  a meeting in which the first forty minutes were spent with the Chair doing all of the talking. The following, directly from my meeting  notes, is what he said:

" talking about having a meeting, what happened at the last meeting , what will happen at the next meeting, how to have a meeting, when  to have a meeting, what to do during a meeting, going through the items without doing the items, then going through the items and doing the items and who are we doing this for, do we know what we're doing and to whom are we doing it.
Any  comments?", he asked when he came up for air.

"Yes," I said. "The guy sitting  to the right of me snores when he sleeps, and the guy to the left of me left. I think the guy across from me is dead, he died of boredom."
I believe I will resign from this committee.

Note Bene:
I promise to do my best not to use the following words heretofore:


It's Not My Fault Line

 This is the view out my window early this morning. The white expanse is the Ottawa River, which forms the border between the provinces of Ontario and Quebec. This is my fault line. The odds of there being an earthquake in this area are very high, and they do, in fact, occur quite regularly. The municipal emergency planning exercises are often based on the presumption of a large scale earthquake happening. In the event that it does, it is also presumed that all six dams on the Ottawa River would be fatally damaged, and massive flooding would then occur. This view would then cease to exist.

This map shows the tectonic plates of the earth. If you clasp your hands together, and push very hard, you are simulating what tectonic plates do. Push harder, then quickly pull your hands apart. That swooshing feeling is the earthquake...it occurs when the plates separate, and then whatever's above on the earth's surface rushes in to fill the void. If it's the Rocky Mountains above the shifting plates, then the chances of major damage caused by the vibration and separation is much less than if it's water, and much more porous substances, like volcanic sand. Like exists in Haiti.
Haiti is the poorest nation in the western world. Its next door neighbour, Dominican Republic, is considered much better off - by Haitian standards at least.

See, this home has electricity, and I believe, television.

I don't think the  same can be said about this home. These are not sought out dwellings. This is a typical street scene in the Samana region of Dominican Republic. By Canadian standards, it is desperately poor too. I consider all of this from the warm comfort of my home surrounded by gadgets that make my life vastly comfortable. Tonight I will eat well, and sleep in a warm, clean bed, secure in the knowledge that tomorrow will likely offer the same creature comforts.
But before I do, I will visit  http://www.unicef.org/
and I will make a donation so that the people of Haiti may be a little more comfortable too.


Something's Happening Here

But it just ain't exactly clear...

Perhaps if I'd paid more attention in Brownies or Girl Guides I would know what kind of  animal wiggled his cute little butt across the snow, hip hop drag the tail and into the hole I go style. A mouse? A mole? A mink?
During the winter my commute to work generally takes about 15 minutes down a snowy road, bordered by trees. It is not unusual to see wildlife...deer, fox, bear, porcupine, skunk, raccoon, sable (once), beaver, otter, squirrel, coyote.  It's often a fleeting view of the animal as it races off into the woods, unless, of course, it's a porcupine who really doesn't care if you're heading his way or not,  because he knows you're not going to pick him up and try to cuddle him.
But in the dead of winter, such as the case is now, I see all sorts of evidence of animal life in the snow, and frankly, it's driving me a little nuts...look!

I think this is an owl print. The owl spots its prey, praying in the snow, not to be seen by an owl, and BAM! Owl dives down, wings outspread, grabs the poor little mouse, and flies off with lunch. That's what I think...but I could be completely wrong, because when we were learning this stuff in grade five, I was busy trying to make it look like I had breasts and pulling my sweater tight so Tommy Cavanaugh would notice me. Boy, was I concentrating on the wrong stuff! Now, check out these tracks...

Let me explain- this is an area about the size of a piece of plywood ,
so 4' x 8'. Look  at all the tracks! There's at least three different kind, and I don't have a clue who made what, or what made which, and it bothers me! I should know this stuff for some odd reason. Or I should know a track interpreter who can tell me about this party to which I wasn't invited!

This one is a larger version of the very first photo...bum chuckerucka, bum chuckerucka.. I ask myself, what animal moves like this? Bounce on bum, drag the tail. Again and again and again, creating a giant zipper in the snow. And I don't have a clue! And we're not done here yet!

So beastie # 1 went for a short spin, did a wheelie, came back and sat down. And watched while his buddy came over, said hello, and left the way he'd come. Coyotes? Wolves? Aliens?
Now THIS one I know...

It's a deer track. Definitely! And I know this because I actually saw the young deer that made the track ...as I was pulling over to take his picture, he made tracks and left.
And I THINK that this is a fox...

 It's definitely canine, and it's too small to be a big dog, and I just want it to be a fox. So be it.
I'm really not sure where this need to know comes from, but everytime I see a trail leading off into the bush, I want to stop and follow it.

I wonder where they're going, what they're doing, and what they are exactly. But I can't. I have to keep going, get to work, do stuff, and be human.
 It's my nature.


Degrees of Separation

Canada to Cuba - a five hour flight
separated by 50 degrees...

and several layers of clothing.

Visit http://skyley.blogspot.com/ for more Skywatch photos.


Paws de Deux Part Two

 She may have the smooth moves...but I yam the one youall lovemost. I wonce had a mouse in my mouf. Blechchhchcharttkh! I lik my fud in canz.

I am very cleffer. I reed many boox. I do not suffercate my humins either. Whoever made up that mith knowth nothin. Ask himin.

Ima lovablecudable. And I  have menie trix. Look!

i ROTE THis holeblog meslef. Itwas haard werk. She cudnnt do this. I cudandid. YAAaaaaaawbbnn. lof DAwson


The Paws that Refreshes

It is the dead of winter. Sigh. It is snowing. Yawn. It is dark. Double yawn. Hockey is on TV. Catruple yawn. Where are my subjects? I am in need of attention. My paw is warm. I am the Queen of Cool.

This is my throne. Humans have tried and tried to claim my throne. They never win. And yes, they always submit. To me. This is my wish.

I have lovely little black feet. See? Can you do this? Would you dare?
I can do this. I am the Queen.

You may look at me.

Now go. Fetch me a treat. The little kibbley bite that tastes like mouse. Quickly or I will go and leave you sorry you took too long.


Reading is for the Birds

For you, gentle reader, who is also a birder this will not be news.  But, for those of you who are thinking about becoming a birder, be forewarned. Being a birder means that you will also become a collector of all things birdish. Books. Artwork. Decoys. Sculptures. Carvings. CD's. DVD's. Binoculars. Tripods. Cameras. Bird Bags. Bird Magazines. Christmas Ornaments. Boxer Shorts. Socks.
There is no end to the collectibles that will likely become part of your birding life!
My personal favourite from the above (very personal) list however, is the bird books. Shorebird decoys are a close second, but books for now, reign supreme.
I have five different guides that I carry with me in the car...a Sibley's, a Stokes, a National Geographic, a Peterson's, and a Smithsonian. You just never know which one will help with the positive identification of that little brown bird with the red breast eating a worm in your garden!

The number of guides grows with every special birding trip I take, as I must also have a regional guide to the regional birds. The ring billed gull found on the east coast of Maryland must be verified as the same ring billed gull found at the Allumette Island garbage dump. Well, perhaps not exactly the same gull, but a cousin for shore sure.
I also love going to used bookstores, yard sales, and flea markets. It was at one of these that I found my favourite book:  a 1936 Birds of America, with colour plates by Louis Agassiz Fuertes and the pithiest commentary I've ever read by the likes of Edward Forbush, Herbert Job, William Finley, Nelson Nichols, George Gladden and J. Ellis Burdick!  (If ever there was a list of names that go with the job, this would be one of them!)  Back to the commentary...writing about the Scoter, Mr. Forbush states, " As food, Ducks of this genus are regarded as nourishing but not very appetizing. Some writers have gone so far as to stigmatize them as abominable; but the people of Cape Cod are able, by parboiling, etc., to make a dish of even the old birds, which, though it may "taste a little like old crow" to the uninitiated, serves as an agreeable variant to a diet of salt fish. A cultured Boston lady assures me that when she attempted to cook a Coot it drove everybody out of the house, and that she had to throw away the kettle that it was cooked in."
The entire volume is written in this manner, and I have spent many happy hours chuckling away on the couch with Forbush, Burdick , Gladden et al!

There are also lots of books about birders. The Big Year  by Mark Obmascik is a great read about people who become obsessed with their life lists. Then there's the Birder's Bedside Book of Birds, a collection of all things birdy,  Birdseed Cookies by Janis Jaquith, anything written by Pete Dunne is great, and the list goes on and on.

Old books. New books. Any books really, about birds, for birds, and by Bird.
Please consider yourself duly cautioned. And if you've read any good bird books lately, let me know!


Good-bye, Hello

Good-bye, 2009...
"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times; it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness; it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity; it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness; it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair; we had everything before us, we had nothing before us; we were all going directly to Heaven, we were all going the other way." ~ Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities.
Hello, 2010...

It's going to be a sunglasses kind of day here
on the shores of the mighty Ottawa River.

You can see  more of the world around you at http://skyley.blogspot.com/