Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Two Moose! (or the same moose twice!)

We just got back from Algonquin Park, after a very VERY cold stay in Kearney Lake campground. One night got as low as 5 degrees, possibly even 3 degrees, if you believe the rumours.
We stayed warm, and mostly went hiking since it was too cold to swim. We discovered some really REALLY great sites to try booking for next year, but I won't give those away now - tune in next year to find out if we got them!
For this stay we were at site 159 in Kearney Lake campground, it was a pretty decent site, despite its proximity to the vault toilets - this only proved to be a problem the day we packed up to leave, methinks the wind must have changed direction that day.
We hiked Spruce Bog, Booth's Rock and Big Pines trails. Booth's Rock was a great trail, we ended up on top of this big rocky cliff, I'll try to post some pictures of that soon.
Ender had a blast, it is rarely too cold for him to swim, and yesterday, Don even went in with him (avec neoprene, mind you) The two of them had found a suitable jumping rock, and they both took a few flying leaps into Lake of Two Rivers. Unfortunately, yesterday was the only gorgeous day we saw, but we had already made up our minds to leave a day early, next time we won't be so eager to get out of there.
Okay, and now for the moose. We saw a moose on two separate occasions (and two separate times)at the side of Highway 60. Now, the second moose looked suspiciously like the first, so we think maybe we ended up seeing the same girl twice. She was about the size of a horse, with nice beigey-grey ears. Both times she was going in for a dip at the water's edge.
The thing you need to know about looking for moose along Highway 60 is that you don't necessarily need to look for moose. What you are looking for is a throng of cars, along both sides of the highway, and people out of their cars armed with cameras and binoculars. Just determine the direction they are looking in, turn your attention in the same direction and voila, wildlife.
It's that simple.
We did notice that many of the leaves had started to turn - I don't blame them - thanks to the cold temperatures.
We also found a great dog beach at Canisbay Lake campground - Ender met a couple of females there that were as determined as Ed that Ender was beneath them. They both put him in his place quite a few times. In all fairness, Ender had been playing at the beach before they showed up for about two hours, so he had already used up quite a bit of energy before he was forced to defend himself. This dog beach has a beautiful view of the lake, just blue water surrounded by hills of trees, as far as you can see.
I think that's what I like so much about Algonquin Park - the fact that from almost any point in the park, we could see an undulating growth of trees surrounding us.
And may I also send my compliments to my chef, Don. Over our campfire, he made mouthwatering steaks and pork chops - and for breakfast, he made omelettes, hash browns, and fluffy pancakes! YUM The food is another of my favourite parts of camping!

If you have never been to Algonquin Park, I strongly suggest it. It's the best place I've been in Ontario - but remember your mittens and toque! (I'm not kidding, I wished I had brought mine for this trip!)

That's all for now...

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

And Now we are Thirty

Well, what can I say - I've had a birthday that has launched me well beyond any misconception of still being a kid - I've hit 30.
When you're a twenty-something, you still think of yourself as young-ish, students are in their 20's for crying out loud. When you're twenty, you still have a close enough connection to the educational system, albeit the tertiary education system, but even that remains as a tenous last bastion of youth.
Now that I'm thirty, I get the impression that I should be a grown-up... you always think of things you'll do "...when you grow up..." and then WHAM! Someday being grown up just slaps you in your slowly settling ass and says "HA! I'm here -you're all grown up now!"
Now? So fast? (...are we there yet?)

All those years I spent trying to be so grown up and mature - fighting against my waning childhood with all my might. Now I just want it back. I don't think I want to grow up. And if it's happened to me already, well then, I just won't accept - I'll call Do over! home free, and no touchbacks.

Is it because I haven't done any of those typical "grown up" things, like get married, have a honeymoon and have kids? Is that why I don't feel like a grown up? I have a house - and my own little family ("...oh there are five beings in my family...") a very significant significant other, two cats and a dog.

Does anyone ever truly "feel" like a grown up? I wonder, if all those other grown ups out there still think of themselves as big kids, still loving life and trying to treat every day as an adventure? There is no way for me to know, I can only hope that they do.

For my thirtieth birthday, I spent the day swimming up north in Georgian Bay, jumping off high rocks (and low rocks) into the water with my boyfriend and my dog - I sure felt like a kid, even if the concept of time says differently.

Here's to the inner kid in all of us, and may they never grow old.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Turning Anger to Action

Sacre Vache, that's a hard movie to watch... hard to watch, but I hope EVERYBODY sees it!
We went to see Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 yesterday - and I have never had a movie affect me in this way. I was so angry, and sad and frightened by the whole thing, and then angry some more. It was stupefying - I came out of there feeling like there was nothing to say. I think I needed some time to digest everything that had been burned into my brain.
Kudos to you, Mike, this is a really moving film - I certainly hope that it moves people to action, because that is exactly what I felt leaving there - I felt that I have to DO SOMETHING! And, as though he knew this was the feeling the film would elicit, Mike in all his wisdom chose to display his own website url beneath the text "Do Something"
So, I urge anyone who is a sentient being to see the movie, visit Michael's website, and Do Something.
Now that it's the morning after seeing the film, and I have had time to process what I saw, I have realized that all those feelings of anger and sadness and helplessness that first hit me watching the movie have turned to feelings of hope. If we can all get just as angry, and use that energy for something positive, we will be able to make a difference.
And it doesn't apply to just this scenario - everything that you feel passionate about, be it animal welfare, the environment, healthcare, child labour - you name it - if you are passionate enough to feel angered by something, you have the energy to put to good use and bring about change.

Friday, July 02, 2004

Fair Trade

Have you ever stopped to think about the people around the world who provide us with the everyday goods we take for granted in our indulgent lifestyles?

Many of the items we buy were manufactured, produced or grown in a country other than our own – and in many cases this means that the people doing the labour to provide us with these products can’t even afford to buy what they produce. Everything from coffee to chocolate, to cotton, to electronic equipment can be produced in various countries around the world at a fraction of the labour it would cost to produce here. Of course this is good news for big business – but is it good news for the people who are being paid those fractions of wages?

And there are issues outside of low wages as well - many companies have little care for the ecosystems they operate in, particularly if the head office is in a different continent. Animals and environments can also be endangered by big business in the third world.

As consumers, we all make choices everytime we purchase a product or service. Here are some websites you can check out to become a more educated consumer:

Click here to go to the Oxfam Canada site

Click here to go to the Rainforest Alliance site

And this is just a start - the more you investigate, the more you'll see how each of us has the power to make educated and responsible choices to make a difference.

Friday, June 25, 2004

In Dog we Trust

A Dog's unconditional love saves the day!

I found this story very interesting, although not entirely surprising. Thanks to my dog and two cats, I have the privelege of three amazing inter-species friendships. I know that when I get home after a bad day, there are three warm and furry bodies who are always happy to see me, and they cheer me up instantly.
It is unfortunate that this man felt compelled to plan such an act, but I'm grateful that he met a happy pooch who turned him from his planned course of action.

**I posted this in June 2004 - but now the link for the news story is no longer active. It really was an amazing story - a man had entered a park armed with a gun, and had planned to shoot people randomly in the park, when he met a dog. He stopped to pet the dog, and the time he spent with said dog completely changed his mind about committing the crime he had planned. No wonder animals are used in therapy!

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Global Tribe

At times, I find that driving in rush hour traffic is an exhausting exercise in patience. As evidenced by the actions of some drivers, I’m not the only one who feels frustration at the wheel.

It seems that we feel anonymous and important while in our cars, like no one can really see us behind that clear glass. Each car becomes a microcosm, bowing to the command of those inside, their next immediate destination being an urgent objective.

I see this is just one of the many ways our loss of community manifests itself. Once we are enclosed in these capsules of metal, glass and plastic, we are immediately defensive – some go as far as becoming suddenly offensive.

When people are broken down into the individual units of self and/or family, they seem not to identify with the needs and rights of others. The objectives of my tribe become so much greater than those of your tribe, because we are separate.

Our modern world does much to single people out. For example, in a city setting, just look at how hard it is to meet and befriend your neighbors – people aren’t interested in getting to know their immediate community anymore. They have friends and family they can chat remotely with, either by phone or email/internet. As another example, jump on a city bus or train. Even if you see the same people every day for a lengthy commute, very rarely will people talk to each other, let alone even make eye contact

These are situations that seem to arise more in the cities, where people are forced to lead lonely existences in the midst of greatly concentrated populations. Isn’t it unsettling that the place where people can be the loneliest is also the place where they can be surrounded by a sea of bodies, jostling and hurrying about?

It is also in a city setting where you will find a more severe lack of respect for the safety and property of others. This is clear by looking at the number of collisions on busy highways, break-ins, theft, vandalism and assaults.

I am a strong believer that those who can’t suggest a remedy should not complain about any issue. I do admit that the scope of this problem is so huge that it isn’t likely to be solved by a few bits in a blog. I do have a couple of suggestions though:
A) If we all start to think of ourselves and others as belonging to the same great tribe, we might yet see some difference.
B) If you start to build your community from the people you find around you, others may follow your example.

Next time you’re stuck grumbling in traffic, just start to wonder about the destinations of all of the other drivers around you – and and you will see that in the minds where they reside, all of those other goals and deadlines just as important as yours.

Friday, June 18, 2004

?Fiction #763

Em lives one street over from me, and her grandmother has lived there with her family for as long as I can remember. Em and I have been friends for year, and all of the kids in the neighborhood know and love Em’s grandmother – we all call her Nana.

Nana used to to bake us wonderful treats; she made the most amazing fudge on the face of the planet. But when she started feeling sick, she began to confuse her recipes. At first, we thought she was inventing wild and wonderful creations – she had never added cereal to her fudge before, and that was pretty good. The cookies with jujubes in them were somewhat odd, but not totally distasteful. It was after the appearance of birdseed in the next batch of fudge (that and the first of many of Nana’s random disappearances) that concerned Em’s parents, and they took Nana to see the doctor.

Since then, Nana just hasn’t been herself. She has been restless, and she doesn’t know what to do with herself. Em’s Mom says she spent a lot of time sitting in the garden chattering to the birds. When Nana lived in her own house, Em said she always had a pet bird. Em’s gigantic gray cat, Zeus had kept Nana from getting a bird since she moved here. Now that Zeus was getting old, Em’s Dad doubted he could do any harm to a bird, so they decided to bring one home for Nana.

I was at Em’s for supper the night they told Nana about this idea. We were surrounded by a mosquito haze in the back yard while we had watermelon seed spitting contests - - Nana was very good at this. Em’s Dad broke the news to Nana, and I have never seen an old person so excited, she was like a little child. Her eyes were dancing and she could hardly contain herself. She immediately began a list of names, claiming that, “Of course you can never name a canary before you meet her, but it’s reasonable to have a few names on hand if you’re going to meet a bird who will need a name.”
These were the names on the list:
Sugar cube

The next night, as soon as I finished supper, I raced to Em’s house to meet Nana’s new bird. Em’s parents were going to take Nana to pick up the bird when they finished work that night.

I bounded up the front steps, and paused before I pressed the doorbell. From inside I could hear the canary’s song. Em came to the door, but she looked disappointed. She told me that Nana had taken a bus to the pet store that day while everyone was out and came home with the canary on her own.

Since Nana was so thrilled with her new friend, they decided that she had just been too anxious to wait until everyone came home that day; they just smiled sweetly when they watched the old woman and her new friend. Zeus seemed mildly interested in the new family member, and he hopped up on Nana’s lap to peer into the cage.

Nana had named the bird Sapphire, and the two of them quickly became inseparable. She would put Sapphire’s cage in the garden and chat outside with her all day, and well into the evening. “What a lovely day, eh, little Sapphie? What do you suppose those sparrows are on about over there?”

Every night, Em’s Mom would put Nana and Sapphire to bed, tucking Nana in and placing Sapphire’s cage on the dresser in Nana’s room. The last thing she’d do before closing the door was drape an old shawl over Sapphire’s cage so she wouldn’t interrupt Nana’s much needed sleep.

After about a week, Nana had changed Sapphire’s name to Saffron, claiming it had never been Sapphire, that Saffy was short for Saffron, “…Who would name a canary Sapphire anyway…” she’d exclaim.

Two weeks later, Nana went out again and came home with another canary, this one she named Filbert. Em’s parents decided that two birds shouldn’t be much more work than one, so it was okay to let her keep it. Nana sat between the two cages, twittering happily to the birds, with fat Zeus smiling lazily in her lap.

But as time wore on, Nana would make more trips to the pet store, each time returning with a new friend. There was a Clyde, a Bunch, and an Edna, among others. It seemed that while Nana was out for a walk, she’d decide she wanted a canary as a pet – and completely forget about her growing collection at home. Em said this was part of Nana’s sickness. Nana did seem embarrassed the first couple of times this happened, but as time went on, she didn’t seem to notice. She’d simply decide she wanted a bird, and upon returning home with it, she’d cheerfully introduce it to the rest of her aviary – usually changing some of the names with each introduction.

Because of this, almost our entire class had pet canaries – we even had two in our classroom. Because all of the kids liked Nana so much, they all wanted to help Em’s family find homes for all of Nana’s canaries.

One week, Nana brought home five separate canaries, and Em’s family hadn’t been able to find new homes for them fast enough. Em had put up posters at school, but the number of families looking for a free canary was seriously dwindling.

It was that week that Em came over to tell me that Nana had died. She had died quietly in her sleep, and Em’s Mom had discovered her when she went into the room to wake Nana and her birds for breakfast. Em says it’s how she would have wanted to go, surrounded by birds. When they uncovered the cages, Em said the birds sang softly for the rest of the day.

They decided to keep the last five canaries, in memory of Nana.

Zeus didn’t seem to mind.

Sunday, June 13, 2004


Check out this link for an entertaining read.

Friends and Fellowbloggers

Click here to go to Endothermal's blog

The most fabulous barefeet of all, my bella Lucy.  Posted by Hello


Ahhh, summer has arrived at long last. I took a trip to the Dominican in April, thinking it would "kickstart" my summer, but it only left me pining for the heat while the confused Canadian spring fizzled itself out. Even now, we have not yet acheived that claustrophobic, drippy-humid heat of high summer, I'm already in full summer mode.
...and it's not just me.
As soon as the temperature rises for a few days, we are quick embrace everything summer. I can't tell you how many chilly nights I've shivered while eating an ice cream cone, because, dogdammit, the snow had melted and the temperature had risen to above 15 degrees celsius! And how many of us have flung ourselves into a lake so cold we could only swim for about 10 minutes before our teeth started shattering and our lips turned blue - just because it's "summer?"
I'm certain this summer frenzy begins with the annual liberation of toes and soles everywhere. Think about it, the second you get your toes in shape for sandal weather, you don't want to wear anything but. I was shopping the other day, and the salesgirl offered me socks, "...they're 3 for 10 dollars..." Poor girl, I just looked at her and told her I didn't plan on needing any new socks for about three months.
In Canada, we spend most of the year with our feet bound up in socks (some of us wear LAYERS of socks) shoes, boots - - and don't get me wrong, I simply adore footwear! But there is something very liberating and calming about setting your feet free for a season.
I propose we celebrate this emancipation with a national holiday - national barefoot day! A day for all of us to spend with grass peeking up between our toes, or digging holes into sand with our feet (and for eating ice cream while snuggling into a cozy sweater!)
We don't typically think very much about our feet, and being barefoot in the summer is about much more than wearing pretty sandals or hanging out at the beach. Nor is it about the hottest new shades of nailpolish, or about donning toe rings and ankle bracelets. The feeling we get when we sink our toes into lush, cool grass, or hot sand allows us to confirm our connection to the earth. Also, by allowing yourself to enjoy this simple pleasure, you give yourself the time to be carefree, and childlike one more time.
So pick grass with your toes, splash in the water, run in the sand, play footsies, do a cartwheel on the lawn, and simply enjoy.
Free your feet and your mind will follow.