Friday, November 28, 2008

"Fowl" Weather

When we arrived home from the Bahamas on November 15th, it started to snow on our drive home from the airport. And kept snowing.....and it's still snowing. I've finally, reluctantly, accepted the fact that winter is here to stay. Yes, I see all the Christmas decorations and hear the music (please help me!). We've never gone away in November before, I really enjoyed it at the time, but maybe it was too much of a tease! I was *so* not mentally ready for instant winter in mid November.

Now I'm wondering about "my" turkeys. I haven't seen any turkeys anywhere since October 11. Last winter I fed 14 turkeys for the winter. They would come every single morning and spend the entire day. I could see everything they were up to (trying to stay warm and alive) from the kitchen window. At dusk they'd leave to go to wherever they were roosting. They got very, very bold, they would come RUNNING if they heard the garage door going up and would all be standing right in the entrance of the garage, jockeying for a front row position! I could get really close to them. I know they did come to trust me somewhat but I'm also very aware that starvation makes a shy bird bold. I also knew that once I started to feed them, I had to keep it up or it wouldn't be fair. I even had the dog sitter feed them if we were away, so they wouldn't miss out. I fed them cracked corn once a day, twice if it was a REALLY bad day. I don't know how they didn't freeze to death with those skinny, bony feet in the snow all winter. I watched them their pull their feet up to their bodies one foot at a time, tuck their bare heads in under a wing, jump up into low branches and sit on their feet. If there was a strip of sunlight to be had anywhere, they were in it. In a snowstorm they hunkered down until they were
white mounds. I learned to feed them BEFORE I crossed the road to get the mail, or 14 turkeys crossed with me! I would worry if less than the 14 showed up, but the core 14 always seemed to make it eventually. One morning I got a bit of a shock to find 23 of them out there! Terry said it was like "The Birds" and if I kept feeding them, we might wake up one morning and 200 of them would be staring at us! But the core 14 were the ones who stayed. Except for the MESS (turkeys poo... A LOT), I really did enjoy them. Last winter was one of the most brutal on record and I felt very sorry for them. When spring finally arrived, I was treated to the males in the flock fanning their tails and dragging their wing tips on the ground, strutting for the hens. Mating season was starting.

Much to my horror, I found out turkey hunting season was starting at the same time! Now, I'm not anti-hunting (although I will never hunt). But how completely unfair that finally, after freezing for months and barely making it through, when the sun has just started to warm them up and the snow melt, mating season begins, AFTER all of the long winter struggle they just managed to survive....let's shoot them NOW! Really, why not in the fall?? Spare them the effort and the pain of suffering through winter if you're just going to shoot them at the end of it anyways!

For whatever reason, THIS year was the first year that Ontario had a fall turkey hunting season as well as the spring season (Oct. 14-26). I hope they knew what they were doing when they decided to go ahead with that. In June, there were only three babies in the entire flock, compared to the six per hen I had seen the previous year. Later in the season, there was just a single very late born poult among the flock. I saw in the paper they did have some concerns about the double hunting season because of these observed young in flocks at this very late stage of the year. A second, late hatch had happened because so many poults had died in the spring because of the very cold/wet spring we had.

So where are they? I've been watching here, and also looking out for turkeys where I've seen other flocks when I'm driving around. I haven't seen any at all. I have to figure that the turkeys are either too dumb to remember they ate here all last winter, they're dead, or they've been moved out of their range by hunters or ? and can't/won't come back. I'm betting on the latter. I'm really going to miss them!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

45 Years Ago Today

November 22. Forty-five years ago today that John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas. No, I don't remember where I was or what I was doing when he was shot. I was six years old. What I do remember vividly is watching his funeral on TV. My mother had the ironing board set up in the room, ironing and watching. The TV was black and white. A horse drawn cart (many horses) with the casket, processions, ceremony, the little boy saluting. The little girl and her mother walking up and touching the flag draped casket. Lots of questions from me. I thought everyone's funeral was or would be on TV. People were sad and upset. But what about those kids?! Mum told me Caroline was my age. And she was...just 3 months younger. But how COULD it be that she could be only six (or almost six) and her Daddy was dead? That's the part my child-self just could not wrap my head around. The day of JFK's funeral, November 25th, was John Jr.'s third birthday. His sister Caroline turned 6 years old two days later on November 27th. What a tragedy any way you look at it.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Tuesdays with Joan; another Porky picture

On Tuesdays I visit Joan at the nursing home. We do different things, I do her nails, read to her (she can't see well enough to read anymore), look at magazines (pictures she can see no problem) and whatever else we feel like doing or talking about. Today besides nails and reading, we looked at photo albums. There were a few we hadn't looked at in a while and I found an old dog album I know I've seen several times before but not for a long time. In it I found this picture that I didn't remember. I just had to borrow it to scan! This is a picture of Can. Ch. Ridgeside Star Wars, ROMC with his handler Linda More winning Winners Dog under Mary Van Wagenen (Sea Isle Shelties). The sign says Eastern Dog Club and the date is 1980. I have no idea how many points Porky had in the U.S. Joan doesn't remember either but recognized him right away, he was a favourite of hers! I have to assume this was a Specialty or supported entry as the winners ribbon is a rosette. I know I already did a blog entry on Porky but I just HAD to post this picture!

Joan continues to amaze me. I knew she wouldn't know I was coming, and I was wondering because we were away, did it seem a long time to her? Or short? Luckily, the answer was short. She was surprised we were back. As usual, although not expecting anyone, she looked like a million. Silk blouse, jewlery, hair done, everything co-ordinated. At age 89, over 1o years after a stroke, if I could manage as much....well, I don't think I could. Some things about a person never change! Joan always looked great in her clothes and still does. She still thinks about everyone else first...when I was doing her nails, she felt spoiled and noticing my long but unpainted nails said "what about yours dear?". I've included a picture of Joan at our house from Christmas 2007. In the picture with her is her constant shadow when she is here, our 12 year old bi-black girl Ch. Shadypines Viennetta. "Netta" is *very* fickle about people and WILL NOT tolerate some people. She "puts up" with others, and a few she really likes.......and then there is Joan who she adores. Netta never leaves her side when Joan is here, even with the walker or wheelchair. Sometimes they just "know".

Sunday, November 16, 2008

It's Better In The Bahamas!

Just back from our trip to Atlantis, Paradise Island, Bahamas. We had a great time and the weather was perfect, very lucky for us as Hurricane Paloma was in the area just before we arrived, just to make things interesting! Atlantis was on my "bucket list" of places I want to visit before I kick it, and it was all I expected and more! The marine exhibits are world class. To see the Manta Rays close up was incredibly impressive. They are HUGE rays (adults can be up to 3,000 lbs.) and so most aquariums don't have the tanks required to exhibit them. The Mantas at Atlantis are the only ones on display in the Western Hemisphere. They release them into the ocean when they reach about 1,000 lbs. (lifted out by helicopter on a special "tray"). The ones we saw were 2 years old and about 850 lbs. You can't get the size impression from pictures, and close up, you can't fit them in! I've included pictures of a Moray eel (with food?) and a shark...of which there were all kinds imaginable. (Double click on any picture below for larger view).

The resort itself is really huge, many pools, incredible water slides and a "river" of rapids and currents that you can do on an inner tube. We did that, and even did a (large!) water slide on a tube where we had no idea what we were getting into until we were on it! Pushed me to my limit (not a ride person!).....whipping around down a four storey waterslide, partly in the dark so you couldn't at all tell where it was twisting or which way you were facing. I did it! And kept my breakfast down! If I were younger, I would have tried more of the slides!...(maybe...). Below are pictures of the resort from the ferry to Nassau, a view of part of the resort from our balcony (16th floor), and the Royal Towers (that we stayed in) with the "bridge room" in between (yes, that's one room).

We really liked the fine dining restaurants at the resort, in particular the Bahamian Club was as good as anywhere, with fantastic service, 4 waiters for each table!...and the best atmosphere. The Bahamian people are the friendliest we've met in the Caribbean, always smiling, ready to help, answer questions and just chat. They're fun and interesting to talk to and the accent is great! A treat that English is the official language. It's a very civilized place, a Commonwealth country like Canada except they drive on the left side of the road, and lots of roundabouts like England or Bermuda...confusing! Also strange because so many of the vechicles are American made with the steering wheels on the left like we're used to, but then other vehicles have steering wheels on the right like most countries that drive on the left have exclusively. So we had no interest in renting a car!....too much thinking required!

We went into Nassau (capital) one day (short ferry ride from Paradise Island) and bought fragrances (very cheap there) and also rum at the Bacardi store! Two big bottles for $15.00 (for both), how's that for duty free?! The main street is Bay Street and there's also an Adelaide Street, just like Toronto. Two of the biggest banks we saw were a huge Scotiabank and a Royal Bank of Canada branch.

Another nice part of the resort was the Marina Village. This has shops and restaurants and also connects to the large Atlantis Casino. The marina has many private yachts pulled up to slips. At night they're all lit up and really something to see, you can even see inside many of them. Some are HUGE. They all carry extra vessels (like speed boats, etc.). All are named, of course, with their names in lights. My favourite yacht name was "Incognit'eau". What a way to see the world!

When we arrived, at least a week AFTER the U.S. election, we were so surprised to see all these Obama/Biden signs from the airport bus window. Then, we saw these Obama bumper stickers on taxis, etc. that I had to get a picture of (as it was driving off and I'm crouched in the road!). The old Bahamian woman who saw me taking the picture of the bumper sticker on the taxi shared her feelings, saying to me "Now there will be peace in the world". Then we saw this old fishing boat that the owner had decorated with his own personal inside the boat was the same bumper sticker and the front page of U.S.A Today from November 5th taped up underneath it. In Nassau there was a whole store dedicated to Barack Obama, with t-shirts that said "Bahama for Obama" and you-name-it. It really brought home how people outside of the U.S. feel about the election.

Dogs! What did we see? All street type dogs. You know, medium/large sized (Sheltie x 2), all short haired, usually prick-eared, curled tail, usually yellow colour. Like "Selvakumar" the street dog that saved his young master from the tsunami in Sri Lanka in December 2004. The dogs that sleep while traffic is buzzing around them. Always relaxed.

And dogs, so happy to see ours when we got home! Not happy about the snowstorm we got that night nor the power failures or phone being down. It's better in the Bahamas!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Happy News!

Nothing but good news today....I woke up this morning and Terry said to me, "I have just two words...Barack Obama"!! We were pretty sure when we went to bed last night but it was so nice to have it confirmed! I couldn't be happier about it as I feel this is a positive thing for the whole world!

Then, I heard from Cynthia Charbonneau of Cynchar Shelties near Edmonton, Alberta that her girl Ch. Cynchar's Blackeyed Pea just had a litter of EIGHT puppies by our Willow Cove's Prize Patrol - "Mason". There are *SIX* girls and 2 boys!

Now, Cynthia even put on her website ahead of time "I'm hoping for all girls", and I almost choked when I saw that, because it would surely mean an all male litter for me if I were to do the same! But obviously Cynthia's luck is far better than mine and someone is listening to her! The puppies are all black of course, and all tris. Maybe that's why I never did get the black girl I really wanted, because of being reluctant to do an all black breeding. So, good for you, Cyn, for doing it and getting exactly what you hoped for (and then some!). Cynthia says some of them are even flashy! We're excited to see how they mature. Proud papa Mason will be 10 years old on February 1st, he's produced some really nice puppies and we hope Cynthia's pups follow suit! With mom of the litter being the dam of the RWD at CSSA National 2008, a bright future should await them.

This beautiful Indian summer day is only half over, but it's already a good one!