Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Wings of Winter - Part I

Winter bird feeding is in full gear and it's been interesting to see what birds are showing up daily. There are a lot of them! Terry built a contraption for me to hang feeders and suet cake on, so that we don't have to try to get to the trees in the snow. This stand is outside the bedroom window. There's also a feeder hanging in a tree across the yard from it, with all the zooming back and forth all day, it looks like a little airport out there!

Near the end of the summer we had a pair of Cardinals show up, with one male fledgling. They are my favourite of the bigger birds, they're so beautiful. I know they're plentiful in some places but I have only ever seen just this one pair here. They are very elusive and I tried for a very long time to get any kind of decent pictures of them. It took them a while to come close to the house, but I was stopped in my tracks by this sight outside the bedroom window one morning:

I went quietly to get the camera and only got just this one shot, through the window, before he flew away. I couldn't believe it turned out.

Even more elusive was the female. When the whole family had been coming, I could tell her apart from the brownish male fledgling because of her bright pink "lipstick". That pink beak really stands out. The young one is no longer with them. I never see more than just this one pair, and I've never noticed Cardinals around here in previous years. I'd like to see more of them.

Filling up on seeds from the ground. Always in the background and very shy.


The "contraption", has room for four items, feeders or suet. We have to bring all the feeders indoors every night, or else raccoons will destroy them. A nuisance.

What's really new is we're getting Woodpeckers every day and often. I've seen both Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers, both males and females. They'll even compete for the suet and push each other off. It's a real treat to see them every day, and they're starting to get more tolerant of our presence. They'll eat from the suet, the ground and the feeders.


Female Downy


Male Downy


My favourite picture of the male Hairy in the snow!


They still look for their traditional food too.


Snagging a peanut.


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Ghost of Christmas Past

I want to wish all of our friends and family a very Merry Christmas! I wanted to post something to mark Christmas, but videos I like take too long to buffer, the canned songs, pictures or sayings weren't quite right. So, I looked around a little closer to home.

My favourite memories of Christmas are our family Christmas Eves, where we would reminisce about the past (near and far), all the laughter and nostalgia and the stories we would tell.


One year we had our cousin Linda (in the front) for Christmas. Born and raised in Florida, she had never seen snow (we couldn't quite wrap our heads around that one!). We showed her snow alright, waist deep, real Christmas snow! We couldn't believe how much she liked it. This was some time in the early 70's. My sister is in the back, I'm on the left in the blue top, our beautiful Mum is in the purple and our cousin is in the front. Tinsel on trees was big in those days as was long hair parted in the middle! We lived in a suburb of Montreal (Pointe Claire) then. I was probably around 15-16.


Christmas Eve 1970. I was 13 years old and with my constant companion, our first Sheltie, Duffy, who was born August 3, 1970. He became O.T. Ch. Grayfield MacDuff, U.D., Am. C.D.X., Bda. C.D. I still need to do a post on him one of these days. He was a very special dog.


Duffy's first Christmas (1970) and first present. Of course, being 4 months old and teething, he chewed up his new wicker bed! He was a big fan of Christmas and would open his own presents and any others you allowed him to open.



Our cat Bubbles who loved the tree and the presents underneath. He would sleep on or around the gifts and under the tree the whole time it was up.



Duffy opening his gift on what was his last or second to last Christmas. I am in my early 20's, watching my Dad open a gift. I don't think we went particularly over the top at Christmas, but this picture does make it look like a bit of a present-fest!

May all of you make many memories. Always cherish what you have now and what you have had in the past, and look ahead to the good things to come!

MERRY CHRISTMAS !!





Sunday, December 20, 2009

Tourists In Our Own Town

We recently visited the ROM (Royal Ontario Museum) and today visited the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO), in downtown Toronto. Yes, I guess it's true we are big on the acronyms here!

We went to the ROM to see the Egyptian exhibit, and also the Natural History and the precious gems exhibit (now gone). The ROM is huge and would take many, many visits to take it all in.


The new addition to the ROM, called the Crystal, apparently it made the top 10 list of the ugliest buildings in the world. I don't think it's that bad at all, I suppose it's because it was kind of tacked on to an older, traditional type building. Inside and outside, I think it looks quite nice.


Inside the ROM (non-Crystal part).

Today we headed down to the AGO, to see the King Tut exhibition, it was a FREEZING cold day. We half ran, half walked from the subway station, a day where your eyeballs feel like they are freezing in your head.


The huge statue of the jackal-headed Egyptian mythological god Anubis, associated with mummification and the afterlife.





Picture of the huge statue of King Akhenaten. I thought this statue in real life was gorgeous, I loved the facial features of this Pharaoh. His wife was Queen Nefertiti, her very famous bust (not on exhibit) shows a similar style.


Golden leopard head decoration from a ritual robe. No pictures were allowed of the actual exhibits, these are pictures of the pictures outside.


A walkway inside the AGO, pictures allowed here. A beautiful building, we also visited the Canadian Group of Seven gallery.

The King Tut exhibit was quite good, although pricey! We're getting stoked.

Went for lunch at Yonge-Dundas Square. Toronto still has some electric streetcars, that's one in the background. No snow but frigid cold.


How cold was it?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Another Day At The Dog Show

I went back to the Credit Valley show yesterday, but being Saturday, there were so many more people there that I knew, I have to admit that I spent most of the day socializing! However, I did take some pictures, far fewer than I did on Friday, but I had many more useable ones. So, I did learn something and improve, you can't ask for more than that.

I even got pressed into service to show a Sheltie girl who needed just one point to finish. As her handler had just won Winners Dog, she felt the bitch might stand a better chance with someone else. I borrowed a jacket on the spot and had fun winning WB and then a 4 pt. Best of Winners to solidly finish her in style!

I really enjoy watching beautiful dogs of any breed. These first two below, although not breeds that really interest me in general, are so stunning they just crank your head around and hold your attention. Really gorgeous! Both of these dogs won their groups:







The Aussie girl below really caught my eye but wasn't used in the Group either day I was there. It didn't change my high opinion of her:















It's always a treat when you find one in your own breed that you would happily take home. Methinks she would fit in here quite nicely!



Friday, December 11, 2009

Credit Valley Candids

I headed over to the Credit Valley show today, this show is held about 15 minutes from home, so it gives me my "all breed" fix for the year. Last year it seemed so sparsely attended, this year the entry was indeed up somewhat.

I took quite a few pictures of dogs, playing around with my camera, and was not really that happy with what I got, overall. I didn't want to use a flash, but that wasn't really the problem. I'm heading back tomorrow so I'll see if I can correct what I think my problems are. I did get just a few decent shots.

These two pretty Sheltie Specials girls caught my eye:



(this one is a Mason daughter so a little bit of prejudice perhaps)! She was BOS.


A Virgo dachshund (ML), the same Virgo as Virgo Shelties!


These below three dogs all won their respective groups. I guess I kind of spotted them too.

















Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Let It Snow!

The first snow has finally arrived, and it's still snowing. Might as well make it a good one!

I find it harder and harder to get into the Christmas spirit every year, I can't handle the Christmas decorations and music in stores that seem to come out the day after Halloween. But I have to say that snow really does help!

One of the very best things about being retired is being able to plan around snowstorms and not having to go out when the snow is coming down. Especially the first storm when everyone seems to have forgotten how to drive on snowy, icy roads. A sweet luxury.


I tried to take a shot of the house from the same vantage point as the previous post just a week ago.

Polar Expedition. Tiffany, Sizzle and Roxy. All my Shelties love the snow.

Holly making snow angels! ....a popular activity around here.


Is it better to shake it off or wear it like a coat?




Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A November To Remember

According to the Toronto Star, this is the first November in 162 years (since they started recording this kind of thing), that there has been no snow at all in Toronto. It has been quite dry and sunny as well, so it seems like the longest fall ever. Well deserved after our non-summer! I'm sure that now that I've put this in writing and posted it, we are in for snow up to our chins! Snow is fine if you don't have to go anywhere, and has one pretty big advantage - clean dogs and clean floors!

I decided to take a walk with the dogs and get some pictures of this December 1st day.


Still very green, although no leaves on the trees. Holly is actually sitting between the two trees on the hill.


Many of the plants are sprouting in confusion, like this orange day lily. Oops.


Sizzle jumping for joy.


Roxy, followed by Tiffany and Sizzle, revving up to "full out". Roxy never walks anywhere and entices one and all to join in.


The blacks. Netta and Mason. Mason is the dog Netta is most fond of, he dotes on her and reads her well. A cute older couple!


Holly being Holly.


Sunday, November 22, 2009

Woodpeckers

I was really surprised to find not just one, but two Woodpeckers trying out both of the feeders, not only that but two different types of Woodpeckers.


The larger Hairy Woodpecker (male) on the ground, pecking away at seed, although in Woodpecker pile-driver fashion. Really odd. He went at the small bird tube feeder so hard, he broke a piece off of it.

The little Downy Woodpecker female in the tree, she tried both feeders several times, as well as pecking away at the bark. They look a lot alike, but there is a considerable difference in size and also in bill size. Both of them have odd markings around their eyes which gives them a strange expression.

I have never seen them at the feeders before or since, and it was a bit of a gong show to try to get decent pictures of both of them without scaring one or both of them away.

I'm hoping that we see more of them in the winter.

We had another visit by a Pileated Woodpecker yesterday, very brief but impressive!




Friday, November 20, 2009

How Do I Love Thee?

Let me count the ways.

Terry driving home after a long day at work, in the dark, on the backroads.

The phone rings.

"There's a deer been hit by a car on Patterson Sideroad, it's alive, on the side of the road, head is raised, tail is waving, but it's severely injured, it can't stand up. I turned the car around, the deer wants to run, but it can't move. What should we do?"

"I'll call the OPP (Ontario Provincial Police), they'll come out and deal with it."

"Okay, should I wait?".

"No, it'll be okay."

I call the OPP, they are on their way.




An act of mercy.

Let me count the ways.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Lest We Forget

Remembrance Day. In recent years, it has taken on even more significance. I think that's a good thing. It's even referred to as Remembrance Week now, November 5-11, instead of just November 11th.

Almost everyone's family has been touched by War in one way or another. My grandfather fought in WW I. My father-in-law fought in World War II.

It's important to remember. To figure out what happened and why. To be and stay aware and involved with what goes on in the world.

My father-in-law wrote a book about his Regiment in the War, called "7th Canadian Reconnaissance Regiment in World War II". It was published in 1948. It follows his Regiment from Montreal to England, and through France, Belgium, Holland and into Germany. I recently pulled it out and looked through it and re-read parts of it.

I'd like to share some of it for Remembrance Day. The parts in quotes/italics are his words taken directly from the book.


The inside front plate of the book.

The dedication:

"This book is dedicated to those members of the Regiment who paid the supreme sacrifice that we might return home to live in peace. God grant we may."

There are many picture plates in the book. I've included a few of them here, click for a larger view.





"FIRST CHRISTMAS - The Regiment felt its first general wave of homesickness when a dismal rain heralded the first Christmas they were to spend away from home. Of course, dinners had been laid on for the men, Sergeants and the Officers in the true, traditional manner of any Regiment in the Canadian Army, and this went a long way towards relieving the ailment."

"So ended the Regiment's activities in France and, as they left the following day for a new unheard of battle area called "The Scheldt", they took with them many heart-warming memories of that country. All through the battles the F.F.I. or "Underground", had given every assistance possible and, even though sometimes their villages were wrecked, the natives had welcomed their "liberators" with everything in their hearts, pantries and wine cellars. To pay tribute to the French, it is fitting to include, here, a letter received by Lt.-Col. Lewis shortly after the close of this phase:-

Dear Col. Lewis,

It was felt that the following information might be of interest to you.

Several days ago, while this company was moving forward, we noticed one of your armoured cars knocked out and, opposite it, two graves. On inspection, we discovered that these were the graves of two Troopers of your Unit.

A day or so later, our C.Q.M.S., on his way back for rations, passed the same spot. The graves were piled high with the most beautiful flowers imaginable and railings were being constructed around them. He learned, from a conversation with two civilians, that the village had decided to erect a memorial over the graves in memory of the two men and, also, of all the Canadians who had lost their lives in clearing the Hun from France.

We also learned that, today, the villagers turned out in a body and a procession, headed by the local dignitaries, proceeded to the site, where High Mass was held by the Parish Priest.

We thought that you might like to inform the families of the two men of the villagers' action as it might help to alleviate, to some extent, their sorrow at the loss they have suffered.

With best regards, I am,

Yours sincerely,

A.H. Lowe, Maj. O.C., H.Q., Def. Coy (RMR)"

Holland


"During the night, the infantry, after a short, very bitter engagement managed to secure a small bridgehead and the sappers went to work putting up another of their famous Baily bridges. Sufficient praise will never be given to the Field Companies of the Royal Canadian Engineers for their bridgebuilding efforts. The work was invariably done under shellfire and the infantry, Recce and Tanks would watch in amazement as the sappers hustled about their business absolutely oblivious to the whistles and crashes."

"The day before the war ended found "B" Squadron trying desperately to get to Emden through an absolute maze of canals; "C" Squadron waiting for the Engineers to build a bridge so that they could carry out their orders to push on to the North Sea and "A" Squadron, the most northerly troops of the 3rd Canadian Division, having a stiff fight with the enemy as they held the only two bridges over the Ems Jade canal giving access to Aurich. They had got up there after a day of brilliant manoeuver, only to find the old story of blown bridges covered by enemy fire. Unfortunately, though they had taken some 100 prisoners that day, they suffered casualties, themselves, losing Cpl. Morrison and Sgt. Dabbs to the Honour Roll. Shortly after this incident occurred, an envoy from Aurich appeared under a flag of truce and was conducted to 8th Brigade Headquarters. A few minutes later, the orders were given not to move on any further.

Cease Fire - Although the B.B.C. announced that the Germans had ceased fighting in Northwestern Germany the previous evening, the "cease fire" was not given until 8:00 o'clock on the morning of the 5th of May. The order transmitted over the 60-odd wireless sets in the Regiment was met with mingled emotions. Some were jubilant, others felt rather empty. Still others asked, "What can this message mean, sir?". It was unbelievable - the war was over."

The Final Dismiss at the Armoury, 29 December, 1945

"Finally, on Dec. 22nd the Unit boarded the Queen Elizabeth and set sail for Canada, arriving in New York on Dec. 27th. It was a wonderful sight to see the activity of the great American harbour as the Lizzie steamed up the Hudson. There were bands playing amidst the thunder of the hundreds of ships' whistles which were continuously blowing. On the train up from New York to Montreal final orders were given by Col. W.C. Bowen in regards to the dress and formation that would be required in the final parade at the Armoury. As the troopers marched into the Armoury at Cote des Neiges to the strains of "Men of Harlech" many of them found it difficult to keep the tears out of their eyes. After such a long family history it is no wonder that the final command "Dismiss" given by Col. Bowen was met with such a mixture of emotions. However, the Regiment was quickly forgotten as the soldiers ran to meet their loved ones."


My father-in-law, Captain Walter G.H. Pavey, 7th Canadian Reconnaissance Regiment (17th Duke of York's Royal Canadian Hussars).

I never met my grandfather who fought in World War I, as he died the day after I was born. I never met my father-in-law either, he died suddenly at the age of 51 years (younger than I am now). However, I hear and feel him in the words of his book. These are the two people I would most want to meet, if I could.

Lest we forget.