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!


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.