Thursday, February 28, 2013

February Morning

Here's what we woke up to this morning, the result of 2 days of snow.

The early morning light was quite blue.

The plows were on top of everything: so dependable!

BlaBlaMeter - how much bullshit hides in your text?

Wondering about the quality of your writing? Copy your excerpt (they suggest a minimum of five sentences) into a white field, hit check, and bingo!
Find it here.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Sunday, February 24, 2013


“Solitude matters, and for some people it is the air that they breathe.” Susan Cain

Friday, February 22, 2013

Global Warming?

This is a pretty amazing video, though it gave me nightmares after I watched it. I just wish the location and people in the video were mentioned. See if you can spot the marine life in the upheaval.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

They Draw and Cook

I love the way, in the last post that art was incorporated into an audio interview. It brought to mind a website I recently came across called "They Draw and Cook".

Nate Padavick and Salli Swindell are a brother and sister design and illustration team who came up with this unique idea of combining art and cooking. Read more about them here.

The site is well set up. One of the first things you notice is that you can submit a recipe and that one artist will be chosen every month and awarded $100. You can browse through recipes by title, artist's name, location or ingredients or you can click on the world map and find recipes from all over the world. Such fun!

The recipes are so creative. Here are a few, but go and browse for yourself!

Dreams of Turkey - Kebab<span class='title_artist'> by Nuri Keli</span>
Dreams of Turkey - Kebab
Nuri Keli
            Atlanta, GA


Knedle with Plums<span class='title_artist'> by Ewa O Neill</span>
Knedle with Plums, Ewa O Neill  Poznan, Wielkopolska, Poland

Columbian Buñuelos<span class='title_artist'> by Marcela Vargas</span>
Columbian Buñuelos
Marcela Vargas
            Vancouver, Canada

Vareniki<span class='title_artist'> by Olga Kiselyova</span>
Olga Kiselyova
             Irkutsk, Russia

I find myself looking for the most colourful recipes! It's slightly addictive!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

"It is a Blessing to Get Old"

In September 2011 Terry Gross interviewed late author Maurice Sendak on NPR's Fresh Air. The clip below is the last 5 minutes that moved Christoph Niemann so deeply that he decided to accompany it with illustrations. Sendak's final book, Bumble-Ardy, was published the same week as the interview. Senkak died in 2012, a great loss.

I found this gem through Janet Somerville's blog and I hope she won't mind that I have passed it on.

Monday, February 18, 2013


Now that we are well into 2013 it's time to think about what sort of anniversaries will be celebrated this year.

Let's start off with Jane Austen: 200 years since the publication of Pride and Prejudice. The city of Bath, where the Austen family lived from 1800 to 1806, celebrates Jane Austen with a September festival every year, but this year there are extra events.

On January 28, the exact date of publication, there were several events in Bath, including a 12-hour live-streamed-on-the-internet read-a-thon with people taking turns to read aloud from the famous novel. More information here.

The Royal Mail has had a set of 6 2013 stamps designed to celebrate Jane Austen, one of which is pictured above.

Lighthouse'Then there's the 500th Anniversary of arrival of Ponce de Leon on the east coast of Florida. If you will be going to Florida in 2013 you can look here for special events to be held across the state.

The wonderful historic city of St. Augustine, fort and all, will be celebrating 450 years and also has many special plans for interested visitors to take part in.

At left is the famous St. Augustine lighthouse, with 219 steps to the top where there is a fabulous view of the city and surrounding areas.

Other anniversaries:

  • 150th Anniversary of the London Underground
The trains used to be coal fired and the original lamps in the stations were gas! And, of course, everyone remembers how useful as bomb shelters during WWII the stations were, set so far beneath the surface.
There are sure to be more Anniversaries to remember. Let me know if you think of or come across any.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Canada Reads

Canada Reads just concluded this week on CBC Radio . Moderated by radio host, Jian Ghomeshi, over the course of four days, five well-known Canadians each defended the Canadian book he or she felt to be superior to the others. One was eliminated each day by voting among the group of five.

The last book standing on Day 4 was Lisa Moore's February, a fictional account of the time around the Ocean Ranger oil rig disaster off the coast of Newfoundland, the result of a snowstorm on Feb. 15, 1982. Perfect timing!

The People's Choice Award went to Richard Wagamese's Indian Horse.

I'm looking forward to reading both of these books. More info about them and the other three books can be found here.

Here's an audioclip of a post-Canada Reads interview with Lisa Moore, the author of February and Trent McClellan who defended it.

On Friday, after Canada Reads was all over, Jian Ghomeshi opened his radio show "Q" with a passionate monologue about Canadian literature and our identity as Canadians. Here it is:

More about Eagles

For the past few years I have enjoyed watching the pair of eagles who live at 2325 Siewers Spring Rd. in Decorah, Iowa, 80 ft. high in one of the cottonwood trees there at the Fish Hatchery. They are experienced parents and in each of the past 2 years, anyway, have laid and hatched 3 eggs. The eaglets all fledged successfully. Sadly, though, last year two of the three fledglings were electrocuted on ungrounded hydro poles in the area.

Photo: Both P's on the Y, D, in front, vocalizing to M
Eagle pair on the Y-branch at the old nest

Photo: P [aka parent] lands
Female Eagle on the old nest

This year the eagle parents have started to build a new nest. Unfortunately, the cameras are still at the old nest. Switching the cameras to the new nest would be way too disruptive to the broody pair and, besides, nobody is quite sure yet which of the nests the eagle parents will choose this year.

Photo: 02-07-13 - A long distance view of the new "yonder" nest with Mom and Dad both in the nest.  (Thanks again, Jim, for keeping us updated with photos of them in their other nest, we really appreciate it!)
New nest

Photo: 02-07-13 - Mom and Dad working on their new "yonder" nest.
Closer view of mom and dad working at the new nest

The eggs are usually laid starting in the 3rd to 4th week of February, so the eagles are being closely watched by the folks at the Raptor Resource Project who place and monitor the cameras and eagles.  
All of the Decorah Eagles "community" have mixed feelings: glad for the eagles that a new season of chick-rearing is beginning and yet, sad that we may not be able to see the whole process up close as in previous years. On the other hand, watching the eagle family took many hours that we will now be able to put to other uses.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Hurricane Hazel

This is a tribute to a remarkable woman who must be one of the finest city mayors there is. Hazel McCallion.
Hazel has been mayor of Mississauga for the last 34 years. Many people thought she wouldn't run in the 2010 Municipal Election, but she did and won again. People all over the Greater Toronto Area appreciate her non-partisan up-front attitude and her overt honesty. Not only that, but she's a good sport, in the literal sense, lacing up her hockey skates for a turn around the ice whenever she can.
Hazel was born in the Gaspé region of Quebec in 1921. She married Sam McCallion who she met at church in Toronto in 1951. Together, they raised 3 children. He died in 1997 and Hazel carried on.
Yesterday, February 14, was Hazel McCallion's birthday. She celebrated it quietly this year with family and friends.
Happy Birthday Mayor McCallion!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day!

Valentines from Space

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from the ISS via Chris Hadfield and Twitter
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from space, June 1, 2011
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from the ISS, January 25, 2013

More Boxer Beauty

GCH Winfall I Dream Of Style
Isn't she elegant? Best of Breed and third in the Working Group at the Westminster Kennel Club Show. Lucky girl, she has seven owners. She's a mature 7-year old and in fine condition.
Guess what! She was last year's Best of Breed too:


The 5-year old dog below was chosen Best of Opposite Sex.
GCH Hi-Tech The King Of Sherry Shoot Jp

Saturday, February 9, 2013

The Day after a Winter Storm

This afternoon my snowshoes, my camera and I headed away from the roar of snowplows and snow blowers into the quiet of the afternoon on the golf course. In some places I could still see the faint imprints of my tracks from yesterday afternoon.

It was sunny and bright and about -7C. Perfect in other words.

Some XX skiers had been out this morning.
And a four-legged animal - coyote? - had also been out before me.
The trees were loaded with snow.
And there were a few icicles here and there.
The snow was very sculptural in places...
Can you see the sparkles in the snow? Little jewels.
Maybe not, but, trust me, the sparkles were amazing!
I passed a family of stumps wearing winter hats.
And slender weeds, laden down.

I even met myself in a forest.

Eventually the shadows lengthened...

And it was time to take off the snowshoes and head indoors. The end of a perfect day. 


Friday, February 8, 2013

ISS: Is Somebody Singing?

A collaboration between Chris Hadfield at the ISS, International Space Station and Ed Robertson of the Bare Naked Ladies with the help of the Wexford Gleeks. More info here. Enjoy.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Mary Lee

Have you been following Mary Lee? She is a 3456 lb., 16ft. long great white shark who was caught and tagged on her dorsal fin by OSEARCH, a shark research organization, last September 17 just off Cape Cod. Throughout the fall she made her way south along as far as Jacksonville before turning back north into cooler water. Until the end of January she was enjoying the waters of the continental shelf, fond of cruising just under the surface (finning) making tracking a joy.

Most great whites spend only a short time in coastal waters before heading for the deeps. If you check the tracking record for Mary Lee on the OSEARCH website, you will see that she poked her nose into many estuaries on her way north up the Atlantic coast of the USA before finally turning east on Feb. 1. to head out to sea.

What amazes me? The incredible distances she is swimming each day, like she has a destination in mind and is intent on arriving.

The OSEARCH website is a mine of information and a joy to explore.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Penny Art

Today's the day that penny pinching begins in Canada. As mentioned, you will no longer get them from the bank, but you can still use them to pay for purchases, or you can bag them up and head for a sorting machine before your next visit to the bank or you can donate them to a worthy cause.

Or......use your hoarded pennies in an arts and craft project. Here are a few for inspiration.

painting with coins
Manhattan Mettle by Ann Carrington.
Mixed media: metal punching, dollars, dimes, subway tokens, spanners, nails, pins...
8m x 5m,

Here's a close-up of this very detailed work:
 art made with coins
How about a bowl....
coin bowl
Coin Bowl
By Johnny Swing

or a portrait of someone you admire..... 

painting with coins
Painting with Coins
Nelson Mandela by Ed Chapman, 44″ x 31″, 5,340 pennies.
Or watch this video of Abraham Lincoln appearing in pennies:

Then there are functional pieces:

Sturdy: Visitors to Angst's new gallery got to test out her penny-laden floor.

This floor at the Artisan Tattoo and Coffee Gallery in Garfield, Pennsylvania needed 250,000 pennies and more than 400 man-hours to install. The coins were all laid with Lincoln facing up and the whole thing was sprayed as a last step. Four to six volunteers, solicited through Facebook, worked 10 to 16 hours a day for 3 weeks straight.

Mel Angst, the owner of the Gallery, said that at a total cost of $2500, the unit cost for materials came out to only about $3/square foot, cheaper than many tiles at the hardware store and with the bonus of a far more interesting floor than mere tile. Good thing there was no labour cost though.

The volunteers who managed to stick around for 30 hours were rewarded for their back-breaking efforts by the offer of a free custom penny tattoo.

This technique of laying pennies could be used on a smaller scale such as a table-top or a counter:

bar made from pennies
Penny covered Counter
Lincoln Room Bar, San Diego
How to:

Finally, how about an adult-assisted project for the kids, the perfect gift for Mother's or Father's Day :

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Friday, February 1, 2013

Snowflake Jewels

Ken Libbrecht, a physics professor at Caltech was originally trained as a solar astronomer, but in recent years his interest has focused on snowflake formation. Since we have been kids, we have been told that no two snowflakes are alike and Libbrecht's photos seem to confirm this fact.

Here are a few of the more than 10,000 that he has photographed. To see more, visit his gallery.

Dr. Libbrecht, who has written several books about snowflakes, tells us that snowflakes develop from single crystals of ice and can be either one snow crystal or groups of snow crystals that adhere as water vapour condenses on the surface. Snowflakes are always hexagonal and can develop arms and then new growths on the ends of the arms. The final result is always sixfold symmetric.

The formation of snowflakes is dependent on temperature and humidity. The crystals become more complex at lower temperatures until the humidity becomes lower at which point the strutures become simpler columns and plates. A temperature around -15C produces large stellar crystals. Conditions in Northern Ontario, particularly around Cochrane make it an ideal location to study snow crystal formation.

One thing I love best about snow is how it sparkles in the sunshine.