Friday 30 October 2009

Guess who came when I called the cat?

Yes, Rocky AND Sady.

I love those little toes, except when they get into trouble. Every night...

Well, to brighten a dreary Muskoka day, hubby brought home flowers. Little did he remember that these were the ones I put into my wedding bouquet seven years ago! What a generous man! And thoughtful!!!

Then, on a drive home from a course I took, I spotted these sitting in the field. Can you tell or guess what they are?!

Tuesday 27 October 2009

migration & Watery Wednesday

watery wednesdayBut something new, when blogging in Spring I noticed how grateful I was for a heads-up that the critters were migrating and on their way north. Now, seeing that they head south, I have to say farewell for now.

It is comforting to know that they are going to be tracked and will return at some point.

It is a watery world around here. The water levels are rising. The critters in their feeding frenzy. The rain came down on the weekend.

I thought this photo one of foreshadowing!!!

Cell phone ban & travelling in Muskoka

I must admit that I never really turn my cell phone on! There are a few people I know who never give the number out, except in extreme cases. Our new law bans the use of any handheld portable devices like a DVD or phone. The fine is up to $500, but will not be enforced, at the Minister's demand, until Feb. 1, 2010 (?!).

Research shows people are 4 times more likely to be in a crash, than those who concentrate on the road and their driving (Canada Safe). Of course, those who are not giving their full attention to their driving put us all at risk.

I am very happy with the new laws that make it illegal in Ontario to use such technology in a car, while driving. Now, I am sure I'll get some negative comments on this, as I did with the recent revision to the Ontario Drinking & Driving Laws.

Muskoka roads are fast: most are highways have a posted speed limit of 80 km/hour. But few follow this. There are those who drive 20 km below the limit (also dangerous, and these people should be reported), but this is a different story as frustrated drivers try to pass in unsafe conditions. Driving safley in Muskoka includes watching out for moose and deer, as well as small animals.

This man, above right, was sitting in heavy traffic in a small town, trying to make a left-hand turn while talking on his cell phone. Obviously, a contractor (his licence plate read: I FIXUM) and I know that people in this line of work spend a lot of time on the road. This is a problem in Muskoka, where many rely on contractors, who are incredibly busy. StatCan (StatCan, 2006) tells us that 80 % of these people not only drive to work, but we have a fair number of people who are in trades, and sales & service (80 %; StatCan, 2006), and many of these people drive about servicing customers, and doing work at customer's homes. Traffic can be dense on our two-lane highways, especially in the early morning and around 4 p.m., and this is when wildlife is active. The Sounds of Silence, the myth of rural Ontario.

Our roads are fairly flat, but they wind through the granite rock of Muskoka's Precambrian Shield, and provide unsafe driving conditions in, for example, the frozen rain and sleet of November weather. Then, when the snow hits, people get even crazier!

Who bans cell phone use?
According to Canada Safe, banned locales include: Newfoundland, Quebec, Nova Scotia and, now, Ontario.

Other countries in which a ban is in force for the entire nation:

Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Brazil,Botswana, Chile, China, Czech Reblic, Denmark, Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Singapore, Slovak Republik, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, UK. I include these, because, as with the US, the ban is limited to particular provinces and states, but it is not a nation-wide ban.

Drinking & Driving laws in Ontario

While some may think this post better belongs in My Reflections & Musings blog, I believe that the party attitude of cottage country needs an alignment. I have blogged a few times here about the tragic accidents that continue to occur, many due to drinking and driving and speed

Monday 26 October 2009

Emily attacked by mafia raccoons

It is true. My beloved Emily. Brian and I bought her for my parents in 2001. We were shopping in a marvellous downtown Ottawa Kitchen store, of all things. She sat perfectly happy by mom's fish pond. The pond is no longer there, since the pond pump leaked, I couldn't remove the oil from the pond, the fish were getting sick, and I felt that the electricity we used to run the pump didn't make sense when we lived beside a lake, and had a perfectly natural frog pond, as well.

Mom loved her flower pots. Local nurseries sell a ton of hanging baskets. Mom always had thousands of impatience. I am not patient enough for them, and they do not seem to thrive for me!

The thing about Muskoka waterfront, for me, is finding pieces of art that look beautiful. We have bought several pieces form local artisans.

Emily was the anomaly.

I made a huge mistake and put Emily down by the lake, away from the security of the garden.

She sat and enjoyed the violets in the spring. The daffodils were her sunshine on the rainy days.

Here she is down at the water.

When I arrived home from volunteering at CranFest, here is Emily, flat on her face.

I found that the raccoons had broken both of her legs.

I feel so badly. I have tried to glue them on, but there is much damage.

Where is the Sady when I need her? Sleeping on 'her' bear! (It is supposed to be mine!- It was a gift!)

Meantime, the squirrels dance across the deck railing. Two grey ones today.
The leaves are a carpet on the ground.
All is 'normal' for fall in Muskoka!

Sunday 25 October 2009

The lightness of peace - a heretic's take

CBC's The Sunday Edition is hosted by Michael Enright. I very much enjoy his 'rants'! I first came across his work when looking for something about boats polluting our precious lakes: "Selling Muskoka By The Gallon". At the time, we visited one of the bigger lakes, with a fairly expensive leisure lifestyle, and watched a man top up his boat's gas tank to the tune of $450!

The Peace Tower (left), symbolize Canadian law and values for me. I believe in Canada, and our values. I believe in thinking about what it means to be Canadian, in our multicultural society.

This morning, Mr. Enright introduced a piece on Islam by saying "Most of us used to give little thought to Islam before 9/11".

I disagree. I taught in an Ottawa school, in 1998 - 2000, with a 70% Muslim  population. We talked about their religion almost every day. Many of my students took classes on Saturday at the Muslim school. They spoke of the information conveyed by their 'teachers'. In my mind it was inculcating them in extremist fundamentalism. These schools are unregulated, as they are private, religious schools. It frightened me.

One year, one of our students friend's had a sibling who passed away. A very ill young person with a debilitating, chronic disease. We had a class discussion about death and grief. One of my students piped up with the comment that it was not as if the student committed suicide, but it may be a relief to the burdened family whose lives were severely limited by the child's illness. Another student said that suicide was alright if you were doing for a cause. He explained that his uncle was a suicide bomber and he committed suicide to 'protect his people'. We were shocked and I quickly explained that we do not have those values in Canada. I was determined to learn more about Islam.

In order to understand my students, I took the opportunity to attend workshops on various religions, led by local leaders of all the popular faiths. I did some reading in order to understand, for example, our school librarian who was a practicing Muslim. My best friend and teaching colleague took some Arabic classes in order to understand her class of gr. 6 students better. Her class was 90% male, and with gender issues embedded in some religious fundamentalist groups, it helped her to have a handle on what they were doing and saying.

It is important to understand who we are as Canadians, but important, also, to keep that separation of church and state. Canadian values, Canadian laws must be upheld and maintained in Canada. While we must understand our neighbours, we must stand firm in upholding Canadian laws and principles. Canada is greatly misunderstood. Our values, such as Freedom of Speech, differ from American notions of this issue. We do not have the American value:  'the right to bear arms'.

The Sunday Edition's guest was introduced this way: "Graham Greene once said that heresy is another word for freedom of thought. And by that definition, Abdullah A Naim is a true heretic...In our first hour a moderate takes on militant Islam."

Mr. Enright's guest, went on to explain that Islamic religion is subject to interpretation by local leaders. It is not like, for example, Catholicism - in which the Pope produces pronouncements, and all must follow. In fact, while Martin Luther changed forever the notion of Christianity, he helped ensure that Protestants created their own religious values. Perhaps this is what Islam needs. Someone to move them from the dark ages to this age, and a revision of what it means to be Muslim. Perhaps, somebody, like Abdullah A. Naim, needs to take stronger leadership. I disagree, too, that Islam cannot have a Martin Luther. It is the perfect parallel and an analogy that makes sense.

 In the dark ages, few could read The Bible. It was the priest and their hierarchical, patriarchal society that shaped religious thought. Until the Bible was printed in German, thanks to Martin Luther, few understood what the Bible said. Surely, this is the same problem in places of unrest, where poor, unemployed, uneducated Muslims are choosing violence over education and change, but this is an oft-repeated pattern.  Bassam Darwich, in Islam and Peace says, "The Qur'an and other Islamic books like Al-Hadith and Al-Sira, i.e. the life of Muhammad, are full of evidence which proves that had it not been for violence, Islam wouldn't have existed or wouldn't have survived until today. "

The Qur'an needs to be interpreted for modern day. Where violence is chosen over that which religious texts proclaim and a text written when violence was the only answer, we need to rethink how much weight such a text should bear in modern day.

Sharia Law, for example, is subject to interpretation by local religious leaders. But in our society, in which the state is secular, and fair for all, not subject to religious precepts, we must stick to this value. Some do 'cherry pick' their religion's values -some Catholics do practice birth control and use condoms, but this cannot happen in secular law. Better educated Muslims agree that "Islam" does not mean "peace" but "submission". It is time that Muslims stood up for Islam, and helped create the kind of world Allah/God/The Creator would want us to live in: peace, harmony, respect for one another. "Do unto others...", or the Ethic of Reciprocity, is one which is the foundation for many religious precepts, and one which we must adhere to in secular society.


The Country Connection Magazine Story: Selling Muskoka by the Gallon

by Michael Enright. "You call someplace Paradise, kiss it good-bye. ... commonly known as pollution) as a 1998 passenger car driven 160000 kilometers. ... notice that he has about 15 two-litre jugs lined up in the bottom of his boat"

Martin Luther and the Reformation: The Protestant Reformation ...

The Protestant Reformation began in Germany, when Martin Luther posted ... During his time at Wartburg, Luther translated the bible into German. ... Instead pushing for reforms, the protesting Christians had begun their own religion

Islam & Peace

Many Muslim missionaries claim that Islam means 'peace'. But this is not so. Here an Arab explains the word 'islam' and 'salam'.

ISLAM for peace

Our goal is to revive Islam, save it from anachronistic interpretations, and make it a true power to support the values of liberty and humanity

Versions of the Golden Rule in 21 world religions

23 Aug 2008 ... Almost all of these groups have passages in their holy texts, or writings of their leaders, which promote this Ethic of Reciprocity.

Bedtime routines for babies - sleeping with a toy

Coroner's reports are excellent means by which society can learn from its mistakes. Absolutely. However, we can err on the side of insane.

For an inexplicable issue like Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), for which there is no rhyme or reason for a death, we must work to determine this problem's etiology. But it is not failure to thrive* (which is identifiable), or neglect. SIDS is not an horrific accident in which, for example, a parent takes an infant to bed with them and they roll over on them.

The coroner is warning parents against co-sleeping because there were 12 deaths linked to co-sleeping in Ontario in 2008. A bed is a great place where a mother can breastfeed. I know, I did it myself. 

How delicate and yet strong these wee ones are. Lungs with the power to set us weeping. They can withstand much that we, as adults, could not handle. 

How crazy that *our* kids lived through learning to walk and talk and live in this world. I remember my son, Jesse, who insisted on going down to the basement to play when he was a toddler and tripping. I took him into emerge many times thinking this time he'd given himself a concussion. He had not. Just really wanted to move all the time!

Now, they are saying  “No bumper pads, no toys,no blanketsno anything,” and I find this so bizarre.

The Coroner's report is the big decision-maker in this situation. Best practice would mean that no one left their house, since by staying home no one would be hit by a car! Research and reality are two different things. As Annie says, 

The Ontario coroner says it is dangerous for babies to share a bed with their parents because of 8.8 deaths per 100,000 live births. That must mean it is dangerous to travel by car, because there were 8.8 deaths per 100,000 people. The Ontario coroner should be advising all Ontarians to avoid car travel. Travel by foot is much safer. We should ban cars.

In the region of Muskoka we had 11 drownings last summer. Will the Coroner's office demand that no one go swimming or on the lake? 

I am not alone in wondering about this.
It occurs to me that we can prevent all traffic deaths by keeping everyone at home. Another blogger had the same idea!

These studies, like those in education, do not necessarily apply to these well-trained, responsible families who choose to become parents. Each family is different, unique, each child has different needs. My granddaughter spent her first 6 months keeping my daughter awake until they found a sleep toy, now she has 4 bee-bees for home, crib, car and day care.

Also, have they reduced the number of deaths and serious occurences by not permitting a baby blanket or a baby toy in a crib? I bet not. Especially, high-risk children with social or emotional disorders who need comforting. The Coroner's office needs a before and after study to see if this does reduce deaths. I can understand how a child can get her head wedged in the side of a crib between mattress and rails. But this carries it too far.

How crazy that we cannot determine the difference between 'cluttered' cribs, and a child with a blankie to comfort them. How frustrating for both parent and child. In my day, we put kids to sleep on their tummies. No more. For babies who cannot sleep with a blanket or these little bedtime toys, as Josephine uses. A teeny stuffed animal head attached to a satin-trimmed small blanket (See the Giraffe above left). We call them her bee-bees!

Yes, kids are going to be 'safe' without a sucky blanket, but will they be happy and emotionally stable sleeping in a naked crib with nothing soft to hold on to? As Annie, PhD in Parenting says, "The Ontario coroner should stop telling people not to bed share and instead tell them how to make bed sharing safer. "



Failure to thrive (FTT) is a medical term which denotes poor weight gain and physical growth failure over an extended period of time

Drowning Statistics and incidents kept up on My Muskoka blog. There were 11 in three seasons of Muskoka Lakes.

Paediatric Death Review Committee Annual Report 2009 [PDF] 

Bill 115, an Act to Amend the Coroners Act was introduced in the Ontario Legislature on ......However any sleep surface that is cluttered with pillows, blanketstoys, ... month-old infant, with his head wrapped in a blanket in his crib ... safety regulations is the safest place for an infant to sleep...

Parents Canada - Developing - Baby - Explaining SIDS

A significant rise in preventable infant deaths from unsafe sleeping conditions, ... According to a recent report from Ontario's Office of the Chief Coroner, ... says Dr. Cairns. ... comforters or stuffed toys in the crib except for one small blanket tucked in..

8.8 deaths per 100000 population | PhD in Parenting

The Ontario coroner should be advising all Ontarians to avoid car travelTravel by foot is much saferWe should ban cars. How would that recommendation go?

rainy days

How beautiful the season, still.

In a drive to Bracebridge- we took the back roads home. We let people pass us, those in too much of  a hurry for this or that to appreciate the creatures that walk the forest, and spirits that fill this region; I always think of moccasined people moving around the territory hunting and gathering. (Vivid imagination, I know, but we are intruders on this land!)

There are still folks out doing photography! It is not too late. I love drive-by shootings.

The golds and yellows of the spectrum are brilliant, especially in the more remote forests.

People are putting up fabulous Hallowe'en and harvest decorations. I figure with 25 years teaching, added to 30 years as a mom, I paid my dues and have done enough of the former celebration for a life time!

We have no children on our street and do not get any on the day.

But I do admire those who decorate. The bright orange pumpkins are a great celebration of the harvest.

It punctuates an otherwise drab season of rain, snow, sleet and hail!

A great lunch at the Pub at the Inn: The Fox and the Hound in Bracebridge, with the fire going. This is the view off of their terrace, without the leaves to block the view.

I felt spoiled. Our excellent server snapped the photo for us.

But I know that I am doing three days of volunteer work next M/T/W and have earned the treat.

The view outside was glorious to and from our errands in town.

The meal was great: a veggie wrap for him and a spinach salad for her. Hot freshly brewed coffee.

And a nice drive home in the rain! 
So glad to be in the car, not out in the rain!

This little doodad is my friend. Do you know what it is?

I was thanking my lucky stars for it yesterday as we plummetted down to 2 degrees C. along the drive. It looks fierce out there.

The clouds are so interesting and, like the lake water, change daily and even hourly.

The winds whip up the waves and the whitecaps look powerful. A reminder of the power of the universe.

A carpet of leaves under this tree. How special that Mother Nature blesses us this way. Give me an orange or yellow carpet any day! And the sounds of the leaves as you walk through them. THAT is childhood to me.

If you look closely, you can see the spirit and the soul of the forest. You cannot bottle it. But you can feel it is you walk slowly. First Nations would honour the creatures they took. Their ecological footprints were very, very small.

They renewed themselves. They did not drain the waters or the forests of the treasures that lie within. If you stop and listen you will hear them. That crunch of moccasin on leaves. The twittering birds as they flee. I love the forest.

I bought a framed print of this piece on the right. It is by Johannus Boots.  It sums up the feeling I have about this world. Mine is a large print. It is in a frame 2 x 3 '. I bought it over time and have brought it with me to three houses! Isn't it amazing?

I just found the artist on line at Curve Lake Indian Reserve. Whetung Ojibwa Art and Crafts Gallery, Curve Lake Reserve, Ontario

Who knew? I really have to visit this gallery. I love the feeling in this print. 

Saturday 24 October 2009

Childbirth in the new millennium

"How Times have changed, or have they?" Interesting comparisons, Weaver.

When I was pregnant 30 years ago midwives were fighting for recognition. I gave birth, and went home 12 hours later.

In those days, if you wanted 'early discharge', you signed on with the health department and a nurse visited you daily to check you and the baby. I went home after about 4 hours with my other two births. I didn't feel well in the hospital wasting a bed! I went around taking juice to the woman across the room who was bedridden with the effects of an epidural.

My daughter had the benefit of a midwife with hospital privileges; the midwife came to her house daily for a week after the birth and gave her tips on breastfeeding. She gave birth in a birthing room, in a calm, caring environment at 4:00 a.m., and went home at 9:00 a.m. and by that time I had driven 5 hrs. to see them and help them out! It was so 'normal'. The midwife is accessible, open, understanding and experienced.

Not to say that this is for everyone. This gives the OB-GYN specialists time for the pregnant women with problems.

I think we are making much progress and we are going back to where pregnancy and childbirth is a 'normal' event and not an illness. I am glad that women have taken back responsibility for the health and their health care.

I am uncertain that homebirths are a good thing, certainly not for a first child. But that, too,  is an option for some in a 'normal' birth. This is a great relief for the health care system, as well as mothers and children who would like to have a calm and natural life passage.

I recall one of my birth experiences in which the nurse was teaching the intern how to deliver. He told me I was very calm, and cooperative (seemed like a good idea at the time!) and all was well.

two-fisted drinkers

As the sun set on a cloudy day, the leaves were falling along with the rain.

I hustled out to bring the bird feeders in before the raccoons attacked them.

I didn't make it!

Today, as I write this, more rain. I laughed aloud as I spotted Mr. Red Squirrel sitting in my homemade (plastic pop bottle) 'bird feeder'  inhaling sunflower seed, under his plastic umbrella. No photo. I was laughing too hard.

The leaves continue to fall.

Many of us eagerly anticipate real winter.

Things ramp up when the ice freezes over, ice fishing and such.

It is a great winter town, really, as many with better backs than ours curl, and then there is the Bala Trek (Xmas thingie), as well as three churches with Christmas Concerts.

Most of us do a lot of volunteer work, and help out one another. The children play hockey and skate. The Legion is an ongoing concern, and many take the winter to refresh and renew as they fly south for a time.

I love the pattern of the leaves on the deck, with its 3 replacement boards of a blond persuasion.

In the meantime, this is who I spotted across the lake. I wonder which season is open?

Thursday 22 October 2009

Skywatch Friday - somber skies 4: 15

I love watching the changes in the seasons, as many of you have agreed. As Vagabonde said, "Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose".

Change keeps us on our toes.

On Wednesday, I went outdoors in the early evening to watch the sky.

As always, grabbing the camera. You know that still, small voice? I didn't listen and neglected the tripod. What else can you do in the half-dark?
Well, interesting shots, to say the least. A bit wobbly, but you can appreciate the colours.

What really makes me P.O.'d,  in this day and age, are cottagers leaving on lights. As I was trying to capture my shots, I realized that the folks across the way has left their spotlights on all week.

What about Climate Change do they not understand?

I recall phoning the police last winter when the light was left on in their boat house. I'd seen snowmobiles there, and there hadn't been there for months and this is a boat-access only property. An officer arrived, and he said it could have been a robbery. That they would send a snowmobile  over when they could. Of course, I now realize that it was carelessness. It is the last time I will try to look after someone else's property! I felt so silly. The poor officcer. (Crazy retired lady, he must have thought!)

I was outdoors today and swept the deck, twice! Thursday afternoon it began raining, the wind blowing. The clouds were heavy all day and the rain began to fall with big splats. You know, the kind of big, fat drops the size of the Green Giant's tears!

Poor little tree skeletons! They have changed their wardrobe since last week. Not so hard to watch the skies. It cannot always be blue!

skywatchIt is snowing up north, Thunder Bay way. We are grateful for only rain right now! The raccoon on the deck looks a bit soppy. More next post!

Visit more Skywatch posts, Season 4: episode 15!

Wednesday 21 October 2009

End of the season

Another seasonal milestone is done.
The Cranberries are picked. They've been harvested and made into wine, sauce, bread and muffins. I'm not yet tired of cranberries, and peanut butter & cranberry sauce on my toast is a great way to embrace the harvest in the morning.

The artisans packed up their unsold wares from CranFest, and all things were shutting down in town last w/e. (Until snowmobile season beings!)

This, the last kick of the can. Things will be quiet as seasonal tourists go back to their city ways.

Tour buses load up. Tourists will put away cameras and take that ride back to the city.

Cottages are closed; power turned off, plumbing drained, boats dry docked.

 I walked home from CrabFest, oops, Freudian slip, CranFest, after a lovely afternoon in the warm fall sun last Sunday.

The Inn rocked on Saturday night. Poor staff were worked off their feet till 4 a.m., I heard.  I thought I would stop into the Bala Bay Inn (see my YouTube vid) on the way home

Weary business owners will have some quiet times.

No more patio dinners in town, like this place in NOTL, or dining in paradise, at Bala Falls restaurant.

Or trips to Shaw or Stratford.

As things shut down in town, the people went home in their cars, or their motorbikes.

There I was, as they packed up the glasses, having one last draft.

The tourists were trying to get into the line of traffic headed south, back to the city, jobs, and obligations.

I sat for some quiet reflection as weary bar staff shut her down.

It is a difficult job: serving, keeping customers happy; fed and watered. I try to be a good customer and smile, say thank you and try not to be too arrogant. There is a sense of entitlement some bring with their tourist dollars.

I cannot help but be grateful for those who serve me a meal I did not have to make, or bring me a drink I did not pour. It is a privilege to sit and wait, as those wait on me!  Not all can afford the luxury of eating out. I know I am blessed to live in the region.

One that my parents earned, and which I take advantage of as we live in their lovely home.

Many have inherited properties as we have. From a working class family, who saved to buy land in 1960, we are happy to support the local economy.
But, for now, the

Bala Bay Inn - Ghosts will be left in quiet. Everything locked, shut and put away. The locks on the refrigerator will be set for the winter. The power turned off.

The snow and the ice will be as strong and as hard as the locks on this frige. Wish I could put such locks on my metal bird seed containers (AKA garbage cans)! But we love our 'coons!

No more spilling the beans with Karla.

The markets are done for the season.

Farewell to our seasonal visitors for now.

I know that our three-season economy depends upon you. Thanks for visiting My Muskoka!