Monday 30 November 2009

Wannabe Photographer

A lousy, drive-by shoot, but delightful to see the deer in the dusk. I have learned a lot by reading of other's attempts at macrophotography. Griz, who managed some great bat photos, in the dark, after three nightmare's efforts! Wandering Weeta, who bought a digital photography microsope.
I sold one of a horse, to her owner, a woman who participates as an amateur in Central Ontario horse shows. She is wearing the snappy jacket and thinking carefully, four photos down! Fortunately, I have a colour printer.
I wonder how the ducks manage these days. hard to capture in the rainy dark days we have been having.

The geese are still gathering in the parks by day, eating their fill. There is not much food left in the lake. It is about 7 or 8 C. about now.

I look at my photo album, I have turned over the 9,999 limit on the camera counter three times now.

I know that a lot of us would love to earn something from our photos. With the digitial photography business booming, most do their own photography.

There are contests that abound on the web. You just have to watch for them! And if you do not enter, you will not win. This one is an Ontario contest, sorry to exclude my international friends.
I happened upon these contest accidentally, by checking out a Muskokagirl post. There are three running as of the date of this post:

1. Macro Photos of Life contest has a large display of small living things. Photographers are asked to use their camera’s macro lenses to capture the tiny facial expressions of animals and bugs. Sponsored by ShrinkRay -a Device Management System (DMS) and application toolkit built by an advanced mobile app developer that helps business websites be more effective.

    2. Ontario Tourist Attractions shows off our province’s most interesting travel destinations. Sponsored by, a company that specializes in delivering the lowest car insurance quotes.

    3. Medicinal Plants in Nature- Sponsored by Ontario’s natural medicine clinic!
    These are real contests, with fun prizes.

    Now, how many of us have fun as amateurs, sharing photos with friends and cyberfriends? How much fun to compare with other amateur work out there! This is your chance to win some cool prizes, just for doing what you already do: snapping some shots. It is excellent marketing for the companies, and you retain the rights to the photos. The photos are magnificent, too.
    Fierce competition. Vote for me when you go there!!!! You might as well, you can't vote for your own photo... :-)

    Sunday 29 November 2009

    Spring hopes and promises


    --Nature she assures us
    In lilac yellow anticipation
    Buds will spring unfold
    After wickedly white precipitation!

    Internet fun - I love Lunch!

    I have crusaded for people to check what they read. Check 3 sources for verification. They say that the Internet is the Garbage Sale in cyberspace. You really have to check the source of anything you read. I had been teaching 25 years as the 'net made its way into our classrooms. I found students were willing to believe everything they read.

    For example, for medical info ensure the writer has qualifications, or is connected to a university. The big thing now is targeting seniors, who are surprisingly active on the 'net.
    There was a discussion, written by a US doctor, and their issues with universal health care has spawned some awful lies out there. Musings of a Distractible Mind. He has some interesting ideas, and a view of America that spawns interesting reader's comments.

    This same Dr. has now hosted a haiku contest, but it isn't true haiku! It's really bad...
    That said, there are some clever people who are marketing their products quite well. The group, Improv Everywhere, are having a grand time: webpage, book, Facebook Fan page, you name it!
    Do you love lunch? They do! This is posted for fun!

    Saturday 28 November 2009

    Wabora tamorrah

    Actually, it was today. Betwixt and between. What to do and where to go in Bracebridge for lunch?
    We tried the pub, but they close from 2 to 5:00. Ah so!

    They are ready for Christmas. Their decor is fabulous, service isn't always the fastest, but it is otherwise impeccable.
    Co-owned by Min Soo Kim
     and his mother Sara Kim, Uncle Chulho Lee and aunt Joanne Wi.
    With 14 chefs, you are sure to have an excellent meal.

    An extensive Japanese and Korean menu, including steak, bento boxes, sushi rolls and bulgogi.

    We started with sushi - how could we not!
    The quality of the dishes cannot be surpassed anywhere in Muskoka.
    Then the main course. I love my salmon, so did my brother.

     What a lovely afternoon out!

    Wabora Japanese Fusion Steakhouse

    295 Wellington St S
    Bracebridge, ON P1L
    (705) 646-9500

    Friday 27 November 2009

    Sunset in Gravenhurst 2008

    Notice the snow.

    No snow this year!!!

     Last year, however, we were watching the sky for snow and someone took a walk on the wild side. I think it was a cat.

    For more Skywatch posts:

    Thursday 26 November 2009

    The Pie Ladies of Chatham

     CBC News - Canada - Sentencing delayed for drunk driver who killed ...

    What a sad story. Will we ever be able to get drunk drivers off off the streets? It takes friends and family to intervene, I think.

    Families of Chatham's 'Pie Ladies' donate alcohol tester to local police

    ONTARIO - Family members of the Pie Ladies will be donating a roadside alcohol testing device to Chatham-Kent police next week. The donation will take place on Tuesday, the second anniversary of the crash which took the lives of Marion Dawson, Jean Ripley, Verna Neaves and Bernice Phillips.

    MADD Canada, Chatham-Kent Chapter, will be making the donation on behalf of family members.

    Wladyslaw Bilski, of Chatham, was sentenced to four years in prison for four counts of impaired driving causing death, along with a 10-year driving ban. The four elderly women, known as the Pie Ladies, were headed home from a church supper when Bilski slammed into them on Keil Drive in Chatham on Nov. 24, 2007.

    Happy US Thanksgiving - touchdown!

    I am grateful to my American friends to the south who made such a day possible.

    How delightful, that there are three NFL games on to make hubby terribly happy!

    Thanksgiving is such a big event in the US. More travellers than December.

    I am grateful, too, that we have rain not snow.

    There were years... rain, snow, sleet or hail...

    We've had rain in Muskoka for a couple of days.

    It could be worse...
    and last year we had snow at this time of year.

    On November 21, 2008, we had a frog pond that was frozen over.

    Yesterday the mergansers were trolling for fish.

    Wednesday 25 November 2009

    Buildings of Muskoka

    As promised, here are my drive-by shootings of Muskoka buildings. Despite the myths, they are as varied as any city, much more so with cottages, lakes, farms, as well as thriving infrastructure. The first music*, to accompany the cottages: "Pulling on a Line", by Great lake Swimmers. The second piece: "Stone Town", by David Francey.

    My YouTube video, which consists entirely of my personal photos,  celebrates both nature, and human kind, who must learn to live on spaceship earth. We can lessen our ecological footprint. Our grandchildren demand it.

    This is a bow in honour to the artists and musicians who tell the story of the world around them in creative ways. Combining music and artist, with advocacy that we lesser mortals cannot hope to achieve.

    Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.
    Mark Twain (1835-1910) U.S. humorist, writer, and lecturer.

    The end of the human race will be that it will eventually die of civilization.
    Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) U.S. poet, essayist and lecturer.

    Nothing pains some people more than having to think.
    Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968) American black leader.

    The best security for civilization is the dwelling, and upon properly appointed and becoming dwellings depends, more than anything else, the improvement of mankind.
    Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881) British politician and author.

    We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if mankind is to survive.
    Albert Einstein (1879-1955) German-Swiss-U.S. scientist.

    Man is a two-legged animal without feathers.
    Plato (BC 427-BC 347) Greek philosopher.

    * Music credits:

    Great Lake Swimmers A Toronto band: check them out on YouTube. Tony Dekker take part in a Tennessee Riverkeeper PSA. Become aware of what is happening to our water systems and water ways, and get involved. 

    David Francey  an outstanding Ontario songwriter and storyteller. "Seaway" is a lovely collection of songs by master songwriters, David Francey and Mike Ford - inspired by a voyage on the M.S. Algoville.

    Tuesday 24 November 2009

    We are all connected to the earth

    We depend upon tourism, and these issues (the environment, environmental protection, invasive species, pollution, land, forest and water management) are crucial to our economy. That said, I was shocked to read in our paper that the Muskoka Landowners Association, originally in the news to protest a recent attempt at forestry and logging control by the District of Muskoka Lakes instituting new tree-cutting by-law, shut down snowmobile trails last winter. They have now promised to band together to protest wetland and environmental land management policies.
    Two pieces in The Gravenhurst Banner, concerned me: the 1st is an article, the 2nd an editorial:

    1. Petition threatens more trail closures
    After successfully quashing Muskoka’s tree-cutting bylaw, the Muskoka Landowners Association (MLA) is now taking aim at other government policies. 

    I wonder how they can presume to intervene, undermining all stakeholders in our region?  I realized they cannot. Thank goodness that our politicians remember that this is a lobby group: they do not represent the taxpayers, residents, and, most importantly, the flora and fauna of our region. There must be balance, and a plan for our grandchildren who will inherit this earth. Our politicians must ensure that policies and by-laws protect Muskoka and Muskokans in the long-term.

    The Muskoka Landowners Association’s latest petition, which threatens to close snowmobile trails again this winter if specific policies are not removed from the District of Muskoka’s Official Plan, demonstrates yet again the ignorance of this organization when it comes to planning matters affecting the environment.

    I fear for our land, and for the children who will inherit the earth. Small things warm my heart about My Muskoka: other issues scare me. I saw Fish Jumping - in September. They are still jumping. But nothing like this. The video below comes from another scary story -coming from Lake Michigan's lake stewards: Invasive Species experts. Asian Carp, Invasive Species, May Be In Lake Michigan‎ -
    Federal officials are reporting that the Asian carp may have gotten past a electric barrier meant to prevent the invasive species from entering the Lake

    These fish escaped in the late 90's from fish farms which overflowed in heavy rainy seasons. These fish are much like zebra mussles, who can take over a habitat and ecosystem, with few predators, and a voracious appetite. Ugly critters, see the photo on

    They have begun to invade the Chicago Sanitary and Shipping Canal, up through the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers. Inasive species experts there have installed an electric barrier to keep the Silver and Big Head Carp out of Lake Michigan, and out of the Great Lakes.The electronic barrier is not working. Experts collect water samples, and knowing that 'fish pee in their pond', they analyse it for specific fish DNA. Indeed, the huge carp have dropped their cookies there. Now, pond carp, similar to a tropical goldfish, have been used in Ontario for years. They are cute, eat, phytoplankton, and clean up the small or large pond. But this critter is ferocious. It is the piranha of the carp world. They can grow to be 4' and 50- 110lbs., and eat 40% of their body weight in a day. Plans are underway to take further steps: dump Rotenone into the area to kill the fish. Now, Rotenone, a pesticide, kills brain cells in rats and triggers debilitating physical symptoms associated with Parkinson's disease. The fish in the area tend to be this Asian carp, goldfish (like mine, above), gizzard shad - non-sport fish. And, experts say, this chemical dissipates quickly on its own. But, to accelerate that process, a neutralizing agent known as potassium permanganate will be used following the application. What are they thinking? They find that the fish cannot be caught through sport fishing, won't take a lure, says one comment on

    Electrofishing for Silver Carp on the Mississippi River near Grafton, IL.

    Invasive species - jumping for joy

    Can you name the Great Lakes? I used to present a mnemonic device in my classroom to help my elementary students: H-O-M-E-S!
    This knowledge is required in order to understand the environment, and the risks posted by man's inhumanity to the earth!

    Muskoka is is the red section!

    I have posted a few blogs about the environment:
    Endangered species - due to environmental issues, as well as invasive species, our beloved critters are at risk across this North American, international continent. The Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) has an Aquatic Invasive Species website. This is a huge problem internationally, as the flora and fauna listed in my post:
    The following MNR links provide information on just a few of the many invasive species in the Great Lakes Basin:

    Monday 23 November 2009

    Canadian TV Content

    I participated in a Radio Survey last month. I was happy to participate and have some influence in media. But the CRTC hearings continue on the future of Canadian content on our satellite and cable.

    There are a few good ones for old f@rts my age, and many have been syndicated, like Little Mosque and The Border, but many more geared towards younger people.

    CBC's The National continues to be my favourite news. We have given up getting any regional TV news. Just isn't worth it to the broadcasters, apparently. Most news is derived from Toronto sources, which really doesn't grab me. We read local papers, and hope for the best.
    The Fifth Estate - hard hitting news for consumers. Great job.
    The Border -great show about Canada and international relations. It is less about human relations and more about politics and illegal border activities.
    Battle of the Blades - huge hit! Hockey players do pairs dancing with the pros.
    The Rick Mercer Report (CBC)- Fabulous! I love this show. The humour around politics is witty and intense. He is on Facebook, and YouTube.
    Some teachers are using Little Mosque on the Prairie (CBC) to teach Islamic studies in classrooms (really!). A bit flaky, and little actual curriculum content. It is losing momentum, and to my mind, the plot more like weak tea, and the jokes peurile.

    All US shows: House, 90210, Saturday Night Live, The Simpsons, Melrose Place.

    Entertainment Tonight (ET), has a Canadian segment. (A bit fluffly for me!)
    Project Runway - well, models competing? Dunno. But it is the Canadain alternative to America's Next Top Model.

    So You Think You Can Dance Canada - this was fun, and garnered a lot of attention.
    Their regular show are bought from the US: CSI, American Idol, Criminal Minds. Access Hollywood (like ET), Law and Order, Dancing With the Stars, Desperate Housewives.

    Sunday 22 November 2009

    Internet Freedom in Vietnam

    Flooding in B.C., on our west coast, Flooding on the west coast of England. And I've been complaining about my TV programs!

    I guess I shouldn't complain about lack of local and/or Canadian content! While some are arguing for 'value for signal', and Canadian programming,  regional programming...

    The Vietnamese government criminalizes free speech by cracking down on bloggers and citizen journalists, imposing restrictions and policing free speech on the internet. Join Viet Tan's Internet Freedom Campaign; take action to protect the right to freedom of expression. 

    Saturday 21 November 2009

    Muskoka H1N1 vaccination clinics - 3

    This is part 3 of a series of posts about Muskoka health care. Specifically, this is the story of our vaccine trek during this H1N1 pandemic.

    The announcement came this week:
    North Simcoe Muskoka Local Health Integration Unit (NSM LHIN) – Our health unit will be making the H1N1 vaccine available to anyone over the age of six months, beginning last Tuesday. 

    The signage was good. Easy to spot the right place. The trick to running a good clinic is finding a place, like the arena, which has large rooms, easily accessible spots, and free parking!

    Based on this information we decided that a vaccine was a good way to go. Both of us, as volunteers, owed it to our clients. 

    The clinic we attended in Bracebridge ran from 10:00 until 8 p.m., but the run 5 days a week in Muskoka. Having read the news reports, suggesting that the early bird does not get the worm, we went just after lunch. It was a good move. There was a big lineup in the early morning, and people were sent away, after having been given a time to return. This is fine for those who live in Bracebridge, but we do not. There were only a couple of people ahead of us.
    A well-run event, the staff wore vests depending upon their role. (The vest DID say, "Health Unit", but my flash put a shine on the 'T'!) The first people we met were wearing a yellow vest. They were careful about screening people already ill. 

     Next this woman directed us to the intake staff with green vests. They took our info, swiped our Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) cards, verified our information, checked to see if we had underlying health conditions or were already ill. I have a tendency to faint when I have a needle and I warned them!  This smiling young lady smiled and sent us off to sit and wait our turn. You can see that they had about 4 people working the computers, and we moved along swiftly.

    And you can see how the process has been improved after long lines in the big cities. Our free shots, courtesy of OHIP, were about to happen!

    We sat down to wait and read the handouts and, with only one person ahead of us, we moved through the queue. Behind our smiling intake staff was the place where you received a print out showing the time and date of your H1N1 shot. In addition, this is where one sat for 15 minutes after the shot, to ensure that you did not have an immediate reaction. You can see the our timing was perfect. There were only 7 people who had just been poked!

    Next, we were directed by another person to our nurse. She checked our data, verified the information, and eventually poked us. 

    She was armed with safety disposal containers for the needles, a computer and stickers, but we weren't offered any of the latter! 

    You can see the small bottle from which she filled the needle. The needled was ready. And then the deed was done.

    We moved from the poking station in the corner, above right in the photo below left, to the 15-minute waiting station were we sat. The woman in the orange vest handed us our form and off we went.

    All in all, a well run clinic, with staff who were caring, and happy to serve us. Considering my irrational fear of needles all went well. For further Muskoka information see: the Muskoka Clinic Schedule

    City Mouse vs. Country Mouse -2

    In covering H1N1 in Muskoka, there are differences in Swine flu and its spread within cities and towns. Each LHIN is reporting some developments, according to their monthly NSM LHIN pH1N1 updates. 

     City Mouse: 
     In Ontario, the per cent of influenza tests positive for H1N1 last week was 33 %, which was lower than the 45 % positive observed in the previous week. Some jurisdictions have reported 50% rates in Ontario.
    Country Mouse:
    Simcoe Muskoka reported 29% positive H1N1 laboratory tests, which increased for the fifth consecutive week last week, which is up from 21 per cent from the previous week.
    Local Simcoe Muskoka Emergency Departments are reported a 30 to 50 per cent increase in visits related to flu-like symptoms compared with the previous year. NSM LHIN told us last week that 1 in 4 Muskoka schools reported absenteeism of 10 per cent, with some as much as 50%. For us in Muskoka, things are different than the city, with the spread on a different scale and  one to two week delayed timeline. 

    LNSM LHIN 12  has distributed almost 38,000 doses to family doctors, hospitals, long term care homes and Emergency Medical Services; and have vaccinated almost 10,000 people in public health pH1N1 clinics as of the end of November 5, 2009. 

    North Simcoe Muskoka Health Unit has received over 107,000 doses of adjuvanted and unadjuvanted H1N1 vaccine. It is now available for all who want to have it. There are about 15,000 doses on hand for use at these clinics, and for distribution to other partners this week. Further shipments of up to 32,000 doses could be arriving this week.

    Provincially, as of Nov. 17th, says that Ontario has had: 

    • 68 lab-confirmed H1N1 deaths since April
    • 197 people are in hospital
    • 75 are in intensive care. 
    --Ontario Ministry of Health, spokesman David Jensen, Monday, November 16th. 

    There were 16,122 respiratory, fever-related, or H1N1 calls to Telehealth during the weeklong period of Nov. 5-12. This is a rise in calls: Oct. 29-Nov. 5, when there were 14,177 H1N1-related calls to Telehealth.

     Telehealth Ontario  - Public Information - MOHLTC

     Telehealth Ontario is a free, confidential telephone service you can call to get health advice or general health information
    Get the facts:

    Friday 20 November 2009

    birds of a feather...

    On my last canoe ride, it's been raining cats and dogs for two days - I am a fair weather paddler, I spotted a flock of Waxwings. Cedar or Bohemian waxwings high up in the tree.

    Lots to read about them: The Bohemian Waxwing is an irregular winter visitor from the far North

    The above link features the sound they make, too. Call a high-pitched trill, rougher and lower pitched than that of Cedar Waxwing.

    The Birds of NA has more info: Named for the nomadic ranging patterns of its winter flocks, the Bohemian Waxwing moves widely, seeking crops of winter fruits, and irregularly sweeps into regions to the south and east of its typical winter range.

    Just glorious.

    Their flock really hung out together.  Chickadees, they say, stay in a small, fixed flock and venture out and about for 20 acres.

    Some (better birders than I!) are explaining, like Jayne, and the Stokes, that there is an abundance of food, birds are not flocking to feeders in more southerly locales, and that the birds have wide ranges for winter foraging. Now, I could be wrong, by I have heard folks say that if there is an abundance of food, we can expect a hard winter, since the flora knows to prepare. I'm just sayin'!!!

    Of course, even the woodpeckers (which I thought only ate insects), have been at the feeders here in winter. The birds eat quite a variety of food: not just insects, but pine cone seeds, fruits and berries. And they seem to have a set route. I've noticed them popping around at the same time of day.

    By the time I returned from my canoe, the sun was setting and the burnt sienna of the setting sun lit up the trees, bushes and water. The flock was still there. They winter in large flocks and eat insects, as well as seeds.

    Cedar Waxwing is slightly smaller, lacks reddish under tail and white and yellow stripes on closed wing, and has a yellowish belly.

    From Birds Forever, "The red appendages or vibrant 'sealing wax at the end of its secondary wings give this bird its name."

    The blue jays, here, keep squirreling away the seeds. They come back and forth, hiding them in bark folds and nooks and crannies. The squirrels, in mid-winter, bury them in the snow piles on the deck. Others follow them and dig them up and take them away. It is a blessing to watch them. Better than TV!

    Back on the deck, the flock was figuring out their next stop. They flitted back and forth while I vainly tried to capture them in flight! MANUAL FOCUS time!

    Camera CrittersFor more critters:  Camera-Critters #85

    Muskoka, Ontario Health Care - 1

    Many of my International blog friends have been asking my about our health care system. Federally driven by a mandate of free, accessible health care for all, our Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) is a Transfer Payment Agency that transfers taxation dollars to the  agencies. Run by an elected Board of Directors spending is monitored as provincial health care initiatives are carried out in a locally driven networks.

    Ontario is split up into 14 LHINs.

    North Simcoe Muskoka's LHIN 12 runs from the south end of Lake Simcoe (east of Barrie), to Orillia, and on up to Huntsville. Then it runs west to Collingwood, 

    Picture+4.pngOur population in Muskoka is 57,563.  Greater Toronto, our largest city in this province, has a population of about 5 million. In comparison, there are 10 million people residing in the Golden Horseshoe, the area around the west end of Lake Ontario - from Toronto, around past Hamiltion. The Golden Horseshoe contains about 1/3 of the total of Canada's 31 million population. The US, in comparison, has 300 million people.