Sunday 31 January 2010

Winter sports and avalanches

It is an exciting sport...going down a mountain, the thrill of the skiing must be even more than on the snowmobile. I've been keeping track of incidents.

Snowmobile Incidents, Accidents and Near Misses 2009-10

But it is deadly. After last year's rescues, they are now billing those who foolishly risk their own life and limbs, as well as those who rescue them. It is unfair for families, survivors, and EMT crews who risk their lives to rescue those who foolishly choose to go out of bounds. Yet, in past news, survivors protest loudly when a rescue isn't timely enough according to their schedule.

The latest news:
2 Ont. skiers plunge to deaths near B.C. resort

Jan. 28, 2010
Two Ontario skiers were killed after they slid over a cliff in an out-of-bounds area near the Revelstoke Mountain ski resort in southeastern B.C., police said.
 Three males: 47 years, a 17 and 16-year old. The latter is the only survivor, with an injured ankle he was airlifted out, but the other two died after sliding down the rock face over a cliff.
Quebec couple chose to ski out of bounds: court documents
4 men who went out of bounds at B.C. ski area banned, billed
New B.C. avalanches claim 2 lives in 24 hours
Father and son billed for backcountry rescue

Two people get caught in an avalanche when snowmobiling at Three Ladies, B.C Canada, March 22nd 2008. It apparently took an hour to dig one of the sleds out.
The Canadian Avalanche Association offers a danger scale. Interactive maps to show where it is safe and where avalanches are a risk.

Avalanche death toll hits 24 across Western Canada, U.S.

This took place in Valemount on Saturday April 4th/2009 at about 2:30 pm. Caution there is some swearing.
The video shows a snowmobiler climbing a steep face in the Monashee Mountains near Valemount, B.C. Taped just two days ago, the snowmobiler climbs past the high marks left by previous riders. Just after the machine reaches the top of its curve, the slope fractures and rider and machine are carried down in a very large avalanche. stated the Canadian Avalanche Centre press release.

14 avalanche deaths mark tragic start to year 2009
This was such a  tragedy last year. Seven people gone in nearly an instant.
10. A skier has been killed in an avalanche in southwestern B.C.
The RCMP said the man died Wednesday on Mount Currie, about 15 kilometres northeast of Whistler.
Four skiers — two males and two females — were caught in the slide at about 2 p.m. PT, said RCMP Sgt. Peter Thiessen.
One of the males was caught and buried in the slide and was dug out by his companions, but had died at the scene, said Thiessen.
The man was in his 30s and from the Pemberton area, within a few kilometres of Mount Currie.
He is the tenth B.C. avalanche victim so far this winter.

Another avalanche in B.C. kills two

Slide buries three in Wells Gray provincial park; third deadly avalanche in a week 

The latest news: March 13, 2010
 I have been carefully collecting these stories, but this latest one is a crime. At a High Marking event (see the videos below), well after the season should be done...
 It is time that we slow down, enjoy nature, and show more concern for the land. There is danger in those hills.
For dare devils, they risk the lives of EMS crews, driving 300HP machines in this high adrenaline sport, high marking on the mountains. This is the
reason for the avalanche: these machines. Warnings were out.

This is the way they celebrate speed and power. This is the price their families will pay. They call it Sled Shot. Boys and their toys... This is the video from last year's event. You can see from the screen shot (above) the chaos, the machines, the speed.

Hundreds caught in B.C. avalanche; 2?  dead, at least 12 injured

Avalanche kills 2 at B.C. snowmobile event

Interactive Map: Recent avalanche deaths in British Columbia(2010)

Officials still don't know how many are missing after slide strikes backcountry snowmobile event near Revelstoke

Two people get caught in an avalanche when snowmobiling at Three Ladies, B.C Canada, March 22nd 2008. It apparently took an hour to dig one of the sleds out.

The Canadian Avalanche Association offers a danger scale. Interactive maps to show where it is safe and where avalanches are a risk.

Avalanche death toll hits 24 across Western Canada, U.S. Jan. 8, 2008

14 avalanche deaths mark tragic start to year 2009
Dec. 28, 2009
This was such a  tragedy last year. Seven people gone in nearly an instant.

If you don't smarten up...

I'll take you back to the vet!

What do you tell bored, grumpy cats who fight all over the house?

Well, after a trip to the vet the other day - they didn't complain all afternoon! Quite content to curl up and have a big nap!

They want to go outdoors, but with -30 C. temperatures last night they whined an whinged in the morning. 
Oliver meowed the whole 45 minute trip in the car.

Sady sat quietly awaiting her fate. She is the old pro. Like those of us in middle age, we know that wellness and prevention is better than curing disease.

I wish that family physicians gave us Wellness Binders full of information!

Sady thought that her crate was the safest place to be! "Nope, not coming out. I've done this 7 times and know the indignities I must suffer!"

It is important, in cottage country, to keep their shots up to date. The vets poke and prod and ensure that their parts are in working order, give them a rabies shot, and worm pill and shove a thermometer up their butts.

With one cat having food allergies, the others have a special diet, too.  We have to watch Sady, she's not a cheap date!

The other issue: you could pick up a zoonosis from your animals.
Zoonoses consist of: rabies, avian influenza, but the Center for Disease Control (USA) estimates that between 1 and 3 million of their 300 million population are infected with a zoonisis each year. [Novartis Animal Health, 2006]

Those most at risk, as with H1N1, include the very young, or those with chronic diseases, or spend time in high-risk envronments such as landscape gardeners, breeders. Pregnant women, especially, are most susceptible.

Our vet explained that the bats have rabies, and cats are notorious about swatting at flying things, as well as bringing home a mouse or mole per day (each!).

There are round worms, mosquito-born illnesses, and all sorts of sand fleas out here in the wild, as well. Children play outdoors where round worms may be, and young children put their hands in their mouths. A problem, obviously, in sand boxes. Fleas can cause allergic bites on human skin.

Ringworm, actually a fungus - but lesions in the skin look like a worm.  Sarcoptic Mange is a skin mite. Ticks suck blood, and can transmit diseases, (Lime Disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Erhlichiosis, Tularemia).

Roundworms are shed in feces, and the parasite can be transmitted to hands, end end up in internal organs, or eyes where they live as larva. Raccoon Roundworm is found in 'coon droppings, and can cause a fatal brain infection in humans.   Dogs, in turn, can eat raccoon feces, or pick up the infection, shed the eggs in their feces, posing a rick to family members.

Cat feces hosts toxoplasmosis, normally found in uncooked meat, but also in the litter box. Bartonella causes cat-scratch disease, found on cat claws. In people they have a small red area, and can develop a fever, blisters, muscle aches, fatigue and headaches.

The solution to all these issues? Visit your vet for professional advice, and don't forget proper hand washing techniques. Keep litter boxes clean, wear gloves with cleaning them. Deworm animals, watch for wounds, control their fleas, and keep toilet bowl lids closed!
But, back to our adventure!

Oliver had a blast! He is a 'curtain climber', loves the attic, too, and got up onto the vet's counter. Of course, the treats were up there, and he began sniffing at the dog treat bag. He'll eat anything, even removes the tin foil wrapping from chocolate kisses and eats those!

He was happy looking out the window, watching the dogs arrive. He did the "Na, na, na, na, boo boo!" dance. Safe inside.

He gazed strangely as Sady was having HER worm pill, thinking - little food thief that he is, that she was getting food and he wasn't!

We know that cats live longer as indoor cats, but we love walking them on the ice, and around the property.  They like the outdoor life as much as we do.

They keep down the mice population and sit beside us as we sit on the deck or read by the lake shore.

Saturday 30 January 2010

Camera Critters

The cats are so bored...

Good thing they find their own fun, with toys, pretend mice, catnip toys, and tissue paper Camera Crittersall over the floor!

Round Robin Challenge: Water

looking at the skyRound Robin Jan. 30, 2010

Theme: Water
It's everywhere in Muskoka

You just can't always see it! This river drains into an apparently frozen lake! But we know about lake water temperatures! Ah, well. It's all water under the bridge now!

Friday 29 January 2010

Top 100 books

The Big Read

The Big Read, an initiative by the National Endowment for the Arts, has estimated that the average adult has only read 6 of the top 100 books they’ve printed.

1 Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series – JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
11 Little Women – Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 – Joseph Heller 
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien1
7 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch – George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House – Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis
34 Emma – Jane Austen
35 Persuasion – Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne
41 Animal Farm – George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 The BFG - Roald Dahl
45 The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies – William Golding
50 Atonement – Ian McEwan
51 Black Beauty - Anne Sewell
52 Dune – Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez (didn't finish it!)
61 Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
62 Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History – Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road – Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick – Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
72 Dracula – Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses – James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal – Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession – AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple – Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web – EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince- Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks
94 Watership Down – Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet – William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

Thursday 28 January 2010

Snow Squall Warnings - too little too soon?

Snow Squall Warning for: Port Carling - Port Severn

Snow squalls expected to continue through the night. A cold westerly flow continues to generate snow squalls to the east of Georgian Bay. Weather radar indicates the strongest band extending from about Killbear Provincial Park through Parry Sound and eastward toward the Huntsville area. Near zero visibilities in heavy snow and blowing snow will be associated, along with rapid snowfall accumulation. Local snowfall rates in excess of 15 centimetres per 12 hours are possible. The squalls are expected to shift out of most regions Thursday morning as winds shift to northwesterly, however they may persist in the Port Carling and Port Severn area until tomorrow evening.

Who knew? We had 15 cm. overnight. The cats are quite upset. Last week's thaw had them fooled.

Then, after the sun came out, lulling us into a false sense of security. The wind did not diminish, and the snow in the trees, nestled on the bows of the evergreens, was flying throughout the forests.

Then, a new message, this time in green:

Snow Squall Warning for:
Port Carling - Port Severn


Snow Squall Warning ended for Port Carling - Port Severn

Ya think? Nope... and I have the photos and video to prove it. My meeting tonight cancelled, I am grateful to play in the snow and stay off of the roads.

What a spectacular day for a retiree! The sun broke through in the morning, but the clouds built up again. Very little sky to see, though.


The Booze hits the financial fan

I am very much impressed with this Muskoka news. In a landmark decision, the Lake Joseph club's liquor licence has been suspended by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission.

As I listened to the CBC Radio news report (cynical me!), I thought, 'Yes, perhaps in April - when few are about?'

Spring: March/April is a between season when lake ice is iffy, and towns are quiet. But, no, I am quite surprised that its licence is being suspended during the 'shoulder season' (June 1st) until part of Muskoka's peak season: July 16th.

Now, the restaurant won't be closed, but it will not be serving liquor during this time. Not too much of a tragedy, in my wee mind, since the only transportation access for this spiffy club is from lake or highway.

If you recall, the club was charged after the July 3, 2008 tragedy in which Tyler Mulcahy, 20, his girlfriend Nastasia Inez Elzinga, then 19, and friends Kourosh Totonchian, 19, and Cory Mintz, 20, spent part of an afternoon eating and drinking at the Water's Edge restaurant at the Lake Joseph Club in Minette. The four friends were served a total of 31 drinks that fateful afternoon. Quite a bit for 3 young people who had 15 number of traffic violations between them. We know how inhibitions are dulled with alcohol, and the driver had not shown much discretion when sober.

You can see this freewheeling couple on their motorcycle on Peninsula Road, passing us on a solid line, on this winding, typical Lake Joe area  road.

The photo shows the memorial at the accident site.
And, as I told a Globe and Mail reporter, Kate Hammer,  in an interview on the anniversary of the incident, 'nothing has been learned in the year since we lost three teenaged men in a drinking and unsafe driving incident a year ago, July 3, 2008'.

Smart Serve OntarioThe problem is that the servers, trained in Smart Serve to withhold alcohol after patrons have had enough, must follow the policies of their managers and club owners. And this is an exclusive club for the privileged and rich. An overnight stay runs around $300/person (2009 rates)

It must be club policy to support the servers, often young people trying to earn a living, or paying their way through university. The onus must be on a club: managers and owners, to follow through. 
Three servers who worked at the club as well as ClubLink Corporation still face charges of permitting drunkenness.  There will be a status hearing on those charges in March.

Muskoka club gets licence pulled in crash
Toronto Star
After the accident, Tim Mulcahy, Tyler's father, purchased a full-page newspaper ad lobbying Premier Dalton McGuinty to implement restrictions for young

G8 2010 News

Moose FM reported:

YOU NEED TO KNOW: School Buses Cancelled During G8

Schools will be open, but bus transportation cancelled for the week of June 21st to June 25, the duration of the G8. It appears that life as we know it will be over during the G8 in Huntsville. Administrators from both the Trillium Lakelands District School Board and the Simcoe Muskoka Catholic School Board have made the decision based on the advice of the Integrated Security Unit. 

You can read more about their plans here. It appears as if local businesses may or may not suffer, aside from the restaurants and accommodations that will feed and house media and support staff. Participants will be in Deerhurst Inn, they have it made!

So glad we do not live there! I remember during Ice Storm '98 parents got together, well a vitriolic few, complaining that our local school was closed for the 10 days the region was without power. This was in an Ottawa bedroom community, where most teachers lived in rural Carleton, on road that were iffy. 
Then, the principal called in several supply teachers, and had 50 students, with the entire staff showing up!

But the news continues: Superintendent of Schools for the Simcoe Muskoka Catholic School Board Darren Schmidt says high school examinations will continue even with the changes. 
Altered Examinations:
-Huntsville High School - June 15 - 18, 2010 and June 28, 2010 with PA days - June 29 and 30
-St Dominic Catholic Secondary School - June 16 - 18, 2010 and June 28 and 29, 2010 with PA day - June 30

Wednesday 27 January 2010

Winter visitor - pileated woodpeckers

Any bit of colour pleases me at this time of year. The ducks, geese, hummingbirds, heron, cormorant have long gone.

The winter birds provide a change of scenery, as they are seldom seen in summer, hidden by lovely green foliage.

The hawk I spotted yesterday. Just a brief fly-by, as critters are well-buried under the surface of the snow cover, in their burrows, and food is scarce by the lakeshore. This is a rare summer photo.

I haven't seen nor heard the pileated woodpeckers, although the little ones like to sit in our bird feeder/can!

The pileated woodpecker made us a visit. It parked itself on the railing in the snow, then climbed up the tree. It ended up on the bird feeder, swinging madly. The music is the late Oliver Schroer's "The Colour of Snow". Dec. 26, 2008.

With the cold and snow of January, the bird population tends to change. This is the Jan. 2008 video of the woodpecker, with its delightful red cap. 

In the summer (a lot of my blog friends are bringing out summer photos!), the woodpeckers were scolding the cat, who was in the forest hunting for 'mice friends' while the woodpeckers were hunting for THEIR supper. I was sitting on my deck, on the computer, when I heard a bizarre noise. It had to be a bird. It was the cat's fault, Sady, who was bothering the pileated woodpeckers. I hadn't seen them in months, not since the snow melted. They were squawking away at her. They saw me and were quite quiet. In the background you can hear the happy cicada, too. Another lovely Muskoka day! July 31, 2009.

Tuesday 26 January 2010

Muskoka Construction- rain, snow, sleet, hail

In My World...MWT White
It just keeps on keeping on. Through fall, rain, snow, sleet, hail~

Then the snow really flew, as well as those roofing nails. We walked by this house for a month, impressed with these men working up high, bashing in nails, the radio merrily blaring!

Gotta be fun up there doing roofing at -15 C.!
This was last week.

This week's warmer temperatures must have made it more comfortable!

I can't wait to see what the house will look like. It's not ours, but it is intriguing following the progress!

Monday 25 January 2010

Compliments vs. complaints


Isn't it amazing how frugal some are with compliments?
They negate not from our power.
They are free,
can be delivered daily.
They have the power to uplift a soul.
Now give it back and pay it forward to someone!
Find something good to say about each person you meet.
I used to have parents write an affirmation letter before parent/teacher interviews.
So much time we spend correcting behaviour rather than affirming the  wonderful people we know.
Now is a good time to encourage the positive!

We live in a wonderful world.
The beauty of having a vacation in Muskoka is time away from home and work, in a new environment. And, yes, a change is as good as a rest.
It lets us rejuvenate and play. Many complain: too cold, too hot, too much rain, not enough snow. But I have photos from last summer where we were playing in the water with an adorable granddaughter.

My friend wrote:
Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to find SOMETHING wonderful in this crappy January thaw today...

Anything...  the horses are stuck inside because of the risk of slipping. The deer are extremely annoyed. The chickens have decided to remain roosting.  I have tourists arriving at the resort, who can't ski... or snowshoe... or even skate, and will get bored playing Monopoly and Scrabble very quickly.

So help me find the brighter side of the darker weather!


My answer:
We do not live in Haiti.
It can't get any simpler than that.

We have food, clothing, water and opportunities, the greatest of which is visiting with fabulous hosts, like yourself who abound in Muskoka, and a chance to sit by the fire, which dispels the damp, to share, play games, and enjoy one another.

Most of us have understood this viewpoint of gratitude:  International Cooperation over Haiti
Most of us have lost no one due to tragic fate, like an earthquake. Or due to crushed limbs, amputation, gangrene, lack of morphine, pain killers and anitbiotics. We have universal health care.

It is their choice. One can be positive or be negative, a half full or half empty person. It is all in your attitude. You can compliment or you can complain.

My thought for the day?
I am grateful for this new bird feeder, for example.
The squirrels have yet to figure it out. It's been a month, this was a Lee Valley gift from my favourite pregnant daughter, and I choose to optimistic! I *know* they will figure it out, but so far, so good!

Life is good! I cannot complain.

Sunday 24 January 2010


The water melts off of the icicles. I did my best to capture the shot. I'll work on it!


Everyone has icicle trouble. 

I went into town the other day.
These icicles are dripping sideways!

The Pines (a Bracebridge LTC home) has some icicle issues.

One firm had been hired to power wash them away.
 On the right the before shot!
You can see, below, icicles...all gone. Glad he's not my husband/son! It's a long drop...

We have some hard-working folks with no fear of heights!

Saturday 23 January 2010

Sitting by the lake

What a glorious day we have had.

Hubby doing shopping errands. He's the best hubby ever!

I chopped some wood into kindling and vaccuumed. Broke a nail chopping wood. I guess it could have been worse! Really.

I have two workshops to prepare, and they are nearly done!

So I took some time off. I 'spose, when you are retired ...well, I digress!

I must admit to sitting by the lake, in the sun, reading a book. I *did* my chores! I know my late mom wouldn't be happy with the state of the place.
But I had a cat to walk!

Sady was my buddy, watching the machines zip by. (Oliver sleeping up in the rafters.)

The animal tracks dot the snow like freckles.  Squirrels hop around like kooks, looking for their buried peanuts. Wee little brain cells!
'Where did I put that last one?'

The lake is an endless sheet of white, except for the animal tracks.

The lichen grows, moist with melting snow.
The pine and the birch are beautiful.

The snow melts into the lake. The edge of the ice is wet where dark rocks have heated up. I can hear the ice groan as the wind blows over it. The lake level is down, and the ice has shifted.

The colours intrigue me. Pink granite rock, soft green lichen, and white birch framed by the green hemlock.