Saturday 31 July 2010

Giant Hogweed in Muskoka

Giant Hog Weed. Yes, it is in Muskoka. These photos are from Bala. It is creepy. A huge, silent beast wafting in the breeze, producing many seeds. The plants were brought in from China for ornamental purposes. They now fall into the invasive species category.

The plants, near Weismuller's lumber, are quite tall, the plant can grow to be 1.75 m. It's found in Port Carling,

The stems are quite large (2 - 8 cm in diameter), lending themselves to pea shooters, and much danger for small children. Immediately wash the area with soap and water and stay out of the sun.

The sun causes the reaction, and much care is required. It causes phytophotodermatitis. Within 24 hours you will get large blisters and emergency care may be required. Phytophototoxicity is amplified by humidity and perspiration. The blisters peak between 1 to 3 days.

Plant Poisoning, Phytophototoxins: eMedicine Emergency Medicine

by SM Shepherd
Phytophotodermatitis (PPD) is a phototoxic inflammatory dermal reaction induced by exposure to certain light-sensitizing plant products followed by exposure to long-wave ultraviolet light (UV-A 320-380 nm). Both components (plant and light) are required; neither agent alone can cause phytophotodermatitis. 

• Giant weed that burns and blinds spreads across Canada [National Post]
• Giant weed that can cause blindness popping up in Ontario, B.C. [Globe and Mail]

A forestry official confirmed two new findings of giant hogweed last week in Renfrew County, west of Ottawa. It has previously been spotted in Newfoundland, New Brunswick, Quebec, southwestern Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia. About 50 plants were spotted in Toronto’s Don Valley two weeks ago.

Giant hogweed is already rampant in parts of Europe including England, where the rock group Genesis wrote a 1971 ode to the plant and its “thick dark warning odour.”

Its sap is carcinogenic and teratogenic, meaning it can cause cancer and birth defects.

If you get the sap in your eye, the chemical in it, furocoumarins, can singe the cornea and cause temporary or permanent blindness.

For more information on identifying or removing giant hogweed, call the Invading Species Hotline at 1-800-563-7711, or visit or  
Thanks for the tip from Matt @ Muskoka Lakes Winery.

Thursday 29 July 2010

Skywatch Friday -clouds, gull, setting sun

We did a drive-by to get photos for the Muskoka Bala Habitat Build. On the way home I did a 'STOP THE CAR!' (He's getting used to this!)

The sky over the Moon River, in Bala, was beautiful.

Way down at the end of the river, well, the other end, I suppose, the pinks were candy floss colours.

The gulls danced on the wind all about me. 

A man was fishing and he attracted the gulls who soared in the wind off of the bridge.

The train bridge had a spot of colour, too

Our Skywatch Team:
Klaus | Sandy | Wren | Fishing Guy|Sylvia

Celtic women at Casino Rama

We decided to see a group that flew across 'the pond' to perform. We'd seen the ladies on TV. My question... why, if there are several women is it Celtic Woman?


Celtic Woman vocalists Lisa Kelly, Chloe Agnew, Lynn Hilary and Alex Sharpe, with violinist Mairead Nesbitt, perform at Ireland's historic Powerscourt House and Gardens in Enniskerry, County Wicklow

Now, we stayed in a $200/night hotel. We can't afford the Casino Hotel... if you have to ask the price - well, you don't belong! We aren't high rollers, they comp the rooms for them. We saw a broad range of people in our walkabout of the Casino. Just an amazing place. There were people with big bucks, and lowly folks like us.

The performance was a quality performance. No doubt. The fiddler is a woman of skill, strength, stamina and endurance. You know the kind. She fiddles, dances, and moves about the stage with the skill of a gazelle, all the while fiddling.

The vocalists were superb. A definitely angelic sound.

But wouldn't you think, during a two hour show, there would be more than 2 songs that were...just say, Celtic. "Songs from the Heart" is the name of the tour. And they were, no doubt songs the musicians adore, but jumpin' jeezlies, they were mushy Hollywood songs that were backed up by a light show that would have done well on Canada Day in the capital. I'm just sayin' that we paid to see them in the spotlight, not to see ourselves faced with spotlights in our faces.

It took us 30 min. to get out of the parking lot. Does this make sense? We should have gone home at that rate! From Bala it is a 45 minute drive. I suppose we are old farts now.

It was the beginning to our big trip to S.E. Ontario to house hunt, and it was nice to go out and relax before our 12-day marathon.

Home safely from S.E. Ontario, laundry is done, house is sold and a new one bought.

Tuesday 27 July 2010

Soccer mom again

I first became a soccer mom 20 years ago. It was fun. Non-competitive, kis having fun being kids. There was always the kid who didn't remember which net was theirs. We chatted at the side lines, took turns bringing snacks. I remember cutting up oranges.

Happily having hunted and landed a new home, we went with our daughter to her soccer game once again. Caitlin has always played soccer for fun, even when in Waterloo University far from home.

It was fun driving around farm country, avoiding bikes, watching domestic animals.

What fun as we were in charge of new-born Isabelle, while Caitlin ran her buns off. She is wondering why I'm taking a picture this way????

Monday 26 July 2010

when you give a girl a camera

Sorry to leave the lovely couple at the motel after several days there. Neat and clean, cheap and cheerful.

The hydro crews and fishermen are much earlier risers than we are!

After a drive by, we found a house that is not listed in the handy dandy MLS map we found on-line. More on that later.

Driving around S.E. Ontario has been marvellous. Lots of interesting sights, if you take the time to look. Unfortunately, many are on the move, late for something, and tailgating. It makes for a stressful trip. We pulled over on Carp Rd. and found an ancient (for Canada's timelines) cemetery. The Landon family. Some of the stones dated 1861, the latest 1958.

Lots of old barns and farm houses.

As we house hunt, it puts it all into perspective when you think of early settlers, many soldiers granted 200 acres of land, clearing 2 acres a year, finding the land, and making themselves a home.

We were so grateful that the kids took us in. After days on the road, we no longer feel like road warriors.  "Mom", as we call our daughter, let us do laundry. Jofee and I took a break to play on the swings.

She wanted to use my camera, and since it is a pretty heavy duty one, we had some fun.

We tried to capture a bee on a flower with limited success. The is the behind the scenes view.

Visiting the kids and grandkids is a blast.

Sunday 25 July 2010

Road Warriors

Yes, house hunting is difficult.

Our blessed Arnprior motel roommates have gone home. Hydro crews who toil long and hard. It is not an easy life leaving family behind - for both workers and family.

By noon we are all alone in the motel. They are back in the evening, havin' a beer and relaxin'!

They rise early here at the motel, 5 a.m., and have a cigarette outside. They are fun men, using the "F" word as both adjective and adverb, as well as verb and noun.

MEANING: noun: An uncontrollable or obsessive use of obscene language.   :-)

On the weekend, we have people here with large boats, fishing early, coming home to relax.

We were compelled to substitute a planned trip to England for a tour around S.E. Ontario to house hunt.

In between staying in Perth and Arnprior, we were a few days in Kemptville.

In a spirit of decadence part way along the way, we found a B and B in Kemptville called Nestle Down. A delightful couple.

Ellen and Al Miller just happen to know our adult children. Al worked with my daughter's mother-in-law (Statscan) and both son-in-law and Al are involved in the Green Party. What a small world.

She is a delightful woman, too. Ellen declared that if she was to move to a farm she wanted to create a B and B. And she did in spades. The place boasts three rooms, each with a private bathroom and with wireless Internet.

She had them build a pond, as a Gaspe girl, she wanted water of some sort. Her story of their courtship is delightful.

They run on green energy.

They have cows and horses and reap hay from the bounty of the land. I cannot tell you what a gracious host she is - as words fail me. I felt as if I had turned up at a sister's home, which Ellen designed, and was welcomed with love, joy and attention.

Each afternoon we regaled her with stories of our trip, and house hunting adventures.

French toast for brekkie

They have animals.

They live on a working farm - retirement for Al? No way! Another retiree helps Al bring in the hay.

Wonderful place to stay.

Massive size farms.
A lovely community.
Great food!

This morning, we had an early breakfast with a delightful server who regaled us with conversation and stories. All along the way we met both grumpy and joyous people. We shall remember those who like their jobs, no matter what it is they do. Caleesta (sp?) really made our day. What a precious young lady!!!!

Saturday 24 July 2010

House hunting trip #3

Isabelle & Caitlin were happy to see us.
It is a hoot. Such a variety of homes. We have looked in Cardinal, Heckston, Kemptville, Merrickville, Jasper, Perth, Arnprior, Calabogie Hills... Many interesting road names: Burnt Lands Road. Galetta Side Road. Torwood Estates. We popped in to visit Caitlin and do laundry!

We have driven to 25 homes, entered 15 of those, some more than once, looked over the internet at hundreds of houses.

We are getting closer. I cannot go by a For Sale sign without:
1) checking the roof
2) looking for a garage
3) looking for neighbour's proximity
4) scanning for evidence of misuse or neglect.

Such a happy Isabelle. Red hair!!!
It is a curse! You know how you begin to notice cars when you in the market for one? It is driving me insane. Not a long drive, not even a short putt. The homes on the golf course were nice, too, but a but too exposed to golfers and golf balls. Could you see black cat, Oliver, on a golf course? He'd love to visit the sand traps below one property!

But the houses all have stories in them. Ones told by much evidence. A metal roof warped by something, with debris in the eavestrough. Children's toys left behind. Three nooks, each with a dining table and chairs.

Lovely BR house falling apart?
In one, there is obviously a divorce or death, as there is anger in the house. No, I'm not psychic, but the home is missing a woman's touch, beds unmade, things a woman selling a house would notice. Plus, there are 4 or 5 holes in the wall where a kid (?) has punched through his mist of anger. No women's clothes in evidence. I wonder what the story is all about?

Another house, owned by someone with an Asian name, is being rented, but there is no bed, and the house is in disrepair. There is water in the basement, and earwigs swimming around happily in a seemingly empty home. The eaves trough drain is apart, and the water is seeping into the house. This home was a bit scary. There was mold in the furnace room, creeping a couple of feet up the wall. The refrige has a couple of food items in it, but not many, plus an alarm clock. There is no furniture of any kind.

water treatment plant -great house, poison ivy, too
Another, with a horrible roof, must have been housing a couple of families. With 5 bedrooms, and 7 beds. Right there you are talking $4-digits of repair work. They adore horses, with a bathroom devoted to the beast: horse faces on the towels, on the wallpaper, towel racks, and photos everywhere. This one has much love, and this is comforting in that loving animals so, you hope they loved their house.

We looked at homes with poison ivy in the backyard. One sitting on a golf course. One sitting on 215 acres and for another one you drive through a marsh to get to it.

Many seniors are giving up 20+ acres, as the property is too much for them. Beautiful people sitting on 25 acres for 25 years. What a marvellous life; to work and toil in the earth, keeping a garden, house and home in good shape. Beloved horses, chickens and livestock that must be sold. I know the hard time my Dad had giving up his dog...

There are people who have built extensions on old, brick, century farmhouses. So incongruous. One old home had kept the integrity of the building by placing period antiques in this heritage home. Just beautiful. Can't afford it, though. Ah well. We truck on!!!!

What appeals to me most is driving around S.E. Ontario and finding interesting graveyards, or farms happily growing corn, soy beans, flax. Or seeing cows, chicken, horses, ducks, llamas and sheep out grazing together.

The "Back Off Government" signs are a bit intimidating. The rape of the land has been an issue in clear cutting and pollution. We must respect the earth.