Tuesday 31 August 2010

Bala Falls Hydro Project part 17

One anonymous reader wrote me a message. They told me that I have 'failed to post comments of people in Bala who are knowledgeable about the project.'
I beg to differ.

It's not as if those against the project are rushing to make comments on my blog. One person has done so, ranting to support his campaign, and I will not publish campaign speeches!

Too few who welcome this project are speaking up. Many are registering protests, few are speaking in favour of working with SREL. People with more sense than money are buying up here and broadcasting their rights to use the lakes as Nascar tracks, and do not want anyone else to use this water for any other purpose.

I refuse to post anonymous comments anymore. The lobby groups, led by unelected, self-proclaimed community members, rant in my comments sections. Others need to stand up and have the courage of their convictions. Much press has been given to this vocal group; little to those, like me, who believe in renewable energy sources.

I seems as if there is mistrust of SREL, and I'm not sure why. Many rape the land for trees and use its water to make money. Many abuse the water, too. Spoiled rich kids who sit by the lake, cruise its waters on power boats, whose cost would feed a family for a year in Tibet. Yet, no one mocks them. They dump fuel into the lake, pollute water and air, and have a sense of entitlement.

Overheard at dinner @ Bala Bay Inn: "I hate people who don't like jetskiis. Why did they move to Muskoka anyway?"

Of course, we bought in 1960, before jetskiis ruled the lakes! These 4 men, big dudes with more brawn than brains, had ridden a boat that would have fed a village in Tibet for a year, and booted the engine to impress us when they took off out of Bala Bay, having consumed their drinks.
Mr. Anonymous also told me that 'most of the power will be in spring' not during winter and summer.

I beg to differ. I have seen the falls run quite quickly in winter, see the video below. They do not know what they are talking about! We have a rainfall one day and the change in the falls is enormous. Winter melt can be quick and surprising. It is not as if there isn't a damn there anyway!

Such anger and mistrust

This 'anonymous' person claims that SREL is spreading false and misleading information. I beg to differ. Many are spreading rumours; like the people in Bala who claim that the hydro project will kill fish. There is no evidence of this. The environmental impact report was clear.

I will be so glad to be away from these ugly red signs, the signage in beautiful treed Muskoka have been exploding. The 'stop the bala hydro' signs disappear in the clutter of 'for sale' signs, and municipal election posters, which will be short-term. The beauty of Muskoka is marred by signage, reflecting anger and NIMBY. These are business people at SREL, who have invested in this project to bring us into the new millennium.

To foreshadow: Bala Falls in winter! Rushing water soothes after a big storm.

Monday 30 August 2010

Holland Marsh - MWT

MWT WhiteWith the recent cold spell, then hot spell, the temperatures are deceiving. Somehow September has almost crept up and harvest time is here. At this time of year in Ontario we are harvesting much and buying it up at Farmer's Markets. I read a great article about it last October, and have saved it for a not-so-rainy day! 

S.E. Ontario fields
One of my favourite place to drive through, although I haven't been in a long time, is Holland Marsh. Now, these photos are of S.E. Ontario, as I try to stay off of Highway #400 that brings a million tourists on long weekends. This is the best  route up to Holland Marsh from Toronto.

The Marsh is low-lying flatland that runs northeast from upper York Region (Toronto) to the southern tip of Lake Simcoe. Drained for agriculture in the 1920s, with 28 km of canals, it is a going concern. But much more could be supplied and eaten locally.
  • One of the most fertile vegetable gardens in North America 
  • With 135 farmers who work 10,000 acres
  • The Marsh's unique muck soil grows bok choy, beets, cauliflower and carrots
  • Worth more than $50-million – or 14 per cent of Ontario's vegetables – each year.
  • About 55 per cent is exported.
  • carrots and onions make up 70 per cent of Holland Marsh output
  • Chinese cabbage, purple carrots, collards, kale, kohlrabi, dandelion, beets, Swiss chard, leaf lettuce and various herbs make up 47 varieties of food sold.
Irrigation systems
Unfortunately, with big box stores and supermarket chains, centralized distribution systems means that the small local farmers cannot offer the quantity that buyers demand. Foreign suppliers can offer more economical produce, at a lower cost to the consumer.

I am rather surprised at this. But have written previously about Cheap-Mart, and the type of influence such stores have on us in Ontario. Buy locally and support your local farmers!

A 20-minute animation of the consumerist society, narrated by Anne Leonard, to view online or download. Includes footnoted script, credits, blog, ...

Lovely straight rows
Ontario corn

Karma Kitchen: a unique idea

Hospice Muskoka Valentine Ball
We do a lot of volunteer work in our community. With a large population of seniors, many of us help one another out. Those without a lot of money benefit from a wide range of services in this community: Family, Youth and Child Services Muskoka, Habitat for Humanity, Hospice Muskoka, Meals on Wheels, Cranberry Festival,  to name a few. Many are kept going by volunteers, at least a volunteer Board of Directors.
Here is a brand new idea.

Karma Kitchen: Growing in Generosity

A restaurant where there are no prices on the menu and where the check reads $0.00 with only this footnote: Your meal was a gift from someone!

I heard about this on Outlook, a BBC radio show I podcast. But a quick search and I found this:

Hospice Muskoka Fundraiser, Feb. 2009
Run by volunteers, our meals are cooked and served with love, and offered to the guest as a genuine gift. To complete the full circle of giving and sustain this experiment, guests make contributions in the spirit of pay-it-forward to those who will come after them. In keeping this chain going, the generosity of both guests and volunteers helps to create a future that moves from transaction to trust, from self-oriented isolation to shared commitment, and from fear of scarcity to celebration of abundance.

What a wonderful idea! It has spread throughout this continent, as well as across the pond.

Sunday 29 August 2010

rocks, trees, roots, burials

The ancient Chinese said, "树高千丈, 叶落归根", meaning, "A tree may grow to be a thousand zhang (10,000 feet) high, but its leaves fall back to its roots".

I have been thinking of my roots.  Holing fast to good memories, letting go of the bad.

Where is home to you? Ours is changing and it is  hard leaving things behind. I have been working on my parent's gravesite, trying to make it a little more homey. The flowers died with the heat and lack of rain. The family all turned up for the brief ceremony.

The stone has been ordered, but will arrive after we leave Muskoka!

Josephine helped 'bury the treasure', as we explained it to her. This is a place, her Papa told her, where people can go and think of loved ones, and talk to them in their hearts.

Having interred my parents, I am thinking about the cycle of life

While Josephine was visiting we spotted a slug eating from the carcass of a frog skeleton. 

 My blog friend, Yogi, created an interesting post. He is the person who turned me on to geocaching, and I completed my first last month! I, too, have a fascination with cemeteries and grave markers, also life and death.

He said, in part: 
Patty Parsons
I got my new issue of Scientific American earlier this week and it is a special issue on "The End."  They had an article that blew my mind. It was on a laboratory that studied the degradation and decomposition of human bodies after death. I had to check this out.

Basically, this is a place where the pros study body decomposition for research purposes. Morbidly fascinating. All for the greater good.

I haven't had time to read my SciAm yet, but I will, now!

Friday 27 August 2010

Gardens I have known

Nepean, 2006
While preparing to move, I have enjoyed looking back at the gardens I have had to leave behind.

I believe I have a green thumb, inherited from the Dad who adopted me! :-)

We were two years here in Muskoka (2006 - 2010), and together in Nepean (2004 - 2006), and I was 7 years on Hobart CR. in Nepean, after we were married in 2002 we bought a house together. (I moved there  after Ice Storm '98!).
Nepean, single mom, 2004, much thinner!
Some are places are easier to leave than others.
You know bushes can be replaced. Insects abound. New gardens to work in.

I am comforted by the notion that the new owner of this property loves Muskoka as I do and will love to watch the lake during the seasons.  She will be happy to be closer to *her* kids, as we are moving to be nearer to ours. Cottage Country East (Perth) will be our new home.

My butterfly bush
The irony is that the family from whom we bought are moving back to England in order to care for failing parents falling through the cracks in health care in the U.K.

I know my Mom would be happy the new owner is taking over and she will love it much as Mom did. Despite those who feel Mom'd be P.O.d we were moving (as if I needed to hear this from her friends!), she will be happy to watch over the new owner here.

Mom loved her frog pond, and loved the lake.

butterfly on clover

Love the lupins

Sometimes, you can take them with you as seeds or bulbs.
Emily in her garden by the lake
a present from me

Sometimes you cannot.
flowers on the 'Flower Rock'
My mother loved the 'Flower Rock', and I religiously planted it for her! I will find another planter and plant in her honour!
bee on Dad's sweet peas
I saved some seeds!

Mom and Dad's grave

Thursday 26 August 2010

Poetry prompt

"For this week’s prompt, we’re going to do a little something interesting. You’ll make your own Wordle from one (or more) of your own poems, and then write a new poem out of the resulting Wordle."

 Visit http://www.wordle.net/ and click on the “Create your own” link near the top left of the page.
I chose the poem: 'Things I'll Miss'

End-of-season & winding down

summer = eating outside!
With the end of August approaching, I was shocked to see my firebush changing colour. Not sure why. I have had a lot of 'last ones' lately.

I guess with our crazy schedules, I have been concentrating on family visiting, moving, and our volunteer work.

I'll miss volunteering at the Bala Cranberry Festival (a fundraiser for the town), and with Hospice Muskoka. Volunteer work is fulfilling, and I heartily recommend that you do something for someone else.

Today I delivered my daughter to the Habitat Build for 8 a.m., helped hubby deliver baby to her for 10:30 feeding, held the hand of toddler who wanted to collect rocks -not watch mummy work.

beer for adults - crayons for kids!

Hubby delivered Meals on Wheels at noon then he  did errands in town.

Time passes so quickly.

As a reward, we went out for dinner Tuesday. Between laundry, meals, dishes, packing, playing...

We attended the ski show for the last time on Tuesday in Bala, too. Having stuffed ourselves at the Bala Bay Inn (they do a BBQ buffet Tu., we were happy for a walk and a bit of a stand.
Fun with mommy

Parking for the ski show!

women coming in for a landing

Here, catch!

pyramid scheme
Lots work hard on this!
beautiful moon!

Wednesday 25 August 2010

Both orison, lament and joyful celebrations

Someone seeking a house to buy inspected our tankless water heater and doubted its ability to  heat all the water fast enough. I can assure her that it works well, although my hubby had difficulties convincing her at the time, and she couldn't run away fast enough.

We had a houseful last week with the two of us, plus visitors: three adult children, one son-in-law, a toddler and infant (18 diapers/ day!), and my brother.

Caitlin's birthday was a hit, with fruit bouquets from Creative Fruit Bouquets in Bracebridge.

I updated my facebook status:

5 loads of laundry done, the 6th on the line (soaked, but well-rinsed) 7th in the dryer, 2 dishwasher loads done. I'd forgotten about babies and diapers, guests and guest towels, and sheets.

Splashing in the lake
Somehow, even with the rainy weekend, we had much fun playing in the water. The circle of life is unending.

Life change in any form is difficult. For some it is caregiving for ill loved ones, job loss, moving, all sorts of psychosocial trauma changes our circumstances. How well we deal with it varies.

For me, during those long months of helping my dad die with dignity, it was my blog friends who read my posts. People who laughed at my trite comments, fun photos, or complaints about noisy folks on the lake.

Bala Ski Show a hit!
As we anticipate another move (3rd in 7 years) I am holding fast to my blog buddies. A simple comment warms the heart. I know you are giving back what you received and you are the better for it. Thank you!

The joy of having family here is balanced by both orison and lament for family that has gone before. For if you cannot celebrate death, then celebrations of life are so much less meaningful. And do enjoy each day!

We interred my parents, accompanied by a toddler. We explained that this was a treasure that we buried to remind us of my parents. Of course, Josephine misunderstood and spent that day and the next asking me if I was dead! I explained that it was MY parents, not her mommy's parents.

Requiem in pace

A. E. Housman (1859–1936).  A Shropshire Lad.  1896.
XXXII. From far, from eve and morning
FROM far, from eve and morning
  And yon twelve-winded sky,
The stuff of life to knit me
  Blew hither: here am I.
Now—for a breath I tarry
  Nor yet disperse apart—
Take my hand quick and tell me,
  What have you in your heart.
Speak now, and I will answer;
  How shall I help you, say;
Ere to the wind’s twelve quarters
  I take my endless way.

Tuesday 24 August 2010

Bala Falls Hydro Project Misinformation part 16

Bala Falls
Karen McGhee has had to resort to sending out information, as well as writing letters to the editor,(p. 7) in order to clear up lies and myths surrounding this project.  While property prices are falling on the Moon River, due to rumours being spread, and fearmongering by the public, the economy will suffer. Rumours, such as the dam depleting fish stock on the river. (As if!) (Download the 2009 Fish Stocking List by clicking here. PDF)

Building on Moon River

Or that the falls will be 'a trickle', as if this will be good hydro dam management and produce power!

We visit Bala businesses as much as possible. We choose to eat here in town, shop when we can, but those visiting the falls, bringing picnic lunches, are not necessarily shopping here or giving any stores their business. The project is set to begin after Cranfest, when many stores are closed if not full-time, then weekdays.

I am so shocked at the attitudes of locals, as many businesses depend upon having a clean environment. This project could bring an added boost to a small, dying little town. Instead, locals are getting fired up, and cluttering a beautiful town with signs.

South Falls
Moon River runs to Georgian Bay, and while pollutants from 2-stroke engines continue to fall into it, the fish population is still healthy and will not be impacted by recreating and rebuilding the hydro dam.

Most of the local politicians have been publicly silent on this issue. It is only recently:


And amongst my friends, many are silent, too, fearing the wrath of the strident, vocal opponents.

Yet, Ontarians elected a premier whose platform included Green Energy. It is up to all of us to do our part, however small.  A Green Energy Act for Ontario: Executive Summary (PDF)


From Karen:
There have been a few developments in the project over the last couple months, that I would like to update you on, namely the following:

1.       The Ministry of Environment officially started its review of Swift River Energy Limited’s Environmental Screening Report in late July. SREL are anxiously awaiting its comments and decision.

2.       Swift River Energy has retained the economic experts at the Centre for Spatial Economics (C4SE) to complete an economic impact study of the potential impacts to the local businesses and economy for both the 12-18 month construction period and the long term operations, in response to a request from the Township and local businesses.  This work was started in early August and we are hoping to get a final report by the end of September.

3.       The Township of Muskoka Lakes presented its comments on SREL’s responses to its elevation request.  We were pleased that the vast majority of the concerns were considered to be sufficiently addressed.  The remaining handful of issues will be discussed fully in a written response by SREL and Hatch Energy’s Professional Engineers and Scientists by the end of this week.  SREL, in the meantime, will be addressing some of the more troubling comments made by Township staff and Council at the regularly scheduled Council meeting on Tuesday August 24th.  It is hoped that all misinterpretations and remaining concerns can be cleared up during that meeting and the upcoming response report.

Swimming at Bala Falls
It has also come to our attention that there has been some of the misinformation circulating about our project, and has resulted in some unsubstantiated fears and speculation by the community.  SREL has prepared the attached briefing notes for community leaders such as yourself, to provide you with some of the facts about the project.  We hope that this document will help in you in any discussions you may have with interested parties.  However, please remember that I am available to answer specific concerns at this email or by phone (provided below) and our website provides a multitude of  information about the project and the regulatory process we are currently following.  

Meanwhile, throughout the province there has been increased interest and media cover with respect to the provincial electricity grid and the impacts of the Green Energy Act that was passed last year.  I have provided the following links of various Toronto Star articles for your information if you are interested.  In addition, John Spears, wrote 3 great articles on the Ontario electricity sector or August 7th/10:
Bridge jumping above the falls
Swift River Energy Limited (SREL)

Karen McGhee, P.Eng.
Bala Project Manager
p:  905-331-9692