Saturday, January 30, 2010

Encounter in the woods

I just have to do a second post today!

I decided to go out this afternoon even though it was -20 °C with a windchill of -25° C!! There is a small wooded nature park near the local shopping mall that has been preserved as a green space by our enlightened mayor. There are trails, a stream, and several bird feeding stations as well as interpretative signs about the flora and fauna.

Well, after doing a bit of shopping at the mall, I walked to the park as it is on the way home. It was getting close to sunset but I wasn't very worried about "bad guys" lurking in the woods - not at these temperatures! Even so, as I walked the trail I stopped twice to look back. Well, the second time I did that, there he was! A most handsome, magnificent fox!! I was hoping to get a glimpse of one because of all the tracks I was seeing but instead of just a glimpse I had this most wonderful encounter.

He stopped and looked at me and I called to him. I told him over and over "I love you". (I tend to get emotional at times like this and just keep babbling). I wonder what these creatures think of me! Anyway, he was in fine form and was feeling playful. He leapt in the air a couple of times and then ran in quick spurts to my left. He was trying to get downwind of me to find out what I was. I saw him put his muzzle up and take deep sniffs of the air. I guess I wasn't considered a danger because he came closer and just like a dog playing in the snow, he crouched down with his bottom up and pushed his nose into the snow. I almost felt like I could say "here boy!" and he would have come right to my side! Then he did a wide semi-circle around me and I lost sight of him. I was breathless!

Walking on a bit, I scanned the woods to the right. There he was, not far away standing beside a tree and looking right at me. He came closer, made a long stretch putting his chin on his paws and then proceeded to trot away down the frozen stream. I whispered one more "I love you" as I watched him go.

Although I didn't have a camera with me, here is a picture I took of another fox on another walk. What a perfect day!

River walking

Several years ago I had my first "river walking" experience. This was something I had never heard of until a friend of mine mentioned it and asked if I wanted to go river walking in the Eastern Townships.

Background: I am not comfortable in water (other than my warm night-time bath!). I do not swim and tend to think of bodies of water (rivers, lakes, oceans) as something nice to look at and as great sources of wildlife photo opportunities.

But river walking - my! - is that ever something!

I was able to do it again just over a year ago in a beautiful canyon area in northern Mexico. River walking awakens feelings of freedom and exhilaration. And it led to this poem. The photograph is of the river in Mexico.

















RIVER WALKER

Wakened and wandering, a drifter, a dreamer
I walk the clear waters for cleansing and peace.
The long winding river gives freedom and wisdom
Time stretches slowly and day turns to night.

Moon shadows darken, plunging and drowning.
Wind songs rise swiftly and swirl away.
All of my dreams rest deep in your waters
With morning approaching they rise to the light.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Giving thanks

My last two posts involved issues with money but by AC's generous sharing of his "blog friends", it emphasizes that friends are much more important. I was very pleased to receive all your comments and will take time this weekend to check out your own blogs and/or profiles. I am very new to all this so I'm not sure about the etiquette or even the navigation but I expect things will become clearer. And thanks, Donna for becoming my first "follower". I am honoured.

For Donna I will post another cat and for Serenity, another Woodpecker. I love to share my photos so expect to see many if you care to return. And thank you so much Cuppa, Barry and Queenmothermamaw for your interest and kind comments.

Willow











Pileated Woodpecker


Monday, January 25, 2010

No good deed goes unpunished

Well, well, well ... this is my second post in a row with an aphorism for a title. I am beginning to think this one is more true than yesterday's though. Not really, but I realized today that at sometime during my trip to Sears to right the wrong of my under-charged bill, I lost my transit card.

To replace it and the nineteen fares that were on it will cost me about $53.

Huh? How unfair is that?!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Honesty is the best policy

Last Wednesday I was shopping at Sears and bought two articles of clothing - a top and a pair of pants. The sales clerk rang them up, I handed her my MasterCard, signed the bill and headed home.

I chide myself constantly for never looking at the bill and just signing. I do it almost everytime and can't seem to break myself of the habit! Anyway, when I got home and glanced at the bill I saw that the first item was rung up at $0.72! I filed away the bill (in order to check it versus the credit card statement) and thus started a four day conversation with myself.

Should I go back to the store and show them the error? Will it create a big hassle and take up a lot of my time? Does the store absorb the loss or will the clerk be held accountable? Has Sears ever given me a hard time (like that would justify not informing them)? Could I give the money to a charity? That would serve them right for selling coats with real fur on them!

Well, today I did the right thing and went back to Sears. You wouldn't believe the total silence by everyone in earshot when I declared that I had been under-charged! You could have heard the proverbial pin drop. The clerk had to call the manager to ask how to correct it. After hanging up the phone she said the manager wants to say "Bonjour" and to thank me. I thought I owed $39.99 minus $0.72 but it turned out the top was on sale and was only $23.99. So I paid it and left the store feeling kind of good.

I certainly do not claim any saintliness in the "honesty" department but this was like stealing and whether it is from an individual or a large corporation, the principle is the same.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Sidewalk café

I guess I must be an optimist because when I think of winter I think of crisp white snow, sunshine and cobalt blue skies. I forget all about the dirty slush or frigid temperatures. Well today lived up to my idealized winter day!

I headed out to Mount Royal this morning and spent hours wandering about looking for wildlife. There were lots of tracks in the snow (fox, raccoon, squirrel, crow) but not very many creatures were out and about. At least not where I could see them. However a Downy Woodpecker was very cooperative by posing in the sun on a nearby tree.
Here it is.

The most amazing part of the day came later though when I was on my way home. By then I was feeling a little hungry and thought that a coffee and muffin would have been perfect. But the cafés on Côte-des-Neiges are always crowded and getting a seat is very difficult.

However ... the Second Cup had an outside terrace that was ... not crowded! So there I was, on January 23rd in a Montreal sidewalk café in the late afternoon!! I had no hat, no gloves and it was absolutely wonderful.

Mon pays c'est l'hiver ... vive l'hiver!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Darcy


How is this for a handsome fellow?















He is named after the famous Mr. Darcy of Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice" because of his dark good looks. Unlike the brooding Mr. Darcy however, this one is quite mischevious and loves to tease (dare I say bully) the other cats with whom he shares his living space. But his beauty allows him to get away with most transgressions.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Swallowtails & Snowflakes - Kaleidoscopes & Collages

Some time back I was experimenting with photographs and a photo-editing tool which transforms them into kaleidoscopic images. It is great fun and you never know what the results will be. Here is the original image (a Black Swallowtail butterfly on Daisies) and the kaleidoscopic image (which looks like a snowflake).

Before:









After:










And here is a collage of sorts of various kaleidoscope photos (from images of fall foliage):










Thursday, January 14, 2010

Cats of course

Already at my fourth posting and I haven't mentioned cats yet. What is wrong with me?!

I received a tiny book called "Cat Quips" for Christmas from a lovely friend named Erica and there are two quotes which resonated with me:

I put down my book
"The Meaning of Zen"
and see the cat smiling into her fur
as she delicately combs it with her rough
pink tongue.

"Cat, I would lend you this book to study
but it appears that you have already read it."

She looks up and gives me her full gaze.
"Don't be ridiculous," she purrs. "I wrote it."

Dilys Laing, "Miao"

and

What, I sometimes ask,
will they think of to ruin next?
Why do they always pick on
something that might one day,
if they hadn't mucked it up, have
been valuable? Why on earth, with
all the experience we've had, do we
go on having Siamese cats? Then
I see Sass's blue eyes looking up at
me out of that anxious, pointed face
- and I pick him up and hug him.
That is my answer.

Doreen Tovey, from "A Comfort of Cats"



My beautiful cat Shanna

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Anger management!

A couple of years ago I wrote this passage:

"If I were a blogger this would be today’s entry:

Today I nearly became a statistic. Yesterday I read an article on traffic safety in the local paper which stated that, since the beginning of the year, 29 pedestrians have been hit by cars in St-Laurent. I was almost number 30.

This morning as I walked to work along Rochon Street (chosen since it is far safer than my previous route along the “racetrack” known as Cote Vertu), I approached an intersection. I stepped off the curb but saw a car coming on my left which was going fast enough to make me believe he was going through the stop sign. Finally he stopped (presumably because he saw me) and just as I got in front of him, he stepped on the gas. I had to jump backwards to avoid being hit. I yelled “HEY!” And then I went to the side of the car and yelled in a voice that I didn’t know I had “WHAT IS THE MATTER WITH YOU?!!!!” It was so loud that a woman on the sidewalk part way down the street turned in alarm. The driver just looked blankly at me and then drove off.

What scared me more than nearly being knocked down by this car was finding out that I could be capable of such intense rage. Mind you, I did not swear (as I did in another incident) and I did not punch the car (yes, another incident) and I did not try to give him the finger because, being uncoordinated, the last time I did that it was my thumb that I raised and that really gives a totally different message …

Anyway, later today I was perusing some magazines in the pharmacy and saw one called something like “Body and Soul”. The cover had titles of articles like “Getting in touch with your intuition”, “How to have beautiful skin”, and “Tools to transform your anger”. Ahh I thought. This is what I need. I flipped open the magazine to the table of contents and scanned the titles. Hmm, no “Tools to transform your anger”. I flipped through the pages … nope. I went back to the table of contents and now I noticed in small print at the bottom of the adjacent page a list of page numbers and article titles. OK, page 86! I went to page 86 – it was the last page of an article on “How to have happy feet”. I went back to the listing thinking I had misread the page number. No, it was 86. I went back to page 86 thinking I had misread that page number. No it was the happy feet page! Meanwhile all sorts of *&^%! mail-in cards started sliding out of that ^*&@# magazine onto the floor! I slammed the magazine shut, threw it back on the rack and huffed out of the store.

Maybe this was a test. I think I failed …”

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

I want to be like a slug!!


In grappling with the ethical dilemmas of living on this planet where those at the upper echelons of the food chain kill those who reside at lower levels, I became a vegetarian (with aspirations to be a vegan). However, during moments of wishful thinking I have often thought how wonderful it would be to live just from the energy of the sun. No killing, no eating even. Just absorbing sunlight into chlorophyll bearing cells! Such freedom, such purity!

Well, today it was announced that a creature has been found which is both animal and plant!

As reported by PhysOrg.com: "Researcher Sidney K. Pierce said the super green sea slug Elysia Chorotica which lives in waters on the east coast of the U.S. and Canada, is known to steal genes and photosynthesizing organelles called chloroplasts from its favorite intertidal algal species, Vaucheria litorea, but it now seems it has developed an entire chemical pathway to manufacture the green pigment "chlorophyll a", itself."

Basically all it has to do is bask in the sunlight to receive sufficient nourishment to live. No killing!

This is the true act of going "green". I like it! I am definitely up to the task of being a slug.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Very first posting


Here is my very first post. Now to check the look of it!
Hmm ... not bad! Of course it helps to put the image of a beautiful creature in it!
Every so often I have a thought or a photograph I'd like to share so this is where I will do that.
It should be an interesting experience.