Monday, April 30, 2007

Spring Has Sprung - III - April 30, 2007

One of the ferns begins to bud An ostrich fern is starting to send fronds out. There are 30 of them in the back flower bed - its a wonderful display.

My Minature Tulips My miniature Turkish tulips did survive!!!!

The small centre bed

A touch of pink amongst the green from the very fragrant hyacinths.

A trillium begins to bloom

When I was a kid - back in the forest primeval - they told us it was illegal to take trillium from the wild and transplant them in a garden. Something about it being the Provincial Flower in Ontario - but hey we live in Québec

The bed by the fence

A friend who immigrated from Egypt was overwhelmed by the shades of green when he first came to this country.

This is probably the last garden I will ever own; I am finding that realization hard to process.

A Rose Is A Rose Is....

April 30, 2007 - towards the house.... an old, beloved friend.

This weekend over at Big Ass Belle, Lynette mourns the passing of an old friend. Lynette's writing is one of my daily pleasures and is always guaranteed to cause a reaction: anger, indignation, outright laughter, a simple smile of recognition or reflection.

Saturday's entry on her Madame Alfred Carriere climber got me thinking about how much I will miss our garden and how indeed it is possible to consider familiar flora as friends. When we bought the house four years ago, a beautiful mature garden came with it - overflowing with perennials: Iris, hostas, bleeding hearts, poppies, scented geraniums, day lilies, roses - climbers and bushes, ponies and things I don't even know the names of. It has been a joy watching it over the past four years - as it is now in the first flush of spring and as it becomes with the changes in season.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

On the Dog Theme

Thurber's Dogs book cover "If I have any beliefs about immortality, it is that certain dogs I have known will go to heaven, and very, very few persons."
James Thurber - American writer and humorist, whose dog cartoons enlivened the pages of the New Yorker.

And keeping up the tradition of dog cartoons, this week's New Yorker has a great one. Just click here to see what I'm sure is every male dog's dream - Reesie was all in favour of this one.

Bad Day at Black Rock - II

Reesie - unshavedAfter....All groomed (shaved?)There are worse things than bath day! Grooming Day! That's bath day plus....
And when that stupid arthritis medicine gives you a skin condition its even worse. They bath you twice and then shave you almost down to the skin. Gives you that punk rock look. Not dignified at 91!

Will gives a rub.

And hits the right spot.
But at least the one with the glasses and thin hair feels guilty enough to give extra rubs and treats from the big magic black box in the kichen.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Puppy Pics

Big Dog
I don't think this is PhotoShoped - and I thought Bundnie and Reesie were a handful!!!

Spring Has Sprung - II

It was a strange winter - uncharacteristically mild for the first half and the more typical bitter cold and miserable for the second. Each day the garden reveals a little more of what survived. Sometimes the most delicate of things seems to come through while more hardy plants have suffered.
Almost a daffodil

Not quite Wordsworth's host but....

A mature hosta breaking through.The beginning of a mature hosta which will end up measuring about 2 feet across.

In bloom
A bit more like it!

I don't recall planting these tulips but they're blooming.

Sadly it looks like my minature Turkish tulips didn't make it through the cold. If I were staying I'd be tempted to plant more. They are the mother-bulbs brought to Holland from Turkey in the 17th century and cultivated, crossbred and morphed into what we now think of as Dutch tulips.

ANZAC DAY - A Postscript

Newfoundland Blue EnsignI'm surprised when reading the Wikipedia entry for Anzac Day to see that April 25 is commemorated in St. John's, Newfoundland. It's not common knowledge outside Newfoundland that the Royal Newfoundland Regiment was the only North American unit to see active duty in Gallipoli.

Though the casualties and deaths the Regiment suffered at Gallipoli pale Royal Newfoundland Regiment Crestbeside those of the Australians and New Zealanders they were not so fortunate at the Battle of the Somme: 801 men went into battle on July 1, 1916, the following morning only 64 men answered morning roll call.

The figures from that day [57,470 casualties, 19,240 dead on the British side alone] are stomach turning: so much was lost so little gained.

Plus ça change!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

ANZAC Day - April 25

In 1972, at the height of the American War in Vietnam, Eric Bogle composed what is, I think, one of the most powerful anti-war songs ever written. Sadly this song about an event in 1915, written in 1972 is as topical and as heart-breaking in 2007.

This is a version by the Pogues and the incredible video montage was created by SmileyNoir and posted on YouTube on October 29, 2006.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Don't Fence Me In!

The fence in the tree Back in 1987 we spent Easter Weekend visiting Palanque - it was an incredible experience on more levels than could be imagined - scenically, archaeologically, historically and from a travel anecdote angle (a hotel on stilts over a mosquito-infested swamp, contentious French tour groups, and threats to call the Governor of Chiapas.) However one of the lasting images was the jungle vegetation insinuating itself into the fabric of the city. One of the guide books suggested that if left unattended the jungle would, once again, reclaim the temple complex within a few years - nature always takes back her own.

Well that side fence in my backyard is a great example of that phenomena. Our yard is surrounded by mature trees - unfortunately some of them are that dandelion of arboriculture, the Manitoba Maple. Once the MM has planted it's seed (you should excuse the expression!) and has taken root nothing will stand in its way. Obviously this slat from the fence first had the nails knocked out of it, then was pushed to one side and finally surrounded by the growing tree. This man-handled piece of wood didn't stand a chance against one of its living, growing relatives.

Ain't nature incredible.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Spring Has Sprung!

The first tulip this year
Springs has sprung!
The grass is ris!
I wonder where the birdies is?
They say the bird is on the wing.
But we all know that that's absurd.
Because the wing is on the bird!
George Burns - a strange but loveable former boss

Laurent arrived home from Beijing last night for a two week stay. And with him came the spring. Okay I'm being a bit romantic there but its been such a great weekend - weather-wise too: it was sunny all day, the first tulip bloomed, it was warm verging on hot and there was a nice breeze most of the day.

The deck set for cocktails.It was the perfect day to finally dismantle that hideous temporary garage - ugly as sin but welcome in the dead of winter, get the family room screens installed, put the deck furniture in place and sit out afterwards with a bottle of something wet, white and winish.

An added bonuses:
My pasty winter palor has become a brillant cardinal red- I really must learn to wear a hat to cover that bald spot. Yep it was a great spring day!

Mexico City, D.F. - the D Stands for Dense

A Google search for the name of a small town outside the Distrito Federale (yeah actually that's what the D stands for) led me to the a series of fascinating aerial photos of Mexico City and Environs. The photographer is a helicopter pilot and from what I can gather his last name is Ruiz.

We have so many good memories from our two years in Mexico City - the people, the places and even the pollution. I have dined out for years on the story of the day the pollution was so bad that birds were falling out of the trees and dying. The next day El Nationale, the Government newspaper, baldly announced that the birds were dying, not from the polluton but due to .... poor diet and lack of exercise!!!!

As well as his photos of the DF Senor Ruiz has two slideshows (El Pais 1 & El Pais 2) which highlight the beauty that people who think of Mexico as being only Cancun and Acapulo miss.

Friday, April 20, 2007

The Education of S*t*e*p*h*e*n H*a*r*p*e*r

 Yann Martel - photo by Daniele Schaub No one will ever accuse Stephen Harper, our current Prime Minister, of being an intellectual. Come to think of it, you'd have to go as far back as Pierre Elliott Trudeau before you can find a Prime Minister guilty of that sin!

In an effort to expand the cultural horizons of the Honorable Overlord of the Conservative Party and Master of the Cold Stare, one of Canada's better known authors is sending the PM a book every second week for the rest of his shaky mandate. Yann Martel, author of The Life of Pi, maintains he is not trying to "educated" the PM, only to make suggestions for a way to fill moments of "stillness" and maybe bring him some, much needed, cultural awareness.

And Martel is tracking his project at What Is Stephen Harper Reading: the book title, his accompanying letter explaining the reason for the choice and - maybe - Mr. Harper's response. Though it has been over a week since the first book was sent and not a word of thanks from the recipient as yet. Mind you he is a busy man and normally doesn't pay too much attention to those tramps and vagabonds that people the Canadian Arts Scene anyway.

I have to admit that Martel's rationale for sending Tolstoy's The Death of Ivan Ilych had me make a detour on the way home tonight to my local bookstore. Let's hope it generates the same curiosity in our PM. Though I won't be counting on it.

You may notice that I didn't include a link to the Wikpedia entry for Mr. Harper. They indicate that the entry is written as an advertisment. Since he's already getting the Canadian tax payer to foot the bill for his election-campaign-designed-as-government-policy ads, I'll be damned if I'll give him advertising time on my blog.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Focus on the Family????

An apology to anyone who looked at this entry earlier today - I forgot to change the url on the cartoon I was enthusing about. The link has now been corrected - just in case anyone has come back for a second look.
From Doonesbury@Slade
Every morning I go for my daily dose of Doonesbury at Slate. As well as the current week's features there are flashbacks to events that have shaped many of our lives in the past 35 years - sure mostly in the U.S. but let's admit it what happens in the U.S. doesn't stay in the U.S.

It's also fascinating to see how Garry Trudeau's style has evolved: those sketchy characters from 1972 have now become fully developed - artistically and as "people."

In Sunday's feature Trudeau hits his target dead centre with a question that the good folk at Focus on the Family have yet to answer.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

This Side Tiber - I :Words of Advise

Map of RomeWell we've started working on the move - so many things to do in the next few months: medicals, inventory, rewriting my CV for the international market, getting the house ready for sale, getting Reesie microchiped and the list goes on. August seems so far away but we really only have four months to get everything done. I will not panic! I will not panic! I will..........PANIC!!!!!

Of course once all the confusion of moving is over we will have the culture shock of adapting to a new way of living. And Laurent and I have to get use to living together again - its been three years except for the odd few weeks once every six months.

Our friends Betty Jean and Stephen will be leaving Rome just as we arrive - cowards, running off to Damascus just to get away from us. But Stephen sent on this little piece of advise:
There are a couple of things that you should be aware of - first, living in Rome is not at all like visiting Rome. It is a Mediterranean country - not at all European. If you put it on a par with Beirut, Damascus or Cairo, you will be OK. Simple things like an ADSL connection - think weeks, months, not days. And the daily shopping is a pain. The Italians put it this way - "the complete confusion is something not to be understood, merely appreciated."


Monday, April 09, 2007

Stuff 2 - Recently Acquired - Though Not Really Needed

Last week I said that I had posted the George Carlin "Stuff" routine for a reason that would become clear “tomorrow.” Despite what that horrid little Annie and those kids at the Orphanage keep singing, sometimes Tomorrow is more than a day away!

Zho Hanging from SapaThing is I’m becoming obsessed with “stuff.” Mostly because I realized I have so damn much of it and I have to start going through it the next few weeks. Inventory - what goes with us, what goes into storage, what do we try and sell, what do we flog at the Great Glebe Garage Sale? There’s nothing like a move to move you to divest yourself of your worldly goods.

Knowing that a move was in the air months ago has not stopped me from buying more stuff. On our trip to Vietnam there were a few things I just had to have as souvenirs. Particularly as we hiked through the minority villages around Sapa (which reminds me I don’t think I ever shared the photos of Sapa – so by clicking here you can see a few - well actually 104 - of them.) The Red and Black Zho women were forever stopping us to offer embroidery, indigo-dyed shirts and colorful blankets and material. It was a game – a rather gentle amusing one – but they were persistent. I finally caved in and bought a wall hanging (?) a festive dress adornment for around a lady's neck? - not really sure. But the colors are vibrant and the design attractive. Of course where to hanging it becomes the issue – not much room what with the Venetian masks, the African masks, the Mexican masks, the Polish carvings, the Roberts prints of Egypt – anyone for a jumble sale?

Bamboo in MarbleThen, of course, our guide Tung just happened to take us to his Aunt’s shop – a wooden lean-to on one of the paths. It may surprise you to know that the lovely box to the right is carved from marble. I know very touristy and probably machine made but I really liked it so …. now where to put it and what to put in it?

My Vietnamese BuddhaThe final Chaska is my favorite: I found this benign little Buddha at a stall in the market in Hoi An. Our guide offered only one piece of advice when I mentioned I wanted to buy a Buddha from Vietnam: Always look at the Buddha’s face – the face will tell you if this is the Buddha you should have. It will tell you if it wants you to have it. This peaceful little figure just cried out to be taken off the shelf. He will not be going to the Great Glebe Garage Sale.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Stupid Groundhog!!

Wiarton Willie has a lot to answer for today. That - no doubt rabid - rodent forecast an early spring.

Does this look like spring to you?????

Out the front door - April 7!!!!!
Stupid groundhog!

Friday, April 06, 2007

April Fools - A Few Days Late

When Reese and I hit the backyard at around 0600 yesterday morning (April 5) it was apparent why you never remove the mulch cover in Ottawa until May.

The deck and a dusting of snow

Finding that old familiar spot
Sure it's not going to stay but try and convince Reese of that - one day its green, next day its white. It can confuse a fella. And it's hard to find your favorite spot when the ground is frozen.

A light dusting of snow... hmmm
Sort of romantic - broken branches from an ice storm dusted with snow ........

No Barbie tonight Bruce

....... abandoned skeleton of a BBQ from summer

Nope still says bloody winter no matter how you dress it up. (Actually I took the BBQ out last weekend and forgot to put it back in.)

Romantic but deserted
Okay - this is romantic but notice even the birds find it too depressing to come around.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Stuff I - The Original George Carlin

There is a reason for posting this video - other than the fact that it is still very funny. More tomorrow.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Spring Awakening

Not sure what flower this is
Again I'm dumb with the names of flowers
A type of snow drop... I think!
Could be tulips, maybe hyacinth
Around this time every year the garden starts to come alive again - and every year I am surprised that anything has survived the -35c winters. But survive much has and things are starting to show through the detritus of last fall and winter. But given this is Ottawa and it is only April 1st I'm not going to rush to uncover things - we could still have one or two more snow storms.