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Tossing Pebbles in the Stream

This blog is my place to sit and toss pebbles into the stream. The stream of Life relentlessly passing before us. We can affect it little. For the most part I just watch it passing and follow the flow. Occasionally, I need to comment on its passing, tossing a pebble at it to enjoy the ripple affect upon Life's surface.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Some Observations

click on pictures to enlarge

Here is a red squirrel who showed upat my back door. I am sure he is looking for an easy free meal from the cat dishs but with 7 or 8 cats around he had better be alert and swift of foot or he could end up as a free meal for a feline.

We do not have the large grey or black squirrels I enjoyed in my youth in southern Ontario. I have heard they are migrating North. This little squirrel is about twice the size of a chipmunk.

On my wanderings I find this woody plant (bush) It is a sheep laurel. I don't think I ever appreciated the lovely colour and velvet texture of these bloom. They are worthy of a domesticated garden. Paying attention to the flora and fauna around us is full of delights we might just casually pass by unappreciated.

This lovley plant is often missed. it is Columbine. It flowers are lovely and delicate. It is an interesting medicinal plant (potentially poisonous). Seeds rubbed in the hair can control lice. A tea made from the root can settle your stomach, control diarrhea. It is a diruretic and astingent.
Small amounts of crushed seed can be used to stop a headache, "a love charm" (I guess even the Native Americans used that "I have a headache tonight, dear", excuse cliche.) I am happy to just enjoy the flowers. I am more interested in edible plants than in medicinal ones.

Speaking of medicinal plants, this lovely blue flowered plant which grows close to the ground is called, Heal All. It has a long list of curative uses taken internally or used on your exterior. You can gargle a tea to treat mouth sores or put on wounds or boils as a poultice. It actually contains antibiotic properties. Since it is widely available not far for a camp otr farm house I can imagine settlers trying it often to treat a lot of conditions, hence the name, Heal All.Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

A Lazy Hazy Day

It is a hot and sunny day today after some thundershowers yesterday. We may have more later today (we are under a thunderstorm watch), but so far so good.

It is a slow day to luxurate in the lovely water of the river. Later a tour through the family
photos will be Veronica torture as I need to find some to take to the family reunion.
I may end up telling her the story of my life!!!!

Click on pictures to enlarge

Grits and eggs for breakfast. I may be the only person in Ontario with a supply of grits. I have not been able to find them in a Canadian grocery store. My 25 pounds came from Florida last year along with the 25 pounds of coarse stone ground corn meal (makes the best cornbread) which is also scarce in these parts, and 25 pounds of pecans, from South Carolina. This morning I thought grits and eggs were in order. I only wish I had some peamealed bacon, (a cured Canadian bacon rolled in pea meal)., to round off the meal. Alas, we settled for what we had.

I have nice litter of bunnies, four days old. It looks like one white one, four reddish ones and four black ones. Success at last. Nine is a large litter. I was adviced I should cull art least two as the mother does not have nine teats, but she seems to be able to feed them all so I will let them be.

I have had trouble successfully raising rabbits. I guess I got it figured out now. I have another female that may drop a litter soon.

Here is the proud mother, keeping watchover her young who are just beginning to get their fur. She is a good sized rabbit so I hope her offspring grow big.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Ancient Wisdom: Contemporary Folly

Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.


' More than 800 of them have lost an arm, a leg, fingers or toes. More than 100 are blind. Dozens need tubes and machines to keep them alive. Hundreds are disfigured by burns, and thousands have brain injuries and damaged minds. These are America’s war wounded, a toll that has received less attention than the 3,500 troops killed in Iraq. Depending on how you count them, they number between 35,000 and 53,000. '

The Iraqi dead and injuried are well over a million.

It seems all we can do is weep. Americans need to find the courage to admit their folly and demand the end to the criminal laying waste of the country of Iraq.

Monday, June 25, 2007

A Trip to the Bush

Veronica wanted to go for a little drive where we might take some pictures. So I decided we could drive up into the bush to Baie Jeanne, the southern most point of Lake Temagami.

It was a busy traffic filled day! There was one vehicle that passed us going the other way in our 30 mile trip. We stopped whenever we felt like it and took some pictures of wild flowers, trees and lakes.

I thought we might even find the courage for a little skinny dipping in a secuded spot. But alas, it did not happen. I think the mosquitoes and black flies discurage the Alabaman (a.k.a. the fair Floridian). We shall save that adventure for the river on the farm where one can quickly retreat to bug free shelter.

It was on our outing that we saw the deer in the previous posting. We also saw a bear on the road but were not fast enough to get a picture. It would have been nice to see a moose or the Bald Eagle I know nests up that way. It was on this road a few years ago I saw a lynx which is quite unusual as they are usually nocturnal.

Well here we are! She made me do it. I am not fond of having my picture taken as my exterior image of myself does not match my interior. The pictures never seem right. It is a nice picture of Veronica, I think. In the background is Baie Jeanne, in part. Lake Temagami is a lovely large lake. It is a great trout fishing lake with deep cold water but there are also plenty of other varieties of fish.

There are camps and cottages on the lake . They are only allowed on the islands as a precaution against forest fires. As a result the shoreline is well treed with magnificent un disturbed forests of largely evergreens. Logging is not permitted near the shore to interrupt the skyline around the lake.

Here is the road into the bush near Baie Jeanne. By local standards it gets a lot of traffic as there is a boat ramp for fishermen at the end of the road. Even I was surprised on a Sunday afternoon there were only two parties fishing on the lake and about 6 trailers left there for campers to return another day.

I love the old growth forest. The large Red and White pines dominate. They are the most valuable trees. There are many other in this Saint Lawrence Lowland Mixed Bush Forest. Just north of here it transitions into the Boreal Forest. There are Jack Pine, Spruce (White and Black) , Balsam, Tamarack,Birch (white and Yellow) Maple, Red Oak, and others but these named are the commercial varieties of trees. Some of the large White and Red Pines are as old as 250 years. Usually they are considered mature at 150 years. It is sad to see them harvested for timber as the forest will never fully recover. Often plantations of trees replace forests with all their varieties of trees, plants and animals and even micro organism. A true forest is a vast living organism of organisms. Human interference diminishes it greatly.

I love pictures of lakes where the forest reflects on the water. Our country is a land of forest and water. There are more lakes than we have names for. I recently read, the city of Sudbury has 200 lakes within its boundaries. I wonder if there is any other city with as many. Parts of northern Canada is more water than land. With 1/4 of all the world's fresh water we have a precious resource in deed. Sadly, we abuse is terribly but it is not too late to do better and celebrate its life giving value.

For my American readers, most land around here is Crown Land. Technically it belongs to the Queen. In reality it belongs to all of us. The use of it is by permit and the multiple demands on it must be taken into account: mining, prospecting, logging, trapping, resorts, wilderness travelling, nature loving, hunting, fishing etc. Most lakes and rivers do not have cottages or camps on them. One can camp on crown land outside of organized parks, anywhere and for free.

I love being able to easily find a lake or river to paddle on where there is no other person within ear shot. It is a sacred feeling to be alone in a wild spot with only the sound of the loon, the dip of a paddle and the breeze through the trees. On a clear night with the heaven exposed in all its glory and depth it is even more overwelming and awe expiring. It so reminds us that we are pilgrims passing through this World.

We are failing in our responsibility to be stewards of Nature that has so lovingly managed to sustain us. It is time for the debt to be repaid.
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Some New Faces around the place

A neighbour gave me a few animals he was too busy to care for.

On the socialist belief that there is always room and food for one more, I took them in even when they have little food value and offer only to bring a little joy and delight.

Here is Daisy, the dog and Ben, the dog, trying to figure out what the lopped ear dwarf rabbit is. They seemed interested in it. Daisy would be gentle with it but Ben, if it were outside on the lawn would hear the call of his wild wolf ancestors and tear it to pieces and eat it. I, also, got back a white buck rabbit I gave my neighbour a year ago. It is more likely to find its way into being cooked and eaten with dark sauce! Yumm! The last time I had that was in the elegant restaurant in Toronto, Chateau d'Orsi. That was another lifetime ago.

I also got two white banty hens and two colourful banty roosters. In this photo, you see the two roosters and one of the hens on the top rail. where they can look out of the picture window at the goings on in the yard. I trust the other rooster and hens in the chicken hutch will accept them. I expect some pretty small eggs from these two hens. Banties apparently make good pets and eat a lot of bugs, so they really do have a use. Here is a site that encourageous keeping banties and rare breed poultry. Pocket Flocks...Bantam breeding and networking

Here is a deer I spotted up the road on the way into the bush. Deer are plentiful now. When I moved here there were no deer around . I was wrongly, told there used to be but they don't like to share territory with the moose. Over the last 15 years they have slowly appeared. In the last couple of years they have become plentiful. With the mild Winters I expect this trend to continue with more young surviving. With the logging their is lots of browse for them to feed on as regrowth of the forsest cuts begins.

Oh, Yes, here is another face. Veronica, my friend from Alabama has showed up for a month long visit. Don't you just love the ample red pine she is leaning against. I look her into the bush to see some of the "old growth " trees. White Pine, and not Red Pine are the biggest species, but Red pine are my favourite. They are cut for poles. This one will not be cut as it is by the shore of Temagami Lake but if it were it would make a magnificent pole.
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Thursday, June 21, 2007

Love that Vinyl

I still have a record player. Do you? As I remember my youth so much of it involved records.

Here is my modest much quite serviceable record player. it actually was my fathers. I went through several record players during my years of living in the inner city of New Haven, Ct. where my house was robbed six times. If I had been a little quicker I could have bought them back a couple of streets over from the drug addicts that stole them. I came to feel I was single handedly supporting the town's drug culture. came to feel I should put a sign on my door, "Don't bother, I have alredy involunarily given.!"

I have managed to hold on to this record player living here in the backwoods backwash of Ontario. Here the drug culture just grow their own, share in and barter it. No need for stealing. Well, at least for drugs anyway.

I realized that at one time I loved "les chanteuses", the female divas. Above you can see disks for Diana Ross, Carly Simon, Olivia Newton John and Joni Mitchell.


Our family had a small record library of funny records that were played so much and laughed over that they became part of our secret family code language. We could say a phrase and everyone would laugh knowing the whole funny skit it came from. To this day the only song I will sing in public is "I'm Shy, Mary Ellen" using my timid falsetto voice.

The above photo show some of our favourites. They are all British humour, Hummmm! Stanley Holloway sang wonderful music hall songs. Flanders and Swann had wonderful skit type songs in "At the Drop of Another Hat", "Beyond the Fringe" was a skit record by four very funny English lads, the best known would be Duddly Moore. "Fool Britannia" was a special comic record with skit tunes based on the John Profumo scandal. He was the British Minister of War who shared an illicit lover with a Russian attache at a time in the cold war when national security was at stake. It was also known as the Christine Keeler affair. It is very funny it you know the history. I am sure my brother and sister would start to laugh if I made reference to any on these records content, even today.

Current music and comic skits hold little interest to me. My interests are kind of frozen in time. It seems there was a time through which I passed. I am glad I can continue to enjoy them and relive those years.

I guess my age is showing.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

More Flower Photos

"Daisy, Daisy, Give me your answer true,
I'm half crazy all for the love of you!"

Don't you just love wild Daisy's!

We have both a cow and a dog named Daisy around the place.

Don't forget to click on the pictures to enlarge them.

The meadows and along the roadsides are just covered in Daisys.

This wonderful flower is a cow parsnip. Cows really do like this seven foot tall plant with the stem of a succulant.

When walking in the forest you may find among the dead tree leaves the Northern Blue Violets.
Get down on your knees and take a close look.

This is a High Bush Cranberry bush. ( Not really a cranberry but the berries can be substituted for cranberries. I make jelly with them every Fall.) Not really a wild flower but lovely in bloom. There are lots along the river and they particulary like being in the poplar bush. There is some kind of a symbiotic relationship.
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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Some Local Wild Flowers

Here are some wild flowers around the place.

These are Prickly Wild Roses which make a lovely show and last quite a while. These are by the road and bridge over the river on my property . I have been tempted to transplant some by the house but something in me resists capturing and taming something wild.

Here are some Canada Anemone. They are delicate and subtle. You may have to part the longer grass to appreciate them. Being one who likes to "stop and smell the roses" I am delighted as the more subtle wild flowers.

This is Birds' Foot Trefoil by the edge of the road. It is an escaped domestic legume planted in pastures or hayfields. Years of hauling bales of hay home along the road spread it into the ditches. (For any non-farmer. . . a legume is a plant which takes nitrogen from the air and fixes in in the soil through nodes which grow on the roots. BFT is hardier that red or white clover or alfafa so it is used in pastures.)

This is just one of many Wild Iris ( Blue Flag) down by the river. This year with the water so high many of them are under water along with the mint I like to pick and use. Later in the summer, they will reappear. The blue flag has a good root system that helps stabilize the bank of the river. Soooo! if you live on a lake or river and the shoreline is washing away, plant blue flag.

My friend, Veronica, when she was here a year ago always used to admire the wild flowers in the fields. The plants she saw in abundance were Daisy's, Black-Eyed Susans, Chickory, Red Clover, Buttercups, etc. Apparently, there is not the abundance of wild flowers on that sand spit they call Florida. All that sand and heat may not be conducive to producing a wide variety of plants. More specialized plants survive in that harsher environment.
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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Forest Fire

With the temperatures in the 90 degree range with clear blue skies one cannot help but think about forest fires, always a concern in the boreal forest. (Who would have thought a week ago there was threat of frost and lots of rain. Our weather is always an adventure. )

While fire is a natural part of the ecology of the forest there is a considerable concern for minimizing forest fire damage where is impinges on human habitation and useage of the forest lands. Close behind saving human life and properties there are efforts to save valuable timber stocks.

It is with interest that I have followed the struggle this year in the United States over forest and brush fires in their south west and south east regions. While much of Canada forested region is wilderness and semi-wilderness with relatively sparce populations the US has dense populations in their fire hazard areas this year, which dramatizes the effort of fire on the landscape.

A couple of weeks ago, there were a couple of forest fires in our area. Below is one north of Sudbury. It caused some campers to evacuate from a provincial park and closed a major road for a while, but caused little damage to human habitation. It proved to be a small fire as fires go in these parts at about 1000 acres. it was a reminder that the forest fire season is upon us. Below is a picture of the damage I scanned out of a local paper.

(click on photo to enlarge)

The vast majority of forest fires are started by lightning strikes which is why it is ironically more dangerous during rain storms than when it is as cloudlessly clear as it is this week. But sustained heat will begin to dry the land so when rainstorms come there is fuel for lightning strikes to start fires.

Nature begins the recover process almost immediately. Natures timeline is a lot longer than man's. For a few years this burned over are will be lush with blueberries and lots of young brouse or deer and moose. Before Europeans arrived, the native inhabitants used to set fires one year to improve berry picking the next.

Some fires are man made but much effort over the years has been put into managing human activity which may result in fire. There are many rules that limit human activity when the risk is high. Cutting timber in the bush was be suspended at time when it is so dry sparks from chainsaws or skidder chains on rock can set off fires. Campers can be forbidden to set out fires even for cooking. Fire permits are required and the penalty for starting a fire can be severe.
It was not always so. At one time, settlers cleared the land by burning down the forests. This was a practice behind the infamous Matheson fire of 1916 which saw 500,000 acres burn with much loss of life across the little clay belt agricultural land north of here.Matheson Fire - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Below is the historic plaque which is located near Matheson. (These plaques across Ontario are interesting history lessons . You can view them on this website Ontario Plaques explaining the history and heritage of Ontario. )

(click on photo to enlarge and read)
As a result of the Matheson disaster the government of Ontario got involved in forest fire supression in a major way. Perhaps, more than is necessary as it interrupts the natural role of fire in the forest. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

A Place of Peace

With the temperature near 90F and the noise and dust of logging trucks passing by the house, the cabin is a lovely place for a little respite. It is really only 1000 yards from the house across the field and across the river on the back 40 (actually back 240 acres) but it is a different world.

(If you click on the pictures they enlarge)

With the cabin built on the side of the river trench it is nestled into its surroundings, a grove of elegant elm trees. This so contrasts with the farm house which stands bold and exposed on the apron by the logging road, the Baie Jeanne Road. (So named locally as it go as far as the south most bay on Lake Temagami.

I never tire of the river which has so many faces as the river rises and falls throughout the seasons. It is flush with water due to the week of rain we just had. I trust the thousands of lakes and beaver ponds upstream are also full so that wild life can flourish in abundance. This country of forest, Pre-Cambrian rock and water nourtures so much. I recently learned that the city of Sudbury has 200 lakes within its boundaries. So much of the Canadian North is as much water as land.

The above view of the river is from the bridge on the property, looking downstream. The cabin is on the right side about 400 yards away, hidden from view.

This is the view from the bridge looking upstream. On a sunny day, I love the way the river mirrors the trees along the bank.

I feel so privileged to have the river on my land to hold stewartship over. The water is wonderful cool, clean drinkable. I draw my water directly from the river, untreated. Such clean bodies of water are increasingly scarce.

You can tell who the water dog is. Blackie is just swimming back and forth in the current by the shore. Ben, my mutt, just likes to stand in the water to cool his belly. This is directly in front of the cabin.

The water is still very cool. I was in a little downstream trying to recover the foot valve to my water line. My water pump stopped pumping yesterday. So now you know the real reason I am on the river,. . .trying to get my plumbing going! Still I find it all romantic being by the river.
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Monday, June 11, 2007

My favourite Garden Plants

I am not a very patient or accomplished gardener. Some of my favourite plants in my garden by the house are viewed below. They are herbs and they give you a great deal for little effort. Flower growing does not interest me. I like things you can eat.

I love chives in the garden. Chives - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia They produce these lovely flowers early in the season. They are there for the nibbling all summer.
They usually put out more flowers than this but this year some on my animals thought it would like to try chives. I suspect Daisy the cow.

This is lovage. Lovage - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia It just grows and expands every year. It tastes like celery and can replace it in salads.

This is the chinese lantern plant. Physalis alkekengi - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia It is a invasive species and is gradually taking overy my entire garden. I will have to find another place for it to spread in abundance. I want to grow enough of it so I can make a jam out of the interesting single berry in the chinese lantern if forms.

This is horseradish. Horseradish - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia I love horseradish. Eating beef is an excuse to eat horseradish. If your eyes don't water it isn't strong enough. I pickle some each year using the root. The plant is quite indistructable. I found my starter plants on an old homestead site where it was growing wild. At one time it was a basic plant in farmhouse garden being used extensively in canning.

None of these plants need much in the way of tending or weeding. They grow like weeds.
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Friday, June 08, 2007

Here I Am!!

In response to my "always concerned for others' email pal, Peggy, I am right here at home and in good health. I wish I could say the same for my computer. About two weeks ago, an electrical storm destroyed my modem. This is the fourth time this has happened. I am frustrated that AOL took so long to send me another one. Until the next storm, I am back on line.

Having some time away from my computer, it has given me some more time for reading and watching multi-channel TV. When June and Dave came to stay they brought a TV dish. For over 20 years I was happy with what ever I could snag with my rabbit ears for free. I learned a lot. I will write another time how my viewing brought into contrast some real differences between Canada and the US (my lifelong interest)

For now, I would like to share the list of books on the shelf beside my bed. A lot can be revealed about us by what we read. The books that end up by my bed do so because I have been reading them, I cherish them or reference them often. Across the room is a larger bookshelf and there are many in my library and in virtually every room in my house. I get great comfort in having them around even though for many things they have been usurped by the computer.

Here is my list.

The Holy Bible, the red Moroccan leather bound one my mother gave me years ago.

Buy Wholesale by Mail 2001

Shape of the Past The text on historiography written by John Warwick Montgomery a evangelical Christian history professor of mine who believed the only true view of history was from the Christian perspective. linear with cycles of sin, judgement and grace, with the Christ event in the middle. How we so disagreed but he stretched my young mind.

A History of the Vikings

The Prophet, Kahlil Gibran

Collected Stories, Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Dictionary of World History

The new York Times Library Desk Reference

Fair and Tender Ladies, Lee Smith

Oral History, Lee Smith

Saving Grace, Lee Smith

Gap Creek, Robert Morgan

(The above four are my recent reading in Appalachian literature. . .Good stuff)

The Sea, John Banville

The Canoe and White Water

Points of View, Rex Murphy

French Conversation and Review Grammer

The Snowshoe Book

Beyond the Shadow of the Senators, Brad Snyder (This is the Washington Senators of the Negro baseball league not the Ottawa Senators of the NHL)

The Collapse of Globalization, John Ralston Saul

Robertson Davies Man of Myth

On Being a Christian, Hans Kung

Feeling Good Handbook, David D. Burns,M.D.

So what is within reach for your bedtime reading???