DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" ""> Tossing Pebbles in the Stream: 03/01/2010 - 04/01/2010 .comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

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.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Big Day : They're Off!!

No! it is not a race; but a challenge all the same. From Chattahoochee National Forest to Baxter State Park. From Georgia to Maine. From Springer Mountain to Mount Katadhin. Whatever you call it: it is the Appalachian Trail.

Today, after a year of getting ready, dreaming, planning, problem solving, exercising my brother, Richard, and his wife, Carol ,are beginning to hike the iconic Appalachian Trail, all 2,178 miles of it. At any age ,this is a formidable feat. At ages, 63 and 65, it is quite remarkable. It seems my brother wants to try out his artificial hip and knees.

If they keep to their schedule .they will reach the Northern terminus of the Trail atop Mount Kadadhin, in late September, enjoying the Fall splendour of the New England woods.

The trail marker at the beginning on Springer Mountain, Ga.

Richard and Carol will be keeping friends and family abreast of their progress. I will be sitting in the comfort of my room following along on the lovely map of the Trail he sent me, reading his journal posting and looking at some of the photos he will be sending to us. I will be both a little envious and yet glad I am free of the physical discomfort of hike that rugged and long.

My brother and his wife live in Charlotte, N.C. They are both retired nurses. Years ago, they were involved in long distance running. With their medical and running background they have very maticulously planned this adventure and prepared themselves for the challenge. The have described some of this in some early entries on the website

If you want to read what they have gone through to prepare, type , Richard and Carol into the search bar then click on the entry title for 2010. (You could also read about a former, less challenging, hike at this site). Start reading the entries clicking on "next" to continue until you reach the last one. You will see how thoughtfully they have prepared. I understand they will post in this site, so if you are interested you could return from time to time.)

The Crest of Mount Katadhin.

This Mountain is a challenging hike in it own right without being part of the Appalachian Trail. This granite monument of a mountain is symbolic of the rugged environment of the State of Maine and the hardy souls when love to live there. It is the tallest mountain in Maine, and the centerpiece of Baxter State Park.

Henry David Throeau wrote about Mount Ktaadn in the 19th Century.

For those interested in the Appalachian Trail there are many You Tube videos by those who have met the challenge and accomplished their dream. There are also many sites for information about the trail and reports of those who traveled it, along with many lovely photos.

Here are some sites.

This includes an interactive map. This is the home page the Appalachian Trail. It links to many useful sites. This is about Springer Mountain, Ga where the Trail begins. Here is a lovely web cam of Mount Katadhin, still snow capped. This is a typical record of one group that hiked the length of the trail. In their Photobucket site there are over 800 pictures from their adventure.

I wish Richard and Carol well on their adventure. Safe passage. Enjoy the best parts: tough out the many difficult parts. Get back with few injuries and lots of wonderful memories.

"When man ventures into the wilderness, climbs the ridges, and sleeps in the forest, he comes in close communion with his Creator. When man pits himself against the mountain, he taps inner springs of his strength. He comes to know himself."- William O. Douglas

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Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Sweater Girl

(In no way is this to be confused with my previous posting "Oscar Aftermath")

The hand knitted sweater for Heidi has finally arrived. She seems to like it and I love it for her.
While the weather is warming, she will not need it this Spring except to show off around the neighbourhood and perhaps putting in an appearance in an Easter Parade.

There is a story that goes with this sweater. In mid winter a blogging friend expressed concern for Heidi in the cold weather we have here. She put out the call on her blog for someone who might knit Heidi a sweater. No one responded.

One day, a new blogging friend showed up on the comments on my blog. In response I visited her blog and realized she was a knitter, actually quite a remarkable master knitter. In jest, which is often my way, being a bit of a tease, I commented I thought at first she was dropping by to answer the call for someone to knit Heidi a sweater. I really did not expect what came next.

Gram, as I have come to call here, said she would enjoy the challenge to knit a sweater for Heidi. She wanted to see if she could using a pattern she found online. I sent her the required measurements and she went to work. Being somewhat of a perfectionist, I think, she made a couple of false starts because she didn't like the pattern of the wool and the stitch she was using.

Soon she settled on the colours and the hounds tooth pattern (how appropriate is that) she was once again working away at the knitting including some refinements. What started out as a turtle neck was finally made a cardigan.

Two days ago the sweater arrived in the mail. Heidi was quite willing for me to put in on her.

Heidi lay down and was her usual relaxed self.

She then went over to sit on her couch forcing June to move over.

I took her outside and her, not so secret admirer, from down the road came to check out the new sweater girl on the street.

In the usual doggy fashion, he decided it was still the same female he has admired for some time.

The Sweater Girl Tale Continues

These days Heidi is a little anxious about the wet ground. She does not like to get her feet muddy, so she often sits on the ramp before venturing forth. I think she is figuring out what spots of ice and snow are left she can step on and avoid the mud on her way to the road.

Such a noble hound in her new cardigan.

Trying to decide if a romp in the snow is appropriate dressed up in her new finery.

Always, alert for any traffic. I think she is wondering why her admirer is going home.

Heidi's confidence seemed broken after her hound dog admirer left. While I returned to the porch to read some more in my book, she hid behind the car as if she no long wanted to be seem in a sweater. She certainly did not want to come and be with me which is what she usually does.
I finally had to go and coax her to come on in the house.

Whatever was giving her pause, she got over it. Later in the house she sniffed at her sweater to make sure it really was hers and I assured her it was. Later, we put it on again. I have decided to have her put it on the way very young children are taught to put their tops on. (You learn these things when you are involved in starting a day care/nursery school.) I lay it on the floor with the front part facing her. I have her step into the sleeves and then I pull it up her legs and over her head. I then can button the cardigan down the front and under her. There is a draw string around the neck. She is very patient in all things. She will soon master this routine.

I think Heidi likes her sweater. Eventually she will come to expect to go out when she sees it in the same way she patiently stands by her lead when she want to go out.

I am thrilled with the sweater. Thanks Gram. I have enjoyed having you make it and between the two of us critiquing it so that in the future there may be refinements in the design. I hope some time soon you will find another deserving dog who needs a sweater and thrill it and its master by making one. You obviously love to knit and do for others.

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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Oscar Aftermath

It seems that there is a great delight in dragging out the Academy Awards' presentation of Oscars with a fascination with any number of peripheral issues. This year, with next to no impromptu political statements, or social gaffes or outrageous humour (although there seemed to be a running gag around George Clooney), it only left the usual items: the best dresses and the best dressed women (not the same thing).

When I saw the item for the contest for the best cleavage, Oscars Breast Dressed (terrible pun),I could not resist. I had to check it out.

Here is my confession: I am a décolletage man. I just can't help myself. I secretly admire well formed and mysterious cleavage. Unfortunately, at the Oscars the cleavage is not all that mysterious. In fact, a lot of it is "in your face".

This secret fascination of mine was first (although it dates back to my preteen days and the Eaton's catalogue) revealed a short while back when an English blogging friend, who shall go nameless, Tracey, wrote that there were lovely birds in her back yard which included a couple of Great Tits.

Did I mention I also love double entendre humour and the above remark is doubly double entendre as "British speak" refers to young women as "birds" as well as God's wee creatures that have feathers and fly. I could not resist, I quickly sent her a picture of a young Lebanese protester , I had long admired, who showed wonderful cleavage with the comment, "I know what your mean by great tits but this is what I mean. Well, my secret was out and the ongoing joke was on. I was now know as the décolletage man within a small circle, which has just gotten larger with this posting.

You can make up your mind for yourself and even vote by turning to the web site on the Best Cleavage at the Oscars. Even knowing a lot of the tricks for supporting the "lovelies" for best and improved cleavage, it is always a wonder that every thing stays in place and doesn't pop out, particularly after a few drinks. With ram rod posture and careful movement the gals seem to manage to hold everything together during the presentations at the Academy Awards. One does wonder what happens at the after parties. I shall never know.

And the winner is. . . . . Christina Hendricks!

I must be getting old as I have not even heard of the top three contestants in the best cleavage category; Christina Hendricks, Katy Perry and Stacey Dash. I must get out to the movies more.

I did manage to look up an interview with Ms. Hendrick and she seemed interesting and delightful, someone who would be nice to know for her other qualities, but if I was faced with her generous cleavage I would begin to stutter and be unable to make a coherent sentence.

Apparently, Ms. Hendricks represents a new standard in beauty. Thin, thin, thin is no longer in.
Sort of a return to the Marilyn Munroe beauty standard. In any case, in this magazine cover she does wonders for the lovely bustier, or is it the other way around.

Here is a funny interview on the Jimmy Kimmel show that addresses the cleavage issue.

Just in case, you think that my obsession if for big busted women, let me say that is not the case.
Size does not matter! It is how one carries and displays oneself that counts. Great undergarments help too. With enough pushing and shaping a mountain can be made out of a mole hill to display truly lovely décolletage, in this man's opinion. I have no illusion that it is all illusion. For course, it is best enjoyed when it is accidentally revealed or surreptitiously spotted
in an unguarded moment. Cleavage boldly revealed can make one very uncomfortable although I always admire women that have the self confidence to do so in public.

With a little research I learned that the French standard of a woman's breast is fairly modest.
And, aren't the French the experts in this and other matter of love? Their standard is the champagne glass. No not the tall pointy one but the older type, Le Champagne Coupe, they often use at weddings.

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This older model of the champagne glass is thought to be modeled after some famous French woman's breast. Take your pick Madame Pompadour, Marie Antoinette, Josephine de Beauharnais or the French exchange student you know years ago.

I am sure you have all seen at one time or another the champagne fountain made out of Champagne Coupe glasses. It is impressive but I would rather hold an individual glass of champagne admiring the graceful shape and thinking of a delightful French woman, while savouring the bubble and smell of the champagne nectar, of course all the time keeping my hot little hands off it. Is this not also the way of admiring wonderful décolletage.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Could It Be Spring?

We have had a relatively mild Winter with way less snow than normal. And now it feels like the beginning of Spring, a couple of weeks early by me estimation. I am not complaining although having a Winter drought is not good ecologically if it becomes the new normal in these parts.

It is a bright sunny day with the temperature rising above freezing, currently 3C on it way to 6C later today and possibly 10C before the weekend is over. These are the best days for ice fishing just before the ice becomes too dangerous to venture on. I believe all ice fishing huts have to be off the ice by March 15. If one reads the weather report, sooner is prudent.

Heidi and I went for a walk down to the bridge on our property. The roads are showing the dirt as they begin to thaw out and hopefully dry begin to dry up.

(click on photo to enlarge)

My house, looking back on our way to the lane at the edge of our property.

Heidi at the corner looking over to see if the young puppy next door has noticed us and might join us.

Before we travel on a good snow massage is in order. The farm in the background is my friend Leo's place.

Just before my battery in the camera died, I took this picture of the river from the corner of the Bailey Bridge. Downstream in the upper center of the photo is the log cabin we built for my son and his kids to enjoy as a summer "camp". (In Southern Ontario it would be called a cottage.)
The ice is off the river and it looks so inviting. Oh to slip a canoe in and go for a paddle. This year, with help from a friend I hope to do some repair work on my beloved canoe. Before Heidi, it was the love of my life.

Of course, in the North the seasons are each equal in length and therefore long to develop so I have no illusions that Spring days will all be lazy and pleasant. We could still get a major snowstorm or worse still freezing rain. But in the long term, the melt has begun ushering in Spring. One learns to enjoy each season, with what it has to offer which is quite varied around here.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

My grandson has managed to post a few more pictures of his adventure in
BC. He has some kind of camera glitch so he has been slow to post some more pictures. I hope he might post even more. He has been home for about a week.
At the end of his adventure he stayed at a ski and snowboarding resort with his aunt and did some snowboarding. In a previous post, I had him at Mount Baldy but I apparently was wrong. I am often not in the loop on such information ,so I guessed wrong. He was at Big White Resort near Kelowna, BC, in the interior.

He is not as verbose as I am so he says little in his blog about his time there but I know he had a wonderful time and was thrilled to be there and spend some time with his aunt. I take it they rented an apartment unit there for he was looking forward to being in a place he could enjoy a hot tube all to himself. At 13, this is a little bit of heaven., at 67 you still hope for a little company!

Now that Dylan has experienced the big hills, I suspect he will want to venture to the more dramatic ski areas near here. There are not many in Ontario but I expect Quebec my beckon, with several great ski areas. Time will tell.

Here is a video of Big White snowboarding. It makes one wish he was young and fearless again, not worrying about breaking anything.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

In Recovery

I have been away for a while in the big city which explains my long lapse in posting any material.

I am trying to get my normal life back, so I am still in recovery on serveral fronts.

Yesterday, I sent my pet swine off to the auction to undoubtedly be bought and slaughtered. It is hard to have to sacrifice you "children" like that. Reality struck me in the face for it is increasingly hard to get anyone to tend to them when I want to go away for any length of time plus they cost me more money to feed than I spend on feeding myself. This is the reality of raising farm animals. I have never been comfortable with it. It was always a kind of trauma when I raised calves and then sent them to market. Of course, getting a good price for them back then eased the pain. I will get next to nothing for my swine as pork prices continue to be so low commercial producers lose money on every pig they send to market. It seems farmers are expected to subsidize food prices for the rest of us.

I also am trying to come to terms with a friend and tenant who feels I should have no social life and should be her nurse and companion, now that she is alone ,after her husband died a while back. She not only criticizes me for leaving her alone so long but does little things to obstruct my leaving. You would think she is a "woman scorned" and yet there is no scorning going on here.

On top of this she is spending money like a sailor on leave since she got a supplement for being a widow while at the same time claims she cannot afford the full rent. So now I a subsidizing her.

There will be a recogning when I recover. All is not well on the home front for sure. Enough said, this is not the kind of thing to be aired in this forum.

I am recovering from having a lovely week shared with my friend Miss L. I appreciate her more every time we spend time together. While we did not do a great deal other than watch the Olympics (more later), enjoy each other company and celebrate my birthday with my sister and brother-in-law (a rare event) over a mean in a Greek restaurant. I enjoyed it and appreciated the treat, But due to the nature of my world view, while I was enjoying it I was thinking we are eating so well while others are hungry and the money could be spent for a greater cause than my pleasure. But it was not my money to spend so I enjoyed the meal and said nothing. (until now of couse).

I am recovering from the Olympics. Well done athletes all. I have some issues with subisdizing such top performing athletes, which countries seem to feel they must do for reasons of national pride. Canada targeted the Winter Olympics, it being at home in Canada, with lots of money and research into high performance. Being the egalitarian I am I think the money should be spend on the broad base of athletes at the local level who are true amateurs and not millionaire athletes. Some top athletes at the games make millions in endorsements and in some countries if they bring home the gold medal they get an income for life. Of course, the professional hockey players are multi-millionaire athletes to a man. Ironically, they may be more amateur than others as they risk injury and loss of income to play, do not spend a year or more in preparation and pay a lot of their own way. They are clearly playing for the love of the sport, the challenge and to make Canada proud. They certainly did this. Both the men and women won the gold in hockey. Canada expects this every time out and when it does not happen there is a national groan and self examination about the state of "our game" until the next international contest. They did us proud, although the men's team flirted with disaster and raised the national stress level. It the end the men's team had to win in overtime after the US team tied the score in the final seconds of regular play. It was the young Sidney Crosby, the next truly, "Great One". who got the winning goal. If the team had lost, the conversation around the water cooler would have been how he had a lackluster Olympics. He set us straight with the iconic gold medal.

I was a little embarrassed as you might read into my previous post that Canada aimed to "Own the Podium". Such an audacious claim and an attitude that winning was everything struck me as a little out of national character. In the end, we may have borrowed the podium from the Americans and laid claim to the gold platform, for the time being. We did win 14 gold medals , more than any other host country ever. Considering going into the Olympics we had never won a gold medal at any time when we hosted the Olympic, this was an accomplishment. We had few athletes who achieved the bronze medal but many who ranked fourth, fifth, sixths; very close. If more of them had reached the podium and if a few athletes who were expected to medal and not done so. had come up to expectations, Canada could have even shone brighter in our own eyes. Most Canada do not grieve not getting more medals as long as we got the gold in ice hockey. Need I remind anyone that Canada is a large georgraphic place with a reatively small population
(one tenth the size of the US).

I learned of the Canadian men's hockey achievement while driving home. We stopped for a coffee and asked the waitress ,in a near empty donut shop (I assume all were home watching the game). She said she did not follow hockey (must have been a foreigner). She finally said she heard a customer say Canada and the US tied. I know that was not a final outcome as it was the last game and a winner was needed. We started up the highway bypass around North Bay and there are a group of boys standing on the corner waving large Canadian flags. We had to stop almost in front of them for a light so my friend Leo rolled down his window as the the car that pulled up beside us, did and we heard that Canada had won. Almost at the same instant all the cars and trucks on the highway started to honk their horns. It is a strange national obsession indeed. I gather in cities across Canada people flooded the downtowns for a spontaneous party. Even I felt a little relief and satisfaction. At least we would not have to suffer all the second guessers if Canada had lost. Silver would be a failure!

I regret not being with Miss L to watch the last game. I know she would be alone sitting on the edge of her seat and cheering and groaning where warranted for I had watch some previous games with her and it turns out she is a fanatical fan. Any time I said something about an opposition player like "He made a great play." I was accused of disloyalty and risked a punch in the arm. She demanded a "high five" whenever their was reason to be satisfied. It was exciting and exhausting to watch her.

I also enjoyed my grandson's blogging about his experience in Vancouver taking in some of the activities. He was not there for all of it but spend some time in the interior of British Columbia enjoying some first class snowboarding at a winter resort there. I am waiting for him to write about it and possibly post some pictures on his blog. He has not posted for a while so maybe he is suffering from blogging fatigue, which seems to afflict us all from time to time.

So you see, in many ways I am trying to catch my breathe and get into my normal routine (without the trip to the shed to feed the pigs. {sigh})

I am waiting , with anticipation , the arrival of the new cardigan sweater for Heidi. I teased a fellow blogger about her knitting a sweater to keep my Great Dane, Heidi warm. To my surprise she rose to the challenge and has finished it. It is in the mail. You can see it here.

I don't even know this woman although my first impressions are that she is a lovely person and it would be fun to know her. She certainly is a master knitter. Thanks Gram. More acolades later when the sweater arrives and Heidi models it. There will be pictures for sure. And my friend, Peggy, you get the last laugh after years of me teasing you about dressing up your animals for every occasion and how animal require their own dignity as animals. Heidi and I will be looking for an Easter Parade to show off her new sweater.

One last bit of gossip. The die is cast, the tickets are being ordered. Miss L and I are going for a vacation in May to Belgium. It has been delayed once and I think some of my friends thought it might not happen. It will and I am looking forward to it. There is much to see and experience in that small country. From historic sites to chocolate I shall enjoy it all. I might even try some of their beer!

Cheers, Oh Canada. Way to go, eh!