Fair Time!

I was pretty pumped yesterday, Perth Fair. In our day when we ran the Hunter Horse Show there it was the highlight for the local kids and adults who participated, a chance to show off the skills they had learned at the barn, on their favourite steed and for surrounding barns it was close by, easy to trailer to, you could go back and forth to get all the kids and horses there, and the entry fees were low! It took weeks of planning and a few 5 am morning starts to get things organized. Getting the jumps, begging and borrowing what we didn’t have at Ranyhyn Farm. A visit to the local florist/nursery for dozens of mums to put in and around the jumps. Corn stalks from the neighbour to cover up the less than pretty jumps. Making up the courses, then Saturday, setting up, measuring the lines, filling the gift bags…work, yes, but the looks on those kids faces when they got a ribbon and a bag full of prizes from the many generous sponsors! Priceless:)

I usually got a chance on Saturday during setting up to catch the breed show going on the ring next door. Always a beautiful parade of Arabians and American Saddlebreds, Hackney ponies and roadsters so to get to spend a few hours there was going to be a treat.

I was shocked, classes with only one or two horses. It seemed empty, and it was an incredible sunny day. What happened? I know the Arabs and Saddlebreds are not easy rides but there were no kids almost at all. A lead line class with…two kids. I was really disappointed to say the least. I knew Sunday and the heavy horses was going to be in the rain so this was it:(

I can not profess to be at all knowledgable about these classes but it had an air of sadness about them, faded glory, no kids or teenagers participating. After showing for many years, in the hunter classes and then dressage, having your horse go around the ring with its mouth wide open fighting the bit landed you in last place…something tells me at the upper echelons of these Breed Shows this doesn’t go on but it was a bit alarming for me. I saw one horse willingly go around listening to his rider but he lost out to the fancy tailed horse that had its mouth wide open the entire time. These are big bits they are using, not exactly snaffles here. Maybe I need to learn more but not really sure I want to.

These horses actually do quite well if can imagine the ruckus going on. Fair rides and music, the Tractor Pull was going on and the Lawnmowers racers were warming and revving up their engines, it is amazing any of these horses aren’t having nervous breakdowns;)

At the lunch break we headed over to the rides and agricultural tent…loved the play with your food exhibit;) my mother always told me I wasn’t allowed to;) There were the standard bored carnies, too early on Saturday to waste your breath yelling ” step right up!”…”everyone’s a winner”. I can always figure out the latest animated movie craze by the stuffed animals being given away. Koalas and unicorns seemed big this year;)

They must have been containing their enthusiasm for the Saturday night crowds;) We wandered through the Agricultural tent and the chicken and bird exhibits by the petting zoo, hard to resist miniature baby foals and donkeys, always a favourite:) we could have stayed for the demolition derby and eaten some bad fair food but a day such as it was, sunny, no wind, was begging for a canoe ride on the lake so we left early and headed out for a paddle.

Now what a way to end a beautiful day! Groot was getting a bit bold, sitting on the front of the canoe as we were paddling. Usually he waits until we pull up beside the dock to carefully climb out but not this time, he decided a few feet out that, well, he’s a strong strapping cat, why not gracefully JUMP to the dock. He had not been taught Newton’s third law sadly,  for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. If you push off as you are jumping, the canoe will move away from you, therefore extending the span you have to jump…yup…kerplunk…into the lake he landed, I didn’t laugh, at first, just grabbed him by his harness as he swam towards the dock and hefted him up, he is a two armed kitty now folks, big boy. He looked extremely dejected especially after a toweling off but half an hour later was playing with a feather we’d found floating as we were paddling. Hopefully the swim will be forgotten, we’ll see at the next canoe ride!

Enjoy these last days of summer folks and see you soon. We may try to get to the Renfrew Fair this week to see the heavy horse show after all!

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As summer fades away….

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Hard to explain that feeling, of summer slipping away, the first chill in the air, the bonfires and smell of smoke drifting across the water.

Maybe it is time to move on. I can feel Fall, and smell it in the leaves and ground. The freshness is gone and as the plants start to brown, and the flowers fade I know the time is coming. We’ll start looking at the maps and plotting our course West, and South.

Eleutheromania (n.)

Origin: Greek

Definition: An intense and irresistible desire for freedom.

Do we want to leave, no, not just yet. Many things are up in the air and it seems we have not had the time to visit with everyone we wanted to. Strange how quickly the months have flown by.

We will still have glimpses of summer in the next few days, warm days and hopefully more canoe rides out onto Otty Lake. Groot has taken quite a shine to his canoe trips. We have Regan and Sheila to thank for the use of the canoe and the stunning space here at the lake. It has opened our eyes to the joys of living lakeside. We will be eternally grateful to them for that.

…and there is the Perth Fair! A sure sign of Fall:) the wild blueberry stands will close after this Labour Day weekend and things will quiet down. We stopped at a stand along Highway 7 for some berries and a pie on a trip up North to Nirvana, an abandoned airstrip perfect for astronomy. The road in had been graded so now just to plan for last quarter, or new moon and hope the weather Gods will be kind and give us clear skies. It has been a cloudy summer, hoping for a sunny start to Fall. In the swamps the trees are already turning and a few pop here and there with yellow, the reds and oranges can’t be far behind.

Tonight the forecast is for 3° celcius, that “IS” chilly, time to bring the basil in and bundle up tomorrow morning for the farmers market, I have my fingers crossed for apples, and the Perth Fair! Stay tuned, I’m hoping Sunday and the heavy horses will not be rained out as predicted! Let the weather Gods intervene!!!

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You are what you eat…really:) we don’t have to worry about terrorists or asteroids, we are killing ourselves…:(

As we get older, it sucks doesn’t it;)…there are suddenly these questions of health. Up until a few years ago I pretty much felt I was immortal, yeah, silly isn’t it, but recently I’ve had to stop and think about what I was putting into my mouth and just how healthy, unhealthy it was…perish the thought but yes, went to the doctor for the first time in a year and we need to start thinking about that list of things, high blood pressure, cholesterol, etc…yuck!

We have always been pretty conscious eaters but it seems that is not enough. It’s funny, having everything so easy here in the US and Canada really makes you a bit lazy. In Baja we had to plan, and we grew a lot of our own food, and local produce was always available. Partly the wonderful climate but it was out there, easy to get and fresh. Here, it can been the same, but more work. The local store’s produce is far from fresh and sprayed with water to make you THINK it is fresh. I discovered recently that some of the local roadside stands that you think are selling “local” food are a hoax. They are unpacking wholesale boxes and putting it in small cardboard farm containers to make you think it is local, and whoa…at a hefty price as well. Those tomatoes looked a bit too perfect to come out of a field…that made me mad. Even if it is from Ontario, 400 miles away is not local and although they do not claim”local” their cute little farm stands along Highway 7 and the opposite The Shell station do scream that. Buyer beware I guess in this day and age.

We have an amazing local farmers market here in Perth as well as festivals through out the summer. The latest, the garlic festival at the Perth Fairgrounds was a feast for the…well…nose…it was garlicky alright…yum!

Not only an amazing array of garlic but food, fresh and baked goods as well as a wonderful Raptor Show put on by the Canadian Raptor Conservancy.

Eggs, well, I love eggs. Some can be good, some can be great but I love to get ours straight from the hens, more or less anyway. Out on the Franktown road there is a lovely lady, Marcy, who’s chickens spend their days roaming about the farm and for $4.00 a dozen, in the honor box, you get eggs from happy hens with beautiful golden orange yolks, priceless!

There is a local farmers market every Saturday morning at The Crystal Palace in Perth. The fresh produce this time of year is amazing. From small fingerling potatoes to fresh greens, tomatoes that SMELL like tomatoes and peppers that reek, of peppers! It is a wonderful spot to shop from stall to stall and take home something fresh, healthy and support the local community and farmers. As far as price, it is quite a bit less than the fake local stands and just so much tastier than the sad water sprayed produce the big stores sell.

What happened to us as eaters…why is out of a bag/box so much more popular than out of a garden? Is it time? It is our health and when I see the line ups at Costco’s and Walmarts around North America I do cringe a little bit inside…our healthcare systems are in crisis, heart disease, diabetes…most of this is all preventable, starting with what we put in our mouths. We don’t have to worry about crazies or terrorists killing us, we’re doing it to ourselves slowly. Read the packaging, understand what is in your food and cook…spend time in the kitchen, teach your kids to cook, not just open the ziplock bag and dump it in the boiling water, or take it out of the microwave…..just saying, we truly are what we eat:) a few more eggs and I may be sprouting feathers:) I always did want to fly:)

Solar Eclipse from Perth, Ontario

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Start of the solar eclipse

As much as we wanted to travel West to see the total eclipse of the sun it did not quite pan out as we had hoped. A few obstacles presented themselves and then a last-minute 1600 km drive to Nebraska was just too far. Cloud cover did not look good for going too far South either so we decided to stay home and treat our fellow Perthites to a view through the solar scope. Mike’s friend InQ came to help out and they had a great small local crowd.

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Crystal Palace, Perth. Eclipse viewing

There was even some nice announcements from the local radio station Lake 88.1

Lots of cell phone shots through the eyepieces and line ups to look! Thanks Pamela Shivak for the solar sunglasses they were a huge hit and so nice to give them out for free!

There were a lot of ooh’s and aah’s going on! Great set of sunspots in the middle, as well as flares and beautiful prominences on the top right! Wonderful time with friends!

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Towards the end of the eclipse

Summertime

Summertime, it conjures up all kinds of images but my favourite is the sun setting lakeside. Sometimes I just glance out the trailer window marveling at the colours and clouds, other times, inspired I grab the camera and run to the water…the moments of colour changing can be spectacular.2017-07-28 457_stitchAS

Here for a few moments, and then slowly fading to grey. It has been a wet summer. Besieged by thunderstorms most afternoons the forest has been dripping water for weeks. Last year, a drought, this year a deluge. The lake is so high water is starting to cover the docks.

The forest here by Otty Lake is a mix of pines, and cypress, as you get further from the water, maple, ash and birch predominate. The thick layers of leaves on the forest floor are covered with new mushrooms every day! From black coral like formations to bright red Witches Hats and spotted Amanita Muscari as well. Slime molds, delicate little 3/4″ high mini mushrooms and strange plants I’ve never seen before continue to intrigue me as we walk and explore.

I feel for the farmers trying to get their hay cut and dried, so much of it rained on with the seemingly daily shows of thunder and lightning. The fields are soaked, some never dried from the Spring and have been left unplanted. The frogs and snakes are happy though:) We have a daily visitor to the long grass growing in the water by the lake. A beautiful Northern Water Snake stalks frogs, swimming from water-logged branch to branch with usually only his/her head poking up. Beautiful tan/brown colour with red chevrons running down it’s back. It is fascinating to watch snakes swim! A small Eastern Garter Snake has made an appearance as well. At the water’s edge the Leopard frogs leap in when we walk by, I think I’m helping the snake every now and then. Groot has decided that frog hunting could become a hobby so has started to stalk them. I thought they might not taste very good but have seen him delicately carry the about before they leap away when he sets them down.

I’ve been searching for fawns and made Mike come to a screeching, almost, halt and turn around as I caught several out of the corner of my eye but they bounded across the grass and back into the woods with their white tails flying like flags. They’re out there, I’ll be patient! Near Peterborough and the Warsaw Caves we found an amazing baby Porcupine, it glanced down on us uncaring, Mom was in a branch higher up. What a delight to stumble across these creatures.

Last night, it got cool, not that hot humid summer feel, which some say hasn’t come yet but there was just a hint of Fall in the air as the temperatures dropped to the 50’s for you farenheit folks, 14°C  for the rest of us. The morning air was cool and I pulled the blanket up. I like these days. I’m not the biggest fan of the hot humid days when the deer flies are eating you alive, I’m waiting for the trees to turn and when a bonfire feels good.

The hordes of damsel and dragonflies continue to provide another source of amusement for Groot. He has stopped eating them thankfully after a few lurps, those beating wings did not agree with his stomach! The varieties seem to differ from back in the hay fields to down at the water’s edge.

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I feel like I may finally be getting my hummingbird photography mojo back. A female Ruby Throated has taken over the feeder, chasing away even the nearby Chickadees. I’ve missed my hordes of hummingbirds, but next year there will be flowers planted for them, and herbs in the garden as well as lettuce and tomatoes, a new summer home base in the works:)

 

The regular cast and crew of birds have been present. Watching the juvenile Red Breasted Nuthatches and Chickadees is always a great form of amusement, youth and bravery, they don’t seem to mind me when the adults fly off, they are quite cheeky! The Hairy Woodpeckers have been silent, raising another brood perhaps. A lone female Downy Woodpecker has arrived and is a regular as well. The Goldfinches have started to return, heading South already I’m guessing. The Loon babies are grown and a family of 12 Mergansers paid me a visit while I was out swimming, what a delight, talk about big families! Photographing while in the water is a new experience. I purchased a small waterproof point and shoot camera and it has been a learning experience!

I hadn’t realized how much time had passed since my last blog in July, I was shocked, where did that month go? By in a flash, a wonderful flash filled with friends, food and small adventures. The pizza oven has had a great deal of use. Fun helping Regan build this and have it in the yard for dinner! Not just for pizza, here Regan is paying homage to Coagula, the goddess of arterial plaque with a bacon wrapped pork loin and potatoes in duck fat, I really shouldn’t have my cholesterol checked for a while;)

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The pizza oven

Next week, it’s time for me to take you for a visit to the beautiful donkeys and our retired steeds, munching grass all night, sleeping in their stalls all day, now that is retirement, but wait, was that the vet going to visit? oh dear….we four and two-legged creatures abhor those visits don’t we, but that is next weeks adventure!

Stay tuned, saludos amigos and may your mojo remain strong!

I bearly made it through the week, and other bad bear puns;)

Groot had quite the surprise yesterday morning, a new visitor to the trailer, not the usual Golden Lab, Lucas, that Regan and Sheila have but…a black one…wait a minute, Groot was pretty sure this was not one of those evil dog things but something completely different so he let us know…meow….!!!

Groot and bear

That is NOT a dog!

Come and take a look! He was jumping from window to window. Mike said “Bear”…I said, “yeah, right”, I’m not getting up before sunrise…”NO REALLY! BEAR!!!” that did get me up! Holy guacamole….a bear indeed.

 

He was feasting on the sunflower seeds in the “squirrel” but not bear proof bird feeder. I sent the feeder manufacturer a shot as well, they had a chuckle and hoped my feeder survived, it did! We watched him for 15 minutes as he picked the seeds out of the feeder, finally shaking them out before licking them up off of the ground. He eventually wandered off to the other cottages along the lake, I’m sure he has his routine:)

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I think I will sit and eat

Another day at Otty Lake, life is an adventure isn’t it! So wonderful to be able to experience nature this close and marvel at the wonder of it.

So until next week amigos. We’re off to do some fishing from the canoe, perfect day. I’ll see if I can contain myself bearly 🙂  I’ll need to get my bearings, oops, after we bearicade the door, or yes, these puns are unbearable;)

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Wonderful day

 

Recovering his Mojo, living life with Groot

Maybe we both needed some time to see, and appreciate the good things in life. The fire in Baja threw me for a loop, realizing there are incredibly stupid jerks, but also really amazing people out there and we sometimes tend to fixate on the negative when we are tired and overwhelmed.

Same with Groot. While I was repairing damage in Baja, Groot got stung by a bumblebee, in the bum…poor monkey. It entailed a trip to the vet, having his temperature taken for the first time, yes, that elicited a hiss, wouldn’t you? Don’t think the vet warmed up that rectal thermometer;)

He went from being an extremely happy, wildly ambitious, tree climbing, chipmunk chasing teenage cat to a quivering recluse, hiding and running away at the simple sound of a buzzing fly. It was heart aching to see the trauma one nasty bite did…but time, the greatest healer of all is coming through for both us. It’s taken a few chipmunk chases and spending hours on the docked pontoon boat, talk about a weird cat, how is it safe out on the pontoon boat and not by the trailer(??)…hahaha…guess that is our boy, and many days of watching Mike fish, trying to show Mike how to fish ( the cat that is, he seems to think he knows better) to slowly get his confidence back. Meanwhile the 17-year-old Burmese Beezil has decided he needs to show Groot it is safe and has taken to wanting to go out several times a day to gallop about and then eat some nice grass, to puke up later, seems I need a hobby, cleaning up cat puke was not one on my list, but..sigh…where are those paper towels?

Has Groot recovered his mojo? Not completely, I can’t help but think he will be a more cautious cat for his experience, he was actually a bit of a sullen spoiled teenager before the bite, he was getting mighty big for his orange and white tabby pants, maybe mother nature took the wind out of his sails for a reason…it can be a big bad world out there, I think I hear a Cat Stevens song coming to mind…”oh baby baby it’s a wild world”:)

Saludos amigos and stay tuned, I think I may have found my mojo as well:)

 

 

Life lessons

I’m not a trusting person, I may have been as a child I think, gregarious, outgoing. It took a lot of years to slowly form my opinions on who could and couldn’t be trusted. My mother never had that filter it seems. We were her filters for years as children and later as teenagers. In 1970 she packed my brother, sister and I into the back of the baby-puke yellow Volvo station wagon and took us on an adventure. We took the ferry to Vancouver Island and then to Washington, she was ever looking over her shoulder, paranoid, someone was following us, coming after us, we eventually landed in a back country town in Idaho, they had goats, they were nice people but we never quite got what was going on. Mom stopped taking her meds and seems she thought some bad crap was going down, when in reality, it was all in her head, turns out she was molested as a child and was somehow reliving it through her kids, it was a bad time and it started our roller coaster ride though life with her. My poor Dad, she turned his world upside down, I’m glad he moved on and found happiness later with a wonderful woman. He never got to know his kids, sadly, that was stolen from both of us, it was her world, and as kids, we just thought it was normal to follow. I don’t follow much of anyone anymore…ever:)

Family thinks I should write a book, sailing around the world for the years and years we did, adventures, misadventures, we sometimes reminisce we are lucky to be alive. The amazing locations we were raised in, the lack of formal education, not thinking that was a bad thing but it still remains such a huge undertaking…all those emotions to deal with, not sure I want to open that can of worms, ever, but every now and then, I think about it.

Looking back at the fire at our ranch in Baja and the moron man baby that started it has had me musing on the why’s and the current political situation in the US. Also the many morons we encountered as kids on boats, sailing, trying to sail, or getting pulled off of reefs because they were just plain stupid, inexperienced or all of the above. Humans…I have a hard time containing my disdain for them at times. Sheeple, going about in their herd like world. They terrify me, no really, they do. I don’t do crowds.

I’m not very PC. I don’t mean to offend but humans really can be stupid, morons at the best of times many of them, not all, but many.

Insurance claim came in for the ranch, will cover a very small portion of the fire damage, but there are those deductibles, you know insurance companies…not covered, flights down there and back, gas, food, labour, mine and our wonderful friends…and no word from man-baby moron that started the fire and ran away, all of this, hiding behind the skirts of a lawyer that asked I return his computer, they would be happy to pay the postage, just not all the damages he caused? Computer is long gone, shouldn’t have left the house open for three days should you have? another case of more stupidity, will it ever end? I think not. If I could bring myself to watch the news, tweets and what ever I only seem to see more man-babies and their female equals…is this really the face of America? Could this become the face of Canada? Such a sad sad place, are they really all now happy with their reality TV president, it seems so. I guess I was not really wrong, for the masses, glued to their glass teats.

I’m glad I have friends, that every day remind me, we are not all alike, television zombies. Many I think, can feel, are capable of compassion for their fellow human beings and would do the right thing regardless with no strings attached.. My friends I’d like to think care not about colour, race, creed or religion but I’m sure I’m wrong, in there, are the climate change deniers, the homophobes, the racists….it saddens me. To live on a planet with so much hate, when there is so much beauty there….

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Experience…the shaper of our perceptions

It’s been a long month, and we’re less than three weeks in. Humans are odd creatures. They often profess to have an amazing range of skills that we realize later that for lack of experience, they really know nothing at all, and many are not up to, or able to face sometimes the simplest challenges that others consider nothing more than a simple operation.

 

Living in the Sierra for eight years we gained skills, we also brought 20 years of farming skills with us that included a lot of self diagnostics before you call in the big guns to repair tractors and various other pieces of machinery or even a simple clogged drain. Farming is a bit like living in the Sierra, it is a sink or swim world, if you do not have a certain mental outlook to try to tackle just about anything the bank will soon own your farm. There is no place for managers or foremen unless you are swimming in cash. Sometimes we forget, not everyone has these skills. We have lived in the wild, but the majority of people currently live in urban areas. Rural areas cover 97 percent of the US land area but contain 19.3 percent of the population. The skill sets necessary for living in rural areas are dying. On the bright side, we’ll survive the zombie apocalypse, many city dwellers will not;)

A great sadness overcomes me when I think 80% of the population does not know where the North Star is in the night sky, as it is so polluted by light they can not make it out, or they have never had the chance to watch the Milky Way rise in a dark sky, our very own Universe, hidden from them in suburbia.

 

When people struggle most of the time it is a question of common sense, which we have learned is not so common. When the power goes out and a girl sits at the sink and does not understand why there is no water, or why she can’t go to the gas station and pump gas we are in big trouble. The things the populace takes for granted are astounding to me at every turn. It would not have surprised your grandparents I’m sure, but many, right here and right now, yes, are surprised, if they even realize it, at their lack of knowledge for sometimes the simplest things.

2-13-LaundryWhen hanging your clothes on a clothesline makes you feel like a pioneer I can’t help but think many have been living in just a bit of a bubble, or is it me? Left behind by all the niceties of civilization? Perhaps it is me that was left behind. No dishwasher, or dryer. No toaster. Limits, that would be the Sierra. I guess that is the word. So many people living with little to no limits is the rest of it. If you want grapes out of season, bang, you go buy them. Want a part for something, damn, it’s a long 15 minute drive to Home Depot…really? I think it is a big part of the instant gratification problems we will experience in the future. I do not think the following generations will enjoy the lifestyle of the previous ones. This generation is clogged by garbage. Everything they eat comes out of a package, can or bag, not a garden or butchers paper. Local is non-existent to many that live out of freezers from CostCo. I’m wondering how long that will all last, that enormous amount of waste and packaging. It scares me. Not the dark of the night, or howl of a coyote, I welcome that, but the nightmare of enormous amounts of garbage:) Maybe I am the weird one. But once removed, no one goes back the same, the Sierra sees to that and yes, that is the good thing. It makes you realize how we take so very much for granted and how we should think and make most of our decisions carefully for the future.

I admire the ones that are trying to get out and stretch their limits. They often arrive with fear in their eyes, just the road is enough to do that for many, but once out, and back in again they often scratch their heads and wonder what all the fuss was about, they have learned…when they want to learn and really try, they will take away from their time in the Sierra, and a foreign country so much. You can communicate without speech, and survive without a giant box store to service your every need. You can grow. This is essential for humanity. Once that stops, we are doomed as a species:) I’m not going to hold my breath for humans, but I am going to hope we can learn different ways of living, and respecting everything around us is a good place to start. perhaps a school for common sense is in order? 🙂

Saludos amigos, keep living, looking and stretching out of your comfort zone!

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Greeting the moon

Ontario-you never know how lucky you are, water and more…

Sometimes we take for granted where we live and what it has to offer, but once you’ve moved away and then come back so many things become apparent that you might not have even thought of. After 8 years in Baja and the SW, basically high desert where we were the water in Ontario is an amazing sight.

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Land of lakes-Ontario

One-fifth of the world’s water can be found in Ontario in over 250,000 lakes, as well as at least a fifth of the worlds mosquitos as well I think;) a big change from the small arroyos and trickling streams of the Baja mountains. There, if I wanted to see nature, I put out a bowl of water and it appeared, here, it sings from the treetops and leaps out of the water at bugs!

 

We’ve been contemplating finding a piece of land on the water, a place for Mike to unload his telescope for a few months a year, build a small observatory perhaps to house it from the elements but it is becoming clear those spaces that are dark enough might be a bit too far from what we have come to enjoy, Perth. This small town we took for granted so many years ago continues to amaze us. To be able to walk into a grocery store in a town of 6,000 and find just about anything you ever wanted to eat from Indian chapatis to Mexican corn tortillas and everything between is glorious, the amazing choice that is offered here in this small town never cease to astound us. It’s not just the food either but a wonderful diversity that makes us smile on an every day basis.

Life at the lake here has been a small piece of paradise:) especially being so close to Perth, so we may eventually have to compromise on the dark skies, in favour of the ease of every day living! Tough choices, we are so very very spoiled here in Canada:) So, Perthites, enjoy this amazing small town, OK to whine about the weather, that is what we do as Canadians anyway but keep in mind just exactly what you have at your doorstep everyday…those choices, that water, those trees full of birds….life:)

Saludos amigos, enjoying life by the water:)

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Cottage life