This is a novel, brace yourselves;)….that first chilly morning, when you can see your breath early and the mists are rising off the lake…is it an end to Summer? I hope not, it seems it just began! I seem to be working from today backwards in time this month:)
The Perth Fair is over, another year of photographing kids and adults enjoying themselves and it was a beautiful day. No thunderstorms to drown the mood or frost in the air that day:) Kristyn and her family did a wonderful job, prizes, judges, a familiar announcer, only about three feet taller than when we last saw her 12 years ago;)
The costume class is always one of my favourites and it did not disappoint this year, The bee and the spider were my favourites even after a few costume mishaps, with the legs falling off the spider;)
The ferris wheels in the background and a visit to the agricultural tent, always a must! Sadly every year it seems the Fair is a bit smaller, fewer people and horses, not sure why, it is such a wonderful venue. Where else can you see mini horses driving past their giant Clydesdale cousins!
It seems the Summer has gone by in a blur, ups and downs for me. Emotionally reeling at times, at times just asking myself if I can get over the sadness chronicles, a journal I started after my father died. We haven’t just been locked inside all Summer though. At the end of August we uprooted and went to to Starfest, an astronomy festival North of Toronto. It was a wonderful break from the routine of Airbnb cottage cleaning to a week filled with geeky friends and lots of laughter, a needed break after my Father’s memorial.
So, these guys sleep a lot during the day so I get to mosey about walking the creek at the River Place RV Park and looking for photography subjects as well as bringing them late night warm out of the pan muffins, will have to make that a tradition!
Going North to Owens Sound we stumbled across a field of sunflowers, what a glorious sight full of honey bees!
Mike finally got to meet a old Facebook friend and fellow solar photographer Alan Friedman, they call themselves Mr. Sun and Mr. Moon. What a lovely man! I pushed Mike to put some of his lunar photos into the Starfest Photography contest and he came away with some wonderful trophies for first place, my Milky Way on Otty Lake also won a prize:) Sweet! Mike’s work is truly astounding, he is quite humble but I think he considered one of the finest lunar photographers out there:)
Did I mention just prior to leaving for Starfest I greatly complicated our lives? I really am going from present to past here today! Ha! A kitten…yes, a kitten. I know, I know, what was I thinking, it’s not as if we don’t have cats. Groot is three this year, Gamora is two, Puffy will be 20 years old in a few weeks…the devil made me do it, and perhaps some kind spirit push from my Dad. It seems before every Starfest I am flying off to something, usually not planned, this being my Dad’s memorial service in Vancouver. While my amazing brother and I were there we went through a storage unit and took home several boxes of childhood photos and also of my father’s early and later life after my mother absconded with us. So may smiling pictures of my Dad with cats, I have to admit I was laughing and chuckling, showing my brother in the dim storage room light one shot after another of my Dad with a cat on his lap, in his arms…my Dad never had a cat. The neighbours cat, his beautiful wife Gloria told me would come over every afternoon and sit with him…We also discovered what a good hearted shit disturber he was with his friends with photo after photo showing a side we never much had the opportunity to see…well, this little kitten, is a shit disturber of the most glorious, kind and fabulous way. I knew as soon as I walked into Pet-Valu he was staring at me from the moment I saw the kitten box…he was mine, we had to drive home and then I made Mike drive back…..this is usually Mike’s job! Kitten collecting!
I was so worried someone else would have adopted him, Mike was speeding…We named him Rocket even before we signed our lives over to forever care for him, as if that will be an issue;) They didn’t even have his paperwork yet from the Welfare Society but there he was, driving home with us…Our latest member of Astrogypsies Guardians of the galaxy:) Two days later we hooked up the trailer and hit the road for Starfest, a 6 hour drive…he played, he explored, then fell asleep for the journey, a true traveler right from the start! How did the others react? Well, I was worried, mostly about Groot, he is a big jealous soft boy, doesn’t take kind to sharing…he loved him the moment he came in! “My kitten” he said, Gamora, well, she is a warrior princess and can’t give in easily, has finally started to play and cavort with him, as long as he doesn’t touch her tail! and Beezil…well, he has a wonderful new warm little friend to clean his face and love him.
So much for not being crazy cat people…sigh…I must come by it genetically, Mike has no excuse though;) Such a Summer, this little kitten is therapy. After flying across Canada on an early morning flight bound for Vancouver I wasn’t sure what to expect of a memorial, surrounded by people I did not know except my brother who was flying up as well. What a large country this is as you fly over! The lakes, the provinces, hey I even saw the Banff National Park campground, we flew over most of the roads we took to get here this Spring, but so quickly. I’d forgotten about the photos on the phone until today.
My Dad’s memorial was very touching. I wasn’t sure what to expect, how would it feel, to be a stranger in a room full of people I didn’t know sounded awkward but I was touched and left with my heart swelled in admiration for this man and his beautiful wife of nearly 40 years. She doesn’t remember anything you tell her after 15 minutes but I felt her love for my father, us and these friends as well. She is a treasure, as well as their many friends from high school to retirement. They were a sweet, kind, wonderful room of people. I felt so happy my father had surrounded himself with people like this. Going through his photos and memories, letters we had written as kids, all separated into different files by child, the emails printed out, including all the photos, lately has given me happiness, and grief at knowing how little I knew of this man, and how much more I came to know with these little bits of information. I did tell you this was going to be a novel;)…..
But it was good to be home…Mike and I are always together, hard to think of a time when we were not. From running our Equestrian Center in Canada to the building the house at the ranch in Baja and all points in between, we’re happiest when we are with each other, and the cats! Ha! It has been a long Summer full of ups and downs but when you can sit and watch the sun go down in a beautiful place full of nature, wherever you are in the world, I try to let my worries and grief sink with it, revel in it’s beauty and trust that tomorrow is a brand new day, full of beauty on this amazing planet we live on…Saludos amigos
It is the wonderful world of donkeys, horses and cats, in no particular order:) They come running, and trotting or as in donkey walk, amble over to you looking for love and some treats. It is a place of great peace and solace for me to interact with all these four footed creatures, and their servants, oops, I mean owners/humans;)
I’ve struggled this last month with the death of my Dad, sadness, anger, where does it all come from? These beautiful creatures have helped on some of the bad days, when I kick myself in the ass to get down to see them. We bought Phoenix some 23 years ago as an unbalanced Quarter Horse/Thoroughbred cross mare that astounded me with her temperament cantering around a 30′ small sand covered ring/barn. Bought her on the spot and never regretted a single day. So glad Joanne and her family has her now, she has bloomed with them in her later years…and Maya, our little baby Hanoverian, born in front of a barn full of lesson kids on a busy Saturday morning, a wonder to behold, a feisty foal that worried her mother to death with her pranks and antics of wandering off totally unconcerned to a young mare with lots of rights and then, a lovely creature to ride and handle and show. She is our beauty, looking much the same she did at 5 as she is now 19….and Dusty…
…he nearly ended up as dog food at a sales barn if it had not been for the pleading of several young girls who saw potential in him, and we grew to love him and his ways. So many winning rides for those hunter kids and such a great teacher. I loved riding him over fences, he was so solid, so trustworthy, sometimes needed a bit of encouragement at a new and crazy jump but he had a heart so big, he would do it!..and Quizzie, this little pony can bring a smile to anyone’s face. She is a doll, and sweet, not your typical pony by any means;) ha! So wonderful to be able to watch these beautiful horses born, or arrive and their voyage through our lives. They are family, and I’ve left a few out, Boots, the off the track Thoroughbred who is turning 31(!!!!) this year, who says “You never have to act your age”, and the lovely Celeste. We have Jennifer to thank for this wonderful barn and her amazing care. I think of my grown up kids in good hands here wherever we wander:)
If the horses and donkeys can’t melt you into puddles of ooh’s and ahhh’s…the cats will;) The old Toms command the barn and the habitants from the house come and go. They are a wonderful bunch of characters, guaranteed to make you smile! I’ll one day get a shot of everyone but here are some favourites:)
and those mini donkeys…sigh…Hope is locked in a stall on an extreme diet and she wins the prize for sad Eeyore face indeed. A starving donkey she’d like you to know, just don’t look at her belly, she is as wide as she is tall;)
These amazing creatures bring a smile to my face when nothing else is really working. I feel privileged to be able to visit and share time with them and their owners. My friends. Here’s to a new month and more healing from natures best medicine!
Saludos amigos, stay tuned!
We are fortunate to have lovely wonderful human neighbours on either side of us, a true blessing, and many smaller neighbours in between:) I can’t imagine not sharing my space without these small creatures. I hear the words, vermin, pests etc. but I truly am astonished at people not wanting to share their space without some “wildlife”? What are we if not “animals” and who exactly is the most destructive animal on the planet?…yeah, go figure…:)
This family of red squirrels has been one of the most amusing neighbours this week. They are now out of their nest in front of the cottage and raiding the bird feeders, hanging from the wires, performing extraordinary acts of acrobatic expertise and yes taunting the cats…at every turn!
…while the red squirrels are the taunters, the poor chipmunks are not blessed with abundant brain cavities. More than one has not been rescued from a very nimble Groot, only to provide a bit of after breakfast snack…num, num…The ways of the wild, eat or be eaten it seems at times. The Robins squeal and try to fight off the raven looking for baby robin snacks, we’ve named him/her Asgard. It comes to the compost morning and night looking for a snack.
These birds are extraordinarily smart and one of the few birds with face recognition…be nice, or they may be back to haunt you! 🙂
With the rain has come the mushrooms, peeking through the heavy layer of fallen leaves and pushing their way towards the light. They can change daily. The wildflowers are right beside them. The trilliums and wild honeysuckle, and many blooms I have yet to identify!
One day it is cold and feels like late Spring, then it seems Summer is upon us! From jackets to shorts and back to jackets, today the AC is running. It’s a wild ride here! Groot enjoys afternoons on the dock fishing when the cottage isn’t rented. He’s ready for the canoe rides now with the new to him life jacket and handy handle to catch him if he goes overboard…ah Summertime, and the living is easy…well, at times. As with everything in life there is a price to be paid for all:)
This character has been stealing the bird seed so the feeders are put away each night. I do put them in late so have to occasionally engage in a conservation with this lovely fellow about foraging on his/her own as I move them in for the night:)
So far this year we’ve had no bear of fox visitors, but I’m sure they are out there. We are so lucky to be able to explore these wonderful woods and waters and marvel at what Mother Nature has created in the shade of the enormous maples and under the bright sun on a clear day at the lake. Living with nature, the only life I can imagine:)
Saludos amigos! Stay tuned as the heat has been turned up here and hay time is around the corner!
“The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned” Maya Angelou
Home, it evokes a certain quality of life, a familiar set of surroundings, friends, running into acquaintances at the grocery store, or avoiding them;) ha! I’m not sure at times whether this is my home or not but it’s the closest I have come to understanding that feeling. I see it in Mike’s face as we get closer and closer…He was born and raised here, I understand how deep those roots run and how joyful the return to them can be.
It was wonderful to back into our new gravel pad we layed out last year, hooked up to the sewer (no dragging the portable tank around) plugged into the 30 amp outlet on the bunkie but the water, well, that was another matter. May 4th…that water was cold, so cold after diving down at one point over my head the only thought was to crawl out on the dock as quickly as I could to try to catch my breath…We secured the inlet and with help from Regan got the pump primed and up and running as well-all the luxuries of life complete!
Yes, the bird feeders went up as soon as the landing pads were down;) Groot and Gamora knew exactly where they were as well and their tails trilled as they poked about, stalking chipmunks and squirrels:)
Gamora encountered a bullfrog and had a wonderful time following it about, gently touching it with her paw until big brother Groot came over and deemed it inedible;) She then sat down next to it and chilled for awhile! The small furry rodentia were busy cleaning up after the birds and trying to help themselves as well. A blonde morph black squirrel put on quite a show!
All of what makes this feel like home, the familiar:) On the land and in the water. The Canada Goose family was about, only seven goslings this year (last year was 12!) as well as a pair of Loons, poor birds were covered in Loon specific blackflies! I sympathize deeply with them! My hope is one day to see some babies:) Time to get into the canoe and go exploring in the shallow bays:)
The nature here is what brings me back. The busy Summer weekends with boats and jet skis flying about the water hold no charm for me. I really don’t care if you have a new boat, a big boat or a canoe. I don’t judge people by what they have, but how they act. Perhaps it is the lack of humans here during so much of the week that makes this place so beautiful. The quiet passing of a kayak does not disturb the loon, the roar of boat engines does get them calling mid-day when you would not normally hear them, they are protesting. Humans see so little it seems. The troubling times with our planet. We are surrounded by entitlement and the never ending case of “convenience”. We try to do our part, appalled at over packaging, I don’t buy that product anymore and actually tell the company why, how else will they learn? We can drive change as consumers, don’t buy single serving water bottles, read the ingredients on the packages, bring your own cup to Tim Hortons my friends…break the mold of convenience…our world depends on it. There is no planet B….
These are the things that keep me up at night sometimes…There is so much good in our world, and so much evil…most of which is just ignorance at times. Be aware, be kind, don’t judge ( except for bad Airbnb guests hahahaha!) remember everyone else out there could be having a much worse day than you could even imagine. Make room in your life for nature and ask how can you protect and nourish the world around us vs using it as a resource…It is the only planet we have:)
Saludos amigos! Stay tuned, maybe for blog on good and bad Airbnb guests and a good laugh at ourselves…humour can be the best medicine!
I have fallen so far behind but the journey goes on! We left Dinosaur Provincial Park and headed East. There was a forcast for 20 cm of snow for the area coming in a few days so we hot footed it out of there! The jacks were acting up and we’d called a RV repair place in Swift Current but no one seemed too keen on hydraulics. We figured our next call would be to a large truck or tractor repair given they have a great deal of hydraulics on them as well. In the meantime I got the word out on the DRV facebook page I hadn’t been kicked off of…ha!;)…(with “all the others” that had been kicked off a certain site by a shall we say posterior person who decides he is God…isn’t Facebook fun) asking if anyone had experience with the valves that control the jacks…in the meantime we sailed across the prairies….
We spent the night in Swift Current at the Kinetic Exhibition Park, a fairgrounds with RV hook-ups. The water wasn’t on but we had power and the chance to call around a bit more about the landing jacks and research online as well. Great spot, we were the only ones there save for several Prairie Dogs that Groot and Gamora found fascinating. It would be a busy place at Rodeo time!
It had been a day of long flat roads along the railroad and grain silo after grain silo marked with one town name after another. Medicine Hat, Piapot, Gull Lake and on and on…small lakes and bare trees, waiting for Spring to come! We settled after dieseling up for the next days trip, we contemplated not unhooking but decided to as there seemed to be a few truck/trailer repair places around in case the jacks decided to give up their ghosts;)
One of the wonderful Facebook groups” DRV problems and fixes” we are on had come back with some ideas to try. One fabulous comment with photos about the jacks and valves and an explanation on how to tighten them up as they often slowly worked loose did the trick! Thank you Robert Abbot for your great shot and hints! We tightened the screws with an allen wrench and in the morning the jacks shot up at lightning speed! No repair shop needed and off we headed to Estevan, Saskatchewan!
We passed through Chaplin, where a thriving salt industry happens, word was avoid the town run RV park as you’ll end up covered in salt dust… ( Wikipedia says: Chaplin consists of eight streets, two crescents, and four avenues (including the avenue on the ‘other side of the (train) tracks’) have to love that description(!) and in Moose Jaw we turned and headed SE towards the North Dakota border. Word was coming back that most places in Northern Ontario were still closed, others were flooded out so we decided to take a Southerly route back!
Just before the border is the town of Estevan, which had a lovely town RV park, just opening, we had our choice of spots overlooking the river and were happy the landing jacks once again seemed to be working well. The idea of a long stop to get them looked at was not appealing in any way;)
The next day we headed South to a small no name border crossing just South of the RV park, just fit under their signs and arches to a rather grumpy Customs agent. She was not the friendly type, mostly interested in what we did, before and now and where we were going…with a very stern face, the woman agent wants me to open the trailer. I comply. Looks in the fridge. Wants to know if we are hiding any people in the front…hmm….what you say “Of course not ma’am”…what you want to say “Only a few dead bodies ma’am”…Am I the only one who thinks like this? 😆It makes you wonder, is smuggling people into North Dakota from Saskatchewan in your 5th wheel a problem in this area😉 especially at a two lane border crossing? and who wants to be smuggled OUT of Canada?;) HA! We were happy to move on to a very straight road, the 40, across North Dakota heading for Graham Lake State Park on Devils Lake. I’d called ahead and there were 5 spots with water and power! WATER! YEAH! A long shower!!! Our first water since filling up at Dinosaur Provincial Park with a hose at the office;) On our way down to the park, it was off the beaten path a bit we came across a rather fierce looking fire, always makes me cringe seeing these!
A delightful woman checked us in, take any of the spots you want, 244 empty…just us! Our own private state park, now that is a bonus! We decided to stay a few days to catch our breath! It was a lovely spot. Groot and Gamora approved, complete with a fenced in dog, oops, I mean cat park for them to race around in leashless;)
The ice was just breaking up on Devils Lake in many places, what a haunting sound it makes! In open patches of water Hooded Mergansers were vying for the ladies. I have always wanted to see these striking birds! I’ve had an old wooden decoy of them for years so finally a chance to see them in the flesh! They did not disappoint! At one point a flock of Tundra Swans flew over me. Flocks of North America’s most numerous swans gather on lakes and estuaries or descend out of gray skies. A characteristic whistling in their wings led Meriwether Lewis to call them “whistling swans,” a name still in use. They nest on arctic tundra and visit the U.S. only on migration and in winter. Most have a smudge of yellow at the base of their black bill, but otherwise are pure white. Magical!
A Thirteen Lined Ground Squirrel, the guy with a very long name;) put on quite a show picking up the sunflower seeds the birds tossed about! A cat favourite, always just out of their reach but so much fun to sit and stare down the holes;)
Robins were pulling earthworms from the ground and a half dozen White Throated Sparrows were busy at the feeders.
It looked dormant but everything seemed to be slowly springing to life. The trees were busy with bird song, for a second I thought I’d found an old Baja friend, a Red Naped Sapsucker but turned out to be a Yellow Bellied one hunting for grubs and bugs in the leafless poplar trees!
Groot said they all looked delicious but the squirrels he said looked the tastiest! There were several walking paths around the park, the variety of seed heads and old dried berries were beautiful along the path, I stepped off once, and came back with my legs covered with ticks so didn’t do that again!
We added an extra day we were so enjoying the quiet. A quick trip into Devils Lake the town secured us with provisions as we had started to call ahead to find out what was open for our next few jumps back to Canada.
It was pretty slim pickings when it came to RV parks. Most we called didn’t open until Mid May and the rest just never answered our messages! We did get a call back from a park located in the Chippewa National Forrest in Minnesota , Stony Point Resort and Campground, she said they were not officially open but had a spot we could stay! We made our plans to leave early the following day. The sunrise woke me up as a bright red colour flooded into the trailer, it was chilly out, near freezing but I took off down towards the water hoping to capture the brilliant colour covering the Eastern sky! The frigid wind eventually chased me back to the trailer but what a sight it was with the sun illuminating the ice breaking up on the lake!
A nice send off as we left North Dakota for Minnesota, a bit more than 4 hours travel. I could see Mike was itching to get home:) We stayed two days at Stony Point, we drove through some snow flurries on the way so decided against driving into any more bad weather. The lake had a few bits of ice where the Canada Geese were coming to some skidding landings. There were mallards for the cats to watch as well as several pair of Common Mergansers in breeding colour! Spectacular!
The RV park was in the midst of Spring clean up so it was very nice of them to open early for us! The entire town seemed closed for the season still:) It was lovely watching the geese swim about with the beautiful reflections when the wind was quiet. Gamora decided they might be a bit large to tackle;)
The next spot we found when we called the phone was answered by a delightful older woman with German accent. She said they were open and had room and not to worry so we left for Bessemer, Minnesota:) It was another 250 mile hop towards Perth! We arrived later in the day and it didn’t quite turn out as planned. The campground was still soaking wet so we ended up spending the night on the paved road around the campsites and with a loan of a 30amp extension cord we managed to get some power as well for night. The lovely lady and her horde of small friendly dogs welcomed us with a slice of Cherry Cheesecake she’d just made and Mike got to brush the dust off his German vocabulary for a few moments as well. We left early the next morning headed towards Brimley State Park in Michigan, last stop before the Canadian border. Passed a church sign in Michigan…God B___S our troops…seems a few letters had fallen off, or maybe God works in mysterious ways;)
We drove along Lake Superior under gray skies, past the large lakers. It was a 290 mile jump and the cats were none too pleased having not gotten out much between bad weather and nowhere to walk. We were looking forward to Brimley and it’s beautiful views of the lake and quiet away from the road sites. No ranger to check in, in fact, there was no one else there! The ranger told me on the phone that there was a water hydrant by their office, it took a bit of walking around to find it, not in the campground but at their headquarters so we were finally able to fill the tanks for a a long needed shower and then pick out a campsite, only 237 to choose from;) We stopped in the middle after driving around, they were all on grass so we were a bit worried but the ground seemed firm so we pulled in with no problem at all.
Then it proceeded to rain the entire next day…Still, a beautiful spot looking out at Lake Superior. I’d hoped for a trip to the Tahquamenon Falls but in the pouring rain that was out. It did let up later in the day, the laker freighters were waiting to pass through the locks at Sault Saint Marie, anchored quietly. I did a few long exposures, one way to find out how dirty your sensor and lens are;) Groot and Gamora got to walk out on the beach and stare at the ice:) all very fascinating.
It was nice to see the rain was holding off the morning we went to leave, we did our routine, packed up….we made it a few feet before bogging down through the grass into the muck…yikes, 10,000 lbs of truck and 20,000 of trailer, what a difference a rainy day can make:) Luckily the park crew was there with their 1 ton truck, after checking with their boss if it was OK to pull us out they all came over, beats cleaning bathrooms right, hooked a tow strap, I’m sure it was a 5000 lb one! ha! to the truck and we slowly inched our way out onto the paved roads that go between the sites. Lovely guys and a lovely gesture, sorry about the deep ruts we left;)…OFF to Canada, after being rattled a bit by the start to the day:)
That was easy, have to love coming into Canada, “Where are you going? How long? Have a wonderful stay!” Now for some sun PLEASE! It pretty much stayed gloomy. What we had as rain at Brimley, the rest of the region had snow!
The views from the Trans Canada were wonderful. Amish farms and all those things Canadian, Petro Canada and Canadian Tires…sigh:) There was nothing open either West or East of Sudbury so we headed South towards the French River to a small RV park that was open, just, Sportsmans Tent and trailer park. No water and we were a bit worried as it looked grassy but turned out to be gravel so no more getting stuck today! Once a day is enough:) Left in the morning, now Mike was a man on a mission to get to Perth but we stopped in Orilla for the night to go to a grocery store and LCBO. More rain was forcast so we stopped at Hammock Harbour RV park as you are leaving Orilla. It had a spot, high and dry they said…the ruts we left as we were leaving attested to the fact the park was made in a swamp and drained;) A “we will not be back unless desperate” spot. Second one in two days that has half of it’s facilities closed but charges full price…sigh…We were in need of a sunny day. The rain and gloom was weighing heavily upon us, both four and two footed!
After Peterborough it was all familiar. We did get to go through Neil Young’s hometown:) and past a few funny signs but none sweeter than the “town of Perth, population 6000”, for the last 30 years that is what it has been:) Through town, and yes, first person we see every year going through town, Chris, must be preordained, or maybe we are living in the matrix;) and out to the lake…our newly made gravel pad from last Fall was waiting, sewer ready to hook up, now all we needed to do was get into the lake and get the water going….but that my friends, is another story, a very very chilly story;)
Stay tuned amigos, Spring is almost here!
There are truly those places you stumble upon and know, you have to go back. We had thought of going North to the Royal Tyrrell Museum but in the end decided we really wanted to go back to Dinosaur Provincial Park. We had fallen in love with it last year, the hikes right from the trailer, scrambling through the hoodoos with the cats, fabulous wildlife and when we pulled in, well, very quiet! One of three trailers there. And the power worked, and there was park WiFi, usable park WiFi…Oh my God…there will be no whining here on my part since last blog I did go on about the electric;) We’d called ahead about water and a lovely young lady said to pull up by the registration area and the water was turned on by the store to fill, complete with a long hose to do so! I’m not sure an American Park would have left an unattended hose there;) Problem one solved, we had water, now, I don’t think we had any others! Spoke too soon. The front landing jacks stopped before we were level and after fiddling with them for 20 minutes we were somewhat level…what to do, what to do…go for a walk!
…and pose the question online, wait for answers, cross our fingers it would work better when we went to leave….start reading the manual:)