Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Montreal Walkabout

 Today I had lunch with my wonderful friend, Kathy Down The Road. We have known each other for over 25 years, and have so much fun together, it's kind of ridiculous. Stream-of-consciousness conversations, laughing from the moment we sit down together until we part ways to go home, it's the kind of friendship that makes people wonder if we're sisters. And we kind of feel like sisters. Odd, odd sisters from odd, odd parents. We can even share dessert without either of us wanting to chomp off the other's finger. Now that's a friend.
An ornamental cabbage. Hope they're not edible, because Buddy christened the rest of them whilst I took this photo.
We wandered up Greene Avenue after lunch, past the uniformed schoolgirls who walked and texted without regard to passersby or traffic, swollen-lipped women with flat-ironed blonde hair in fur coats, men in paisley foulards and polished loafers, and one tall woman behind us having a loud, animated discussion with what I thought must be her grandmother, as it was the kind of one-way conversation you'd have with a hard-of-hearing, cantankerous relative who refuses to turn up her hearing aid. Turns out it was her brown Labrador retriever who loped past us, off-leash, not giving a rat's patootie that this woman was talking at it full stop. This wasn't a "Heel, Espresso, HEEL!" kind of talk. This was a "Hey, do you think it's going to snow, and do you think our current prime minister is doing a good job" kind of conversation.
She then threw open the door to a ritzy hair salon and let the dog bolt ahead of her. We were left to ponder how the unsuspecting patrons felt about this slobbering dog and the Human Megaphone it belonged to taking their zen by the throat and shaking it to death.

Anyway, KDTR asked me why I hadn't posted any photos of my walks as of late, and I said it was part laziness, and part wondering if it was just all too much navel gazing. But she asked me to, so I will oblige and post a few I have taken recently around my 'hood.

If you enjoy them, let me know via the comments. If you don't, feel free to explain why to your dog.

They are replacing the pavement down the street. It will soon cover up all evidence of the old cobblestones and track for the streetcars.
Self-portrait

Front Lawn Art. I want to rescue this poor, rusty Underwood, but it seems happy with the pink flamingos and louche ceramic frogs.

The Catholic nuns and priests got all the good properties.

Typical door in Shaughnessy Village

Typical door in my daughter's neighbourhood

A friendly neighbour checking me out.

A Random P. There's a lot of that in the doorways of my neighbourhood.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Amy Dupire's GOD-THING: AND OTHER WEIRD AND WORRISOME TALES

I know Amy Dupire through the Compuserve writers' forum, and also from the annual contest at the Surrey International Writers' Conference, where she inevitably places in the top storyteller category as either a winner or runner-up.

Amy has now published a collection of stories called GOD-THING: AND OTHER WEIRD AND WORRISOME TALES and her first novel ALL KINDS OF HELL was published last month.

Her short stories are mysterious and strange and beautifully written, and creepy in a good way. Look what Diana Gabaldon has to say about Amy. She just added Amy's book of short stories to her Methadone List (what Diana calls her book suggestions for those waiting for her Next Book in the Outlander series.)

"The stories here are written with delicacy, humor, and a healthy dose of uneasiness. And they are… well, you know… short. Whether you’re in need of a literary appetizer or dessert, immersion or distraction— you might just find what you’re looking for in this collection of "Weird and Worrisome Tales." " Diana Gabaldon



You can read excerpts on Amy's website www.amydupire.com.

If you want to order her books, either hard copy or on Kindle, go to amazon.com!


Saturday, September 27, 2014

Mistakes Can Actually Work Out (Or, Pretend You Meant to Do That)

After I transferred my photos from camera to laptop a while ago, I noticed something odd about them. Many of them were over-exposed, while just as many were under-exposed.

Huh.

After much fiddling and confusion on my part, I finally figured out that I inadvertently pressed the "bracket" (Auto Bracket) button. This means the camera is assuming you will take three shots in a row of the same subject, and each one will go from light to dark, and then you're supposed to go to photoshop and blend them together for an HDR type photo.

But I didn't do that, I just went on my merry way, snapping anything that took my fancy in the park up on our mountain. So some shots looked bleached out and others looked vivid and other worldly.

But once I got over my panic of not knowing what I did (and I fixed it) I kind of liked the shots. Note that these were taken within minutes of each other in almost the same spot.




Wednesday, August 20, 2014

A Hummingbird Rescue

I needed this today, and I suspect many of you do too, after hearing about my tragic raccoon tale, which still has the capacity to make me cry. But this fine morning, I bring you a good news nature story.

Despite the fact that I deliberately keep our cottage windows dirty to prevent bird collisions (confession: the city windows are dirty from pure laziness) there is still the occasional accident.  My husband protests but a) he's not the boss of me and b), see a).

This morning, as I sat outside on the deck reading, a young hummingbird zoomed right above my head straight into the glass, then dropped with a thud at my feet.

I hustled Buddy into the house and we left it alone for a few minutes as it writhed on the deck. Experience has shown that the first few moments will determine whether a bird will live or die. Sometimes death comes in seconds if it breaks its neck, but more often than not, they suffer a mild concussion and recover quickly.

That is, if the squirrels, or Buddy, doesn't get to it first.

Then it becomes breakfast.

So this poor little hummingbird struggled on its back, wings sprawled, fluttering in a circle. But suddenly it righted itself, a good sign even though its eyes were still squeezed shut. Definite concussion, but still.

Buddy and I watched together from inside the cottage so as not to frighten it, but then a red squirrel showed up to spoil the party.

I ran outside and shooed the squirrel away, then I bent over the hummingbird to check on it. It suddenly flew into the air, hovering like a little helicopter in front of my face, the buzz of its wings so incredibly powerful and strong for such a tiny creature. I instinctively held out my hand, and incredibly, it landed in my open palm!

I couldn't believe it. I stood stock still, thinking it was going to take off at any second. My camera was inside, as was my phone, but I'd been reading on my iPad (okay, I was playing Candy Crush) and I thought I might be able to snap a photo if I moved quickly and carefully.

And by that I mean like a stealth ninja.

An old, creaky, plump, stealth ninja.

The photo isn't as sharp as I'd like, but it was left-handed. Using an iPad. WHILE HOLDING A HUMMINGBIRD.

May I say, do you know how hard it is to take a photo whilst juggling an iPad with one hand? With one non-dominant hand? With a hummingbird balanced in the other hand?

I struggled with the damn electronic demon and cursed its stupid design, which slipped and flipped each time I tried to hit the play button (yes, I know about the other button, but again, one-handed, holding a bird) all the while trying to a) not drop it, b) startle the hummingbird.

I did get it on film. The little guy was in no hurry to vacate his warm, cushy home. I had to coax him onto a nearby cherry tree branch. Within a minute or two, he flew off, unfazed.

You can watch the video below, or I recommend you go to YouTube HERE and watch it on HD and on full screen.

Or you can watch the tiny version here:



Monday, August 18, 2014

Me and A Very Rocky Raccoon

What is it with me and wild animals?

It started as a simple task - walk up the hill with the Budster and put all the neighborhood garbage bins back in place. However, my sunset stroll quickly turned into a rescue mission.  

I heard weak mewing coming from one of the bins, ours 'natch. The sound seemed to be coming from our bin, even though there was a large rock on it. I carefully opened the lid and there was a juvenile raccoon sprawled at the bottom. The smell of rotting garbage and who knows what else was horrific. I realized the poor wee thing may have been in there for as long as a week.  It was in really bad shape, so I carefully tipped over the bin, and Buddy and I waited for it to scamper away. It took five, very long minutes to crawl out, then it collapsed on the grass, calling for its mother, unable to get up. It crawled forward on its paws, dragging its body behind it.

It really did look close to death, so I ran (crying) back down the hill to the cottage, got some water in a dish and a bottle (cursing myself for not buying the turkey baster in the dollar store last week! which I had in my hand!) then ran back up the hill and approached it cautiously. I was worried it might bite, but it was so emaciated and thirsty it could barely move. I went right up to it with a water bottle, and poured some into the side of its mouth and on its paws which it tried to lick. It barely managed to crawl over to the water dish and drink with its head half in the water, then collapsed on the grass again. I ran back down the hill again for some dog food, a piece of steak, some nuts, a strawberry, and ran...back...up...the damn hill again.

It took the steak in one hand and the strawberry in the other, and tucked them under its body. Then lay its head down, quietly huffing, struggling to breathe. I was a wreck at this point.

Back down the hill to call the game warden thinking that's what they do, no? Help with wild animals? That was an interesting conversation, since he was French with no English, and I couldn't think of the word for raccoon* but it didn't matter because he wasn't going to come for this. 

*Raton-laveur, in case you wondered. Literal translation is "young rat who washes"

I phoned my trusty guy up here who knows everything about everything, and he said, and I quote, "It's a raccoon! Let nature take its course."

I couldn't. I'm hoping the little guy makes it through the night. I'll check in the morning.

Does this make me a cidiot?