Saturday, June 28, 2008

Bug Success!

Last Thursday morning I was returning from my haircut and came across an osprey's nest that I'd not noticed before (my eyes are usually on the road or if a passenger, looking for bugs on the windshield). So of course Cranky Baby and I stopped to take pics. In the first one you can see the Canadian and Nova Scotian flags next to the telephone pole where the birds had built their massive nest. The osprey is the provincial bird of Nova Scotia by the way. Another shot.
While waiting for something to happen, one of the adults flew from the nest and arrived back about 5 minutes later with an eel. If you click on the picture you may be able to get a better look.

Then driving to my folks place a little while later I heard on the radio about Ethel and Oscar, the two adult osprey in that very nest and that they have one baby and there's a cam to watch the excitement!! Here's the link.

Then this evening, I was clearing the table for supper. I had caught a little white, fuzzy moth the other day so took a look at it and then checked my other jar on the table, the one with the blue mud dauber wasp eggs in it. And there was a live one!! Must have hatched in the past day or so. I was as excited as a kid at Christmas. So I took pics and set it free.

Way too much excitement for me these days. And it doesn't stop there, either. Tomorrow I will be 45. Yay me.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Stationary Bike Ride

This morning I was up at 4, out the door at 4:40, and at work at 5 to set up a tent and my bicycle to join the morning show, Griff and Caroline, to promote the heck out of the Bike tour and raise some money. I rode my bike for 4 hours (yes, the butt is numb).

In a word, Success! I received over $450 from folks on their way to work and another online donation as well. I'll wait for the end of the day to determine who made the largest single donation and shave their name or place of business in the back of my head. Pictures to follow...I promise.


Thursday, June 26, 2008

Bike Tour Preparation

That's Ed from Cyclesmith with Cranky Baby checking my bike to make sure it's good to go for the Rona MS Bike Tour.
Cranky Baby trying to get a little closer to the action. Or Ed. I think she's got a crush on this guy. For years, the great people at Cyclesmith have been sponsors of the Bike tour. I frequent their shop in Halifax, though not yet this summer. I will be going there soon, though, as I really need some new bike shorts.

I am having a four day weekend - yay! Tomorrow, Friday, I will be setting up my bike in front of work, soliciting donations for the Bike Tour from all those on their way to work, and handing out Kool FM T-shirts. It's a busy street and the morning show will be having me on the air with them. I hope people are generous.

On Saturday, I'll be speaking at the Hoops for Hope Girls Basketball Tournament. The guy who put this tourney together has MS and is also a B-ball coach. This is the second year for the tourney. To see all these young women together is inspiring. They play their little hearts out and the entrance fees are donated to the MS Society.

Next weekend I will be in New Brunswick for the Bike Tour there. A few of us from the Cycledelics are making the journey to take part and I'll be MCing the dinner after the first day. It's a little longer than the Nova Scotia tour, though apparently not as many hills (mountains in my mind). I'm planning on riding the first day and driving a support vehicle for Day 2. Then the countdown begins to the NS ride at the end of July. I should be ready to do the two day ride by then. Remember, I missed 5 weeks of training this spring.

This is Randy. He was at the Bike tune up the other night. Randy came from the National MS office for some meetings and loved Cranky Baby. But who doesn't, right?


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Bee Ware

(Picture from Wikipedia)

I have written before about things being connected. I am always looking for and/or finding connections between seemingly unrelated things. I did it again.

As you're probably aware, I like bugs. The social insects I find particularly interesting. Bees are one such creature. They do what's best for the hive, defending it from intruders, and if they're sick, they leave the hive so as not to spread disease. Bees have been in the news recently because of "Colony Collapse Disorder", whereby complete colonies of bees simply cease to exist. According to a recent PBS documentary, if something isn't done to alleviate the problem, by the year 2035 we may have to pollinate our own plants. There's a city in China, dependent on the pear crop, already doing that; it's a painstaking, long process to collect the pollen, dry it out, then individually pollinate every pear blossom to produce fruit.

Of course there are a number of agencies world wide looking into this CCD because results could mean a disaster on the world wide level. So what is making the bees disappear? Undoubtedly there are environmental factors, like global warming or wetter weather making life difficult for the bee. (A drenched bee is one of life's most pathetic creatures-it cannot fly until it dries off and is therefore vulnerable to any predator. That's the best time to pet one though, as they sit and wait.)

There are parasites that can cause problems for the bees, though on their own, the parasites don't seem to cause the wide scale bee loss that is being observed. There is also a fungus that bees get that seems to be contributing to the loss.

Some speculate that the mobile bee keepers who move their hives from field to field may be contributing to CCD, the bees gaining increased exposure to bees from other hives and with other parasites or diseases. Or that the movement is exposing more and more colonies to different pesticides and poisons.

But the most interesting (to me) possible cause of CCD is Israel Acute Paralysis Virus. It has been found in a great number of tested CCD colonies and while causation has not been proven, there appears to be a link.

In IAPV, the bee becomes sick, then paralyzed. Nature doesn't cope well when its creatures can't move, therefore they die. En mass. The virus can be transmitted by mites, those pesky little parasites. It would be akin to us getting Lyme disease from a tick.

One of the terms used in the PBS show I watched was "perfect storm". Heard that before. A perfect storm of events transpire to kill off the bees. Immune supression because of parasite infestation, exposure to less than ideal circumstances in the environment, and onset of a virus. On their own, each circumstance is survivable and uneventful, but put all three together and you get the perfect storm resulting in CCD.

MS is much like CCD. We have a certain genetic makeup that makes our immune system go a little haywire, add to that less than ideal environment (perhaps not enough vitamin D), and exposure to a childhood illness, and bingo! MS. Each of those circumstances on their own probably don't cause MS, but put 'em together and you've got it.

I couldn't help but think of the connection between both these illnesses while watching the documentary. As we discover more and more about how our systems work with, and sometimes against, each other, we understand biology a little better. I just wish the discoveries came a little faster.


Sunday, June 22, 2008

May the Force be with You

This one's for Robin over at the Internet Institute of the Easily Amused. Sadly, my digital camera didn't take the best shots in the dark, where Cranky Baby's light sabre was glowing in the dark.

There's a new Cranky Baby video that Melissa put together of a bunch of pics I've taken over the past few weeks. I am having trouble posting the video so here's the link instead:

If you're still having trouble seeing it, go to and look for Cranky Baby on a Roll.


Saturday, June 21, 2008


As sometimes happens, my father has come up with something rather amusing to himself and annoying to my mother. Actually, both Dad and I find it funny, as does the Wookie, and Mom is starting to come around. I think.

About 15 years ago, my Dad became a little fixated with aliens. The kind from outer space. He was watching the X-Files a lot and Millenium (his favourite movie is the original Invasion of the body Snatchers, mine is Alien). Dad's always been interested in space. In fact he had a telescope we used to use quite a bit when I was younger. Looking at the moon, Mars and whatever else we could find. I have even taken to searching for orbiting satellites from time to time and spotted the International Space Station once as it was visible in the sky over Halifax.

A couple of years ago, in the back part of their yard, my mom had quite the vegetable garden. There were even kiwi vines on a pergola back there. Over the years Mom's put in more flowers than veggies and it looks like a botanical paradise when you're in the middle of it. My Dad likes to go up there and have his coffee (who wouldn't?) but the ground was uneven and he needed to do something about that. He built a miniature deck under the pergola that's big enough for two chairs.

Dad started calling his little deck the Alien Landing Pad. Mom didn't think this was funny when he referred to it in front of the neighbours. I gave him some solar powered lights for around the ALP, as I'll call it, and was accused of encouraging him. Of course I was!

Enter the Wookie. He's been travelling for his job for a couple of years and really hasn't had the time to do much with his house and property. But lately, he's had more time here. So this past week he's put a whole bunch of solar lights on his property. Last night was the first chance for me to see it. The lights are in front and on the side and all the way to the back around the pond. There are even two floating lights in the pond. The effect is amazing. Very spooky in one way as the lights aren't terribly strong, but when you look at it from the end of the street and begin to approach it, it's like you're coming in for a landing from an airplane. With any luck, he'll take some good pictures of it for me (my digital camera wouldn't take a good enough shot I'm afraid). So now the Wookie has his own ALP that puts Dad's to shame.

Last night, I hosted an appreciation dinner for a local Special Olympics group. It was so nice to be there and the kids were so sweet. I was even made an honorary member of their team. After the dinner, the Wookie and I went to the village where he lives, in a small community outside of Halifax, where they were having their annual Fire Hall Fair. I had run into Jessica and her mom the other night and they suggested I come out for the fireworks. So that's what we did. After the fireworks we went back to the Wookie's to take a look at the ALP. It really was kind of spooky, though the Wookie insists it's even spookier when it's completely dark.

Today is the Wookie's birthday. I'm off to help him celebrate.


Friday, June 20, 2008

Spit and Cranky Baby

The night my camera battery died I was able to take a couple of pics. The spit -froth- on the plant stem is really a bug nest. Baby bugs, not sure of the species, grow up in there, emerge, then carry on. Below the froth is another bug being "milked" for its honeydew by an ant. The ants are sometimes referred to as farmer ants. They caress the bug, like they do aphids, the bug releases a drop of honeydew, and the ant runs off with it. there's actually another type of ant that farms mushrooms. They grow them in underground areas, tend to them, and harvest them when they're ready. Cool. Below is a shot of a couple of wild irises. Saw a load more of them after the battery died.
I am an honorary Halifax Kinette. One of the things I like to do for them is answer phones at the local cable studio once a month when they have their TV Bingo. so last night I took Cranky Baby with me to learn the ropes. she got behind the board to see how the numbers pop out of the machine.
Then she wanted to see what it was like behind the camera. Very cool.

While I'm thinking about it, check out Lisa's Carnival of MS bloggers (link to the right) and Charles' podcast (from Wednesday, especially, as that's the one I'm on).

I will be back over the weekend as there's a lot going on to tell you about. Tonight I'm off to host an appreciation dinner for volunteers and participants of a local Special Olympics organization. And tomorrow is the Wookie's birthday! There will be presents....


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

My Dr. Phil and Teaching

I began creative writing when I learned how to read. One of my many aspirations as a teen was to be a writer, a novelist and/or journalist. I still may be a novelist some day but don't hold your breath. When I got to university, I took a creative writing course that wasn't part of my regular studies. I was only 17 but soon realized that I wouldn't be able to support myself as a writer. I had some minor talent but didn't have the discipline.

The course that I took was led by my very own Dr. Phil. I've mentioned him before. I eventually took an English course from him as well. It's kind of funny that my favourite profs were not related to my field of study. (Another favoured English prof I had once accidently poisoned an old boyfriend with a seafood casserole, but that's a whole other post)

Anyway, 24 years go by and I mention Dr. Phil in my blog. Then I sent him a note, reintroducing myself and pointing him in the direction of his mention on the blog and warning him of the soon to be stampeding crowds of papparazzi to his front door. Of course that didn't happen (the crowds, that is) but Dr. Phil and I have begun e-mail correspondence. Originally from the states, and transplanted into a very tiny rural community, I looked at him (as I did with all my profs, actually) as larger than life, with an infinite amount of wisdom, and the power to make or break me as a student. I still felt that way upon graduation, fearing the university would say to me as I got on stage to accept my degree, "You haven't learned enough. This is a mistake."

Sometimes I don't feel like I'm an adult. I often joke that I'm still only 3 years old as I maintain a sense of wonder about much of the world. If I grow up completely I'm afraid I'll lose that sense of wonder. But one thing that has made me feel a little more grown up in recent months is the e-mails I've been exchanging with Dr. Phil.

It turns out that Dr. Phil and I have a few things in common. We both have our own health issues to deal with and we both love biking. We are both passionate people, though about different things (and so it should be). It's one thing to grow as an individual in the presence of parents and other family members, but it seems very different to suddenly appear in someone's life again as a fully formed adult and be treated as such, not as a naive student. In an earlier post I talked about a young woman named Jessica. It is a joy to watch a young person learn and grow. Actually, anyone, no matter the age, is a joy to watch as something is learned and understood. That's what I enjoyed about tutoring adults at a local Literacy Centre, the "lightbulb" moments when something to do with geometry made sense or explaining punctuation in terms of traffic rules making it easier for my student to comprehend.

It turns out that humans are the only animals that make a concerted effort to teach others. All other animals "teach" their young by instinct, or the animal's behaviour is directed by chemicals. But for some reason, humans teach and know they are teaching, and continue to teach in even the most exasperating situations. We seem to want or need to impart little bits of info to others. Apes teach other apes by accident. They don't hover over their young and offer encouragement if the baby tries to do something. We do. Apes learn by trial and error and by watching and imitating. We do that as well, but we also learn by sharing information with each other, analyzing it, and then applying it. And it occurs in all societies at all levels, whether it's me as a 5 year old teaching my brother to tie his shoelaces or my mom teaching my father how to make biscuits, or it's Dr. Phil explaining the meaning of a story by Philip Roth.

Why do we like to teach other people? I suspect the answer is rather complicated, but on a very basic level has to do with teachers receiving positive reinforcement for successfully conveying an idea to a student. Yes, I'm a bit of a behaviourist. Think about it, though. A student's face lights up with understanding and it triggers a flush of warm fuzzies in the teacher. It may have taken hours, days, or weeks, but the positive reinforcement arrives in the form of the warm fuzzies. Sometimes the reinforcement is a paycheque or tenure. Even in non-traditional teaching situations, there is some form of reinforcement for the teacher.

But we also seem to have an "instinct" that drives us to teach others. Whether it's a drug dealer grooming an underling to do business or a mother and her child, there's something that drives us to teach. Animals don't have that drive. They can learn but they don't teach. But as much as I enjoyed my volunteer tutoring, I enjoy learning even more. I crave knowledge about a host of topics and I can get lost for hours on the net going from one subject to another. My learning is life long and non stop and I maintain a sense of wonder about the world around me. I suspect that my Dr. Phil feels the same way.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Cranky Baby and Dad

Last night I "guest DJed" at a Women's Dance. About 5-10 minutes before the dance was to begin, one of the computers we were using to spin tunes (figuratively) kind of cacked out a bit and refused to do what it had been doing before. Luckily Kathy had a couple of mixed CDs we could use 'til we got things going again. I brought Cranky Baby, wearing her party dress, and sold a handful of raffle tickets, and received a fantastic donation for the Bike Tour. I even ran into a former co-worker and someone else who has MS (we're everywhere). And one of the bartenders was someone I knew from the MS clinic years ago. All in all it was a good night.

Earlier in the day, I hopped on the bike and rode to a spot where a community effort is underway to clear out and clean up a few acres that has been donated for use as a park. Of course Cranky Baby came with me and wore her hard hat (it's all about safety for her). Here she is supervising our illustrious leader, Walter.
And yet again, supervising the debris shredders from the safety of the truck.
You can always go to Facebook to check out the "I Love Cranky Baby" page, too.

Since today is Father's Day, I should tell you a little something about my dad. You already know that my interest in bugs came from him. My sense of humour mostly came from him, too.

Dad plays the piano. He took lessons as a kid of course, but stopped playing as a teen. When I began taking lessons, my father soon followed. He began taking lessons, too. Our house always had some kind of music going, usually classical. That line from the Grinch comes to mind, "Noise, noise, noise, noise, noise!" We both stopped lessons when we moved overseas (I was 16), but dad kept on playing. I played as well, for variety shows at school, and for a youth group musical, but once university began, I didn't have as much time or access to a piano. Dad still plays.

Dad went back to school, around 1989 for a course in computers. I believe it was MS-DOS he was learning. I got him a lunch box and some crayons to help celebrate. Mom said that the weeks he was taking the course, he had some wild dreams and talked and gesticulated in his sleep. I guess we both have issues with computers.

Speaking of sleep, Dad can drop off for a nap faster than almost anyone I know. 20 minutes later he can be awake and refreshed and ready to go again. (I have yet to master this talent. I can drop off for a nap pretty quickly, but it lasts 2-3 hours.)

Dad likes presents. Every year for Christmas or birthdays, Dad would send me a picture cut out from a flyer of the tool or nails or whatchamacallit I could get him. One year it was a mitre box, another year it was C-clamps. In recent years, however, I've taken to asking him what he would like. His response has been "Don't get me anything. Save your money." So a couple of years ago on his birthday, the Wookie and I went over for his birthday dinner. After dinner, Dad was kind of looking around for his birthday presents. "But you said you didn't want anything" I told him. I've never seen a sadder face. Then I went out to the car to get him his present.

Happy Father's Day Dad. And yes, I have presents for you.


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Bugs, Bikes, and Cranky Baby

Here's a pic I forgot to include last week when I was out at the Wookie's place. I turn over pieces of wood and rocks at every opportunity to see what's crawling beneath and am never disappointed.

And as promised a couple of days ago, the lady slippers from out back. I counted 6 right away but I'm sure there are more as I haven't looked very closely on all the property.

I noticed more blueberry bushes than last year and they're coming along quite nicely as are the plants in my garden. My tomatoes, though are barely hanging on after a "risk of frost" on the 6th of June! Monday was unbearably hot and yesterday was unbearably cool - no wonder the tomatoes were confused.

On the health front I have my six week post surgery checkup today. As I biked 20 k the other day I think I'm OK.

On the fundraising front for the MS Bike Tour, donations are beginning to trickle in. I am DJing at a dance Saturday night with some of the proceeds going to my efforts. I haven't DJed for almost 20 years! It's a "Women's Dance", so only ladies there. It'll be fun for sure and a great opportunity for me to spread the word about the Bike Tour. It should also be interesting as I may be the only straight gal there....I also ran into a couple of very community oriented fellas and have secured sponsorship for our team in the way of T-shirts (we Cycle-delics like to be coordinated on the ride).

And the Wookie and I took cranky Baby out for a bit last night and took these pictures:
Cranky Baby caught in the clutches of the giant lobster at Clearwater Fine Foods, a very community minded company. If you're in the market for seafood shipped world wide, they should be your first stop. Click on the pic to get a better look.

And next door to CFF is Palooka's Gym with this beautiful sculpture out front. Again, click on the pic to get a better look. I'll have to tell you the story of Palooka's owner, Mickey MacDonald, at a later date. He's one of my favourite people in this community.


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

20k Ride with Cranky Baby

So I put the pics in get he gist of it though. We did a 20k ride on Sunday morning. Our team captain, Denise, and the Wookie and I went to the south shore and rode from Blandford to Bayswater beach and back. It's a great ride and of course lunch at the beach is a good thing, too.

I had a great view, but Cranky Baby just had my rear end to look at.

We stopped for a little chat towards the end.....S.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Cranky Baby

Cranky Baby is spending the weekend with me. Today we went to work for a picture session,then after I hosted the annual ALS Walk we went to the Sackville Rivers Association last fish release of salmon.
On the way home we stopped at a church flea market and went inside to look for treasures. I didn't find anything to buy, but the gentleman who was taking our 50 cents admission was an absolute gem. He asked all kinds of questions about Cranky Baby and when I asked if he'd pose with her, he smiled from ear to ear and said sure. Then I told him he'd have to give me his best Cranky Baby impersonation. He complied. What a hoot! I am in love with this almost 90 year old veteran.
After we got home and had lunch, it was time to do a little gardening. Cranky Baby went straight to the potatoes...she does love fries.....
Not terribly happy with the buttercups, however.
There are a few more pics I have to post but that will do for now. Everywhere I went with Cranky Baby people had questions. The main thing is that she enables me to mention the Bike Tours coming up and if an opportunity presents itself, I can ask for a donation. Tomorrow she will don her bike helmet and go with us for a nice long ride on the south shore. Later in the week, she'll put on her biker gear (leather jacket and bandana) and we'll go hang out with some bikers for picture opportunities and a chance for me to sell some raffle tickets.

The lady slippers are in bloom out back of the building and I took a few pics. They will follow as well. And I found a caterpillar similar to a wooly bear. It curled up in self defense of course and I left it on the picnic table while we ate supper. Every few minutes I'd look at it and it hadn't moved....until suddenly it was gone from the table. Not anywhere on the ground. I searched under the table and everywhere it could possibly go. No sign of it. It just disappeared! Like my water boatman and my caddisfly, it was gone. I was going to let it go. Honest! I just wanted a pic when it was all stretched out. *Sigh*



There's a certain magic in my line of work, radio, that most people find interesting. They want to know about requests, who picks the music, how we decide what to play and who decides, how to win prizes ("I can never get through" or "I was caller 8 and you wanted 9" are common complaints), and do we listen to that type of music at home?

I frequently give tours of the station to groups like scouts or guides or church youth groups. It starts with an explanation that radio is a business, like a store, where we have to make money in order to stay on the air, to the traffic department which looks after "commercial" traffic on air and billing, to creative and production where commercials are written and produced and ends upstairs around the on air and news studios. The whole thing can take an hour or more depending on the questions asked by the kids and quite often by the adults. And I often begin by saying that like magic, if they know how it's done, it may not be so fascinating anymore, and are they still sure they want to know? Will they promise to still think radio is cool? Yes, they always answer to both.

Another task I am asked to take care of is to have a student, usually high school age, sit in with me for a couple of hours to see what it's all about . They have a long list of questions to ask me about the job and then I take them to another department for a while to see things running there.

Most of the time, the kids are interested in radio because it's got a high "cool" factor. Some are interested because of the music, thinking that we get to play whatever we want (!!) and some are there because their parent knows someone here and suggested it to them. The kids are generally quiet, a little shy around all the new people, but polite as they ask their questions and scribble down the answers on the sheet of paper they brought with them. Some of them lose interest when they discover it's not all rock stars and fun and games. This is actually work!

I don't remember most of the kids I meet because it's for such a short time, but a few have stayed with me, one in particular who came in a few months ago.

Jessica is a bubbly, bright, and cute-as-a-button grade 11 student. She's got personality and then some and is definitely a force to be reckoned with. She wants to do so many things and all at once, which reminds me sooooooooooo much of someone I know well (me-though I'm not half as cute as Jessica). Her questions for me were thoughtful and her interest NEVER waned; her eyes never glazed over.

Jessica is interested in a career in the media. She loves public speaking and journalism. Two of the questions kids often ask is "How do I get into radio (or the media in general)? How do I prepare for journalism school?" Jessica asked both of course. My suggestion is always to become a reporter for your school paper, yearbook, or any publication in your community. Keep journals and write something every day. It doesn't have to be Pulitzer prize winning material. It's simply a way to exercise that muscle between your ears. And to Jessica, I suggested writing a blog.

All you bloggers out there know that there are days when you just don't post something for any number of reasons. Or you think, no one's reading my blog, no one's interested. Or you need the confidence to build up a little bit before you start telling the world that you're on the interweeb, something I kept to myself for a month or so.

Jessica began her blog about a month ago, but only told me about it yesterday. She has two entries so far, but she has begun. I am so proud of this young lady I could just spit.

I don't have children and never will. I have never really wanted to be a parent. But I have been a teacher of sorts over the years, tutoring kids when I was in high school, and teaching adult literacy until a few years ago. One of my favourite activites has been speaking to Occupational Therapy students about MS. I enjoy high schoolers and college age students because of the light bulb moments I am witness to. It's a gas to watch kids grow up and come to realizations. Even kids of close friends are a source of this learning for me to watch.

So it is with great delight that I am to be witness to Jessica's learning. She's picked up an important lesson recently and I know that as Jessica grows as a human being, she will look back with fondness (and perhaps a little embarrassment) at her maturation process.

I am posting part of her latest blog entry here about her and her friend Friedel running for student council. I told Jessica that after a few more posts I'll put her on my blogroll:

Then there was the dreaded results day. We were all put into a room and the student council committee leader read off the results and gave us our grading sheets. Friedel and I lost, but she said that we could compare our sheets. When we looked at the other candidates sheets, we realized we had won the student vote, but because Friedel went to Thailand and did not bring home a note for his 58 missing classes, we got disqualified. I was upset, just because we had tried so hard and we had wanted to do it for such a long time, but now I know it was for the best. I was watching Oprah one night and I had seen this thing called the O ambassadors. It's a joint project of Oprah's Angel network and Free The Children, getting high school students to help fight world poverty and other various world issues. I seen that and I said right away: "I have to be a part of that!" I have only two goals in life: 1. impact at least one persons life for the better and 2.) too try and make a difference in the world. I feel very strongly about trying to end world poverty. We are a well off country and we just stand by while a rising number of people in other countries die daily because of malnutrition and diseases, when we as a whole can do things to end this crisis. so, I found out all the information I could about this program and presented it to our school administrator and my idea was accepted! For next year, I get to run the program and host a huge assembly at the beginning of the year promoting my program! I am extremely ecstatic!!

It just goes to show that everything works out for a reason.


It sure does, Jessica.


Friday, June 6, 2008


The latest Carnival of MS Bloggers is up. Not only do I encourage you to read it, but send something to Lisa to post in the next carnival.


Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Charles and I

Today Charles has posted another podcast featuring yours truly. You may have already read the post on my blog a while ago but if you want to hear me saying it out loud, head over.

I find it slightly amusing (in a good way) that Charles and I have teamed up. I work for mainstream media and Chuck the Canuck doesn't like them. Kind of. He's not keen on how the MM leaves out certain populations. I don't blame him, as I get kind of annoyed, too, but I get more annoyed at people who don't take action of some sort. You don't have to start a blog, or raise thousands of dollars, or wheel to Capital Hill or Parliament in protest of health care policies. But if you're going to sit and complain without doing something to change what bugs you, you'll get no sympathy from me. I like how Charles is podcasting about what bugs him and learning about how to reach a wider audience and how to get advertising for his podcasts. And his valiant attempts at getting the MS Wiki up and running are worthy of recognition. (Soon he tells me...bugs to be worked out, and not MY kind of bugs) So if you take some kind of action by writing letters to your elected officials, or make phone calls, or stuff envelopes, or even take the time to explain to someone who asks about MS, then you're OK in my book.

The other difference between Charles and I is that he is a Quebecois: French Canadian, and I'm...well...I 'm not. My ancestors came from Scotland but I am part of the English-speaking-only population of this country. However, my step-grandmother was Acadian (French Canadian, too, but a different group from the Quebecois). Actually, all four of my grandparents first learned to speak Gaelic. My step-grandmother first learned French. My point is that there is friction between the English and French in this country that has been a bone of contention for centuries.

These are really minor differences in the grand scheme of things. We share much more than we don't. We both are Canucks, we both have blogs, and we both have MS. And that over rides politics or ancestry any day.


The picture is from CFB Gagetown in New Brunswick in January 07 for Red Rally Friday, a recent movement to show support of the troops. Click on the picture to get a better idea of how they set up the pic.

More Bits and Bites

This is the frog pond in the Wookie's backyard, where, after initially meeting for a coffee, we went to hunt frogs on our first date. In my rubber boots. Very sexy. In another month the bulrushes will have grown so high and thick we'll barely be able to see the water from this angle. The dragonflies will be out in full force, patrolling the edge, having emerged from their last underwater nymph stage.
Here's a blurry shot of my cecropia moth. Monday night it was ready to fly so I let it out of the bucket for a brief taste of freedom despite my better judgement. It flew around the room a little bit then landed on the floor- but not before tearing a little bit of it's upper right wing. I scooped it up with my bug carrier and after thanking it for its sacrifice, into the freezer it went. And there it will stay for a few days. It's about 4-4.5 inches wide.
On my way home the other night I wanted to get a shot of a beautiful but deadly weed, purple loosestrife. It is deadly because it chokes out other wetland plants. The only way to kill it is by pulling it out before it goes to seed. Because it grows in very ecologically sensitive areas, wetlands, chemical eradication is out of the question. In the above picture you can see it next to the Sackville River. This is about 13 miles (17 k) inland from where the river empties into the Bedford Basin. I was standing on a bridge that spans the river and houses a number of swallows that were flying and darting around me at the time.
Another shot of the same spot but with the sun in my eyes. If I had stayed another hour, the bats would have been out flapping around me.

On another note, I took the bike out for a short ride yesterday. My first since the middle of April. I was able to get the bike down a half flight of stairs and onto the bike rack on the car with no problem and no pain or strain, so I drove to my end of the Sackville River trail and did a few kilometres. I quit when my water bottle holder broke off and the bottle cracked upon impact. I turned around as I didn't want to go too far without water. I saw a few lupins along the trail getting ready to flower, so in another week or so the vegetation along the highways will be bursting with pink, purple and white. Pictures will follow, of course. I watched an osprey for a minute as well. They arrive back in the area in March or so. But late spring and summer are the best times to watch these birds. They fish the Sackville River and there are a couple of spots in downtown Bedford where you can see them coming out of the river and flying over 4 lanes of traffic, weighted down with a 2 foot long squirming salmon, trying to gain altitude. It really is spectacular. A few years ago, someone in my neighbourhood was enjoying time with their family on the back deck when a salmon dropped from the sky onto their deck. A passing osprey lost its grip. Lol. Another visitor, but less often than the osprey, are the bald eagles. They prefer fishing the Bedford Basin where you can sometimes see them with their catch of an eel or fish, crows following close behind, antagonizing the bird in the hopes the catch will be dropped on land. It's like watching bickering neighbours. If you click on the link on the right that says My Neck of the Woods, you can get a view of the Bedford Basin.

Anyway, it was a short ride but as it was my first, I was happy with it. I was able to get up one hill in particular without stopping so I'm in better shape than I thought. Not quite ready for my usual training run of Shore drive with its twists and turns and killer hills, but soon. And the pledges are starting to trickle in. Warning to all who see me coming. I have raffle tickets I will be selling. Just pull out your wallet now and we'll be all better for it.

I'm sending an e-mail to Cranky Baby's mom so I can take her out this weekend on the bike. She has a helmet!! Pics will follow. (I'm nuts, I know) And I'll be set up at a local car show later in the month with my bike on the trainer taking pledges. It's going to be a very busy June.


Sunday, June 1, 2008

Bits and Bites

This is an odd assortment of things I wanted to post so here goes:

My pregnant guppy didn't make it. She expired sometime Monday night/Tuesday morning. Sometimes the stress of not delivering (and I was waiting for a long time) can kill them. So she received an unceremonious funeral (don't ask). Despite having purchased her and the other two guppies as food for other creatures, I had grown rather fond of the cantankerous thing, so was quite saddened for a moment. then I went to work. Life goes on.

Four of us from the Sackville Rivers Association cleaned up a small section Saturday morning. The rain held off thankfully so only our boots or hip waders were getting wet. The crap we pulled out of the river? As Linda would say, "Shit Marie!"
We yanked out a computer monitor in a couple of pieces, a child's wading pool, a perfectly good (though now crap) baseball mitt, a few tennis and golf balls, a golf bag, a tank like one for oxygen or carbonated beverages, a wooden toy sword, a toy gun, a broken knife, several stacking chairs from school (all beyond salvage), a school desk, two pylons, one political campaign sign, two bicycle wheels, a sofa chair (why they didn't just leave it on their front lawn to wait for someone to take it instead of lugging it back through the woods and dumping it in the stream is beyond me), and piles of paper, plastic, and other garbage.

I took a couple of pictures while I was there. The first one is of apple blossoms.

The next one is the ladybug on the broken tree stump. There are a kajillion species of ladybugs including two-spotted, 13 spotted, red, black, and many other colours. I swear I rarely see the same species twice except for the typical 13 spotted one. The one I saw yesterday has beautiful black and cream colouring. It's head is pointed down (in case you couldn't tell).

I also came across a lovely patch of wild violets though I didn't snap a pic. They were in a part of the woods that's not easily accessible to walkers (in fact you pretty much need a machete to get through that part but I was wearing boots so waded in the river to the spot) so I almost felt that I'd be invading their privacy if I took a pic. So I didn't. But the Wookie and I went back tonight. Of course there were torrential downpours last night and I couldn't even get close to the patches of violets. I did stumble upon a different patch so that's what I'm showing you.

Then, coming out of the lane I was sweeping the bushes at knee level and below and something rather colourful caught my eye.

Wow!! I had seen a plastic bag at the start of our walk so sent the Wookie back for it to hold my catch. This fella had recently come out of its cocoon and was still drying off and pumping up its wings. Into the bag went the reed, cocoon and moth and it should be ready for flight in a few hours. Not that I'll let it fly. I have it in a bucket right now and I'll cover the top with saran wrap to keep it in good shape 'til tomorrow afternoon for preparation to add to my collection. By the way, it's a Cecropia moth.

The other thing I wanted to mention is statistics. I love the analytics feature of Blogger. You can see where everybody is from who visits your blog. And what colour monitor they have or some such thing. You can also see what they're looking for and those are the funny stats I like. "Penis Vagina and Breasts" brought a great number of people to the blog as I knew it would. People looking for stuff about "The Monkey's Paw" brought a fair number as well. I was a little surprised but I guess the story has as much impact on them as it did on me.

As for what people are searching for? How about "boyfriend training mouth feel method"? Or "6 legged jumping insects in Virginia". By definiton, an insect has 6 legs. So "jumping insects in Virginia would have sufficed. Or "actress celebrities squishing bugs". I'd like to know which ones are squishing bugs. No Super Hero Bug Saving Awards for them.

Or "beetle impending doom". Hmmmm....they bring me joy. Or "bugs in pubic hair what do they look like". I don't want to know who was looking for that. Or "geographical features named after bugs"; That one sounds cool. Or "little league baseball never hit the ball". So, I'm not the only one who couldn't play baseball. Or "pubic hair I like it". Or "tired as a fridge freezer". Never thought freezers got tired. But the best one "you can pick your friends and you can poop at work". Thank heavens.