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Walkin’ Boss

That’s John Herrmann on banjo and vocals, Steve Rosen on guitar, Erynn Marshall on fiddle. Roy Andrade on the other fiddle. The bass player’s name is on the tip of my brain….Tom….?

I didn’t make it to the 2018 Midwest Banjo Camp, but I hope to go in 2019 for my 4th time. It’s loads of fun and a fantastic learning experience.

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What a difference a day makes….

Yesterday I was convinced winter had arrived, but today is much more pleasant. Still cold, but not AS cold. For our Newfs, that means it’s party time again!



We even saw a big fat robin…

DSC08891 2.jpg


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The Timber Raft Jig

Earlier I posted Mac Beattie’s Log Driver’s Song. Reg Hill played fiddle in Beattie’s Ottawa Valley Melodiers. Here he is doing a piece with a title on the same theme, The Timber Raft Jig.

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The Partners requested an adventure…

The Partners ganged up on me this morning, lobbying for a trip to someplace good in the car. They just LOVE going places in the car. It’s a cold, crisp morning with occasional flurries around here, and some slippery spots on the roads. I loaded up the dogs and headed for the leash-free area on Etobicoke Creek. They love that spot, in part because there are usually some larger dogs around, making for good play opportunities. This morning there were not so many dogs around as there are in the nice weather, but The Partners did get a chance to play with a pair of Great Danes and a couple smaller dogs.


George and Ruby both looked at the creek and decided it was just too cold for a swim. In my world that makes it winter.


Recently, The Partners decided they like to carry around sticks. This is a new development. The don’t want to chase sticks or retrieve them, particularly. They just enjoy carrying them around.

The Etobicoke Creek leash-free is an excellent spot. There are both open and forested areas and plenty of access to the creek. The far side of the creek is steep so it forms a natural barrier. The park is bordered on the opposite side by retail (like Starskys) and light industrial uses, with a good safe fence bordered by bushes and shrubs. The leash-free zone runs along the creek. There is plenty of space and plenty of variety, and swimming opportunities make it a premium spot in season.

Access to this area is at the end of Southcreek Rd, south of Dundas, just west of The West Mall. Although there is a bridge on Dundas over the creek, the existence of a leash-free area is not obvious and I wouldn’t be surprised if many people were not aware you could get down in there and let your dogs run and play freely. There is parking for a few cars at the entrance to the leash-free area, with additional parking a few feet away. The leash-free area has a double gate and a few garbage receptacles for poop-bags.

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What sort of craziness is this?


Normally, I go on nature walks on Wednesdays, but Miles Hearn’s Friday group was going to be right here in Long Branch today, at Marie Curtis Park, so even though Mother Nature planned rain, snow and maybe even freezing rain for today, I decided to tag along. It turned out all we had was rain, which gradually became worse all morning. I dressed well for the weather and it turned out to be an interesting walk. Photography was limited though, due to the rain.


I have to hand it to Miles. He hasn’t missed a nature walk due to weather in 12 years. Amazingly 10 people showed up for a walk in the rain. About half the group called it quits about halfway through.

We saw what looks like some somewhat old hipsizygus mushrooms on a Manitoba maple.


The highlight of the walk was a pair of Eastern bluebirds. I fished out my camera and tried to get  a couple shots. The birds were a little far for my camera and conditions were poor, but I got one photo. I had hoped to snap the other bird as well, which was facing us, showing off its red breast, but the photo is too poor to post.


There were more birds around than I expected. Miles identified 13 species, including several cardinals and chickadees, loads of dark-eyed juncos, white-throated sparrows and American tree sparrows.

Another highlight was some Witch-hazel in bloom. These crazy shrubs start blooming at some point in October. Blooms can be sustained into December. DSC08852.jpg

The colours were beautiful in the woods in the park, especially in the areas where Beech trees dominate. DSC08855.jpg




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Can you ever Forgive Me?

I wouldn’t know anything about Lee Israel’s curious life of crime, nor her book about it, had it not been for the movie trailers I’ve seen for the film of the same name, starring comic actor Melissa McCarthy in what has been touted as her first serious role. I haven’t seen the film yet, but I just gobbled up Israel’s book, Can you ever Forgive Me: Memoirs of a Literary Forger.

In a recent blog post about Levon Helm’s memoir, This Wheel’s on Fire, I noted I rarely read autobiographies or biographies. On considering this, I realize this year that is not at all true – this year I’ve actually read 4 of them – this one, Tommy James’ book, Me the Mob and the Music, The Mayor of MacDougal Street, about Dave Van Ronk, and Levon Helm’s book – more of this kind of book than I’ve read in the past 3 or 4 decades.

I enjoyed this book. First of all, it’s beautifully brief. Lee Israel chose not to bore us with chapters about her childhood, her parents and on and on. Instead, she cuts right to the chase. She was a successful author (a biographer) from the get go and when the bottom fell out, she found herself broke and ill-adapted for the work-a-day world. Through it all she liked her booze. As well, she alludes many times in the book to her precarious mental state.

The book focuses on Lee Israel’s literary crime spree. Her first idea was to create letters by famous people like Dorothy Parker and Edna Ferber and Noel Coward and sell them. She went as far as to have stationery printed up, and even built up a collection of old typewriters she used to create the letters. She did her research and put herself into the minds of her subjects, creating fictitious letters based on real, detailed biographical information. Later she escalated her crimes by making reproductions of existing letters, and switching up the forgeries with the real ones, then selling the real ones.

Lee Israel did not express much remorse about her criminal activities. She writes that she considers her forgeries to be her best work. I think she delighted in penning the fake letters. The second part of her crime spree I think was driven by desperation. She writes, “The remorse here is personal. I betrayed some people whom I had grown to like. With whom I’d made jokes and broke bread. And in doing so I joined, to my dismay, the great global souk, a marketplace of bad company and bad faith.”

The dealers in autographs and memorabilia don’t come out of this book very well. Here’s Lee Israel’s comment about the dealer who first called the FBI. “I wasn’t surprised; he was one of the few in his field who I suspected knew that provenance was not the capital of Rhode Island.”

Can you ever Forgive me is a highly readable real-life tragicomedy. 27th Street recommended.