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Go Patti!

A daily highlight for me so far in 2019 has been checking out Patti Kusturok’s 365 days of fiddle tunes. What a generous effort by one of our greatest fiddle players. Here she is with Day 35, Grey Owl by John Arcand. If you haven’t been following these, check them out!

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Georgie Update

In our home, there’s a room above the garage where we hang out – we call it The Treehouse. It’s 8 or 9 steps above the main floor of the house. George hadn’t joined us up there since Saturday because of his injured paw. That is, until last night, when he stood up, stared down the stairway, and ran up the stairs. Later, I gave him some assistance coming down to make sure he didn’t lose his footing.

This morning he still has a limp but I would say he is putting perhaps half his weight on the front right, a huge improvement from yesterday morning. It looks to me that the antibiotics are kicking in and helping already.

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Slow George

Between the ice and the salt, winter is hard on paws. Last week both Ruby and George developed raw paw pads. On Saturday morning though, George couldn’t put any weight at all on his front right paw. Now George is a big boy, and not having the use of a front paw is a big deal for his mobility.

With George and Ruby

We cleaned the paw and we rested him in the hopes that over the weekend he would heal up. This morning he was still having difficulty, so I arranged an appointment with the vet. Fortunately we have a “help-em-up” harness from Ruby’s knee surgeries so I got that fitted on George so I could help him into the car. We have a ramp so I set that up, then helped Georgie out of the house and into the car. He was fortunately very cooperative. I don’t know if he realized we had to go to the doctor if it was all about his love for car rides. The important thing is I got him to the vets with no difficulty.

His temperature was a bit high and his paw swollen. The first thing the vet suggested is we treat for infection, so he’s on a round of antibiotics along with metacam for pain and inflammation. She also took some blood to do a Lyme disease test. If he’s still having difficulty in a few days, the next step will be x-rays. Hopefully, the antibiotics will help and George will be his usual self soon.

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Cold Frosty Morning

What a cold morning for a nature walk! Today I met up with Miles Hearn and our weekly nature walk group just down the street at Colonel Sam Smith Park. I bundled up well, with long johns, thermal socks, my old postal dock liner, a warm parka, warm hat, scarf, hood, boots and hand warmers.

Toronto’s yachting paradise??

I love the ice formations!

We saw lots of ducks and geese and some mute swans in what water was still open in this bitter cold.

Long-tailed ducks
Mute swan
Swans and Ducks
A raft of ducks

There is a feeder in the park which attracts many birds on days like today, including cardinals, house finches, house sparrows, chickadees and more.

Here’s the late Dave Hum performing Cold Frosty Morning….

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A better day for my bird friends

Imagination Station #1

It’s funny how sometimes you don’t really notice certain things until you really slow down and look. For instance, I used to walk through many forests on my way to trout streams and never noticed the world of fungi all around me, until I started looking for edible mushrooms. Suddenly, I saw mushrooms everywhere.

Out back we have 3 structures we call Imagination Stations. It seems many people can’t cope with this kind of item unless they understand it has some kind of utilitarian purpose. What are they for, they ask? Sometimes I tell people it’s good for the backyard ecology but mostly I say, it’s so visiting supernatural beings like pixies and faeries and sprites and elves and trolls have a warm place out of the wind to sleep. My brother supplied the rural mailbox so they could receives letters from friends, long-awaited cheques and of course packages, since any old fool knows supernatural beings love online shopping.

It turns out the supernatural beings share the Imagination Stations with birds. I noticed this once the snowstorm started yesterday. Lots of birds were taking shelter within the maze of branches and whatnot. I almost didn’t notice and then I caught a glimpse of some movement as a number of house sparrows moved around, shifting positions. I don’t know how many birds took shelter in these structures but I’m pretty sure they appreciated a place out of the full force of the storm.

This morning I loaded up the feeders first thing and the cardinals and house sparrows and nuthatches and chickadees showed up for breakfast, with their dark-eyed junco pals grabbing anything that hit the ground.

Up in the old apple tree, two mourning doves were hanging out as well.

I often see these lovely birds on the ground grabbing sunflower seeds with the juncos, but these two weren’t feeding this morning. It seemed to me they were enjoying the day.

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Shelter from the Storm

Ever wonder where birds go during a snowstorm? We’re experiencing some bad blowing snow around Toronto this afternoon. I took a look out the window to the yard. At first I didn’t see any birds, but soon I started picking them out, in the barberry bushes, deep in the red osier dogwood, and along the wooden fence.

I tried to photograph the cardinals and sparrows from inside. I saw a mourning dove out front earlier but I don’t know where it’s hiding. When the storm was just starting, several chickadees came to the feeder to grab some calories before it got too bad. No sign of the house finches today.

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Spy vs Spy

We’ve been watching spy films lately. In particular, we’ve been watching the slow, plodding films based on John le Carré novels. This includes both of those British mini-series featuring Alec Guinness as George Smiley, and yesterday we watched The Spy Who Came in From the Cold, with Richard Burton.

There are at least a couple camps. In the James Bond movies, the protagonist is fit, brilliant, a crack shot, athletic and a magnet for super-attractive women. The only similarity in the other camp is that the protagonist is male. Le Carré’s characters are older middle aged men, somewhat frumpy, and certainly not athletic. In the case of George Smiley, everyone asks him how Anne is doing. Anne is his chronically unfaithful wife, and of course everyone in the spy community knows who she is bedding at the moment.

The Bond films seem to me much like super-hero comics, with simplistic plots in which nasty (but wealthy) bad guys live in swanky secret lairs where they plot the destruction of western society. They usually have many employees who shoot machine guns (a lot) and plenty of stuff blows up spectacularly. The good guys always win. Sort of professional wrestling for spies. In the other camp, everything is grey, from the skies to the plots to the morals of the characters. There isn’t a lot of action. The characters mostly drink and smoke a lot. Double-crosses are the rule.

My dad was a fan of the John le Carré novels. I recall as a teen trying to read on and not getting very far. I couldn’t handle the slow pace of the damned things. These days I enjoy them, and the movies too. I’ve never been a big fan of the Bond films on the other hand, although I suppose a few of them are watchable.

Next up we have a curious cross-over between the two camps. The Russia House is based on the Le Carré novel of the same title (which I’ve read), but it stars Sean Connery, who made his career as James Bond. This one is from 1990. Connery’s co-star is Michelle Pfeiffer. It gets mixed reviews, a 75% critic score on Rotten Tomatoes (and a 50% audience score) – it should be right up my alley.

Of course there is a third camp, where all spies are spoofed. Remember those wonderfully terrible Matt Helm films starring Dean Martin? And let’s not forget Our Man Flint, with James Coburn. Wait, maybe we should forget these? Better in the spoof department was the stylish British show, The Avengers.

Where do those Michael Caine “Harry Palmer” films fit in?

What’s your fave spy movie?