Friday, 29 August 2008

Reflecting Pool

The town reservoir is home to redwing blackbirds, turtles, bullfrogs, Canada geese, swans, beavers and, occasionally, some giant mosquitoes. This where Tessa spends her excess puppy energy when she comes to stay with me.

The life preserver is a nice touch... but I wouldn't venture in, too much water weed. However I've seen people drift around in a rowing boat, and sometimes there are people fishing on the bank.

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

What Some Girls Will Do To Look Beautiful!

Storm clouds like these on the horizon have been a familiar sight here in Southern Ontario this summer.

They usually bring sudden heavy downpours accompanied by thunder and lightning, soaking the back yard. There's so much water running off the roof that the eavestrough on my back porch just can't handle the flow. But at least the grass is still green, and not brown and crunchy like last summer.

But not everyone is tired of the wet weather. The creatures that live around the town reservoir really appreciate the extra moisture. Usually by the middle of August, the ponds are pretty dry.

There are other creatures that love this wet weather too. I was puppysitting this weekend so we went walking along the forest path by the reservoir. Tessa found a suitable mud puddle, and before I could stop her.....

It gives a whole new meaning to the expression "facial mud pack".

Saturday, 23 August 2008

Calling all Mycologists!

Any amateur mycologists out there?
How many of these beauties can you name?

It's been a wet summer and the fungi are thriving in the forest.
The only one I can name with certainty is number 8, Giant puffball (Calvatia gigantea).... see my previous post.
Number 5 looks like Field mushroom (Agaricus campestris) but I'm not sure.
I don't intend to eat any of them!


1: Turkey Tail Bracket Fungi (Trametes versicolor) thanks Tom.

2. Grey Oyster Mushroom.... possibly.

3. Russula humidicola or Russula silvicola, your choice!

7. Confirmed as Coral Mushroom, a.k.a. Coral Tooth or Coral Hydnum (Hericium coralloides) for details see here, and if you fancy it for dinner, see here.

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Giant Puffball

There were two of them. Giant Puffballs love the damp weather we've been having all summer. Someone had smashed one with a stick, but the other one was still in one piece.

It measured 18" across... no kidding! It was huge.
The only thing I had with me to give some idea of scale was Tessa's leash.

I left it where it was. Giant puffballs are edible, but this one was a bit too big for my frying pan!

Monday, 18 August 2008


The Rose Family Farm in Mount Albert is the best place for home-made chips! I don't mean those crispy flat oily overpriced addictive junkfoodthings they sell in supermarkets.... I mean REAL CHIPS!

The Rose family grow their own potatoes , slice 'em up, deep fry'em, and serve them from a chip wagon in the farmyard. Ketchup, vinegar, mayo, salt, pepper, assorted spices... your choice!
Here's the potato sorter machine in the barn....

.... and the result. Bushel baskets of Russets and Yukon Gold.
Have you ever tasted tiny new potatoes boiled with a couple of mint leaves and then lots of butter... mmm.

And someone here on the farm has a wicked sense of humour!

Sunday, 17 August 2008


GOLD MEDALS for the Canadian men's eights in rowing!

HOORAY! Well done lads! WAAAAHHHOOOO!!!!

Friday, 15 August 2008

160 Years

This week, the company that I spent most of my working years with celebrated 160 years of operation by hosting a lunchtime BBQ for employees and retirees.

A giant portable stage was erected in the parking lot and volunteers cooked hamburgers and hot dogs for everyone. On Natural Gas BBQs, of course. The celebrations were kicked off by a proclamation delivered by Markham's Town Crier.... and believe me, he wasn't in need of a microphone to get his message across.

John Webster has been the Town Crier of Markham since 1987, and has attended Town Crier competitions all over the world, winning three World Championships.

I've been a retiree for a while now, so it was good to go back and reconnect with some of my fellow workers. Some commemmorative words were spoken by the CEO and various other dignitaries and then the Enbridge choir sang a few songs.

A troupe of jesters, jugglers and street entertainers were on hand to keep the hungry crowds from rioting entertained while waiting in line for hamburgers. This chap was quite the gentleman.

Looks like I made a friend.
This young man was busily juggling flaming torches and doing a bit of fire eating.

He was pretty entertaining with his flaming torches but once he put them out, he suddenly wrapped his left arm round the back of his head in the most uncomfortable way... but he kept smiling.
Yes, that's his arm you see here...

And then he wrapped his right arm round the back of his neck, and he's still smiling.

I was starting to feel very uncomfortable.
My shoulders were starting to hurt.

And then he juggled a ball from left to right... or was it right to left.... ewwww you'd think this would hurt a lot wouldn't you?
It makes my arms ache just looking at this picture.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008


The Toronto area has had it's wettest summer in 70 years.
From June 1 to August 10, it has rained on 41 of 71 days. A veritable washout.
Lots of isolated thundershowers. And more to come.

This was one of them. Someone over there is getting very wet!

Monday, 11 August 2008

Storm at Sunset

Pictures taken 5 minutes ago in my back yard....

.... of a very ordinary sunset reflected in storm clouds to the east.

Saturday, 9 August 2008

Tweet Tweet

The neighbourhood Birding store.
Bird seed, bird feeders, bird books, this store can supply anything you require to do with wildlife.

A big black crow keeps a vigil on the sign every day. I'll let you into a little secret.... he's not real! How do I know? A little bird told me!

Thursday, 7 August 2008

Bath Time

An innovative use for an oldfashioned bathtub.

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Alien Invasion

Something very strange is going on around here.

Odd looking drawings are appearing overnight where you don't expect a drawing to appear, all over town. That chap (above) doesn't look like he's a quilter.

And is this fellow a soccer player, or just plain falling over?They seem to be hand drawn on stiff card, and attached to walls. But by who? And why? It's a mystery.

This one is inside the Clock Tower. Praying for what? Forgiveness? Better weather? A big lottery win?
Your guess is as good as mine.
One more... but looks like he's been ripped off....

Monday, 4 August 2008

The Knife Sharpener (updated)

The knife sharpener man visits town about once a month, driving his mobile sharpening service slowly through the neighbourhood and ringing his bell. If you want a cutting blade of any kind sharpened, just open your front door and shout. "Hey! Over here!"

My neighbour wanted his hedge trimmers sharpened. The cost? A bargain at $7.00.

But sadly this is a dying trade. Most of these men are elderly European immigrants who brought their skills with them when they came to Canada. It's not a job for a young person. In a few years, a visit from the friendly neighbourhood Knife Sharpener may be a thing of the past.
Do you have a Knife Sharpener come to your neighbourhood?
Update: Tuesday 5 August 2008
WOW, out of 20 (so far) commenters, the only TWO that still enjoy regular visits from a mobile Knife Sharpener (that's Hilary and EG tour guide) both live in ONTARIO, CANADA... and not too far from me. Just goes to show that Canada is the best place in the world to live!!!
Interesting comments from those that remember tradesmen that came to the door. A lady I worked with told me that she remembered the Banana Man going door to door in Toronto when she was little.... and certainly when I was a child in England we had hundredweight bags of coal delivered to the house by horse and cart.
Uhoh, am I dating myself here?

Friday, 1 August 2008

House Repairs

The Space Cadet decided that today was the day he'd scrape the window frames and clean and recaulk the storm windows in the "orange room", so called because it has an eyecatching vivid orange carpet.

When the house was built in the 1890s, this was originally an open verandah and was enclosed sometime during the 1940s or 50s, so that's how long the windows have been there.

Plenty of time to go rotten without anyone noticing.

He got started but.... Uhoh.... he found a huge area of dry rot.

The Space Cadet would never allow his DIY talents to be outdone by a mere beam of crumbling rotten wood, so the battle began.

He pried out all the bad wood, and replaced it with 2'x6' cedar, but the whole window had to come out eventually.

"Shall I move all the stuff that's inside?" I asked.
"No need, I'm not going to make a mess", he said.
So I moved all the stuff anyway. Good thinking.

Once the beam was replaced and the vertical supports were strengthened, it was time for a coat of primer. Luckily I found a can of white primer stored in the basement with just enough left to do the job.

I'm so thankful he's not afraid of heights.
Repairs continue tomorrow....