Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Treerats and Toads

The mature trees around the back yard are always full of marauding squirrels, all wanting a piece of the birdseed action. It's a constant battle to outwit them so that there's something left for the birds to eat.

But this young chap is bolder than most. He didn't listen to his mummy when she told him that humans can be dangerous.

He shinned up the pole and made himelf at home in the bird feeder, and no matter how close I came.....

..... he just carried on munching......

..... finally getting his picture taken at only six inches away. And he kept on munching... and munching.
Fearless Freddie, that's what I call him.

Then, on my way back to the house, I almost stepped on this youngster.

Ewww.... that would have been squishy!

Saturday, 25 July 2009

The Doctor's Car Park

The doctors office occupies the house on the left, it can be seen better in the reflection in the giant puddle.

The giant puddle is the doctor's car park.
If you're seeing the doc on a rainy day, better wear rubber boots if you park at the back of the lot.
The view over my back yard fence after a rainy afternoon.

Thursday, 23 July 2009


After cruising over the shipwrecks, we headed out into Georgian Bay, passing Big Tub Lighthouse. The original lighthouse was built in 1885 at a cost of $675. It was later replaced by this six-sided, 14 metre (43 foot) wooden lighthouse.

The summer waters here look calm, but the autumn storms can be furious. Cove Island Lighthouse has marked the safe passage for sailors between Lake Huron and Georgian Bay since 1858.

The shore of Cove Island is rugged and rocky, and the water is cold and clear. Too cold for swimming or diving without a wetsuit.
Some of the cedars clinging to the cliffs are among the oldest living trees in the world at over 1500 years old. There are even black bears and mississauga rattlesnakes living on Cove Island, and of course, it's a birdwatcher's paradise.

And on to our final tour boat desination.... Flowerpot Island, so called because of the strange rock tower formations on the shore.

Only two of these rock formations survive. A third rock stack collapsed in 1903.

Erosion from the stormy waters of Georgian Bay has worn away the softer rocks. Efforts have been made to strengthen these "flowerpots" in the past, by fortifying the base with more rock.

It's possible to take a ferry out to Flowerpot Island and spend the day on the hiking trails and explore the "flowerpots" on foot.... maybe we'll do that next time.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Big Canoe

The Chi-Cheemaun (it means Big Canoe in the Ojibwe language) ferries vehicles and people 25 miles (40km) across Lake Huron from Tobermory on the Bruce Peninsula to South Baymouth on Manitoulin Island.

At 365 feet (111 m) long with a 62 foot (19 m) beam and room for 648 passengers and 143 vehicles, it is definitely, without doubt, a Very Big Canoe indeed.

Saturday, 18 July 2009


In the late 1800s and early 1900s, Tobermory was a busy port for timber and fishing. The two deep sheltered harbours were a refuge during treacherous Lake Huron storms. There are more than 30 shipwrecks in the immediate area, ideal for exploration by divers.
I didn't do any diving, but we could see the outines of the two closest wrecks from the water.

The 36.3m Sweepstakes was a two masted centreboard schooner built in Burlington, Ontario, in 1867. In 1885 she ran aground near Cove Island Lighthouse. The crew were rescued by the lighthouse keeper. The following spring she was towed into Big Tub Harbour where her rigging, equipment and cargo of coal was salvaged before she sank.

A small portion of the stern deck has collapsed, but most of the hull, deck, centreboard, windlass and some of the railing is still intact.

City of Grand Rapids
The 37.3m propeller steamer City of Grand Rapids was built at Grand Haven, Michigan, in 1879. She carried general cargo and passengers to ports on Lake Huron and Georgian Bay. In 1907 she caught fire while berthed in Little Tub Harbour. To prevent the fire from spreading, she was towed out of the harbour until the tow line burned and the ship floated free.

The burning hulk drifted into Big Tub Harbour where she ran aground, burnt to the waterline and sank. The port side, the steam engine and the fire box are still visible.

The remains are preserved in such good condition by the cold water of Georgian Bay.

Thursday, 16 July 2009


Tobermory is a charming little town at the tip of the Bruce Peninsula, the strip of land separating Lake Huron from Georgian Bay. And that's where I've been chilling out for a couple of days..... believe me, it's gorgeous!

Tobermory's Little Tub Harbour is full of boats of every size and shape, and of course there are plenty of places to stay, places to eat, places to shop, and places to spend money, but in spite of being a bustling summer tourist town, it's well worth a visit.

The Bruce Trail starts here, and follows the Bruce Peninsula and the Niagara Escarpment all the way to Queenston, near Niagara Falls. If you hiked 30km and 8 hours a day, it would take 30 days to complete the 885 km of the Trail all the way. I walked just a little teeny tiny bit of it, around the harbour.

Little Tub Harbour is peaceful early in the morning. I sat on a bench sipping my coffee and enjoying the quiet before the business of the day got started.

Like good tourists, we took a tour boat ride out into Georgian Bay to see the shipwrecks and the islands.... more about that in a later post.

And we spent lots of time sitting in the sun with friends and family on the dock of this beautiful summer cottage, built among the trees on the shore of Big Tub Harbour.
A lovely way to spend a few summer days.

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Chim-chiminey, chim-chiminey....

Canadian winter is pretty hard on chimney brickwork, with the constant freeze/thaw cycle. Each spring, larger and larger bits of brick hit the ground so I decided it was time for some repairs. The fancy brickwork around the top looked nice but didn't help matters. It held the moisture and encouraged mould and lichen.

The two metal chimney liners are vents for gas fireplaces. The third chimney isn't used, but has a cap on it to keep animals out. A few years ago, a raccoon family used that chimney for access to their nice cosy nest behind my basement wall, but that's another story.
The brickie put up his scaffolding and removed ten courses of brick, and the rotten flues on the inside.

He couldn't match the brick colour exactly, but that's OK. How often do you look up and admire the chimney? Not often, unless like me you've just spent megabucks on getting it repaired.
New flues were installed and the detailed top has been replaced with a poured concrete cap.

Not so fancy, but much more practical, and I'm looking forward to a whole lot fewer shards of brick and crumbling mortar blocking the eavestroughs each spring.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Out with the Old....

.... and In with the New!

At last, an update on my kitchen renovations. I know the blogger world has been waiting for this news with bated breath. The decision to tear the kitchen apart was made back at the start of the year and it's finally happening. You can see the original kitchen here and here. Yukky, eh? 1969 Special.

YoungerSon's FIL Daddy Dave is doing the work for me, and he's fantastic! He came to the house armed with paper and pencil and tape measure, and lots of great kitchen ideas. Next thing I know he's ordered new cabinets and then I was off to the cabinet maker's to approve the design and choose a stain colour.

BTW, Martin the cabinet maker is a dead ringer for Kramer in Seinfeld! I couldn't stop staring at his hair.

The next stop is to choose cabinet handles... so many to choose from! If I only had the choice between 4 or 5 designs it would be so much easier! This is only one of the designs that I'm considering.

And then it was off to the granite showroom to choose a slab of granite for the counter top. I chose Tan Brown... it's got shades of black and gingery browns and a few sparkly bits, but no pic yet, wait till it's installed.

Daddy Dave and his buddy arrived last week hauling his huge work trailer, and within an hour or so the old cabinets, sink, plumbing and draft hood were in a pile on the driveway and the stove and dishwasher were out on the street for big garbage pickup.

The fridge is still in use but will be replaced. Meanwhile it sits in the middle of the room in everyone's way.

Installation of the new cabinets got started the same day. The cabinet doors were delivered all wrapped in plastic and are sitting in my dining room, along with most of the contents of my kitchen. I'm surviving with the aid of an electric kettle, microwave, toaster oven and BBQ, and washing dishes in the sink in the basement. Thank goodness it's summertime.

Dave made a template for the granite counter top and it's currently being cut to size. I'm keeping my fingers crossed and knocking on wood that it'll fit! You can only cut those things once.

And of course, I've had a lot of help from a certain 16 month old, who has been taking great delight in sitting inside the cupboard where the sink will eventually be going. I had to tape up the drain pipe, I was worried about what he was going to poke down there.

Currently, there's a big hole being knocked in the kitchen wall to accommodate a larger vent for the new wall mounted microwave/ draft hood.... but that's a story for another day.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Paper Wasp

Just one lone Paper Wasp was busily building this nest under the handrail on OlderSon's verandah. The nest is made out of wood fibre and was firmly anchored to the wood by a thin stem called a petiole.
Some of the cells already contained larvae, and there's one white grub visible, working hard to close the door on his cell, no doubt looking for some peace and quiet.

We had to knock the nest down, can't have a colony of wasps around with curious Callum close by, but the queen wasp angrily searched for her babies for a long time before giving up.

I sincerely hope she moves to a different neighbourhood to start her next family.

Thursday, 2 July 2009


A couple of weeks ago, a parcel arrived from Hopedale, Labrador. I was expecting it, and I opened it carefully with excited anticipation, as I knew the contents were delicate.

These were inside.

A pair of caribou, carved from aspen wood, and with tiny antlers cut from real caribou antler.

Brian of Nain Bay has three of these wonderful carvings, and when I saw them on his blog, I fell in love, I wanted one... or maybe two. They are exquisitely carved by Ross Flowers of Hopedale. Ross carves in the winter, and fishes and hunts during the short summer months. I spoke to Ross by phone, and he graciously carved these two beauties just for me!
Thank you, Ross!

About 5" long, and standing 3" high at the shoulder, the caribou are all slightly different. I am thrilled with them.

I wish I could afford a whole herd.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Happy Canada Day!

Red and white were designated Canada's official colours in 1921 by King George V.

Canada's red and white maple leaf flag was first raised over Parliament Hill in Ottawa on 15 February 1965.

Today, Canada celebrates it's 142nd birthday. A mere youngster compared to our older cousin to the south.
Happy Canada Day, everyone!