Birding Season Soon!

Though they stay through the winter we don’t regularly see this bird at our feeder, but he was there today. I spooked him when approaching the patio door to the back yard. He returned later to our maple tree, where he was when I took these through our dining room bay window “hiding” behind our 46-year-old, oft-pruned lemon “tree,” grown from seed in 1972 as a fun thing to show our first two children.

The above were taken with my Sony A-6000 and its (55-210 mm) lens fully zoomed using medium speed continuous shooting at 1/1250 s and f/13. Never could have done that in the really old days with Kodachrome-25 film!!

A great way to get motivated to look for the first kinglets and warblers – later this month…


Appreciating a Child, and her Eye

A simple thing is often missed.

Look at this photo for a little while…

This is our unspectacular, slightly wonky, 33 year old chandelier, an upgrade done by the previous owners of our place. They bought the house, new in 1984, and sold to us in 1985 for a handsome profit. We chose this place because it backs onto a narrow, forested park through which a gentle stream flows and warblers, hummingbirds and Monarch (what’s left of them) butterflies migrate every spring and fall. The central staircase made us go oohh, ahhh when our agent and friend took us through. Sold!

Anyway, this is about stuff we 70 somethings learn to take for granted until a grandchild shows us how she observes her much newer world.

This past Christmas our M, just turned 4, a frequent visitor all the way from Ann Arbor, Michigan said:

Papa, one of the lights in your chandelier is not on. 

Did you notice it? It’s obvious now, isn’t it?

She and her mom stayed from December 23rd until January 7th. They love to visit. We love to have them.

It is now March whatever and Papa has still not replaced the bulb. There is no excuse for this neglect. I have spares in the unfinished section of the basement, hanging in a plastic shopping bag on a simple nail beside my wooden, homemade workbench.

Think I’ll go and change it now… before their next visit…

You Asked “Why Can’t We All Go Home?”

In presenting Vladímir Putin’s 21st Century equivalent to Khruschev’s “We will bury you.” the CBC last night failed to read Putin’s macho but desperate attempt to show the whole world that no one, not even the US, can come out of  a nuclear war unscathed.

Our CBC only approximated fairness last night. Still the same, implied, refrain meant to be innately picked up by couch potato feelers:

“See? Putin is, as we said, ruthlessly scary etc.” A deliberate misread, in my opinion.

The real NATO threat that has forced Russia’s hand: America’s broken promise not to expand NATO Eastward beyond Germany, made to Eduard Shevardnadze by James Baker in 1990 and illustrated by this brilliantly sarcastic image:


The answer to a friend’s worthwhile tweet question “Can’t we all just go home and respect others’ need for security?” is, I believe, in Simon and Garfunkel’s “people talking w/o speaking” (the weaponized mainstream media) and, since 2001, largely for profit FBI and CIA: the “Neon god they made.”

Disturbed’s inspired, intensely visual, version of Simon and Garfunkel’s amazingly prescient (so clearly now) The Sound of Silence

And the original by Simon and Garfunkel… with high praise for their poetic insight.

Our Detailed Camino Itinerary – April and May, 2013

February 24, 2018

This time in 2013 Anita and I were doing a lot of hiking to prepare ourselves for our Camino Santiago hike across Northern Spain: our favourite trip of all time.

I know many of you are preparing for your own pilgrimage. I am therefore re-posting our own experience. You will find much detailed information and lovely photos of our own experience plus places to stay along the route and iconic things to see and stories.

Sincerely hope that this helps!

Our Camino Frances with more info:

Passport Page 1
Passport Page 1
Passport Page 2
Passport Page 2
Our Eclectic Camino Map
Our Eclectic Camino Map

Mon Apr 22, 2013: In transit from Toronto to Paris

Tue Apr 23: In transit from Paris to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port

The plan:CDG to Paris Gare du Nord every 5 to 7 minutes; takes ~25 min; TGV 8537 dep Paris Montparnasse 12h27 arr Bayonne 17h32; TER 67331 dep Bayonne 18:07 arr  Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port 19:33 Note: We missed our train from Montparnasse by buying the wrong ticket from the airport. Human help is sadly absent or too far away in Paris stations and we let a local buy our tickets for us. Our ticket didn’t let us on the subway at Montparnasse – the right one should have. For these tricky situations take the time to find an information kiosk. Don’t panic. We caught a later train to Bayonne (more money) and took a taxi from there to SJPdP for € 110!!

Stayed at Hotel Itzalpea 5 Place du Trinquet,  SJPdP Tel 33559370366 (€78/nt)

Wed Ap 24:  SJPdP

Got our Carnets de Pèlerin (Passports), bought hiking poles at La Boutique du Pèlerin, walked around St. Jean to check the way out of town, ate a lunch by the river, walked up above the town to the citadelle and ate dinner for the second time at Chez Dédé. Yum.

Thu Ap 25:  Begin Camino: Walk 8 km from Saint-Jean to Orisson

Stay at Private Refugio Orisson – Half Board 32 € (yes, that’s thirty-two monopolistic euros per person)  Tel: 34681497956

Fri Apr 26: Walk 17.1 km from Orisson to Roncesvalles

Stay at Hotel Roncesvalles,  Mayor, Roncesvalles Tel Cost: 70 € using Arrived at 17:30 after a cold, wet 10 hour hike from Orisson. Borrowed rice to save my camera and we washed and dried our very muddy boots and rain pants in the lovely suite’s huge shower area. Ate our pilgrim meal at the hotel.

Sat Apr 27: Visit Roncesvalles; Taxi to Pamplona

Roncesvalles: Visited the Real Collegiata de Santa María (see above photos), Capilla de Sancti Spiritus, Capilla de Santiago, Battle of Roncesvalles Monument, the Silo of Charlemagne and the Museo.Ate lunch at nearby Casa Sabina, whose chef is also responsible for the kitchen at H. Roncesvalles.

Taxied (€55) to Pamplona, skipping one stage – Zubiri.
Book Early the Hostal Navarra Nr bus stn Db-€60 Calle Tudela 9, tel 948-225-164 There was no room when we called the day before. We stayed at Pension Arrieta (€ 40)  34-948-228-459, which has two nearby locations. The wifi is in the building with no elevator. Felt like we were disturbing the family whenever we went back there to ask questions or use the Internet, but they were nice and polite.We visited the cathedral: Choir contains “Mary of the Adopted Child; Mary is original but child is not; Tomb of Chas III in nave ooh aah.Ate supper at the Bar La Granja for € 33. A local bride-to-be, dressed in toilet paper and accompanied by friends, was one of the customers.

Continue reading “Our Detailed Camino Itinerary – April and May, 2013”

Our CBC: A Weapon of Mass Delusion

To The National,
If I needed proof that The National are pure and simple toeing the anti-Assad, anti-Russia line – I certainly got it last night. The White Helmets Acting Company put on their slick multi-million dollar show once more, getting prime coverage in the phoney (since 2013) “WMD-use” assault on Assad.
The CBC presented or ignored other issues in this segment designed to minimize awareness of the deadly, horrific interference committed during the continued, uninvited American presence in Syria.  We all know the consistent history of US-led criminal wars upon many other worldwide regime-change binge targets.
But to my point: I am now convinced in the insincerity  of virtually all CBC TV hosts. There have to be some doubters among you. Most of you are much too smart not to realize what is going on. So isn’t it about time for some resistance from at least some of you who are caving in or playing along with the relentless distraction and dumbing down (yes, you too, Carole MacNeil) of TV viewers to the point that they swallow or obsequiously read/hear what you and all of the international “quality” media are dishing out via the long-familiar, must be tired and jaded, faces on RussiaGate, Syria, Yemen, Palestine, Iraq etc.
This sort of stuff is so bad it has probably been responsible for breaking up some homes, where one partner retches loudly while the other simply keeps swallowing.
I remember as a pre-teen in the early 1950’s thinking that Russians were sub-human. Working in Britain in the early 1970’s I learned how much contempt the Brits once had for refugees from Eastern Europe. Do we want to go back to that? Seriously?
Perhaps your justification for weaponizing the news comes from a “patriotic” feeling that couch potatoes should be primed with propaganda as preparation for WWIII.
As a grandparent in these times, I can only shudder.

Ursula Le Guin

Ursula Le Guin, a brilliant author of science fiction and what I might call exploratory, inspirationally prescriptive fantasy for every age died on January 22nd. As an author, she was committed to finding new ways in which we humans might make a better, healthier society. I know that I read some of her early books, borrowed from the library, aloud to my four children in the early eighties: probably some of the Catwings series, suitable for ages “4 to 8,” and this title, The Tombs of Atuan, from her Wizard of Earthsea  series chimes a distant bell in my vague memory of those times.

A couple of CBC podcasts paid tribute to her in January, and I was excited (in listening to an address she gave at the National Book Awards in 2014 featured on The Sunday Edition on January 28th) to learn Le Guin’s deep commitment to righting the wrongs of present day society.

Here are excerpts from her talk:

Hard times are coming when we will be wanting the voices of writers who can see alternatives to how we live now and who can see through our fear-stricken society and its obsessive technologies to other ways of being…

Developing written material to suit (publishers’) sales strategies in order to maximize corporate profits and advertising revenue is not quite the same thing as responsible book publishing and authorship…

We live in capitalism; its power seems inescapable. So did the Divine Right of Kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings… and very often in our art: the art of words.

(At the end of my career) I don’t want to watch American literature get sold down the river.

… the name for our beautiful reward is not profit; its name is Freedom!

In 1993 Le Guin was interviewed by the superb Eleanor Wachtel  on the CBC program, Writers and Company. Wachtel is perhaps the best literary interviewer on the planet.

Tai Chi, Tonglen and Mr. Fixit

Things are good here. Just sharing a few tidbits from the past week…

My son had minor surgery this week and on Thursday we brought over about 20 lbs of Trini-style homemade soup at 212 degrees Fahrenheit for a shared lunch – plus significant leftovers. My contribution to that project was making sure it was safely transported from our perch in the NW GTA to their place near the lakeshore.

Good news: Fixed our 2007 Toyota Camry Hybrid’s key fob issue by inserting a tiny square of three postit notes over the nipple that presses against the +ve face of the cell to make sure that it is firmly seated in its cradle.

“Bad” news: That $200 control panel I installed last year on our, then 3-year-old, Kenmore dishwasher already shows a crack in the plastic over the Start button.

I know, in the grand, global scale, the bad news hardly qualifies as bad, or even as news! Now, if we both had worked for Sears Canada…

My Tai Chi routine, which I modify by replacing “breathing in the Chi” with Tibetan Buddhist Tonglen meditation (breathing in suffering, breathing out healing) has a calming effect. I’ve already noticed a tiny, but significant, shift in the direction of a more, gentle peaceful world. Those Doomsday Clock scientists are clearly out of touch. 😜