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Up and at 'em folks...
And a hearty good morning to all..and sundry. (You know who you are.)...
Thank you to all who have left comments..It is so very much appreciated.
As most of you are aware, I have taken a sabbatical to write a book.
The book is still a work in progress, but I have finally managed to approach the year 1800. Not bad at all I figure, given that I started in Beringia at the end of the last ice age. 10,000 years (give or take), is not a bad year's work.
At the moment, the book and everything else is on hold.
Last November, my youngest sister, (actually my baby as our mother developed metatastic breast cancer before she was aged 2), was diagnosed with stage 3 adenocarcinoma. As you can imagine, the past 4 months have been an emotional seesaw alternating between extreme hope and dark despair. She's a fighter, my kid, and we six sibs are in this all together. One for all and all for one. The way it has been our entire life.
Then my stepmother, (my Mom's first cousin), fell in January, broke her hip, and died after a 10 day hospitilization. Since she had never accepted that 6 children were part of the package she agreed to when she married my father, we have spent the past 3 months negotiating a separation, with the estate executor, of Mom and Dad's effects from hers.
Not, as you can no doubt imagine, an especially serene experience.
Today ends it with the return of Mom's and Dad's wee bits and bobs. Nothing of much monetary value, just things which were passed down through parents, grandparents and great grandparents. Postcards, letters, bibles, hymnals, as well as gifts to them from we children.
It is done.
The wonderful thing is that all my sibs, including my youngest sister will be arriving next week for a full 5 days, from points right across Canada, and staying here. We will all be together again once more under one roof.
We are taking this one small window of opportunity between the RAD/Chemo and Maggie's upcoming lung resection in May to all be united once more, and share lots of laughter, and I predict, not a few tears.
Such is the circle of life.
I haven't forgotten you, my friends, and I will return as soon as it is possible to do so.
At the moment everything is on hold as I spend hours on the phone and firing off/answering emails to my sister. I'm her life consultant at the moment, as I have spent the past 50 years specializing in acute and palliative health care.
I miss you one and all...
I will be back.
Tags: Family Death Renewal
Good afternoon all (and sundry);
It's been a while since the last Hillsdale update, so I thought I would fill everyone in.
It was a productive summer, more or less, depending on your point of view...
The grand count this year was 23 raccoons and 4 red squirrels handled by the Hillsdale Animal Relocation crew..all two of us.
As you are all no doubt aware, century homes are not critter proof, but I'm pleased to announce that uninvited squatters were kept to a minimum this year, only one mole and four field mice.
Hopefully the season for incursion has now ended until snow go.
I find now that we've entered the brown months, although to be quite honest, the brown month has been white here, my activity pattern has changed.
My mind is fully aware that I should be gearing up for Christmas, after all, the dust bunnies are multiplying rapidly and the cornices have been gaily festooned by a multitude of multi legged assistants, but the most apt description of the present situation is somnolence.
My internal metronome is out of whack.
I've lost the beat.
Indeed, as we fast approach the winter solstice, my body seems to be doing it's best to force hibernation.
If I had my druthers...
Rather than ursine behaviour patterns, I would far rather emulate those of the Robin...
I'd choose migration..
But, of course, beggars can't be choosers.
I know that winter is a time for renewal, a time for quiet contemplation, a time to recharge the batteries, but at the moment I just can't seem to find the plug.
Things should change when the snow flies.
Things did change when the snow flew. except, now it's raining again.
I figure it's the light intensity.
With snow on the ground, the nights are lighter and brighter
The days are filled with contrasting colours and life and action from our brightly coloured non-migratory birds, the Blue Jays, Cardinals, Chick-a-Dees, Nuthatches, Juncos and Woodpeckers, along with all the Finches.
Granted, with snow on the ground I become a prisoner in my own house, as shoes and boots are no longer an option for my feet..
But at least I can be creative; stimulated by the life outside my windows.
It all seems to flip the 'on' switch in the right direction.
To everything there is a season.
For the moment though..
If you'll all excuse me
I'm certain I heard my blankie calling me.
Catch you when the snow flies....
Good morning everyone....
I thought it was time for a Hillsdale update.
Now, as some of you are aware, Marcel has an extensive music collection.....
Today, on update and edit was Willie Nelson.
Love him (which I do) or hate him (you're entitled)....
Perhaps this is the strangest journey I've been on while listening to Willie in the background.
Granted, there were a few short forays into Hoagy Carmichael and Duke Ellington...(Stardust), but the main voyage took me a long way back and to far away places.
I suddenly found myself in Wapping, England in the year 1725 attending the birth of a boy named John.
The son of a commander of a merchant ship which sailed the Mediterranean, and a mother who died of tuberculosis when he was aged six, when John was eleven, he went to sea with his father and made six voyages with him before his father retired.
In 1744 John was impressed into service on a man-of-war, the H. M. S. Harwich, where finding conditions on board intolerable, he deserted but was soon recaptured, publicly flogged and demoted from midshipman to common seaman.
Eventually, at his own request he was exchanged into service on a slave ship, which took him to the coast of Sierra Leone.
He there became the servant of a slave trader and was brutally abused. Early in 1748 he was rescued by a sea captain who had known his father and ultimately became captain of his own ship, one which also plied the slave trade.
A cross-grained man given to disobedience, drinking, gambling and profanity, during a storm at sea while homeward bound in 1748, John experienced a spiritual conversion.
Ordered to give up the sea after having suffered a stroke he became tide surveyor (tax collector) in Liverpool while studying Greek, Hebrew and Syriac with the intention of becoming a minister.
It took him seven years to achieve that goal.
An evangelical Anglican minister, by 1790, John's advice was being sought by churchmen, writers, and philanthropists of the day.
At about this time he became a friend and associate of one William Wilberforce, a young member of parliament from Yorkshire.
In 1788, 34 years after he had retired from the slave trade, John broke a long silence on the subject with the publication of a forceful pamphlet "Thoughts Upon the Slave Trade", in which he described the horrific conditions of the slave ships during the Middle Passage, and apologized for "a confession, which ... comes too late ... It will always be a subject of humiliating reflection to me, that I was once an active instrument in a business at which my heart now shudders." A copy of the pamphlet was sent to every MP, and sold so well that it swiftly required reprinting.
John became an ally of his friend William Wilberforce, leader of the Parliamentary campaign to abolish the slave trade. He lived to see the passage of the Slave Trade Act 1807.
The John referred to was John Newton.
He also wrote, and had published in 1779.....
Amazing grace! (how sweet the sound)
That sav’d a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.
’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears reliev’d;
How precious did that grace appear,
The hour I first believ’d!
Thro’ many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come;
’Tis grace has brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.
The Lord has promis’d good to me,
His word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.
Yes, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease;
I shall possess, within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.
The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
The sun forbear to shine;
But God, who call’d me here below,
Will be forever mine.
John Newton lived to see the passage of the England's 'Slave Trade Act 1807'.
William Wilberforce died just three days after hearing that the 'Slavery Abolition Act 1833' was assured passage through parliament. He is buried in Westminster Abbey.
Although Britain had passed the Slavery Abolition Act in 1833, the Atlantic slave trade continued.
In 1840, in an effort to control this, Britain established a naval base on St. Helena in the South Atlantic to patrol the slave routes. St Helena was the landing place for many of the slaves captured by the navy during the suppression of the trade between 1840 and 1872. Between 1840 and 1872, over fifteen thousand freed slaves known as 'Liberated Africans' were landed there.
From: The St Helena Independent Volume VII, Issue 17, Friday 9th March 2012 - pg. 35
British archaeologists have unearthed a slave burial ground containing an estimated 5,000 bodies on a remote South Atlantic island. The corpses were found on tiny St Helena, 1,000 miles off the coast of south-west Africa.
Those who died were slaves taken from slave traders by the Royal Navy in the 1800s. Many of the captives died after being kept on British ships in appalling conditions or in refugee camps when they reached the island.
The dig, held in advance of the construction of a new airport on the island, revealed the horrors of the Atlantic slave trade. The Middle Passage was the name of the route taken by ships transporting slaves from Africa to the new world.
It was the second leg of a triangular journey undertaken by European ships. The first leg would involve them taking manufactured goods to Africa, which they would trade for slaves. After the Africans were delivered to the US, the ships would take raw materials back to Europe.
Experts from Bristol University led the dig. One of them, Prof Mark Horton, said: “Here we have the victims of the Middle Passage – one of the greatest crimes against humanity – not just as numbers, but as human beings.
"These remains are certainly some of the most moving that I have ever seen in my archaeological career.”
In 1858 another young Yorkshire man, Thomas Esterby Hutchinson traveled to St. Helena in service with HM 66th Regiment. There he married a young woman, Elizabeth Martha Ellis, born St. Helena, and also probably of Yorkshire descent.
Of their ten children, five were born on St. Helena, two were born in London on their return from St. Helena, and three were born after their immigration to Canada. The youngest of those was my grandfather.
Now, as I end this epistle, Willie is still singing in the background....
His cover of Simon and Garfunkle's
'Bridge Over Troubled Water'.
Tags: Willie Nelson Slavery Abolition Immigration
Good morning sibs, cuzzes, pals et al....
I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried.
As vivid as my immagination is..even it will not stretch quite this far.
First the background:
Hillsdale is a rural village of under a thousand souls half way between Midland and Barrie Ontario (N/S) and also half way between Orillia and Wasaga Beach Ontario(E/W).
While we have new subdivision built within the past 5 years, most of the town dates to Victoriana circa 1880, with some of the architecture dating to Confederation (1867)
We are surrounded by a reforested area of second and third growth trees, on the base of a peninsula which juts out into Georgian Bay.
We are on the migratory path for birds, a summer nesting area, and the local large wildlife includes bears, raccoons, groundhogs, lynx, coyotes, wolves, deer and moose.
This not even mentioning the small critters.
I have a cat!
Some of you know her as Tabbitha Twitchitt, and others know her intimately as BizzyBits.
Tabbie and one of our local wild denizens have an ongoing relationship...
Actually it's an ongoing war!
The sunroom on this house has been under assault lately by bandits, and is at the moment no longer 'critter proof' which has led to the recent spate of stories about raccoons and bumblers inviting themselves in to join us at the hearth.
To add insult to injury, red squirrels have chewed a hole through the frame of the north door, with one exit in the door itself and one in the baseboard.
The squirrels have long since been relocated and no longer pose a threat, but......
Between the squirrels and the raccoons..fortress Hillsdale has been under siege.
Now..The sunroom is not normally used except in the summer time.
The door into the house is usually closed.
In the summer it is my habit to work at the computer with the door open so I can observe the world around me.
BizzyBits, an inside cat, takes this opportunity to sit out in the porch on an upholstered wicker armchair, mistress of all she surveys.
For the past 2 years a rather bold and brassy little chipmunk has been teasing the heck out of her.
Chippy will stick his head in through the squirrel hole and 'chut' at her and when she runs over will deke back out again.
If the porch door isn't open..Chippy will go to the back window and sit on the honeysuckle bush and call for her.
If BizzyBits isn't in the porch he will come to the threshold of the den look in and 'chut' for her until she comes to chase him.
As soon as BizzyBits runs to the sun room..Chippie will disappear out the squirrel hole and reappear in my KITCHEN through a second squirrel route.
Did I mention that this house was built in 1884?
Definitely not critter proof.
As soon as BizzyBits runs to the kitchen....
Chippy disappears and reappears at the north end of sun room...
And so it goes..day after day after day.
Chippy was a bit slow!
BizzyBits came barreling in through the inner door, into the den, with Chippy in her mouth and headed straight up the back stairs to the second story...
Marcel ran up the backstairs..
I ran up the front stairs as the back stairs are now too steep and....
We found Chippy and BizzyBits playing tag in OUR bedroom.
Chippy got loose..
Chippy was under the dry sink...
Marcel moved the dry sink...
Chippy ran behind the oak curved-top trunk....
(Did I mention that all the furniture is circa 1820 or older and heavy as iron?)
BizzyBits ran behind the trunk
Chippy ran under the dry sink..
Marcel moved the dry sink...
Chippy ran under the bed...
BizzyBits ran under the bed (four poster circa 1810)..
Chippy ran under the dresser...
BizzyBits headed for the dresser..
Chippy ran out the door and down the stairs
BizzyBits raced down the stairs...
By the time we got back downstairs...
Chippy was gone and BizzyBits was lying down...waiting for the next round no doubt.
Less than twenty minutes later....
Chippy is in the porch 'chutting' for BizzyBits to come and play.
Now I ask you......
Is the sun over the yardarm yet?
Please say yes.
Good morning sibs, cuzzes, pals et al....
As some, if not all of you are no doubt aware, I have been engrossed in the write/re-write of a history of my family and therefore mainly missing in action for the past year.
I find it conducive to the work at hand to avoid any and all distractions.
This is, of course, because I am so very easily distracted.
Unfortunately, I have one of those minds which prefers to chase elusive butterflies in preference to applying itself to the current task in progress.
You all know that Hillsdale is bit of a zoo
And you all know that I'm a live an let live kinda gal.
You all know that I've recently been involved in a catch and live release program..
But what you didn't know is....
Not only does the program relate to raccoons...
I also catch and live release Bumblebees.
Most of you across this planet are aware of the incidence of 'hive collapse' and the threat of decreased pollination of our food crops.
What you may not have known is that Bumblebees are also pollinators.
So what you may ask does this have to do with the price of tea in china?
The Bumblebees are back.
For the first time in five years we have a plethora of Bumblebees droning around the gardens.
Big as B52s they are.
Now albeit I'm as happy as a lark to see them, it has unfortunately become apparent, that like the raccoons, they seem to have concluded that indoor living is preferable to camping out.
I first became aware of this situation about three weeks ago when an earth shattering shriek emanated from the kitchen.
Marcel, had gone barefooted to the kitchen to place the dinner dishes in the dishwasher, and had stepped on a Bumblebee.
The victim was, alas, beyond all resuscitative hope, and by that I mean, of course the bee, not Marcel.
Since the initial contact, there have been, to date, six live captures and releases from the house.
It's amazing what you can do with a juice glass and a stiff piece of thin cardboard.
And they didn't even thank me.
All of which in a roundabout way brings me to the butterflies, because now 'I have a bee in my bonnet'.
But perhaps I should take heed because 'When you go in search of honey you must expect to be stung by bees.'
And while 'If a bee stings you once, it's the bee's fault; if a bee stings you twice, it's your own damn fault'.
So although goofing off is definitely the 'bees knees' it is also a fact of life that while 'the bee who makes the honey doesn't stand around the hive, the (wo)man who makes the money has to worry work and strive'.
I'm retired, but well....
You get the picture.
Tags: Distractions Bumblebees Elusive Butterflies
Morning sibs, steps, cuzzes, pals et al......
Being totally knackered, with legs swollen the size of oak tree trunks.....
I headed upstairs and.....
Crawled into bed leaving Marcel down here with his music playing..engrossed in the book he was reading...
Not five minutes later I heard a noise...
I thought it was BizzyBits trying to open the doors on the dry sink...
Every once in a while she takes it into her head to go in there and nest...
I sleepily told her to stop but the noise continued..
Turned on the light and the cat was on the end of the bed..
Turned off the light and went to the window...
The patio is right beneath the two north windows in the bedroom and the live animal trap had been placed atop the patio wall weighted down with a step ladder...
It was a clear moonlit night...
And what to my wondering eyes did appear, but....
A huge raccoon inside the patio wall, and...
What looked like another one in the trap...
I went to the top of the stairs and told Marcel we caught one and returned to the window to watch...
Marcel clanged out the patio door at which point the Giantess slowly and with great deliberation, waddled up and over the patio wall and disappeared out of line of sight among the spruce windbreak..
Marcel approached the trap and ....
His voice rose... almost to a shriek!
'We've got THREE of them!'
The tone of his voice was so funny I nearly fell out the second story window I was laughing so hard....
He grabbed the trap full of the trio of miscreants and headed for the car.....
And wasn't even to the driveway before the Giantess came back to check for food.
Marcel drove off with the trio in the back of the wagon...
I went downstairs to wait for him.
Twenty minutes later Marcel returns...
Sets up the trap again...
And doesn't even make it back to the den before the Giantess is back at the trap.
She is so huge and with such long arms that she can fish the bait out of the bowl without setting off the gate trip.
Bold as brass.....not at all wary of us!
She's the one who keeps prying open the sunroom door.
When he went out before finally retiring to bang home the door...
He met her on the patio right outside the door..break and enter being the obvious intent.
We baited the trap three more times last night...
The trap is still set this morning, and...
The bait bowl is once again empty.
Time for a change in tactics!
Tonight the bait will be.....
Not nice big chunks of meat in a bowl but.....
Let's see if she can fish those out without tripping the gate.
If that doesn't work?
I'll wire a bone to the far end of the cage.
I would imagine given her total lack of caution, that she is the one that was being fed by the lady across the highway all last summer.
Once caught she will be going for a very long ride.
Just further confirmation of my long held belief that wild animals should not be fed by humans...
Learned behaviour patterns and a dependency on humans is not conducive to their ultimate long term survival.
The four of them were lucky.
While Marcel was taking the kits for their roadtrip..a gun went off about 2 blocks away in the north subdivision.
One of their pals didn't endure so kind a fate.
The count to date???
Three with one bait last night..
Two the night before..
Two single episodes in the previous week.
We need SLEEP!
But for now?
Coffee and the news!
That's all she wrote.
Tags: Wildlife Raccoons
There's a place where I am wont to stray
Which is both near yet far away;
A place where myriad dreams are spun
Most often with the setting sun.
A place where time and tide stand still
Where I may go when I so will;
A place, which barriers cannot abide
And from whence I travel far and wide.
Scales fall away and I can see
What was, what is, and what shall be.
Perception sharpened I can feel
Of life the beat, and see the wheel.
The past and present are as one;
Obstacles to travel, there are none.
Come join me now if you so choose
Really you have naught to lose
But sorrow, care and woes and pain;
Nothing to lose so much to gain.
Here from my chalice; take a sip
And join me now aboard my ship.
We'll sail; we'll ride the wind; we'll fly;
We'll listen to night's lullaby.
When at long last we reach the dawn;
We'll find that all our cares are gone.
May 14, 2011
Tags: Fantasy Dreams
Let us sit on the rocks by the edge of the strand;
Let us watch as the waves lap the soft golden sand.
Let us hear the low bell as it tolls on the sea;
Let us know that our favourite time will soon be.
Let us watch as the sun slowly sinks in the west;
Let us now of the cares of the day be divest.
Let us hear high above the shrill cry of the gull;
And the beat as the waves slap against an old hull.
Let us slip through the door from the brightness of day;
Let us into the pastels of dreamland now stray.
Let us now give imagination full reign;
Let us wind up old plotlines as wool in a skein.
Let wild characters dance, and wage war, and cavort;
Let us visit each island and every high court.
Let adventure, the cares of the day full appease;
Let us wake in the morning having found ease.
May 9, 2011
Tags: Poetry Dreams
Posted On 04/26/2011 17:02:26
The day is dull and dark and grey;
Warmth, Sun and Spring have gone astray.
My mood is humdrum, lowering, dull;
Thoughts thudding heavy in my skull.
The doom and gloom I must appease
And somehow, somewhere find some ease.
With that in mind I grab a book
And hie me to my favourite nook.
A blanket warm, a pot of tea
And in no time flat I soon will be
Upon a hazy, wavy, sea
Where naught is what it seems to be.
And through the murk I'll find the gleam
That leads to the never ending dream
Where all before me is unfurled
And I circumnavigate the world.
All that was hidden, becomes now clear
Boundaries and timelines disappear
From every book that once was writ
I'll take a plot, a line, a bit
Into my dream I'll fold the lot
And thus my own dream shall be wrought.
'Tis not so much you all may say
But it helps to wile away the day.
April 26, 2011
Tags: Rainy Day Spring Books Reading