Thursday, December 28, 2006

My Irish side of the family

I was looking at some old photos of mine, and decided to post some on my blog for your amusement. My Dad's side of the family is Irish, although my father grew up in Cricklewood, London during WW2, in something of an Irish ghetto.

I really like knitting but have been lax about posting any pictures of projects lately. In lieu of that, I bring to you my Dad's cousin Eileen, sometime in the 1940's I believe:

She held her needles the way I was taught to by my English mother!

Here is my Dad's brother Gerry (left), working at a grocery store in Child's Hill, London. I suspect this was taken sometime near 1950:

This is my great-grandfather Knox, my paternal grandmother's father. No idea when this was taken... perhaps 1910 or 1920?

This is my Dad (far right) and his brother John (left) and some siblings and hangers-on in Cricklewood, sometime during WW2. My Dad was born in 1930. Like good Catholics, my grandparents had six (surviving) kids. My Nanny (my paternal grandmother) was one of 14, as I recall!

This is my Nanny, my two aunts, my uncle Kevin, and some guy I don't know (far left) in front of the family cottage at Tobernabrone in Ireland. My Dad told me that during the war, they would sometimes go there to get away from all the bombing in London. I call it the family hovel. It still stands and my Uncle Kevin, (I'm pretty sure he's the short kid in front) still goes to visit it.

This is my Nanny with my Dad and his two sisters, Bernadette and Anne. I think it was probably taken around 1940, maybe a bit later?

Another shot of the family hovel in Tobernabrone. I intend to go there someday.

My paternal grandfather proudly displaying his firstborn, my Uncle John. This would be 1928 or 1929, I believe.

And that's your excitement for today. I thought you knitters might especially appreciate the first photo!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Fer cryin' out loud...

I can safely say that no one has ever called me BEEFY!!!

You Are Mince Pie

Admit it, this isn't the first time that someone has called you "beefy"

M E R R Y C H R I S T M A S !!

The small and very overloaded Christmas tree!

Merry Christmas and happy holidays to all of you from all of us. Whatever you celebrate, we hope 2007 is a happy, peaceful year for you.

Knatolee and Gordon

A beautiful cat

This past Monday, we had to put our our kitty Mashka to sleep. She was at least 15-1/2 years old, maybe more, and was diagnosed with kidney failure back in September. It was definitely time to let her go. A year ago she weighed 11 lbs. This week she weighed just under six, and her weight loss had been extremely rapid.

Mashka on her last day. Tired and thin, but still beautiful.

Gordon picked Mashka out at the Toronto Humane Society back on January 13, 1995. He wanted a grey cat and he was so picky about choosing one that I finally got exasperated and sent him off to the shelter on his own. He spent SIX HOURS there before settling on Mashka. He decided that because she was the only cat not sleeping in her litter box, she had to be smart, and he was right.

Gordon snacking, reading, and spending some quality time with his special grey girl on Monday. You can see how thin she had become.

Mashka was named "Ashley" and had been surrendered allegedly because of children's allergies. But she acted like a cat who had been mistreated. She was very, very shy and nervous. She basically spent her first year with us on the futon in our spare bedroom. But then she began to flower. Over the years, she really came out of her shell. She always knew she was Queen of the Household, and she could be cranky at times, but she was also beautiful and smart and affectionate, and full of personality.

People laughed at her meow, which sounded more like quacking. She certainly had quite an impressive vocal range, and she wasn't shy about asking for what she wanted.

It took her almost two years to decide that she should sleep on our bed with us each night. Once she got on, she never got off! :) The bed became her royal domain, the throne from which she ruled us and our pets over the past eleven years: two dogs and two other cats.

She wasn't eating at the end, but she still found the energy to investigate a container of catnip sent to us by a friend! She enjoyed a little bit and then had another nap. A junkie until the very end.

Mashka and I had a nightly routine over the past year or so, wherein she would snuggle right up against my left side after I got into bed. The heavy purring would begin as I gave her the chin scritchies and cuddles she was asking for. It was a very sweet way to end my day, and I miss it intensely now.

She loved Gordon too, and lately had been spending a lot of time on his lap. Here she is with G last April, looking fatter and very content.

Nothing beats a warm body as a resting spot, especially when it's the tummy of the guy who loves you most in the world.

I could go on for hours about this cat, about how much she meant to us and what a hole has been left in our lives with her passing. I think only people with pets can understand how a companion animal wraps its paws around you and worms its way into your heart. Suffice to say, Mashka was one special feline. She had a good long life, then her kidneys gave out and we did what we had to do for her. I think we both hoped Mashka might live forever, which of course no one does, and there was a certain element of surprise when we realized she was truly gone for good. But she will always live on in the love we have for her, and we'll never forget the joy she gave us while she was here on this earth. She is sadly missed. Cats are wonderful. Give one a home today, maybe a shelter-kitty like Mashka. You will be rewarded a thousand times over.

Our best blue kitty girl, managing a little smile for me on her last day with us.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Flamin' truck

Does our neighbour across the water not have a very cool dump truck?

If I had a dump truck, I would want it to look JUST like this!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Turkeys, turkeys everywhere...

..and not a drop of gravy in sight! Yes, I was visited by TEN wild turkeys yesterday. ("Dindons sauvages" for the French amongst you.) Ten! They hung around for half an hour, then moseyed on down the driveway and into the bush. But I really enjoyed their visit. Lacking commentary, I present to you photos:

(Shot through our bedroom window, hence the screen)

I also saw a pileated woodpecker (the "Woody Woodpecker" kind) on my walk this week. I'm on a roll for birding.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Melrose was robbed

My secret shame is that I love watching America's Next Top Model (well, that's one of my secret shames!)

All I have to say about last night's finale is that MELROSE WAS ROBBED!


Wednesday, December 06, 2006

A list

Stole this from Dephal!

1. Yourself: tired
2. Your boyfriend/girlfriend: married
3. Your hair: short
4. Your mother: pretty
5. Your Father: loving
6. Your Favorite Item: ring
7. Your dream last night: aliens
8. Your Favorite drink: tea
9. Your Dream Car: convertible
10. The room you are in: office
11. Your Ex: wanker
12. Your fear: abandonment
13. What you want to be in 10 years: published
14. Who you hung out with last night? Husband
15. What You're Not? intimidating
16. Muffins: apple
17: One of Your Wish List Items: books
18: Time: pressure
19. The Last Thing You Did: sat
20. What You Are Wearing: clothes
21. Your Favorite Weather: autumn
22. Your Favorite Book: hmmm...
23. The Last Thing You Ate: French fries
24. Your Life: good
25. Your Mood: anxious
26. Your best friend (s): Hubby
27. What are you thinking about right now? headache
28. Your car: sturdy
29. What are you doing at the moment? thinking
30. Your summer: lame
31. Your relationship status: solid
32. What is on your tv? nothing
33. What is the weather like?snowing
34. When is the last time you laughed? today

Monday, December 04, 2006

Parenting tips

My glamourous mother, pre-motherhood in London, Ontario, 1961

Me (left) and my friend Judy Macdonald, Toronto, Ontario c. 1971. NICE statue, Mum and Dad!

The CBC afternoon radio show recently had a thing where they were collecting so-called "Parenting Tips", i.e. things your parents told you to get you to behave as a child. Here's my collection.

My mother always told me that if I crossed my eyes, they would stay that way. I believed her until I was old enough to know better (age 25) and I still feel pangs of guilt when I cross them! However, her admonition worked. I rarely crossed my eyes at anybody until I grew up and realized she had been LYING to me!

Along these lines, Mum also told me that if I made a face by pulling the corners of my mouth back with my fingers, it would stay that way. Again, I believed her. Hard to believe I was a straight-A student in school, eh? (i.e. one of the "smart" ones!)

I was a very hungry child (I think I have always had a speedy metabolism). Whenever I complained of hunger, my dear mother would ask me if I had worms. I had a fear of worms in my stomach until I was a teenager. I seriously believed a gigantic tapeworm was devouring all my meals for me. This technique of my mother's did NOT work as a deterrent, however, as I continued to ask for food when hungry. It never occurred to me to ask her why she didn't give me medication to kill off these worms.

When I didn't finish a meal (rare), Mum also enjoyed alerting me to the fact that my eyes were bigger than my belly. I spent a lot of time wondering just how tiny my stomach was if two eyeballs were bigger than it. Otoh, I have pretty large eyes. Even my opthamologist says so.

Mum loved to tell me that if I cracked my knuckles, I would get arthritis. I am now 42 and still cringe if I even ACCIDENTALLY crack my knuckles. God forbid I should invite arthritis into my joints!

Somewhere along the way, my mother the quasi-observant Catholic told me that every time I sinned, my golden soul would turn a little more black. If my entire soul turned black, well, HELLO HELL! Satan is my master! This worked reasonably well as a technique for keeping me in line. I strove to prevent my last patch of untouched soul from darkening forever. However, I am now a completely lapsed Catholic with no religion whatsoever and I am certain my entire soul is blacker than tar and beyond any sort of redemption. Sorry, Mum! But I still believe in God, if that helps.

My mother told me that if I shaved my legs and armpits, the hair would grow back four times as thick. I was terrified to shave my legs, but eventually embarrassment outweighed fear. At age 13, I went to the drugstore and secretly bought a razor. I never did tell my Mum that I had started shaving my legs and pits! I wonder if she noticed?

Mum warned me that if I swallowed a cherry pit, it would stay in my stomach forever. Ditto for chewing gum. If I ate a peach pit, a tree would grow in my stomach. I'm surprised I can still swallow anything (shut up Gordon)! And I got in real trouble any time I blew bubbles in my drink with a straw. Nowadays I do it just because I can.

(KIDS! Don't read this part!) My mother did manage to keep me believing in Santa Claus until I was almost 12. The day she told me that Santa wasn't real, I was quite shocked, and I had to ask... "What about the Easter Bunny, then?" Out came the brutal truth, and I quickly realized that the Tooth Fairy was also a fantasy. Bummer, man.

Mum died nine years ago, but her dubious wisdom will be with me forever. My tarnished soul and I miss her greatly. Excuse me, I have to go crack my knuckles now.

Friday, December 01, 2006

We need a woman in charge!

(Disclaimer: Don't read this if you're a fan of Stephen "I have a rod up my ass and it's feeling good" Harper and the Conservative Party of Canada.)

Okay, I have a gripe. This weekend, the Liberal Party of Canada (one of our main political parties) is having a leadership convention to elect, obviously, a new leader. Now, I won't be voting Liberal in the next election, and I sure as hell won't be voting Conservative, but I would definitely prefer the Liberals to the current moronic government, aka CRAP: the Conservative Reform Alliance Party. At least, they called themselves that until they realized what the acronym spelled out! Now they're just Conservatives. They dropped the "Progressive" that used to preceed "Conservatives", and the reasons are patently obvious! I can't foresee any of the other parties knocking off Prime Minister Wetlips at the moment, so I'm rootin' for a good Liberal leader to topple that Turd.

What is mightily pissing me off is that amongst the eight candidates for leadership, there is but ONE woman (whose platform I quite like, btw.) ONE: Martha Hall Findlay, who is white but neither old nor ugly. And Martha is at the very bottom of the pack with the support of 1% of the delegates. Even Joe Volpe, who is a noxious scandal-tainted sort, has 5% support! The Libs would rather vote for a tainted male candidate than a good WOMAN! And just forget minorities entirely. Dream on! We are supposedly a multicultural nation but it's going to be a loooooong time before you see anyone non-white running this country.

This is 2006, people. Why do none of the main parties have a female leader?! The Green Party is run by a woman, Elizabeth May, but at this point I don't consider the Greens a mainstream party. Why is there no hope of a female Prime Minister anytime in the near future? Instead we can look forward to more rich old or middle-aged white men, surprise surprise! Canada had a female Prime Minister for ten minutes back in 1993, before the Conservative Party was all but annihilated. It's time to elect a female to run the country FOR REAL. But you have to start by electing a woman to lead your party.

There have at least been a couple of females leading the New Democratic Party in the past, but now the NDP is back to an old white guy (Jack Layton, you have forever lost my vote by sucking up to Helmethead Harper and the Whack-servatives), and they have never had a hope of winning an election anyway.

How many women are there in this country? Why do we keep electing old (or in Wetlips' case, just middle-aged and ugly) white guys to be Prime Minister? They're doing a crap job anyway! It's time for woman to be in charge, and I don't mean in the damn kitchen.

Read about the candidates here:


Who wouldn't want a cat arse in his face first thing in the morning?

Especially one from such a lovely old girl!

Speaking of arses, did I ever post a picture of the wonderful "Cat Butt Air Freshener" our friend Sarah gave us for our cross-Canada road trip? I thought not:

"Cat Butt Air Freshener", photographed somewhere in northern Ontario! No, it wasn't cat-butt scented. Hyacinth, I believe.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Deer bones and dirty cars

Gordon drives along a dirt road for part of his commute every day. Can you tell? We got the car washed after this photo was taken. By the way, the car is black.

I am always finding interesting things on my walks. Last week, I found these in the ditch:

Now, I can identify a beer bottle when I see it. But I am presuming these are deer bones.

I am wondering if the proximity of the beer bottle is mere coincidence, or proof that some lazy hunter got drunk and left bits of his kill in the ditch?

I know very little about hunting, other than the fact that there are some idiots around here who ignore "No hunting" signs and have been shooting off rifles close to houses. In fact, our landlord chased some idiots out of his cow pasture last week. These are not the responsible hunters; they are the LAZY, STUPID hunters who can't be bothered to hunt in a legal spot, and do the work of bringing their kill out of the bush. Instead they choose to endanger people's lives by shooting too close to homes and cars.

So... are these bones here because some lazy hunter left them there? Are they there because a deer was hit by a car and went down in the deep ditch to die? Or is it normal to field-dress your kill next to the road while drinking a beer?

The other question I have is how come I walked by this for three months and didn't notice it until last week?! It is a deep ditch, but still. The bones are stripped bare, so clearly there hadn't been a smelly corpse down there for quite some time.

So far on my daily walks I have found wild turkey feathers, grouse feathers, a dead frog, two dead snakes, stuff I've forgotten, and now a pile of bones. What next?

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Meese! And another cat bed.

Last night on our drive home, Gordon spotted two moose just a couple of minutes from our house, in a farmer's field. It was a Mama moose and her young one. They loped around the perimeter of the field and came over to have a look at us as we stood next to our car (there was a fence between us and them, and we were ready to jump in the car if necessary!) Beautiful! I even had my camera with me, and although these aren't great photos, I think you can make out the moose...mooses...meese:

We stopped by our landlord's place after that and he said that he had seen them in his horse/cow pasture yesterday morning, and that they were the first moose he had seen around here in 25 years! Weren't we lucky? Beautiful creatures!

Speaking of beautiful creatures, here we have someone else being used as a cat bed for a change:

It's an equal-opportunity household! (And that's our 8-inch telescope behind Gordon's head. One visitor thought it was some strange kind of woodstove!)

Saturday, November 25, 2006

I'm just a cat bed, part 2

Things are progressing... now all three of them think I am furniture:

Zoë is the stripey one, Mashka is the grey one, and Julius is the handsome orange man:

Here Zoë is trying to assert her authority over poor, 15-year-old Mashka, who has kidney failure and has lost her place at the top rung of catdom:

I shooed Zoë off to leave Mashka in peace to watch the birdies outside at the feeders.

And despite the fact that we bought the cats a FOUNTAIN specifically designed for them, with filtered, bottled water circulating through it, Julius and Zoë have decided that they prefer to drink out of the non-cat fountain in my office, which is filled with well water that is salty from softening and has been sitting for days. Figures. Here is Julius, caught in the act:

I will never understand cats. Never!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Squidzilla - not for vegetarians

On Saturday, we bought a whole squid in Ottawa's Chinatown (not to mention a pound of the biggest scallops I have ever seen!) Last night I decided to cook it (Thai red curry, because I also bought lots of Thai ingredients in Chinatown.) But I had never cleaned a squid before, so I looked up the instructions on the internet. And because I am apparently seriously lacking a life, I felt compelled to photograph the whole process for my legions of fans!

Ah, here is the poor squid. I have seen squid while snorkelling in warmer climes, but none of them were as big as this one. Here he is resting in our sink, and I thanked him for giving his squiddy life for us:

Tentacles! Tentacles! Tentacles! including one very long one. And that is my mother's old knife. We seriously need to go shopping for a decent knife.

The ink sack had already exploded inside the squid, but the resulting black mess wasn't too bad, and voila, I soon had the squid prepped for the wok. But raw squid is a scary thing to have next to your face:

Tentacles... more tentacles. "Hmm... should I really eat these?"

Tentacles could also make rather attractive, silvery veil for the face, in a pinch. I suppose they would be rather smelly, though:

Amazing what human beings will put in their mouths, isn't it?

Sunday, November 19, 2006

I am just a cat bed

As the following photos show, I am just a giant cat bed. Anytime I get horizontal, I end up with at least one cat on me. And I would just like to say that while Zoë IS overweight, she is not as fat as the bottom picture makes her look!! The camera really does add ten pounds. Poor little girl!

Saturday, November 18, 2006


We have beavers living around us, lots and lots of beavers. So many beavers, in fact, that the municipality drops by occasionally to break up the dams they make on our lake, and to trap the excess beavers!

There are trees all over our property that have been chomped by these oversized rodents (second-largest rodents in the world, I believe.)

Mmmm, saplings:

This is an ambitious project that has not yet been completed. This tree is about a foot across:

My landlord put fencing around this silver birch to save it from curious teeth, but it hasn't stopped the beavers from chowing down on the parts that grow outside the fence:

They have a lodge on the edge of our property, but you can't see it in this photo. When the lake freezes, we will be able to walk over to it.

Gratuitous water shot:

So there you have it, the work of our beavers!