Thursday, August 4, 2016

An Old Passion, Reborn

When I was a teenager, my father built a little wooden boat called a sea kayak. It had pockets of air both fore and aft, and a square box to sit in with your knees bent while you paddled like you would in a kayak. I loved that thing and spent many happy hours in it.

For me, it was a safe little boat, as my center of gravity was down inside the box, at the waterline. It would have been hard for me to tip it over.  The time came when my younger brother began to grow and as his center of gravity, as it is in males, was up at chest level, he often tipped the little boat.

One day, I came home and noticed the boat was missing. I asked where it was, and was told that it had been sold as it was too dangerous for my brother to use.  Nobody had ever consulted me, or taken into account how much I loved that little boat.  It had just been sold out from under me, and I don't think I ever forgave my parents for that.

This past weekend our village celebrated Canalfest.  My hubby and I went down to see what was going on, taking our seven year old grandson with us. There were crafts, face painting, and music and food. There were also miniature remote control boats in the basin and Voyageur canoes in the channel, waiting for passengers.

As soon as my grandson spotted the Voyageur canoes, he immediately wanted to go for a ride in one.  As it turns out, the public could go for a half hour paddle for free.  They needed at least eight passengers in order to make the trip. We signed up, picked out the appropriate sized life preservers, and a paddle, and got ready for a little adventure.

First there was a little lesson and dry land practice in the four strokes we might be called upon to execute. Then we were loaded aboard, two by two.

Step one was to turn the canoe around. Following directions, and a little teamwork got it done. We paddled down the cut from just above the upper lock to the open water of the Rideau River, and then across to the far shore.  We paddled right through the lily pads to get a closer look at an osprey nest, complete with young ones.  We flushed out some ducks that were floating in the shade beneath  a tree. On the way back we saw a loon, and paddled right past a whole flock of seagulls that didn't seem to care that we were there.  My grandson kept declared that this was all so much fun! 

The next day we tried to convince the 11 year old grandson to go with us for the same experience.  There was no way we could coax  him to give it a try.  So we left him with his dad and brother and went on our own.  This time a gaggle of geese swam in front of us.

I told our guide that they had created a monster.  I had not paddled anything in over 50 years, and the experience on Saturday brought back to me how much I enjoyed it.  That's why we had come back again the very next day.  I told her to expect us again in the future, as I had signed up for their newsletters so I would know where they were.  She clapped her hands, clearly delighted, and quickly told me they would be in Smiths Falls this coming weekend.

Smiths Falls is  holding it's annual Paddlefest Saturday, August 6th.  Follow the link to learn more.  Maybe I'll see you there!

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Too Close For Comfort

Last evening I was out in the garden picking blackberries.  There were clouds starting to form to the west, but they didn't look bad.  I know we get sudden storms at this time of year, especially when the temperatures get as high as they did yesterday, so I was keeping an eye on them.  Nothing to worry about.  But then the wind started to pick up.  My garden is under poplar trees, so I'm always nervous about the wind.  My hubby opened the window to suggest I come in, and I told him I'm on the way. I left the garden immediately and headed for the house. The wind was getting stronger, even before I was indoors, so I went immediately to my bedroom window to look out.  I wanted to see how the trees were moving.  What I got was a shock. In the length of time it took me to get indoors and go to a window, Mother Nature had rearranged my back yard.
I had a brand new tree growing there.  From the angle I first saw it, I thought a branch had split my apple tree in half, but in reality, it was the top off of one of the poplars, which had embedded itself into the ground with such force, it now stood upright, taller than my apple tree.

The broken top off the tree had dug into the ground so well, it actually looks like it grew there.

So, now it looks like I have two trees growing in my back yard.

Notice that the new one, on the left,  is not only taller than my very mature apple tree, but also equally as big around at the base.

And notice that there are other upright spears that were also thrown down from above.  Nothing in this picture belongs there except that sliver of apple tree visible on the far left.

Of course there were a jumble of other branches too, some of which broke off the new tree.

And some of them are even fell through the flower garden.

The wind left a clear trail between the houses, indicating a straight line of destruction.  My blackberries are on the west side of the yard and only a few twigs are evident there.  I'm just lucky as it happened so fast and to a tree just two over from where I was standing. Too close for comfort. 

These old poplars are the tallest trees in my village. They don't belong to me or they would be gone by now.  From left to right, the first one is the only one that still has it's original top.  That's the one I was under, and the one we worry about most, as it could damage the house if it fell.  The top off the second one is lodged in the top of the fourth one, and has been since a previous major storm. The top off the fourth and fifth were lost in the Ice Storm of 1997. I'm hoping our neighbours will be convinced that it's finally time to do something about these trees.  They were beautiful in their day, but now they are just plain dangerous.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Ahoy Matey

We attended this year's Pirate Festival in Gananoque last weekend.
There was a small ship

A dashing ship's Captain


and of course, treasure.

Actually there was even an area where kids could dig for treaure.  There were lots of things for kids to do:

Games to play

Musical activities to take part in

Sword fighting

Over all, it was good family fun.  People were encouraged to dress in pirate garb, but not everyone did.

There was entertainment for adults too, including music

and dancing wenches

Here are some of my favorite Pirates of the day

The sword master
A fellow with a friend (this particular parrot wasn't real, but was animated)

The Newfie pirate, complete with Salt Water Sally

And of course, the star of the whole event, Capt N Tor

It wasn't huge, but it did make for an enjoyable afternoon and I'm glad we went. 

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Horses on Parade

Lombardy Fair is celebrating it's 150th anniversary this year. One of the ways they have chosen to celebrate was to hold a parade of 150 horses, right though the center of Smiths Falls, Ontario.

The weatherman was warning of thunderstorms, which would have ruined the whole thing, but luckily the rain held off until just after the event ended, and any thunder happened well before it even started.

I've been asked if there were really 150 horses in the parade. Well, I didn't count them, but even though I know of two that were supposed to be there and were not, I'm sure the count was close.

 There were all kinds of horses, both big and small, some being lead, others ridden either English or Western style, some pulling wagons and some pulling other things. There was even a race horse in the mix with the driver in the sulky behind. While most of the riders were dressed in their regular clothes, but there was a couple in period costume, and of course, the cowboys. A few of the horses were also decked out for the occasion. I especially like the one painted up like a zebra. The parade was well worth watching and I'm glad I didn't let the idea of stormy weather keep me from attending.

 I'll just share a few photos with you.


Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Artfest Kingston - How I Spent Canada Day

This is the season when all the art shows, studio tours and fairs seem to take place. We like to go exploring, and things like this make for interesting stops along the way.

This past weekend it was time for the the Kingston Artfest.  This is more than your usual outdoor art show.  While it had about 150 assorted artists displaying their work, it also had much more than that.  This is a very interactive event.

One could learn various kinds of drumming, for instance, as there was a different type of drum seminar each hour, all three days.  There was everything from a Beginners Rhythm Workshop, to Taiko Drumming between the hours of 10:30am and 3:00pm.  After that an open community drum circle was held each day of the festival.  I was really interested, but we ran out of time and the sky started to promise rain.  Okay, so I chickened out.

Nearby there was an opportunity to learn to sculpt in rock. That also looked interesting, but I'd want all day to work on something like that and we were only there for a couple of hours.

At one on of the booths, I saw a little girl getting a lesson in how to work a spinning wheel.

 There were also an assortment of art classes available, for both adults and children.  I always seem to miss the timing for the ones I'd be most interested in.  Perhaps I need to get my hands on a schedule ahead of time somehow.

I spotted one of our local artists, Larry Thompson from Greyweathers Press,

and was fascinated by some interesting crafts, like these ukuleles made out of tin cans.

I see a bright future for this young fellow.  I've seen designs cut into metal objects with a plasma cutter before, but he turned some old junk into amazing works of art.

Over in another corner there was the opportunity to paint on a mural.  I remember I was there a lot later during last year's event and it was getting pretty colourful by then.

I understand there were 20 picnic tables that entire families could paint on too. At the end of the weekend there was a silent auction to determine who got to keep them.

Habitat for Humanity was ready to teach you skills while helping to build a playhouse on site too. That was also to be auctioned off at the end of the event.

At the Easel Invasion, one could paint a picture of your own. An artist was on hand to help guide you, if needed.

Nearby was a poetry tent, if that is your sort of thing.  There was also music stage, and a beer tent.

The giant puppets were back too.  Last year I saw them being operated, as they walked through the crowd, towering over us. It's hard enough to work a regular sized puppet. These ones need more than one person each to operate them.
Then there were the stilt walkers.  Some people obviously have been doing this for a long time, but what they were doing there this weekend was teaching others to do it.  I saw kids with their feet tied to the stilts and wondered what would happen if they fell.  The instructors were there to catch, I suppose, but later I saw a group of three kids on stilts walking down one of the pathways toward the food area.  They might as well have been on their own two feet, they seemed so comfortable.

If you have never been to Artfest, you should go at least once.  There truly is something for everyone.  Best of all, it's all free.  It was a great way to spend Canada Day this year.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Brockville's Historic Criminal Past

I was lucky enough to be included in the dress rehearsal of the Brockville's Historical Criminal Past Walking Tour Tuesday evening. The Brockville Museum (5 Henry Street) will be running this tour every Friday at 3:00  and 7:00 PM beginning Friday, July 1st (Canada Day) until Labour Day.

Katelyn Ressler, from Kerrobert, Saskatchewan, who is studying dramatic arts at St Lawrence College, was hired by the museum for the summer, and she was the one who led us on the tour. This energetic young lady took us on a loop along trails, through parks, and the downtown core, and even through a back alley.  We would stop now and then to be told tales of  murder and mayhem, robbery and burglary.....and yes, apparently there is a difference, which was explained to all of us, in terms we could easily understand and remember.  We even heard how a crime was committed in the early 1800's in order to have a courthouse more centrally located in Brockville instead of where it was in Johnstown at the time.

We've all heard that crime doesn't pay, but the crimes in the Brockville area kept the courthouse busy, and the newspaper in business, which in turn provided jobs for the residents. Perhaps crime does pay after all.  Now this tour can be had for a mere $6 charge, though it's not recommended for children under 10 years of age. It's a great way to spend a lovely summer evening. If you are interested, you should call ahead to reserve a spot.  613-342-4397

I had expected other drama students to pop up along the way to act out the stories, but I'll have to wait for the Spirit Walk in August for that kind of action.  I'm sure that will be great fun, and can hardly wait.