Saturday, May 30, 2015

Apple Blossom Festival

Aside from a drive a couple of weeks ago to meet up with a couple of fellow bloggers in Lunenburg, I can't remember the last time I had an "adventure".

Susan, Sara and me (and Wendy)
After that awful long nasty winter  -- Can you believe I'm still bitching about it? -- I felt it was high time for one, so I hopped in my car this morning with Wendy and Sooki and we headed for Wolfville and the "Apple Blossom Festival".  

Our first stop was at a park in Wolfville that leads to dyke lands beside the Bay of Fundy.   Fog still hung low over the Bay, obscuring Blomidon in the distance.

The dogs romped across the fields and occasionally ran into the water and or slopped about in the muck.

Can you see Wendy's footprints ?

Then they'd tear out of the muck and run around like a loonies and then roll in the grass.

Sooki galloping up the hill with a big sloppy grin on her face.

Check out Sooki's paws.  Black from the muck.

After they had a good run we went back to the car to go find Apple Blossoms.

Good news !

We found them.

Oh the scent was as marvellous as the blossoms were beautiful.   Ahhhh bliss !

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

How buggy is my valley ?

The answer to that question is very buggy.

Very, very buggy.

It seems like there was barely a one week or two between the last of the snow drifts and the first clouds of pesky midges.  

What's a girl to do ?

Well this girl went to the Dollar Store and got this very fetching hat with attached bug netting.

I'm hoping that I'm not going to have to wear this all summer in the woods but considering the beauty of "my" new woods, it's a price I am willing to pay.

I've always been a little nutty for Moss.  

And after our long bitter Winter and overly late Spring I am finding these bursting greens intoxicating.

And Wendy and Sooki are always happy to tag along.

BTW I had to discard a lot of images because bugs were flitting in front of the lens.  

Monday, May 25, 2015

Rescue mission !

Yesterday while walking in "my" new woods I spied something unusual in a recently dried-up puddle.  Actually it wasn't ONE something.  There were a couple of somethings.  And the more I looked,  the more somethings I found.

Can you see them ?

Here's a closer look.

The somethings were Wood Frog egg masses.

I wondered why they were high and dry as egg masses can not survive outside of water. My best guess would be that this overly long Winter and late Spring put off the frogs' schedule, and the eggs were laid late and the pond dried up before the eggs had a chance to hatch and grow.

For once I was glad that some thoughtless person had dumped their junk in the woods, as I found a small plastic pail which I filled with water from a puddle ...

and  collected as many masses as I could and took them to a vernal pool in the woods.  I hope that that pool will be able to sustain them for the 6-8 weeks they need to hatch and turn from Tadpoles into Frogs.

Vernal pool in the woods
Today Kaitlyn and I headed back to see if we could find any more stranded egg masses that I'd missed, and to move other batches from a ditch that was close to drying up.

See all the floating masses ?

We gathered them all up and re-located them to the vernal pool

 But stopped for a quick photo op first.

We'll keep an eye on the vernal pool.  Not sure WHAT I'll do if it shows signs of drying up.  I'm hoping for some good Spring rains to keep it replenished.

And I WILL go back tomorrow just to make sure we didn't miss any.

Friday, May 1, 2015

I've got mail ...

I'm not sure if you've heard about the Winter we've had here in Nova Scotia.  Suffice it to say that it was BRUTAL.  Cold.  Snowy.  And followed by a non-existent Spring.  Today is May 1 and there is still snow in the woods!

All this (and more that I'll tell you about another time) helps to explain why I've been feeling down lately.

One very special thing did raise my spirits though.

My birthday was in mid-March and about a week before the big day I got a birthday card from my bosom chum Sandy.  Then the next day I got ANOTHER card from her, and two days later I got another.

And so it went,  On and on.

And they weren't just cards.  Included with some cards were corny jokes or a fake mustache or a single puzzle piece or a few chicken feathers (if you recall, Sandy has some very lovely Chickens).

But the jokes -- oh my they WERE corny !

               "When the plums dry on your tree, it's time to prune."
               "What are the Botany jokes getting to be ?   A pain in the Aster."
               "Some Moss took a Lichen to a tree."

 The cards kept coming for around three weeks, until I'd received a total of 18 of them.

It was finally time to make the puzzle,

and check out the enclosed loot.

And see how I looked in a villainous mustache.

And replace some of the gloom with the warm, fuzzy feeling that having such wonderful friends brings.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Cabin Fever ...

I have "cabin fever" !

In nice weather I spend more time outside than in. In nice weather I don't fall asleep in my big poofy chair after reading ten pages of a book.   In nice weather I don't fall asleep in my big poofy chair for three hours after reading ten pages of my book, after getting a good solid ten hours sleep.

In nice weather I do not Troll the internet reacting immaturely to comments that raise my ire.

Cabin fever has changed me.

In winters past I have still gotten out and gone for lovely drives over to the Bay of Fundy,

or down to Peggy's Cove,

or even just for a walk along the shore near me.

But this winter has been (and sadly, still is) long and bitter and icy and the roads not conducive to road trips.

My only outings have been to Shubie park.  But even walking there has sometimes been treacherous.

In order to be able to walk on ice I bought some "grippers" that slip onto the bottom of my boots.

They do help with the walking but I still am unnerved when walking on ice.

 All in all I've pretty much had it with winter !

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Happy 50th Birthday !

Prior to February 15, 1965 most Canadians would have told you that our National Flag was the Red Ensign.

Those same Canadians might be have been shocked to learn that the Ensign was never officially adopted by the Parliament of Canada as our National Flag.  Our official Canadian Flag was the Royal Union Jack.

During WWII Canadian troops fought and died under the Canadian Ensign.  After the war in 1945 a committee was struck to establish an official Canadian Flag.  The committee called for suggestions, and 3,541 designs flowed in in the form of pencil sketches, crayon drawings, cut outs made of construction paper and water colour paintings.  Of these entries, 2,136 contained Maple leaves, 408 Union Jacks, 389 Beavers and 359 Fleurs-de-lys.

The matter dragged on for twenty years coming to a head in September of 1964, when it was realized that coming to an agreement on the flag design had become a Nationally divisive issue.

"The designs for a new flag are most interesting and pretty, but our reasons for loving the old flag is the  
remembrance of the men and women - both French and English speaking - who gave their lives for Canada, the land they loved."

"I urge you to find a speedy and honorable conclusion to the long dragged out flag debate. No symbol of a country is as important as the country itself, and Canada is waiting for urgently needed legislation."

"I personally...would most certainly accept any flag provided we could have a prosperous Canada in which poverty were unknown."

"Who, in their right mind, could be concerned with a petty issue like a flag at a time when there are so many urgent issues at stake. It doesn't seem to matter that the world is in ferment and badly needs leaders of integrity and courage and ACTION. Without them, we shall no doubt go up in nuclear smoke - and the flag along with us."

"Direct your efforts towards a better Canada instead of a bitter one."

Basically there were two camps: those who wanted images from the past, the Fleur-de-lis and the Union Jack to be part of the flag and those who didn't.  

The contest came down to three designs:

Red Ensign

"To me it is unbelievable that anyone could suggest replacing this symbol of pride in our past, our heritage, our vigorous belief in our future - with a dull childlike banner."

"It is easy to see you have little or no knowledge of the significance of a flag....You have treated the Queen in a most ungallant, unpatriotic and really disgraceful manner. My advice to you, Sir is, leave the present distinctly Canadian Red Ensign alone. Then apologise to Her Majesty for the disgraceful disturbance you have caused and get on with the affairs of Canada that you have recently been neglecting."

"The designs for a new flag are most interesting and pretty, but our reasons for loving the old flag is the remembrance of the men and women - both French and English speaking - who gave their lives for Canada, the land they loved."

"The design of the three Maple leaves is used by a bologna manufacturer in Montreal. Whether it is copyrighted or not I do not know."

"I don't like the three maple leaves on the white background...the single maple leaf looks better. As I am only 10 [I] will have to look at it longer than Mr. Pearson. (Mr. Pearson was the Prime Minister at the time)"

"The idea of a single maple leaf is excellent, especially since the only Canadian leaves that actually grow in the detested "poison ivy and poison oak." In the best interest of our country, this fact of the three grouped leaves should be well considered, to prevent a serious mistake."

After some contentious voting we ended up with what must be one of the most striking, innovative and recognizable flags on the planet.

P.S  If you want to learn how the vote was "rigged" to get us our new flag here is the background story:

Hamilton Spectator
Without one Toronto MP's behind-the-scenes skulduggery a half-century ago, Canadians might not be celebrating the 50th anniversary of their red maple leaf flag. 
Reid Scott maintains that he "rigged" the final vote to ensure the 15-person parliamentary flag committee recommended the single-leaf banner that has flown across Canada since Feb. 15, 1965. It was up against a three-leaf pennant favoured by prime minister Lester Pearson and a version of the red-leaf flag that included the Union Jack and fleur-de-lis and was supported by the opposition Conservatives.
"I admit it, I rigged the vote. I'd be a fool to deny it," says Scott, the lone survivor from the committee that was struck in the fall of 1964 to end what had been a rancorous summer-long flag debate in the House of Commons.
"I don't call it trickery, I call it legal manoeuvring," says the 88-year-old who resides in a Pickering retirement community. "It's quite legitimate. I didn't commit any crime."
Scott's is a colourful tale of backroom politics difficult to prove or disprove, because all of the flag committee meetings were held in private and he is the last direct witness. But something clearly happened behind the closed doors of a Senate committee room, or in clandestine gatherings elsewhere, to hoodwink the Conservatives into voting for a flag they didn't support.
During the election of 1963, (Prime Minister) Pearson promised a distinctive flag that would unify Canada and replace the Red Ensign that was never given formal sanction by Parliament. Pearson was elected with a minority Liberal government and on June 15, 1964, asked the House of Commons to establish as Canada's flag an emblem of three red maple leaves on a single stem on a white background between two blue bars, a design commonly referred to as the Pearson Pennant.
That began what Scott recalls as "one of the longest, most bitter debates in the entire history of the Canadian Parliament. It was a loony bin. The longer it went, the crazier everybody got, especially during the night sittings when they'd had a few drinks. You wouldn't believe the cursing and swearing."
Conservative party leader John Diefenbaker dug in, determined to defeat Pearson on the flag. The Tory filibuster went into September when, finally, Parliament struck a multi-party committee to develop a flag. Diefenbaker, however, said any recommendation it made had to be virtually unanimous to carry any weight in the Commons.
"They gave us six weeks to do what the country couldn't do in 97 years," says Scott, the member for Toronto Danforth and the lone NDPer in the group.
The committee was made up of seven Liberals, five Conservatives, and a member each from the Social Credit, Ralliement des Créditistes and New Democratic parties.
Scott, his stories sharp in both detail and wit, said he'd heard through the parliamentary grapevine that the Conservatives had been instructed by Diefenbaker to always vote against Pearson's flag. That's when Scott says he formulated his plan to ensure that the single-leaf design he favoured got the support needed to go back to Parliament.
The committee first had to cull through more than 5,000 flag suggestions either submitted by the public or held over from previous efforts to come up with a suitable banner. Scott said it was relatively easy to get down to three finalists: while some of the submissions were serious attempts at symbolizing Canada, others ranged from depictions of frothy beer mugs to portraits of the Beatles.
Scott says he believed the use of three leaves would create a "disunity flag" because it would always be interpreted as the English, the French and everyone else.
The committee voted to determine which of the three proposals would move on. The one with a Union Jack and fleur-de-lis — dubbed Diefenbaker's Abomination by some — was defeated while the single-leaf and three-leaf designs advanced.
"On the second vote, the Tories were trapped, which is what I had intended all along," says Scott. "They couldn't vote for the Pearson Pennant so they'd inevitably vote for the red and white (single-leaf) flag, I was sure of it. The problem was with the Liberals."
Before the voting, Scott had talked to Walter Gordon, a friend who was also finance minister, and says he delivered a message to Pearson.
He says he asked Gordon to tell Pearson: "Your flag will never fly."
"I said 'I have the votes to kill it and I will do so reluctantly because I like Mr. Pearson and respect him.' I said, 'it doesn't have to be that way, Walter. All he has to do is withdraw his support of his own flag and instruct (Liberal MP John) Matheson to tell (the Liberals) on the committee to vote for the single maple leaf.'
"He did it. So, on the final vote, all the Conservatives, all the Liberals and all the independents voted for the single maple leaf. We got a unanimous vote. That had been my intention from the very beginning."
Matheson was Pearson's point man in the development of a new flag and Scott says he also went to him to get him onside.
"I said, 'John, you're back in the 1800s with this stuff. You and I know the three maple leaves come from the coat of arms at the bottom. I bet you that 99.9 per cent of people don't even know we have a Coat of Arms and couldn't care less. Join the 20th century for God's sake, come with us.' So he finally agreed," recounted Scott.
The Conservatives, assuming the Liberals would side with Pearson, were stunned when the final ballots were counted and they were part of a 14-0 vote in favour of the single-leaf flag. (The chairman didn't vote.) They regrouped and a vote to determine whether that flag was acceptable as a national flag for Canada passed 10-4, though it would take several more weeks of debate in the House and require parliamentary closure to finally get it approved.
So were the Conservatives duped?
In a story that appeared almost immediately in the Ottawa Citizen, Liberal flag committee member Grant Deachman wrote under his byline: "For a brief moment, the choice of a national flag was unanimous. The Tories were thunderstruck. They were cross-eyed with bewilderment and terror. They then moved to break up the feeling of unanimity and achievement which was spreading all too quickly among the members.
"A reconfirming vote, which had previously been agreed upon, gave them an opportunity to beat a retreat. The vote was 10 to 4. They had lost one of their members to the new national flag." At 12:30 a.m., the glum-faced Tories "left in haste their hounds. We broke into broad grins that mounted into laughter."
In his book Canada's Flag, published in 1986, Matheson does write of a committee strategy session with Scott and Deachman during which Scott indicated to him that the three-leaf design was definitely out. But, while a voting strategy clearly was in effect, Matheson's story differs from Scott's. He says that before that meeting, he had already come to believe a one-leaf design was the way to go. He also credits Deachman, not Scott, with nursing the committee through the unanimous vote. Matheson, who died in 2013, states heoperated independently of Pearson.
Matheson, instead, writes of a meeting at which he directed Scott and Deachman to examine a refined single-leaf prototype that he had quietly mounted on the committee room wall.
"Almost instantly a consensus was reached and a bargain struck — that design was to become our choice," wrote Matheson. "We agreed then that secretly we would select that flag while the tactics of the voting operation and the political strategy were to be left with Grant Deachman."
Scott, who also says he's the one who put a single-leaf proposal on the wall, says he has no interest in starting another debate. He just wants to tell his version s before it is too late.
"The Liberals said it was their idea to save face for Pearson," he says. "I don't care. Everybody shares the credit. The flag we got said exactly what we wanted it to say: One Canada, where everybody is equal under the law."
So is Scott's version of events accurate? Flag historian Rick Archbold, who authored the book A Flag for Canada, says there's no way to prove history didn't unfold that way.
"It's possible that he sent a message to Pearson," said Archbold. "I found no evidence of that other than his story whereas there is pretty good evidence that Deachman and Matheson went to Pearson and said, 'Here's the situation.' But if he says he did it, who's to argue with him? You can't prove he didn't and it may well be that Pearson got two messages, one from Reid Scott and one from the Liberal members of the committee. (Scott) was there and was a key part of making it happen, no question. He's our living witness."
"Scott may well have been one of the people who helped create the situation where the Tories all voted for the single maple leaf by accident," continued Archbold. "Deachman supposedly orchestrated it. Reid Scott supposedly orchestrated it. And then there's Matheson, who also orchestrated it. You can drive yourself crazy with this."
Scott, who was also an Ontario MPP, Toronto councillor and a provincial court judge, says there is something he's never made public, something that happened when the Canadian flag was flown on Parliament Hill for the first time in 1965.
"Just as it got to the top, a wind came across the lawn and blew it out in its full glory," he recalled. "I was so proud being a part of that, I cried."
The Toronto Star