Monday, 29 August 2011

Recovering Trumpeteres


These pretty birds are making a wonderful comeback from near extinction. Lake Ontario is not their normal habitat which is the west coast of British Columbia and parts of Alaska and the interior of British Columbia and Idaho.

Every spring and summer when I venture down to Lake Ontario there they are in pairs or singles, some with cygnets paddling in tow. Large at 60 inches, their wingspan is 96 inches. For awhile there were only a few pairs; and now there are multiple groups of them along Lake Ontario wherever people venture to offer food. They'll take wild birdseed as fast as the ducks and Canada Geese do.


Photo Credits: [1] Grant Gingko CC=nd-sa-flickr, [2] steveharris CC=nc-flickr.

Research: A Field Guide to the Birds of North America by Michael Vanner, Parragon 2006 p.49.

Monday, 22 August 2011

My Town Monday - Ontario Place

Ontario Place is having it’s 40th anniversary, and to help visitors to attend they have opened their doors for free access to their grounds during the time Toronto holds its Exhibition (the “Ex”). Ontario Place is owned and run by the provincial government. There are additional charges for the many different kinds of rides and attractions. But, for the family or person looking for FREE attractions there are many, geared for young and old alike. It is open from May until October. Ontario Place consists of three man-made islands built atop a reef the Port Authority deemed dangerous to boating concerns. Landfill was reused to build up the reefs thus creating a waterfront park. Ontario Place is located south of the Exhibition Grounds and Lakeshore Boulevard next to Lake Ontario.

[1 - Inuksuk on Lakeshore Boulevard]

I went yesterday afternoon with some friends and was only able to take in a very small part of this lakeside attraction. For those visiting or living in Toronto, take the FREE SHUTTLE (blue bus) from Union Station to avoid parking and traffic dilemmas. It beats taking the TTC and transferring or an extra several blocks walk. Rather than pay to go through the EX (another annual attraction) we walked around the Princess Gate along the bicycle path to the Centre Entrance which prompted us to take the Free Shuttle on the way back. A word of advice about the bicycle path – watch out for cyclists! Enroute on the cyclist path is a tall Inuksuk to show you're on the correct track.

If you come on a free admission be sure to get a Summer Day Pass for $20or individual attraction tickets. There are so many things to see and do that this place requires multiple return trips.

After a noisy cheering from the crowd watching the lumberjacks from western Canada perform their chainsaw techniques on timber sections, a quieter venue was sought out from the intesne heat of the sun. The Earth Rangers put on a documentary and live visual of wild animals that are losing their habitats. It is an organization that assists wildlife live safely in their natural habitats around the world. A worthy cause for children of all ages to be interested in.

There were a number of demonstrations telling a bit about each of the birds and animals of their natural abilities:

Lemur are quite the cuties from Madagascar with great jumping ability. The Lemur used in the show was very engaging as it pulled on it's leash to bring the trianer closer rather doing his leaps from post to post.

Lemurs have very long tails to help balance them when they leap. Their front toes are used much like we use our fingers.

harrier hawk,

[3] Northern Harrier Hawk (hen)

barn owl: surprised me a little when I saw it fly to retrieve a treat from a tall post at the back of the viewing area. I suspect Harry Potter fans were delighted.

[4] This is Echo, the same owl I saw do his demonstration.

bald eagle, an amazing bird who kept surveying the crowd and above for anything that might catch his eye. This eagle was more prey oriented than the harrier hawk presented first.

[5] Earth Ranger demonstration with bald eagle

[6] - Bald Eagle head study

pine marten,

[7] Pine martens have very sharp claws to help them run along tree branches and rock ledges after their prey.

Servals are 21 to 26 inches tall weighing 15 to 20 pounds in females and 20 to 40 pounds in males. A nice sized cat. This was a very neat cat with powerful hind legs tat were longer than the front ones.


[9] Serval in savannah in Tanzania

During the demonstrations each of the animals and birds were provided with piecs and chunks of raw meat by their trainers. I'm not usually fond of seeing such demonstrations but each of these animals had been raised in captivity and had not been wild caught. Also, children have a rare treat of seeing a live specimen close up working with humans. At the rate habitat for these animals is disappearing it's defintely time to start educating people about how to save them, and in doing so, probably save humans, too, in the long run.

[10] Marina view from walkway near Marina Grille.

When passing by the marina I was sorry not to have brought a camera as there were several very impressive small yachts moored to the pier.

The weather was exceptional with hot sun for awhile followed up with a torrential downpour from a thunderstorm that moved in just after we went to the Marina Grill for a late lunch. Rather than stay longer we decided to leave.

As there are many more sites to be seen I will be back at later dates, at which time I will provide updates.

Go to My Town Monday for other participants. Clare Dickson has taken over My Town Monday from Travis Erwin who started it.

Reserach: wikipedia - Ontario Place

Photo Credits: [1]-DarkElfPhoto CC=nc-sa-flickr,[2][3][5][6][7][9]-Wikipedia,[4][5][8] earthrangers CC=nc-flickr,[10]-wyliepoon CC=nc-sa-flickr.

Monday, 15 August 2011

This photo is of Emerald Lake in Yoho National Park, British Columbia.

Photo Credit: Chris and Lara Pawluk cc=nc-nd-flickr.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Promises to Keep by Charles de Lint

From the back cover:

“The year is 1972. Jilly Coppercorn is happy, mostly. Her past was anything but. Abuse, addiction, and living on the street brought her to the brink of self-destruction. Now she’s struggling to stay clean and make ends meet. Jilly’s present life in Newford revolves around studying art at Butler University while surrounded by her supportive new family-of-choice: her caseworker, the Grasso Street Angel; best friend, Geordie the fiddler; and fellow artist, Sophie Etoile.

“Rising from the ashes to take on new responsibilities is hard, and nothing comes easily. As Jilly strives to create a life she can be proud of, she recives a tempting opportunity roaring in from the past on an oversized motorcycle. Donna Birch, the only close friend from Jilly’s old juvie days, has blossomed into a confident, tattooed bass-player who offers Jilly a one-in-a-lifetime chance to leave Newford—and start afresh in a beautiful, mysterious city where dreams are almost too easily realized.

“The problem is, Jilly still has unfinished business in Newford.”

This YA urban fantasy caught me by surprise. The entire story was compelling with subtle hints of lurking fantasy. Mr. De Lint placed great emphasis on attention to detail of locations and characters while weaving Jilly’s current experiences with her past.

Jilly meets her old friend, Donna Birch, quite by accident and is invited to hear her play at the biker club “Cool Hand Juke”. Despite, Jilly’s best friend, Geordie, not believing the place exists, Jilly goes. After attending the gig, JIlly accompanies Donna to her place where she learns she has entered into another reality where unfulfilled dreams can be realized. It seems too good to be true and easy as well. Finances materialize in a bank account, an apartment is set up in no time and Jilly goes for walks, meeting other residents with flavourful backgrounds. Soon Jilly discovers the mysterious city is filled with dead people: all who had unexpected deaths before their time. Jilly questions why Donna brought her to such a place without telling her more of the details.

Things get interesting when Jilly learns the doorway in closes and she needs to find another one going out.

The story contained elements of fairy tales where one inadvertently makes a bargain and tries to get out of it. Another aspect covered was of the sociological effects of people needing to be transformed through hope for a better future. That by providing any small kindness you do for others goes a long way to improving their lives. Best of all, the novel has a satisfactory ending.

Promises to Keep is companion to the bestselling novels The Onion Girl and Widdershins.

Charles de Lint is the bestselling author of over seventy adult, YA, and children’s books, including Moonheart, The Blue Girl, Medicine Road, and Forests of the Heart. He is the recipient of the World Fantasy, YALSA, Crawford, and Aurora awards. De Lint is a poet, songwriter, performer, and folklorist, and he has a regular book review column for Fantasy & Science Fiction. He lives in Ottawa, Canada, with his creative co-conspirator, MaryAnn Harris.

The review copy was provided by Chalene Brusso of Tachyon, with thanks.

Book format: paperback, 192 pages
Publisher: Tachyon Publications
Author website: Charles de Lint

Available at: