Thursday, July 2, 2015

Tall Tales and Weather Predictions

Years ago there was a weatherman at CJOH in Ottawa who would forecast wonderful weekend weather, time and time again, only for us to experience wet rainy conditions. Many of us got to the point where we actually didn't trust his weekend weather reports, and some openly called him a liar.  Eventually he admitted that he didn't want to tell us when it was going to rain on a weekend, as he didn't want to spoil our fun. Of course, going where we planned to go and getting rained on also spoiled our fun, but I guess he didn't see it that way.

Technology has changed so much since those days that we don't even need to tune into the TV weather forecasts if we don't want to.  I can check my local weather on my computer, and I have a Weather Network app on my tablet.  If I want to, I can not only see the current forecast but also what's expected to happen over the next two weeks, or even hour by hour for the next 36 hours.  I don't have to even limit myself to where I am. If I am going somewhere, or planning a vacation, I can look at where I'm headed and see how things will be when I'm there.

Actually, I did that last year. We were planning to go to Nova Scotia for our holiday.  The weather was not all that great here, so I looked where we were going to see if it was going to affect us there, and if postponing a couple of days would be a good idea, so that we could follow the weather there, instead of it following us.  What I saw was that they seemed to be expecting rain every day for the entire two weeks we had available for travel. Since everything we like to do is outside, we decided not to go, and enjoyed a Staycation here, with day trips around the area. It was very enjoyable, but when it was over, I got plenty of reports from people who were in the maritimes during our vacation time who told me the weather had been wonderful.  I'm wondering if perhaps the forecasts I saw showed a 40% probability, but the graphics definitely showed raindrops each and every day.

This spring I discovered that Kingston was going to host an Artfest in a big city park and I have been looking forward to it more than any other event this year. We had planned to go for Canada Day, but once again the weather got in the way.  Or maybe it was just the weather forecast.

It was definitely not the nicest day here, and I was not even tempted to wander downtown to even see if the usual Canada Day festivities were taking place.  I checked the Kingston weather, and found that the only difference was that we were expecting possible thunderstorms here, but they were just expecting rain.  Either way, the weather put a damper on any plans I had for the day.  I just stayed in and read all day, and surfed the internet.

While online I discovered that we could get tickets to an adaptation of Pirates of Penzance at the 1000 Island Playhouse in Gananoque at a greatly reduced rate for that one night only. We jumped on this deal, and enjoyed an evening out. The rich costumes of the usual Gilbert and Sullivan production were nowhere in evidence in this adaptation. The troupe brought the story forward to 1926 and set it among the Thousand Islands.  The pirates in this story became rum runners on the Saint Lawrence River.  There was a great deal of talent on stage, and lots of giggles and outright belly laughs going on in the audience. My Canada Day may not have been what I had planned, but it turned out just fine in the end.

The following day I was once again online and saw lots of photos of the first day of the Kingston Artfest.  The sun appeared to be shining in those pictures. Lots of people were there, and lots of tents held a wide variety of artwork. I could have been there after all.

A little research shows me that weather forecasts are usually quite accurate within a three day time frame. I really have to stop looking at the weather forecasts when I'm making plans, because apparently all weather men lie, just in case what happens might spoil your day.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Goldfish, Not River Fish

image courtesy of Sommai at
There has been lots in the news lately concerning the invasiveness of goldfish in rivers, streams and ponds in Alberta and Toronto.

Many years ago, I had a friend who built a pond in her back yard, and then bought a few gold fish to put in it.  In the beginning, the fish were brought indoors during the winter months and put into an aquarium in the living room.  Goldfish grow according to how much space they have and soon the fish that lived in the pond during the summer were too big to all fit into the aquarium. She would then select a few for her winter amusement, to live in the aquarium, and bought a child's wading pool for the rest of them. Those ones got to live in that pool in the basement, and by spring had usually managed to reproduce. Now, some of the offspring were pretty and golden and got to live in the pond or the aquarium, while others were brown and deemed by my friend to be "river fish".  She would take those ones down and turn them loose in the Rideau River, where they may have been eaten up by larger fish.....or not.  If not, then they have had ample room to grow and become an invasive species here too. 

I'm not sure anyone would notice though as goldfish are carp. The common carp  (Cyprinus carpio)has been found throughout the Rideau River since the 1930s.  They were introduced into Ontario from the United States in 1880. This species, native to Europe and Asia, quickly spread throughout southern Ontario and has reached as far north as Sturgeon Bay, Ontario.

This fish has been blamed for destroying the spawning areas of many aquatic insects, amphibians and other fish by rooting in the mud along shorelines.  Uprooting aquatic plants increases the turbidity, which is rather like smoke in the water.  The suspended particles can block the grills of other fish, so they stay away.  If eggs have already been laid in these areas, they could be covered by these particles, which would interfere in their development.

There have been years when I have seen carp swim up to the dam here in town. They were fascinating to watch as they made like salmon, trying to jump up the onrushing flow of the water going over the dam. I don't think there is any way any of them could have gone upstream from that point, but they surely could go downstream.  I don't know if the carp I've seen here had anything to do with the "river fish" my friend turned loose all those years ago. I now suspect they fit right in with the rest of the carp in the river though. 

I have also seen schools of carp in  the Tay River in Perth, Ontario. The Tay is a tributary to the Rideau River, upstream from here.  Children like to get into the stream that runs though Stewart Park in Perth, in the spring  and pet the fish. Carp are rather docile and friendly enough to swim right up to a person.  That may be why they were domesticated in the first place.

While it's likely the giant goldfish in Alberta will upset the aquatic eco system, the list of native species found in the Rideau now includes the carp. When something has been around long enough, I guess it's considered normal. 

It is illegal to transfer fish from one body of water to another. That means you cannot legally do what my friend did.  Not only does such an act introduce a fish into waters where it does not belong, but if you also dump the water the fish has been living in into the river too that would also introducing bacteria and parasites to a new location as well.  Do not be responsible for upsetting the balance of nature, even if it's already been done in your area.

Don't flush your unwanted live fish down the toilet either. If you no longer want your finned pets, give them away, take them to a pet store, donate them to a school, or talk to a veterinarian about humane disposal.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Heyday Bargains

This past weekend we attended Heyday in Kemptville.  For the 55th year, the Kemptville District Hospital Auxiliary pulled together to create the best giant garage and/or yard sale you are going to find anywhere.  Held in the North Grenville Curling Club, what makes this yard sale the best, in my opinion, is that things are sorted according to category.  Not only are the books and clothing separated into their own areas, but lamps are with lamps, appliances with appliances, and glassware also has it's own separate table.

If you go there to look for something in particular, you can go to the correct area an see what's available without having to sort though a jumble of junk.  Both this year and last, we went looking specifically for chairs.  Last year my oldest son wanted some chrome chairs, and we found some that will likely last him the rest of his life, and they were only $3 each.  This year my sister-in-law mentioned she also needed some chairs for her kitchen. When the day came, she had a previously scheduled appointment, and couldn't make it to the sale. We told her we would look, and grabbed up 4 nice sturdy wooden chairs for her for a grand total of $20. 

Looking around the rest of the room, I discovered a nice frame, complete with mat (and a picture I'll dispose of), a wooden lamp (that will likely be painted black) and a grey shade to go with it, two necklaces, three books, a green vase, and three small ceramic pots with lids that are perfect for reheating things in the microwave.  Total cost to me for all that was just $5.  Where else can you get so much for so little. And it's all for a good cause.

I'm already looking forward to next year.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Down on the Farm

Our Friday Friends group decided to take a little photography trip last week, instead of doing out usual art projects. We didn't go far....just down the road to the local sheep farm.

As it turned out, there were other things to see besides just sheep.

There were large old trees

 and interesting garden gates.

The old stone farmhouse

had a peaceful place to sit out back.

The garden had some interesting mulch...wool scraps, as well as the usual straw, to keep the weeds down.

Flowers grow with wild abandon along the fence rows.

and critters help themselves to whatever they can find.

The cedar rails were piled up and ready, perhaps to repair, or make more fences.

 Some of the lambs are still being hand fed by the farmer and they live away from the rest.

Others are doing fine and even grazing on the grass now.

One of my friends was very excited to meet her first lamb. It had managed to get through the fence and came right to her.  She couldn't resist a snuggle.

Our friendly sheep farmer came out to chat with us for a while.  The same lamb my friend had was happy to greet him too.  It definitely likes people.  I hope he keeps it, as his cull list is growing longer day by day.

We had a wonderful time exploring and meeting the sheep. I know I got at least a couple of pictures that will inspire me to create, and I'm sure the others likely did too.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Spotted, or Not

I started reviewing products for Chick Advisor last fall, and this spring they told me I had been
chosen to test out Vichy's ProEVEN Advanced Daily Dark Spot Corrector.  At my age, I do have a number of dark spots I could happily live without, so I was thrilled. 

When the package arrived, I was surprised to find that it contained ProEVEN Night, the Overnight Concentrate for dark spots and uneven skin tone.  That's not what I was expecting, but I was happy with a night time treatment, just the same, as I do have a good supply of daytime potions.

Then I got an e-mail telling that they had sent me the wrong product by mistake. They said I could keep it and review it too, but they would also be sending me the product they promised me.  Vichy is an excellent,  but expensive brand, so I was doubly thrilled to be able to work on getting rid of my dark spots both day and night.

The test was to run for two weeks.  I do wish I had taken a picture before I started, so I could see more easily just what is happening, if anything.  This is a product that works over time, and with just two weeks, if there was any change, it was happening so slowly that I wasn't aware of it.

The daytime product claims to visibly reduce the look of dark spots, brighten the skin tone, and create a more uniform complexion.  It's a white lotion that comes in a metal tube.  I like that I can use my regular moisturizers and such right over top of it, without apparently diluting the effectiveness.

The night time version is a clear gel that comes in a plastic tube. It can be used two ways.  I can spread it thinly over my entire face and it absorbs quickly. Or I could use it like a mask and put on a thick layer and let it sit there for 5 minutes, then remove any excess with a cotton pad. It's meant to have a resurfacing and brightening effect from the first morning and effectively reduce the look of dark spots in only 4 weeks.

One is instructed to avoid the eye area and lips when using these products. The problem is, many of my dark spots are near my eyes.  While I didn't see any noticeable improvements during the 2 week testing period, and therefore didn't give the most positive reviews, I think things are actually improving now. I am looking at my face, and am thinking that at least some areas where I always used a cover up cream don't really need that now.  I will continue to use the products until they are gone, and may even buy the ProEVEN Night version when I run out. 

I gave these products a thumbs down or "Forgetaboutit" rating, not because I didn't think they were any good, but because the question that generates the thumb direction was about whether I'd buy the product or not.  After two weeks, I didn't think I would. But if you are looking for something that might help, I'd suggest you go ahead and try it as it may work for you, as it seems to be for me now.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

The Road to Art

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, there are lots of arts and craft shows to attend, now that winter has supposedly disappeared.

Today we took in the Art Journey Show and Sale in Smiths Falls.  It's an annual event held at the Memorial Community Centre, and apparently this year they have several new artists.

There is a wide variety of talent presented at this show. We not only found paintings in many different styles and mediums, we also found photography, pottery, jewelry, wood carvings
and turnings, as well as folk art made from iron.  It's not a large show, but it was well attended.

It's interesting to see how Helen Nicholson seems to like to try to incorporate familiar faces such as Marilyn Monroe, Johnny Cash or Joan Rivers into her paintings of otherwise everyday scenes.

The artist who's work captured my attention today was Margaret Martin, who joined the group last fall. The works she showed today, were more interesting to me than the ones shown on the Art Journey webpage. I was especially taken with the one of a living room, complete with a bookcase full of books in the background.

If you missed this show this year, then perhaps you can catch some of the others around the area in the upcoming months. A few that I know of are:

1.  The 416 Art Kruze between Kemptville and Cardinal June 6 & 7.  We have never done this tour, but might try to combine it with a little geocaching along the way this year, if the weather is favorable.

2. Another one I've never been to, but am certainly looking forward to exploring this year is Artfest Kingston.  It's taking place between July 1 and 4 at the City Park in Kingston. This one seems to incorporate the art of music as well as the visual arts. You can even participate in workshops, or help paint a mural.  Even the kids can get involved! A sunset dinner cruise is also available in July 2.  

3.  The 17th Annual Rideau Lakes Studio and Garden Tour, July 4 &5 which basically goes from Portland to Chaffey Locks and beyond, through the back country.  It's a lovely drive, with many interesting stops along the way.  If you have never done a studio tour, this is a great one to start with.

4. And for those who don't like to drive all over to see the artist studios, you can find a lot of great art all together at the 5th annual Art in the Barn Show and Sale, at the Lombardy Fair Grounds 5 km south of Smiths Falls on Hwy 15. That will be held on July 10-12 this year. I understand they have expanded to take in a second building as well this year.  This show is always a favorite of ours, even if we don't get to go exploring to find the artists.  Don't miss it!


Thursday, May 7, 2015

Are You Ready for the Worst?

This week I've been reading a book called The Jakarta Pandemic, by Steven Konkoly.   It is, of course,  about a world wide epidemic...a pandemic. A new, and very fast spreading flu bug is especially dangerous to normally healthy young adults. People are dying at an alarming rate, and others are avoiding their jobs and in some cases, other people entirely.  You can just imagine what that sudden shortage of workers would do to society. Fuel and food chains break down, and normally civilized people go on a rampage, out of sheer desperation. Coincidentally, I just discovered that this is actually Emergency Preparedness Week

We have all seen the articles about how to prepare for emergencies. There are lists of things you should have on hand, to get you through the tough times when disasters strike. They try not to mention the sort of panic that appears in this novel, but with today's media access it's hard to have missed news stories of looting and riots.

During the ice storm of 1997, we all had to make do with what we had on hand, and some of us had very little warning to stock up our pantries.  Luckily for me, we were only out of power here for five days and five nights, but I know some who had no power in the dead of winter for a good 28 days.  When I went to the store for the last minute stock up, I just brought home a few extras of things that we commonly use around here.  I remember my hubby asking, "Is that all you want?"  I told him I wanted to be sure to leave some for other people.  In this book, the few people who did get to the stores on time managed to wipe out the stock in no time. Others became desperate rather quickly, and that's when the trouble starts. The book is making me think about things that could happen if an emergency lasted a long time, or if the nature of the problem escalated into creating more and more problems.  I think I'd rather be better prepared and will now take a more serious look at the lists created by those who understand just how bad things could get.

What have you done to prepare yourself for a possible emergency situation?