Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Connections

While reading the news online this evening I saw an article about the Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, in Holten, the Netherlands, paying tribute to the Canadians who paid with their lives to liberate that country 70 years ago. That reminded me of an event far back in my own history, when I was too young to realize its significance. That was the celebration of the 10th anniversary of the liberation of the Netherlands.

I received the commemorative cup illustrated below as an innocent youngster in kindergarten. My recollection of that event is that the cup was filled with candy. Little did I know then that within 2 years I would emigrate to the country that was primarily responsible for the liberation of the Netherlands.

My mother safeguarded this cup for many years until it could be entrusted to me. Since then it has stood tucked inside a cabinet from where I would occasionally take it and ponder it in silence. It reminds me of the connection I have with these two countries - one of my birth and the second which adopted me.

Amazing the significance something of such little monetary value can hold.





Thursday, April 30, 2015

A Veterinarian's Friend

There's lots to be said for country living - fresh air, wide open spaces, little congestion (we occasionally experience rush minutes vs. rush hours in the nearby village), and we're surrounded by plenty of nature. The density of humans can likely be counted on 2 hands per square mile whereas the density of other living creatures would be many times that of humans.

And so we do encounter wildlife on a regular basis. Today we encountered what might be known as the bane of dog owners, or the friend of veterinarians, depending on what side of the credit card you're on. I'm talking here about your docile porcupine.

In our family we all have had experience with our dogs meeting up with one of these prickly creatures and some experiences have resulted in quite costly vet bills. You would think that after such an experience our dogs would learn to avoid porcupines ... think again - some of them have had 4 encounters and they've always ended up on the wrong side of them.

After my wife spotted this one ambling along in front of the house, I dashed after it camera in hand (to say 'ran after it' would be a stretch since they move along at a steady rate that shows complete confidence in their 'armour'). As I got closer to it you can see that its hackles were raised - not that I needed a warning. I eventually lost it in the woods.

I'm happy to report that no dogs, or porcupines, were injured in the making of these photos.





Sunday, March 8, 2015

Beachcombers

We recently went on a little excursion to one of the barrier islands off SW Florida's coast with visitors from 'up north'. The morning started off with somewhat unseasonably low temperatures and we tried to huddle down as the small boat whisked us across calm waters.



After taking 'the tram' (a pickup truck pulling a wagon) to a beach on the far side of the island we set up base camp for the day's stay. I'm not sure when this fellow arrived - in fact, he may have already been there when we set up - but he wasn't shy at all. I was able to walk to within a few feet of him as he posed to have his portrait taken. You might wonder how I know this was a male - any self-respecting female would have straightened her feathers before allowing a photo.




While waiting for the forecasted weather to arrive, we decided to explore a bit of the island. After following trails for some time we returned to 'camp' along the shoreline. By now the fog had crept in and covered the strait rather than giving way to the promised sunshine but we hardly noticed as we discovered some of the life forms along the shoreline and marveled at the power of the Creator.


everything fits neatly inside the protective shell including the eyes



this one looked ready for action as I stared him in the eyes




and these sea urchins looked like they would give an inattentive beachcomber a nasty surprise


Monday, January 19, 2015

A fair feather friend

First I want to thank all you lovely people who came by and left words of comfort and support on my previous post - they were much appreciated. I hope you'll excuse me for not having come by lately but my motivation was lacking. I'd always considered myself a fairly strong individual but Sasha's passing struck me (and my wife) particularly hard. I'm sure (or at least I've been assured) that time softens the sharp edges but for now some of the lustre has gone from the thought of going out on a photo shoot, alone. However, I still try to follow the ABCs of photography when we go out.

And so, recently we spent an afternoon on Boca Grande. The promised forecast of some sun and 'warmish' temperatures didn't materialize but I did meet an interesting fellow on the beach who had positioned himself closely behind a couple of fishermen. Unfortunately I had only taken a wide angle lens (17-40mm) vs the whole arsenal and so I had to rely on the stealth approach. You might imagine how hard that would be on a wide open beach. He seemed intent on watching the fishermen (in vain it turns out) for a scrap of fish to be thrown his way so I made it to within about 10' (3m for you metric types) of him before he decided I had encroached sufficiently on his margin of comfort. I had been taking some shots during my approach in case my next step would cause him to take flight.

At the 10' mark, however, he took a step away every time I took a step closer until he ended up standing in shallow water. And that's where he drew a 'line in the sand' apparently for when I tried to narrow the gap between us one more time he decided to leave for safer ground. I did manage to get a few shots of his getaway (which I cropped due to my focal length limitations). Check him out below.

where the 'stand-off' took place

arrivederci

Monday, December 29, 2014

The Saddest Decision ...

I'm writing this early because I won't be able to later ...

After over 13 years of love, loyalty, and companionship, the time has come for us to say goodbye to our beloved Sasha. I've been caught in a struggle between my head, which is telling me it's the right thing to do, and my heart which says we can keep looking after her for a while yet. We've known this day would be coming but I haven't been able to acknowledge it.

Sasha's spirit is still willing (and her 'attitude' is as apparent as ever) but her physical ailments have significantly impacted her quality of life. When I see her struggle to get up or hobble along for even a short distance or groan with pain when we have to roll her over to sleep, I know the time has come. When she looks at me trustingly with her big soft brown eyes or tucks her head under my chin when I sit beside her on the floor, my conviction wavers.

The wheels have been set in motion, however, and I have to keep telling myself it's the right decision. And yet ...

Come celebrate her life ... (I had earlier written 'commiserate with me' but I think it's more appropriate to remember how she's enriched our lives):