With a quack, quack here and a quack, quack there …

10-23-14

Well, at least the sun peeked out from behind the cloud cover this morning, so I was able to leave a little earlier for a walk and to brave the near-frosty temps. I had to layer up a little more, but luckily, we are heading into a warming trend over the next week. Today’s jaunt took me to the Harrison Street bridge at the other end of Lincoln Park. I was chatting with a jogger at Council Point Park about a month ago after he spied me sharing some withered-looking apples with the squirrels along the trail. We were talking about feeding the critters at the Park and he mentioned going to this particular bridge if I wanted to see where all the ducks congregate. I told him I had been searching for them since Spring when they all vanished and I presumed they had not survived our brutal Winter. Since our conversation I discovered a handful of ducks roosting on an old wooden log near the original alcove, but that’s it – there had been a daily gathering of at least 50 male and female mallards all last year. So, I trudged over to the borderline of Wyandotte and Lincoln Park via the bridge over part of the Ecorse Creek this morning to have a look. From nearly a block away, and even before I arrived, a cacophony of quacking filled the still morning air, so I knew I was in the right place. Despite the frosty air, most of the ducks were nose-diving into the chilly water, shaking their wings and tail feathers, then preening themselves right afterward. It made me shiver just watching them, but for them, it’s no big deal as the oil in their feathers keeps that cold air from seeping through to their skin and ending up getting soaked through. They were just happy to be paddling around with their brethren and enjoying a quick dip. I watched for awhile as they splashed away thinking of the expression “it’s just water running off a duck’s back”. I know I’ll make a return trip, but next time with a bag of bread in tow, to throw out to them once the air is much colder and that water gets a thin veil of ice on it. Some bread will be a welcome sight when they can’t feed on the usual Creek fare. So, I’ve found a second go-to place for my morning nature infusion, hopefully through the Winter months as well.

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All God’s creatures.

10-22-14

My morning got off to a rocky start when I switched on the kitchen light and saw a big brown spider skittering along the narrow ledge of the Formica countertop in front of the stainless steel sink. Well, that wasn’t good. I didn’t want to use a shoe on the countertop to smack him silly, so instead I spent a good 15 minutes hovering and hyperventilating nearby with five Kleenex tissues wadded up for “the attack”. It was a narrow area, and, if I missed and he landed on the floor, he’d be at large in the room where I would spend 95% of my day. Finally, I just gritted my teeth and went in for the kill. Gotcha! Then I ceremoniously wrapped that Kleenex and him in three Baggies knotting the end to ensure he wouldn’t further terrorize me. (we are nearing Halloween you know). Only then could I concentrate on making and eating breakfast.

Well, sunup is getting later every day, and today it was so cloudy that it took forever to be light enough to get outside for my walk. It was really too late to go down to Council Point Park, so I meandered over to Memorial Park instead to do several laps from Fort to Electric before heading home. It was beautiful this morning and I enjoyed strolling through the Memorial Park Pavilion that honors our City’s war dead. It is always peaceful there, but, suddenly, out of the corner of my eye I spied what I thought was a roly-poly Park squirrel ambling through the grass in front of the big church adjacent to the Park pavilion. My first thought was that whomever was feeding this furry friend, they were giving him way too many treats as it was really huge. Then it turned around and looked at me and I saw its big round face and realized it wasn’t a squirrel at all. (Also, no long furry tail was my second big clue.) This creature was big enough to go to work! It kind of gave me the creeps the way it stood up on its hind legs and stayed in that position, all the while staring me down, so I backed off and turned on my heel and resumed walking to the other side of Memorial Park. Later, when I got online, I Googled images of groundhogs, gophers and muskrats, the latter not impossible since people from these parts all know about Kola’s Kitchen, the Downriver eatery that was famous for their muskrat meals until they closed their doors a few years ago. No “muskrat love” going on there, that’s for sure, unless the diners were patting their bellies and smacking their lips after a tasty meal. I know it wasn’t a hedgehog but I thought this little guy was kind of cute so I snagged this stock photo to go along with this post since I didn’t take a picture of the mystery critter.

Next, I stopped to watch Samantha, or “Sam” as her owner calls her, playing in the schoolyard with her pet-parent. She is an adorable, small, mixed-breed dog and she has a basketball, almost as big as her, which she pushes around the schoolyard’s wet grass with her nose, yip-yapping in glee and simultaneously wagging her tail the entire time she is pushing it along. Sometimes she pushes that basketball too hard that it hits a curb and goes airborne, so she waits patiently, wagging her tail and “smiling” until it bounces back down and settles into place on the ground and away she goes again. I often see her and her owner playing in the schoolyard and he is laughing along at her antics, as do I. A few minutes of play on a sunny day … a simple little pleasure in a day so often riddled with horrible headlines and sad events. I often wish life was simple and sweet for us humans too.

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Making strides on an awesome Autumn morn …

10-19-14

It was crisp and invigorating this morning when I set out for Council Point Park. The wicked winds from these past few blustery days have whisked alot of the leaves onto the sidewalks and they were all curled up and crunchy when I scuffed along through them, now brittle remnants of their former beauty. The sunny morn with its brilliant sun belied the cold temps and the grass was still tinged with a wee bit of frosting. We sure came close to dipping down to the freezing mark last night. I’ll bet those runners were very cold at the 7:00 a.m. start time for the marathon. I glanced up at the sun after it glinted off my glasses, momentarily blinding me with its rays, and it warmed my upturned face. That felt so good and I wanted to stop and just bask in the sun. I looked for Ruby on her front porch, but she was absent again, though the big rocker hasn’t been hauled into the house yet signifying that she has shut it down for the season. Once at the Park, as I entered the trail, I saw Donna, the rollerblader, swigging from a bottle she had placed on a picnic table under the pavilion. That told me she had already been there for awhile. I almost didn’t recognize her as she was clad in long pants, a Sherpa jacket, muffler, earmuffs and warm wool mitts. I’m used to seeing her in shorts and a tee-shirt as she whips along the trail at the speed of sound, passing all us walkers by. We greeted one another, chatted a bit then started on the path together, with her skating more slowly and me picking up the pace a little to keep up with her. It had been one week since I was at the Park and my eyes were darting around for a wayward raccoon or deer lurking in the bushes, but there no critters crossing our path, save for a few squirrels who begged shamelessly for a treat to tide them over ‘til they could remember where they buried their treasured nut goodies. I’ll have to start tucking a Ziploc pack of peanuts in my pocket for my furry friends going forward … I forgot after I switched to my heavier coat. Donna and I went two times around the Park and I left to walk home and she was ready to take on another few laps before departing. As I headed home, I walked even slower to enjoy the kaleidoscope of colors in the trees that still sported their fine-looking foliage, and finished up by adding another five miles to my total for good measure.

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Another mist opportunity.

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“Oh bother” as Winnie the Pooh would say … though I hate to blather once again about the weather, it was another missed opportunity to go for a walk. Way too many years of trudging to school in the rain and then waiting on the bus during my years of going to WSU and working downtown really do not endear me to a rainy day. When it is an optional trip I’ll usually bow out. I sure am glad I was able to get alot of walking done earlier in this month, since I count on the weekends to bulk up the miles ‘til after the time change. Those pretty leaves that have been fluttering around the past few weeks are now glommed onto the sidewalk, along with their stems, and so you have to be extra careful not to go slip-slidin’ away and wipe out. It is a morning to stay inside, snuggled close to your significant other and celebrate this soggy Saturday and Hallmark holiday with him or her. Happy Sweetest Day to you and those who make you happy.

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Sojourn to Elizabeth Park.

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Another damp and dreary day – wherever does all this rain come from? But, while we Michiganders bemoan day after day of rain, in Montecito, California the drought has languished so long that the City has cut the allotment of water use by some 90%. It is so bad that some owners of pricey real estate have their water brought in by the truckload, at a whopping price of around $600.00 a tankful. Seems incredulous doesn’t it? So, while we’ll never get the prolonged California heat, nor suffer similar drought-like conditions, hearing of their plight somehow makes the endless rainy and dreary days just a tad easier to take. That said, the morning was not really conducive for walking and I was a little bummed as my boss was out most of the day today, so I had a little extra free time. My friend and neighbor Marge was headed to Elizabeth Park, camera in hand, undaunted by the dreary day, and she asked me to tag along, so away we went for a sojourn to the sticks at beautiful Elizabeth Park in Trenton. During the drive around, it was a feast for the eyes. The Park’s many trees were all so picturesque since Mother Nature’s paintbrush took some swipes and dabs at a plethora of their foliage, making them look like living stained glass. Mostly we saw ducks and geese. Well, as the saying goes … “it is weather for ducks”. Finally, a few slivers of sun shot through the clouds and brightened up the morning sky, and soon a gaggle of geese seemed eager to greet us. Maybe they thought they had the place to themselves today due to the inclement weather and were taken aback when we entered their personal space. At least they were photogenic, and not feisty!

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Well here comes trouble …

10-14-14

It sure was dark and gloomy looking this morning when I ventured out for a walk, albeit a short one, since it took forever to lighten up. I am looking forward to the time change and “falling back” on November 2nd to get out a little earlier for walks and errands. I stayed in the neighborhood, and it was an unremarkable trip, save for this peanut pal who piqued my interest. Evidently the peanuts that are doled out by us humans for cute antics like begging on haunches, or a few flicks of the tail as a greeting when you are nearby, sometimes fall short for our furry friends. Maybe they are bored with the same food every day and seek tastier treats to supplement their diet. I spied this little guy sizing up a pumpkin that was part of a homeowner’s harvest décor. As I approached him, he was trying to take a bite out of one side, no doubt thwarted by the thick skin, plus it had no cutouts in it yet where he could sink his teeth into it to rip it apart. Despair registered on his face, frustrated by his inability to climb inside and noodle around like he usually does, so the project was quickly abandoned as he scampered off seeking peanuts, a project he could readily handle. Just wait another week ‘til people start putting out carved pumpkins and those squirrels will be in their glory. It’s pretty hard to “squirrel away” a pumpkin … you guys had better stick to nut gathering instead!

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It’s Canadian Thanksgiving …

10-13-14

… and Columbus Day as well. There was no walk for this Canuck today since it was a soggy, drizzly early morning, so I decided to grab a little more snooze time. Instead of pumpkin pie, sleeping in was my Thanksgiving Day treat. For dinner, I’ll have a turkey sandwich and that’ll satisfy the holiday fare requirement for 2014. This is a picture of me proudly proclaiming my heritage sometime in the 90s. Unfortunately, my mom, who was a good half-foot shorter than me, cut off part of my head in the picture. I was originally planning to attach a photo of some Canada Geese grazing at the Park to this post, but after Googling around a little bit, I found out that Canada has no national bird, but the provinces each have their own representative bird. Since I was born in Toronto, Ontario, my national bird would have been the Common Loon. I really didn’t want the word “common”, nor a loony bird associated with me, thus this picture of myself in one of my favorite sweatshirts. Through the years, there have been alot of people that I’ve known, through work or school, that never knew I was a Canadian citizen. It is not that I am ashamed of my heritage – it just doesn’t come up in casual conversation anymore. But, back when our family moved here from Canada in 1966, my schoolmates teased me horribly about my Canadian accent and my proper Oxford English. So, I tried to say as little as possible and emulate my peers with their lingo and pronunciations. My mother, however, refused to acquiescence to anyone, and for the rest of her life continued to say words like “chesterfield” instead of “sofa”, “toque” instead of “cap” and “serviette” instead of “napkin”. I am more keenly aware of being a Canadian this week as I must renew my green card, something that now happens once a decade. Once upon a time, all we did was obtain a card from the post office and send it in to the government every January … that card merely confirmed that we were still living in the United States. Then, about twenty years ago, we had a form to fill out, special pictures to be taken and had to make a trip to the police station to have fingerprints done. From there we had to get validated at the U.S./Canada border. My fingerprints were too blurry to be used – way too many years of typing and, who knows … maybe even all the accordion playing. They had to be redone. It was a little embarrassing. The procedure next morphed into an electronic application and capture of vital info in 2005. Now, the entire process is done through the Department of Homeland Security instead of the Immigration and Naturalization Service. I applied a month ago because my card expires in February 2015, but I passed muster and got my appointment right away. I go this week to have my fingerprints, photo and signature captured electronically for DHS’ digital files. I also had to pay a $450.00 fee for the application and electronic capture. I have promised myself that I will become an American citizen before I have to renew my green card again. Since Canada is our neighbor, it is a shame that I cannot just become one of you without all this fanfare; after all … Canadian Thanksgiving and Columbus Day are always celebrated the same day – hint, hint.

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