Monday, August 31, 2009

doily spider at Spirit Mountain

After driving up Skyline Parkway, then hiking up to the top of the Bardon's Peak area of Spirit Mountain, we overlooked this spectacular view towards the city of Duluth. You can see the road in the foreground. Only two cars passed us on our way up, some sightseers with California plates and a police car. After this point, during the winter this road is closed to cars. I think snowmobiles use it, though.

Looking towards Wisconsin, which is on the other side of Spirit Lake, which follows the St. Louis River, and then leads into St. Louis Bay, which opens to Lake Superior. That little island is Spirit Island.

A lot of folks have been here and left their mark on the bedrock.

Returning back to our car, I looked down on the path and saw this pretty doily web lying neatly on the red clover, with its weaver, a brown spider, waiting patiently for lunch.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Spiriting away to Duluth

When we were to leave Duluth this past Friday, where we (my husband, my middle son, and my nephew) had gone for a 3 day/2 night stay because my son had to write his GMAT tests for his MBA program, I opened the curtains to fog. The highway by our hotel had disappeared.

So, rather than lurch through the pea soup of the freeway, we decided to drive up Boundary Road, where the fog was less dense.

The same view as above, but the day before.

On Wednesday when we started our adventure to the US, after we showed our passports and told the US border control officer, like he asked, the names of all the places each of us had been to in the last year and why we went there, we crossed the US border and did what so many residents of northwestern Ontario do when they cross the border-- we bought gas at the Trading Post at Grand Portage. This vehicle pulled up beside us as we were pumping gas. Is this supposed to be some sort of joke? Redneck Safari?

While in Duluth, my nephew and I visited Hartley Park, which is a large nature reserve right in the city. We went inside the Hartley Nature Center to escape the drizzle. This is a view out the window towards the lovely butterfly garden that graces the front of the building.

We walked one of the many trails in Hartley Park, but because there was a light drizzle we thought we'd take a short one. It lead to this large pond. What's amazing about this pond is that it is hidden; behind the trees lie the streets of the city. When you drive up Woodland Avenue you haven't a clue that this pond lies behind it.

Some children were out fishing. They were part of a day camp, I think. They didn't seem to mind the soft drizzle, either.

The day before, while my son was writing his GMATs, my husband, my nephew, and I walked a section of the Lake Superior Hiking Trail. The path we walked is part of the Magney Snively Trail section, which cuts through a beautiful old growth mixed forest of white pines, cedars, oaks, birches and other trees. It was magical.

We stumbled upon the trail after driving up Spirit Mountain, an ancient site of vision quests and 'sky burials',

to explore.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

uusi haitari

Now, what might this be?...Well, it is how Urho transports his accordion from his back shed to the front of the Hoito to busk. He secures the accordion case firmly to his "rollo" walker, padding it with old pillows [which double for comfort during play], then wheels it out front to begin his shift of playing old time Finnish tunes to the folks walking in and out of the Hoito, or those just hanging around.

Urho just got this accordion yesterday. It's a Camillo made in Czechoslovakia, Handcrafted Exclusively for Canadian Accordion Institute Ltd by Deliscia, says the plate on the back. Urho can't believe his luck. He bought his new used haitari for $50 from another old Finnish fellow, Veijo. Why did he sell it? I asked Urho. Doesn't he want to play anymore?
"It's too heavy for him," said Urho. "And he has 3 accordions, so he sold it to me." Then he said, "I'm going to sit here and try it out." So, he sat at the picnic table my dad built that I had Hassan truck down to the Midsummer Garden, and played his uusi haitari. The wind was quite strong, but the sun was shining. Katja and I shoveled earth to make a new flower bed by the front steps of Kivela Bakery while Urho played Metsakukkia [Forest Flowers]

Not bad for an 87 year old man.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Sunday, August 23, 2009

ladies bells

An old rope covered in moss at the waterfront, found at the end of a small formerly off-limits pier. There's still a chain link fence to block access, except now there's no lock on the gate and it stands ajar. It's where an old rusty boat used to sit in the water. An old ice cutter, perhaps?

some wild sage grows beside the old railway ties in the area where not much grows due to, I think, a heavy creosote soaking about 60 years ago. There are no trees there. Only grasses, wildflowers and a few shrubs. After all these years. Maybe it was agent orange or his cousin, agent red alert, that killed the ground. For development. For progress at the waterfront.

A slab on the ground in the same dead zone. Just beyond it is a new sign: No Trespassing. Area under video surveillance.

A small paper birch with a skirt of pearly whites. On the hill underside of the overpass.

Ladies bells bent from the strong winds at night. In the morning, the ladies were all spent, having battled the winds and the rain all night long. The ladies bells grace the underbrush along McVicar's Creek path.

The tangled roots of a cedar and a birch on the banks of McVicar's Creek, with an edging of old rusty red pine needles.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

a mallard, a dead yellow warbler, a sandpiper, a pack of otters, and a mother merganser and her brood

sometimes life is a balancing act

you have to watch out or you will be eaten by others

but, still one must put one foot in front of the other and keep going

It might seem like it takes forever to get where you're going

but you otter be happy if you've got a whole pack with you

or someone to take care of you and to keep you safe

and it's nice to have a companion

although sometimes it's nice to sail alone....

Friday, August 14, 2009

squirrel star

Melissa and Jackson Brandt photo from The Toronto Star

This photo is so funny, I just had to share it. I've got a few squirrels that visit my backyard and they do funny things and really assert their presence, so I thought this photo-loving squirrel was so funny. This couple set up their camera and self-timer to take a photo of themselves when they were in Banff, Alberta, only to have this squirrel make itself the star.

In the Toronto Star article it says that "squirrel bombing" has started popping up, too. That is, this squirrel is showing up like a garden dwarf in travel photos...but in different more political contexts....

Monday, August 10, 2009

Canadian Sportfishing goes to the Israeli government of occupation


what does sportfishing in Canada have to do with the Israeli government of occupation? that's what I asked myself today.

I popped the tv on for a bit of respite after coming home from bicyling to the gym to do some weight training. I made a cup of Peace Coffee and a nice argula sandwich with Finnish Valio cheese on rye bread from Star Bakery, picking the arugula fresh from my back garden. I made a bowl of fresh fruit salad with peaches, bananas, and fresh raspberries from my back garden. I just wanted to sit and enjoy my breakfast....and did not expect to get angered from watching a show about fishing! Fishing! So, what could a girl do? I got up, opened my computer and sent off a comment (and email) to Italo of Canadian Sportfishing. The comment is waiting moderation; who knows? it may not get past the moderator of Italo's blog. Dear readers, find what I wrote below:

Hello Italo,

I watch your show Canadian Sportfishing on occasion because I enjoy watching it for entertainment, for relaxation and because I like fishing and like to pick up new ideas.

What I didn't expect was to feel upset, shocked, and outraged from watching a fishing show on tv.

Your recent show on TSN on Canadian sport fishing in the state of Israel came on and made me thoroughly well as angered. Are we watching a show on Canadian sport fishing or are we watching propaganda for the Israeli government of occupation? Is Canadian Sportfishing playing partisan politics? I thought your show was about FISHING, mostly fishing in North America. What does normalizing the state of Israel and helping to neutralize its image and reality of military aggression have to do with a Canadian sport fishing show? Who funded this program and your trip there? Is it part of the Israeli government's PR attempt to change the negative image that Israel holds in the eyes of the world? Was it paid for by your Zionist friends and supporters? Is Canadian Sportfishing reduced to pandering to foreign states with a record of non-compliance with the Geneva Convention and with human rights abuses, including war crimes?

What other countries will Canadian Sportfishing go to in order to help nullify their governments' bad reputations with human rights?

I am shocked that fishing has become partisan politics. Shame on you. Did you forget that the land and the waters are Palestinian? The much of the land and the waters and places, such as Jerusalem, are occupied territories? Stolen by the state of Israel in 1967? Jerusalem is Palestinian. Where was your recognition of the Palestinian people?

I am dismayed and shocked about your show's blatant ignorance of the contested politics of Israel / Palestine, and its support for the state of Israel at the expense of the Palestinian people who continue to suffer. Many Palestinians are not even allowed access to water never mind fishing! The people of Gaza are STARVING because of a blockade that does not allow food in. Yet you dangle fish from the Red Sea as a fun hobby and past time to take up. Did you forget to mention that in your "sport fishing" episode in Israel? that Palestinians are excluded from this?

I am shocked about your show's support for the state of Israel, and won't be watching it anymore, nor recommeding it to my friends and contacts. Indeed, I will let them know about your pro-Israeli stance.

Friday, August 7, 2009

some windows I saw on Solidaire in Beirut

Window shopping. Upscale shopping is part of going to Solidaire. A fat wallet is helpful for those who are doing more than window shopping.

A must stop: house of Arabian perfume. Abdul Samad Al Qurashi House of Aoud, Amber and Perfumes

The Arabian perfumes are much better than the branded ones.

Dad and son swim shorts for the many private swim resorts, hotels and clubs.

Tv screen in front of Costa Coffee. Tennis player Maria Sharapova at the French Open.

shoes, handbags and necklaces

dresses, handbags, shoes and necklaces

shoes. There is no shortage of shopping in Beirut. Capitalism and consumer culture thrive.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

my visit to Al-Amin Mosque in Beirut

One day when I was in Lebanon we went to Beirut

One of the things we did that day was visit the Al-Amin Mosque in the centre of Beirut. This Ottoman style mosque was built by Rafik Hariri, the former prime minister who was assassinated in 2005. It was finished in 2005 but opened in 2008 due to troubles.

You can easily find the mosque as it is huge and its blue dome and minarets dominate the sky. It is also close to the old Roman ruins, which run along Saint George's Maronite Cathedral and Solidaire, a well-known pedestrian centre with much to see and do.

Of course, to enter the mosque, all women must wear hijab. This time I got a black polyester outfit; at the Taynal Mosque I was given a bright pink slippery one to wear. Either way, with slippery straight hair such as mine, constant vigilance must be kept up to prevent the slipping down of the scarf or hood, as the case may be. This time it was a scarf, separate from the dress. I am 2nd from the right. I am standing with my neice and on my other side, my friend, Rita, and her daughter, Mira. Rita lives in Canada, but is visiting her family in Beirut this summer. You can see the Qiblah wall behind us, with the Minbar and Mihrab.

The mosque is stunningly beautiful.

The detail is dazzling.

The underneath side of the blue dome.

The central chandelier is the size of a crystal spaceship.

Everywhere you look you are awed. The architecture of mosques and the designs within are scientific / artistic means that create a space between earth and heaven.

The Minbar is the platform used on Fridays for the khutba, the Friday sermon.

Midpoint of the wall facing Qiblah is the mihrab, a niche. The mihrab of the Al-Amin Mosque is, like all mihrabs, very beautifully decorated. The Qiblah shows the direction that one should face to pray, as it indicates the direction of the Kaaba, the focal point of prayer for Muslims.

Getting down to ground level, the carpet is huge! The spots to pray are built into the design. The carpet was custom made in Turkey, and made of one piece, I was told. It seems unbelievable. How did they make such a huge carpet? How did they get it here? How could such a huge musallah (the prayer hall) be covered with a carpet that is one piece?

On the outside of the Mosque is the Martyr's Square. When I went to take some photos of the monument at Martyr's Square there was a group of skateboarders, looking very goth, hanging about by the monument.

Martyr's Square in 1982, the year Israel invaded Lebanon. 17,000 people in Lebanon were killed during the war. It was also the year my first son was born. My husband and I watched the horrors of the war on the tv every day. I remind my oldest son every now and then that 17,000 people were killed in his father's birth country the year he was born. Such is our chance in life that some give birth while others die.

Those bombed out buildings behind the Martyr's Square were torn down and re-built by Hariri. The new buildings retain their original look. It's Solidaire and it is beautiful.