Monday, November 19, 2018

Mystery on the Bay

Driving home from lunch out yesterday we drove down by the shore as we often do.There far out on the bay, was a shape we didn't recognize.  Unfortunately we didn't have binoculars, but I extended my lens to the maximum, and this is what I got.

What do you think?

Sunday, November 18, 2018

The Green Tree

One tree in our backyard (actually it's in the back corner of our neighbour's yard), remained green after all other trees in the area had lost their leaves.

 The Last Green Tree.

 A Faint Shade of Yellow?

Definitely Turning Yellow 

 Yellow Leaves Mostly Gone in one day of Wind.


Saturday, November 17, 2018

Lots of Snow Here

We're not overwhelmed with the white stuff, but we've had several snowfalls, and a period of above freezing temperatures, all in all resulting in 8 to 10" of snow.  Things aren't changing much, so I expect it will stay like this for some time, pretty typical early winter weather.

Friday, November 16, 2018


I've been surprised that both White-breasted and Red-breasted Nuthatches have been visiting out feeders.  They're such fun to watch because they walk upside down, down the tree trunks and the feeders.

We've often had at least one White-breasted Nuthatch visit our feeders, usually in a small flock of Chickadees.  They're a really distinctive grey and white bird and are usually seen upside down.  Their enlarged and reversed hind toe helps them hang upside down.

Like chickadees, they take individual sunflower seeds and hammer them open to eat the good part.

They also have a distinctive call which is easy to recognize - a nasal 'hank, hank'..  During summer you're more likely to hear them than see them.

The Red-breasted Nuthatch is a bit smaller, with a very distinctive eye stripe and rusty brown colour underneath.  We have seen them much less frequently, as they inhabit coniferous tree stands.  We do have numerous blocks of conifers within sight though, so maybe that's why they are visiting.

Like the White-breasted Nuthatch and the Chickadees, they carry seeds away and hammer them open.  We actually have a pair of each species visiting this winter, a highlight of the brd watching season so far.

Linking to:

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Beyond the Wheelchair III

I did get out for coffee today with a couple of friends.  We're training 2 or 3 friends to latch me safely into our wheelchair van, giving me more drivers to call on for outings.  The downtown sidewalk had been plowed, but that still leaves an inch of loose snow/ice to drive through.  No problem for the wheelchair, but guess what once I get home?

Sidewalks here are blown clear by a snowblower that can also scatter grit.  So yes, by the time I got home I was leaving a trail of melted snow and grit through the kitchen and into the living room!  The challenges of using a wheelchair in the winter.

Any suggestions for handling that one?

Some of you asked about the library aisles between the stacks in yesterday's post.  In fact Meaford is getting a new library next year, so a solution is in sight.  I've already expressed my concern, and been assured that all aisles in the new library will be wheelchair friendly.

There are numerous challenges of a more personal nature, which I'm not going to comment on, but life is far more complex than just the fact I now use a wheelchair.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Beyond the Wheelchair II

Disabled parking spaces are only one minor irritation for wheelchair users.  Let's acknowledge first that there are a lot of ways to be disabled, some of which are not visible.  There is a wide variety in mobility for different wheelchair users too, from those completely paralyzed to those who are elderly and need a cane to walk.  So someone might be using a disabled parking space for several different reasons.

Beyond parking though, there are the issues of steps, doorways, aisle widths, and so on.

Unless there are ramps, if a building has steps, a wheelchair user can't access it.  A helper may be able to pull a manual chair up one step at a time, though that can be dangerous for the rider if anything happens.  But an electric chair like mine weighs 300 lbs.  Add my own weight, and this chair isn't going up any steps!  This means you can't easily visit any friends who live in homes with outside steps.

You can't always put a ramp anyplace it's needed either. For example to get up to a front door with a 6" step, I would need a four foot ramp, but I'd also need four feet for the wheelchair to get started.  This is just too tight for safety.  So I'd like a 10 foot wide front porch.  Ours is only 6 feet.  On a related issue, I expect few people give any thought to a second exit in case of fire, but we put a ramp out onto our deck and from there to the grass.  (We have a very low deck, and we did have a house fire).

Once you head inside, doors need to be about 4" wider than the wheelchair, and that's a very narrow minimum.  Even doors that are wide enough may require an immediate sharp turn.  Ideally outside doors need to be 36"; ours are 31" - no wonder there are two big chunks out of the wooden door frame!

Door thresholds are a challenge too, because they can throw the wheels of the chair sideways.  We've had to put several mats down at the door I use to go outside in order to get a smooth passage.  Commercial door thresholds are usually better.

Once you get inside, you have to able to access things.  Our library has an excellent wheelchair entrance, but the stacks don't allow for wheelchair turns at the ends of the rows.  I had to back up 20 feet with only an inch or two to spare on each side.  You really feel trapped!  I've been in stores where you can only get down the main aisles, let alone reach clothes on hangers for example.

Restaurants are a special case.  We've been in several, and had no serious issues, but usually the aisles between tables are not wide enough if other tables are occupied.  And both the rear wheels and the headrest mount on my wheelchair stick out behind my chair, ready to trap any waitress who isn't watchful enough.  Hence my smiley face.

That gives you a rather disorganized taste of what I've been thinking about on our recent excursions.  Overall I've been pleasantly pleased by the access we've found, and by the helpfulness of strangers.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Beyond the Wheelchair I

As we adjust to our new (disabled) life here in Meaford, I'm quickly learning all the things that are involved in living in a wheelchair.  Virtually all the friends we run into say something like:  "You're looking great!"  It's nice to have such a positive reaction, but in fact it's all very difficult, challenging and demanding.  I'll try not to sound too negative, but every now and then I'll point out a few of these challenges.

Disabled parking spaces are one issue, though a fairly minor one.  Many of them are not wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair and side-loading van, which requires about 8 feet of space beside the vehicle.

This is the truck beside us when we were out yesterday, about 3 feet short of the space I'd need to unload.  We end up backing out and blocking the aisle while I get loaded.  This says nothing about people who don't have the permits to use these spaces in the first place.
So next time you see one of these, think about those of us, like me, for whom it makes a difference.  This one is in Collingwood, ski runs in the distant background.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Northern Cardinal

A couple of days ago we finally saw a bright red Northern Cardinal outside the back window visiting the feeder for the first time.  With their bright red colour (for the males), cardinals have been an iconic winter bird to see here in southern Ontario for 2 or 3 decades as their population has expanded.

Cardinals are found throughout the eastern half of the United States, but their Canadian range only extends to southern Ontario and a corner of Quebec.  Among bird watchers, it's the bright red males that get the attention.  Their strong piercing whistle in the spring is easily recognizable.

They're  one of the birds that inhabits urban and settled landscapes, and they also do not migrate,  In my experience they like some dense evergreens for shelter like planted pine and spruce trees.  With those available (there are plenty around here), you see Northern Cardinals all year round.

I'm hoping the cardinal will visit us more often during the winter.

 And down around the corner the roof is now on the house, though I'm afraid the picture is blurred.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Veterans' Memorial at Parkwood

In addition to the indoor memorial I featured yesterday, there was a striking outdoor memorial to veterans on the grounds at Parkwood.  From my window it looked a long distance away, but in fact it was just on the far side of the gardens.

The memorial was a 6 column rotunda on the top of a small hill.  I was told it was a popular site for wedding pictures, but was unpopular among resident veterans because it was hard to get too.  (Most of them, like me, are in wheelchairs).

The distant view from my window.

There is a clear symmetrical design to this monument. with a semi-circle below featuring an inscription that reads:

           "This monument is dedicated to the veterans of World War I, II and Korea who
             received treatment and care on the grounds of Westminster Hospital."

Directly behind me when I took the above picture is this small fountain. I often sat here and enjoyed the sound of running water (and a spot in the shade).

The most surprising thing about this monument is that I could find out nothing more - when it was built, why, by who?  It was so striking as a memorial, but no information was available at all.

Here in Meaford, this is the memorial to veterans, today surrounded by wreaths laid this morning.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Remembrance Day

Tomorrow is Remembrance Day here in Canada and other Commonwealth countries.  in the United States it is Veterans Day.  This year I'm struck by the time I spent at Parkwood Institute, which is in part a veteran's hospital, especially for vets from the counties of southwestern Ontario.

Inside the main entrance serving the veterans' wing of the hospital is a long memorial display on one wall.  Central are the symbolic poppies, the cross, and the well known poem by Sargeant John McCrae, 'In Flanders Fields'.

Our children lived around the corner from John McCrae House, now a museum, and went to John McCrae School, so the poem and the person have a special place in our thoughts.  The poem was written during WWI, the end of which was 100 years ago.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Amorous Squirrels

The only wildlife I see here are Eastern Grey Squirrels.  People have reported both White-tailed Deer and Red Fox out on the golf course, but I haven't seen any.  Thank goodness I have a variety of birds to watch for.

Virtually every day one or two Grey Squirrels spend time in the backyard, mostly gathering seed under our bird feeders.  In between feeding they race up and down around the tree trunks.

Most of them are Grey Squirrels, but we see a few of the black colour phases too.  They are the same species.

Just by chance one day I spotted these two squirrels, doing their best to ensure the continuation of the neighbourhood squirrel population.  The kits will be born in early spring.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Start with the Roof!

If you've read this blog for awhile, you will remember that the builder here builds from the roof down.  He builds the roof first, sitting directly on the foundation.  He then brings in a huge crane and lifts the roof aside.  And a week later lifts it back onto the walls.  He argues that its both safer and cheaper.

There are three foundations already in place which he is hoping to finish over the winter.  Here's the roof, almost completed, sitting on the first foundation.

I came by a few days later to find they had brought in the crane and lifted the roof off, setting it aside for now.

They were securing the crane ready to head back to Owen sound.

I'm always intrigued with the mechanics of this enormous crane.  It extends 150 feet into the air in 4 huge sections.

Left behind is the foundation, ready for the walls to be built.  They're doing that now.

Just to remind you, here's part of our neighbout's house being lifted into place last year.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

The Leaves Have Fallen (Almost)

It takes a brisk wind to bring down the last of the leaves as fall reaches its end.  And yesterday brought that wind, as a weather front went through.  We actually had a wind warning.  If you mark the end of the season by the end of fall colour, this is it.

The leaves are totally gone from our trees across the back.  The tree on the right, on the back corner of our neighbour's property, is the last one with leaves on.  But suddenly half of those are gone. 

And here is that lone sugar Maple out on the golf course - compare this to the post on Monday last.

Soon our world will be grey tree trunks and branches silhouetted against the sky.  November is here.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Changing Moods of Georgian Bay

We headed to Owen sound today to get assessed at a private physiotherapy clinic (with positive results).  But on the way back to town we drove down to the bay to check it out.  A cold front had gone through, and we just caught an obvious change in the weather.

The skies were clearing and the water was blue to the northwest.

But the grey clouds still made the southeast view look like November.


The health care system here in Ontario provides a physiotherapist to visit you at home for the first 6 weeks (if it's  deemed that you need it).  But that service doesn't go on forever, and our 6 weeks have just about run out.  The idea is to give you time to find (and pay for) your own physiotherapist.

Before leaving London I had been referred to a Physiotherapy Clinic in Owen Sound where there was a physiotherapist with some neurological training who could deal with a spinal cord injury.  We were very impressed with our first visit.  She actually had me moving my leg a fraction of a millimetre.  This is hard work!  I expect I'll end up going twice a week, at least until winter sets in.  I hope it brings me to be able to transfer without using a sling and lift.  Positive progress anyway!