Saturday, March 26, 2022

The Drive, Part Two

We headed west and north up off the well-drained flat sand lands around Clarksburg that the apples like best, and came to this view.  You can see the Thornbury water tower in the distance, but it's too hazy to make out Georgian Bay.

You might think this is another younger apple orchard, but no it's not, it's a vineyard, only the third one I've heard of this far north.

Grapes like the hills up from the bay with their clay soils where cold air drainage helps prevent the worst of the frost.  There was a good crop on these vines last year.

We headed west and passed this neat barn quilt in bright colours.

And then we came to this snowbank, a huge one.  Most rural roads don't have much in the way of big snowbanks this year, but where the wind blows the right direction big drifts form.  Then when the plow comes by a larger than average snowbank starts forming.  Over the season those snowbanks in areas of constant drifting can get huge.

The view out the car window shows how tall it is, well over ten feet.  These are the spots where there can be a complete whiteout during a snowstorm, but that's another story.

We turned up the 7th Line and eventually crossed the Bighead River.  It is completely open now and flowing like mad.

At home snow on the front lawn had melted enough that the spikes of the Daffodils had come out of hiding.  These will have poked an inch or two out of the ground while they were still covered with snow.  Spring is not far off!

I saw my first Robin too, on the street out front, but before I could fire up my phone it had retreated to the peak of the house across the street.

Thursday, March 24, 2022

Went for a Drive

The other day we headed out for a drive over to Thornbury and came back, by the back roads.  It wasn't a long drive, but it was nice.  We hit the harbour first, and then came back past the apple orchards   I took too many pictures for one post, so I'll break it into two.

This is the mouth of the Beaver River, lots of water pouring into Georgian Bay, and one lone fisherman.

Even with his waders I think this would be pretty cold!

Won't be long now until they'll be unwrapping these sailboats, but for now the harbour with its floating piers is still frozen solid.  There were several boat owners there working on their boats.

Heading out of town from Clarksburg (we first had to stop at the big hardware store, Mrs. F.G.'s favourite store) we crossed the Beaver River which was rolling toward the bay.

These are the high density Red Prince orchards west of Clarksburg.  They're just getting to the age where they'll have a substantial crop.

Can you sense a slight reddening of the twigs as you look through the orchard?  We could, but I'm not sure it shows up on a photo.

No sign of enough staff from our evening care agency for tonight, and I'm worried about tomorrow night.  The girl on the weekend is more reliable.  

But I've been reading about the privatization of home care here in Ontario, and how service and treatment of staff declines once you have a corporation skimming off profits.  I've watched the CBC Marketplace expose, written them and heard back, and now I'm compiling information to understand the broader issue.  I thought we were just up against a poorly managed agency, but now I get the impression that we're up against a Conservative government's secret plot to make a profit off elderly who need care and the staff who provide it.

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Another Surprise!

We went for a nice drive yesterday, keeping our eyes open for Sandhill Cranes and Tundra Swans, where we've seen them before.  We were unsuccessful, but did enjoy the drive.  On the way though, I answered a phone message from the agency that provides my evening care.  Our regular Tuesday worker was off and they couldn't find a replacement.  

One of the still frozen  wetlands we drove slowly past.

Literally a moment later I received a call from the manager repeating that message, and adding that so far they have no evening worker for tomorrow either (that's today now)!  We already hire someone privately for Thursdays, so that would be three evenings in a row that they could not find a worker.  Now that's not the kind of surprise you want to hear!!!

And we only had someone Monday because another worker who had already worked a full day shift volunteered to come out again in the evening.  She had started at 7 that morning and saw me at 8 that evening.

What we don't understand is why they can't simply re-assign a worker from Owen Sound to come out here.  That seems to be something they won't do, or else workers have the choice of coming here or not - it does involve a 25 minute drive.  But when Mrs. F.G. was a hospital nurse, she went wherever she was assigned if they needed help on another ward, no questions asked.

A beaver lodge.

Apparently the failure to find a replacement puts them in violation of their contract, but there's no penalty attached to that.  There aren't even any records kept about the failure to provide services they are committed to, so it's impossible to evaluate how well they are doing what public funding is paying them for.

I can't tell you how difficult this makes things for Mrs. F.G., but we are both fuming mad.  We've been polite for a long time, but I'm not feeling polite anymore!

Monday, March 21, 2022

Surprise Surprise!

Wheelchair cushions should be replaced every couple of years or so, but they're quite expensive (up to $1000.00), so it's an important decision.  It's not just for comfort either.  As I'm paralyzed from the chest down, I theoretically can't feel my butt anyway.  But I do have a vague sense of feeling while sitting in my chair, and like all wheelchair users, I have a high risk for skin breakdowns.  One of the biggest risks is over my tailbone where the muscle mass between bone and skin is very thin and where my body hits the chair cushion.

So we had both an Occupational Therapist and a seating expert from the company that would supply a new cushion here for half the morning today, measuring, talking and explaining it all to us as they moved along.  There was fairly immediate agreement that my cushion needed replacing; after 2.5 years it was overdue.

But it's worth interjecting here to explain to you the bureaucratic process around this.  We have very little choice in this process, something we don't object to since the government is paying for it.  If the government is paying for it, we'll live with the process, though we do get some choice in the product, like what colour chair I want.  The chair belongs to the government and goes back to them when I'm finished with it.

Both my Occupational Therapist or OT (who decides on things like the wheelchair you need) and the company (which sells me the chair and cushion) are assigned to me, right from the beginning.  There's no such thing as deciding which vendor you'll turn to.  The government funding flows through a program called the Adaptive Devices Program or ADP (which deals with all adaptive devices, not just wheelchairs).

The OT fills in the application to the ADP, while the company rep provides the parameters of what's actually available in chairs and cushions that would fit.  Obviously it's important for them to agree.  The government will not pay the total bill, our insurance will kick in for part and we have to pay part as well.  And don't ask how much an entire new power chair can cost!

My current power chair, 
when it was still clean.
Mrs. F.G.'s purse is in blue.

So the discussion about my cushion went on for some time while we listened.  They quickly agreed it needed replacing, but they also agreed it wasn't fitting properly at all.  Apparently it's too short from back to front for my butt to fit properly, and it's now too narrow as well, since I've got fat and my legs have splayed out to be wider since all this started (your body goes to hell when you're paralyzed).

They then spent some time discussing how it could be made to fit, and to make a quite long story very short, they decided that it could not be made to fit in this wheelchair!  I need a new chair!

Needless to say, this was a big surprise for us.  We simply want to be sure my cushion fits properly, but if the cushion comes with a new chair attached, who are we to argue?  And the new chairs today are considerably quieter than this one, something that we will both happily welcome.  If you're interested they are recommending a Sunrise Quickie Q500m chair.

This will likely be a long process, regardless of how it turns out.  A wheelchair technician will come shortly and fit a new cushion in this wheelchair.  They are concerned enough to want that changed immediately.  Then the company will  put together a trial chair, and bring it with two or three cushions for fitting.  We'll look at all the 101 choices you have to make for the new chair and cushion to be ordered.  

In the meantime the OT is preparing and submitting the application to the ADP.  At some point these processes come together if this is all to be approved, and perhaps 3-6 months later I will get my new chair and cushion, - if all goes well between now and then.

I will keep you informed.

Friday, March 18, 2022

Spring Arrived Yesterday!

If there was a turning point in spring's arrival this year, yesterday was it.  The temperature hit 17°C and it was warm!  The snow just vanished, leaving the white stuff only in snowbanks and hollows.  A few comparison shots for you, all taken less than 24 hours apart, no further comments necessary I don't think.

It was an extreme and surprising 24 hours, and temperatures are back to 10° cooler this week, and down closer to freezing next week, but we will get there.  there are green shoots coming up in the garden too, already.  I think our heron was glad to say good riddance to being an ostrich!

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

My Facebook Account was Hacked!

Now I'm sure many of you don't waste your time on Facebook at all, but I must confess to enjoying it - mainly because I'm a member of the Grey-Bruce Photography group, the Beaver Valley Birding group, and the Bruce Trail Hiking group, as well as one that give me local news of Meaford.  So I get a continuous feed of interesting pictures.  The best way not to get hacked though, is certainly not to use it at all!

I got several messages from friends suggesting it had been hacked, and finally a call from my BIL made me think I'd better do something.  Then Facebook itself emailed me to see they'd had the problem reported and were working on it.  So of course I googled 'What do I do  if my Facebook account has been hacked?'

Well I learned a good deal in the process of fixing the problem, and I thought some of it was worth repeating here.

I should note that the hacker of my account had created a separate Facebook page purporting to be mine, but the login was slightly different.  And if I looked closely I realized almost all the pictures had not been taken by myself, though a number of pictures were of me, or of the waterfalls on the Stew Hilts Side Trail, a falls that by default is coming to be known as 'Stew Hilts Falls'!  Most pictures I simply did not recognize.

The hacker did send out messages to some of my Facebook friends, but these were not malicious messages, nor were there any nude pix.  There was nothing malicious posted on the alternate page.

So here is the advice I found.

1. First, change your password, preferably to something strong, a password with at least one each of capital letters, numbers, symbols, and lower case letters, in total at least 10 digits long.  The trick is to come up with something meaningless to anyone else but easy to remember for yourself.

2. Don't post anything important on Facebook anyway, any important information, or any pictures of children (although this latter one is a choice, clearly it means a lot to some parents).  If you choose to do so, be sure they're not pictures that could ever be used on a child abuse website, and think about what your 12 year-old will say about their baby pictures when their classmates have found them on your Facebook page ten years from now!

3. One of the reasons Facebook is so dangerous is that often apps you choose to load on your phone give you the choice of creating yet another password or simply accessing it via Facebook.  This in turn means a successful hacker would have access to those apps, so be careful.  I have therefore decided to have a strong but memorable-to-me password for Facebook, but a simpler password that I use repeatedly for other unimportant sites that still demand passwords.

4. Protect your email and banking passwords above all, and be sure they are strong.  Those two are where a hacker could do the most damage.

They say you should change your passwords every 2-3 months.  So far I'm not likely to do that.  The next step up would be to use the first letters of phrases as passwords, and above that they say to use a Password Manager software.  I'm very hesitant to do that simply because I don't want to introduce something I don't personally understand. In the meantime I will stumble on.


It's certainly feeling like spring around here.  March here is the month when we move from all snow cover to none or very little, so the changes are coming fast now.  We heard a Cardinal singing for the first time yesterday, one of the distinctive sounds of spring here.  And we went for a nice drive today; the countryside is waking up.  The temperature is up to 8°C (46F) today.

Sunday, March 13, 2022

More Signs of Spring

Let's check out the Canada Geese on Lake Eugenia as we continue yesterday's drive.  Tonight is daylight savings time here, and next week the temperature is expected to rise right into the spring range.  It's forecast to be 12°C (53°F) on Wednesday and Thursday!  I can hardly wait.  Those rising temperatures are the real sign of spring.

To be honest there weren't many geese and virtually no ducks that we could see on Lake Eugenia, but this did seem to be Canada Geese central for those we saw.  Many of them are paired up, though of course not nesting, while the 'teenage' geese will wait another year to find a mate.  Since most geese stay together as a pair for life, I guess it's worth taking your time to pick a mate.

Are these three pair!  Probably, and what better sign of spring could you ask for?

These too, off by themselves, definitely were.

Leaving Eugenia we headed north and down into the valley, Kimberley in the centre of the picture.  From this angle it appears largely forested, but driving around it appears much more open.

North of the village, through the flat bottomlands of the river, the Red Osier Dogwood were turning bright red, another sign of spring we always watch for.

And finally the Black willows were turning an even brighter shade of yellow than normal.  We always watch the dogwood and willows as we drive around this time of year.

Finally it's over the big Algonquin Shoreline created during the post-glacial period about 11,000 years ago and back down into Meaford.  A thoroughly enjoyable drive and several obvious big signs of spring.

A few other signs of spring are less obvious, but still important:
    - stores are featuring displays of seeds for planting,
    - garden sections in the big box stores are being organized,
    - barbecues have been brought out to front and centre,
    - gardeners at home are scheming and dreaming about their plans for summer,
    - and maybe starting seeds indoors under lights or on a windowsill,
    - nurseries are getting in their stock and preparing for the later spring rush,
    - apple growers are finalizing their plans for the summer,
    - it's March Break this week,
    - churches are planning for Easter services,
    - the streetsweeper is being given a last-minute check (I hope!)
    - if you look closely there's a reddish hue in the trees,
    - buds are starting to swell and preparing to open,
    - the first Sandhill Cranes have returned,
    - owls are nesting in the woods, eagles usually in tall open trees,
    - Tundra Swans are moving north and may be passing overhead soon,
    - And above all it's maple syrup season in the bush and sugar shack!
        My favourite sign of spring!

You can find three posts featuring the Kemble Maple Syrup tour early in April, 2015.


Saturday, March 12, 2022

Signs of Spring

Yesterday we went for a drive down through the valley, stopping at Lake Eugenia.  Along the way signs of spring became more and more obvious.  The big one though is the heat of the sun and the length of daylight, and (though I can't quite believe it), this weekend is daylight savings time here.  That's practically the unofficial start of spring!

All these pictures are terrible frankly.  Something about the camera settings was way off, and the colour balance just isn't right - but the signs of spring is what we're looking for, and this is the first one, the Bighead River is open after spending much of the winter frozen.

We headed south up the Niagara Escarpment finding all the roads bare and dry, another sign of spring.

We also found all the little creeks were open too.  The first one here is Rocklyn Creek fairly hear its headwaters, draining northwest into the Bighead River.

A little further on and we passed Wodehouse Creek, this one draining southeast through the famous Wodehouse Karst and emerging from five different springs along several miles of the escarpment cliffs.  In a few weeks this will be totally flooded and raging downstream!

And when we got to Lake Eugenia the former meandering channel of the Beaver River was plain to see in the now exposed lake bottom.  A sea of stumps preserved underwater most of the year, ever since the hydro dam was built in 1914.  Ontario Hydro partially drains this lake in the fall to make room for the expected spring runoff every year.

Looking the other direction from the causeway the former river winds through the lake bottom for now, but soon the water will rise and this will look more like a lake.

The lake is pretty well surrounded by cottages now, many converted to year-round homes.

The little scruffy island was still there, as was the old stump.  Tomorrow a visit with the geese.

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Massasauga Provincial Park Canoe Trip

One more old canoe trip post before I start sharing signs of spring around here!!!  In 2011 we planned a trip around the lakes and inlets of Massasauga Provincial Park, just south of Parry Sound, Ontario.  This is a large area of lakes, islands and forests punctuated by only a few cottages and resorts once you get to the outer areas directly accessible from Georgian Bay.  It's now a provincial park, and today, a decade later is getting far too popular and therefore over-crowded in places.

It's more of that granite and pine tree landscape.  This is the first day or exploring on Spider Lake where we landed and had lunch overlooking the lily pads.

The exploring around the corners of the lake took us up some narrow channels!

But the highlights of this trip were the wildlife.  I spotted this big old Massasauga Rattlesnake curled up three feet off the path up to our campsite.  I really didn't think I should reach out and move that branch for a better picture!

And this big old Snapping turtle visited our landing spot every day looking for handouts.

And we spotted this beautiful Eastern Milk Snake on the rocks on a later day.

I enjoy evening paddles, often just by myself, as the light sets on the rocks.

It's nice to drift slowly so you can get a picture like this White Water Lily. 

We regularly heard the haunting calls of the Common Loon echoing through the lakes.

If we were lucky we might get pancakes for breakfast!  Ron is the author of Canoeing Ontario's Rivers and makes terrific flapjacks!.

I got far too many pictures of our last sunset.

But I was alone getting pictures of our last sunrise.

We packed up at the last campsite and headed back to our working lives.