Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Great Front Yard

Our Muskoka chairs on the riverbank.
How was my day? You are a darling for asking.
I almost didn't go to work today because I still feel like crap on a stick, especially since I'm awake half the night gacking and coughing out lungs piece by mucousy piece. I decided to go, though, because I am a responsible employee and I was needed to get the paper to press on time. 
So I went, all crappy and sleepy and crusty, and I put out deadline fires and I got the paper out the door with only a few minor heart attacks, and then decided I would go home. The hard part of the day was over. I had done my heroic duty and, if I stayed, I'd just be filling in time.
I had my coat on and was saying adios to my workmates and along comes the Big Cheese and he wants to talk about something. As luck would have it, he's the same guy who chewed me out about my attitude about a month ago. I thought, "Oh, man..." and considered staying to discuss whatever it was he needed to talk about. Then I came to my senses, told him I was sick and I was leaving .... was it something we could talk about tomorrow morning? Oh yeah, he said, no problem, but he had that look on his face. 
I hate that look.
It means, "no problem," but it's saying, "really? You're going home when I, your big boss, want to talk about something?"
He had no idea I had already made sacrifices all day in order to get the paper done, even to the point of calling a customer to make a last minute ad change, which is way above and beyond my regular call of duty.
Regardless of the look, I went home, trying not to feel like I had done something stupid.
Ah, but the drive, the beautiful, beautiful drive, made me feel a whole lot better.
The skies are brilliant blue today in my part of the world. The evergreens are piled high with fresh, powdery snow and the birds are singing. The river is finally starting to freeze: in parts it has clear sheets of advancing "glass" ice; in other parts it is open water with what looks like thick water, or jelly, forming as it goes. The sun sparkles dark blue on the open water. I cross the final bridge, the old black iron bridge on my way home and I feel the stress rolling off my bones with each turn of the wheel.
I go in the house to grab the camera, not even put off that our bored dog has gotten into the bathroom garbage and strewn embarrassing things all over the house; not even put off that the same dog has helped herself to the kitty litter buffet and dropped several choice chunks on the kitchen mat.
I ignore all that, close the door to the house behind me, and go out to the river, where I bask in the sunshine, take pictures of snow falling in the forest and chickadees as they frolic at the feeder.
These are the photos I took, along with some photos Dave and I took on the weekend. The weather on the weekend was mild, rainy and foggy so the photos aren't great, but I think you'll appreciate the wildlife we saw in our small, beautiful chunk of the world here on the Muskoka River.

Look at the smile on this beaver's face! The beavers did find other lodgings for the winter and seem to be doing well.
She (he?) let us take a few photos and then decided enough was enough and swam away.
The chickadees are so fearless, they'll land on the feeder while I'm standing only feet away. My friend Deb and her family calls all chickadees "Todd." For some reason I think that's hilarious.
We see beavers all the time on the Muskoka River but don't see otters as often. On the weekend Dave managed to snag a few photos of this sleek creature, but we didn't want to get too close after hearing news reports of otters attacking people!
Dave also took this photo. The otter isn't the only wildlife in this picture – check out the mallard duck! It's rare to see ducks on our part of the river this time of year. Most have moved on, but this lonely guy was hanging around for some reason.
Dave always wants to cut down the dead birch tree hanging over the riverbank but I have a particular
fondness for it and will stand between it and his chainsaw if that's what it takes!
This is my favourite photo of this bunch – maybe it's one of those ones where "you had to be there" but a gentle breeze was blowing the powdery snow off the trees with rays of sunlight backlighting the beautiful event. To me it's like sheer curtains billowing in the forest.
Being sick for a week and a half, I was dying for some fresh air so, on the weekend I dragged a camp chair out into the front yard and plunked it in front of the bird feeders for a birdie show. I filled a bowl with chocolate ice cream (medicinal purposes for my sore throat) and enjoyed every single morsel of it – didn't even share one bit with Misty, our dog.
By the way, I am loving my new hoser coat, a Christmas present from my ex-husband. It has a matching hat, too.


  1. Love all the pictures that you posted Cathy. Especially the ones of the otter and the duck together, the best I think is of the muskoka chairs overlooking the river! :) Gotta say I think it's a bit wierd that your ex still buys you christmas presents. Just saying! ;)

  2. Hey, I'll take a present from anybody! I LOVE presents!
    Seriously, the coat is actually a gift from the kids. We buy presents for Doug from the kids. He buys presents for me and Dave from the kids. When they're older, they can do it on their own. He actually got Dave the same coat and hat.

  3. OMG! Those photos are gorgeous. How lucky you are to see all this out your front door. You sure do look cosy in that chair, eh. Mind if I pull up a seat for the birdie show?

  4. Oh, Cathy. I now understand, beyond any reasonable doubt, why you love that place. As a person who staunchly despises the winter season with every fiber of her being....(ahem...), I adore these photos! Every. Single. One.
    The first one and the shot with the blowing snow are to die for...gorgeous.
    I'm sorry to hear you've been sick though...I know how sucky it is when you feel like crap and still have to get the same amount of stuff done as a healthy person.

    I adore the chickadees...and your feeder is much nicer than my plain green one...although, I think both of ours are made to throw off those pesky squirrels. It's truly amazing how beautiful you've managed to make winter look. And don't LOOK sick.

  5. Amazing photos, Cathy. How lucky are you?? Thanks for sharing.

    P.s. Hope youre feeling better soon. Good luck with the big cheese! Don't take any shit!! :-)

  6. Beautiful! I wish my backyard looked like this. I also love the snow falling in the trees -- almost looks like a painting.

    Give your big cheese a big smile tomorrow and remember all the beauty you saw today while he talks. Just keep smiling. Peace...

  7. That does look pretty darned nice, Cathy.

    But how's your bathroom?

  8. Great photos! The second last one is similar to one I was trying to take but the sun was at the wrong angle. Glad that at least someone captured the beauty of back lit snow falling from branches yesterday.
    Hope his Cheesiness has something good to talk to you about. And hope you feel better soon.

  9. Great pics Cathy. I agree with the medicinal use of chocolate ice cream but I'm not sure going out in the snow to eat it is the best thing for your cold!

  10. The river certainly attracts its share of interesting creatures including the humanoid kind. Great snaps!

  11. Love your pics Cathy. Hope you are feeling better. See you this week-end? Love, Mom

  12. Cathy, These photos are beautiful... and the writing too. Nice to see that you are loving your place as much as I love my place. Congratulations on everything. Miss the laughs :O) jenn

  13. Laura - thanks, gorgeous!

    Laurita - I brought out another camp chair.. just waiting for you to show up! Even got extra ice cream!

    Kathryn - what an awesome comment! I LOVE long comments! Hey, you can't hate winter altogether - I do recall you loved that Christmas lighting display you came across. And that was outside, I believe. Oh, and YES, that's a squirrel-proof feeder. Best invention since the sunflower seed.

    David - So great to see you here! Thanks for the pep talk... no shit was taken!

    Linda - You know what? The big cheese didn't even bother with me today... he's one of those emergency types; everything's a crisis until he moves onto the next crisis, then he forgets what the first one was.

    John - Your bathroom would fit 10 of my bathrooms. I've seen outhouses bigger than my bathroom.

    Deb - Your photo of the orb in the forest was beautiful, what are you talking about???

    John - you sound like my mother! And that's a huge compliment because that's my mother's comment right below yours!

    Mom - Thanks! Meh, getting there, I guess. I hope to get by your place on Sunday, is that OK? I'll call ya!

    Jennifer - HOLY MOLY! I was so surprised and happy to see your comment. How are you doing? Still Huntsville's best and nicest and most gorgeous artist? Yeah, I miss the laughs, too ... (*breaks out into a bad rendition of Those Were The Days*) You haven't worked in any chicken shops lately, have you?

  14. Oh god, Harry, I meant that second John comment for you! Sorry! And thanks for visiting so often, my friend!

  15. Geez- everyone comments on the photos. Sure they are great but what about you? Are you feeling better? Did your boss get over the case of stink eye?

    Love the pictures. I'm no fan of Jack Frost but if you've got to have winter, scenery like this sure makes it worth the cold.

  16. Ed- a compliment from you, master photographer, on my pictures is very, very, very happifying. For those of you not from Muskoka, Ed has a fabulous photography website where he shows off a unique technique that makes his photos one of a kind. You can see his stuff here:

    And Gen - "stink eye" BUAHAHAHAHAHA! A perfect name for him! Today his Royal Cheeseness was directed in someone else's direction and he's over me completely so all is right in the work world. And no, I'm not really feeling better! This has been the nastiest bug EVER. Tonight I went to the pharmacy and bought a big bottle of codeine so even if I don't stop coughing, as least I'll be nicely buzzed.

  17. Hey! And we can call it a "peep" show. :) I'll bring more ice cream.

  18. Wow Cathy, those photos are stunning! I love the vibrant green on the duck, and even the snow, (I hate snow and cold, it's nearly 0 here right now w/ the wind chill). The hubby's always wanted to visit Canada but I've always said no way, not with all that coldness, but maybe you've changed my mind. :)

    I do hope you're feeling Much Better!
    There is something for you at my nonfiction site: ~ enjoy!

  19. Love those photos! Feel better sooner.

  20. It's easy to see why you love living there. The photos are beautiful, Cathy.

    Yep, chocolate cures everything, though in snow I might op for hot chocolate. ;)

  21. I hope you're feeling better cathy. I was gobsmacked with the pictures of snow on the trees and river. Gorgeous. Hilarious eating chocolate ice cream in the snow. At least it wouldn't have melted!

  22. God, what a stunning place to live!

  23. You live in a postcard!!! I'm so jealous!

  24. Ant - yup, but it sure hurts when they stamp you at the post office.
    Laurita - is it chocolate?
    Deanna - come in July! I swear, it almost NEVER snows in July! And thanks for the award!
    Tim - Awww, thanks.
    Jon - After the ice cream, I had hot chocolate for dessert.
    L'Aussie - I love the word gobsmacked. Gobsmacked, gobsmacked, gobsmacked!
    Icy - that's why they call it God's Country!

  25. I’ve tried all sorts of coughing syrups, believe me, but none of them helps. Even though Nin Jiom Pei Pa Koa does not eliminates the cough I like to stick to this chinese syrup I’ve been taking since I was a kid: Nin Jiom Pei Pa Koa. My grandfather is chinese, so I guess my mom got the advice from him. I was really surprised when I found that chinese market selling it here in Belgium. It does have a refreshing, soothing, sweetening effect…as long as it lasts…then back to coughing mode.


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