Category Archives: Odds & Ends

Hey, there’s a whale on the beach

So what do you do when an 81 foot dead, potentially explosive whale washes up on the beach in your town? It happened in Trout River Newfoundland. Who knew that beached whales were explosive? Not me. It presents a problem for the town. Nobody wants to be blown up by a stinky rotting 81 foot blob of fatty flesh. Moreover, it’s going to get stinky in Trout River. At the same time, not many towns can boast of having this amazing creature on their beach. It seems townspeople would like the skeleton – what a great attraction for the town. Now how do you get from current state to clean, well-preserved skeleton? Whatever happens I hope the folks who live in Trout River are the eventual winners in the whale sweeps.



Right now our neighbourhood is being visited by squillions of little black flies. I think they’re aquatic, because the closer you go to the water the more there are. My guess is they are some kind of true fly, what fly fishermen would call a midge. They come every year but this year the quantities of them are just silly. It’s a challenge to avoid breathing them in or ingesting them. This morning it was no big deal because the swarms of insects were high, well above my head. This evening they started at the ground in swarms that stretched to the sky. Fortunately, they don’t bite, so they’re a minor irritant. As a plus, there are a lot of birds out there making a living off those bugs.


When spring really starts….

In our lakefront Toronto communities, the change-over from winter to spring and from fall to winter is marked by the local sailors taking their yachts out of the water before the freeze and putting them back in when the idea of sailing again becomes palatable. The cranes were out the other day and the harbour is already full of (dare I call them) boats.

Need more days in the week please….

I completed several paintings I had on the go during the first couple months of the year, in preparation for my exhibition Paintings from the Lost Forest, which opens up at Yumart on Saturday afternoon. My little basement studio looks empty with the works out of there.  There are 16 paintings in the exhibition, all small paintings, many of them very new. A couple of them are barely dry. It’s time to take a break from painting for a couple months to work on several other things I have going. This is troublesome, as I have some ideas floating about my skull for approaching a new series of paintings.

Next up, we have three commissions for mosaics set to go, and we’re working on some initial preparation for all of them. Two are birds, a blackbird and a cardinal, similar in approach to our previous bird mosaics. The other is a large garden bench, a project we are cooking up with Ruth Arnold, a wonderful wood carver, which will incorporate stone, wood and mosaic.

Meanwhile, I have to squeeze out a little time to get going on some banjo necks. I’ve been planning to make a gourd banjo or two for some time, and as well, there is a plan afoot to make a pair of salad bowl banjos with my friend Jamie. I have a nice piece of oak for the necks, thanks to my friend Chuck, and I’ll buy some specialty woods for the fingerboards.

Playing banjo is one area in which I’ve been very disciplined. I try to practice every day, even if it is a short practice (years ago when I was learning one of the sword tai chi forms, my teacher would say, “touch your weapon every day”….it applies to banjo too), and some days I’m getting an hour or more practice time in. I think the work is paying off quite a bit as I’m playing with more confidence as I develop some technical chops, bit by bit. In June, I’m going to the Midwest Banjo Camp for a long weekend of banjo immersion. That will be a great opportunity to start playing with other people.

I’ve been working in spurts on a novel for some time, which is suffering from my inability to find sustained periods of time to focus on it (not to mention the fact that I’ve never written one before). I’m hoping to complete a draft of the whole story this year, even if that means I still have lots of revision and rewrites to go. That’s an arbitrary deadline, which I’m sure I’ll try to talk myself around at some point.

All this and trout season opens up this weekend, and two or three weeks after that, we’ll see if this long winter of ours helped or hindered the morels this year.

I think we need an extra day each week. Let’s make it a weekend day so every weekend is a long one. I’ll pass the sign up sheet around….