Get Ready to Rumble

From Avalus, some action photos and a bit of humour to get the week started.

Hey folks, I just found this gem from 2017.

*read in a actionfilmtrailervoice*
Butterfly and Bumblebee Actionsequence! Rumble around a thristleflower!
Airing next Spring in a Field near You (again)!

©Avalus, all rights reserved

©Avalus, all rights reserved

©Avalus, all rights reserved

Thanks, Avalus. That was fun.

Identifying birds by sound…

… is like dancing architecture. Or something. Yesterday I managed to go for a walk, the first one this week. As I was standing in a clearing I heard a strange bird call, getting louder, coming towards me. Since it flew against a light sky all I could see was the silhouette: Small head, size a bit bigger than a jay, slender. Relatively small wings. And I had its call. If human voices are unsuitable for reproducing bird songs, human letters are so bad it doesn’t even make sense to get started. The best description I could give is ” sounds like your V-belt needs replacement” and if you put that into google you get 1.000.000 hits for V-belts.

I finally found a site with bird sounds that allowed you to browse by families and going from the size and shape I could finally identify it as a green woodpecker.

green woodpecker

Maybe it was even this fellow?

I also found out that the mysterious bird I’ve heard so often but never have seen is a black woodpecker.

Surrounded by Rocks: An Exploration Series, Chapter 10

It’s time for the next chapter in Nightjar’s series.

Chapter 10 – West Hill: A Tiny World, Part 1

I often amaze myself with the amount of time spent and number of photos taken without looking past a square meter of space. A love for macro photography tends to do that to people, I guess. Coming down the West Hill I noticed a patch of moss and lichen. It was a small patch, but with so many things going on. Enough to fill the last two chapters of this series. First, I was fascinated by tiny lichen.

©Nightjar, all rights reserved

[Read more…]

Jack’s Walk

Yesterday I posted a photo of some animal tracks I’d found in the snow that I thought might have been made by beavers. Well, they weren’t. Chigau sensibly suggested I google images of beaver tracks in the snow and I found lots of photos and none of them look anything like what I found. The photo below is one of the best images that I found and I’m sharing it in case anyone else wants to stalk beavers in the winter. They have 4 toes on their front feet and 5 toes on their back feet and the tracks are big, about 15 – 18 cm.

Well, now I know what to look for. Lofty and rq were both correct that the tracks I posted yesterday were made by rabbits. Here are a few more tracks from the same area. I think they’re also made by rabbits.

x marks the spot, ©voyager, all rights reserved

Jack’s Walk

Unidentified Tracks by the River, ©voyager, all rights reserved

What is that strange wide arc? ©voyager, all rights reserved

Thankfully, yesterday’s rain storm didn’t turn into an ice storm so all my beloved trees are safe. It did, however, get cold again overnight so there’s a fair bit of ice on the ground making walking a bit treacherous. Jack and I decided that the sidewalks were too slippery so instead we went out to the river to look for beavers again. I’m pretty sure I know where their lodge is now, but I couldn’t get too near it today because of slippery and unstable ice. We found quite a few tracks going to and from the river in the area where I suspect they live, including this set that had a strange wide arc in one place that I thought cold have been made by a beaver tail. I’m no expert on tracks and marks left in the snow, but maybe someone reading this is. Are these beaver tracks?

Teachers Corner: Bullies

Sorry for basically having played dead last week, but work was intense and long and I had a cold. I still do bbut I only feel like almost dying, not completely.

Sign for the national anti-bullying month

Ever so often users on FtB remember the bullying they received in  their school days and say they wished the adults back then had done something. Now, teachers are adults whose fucking job it is to stop bullying, and I can tell you, it’s fucking hard.

There’s basically two kinds of bully: the loud and violent ones and the smart and sly ones. You can now guess which type is easy to deal with. When somebody calls someone names or becomes aggressive, we can act quickly and without hesitation. You broke the rules, I saw you! Or heard you. Whatever. We can now both talk to the kid about why the behaviour was wrong and deal out sanctions. that kind of bully will usually go for the obvious low hanging fruit of calling kids fat, stupid, gay, you know the drill, and because they basically insult everybody, nobody will side with them.

And then there’s the smart bully and I can tell you, dealing with them is more than complicated. Smart bullies are like ice bergs: 70% is under water. The kid is rarely at the centre of conflict, but always in its periphery. They try to “help”. I have one who mysteriously showed up in a couple of “let’s try to talk about this and solve your conflict” meetings. And they often seemed so very reasonable, trying to mediate, until I and my colleagues caught up and excluded them from  such talks unless the conflict was especially about them.

They still and increasingly try to stir up shit by pulling strings and spreading fake concern about some thing or other.. They choose their victim very carefully. Usually it’s the simple kids with a short temper. Kids that they know will react loudly and who will therefore be in the wrong (yes, sorry, but you need to control your temper as well). Kids for whom the idea of a double take is one too many. And most importantly, kids who have little support in their peer group, though these kids will often do double shifts by being the victim one half the time and the partner in crime the other half of the time.

When conflict is finally here, the victims and co-perpetrators will wear their heart on their sleeves. The bully will operate with plausible deniability. They will even publicly condemn bullying, do a “I was wrong” speech and thus shift the responsibility. And as a teacher, my hands are pretty much tied. I cannot sanction behaviour that I cannot prove. I cannot sanction stirring up shit, the little needle pricks that will make kid A ill disposed towards kid B until the situation escalates over something minor. I cannot protect the victims who will good-heartedly and good-naturedly accept a fake apology only to be pulled into the next drama the very next day.

The only thing that can stop that kind of bully is a peer group that shows solidarity towards one another. It#s easy to call on adults to intervene, but reality is complicated.

Surrounded by Rocks: An Exploration Series, Chapter 9

Nightjar has more rocks for us in the next chapter of her series.

Chapter 9 – West Hill: Quartz

There are quartzites and quartz veins on this hill, but this path isn’t the best to see quartz veins. Still it is easy to find bits of quartz here and there. Quartz hunting is always fun (although if you are like me it tends to mysteriously fill pockets).

©Nightjar, all rights reserved

[Read more…]

Sex, Torture and the Nazis

Well, if you came here for sex, or torture, or Nazis, I am not sorry to disappoint you. I just stole that title from the CBC article featured in this post.

Instead, I want to talk about Norm Eastman. For someone whose art was so ubiquitous, there is surprisingly little information to find – some sources even label him an American artist. He is, however, Canadian – the CBC story is fairly short, but it provides interesting insight into an artist whose art is simultaneously recognizable and somehow obscure. I think part of this obscurity is due to the perceived anonymity of many cover artists, especially those working in pulp fiction (that is, not ‘literature’, according to… someone). Well, perhaps with time, notoriety – or at least, recognition – eventually follows:

Few people would have guessed that shy, unassuming Norm Eastman — born in St. Stephen [New Brunswick] and trained at Mount Allison University — was one of the top illustrators fuelling the fantasies of a generation of young men.

“We used to hide those illustrations under the bed or in the closet,” said Jane Eastman, Norm’s wife of 27 years.

“He thought it was funny. Norm probably was the most moral person I’ve ever known, he really was. It was a matter of being able to afford a loaf of bread and peanut butter to eat.”

Times sure do change. In 2019, original Norman Eastman illustrations can sell to collectors for as much as $15,000.

But how Eastman’s bodice-ripping illustrations made it from small-town New Brunswick into the hands of millions of readers is a story that remains, for the most part, untold.

Pause here, because I would like to point out that Eastman was certainly talented – I particularly like this one, one of his early self-portraits:

Portrait of the artist as a young man: a self-portrait in oils Norm Eastman painted in 1952 as his final project in the fine arts program at Mount Allison University. (Submitted by Owens Art Gallery ) From the CBC link.

I like his feel for light and shadow, all those detailed accents and reflections. His style here reminds me of someone well-known, but I can’t for the life of me say who. Anyway, moving on:

In 1958, Eastman brought his portfolio to the iconic U.S. artist Norman Rockwell, who said Eastman’s art was “of very high quality” and encouraged him to move to the United States.

Eastman took Rockwell’s advice — and in 1959 moved to New York City, where he rented a studio in an badly heated, roach-infested warehouse. Breaking into the publishing scene was slow going.

“He was very poor in New York,” his wife said. “It was really, really poor living.”

He got his first big break drawing for men’s magazines — but the subject matter was fairly predictable.

“They wanted beautiful girls, big bosoms and torture,” Jane said. “But never show the girl grimacing. She’s always got to be pretty.”

That last line there. How tenacious these ideas can be.

[Read more…]

Jack’s Walk

It seems that the normal weather for the month of March has arrived early in Southwestern Ontario. Overnight our temps climbed from -10ºC to +4ºC  and with the warming came lots and lots of rain. Overnight it was freezing rain, but by morning it was just a steady, cold downpour. All our snow is melting into compacted sheets of ice and the rain is just laying on top making everything slick and slippery. At least the ice isn’t coating the trees, for now anyway. The temp is expected to drop below freezing by early evening and we can only hope that the rain will stop before then. It grieves me to see the big, mature trees heavy with ice and the saplings and dainty birches bending like contortionists desperate to save limb and life.

After a careful assessment, Jack and I decided that the back yard was as far as we would venture today. Even explorers and voyageurs need a day off now and then. So, sorry, no photo for today. Just kidding…here’s a fascinating tree I found at our local park last week. It’s dying, maybe already dead, but it’s decay is beautiful. I apologize for the bad light, but it was a gloomy January day. I wanted to take an initial photo with the intention to return and perhaps make a study of it. You can click for full-size to see some of the patterns on the bleached and barkless areas. The next photo is a piece of fallen bark that lay at the base of the tree. I moved it to a rock to take the photo.

©voyager, all rights reserved

©voyager, all rights reserved

What Lunar Eclipse?

For a bunch of fanatics with cameras, I feel like we’ve really dropped the ball on this one.

To partially remedy the situation, here’s my favourite photo as posted by the CBC:

An aircraft passes the full moon as the lunar eclipse begins in Frankfurt. (Michael Probst/Associated Press)


(Turaidas Roze was a big thing in the ’80s and ’90s, with the lead singer becoming a very prominent figure in music circles even unto this day. This one’s called Dedication to Midnight, and is a break-up song – the chorus: Don’t come with me, I will go on alone; Who will accompany me? The Moon and the Big Dipper.)