Weird Fact Wednesday

As the news about Covid-19 continues to slowly improve, and lock down restrictions are being eased off in stages, many of us are starting to sigh a breath of relief. But we still need to take care. We must not rush this, because there is a strong chance that if we are not vigilant, there will be a second wave of the virus. History has proven this, and more than once. Plaques, fluxes, cholera outbreaks…we’ve had many.

Today, I thought I’d share a story I found online about Bram Stoker, and how a cholera outbreak in his mother’s home town of Sligo, Ireland may have been the inspiration for his famous novel, Dracula.

Stoker’s mother, Charlotte Thornley, had been 14 when the outbreak hit Sligo in 1832. Later in life, Stoker asked her to write down her experiences and memories. He was fascinated by her grisly account of the event, and even did his own extensive research into it. The horrific events that took place during that time are what they say fuelled Stoker’s imagination and brought about his famous book.

But, I’m not going to give away all the details. For those who are interested in a “darker” read today, here is the story… Stoker’s inspiration for Dracula

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To Grieve A Squirrel

* Warning: Today’s blog may be a little graphic for some readers. Please continue at your own risk, and have tissues close at hand.

I love animals. Especially those with four legs and covered in fur. Cats, dogs, even small critters like guinea pigs and yes, the lowly little squirrels.

I love watching their cute antics. I enjoy feeding them peanuts and training them to trust me enough to take them from my hand. I name the ones I can identify by their markings. They become my urban wildlife pets. Especially lately, where one day seems to blur into another, I get a kick out of sitting in my enclosed front porch, having my morning coffee while the “tree rats”, as I sometimes affectionately call them, entertain me.

And I hurt when I see one killed on the roads. Even if it’s not in my neighborhood, I feel sad for the little critters who don’t make it across the street. And I cringe when I see my furry little friends bolt across my street with a nut from me in its mouth. I’ve been laughed at for yelling at them to “get off the road!”

Lately, some of the young squirrels have been coming by. We know they’re babies because there’s a couple of spots where we know squirrels have been nesting. The younger ones are smaller and shy compared to the “regulars”. And the older squirrels will bully them too, often chasing them onto and back across the street.

That’s exactly what happened last night (Monday) as I was sitting in my porch, feeding the fur kids, and puttering on my laptop. I had watched one of the grey squirrels chase the baby black one, who ran into the road. It then found something interesting to snack on, and sat there. A few seconds later, to my horror, a black pickup truck came tearing around the corner and ran right over my little friend, who didn’t have a chance to decide which direction to run. The truck didn’t even attempt to slow down, and kept up the same speed even after hitting him. I jumped out of my chair, yelling and cursing. I’m sure even the people in the noisy truck heard me. Redneck so-and-so’s! I was, and still am, livid!

But it was over. With misty eyes and shaking hands, I went outside and pulled the little critter up onto the sidewalk by his tail. I didn’t want him to get mangled even worse. I apologized and stroked his little head and back, even knowing he was already gone. (Eric then got rid of the body for me). Sitting here writing this, tears are once again streaming down my face.

Some of you reading this may think I’m soft, or stupid for grieving for a squirrel. There’s loads of them around. They’re just urban pests, right? Wrong. They are little souls, each and every one. This world is a cruel and harsh place. If we can’t love the creatures who share it with us, what does that say about humanity? Here we all are, trying to survive a global pandemic. It breaks my heart to think that we’re going to come out of it still with zero respect for Life. When are we going to learn to take better care of ourselves, each other, our planet and all of the creatures we share it with?? Just a little food for thought….

And to the person driving that black pickup truck, I have NO kind words for you. I hope you are haunted forever by all the critters you have run over. Including my Baby Blacky, may he RIP.

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Flowers For Hummingbirds

A few days ago, I wrote a piece about butterflies. Today I’d like to feature my other jeweled favourite, hummingbirds. I always feel privileged when these little beauties pay me a visit.

Male Rubythroat Hummingbird. Photo copyright ThruJensLens Photography

Here in Southern Ontario, we usually only have one variety of hummingbird visit us, and that is the Rubythroat, although I have heard the odd story of other varieties in the extreme south of the province. But we are just too cool (temperature wise…) for the more exotic varieties of hummers.

A couple of weeks ago, I broke down and purchased a lovely new hummingbird feeder, which we hung on the front porch. I also filled my two flower pots, in hopes of attracting a hummer or two. Unfortunately, I am still waiting. I have been told that if you don’t hang your feeders before the hummingbirds start coming North, that you will not get any all season. I don’t necessarily believe that, because I have hung feeders well after their migration time, and still had little feathered visitors. Up here, the hummers are usually arriving around early May, depending on the weather patterns and temperatures. I hung my feeder just after the May long weekend.

Hummingbirds are attracted to certain plants, and love the colour of red. So, that’s what I put in my flower pots. It’s also convenient that hummers are attracted to many of the same plants that butterflies are, because I planted my flower beds specifically for that purpose. But, if you’d like some help to pick out plants to attract hummingbirds, I have a very helpful link for you.

I love to sit here in the mornings, in my enclosed porch, writing my blogs, and looking up in hopes of one day seeing a gorgeous little hummingbird enjoying my sugar water. I never use the commercial “red stuff” that you buy at garden centres. The dyes are not necessary, or healthy for your hummers. One part sugar to 3 or 4 parts water is good.

So, without further ado, here is the link I promised about the plants to use to attract hummingbirds. Flowers For Hummingbirds

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Busy Days, Exciting Times!

I hope everyone is managing to stay busy, like I am during this lovely lock down. I know a lot of businesses are starting to open back up, but I also know a lot of people who can’t go back to work yet.

As you probably know by now, if you’ve been reading my blogs, I’ve been busy doing some writing. I have also been doing some online learning, here and there. There are so many great resources available if we want to expand our knowledge on a vast wealth of topics! Another thing I have been doing, is researching and designing my essential oil blends, and getting ready to sell them. Today I will be making a custom blend for a friend of mine.

This Thursday night (June 11th) on Facebook, there is a local online shopping market, and I am participating as a vendor in it. I am quite excited to be a part of this, because it is all local, home-based small businesses. I will post a link to it at the end of this blog. Also, we are very close to picking a date for the launch of the Choices For Change book on Amazon. I will keep everyone posted, as it will be very exciting for all of us!

I hope everyone has a great Sunday. Stay safe, and take care of each other! Here is the link to the online market. Please note, I am in Ontario Canada. I can’t ship products worldwide at this time… Thanks! Blue Hens Online Market

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Intoxication Is No Excuse!

I don’t usually get involved in political or ethical dramas, but I feel that our voices need to be heard on this one.

The Ontario Court of Appeals has passed new ruling that is absolutely outrageous! Intoxication is now considered an excuse for sexual assault. It doesn’t matter whether you are in a relationship, on a first date, a sex worker, trans female….it is BY NO MEANS ok for someone to rape you or physically abuse you.

People (and not just women) across Canada are horrified and outraged. There has been a public outcry for the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney-General to immediately overturn this decision. Luckily, we have the power of Social Media, and politicians on our side. Jill Andrew, an NDP MPP for Toronto–St. Paul’s, the Official Opposition Women’s Issues critic, is one such ally. She has started an online petition which is currently closing in on 120,000 signatures.

Please let your voice be heard in this matter! Go to the link below, and sign the petition. You don’t have to have your details shared publicly. It is hard enough for victims of sexual assault and violence to come forward as it is. Victims deserve justice, abusers don’t need more excuses!

Sign the petition here:

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(1) Try Not To Laugh Watching Funny Kids Fails Compilation 2019 – Part 2 – YouTube

Today’s Friday Funny is a compilation of kids’ fail videos. I remember my brother was more of a daredevil than I ever was. I wonder if our Mom ever cringed the way I do when I watch these video clips! Enjoy, and happy Friday everyone!

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Simple Kitchen Hacks | Mental Floss

I found this article, and loved the ingenious hacks and tips it provided. I hope you like them too!

From using cooking spray on your cheese grater to having dental floss on hand, here are some handy kitchen hacks you’ll wish you would have known sooner.

Source: Simple Kitchen Hacks | Mental Floss

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Butterflies: Nature’s Painted Beauties

Did you know that there are 302 species of butterflies in Canada? However, only five are native (endemic) species. Do you know how to tell if you’re looking at a butterfly or a moth? No? Then I shall give you a little butterfly education.

I shall start with the butterfly life cycle. It happens in four stages.

  • First, the female lays her eggs on a host plant. These plants are very specifically chosen for the needs of her offspring. The eggs can be laid individually, a few at a time, or in small clusters. They will hatch just a few days after being laid.
  • The next stage is the larval stage, or as we know them, caterpillars. These guys are hungry after they hatch. They can eat up to 20 times their own body weight! They also molt several times during the growth stage.
  • Stage 3 is the pupal stage. The caterpillar undergoes an amazing transformation into a chrysalis. Inside, the body of the caterpillar break down and reforms as a butterfly.This transformation can take anywhere between several days to a few weeks, but in colder climates, some butterflies spend the entire winter in this stage.
  • Ta dah..! And now, the beautiful new butterfly emerges from its chrysalis. It will hang on just underneath it and pump some fluid from its abdomen into its wings. It will gently fan them until they are dry and fully expanded, and it is ready to fly.

There are some other really interesting facts about butterflies I’d like to share with you too.

  • If you’re trying to figure out if you’re looking at a butterfly or a moth, look first at the antennae. Butterflies have slender antennae, while moths have one that look similar to feathers.
  • Butterflies do NOT form cocoons. Moths do, but not all species. Some moths will bury underground, or under leaf litter to form their chrysalis and spend their pupal life stage.
  • Did you know that butterflies taste with their feet?
  • Butterflies drink nectar from flowers, and sometimes the juice from fruits. They have a moth part called a proboscis, which is similar to a straw. When butterflies gather together to drink from a wet area, it is called a “puddle party”!
  • Male monarch butterflies can be identified by two black spots, one one each of the lower wings. I did not know this until recently! See photo below:
Male Monarch butterfly. Photo by Mike Hodgson

An acquaintance and fellow photographer of mine, Mike A. Hodgson, took this lovely photo of a male Monarch. Can you see the two black spots I mentioned? If you’d like to see more of Mike’s nature photography, you can find him on Facebook.

I hope you liked today’s little mini butterfly factoid. There are many great resources on the internet, butterfly books, and lovely conservatories (when they open up again), where you can find out more.

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Dinnae Fash, It’s World Outlander Day!

Little did I know many years ago, when my aunt told me about a book she had read and liked, that it would turn into such a fantastic journey! The book was Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. My aunt, who is more of a reader than even I am, had purchased and read the trade paperback size, and now offered it to me to read. Those first few lines captured me and drew me in immediately!

” People disappear all the time. Ask any policeman. Better yet, ask a journalist. Disappearances are bread-and-butter to journalists. Young girls run away from home. Young children stray from their parents and are never seen again. Housewives reach the end of their tether and take the grocery money and a taxi to the station. International financiers change their names and vanish into the smoke of imported cigars. Many of the lost will be found, eventually, dead or alive. Disappearances, after all, have explanations. Usually. ” ~ Outlander Prologue

Gorgeous Outlander artwork by Geno Acedo

Those first few words captivated millions of readers, the world over. For those who haven’t read it, it’s set in beautiful Scotland, my own homeland. It’s about time travel and adventure, but most of all, it’s an incredible love story. Chapter after chapter the story developed, and we readers found ourselves wanting to disappear thought the standing stones to arrive in the past to find our own Jamie Fraser!

Many more books followed, as well as companion books and shorter novels and novellas based on other characters from the main story. And Diana did not disappoint. I haven’t even gotten through all the books yet. But I think the pièce de résistance was when they (finally) turned Outlander into a hit TV series. I remember being glued to the television every Sunday night during the first airing of Season One. And the show is as good as the books! I remember seeing Diana at a book signing event at our local book store. She was answering questions from the crowd. Someone asked her what the attraction was to a man in a kilt, and she replied, and I quote, “I think it’s the idea of having that man up against a wall.” The audience went absolutely wild! And why not? I mean, it sounds lie a good idea to me! I apologize if these past remarks offend anyone who are not “into” men in kilts, but for those who are (I don’t care what sexual orientation you may be..), I bet you just had an image emblazoned in your head!

Sam Heughan as James Fraser

The one thing that may take a little getting used to in the books and TV series, is the language. Sure, it’s in English and for the most part, that is the language spoken. But it is interspersed with some “broad Scots”, which uses words many are not accustomed to (unless you grew up in Scotland, or had Scottish family). Also mixed in is some Scottish Gaelic. Did you know you can learn Scottish Gaelic online, for free?

Anyways, just for fun I thought I’d finish up with a few Scottish phrases. Starting with the one in the title. Dinnae fash means don’t be troubled. Here are a few more for you to try out:

  • Dreich. Dree…and that phlegmy “gh” sound at the end. That’s the best way I can describe it! Means wet, as in rainy & gloomy.
  • Ah dinnae ken = I don’t know. (ken = know).
  • Sassenach. It’s a derogatory term, referring to the English people. However, in the book, it becomes a term of endearment that Jamie calls Claire.

I hope you enjoyed today’s blog. If you haven’t read Outlander or seen the show, maybe it’s time for a binge! Now, Gabh mo leisgeul (excuse me, in Scottish Gaelic) while I go and fantasize about men in kilts!

Tioraidh! ~ Pronounced “Chee-ree (Goodbye!)

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Choices For Change

I apologize for the late submission today. I was working on finishing my last writing piece for this project. I am excited, honoured and humbled to be a part of this wonderful book! Below is our official promotion piece:

Book Cover

Choices for Change: Courageous Decisions That Changed Lives is an inspired collection of thirteen authors vulnerably sharing stories about one moment, or one decision that changed the course of their lives.*Have you made a big decision that set your life on a different course or empowered you to live in more authenticity and courage?*Have you started over after challenges or setbacks and rebuilt your life to feel true to yourself?*Has an event or situation happened in your life that made you realize you need to step up and embrace change or be destined to keep repeating the painful lessons?We have all lived through change, big and small, our choice or not, it’s how we choose to get through it that makes all the difference.Choices for Change contains heartfelt, bold, courageous pieces, and lighthearted impactful ones. There are stories of animals and the difference they’ve made in our lives, as well as how our lives change when we start loving ourselves. There are self-reflective and insightful pieces that will help you make your choice to change. We are grateful to take this journey with you, and hope you can find yourself in these pages and know you are not alone.

Remember: “You are only one decision away from a totally different life” – Mark Batterson

If any of my followers would like to pre-order either the E-book format or paperback, please get in touch before June 2nd if possible. I will give you pricing and payment options. Thanks for your support!

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