Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Canadian Cold. A German Rat Becoming World Famous. Bea Got A New Camera!

I just couldn't believe my eyes, but a second look at the thermometer confirmed my first impression: It was actually showing -20C (-4F) and it was still blowing like crazy out of the west. Wind chill was at -30C (-22F) Dixie got back in like a bullet. Just too cold for doggy paws.

Another day with a cancelled dog walk!

Seated comfortably in front of the blazing woodstove, I studied the news of this morning. That's when I came across a unique story from Germany. 

Can you imagine that a rat can get so fat that it gets stuck in a manhole cover? While rats are a known plague in many cities, the city of Bensheim, sent the fire department and animal rescue team to free the rodent from its precarious situation. The story made it to World News at the Washington Post, Fox News, the Guardian and the Huffington Post plus probably an array of more local papers. 

                                               HELP ME PLEASE!!!
 "She had a lot of winter flab and was stuck fast at her hip - there was no going forward or back," said Michael Sehr, a professional animal rescuer from Rhein Necker, according to BBC.

As the situation looked more and more hopeless, rescuers eventually were able to prop up the manhole and secure a safety loop around the rat, and popped her out of the narrow opening.

Bea had a great day yesterday. A big package arrived yesterday containing a new camera she had ordered. It is a NIKON P900. The camera was almost a revolution when it came out years ago. It features a staggering 2000mm or 83x zoom and  you don't have to carry around a 5-pound telelens, even though the camera body is heavier than the NIKON 5100 we also use.
And if the P900 is not good enough for you, there is now the P1000, which is much, much heavier, bigger and offers a 3000mm integrated zoom.

Bea is very interested in bird photography and hopefully, we will see some of her pics soon. Yesterday we took an explorative trip up to the Head Harbour Lighthouse to experience what the P900 can do. The below pics show the normal view one has from the parking lot, while the 2. pic is showing max zoom. The example from the Herring Cove Beach shows a couple of outhouses with me standing in front of one. The next picture is max zoom on me. The third one is a digital zoom right into my face and was done on Picasa. All pictures were done handheld without a tripod.
  Above: 55mm normal view, 
  Below: Max zoom

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

It's Still Winter

Waking up to a brutally cold day, we are reminded that it is still winter in these parts. This morning's thermometer reading showed -13C (8.6F) but in the wind it was -24C (-11F) Doggy walks got cancelled and it was Dixie who cancelled on her own. It was as if she knew from the first moment that walking outside was a no-no today. Usually she is bugging us right after her having breakfast to go outside. Not so today. Whereever you go around on the island you've got ice rinks, huge areas covered in concrete-hard ice.

   Pictures above of Herring Cove Beach

Stepping out into the icy wind hurts your face like thousand needles. I was rather quick in getting the firewood into the house.

While it is very cold, the weather also offers fantastic photo opportunities - that is if one is dressed appropriately.

Quite a different thing to do is baking rolls. Whenever the cold is getting to my nerves I place myself in the kitchen and produce something much more delightful. These turned out really well!

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Leaving Behind

Many of us know the feeling. You have been born and raised a place and you left it later in life. Reasons for leaving can be many, but you will never forget the place you have been spending a lot of time at.

This morning I watched a drone video about Scotland, and I was in awe about the beautiful countryside there. It is not so long ago that we had a lady in our neighbourhood, who was born in Scotland. She kept the rolling Rs in her accent all her life. I mean you could hear where she was from. She immigrated to Canada and settled here. I am wondering whether she ever missed her beautiful home country.

For my own part, I was born in northern Germany, then lived 25 years in Norway. 

          Memories of home: Summer landscapes in Schleswig-Holstein
In my mind I still carry the pictures of my German upbringing and my later life in beautiful Norway. I am catching myself in bittersweet memories when watching videos about those areas. 
                                              Molde in North-West Norway

Leaving behind your surroundings for ever can cause you to develop homesickness. It's not that I am regretful about our moving around in the world and especially settling here on this beautiful island, but sometimes there is the urge to board a flight and go and reexplore where I once was happy. And obviously, it is also about meeting old friends and seeing again family members. 

It has always been my curiosity which was the motor for living in a different place, as it has also been for extensive travels.
It has enriched my mind and led me to meeting very nice people. Yet, sometimes I feel the urge to "turn back the clock" and reexperience what has been, or at least go to those old places and enjoy them to the fullest.

My grandma had a brother who moved to Canada in 1950. he ended up spending most of his life in Vancouver,BC. However, when he retired he got the urge to move back to Germany. Following this urge, he sold his apartment, got everything including his big Lincoln, into a moving container and off he went. Arriving near his old home town, he got a house built and settled in.

However, it didn't take long and he got regrets. Things had changed over 40 years. Germany wasn't anymore what he remembered. There were too many people, the roads were too narrow, too many rules and regulations and he couldn't find the freedom he had grown used to in Canada. He had gotten homesick for Vancouver and finally moved it all back to British Columbia. Sometimes following these sudden urges doesn't work out.

When visiting Germany I enjoy my visits, but after some time I am always longing back to Canada. The same would happen if I would go to Norway. Nice to see it all again, but it's not home anymore. With the example of my granduncle and my own experience I can withstand the feeling of having left behind something very familiar.
                            Beautiful Campobello Island

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Why the British don't like Trump

Nate White is a witty satirical British writer. The below piece explains in detail why the British don't like Trump. I would add that it is not only the British which can't contain their disdain for Trump.

by Nate White

A few things spring to mind.

Trump lacks certain qualities which the British traditionally esteem.

For instance, he has no class, no charm, no coolness, no credibility, no compassion, no wit, no warmth, no wisdom, no subtlety, no sensitivity, no self-awareness, no humility, no honour and no grace - all qualities, funnily enough, with which his predecessor Mr. Obama was generously blessed with.

So for us, the stark contrast does rather throw Trump’s limitations into embarrassingly sharp relief.

Plus, we like a laugh. And while Trump may be laughable, he has never once said anything wry, witty or even faintly amusing - not once, ever.

I don’t say that rhetorically, I mean it quite literally: not once, not ever. And that fact is particularly disturbing to the British sensibility - for us, to lack humour is almost inhuman.

But with Trump, it’s a fact. He doesn’t even seem to understand what a joke is - his idea of a joke is a crass comment, an illiterate insult, a casual act of cruelty.

Trump is a troll. And like all trolls, he is never funny and he never laughs; he only crows or jeers.

And scarily, he doesn’t just talk in crude, witless insults - he actually thinks in them. His mind is a simple bot-like algorithm of petty prejudices and knee-jerk nastiness.

There is never any under-layer of irony, complexity, nuance or depth. It’s all surface.

Some Americans might see this as refreshingly upfront.

Well, we don’t. We see it as having no inner world, no soul.

And in Britain we traditionally side with David, not Goliath. All our heroes are plucky underdogs: Robin Hood, Dick Whittington, Oliver Twist.

Trump is neither plucky, nor an underdog. He is the exact opposite of that.

He’s not even a spoiled rich-boy, or a greedy fat-cat.

He’s more a fat white slug. A Jabba the Hutt of privilege.

And worse, he is that most unforgivable of all things to the British: a bully.

That is, except when he is among bullies; then he suddenly transforms into a snivelling sidekick instead.

There are unspoken rules to this stuff - the Queensberry rules of basic decency - and he breaks them all. He punches downwards - which a gentleman should, would, could never do - and every blow he aims is below the belt. He particularly likes to kick the vulnerable or voiceless - and he kicks them when they are down.

So the fact that a significant minority - perhaps a third - of Americans look at what he does, listen to what he says, and then think 'Yeah, he seems like my kind of guy’ is a matter of some confusion and no little distress to British people, given that:
* Americans are supposed to be nicer than us, and mostly are.
* You don't need a particularly keen eye for detail to spot a few flaws in the man.

This last point is what especially confuses and dismays British people, and many other people too; his faults seem pretty bloody hard to miss.

After all, it’s impossible to read a single tweet, or hear him speak a sentence or two, without staring deep into the abyss. He turns being artless into an art form; he is a Picasso of pettiness; a Shakespeare of shit. His faults are fractal: even his flaws have flaws, and so on ad infinitum.

God knows there have always been stupid people in the world, and plenty of nasty people too. But rarely has stupidity been so nasty, or nastiness so stupid.

He makes Nixon look trustworthy and George W look smart.

In fact, if Frankenstein decided to make a monster assembled entirely from human flaws - he would make a Trump.

And a remorseful Doctor Frankenstein would clutch out big clumpfuls of hair and scream in anguish:

'My God… what… have… I… created?

If being a twat was a TV show, Trump would be the boxed set.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

February Storm

Weather map right now: The blue is snow, the pink is freezing rain and the green is rain.

The North-East is under attack. A raging storm from the east brought snow and will turn into freezing rain later today. Snow devils are chasing eachother down the street. The plow is coming by in certain intervalls, pushing lots of snow up our driveway. When Dixie slipped out the door at 6:30am, she just ventured 5 steps off the deck and returned right after to the door. "Please keep me inside" she was pleading with me. And of course, I let her back in.

So, one thing is sure: We won't be doin' any doggy walks today as the situation won't change much today. 

Update on the storm:
Snow finally gave way to freezing rain. And our cozy sitt-in by the fire was terminated when we had to go out to do some shoveling. And as always when snow and wind come together there were snowdrifts everywhere. 

  Finally done...
But the worst was the heap of snow the road plow had pushed into our driveway. It was 3ft high, 6ft deep and and least 12ft wide. While we were shoveling, Dixie came along and she was "helping" side-by-side with us scraping away the snow. The snow was hard pressed and heavy. We shoveled and pushed and shoveled until a pickup with a plow appeared to do our neighbour's property. I walked over and asked whether he could help us. And he did immediately. Great guy and he refused to take any payment.  The freezing rain will now build a crust of ice everywhere. 

Winter is so much fun! NOT.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Walking On Studs

With our YoYo-weather we have been "blessed" with ice-covered driveways, roads and public spaces. And today it snowed about 2 inches on top of all that ice. And of course, I slipped on an icy patch again. I was lucky as I fell on my bum and did't hurt myself. But the incident was enough to make me remember what Bea had said for several weeks: Get youself cleats to put under your feet. 

So when I got over to Lubec for a few groceries, I took the opportunity to stop by the hardware store. I found a set of rubber-style studded soles which can be mounted under my boots. So, that should take of the problem of slipping on the ice.

A $19 investment into my well-being could safe me from broken bones -- or worse.

And the outlook for tonight is freezing rain which turns into regular rain for Friday, which is going to make the outside areas even more slippery.

So far, this winter has been remarkably free of major amounts of snow. A shower here and a shower there, then rain and a melt-off before we get a cold-snap and it all repeats itself. I seriously hate snow. Snow means hard work and usually also extra costs. I can handle cold and rain, but I have had to handle way too much snow in past winters.  And with my new studs under my boots I am ready to walk on ice, if not on water.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

The Man, And The Sea

Glancing at my watch, I could make out that the time was only 5:35am. But I was in need to go downstairs for the bathroom. As quietly as possible and trying not to wake Bea I sneaked down the stairs. Today it wasn’t cold in the hallway. Opening the kitchen door, I was met by Dixie wagging her tail looking at me. I understood that she too would have to go outside. But I wasn’t dressed to let Dixie out the door. So I returned to the bedroom to find my clothes in the dark.

Releasing Dixie out into the early morning, I realized how mild it really was. The cold of the last 5-6 day had broken yesterday and it had stayed above freezing. What a relief!
I started the coffeemaker, then made up a fire in our stove. It was 6am and I was looking forward to a quiet hour with my book. CBC II was playing some nice classical music on their French channel. I have often been wondering why the French have a better taste in music. I knew that turning the knob on my old Transistor radio would only reveal some wild noisy tunes from both American and English Canadian stations. So the radio always stays tuned in on the French station.
But I had to look after Dixie. She was still out there. I took a flashlight and shone it up the property. Like a white ghost she appeared at the upper end of our lot, then followed me to the door. In the kitchen she stopped by her food bowl, before she climbed onto her bed curling up in a corner where she fell asleep immediately.

Now it was time to read another chapter in my book. It was a German edition of an American book which had come out as early as 1928. The title is “The Outermost House”, by Henry Beston. Henry Beston, born in 1888 in Quincy, MA was a naturalist with the amazing gift of describing nature at his time.
The “Outermost House” was a small cabin which Beston got built on top of a dune at Cape Cod. He named the place Fo’castle and once the cabin was finished, he spent an entire winter living in the self-chosen solitude at the North Atlantic. From his window he could look across the wide expanse of the often very wild and stormy waters of the Atlantic. He observed the change of the tides, the birds and his immediate surroundings.  Once a week he wandered to the next village, a few miles away to get supplies, other than that, his only human company were the men of the coast guard coming along the beach on their routine patrols.

It was that winter which resulted in his book and it became an immediate success.
After getting married, Beston bought a property in Nobleboro, ME where he died in 1968.
     The vast expanse of the Cape Cod National Seashore

His observations along the beach include a shocking account of birds being contaminated with tar. At the time it was common that tankers would release tar into the sea, which was the left-over from oil production in refineries.  The tar would then float on the surface of the water until it sank, and seabirds would get their feathers glued together dying a terrible death. So it is remarkable to note that environmental concerns and protection finally took a hold in the law.  Unfortunately, accidents still happen, with seabirds, fish, shellfish and sea mammals still falling victims to human failure and neglect. 
So, not uncommon for today, Beston notes the decline of bird populations. Yet there must have been a lot more birds during his  early life than there is today.

Unfortunately, the National Seashore allows driving on parts of the beach and
Beston would be quite disgusted if he would see the many jeeps and SUVs and the endless hordes populating the beach on warm summer days.

Fo'castle, Beston's cabin and refuge for an entire winter

His cabin, the Fo’castle was swept away by a hurricane in 1978. The place where the cabin stood has become a pilgrims destination for Henry Beston fans. It is now part of the Cape Cod National Seashore. A Henry Beston society has also been founded.

Being born at the coast I have always had a connection to the sea and the beaches - the reason why we live where we live. Many of Beston's observations I can relive here on Campobello. The landscape along Cape Cod is far more open and different than here on Campobello, but the sea is the same, and the wind and most birds, which makes me think it is time for a beach walk with Dixie...

Friday, February 1, 2019

It's Penguin Weather

Image result for Penguins
Hi folks, how are you? Depending where you live you might either freeze or sweat. The freezing is still going on over large parts of Canada and the U.S. while the sweating can be done in Australia, where temps are reaching beyond 40C and the average has been above 30C for an entire month.

Here, along the home turf -sorry home beach- we are doing the freezing part. The penguins in the above picture are from a different part of the world, but would probably enjoy walking along Herring Cove Beach
However, looking out the window one might get fooled to think "Oh lovely weather". That is if one is deaf on both ears. There is some rattling and howling going on outside, as the wind is hitting our house. The windchill brings -13C down to -22C. But hey, Dixie wants to go outside. Yesterday we dared to go out in the early afternoon and we were lucky enough to find that the trail along Lake Glensevern was protected from the westerly wind. So for about 1 hour we were outside braving the cold. As usual, Dixie was enjoying herself and I rolled with her in the fresh snow. She loves that.

So the pics, all taken with Bea's cell, show a lot of blue and white. Can you see the cold? 

Trail along Lake Glensevern

Playing Hide and seek..