Tag Archives: animals

Useless Factoid (Reboot 365-2)

Did you know that when dogs squat to do their business, they align themselves in a north-south (or, south-north) direction? (Don’t believe me? Read this…)



I wish now I’d paid more attention each time we took Sparty ashore to take care of business… 


May this inspire you to pull out the compass on your phone and line yourself up accordingly before you stop to scoop… I need to know how many of your dogs follow this rule of earthly magnetism…

How Cool is This?? (16/365)



From the series of images, Ornitographies by Xavi Bou (visit the website here…)  www.xavibou.com (many thanks to Xavi Bou for permission to use the photo here)

Imagine if you could see the patterns made by birds as they swoop in unison, drawing on the canvas of the sky. I’d never heard of the artist, but one of the wonderful volunteers who stayed with us on the farm a few years ago sent a link to an article in National Geographic about the artist/photographer and wow – how cool!

Dad, of course, was immediately intrigued and asked if I had seen the images as they relate so well to what we’ve been talking about in our ongoing lines and patterns discussions…


georges braque 1960 birds-in-the-clouds-1960

Birds in the Clouds by Georges Braque, 1960 


So many artists have explored the image of birds in flight it’s hard to know where to start with examples.


M. C. escher twelve-birds 1948.jpeg

Twelve Birds by M. C. Escher, 1948

Line, pattern, repeating shapes, and negative space all fuse in this work by M. C. Escher.


landscape-with-birds-1940 lucian freud

Lucian Freud takes a different approach in Landscape with Birds (1940)

Da Vinci tried to freeze the movement of birds with the naked eye…



Drawings of a bird in flight by Leonardo da Vinci (1500s)



Leonardo had an ulterior motive, I think – hoping to learn how to fly himself. The challenge kept him busy for years…

As for me, I’ve been having enough trouble trying to draw things like a coffee cup sitting on the table in front of me and that, so far, is more than challenging enough!

For the moment, I’m happy to enjoy the work of others when it comes to this subject, but perhaps at some point, I’ll take up the challenge and try to capture movement in the ethereal form of birds in flight…





Elk! (Day 9/365)

Elk IMG_3081.jpg

I was cycling home this afternoon, hurrying because the weather had changed for the worse in the hour or so that I’d been out, when I spotted these gals… The resident elk herd was enjoying the fresh grass right beside the main road leading into town.


american-elk-1845 John James Audobon

American Elk by John James Audubon, 1845

I only saw cows and youngsters, no bull with this group (I just learned that tidbit – the males are not bucks, as I would have thought…) who were eating and lounging and paying no attention to traffic or cyclists waving cameras in their direction.

For your edification, a few useless facts about elk:

  • There used to be 6 sub-species of elk in North America, but two are now extinct
  • Mature bulls can weigh more than 700 lbs (explaining why it’s such bad news when they are hit by cars on the highway)
  • To attract females, males urinate on themselves, soaking their hair and making sure they are nice and smelly (rather glad males of the human species don’t indulge in such delightful behaviour)
  • Utah has claimed the Rocky Mountain Elk as its state animal
  • An adult elk will eat about 20 lbs of vegetation in a day


Canmore Elk IMG_3080.jpg

I’m sure the local elk are enjoying those luscious, fresh green leaves as much as I am! Spring is springing!!

What’s your favourite local wildlife species?



J is for Jumping Jehosephat! (AtoZChallenge2018)

Screen Shot 2018-04-11 at 6.28.35 PM

This morning I was hanging out in my jammies listening to Dolly Parton (what’s not to love about Jolene, Jolene, Please Don’t Take My Man, right Sheryl McFarlane?), wondering what on earth I was going to write about for the letter J when I started Jonesin’ for a blog post topic. Yeah, I’ll admit it, I was feeling jittery when I considered jumping online and reaching out on social media to see if I might score a hit of inspiration. I typed up a Facebook post asking for help and hesitated before thinking, hell – Just do It!   (Thanks, Jenny…)



Sorting through my myriad options proved to be a juicy task… The word juice reminded me of our recent journey to Spain where sipping freshly squeezed orange juice was one of the (many) joyous experiences along the Camino. 


Jesus! The response was overwhelming! Before I knew it I had a list a mile long and my dilemma had switched from being desperate for a single idea to a thousand possibilities jostling for position. How could I possibly do them all justice? At some point I said I would cut off the submissions and would use every word suggested in this blog post… a promise I soon realized was both foolish and optimistic. How to juxtapose juniper (something you’d likely catch a whiff of in June or July) with joggle? Joggle isn’t even a word, though it’s such a good suggestion (from writer Dayle Gaetz) that I couldn’t resist including it. As Dayle explained, it’s what happens when a jogger jiggles while underway…



I like to include relevant images whenever possible, so though I was a bit short of photos of jellybeans, I did find this one of Fabio jumping from one boulder to another on a climbing journey a couple of years ago… I confess I experienced a surge of joy when he made it safely to the other side of the chasm. 

No longer in a jam, I found myself with options in not one, but two official languages (thanks, Dad).



The Juggler by Marc Chagall, 1943 (Original title Le Jongleur)



The original title of this horse head on a yellow background by Fernand Leger is “Tête de cheval sur fond jaune” (1953). Joli, n’est pas?




And while we are on the artwork section of the blog post, how about this jester? The painting dates from 1442 and is called Portrait of the Ferrara Court Jester Gonella and is by Jean Fouquet. 


Feeling pretty joyeux at this point (I mean, look at all those Js!!!!), I took a break to julienne some root vegetables for dinner and then joined a couple of ice climbers for a quick chat at a local watering hole (I had to retrieve an ice screw that had inadvertently made its way into someone else’s gear bag). After a bit of verbal jousting about whose ice tools are superior, I decided to leave the guys to their dessert and head for home, but not before seeing a few photos from what looks to have been a great day of skiing not far from here. It’s hard not to be jealous when you see such glorious images of the kinds of places you can only get to with a Jeep, some time in hand, and a decent pair of skis.

This post could have been a Jeremiad (look that one up, I had to), in which I complained bitterly about the paucity of worthy words beginning with J. Instead, no joking, I was about as far out of this world with joy as Jupiter (sorry, had to reuse joy and tossing Jupiter in definitely feels a tad awkward…).  Maybe after a cup of jasmine tea I’ll be able to come up with a better final paragraph. On the other hand, I may find myself distracted by the Jets (of Winnipeg fame) who are playing their hearts out on their way (we can only hope) to the Stanley Cup!! Maybe I shouldn’t write that here… it might jinx the team…



Donkeys or Jackasses? You decide… (Franz Marc, 1911)









E is For Eggs (AtoZChallenge2018)



Girl with a Basket of Eggs, by Joachim Beuckelaer, early 17th Century

The egg is the perfect physical embodiment of the concept of transformation in one, neat package of potential. Back in my farm days I never tired of tending an incubator full of eggs, monitoring temperature and humidity, tracking every time I turned the eggs (2-4 times per day) on a spreadsheet, counting down the days until the hatch began. The eggs didn’t change in appearance, but inside, miracles were occurring.

x marks the eggs

By marking one side of each egg (these are turkey eggs) with an X I knew which side was up.

After 3-4 weeks (exactly how long depends on what kind of poultry I was hatching), the eggs began to twitch and vibrate as the inhabitants started plotting their escapes. Soon, muffled peeping began to emanate from the incubator. Using a knobby bit on the tops of their beaks (called an egg tooth), the hatchlings hammered upward, piercing the shells and not stopping until tiny cracks and holes formed a ring around the fatter end of the shell. The following two videos show the final step in this process when the little one would crack off the lid of the egg and splurt out (these are turkey poults).

During the days of rapid growth and change during incubation, the yolk provided all the energy needed to transform the fertilized egg into a fully formed creature capable of escaping from a claustrophobic prison. After a short rest during which they dried off and fluffed up, they were ready to eat, drink, and run about with surprising enthusiasm.


Farm Fresh Eggs

We kept a mixed flock of hens, in part because we enjoyed the range of colours and textures they produced in their egg shells. Depending on what the hens were eating, the yolks ranged in colour from canary yellow to deep, dark orange. 



DCC Love My Chicken!

One of the hatchlings, all grown up. And, yes, the fact my beak was beginning to match the chicken’s is not lost on me. It’s a good thing I left farming when I did or I might have started sprouting feathers. 

It’s hardly surprising that eggs, being of a particularly satisfying shape and containing, as they do, the cosmically mysterious beginnings of life have made many appearances in art.



Still Life: Jug and Eggs by Roger Fry

They are also a familiar sight in most kitchens. Every morning I make gluten free muffin-esque bun thingies, each of which contains an egg. They are substantial enough that having one with cheese or nut butter sustains me through a morning of writing. Here’s the recipe:

Nikki’s Gluten Free Breakfast Bun Thingies

1 egg

1 T olive oil

1/2 mashed banana

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 T ground flax seed

1 T almond flour

1/2 T coconut flour

1 T shredded coconut (optional)

1 T finely chopped walnuts (optional)


Mix together the egg, oil and banana. Add the remaining ingredients, mixing well. Spray a 2 c-size ramekin with olive oil-based cooking spray (I’ve also used olive oil to grease the ramekin, but don’t find that works quite as well). 

Pour the mix into the ramekin and microwave for 2 minutes and 30 seconds. 

You can either eat these hot and soft or cut in half (or thirds, if yours rises a lot – this varies a bit) and toast before serving with your choice of butter, cheese, nut butter, honey, or jam. 



There is so much going on in The Garden of Earthly Delights by Hieronymus Bosch it’s hardly surprising I didn’t remember this detail until I went looking for examples of eggs in art… 

What’s your favourite way to prepare eggs? I like them pretty much any way they can be served except, weirdly enough, Eggs Benedict. Keep that in mind should you ever have me over for brunch…



Did you know it takes a hen 24 – 26 hours to make a single egg? Old Woman Selling Eggs, by Hendrick Bloemaert (1632)