Kelp crow

Raven beckons me on a journey.

Its rasping voice pierces my spirit,

Pulling me to a future unknown.


Questions I ask, options propose,

Yet the ebon wraith remains evasive,

Demanding faith when will is weak.


What lies ahead in the darkness,

Where illusions of control are lost

And footing is no longer certain?


Raven ignores my fears, urges me forward.

When I look back for sights remembered,

His tar-pitched plumage absorbs my view.


With vision gone, I now see the unseeable:

The darkness that stills my timid heart

Is the freedom my soul has sought so long.


Where I am, light surrounds me;

Where I’m not, nothing exists.

I am the journey, unceasing while I live.


There is no stasis. There is no rest.

The raven that calls me is me;

And fear dissolves with my next step.

Winter (?) in the Beaches

This time last year, the beach near my home in Toronto was buried under several feet of snow and ice (see the photographic evidence here and here), but this year, not so much.

I managed to take the camera out yesterday and was surprised at how Spring-like the area was.

Pet Park in Peril



Only chicken wire and wood separate the canines from the under-nines

In what is set to be the battle of the ages, dog owners along Toronto’s Beaches boardwalk are up in arms over an invasion that has them frightened for the safety of their four-legged family members.

A new disease-bearing tick?

Someone leaving poisoned treats?

Marauding coyotes looking for a snack?

Nothing so mundane.

Instead, pet parents are angry that the dog park at the foot of Lee Avenue has been invaded by terrors of the bipedal kind as parents throughout the area have literally unleashed their children within the wood beam and chicken wire compound.

“It’s just not fair,” cries local Peke-a-poo owner Jolene Carpenter. “They have a wooden fortress and wading pool right there in Kew Gardens, and full playgrounds at either end of the boardwalk.”

“How would they like it if we turned their sandboxes into litter boxes?” adds Henry Ratsburg, collie-enthusiast and former cat owner.

As though proving their point, the fence bordering the dog park resembles a sand-covered drive-in as strollers of all sizes, colours and designs sit parked along the fence. Meanwhile, their parental owners relax at the nearby ice cream bar and coffee shop, chatting with other parents while their children run amok beyond the gates.

“I really don’t understand the fuss,” chimes Cyndy Jacobson, mother of two. “My kids need a safe place to run around, and this is the only designated off-leash section of the beach.”


Docile when leashed but muscles braced for freedom

Ironically, the dog park, which is actually comprised of an open sandy section and a larger shrub-laden section, was established by the City of Toronto several years ago after many parents in the area complained about dogs littering their waterfront fun.

“It was a total mess out there,” remembers long-time Beaches resident Jackson Brink. “At best, people would just bury the dog droppings in the sand, but it doesn’t take long on a hot summer’s day to realize you’ve parked your beach towel on a fermenting pile left by a mastiff or Great Dane.”

Play time

Frolicking in the sand or burying the evidence?

The park’s transition from canine to kiddie has been a slow but inexorable one that started with delayed summer temperatures last year and parents’ worries about letting their children play in the frigid surf. One by one, as stressed parents discovered the relative calm of the dog park, they began to release their children into its confines.

“The first few actually showed up with both kids and dogs in tow, but they didn’t fool us,” says Carpenter. “Within minutes, you’d see them skulk out of the park with their dogs, the kids nowhere to be found.”

Several residents have demanded the City step in, if only to deal with the potential health and safety risks.

“They bite; they scratch; they’re full of germs. I just don’t feel that my babies are safe in there,” complains Ratsburg, anxiously stroking the fur of his tri-colour collies.

Rebel lake

Ratsburg and friend in better days

Nobody from the City of Toronto was willing to go on the record, but one unnamed source suggests there is little the City can do given the way current bylaws are written.

“All we can do is caution people to make sure their little ones have all their shots and don’t get trampled,” the source suggests. “Residents with children might want to do the same.”

Blustery day

The seasons change pretty quickly in Toronto. One moment, we are complaining about the heat and humidity; the next, we’ve swapped t-shirts for parkas and bathing suits for balaclavas.

Such was the case earlier this month when a windstorm rolled in over Lake Ontario and the beach near my home. I still have sand in my pockets.

Glen Stewart Ravine

Took my camera around the corner to a nearby nature walk and then down to Lake Ontario for a few minutes.

A Bug(gy) Life

I run toward bees, not away...and they me, it seems

I run toward bees, not away…and they me, it seems

There is a scene early in the film Ace Ventura: Pet Detective where Ace calls out to all of the animals living in his apartment and they swarm from every crevice to give him the world’s biggest group hug (scene was totally ripped off in Evan Almighty). Well, every once in a while (aka daily), I feel the same way with insects.

Insects—and here I also include arachnids—love me. I don’t know why, they just do.

The best I can figure is that there is something in my personal chemistry—blood, sweat, breath, pheromones—that drives bugs wild.

When I go to the local beach to work—hard life, I know—I cannot sit on a bench for much more than an hour before I become a buffet for biting flies. And when I get home from the local park or ravine, I invariably find a couple small beetle hitchhikers somewhere on my clothing. That I have not yet contracted Lyme disease eludes me, although I am grateful, because that shit’s nasty.

When my grandmother’s seniors’ complex became host to a bed bug invasion, I became the canary in a coal mine. After her place had been sprayed, it was my duty to sit on her couch and see if the fumigation had worked. If there was a bed bug within 1 km of her apartment, it would find me within 10 minutes and leave its mark as a large red welt. I was bed bug fly paper.

As luck would have it, I also seem to attract spiders, which is fine as long as they focus their attentions on the various flies and other critters and not on me. So far, so good.

Perhaps this life-long attention from creepy crawlies has made me immune to the sociological ick-factor and has in fact turned into a fascination with them, as my many photographic blog posts would attest. In short, I like bugs. (I’m not quite ready for a love connection.)

On one of my recent walks through a local ravine, I ran into a young gentleman who also wandered the woods with a camera. As the conversation proceeded, we shared our interests—his was birds. When I told him mine was bugs, he was confused. It made no sense to him that anyone would be interested in insects. He wasn’t questioning my sanity, just my logic.

Other people who wander with me, however, do question my sanity as I approach a flower bed covered in bees rather than run the other way as they do. Or as I walk into a swarm of dragonflies rather than swat them away as a nuisance.

I wish I could explain my interest. As I believe with all other life forms, I believe there is an inherent beauty in the specialization of bugs to their environments—their shapes, decorations, behaviours. It probably doesn’t hurt that they will also stay still when I’m trying to examine them, rather than scatter as most other animals will.

Having recently moved into a basement apartment (as mentioned in the previous post), I will have the opportunity to test the limits of my fascination…and undoubtedly of my camera lenses. Should be fun!

Ironically, I co-wrote a comedy show that became known as Bed Bugs & Beyond

Ironically, I co-wrote a comedy show that became known as Bed Bugs & Beyond

Plant one on me

While I am addicted to the kingdom Animalia, I must admit to an expanding appreciation for plants.

There is a certain elegant simplicity at their most superficial that masks a magnificent complexity within. While typically more stationary than most animals, aside from the odd breeze, these biologic wonders seem to be more than capable of a vivacity that borders on personality.

I appreciate that I am romanticizing them, but how can you look at the following images and not think that there is something going on. And it’s not the photographer’s talent. They are spectacular, I just captured the spectacle.