December 2012

22 Aug

The Vander Welle’s of Parry Sound flew off to Cuba with niece, Janette Conway. Flew on Dec 15 via Air Canada to Holguin Airport and  took a lovely bus to Playa Costa Verde resort which was close to  Guardalavaca.(Rafael Freyre)

First day: Image


Hot Hot Hot!


Cover up with sunscreen cane Helen’s voice. Oh we’re okay mom. Don’t worry about us.




sun and sand everywhere and no chairs in shade, oh my!


Abe the sun worshipper!


towel art every day usually with a hibiscus blossom,

















My Moments with the Marvellous Monarchs

22 Aug

I was looking for something to do when I grew up, then decided not to “grow up”. It is over rated. My first blog was to chronical doing 60 new things in 60 years. I can not believe that was 3 years ago!

The place where most of the eastern Monarchs winter is the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve and is now a World Heritage site. The reserve was established in 1980 and extends from the mountainous forests of eastern Michoacán to western Mexico State 100 km northwest of Mexico City. The protection of the lands and the forests that lie within the area (56,000 hectares) meets resistance from local members of communities and companies who log and sell wood. Oyamel fir trees are the preferred tree for the Monarch. It is interesting to note that it is also referred to the Sacred Tree and the foliage is used in religious festival mainly at Christmas.

Milkweed is the only plant that the Monarch lays eggs on and the only plant that the caterpillers eat. What do we know about milkweed? It is a beautiful plant with wonderful blossoms. It is considered toxic to cattle and was placed on the Noxious Weed list decades ago. Farmers and municipalities spray and mow the milk weed so much that the supply to feed and lay eggs has dwindled and the need for a push to plant milkweed and nectar flower has actually become quite a necessary movement to increase the numbers of this threatened species.

My journey started a couple of years ago with a concern for the milkweed being cut down in the summer. Talking and writing a few letters was what I did. This year I decided that I wanted to transplant milkweed plants onto the edge of our property. A neighbour had pulled up milkweed plants and I drove by, stopped the car and got out to introduce myself to her. She wanted to make a garden and wanted to get rid of the weeds. I explained the plight of the Monarch and the importance of milkweed to the Monarchs. She honestly was not aware and as a child had loved the Monarch butterflies.

I took the plants she pulled home thinking that I would try to root them. The next morning I saw a wee shadow through a leaf and – ta da! a 2nd instar caterpillar munching on the leaf. How many others were there? I went back to look to no avail.

Once you commit to saving a caterpillar you commit to feeding it and keeping the feline cats, hair sprays and perfumes away from it. Monarch caterpillars have healthy appetites and it has been said that a 4th and 5th instar cat, can eat a leaf an hour! This means finding healthy milkweed that is not deformed, covered in aphids and spiders and is growing away from anywhere that spraying occurs. I drove down a road and found milkweed! yay! OH! and a large caterpillar that I take home. I find eggs and small caterpillars and I can’t just leave them out to be beaten and eaten!

Do you see where I am going with this story? Knowledge is needed to know the correct way to help foster the eggs and caterpillars. I go to Monarch Watch and learn about all things Monarch. Journey North teaches one to reporting sightings. World WildlifeFederation, Canadian Wildlife Federation, Nature Conservancy of Canada are only a few of the great sites to find information on the Monarch. A working knowedge for planting milkweed is available on YOU TUBE as well as a series on looking for eggs, caring for eggs, for caterpillars, for pupating cats, Chrysalides and then the adult Monarch butterfly! Thank you Mr Rich Lund!

Planting Milkweed Part 1 Collecting Seeds:

Planting Milkweed Part 2  Sprouting and Growth:

Planting Milkweed Part 3 Ready to Transfer:

Raising Monarchs Part 1 Finding Eggs:

Raising Monarchs Part 2 Hatching Eggs :

Raising Monarchs Part 3 Caring For Caterpillars:

Raising Monarchs Part 4 Caring For The Chrysalis:

Raising Monarchs Part 5 Releasing The Butterflies :

The videos above are excellent and provide almost everything you need to know to help.

I joined a couple Monarch Facebook groups and lucked into The Beautiful Monarch. Awesome. Everything Monarch.

I collected 15 eggs within the first week. Of those 10 hatched and grew larva large and made beautiful chrysalides. I have also collect different sizes of caterpillars. These cats have personalities I swear!

Nine beautiful Monarch butterflies have been released so far and 5 are waiting for release tomorrow. I have been able to go to the camp on two occasions and I have taken all eggs and caterpillars and milkweed up to Hevey Inlet. No running water or electricity so everything much be done in the strong daylight hours!

At home we have a screened gazebo that I have set up as a Monarch Butterfly waystation with nectar plants and a table to set ripe juicy fruit to get ready for flying. I was delighted to finally get 6 of the 7 adults feeding! Placed them on the melon, wet a toothpick with juice and tickled their proboscis. Five butterflies on a plate! Fun!

Food Frenzy!

Food Frenzy!


Niagara Falls, New York State – something new. Have never been here before.

17 Jul

Niagara Falls, New York State - something new. Have never been here before.

Top of American Falls. That is Goat Island behind me to the left side of photo. Niagara Falls Canada in the distance!


“When writing t…

17 Jul

“When writing the story of your life, don’t let anyone else hold the pen.”

I like this quote. I do not know where it originated but it speaks volumes to me, 

I need to “steer my own boat”, Be energized to so something new everyday, Step outside of my comfort zone everyday. What makes your “boat” float?

Crap, Gray November has arrived! Can I find joy in November?

2 Nov

Well now, November 2 and what have I been up to?

I met November 1st at the Sleep Clinic at the West Parry Sound Health Centre. Had to go in and sleep with my new CRAP machine and be assessed.

Okay, it is not  really CRAP. Just sooooo easy to call it that. It is CPAP which is an acronym for “continuous positive airway pressure”. According to my report given to me October 22 by the Sleep specialist, Dr Colin Shapiro, I have moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea.  Wearing straps and a nose mask does not thrill me, in fact, I have been a tad grumpy and joined “pity city” for a few days. I don’t think anyone noticed because I really practice “faking til I make it”.

Well, I did get irritable last Saturday, but circumstances beyond my control challenged myself and others considerably. That is not a topic for this  blog and I digress. 🙂

I purchased the machine the evening of Oct 22 for $1644. The province of ONTario covered $780 of that and Abe’s insurance company has not told us what part of the remaining $864., paid by us, will be covered. The machine is quieter than I expected except when humidity is increased and condensation forms in the tube leading to my schnoz. Sound like scuba gear when exhaling. Noisy bubbling. I will take noisy Buble ( ) anytime, not bubbling! When something wakes Abe you know it is really loud. Picture me struggling to get up groggy with sleep, to stand and figure where the noise is coming from. I am sure that had I been videotaped it would be quite hilarious!

The movie shoot, Against The Wind is over. Our last location was at Greig’s Caves just south of Lion’s Head on the Bruce Peninsula. Awesome. There are 10 caves there and we used the largest which was the same cave used for the “Quest For Fire” movie in 1981. Itsa HUGE cave.

great walk and climb to get here

not for movie crew though!

oh look, someone cleared off the wet leaves.

The path goes where?

Up we climb to the cave. What a nice roof! This was pretty steep here.

So Sam, the fellow who hired me told me NOT to take the “goat” path to the cave. “Let them come to you” he said. People were asking for coffee etc so off I went with everything in my back pak. Coffee leaked. I was thrilled. Wet too. Manageable tho.

It really was not that bad. The trek to the Collingwood scenic caves was much worse I thought. A goat would be more suited to the Blue Mtn caves I think.

That day turned out to be sunny by 3 pm and not as cold as we expected. Shooting went on til 10 pm or so. Darkness came early. We went for  5:30 p.m. “lunch” and after we returned we found the path lighted by the wonderful grips. I did take a tumble in an unlit area while stepping aside for a fast pacer to move by. I had looked up to see “chipmunk” disappear. Friend Sandy who was hired as 3rd Assistnat Director had nicknamed him. The light from up the hill caused a momentary blindness and I failed to STAY STILL. What a silly dufus. Fell, my head missing a huge rock. Lovely rock actually. Landed on a bent right wrist, my right knee and my twisted right ankle.

You know how people have the tendency to jump up embarassed when they fall? I didNOT do that this time. I lay there, checked whatever I had been carrying – intact. Then did a mental assessment of each body part that seemed stressed. No one was there. It was dark. I moved each finger in my right hand, then rearranged my hand with my arm so in alignment. Repeated the same for leg and ankle and foot. Got up on left knee and managed to stand on left foot and put weight down on both feet.  Limped to the next rock to climb up it and with my head down, so as not to be blinded by the light, I got back up to the top and walked back to picnic table and got a coffee. Hot. Black. Hummed “Blinded By The Light” by Manfred Mann.

Blinded by the light,
revved up like a deuce,
another runner in the night

yeah, I was revved, runnin in the night (well, not THAT stupid, I was walking carefully) but blinded by the light! With a boulder on my shoulder, feelin’ kinda older, I tripped the merry-go-round…. hahahaha

that’s it for now. Had a great time on the movie shoot. Learned so very much. The crew works so hard. Physically and mentally to make sure everything is done without wasting time and of course money. Would I do it again I have been asked. In a heartbeat. Maybe not crafting but then, maybe. It doesn’t matter what you do – carrying lots of equipment and supplies is the norm.

October! as my sister LOVES to remind me, I am now in my 61st year!

10 Oct

My 60th birthday came and went quietly like the fog  in Carl Sandburg’s poem “Fog”…came and went on little cat feet.

I must take some time and count up all the new things that I experienced in my 60th year. Today I got to see a grizzly on the set of a movie that I am working on. The movie is “Against the Wild” and to get experience of moviemaking I signed up for the Craft production assistant. Craft being organizing food and beverages for the cast and crew. I don’t cater the lunch but try to ensure enough is supplied to keep everyone alert and focused on getting the job done!

This is a grunt job and one that a mature broad like me could have done without thank you very much.

There is a massive amount of carrying and hauling around. Juice and pop weighs quite a bit. The 4th day of filming the makeup person said that normally there is a substantial snack served to the crew mid afternoon. Oh really? I mentioned this to the 2nd Asst Director and he said, yes. I thought this was a set up by my friend Sandy Slote and that my leg was being pulled! Sandy pulled a fast one years ago and had me wear a lime green hat while skiing my first time at Sir Sam’s ski hill. The green hat was to alert the patrollers to the fact that I was a newbie on the hills. Duh…all a hoax.  So, here I am a newbie “crafter” and I thought I was being pranked. Not so….

Creativity is so important when one is trying to provide satisfying snacks. Subs, wraps, cup a soup, yogurt, pudding, bread and goodies to make their own sandwiches. This all takes money, shopping and moving the supplies to wherever the craft table is set up.  Some days I had three locations. Today, we could not eat near the set because of the bear. The craft table was so far away that none of the crew could get there. I did not spend much time providing anything major.

To top it all off one of the actors has a serious nut allergy and I was directed to purchase nut free products only. That makes it very interesting and takes longer to buy anything. The web research helps but that takes time.

The Production Manager says that we are only obligated to supply healthy snacks to the child actors and that the adults don’t count. Well he is a bean counter. Get this movie made using the least amount of money possible.

The crew work so very hard. I am in awe of the pressure they are under, all the tasks required to be carried out and they do it all without complaining. Water on the set is a MUST at all times. The camera crew, sound and lighting folks work hard and lose fluids fast. This is our 10th day of production and we have gone through 30 cases of water. (24 per case)

Nothing is worse than  not having even one hydro plug to boil water or make a carafe of  coffee. Being flexible and able to problem solve is  of utmost importance. With all of the physical work though, using the brain is hard. Maybe it is just me.

Do I miss the Occupational Health and Safety job? In a way. I never had to carry anything heavier than 30 pounds and that was very  infrequent. I have not worked so physically hard since tossing bales of hay in my teens.

Note to self. I don’t do walls and I am not a pack horse. …and one day at a time. Oh, and only 7.5 hours per day, not 14!!

Next time I must tell you about the ladies ziplining and tree trekking adventure.

Here’s a picture.

before the tree treking through tree tops

Where does the time go? It is going faster and faster!

17 Sep

Here I am on Sunday evening working on updating my resume to send to a Production Company for a Production Assistants position. General “gofer” etc. The company is not the one shooting Stage Fright at Camp Manitawabing with Meatloaf and Minnie Driver etc. There is another film being shot

My B.C. trip is coming to a close. I fly out from Vancouver tomorrow, Thursday, August 23 at 5:10 p.m.. Arrival time at Pearson International is 00:35 a.m. Aug 24th!

23 Aug

I arrived back in Vancouver on Monday this week. I had wanted to head to Vernon and do Opal Mining but had to let that go for the time being. My sister, Norma told me about that and it is something she would like to do when she heads out this way. Maybe someday I will travel out west with her and search for opals! It is my birth stone after all!

Yesterday I headed to Park Royal Mall in North Vancouver. Strange place. There is a south mall and a north mall. You have to walk outside to get to each mall. I got a parking spot right outside the Bay which is where I wanted to go to try to locate an Olympic Canadian denim jacket for Lauren.

This was my 3rd Bay with no luck. The women’s jacket are SOLD OUT! There are men’s and children’s jackets left but the ladies have cleared out the stock! I did find great sales at The Bay however and hope that they are still going on when I get back to Ontario and have a bit of money!

I am so happy about taking this trip and extending the trip by another week. Fabulous time. Have seen lots. Travelling alone is not my favorite way to travel but I am so glad I made the effort and attended the GIFTS school of Film and Television. What an experience! The fact that I was able to explore Vancouver Island has been a dream since the 80’s. I lived in northern BC from ’78 to ’80 and never once went to Van Isle!

Well, now I have! What beautiful scenery! What awesome people all the way up the mainland west coast and across to the Island. Incredibly friendly folk.

I am also so pleased to have been able to connect with so many folks, some whom I have not seen for decades!

I am so happy to be heading home as I am missing Abe, Lauren and Josh as well as the house and pets! Next time. I would want to travel with them!

I drove myself to Prospect Point last evening after getting off the Lion’s Gate bridge. What a sunset.

So happy to be able to say hello to such a beautiful tree. Cathedral Grove is a rare and endangered remnant of an ancient Douglas fir ecosystem on Vancouver Island in British Columbia (BC), Canada. The biggest trees in the Grove are about 800 years old and measure 75 m (250 ft) in height and 9 m (29 ft) in circumference. They are the survivors of a forest fire that ravaged the area some 350 years ago and the even more devastating invasion by Europeans who colonized Vancouver Island from 1849.

I also stopped at The Tea House in Stanley Park as I was leaving. I had tea there once I believe back in 1981 but had never been back. It was getting dark and the lights were all on. I thought I would check and see if it was open for dinner. Funny thing. As I was getting out of the car a skunk was walking past the path outside the  Tea House. I hesitated and watched where Pepe Lapieu would go. He ran into a hedge to the left of the path. I thought twice about heading towards the path and had visions of my trip ending with an unwanted parfume! I headed in and thank Heavens Pepe did not stick around to welcome me! The Tea Room was open and had a table for one. What service and what a beautiful place.

I really was wishing I could have sat overby the window to see if Pepe was circling the premises!

Port Alberni Best Western rocks!

18 Aug

Went to Tofino after my last post and it was tres foggy at Long Beach so went straight to Tofino. It has a very different feel to it. Much busier and more commercial. Nice tho.

Had lunch at a seaside pub and watched the happenings on the chartered fishing dock. I noticed a boat try to mount the dock. Looked like a whale trying to get up on the dock. Funny.

Off jumps a youngish fellow with a back pack. Then a young blonde gets off and she very clearly  appears dressed to work as a fisherwoman! She is actually the boss! She had a son or brother (approx 7) with her that she was horsing around with and then out came the fish. Four in all. One was soooo large it was difficult to swing up on the table that another guy was cleaning them on. The filleting was done professionally and quickly. One looked like a salmon with the red flesh. Two had white flesh and one appeared to have pink flesh. As one fish was finished the other was hauled out of the bucket and someone else tossed the guts etc into the water right there! That surprised me. A few gulls were around but something was eating it under the water. I never saw what. Just a lot of movement on the top of the water.

All in all the guy had 5 huge bags of fillets. Each fish in it’s own bag and the last humungus fish took two large plastic bags. The plastic was on a roll and they took off a length of the plastic and then tied a knot in the one end  to close the bottom. The fish was put in after it got hosed with water and the top of the bag knotted. I found it really interesting especially after the boat hit the dock. It was easy to almost “hear” the conversations. A lot of kidding around and laughing. This is likely one of those stories “well you had to be there”!

Stopped at Long Beach on way back and fog was still rolling onshore. Enjoyed hearing the surf crashing and took some photos of the fog and fuzzy people and waves.

Pretty tired and did not want to drive to Victoria so stopped in Port Alberni and checked out the Best Western. Great! Updated. Room is fresh and big. Great bedding. I check that out as soon as I get to the room! Even the check in lady gets a nod from me. Very, very nice.  Also free computer in a separate room away from the lobby. Printer too. Guess I better go and let someone else use it. No one is lining up at the door tho. 🙂

Time for rest and relaxation. Night all.

Friday!! It has gotten very busy in Ucluelet

17 Aug

FOGGY today. Woke up to go get a photo of sunrise but the fog is only lifting now!

Got a few photos of scenes with fog but will see how they look when I can view them larger.

Wishing I had someone travelling with me today. Feel like yakking and no one to yak to! Ah well.

Crab dinner was fabulous last evening at Off shore. Yum

Heading out of village now and going toward Tofino. If fog lifts will head to long beach but will have to get a park pass to see it.

Running out of time at the Coop puter bar!! Ciao! Love you all. Helen