Five Million Meals.

Built in the 1950's,  the Smith Falls Rideau Regional Centre (Ontario Hospital School)  once accommodated 2600  special needs children with cognitive and physical disabilities. The kids could be placed there by their parents or guardians, and they were cared for by approximately 2400 staff. This included a hospital with operating theatres and a morgue, full service kitchens, laundry facilities, a school complete with a gymnasium, swimming pool, theatre, and of course, rooms. Lots of rooms. 
So, on any given day, in its heyday, 5000 meals would be prepared three times a day. Times 365 days a year. Times almost 20 years. Good God! 109,500,000 plates of nutritional sustenance served up.
That's a shitload of food. Literally and otherwise.
And that doesn't include seconds, or popcorn, on the occasional movie night!
Everyone was cheery on cherry pie Fridays.
The Centre slowly closed its doors over a period of  years, phasing out some services, outsourcing others, and eventually, turning out the lights and sending the last of the residents back from whence they came about 15 years ago. About that same time, the homeless population in Ontario began to swell noticeably, schools began to change their curriculae to be more welcoming, diversified, and inclusive, and Special Education became a commonly accepted term. Just as "mentally retarded" and "crippled" became politically and socially incorrect descriptors of human beings with special needs.
It was all well and good.
Making approximately 600 pies and 500 loaves of bread daily
required some mighty heavy duty batter beaters.

Except that the massive school cum hospital that was once a force to be reckoned with, and a major economic driver in Eastern Ontario in its own right, sat languishing while unemployed caregivers, social workers, teachers, medical professionals, custodians, cooks and cleaners all went shopping for new jobs. 
The services required to run such a massive institution were no longer required, so add plumbers, 
electricians, carpenters, gardeners, and food growers to the list, as well as wholesalers of bedding, linens, shirts, shoes and toothbrushes...pretty much anyone who provided any service or product that might be needed by a village of some 5000 people on a daily basis.
My, oh my. What a fun time that must not have been!

I had no idea Mercedes made hot dog cookers?
Fast forward to 2015. ...what do you do with a vacant village?

Among the many thousands of ideas, that includes everything from condos to private business, high tech secure research campus, cute little shops, emergency evacuation centre, old parrot rehab and palliative care centre (yes), theatre school, fitness training centre, and hair salon, the idea I like the best is one of the ones that is actually working.
All that stainless steel cooking equipment has become the focal point of a local food hub.

Now it's artisan loaves of crusty baguettes, slathered with hot blueberry jam
and served with a side of vichyssoise.  Take that gruel and grog!
A new venture in collaboration between farmers and foodies, chefs and personal support services, the (now) gleaming kitchen that once fed hordes is once again cooking with gas.  Meals on Wheels uses the kitchen to prepare its delivery dinners, market gardeners rent the prep space, coolers and ovens to process their crops of berries, garlic scapes, tomatoes and all things delicious.
It's a menu for success that creatively re-uses, re-invents, re-purposes,  and re-minds us, that:

To everything there is a season,
a time for every purpose under the sun.
A time to be born and a time to die;
a time to plant and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
a time to kill and a time to heal ...
a time to weep and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn and a time to dance ...
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to lose and a time to seek;
a time to rend and a time to sew;
a time to keep silent and a time to speak;
a time to love and a time to hate;
a time for war and a time for peace.


Where Have You Been?

Hello, it's me.

It's been one year, and fifty weeks since I last felt compelled to share my thoughts with you. My last post was on my Mother's birthday in 2013. I wrote about letting the light in. And then I went dark.
As an inveterate writer, communicator, viewer, sharer, and introvert, this method of being part of a group was an absolute blessing, allowing me to be me - from a distance, with complete control.
I am not really sure why I stopped...why my muse was no longer amused... But I just felt like I  had nothing more to say.

I did start writing a weekly column for Bird Canada  and I enjoyed being part of the greater birding community. However, I have never reacted well to having to submit something on a weekly basis,whether I felt like it or not. So I fulfilled the promise I made to myself to do it for one year, and then I stopped that too.

And then I wasn't writing anything.

The funny thing, or not so funny thing, is that when I stopped writing, I began to feel  angry and negative. I think I had unwittingly shut off the vent to my feelings, and I  found myself exploding inside. So here I am.
I certainly didn't think I would get this urge to call on my old friends in the blogosphere this evening, but  I did, and I think I will just roll with it.

I have a new camera, and many shots to share ... So I think I will just post a few to provide some context and texture  to what I have seen in the past while. If you're out there, and seeing this, welcome back!

As "they" say, a picture is worth a thousand words. Here's a short little 43,000 word book.

Out on a Limb

Long Beach

Sea Lions in Tofino, BC

Roses in Victoria, BC

White Crowned Pigeon



Bird thoughts.

The Landing

Maine is awesome.

Birds' Eye View

I won a free copy of Richard Crossley's book with this!

Reading Market in Philadelphia


The Two-rodded Fisherman


Morning storytelling.


Our new neighbour.

Haloomi and Tomatoes. If you haven't you should.

Homemade goodness.

It's never too cold for a Caesar.

First we feast with our eyes.

A huge flock of Snow buntings - REAL snowbirds

It's been almost two years, and during that time I have travelled throughout Canada, the States, the Caribbean and Honduras. I always keep my camera with me, and I took great pleasure in taking a good, long, look around at the things I enjoy most...a bird in song, a captured sigh, the wind in the water, 
food so good that you feast with your eyes, friends and family 
and all the little bits in between that make us who we are.


Light at the End of the Day

Busy is more than a state of being, it is an oft' used excuse to not do anything. A bit of a conundrum whereby we can't get to it to do it, and so we often don't get it done. Like me. Writing this blog! The picture taking part is easy, and I carry my camera with me at all times. As well as my phone, which has a camera, and my iPad which also has a camera. So lots of pictures get taken. Almost every day in fact. They even get downloaded, sorted, and filed into a generic sorting system I've developed based on seasons, and then within the seasons, special events or  trips or whatever strikes my fancy. I'm pretty good at doing that much.
Where the whole system begins to drive me absolutely insane deteriorate is when I then have to go through all the photos I've taken on a whim and whisper of some wonderful idea, and I actually have to then crop, manipulate, resize, name, discard -all the tedious shit  time consuming, but important, background work that is crucial, before actually sharing any of the shots I've taken in order to illustrate a thought, rant, or point of view!
I have started writing for Bird Canada (http://www.birdcanada.com/) on  the 16th day of every month, not just to help shine a light on birds of the Ottawa Valley in eastern Ontario. It's  also an exercise in stick-to-it-tive-ness, it's a way for me to keep writing, even though I have been too busy to do so lately. (See opening statement.)
ALL THAT BEING SAID!! as I sorted through a whole bunch more shots  today, I thought that I should do something with them...and remembered (insert winking smiley face here) that I have this blog I've been neglecting lately.This one. The one that you, Gentle Patient Kindly Reader, are now reading.
As the light here at home on the shores of the Ottawa River begins to fade, let me show you some of the pictures I've taken over the last little while. Pictures that I HAD to take, because the light was incredible -and unbearable, with apologies to Milan Kundara. He wrote that "when the mind speaks, the heart finds it indecent to object" in his book The Unbearable Lightness of Being. I agree. And here are the photos I just had to take to someday share with you. In each of these shots it was the light that commanded my attention.

I have dozens, no, tens of dozens more photos. But, I think that's enough shedding of the light for one night.
I am a lover of light. My home has no curtains. And to quote Leonard Cohen, 
"There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in."