new poem – Staring down the throat of Labour Day

Staring down the throat of Labour Day

I am too old by a century or two to fear the new school year.

I need no pencils or notebooks, no ruler to measure with,

No heavy duty three ring binder

I can toss in my locker for the whole endless school year.

I have no buddies to reconnect with during the first day back.

No class schedule to analyze to figure out

how bored and stressed the school minutes will be.

No girl crushed upon to search for

with my eyes in the hallway

the first day back.

I am not a student.  I am not young.  I am an old fart.

But I could use some lined paper at a discount price

So I will in my soul become young once more, a student once more,

and go school supplies shopping reduced absurdly once more to a nervous

young boy trying to swim forward in his life.  One fish in the school.

In the store the water should feel warmer I think.

manipulating nature photographs

working in a different way to manipulate landscape photos lately

I am working with two cameras these days: digital single lens reflex, Nikon D3100 with a 18-55mm lens, and a point and shoot digital camera, Sony H50 (15x zoom lens).  The software I use to manipulate images is Corel Paint Shop Pro x4.  The technique I use varies.  Mostly it is two steps, local tone mapping which tends to brighten the image a little too much for my liking and then I darken the image by using the brightness/contrast function.   Then after that I may try a few others things with the software.  My goals is to get a darker, richer, more contrasty image.  A somewhat surreal image.  Sometimes that is the goal.  I am never completely satisfied.  My personal handicap is red green colour blindness which is a problem for more subtle colour editing.

Remembering William Windom, My World and Welcome To It and my brush with Thurber

Actor William Windom passed away at 88 this month, he was born in 1923.

I remember seeing him in a million things on TV especially My World and Welcome to It his Emmy award winning time. He won for best actor in a comedy series. The show won the Emmy for best comedy series in 1969-70.  He had a wonderful solid voice. I vividly recall the cartoons and situations based on James Thurber, he of New Yorker fame. Earlier he starred in The Farmer’s Daughter (1963-66) where he played a fictional Congressman who had a housekeeper played by Inger Stevens, who died tragically so very young. If there was ever a more beautiful and charming actress, she does not come to my mind.

program cover by Tim McElcheran

I think it was 1973 or 74 that I directed and acted in Thurber Carnival with Theatre Mickities at the University of St. Michael’s College at the University of Toronto. We had to stage it not in a proper theatre but a multipurpose lecture and assembly hall.  Our backdrop consisted of  tri-flats on castors, quite tall.  Our production design was black and white.  The men wore rented tuxedoes, the women as close to evening wear elegance as their personal wardrobe departements could mangage,  We all looked fabulous. A very talented student named Tim McElcheran painted our copies of Thurber cartoons.  We used all three sides and spun them around to show an appropriate cartoon for the sketches of the show.  See the black and white photo below, you can see the triflats at the back of the stage. the production was funded by the students union, SMCSU from part of their budget derived from student activity fees.

I must have been influenced by William Windom in MWAWTI to decide to do the sketch play of Thurber humour.  I thoroughly enjoyed him and that show.

Right now I am recalling Mr. Windom’s  Maine accent on the long running Murder She Wrote where he played the Doctor.

lurking on the left is me, centre stage is Sue Gougeon in the sketch, “Word Dance Part II” from Thurber Carnival, Theatre Mickities production 1973, St. Michael’s College at the University of Toronto.

Walter Mitty faces the firing squad in Thurber Carnival 1974, Roseanne Luckevich left and Fred Butzen as Walter Mitty

new photo project – 4 seasons view of Tay Township creeks

my plan is to take photos of creeks in Tay Township through four seasons, Tay Township is in central Ontario on the south side of the east end of Georgian Bay



camera here is Nikon D3100 and 18-55 mm lens

3 old photos of people

  three old photos of people – a mother and daughter descending steps, my late father and his shadow, veterans marching in Victoria Harbour, Ontario, Canada

an old poem of mine – Grosse Île

Grosse Île

We are guided through the Reception Hall,

lose the sound of the St. Lawrence River.

Gape at the baggage cages,

the immigrants’ luggage and clothing

packed on these

for disinfection

in the steam and sulphur



Our guide explains why the shower stalls

have wire mesh roofs.

To keep the people from climbing out.

I look inside the galvanized grey casing

and stare at the shower tube and the three

wrap-around shower pipes

and I step back.


Later we walk down the trail

to the Irish cemetery

from 1847,

the famine year,

the big death year.


There is still one building from then.

One old cover shed still there.


Later I read how the government debated

the costs of sheds to cover the immigrants,

to get them out of the tents and the open air.

Not enough money for milk and bread.

For medical supplies.

The doctors and nurses, the nuns and priests

falling sick, dying.


How the St. Lawrence was full of ships

anchored, waiting with their sick, and dying

with their dead lying in the bunks of the crowded

stinking lower decks.

Where family members were too frightened.

To touch their own dead, for burial.


I read the list of those who died.

Unknown Dutch man

Unknown Irish child

There was one William Gibson,

Captain of a ship out of Liverpool,

his ship with sick and dead

in 1847.


from the Parks Canada page:

Grosse Île and the Irish Memorial National Historic Site of Canada commemorates the importance of immigration to Canada, particularly via the entry port of Québec, from the early 19th century to the First World War.

Grosse Île also commemorates the tragic events experienced by the Irish immigrants at this site, primarily during the typhoid epidemic of 1847.

The commemoration on this site is also based on the role the island played from 1832-1937 as a quarantine station for the Port of Québec, long the main port of arrival for immigrants to Canada.

camera into the forest and back in time

Some photos of a Huron village site, more precisely the midden next to the village.  Midden is the polite word for the village dump, which has been sitting on the edge of a gully side that drops down into a creek.  All of this near Penetang, Ontario.  The village, undated at the moment, either from the 17th century and the time of the French contact time or earlier.  This site was not officially known until a few weeks ago.  Sadly it has been picked over to some extent by people who some call “looters” and others label them “curiosity seekers”.

Today was day one of a two day public but controlled numbers access to the site hosted by the Ontario Archaeological Society Huronia Chapter with the site under the direction of the licensed archaeologist, Dr Alicia Hawkins.  The Simcoe County Forest was in on this as well.  There was participation by some staff from the Simcoe County Museum.

I took photos with my Nikon D3100 and 18-55 lens, with no light or with the Metz 44 flash unit or with the Polaroid ring light attachment.  It has rained hard yesterday and today, but not when I walked in and took photos.  The workers had a blue tarpaulin tied between trees to shelter the area being worked and where the dirt was screen shaken and checked.  Even with the tree cover there was good light and some good shots were possible.

The trees were about forty feet high.  On the forest floor rich dark soil growing small treelets, a lot of maples trying to make it and most at a height of about 12 inches, which created a kind of “false floor” of green shoots to step through and discover the uneven soil below.  There were also a lot of dead branches on the forest floor, but overall the walking was not too bad.  I had brought along a walking stick and it was essential.  My winter with an aircast on my left leg has left me with weak legs and they certainly felt weak today.  On the way out on my own I missed the trail and finally emerged from the forest about a 100 yards west of where the trail was and where I had walked in but that was ok.  Mosquitoes were few.  As for poison ivy, time will tell, probably by morning.

This was my first visit to a public archaeolgy day. I was at the field school public day last year as well. What struck me today was the enthusiasm of the people working. Also at the hard work that is involved. I missed the monsoon moments, but the conditions were difficult. People seemed both enthusiastic and highly satisfied to participate directly in archaeology, which can often seem to be reduced to sitting in a dusty auditorium listening to a speaker with modest presentation skills talking at a series of less than pulse-pounding documentary photos. Interesting but a little detached from direct experience. So a public archaeology day allows interested folk the chance to stand on a former village site and touch the past. In this modern day that is a remarkable experience.