Saturday 25 January 2020

Blog Post - 25 January 2020: A Tribute to Rosemary Corbett

“How fragile we are.”
- Sting

A tribute to Rosemary Corbett, who died last week.

Rosemary was a friend, colleague, and mentor. We taught together for almost two decades at Havergal College. She was a gifted English teacher, department head, and vice principal. And she was kind, so very, very kind. During my first husband’s illness and death, Rosemary was a beacon who helped me navigate. She was one of the angels who brought us casseroles. 

At school, we often worked together, especially on hiring and curriculum committees. She was always even-handed, calm, and insightful. In a hiring interview, her questions were probing, eliciting answers that got candidates hired – or not. 

As vice principal, she made it one of her goals to create a school culture that was supportive of everyone’s growth. She coined the word “hecticity,” meaning the needless activities that diverted a school’s attention from its main goals: to teach, to guide, and to inspire. The word stuck and became part of Havergal’s lexicon.

I admired the professional Rosemary – the teacher, the innovator, the resolver. It was the human Rosemary, however, who earned my love. She was a loyal friend, a sparkling conversationalist, an excellent listener, and a trusted confidante. Her travels, erudition, and humanity made encounters with her thought-provoking and inspiring.

Her devoted husband must be devastated. He has lost his trusted soulmate. His daughters have lost their loving mother. His grandchildren have lost their adoring grandmother.

And I have lost my friend.

May those of us who love Rosemary keep treasured memories of her in our hearts as we struggle with her death. And may the following photographs take us to a place of healing and gratitude.

Thank you.

Sunday 19 January 2020

Blog Post - 19 January 2020 - Squirrelling Photos Part 1

This winter is the first time in three years that Bill and I haven’t escaped to Australia. Call us LDMS: Long Distance Marsupial Snowbirds. The reality of winter’s daily grind is currently snow-blowing its way through my soul.

I’ve never been a fan of winter and have to steel myself for blizzards, snow shovelling, ice scrapping, shivering...all while pretending that winter really IS good for my Canadian soul. And photography in the winter isn’t my favourite. Frozen fingers and cameras don’t work for me. 

Having said that, photography in the winter can be magical, especially on those spectacularly sunny days with a blue sky that feeds the soul. Alas, there haven’t been many of those days this winter. Most days have been standard-issue grey...

My dislike of frozen-finger photography can be problematic, however, when I try to post a blog entry each week that features new photographs. This winter, without the prospect of extended time in Australia’s warmth to inspire my camera, I decided to emulate the squirrels by collecting photos in advance. Meaning that I’ve been squirrelling away new photos since October to post over the winter months. I’m not sure how long my stash will last, but at least for a few weeks.

So, please enjoy these autumn images, all recorded in Belleville and Prince Edward County!

Hat on Tree, Bridge Street East, Belleville

Tree Removal, Hillier

Christmas Roof Bird, Bertram Street,  Belleville

Unhappy Barn Door, Highway 33 near Wellington

Storm Damage 1, Rosehall

Storm Damage 2, Rosehall

Canadian Pacific Railway Tracks,  Belleville

Our Neighbour's Throne

Creepy Stuffie, Waterfront Trail, Belleville

Halloween Decorations, Bridge Street East, Belleville

Sunday 12 January 2020

Blog Post - 12 January 2020: Deciding to Love the Cat

I blame the cat on my husband. It was he who decided five years ago that Otis, our beloved dachshund, needed a kitten for company. I had mixed feelings but reluctantly agreed. 

Husband and grandchildren found the kitten in the local animal shelter. Husband wanted an independent black cat who wasn’t clingy. I favoured a calico lap cat, but I’d never lived with a cat, so what did I know?                                                                                                          

The name we chose was Morgana le Fey, after the princess in the Arthurian legends. It soon became clear, however, that she was not so much a princess as she was a pain in the ass, so her name became Pita. (An acronym – get it? Grandchildren still insist it means pain in the abdomen.)

Husband and I decided Pita would be an indoor cat, thus sparing countless birds. Cue applause from the Audubon Society.

I disliked Pita from the beginning. I was sullenly recovering from a back injury and didn’t like how she wove around my feet. I was afraid I would trip over her and re-injure my back. We put a bell on her so I could tell where she was, but she quickly ditched it. My roles as feeder and litter-cleaner didn’t impress her – I was staff, to be tolerated or ignored as required. 

Years went by, and I remained actively ambivalent about her. I tried to like her, but then she’d bite me, often drawing blood. She was everywhere, knocking things over and breaking them, usually in the middle of the night. I tried photographing her, but she wouldn’t co-operate. Most of the photographs are blurry and forgettable.

When husband and I escaped to Australia three winters in a row, Pita happily claimed the house as her own. She and pet sitter, who checked in on her daily, got along famously. When husband and I returned, she looked at us disdainfully, as if to say, “Oh, it’s you. I thought I was rid of you.”

We joked – sort of joked – about abandoning her on a country road, or hiding her in guests’ luggage, or ‘accidentally’ leaving the back door open for her to escape. And she did get out a few times, never venturing far from the house. She even spent an entire night outside. I was surprised at how much I worried about her, feeling relieved the next morning when I found her hiding under the deck.

However...a few weeks ago, I started realizing that I really did love her. There was no dazzling moment of insight. No epiphany. No road to Damascus revelation. It was simply time for me to acknowledge she was part of the family, despite the annoyances. Or maybe because of them.

I had decided to love her. 

She now lets me massage her. She occasionally jumps into my lap. I rub her head vigorously, and she leans into it. As I write this piece, she’s lounging in a nearby chair, staring at me.

I’ve decided she can come to Picton with us when we move in October. That’s the way with family, isn’t it?

I hope you enjoy these photos of Pita. Not my best photography, but they do give you a sense of the little black kitten that has burrowed her way into my heart.

Sunday 5 January 2020

Blog Post - 5 January 2020 - Bloomfield at Night

To start off the new year – a look back at the beautiful village of Bloomfield on the evening of Friday, November 29. For those unfamiliar with Ontario geography, Bloomfield is located in the centre of Prince Edward County. I spent a lot of time in Bloomfield as a child in the 1950s when my maternal grandparents lived there. Once a bustling agricultural community with canning factories and a railway station, Bloomfield today is best known for its boutiques, its Air B&B listings – and its annual nighttime Santa Claus Parade.

I have been experimenting with urban night photography (without a tripod) and decided to use Bloomfield as a testing ground – a good opportunity to play around with camera settings. I’ve already posted photos of the parade itself, but this set of photos features the village before the parade began. Many of my photos I made that evening were forgettable, but a few have a certain magic. It seemed that most homes had their curtains open to allow the household light to shine out into the night as a way of welcoming guests to the community. The photography was a learning experience, to be sure, but I now have renewed respect for people who do nighttime photography without a tripod. I want to work on these skills, but meanwhile the photos below give you a sense of the light and magic that were afoot in Bloomfield that evening. Enjoy!