Hmmmm and Owwww!

I got a call to go down to the public clinic that I used to go to, in order to pick up the X-rays that had been taken of my hands a few years ago after the infamous “elk attack” I experienced (I thought I had posted about this attack here and was going to post a link. It appears I didn’t!). Both hands had been broken and a finger nearly torn off, amongst other more minor injuries.

While waiting in the line at reception to ask for them, I noticed a sign on the counter which announced that my favourite doctor at this clinic, the one who had, in fact, seen me after the elk attack, “in accordance with requirements by The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada” had “voluntarily relinquished the right to prescribe” opiates, barbiturates, and other “scheduled drugs”. I had noticed a note on the front door stating that he was on holidays.

This was a real surprise. He was always very professional and concerned about my blood pressure and my weight (with good reason). I liked him very much. Since I had transferred to a different clinic and now have my own doctor, I hadn’t seen him in a few years — since he took my stitches from the attack out, I think.

I guess wish I knew the whole story. Such a shame.

The “Elk Attack”

Back a few years ago (Sept. 27, 2008, apparently), Mom and I went for a drive up on the Quebec side of the Ottawa River. On a sudden whim, I decided to surprise Mom with a trip through the “safari park” near Montebello. Neither of us had been through one before. This one has Canadian animals like Elk and deer. We stopped in at the park store and bought carrots to give to the animals and went on our way into the park.

Never having been in one of these places, I didn’t know that (although they didn’t tell you not to) it isn’t a good idea to roll your windows down all the way. Since none of the animals are the sort that would be likely to rip our throats out or disembowel us if we opened the windows, We figured it was safe to do so. Safe but not necessarily a good idea. As we drove into the first paddock, we were surrounded by Elk, females and young ones. They immediately started sticking their entire heads into the car and grabbing the carrots out of our hands. While I was busy fending off the two with their heads in my window, Mon was busy with another. Meanwhile, a 4th stuck its head in and grabbed the second carrot bag that was on the floor of the car on the passenger side. When it did so, it pulled Mom’s purse out, too.

After tossing both about some in order to get carrots and being unsuccessful, it walked away.  I had wound up both windows and when it was apparent to the Elk that the kitchen was closed, the all wandered away. Now… I KNOW that you don’t get out of your car in these places. I KNOW you don’t dick around with wild animals thinking they are “cute”. Knowing this and actually heeding this are two different things. With the herd off a good 100 yards, I decided that I could safely get out, run around the car, grab the carrots and my Mom’s purse and get in the car without any problems.

So that’s what I did. I got around the car, picked up the bag and purse and turned to go back around the front of the car… and found myself face-to-face with a very large female Elk. I think back on it and, quite apart from not getting out of the car in the first place, there were several options which could I have chosen and avoided what happened next. Mrs. Elk and I stood looking at each other for a few seconds and then she reared up on her hind legs (looming about 7 feet above me when she did so) and started battering me with her hooves. The first few blows connected with my head and to save my face, I put my hands up to cover it. Then my hands took some blows. I manages to turn my back on her, whereupon she got my back and ribs and as I lay on the ground, she pawed my legs severely. As Elks, like deer, have two sharp hooves, she left bruises and scraped all over my back, thighs, and calves. I thought she was going to kill me. If she had been a he, she probably would have. She finally walked away, probably partly because I was now lying flat on my face and partially because I was bellowing for help.

It could have been worse. My mother then in her early 80s was trying to get out of the car to help me. Luckily, she got confused and couldn’t figure out how to get out of the car… Thank GOD!

I was able to get back into the driver’s seat but then realized that I couldn’t drive, partially because I felt like I was going to pass out and partly because my hands were so damaged. I got out again, managed to hustle my mother into the driver’s seat and me back into the passenger seat and we went back to the park entrance where they called an ambulance for me.

I was COVERED in blood which looked worse than the damage that the blood came from, a tiny contusion on my forehead that needed one stitch and a little glue. My legs and back and ribs were badly bruised and scraped and hurt like Hell but were not broken. The worst injuries were to my hands. My left middle finger was broken between the first and second knuckle.

The right ring finger was broken in the middle of the palm area. and my right pinkie finger was nearly torn off and required 15 stitches in a 1 inch area from the first knuckle in the palm to the back of my hand.

I was certainly the talk of the Emergency room at the only hospital in the district, even more than the drunken man who had been shot by his equally drunken wife with a .22 who had been brought in just after me. I earned the title of Madame Wapiti from the orderly on duty (Wapiti being the Native word for Elk).

I was lucky though. I could have been killed. I went home the same night and, despite having a splint on one hand and a half-cast on the other and having to work by typing with two fingers and moving the mouse with one hand and clicking the buttons with the other (my work requires me to work on the computer all day) I consider myself to be very lucky. I couldn’t take time off because I had no paid time off left after using it in the Spring when I fell on the front stoop and injured my back.

I was too embarrassed to tell anyone but a few VERY close friends and even my family and work were told I was accidentally knocked down a flight of stairs while holding a glass bottle. I finally came clean with them in the New Year, nearly 6 months later.

Ha-ha… Penguins!

Cure – Love Cats

Kitty kats…

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Cure – Love Cats

PhotoHunter: Free

This week’s PhotoHunter theme is “Free”.

For want of anything better, I will post some recent photos which have to do with the theme.

Recently, we rescued two turtles who were crossing the road and in danger of getting squashed. The first we released near a river after taking it for a drive in the car (and getting liberally peed on). The second I wasn’t going to mess with and just rolled it on its back and pushed it to the other side of the road. Snapping turtles are endangered and a protected species.

These are they and they were free to go…

(more on turtle rescue, below the photos)

Blanding's Turtle

Snapping turtle. Just about to flip it...

Last summer….

Painted turtle

Another look at the Blanding’s turtle.

Isn't he cute?

... not so cute....

A few things to remember about turtle rescue…

Firstly, many turtles are endangered and the ones that are not are becoming threatened by loss of habitat. Turtles often have to move across roads to get from one wet place to another, either for mating, for food, or because a pond has dried up or been drained for development.

Thousands of turtles are killed when crossing roads every summer, either when drivers don’t see them or by drivers who deliberately run them over. Accidentally running over a large Snapping Turtle can damage your car, as well, or cause a dangerous road situation. Deliberately killing or harming endangered turtles is illegal and if you see someone do it, you should report them.

It is usually illegal for you to remove wild turtles from their habitat and keep them as a pet. They are important to our ecosystems and should be left where they are whenever possible.

If it is injured, take it to a vet.

Moving turtles is relatively easy but you should always keep your own safety in mind. Be careful when you are standing on or crossing any roadway, especially when visibility is hampered by terrain or weather. If you have someone with you, have them watch for and alert traffic to slow down or stop.

Always make sure that you are putting the turtle on the side of the road that it was heading for and far enough off the road that it won’t try and go back the way it came from.

If you know there is water nearby, take the turtle there and release it near the water (not in it, in case you’ve mistaken a tortoise for a turtle or in case the turtle is injured. You don’t want to drown it!).

Always use caution when approaching a turtle if you aren’t familiar with the various species. Snappers are extremely fast and have a longer reach than you might give them credit for.

NEVER pick a turtle, even a Snapper, up by the tail. You can use the tail to flip a Snapper over but carrying one by the tail can damage the spine. As well, they are heavy and if you drop them, despite their having a thick shell, it can do some serious damage to the shell and it hurts the turtle.

Even if a turtle only breaks the skin if it bites you, the bite can be septic, especially the bites of Snappers. They are carnivores and scavengers. If you’ve ever smelled a Snapper, you’ll know you don’t want one clamping down on your hand…

Small turtles can be lifted and carried easily but watch for claws and jaws. It probably won’t hurt very much but if you are startled by them, you could drop them.

Snappers, if they are small enough can be picked up but you would be wise to wear gloves and, if possibly throw something over them, like a jacket or blanket, just to keep their beak away from you. They have an incredible reach.

Flipping them on their back and pushing them to the side of the road is a good method of dealing with Snappers. Remember to flip them over, again!. I used my car brush to push the last one off the road.

I have used a large piece of plywood to bulldoze a very large one off the road.

I have started carrying a “turtle kit” in the car…. Water (for re-hydrating them and for washing my hands after), heavy gloves, a piece of tarpaulin, and a light snow shovel for pushing them off the road.

Many states and provinces have methods of reporting on-line both rescues and people who have killed or injured turtles. Make a careful note of where you were, the habitat, the description of the turtle, any injuries, and where you released the turtle if you transported it. Get photos if you can. I use Google Maps to pinpoint locations and to obtain the longitude and latitude.

Since I spend many a summer day on the back roads, I have rescued a number of turtles, as well as other animals, including snakes and injured birds. Every animal saved helps make up for the millions that die on our roads every year.

Sunday Drive

On Sunday, Mom and I went on another Sunday drive, along a favourite route. Bolton Road, which eventually becomes Kyle Road, runs south from Highway 43, west of Kemptville just east of Merrickville, all the way south to Throoptown on Highway 21. That’s a distance of about 22.56 km (14.02 miles). It is a lovely drive along mostly dirt roads.

We continued after the trip right down Bolton and Kyle Roads by driving back up to where Land O’Nod Road starts at Bolton Road.  Land O’Nod Road ends at Highway 15, south of Merrickville, a distance of 10.19 km (6.33 miles). Like the Bolton/Kyle Road trip, it is mostly dirt road and lovely. Don’tcha just love the name Land O’Nod Road? Makes me sleepy just thinking of it!

(Robert Louis Stevenson)

From breakfast on through all the day
At home among my friends I stay;
But every night I go abroad
Afar into the Land of Nod.

All by myself I have to go,
With none to tell me what to do —
All alone beside the streams
And up the mountain-sides of dreams.

The strangest things are there for me,
Both things to eat and things to see,
And many frightening sights abroad
Till morning in the Land of Nod.

Try as I like to find the way,
I never can get back by day,
Nor can remember plain and clear
The curious music that I hear.

The round trip from Highway 43 down Bolton/Kyle, back up to Land O Nod Road, along Land O Nod, and up Highway 43 is about 65.64 km, give or take. If you add the kms for the trip from our house to the point on 43 where we turned to go down Bolton, which is about… 115.22 km so the total evening drive was about 180.86 which is a SHORT evening drive for us.

On the Bolton I stopped to take some photos of wildflowers. There was alfalfa which I had never seen in the wild before… or never seen in a field, either, for that matter. It looks a lot different dried in a bag or compressed into pellets for feeding gerbils. It is really pretty and looks like a sort of unkempt clover. Same family, I guess. The flowers are purple and mauve (pronounced “mowv,” not “mawv.” It’s a French word and you look like an idiot if you pronounce if mawv, no matter how many times you hear the likes of Martha Stewart or Oprah pronounce it [incorrectly]. And, in case you need to know “foyer” is pronounced “foy-ay” not “foy-er”. Again… it’s French and that’s how they pronounce it, so they ought to know).


Birdfoot Trefoil, Red Clover

Just a short hop down Bolton, I spotted a turtle in the middle of the road. Since it didn’t appear that there was anything resembling turtle habitat either where it was headed or where it had come from, I picked it up off the road and drove along (quite some considerable distance) until I found the bridge over the Rideau River. I released it there.

It wasn’t terribly pleased to have been rescued but I think it would have been less pleased to have been run over by a 4×4… Every so often, it would start scrabbling in my hand (it was too powerful for Mom to hold) and try to get away… then it would pee on me, the steering wheel, the console, Mom…

I took some photos and identified it later as a Blanding’s turtle.

Blanding's Turtle (isn't he cute?!)

Continuing on our way, just about a mile down the road from releasing the first turtle, I spotted a Snapping turtle in the middle of the road…

Snapping Turtle

...not so cute...

It was a smallish one, about a foot wide and about a foot and a half long, not counting the tail and head. Knowing how fast and vicious they can be, I took a few photos and then looked for something to move it off the road with. The last time I encountered a Snapper on the road, it was about 3 times as big and so heavy that all we could do was bulldoze it to the side of the road. Even so, when it reared up, we were in danger of losing a finger!

This one being smaller, I figured if I could find a stick I could try the old Indian trick of getting it to bite on the stick and lifting it up and carrying it hanging from the stick. But since I couldn’t find the appropriate-sized stick (and, indeed, don’t know if this actually works, I resorted to using my car scraper/brush, flipping it on its back, and pushing it across the road. I  flipped it back over on the other side of the road into a field.

One thing about Snappers is that they STINK! Whether it’s because of their diet or the fact that they wallow in marshes, I don’t know.

Again, it didn’t appreciate the effort I had gone to but since a 4×4 went roaring by a few minutes after I moved it off the road, I think it was in its best interests to be moved. So there….

Snappers are endangered, here in Ontario, and you can make a report to the Ontario Department of Natural Resources, along with other endangered flora and fauna.


So… the move is effectively finished.

The cleaners come in tomorrow and a friend is coming over on Saturday to help me wash the windows (the cleaners “don’t do windows”).

I haven’t yet tackled the garden, either cleaning or taking the plants I want. However, since they will still be working in the house putting in new carpets and the hall and kitchen tiles and then painting, the place won’t be ready for anyone to move in for a while, yet.

Of course, I have had people coming up and asking if they can have any plants and flowers I don’t want. Apparently, everyone likes my garden. I thought everyone hated it because it is a jungle.

Removing the plants and flowers I want to move here will take some time because some of them are just ready to bloom. I can’t even dig up the bulbs, yet, because they have to wait until the foliage is done. Unfortunately, things like my Alium are REALLY good this year and my new garden won’t have the benefit of them. Also, moving plants generally stops them blooming again for at least one year.

However, it will give me a change to put the compost which has been collecting for a number of years in and get the soil ready for the plants to come over.

As long as what happened to another former neighbours’ garden doesn’t happen to mine.

The other neighbour had a beautiful wildflower garden. For years she had been bringing in plants from all over the countryside and it was beautiful. She had promised several neighbours that when she left they could help themselves. The day after she moved out another neighbour and her mother who doesn’t even live in the co-op came in and tore the garden apart. They just ripped out the plants and threw them out.

The same woman (the mother) just takes it upon herself to do things here without any sort of concern as to whether she has a right to do so or whether the interference is necessary. She’s the sort that is very “prim and proper” but rude and disrespectful of others who she sees as being blow her.

The first official day we were in our new home, the satellite installer came. He opened one of the utility boxes on the side of our house and just about had a heart attack when the little red squirrel who lives in the back area came bursting out. It turns out that the squirrel had a nest in the utility box. We carefully closed the box and later the squirrel went back in to his (her?) nest.

That was Friday. On Sunday morning, Mom and I were pulling into our parking space just as the mother rounded the corner carrying a piece of panelling with the nest on it and dumped it in the parking lot. Thank goodness there were no babies in the nest (and lucky for her or I would have called the Humane Society). Not only did she not have a right to mess with the nest because she doesn’t LIVE here but it it is just plain wrong. The nest wasn’t interfering with anything. It was on the side of MY house. AND disturbing it means that the squirrel might decide to move somewhere “safer” like someone’s attic.

Besides. This is a little squirrel. Hardly a rat and doing no one any harm.

I just don’t understand some people.

PhotoHunter: “Cuddly”???? Not….

Just a note… these are not my photos. I have NO photos of anything “cuddly” (and believe me, I LOOKED!). I have photos of my cat but while he LOOKS cuddly he just isn’t. So I cheated this time around. In my defence, I TRIED to take Basil’s photo one time but he immediately ran away and hid under the couch and refused to come out. These photo are one’s taken by my friend Krys.

Possibly one of the least cuddly cats on the planet. What this series of photos just doesn’t capture is just how orange Basil’s eyes are… Pumpkin orange… Creepy!

January Postcard

Ages ago, I got my January postcard through the Benevolent Postcard Society. I just haven’t had a moment to post it.

What I wouldn’t give to be that little fishie, right this minute…

Lucky Fish

PhotoHunter: “Undesirable” Warning! Photos may be disturbing!

Warning! The second photo may be disturbing for some.

undesirable [ˌʌndɪˈzaɪərəbəl]


not desirable or pleasant; objectionable

Nature has a way of reminding us that life is sometimes short and often ends unpleasantly.

I posted the first image in the November 22nd PhotoHunter, “Bird(s)”. This poor bird was trapped in an abandoned building. I found it when I was photographing the town of Claremont, Ontario, which is mostly boarded up and slated for demolition for the Pickering Airport. I cannot imagine how it suffered before finally  succumbing to exhaustion and/or starvation.


Early one Spring, when I was out taking photos near Wakefield, Quebec, I came across this cat carcass. Whether it had been hit by a car and went into the field to die, froze to death, or what, I don’t know.

What was particularly disturbing to me was that, aside from the black toes and gums, it looked so like my Benjamin.

Still, it is life and death… The way of the World.



Chat du jour

Mademoiselle Fifi (or Mlle. Paree)

via Shorpy

Mademoiselle Fifi was the chat du John Moisant who flew the English Channel. She flew with him (and his mechanic), being the first cat to cross the Channel by plane, I understand.

He later died in a crash near New Orleans. From what I can tell, Mademoiselle Fifi is dressed up for the funeral. I haven’t been able to confirm this but it looks that way, anyway. What a lovely kitty kat!

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