Snow in Ontario Today!

We have snow here in Ontario. Might not have it in Toronto but I’m in Barrie. Lots of snow coming down here. Started a couple of hours ago and still going steady. I’m kind of liking it. I was missing the snow last week. Things look so grubby in early Spring. Yeah snow!

Isn’t this a pretty picture? I don’t know who created it. I found it on a blog about some barely related topic with no credit given to whoever made the illustration.

How's Your Day Going?

I’m writing a post about building and maintaining your own web directory on my Word Grrls blog. I started my own web directory, which I had been wanting to do for ages. Took me quite awhile to find software that I could get to work myself. I am still not 100% with it but it is up there and I have begun adding my sites to it. 

I still haven’t met the guy from Toronto. But we still talk online about once a month. I think I am feeling discouraged about it but not quite giving up. I had considered going downtown to Toronto myself this month but after paying the bills I don’t really have enough left that I could afford the travel fare for the local bus (TTC) and the GO bus from here to Newmarket and then Toronto. It would be about $20 each way. Then more for a lunch, or at least a coffee or two. I’d be too poor for groceries the rest of this month. 
My nephew, Zack, and I went to see a movie last week. It was one Zack wanted to see and I had seen the commercial and thought it would be fun. It wasn’t what I had expected at all, very violent. Shocked me and I considered walking out and getting my ticket refunded so I could see something else. But, Zack had wanted to see it and knew it was going to be… what it was. At least I guess he did. He’s 14, an age when they want to see stuff like that. I’m 45, an age when I’d rather think better of the world and it’s peoples. 
I’m having a bleh day today. Lacking in ambition and I’m cold. I just turned the heat on in the house. I have it set at 20 C. I don’t know what most people keep their heat set at but 20 is what I got used to over the winter. It was down to 18 C. I wouldn’t think 2 degrees would really make such a difference in how it feels. 

How to Build a Snake Hibernaculum

I’ve been watching one of those animal shows today and they were talking about snakes. At one point they showed a hibernaculum of garter snakes leaving in the Spring. Made me think about how we could encourage garter snakes or at least help them to survive by having something like that in our garden. I’d also like to build a bat house to encourage more of them too. We used to get a lot when we lived in Alliston. They eat a ton of bugs and only come out for about an hour just as the sun is going down. All the rumours about them being dangerous are a bit overdone. They may have rabies true but that is the extent of the danger.

Meanwhile, back to the garter snakes. I found information about building a snake hibernaculum on the Toronto Zoo website. I don’t know if my Mom would be interested. Not that she is afraid of snakes at all but her garden space is mostly spoken for with all the plants she already has and those she is more than likely to find to add during the garden season.

Would you build a winter home for snakes? In Ontario we don’t have to worry much about poisonous snakes or any other kind of poisonous creature really. Rabies are a bigger worry.

How to Build a Hibernaculum
1. Select a well-drained site protected from cold winds, with good sun exposure (south-facing).  Ensure that surface and ground water flows away from the site (i.e. build on upland areas).  If not, drainage pipes below the frost line may be required to prevent flooding. 
2. Your snake hibernaculum can be sized to fit the available space, but it must be deeper than the frost line (at least 2 meters deep).  Snakes prefer an overwintering site that is close to the water table, but not flooded.  Moist air ensures that snakes do not dehydrate over the dry winter months. 
3. Place rubble in the bottom to create chambers for the snakes.  Chambers created at different depths allow the snakes to move vertically and horizontally to select a preferred temperature/humidity microhabitat.
4. Concrete blocks or PVC drain pipes (with holes cut into the sides along the length of the pipe) can be used for entrances and passages to allow the snakes multi-level access.  Snakes use these passage ways to move to the bottom of the pit and into the underground chambers.  It is necessary to hand place the concrete blocks to ensure that a space or tunnel extends down into the bottom of the pit at each of the corners.  Continue to fill the pit with larger rocks, old concrete blocks and slabs, maintaining as many openings and chambers as possible. 
5. Cap with an insulating layer of smaller rock rubble.  Be sure to leave the entrances open and keep the top clear of shrubs that may grow as the site matures.
6. Protect emerging snakes from predators by having cover objects such as logs, rock piles, brush and uncut grass nearby. 
7. In the spring (mid April to late May), monitor your site to determine if wildlife are using the hibernaculum. Don’t get discouraged, it may take several years before snakes “discover” your hibernaculum.

Wild About Gardening has more information about building hibernaculums for toads and how to keep frogs in your pond as well.

Mookie Morris: Canadian Idol




Mookie Morris was eliminated from Canadian Idol this week. I did not expect him to be gone. He was my choice to be the Canadian Idol this year. So I’m surprised and disappointed. Some of the articles about the voting have said Toronto does not vote for the contestants from Toronto. I’m from Toronto originally and maybe it is true. I don’t think much about where they are from when I vote. I just vote for those I like. I voted for Mookie, over and over. I really wish he was going to be on next week and the week after, right up to the end.

The Mookie Experience on MySpace.

Toronto’s own Mookie Morris rocks Idol judges
July 21, 2008

Andrea Gordon

Mookie Morris, the easy-going baby in a brood of four, has always been called “the coolest Morris,” says his sister Deirdre.

Three weeks ago, Canadian Idol judge Zack Werner called the 18-year-old singer “the coolest guy in the history of the show.”

Quite a leap for a kid who started teaching himself to sing and play guitar four years ago, when a broken ankle put his elite AAA hockey season on hold.

Quite an inspiration for zillions of kids banging drums and plucking bass strings in basements all over the GTA.

Morris is one of the remaining nine Idol finalists, including fellow Torontonian Sebastian Pigott, who compete tonight to become one of the top eight.

“Yeah, it’s kind of a lot to take in,” Morris chuckled over the phone last week between rehearsals.

Nicknamed for former Blue Jay Mookie Wilson’s game-winning hit the evening he was born, the teenager (whose real name is Peter) honed his performing skills in garage bands and battle-of the-bands gigs around Toronto. “I must have been in about 10, I can’t even remember them all.”

After his ankle injury, he gradually eased out of hockey but diverted that same intensity to his music.

His first band was Gong Show, back in Grade 8. They got their start at a concert fundraiser set up by his brother in university. Deirdre Morris, 23, remembers Mookie rocking the house with his version of “Twist and Shout.” The college kids went crazy. A woman’s undergarment was flung on the stage.

Four years later, when he performed that classic at an Idol audition, judge Jake Gold said: “I really do believe you are a star.”

At Northern Secondary School, he was lead singer for Blind Sight, which attracted a loyal following to all-ages events at teen haunts like The Kathedral and Reilly’s. He finished his last school credits at City Academy in January and has been devoted to writing music, playing and “just trying to grow up” since then.

He’s registered for Concordia University in the fall, but says he’d rather end up following his musical dreams.

His mom, Julie Wang Morris, is still in shock. “These were kids who played in the garage!” she hollers over the phone. His dad plays piano and harmonica, she likes to sing and figures musical genes also came from her parents, who lived in a fishing village in Taiwan. Mookie, who she describes as “remarkably secure in himself,” is her only musical child.

She was one of those moms with a minivan who ferried guitars and amplifiers and wannabe rock stars all over the city on Friday and Saturday nights. She was also one of those parents who wasn’t too keen on the venues packed with pumped-up adolescents, questionable supervision, and lots of noise and body-slamming.

“I always worried,” she says. “But it was their only choice if they wanted to play.”

Guitarist Sean Fischer, 19, says Mookie is “a regular dude,” kind of shy. “And then once he starts to sing, he completely transforms.”

Over six-feet tall, dark-haired, brown-eyed and clad in punky blazers and Ts, his look inspired Idol judge Sass Jordan to once describe him as “Louis Armstrong meets Elvis Costello.”

“He has phenomenal presence and soul – you can hear it in his voice,” adds his bandmate, drummer Daniel Singer, 19. But audiences love him mostly because “he’s true to himself.”

That showed up in some of his unusual song choices for Canadian Idol.

Deirdre warned him against “Valerie” by British band The Zutons. Too obscure, she said.

He did it anyway. The judges loved it – it was what prompted Werner’s “coolest guy” compliment. And judge Farley Flex praised his understanding of “who you are, why you’re here and what you want to do.”

“Now I just keep quiet,” Dierdre says.

Last week was “a bit of a low point” though, as Mookie describes it. The response to his rendition of David Bowie’s little-known “The Man Who Sold the World” didn’t overwhelm. He and Pigott were both in the bottom three. The judges noted Toronto isn’t voting.

His mom and sister took matters into their own hands. They produced 300 “Vote Mookie” lawn signs, hung a giant banner over a Yonge St. overpass in their neighbourhood. They’ve organized another “Mookie Night in Canada” tonight at a pub to watch and vote.

Mookie meantime, is revelling in it all, but in his typical laid-back style.

Sure, he wants to win. But his ultimate goal: “just to be happy in life . . . I want to just be able to do music as a job, you know, go on tour, travel the world and record.”

Toronto Star