Farm Inspection

By , July 29, 2013 9:01 am

As a vegan I try to be well informed about the food I eat. In the summer a lot of the fruits and vegetables Val and I eat come from farmers’ markets, particularly the Peterborough market on weekends. When we were at the cottage for a week recently I emailed one of the farms we buy from to see if we could visit to see how it worked. Luckily the farmer emailed me back and offered me the opportunity to be one of his inspectors for the Certified Naturally Grown program. It is pretty close to organic, minus the massive amounts of paper work.

We arrived at Tiny Farm in Peterborough, near Trent University, to begin the inspection/tour. Mike gave me a clipboard with the inspection questions and we were off. The photos that follow are courtesy of Val, of course.


Going through the report was an excellent opportunity to learn about everything from irrigation to cover crops. We discussed organic cow manure, seeds, transplants, buffering from nearby chemical sprays, you name it. Here Mike is explaining soil compaction.


At the end Mike kindly gave us some freshly dug beets and carrots. We visited the Tiny Farm stall at the market the next day and got some lovely baby bok choy and green onions.


It was an educational and inspiring visit. Farming is very hard work. Thanks to farmers like Mike for making the effort to feed us healthy, naturally grown food.


First Two Books of the Summer

By , July 17, 2013 5:50 pm


The Judgment of Paris: The Revolutionary Decade that Gave the World Impressionism
by Ross King

My first book of the summer.

Ross King, whose other art history books I have read and enjoyed  – Brunelleschi’s Dome and Michelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling – is a writer who really gets the idea of social transformation. That is probably why I am so attracted to the late nineteenth century, the era in which the book is set. While society was changing, artistic tastes were slowly catching up. King does a beautiful job of illustrating this by chronicling and juxtaposing the rise and fall of artists Ernest Meissonier and Edouard Manet. Aristocratic tastes and subjects fell while more common, perhaps provocative, ones rose.   Impressionism is so popular today that it is intriguing to read about the original intensity of reactions against its newness. Like any technology or social movement, artistic styles are reflective of their social surroundings.

It’s a good lesson for me; I’m the person who grinds my teeth when I see people glued to their cellphones, yet I have three impressionist posters hanging in my house. How revolutionary I would have been in the 1870s.

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The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America

By Erik Larson

My second book of the summer turned out to be an easy read, highly enjoyable even though some of its subject matter is dark. It is the story of Chicago’s World’s Fair, held to honour the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ “discovery” of America, though technically it opened in 1893 rather than 1892. The parallel story is of a medical doctor who goes on a secret murderous rampage of young women and their children who stay in his hotel.

While the book is interesting in its contrasts of the two main characters, fair lead Daniel Burnham and murderer H.H. Holmes, its main interest for me is the description of society in the 1880s: the easing formality between men and women, the competition between New York and Chicago, and between Chicago and Paris, the previous host of the world’s fair. In third or fourth year university I took a course on popular culture in which I read a book called Highbrow/ Lowbrow: The Emergence of Cultural Hierarchy in America that gave me my first introduction to the White City, the nickname for the buildings designed for the fair that were all painted white. I can’t recall if they were highbrow or lowbrow, so I’ll guess lowbrow.

Though this is not technically a history book (unusual for me) it is well researched by Larson, an investigative journalist specializing in true crime.


Camo Frog

By , July 12, 2013 9:22 am

This guy (maybe she’s a girl) lives in our pond and is very still while being photographed.



July Colours

By , July 7, 2013 5:17 pm

Here are some recent photos with the 200mm macro lens.

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