Friday, May 31, 2013

We're as ready as we'll ever be!

Setting up for the sale
For six months, a small team of a half-dozen volunteers have been sorting, pricing, boxing and storing garage sale items all donated by an incredibly generous community.  On Thursday, a larger team of volunteers helped load up flat decks and trucks, move everything to the exhibition grounds, unload it all, and sort it into its respective areas.  Today, Friday, even more volunteers (including the half dozen of the past six months and most of the ones from Thursday) took everything out of the boxes and arranged everything attractively on about 160 (I think) tables and 16,000 square feet of floor space.  Now that's a garage sale!  

So, we're ready for you.  As ready as we'll ever be.  And I hope we'll see you at Mellor Hall, Cowichan Exhibition Grounds (Hwy 1 at Mays Rd, just north of Duncan on Vancouver Island), Saturday and Sunday (June 1 and 2) from 8:30 AM - 3:00 PM.  It's worth the trip from Victoria or Nanaimo or Campbell River. It's even worth a trip from the mainland!  

We have tools and sports and gardening stuff (including hanging baskets and containers of annuals!), 

One small section of the garden area -
before all of the plants had arrived!

we have electronics and clothes and linens and shoes and purses and jewellery for all budgets! We have an amazing array of kids stuff as well as puzzles and games for all ages.  

I need a kid to buy for!

We have a kitchen department that rivals the big box stores!  We have items for pets - with dozens and dozens of leashes and collars (mostly new!) and coats and dishes, beds and crates and litter pans and aquariums,  and even a saddle, some halters and horse blankets! 

Something for everyone and his or her dog -
or cat or fish or ferret or guinea pig or horse. 

We have craft supplies and seasonal decor.   There's Pricer's Picks - the quirky, exotic, outrageous, classy, and sometimes funny items that took the fancy of one or more of the pricing team.  There's furniture - desks and couches and tables and a bunk bed, rugs and bookcases, enough to outfit your whole house.  

We'll even help you find accessories to accent your
SPCA-special living room suite!
There's art - from modern  little frames to massive ancient pieces.  There's books.  Did I mention there's books?  All sorted by genre.  There's all this and more - and when you get hungry, Bob will BBQ one of his famous burgers for you.

You're not going to find another garage sale like this anywhere.  There's only clean quality goods - no broken or dirty junk here! - and everything has a price sticker on it, most so unbelievably low that you won't need to dither about whether to buy it or not.  We accept cash or credit cards. 

Setting up - and there's more!

And every penny goes to the animals at the Cowichan and District SPCA, which, in my opinion, is the best branch of the SPCA in Canada.  

I hope to see you there.  I'll be the one with the camera in front of my face. 

Monday, May 27, 2013

Haz you seen our mama?

Haz you seen our mama?

We'z looked EVERYWHERE for her.

Sumbody said she's at the SPCA!

She's not a lost dog, silly!

I dunno.  She has been b*tchy lately.
(Heh heh heh)

I'm sure she's got her license.
How come they hazn't phoned us?

Prob'ly not wearing her tags.

Do ya think we should bail her out?

Nah, let's leave her there for awhile.


Me:  Eddie! Mitzi!  I'm sorry you're feeling neglected, but you know us Cowichan and District SPCA Volunteers are all working VERY hard to get ready for the giant, humongous, extraordinary, fantabulous Annual Garage Sale this weekend.  Every penny benefits local dogs who aren't as fortunate as you.

Eddie and Mitzi:  Oops.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

A whale of a time!

It doesn't take much to get a sleepy little seaside place like Crofton excited.  As Eddie and I strolled along the seawalk in front of the RV park full of campers this Victoria Day long weekend, I noticed every single camper had binoculars raised, gazing out across Osborne Bay.

I didn't have binoculars.  I didn't have my big camera.  I only had the pocket one, and all I could see was some blobs on the water.  And then......a huge splash!

Whales!  We had killer whales in our little bay, diving and breaching and spurting their way through the waters as they headed north.  Chatting with the campers, I discovered the whale pod had been swimming through Sansum Narrows and Osborne Bay for nearly ninety minutes, about twenty of them so far.  Even the ferry from Crofton to Salt Spring Island had to stop running to let them pass.

After kicking myself for being poky this morning (I usually do my walk a good hour earlier than I did today), I practically dragged poor Eddie home, grabbed the big camera and ran down to the docks.  Sadly, they had almost all passed through.  But over towards Shoal Island was a  cluster of  little boats and kayakers (no doubt stressing the whales and risking being dunked in the ocean), and some careful focussing and zooming allowed me to capture this rather fuzzy image:

The whales were the talk of the town, and I sure hope we see more of these beautiful mammals in our waters again soon.  An old timer, watching me watching the whales this morning, tells me they used to be here often in the days before a causeway was built from the mill to Shoal Island for the log sort.  In those days - as recently as the 1980s - our beaches were pristine white, long stretches of amazing sands like Parksville and Tofino still enjoy, beaches that people from all over the island came to for picnics and swimming,  Now long stretches are grey and mucky.
Perhaps the return of the whales is a good sign, a sign that slowly industry is becoming more environmentally responsible.  I sure hope so.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

In my garden

Yesterday was the first day in nearly two weeks that I have had a day without a single commitment that involved anyone else.  I had a long list of things I intended to do.  Instead, I frittered the day away.  Between rain showers that left the grass too wet for a much needed cut, I took my camera into the garden to work on some close up shots of flowers and bugs.

(c) Jean Ballard 2013

Red Hot Poker
(c) Jean Ballard 2013

(c) Jean Ballard 2013

Iris in red tire planter
(c) Jean Ballard 2013

(c) Jean Ballard 2013

Bee on Red Hot Poker
(c) Jean Ballard 2013

Caterpillar on Photina Leaf
(c) Jean Ballard 2013

May your day hold as much beauty as mine does.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Copyright Revisited

I have posted about copyright infringement in the past, and I have several times had people infringe on my copyright.  Usually it has been done innocently, by someone who did not realize they could not copy a story or photo of mine and use it for their own purposes.  Once caught (I check for such things fairly regularly), they usually either remove the material or give credit and a source, as per my request to them.  Occasionally, however, it gets nasty - such as when I found one of my photos in a stranger's self-published book, with no mention of my name or my blog. The book was full of plagiarized images, poems and stories - nearly all without any credit given. And she was selling several such books. Feel good books that left me feeling sick.

Understanding copyright isn't that complicated, and anyone who ever writes anything for others to read - on facebook, twitter, a blog, a newspaper, or even a school assignment, for example - needs to know something about it.

You don't need to contact me for permission if all you are doing is giving a link to the page, like this:
Hey facebook friends, check out this  post Jean Ballard wrote about copyright: 
But if you are actually copying and pasting my photos or my story, even if you are cropping the photos or changing the story, you need to get permission.  I have had wonderful requests from some of my blog readers who wanted to use an excerpt from a story or one of my images. And I am pretty generous with giving permission - I'll usually say "Sure, just put my name and blog address following the material."  But if you don't ask, and/or don't get that permission, and I find out about it, expect to have me "in your face(book)".  LOL

This week, the same person who stole my photo posted a dog story on her facebook page, and typed her own name at the end of the story.  I happened to recognize the story - in fact, I have the book in which it was initially published.  And I knew the person who posted it did not write it.  So, in addition to placing a polite comment under the story pointing out this anomaly and providing the correct information,  I contacted the real author to let her know.

By the time the real author checked the page, the person had deleted my comment and attached the correct name and source to the story.  Okay - that partly corrects the problem.  But she had printed the story in full without asking the author (who makes her income from selling her stories) for permission.  Why would someone buy the author's book if they can read it for free, in its entirety, on someone's facebook page?  A page which, if the stats are to be believed, is "liked" by nearly 300,000 people, each of whom can share it with others? When the real author reached out on her own facebook page for advice on how to handle such issues, the one who stole her story became nasty.  Really nasty.  Just as she had with me. And with several others before me.

A quick scroll down the Nasty Person's facebook page revealed another dog story with no credit given - another familiar one, by yet another author.  These are not oversights - I learned of the theft of my photo from others who had seen their images and words stolen by the same person and we had ALL informed her of copyright laws.  She is clearly choosing to ignore the law, she deletes our comments, and she continues to profit from the creativity of others.  It infuriates me.

But I see it all the time - people download my photos every week, and occasionally whole blog entries.  My site tracker provides me with this information.  The site tracker only tells me their IP number, the city they live in, and what material they downloaded.  But if I search the web using one of the various websites available such as Google Image Reverse or Copyscape  and find the material used elsewhere without credit, I follow up.

It pains me to see how many people post things on facebook, blogs and other internet spaces or in print materials without giving credit.  Art is WORK, and it comes from our hearts, our minds, our bodies - whether it is photography, writing, painting, sketching, sculpting, or any other kind of creative endeavor.  To use it without the artist's permission and without due credit is to steal their labour and their soul.

My earlier post, at the beginning of this entry,  gives some guidelines for Copyright in Canada.  And there are other good resources out there.  Here's two I like:

This one explains in everyday words how to know what you can or can't copy and share on facebook :

And this one suggests some things you can do to protect your own work.  While specific to American copyright law, it contains some generic tips that apply to any country:

And now, please share.  I'm putting a link to this blog entry on my facebook page to facilitate spreading the word.  If you don't like  facebook (okay, I don't like it either but I concede that it has its uses), you can click on the title of this post, wait a sec,  and then copy the URL - that way, even if I've posted a dozen more entries, the person to whom you send the link will get this particular page rather than the start of the blog itself. And since all you did was send them the link, you aren't violating copyright.

Let's respect the artists among us.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Splashes of colour

It is a busy and somewhat stressful week as we move into top gear preparing for the giant SPCA garage sale June 1st and 2nd.  I'm also headed to the mainland tomorrow for a belated Mother's Day visit with my mom.  And it's election day here in BC with what, so far, looks to be an historic vote as the election results are shaping up to be the complete opposite of what every poll suggested, and the Liberals look set to take their fourth consecutive term, and the Greens take their first seat ever.  All the results aren't in yet, but media is already declaring the Liberal victory, and some declaring a Liberal majority.

But amid all the noise, busy-ness, hype, and bursts of heavy rain, two moments in my day gave me great joy and cause to pause for  a bit.  The first was Yellow Bird:

Goldfinches at the feeder
I have had a finch feeder for years, and until recently never had a finch tempted by the niger seeds within.  A few days ago I noticed some house finches checking it out. But today, as I rushed home from one task to head out for another, I spotted a bright flash of colour.  A gold finch - usually shy, fast, and seen only for a short while migrating through at breakneck speed - was feasting at my feeder.  Two, in fact - a male (the bright yellow) and female (the greenish yellow).  They (and I) spent about a half hour in the back yard.  I kept my distance for fear of chasing them away, but even so managed to get a few good pics.

Hey! There's some meat to go with our grains! 

Then later this evening, Allie was sitting at the bedroom window meowing in her loud 'talking' voice - something she uses when she sees a cat outside or a spider inside.  I went to see what she was talking about and instead of a critter noticed my little rhodo which I transplanted to the side yard last year and was fearing I had killed had, virtually overnight, burst into beautiful blossoms.  Thanks for the heads up, Allie - I might not have noticed it until they were gone!

Splashes of colour, especially when unexpected, make my heart sing.  We all need splashes of colour in our lives.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Floofy dog and yummy dinner

My daughter is visiting for the Mother's Day weekend.  Mitzi and Eddie got all spruced up for the occasion, with a trip to our groomer friend Karen for baths and brushes and trims.  Mitzi is super floofy and cute as a button:

I is ALWAYS cute as a button!

For some reason I forgot to photograph Eddie fresh from the groomer, and he is fast asleep now.

Hmmpff!  I should go live wiv my friend Gail.
I bet she wouldn't forget about me! 

This was the first time my daughter had been to the island in a long while - She had not met Eddie before (he came to me Dec 30, 2011), nor seen the new kitchen or the raised garden beds and giant planter box I built last summer.  She met Mitzi at my cousin's before Anita (Mitzi's former mama) passed away.

She was going to take me out to dinner for Mother's Day, but we couldn't get a reservation for the place we wanted to go and decided we'd rather have a special dinner at home instead.  I grilled the meat and she took care of the rest of it (including cleaning up the kitchen - yay!):

BBQ'd steak and lobster tail, grilled peppers, cuke/avocado/tomato
and feta salad,  and ancient grains salad.

Smells GOOD!

Everything was delicious and we had a lovely relaxing evening at home.  Tomorrow I shall show her the new seawalk extension when we walk the dogs, then take her to Nanaimo to catch the seaplane back to downtown Vancouver.  A short visit, but a lovely way to spend Mother's Day weekend.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Cat on an old park bench

I'm popping into a friend's place this week to take care of their old dog, Zoe,  while they are working the advance polls for the election.  One of their cats, Tux, always comes to greet me and to sit in the garden with me while I encourage the dog to enjoy some outdoor time.  I have taken tons of pics of them - still to be edited - but tonight I'll just post a couple of my favourites:

Tux, on a hot summery day, spies a bug in the grass.

Zoe reluctantly plods after the Camera Lady,
her finely-tuned nose telling her a treat awaits.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Beaches and Cars are no Place for a Hot Dog

So, hands up, those of you who have taken your dog for a walk on pavement, gravel, or sand on a hot summer's day.  

Yes, sand - the beach - a great place for a sunny afternoon, right?  Wrong!  While we trot around in our flipflops or sneakers, our dog's bare paws are being burned by the sun-and-heat-absorbing material on which they are forced to walk.  An internet friend of mine, Nana Nishigaki, made this poster last year and has given me permission to post it here and to invite you to share it with others:

Walk the dog in the early morning and/or after sunset, or choose shady trails or grassy fields for play (being mindful that the dog doesn't first have to cross a burning-hot parking lot to reach it).  Your dog will thank you.

And then there is this scenario:  I'm doing a homecheck for a rescues, or just listening in on someone interested in adopting a dog from the shelter where I volunteer, when I hear the potential adopters say "Oh, he'll never be alone - I want a dog I can take EVERYWHERE with me."  

While making a dog an integral part of the family is a great thing, the expectation to take the dog everywhere raises red flags and, in the homecheck situation, leads to a reality-checking teachable moment. 

There are very few stores that allow dogs, and I've yet to see a doctor's office, grocery, restaurant, or hospital that allows Joe Blow to bring his dog in with him (unless Joe Blow has a service dog due to a disability).  

I see what many  people who take their dogs 'everywhere' do while in these establishments - they leave their dog in the car.  Sadly, on a warm spring, summer or fall day, this is a dangerous practice.  Even with the windows cracked and the car parked in the shade, the temperature inside the vehicle can quickly reach a point that leaves the dog in distress or - to put it bluntly - dead.  

Dogs cool themselves by panting and by releasing heat through their paws - the warm temperature inside the car, combined with car seat upholstery, prevents effective cooling.  The temperature inside a car increases approximately twenty degrees (F) for every ten minutes.  That's 'ten minutes to disaster', as a recent SPCA poster says. 

Tying them up outside the store or beside the car  is no solution as it invites escape or theft.   Leave Fido at home when going anywhere he or she isn't welcome - even if you just plan to 'pop into the store for a couple of things' - you never know when that 'two minutes' will become ten or twenty.    

But you, my dog loving friends, probably know this.  

My rule of thumb is if the temperature is in the high teens - or likely to reach that - I leave the dogs at home. 

It just makes sense.  Summer may be hotdog time, but it is no time for hot dogs. 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Exit Spring, Enter Summer

I know summer is technically still five or six weeks away, but with British Columbia experiencing record-breaking temperatures in the high twenties and low thirties this past week, it won't be long before the spring flowers wilt and disappear.  While photographing the baby birds in my back yard the other day, I took the opportunity to immortalize a spring-flowering columbine:

(c) Jean Ballard 2013

Sunday, May 5, 2013

One year ago today

One year ago today, my family and our friends said our final goodbyes to my sister, Carole, at her Celebration of Life.  It was a warm sunny day in the Okanagan, with clear blue skies as we watched the ashes drift away on the waters and the helium balloons rise to the heavens.

Early yesterday morning, I sat on my back deck cradling my coffee mug in my hands, watching the baby birds in the bird house under the eaves of the shed.  My sister's camera, which I brought home with me last  May, sat ready on my colourful little bistro table in front of me. I knew the babies were ready to fly - most leave about ten days after hatching , and mine had been born nearly two weeks ago.

Like that day a year ago, it was warm and sunny, a perfect day for saying goodbye and for new beginnings.

Dad, I think I'm ready!

I am a fierce and brave eagle!

What're you lookin' at?

Look to the right

Look to the left

It's a long way down.
Maybe I'll wait a bit.

One can easily spend hours and hours waiting for the perfect shot.  Unfortunately, this little guy still didn't take the plunge by the time I had to leave.  By the time I returned, the little guy was gone, along with Mama Bird.
He's gone, lady.
Now WE get the window seat!

Papa stayed around to help the other two - they spent one more night here, and while I was in the shower this morning they all took off.

Such is the life of a photographer -- unless time stands still, there are precious moments missed.  And though I did not see the little birds take wing, I know my sister did.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Locals, if you're heading to Swallowfield.....

... please don't let your dogs run ahead of you over the hill to the river (the popular 'dog diving' spot).  There is a family with babies there:

More pics of the beautiful Swallowfield area later - right now, Eddie and I are off to the vet for his annual blood tests and monthly cartrophen shot.  Just wanted to give a heads-up to the locals on this beautiful, summery day!