Bondi Resort Blog

Come on into our Blog for a look at the wonderful world we've got to share! With over 240 hectares (600 acres) of wilderness woodlands surrounding the resort, just ten minutes from Algonquin Park, we feature over 400 metres (1200’) of waterfront and beach; boat rentals; summer hiking trails winding through fields and woods; 20 km. of groomed cross country ski trails and snowshoeing in winter; access to nearby snowmobile trails for sledders, and a toboggan hill for the young at heart.

Saturday, October 30, 2010


Big John, also known as "Grandfather Bear", dropped by on Friday. While here, he smudged my house -- a Native American ceremony involving the burning of sage, and an eagle feather, invoking the six directions and sweeping away any lingering 'bad election karma' that might be lingering within these walls. Not to mention lingering on my own person! I, too, was smudged, letting the smoke wash over my eyes so I can see clearly, my ears so I can listen closely, my mouth so I can speak wisely...

Yes, I ran for re-election for Franklin Ward, and yes, I won the seat. New Council, new beginnings -- time for a newly smudged house!

Before he could commence, he had to pass the "Achmed Test".

Tremendously generous, as always, he gifted me with a small onyx Worry Stone. I'm going to be so centred, uplifted, and worry free...

At least, that is the plan!
Big John works part-time at the Trading Post in Dwight during the season, so if you are in the area, be sure to stop in and say 'hello.' He also works with healing circles, native teachings and Ojibway medicine wheels, and he's quite an interesting chap.

In exchange for his gifts, I presented him with a Barred Owl Feather for his feather collection. He used that feather for part of the smudging ceremony as well. A little Owl Wisdom smudged through the house can't go wrong!!

The Calling of Names

In the air, a grouping of geese is called a 'skein'. Lovely word. Lovely sight.

On the water, a grouping of geese is called a 'gaggle'. Not quite such a lovely word, but still a lovely sight.

On the land, that same grouping is called a 'flock.' We have a few other words for it. Today there were twenty of the beautiful birds, all hanging out on the lawn. It's quiet here right now, with most of us away on our own vacation, so the wildlife is taking advantage. These birds will leave when the snow comes -- which given the look of the sky yesterday will be pretty soon.

It cannot be soon enough. We think Canada geese are strikingly handsome birds, amazingly able to migrate huge distances working in partnerships that increase the distance they can fly by up to 70% and lower their heart rate by flying in those great V shapes. We could all learn about teamwork from them. On the down side, in the past few years, the geese seem to be migrating less, and hanging about more, and that's an issue.

So while we like them, we like them best when they are in flight.
The deer are clustered on the lawn right now as well. While they can be correctly termed a herd when they reach certain numbers, smaller groupings like this are more properly referred to as a "parcel" of deer.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Surf's Up!

High winds yesterday played havoc with the hydro. One might have thought that after all the line-clearing that took place prior to the G8, there would be no trees left to fall on lines. One would be wrong.

The wind was quite unsettling, roaring like a freight train in the tree tops. At one point during the day, one of the chickens -- running towards me on tiptoes, wings outstretched -- actually achieved lift-off... The chicken was as suprised as anyone.
The hydro went out, came on, went out again.
Overhead, clouds ran before the wind. The day was warm -- up to about 14 degrees.

Not as hot as at Long Boat Key, where Brian, Carol and Dave are disporting themselves on the beach this week... Even while on vacation, they are always willing to promote our name, as you can see from their current sandcastle creation.

But our surf was just about as good as theirs. And we had a great blue heron here, as well.

We don't however, have those lovely sandpipers.


You'd think we had enough trees around here. Really, you would. But every summer there is one bird who decides that the artificial Christmas trees we keep in the riding arena to decorate fences are a better option.

We don't use the arena much in the summer season. When the weather is nice, it's better to be outdoors. The arena comes into its own about this time of year, as the rains come, the mud lingers, and the occasional snow flurry slaps you in the face.

But just because the horses aren't up there working up a sweat doesn't mean it's not a busy place. This summer, we found deer tracks and deer beds in there. Plus the tiny, perfectly aligned tracks of fox. Doubtless the same fox who drops by for chicken take-away.
There is a robin who takes great exception each spring to the wall mirrors. And this year, we had a tiny visitor crafting this perfect nest. As the horses would say, "Welcome to the NEIGHbourhood!"

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Napster Goes to the Mall

Helping fundraise for the Animal Shelter for Huntsville, Napster was invited to make a guest appearance at the Huntsville Place Mall today.

We admit to being nervous. We weren't sure how the Diva cat would feel about hanging about in a cage in a room full of strange people and homeless cats for three hours.

We need not have worried. He took to the task with his usual grace and charm, meeting his adoring public, entertaining the crowds, and -- yes indeed -- selling cards and prints. He raised more than $200 for the shelter during his brief appearance, so that is all good!

All the cool cats were there -- including those whose face paintings were unrivalled! The Huntsville Otters were on hand to do the 'heavy lifting', and Dean Wilmott and Beau Orser escorted him to the car, while Barb and I carted out his easel, paintings, and the critically important treat dish...
Recently featured with a spread in the most recent issue of CottageDog magazine, Napster is the first Cat to break into it's pages, and of course feels that he has definitely raised the tone of the publication with his presence...
It's been great fun, and his artwork has made a whole lot of people smile, and that's all good. So is the cash he's helped raised to help the Shelter Animals. Take a bow, Napster (not a bow-wow!).

Along the Shore

Here's who (and what!) we've spotted, Achmed and I, on our walks along the beach this week.

Down by the creek beyond Springside cottage, a great blue heron was hunting in the shallows.

He had some competition for the fish from a solitary merganser who had staked out the shoreline by Clover cottage. At this time of year, you can really see how red the beak is.

The mallards, too, are in full plumage now. The drakes' gorgeous green heads reflected in the water. They were taking a short duck-nap under the willow tree by my house.

Achmed went way up in the cedar tree to check out what else we might find. The climbing up part was easy. Much loud complaining was heard when he had to figure out how climb back down!

The pond by the hangar was doing it's very best to be a mirror.
Although the maples are all done, dropping their leaves, and the hills are taking on a more monochrome tone in preparation for winter, this is when the bronze oaks and the strong golden poplars really shine, particularly as with this tree all by itself among the white birches on the hillside.

Although there were brief moments yesterday when snowflakes hung in the air, today the mercury climbed back up to t-shirt weather.
We had some hikers enjoying our trails, but none who enjoyed them more than Achmed did, escorting me along the shoreline...

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Everybody Goes to Tim Horton's. Everybody...

We can hardly bear the excitement... yesterday at the Tim Horton's next to the swing bridge (the one that doesn't swing, right there on Main street) a mother bear and her two cubs dropped by. With the commotion of traffic and people, and a barking dog, Momma found it 'unbearable' and took to the high ground, shepherding her cubs up the tree.

That's where they stayed, hanging about like oversized fruit, from about 6 a.m. in the morning, while the rest of the world came and went, got Timbits and Double Doubles, drove in, drove out. The activity below them bearly made a dent in the siesta taking place overhead.

These photos are courtesy of David Harris, Shawn Pudsey, and Darla Stepanovich, all of whom were able to bear up under the circumstances...

Although, as David points out, it's possible the bears weren't after doughnuts at all... it's possible they were just trying to get to Town Hall to cast their votes before Monday's Election.

I can hardly bear the thought...

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Ducks Unlimited. Wall space? Not so Much...

I really need to curb my enthusiasm. Last spring, at a seminar in Orillia, there was a huge art print in the Motel lobby, a silent auction fundraiser for Ducks Unlimited. My friend Ginny and I both admired the picture, of a ring-necked pheasant, beautifully framed. The minimum bid was $250.00. you couldn't wrap a frame around the print for that kind of money.

While we both commented on both the print and on the beautiful way it was framed, I was the only one of us to shove a bid into the box. Ginny meant to, but was distracted. I put in a low bid. After all, as I said to Ginny, the object wasn't so much to get the print as it was to encourage Ducks Unlimited, so they'd think lots of people were keen to participate in their fundraiser efforts. I went to $275.00, and thought no more about it.
Until later in the spring, when the auction closed, and I got the phone call. Then we had to figure out where to hang the piece... which now decorates the wall in the Lodge lounge. (a place where it is almost impossible to photograph without reflection, but you'll get the idea!)
This October, I was judging a horse trial in Hawkestone. With a very early start time to the competition, I spent the night in the same motel. There was another print on display. Well, secure in the knowledge that lightning rarely strikes twice, I bid on this one. Spent a restful night, had a great day watching horses dance, gallop and jump, and thought no more about it.
So when the print arrived yesterday, we were all standing about with quizzical expressions, trying to decide where best to hang this one...
Called Fire and Ice, by Daniel Smith, it is a lovely thing, with a trio of wolves emerging from the dense forest into a sunny, frosty clearing.
And, even more exciting, I've discovered that I don't have to drive to a motel in Orillia just to bid on Ducks Unlimited items... It can happen right here, at the computer, with their on-line auction.
Now, no wall space is safe...

Monday, October 18, 2010


Come harvest time, we think of the traditional root veggies coming up out of the garden soil -- potatoes, squash, zucchini, onions, carrots, beets. And yes, we've 'been there, done that'. Carol has also been bringing in flowers: dahlias (let us know if you'd like a few... we seem to have hundreds!!! Far more than we can replant next spring!), and her exotic passion fruit plant that summers in the garden climbing here and there over a huge trellis.

But we have some less traditional October harvests as well. Rose hips, so thick on the wild rose that grows along the garden fence the entire bush looks red from a distance. Loaded with Vitamin C, they boil up into quite a pleasant tea.

Raspberries -- Carol found a new variety this year, that bears fruit twice. It is still getting itself established in our soil, and this year the frost put the brakes on the second harvest, but it is currently heavy with berries that are just not quite ripe. And probably won't ripen, given the cold nights. It augers well for the future, though, since we all love fresh raspberries picked from the vine. With hope springing eternal, on every warm day we get, I prowl along the vines, just in case...

The chickens were deliriously happy to find us cutting back the asparagus. In and out of the fronds they explored, snapping up the tiny berries.
Carol was emptying the greenhouse, readying it for winter by relocating various plants into indoor quarters. In the big garden, she was admiring the row of leeks, just waiting to hop into the soup pot with the potatoes. Then she dug into the dark soil, bringing forth part of what is not a large harvest, but a funky one. She planted peanuts this year.
And they grew. (Both of them!) While she maintains she'd hoped to have them to make boiled peanuts, we suspect she really grew them to ensure she remains her status as Chippy Chip the chipmunk's title of BEST FRIEND EVER. So this is what peanuts look like, folks, before they get into the little tiny bags you get on the airplane...

Saturday, October 16, 2010


This little pine marten was spottd in the woodpile at a friend's house. He moved from there to try his luck "trick or treating' at their bird feeder.
Martens are shy creatures, and fast, so it's not easy to spot one.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Napster Goes to Parliament Hill. Sort Of.

Last Saturday there was a fundraiser at the Community Centre, for a group of young people from this area who are heading to Kenya next March. They are travelling with ME TO WE, better choices for a better world. It's going to be a life altering trip for them. I know. I spent five weeks in Kenya, the country is amazing. The people are amazing. The culture is amazing. And I mean that in its literal sense, one stands amazed : astounded; suddenly filled with wonder. The kids will be helping build schools, and other humanitarian projects.They will be meeting the people, extending their horizons in ways they can't yet imagine. That's how better worlds get built -- through connections.

But, of course, they need to raise money before they can go. Marcy was the driving organizer behind this one, but a whole village of people showed up to help. There were all sorts of foods -- baking, soups, entire meals, jams, jellies -- all donated by local area chefs. Handicrafts. Native plants. Jewellry. Clothing. Everyone brings what they can.

Napster brought one of his paintings. A small enough item, to be sure, in the greater scheme of things, but not so small, really... His donation helped to raise both money, and awareness.
Not to mention raising his fame level, because the piece was snapped up by the Right Honourable Tony Clement, Canada's Minister of Industry. We're pretty impressed that Tony took the time to come to this fundraiser in Dwight. We're pretty impressed that he bid on Napster's print.

And the cat? Well, he is finding it hard to contain his excitement to learn that one of his works will be hanging in an office on Parliament Hill. Tony commented on Twitter that he thought the picture looked like a hummingbird. Which is lovely. Hummingbirds are the totem for Joy.

There's also a woodpecker to be found (Napster's work is so universal, there's something for everyone!) And if you turn it, there's a Dove Ascending...

Napster has his paws crossed that perhaps he'll be able to help out with the Minister's Christmas shopping... after all, he has a charming abstract of a horse in profile, ideal for the incoming Governor General's dressage riding wife... there's the print that is going on auction to raise money for Hamilton to Haiti, perhaps a suggestion of a small gift to our fantastic outgoing G.G.

There's a whole slew of possible recipients up there on the Hill, all of them perhaps ready to benefit from a pack of Napster Notecards... and a good chuckle, and a few dollars more to support the charities that receive 100% of Napster's proceeds...

Cats can dream...
He'll have his work on show at the Huntsville Place Mall on Oct. 22nd and 23rd (at least his art will!) fundraising there for the Animal Shelter for Huntsville.
He's just trying to do the math, to figure out how many cards and prints he should send in for the occasion... fame can be so complicated...

Le Poney, et Le Cheval Gris

Sarah was visiting over Thanksgiving. Having proudly showed her school results to all of us, impressing us with her 100% in her first ever French course, she then took full advantage of the superb weather we had that weekend. Including taking Bailey for one last stroll in the lake. He is quite the water horse, and truly enjoys spalshing about with the water over his tummy.

"How far out can I go?" she asked. Well, that's limited by the fact that you are wearing boots and Bailey is wearing a saddle... was the reply. She still got out quite a ways, making a lovely picture against the blue water and coloured trees.
Then, with Bailey back enjoying his pasture, she helped with pony rides for the small children here that weekend. And, quite unexpectedly, she got to practice her French vocabulary! Glodina and her litttle daughter Chloe were delighted to be able to chat about "Le Poney", or, as he is better known, Squeegee.
Le poney, il est tres gentil!
Mais oui!

Bear With Us

It's the season for apples ripe on the old pioneer trees. Berries are done, but acorns and beech nuts are out in force. Bears, sniffing the air and smelling the approach of winter, are on the hunt for up to 20,000 calories a day. That's how bears bulk up for the long winter hibernation.

A few weeks back, some of our hikers reported spotting a small bear in the back field, near one of the old apple trees. About a week later, we had another reported siting, of a small bear skedaddling away from walkers on the Lookout trail. Out on a nature hike, I found bear scat (black bear scat... with seeds and twigs, not grizzly scat with bear bells and pepper spray) but knowing there are bears in the woods is one thing. Catching up with them is quite another. For one thing, it's hard to be that quiet, particularly now when the leaves are coming down, and are crunchy and rustling underfoot.

We are very Bear Aware here, because we do live with wildlife. We are -- and we educate all our guests -- to be very careful with garbage. Not to leave food on bbq's, or outside where the smell would draw in a hungry bear. When we get reports of bear sightings, we ensure that our guests know what to do if they do encounter a bear -- in anything other than the normal fleeting glimpse.

But getting a photo of our elusive wary neighbours is a challenge. Mike has a stealth game camera set up in the bush just now, near a deer feeding station. It's a long way from any residences, deep in the woods. You have to know where to go to find it. He was kind enough to share these pictures, of a young bear who is bound and determined that the food in that remote feeder is meant for him, and him alone.

Stealth cameras are wonderful for stuff like this. Brian has one -- he's got some great images of raccoons, skunks, even Achmed at midnight, misbehaving... They trigger on movement, and don't use a flash, so the animals aren't disturbed. The results can be lovely -- as are these, of our young bear, well away from people, just being a bear. We love to see photos of bears in the woods, provided we are not face to face with them at the time! And for their part, our bears have been models of good bear behaviour, staying well away from people and buildings.

Not like the wolf pack -- ten days ago, when Brian went out to fill up the wood furnace at 6 a.m., he heard the pack howling. Close. Very close. He walked to the edge of the big barn, and there, in the horse pasture by the Port Cunnington Road, he could actually see the pack milling about, howling to some more distant pack members across the road. Right there in the field! They were long gone before anyone else was up and about, and of course, no photos of them... But they, too, might wander into the viewfinder of the Bush Camera before we're done... we can only hope! We'd welcome some photos of them, as well!

Twice this autumn a wolf has trotted down the road while Nancy has been driving to meetings -- once on the Fox Point Road near Marsh's Falls. Once, half way to Dorset. On both occasions it was too dark, and happened too fast, for a photo op!

Fashion Statement

Terry-Lynn, a friend down the road, reported that she'd spotted this little chap while she was jogging past Bondi.

We were able to catch him on film, working it for the cameras, yesterday.

He's quite striking. We're not sure if the white tip on his tail is simply a fashion statement or if he has joined the ranks of the famous Tail Painters of Bondi...

Either way, Earl the Fashionista Squirrel is quite unusual and entertaining to have about.

After all, anyone can have a black squirrel... but only a select few have one like this!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Giving Thanks

We had a lot of family here for the weekend, so to give Carol a break from cooking, we traipsed next door to Lumina Resort on Saturday. Shawn, their master chef, had a tremendous buffet set up, and let us not even mention the dessert table! Truly a feast for all tastes!

That's one of the great things about this part of the Lake of Bays. While we are a housekeeping cottage resort, our guests are welcome to drop

by the dining rooms of our friends and neighbours at other area resorts. Lumina is withing walking distance -- if you can still move after nibbling all the goodies on offer!

We're very grateful to have neighbours like these -- and to be able to take advantage of their dining rooms on occasions like Thanksgiving!

Fire Tower

Built in 1922, this was one of the original Fire Towers from which rangers watched the forests for signs of fires.
Right now, there's a different kind of blaze in the forest, with the trees in autumn colours!
The original external ladder lead to the top, 82 feet high, and provided a panoramic view encompassing 310 sq. miles.
In 1967, a new Tower was constructed, complete with the current stairway.
There's a display in the Algonquin Park Visitor Centre, built around the original ranger station from the top of the Tower.
Imagine the view from up there -- which explains why tour buses start to back up along the road on the long Thanksgiving weekend waiting to get there. Go a little 'out of season', and you can have it all to yourself.
Stay with us at the same time, and enjoy our terrific 'out of season specials', such as . 6 people, 3 nights, $600.00

Friday, October 8, 2010

Now we know...

Every year we mow our huge back fields. That's part of our management agreement with the Ministry of Natural Resources -- everyone thinks of forest management, but some areas, such as this field, is managed for wildlife. Lots of species need open grasslands, and this provides a critical pocket of habitat. It is thick with wild sage, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries,blackberries, hop hornbeam, wild apple trees and so much more. Bordered on one side by a black spruce bog, it is a haven for wild turkeys, rabbits, ducks and insects of all kinds.

We can't mow until after the butterflies are done... so it's always in late September, early October that we head up there with the brush-hog on the tractor. Prior to that, we only mow critical areas around the cross country training fences that are scattered here. And mowing those is a slow process, since we have to get down and look for monarch caterpillars constantly. Still, the pay-off of butterflies drifting through the fields is payback enough!

There is an abundance of milkweed in these fields. Which explains the abundance of monarchs. We don't know why people want to tear these out of gardens. The plants are strong, attractive, the flowers gorgeous and fragrant. The young seedpods are edible. They are the ONLY food for monarch caterpillars. And at this time of year, the real magic happens, when the pods open up and the seeds parachute out on their long silken tendrils.

Over the years mowing these fields I've been visited by all kinds of wildlife. Deer graze, unperturbed by the tractor. Wild turkeys flock past. Two years back, a big wolf came out of the forest, sat down and watched me mow for about 20 minutes before leaving. I think he was waiting for me to leave so he could come out hunting the mice that scamper through the tall grass.

This year, we learned something about diesel engines. The fuel gauge wasn't working -- who knew? and I ran the engine dry. Now, that's a bad thing for a diesel. The only good news was that I was high and dry in a sunny field at the time. Brian takes this tractor through our ski trails, and if it had happened while down in the boggy bits it would have been far worse.

Thankfully, Brian was within hailing distance. Poor chap, every time he has tried to get to work in the sugar bush -- cleaning, re-organizing, re-tooling -- something has come up. This time it was the tractor. A diesel run dry does not simply start when you fill up the tank. Air gets sucked through the lines and jammed up at the injectors, which cannot get fuel because of the air bubble. The lines have to be "bled" to remove the air. But that's not a simple task. It entails (as we discovered) removing the engine cover. Trying out an assortment of wrenches. Cursing because nothing is within easy reach, or at an easy angle. Priming the engine repeatedly. When we at last had fuel through all the lines, the engine still was unco-operative. Brian hooked up a chain, and towed the tractor across the field, and that is how we got the wretched thing started again. We are very blessed to have Brian, who's skills are wide and who can "fix anything."

We'll be getting a new fuel gauge. You can take that to the bank. And take it from us, don't run your diesel engine dry... not fun.

Napster is in Demand!

Napster has been asked to donate to two causes this week alone!

He's been thrilled to provide a framed print, close to home for the Me to We fundraiser for Team Kenya. A group of young students from the area who are headed off to Africa on a humanitarian mission with this excellent organization, and to raise the funds they need, there is a great super deluxe sale at the Community Centre in Dwight tomorrow. Not just a bake sale, they've cornered local chefs to provide gourmet items, gathered up local artists and artisans, and are having a day of celebration. How could Napster possibly decline that offer?

He has also been happy to donate a framed print to the Hamilton to Haiti fundraiser, organized by long time guests Mick and Lil Stewart. They work with the Hopital Albert Schweitzer, saving lives, changing lives, for more than 50 years. This fundraiser takes place in Hamilton, early in the new year, so watch this space.
It's amazing how everyone has an opportunity to contribute to these incredibly important causes. Even a cat!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

October Sky

We get the best sunsets in the fall.

Last night, our lake was dressed in some of the best reflections of the year.

The backdrop to the fall colours in the trees was equally breathtaking.