Saturday, June 9, 2018

Sorraia Photos on Exhibit

A former co-tenant at the Gore Bay Harbour Centre, Helen Siksek, has opened up her Fish Point Studio in the newly renovated, The Inn at Gore Bay (formerly Gordon's Lodge).  Helen is an enthusiastic promoter of the arts and has decided to host several exhibitions this year out of her new location.  The first exhibition is showcasing the love and beauty of Gore Bay five local individuals have captured with their cameras.  Helen organized, processed the images and has curated a wonderful sampling of just how incredible Gore Bay and nearby areas are.

Having followed my blog over the years, Helen thought it would be nice to have some of the photos of the horses and Kevin in the exhibition.  Though I have been madly focused on getting ready for my upcoming large scale exhibition of new artworks that will be opening at the Gore Bay Museum's gallery later this month, I was able to say "yes" to Helen's request for images for her photography exhibition because all I had to do was send her the digital files and she handled the rest.

My photos all measure 11 x 17 inches and are processed and mounted on sturdy foam core and can be hung with or without a frame, no glass necessary.  I decided I did not want to sell these images for personal gain, so Helen agreed to allow me to offer them up in a silent auction, with bids started at $30 each, and proceeds going to the Gore Bay Museum.  The silent auction will run for the duration of the show, from June 8 to July 8.  For more details please contact Helen at:

Long time followers of the Journal of Ravenseyrie may remember some of these images, for all of them were published at one time in various articles of this blog.  If you are in Gore Bay, stop by Helen's shop to see them hanging in their printed format.  If you want to purchase one of these photographic prints, you can participate in the silent auction - you don't need to be there in person, just register with Helen before the end of the exhibition.

Being a bit socially challenged (anxiety in crowds) I did not attend the reception, but was delighted to learn that it was extremely well attended and all the photos from the other participants charmed viewers.  It was so nice that Helen wanted to include images from Ravenseyrie.  I think she did a super job and I am hoping people will enjoy seeing images from in and around Gore Bay that have great meaning for many of us.

After the Rain - Lilac Light

Boy Games

Wild Iberian Stallions of the East Bluff


A Day at the Beach
Wild Stallions and Friend Kev
East Bluff Garlic Grower

Her Many Moods

Stevie on my Balcony

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Tea for Trauma

Such an ordinary morning on April the 20th.

At 9:19am, it became terrifyingly unordinary.

When the dust and metal and wood and
glass stopped falling, I was amazingly able to walk away.

Physically - a few bruises and nothing more.

Mentally - well that has some peculiar challenges...

The Gore Bay Harbour Centre

On that morning, I was backing up our 2004 F-150, at a snail's pace, carefully lining it up with the wooden ramp that crosses over the lower walkway joining the Gore Bay Harbour Centre with the public swim beach.  My studio and gallery are on the second floor and I had come to work early to pick up some large pieces of cardboard packaging and a wooden pallet that were from a delivery of framing supplies received the day before.

When I had the truck in position, I took my foot off the accelerator and gently applied the brake.  Instead of the truck coming to a stop, the engine roared with an open throttle and sent the truck backward at high speed, smashing through the middle post of the wooden ramp. (this ramp is not designed for vehicles, but for foot traffic.)  No amount of firm pressure or pumping the brakes worked and the throttle was possessed with a mind of its own, accelerating the truck across the 40ft ramp and not stopping until after crashing through the glass doors of the entrance to the second floor and becoming wedged in the foyer.

Lovely, kind workers in the other part of the building came to my aid, got my shaking body to sit in a chair while they put calls in to all the proper authorities for such things.  Paramedics came and carried out their regulatory exams and though they urged me to let them take me to the hospital for further tests, they allowed me to forego that by having me sign a form, relieving them of further duties.  I was asked by a co-tenant if I would like some tea.  (Tea and me - we have something special going, but it isn't just the drinking of it.)  I declined, but accepted water.  The town clerk and town foreman took a report from me on what happened while Constable "Bob" waited his turn.  All persons involved with the aftermath were thoughtful and adept and made the ordeal a little easier to process.

Not wanting me to be alone while I waited for Kevin to come, my dear friend and curator of the museum came to sit with me in my studio.

"Shall I go downstairs and make us some tea?" she offered.

"No thank you, Nicole.  What I would really like to do, what I really feel would help settle my nerves, is make YOU some tea."

Tetsubin water kettle and demitasse cup and saucer

Nicole knows me, knows my habits and knew this would, indeed, be a soothing thing for me to do.

My tea habit is a personal ritual which assists me throughout the day's creative work.  My manner of preparing tea is an amalgamation/adaptation/adulteration of "gong fu cha", a Chinese method of brewing tea with additional influences from "chanoyu", the Japanese tea ceremony.

Gong Fu Cha on the studio balcony
Tea for three

I did not set out to craft a "manner" of preparing tea, but over the years, things rather evolved on their own and I simply followed intuition and various predilections, often driven by a love of forms, textures and nuances of taste.  Tea with Kevin, at home, is a nightly affair and tea out on the preserve among the horses, or down at the beach, are favourite moments on my days off.

Tea, after dinner

The Ravenseyrie traveling tea outfit
and wonderful puerh sourced by Jalam Teas

Tea at the Top of the World on the
Ravenseyrie Sorraia Mustang Preserve

Listening to the soughing of the water heating up, prying off some leaves from a compressed cake of sheng and the quiet voice of Nicole began to help the enervated jigging of my body mellow some.  Watching the water pour out of the kettle and into the kyusu and the steam arising worked wonderful magic - as it always does.  Pouring the infusion, I felt amazingly steady while the music of the pour and the golden stream filled the exquisite cups, but my hand shook as I offered Nicole hers and a bit of the elixir spilled.  We just carried on without worry talking about things that took us away from the awful event that had unfolded a hour earlier.

The Ravenseyrie Studio Tea Corner

The "awful event" I have since come to learn is not a one-off-freak-accident, but something that, while rare, has occurred in a number of models of Ford vehicles (and other manufacturers makes of automobiles, too).  All over the world these types of accidents are occurring, causing damage to properties, buildings, vehicles, and people.  Not all victims of this type of vehicle malfunction have been able to walk away and many involved have lost their lives .  It is called "sudden unintended acceleration" and it is not something that the auto industry is particularly forthcoming about.  Nevertheless, a number of engineers and vehicle safety researchers have acknowledged the phenomenon and there have been class action suits filed against Ford in the U.S. as well as Canada.

USA Today graphic 28Mar13

A couple years ago, Kevin had our truck equipped with a device offered by our insurance company which monitors our how we drive and we were able to receive lower rates due to data collected by the device which demonstrates our safe driving habits.  This device has documented the "awful event" and we are now in the process of finding the best way to proceed with reconciling things.

I continue to give thanks that I was not hurt, that no other people or animals were hurt and the building will receive good repairs.  We are fortunate it is not winter and we can get along for now without a truck.  We have the trusty, rusty Jeep Wrangler and winter's retreat means I have resumed my commute to work via bicycle.   And the grass has come back to the landscape - making for happy wild horses.  And the air is fair and the migratory birds are back and there are many, many delightful ways to chase away niggling PTSD worries with creating time for tea.

Tea ceremony on the beach on the
Ravenseyrie Sorraia Mustang Preserve

Many thanks to the people whose work contributes to my tea habit:

Petr Novák & Mirka Randová - absolute artists with clay and a real feel for teaware.  Many works by them found their way to Canada.

Jeff Fuchs - walking ancient mountain trails, capturing amazing photos, authentic elders' stories and sourcing rustic, hand processed teas with amazing terroir.

Jalam Teas - monthly tea club established by Jeff Fuchs and friends.

• Hojo - source of our cast iron water kettle, aka Tetsubin.

Taiwan Tea Crafts - source of our home kyusu tea set.

Below, rather than showing images from the "awful event", I'd rather share some soothing tea scenes.

Tea meditation on the studio balcony

A drink of tea on the studio balcony in snow fog

Tea ceremony down on the Gore Bay waterfront

Charcoal burner heats the water kettle

Second life for an old cast off Franklin stove,
perfect for a tea time getaway

Taking tea down at the beach house
at the Ravenseyrie Sorraia Mustang Preserve

An exquisite eapot by Petr Novak
Infusing tea on the Ravenseyrie Sorraia Mustang Preserve

More information on Sudden Unintended Acceleration:

Samuel J. Sero BSEE, P.E.
Renaissance Engineering
Forensic Engineers

• Consumer Reports - video on what to do if experiencing Sudden Unintended Acceleration

•  from the Centre for Auto Safety, a engineer's thorough study of the phenomenon, available as a PDF:

• Class Action Lawsuit in Canada

"Reports of unintended accelerations in Ford vehicles increased significantly in 2002, when Ford began installing their electronic throttle control system in a broad range of its vehicle lines.  Electronic throttle control system equipped vehicles are sometimes referred to as "throttle-by-wire" or "drive-by-wire" because the electronic throttle control system has no mechanical linkage between the accelerator pedal and the throttle plate in the engine. Sudden or runaway acceleration occurs when the throttle opens contrary to the driver's intentions.    Consequently, most automobiles provide an electronic or mechanical fail-safe to allow the driver to bring the vehicle safely under control when faced with sudden acceleration.  Ford has failed to provide such a fail-safe on any of the affected Ford vehicles equipped with the electronic throttle control system. These vehicles share a common design defect in that they lack adequate fail-safe systems, including a reliable Brake Over Accelerator ("BOA") system (also sometimes referred to as a Brake Override System) that would allow a driver to end sudden unintended acceleration by depressing the brake." stated Tony Merchant, Q.C., regarding the Canadian Ford Sudden Acceleration Class Action litigation being handled by his law firm.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Sorraia Foals at Quinta do Sol

A young wild living Sorraia filly on Manitoulin Island c.2010
In 2010, here on the Ravenseyrie Sorraia Mustang Preserve, two fillies were born whose lives have proven to be filled with historic adventures in faraway lands.  

Click on each filly's name to read about their births from the Journal of Ravenseyrie archives.
Tocara (Altamiro x Belina)

Tocara and Belina

Levada (Altamiro x Sovina's Zorita)


Sired by the Portuguese Sorraia, Altamiro, (who himself came to Manitoulin Island as a yearling from a zoological park in Germany where he was born) the fillies, Tocara and Levada are fine examples of the beneficial outcross to North American Mustang mares who show the Sorraia phenotype.  Tocara and Levada were selected by Claudia Radbauer to become part of her efforts to preserve Sorraia type horses in Austria providing her with several healthy foals sired by the Portuguese Sorraia, Grelo.  Last year Tocara and Levada were sent to a new conservation project overseen by the Associação Transumâcia e Natureza in northeastern Portugal.  

After spending the majority of 2017 receiving the amorous attention of a Sorraia stallion, Bimbo, (donated to the preservation project by Herdade do Azinhal) and despite going through a frightening period of drought and threat of wildfires, Tocara and Levada have presented ATN with healthy new foals, both colts!  These are indeed fit and hardy equines and definitely adaptable to a variety of wilderness environments - from the bitter cold of Northern Canada to the arid hills of Portugal!  

While it appears the preserve at Quinta do Sol is receiving good rainfall to assist in regenerating the vegetation, the land presently available to these Sorraias remains limited.  Until more acreage can be acquired for this project, there may still be a need from time to time to supplement the forage with hay, should there come again a frightful drought.  Those able to assist in any way are urged to contact ATN: 

And now for some lovely images from Quinta do Sol!  Tocara and Levada...I am blowing a kiss in the wind and instructing it to find you from here to there!  We miss you and are so proud of your achievements.  

And we are immeasurably thankful to Claudia Radbauer and ATN for the good work they are doing to carry on with the preservation of one of the precious wild equine types of the Iberian Peninsula.

Three new foals in one week at Quinta do Sol preserve
in northeastern Portugal
(photo: ATN)

Left: Tocara with her filly, Epona, and newborn colt
Right:  Levada with her newborn colt
(photo:  ATN)

Tocara with her two offspring
(photo: ATN

Levada with her colt and a Garrano x Sorraia mare with her colt
(photo: ATN)

Tocara (Altamiro x Belina)
formerly of Ravenseyrie, with her newborn colt
at Quinta do Sol preserve in Portugal
(photo: ATN)

Levada (Altamiro x Sovina's Zorita)
formerly of Ravenseyrie, with her newborn colt
at Quinta do Sol preserve in Portugal
(photo: ATN)

Tocara and colt
(photo: ATN)

Sorraias at Quinta do Sol
(photo: ATN)

More about Tocara and Levada's early life on Manitoulin Island can be experienced by clicking on these links to archived stories in the Journal of Ravenseyrie:

Tocara and Levada


"Who would we be without the horse?  What was our horse's ancestor and does he still exist? [...] What once was one of Man's most important companions has nowadays been reduced to a luxury item and a sports equipment.  And the ancestral populations?  Gone!  What do we know about them? Very little!  Otherwise, extant wild populations would not be cause for a constant dispute among scientists.

"If we want to keep our planet worth living on in its diversity and endless facets of life, we must try to preserve the genetic diversity of all living species.  In this context it is almost secondary if a population is 'wild' or 'feral'.  Wild horses are adapted to their habitat, in which some have lived for centuries.  Each adaptation represents a contribution to that big cocktail we call diversity of life."
--Dr. Thomas Jansen, from the foreword of Wildpferde Gestern und Heute by Hardy Oelke

Mares and foals at Ravenseyrie c. 2010

 Heritage Futures:  offers a good summary of the Associação Transumâcia e Natureza 

Associação Transumância e Natureza (ATN) is a non profit environmental NGO, created in 2000, at Figueira de Castelo Rodrigo, Guarda District, in the northeastern part of Portugal. The name comes from an international foundation (Transhumance and Nature Foundation), which was one of the founders. The name is a reference to the extinct activity of transhumance – an old tradition of shepherds, who brought the flocks of sheep a long way, in order to take advantage of pasture land at different altitudes and times of the year. Owning around 800 hectares of land at the Côa Valley, ATN is the manager of the Faia Brava Reserve, the first private protected area in Portugal, located inside the Côa Valley SPA (Natura 2000) and the Côa Archaeological Park (UNESCO World Heritage Site). ATN owns and manages several other reserves in the Northeast of Portugal and is the Portuguese local partner of the Rewilding Europe initiative. Our researchers will work with Association of the Friends of Côa Park and Côa Museum (ACOA) to study the objectives of a large-scale rewilding project, with specific attention to the management of (abandoned) built heritage within the designated area.

"Whether as zoological gems, genetic resources, important ecological factors, objects for ethological studies, or as pure inspiration - wild horses are always and everywhere of great value.  What many would not give today to be able to lay eyes on Tarpans in the steppe of southern Russia!
     "We may not fully understand what treasure we still have in our surviving primitive horses.  Their protection should be a matter of course."  
--Hardy Oelke from Wild Horses Then and Now