Sunday, April 29, 2007

Garden Clean Up

So I spent several hours getting rid of dead branches on the big dogwood and the lilac in the front yard. These are tasks that I put on the to do list last summer, for early spring when the interior old growth would be accessible. So I really feel I've accomplished something today. And the muscles necessary for pruning, reaching, bending all feel like they have accomplished something today too. Wonder how I'll feel tomorrow!!!

Macro Photography & Garden Photography

I love the garden. It provides so many opportunities for observing and capturing natural settings and beautiful scenes. Our garden here isn't nearly as developed and lush with flower beds as our past garden. I also haven't really figured out how to do great macros with my Canon equipment yet. The 100mm macro is pretty high on my wish list.
I just participated in a thread at dpreview about lucky shots - and a couple of the ones that I chose were garden macros. A pair of mating spiders, dew drops on the whirls of a mallow blossom.

A reminder of how much I used to shoot in my garden, and how I should get out there and shoot some more.

I came across a site with some truly inspirational garden macro photography recently, MacroArtInNature
There is really beautiful work there, and technical discussion. I suspect I will visit it often.

The problem for me though is that garden season here happens to coincide with soccer season, and my time to do both is limited. I know there are some cool photos from last summer, not yet edited, on my hard drive.

So, here is to a great summer and a great season of garden photography.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

LPS 4: Symbiosis

So I have entered the following shot into the DGrin contest Last Photographer Standing 4:

I, of course, struggled with time to photograph something appropriate. Had wanted to go tothe farmers market today, but I just had too much driving and other stuff to get there. Not sure I'd manage to take a 'street shot' anyway. And come to think of it, what would a farmers market in Edmonton sell in April, that would say 'organic'.

So I entered this one - shot it on Tuesday evening around sundown. I like it. I will certainly include it into my study of tree textures.

Today was a great wildlife day in the yard. Started with a Hairy Woodpecker at the suet feeder this morning. Tonight, a porcupine was wandering around the yard. We aren't sure - but it looks too big to be Spike. Haven't seen Spike for several days. As well, on the very top of one of the poplars in the forest, I spotted the silhouette of the owl. And that is why I live in the middle of no where.......

EMSA Discipline Again

EMSA has posted another letter on their homepage, justifying their actions in this matter. Apparently it is okay to invite people to a hearing to discuss their fate, change the time of the hearing and notify them post hearing of the result. In order to put up any kind of defense, EMSA is charging these people $125 each.

This matter will be discussed today, Saturday, on CFRN 1260 by Soccer Steve

Another body to express opinions on this to would be the Edmonton Sport Council

As well, all meetings of SWEMSA and of EMSA must be open to members, and as a fee paying parent, you are a member. SWEMSA is having a board meeting Sunday night. Of course, they are not advertising this right now, so I cannot be sure that it is at the Derrick at 7, but that is my guess.

I've been thinking that it may be worth moving these items to a blog of their own. I've been tracking hits and several have come from people searching for information about these suspensions. I wonder if this will be the issue that finally gets enough support from the general membership of youth soccer in Edmonton to affect change.

I do hope so. I believed, years ago when I first heard about the issues between leagues, that the issue would outlive my kids soccer playing time. I hope I am wrong.

Anyway, I have photos to take!


Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Stranger and Stranger

There has been a great deal of publicity surrounding the suspension of these 4 soccer coahes - lots of media coverage, a planned rally in the parking lot of the meeting facility, letter writing.

Well here is the result - a letter cancelling the meeting:
6250 Roper Road Telephone: (780) 413-EMSA (3672)
Edmonton, Alberta T6B 3K8 Fax: (780) 490-1652
Affiliated With: Alberta Soccer Association
Canadian Soccer Association Internet Home Page:
April 24, 2007
Mr. Daryl Burd

Mr. Burd,
Effective immediately you, Tim Simpson, are suspended indefinitely from all EMSA related
soccer activities.
Our original invitation for a meeting to discuss your situation is formally withdrawn. The
invitation was intended to prove our intent to go above and beyond the requirements of the
EMSA rules and regulations to resolve the situation.
The discipline committee meeting of April 24, 2007 at 2:00 PM unanimously agreed to cancel
the discipline meeting due to:
• Recent actions are detrimental to the EMSA as per our Bylaw Article 4 Section #13:
“Any Member who, through their actions or behavior, violates any Bylaw, Rule or
Regulation, in part or in whole or who is acting in a manner detrimental to the objectives
of the Association, may be:
b) Suspended for a period of time as determined by a decision of any Discipline
Committee or Board of the Association.”
• EMSA Rule #505.2 – Coach / Director Conflict of Interest
“If the Edmonton Minor Soccer Association (EMSA) becomes aware that one of its
coaches or directors has moved to any other local minor soccer organization as a coach,
assistant coach, manager or director, it shall immediately notify the individual in
writing that he is suspended indefinitely from all related EMSA soccer activities.
The individual has the right to appeal as per EMSA Rules and Regulations.”
To appeal the suspension you must submit a written request to the EMSA Discipline
Committee. The appeal must be received in writing by the EMSA office and include the
grounds for appeal, within 72 hours of this written notification being sent out (excluding
Saturdays, Sundays and legal holidays) and must be accompanied by a certified cheque or
money order in the amount of $125.00. These funds will be forfeited if the decision is upheld.
The EMSA Discipline Committee

Notice that the author of this letter did not even bother to change the text to match the recipient's name.

Monday, April 23, 2007

More on the Banning

Just a quick note because it is way past my bedtime.

EMSA has posted 3 letters discussing the Spark issue:

You can see them on the EMSA Homepage.

The one thing that has struck me tonight is that instead of a thank you gift or a years of service plaque (or whatever it is that proper manners would deem appropriate for a volunteer that is moving on after a dozen years of service- even a mug of beer would do!), Daryl is being "disciplined".

There is a point in the letter from the SWEMSA president posted on the EMSA homepage that really stands out for me. It reads:"EMSA and SWEMSA firmly stand behind all of their coaches and volunteers for their tremendous work in organizing community soccer." This is clearly not true.

What this whole episode is screaming to all parents of children playing minor soccer in Edmonton is 'don't spend your precious time volunteering for your kids'. What it should be screaming at them is 'it is time to change the administration of minor soccer in Edmonton'.

There, that's off my chest. I can go to sleep now.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

EMSA Disciplinary Actions

Last week, the dh and three other coaches received notice of disciplinary action by the Edmonton Minor Soccer Association. The root of the disciplinary action is having broken this bylaw:

A recent addition to the EMSA Bylaws, from the EMSA AGM of February 28, 2007; ITEM #22

Rule 505.2 - Coach/Director Conflict of Interest (New Rule)
If the Edmonton Minor Soccer Association (EMSA) becomes aware that one of its coaches or directors has moved to any other local minor soccer organization as a coach, assistant coach, manager or director, it shall immediately notify the individual in writing that he is suspended
indefinitely from all related EMSA soccer activities. The individual has the right to appeal as per EMSA Rules and Regulations.

So the upshot of this bylaw is that you cannot coach for Edmonton Minor Soccer if you coach for EIYSA (Edmonton Interdistrict Youth Soccer Association). Anyone familiar with youth soccer in Edmonton knows how extremely disfunctional it is. Despite all of the involved organizations having a mandate to provide the best soccer experience possible for all kids, they fail. The underlying cause and history to this all is far to lengthy to go into here. What I would like to present here is the history of the dh's involvement in youth soccer in southwest Edmonton,a history that encompasses 12 years of volunteerism, working to promote a love for soccer among young people, motivated by the desire to make sure that all players had every opportunity to play at the level that they wanted to play at.

Daryl first started coaching Colin at U5. He coached Katie at U4. He continued to coach all three of them through their first years of playing the sport and is still helping by being assistant on Alex's U14 team. During the early years, Daryl not only coached but volunteered on the board of Riverbend Soccer. He was a director, and the U10 girls coordinator at the same time that he coached at least one team. One year he was coach, the U10 girls coordinator and the U8 coordinator. He moved from the Riverbend board to the SWEMSA board. He moved from coaching Katie at community to competitive soccer, by becoming a Sting coach. As our kids stayed interested and moved to play at a more competitive level, he moved with them, and he eventually became chair of the Sting program.
In the early years with Sting, the program suffered from past years without leadership, no common vision, no real sense of being an actual organized competitive program; it suffered from a complete lack of volunteers. A very small number of people looked after a large number of tasks, and there was much work to be done.
About the time that Alex started playing U10 competitive, Dale McNeely introduced himself to Daryl. Dale has a long, long history with sport. He has background knowledge of national level competitive sport through his participation in gymnastics. Dale was unhappy with the soccer experience that his children were having and wanted to get involved to make the programs better. Dale shares the same vision of providing kids with the best experience possible, to play at the appropriate level, for as long as possible, that Daryl has.
Dale and Daryl and a group of other volunteers spent a great deal of time and effort making improvements to the organization that their kids played for: specifically the Sting program of SW Edmonton, a member program of EMSA. Hours and hours of effort to reorganize the program. The Sting program has thrived under their influence.
Unfortunately, these remedies were only local. Overall the competitive programs in Edmonton still compete for players, lack the same vision of providing great experiences for all players top to bottom, and ultimately do not provide an equal opportunity for individual players to advance technically or through the more elite programs such as the select program at ASA.
EMSA had tried to set up a program to directly compete with EIYSA at Tier 1 and Tier 2; however EMSA really did not have the full backing of their membership and, despite efforts from organizations like Sting to put together properly tiered teams, this initiative floundered.
Dale and Daryl both have sons on the same U14 boys team. That team played in EMSA outdoor 2006. The team went undefeated, and unchallenged. Finishing first in their league won them the opportunity to go to EIYSA-EMSA playdowns to play for the privilege of moving on to provincial championships. They got spanked by the EIYSA teams. This really solidified a decision for Dale and Daryl - for the sake of the players on that team looking for the highest level of competition, and thus the best opportunity to improve, the team needed to change leagues. So, for fall 2006 that team moved to EIYSA as a Scottish United team.
About the same time, three SW Edmonton soccer programs decided that if the governing organizations could not put together a program that allowed kids to move between levels, depending on their development at any given season, the programs could cooperate to help this happen. The programs were Sting, Spark and Scottish. Unfortunately, the governing bodies could not see the way to allow this to happen.
Dale continued to be the chair of the Sting program, as he still had a child playing at Sting. Daryl remained in a more or less informal advisory capacity as he had had such a long history with the program. Daryl performed more volunteer activities for the two organizations, booking and organizing practice facilities for them, organizing outside technical training for both programs, and continued to act as assistant coach on the boys team. Our daughter continued to play in the Sting program that season as well.
If you know volunteer organizations, you know that volunteers are few and far between. Volunteers that spend over 10 years working for the betterment of the program, for their own children to be sure, but also for the benefit of all of the children in the program, are a rare breed. Daryl has done this from his heart, because he loves coaching, he loves soccer and, despite the s&a, he has enjoyed his involvement in this. We have made many dear friends through soccer. I once read that you could tell the coaches house - it was the one where the lawn wasn't perfect. Spending this many hours on volunteering has to be because you enjoy what you are doing, because other things do get left undone.
He came home from helping with tryouts this season - he had helped work on the field with a group of U10 girls - and said 'they are so darned cute, I almost volunteered to coach them!' Only someone that truly loves coaching would say this!

If EMSA is successful in banning Daryl, Dale and the other two coaches, they will be doing the Edmonton soccer community a great disservice. Banning committed volunteers is truly shooting oneself in the foot. These men won't stop working with soccer players, they won't stop committing hours to soccer programs, they just won't be able to do so for EMSA any longer! From our point of view, this is not necessarily a bad thing. All three kids now play in EIYSA so we won't be stopped from volunteering for our kids if we cannot volunteer for EMSA. Being forced out of volunteering frees up hours for other things. But, being disciplined based on decisions to volunteer for two volunteer based organizations at the same time, implemented through a retroactive bylaw, is just wrong.

Today's Fitness

Hmmm, when I feel worse upon waking up than I do during the day, I know I need to do something about it. My back just aches like crazy these days - back, hips, back, hips. Only one solution and that is to get rid of this excess strain on my joints.
So this morning included a brief workout: elliptical trainer, bowflex biceps, elliptical trainer, bowflex legs, etc......I figured that the interjected aerobic exercise might help out. Then I had to give CB a lift to a teammates.
We are doing some spring cleaning outside. It is a really dull day, but calm and about 5C, so not unpleasant. So I am picking the garbage on the driveway left by 'the dog was in the garbage again' and by the roofers: little tiny pieces of tar paper, insulation, plastic wrap. And dh has been emptying the garage, which unfortunately (but not surprisingly) flooded this spring, so there is lots of soggy cardboard to deal with.
Anyway, shoveling dropped leaves and pine needles raking, bending and probably pruning count for physical activity. And, honestly, this kind of spring cleaning I enjoy. Give me days of yardwork over hours of housework!! and I will be a happy camper. My farming heritage, I guess.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Student Driver!

After months (and months and months) of prodding, our oldest has got his learners permit. He is almost 17 - so he has been eligible for this for 2 1/2 years. In fact, his younger sister has had her permit since 3 days past her 14th birthday. The snow is (mostly) gone, so we have been letting the two of them practice driving - on real streets with real traffic. Last summer, I would only let our daughter drive on quiet country lanes. I foresee lots of held breath, lots of 'slow down' or 'speed up', and lots (and lots and lots) of slamming that phantom brake on the passenger side. Things like adjusting mirrors, managing signal lights and headlights, and (gulp!) shoulder checking are not second nature.
Our driveway is very long, and it is challenging to back off of. In fact, this past winter, two experienced adult drivers ended up in the ditch on the end of the drive. So this will be a great learning opportunity for the kids. I offered to get the van to the end of the drive for the boy, but he wasn't giving in - nope, he had started and no matter how many tree branches and reflectors he took out, he was going to finish it!
As much as we really would benefit from having a third driver in the household right now, I really felt that if he wasn't ready for the responsibility then he shouldn't be pushed into it. Some things are worth pushing, and others, like being responsible for a 2 tonne lethal weapon, just aren't. And driving the car is not the same as driving the ride on mower, after all!

The Dgrin shootout is about 5 months away. In fact, skippy says it is less than 150 sleeps until she leaves Oz to come to Edmonton! I really need to get into shape for this. I did a bit of prep for the 06 shootout, and suffered through the heat and climbing in Bryce. Then last September Ha Ling Peak in Canmore tried to kill me. The reality of my desk job is that I just do not get that base level of activity that I used to get. And the reality of our schedule for so much of the year is straight from work to soccer commitment to soccer commitment to.... with no real time for hitting the gym. Anyway, I am probably in the worst physical condition of my life and I need to change that by September. My joints, particularly my hips, ache all the time. This does not bode well for hiking the wilderness like I hope to do this fall. I will attempt to keep track of my training here, hopefully a public record will be a motivator. So, today we did a workout on the bowflex, primarily upper body stuff.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

A Soccer Mom with a Digicam

My first digital camera was the Sony DSC F707. If you are familiar with that camera at all, you will know that it was the highest end 'prosumer' camera available at the time. The 707 was a truly wonderful camera, and the closest that the average bear could get to a dslr at the time. I bought it, after doing 'research' in magazines and on line, because I thought it would allow me to take action shots of my kids playing soccer. That was in late 2000 or early 2001, when the kids were 10, 8 and 6!!!! The 707 was an amazing camera, and it actually did a decent job of taking action photos - outside, in good light, with the Olympus teleconvertor. But it did a decent job. I read photography forums, and sports photography forums and spent a lot of time learning the basics of good exposure, good composition, good sports shots. I was soooo proud of those photos, and worked very hard at being sure that they were more than snapshots. I shared them through my first on line web gallery, pbase, and was immensely offended when they were lifted without permission. I shared them on photography forums too, especially the Sony Talk Forum on dpreview. I got lots and lots of feedback, mostly good. I discovered a passion, and was driven to improve.

Looking back, the 707 probably wasn't the right tool for the job. It was very, very good, for the time and the price, but it wasn't a sports camera. It was, however, better than good at still life and macro photography. The swivel body and large lcd made getting the 'right angle' on insect or flower close ups a peice of cake. And it was exceptional as a teaching device. The feedback loop of digital photography, combined with the basic lessons of exposure and composition, makes learning fun and immediate and inexpensive. I took very many good photographs, including good sports photos, with that camera, and credit working with the 707 and wanting to progress at sports photography, to leading me to where I am now.

Which brings me to the title of todays post. I started as a soccer mom with a digicam - a label that I really, really resented when it was used to describe me by an 'old school' sports photographer. But, looking back, it fit. However, what I did with that digicam and the resources that I sought out to learn more about the art of photography, has led me to feel confident in my ability to get the shot, and to deliver product to paying customers. However, the fact that I have a dSLR is no longer unique. The option of shooting with a dSLR has become available to interested hobbyists, as shooting with the 707 opened the world to me. So I need, more than ever, to be able to deliver/provide a product that stands out - to get the shot that goes beyond a technically good photograph. Which, of course, gives me more fuel to stoke the fire of this passion.

I love photography. It is the one thing in my life of which I have control - I choose when, I choose what, I choose how long. It is an activity that I want to do alone, but share the results with everyone. It is an activity that I enjoy discussing - I love to talk gear, technique, result...anything photography. It is my passion. And I am still a soccer mom with a digital camera.

Interestingly, as Andy mentions in his comment, the NYT recently wrote about moms & cameras. One of the interviewees of the article has posted this

Sunday, April 15, 2007

My Changing Neighborhood

We have lived in Windermere since July 2004. It has been an idyllic slice of rural living on the edge of the city and it has been wonderful. We have enjoyed many wildlife visits, a huge variety of birds, brighter night skies than neighborhoods just a few miles away. It has been wonderful.

As you've probably concluded, this is changing. Crews are working hard at getting services (water and sewer) into the farmers fields around us. Houses are going up like wildfire in the neighborhood on the east side of 170 Street where services were finished last summer.

So, there is ugly construction mess all around us. There is equipment, dirt piles, pipe, traffic, all of the things that go with development and building a new neighborhood.

The long term gain to all of this will be an increase to our property value, with city services to us and upscale homes built around us, an increase in local services such as grocery stores, and some new city amenities like walking trails and parks. All good things.

The price that we will pay, I am sure, is a loss of local wildlife and the quiet, sleepy community that we now enjoy. Another price will be light pollution.

We walked with Kelso for the whole length of Windermere Drive tonight - all the way to 4th Avenue. Along our way, we saw several Canada geese in the fields, glowing in the early evening light. Shoulda had the camera... On our way home, we saw 5 deer grazing in the field. They listened to us, and loped away as we got close - peered at s out of the tree stand. Seeing the deer got me thinking abut whether that particular tree stand would stay or go. And that got me thinking about my changing neighborhood.

Will we move because of the development? Not likely. Will it make our lifestyle better or worse? Probably some of each. Will it greatly affect our quality of life? I guess this will be the difficult question to answer. I love the quiet. I love the dark, dark night sky. I love the wildlife visits to my yard. How much these will change has yet to be seen. So, as my dad would say 'Only time will tell'.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Finally, it might be spring

Sign one is that there are robins around.

Sign two is the snow is mostly melted.

Sign three is that we have 11 soccer commitments this weekend!!!

It is the last NTC scouting weekend for Colin, the first goalie training sessions for Alex and the first team practice for Katie.

Yesterday evening I did my first set of basketball team photos, and it was a blast. They were a team of U14 girls and a real pleasure to shoot, very cooperative, very willing subjects. Sure made my job easy.

I'll be getting quite a bit of sport shooting done, but doubt that I will get an entry for LPS 3, although I did have a couple of ideas come to mind while driving downtown today. One is to shoot the corner of the city center mall, from an angle that includes the trolley lines- lots of right angles from an unusual angle might be 'irregular'.

The light at Clarke tonight was really, really nice for the first half of the game. Should have a few good shots to offer for the NTC Prairies web site.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

A Mauve Day

Way back when dh and I were looking to buy our first home, our realtor introduced us to the term 'menopause mauve'. She used this term to describe the decorating schemes typical of homes owned and decorated by middle aged women, back in the days before 'staging for sale' was the thing to do. I have adopted the term lately. Mauve days are days when I am agitated, emotional, generally out of sorts and it is all the fault of those damn hormones (or lack there of).

We woke up to fresh snow! (That is enough to throw anyone into the emotional dumps, and I'm no exception there.) We have had snow since very early October - that's more than six months folks! Enough already.

I took the camera to work with me (after all fresh snow should be good for something), hopeful that I'd find a LPS 3 entry en route. Nope. On the way home, I drove south through the farmland. Nothing really inspiring, although I did come across a driving range and picnic grounds under several inches of water. May go back when the sun is shining because there could be a shot there.

The highlight of my day was to notice Spike sitting on a bough of the spruce tree - about 15 feet up. A good wind would have blown him out. What possessed him to climb up the spruce tree and then sleep on a bough will be one of those great mysteries. In any case, he eventually climbed back down and ate the bread left out for the birds. (Yep, birds, cuz dh knows better than to feed the wildlife). Having Spike hang around has really been a good experience for all of us - we are all keenly interested in his well being and antics, and are learning things about a fellow creature that we would otherwise have no reason to even notice.

In many ways, this is what photography has done for me: Although I have always been a naturalist and paid attention to the world around me, photography has drawn me deeper into my surroundings, given me a reason to slow down and look, to focus on both the sweeping broad scene and the minute details within it. I am feeling the need for a photography fix. Unfortunately, I can't seem to find the right inspiration.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Soccer Season Gears Up

How long has it been since provincials and tryouts? Two long weeks, I think. But as I sit down to update the calendar I realize it won't be very long at all before we are running all over the city from soccer event to soccer event. The off season, unfortunately, coincides with early spring (or fall), when the photo ops are few and far between and it is still too cold to garden in any significant way.

Our yard will need a lot of work this year. The new septic went in last September and it snowed so soon after that that we had no hope of doing any clean up or landscaping work. So, we have a thick layer of leaves on top of mud. And there is still lots of snow to go. I just hope that we can manage to get the landscaping done well, around all of the soccer things this summer. I am envisioning designing a garden that will lend itself to family and individual portraiture. I hope to include benches, pathways, and flower beds as backdrops, and if I do it right these will also be attractive to birds and butterflies!

Sunday, April 8, 2007

What's a Sunday about, after all...

Today was a real 'do nothin' day. I spent some time in the early morning searching the yard for a LPS 3 entry. Maybe, maybe not. Will see what else I come up with over the week. I've put the possible shots here.
Did some general housekeeping, and some more fussing over my smugmug site. It is really coming along, but with each step forward I come up with a new thing to try. It may always be a work in progress. But, because of the wonderful help from the customizing forum on DGrin, I am really making progress with it.
Had ma & pa and nephew over for dinner....mmmmmm, ham. I love ham. DH hates ham. I feel the same way about turkey, so traditional holiday meals are either a trade off or whatever 'mom' makes!
Spike made an appearance. Katie, Kelso and I were out back. Kelso stopped at the spruce to check something out, and sure enough it was Spike, way underneath up against the trunk. He came out after we put the dog in the house. Got a few more shots of him. This evening he came out into the yard, and found apple pieces waiting for him. Ma and Pa were able to get a good look at him. I don't really believe the descriptions that say porcupines have a poor sense of smell. He seems really adept at sniffing out fruit.
Work tomorrow, and hopefully some t & I shots for a couple of basketball teams tomorrow evening.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Last Photographer Standing

is hosting a great photography contest that they are calling 'Last Photographer Standing'. The contest runs a year, with 50 two week long qualifying rounds. Each qualifying round has a pair of diverging themes to meet (pick one). Stakes are pretty big: over $25K USD in prizes. Details found here.
I have entered each of the first two rounds. I am also keeping a gallery of my trials and successes here. My entry in round one was chosen as a qualifier for the judging round.
So I find myself thinking about how to interpret the theme and get the shot all the time....This rounds themes are 'Irregular' or 'Picturesque". Well, if you've ever been to Edmonton in the early spring, you no picturesque isn't happening without a road trip.
I'm not sure I'll get a shot this time, but you can be sure I'll keep looking for the right one until the very last minute.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Spike has moved in

A few weeks ago, I saw a porcupine walking through my backyard. The porcupine climbed up the large poplar tree in our yard and had a nap. That evening he came down and started eating compost. Well, he has since chosen to hang out under the large skirt of branches on the blue spruce besides our back patio.
He has a wound on his rump, that seems to be healing well. I suspect that it is from an encounter with a coyote.
So far Kelso has managed to stay clear of him, but we are keeping a close eye on both the dog and the porcupine.
Spike has done a great job of cleaning up all the compost from the winter, and is now eating fresh apples and other garden scraps.