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Archive for February, 2011


Monday, February 28, 2011

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Sun is shining today!   I hurry through my household chores, eager to set out for a walk.   Compost out to the composter outside .. top up the bird feeder.  Admire the little Anna who zips in for a quick breakfast of nectar.  I’m curious .. there aren’t many birds here at this time .. only one little chickadee .. chirping away in the tree.  Calling the rest of the gang.  No one else shows up.  So she flits to the suet and nibbles away for a few minutes.  Tiny tummy full .. she flies away.

The ground is really soft today and I steer clear of the muddy bits!  I plan to go for a short walk and then start playing with the 29 bags of leaves.

I fill up a ziplock bag with the flatted oats, for the ducks and the Canada Geese.  Ipod, camera, jacket, scarf, boots, gloves, hat and .. yea .. sunglasses!  A quick look out the door .. oh no .. it’s snowing again!  Well, that’s not going to stop me.  So I am just about to leave when I realize that I can’t find my keys.

Boots off .. I go into all the rooms upstairs and downstairs.  Puzzled.  I always leave my keys in a certain place.  Think back .. yesterday .. my dh and I went out & he looked the door.  And I had put my keys in one of the many pockets of my cargo pants.  oops … going through all my pockets, I finally find my keys.  Turns out that this was a good thing .. as by now, the snow had stopped and the sun was shining!

Finally I reach the Sanctuary.  Walking along, trying to avoid the muddiest sections of the path, I fall into conversation with a couple of birders.  Visiting Victoria from Calgary, to get in a week of bird watching.  I ask them if they are serious birders and they nod in the affirmative.

I note they are sporting Swarovski binoculars … .. (and now I know that these start at $1,000  I just googled them) …  and, yes, they are very serious birders.  I proudly showed them my Lee Valley $20 monocular (not knowing at the time the value of the S. binoculars) and they commented “how handy, it fits right in a pocket”.   Talk about polite visitors!

Guess I had fallen into the habit of naming the Varied Thrush as “Variegated” …I was gently corrected, and the comment was made that I must be a gardener, to use “variegated” .. eagerly I agreed, yes, I am a gardener.

We discussed the pecking order of birds .. and they recounted a story of one particular starling .. when he would show up at their feeder, all the other starlings would fly away!  Interesting.

So we had a lovely chat and then we continued on our separate ways.

I slip slided along in the mixture of mud, snow and a tiny bit of ice and finally arrived at the boardwalk.  No ducks in sight .. then I heard a little quack quack and a Mallard Drake came running up to me from the end of the walkway.  Then I saw another drake in the side pond.   I’d barely opened the bag of oats .. when a few more ducks appeared out of nowhere.  Soon there was a heavy distribution of the oats on the boardwalk surface and all was quiet, except for the satisfied little clucks from the Mallards as they gobbled up the oats.

Decided to walk to the end of the observatory, to see if there were any Canada Geese anywhere.  There were two .. calmly nibbling away on the marsh grasses.  They looked up as I approached and swam over to where I stood.   And they eagerly snapped up the oats that I scattered along the surface.

I saw that there were a few American Coots  at the edge of the lake, close by .. they weren’t interested in the oats and stayed where they were.   Several pairs of Greater Scaups were hanging around.  They would dive to gather the oats that had sunk for their meal.   They’ve been hanging around lately, they know that the ducks and Geese aren’t able to eat all of the oats that I throw out to them.

A small group of Canada Geese saw the activity and swam over to the marshes.  Soon pecking order was established, as the grand pooh bah, with strong swift flappings of his strong wings chased away all but two Geese.  He flew into the air, and ensured that the geese definitely stay out of his feeding territory.  Then he returned and began feeding.   Whenever any of the little ducks or the original couple of geese ventured a tiny move in his direction, he gave physical signs that they had better retreat.  A simple turn of his head, the lengthening of his neck, a flutter of wing feathers … got the result that he wanted.  Impressive.

It is nature’s way .. and when these magnificent birds are flying on their migration, such a strong leader is necessary.

I needed to pick up some turmeric and the nearest Asian store was about a 15 minute walk away, so I began walking in that direction.   I couldn’t resist looking for the little hummingbird nest .. yes .. there she was.  Steadfastly sitting on the tiny eggs.   Such magic.

Finally I reach the Asian store and, what, no turmeric?  Not till late tomorrow .. so I’ll return in a few days.   There is a nice variety of shops in this little strip mall.   A Beautician, Wine Making and .. a butcher!    I went to visit and, och, he is a Scottish Butcher!  We had a nice chat and I purchased a variety of items for taking home.  He’s established the shop in December, so is very new to the neighbourhood.  Free range eggs, $3,60 and good quality, very large eggs.  I’ll get mine from here .. from now on.

The shelves contain pickle sauce, Marmite, various chocolate treats, scotchbreads and lots of food I’ve never seen before.  And they carry dried mushy peas.  All sorts of meat and chicken pies, homemade lasagna.  Homemade date squares (they are delicious).    Fresh baps will be in on Thursday, he told me.    My bill was very reasonable for the high quality products that I purchased.  Well worth the walk.  It is so nice to have such a small butcher in the neighbourhood.   This lovely shop is called “Ronald Orr & Son, Family Butcher!

I make the trek back towards home, and stop off at the Nature Sanctuary .. to feed the rest of the flatted oats to the birds, ducks and geese!  How long have I been out?  Over 3 hours!  Back home, lunch and then outside to start shifting those lovely leaves!

Another terrific day!

Whew .. my dh moved the balance of the bagged leaves to the back yard and I promptly lugged them over to the garden area, and emptied them all.   The rains will soon fall and compact them.   And in a month I’ll start mixing them up, like a big bowl of cake!

Little Anna is either getting used to me .. or .. she was so hungry that she chose to ignore my proximity to the feeder.  She drank heavily of the nectar .. her tiny iridescent head level with the red flower of the feeder.  She’d feed and then just hover .. keeping an eye on her surroundings.  Smart bird.

Finally, all 29 bags were emptied.  I folded them up and put them beneath the sundeck .. all ready for my next excursion to leafy heaven.   This time I’ll be collecting the more composted leaf mulch .. so I’ll be filling the bags half full.  The next sunny day!

Looking outside my window .. I see that the wind is picking up .. and I picture the little birds again, tucked up in their little nests for the evening.

  • Pecking order, n, a hierarchy based on rank or status.
  • Pedagogue, n, a teacher.
  • Pedagogy,n, the science of teaching.
  • PDF, abbr, portable document format, a file format which allows documents including text, graphics, and images, to be displayed on a computer independent of the application software, hardware or operating system used to create the document.

🙂

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Sunday, February 27, 2011

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Ha … what someone said to me .. months ago, has again proven to be true.  “If you know what day it is .. then, you are not really retired!”

How true .. I was just thinking about the date, is today the 26th or 27th?  And I had to look at the Country Grocer weekly flyer to find this out!  Too funny.  For so many years, my life was focused around the date.  The days I work, the days I don’t work.  The days for a little vacation.  The days for a course.  The days when I celebrate.

Now I have endless days to do what I want to do.  So the day really isn’t that important to me.  Except our special days, those are always important to me & my dh!

So .. my computer is now lightning fast .. I no longer have to wait impatiently, for a site to finally pop up on my screen.  Thanks to our wonderful friend, K, our computer is no longer a little dinosaur.

I used to spend such a lot of time at the keyboard and that has all changed.  Within a few minutes, I’ve visited all my daily sites and there is nothing more to do.  So I have to wean myself away.   But, perhaps – just a wee look at free items in Used Victoria .. and then my Google and Yahoo accounts.

But, today, I’ve done that and still have a need to spend just a “few more minutes” looking for information.  Well, I haven’t visited my dear ole pal, HGTV for a while.  I quickly log in and go right to the message boards.  Over the years I’ve spent many a happy hour there.  Researching information for crafts.  Talking about pets.   Laughing about procrastination messages.  I’d started a conversation.  And, oh wow, the funny comments that people listed there!

One woman had started an outfit for her daughter, then had put it away .. and then she resurrected it and was going to finish for her granddaughter!  There were many similar funny stories!

Anyway, today, I see that someone has started a conversation on Crafts, Decluttering.   Just spend 15 minutes a day .. and so on and so forth.  It is so easy, when one is very focused on a craft, to just accumulate all the materials and then just keep pushing them to the side of the work table.  Keep on working.  No time to sort and put away.  Soon .. there is a mini-mountain of items that need to be sorted out “one day”.

There is a lot of inspiration in the messages on this forum … why I love these Message Boards.  Sorta like a group of like-minded friends, always encouraging.

http://boards.hgtv.com/eve/forums/a/tpc/f/4004031632/m/6753959637

Time to start the day .. and so on and so forth!

Yesterday, I had grabbed my little extra camera before we dashed away for recycling and out for lunch.  I’d taken a few closeup photos of a clear set of bird footprints… just two feet away from a clear set of cat footprints.  No skirmishes.   And I think there was a time-lapse between the time that the two species had occupied the porch ledge.  Just seemed interesting to see these two sets so close together.

Sunday breakfast finished, dishes washed and put away!  Kitties boxes are cleaned.  Time for some laundry and on with the day!

Maybe I’ll do a 15 minute session of paper decluttering too!

🙂

Spent some time sorting out some plastics.  Yesterday I’d gone through my cosmetics, discarding quite a few items.  Emptied the contents and then filled up the sink with the plastics and metal components and started scrubbing away, so that I could recycle them.  Kind of disconcerting to see that one of the facial moisturizers didn’t dissolve in the soapy water.   Wonder what the ingredients were.

Decided once and for all, the snow was rapidly disappearing and I prepared myself to go outside and start emptying some of the 29 large garden bags that were stuffed to the gills with beautiful oak leaves.  And … the skies opened up and the rain poured down.  Hmmmmm… perhaps I’ll leave this for a bit.

The rainy weather is perfect to start the composting process.   It’s a bit late in the day to start working outside today, so I promise myself that tomorrow morning I’ll just put on my Australian waterproof riding coat and go outside for a few hours.

sigh.

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The circle maker .. up close

Saturday, February 26, 2011

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Lazy day today .. my dh brings me a large mug of hot Yorkshire Tea .. yum yum … I channel surf .. nothing much interesting, so up and at ’em!

Kitty kats are clamouring for breakfast.  Iam’s has been increasing their production line, and timelines haven’t been met .. so this explains the lack of tinned cat food on many supermarket shelves and in our pantry.

So I’ve chosen another brand in the interim.  Dainty little blue tins of gourmet delights, fish, vegetables, some sauce.   I carefully mash a thin layer in Jane E’s dish and try to keep her from gobbling this up as I’m preparing her food.   For the boys, Duncan & YouBou (D & YB) .. I place teaspoonfuls around their dish and soon they are busy eating away.

Good for them to have treats, I say.  Funny … mr. D is such a cool cat … yet when I shake the plastic container of catnip or the treats bag, he’s off the couch like a shot and runs to the main scratching post .. all pretence of coolness temporarily evaporated.

Looking out the window, I see that the snow is still here .. I’m not the greatest driver in the snow, so will ask my dh to make the trip with me, in his 4 wheel drive .. to take over the recyclables of plastic bags, batteries, styrofoam and tetra packs to Reynolds school.  Then we can start collecting again.

The volunteers at the open air recycling station are amazing.  There must be many hundreds of people who bring their recyclables there, everyone is in a rush and the volunteers keep everything calm, organized.  I usually give them a bit more $$ than is required.   The kids are great, hard-working, energetic, good humour.  Last summer dh & myself brought over our supply of recyclables.  I was wearing a heavy, decorative, Space Cadet helmet.  No camera, of course, would have made a good photo.  No adults laughed, but the kids were cracking up.  I donated the helmet and soon it was like a badge of honour, as they took turns wearing it.  Wonder if this helmet is now part of a collection or maybe part of a plastic landscaping item, manufactured by Syntal Products?

Well .. still looking through my bird books for the name of the sweet little “circle making” bird that I see at the Sanctuary and in our back yard.  I love this little guy …  and am sure he is a type of wren.

Busy creating circles

What I noticed in particular, when I stood there, quietly, was that this clever little bird would make little shuffle steps to uncover food in the snow.  Feet together, he would shuffle forwards and backwards, turning around, changing directions and soon there would be little circles, little caves in the snow.  How wonderful is that?

Birds are just fascinating …. and it is such a joy to learn the identification and observe the behaviour of the birds that I see every day.  The nice thing about walking around the Nature Sanctuary .. is that there are many dedicated and knowledgeable birders that I meet.  So I always have someone to ask the question “do you know what type of bird that is?”    Education never stops.

Well ….time to get on with this day!

🙂

Recycling taken care of .. we head out to Dakota’s for an early lunch or a late breakfast, one of the two, will decide when we get there.   We notice that there has been amazingly little snow on the ground, the closer out we drive.

We enjoy a delicious leisurely meal … looking out the window as planes arrive and depart.  Not a very busy place out there today.

Back home .. it’s time to relax .. exercise .. enjoy the quiet of a Saturday.   I notice some pushy Starlings attacking the suet cakes so I go outside (with my camera) and clap my hands to chase them away.  Good .. now the tiny wee birds are back .. feeding on the suet.

While I’m standing there, quiet as a mouse, I can hear some rustling to the left …. carefully turning my head to look .. I cannot see anything and blame the noise on the breezes fluttering by.  Stepping forward, noiselessly .. I catch a sudden movement on the ground.   Slowly inching forward, I can now see my little “circler” bird .. doing his shuttle dance on the frozen ground .. oh this is so darling .. and I quickly catch a few pictures before he sees me and flies away to the cherry tree.

Then, a whirring noise overhead lets me know that the little Anna is visiting one of the two feeders … I snap a quick pic as he (she?) takes a little sip of the nectar.

I’m outside without a coat or hat and suddenly start feeling chilly .. so guess it’s time to go back inside.   I’m really looking forward to warmer weather so I can spend the whole day outside!

🙂

 

 

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Friday, February 25, 2011

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 Now todays weather is much better.  There was such a howling, thundering, wild and crazy windstorm last night. It blew away all the clouds and allowed the sun to shine on so brightly today!

Outside to re-hang the hummingbird feeders and noticed that the local Rocky Racoon had been traipsing around the yard.  Around my garlic beds, to the side of the yard and then I followed the route that he had taken .. . which ended by the entrance beneath the sundeck.  So I imagine that he found protection from the storm.  All to the good.   Any port in a storm.

This morning I didn’t allow myself the luxury of a delicious mug of Yorkshire tea.  I did brew a pot and promised myself that .. as a reward .. after the recycling is done.   So, laundry chugging away, birds fed .. I set about sorting all the miscellaneous papers, tins, plastics and carried the containers out to the road .. ready for the big blue trucks to haul away.

Next I bundled all the styrofoam, foil lined bags, batteries, plastics … and prepared for tomorrow’s trip to the local school recycling at Reynolds!

Now I feel that I deserve that little break .. before going outside to wander over to the Sanctuary … I’ll bring a big bag of flatted oats for the little duckies.

I keep thinking about that tough, dainty strong little hummingbird.  Faithfully fulfilling nature’s ritual of creating new life .. little gossamer thimble of a nest tenaciously attached to a branch that was so buffeted by the wind.  I think I’ll just slowly pass by .. just to make myself feel better.

Oh, sunny days like this are so invigorating … I know that in less than a week, the snow will be gone .. and all will be green again.  And I plan to start some seedlings soon .. am so looking forward to using my new heat mat .. how exciting!

And .. I’ll have my recently purchased aviation windshield to use as a mini-greenhouse .. I’ll lean it against the side of the house!

🙂

Went for an invigorating walk in the snow … I see that the main roads are all clear.   The little side roads, like ours, are a mixture of clear road surface and some snowy sections.

Some helpful people have cleared away bits and pieces of sidewalks and stairways to the pathway to the Goose.   I thanked 0ne hard-working young man yesterday, as, garbed in the bright reflective clothing from a nearby construction sire .. he was busily removing the snow from the stairway.   What a sweetie.

So today I enjoyed my long walk .. it is still very cold and I slip and slide on some areas that had melted and then frozen.  It feels so wonderful to just enter the Sanctuary, turn off my iPod, remove my gloves and remove my trusty camera from its protective pouch.

It feels a bit strange to see the snow covering all surfaces of the Sanctuary .. even the tops of the large boulders!   The open areas have free swirling snowy  designs, a result of the winds whipping around the flats.  I notice some birds scurrying around the buses .. wonder if they’ve discovered all the seeds that I scattered along the way.

I finally reach the observatory .. the side marshes have a very thick layer of ice and I don’t see any little ducks here.  However, one of the resident chubby little wren type birds has recognized me and swiftly lands on the top of one of the sideboards……ha ha .. I can’t help but laugh at this little one .. and I throw some handfuls of flatted oats out to the side bushes .. where he will munch on them.

Walking to the end .. I don’t see any ducks, or geese or any flying creature.  Feeling kinda let down … seeing them and throwing oats to them always lifts my spirits and time disappears.

Across the lake I can see a few Canada Geese preening themselves.  Looking through my monocular I can see another little group of Geese doing the same thing.

Trying to attract their attention, I slowly throw out a few seeds at a time.  I can hear their honking, but none appear to be interested.  Suddenly … quietly .. out paddles a Mallard drake … followed by another drake .. hmmm… I wonder if these are the same 2 drakes that were here yesterday.  If so, why were they not with the flock?  Are they castaways?

Soon these two are munching away on the oats that float on the water.   They take turns being the dominant duck.  Then I see some scoters, a group of 6, and some ringnecks join the group.

A few more  groups of Canada Geese join in.   Soon there is a big party of a variety of ducks and the Geese.  I see the surge of power going on.. these Geese are very powerful.

The pack leader soon shows the control that is evident in the flying formations and the lesser Geese fade away to the background.   I soon see this ripple of power as I throw some flatted oats onto the water … only a few of the Geese actually eat the offerings .. the invisible lines of authority mark the territory.  The few Geese that do venture forth are soon hissed at as the elegant long necks snake out and attack.

Pecking order is soon restored and I’m witness again to the subtle (to me) powers of nature.

Soon my supply of oats are depleted and I make my way to the end of the observatory.   happy that I’ve been witness to this special display of a variety of wild birds and that I’ve added some good food to their diets.

I notice the little hummingbird nest is still tucked away securely and momma or poppa is on duty, keeping the eggs warm …

Over to the Mediterranean shop for some fresh flatbread (yum yum) a large bottle of capers and some other middle eastern specialties.

Searching for some non-animal-tested makeup .. I can only find some good organic items at the health food store.   Good quality  and not tested on animals.   I’m surprised that the big makeup companies aren’t focusing on this type of market.   The more products that are made available, cruelty free, in this day and age, would, in my opinion, reap a large part of the market.  As in organic food…. organic makeup is a good item to have for sale.

Maybe I’ll research the availability some more!

Well, it’s been a day!

 

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What an industrious little bird he is!!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

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Well … according to all the local weather reports, this snow is going to stay with us for awhile.   Drivers are being careful and that is good.  I know that my little car is staying where it is for now.  Even though Canadian Tire is having that wonderful laundry soap, Ecos, on sale tomorrow, wah!!!  This is the best laundry soap ever, all natural.

I was planning to get up early, drive there and pick up a couple.  But not if the roads are still snowy.

Definitely I’ll be moving those 29 bags of leaves onto the back yard, and emptying them.  Their decomposition will be speeded up by this weather.  I figure that by summertime, they will be broken down enough to use in the garden.  Yum Yum.

As soon as this snow is gone, then I plan to return to the lovely place where I gathered up this treasure and fill more bags with the lovely leaves.

Ok, first things first, though.  A big mug of Yorkshire tea .. to start the day.

🙂

Then I see that the hummingbird feeders were frozen .. I’d meant to bring them in last night, but the little Anna was hungry and was feeding quite a bit, so I just left them out.

Mixed up a new batch, filled up another feeder, hung that one up and brought in the frozen ones ..so they could thaw out.

Lots of birds this morning .. and I waved away some Starlings, they were taking over!

Saw a little wren moving her little feet back and forth in the snow and by golly, she was digging out bird seen!  Feet together, she shuffles forward and back, continuing, as she changes direction, moving in a circular dance.  I’d wondered how those little holes were created yesterday.  Soon she’s created another little circle and and there was a large clearing in the snow.

There are some very tiny, dark gray little birds .. don’t know the type yet.  They were avidly attacking one of the suet cakes and I counted 9 of them there at one time.   These birds normally stay in the privacy of the nearby cedar tree and don’t like staying in the open.

Brrr … off to feed the duckies now and pick up a few groceries on the way.

🙂

Bundled up so I look like the Michelin Man!   The wind is very cold and whips about madly, I had to hang on to my hat.   Some of the streets are passable in sections.   While some parts haven’t yet been walked on and I sink down several inches, not really sure where exactly is the sidewalk.

Finally reach the Nature Sanctuary .. and what a transformation the snow has made.  There have been a number of people here today and in some areas the path is well worn.  Again, the gusty winds whirl about the flat sections, obliterating any trace of a path.  All the birds are well tucked away, staying out of view.  I’ve brought along some wild bird seed and black sunflower seeds and scatter these along the sides, into the bushes and on the ground .. so the birds will find them later on.  My boots make a crunch crunch sound …aside from the wind howling around . .these are the only noises that I hear and it’s a very peaceful walk.

At the boardwalk, I see the frozen marshes on both sides, no duckies here today.    As I reach the end of the observatory, two Mallard drakes swim out quietly from the marsh grasses at the side.  I throw down handfuls of flatted oats and they just devour them!  Even the round little sparrow hops out to join the feast.

Guess all the other ducks are huddled over by the Nature House .. smart birds.   The winds continue to gust causing wave action on the surface of the lake.  Further along I see a small gaggle of Canada Geese … and across the lake … more geese are congregated .. having a highly excited conversation .. honk honk honk!   A couple left the group and make their way over to the grasses close by.  They see me throwing some oats onto the water and decide to stop fighting the current and majestically step onto the marshy  surface instead.

The little Drakes fly up to the walkway, I’d been so busy watching the geese, that I missed their little flights!  I just happened to look down and one of them was just standing there, little head at an angle, looking up at me!  I scattered more oats and they ate some and then just slid into the water and swam away.

Went for a little walk and scattered more wild bird seed onto the surfaces of stones and into the bushes.  Saw a few birds flitting by and I know they’ll find the treats.

I just have to see the little hummingbird …. so I stop and watch.   This darling little parent is again on the nest.  Amazing little nest, so tiny and well constructed and so strong.  The tree branches sway wildly in the wind, yet the hummingbird is unruffled, she knows the nest is built as it should be.   So happy to see Nature in action.

Make my way back …. trudging through the snow, slipping on the frozen sections.  Stop at the supermarket and carry home some heavy bags of groceries.. that seem to get heavier when I reach the unshovelled sections.   Just a few more steps and I’ll be home … I kept repeating to myself .. soon I’ll have the key in the door … and soon I did!

Looked outside, saw the birdfeeder was nearly empty .. there has been a feeding frenzy today!  So I go outside to replenish it with the black sunflower seeds … a treat for the birds!

Go back inside to leave them to enjoy the yard … I look out the kitchen window and see them flitting about, little flying patterns evident.  Suddenly a hummingbird appears in front of me .. just hovering there … the sun is glinting on the ruby red throat sections .. he flies level, back and forth as if he is trying to look inside the house.  What a treat!  Wonder if he was just saying thanks for the nectar!  I love surprises like this!

Suddenly I see a large bird flying around about3 houses away .. thought it was a seagull .. closer inspection makes me think that this is an eagle, too big for a hawk.   Out of my sight now … it’s gone away somewhere .. I do not know.

Good to see the bright sun shining now … and the winds are just howling right now.  I see the bamboo in the backyard is being whipped back and forth.  The birds have gone into hiding till the weather has calmed down a wee bit.

This has been a day!

🙂

 

 

 

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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

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Well… we smug Victorians have certainly been knocked down a peg or two!  Yesterday’s unstable weather has turned into a full-blown real snowfall!

What a difference a day makes!  Yesterday at this time, I was outside, walking in the full bright sun of the morning.  The afternoon changed.. sun, followed by snow, broken by sunny intervals.  Every time I went to go outside to distribute the bags of leaves into the mulch pile…. the snow would start.  So, I started watching the Dog Whisperer with Cesar Milan.  Then I’d see the sun … then it would snow .. then .. and so on!

So today, my dh is riding his bike to work through this snow storm!  And I am watching the flakes fall, looking at the full bags of leaves, wishing they were all on the ground so the snow would start the job of breaking them down.  big sigh.

Anyway, yesterday I started a big pot of soup .. this was after the first coating of snow.  Funny how I always want to make a big pot of soup when it snows.   Guess it’s just basic instinct.  Or a good way to clean out the fridge!

I opened the fridge door and methodically went through the shelves, seeking all vegetables that were just perfect for this latest creation. I peeled and chopped and soon had a mini-mountain of: shallots, onions, orange & yellow peppers, zucchini, cauliflower and soon this mix was simmering away in a pot of organic chicken broth.   And smells yummy.

Another thing that snow inspires me to do .. is sorting household items.   And I guess this is a theme, Oprah had a program regarding this and I see that there is an article in the Times Colonist also.

One thing I know that I have a surplus of .. is … writing paper and notebooks.  In fact I have such a supply that I keep these all stocked together in a box.  Problem is, I don’t know where I placed the box.   And my post-its are sort of missing too .. so I’ve gone back to keeping notes in my beautiful, silky tapestried covered notebook that I purchased in one of the shops on Fisgard Street, Victoria’s famed Chinatown – this is the oldest one in Canada!

These beautiful note books are lovingly covered with a beautiful silky fabric, the corners and spine are layered with a soft rubberized type material and embossed with flowers and leaves.  “Diary” is printed on the spine.  The fabric designs are the same in both my first purchase of 1986 and my current copy, purchased in 2003.   The print design is smaller on the ’86 version, as the book is 4 x 6″.  My current book is larger, 5 x 7″ and the design is doubled in size and still as beautiful.

Inside, the pages bear faint lines to guide the writing that will be placed there.  Each page has the same faint inked design of birds, boats, fish.   And there is a thin red braided ribbon for use as a page marker.

I truly love these little books.  My first one occasionally goes missing for a while and I always find it.  I laugh when I read some comments from years ago.  As in our little dog Muffy, who didn’t like to hear me practise the violin!   And I truly didn’t blame her … music critic that she was, my little darling dog.

Then there were my gardening notes from many years ago.  I was still trying to eradicate morning-glory and had pulled miles of that infuriating telephone-cord like weed from the yard.  And it’s still here.  I wonder if scientists will ever dissect this pest and pull out the tenacity of this plant to use for something good!

Anyway …. looks like I won’t be working outside for a few hours.  So, since I really can’t avoid it any longer …. on to my sorting out paperwork.  wah.

🙂

ha ha ha .. about that avoidance thing and paperwork, I managed to create a new diversion all by myself!

It started out innocently enough.  I simply decided to take the compost out and at the same time, top up the bird feeder.  First, though, I had to find my winter boots.   I haven’t needed them for a few years so to locate them, I had to go through a number of rooms and then eventually, voila.. there they were.

So…. hatted, coated, booted out and armed with the compost pail and the container of bird feed .. I ventured outside.  Hmmm… there was a bird that resembled the American Tree Sparrow .. .he was quite roundish and didn’t fly away when I brought out my umbrella and camera to take some photos.

One thing led to another and soon I was snapping more photos, shovelled a path to the front yard, then cleared the steps and the walkway to the road.  Saw some neighbourhood kids building a snow fort.  Hmmmm. …. I started making a snowball, which led me to making a snowman.  Whew .. I’d totally forgotten the energy involved in rolling the snowball around the yard, it was a lot of work.

Finally, I had the 3 sections, head, midsection and main body.  Soon my snowman was decorated with stone facial features, the traditional 3 buttoned mid section.   I placed some gardening items around, leaned a rake and put gardening gloves on for hands.  Okay … maybe I have a little too much free time.  Cause the next bright idea I had was to locate Mr. Happy Snowman, one of our Christmas decorations.

Hmmmm .. what to do ….ok, I’d place him in the car as the driver.  The only  thing was, I needed to have something on the driver’s seat so that it would appear as if he was the driver.  I piled up several things, one of which was a bag of organic bone meal, that worked out well.  Except that the bag wasn’t sealed, so I was soon scooping up the tan coloured powder from the driver’s seat.  I decided that the first sunny day, I’ll really clean out my car.

Finally, I’d situated Mr. Snowman just right and set about taking some photos.  Fortunately I couldn’t see many neighbours walking around, but who knew how many were looking out their windows at this recently retired person who was acting a little weird .. even for Victorians!

Photo session over, I gathered my toys and trudged back to the basement and put them all away.  Went back outside and shovelled the steps and walkways for the second time.

All I could think of was making a pot of hot Yorkshire tea at this point!   And heated up a bowl of that delicious soup that I’d just made last night.  So, snug and warm inside, housework chores done, I relax a bit and watch just a little bit of the Dog Whisperer with my ole pal Cesar!

It’s been quite a day so far .. and I can see the sun trying to shine through the sky.  That’s a good sign.  Perhaps by tomorrow most of this snow will be gone!

I see that the bird feeder is getting a bit low … so I’ll add more sunflower seeds and hang up another suet block.  No cameras.  Then, it’s off to the Caribbean Workout for some exercise .. yea .. week four!

I learned something (again) today.  It’s about trust, something which is intangible yet has a worth greater than gold.  I noticed that when I went outside to fill up the bird-feeder, some of the birds didn’t fly away .. they trusted me and knew that I’d replenish their food source.

Another big example was shown to me by our cat, Duncan-Duncan-Duncan !  Stubborn male that he is, he badly wanted outside … so .. I let him … and filmed him stomping through the snow!  surprise, surprise, mr.   He almost fell down the outside stairway, the snow was too deep and he couldn’t properly sense where the steps were.

I later called out to him .. so he’d venture back, but, again, stubborn.  So just a short while ago, I wandered into the kitchen and see some recent paw prints outside the kitchen entrance.  Deep prints, the snow is not shallow.  Looking up, I see this little mr. … crouched on a tiny bit of hot tub cover that doesn’t have any snow on it.  He sees me and cries out, looks around, can’t see a way to get down as by now, he knows that this white stuff is deep and not solid enough to walk on.

So I put on my shoes, open the door, step outside, close to the tub and hold my arms out to him.

Now this cat normally does not like being held.

His face had that little lost look on it .. like he was cold and hungry and didn’t know what to do.  I picked him up, cuddled him in my arms and he just snuggled up to me .. .he trusted me and knew that I’d make sure he would be all right.

And now little mr. and his little brother are all snuggled up together in their little cat bed, happy tummies full of crunchy cat treats.  Sleeping away .. nice and warm.

🙂

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Tuesday, February 21, 2011

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My dh tells me the temperature this week is 1 + … brrr brrr brrr….

On the agenda today … walkies … empty the bags of leaves and start mixing them up.

And a reminder to myself to spread the food thin on Jane E’s dish at meal times.  My little calico Manx was born during The Big Snow Fall and so she is now 11 and sometimes has trouble with her food .. eats too quickly and then .. poor little thing, she upchucks!  So Iams had a good suggestion to avoid that .. and that is to spread the food paper-thin on her dish and this works wonderfully – she can only eat daintily and this helps with her digestion.

Except this morning I didn’t do that … and so she had a problem.  Murphy’s Law again.  So .. clean dish . .and a spoon of food spread paper-thin and now the food is ready for her when she is hungry.

Sure is interesting to see the personalities of our 3 cats.  Duncan is the big brother of the mix.  His white whiskers, chin and paws sets off his black fur nicely and he always looks like he is wearing a tuxedo and he is oh, so cool!  His younger brother, YouBou, fully black, is fully grown and half the size.  He’s a little love.  They were both feral cats and are now happily settled in as house cats except when Duncan gets in a mood and starts stomping around with heavy feet pounding on the floor. This is his signal that he wants to go outside.

I can always tell when D is at the patio door, wanting back inside, shoulder pressed against the door, trying to open it – it works in the summer with the screen door, but that’s the only time.  Doesn’t stop him from trying, though.  Little YB presses his face against the glassed kitchen door, eyes wide open, frantic look on his face.  So I go to the patio door, and yup, there is the big D.

They all have their places in the house.  D & YB are not allowed in certain rooms of the house, unless accompanied by an adult.  They like to mark their territory and that’s ok outside, but, not .. inside!  JaneE has the run of the house.   Her hallowed ground is our room where she has her cat sofa, cat lounger and scratching post.  If D or YB attempt to enter this hallowed space, she promptly hisses at them and out they run.

So now the weather is very cold at night and the boys want to cuddle .. they are allowed on the sofa where they groom each other and fall asleep, contented to be in the rest of the house, with us, now that they are behaving.

Jane E saunters into the living room.  Blithely unaware of their presence.   Soon, they’ve woken up and were walking around and shortly, there was a line of 1 – 2 – 3 … 1 being D, 2 being JE and 3 being YB ….kinda cute .. and then JE ran to the safety of her room!

Such fun .. well, let’s get going with this day!

  • Mulch, n, a mixture, usually of vegetable matter spread around a plant to help it grow.
  • Munificent, adj, splendidly generous.
  • Offset, n, 1) a side shoot from a plant. 2) a method of printing in which ink is transferred from a plate or stone to a uniform rubber surface and from there to paper, etc.

🙂

This is a beautiful sunny morning, so outside I go!  I have an owie with my eye, so I walk over to the local medical clinic .. just a few people ahead of me, this early morning opening time!  The Dr. is wonderful and prescribes a little ointment for my eye.  When I tell him that I’ll have the perscription filled next door at Elements, he was pleased and noted that he was very happy that this Compounding Pharmacy is so close.  Nowadays, big pharmacies (read:  large supermarkets & box stores) don’t always stock essential ingredients!  Which the compounding pharmacies do!

So I walk next door to Elements, and quick as a wink, the solution is ready!  I feel so good visiting this cheerful place!

Anyway, I continue onwards to the Nature Sanctuary and soon I’m happily sauntering the winding paths along the marshy grasses, bushes and trees.  There is a wee bit of frost along the way and the sun is making short work of that.  I see a light coating of frost covering the surface of a nearby bench.   The leaves have grown quite a bit since I visited last week.   Growth is more lush in some places than others.  Perhaps the warmth of the sun makes a big difference.

Oh, I am so very happy to be back walking along this magnificent nature sanctuary.  I’ve been used to visiting every day, and I was so involved in other things (oak leaves and other things) that I just hadn’t made the trek.  This place feels like a second home.   Such a familiar place, so lush with beauty. We are so very lucky!

Soon I’m at the boardwalk and I gently step onto the boards, not making a sound.  I can see a little female Mallard along the way .. she sees me and starts the long trek to where I stand.  There is also a tiny bush wren (I think that is correct) who quickly hops onto the railing just a few feet away, eagerly awaiting some flatted oats.  This is the first time that one of these sweet little birds has come to close to me.

Ok .. I open up the large ziplock bag full of flatted oats and strew some onto the surface of some of the floorboards of the walkway.  Soon we are joined by another little female.  They both eagerly peck away at the oats.

I quietly tip toe by these 2 little duckies and walk towards the end of the observatory.  Across the lake I can see an excited group of kids, most likely a school trip .. and I can hear the authoritive voice of the class teacher, patiently explaining some feature of the sanctuary to them.

Just a few minutes later, as if by magic –  from various areas of the lake, more Mallards swim and fly towards the observatory.  Off to the side, I caught the sudden movement of a pair of Canada Geese .. going through their morning oblutions …dipping themselves quickly in the water, then, mighty wings outspread, they wave them back and forth in the air, shedding surplus water.   This is a treat .. first time I’ve seen this.

Mr. Seagull flies down to the area, looking to share in the picnic.  He senses that his presence is not welcomed (by me .. the ducks don’t care!) and keeps flying away and returning!

I detect a very faint noise behind me and see a respectful birder, carefully walking along the boards – not wanting to disturb the little group of Mallards scattered about the area where I am standing .. .   I was just going to speak to her about the ducks – however, she quietly  turns away.    Respect for the wildlife .. how lovely.   And how very different from the heavy footed tiny jogger of last week, who thundered up and down this boardwalk, sending an startled a tranquil  group of ducks into the air.  And causing the walkway to sway back and forth. Day and night!

Feeling a little curious about the magical little hummingbirds nest that I saw last week .. I venture farther along the trail.  Oh, no, I can’t find it .. maybe it slid into another dimension .. or I was wrong about the location.

I stop to take photos and then suddenly, I see it .. tiny, tiny, tucked away.   And I can’t believe it!  One of the parents has flown in and is sitting in the nest.  There must be little eggs there, to be hatched I do not know when.  So I’ll have to do some more research on these lovely beings.  I feel so honoured to be here at this moment of time.

It is very peaceful here now …. no one is passing by .. otherwise, I would not have stopped, I don’t want to draw any attention to this treasure.  I’m sure that other birders are likewise being very respectful at this incredible feat of nature.

I feel so  moved that I am so very very fortunate to be able to quietly observe the wonderous sight of this tiniest of birds in the tiniest of nests, carefully constructed.

Amazing that this delicate little creature is confidently nesting, needle like beak set at a jaunty angle.  A little dot of life nestled in its little house, confident in its role to create new delicate life in this healthy place.  This petite little nest .. I wonder how the parents determined the location, how they must have painstakingly created the structure and infilling of their home … and how long it must have taken them to choose each and every item used in the construction.

I just feel so blessed to have experienced this dazzling miracle of the hummingbirds nest .. they must have sensed my presence, and decided that I meant them no harm.  Isn’t nature just beautiful.  sigh.  This indeed, is the highlight of my day, week, month.

Finally, I tear myself away from this wondrous sight and quietly return to the path and onwards.

The sun had been blazing warm when I left this morning .. and I really wanted to play in the yard, but also really wanted to visit the duckies, so the ducks won out.  Now I can see big grey clouds in the sky and there are patches of blue and white fluffy clouds too!  And I’m hungry for lunch, so head towards home.

Playing with my photos .. and drinking some Yorkshire tea, it’s now time to go and empty those 29 garden bags of leaves!!!

🙂

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