Archive for March, 2011

Thursday, March 32, 2011

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Aha .. the 31st day of March .. the last day of the month!  April starts tomorrow (hey, that’s good math!) and with it will come the showers that will bring forth the flowers in May.

At least, in theory, that is how it is supposed to work!

I’m so happy with the no-knead breads that I’ve been making lately.   It is delicious bread, without any effort at all.  Last night it took maybe a minute to bring the ingredients to the table, measure, pour and mix the dry ingredients.  Add the warm water.  stir stir stir.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap & a clean tea-towel.  Place the bowl in a warm area.  And that is it.  Later on this afternoon I’ll just punch the dough down a little and put in the bread pan.   And let it rest for 3 hours and then put in the oven for 40 minutes.   Remove.   Cut a slice, slather on some butter and delicious!!!

I’ve been using a combination of enriched white flour, whole wheat and some spelt flour.   flaxseed, cumin seeds.  Experimenting.   I added some sun-dried tomatoes a few days ago and that was good!   Costs so little and always fresh.  Yum.

Anyway, looking out the window, I see that the winds continue from yesterday.  The sun is shining a little .. and the yard is enticing me to come out and play.

Which I will do… shortly, after I do a quick marathon on paperwork.   A little challenge, as it were .. to get going!  I know that once this little (?) chore is complete I will feel so free .. as if a burden has been lifted from my shoulders.   And that is really true .. it will be.

So, no more excuses .. and so onwards I go!


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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

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Lovely rain outside today!  I’m happy .. because this will help break down my huge compost pile .. the one that I have to move to another location!

I’ve been having so much fun working in the yard!  I still haven’t spent the complete day outside, but I’m working on that.  Have been finding that, once I do get outside, I really accomplish a great deal in what turns out to be a very short time span.

Time just stops when I go into my little area of paradise.   To begin with  … I just stand there, looking around the yard and envision what the yard is going to look like in the coming months and years.  All gardeners are similar in this respect.  It’s the inner artist in all of us.   Non-gardener type people would just see piles of dirt, mud, and bare fence.  But we see something totally different.

We look at the fence and see the vines climbing over the entire surface.   Small perennials that will achieve their full height.  Some sooner than others, and we know that, also.   Hidden seedlings that are just bursting forth from their casings will soon be flourishing in the sun, filling the yard with colour.

For now, though, it’s the working of the soil that is so important.

I’m excited thinking about the little sunflower seedlings that I uncovered yesterday .. when I was removing the gravel and landscape fabric from beneath the bird feeder.  There was a gentle rain, but I was so focused on separating and potting up this little darlings, that I didn’t feel a drop!  These plants are going to bright up the yard.   One of the magical moments in gardening.

I  think that I will create a circle of these yellow beauties .. to re-enact a childhood gardening memory.  For some reason, I had a 5 cent package of sunflower seeds  and I had planted them all, forming a circle, a round patch,  in a patch of our bare yard.   These grew into beautiful plants, and I was so proud of them.

And I love these amazing styrofoam rooting trays …  which allow for greater root systems to grow, resulting in stronger plants.

I read in Helen Chestnut’s TC column that now is the time to start tomato plants.   Well .. now I can use my heating plant mat.. and I’ll also include some of the luffa seeds from last year’s “Amazing Luffa Contest”!

Lots to do on this day .. and it’s time to get going!


I completed all my errands this morning.  And I had a great discussion at Thrifty Foods .. about flour, coconut milk, etc.   very informative.

Impatient to be finished so I could embark on my nature walk .. finally .. at home!

Weather was a bit windy and there was some sporadic very light showers as I went along my way.  I think about the little hummingbirds in the yard and wonder how the little nest is holding out against the winds!!

The waters are way down in the marsh area by Swan Lake .. and the lake itself is quite choppy.   There was just the one pair of Mallards this morning … they were happily munching on the flatted oats as I scattered them onto the water.

Walking out on the boards, I surprised one little duck, I think it was a female Hooded Merganser.   The duck quickly swam away.   Then things started to get interesting.

About 6 ducks came towards the observatory, some swimming and a few others flew in.   Of course, they were hungry and were looking forward to partaking of the flatted oats that I’d scattered around.

Well, that seemingly mild-mannered drake ( of the first couple that I saw this morning) wasn’t having any part of any other Drake, whatsoever .. sharing in this feast.

One by one, he approached menacingly and forced them away.   At one point, he was flying after two of them and I had to turn around in a circle to keep sight of them, flying all around the area!  This guy was serious, big time.

At one point, he swam to the side marshes .. climbed up onto the grassy surface of the shore and started chasing away an innocent Drake who was just quietly sitting there and grooming himself!   Splash, into the water and whoosh, up into the sky they went!

Each time this Drake fended off other Drakes, he quietly came back to the boardwalk and commenced eating.   He went to each of the four areas where I had placed the oats and munched away.    His body language spoke volumes, as he elevated his beak into the air, elongating his neck to a full height.  I’ve only seen this a few times and I gather this is a tell-tale signal to other ducks to not come near .. or else!

Finally, there was peace and quiet.   Only top duck and his mate were on the boardwalk, all other ducks keeping their respectful distance in the water.

The Red Winged Blackbird came over to join in the party .. and a lovely Sparrow calmly flew onto a fence rail .. walked along the top surface of the board and simply hopped down to the deck and started cracking open some oats …

I could see three Canada Geese looking over to see if it was worth their while to swim over.   At this point, I was ready to leave.

As I turned to walk away, I noticed the eagles flying about .. and then they settled at the top of a tree … magnificent sight.

Sigh.   homeward bound … I turned away and began the quiet, relaxing walk home … savouring the sounds of the dry grasses, rustling in the breeze … sounds of birds singing away …

I see the work is now underway to install a brand new sidewalk .. a spacious walkway that will make walking so much easier now for the pedestrians (of which I am one)!

Just by chance, I decided to take a photo of the intertwined semi-circle of trees that border one area of the boulevard.   And I see the notice that two of them have to be removed.   Such is progress.   There are still quite a number of trees remaining, so the effect won’t be harmed.   Just as I was clicking away, along came the big truck that would commence the removal of the trees.  So I felt quite fortunate to have snapped my photos.

In the distance, I can see the chalkline markings showing the width and position of the upcoming sidewalk.  Will there be a ribbon cutting ceremony?   Well, this sidewalk is very welcomed, I know that.

Nearing home, I see that “Beth’s forsythia” is still in bloom.   Beth was a gentle soul who used to live in the neighbourhood.    She loved watching Coronation Street and I was surprised to receive a call from her on one Sunday morning, many years ago!  She was just irate that CBC had, for whatever reason, cancelled the omnibus show for that day!

Anyway, Beth loved her garden.   She had a gardener come to the yard and do the cleaning up chores .. after which, she would relax in her wooden Adirondack chair and just listen to the breezes, the birds … and enjoy looking at her flowers, plants and trees.

Anyway, the forsythia came from Beth’s yard such a long time ago .. and we’ve always called this plant after her.

Brrr … went outside to top up the bird feeder and see how the little birdies were faring.   The wind is picking up and the air is a bit chilly.   I toy with the idea of working outside .. but decide to start tomorrow, early, instead!

Saw a few hummingbirds darting around, but only briefly.   Perhaps they are cuddled up in their little living rooms, tiny fireplaces roaring away as they ward off the chill.  The tiniest of little mugs of steaming hot chocolate, complete with marshmallow toppings.

Nice picture, anyway!

A lovely day …





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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

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Another overcast day … and the sun keeps on teasing, popping out from behind the clouds just enough to brighten up the day!

Today has been one of those days when I have a number of things to do, and they all involve being somewhere too far to walk .. in one day, anyway.

So after household stuff, I race to my little car and set off on my errands.  The first part involves travelling to the country, where the roads weren’t very busy, so I really enjoyed seeing all the spring greenery.   Met with some friends who are avid gardeners and outdoors people!  They love hummingbirds and have a number of feeders in clear view.

I recounted my sad tale of the disappearing little h/bird nest and was reassured that, yes, sadly, this does happen.   Especially when the weather is really windy.   She had planted spring-flowering seeds and was so happy to see, when they returned from a trip to warmer climates … that the seeds had sprouted and were happily growing away.

Reminder to self:  get going on the seeds!!!

From there I wove my way to the busy hub of downtown Victoria.  Really wanted to park at the Eaton Centre Parkade.   I missed the first chance to go there directly and didn’t want to repeat my previous activity of driving around the block 3 times, each time choosing the wrong street to turn right on!  To easily enter the parkade.   So I chose to use the expensive street parking.  I just didn’t have the drive to circle again.

It feels a little strange to drive about the city in my car … having become so used to just walking everywhere.  Walking is just so liberating .. you can stop wherever and whenever you choose.  You can easily change direction.  You don’t have to pay for parking!!!

On the other hand, driving is practical for going long distances, and picking up large purchases in a short span of time.   And my little Echo just is wonderful on gas … about 52 mpg on the highway!   Cheaper than the bus.

However, driving now is a real treat for me, I’m fortunate to have my little car.  But .. my mode of preference now .. are my happy little feet!!

I don’t go shopping downtown often … I used to know all the little shortcuts as I used to race around town.   So it almost feels like I’m visiting a new town whenever I do go there! Kinda fun.

And I don’t usually see people who I know.  So today, I really enjoyed seeing friends from the past!  Catching up on what’s been going on in their lives and recounting my latest whatever I’ve been doing.  It’s like going back in time, a bit!

So after my business was done, I joined a good pal for a cup of tea in a local cafe.   That was fun and we had a good visit.

Then, it was on to my parking space, I just had enough time left on the meter.  Which is a good thing, cause I was passing Chapters Bookstore and was sorely tempted to just wander in and browse, but I made myself continue.

I’m showing a certain amount of self-constraint lately, so I’m quite proud of myself.

For a big example, there was a book sale at the Cedar Hill library last weekend.   I really, really, really ..to the nth degree .. wanted to go there.  Especially at 1:30  on Sunday, when the “all you can carry” for $5 session was happening.  Talked it over with my dh who reminded me, over and over, of the many books that I’d purchased at the last sale and I haven’t read them (all) yet.  Still, I whined and dithered and finally he had enough and said to me “ok, why don’t you just go over there, then?”    This reverse psychology worked on me, as I replied, “no, you’re right, I still haven’t read (all) of the books .. so I won’t go “this” time!”   I felt quite mature and grown up for that!

A few days ago, I made some no-knead bread, from the Food Channel, Chef at Home.  I’d left the dough to rise longer than the recipe called for, so I wasn’t sure if it was going to be edible or not.   Once I removed the finished loaf from the oven, and slid the very hearty loaf onto the cutting board, I noticed that the crust was a lot (that is .. a lot) denser than I’d envisioned.  I covered it well with plastic wrap and dh and myself continued to slice thin pieces of the bread to munch on.

The bread seemed to improve with the passing of the days.    And the last little bit of bread was the best!    So I’ve mixed up another batch and will be baking that one in about 3 hours.

I googled the no-knead recipes and most of them seem to stem from an article in the New York Times.   There were variations on a theme.  One lady had her version of the recipe, with her young son mixing the bread .. to show how easy it was to mix!

She had very helpful suggestions along the way .. and I like the hint that she made, that if you are in a hurry, the bread is just as delicious if it only rises 6 hours or so, instead of the 18 -24 hours recommended.   So I’ll be experimenting along the way.   It is very very cheap to make, just 3 cups of flour (and you  can use a variety of these) 1/2 tsp of active yeast (I purchased a jar, it’s cheaper) salt, water, mixture of any grains and that’s it!

Anyway, it’s been a wonderful day.   Now .. .shall I go visit my little feathered friends at the Sanctuary ( my 2nd home) or work outside (my 3rd home) or sort papers?  (no comment).


Well, gardening finally won out!  As soon as I stepped outside, there was a light drizzle!  So I covered up my iPod & speakers and went digging.

Moved some well composted mulch to one area of the garden.   During this process… my shovel clinked against a rocky surface.  Gently removing the surface covering, I discovered my lovely garden step!   Inlaid with stained glass to form a picture of a happy little yellow duck!  I’d purchased this from Stan’s booth a few years ago (he and his wife made lovely garden steps along with his amazing wooden creations of pens, magnifying glasses etc.  so many beautiful items).

Anyway, this step reminded me of my happy little Muscovy duck, Huggers!  So I’d placed this lovely step in the garden .. and somehow, had piled on the mulch.   I quickly put this treasure to one side, it will definitely eventually reside in a prominent place in my garden.   Little Hugs, when he was a little duckling, was so sweet.   He nibbled on the insects that bothered my garden plants and he was like a ray of sunshine.   Then, as he grew older, he became accustomed to munching on berries and fresh lettuce and soon wouldn’t bother with little insects.   But he was still cute!

I’m so excited about this shape-change of the garden.   Not really certain what I will be doing.  It feels so good to be walking on a sort of level surface .. that only last year was a mound of items to be cleared. (blackberries, etc.).  So I’m playing around with the area.   Walking around, getting a feel of what it feels like, to walk this route, or that way.   Placing round pavers here and there.   Gathering the gravel into containers, raising the landscape fabric.

And in doing so, I’ve encountered sprouted sunflower seeds .. from the leftover seeds in the bird feeder!  This led me to bringing over one of the lovely styrofoam rooting trays.   I quickly added some good soil mixture into the openings of the trays .. and, using a section of bamboo, tamped openings in each one (about 6 rows).

Then, I carefully separated the sunflower sprouts and put them, individually, into the rooting sections!   I’ll finish this tomorrow.   What a good combination of efforts!  I purchase the black oiled sunflowers for the birds to eat .. some of them just are scattered to the side .. and they root … and then, I’ll plant them!  Depending on how they grow, I plan to dry the seed heads and then just place them about the yard next winter, for the birds to eat.

And I’ll most likely find more seedlings, next spring .. and I’ll repeat this process.  How fun!

I walk around the yard .. noting how the plants are growing.   I see the raspberry canes are in full leaf.   These are the descendants of some canes that a coworker gave me, many many years ago.  I’d since given many away to friends.  Lovely berries, they are.

The accordion folded leaves of the Euphorbia are glistening with tiny droplets of rain… and the lupines are similar ..

Much as I dislike the Bluebells, the flowers do look pretty.   This plant is as insidious as the morning-glory …argh.

The bird feeder is empty so I bring another container outside, remove the lid and refill it .. and as I do so, the birds call out to each other …. and soon they are feeding away!

Inside, another lovely supper, now for the dishes, argh.

And .. I made another loaf of the no-knead bread!  Started this mixture yesterday, around 5:30.   The texture is a bit lighter and it is delicious!  So, I mix up another batch, to bake for tomorrow.   This is a lot of fun .. very inexpensive and so delicious!!  I much prefer this homemade bread to purchasing a sliced loaf.  And it is so much fun to experiment with timing and ingredients.   Tonight I added some soya flour to the mix, and the usual flax seeds and added some cumin seeds.

Well, this has been another great day!

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Monday, March 28, 2011

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Sort of an overcast day today …  good … I plan to finish sorting out my paperwork.   This is a challenge.

Went outside to check the bird feeders and see how the hummingbird stations are doing … the Anna’s are getting used to me now.   And are allowing me to be within a 3 foot radius when they feed.  And when they perch on the circles of wire designs on the little archway.

I haven’t been outside enough during the past few days to see the little Anna pick and choose the amount of cotton wadding to use for her nest, so I really miss that sight.  Wonder if I’ll be lucky enough to see the little babies fly around .. that would be so wonderful.

Looking up at the sky, I remembered seeing the 6 or 7 eagles thermalling way up high, a few days ago.   Two of them entwined their talons and spun, tumbling over and over ..  and then I lost sight of them.   This is part of their mating ritual and I felt fortunate to have seen this bit of real nature.

Yesterday I tried some new recipes, seen on the Food Channel … I liked the easy banana ice cream.  Simply, peeled, sliced bananas, frozen on a cookie sheet .. then whipped up in a blender.  I added about a cup of mixed frozen berries.    The results were delicious.   Like a smoothie, without the yogurt.

Well .. .this pile of paperwork isn’t gong to sort itself .. so I’m going to be focused and clear that all up!  Challenging and who knows, maybe I’ll find a lucky lottery ticket!


Well, the energy of a long walk far outweighed the tidy sorting of papers .. so I went out!   So wonderful to be walking in the Sanctuary.

Noticed that the pearl (not real!) earring has now disappeared …  and that the leaves of all the plants have been steadily growing!

Little hummingbirds fly about and perch atop the pine trees.

The Varied Thrushes are so lovely and I see a few of them rustling about.

I stop at a little side pond and see a Mallard couple there, quietly nibbling away at the marsh grasses.   They see me and swim over … so I unhook my back-purse and bring out the bag of flatted oats.  These little guys must be visitors at the observatory!    So I fling out generous handfuls of the oats for them.   They swiftly start munching away.   And I continue on my way.

No little duckies or geese along the pathway, now .. so I must have missed the busyness of the morning.

Once at the observatory .. I see a quiet couple of Mallards at the sidepond .. and fling generous amounts of flatted oats onto the surface of the marshy grassed for them.

Walking further on the walkway, I see a couple of Mallards swimming towards me … their watery wake forming a wide V shape.   Soon they are happily munching away at the oats.

Then a Canadian Goose swims up .. I think this is the male .. he is making hissy noises!  So I throw oats to him.

A few Coots swim alongside .. followed by some Ring Necks .. then there is the Red Winged Blackbird .. and some Gold-Crested Sparrows!

I can see some Geese on the far side of the lake .. and the Blue Heron is back in the usual placed.  Must have missed the Double Crested Cormorants today.

Looking up, I can see the pair of Bald Headed Eagles .. in their resting place atop the pines .. so magnificent.  I missed one of the eagles flying away .. . had started paying attention to the sweet Mallards and then looked up … wah .. only one eagle up there.

Enjoyed my restful visit there this morning.   I almost didn’t go .. as really, I should have finished sorting my papers, but, I’ve sorted enough papers in my lifetime and these can take second place to the visit to the Sanctuary!

Home … lunch .. relax .. and then, well, what else could I possibly do .. but .. go outside!!  Yea!!! Priorities in place.

I worked away for a few hours, shifting the garden mulch to another area, lifting up the gravel walkway that I’d placed in a garden area .. time to change the layout of the garden.  Plus .. I have to make space for my dh’s aviation area.

Didn’t see the little Anna collecting more cotton for her nest.  However, I did see a little hummingbird appear from the cedar trees .. fly out .. and just sit on a branch of the plum-tree.   Maybe she was just taking a break from nest-building?

This has been another wonderful productive, interesting day ….


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Sunday, March 27, 2011

The end of the week … a day to relax and unwind.

I’m so very happy with the way that the yard is unfolding.  It’s like having a brand new canvas to garden in.   So enjoyable to sit outside on my cedar bench, leafing through my gardening books .. seeking ideas!

I used to have four raised beds here, with gravel walkways all around.   My dh had assembled these and I had flattened the ground around them, doing the stomp stomp shuffle back and forth dance with my gumboots, making sure that the surface was flat.

Next came the landscape fabric, to act as a barrier against the weeds.   Finally, I’d brought in the 6 yards of gravel, via my trusty wheelbarrow, spreading the crunchy material around the beds .. to have a nice crisp, non-muddy surface.

The soil underneath is so rich from  years of enriching those beds with hay/manure/seaweed/fish heads.

So in the interim since then, the boards have fallen in disrepair, untreated boards against nature, that sort of thing, and everything was piled to the side of the yard, awaiting reshaping.  And so I started that job a few years ago .. and now … voila!  I’ve moved the gravel mountain and I’m about to start over.  This is so very exciting.

And I’ve been noticing, over the past number of years, how creative gardeners have become.  Carefully re-utilizing objects for the garden.  Instead of throwing out items .. things are being used for different purposes in the garden.  Repurposing. … yea, that’s a catchy phrase.   Upscale from Recycling.

One nifty idea is to use old dinner plates in the garden, using a black felt pen (or acrylic paints) to list the plant name .. or whatever .. maybe a fairy tale .. on the plate and placing that by the plant(s).

I’ve noticed the outside garden areas at Recyclista are very interesting .. using, as they do .. bicycle parts!  I’ve been looking for aviation type items for the garden at Dakota Cafe.    And for home, sweet, home .. I’m using found items, and looking for creative ideas for aviation tubing.

I can see the branches of the cedar trees waving around outside .. and wonder how the little hummingbird nest is coming along?  And the little Mallard feathers are still there .. so she hasn’t chosen them yet .. maybe they will be used for a finishing, decorative touch?

Ah .. well .. on with this day!



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Saturday, March 26, 2011

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Busy day planned for today!   Today is the Reynolds recycling depot .. for all that styrofoam, batteries, plastic bags etc. !  My recycling highlight.

Yesterday I went for a long walk, always aim for my favourite place and wanted to diversify the walk.  So I changed my start out direction and meandered down by the allotment gardens.

Noted how many of them have been carefully tilled.   Others have lovely piles of hay layered on.  I know that these lucky gardeners have lots of lovely mulched leaves available for their use.  Lucky gardeners, indeed!

I notice the allotment section belonging to the happy gardener that I spoke with a few weeks ago is looking good.  He uses sea soil from Integrity on his garden.

Interesting too .. to see how the gardening attitudes of individuals differ.   Some have high frameworks surrounding their plots, to dissuade any stray deer that might nibble at their produce.  And others (like my happy gardener) leave their plots open to the air and just plant a few extra plants .. to share with nature.   I sure like that open attitude.

I decided to take the overland route to the shops, to pick up suet for the backyard birds.   It was only midmorning and the traffic was fairly light.  Even so, it was very noisy as I walked along.  Decided to revert back to the Galloping Goose for my future forays.   Much quieter.

The weather was a bit misty and the rains came and went as I entered the Nature Sanctuary.    It was a quiet walk .. I didn’t meet anyone till I was leaving the area.

As I neared the observatory, I saw a cheerful big red robin all nestled up, comfy, on a tree branch.  He seemed to be posing and was very patient as I tried to find him in the camera’s view screen.   How I miss a viewfinder!!!   Anyway, I was finally able to snap a pic of him!   As I started to walk along the wooden boardwalk of the observatory, very quietly, I couldn’t see any ducks at all.

Then,  oh, so silently, a pair of Mallards swam towards the observatory and angled their sweet little faces up to me .. and I opened my pack and removed the bag of flatted oats to feed them.   I scattered generous handfuls of oats onto the grassy areas of the sideponds .. and noted that the water level is still low.

Walking out to the end of the walkway, I looked out to see if there were any other wildfowl out there … and could make out 2 Bearded Cormorants on the far side of the lake.   As I watched, one of them slowly entered the water and swam away .. looking for breakfast, I guess.

Then the action started.  From the other side of the lake, I saw a couple of Mallards swiftly making their way towards me.  Good eyes!  It took them just a minute or so to swim over and then they happily munched away as I threw the oats into the water.   A female Mallard (I think this is the really pushy one!) swam over, quacking away …. only to be chased away by the Drake of this new couple.

They flew for quite a stretch, and only when she had gone elsewhere, did the Drake return!   A few minutes later, the female returns, accompanied by a Drake.   She settles in at the side marsh, still quacking away.  Meanwhile, her Drake encourages the gentle couple to move away, and they do so … swimming away to a distance of about 30 feet.   Quiet now.   They stay clear of the area by the observatory.  The female joins her brave Drake and they now are the rulers of this area.

It was quite a dramatic interlude.   Pecking order in action.

The situation changed when a pair of Canada Geese swam majestically over to the decking.  No questions on who is at the top of the pecking order here.

Just wanting peace to reign, and not really knowledgeable about bird behaviour .. I decided to give everyone a generous supply of the oats!   Then, remembering Cesar Milan’s training tips, I just let the birds be .. and in just ignoring them, they settled down and were just calmly feeding and swimming.

Little sparrows joined in the feast as did the frisky little Red-Winged Blackbird.

I took time to look up at the eagle resting in the tall evergreen tree .. so majestic.    And I am so very grateful that this wonderful experience of nature is so very close … just steps away from my doorstep.

Anyway, time is marching on and I have things to do … so I make my way home.  But wait, I think that I’ll continue on the Goose and make a visit to Recyclista!  That funky bike station that has existed for many years.  I haven’t actually visited the store for a number of years .. and I want to see if they have some small wheels.  So that my dh can make me a garden cart.  For my business.   To add to his List!!

I really really really wanted the cart that LV has .. however, the price tag is out of my league.   It’s a good product, but my dh can fabricate something for less than that.

I love the whole atmosphere of this bicycle heaven.   There is a lovely garden of potted vegetables and perennials.   A great compost system has been set up.   Entering the shop brings back memories.    Of helpful people.  Great service.  Sincere assistance and honest craftsmanship.

Bicycle art is everywhere.  Very creative bits and pieces from imaginative, useful functions.  As in the handrail, downstairs, formed of bike frames .. I took a photo, it’s kind of dark, and I’ll go back and take another one when I return to pick up my wheels.

There is an honest atmosphere to this shop.  It doesn’t have the bells and whistles of a commercial bike store .. full of the newest gimmicks and gadgets, spandex biking clothes, fancy shoes and helmets.

Every inch of the shop contains bicycle parts.   A large section of a wall has all the tools one would ever need to repair a bike .. there is an outline of the tool and everything has a name.  Any spare space on the walls and ceilings is covered with drawings, photos, articles.  Fun.http://recyclistas.ca/

The shop reminds me of the efficient, clean and highly organized Engine Rooms of the ferries.    And my respect for this shop takes a sharp rise as I compare the two.   And there is the same feeling of professionalism and devotion to the job.  Good work ethics.   I’m glad that this shop continues to exist.    And I was glad that I went there.

Finally .. home .. and my plans to organize my paperwork went out the window and I went outside to finish sorting out the gravel.   Light rains came and went.  I just threw my tarp over my little iPod & speakers & camera and continued sorting away.

Of course, I had to stop and look at the little Anna’s as they flitted about the feeder.   Always announcing their arrival with little chirps!   And, how sweet, the little Anna is taking bits of the cotton that I placed in the tree.  She uses her beak as tiny scissors, just taking little pieces of the cotton for her nest.   So, after she flies away,  I go over to the tree and break down the cotton even more … carefully pulling apart the fleecy material into wispy little pieces.  And I stuff some of the material into bark crevices.

I take a closer look at the cotton rope and see that the thin threads that formed a covering for the cottony filling has been daintily opened up, as she has been removing the fluffy material for her nest.  Such delicate work.

Thus far, she hasn’t chosen the tiny Mallard feathers that I’ve woven into the plastic netting that holds the suet.

Oh, and speaking of suet, I’m glad that I searched Dogpile for any recipes.   Several sites warned of the unpleasant smell of melting the suet in the house.  I’d purchased unrefined suet at the butchers.   And they noted that it is ok to hang this suet for the birds.   Thankfully, I just took some and put in a netted bag and hung on a tree branch.  I look forward to seeing if this was attractive to the birds!

Worked away for a few hours, then time to leave my work in progress and prepare supper.

Went back outside for a few minutes later on and noticed a 5 bird lineup at the berry & nut imbedded block of suet hanging from another branch.  There were about 5 sparrows pecking away at the square and there was a waitlist!

Little Jane E chose this moment to venture outside and suddenly, there was a quick flurry of feathers and all the birds left the tree.  They know a cat when they see one!   Smart birds.   And Jane E goes back inside.  No more chasing for her.   And I’m glad.

Well, it was another wonderful day.  And my homemade loaf of bread is getting easier to slice, and tastes delicious.  I plan to make another loaf!

And it’s time to get going on this one!

It has been a busy, productive day!  Did all my rounds of recycling .. then home … freedom to garden!

Brought about 20 gardening books outside to research landscaping ideas.   Also brought out my lovely cedar bench.  So … sitting on my bench, sipping a mug of Yorkshire tea .. I perused the pages.

Such a satisfying feeling to actually be seated on my bench in this area.   Just last year I was feeling so overwhelmed with the crazy overgrown blackberry/comfrey and gravel patch.   So many times I just wanted to quit.  But I persevered.  And now I feel so good!

I’ve been levelling out this patch of ground, using my Lee Valley Ho-Mi digger: http://www.leevalley.com/en/garden/page.aspx?cat=2,42578&p=40769

This jewel just rips through the soil!  And it helps that this particular soil is beautifully rich with well composted hay/seaweed etc.   So I sliced through the bumpy bits and then just used a rake to try and make the area a bit more balanced and flat.

I am intrigued with preparing an little berm against the back fence.   I can use the Rubbermaid containers of broken cement as a base and then top up with soil.  This will make room for my little mountain of mulch.

So wonderful to be outside in this warm sunshine.   The antics of the birds are hilarious.  The Anna’s are flitting here and there.   The Anna that is busy building the nest .. was quite choosy in the amount of cotton fibre to be used in the nest-building!  She made several deliberate attempts at choosing just the right amount of cotton and then flew away .. quickly bumped against the house, in her haste to get going!

Jane E came outside, eager to climb a tree, nibble at the grass.

I am so looking forward to the upcoming long, hot summer days!   Looking through my arsenal of gardening books, I noticed many interesting ideas which I look forward to trying out!

So much fun to use materials that are in the yard .. to create new forms for the yard.

What a great day this has been!


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Friday, March 25, 2011

I keep thinking about that little hummingbird that I saw yesterday afternoon.   Busily accumulating items to create her nest.   How I just happened to glance up and saw her tugging away at the cotton fibres of the rope that was tied on the tree branch.  Tenacity springs to mind.  She is busy, instinctively creating a structure for her little babies to be born.

And I think about my lovely sojourns in the nearby nature sanctuary.  A treasure place of beauty.  About how normal it is to just be quiet, to stand still and just observe what is happening and the lovely treasures that seem to just appear, one after the other.

Like yesterday .. when I stood still on the boardwalk, just watching a little bird sing away.   The ducks had settled down and were being peaceful to each other.  I had glanced upwards and saw the eagle, resting at the top of a fir-tree.  I’d noticed a pair of eagles there, several years ago .. and this must be part of the same couple.  If I’d simply fed the ducks and walked away, I wouldn’t have seen this sight.


Well … today is recycling day!!   And I’m going to pick up some suet, to make some bird feed blocks.

Plus, a list of things to do, which includes playing in the yard.  And checking on the progress of the hummingbird’s collection for her nest.  I’ll take some fluffy cotton stuffing from a vitamin bottle … to see if that interests her!

So, time to get going!



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