Archive for May, 2011

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

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Well, that new sign at Swan Lake is right on.  Yesterday I’d meant to go over there for just a little walk … and that lasted about 2 hours!

I’d missed the early morning birders and there were only a few people walking the trails.  At the little observatory, could see and hear some Red Wings plus a warbler or two.

Walking along a trestle pathway, I saw a little Drake, quietly swimming in a pond.

Didn’t notice any Geese in the fields, they were well hidden.  Saw many well-walked trails through the field grasses .. showing where birders had traipsed.

At Tuesday Pond, I saw only a few Robins.   For the first time .. I saw 2 Robins having a little “altercation” …. the “winner” stayed around  and began grooming himself.

Finally reached the main observatory … couldn’t see any bird activity.  Just about to leave and looked up .. saw the eagle (female) comfortably perched atop a tree by the Nature House.  She showed a bit of interest when two pairs of Geese, squawking .. flew onto the pond.

Then a lone seagull flew by ..she looked, but wasn’t interested.  A few Red Wings flew by and appeared to momentarily sit on her back .. but maybe they just lightly tapped her .. hard to really see from where I was standing.

Continued on towards the long observatory .. noticed the eagle had moved position and was now sitting on a  lower tree, across the pond. Then a number of crows started dive-bombing her, so she just left.

The rest of my walk was uneventful.  Stopped several times to take some pics .. then I heard some movement in the long grass behind me.  Heard some snuffling sounds, thought it must be some kind of little mammal.  Curious.

Finally back home, then out on some time-consuming errands in the city.

So, errands done, time to gather up my gardening tools and I headed out to the front, to do some much-needed weeding and garden-type work.  Made some progress, weeding, digging, moving rocks around.

Glad with my progress .. so time for supper and spend time with my dh!

This morning ….. decided to continue on with my garden work .. so .. gathering all my tools, moving my amazing soil sifting stand (a very heavy steel frame on 4 legs ) and this morning I’ll start working on sifting soil.  Oh joy.

Perfect day to work outside .. slightly overcast, although I expect a sunny afternoon today .. just like yesterday.

OK .. on y va!!!!


Garbed for gardening, I brought my toys outside, set up a working tarp and began to dig out dandelions, some blackberries, comfrey and errant ivy.

Found more flat, large rocks that I’d used, many years ago, to create a path.  Now extremely overgrown and buried beneath roots …. I dug out these stones .. and will use them to finish the rock border in the front.

I find it to be so much fun to discover things in the yard, that I’ve used previously .. and totally forgotten about ..and re-purpose them somewhere else in the yard.

Over the past few months, I’ve been playing around in the back yard.  Turning the mulch pile.  Starting another planting border.  Planning where to move plants.  And I hadn’t spent much time in the front yard …. that would be an area I’d play with “sometime”.

So, it turns out that sometime is now.  And I’m finding myself getting enthused about working in this area.  I’d added mulched leaves and hay over the past few years and the soil is quite good.  That explains why the ivy, blackberries and bluebells have become so invasive.

And, speaking of bluebells .. I’ve resigned myself to accept the existence of these darned stubborn flowers.   Try as I might, I find that it is nearly impossible to eradicate these bulbs.  So I admit defeat, remove as much as possible and decide to just enjoy their springtime beauty.  That’s mature, right?

Tomorrow, I look forward to continuing on with this process!

Tonight, our Corrie group met for supper at Lakes .. as usual, we had a great time, talking, laughing, laughing, laughing!!

It’s been another great day!!!!


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Sunday, May 29, 2011

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Today was a beautiful sunny day.. it actually seemed like summer.

Dh finished the new sundeck stairs and they are beautiful … well constructed and they look wonderful!

So I busied myself with the garden.  Today was weeding day.  The dandelions are just huge, resembling cabbages, due to the lovely mulched soil .. and easy to remove.

The Mexican Orange is starting to bloom and sports fresh new leaves.  The garlic plants, especially the elephant garlic .. are growing quite well.  I look forward to July or August .. when I can dig them up!  Then I plan to split up the bulbets and plant them.  Or maybe not .. perhaps I’ll practise making garlic braids ..and then I’ll order more garlic for planting!

The Costmary plants are doing quite well.  Last year I propagated a few plants and placed them at various locations in the yard.  They have all grown quite well and I plan to split them up again.  These plants are lovely, the average height is around 3 feet.  The leaves are large, oval, the edges are serrated and the plants have a lovely minty fragrance.   Many years ago, these leaves were used as bookmarks .. and I don’t see why that practise cannot be continued today!

The Bay tree is growing quite well.  Now, this is one very tough plant.  It must be around 6 to 8 years old.  Originally, I’d purchased the small plant and planted it in the ground, near a fence, and it grew to be about 3 feet high.  A few years later .. I dug up the plant and then placed it in a very large, blue glazed pot. 

And left it there for a few more years.   Each time I moved the plant, it would fade a bit and then recover.  Finally, I removed the plant from the large pot and planted it, last year, in the back yard, by the fence at the end of the year.  And the height of this tree right now is over five feet. 

Now, this year, it seems to have settled in quite well and has started to flower.  This is a first.  I’m taking this as a sign that the tree is very happy and content to be there.  I intend to make some cuttings this year

Anyway .. today I moved progressively from one end of the yard to about halfway up one  side .. wasn’t making fast progress .. kept hearing songbirds and then spent time trying to see them!

Noticed again the wrens flying around.  Then went to check the level of nectar in the hummingbird feeder and simultaneously a little Anna came by to feed . … we surprised each other.

Finally .. the work on the stairway was completed .. DH says “let’s go flying” … so  ..  that is what we did!.

Flew over Victoria … over to Dallas Road.  The roads are quite empty now ..    a big difference from the weekend, what with the bike race and the sailboats of Swiftsure and the crowds .. it must have been just jam packed with people.  Quite festive.  And now, just a relaxing place to be.

Back to the airport .. this has been a lovely flight.   Plane is refuelled .. parked, tied down and all the closing touches are done.  I perform my co-pilot duties (the tie-downs, ensure blocks are correctly placed, etc.)

We sit outside at one of the blue picnic tables .. dh fills out his logbook . .I continue with my Sudoku puzzles.  Sitting in the sun.  Quiet time.

Then over to Mary’s Bleu Moon.  We are seated next to a table of young men from the airbase at Comox.  Powering up my camera .. I show them the picture of the big yellow Search and Rescue helicopter .. I’d taken just a short while ago.   Yes, that was them!  We chatted.   Spoke of a mutual acquaintance.. promises made to send our e-mail address to him so we could continue to keep in touch.

Brave young men.  Divers, mountain climbers.  Rapellers.   My heart goes out to them.  We shake hands and say “see you” …

Back home .. this has been another, especially-lovely day.





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Saturday, May 28, 2011

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The day starts out right .. a lazy day … Jane E wants her breakfast .. so she starts her circuit of hopping up on the bed.  Walks over me, making her tiny body as heavy as she possible can.  Purrs.   Jumps down to the floor.   Repeats about 20 times.  I lost count.

So I finally get up to prepare her little breakfast.  She really doesn’t demand much.   Some hugs, and brushing and some treats.   And her meals.   Served at specific times.  Especially supper.  Just before 5 pm, she starts positioning herself in front of the kitchen door.   Just sits there.   Staring up at me.  Doesn’t move.  So finally, I make my moves.  To the fridge or the cupboard, depending on whether there is an open can of cat food there.

Gather up a large soupspoon.   Place a little bit of food on her plate and then spread it as thinly onto the surface as possible.  We go through our routine.   Then the food is prepared properly and she starts to daintily eat her breakfast.

I return to the kitchen, where Jane E’s counterpart (in size and personality) ..little Youbou sits quietly waiting.  So I top up the dry and wet food dishes for him and his big brother, Duncan.  These little critters are so particular!  My dh says that, if someone was looking down from outer space, they’d be impressed with these little animals.  Living the life of Riley while we humans set out to work so we can house, feed and otherwise take care of the “royalty”!  Not far from the truth.

So we head out to Dakota Cafe for breakfast bennies.

Enroute, tires are a bit low, so we stop in at a gas station off the highway.   Notice there is a bike race going on.  While dh is attending to the tires, I wander over to the bike trail, and asked an onlooker what type of race this is?  Turns out it’s the 90km Ryder Hesjedal’s Tour De Victoria!

Looking at the focused faces and strong athletic form of the bicyclists, I feel a kind of energy coming from the groups that pass by on the path.  Some look up and I just give them a big smile of appreciation and encouragement.

Suddenly I hear the voice of a young woman, a volunteer standing at her station of the bike trail .. about 30 feet away.   She calls over to myself and the onlooker and beckons one of us over to her.  So I trot over, wait till there are no bikers on the trail and asked her what she wanted.

Turns out that she wanted me to pass a message on to another person farther down the path .. so I readily agree to pass it on.   Running on the damp grass, I wait till the volunteer has waved through another group of bikers and pass on the message.

And thus I feel a part of the group.   And this feels good!   So this has started me thinking about volunteering for the upcoming June 19 triathalon.   Lana Popham had sent an MLA update e-mail with details on volunteering.  I wasn’t thinking of doing that .. however, just this little tiny bit of action this morning has prompted me to change my mind.

I would love to be part of this energy .. so I’ll see if I can volunteer for the bicycle portion of the triathalon.   Nothing ventured .. etc.

Anyway, on to Dakota Cafe.  Not many parking spaces available at the Victoria Flying Club.  Turns out there is a SAR (Search & Rescue) seminar taking place.

We would have loved to have stayed to listen, but, dh is working on those back stairs and we have more wood to get .. and there are only so many hours available on a Saturday .. so after our delicious breakfast ( the bennies were delicious) we make ready to leave.

But not before dh discusses flying and flying and flying and flying with another pilot.   So I busy myself with doing … nothing!  I just wander around with my camera and binoculars.   Look at planes departing and arriving.   See JAZZ and Air Canada planes departing and wonder where the passengers are heading.  Some, I’m sure, are heading to warmer climates for fun in the sun.  Perhaps others have business appointments in another province.  Maybe someone is excitedly starting the first leg of a first time trip to Europe.

The pilot friend was telling us about a long-ago trip to the South of France.  A mecca for all types of wind powered aviation.   About the tents set up, enough to cover 3 or more football fields.   Pilots are welcome to try out new equipment.   It doesn’t matter if you don’t speak french.  But, hey, I can order food and talk about gardening so that would keep me happy!!!  Also, I do believe that the wine is delicious (Actually, I know that, for a fact!!)  🙂

And this occurs in September (which is when my birthday is!).  I’ll just drop a few hints here and there.   Maybe I can talk my dh into going there … that would be so much fun!!

Anyway, while walking around, looking up at the skies .. I notice a hawk gliding around.   Then some seagulls.   Then another hawk . .and I think there were Cooper’s hawks .. they hang around there a lot.

Tried to take some pictures .. and ended up with one that shows  little dark specks in the sky .. those are the 2 hawks!

Ok .. time to go shopping at the lumber store.   While dh was calculating wood needed to finish the stairs project, I wandered around.  At times looking up at the barn swallows as they swooped around the eaves of the tall warehouse and then gracefully out the door .. and then I started looking at the textures of various boards stocked up in rows.

Noticed some fir posts that were absolutely beautiful.   The tops were sanded to a smooth surface, corners were softly rounded.   What I found so beautiful was the natural artistic “paintings” that were exposed to the surface.   Two pieces of wood, opposite grains, were bonded together.  They just caught my eye, so I brought out my camera and started snapping pics.

A young worker asked if I needed assistance, and I said, no .. just admiring the beautiful designs and texture of the wood.  He nodded in agreement and said “that’s why the wood is so expensive” (the process to arrive a the finished result).

Then I started thinking about that.   About the process.   I thought, that is almost like “the joy is in the journey” .. which brings to mind my lovely mulch.  (Doesn’t everything segue to mulch or birds, anyway?)

Last fall, I was so disappointed that I wasn’t able to receive a truckload of chopped leaves from my local municipality.   Then I found out that there was a truckload of this beautiful material dropped off at a local park … so I filled my little car with those Rubbermaid containers (10) and made 4 trips .. loading up the containers with the lovely stuff.   There were a number of other gardeners there also, and we all made short work of the 10 yards that had been left for us to use.

But, really, this didn’t make a dint in what I needed for the yard.

So then I chanced upon a source for oak leaves and filled 60 bags.   In the process, I made new friends!   And I have yet another source for those lovely leaves!!!   This wouldn’t have happened if I’d received a truckload of the leaves ..  I wouldn’t have made the effort and I would have missed meeting some terrific people!!!

Then I bought a truckload of manure.  And 20 bales of hay.  All winter I’ve been turning this mixture .. and still continuing to do so.    And now I have the most beautiful mulch for the garden.

I guess that was a lot of work, but I wasn’t thinking of it as such.  My goal was to improve my garden soil.  That was my objective.   And the work wasn’t really work.  It was a means to an end.

Anyway,  wood paid for and assembled onto our vehicle and we finally made it back home.   Time for a mug of Yorkshire Tea and then .. outside .. or out for a walk?   Decisions, decisions!!!


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Friday, May 27, 2011

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Well, it seems that I’m still learning .. about life, about birds .. and about my laptop!

Yesterday I’d prepared a brief blog and spent a lot of time choosing photos that I’d taken yesterday .. to place in a slideshow.  I’d left my blog in draft format.

So this morning I was going to post it from my tower (desk) and it was nowhere to be found … spent some time looking for the draft, but .. nada.  sigh.

This afternoon I logged on to my laptop and voila, there it was.  I had thought that once the words were in WordPress, that I could access from either tower or laptop.  I was wrong.   Lesson learned.

I’ve been having some busy days lately… that involved certain time frames to be somewhere and some time frames at another location.  This has  led me to not be in the garden much.  That, and the weather!

However, no matter what my schedule was, I still managed to visit Swan Lake.   Guess that is a priority.

Yesterday I went to Tuesday Pond and saw a Canada Geese family with goslings nearly half as tall as their parents.  They had the same stately grace .. the lovely long necks.   Their feathers are now a soft grey.  And they are acting a little more independently of their parents.   Going into the pond for a little swim and then … back to their mom and dad.

There was a little Mallard mom with her little ducklings.  They were imitating her grooming habits and they learned pretty darned quick.  Grooming done, they all went for a little swim.   The Geese family also entered the pond and there was harmony all around.

I spoke to the Naturalist, who happened to be nearby.  Questioned if it was proper to feed the Geese at this time?  And found out that there is enough grass etc for them to graze on .. so, that’s a no.  And the ducks, really, can find their own food.

I still have a bag of the oats left to use and once that is done .. then no more feeding till next fall.

Walking on a trail .. happened to ask a passerby if he knew the bird that was singing nearby.  We walked over to a clearing where we again listened to the songs, picked out one and it turns out to be the Northern Warbler!

Turns out he’s been an avid birder since he was a teenager (many moons ago) and has kept daily records, details of birds seen and the events of the day.  He’s seen well over 450 birds, just in a few provinces!

And he explained that the Anna theory is correct .. they are crowding out the Rufus.  The Anna’s used to winter in Washington.  Then they started coming to Victoria and, liking this place, they have since settled in year round .. staking out their territory.   Fighting the Rufus h/birds that used to come here in the high numbers.  Now only a few Rufus make the effort to visit here.

And learned that, according to one passerby, we really shouldn’t be using h/bird feeders for the Anna’s.

Oh, my, I have much to learn.  Bit by bit.

So out to Dakota Cafe bright and early this morning.    Paying attention to the plants installed last Friday.  Clipping away yellowed and dead leaves.  Moving some Lavatera that are robbing lower growing thymes of the soil and the sunlight!  I have a few thousand seeds of that lovely flowering plant so I can afford to dig up a few.

The sunflowers are growing well.  Some of the snapdragons have overwintered quite strongly and are flowering already.   Some of the blue lupins are also flowering.   Saw a bright, shiny, new ladybug on one of the sweet marjoram plants.   Sweet.

Have planted a few Buddleia … for the butterflies!

The Vietnamese Coriander is gaining in growth .. I see more than 8 leaves now!  I’d thought it was a goner, but it’s growing quite well, despite the cool weather.

Then .. out to the car, with a generous portion of Dak’s amazing Won Ton soup!   I’ll have that for my lunch, as soon as I zip over to Swan Lake for a little walk.

Once there, I set out for Tuesday pond.   I see that folks have been busy, planting in the marshes.   And I see one family of Geese, tiny little babies in tow … making their way to the pond for a swim.  No ducks here this morning.

Not feeling much like a long walk, the residual throbbing of my recent root canal causes me to feel a tad unenergized!

However, that is soon dispelled when I stop to read an informational sign about Swan Lake.   The sign shows the length of the walk around the lake, listed in kms., the time taken for this walk is normally 45 minutes.

However, it notes, for Birders .. make that 2 hours … ha ha ha ha.. oh., my, not feeling unenergized now!  I took a photo and will post it later.

Ok, I leave the Sanctuary and decide to go looking for material to make plant signs and settle on a length of cedar lathe.  I’ll take that home and play around with some ideas I have.

Next, I remember that Office Depot is (sadly) closing and there is a big sale.  So I head over there and pick up some fun things, clear containers for my crafts, magnetic containers to use outside in my gardening area.  A book of craft tracing paper and a sketchbook.  A package of water colours to use outside,    And a few other odds and bits that will be quite useful in crafting.

I also bought a school, plastic flute, comes with instructions .. so for a few dollars, I have a new toy.

Finally, finally, home .. I make time to now partake of that ambrosia of Won Ton soup.   Yum.

Next, I gather all my gardening toys and  … yea world .. I am outside again in the garden!!!!

Another great day in the life!


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Thursday, May 26, 2011

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  Well, this has been quite a day. So many things to do.  I’m looking forward (?) to my dental apt this afternoon .. an end to the pain of a root canal.

So …on to Swan Lake .. and there I was lost. Looking for the goslings,the ducklings, etc.

Met a lot of interesting people ..learned a lot about birds.

Spent hours there.

Finally .. time to go shopping ..and once done, home and time to put groceries away.

Want to work in the garden .. but .. no time today.

It’s been a very busy day .. and time to relax and I look forward to another busy day tomorrow.



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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The last few days have been busy ones.   Yesterday was hot and sunny so I spent the entire day outside .. foregoing my usual walk to Swan Lake.  Such discipline!  I even prepared for a long walk, then figured out a timetable and realized that I would have gone for several hours, then back home, lunch .. and I wouldn’t have gone outside to the garden till about 2 pm.  So .. I changed my mind and instead went outside to the yard.   With a mug of Yorkshire Tea, of course!!!

I played around with the framed trellis  .. to obscure the compost area.

Toyed again with my patchwork cement pathway and flue tiles.   Positioned some bricks for another little path to the compost area.

Heaped a great amount of my treasured mulch mix into a border bed.  Kept eyeing the balance .. knowing that this would quickly be gone at the rate that I’m using it.   And feeling so glad that I’d worked so hard to gather all the materials contained in it.  Well worth the effort taken to gather and mix (and keep mixing) the materials.

So today, busy busy busy ..early in the morning,  car in for servicing and took advantage of the few hours wait to traipse over to Swan Lake.

On my way there, I saw only a few other people out walking so early in the day.   Saw a lovely trio of raised garden beds (photo) .. with raised hoops for protective covering.

Finally reach the Sanctuary .. oh, this is just so wonderful …. to be here.  I’ve not been here since last week and I’ve missed it so.

Only a few minutes into my walk .. I heard a squawking in the trees … looked up and saw a crow having “words” with another bird.

A few minutes later, both birds were flying in the sky above .. raising my binoculars, I see that a Coopers Hawk is flying after the crow.   The hawk is impressive, with his wing “flutters” and sleek flying.   The hawk chases after the crow…. out of my sight … I can hear the crow’s cries beyond the trees.  Standing there for about ten minutes, waiting to see the outcome … I see the two of them alighting in trees, flying off and then returning.

Curious … was the hawk after the crow’s nest?    Waited for a few more minutes …clock ticking …. I want to walk around the Lake before returning to the car dealership and then on to the dentist!

I find my way to the little observatory … no birds there .. and continue on to Tuesday Pond.

There I see a new (to me) family of Geese and goslings .. these are little babies.   The little family is smack dab in the middle of the path I was going to take .. so I stop and fling out a few handfuls of flatted oats for them to munch on.  Take some photos and proceed along another path.

Don’t see the Cinnamon Teal today .. wonder where they want.  Then I see a proud young Mallard mom with her little babies.   The little ones are busily grooming themselves, mimicking their mom .. using their little beaks to preen their little feathers.  Finally, grooming finished, they all cuddle beneath their mom’s wing .. safety and protection.  And I swear that this little mom has the most loving, satisfied look on her little face.   Love.

I reach the area by the large observatory … see a birding group there .. so I proceed along the path.

And there .. I see.. the largest camera lens I have ever seen in my life!   The freelance photographer has an assistant .. who is clicking away.   The lens is aimed towards the eagles resting place atop a tree near the nature house.  Some Red Wings are having fun with the eagles and are flying around it .. zapping the wings .. and getting some reaction from the eagle.  Mainly irritated wing flaps .. nothing more.

I’m sure that they obtained excellent photos with the 600 mm lens.

Proceeding along the way to the long walkway .. time is ticking .. see a pair of Mallards on the wooden decking .. so I spread some flatted oats out for them to munch on.

I begin the long walk to the car dealership … and kudos to them, everything has been done .. I can now proceed to the dentist for my root canal evaluation.

So I go there … and the preliminary evaluation is done.   Next appointment is Monday .. oh no … so much pain in my tooth, I feel so down that I’ll have to suffer till then.   But wait, good news, hours later .. there is an opening tomorrow.  Oh, joy.   Thank you!!!

Suddenly, the world feels better.

Next .. well, it’s rainy, so no gardening today.  However, today is Oprah’s last show .. and I fully intend to make a Moscow Mule to celebrate this .. and to watch the show live (I tape it also!).

So I mix up a M Mule and sip on this as the last show of Oprah’s unfolds.  Such an inspiring person, she is.  I’ve decided that I’ll keep this dvd.

Supper, tv, relax .. look forward to tomorrow!  Another visit to see the Geese and their goslings, the Mallards and their babies!

And, of course .. to the specialized dentist!  I’m so very lucky.


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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Yesterday was a very creative, productive one for me .. in the yard.  I’m really making progress and having fun all at the same time.

Funny how time does disappears when I start playing with the mulch.  I started off by just digging in some plants and discovered that I was beginning to create a mini-park!  This felt so good that I just continued on.

I wanted to move the 3 compost bins so I started by emptying the first one, relocating it .. then the second one and finally the third.  Amazing how quickly the contents have broken down.

So now the 3 bins are at the back of the yard .. and I’m going to install 3 framed lattice panels in front of them .. so that they will be hidden from sight.  Nice and tidy.

Next I gathered up a pile of bricks and played around with a little path to the bins .. and these will segue to the clay tile path and cement bits that I used to create a back path.

Then I moved the final bit of my precious mulch to one area.  And started installing some bamboo (non-invasive) plants and a few other medium height perennials along the front of the “new” path.   And I top this surface with a generous supply of mulch.

Next I interplant some lovely irises amongst these taller plants.   Hmmm … I’m really liking the feel of this layout.

Then I checked on my fence climbing plants … the hops, ivy, silver lace and female kiwi are all doing fine.

I see some privets that were planted last year have now reached the five foot mark .. remarkable, they were only about a foot tall when I planted them last year!

Oopss …. must go … back later!

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