Archive for March, 2012

Friday, Sun, Rain .. and I bought the most beautiful umbrella, with lovely blue skies & puffy white clouds!.

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Saturday, March 31, 2012

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Friday … the end of the work week .. and another day of activity.  A real mix of weather, ranging from brilliant sunshine to pouring rain.

What to do .. what to do … what to do…

Shopping of course .. made a list, actually brought it with me and then left it in the car!  Groceries first .. went to a few supermarkets to take advantage of sales.  Found some good deals and soon the back of my car was loaded up.   Also purchased the most beautiful umbrella at the bank, proceeds go to Children’s Hospital.  It’s just the loveliest umbrella I’ve ever had. There are two coverings.  The outer (top) is black and the inner cover is a cheerful blue sky dotted with white puffy clouds.  How appropriate for one who loves the sky so much!   And I actually had the opportunity to use this in the afternoon when I went for a little walk!   I had my blue skies with me, even though it was pouring rain!

Decided to just make a “little” visit to Swan Lake Nature Sanctuary.  When I got there, the little parking lot was jammed full .. so decided to leave unless a spot happened to open up.  Just as I made this decision, I noticed someone preparing to get into their car and leave.  Hmmm.. what can I say?  So I waited a few minutes and then parked in the now vacant spot.

Pulled on my gumboots and started walking.   Sauntered along  the pathway to Tuesday Pond … went to the side area  .. which is now nicely covered in mulch .  This mulch looks just like the pine chippings that I scooped up a few days ago, from “free” in Used Victoria ads.     I’m getting to know my mulch.  And glad that I still have 6 large Rubbermaid containers full at home .. plan to use this on my back pathway.   Pine mulch is not good for gardens, but perfect for pathways.

Anyway .. onwards I went .. and saw no ducks at the side area .. so I retraced my steps, planning to take the shortcut to the little bridge which spans the Tuesday Pond area.  Oops .. there is a large Canada Goose along the shores .. so I decided to go the long way around.  The Geese  can be a bit territorial and I didn’t want any confrontations.

I walked along the pathway for a while, tempted to walk the full circuit around the Sanctuary, but decided on a shorter version, it’s too easy to spend hours and hours here and I have things to do at home.

Eventually I turned back and made my way to the main observatory.  Noticed many cleared areas, invasive plant growth removed, lots of sunshine now entering the cleared areas.  Lovely ..lots of volunteers have helped to open up these side wooded areas.

I could hear the calls of many birds, some of which I recognized.  The songs of the Red Wing Blackbirds, the males and the females.  The Marsh Wrens.  And many others.

Spoke with other people looking out for birds and feeding the ducks.  Saw the Cormorants were still settled on the wooden platform which is tethered to the shore.  Separate from the main walkway and inaccessible to the public, a safe haven for the birds.

Noticed a Great Blue Heron stalking prey for lunch, very stealthy.  Then, ta da, he swiftly gathered up a rodent, and just as swiftly, in one gulp, it was gone.   Nature at work.

Stopped and watched some Red Winged Blackbirds as they sang away.  These are quite beautiful birds and the females have the most beautiful songs to sing.

Finally I tear myself away and go to the Nature House to see if my place on the Native Plant workshop has changed .. I’m currently Number 3 on the wait list. Nope, unchanged.  And no phone calls as of this morning, so I didn’t make the cut.  Boo hoo .. that will teach me to procrastinate!  If I’d contacted them when I first saw the ad, I’d be there right now.  Oh, well, there will be other workshops, I know.

Homeward bound …noticed that the sunny morning skies have changed and now were overcast.  Groceries brought in and put away.  Time for tea!

Played around in my garden room.   Sorting seeds.  Found some packages that were either purchased by me or given to me as gifts.  Boxed herb seeds.  A package of Korean pine tree seeds, complete with compostable plant pot and saucer.   I followed the instructions given on the enclosed sheet and now the seeds are sitting in the moistened potting mix and awaiting germination.  If they sprout, then I’ll keep them in pots.    Perhaps I’ll plant them on our future property, but time will tell if they will indeed sprout.

Then, the herb package, sweet little clay pots, 4 labelled aluminum plant stakes and 4 envelopes of seeds.  I’ll put them in plant pots and see if they will germinate.  If they do, then I’ll have lots of basil, parsley, thyme and cilantro for the summer.  You just never know.

Finding (and using) these hidden treasures  gives me incentive to continue on with my clearing away the clutter in my garden room.

I also found time to look through some watercolour instruction books.  Looking for ideas that I can use to paint some white rectangular tiles.   I’ll take the painting ideas and use them on a variety of things for the garden.  It would be fun to paint some leftover boards and try to make signage for the garden.  Another fun project for a sunny day.

Went outside for a few minutes, in between the rainy showers and checked out the garlic, growing quite strongly now.   Looked up in the sky .. no eagles flying around.  Heard the rapid taps at the bird feeder as a little chickadee pecked away at the acrylic sides of the feeder – to remind me to add more sunflower seeds to the feeder!   Ha ha ha .. went inside to fetch the sunflower seed container and then added a cup full to the various feeders.    The birds only tap at this feeder when it’s empty, smart little guys, aren’t they?

Rains began, so inside I went.  And on with my day.


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Friday, March 30, 2012

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Thursday was a lovely, overcast day.  The rains fell often enough to dissuade me from digging away in the garden, but not enough to keep me away from there!

I must have slept through the windstorms of late Wednesday night .. .and I was surprised to see, yet again, the backyard hummingbird feeder lying on the ground.    I might have to change the location for the summertime, as currently I have the feeder hanging from the little Lee Valley archway, leading into the veggie garden area.

So I rinsed out the feeder, searched for .. and found .. the little yellow baskets that sit in the middle of each of the red “flowers”.  Went to the fridge and brought out the container of 3:1 sugar nectar.  Reassembled the feeder and hung it up again.

Back inside later, I  mixed  another mixture of 3:1 and placed several full containers in the fridge, once they had cooled down from the short cooking process, transforming the sugar/water mixture into a liquid nectar.  That’s it for the 3:1 and when this mix is gone, I’ll resort to the 4:1 for the summer.

Away to the front yard and, my goodness, that feeder was empty too!  So promptly refilled it.  Didn’t take too long for one of the little Anna’s to zero in and settle down on the tiny little perch and start sipping away.

I noticed the beauty of the raindrops on the outer surfaces of the dainty daffodil flowers.  Such grace and natural loveliness.  Pretty as a picture, I thought.

Then of course, I just had to wander around the yard.   Soft raindrops falling in a mist, gently painting a delicate cover of moisture on everything in the yard.  I was very glad that this was happening, since there were several plants that I had dug up a few days ago, still sitting on the soil, waiting to be planted.  They certainly will not dry out.

Looked up to the sky, no aerial shows to see.  The winged creatures must be elsewhere or perhaps they are taking cover from the rain?

So, decided to go inside and tackle a task that I’ve been avoiding.  Drum roll.  My little garden room has been neglected during the last few months.  And disorder had come to visit.  So, ended the procrastination and began moving things around. Trying so hard to be decisive about what leaves and what stays.

I moved my tools, all the paraphernalia, hammers, saws, nails, screws, screwdrivers, all that sort of thing onto the walled shelving unit.   A solidly built set of 3 shelves, installed by a previous owner.  Myself, I would have extended the shelves so that they would have spanned the entire wall, for better storage.  But these are solid enough, so they will stay, for now.  Unless DH decides to change things  .. he is so very creative about these sorts of things, he is quite amazing.

Turned the music up loud, brought out the broom and started sweeping.  It’s quite amazing, the amount of leaves and mud that I’ve been bringing in, via my boots .. but that’s the way it is when I’m gardening.

Decided to create more space taken up by my bunches of dried garlic bulbs, kept finding more bunches strung around the room.  Spent some time trimming the bottoms and clipping the bulbs from their papery  branches.  Found one bulb sprouting so took that outside for planting.  Ended up with a large basket full of the savoury things.

Even had some elephant garlic .. guess I’d dug them up too soon, because there were several that were just one round ball, the size of a golf ball.  Very delicate garlic scent also, not overpowering.


After a few tea breaks and time out to read some chapters of a good mystery .. I’m currently reading one by Marcia Muller “Dead Midnight” (she has the most amazing storylines and her characters are full of life!) and Lisa Jackson “Malice” (same …amazing author).

Sometimes, I just want to be totally decadent and just curl up on an afternoon and just read a book from cover to cover.  This was a habit when I was a teenager and then into my 20’s and 30’s and then I just seemed to have dropped the habit.  And all my time was filled with being “busy”.

Looking over to my fiction book unit I see that I have quite a few more books to read .. so that I can empty the shelves and then visit the next library book sale.   Once I read a book, it goes into a bag, to be given away free to those interested.  I’ve tried keeping track of the books I’ve read, but that project got away from me!  I’ll try to update my list, to avoid picking them up again.  But I must admit, in the frenzied atmosphere of the book sale, I just grab what I can.

Which reminds me of the most amazing luck I had at the last book sale .. for the first time I was able to select quite a number of books on weather, clouds etc. in addition to some fantastic gardening and birding books.  These are treasures and I look through them from time to time. They are the kinds of books to take along on a weekend away .. when I can spend hours looking through them, without feeling guilty about time spent.

The hours just flew by yesterday and soon I had finished organizing my room for the day.  DH was home and time for supper.

Today .. I plan to finish the organizing in my garden room.  And now there are some tough decisions to make.  Should I keep my beading and glass tile hobbies for now or get rid of them?  There are some lovely bright and colourful bobbles that I’ve been accumulating .. planning to make some garden art from them.  They’ve been just sitting there in their containers, not looked at, for a long time.

I think that I will most likely decide to get going and be creative.  Spend some decadent hours with my creative hat on and just assemble all my little treasures out on the table and play around.

I’ll post any pictures of my new artistic endeavours when they are done.  Just writing this out has helped me decide to keep my supplies for another year.  This will be the year that I’ll venture into that special little world of creativity. 🙂

Today looks to be another overcast day and for that I am glad.  Time to get going .. a little walk, fresh air, and then .. back to organizing.


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Thursday, March 29, 2012

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Wednesday .. was .. at times … sunny .. then cloudy .. some rain .. followed by sun.  A potpourri kind of day, weatherwise.

Spent some time outside, relocating some of the taller plants in the back of the yard.   I’m making a kind of little secret garden, of sorts.   Starting with tall perennials along the fence, with a little pathway in front of that.   Then I’ve moved the garden bed back a foot, and began the process of moving the taller bamboo plants closer to the edge of that.

Then I’m moving a line of raspberries in front of them.   There will then be a staggered height of plants, tall to medium and then shorter (garlic, herbs).   The tall plants will give protection to the lower plants.

My garden is in constant change and it’s easy to move them.  Except I had to tug away at the Buddleia, thought.  The roots are mainly fibrous, with one long tap root that extended farther than I wanted to dig, so I just cut the end of the root . . still have a two foot length left and these plants are tough as nails, anyway.

Why am I doing this?  Well, in a burst of creative thought a few days ago, I thought that if I could rearrange the veggie garden (part of it, anyway) then I could install my propagating area here.  In a nice and tidy fashion, that is.  And I find that these projects sort of take on a life of its own … I simply start the process and my inner artist takes over.   The results are always creative and I’m always surprised and impressed with the results.

And I’ve decided to install rustic fencing along parts of the garden, to visually break up some of the areas.  I’ll be re-using the branches and bamboo canes that I’d used to make a  holding area for my mountain of mulch leaves from last fall.  I have my eye on several very tall bamboo canes currently growing in one area of the yard, so luckily, I’m not lacking in fencing materials.

I like the look of the rustic fencing that was installed at the front of Swan Lake Nature Sanctuary, and when I’d last visited there on Tuesday, I looked at this fencing again and thought, perfect for the back yard!  So, thanks for the inspiration, Swan Lake!!

I was quite involved in digging away yesterday when the rains came .. I simply covered up my camera, binoculars, iPod and simply went on digging.   After all, what’s a little rain?  Then the sun came out and it felt like a warm summer day.

After what I’ve been learning in my gardening course, I’m not really happy about digging up and disturbing the soil .. saw the thin white strands of the mycorrhizal fungi in place, doing their part to help the roots of the plants.  And promised that I’d add some of the powdered M. fungi that I’d purchased from the Gardener’s Pantry.  I’ll soon have this soil healthy and vibrant  again.  Plus, liberal doses of EM!!

Took a break and read through some books on composting .. one mentions Bokashi, pallet & worm composting.  However, the “helpful” information listed is nowhere near as detailed as the information that I learned in the Organic Master Gardening Course (Gaia College, at Royal Roads University).  My gardening world has forever changed and I cannot go back to the way of thinking that I had before.

Funny, found a bag of plant fertilizer that I’d bought a few years back.   The cardboard box holding the plastic bag had long since disintegrated and all that is left is the bag and the contents of several cups of white and pale green “fertilizer”granules.  I shudder to think that I had used some of this on some plants.  Now I’ll have to dispose of this in “hazardous” materials.  Never, no more.

From now on, it’s EM, Compost Tea (Dr. Elaine R Ingham ), worm bins, mulch, grass cuttings, manure (organic preferably).    What a difference that course has made in my life.  And, luckily, I have access to the online videos and course material for a year.  It will take at least that for me to go through all of these invaluable resources.

Anyway .. on with this most wonderful day.  I think the rains have stopped .. can hear the birds singing away .. so out to my garden I go!   And if it is still raining, well, there’s no shortage of things to do inside.  Or maybe go for a walk.  Choices .. it’s a good thing!


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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

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So Tuesday was slightly overcast and I went for a little walk to Swan Lake .. only for 1 ½ hours !!  I just had to go and see the new structure by the Nature House, with the green roof.   It is just beautiful and planted with native grasses, plants and flowers.  I look forward to seeing the changes over the coming seasons, as the garden grows and grows.

Listened to the cries of the male Red Winged Blackbirds as they called out, marking their territory or calling to their mates?  Heard the songs of the Marsh Wrens.  The territorial honking of the Canada Geese.   Didn’t see many Mallards though .. perhaps they were all in the side marshes.

Saw one of the local eagles soaring .. nearby was a seagull, both seemed to be sailing along on the same air currents.  The eagle wasn’t hungry, so the gull was safe.  Later on .. I noticed some crows playing around with the eagle .. and the eagle just ignored them and flew farther afield.

Not many people out walking when I was there .. just a few joggers, birders out on the trails.

Talked to one of the Sanctuary employees about the markings on the Mallards .. turns out that each one does have a different look about them.  The older ducks have longer back feathers.  There are slight differences in eye markings and colouration.  The green billed Drake is a bit unusual and might be the result of some breeding with another type of duck.  So now I will start to pay attention to the differences.  I do note that some of the females have darker feather markings.

Lovely relaxing walk!

Then, back home, outside, busy reshaping the veggie garden .. an easy thing to do, since I use rocks and bricks as borders.   Room for change .. which is a great thing for the garden.

Still feel so terrible about the Scotts Miracle Gro birdseed .. and awaiting a response to the e-mail that I sent yesterday.  I’ll go to the supermarket to fetch more fat for the feeders.

Sat down for a while to leaf through my birding books, seeking recipes for our birds.  I have most of the supplies in the cupboard so will make some for the fall.  Right now there are plenty of insects for the birds to munch on .. and I still have sunflower seeds for them.

Felt wonderful to be outside.   I’m trying to decide where to place my many propagated plants.  Think that I might change the shape of the veggie garden and then re-arrange the plants in a nice tidy fashion.

The branches are starting to green up with new leafy growth and soon the yard will be nicely framed with greenery.  The Silver Lace Vine (aka “mile a  minute”) is living up to its name and there is new growth on the old woody stems and now is the time to train them to grow along the top of the fence.  They have a tendency to grow up the plum trees . .so I’ve caught them in time.

I’m trying to pot up the comfrey so that it won’t grow wild in the yard.  There is a type of comfrey that doesn’t spread, Bocking 14, a Russian cultivar .. so I’ll be looking out for this one.  The comfrey that is in our yard (all over the yard!!) originated from just a few plants that I obtained many, many years ago.   The bees love the flowers (which unfurl a few at a time) and the leaves are good for the compost, so it really is a good plant.  I just don’t want it growing all over, as they get to be quite large.

Replanted the two large currant plants .. there is a lot of new growth on these.  And still digging out raspberry canes to form a raspberry bed.   These canes originated from just a few canes given to me by a co-worker, many years ago.   And I’ve given away the volunteers for years and they keep on growing.  Good thing, as they produce massive amounts of berries!

This year I’m also training blackberries along the fence, nice and neat.  What tastes more delicious than ripe berries, warmed by the summer sun?  I’ve dug up tons of these berries from the yard and finally decided to keep some of them.  Why fight them, they will be a nice addition on the fence, no harm.

Well, the day is marching on and I’m eager to get outside.


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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

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We’ve been lucky with weather lately, and actually had 4 days of sunshine!  This all ended yesterday … and now we are back to overcast with some rain.

DH & I went flying over town on Friday .. and we could see this huge band of dark cloud formation, quite unusual.  It was as if someone with a gigantic paintbrush had simply painted a long swathe of cloud.  It stretched from Hope, BC over to us and then continued.

This was the forerunner to the weather changes leading to our current slightly rainy weather.

It was wonderful to be flying again .. up in the air so high, everything down below seems like a little toy world.

Then on Saturday, full sun!   Felt kind of lazy, garden wise .. it’s the same every year.  Impatient to be outside getting my hands in the soil .. and then .. sort of like wandering around, daydreaming as to what I’ll be doing here and there.

Brought out my EM, mixed some with water and added to some plantings.

A friend of mine will be travelling and I’ll be looking after her plants .. so while she is off exploring, her plants will be at “club med” relaxing in the sun.  They are all placed together so they can communicate with each other.  I’ve given them all a healthy watering of EM, so that feels quite good .. nice healthy microbial action to liven up the soil and give these plants a good diet.

Can you see the photos of the cedars with the sweaters?  She just happened to have 2 matching woolen sweaters (English, don’t you know!) and placed them over the burlap covered rootballs, so that there wouldn’t be any soil loss, while they were being moved.   And now the trees are in planters for the summer and coming seasons, till the time is right for them to be moved again.  They are safe here.

So then I had to mix up more EM and watered all the plants in this side area of the garden.

Then I had a nice surprise conversation with my gardening neighbour, M .. the lovely lady who constantly gives me perennials, and lettuce and other vegetables during the growing season.  She also gives me tips on propagating (roses, she always takes cuttings, puts them in soil filled containers, with a glass covering and slowly, they grow roots!!).

So on Saturday, I’m trying to explain the wonderful new things I’ve learned in my OMG course and when I said the word “mycorrhizal” .. her eyes lit up!   And when I showed her the blueberry cuttings in sand (they are sprouting leaves already) she noted that there is more air in the sand so that is a good growing medium.

Then, she tells me that she was a teacher in the Ukraine!  And she taught biology, chemistry and (I think) botany!  OMG .. what a treasure and she is my neighbour!!!  She is working on improving her English .. which is radically different from the sentence structure in Ukrainian.  I am so looking forward to learning more gardening knowledge from her, as her English improves.

The key word was “mycorrhizal” .. and I’m so glad that I worked hard to understand & remember the significance of this word.

Anyway .. after all this … DH comes home and it’s off to the airport we go!   A local flight .. and yee-haw .. it’s magic to be back in the air.

And on Sunday, we were up up up and away .. gone the whole day.  Spent lovely time at the flying club … time to tend the garden, I must go out there sometime with my clippers and strings to support the sweet peas .. still growing from last year!  And time to transplant a few of the bigger plants.  Always something to do.  And I think I will apply some EM to the plants there also.

Well .. time to get going on this day.  I’ve read in the  paper that there is now a “green roof” full of native plants at the Swan Lake Nature Sanctuary.  I’ve noticed the structure being built, was curious .. really look forward to seeing this green roof first hand.

So now I’ll try not to spend 3 hours on my walk there!  But it’s so hard when there are so many beautiful things to see!


p.s. I came across this article a few weeks ago .. about Miracle Gro birdseed, the company knowingly added pesticides to the birdseed… , despite the advise of their ornathologists – how many wild and domestic birds have been poisoned?  I’m going to contact the sources of the birdseed that I’ve been buying, to find out what they have to say about their products.  Scary.  Who would have thought that an innocent product like birdseed would be contaminated?


And I’ve just gone downstairs to check my bird feed supplies and what do I see but the name “Scotts” on the front of the package.  So I visited the website that is listed on label, and it is the Scotts Miracle Gro birdseed site.  Now I feel quite sick about having fed the wild birds this suet.  So I’ve e-mailed the store where I purchased the suet, asking that they discontinue selling  this product.  And I’ve just sent off an e-mail to the Scotts birdseed site.  www.scottswildbirdfood.ca berating them for knowingly adding the pesticides.

This is truly a “Buyer – Beware” situation.  From now on I’ll stick to the plain fat that I can get from the supermarket meat department.  Thrifty Foods is quite helpful in that respect.

As for the remaining unopened suet block that remains, well, I’ll be treating that like hazardous waste.

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Sunday, March 25, 2012

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Oh, argh .. argh .. argh ..I’ve been trying to write every day, to get in the disciplined habit of just writing .. but yesterday was a hurdle.

I’ve been practising adding my blog name to my pictures (thanks Claire!!) and so for each picture I would right-click, choose “Paint” then painstakingly learn the ins and outs about that.  As you can see in the photos, sometimes the font is small, sometimes the colour blends in with the background.  Sometimes it is on the left, then the centre, then the right .. oh, and along the top and middle also.   I tried to go back and change, via the text box, but that wasn’t proving to be too successful, so I just let things be as they were.  Laissez-faire, sort of thing.

Ok, this was sorted out.  So next, I went to my little Toshiba laptop on the kitchen table .. to proudly post my pics.

Well .. I’d add subtitles, go to the next one, add subtitle .. then, the laptop would freeze up and then I’d lose everything.  I lived through this 3 times.   And then I gave up.  sigh.  I’ve discovered that there is not enough energy for the laptop to operate with a) music and b) another website opened up.  So it’s either one or nothing.

And I had all these lovely pictures that I’d taken on Friday that I wanted to share.  So here they go, better late than never.

So, Friday morning starts out a little overcast, then some sun.  Time for a little walk to Swan Lake.   Another little 3 hour walk.

When I arrived there, midmorning, the birds must have been taking a siesta .. I could only hear some far off singing .. and no ducks at the smaller observatory.  Continuing along the long and winding pathway .. I heard the little chirping sounds of a hummingbird, so stopped to watch and listen.

What a lovely little sight .. I saw a little Anna hovering about the delicate moss (or maybe it was a spider web) at the base of a tree along the side of the path.  What a lovely moment of nature .. I watched, motionless, as she tugged away at some tiny material . .then she flew a few centimetres farther, and tug, tug, tug.  She repeated this a number of times then swiftly flew away to the upper branches of a nearby tree.

I decided to wait, no one else was running or walking along the route .. so I opened my camera and prepared to wait.  Several times more, she flew in, hovered around .. and then tugged away repeatedly for more materials to build her next.  Finally, she flew to sit on a branch of a nearby bush and just rested.  She wiped her delicate beak on the surface of the branch, perhaps to remove any sticky residue from the web or moss.

Oh, my this was such a wonderful moment time, such a gift .. to observe the delicate workings of nature in action.   And the timing . . if I hadn’t been there in that particular place at that particular moment in time, I would have missed this precious moment.  All in the tranquility and solitude of Swan Lake Sanctuary.

And that reminds me .. the hummingbird feeders in our yard are being fully utilized right now.  On Saturday, I’d just refilled the feeder for the front yard family and then stood back for some time to watch the activity.  It seemed as if there were about six of them taking turns at the feeder, flying around, but really it must have been four.   And the back yard Anna’s .. I usually only see three.  Ok, something else to learn .. how hummingbirds live and socialize.

So I continued on my way.  Over to the Galloping Goose.  Struck up a conversation with a lady and her dog, Tessa, a beautiful golden girl, very friendly dog.   I’d noticed them walking along the asphalt pathway and Tessa (as I learned her name later) kept looking back at me .. as if she wanted to say “hello”.    As I caught up to them, her doggy mom and I struck up a conversation and chatted of many things.  At the end of the trail, we introduced, shook hands and then went on with our day.    This is just an example of the lovely things that happen when you venture out into the world.  This wouldn’t have happened if I had decided to “not go for a walk”!.  🙂

Over to the Mediterranean store for some goodies, which included some lovely smoked cheddar .. yum, yum .. this is delicious.   And I need to go there again for more!

And now I’ll share with you a story about lasagna.

After I returned home (3 hours later!) from my little walk, I decided to make up a lasagna.   By this time, the weather was sunny, but I just wanted to get this done.

So I prepared all the food.  Chopped up the onions, garlic, added to the pan along with ground chicken.  All sizzling away.  Pot of water on to boil, added a combination of spinach and plain lasagna strips.  Opened up the bottle of hot salsa and added to the chicken mixture.   (I’ve been using this now for lasagna, so delicious.  Thawed out the frozen spinach and drained out the extra moisture.

Brought the food processor down from the top cupboard.  I’d bought this at Eaton’s (when it existed, alas, no more) so the machine is about 20 years old or so.   Grated the mozzarella.    Drained the cooked lasagna strips.

Then the fun began.

I thought that I’d just make a small lasagna, so brought out the 8 x 8 glass pan.  Put some salsa on the bottom, added 3 strips, spooned on a layer of the salsa/chicken mix.  Added some spinach.

Hmmm.  With this one layer, I’m already at the halfway level of the pan.  Perhaps I’ll try the larger pan, it’s not deep  .. that should work.

So, I put more salsa on the bottom, added some strips, scooped off the chicken mixture from the smaller pan, then began the layering again.

Hmm .. this doesn’t seem to be working, again I’m at the halfway level … so perhaps the larger, deeper pan will work.

By this time, I’ve run out of salsa, so opened up a tin of stewed tomatoes, blended the contents with the hand blender.  Spread some on the bottom of this, the largest, pan.  Again with the lasagna strips.  Scooping the chicken mixture et all from the last pan.

Well, I didn’t take any photos of this fiasco to share .. too embarrassing.  Finally, the lasagna was all nicely layered, and covered with sauce and cheese.  The final topping was the smoked cheddar .. a thin layer of delicious cheese on the top.

Cleaned up all the pots and pans, counter and floor.  Stove and sink.  Neatly covered up this most wonderful of lasagna’s and carefully placed in the fridge.

Escaped to the outside back yard where I played with this and that.  So happy to be outside.

Later, DH home and I put the lasagna in the oven .. and you know what!  This was the most delicious lasagna that I ever made!   We each had generous helpings and there was more than enough for supper last night and tonight.

A lot of work and I realize that I am not the type of person to create a small dish of food for supper.  I’m destined to make large servings of food.  I try to  make “just enough” for a meal .. but it just never seems to work out that way.

Oh well.

And tomorrow I’ll share some photos of our recent flying trips!!!


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Friday, March 22, 2012

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Busy, busy, busy .. the last few days have been busy ones for me.

Wednesday morning I was up way early, baking pies.  Sorry, no pics, they were so good, they are nearly gone.  I used the Tenderflake recipe which makes a light flaky crust.  Actually mixed up the pastry a few weeks ago, and froze some portions for future use.    Which turned out to be Wednesday.

I used the single crust method, rolling the pastry into a circle, prepared the filling and then folded the edges up, forming a plate sized open pie!   And the fillings!  I’d frozen apple slices and cherries from last summers’ crops and finally used them.

Still have some more of the above, plus plums, minced green tomato and tomatillos.  Oh, and lots of little jars of jam, applesauce, chutney also.

Then I spent many hours at the little Toshiba laptop at the kitchen table.  Began the arduous task of typing out my hastily scribbled notes taken during the intensive Organic Master Gardening Course, recently completed.   Originally I had the best intentions of doing this in an ongoing manner while the course was taking place .. however, um, I didn’t do that.  Was spending my time studying the course materials, online and from our study book.

As I was typing these pages,  I am time travelling back in time to the classes.   Every detail is clear and I am so glad that I took these notes.  The instructors gave us so much valuable information, sources to research, names to look up .. I’ve reached 9 pages of single line notes so far and scads to go before I’m done … I plan to just spend a few hours a day in this endeavour.    I take little breaks from the tapping of the keys to look up some of the information .. whole new worlds of beneficial natural gardening.

I’ve never ever taken this amount of time  and devoted it to studying and I find this quite satisfying.

Then, time to go outside and play.   I’ve been using DH’s camera a lot lately and discovered that it has the best motor drive for multiple pictures .. so I’ve been utilizing this drive when taking bird pictures.  And the result is so very many clear pictures, when I click from one to the next, it looks like a slow motion picture!

I see that Mr. Downy Woodpecker has taken a wife!  Very striking couple they are.  I’ve seen him in the yard for a few years, very distinguishable with his brilliant red colouring at the back of his head.  At first the female was shy and would fly away, but she is getting used to my presence in the yard, so I’m able to take photos of her.  She is equally striking with her plumage, and lacks the brilliant red, and she is also, I think, a little smaller than her mate.  Welcome additions to the yard!

I’ve been applying that wonderful seaweed/grasses/kelp carefully on the garlic bed .. making sure that the mixture doesn’t cover the garlic and just goes around them.  Mmmmmm .. interesting to see what a difference this mineral laden material will make to the size of the bulbs.   And I’ll be applying EM to them also, either early in the morning or late afternoon, when the weather is a bit cooler.

Finished emptying and then properly layering in the other 2 compost containers, so now all 3 are in better condition.   Layers of green (seaweed/kitchen scraps) and brown (hay/leaves/manure) & cardboard.  Lots of oxygen for the microbes.  Yesterday, remembered that I’d forgotten the glacial rock dust & EM .. so I sprinkled on a handful of the dust and watered each container with about 2 cups of EM liquid.

I’ve mixed up 2 Litres of the EM and they have both reached the final litmus stage of 3.5, so ready to use.  Today I’ll mix up a 2 L batch .. I’m going to spray all plant leaf surfaces in the yard, plus the soil and the lawn, so I’ll need lots of this precious liquid.

Here’s a link which explains what EM is and there is a video showing how to prepare it:


This might be kind of weird, but now that the compost containers are properly layered, there seems to be a different “feel” about them .. before,  these containers were just places where I threw the kitchen and garden wastes.   things “composted” but they were just dark containers that held materials that would simply break down.

But now, they feel like bright happy places, populated with busy worlds of microbes of all kinds, working away to break down the structure of the materials .. transforming it all to healthy compost.  Which I will use throughout the garden.  Sort of like that fairy story, where a princess (me??) wove straw into gold.  🙂

Gardeners are fanciful, aren’t we?

Yesterday, walking around the garlic bed, smelling the lovely tantalizing perfume of the seaweed mixture, I remembered the trek out to Sooke with my walking pal D .. the fun we had .. on that sunny trip.  She would explain the varieties of grasses and seaweed … it was a fun, learning trip.  And I plan to make another one .. cause, I only have 2 containers of this material left!!  It’s going fast.

I then spent some time digging out raspberry and red & black currant canes from around the fence .. I’m creating a berry bed in part of the yard and want them out in the sun more.  Besides, we’ll be replacing some fence panels soon and I don’t want them damaged!

I’ve been learning that ivy is not the best plant to have in the yard and horrors .. what it does in the wilds, suppresses the growth of native lilies.  But, I do think that ivy has its place.  It’s good for privacy.  I’ve seen a nifty inexpensive privacy screen at an outdoor  restaurant.  It was simply a framed lattice  section, anchored in a rectangular planter, with ivy growing rampantly up the lattice.  The unit was free-standing, not connected to a fence or wall, so the ivy was kept neatly trimmed.

So, then, yesterday, I was preparing to fill a few of the bird feeders.  The sun was shining .. and the yard was quite, the birds had disappeared.  Hmm .. wondered if the hawks and eagles were out there somewhere.  Suddenly I saw a seagull soaring lazily up in the sky, crying out in that loud seagull fashion .. so figure there weren’t any of the raptors out there . .otherwise the gull wouldn’t have been so brazen.

Focus brought back to the bird feeders, when I heard the raucous cries of some crows .. looked up and omg, there was the eagle!  Seagull clutched firmly with strong talons, flying low over our yard, just a few hundred feet above the wild and crazy tree.  I simply dropped everything and ran to the middle of the yard, just as the eagle flew overhead.  Wanted to take pics, but no time .. truly amazing.  I seem to remember that the crows were cheering on the eagle, at the time . .there was a little gaggle of bird activity in the sky, but I was focused solely on the eagle.

Had to stop for a few minutes and regain my gardening energy . . it was a bit tough for a few minutes though, having witnessed that surge of raw animal power.

This is Nature’s way .. the birds have to eat.  They don’t go to the supermarket.

So .. back to the garden.   Continuously looking sky-ward.  Saw some eagles chasing a regal raven … they soon tired of the play and the raven elegantly sailed away.

Wow .. so now here it is Friday and lots to do outside .. so that’s where I’m heading soon!


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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

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  Tuesday was quite the windy and rainy day.  The day started out ok, without any warning of what was to come.  I was actually thinking about going outside to tackle the remaining compost containers. 

But, things to do, places to go.  Bustled around, got ready to take little Youbou to the vet’s for his acupuncture treatment.  Yesterday’s session was short and sweet.  He only needed a few needle placements.  His right leg, which was once just lifeless, he dragged it around .. had progressed to the point where he was kicking like a bucking horse, it was so strong .. he did this when the vet attempted to place a needle at a specific point in his foot.  These needles are so very fine, he doesn’t feel them at all.

So now our next appointment isn’t for 6 weeks.  When he does have a relapse .. due to his feeling so good that he tends to run around quite a bit and he is limping a bit .. then I just massage his little back and leg and he’s much better.

We set off in the early morning .. sun was shining on our return home.

I was deciding where to start with the outside work.  But, during my second cup of Yorkshire Tea .. the rains commenced. 

The skies were grey .. the pounding rains kept up all day.  I heard that there was snow and hail .. but couldn’t see any here, by Swan Lake.

I actually like rainy days and love the feeling of being  in our nice warm home.  Pots of tea.  Kitty kats curled up, sleeping in their beds.

So, I started the arduous task of deciphering my hastily scribbled notes from the recent, intensive … Master Gardening Course (Gaia College, through Royal Roads).  What a life changer those classes were.

As I busily typed away, I was once again back there in the classroom, totally focused on the wealth of information that was being given to us.  I remembered the dark and rainy evenings, driving out to Langford.  I’m not a good night driver and the roads were very dark, it was a challenge to drive slowly on those nights.  But I wasn’t going to let a pouring rain stop me from attending those classes.

Names kept popping up, as references given throughout the course.  Names like  Forester & Environmentalist Ralph Zingaor –  who used a potassium-phosphite fertilizer (which has been around for decades)  to stall or reverse the symptoms of Sudden Oak Death (Phytophthora ramorum ) on trees in California.  And he was not allowed to use this fertilizer and had to have it labelled as a pesticide in order to use it!!  Does that make sense?  no.

Here’s another one: Phil Callahan – who was the first person ever to connect the insect’s antennae frequency to plant infrared spectrum… amongst many other important discoveries:   http://www.whale.to/b/callahan.htmlSo

So very much information to discover, it’s quite breathtaking.

I didn’t take pictures yesterday, there just wasn’t the opportunity, so I decided to post some pics taken a year ago.  When I wandered around Beacon Hill Park .. and some eagle pics from Swan Lake.

Went shopping .. picked up some ready-made spinach/ricotta cheese lasagna roll-ups .. quite tasty and I plan to make a large batch of these.   They look to be quite easy .. so I can then freeze them in meal size portions.

I got over my disappointment of not “meeting and greeting” the actor who plays “Ken” on Coronation Street.  That’s life and this is a new day.   But, having sat in the front row during the whole show and listening to his amusing anecdotes, DH & I enjoyed a few chuckles while watching yesterday’s show.

We viewed the little guy who plays “Simon” in a new light .. he truly is a little chatterbox and quite a smart little person in real life.  “Ken” noted that he is a brilliant little actor and we totally agree with that.  His facial mannerisms are spot on and he always has that mischievous glint in his eye.  A sweetie, for sure.

Well… the weather today looks promising, but I can see those little grey clouds here and there!

Time to get on with this most lovely new day, I say, I say, I say!  – to quote “Fred Elliott” .. a former character on CS.  He’d often repeat his words and that was fun.


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