Posts Tagged ‘Home’

Sunday, March 11, 2012

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 Well .. the rains fell on Friday.. steadily all day .. gave me some time to do some household things.  And some studying.  And reading.

I had picked up quite a few books at the Friends of the Library book sale a few months back.  Many wonderful garden books, weather books and of course, a “few” fiction books!

As I’ve been reading 2 or 3 at a time – it’s easy when the books are in different rooms!  Just takes a few seconds to get the characters in focus to continue with the storylines.  When I open a book .. the drapes are pulled aside and the cast of characters are on centre stage .. and the play continues!.

And one interesting thing that I’ve noted is the amount of similarities there are in each of the sets of books that I’ve been reading.  By different, well worded authors, by the way.

One book mentioned, straightaway about Yorkshire tea, and in particular Yorkshire Gold.  I’ve only seen that ever mentioned this one time.

Another series of similarities .. on and on, for example, both books will discuss a certain food type, then there will be similar job professions, on and on.  I know that there are a zillion differences in books, but I have never really noticed so many similarities before.  And I have read thousands of books in my lifetime and looking forward to reading thousands more.

I remember, years ago, clicking on the tv, catching the tail end of Yo Yo Mah’s conversation with someone ..  he was saying that we need to pay attention when seemingly coincidental things happen .. to “pay attention to the coincidences”.  So over the years I’ve developed a habit of doing that, but still don’t rightly understand the significance.

So, Saturday was our outdoors landscape class and it took place at Government House on Rockland Avenue.  I used to wander the grounds during my lunch breaks years ago and it’s been awhile since I last visited so I was really looking forward to being there again.

Our instructor showed us how to do a Brix reading using the refractometer, and we tested with some fruit.  The reading shows the level of sugar in fruit and vegetables .. for more info, here is a good site:  http://www.crossroads.ws/brixbook/BBook.htm

We then walked around the grounds, stopping at various gardening sites and discussed the virtues of each.  And also other ways to do things.  It was a very interesting session.

As we walked through the various areas, the herb garden, heather garden, saw some rocky gardening places.  There were some gloriously ancient oaks around and of course I took pics, I’ll post them tomorrow.

Along a pathway and I stopped there for a minute .. to look over at the propagating gardens and felt 30 years drop away.

I was once again back there, working away, talking with fellow volunteers, conversations about many things, and remember one about roofing companies.   Felt the warmth of the sun of one of those afternoons, the happy positive attitudes of everyone in the group.  An atmosphere of joy at being part of this first group of volunteers.

And I was wearing my first ever pair of gumboots, bought especially for this program.  They were a cheerful bright red colour.  And I still have them now .. they serve as planters in the garden.  Don’t plant on getting rid of them.  Good memories.

Funny how time works.   Good memories flashing up  .. watching them on internal film screens.  Always there to watch.

And great to be making new memories .. still about gardening.

Funny thing, when I started the Organic Master Gardening Course, I thought that this would give me good structure for my gardening knowledge.

Well, it’s done that and more!  It’s opened the door to my love of gardening and has raised it to a whole new level .. it’s changed my life.

And this has led me to another door, native plant gardening.  I went through that doorway last Wednesday, when I attended the Native Plant Gardening workshop at Swan Lake Nature Sanctuary.  It awoke my love for these plants.  And I’m remembering now that I have a number of books that I’ve purchased over the years.  Books that I guess I’ve been acquiring .. to prepare my self for this part of my life.

Some of these are:

  •  “Fleurs des landes et marais” (from Toulouse, a flea-market), how could I resist!.
  • Rocky Mountain Wild Flowers, , A.E. Porsild
  • Grow Wild, Native Plant Gardening in Canada, Lorraine Johnson
  • the Wild Garden, Violet Stevenson
  • Conifers & Heathers, Diane Jones,
  • Sagebrush Wildflowers, J.E. Underhill (when we visit the areas around Cache Creek, etc.
  • Roadside Wildflowers of the Northwest, J.E. Underhill;
  • Central Rockies Place names, Mike Potter
  • Wild Flower of Field & Slope, in the Pacific Northwest, Lewis Clark
  • Wild Flowers of the Arid Flatlands, Lewis Clark
  • Field Guide to the Ferns & their related families, Boughton Cobb
  • Fern Growers Manual, Barbara J. Hoshizaki
  • Making the best of Alpines, Alan Bloom
  • Golden, A Guide to Field Identification , Wildflowers of North America, Frank Venning
  • Audubon Society: Western Forests
  • The Encyclopedia of Edible Plants of North America, Francois Couplan

And I know there are more on my bookshelves.

I’ve already placed my name on a session next week, to volunteer to remove some invasive plants on a little street somewhere in Saanich.  And also, have volunteered our yard to be checked for pollinators in the summer.  Bees, butterflies .. it will be great to learn what to look for.  Last summer I saw, for the first time ever, a gigantic bee, about 2″ plus in size .. look forward to finding out more about that wild bee.

All in all .. this past year has been a busy one.  I’d started my little gardening business.  Took ground school, experienced some dual control flights with the most amazing flying instructor.  Began the transformation of our yard.  Met many marvellous and interesting people.  Went for many long walks, discovering areas in Saanich that are beautiful and natural.  Met up again with friends from long ago ..

And now I’m acknowledging and dusting off that long ago me .. the one who loved discovering new things, making new friends, having adventures, being curious, learning and loving the natural world.  She’s my best friend and I’ll enjoy letting her have free rein on my most wonderful life.


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Saturday, February 18, 2012

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  Friday was the end of the Monday to Friday work week.  A time frame that I’ve known all too well.  And one that, thankfully, remains in my past.

Friday was a rainy type of day.  Again, another day that I wanted to focus on my gardening learning .. and .. yet again .. another opportunity to stock up on items needed for the house.

So, after I attended to the morning household chores, I set out on my search for grocery items needed.   Succeeded on some sales (as noted on our weekly flyers).  Bought some needed gas (gas war currently going up and down!)

Visited a lovely garden centre and filled my car with flats of Irish Moss .. beautiful plants.

Home again .. and .. while I was moving the plants to the back yard .. I happened to glance up at the Hawthorne tree.   The one that is planted in our neighbour’s yard .. with lovely branches reaching over to our yard.

After my second trip of transporting flats of plants to the back yard … I decide to just stop and take some photos of the Hawthorne tree.

And .. what do I see .. but .. a Coopers Hawk .. perhaps the same hawk that I’d observed in the wild and crazy tree, in January!

I took some pics, stood there staring, more pics .. and then, he/she.. was ticked off .. and left the  branch, actually swooped down towards me (I ducked) and then the hawk swiftly flew around the house.  I ran to the backyard, but, no sightings.

So, I know now that I am not an ignored species on the ground and I will respectfully leave the hawk alone in the future.  Who knows .. he/she could really  achieve some harm with those claws.

Spent more time researching gardening information online.   And was able to prepare a dinner (not burnt, not too dry) for DH … so, it was a good day.

Friday .. a day to relax .. a marker for the end of the week.  And the entry way to the weekend.

Gotta love that, eh?





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Thursday, February 9, 2011

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Wednesday .. started out with a terrific list of things to do .. the first which was to seek out some kelp or seaweed.  So I headed out to Island View ….. many years ago I’d gathered this material from there … so I drove to the beach and set out for a look.

However, no joy in finding quantities of this lovely material.   I did enjoy walking along the beach … breathing in the fresh air and looking out to the water.  Suddenly I noticed something bobbing along in the water.  Was it a seal?  Kelp?  Nope .. it was the little face of a sea otter, one of a couple who were relaxing in the water.

Very curious they were too … twisting and turning in the water and always ending up staring shoreward .. in our direction.  I had a conversation with a dog-mom about the otters . . she had seen them for a few days and wondered if they had babies somewhere along the shore.  I don’t know anything about the life habits of otters, so was left wonder if what she guessed was true.

The rains started so I made for the car and left.   Along the way, I noticed a plant nursery, thought this was as good a time as any.   Parked, entered the office and stayed there for quite a length of time.   Enjoyed an interesting discussion on gardening practises, quite interesting.  Then another person entered the office and soon we were all talking as if we’d known each other for years.  It was quite an energizing experience and one I look forward to again as my gardening life unfolds.

Next step, I was able to visit a local farm that is only open for a set few hours during the week.   Again, I met with cheerful fellow customers and the farm owner.  What a fun day this is turning out to be.  I also learned some basics about nematodes.  As it turns out, farmland (and I don’t know at this point if this is just applicable on the island or not) is rated A, B or C for nematodes.  A is the highest, B is lower and C is none.  However, C’s are tested every two years.

Time to go so I head out to a garden supply centre, to seek out rock dust.   I’m told that they usually have the volcanic variety, but are currently out of stock for a few more weeks.  Wah.

What to do now .. well, why not swing out to the Esquimalt Lagoon to see if there is a supply of kelp & seaweed.   By this time, it is early afternoon and the “parking lot” highway movement hasn’t yet started, so I arrived at my destination in a very short time.

Parked and then started looking.  Again, no joy.  Spoke with a local couple about the scarcity of the kelp .. and learned that recent storms had brought many logs to shore and most likely drew back the kelp.  Besides, high tide was rapidly encroaching, so no point looking any further.  They gave me the names of more beaches to search .. so I’ll do that on another day.

Went walking on side of the roadway and suddenly there was a crowd of Geese, pigeons, a variety of ducks .. and a few Swans were looking interested .. and realized that again I hadn’t brought any flatted oats with me.  And these birds looked as if they were used to being well fed.  Oh, well, another day.

As I made my way home I realized that I hadn’t really accomplished a lot during my time away, but I certainly had a lot of fun and had laughed quite a bit.   Met a number of people.  Went to places I hadn’t formerly known about.  Quite a positive day.  Glad I decided to go out .. imagine, if I’d stayed home to study, none of this would have happened.

Besides, I did spend a few hours reading, searching, making notes.


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Monday, January 30, 2011

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So .. Sunday started out as an overcast, slightly rainy, chilly day .. so we headed out to Dakota Cafe for breakfast.   We were lucky enough to arrive there between the waves of crowds .. so we were able to enjoy a quiet breakfast and check out the “spot the 10 differences”  … argh … the 10th one is always the hardest.

Jen, aka “the circler” is really quick at these and is swift at finding out the differences.  Darn!  However, happily for once I was able to point out a tiny detail to her.  Victory is mine .. hee hee hee!

Outside to check on the plane .. the wing covers have soaked up quite a bit of rain .. so DH removed them and I gathered one of those wonderful Canadian Tire tarps .. the type with the heavy corded rope in the hemmed sides ..so we placed the folded wing covers in one and tightened up the cords and neat as a pin, DH carried the unit to the car .. later home and the covers are now drying out.  They need to be sprayed with scotchguard or something like that, to retain the water repellant properties.

Then it was time to go to Mother Computers and look at some suggested computers.  Our old computer was not repairable, the mother board was gone and it would have been just too problematic to repair it.  Time to march on into the future.

So we looked at a few and then decided on a computer that was built by the store, using good solid components.  They installed the hard drive (that I’d purchased last fall for my old computer) and now I have 2 internal hard drives.   Once I’ve transferred the material from hd #2 to hd#1 .. then I can erase #1 and that will be my extra storage area.

We went home and carried on with our day .. .the computer wouldn’t be ready for a few hours.

I studied my organic gardening material for a period of time.   oh, my goodness .. will all this information actually sift through to my consciousness?  I feel a little overwhelmed.  Then I calm down and I know that I can remember a large part of it.  Try to not  be so hard on myself.   Baby steps.  Little bricks in the building stage.  I will succeed!

Anyway, time passes ..and finally, it’s time to pick up the computer … we are so happy.  Take it home ..set it up .. and time to play.

Except .. I can’t find the “send” button .. where is it?  Frustrated, I give up.  Then, this morning .. I search around .. still getting used to the newness, the different way of doing things.  And I discover that I need to configure my e-mail.

I try doing just that.  Not successful.  So I contact Shaw Cable and am swiftly (within 10 minutes .. that is indeed swift!  I called at the right time!) am connected with a service rep, who calmly walks through the steps, remotes in .. .and solves my problem.

So now I have my Send button and all is right with the world.  For now, anyway.

Dh and I are happy with this new system.   Light years ahead of the old system, which was built (using cheap components as I’ve recently found out!) by another store.  We’ll stick with Mother Computers.  Cause, as we all know:  “mother knows best”  … ha ha ha


Seriously, though, it’s a pleasure to be able to pick photos & upload them to my WordPress blog in just a few minutes, compared to the painful time-consuming length of time that it took with the old computer.

Going forward is a good thing.!

Well, that’s it for tonight.  I wanted to share some information that I’ve been learning in my Organic Master Gardening Course, but … it’s late.  Perhaps tomorrow.


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Thursday, January 26, 2011

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 I actually saw sunshine this morning!   I was typing away in the kitchen, using my sloooooow Toshiba laptop (my desktop computer is still shutting off and on) .. and suddenly, clear as a bell .. (where did that phrase originate anyway?) .. I saw the dust on my keyboard!  Another good reason for cloudy days .. these things just aren’t seen!

I briefly toyed with the idea of running outside to enjoy the warmth of the sun’s rays, but decided to soldier on with inside duties.   I plan to spend a few hours again going over the material presented at my first OMG class on Tuesday.

Thoughts kept running through my mind as I thought about the widespread insidious use of pesticides in food.   Things like .. were the sunflowers and seeds that I feed to the backyard birds .. were they affected?   The lettuce that I buy at the supermarket .. the apples .. the bananas .. the almonds .. were pesticides used in these foods?

Rodale’s Organic Gardening magazine, many years ago, discussed the use of banned pesticides being shipped to foreign countries.  Is that still happening?

Now that I’ve started becoming more aware of this aspect of gardening .. I appreciate even more hearing good news about gardening.  The organic kind.  And I applaud all those people who work hard to produce foods that are grown in healthy soil, without the use of artificial products of any kind.

I laud allotment gardens, neighbourhood gardens, boulevard gardens.  All of these are steps towards educating people towards the good use of the earth.  Little pockets of green ….raising awareness.  Me included.

I’ve taken just one class in this course and already my horizons have expanded tremendously.  My awareness is heightened.   And I am so incredibly energized.

When we were kids, we were fortunate to visit relatives who farmed and raised beef cattle.   I remember the stack of farming articles that were piled on tables at our aunt & uncle’s dining table.  I used to leaf through them and try to read the articles.  At the time, the words seemed rather dry and stale.  And my uncle would smile when he noticed my interest in them.  I really made an effort to derive some understanding from the articles, but I just couldn’t.

And so this somehow became my understanding of the world of horticulture when I was young.   Dry, scholarly reports and talks on food.

It was only many years later, when DH & I purchased our first home and we had a yard, that I started to feel the draw of the earth and the joy of growing things.   Our first garden was hilarious, when I look back!  We’d encourage a long row of what turned out to be weeds!  I thought the plants looked rather pretty and kept watering them.   When I showed one to a neighbour, she promptly explained that it was a weed!  So … pulled them all up.

We’d tried growing potatoes … but I’d dug them up too soon and they were green!  Then there were the really long rows of carrots and other vegetables …. too many, growing in soil that wasn’t much more than clay.

Then came the years of adding kelp, seaweed, fish heads .. oh, that was a story.  I’d gone to a fishery place close to town and collected a large pail of fish heads, as I’d begun reading Organic Gardening magazines and was learning how to replenish the soil, and fish heads were one of the suggestions.

So I lugged the covered pail home .. it was raining .. so I placed the pail in the basement for “a few minutes”.  Well, weeks later, DH was sorting out the basement, saw the pail (guess I’d forgotten to tell him about that) .. he was curious, so took off the lid.  And promptly stepped back, gagging at the horrific stench.

Uh oh.

So I was prompted to quickly “get that stinky suff” out of the house!   Oopsie.   I grabbed the pail and a shovel and outside I went to the garden.

First I dug a trench and then, when I removed the lid and poured the decomposing fish heads into that .. I was suddenly surrounded by a number of screeching seagulls that had quickly appeared overhead.

Those birds were quickly attracted to the smell!   I hurriedly covered the fish with a thick layer of earth .. then filled the pail with soapy water, to try and remove the odoriferous scent.

Now and again, we’ll laugh about that .. but at the time I was highly embarrassed.

Anyway, flash forward to the present years .. and my gardening skills have improved tremendously.  And I’m so excited to be expanding my horizons with the colourful, informative, organic worlds of gardening that I’m entering.

Well .. .time to stop tapping these keys and get going with this most lovely of days.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2011

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Well … I have the first class of the organic master garden course under my belt .. but not totally in my mind yet.  Last night I learned that I was not as knowledgeable about gardening as I’d previously thought.

I’d travelled with the rest of the moving parking lot that is the Colwood Crawl at 5:30 (I wanted to be early to class) .. an accident had just happened at the 6 Mile Pub and I was fortunate enough to have missed that one.

Funny how last night, the first night of the class (because snow had cancelled the classes for last week) .. was dark and rainy .. exactly the same weather that I drove through for the Information session on the course, a mere 2 weeks ago.  Not being a great night driver, especially on such a dark and rainy night .. I wasn’t going to let the weather deter me from the class.  Except for the snow, but thank goodness that Royal Roads had cancelled them.

I had brought with me 3 treasures of garden books … A-Z latin names and a few others .. along with my binder and my water bottle.   Imagine my surprise when I parked my car, grabbed my bag from the passenger seat and saw that the seat was soaked!  What the hey ….. had a window been open?  I quickly reached into my bag and, oh boy, the stopper (which I swore was tightly closed) had become loose and there was water everywhere.

Luckily, there wasn’t much damage done and I paper blotted the moisture and finally took the books to a hand dryer and let the warm air evaporate the balance of the pages.  Now I have delicately rippled pages and I’ll try to iron them flat.


For the next 3 hours and 20 minutes …. the doors to new worlds opened to me and I gladly ventured forth.  We learned about the secret inner workings of plants, what makes them tick, how they work and all sorts of intimate details.

Over the years, I’d read about the damages that pesticides cause .. to the soil, the environment, animals, birds, insects, people.  But nothing prepared me for the in depth explanations that were spelled out last night.   And again, I was aware that there are big companies making big money out of chemicals, ensuring that “problems” were eradicated so that maximum growth would ensure huge fail-safe crops.

In the past I’d read articles of how chemicals killed the soil and how some farmers were taking care to bring back a natural balance to the soil, introducing a variety of insects, encouraging weeds to grow.

But, I’d never been aware before last night how far reaching the money and power people can cause laws to change, in a snap of the fingers, to allow GM products.   There was a sombre mood in the class as we each felt the significance of  pesticides on farmland and gardens.

Among the positive things, our instructor talked about permaculture  and here’s a site that explains it:  http://permacultureprinciples.com/ and there are many more.

In this course we will be learning so very much information and I am so fired up with all that I learned last night.  A terrific benefit of this course is that, as a student, we are able to logon to Gaia College, access their library and also connect to gardening forums.  I’ve visited one this morning and I’m in heaven.

Anyway, I have so very much work to do, to view again the videos and slideshows that were presented last night, make copious notes, read, read, read.    To go over and over the information that was given.  Read a chapter of our course book.  Read, read and read some more.

The College uses Firefox as the web browser for the online information.  I’ve downloaded it …. totally agree with what this program is all about!  My life is speeding ahead in a new stage of growth and I’m so very very energized!

Anyway, time to start studying and making notes.

I am enjoying this learning curve tremendously!


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Tuesday, January 23, 2011

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So .. yesterday I finished putting away my latest book acquisitions and found another bag that I’d missed!  Here were some treasures!  A few books on glass painting (how timely);  one on stonework and another on brickwork .. in the garden!   And I actually took the time to open them up and look through them.  Excited about the  many ideas now for this spring and summer!

And then today, I was taking little Youbou for his acupuncture treatment, and what did I find tucked away behind the front seat!   Another crafty one “How to Build with Bamboo” .. 19 projects.  Some easy crafts in that one.

The weather has been rather a mixed assortment today.  Already there has been rain, overcast skies!  Sunny skies, followed by overcast.  With a dash of wind thrown in.

Nevertheless .. I’ve gathered an assortment of wood and will shortly go outside to attempt some temporary repairs to our little fence .. the section with the loose and fallen boards.   Really looking forward to new panels replacing the older sections.

I’ve planted rather a large assortment of plants along all of the fence, trying to create a nice deep garden in some areas.   And there are a lot of bulbs intermixed with the perennials, so I’ll have to make some colourful markings so that they won’t be stepped on.

There are some cedars that I planted a few years ago .. .after hand digging a nice deep trench for them .. and placing them a few feet apart, so they will eventually grow into a solid green “fencing”.   When I look at these, I remember my travels, many many years ago .. I was invited to stay at a lady’s home for several days.   And I remember looking out the kitchen window, they had a beautiful tall, solid wall of green cedars totally encircling their yard.  They loved it and so did I.

Such privacy and greenness!  It took quite a few years for the trees to have grown so high and I know that ours will eventually grow and fill out.  I think that they will make a strong growth spurt this year.  And it will be time to trip a few inches off the top so that they will fill out more .. the growth will expand to the side branches.

The joy of gardening lies in the adventures of growing, propagating, and the energizing aspects of all plant life.  Even weeds have their place.  Which reminds me of a CityLine show from last week.  Three Greek sisters were cooking greens (which they highly recommend every day) .. and saying (true) that we don’t eat enough greens.  They even cooked dandelion greens .. ok, that I’ve heard of, but have not tried.  The greens that they cook were huge, they resembled lettuce heads, I swear!   And, no pesticides were used (Ontario) so they were safe to eat.

I must say the few times I’ve prepared greens – chopped & garlic, chopped, quickly cooked in a bit of oil, they were delicious.  Guess it’s time to start doing that again. Easy, quick and nutritious.

I found a good site on trees .. here is a most interesting site:  http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/2fZ9bg/listverse.com/2011/07/30/10-magnificent-living-trees/

Lately I’ve been paying more attention to trees, looking through my books, becoming more interested in the types available.   Reading about the incredible job they do in their growth cycle.   When I found the above extremely well written site and read the section 7 about the phenomenal root system from which grew 47,000 Quaking Aspen trees … this added fuel to my desire to learn more.

And .. learn more I shall … because tonight the Organic Master Gardening Course begins!  The snow had cancelled the first two .. so they are scheduled to start tonight.

Yippeeeeeeeeeeee ….more hours of gardening talk and learning, learning, learning.

Lovely, lovely .. lovely!


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