Posts Tagged ‘yorkshire tea’

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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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

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Tuesday .. that wonderful day which follows Monday .. was a mixed bag of weather.

By the time I set off on my trek to Orr’s Butchers (to fetch some Farmer Ben’s eggs) there was a slight sprinkling of rain.  And, since I’m not made of sugar and won’t melt in the rain .. I just simply started walking.

Just simply stepping onto the pathway leading into the Nature Sanctuary felt absolutely wonderful .. the perfect way to start the day.   Looking around at the emerging new growth of leaves and the richness of the mosses & lichens draping branches and trunks .. felt the magical touch that nature bestows on all living things.

Only a few people at the time I was walking .. so peaceful and quiet .. couldn’t see many birds .. and saw the little Anna, who likes to perch atop one of the tall, narrow trees along a pathway.

Noticed the emergence of the growth of the marsh grasses.  Spent stalks of last year gracefully folded back, the structural breakdown  to feed the soil already well begun.

Finally reached the little observatory . . a few Geese majestically sailed over, expecting food.  And a little Ms. Mallard flew up to the wooden decking, looking for flatted oats .. which are sitting in a bag at home.  Reminder to keep a supply in my purse, cause ya never know!

Continued on my way … to Orr’s to pick up a few dozen Farmer Brown’s eggs .. to the Mediterranean deli!  Here I picked up a Mizithra cheese, an assortment of feta, humus, olive tapenade (the humus & tapenade are made there!) Plus some beautiful baklava etc.

Now my shopping bag is very heavy and I ponder the wisdom of shopping while walking.  Well, I’m not a delicate little flower, so I hoist the bag onto my shoulder and trudge onwards.  Soon I’ll be home.

Decision time .. take the shorter, overland path or descend to the walkway down below?  As always, I choose the latter and soon am nearing the little observatory again.  This time there is a birding group, including a former work mate .. so we chat for a few minutes.  Then all is quiet, as the birders listen to an assortment of bird calls, identifying each one.  Oh .. my .. I simply must join a birding group for a walk, “one of these” days.  I always learn so much.

Then . .homeward bound .. where I reward myself with a mug of Yorkshire Tea, my spanakopita and one of those delicate baklavas!!

Yesterday was another great learning session at our gardening class.   This session was devoted to lawns .. the creation, maintenance, troubleshooting .. the whole spectrum.

As our instructor opened up the doors to this new world, I found myself gaining great respect for this plant.  I learned that lawn is actually composed of thousands of plants, now that was not something that I was aware of before.  Grass was just, well .. grass.  Oh, no, that is not so.

We learned of the varieties of grass and why such a mix of types are used and how best to determine that.   About the zone of elongation .. who knew?  Why thatch develops.  Natural lawns are a bit longer than conventional lawns and are so much healthier.

Why and when to mow and .. understanding the “why” “when” “nurturing” makes only sense, now that I am more aware.

And for years I’d heard of people planning their lawns, layering, adding sand, plugging, fertilizing, etc.  Creating an artificial environment which really is toxic.

Imagine, feeding the lawn with chemicals and then letting children and pets play on this surface.   All those materials are in contact with the things you love .. is that good?   And then visualizing innocent birds pecking away at the poisonous concoction and being part of the food chain, passing on the chemicals, on up through the various life forms.

We discussed the benefits of natural materials, again, just like the “soil food web” nurturing the soil with materials  like EM (effective microorganisms) Compost Tea (Dr. Elaine Ingham), rock dust, on and on.

I have much more to study, transcribe my notes …. to further understand all of the information that was given to us last night.

Ok, grass, I respect you and your tenacity.  You are not just a blade beneath my feet.  You are an entity unto yourself and I intend to treat you with the care that you deserve.  And besides, anyway, as much as I’d like to rid the yard of lawn, it’s here to stay and I’ll make the best of it by taking care of it the natural way.

So .. on with this day.

Oh, yes, yesterday’s weather!   I was typing away at the keyboard, happened to look up and saw .. what?   Snowflakes!

Ran outside and sure enough, there was a steady stream of tiny, then shortly, larger flakes of snow tumbling down!

Grabbed the camera and started taking pics .. I knew that all over Victoria, there were many people doing the same thing.  ha ha .. what do you do when you live in a place like this and have a camera, anyway!

Then the sun finally came out and transformed everything . .and that was a day!

Well, on with this day!

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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, March 3, 2012

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 Ah, Friday .. that was a rainy day, for sure!  I love rainy days!  Perfect for being lazy or busy or whatever.

What on earth did I do yesterday, anyway?  Well, I spent some time reading up on organic gardening, composting and that sort of thing.

Did some dreaded housework .. .the necessities, especially so when the cats outnumber the humans in the house!

Went outside for awhile … there was a light rain falling .. such a perfect time to wander around for awhile.  Enjoying the look of the rain spattered leaves of all the outdoor plants.  It would be great to have a tent set up outside … to use as a little refuge against the weather.  Pretend camping.

On days like Friday, during such a gentle rain, how fun it would be to set up a little tent with a  table (overturned Rubbermaid container) and a chair (one of the triangular shaped gardening stools).  Just relax, sip Yorkshire Tea, leaf through some gardening books.  Solve some Soduku puzzles.   Pretend to be on a safari or a campground or even Texada, by the airport!

Back inside the house, I found yet another pile of gardening books!  Plan to enter these on my excel spreadsheet … that thing is so very handy for references.  Good to know which books I have, so can avoid purchasing more duplicates .. something that I found out when I created this document! Discovered I had some duplicates .. not a big deal though, can leave one in the car and one on the shelves!

Anyway, Friday was the last day of the work week … a slide into the weekend.     And the end of the Monday to Friday Coronation Street shows.  Thank Goodness.

And … hallelujiah .. John is finally deceased .. end of that story line!   Now there are afew more to be got rid of .. .Kevin; Cheryl; Loyd; ad nauseum.

Anyway, Friday was a day!

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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

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So the week started out full of promise.  Some frost in the early morning .. noticed some flakes of snow on the mulch in the back yard.  Brrr.

Monday was a day totally spent in the yard.  Sheer bliss.   I’d been spending a fair bit of time at the kitchen table, little old Toshiba connected, going through the study materials of the gardening course I’m taking.  I’ve stayed there through some sunny days and thought to myself, well, it’s good to spend the time now so I’ll have the knowledge later.

But, my goodness, how much can a gardener take .. staying indoors all this time, anyway!  So, Monday was my decadent day .. to spend completely outside.   Except for some quick trips inside to make more Yorkshire Tea and a quick-lunch, Monday was devoted to outside things.

I had a mission .. to tidy up the yard so that my gardening class could freely move around the yard.  Thus I moved hundreds of cuttings & potted plants to one area, so nice and tidy, I impressed myself.  Then, time to address the mountain of leaf mulch.  I filled tarp after tarp load with the leafy stuff and dragged them over to the perimeter of the yard, nicely topping up the side gardens, being careful not to cover the emerging bulbs.

This time of the year is such a delight .. so many surprise flowers popping up, awakening from their winter sleep.  Perfuming the air with their scent and delighting the senses with their delicate beauty.

I accomplished quite a lot on Monday .. so on Tuesday, I decided to continue.  Morning was chilly and then the sun fought to come out.  Clouds 1.  Sun 0.   But, a lovely warm mug or two of Yorkshire Tea kept me warmed up.

Our backyard is actually quite large.  Now that I’ve moved the potted cuttings, reduced the size of the leaf mulch pile, removed part of the homemade bamboo/twig fence that encircled it,  bundled the support twigs that comprised the fencing .. the yard is looking quite spacious.

Normally I’m the only person playing out here, so I’ve allowed myself to have some lazy habits.  And now that I’ve been organizing the space, I’ve quite impressed myself with my activity.

Next I moved the loose rocks and boulders to encase some island beds.  Dug in some broken bricks in the back pathway, adding to the rustic charm of a relaxed garden.  Mended some loose boards in the fence.

Stood back, admiring my work from the past few days.  I can feel the lovely fresh energy that now emanates from my garden .. my real living space.

And although the work was for naught, as the location has now been changed for the pruning demonstration and will not take place at our yard .. I feel that all was not done in vain.  For, if not for the push of the upcoming Saturday’s pruning event, I would have dillied and dallied and wouldn’t have been so active.   Much like preparing for an upcoming visit of someone and plans changed at the last-minute.  The result is a tidy space.   And the feeling of pride and joy of discovering that my organizational skills are smoking hot!    Chalk one up for me .. I’ve proved to myself how hard I can work.  Had forgotten that skill .. so this was a good reminder.

Funny .. during the last few days, when I’ve been busy doing something or the other in the yard, suddenly I’d heard some sharp rap-tap-tap noises .. looked up and some (variably) a little Chickadee or Nuthatch.  Nicely settled on an acrylic sided bird feeder.  Noisily tapping away at the clear sides … the bird version of a slot machine.  Expecting the seeds to fall into the trough?  Or, trying to catch my attention?  Either way, I complied to their needs and put some sunflower seeds into the feeder.

The idea that wild birds can communicate to us mere humans was reinforced this winter.   The front Hummingbird feeder had frozen solid, so I took it inside, thawed it out, refilled it .. and placed it by the front door.  Then DH & I would look out the front window and observe the little Anna fly around, checking it out and then settle in for a feed.  After, of course, flying up to the window, flying horizontally and vertically, thoroughly checking us out.  She knew we were there and that I had “fixed” her food source.

One morning, looking out .. I saw that the feeder was again frozen.  This time, little Anna tried to get some nectar.  No joy.  she turned her little head in my direction, looked back at the feeder, then back at me, then back to the feeder.  She acknowledged that I was the “fixer” .. the nectar was frozen .. so  .. “fix it”!  Body language was clear.

So I did fix it … and soon she was happily feeding away.

Yesterday the winds were so wild that the backyard hummingbird feeder went crashing to the ground.  Finally, I picked it up, took it inside, cleaned & added some nectar and then hung it from a little branch at a side cedar tree.  I knew the backyard Anna would find it.   She’s smart.

Well, nature and all of the beauty have been inspiring me with a wonderful gardening energy and today I will return again to the garden.

A brand new lovely day ….

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Saturday, February 25, 2012

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Well … yesterday, Friday .. was a really rainy day!  I’d promised myself the gift of spending the whole day outdoors .. a reward for recent studying .. but the rain put a kibosh on that.

Ok, I’m not a wimp, I love the outdoors .. witness the many hours spent outside during the recent snowy period in January (but, we don’t want to go there, right?)

But, the type of work that I want to do involves shovelling mulch, moving it from A to B and then relocation the flats of cuttings from last fall.

So the heavy rain and the mucky yard spelled out “stay indoors” so I did that.  And was so thankful that I’d already had my long long walks earlier in the week,

Friday was spent at the kitchen table.   Reading chapters from our textbook for the Organic Master Gardening course … researching terminology … writing explanations on lined index cards.,

A few pots of Yorkshire Tea.

In between .. household chores .. dishes ..cleaning kitty litter boxes .. laundry .. sweeping .. all that exciting stuff that takes up time during the day.

And playing with kitties.  Our three cats are not kittens any longer .. but they are playful so I refer to them as kitties.

I watched out the kitchen window .. seeing the big fat globules of raindrops exploding on the top of the sundeck railing.  Bam .. smash .. quite pretty, actually.

And the variety of birds that came to the acrylic feeder that is attached to the window.  Because we have horizontal blinds at the window, they cannot see us .. so they just behave normally.  Sometimes we see some little beak skirmishes as they scramble for the sunflower seeds.   To be in the interior of the transparent container is a prized piece of real estate for these birds!

And DH has fastened a board beneath, to serve as a ledge so often we’ll look at the antics of the birds as they peck away at the seed.

The rain was quite relaxing.  I think that this is my most favourite place to be right now .. .my old Toshiba laptop plugged in, tuned to Firefox and Gaia College.

Books tumbling over the surface of the table.  Lined index cards in various piles as I look up new meanings.

I’m soon drawn into the world of gardening and all the beauty that this entails .. and I feel quite happy and relaxed.

A good place to be!

And so that was my Friday.   Followed later by … ta da .. spaghetti for supper!   With a glass (or 2??) of dry white!

Today was quite a different kind of day and I’ll share that tomorrow!

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Monday, January 22, 2011

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 It was up at at ’em early this morning .. before the sun had risen.  I find it’s such a productive day when I’m up and about early in the day.  Lots of time to relax, pot of Yorkshire Tea .. tend to the kittie-kats and then spent some time entering the details of my latest batch of gardening books into my data base.

A few hours later, called Mother Computers to see about the state of the computer .. turns out that all I need to do is to plug in the external hard drive and the hub into the back of the tower, these items will then power from the actual motherboard .. instead of at the front.  The result is that my computer now runs well, very well, actually.  And I don’t have to deal with purchasing a new computer.   This store is where I will purchase (eventually, when the $$ has been saved) my future computer.  The service is always excellent at this store.  The guys know their computers and treat all of us non computer-savvy people with patience and, shall I say, respect?  Very comfortable atmosphere.

Then, I decided to take some time to visit Swan Lake Sanctuary.   I needed a connection to some re-energizing  intensive nature therapy and of all the lovely natural places that  feed my soul .. this is the closest one.

I was feeling a little, um, un-energized.  Just before I’d left to pick up the computer tower, I’d gone for a look around the back yard .. to check on the status of the bird feeders.   Most of which were empty as a result of the whirling winds of yesterday.   And I was saddened to see that a number of fence boards had become detached at one area of the fence.   They were lying on the ground and there were gaping spaces into another yard.

Most of the fence is standing strong, it’s just in some areas where the boards have become loose .. the majority of the fence is in good shape.

And I felt such a loss of privacy, it really struck hard.  My garden is my haven.  So I went about the activity of propping up the boards as best as I could, to try and restore the sense of intimate solitude that normally exists in this space.  We’ll be replacing a number of the panels this spring .. and for now, simple repairs will need to be done.    I’ll get going on these interim repairs as soon as the weather stays sunny for a few hours.

So a sense of energizing positivity was in order.   Soon, I was walking along a pathway at Swan Lake.   As I went along, I became aware of the six foot high stand of marsh grasses that bordered the section of path.   It felt like a fence and so I started thinking about the significance’s of fences.

Over the years I’ve read about, and spoken with people about .. the importance of fences on their property.   That, and screening are topics of great interest to many people.

As I walked along the path, aware of the physical presence of this fence-like growth of grassy barrier, I felt a quiet energy emanating from it .. it seemed to add a layer of privacy to the creatures that live in the Sanctuary .. a buffer between them and the thousands of people who visit their natural living spaces.   Allowing them to live their daily lives away from the prying eyes of the public.  Space for them to build their homes, raise their young, defend their territory.  A space of dignity and privacy.

And to me, this embodies the physical presence of a fenced in yard.    Most of us do not have the luxury of large properties.  In the cities, we only have a yard.   And in this yard, we live our outdoor lives.   To garden, to create and enjoy a limited square footage of freedom from strangers eyes.   A haven for relaxation and a space to be alone with our bit of freedom.   Our own little renditions of  Swan Lake.

I breathed deeply … walking slowly … enjoying the solitude.  It wasn’t quite lunchtime yet and the noon joggers weren’t yet outside.   Cheerful chirps filled the air.  The silky whisper of the dry grasses mingled with the sounds of the little streams that rippled down the sloping fields were all like music to my ears.

Until, that is, I caught a glimpse of the white tail feathers of one of the local eagles.  Flared out and flying low.  So I sped up my pace and quickly reached a higher elevation with a better view.  Except, the bird had flown on.  Darn.  Reached the little observatory and gently tread on the wooden boards … a pair of  Mallards swam out from the edges of the shore and approached the walkway.  I brought out the bag of flatted oats and tossed them out onto the surface of the water.   Luckily there were no other ducks nearby, so they were able to feast quietly.

Stood at the end of the observatory … noticed some beer cans and bottles left by some highly (not) sophisticated nocturnal visitors.   I’d noticed that someone had plucked some debris already, from the lake and there was a tidy little pile waiting at the beginning of the boards.

Out in the middle of the lake, a group of Geese and mallards were attending to their daily ablutions.   Much flapping of wings against the water, raising up on tiptoe …. they were contentedly social.  And all of them were very vocal, chattering back and forth.

Looked at the side grasses .. thinking that the Marsh Wrens will be nesting in a few months.

Not much happening here .. so I retraced my steps and went for a little walkway down the trail .. and then .. back again .. time to go home and get going.   Stopped at a little side pond.   Looking at a little Mallard who was quietly feeding in the waters.

Hey up!  Caught some aerial movement, looked through the binoculars and saw the eagle, flying low and slow over the water … was able to get a quick pic as it flew away.   Happy that I had stopped to catch sight of this magnificent creature.  By this time of the day, there were a fair number of people jogging and walking .. couldn’t see any one stop and look up to the sky, though.    What they missed.

Feeling much better for having seen, heard .. and experienced such a bevy of positivity.   Reached the end of the path .. decided to stop and have a final look at the Sanctuary before I left.   Glad that I did.

Noticed an Anna, hovering beside the top of a tall tree, then quickly, it flew swiftly skyward … higher and higher to a certain point, and then dive bombing the air space down below .. resulting in that high pitched whistle .. the supersonic sound of its flight!  I’ve often heard this in the backyard, but could never pinpoint where it was happening.  How lucky that I felt to be witness to this, today.  He repeated the procedure a number of times and then flew away.  Leaving me marvelling again at the wondrous beauty of nature and humbly grateful at my good fortune to witness this without intruding.

I returned home in a very positive state of mind.  Ready to tackle mountains.  But really, I just finished putting away my books.

Anyway, I actually did a lot more than that .. but that’s enough for today.  A lovely day.



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Friday, December 2, 2011

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 Yesterday was a lovely sunny day, for the most part.  Up and at em, early in the morning.  Spent hours working away on a gigantic pan of lasagna.  I sort of follow the recipe guidelines and always have too much of everything.  Instead of making several mid size dishes, I always opt for the largest pan in the house.

Toiling away, making a mess .. once again feeling as if I am in a Lucille Ball episode, especially when it came to draining the lasagna strips and trying to place them neatly on a dish so I could layer them in the pan.

And mixing the cottage cheese with the free range eggs and the drained spinach .. hmmm .. ended up with a huge bowl of the mixture, so ended up with two layers of this instead of one.  Plus, two layers of the chicken/onion/garlic/salsa mixture.

Salsa was on sale, so the ingredients were the same as the tomato sauce .. so they worked out perfectly.  I used a roasted tomato/garlic along with a hot, spicy salsa verde mixture. Yum. Yum. Yum.

Finally, lasagna was in the oven and clean up began.  I was kind of impressed with my organizational skills as I soon transformed a messy counter-top & stove area into a clean tidied up place.  Yea.

At one point in the morning yesterday, I’d let Duncan outside to play.   Barefoot, I started to walk towards the stairway, to clap my hands loudly (announcing to the birds that he is outside) ..when suddenly my world turned Topsy turvy.  Suddenly I was sliding, my feet no longer made contact with the decking and I was just in mid-air and moving.  I swiftly flung out my hands and landed hard on my left palm and right knee.  Golly gee .. I had just slid on the icy surface and fell!  That was a real shocker.  I haven’t fallen since I was a kid.

Except for a slightly strained muscle in my hand, I was perfectly fine.  But my universe was momentarily shaken.  What could I do but make a fresh pot of Yorkshire Tea to calm my nerves.   And that worked!  Next time, I’ll wear shoes outside and will check the deck surface for  ice!  Hey, a mini skating rink, I could have practised, if I  had some skates.

I made myself “not” go to Michael’s yesterday .. it was quite a feat, but one which I accomplished.

Outside, to my happy place … sunny, bright and not too chilly.  Dug in a few more plants for the winter.  Used my newly acquired blue Rubbermaid gardening/garbage containers given to me by a friend.   They are so handy for placing garden trimmings in.  I’ve used these before .. but didn’t have any of my own.   And they match my treasure trove of blue Rubbermaid containers, so I’m feeling a little “lah dee dah” in my garden.  Should I start wearing a tiara now when I’m working in the garden?

Still looking for my store receipt, but no joy there.  sigh.  A lesson to pay attention to the till when buying sale items.

And that scarf that I’ve been working on .. I’ve cast off and cast on stitches again and again.  There won’t be many strands left at this rate. Still, I’ll struggle on.

We had the lasagna for supper, btw, and it was delicious and I know it will only taste better for leftovers.

Well, the sun is shining and I’m soon out the door for yet another lovely day.


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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

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Yesterday was such a brilliant day, from start to finish!  Looking out the window, all I could see was sun, sun, sun!  Reflected on the remaining leaves on the trees and painting everything with a golden patina of happiness.

I wanted to run right out there and continue on with my propagating work from the day before.. but first a little walk was in order.  Soon I was out the door, brr, the air was brisk, despite the sun.  Noticed the frozen water on the surface of the lid of the Rubbermaid container at the side of the house.  Container is full of Miracle Mulch, destined for a portion of a little perennial bed nearby.

Walking down the quiet roadway, I looked again at the inviting piles of oak and maple leaves,  neatly raked into lovely leafy mounds all along the sides of the road.  I steeled myself against running back home, gathering garden bags and scooping them up!  I really do have enough leaves.  The mulch pile in the back yard is quite heavily stomped down and is nearly 3 feet deep!  So I have a few good yards of leaf mulch.

Besides, any good daylight time at this point of the season will be better spent preparing my plants for a hard cold winter.

Traffic is light at this time of the morning and I couldn’t see many people out for a walk either.  I really do love this time of the year, everything seems so fresh.

Back home, I quickly change into my gardening gear and head outside.  Mug of Yorkshire Tea in hand.

Where to start???

I decided to create some temporary bedding areas for the plants that I’m propagating and plants that will remain potted up for the winter.   And soon I’ve positioned the landscape sections into an “L” shape and have spread a thick layer of leaves on the ground.   Next I position the potted plants into the vertical section of the “L” and cover up with another thick layer of leaves.  Nice and comfy against the cold.

I play around with one of the Styrofoam rooting units containing cuttings of Boxwood from last year.   I’d cut up portions of the long pine cones from our “First Christmas” tree in the front yard .. using them as plugs for the openings in the base of the unit.

When I started tugging on the first cutting, I was met with resistance .. so I poked and prodded gently and finally was able to remove the cutting.  OMG .. the root section was nearly 3″ and strong and healthy!   As I continued to removed the cuttings, my amazement grew.   There was such a variety of root formations.  Some of them were fibrous in nature, the shape varying as the roots grew and met obstacles.  Where this happened, they just went around the obstacles and continued growing!  Others were plain and straightforward, having met no impediment to their growth.

I was simply gobsmacked!   Only a few of the cuttings had not formed roots (or perhaps I had inadvertently tugged too hard and the roots became detached) the leaves were still glossy.  I’ll simply put them back in the cells for another round of growth.

These Styrofoam rooting cells are just amazing, I love them.

So, now it’s time to mix up some good planting soil .. so I gather up more of the cocoanut fibre, mixing it in well with the bags of soil & compost and soon have a nice barrow full ready to work with.  Next I gathered up a supply of little plant pots.   When I’d potted up about 6 of the boxwoods, I thought about the upcoming cold winter that has been predicted.

And I decide to put in a layer of leaves at the bottom of the pots, for protecting the delicate rooting systems.  So I empty these pots, quickly throw in a potpourri of leaves: Cherry, Oak, Plum .. so pretty!.   Then I carefully hold a cutting in place and gently toss in the soil mixture, tamping down the surface lightly.  Repeat, repeat, till finally I have 80 potted Boxwoods!  Oh boy, and there is still another tray to go, although it’s only 3/4 full I think!

Took a little time away from these duties to brew another pot of Yorkshire Tea ..lovely to sip on a mug of this most delicious brew and wander around the yard, stopping to watch the birds.  Notice that there is an increase in the sparrow population.  The word seems to have gotten out about the bird seed.  I see the little Red Breasted Nuthatch is flitting between the suet blocks and the bird seed .. I haven’t noticed him venturing near the thistle seed, though.  Maybe when I’m not looking?

The Downey Woodpecker visits .. nibbling from the suet and then goes to peck away at the wild and crazy tree.  Listen to the slightly nasal chirps of the Chestnut Backed Chickadees!  The White Crowned Sparrow seems to visit in the latter part of the afternoon.

Refilled the hummingbird feeders, one at the front of the house and another in the back.

Suddenly I heard the honking of Geese overhead … ah, there they are, way up high, flying in formation.  I quickly snap a few pics.  Knowing that they mate for life makes me admire these strong birds.  Although I would not want to be pecked by any one of them.   Ouch.  My Muscovy Duck, Huggers, had occasionally pecked at my arm, and that was painful enough!

Continuing with the potting up, I soon had all the cuttings happily nestled in pots with a thick insulation of leaves in the bottom.    And soon they were placed in trays snuggled into the horizontal part of the “L” winter resting beds, ensconced on a thick layer of leaves.  And of course, I arranged another thick layer of leaves over the tops of the pots!

Darkness is encroaching, it was time to clean up my work area.  And noticed, as I was raking up the leaves, that this area is starting to feel a little like a living room, with the pseudo walls formed by the landscaping ties.  Oh, my!  Is this good or bad?

I’m still not sure how I am going to shape this area for planting in the spring, but I know that I have a few good months to ponder and go through my landscaping books for ideas!

Looking around the yard, I see that there is much more to be done while the weather is nice.  Plants to be dug in.  Miracle Mulch to be spread around.  Raspberry canes to be divided.

And another bright idea .. I’ll put some garlic cloves into my rooting cells and I will have rooted garlic, ready to be planted in containers in the spring!  Perfect!

Well, it’s 8:30 am and time is a-wasting!  Time to go outside and work away.  Wind and rain is predicted for later this morning.  In my little world, rain means “inside” work .. and of that, there are quite a few things to choose from.

Must rush away now .. the skies look a bit cloudy . .oh no!  Maybe I’ll be sewing instead of planting!

On with my most wonderful new day now!


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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

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Yesterday and today .. we have been so totally blessed with warm sunny late morning and afternoons.

Yesterday I was just itching to go outside.   Just had to do some household chores and some basic shopping.  All I really wanted to do was go outside and play in the yard.

Lately I’ve been working on the reshaping of the veggie garden.   I tried different ideas, but nothing seemed to be fulfilling.    I like gardens that are free-flowing, no real straight lines.  Was trying to achieve a natural type of veggie garden, without the rectangles or squares.

I dug away, shifted soil, moved rocks, tried sections of boards, held in place with bronze coloured linked fencing.   Whatever I tried just didn’t feel right.  So I kept digging, shifting soil, moving board.  Making pot after pot of Yorkshire Tea.  Trying to use the rocks of the past summer (that I’d used to border the beds) .. but they didn’t feel right either.

Wandered around the yard.  Kept noticing the piles of bricks that I was going to use to create garden beds in another area.  Decided to see what these would look like as garden borders.

Spent untold number of hours yesterday afternoon .. sculpting away soil with my Lee Valley garden tools,  creating spaces for the bricks … attempting to keep a smooth flow of the bricks.  Hey, I’m liking the look of this .. so I scour the yard, gathering all the bricks that I can find .. and soon enough, I have lined the garden beds with these lovely rectangular shapes.  And I’m really liking the effects.

The rustic colours of the bricks fit in well with the texture and colour of the mulched leaves.   I’m really pleased with this new shape for the veggie bed!  And I’ll probably change it next year .. however .. for now, I’m happy.

Yesterday morning and early afternoon (before I started with the brick thing) .. I began preparing an entire bed for planting garlic!   I’d dig out a row, line with mulched leaves.  Place the garlic cloves pointy side up .. then on goes more mulch and some composted soil, topped with more of the beautiful garden soil.

Today I spent more hours finishing that project . .ending with the elephant garlic (about 40 cloves!) and at least 100 of the hardneck/soft neck variety.   This year, I’m planting the garlic in full sun with much more amended soil.   I’ll add seaweed or some kind of sea material in the spring.  And for sure, I’ll be cutting down the “scapes” in June ..  in order to have larger bulbs.  I’ve learned my lesson this year.    I spent so much time enjoying the beauty of the long green stems and resultant flower heads .. blissfully unaware that the energy that “should” have gone towards creating large bulbs .. was actually being diverted to the stems/flowers!

Yesterday .. I cut my gardening day short .. in order to prepare enough meals for 4 days.   Not only did I prepare the easy chicken main dish (slathered the chicken sections with spiced mayonnaise and then coated with Panko, placed on a parchment paper lined pan & then popped into the oven.

I also prepared a large container of lasagna.  Using freshly made pasta sheets, and a mixture of many veggies, beef, sauce and cheeses.  Figured a few hours spent cooking would save me gardening time during the week!  And so tomorrow and the night after .. we’ll have leftovers .. and, weather permitting, I’ll have more time to garden.

Have been noticing the tension between the wasps and the Anna’s .. the wasps are desperate and angry .. the Anna’s just want to feed at the h/bird feeder.

Saw the lovely little yellow bird .. two of them, actually.  They live in the Hawthorne tree, I swear.   Heard the Spotted Towhee, but missed seeing them.   The Chickadee’s are getting used to me .. as are the Junco’s and the Chickadees.

Went for a lovely walk this morning, over an hour .. a quick trip to beautiful Swan Lake.  Saw wrens, junco’s .. a few Mallards paddling away in some side streams.  Lots of bustling around in the bushes as I walked by.

Feels good to be going back there .. soon I’ll start my daily walks there.

Well .. it’s been a day.  Today, after I finished planting the garlic (I still have more to plant, around the yard, though!)   I started playing around with another area of the yard.  This will be my real play area.  Here is where I will put my fanciful garden items.  Stained glass.  Wood framed windows.  Washtub.  Old tin kettle.   Pond liner.

Started moving things around late this afternoon .. tomorrow (barring rain) .. I plan to continue.  I  can see some semi-circular designs already happening there.

Another lovely day …

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