Sunday, August 28, 2011

Irene Ends Her Day Visit With Us

She came full of rain and wind...gray and gloomy all day long...

But she left in a much better mood...

Saturday, August 27, 2011

If The Walls Could Talk

Life in a log cabin in very early days was not easy . Winter was the hardest . Wind finding the holes made for cold nights sometimes , especially if the chinking failed.
That wind stimulated progress towards improving the cabin keep it as cozy in February as it was in December.

There is an on-going project at my brother's house with the original part of the home my parents purchased in 1969. It was built in the style of log houses of earlier times. Large white pines from the area immediately around were felled , squared and notched by hand before assembling a two story (story and a half) home for a new family in the wilds of Ontario circa 1850.

The logs over the 160 years had disappeared under the accumulated layers that tried to keep out the winter winds . When my brother decided to start from scratch and to insulate properly, we discovered that these walls did in fact talk of the times and history of every family who lived in it .

The first step in the process was to bring the walls back to the bare logs to fix the chinking. Down came the wallpaper Mum had put up in the 1980's which revealed the sparkly stucco paint I had put on parts in the 60's. Then off came the pressed-paper wallboard of the post second war period with its three layers of different coloured paint and wallpaper.
 One hundred years to go .
Under that was  tongue and groove cedar ( pre 1929 crash) with the three layers of paint on them to make the depression ( 1930's) brighter .

Mum's wallpaper
 At this point , the details of life for the family/generations who lived here cleared with each layer.

Mum's first wallpaper to cover canary
yellow paint

Three wallpapers preceded the cedar boards that finally gave the walls a smooth look that all the occupants from early decades had tried to achieve with no success . These papers had the backing as part of the wallpaper.

These three layers had a layer of brown backing paper applied to the walls prior to the new wallpaper.

When they were removed , the next layer showed that it was 1896 . Newspapers from Toronto , Montreal and and Cleveland ,Ohio were flour pasted up to support wallpaper that came in rolls of thin , fragile weight . News of The Boer War , pre World War I Europe and Sir Wilfred Laurier literally plastered the walls .

Abbott's Soda box

Pages from Women's periodicals

...and more layers of wallpaper...

 ...pages of children's exercise books written in quill and ink...

...and a piece of paper with the pencil work done by Marie Louise as she struggled to write her name...

...and Mrs. Lucy Morel had three items shipped out of Toronto by Eaton's Company...perhaps it was wallpaper !?

...and bits of cardboard boxes from Quaker oats ( no man on the box yet ) were nailed into place  using hand made nails ...over depressions and mouseholes to slow down the wind.

The pages of Woman's Home Companion , Volume 34 , March issue
Serial story. advertisement in a local paper for Quesnel & (Sons) in Mattawa

...burlap sacks silk screened with "Manitoba Winter Wheat" seed shipped up River from Pembroke... the new seed being tried out in the Selkirk Settlement...

...Over top of the first wallpaper that was applied directly to the logs , I found flimsy pages from Leviticus of the King James Version Bible pasted along the chinking lines doubt with the hope that God would keep the winter winds at bay . No other paper was used. How cold that first family must have felt to sacrifice the only book they had !

When the very first wallpaper was finally dampened and scraped off the logs , two pencilled records were scribed onto the fresh adze marks that showed white against smoke blackened wood . The one five feet from the floor showed a measurement of length and width , about the size of the window space . Renovations ! The other , about two feet off the floor , was the alphabet printed by a very small hand.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A Hunk of Rock

The teenager , when he was 5 in his rock collecting period , had rocks everywhere in the house . At 10 , I convinced him to place all these special rocks in the garden where they would enhance a flower or plant . They all made it out onto the ground from whence they came.

However , we both agreed that this specimen should remain since it was most fascinating of all .

Is it a prehistoric fish ? Puckered up and ready to kiss...

Perhaps a what-a-saur at rest high atop a stony nest...

Or a birdie in repose upon the petals of a rose...

Just maybe ,in fleeting thought,
It simply is a hunk of rock.

Why do you keep that special rock somewhere in your home ?

Monday, August 22, 2011

What's To Eat? Tweet Tweet !

I thought I would walk around the yard larder today to see how the supplies were holding out . There is definitely a smell of Fall on the wind now that the full August moon has passed . The feeding frenzy will go into full force as changes- big changes - approach .

There are lot of Star-nosed moles around by the myriad of holes and mounds on my 'lawn' . That's good . It means there are plenty of grubs in the ground to feed the skunks who visit at night . Although , the cat from next door will be after the moles until frost makes hunting difficult .

Wild Asters abound for butterflies.

 Plenty of fat juicy protein for the 'wrasseling' when those new robins are out in the heavy morning dew . That's good, too.

Creeper vines are ripening well. Check .

Not many berries left on the chokecherry trees . The bird have been busy . Especially those Cedar Wax wings and Robins. These bushes will be bare in a few days.

The dogwoods are developing nicely . Full of fruit this year. Check.

My grapevines are full and should be ready by the end of September . I hope I beat the birds to them. They don't particularly like to share with me . I shall persevere this year . Some of the supplies are mine . I live here , too.

The High Bush Cranberries are ripening . Next On the menu . I suppose birds don't have those taste buds that scream -SOUR!

Nanny Berries should be ready in a few weeks. Check.

Black Currant bushes are eaten clean . Darn! I missed them again. The early bird gets more than worms .

The cotoneasters are covered with red berries . It will be a battle between birds , chipmunks and mice this winter . Check.

The wild Junipers that I transplanted to my front yard twelve years ago are starting to fade. The environment around them has changed to one that they don't like . They prefer less lush conditions. Natural succession and selection thrives . I rescued these from a highway project back then and they have provided well . Some of these berries will be medicine in my house and the others in chipmunk holes near by . Mice will clean up what falls to the ground this winter and chew off the bark around the twisted trunks when things get tough in February . Next spring , I will be removing the last three of the original nine . Sad thing ! But I do have a derelict space of limestone and gravel in the northwest corner . Hm-mm!

A quick look in the hedgerows shows hawthorns full . Check.
Wild grapes waiting for frost. Check.
Buckthorn all personally planted by past generations of birds -everywhere- are very full this year. Check.

The walk back to the house scares up insects of all kinds into clouds around me. Check.
Flowers and grass have gone to seed. Check. (A good reason not to cut it regularly.)
The grass over the field bed , gray water pit and drainage trench is lush and green . The deer love this area in winter. They begin their foraging around my yard , scraping the snow away to get at fresh green unfrozen veg. Then they move on to the tips of all those berry trees. Then my apple trees. Check.

I guess I won't have to put out birdseed until well into December . Maybe January this year- a New Year feast , methinks!

There is plenty in the larder to last until then .

Saturday, August 20, 2011

What is Wilderness? - Parks Canada

It is interesting how people who spend time in the wilderness describe 'wilderness'. When you are a part of it , I believe  what you thought was wilderness changes as it becomes more familiar , and we become more skilled and comfortable being there . It is an ever changing state of mind . 

Friday, August 19, 2011

PHOTOS: Rare mammals captured by hidden cameras - Technology & Science - CBC News

PHOTOS: Rare mammals captured by hidden cameras - Technology & Science - CBC News

These hidden cameras in forests around the world are gathering valuable information about rare and rarely seen animals . The best thing about filming this way is that people do not have to be on the spot to film or influence the animals . Another good thing is that not so considerate humans also get caught in the act .

Banff National Park - Survival on the move

Thinking and planning ahead can make a huge difference when people head into wildlife territory.Thumbs up , Parks Canada .

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Ojibwa Prayer

There is nothing like a prayer to help you relate better to the world.

This Ojibwe Prayer was uploaded to youtube Apr.15,2008 by cdragon333.

The artist: Enya
The song: Ebudae

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

All Things Bright and Beautiful

A Harlequin Coastal Dragonfly - photo by Gill Denton

Head over to the Arkive Organization for wonderful photos and videos from Planet Earth .

Monday, August 15, 2011

Super Slow Motion Lightning Storm

Sometimes, we have to slow down and really look . Sometimes , it is slowed down so we can look. I love thunderstorms.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

I Have a Hairball

...and I need to cough it up . Nothing is so upsetting to me as 'domesticated' cats that roam free in natural settings . This is especially common in rural locations .

Cats are efficient hunters well equipped to reduce natural wildlife quickly . Birds, mice, moles, toads , frogs, snakes, chipmunks and some larger animals fall prey to claws , teeth , agility and ability. Home fed cats go out into the 'wild' , not to hunt for food , but to hunt to kill . They do not eat what they kill. I have found many a headless corpse around my home and I do not own a cat.

Some cats can become feral easily and eventually will not return to the food bowl. They will find their own food in forests and fields . These cats breed and build large populations in some areas virtually devastating the little animals that make up the diet of larger animals- coyotes, fox, wolves , hawks, eagles to name just a few. Soon enough a walk on forest trails shows the distinct absence of all types of animals from the smallest to the largest . The forest is a lonely place with out animals.

Domestic cats do not belong in this setting. When the food is gone , they too suffer starvation and illness that is pitiful to behold . In our area , fishers are abundant and keep the population of feral cats low. They shouldn't have to do this .This is not a natural condition. It is man-made .

Please neuter/spay your cats , feed them well , socialize with them regularly and keep them inside at night . Let them do the mousing job in the house ( if needed) not in the field and forest .

Monday, August 8, 2011

A Wild Year - Banff National Park

When Robins Fly

I have always felt that nothing occurs by itself . It is for that reason that whenever anything happens to/around me , good or bad , I stand and take a careful look . It keeps my perspective balanced . If memories are being made , and they always are , I want them to be as full as full can be . And as real as real can be .

As always , in preparation for the sun , the birds gather on trees and wires to face east just as the first hint of light appears on the horizon. How can one describe that moment? Symphony warm up? Cacophony? Racket? You have heard it . The excitement . "Get up ! Get ready ! The sun is coming ! " And I did join the gathering this morning when the first crow called the birds to assemble .

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Empty Nest

For the past week , I have watched the two baby/fledgling robins spend most of their time standing/sitting on the edge of the nest . Mom and Dad haven't been around for at least three days . I guess if you want to get those kids to leave home , stop feeding them . This morning on my daily check this is what I found.

When I noticed that no one was home ,I gingerly pushed my camera in among the branches and thorns to get a shot . While out there , I heard the tentative calls that sounded definitely-young-robins from the tall spruce a few metres away. That is the tree the parents had used to watch over the nest at a distance during the past two weeks . Flying school headquarters .

Darn it all ! I was hoping to see the first leap of faith as a fledgling flung itself to the winds . Not up early enough today . No worm for me .

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Baby Robins Watching Back

Gee , I wish I had a better camera...
...or a live camcorder...Nah ! A nest of robin's can't rationalize that type of expenditure...Sorry!

Hitch Hiker Extraordinaire

When I came out of the grocery store today , I found this sitting on the hood of the car.

" Oh, well ! It will blow off once the car is moving ."


This Katydid merely made adjustments and clung to her/his spot with determination in the face of major forces . Neither speed , wind nor inertia was able to move this little insect from its place .

rear view
 As our car accelerated the Katydid simply oriented itself to face the wind . When the speed increased , it placed its back legs fully out behind until the legs were almost straight. It bent the front legs until it crouch-touched its thorax to the hood. When we turned left , the Katydid moved its back right foot to the right a centimetre or so to counteract inertia . On right turns , it moved the left one .

Even when the car was going up to 90 kph (50-55 mph) , the Katydid clung to the car's hood navigating carefully the whole time . Mind you , the wind at high speed did shake her a bit but she prevailed . I figure 5-10 km faster would have lifted her free . Thank heaven the car was dirty and not freshly washed and waxed .

front view
 Well Katy did make it to my place and stayed just long enough for me to snap a couple of pics ,before she flew/hopped away . I expect to see her ... well her camouflage makes it difficult , so 'notice her presence' is more appropriate ... when large chunks of leaves start disappearing in my garden.

Actually I hope this insect hitch hiker is not a Katydid but a 'Kenny-did' . I don't think I want a plague in my garden .

Well , maybe the robins will find Katy/Kenny before I do .

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Robins in the Yard

We are lucky to live in a rural setting with about three acres of land . It was once a farmers corn field ,but over the past 12/13 years we have been reclaiming this little square of land using natural species plants ( shrubs and trees ).

Dogwood , willow , nannyberries , high bush cranberries , wild sugar plum , black currants , red currants , blueberries , red and black elderberries all are abundant . I planted them for birds to begin with. I have always worried about the birds not having enough. I rarely get to reap the fruits of that labour as the birds have the advantage of checking for ripeness more often than me .

What is fun , though , is when I do try to get the late spring fruit . Inevitably , the robins that nest in the yard will vie and dare me to pick in 'their' yard. As I bend to pick , one parent robin will first land close and call ; then it will hop closer and eyeball me carefully and finally it will fly right past my face to try and startle me away.

Since I know the challenge dance , I hold my ground and my bowl of berries and ignore the robin . In desperation and in the face of a very efficient picker (me) , the robin will land where I am working and try to take the berries before me .

In my strawberry patch , the robin has discovered that I don't pick the berries in which it has poked a hole . Now , I rarely find a hole-less strawberry...all having been sabotaged by nesting robins.

There are three nesting pairs in my yard this year , who have divided it into territorial zones for harvesting. My favorite nest is right outside my computer window.

One nest is about 2/3's the way up this tree.
 The photos were taken in March about two weeks after the first robins appeared in the yard . They were happy to use my bird feeder this spring.

I picked no berries this year so far.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Robin's Nest Update

You would not believe how quickly these babies are growing ! They have almost doubled in size in the past week . Their feathers are well developed and easily recognizable as robins with their dark heads.

They are alert to the world around them , sitting up tall in the now tight fitting nest .Like all children they are quiet and patient until Mother/Father comes back. Then the competition for attention begins .

Does that sound familiar?

BABIES - Official Trailer [HD]

I watched this movie and was fascinated and thoroughly entertained through the whole thing . The appeal of babies is international . Their development is much the same given the variety of conditions around the world. How can you not love babies?

Bravo to the director of this gem :Thomas Balmes