My Life is really in the Garden

Enjoying and sharing the daily discoveries of the beautiful nature that surrounds me in my lovely garden and everywhere else!


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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Daily, the spirit is there to just blog away … but I resist and instead, go for walks.   Play outside.  Take photos of birds.  Things like that.  I think it is the time of the year .. the space between the festivities of Christmas and the waiting for the motivational energy of Spring to strike.  Or at least that is what I think.

I’ve come to discover that my daily walks are ever so energizing.   Such a part of my daily life that when I miss one .. I feel a little uninspired.   Noticed this yesterday .. when I became “too busy” to embark on a 3 mile walk and it was reinforced today .. when I walked well over 3 miles .. that I just love getting outside.   Travelling all over the neighbourhood.   Meeting birders at Swan Lake Nature Sanctuary.  Learning names of birds.   Like today, I found out that the very darling little olive-green and yellow bird (much smaller than the Bush-tits) was actually a Ruby-crowned Kinglet!!

I was having great difficulty taking a clear photo and have learned this common, as these little birds are constantly flitting about.  Just found this lively YouTube video .. great music accompanies this little darling at a window bird feeder:   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AYce1XbRlHk   This “SmellLikeDirt” site is very interesting and I’ll mark it as a favourite, for sure:  http://www.youtube.com/user/SmellLikeDirt?feature=watch  She shares great information and has many great videos!!

Here is darling little Goose dog!  DH & I met this little guy when we were out for a long walk a few days ago … how very sweet .. and in a loving family ..

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The Cormorants are still hanging around as a group, over by the long walkway at Swan Lake .. they are very elegant ..

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Now this very handsome bird is, I think, a sparrow .. I’ve been looking through books and websites for half an hour and just can’t determine.   Very shy, dainty songs …

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If you know the name of this lovely bird .. pls share with me …04

Very darling bird … 05

Oh, thank goodness for digital cameras, I can’t bear to think how much money all these photos would have cost in the “olden” days!

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And Mushrooms and mycorrhizal species will really save the world .. how wonderful to see this set up along one of the path ways!!!08

Townsend’s  Warbler .. yea .. still in the yard10

Such a treat to see ..11

Do you ever wonder if the “forces that be” are encouraging us along in our path?  Last night I was in my little (very  overcrowded) craft room.   Tossing away (in a container to donate for a reading program) books .. being as heartless as I could be.   Ended up with 3 containers full, not bad.

This .. to me .. is like trying to walk through molasses .. sorting out things.  I have been a sewing collector, crafts collector for many years.  If it sparkles .. I gravitate towards it and add to my collection.

Well. …. time to stop that and get rid of some things.  After my books (and I can still well get through many more, but, a step at a time. .. then I started on my sewing items.  Oh .. my … the things I found.  Many varieties of sewing needles, both for the serger(s), sewing machine and hand stitching.   What to do.  I started off by throwing them all in a glass container.  Step one.

I’m feeling as if I’m not making any progress at all .. .but I think back to several sessions of decluttering that I went through last year and know that, even though this is slow progress .. it won’t take long to get through.   What works best for me is going through one box or container, dealing with it .. leaving the room and then return.  Each time I go through this, I can really see the progress.

And I know that clutter holds us back.  What is more freeing that being in a neatly organized, tidy, spare .. room!  More space for creativity.  I can envision that.

Anyway, after I went through a second container, I found a small bag of money .. folding and coins!   I’d “momentarily” tucked the bag away in a box.   I think that this might be the universe’s way of rewarding me .. encouraging me .. to continue what I’m doing.

Who knows what other treasures I’ll find as I make my way through my collections?

🙂

 


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oh dear me ..I went to the Friends of the Library book sale!!! Plus I met another dog on my walk!

Monday, January 28, 2013

We were spoiled here and experienced a lovely sunny day … and since then it’s been overcast and rainy.   But …( applause here) .. I am continuing my walkies!  Meeting dogs .. here is Jenny:

22She is a very happy dog as you can see .. and was being lovingly brushed by her doggie dad.   He and his wife have had her in their family for 9 years!  She had all the unwanted traits for her breed:  long fur, a beard and too big!  They suspected that because of these “defects” (bah!) she wouldn’t have a long life with the breeder.  So they quickly adopted her from the breeder and they’ve been one happy family ever since.   After a little chat and a petting session, I left them behind and continued on my way.  Happier and feeling so glad that I’d taken that particular route at that particular time.

There are so very many “backyard” breeders who shouldn’t be breeding their dogs and cats … yet they continue.  And where do most of the ensuing generations of pets end up?  Not well.  The lucky ones are rescued by non-profit rescue groups and the SPCA.

Here is what the skies looked like when I met Jenny:

20And here is how my heart felt afterwards .. happy happy happy

12There was a mist nearly dissipated at Swan Lake ..but little remnants remained.   The Lake was calm and the skies were mirrored on the surface.

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On the way to Tuesday Pond … the mist had that dreamy, mysterious quality ..17

I felt almost as if I were entering a magical place .. and actually the Sanctuary is really like that.

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Homage to the old farm that was here .. I wonder what purpose was served by this fence?  To keep the dairy cattle in one area or perhaps there were other livestock as well.

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Little Mallards … here is the drake with the blue bill.  I did a bit of research and this is not uncommon, it seems, as they breed with other ducks.  However, this is the only one I have ever seen and he looks quite distinctive.

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So cute ….13

It was quite enjoyable to walk quietly along the path .. .so tranquil.  The birds were being quite quiet .. as the eagles were perched high above looking for lunch.

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The misty look had all but disappeared …

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Someone .. travelling .. somewhere …03

Back home, the Bush-tits were feasting away at the suet blocks.  This year there are many more of them.  I think the babies from last year are all grown up and staying here.  I’ve noticed that – instead of swirling in and out of the yard – they are actually perching high up in the wild and crazy tree and the other fruit trees,  and staying in the yard for long periods of time.    Our trees are quite tall and there must be nests tucked away.  Their nests are quite unique, they look like long grey stockings, with an entrance at the top and an exit at the bottom.   Such a lot of work for such tiny little birds.  02

Here is one little Bush-tit, perched high up in the plum-tree … the sun’s rays reflected on the tiny chest.

01I’ve been working a little bit in the yard.  Clipping up the long branches on the backyard trees .. lots to do in this respect.  Luckily I’ve invested in a professional extendable pruner w/saw that makes the job easier.

The garlic is growing very well.   And the blanched shoots that were growing beneath the top mulched layer (now removed) is growing nice and green.  Lots of work to do “tomorrow”!!!  Tomorrow is always wonderful .. I love the sound of that.

This is a funny time of the year.   It’s just the beginning of the year (although we’re nearly at the end of the month already) …and the lassitude of the winter is still hanging on.  So I feel that I “should” be outside getting things done.    But it’s not happening … however, I look around at what I’ve done and can clearly see that I’m not lazy so that’s encouraging.

I went to the Friends of the Library book sale … yesterday afternoon  was $10 for all you could carry.  And for once I wasn’t at the head of the line!  Nope.  This year I decided to just calm down and not worry if I didn’t get a parking spot.  They were all taken!  However, fingers crossed and I noted one car getting ready to leave .. so I was lucky there.

Carried some roomy shopping bags with me to carry any books I “might” choose.  “might” indeed.   I think that I made 3 trips to the car with full bags.   And gardening books, well I only chose a few that were quite different.  And several craft books.  Oh, you would have been proud of me .. I didn’t randomly throw books into my bags.  Au contraire!  I would open the books, leaf through them and then ..  if I so chose .. I would take them.

I thought that I’d shown restraint and was feeling rather smug about my book choices .. that I hadn’t collected as many as the last sale I’d attended.   That smugness changed into chagrin .. once I arrived home and started the process of transferring the bags of books from the car into the house.  Oh, dear me.  Lots of reading ahead.

Among my newest treasures was a small collection of books on aviation … which I handed over to DH.   These books were tucked away on the shelves and tables and I was really surprised that no one had taken them!

And, funnily enough . .I also found a book on Walking!  It included witty sayings and stories .. so I’ll have to flip open the cover and peruse this book tonight!

🙂


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I found a lost Staffordshire and then we had to go looking for his owner

Friday, January 25, 2013

A few days ago, on my daily walk … I was standing at the edge of the path, watching one of the resident eagles who was perched in a nearby Oak tree.    A guy came walking fast up towards me and asked if I’d seen a white dog.  A Staffordshire dog …named ..well, his name doesn’t matter.   I hadn’t seen him and promised that I would look for him.

I continued with my walk and met a group of birders .. asked if they had seen this dog. Sure enough, he had been following them and then he exited the Sanctuary (yes, at the Swan Lake Nature Sanctuary again!)    So I took the same path and began asking all that I met .. if they had seen the dog.  No … but .. looking ahead . .I could see this dog .. he’d just crossed a busy road and was walking along the wooden bridge.  So I started to run .. .yelling “stop that dog”.

And you know what!  A lovely young man did just exactly that!  I gave him my scarf and asked him to loop it under the dog’s collar .. which he did!  Scarves come in handy!

So now .. I’m feeling so happy that I’ve found the lost dog .. and start walking where I think the owner might be.

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After a few minutes of walking around .. I see the owner and yell out to him that I’d found his dog!    Whew … turns out the dog is a Houdini and is able to open windows and escapes to explore the neighbourhood.  The owner has paid high fines and says that I’ve just saved him hundreds of dollars.   Well .. I’m just glad that the two are together again.

So I said goodbye .. and continued on my way.  Certain to have burned off a few calories in this little adventure …bye little dog .. glad that all is right in your world now …

02Lovely blue skies from that day …

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So very alluring …. so very beautiful07

Walking towards Tuesday Pond, I encountered a small flock of Canada Geese … these birds get very defensive some times .. so I proceeded slowly…

 

 

 

 

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They moved .. just as slowly .. into a side marsh ..

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And soon these stately birds had exited .. whew … I was glad.10

Farther along .. I saw the reason for the Mallards to make their quick and noisy departure from the pond … there was a hawk high up in the tree ..

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These gray squirrels are not native to Vancouver Island .. they’ve usurped the black squirrels, however, I caught a glimpse of one last week ..

14More beautiful aerial scenery ..

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So relaxing to look at .. and cheerful ..04These wonderful walks are invigorating.  I just cannot imagine how my days would be without them.  I wouldn’t meet some very lovely dogs.   Have little adventures like finding a lost dog.  How wonderful is that.

And the places my lovely muddy walking shoes take me!  Along very long and winding streets.   Up and down hill.   Through lovely local parks.  To the Swan Lake Nature Sanctuary .. where there are lots of knowledgeable birders I can talk with and learn.

Such lovely quiet periods of time .. to stop, reflect on nature.  Have the opportunity to watch birds living in the wild.    As in this grouping of Double-Crested Cormorants .. relaxing on a float near the main walkway that spans Swan Lake.IMGP9442

So every day is different and every day the walks are long!  I think that I need to get up real early in order to have these wonderful walks and then have enough time left over to spend lots of time in the garden!

I’m still carefully removing the heavy mulched layer from the garlic beds.  Every day, more and more of the leafy growth is emerging.   Oh, I can hardly wait to dig up the large elephant garlic .. this is going to be the best crop yet.

And my lovely chopped oak leaf mulch is waiting to be used.  Along with the lovely batch of seaweed that D and I collected last week.  Marvelous magic for the garden.

Well .. end of the day .. time to close off .. it’s been a great week – all told!

🙂


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About the pleasures of walking, new routes. Lovely dogs met. And I now own a dandelion weeder, it’s great.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

I’ve been discovering such a variety of walks in my neighbourhood, makes for such a fun opportunity to strike out and get some exercise. Plus I keep on meeting some lovely dogs and see such a variety of birds.

I just love walking.  In the rain, in snow, under cloudy skies and on sunny days.   For 30 minutes, an hour, 2 hours .. all day!   And I try to keep up a brisk pace and only stop for short periods of time to watch birds or talk.

Ok, I don’t mean to say that “I” talk .. by myself .. well, that would be a little strange.

However I’ve noticed quite a number of people out in public, seemingly talking away on a hidden earpiece which is connected (I hope!) to some kind of new-fangled cell phone or whatever.   I wonder if people know how weird this looks .. out in public by themselves .. talking away .. looks a little strange.  I always try to steer away from these people.  They reveal so much about their personal lives .. not realizing that we can hear them … ick.

No .. I mean to say that when I’m out walking and stop and talk to doggy parents and their dogs.

Today I decided that I’ll vary my time walking .. so instead of leaving at a specific time for a specific route .. I’ll endeavor to add variety .. which is the spice of life.

Just a quick calculation on walking routes brought up at least 10 choices at least, from our front door.

From a to b or a to z .. which one I take will be up to me!  🙂

Yesterday, after just 10 minutes out . .. I met a lovely little dog named Miko (sp?):’04At first she was very very shy … and then … less and less so ..

01Till finally, I was kneeling on the sidewalk and she had jumped up, put her little paws on my arm and was giving me kisses!  Lovely darling little Miko.

Her new family had adopted her from the local SPCA, about a month ago .. what a wonderful Christmas gift she is.

Cloudy skies yesterday .. so I’ll slip in a photo from a few days ago just for fun.

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I was so excited about seeing Jupiter on Monday night!  I’d contacted the Dominion Observatory and received the information that on Tuesday, the Moon would then be on the left side of Jupiter .. so I was quite looking forward to seeing that.  Unfortunately, with the overcast skies that didn’t work out.   Here is a NASA site, click on the video to see more about Jupiter and other planets close to the moon in January (how exciting!):

http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/video/index.php?id=1178

Here s one of my latest greatest gardening gadgets.  I’d always wanted one and it was on sale at Lee Valley!!!   Bonus.  Plus, the instructions are printed on the handle.  How clever is this.

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Easy to operate, see how the grippers open up … you place these in the center of the dandelion which is happily growing in the lawn,  and then step on the lever

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This action causes the grippers to close tightly around the dandelion

22And all you do then is to lift the digger from the ground and see … dandelion plus the tap-root .. successfully removed!!   No chemicals needed.  No pouring of vinegar into the soil – which not only kills the weeds, but also upsets the balance of soil life and kills the worms that are so important in chewing through the soil

23See … complete dandelion removed.  And now . .. you can just lay the whole plant at the side of the garden, to let the plant dry out (and the goodness of the plant will be absorbed by the soil).  Then you can just add the dried plant to the compost pile.  No, it won’t re-grow.  It will break down into the lovely compost.  All natural.

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I was also very fortunate on another great gardening tool … a compost turner.  I was going to buy one and lucky to find that there was one in the sale bin, half price.  Oh, happy days.

Robust Robin, tucked away in the tree ..

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And later on, found this happy Robin … munching away on the apples that have fallen from the apple tree (wild root-stock, apples are not tasty at all .. but the birds don’t mind).

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Ms Downy Woodpecker is nibbling at one of the suet blocks … here she has a blob of suet on her beak … hmmm… I don’t think that she meant this to happen.

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Ms. Townsend’s Warbler patiently awaited her turn at the suet block.

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And the Anna’s took to their new hummingbird feeders right away.  This is part of a double feeder, which has the option of being used separately also.   Supposedly these feeders deter ants and hornets.  Well .. we shall see.07

Some snowdrops growing away .. luckily without the snow.

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Oh .. and my garlic crop has been growing away.  I’d tried to deter this by piling on more seaweed and chopped oak leaves .. but yesterday, decided that I can’t fight Mother Nature.  So I carefully lifted away the heavy top layer.  Some greens broke off, but I figure more might grow.  Anyway, just another example of how growth will continue, despite my efforts to deter it.  Thus, a lot of the greens are actually white and spindly, crooked from seeking the sunlight.  No worries.  After a few more days .. they will be strong and green.  Then it will be time for another photo session.

09While I was busy doing this work of removing the top composted layer .. I suddenly noticed some loud thumping noises coming from the back fence … in some bay and laurel bushes.  What the hey … it sounded like some animals having a fight but I couldn’t figure out more than that.

Suddenly a form flew out and landed on one of the big sturdy branches of my wild and crazy tree (the wild pear rootstock, now a huge tree).  It was a huge hawk.  Looked to be about 2 feet in height and only about 10 feet away.

I said a few expletives out of surprise and we just stared away at each other  I saw some orange colouring in the tail feathers and was admiring the charcoal and white variegated body feathers.  Then it swiftly and quietly flew away.  I couldn’t see anything in the beak so don’t know if the bird that was attacked got away.  A few minutes later I went over to the bushes, but could only find 2 tiny black and white feathers.  So, while I hoped that the hawk hadn’t caught one of the Downy Woodpeckers,  I couldn’t be sure that he had captured something.

Now this is something that must go on daily in the yard .. but to be actually outside while it was happening ….was pretty darn exciting.  True nature.

Then I spent time sorting out the stones that were caught up in the seaweed that D & I had gathered…. to use in a garden feature.  Tedious work sorting through the piles of seaweed over my soil sifter .. but well worth the effort.  Once I figure out what the garden feature will be like.  No worries though … the ideas will come when I’m working with the soil.  They always do.

🙂


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Beach walks, natural beauty, power of the waves and … I saw Jupiter last night!!

Tuesday,

January 22, 2013

One day last week, my pal D and I embarked on another adventurous day .. our list of activities included visiting some local thrift shops and then go to the beach to gather seaweed.  The skies were a little overcast in the morning and later broke out into beautiful blues and whites:

03Unique bus stop bench and planters .. how suitable for this lovely little town.

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As we began our walk along the pathway by the beach .. we saw some of the found items that had been lost by previous walkers.    Can you picture the scenario for the glove and toy?   Busy parent with active child and thus these things tumble and fall.   I hope the little phone toy is claimed .. looks like a favourite toy.

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The tides were starting to come in, the waves rolled in and crashed against the rocks.

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Splish .. splash … and jump out of the way!

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Later D noticed that this scenario looked Egyptian.   And sure enough ..see the camel in the foreground and the pyramids in the background:

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The tides follow their own rhythm .. can you imagine the immense power of the water .. causing the rolling waves to advance and recede.  Humbling.

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Beautiful ..  natural  … beach art …honest and true.10

Oh, Nature .. you are the best artist that there could ever be.   Nothing contrived or planned.   09

And again, the power of the water to shift these huge logs, tossing them randomly along the beach.  Creating places to sit and relax, enjoying the beauty of these surroundings.  Peaceful and yet invigorating.08

Such a vista .. no words needed to explain why so many people want to live there.  Unfortunately, forested areas have been cleared away to build huge box like buildings.  That is truly sad.07

D found this artistic display of stones .. dried seaweed roots that had grown on these rocks resulted in a lovely arrangement, created by another admirer of beauty.06

And just a few seconds later, a very splashy wave struck against a rock and deflected on D … she was slightly soaked and we both flew up the side of the rocky wall.  Didn’t know we could move so fast.05

Sigh …. 04

So we collected some lovely seaweed that was piled on the beach .. perfect time to gather this miracle material for the garden!

It was a day.  And .. another day I’ll share what I bought at the shops.  Lovely things for the house and great tools for the garden!

🙂

p.s. .. looked up in the sky early evening yesterday and noticed a round light coloured shape kind of near the moon.  This is the best photo I could take (sob).  I e-mailed the Dominion Observatory (just outside of town) and learned that this is Jupiter!   And that it will be seen tonight, but the moon won’t be as close.  Photographers with really good cameras will take much better photos … so I will search for some.  See .. it pays to look up at the sky!  I spent some time setting up our telescope (have you ever tried to look at something far away with one of these things? .. very challenging).

IMGP9328

 


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Blue skies! And I am so very lucky .. there is a beautiful female Townsend’s Warbler visiting our yard!!!!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Everyday I think .. that perhaps I’ll just sit down at the computer and type away.  And every day I don’t.  There seems to be a timeline that works best for me .. early morning ..and once that early time has passed .. the day just gets to be busy and so I procrastinate till later.

Weather has been fantastic.  Lots of sun which results in lots of birds flying around the yard.

Some photos of the lovely sky paintings recently:

 

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This series of formations were just awesome ..02

As you can see .. a lot of time spent, again, gazing upwards ..03

Little Bushtits .. many more this year.   The families are growing.  Note to self:  research these darling little birds and find out their territory and more details.  Very clever and cheerful little sprites, they are!04

They just seem to swirl into the yard.  I have 5 suet holders so there is lots for everyone.05

Little Chickadees visit the feeders and the suet blocks …alternating between both, for a more balanced diet.  And all of these little birds peck away at insects on the trees, on the house .. everywhere. They certainly earn their keep.  Plus they bring so much joy into my world.06

But .. look here .. this very striking bird started visiting our yard a few days ago.  Thus far I’ve only had the most tantalizing little glimpses.   Yesterday I stood motionless for at least half an hour, trying to take a picture!  A few days ago, I happened to be standing by a suet holder and this little bird flew to a branch just inches away.  I didn’t dare breathe .. just stood quietly so I could watch.08

Yesterday .. I was busy trimming branches and omg .. there she is!!!!!  Quickly whipped out the camera and so lucky to snap some photos!  I’ve learned that she is a female Townsend Warbler!   How exciting is this!  And they are only in a specific area …living in forests .. and here she is .. in our little mini-forest!!!09

Time to go outside and work with some of the seaweed that my pal D and I gathered a few days ago.   Another great day and I’ll share that tomorrow.

For now, though … .here is lovely Val … we met her at Sooke and she posed for a photo.  What a darling kind dog she is!!Val DogSo, time to make a mug of tea, change into my gardening costume and head outdoors!

🙂

 


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About an eagle looking down at me; icy pathways; Mallards being delightful .. and bicycle eating trees!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Chilly days, some frost happening, sometimes blue skies … and still I continue my lovely daily walks.  Many years ago I used to walk and walk everywhere .. for I hadn’t a car!  Fast forward and I’m back to daily walks again.  And loving it.

So many places to go.   Things look so different compared to driving, I’m discovering streets and neighbourhoods that I hadn’t known existed.  And learning names of streets.

Decided that I’ll strive to continue my daily walks to the Swan Lake Sanctuary .. there are a variety of entrances/exits that I can take that will add variety to my walks so they don’t ever get to feel boring.

So yesterday at Swan there were still flooded paths, frozen sections.   Signage up to show everyone how to take alternate routes.

Found myself near a huge old oak with the female eagle perched atop.  Looking for lunch.  Looking down at a nearby duck-filled marsh.

Decided to walk across the grassy meadow in order to get a closer look.

03and so I decided to get a closer look

02What the hey … perhaps I can get closer yet .. ok .. I think this is close enough.  She is giving me the “eye” and I read body language enough to understand that she doesn’t like me standing beneath the tree .. so close.  Bye bye ..

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This is part of the Sanctuary, where she was seeking a good tasty morsel for lunch … and below there was a marshy area full of Mallards .. swimming and just having a good time.  Hopefully they were ignored.

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Some lovely colour ..

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Ice edged the shoreline of Tuesday Pond16

I’d successfully walked through the deep puddles, I was heading to the little bridge at Tuesday Pond .. a little water wasn’t going to stop me!15

Nor was a patch of ice going to deter me.14

However, I have my limits and then I turned around ..

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Tossed some flatted oats on the icy sections for the Mallards to feed on.

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The mysteriously banded Mallard is still here ..  no one I’ve spoken to at the Sanctuary knows where she came from, last year.

12Party time ..

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The eagle wasn’t out at this time .. and I couldn’t see the hawks .. so all the ducks were out, enjoying the water.10

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Some icy covered rocks along the way07

Brrrrr06

The sun tried to shine through ..05

And the Robins chirped merrily along.04

Ok .. now I can talk about other things.  I’m still in the process of decluttering.   And discovering that hindsight is great. I had a number of Anne Perry books which I hadn’t read, so bundled them all up for donation to the Blue Box (reading program).  Kept one book …and tried to read it.  Historical novels have never held my interest.  So, although I’d collected Anne’s books, I’d not made the effort to actually read one.

Oh, well …. what can I say.  One page read, started the next and the next and a few pages in, I’m totally hooked.  Her characters are rich and she shows such a wealth of human understanding that I am hooked.  I’ll definitely be looking for more of her books at the next library book sale.   Never say never .. that saying is true.

While in the process of choosing which books to keep and which to give away .. I had to flip open the books and scan the first page .. to see if I’d read it before.   If I had (and they weren’t written by Maeve Binchy – which I keep for re and  re and re-reading, they are so very wonderful) then away they go into the box.

Now for my gardening books.   I’d already given away quite a few of them.  Now that I’m “enlightened” in my gardening ways, I’d decided to give away all of those that don’t fit my new way of gardening.  Still .. I have many, two bookcases full.  So I’ll need to go through the books again and just be firmer with myself.

As I’ve looked through some of the really old Organic Gardening books (the small format) .. I’ve read articles on soil and what lifeforms live in the soil.  Before I took my Organic Master Gardening course, I’d just skimmed over these articles  The same information is also (I am finding) written about in great detail in quite a number of my gardening books.  Ok … so the information was there all along … and I’d ignored it.  I only paid attention when I paid good money and took the course . … which I’m glad I did .. otherwise ….

And sometimes, I just wish that I wouldn’t look through books before I decided to discard them.

Case in point the 2011 Farmer’s Almanac.  Leafing through the book, saw an article on page 91 “Hungry Trees” and read that on Washington’s Vashon Island, there was a tree which grew around a bicycle.  The bike had been left leaning against the tree, decades ago.  Now the tree has grown around it and the bike is 7 feet off the ground.  Incredulous, I searched for any verification .. and sure enough, it’s true.

Although there are many blogs which mention this (and other strange tree happenings) … I found this delightful blog:  http://www.atlasobscura.com/places/vashon-island-bike-tree

An amazing blog site: http://www.atlasobscura.com/about-us  one I plan to visit!
🙂


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More happy pics from a lovely frosty morning ..

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Yesterday was another beautiful sunny day!  And a busy one!   Went for my lovely long walk, taking various routes, walking as briskly as possible.  Breathing in the crisp fresh air .. sturdy walking shoes gripping the pathways along the way.   Started earlier in the day … fewer people out and about.  Lots of birds chirping.

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Frosty covered boardwalk … not slippery at all!  While on my walk, spoke with several other walkers who kindly warned me about slippery patches!  I was feeling so confident that I wouldn’t be affected.   And both times I thought this very thought .. well … I happened to be on icy patches and found myself gliding along and flailing my arms for balance.  Coincidence?  I think, perhaps, maybe.  So I stopped thinking about slipping and guess what!  It didn’t happen again.  The power of the mind!05

Saw the lovely Cormorant .. the one who escaped being the eagle’s lunch yesterday.  Noted that the Cormorant kept looking upwards at the sky.  Survival.  And he didn’t perch on the rail for grooming and he didn’t go for a flight .. at least while I was there.06

Love this stand of trees .. birches, I think.  Their silvery silhouettes were very striking and cool looking.07

Still waters .. watery reflections of the earthbound formations gazing down .. 09

And this Arbutus makes a willowy shapely form .. with the side branches outstretched, it appears that the tree is dancing very gracefully.

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Little birds quickly taking advantage of quiet to take a little drink of water .. so I stopped to let them enjoy a few minutes without interruption.

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This stately willow never gets tired .. always beautiful in rain, sun, all seasons .. magnificent.

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Here is the shadow me .. taking a photo of the shadowy bench .. talk about another dimension!12

Way up in the tree sits a little grey squirrel.   Softly nestled on a bed of moss, the branch is high enough to avoid close encounters of the human kind.13

Ok, he’s seen me and really wants me to continue on my way .. so he crouches down to wait till I do.14

Saw a flock of tiny birds feeding away at the little pine cones.  Their cheerful chatter was quite delightful as they frolicked about the branches .. eating delicacies.   Don’t know what kind of birds they area .. but very sweet.   Felt very fortunate to see them.15

Back home .. Mrs. Downy Woodpecker is nibbling away.  Don’t know what was in the air yesterday .. maybe the birds thought it was spring or something.  Noticed some huge Robins having flying altercations and tumbles in the trees.  Then I saw the Downy Woodpeckers going through a troublesome patch also.  Think there were 4 of them ….they seemed to choose a feeder then change their minds.  In the end, though, peace and quiet.16

Sigh …17

The bulbs are emerging … the weather has them fooled into thinking that spring has arrived.  No such luck.18

And here they are .. delightful little Bush-tits …. there are quite a few this year.  And I think that they are slowly getting used to me.  19

Love them …20

Wonder who is in the plane .. where is it going …

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The consensus is good for the new feeder.  03

And my garlic .. growing greens up through a very thick layer of ground oak leaves and seaweed….02

And on this note … that’s it for the day .. 01


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Thursday, blue skies, Mallards, Eagles, Cormorants … not a bad day, really!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Ah .. 2013 .. after only a few weeks .. it just rolls off the tongue.  As if time had always been 2013.  No thinking about the trepidation of a new year.  This is the new year .. a time for new things .. new starts .. new hobbies .. interests .. everything!

And this would include .. new skies .. of course!  How wonderful Thursdays skies were .. I couldn’t keep my eyes off of them!

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So cheerful and bright … they really look like summer skies!02

Quite a lovely early morning walk .. and I was surprised (and happy) to see this little garden gnome guy … looks like he’d just stepped outside to enjoy the sun … he didn’t appear to notice me .. quite a happy kind of gnome he seems to be .. a good neighbour, wouldn’t you say?

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Noticed some colourful looking mushrooms growing merrily on a tree branch.  Wonder if the gnome has relatives living in similar places?

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And nature’s most beautiful art …. 05

Farther along .. I reached the main walkway over Swan Lake .. and stopped for a while.   Very quiet this time of day.  No one rushing along.  Noticed this Cormorant and Mallard Drake companionably resting on the railing.   Quite a relaxed little scene.  The Drake is settling down for a snooze.  The Cormorant is drying off his wings … he’d been for a swim and took some time to shake the excess water out of his feathers.

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I moved a little bit closer as my camera has limited range and I really wanted to take some photos closer.   The Cormorant noticed me and kept a wary eye out!

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Well .. umm … his body language seemed to convey that I was a little too close .. or perhaps it was time to somewhere .. for he swiftly dove into the air and flew over me .. a wide circle …. way up high (I didn’t try to get a photo .. it would only be a dot in the sky).  And then he just settled in the water, maybe 100 yards or so away … calmly paddling away.  Totally oblivious to what was happening in the skies above him.

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And he was being watched.   The two resident eagles were keeping a close watch on him.  Then … omg .. one of them swooped down from their viewing tree and in mere seconds, he’d (she’d?) zoomed over to the lake and was flying towards the Cormorant!!!

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Closer .. and closer .. oh (expletive) I said, involuntarily … no … don’t go after the Cormorant.  I’d just spent ages watching him (her?) meticulously grooming all the feathers and relaxing in the quiet of the morning … Please .. please .. don’t … the eagle has very strong wings and can fly so fast and cover so much territory quickly …did the Cormorant have a chance?

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I know this is nature and that eagles don’t have shopping stores and must fetch their meals to live .. however .. I just don’t like this part of the food chain.  I watched as the Cormorant made his way to the thick marshes on the other side of the lake.  The eagle swooped and dove and finally .. oh, thank goodness!  Flew away empty. The Cormorant lives for another day.  For as beautiful as these nature sanctuaries are and as lovely and magical the birds are, that we see .. theirs is a savage world.  Survival is the key word.

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I hoisted my binoculars to my eyes and saw that the two eagles were once again perched in their viewing tree.  Ready to zoom down and collect their 11 am lunch.  They do look very regal, wild and strong sitting way up there.

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So I continued on my merry way … relishing the sheer beauty up above …

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The recent rains had been very heavy .. lots of signage warning everyone not to take certain trails.

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And I soon found that one of the warning signs was particularly true!  This is the far end of the long walkway over the Lake (away from the Nature House) and this explains why there was no one there when I visited this area.

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Just loved the look of the trees forming a sort of framed area of the pathway … lovely contrast of tree bark, leafless branches forming a lovely arch for all of us to walk beneath.

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Someone cared enough for the birds, wanted them to have food during the heavy rain .. sweet.

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Nelthorpe .. this is the area where we are directed when the rains are too heavy.  Lots of lovely plans for butterflies .. etc.

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See the roped off areas .. this is for the wildlife, butterflies etc.  Lovely.

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Wonderful .. felt so happy to be outside, walking beneath such beautiful skies ..

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Little birdies .. I stopped for a few minutes so that they could continue their little puddle baths ..24

oh .. happy days … 23

Blue skies ….

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Thursday .. a lovely day … sigh .


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I finally prepared my magnificent Luminara pumpkin ….curry vegetable stew and so very delicious

Thursday, January 10, 2013

I’ve slowly begun to be sort of active and getting things done lately, not much, mind you .. but some.  And as things just build on themselves, without really trying – I’m sure that I’ll be back to my busy whirling dervish kind of person again.

Although I’m not a super big Christmas and New Year celebration kind of person … I did find myself getting swept up into the spirit of things.   And grew to really love shopping .. just to be out in the friendly shopping malls in town and perhaps a visit or two downtown.

Energizing to speak with fellow shoppers.  See the joy in other’s faces.  And sometimes the sadness.  There is always lots of both out in the world.

Years ago I’d decided to feel the joy of Christmas every day of the year so that it wouldn’t feel as if the happy holiday energy wouldn’t suddenly disappear after a few days .. but would stay with me.   And it has.  Although I must admit to loving the atmosphere of Christmas.  The delicious foods (shortbread, Christmas pudding, a little fruit cake) rum and nog, perhaps a fancy drink or two.  Visiting with friends.  Snuggling with my DH .. that’s my very favourite.

Thus far in the New Year .. I decide to get back into exercising .. and I’ve done that with my lovely daily walks.   Walking everywhere and mostly ending up at Swan Lake …quite often.  There are other beautiful places to be in town .. but this is the closest and besides I love seeing the birds of all types.

And back to decluttering.  Spent a bit of time yesterday sorting out books to donate to the blue box (reading program) and have about 100 (yes, that many!!) neatly placed in bags and boxes to take over tomorrow.

Those are fictions books, including some videos and music cd’s.  And I need to cull my gardening book collection .. but not today.

So yesterday, after doing all that .. I decided that it was high time to cut up my wonderful crop of (one) Luminara pumpkin.  But first, I have to ensure that this is non-GM .. so spent some time searching and found that it is not.  Although I still have the plant tab that came with the plant “somewhere” in my gardening stash .. so will double-check on the ‘net once I have that little item.

I’m not knowledgeable about pumpkins and only found out this year (blush) that there are more varieties than the normal orange Jack-o-Lantern!  Months ago, I’d chosen a curry vegetable stew at a local restaurant which contained rich orange pumpkin .. and thus I entered the world of pumpkin land!

So you can see that I was quite happy when I cut up my treasured pumpkin and discovered that the fruit was a rich orange colour!

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Then I spent awhile looking up recipes for curry pumpkin stew .. and there are quite a few.  I didn’t have all the ingredients, so I ended up making up my own recipe!

I steamed 2 of the large sections in a covered roasting pan …. later scooped all the lovely pulp into a bowl.    Added some butter on top and a light sprinkle of pepper!

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Now .. this looked so delicious that I had to put some in a little bowl for tasting.  oh .. my .. this was just ambrosia and tasted like sweet potato!  I managed to freeze most of this to add to a future soup.

The rest of the pumpkin .. well .. I cut it into cubes.  Along with cubed sweet potatoes.  They really looked pretty and I wish I’d taken more photos so I could share in my culinary boasting .. but ended up being so busy, measuring, and all that .. so it completely slipped my mind.

Chopped up onion & garlic (of which I have quite a bit of!) and swirled them in a soup pot with some olive oil.  Added the pumpkin, sweet potato, curry powder, sea salt, freshly ground pepper.    Organic chicken broth & a tin of crushed tomatoes.

Cooked for a while ….. tasted .. and another wonderful dish was born! Yum.  Some for the freezer and some in the fridge for lunches.

And I’d rinsed and rinsed and rinsed the seeds:

31Removed the pumpkin fruit from them …. patted them dry .. and now they are drying in a dish.  Many many seeds!    Lots for me to grow this summer, share with friends and perhaps donate at Seedy Saturday.

Finally, clean-up time.  Lots of materials for composting.

Tired .. but happy .. a great way to end another wonderful day!

🙂