Friday, November 27, 2009

Once More Into the Breach...

It's 2am & I have to leave for Comox Hospital in 2 hours. Today is surgery day. Time to finally get my other knee replaced & I am looking forward to it, to being able to walk again on 2 good legs.

We leave at 4am to take our time & get there safely by 6am for surgery at 8:45am. Yes it will be a long day for Richard. For me...I get to sleep most of the day. And night. You become aware quickly after surgery is over but then you get painkillers that knock you out again.

So I will post again when I can after surgery, sometime next week. Somehow I don't think the hospital will let me tap into there Wi-Fi network to post my blog.

I will try though...

...just sayin'

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Here We Go Again

Well at long last I am back. Yes, I know it's been months. I got a bit sidetracked but will do my level best to stay focused...honest.

So much has happened I hardly know where to start. It was a great summer! Garden boat and tomato tub exceeded expectations. Flowers in containers were superb! Richard got the sunporch finished & I promptly filled it with plants to overwinter. I turned 60. And then there was Linda & Baby Bear.

We noticed her in September trying to climb the tall pear tree on the south side of the driveway. Took us a few days to realize she was a baby & motherless. I got photos of her at various times & will post them here later.

She stayed around for quite a while hiding out from a larger male bear, only venturing out when she knew he was gone. On Saturday of Canadian Thanksgiving weekend, we got up before dawn to go down to Sooke. I sent Richard out with flashlight to make sure no bears were in the apple trees so we could take the dogs out.

"No bears, come on out." he hollered. Out we trooped, the dogs congregating & sniffing around under the King apple. I stood directly under the tree talking to Richard & trying to hurry the dogs along. We had had several days of rain & it was cool & damp. Suddenly, "water" started to pour down from above. I quickly stepped to the side, saying "please tell me that's not pee!"

Richard shone his flashlight up into the tree. "Oh," he said "there she is!"

Meanwhile I am wiping bear pee off my head & shoulder with a crumpled piece of paper towel from my pocket. Richards eyes were huge as he looked at me, trying to gauge my reaction. His lips twitched. Then twitched again as I stared at him, deadpan. His eyes crinkled. Then his cheeks. Then he gave up the battle & started to laugh. Tears running down his cheeks, he exclaimed over and over "I'm sorry, I'm sorry but that was ssoo funny!" Then he'd go off in gale's of laughter again.

Meanwhile poor terrified baby bear is still in the tree as quiet as a mouse.

Finally I herded the dogs & Richard up to the house & indoors. My that time dawn was breaking & we could watch the poor little bear hustle down the outside of the tree and scamper away to safety.

All the way to Sooke, Richard kept snickering then apologizing. And me? Come on, it was funny. I mean how many people can say they've been peed on by a bear? A little soap & water fixed me right up.

I think the big thing is how quiet she was up in that tree. Even the dogs didn't know she was there. And it could have been worse...much worse, that she dumped on my head.

I'm just sayin'.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, September 21, 2009

What I Did On My Summer Vacation....

I'm back!!! Didja miss me, grin? It has been a really good summer for us. Despite what the title says, no we didn't go anywhere on vacation, except out to the Garden Yard and down to Victoria Quay for lunch several times to watch the wildlife on the Canal, aka the Alberni Inlet. A&W loves us, I gotta tell you.

The weather was quite good for most of August, although we had a stretch of two weeks with weather that even Kate said was too hot for her a couple of days. Now that is HOT as she loves the hot weather. Let me tell you, when you go outdoors and it is 111F with the Humidex - for those of you who don't know, humidex is the opposite of a Prairie winter wind chill factor, Island style - you literally can hardly breathe. Don't misunderstand, I am not complaining about the heat, not after the nasty winter we had, just sayin'...

So, how did I really spend my days? Like I said, in the garden. Many an hour was spent watering, dead heading, pruning, transplanting, reconfiguring, hunting for, lessee what else...oh, yeah, and, um, buying plants. Well, you see, Walmart had some terrific end-of-season sales. I mean, $1.50 for a 12 inch hanging basket? Come on, don't tell me you wouldn't have bought 8 of them too. Or how about all the assorted plants I got for 50 cents? And now it's end-of-season at Canadian Tire. Boy did I get some good deals there so far. Wandering way over to the back of the garden center, I discovered the "discount rack". Jackpot! Nineteen 4-inch pots of Osteospermum for 25 cents each. Yup, you read it right, 25 cents per pot. In the spring, the 6 inch pots sell for a minimum of $4.99 each. Then I paid 49 cents each for 4-inch pots of Fibrous Begonias; same for Tuberous Begonias, Ageranthemums, Rose Mint scented Geraniums, Wave Petunias, and Snap Dragons. And 90 cents got me 9 little blooming seed geraniums, 10 cents each.

Kate gave us a beautiful Red Hibiscus for our Anniversary at the beginning of August, and I fell in love with the plant. Canadian Tire had them, but they were $3.00 more than Kate paid for the one she got us...she spent $4.99. Anyway, I kept checking all month because I knew, just KNEW, they would be going on sale. Yesterday I struck gold! They had the Hibiscus on for $3.99 each. I bought 2 Luna Blush - white with a pink blush on the petals and a red heart - and 1 Luna Red. One of the Blush ones is for Kate's garden. Again I wandered back to the discount rack and again I got bargains. Be still my heart. Six 1-gallon pots of Hibiscus, on clearance, for $1.00 each. They are all Luna Blush too. So, now I have 7 Luna White Blush and 2 Red. Too Cool! More for Kate and Bente!

Then there are all the Gerbera Daisies I have. Some I managed to save over from last year, some I bought this year. I think at last count I had 30 although I gave one to Kate, a gorgeous Orange one. Most of mine are in shades of pink, a few are yellow, one orange and a couple are white. Oh and there are 3 or 4 that are a deep red. In case you haven't figured it out, I am crazy about Gerberas. And I refuse to pay full price for them. The most I spent on one was $3.99. The least, 49 cents.

The Garden Boat is doing quite well. My seeds I planted are producing a profusion of blossoms - Cosmos, Zinnias, Lavatera, Sweet Peas, Calendula. The flowers I bought as bedding plants have thrived. The Gladiolas have produced long leaves but no flower stocks yet. I keep hoping, but even if they don't bloom, they are increasing the size of the corms for next year. Oh and the Tomato Tub has outdone itself. Lots of tomatoes coming and we have been eating Yellow Gallina and Pink Ice Candy Cherry Tomatoes all month. Yes, yes, the tomato tub was waaaaay overplanted with tomatoes, but, I wanted to try different varieties not planted before. Now I know what to plant next year. Black Prince is still the perennial favorite in this house.

Richard has been quite patient, even enthusiastic, about my plant buying. Once, when I was trying to hurry my purchases through the checkout and get them to the van before he saw them, he came up behind me in line and ahemmmed. I whipped around and said "I didn't buy any plants" with a sheepish grin on my face. With a straight face he replied "That 12-step program not working so well for you, hmmmmm."

That's ok, he has discovered the joys of Coleus and is particularly fond of the rust, red, and wine colored ones. I also got him a Kong Coleus, with leaves the size of dinner plates. Today we got 4 Blood Leaf plants on sale, their purple/red leaves are striking next to the variegated pale green and white of the Rose Mint Geraniums.

So that's all for this episode. Tomorrow is another day, as Scarlet O'Hara was fond of saying. Will write more tomorrow. Yes, I really do have that much to talk about.

Oh the Old Bat turned 60 on September 2nd.

Old Bat?

That would be me, silly!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

From ghoulies and ghosties and long-legged beasties, and things that go bump in the night...

The weather has been weird this summer. Two or three days of HOT and sunny weather, followed by COLD and cloudy. Saturday was 32C. Today 17C. Go figger. The Garden Boat looks really good, as do most of my other plants. Tomatoes are going crazy in the Tomato Tub. We had to raise the old bunk bed frame up by over 2 feet because the plants were so tall. Now I just have to figure out what I can use to cover them up. I had white plastic shower curtains from the Dollar store, and the tomatoes loved their cozy wee greenhouse. However, the plastic is not UV resistant, nor wind resistant either. Long story short, the plastic is now gone. Several of the plants have tomatoes growing, and Richard is counting down the days to his first tomato sandwich.

I planted 60 Gladiola bulbs in the Garden Boat. 30 are up so far, while I expect the other 30 to be up next week. How can I be sure? Easy, I told them to grow or get yanked and replaced. Works every time, grin. Why so many Glad bulbs? Sigh, a sale. I bought a bag of 25 pastel colored ones and a bag of 50 bright colored ones and they cost me $2.00 per bag. You know I can't resist a bargain.

We have had a lot of birds nesting on the farm this spring and summer. I have mentioned the Starlings before, and the Crows. This time we also have a Red Tailed Hawk, a Blue Heron, a large family of Cedar Waxwings, along with the usual Hummingbirds, Chickadees, Robins, Turkey Vultures and Bald Eagles, Pileated Woodpeckers, Ring Necked Pheasants, Blue Grouse, and many more too numerous to mention. Yesterday Richard was working in the Garden Yard when we heard a loud bird call. "Did you hear that?" I asked him. "Yeah, sounds like an Eagle to me," he replied. I looked up, way up, in the top of the Sitka Spruce tree on the South side of the drive. "Nope," I said, " it's TWO Bald Eagles." They sat, looking all around for quite a long time. Meanwhile, I am watching the dogs closely, making sure the Eagle pair don't decide the Bichons look like a nice light snack. The photo above was the best of the ones I could get with my camera, before they flew away.

Speaking of creatures, a couple of weeks ago, Richard was driving in the yard when he spotted the Cute Little Island Baby Mule Deer "hiding" in the grass off the side of the driveway. We got photo's of her while Mommy was in the Saskatoon bushes eating berries. The whole time we watched her, she never even blinked, so still was she. Richard also mentioned seeing a Cute Little Island Doe with twins on the other side of the farm, romping in the hay field before it was cut while Mommy grazed nearby.

I have written before about taking the dogs out into the Garden Yard before bed at about 11pm each night. Last night was no different. The "kids" look forward to it, barking and racing each other out to the far end of the yard by the boat, while we totter out behind. Mason did his usual: sit and stare down towards the shed across the driveway to the East. He always acts as though he can hear or see something down there, but I never hear anything, and can't see anything because there is no light there.

Last night was a different matter. After we had been out for a while there was suddenly a "clank, clunk, thud" sound from near the old truck camper. The hairs on the back of my neck literally stood straight up and I froze for a few seconds, trying to decide if I had really heard it. Of course, one look at Mason confirmed I had. "Did you hear THAT?" I asked Richard. "Something down by the shed. Something big enough to make a LOUD noise." He walked over to the fence and looked into the darkness. My feet meanwhile had minds all their own and were quickly moving towards the house, while my mouth was shooing dogs ahead of me. "I don't see anything." he said. "Well there is something there, and it could be a bear," I replied from the safety of the deck, one hand on the door handle.

Back inside, and after some careful, more rational thought, I came to the conclusion it couldn't have been a bear, because the "kids" didn't alert to it and believe me, they would have. So, hmmmmmmmm, what could it be. "Raccoons," Richard replied. "Of course that is what it was, a family of them, foraging in the Saskatoon Berry bushes." Thank God, I would be able to sleep after all. Miserable little bandits!

So today, before coming home from work, Richard purchased a "rechargeable Spot Light" to pack with us on our forays into the dark reaches of the Garden Yard at night. And yup, you guessed it, it paid for itself first time. Richard shone it down to where I heard the noise from last night, but no glowing eyes shone back at us. "Shine it all around the yard," I said from the safety of behind his back. He complied. "Nope, nothing". I walked back over to the garden boat. The he gave a loud whisper "Come quick and see this." He had the light pointed out into the field to the North of us. And there, lying in the field while their Mommy grazed, were the Cute Little Island Mule Deer Twin babies from this year. Eyes shining brightly in the spotlight, looking back at us as if to say "you can't possibly see us, we are hiding like our Mommy told us to do."

Shining the light beyond the deer, we see bright eye's peering back at us from a tall tree on the drainage ditch. Several pairs of eyes that moved up and down the tree and back and forth on the branches. Rocky and Rita Raccoon and all the bratty little raccoon's picking berries and cherries, the little bandits.
Time to troop back into the house. Molly stops at the corner of the house listening to Mole People gossiping under the deck, one of her favorite pastimes...when she isn't trying to dig them out. Bedtime.

Tomorrow is another day. Bente will be home from visiting her sister in Seattle. First warm, sunny day, we'll get an Iced Cappuccino from Tim Horton's and go to the Quay to drink it and gossip. Can't wait.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Dancing Queen

To the uninitiated, Humpback Road, a link between Highway 1 and Sooke Road on Southern Vancouver Island, is a heart-stopping experience. No, REALLY. It is a narrow, winding, bumpy, crumbling-shouldered shortcut, only a few kilometers long, with 3 hair-raising blind spots at it's Eastern end and places along its route were two vehicles - even very small vehicles - cannot safely pass each other. Richard and I love it. It shaves off about half an hour from our 3 and a half hour trip down to see Hammond, Megan and Rylan. I have tried several times to take photos of it, to show people what I mean, but that is made difficult by my left hand firmly gripping the dash and my right hand tightly on the door support. Kind of impossible to take pictures with both hands other wise occupied. This past Sunday was no exception.

Sunday was Rylan's dance recital at the Sooke Community Theater. We have known about it since last September, when she first started dance lessons and Richard booked the day off months ago. We wouldn't have missed it for anything. Taking our time driving down, we stopped at several farm markets, enjoying the sunny day. One of the markets had bags of dried Strawberries, a special treat as I love dried fruit for baking and for eating out of hand.

The recital was fabulous and fun.
It was done as a Circus, with Master of Ceremonies. Rylan was a Polka Dot Pony. Dancers of all ages from 3 to adult strutted their stuff on the stage in a well choreographed performances. Of course our Granddaughter was the best! The children were so terrific and unaffected by the sold out audience. .

We went with Hammond and Megan, and another set of Rylan's Grandparents from Edmonton, Hammond Sr. and Joy. It was wonderful to see them all. Rylan was thrilled to have us all there watching her. What a terrific 4 year old she is.

After the recital, we meandered our way back home, stopping again at Russell Farms, a farm market we love North of Duncan, for an ice cream cone, some of their fresh lettuce and new potatoes. Oh, and I bought two more tomatoes - Micro Tom's loaded with tiny tomatoes - and a Red Lupin. Now I have red, blue, white and pink Lupin plants. Would love to get a yellow one too.

What's that? How many tomato plants do I have now? Um, well, er...a few. Ok, 35, but that's all I'm getting, I swear!

It has been beautiful weather this last two weeks. A couple of days were in the mid-30'sC. That's over 90F for all my American cousins. Well over. My garden boat is really taking shape and I have worn a path around it eying it from different angles, trying to decide what to put where. I want it too look beautiful, but I want it also to look like things just...well...grew, kind of haphazardly like organized chaos.

I have placed in random spots, 8 double-flowered Evening Scented Stocks in deep Rose, Violet, Creamy White and palest Pink. I bought eight of them thinking the sign I saw said $1.79 each. Silly Me! Turned out they were $2.99 each. OUCH. They are beautiful, their tight clusters of flowers looking like tiny Cabbage Roses, but next year, I will plant my own from seed.

Speaking of growing seeds, I have found the perfect fool-proof way to get them to sprout. No, really I have. You just plant the seed as usual, water well, give them a few days to get used to their surroundings, keep watering, and then, bam, you fix them with a steely-eyed glare and hit them with the following words: "You have 24 hours to sprout and show me you are growing or I yank you out and plant something else. I mean it!" Works every time. The next morning the seeds have sprouted and are up over an inch. Worked with Zinnias, Lavatera, Cosmos and Lettuce seeds so far. Try it.

Well, the Tomato Tub is planted; 20 Heritage tomatoes in all. Richard is ready at a moments notice to butter thick slices of homemade bread to make a tomato sandwich when the first one ripens. Me too. It will be a long couple of months until that happens, but well worth the wait, I assure you. And if things work out, there will be fresh, home grown lettuce to go with those tomatoes too.

Have to quit writing now, just broke my glasses and can't see a thing without them. There was a loud snap, and a weld broke where the temple attaches to the frame. @#$%^&*. I have only had them 5 months. Time to haul out the florists tape and do a temporary fix, then back to the store tomorrow for a fix.

And maybe on the way home, stop at the nursery, just to see what they may have. No, not to buy tomatoes, nope, uh uh. Just to look.


Thursday, May 28, 2009

Dear Mommy Deer

The sun has come out and it appears, hypothetically speaking, that spring has at long last arrived. We have had a week of wonderful weather and I have stopped whining about least for now. Many signs of true spring around the Garden Yard. The two Starling families have fledged their babies, although the babies are seemingly reluctant to leave home. I see and hear them in the nests throughout the day. The other day I came across a small Garter snake near the shed. Our Garter snakes here are different colored than on the Prairies - out there, they are dark green with yellow stripes. Here they are more brown with orange stripes.

The Garden Yard is being slowly whipped into shape. Richard and I have been working hard...he cutting grass, hauling in the stock tank and filling it with dirt for a Tomato emptying potting soil from dozens of pots, whose occupants winter killed this year, into the Tomato bed. He also dragged in an old white bathtub that has been sitting in the yard for eons. I emptied potting soil into it too, and will fill it with flowers and herbs. We have moved several pots and things that sat on the driveway side of the yard, giving a nice clear sight line to the garden boat. Oh and Richard also brought me in another tub, this one out of an old dryer, to fill and use for flowers or vegetables.

I found a unique way to grow lettuce on the Internet when I was looking for something else one night. You use pieces of PVC pipe, cut holes in the top for the plants, fill pipe with dirt, and suspend from a fence or other such supports. Gonna try that one for sure. Richard was really excited about that idea. We have the PVC pipe, we have a stand to suspend short lengths on, and we have the lettuce seed and soil. What more could you ask for.

The Garden Boat is beginning to look really good. Still a long way to go, but each day as I walk around it, it takes shape in my mind. Some things that survived the winter were a huge Yarrow plant, two mini roses, Bergamot, White Echinacea, an elderly lemon thyme plant that is really doing well, chives and purple sage. Oh, and one mustn't forget the 1000 Feverfew seedlings. Good grief, but who knew they would seed like that? I planted Blue Lobelia and Yellow Pansies in the prow of the boat. Then in a row behind that are Blue and White Pansies. My adorable little Hummingbird feeders are also in the boat, two at the back and one at the prow. Today I am planting Sweetpeas, finally, along the one remaining pieces of chicken wire Richard put in the boat for me last year.

Some things I have discovered along the way this Spring:
1. I am addicted to buying Tomato Plants. More on that later.
2. When you move a plant pot that has been sitting there for months, you will find a pile of earth worms.
3. The easiest way to pick up those aforementioned worms is not with your thumb and forefinger as one might think, but with your forefinger and middle finger, gently pinching the worm with the middle finger pressing against the top, or fingernail, of the index finger. Really. Oh stop shuddering, it's just a little worm.

Back to the Tomato Plant addiction. One of my lifelong vegetable passions has been Tomatoes and the growing of same. The first time I grew tomatoes from seed, I planted 72 tomato plants. Yeah, I had a bumper crop of tomatoes. I found a source locally for Heritage Tomatoes, which I love, and last year planted several terrific varieties. This year my source let me down and I couldn't find all the varieties I wanted. I got the ones I could and a few I haven't tried before. I whined to Kate about the lack of plants here so she went out on her days off, Bless Her Heart, and purchased some for me. Now here is the list, and brace yourselves, it is extensive:
Ailsa Craig, Big Rainbow, Black Krim, Black Prince, Bulls Heart, Cheesmans, Cherokee Purple, Dixie Golden Giant, Galina, Giant Belgium, Green Zebra, Isis Candy, MIcro Tom, Mortgage Lifter (AKA Radiator Charlie's Mortgage Lifter), Ox Heart, Pineapple Beefsteak, Pink Brandywine, Pomme d'Amour, Tumbler. I am still looking for Brown Berry, Tumbling Tom, Yellow Mortgage Lifter and Striped Cavern. I plan to grow the tomatoes upright on supports, and only let them get so tall before nipping them off so they set fruit rather than putting all their resources into the plant.

Just for today...

I was given a real blessing yesterday afternoon. I had gone to the store for a few things, and as I drove back in the yard, I saw a Cute Little Island Doe Mule deer under the large Pear tree. I slowed right to a crawl, but she never moved, so I stopped the van and sat their watching her. Suddenly, I thought I saw something moving under her feet. "Is that..." I spoke to myself "It is!" There beneath her was a brand spanking new baby fawn! She must have just dropped it, or only a short while before. I grabbed my camera, snapping away, shot a couple of videos. What an amazing sight! I have seen fawns before, but not one newborn and up close. The Doe stood there watching me knowing they are safe in our yard. Soon she licked the baby a bit, then moved away a short distance. The baby slowly got to its tiny feet and tottered after mommy, searching under her belly for milk. I sat there in awe watching as they wandered slowly through the yard to the bushes near the road. My photo's aren't great but you can see how tiny the baby is.

What can be more perfect than that on a sunny day?

Not too much, I don't think.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

I Got Rainfall, on a Cloudy Day

Did you enjoy our summer? It's +8 here today...+8! For those of you South of the border, that is 46F. THIS IS MAY, PEOPLE! Where is our sunshine blue skies and hot weather??!!!? Time was, you got a sunburn here the end of March. Now we are still wearing our "woolen undies" if you catch my drift and it's the 6th of May. Siiigggghh. Yes, I AM bitter. So what.

Ok, on to happier things. No more grouching about the weather.

Kate's Bread Machine died the other day, the one she bought last September. Talk about withdrawal symptoms. Kate makes bread almost everyday so it nearly drove her crazy when the machine coughed it's last gasp. Like me, she lets the machine do the work of mixing, kneading and first rise, then shapes and puts in pans for second rise before bakeing. She is quite adventurous for a novice bread baker too. Her favorite recipe is for Cinco de Mayo bread, which is full of yummy stuff like green chili's, corn meal, kernel corn, jalapeños, and for an added zip, she adds chili powder, then sprinkles the top with Tex/Mex grated cheese just before baking. This bread is amazing.

So today she made the trek into Victoria to exchange it for one that does work. She came home and immediately started making another loaf of bread to test it out. Addicted to bread baking?? Oh yup, but I know the feeling. Just talking to her about it makes me want to go and make a loaf or two as well. What better thing to do on a cold and rainy day. Oh, and just for the record, she gives a lot of her bread away to friends and co-workers who are getting quite addicted to her bread.

I think I have mentioned in a previous post that I lost a lot of my perennial plants over the past nasty winter. Some i was surprised about and some not so much. For instance, I lost my Rosemary, not surprising, it is a Mediterranean plant after all, used to warmer winter weather. I also lost some Rose bushes, and that was surprising, although some Roses I thought I would lose, I didn't. Go figure. My various and sundry varieties of Mint all seem to be coming back, with the exception of the pot that Mason used as his personal urinal during the winter months. Gee, can't imagine why it didn't survive!

Looks like my Hydrangea's have gone to the big nursery in the sky as well. That's too bad as Bente gave them to me several years ago. She got the cuttings from different plants while out for a walk one day and rooted them for me. I LOVE Hydrangeas; have since I was a little girl and my dad brought one home for Mom for Mother's Day one year. I thought it was the most beautiful plant I had ever seen. Guess I will have to ask Bente to start me another plant.

One plant that did do quite well over the winter was my Feverfew. It self seeded to the point where there must be...oh, lets least a thousand tiny Feverfew plants coming up in the environs of the mother plant. I guess I will wait to see which will be the hardiest seedlings and then, gulp, pull up the rest. Gosh that is a hard thing for me too do, destroy seedlings. Maybe I can pot them up and give them to people. Then I can't be accused of planticide.

Have I mentioned our Resident Starling Population? I have been trying to figure out how many Starlings have fledged in our yard, just from the two nests I know about. We have lived her for 20 years. During that time, there has been a Starling nest
inside the roof overhang on the East side of the house. Every year for 20 years, they have fledged at least 2, usually 3, nests full of babies. Conservatively, lets say there were 3 babies per nesting. That would be...hmmmmmm, wow, a whole lot of Starlings! Now, consider that those Starlings all have babies, and oh my goodness, no wonder we have such a large population of Starlings. Maybe we should put a Starling cam up under the eaves so the world can watch. Well, gee, there are Eagle Cams and Canada Goose Cams, why not a Starling Cam?

When we had our big Golden Shepherd dog Sparky, and again with our Malamute, Willo, we fed them dry dog food outside. Generations of Starlings were fledged on Purina Field and Farm Kibble. We used to get such a kick out of watching the Starling parents sneak up on the dog's dish, fill their beaks with kibble and then go poke it down the babies beaks. Nowadays, they have to rely on worms and bugs.

Richard keeps threatening to put up an electric fence around the garden yard to keep the bears out. I still am really apprehensive about that. You know me, I mentioned this last year. Stumbling out to the Garden Yard in the early morning with the dogs, accidentally touching that hot wire on top of the fence, and finding myself admiring the blue sky from my prone position amongst the plant pots. Shudder, not a pretty sight. So I will continue to come up with other cute Little Island Bear deterrents. And I am definitely open to suggestions. Feel free to leave a comment. Best one gets a prize, to be announced at a later date.

Time to make dinner, Chicken Quesadillas in George. So quick and easy and tasty. Just the thing for a cold winter', that is spring, day.

Summer is coming soon, right? I mean, really. Right?

It's ok, you can lie to me and tell me it is.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Rhubarb Fool

We are back finally. It's been a rather long hiatus, but during that time spring has managed to, finally, arrive. Everything here is at least a month late. For instance, the Holly bushes usually bloom by mid March and here it is the 5th of May - Happy Cinco de Mayo everyone - and it still hasn't bloomed. Cherry trees are all in full bloom finally as are the Plums. Apples are leafing out, oh and Pears are blooming. Haven't been too many bees around although the little Rufus Hummingbirds have been busy pollinating where they can. And of course, the not-so-cute Island Black Bears are back. That's right, I said bears, plural.

I spotted a huge one across the creek when I let the dogs into the garden yard last week. Richard, on the outside of the fence and I, on the inside, stood watching it as two Cute Little Island Mule Deer stood in the field to the North of the house watching us. Suddenly, one of the deer started to trot away while the other twisted her head around to watch something over on the drainage ditch.

"What's she looking at all of a sudden?" Richard asked.
"No ide...oh crap, look, there, over by the drainage ditch!!!" I hollered. "Another great big Black Bear!"

Richard took off for the truck and chased after the bear to scare it away. One can only hope the two of them were just passing through on their way to higher ground up in the Beauforts. We think they were males as there were no cubs in evidence. So now our minds are working on bear defenses for the yard. As if that will work...

We have had a few warm days, nothing to write home about as the saying goes. Warmest it got was +20C or 68F. When you are used to having +30 by the end of March, +20 in May is rather chilly. It is a welcome relief after all the nasty weather this winter, but still. The good news is you should see my Rhubarb! Wow! My dad sent me a piece of his 50 year old Rhubarb plant last summer. We planted it in a big plastic tub, until we had something to put it in permanently, in a very sunny spot in the garden yard. Well, the tub is full of Rhubarb and I have to harvest it. Rhubarb pie, Rhubarb Crisp, stewed Rhubarb...I can't wait. Rhubarb is one of my favorite fruits, even though it started life as a vegetable. Mix it with Strawberries and you have the best ever.

Richard moved the big old water tank into the yard in the opposite corner from the Garden Boat. It will hold the tomatoes this year, as well as some herbs and flowers. He has another smaller oval shaped water tank that is going to be moved in where the Rhubarb tub is. The Rhubarb will get transplanted into it with some other plants. I have several rectangular window box planters that are going to be planted with soup mix beans and scarlet runner beans. These will sit along the back of the shed where the stucco wire will facilitate their climbing. I have so many seeds to plant, I almost don't know where to start.

And did I mention the two "found" tubs I have that are going to be filled with flowers? They are the drums from two old dryers Richard brought to me to use as planters. Now I have to decide where to put them in the yard. Oh, and I got the neatest idea for planting lettuce and things of that nature in. I was searching for info on making your own upside down tomato planters - more on that later - when I stumbled upon info and photo's of using 4" PVC pipe hung on the fence to plant in. Cover both ends of the pipe with landscape fabric, drill 2 - 3 inch holes in the top of the pipe about 6 inches apart, fill pipe with soil, plant seeds and before long you have a lettuce patch, up and away from Mole People and cute Little Island Bush Bunnies. We have some old eavestroughing that we are going to suspend on the fence inside the garden yard and try this idea as well as using the PVC.

As I mentioned above, we are going to try a couple of pots of upside down tomatoes. From everything I read, this is a successful method of growing them. Time will tell. I have two plastic pails, about 5 gallons each, and will plant tomatoes out the bottom and herbs out the top. Efficient use of space. And to water them, will get a couple of those goofy looking glass globe thingy's with the long glass spike on the bottom that you can use for house plants. Should do the trick, as getting water to the roots is what it is all about.

Oh and getting back to the Hummingbirds, Richard discovered the cutest little Hummingbird Feeders at Walmart. If you haven't seen them, go look for them. They are designed to hang in your hanging baskets or large flower pots, are clear plastic with a red bottom, have a single feeding spot on the feeder and cost under $5.00 for two of them. A lovely decorative and functional accent for any flower pot. I, um, er, ah, bought 4 packages of them, blush.

Healthwise, I am getting over a cold, the third one this winter. Managed to keep it from going into a lung infection, but took a lot of hard work, believe me. And the thing is, I don't get colds as a rule, nor flu either. And the only thing I will say about the current H1N1 flu scare is, STOP PANICKING!

This weekend is Mother's Day, and we hope to meet Hammond, Megan and Rylan at Ladysmith, half way between Port and Sooke where they live. We are really looking forward to seeing our granddaughter, who will be 4 years old in a couple of weeks, and our son and daughter-in-law. Rylan takes dance lessons and she and her troupe are having a dance recital in June, which she reminds me of every time we talk on the phone. We can't wait and are looking forward to seeing her dance.

Well, time to get dinner started. What's that? What am I making for dinner? Well, pork of course. You
don't stop eating pork just because they called it the Swine Flu. That's just silly.

I mean really...

Monday, March 16, 2009

360 Reasons to Love George

Ok, well, I haven't got exactly 360 reasons to love George, but I do have quite a few. Who's George, you ask? Why, George Foreman of course! Ok, not the actual man, but his Dual Contact grills...specifically the George Foreman 360 Grill. Oh I do love that machine. It caught my eye when it first started to be advertised last year. And yes, in true Linda fashion, I said to anyone who would listen, "I GOTTA get me one of these!"

Apparently Richard was listening. 2 weeks ago he came home with one from Canadian Tire. Sure, I AM the one who told him they were on sale there for a REALLY GREAT PRICE. And sure, I cut the ad from the Canadian Tire Flyer and left it by his breakfast plate. And yes, I DID remind him about the awesome sale when he called me on his lunch break that day. But still....

I immediately took out the manual from the box and read everything it had to say about the machine, about how to cook various foods, and how to clean it. Then I went to the internet and researched everything I could find about it - not much as it seems - and then hunted for recipes, as the manual only has half a dozen or so. Wow, tough to find recipes for that specific grill. S'ok, I found recipes for lots of other dual contact grills.

This grill has 5 removable grill plates. Oh, and before I go any further, disclaimer time. NO, I do not work for George Foreman Grills or any company associated with George Foreman Grills. No I receive nothing for this glowing review of the grill. There, now, where was I...

...oh yes, 5 removable grill plates: two quesadilla plates, two grill plates and a baking plate. What have I made so far? Oh gosh, lets see. Quesadillas, they were great. Chocolate, chocolate chip cookies. Turned out good, but didn't cook them quite long enough, was experimenting. Peanut Butter cookies, they were good, baked long enough. Frozen Pizza, Richard's choice. Was good. Panini sandwiches, followed suggested temperature in manual, shouldn't have, not hot enough, but edible. Oh, boneless skinless chicken breast grilled to a turn! Oh yum, moist and delicious and done in 7 minutes. Breakfast potato patties, to eat with the chicken, yum. Dry Garlic Pork, but forgot to raise the back of the grill to let the grease drip into the little drip pan. Was still good. Oh and the best, I mixed up some Brioche Dough in my Bread Machine, rolled out several pieces of it on the counter, then plunked them in the pre-heated grill and baked them.

Oh my goodness. They are kind of like Brioche Pita Bread. Too Cool! So, what all can you cook in it? Better off asking what can't be cooked in it. You know me, I will try to
cook almost anything in George. Oh it makes wonderful pancakes, but, when you fry and egg in it, you really need to remember to put a tiny bit of oil on the spot where you are going to cook it so it doesn't stick quite so much. It does cook them good though.

I have Brownie mix in the cupboard and tonight I am going to mix it up, then spoon it in rounds onto the pre-heated baking grill pan and bake brownies. Should be good. I also have cornmeal muffin mix and will try that soon as well. Why all the mixes? Well, I experiment with the mix first and then if it works, I make if from scratch, so as not to waste ingredients if it doesn't turn out. Yes, the chocolate chip cookies were from one of those rolls of refrigerator dough from the store and the peanut butter cookies are thanks to a package from good old Betty Crocker.

Tonight for dinner I am using George again. Probably Honey Garlic Chicken Wings, some Sweet Potato Fries and Veggies cooked on the stove. And tomorrow, who knows. Maybe Quesadillas again. Darn but they were good. Chicken, green onions, black olives, Tex/Mex Shredded Cheese. Yup, definitely quesadillas.

And I want to try making Homemade Pizza dough for pizza's too. And then some beef fajita's. Oh and some Burrito's. Then have to try and grill a steak for Richard, that would be good. Hmmmmm, lets see, what else. Focaccia dough baked in George. And a cake. Want to try a cake mix first to see how that turns out. I tried to make a Peach Galette in it, using freezer pie crust, but the crust was just too dry and crumbled apart. Will have to break down and make my own pie dough and try again. It tasted ok, but was in pieces...tiny pieces.

Chocolate Panini; Apple Turnovers; Omelets; French Toast; Grilled Vegetables; thinly sliced potatoes grilled with onions; Hamburgers and grilled onions on grill toasted buns; grilled Peanut Butter and Banana sandwiches; Grilled Cheese and Ham sandwiches; oooooh, Chicken Marmalade....

What's that? What did you say? 12 step program?

Who, me?

Monday, March 2, 2009

Signs, Signs, Everywhere There's Signs...

The Winter from Hell is least for now. The snow is mostly gone from the yard, having stayed for over 2 months. That is the longest we have had snow last in the 23 years we have been on the Island. I don't miss it in the least.

Now the cleanup begins. I was out taking stock today of my plants that usually survive our winters. They don't look good. The best that I can hope for is that all that snow insulated the roots of many of them from the bitter cold. I have to say I was surprised by one that appears to have survived. My mini Carnation in the stern of the garden boat looks green and fit, a good sign. I put that one on my list of plants to purchase more of come spring. My chives survived, but I would expect nothing less from them, grin. My Rosemary, on the other hand, looks very dead, as does my Lavender. I see that the Chamomile is thriving, and the thyme and oregano too. Purple Sage is iffy. Yarrow is coming up - that's one of my favorites, I love the pastel flowers. Many of the different varieties of mint look really bad, but they are hardy so one can only hope the roots survived.

There are signs of spring too. I found a dandelion bud just opening. And tiny Snow Drops are popping up everywhere. Then there is the Little Yellow Somethings pictured above. I know that's not what they are called, I just can't spell the name so always refer to them as Little Yellow Somethings. They have a buttercup-like blossom above a leaf collar. And Richard spotted the Crocuses blooming in the garden yard and outside the fence as well. Soon will be the beautiful bright blue Chianodoxa, also known as Glory of Snow. Daffodils, Narcissus...if the weather holds, in another month there will be cherry blossoms. And in 6 days, we go to Pacific Daylight time. That is always a big lift. The days are getting longer, the weather warmer, and yes, I AM ignoring the weather pundits who are calling for -9 this Friday night. Bah Humbug to them, I say.

And what have I been doing these last couple of weeks since I wrote last? Sigh, well, Richard had a nasty cold thingy. I say thingy because it wasn't really a cold, more of a head and chest infection. Got him to our doctor for antibiotics finally and the very next day...THE VERY NEXT DAY...I came down with it. Had to wait nearly a week to see the doctor myself so it set in, and I have a lung infection, again. Arrrggghhhh! Enough already. I spend a lot of time sleeping, but, being that I am not a good sleeper at the best of times anyway, I guess this is helping me to catch up.

How is my stress level doing, you ask? Better. Of course, the doctor gave me some medication that helps. I don't like taking pills, but have the intelligence to know when I need it. Ergo...anyway, I am doing better.

The dogs on the other hand look like ragamuffins. Richard even took two of them and clipped off their tattered fur for me the other night. Which made a third one, Pippi, quite depressed because he spent so much time with them and made a fuss over them. And believe me, if you have ever had a depressed dog, you know where-of I speak. She lays on the mat by the front door ALL DAY. If we go outside, she is chipper and cheery. Comes back in the house and lays at the door. She is despondent because I spend a lot of the day on my bed and Richard is at work, and, well, who knows. I know what she is going through, having just been there. She has done this before, and it will pass. Meantime I spend a lot of time petting and talking to her and coaxing her to do things. Therapy for both of us, I guess. Richard plans to clip her next, maybe the attention will make her feel better.

Pippi is a clever little thing. It has gotten to the point that Richard and I now spell things around her because she understands so much of what we talk about. For instance, if we are going to take them outside, we allude to it with nods of the head toward the window and spell o-u-t-s-i-d-e. Or if we are going out to the store, we of course spell s-t-o-r-e. That wont last us for long. She already is figuring out that o-u-t means out. And she is a master of body language. I always tuck my pant legs into my socks before I go out to the yard, so they don't get wet in the grass. She figured out what that meant after my doing it only once. I am constantly telling Richard not to make eye contact with her as I swear she can read his mind.

So, I am back. And hopefully this Amoxil antibiotic I am taking does it's job and I get over this !@#$%^&* lung infection quickly. Meanwhile, we have been planning our work in the garden yard, going to move some antique roses from under the bathroom window to over in the corner where the shed meets the house. Then I think one half of that wall will be planted in herbs - it is an east facing wall - and the other half in old fashioned Hollyhocks, a beloved flower of my childhood. Have to put a small fence around whatever we plant, as the dogs love digging for Mole People in that flower bed. Along the south-facing shed I am planting sunflowers this year, the big, tall ones, to feed the birds with next winter.

Time to t-a-k-e the d-o-g-s and g-o o-u-t-s-i-d-e. Why am I spelling it here, you ask? Well, she can spell, so it wouldn't surprise me if she could read too.


Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Update Time

Time for an update.

I have postponed my surgery, again, for about 6 weeks. I am suffering from extreme stress and need to deal with that before safely undergoing major surgery. This last three months have been tough ones for me. First I was sick for a month, then it snowed...and snowed...and got really, really cold...and snowed. I got snowed in, couldn't get out of the yard - let alone the house - and Christmas was a total non-event. So was New Years. All our Christmas plans, first to go to Sooke to be with Hammond, Megan and Rylan,
went out the window.
When the weather forced us to stay home and keep the home fires burning, quite literally, Kate and Jon were going to be here. Then, you guessed it, we had a snow storm and the road was closed so no visit. And it's been all down hill for me since then. Bente couldn't get out of her yard either so she couldn't visit.

Not sleeping, not eating, not doing anything. I know now why my motivation left town for the Baja beaches. It writes that it is coming home soon. I can't wait.

So, I have postponed the surgery, and am dealing with my stress, one day at a time. It is a load off my shoulders not having to worry about it right now. I hope to have it in 6 to 8 weeks, and look forward to having it behind me so I can walk again.

I have my seed catalog's to hand, and spend a lot of time looking through them and dreaming of things to plant in my pots and gardens. As the snow recedes, slowly but it is going, I visualize where things will be.

I bought 10 terracotta colored plastic windowbox planters last fall, for a dollar each on clearance at Walmart. I am going to put them along the shed and, well, the other shed too, and fence and plant them with climbing things. Things like Scarlet Runner Bean, Hyacinth Beans, Asparagus Peas with their cinnamon red blooms and winged pods. The catalog says they have a " prostrate growing habit" but I will force them upwards on wire on the shed. Dwarf Grey Sugar Snow Peas and its two-toned purple blossoms with edible flowers and foliage. Edible when it is young. How cool is that?! Lets see, what else...

...Oh there are purple podded varieties of peas that I would like to grow as well. Think how pretty they would look hanging against the green foliage. And there are also purple podded beans as well as striped red and yellow podded ones.

What's that you ask? What about the dreaded Mole People, Bush Bunnies and Deer? Hah! Already thought of that. I am going to loosely cover the soil in the pots with Landscape Fabric once I plant the seeds. Cover the edges of the fabric with soil to keep creatures from lifting it and making a feast of my seeds and seedlings. When the seedlings press up against the top of the fabric, I will make a tiny X for them to poke through. And, um, then...well, we'll deal with what to do next when we come to it. Haven't got quite that far yet.

As far as the Deer getting over the fence, I dealt with that last year, using old CDs and DVDs. I have to renovate the fence top but it works, so will go with it again. Besides, I have gotten quite attached to the sun zinging off the mirrored disks as they move in the breeze. The Bear? I'm thinkin' water cannon. No, only kidding. Hopefully there will be lots of forage for him in the fields and he will leave my garden alone until fall before I have to deal with him again. Maybe he will move on to greener pastures. Yeah, right.

I am planting my tomatoes in the round, heavy plastic stock water tank that Richard will be moving into the yard as soon as the snow is gone for good. Will position it so that the drain is on the downhill side - the yard slopes downhill at that corner where we will be putting it - and remove the drain so water doesn't build up in it.

The tomatoes I will be planting will be the ones I had such success with last year, and hopefully some new ones. Tumbling Tom, a wonderful cherry tomato. Striped Cavern. Brown Berry which is a Heritage Cherry type. Radiator Charlie's Yellow Mortgage Lifter, one of my favorites! Bull's Heart, an absolutely marvelous red heart shaped tomato with amazing flavor. This year, I will let the indeterminate ones grow only so tall, then prune the tops so they produce larger and more abundant tomatoes instead of putting all their energy into vines.

Of course there will be flowers and herbs interspersed amongst the tomatoes and beans and peas. Lots of Zinnias, Sweet Peas, Poppys, Petunias, Marigolds, Osteospermum...well, you get the idea.

Speaking of Herb plants, I am hoping most of the ones I left in the yard will have survived. And I have to tell you, Mason has done his best to see they do. No, really he has. You see the snow made it easier to reach to the top of the planters when he was walking on it, and, being a male dog, much easier for him to have something to cock his leg on. Only problem is, where he couldn't pee into the pots before the snow, now he can, sigh. I think the Lavender Mint will be history. It seems to be his favorite.

Note to self: Next fall, when moving plants be sure to place all herb pots at a higher level, just in case we get snow again next winter. I am hoping that the rain we get will wash the urine out of the soil...

...of course, you never know, do you. It might make that old Lavender Mint just thrive.

I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Hope Springs...

It's still cold and we still have snow today. I keep hoping and praying I will wake up to +10, sunshine and rapidly melting snow. It doesn't happen. I have stopped checking the weather report on the Wetter Network as they rarely get it right. After all, what do you expect from a company that is thousands of miles away.

I am still in waiting. Waiting for my surgery that is scheduled for the 6th of February. I went to get bloodwork done last Friday only to discover that I was supposed to have done a 10 hour fast prior to it. Doctor never mentioned anything about fasting when he handed me the lab form, sigh. So, now I go tomorrow at the crack of dawn to avoid having a 2 hour wait in the tiny lab waiting room. Then Tuesday it is off to St. Joseph's in Comox to see the Pre-Admition nurse. Then Wednesday more tests and Thursday, if I am not too tired, up early to get my hair cut really, really short so I don't have to worry about it while I am recuperating. I still haven't been out to get groceries, so sometime this week will have to do that.


I know I had no control over getting sick last November and missing out on having my surgery then. Things happen for a reason and our very cold, very snowy weather was the reason. But, there is still that small part of me that says I would have been 2 months post surgery, all through with physio and back to driving and walking again if I hadn't gotten sick. I don't dwell on it. No point.

But still.

I have been browsing this years seed catalogues both online and those I could get through the mail. I see so many flowers and vegetables I want to try, but I have to be realistic. I don't have the space in the garden yard. Well, I do, but, what I mean is, I have the garden boat, lots and lots and lots of black pots, and the big stock waterer that Richard is going to put in the yard and fill with dirt for me, when it warms up. I have so many seeds already that need to be planted that it's silly to think about buying more. Yet, you know, I will buy some more. Just a few.

There are some really interesting flower seeds one can buy. I am amazed by the difference in price from catalogue to catalogue. And the number of seeds per packet for those prices. Take for instance Calendula, one of my favorite annuals. West Coast Seeds - a lower mainland BC company - has 120 seeds per gram and one gram costs $2.79 cdn. Lindenburg Seeds from Brandon, Manitoba, has 50 to 100 seeds per packet and a packet is $1.25 cdn. Vesey Seeds from PEI has 100 seeds for $1.95 cdn, while William Dam Seeds from Ontario sells them for $1.75 cdn for 100 to 200 seeds. And South of the border in Greenwood South Carolina, is Park Seeds - a favorite of mine - which sells them for 100 seeds for $1.45 US if you purchase it as a culinary herb seed (which in reality it is) or 50 seeds for $1.50 to $1.95 US for annual flowers, depending on variety.

Bear in mind, Calendula is exceedingly easy to grow, self-seeds in warmer climates, blooms and blooms and blooms, is cold tolerant, is good in salads or teas or in the bathwater. I use it to make a quick and easy healing salve that works good for cold sores if you are prone to them - thank goodness I am not. My point is, why such a variation in price and amount of seeds?

I did save some seeds over from last year. Dill, Calendula, Scarlet Runner Beans and other assorted dried beans from my Soup Mix I planted. Abutilon, also known as Flowering Maple. Poppy seeds. Coreopsis. Zinnias. I only hope they will germinate and grow. You know of course that I will be haunting the nursery departments at Walmart and Canadian Tire as soon as the spring plants come in for my petunias, pansies and geraniums. And I will be at Naesgaard's and Colyn's as soon as I can. Oh and in the late summer, Canadian Tire puts all it's remaining bedding plants on sale and I get such great deals. I mean, 25 cents a 4" pot. How can I resist!

Last fall, as we were moving as many of my plant pots into the back porch as we could, I accidentally broke
off a piece of a geranium. Anyone who grows geraniums on a regular basis knows that you can just stick the broken branch in a jar of water and it will root, thereby starting a new plant for you. This I did. I set it out in the pantry beside the window near the sink and every so often added fresh water to it. The geranium piece remained alive, even through all the bitter cold weather. Even though it was beside that very cold window.

Last week I happened to notice that the silly piece of geranium, had blossom buds coming. This week, behold...two of them have opened to show lovely white blossoms with red anthers on the end of the white stamens. In all this cold and snow, a promise of Spring.

I'll take it.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Day to Remember

Another sunny day today, but cold, as usual right now. Wetter Network is calling for +7. Riiiiggghht. Not gonna happen. Currently it is -2. Too much snow yet to warm up that high.

Last night I got a chance to use my webcam and talk to Hammond, Megan and Rylan in Sooke. That was just wonderful! What fun. Rylan is already webcam savvy and I got a big kick out of her. If she goes off camera for some reason, she says "One moment" then disappears. What a polite child she is. She sang me a song - her own creation - and showed me some of her dance moves she has learned in the dance class she attends. She told me about her day, asked where her Grandpa Richard was, and made a card with stickers on it. I really look forward to further sessions, and to seeing Gina on the webcam when she is at her father's house in Edmonton. That will be such a treat when I am recovering from my surgery.

Yes, I got a call last week and my surgery date is set for February 6th. I am not holding my breath, don't want to be disappointed again if there is another postponement. Tomorrow is doctor appointment day for my pre-op checkup. Then next week is an appointment with the pre-admission nurse up at St. Joseph's Hospital in Comox. I am keeping positive, and very much looking forward to being able to walk normally again, instead of weeble-ing all over the place. My surgeon has been in Afghanistan working for several months. Perhaps he has developed some new procedure; one can only hope. It's not a pleasant operation, but you are so drugged up you don't care. Oh, and did I mention that you are awake - as awake as a drugged person can be - during the Total Knee Replacement Surgery? Believe me, I would far rather be awake during this surgery than under a general anesthetic.

I took the dogs outside onto the crusty snow in the garden yard again today. Molly started bugging about 11:30 to go out. They love the sunshine and can't wait to get through the door tippy-toeing all over, but don't complain when I call them back in. These dogs love to eat green grass, looking like a flock of sheep grazing a field in the summer. They don't eat it because they have a tummy ache, they just like the taste of it, especially first thing in spring.

You have no idea how pitiful it is to watch them trying to find grass that isn't frozen to eat right now. There is one spot way over in the corner between the house and the shed that the sun hits and warms. There they found a tiny patch of thawed out grass to munch, jostling for position to find the best blades.

A flock of Robins joined us, landing in the Birch tree in the garden yard. They looked as cold as I felt. What can you feed them in the winter when it is that cold? They eat worms, and while I don't mind hanging up seed filled suet blocks for the other birds, I draw the line and purchasing live worms from the fishing store to supply the Robins. Sorry guys.

The best part of today was watching the Inauguration of President Barack Obama of the United States. That was truly an amazing event. Not only is he going to be good for the US, but I believe he will be good for Canada and the rest of the world as well. Good on ya, Mr. President! But boy, don't you think they were cold standing there in the frigid weather for so long?

This afternoon I made Cranberry Scones again. My ambition re-appeared for a short while, but my motivation is still AWOL. The Scones were yummy. I put some fresh grated orange zest in them and it really gave them zip. I think Scones are one of my favorite things to make and eat. They are quick and easy and nearly always turn out just perfect.

I long for the day when I am recovered from my surgery, the days are longer and much, much warmer, and I can pull my Outdoor Gas Oven back out into the yard to start cooking and baking again. Right now it sits on the deck looking cold and forlorn. I can identify.

If I hadn't got sick last November, my surgery would be 2 months behind me, as well as my Physio Therapy. I would be still walking with a cane, but well on my way to total recovery. Oh well, soon. Soon.

I really look forward to gardening this year.

And driving down to Sooke to see Hammond, Megan and Rylan.

And Kate in Sidney.

And walking normally again.

Yeah. Soon.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

I've Got Sunshine....

...On A Foggy Day!

The sun is shining! Oh it is so good to see it finally, has been a long time, believe me. You can't help but feel a bit better when you see sunshine, even if there is still snow everywhere. The dogs have been bugging me to go outside all morning.

Mom! It sunny Mom. we go out mom?
come on mom, outside?
mom, mom, mom, mom
pleeze mom?

I take them out into the small pen, off the dog room at the back of the house, to let them get used to it gradually and control their access. And I nearly get knocked down in their rush through the patio door. Good Grief! Yes, I know it has been a while since they have been out, but gee, patience guys!

I was concerned about them wading through snow up to their furry little armpits. Silly me. The snow has a very hard crust on top of it which supports their weight as they walk, er, that is, RUN, around on it. Boy are they a happy bunch. I stand on the step - the very icy step - and don't move. Everyone else runs around leaving pee-mail everywhere for all the creatures interested in learning about how the Bichons have fared over this last 6 weeks of nasty weather. It doesn't take long though for the cold to seep into their paws and for them to ask to go back in the house.

Soon they are curled up by the fire in the kitchen, warming their toes and other, er, ah, extremities, exhausted after the excitement of the outdoors. I, too, am in the warm kitchen, trying to decide what to do with myself. The TV is tuned to CNN to get the reports on the run-up to the inauguration. I still haven't found my motivation and ambition so will have to force myself to do something. I think I hear Cranberry scones calling to me. Will let you know.

The Cranberry Scones are made and baked and PERFECT! Oh yum, are they good, just what I needed. Light, buttery and flavorful. I make the same recipe most of the time, one I adapted many, many years ago from a tiny Robin Hood Flour Cookbook. When my kids were very young - and bear in mind my daughter Gina turns 36 tomorrow - I found a coupon on the side of a bag of Robin Hood Flour to order a cookbook from the company for 25 or 50 cents, I can't remember exactly, plus postage. It had maybe 30 to 40 pages of recipes, for pancakes, waffles, scones, quickbreads etc. I LOVED that book, used it constantly, literally wore it out. It is tattered, badly ingredient-stained, pages disintegrating and illegible...yes, I still have it. Wish I had a good copy of it, so I could put all the recipes on computer, sigh. Anyway, it is the best scone recipe ever, and if you have the cookbook, let me know, I would love a photocopy of it.

The dogs gather round when I remove the Cranberry Scones from the oven, muzzles tossed back, sniffing the delicious aroma. They pace the room, waiting for them to cool. Silly puppies, they aren't getting any. I eat 3. Usually I divide the dough into 8 wedges but this time I decide to make them smaller and divide it into 12 wedges, so I am not quite a greedy pig.

It's time to try the garden yard on for size. The kids stand at the door quivering with excitement as I dress in jacket, hat and gloves, and shoot through the gate when I open it. The snow is crispy as they trot across it, heading for the far side of the garden boat. It has been weeks since they have been out here and they enjoy every second in the sun.

My vantage point on the deck is shaded, no sun here for me. Why don't I walk out to the boat with them, you ask? Well, aside from using a cane for the bad leg thingy, I don't have any winter boots. Why not? Because you usually don't need them out here. The closest thing most people have to winter boots is high top rubber boots, you know, the ones with the red strip around the top. And I don't even have those, opting instead to just wear my running shoes.

Time to herd them back inside.
With the exception of Mason and Rosie, they all tiptoe as quick as they can across the uneven, slippery landscape back to the house. Rosie just wanders about following her nose, and Mason...Mason just loves to stand in the sunshine on a bare patch of grass, down by the garden boat, watching for whatever he might see. I have to bribe them with the promise of cheese to get them to come in. Rosie will do almost anything for cheese. Now they are curled up by the fire again, having eaten their cheese treat, dozing, dreaming their doggy dreams.

Those photos at the top of the page, aren't snow photos, they are sunshine photos. Albeit, poorly taken. I only had my cell phone camera with me, not thinking to take my real camera out with me. Oh well, at least you can see the sun shining on the yard.

Of course, two sunny summer garden boat photos to remind me of warmer days.

And remember, if you see my motivation and ambition, send them home. Yes, it seems ambition sneaked off too. I really need them back.


Time to make dinner, Richard will be home from work at 5pm and I am making Chicken Cordon Bleu. No, no, nothing fancy, just heat and eat. Yup, it's premade, frozen raw, bought from the store, you put it in the oven and bake it yourself. Have leftover rice in the fridge to go with it and will cook some frozen peas and carrots.

Like I said, no ambition, no motivation.


Friday, January 16, 2009

Angels on Wingback

I can finally see that the snow is melting...very slowly. There are larger bare patches appearing under the trees, the driveway is bare, although muddy, and here and there around the yard you can see green grass. It still will be month end before it is all gone though. And no, the Wetter Network still hasn't got our day time temperatures right yet, sigh. For instance, today was supposed to be +7 and sunny. Yeah, right. Try cold, foggy and +1. As long as we have the snow, we won't be having the warm weather they keep forecasting. Oh, well. It's REALLY nasty elsewhere in the country, so I will settle for this foggy cold.

My motivation is still missing and no one has seen it yet. I still think it is on a sunny warm beach somewhere, drinking Mojitos and getting a great tan. I sure wish it would come home. Sometimes I think I see it, but it does not last long. I am still posting photo`s of warm weather, not snow and cold, just to remind myself the sun is out there somewhere and will return soon. Really it will.

The American Presidential Inauguration is next week, and I will be watching it. Will be a lovely spectacle, worth watching for it`s uniqueness. Well, after all, I am half American, on my father's side, coming from nearly 375 years of American Heritage.

If you notice the funny apostrophe's on this page, it is because suddenly my keyboard is using French Characters, really, really p*ssing me off, and I am not sure how to get my English Characters back. How annoying. When I tried to type one-half as a fraction, it came out like this: 1é2. I make a scrunchy face. Time to wrap this up and fix the keyboard. Update: fixed the problem. Don't know how for sure. Just shut down Flock Browser and restarted it and it was fixed.

I don't think there is anyone in the world right now who hasn't heard about the miracle that happened in New York yesterday. Really, I don't. So there is no need to recap the story that every news feed on TV, in print and on the net has been talking about non-stop. A miracle happened. It really did, and whether or not you believe in a God, or whether or not you believe in Angels, you have to believe that something - or someone - was at work yesterday helping that marvelous pilot put that plane down in the water as if it was an everyday routine. Yes, he is a former USAF fighter pilot. Yes, according to NBC Nightly News, the only thing he hasn't flown is the Space Shuttle. Yes, he has flown gliders and that more than likely assisted him with his water landing. But still...

...I flash on a host of Angels, wings unfurled and straining to keep the plane level and on a straight trajectory for the surface of the Hudson River. And I flash on Angels in the cockpit, one of them leaning over the Captain's chair, whispering in his ear, coaching him in his responses to the plane and helping him focus on the job at hand. I flash on another whispering to the 1st Officer and still others, whispering to the rest of the Flight Crew, keeping them calm and they in turn helping to keep the passengers calm.

And after the river landing, an Angel whispering to the Crew member to go to the front of the plane and open the door there, not to the door at the back of the plane which would have flooded the cabin with water.

One thing is crystal clear. Soon, in a revised copy of the Dictionary, if you look up the word
"Hero" you will see the following words:
See also:
Captain Chesley B. 'Sully' Sullenberger III.

'nough said.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Bear Me No Mind

I know, I know, I said I wasn't going to post anymore photo's of snow. I lied. Get over it.

I am posting these because they mostly are about the bear and his attack on the garbage shed. Remember I said in my last Blog post:
And I flash on..., waking up in the night to the sound of the Cat starting up and an Island Black Bear going for a joy ride across the fields with the big yellow John Deer Crawler Tractor, churning up snow as he goes.

Well, Richard went out a couple of days ago to start up the Cat and scrape snow out of the driveway, only to find that that annoying little Island Black Bear had been back. "Hey," he hollered through the front door, "that bear was back and he was trying to figure out how to start up the Cat and move it away from the shed so he could get at the garbage again! There are tracks all around the Cat."

"Um hmm," I replied. "Didn't you read what I said in my Blog?"

"Nope," he replied, "haven't read it for a while." So I made him go in and read the post.

"Yeah," Richard responds, "that's what he was trying to do! Give me your camera, I'll go take photo's for you," he said and went back out to do just that. You can see his tracks in the photo's above, as well as the trail of garbage leading off towards the creek. The other photo's are just there to remind me what warm weather really looks like.

Richard scraped snow from the drive, then headed off in the Cat across the fields to the other side of the farm to clean the barn. When he hadn't returned by 5pm - having left at 1pm - I called his cell to check on him. He informed me he'd be home shortly, would probably be walking back. "Aren't you bringing the Cat home?" I asked. "No, I can walk," he stated. "But...what about the garbage shed? Don't you need to put the bucket of the Cat against the door to hold it shut?" I queried. "Oh," was his startled reply. "Um, yeah, I guess I do need to bring it home, don't I. I forgot."


Bente says that none of the bears in the Valley are sleeping as the food supply is still too good. There has been no garbage pickup in town and around the district for over 3 weeks because of all the snow, so the bears are foraging in it. Tough to store 3 weeks of garbage in your house, gak.

The snow has been so heavy and so deep that it has knocked down all my plum trees behind the house and on the edge of the field. I doubt if they will recover. Once the snow melts, we will go out and assess the damage. It has crushed the Wild Rose hedge and the Himalayan Blackberries are flat - although they will come back. The Quince bushes look really sick, and we had a lot of them. I have a feeling we will be losing some of them as well. These are trees and bushes that have been here for a long, long time, much longer than we have, and we've been here 20 years. It's a shame to lose them this way.

The plums were small, round greenish-gold orbs that were tart-sweet. They made a bilious looking jelly but boy did it taste good, and we loved to eat them out of hand. The Quince were big yellow globes that smelled like Pineapples, and made delicious pies and jellies. Quince were one thing the bears and birds left alone, because the are so astringent when raw. I know the Roses will come back quickly as will the Blackberries. The whole lot used to make it impossible to see the field. Now you could nearly walk right through them to it.

The snow is finally, albeit very slowly, starting to recede. I can see a bare patch here and there under trees in the garden yard and under the work tables out there. I feel sorry for the poor Robins trying desperately to find a worm that didn't freeze to death during the cold spell. They will eat the berries in the
Holly trees, but that can't be too nutritious. We hang suet blocks out for the birds, as I've said before, but Robins really aren't seed eaters.

The Wetter Network is calling for it to be warmer and sunny this week, rising to a high of +10 for Saturday. I don't believe them. They haven't been right yet so far this winter. Our temperature has not been over +4 yet, while they keep forecasting +7 or +8. Not happening. Fool me once......

I've lost my motivation, can't find it anywhere at all.
I think it went on vacation from the weather and forgot to tell me. Probably to the beach at Baja. Sitting there under an umbrella, shaded from the sun, sipping frosty Mojito's. Watching people from behind it's sunglasses, reading the latest Janet Evanovich novel...sigh. I have no ambition to do anything, have to force myself to do the things I enjoy, like baking bread or cooking. I need some sunshine.

So if you happen to be passing by on the beach at Baja, and notice my missing motivation, please send her back home. I need her back.