Friday 30 June 2017

The Village White Rabbits

A property that I drive past each morning as I leave our little village has some cute residents. These are the young members of the family.

I'm not actually sure how many babies there are. I have seen more than one grey one at a time and I'm still uncertain of how many white ones there are. Mom and Dad are white and grey. They are what I would describe as semi wild. I couldn't get very close to them to take these pictures, but they are out in the open most of the day.

For quite a few years, this village has had several white rabbits. This is how it all started:

A family that lived above an old store on the main street, moved away rather quickly. It was rumoured that they had a number of pets, rabbits included. Instead of finding homes for their pets, they simply let them loose. There were rabbits in a few different locations in the village. Some spots were lots where people kept cars, people's yards, in the undergrowth close to our home, under sheds...
There were always white rabbits. Some of them had black spots. One had a black spot over one eye. We called that one Patch. One lady around the corner bought big bags of carrots and enticed them out from under her back shed every evening. We would go for walks and see these rabbits. One rabbit had a habit of running across the road from our property to our neighbours a few times a day.

What we couldn't understand was how they didn't become prey for all sorts of predators. Every spring, more rabbits would show up, whether they were some of the original ones, or their offspring. I hadn't spotted any this spring and thought for sure this was the end, until I noticed the "parents" on the property I mentioned earlier. It's the lot for a local plumbing and heating company. It wasn't too long until I started to see the young ones.

I certainly see lots of the regular wild cottontail rabbits and unfortunately some of them fall victim to our tabby cat. But it is the white ones that make this such an interesting phenomenon. Our cat has never brought any of those home. Now I just enjoy the "rabbit spotting" game that I play when I drive past.

On a whole different note, I believe we are at the forty days and forty nights stage of rain here. I'm pretty sure we have had rain every single day for what feels like three weeks. We've been fortunate, but some areas have experienced flooding and short term evacuation. The ground is so wet, I can't even step into the garden to weed. Plants are growing like crazy and if we start to get some heat, it will be a jungle out there.

Here are some raindrops on delphinium buds. I'm hoping that when they open, they won't get beaten down too much with more rain. I do love delphiniums.

It is our Canada Day weekend coming up. I'm not sure where we will go to see fireworks, but I'm looking forward to it. I will try to take pictures.

I am adding this about 10 minutes after I hit publish: it is raining. again.

Saturday 24 June 2017

Last Time, I Swear

So, I borrowed a fun idea from Cro's blog.  He had been making jam and pictured a jar of it. The label said "Finest" which I thought was great! So I sat with my fine Sharpie marker (love Sharpies) and looked up synonyms for the word 'best'. Here are the labels for my strawberry jam jars.

Is my jam, in fact, worthy of those labels? Nah, it's just the recipe that comes with the Certo (the thickening agent), but it makes all the slogging worth it!

I am now done blogging about strawberries. The end.

Wednesday 21 June 2017

Strawberries and Snowbirds

At what point do you say, "Enough" ?  With our wet beginning to the growing season, my strawberries have gone a little bit nuts. I pick every day after work. I have lost count how many medium sized freezer bags I have filled. I have made two batches of jam (yes, I gave a jar to the neighbour with the chainsaw), and I made rhubarb/strawberry crisp last night to take to work for a co-worker's retirement get together. This is my life:

I just can't bring myself to waste any berries. There are still so many wonderful berries out in the garden, but I actually heard the kids complaining that there wasn't enough room in the freezer to put the ice cream away because of my berries! I'll take a big bowl to work tomorrow for people to just eat out of hand.

Tonight my daughter convinced me to walk away from the berries and go with her and my husband to watch The Snowbirds. This is Canada's 150th birthday celebration and the Snowbirds came to our little municipal airport to put on a fabulous show. They are Canadian Forces 431 Air Demonstration Squadron and they've been around as long as I can remember. They were established in 1967 and have been part of airshows all over the country. They didn't disappoint and the roads were lined with vehicles. People pulled over, brought out lawn chairs and watched. It was free to watch and the weather was perfect with clouds clearing and a beautiful blue sky giving a perfect background. Here are some pictures from today's early evening show.

Do you see that little diamond cluster between our heads? Those are the planes.

Any other Canadian bloggers familiar with the Snowbirds? They're kind of a Canadian icon.

I'm typing this as I'm watching World of Dance with my daughter (who danced for many years). It's the one with J. Lo on it. I can't believe some of these routines! Some of the dancers are so young, but so good!

Saturday 17 June 2017

Today, June 17 /17

I'm not a believer in reincarnation (but my father was, and that's a WHOLE other post, if not separate blog), however, if I were to come back as an animal, I would want to be a house cat.

No cares in the world:

Honestly. I would love to be able to sleep like this. (not necessarily in this position, but you get the idea).

Serenity. Trust.

Ahh, but don't let that fool you. As we were pulling out to go to a car show (more on that later), movement caught my eye. Here is my idiot cat, Scooter-the-cat-with-no-tail, up on the arbour. He is meowing and shifting around, clearly with no plan. I don't even know what he was doing up there.

The dismount was not graceful in the least.

That is husband's arm in the bottom left hand corner. I take great pictures.

So, as I was saying, we were on our way to a car show. A British car show, to be precise. It was about an hour and a half away (?). For anyone in Ontario, you know how the weather turned out today, don't you? But we managed to get to the car show and walk around for about an hour, before the sky grew ominous and the heavens opened up. For the record, I have zero interest in cars. All I care about is the make, and by that I mean, for example, "It's a Toyota". I care nothing about letter or numbers that come after that. I do not care what kind of engine is under the hood. Cars need to be reliable and they must go. That's it. That's all I care about. Oh, and can I get a shrub in the back?

So, husband walked around and talked to people about letters and numbers and I stood patiently, offering to take a picture with my phone (because I take great pictures). This was a Father's Day thing I was doing. For example, this is what I saw today:

I saw a line of cars that were some different colours with owners sitting on lawn chairs. Husband saw specific makes and models and years with such and such rims, and such and such blah blah blah..

I was asked to take a picture of this.
Ah, yes. I can understand. (No, I can't, nor do I care). I was secretly glad for the rain.

Speaking of rain, it has since POURED. Seriously poured. When I was watching tv back home, I was even interrupted by a red screen and a severe thunderstorm/tornado warning. Well, no tornadoes, but we have had a ton of rain and it continues as I type this.

Yesterday, we were having a coffee on the porch (yes, literally) and our neighbour was returning home, so husband asked if perhaps next weekend, if he wasn't too busy, he might bring his chainsaw over and help take down that partially fallen limb, as well as a tree which has been dying a slow death. Husband did not expect him to come this weekend, as it was Father's Day.

Imagine our surprise when we drove home from the car show and saw that both jobs were done, wood neatly stacked. I will be dropping off a jar of homemade jam when I make it later this week.

Thursday 15 June 2017

Raindrops on Roses (or peonies)

Our lovely heat wave was followed by lots of rain. I've been picking strawberries every day, trying to get them before birds (?), chipmunks (?) do. The berries are lovely and big. Here is what was on my counter this evening.

Because of the rain, many of them have been splashed with dirt, but I wash them and freeze them, so that isn't a problem. I also made this for myself for dessert. Have you tried these meringue nests before? I like them, but husband doesn't really care for them. He just had a bowl of strawberries with a little whipped cream.

Not only does the heat and the rain make the strawberries swell and ripen, it has also been a boost to the flower beds. Here's what is blooming now:

The white peonies bloom first. Unfortunately, they suffered a bit in all the rain. Some are a sodden mess, but the ones that had only just opened faired better.

The pink peonies are just starting. I love how soft the petals are and the fragrance is heavenly.

Mock orange has to be one of the most fragrant shrubs. The smell makes me think of my Aunt Jean and Uncle Earl's place where we would gather for family get-togethers.

These are the flowers close up. I don't know how to describe the scent. Maybe like cherries.

This is another cranesbill (hardy geranium) which I think is called Johnson's Blue. It doesn't spread, is on the taller side, and the colour is just beautiful. However, part way through the summer it looks gangly and rather ugly, so I usually cut it back.

My one and only fox glove, although I try so hard to have foxgloves. They just don't last. The periwinkle blue plant in the background is spiderwort. I first saw spiderwort at a garden called Larkwhistle up on the Bruce Peninsula and knew I had to have some. Mine have never been as big and luscious as the ones I saw, but I still like them.

This is called gasplant.  Apparently, the gases given off by the blossoms can be lit to a tiny flame. I have not tried. I only have the one clump.

In this shrub border, the weigela and ninebark are both blooming very well this year.

Gerald, my Easter Island Head Guy is adorned with dappled willow (I think there is another name) and weigela.

Unfortunately, with all the rain, the limb of this Manitoba maple got so heavy, it gave way. Thankfully there was mostly just lawn underneath.

These trees are not the strongest and we've had branches come down before. We did not plant these trees. They grow like weeds along the edge of our property. We will need to ask our neighbour to come over with his handy dandy chainsaw. Then we will have a bit more firewood for next year, and the smaller branches, we will just burn.

Well, that's the week. I'll be picking strawberries and freezing more through the weekend. It is coming up to Father's Day, of course. I don't know if we will be able to get both kids home at the same time, but we'll try to work something out. Present is bought. He wants roast beef and Yorkshire pudding. Help me. I tried to do Yorkshire pudding a couple of times before but it isn't quite right. Personally, I can't stand it, all sopped up with gravy, but he has fond memories. I wonder if M&M Meats sells frozen ones? There will be strawberry, rhubarb pie, or crisp for dessert. Daughter just texted with information about a British Car Show this weekend. I'm sure husband would like that! TTFN!

Saturday 10 June 2017

plant matter

Oh my goodness (that's not actually what I want to say) I was 3/4 of the way done writing a post when my curser was jumping around the screen like it does and the combination of me hitting a key and where the curser was deleted the whole thing. Allow me to try again...

So, I have not yet planted my vegetable garden but my goal is to be done by the end of this weekend. I went to our sweet little green house at the edge of our village this morning before things pick up for the Canada 150 year celebration down at the community center. I purchased vegetable plants (tomato, cucumber, peppers, lettuce, basil, parsley) for immediate gratification, seed potatoes and onion sets.
I already had a big tomato plant and one cucumber from a fund raiser. They have been sitting on the back porch waiting patiently for me to get my act in gear.

The weather is supposed to be delightfully hot today ( I NEVER complain about the heat). Here are some pictures I took this morning of what is currently blooming.

This cranesbill is of medium - tall height and behaves itself pretty well, staying in a nice clump.

This cranesbill is low and spreading, but fills in spaces very well. It is hardy beyond belief.

Variegated weigela - this one is so pretty with soft pinks and white. Here is a closer look:

I planted this weigela a year ago (?) and it is just beginning to burst with colour.

It sits in front of what I call my lilac tree but I'm not certain of what it is. It was a gift many years ago. It smells amazing, and attracts bees and butterflies. We watched a swallowtail a couple of days ago.

I am always happy when the Siberian irises are in bloom. They are one of my favourite. I had them in my wedding bouquet 26 years ago.

Up close and personal -

As I was walking around the back, past the strawberry bed, formerly known as my vegetable garden, I caught sight of this!!

So exciting!!
Obviously, someone beat me to it. Snail? Bird? Don't know, but I picked it and washed it off and ate it anyway! I think I picked all of 6 or 7 berries, but I'm happy to know they're starting.

Tonight is Prom night. Tall skinny boy needed new everything: pants, dress shoes, black socks, belt, shirt and pink tie to go along with his girlfriend's pretty dress. Pants needed hemming, I've sent him to go pick up the corsage he ordered, I have meatballs in a crockpot for pre-prom gathering, and I'll have my phone at my bedside to pick him up from the after-prom gathering at god-knows-what-time. Mother of the year award.

Wednesday 7 June 2017

Simple Pleasures

For a very long time, I was on a quest for happiness and joy. I would read books, watch PBS programmes, find out what made people genuinely happy... In the end, I figured out that joy is a high, the same way sadness is a low, but it is the in between in which we spend most of our time. That in between can be described as contentment. There are many, many times that I am truly contented, like a fat upside down cat in a sunbeam. So many things make me contended, but usually it is just the simple things.

Tonight, I was out on my back porch, feeling the nice warm temperature of the day, looking around at the gorgeous thick green of everything, turning sausages on the barbecue and the delicious smell of that, a decent work day done, birds singing, things just "good". Not ecstatically joyous, but just good, contented. I think if we can strive for contentment on a regular basis, we can live a pretty good life.

Here are some more things that made me smile:

This is my first oriental poppy of the season. I saw it from down the road as I was driving toward my house, it was so eye catching.  Gorgeous.

I don't have many lupins, but I do love them. They are in their prime right now. Want a closer look?

Look at those colours! Isn't nature amazing?

Have a lovely, contented mid-week, all.

Saturday 3 June 2017

June 2nd, beautiful June

June really is the best month. Birds are in full force, flowers are just starting to bloom, plants are lush and green, the heat (usually) is just right.

Today started off well. I attended the Fireman's Breakfast, a fund raiser in our little village. My daughter was there as part of her job with the Fun Squad at the radio station. $10.00 bought me a breakfast I couldn't possibly finish and all money going to a good cause, I am sure. I got to visit a bit with my neighbours and a colleague who has since retired and is loving it.

Remember when I wrote last Sunday about a good kind of tired after a day of bending and squatting and kneeling and walking? (No? You don't hang on my every word??) Anyway, the result of that is a partially weeded flower bed and a wrecked knee. I can't believe I have injured myself somehow in just one day. Now I am very hesitant to do anything that requires squatting or kneeling (yes, I did use a kneeling pad). This would never have been an issue 15 years ago. So my flower beds taunt me. Maybe if I got a low stool to sit on?

Since my fuschias hanging on the porch have been attracting so many hummingbirds, I thought it was probably time to get out my hummingbird feeder and make some syrup to put in it. As I was getting out the bag of white sugar, I honestly had this thought that maybe I should cut back on sugar for the hummingbirds, that I shouldn't be so liberal in my bird sugar consumption! Like the metabolism of something that flies so quickly its wings are a blur has to worry about weight gain! I've always read and heard that a three to one ratio for hummingbird syrup (at least the first bottle, to attract them) is good. I do not use red food colouring, as used to be the practise. The bottle that I use is red glass.

After rototilling my vegetable garden a while back, life got busy, temperatures got colder, and the rain came down. So I have yet to put a single vegetable seed, or seed potato in the ground. I have one tomato plant and one cucumber plant that I purchased at another fund raiser sitting on the back deck, patiently waiting. So, I got out my basket of seeds.

I'll have a look and see if any of them are viable for this year. Do you use seed packets for more than one year? Or do you buy fresh every year? I never use all of my seeds each year, so usually have leftovers. I buy tomato plants, rather than starting them from seed, although some years, I replant rogue tomato plants that have sprouted up from the compost, or in the garden itself.

I'll figure out what I need for this year and buy some things this weekend.

So, we definitely have a raccoon. Not just one raccoon, but mama and babies. They live in the big old spruce tree. It is right outside our bedroom window so there have been evenings that I have heard her reading them a bedtime story!! (If I could understand raccoon, I'm sure that's what it is!)

Twice now, I have walked out onto the porch, look up when I hear a scratchy sound, and see mom descending the tree. This has been in the middle of the day, as well as the morning. Aren't they supposed to be nocturnal?? She runs away when I make the universal "get out of here, wild animal" hissy sound. She is BIG, by the way. We really need to trap and relocate her, but we can't do that until babies are out doing their thing, so we can get everyone. We don't want to be responsible for taking away a mother with babies still depending on her. As I've said before, raccoons are incredibly destructive. At a more nuisance level, they tip over my water buckets, rip down my bird feeders, and make muddy pawprints all over the cement pool deck. They have also been known to take up residence in people's attics and create all kinds of problems in homes, sheds, or garages.

Does anyone out there have a good trimmer / whipper snipper? My reliable one bit the dust today. The inner mechanisms have cracked and it chewed up and spit out the last of its plastic cord. We have a gas operated one, but it is way too heavy for me and we don't have the shoulder strap for it. I did have an electric one, but our property is one acre, and so playing with extension cords (three attached together!) is ridiculous and just makes me mad before I even begin, as well, the cord kept popping out of the machine itself.

With the amount of rain, and (I hope) heat, our property will be a jungle if it is not kept trimmed. My husband said, I hope jokingly, that he would buy me a new one for my birthday. Don't you dare!

I shall leave you with this June iris from my garden.