Sunday, December 29, 2013

Getting Ready for 2014

Well, another new year is upon us - it will be here in a matter of just days now!  In anticipation of 2014 and all it will bring, I'm spending a little time looking back at 2013 to see what I will try and do, and to do differently, in the new year ahead.

As always, I will strive to be more patient and more giving.  I think the thing I regret most in 2013 was treating people I love with less patience than I should have. Once something is done it is too late to take it back.  Patience and tolerance are things I think I will always be working on within myself.  I think this year I will also try to be more patient with and tolerant of myself.  Other people give me the benefit of their patience and tolerance - so why should I treat myself with anything less? 

I wonder: What kind of place would this world be, if we learned how to treat ourselves well, and then strove to treat others with that same amount of love and respect?

I am working to change things - how I do things, how I see things... about myself and about other people.  I will try to love myself more - and to love myself for who I am and not for who I think I should be.  I will continue to set goals for myself - physical, emotional, financial and spiritual. I would like to take a course or perhaps attend some sort of seminar... I'm just not sure what at this point.  Practically speaking, I should look at taking something that will allow me to work on my home - maybe some sort of course on wiring or construction... I'm just not certain what at this time.  The beauty of today is that I have a whole year to plan for. A whole year of days to look forward to.

I cried less, and laughed more in 2013.  That is a good thing.  I want to laugh even more in 2014. I want to feel a small gem of joy every day.  I want to look forward not only to the big days, but to the small ones as well.  

It is time.  Time to pull out the red pen and the good paper.  Time to write out my intentions for 2014.

With love across the waters...

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Holy Crap - Where Did November Go??

I am dismayed that November is almost gone!

I've been playing catch-up with yard work and winter home and garden prep projects (and some visiting, truth be told) and November has breezed past me in a flash!

The bathroom renovation project is very nearly done... most of the floor mouldings are installed, most of the corner trim is also in - the few pieces that aren't now in are waiting until the bathroom window has been replaced - which (aside from the door) will, for me, anyhow, signal the end of the bathroom project.  I still have a little patching, painting and staining to do, bot those things I will take on as winter progresses and I am not feeling the mad push out be outside doing outside things while the weather still holds.

We have been having an utterly GLORIOUS autumn here.  Clear and sunny days (though the chill is now officially upon us) with cold and clear nights - leaving heavy frost on trees and leaves (and car wind shields) but the dry and the cold has also kept the streets (where I am walking Jasmine in the wee early hours of the morning) relatively ice free and so our walks are being accomplished in relative ease.

The yard has undergone (most of) its autumnal leaf denuding and I have raked said leaves up and placed them into my raised garden boxes for composting down and lovely rotting into the soil over winter. I have moved the bean trellis to a new location in preparation for spring planting, planted my garlic in a new spot this year (where my spinach was last year) and have had the winter tires put onto my car.

With the exception of having all of my winter wood burning supply in hand, I have been doing fairly well.

The wood started arriving yesterday (delivery was either two or three truck loads and I am anticipating five or six in total. I spent last night splitting a fair portion of the first chunk of wood delivered into halves and then this morning I stacked the halves into space between the two posts of my "car port" to allow for smarter wood stacking when the rest arrives, gets split (when I get to it) and stacked (again, when I get to it.) I have also split all but about 14 of the rounds that arrived yesterday and have started stacking it in my "wood area" to fully dry out so it can be burned when I am out of my current dry supply.

I put in about 3 hours of stacking and then splitting and stacking this morning.  My back started to protest (loudly) and I elected to take a break and come inside.  Good thing too - it was after 12:30 and I needed to deal with some laundry and also start the fixings for some meals that I am cooking today.

I am also starting a new job tomorrow - well, not a new job exactly, but the same job in a different branch - I was asked (by the regional VP) if I would cover someones maternity leave in a different branch.  There are all sorts of things happening in this area right now (and not all of them good) so thinking that this might be "writing on the wall" if you know what I mean, I agreed - with the request of a letter "guaranteeing" (inasmuch as a guarantee can be given or had) that I will have a job in this area at the end of this year.

This means that instead of a normal weekend, I have only today off and then start back to work tomorrow - so there is LOADS to get done today!

I have been taking a lot of pictures lately and will upload and show off some of the projects under way (and those nearly complete) soon.

In the mean time, with love across the waters...

Monday, October 21, 2013

Installing Towel Racks and Light Fixtures

Yesterday I spent a good portion of my day installing the towel racks, mirror and some pictures in the bathroom.  Today I installed the light fixtures.  I have never installed these kinds of things and though the job isn't perfect, it's pretty darn good if I do say so!

Saturday afternoon before this weekend's activities.

The packages for the lighting project

Light project "bits"

One down, one to go.
Holy Crap!

Done... now to see if it worked

Woo hoo!  It worked!

Looks pretty good - need a
different shower curtain

Cleaned up and showing off!

All that is left at this point is replacement of the door and window and then the floor and door mouldings and trim.  The window and door will have to be done by someone else, but considering today's success, I'm going to try the trim and mouldings myself...

With love across the waters...

Pumpkin Surprise!

The real surprise for me was that I was actually growing pumpkins...  The treat was that when the leaves started to die back there were actual real pumpkins to harvest!

Not many, but when seasoned enough, a couple to give away, and the rest to cook down and enjoy through the winter.

Surprise Pumpkins

With love across the waters...

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Alllllmmmooooossssttt there.......

This one is pretty much just pictures of the progress to date - all that is left now if the finishing of the sanding and mudding, painting and then the installation of windows, shelves, floor and door mouldings and the fixtures like the toilet paper holder, towel racks and mirrors....

Drywall going up

Framing around the hot water tank

plumbed for the washing machine and drier

Floor going in


Looks like wood, doesn't it?

washer and drier installed

vanity plumbed and mud going on

Bathtub surround and backer board on

filling the tub!

Look at that awesome tub - cool, huh?
And tonight, as the mud is still drying, I am having a night off - no construction going on.  Time for a hot relaxing bath and then bed!

Monday, September 16, 2013

There is Progress

I got home from the cabin around quarter to 5 last night (as planned) and came in to a house bustling with activity…  The bathroom had progressed from where it was, but as feared, there wasn’t yet a working toilet.  The holes in the floor had been dealt with – actually, the contractor had to re-do more of the floor than he had initially anticipated as there was rot on both sides of what was actually a supporting wall (eek!)
But the result is a floor that is totally even and one that, once the laminate flooring goes on, will look FABULOUS.
When last I typed, I was having anxiety thinking that I wouldn’t have a toilet or bath tub in which to bathe…  I didn’t have either until about 9:30 last night, but before they left for the day, the toilet was hooked up AND the bath tub was jury rigged so that I can at least have baths until the whole thing is completed. 
There is still a lot more work to be done – the vanity has been put together, but needs to be installed… the pony walls need to be covered with drywall (and then taped, mudded and sanded) the tub needs to be fully enclosed, the lights need to be amended and the whole thing needs to be painted. Yes, still a fairly large amount of work to be done.
Looking in the doorway
at where the washer
drier will be

New bathtub , pony wall
and where shelving will be

Hot water tank, another pony wall
and the toilet's new home...
Look at that great floor!!

My contractor does have a full time day job and unfortunately because of where he works, he ends up being required to take extra shifts because of people who call in sick. He’s had a full summer of construction work on top of a summer that has required in excess of 100 hours of overtime in the space of the last couple of months.  Today is a good example.  Had he not had to cover someone else’s shifts, he would more than likely have been here around 1 this afternoon.  It’s almost 4 and no sign yet.  Such is life, right?
Tonight’s stress surrounded the vanity.  You know – the vanity I spent about 3 hours assembling last night?  Yup – that one.  It is too big.
Vanity - too big.  It will be repurposed!
So I had to make a decision. Move it around the room? No. Change the layout and have them cut another door and then close in another doorway? No. Get a smaller vanity?
Yup – that’s what I ended up doing.  I chose one that is quite a bit smaller – but it came assembled in the box, with the top included. It also fit into the back of my car so I was able to also bring it home.
What I have decided to do (instead of disassembling the other vanity, boxing it back up and returning it along with the top I special ordered… is to return the top and keep the assembled vanity – and repurpose it.  So what I will do is set it up in the kitchen along the wall that backs onto my bedroom – I’ll get a small piece of fancy sided plywood (23”x49”) or maybe thick wood that could be glued together and made into a work top.  It will be perfect for storing the dog and cat paraphernalia and also all of my canning supplies. I could build in some overhead shelving for more storage as well.
Storage – all of this change to the house is all about making smarter space with more storage…
With love across the waters…

Last Full Day

Saturday, September 14:
Today is my last full day / overnight at the cabin.  It hasn’t been a true full day as I went home briefly this morning to take Missy home and yes, check out the progress on the renovation…

Today started at 4:28 AM for me – Missy decided at about midnight that she would rather come in and have cuddles and sleeps with me and Jasmine and that at 4:28 AM (I checked) she was awake and insisting that she needed to go outside.
Nope – not going to happen.  She has had a BALL down at the cabin this past week – spent most of her time outside (day and night) hunting.  She’s had a tubby little belly all week long and the snakes that normally live near the compost pile we have here have been absent.  I think she’s had a great time eating snakes, small birds and mice all week long!
Anyhow, not trusting that I would be able to convince her to come to me (I know some people have trained their feline companions to come when called, but I have had zero success with that concept!) if I left her here with me and Jasmine right to the last minutes on the beach, I decided to take her home this morning in advance of closing up the cabin tomorrow late in the afternoon.
So I found myself stumbling across at the barest of walkable low tides in the dark at about 6 this morning carrying a cat (meowing) in a crate and holding on (for dear life) to a dog’s leash and a flashlight that powers by squeezing its handle repeatedly. 
Yeah – not one of my finer plans.
I did make it all the way across without falling down (yay me!) and made good time back home to drop off the cat.
OK – yes, I admit it, I also wanted to see the progress on the renovations.
The curtains were all closed (a good sign that my contractor is paying attention to home security) when I pulled into the driveway.  There was a large pile of debris (the old bathtub, the old vanity, some drywall and some pieces of wood I have to assume were cut out of the wall when they created the “through way” from the bathroom into the laundry room spaces.
They were actually not as far along in the project as I had thought they might be.  OK – I admit it, I don’t know enough about these kinds of renovations to know how things will look as the days progress, but I thought that at this stage (with me expected home around 5PM tomorrow that the work would be mostly finished and that perhaps the only things left to be done at this point would be things like painting and maybe installation of floor and door mouldings.
What I saw made me worry that I may not have a bathroom when I get home tomorrow. The bathroom floor (which has to be fully removed and replaced) was still in place… this means that the plumbing and electrical that needs to be completed is not yet done. The old windows are still in place.
Granted, I didn’t expect the windows to be done since the guy who was placing the order for them let slip that those can take a couple of weeks to be made ready (and he was actually supposed to come measure them a few weeks ago, so I have a feeling that my contractor wasn’t too pleased by that oversight.
I’m a little concerned that I will not get the hoped for bath in my new tub tomorrow night… hell, I’m a little worried that I may not have a toilet to use when I get home!
I know that they will have been working flat out all day today – possibly long through the night, and will be doing more of the same tomorrow… but I’m still a little worried at what stage things will be at when I get home.
Wish me luck!
With love across the waters…

The Real Deal

Monday, September 9:

I’m down at the cabin – the weather this week is projected to be absolutely GORGEOUS and I am looking forward to a quiet week with Jasmine and Missy at the cabin. I’m here now and once the cabin was open, I checked in with the neighbours (who are down for a couple more days and then they head home) and had a big lunch, I promptly lay down and had a 2 hour nap.  God it was wonderful!

My plans for the week do include some family time - lunch with my folks on Wednesday and maybe a visit with my brother and nephew on Thursday – but for the most part I will spend my time puttering around down here – walking with Jasmine around the islands (the tide it high most of the week I’m down) and sitting around reading. 

And yes, napping.

And while I am here, my house is fully occupied by my contractor and his team – they are going to be working away at gutting the bathroom and laundry room and building a dream space for me.  I’ll still have work to do on it in the form of building some additional shelves, installing some bi-fold doors, constructing a really cool cleat and pulley system drying rack that will hang from the ceiling and a counter space - but in reality, those projects will be small ones that will be easy enough to accomplish on winter weekends.

I head home on Sunday whenever I can catch the cat, and will spend some of my Monday doing laundry in my new space. 

Sunday night, though, I will be having a long hot bath in my new tub!  Woo hoo!

With love across the waters,

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Getting Ready for Renovations!

The last few months have seen some small changes (here and there) to my home.  I have replaced the hot water tank, installed three new raised garden beds, started processing fall (gasp – autumn already???) harvest in the way of beans, kale, and tomatoes, and getting ready to manage through the most recent ripening items – my pears.  Thankfully the apples need a couple more weeks on the tree to fully ripen!

That’s not actually what I’m posting about this time, though.  The renovations I am getting ready for now are bathroom / laundry room changes.

As you know, my bathroom is a small dark gray coffin of a room.  I replaced the lighting (or rather I had my contractor replace it for me) almost as soon as I moved in – I had to – the old fixture had 15 watt bulbs for heavens’ sake – and no, not the new enviro bulbs that only USE 15 watts, these were REALLY old bulbs in a really old fixture. The vanity is a well-used (many times painted) little thing – kind of low to the ground too, come to think of it. The bath tub, also well loved, is pretty long (thankfully) but also in need of replacement.

All in all, the looks of the bathroom aren’t so hot. Looks can be worked around, things can be painted.

From a structural perspective, though the bathroom had to be one of the first major renovations planned.  The old toilet had had a wax ring seal with had probably disintegrated due to age many years ago.  The resultant leak rotted away most of the floor around the toilet, and when the new toilet was installed when I took possession of the house, my contractor pointed out to me that the bathroom floor was in serious need of attention.

The laundry room is not as desperately in need of attention – the floor (all three levels of it) is solid and though the walls are not insulated, the room serves its purpose and doesn’t complain too much.  The one thing in the laundry room that did and does need attention (sooner rather than later) is the sash-less window.  A sash-less window is basically two panes of glass that slide across each other to open and close.  Not sealed in any way, so not air tight (or wind tight in winter) and a great waste of heating as it pretty much just leaks out through that window.  There’s one in the front bedroom as well – it is also being replaced, but this post is about the new bathroom / laundry room I have planned.
SO… my plan is to have the wall between the two rooms removed and the current doorway into the laundry room closed up.  The door that serves the bathroom now will continue to be the door into The New Space.

The washer and drier (old ones just replaced last month with a stackable Whirlpool set – front loading and WAY more energy efficient) and the additional floor space saved by going stackable will be used to build a small counter (storage underneath) and up top I will affix a drying rack on a cleat and pulley system.  Grandpa had one built for Grandma in their laundry room and I think it’s a brilliant use of space!

A small linen cupboard will be built either into a pony wall or against the far wall – against the living room - and then on the other side of the small pony wall will be the bath tub. Far corner will remain home to the hot water tank (which will be in its own little cupboard which I hope to eventually put shelves into so I can use it as an airing cupboard) then the toilet and vanity on the wall that is being filled in.

All in all, I think, it will be a better laid out, lighter and much more useful space.  I hope to incorporate smarter space use so that I can have a little more and better storage than is currently there.  A proper linen cupboard instead of the currently in use Rubber-Made storage I am using.  A bigger vanity that will store more than just the TP and extra shampoo under the sink (the one I have ordered has actual drawers!!) and perhaps some open style shelves (eventually) over top of the toilet where things like a hair drier could be stored.

The renovation is planned for this coming week while I am on vacation – I essentially go away and leave behind two small rooms that aren’t well laid out or storage friendly and I get to come back in a week to a lighter, brighter and smarter space!

When I get back next weekend I will post my before and after shots!

With love across the waters,

Monday, August 26, 2013

Harvesting - Already?

This summer has been flying past me in a blur.
I took a couple of weeks off in May, a long weekend each in June and July (my August one will be this weekend) and then I have a week booked off in September and another one in October.  Summer's projects included building three new raised garden beds (two done just this past weekend) the near completion of the back fence project and getting ready for some major renovations that will take place while I am away in September.
The last few weeks have had me starting to harvest the bounty of my garden.  My Scarlet Runner beans (seeds courtesy of a neighbour of mine back on the Isle of Jersey) have produced some half dozen bags' worth of frozen packed beans for winter consumption (each bag is about two meals.) The Kale is in the process, also, of being harvested and processed for winter consumption (though truth be told, it's a crop that can be left out and fresh harvested all winter long - so I'm not working too hard at cleaning that up!
Rhubarb may actually give me one last gasp of fruit for winter processing as well.
The next few things that will have me seriously hopping will be the tomatoes and the pears.  The tomatoes are starting to ripen - I've had one already, a second is nearly red and there are a handful more that will be soon ripe enough to eat, stew, freeze or otherwise process. When I was out inspecting the GIANT yellow flowers on my Crown Prince pumpkin (also a Jersey seed)  I tested a pear and they are looking like they will be ready to pick imminently as well.  That will mean that next weekend after my cabin time I will be coming home to pears to process and can.
I cleaned off the garlic bulbs yesterday and cut off the roots and leaves - they are in the house and waiting for use in sauces and soups... I'll need to get next year's garlic into the ground pretty quick, come to think of it, but the bed it will be going into next year isn't quite ready for it yet, so I have a little time there.  Plus I need to get my mind wrapped around what I want to put in - whether I want to save and plant from this year's harvest, or buy new stuff...
Thankfully, after the pears are done I will have a *little* breath time before I need to worry about the apples... they look AWESOME (if I do say so myself) and then after the frosts come I will start planning the pumpkin plans... I'm going to probably try my hand at canning some of that as well - if I have enough jars when all is said and done!
When I was in my teens and early twenties I never thought I would find something like this interesting.  Now in my forties, I have to admit, there is something truly magical to me about being able to put food that *I* grew in my own yard on the table.
With love across the waters...

An Early Morning Walk

I think that, on work days, my second favourite time of day (the first being the moment I get home from work and Jasmine greets me with love when I get to the door) is our early morning walks up in the trails around Cumberland.

Here’s why:
Early morning sunlight through
the trees

"Hey Mum - hurry up!!!"

That's my gorgeous girl!
With love across the waters,

A Rainy Day at the Cabin is Still Better…

… Than a sunny day at work. 

That was my Facebook status update yesterday.  It has been truth before, it will be truth again, I am certain.

The thing is, down here when it rains there’s this sound.  It is so very hard to describe and I’m certain that only a few of you will understand it, or perhaps have a place, or maybe just the memory of a place, that the rain sound fills you – the way it does for me here. 

The roof isn’t insulated – so when it rains you hear each drop hitting the shakes and each drop combined with all of the others falling makes this sweet natural music that reminds me of being “stuck in the cabin” with Grandma and Grandpa and my brother Rob (back when we called him Robbie) on a gray and rainy day… playing cards.  Grandma drinking instant coffee as black as night and Grandpa with his little Brown Betty tea pot beside him. Eating fried up scones that Grandma made…

Playing Rummy. 

Playing Crazy Eights. 

Playing Crib.

Honest to God.  A rainy day here may be filled with comforting ghosts and sound and scent memories, but it will always be better than a sunny day at work.

With love across the waters,

A Raised Bed and a Surprise!

In July of this year, after the bulk of the back fence project was done, I decided it was finally time to start putting in raised garden beds. I have a fair amount of yard space that can be given over to planting vegetables and fruits, but in the interests of keeping Jasmine (not to mention Missy) out of my food supply, I determined that putting in raised beds would be a Very Good Idea.

I picked up four 12’ rough cut cedar planks (I went with 1”x8” but in retrospect I should have gone with 2”x8” instead) and once home set up my portable saw horses and got to work.
The spot where the new bed would go
Portable saw-horse reporting for duty - and behind it
is the pile of dirt left over from digging post holes
Boards cut and ready to assemble

I decided that the bed I was putting in should be two foot deep by 10 foot long and so measured and cut my boards to suit this.  A number of years ago now Mum & Dad started replacing their raised beds (that were made with wood) with concrete poured raised beds – where they are they have to combat the roots of cedar trees and so concrete is a better fit for them. To that end, they gave me the corner connectors that they had bought from Lee Valley Tools (the BEST store on earth ha ha ha) and I took out 8 of them (and the screws) because this particular bed was going to end up being 2 feet wide by 10 feet long by 16 inches deep. Boards cut I got things into place and connected all of the pieces and then stacked the two “boxes” to make one very deep one. This should end up being PLENTY of space to grow whatever I end up planting in there (on purpose) in.

MORE than deep enough!
Bed in place, I next took on the compost bin move project. Before re-claiming all of the compost material, I lined the very bottom of the new garden bed with newspaper.  This will eventually help keep down any serious weeds that may be already in the ground… Next up I took apart the two-bin compost I built at the beginning of last summer and moved all of the material in that over into the bottom of the new raised bed.  On top of that I put another thick layer of newspaper and then on the very top I put the soil that had been initially displaced when Dad and Rob (my brother) dug out the fence post holes.

New bed in, filled with compost material
and left-over post hole dirt
I will need to top dress the bed with sea soil and more potting soil, and I’ll need to over seed that through the winter with something like fall rye (which can be dug under in the spring and rots down into a lovely green manure) but for now… It’ll do just fine!

About a week after I got the new bed in place and all the dirt moved in I noticed a plant… kind of a large leaf plant – that had self-started in the new bed.  I know it is a member of the squash family – I have checked the leaves and now that it is flowering, looked at the flowers and have confirmed it is definitely a member of the squash family.

Here’s the thing though, I don’t know exactly WHAT it really is.  It might be a pumpkin – I did try to sprout some Crown Prince pumpkin, but thought that all of the seeds were not viable and so gave up on them and chucked them into the compost bin. It may also be a butternut squash… or a regular orange pumpkin – I have had a number of those throughout the year and when I was preparing them I just threw all of the seeds and guts into my compost without thinking.

Female flower

Male flowers

Whatever it is, it may not have enough time to ripen before the frosts come.  I actually hope it does though – I’m curious to see what it is, and I would LOVE to have some of my own squash or pumpkin for winter consumption!

With love across the waters,

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Replacement of an Oil Tank

As many of you know, my house is heated with a combination of an oil run furnace and a wood stove.  The wood stove was installed in January of my first year in the house after an all-day power outage that left the house frigidly cold.  The need for a secondary heat source was totally evident and so I had that dealt with in very short order.

When I bought my house, the inspection noted that they weren’t able to determine the actual age of the oil tank (though the furnace itself was less than two years old as it had just been replaced.  I knew that I would have to have the oil tank dealt with as a high priority item as I had read a few articles about the major problems that occur for home owners when an oil tank ages to the point where it develops a leak.

Mine was still “oil tight” but I was nervous about how long it might actually last and so along with the hot water tank (which was in even more dire need of replacement) and the toilet, it was a consideration for “top three” items to be dealt with.

In June of this year I was finally able to have the tank replaced, so I contacted my oil company and got the ball rolling.

First things first, they drained the old tank and pulled it out and disposed of it.
Old Faithful - drained and ready
to be taken away...
Next, they cleared a new space and then poured a small concrete pad that the new oil tank would sit on.

That looks awfully small for an oil tank!
And finally? Installation and fill of the new tank.

THAT's why the concrete
pad was so small!
The old tank held about 900 litres, whereas the new holds about 600 - so it takes up a LOT less space than the old one. I used the space where the old one was to build a small raised bed in which I will plant next year’s pumpkin crop!

With love across the waters,

Monday, August 12, 2013

Foraging for Kale

We have been in the throes of a heat wave.  There's been no rain in nearly a month and we've had hot dry sunny weather all July.  Though most people complain about the rain all winter, I choose not to as I know how desperate we on Vancouver Island become during the dry and hot summer months. The garden beds have dried out (and required the installation of soaker lines to keep my poor plants hydrated) the forests have become dangerous (though the true danger is from people and carelessness) and my world had taken on a fine dust covered film. I have also not turned on my oven in over a month.
I was able to harvest my garlic and it is curing in my shed for about a week and a half and now it needs to be cleaned off, have the chaff trimmed from it and it needs to be stored for overwinter consumption.
Yesterday the skies were gray and overcast almost all day.  My Mum & Dad came up in the morning to bring up Grandma's old love seat, a chair of my Great Grandmother's (on my Mum's side) and Grandma's bed.  We also finished most of the back fence project - the lattice is installed and it looks AWESOME! And finally, after lunch we assembled the bed.  I now have a spare bed and once again I get to do some re-arranging to make things a little more space friendly.
Late in the afternoon, after Mum & Dad had headed back down to Thetis Island, I was sitting inside thinking on making myself some dinner and the skies opened up and POURED.  I'm not talking sprinkle, I'm talking out and out pouring rain.  It was glorious!  It rained like that off and on all night and most of today and I could practically hear the trees sighing in relief.  My plants outside look happier and my apple and pear trees (and the little coral bark maple out front) are even looking perkier.
As a result of the MUCH cooler day today I even turned on my oven for the first time in over a month!  I baked cookies and granola.  I packaged up and vacuum sealed the granola for future use since I opened a box of cheerios the other day and need to finish that before starting something new, but still, I've not had my own home-made granola in what feels like AGES.
Since I wasn't needing to stain or cut or organize anything fence-wise today, I also took some time to harvest and freeze some of my kale for winter consumption.  I had to battle aphids - there was quite the infestation in there - but I won that battle for now... next year I will buy ladybugs (hee hee hee) to eat the aphids for me... after much soaking and washing, I laid out the leaves on cookie sheets and froze them. 
Did you know that after about an hour in the freezer kale will shatter if you drop a leaf on the floor?  I didn't know that either.
Kale frozen, I decided to try my hand at making kale chips and a kale and pear smoothie.  The smoothie is delicious - though I think next time I will have to puree the kale before adding the other stuff so that there isn't so much to chew on (ha ha ha!)
The kale chips are in the oven and I may be ready to try some of them after supper when I watch TV. 
The kale harvesting has cleaned out about a third of my bed - I am selectively pulling plants out now as the big ones I am leaving will continue to grow through the fall and provide me with healthy greens through the winter.
All in all a good day and a great weekend!
With love across the waters,

Monday, July 29, 2013


My Grandma died 2 months ago today.  It's been a pretty bumpy couple of months and I have come to a conclusion: Grief is a funny thing.

I believe that the people we love are with us always - in our hearts.  That when and if they decide to visit us after they have moved on to what comes next, they do so with humour and love.
Grandma and Grandpa were the grandparents that gave us the gift of The Lagoon and summer trips there with them were filled with card games, fishing, (LOTS of candy and cookies) family and peace and quiet. 
Grandpa died at the age of 70 in 1987. Grandma stayed with us for another 26 years.  She celebrated holidays and successes with us and mourned losses with us. Weddings, funerals and births.  She got to see her great grandson born and lived to see my brother and I well settled and happy in life. She was 98 years young when she finally had enough and decided that it was time to go.
It's hard to sum up a life - so I won't do that.  I will leave you with the poem my Dad had published in her obituary. 

No hand so soft and gentle
No heart so tender and true
No sorrow life could bring us
Can equal losing you.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Roses and Peonies

They are up near the top of my list of favourite flowers.  I would also put Stargazer Lilies on this list – and Lavender…  But I don’t have Lavender or Stargazer Lilies planted anywhere in my yard (yet!)
When I first took possession of my home I was thrilled to see there were some roses in both the front and back yards – they yards were way too overgrown for me to see if there was much else and last spring I was happy to see peonies coming up as well.  At that point there were two peony bushes at the front and about 5 in the back yard (some right in the MIDDLE of the back yard) and as I was whacking away at various plants in the back yard I came across a couple of other roses that showed some potential.  I dug out the back yard peonies and replanted them as well as a couple of roses into the front yard.  I wasn’t especially gentle with them and since not one of them was actually scented I wouldn’t have been especially heart-broken if they decided to die off.
They all flourished.  The dark pink peony did the best in the transplanting.  The surprise for me has been the rose bush that was cut down to the ground when the old maple stump was cut out.  That particular rose came back this year, has lovely pink blossoms on it and turned out to be an old fashioned rose. 
One of the peonies that started out front didn’t do much of anything last year – no blossoms at all – and I figured it was badly located (not enough water?) and it surprised me this summer as well – it has a tea-rose scent to it!
Eventually most of the unscented peonies and roses at the front of my house will be replaced scented ones, but for now I have some beautiful blossoms to enjoy!

Rose and Dwarf Russian Maple

Surprise Rose!

Happy Peony

More of the Happy Peonies
With love across the waters,

My Clever Kitty!

After supper last night I was relaxing with a cup of tea on my sofa.  Screen doors and windows open to allow for enjoyment of evening breezes. 
Jasmine was asleep on the living room floor, Missy somewhere outside.
The sound of a happy cat meowing drew me outside to see that my very clever cat (who last year caught quite a number of mice and shrews) has started hunting bigger things – namely rats. 
Missy was terribly proud of yesterday’s catch.  Me? I’m pretty proud of it too – she can bring home as many dead rats as she likes – I’m definitely OK with this!

"Look Mum - see what I caught?"

What a clever girl!
With love across the waters,