Summertime, sweet, sweet summertime

I went down early thinking it would be cool, it was not, warm mists over the lake

We wait all year then it’s here, why do we always forget about the bugs though! Ha! and sweating, I could fill the lake after the last few weeks, you know it’s been hot when 65° or 18° celsius feels cold! Just when the last remnants of my tick bites have disappeared I battle the deer flies. Now, my husband and I can walk out at the same time and there isn’t a single bug around him, they are ALL surrounding me…waiting to land and take out a chunk of flesh that leaves huge welts and itchiness for weeks. ARGH!!!! I love dragonflies…they eat deer flies, they are my friends, now and forever!

The variety and colours are never ending, ladies and gents of the same species are often quite different! I’m on a hunt for the cyclops dragonfly, also known as the Common Green Darner, one eye, I am not kidding, stay tuned! I’m just not quite ready to venture near the swamp, deer fly territory! Maybe I can find one alongside the lake!

It’s been a very quiet Summer for us for butterfly wise, they have flitted through without much stopping, I heard they have seemed to be quite late this year. I’ll check at the barn at the end of the week, the swallowtails love the manure pile/ponds after the rains, full of nutrients!

Our mangled beak Ruby Throated Hummingbird has truly taken over the yard, I can’t call him scarface so Captain Crookedbeak it is! He has a nice harem and lots of juveniles are showing up. Did you know that adult Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, are sexually dimorphic i.e. the adult male and adult female are different in external appearance. However, young males “masquerade” as females until their first winter, at which time they attain adult male plumage. This can make ageing and sexing difficult during summer and fall after young of the year have fledged. So, boy or girl, take a wild guess! They say it makes the young males lives easier, pretending to be females in the beginning. Captain Crookedbeak does NOT care, everyone but his select ladies is “outta here!”

You can tell the juveniles, they try every flower, no matter how difficult the landing, it’s worth exploring until Captain Crookedbeak comes and chases them off, then they wait, and come back when he is busy chasing someone else in the other direction, he exhausts me just watching him!

The first batch of Baltimore Orioles have come and gone. They are pretty silly to watch. Dad seemed to feed them mostly at first them Mom would occasionally bring one by the jam jar. It was teaching them how to get to that jam jar themselves that Dad was having issues with…”NO! I’m TOO scared Dad!” you could see them saying…”Have kids they said! It will be fun they said!” you could see him thinking that, sarcastically! Ha! Mom is back on the nest again I think, or gone to Florida on vacation with the kids! Dad still comes frequently to the jam, he’s let me know, raspberry jam only, don’t try and foist that orange marmalade nasty rindy stuff (which he loved last year) on him, yuck, and no strawberry either! President’s choice raspberry mostly fruit for him he says! Yes sir!

Like an Oriole soap opera, “As the Jam turns, Oriole Place, A day in the life of an oriole, Oriole Abbey…I could go on. I won’t ha! Yes, I’m easily amused!

Not everything has been flying by, but mostly! Sometimes things also flap, out of water. Groot’s special treat is getting to go down to dock, all alone, well, with us, just not his other “baby” siblings that don’t know how to behave, have no decorum and frankly he says, are embarrassing! He has rules, it just seems the other two are not inclined to follow them. Rocket has no concept of personal space, we all have a friend like that right? Even after repeatedly getting whacked for encroaching in Groot’s personal space he looks so hurt and confused “Why he no like me?” Should have called Groot Les, Les Nessman. Some of you will know what I’m talking about, lines drawn around office desk…knock before crossing that line! Ha!

Meanwhile…back at the ranch, house…Orange cats are special! Ed.

This cat lies in the sun when it’s 85° out, he was raised by a Burmese cat that is obvious! The only thing that alarms him is delivery guys who knock (or the sound of tires on gravel), Mike did say he was going to give him away when he was a bad kitten, he hasn’t forgotten, today could be the day, and the vacuum. He hides under the comforter on the bed. I feel endlessly guilty for terrorizing him once a week, OK, once every ten days! He’s my boy! We just weighed him…20.6 pounds, no fat. What did we do to deserve a tiger in our midst?

This is summertime. We fixed a hydraulic hose on the trailer, found the front jacks all the way down one morning and tracked down the suspect fitting, a pool of hydraulic fluid is always a dead giveaway. Took it into town to our tractor hose guy, $60 later and a hose that’s three times as strong we now have it leveled back up, you do have to spend the prerequisite amount of time gossiping with the hose guy as well, part of doing business! Better than the $250 mobile call to examine the problem, and the $250 call to fix it after it has been diagnosed. That seemed pricey but I suppose they charge what they have to. We’ll save that for the serious stuff! Still have to fix the wire on the small bedroom slide (one broke) and figure out where the mattress is leaking (It’s an air one) and then there are the ants……small potatoes! We’ll get it done!

This is also summertime…

That late day light and storm clouds

Best time to swim, or take a paddle around, so calm you can see the fish under the canoe. Soon enough the heat will dissipate and those first chilly mornings will bring the fog across the lake, like tomorrow night, they are calling for 7° celcius (44°!!!!) Whaaaatttt? Sigh. Canada. In the meantime we will enjoy that heat and bugs and chipmunks, these three will anyway, the survivor chipmunks of this year are smart and savvy, that’s not to say that cats don’t dream though!

The early morning rodentia torture squad is hard at work…

Saludos amigos and stay tuned for a trip around the lake-hasta pronto!

Welcoming the arrival of Summer

It arrived with the solstice on Tuesday, June 21, 2022 at 5:14 a.m. Summer. Cold beer, canoe paddling, mosquitos, more of them anyway, did I mention this has been a horrendous year for those biting cretins! Mike can stand in the same spot as I can and they fly right by him, it’s like I am glowing a bright red for them, just not fair.

Get out those non deet sprays. Summer storms, summer rains, summer babies. It’s all coming! It’s here!

Lightning from a passing thunderstorm

It’s been awhile since I’ve been sick, with the mask wearing and being careful, no one wants covid. I didn’t get that but another virus had me sweating in the middle of the night, then teeth chattering with the chills for days on end, not fun at all, there went the bottle of Ibuprofen:) It’s set me back more than I thought, lack of energy but hey, if I’m going to sit I mind as well photograph dragonflies and hummingbirds right?

We have a couple of male Ruby Throated guys guarding the feeders, one in front, one in back. When I looked carefully I realized the guy out back was here last year. His bill is deformed, from perhaps an accident, or dueling for a lady no doubt, these are macho little birds. I’ll be calling him Scarface, or a suitable pirate name maybe, Errol perhaps, it has a sophisticated ring to it! Ha! The ladies have been shy, I see them but they zip away when I bring the lens up, the boys, no.

It has been fun learning all the names of the dragonflies the last two years. I upload them to inaturalist first to check but I’m getting pretty good now at recognizing who and what they are! You can check out my page here: https://www.inaturalist.org/observationsplace_id=any&user_id=pamelaweston&verifiable=any

It is a great place to check names of bugs and flowers, everything really. They are not always 100% correct but someone will usually let you know if you get it wrong!

What gets me with the dragonflies is the males and females can look completely different, I’m learning who’s who, little by little! The Bright Green Pondhawk showed up for the first time this morning, will have to make a trip to the swamp when the sun comes back out! Have to love bugs with racing stripes!

The slower moving visitors have been the snapping turtle ladies, looking for a spot to lay their eggs. One lady turtle tore apart one of the rock gardens, goodbye flowers, for now, but I didn’t see it until the masked bandits dug up the eggs and feasted on them. Then two more ladies decided it was a lovely spot, premium real estate, nice view, soft dirt to deposit their brood so I now have the eggs covered up to keep them out of the raccoons hands!

We had a little painted turtle wandering around as well so maybe there are some wee eggs deposited somewhere else as well. Baby painted turtles are about the cutest thing EVER! We found one a few years back making it’s way to the lake.

Today doesn’t feel like Summer, I have a sweater on, it’s drizzling. We’ve been bouncing from very very warm days to ones like this, I guess it is normal, somewhere in-between would be nice! Hey, at least it’s not snowing right? No hard frost so far in June:) You can tell when you’re Canadian! Ha! No hard frost in June, or flurries! I admit the garden work has gotten away from me, we’re working on the all natural weeds and wildflowers look! What is wrong with that? The head flew off the weed whacker last week into the yonder tangle of bushes, I looked but the black raspberries tearing me to shreds had other ideas so the new one I ordered just showed up, we’ll tackle that another day, I’m beginning to enjoy my collection of daisies and milkweed! Keep checking for Monarch caterpillars!

As I read about these wildflowers and the ways they have been used for centuries by indigenous people it is truly remarkable what can heal us, and they are all around us! Well, not all certainly! The Meadow Buttercup (Ranunculus acris) for instance is a beautiful wildflower but the juice of the plant is semi-poisonous to livestock, causing blistering. So, don’t eat this one! Oils in the plant, probably present in the leaves and stems, can cause abdominal pains if consumed. When eaten by animals, the buttercups have caused diarrhea and blindness. Nasty! Yellow Salsify (Tragopogon dubius) flowers open in the morning and close by mid afternoon. The basal leaves can be eaten raw or cooked. Native Americans ate the roots, which are best cooked, and are said to taste like oysters! Pilosella caespitosa or Meadow Hawkweed has, in the past, been used for healing eyesight and Bladder Campion, the young shoots and the leaves may be eaten raw in salads. The older leaves are usually eaten boiled or fried. Who knew! A whole salad bar awaits us!

Bugs wise, there have been a few bumblebees, a tricoloured and three lined potato beatles having a rave/orgy on my tomatillo plants! They were removed and asked to get a room elsewhere please! The Little Wood Satyrs are flitting about, they do dance in the woods but not sure if they are a class of lustful, drunken woodland gods. A few Swallowtails and one Luna moth. One thing missing, hundreds of Gypsy Moth/LDD Caterpillars, looks like their three year cycle is over, for now. Will have to do a bug crawl soon as well as a search for mushrooms. The ticks have been bad this year, hate picking those buggers off me! The inevitable here if you are poking about in the bush!

The Ink caps are growing in their normal spot by the base of the old maple and a ring of Golden Waxy Cap (Hygrocybe flavescens) are forming around another old maple. I thought I’d found a new mushroom but it turned out to be a type of lichen, Many-fruited Pelt Lichen, growing on the rocks, very cool. The Funeral Bell (Galerina marginata) or Sheathed Woodtuft (Kuehneromyces marginellus) behind the woodshed had a very odd olive green sheen to them, we won’t be trying those ones;) and not a single morel to be seen…sigh…one day again we’ll find some!

This Gray Rat Snake was almost six feet long when it stretched out across the lawn! It scared the crap out of Groot as he was sniffing in the rocks, he must have touched it’s tail, as it rattles it like a rattlesnake and Groot leapt up about two feet and backwards simultaneously! Missed that shot! She sunbathes regularly on the rocks, I always say hello and move on so not to disturb her. A few garter snakes have been rescued from Rocket’s jaws, as well as a frog but it has been quiet reptile wise. Once again, it was a rough cold Winter so not sure how that affects all these beautiful creatures. I’m waiting for my tree frog family to show up, I hear them, as well as the bullfrogs down at the lakes edge once it is dark. So much life.

We have a Beaver pair that come out late in the day, swim around in front of the dock having a tête-à-tête before helping themselves to some nice juicy weeds. The muskrat occasionally buzzes them before diving. I’m surprised the Kingbird pair that have built their nest on the old cedar overhanging the lake haven’t chased them off, they do pretty much that to everything else from dragonflies to grackles even the Osprey gets the gears! A new bird showed up as well, maybe it’s always been here but I just saw it, a beautiful Great Crested Flycatcher, bug eaters are always welcome around me!

Time to get paddling, waiting for a nice calm day to go explore and see if the Loons and the Osprey are nesting. No sign of the Bald Eagle but the water babies/food are not out yet. We’ll see. Working on restoring the energy levels to where they were two weeks ago. Con tiempo! I missed a few doozy sunrises while sweating away with a fever but captured this one before I got sick, Mike nudged me and said “You might want to get up for this one!” I did and then he rolled over and went back to sleep, it was spectacular. Looking forward to many more of these. Saludos amigos-hope you enjoyed the novel;) ha!

Early morning light

Did I mention everything is green now? The bird blog

It seems like it takes about four days from the first little maple leaf unfurling to the greening of the countryside. It is mind boggling how quickly it happens. After driving by bare trees for months, damn, it seems longer, it finally is green! It’s a blow to the senses in many ways. So much is happening, the return of the snow birds (migrants, lucky birds!) the first hummingbird, the first oriole, the first swallow…and on and on. The air is thick with song, absolutely joyful!

It’s hard to believe it was snowing five weeks ago, yes, snowing. We could still get a freeze, or a flurry, right until the end of May…Winter is lurking! NO! Nests! Everywhere, the blue eggs of Robins, small squawking blue jays, they are already the size of their parents, they a head start though!

Some birds have become very quiet, other not so. The Orioles in particular are quite loud and bossy. Trilling at me if I’m sitting too close to the feeder. We have a whole gang of them, perhaps last years babies are back as well!

The Rose Breasted Grosbeaks are always a delight to see. We have three males vying for one lady it seems. Their song is so sweet! You can listen on All About Birds here! Beautiful music! And that colour! The Mrs. is so many shades of delightful brown and cream but the boys are the lookers! They are fun to watch, they bicker a bit but not to the extent that many males do. It’s have a seed at the feeder, and share!

The there is the slew of LBB’s, little brown birds! I do love the return of the Chipping Sparrow, I used to call they chirping sparrows, get your glasses on Pamela! The combination of grays and browns is so striking! We’d get these guys in Baja only in the Winter!

…and how do they go from eggs to babies to flying so fast? These robin eggs were on top of an old electrical box at Jennifer’s barn less than three weeks ago….and now this! They are flying, oddly, upside down and backwards, but doing their best to both impress, and distress mother!

Mother Nature works quickly in the Spring it seems! The woodpeckers have become very quiet…except…for the rather impressive pummeling on the wood siding by a very handsome Yellow Bellied Sap Sucker, sometimes he drums on the steel roof as well, what is he, a Calypso steel drum player? They are enjoying the maple sap, they have a little line of holes drilled that the butterflies feed at as well! There has sadly been no sign of the Red Bellied Woodpecker, maybe they took advantage of the hot real estate market and moved away! The Downys and Hairys are bickering with each other, guess it’s time the kids moved out, maybe the nest hole needs remodeling, I dunno! Ha!

The rest of the supporting cast are busy. The American Goldfinches are in breeding colours, the Chickadees are regulars as well at the feeder, not quite as busy as in the Winter but there is so much more to eat now, start with the mosquitos please! Never seen them so bad as this Spring.

The goons are nearly gone, yes, The Common Grackles, Count Gracula and his flock of greedy seed eating relatives. My seed bill has gone down by half now! There are a few Red Winged Blackbirds about, I do love the ladies so, those tones of brown and black are stunning! Most of the boys are off in the swamp singing their hearts out but a few stop by to visit.

No sign yet of the resident Bald Eagle, I may have to paddle down the lake and explore their haunts there, as well as the Osprey nest. The Osprey is a regular at sunset. The Eastern Kingbird pair chased him away yesterday, ballsy little birds!

Osprey on a rainy day

I can hear the Barred Owls hooting away to each other and the Whippoorwills are back as well, such beautiful evening serenades! One day I’ll get a shot of those owls! It has been quiet predator bird wise, a few cries from a Red Tailed Hawk last week but I think everyone is busy nesting!

A few new guys have shown up, or maybe I have just not noticed them before! I listen for the different songs and wonder, who was that? A fabulous Yellow Warbler caught my eye out the window the other day, and I was sitting, forever, waiting for the Kingbirds to return to a nest they are building on an overhanging cedar at the lakeshore and a Red Eyed Vireo sat on a branch right beside, almost too close to get a shot! What a beautiful bird! The Eastern phoebes are on bug patrol…they are my friends! Get those damn mosquitos!

…and then there are the beautiful Ruby Throated Hummingbirds. These little flying wonders are what sparked my interest in photography many years ago in Baja. Although we only have the one variety here, they are gorgeous when the light is just right! I’ve called the resident male Dirty Harry, he’s always giving me the look…like…piss off lady and quit moving the feeders around! He has reason, I did move the feeder to beside the lilac and it worked, he took a look, and also beside the new hanging basket…ha! Got you you little rascal…and this is the look I get! Even though I keep those feeders fresh and filled!

Dirty Harry look or what? Is that green or is that GREEN!

I’m still working on getting a shot of the Mrs. She is about but busy I am sure building her nest. They are single working mothers, the boys do their fun business then buzz off to protect their territory, the hell with raising kids! There are several boys about, one is definitely quite a bit smaller than Dirty Harry. I’ll keep that camera pointed on those sunny mornings, nothing like coffee and hummingbirds to start your day. I’ll leave you here, there are still wildflowers and dragonflies and lake mists, eclipses, thunderstorms and, well…much more! Also, very weird mushrooms, still looking for morels! Ha! and Samoa, Fiji and the Cook and Tongas. I’m busy writing about those childhood adventures as well but too much sitting makes Pamela crabby!

Saludos amigos!

Isn’t he lovely when he smiles!

Powerless! But there is always a plan B! and even C!

Good morning sunshine and light!

Funny my last blog was “What is it we really need to live?” Ha! Power is nice! We lived off grid for over a decade in Baja. When you are responsible for your own power and water you can get quite creative! We lost power on Saturday afternoon after a line of severe thunderstorms passed over us. It was the first time I have heard a warning come over the cell phone, something new. It came on quickly, howled like hell, and was over in an hour for us. All limbs intact, all maple tree limbs intact, yes some storm pruning (next Winters kindling!) but nothing large came down. The storms a month ago took care of most of those “I’m dead and ready to fall” trees! We had “storm light” compared to those a bit further North of us where the radar colours were in the truly scary savage range! and so, out went the power, on went the thinking caps when the update to power returning started to loom further and further ahead.

Settled into a camping spot in British Columbia-Our rolling home!

We have our trailer, aka, the rolling house! Yeah! I just realized I don’t take many pictures of it! With batteries and an inverter my wonderful brother installed for us! GO “Offshore Outfitters” and we have our trusty little two decade old Honda generator….and we had gasoline! What we didn’t have, was propane, well, we did, but it was at about 1% and lasted an hour, before running out, and we had a propane leak.

The first day we were not too worried, surely Ontario Hydro would get things up and running, until we realized the extent of the damage. The cell towers were out so we resorted to the local radio station, Lake 88.1 FM for updates, it sounded grim.

Then we looked at the two 40 lb. tanks, something in the back of mind remembered they were close to their expiration date…yup…they actually expired at the end of 2020 and we’d filled them just before that. I looked online, gasped at the price ($350 each!) said a few choice words about RV dealers and got on the phone while Mike waited at Canadian Tire for the small BBQ tank to be filled. There was a line up in fact, at the propane refill, the large Superior propane truck was pulling away as we arrived having just filled Canadian Tire’s up! There was also a line up for gasoline. All the stations with no power, well, weren’t pumping gas so people came to Perth from Carleton Place and even Ottawa to fill up. That’s when we realized how extensive the power outages were! Now, back to those tanks! I had read they can be reconditioned so I started calling around to the various propane suppliers and asking. Yes, one very lady said at Dicola’s where we get our diesel, we can send them away, it could take a week, or six weeks, and with shipping, it may cost more than a new one…sigh…OK…called LeVac Propane in town. They could send them away she said, but, they just had a shipment of 40 lb. reconditioned tanks arrive and would we like one? for $65…YES! TWO Please! Plus they would give us $5 each for the old tanks! So off we went, bought the tanks, had them filled at a bargain price and now we had to take care of the leak. We had known the switch valve had been acting up as when you unhooked one tank, you could still smell propane coming out of the unhooked line, even though the switch was on the other tank. Levac had a switch, but the lines were the wrong size. Just go to “Golden Triangle Plumbing” in Smiths Falls the lovely lady said, that is where we get our fittings! The thought of avoiding an RV dealer made my day! Off to Smiths falls we went, bought the valve, had a nice pulled pork sandwich at Hanks Fries (he makes his own and will add fried onions if you ask! Yum!) and came home. Took the lines off the old valve, applied leftover from Baja yellow propane tape and we were up and running! After a bit of running around, but it had to be done. We were propane powered!

We left our freezer in the basement alone, it’s fairly new and seals well. After removing everything from the house fridge/freezer and placing it in the trailer we realized the trailer fridge is about the same size as our house one, just a different shape! And we turned the inverter on, ran the generator to charge the batteries, then took the generator to outside the crawlspace/basement door plugged the freezer into the generator and ran it for an hour a day to keep things nicely frozen.

Now water, the pressure lasted the first day then it turned into the bucket brigade up all those steps from the lake. Who needs a gym when you do this! Ha! Two buckets at a time, for washing up and toilets. Now drinking water we had some of so we were fine, we have wine! Wait, I can’t brush my teeth in that, maybe white wine? All kidding aside, I function on my morning coffee! We begged and borrowed drinking water from those fortunate enough to have power, lucky sods! Problem solved. A friend even sent a link to a hand pump you can install on your well head-something to think about in the future! Back to basics! Keeping it simple!

Steps up to the house…a workout!

Lights…well, nothing like a oil burning lamp and a gallon of lamp oil to keep you from running into things as it got dark! Candles, surely the cats won’t burn down the house? What more can you do?! Flashlight! Check! LED lights! Check! We are good to go!

Cooking…nothing like having a burner on your BBQ! Also, the trailer has a three burner stove and a oven if needed! Time to eat things out of the fridge! Inventive eating as well! One pot meals:) Get cooking Mike!

Bath time!

Cleaning, well, back to the bucket brigade and nothing like a bracing swim to wash your hair! It’s like having a giant bathtub! A giant COLD bathtub! OK, it’s lake, even better, pet fish to talk to! The Rock Bass is currently guarding her nest by the swim ladder!

No internet! Ha! What are those funny rectangular things with pages called again? Yes! Books! We did get minimal service back once the cell towers got their power back! Everything runs on power! Always nice to have for an emergency! My computer actually has a back up battery, it’s an all in one, so I could down load my photo files to look at. All that time to photograph things! Woohoo! I did some hummingbird stalking! Placing the feeder by the lilac blooms worked brilliantly!

Stalking hummingbirds! Hanging the feeder by the Lilac bloom worked well!

The bad thing about no power is we have no time pieces, except the phone! Our toaster oven and microwave are our timepieces! So, at light, I wake up, at dark, go to bed. Cats were ecstatic! Food earlier! At dawn! Yeah! No sunrises missed this week! I guess Mother Nature decided to throw me a few real doozies for all that waking up early! What a treat! So, looks like I’ll be getting up early for the next few months! At least the coffee is easy to make now and I’ll be fueled for the day! Saludos y abrazos amigos! I have a nice bird blog coming soon and an update on my childhood travels! Stay tuned!

When Mother Nature puts on a show! Those clouds and reflections and mosquitos! Ha!

What is it we really need to live?

Gray days seem to make it easier to write. The outside isn’t calling me quite as strongly as a beautiful sunshine filled one. Spring seems late this year but the small hepatica flowers tells me it is about to explode in a wave of freshly unrolled leaves and black flies! ha! Where is the face net that goes over my hat?

I’ve been exploring my youth, as I’ve said and writing, with the help of my daily diaries I kept for over a decade while we were sailing around the world, about our adventures and misadventures. We are just about to arrive in Tahiti and I stopped today to proof read the Galapagos, the Pacific crossing, the Marquesas and Tuamotu Islands. Something has been nagging at me all week and it just won’t leave me in peace. How much we have in our current world, and how little of it we need to survive and be happy.

To the many local people we met along our travels we must have seemed quite wealthy, sailboat equaled money to many but we had no home to go home to, that sailboat was our home. We had minimal conveniences, no television, just a radio. Most nights we had no lights other than a kerosene lantern to read by as our batteries were always in need of charging, or water, or replacing. The radio took us places, sometimes as far away as the West coast of Oregon to listen to a nightly music show, that was a treat when you were in rough anchorage in the Marquesas with the wind howling outside.

No devices, no phones, no computers, no GPS, no Google maps! HOW did we survive? Hahahahaha! We DID have typewriter (!) and pens, and paper and we wrote. To myself in the diary and to the many people we met along the way and kept in touch with. We did have a calculator! ha! We were happy. We met people who had little but everyone shared what they could. In Hanaiapa Bay on the island of Hiva’Oa we helped clear a field for planting and went hunting with a local farmer for wild pig and goat. We shared meals, laughs, gaffs in languages we didn’t understand, we played the guitar and ukelele and danced. No one had a phone at any meal, no one needed that badly to talk to anyone that wasn’t seated near them, we were independent of all of that “convenience”. Maybe it isn’t all that convenient after all?

My mother didn’t call her mother or father in California. She would write them, as we did. In an emergency, a telegram was sent, anything else would seem extravagant! Have we become a society of instant gratification? I think so. In doing this we have lost our tolerance to slow down to enjoy some of the finer things in life that take time. Everything must be faster, speedier, arrive more quickly. That equates good, slow seems to equate bad. You understand my ill at ease feeling now?

I might add we had no shower or bath, our running water was from a foot pump in the kitchen, only used for cooking and drinking, and no hot water as well. We bathed on deck with a bucket of sea water or if the opportunity arose and a squall came by we all had a fresh water shower! So yes, we were in the tropics and some folks shouldn’t try this at home in January!

Is it every generation looks back and wonders how the current generation would survive if it all went away? A family member once couldn’t figure out why they could not fill the gas tank of their car at the gas station when the power was out. What happens when there is huge solar coronal mass ejection? It will happen one day, not if, just when and we will kiss our satellite systems goodbye along with communications, navigation, banking, internet (ye gads! NO internet!).

The largest known solar flare took place on August 28, 1859. It was observed and recorded by Richard C. Carrington, and so it’s sometimes called the Carrington Event. The accompanying coronal mass ejection traveled to Earth in only 17 hours, rather than the usual three or four days. The largest recorded geomagnetic storm occurred. Aurorae, or northern lights, were seen in many parts of the world. Telegraph systems throughout Europe and North America failed.

I know who will survive all this, people who slow down. People who understand that there are so many things you don’t actually need to survive and be happy. Do you need a new phone every year? A new car? A huge closet full of new clothes because a magazine dictates what looks right and what doesn’t? Do you need your Siri or Netflix that transfix you in front of a screen day and night? Do you really need access to shopping 24 hours a day and get irritated when it doesn’t show up in 48 hours delivered by a guy earning a $1 a package to do so? Ok, take away my computer you haters! I can still write, and it might still be here in another hundred years. Will this digitally recorded work be? The photos? The words? I don’t think so. The technology will be obsolete…

I was raised without “marketing” other than what I saw in stores or on signs. I never knew I was supposed to “buy” this cereal because I saw it on TV or look a certain way because a women in a magazine did selling products you were supposed to apply to your face to be beautiful, then just wash off? Where was the sense in that? The ladies pictures in National Geographic seemed just fine to me, maybe topless sometimes, but I guess I was used to that! ha!

It’s not the lawyers we have to kill Mr. Shakespeare but the marketers! hahahahaha!

I think of all the mediums of music and film I have seen in the last 50 years than now languish in peoples garages and in boxes in storage, or in dumps and landfills. Imagine the pile of this stuff you have tossed out if it was all in one place, film, 16mm and 35 mm, records, cassette tapes, eight track tapes, Beta, VHS, CD’s, DVD’s, Bluerays. That’s just the pictures and music, where does it stop? It seems we are gluttons for the latest invention, supposed to be better, quicker (yup that again) finer, more “convenient” damn I hate that word.

I’ve had friends tell me their kids don’t want their stuff, or their grandparents stuff, they want NEW stuff. More marketing at work? Why did I treasure what once belonged to my family? I’m not sure, why would I throw it away or sell it if I needed a couch, or dinnerware, a rug, or a bookcase? Am I a pragmatist?

You know what really got us excited as kids. Food. Butter, jam, peanut butter, flour, things we could make cookies out of…and sharks. Well yes! Sharks were always exciting!

and wrecks to explore, tikis to find in the jungle and moray eels were always a cool find. I was more worried about them than sharks. A local man once told me they could hold you down with their incredibly strong jaws until you drowned, you stood a better chance if you were just bitten by a shark.

I wrote down every meal we were invited to and exactly what it was. From our first goat stew, then dog stew (yup! Yikes! Why ya running away Spot?) to fried breadfruit, poisson cru (ceviche made with coconut milk) all the fruit. We ate so many mangoes we developed rashes around our mouths from the urushiol in them! Did you know: mangoes are part of the Anacardiaceae, or sumac/cashew family, which produces a liquid called urushiol when the skin of the tree, or the fruit rind, is broken. Contact with urushiol can cause contact dermatitis! We still ate them, just more carefully, not shoving them in our mouths and letting the juicy juicy mango run everywhere but careful nibbles!

Was my childhood idyllic? No, it was often stressful, full of calamity, stupid ideas, like letting your kids swim with shark researchers while they are chumming for sharks in ten feet of water? OK, that was really cool. It was full of problem solving, it made you aware of how and why things worked. It made you think and question many things, often the so called “grown ups” decisions! ha! It made us think. Not book think, memorizing things for a good grade think but actual think. Does that make sense? Reasoning maybe is a better word.

My husband hates it when I reason…hahahahaha!

I just blame my upbringing on how things should make sense:) In the last few weeks I have wondered what have become of the three guys that sailed from Panama to Tahiti with us. We did look up to them, fought with them, were comforted by them. To my brother and me they WERE family! I have kept in contact with quite a few who graced our decks but the first three, well, maybe one day I’ll find them. Dave was in Hawaii, Tim was from Santa Monica and the last I heard of Lindsay he was working in the oil industry in Canada, his family were from Fergus, Ontario.

So, food and people, that is what is the most important. Not a clean house (add cats and dogs, it’s solves both those things! Really want a lot of hair around, add horses as well) not a new phone, or car, a new experience maybe! A shared meal, a glass of wine, or several;) ha!

Remember, we really have no one to impress except ourselves. There are no Jones to keep up with, and even if there were, why would you even care to? If your friends judge you solely by what you have, find new friends. We have a finite amount of time here on this gorgeous amazing planet with so many kind, interesting, caring people, and of course…the marketers. Avoid them, eat well, live long and prosper. I have to tackle the Tahiti diaries starting tomorrow which involves a tremendous amount of change and of course, lots more irresponsible adults…stay tuned!

Where did April go? Has time sped up?

I think we were so busy battling the remains of Winter we just never saw it slip by! Funny how that is. We go from freezing, snowing, howling winds to 22° Celsius, how IS that possible. The cats fought for window seats to smell the smell of Spring and feel the sunshine on their fur. I had to go to town, somehow back in January I forgot to register the truck for 2022. I’d heard our premier Doug Ford had called for refunds for all vehicle fees this year, I just didn’t ever see the fine print, light trucks and cars only, thanks for nothing Doug. A refund really can cheer a girl up…arse. Ha!

Better to be like a cat and simply enjoy every day, registered or not! Windows were open for the first time this morning-always a delectable moment for the felines! They get to go out on their leashes and escorted but this, is window time, salivating over little birdies they now can smell, watching bugs! Yes bugs! Ah, the simple pleasures in life are often the most enjoyable!

We go from snow storms, to tonight, a weather watch for thunder storms, we do need a good rinse still! The one thing about the less than stellar weather has been the down time to write, just not the blog! I had to sit and catch up today! The book is coming along. A month has gotten me as far as the Galapagos, and about to make the Pacific crossing…we have stopped running aground every day and now just are doing it weekly, or trying to run over other boats as neither our motor or generator ever seemed to function as we slowly learned the fine art of maintenance…battery water must be checked and refilled periodically, the engine overheats if the radiator is dry and two anchors keep one from colliding with rocks at times! It has me thinking about the wonderful crew we had over the years and what they are doing now. So far my searches have been futile for the first bunch but we’ll keep looking!

The writing has gone well, the picture and slide cleaning and restoration has been the most time consuming. They were stored where pipes broke in San Diego, in a century old barn and surrounded by herds of cats after being sent in from half way across the globe by mail, hand carried by cruise ship passengers we cornered and anyone we could cajole into saving us postage. It has been a wild ride the recollections, both good and bad but I am approaching everything with a sense of humor given the fact we did somehow manage to survive! Ha! Am I getting it all right? Not sure, these are a twelve year old recollections so far, although written down daily, they were from a unique child’s perspective. Stay tuned…it will one day be published! All I can say is good thing no one told my mother you could eat sea lions because we did eat about everything else out there swimming around, except penguins, there were no BBQed penguins! I promise!

Spring here is a combination of watching the ice melt and depart, at times quite quickly, to seeing the amazing return of reflections in the water to not being able to see the water at all for the snow flurries…ah, Spring in Canada! At least no plowing bills! February was brutal, beautiful, but brutal:)

We’ve lost our Winter visitors, no I didn’t bury anyone, the birds! The Northern Redpolls have left for their Arctic breeding grounds, the Blue Jays have become very quiet and the Red Winged Blackbirds and Common Grackles have invaded. The bruisers are back in town. Even the squirrels are intimidated!

I need to buy stock in a sunflower seed company…these guys can eat! Between the birds and the squirrels they are eating me out of house and home! They are on half rations, time to forage in the forest kids! Looks like we have baby red squirrels already. Mama is looking like Dolly Parton right now, she, the squirrel, not Dolly, was NOT impressed by our latest snow squall. We went to bed, it was nice, we woke up in the morning to 4″ of snow…not nice at all!

Just when it was going so nicely! ha! The wonderful thing was that by 6pm it had all melted and we were back to thinking, Spring really has arrived! The little resident porcupine has been out and sunning in it’s favorite tree and mother deer and baby have been keeping the compost well cleaned, she really loves the cantaloupe rinds! No more signs of the fisher marten on the wildlife camera but we have picked up a small mink down at the dock as well as several raccoons, one had no tail…I’ll be on the eye out for stumpy! Check out Mom and baby munching the cantaloupe here: Deer who love cantaloupe rinds!

Here is a quick one of stumpy and his buddy: Raccoon with no tail

As the ice was going the otter was taking full advantage of all the new holes to pop up in and the numerous icy shelves upon which to sit and devour the perch he had so handily caught! Those hands! He thoroughly enjoyed chomping on this Bluegill as he attempted on multiple occasions to swallow it whole before deciding it needed to be tenderized a bit first.

We even had some socializing this month! Un milagro! Mike’s cousin and wonderful family visiting from Germany got us off our tushes, away from the lake to do some sight seeing, I mean, eat pancakes, as well as enjoy several delicious meals together. We have not quite forgotten the art of talking to other people…in person!

We enjoyed a lovely pancake lunch at Wheelers Pancake House, explored a road creche, that is an experiment in building with reeds and rushes, suffering from a biblical flood at the moment, visited the horses and donkeys, started cooking a turkey, lost power in the howling winds (for almost 24 hours) and cooked it on a BBQ. All in one long run on sentence! ha! Also, if we do much canoe paddling in the early spring a dry suit might be a good idea;)

Grammar is a dirty word I am learning, after not having perhaps learned as much as I should of as a child. It seems I was prone to run on sentences, or maybe just the use of commas and periods wasn’t always necessary I thought as a child. I’ve spent the last three days rereading the 80 or so pages of my young life sailing around the globe, correcting the glaringly bad grammar, glossing past the less than perfect syntax, and thinking…this sounds like a twelve year old wrote it…sigh…it was written by a twelve year old, until we get as far as Tahiti, then it will be written by a thirteen year old! A teenager! It is simply being translated by myself right now!

I may be wishing for some more gloomy weather to batten down and tackle the next leg of the journey! Sunshine always screams “Please go outside and look for wildflowers and garter snakes eating little frogs!” Right?

So, I did that, went outside, I couldn’t stay in yesterday. I didn’t find any cool snakes eating frogs, but our first Hepatica wildflowers and Redshank, which is the coolest moss ever! The forest is tinged red with all the maple blossoms and we have seen our first mushrooms already as well! Now warmth, and rain…it is going to explode, the bug population anyway! I did get to chase a few butterflies and I could have sworn I saw a dragonfly…will go look again tomorrow! One more reason to put off vacuuming…again….I could build a spare cat out of the fur on the carpet alone!

So April, almost gone but oh so beautiful! From the last of the lake ice and otters perched eating their supper to rainbows and reflections. Time to sit and watch the world go by, it does indeed seem to be speeding up. Today I count my lucky stars and am thankful for friends and family, food on my table and several cats, one that just stole my shoe, what a rat! Bring it back! Love them all! Saludos amigos and Happy Spring!

Somedays you just feel prickly;)

Some days people can just bristle at everything;)

I am fascinated by these creatures. This youngster hung out on the same branch for about 36 hours, mostly basking in the sun with an occasional yawn and nod and gnaw on the branch. Who doesn’t love a rodent with spines, it would make a great superhero! More often than not in this area they end up with a bullet through them sadly. I think they are often misunderstood. Just because they are vegan is not an excuse to hate on them guys! Do they eat trees, yes, the bark, will they strip a forest clean, no. They eat leaves, herbs, twigs, and green plants such as clover. In the winter, it may eat bark as well. They are mostly nocturnal but I’ve seen them waddling about in the daylight as well, and they can move, we’re not talking cheetah speed here but I have seen them stride out at a good pace as I was trying to photograph one late in the day.

Baby Porcupine! Actually a  porcupette!

….and who could resist a baby? Adults can reach up tp 35 lbs. and no, they can’t throw their quills at people or animals when threatened. You have to come in contact with the porcupine quills to have them stick you. If only they could…Take that you farmer with a gun! I’ve been told they eat tires and outhouse seats looking for salt but so far we have had no gnawing porcupines in our driveway touting the benefits of rubber or wooden toilet seats.

Would they break into a cottage for your salt shaker? Not sure there but I will ask this fellow next time I see him if he is prone to illegal acts in the name of salt. If you see wood-handled tools or canoe paddles knawed on, it just might be a porcupine though.

Did you know a porcupine group is called a prickle? How apropos! Also, their quills are hollow which enable them to swim and float! I haven’t ever seen one taking a dip but I’m sure many a swamp has been crossed in that way!

We as humans, thinking somehow we have this higher intellect (not really appearing that way recently, anyway) forget sometimes that everything has it’s place in nature, including us weird bipedal mammals. When the wolves were almost killed off by farmers blaming them for their livestock losses (ye gads, or I’ve been told by the fearful many moons ago “They’ll take your children!” What rubbish!) raccoons and porcupines lost a natural enemy, we upset the balance of nature that we seem to be so very good at. Remember that next time you hate on something living, anything living, in this natural world with us. We must coexist if we are to survive….word for the day:) Saludos y abrazos amigos.

Spring, theoretically it arrived at 11:33 am….

Will it ever arrive I have been saying to myself the last few weeks. Maybe I was getting ahead of Mother Nature, but today, we could see the gravel all the way out the laneway. A stark contrast to a week ago when it felt we might be mired in Winter forever! And while I appreciate the beauty of that snow covered lane and the banks of clean white snow, well, I’m very over it;) ha! Come on Spring!

I decided it was the time to peer back through my old diaries I had kept from the age of 11, right into my 20’s. This is the time we spent sailing around the globe with mother, siblings and a wide and varied cast of marvelous, colorful crew. It’s the first time I have sat down and seriously put pen to paper so to speak, fingers to the keys, and it has taken it’s toll in a way I hadn’t expected. Today I gave myself the day off to relax, visit some lovely friends for lunch (isn’t that a treat we can do that now) and deliver a birthday coconut cream pie. It has been weirdly stressful reliving the angst and chaos as we started the sailing trip. We were not prepared in any way to start this trip, what my mother thought might be her skills at sailinh and navigating turned out to be woefully naïve. So many things forgotten, memories jogged by these very detailed writings of how an eleven year old saw the world, astonishing actually that we survived, and…turned out OK, at least one friend of our mother’s family thought so anyway…see we are OK! Ha! I won’t ask my sibling what he thinks…

My letters back to my grandmother must have been quite colorful, if I wrote them in the same way my diary was scripted. I learned she had tea, or maybe something a bit stronger, invited her lady friends over and read them aloud…if only I’d known…ha! Maybe better I only found out many decades later.

The photos also need going through, they are scattered in many books, some need to be tossed, the aroma of mildew and cat urine from the decades of my mother’s hoarding isn’t something I need to live with anymore. It would be nice to have some chronological order to them all, for me anyway. We have no kids, they will probably go to the dump when I am gone but for the time being, it is my life. But enough of the past, today was supposed to be my day off from that, seems I’ve been clenching my teeth reliving it, so far, just to Panama, so I’ll leave it there but I will keep you updated as I get along with the adventures.

The squirrels are out in full force, their snow tunnels are rapidly melting and it has been exciting for the Traveling Mewberries to stalk them, no casualties yet, and even an esteemed chipmunk has been seen, out from it’s long Winter’s sleep poking about in the grass! Gamora has come off the deck as the snow has receded, it is now fit for princess paws:) I may even be able to see the dock and canoe in the morning!

Walking is now a treat. No ice in which to slip and slide on, and no snowshoes needed! I check our mail every day, it’s a kilometer walk out and another back, sometimes I wander down the Long Lake Road for a few kilometers, watching what is emerging from the banks of snow. The tiny birds nests have me wondering just who they belonged to and the spent American Bittersweet husks a colorful reminder of what will grow back. Every Paper Birch along the road is a unique individual, like us.

I was sad to find out a younger barn friend from our past had unfriended us, and blocked us as we disagreed on the current events it seems, truck convoys, school closures and who knows what else. Perhaps this pandemic has made us all a bit more thin skinned than we might have been. I respect others opinions, ideology, religion or whatever groove it is that you choose to follow. It doesn’t mean I won’t add what I believe though, silence is not something that sits well with me;) It seems to be happening the world over, instead of agreeing to disagree, families are torn apart by ideologies that differ. Will humans ever be able to coexist peacefully? I’m not sure they can some days, when it becomes too dark a cloud, I try to remind myself of the amazing gracious people I have encountered in my life and I am always thankful for getting to share a bit of their life, or a place and a time because our lives are not infinite.

All this walking gives you too much time to think! Ha!

Better to sit and photograph the birds:) Things are starting to change! The Grackles and Red Winged Blackbirds have arrived and what the symphony they create in the morning! Squeaks and grunts and well, grackling, like raucous cymbals in the hands of a two year old, well, let’s call it bird jazz! Hahahahaha!

It’s a welcome noise, a sign the land is waking up, so far no ladies, but the gentleman birds know they’ll eventually show up, this is the dress rehearsal!

If we all stopped to smell the rich earthy odor that is the ground emerging from it’s cover of snow, we’d all be a bit better off most days. Slow down, listen more, less me, more us, this world would certainly be an even more spectacular place to live than it currently is. Saludos y abrazos amigos, I’ll post a picture of the canoe and dock when I can recognize it! For now, just the joyous reflection of the sky on the surface water as all that ice below slowly melts, maybe it is Spring after all:)

Only 16 days left until Spring…oh joy!

I am not making any predictions…So far in the week we have had temperatures ranging from -22° Celsius to a predicted plus 13°…snow, rain, freezing rain and yes, some sun. We don’t want another plowing bill like Februarys please! So, occasionally you have to laugh out loud. Never knew Maya was a comedian but those ears had us all rolling, she was the only one, with snow covered ears after a wild snow squall that dumped multiple inches in less than an hour…no donkeys with snow on them, or any of the others felt it was necessary to stick their heads out into the squall from the run in shed to see what was going on, but she’s a nosy mare, and there might, just might have been some carrots to dole out she figured;) This time of year we need laughs. I’ve had a beak full, nose full, snoot full, whatever, of Winter. We were deceived last year! Sunday will be a challenge, freezing rain warnings, we won’t be going anywhere, thankfully there is still sand and salt in our barrels if we have to venture out in some emergency…not likely, hopefully:) but then, hey, it’s supposed to snow more on top of it Monday….

Driving down to the visit the horses takes us across the Narrows Lock. There is always some open water in places and sometimes we get to see something special. This beautiful Mute swan for one. I stopped to take a picture of a Mallard pair that flew off, saw a piece of floating ice and was quite surprised when it moved! Holy cow, er, holy swan! This is a LARGE bird, they weigh up to 26 lbs…I’m thinking ginormous turkey in comparison:) The next week I was excited to see two, so had Mike stop the truck and pull over in the howling wind (it was snow squall Maya snow ears day) I could barely get the truck door open as the wind was blowing down the lake but these lovely birds had found some peace and quiet in the lee of the rock wall that supports the road…and they weren’t the same swan either! Trumpeter swans!

I didn’t stay long in the wind but maybe they’ll be here next week as well:) Always a beautiful drive and something new. The Snow Buntings were gathering in the almost clear corn fields feasting as well. Such amazing aerial acrobatics as their flock soars and dives, everyone in perfect precision:) The almost clear corn fields…that was last week. We’ve had some amazing days that made you smile and think…Spring may just arrive, ah Mother Natures cruel sense of humour;)

A bit of rain leveled the rather large pile of snow on the lake so much you could casually walk across it! I’m sure the deer were overjoyed after trudging through the drifts. Mom was out front, waited for baby to get near before picking up canter all the way to the other side. I went down to poke about, and yes, there were parts of the red canoe emerging and the most beautiful ice feathers had formed on the bare surface areas. They are a delicate structure of crystals of ice that build on the windward side of objects. Lots of air moisture helped out with temperatures, gasp…above freezing!

And such happy cats! The steps and stairs to the lake were bare and hallelujah! It was time to practice for the “Winter Catolympics!” Stair rail balancing beam is always a tricky act! The mounts and dismounts can be quite spectacular;)

The descending stairway to the lake can be a tricky event! Especially when one is interrupted by the current champion Rocket!

of course they made up and went back down for a good sniff under the mysterious recesses of the dock! Who knows what strange beats wander under there?!

They do keep us amused these three Traveling Mewberries:) Gamora trots down occasionally but usually races back up, her favourite ploy is to take off down the driveway with one of us following, we have learned, if we don’t run after her, she usually turns around and comes back, it took a few tries of following her all the way to our neighbours porch before we figured this out…who owns who here I ask?;)

No wonder I need to sit outside and watch/photograph the birds to catch my breath! Raising head strong young cats is a full time job;) Actually cleaning up after them is more like it;)

We have a few newcomers at the bird feeders. Pine Siskins showed up and even a few more Common Redpolls from the great White North! Such bright splashes of colour!

Our usual cast of characters have been excellent models! Even in the snow, which is always a challenge but so pretty when you get it right!

They have their routines, as we all seem to. Certain birds show up at the feeders at certain times. Everyone leaves when the Jays descend, or when the mafia (squirrels) show up:)