A fun project…if you are slightly masochistic, Ha! Pebble mosaics!

Do you love leaning over for great lengths of time, want to firm up your abs, have a good set of knee pads already, and don’t mind playing with cement and grout? Maybe pebble mosaics making is for you! 😉

The round garden and path in Baja California flashback 2014

I was younger then…hahahaha! 2014 and my knees were younger as well! There was well over 160′ of paths, it took me a while and the rocks were so easy to source. A drive down to the coast netted me various colours and presorted sizes of these lovely beach pebbles to work with! They came in feed sacks, weighed, way more than feed, but the guys would load them up down at the beach and I’d drive them back to the ranch.

I had great ambitions this Spring as we were leaving Baja and convinced Mike a few sacks of the pebbles in the back of the truck would be out of the way and hey, it’s a big truck, it wouldn’t notice a few more hundred pounds of rocks would it? They were already bagged up so I didn’t get a chance to see them super well, they were blue, 1″ I thought, but turns out most were quite a bit smaller, sigh, that just means they take WAY more time to place but it also lets you add better detail. Still interested? Go buy this book!

Maggie Howarth’s book is the bible for pebble moaiscs! https://www.maggyhowarth.co.uk/ A big thank you to Stefan and Stephanie who gifted me a new and expanded version of the book!

She goes through all the steps you need to do these, but you do need to practice with stone flow, filling, and of course designs. I sketched out most of what I wanted to do, then added the pebble shapes in pencil to see what direction they needed to go. In Baja it was easy, we were all sand, everywhere, just playing with pebbles beside the path, laying them out, then moving them over when I was ready…not here in Canada. Did I mention our house actually sits on one huge rock?! That was then…this is now:

First, acquire pebbles! I had the four large bags I brought back from Baja, plus two I bought in San Diego of the maroon colour, then I knew it wasn’t going to be enough so I dragged Mike all over Ottawa looking for pebbles until I came upon Cohen and Cohen Natural Stone. All in search of those beach pebbles from Baja. Careful here, this store could be addictive! I wandered around glassy-eyed staring at rocks, big as VW’s to tiny wee bits of stone…heaven! Apparently, most people start these projects in Spring the lovely lady explained as I fondled their large box of sample stones up front. No, I didn’t steal any! They didn’t have many left, but she’d take me back and show me. They had GREEN ones! I was very very happy, and some beautiful semi-polished beige ones as well. I took their last 5 bags, sorry folks, you’ll have to wait for Spring now! I felt like Gollum clutching at the one ring with my rocks!

I went home and started sorting. Buckets are great for this, separate by colour, and size. Also, have someone strong go with you to get the sand and cement;) ha! I Baja, I would go into the arroyo with the tractor bucket, scoop up some sand, then sift it through various mesh sizes to get my mix, not here! OMG, you can just buy sand! Clean, perfect sand! I was cheating I felt…and a bag of Portland cement. I asked about premixed bags of cement but they all were with gravel, no good at all! Now, back home to plan!

You need some stonework to contain your pebble mosaics. I walked around our large rock here, and found dozens of small rocks that fit the bill to make a framework to work within. I then built a 32″ x 32″ frame of wood, put it on the ground, and filled it with the wonderful sand, this was the starting point of the designs. Caution, if you have cats, such a frame was approached with great glee the first day, dug in, half the sand flung out as happy cats spun around in it, and pooped in…sigh…note to self, cover frame with white tarp, especially if there is a partial design on the go!

The actual first preparation was getting a small load of crushed rock/gravel dumped in front of the alcove. I needed to level the area off I was working in so water would run off. I wetted it down and tamped it with a piece of wood…Baja style, a 2″x 6″X 12″ long with a handle screwed on, for several days until I was satisfied it was really well packed down. I’m a bit worried about the freeze and thaw but we’ll see! Life is an adventure right?!

I’d seen some pebble mosaics surrounded by white rocks so I thought I might give it a try. The first bag I bought was marble, too soft and falling apart, perhaps suited to potted plants but not mosaics. I also went looking for glass pebbles to do the wings of the dragonfly and bumblebee I’d planned. See, still sourcing rocks! Walmart had glass pebbles for vases so I bought two bags of those and found some 1″ ones online, and ordered them, Amazon can be handy! I did read to keep the glass pebbles out of high-traffic areas so decided they would be on my right, where we don’t walk in as much. Then to the planning!

Decided on a bumblebee to fill the first small corner, the dragonfly was getting too big! Those wings! Finally found some smaller white stones that were not too soft. Added some stones around the white that I brought back from Baja. After the design is set into the dry cement and sand mix I tamp it down with a 2″ x 6″ X 1″ board and hammer very gently to try to get it as level as possible. I angled this one down for drainage. Then it gets sprayed with a hand sprayer until thoroughly soaked, repeat every four hours then tomorrow again until it is set. I use the board to stop the work, seams are always tough! This is where the practice comes in! I found a small sprayer for insecticides/fertilizer at Home Hardware for under $30. Not too heavy, easy to fill, and pump up as well. I was happy for some extra cushions below my knees on top of the tiling pads I have! My knees appear to be saying I am not immortal…Ha!

The next day I retrieved my shade umbrella from the front, if I am going to abuse my knees, at least it will be shady abuse!

Dragonfly was moved from the frame full of sand to the cement and sand mix beside the bumblebee. I mix small batches in the wheelbarrow, one cement, and three sand, mix and mix and mix until it is absolutely all the same colour! I fill the area I’m working in about 2-2.5″ deep, giving me room to tamp down the bigger pebbles. After I place the main design I think: try to keep following the flow, like water, rivers, eddies forming circles. Creating a bit of movement. In Mexico initially, I did a lot of straight lines but this needed something different, you learn to look at the pebbles and sizes and create other small designs in those spaces you are filling. I’d forgotten the leaning over the entire design for hours feeling…That’s what those stomach muscles are for!

I struggled with a few different bird of prey designs but this one fit the space. I got it a bit close to the edge of the alcove but was happy I found a perfect stone for the beak! One of the several hundred rocks I picked up in Baja, Arizona, and New Mexico walking on trails and around the campgrounds! This was a bit larger, longer, all those small rocks, yikes, that took a few hours of sitting, placing, sorting, getting up and moving around, then going back to placing! I was running out of the burgundy rocks I brought back from Baja, I was even using the ugly ones, not symmetrical, placing them along the edge of the house where they were less noticeable! I did have @4 80lb bags of the smaller-than-I-anticipated rocks! Ha!

For the last design I struggled making mushrooms, they just didn’t look right, I still had a bunch of the beautiful green and beige semi-polished pebbles so decided a turtle it was going to be!

I used all the remaining burgundy stones and had to switch over to the small blue ones to finish the project. I’d get up every 20 minutes and sort through another giant pail of tiny blue rocks, picking out the biggest ones to use! Then it was done! The base design! It now needed to be cured for a week or so. I wanted to see how the smaller pebbles held up as well. It was watered twice a day, this time with just the hose for the entire week, or more, while I went in search of a sanded grout colour I liked. Yes, it still needed to be grouted! ha!

I apply approximately a 1/2″ layer, sometimes more, of dry sanded coloured grout and use a soft paintbrush to ensure it gets into every small crevice and crack then it is misted with a sprayer just until water pools. Then you have to go over it a few times to ensure the bubbles and small holes are filled. Occasionally you have to go back after it is dry to fill small missed spots or where it is too thin. I missed a few bits that were too high with cement that I had to chip out with a chisel and apply more grout to several small spots. Once it’s cured for a few days, it gets sprayed for the next week, I can use grout remover/muriatic acid on the white and light-colored rocks to remove any grout haze, then seal it! I did finally find some “earth” coloured grout at Home Depot, bonus was it was on sale for $11 a 25lb bag…woohoo! I bought the last three they had, wasn’t sure how much I would need. I have leftovers for the next project…mwhahahahahaha!

A video of the design after grouting!:


I left it for a few weeks after grouting, took my time, cleaned the grout haze off the white rocks, filled a few more holes, and looked around for sealer. Our friends Pam and Graham mentioned they had used a concrete sealer around their stamped pool edge and asked if I wanted to come look. I wanted a bit of a sheen, and hopefully, something to protect from the freeze and thaw cycle. I liked the way the sealer looked, they told me to take the 5-gallon can and use what I needed, which turned out to be only about 5 cups worth, and then to bring it back! Thanks you two! So ta-dah, the finished project! I waited until the leaves were not blowing about too much and got out the knee pads and cushions for one more spell! I applied the sealer with a brush, the small foam roller wasn’t working getting into the smaller crevices and it looks beautiful!

I will let you know in the Spring how the freeze-thaw worked out and snow removal as well;) Excuse my shadow here!

Project Pebble 2023!

Anyone want to borrow the book, let me know;)

♪♫♪ Wild geese that fly, with the moon on their wing ♫♪♫, wait, is my husband yelling at me to stop singing the Sound of Music? Ha!

I just can’t help myself when they start flying over, not my husband’s favorite movie, but I know ALL the words to the songs! They have been paddling by as well, Fall, first day, sigh. Hummingbirds are gone, the feeders I’ll leave up until the end of the month for any straggler, but the last sound of wings was two nights ago. I do miss them, it seems so quiet. I did get a few lovely photos right up until the last day! They were ignoring the flowers and heading straight for the sugar water, the jet fuel of migration!

It never ceases to amaze me these feather-light birds go so far, maybe I’m a bit envious, Mexico will sound good in January! This Winter we are sticking out with the Chickadees and Woodpeckers! Nearly all the winter wood is in and stacked, taking a break today, sat and watched the Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers. The Pileated put in a brief appearance as it called and hammered a few tree trunks and then moved on through the forest. Hopefully, they’ll come back for the suet block this Winter.

The Goldfinches are still feeding babies, they nest so late! The White Breasted Nutchatches are fighting over territories and rights, always a kerfuffle when they are around and the trees, green in one direction, red in another, Gold to the left, yellow and brown to the right! Absolutely stunning. It’s later this year but Mike pointed out that with no stress from the moths, they have had a much better summer. The apple trees lining the hedgerows and in people’s yards are covered wherever you look, speaking to a successful year of flowers and fruit.

Did I mention the bugs, daytime ones anyway, are gone! Hallef*ckinglujah! I can walk out to check the mailbox without being carried away by deer flies! I can amble, oh dear, that means stopping to take pictures of course, it’s not exercise Mike says the way I do it…Ha! It takes time to see all the sights! The new bugs, and dragonflies, the few remaining butterflies, and fruits, on trees and shrubs, I have to see it all! There are still a few mushrooms out there as well! One MUST explore! 🙂

..and all the berries! I’m checking stock for those winter wreaths! ha! The birds will probably beat me to all the holly! The grapes are already being eaten! The Bittersweet Nightshade we will avoid! Pretty, but not to be consumed along with the White Baneberry!

..and the flowers, those last beautiful blooms before Fall are upon us and the frosts turn everything brown! Asters and Goldenrod, Queen Anne’s Lace and Nodding Beggarticks…WTF??? Hahahahaha! Who gets to name these things? I love the Gentiana andrewsii, the bottle gentian, closed gentian, or closed bottle gentian, it’s a herbaceous species of flowering plant in the gentian family. The flower never opens. According to iNaturalist:
The closed flowers make entrance to feed on pollen or nectar difficult for many species of insects. Those strong enough to enter through the top of the flower include the digger bee species Anthophora terminalis and the bumblebee species Bombus fervidus, Bombus griseocollis, and Bombus impatiens. The eastern carpenter bee chews a narrow slit at the base of the flower and “steals” nectar without pollinating the plant, a behavior known as nectar robbing. The holes in the petals created by this species allow smaller insects to also access the nectar and pollen, including the honeybee, the green sweat bee species, and the eastern masked bee. Isn’t our natural world amazing!

…and one frilly mushroom! I believe this is Rhodocollybia maculata, also known as the Spotted Toughshank. There are also a few red Chanterelles still poking their way up through the old leaves! Turkey Tails are growing on the dead branches and trunks of soon-to-fall trees.

At one of the hills, we came upon a Bald-faced Hornet’s nest! Such a delicate work of art hanging by a thin thread. Feather-light, I gave it a good berth, allergic to these guys! I’ll be back in Winter to save the nest if it survives once the hornets are gone!

I avoided getting too close to this Bald-faced Hornet’s nest! It was a beauty though!

and the caterpillars! Wow! They never cease to amaze me with their furry bits and bumps and man, they are just wonderfully weird! It’s always amazing to see what moth or butterfly they will actually turn into!

The Tiger Moth caterpillar is busy making its way through all the leaves on a sunflower plant. It has a few left to go. I wonder where it will cocoon? He has a racing stripe down his underside and such a furry back! This morning he/she/it was covered in dew drops! A large bumblebee was buried in one of the dahlias, once it warmed and dried off it, it was off flying. So much life in these potted flowers beside the driveway! An eastern Comma was out flying about, This butterfly seldom visits flowers, but rather feeds on sap, rotting fruit, salts and minerals from puddling, and dung. He was interested in the woodpile!..and the frogs…Ha!

The resident Gray Tree Frog, he lives with his spouse in the cushion bin. I often have to move him to get at the cushions. Today I placed him on a canna lily leaf as I took the cushions out to sit on them, then put him back, it doesn’t seem to trouble him in any way;) His young ones, several of them I think, are tiny! Barely an inch across and very very green. Mike rescued one from Rocket who seized it inside by the screen, it must have squeezed in through one of the holes! It was safely placed back outside! The traveling mewberries consider the frogs a source of amusement, we take them away to safety when we can but apparently, frog legs are very tasty as well! The beautiful toad was down at Plum Hollow, what a fabulous creature! So much life!

Apparently, lying down on the ground to photograph a mushroom…or a leaf…Causes great consternation to Mr. Groot…Perhaps he is worried I have died……and won’t be able to feed him, feeble human that I am;) Ha! No lying down and photographing he says! So many rules these cats!

Anyway, this is beginning to feel like a novela so I will sign off! Next up, pebble mosaics! I will explain in better detail what is involved in making these fun projects! It’s time for a paddle to check out some colours soon too!

Hard to resist these morning reflections!

…and wait…one more shot, this one I managed to clean up, it was very noisy and far away but it really did make me chuckle all morning long! A juvenile Ruby-throated Hummingbird had been exploring the red flowers I have in one one the baskets, they are nearing their end and the flower came off on his beak. He flew away, not amused, and pondered just how to get the “Holy Mary, mother of Jesus” flower off his frickin’ beak! Ha! I don’t think he was amused at my chuckling from far away;) He shook his head, looked left and right and up and down before using his small wee foot to remove it…I felt he might be of Irish descent and all, with his swearing…hahahahaha! Isn’t nature grand!

Even hummingbirds have bad mornings…

September is Fair time! Perth Fair that is!

…and it was a scorcher! With 32 classes to start they were still dragging the ring a half hour after start time and we waited! I think Jennifer groaned audibly at me, “You said we’d be done early!” She proclaimed, last year it had all gone quickly and we were done by 4, maybe not this time! Horse Shows! I was glad she had decided to judge, I told her misery loves company! I appreciate her amazing eye, I’m still looking at a horse’s pretty face and she can tell me it’s not tracking up from behind, right hind leg before I have even gotten past the ears! She has ridden all the disciplines and has so much knowledge, so a great person to judge and help anyone coming up in the ranks! And hey, we were in the shaded building on the edge of the ring, judges, announcer and the amazing Kristyn who organized it all! Not me, I was out in the sun for the first half of the day before admitting defeat and retreating for the 2nd half of the show to take pictures from the building only!

Perth Fair ribbons and prizes!

This wonderful Fair is run mostly by volunteers. We ran the Hunter Horse Show for many years when we had Ranyhyn Farm, our equestrian center, so it is nice to lend a hand, a chance for local kids to shine, taking photos and dragging the jumps around is the least I can do! We were well fed by Tommy, delicious pulled pork sandwiches, what else could you want! It started with the English Classes.

Perth Fair English classes

There was only one bad pony with a tough little rider and all day long we only lost one kid, bucked off, to an over-enthusiastic horse! It wasn’t a hard hit to the ground so all got up, brushed off the sand and carried on! The came the Western classes…

Western Classes

and then the pairs classes:)

Pairs Class

I got a few headshots of the beautifully clean and turned-out horses, the tongue wagger was very comedic. There was a Spanish-speaking family standing next to me at the ring laughing, “Qué divertido esa lengua!” I had to chuckle along with them as well! Provided that the rider is not pulling on the metal bit, and causing pain, it may just be a habit, expression of anxiety, or expression of concentration. Every case can be different.

A few participants

The we stopped for lunch before the jumping! We had a few hands to help us set up and measure the course that Kristyn had made up. I sat and watched some of the rides as we ate. I zoomed in on some of the faces on one ride, having fun? Not sure;) Ha! We agreed the teacups, or merry-go-round might be more our style;)

The heavy horse and mini show had also started out towards the Scotch Line, that can always cause even the quietest horse to have a look at loudspeakers blaring and jingling harnesses! And those minnies! Way too cute! Please tell me those barrels are full of wine! My perfect ride! hahahaha! I’ll take the large barrel por favor! Merci!

Maxies and minis!

The jumping was fun, as always, we had a few cringes and crossed fingers, stay on kid! Hang in there, what amazing ponies, doing their jobs. Brings back memories of many previous shows!

Perth Fair Jumping
Perth Fair over fences classes

I did miss a few rounds as the camera battery started to die before it had processed about 60 shots, Perhaps I was shooting too quickly and given the 31° temperature, it wasn’t happy either! I found a corner to stand in where I had a clear shot of the fences, in the shade, Whew…I was sweating even there! These kids and adults are tough, not to mention the horses!

Costume Classes

After the over-fences classes, we pulled the rails and standards to the side of the ring while the Costume class participants were getting ready. My favourite part of the show! We had a John Deer Tractor, Harry Potter Pony, a Pirate, a butterfly (?) (too damn cute!), Barbie, A Harley Pony, a busted orange-clad pony and a cop and Yoda with Chewbacca:) I had to admit the cop was my favourite, the pony, Slick’n’Dry was busted for impeding traffic;) Ha!

…and there was more!!! The games! Egg and spoon, the last egg left in the spoon wins after the walk, trot, canter, and multiple stops! Water cup, the most amount of water left in the cup after several maneuvers wins! Relay race, timed, and whew…we were done!

Perth Fair Games

Shouts out to all the volunteers at the Fair and Kristyn who did an amazing job putting the Family Fun Horse Show together! Jennifer did a wonderful job judging, kids even came and asked for more advice, love to see that! Announcers/ring stewards Amanda and Janet, thank you as well! And many thanks to Tommy for lunch! I think it took me as long to go through the photos as the entire horse show! I posted a link online here at the website for the kids and adults to download the pictures, free of charge for them to share and keep. I’ll leave it up for a while, many more pictures there if you want to have a look.

So, we’ll wait for next year’s Fair! Maybe I’ll get out and take a look around at the rides and heavy horses if it’s not boiling again! Look for those casks of wine;) Ha! Saludos amigos! Salutations aux amis!

See you next year at the Fair!

Whaddya mean it’s September? I didn’t even get to part 3 of “Where did August go?” Ha!

I’m outta here!

In a few days we’ll be saying goodbye, or just one morning, they will be gone, that whirring sound of wings and squeaky chirps defending feeders, flowers, and perches. The Ruby-throated Hummingbird adults, males and females are gone, headed South, just the juveniles remain, playing tag at the feeder, seeing who is the toughest, stopping for a drink or to look at a possibly edible nectar-filled flower!

How do I know they are juveniles? They can’t figure out how the feeder works! Ha! And they are trying all the flowers, very cautiously, is this one good, or not? Fun to watch! Groot, Gamora, and Rocket say they would like to be hummingbird photography assistants in the morning when I sit, drink my coffee, and watch their antics. I have assured them I need the hummingbirds flying, not brought to me in their clenched jaws…;)

They still think they could be helpers;) Ha! Those sad faces…get me every time! At least they get to watch! The flower baskets are still popular out at the lakeside, everything that is red is game and out the other side they have been exploring the zinnias, dahlias, and gladiolas.

The Canna lilies are again a hit this year! I’ll dig them up after the first hard frost and store them in the basement with the dahlias, gladiolas, and crocosmias bulbs until the Spring. Next Spring I’d like to plant more in pots on the deck, where I can sit and really enjoy the show!

Nailed that landing!

We delivered the kittens’ Torch and Mask to Mike’s friend Dave after they quarantined for two weeks in the trailer. It was sad to see them go but at least we can go visit and watch them grow! Their sniffles were cleaned up, first shots, no more goopy eyes and eating us out of house and home! Ha! The traveling mewberries said there were terrible little mini me’s in the trailer, they wanted nothing to do with them! Let them be GONE! Three is just fine they said, NO MORE! Hahahahaha! Rocket thought he was being replaced I think:( Poor guy!

The trailer is cleaned and ready to be winterized. We’ve had it for sale, thinking of something a bit smaller but the market has been soft, if it doesn’t sell, maybe we’ll take it East next Summer and explore some of Canada we have never seen! We looked at a few newer ones at a dealer, Oh my we are spoiled with the quality of that DRV, everything else seems so flimsy and poorly made. We’ll have to look for something older to find the sturdiness and workmanship we cherish in what we have!

In the meantime, I’ll keep an eye out for these guys tomorrow morning while I drink my coffee. I may need a blanket! Our hot snap gave way to cooler temperatures today and finally some rain in the early morning hours. We needed that! Trees are starting to turn here and there, Fall is coming. Stay tuned for some fun shots from the Perth Fair Horse Show and my latest pebble project! Saludos amigos and Hello September! Did I mention I love Fall! Ha!

It was still pretty dark at 6 a.m. but those cloud reflections were too pretty to pass up! Colour faded quickly but it was a beautiful sight for twenty minutes or so:)

Where did August go? Part 2-Gone Loony!

Poodling around the bay:)

Those flat calm days, where the canoe will glide through the water by just thinking, well almost, I wish I had those powers! Our neighbours down the lake had said the osprey nest was full of activity so I took a few hours, poodled (our riding version of taking a nice slow walk on horseback around the field, go for a poodle!) around the far bay first and then slowly made my way down the lake in the lee, no wind. It was quiet, I hunted down a few dragonflies, stared at some bluegills below the surface of the water but hardly a bird to be seen.

I reached the island and turned the corner and I saw a tremendous splashing going on, at first I thought the bird might be in distress, so I inched closer and then just sat and watched for a while, a loon was having a magnificent bath. It truly looked like it was trying to dislodge something from itself but no, just having a wild and crazy time. I was getting some shade from the clouds and it was almost windless so I sat and watched.

“Extreme preening” Ha! Occasionally a loon will bathe more vigorously, splashing its wings in the water, doing somersaults and plunge dives, and aggressively tending to its feathers with its bill. This behavior is often reported as a loon trying to remove tangled fishing line. But the loon is actually giving itself a thorough bath, trying to remove mites and other parasites. To a loon, it may feel good – like jumping into a lake on a really hot day!

I was humming ♫♪♫ Splish Splash I was taking a bath!

They was a-splishing and a-splashing, reelin’ with the feelin’.

Moving and a-grooving, rocking and a-rolling, yeah!

I was a rolling and a-strolling, reeling with the feeling.

Moving and a-groovin’, splishing and a-splashing, yeah! ♫♪♫

A preening loon may roll onto its side or back and pull at its breast and belly feathers with its bill, or, stick one leg in the air and paddle in circles. It may rub its head against its back and shoulders to disperse oil. Loons and other birds secrete oil from a gland at the base of the tail called the uropygial gland. When preening, loons take oil from this gland in their bills and use it to coat their feathers.

While I let the occasional breeze blow me about in the canoe out of the corner of my eye I caught this ones mate, or buddy, just quietly paddling along, diving occasionally, not the raucous show this one was putting on for me. Occasionally it would dive and come up fifteen or twenty feet from the canoe, not a care in the world other than trying to have a bath! It could care less that I was there, the crazy loon voyeur;) Ha!

I did mention Loony right? A legend says that to see a Loon means a dream will come true or a wish will be answered. Why do loons flap constantly while they are flying? I can hear them going over head! Thanks to their tiny wings, loons simply can’t glide or soar, but must ALWAYS flap to stay aloft. Loon wings are so small compared to their body weight that even with strong flapping they can’t support the weight of the loon in the air if they’re missing a couple of feathers. For loons, daily preening is necessary in order to maintain the waterproofing of their feathers and keep them aligned. Individual feathers are like shingles on a roof, their interlocking structure creates a barrier so that water cannot reach the skin. Loons bathe to clean their feathers and rid themselves of feather lice or other external parasites. 

When swimming, loons typically rely solely on their feet for propulsion, however, they may use their wings as paddles to help ‘row’ themselves across the water when they need to escape a situation quickly. Male and female loons have identical plumage, which makes them nearly impossible to tell apart by sight alone. Although males are generally about 25% larger than females, this size difference is difficult to determine. Adult loons weigh from 7 to 15 pounds and measure roughly 3 feet from bill tip to outreached feet.

I completely forgot about the ospreys! The sun did finally come out from behind the clouds, I was just hoping I caught this Loon fast enough to see all the water droplets flying about! It was magical! I was looking forward to a tailwind paddling back as I’d paddled against the wind to get down to the islands but the workout Gods must have been chuckling as the wind turned around again and I had to huff and puff to make it back to the dock. Dastardly wind gods!

I was thrilled to be able to just sit quietly and watch these magnificent birds. Sorry about the loon dump of photos, I couldn’t just pick a few!  They showed no distress and went about bathing and preening their feathers until a motorboat buzzed by and they gave out a few howling wails and calls…just goes to show how much we actually disturb wildlife, humans seem to be good at that…🙁 I have missed our baby, sadly it didn’t make it. Whether the eagle got it, or bad weather, or just bad luck who can say. It was hard to listen to the parents wailing, looking, mourning. They carried on their cries for about two weeks before moving on. I hope they return next year and with any luck, can raise two. It’s a precarious life that of a baby loon. I’ll sign off with my favourite shot of the day, such joy, we need more of this in all our lives! Saludos y abrazos amigos.

The pure joy of water:) For my friend Joanne, may she fly free.

Where did August go? Part 1-Mushroom hunting

Summer does this every year, it flies by, it doesn’t matter if you are busy or not, happy, sad or outright crazy, it flies by;) The rains came, and they haven’t stopped. If I could wave my magic wand, if I had one, (does anyone know of a wand store near Ottawa? Ha!) well, I’d do a lot of things, bring loved ones back, send clouds to British Columbia, move hurricanes out of people’s paths, create world peace, yeah, if only I had a wand. I’ll simply welcome the rain when and where it falls, no matter how hard or drenching, I’m sure every living thing out there is soaking it up, especially the mushrooms.

I’ve seen varieties I didn’t even know existed, a few that are regulars every year, and then some downright crazy-coloured ones as well! I asked Mike to pull over on our road to see what the hell those bright red things were, did someone throw out some plastic, were they geranium petals, What? I was wondering but no, nature’s marvels! Candy Apple Waxy Cap (Hygrocybe cuspidata). Such a bright red! I decided to take a slow walk around the yard, getting down to eye level a few times to see just what WAS growing in the grass, I didn’t have the heart to cut it to the south of the house there were so many things popping up!

On the North side of the lawn, these were my finds. The Common Funnel (Infundibulicybe gibba), it was full of rain before I picked it up to bring it into the light, where Fairies bathe;) it is growing out of an old piece of tree trunk/bark. The Common Gilled Mushrooms and Allies(Order Agaricales) meaning…I dunno what the hell it is! Ha! We call these LBMs (little brown mushrooms) a friend remarked. And FYI, all ID’s are not set in stone so don’t eat any you are not 100% sure of or you may be taking a trip, not walking, good, or bad one to the hospital! The Red-mouth Bolete(Boletus subvelutipes) or what I call the “double dong” had me chuckling all week. A model for a double stick onto the floor didlo perhaps? I saw it in a catalog once! Ha! Commonly known as the red-mouth bolete, is a bolete fungus in the family Boletaceae. It is found in Asia and North America, where it fruits on the ground in a mycorrhizal association with both deciduous and coniferous trees. Its fruit bodies (mushrooms) have a brown to reddish-brown cap, bright yellow cap flesh, and a stem covered by furfuraceous to punctate ornamentation and dark red hairs at the base. Its flesh instantly stains blue when cut, but slowly fades to white. The fruit bodies are poisonous, and produce symptoms of gastrointestinal distress if consumed. So, yup, not for dinner. Now, Coral Fungi-Genus Ramaria, it’s almost like you are underwater! The genus Ramaria comprises approximately 200 species of coral fungi. Several, such as Ramaria flava, are edible and picked in Europe, though they are easily confused with several mildly poisonous species capable of causing nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea; these include R. formosa and R. pallida. Three Ramaria species have been demonstrated to contain a very unusual organoarsenic compound homoarsenocholine. Now that is a mouthful! But, no thanks again! But! Eastern Black Trumpet (Craterellus fallax) you can eat these!!! Skip the Common Earthball (Scleroderma citrinum) not edible;) Ha!

So many different kinds of Amanita. Amanita multisquamosa or the small funnel-veil amanita is a species of Amanita from the coniferous forest of eastern North America. They have such beautiful patterns on them! Marasmius oreades, also known as the fairy ring mushroom or fairy ring champignon, is a mushroom native to North America and Europe. Its common names can cause some confusion, as many other mushrooms grow in fairy rings, such as the edible Agaricus campestris and the poisonous Chlorophyllum molybdites.
Marasmius oreades is a choice edible mushroom. Its sweet taste lends it to baked goods such as cookies. It is also used in foods such as soups, stews, etc. Traditionally, the stems (which tend to be fibrous and unappetizing) are cut off and the caps are threaded and dried in strings. A possible reason why this mushroom is so sweet-tasting is due to the presence of trehalose, a type of sugar that allows M. oreades to resist death by desiccation. When exposed to water after being completely dried out, the trehalose is digested as the cells completely revive, causing cellular processes, including the creation of new spores, to begin again. How cool is that!

Leucoagaricus leucothites, the white dapperling, or white Agaricus mushroom, is a species of agaric fungus. The species was originally described as Agaricus leucothites by Carlo Vittadini in 1835, and bears similarity to species of that genus. Solomon Wasser transferred it to Leucoagaricus in 1977. While sometimes regarded as edible, the species is suspected of being poisonous due to gastric-upset-causing toxins. It could also be confused with the deadly Amanita ocreata. We’ll skip that one, and a weed? Laccaria laccata, commonly known as the deceiver, or waxy laccaria, is a white-spored species of small edible mushroom found throughout North America and Europe. It is a highly variable mushroom (hence ‘deceiver’), and can look quite washed out, colorless and drab, but when younger it often assumes red, pinkish brown, and orange tones. The species is often considered by mushroom collectors to be a ‘mushroom weed’ because of its abundance and plain stature. So much to learn!

We went for dinner down the lake at Stefanie and Stefan’s lovely cottage and there were HUGE mushrooms there! Over a very tasty dinner and a raspberry infused G&T we enjoyed a wonderful evening, and a new mushroom to me, in their yard lakeside! We had a Bald Eagle swoop right down in front of us here after a fish a Loon had caught! Priceless!

Then I took a walk down the road. I decided to brave what was left of the deer flies and go check the mail as well out at the main road.

Blue, yes friggin’ blue! Lactarius indigo, commonly known as the indigo milk cap, indigo milky, the indigo (or blue) lactarius, or the blue milk mushroom, is a species of agaric fungus in the family Russulaceae. The fruit body color ranges from dark blue in fresh specimens to pale blue-gray in older ones. The milk, or latex, that oozes when the mushroom tissue is cut or broken — a feature common to all members of the genus Lactarius — is also indigo blue, but slowly turns green upon exposure to air.
It is an edible mushroom, and is sold in rural markets in China, Guatemala, and Mexico. In Honduras, the mushroom is called a chora, and is generally eaten with egg; generally as a side dish for a bigger meal.

Red and yellow, edible and not and purple coraL FUNGI! They come in Purple as well I gasped!!!!
Clavaria zollingeri, commonly known as the violet coral or the magenta coral, is a widely distributed species of fungus. 

That was just going OUT the road, on the way back I took one of the wonderful woodland trails:)

From Jelly Babies, how cool is that! Leotia is a genus of cup fungi of the division Ascomycota. Leotia species are globally distributed, and are believed to be ectomycorrhizal. They are commonly known as jelly babies because of the gelatinous texture of their fruiting bodies to Goblet Waxcap-Hygrocybe cantharellus. Hygrocybe cantharellus, commonly known as chanterelle waxy cap, is an agaric (gilled mushroom) in the family Hygrophoraceae, no bigger than my pinky, to more Blood Red Russula-Russula rosaceas and Hygrocybe miniata, commonly known as the vermilion waxcap, is a small, bright red or red-orange mushroom of the waxcap genus Hygrocybe. It is a cosmopolitan species, that is found worldwide. Then the shining waxcaps, a species of fungus in the family Hygrophoraceae. It prefers bogs, swamps, and similar moist habitats and Candy cap or curry milkcap is the English-language common name for several closely related edible species of Lactarius; L. camphoratus, L. fragilis, and L. rubidus. These mushrooms are valued for their highly aromatic qualities and are used culinarily as a flavoring rather than as a constituent of a full meal. Thank you Wikipedia for so much information! All this, on an hour long walk!

It wasn’t all mushrooms;)

There were wildflowers, from Prunella vulgaris, the common self-heal, heal-all, woundwort, heart-of-the-earth, carpenter’s herb, brownwort or blue curls, is an herbaceous plant in the mint family Lamiaceae. Self-heal is edible: the young leaves and stems can be eaten raw in salads; the plant as a whole can be boiled and eaten as a leaf vegetable; and the aerial parts of the plant can be powdered and brewed in a cold infusion to make a beverage. To Purple-flowered Raspberry, wild carrot and Virgin’s-Bower (Clematis virginiana)…and berries!

Not to mention several lovely Leopard Frogs:) ♪♫♪ Walking down a country road ♫♪♫

All thanks to the rain:) I found a few more interesting fungi in the yard his week as well. I looked at one, pink Fairy fingers I was thinking? No, Rose Spindles. It only lasted a day, then its cousin, golden spindles. Crowded Parchment (Stereum complicatum) not just for old libraries it seems, it likes dead branches, Common puffballs, Club Feet (?), and bright red Chanterelles! OMG, they are red! Orange-red! I usually feel like Mother Nature is screaming “DONT EAT ME!” when you see these colours but no…Nature never ceases to amaze me.

As I mentioned, so many fungi! I am not an expert and I have probably mislabed a few of these but OMG, so much incredible life! I have spent hours on my hands and knees just mesmerized with the camera, trying to coax a cat to pose with some, impossible;) Ha! We’ll keep trying!

Hug your loved ones close. It was a very hard week as we said goodbye to a very dear friend battling cancer. I have had a hard time containing my emotions and have a pretty good idea of what her family is going through as well. I don’t have the words to express the grief and pain, I really don’t. Celebrate the time you have, open your eyes, take it all in, it goes so quickly life, and time. Abrazos amigos. I’ll leave you with a look down the lake, magical reflections for souls flying free.

Magical reflections

The calm before the storm…

Mists and fogs rolling in

Some mornings you just have to get up, I can roll over, look out my window and make that decision pretty quickly! It’s pajama photography at its best. Sometimes it’s a sprint down to the water before the colours fade but what got me here was watching the mists roll down the lake like a steamroller. They were tossing and turning, churning, circling. I wondered if the lone fisherman out in his small boat was watching it all roll by and over him, or was he concentrating on his line and reel! Today we have a severe thunderstorm watch in effect, it feels like it, hot, heavy humid air, we may hit 30° Celsius, 90° Flinstone scale. Ugh weather….cooler is coming, maybe more of these early morning mists!

It’s been a long emotional week, a dear friend in hospital, another friend with broken ribs, another had his beautiful cat suddenly pass away after a jump, a blood clot the vet thought, then news that a friend is giving away, rehoming…I hate that word, his two cats, beautiful cats, because his new girlfriend is allergic and suddenly now they are affecting his asthma? I was thinking get a new girlfriend, but she’s a nice woman, how about allergy shots? WTF? Maybe I’m overly sentimental about my cat family but sheesh…get them when you need company, then get rid of them when you don’t. We humans don’t deserve to survive on this planet some days. I had to endure a mother who gave away all my childhood pets and sell our horses, all because they just were not convenient or conducive to her lifestyle at that time, so maybe I’m a bit sensitive to that shit, I’d take my cats over 90% of the earth’s humans. To see the broad spectrum of one man sobbing at the loss of his cat to another’s cavalier attitude towards giving his away was such a spread of emotions. OK, end of rant, like I said, it’s been an emotional week.

The one wonderful thing about the rain and hot humid conditions….mushrooms and lichen are popping up everywhere, these are just in the yard, Fairy Fingers? Ha! Love it! All I need to see now are Dead Man’s Fingers, Xylaria polymorph, they like Beechwood stumps I read, they are REALLY cool looking! Did the first guy who found them stop, and call the police I wonder? Ha! The bugs are still in force, mostly the wicked deer flies, the TIE fighters of the forest here. I feel sorry for the deer and know now why they are all out in the fields! I feel at this point of the summer I must have a flashing neon sign only visible to bugs that reads “Free bug buffet! All the human you can eat or bite!”…sigh…they will be gone soon, all part and parcel of living with nature. C’est la vie:) and no, it’s never convenient, there will always be something you will have to work hard for, and it may work, and it may be in vain, but you never know until you try:) Abrazos amigos, never mind me, I’m cranky today;) We’ll see how the weather Gods treat us later today!

Good morning Long Lake

Those amazing little things that make you smile:)


Nothing cuter than an orange kitten! Love the ladies in the doorway:)

He just wouldn’t quite fit in my purse…😉 Ha! Mike’s good friend Dave feeds these lovel