Sunday, December 21, 2014

December 19 Blooms

          So, I found all of these flowers blooming on Friday, December 19 in the Burlington/Hamilton area on Royal Botanical Garden's properties.  There might have been more but the gardening staff have been busy digging up the old flower bed of summer so some of the "weeds" that I have been watching have been dug up and turned under. Sigh. Anyway all but one of the flowers are "wild" as in growing on their own without being planted or cultivated. Five of them were in old flower beds as weeds. The dandelion was growing and blooming in one of the lawns. There were lots of dandelions seedheads about the area also. The two asters and the yarrow were growing besides the Hamilton Waterfront Trail on the Princess Point side of the road. I am never sure exactly where the border of the RBG is in that area but they are close enough for me to count as basically RBG finds in any case.

        I took some enjoyment is setting up the design for the display photo above using Photoshop. I discovered a new action in Photoshop that allows one to make lines to exact angles that made the process a lot easier. It appears that there is always something new to learn in Photoshop.

        I made up the angles first so that there could be 9 equal parts of the large circle, then figured out by experimenting what size the circles needed to be to fit into the parts. After making and placing all the smaller circles I put the larger one into the centre and then just cut and pasted from the flower photos into the template before erasing the template. It kept me off the streets and out of the yard for a couple of hours and was a good way to "rest" as my cold virus does not want me out right now anyway.

Monday, November 03, 2014

Fall Wild Flower Walk

        Every year since 1981 I have led a wild flower walk during the weekend closest to the end of October and beginning of November. For the last 12 years or so Fleur-Ange has co-lead with me. Most, but not all, of the walks have been on the Hamilton Waterfront trail for the last few years. There seem to be more flowers there later in the season. I am attributing the streetlights by the trail as well as the location right next to the harbour for the later blooms. In any case there are always more flowers blooming there.

        This year, on Saturday, November 1st, we found 52 wild flowers in bloom. Following is the list and two photos:

Alyssum, Hoary *
Aster, Frost
Aster, Heath
Aster, New England
Aster, Panicled

Beggar Tick Photo by Fleur-Ange

Beggar Tick, Tall
Bindweed, Hedge
Black-Eyed Susan
Bugleweed, Rough
Catnip *
Chickweed, Mouse-Ear *
Chicory *
Cinquefoil, Rough
Clover, White *
Clover, White Sweet *
Crown-vetch,       Purple  *
Dandelion, Red-Seeded *
Dogwood, Red-Osier (S)
Evening Primrose, Common
Flax, Common *
Fleabane, Daisy
Galinsoga *
Galinsoga, Small-Flowered
Goldenrod, Lance-Leaved
Goldenrod, Tall
Groundsel, Sticky * (S.Ragwort)
Knotgrass, Common *
Knotweed, Japanese *
Lady's Thumb *
Medick, Black *
Mint, Wild

Moth Mullein Photo by Dean

Mustard, Black *
Nightshade, Eastern Black
Queen Anne's Lace *
Ragweed, Common
Ragweed, Perennial (Western)
Saint Johnswort, Common *
Smartweed,   Water
Sow Thistle, Common *
Sow Thistle, Field *
Thistle, Bull *
Thistle, Canada *
Touch-Me-Not, Spotted
Vetch, Cow * (Tufted V.)
Wallrocket *
Yarrow, Common *

My apologies for the errors in the list. Blogger is doing strange things to my format for some reason.

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Another Half Marathon

        I have run Hamilton’s Road-2-Hope race all eight times that it has been run. Seven times I ran the half marathon and one time, when I was 66, I ran the full marathon. During the past four half marathons I have been just a bit faster each time with today’s being the best of the last four. Before that I had one very slow run and two faster runs. Last year I actually place in the top three with a second place finish. Even though I ran faster this year, I came in forth in my age group out of 5. I was a bit disappointed but then I did come in before 236 other runners of whom almost all were younger than I and then there are all those who are not running or did not even make it to my age so I cannot feel too bad. 

Thanks to Fleur-Ange for the photo!

        Oh, today’s time was 2:22:24 compared to my slowest half marathon 2:37:54 back when I was 66. My fastest half was when I was 48 years old and it was 1:43:56. I am hoping to keep running for a few more years. I signed up for the Hamilton Bay Race next March. It is 30 km with a few more ups and downs compared to what I ran today. I shall not be trying for a faster time in that race but just to finish as it has always been a challenge for me and resulted in a long 6 year recess from running years ago due to an injury. I will be pleased to just finish!

Thanks to Donna Quick for this photo!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

October 29 - Tree Clean-up

        Earlier this week Fleur-Ange had our two old Ash-leaved Maples, between the house and the barn, taken down. In order to save money we had the tree service just cut down the trees and leave them to be cleaned up. They did cut up the large parts of the lower trunk as my chain saw was not large enough to cut through them but smaller bits were left along with all the smaller branches. 

        Yesterday, October 29, I skipped art class and gym time to work on cleaning up all the smaller branches. I worked from 9:00 in the morning until 4:30 in the afternoon on chopping branches, moving the smallest ones to the burn barrel, moving the larger branches to several piles, and burning the smallest branches and twigs in the burn barrel. During that time I only took a 5 minute break at lunch time to grab a piece of cold pizza to eat while I fed the fire and then another quarter of an hour to help in the barn when the farrier came to trim the donkey’s hooves as well as the goats hooves. By the end of the day I was feeling quite fatigued and made a couple of bad moves with the machete so I decided to quit while I was still whole. Fortunately the machete did not cut me as I had on heavy gloves and the blow was not too hard. 

        I did find, during the day, that the machete was much better than the larger heavier axe for about 95% of the cuts I wanted to make. I used the axe only about 3% of the time and them my little hand limb saw for the remaining 2% of the cuts. The chain saw cuts will come later when there is someone else around.    

        Having worked over 7 hours at the job left me quite tired and a bit sore in the arms and back but, for some reason, my left instep was the most painful. I do not understand why as I was not on my feet any more than a usual work day but the pain would not go away. I iced the foot, elevated it, massaged it and rolled it on my roller to try to ease the pain but it is still with me, fortunately to a much lesser degree, this morning. Hope it improved before the half marathon this coming weekend!
        Maybe a photo or two will be added later but I did not take any yesterday. I even gave up the opportunity to take a photo of a little wood frog that I found while working.

        I was way too dedicated to getting that mess cleaned up. I still have lots to do but will not do another 7+ hour chopping marathon.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Ham and Swiss Pie (Kind of)

Recipe from The Country Cape B&B in Whately, MA 

Ham &  Swiss Pie

2 cups cut up ham
1/4 cup chopped onion     
2 cups milk
salt & pepper to taste
1 cup shredded swiss cheese
4 eggs
1 cup Bisquick 

Mix eggs, milk, Bisquick, salt & pepper
Pour over meat, cheese & onion
Put in greased 10” pie plate
Bake @ 350° for 35-40 min
(Done when knife inserted in centre comes out clean.)

        On our one B&B  of the trip that really served breakfast, we had a Ham & Swiss Pie that was so good that I asked for, and received, the recipe. Having been home for a few days I tried it out, in my usual fashion of using recipes as a guide only.  In this case I used pepperoni that was left over from making pizza the day before instead of the ham. I used an entire onion. The milk that I used was 1% instead of whole milk. I omitted the salt and pepper as we add our own at the table.Since I did not have any Swiss cheese on hand I used 1/2 cup of goat cheese and 1/2 cup of old cheddar cheese. Hey, I did use 4 eggs that were fresh from our hens so I did not change all of the recipe.  I try to not use mixes, i.e. Bisquick, so I looked at the ingredients of Bisquick and saw that it was basically flour, salt, shorting, and baking powder so I used 1/3 cup of tapioca flour, 1/3 cup almond flour, & 1/3 cup barley flour to cut down the amount of gluten in the mix and added about a half teaspoon of baking powder and half teaspoon of baking soda.

        I baked the mix in our oven at 350° for 37 minutes and it turned out great. I look forward to trying it again sometime soon!

        (I forgot to take the photo before any cutting. It actually got cut into 8 pieces but 6 of them disappeared at breakfast.)

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Friday Flowers

            Every Friday I go out looking for wild and/or naturalized flowers and make a list. This past Friday I spent time in the natural parts of the Royal Botanical Garden's Arboretum and then spent a couple more hours walking along the Hamilton Waterfront Trail.  Following is a list of the blooms that I found on this mid-October afternoon:

            (I tried to put in a table with English, French, and Latin names but it would not upload for some reason.)

Alyssum, Hoary *
Aster, Calico (Starved Aster)
Aster, Frost
Aster, Heart-Leaved
Aster, Heath
Aster, New England
Aster, Panicled
Avens, Catling's *
Beggar Tick
Beggar Tick, Tall

Bindweed, Hedge

Bugleweed, Rough
Bugloss, Viper's *
Butter-And-Eggs *
Catnip *
Celandine *
Chickweed, Mouse-Ear *

Chicory *

Clover, White *
Clover, White Sweet *
Comfrey, Common *
Coneflower, Tall
Coneflower, Thin-Leaved * 
Coreopsis, Tall
Crown-vetch, Purple (Crown Vetch) *
Dandelion, Common *
Dandelion, Red-Seeded *
Dogwood, Red-Osier (S)
Evening Primrose, Common
Fleabane, Daisy
Galinsoga *
Galinsoga, Small-Flowered
Goldenrod, Canada
Goldenrod, Lance-Leaved
Goldenrod, Tall
Groundsel, Common * 
Groundsel, Sticky * (S.Ragwort)


Herb Robert *
Knotgrass, Common *
Knotweed, Japanese *
Mallow, Common(Cheeses) *
Medick, Black *
Mustard, Black *
Nightshade, Eastern Black
Nipplewort *
Pink, Deptford *
Queen Anne's Lace *
Ragweed, Common
Ragweed, Perennial (Western)
Raspberry, Wild Red (S)
Smartweed, Water
Sow Thistle, Common *
Sow Thistle, Field *
Sow Thistle, Spiny-Leaved *
Storksbill *
Swallowwort *
Thistle, Bull *
Touch-Me-Not, Spotted
Vetch, Cow * (Tufted V.)
Wallrocket *
Witch Hazel
Wormwood, Sweet *

        The * means that the plants are not native to our area but have come elsewhere, mostly from Europe or Asia. The (s) is for shrubs and other names in parentheses are common alternate names.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

October Routines

        Finally, after a week and a few days, I am getting into autumn routines. I still have not been to the gym on a regular schedule but maybe next week events will fall into place. There are many chores  to be done to get the property ready for winter such as a last bit of mowing, putting benches away, cleaning up the various gardens, shearing the goats, etc. Hoping it will all get done before the snow flies.

        On the way to doing all that, there is still the regular dog walking, taking photos, and trying to read old mail from last month.  Following are three photos from the dog walk this morning:

Frost Aster (aka Old Field Aster)
 Aster velu
(Symphyotrichum pilosum)

Highbush Cranberry
Viorne trilobée
(Viburnum trilobum) 

Anémone de Virginie
(Anemone virginiana)

Monday, October 13, 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

        We just enjoyed 2 and 1/2 hours of Fleur-Ange's granddaughter and parents for a thanksgiving lunch and did not get one photo. It has to be the first time that has happened. We did have an exciting board game of Candyland however and the oldest person won followed closely by the youngest person. 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

October 12 Frost

        Enjoyed seeing the frost on some of the vegetation in the east meadow this morning.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

October at Home

        I am still getting used to being at home and still not back into regular routines. I keep forgetting things. Even simple actions as in making coffee for breakfast on run mornings. I was so concentrated on getting ready for the run that I forgot about making coffee until it was too late. I know that 8:30 a.m. is late for some but even when I get up at 4:45, as I did this morning, I have to rush to get in all I want to do before leaving for the run. 

        Computer time to check weather and assorted other sites that I look at and record every morning, making and eating breakfast, doing morning animal feeding and dog walking, as well as getting my running gear and snacks and liquids for the run all take time and before I know it, it time to leave. I did get all but the coffee done this morning.

        For the first time in my Rebel Run history I was at the front of the pack for the first 29 minutes. I have no idea why as I was not running any faster than usual. Perhaps everyone else was tired? My finish time was at the end as usual but Donna Quick kept me company and even convinced me that all the "Round-the-Bay" shirts we were seeing on runners was a sign that we should do that run together in the spring.

        I did say that when I turned 70 it would be the last time I would run 30 km but I really missed the run last year and I still have not come in last so . . . 

        I feel the need to put up a couple of photos from the last few days. This first one is of the lunar eclipse that I saw and photographed on October 8th. This photo is a Photoshop layering of nine photos that I took that morning starting about 5:40 or so.

        I don't remember the last eclipse that I saw but I do know that I have never been so successful at taking photos of any eclipse in my life. I used my point-and-shoot Nikon Coolpix P7700 on the "Night Landscape Scene" setting and was very pleased with the results. All photos were taken in hand as I did not get out the tripod.

        Yesterday afternoon I did my usual wild flower walk in the Hamilton area after spending my morning at the Royal Botanical Garden's Herbarium where I volunteer every week that I am home. I found over 70 wild flower species in bloom. (I am feeling too lazy, and tired, to go get my list to get the exact count right now.) There was nothing too special about any of the flowers as I have been finding more and more wild flowers blooming later and later over the years. One special sight that I have seen several times in the last week or so, both on our long walk and here at home, is bees on goldenrods and asters. Some have been sleeping late  in the mornings and some are just sitting and enjoying the sun in a colourful place. Following is my photo from Friday afternoon on a New England Aster.

Lessons Learned on our 480 km/300 mi Walk

  1. Each person that does such a walk will learn different lessons.
  2. I learned that I am still in good physical condition. With the exception of the first day, when I had the wrong socks and the wrong orthotics in my shoes, the walks were easy for me.
  3. I am not as observant as I would like to be. (How could one not notice a hippopotamus head mounted on a garage in the state of Vermont?)
  4. Even though most people try to avoid walking even short distances there is often little response to the statement that one is walking a 300 mile distance.
  5. For walking on roads, good running shoes are as good, or maybe better, than hiking boots.
  6. Eating becomes less important during the walking part of the day. I often ate very little and sometimes nothing during the day. 
  7. Sipping water every 15 or 20 minutes keeps one hydrated.
  8. Sipping water every 15 or 20 minutes is a lot easier with a “camel back” water container.
  9. When driving the same distance that one walks, the driving distance is perceived to be much longer. (I’ve noticed this when running also. Somehow distance is shortened when one’s feet are on the ground.)
  10. Taking a day off every 6th or 7th days does make a big difference in the ability to keep going.
  11. Taking time to stop to take photos puts one way behind anyone not stopping for photos.
  12. Taking time to stop to take photos makes writing about the day much easier.
  13. Using a sound recording device to dictate notes while walking also helps with memory even if one does not listen to the recordings.
  14. When walking, I can be comfortable in short pants down to 6 or 7 degrees Celsius, if it is not raining.
  15. The hardest part of walking in the rain, like running in the rain, is getting out the door of the house, tent, or car.
  16. My arms and legs are not as flexible as they used to be. Getting dressed in the small area of a tent is much more difficult now than when I was younger.
  17. Even something as simple as putting on a watch is much more difficult when done in a small space in darkness so dark that one cannot see the watch nor the arm. 
  18. I am not aware of which side the buckle on my watchband goes on without looking. (Sherlock Holmes would be appalled!)
  19. It is much easier for me to get dressed if I have all my clothes in a bag in the tent and just leave the tent with my clothes bag and walk the 50 to 100 metres to the state park bathroom in my pyjama shorts and sandals and get dressed in the light. 
  20. Walking 50 to 100 metres to a lighted state park bathroom in pyjama shorts and sandals is possible even if the temperature drops to freezing or if it is raining lightly. (I say possible, not comfortable.)
  21. I prefer walking to a bathroom in a B&B to walking 50 or 100 metres to a state park bathroom.
  22. I can recharge a phone or computer in a state park bathroom as long as I get there before another person with his coffee maker.
  23. Some state parks in Vermont are almost empty at this time of year but many are open until early October for the leaf peepers.
  24. One laptop computer is not enough for two blog-writing people with limited time to write.
  25. I do not like the iPad for productive writing.
  26. Vermont state parks all have lean-to buildings that are large enough for two tents with space left over to keep other items dry in a rainstorm.
  27. One can easily use cup hooks as replacements for tent stakes in a wooden floored lean-to.
    They screw easily in and out of the wood, leave only a very small hole, but will hold firmly
  28. Cup hooks can also be used to attach ropes to a lean to wall for clotheslines.
  29. Cup hooks can also be used to attach light tarps to the front of a lean to in order to keep a table dry in front of a lean to.
  30. Ropes of various lengths are great for clothes lines and for attaching tarps to trees near the lean to.
  31. Old Coleman camp stoves are not always reliable.
  32. The leather gaskets in the pump mechanism of a Colman stove can be oiled using oil from a car dipstick if necessary.
  33. Birch bark from dead birch branches is available at the side of the road for fire starting.
  34. I can still light a fire in rain using birch bark.
  35. I prefer lighting fires when it is not raining.
  36. One does not have to light camp fires when staying in a B&B.
  37. Many Airbnb locations do not serve breakfast. 
  38. Some, but not all, Airbnb locations do provide food that one can make for oneself for breakfast.
  39. B&B hosts often go out of their way to be helpful.
  40. If necessary, I can run even after days and days of 29 km walks.
  41. I can get dizzy by looking down at the brilliant autumn leaves of Vermont and Massachusetts.
  42. The brilliance of the leaves of Vermont and Massachusetts must be seen to be believed and even then it is hard to believe.
  43. I am not as good at sharing inner thoughts as my beautiful partner, Fleur-Ange.
  44. I am very blessed to have Fleur-Ange as my current partner, mentor, supporter, and encourager!
  45. I cannot possibly remember all the new things I have learned during our long walk!

Friday, October 03, 2014

October 3 Run

        After our 29 day walk and a bit of a mountain climb on the day after I decided it was time to run again. The Hamilton Run-2-Hope half marathon is just over a month away and I've not run for a month. (Does walking close to half marathon distance for 25 of the last 29 days count as running preparation?) During the first hour of my 15 km run I was wondering if the walks were helping or hindering my abilities but, finally, my breathing settled down and my hips stopped hurting and the last part of the run was more comfortable. With less verbal noise following was my run today.

Left the B&B around 9:30 a.m.

 I did not realize that the first couple of km were uphill when we were driving.

Columbus Day is coming soon.

People in cars can check the road around the corner
 with this mirror.

I am still checking out unique mailboxes.

Given the choice, why would I choose Mountain Road 
over Pantry Road?

Climbing, climbing, and I almost fell over
as I was dizzy when I stopped to take 
this photo.

Yes, I was feeling slow and wobbly by the time I saw this sign.
Still climbing. Still trying to run.

This looks better. It's a nice dirt/gravel road.
But what is that in the background?

The road is getting narrower.

Humm, this may be interesting.

A bit of water in the road does not look bad.

Time to walk a bit.
Did I mention that I am still climbing?

At last some downhill has appeared.

I did not think I was going to see this.
I think I missed a turn somewhere.

At least the road is better now.
And it is downhill.

Ah, pavement. Nice to finish on an easier surface.

At last, Fleur-Ange's RAV. Made the 15+ km
in just over 2 hours. Not fast but it was a workout!

Thursday, October 02, 2014

October 2 - Mountain Walk

        Given the number of black bears in Vermont, I thought I would see one sooner or later but the only one I saw was stuffed and displayed in a nature centre. Nevertheless, as I started my walk up Mt. Olga, this is what I was looking for.

        The sign said the trail was only .9 miles. It was about 90% uphill but not too steep. I never had to scramble or use my hands on the walk but I did spend over a half hour on the climb up including time for photos of course.


       I don't remember ever seeing ferns turn white instead of brown or yellow so these fronds caught my eye at the beginning of the hike.

        At the beginning, the trail was lined with large rocks and covered with fallen leaves.

        The leaf colours were so bright and mixed that they made me dizzy at times. Or maybe I am still tired from the long walk of the last month?

        As I got closer to the top of the trail, it became a bit more rocky and rugged.

        There was also some fog seen through the trees. It was an indication that I had not waited long enough for the fog to burn off. A ranger had said to wait 2 hours but I left a bit earlier than that as we had to pack up the camp and get ready to move on to our B&B in the next state, Massachusetts. (Well, OK, I was also just not into waiting.)

        The tower did not look too bad for climbing except it was very open and the steps were all wet from the overnight rains.

        As expected, the view from the top was foggy. There were no 100 mile views this morning.

        Why is coming down always more of a challenge than going up? Perhaps because one can see the possible results of slipping and the distance one would fall? I also did not notice how narrow the steps were as I climbed upward.

        I noticed more leaves and fungi as I walked back down the trail.

        I really enjoyed the patterns on this shelf fungus.

        I think these are some Turkey Tail Fungi. Whatever, they are eye catching.