Saturday, December 28, 2013

Running and Sawing

     Started the day with a 13 km run with my running group. I had the misfortune of being slightly faster than some and much slower than the rest so I did about half of the run on my own. By a bit of creative trail making, I managed to finish about the same time as the runners that ran 2 km further than I did. It was nice to have company for the last few blocks when I was really tired.

        After I got home, ate and had a bit of a rest, I took my pruning saw and machete out to clean up more of our trails. We still had several large branches and small trees down across the trails. I managed to get most of the trails cleared with only two hours of work but now not only my legs but also my arms, back, and shoulders are tired. I should sleep well tonight.

        Below is a photo from near our east pond pointing back toward the house. No house can be seen through all the ice and snow covered trees and shrubs. It gives a nice feel for what some of our trail look like in winter.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Ice Storm

        We were lucky. It did not seem so at the time as we were without power for over 24 hours but some people in Toronto were without power for over 48 hours and some may wait for another day or two. Compared to them, we were lucky. We also have a fireplace and lots of wood so we were not too cold and I got out the old camp lantern so we had a bit of light too. We have a cistern in the barn so I was able to bring up a pail of water to flush the toilet. I know that  most of the Toronto people do not have such luxuries.

        There was a fair bit of tree damage and I know that I will be cleaning up twigs and limbs and a couple of trees until spring time but that means more wood for the next storm. 

        And I did get some interesting photos after the storm. Here's one:

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Winter Solstice

        Happy Winter Solstice! We are now on the way to full winter but already thinking of spring. I heard a confused Cardinal singing it's spring song this morning as the temperatures were about 4 degrees above freezing and the rain and mist were coming down. Meanwhile, the weather forecasters are full of doom and gloom and forecasts of ice storms and power outages. Time will tell.

        I am thinking about a video about the seasons and to that end have a series of photos of our east "pond." I put pond in quotes as it sometimes is dry for months. We have had years of water all year but there have also been some with more dry months than wet so it is very weather dependant. With one tall willow and several smaller trees and shrubs around it can lose its water very quickly.

        Below is a collaged photo of the four seasons at the "pond."

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Deer Beds and Blue Jays

        When the dog and I were out for our morning walk/run - I walked, she ran - we found two white-tailed deer in our east meadow. As we went further along we found the places where they had spent time lying down i.e. a pair of deer beds. I attempted to take a photo with my iPhone camera but the photo just did not work. Hard to photograph anything in snow without a good camera and even then it can be difficult at times. I decided to not put up that photo. Maybe another day with another camera I can be more lucky.

        I was taking photos of birds at the bird feeder two days ago and managed to get a fairly good photo of a bluejay. I wish it were a bit sharper but it was taken through two panes of glass on the side door so the quality is not quite as good as it could be but it will have to do for now.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Red-bellied Woodpecker

        It's another cool day with the temperature hovering around -10 C. The wind chill is again in the -20 range. Meanwhile back at the bird feeder the Red-bellied Woodpecker has come in for some food.

Sunday, December 15, 2013


        A new batch of granola has just come out of the oven. I have been making some every other week or so for a couple of months. No two batches are exactly the same and I don't measure items too closely and sometime I don't have all the ingredients or, sometimes I have extra things that I think might be good to include. Anyway, if I remember correctly, this is what went in tonight.

All "cups" are approximate . . .

1 cup walnut pieces
1 cup sliced almonds
1 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1 cup raw sunflower seeds
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1 cup oatmeal
2 or 3 tablespoons of chai seeds
2 or 3 tablespoons of flax seeds
3/4 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/2 tablespoon sea salt

2 tablespoons of coconut oil
1/2 cup honey

In 330 F oven for 20 minutes on parchment paper in baking pan
Stirred once after 10 minutes

We eat our homemade granola with raisins and/or dried cranberries, Greek yogurt, and/or keifer and/or almond milk.

Winter Activities

        Yesterday I joined my running group for a 13.6 km run in the snow. We had had about 10 cm of snow the night before and none of the roads or streets had been cleared and most of the sidewalks too were not shovelled. In addition it was windy and snowing continuously during our run. The wind chill varied between -19 and -21 C to make the run even a bit more challenging. I was pleased to be able to finish the run, not fall down, and still feel strong enough to do a couple of hours of work outside later in the afternoon. I took the dog on a long walk, and chopped wood for about an hour in addition to doing the usual put-the-animals-to-bed chores.

        This morning, after walking while the dog had a good run, I shovelled the walk and then the driveway. The 20 cm of snow that had arrived in the last two days was still light and fluffy as the temperatures were still well below freezing. It only took just over an hour and a half to do our 100 metre long driveway. The only hard part was the last 3 or 4 metres where the snowplough had thrown road snow with salt content onto the driveway. That snow was a lot heavier and hard to move.

        Below is my annual driveway photo with my car and shovel in the foreground.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Chilly Outside

        There is a bit of a nip in the air outside this morning. In Celsius it is -10 with a wind chill of -19. (14° F  & - 2.2°F). We thought a candle might warm our breakfast time a bit more.

Monday, December 09, 2013

Mobile for Sale

        Last Sunday was the deadline for putting art in the You Me Gallery in Hamilton so, of course, I waited until almost too late to create my last mobiles. I made two for the show but the one that I literally dreamed up last week took a lot more time than I expected to make. I made five wire figures to hang in acrobatic styles on my mobile frame. I also used a "ladder" that I had made for another work  last year. The hardest part of the project was bending a wire figure to climb the ladder. Oh yes, each figure is made from a single piece of bent wire which I do from a coil of wire on my workbench. It is only when the figure is almost finished that I cut it off the coil and I always leave a bit extra wire on the figure, just in case. In the case of the ladder climber, it just would not quite fit on the ladder and at the point where I  thought I had it correct, I cut off the extra wire only to find that I made the cut in the wrong place. I ended up with the "foot" on the ladder and the body on the floor. Had to start over on the hardest piece to bend.

        Having finished the piece, I put it in a bag to transport to Hamilton. When I got there I found that the threads and wires and gotten all mixed up and it took quite a while to get it unsorted and rehung. Hard to believe that I make so much work for myself at times. Then there was the process of trying to make a photo of the work. It seems to be very difficult to make photos of mobiles. I took several photos and then did a lot of Photoshop work to try to make it stand out from the background. I had to take the photo outside as the mobile was too long to hang easily inside. As I said, I do make things difficult for myself.

Below is the photo I worked on of the entire piece as well as some closeups of some of the figures.

The mobile is about 1.5 m (4'11") long from top to bottom.

These figures are loose on the bar and from each other held together by friction and position.

This figure hangs from the bar by one "toe." That is by the end of the wire which is sharp.

I did have to use thread to secure one "hand" of this figure onto the ladder. It kept falling off and swinging by it's feet.

        This mobile, and one other much less complicated one, are in the You Me Gallery in Hamilton, Ontario and both are for sale. I am asking $76.54 for this one and I called it Dreamtime #5.

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Busy, Busy

        Why are there so few hours in the day. Always more to do than time allows. Missed two workouts last week due to other events getting in the way. Writing has suffered. Thinking has suffered. Maybe next week will be better.

        Meanwhile, we have been having some nice sunsets.

        My Friday flower count continues to go down. I only found 11 wild flower species last Friday. The fact that the temperature dropped to -10 C on Thursday and never got above freezing on Friday had a lot to do with the small count.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Friday Flowers

       My Friday flower search is becoming more difficult each week now with the numbers rapidly shrinking. Soon it will be down to the all winter flowers that seem to carry on anytime they can get their heads above the snow. I did find 19 species in bloom Friday compared to just over 30 by the end of last week.

        This is a tiny plant with a flower smaller than this photo, unless you are looking on a phone screen. It is called Henbit, Lamier amplexicaule in French or Lamium amplexicaule in Latin. According to notes on the internet ( people can eat it but not sheep, horses, or cattle.

Thursday, November 21, 2013


        The colours of November are mostly in the sky. Here is another example. This was the sunset yesterday.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Winds of November

        The wind storm that came through last night gave us more firewood. There is a small dead elm down over the trail near our east Willow Pond, two Ash-leaf Maples down on the west side of the property and probably at least 30 or 40 smaller limbs down here and there around the property. It is always interesting to walk the trails after a wind storm.

        It is more and more difficult for me to find things of interest to photograph as we get into November. I do like colour and many of the colours are fading. This morning it was shape that caught my attention and, after I took the photo, I noticed that there were interesting colours in the background too.  I have centred out one pod on an Evening Primrose plant to put the photo emphasis on. I enhanced the single pod a bit by blurring the background with both the camera and then Photoshop. Just for the record, if anyone is interested, I also made the pod pop a bit more by using about 10% shading with the complementary colour in the background. I enjoy the art of photo enhancement  by using different setting on the camera and then adding a bit more to the effect with Photoshop.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Down Memory Lane

        I was looking at some old photos today. This is my oldest daughter back in October of 1975.

        The good news is that she has her daughter out in the fields and woods these days as much as we had her out way back then. It makes great memories for all of us.

        Today, November 17, 2013, there is at least one Spring Peeper calling from down in the ravine while the Canadian Geese fly and call on their way south way overhead. The grey of November is broken up by the browns and bronzes of the many goldenrod and aster fall stems and leaves.

Saturday, November 16, 2013


        I have been looking closer at Dandelions for the last few years. On Friday I took a closeup photo of a Red-seeded Dandelion and today I took a photo of a Common Dandelion. Here is a composite of the two photos:

        The Red-seeded Dandelion flower is on the left and the Common Dandelion is on the right. There appears to be a remarkable difference in the sizes of the stigmas. I am not sure if this is always the case or just what I happened to photograph in these instances. More study and observation will be necessary.

        Meanwhile, for more information on the Dandelion, have a look at this website:

Friday, November 15, 2013


        Queen Anne's Lace (aka Wild Carrot or Carotte savage or Daucus carota) is not a spectacular plant but today it was special. It was getting late in the day. The sun was both hiding behind the clouds and setting below the horizon so it was getting dark and I had only seen 29 wild flowers and really wanted to have an even 30. Then I found the Queen Anne's Lace. Yea! 

        We have had several frosts and one light snow so finding 30 wild flowers on one afternoon's walk in the middle of November is special.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Medal and Toque

        The Hamilton Road2Hope sent me my second place medal and toque through the mail. It arrived yesterday. I think I need to set up some way of displaying my medals now that I have something other than a participation medal.

Monday, November 11, 2013

November Weather

        November Days
        Are NOT
        my favourites.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Japanese Beautyberry

                Last Friday I saw 41 species of wild flowers in bloom; however, the very brightest botanical sight I had was of a Japanese beautyberry (Callicarpa japonicathat was located in the Royal Botanical Garden's Arboretum. I don't remember seeing these berries before, but they certainly were evident on Friday. They looked almost fluorescent against the mostly grey background of the trees and shrubs that are rapidly losing their leaves.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Looking for Attention

        It appears that our goose, Peep, is feeling left out of the action lately. That being the case, she came up to our kitchen porch to let us know that she too needs attention. Got it!

        Oh yes, that skunk that was in the barn a couple of days ago is still in the area. She/He was eating from the cat's bowl this evening when I went down to the barn. Any suggestions?

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Nervous Animals

        All of the animals in the barn seemed a bit nervous and on edge this evening when I went into the barn for their evening feeding and bedding down. The dog became edgy and whined and barked and tried to pull away from the lead.

        It took me a while to find out what the problem was but I was successful. I looked behind the open barn door on the wall side and found an extra animal that was not as popular as the rest for some reason.

        I encouraged it, gently, to leave but the spot seemed to agree with it and it was not  coming out. Finally, I left it where it was and did some other chores away from the barn and then went back to see if it had changed its mind. It had. It was no where to be seen.

        I have seen this little animal a few times during the early morning but have not been able to get a photo. This time I was more lucky as I had my headlamp with me.

Striped Skunk - Mephitis mephitis

Monday, November 04, 2013


         It's been a while since I have posted a photo of our donkey, Leroy. I had several photos of frosty flowers and leaves that I took this morning but decided to put up Leroy instead. Hee haw!

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Road2Hope Half Marathon

        It was very cool running today with temperatures just below and then just above freezing with a 15 to 19 km north wind. If i could run a race like I say I plan to, i.e. run for fun and to finish, I would have more enjoyment out of the races; however, I tend to get caught up in "racing." Today it was when I passed the 2:30 race bunny at the 10 k mark that I started wondering if I could get my half marathon time to below 2:30 again. So, I tried in spite of a knot in my left calf that had started at the 4 k mark. By the last two k's I was in a lot of pain with my left hamstring and left ankle competing for pain supremacy. I ran through it with a couple of extra short walks, and made it over the line at 2:24:49 which was a bit faster than the last two years when it was over 2:30. I was a bit disappointed when I saw that I was 16 out of 19 in my age group and then, when I got home and looked more closely, I found that they made an error in my age. If they did not make any other age errors, I was 2nd out of 3 in the 70-74 men's group. I wrote to complain and am hoping for the 2nd place metal.

On the way down the escarpment towards Lake Ontario on the Red Hill Parkway.

Saturday, November 02, 2013

New Rooster

        Fleur-Ange made a connection to get this new rooster for us. He will look even better when we get him outside in the sun for a photo with a proper camera instead this one taken in the dark barn with the iPhone camera.

Friday, November 01, 2013

November Friday Flowers

        I did not see many blooming flowers today as I had some errands to run and did not have time to visit the Waterfront Trail. At this time of the year most of the flowers that I find are not far from the Hamilton Harbour on the Waterfront Trail. I spent about an hour in the Royal  Botanical Gardens Arboretum and found 21 flowers in bloom. I guess that's not too bad for November 1st but I expect to find more flowers tomorrow on the wildflower walk that Fleur-Ange and I are leading on the Waterfront Trail.

       Meanwhile, here is one of the flowers that I found today. It is Herb Robert, Géranium de Robert in French and Geranium robertianum in Latin.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween 2013

        As I went out on this dark and rainy morning with our dog and my headlamp on, two sets of glowing eyes met us in the yard. Our dog, Sadie, went wild. She pulled at the lead, growled, barked, and whined as she tried to get at that second set of eyes. The first set was our barn cat who was, obviously, not in the barn. I turned my headlamp onto high to have a better look. I decided for Sadie and I that we would continue out into the east meadow rather quickly as the second set of glowing eyes belonged to a cute little black and white skunk kitten who was not at all frightened by the noisy dog.  Sadie was reluctant to leave but, since I have had more experience with skunks than she has, we left anyway. I missed taking a photo as handling a camera and a jumping dog in the rain was a bit too much for me.

        Below is the photo that I put together for my Facebook cover for the day. It is a spider web from between two boards in our barn and a carved pumpkin from the  Royal Botanical Garden's pumpkin carving contest that was held last week. They gave the pumpkin 3rd place but I thought it should have had 1st.

        This second photo is of two Common Milkweed pods that caught my eye just at dusk last night in our west meadow. Almost all of the flowers in our meadows are gone now. Some goldenrods and asters are still in bloom and a bit of Red Clover as well as one Oxeye Daisy. OK, there are some Black-eyed Susans too and probably a few others that just skipped my mind for now. Over all, I found 60 wild flowers in bloom last week but most of them were next to the Hamilton harbour where the weather is a bit warmer due to the water and they get more light due to street lights.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Burdock & Beech

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Autumn in the Dundas Valley

        I can remember when I could walk in the Dundas Valley, just west of Hamilton, for hours without seeing anyone. That is not true these days. We saw lots of hikers, walkers, runners, cyclers, and horseback riders as we walked along the trails of the valley.  That being said, the only ones that seemed to be leaving any litter were the horses and that was all biodegradable.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Poison Ivy Berries

Poison Ivy - Herbe à la puce - Toxicodendron radicans

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Computer Returned!

        It was a long week without our favourite computer. I did get back to the old PC a few times and worked out with iPad but it's our Apple MacBook Pro that I love working with and it's that one that has the latest Photoshop.

        I have quite a few photos from the week and think some of them are fairly good but it's one that I took yesterday of a seedpod from a Swallowwort, Cynanche in French or Cynanchum rossicum in Latin, that is posted below:

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Computer in Shop

Lost our Apple computer last Friday to a hard drive malfunction. I am finding it difficult to do anything on the old PC & keep running into roadblocks on the iPad. 
     First bit of snow fell this morning. Here is a rough photo from the iPhone.  .  .

I see that it looks like a lot of snow. It isn't. It's a few flakes on a black car hood. 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Birds and Grapes

        The song of the Carolina Wren greeted me as I went out to feed our animals this morning. I am wondering how long it will stay this year. A couple of years ago we had one singing in our backyard all fall and winter.

       While I was still looking for the wren with my binoculars, some other birds crossed my field of vision. We currently have a rather large flock of White-throated Sparrows singing about and eating the dogwood berries. Also in the dogwood patch I saw a Towhee and a Song Sparrow.

        Yesterday, in the early morning, the sun was shining on the dew in some of the wild grapes and I caught these sun reflections with my camera.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Morning Web

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Hiding From the Rain

Monday, October 14, 2013

In Memory of my Youngest Daughter

        Yes, I got the bad news from Australia on Thanksgiving 17 years ago.

        I am thankful for the grand adventures she had and that we had together during her too short life.

        Yes, I am still grieving. The pain lasts and lasts and lasts.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Northern Walkingstick

        These insects are not seen very often. I believe that this one is only the second one that we have found on our property in the last ten years. I attempted to enhance it a bit so it was easier to see but when it is in a tree it is very difficult to see. Fleur-Ange found it yesterday on a blue tarp where it was more easily spotted.

        I believe that the French name for the walkingtick is phasme bâton. The Latin is Diapheromera femorata.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Friday Flowers

        I went on my usual Friday wild flower walk yesterday at RBG's Hendrie Valley and the Hamilton Waterfront Trail next to the Hamilton Harbour. Today, while out on my 10 k training run, I noticed more flowers and Fleur-Ange added even more on her walk so the list for the last two days is 72 species long. Here is what we found:
Hoary Alyssum
Calico Aster
Frost Aster (Pilosus)
Heath Aster (Ericoides)
New England Aster
Panicled Aster
Smooth Aster
Wood Avens
Begger Tick
Hairy Bittercress
Black-Eyed Susan
Bouncing Bet
Rough Bugleweed
Great Burdock
White Campion
Common Chickweed
Mouse Ear Chickweed
Dwarf Cinquefoil
Red Clover
White Clover
White Sweet Clover
Common Comfrey
Tall Coneflower
Thin-leaved Coneflower
Tall Coreopsis
Crown Vetch
Common Dandelion
Red-Seeded Dandelion
Spotted Dead-Nettle
Red Osier Dogwood
Daisy Fleabane
Small-flowered Galinsoga
Tall Goldenrod
Common Groundsel
Sticky Groundsel
Spotted Knapweed
Common Knotgrass
Japanese Knotweed
Black Mustard
Wormseed Mustard
Eastern Black Nightshade
Queen Anne's Lace
Rugosa Rose
Common St.Johnswort
Shepherd's Purse
Water Smartweed
White Snakeroot
Dwarf Snapdragon
Common Sow-Thistle
Field Sow Thistle
Spiny-leaved Sow Thistle
Bull Thistle
Spotted Touch-Me-Not
Cow Vetch
Witch Hazel
Creeping Wood Sorrel
Yellow Wood Sorrel

        The photo is a close up of a Witch Hazel flower and two seed pods from last year's blooms. The seed pods should POP open any day now and throw out the seeds across the forest floor.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Spider Graphics

Thursday, October 10, 2013

A Bit of Light on a Dark Foggy Day

        Yes, I know the Amanita's are poisonous but they are beautiful.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Bird Songs and Sights

        I am always slightly amused at the young White-throated Sparrows that pass through on their way south from the northern breeding grounds. They are doing their best to sing their song but it is always just a little bit off.

        Some of our apple trees are breaking down due to the load of apples this year. After having none last year they are trying to make up for lost time, I think. Anyway, in one of the trees there were 20 Cedar Waxwings enjoying the apples. (I just saw in my bird app that a group of waxwings is called either an "ear-full" of waxwings or a "museum" of waxwings. I like the "ear-full" description myself as they are almost always full of their "cedar, cedar" calls so I usually hear them before seeing them.)

        There were lots of photo opportunities this morning just after sunrise but I don't have time to put them up now. Maybe later today or some other day I can get some up. Spider webs and early morning ground fog with autumn colours make for interesting views.

Monday, October 07, 2013

New England Aster

        The New England Asters, Aster de la Nouvelle-Angleterre in French and Symphyotrichum novae-angliae in Latin, have never looked too good this year for reasons that I cannot understand. Two days of rain have not helped them.

        Meanwhile the rainy day did prompt some barn cleaning yesterday. Today I hope to get to my art studio. Most of my "art" lately has been with photography but I do want to do some painting again and then there is the multimedia project that needs attention. 

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Teasel and Moth Mullein

        Here is a photo of two flowers that should have finished flowering a month or so ago. The Teasel (Dipsacus fullonum ssp.sylvestris) started blooming in early July and most have gone to seed long ago. The Moth Mullein (Verbascum blattaria) in the upper background started blooming even earlier in mid June. Most of them have formed and released their seeds already. I find that there are always a few plants in a few places that bloom longer or later than one expects. Both of these are near the shores of Cootes Paradise in Hamilton.

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Bee and Run

        Yesterday I walked for 4 hours looking for wild flowers, mushrooms, and insects. I am not so good at identifying mushrooms and insects but I did find and identify 63 wild flowers still in bloom on this first Friday of October. I am not as good at identifying garden flowers but when I stopped to enjoy what ever flower was in the photo below, I noticed a bee also enjoying the flower. It was enjoying it so much that it allowed me to get quite close with my camera.

        Today I was on the run again. It was an 18 km training run for an upcoming half marathon. It was supposed to be long and slow but the speed was a bit more than was comfortable at times as I was with three other runners and they kept me moving. The distance was also a bit more than expected as my GPS said 18.75 at the end. Oh well, maybe that will make the half marathon easier in a few weeks.

Friday, October 04, 2013

Evening Light

        The evening sunlight was coming across our western meadow and caught a milkweed pod in just the right way. Sometimes the seeds of plants are as beautiful as the flowers.