Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Interloper

....... intruder, trespasser, incomer, squatter, gate-crasher, uninvited guest, unwanted visitor, an invasive species has reared its head in my hanging flower basket.

But you have to give those dandelions points for perseverance!

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Juried Art Show 2017

The local Art Gallery holds a Juried Art Show each year in the spring, and artists all over Ontario are invited to submit their work. A panel of experts..... well, people who know about such things, I don't really know how they qualify as experts...... decide which works will be on display. It's only a small gallery so not everything will end up on the walls.
Here are just a few of the works that I really liked. But sadly I didn't note all of the titles or the names of the artists.



This was a depiction of Bingham Canyon Mine, Utah, the largest open pit copper mine in the world.

Life of the Ocean by Vicky Talwar. Acrylic and mixed media 36"x48"
Collage.... many printed images combined to make one large image.  I wish I had made a note of the artist.
Some more images to come.....

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Dirt Bike

What could be more fun for a nine year old boy than your very own dirt bike? And he lives on two acres of grass and trees, so there's plenty of room to ride it off-road without getting into too much trouble. But first, it's necessary to learn the rules of the trails and how to handle the bike safely, so off he went to Honda Junior Red Riders dirt bike school for some training and hands on experience.
 Junior Red Riders is a learning experience for ages 6 to 12. A day at dirt bike school teaches the fundamentals and the importance of safety gear, how to ride safely off-road and why it is important to respect the riding environment and conditions.
Safety gear is essential. The kids learn basic riding skills, acceleration, braking, balance, starting, stopping, some maintenance and some trouble shooting. He's hot and sweaty after a morning of instruction. And it looks like he had lots of fun.

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Garden

The last location on the garden tour was a small plot of land behind a bright blue country cottage. It was obvious that the owners are madly in love with their garden. It was a riot of flowers, shrubs, vegetables, mature trees, all accessed by flagstone walkways. A little pond with chubby goldfish. An enclosure for ducks and chickens. Even a busy beehive tucked away behind some shrubs by the back fence. Perhaps a harvest of honey and beeswax in the fall.


This wire trellis supports an arch of peas. Look closely and you'll see the maturing pea pods hanging. The little wooden bridge takes the path over the fishpond.
There was no wasted space in this tiny garden. Every piece of ground was put to good use, growing flowers, herbs or vegetables. And there were even plants for sale, but I have no room for more plants in my tiny front garden, although I'd love to have a garden like this. I'd be out in it every day, rain or shine.

This was my favourite garden of all the places on the tour. I loved the fact that it was so full of life and love of nature.

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Sign of the Times

in other words.... don't be a litterbug.

Monday, 10 July 2017

Garden Again

Two of the gardens are owned by artists who have been featured on the local Artist Studio Tours.

This secluded garden and summer house are both decorated with the artist's creations of fabric garden art sculptures. Fairies, elves, gods and godesses, witches and wizards populate the flower beds and peep out from behind shrubs. They are made of all natural materials; cotton, bark, moss and wood. Most of these creations are no more than 18" high, but some are life size.

I didn't take a photo of the next garden, although I should have because it's so tiny and charming, or of the artist's studio which is in a late 1800s coach house where wagons and carriages were once built. However, this is her garden shed! I loved the colours.
And a village of little houses decorate the grounds, along with all sorts of whimsical objects scattered among the vegetables and flowers.
More to come.....

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Gardens

Saturday dawned dull and grey with a threat of showers, but by noon the sun came out. A $20 ticket bought me a tour of 6 lovely gardens in the hamlet of Claremont, and a stop at the Claremont Masonic Hall for freshly baked scones, home made strawberry jam and a cuppa tea served in elegant bone china cups and saucers.
The gardens varied from grand and exquisitely manicured without a single blade of grass out of place, to small and humble and obviously a work of love.

This garden on a 2 acre lot featured a magnificent six tier waterfall and pond. Lots of mature trees, and at the top of the slope was a fire pit surrounded by comfy Muskoka chairs and a grassy labyrinth to walk around, which of course I did!

Across the road was an enormous house with a spectacular back garden. A large pool with a cabana surrounded by stone walkways, a flagstone outdoor living room, a pavilion, an outdoor bar with a huge flat screen TV (Blue Jays were playing!) and a fireplace with a roof, all beautifully landscaped..... everything you need to spend the summer outdoors, no need to go into the house at all! I didn't take any pictures, sorry, it was all a bit overwhelming and more like visiting an expensive resort and spa than somebody's private back yard. I prefer simpler living, but I certainly wouldn't say no to a swim in their beautiful pool! More gardens to come......

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Pelargoniums

OK, Pelargonium is the fancy word for the plant generally known as a Geranium. A friend is the current president of the local Pelargonium Society and he can waffle on talk for hours about the various shapes, colours, scents and blossoms, but I know very little about them, other than they make a nice show of colour in the summer.
This bright scarlet red geranium came in a mixed hanging basket as a gift on Mother's Day. Most of the other flowers in the arrangement have finished now but the geraniums will keep blooming as long as I keep watering it. Or it rains.

This pink geranium was given to me as a small twig last September. I put it in water until it grew some roots, and then planted it in soil, talked to it nicely and sang it some encouraging geranium songs, gave it some nice nutritious plant food and now it's decorating my deck and covered with blooms and buds. The pink flowers are small, and never really open wide.

Citronella ... also known as Mosquito Plant Geranium. According to the internet, the mosquito plant geranium came about from taking specific genes of two other plants – Chinese citronella grass and African geranium. It gives off a lovely lemony scent when the leaves are brushed, and just look at those sweet little flowers. And I haven't seen many mosquitos buzzing around here recently.

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Rhubarb and Beans

Living in a condo situation doesn't leave me much land for planting, but I make the best of it, although I'd love to have a big veggie garden. I planted two tiny baby rhubarbs at the end of May, and the constant rainy weather through May and June has really given them a good start. I tried to grow rhubarb last year but I planted it in a place that wasn't sunny enough and it failed. So perhaps I'll be making rhubarb pie next year, I hope so.

And another of my favourites is scarlet runner beans, often grown as a decorative red flower, but the young beans are delicious. Just top'n'tail them, cut off the strings, slice, and steam. The plants are climbing up the poles nicely, but the leaves look a bit dogeared, something is chewing on them. That's OK, as long as they leave the beans for me. I see the first red flower is starting.

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Canada 150

Happy Canada Day! Canada is celebrating the 150th anniversary of Confederation today. The British North America Act provided for the unification of the Canadian provinces and created the Dominion of Canada on 1 July 1867.

Lots of celebrations are going on all over the country, the biggest being a huge party on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. Here in my town we celebrate with our annual Strawberry Festival. I'll be there in the park later today, so perhaps some photos tomorrow.

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Ghost Owl

The sap squeezing out of a wooden support on my deck is creating a perfect Ghost Owl. Pareidolia..... seeing faces in everyday objects. I don't usually see them, but I think I haven't been looking hard enough.

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Probability of Precipitation

It's June, almost July, and here in my little corner of Canada we have had only two really hot (over 30C) summer days when I needed to turn on the AC. May was cool and rainy, and so far June has been a washout. And the forecast isn't good for the Canada 150 celebrations next weekend. Cool and rainy again.
Yesterday we had violent thunderstorms all day.....
.... lots of torrential rain, wind and then hailstones.
At least the grass is nice and green and I haven't had to water my beans all week! Yes, I'm thinking positive thoughts.

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Beware of the Dragon

Wildlife in my tiny garden....
Immature male Common Whitetail dragonfly or Long Tailed Skimmer (plathemis lydia). 
His body will eventually turn white.

Dragonflies are the world's fastest insects, capable of reaching speeds of between 30 and 60 km/h (19 to 38 mph). A study has shown that dragonflies can travel as much as 85 miles in one day.
Dragonflies are among the most ancient of living creatures. Fossil records, clearly recognizable as the ancestors of our present day odonates, go back to Carboniferous times meaning that the insects were flying more than 300 million years ago, predating dinosaurs by over 100 million years and birds by some 150 million.
Dragonflies have excellent eyesight. Their compound eyes have up to 30,000 facets, each of which is a separate light-sensing organ or ommatidium, arranged to give nearly a 360° field of vision. Odonates are completely harmless - they do not sting or bite.

Friday, 23 June 2017

Dinnertime

High drama amongst the runner beans.
I think this is a zebra jumping spider about to dine on a green stink bug. Yummy!

Monday, 19 June 2017

Wedding in the Sunshine

Last Friday was a hot sunny day, almost too hot to be ouside in the sun, but a beautiful day for a wedding.   My DIL's lovely sister and her handsome new husband.
The wedding was at Dyment's Farm.... a working farm that hosts weddings, corporate events, private parties, Halloween pumpkins.... the perfect location high up on the Niagara Escarpment overlooking the city of Hamilton and Lake Ontario in the distance.
My grandies were a very important part of the family celebration. Isaac and Max carried the rings and Emma was joined by two other little girls to scatter white rose petals in the bride's path.
She wore a string of pearls that my auntie gave me when I was around 10 years old. Not sure if they are real or not, but I hope so!
The bride arrives with the proud Mum and Dad.
The view across the fields from where the wedding took place. There was a slight breeze, and the sound of birdsong in the air. A few misty clouds blew across the sky during the wedding ceremony, cooling the effect of the bright sun.... perfect!
The happy bride..... ready to party! 
And the handsome bridegroom. 
 The first dance.
Not my picture, but borrowed from the Dyment Farm web page. Three large barns around a central courtyard with a fire pit, chairs, and tables with umbrellas. The bar and dance hall are to the left, central barn is where the appetisers and then the buffet dinner are served, and to the right is the dining barn. 
Not shown..... the chip and poutine truck!
Not my picture, this is the dining barn. 
The food was yummy.... roast beef, chicken, loads of salads and assorted veggies, garlic mashed potatoes, tasty gravy. And for dessert, assorted fruit pies and a Tower of Butter Tarts!
SORRY..... The previous 2 pictures may not show. For more info. go to the farm web site.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Off the Beat

Arrhythmia. It's very unpleasant, as anyone who suffers from it will tell you. It suddenly started for me back on my 60th birthday.... a thumping irregular heart, tachycardia..... what a lovely birthday present.

I went to my office the next day as usual, and as I'm a person who prefers to climb up the stairs to the 5th floor rather then use the elevator, that's what I did. Or at least I tried. By the second floor I was gasping for breath and hanging on to the handrail. An ultra fast heartbeat of 200 beats per minute caused me to collapse with dizzyness and difficulty breathing. The company nurse was called, and off I went in a taxi to the Emergency Department of the nearest hospital.

That was a few years ago. Since then, the arrhythmia was managed successfully, first with medication and then, when it became constant 24/7 making my life a misery, with synchronised eletro-cardiversions on three occasions and a catheter ablation.



No abnormal heartbeat for 3-1/2 years.... yippee! It's fixed! But then three weeks ago, I felt the familiar vibrations of a fast irregular heartbeat. It didn't last long but managed to land me unexpectedly on the ground a couple of times and has since got a lot worse, so last week another trip to Emergency was necessary.

This time the doctor tried chemical cardioversion, which is an IV drip with anti-arrhythmia medication, but it didn't really work, so the decision was made to put me to sleep, attach the electrodes and run 200joules of electricity through my body for cardioversion number 4. And it was successful, and I'm back in sinus rhythm! Fingers crossed that it stays that way.

Anyone out there in blogland suffering from the same problem?
The worst part of this whole process is peeling those sticky ECG and electrode pads off my tender skin.

Here's a fascinating computer animation of various types of arrhythmias....
http://watchlearnlive.heart.org/CVML_Player.php?moduleSelect=arrhyt

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Revel

I don't really know why it's called Revel, but the installation in our local Art Gallery by Canadian artist Ed Pien is fascinating.  And dreamy. And haunting. And more than a little weird. I want my grandchildren to see it.

Here's what the gallery curator says about it:
Revel is like a dream. Upon entering the gallery you become immersed in that dream. Projected light fills the space through a large transparent spiral structure and within the light you catch glimpses of a figure in silhouette. The figure is the shadow of a young woman who gently attends to floating objects that resemble tiny houses and buildings, all within a cloud of organic forms and all appearing upon the gallery wall. As you move deeper into the space you literally become part of the scene as your shadow starts interacting with the shadow of the figure before you. If there is no-one else in the gallery with you it is a little unnerving to be shadow dancing with a ghost.
For Revel, Pien has created an eight-foot high, clear Mylar, spiraling screen that has been meticulously cut into a jungle of branches and organic forms. Several 3D sculptural forms are nested within a web of lines that are suspended from the ceiling at the center of the screen, casting their own shadows.

I walked between the spiral layers to the centre of the transparent labyrinth, with the image of an ethereal woman dancing around me and reflections like shimmering water on the walls. Quiet music was playing. My photos don't do the room justice. I think this is an installation where you have to be there and experience it in person!






The creator of this piece, Ed Pien, will be giving a talk at the Gallery about his work at the end of June. I'm definitely marking my calendar and intend on being there, just to find out what all this means.

Monday, 5 June 2017

Very Sad

On Saturday morning I was honoured to take a tour of the local Mosque, as part of the Doors Open event. We were greeted with welcoming smiles by members of the Moslem community. The imam is a lively, personable and knowledgeable young man, and he explained the beliefs and traditions of Islam to us, so many traditions are so close to both Judaiism and Christianity. One of the congregation demonstrated the prayers, and a lovely young lady told me about her childhood in Dubai and how happy she is to live here in Canada.
On leaving we were offered traditional foods.... mmmmm I love dates!... and each person was given a gift of information about Islam.
Then on Saturday night the awful stories of horror and terror unfolding in London.
I am so sad for the people who have lost loved ones, and all those who have been hurt or frightened by these despicable acts. And I am sad too, for the kind and gentle people who I met at the Mosque earlier that morning.

Friday, 26 May 2017

Tie Dye

A different challenge for my Art group this week.... tie dye!
We dyed some Tshirts last year successfully, and this time we tried traditional Japanese fabric dying technique of shibori, the art of folding, twisting or pleating fabric and then dying it to create a controlled pattern.
Fabric should be a natural fibre, we used cotton, cotton/linen mix, cotton artist canvas and silk. The fabric was folded or pleated and then tied tightly with elastic bands or string to hold the pleats in place, and then fabric dyes were added with a pipette in a controlled pattern.
The floor was covered in a huge tarp, and lots of newspaper and paper kitchen towels used to soak up the excess dye.... and don't forget to wear your oldest clothes and you definitely need latex gloves or you'll end up with interesting colourful hands.  Everyone used a different colour combination on their fabric, and a different technique.

One of my pieces of fabric was dyed on a pole, tightly secured at the top of the pole with string, and then crumpled and wrapped around the pole and tied tightly in a spiral. Dye was injected on a random basis. The fabric is wrapped in plastic and left for 24 hours, then rinsed in cold water until the water is clear. The piece can then be washed in warm soapy water and the colour won't wash out.
Now I have some pieces of pretty tie dye cotton..... no idea what I'll do with them, but I'm sure I'll find some use.