Monday, April 29, 2013

Another birds-eye view

Not the family in the bird house this time, but a little pine siskin on the feeder at the front of the house (this photo taken through the window):

Pine siskin at feeder

I could spend hours watching all the birds this time of year.  A beautiful male finch, 80% reds and pinks and purples, was at the feeder today but flew away when I grabbed the camera.  The goldfinches flew through here last week too, brilliant yellow and shining black.  Mating season brings out such amazing colours in the male birds.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Some Days are for the Birds!

Well, the insulation isn't done - the workers burned out the motor of the blower after doing only about 1/4 of the attic, and who knows when they'll return.  All I can say is that the best thing about last week was the weather and the amount I got done in the yard and shed.

I did intend to build a small ramp into the shed today, but got sidetracked by what has become an annual event in my back yard - photographing the first hatch of baby birdies in my backyard birdhouse.

I first heard the little pips on Monday, but today was the first day the little faces peeked out of the hole.  In a couple more days they will take their first flight.  Here's a small sampling of some of my favorite photos from this afternoon:

Papa bird and the triplets

Mama bird arrives with the groceries

Now, what do you say? PLEASE, mama!

Papa, we're starving!

Down the hatch!

Dad, Mom, and Greedy Gus

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Guess who dropped by today?

Hi everyone!
It's me, Riley! 
Riley, who stayed with us for a couple of months this winter, was back on the island with Deb for a couple of days and dropped in to say "woof" on their way back to the mainland.  Riley brought along her pal, Roxy, who is being looked after by Deb for a while.

As my house is in a state of chaos this week while being re-wired and re-insulated, I was thankful that the weather has been glorious all week long.  I've been spending my days in the yard, trying to keep one step ahead of weeds, cleaning out the back shed, planting a few more things, power washing the decks, etc.  So I was ready for a day off to catch up with Deb and take the dogs to the beach.

Deb with Riley, Eddie, and Roxy

Eddie's not to keen on the sea walk when anyone else is on it - he likes to walk on one particular side and  focus very intensely on reaching the other end of the boardwalk before the Trolls who live beneath it squeeze up through the cracks and gobble him up.  Heaven forbid anyone get in his path.

MOVE, Riley!  Yer in mah way!
The Trolls are gonna get me!
An otter was at the edge of the water chowing down on a large fish.  I just had my pocket camera with me, and the tide was out far enough to be just beyond range of my zoom.  Still, I was surprised that I still was able to capture a shot or two.

Otter chows down on fish

Deb had a better camera/telephoto lens with her, so she has promised to send me her photos of the otter fish feast too.

Mitzi has been up and down with her hot spots on her foot and with tummy troubles, and didn't accompany us on the walk.  I think she finds all the workmen in the house very exhausting even though she is either outside with me or safely snoozing in her crate in the mudroom.  But at the end of the afternoon when we had the house back to ourselves, she had a bite to eat and then jumped into her favourite armchair to collapse.  She's quite the drama queen.

Oh Mah Goodness!
This is TOO much!
Ah'm just plain exhausted!

Never mind Mitzi, tomorrow the work should be finished and life can get back to normal again. At least, until we pay off this debt and plan the next project.....

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Why I hate slugs

Overnight, they turned this:

Into this:

Arrrghhh.  Yeah, I know, slugs need to eat too - but why can't they just eat the weeds and leave the flowers alone?!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Grace Road Park in spring

Let's go hiking, Mama Jean!

The last time we visited Grace Road Park was in the fall.  The waterfall had dried up and the river was low.  Sadie B and Eddie decided it was time to show Mitzi the river, and commandeered Gail and I to drive them to the trailhead.

Hey little buddy, you'll like this place!
The day was overcast and the temperature was mild - a perfect day for hiking.  Sadie B and Eddie were happy to be running free, and Mitzi trotted along willingly on her long flexi-leash.  A pleasant walk down to the river, and soon the waterfall was in sight:

Banon Falls
(which also has another name, but I've forgotten it)
There is still snow in the mountains, so the river is not yet at its peak.  Strings of water cascaded down other parts of the cliff face,

but there was still lots of rocky river bank to explore, and the water was clear with a translucent green tint that reminds me of a watercolour painting.  My pocket camera didn't capture it well; local readers just might have to check it out for themselves!

Ah hope you don't expect me to go swimming!

Eddie and Mitzi explored the shoreline, while Sadie B paddled along the edge of the river:

Gail and I chatted loudly after seeing what we think were the tracks of a young bear in the sand.  I expect he was long gone, but a little conversation is always a wise precaution in bear country in spring.

Go 'way, Bear!
I is not a snack!

After a few treats to restore their energy,

Auntie Gail has the BEST treats in the world!

We headed into the trees again, wandering on paths where bleeding heart and trillium were already in bloom:

Trillium in bloom

First blooms of bleeding heart

On the way back up the hill to the parking area, Sadie B thought a thorough splash in a mud puddle would be fun:

Mud, glorious mud!

A good time was had by all, and just as we reached the cars a spring shower began.  Good timing!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

I can be clicker-trained!

Well, after the wonderful response to my previous post, it occurs to me that Eddie and I are not just similar in our scruffy gray hair or somewhat portly bodies - we are also both very easy to clicker-train.  I blog, you click (on the comment button) and reward me (with your words) and guess what?  I repeat the behaviour!
Of course, Eddie was quick to point out that cookies are even faster at shaping behaviour than words.

Yeah, you're supposed to 'click' and send cookies raining from the sky!
That's how clicker training works!
He didn't quite get what I meant when I told him computer 'cookies' are not the same as the kind I keep in his treat pouch.

Today was a good day - sunny, warm, productive.  My three-season tires are back on my car and my winter tires back in storage.  I filed my income tax return and will be getting a refund (though the $1000 refund will only cover one eighth of what I will be paying out next week to have some old and dangerous wiring replaced and the insulation in the attic brought up to code. Ugh.)  Mitzi and I took a walk around town, and I smiled at the sight of a young long-haired man lying on his back on the grass with a very large black cat fast asleep on his chest.  Eddie and I wandered down to the beach and watched seven eagles catch a ride on a thermal, circling higher and higher in the blue sky.  And I picked the first harvest from the garden, and made my first kale chips.

The kale and swiss chard made it through the mild winter, so a few weeks ago I split and trimmed some of the clumps, replanted in fresh, nutritious soil, and watched them take off.  This is a picture of the kale and rainbow swiss chard after I harvested a bunch today - I forgot to take a 'before' picture!

Kale and Swiss Chard

I steamed the chard for my dinner veggie.  I cooked baby potatoes from the market with a sprig of fresh mint from my garden, then tossed them with fresh parsley and chives, also from my garden.  And I baked fresh sole from the fish market with a little fresh tarragon from the pot on my patio.  Yum!

First harvest 2013

Then I tried out the new-to-me dehydrator I bought from a neighbour recently.  I took the freshly harvested kale,  removed the stalks, tossed the leaves with a little olive oil and sea salt, and lay them in the dehydrator which worked its magic for a few hours.

Filling the racks

OH. MY. GOODNESS.  I was sneaking crisp, salty kale chips out of the top rack before it was even finished.  And I can't show you a picture of the finished product - I ate them all!  Best Snack Ever.  This may well be a nightly event!

Well, ah hopes you uses that de-hyd-rator thingy
to make some treats fer Eddie and me!
An' I don't mean kale chips!
Some of the summer bulbs I planted are beginning to show their shoots, the sweet peas (spelled it correctly this time, Evensong!) are a couple of inches high, the young tomato plants are doing okay, the honeysuckle and hydrangea both have heads of tightly clustered buds which will one day burst open with colour.  And the evergreen clematis and columbine I planted the other week are beginning to flower.

Columbine greets the springtime sun

Evergreen clematis climbs a trellis
outside my bedroom window

In a week when the Boston Marathon turned to terror, and on a day when the senate of  that same country declined to take even small steps to reduce gun violence.....
and in a week when one of my very favourite Canadian singers, Rita MacNeil, unexpectedly passes away, leaving her amazing legacy of Cape Breton humor, courage, and song.....
in a month when the numbers of lost dogs and unclaimed strays became overwhelming to this animal lover....
and at a time in history when sadness and horror bombards us from every side thanks to social media....
it is good to feel the sun on my face, watch my dogs playing in the yard, eat produce I have grown, watch new life emerge from the soil.

Despite all the challenges that face our world, for this moment of this day in this one woman's life, I have to say: "Life is Good".  

Monday, April 15, 2013

Do I Hafta?

Sometimes I feel guilty when I don't blog for several days.  When it stretches to a week, I feel REALLY guilty.  Sometimes I don't blog because I'm busy and/or tired.  Sometimes I don't blog because I'm just not inspired.  Sometimes I don't blog because I'm too lazy to sort through a bunch of photos and pull them into a story.

And sometimes I don't blog because I'm not sure anyone is reading the blog anyway!

So there!

The stat counter tells me people are visiting the page, but the scarcity of comments these days makes me think sometimes I am just talking to myself.

And that's okay, I guess.  The reason I started this blog was to have some fun recording my life with critters and illustrating it with photos, and at the same time providing a way to let my friends and family know I'm still alive given that I am the world's worst at keeping in touch.

So, in case you are wondering, yes I'm here and all is well.  I haven't been taking many photos lately so other than one long and complicated  photo-post that I'm currently too lazy to put together, I have nothing wonderful for you to look at.  That's why I stuck a nice sunrise photo, one you've seen before, at the top of this post.  For those who like pictures more than words.

I've been rearranging my office in hopes of becoming inspired to write;  I've been procrastinating on my taxes  (which aren't due until April 30th in Canada, just in case my American friends who are trying to beat the midnight deadline today are wondering);  I've been doing some gardening, and helping prepare for this year's SPCA giant garage sale, and going to my book club and my writing group, and walking the dogs, and watching Call the Midwife and American Idol and Murdoch Mysteries and Cracked (much more television than I usually watch - thank goodness we are already hitting the season finales on some of them!)  and I've been reading The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and I've been catching up on long-overdue filing.  I've been following up on leads on the still-missing Levi.

And Mitzi had a gastrointestinal upset that made her very ill for a few days so I've been helping pay down my vet's student loans (hey, she's a young vet - I'm guessing she's still paying off her loans rather than sending her kids through college).  Mitzi is feeling much better now, thank you.

So, I guess I have been busy.  Or lazy.  Or a bit of both.  Which is why I haven't blogged.  But I know some of you are likely waiting for more stories and photos of dogs or pigs or hikes or life on the island.  But I ask you.....

Do I hafta?

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

My Friend Rajah

By Eddie

Last week Auntie Margaret and Mama took me and my friend Rajah for a walk in Echo Heights.  We've been there before, but it has been quite a while as both Rajah and I had owies that limited our hiking abilities. We'z both feeling much better now thank you very much for asking.

My Pal Rajah

Me!  A little blurry,
cuz I was moving fast! 

I like Echo Heights - there are lots of interesting trails where we can run and sniff and pee and run some more.

Look how floofy my tail is! 

There's even a swamp that Rajah likes to go splash in, and then he rolls and rolls and rolls in the bushes to dry off.  Silly Rajah!

Oooooooh that feels gooooood!

We had a nice run and then we went back to Auntie Margaret's.  Mama is trying to get me over my fear of going into strange houses.  It's not working.  She carried me up the stairs, because I don't do stairs (but I don't panic when Mama carries me no more).  Then I belly-crawled across the floor and then raced back to the patio doors and hugged the glass until it was time to go.  I had to make sure Mama couldn't leave without me!!!

The humans had coffee and cookies.  And do you know what Rajah did?  He tried to hyp-no-tize the cookies!

You Are Feeling Very Sleepy
You Will Do Exactly What I Say! 

I think he was trying to make them fly through the air to his mouth.  If it was me, I woulda just grabbed them and RAN!  Silly Rajah!

Rajah:  I'm not silly.  I just know that a little restraint
earns me more cookies than a
Well, that's all for today.  Maybe tomorrow or the next day, mama will write something.  Us dogs is getting sore paws.

Love, Eddie.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Mama's Busy.....

By Mitzi and Eddie

Mitzi here.  Mama Jean is lazy busy, so much so that she hazn't even told you the story of Crofton's Massive Move.  She'll get to it.  But since she's too lazy busy to blog, Eddie and I will keep you entertained.  Mama Jean sez we keep her entertained and that is why she never has energy time to blog.

Anyway, guess what I've been doin'?

Nope, I didn't dip my feets in chocolate for Easter.

And I wazn't helping Mama Jean in the garden again (well, I was, but that's not when this picture was taken).

I waz MOUNTAIN CLIMBING.  Mama Jean sez it was more of a short hike, but when you weigh less than ten pounds and have little tiny legs, going up the trail to Crofton Lake is a great big mountain climbing expedition.  Mama Jean's brother climbed to the top of Mt Kilimanjaro last month, and his legs is waaay longer than mine, so I betcha this hike was the equivalent of Mt Kilimanjaro for little ol' me!  

Me at the top!
I'z so proud of myself!

Get outta mah picture, Eddie!
This is MY part of the story!

Stoopid brother, honing in on my photoshoot!

So here I am at Mt Kilimanjaro Crofton Lake.  When we first started up the trail, through the deep dark forest, I wazn't happy.  I kept turning around to try to go back to the car, but Mama Jean had me on my long leash so I couldn't escape.  Then Auntie Gail, Sadie B's mama, had the brilliant idea of  bribing me with offering me the Best Treats Ever instead of the boring kibble snacks mama offered me, and ZOOM, I was on my way, trotting right along and just stopping often enough and long enough to get Auntie Gail to bring out the treats again.

Sadie B thought it was fun to go swimming in the lake.


Are You Kidding Me?  Take a bath On Purpose?  There's no understanding some dogs.

And Silly Eddie was just running around being silly.

Eddie here.  I was NOT being silly!  I was just gettin' my exercise.  Auntie Gail tried to get me to go in the water too, but I said No Thank You Not Even For Food.

Aw c'mon Auntie Gail!
That Is Not Fair!

But she gave me a treat anyway.

I'm a good boy.
I deserve a treat!

Mitzi decided she really liked hiking and managed to hit every mud puddle on the way back down.  That's how she ended up with chocolate dirty legs, in case you were wondering.

Mitzi:  I'z on the trail of a Mountain Lion!
I is a Brave, Strong, Mountain Climber!

Tomorrow I (Eddie the Explorer) will tell you about my outing with my friend Rajah and Auntie Margaret.  Mitzi didn't get to come on that one.  Nyah-nyah-nyah.

Mitzi:  Hey, I had to catch up on mah Beauty Rest.
That's something yucky  Boy Dogs don't understand.
(Though I don't think it's fair that I had to have a bath and Eddie didn't!)