Saturday, 31 May 2008

Babysitting and ZOOMing Away

I spent the last couple of days doing what Nana's do best... hugging and kissing my gorgeous grandson! The Equestrienne and her friend Dax were busy at one of the most prestigious dressage horse shows of the spring and Nana was called on to help out.
Of course, it rained most of yesterday, but Callum stayed dry.

And luckily the rain held off while Dax and his horse Skippy did their thing in the show ring.
The horse show continues over the weekend but the other grandma will be taking over Callum duties.... I'm signing off for 3 weeks.... it's time for an adventure.

I may be able to post on this blog while I'm away.... but maybe not.

Meanwhile, in the words of that Canadian 80's band, Glass Tiger, "Don't Forget Me When I'm Gone". See ya!

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Spring Cleaning

The eavestroughs are full of black goo with sticks and dead leaves blocking the downpipes, so every rainy day it looks like a scale model of Niagara Falls coursing off the roof.
Time to clean up!

This job usually gets done twice a year.... spring and fall. When my sons were little, they would love to get up on the roof to "help", meanwhile I would dread finding one of them in a crumpled heap on the ground. It never happened, thank goodness.

Last November an early winter put an end to the usual fall cleanup. We didn't even rake the leaves as we were in Florida, and came home to everything covered in snow!

This gooey, black, toxic smelly stuff includes a couple of dead birds... some flakes of brick from the chimney... some unidentified seedlings starting to take root.... indestructible beanpods from the Catalpa tree...

.... and this is just a small portion of the haul. YUK! This is my part of the job (the easy part), shovel it into bags ready for yard waste pickup day and hose down the patio afterwards.
The Space Cadet deserves a medal!

Monday, 26 May 2008

Toad of Toad Hall

Meet Mr Toad... to be more precise, Mr American Toad (Bufo americanus).

He lives in my back yard with his family and friends.

Handsome fellow, warts 'n' all.

Friday, 23 May 2008

Around the World in 90 Minutes

Tonight, the International Space Station was scheduled to pass directly over the Toronto area at precisely 9:55p.m.
At 9:50p.m. we were out in the back yard, craning our necks to look up into the night sky, not knowing what to expect. There were a few high clouds, but most of the sky was clear.
"What's that?"
False alarm... a V of Canada geese flew overhead, their white bellies lit up by the lights on Main Street.
Then I spotted it..... a bright light, bigger and brighter than any of the stars, high up, moving rapidly across the sky from west to east.

It didn't look quite like this. Not from where I was standing.
But there it was, carrying it's complement of three astronaut scientists, travelling at 27,700 km per hour, 350 km above my back yard!
And it circles the earth precisely 15.77 times each day. We stood and watched until it disappeared behind the trees.

We live in astonishing times.

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Travels with Tessa - Part 3

Now that the long weekend has come and gone, the sun is shining again.... it was rainy and cold for most of the time, but we still managed to take some long walks between the showers.
Tessa renewed her acquaintance with the swans, but they sensibly kept their distance.

By the edge of the water there are clumps of Marsh Marigolds growing, also known as Kingcups, bright and sunny even on a dull rainy drippy sort of day.

Here's a rare find... a Yellow Morel. This is one of the best wild mushrooms for eating, commanding a high price if you can find them for sale. I left this one where it is, growing under an ancient apple tree. Someone else might decide to take it home and sample it for dinner, but not me!

And this bracket fungus isn't so rare... Dryad's Saddle. It grows on dead and dying deciduous trees, and can grow up to half a meter across. Edible when young... but again... I'm not going to try it.

Tessa found a little stick house to explore. Perhaps this could be where the dryads live when they're not sitting on their saddles?

YoungerSon and The Bride collected Tessa on their way home from their weekend in NYC yesterday.
Life here will be a lot quieter without having to keep an eye at all times on a naughty, rambunctious, mischevious, garden-digging, early-morning-howling, midnight-barking, flowerpot-chewing, tulip-eating energetic puppy!
For Travels with Tessa - Parts 1 amd 2, see the two previous posts.

Sunday, 18 May 2008

Travels with Tessa - Part 2

Dull and showery, but Tessa and I don't care, we go exploring through the woods regardless of the changeable weather. Plus I have the advantage of an umbrella!

Back in the far reaches of the forest path, we came across a fortune from a fortune cookie. Huh? Strange place to find a fortune. "Ability is not something to be shown off." Probably good advice.

The trilliums are still blooming, but I have to admit, they look a lot better on a sunny day.

This young tree is growing right in the middle of the remains of an old tree trunk. Mother Nature is practising her recycling.

She walked in the mud, wallowed in the mud, rolled in the mud, and I think she even ate mud......

....but she had a great time. She loves weekends with her Nana!
For Travels with Tessa - Part 1, see previous post.

Friday, 16 May 2008

Travels with Tessa - Part 1

I'm puppy sitting this weekend, so Tessa and I have been taking lots of long energetic walks.
There are trails through the forest just to the north of town... some are gravel and are suitable for bikes, and some, like this one, are better suited for hiking through the bush.

The fresh new green leaves look so vivid in the spring sunlight. Tessa thinks so too.

The trail runs partly around the edge of the town reservoir. A pair of Trumpeter Swans have been returning every year to raise their family, and they are back again this year.

The swans have a nest hidden somewhere among the bullrushes. This area is a haven for water birds. A pair of Canada Geese have nested on a small promontory, two eggs so far!

On the way back, we passed a large patch of delicate wild strawberry flowers.

Location noted. We'll be back in June for the fruit!

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

A Little Ray of Sunshine

The sun is low on the horizon, shining through jewelled glass.

Monday, 12 May 2008

Mushroom Mystery

My compost pile is covered in mushrooms! Or are they toadstools?

They LOOK like mushrooms.
They SMELL like mushrooms.
They FEEL like mushrooms.

But do they TASTE like mushrooms? Can I eat them for breakfast with my bacon and eggs and expect to survive until lunchtime?

Any ideas?

Sunday, 11 May 2008


After featuring Puppy Tessa's fancy new summer hairdo in the previous post, now it's Callum's turn to be in the spotlight.
He's full of happy smiles now, and will readily get involved in conversations, it's just that he doesn't have a very large vocabulary yet. It's mostly arm and leg waving, accompanied by gurgles and bubble blowing.

It's hard to remember life without him as part of our family.

He's so warm and soft and snuggly.... sometimes he looks like OlderSon, sometimes he looks like The Equestrienne.... but where did he get that cute little dimple in his chin?

I'm really enjoying my new role as Nana. We're going to have such fun together, Callum and me!
Last 2 pics taken by Callum's Daddy.

Friday, 9 May 2008

Short Back and Sides, Please!

Puppy Tessa recently paid a visit to the doggy beauty parlour to get a summer haircut.


.... and after.

She's so full of bouncy energy, I'm amazed that she sat still long enough to lose all that fur!
I'm puppysitting next weekend while YoungerSon and The Bride are sightseeing in NYC.... wish me luck!
First 2 pics taken by YoungerSon.

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

The Sad Sad Story of Mr and Mrs Robin

Mr and Mrs Robin were in love.
Mr Robin had a definite twinkle in his eye when he suggested to Mrs Robin the possibility of starting a family.
Mrs Robin, being a practical sort of girl, told Mr Robin that you can't raise a family without a comfy home to put them in, so she started collecting dry grass and mud.
Mr Robin helped a bit, but Mrs Robin was the Martha Stewart of Birdland, and built this gorgeous nest for her babies in a flowerpot mounted on the garage wall.

Mr Robin was very impressed with the neat new nest and spent lots of time flapping his wings and singing a song telling Mrs Robin what a gorgeous girl she was. Mrs Robin loved all the attention, and pretty soon, the first egg appeared.

Then another... Mr Robin was so proud!

..... another ..... Mr Robin was starting to worry....

..... and, to Mr Robin's consternation, another!

Mrs Robin decided that four little mouths to feed was quite enough and started sitting on the eggs. She sat day and night, rain or shine, occasionally nipping out to get a fast-food snack of worms or bugs.

But... disaster struck! Yesterday morning, Mr Robin was looking dejectedly at the nest and Mrs Robin was flying around in a very agitated manner.

Crows? Squirrels? Blue Jays? Poor Mr and Mrs Robin.... I hope they recover from their tragic loss and try again for a family of chicks.
I have my fingers crossed for them.

Sunday, 4 May 2008

Kool-Aid and Sulphur Tuft

Did you ever make Kool-Aid for the kids on a hot summer day?
Did you ever wonder about those bright colours?
I've discovered a new use for Kool-Aid....

I bought a bunch of white wool yarn from the charity shop... now, what to do with it? I know! I'll have some fun dyeing it with Kool-Aid! If you want to try this, instructions are here.

This was created from Orange Kool-Aid dabbed with a touch of Tropical Punch, and some of the yarn was left it's natural white colour. I'm quite pleased with this one.... perhaps a hat for Baby Callum? Make sure you cover your table with a plastic sheet, and wear rubber gloves or you'll be displaying Tropical Punch fingers for a couple of days.

This creation consists of Lemon-Lime Kool-Aid, Ice Blue, and a touch of Tropical Punch. The Tropical Punch came in a blue packet, so I thought it was going to be blue, but to my surprise it was red. Duh! Perhaps it was a mistake to add the red... it looks a bit too Christmassy to me.

I tied the skein of yarn tightly in numerous places before dunking in the dye to create small white areas where the dye could not penetrate. The whole skein was dunked in Grape Kool-Aid and then painted between the tied areas with a sprinkling of Tropical Punch. That Tropical Punch was actually quite a good colour, in spite of not matching the packet! I like this, it has heathery shades in it. I still have more yarn to experiment with, and I haven't tried Cherry, Lemon or Strawberry-Kiwi flavours yet!

And now a fungus update. Tom was right, yesterday's post shows Suphur Tuft, or Hypholoma fasciculare. This small gill fungus grows in large clumps on stumps, dead roots or rotting trunks of broadleaved trees. But beware... it's not intended for breakfast!

This is what it looks like this morning, after a rainy night. Qute a contrast to the previous post.

Friday, 2 May 2008

Mushroom or Toadstool?

Last year, one of the ancient maple trees lining the street became unsafe, and was cut down.

The roots were left to rot, and this spring I noticed a new visitor... an interesting fungus colony has appeared around the stump.

I tried searching the internet but can't find any references.

Can anyone name this fungus?
YoungerSon... you took mycology courses at Uni... any ideas?

Thursday, 1 May 2008


Now that the snow has gone, one of the first spring wildflowers to bloom in the woodlands is the Trillium. White flowers are the most common. A white trillium is the Provincial Flower of Ontario.

The delicate purple trillium is often called Wake-robin, or Stinking Benjamin. It looks pretty but the flowers have the smell of rotting meat, as they are pollenated by flies. Clever!