Thursday, 29 October 2020

The Lone Horseman

Perhaps one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse has taken a wrong turn and ended up in my Hallowe'en neighbourhood. The ultimate in Scary!

I think I'll have to go back when it's dark and get really scared!

Happy Hallowe'en!

Monday, 26 October 2020

Reflecting on the Reflections

 Walking along by a nearby pond and admiring the autumn colours reflected in the water.

Just looking at this photo is rather disorienting... everything is upside down. Makes me feel a bit dizzy.

Sunday, 18 October 2020

Shaggy Ink Cap

This Shaggy Ink Cap (coprinus comatus) is definitely past its prime. When these mushrooms are young, they have a grey shaggy appearance and they are edible, although I've never tried one. Once picked, it should be cooked and eaten fast, as it literally degrades into a black puddle very fast.

Because the gills under the mushroom cap are very close together, its hard for the spores to be released, so as the mushroom matures, the edges start to dissolve into a black inky liquid and curl upwards, enabling the spores to escape and make more Shaggy Ink Caps!

To actually make ink, the black ink cap liquid can be heated with a little water and some cloves, and voila! you have ink! I think the world of fungi is fascinating. I'm a closet mycologist.

Wednesday, 14 October 2020

The Ironwood Tree

Along one of the main trails at Drysdale Woods is a large Ironwood tree, (ostrya virginiana), and according to this plaque, it's believed to be the largest Ironwood tree in the Province of Ontario.

I had never heard of an Ironwood tree, but they have the hardest and densest wood of any native tree species in Canada, hence the reference to iron. In the past the wood was used for tool handles, sled runners, mallets, ladder rungs and firewood, but owing to the rarity of these trees, they are no longer harvested and should be protected.
Another common name for this tree is hophornbeam.....  "hop" refers to the similarity of the fruit clusters to hops, an ingredient in beer-making; "horn" refers to the hardness of the wood; and "beam" comes from an archaic English word for tree. 
The tree is growing on a slippery slope, so I didn't climb up to measure the trunk, but it's wider than my outstretched arms. There are a few baby hophornbeams growing around it too. It's a slow growing tree, so I think this tree is over 100 years old.
The bark is composed of shaggy peeling narrow strips that look a bit like strips of fried bacon! These trees rarely grow taller than 12 m (40') but I don't know how tall this one is, it looks pretty big to me.
I'll go back to visit this Ironwood tree again, and I'm keen to see it in the spring with its male and female catkins.

Sunday, 11 October 2020

Giving Thanks!

It's Canadian Thanksgiving weekend. The weekend where families get together around the dinner table and feast on roast turkey, or ham, and an array of vegetables, usually followed by dessert of traditional pumpkin pie. And we give thanks that we all live in such a great country!

Sadly, the Covid 19 infection numbers are steadily rising here. The advice from both the government and the docs is that we should all stay within our own households this year. No large Thanksgiving family gatherings. No big parties. No travelling long distances to see relatives. Stay safe. Stay at home. Keep the infection numbers low.

And so there's no big family dinner happening for me this year. I am at home by myself. Older Son is at home with his family, and Younger Son is at home with his family. It's just not worth the risk. But even though we can't celebrate our togetherness, there's a lot to be thankful for. We are all healthy, no positive Covid tests thank heavens, nobody has lost a job through the lockdown, the grandies are back in the swing of school, and we all have a positive attitude.

It has been a beautiful warm sunny day so I explored the trails through the nearby Drysdale Woods. This area of 55 hectares was a Christmas Tree farm operated by the Drysdale family for over 60 years, and was given to the York Regional Forest in 2014. There's a spruce and pine area, and lots of maple, oak and beech too. This is a wonderful time of year to walk in the trees... so of course, more photos.

Tuesday, 6 October 2020


Earlier this year I liberated some coloured papers from the rubbish bin at the gallery (never waste anything that might be useful is my policy), and I was wondering what to do with them. I know.... make them into a simple little paper book.

Well, I did that, then decided that books need stiff covers, so the next little book has a cover made from a discarded watercolour page.  These books were bound using the three hole pamphlet stitch. Very simple to do, I learned it at school 100 years ago.

Then I got ambitious. I thought I'd try something more complicated so I investigated numerous youtube tutorials showing Coptic stitch binding. I covered front and back boards with fishy gelli prints from the discard pile, and got started sewing everything together with waxed embroidery threads. Well.... it looks OK but it's not perfect. And the paper that I used inside is sort of textured and hard to write on. The advantage of the Coptic stitch is that when the book is open the pages will lay flat.

My second attempt at bookbinding using the Coptic stitch was better, I had an idea about what I was attempting. The front and back boards are covered with suminagashi paper that we made at art group last year. I wondered what to do with it, and this was the perfect solution. The pages were cut from an unused sketch book that I bought at a thrift shop.

The Japanese art of Suminagashi is the process of floating ink on the surface of the water and creating patterns, and then transferring the ink to paper, transforming plain paper to something unique and attractive.
My Coptic stitch along the spine leaves something to be desired, but I suppose practice makes perfect. In this little book, each page is called a folio, and each signature contains 3 or 4 folios. The signatures are sewn one by one starting with the back cover and ending in the front. Of course I misjudged the length of cord required, and had to make a join in the middle, making a rather untidy knot.
But I'm pretty pleased about the way this one turned out. I'll be making more.

Friday, 2 October 2020

Emerald Ash Borer

The Emerald Ash Borer is a highly destructive nasty little bug that is killing millions of ash trees throughout Ontario and the Great Lakes Region. It probably stowed away in a shipment of infected wood from Asia, and it's thrived ever since. Its larvae tunnels though the trees vascular system cutting off water, nutrients and sugars, and once infected with these little devils, the poor tree doesn't stand a chance.

Wood from infected trees shouldn't be moved to another location as the infection can move with it to previously clean areas. 

A young ash tree in front of my house suffered the same fate in 2015. It was replaced with an Armstrong Maple.... I blogged about it here.

This lovely ash tree is managing to stay healthy so far.... with a little help from the Forestry people.

Fingers crossed that this mature tree will survive. I gave it an encouraging pat and told it to be very brave and to trust the Forestry people! They know what they are doing.