Baby Pictures – July 29, 2014

Such a cool morning.  Lord Wren was out and about, serving in his many roles as co-provider for his little family, and as their loyal protector.  The clothesline provides him with a good vantage point.

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Whatever or whoever was on the ground below Swiss Chalet?  Lord Wren peered down from his post for a good five minutes – the longest he’s been in one spot since he arrived at Cedar Hollow.  You can just see the intelligence in those little eyes, can’t you, and his intense concentration. 

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Bounce the Hummer seemed to prefer the feeder this morning over flying amongst drenched flowers, no matter what flavour of nectar they might offer him.

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This afternoon, my neighbour called at the side door.  She brought someone with her that Mr. McD and I were delighted to see!!

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“Look.  He walks all around,” said his proud adopted mother, as she set him down on the patio.

Hop.  Hop.  Hop.  Soon he was at the edge of the flowerbed.  Mrs. B. gently scooped him up before he disappeared beneath a sprawling evergreen. 

“Sometimes he flaps his wings,” she added, beaming.

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Mrs. B’s natural and relaxed way of handling the little songster was truly amazing to behold!  She looked like she had done this all her life.  I was surprised that she didn’t bring him over in his crib but simply held  him cupped in her hands.

 And to think . . . all this joy just fell out of a tree! 

Maybe you’d better scoot over to your hairdresser right away quick and see if she has a baby bird for you to nurture!

 

 

Supplementing Baby Robin’s Diet – July 26, 2014

You wanted to know where our neighbour found that little bird, didn’t you?  At her hairdresser’s!  Where else would such a tousled looking individual go?  He didn’t exactly “go,” but found himself plopped on her front lawn, nest and all!  Perhaps the wind dislodged his mud-walled abode from the tree.  Perhaps a mean old coon did, or one of those always-in-a-hurry squirrels.

Anyway, when the hairdresser asked if he wanted a haircut, he simply cheeped, “No thanks.  I need a momma to look after me.”  He gave a little shiver.

 And that’s when my good neighbour, who was at the hairdresser’s, volunteered to take him home.

Chatting with her out of the window this morning, she said she caught a mosquito when she was preparing some scrambled eggs for him, and added it to the mix!  She kept his adobe-style nest in the nursery box so that he has familiar surroundings.   

Meanwhile, Lord and Lady Wren are pulling long-g-g shifts, caring for their youngsters.  Mind you, they’re not complaining.  Whoever heard a wren complain?

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The bee balm patches continue to be a fountain of refreshing sweetness for the hummers.

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Mr. McD got some odd jobs done today, both of which required him to climb on a stepladder, new knee and all.  A garden topper purchased a few years ago at the Stratford Garden Festival was installed on the clothesline pole.
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The upper shed had its hatpin put back on, which was taken off last summer when Mr. McD tarred the roof.

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I have no news to report on Mr. and Mrs. Treefrog.  They must have taken off on a day trip or something.   

Later this afternoon, my neighbour said that she thought the baby robin’s excrement was a bit loose, so she went to the pet store and got something for that, and also bought a jar of worms.  She must have his meal right ready before she pulls back the covers because the moment she does that, his mouth flies wide open!   By the time she also gives a tiny taste to her gentle Rottweiler . . . baby robin has dropped off to sleep.  This growing up business is mighty hard work!

By the way, when awake, he is already walking around! Worms must be super nutritious, but I don’t think I’ll give them a try.  I’ll just make that observation, OK, because I’m just way too busy.  However, if you add a worm or two to your scrambled eggs some morning, do email me and let me know if you experience a BURST OF ENERGY!   You’ll never know if you don’t try, will you? 

The parsley worked its magic! – July 24 – 2014

Pokers of hosta flowers seemed transformed into silk by the morning light filtering through the forest’s leafy canopy.

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When the hummingbird imbibes from one of the fragrant hosta lilies, he has to enter so far into the flower that he looks like he is wearing an elfin hat!  My photo of this was too blurry to share, but here he is homing in on the bee balm, which he will be sipping from in a nanosecond!

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The wrens’ repertoire has shrunk considerably since they started the demanding feeding schedule.  Come to think of it, Mr. McD and I didn’t have time for symphonies either when we were raising our three youngsters!

Today I picked the first-fruits of the green beans – a whole bowlful, in fact!   They are thriving in the sidewalk garden just in front of the Cedar Hollow sign.

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A new visitor arrived today, and not a bit too soon.  The black swallowtail butterfly confided that the bee balm nectar was absolutely delectable!  She couldn’t get enough of it!

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Mrs. Swallowtail bravely copes with a disability, having lost her lower right wing.

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After flitting about the bee balm patch and sipping to her heart’s content, she headed for the parsley that I had moved to the upper knoll in anticipation of just such a visit.  Now, how do you think she located the parsley in Cedar Hollow?  It’s not like we have a yard full of it.  You can see her laying eggs, one at a time.  They are pale yellow in colour.

July 24-14-Swallowtail lays eggs on parsley

Caterpillars will emerge in 3-5 days.  If the wrens don’t spot them, they will gorge on the parsley, and then hang from a silken girdle inside a rather ugly looking chrysalis in some secluded spot.  After overwintering in the paperlike tomb, it will miraculously emerge in spring as an elegant butterfly, a black swallowtail!

Swallowtails are the state butterfly of Oklahoma, U.S.A.   Besides parsley, they like dill, caraway, celery, and sweet fennel, and wild Queen Anne’s Lace.  Unlike the Monarch butterfly, whose favourite food, the milkweed plant, is being eradicated by harmful pesticides, there seems to be an abundance of Queen Anne’s Lace everywhere you look.  The future looks bright, indeed, for these midnight beauties.

Navigational system par excellence! – July 23, 2014

Bright and early this morning, the wrens were shopping for babyfood, baby wren food, that is – on the roof of the shed, among the hostas, the lilac bushes, and the trees of the forest.  Fresh, mind you, following the guidelines of buying locally produced food within a one hundred-yard radius of Cedar Hollow.  None of that imported stuff for their family!

July 23-14-wren A big improvement was underway at Cedar Hollow today.  Our next-door neighbour had a new fence installed all the way around her yard so that her companion dog will have a place to play.  He is a hefty Rottweiler, but under her loving care and guidance, is friendly and well mannered.  The new fence between us is a handsome one, indeed.  Its five foot height will hopefully discourage deer from getting in and chomping down the cedars.   (They’ve been known to do that before!)  I’m already dreaming of planting sweet peas along one section of the fence next spring! 

July 23-14-men installing fence

You’re not tired of seeing bee balm, are you?  Bounce the hummer isn’t!  Just look at him responding to the “Come along, do” invitation its flowerlettes extend.  They hold the lid of their punch bottles up high, clear out of the way of thirsty hummers. 

July 23-14-hummer in bee balm

With the overnight temperature dipping low again, you almost wish you could knit little shawls for the tiny hummers.  After all, Kitchener broke a 90-year record last week with a low overnight temperature of 6.5.  No doubt the hummers wished they had never left the tropical warmth of Costa Rica!    

During such mind-boggling flights, I don’t think their GPS ever intones, “Recalculating.”   Uh uh.  Our great Creator has equipped these flying jewels, as someone aptly described them, with an unfailing navigational system the size of a pinhead . . . or half a pinhead . . . or the point of a needle . . . or . . . . . . . .

And to all a good night – July 22, 2014

Up with the birds!  

When I looked into the back yard at 6:00 this morning, there was Lady Wren entering the Swiss Chalet with a breakfast tray.   She moved so fast that I wasn’t able to figure out what was on the menu for Tuesday.   

Later as Mr. McD opened the bench by some cedar hedging to fetch out cushions for the lawn swing, who should he see but Jumpy the Tree Frog!  How on earth did he get in there with the lid closed?  But there he was, and he didn’t so much as apologize for being in the way either. 

July 22-14-tree frog in bench

Keeping the bird baths filled and clean is a must on a day as hot as this – 29 degrees!

However, I spent part of the day dabbling in snow!  And I’m not pulling your leg!  Using a thin wash of oil paint, I brushed in the shapes on canvas of a winter painting that will be titled “Blair Stone Arch.”   Covered with mounds of fluffy snow, it is located about five minutes from our home.   Well, the snow isn’t . . . but it was when I photographed it.  The quaint arch spans the Bowman/Blair Creek.  Its very shape reveals the history of the area when Scottish settlers arrived in the year 1830.

As the sun sets, it bathes the trunks of the forest’s trees in an orange glow.  Lady Wren is on her way into Swiss Chalet for the night. 

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I have a hunch that she is about to sing this lullaby:

Day is done
Gone the sun
From the lake
From the hills
From the sky
All is well
God is nigh
Sweetly rest

As dusk settles down over Cedar Hollow, an evening primrose near the purple petunias pops open without a sound, ready to catch moonbeams in her golden cup.  The lighthouse on the rocky cliff sends forth shafts of light over the water. 

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  Good night all.

Fire in Park! June 12 and 13th, 2014

How do you keep on top of things?  The waterlilies not only have marauding coons to contend with, but in the dark recesses of the pool, something is actually trying to choke them to death!  Lloyd puts on his police badge . . . and heads into the fray.  Frequently he has to literally pry the dark villain’s fingers off of their necks, using a bottle brush attached to the end of a stick.  Villain’s ID?  Algae.

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How the years fly by.  Our granddaughter, Rebekah, made her way through the audience to see us shortly before the graduation ceremonies got underway at Conestoga College on the afternoon of June 12th.  On the same day that she graduated as an Early Childhood Care worker, she received a phone message that she had been accepted for a full-time position with Tender Loving Care, a childcare company well established in Cambridge.  How’s that for a red-letter day?

June 12-14-R-1024- grad

While motorcycles without number roared toward Port Dover for their infamous Friday the 13th rendezvous, we headed to a quiet outing at Riverside Park, Guelph, with Young at Heart, the seniors’ group at Heidelberg Bible Fellowship.

June 13-river in Riverside Park,Guelph

The gardens surrounding the floral clock featured both peace-loving white peonies  . . . . 

June 13-Peonies -1024-white & buds . . . . . .as well as flaming oriental poppies too hot to handle!

June 13-Poppies, orange,1024-Riverside Park

 

The Tall and the Short of it.

What do waterlilies taste like?  Maybe not so great.  I suspect it was a coon who took a chomp out of one of the waterlilies last night, and spit it back out, leaving petals strewn about on the water.

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Two tall plants are in bloom by the wood fence.  One is a delphinium.  The hummingbird made an inspection of the garden a couple of days ago, hovering above yellow daylilies for a few seconds.  I do hope she will take a sip of delphinium ambrosia.

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Three star-bursting spheres from the onion family are blooming not far from the delphinium, and two more star-bursts greet anyone who happens along the sidewalk garden.  When  finished blooming, the spheres dry well, and make an interesting addition to an autumn bouquet, lasting for years.

June 11-14-Starry-1024- sphere

When you think of delicate flowers, which ones come to mind?  And would you think a delicate blossom would have to be small in size?  Time to think again.  This is a wondrous bearded iris after a gentle rain, with petals as delicate as tissue paper.  Can you imagine how soft its golden carpet is  for the bumblebee’s feet?

June 11-Yellow -1024-bearded iris

Six Promises

Can you find all six buds on the water lily?  Six promises of loveliness to come!

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I hope Zip the Chip wasn’t watching, but I had to use the shovel again today.

A yellow swallowtail butterfly flitted through Cedar Hollow a couple days ago.  I’m sure she was searching for a parsley plant which we usually have.  That is her favourite place to lay eggs.  I dug one of the parsleys out that was being overshadowed by a vigorous hosta and planted it in the bed above the pond.  Hopefully, the two of us will be out in the garden at the same time . . . the swallowtail and me . . . and I’ll be able to photograph her.

It’s hard to gauge how fast hostas grow.  Two of the red busy-lizzies edging the back- fence garden were complaining that they were being treated like second-class citizens, and that the hostas were encroaching on their territory!  To settle them down, I moved them to a spot beneath the lilac by the deck that was calling for something bright.

Have you ever picked lettuce that you didn’t plant?  I’ve been pinching leaves off for a couple of weeks now. No, I’m not trespassing in someone else’s garden.  Whatever gave you such a thought?  The seeds just sprouted from last year’s crop in the garden on the wall.

Do let me know if you try this made-in-Ontario recipe:

Mom’s Salad Dressing

Mix in blender and put into double boiler:

2 eggs
2 tblsp. all purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. turmeric
1-1/2 tsp. dry mustard
½ c. cider vinegar
½ c. water

Stir in 1 cup of cane sugar (from Bulk Barn)
Add ½ tblsp. butter
Cook until thick.  Add a little milk before serving if it’s too thick.  Enjoy!

June 9-lettuce-1024- in garden on the wall

 

Keeping an eye on things

Howdy, folks!  I’m Zip the Chip.  Let me tell you, it sure is a job keeping track of things around Cedar Hollow.

June-6 - chip -front-0K size

My biggest beef is that old shovel.  Mrs. McD keeps dragging it out of the shed, and the next thing you know, something’s not where it used to be! I guess you heard that the bachelor buttons got moved a few days ago, and she told you all about her cornflower crystal.

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You see, I really have to map things out mighty carefully.  One never knows when the mangy old cat from across the street will come padding into Cedar Hollow.  I’ve got to have my escape routes all figured out in advance in case she tries to sneak up on me.  Mrs. McD won’t put up with that old bird killer for a minute.  You should hear the loud psssst!! she comes out with whenever she sees it.  It’s enough to scare a dinosaur off the property!  The other day, I overheard her declaring that the next water gun she gets is going to be a POWERFUL one! I’m glad she’s on my side. 

Mr. McD is using the reciprocal saw to cut up the lilac branches that were draping over the side garden.  I guess they were depending on the big tamarack tree to hold them up, but you know what happened to it.  The crock by the fireplace is plum full of twigs! Mrs. McD is planning on using the twigs for kindling.  I heard her wondering what lilac wood would smell like.  Do you have any idea?

June-6-L sawing-1024- lilac branches

As Mrs. McD was heading up the steps with a fan rake to tidy up the mess left from harvesting the lilac branches, Lady Wren alighted on the grass.  She chose an iddy-biddy lilac twig, flew up to the Swiss Chalet, and poked it inside.  I don’t think Mrs. McD raked as thoroughly as she might have after that, but that’s OK. 

Who Is Listening to You?

Oh my!  What’s that big critter in the cage?  It seemed to be sleeping, so we had time for breakfast.

Lloyd placed an old towel over the cage so the masked bandit would remain sleepy.  How heavy he was as Lloyd lugged the caged coon to the car. There was a river and woods not far from the drop-off spot in the countryside.  How large his tail looked as he bounded away and disappeared in the undergrowth.

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Lloyd and I took our morning break on the lawn swing.

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Have you ever sensed that you were being spied on?  Chippy is on tip-toe, gopping at us!

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 It was apparently break time for others as well.   Both mother and father cardinal alighted on the top wooden fence rail within a minute of each other, bearing a light green something-or-other in their beaks.

Meanwhile, energetic Lady Wren filled the June morning with her joyous songs.

Squeak, the Red Squirrel, listened quietly, for a change, from a perch high in the walnut tree while I read aloud the newspaper summary of last night’s TV debate.

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Pollsters ranked NDP’s Andrea Horwath  the highest with her IT MAKES SENSE platform, six points above the Liberals, and eight points higher than the Conservatives.  Who knows what might change with one week of campaigning left?

 

Song of the Wren

Today I finished playing musical plants.  The perennials are now where they’re going to be for this season, and will no longer shake in their boots when they see me clomping along with a shovel in hand.

I must concede that the three Bachelor Buttons moped a bit after they were transplanted, but now seem to have reconciled themselves to their new location in the garden, and are holding their buds up proudly once more.

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Did you know that it is the bachelor button flower (also called cornflower) that is engraved on the cornflower crystal that was so popular when I was married?  I still use this crystal for company, but cornflower crystal is now in the antique shops! Disgusting indeed when it’s obvious I’m such a youthful hostess!

As I was watering last night, I surmised that Lady Wren’s wings were just too tuckered out from a day of nest-building to hoist the last twig all the way inside.  Ever feel like that?

June 1-wren on perch,1024-twig behind her

Take a few moments to listen to the wren songs recorded by Bryan Wells, and watch her at work:

 www.youtube.com/watch?v=W8wjCGQhhRI

Understand now why I’ve been so excited about having Lady Wren move in?

 

 

 

Whistle While You Work!

If we get many more gorgeous days like this, I’ll be plum worn out!  How is it that each spring I end up digging like a badger?  Perennials expand and have to be split up, and some bushes need to be replaced, having succumbed to the coldest winter in 32 years.

Another cause for stomping on the shovel was an article in the paper about a test of two large groups of people, one eating organic foods, and one the other stuff.  There was 89% less pesticide residue in urine samples of those who consumed organic foods.  I decided we needed to incorporate some vegetables into our flower gardens.  This meant yanking out sturdy English Ivy that was entrenched along the house foundation of one of the sidewalk gardens.  That gave room to dig out phlox, daisies and asters and replant them where the ivy had been.  Now there was space to set in some pepper plants and some climbing green beans.

Hostas and perennials were dug out from the other sidewalk garden, labelled in plastic bags, and placed by the curb.  All had been taken to other gardens by neighbourhood green thumbs by the next morning.  A row of bush green beans was sown in the space they vacated!

In the back yard, two tomato plants, more pepper plants, and a row of carrots and swiss chard went in.  Cucumbers and grape tomatoes were planted in a small bed by the back deck.

But all was not drudgery.  Lady Wren put on a heavenly symphony overhead.  Here she is beginning a rhapsody, feathers stiffening on her amazing throat as she reaches with ease the joyous high notes.

Blog-May31-14-1024-tuning up

Don’t you think she is quite pleased with her choice of the Swiss Chalet at McDonalds?

Blog-May 31-14-1024-wren-mineIn between sonatas, she gathered building materials from beneath the garden gate, the daylily bed, the shed roof, and the rhubarb patch.  This female engineer used the perch like a safety belt to steady herself as she hauled in a twig.

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We have lived in this home for 15 years, and this is the first time that a wren has blessed us by moving in.  When I was a kid, I remember how much my mother LOVED the wrens who lived in the apple orchard on the farm.

Meanwhile, several branches above the Swiss Chalet, the Red Squirrel entered his favourite eatery, and enjoyed tiny nutmeats hidden at the base of each wooden scale on a spruce cone.  It is fun to spot bare cobs at the base of some of the forest trees.  Maybe he’s composting them!

May 31-14-Red sq. dining on spruce cob

Found: The Northwest Passage!

Lloyd noticed a jiggling here and there among the flowers by the falls.  Now and then, we saw just the head of the chipmunk rise above the flowers, as though he was standing on tiptoe.  What was he up to?

Ah!  He found The Northwest Passage!  There he was . . . slaking his thirst from a secret passageway in the rocks!

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Who should appear in the entryway of Cedar Shake of the Black Pole but the fledgling chickadee?

Now don’t call me a Momma’s boy, he seemed to say.  Can’t a buddy pop back home now and then for a suntan on the balcony?  There’s no place like home!

Blog-May_25-14-1024-fledgling back home

 

Off-the-Ground Perches

John came over to help us dig out the purple smoke bush which had winter-killed.  Whenever he sat on the lawn swing, something bugged him.  A winter ice storm had broken a branch on the black walnut tree, and it dangled menacingly above the path that runs behind our fence.  John climbed a ladder into the tree and stood on a big limb.  However, from this sturdy perch in the walnut tree, he was unable to sever the vertical danger with the branch-lopper gizmo.  Not to be beat, he lassoed the offending branch, descended to the ground, and pulled on the rope for all he was worth until it snapped off!

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Today was one of the loveliest days this spring!  John took a break from working on our website to join us on the back deck for some lemon-iced tea.  A recently fledged chickadee alighted on top of the shepherd’s crook which holds the hummingbird feeder.  Hanging onto the metal perch for dear life, glancing back and forth, soon his mother brought some fast food on the wing. Gulp! Looking like his feet would slip any moment, he clung on awkwardly while we could scarcely take our eyes off of him, sure he would lose his grip.  Zoom!  Back he flew into his Cedar Shake home!  This big old world was just too much for him.

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Had Princess Hummer been watching all of this?

What’s so special about this curved perch anyway?  Better check it out.  I might be missing something, she said.

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 Meanwhile, Lady Wren’s curiosity got the best of her.  She just had to check out Swiss Chalet on Black Walnut Lane which John put on the market a few hours earlier.  Standing on the tiny perch, you could almost hear her musing:  Would this offer more privacy than Château de la Gourde?  I’m sure it would be cooler when the leaves come out.

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Wanting to let the zephyr breezes in , Lloyd and his 57-day old left knee carefully mounted a sturdy kitchen ladder.   (His old right knee went along, too.)  From this aluminum perch, using a drill, he removed the screws from the frame holding the heavy glass storm door in place, which John lifted down and stored away

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Walnut perches, both large and tiny, wrought iron perch round and smooth, aluminum four-legged perch . . .  each stayed firmly and dependably in place while trod upon by young and old – human and winged – enabling them to carry out their tasks on this delightful day of blue sky and cotton-batting clouds!    

We’re selling like hot cakes!

Sunday afternoon was spent dealing in real estate.  We were holding the mortgages, and offered 0% interest. The market was sizzling!

Our first sale was to Mother Chickadee who bought the Cedar Shake house on Black Pole Lane.

Chicadee tenant-1024-May 18-14

The next purchaser was a petite opera singer, who chose an exclusive property with designer-fashion lines, no less, called Château de la Gourde. 

Wren looking - gourd-1024-May 18-14

Mother Wren must have pre-booked the movers, unbeknownst to us.  Before we knew it, she was hauling in a snow-white bassinet!  Oh yes, the interior colour scheme must reflect that of the exterior.  This was one high-class lady, folks!

Wren -977-nest mat.-May 18-14

Another purchaser had signed on the dotted line a few days earlier for a lot in Whispering Cedars.  She was making a chipping sound from within the deep recesses of the home she was constructing.  We forgot to check whether she had a building permit, but I’m sure her husband had taken care of those papers.  He was one handsome dude, and sported a suit jacket of shocking red!

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Meanwhile, a fierce rousting-out was going on around the red drive-in restaurant on our property, and it wasn’t even listed with MLS!  I’m hoping the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird wins the competition with its plainer relative.  From our seats on the lawn swing, we kept good and clear of the pointy bills that were definitely exceeding the speed limit as they cruised past.  Yes, Sir, spring sure is the time to sell property!

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Horrors!  Mr. Gold Finch alighted on top of Château de la Gourde!  Quick!   Where’s that SOLD sign?   The House Wren has already signed the Offer to Purchase, and we’ve accepted it!!

What’s on the horizon?

The answer:  An oil painting (by commission) of penguins in beautiful Antarctica!

It was the best wool hat you could imagine!  That’s what the roses said of the HUGE blanket of snow that sheltered them from winter’s fierce cold.  Usually there is quite a bit of dead wood to be pruned off the end of the canes every spring.  Not this year.  The whole stalk on every rose bush was green!

 

Since painting “Beside the Still Waters,” I have been totally occupied uploading two books that I wrote about our Bonaire experience titled On That Little Dutch Isle – Part I and Part II.  I’ll let you know in the BOOKS ‘N STUFF column on our website as soon as they become available.

Lloyd underwent a total left knee replacement the end of March and has needed my assistance.  I am proud of his persistent effort to persevere through the painful exercises.  They began on his first day home from the hospital, and will need to be carried on for a few more weeks yet.  Just yesterday he began trying to walk around the house without a cane!

Day 27, 1024-Apr.24-14The studio is much more spacious since we sold the framing equipment.  I’m eager to pick up the paint brushes once again, and enjoy working under the natural light there.

 

How far can you count?

After the pre-Christmas ice storm, I opened our side door  to take the mail in.  The pointed evergreen that sticks six feet above a neighbour’s roof caught my eye.  It was bedecked with stars!!  It really was!  I ran inside for the camera.  The afternoon sun caused each icy tip of the spruce to twinkle brilliantly like a star!  What a sight!

'Lighted' tree-Dec.24-13

A few years ago, Lloyd built a yard-high star and outlined it with a rope of white lights.  From atop the miniature pear tree, it beamed its reminder to passersby at Christmas that it was a star in the heavens many years ago that informed wise men in the East of the birth of a Jewish king. They knew from this special star that He was none other than God incarnate.  We read that when they finally arrived after a long journey, they “worshipped Him.”

One of the greatest understatements in all of literature is found on the first page of the Bible in the sixteenth verse: “He made the stars also.”

Today we are constantly learning that the Hubble telescope and other such instruments are still finding galaxy after galaxy that they hadn’t seen before.

Can you grasp the wonder of Psalm 147:4?  “He telleth the number of the stars; He calleth them all by their names.”

How many names can you come up with?

 

Incredible Timing

With the first light snowfall on Friday, the Canada Goose who had taken up residence temporarily in our basement, declared that the snow was his cue to head south!  He wished his cohorts a Merry Christmas, not expecting to return until March 1st.

I was up at 4:00 this morning to see John off. He was driven to the Toronto airport by a fellow Grand River Transit operator, Chris. You have probably guessed by his wonderful countenance that Chris is also a Christian.

John  en route airport -1024-Nov9-13

About a year ago, John began planning this epic vacation.  He stacked the 2013 and 2014 vacations back to back, worked statutory holidays, etc., to pull together a four-month stretch of vacation.  His goal:  To take courses on Bonaire in order to become a certified scuba diving instructor.  As you realize, John’s childhood spent on Bonaire, Caribbean Netherlands, introduced him to the WONDERS OF THE SEA, and he fell completely in love with it.

In preparation for the upcoming three-month course, John took in-the-lake and on-land instruction this summer, studied several challenging manuals, and completed tests online.  He hopes to finish the reading material while in flight today. When he takes early retirement in about ten years, John wants to utilize the scuba diving instructor skills to finance future vacations and see the world.

What could not have been planned were events unknown one year ago.

John rented out his condo from October 1st until the end of February, and came to live with us for October until today.  When I was scheduled for surgery to remove my thyroid on October 31st, John was here to help out, which was truly a godsend.  His benefit package allows one week per year to help family members if a medical need arises.  My recovery has been going along very well, and I have been thoroughly enjoying the pampering by my menfolk!

Just as John completed his scuba studies online on his computer in the basement, I realized what a perfect opportunity was now available to use his computer’s InDesign program to input a book about our Bonaire experience which I’ve been working on.  It would be too expensive for me to buy such a program, and my aging computer would not have the gumption to handle it anyway.  John had me watch tutorials yesterday, and then sat down last night to coach me . . . and now the project is underway!  I was able to input the first three chapters this morning.

John also joined his Dad as the two of them carried out chimney sweep work!

Chimney Sw-crop-1024-Nov4-13 During the past week, John patiently coached his Dad, and enabled him to now post his own Bible studies and link them on the Internet for his website ministry at: closerlook.ca.  John has previously done this work for his Dad.

Who could have arranged ahead of time, with precision, the blessings of these past five weeks?

Our Wannabe Clock

I have heard it said that native North American Indians find it strange that the white man has to look at his clock or wristwatch to know whether he is hungry or not!

The faithful timepiece in the garden has proven very helpful whenever we’re working or relaxing outdoors.

Giant daisies & clock-1024--Aug.30-13

Have you ever heard of . . . or seen . . . a wannabe clock?

We have one growing just outside the back gate!  Let me describe it for you:

–       It’s about 40 feet tall.  We can’t bring it indoors.

–       The main part of the clock is at least 12 inches across.

–       It has a deeply furrowed grey-black finish.

–       The pendulum is composed of 15–23 green pieces, all paper-thin.

–       Whenever there is the slightest breeze, the pendulum rhythmically swings back and forth.

–       It is absolutely silent – no tick tock.

–       Although the pendulum is rather unpredictable, this particular clock has no face.  It just enjoys keeping time!

To help you see it better, I put a dab of white-out on the bottom points of the pendulum.  Can you see the pendulum  swung to the left?

Pendulum to the left-1024

Now it has swung to the right:  (See the white tips?)

Pendulum to the right-1024

Yes, our Wannabe Clock is a black walnut tree!!

Time is such a precious commodity.  Mornings find me in the studio, which often stretch into the afternoon, bringing more pink roses, their leaves and buds, to life on the canvas of Beside the Still Waters.

Did you know that in the future, a very powerful angel, with one foot on the land and one foot on the sea, will declare:

 “…that there should be time no longer.”  Revelation 10:6.

What then?

How’s Your Throat?

Every time I mention streptocarpcus, the blue flowers hanging on the wall by our front door, Lloyd hears the “strep” part, and often retorts:    “It sounds like some disease.”  We have all heard of strep throats, and how sore they are.

This elegant plant comes in a fantastic variety of colours, but somehow I have only found the heavenly blue ones.  I was delighted and surprised this week to see the hummingbird sipping from the slender throats of the dangling blossoms.  It seems that hummingbirds are attracted to flowers with nectar-filled throats . . . even if they are not the touted colour of red!

Streptocarpus-1024-Sept

The white throat of one of our hostas is scented like lily of the valley.  (Its botanical name is Tetraploid sport of plantaginea.) It had been in our back yard for a few years, but refused to bloom.  I moved a piece of it to the sidewalk garden to fill in a vacant space caused by a pesky rabbit who had chomped off everything in sight.  The lily-like hosta approved of its sunnier location, and now has pushed up several stalks loaded with buds which elongate by the day.  Can you tell me Who fills their throats with this wondrous scent?

Hosta lily, 1024-fragrant-Sept

Bumblebees disappear from sight as they fly into the brown-striped throats of yellow allamanda blossoms, and then wriggle their way back out, and zoom away.

Allamanda-1024Sept

It’s September, and it’s time to care for our own throats.  I’m going to practise the nightly ritual of gargling with warm salt water before retiring for bed.  My friend claims it will prevent getting a sore throat, the precursor to the common cold.

Today I’m imagining the fragrance of roses . . . as I begin painting luscious pink blooms onto a mass of shrub roses bordering a quiet river in PEI.  The painting will be titled, “Beside the still waters.”  Six sheep are quietly grazing on the far bank.