Monday, 1 December 2014

November endeth

With the cold weather and the addition of good seed to our finch feeder, we’ve noticed more birds in general. The dining room window is the perfect spot to keep an eye on them!
Eyeing up the tragically flawed cat feeder.
We had to make one short trip to the cottage to offload some laundry and a bunch of building materials cluttering up the basement. Not much “buildy” stuff gets used at home. The basement is a small space to work in and cold as anything in the winter!
You can see all the small branches that have fallen.
We found a lot of branches down, but the only big ones were from the dead tamarack.
The bay, mostly frozen.
A lot of the lake is lightly frozen, but there are gaps at the edges.
Wah! My tree! Gonna miss it.
Yep, the top of the tamarack blew off! About the top six feet or so. I sure hope we get it cut down at New Years as planned.
When it fell, it just shattered to pieces.
It must have been quite a wind, as the top of the tree landed at least 40 feet away.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

A November Update

The cottage is all closed up for another year. We actually closed it up the weekend after Thanksgiving – it was easier to just have it done.
It was a dreary day when we shut things down; we still hated to leave.
And now November is upon us: in fact, today is the 15th, which means half the month has slipped away already. We have most of the yard work done, and probably that is all we will do, lazy souls that we are. Hopefully it will be alright.
When cleaning out the mess around one of the rose bushes I discovered this vine, which I believe is Climbing Nightshade. It’s a weed – I’ll have to take it out in the spring; but look how pretty the berries are! Not good to eat, though.
It would have little purple flowers in the summer.
We have put out two feeders, one with a niger mix and one with sunflower seeds. The mix has been very popular with the goldfinches: it is made by Scott, and though a bit pricey is worth the money, as it attracts plenty of birds.
Stitches keeps an eye on what Wendy would have described as the “tragically flawed cat feeder”.
The birds flew away when I took the picture, natch.
Today a Chickadee had the feeder to himself for a while, but there are usually 3 or 4 Goldfinches on it. We’ve also had some Juncos.
The little sticks are improvised perches; the darn squirrel keeps breaking off the plastic ones.
Onyx has been lively and happy for the most part, but he has, in the last year, been grooming excessively on his stomach, and now on his legs as well. The vet had an explanation for it which involved the use of steroids as a possible cure, but we decided that unless he became  aggressive in his grooming (to the point of doing damage to his skin) we would just let him be.
Tongue out to lick!
Any spot he can’t reach is thick and soft.
This time last year, he was just starting to work on his belly, but he keeps making more bare spots.
You can see how bare his legs look in this picture. He still runs and plays, and attacks Snaps when he wants a tussle, and eats well. We have put all of the cats on a grain-free diet to see if it helps. We were, up until recently, using a grain-based litter, and until all of it is gone we won’t see if this makes any improvement. Here’s hoping.
My spare time – when I’m not goofing off on the computer like this – will go to baking, for the next month: first, baking for the church sale, and then baking for Christmas. Busy times. The snow is falling right now, and there will probably be some accumulation when we get up tomorrow. This should bring on the Christmas mood!

Tuesday, 14 October 2014


The cottage year is winding down. Thanksgiving usually marks the last full weekend at the lake for everyone. Most of us shut down the water and close our places up soon after.
Iain enjoying the sunset while barbecuing dinner.
We were blessed with warm weather and no rain (none of the s-word, either).
Sheila came to visit!
It was nice to have company for the weekend! Thanksgiving isn’t the same without family. Not everyone could be there, unfortunately, but we were happy to have those who could come. We ate tons of food and visited. I was too busy enjoying myself to take pictures, but you must trust me when I say the meal was amazing. Dodie and Myles roasted the turkey (Mom supplied it) and stuffing, made cabbage salad and cranberry sauce, and made awesome gravy! Iain made bacon-wrapped stuffed mushroom caps, mashed turnips and sliced carrots. I helped a bit and made peas. Sheila brought yummy buns. Janet whipped up some great potatoes, Brian brought tomato juice, and Carolyn provided us with TWO pies, one a deep-dish pumpkin and the other an amazing apple!
I took this pic with my phone, so it isn't the best quality, but just LOOK at the autumn leaves crust!
We were so stuffed, but we sat down to the same meal of leftovers on Monday before going home!
Mom enjoys sitting in the sun with a magazine or puzzle book.
Mom has had a pretty good summer with us. Since Dodie and Myles were at the lake so often, she spent more time there this year than she had for the last several.
There was hardly room for the Blue Jay to fit on the feeder, but he managed it.
Between the birds and the squirrel and chipmunks, we couldn’t keep the feeder full.

My favourite view!
At the narrows.
The Little Lake.
This oak gets more beautiful each year.
Still and lovely.
The colours were less than spectacular this fall, and many of the trees were past their best by this weekend, anyway, but the views were still wonderful.
Hitching a ride.
We encountered a red dragonfly which appeared to be cold and seemed to be having trouble drying out its wings. Iain picked it up and it perched on his thumb, tilting its wings down so they wouldn’t catch the draft as we walked along. After a few minutes it suddenly took flight, finally warmed and dry enough.
Now grow, dammit!
We finally got around to transplanting another tree, which we hope will survive the winter. We are told the fall is the best time for this, so I hope this little guy can make it. This one is a Quaking Aspen, and I wouldn’t mind getting a Big-Tooth Aspen and a Swamp Willow as well. Iain is interested in an Olive tree, and we’d both like a Cottonwood (not sure if one could survive in this soil, though – the sand seems most suited for poplars, willows, pine, birch, and tamarack).
Next weekend will be busy with putting away lawn furniture, chimes, and ornaments, and putting some plants to bed. Then the water shut-off, and good-bye to the lake for a while. We are thankful to have had another year to enjoy here.

Friday, 3 October 2014

Fall is coming on

Time to do a bit of clean-up. Iain enlisted Roger’s and Myles’ help to take a large branch off the old birch, which seems to be dying by inches Sad smile
This tree has been around since I was a kid. My Dad put a chain on the two trunks to keep them from separating, and that chain is now grown fully into the trees.
Thank goodness for a long ladder!
We are only taking off the fully-dead branch which leans toward the cottage. I’m hoping the rest of the tree comes back next year, but the tree has been getting sparser for the last 10 years, and may be approaching its end.
We have a small tree I haven’t identified as yet growing behind the cottage. I think it is some member of the apple family, but that’s about all I can get from it as yet.
We found two interesting caterpillars feeding on this tree. This one is, I think, a Clymene Moth.
And this one is definitely a Red-Humped Caterpillar Moth larva.

Friday, 12 September 2014

Tearing down, again.

Iain has been itching to take down the ceiling in the old cottage, for several reasons; he wants to expose the old water pipes (to remove them) and the wiring (to remove/repair), and he and I are both interested in repairing around the stove pipe where the rain leaks in.

Because the ceiling is full of vermiculite insulation, we put a plastic wall up to keep it all in the kitchen.
My Dad put this up long, long ago.
I tried to get a picture of the fungus growing down from the ceiling, but it came out a bit blurry. See those brown spots? Fungus. With spores. Yuck.
This is what happens when you ignore a situation.
We wore dust masks and still had some coughing fits! As we pulled the ceiling down, we occasionally ran outside to escape the dust. One can only hold one’s breath for so long. Having the big fan to blow it outside certainly helped. Sometimes the dust was so thick as to almost resemble smoke.

We found pink insulation, pine needles, cones – lots of squirrel-nest material, fortunately long-abandoned.

The vermiculite packed two garbage bags, and there was all the tintest and strapping to go to the dump as well. I hope the tintest didn’t have any asbestos in it – we had tested the vermiculite insulation, but I only found out recently that some tintest had asbestos as well.
Et voila! Iain is vacuuming up the bits we couldn’t sweep out. See the dust on the counter? That was everywhere.
Sorry about the angle of the shot...
We did find some leaks around the stove pipe, so we will inspect our patch job next time we are up to see if it has done the trick! I like the look of the exposed boards, but we will have to put up something to insulate it if we want to use the place at all in the heat of summer.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Having a happy birthday was easy!

Being spoiled always is!
Iain loves to cook, and he decided to make homemade ravioli with his own tomato sauce. He also made meatballs for those in the crowd who didn’t want pasta.
Iain 00_00_00-00_00_10
He’s always happiest in the kitchen!
He had help from Irene, who also made the Caesar salad I’d requested! And Dodie supplied dessert – New York style cheesecake with raspberry and chocolate sauces. To DIE for.

Discussing the plan of attack.
Words cannot describe how wonderful these were. I’ve never eaten better, anywhere!

Imagine them smothered in a delicious tomato sauce....

I was spoiled on my birthday, alright!

Monday, 25 August 2014

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

July is always the fastest month of the year. Always. That’s my excuse for not blogging for ages and ages. I look back at my calendar, and find nothing written in anywhere, but I know stuff happened that kept me busy. Really, really busy.
Onyx napping.
Some of us pretty well slept the month away, but that’s not unusual.
Honestly, this is the only picture I have to show you from July. Onyx sleeping. That’s it.
August however, saw Iain and me taking holidays, and heading to Bon Echo Provincial Park for a few days with the usual gang. It is a beautiful place. One of the walks we took led past a lovely swamp area.
I love all the little mushrooms growing on the sides of this fallen tree.
It looks magical and mysterious to me!
Although the day was rather gray, we enjoyed exploring the grounds.
There are plaques in many places throughout the park, like the one below which recounts the history of one of the characters who played a big role in the days before the area was given to the government by the former owners.
Bon Echo Mike
The small cabin he lived in no longer stands, but the fireplace is still there.
There wasn't any info pointing to this old chimney. We could see where the plaque used to be mounted on it, and conjectured, from the bits of stuff recently burned in the fireplace, that the administrators found it best to not draw attention to it.
The museum there features the cedars that live for over a thousand years on the cliffs of Bon Echo.
This fascinates me.

Any time I see cedars growing from the sides of rock, now, I wonder if they could also be that old. It seems plausible.
Nothing like a hidden treasure trove to spark interest!
The cliffs are magnificent.
...and the lake itself is over 400 feet deep. They say no one has ever seen the bottom of it (and lived, I'm guessing).

The size of these cliffs can be appreciated if you note the canoe at the base of them.
An interesting thing I didn’t know about: they have available for rent a “cabin in the woods”. I don’t think it has running water, but would be a good spot to stay if you want a rustic experience and don’t enjoy tenting or RV-ing.
People are asked to not approach this building. You can, however, peek at it through the trees.
We spent the rest of our holidays alternating between relaxing times and working on projects. Iain lent a hand to the job of raising Dodie’s cottage.
Iain and Carl guiding a beam.
It’s a huge job with an extended completion date, as it has to be done very delicately!
Iain put a new roof on the swing, made from the same steel that is on the cottage roof. I don’t have a picture of the completed project because the sun refused to shine on the days after he completed it, but this gives you an idea of how nice it will be!
On the nice days, it was great to get Mom out to the gazebo!
She's a sweetie!
We had all the cats up and staying at the old cottage for most of our holidays, just to save on trips to Renfrew. Jezebel and Onyx really enjoyed themselves, and we’ll definitely want to bring them up again next summer if we can. The other two, not so much. Stitches slept under the covers on one of the beds most of the time (she does that at home, too), and Snaps was, from what we saw, in a constant state of fear the whole time.
Jezebel was very relaxed when outside, except when she decided to explore under the old cottage. Onyx was out for a while too, but I wasn't with him at the time, only Iain was there, so no picture. We kept a close eye on them both, but they were quite well-behaved.
I was worried that we would have some deceased chipmunks, as they tend to use the old cottage as a thoroughfare, now, but I needn’t have been. Jez made some attempts to catch them, but without success, as did Onyx; but the wee rodents tended to make their moves when the cats were being fed, and our kitties are not easily distracted from their dinners. Smart rodents.
On our last (very rainy) day there, the wee bunny felt safe enough to come out for a nosh.