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.
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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.
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I love all the little mushrooms growing on the sides of this fallen tree.
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It looks magical and mysterious to me!
Although the day was rather gray, we enjoyed exploring the grounds.
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WTF??
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.
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Bon Echo Mike
The small cabin he lived in no longer stands, but the fireplace is still there.
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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.
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This fascinates me.
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Any time I see cedars growing from the sides of rock, now, I wonder if they could also be that old. It seems plausible.
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Nothing like a hidden treasure trove to spark interest!
The cliffs are magnificent.
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...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).

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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.
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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.
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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!
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On the nice days, it was great to get Mom out to the gazebo!
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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.
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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.
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On our last (very rainy) day there, the wee bunny felt safe enough to come out for a nosh.

Monday, 30 June 2014

Flowers everywhere!

I went to the cottage on my own, on Friday. The plumbers were coming to install an iron filter (which seems to be working nicely, and I hope it continues to do so).
The day was hot and still. It was almost eerie, how quiet the day was. This was the first time in years – longer than I can recall, actually – that I was at the cottage entirely on my own.
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Our one resident rabbit was on the move.
The roses at the old place are in full bloom. I love their deep pink colour.
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They are at their height, here.
Lots of bees!
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They get right in there.
I sat in my “happy place” for a few minutes, just enjoying the view. The wind had picked up a bit by then, so the breeze kept me cool and took away most of the bugs.
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The steps go down to the water at the deck's edge. Before the wooden ones were built, there were rocks inset. The wood is starting to rot a bit and we may have to go back to using rocks!
We had a mess of wings on Saturday night for dinner. We’d worked hard during the day, painting the gazebo in preparation for putting on its new roof.

I can’t adequately describe for you how mouth-wateringly good these were. I don’t know what Iain puts in his sauces, so no requests for the recipe, please!
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Le Chef.
It just wasn’t possible to get a decent picture of our flying squirrel family without use of a flash, so I broke down and took one with it. Sorry, big-eyed-night-seeing rodents.
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Mom and two babies.
On Sunday, the paint was dry enough that we could put on the new canopy. We purchased it online, through Garden Winds Canada. They are supplied out of the U.S. but the roof shipped to us from the Canadian site. It fit perfectly, and seems to be of a very resilient material. The hooks to hold it on were place a bit short of the mark, so Iain had to bend the ends a bit with pliers to make them stay on, but that was the only problem. We bought this in 2008, so the old one lasted 5 seasons: we’re hoping this one is good for that long.
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It looks almost new!
 
The cottage is surrounded by daisies, in glorious abundance! I love wildflowers.
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Monday, 16 June 2014

Wildlife, not Wild Life

Our lives are pretty quiet: we get very excited over little creatures showing up at our place.
Our familiar groundhog, Nibbles, has vacated the premises for the summer (too many dogs around, possibly). In her departure she left behind at Dodie’s cottage a group of five little groundhogs. All adorable!
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One of the Nibblets
Seeing a young spotted fawn is pretty exciting, too. There were reports of a newborn a few weeks ago, and I think this may be the same one (they do need to grow very quickly to survive).

We were awoken from sleep on Saturday night by a coyote howling nearby (probably just across the bay). It was answered by howls from far off. We can't help but worry about this little guy, but that's Nature.
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Deer must be the source of the saying "high-tailing it".
There is a family of flying squirrels (a mom and two little ones) nesting in our shed. They are quite camera shy, unfortunately.

The area is also overrun by at least 4 chipmunks and 2 squirrels - all of whom are tame enough to not bother getting out from under foot when you walk by - and one very handsome rabbit, who sat and regarded us quite calmly, yesterday, before slowly hopping away. Carl remarked that the place is like being in a Disney movie.

I was surprised last Monday morning to see a groundhog looking for a home, outside our basement window. Snaps was surprised too!
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Thursday, 12 June 2014

A Few Hours at the Museum

The thing with summer is, it’s so short, and so busy, one doesn’t blog as often as during the long, bleak winter. So here is a brief update:

Iain and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary on June 3, and to mark the occasion we spent a day in Ottawa with friends, touring the Royal Canadian Mint and the War Museum, dining out, and just enjoying the day and evening. It was a lot of fun! I have a few pictures from the War Museum to share (no photos allowed at the Mint, so I left my camera in the car).

The museum covers the history of war involving Canada from before the country’s beginnings, including first nations artifacts. I don’t know if these items are preserved originals or reproductions.

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Good grief, hockey players wear more armour than this!
Like most Canadians, I find the War of 1812 very interesting, but I didn’t get a picture of Sir Isaac Brock’s uniform (if you haven’t seen it, check it out here ). Brock represents for me the quintessential Canadian hero: one who dies and achieves greatest recognition after death. That bullet hole has always haunted me.

This WW1 gas mask creeped me out a bit.
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Rather reminds me of a Far Side cartoon: "Oooooooo".
A very blurry pic of Iain in the trenches. I used the “museum” setting on the camera, so this low-light shot, and many others, were somewhat out of focus.
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Not often you see someone happy to be in the trenches.
A little boy’s letter to his dad at war, and the memento his father carried. Any Downton Abbey fans out there may be reminded of Mary’s gift to Matthew.

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No trip to the museum would be complete without Hitler’s Car. I was reprimanded by a guard for touching said car, years ago at the old museum. The sign clearly stated “PLEASE DO NOT TOUCH THE EXHIBIT” but I was strangely compelled to do it anyway: I had to connect with that old evil, it seemed.

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The new museum has put the car safely out of reach - I don't think Shaquille O'Neil could touch it.
There is way too much to see at the museum in a few hours. I could easily spend a full day there.
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The mannequin in the display seems to be checking out my picture-taking.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Bird Counting, Victoria Day Weekend

It was certainly a good weekend for it; hardly a drop of rain, not a lot of bugs (yet), and quiet enough to be able to hear the birds singing!  We saw and/or heard a large variety (by “we” I mean Dodie, Myles, and I, at different times); our total for the weekend was 42 species.  I so wish I had a picture of the Black-Backed Woodpecker we saw; it was a first-time sighting for me, and I didn’t have my camera with me.

The Mergansers dropped by to say hello.
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As soon as I got out the camera, they started to turn away. Camera shy?
There is lots of power in those wings.
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I should have had the setting on a higher shutter speed.
We counted more Robins than anything else (19). They seemed to be everywhere.
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Om nom nom...
The Blue Jays were at the feeders, of course.
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Love the little dangling feet!
I was pleased to see several Veerys. They are friendly little birds.
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He flew in for this closeup.
Iain got a picture of the Beaver dragging a stick around.
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I really wish he'd go to another lake - he makes such a mess.
And Nibbles came by for a snack.
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If he would only content himself with the clover and weeds, and leave my Purple Liatris alone!
The wee Bunny is still living around there somewhere, too.
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He came to the patio door again, too. He must see his reflection.
Aside from this, the usual assortment of Squirrels and Chipmunks kept the feeders empty!

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

A weekend

A wee visit to Mom’s place to do a bit of set-up in the back yard and to visit with her and Kyle. They have both been very busy already, so there wasn’t a lot to do; but we did hang out all the chimes and bird feeders, and set up the patio furniture. Iain expanded the patio area a bit.

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Relaxing after a bit of work. Iain got some digging done, while I did the easy stuff.
 We don’t get to see them as often as we should. Life is TOO BUSY, for them and for us!

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We are so thankful that these two have each other to rely on!
Sunday afternoon we made a quick trip to the lake, thinking we should set up the gazebo, as the blackflies are on their way and it will be the only place to sit outside in any kind of comfort. Sadly, the roof has ripped in several places (which we discovered as we tried to hang it). It is six years old, and has been outside all summer each year, so I guess this is understandable.

So, we did a quick fix with the ever-useful duct tape. Not sure how long this will hold (in fact, with all the rain we received Monday and Tuesday, I won’t be surprised if it is off), but it’s the best we can do until a new one arrives, probably in June.
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Yuck. I don't want to have to look at this for very long.

The flowers are blooming at the cottage!
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Daffy-dills!
On the way home we spotted some Mennonites who live in the Renfrew area. At first I thought it was just someone with a team of horses out for a tour, so I took a picture through the windshield. It was only as they approached that I realized they were all dressed in black. I put my camera away quickly, as I’m sure they don’t like being treated as photographable oddities (although, if you look considerably different from the average person, and you are doing it on purpose, you should probably accept that you are going to be an object of curiosity). I was really going for a picture of the horses, anyway.
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A nice team!

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Can spring finally be here?

It’s starting to feel a bit warmer, it’s raining more often than it snows – yes, I think it’s here!

Every morning, Jezebel comes to the door to watch Iain leaving for work. I don’t know if she just wants to escape outside now that it’s spring, or if she is missing having his lap to curl up on every day (as she did for the last year when he was out of work).
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Our adorable girl.
This was a sight for sore eyes last weekend. So good to get back to the lake. It’s where we really want to be, all of the time. We’re fond of saying that if we had high-speed internet there, we’d probably just live there.
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The snow is going!
The main road is bare, but the sideroads by the lake are still snow-packed.
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At least now you don't fall through the crust every second step.
We saw what looked like racoon tracks. We aren’t really woodsmen, however, so we might be wrong.
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Raccoon? Skunk?
The ice is just beginning to recede near the shore where the water is flowing.
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It never really freezes solid here - too much water action.
Most of the lake is quite solid as yet, though slushy on top.
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I'm hoping it will look at bit different next time we are there.
Moose and deer tracks on the road across the field.
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We don't often see moose around the lake.
And we saw a gull! I believe this is the earliest I have seen one on the lake, as yet.
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So wish I'd had my telephoto lens handy!