Sunday 26 April 2020

Before the wind blew

The sun is shining on this Sunday afternoon and the wind is a'blowing with gusts anywhere from 20-70 km/h (12-43 mph). This wasn't unexpected so I decided to walk earlier this morning. I'm grateful there is a great walking paths nearby and especially grateful for the wildlife that show themselves to me as I walk.

These two headed my way as other walkers were headed their way so they were caught in the middle. I'm sure they were wishing we'd all go away!
I walked over to the creek hoping to find some red-winged black birds.  The city has obviously cleared the banks and removed all the plants that were there.  It is very disappointing as the birds won't have places to hid their nests or the reeds to sit and sing from. 
This bunny was keeping an eye on me as I skirted past him.  

I heard this gull before he flew over me. (I won't tell you what my brother calls them, it isn't polite)

Why did the goose cross the road?  Well, based on these next few photos it was all because of a female.  She stayed on the shore and let the guys duke it out.

I've never seen these ducks before; I believe they are canvasbacks based on my internet search. I've sent the photo to my brother for confirmation. He was a conservation officer before he went into policing.  
Along the way there were a number of pairs relaxing in the sun.  These two didn't even budge as I walked by.
Finally, what a difference a week makes.  Last week the pond was still mostly covered in ice.  Not today!
There didn't seem to be as many birds around either, but our local man-made lake a few kilometres away is likely open as well. Hmmm...maybe it's time for a walk around the lake!

Take care and stay well everyone!

Saturday 25 April 2020

Week 6 - Light at the end of the tunnel?

Another week of near isolation is over and it appears there may be some loosening of restrictions here soon.  In Saskatchewan, we've had less than 350 cases and only 4 deaths (thank goodness) so our provincial government has decided to let things go back to semi-normal.  There is a five stage plan, but only stage 1 and 2 have actual dates assigned, the other three stages will be determined depending on well or how poorly the first two stages go.  The first stage will start on May 4 with the opening of medical services such as optometrists, occupational therapy, dentists and such. Boating and fishing will be allowed too, although only family members living in the same household will be permitted to do these activities together.  Assuming all goes well, by May 19 retail stores will allowed to re-open but again with significant restrictions.  We've been truly fortunate as none of our long term care homes have been affected though I am concerned that at least two of our indigenous communities have recently announced several cases.  Those communities could be hard hit if as this continues.

Based on Thursday's announcement, and a conversation my son had with his boss, I'm thinking he'll be back to work on May 19 as well or at least that's the expectation. I do believe management will bring most staff back slowly but C works in an area that provides general services to the other divisions so he's more likely to be needed.  While I'll be happy to have my time to myself, I do worry this might be a bit early. 

Another relaxation of the restrictions is that we can have contact with one other household.  I've made plans to drive out to visit D and Eli on Mother's Day, May 10.  We'll still maintain social distancing, so no hugs from her though we're pretty sure Eli won't follow the rules.  I'll wear my mask, as will D, we'll wash our hands frequently and I'll change out of my clothes when I get home.  I won't stay the night but will drive out early in the day and come home around dinner time.  Unless it's raining, I won't be surprised if we spend most of the day outdoors in her yard.  Eli loves the outside as he calls it, and there's lot of room for us to visit while he plays.

On a totally different note, and a happy one too, this week I received a parcel in the mail.  I follow Connie's blog at Far Side of FiftyEach spring she has a contest for her readers to guess when the snow will be gone from the snow stick in her yard.  I made a educated wild guess of April 2 and it turned out I, along with another reader, was right!  We each received a prize for the correct guess.  

Connie and her husband create hand carved wooden items, and I was hoping that the prize be one of those.  I was not disappointed at all, as the prize included a little fairy house, as well as two scrubbies and some lovely note cards.  All hand-made by Connie!  She's a prolific crocheter creating afghans, shawls, and baby blankets as well.  She's definitely an artist.

I did a bit of sewing and some crocheting and knitting as well this week.  When I went grocery shopping on Monday I used a scarf as a mask but decided after seeing several blogs mentioning hand made masks to give it try.  My first attempt ended up in the garbage.  I used elastic but found it wouldn't stay on my ears.  So I poked through my stash of sewing notions and found some bias tape to use as ties. Since then I've made another couple of masks, one for my daughter, and another to have as a spare. 

The weather has been absolutely gorgeous so I've been spending my afternoons in the sun room.  I used some of that time to finish a UFO (unfinished object).  It's the infinity scarf I started ...let's just say months ago! Obviously I'm not wearing the appropriate top but you get the picture.  AND yes, I need a haircut in the worst way!  Thankfully I'm not the only one.
This was my view as I relaxed on the little love seat in the sun room.  

Friday, the clouds came scudding in, but it wasn't raining so I got into the front yard to do some clean up.  I swept up the patio and driveway of needles and pine cones from the spruce tree. I got down on my hands and knees and cleaned up the front flower of debris, clipping off the dead leaves and stems of the perennials, and put down fresh mulch.  I leave the perennials through the winter for the bugs.  There were dozens of dead lady bugs and a few live ones too.  The latter I moved under the mulch as best I could.  Once everything was cleaned up, I brought out the patio furniture - just a small table and two chairs.  Of course, I had to test it out and so sat and enjoyed the fresh air and the bird song around me.

Today was another lovely day, so I'm posting this in the evening.  About mid-morning I headed outdoors to clean out the large shed in the back yard in preparation of having it removed. My brother has the week of May 4th off and will be taking it apart and moving it out to the farm. My niece L has all sorts of plans for it, as it will become her "she-shed" and art studio.  I'm grateful that it won't be sent to the dump.  

This photo was taken back in June 2011, just about a year after we moved into the house.   I kept extra pots, the lawn mower, hoses, garden tools, and so forth in it.  Everything except the lawn mower has been moved to the little play house shed. I'm not sure what I'll do with the mower - I might just tarp it for the summer because it doesn't make sense to move it to the garage as there is no grass out front.  To put it in the play house would require lifting it onto the lower deck, and then lifting it into the playhouse.  More work than I want to do.

Once the shed is removed, I'll clean up that area and prepare it for new sod. But I've decided the rest of the work will wait until next spring since I will not be listing the house this year.  For this year, at least, I'll use the space for some container gardening.  

Finally, spring has arrived!  (Even if my neighbour has his Christmas lights turned on this evening.) I'm starting to make some plans on what I might plant in my containers, assuming the garden centers are open for business by the long May weekend.  As I was searching for a decent photo of the shed, I looked through photos of years past and gotten some ideas.  Soon, I'll be able to start digging in the dirt again.  That makes me happy!

Take care and stay well everyone!  Have a great week ahead.

Sunday 19 April 2020

A walk to remember

When I went for a walk on Friday, I made a point to walk around a nearby urban pond.  It's called Riverbend but there is no river, it's a low spot between two condo developments.  Regardless the birds enjoy it and I love watching them. 

I'm not sure if the goose below was one-legged or if the foot was cold!

On the way back to the house I spotted a robin in a tree.  Seeing them makes me hopeful spring will be here soon.

I spotted this display in a neighbour's window to show support to all of our essential workers.  I didn't realize there was a little guy looking out the window at me. 

At the mailbox someone has placed this gentle reminder.

Take care and stay well!

Saturday 18 April 2020

Week 5 - What a wild life I lead, and some wild life

Easter Sunday was just another day around here.  I didn't even cook a special meal, I had leftover chili and my son fixed Ramen noodles for himself. (He likes them with added vegetables).  Saturday was my day to cook.  I made the pot of chili, put together hamburger patties for the freezer, made a potato salad and a quinoa salad.  There was leftover meatloaf from earlier in the week in the fridge as well, along with some taco meat.  With all the leftovers I didn't see the point of cooking anything more, in fact I didn't bother on Monday either.

I did manage to get my sweater started on Sunday but ended up frogging it and winding up the ball of yarn for a new start on Monday.  I didn't like the way the pattern was looking so spent sometime finding another similar pattern.  If I weren't such a skinflint and was willing to pay for a pattern I'd have more choices.  I've finished several inches of it and am happier with the way it's going.  The crocheted tote bag was also partially re-done when I realized I'd messed up about half way in.  

We woke to snow on the ground Monday morning, with a temperature of -11C (12F).  It warmed up a bit through the day and the snow was nearly gone by that evening.  Tuesday and Wednesday mornings were stupidly cold for this time of year.  But both days the sun warmed up the sun room sufficiently for the cats and I to spend a good of the afternoon relaxing.  I've managed to read most of a book, take a few photos of the birds, and I even took a short nap one day.

This isn't a great photo, the blackbird flew away after this shot.  It's the first red-winged blackbird I've seen this spring (and the only one thus far).  It's a good sign that spring is on its way.  Fingers crossed.
Another not great photo, it's taken across the neighbour's yard with robin in the foreground and a Hungarian partridge in the back.

The next photo made me laugh.  I'm not sure what the bird is doing but the squat made me wonder. :)

In the front yard I had another visitor.  
He's actually eating some of the needles off the tree.  I can't imagine that they taste that good, and suspect needles aren't the most comfortable to eat. 

You can just see the tip of the ear in this photo. He's found the bits of celery and apple I put out for the rabbits.  I hope they taste better than the needles!

Back in the back yard I captured a robin in the tree.  It wouldn't give me a profile, but oh my goodness is that not a fat bird?

Wednesday I decided to spend the morning baking.  I had a few apples in the fridge that were beginning to soften; these were baked in an apple crumble.  I also made up a batch of buns, some regular, some hamburger bun size, and a dozen cinnamon buns.  The house smelled so good!  For dinner I'd marinated some chicken breasts in one of my favorite salad dressing, Italian Zesty Lime.  These were grilled up and with some garlic noodles and veg were our dinner.  I'll use the rest of the chicken in wraps for lunch over the next few days.  

While the sun shone Thursday morning, it was still cold.  So it snowed!  I know it doesn't looks like the sun was shining, but it truly was.

The smudge you see in the photo is actually a plastic maple leaf that I have added to some of the windows in the sun room.  They're supposed to reduce bird strikes though I've found one out there so far this year.  It always makes me sad when I have to pick up a dead bird.

It did warm up through the day but was overcast so it never got comfortable in the sun room.  I spent the after crocheting and knitting.  I finished the shopping bag, which frankly isn't a shopping bag.  I followed the pattern to the letter and ended up with more a purse than a shopping bag.  I could have modified the pattern but I decided a new purse for spring would be nice.  I checked and I have a piece of lovely green satin in my stash (picked up at the thrift store for $3.99) that I'll use to line the bag.  I need to check on-line to see what I can do to make the bottom firm - I'm thinking thick cardboard would work.  I've checked my stash of sewing items and while I have a couple of zippers neither of them are an appropriate color or size.  

I'm continuing to work on my sweater (knitting) and I really should finish off the infinity scarf before I start anything new.  I say that now, but Pinterest sends me an e-mail every evening and I keep finding more ideas.  I did have enough yarn left from the bag to start another shopping bag using a different pattern.  It's working up quickly so should be finished in the next couple of days.

Finally, on Friday I actually got off my butt and went for a walk. The temperature was a 6C (-14F) but initially felt a lot cooler.  But by the time I had walked through the little park and over to the nearby pond I felt quite warm.  I'll do a separate post for this as I took numerous photos!  There weren't many people out walking, perhaps a dozen or so but we all managed to be on the opposite side of the street.

Today, was just a lazy day.  The darn cats had me awake at 5:45 a.m. and I felt tired for most of the day.  Beyond feeding the birds, doing dishes, taking out some garbage, I spent much of the day catching up on my television watching, a bit of crocheting, and chatting on the phone.  I lay down for awhile in the afternoon but didn't actually sleep. Instead Saku and I had a good cuddle.  Almost as good as a nap.

Take care everyone and stay well!

Saturday 11 April 2020

Week 4 - an end in sight

I'm referring, of course, to the painting I've been doing in the house.  The main portion of the basement is now complete. Along with my son's bedroom there is a back area, mostly for storage, that needs to be done but I'm in no rush.  I've made up my mind I won't be listing the house this year.  At least for the foreseeable future, open houses are a no-no, and I certainly don't want a bunch of strangers wandering through the house with the potential of spreading the virus.  Further, all signs would suggest that house prices will fall this year due to the financial fall-out of this pandemic.  On a positive note, I have a variable mortgage and with the lower interest rate my payment has been reduced by $50 every two weeks.  I

Sadly, there is no end in sight for the Covid-19 virus and the forecast models so many reporters and individuals were clamoring for would suggest we're in this for the long haul.  Here in Canada we haven't seen the spread to the extent that many other countries have but I expect with the warmer weather coming the number of cases will increase.  I understand that many people will want to be outdoors especially those who live in apartments and condos - they may decide the risk is worth the opportunity to escape the confined spaces.  Then there will the folks who simply decide they've been cooped up long enough and "gosh darn it no gov'ment is going to tell me" what to do.  It's the latter I fear the most. I'm fortunate to have a deck out back, a patio in the front, and a large sun room (for cooler days) so I can get the fresh air I crave.  Just this morning, I stood out on the deck listening to the birdsong. For a few minutes I can think that all is right with the world. 

I did go out on Thursday for groceries and to pick up a prescription for my daughter.  The two stores I went into had arrows on the floor to direct traffic, however there were a number of people who apparently don't read arrow.  Even so, it was fairly quick getting out of both stores.  Getting into the drugstore took a little longer.  I waited about 15 minutes for my turn as they were limiting the store occupancy to 50 people, including staff. I went back later in the day to mail the parcel to Eli and D with the flock of ducks I made for him for Easter, her prescription and some other items.  The wait wasn't quite as long getting in, but there was a woman at the postal outlet counter who ensured the rest of us waited for at least 10 minutes before she stalked out the store, angry that she wasn't able to do what she came to do.  (No fault of the clerk - this person ought to have gone to the main post office).

Looking at the photo, it's clear the momma duck's beak is a little off but it didn't look that bad in person. :p  D sent me the felt for the eyes, and without a hole punch I had to try cutting circles by hand.  They're not perfect, nothing I make ever is, but they were made with love.  Besides he's three and won't care at all - there's chocolate in them there ducklings. Each of the little pooping ducks holds five wrapped chocolates.  D says she'll put one out every day so that the little stinker doesn't get too many.

Currently I have another crochet project on the go, a tote bag and I'm trying to decide what my next knitting project might be.  I like to have one of each - the stitches are different so I don't get confused switching from one to the other.  I sorted through my yarn stash a week or so ago...I probably have enough to keep me knitting/crocheting for most of the year!  I did find a pattern for a sweater that I really like - we'll see whether I get it on the needles or not this weekend.

On Friday, I went to my nephew's home (I know, I know) to help him with his income tax filing.  I felt fairly secure in that he hasn't been working, and other than his parents and sister (my SIL who tested negative) he hasn't had contact with anyone for nearly three weeks.  He is in the reserves and is expecting to be called up shortly so his mother was insistent his return needed to be filed asap.  I could have completed the return myself, but she was also insistent that he needs to know how to do it himself.  Rather than cause more family dissension I walked him through the forms.  We managed to physically distance ourselves fairly well throughout the process and I made certain to change clothing and wash up well when I got home. 

The weather has been fairly cold all week, with lots of wind and even some snow.  Friday the temperature reached 11C (52F) so the last of the ice on the front patio and in the backyard disappeared.  Then, of course it cooled down and our forecast suggests we're in for chilly weather until next Friday.  Pfft! I was hoping to get out and started cleaning up the patio and deck.  The birds and at least one squirrel have been cleaning up the birdseed every day.  The other day I was able to sneak into the sun room and catch the squirrel getting his feed on.

I chuckled when I saw the result of the second photo. It has its eyes closed - is it thinking?  "yum, yum, good?"  

I've read a couple of blogs where the author has come up with a list of things they want to do when this pandemic is over.  Some as many as 50!  I thought I'd try to come up with 10. Except for number 1 they are in no particular order.

1. Hug my daughter and grandson in person.  
2. Have lunch at a local restaurant with my friend K.
3. Visit my brother and family at the farm. 
4. Allow the painters to come in and paint the living room/kitchen/foyer.
5. Visit the garden centers and purchase plants for the containers.  I think this year I'll try growing some vegetables as well.
6. Attend the stitch and chat at the library.
7. Go for coffee with a friend.
8. Take a trip out to the island to see my cousins and uncle.
9. Book a cruise - October 2021 is a possibility.  It gives me an opportunity to visit J in England.
10. Continue to express my gratitude to all who have worked through this pandemic, the health care professionals, the support staff, grocery clerks and those who stock the shelves, truckers, police and fire personnel, and even our politicians who have done so much to ensure we are kept informed and the appropriate safety measures are in place.

I'd love to see your lists, either in the comments or on your own blogs.  Take care and stay well!

Saturday 4 April 2020

More of the same - Week 3

Sunday and Monday were sad days.  When I went out Saturday to pick up a few items, I found myself apprehensive about being around other people and that feeling carried over for a couple of days.  I think the stress of the continuing increase of Covid-19 cases and deaths, and the fear that it could impact someone I know and love is beginning to wear on me.  Add in not being able to physically see and hug my daughter and grandson is making it more difficult to tolerate.  Thankfully, I still have my son living with me and he gives great hugs.

My sister-in-law continued to display symptoms of the virus so was re-tested on Monday.  The results weren't available until Friday, so this added to my anxiety.  Thankfully she tested negative once again.  She's also started to feel better so that is a relief for all of us.   

On the home front, I did get the basement prepped for painting on Monday morning while my son was at work.  He returned after a couple of hours so I didn't do any more.  I think of the basement as his space (with shared laundry) and while I'm sure he doesn't mind me being there, it's easier to get things done when I've got the place to myself.  Tuesday morning he was away again, so I washed all the walls, sanded down areas where I'd filled nicks and dents, and began the process of cutting in before C arrived home.  As I was working I found more dents and nicks where C had moved furniture for me so those got filled.  I had planned to start painting in earnest Wednesday morning while C slept....that boy can sleep through anything...but I just wasn't in the mood. Thursday was a write off too.  Friday I was back at it, and got the cutting in done.  By the time I finished that, I was done for the day. I may or may not do more today. 

My son won't be going back to work until April 20th.  There are three staff who work in his area, so his bosses have decided to rotate the three coming into the office for the next few weeks.  He called into a conference call on Monday and the decision has been made the earliest all staff would be returning to work would be the end of April.  But, of course, that could and probably will be pushed back even further.

I've given up on my pillow project for the moment.  I'm not happy with the way it looks and I think it's likely the yarn I'm using.  Perhaps that's why someone had donated it to the thrift store.  In the meantime, I've made a pooping duck (not to be confused with a peeking duck, :p )  The bottom holds five or six candies. In this case I've filled them with Smarties Easter eggs.

I didn't have the proper material to make the eyes so simply stitched a couple. It looks evil!  So my daughter is mailing me some felt and I'll remove these and replace them with felt that I'll glue on.  I had made another two duck head and bodies but some cat had misplaced my orange yarn so I couldn't make the bills.  I picked up another skein at Walmart on Wednesday when I ran out to do an errand for my daughter.  I'd like to make another three white ones as well.  My daughter will use them instead of Easter eggs for Eli's hunt.

In addition, I've finished a few dishcloths. As another blogger has said these are always useful! I've been watching last years men's worlds curling and I like to have something to work on in my hands.  It keeps me from eating my way through this pandemic.   

Winter returned mid-week with temperatures falling to -20C (-4F) overnight with snow.  We didn't get much of the precipitation so as it warms up over the weekend I expect it will disappear.  Even so, with the exception of the front patio it will be a few weeks before I can get out and start cleaning up the yard.  In the meantime I'm enjoying watching the birds at the feeder. 

Based on the size of these birds, I'd say they are pretty healthy!

That pretty much wraps up the week.  I'm continuing to stay home as much as I can and I'm trying to keep busy and avoid watching the news despite being a news junkie.  One difference is I've made a point several times this week to call, text or e-mail a friend.  I'm far too good at waiting for others to reach out, it's about time I was the instigator.  

Take care everyone and stay well!