Wednesday 30 September 2020

Saturday 26 September 2020

Mystery, memories, and passing time

 It's Friday as I start this post and I cannot tell you where this week went.  I know I walked every day, I did some housework, I stitched and knitted, and watched hockey, basketball, and a whole of NCIS. My cable provider has a free preview of the channel that the latter show airs on, so I've been bingeing it knowing that it will be gone at the end of this month.

The photos I shared on Wednesday were actually taken on Saturday afternoon after I posted for the week.  R had called and told me the colors were at their peak and we were expecting wind for the next couple of days, so I needed to get out there.  He and his family were at the lake, so I had the place to myself.  I climbed the trail closest to the house as it is least steep, though I didn't make it to the very top.  The last climb to the ridge is almost straight up and I wasn't trying that on my own.  I had visions of this roly poly body doing a Jack and Jill down the hill.

Relating to my blog title, late last week, I was contacted by a distant cousin (grandson of my maternal grandfather's brother) because he was looking for information on my grandpa's family.  He had apparently found me through someone from my home town.  But his initial e-mail went to my spam folder, and I generally delete these items so didn't see it.  He was able to contact my cousin H, who reached out to me.  After a couple of e-mails back and forth, I was able to provide some photos I found in a couple of old albums to him.  In my search I also located the  book from Grandpa's funeral in 1976 in my box of memories for mom and dad.  

Grandpa passed away when I was 17 and suffered from stroke-related dementia for several years prior.  I didn't recall a whole lot about his family, other than I had met one of his brothers, Dave and his wife Clara when I was a kid.  It turns out, in fact, that Grandpa was one of nine children (!) and also had an adoptive brother as well.  On Sunday I had quite the conversation with K, learning more about the family history. K told me he had been able to complete much of the family history, with the exception of Grandpa's side of the family.  It left me with more questions, especially about the relationship, or lack of one, between Grandpa and his siblings.

Something else K was able to tell me was that my great-grandfather is buried in the old cemetery in my hometown.  He passed away long before I was born in 1944, but I cannot recall my mother ever speaking about him or her grandmother, although she would have been a teenager when they passed away.  There is some uncertainty as to where my great-grandmother is buried too, either in my home town or somewhere in Manitoba.  I've promised K to visit the cemetery the next time I'm in the area and will try to find the graves and take photos of the markers if there are any.  Mysteries of the past!

On a different note, I spent some time out the yard this week too.  The lawn was mowed for the last time this year, and the mower moved to it's winter storage in the garage.  I miss my shed... the small playhouse on the deck holds a good amount of things and I might have squeezed the mower in, but that would have meant hauling it up onto the deck and I did not feel like doing that.  I did some weeding and Friday I cleaned about half of the containers of the annuals. It is going to get cooler this weekend, but the forecast is still above freezing at night for at least a couple of weeks. I've left about half the containers since the plants are doing well.  The ones I yanked were getting leggy and beginning to discolor.  I did bring in all the garden ornaments and most of the solar lights. I've left the chairs and tables out on the front patio and back deck.  Sadly, I found two birds on the deck that had flown into one of the sunroom windows, both dead. :(  While I would be lost without my sunroom, sometimes I wish it wasn't all windows.

While on one of my walks, I caught sight of this very active critter.  Once it settled in the tree it was quite happy to pose for my camera.  Check out the length of that tail!

I love all the colors in these shrubs.

The number of ducks are definitely far less than they were earlier in the month. While the geese are still thronging to the pond, the numbers are starting to decline.  One day I was without my camera and spotted two "things" swimming on the pond, diving every so often. They never came up above the water like the cormorants so I'm assuming there may be a pair of muskrats there.  I tried zooming in with my cellphone but they were just too far away to be certain.  Of course, the next time I had my camera they were nowhere to be seen. 

I made a trip to Costco one day, and picked up a few non-food items including another Christmas gift.  I stopped at Peavey Mart on my way home for birdseed but they did not have what I was looking for so I ended up at Home Depot.  I still did not get what I wanted but close enough.  I've started feeding the birds again, so you can expect to see photos taken from the sunroom soon.  While I was washing dishes on Friday morning, I laughed to see the birds using the bird bath, spraying water every which way.  

I'm getting closer to finishing Eli's sweater. The one on the left doesn't look much like a sweater, does it?  But when it is folded over, it does.  One more sleeve and then I'll decide whether to make the hood or a collar.

D and Eli will be here next week so I'll try it on him before I make my decision.  It's going to be big, but he'll grow into it. 

This morning, it was definitely cool out there, about 7C (45F), and breezy but I dressed for it and went out for my walk earlier than normal.  I didn't want to get caught out there if it rained. (It hasn't yet!) I'll end the post with a couple of photos from today.  

Take care everyone and stay well!

Saturday 19 September 2020

Keeping busy, my way

It feels a little odd to be writing another post so soon after the last one.  I guess I've gotten used to the idea of writing once a week.  To those of you who write daily, or nearly so, I'm in awe of your diligence. 

Other than walking, I've spent most of the week at home, though did get out for groceries and a brief shopping trip on Thursday.  I haven't been to the thrift stores for some time and had an urge to check things out.  The protocols have changed since my last visit.  The stores are limiting the number of customers, though I must admit the number must be large, at least at Value Village because the store was busy.  There are sanitizing stations at the door, and someone there to explain the changes.  V.V. does not require masks, though the Salvation Army store does.  I always mask up so it wasn't an issue for me. I was glad to leave the store (V.V.) as there were three Hutterite women entering without masks.  Here in Saskatchewan, their communities have been hard hit by Covid-19. 

At V.V. I found a bag of Christmas yarn, some sparkly red, sparkly green, a partial skein of variegated red, green, and white, and a solid red.  I've tucked these away for later, I'm sure I'll find a use for it.  I was also able to find a pretty blouse for myself, and a jacket for my daughter. The jacket appears to nearly new, with no noticeable wear.  I checked the brand with my daughter, and then did a search on the 'net.  I paid $12 for this jacket, when the regular price is between $60-70!  

Over at the Salvation Army store, I found a pair of jeans for $6 for myself, and a pair of pants for Eli for $1.99.  The pants I found for him, have the expanders to allow for better fit at the waist.  This summer he's stretched and slimmed down so D was thrilled when I told her about my find.  Like every other little boy, he's pretty hard on the knees of his pants.

Speaking of Eli, this happened on Thursday. Our little guy has started pre-K!  D has spent the last few weeks preparing him for it, as he has never been away from her for very long, except with me, my son, or his Dad.  He had met his teacher in June, but all of the students would be new to him.  D explained mommy would drop him off, and then pick him up in a couple of hours. He was told too, that he needed to listen to his teacher, to do as she asked, and if he needed something to use his big boy words.  

There are 15 children in the pre-K, and the school had the children start their first day in groups of four, and the last group which Eli was in were only three.  The older children enter the school about 15 minutes earlier than the little ones.  D drove Eli to school and they watched as the older children lined up to go inside.  Mrs. H (the pre-K teacher) met the children and parents in the playground and gave them some time to play before they went indoors.  When D said she had to go, Eli called to her, "I love you mommy, bye!" At pick-up Mrs. H. told her that Eli had been very good, and I think that's when D finally exhaled.  I wasn't surprised, he doesn't generally misbehave when he's with me either, he saves that for his mom.  Next week, the children who attended last Mon/Weds will attend together the same two days, and the Tues/Thurs children will attend those days.  The following week all fifteen will attend all four days.  The class is only 2 1/2 hours but it is a good way for Eli to spend time with other children, and a chance for D to run errands, do housework, or simply relax.  

While I've been at home I've been working on various craft projects.  I pulled out a counted cross stitch kit that I bought at a thrift store earlier this year.  It's a Christmas bow for a door or perhaps on a wreath.  My eyesight requires good lighting for stitching so I tend to work on it only in the afternoon with the lamp on the table beside me turned on.  I'll share a photo when I finish it.  I'm not sure if I'll keep it, or if I'll gift it to my SIL.

I work on Eli's sweater while watching hockey.  The series has reached the final so there will only be games every second day so I've started watching basketball and do my knitting then.

This is it, about mid-way through the process.  The portion to the right is a sleeve, the bottom is the partially completed back, and the top is the completed left front section.  It looks a bit like a puzzle doesn't it?  I've got the right front on the needles now, and a few inches in I'll knit across it and the unfinished back portion for a bit, then reduce the number of stitches to create the second sleeve.  I've never made a sweater in this fashion and am finding it fascinating. Fewer seams is always a good thing for me - though I'll still have the side seams, and the sleeve seams  to sew.  It has a hood as well, and I may try to figure out how to create it by picking up stitches at the neck line as it's made in a separate piece and sewed on.  Or maybe I'll just follow the pattern. :)  I stopped in at our Fabricland on Thursday to find buttons for it, and lucked out again.  The buttons I bought were one sale for 33 cents for two buttons - I needed four so for a whopping 73 cents taxes included I have what I need.

After I baked the banana bread last week, I decided my mini loaf pans had seen better days.  They were badly stained and no matter how hard I scrubbed they just never looked clean. I didn't want to throw them out though and figured they'd be useful for something.  I picked up some chalk paint at Walmart and gave one of the tins a coat of paint - I didn't worry that it wasn't perfect because I figured for the purpose I had in mind it would likely show some wear sooner than later.  I had the letters from scrapbooking I used to do, used four small chair felts for the base and now the little tin is perfect for holding my dish scrubs.  (Connie, do you recognize the pretty one?) It was an easy and quick project, and I have two more tins to make up - perhaps I can gift these two.  I think I'd use the word scrub though rather than wash, any other suggestions?

I had thought I'd spend this weekend pulling annuals, but our forecast is for decent weather for the next two weeks so I'm going to leave them be, keep watering and deadheading for a little longer.  Instead I'll cut back some of the perennials, especially the ferns as they have almost completely dried out.

Since I had the time I headed for a good long walk this morning, past the creek and pond, then over to a nearby mall to pick up some cash at the bank before returning home.  I took my camera, so you know what's coming next.  :)

I'm happy to see the Godwit is still around.  The adults apparently migrate first with the adolescents following later.  They winter along coastal California, Mexico, and even into South America.  

This is my favorite photo of the day.  The ducks were up above the creek relaxing in the grass, where they've worn a path up the hill.  I've seen them moving up and down the path before but never just hanging out up there.

Over at the pond the geese were in the hundreds, and more came flying in as I watched.  But you've seen a bazillion photos of the geese so I won't bore you with any more.

Yes, there are geese in the photo, but also the two cormorants and a gull.  The cormorant was what I was focused on because it was about to fly.

It must be heavy as it dragged its feet in the water as it took off.

This is the final shot, it is still low over the water and then it disappeared behind the reeds and grasses.  

And that's it for this week, I'm going to head outdoors to clean up the front flower bed and enjoy the sunshine. Take care everyone and stay well!

Wednesday 16 September 2020

Walking my way

I'm posting an extra post this week because I've lots of photos to share from my daily walk.  Don't feel like you have to read any further if you're tired of seeing these.  

The smoke from the California/Oregon fires arrived here on Monday.  The sun didn't stand a chance, and there was an almost yellow glow to the air.  It didn't smell smoky though and it was quite warm.  I can't imagine what it is like where the fires are burning and my heart goes out to all those who are affected by them.  

Autumn has arrived, seemingly overnight as these photos would suggest. At least I don't recall seeing the colors when I walked on Sunday.

I know for absolute certainty that this tree had leaves the prior day.  It's the only one that has dropped all of its leaves so I assume there it is stressed for some reason.

Tuesday was a walk with lots of critters! First up were the bunnies in the closest park, but none of them would pose for me.  So here's a photo from the following day instead. 
Over at the creek park I ran into a fellow with his dog.  The owner told me the dog loves to have his photo taken, so of course I obliged, after a few scritches and pats.  What a handsome boy!

The ducks and the Godwit were at the creek too, but I have taken so many photos of them I carried on over to the pond.  The geese were gathering, with pairs and larger groups flying in overhead and landing on the pond.  This pair made me laugh, I can almost hear the one saying to the other, "landing gear down!".

I get so excited when I see something different on my walk and this day it was a snow goose.  Normally when I see these, there are out in a field north of the city.  R said that he's not seen them this far south this early in the year before.  I wonder what they know that we don't.

A bird or an alien?  It looks a bit like both!

Today's walk took me to the creek again, where the ducks and Godwit were seen.  Along the banks the vegetation is still green  but the rest of park is pretty brown and dry.

The jack rabbit hunkered down as I passed.  If it weren't for the bit of green he would have been hard to see.

As I arrived at the pond it was evident the geese are gathering. My goodness the noise!

There was another surprise for me at the pond too. This was the best photo I could get, and I'm pretty sure it's a beaver.  I've send the photo to my brother to confirm.  It  headed into the water after this photo and dived under and though I stood and watched I couldn't get another photo of it.  (Update: Kea mentioned it may be a muskrat and my brother has confirmed that is indeed what it is.)

I've heard of having your ducks in a row, but never one's geese.  What can I say, I'm easily amused. 

No birds in this photo, I just love the colors reflecting on the pond.

The smoke has cleared and the sun is shining brightly this afternoon.  The cats are in the sun room and I'm going to join them there in a bit. 

Take care and stay well everyone!

Saturday 12 September 2020

Autumn Joy

The calendar says autumn won't arrive until the 22nd but Mother Nature has another idea altogether.  I drove out to D's on Saturday, on a lovely sunny and warm afternoon.  We spent a couple hours outside cleaning up the front part of her yard, while her neighbour K was cutting back perennials.  Eli spent his time running between the two yards chattering up a storm.  When I asked K if he was bothering her, she said it was a treat having the little guy spend time with her.  Awww...that sure makes this G'ma happy.

Sunday morning, it was much cooler but with a promise of slightly warmer temps in the afternoon.  We headed out about 8 a.m. for a short walk, ending at the "red" park.  

Eli enjoyed the swings, especially when his mom gave him under ducks.  Do you remember those?  I didn't until D showed me what she meant.  I guess this truly proves that I'm getting old(er).  

We were back at the house just before 9, had our breakfast as both Eli and I had "so very hungry tummies", and then it was time to do some more yard work.  While I finished up in the front yard, D and K worked on the side yard.  They've decided that next spring, they'll have someone in to revamp the space between the two houses, with refreshed xeriscaping.  There is gravel there, but over the years weeds and some ground cover have grown in.  D wants to do the front as well - we'll have to see how far her budget can stretch.

We knew that Monday was going to be quite cool - especially early in the morning, and Eli was wanting to go for a drive so Sunday afternoon we drove to a nearby lake.  It was too chilly to go in the water, though one little boy got his feet wet before his mom and I could catch him.  The lake is down in the valley where the fall colors are beginning to show.

There are several docks, some with boats and Seadoos tied up, and the beach has sand and a bit of gravel.  There was a guy with his tractor harrowing the beach as we arrived.  There is also playground equipment, and even a snack truck - though it wasn't open when we were there.

I'm not sure what Eli was thinking about in this photo but he doesn't look particularly happy.  It was probably about the time his mom said we needed to go.  It wasn't very warm, and there was quite a breeze - not the best time to be on the beach.  Still it was nice to check it out and I can foresee visiting again next summer.

Sunday evening, D went out to spend some time with a friend, while Eli and I hung out together.  We watched hockey, sort of, as much as one can with a three year old.  At one point he was sitting beside with his blanket, with one foot uncovered; he turned to me and said, look G'ma my toes are dancing.  His toes were certainly wiggling, and I love his imagination.

Monday was mostly an indoor day, as D tackled some chores while I played with Eli.  Later that afternoon we went for another drive, to a nearby larger community to pick up a few items and fill her car with gas.  Eli and I stayed in the car while she ran her errands.  Actually he slept and I played on my phone.  

I left earlier than planned on Tuesday morning, as we felt it was too cold for a walk.  We'd had a light frost overnight at D's, with temps just below freezing, and a harder frost in the city.  I wanted to get home to check on my plants.   My yard must have its own micro-climate, as nothing was badly damaged, just some browning of leaves on the ivy.  The impatience container sits just outside the front door and I suspect the house shelters it - they are blooming quite happily.  Everything in the back yard was fine too!  The forecast for the next two weeks looks good, with mild temperatures, neither too cold or too hot.  I like this time of year, no need for a/c and the furnace kicks in for just a couple of cycles in the morning to take the chill off.  I open up the sun room as soon as I can, the cats enjoy their naps out there and the warmth makes its way indoors to heat up the house as well.  

On Wednesday I got out for another walk.  Lots of ducks and geese to see on the creek and over at the pond.  The cormorants were there too, sunning themselves.

Ducks and geese sharing the sun!  I was going to call this photo "one of these things is not like the other."..but then I noticed there are two ducks.  
I find the cormorants fascinating.  They aren't pretty birds by any stretch of the imagination but they look graceful in the water and in flight. (Not that I often catch them doing either). After writing this, I saw a couple of the birds feeding in the water, and another flying the following day. On Saturday there were eight of them, three swimming and five perched!
The sun was warm by this point in my walk, and I'm sure the birds were enjoying it as much as I was.

Back at home, I mixed up some banana loaf batter.  I'd tossed a banana in the freezer before I left for D's, and noticed I had several already there.  I took two out the night before and placed them in my large measuring cup to defrost overnight.  It's so easy to cut the stems off and squeeze the banana out of the peel.  No mashing required either.  I always make mini-loaves, two with chocolate chips for my son, and one with dried cranberries for me.  

This week, I was able to finish the helmet liner/balaclava for my nephew and start working on a sweater for Eli.  Oh, and I took the crocheted poncho out to D to check the fit.  She liked it, and as it is definitely too small for my niece, she'll keep it.  Someone else liked it too (even though he's making a funny face).  

She'll wear it with a black tank top or long sleeved tee and leggings.  I'm still not impressed with the pattern as I followed it exactly, my gauge was correct, and it did not end up with a dress length...unless the wearer is 3 1/2 years old. I'll use what I've learned when I make the next one.

It warmed up quite a bit in the afternoon on Thursday and Friday.  No heat was needed in the morning either.  I did turn on the a/c on Friday because it the house warmed up a bit more than I would have liked.  Silly me, I went for my walk on Thursday afternoon and wore my jeans.  By the time I got home I was sweating buckets!  I went early on Friday morning, and it was much nicer out there.  
The cormorants had lots of company!

Back at home, I did a bit of yard work, watering and weeding and cutting back some dead foliage. I had visitors.
The robin kept an eye on me but stayed put in the bird bath.  I've seen several of them on my walks lately.  Perhaps they are on their way south.
The caterpillar, is another Sphinx moth caterpillar - this one is about three inches long.  I think I saw the other one a few days ago, slinking its way into the neighbour's yard. I was curious as to when these would cocoon, and read that in most cases they actually go underground, and larvae that start the pupae stage in autumn will overwinter and emerge in the spring.  

Today, I'm catching up...on PVR'ed television and housework. There is lots of both.  I did manage to get a walk in this morning after watching a few programs and before tackling the kitchen.  The fridge has now had a clear out, the dishes are washed and put away,  the floor is washed and I'm back in my chair for a short break before I start on the living room. A week of dust is not a glorious thing to behold.  In the meantime, the chickadees are entertaining me as they flit about the evergreen out front.  

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