Saturday 24 July 2021

Weather, walking, and UFO's

Remember the ten days of high temperatures I wrote about last week?  Yeah, that forecast was wrong.  When the smoke from the forest fires blew in the temperatures didn't climb, but we had a couple of days of haze and smoky air so I stayed indoors for most of the time anyway.  I did manage to walk outdoors several evenings, and took a morning walk on Friday.

This was taken one evening when the smoke and haze was particularly heavy.  

On another one of those walks, I encountered two families of geese making their way to the grass to feed.  While the youngsters are nearly the same size as the adults now, the parents are still very protective of them.  Hiss!

Thursday was a scorcher again, reaching 33C (91F).  I had gone out after dinner to read on the patio and while I was out there the sky clouded over and it got very dark very quickly.  I'd only been indoors for five or ten minutes before the first storm hit.  We had a downpour of rain and the wind picked up as the lightning and thunder rolled over us.  It was over in just a few minutes.  My son checked the radar and it appeared we wouldn't be getting anymore but again, the prognosticators were wrong.  Less than a half hour later, another storm came through, with winds up to 100 kph (60 mph) and lots of rain.  At one point it appeared to be raining sideways! All told we had between 1/4 to 3/4's of an inch of rain (6 to 19 mm.) depending on the area of the city. I'm pretty sure we had a higher amount as there puddles in the back yard.  Hooray, I won't have to water for a couple of days!  Well, except for those darned tomatoes.  In containers they inhale the water. 

It certainly cooled things down. In just over an hour it went from 32C to 21C (90F to 70F).  Overnight it cooled off even more and I woke to just 12C (54F). The storm also took care of the smoke and haze and Friday was a beautiful day, sunny and warm.  

I headed out about 10 a.m. for my walk to the creek and pond.  Again, I considered driving somewhere else to walk but I wanted to check the water levels.

It may not appear that way to my readers but I can assure you the water level is significantly higher than it was just a few days ago. The city has been out and mowed the grass in the park as well as the one side of the slope down to the creek.  

There weren't many ducks on the creek, though I was on the side that hadn't been mowed so I couldn't see down to the water very well.

Over at the pond, the geese were up on the grass while the ducks were feeding.  The water was rushing into the outflow and the place where the cormorant often perches was completely underwater.

The flowers are blooming all along the path.  The blackbirds must nest in the reeds as I'm also spooking them when I take photos nearby.

There are still a few wee ducklings at the pond.  There were three with this mama, but the other two wouldn't cooperate to have their photo taken.  They were swimming well ahead of their mother and sibling.

Some of the trees did not survive the winter but make interesting patterns with their leafless branches.  I believe that is a sparrow in the tree.

The sparrow are the natural prey of these, Merlin falcons.  We have six of them in the neighbourhood, the pair and their brood of four.  It's not a great shot, they were quite high in the tree in a neighbour's yard so I couldn't walk around to get a better photo. I understand this is the way of nature but I'd really wish they'd move to a different part of the city.

The rest of the week was spent doing all the things I do every week, laundry, dishes, cleaning cat litter, washing floors, cleaning bathrooms, cleaning cat litter, watering containers, vacuuming carpets, cleaning cat litter.  I did a little shopping too, at Fabricland and at a couple of thrift stores.  I've gotten through the last several books I bought at the Salvation Army store and found another three this week.  

I'm continuing to work on the unfinished projects and actually completed one and was getting closer to finish another before starting on several others.  The cross-stitch bow I started before Christmas last year is finally complete. The only thing that was left to complete were the French knots, a stitch I've always struggled with.  I watched several videos to try to improve my technique....if you ever happen to make such a video, my recommendation would be to sloooooow down.  I played and re-played those videos a dozen times trying to get the threads in the right place before finishing the knot.  Don't look too closely at the photo; it's not perfect but as my Dad would say, "A blind man riding by on horseback won't know the difference."

Several years ago, the Fabricland store in east Regina closed down, selling as much of the product they could at reduced prices before hand.  I took the opportunity to pick up fabric, thread, notions and a couple of patterns at that time but did nothing with them, until now.  I decided to make myself a top with one of those patterns and a piece of the material.  Although I used to sew a lot, especially when my daughter was young, it's been some time since I've worked with an actual pattern.  On my last visit to the thrift stores I'd picked up a Halloween craft pattern.  Knowing I'd be rusty I made the decision to cut out the pieces for the top and a couple of pumpkins, sewing the latter first to get accustomed to using the sewing machine again.

The material I used for these was a remnant I had picked up at the thrift store sometime in the past year.  The leaves are felt from the dollar store, as are the ribbon and pipe cleaners.  I ran out of the beige ribbon so used the orange on the second looks a bit odd but since these are just for me I'll live with them.  There is also a bat pattern in the envelope and I have a piece of black velvet that I think would be perfect.  I know a little boy who will love it!

The top is nearly 50% complete and I'll likely finish it next week sometime.  It's been fun deciphering the instructions and so far I haven't had to google any of the technical terms.  When I'm not in the craft room, I've been watching the Olympics (there are some really weird sports) and continuing to crochet my daughter's tank top.  That too, should be complete next week if I continue at this pace.  No promises though!

That pretty much wraps up the happenings here.  It's another lovely day with a forecast high of 28C (82F).  A good day to sit and relax on the patio with a good book. 

Have a good week ahead everyone!

Saturday 17 July 2021

Still more heat, little rain, and I'll be hiding

As I start this post on Friday, it's day 2 of what is expected to be 10 days of very hot weather.  Yesterday we reached a new high of 33C (91F), today we're expecting even more heat and that trend will continue.  It isn't unusual for us to have several days of hot weather in July but typically, after a few days of heat, we'll see thunderstorms in the evenings. Our forecast says we might have a storm tomorrow, but I'm not holding my breath.  

I've been walking outdoors every day but haven't had the camera with me since I'm in a hurry to get the walk over and get back home.  Generally I get out first thing in the morning before the heat settles in and while it's been cooler it's also been buggy.  The grasshoppers are out in force and I've been slapped in the face more than once by one jumping up.  I've found them in the back yard as well and as this heat continues I expect they'll make short work of some of my plants.  

For a change I'd gone out for a walk on Thursday evening since it was overcast and had cooled down a few degrees.  I was about 5-10 minutes from home when there was a sudden rain shower, that soaked me good.  It lasted less than 3 minutes but the increase in humidity was immediate.  Surprisingly the bugs weren't bad at all. I counted 20 rabbits in the park having their evening meal. They didn't let the rain deter them from the repast. 

Friday morning, I headed out after my chat with D and a cup of tea.  There were several folks out enjoying a walk as well - great minds think alike.  Since I had my camera with me I have a few photos to share.

First up is a lousy shot of Hungarian partridge.  I was surprised to see it on its own as they usually are seen in groups.  Perhaps this one wandered a little further afield than the others.  It wouldn't slow down and pose for me.  Funny that!

The killdeer were out on the creek again, and while I could hear two (or more) calling I only saw the one.  

Below is a mama duck and her brood.  They're getting big!

There are several houses that border the park, and it appears this family feeds the ducks.  They've worn a path in the grass from the creek up to the house.  I use the path too, to get closer to the creek because the city isn't mowing that area. With the bugs and gopher holes I'm choosing not to walk through the long grass. 

There wasn't a whole lot happening at the pond. Most of the geese were resting on the grass along with a few ducks.  Several ducks were feeding along the edge and the sole pelican was out feeding as well.  I love how it is reflected in the water.

The rest of the week has been pretty quiet.  Groceries were bought, housework got (mostly) completed, and I took a nap just about every afternoon.  My craft room was sorted and a number of items discarded. When things were cleaned up I got busy and finished the sewing project D wanted me to make. I cut squares from several old t-shirts of Eli's, sewing them together in rows of four, and then added the blue material in between the strips.  The backing is made of the same material. I had picked up a pillow at one of the thrift stores, so used the insert inside this pillow.  It's meant to be a father's day gift for Eli's deadbeat dad.  D will have Eli sleep with it for a few days before she sends it off to him.  Maybe that will encourage J to come up with the last year's unpaid child support? sarcasm!

Pillows were the order of the week it seems.  I had picked up three more placemats at the dollar store ($2 each), and made up these pillows for the sun room.  Saku is checking them out, I'm pretty sure he thinks they need more fur.  I used up a bag of fiber fill to stuff them.  They've been added to the other two I made earlier this spring.

I've decided it is time to get back to the UFO's (unfinished objects).  I finally got the ribbons on the baby dresses I made several months ago - D will gift these to her friend who had twins last year in August.  I've pulled out Eli's sweater - it only needs the button bands knitted on and buttons added.  Then there is the tank top I started crocheting for D....I had to start again as it wasn't fitting properly.  

Today promises to be another hot day, with the added bonus of the smoke haze from northern forest fires.  It's finally reached us here.  There are currently 137 fires burning in the province, and several northern communities have been evacuated due to the threat.  My brother R left on Wednesday for a canoe trip with several friends though they weren't going as far north. Since I haven't heard from him, I assume they haven't had to cut the trip short.  

The weekend prior he ran 50 miles in the Sinister 7 ultra marathon in the Alberta Rockies.  (I think he's nuts!)  He's definitely enjoying his vacation. I'll leave you with a photo he sent me.

Have a great week everyone!

Saturday 10 July 2021

Rain, rain, come again asap

It was another week of summer weather, though we did cool off considerably on Tuesday (only reaching 20C/68F) which I much appreciated.  Though there was rain and possible thunderstorms in the forecast on Thursday, other than some clouds we got nothing.  I'm almost afraid of this month's water bill; regardless I won't regret keeping the plants well watered. The tomatoes are putting out lots of fruit, the peppers look like they may bloom soon, and the last of the lettuce has been picked.  I've learned that peas and sweet peas aren't happy in containers - or at least not in short ones. I did get about a quarter cup of peas from the plants, now I wonder how much I spent watering them?  I think I'll try again next year with five gallon pails.  I don't have room for raised garden beds, at least not where it would get sufficient sun.

Arggh....blogger and photographs are not my friend today.  To the left are one of my containers of tomatoes, plus basil and marigolds.

Below and to the right of the paragraph are the containers when I first planted them on June 5th. The marigolds haven't taken off but the tomatoes sure have!

It was a pretty quiet week for the most part.  I did my walking both in and out of doors.  My camera went with me on the one day.

Down at the creek I could hear the sound of killdeer calling.  

There are two photos of the killdeer as Blogger has apparently removed the "remove image" option.  I wanted to post the one with the pair but initially selected the wrong one. :p
The water level has really dropped in the creek.  We definitely need the rain.
The gophers were out chirping too.  This one seemed as curious about me as I was of him.
The source of the creek water seems to come from the pond overflow.  This section of creek is between the pond and the creek where I walk. There isn't much water for the adult ducks but the little ones were zipping around.
Over at the pond I spotted this pretty wigeon resting in the water.  It has such distinctive markings.

The sole cormorant was back standing guard on its post.  Does it not look like a statue?

I wouldn't mind having one (a statue) in my back yard. 

The pelican had been feeding in the pond before it flew off.  It's been on its own at the pond most of the summer too.  

These are some form of campanula (bellflower) my guess is the seeds blew in or were transported there by birds.  

I believe this was a mallard duck, either molting or an immature male.  The bill would normally be more yellow though I have found photos of mallard ducks with this almost green bill.  He's not quite as handsome as the wigeon especially with the mottled green head.

Thursday the crew showed up to start the process of replacing the fence between my neighbours to the west and I.  I decided not to change out the other section on the east side of the yard mostly due to the cost (lumber prices are out of this world), and will re-paint the old fence sometime this summer.  I can only see that portion of fence from the bedroom window and since I don't spend much time looking out on it, it will stay.  The crew got the old fence down, the post holes dug and the posts cemented in before they left for the day.  They showed up around 10 the next morning and were finished by about 3 in the afternoon. The fence looks good and new gates look great.  I wasn't as impressed with the mess they left behind of dirt from the post holes that were clods of clay.  I shovelled most of it up and put it back behind the trees in the back yard.  It only took about a half hour to get things tidied up so I can't really complain. 

This morning I got out early to do some yardwork as the heat is on again.  It's currently 31C/88F as I finish this post but the morning was perfect.  I watered containers, dug out weeds in the lawn and under the trees, and got the lawn mowed by 11 a.m. and then spent an hour or so reading and relaxing in the shade on the deck.  Next up on the agenda is do some sorting and organizing in the craft room as I ran out to get some baskets this morning at the dollar store.  I decided it would be a good day to work on that as I won't be heading outdoors until this evening.  How people manage without a/c in this weather is beyond me!
Before I came into the house I wandered the yard and took a few photos of various containers. (more than I'm sharing here but I won't bore you with them). Everything is filling in so nicely.

This container has a couple of green pepper plants, a lantana and marigolds.  It gets less sun than the other so the peppers are still fairly short but they seem to be about to push a flower.

These containers have my geraniums, calibrochoa, vinca, lobelia (in smaller containers) and another plant which name escapes me. Bacopa I think.

Lastly this is one of two containers off the patio.  With petunias, calibrochoa, verbena, curly grass and in the center is a variety of Euphorbia.  The two containers are probably my favorite this year so I'll have to keep it in mind for next year.

Have a great week everyone!  If you're getting rain you can send it my way please. :)  


Saturday 3 July 2021

Hot, hot, hot!

 After my busy week last week, this one has been quite a contrast - I've got lethargy down to a science.  The heat dome that was over British Columbia and Alberta has made it's way east to us and the temperature just kept on rising. Since Tuesday we've been under the heat warning (though I figured it could have been announced as early as Monday) and it won't end for a couple of days yet. 

I spent some time outdoors every morning, watering containers, deadheading, and doing a bit of weeding.  Monday I went out for a walk, but didn't take my camera so there is no photo evidence.  Honestly there wasn't much to see that day.  Oh, I did talk to a passer-by who mentioned a baby crow that was under a tree with an adult crow keeping watch. I didn't see it myself so I was not certain it was the same one I saw last week.  My hope was it was close to being able to fly on its own.  

Since the weather was cooler in the morning, most days I took my tea and laptop out to patio to read blogs and e-mails.  Since there is no grass in the front yard the mosquitos aren't nearly as bad as they are in the back. 

My son was able to get his second vaccine on Monday afternoon.  He had a bit of a reaction to it, very achy the next day and he had some swelling near the injection site.  This was his week to work from home, so he's been able to rest in between his check-ins.  

It's been a rather uneventful week, with the usual stuff dealt with; groceries, washing the floors upstairs, vacuuming both up and downstairs, laundry and, of course, the ubiquitous cat litter. I did a clear out of the fridge on Monday, since my son doesn't often eat leftovers, and made a list of needed grocery items.  It wasn't too bad, but I do have to remind myself to quit putting away small amounts of leftovers...unless I plan to eat them myself the following day.  There weren't any science experiments underway - yet.

I watered the containers twice a day, once in the morning and then again in the evening.  The tomatoes especially seem to soak up the water in this heat.  I was excited to find that I have five wee tomatoes on the one plant!  The peas are flowering too and pods are beginning to develop.  Sadly, my radishes bolted and went to seed.  But I have been able to get lettuce for several salads.  I started another container of lettuce last week and I should be able to use it next week.  I did catch a bunny on the deck one evening, but it didn't appear to have done any damage to the plants - yet.

I headed out early Friday morning to walk though didn't have my camera with me that day either.  You'll have to take my word for it, the ducklings are starting to grow up, and the goslings are beginning to rival their parents in size.  There were lots of gophers too, either they've become accustomed to me walking on the dirt path or I've become more adept at spotting them.  Sadly, I did find the body of the baby crow in the park on my way home.  It didn't appear to have been killed by a predator, rather I expect it died of hunger and/or thirst.  On a happier note, I did get one cell phone photo of the pelican on the pond.  It was feeding on something in the pond.

As I walked through the park on my way home, I spotted a pair of Hungarian partridges in the grass and with them, two wee babies - no more than 2 inches high.  I wished I'd had my camera with me then.  

I spent an inordinate amount of time this week deadheading. All of my flowers are blooming like crazy but the heat is causing them to wilt and dry up quickly too. 

This is a bellflower (which variety I'm not sure).  I had transplanted this bit from another part of the flower bed and am thrilled it has taken off.  There will be several blossoms along the stem - they do make a beautiful cut flower as well.  So rather than deadhead these I will cut the stems and bring them inside for a brief period of time.  

Afternoons were spent as I predicted, indoors and avoiding the daytime heat. I got started on the project D has asked me to make - I may share a photo depending on the outcome.  In addition, I finished another book.  This one, Manner of Death by Stephen White started a little slow but soon became a page turner.  I had to make myself set it down so I can get some things done around here! The story is a mystery, several suspicious deaths have occurred over a number of years involving a group of medical staff who worked and trained together in the psychology and psychiatry program for a few months.  Two members remain, and a pair of ex-FBI agents make contact with Dr. Gregory after the funeral of one of these colleagues.  While he is happily married, the other doctor who may be in danger is his first love, and they are thrown together to try to determine who the killer might be.  The story has many twists and turns - for this reader, there was no certainty who the murderer might be until the very end of the book.  But even then not all of the loose ends were tied up, so some things must be left to my imagination.  Even so, I will look for more novels by this author.

As for the heat, the week started about with daytime highs of 30C (86F) and rose steadily until Friday when the high reached 35C (95F). We didn't cool off much overnight either. We're expecting slightly cooler temperatures for the weekend (still in the 30's) and we may have thunderstorms later today. I'll take the rain any way I can get it.

While it has been very hot for us, I can only be grateful we didn't get the heat that parts of British Columbia did.   A small town, Lytton, B.C., reached a high temperature of 49.6C (121.3F) last week. Then on Wednesday, a forest fire tore through the small community and decimated almost the entire town. The fire moved so quickly that most people had only 10-15 minutes to evacuate, and at least two people died in the blaze.

Today I managed to get out to mow the lawn before it got too warm and watered the front flower bed while I enjoyed my breakfast on the patio.  I'm planning to spend the rest of the day indoors, with the cats, who have decided the sun room is too warm even for them.  Hmmm....a cat nap sounds good right about now.

Have a good week everyone!