Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Garden in August

Wandered around the garden.  Watched the robin families enjoy the mountain ash berries.

The black-eyed Susans are one of only a few flowers that survived this summer.
 Some kind of rot has destroyed my mother's iris.  Too sad for words.  It also destroyed my favourite balloon flower.

The mossy stump is thriving with all the rain we've had.

I've resorted to buying a couple of tiny boxes of annuals.
Although pretty, they make everything else that is dying look even worse.

This is the replacement miniature rose for the one killed in the hard winter.
 It seems like our summer never really kicked in this year. 
The weather has turned bleak today, cold and very windy. 
The clouds have that dark grey silvery brightness that tells of autumn.
I've decided to take a break from blogging.
I hope you all enjoy the rest of summer.

Monday, August 11, 2014


We did some different things in Algonquin Park this summer.  One of the interesting paddles we had was on Rock Lake.  There's a lot of visual interest on Rock Lake with its rocky shores, high cliffs and a wide river at the end that connects to another lake.  It's a fairly large lake too, so the winds kick up quickly.  We've been caught a few times in high waves here and have aborted our plans because of it.
This summer we decided to paddle around the lake as it was a nice calm day.  The water was like glass at times, and although it was hot, you can always dip feet and arms into the icy waters to cool down as you paddle along.
We wanted to see the pictographs painted on a rocky cliff alongside this lake.  We've seen similar images at Bon Echo campground, and although we knew the pictographs were here on Rock Lake, we'd never paddled over to see them.  The images have been painted on the rock cliffs by aboriginal peoples in the winter time when the lake is frozen .  I'd read that the images were difficult to see now, so we were quite happy to be able to find two fairly clear images when we arrived in our canoe and kayak.  The image is of a god-type creature with human form, but with rabbit-like ears.  The same image has been painted on the rocks at Bon Echo park.

Can you see it there?  Painted in red ...

The second best image was of three lines, almost like claw marks on the rock.  I don't know what they symbolize, and perhaps part of the image has been erased by time.

The pictographs at Bon Echo park are far more extensive, and there are small tours on a steady boat from the park that will take you over to look at them and the guide tells you more history of the paintings.  Sadly the images at Bon Echo are subject to damaging higher waves caused by motor boats.  Outboard motors are limited in size in Algonquin Park, but the images will one day be lost completely here too.
Thanks for stopping by!
Linking up with Judith's Mosaic Mondays
Mosaic Monday

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Big Beasties ... Bears & Moose!

A lot of people commented on the bear photo I posted while in Algonquin Park a couple of weeks ago.  We were actually driving along Hwy 60 which runs through the park, and I happened to see the bear on top of a rocky outcropping above the highway.  We turned the truck around and got out to take the photos.  I'm not claiming any sort of bravery here.  There wasn't much danger since our truck was close at hand.  I would not want to meet a bear on the trail, and thankfully that has never happened. 

We first just saw the mama bear snuffling through the rocks for grubs.  You can see her sharp claws against the rock.  And you can see she sees me, and is already wary.  It gives you a slight tingle up your spine when a black bear is watching you with those ears pricked up at every click of the camera.

But then out of the brush came the little romping cubbie bears!  So cute ;)  and there were two!  Can you see the cubs at the top of the hill?
I wish the photos had turned out a little more clearly.  I'm starting to wonder if there was some dust and smudges on my lens.  Anyway, here's a closer shot of one of the cubs.  They bounced more than ran with their floppy gambling legs.

It's not so often that we see bears in the park, so it was a real treat to see them this year.  We think we saw this same family a day or two earlier (again along the highway), but they were too far into the trees to get a good shot.  We've had a few bears in our campground, but usually nothing dangerous and the park warden is there lickety split to scare the bear back into the woods and to safety.  Seeing the bears in the campsite only means trouble for the bears.  Although the park tries to relocate them once they become "nuisance" bears, the bears often return to the same area again and the park is forced to destroy them.  It really is so important to store all your food and things a bear would enjoy out of their reach.  But so many people ignore the warnings and bears have a great sense of smell and find all sorts of food and garbage in campgrounds.

But this sighting was special, and I was happy to finally get a few good shots of the bear.

This is the big critter we usually see at the park ...

I love seeing moose!  We don't have them down where I live, and I'm in awe of their size, their long legs and huge velvety noses.  I would love to be able to pet one, and have sometimes been close enough to do it, but wouldn't dare.  I didn't actually see these two (above & below photos) and the photos were taken by my husband.  My husband and son had driven to the park store, and I decided to stay back at the trailer and relax alone for a half hour instead.  So I completely missed out on the viewing.  All week I waited to see another moose, but it came to our last day in the park, and still none had honoured me with a visit.

As we were leaving the campground with the trailer hitched up and boats strapped on top of the truck, what should we come upon but a "moose jam".  There were people all over the road and cars stopped in the road.  We couldn't move at all, so I quickly hopped out of the truck with camera in hand and happily snapped photos of this big young bull moose quietly lying down in the woods just off from the road.

The crowd of people became too much for him eventually, and he slowly and gracefully got those stilt legs underneath him and calmly walked out to a clearing for a late morning snack.

I was so happy to have been able to see this big beastie before we left ... it made the drive home a little less painful.  We won't be back in Algonquin Park until the fall now.  I could spend my entire summer up there, and maybe when I retire I'll just have to do that one time ;)

I hope you're all enjoying this last month of summer.  I've had house guests this past week and they're with me this next week too, but I've been trying to keep up with visiting most of you in stolen moments throughout the days.  Welcome to my new followers!  I'll swing by to see your blogs soon too.
Thanks for stopping by!
The smallest critter we saw in the park :)
Linking up with lovely Eileen's Saturday Critters
Saturday's Critters

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Good Fences ... Past Prime

I posted about a little mystery solved a while back here.  It was a pleasure to locate this small point and the former home (now removed) of the author of a book I read "A Life in the Bush".  As we crept along the path that followed the rocky shore of Lake of Two Rivers, we almost missed seeing an old fence now being absorbed into the landscape of pine trees and rocks.

I want to read the book again as I seem to recall mention of a fence here.  A fence to keep the young children from going too close to the lake water while the mother attended to daily chores.

Keeping track of children when you're surrounded by water must have been a chore in itself.  This point has smooth rocks at the shoreline ... both an invitation to play, and a danger should you slip and fall into the dark waters.  This fence must have been quite stout and secure in it's prime.  The fact that a portion of it is still standing after so many years through blazing hot summers and sub-zero winters is proof.  There are remnants of posts and rails scattered below this small rise.

I think everyone who has passed this bent spike has had a try at twisting it free.  But like King Arthur's sword, it remains locked in the wood until the right time, or until the right person can pull it out. 

The wire portion of the fence still has spring in it and made the "sproing!" that wire fences sing when you step on them.  The sound instantly took me back to my childhood when we would climb over the farmers' fences to hike through the fields and along the escarpment.  Such a familiar sound, not so often heard by me anymore.

The bolts on this fence were put in good and solid.  Can't you just imagine the original fence builder, home owner, tightening that bolt one last turn and thinking to himself "There! That's got it! It'll hold for years".  Well satisfied with the fence being built he turned himself to other matters and the fence did it's job for more years than he ever imagined ... and now that bolt, still tight, will forever sit here in this spot with the wood rotting beneath it.  The wire tangled around it.  The pine needles slowly covering it.  Until it's completely lost, just like the reason for building that fence in the first place. 

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Faux Sun Prints

I make these faux sun prints every summer now, and they're so easy for any kid (or adult!) to do.  The results are really cool, and can be used for a variety of things.  I posted about the technique last summer too, but at the risk of repeating myself, I'll go over it briefly again.

What you need:
  • a piece of cotton fabric (any size depending on what you're planning to make with it)
  • acrylic paints
  • water
  • wide paint brush
  • fresh green leaves (nothing too stiff)  I used: ferns, bleeding heart leaves, ginkgo leaves
  • a board to set the project on in the sun
Gather your leaves and have them ready.  You might want to arrange them on the fabric first to get them in a pleasing pattern.
Place the fabric on the board first so that you don't have to lift up the wet fabric later.
Water down the acrylic paint so it's quite runny.  Paint the fabric with this paint.  You can use only one colour, or do blotches of different colours ... whatever you (or your child) prefers.
Press the leaves top side down into the wet paint on the fabric.  Gently press all over the leaves to get them to stick down fairly well in the paint.  The better they are stuck in the paint, the clearer the image of them will be at the end.
Now set the board with the fabric and leaves in the hot sunshine.  It seems this is the most challenging part of this craft this summer.  We've had a lot of grey days here :[

Leave the fabric in the sun until completely dry ... this is the second most challenging part because everyone wants to peel them off before it's ready!  Resist the temptation.  Once the fabric is completely dry, peel off the shriveled leaves and your sun prints will be revealed like magic!!  How cool is this!
Ta Da!
We used the smaller cotton pieces as bookmarks, and then framed the larger pieces with these cool frames from the dollar store.  You could also use the pieces for a cushion cover.
Next I'll be showing how you can turn your child's art into a garden flag!
Seriously, how cute it this?  Drawn by a four-year old with professional results!  Stay tuned, and hopefully tomorrow I'll get that post up.
Thanks for stopping by!

Tiny Knitted Basket Tutorial

Quite a while ago, back in the spring, I knitted up these tiny baskets.  I said at the time that I would write out a pattern, and then I just got away from knitting and distracted with summer.  Today I thought I'd get that post finally finished up with the photos (it's been sitting in draft form for quite some time!).  So if you're interested, here you go.

Tiny Knitted Basket
(blue & white basket in above photo)
Size:  approx. 2 inches high (not including handle) and 2.5 inches across
Yarn:  cotton 4 ply (I used Bernat)
Needles:  set of 5 DPNs ... 3.75 mm (US 5)
  • cast on 4 sts
  • kfb of each stitch using a separate needle for each stitch (ie.  ending up with 2 sts on each of 4 needles)  8 sts
  • join to knit in the round
  • kfb of ea st  16 sts
  • k one round
  • *kfb, k1, repeat from * to end  24 sts
  • k one round
  • *kfb, k2, repeat from * to end  32 sts
  • k one round
  • *kfb, k3, repeat from * to end  40 sts
  • k one round
  • p one round
  • continue straight knitting until piece is about 2 inches high
  • With Cuff:  If you want to knit a cuff to fold over at the top of the basket, purl for another 7 rounds or so and then bind off
  • Without Cuff:  p one more round and then bind off
  • cast on 4 sts on DPN
  • k
  • p
  • k
  • p
  • now continue knitting in I-cord until handle is approximately 5 inches long
  • turn
  • p
  • k
  • p
  • bind off
  • attach handle to sides of basket using whip stitch 


Teeny Tiny Knitted Basket
Size:  approx. 1.5 inches high (not including handle), and 1 inch across

Yarn:  cotton ... I used some that was about sock yarn weight ... double strands
Needles:  set of 5 DPNs ... 3 mm (US 3)

  • Using double strands of yarn, cast on 4 sts
  • kfb of each stitch using a separate needle for each stitch (ie. ending up with 2 sts on each of 4 needles) 8 sts
  • join to knit in the round
  • kfb of ea st  16 sts
  • k one round
  • *kfb, k1, repeat from * to end  24 sts
  • k one round 
  • p one round
  • continue knitting in the round until the basket is the desired height (mine were about 1.5 inches high) 
  • on last round before binding off, p one round
  • bind off
  • Using double strands of yarn, cast on 3 sts on one DPN
  • k
  • p
  • k
  • now continue knitting to make an I-cord until handle is about 3.5 - 3.75 inches in length
  • turn; p
  • k
  • p
  • bind off

Each end of the handle should have a couple of rows in flat stockinette stitch.  Lay the flat ends on either side of the basket and whip stitch around to secure it to the basket.


Obviously, there are many ways to vary these patterns.  You can change the stitches along the way to add some interest to the basket.  I added a couple of rounds of seed stitch on some, and a round of purl on others.  You can change the yarn to add stripes as well.


Monday, August 04, 2014

This 'n That

I've been kinda busy lately.  After travelling home from Algonquin's camping, we had another week off just "relaxing" at home.  Always a bad idea as it turns into getting chores done rather than actually relaxing.  It took us until Wednesday to actually get out and do something.  We visited the Ripley's Aquarium in Toronto.  It was very cool, but I didn't take any photos.  Sometimes I just don't want to carry the camera around with me, I'd rather just enjoy the outing rather than feel obligated to capture every moment.  I haven't been to tourist attractions for a long while, and was a bit (just a bit) surprised that no one really uses cameras at these venues anymore ... all camera phones.  weird. 

The following day we headed down to Niagara Falls ...
Horseshoe Falls, Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada
I like going to Niagara and have been visiting this spot since I was a kid.  My father's relatives visiting from England were given the obligatory trip to the Falls most summers.  It's just a fun place to be.  There are some rather tacky areas downtown (Clifton Hill), but we avoid that and enjoy the falls themselves and the luscious gardens that are all along River Road alongside the Niagara River.
The Falls with Rainbow Bridge to the States on the left
 We did the touristy thing of going down the 100+ year old elevator that takes you to tunnels behind the falls.  So impressive.  The photo below shows the tunnel exit near the bottom of the falls. 

The tunnels aren't very extensive, but you walk out of them and stand right there beside the thundering waterfall! 

The blue raincoats keep you dry from the swirling mist.  I wish there was sound with this photo, as the falls just BOOM! beside you ... you have to yell at each other over the noise.
Inside the tunnels, the sound of the falls is so intense that you can actually feel the air reverberating.  This next photo is a section of closed tunnel, and it shows you what they looked like when they were first dug out.  It doesn't look all that safe structurally does it.

This area is barricaded off of course, and below is the actual tunnel where you walk ...

 This little portal door is directly behind the falls.  All you can hear is the thundering noise of the falls, and all you can see out the portal is a thick sheet of water and mist!

We had a good day down at the Falls, and rather than hop right back on the highway at the end of our long day, we travelled along the River Road that borders the Niagara River.  Lots of historical stuff down that way (Laura Secords homestead, Fort George, Brock's Monument), and although the attractions were all closed by the time we drove by, we thought it would be nicer to visit all that rather than the actual falls another time.  Below is the whirlpool with the cable car that runs back and forth above it.  I would not get on this cable car in a million years!  I hate this kind of stuff and always think the cables will snap!
 We also stopped at the butterfly conservatory, but I won't show you all the beautiful butterflies.  My husband had the camera that day, and I just pointed at the butterflies I liked best and he snapped the shots. 
All the goodness of the day was spoiled, however, when a driver of an extra long dump truck was driving over the Skyway Bridge in Hamilton (with his box UP!!!!), and he drove it straight into the overhead supports of the bridge.  Brilliant.  He was drunk.  Thankfully no one was hurt, but the damage to the supports was substantial and the bridge was closed.  Since our route back home normally takes us over that bridge, we had an hour's detour through Hamilton, up top of the escarpment, then back down the escarpment and past an area where my mother's family once lived.  Hamilton is not the prettiest city to drive through :[  ... even with the added bonus of saying "that's where Grandma grew up" as we headed down the Jolly Cut.  So a bit tedious to drive 3 hours home.
The next day my brother and his two boys arrived for a visit from Victoria, BC!  Yeah!!  My son and his two cousins get along so well, and they all love to see each other again after many months apart.  We spent a lovely Saturday in our backyard in the hot sunshine.  The kids dipped in and out of the pool, and we all joined in a very looOOOooooong game of Risk.  Have you ever played this board game?  It's addictive, and everyone wants to take over the entire world!!  Such a nice way to spend a lazy summer day on the patio with drinks and chips and BBQ etc. etc.
The following day we all headed to my sister's place and celebrated my dear old dad's 91st birthday.  He was so very confused though.  It wasn't his actual birthday, and he didn't quite understand the cake and candles or our singing to him at all.  My evening was spent going over everyone's names for him again and again and again.  It was nice to see everyone together again though. 
I hope you all enjoyed your weekend!  Back to work tomorrow after a long weekend for us here.
Thanks for stopping by!

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