Tuesday, October 28, 2014

A Very Sad Day

Remembering Cpl. Nathan Cirillo.  
Thoughts and prayers with his family today during his funeral service in Hamilton.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Ghost Stories

October's chill and darkening days bring to mind that the spookiest night of the year is close on our heels.  Plain Jane has invited everyone to share any ghost stories they may have.  She has a couple of stories herself that get the goosebumps rising on the arms, and makes you want to firmly close the cellar door!

My own ghost story involves a clock.

It also involves my dear grandmother, long dead and buried, and my mother (Violet), at the time of this story only recently passed away.

I've mentioned before that I helped my parents clear out all kinds of stuff from their country home in order to move into a house about a third of the size.

the country home
One thing that my mom was getting rid of was this little clock that was her mother's 
(my grandmother ... also named Violet).

Apparently, my grandmother was quite proud of her little clock.  She wasn't a wealthy woman, but the clock was something special.  I've never known the clock to be in working order, but at one time the clock had been sent to a clock maker for repairs. Inside is written our old address by the clock repair shop. 

My dad liked to fidget with all kinds of things, and quite frankly, he fidgeted with any special heirlooms of my mother's until they were ruined.  This clock was one such item. It used to have those nice sweeping curved wooden sides, but my dad chopped them off and put on these ugly straight sides.  I remember him in later years trying to get the clock working himself to no avail.  The convex glass of the door was missing, as were the hands. It was, as my mother often used to say "a source contention" between them. 

The clock sat on top of Mom's china cabinet all those years ... silent ... disfigured. The clock works were no longer even secured to the inside of the clock, 

but sat loose behind the little door in back.

I was rather sad when I saw the clock in a pile of things that Mom was throwing out. It showed she had given up on it ever being properly repaired. I decided to rescue it and bring it home with me.  I didn't tell Mom, and I just set it on my own bookshelf for a few more years as a little curio.

After Mom passed away and I started this blog, I decided to make something out of the clock, and brought it off the shelf and set it on the kitchen counter to have a better look at it and clean it up.

I took out the clock works and set them on the counter.  There's something old-world about clock works.  The cogs, the wheels, the springs and winders.  So complex yet all married together to mark the minutes in a carefully engineered way.  A bygone treasure.

As I was admiring the clock works, I suddenly had a strange sensation that there was a presence behind me.  I got a slightly shivery feeling across my shoulders that I was being watched ... I was not alone. Instantly I felt that behind me were Grandma and Mom, but I didn't put any more into it than that, and I didn't turn to look behind me.  And then, without warning, the clock works all started to move!  All the little cogs and wheels began to whir and spin, and I looked at it closer, quite fascinated.

It made barely a whisper as it came to life. It was beautiful with every little shiny golden wheel spinning all through the works. I watched as the springs gradually unwound on either side.  It was quite surreal as we three watched (for I'm sure two others watched with me ... perhaps with a shared smile).  It took a few minutes for the clock works to finally wind down and again be still and silent.

There was a small "key" that could be turned to wind up the clock, and although I wound the key gently, it wouldn't work again.  Once the clock wound down, I no longer had a feeling that anyone else was with me.  But I'm sure I had company moments before.  I've never felt that sensation again. It wasn't a scary thing, but a comforting thing, for I loved both of those women dearly.  Sadly, the cogs haven't spun since.

And if you were wondering what it was I wanted to do with the clock ...

I thought the clock looked very much like a little home with it's intriguing curved back door.  I had a tiny stuffed mouse that once belonged to my infant son.  I removed the clock works, and the clock has now become a secret house for a tiny mouse.

It still sits on my bookshelf, but only my son and I know what's actually inside it ;)

So there you go.  My one and only "ghost" story.  Jane has invited everyone to share and join in the fun.  If you want to read more, pop over to Plain Jane and see what other's have been saying.

Thanks for stopping by!


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A Bit of Gardening Colour

These days filled with fall colour don't last long.  And with this weird autumn weather, some trees are still fully green, while others have turned colour and dropped all their leaves!  You really have to be watching to capture the changes as they whiz by in a flash.  This morning the rain has held off, but the clouds are still heavy.  I tip toed out with my camera in a bit of a misty morning with the neighbours watching from their kitchen, snug with hands wrapped round coffee mugs and enjoying watching the strange lonely lady next door on knees and hanging upside down taking photos ... what a nut.

But hopefully you'll all understand what you have to go through to get close up and personal with your garden. It's not so nice though when everything is damp and cold.

First off is my favourite burning bush in the front yard.  This is such a beautiful bush, and if you can grow it in your area, I highly recommend it.  It doesn't require trimming, loves full hot sun, and in the fall it comes into it's own with spectacular deep red.  Yesterday's non-stop rain is still clinging to the leaves.

I never did get to planting a border of bushes along the lot line with my neighbour this summer.  It's still something I want to do though.  I'm torn between adding more burning bushes, or some bridal wreath.  But being more of a fall person rather than spring, I think I'd prefer to see a nice row of crimson along the border in fall, rather than a row of white in spring.

I thought the soft autumn colours were nice from my front door ... 

There are still a few surprises in the garden this week.  Although most of my coneflowers are looking pretty worn, there were three dahlias looking bright and cheery, even after the deluge of rain yesterday and the cold temperatures.  Aren't they pretty for this time of year?

The lavender is just about finished too.  There wasn't too much to harvest this year, but I'm hoping to see a big change next year with all the plants I put in for my lavender hedge.

A small bed of begonias are going strong too.  I've noticed begonias are actually quite strong and last longer than most flowers in my garden.  You'd think they'd be quite tender with their fleshy stems.

My mossy stump looks fantastic in the dark wood chips and browning ferns.  I'm so happy with that little experiment and if I can find another stump, I might make another one ... there's lots of moss growing thick on the north side of my garden shed.

The ferns themselves look beautiful as they fade from green, to yellow, to brown.  I really like the dark brown pods(?) that come up in the centre of some of the ferns.  Not sure what they are exactly, but they look so striking against the other softer shades.

This last photo is for my friend Stacy.  You see my friend, not only did I take a few photos this morning, but I also dug up my pretty pink petunia (which I've kept going for two summers now), and it's ready to come indoors again ;)  Thank you for that last bit of encouragement you gave me recently Stacy, it was just the push I needed to get this simple task done!

Now all the plants that I wanted to save are indoors, and the rest can come to a graceful end outside because I don't have room for any more in here!  The patio furniture is packed away, the shed is organized once again, and the pond is was drained (but is now full of rain water again ... but that's my son's job), and my little gurgling fountain which the birds loved so much this summer is put away till next year. Time to get some birdseed for my winter birds.  The thistle seed eaters seem to have all flown south now.  I've seen herons and turkey vultures migrating away from us too.  It's coming.  Wish us luck!

Thanks for stopping by today!


Monday, October 20, 2014

Mosaic Monday

Today is very rainy, grey and cold.  Not so nice, and not good for taking any photos!  I did want to get out there and take advantage of some fall colour happening in my yard (just small stuff), but the weather wasn't in my favour.  These are from last week ... some fall colours and fading blooms.

Linking up with Judith at Lavender Cottage for her Mosaic Mondays.


Friday, October 17, 2014

Burning Candles

I know I'm not alone when I say I like to burn candles in the house.  Now that fall has arrived (even though we're still sitting at mid 20'C these past weeks!), it gives us all the excuse to light those tapers once again and create a warm ambiance in the evenings.  I light a couple of pillar candles during supper each night to give a cozy glow round the kitchen table.  Even though the temperatures remain warm outdoors, the light is fading fast by 5:30 p.m. here.

But with all this candle burning, eventually the candles won't light anymore once the wick is far down a hole of melted wax.  I've saved the unused portion of candles with the intention of melting them down into new candles eventually.  I recently tackled that business using a tin can set in a pot of boiling water, a waxed milk carton for the mold, some purchased wick and a lot of masking tape.  I ended up with four square(ish) candles just in time for our Thanksgiving dinner.

I don't like having candles sitting directly on wooden funiture, so off to the thrift store where I found perfect clear glass holders for my square candles at only $2 a piece.  I believe these were originally used by florist's shops for small bouquets.  And once I put the candles into the holders, I thought maybe I should get some of those glass beads to add round the bottom of the candles.  But then remembered I had a lot of small collected stones sitting on the patio (I'm a self-confessed rock hound and have rocks and stones all over the place here).  So I rinsed off the stones of bugs and debris and brought them inside and this is what graced our Thanksgiving table ...

I really like the natural stones because they're all from our area and just remind me of sitting by lakes in the summer and fall.  

My daughter and her roommates burn a lot of candles at their house too, so she asked me to make her a candle to take back with her.  I had just enough wax from one last candle to make another for her.

I find the scent is a bit diminished with reusing the wax, but it still casts the same glow.  I also melted several different scented candles together since they were all fairly similar, and they came out fine. With only the cost of the glass holders, I had everything else, and saved myself about $30 by making these myself.  

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Misty Morning Camping ... Photo Intense

NOTE:  For brighter fall colours of northern Ontario, see this post.

Our second day of camping, I woke my husband up really early, and we took off along Hwy 60 through Algonquin Park to watch the sun rise and to get some early morning misty photos.  I tried rousing my son, but he was quite happy to enjoy his comfy bed for a while longer.

When we drove past the above Lake of Two Rivers at 7:00 am, we were staring at a blank wall of mist.  It wasn't until a couple of hours later when we drove past again that we got this shot.  I believe this is the most-photographed lake along the highway in the fall.  The far side of the lake has spectacular fall colour right across, and the highway runs right alongside, so it's a real eye-catcher.

All along Hwy 60 there are beautiful little waterways.  Most of these next photos were taken just on the roadside.  We didn't see any wildlife, except for one poor female moose who had been struck by a car in the early morning fog ... telltale skid marks on the pavement.  Poor thing was dead on the side of the road.  I just love moose with their gangly legs and monstrous heads, so it was so sad to see the moose that morning.

There was a real chill in the air, but you could also feel the sun warming things up as it started to burn off the mist ... it was going to be another unseasonably warm day.

The highway is only two lanes, and as you can see below, there's not much of a shoulder to park your vehicle.  But that doesn't stop masses of people from pulling over wherever there are some brilliantly coloured trees.  This is why we went out so early to avoid all the craziness later.

The park is in the Algonquin Highlands of Ontario, so there are many high hills and low valleys.  The mist was thick in the valleys as you can see from the above (just barely you can see the tops of hills above the mist in the far distance), and below photos.

Who could resist travelling along this beautiful road?

I was so glad my husband was willing to make so many stops for me to take these photos.  Usually he's not so agreeable :[  We only saw about five other cars on the road ... most people were doing the same thing we were.  There were small huddles of people every so often with their cameras on tripods waiting for the sun to rise and lift the mist off the water just so.  The lenses on their cameras were mind boggling!  I'm seriously thinking I should have stopped and asked if I could take a photo of the people beside their lens ;)  

I don't have a massive lens on my camera, and I like to think that it's not always the camera that sees (and gets!) the nice shots.  I didn't use a tripod with any of these either.  My husband can be an impatient kind of fella, so while he waited in the truck, I would quickly assess the view before me, look through the lens for the shot, maybe take a step a little forwards or backwards, and snap the shot. Then I'd run back to the truck and we'd drive along till I saw the next photo opportunity.

As the sun rose, the mist disappeared and the colours became more vibrant.

There are all kinds of sideroads that lead into trail parking lots, and other park utilities.  The trees are gorgeous alongside the roadways since the sun can toast their leaves into brilliance.

The above service road led to a picnic area where I got a few shots of Lake of Two Rivers before a breath of wind made a ripple on the water (below).  I took these two shots the day before on our way to our hike, not the early morning drive.  There was only one man at the end of the lake here (crowds of people had stopped along the highway on the right), and you can see the attraction for everyone of this lake.  

There is one drawback to camping in Algonquin.  There's always a lot of driving up and down the highway to get to the hiking trails and the various lakes for canoeing, and there aren't any gas stations in the park.  Well, I should say you can get gas at a couple of outfitters stores, but it costs more.  On this misty morning, we decided to fill up with gas in Whitney just outside the east end of the park. This beautiful little lake is on the east end ... so pristine.

And then in Whitney, it was so misty, you couldn't see much of anything.  I thought this was a cool shot through the windshield (such a cheat!). It was Sunday morning, and the church bells were chiming which just added to the effect.

On our way back, we stopped at our recently located mystery spot at Lake of Two Rivers.  It didn't disappoint.

Gorgeous silent views, not a breath of wind, no water lapping, and we were the only two on the point.

What a beautiful spot to have had a log cabin all those years ago, and watch the sun rise every morning through these very trees.

I wouldn't want the morning quietude to end ... I didn't want it to end on this particular morning either.

But the mist kept rising, and the sun grew hotter, and we finally had to make our way back to our campsite for some breakfast.

So we said goodbye to the only other living creature we saw ... this massive spider hanging over the water! ... and drove away.

We camp in Canisbay Lake campground within the park.  There are some beautiful views right within the campground too.  This is a particularly boggy section that is off the beaten track.  My dog loves this spot and I let him off the leash to run ahead.  I like to move a little slower through here so that a) I don't step into soggy bog disguised as firm ground covered in moss, and b) there are so many spider webs through here in the morning, that I don't want to walk through them, and I also want to photograph them ;)

We don't usually take our own canoe on the fall trips because we just don't have time to hike and canoe, but another time (when we retire), we'll take the canoe and enjoy a paddle round a few lakes as well ... when I see the lakes like this, I just want to get out there.

Well, if you made it this far I'm glad.  I hope I didn't take up too much of your morning ;)  I guess I'm making up for not being on the blog for the past month or so, but I make no apologies because I do like to share my favourite place with all of you and I hope you don't mind.

Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you all have a wonderful day ahead of you.

A campsite ... they all looked like this that weekend ... magnificent!!
Roadway through the campground
Canisbay Lake park office ... such a stunning welcome!

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