Thursday, 29 March 2012

Not Enough Coffee

This is the latest capture from the Trail Cam - a last year's fawn posing most beautifully. This shot also reminds me that it is time to move the feed cans to the shed before a black bear comes along, rips the lids off and overdoses on corn.

 It's a cold, blustery typical late March day, quite a come-down after last week's halcyon weather. I feel that I should be out wrapping little scarves around the neck of each too-early daffodil bud. The robins who were running the lawn last week are huddled, disconsolate and braced against the wind. The YD's dog however, is out surveying her domain, snug and smug in her winter coat, decorated with raspberry canes and muddy leaves.

I have just paged through the morning paper, second coffee in hand, and am bemused by some of the political articles therein. An MP (Member of Parliament) has been removed from a committee for sleeping through a presentation to it. MP Justin Trudeau (PET light) is posing in trunks to publicize a charity boxing match set up with a Senator whose arm is a mass of tattoos - and muscle. Justin may get his already messy hair further mussed. Newt Gingrich is running out of campaign money but promising to stay in the campaign and I cannot imagine what he hopes to gain except huge debt. A strange man - a plausible, fluent speaker without any discernible self-discipline. Are all politicians egos on two flat feet, or am I unusually cranky this morning. Maybe a third cup of coffee?

I went shopping yesterday and bought five pair of trousers to replace the ones presently in my closet that are all one or two sizes too big. I've been on a bit of a weight loss campaign and am now balanced on the size cusp between one size is sloppy and the next one down is almost too tight. I figure that wearing the almost-too-tight stuff will motivate me to lose a few more inches of flab off the butt and waist. I hope. A better motivator would be to get rid of all the this-size-is-sloppy garments and be faced with the choice of eat less or go around in my undies. And they also need replacing, trusty white cotton baggies that they are. Luckily our local store had a whole rack of stuff on sale yesterday.

I came home from this expedition exhausted. I've never been much of a fan of clothes shopping, frankly, and the older and crankier I get, the more I don't enjoy it. I have also had to shop for a dress to wear to a family wedding coming up this weekend. The styles in the shops just now strike me as terminally ugly. Skirts above the knee ( I did this in the sixties but never again), ruffles, asymmetrical hemlines, drapes of fabric across the bust and belly, all presented in slinky, wild-coloured knits or dismal shades of grey. I did find a nice sheath dress in a handsome shade of turquoise, but there was only one left and it was a size I could not wear. So, I have a skirt and top in wild colours that caused my poor husband to blink and visibly swallow his comment. It is faintly slinky, too, since it is the almost-too-tight size. At least I have shoes I can wear with it. And I hope not to be in another clothing store until fall.

The wonderful taste of spring we had last week has been a horrible blow to the maple syrup producers in our neighbourhood. By rights this should be the height of their season, but the trees budded out too early in the heat and most of them got only one or two really good days of sap production. My closest neighbours have twenty percent of what they usually make and, since the maple products produce the bulk of their income, are facing a year of financial stress. Or, rather, of more than usual financial stress. The farmers of all sorts in this part of the world have had bad weather conditions, low prices for their crops and high production costs for the last decade, mostly. They are not doing at all well and need regular assistance from government to survive at all. Under the present austerity measures just imposed by our deeply indebted province, and the ones expected from the federal government today, I am very afraid that a lot of them will go under. And when they do we will all be a lot poorer, as well as eating food imported from the agri-giants.  

There had better be no Members of Parliament sleeping through this budget or too battered by a better boxer to listen.
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Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Running Water

This is the Clyde River at Herron Mills, not quite in spate, but pretty close.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Quick melt.

These  shots are all from the 'trail camera' we have rigged at the deer feeding station. Take a look at how the snow retreats from the first shot on March 14th to the latest taken this morning.

 I was coming back from a meeting in the village late this afternoon when I looked across one of the marshy areas along the road and spotted these Tundra swans. They were a good way off - this shot is the extreme of the telephoto on my Coolpix P7000. Since I take all my photos at high resolution, I was able to crop the shot to give you a better look at them. You can tell a Tundra swan from a snow goose by the black beak.
Unfortunately you cannot do this identification when the birds are directly over your head, so I guess I will never know which type of bird were the four that glided across the trail just above me the other day, heading for, I guess, our neighbour's beaver pond. My impression was simply that they are really big birds.

I now have over a dozen croci and squilla out in the border and the heat wave (thanks, Texas, I guess) is predicted to continue until the weekend. At supper JG counted six or seven mosquitoes on the screen next to where he sits, staring in at him.

Ah, spring.

Monday, 19 March 2012

Cake and Bones

The last time I checked, it was still officially winter. You would not know this in eastern Ontario this morning, however. We are having a heat wave. In the last few days the snow has mainly turned to water and poured away into streamlets, the robins and chickadees have begun singing their spring calls, the woodpecker next door is banging out love songs on the metal chimney and my bulbs are showing tiny green tips. Wave after wave of Canada geese has honked away overhead, no doubt discussing where the open water is as they speed north. It is supposed to reach 22ยบ C today and be even warmer and sunnier through the week.

This incredible weather has had one good effect for me. One of my organizations held a fund raiser on Saturday, a St Patrick's Day lunch with a story telling event by Mary Cook.  Because of the wonderful weather, we had a perfect turnout. All the tickets sold and we were actually over booked to the point that I had to turn several people away to reserve enough lunch to serve the kitchen staff and the speaker and her husband. (I had given a plate of sandwiches to her husband for Mary since she was mobbed by fans after she finished speaking; her husband ate them, though.)

Although the soup and sandwiches were a bit tight at the end, the dessert table was well stocked. We had lots and lots of dessert, including four St Patrick's Day themed cakes that I had made on Friday - just in case we ran short. In fact, I brought the remnants of one cake home, to the delight of my family. It meant two busy days for me, one baking and shovelling the spilled sugar and flour off the kitchen floor and on the day of the event being both kitchen staff and event manager, the latter without much help from noon on. I ended up ripping off my apron and climbing up to the stage to thank the speaker and explain the lunch line to the audience, then whipping it back on again to serve soup.

There are one or two downsides to this weather, however. It is quite probably going to spoil the maple syrup season. Syrup makers need temperatures that drop five Celsius degrees below 0 at night and climb about an equal distance above 0 during the day, since in that range the tree sap retreats in the cold and pumps back up in quantity the next day. In really mild weather the trees start acting as if it is really much later in the season and start to bud out the new leaves. When they do this, the composition of the sap changes from simple sugars to something more complex that tastes and smells a bit like rotting broccoli and is not usable.

The other downside is mud, in massive quantities. When you are looking after a big, white dog that loves water, this means that the downside of the house is liberally splattered with mud, twigs and bits of flotsam. We dog-sat last week and I think, due to the incredible travelling schedule the YD is being forced to run, we are getting the dog back on Wednesday for another ten days or so. I will have to lay in more bones.

Mostly, though, this weather is a treat and a welcome respite from our normal wet and cold early spring.

I have just been out policing the yard, picking up well chewed dog bones, wet seed husks and other debris. Checked the perennial garden and found a brave little yellow crocus in full bloom. Life is good.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Seeing Red

I love red. The grandkid's French description of me included 'aime la couleur rouge' and she was not talking about makeup. I wear a lot of red and notice it. Mind you, red is a colour made to be noticed: stop lights and stop signs, lipstick, warning labels, all of these things are red. So are Santa, sunsets and cinnamon hearts. 

The problem is, what red?
The soil and rocks in Utah and Colorado are described as red. So is a lot of brick, but it is really an orangey, um, brick colour. 
Autumn leaves are also sung about as red, but, again, a lot of them are shaded with enough yellow to make them bronze and orange. 
My elder daughter's hair is described as red, but it is really a gorgeous copper colour when the sun shines on it. My father-in-law was nicknamed 'Red' for similar hair, but his was truly a carrot top.

The red I love has no tinge of yellow or blue - it's right down the centre of the spectrum. Alizarin crimson or rose madder, not vermilion or scarlet. The red of roses and raspberries. The red of blood.

I will consider other reds, especially if they decorate a canoe. 
The YD, spring canoeing.
 Or a tulip. 

 Or a geranium seen against green leaves.

I'll take every shade and tone of red in a sunset's fleeting glory. 
Sunset from Vancouver Island.
This week my husband brought me home roses, deep red and perfect.

 I have them in a white vase and admire them as they slowly unfurl into velvet wonder.  As for other velvet wonders, what could top this?
Little Stuff, Age 8 months.
I will say that roses are easier to photograph.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Coming in Like ......

 Lion, lion, roaring white
Through thrashing forests all the night,
What quirk of heated sea or air
Unleashed you from your winter lair.

About a six inch dump of snow and it is still coming down. With freezing rain mixed in. Welcome, March Lion.

Why could the wretched animal not have arrived in January.