Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

All the best to you and your loved ones in the coming year.  I hope you have a wonderful, warm and happy Christmas.
It was a warmish, rainy day.  I put out the humming bird food.(This is a photo from 2 years ago, Feb.)  Made the Christmas pudding with rum sauce.  We are fortunate and thankful to have good health, happiness, friends and live in a paradise.
I hope for Peace in the trouble spots of our world.  I believe this starts within the heart and mind of every individual.  I hope for a more even distribution of the wealth of the world.  With the world economy in a shambles, now would be a good time to consider starting from a clean slate, with a view to using only what we need, and having enough for everyone.  It IS possible.  We have the capability to get to the moon and space.  Google has the ability to look up my driveway and into my windows.  Surely we can use this computing power to organize our distribution of food, medical attention, and help in catastrophic climatic spots, as well as settling political unrest and injustice.  Peace!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The sunshine coast

While waiting to catch the ferry from Victoria (Schwartz Bay) to Vancouver (Tsawwassen) on Dec. 8th I caught a snapshot of this line up of cormorants.
After arriving at Tsawwassen ferry terminal we drove across Vancouver and met our friends at the Capilaino Mall.  We spent the night on the Wall Mart lot.  The best we could do for dinner there was the Red Robin.  There was some shopping including a large hippo and a singing hippo by Dan.  In the morning we navigated to the Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal and caught the ferry to Langdale.  We drove to Gibson's Landing  where it is a must to have lunch at Molly's Reach.  We visited the information center and walked out on the pier.  The sky was overcast with bits of rain.  The above photo is looking out the window of Molly's Reach out to the marina.  In the summertime, the Sunshine Coast is a paradise.
After a bit of time at Gibson's we go Sechelt and a campground and go then go back to Sechelt with the Hagarmobile- This is the Airstream.  They bring their dog, Hagar with them.  The above photo is the sunset from the walkway along the beach, just at the Driftwood Inn.  The Driftwood is not open to diners so we go back to Gilligans Pub for our dinner.  Get back to the campsite and have icecream and talk over our plans for the next day.  The showers were locked and there was no one around this campsite to take our money, although their note said they would be back by 9:00.
In the morning we breakfast in Sechelt and head to Earl's Cove to catch the ferry to Saltry Bay (about 50 minutes) We drive into Powell River and find the Tree Frog Bistro for a most delicious lunch!  Then onward to Lund.  .. more photos of this later, perhaps.
After lunch we drive a very challenging road to Lund.  The light is awesome but there is no where to stop for photos and we want to get to Lund before dark if possible.  We book into the historic Lund Hotel and our friends get the Hagermobile plugged in out on the parking lot by the marina. I finally get a good shower! We have dinner at the Fish and Chips restuarant. 
In the morning we have a leisurely start.  This slower start leaves us arriving at Egmont in the dark.  We get situated in the campsite and into the Back Eddy pub for our dinner.  There is someone else having a birthday celebration here.  Quite a few people.  In our corner by the pool table there are some guys from Jasper who are going to kayak the Skookumchuck Narrows Tidal surge.
We start at 8:00 in the morning and get to the head of the hiking trail to walk to the lookout over the Skookumchuck Narrows.  Its raining lightly.  We have our umbrellas.  Its a 3.5 miles round trip through a glorious rain forest.
After our walk we go back to the Back Eddy pub for brunch and there are only hambergers available.  We then start back home.  This is a pretty long day, with the Langdale to Horshoe Bay, and a quick trip across Vancouver to catch the ferry at Tsawwassen to Schwartz Bay.  We have our dinner on board the 5:00 o'clock ferry and arrive home and unpack.  There has been some heavy rainfall in Victoria while we were gone.  All is okay at our place.
This is my youtube rendition of the Skookumchuck tidal flow.  I did not catch any of the kayakers in my video, but they were out there playing.
Edit:  Let me see if I can make this into a hot link:  Skookumchuck Narrows video click here

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

This and that

This gorgeous lace cap hydrangea is not in my garden, but I sure wish it was!
Yesterday I planted the 32 tulip bulbs I had purchased about a month ago.  I filled one of the old grey big pots and added 6 tulips to it.  This pot is going to sit on the deck and have basil growing in it.  Buying basil leaves for our new found pesto habit is expensive.    The rest of the tulip bulbs which are a pastel mix have been planted along the driveway.  These tulips are in a single row... I hope they expand quickly or they are going to look rather silly.  I should have planted them in clumps, but this is a very narrow garden bed and the area I have to plant is in front of the cedar hedge.  I have a nice bunch of perennial geraniums along part of this strip along the driveway.  I should get more of them.  They are tough and look good all year. 
We are to get more rain tonight and for a few days.  We were to have high winds.  We had that for just a few minutes and it calmed down again.
I put more apples out for the deer.  They do seem to eat them.  Something eats them.  I still have quite a few to gather up.  There are still some apples on the tree, too. 

Friday, December 03, 2010

More Hatley Castle in November #4

A few more photos from Hatley Castle in November Autumn Colors.  These are a few photos from the Italian Garden.  This is just the 'bones' of this garden at this time.  It is a riot of color in Spring and Summer. Nice bones, though!

Yesterday I finally got out to the garden.  I raked leaves off the paths in the front garden and put them onto the beds as mulch for the winter.  There are still leaves on the liquid amber tree that will be again covering the paths.  I raked the leaves and apples off the back grass.  Also took a bag of the apples over to the deer pasture.  Pat has been seeing a one year old buck in the mornings.  I have not seen it yet, but I did see a doe sashaying down the street early one morning.  It left the deer pasture and crossed the street and carried on up the short block to the park on the other side of our house.  The deer have 2 streets to cross to get from park to park area.  We shouldn't have too many accidents, I hope.  These deer never bother my plants.  I guess they have better food in the parks. My back yard is difficult for them to access, also.
I still have 32 tulips on the deck that need planting.  I have a bag of potting soil left over from the orange tree transplants.  I think I might set up one of my old plastic pots on the deck for some of the tulips and for basil plants when it warms up in the spring.  I have learned how to make pesto and we like it! 

My site counter stopped working properly a few days ago.  But, tonight, it is working again.  It is showing a lower number of hits, but I understand these meters are not always accurate. Actually the hits don't matter much to me, as this blog is primarily for my own interests. I will blog, and facebook to promote our Megashot, but I refuse to twitter.  Enough is enough.  :-)

On Megashot we now have videos to promote the photos in the contests and on our facebook page.  The videos are on YouTube and I have started an archival community on Megashot to record all the videos produced by Cyrus for Megashot.  The last ones are looking really good.  They have music synched to the display of photos and text.  You can view them on youtube or on Megashot in the Movies on Megashot Community          Click the hot link and go to each discussion thread to see them.  Also on the front page of the community there is a playlist. You can click on the playlist and see the categories of the videos and watch them from the play list.  On youtube you should be able to see them full screen.  See the list in the side bar for more megashot. net videos on this hot link.

The last photo, is the top of the water heater we just had replaced.  The pipe where the hot water leaves the tank was totally corroded and rusted.  The plumber, Vern was amazed that we even had any hot water pressure left at all.  The pressure was normal as far as we could tell.  We are very lucky that Pat caught this before we had a great flood.  We now have a 60 gal. tank too, which should let the 4 of us go through the shower without running out of hot water.

I made more squash soup today and have frozen 2 jars and have another in the fridge.  I gave Tara a jar of pickled peppers and pickled beets.  I made the mustard bean pickles, but they did not turn out as well as they should have.  The taste is good, but the beans should have been cooked more.  They are a bit tough.  I suppose I could microwave them in the jar. This would not hurt the consistency of the mustard sauce.

Life is really very good on the wet west coast.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Hatley Castle in early November

More of the spectacular color out at Hatley Castle earlier this November.
There is still a bit of snow and it is coolish.  I finally have a day rescheduled for my visit to Royal Jubilee.  This is running into the time when we do our annual celebration with Dan and Irene, but its the busy season. 
We now have movies of some of the winners of the photos on our Facebook connection.  The next ones will be the Contests photos of the day for each level of the Landscapes Contest and the Black and White contest.  We will have one of all the contest winners of the year, too.  Have a look at my journal on my megashot page to see these marvelous creations.
Yesterday, I cleaned up the light garden a bit and watered all.  I have two phalenopsis in bloom and several African violets.  The little orange trees that I transplanted a few days ago seem to all be surviving. 

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Birds at the feeder

The starling, the rufous sided towhee, and the fox sparrow are all usually ground feeders, but having a look at the feeder is always an option for them.  There was a Flicker on the deck railing but I did not get a good photo.  Actually none of the photos are that good.  The back garden is just teeming with birds.  There were juncos, and house finches, house sparrows, alaska and western robins, and I have probably missed some. 
I have four pint jars of very yummy pickled peppers and 3 of pickled beets.  These pickles are really easy to make.  There is no salt in them just lots of sugar, vinegar and pickling spice. 
Megashot continues to grow steadily, and there is lots to do on the site!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Snow! You ARE kidding!

Two days ago, we had snow over night making it a bit cold and nasty. The liquid amber tree still has most of its leaves.  Some snow froze to the leaves and then the wind got blowing.  There are a couple of branches broken.  Not too bad considering the snow load.   There were robins and lots of other birds in the back garden this morning.  I had told Grace that the birds were not eating the berries off the strawberry tree.  Well, just to make a liar out of me, today the robins were scarfing down all the berries.  I guess they needed that frost to make them into the ice berry of the season. I brought in the humming bird feeder and added some hot stuff to unthaw it.  The two hummers are zipping around out there in the 0 to 5 degree temperatures, same as usual.
I have made up more pesto.  Tomorrow should be a a few pans of cabbage rolls with some to freeze.  My freezer compartment is full.  I will have to rearrange things to make anything more fit.  Tonite we had some of the purple plums I had frozen from 2009.     They were delicious.  And some of the ready made seafood chowder... its ok     has too many different tastes in it.  I added canned fish and seafood.   Next time just fish or clams and not too many of either.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

More Hatley Castle in November

More photos from the Japanese / Woodland garden at Hatley castle in November, showing good autumn colors.
I managed to get quite a lot of things done today.  I was busy all day.  I moved the potting soil and a bag of compost up to the deck.  These steps are really treacherous right now, in the wet weather.  I used this soil and a bit of bone meal in the 7 pots where I transplanted the orange trees. I grew these trees from pits and have been meaning to move them out of the big flower pot for years, it seems.  Now I have them in pots that I can keep in the house and hopefully they will grow and produce oranges.  I repotted two of the orchids and cleaned up one of the shelves.  I hope these orange trees thrive. Between the pots and the trays, I have $10.00 invested in each one of them, not to count the cost of soil and time to do this.
I moved several clumps of Sicilian Mint from the stepping stones at the back to the stone path at the front.  Hopefully the mint will spread.  A year ago I cleaned up this path at the front and so the little clover and other weeds should find it even more difficult to grow between the stone, when the mint is established. 
I cleaned the kitchen window so as to get better photos of birds hopefully.  When I was out in the garden in the morning there were more birds... fox sparrows, alaska robins,  the juncos and humming birds, robins, saagulls and crows, of course.  I have heard flickers and caught a glimpse of a downey woodpecker at the suet feeder. 
Megashot is growing like crazy.  I must get some commenting done tonite. 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

More Hatley Castle in November

More photos of the Japanese garden at Hatley Castle from the beginning of November.

Grace and Jim have left for home today.  She left me 30 Queen of the Night tulips that I planted out along the garage.  The dark colors should look good against the white of the garage.  I was to Cannor and bought 30 more tulips that I will be putting along the driveway.... pastel colors.  I also have 7 good sized plastic  pots and saucers.  I have 7 little orange trees that I have grown from pits, in a flower pot.  I will be transplanting them into these new pots and keeping them in the house.  The last time I did this, I left the orange trees out on the deck and they froze, of course.  These pots don't look great, but I really do plan to see these trees produce oranges.
We were out to the Fireside cafe with the Scots on Monday night and tonite to the Dunlop House with Jim and Sheila.  Was all nice. 
We have had a few days of high winds and quite cool weather, with rain.. typical November weather. 

Friday, November 12, 2010

More Hatley Castle in November

I took a few photos of the pagoda in the Japanese garden at Hatley Castle.  and the bench. 
The juncos and other birds are hanging out at the feeder.  I refilled the humming bird feeder today, too.
I gathered a few more apples and made about 4 cups of applesauce.  I added a bit of ginger root, cinamon, and sugar.  Its delicious. 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

More November colors

The leaves have fallen off the plum tree into the pond and all over the Japanese garden area.  They have good color this year.  The moss garden is looking ok, but has lots of violets that need to be weeded out again.
The grape leaves also have good color.  The fig tree's leaves were just green/brown and have fallen also.The strawberry tree is still green and now has a few red berries. 
This is the pin oak leaves that just peak over the edge of the back of the garage roof.  This tree had been cut down to ground level because it was too close to the garage.  There are now 3 trunks growing up out of the stump.  I have been trying to train them to grow farther away from the garage roof.  They are doing ok now.  I also keep the lower branches cut off, so that the canopy will not touch the garage roof. 
The wisteria vine has twined up to the top of the evergreen tree.  It has quite nice color this year too.  In the Spring, these evergreen trees bloom with the wisteria blossoms.  The rest of the wisteria has been cut back and I am trying to train it into a small single stem tree.  Its a constant battle, but I will win.  I have seen some of these older standard wisterias that have been well trained and they look very nice!
The humming bird, sitting on the plum tree branch.  That plum tree looks like it is ready to burst into flower.

The rainbow from a few days ago. 
We have finished the apple pie and the apple sauce.  There are a lot of apples on the ground again after the high winds we have had.  I have been feeding them to the deer, but they must have lots of other stuff to eat, as they are not exactly gobbling them up.  I am still using parsley that grows on the deck.  This has been good and I am thinking about getting some basil plants next year and plant up a pot for on the deck.  We like the pesto!  Grace has given me a box of Queen of the Night tulip bulbs that I must get out and plant, soon.  They might look nice against the white of the garage.  I can add a couple to the pink marguerite tub, and some along the side of the garage, with extra compost added. 
My site meter counter is showing more hits again.  While I had the google ads the count seemed to sink lower and lower.  Now since the ads are gone, the count is climbing again.  Strange but true. 

Monday, November 08, 2010

More Autumn Colors

The front garden, with the liquid amber tree just beginning to change colors.
1931 Buick hood ornament called Mercury... Yes FTD used these cars for deliveries. I have been playing with a few of my old photos with a view to uploading a few on Megashot for the new community called Bygones and Antiques.
I just like it.  
 Another one from May 2009 when we were on the Antiques Auto run to the Sunshine Coast.  I think this was at Gibsons Landing.  Someday, I may get the "Cars" albums finished on my web page.  None of the albums are made, just starting a list.  Its good for reference.  My Travel page is 5 years behind.  Oh well.. maybe next year I will get more done.  Have been very busy with Megashot this year.
Its been a partly sunny, bits of rain kind of day.  When I got up this morning there was a rainbow to greet me.  My photos are not that great, though. 
Yesterday, I cleaned the filter on the pond pump and its running ok again.  The deer are eating the apples, but not all at once.  We have had more apples falling, and so I am taking them across the road to the deer pasture.  We still have apple sauce left from years past.  In talking with our guests it seems they spotted the blue heron on the deck railing this morning!  The bird did not go into the pond, though, just checked things out, again.  They were quite excited to see a deer as well.  :-))  The wilds of Saanich!