Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Playing with Pictures

Lake Koocanusa, BC

With the completion of the hydro/electric dam at Libby Montana in the early 1970's, Lake Koocanusa was formed. There are 75 km of navigatible waters from the US/Canada border north to Wardner, BC. There are a variety of ecological and environmental areas along the shoreline. You can see Deer, Elk, Wild Turkeys, Bald and Golden Eagles, Osprey and the very occasional bear. Badgers, coyotes and other wildlife can be seen as well
The north end of the lake's shore is surrounded by forests with spectacular views of the Rocky Mountains. As you journey south, the shoreline becomes more arid and sandy beaches abound. With almost 80% of the shoreline being crown land, this is a boaters paradise.
A number of forestry campgrounds exist on both the east and west shorelines, as well as several private campgrounds, and Kikomun Creek Provincial Park. Stores with camping supplies, fuel and fast food facilities are available at several of the private campgrounds. Houseboat operations exist on the lake - these offer perfect conditions for visiting the numerous beaches. The beaches are wonderful for picnicking, swimming, and overnighting as they are well protected from windy conditions. This also makes the lake ideal for water-skiing and other water sports. Water temperatures in the summer can reach the high 70's.
Fed by the waters of the Kootenay River, Elk River and streams from the Flathead and Kootenay drainage systems, fishing abounds from early spring to late fall with Dolly Varden, Kokanee and Rainbow Trout.(copied from the travel bc website)  We camped at one of the campsites  We were treated to a lovely, misty sunset after dinner.  This was during our trip to the Pincher Creek Model T Ford meet.  We left our car and trailer with Harry and Rosalie, and continued on to Saskatchewan.
The RCMP musical ride: the charge; at Fort McLeod.  This was one of the stops on the Model T National tour this summer.

The photos of Vern's Stanley Steamer are from the Island Challenge tour earlier this month.
In attempting to make my photo album for the June gardening page for my old website, I found that my new Photoshop has changed the ability to make web photo galleries.  They all use Flash and javascript that I cannot edit in notepad as I have been doing with my old PS CS.  So I reloaded my old PS CS.  I had also lost the use of Optik Verve's Virtual Photographer.  This marvelous plugin does not work on the PS CS 5 with 64 bit Windows 7.  It DOES work on my old PS CS.  I am happy to have it back.  I hope they make a version of their Virtual Studio that works on the 64 bit.  Its a wonderful stand alone photo editor.
More computer stuff -- I have managed to get my headphones and mic sorted out, at last.  I am so dismal at hardware stuff.  Trevor is going to bring a longer cord and attach my new hd screen.  I will want to use it for movies and watching tv on line.  ... should I ever get the time.
We had dinner with Andy and Tara on Sunday..  was delicious --  while visiting them Andy showed us his Ipad and some of how it works.  Yesterday I checked out the cost of an Ipad2 at London Drugs.  It is probably going to be over $1000 by the time I get the most capacity, camera hook up and other things I might want to add to the basic.  Our microwave blew up with smoke coming out of  bottom the other day, so we were down to London Drugs to get a new one.  The ipad2 will be good to have when we travel.

The hanging tree is from our Pincher Creek Model T tour, this summer.  This is the sepia version from Virtual Photographer in my old PS CS.   All of today's photos have been tweaked with setting from this excellent plug in.
We have had about an inch of rain over the last week.  We had high winds and about 2100 people were out of power in town.  Ours went out over night the first time.  The garden is looking better for the rain.  We have been eating figs.  The grapes should soon be sweet and good.  The black berries are abundant this year.  I only picked a couple of cups full, as I still have blackberries left from previous years, and I am not making a rumpot this year.  The few tomatoes we had were delicious.  I really must get some growing next year.  The basil was not a success, but the parsley was good and is still going. 

Yesterday I melted the hummingbird feeder with feeder mix that was too hot.  So, need new ones.  In winter I like to have two... one to thaw out and the other out hanging up to feed them.
I have finally got the light garden trays and plants cleaned up.  This morning I water and fed  them all.  The African violets are all in bloom.  Two of the orchids are just finishing a long period of bloom with two more just in bud.

Now, if I can get some time out in the garden, I will feel like I am more caught up with everything.

Friday, September 23, 2011

September-- it has been a glorious month

Bridal Veil Falls.  This was our lunch stop on the Can Am Tour this year.  It is a 15 minute walk to the falls from the parking lot.  It is well worth the up hill climb for all of the 15 minutes.  It took me half an hour, as I had to stop for photos at every stump and clump of moss.  Meanwhile, at the bottom of the climb Pat was having his wedding ring cut off his finger.  He had a bee sting when we left the coffee stop at the Military Museum.  The bee was on the steering wheel, when he grab it to start on ward on the tour. On his wedding ring finger, of course.  Neither one of us thought to take off the ring.  By the time we got to the lunch stop his finger was swollen to twice its normal size.  This ring has a history of some redesigns over the years, not to mention the pins in the finger, itself.  A very stoic man, my Patrick. We will have the ring redesigned again, however he wants it.  I think he could have a diamond added for he is truly a precious gem.
In this photo I am shooting through the windshield of the the 1912 Ford Torpedo.  The title is The Navigator has lost it!    I love the total chaos of the shot.  Or is it double exposure?  :-}

The dahlia photos are from our coffee stop of the same day of the Can Am tour.  We stopped at a bee farm.  The talk about the bees was very informative. There is a wall where we could view the hive live.  The dahlia photos are from the parking area, where the dahlias were featured on a raised hill, with a garden bench overlooking the surrounding area. The flowers were spectacular.

Dahlias are a flower I think about for the cutting garden.  This cutting garden, in my dreams, is where the non-existent vegetable garden is now.  I am still deciding whether to make a cutting garden or a vegetable garden.   At the moment the veggies are winning.

We had 1/2 inch of rain last nite.  The grass area is looking green already.  It was cloudy, but warm today.  A very nice day.  The afternoon would have been perfect to be out gardening, but I spent the time cleaning up my light garden. This clean up was long over due.  I really need to re-pot and add soil to the plants soon.  The African violets look superb... they are all in bloom, now.

I brought in 2 plums today and they are the last of the plum crop.  The fig tree has a few more figs that need a few more days of ripening.  The grapes are full of fruit.  The apples are rather small, this year.  All of the garden needs weeding. .  . but it is not too bad.

I spent the morning making a beef stew, and the afternoon cleaning up the light garden.  Yesterday, I made the minestrone soup, which we had for lunch today, and it was given the OK for dinner guests.  It really is quite yummy,.  The freezer is full.  Next project is baked beans.
Minestrone Soup

1 1/2 lb. shin beef, with bone
1 cup dried navy beans, soaked over night
5 qt. water
2 tbsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
2 cups chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups diced carrots
1 1/2 cups diced celery
2 cups finely shredded cabbage
1 Tabsp. parsley flakes
1 medium potato

1/2 lb ground beef
1 1/2 cups sliced zucchini
1 1/2 cups broken spaghetti
1 cup frozen cut green beans

I cannot believe this receipe has no tomatoes.
I added:  a can of tomatoe soup
and 4 chopped tomatoes as well as
Oregano and fresh basil all at the end of the cooking.

Grated Parmesan cheese

Put shin beef, beans, water, salt and pepper in large kettle.
Cover and simmer 3 hours.  Remove meat from bones, add to soup.
Add onion, garlic, carrots, celery, cabbage, potato and parsley.
Brown ground beef and add to soup.  Cover and simmer until
vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes.
Add zucchini, green beans and spaghetti.  Simmer until spaghetti
is cooked, about 10 to 15 minutes.  Top with cheese and basil.
Makes about 7 quarts.  May be canned or frozen. 

I managed to get the waterfall running again, today.  I like how the pond looks covered in duckweed. is looking very good recently.  Come see us there.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

September - a very busy month in the garden and otherwise

The Autumn crocus around the garden are looking very good.  The top photo is from a week ago.  The clump of blooms is 3 times the size now.  I like these easy care plants that give a good show when there is little else blooming in my garden.  The next photo is the jackimani clematis.  This one is beside the garage at the back.  The last photo is an attempt to show the magic of my little solar lights.  This one is on the deck.  I need to learn how to do good night shots, without noise.  I will probably have to use my dslr to do a decent job of it.
Monday, we got home from our 4 day trip to the CanAm, which is a Car event for the model Ts.  photos later, perhaps. I spent the day unpacking and recuperating from all the excitement. 

We have had very good weather the last 2 days.  The only thing I did out in the garden was to refill the humming bird feeder, pick 2 plums, and 2 figs.  This is the 6th fig.  The plums are finished.  The ones I cannot reach are dropping to the ground, some into the pond.  The grapes are very full of clusters and should be good this year.  There are lots of apples, but they are not very big.  They will probably be deer fodder in the winter time.

I spent today making soup.  I made about 3 quarts of the pork and pea soup.  I did not have ham, but had a big piece of roast pork.  I added cloves and cinnamon to the mix and it tastes really good.

I have another 3 quarts of mulligatawny soup.  It is quite good too.

Slow Cooker Mulligatawny Soup

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, diced
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium carrot, diced
1 medium celery rib, diced
1 small red bell pepper, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 tsp. mild or medium curry powder
1 large, green apple, diced (skin on)
2 tsp. finely grated lime zest
2 tbsp. fresh juice, freshly squeezed
1 tbsp. honey
1 bay leaf
4 cups chicken stock
2 tbsp. cornstarch dissolved in 1/2 cup of water
1 cup cooked white or brown rice
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro or parsley
1 (14 oz - 400 ml) can coconut milk
Salt to taste

combine the first 14 ingredients in your slow cooker.
Cover and cook on the low setting 4 hours.  Stir in the rice, cilantro or parsley
and coconut milk.  Cover and cook 10 minutes more.  Season the soup with salt and
serve.  Makes 8 servings.

Megashot is on the new servers and is very fast now!  I hope to get some time there to play this week.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

More on the black hornets

I want to confirm the comments information from Ken that these black bees are actually hornets with a vicious bite, if threatened.  So far they have not bothered me, thank heavens.  These photos were taken about a week ago, showing the wasp and hornet drinking water in the pond and using the duck weed as a convenient landing spot.  Since this hive is quite low to the ground, I think, it might be a harsh winter.  Our weather has cooled quickly, so I expect these nasties to soon be gone. 
I walked back from the mall today after my lab blood tests.  Found another Colleen McCollough book and another Phillippa Gregory one.  This should keep me going for awhile.
We have had a couple of little earthquakes recently.  I did not notice either of them, but lots of people did.  I think we were driving in the van at the time of the first one.  Pat remarked about the road seeming to be wavy from all the truck traffic. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Some September Harvest

We have been eating yellow Plums for desert for the last 3 weeks.  They are especially good with mango swirl frozen yogurt and a touch of marsala.  I cannot reach very many more of them with the plum plucker.  This plum plucker is a small plastic container duct taped to an old broom handle.  The plums are nearly finished their season.  The figs, on the other hand, are very slowly ripening.  As usual the 'second crop' of small figs is abundant, while the larger older ones nuimber about 12.  The last week of hot weather should have hurried them along a bit. 
The weather was very hot and then just today the mercury plummeted very quickly.  I even turned up the thermostat as I was chilled. 
We have been away to the Island Challenge car event and just got back on Monday.  pictures to follow, perhaps.  Aside from cleaning up about 5 more feet of the path in the back garden, pruning and dead heading perennials and shrubs, and watering, I have not got very much gardening done. 

When we were on our 10 day trip to Barkerville, there were many wild flowers that needed to be photographed.  It was a wonderfully adventurous trip.  More photos later, perhaps.

I have been doing a bit of photo sorting for my web page, and updating the travel lists.  As usual, I wish I had at least two lives to do all the things I want to get done.  I see I can watch TV news and some programs on my computer.  I know I can watch movies in parts from on you tube.  Ken Anderson has given me some information on using Netfix to watch movies and tv.  I don't think I will get much time to do all of this, though.  I will want Trevor to hook up my hd screen and the headphones so I can watch and listen to this stuff late at nite, when everyone else in the house is sleeping.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Black Bees

Photos of close ups of the honey bee feeding on the pollen of a michaelmas daisy.  There appears to be a varroa mite attached to the back of the bee on the top photo.  These tiny mites appear to be crab-like and suck the juices out of the bee and infect them with a virus that kills the bee.   Beekeepers can have infestations of these mites in the hives, and the mite is decimating the honey bee population.  Some bee keepers have contracts to put their bees into fields to pollinate the crops.  So the infestation of mites is causing millions of dollars in crop production losses.  In the UK they are seeking to introduce the black bee as a substitute for the honey bee.  There are also chemicals that can be used to attract the mites to a surface where the chemical is applied, and thus the mites starve when they are not on a bee.  This chemical is like the pheromones  emitted by the bees and so the mites are attracted to the trap.
I have a hive of black bees in a cedar tree in my back garden.  Some of the research I did with google searches  says these black bees can be aggressive.  The ones in my hive are not at all aggressive.   The hive is about 10 - 15 feet off the ground.  I was a bit antsy about getting close to them, and I could not seem to get a good close up with my little Canon S3 IS with its 12X zoom.  I do not seem to have a long enough lens for my Rebel.
black honey bee - Apis mellifera
Apparently these black bees have a thicker skin and the mites cannot easily penetrate it.  This hive is egg shaped and is about 12 to 18 inches long with the hole at the bottom.  I have been doing gardening near them all summer and they never bother me.  
This is a closely cropped shot of a bee at the germander.  This patch of plant has been covered in honey bees when ever I am out there.  I have not seen black bees on it though.  The germander is not far from the black bees hive.  Nor did I see a black bee on the michaelmas daisies.  I could not find information on what these bees prefer to pollinate.

Also, in searching for black bee images, I came across carpenter bees.  They are not social bees though, and this hive would not be carpenter bees.  Apparently carpenter bees are about the size of a bumble bee, but have no hairs on the abdomen and are black to shiny dark blue.  They are not aggressive either.  The male cannot sting, and the female only stings if it is threatened.  She makes burrows in wood, collects pollen and nectar, deposits some of this food in a hole, lays an egg on the cell and seals it over.  So, this bee is also a good pollinator.  Some people with orchards set out pieces of soft wood for this bee to use as a home to encourage it to colonize the wood and pollinate the crops.

The wasps are a far bigger nuisances than any of the bees.  I see them stripping wood off the deck and using it to build their cells for laying eggs. I watched them rolling the wood into a small ball to carry away. They can get to be quite a large hive.  A couple of years ago Pat and I removed one of these nests from in the debris under the camillia tree next to Mrs. Pees sidewalk.  Pat is not afraid of bee bites, and did not get bitten, even once, while digging out the nest.  We hauled it off to the compost bin, and I thoroughly watered down the area.  There were wasps coming back for days afterwards, but I guess the queen was gone, and they have not rebuilt there.  A couple of weeks ago, while liberating some clay from under the deck, I inadvertently  must have struck a wasp nest.  I got two stings and they took at least 2 weeks to heal.  Today I watered under the deck, but could see no sign of the wasps around the area.  But I will still wait for winter before I clean up under the deck, now!

Today, I spent more time watering the corners that I may have missed with the sprinklers, yesterday.  I did some weeding.  I see I have some sort of canker on the plum tree at the front.  I cut off all of the branches with this stuff on it, that I could find.  The tree looks healthy with lots of branches and good green leaves.  Next spring, I should prune it properly and feed it with the fruit tree spikes.  I will need to research this growth on the tree to see what it is.

Friday, September 02, 2011

September Gardening

I have finally found some time to get out in my garden.  These are photos of arum seeds, Irish heather and the grapes.  We are eating yellow plums, little tomatoes that grow on the deck, and we have the first fig in the house ready for eating.  I picked the red currants, put them through the juicer, and got about half cup of juice.  In cleaning up the bowls and juicer I added about another cup of water.  I added a cup of sugar and boiled this mix for about 3 minutes.  I now have two small jars of yummy red currant jelly.  This is labor intensive, but there is a lot of satisfaction in using your own produce. 

I mowed the grass paths and the back.  I clipped back the fig off the paths.  That thing grows madly.  It seems I should be watering my deck stuff everyday.  Oh well, its not doing too badly with its weekly watering. The path I renovated in the back, by adding stepping stones is looking good and is much better for walking on.  The stones were too uneven to use in this spot.  The pond is doing okay.  I like the covering of duck weed.  Its a nice refreshing green.  The whole garden needs watering and more weeding, of course.  The weather predictions are for another week of good weather, but cooler at nite.  The days are getting shorter quickly.
This is a photo from our 10 day trip to Barkerville, the gold rush town.  I have changed this to a sepia to make it look like the 1860s.  The trip was quite an adventure.  We drove up to Port Hardy and caught the ferry to Bella Coola.  We had to spend the night on the parking lot at Bear Cove terminal, as there were high seas and we could not leave on schedule.  We got on the next day at 5:00 pm.  Since we were behind schedule we did not get to spend any time ashore at the communities where the ferry stops.  We spent the next night in the camper van, on the ferry, though we were not suppose to be down there.  The weather was overcast and rainy so all the beautiful scenery was a wash out.  After getting off the fairy we found a wonderful campsite at the Gnome's Home just out of Bella Coola.  The next day we drove 'over the hill' which is a narrow, winding gravel road over the mountains.  I was scared skinny. The rest of the trip up to Barkerville was good, with good food, good campsites, fine scenery.  Barkerville was interesting, and we spent to half days there.  On the way home we took the Duffy Lake Road back over the mountains.  Another winding road over the mountains.  This one was paved with good shoulders and some turn outs.  But it had 11% downgrades with 20 km hairpin turns.  Our brakes were smokin'.  The scenery was spectacular!  We got back on Sunday the 28th.  I have been catching up on home and garden, and my rest. 

I have been spending a bit of time on Megashot.  Its always fun.  I never seem to have enough time to do all the things I want to do!