Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Azalea and Inktense

 A ladybug found the celery plant on the windowsill. For a lot of people around here, the ladybugs can be a real pest in the house - landing on your face, biting, and being very stinky if you squash them. However, we don't get very many, and it felt very springlike to have a little critter cruising my plant so I was happy to see it.
My husband got me a very pretty azalea plant for my birthday. Certainly cheers up a room.

It has quite a few buds so it should bloom for a while yet. Unfortunately, it won't be hardy outside so it is strictly a house plant and I'm not that successful with keeping azaleas going long term. But for now I am certainly enjoying it.

Also on the birthday front is a new box of 24 Derwent Inktense pencils (conveniently on sale). I did a quick trial last evening and I really like them.  They are an ink/acrylic blend so when they dry you can't rewet them like regular watercolours. The colours are more vibrant than regular watercolour pencils. This photo is not doing justice to the bright colours. It's going to be fun to experiment with using both the Inktense pencils and either regular watercolours or watercolour pencils together.  Apparently Derwent is the only company making an Inktense type pencil.

Spring is just around the corner.  Can't wait.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

More Science and Tech

 Some more photos from the Museum of Science and Tech in Ottawa. A  large anchor perhaps used on a CP steamship.
 A snazzy old car. I love the yellowy-green colour and the wood panelling. The white-wall tires complete the look.  It's towing a small wood-panelled trailer.
 The early days of camping. Not quite your modern RV.

An amphibian car.  I guess they weren't that successful or you would still see them around.

Got a toothache?

 This is the Crazy Kitchen.  Sorry the photo is so blurry but whenever I walk through this little room, no matter how much I tell myself it's just optical illusions, I always feel woozy which is what it is supposed to do you. Quite remarkable. It has a sturdy railing to hang on to for good reason.

 Here's a model of a dog suited up for search and rescue. It even has ear protectors.  They also had a model of a horse with a fitness tracker on a collar on its neck.
The Museum has lots of other cool stuff but the lighting is often on the dark side which makes photos difficult.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Some Science and Tech

 We spent a few enjoyable hours the other day at the newly renovated Museum of Science and Technology in Ottawa. This is a lovely sleigh - it must have zipped over the packed snow. The old skies in the foreground reminded my husband and I of skis that we used when we were kids. I guess we'll be an exhibit soon!
 I really like this woodstove.  It's not a style that I am familiar with as most of the woodstoves used in Quebec and Ontario double as cookstoves and are much boxier with a large cooking surface.
 The museum has some well maintained steam trains.
 The cab of this one was protected by glass but on another train they had modified it so it was kid friendly and it was proving to be much fun for young and old alike.
 These runged steps look like they could be really treacherous in the winter.

Any Canadian of a certain age will recognize the Canadian Pacific maroon colour and gold lettering.

This is a Canadian National engine. Those two railways were the backbone of the country's economy - they still are incredibly important. Now they have expanded into the US and are usually just referred to as CN and CP . Both companies used to carry passengers as well as freight but first CP and then CN got rid of the passenger business. Via Rail was born for passenger traffic and it uses primarily CN tracks. I like trains, and when I travel to the Toronto area on my own, I always take the train.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Just a Perfect Winter Day

 Click for full photo.
We have such distinct seasons here in Eastern Ontario.  For every season, I have criteria for what makes a perfect day for that season.  Today was a perfect winter day. The sky was brilliant blue, the air was calm, the snow was fresh and sparkly, and the temperature was just cold enough to feel fresh .
I spent about an hour enjoyably clearing snow off steps, paths and vehicles. It occurred to me that winter activity can make me feel much like I do after swimming in a cold lake. I feel tired from the exercise but refreshed at the same time.

Our little storage shed is gradually getting buried. Some meteorologists had forcast a snowy winter. They were right.

 You can see how the bright snow is too much for the camera.
The hemlocks still have snowy branches which makes them look pretty. And a few icicles glisten in the sun.

Saturday, February 3, 2018


I got this Phalaenopsis orchid last fall when it had beautiful magenta blooms.( Little Jaws is wondering what is on his carpet by the heater. The orchid normally sits on windowsill -it's only on the floor for the photo)
I have never been able to get an orchid to rebloom but this one has put out a new shoot!

In the past, I cut the spent blooming stalk back to a node as the gardening expert on the radio advised but then the stalk would just dry up and die.  This time I decided to leave it intact and a node has sprouted on the flower stalk. I'm thinking that our house is so dry in the winter that cutting the stalk allowed too much moisture to escape and so the stalk died. In a couple of months as the new shoot gets bigger I will trim the stalk.

Some nice new roots are growing out of the center, too.
I know orchids can be fussy about the quality of the water they get.  Our well water is very hard so we have a water softener but the salt in the soft water isn't good for plants, and the hard water can leave residual minerals. I have been watering the orchid with bottled spring water but now that it is showing new growth I think I will switch to distilled water.  In a few weeks I'll give it some dilute fertilizer and hope for the best.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Indoor Celery

 At the end of the growing season last fall, I still had some nice celery in the garden. I picked most of it and froze it, but I noticed that some plants had small sideshoots and I decided to pot four of them up.  The two smallest ones rotted out but the two that are left have settled in nicely. The bright green foliage is cheerful, and occasionally I snip off a bit of celery for cooking.
Now that the days are getting a bit longer and the sun a bit brighter, new growth is starting.  By the spring, I will have two substantial plants ready for the garden.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Squirrel-proof Feeder

 I finally have a squirrel-proof bird feeder - Perky Pet brand. I bought it a few weeks ago at Home Hardware and it is perfect for the little birds. As you can see, the chickadees think it is great. I have a steady stream of chickadees, nuthatches, goldfinches and juncos that feed at it, and no squirrels have been able to access the seed. The birds knock some seed on to the ground so the squirrels get a bit there as well as the birds that prefer to feed on the ground like the cardinals, red-poll finches and juncos.
The mechanism is a spring-mounted perch that will close the seed portals if something as heavy as a squirrel lands on it but will stay open when a little bird is on it.  A downy woodpecker was able to feed at it the other day but I doubt that a blue jay would be successful. We were so pleased with the feeder that we bought a second one.
Now I just have to figure out a way to keep suet cakes away from the squirrels.