Saturday, April 22, 2017

Healthy Mind

I just read this book by a well-known Canadian neurologist.  Dr. Hakim originally worked at the Montreal Neurological Institute and then went on to work at the Ottawa Hospital becoming the Director of Neuroscience Research. His special area of interest is strokes and vascular disease.
In this book, he puts forward in easy- to- read layman terms the serious effects of vascular disease on our brains. It was thought that Alzheimer's disease accounted for most dementia but now it is becoming known that a lot of dementia is precipitated by strokes.

The strokes can be slight and not associated with significant physical changes and so they are often not noticed.  However, their damage is visible on MRIs  and over time can lead to significant cognitive deficits. As well, the strokes appear to interfere with our bodies ability to get rid of the plaques and tangles that can lead to Alzheimer's disease. A combination of vascular dementia and Alzheimer's is pretty common.

Dr. Hakim has suggestions for building brain resilience and what to avoid to reduce the likelihood of
vascular disease (high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, loneliness, inactivity, insufficient sleep).
In some ways, I found the book encouraging as it puts brain health in the same package as overall health and made Alzheimer's seem less arbitrary (although he did say that early onset Alzheimer's has a strong genetic aspect ). But it also made me realize that I probably need to work harder at keeping my brain fit.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Crocus and Snowdrops and HAPPY EASTER!

 The squirrels/chipmunks have definitely been redistributing and eating the crocuses, so here are pictures of singletons and a pair.

 The pollinators are happy to have the early blooms to snack on.

 Snowdrops have beautiful markings.

Some ornamental onions growing around the cyclamen.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Spring has arrived

Snowdrops with bird songs in the backround. Spring has arrived. Sorry the video is sideways.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Bloomin' Runner

 The runner bean is blooming! I checked back and I posted a photo of it sprouting on March 16th.  This is one fast bean.  No wonder they call it a runner.    I brushed the two open blossoms with a soft paintbrush and maybe that will pollinate them.  I've never pollinated beans by hand before.   
It's a funny looking plant but I think it is going to give me lots of beans . I just can't get over how quickly it has matured. Regular scarlet runners take ages. And I am so surprised that it bloomed on a chilly windowsill. Maybe I'll have beans in April!
The Mind of Watercolour Youtube guy suggested Lesleythebirdnerd on Youtube.  She is from Newfoundland and has great videos of birds in her area. I watched one on bluejays and found out they eat tent caterpillars  as well as lots of other bugs.  She also has an Etsy shop with beautiful prints of birds, animals and landscapes.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Surprise Lettuce

I had a bit of a surprise when I took my recently purchased lettuce out of its plastic packaging.  In the past, I have bought greenhouse lettuce from Quebec that is sold as a bare-root plant.  I like it because it is local, and also because it stays nice and fresh.  This most recent time I thought I was buying a similar product with the only difference being that I got two plants instead of one.  But when I opened it up, it was actually 6 plants. There were two little 1 1/2" pots with soil and each pot had three different kinds of lettuce in it. Who knew you could grow so much lettuce in such a tiny pot. I decided to put the lettuce on the windowsill and give it a good water. The plants drooped quite a bit so I've moved them away from the window and they are slowly perking up.  Next time, I will keep them away from the window at first and put a clear plastic bag loosely over them to preserve moisture.  Then I should have some growing lettuce on my counter. And I'm thinking about how much lettuce can be grown in a small amount of soil if you fertilize the heck out of it. That will be worth experimenting with this summer.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Local Tomatoes

These tomatoes are organic Canadian greenhouse tomatoes, probably grown in either Quebec or Ontario.  They are more expensive than the ones shipped from Mexico, but I like to support Canadian growers. I think it's really important that we grow as much food as possible in our own country. We have no control over what happens in other countries and how it could affect our food supply.  We need to keep our knowledge of how to grow food because it is not a skill learned overnight.
I'm always happy to hear of schools that are growing some veggies.  It is so easy to give kids the confidence that they can grow a few beans and tomatoes, and perhaps at some point grow a sizable garden. I was blessed to have a mother who gardened. She didn't have a big garden or even a very successful one (she had to deal with very poor soil), but I felt gardening was something anybody could do - and so it is.
And as to the tomatoes in the photo, they not only look great, they taste great, too.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Sweet Potato Vine

I noticed that a sweet potato that I bought a couple of weeks ago had sprouted so I decided to let it sprout so that I can use it as a viney accent to a planter this summer.  I've never done this before but hopefully it will work.  I cut the sweet potato in half because it is pretty large. I turned a small yogurt container upside down in the cup to keep the potato raised up and put enough water in the cup that the bottom inch or so of the tuber is covered. The leaves will likely be a nice bright green, although some varieties are more purpley. If I had full all-day sun in the garden, it would probably produce some new sweet potato tubers but I am only expecting some nice foliage.

I am starting another blog called My Morning Moment. I am hoping to do a short daily post based on a passage of the Bible.  The posts will look at a particular theme over a period of time and then go on to another topic.  The first theme is fear. I'm just jumping in where I am at and hopefully some people will feel they can connect there as well. It's at

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Last Snow?

We got  some fresh snow yesterday.  Will it be the last snowfall of the season?  Maybe, although we usually get some in April.  I always get impatient at this time of year because the days are getting longer, the light stronger and I am itching to get into the garden.  For now I must satisfy myself with my energetic bean.

 To counteract the whiteness around me, I've been watching Chef's Table on Netflix.  Now I am not a foodie but I have really enjoyed the eye-food that the great chefs provide.  Especially, I found Grant Achatz's work amazing.  So creative and fun and colourful.

Our son was in Barcelona recently and went to see the Gaudi park.  Now that is also a blast for the senses.  He described it as a scene from Dr. Seuss. Give it a google and you will see how fantastic it is.

Thursday, March 23, 2017


 We are so sad about the attack in London yesterday.
In 2013 and 2014, we visited London and spent considerable time in the area near the Parliament buildings and Westminster Abbey.

Just like thousands of others, we walked over Westminster Bridge.

I will always cherish my memories of London (I was also there as an older teen) and hopefully someday I will go back.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Baby Set

Our son and his wife are expecting a baby so, of course, I had to knit a little baby sweater and hat.  It is always fun to make something for a baby because you can do a fancy pattern but not be overwhelmed by it.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Dwarf Runner

 So my little dwarf runner bean has sprouted.  It almost looks like a chrysalis.

Like a butterfly, you can start to see the leaves (wings) develop.

 Finally, it's fully open.

 Rather pretty, isn't it?
It will soon outgrow its peat pot so I will make a newspaper liner for the clam-shell I used as a mini-greenhouse and let the bean roots grow into that space which I will fill with potting soil.  When it's warm outside, I can gently lift out the newspaper and put the whole thing into a large pot. And if all goes as planned, I will have fresh beans in June.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Blast of Winter

The weather outside is frightful
But flowers are still delightful...
We are again having a cold snap so it is still feeling very wintery. These primula are from last spring.
Since we still have snow, the perennials won't be bothered by the cold, and probably a few weeks from now, the crocus and snowdrops will be blooming. The seasons  change very quickly some years.
I'm hoping this cold will also knock back the ticks which have been more numerous the past few years.  We  have Lyme disease in our area so ticks are a concern for people and pets.
My cherry tomatoes have sprouted.  I used a plastic clam-shell to make a mini greenhouse and that helped the seeds to sprout.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Flora Land

 We bought a bouquet of cut tulips the other day. It's our act of defiance as it was -20C with a windchill making it feel like -30C on Friday.  The sun is springtime bright though so it really does feel like winter is over.
 In celebration of the coming season, I planted four cherry tomatoes and some onions. I'm thinking it might be fun to start one of the dwarf runner beans and see what happens.  A single bean plant wouldn't take up much space .  A few beans in June sounds rather nice.
For anyone suffering from the late winter blues, or  political angst, or who is having to deal with challenging personal circumstances, I highly recommend planting something, anything. To see a little bit of dried brown material transform into a bright green shoot is really miraculous.  It offers hope and joy and optimism for the future.
I'd like to thank Dee at a Rosy View for sharing all her wonderful rose photos.  It's always a treat to see the roses in my blog reading list.  She has been assembling an amazing collection of rose pictures and it's always cheering to see them all.  

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Dr. Jordan Peterson - U of Toronto

I just watched  a Youtube video by Dr. Jordan Peterson, of U of Toronto, at Ryerson University on his Youtube channel.
He talked about a lot of things so it is pretty hard to summarize it in a few words, but he has a really good understanding of how societies work .  He is a social psychologist and has a lot of insight into our current society.  I highly recommend the video.  It's almost two hours long but well worth the time spent watching it.  If you want you can speed it up to 1 1/2 times normal speed , you get through it faster .   I wasn't able to give a direct link to it but I really hope that you will go to his channel and watch this video and others that he has made.
March is giving us typical weather: warm and rainy followed by cold and dry.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Some Little Watercolours

 Little Orange Butterfly

Song of Flowers

The Reflected Light

I've made an order of seeds from Halifax Seeds.  I am indulging myself this year and buying some seed tapes.  One will have a mixture of different varieties of beets, and the other one will have three different kinds of carrots.  I will enjoy not having to thin the carrots. I also ordered a bean called Jackpot which is a cross between a bush and runner bean.  It is suitable for a container and has pretty red and white blossoms so it is decorative as well as useful.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Snowy Days

We had about 25 cm of snow a few days ago and a bit of fresh snow yesterday.  The landscape is molded in white.  This picture makes the snowbanks look smaller than they are . They are higher than my waist.  The photo was taken at my mom's house in the Laurentians, and, at this time of year, the abundant snow is very reminiscent of Peter and the Wolf.  The air is really refreshing up in the mountains and the snow is just so clean.  Although winter can seem long, I would miss the beautiful days of fresh snow if I didn't have them.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Alstreomeria - Peruvian Lily

Alstroemeria (Peruvian Lily) is a really pretty flower that grows wild in South America.  The native flowers are usually yellow or orange, but the hybrids come in a whole assortment of colours.  They grow from a bulb, and a small yellow variety is hardy to zone 5.  Florists like them because they can be picked in bud and they open out nicely after they have been cut.  They last well in a vase and have good sturdy stems. In February, they are especially lovely.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Old Newspaper

Our local paper, The Glengarry News, is celebrating 125 years of publication this year. In honour of this occasion, they have reprinted the first published paper (a 4- page spread) dated February 4, 1892.
The first thing that strikes you is the small size of the print.  I put a current paper next to the old reprint so that the difference would be apparent. I guess paper was expensive so they crammed as much on to one page as possible.  Imagine doing the typesetting for that!
It's quite fun to read the old articles.  One is an action packed account of two trappers who were chased by mountain lions.  It reads like a novel.  And then there is a genuine piece of fiction which would have run over a period of time keeping the reader in suspense from one week to the next. This story takes place in the exotic West Indies.
I'm still working my way through the pages but I came across some interesting tidbits:
a story about little Prince George being in a huff and taking his clothes off under a dining table and emerging in the buff, an article speculating on why some people live longer than others- some things never change-, an item encouraging parents to not overstimulate their children, a cautionary tale about a woman who killed her two children probably because she became overly depressed from drinking excessive amounts of TEA. The range of topics is extensive from politics all the way to how to get married in Paris. 
In the classified section, ads promote a variety of lawyers. Just the same as today, enticing ads for potions to cure whatever ails a body proliferate and offer false hope. I like this ad:  Gentlemen requiring artistic Overcoats, Suits or Trousers should call at J. O. Simpsons. I was surprised at how competitive the local stores were with their sales: "We will sell for next to nothing", "The greatest clearing sale ever",  "We sell Leather Belting cheap"," If you are looking for a bargain".
I'm giving my eyes a rest, but eventually I will read the whole paper and enjoy all it's variety and liveliness.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

The Solid Rock

Lots of things are happening in the world these days.  Some things don't change, though.

"Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.  The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock."
Matthew 7:24-25 NIV

Saturday, February 4, 2017

First Bloom of the Year

 My spider plant gave me a surprise flower this morning.  It's probably blooming because it is stressed.  I keep it in a pretty small pot because I don't want a huge plant, and I often neglect to water it when it's dry.  The flower is only about 3/4" across but a new flower is always welcome in the winter.
They say spider plants are good at cleaning the air of pollutants but I'm guessing you would need quite a few to have any significant effect. They're cheerful plants, though, so I guess they help to clean out the mental pollutants as well.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017


Winter is the season for pomegranates.  The juicy, ruby arils have a rich satisfying flavour, but they do take a bit of work to get them out of the skin.  Some people like to wack them out with a spoon, but I like a quieter technique.  I slice the ends off the fruit, then cut the fruit into one inch slices. I break the outer edge of a circle piece and open out the slice.  Then, it's easy to gently pick off the arils. Five minutes later, all the arils are in a glass or bowl ready for eating.

It's easier to be shocked and horrified by the darkness of others , than to do the scary, uncomfortable work of checking for darkness in our own hearts.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Colour in Our Hearts

Colour in Our Hearts

Dust storms cloud the news
But colour can remind our hearts
Of hope and joy
Of new beginnings.
Beauty growing out of rotted leaves,
Change is always happening.
Soak in the colour,
Breathe in the fragrance of life.

Friday, January 27, 2017


"Wake me up when spring is here."
Our little dog, Jaws, likes to burrow under blankets.  He doesn't have a thick coat but he knows how to stay warm.
We had a brief bit of sun today - about 15 minutes.  It was quite blinding after the weeks of dull weather we've been having.  Still, it isn't very cold which makes going for walks easier.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017


I watched some Youtube videos by Bill Lupton on painting people in a landscape.  These are people off in the distance so they aren't detailed.  I was so impressed with his skill with a brush.  It felt like I was watching a magician pulling a rabbit out of a hat. I haven't attempted to copy his technique yet but it's next on my list.
We went to see Hidden Figures , a movie about African-American women who worked for NASA during the space race.  It was really interesting to learn about not only these women, but also all the other who did calculations all day.  Ironically, they called them "computers".  One of the women, who specialized in calculating orbits and entry points, is still alive today and, at 98, is sharp and engaged with the world. Another one of the women became an aeronautical engineer and the third women featured in the movie became the supervisor of the mechanical computers.
I'm always on the look-out for movies based on real life events as I find they are more interesting than fiction.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017


I'm still practicing watercolour painting.  I challenged myself a couple of days ago to do one based on a nice photo of my horse's head, but alas my drawing ineptitude was all too evident.  Just couldn't get his eye properly placed and if that's not right the whole thing looks wonky. I also followed a video by the frugalcrafter on doing a human eye.  That was very instructive and I think I managed the colour not too badly on the practice effort, but again the drawing...sigh.  So today, I decided to just slop some paint around and enjoy the colours.
I hope your winter hasn't been too stormy.  We are getting pretty benign weather which I'm thankful for. Mulling over if I will start any plants and, if so, which ones. Perhaps some basil to start with as it does well in the low light.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Trying to do some Watercolour

Funny how one thing leads to another.
My daughter was telling me that she was watching old shows by Bob Roth, the painter, on PBS as his soothing voice helped to put the baby to sleep.  That got me reading up on Bob.  He was very prolific and figures he probably painted 30,000 paintings.  Wow!  OK, he had a formula, but still that's many hours at the easel. He was on PBS  doing how-to shows for years. He felt too many people were intimidated by painting and he wanted people to be able to learn a simple way to paint that would enable them to make a passable picture. By the way, he started painting when he was in the Air Force in Alaska.  He had lots of time in the winter, I guess.
Anyway, all this about painting got me on Youtube and I found a whole lot of really helpful videos on watercolour painting especially designed for beginners like me. Great ones like "5 (or 10 or 20!) Mistakes Beginners Make". Very instructive.  So I've been watching lots of these instructional videos and signing up as a subscriber for my favourites.  And I am attempting to put paint to paper. I'm quite enjoying it. I am not obsessing over all the mistakes I am making and just assuming that with time I will improve.
 Isn't that what old ladies do? Take up watercolour painting :)

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Lots of Snow

  The weather hasn't been terribly cold but we are getting lots of snow. Even with some meltdown, the snow is  at least a foot deep.  More snow is expected to come this week.  Today is bright and the snow is sparkling.

The snow on the surface is very flaky this morning.  I know, snow is made up of snowflakes, but I mean the snowflakes are very flat and flaky without the classical snow crystals. I tried to capture it with a photo but no luck.  I find snow very hard to photograph.

The hemlock branch is weighed down with wet snow that froze as the temperature dropped.  Quite a few people lost their power because of branches leaning on the power lines.  We were fortunate and only were out for an hour, but others were powerless for a day.  We have a propane heater so even with no power we have heat.  We always have extra water in the house so it's not a big deal if the power is off. Inconvenient, but not difficult.