Friday, September 30, 2011

Heavenly Blue Morning Glories

I've know I've posted several snaps of the morning glories already - bear with me.  This will be my last for the year (probably).

Early this summer I bought three pots of Heavenly Blue morning glories, already started - I know, why didn't I just start my own for a fraction of the price?  I transplanted them into little boxes where my clematis are already planted - either side of the garage and one right in the middle between the doors.  So from here on we shall refer to them as Lefty, Middy and Righty, alrighty?

They were all treated the same way - a hole dug, half filled with composted manure, watered infrequently (well sometimes frequently when it rained).

Lefty and Middy sent up a few blossoms within days of being transplanted - mid July (yes I know it was late). I thought, great, I'm going to have blossoms all summer.  Righty just put her head down and kept growing - very luxuriantly, I might add.

Middy then went into a sulk - it is really dry in her little box, which is dug into the sand around the foundation and surrounded by the crushed stone on the driveway - maybe some excuse for her behaviour.  About once every two weeks, she sent up on half hearted attempt at a blossom, but has long since lapsed into barren childlessness, although she is putting up a few more vines in the late September days.

Righty continues to grow into luxuriant fullness, vines everywhere, threatening to strangle anything within six feet of her grasp.  Nary a blossom.  I do note that there are a few tiny embryonic buds starting to form which should bloom about time for the New Year - think Canadian frost being at least a week overdue.

But then on to Lefty.  Lefty has been the only plant that has done what I desired, and it is her faithfulness, that will inspire me to plant even more of her kind next spring.  Most days for the past month there have been at least three or four gorgeous cerulean blossoms greeting me as I exit the garage.   Today Cinderella really has outdone herself - and the Prince of Procrastination (that'd be me) is proud.

Now if someone can explain the slothful, lazy ways of her step-sisters to me, I'd greatly appreciate it.

And that is about all I have to say for today.

Musings and meanderings from the Musical Gardener.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Mistress Mary, Quite Contrary, How Does Your Blogging Go?

I'm interested to hear from other bloggers on how they go about writing their daily, weekly or monthly sagas. I'm going to ask a whole lot of questions and hopefully you will be willing to take the time to give me some feedback.  The questions are in black, my answers are red italics.  If you just want to respond to some, or all answers, just give me the numbers and your brief answer in the comment section.

1. What is your process?

  Because I am primarily a gardening blog, I like to get photos from my garden first hand.  I edit the photos and stick them into a named Blog file.  It may take a couple of weeks or months to collect all the necessary  photos.  Genealogy is a different matter.  I have books of photos, and a computer files of stories.  These I need to scan and edit and then write the story.  The cooking blogs are another process.  I gather all the ingredients, and photograph the process, then go in after the meal and type the instructions.

2. Do you have a bunch of ideas ahead?

I have some concepts ahead all the time.  Every morning or two, I take the camera and go for a walk about the garden and snap whatever new blooms are in season.  Then every couple of days, I transfer everything to the computer, and slot the pictures into appropriate blog headings.

3. Do you have a bunch of completed blogs ahead?

Right now I have about 10 blogs pretty much ready to publish.  I like to have enough ahead, so that I can publish a few days, perchance I do not get the opportunity to do further writing.

4. Are there many works in process?

I probably have thirty blogs in various stages of completion, from just a title to a bunch of photos with no captions.

5. What motivated you to blog first of all?

I read the Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, and one of her suggestions was to start a blog.  I've kept a daily journal for 37 years, so this is a natural extension.

6. What are your rewards from blogging?

I've met some new people that I would never have otherwise.  I have a 'pretty' journal, complete with pictures in an easily accessible format.

7. How is blogging different than your perceptions?

I thought you would write and they would come.  I didn't realize how difficult it is to attract readership, and how competitive it is for blog time. 

8. How do you start a blog?

I usually come up with some sort of title (subject to change).  Then I type in the following template:


And that is about all I have to say for today.

Musings and meanderings from the Musical Gardener.

I put in the letters to begin with, so that I can change it to text later.  I then leave a couple of spaces to start inserting photos as I take them or find them.  For a while it seemed impossible to get text above a photo if you didn't type something in prior to the import.  The last two lines appear in every post, so that is just a cut and paste event.

9. How has your blog evolved?

Well I started out not really with much of a plan.  I'm not sure I intended it to be a daily event, but it has become that.  I have definitely got to the point of using a lot more of my own photography.  Photography has become a new passion, because of my blog.

10. Are there any blog etiquette tips you have learned along the way?

Give credit where credit is due. 

11. Are there any rights or wrongs in Blogland?

This is a learning process for me.  Okay what is Wordless Wednesday about and who decreed it such?

12. Where do you see blogging in 5 years, 10 years?

I'm looking at this as a one year project right now.  I will review my readership and page views etc, as well as my degree of satisfaction in the effort at that time.  As I see blogging and the technology world, five years from now, I will take my credit card sized IPAD-like device to the garden, snap a photo, and the computer will generate text, based on samplings of my past writing, and my job will just be to edit it.  I will also be able to take you on live, real-time skypes of the garden, and we'll carry on a conversation (hopefully you can pull weeds from your remote location). 

13. What are your long term goals?

As I said this is a one year project in my mind right now, but of course subject to change.

14. What features attract you to someone else's blog?

I like the following:
  •    daily entry
  •    at least a couple of visuals (I'm a visual learner) and a picture is truly worth a thousand words.
  •    short paragraphs, breaks
  •    something written from the heart in your own voice
  •    correct grammar and spelling (sorry GG, your content is always good enough for me to overlook the occasional slip)
  •    occasional videos
  •    interesting deviations from the norm, that give insights into the author's life and character
  •    humour 
  •   directions teaching me a new trick or idea

15. What ideas have you used to increase readership?

This is something I need to work on.  I want to spend some time on a header gimmick of my favourite photos.  I may look at a competition of some sort.  I have a game simmering on the back burner too, just not sure how to execute it.

And that is about all I have to say for today.

Musings and meanderings from the Musical Gardener.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Some Of My Artwork - Animal Portraits

I'm thinking of applying for a certain job that requires evidence of some sort of artist knowledge.  So I've been digging up some of my work in various mediums. I don't do much painting these days, but in the past I have done a fair little bit. So while I'm in the scanning mode, I thought I would share with you. Today I am going to show you some examples of my farm animal work.

Chalk pastel, 1978, Grade 12 project
Watercolour -note I used Edgar Hunt's work for major inspiration
Print of Edgar Hunt's work

Coloured Pencil, 2007
Acrylic, 2007 (Can you find my inspiration elsewhere?)
Acrylic - my brother's dog Bussie

Oil - Jersey cow and calf
Watercolour - I admit this is a copy of a birthday card - not an original

The Boys - watercolour - can you tell I like cattle?
Signpainter's oil paint - a very difficult medium to work in - on a truck tailgate - a difficult and cumbersome canvas.  A joint effort between the Missus and me, 2010

And that is about all I have to say for today.

Musings and meanderings from the Musical Gardener.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Hundred Acre Wood

If you go down in the woods today,
You're sure of a big surprise
It's lovely down in the woods today
You'd better go in disguise

Well I saw neither Pooh, piglet or any tired teddy bears, but I did go for a tramp through many acres of woods yesterday.  Trespassing we will go, trespassing we will go, High ho the derry oh.............

A beautiful shaggy barked yellow birch, along the trail

Don't you want to know where it goes?

Actually the day could only be described as absolutely splendiferous.  I taught a wonderful Grade IV class in the morning, then headed home to enjoy the afternoon.  Armed only with my camera, I headed out through the bush trails to the east of our property.
Through the woods, to grandmother's house we go.....

Some bright colour from Jack-In-The-Pulpit seedhead.
Following the hydro line.
Gleanings left at the edge of the field.

Is milkweed fluff similar to cotton bolls?
Wild clematis - wish I had discovered it in flower.
What an utterly magnificent day, and so glad I had an opportunity to enjoy it.

And that is about all I have to say for today.

Musings and meanderings from the Musical Gardener.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Fuzzy Balls, Galls and Other Noteworthy Blemishes

I've noted with interest my little burley oak tree on the front lawn has been developing the most interesting growths on its leaves over the past month or two.  I thought I share these with you - little orange fuzzy balls.  I'm sure if I tore one apart there would be a little critter ensconced within.

As they say, curiosity killed the cat.  Here's what is inside of a goldenrod gall (left) and oakleaf gall (right). Remember though, satisfaction brought it back!

It's also been a banner year for galls in the goldenrod plants - not that that particularly distresses me.  They do make for interesting natural shapes.  I think there must be something creative that could be made from them, as they are everywhere.  Maybe I could do some wood burning on a dried one - idea for the winter months.

Goldenrod afflicted with gall.
This is a willow, with some sort of blackspot.
Goldenrod with triple galls.

I don't spray my apple trees, so I get the most gnarly, horrible looking specimens, but they do have some merit from an artistic standpoint - much more interesting than the picture perfect globes, available in the supermarket these days.  Of course it makes me wonder just how much insecticide was used to produce that kind of perfection.

A wasp and ladybug enjoying the fruits of my labours.

Scab and rust combined....mmmmmm!
This tree is just located across the road from us.  Isn't this one ugly looking knot?  I'm amazed the tree still keeps growing.  I wonder if plants develop cancer cells, and if so is this some sort of chronic manifestation of such?

And that is about all I have to say for today.

Musings and meanderings from the Musical Gardener.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Edgar Hunt - One Of My Favourite Artists

My aunt had a print in her kitchen, that our family all admired from afar.  It was kind of a strange picture to grace her walls, as she never farmed or expressed any interest in poultry.  When she died, I was fortunate enough to be the one whose name was found on the back of it.  Aunt Vera, had earmarked most of her worldly possessions to go to nieces and nephews, and fortunately so, as Uncle Cecil, who outlived her, was not so generous.  But that is another story.

My sister really liked the print to, so I started to watch Ebay, hoping that I might find a duplicate print.  A couple of years of perusing, finally netted me a duplicate, and then within a couple months, I was able to get another one for my brother.  I gave them as Christmas presents, and we all now have a copy of 'Aunt Vera's chickens' hanging in our homes.

While I was searching for duplicates, I found another print of Hunt's paintings that I also really liked.  It was the same size but a different frame.  Both of these prints grace our kitchen, hanging side by side.

I particularly love Edgar Hunt's attention to detail, and the soft plushy textures he was able to achieve in his painting.  All his painting are barnyard subjects.  I've looked at the pricing on originals - would love to have one, but they are a little rich for my blood.

Here are few more examples I found on the internet.  This first one would make a perfect match with my other two.  Note how he included the broom and the beautiful grey/tan hen in all three examples.

This is one of my favourites - love the Shorthorn calves.

And that is about all I have to say for today.

Musings and meanderings from the Musical Gardener.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Volunteering in Binghamton

I was out of the country for a couple of days this week, volunteering in a clean up mission after the floods of a couple weeks back.  Last Sunday in church, our pastor put out a plea for volunteers to go and visit his former church  which suffered severe damage in nine foot high, raging floodwaters.

Since supply teaching is still pretty sketchy three weeks into the year, I was able to clear my schedule and show up at our church Wednesday morning, armed with my grubbies, cordless drill, exacto knives, face mask, hammer and tool belt.  Six adults and a baby, squeezed into a Dodge caravan, complete with all our tools and paraphenalia and headed south across the border.

Interesting set of questions at the border from the security guard:

"Where are you all headed?"

      "Binghamton, New York."

"What is the nature of your visit?"

     "To help remove carpet and drywall from a church that was damaged in the flooding."

"How did you get involved in this?"

     "The gentleman in the back seat was a former pastor there."

"How many days are you planning on being there?"


"What do you all expect to accomplish in that short a time?"

Stunned silence - we have no idea, but we will be working at the best of our abilities.

"Why would you bring a child with you to drywall?"

Huh?  We're starting her young!  Actually she was the pastor and his wife's baby and mom and daughter were simply going to visit the parents who are parishioners in the damaged church.

Maybe I am being too hard on the man, but come on buddy, six adults are coming in from another country to help in a zone in dire need of assistance, and you're officiously asking what we could accomplish in two short days.  I really wish we could have showed him before and after pictures of just what we did in those few hours.  Since I can't,  I will try and share with you, although I don't think there are many great 'before' pictures, and even after our efforts there was soooo much more to be done.  Problem is that is just the cleanup, then comes reconstruction.  Thank you to Heather Perry, our pastor's wife who took pictures of the process.  My camera got left in the van, and it was really not the spot to lay a camera down, amid all the wet plaster and insulation.

This is the back outside the church, note the high water/mud marks on the trees by the door.

The yellow truck was completely submerged, except for the boom.

What it looked like when we got there - all the furniture etc had already been disposed of.

Yours truly - first job - hauling scrap metal out to the pile.
Shoveling up dead drywall - note our wet shirts, that was sweat, it was incredibly humid inside the building.
This was one of my special projects - completely gutting and removing walls and partitions to two full bathrooms.
The main sanctuary with all the debris removed.
Former office area, all drywall, studs, electrical etc removed.  Note mud on windows  The high water mark was about three inches from the top of these windows.
It is far from cleaned up, but our team and several other folks, removed several truckloads of debris and recycle material in the two days we were there.  The sad part is, this is only one building among hundreds.  We drove through blocks and blocks of devastated buildings, with garbage piled high in the  sidewalks awaiting municipal trucks.  The temporary dumping area we saw was a large field, and it was filling quickly.

I am glad to have been part of such a venture, but sad that it happened to begin with.  Our group has promised that they will probably return to help in the reconstruction effort.  Hope we get the same border guard - we'll be able to tell him he'd be amazed at what a bunch of crazy Canucks can accomplish in two days.

And that is about all I have to say for today.

Musings and meanderings from the Musical Gardener.