UNSAID …

A philosophy that deserves embracing. I will try.

Regie's Blog

All marriage counselors tell you to never cross that line.

Every married couple knows where that line is. It’s the point of no return …the thing you cannot UN-say. Once you have shared enough of your soul with another person, they know where your weak spots and painful places are. And as married people, we have a sacred duty to each other, to never go near those places.

If you know your spouse has a horrible body image and has battled that her entire life, you NEVER say anything about her weight …even if she’s struggling with it. In fact, ESPECIALLY when she’s struggling with it. If that is her issue, your saying, “you know, it wouldn’t hurt you to lose a few pounds,” is shattering trust you might not ever get back. They are only words and there are only a few of them. But they represent something deep…

View original post 1,149 more words

Advertisements

Life with Misty One Year Later

We have had our Misty for almost 1 year now. She was born May 2 and moved in with us July 9. She weighed 66 pounds at her one year vet check. Misty has nicely settled in to life as our dog. She has learned all her basic commands like sit, stay, shake paw, and lie down. She walks very nicely at heel without pulling. She knows to bark at strangers and strange things but to ignore the ordinary around us. She has our schedule figured out and she knows how to let us know when she needs/wants something. She prevents us from being too absorbed in our work by nudging our elbow aside and sticking her head in our lap. She is still a lot of puppy, getting overexcited and forgetting her manners sometimes, but it is less and less and for shorter and shorter periods of time.

IMG_1161

Misty is a good swimming partner. Here we are in Lake Manitoba escaping the heat.

She has her own private space in the yard that is fenced and secure. She goes in and out whenever she wants and sits on the deck watching the world go by or she digs or plays with her toys. She likes squeaky toys and stuffies. Her bed is beside our desks because she likes that best. She is not allowed to sleep on our bed with us because the cat won’t allow it, so she sleeps in the doorway or by our desks at night.

One of our favourite activities is our daily walk. We walk out of town onto a country road going about a kilometre or so out and then back for a typical daily walk of two kilometres. Sometimes we go more, sometimes less depending on weather and how we feel. Misty, being black, really feels the heat so we have to be careful not to overexert in heat. (If its hot we go swimming instead.)

Misty is not yet 100% reliable on recall, especially if she spots another animal. Since we often see a skunk, and the occasional coyote or bear on our walks I still keep her on leash. (That goes double for that resident skunk we see or smell almost every walk.) The 27 foot horse lunge line is perfect for these walks as she can range up and down and off to the sides almost as much as off leash but she’s still safe. There is always lots to see and sniff.

For me the best part of the walk is the ever changing wildflowers. I know dogs don’t see colours the way we do but I like to think her smell palette is as pleased by the scents of our walks as my eyes are by the wildflowers. She acts like that is true.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Taking your dog for a walk in the country is not just good exercise. It is food for the soul. There is a sense of peace and calm and perspective walking a dog. If I didn’t have my dog insisting we break to take our walk, we’d probably hardly ever get around to it. Dogs live in the moment and love the moment in which they live. I am blessed to have good health and a nice dog to share a daily walk with and remind to let go of my work and pause and go look at wildflowers. No wonder dog people are fitter and live longer.

The Garden of a Full Time Tumble Weed (repost from 2012)

Originally posted May 27, 2012 on Full-time Tumbleweed


I started Full-time Tumble Weeds in 2009 when we first began our great adventure as a couple living full time in an RV. We did this for five years before we settled down in a stick house and rejoined settled society. This old post is about how to have a small container garden in a small place with a small budget. I think it is still relevant so I decided to report it.

Garden? How does a full time tumbleweed manage a garden? I have a long love hate relationship with gardens. As a child we always had a small vegetable patch in the house. It was a hangover from the “victory garden” days, a habit picked up by my English maternal grandparents I think. My father was a farm boy and the family garden was a constant feature of his life. Some of the best summer treats come from the garden like strawberries put by in the summer to be eaten in the dead of winter. My father’s family was very poor in the Great Depression and the vegetable garden was not just a political statement like the victory garden. It was a necessity. They would not have made it through the winter without that vegetable garden and the hours of work that went into it.

I spent three years being a farmwife before a combination of drought, 22% interest rates and my ex husband’s drinking destroyed that life. I had a huge garden from which we got an entire year’s worth of fresh, canned and frozen veggies. Managing that garden took several hours of often back breaking work each day. I would go to the garden in the morning before the heat set in. I would weed, hoe, stake, tie and all other things gardeners must do. I would pick everything that was ready to be processed. The rest of the day would be spent in the kitchen labouring over boiling salt water for pickles, kettles of stewing tomatoes and the like. At the end of each day, after checking the seals on the Mason jars, I would carry them to the dirt basement shelving or stack them in the freezer to wait for winter when we would eat them. I was endlessly proud of the rows on rows of tomatoes, pickles, jams, jellies, sauces and my freezer full of frozen beans, carrots, peas, corn, my apple pies and peach pancake sauce and all the rest. As a farmwife I knew what my grandmother meant when she told me it was a relief when the first frost came because no matter how much you love gardening, it’s good when the season ends because you can stop working so hard.

Life changes and so did mine and we left the farm. Later, I left the drunk and I restarted school when I restarted my life. Every spring I planted a garden again. Years later, the garden became a source of shame and regret, planted each spring with only the best of intentions and then my life as a scientist left me too busy to keep it up properly. I would only harvest a few small tomatoes and some over ripe yellow beans from a bed choked with crabgrass and thistles. Giving the garden up when we gave up the house was a relief. Yet I missed it so much. I began to hunger for a garden patch.

My first return to gardening was when I purchased two containers of mixed herbs at Superstore our first summer as “full timers”. One pot was a called “Mediterranean Herbs,” a mix of cilantro, thyme, rosemary and basil.  The pot other was a “Barbecue Herb” consisting of a set of basil, oregano, chives and parsley plants. I found myself really enjoying those two pots. For not just the summer, but a whole year afterward I frequently enjoyed clipping fresh herbs from my pot and cooking with them. My greatest culinary triumph was serving company grilled lamb chops made with my own fresh rosemary and thyme in a campground outside Boston.

The herb experiment went so well that the following summer I decided to try to expand it. I bought a long shallow trough and planted beans and an eggplant and one green pepper in it. I also bought two pots with large tomatoes in them. The tomatoes gave me a great crop. I was eagerly watching 3 dozen or so romas and red early girls, just beginning to ripen, until Fred spotted them. Fred is my big indeterminate lab, shepard, pointer rescue who was deprived of food as a puppy. He eats everything but onions and orange skins. I had moved the tomatoes to a spot to get more sun and unnoticed also moved them into range of his chain. In the end Fred left us eight tomatoes.  The stuff in the trough alternated between being flooded and dried out and produced exactly four yellow beans, too old to be useful. Fred got those too but, I gave them to him. It was an experience nearly as bitter as finding my vast garden choked with weeds and grass and deciding one August I had to forever give up on the big farm garden.

Over this winter I decided to try again. My first ever big farm garden had been a smashing success. In fact, I foolishly outdid my poor mother-in-law, a mistake she never forgave me for. I did it by advance planning and research. I started by getting everyone I knew who had succeeded at gardening to give me advice, sifting through it and taking what I liked and leaving the rest. (I had no interest in lima beans.) I then borrowed books on gardening from the library, researched it all in advance and wrote everything out in a little notebook with a cute kitten on the cover. I finished my research that year when the seed catalogues arrived and I could now check hardiness zones and choose varieties. Armed with my research I had a very successful garden. I did follow some of my mother-in-law’s advice, but only some, and when I outdid her and everyone was praising my produce, I was too naive to understand how much I had hurt her. She did earn her customary first place ribbon at the local Agricultural fair for her gladiolas but, I had to say it, that was only because I didn’t bother with flowers. Oh, the self centred arrogance of a 20 year old, especially one who succeeds.

This winter I repeated the exercise only this time from the perspective of a container garden for a very small space. Also since books are heavy and take up poundage we couldn’t afford while living full time in the trailer, I used my computer and the internet to research container gardening. I learned that my shallow trough that failed did so because it was too small. Small containers dry out too quickly and can’t hold nutrients. Also I used cheap soil. In a container garden you can’t skimp on soil because that resource is already limited by the container. I decided I would use the best quality soil with those little water absorbing and releasing pellets and that has plant food worked right in it. ($7.99 a bag at Canadian Tire for a total investment of $71.91 in good soil.)

I also planned my garden content carefully. Living in a trailer I simply can’t plan on canning and my freezer barely holds two full sized loaves of bread. The most important consideration was to grow only what we could eat as it became ripe or dry and pack in small spaces. We have developed the habit of frequenting farmer’s markets where we can. I know approximately how much we can eat of any one thing before it goes bad. The days when a farmer’s market meant cheap prices are long gone. Farmer’s markets these days are now rackets with racketeers who merrily charge extraordinary premiums from city folk who want the privilege of eating locally grown produce. If you want cheap today, you have to go to the grocery store. Thus, I know what is expensive. My experience as a farm wife has taught me how much one plant can produce under good conditions. So my little container garden concentrates on herbs and greens and goes light on low-cost root veggies we eat little of or can get very cheaply. I did dedicate two pots to potatoes. Supposedly, when I flip the pot over at the end of the summer, I will find the pot full of fresh new potatoes. Nothing tastes like fresh new potatoes with the wet dirt only just washed off before they go in the cooking pot.

Life in a trailer means that the you have little space. And so I read up on how to maximize space. I designed a tiny garden that was made of containers that are set up so the total size of the garden is only 2m wide and 1.2m across (4X6ft). I then added a small 1.2m high trellis system to the plan to have plants climb up on instead of spreading over the ground. I made it with 10 raw 1X2 spruce lumber at $1.45/peice, some spare lumber in the fire bin of the campground and plastic netting at $6.99 bringing my investment in the garden to $93.40). All of this information I found from two websites. One was all about patio gardening. The other one was, of all things, for survivalists in the city after the zombies arrive and you have to grow your supply of food on an apartment balcony between battles. (You really can find anything on the internet.)

I also wanted my garden to be environmentally friendly. For me, that also must mean cheap. After pricing out official garden containers of the appropriate depth in the greenhouses, I decided they were crazy high priced. My precious cat required I produce bimonthly plastic kitty litter pails. (this was before I tilt trained him.) Instead of recycling them, as I usually do, I started collecting them. My trailer is currently full of bags of kitty litter stored in every available space because I don’t store much, being in a trailer. I soon had to buy a lot more kitty litter then I actually needed and stowed the litter elsewhere. Good thing we are not planning on moving anytime soon. I must have a hundred extra kilos of litter stashed in every nook and cranny. I also have the satisfaction of reusing the kitty litter pails and saving myself about $240 in garden containers. When the season is over I can leave the buckets in the recycle bin on my way out of the campground without regret. I did find the smiling cat on the side of the pail a bit too disconcerting and my current landlord, who is exceptionally tolerant about most things, was sending dismayed looks my way. I invested in a can of deep green spray paint and covered the kitties. (Total cost now up to $99.39 but a very substantial improvement in appearance resulting from the cosmetic touchup.)

Last, I wanted to use rainwater. My experience as a farmwife has shown me that no matter how much well water you give the garden, the plants are only sustained. To really see a leap in lush grow and get the best produce you simply must have rain. Rain in Manitoba tends to come by the deluge between long stretches of drought. I got lucky and found a portable collapsable rain barrel in a clearance bin for $10. I found some sump tubing in a garage sale for $5 and I now have a nice supply of rainwater for watering. (Total cost $104.39.)

The plants cost me the most. I found out that the lower prices of the old time farmer’s market actually can still be found in greenhouses outside the city. Instead of $15.99/planted tomato in a pot, I visited the local Ile Des Chennes greenhouse. I found six fine plants for $7.99. Since I did so well with potted herbs, I bought 12 herb plants. I also bought two cucumber plants, an eggplant, a zucchini plant, eight pepper plants of assorted types, one single seed potato cut into two, a bag of seed garlic, 100 purple set onions, and several packets of seed for lettuce, spinach, beets, climbing peas, green, yellow and pole beans. Total cost of $85. With the tomato cages, I figure I spent about $200. The final and most wonderful touch was my daughter gave me a little welcome sign and a bright windsock. Those two items added that perfect cheerful gardener’s touch.

I was fretting about the cost of my garden and telling my husband I had no idea if I could produce $200 worth of vegetable to justify the cost. He made that exasperated noise he makes when I am refusing to spend money on myself.

“Are you getting pleasure from your garden?”

“Yes, a lot.”

“And how much is your pleasure worth? Minimum wage? Figure out that.”

I laughed, recalling again how I always say you can only live in a trailer full time with someone you really like. He was reminding me yet again of why I don’t just love him, I like him. I am getting pleasure from my little garden, a lot more than $50/month worth less whatever veggies we finally eat from it.

The kiss of the sun for pardon, the song of birds for mirth,

One is nearer God’s heart in a garden, than anywhere else on earth.

(from the poem by Dorothy Frances Gurney)

Results of the tiny garden:

Originally Posted September 24, 2012

The air is cool here at night now and that first frost is going to come anytime. Most of the garden is winding down so it’s time to write about the outcome of my little container garden experiment.

What worked:

We had lots of tomatoes, really delicious ones. We had a lot of peppers. The smaller peppers, chillies, sweet and hot banana and jalapeno really produced well. The green onions were wonderful. The herbs did very well. I was especially pleased by my lemon thyme plant which gave us the most wonderfully flavoured lamb we ever had. We had weeks of lovely salads spiced with fresh herbs and those were a mouth watering delight. And the rain barrel? Greatest thing since my deluxe honey wagon. One good rainstorm gave me a couple of weeks of rainwater for my garden.Image

What sort of worked:

The green and yellow bean plants produced a lot in a small space. However I only had six plants so even though each plant produced a lot, there was never enough for a real meal of beans. The beans got tossed into whatever I was cooking and so I found out fresh beans in a curry or stew is just dandy. I planned on using my beets just for beet greens but they grew faster than I planned. The leaves were bitter quickly in the season so I have quite a few beets. My two cucumber plants were a surprise. One that was on the sunny side of the garden space in the big pot produced over a dozen cucumber and is still growing like crazy and will likely produce until frost. The other, getting only a little less sun and in the smaller pot did very poorly and never produced a single fruit. Lesson learned, cucumbers need full sun and the big pot. The large red pepper plant did not do well. It produced two enormous peppers, fell over and laid there for weeks before the red started showing.

What failed: I now know zucchini plants need to have the male and female flowers to cross pollinate. My one plant did marvellously well producing one glorious bloom after another, one at a time, alternating male and female so at no point did I get the required fertilization resulting in fruit. My eggplant is only now producing blooms. I fully expect frost will get it before I get any eggplants. Next year I will put in two zucchini and forget about the eggplant. The pole beans and snow peas all died from white mould before producing anything. I guess I need resistant strains or I have to give up on those. I could plant more green and yellow beans instead. I thought the potatoes did not do well in the pot. The plants grew like crazy, towered over the other stuff and then dried out too fast and died. However imagine my surprise when I dumped the pot out at clean up and found it was indeed full of lovely potatoes. And they were so delicious!

 

Final tally-I think cost wise I about broke even in terms of money spent with the salad greens pushing it all up to the top. Taste wise, of course, we came out way way ahead. I certainly got a lot of pleasure from having my wee garden. One nice little unexpected bonus was the tiny garden gave everyone an excuse to drop by and chat me up. I am a shy person, and I don’t do well with deliberately reaching out for the purpose of meeting people. However the little garden meant I always had something to talk about and I was outside to do it. Many people commented on my cheerful little garden with the bright windsock and the nice little welcome sign. My garden brought pleasure beyond just for me.  I will do it again next year.

Installing a ceiling fan.

This is another older draft post from 2015 I didn’t finish that I am finally getting around to posting.

I have always loved ceiling fans because I find their slow movement relaxing and I like how they distribute the air and prevent hot and cold spots. When we saw a small ceiling fan, still in the box, donated old stock up for sale in the Renuzit store for $65 I simply could not resist. Installing it would be a royal pain, I knew that. Even so I wanted it.

 

In the past I have always hired an electrician to it. That was inevitably a multicuss job for them and more than once I had to have them back in because it did not work properly. I decided to give a shot myself. I have learned a lot more about electrical work since the last time I had a fan installed.

Projects like this are best handled with a lot more time spent planning than doing. I think that’s the biggest mistake I made in my early days of Doing It Myself. I’d just start and find myself missing tools, having to take things apart and put them back together again and often stuff just did not go. Since then I have learned that planning is the most important of doing.

Mount the bracket - Install Ceiling Fan

I started with with you tube videos on the topic and a video from The Home Depot. I love it when people put up clear easy to follow do it yourself videos. After watching three or four I felt this was indeed a doable job.   You put all the parts together, connect all the wires correctly and then it goes. Next step was to read the manual. I find I have to read the manual through carefully about three times checking my understanding as I go. Certain things stand out and stick with each reading. Even after that I have to consult the manual on each step along the way. Also inevitable is that you hit snags and have questions come up as you do.

My first problem was the manual clearly specifies you need to have a proper outlet box designed specifically for a ceiling fan. It must be able to hold 35 pounds of weight. (My fan is a small one. Most of them are a lot heavier than that and many are very heavy. Now the question is do I use the old outlet box or tear it out and buy a new one and instal that? After much more research on line I discovered that the old fashioned outlet steel outlet box I have is rated for 50 pounds of weight assuming it is properly installed. I also discovered this old fashioned steel box was installed by first building a wooden box of two by fours around two sides and fitting them into the corner of the joist further increasing its capacity. This gives a four sided box. This is the old fashioned way of doing things.

The new plastic boxes don’t require all that effort to install. But the new plastic boxes cannot be used for more than 7 pounds of weight. So the old fashioned way would seem to be the right way for when, some 40 years later, someone comes along to retrofit something. Everything in this old house was done right and done with love and attention to detail. The very well installed steel outlet box is just one of many examples I have come across. These old houses were built to last, often by the people who would live in them or their neighbours who would be around to complain to if the job was done wrong. So things tended to be done right. Nowadays a stranger arrives, slaps together a whole development and sells off the houses and vanishes. No one thinks about retrofitting or what will happen 40+ years later.

Permits and regulations | City of Vancouver

I digress. Having established that the old steel box can hold the fan with about 15 pounds or a 30% safety margin I began. Ceiling fans have a safety cable you attach that the whole unit can hang from. This allows two things. First you can don’t have to have someone standing and holding the dang thing while you connect wires. Second you have something so if the whole thing does give the fan shouldn’t hit the floor. So my first job after getting the old outlet cover off was to put in a special screw for the purpose of hanging the fan by the back up cable. (Not all fans have it. Some have a cup the fan sits in instead as in this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aVL4FdMyCfo)

SAM_5583

Next following the directions, I got the motor part hung. There is an upper housing that is just decorative that hides all the wires and such from view. Connecting the wire meant another pause to check on line. You see, my house has some old style thick copper wiring with red being the hot wire and black being the neutral wires and the ground is bare and attached to the steel box. All the wiring arrives on site in a long steel encased conduit. In the wiring diagram for connecting the fan that came with the manual, black is the “hot” one and it is for the fan motor, white is neutral. There is also a blue wire for the lights. There were three possible configurations for the switch. One can have an on off switch for the fan, a separate light switch and a dimmer with that. (Hence all the wires.) However the simplest of the three diagrams is to join the light and motor fan hot wires (black and blue) to the hot wire from the house (red) and just have power off and on and adjust the light and motor using the manual switches at the motor. Since doing it any other way would involve tearing up walls to reinstall all the wiring, we are going with the simplest configuration.

Connecting the wire has to be done properly. I learned from reconnecting my solar panels and my macerator pump. If the connection isn’t right you get trouble. The worst trouble is with the loose connection that lets some power in but makes the electricity have to jump over a space. That leads to heat and that leads to fire. I made  a poor connection while extending the wires on my macerator a few years ago. In rewiring my macerator I created a “hot spot” and while I did not burn myself, I sure gave myself a real scare when I was handling the wire and it was hot. The plastic electrical was partially melted. Because of that scare I had previously researched about the connecting wires. My preference is twist nuts. I used them for connecting lights and fans in outlet boxes and I had the correct sizes and types. When connected properly the nuts are solid if you give them a yank and all the wires are buried in deep with no bare wire showing.

Once the main housing was in the rest was easy. I added the fins and the light shades and then we were done. It worked! Three years later we are still enjoying the benefits of a lovely ceiling fan that keep the air moving. In a small house stale air is a constant issue so the little fan is lovely to have.

Another Garden Update June 2018

We are now in the halcyon days of late spring and early summer. It has been halcyon except for that tornado warning we had two weeks ago. (It was radar warned and did not not touch down.) I love to sit on my deck on my old-fashioned wood rocker seat and enjoy myself in my little piece of the Garden of Eden. The sun rose officially at 5:24 this morning but the dawn actually began about 4:00am when the light first begins and the birds start singing. Last night the sun took an hour and half to finally set at 10:53pm. For the hour and a half the sky was in such a glorious display of pinks, and golds on low puffy “drying clouds” after the rainstorms to the south that I couldn’t bring myself to go inside and get a camera to try to capture it. Today I decided to try to capture some of my plants beginning with my “from seed” flower experiment which has paid off handsomely.

My perennial bed continues its lovely display. Daffodils and tulips have long vanished and we are on the tail end of a glorious display of irises with yellow day lilies about to take their place on floral display. last summer I got some variegated ground cover and some ornamental grass and they taken off very nicely in a bare spot. My middle child gave me a red dwarf lily for my birthday two years ago and it is about to gift me again with orange blooms.

I have one spot that is a mix of gravel and sand and each year native annuals come up. I never know what I am going to get. Every year I have blue bells. This year there are several others. I have no idea what they are but I am hopeful they will have pretty blooms for me. I collect the seeds from local native plants and sprinkle them about. We have one one strip of tall grass we let go wild. The dandelion seeds feed flocks of yellow American goldfinches and this year our efforts to naturalize are beginning to pay off. In addition to the lady slippers (which chose not to bloom this year) we now have a lovely tall marsh grass that is found all over the ditches and wet areas. It grows taller than a man and is spectacular by fall. I tried hard to get a small plant called pineapple weed growing a bare spot near our septic tank. You find it around here growing in ugly bare spots that support nothing else. This year it has finally appeared by the septic tank and I am delighted.

The zucchinis are already producing more than we can eat. In addition to frozen zucchinni lasagna I have been unloading some with the neighbours. I have one cucumber almost ready to eat and more to come. In another week or I can start pickling baby dills. My tomatoes have green tomatoes on them but we are months yet from red ones to eat. It’s hard to wait. Nothing tastes like a tomato fresh off the fine.

The vegetable garden from seed is doing very well. I noticed the ground does well under potatoes so this year I planted potatoes all around the outer boundary of the seed garden. They are growing well. We really enjoyed the corn we got last year but it wasn’t enough so I planted double this year, Every time I look it has grown in our long summer days. Beans, carrots, peas lettuce, dill from seed, and kale also seem to be doing well. Soon we can have fresh salads.

My herb garden continues to delight. I have garlic, oregano, lemon balm, dill started indoors, and I put the peppers in that garden as well this year. I have had to harvest the oregano and its sun drying on the lid of the septic tank as I write.

IMG_2796

In the fruit department it looks like we will have lots of raspberries this year. it’s hard to believe my little single cane is now a full sized raspberry patch. It’s nice to share the bounty with the bumblebees. I have counted as many as forty fat bumblebees in the raspberries at one time. Last summer I planted four apricot trees of a variety that is supposedly cold tolerant to our vicious winters. Three of the four did not take and T&T seeds, my favourite seed supply company, cheerfully refunded my money. I ordered two more and both are budding green this year. I have strawberries almost ready to eat. Last year the strawberries were stunted and funny looking and the birds got most of them. This year I fertilized and watered heavily and the berries look normal and hopefully will be delicious. My Saskatoon bushes are growing my leaps and bounds and have already doubled their size but no fruit yet. My apple tree with the good apples has done very well this year. Last year we got nothing due to a late snow and heavy frost just as the blossoms started. This year we got lucky. We can look forward to a nice crop of apples for juice and pies in August. 

I am leaving the rhubarb alone this year, except for fertilizing and weeding around it. I want it to grow bigger. Same with the asparagus which started as just a single stalk three years ago and is now a big bush about to bloom for the first time. We have a long drainage ditch beside the seed garden with a steep slope that is wet after every rainfall. The should be a good place for fallen seed to take root and grow. 

IMG_2784

Asparagus fern

Two ornamental trees that are not native to our area have fared differently. The variegated dogwoods are dead or dying. They have  been doing that since we moved in. I am torn between trying to rescue the ones that have some life left, letting them die, or mercifully ending it by digging them up. On the other hand a small tree that blooms each year but seems to do little else was heavily infested with aphids and always on the verge of dying. Each year I worked fighting the aphids, spraying, cutting off infected leaves and poisoning the ants that tend the aphids. This year I see no signs of aphids and the tree has rather abruptly nearly doubled in size and is actually looking quite spectacular which I never thought it would. So I am leaning toward trying to save the poor dogwoods.

 

And of course there’s my husband’s pond, his addition to our life. He has a passion for diatoms and we grow a lot of them. I joke with the neighbours about he grows green slime on purpose.

IMG_2776

I am a very lucky person to be able to live in such a wonderful spot of God’s earth. I am richly and truly blessed. I do think the Garden of Eden was modelled on Manitoba in summer. That helps to make up for the way Dante’s ninth circle of hell, the frozen wasteland, visits this province each winter. Our seasons are a lesson in how we must seize the moment while the weather is good and enjoy nature’s bounty while we can because winter is always coming.

“The world is so full of a number of things, I ’m sure we should all be as happy as kings.”

Robert Louis Stevenson

New Storm Doors

In our continuing effort to make our little house on the prairie into a snug warm place for us in winter and a cool welcoming place is summer we recently installed two new storm doors. Inner doors are always solid and often steel with insulation to keep out the cold winter. The storm door is the outer door that faces the elements.

IMG_0636

Old screen door that was falling apart due to water seeping into the underlying particle board, freezing and expanding in the winter. Some of the plastic parts also broke in the cold as harsh prairie temperatures makes many plastics brittle.

We call them screen doors because they include screens so that in summer you can leave the heavy protective inner door open and let the breeze through the house while keeping insects out. We also call them storm doors because another function is to keep the wind during winter from hitting the inner door. This dramatically increases the insulation value of the inner door. For those of you from southern climates a screen door is normally a light flimsy thing, often made with pretty wood work and scrolls. Such a door would never make it through our cold winters. Snow would get in behind the screen and pile up and prevent the door from opening or closing properly. The wood would freeze and swell. Particle board is commonly used in construction of outer doors but it just can’t take our winters. Water gets in and freezes and expands and turns particle board into fragile misshapen crummy stuff in short order. The weight of snow can also break flimsy doors. Storm doors need to be sturdy and made from materials impervious to extreme cold, extreme heat and both wet and dry conditions.

I wanted was something with as much openness are possible to let lots of light and air in. When we were in the south we were drawn to the pretty white screen doors with decorative scroll work and lots of openness. I also liked the feel of the security doors we saw all over during a trip to Mexico. These doors open the whole doorway while providing security.

IMG_2749

Both doors are entirely impractical for our harsh climate but I was pleasantly surprised to find a perfect storm door for my tastes. It was light and open for summer with windows the entire length and a drop down screen. It was made in Canada with no flimsy particle board to get wet and fall apart. These doors were aluminum and steel and tempered glass construction perfect for our harsh Canadian climate.

IMG_2747

The doors are made by AluminArt. One of the nice things about their doors is they have a wonderful warranty. If you mess up on the installation they will repair or replace the door or the part. That made it even more attractive. We haven’t installed a storm door before so we that helped us to decide. One thing I really liked was the dual closure system. There are pump closers on top and bottom. This makes the door quiet and yet feels so secure. You can’t slam this door. They came with underside door sweepers so that there is a nice flap to keep the wind out on the underside where the door meets the house. In addition there is a nice steel kick plate to protect the bottom of the white painted aluminum. I added my own additional layer of weather stripping and we rescued the chain back up from the old doors.

 

We found these doors when we were out looking for flooring. We didn’t buy them right away. Our lack of unlimited wealth means we have to stick to a budget. The budget meant the doors would have to wait. It was a good thing we did wait. After we had finished the flooring, we were in the same store to pick up some hinges and we went to admire our future doors again. We found out they where on sale for 20% off. It was also no tax days. Good and Services Tax (7%) and Provincial Sales Tax (8%) always add a substantial chunk to any purchase. This “no tax day” sale saved us a total of 35%. There’s budgets and then there are time to break out the credit card and go for it. This was one of those times.

IMG_2745

With the screen down half the door is screen.

Installing the doors went more smoothly than I expected. I watched a couple of videos on youtube first and then I carefully read the detailed Aluminart instructions.  I was fortunate in that in spite of the poor quality of the preexisting doors, the previous owner had done a great job of installing them. Everything was all square, plomb and right. We simply had to remove the old hardware and supports and put the new ones in their place. It was not hard work. It was just tedious and demanded attention to detail. I took out a lot of screws and and put a lot of screws back in. Up down, in out, lots of drilling, lots of muscle. It took me about 12 hours to get the entire thing done. If I made my living that way I expect I could get it down to two hours per door. I sincerely hope I never have to!

IMG_2746

Door had dual latches so even though our dog knows how to open the upper latch she can’t open the lower one.

With the doors open we can see out to both our decks and have a lovely view of our yard. We were delighted how much more light the house has in it now.

IMG_1109

Our dog and cat seem to really like the doors. They can see out anytime they want to.

One more step to making our little house our perfectly lovely home. I still need to do some painting around the disturbed trim. I have some touchups to do. I have the stuff…. well do you ever get everything right in a house?

No one associated with Aluminart or the retail store I purchased these doors from gave me anything of any sort for saying these nice things about the doors in my blog.

Post I missed. Pawdi Gras 2018

In February we took our pup Misty to Pawdi Gras, an annual Humane Society fund raiser in Apalachicola Florida. We had attended the event with Fred and Trusty two years before. The two dogs had a blast, especially Trusty who could never resist an opportunity to be admired and to pose for pictures. I figured this might be fun for Misty and since she was eleven months old, also great opportunity to socialize and train her. She did indeed have a blast.

IMG_1003

Misty kept looking up at me with this expression of bewildered delight.

Many merchants, and other doggy type businesses put up kiosks in the park area and they sell all the things dog related. We are all there for the dogs so there is little to no evidence of the political divide. I did see one pit bull dressed up as President Trump and everyone, Republican and Democrat, laughed at that. In addition to doggy things, the event is also attended by various other wildlife and animal rescue group. A band was hired to play Mardi Gras appropriate tunes. And of course there was a lot of southern food, most of it deep fried. The crowning moment was the arrival of the King and Queen, two dogs, the longest term residents in the shelter, seeking homes.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The event consists of everyone gathering in the town’s central park location. For $5 you can buy a wrist band that entitles you to walk your dog in the parade. For $25 you can ride the route in your golf cart. In addition assorted city officials and other dignitaries attend in floats and open cars. Everyone else lines the streets and cheers on the dogs. At the appointed time all the parade people gather in one location and everyone introduces themselves and admires everyone else dogs. We walk the six block or so of the parade route and then we hang about and chat and visit the kiosks. At least one restaurant has a dog friendly back porch so our plan was to retire there for a bite after the big event. We were delighted this year because our Florida host, Jack Rudloe of Gulf Specimen Marine Lab was in attendance with his special lady friend Jane Brandt and their two rescued part pit bulls, the ubiquitous dog of the south. We also had our guest scientist from Italy, Luiga Santella, with us to experience this insane American event.

IMG_1575

Jack and Rita and Jane and Belle on the dock on the Apalachicola river.

Misty was totally and absolutely enthralled by the whole thing. She had never seen so many assorted dogs in one place. No matter where she turned there were doggy noses and butts to sniff. Most of them were older well behaved dogs and she took her cue from them and sat prettily when told and otherwise stayed near me. She often looked up at me for reassurance this insanity was okay. We dressed her up in a feather boa and she didn’t mind that at all. She was really excited and occasionally trembled but she was having such a good time I decided it was a positive puppy stress. When the time came to walk the parade route she joined right in. She didn’t seem to quite know what to do since half of the people were walking and half were sitting by the side cheering. She concentrated on staying near me although she couldn’t resist running up to a few cheering children sitting the curb to bestow kisses. Since this is a doggy event, all the children present were doggy savy and they accepted her exuberant puppy kisses with delight and understanding.

IMG_1576

Jack, Rita and Luiga

 

Halfway through the walk Misty abruptly left the parade and lay down beside a nearby tire. I felt horrible. She was overwhelmed by Pawdi Gras and her poor puppy brain had apparently imploded. I knelt beside her and reassured her and then decided I would take her away. Kind strangers offered her a drink of water which she gratefully slurped up and a puppy treat appeared out of nowhere which she gulped down.  When I got up to go and head away from the crowd she resisted and strained to get into her place in the parade. I let her guide me back into the commotion and she was fine with it, tail wagging, eyes bright, a totally happy engaged dog. She had just needed a break from the excitement. I was very proud of her and how she handled the break.

IMG_0999

After the parade we dispersed and found Jack and Jane and Misty had a joyous greeting with her best buddy, Jack’s Rita and then we wandered off to eat. Misty was mostly well behaved in the restaurant porch where we had a bite to eat. She was tired and stayed quietly at my feet with only a few reminders.

We got turned around on the trip back to the truck and we couldn’t find it. I gave Misty the command “Truck! Truck!” which means run to the truck and wait there to jump in. Misty had learned that imitating Fred. Misty knew exactly where the truck was and she pulled the right way and we followed and lo and behold there was the truck. She didn’t take the most direct route, but she instead followed the route we had taken on leaving the truck so I assume she used our scent trail from earlier to back track to the truck. We were again very proud of our clever smart girl. We loaded up and headed home. Misty fell asleep immediately. She slept deeply and on return home she voluntarily went straight to her bed and, after a long drink and a snack, she slept without a peep until morning. She twitched a lot as her sleeping puppy brain absorbed that intense happy day. Hopefully, God willing and the creek don’t rise, as they say in the south, we can do Pawdi Gras again next year.