Thursday, July 29, 2010

mirror, mirror

I was asked by our neighbour's daughter-in-law to "jazz up" a mirror she bought at a garage sale. I just put a couple of flowers running up the side, to leave most of the mirror still functional. I've never worked on a mirror before, but think it turned out nicely. Reflected in the mirror is part of one of our flower gardens.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Evening Grosbeaks

One of the best things about our lifestyle is that we get to enjoy all the little things that most people don't slow down enough to see. Lots of people and families rush about and have their lives so scheduled that there isn't time to just enjoy.

I am lucky enough to have time to sit and watch the birds. I can picture my son rolling his eyes, wow mom...real exciting. But I think it is. This June we had 2 pairs of evening grosbeaks arrive. They always seem to travel in pairs. One eats from our feeders while the other keeps watch. Now we have at least 4 juveniles visiting the feeders too. The juveniles are already the same size as the parents, but they still have some down mixed in with their feathers and don't have their colour yet. Just 4 days ago, the parents were still helping the young ones to eat. Both the male and female help out their young ones. They will go to the feeder while the young ones wait at the top of the stand. The adult will crack the seed out of the sunflower shell, fly up to the top of the stand, and pass the seed to the mouth of the young one. Sometimes the seed gets dropped and the process starts again.

I watched all of this happening, but got a good close up look when I looked at some photographs I took...that's when I discovered that the adults remove the shell from the sunflower seeds.

Only a few days later, and the young ones now visit the feeders on their own. Things change very quickly in nature! They are still a little clumsy when they try to land on the feeder and it's comical to watch them fine tune there landings.

How lucky we are to have the time to watch this progression.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Mini Vacation - Day 3

Day 3 of our trip (July 13) had us spending time on the Northern side of Nova Scotia. We started from just outside of Antigonish, and had breakfast at the Dragonfly Cafe. It was early in the morning, and we weren't long. We did leave the windows down for the girls (our 2 dogs), but it was awfully hot. So, for the rest of the day, we didn't stop unless the dogs came out of the car with us. This meant a lot of driving and looking at scenery, which is what we like to do best.

Antigonish is a lovely "university town". I would have liked to explore it a little more (and look at some real estate posters!) but John wisely kept me away from that.From Antigonish we took Route 337, around St. Georges Bay up to Cape George. Our first stop was Mahoney Beach, for a morning swim. Not for us, but Cassie loves the water!
We made a quick stop at the North Bay Fisherman's Coop...working wharves are always a good photo op. It was too early for the fish and chips canteen (probably not to early for us to eat fish and chips, but the canteen wasn't yet open!) The landscape reminded me of the Cape Breton Highlands, although my photo doesn't show it very well. We rounded the point and switched to Route 245. We stopped in Arisaig and took in the view from the lighthouse. The original lighthouse was built in 1898 but burned down in the mid 1930s. The community rebuilt a replica in 2007. In the distance (upper right corner) of this photo, you can see a large rock. This is called Frenchman's Barn and local legend has it that in the 17th century the crew of a French sailing ship mistook the rock for a building in the fog. The vessel ran aground nearby, unfortunately a common occurrance back then.

After our coastal tour, it was time to head back home...a quick jump on the highway and we travelled from New Glasgow to Truro. Once through Truro, we went back to the backroads and toured around Cobequid Bay and the Fundy Shore. This is a familiar route for us, so there was no more photo taking...time to get back home!

It was a lovely breakaway.Already planning our next one...

Monday, July 19, 2010

Eastern Shore - Day 2

Day 2 of our mini vacation had us heading farther up the Eastern Shore of Nova Scotia. Another day of fog, rain, and fog. I'm sure that the people who live in that part of NS would disagree, and my opinion might have been swayed by the weather, but it seemed a very isolated part of the province (this said by a person who lives "in the middle of nowhere"). It was still a great day...both of us love "going for a drive".
We ended the day by rounding up towards the Nothern Shore...we passed the Canso Causeway (the link to Cape Breton Island) and John listened to me whine because we weren't crossing over. Cape Breton is one of my favourite places in the world...love, love, love it there. But we're saving that for another trip.
For our second night, we stopped at a place just outside of Antigonish...a string of little cottages. Unfortunately, there was an accident on the highway which had all the highway traffic re-routed directly in front of where we were staying. After a wonderful dinner in Antigonish, we settled down in our cabin for a very, very loud night's sleep. The topper that sent me into a fitful of hysterical giggles was when a train went by...it sounded like it was going to come right through the cabin. I resigned myself to a night of no sleep, but thankfully the traffic got routed back to the highway and there were no more trains!
I'll try to post some photos from Day 3 tomorrow...proving that we can actually travel in the sunshine.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Eastern Shore - Day One

We recently took a short little trip around parts of Nova Scotia. We really wanted to explore the Eastern Shore...a part of NS that we hadn't been to before. We left our place (just north of Bridgewater) and travelled the "fast route" to Halifax, crossed over to Dartmouth, and then started on the slower, scenic route along the coast. We stopped our first night in Port Dufferin and our second night in Tracadie (up and around the corner)...both marked on the map below with pink "x's".Wouldn't you know it....we had weeks and weeks of hot, sunny, dry weather at our place. The first day of our "staycation" was rainy, foggy, rainy...and did I mention the rain? We stopped briefly at Lawrencetown Beach so I could take a few quick photos. Lawrencetown is a hot spot for surfers all year round. From there, we went to Martinique Beach and stopped to take a long walk with the dogs. Martinique Beach is the longest sandy beach in Nova Scotia....5 kilometres long (about 3 miles).It wasn't raining by this time, but was very foggy. Here is a surfer returning to the beach in the fog.It was a lovely long walk, and we found two very large sand dollars, a special treasure. By this time, it was mid afternoon so we returned to the car and set out for a late lunch. We found The Tourist Trap in Musquodoboit Harbour.What a find! My favourite type of spot for lunching...great food, friendly service, and a feast for the eyes. It was a lovely old home with lots of character. The gift shop was filled with lovely treasures...and one of my favourite things....old windows for decoration...and furniture made from old windows and doors. Here are Cindy (pictured left), the chef, and the owner Holly.John (being John) got into quite the conversation with both of them when I left to get my camera from the car. By the time I got back, Holly had given John an old four paned window for me to work on. We are to "drop it by" next time we are going through Musquodoboit Harbour (we had told them it had been years since we had been down that way. Now I guess I have an excuse to get back!) Hmmm....since we are going back....maybe I'll get Holly's husband to build me a special cabinet for the dining room.

Enough visiting...time to get back on the road. Lots more rain, a bit more fog, and we arrived at our destination for the first night...the Marquis of Dufferin Seaside Inn in Port Dufferin. We had booked our rooms for both nights before we left home. There aren't many accommodations along the Eastern Shore, and even fewer that take dogs. The ocean front inn has the office and dining room in an historic house, built in 1859. The rooms (9 in total) are in a seperate building, each with a private balcony overlooking the ocean. Our room was the first (circled in red below).We had dinner (know around here as "supper") in the Inn's restaurant and of course, got talking to the other diners when relaxing after our meals.

A great first day for our mini vacation, despite the weather!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Window for the shed

I created this window for the side of our new shed. It's pretty large...26 inches high by 4 1/2 feet wide. Since it will be hanging on the wall of the shed, with no light coming through it, I chose bold colours and put the black and white edging to make it pop.I decided not to put any "fill" between the flowers so the side of the shed will show through. I might change this after we hang it up and I look at it for a while. It's almost too bad that the light won't be shining through it....it casts such a lovely shadow!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Nature Report

I have very, very exciting news to report! My last post (Friday) described our misguided attempts to rescue a Northern Flicker fledgling. I put the young bird back where we found him, and hoped for the best. Today when I was outside checking the hummingbird feeders, I heard a bird call that I hadn't heard before. I looked around and spotted something at the top of one of our hydro poles. I rushed in the house to get the binoculars, and you'll never guess what I saw...not one, not two, not three....but FOUR Northern Flicker juveniles all at the top of the hydro pole. I think they came by to say thanks :)
By the time I got my camera out, they flew away (they are not very graceful flyers yet) but I got a distant shot of this guy on the ground. I was thrilled to see them all (before this year, we hadn't seen any Northern Flickers at our Nova Scotia home...we had them in Ontario). So, it is a very happy ending to our rescue story.Yesterday, we visited G and DIL at their lakeside home...they have their share of wildlife too. The ducks swam by to say hello when Miss M and her friend were swimming. The resident bunny visited too. A Luna Moth was hanging out on the front lamp post...And something we have never seen before now......a hummingbird moth! I took lots of photos of this guy...he was about 1 1/2 inches long and sounded like a hummer if you got close. DIL did an internet search to find out what he was. According to the internet, these guys are only found in Europe. Maybe we have discovered the first North American hummingbird moth? But no, I think not. Other internet sites from North America mention these little flying creatures. They are very cool!

Miss M and her friend gathered up some water lilies for us to take home to our little garden pond. They were closed when we came home but have opened nicely.And this guy says "thanks Miss M"!
And this concludes the nature report from the south shore of Nova Scotia!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Life Lessons

Yesterday when we returned home from our Canada Day celebrations in New Germany with G, DIL, and Miss M, we saw a bird struggling up the driveway. It couldn't fly and was hopping up the driveway. Miss M and I got out of the car to take a closer look, but I decided that things should be left alone and we continued our walk up to the house.

John and I were on our morning walk with the dogs to get the paper, and the bird was still in roughly the same location. We got the dogs turned around, and back to the house and then debated about what to do. Do we leave the bird in the driveway, or try to rescue it? If we can actually catch it, what do we do with it?

The decision was made, and we headed back down the drive in the car (we have a very long driveway) with a lidded storage bin and gloves. John stopped the car and I got out with my trusty gloves to see if I could catch the bird. I did catch him, and gently pressed his wings to his side. He wasn't happy, and was crying. I wasn't sure whose heart was beating faster...the bird's...or mine! We got him into the storage box and up to the house. I replaced the storage lid with chicken wire and put water in with him. The bird looked like a Northern Flicker to me, but I thought it was likely a female or young bird because the colouring was dull.
Many, many phone calls later I reached the Hope For Wildlife Society on the Eastern Shore of Nova Scotia. Hope was very helpful and told me that Flicker fledglings get pushed out of the nest by mom and dad before they can fly. They spend a couple or few days on the ground, develop their flight feathers, and then go on their way. She said mom and dad were probably watching from a short distance away. I was briefly devastated...thought I ruined everything by taking the bird away. But Hope assured me that all was well...birds do not have a sense of smell and will not be rejected by the parents after being handled by human hands. She told me to put the bird back and keep an eye on it for a day or so. If it was still there after some more time, and unable to fly, they will take it in for rehabilitation.

So, off I went again down the driveway with the bird...gently tipped the box over and let him hop out. Fingers crossed that nature looks kindly on him and he learns to fly soon.