Friday, 29 July 2016

a day trip to and from Halifax

Cabin Fever- the term usually used in the dead of winter when one is snowbound-but mine came after a long bout of wicked summer heat ( the thermostat reached over 100F yesterday).   Add to that a perfect storm of things that keep me tied to the house like this last month of trying to figure out why Babu was off his food and,  just for good measure, a succession of other things gone wrong.  There I was: fit to be tied. (What a funny but apt expression.)

Ironically, it all fell apart once I realized the cause of Babu's poor eating and his escalating jitters that were not typical of his playful kitten modus operandi. That's not uncommon, losing one's thread just at the moment things are turning around: kind of like not being able to do the last lap of a race, or more likely (in my case) not being able to apply my left brain for one more minute.

I was proud, nonetheless, that I correlated the crawling of his skin along his spine and frantic biting himself followed by power-licking to Hyperethesia, a syndrome caused by heavy metals collecting in the fatty tissue that surrounds the nerves along the spine. I always knew that Babu was getting more fat in his raw lean ground beef than Muji in the same product cooked (because I skim the fat off Muji's) but I thought the extra fat would be ok for an active boy like Babu. Muji is usually my canary in the mine, so to have Babu sick was odd and the clear difference was their food. On top of that Babu was preferring cooked to raw, a new behaviour but something that he inherently "knew".

Adding good fats such as coconut oil and small fish oil to chelate the bad fat from his system plus tiny quantities of homemade fresh cilantro tea administered with a syringe after he eats worked for a few days, but then he seemed to have the symptoms again and was clearly fussy about his food still, so we took him off the olive oil that I put in his evening meal and began, intuitively, to give him back and neck massages, quite vigorous ones which he, surprisingly, loved- and the symptoms went away. Relief for all.

Somewhere at the beginning of this new protocol, was when I lost it. I only have so much "nurse" in me I guess, and Wally scurried us off to Halifax last Saturday where my Photo Essay begins:

We headed off to our favourite salvage store, but noticed this new shop in a renovated auto garage:
Workshop & Co. on Maynard St., newly opened only 5 weeks earlier.

Intrigued by the unusual galvanized metal cans that turned out to be Portugese olive oil drums

we made our way inside to what I can only describe as "our kind of place".
It was timely as we had ony just begun to discuss putting a Mediterranean slant
onto our eventual kitchen renovation the week before.

Upon crossing the street from this exciting and inspiring new find,
we found this unusual observer sitting out in the summer sun: a one-eyed cat

I have a penchant for being too friendly with animals so that they start following me, so I only spoke kindly to him as I took his picture. Clearly he is an outdoor pet judging by the notch in his ear.

We wandered into our original destination: Renovator's Resource and found these cool iron plates that Wally thinks may have come off a boiler or even a woodstove.

It was Gay Pride Day in the city and we got ourselves into a serious traffic jam near the entrance to the Halifax Public Gardens

So we ditched our plan to visit a few design shops in that area and detoured past this wonderfully ornate home dressed up like an Easter egg.

This deceptively peaceful looking cottage actually sits on Queen St. at the corner of Sackville St., a very busy street across from which rises Citadel Hill.
We were on our way to yet another design shop.

We had a lovely day out, bringing a picnic that we enjoyed in the shade of a sweet little corner of St. Mary's University. As well, we made the usual stop at DeSerres to pick up another couple of Inktense watersoluble pencils. I have a crush right now on their Sea Blue, a deep inky teal.
(You may take that as a hint of what's to come as I'm quite tired of my diverted creative energy.)

As evening fell, we headed home, racing a huge black cloud that was emitting lightning.
I never did get a very good shot of it as it was too dark to register,
on top of which I would have had to shoot past Wally who was driving.

Aiming for that blue patch of sky beyond us, we saw an odd opening in the clouds to the left

Pretty weird, eh?

The power lines in the bottom left help to give a sense of scale to this otherworldly layering of clouds

Passing through a long rock cut, we were beginning to have our doubts that we would beat the storm

Sometimes we seemed to edge closer to its blackness as you can see in the upper left corner

and then the road would turn again

and this once distant cloud seemed to loom like a monster squatting over the road

It seemed to be grimacing at us

then, just as quickly,  began to dissolve

and the road would turn towards the black cloud again just to keep us from getting too complacent

The sky continued to be rather busy

and then another bit of ominosity would loom

It's hard to describe the awesomeness ( a word I rarely use) of this ever-changing sky

You would never know, except for my absolutely assuring you, that this serene pond photo was taken within a few moments of the last shot

And as we enter the lowlands of the Avon River near Windsor, what do we see in the distance
but the crazy mushrooming of a thundercloud that foretells of things to come

There is more to come, but as it is getting quite late for me, I will have to pick this story up another day. As always, thank you so much for dropping by and giving me the benefit of the doubt that I will one day get back to sharing my artwork with you.

til then
all good wishes and intentions

Thursday, 21 July 2016

a hot time in the garden

It's been a hot time in the old town (tonight). (That's a take-off on an old song my mother used to sing to my sister and I as she bathed us when we were little ones. Imagine two little babes singing in the bathtub as you hear Bessie Smith sing her rendition of it:


But really, it's been SO hot. 90F in the shade doesn't work for me.

After a rain ( one of several through last week) on Sunday morning, I finally ventured out to roam the garden.

Here the Hollyhocks seem to be photo-bombing my picture of the garden.

so I gave them the attention they deserved

one of their exotic blooms unfurling

Next to them, on the Composter Trellis, the purple Clematis are a happy profusion

"reach for the sky!"

on the other side, the Echinacea is doing is Fibonacci Spiral

These seed centres are amazingly hard. The Spiral mesmerizes me

An Echinacea Bud unfurling

You'd think the Hydrangea were done for

They don't handle that heavy rain well, but amazingly they're back up today!

The vegetable garden in a nutshell

Dissecting it, we find the Scallion in bloom to the left

Next to it, the Garlic Scape's graceful swirl
(perfectly delicious, the scape is the flower bulb of a garlic plant
that must be cut in order to create a larger garlic bulb below the ground.)

Dance of the Seven Garlic Scapes
Actually I think I can see eleven in this shot.

The poppy seed heads are kind of creepy to me,
but we leave them in hopes of more seeding themselves; we had 5 new flowers this year.

Next to the poppy grows a huge Oregano bush.
Fresh oregano is so much more aromatic than dried, with a hint of cloves to it.
Just wonderful in almost any dish.

The Kale grows just beyond the oregano with the Swiss Chard in the foreground.
The Chard is so happy. You may see the carrot leaves peeking through.

The Beets, with a very similar leaf to the Chard, grow beside them.
See how the leaf is less lumpy looking?  The leaves are every bit as delicious as Chard.

An Arugula flower. I can't seem to stay ahead of the Arugula bolting
( bolting means it's gone to "seed" and the leaves are small and bitter.)  Lettuces like cooler weather.

The line-up next to the Beets and Chard, houses the tomatoes
with Beans and Peas, each with their own trellis.

a lovely tomato flower, so small, will grow into a huge tomato

The Purple Pole Beans flowers will make  purple beans that will turn green when cooked

Such exquisite blooms, rather like miniature orchids

The tendrils of the Snap Peas seem to be reaching everywhere but their trellis

They have a gorgeous little bloom

too small for a bouquet, and too precious not to eat
(why do I always feel so ferociously carnivorous around these darling babies???)
So much intense beauty in the world!

There are a few more surprises in the garden, believe it or not. For such a little garden, Wally has found room for Zucchini, Cucumber and Eggplant, but they went in late, so we'll see how they develop. In the meantime, there is dill and cilantro growing in odd places which are wonderful in so many dishes.

On the far side of the yard, Peppermint is growing along the fenceline.
I use it instead of mint in our quinoa tabbouli, a summer staple.

The little Peach tree has held onto all its fruit so far with nary a deer in sight.

Tart Red Currants

and black ones too

next door neighbours to our Raspberries

Raspberries ripening quickly

The neighbour's Cherry tree hangs into our yard where I share its fruit with the starlings.

The Harelson Apple tree is heavy with fruit this year

Our best crop in its 3 years

As I stand on the hill overlooking the garden, I can see the misty vista beyond the hayfield

I walk back to the side of the garage. In the middle ground you can see where Wally staked our messy Gogi Berry bush. It was sprawling in an ungainly 5 foot circumference and wanting to grow bigger. Wally will move it in the fall. The old tree stump in the foreground may very well have been another Ash tree planted over 80 years ago and slow to break down.

The Hostas will have to be transplanted as well as they are crowding each other.

Did you know that Hosta is a lily? It's flower bud about to unfurl.

In the Hosta bed there is this unusual flowering plant...

Darned if I remember its name

Then there is this monster with the prehistoric flowers that will open next month.

I found this startlingly beautiful visitor on one of its leaves. I did find its convoluted name:

Condylostylus, caudatus group

Wanting to title these photos, I finally learned that this ubiquitous weed
with the pretty purple flowers is called Selfheal

Buttercups are weeds too I guess, but they never fail to delight

I look across the driveway at the magnificent Ash growing out of our Maple hedge

 the bark swirls like a river around its branch

Just to the left, the teeny wild white Roses have died off
and left their little seed pods- rose hips- behind

In the corner, a gift of Day Lilies among the ground cover

Now I turn toward the house where we seem to have but one Asian Lily left
Note the seeded berries at the base of the leaves.

Instead, wild pink mallow have taken over the lily garden

That was Sunday.

Since then we have had a full moon.
I will often stand on the deck in the peace of night and take in the fresh cool country air and the quiet.

This morning, I mistakenly still had the flash on from the full moon night and Muji took the hit.

It didn't faze him though

This boy will do anything for a cuddle


The Muji paw flex,  mostly held up for a "high five"
but there are those times when I'm working at the kitchen counter,
 that he gets on a chair behind me and gives me a pat, startling the hell out of me.

60 pictures later- I think that's a record- I leave you with a morning shot of the black Hollyhocks

and wish you the gift of nature (when she's kind)
Because, after all,
it's Kindness that matters most,

to each other
and to ourselves.