Friday, October 30, 2009

Fun with Nature, #22



The moth in this photo above came to call with buddies in tow, and all kept banging on my screen door when darkness fell each evening.

He didn't appreciate the flash of my camera at all, perhaps I blinded him. Here he is in his finest glory, not a great photo but a photo nonetheless. We will use this in our sketch books when the world stops spinning so swiftly and we catch up on our sketching.

Fun facts about moths;
  • A moth is an insect closely related to a butterfly.
  • There are 150,000-200,000 moths worldwide.
  • Most species are nocturnal which would explain this big guy banging on my screens at night.
  • Moths and particularly their caterpillars are an agricultural pest, guess why?
  • They can be repelled from your garden by using cedar, juniper and lavender plants or essential oils.
  • Predators include bats, owls, birds, lizards and even the occasional bear.
  • A few moths are known to eat clothing but they mostly dine on nectar as the majority don't even have a mouth.
  • Moths usually have furry bodies with feather like antennas.

Invertebrates, otherwise also known as Insects and BUGS!

** This now concludes our posts on Invertebrates, hope you had a super time reading about all of our favorite bugs and insects. :)

You can view more "Fun with Nature" posts by clicking HERE

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Ignorance is NOT always bliss....

Surgical Masks

Our family lives life trying to maintain a balance between keeping calm and avoiding paranoia panic when it comes to safeguarding our home and family members from being unwell and passing along their germs to others.

We have to.

One viral bug not nipped in the bud will send my hubby to hospital within a 24 hour period, his very life hanging precariously in the wings due to weakness from his respiratory lung disease. That's what happened 18 months ago. I flew to the westcoast to meet our new grandbabe, got a call not even 48 hours later my hubby had pneumonia and couldn't move from bed.

Seriously speaking - he continues to hover with less than 30% lung capacity, but then that is still a statistic from two years ago, apparently worse now, so they said last month. Do we really WANT to know the exact amount? NO! Not yet....

As the protective wife and mother, it is my duty to ensure our home is continuously free from bacteria, thriving always for each member's optimal wellness.
Each new season brings along a new rigid health wellness regiment in our home, no exceptions.

When our children have grown and left our nest, they've just known not to come by until they are well. One Christmas was particularly painful when my husband was freshly discharged from hospital and our oldest daughter and her family were ill and couldn't come over to join the rest of us. We must be serious all the time, careful to ensure each member stays healthy. Watch out if mother hears a sniffle or cough! Bud nipping time ensues... smile

"Quarantine" has become a buzzword in our home, just watch out if someone has anything at all to be wary of, those deep bronchial coughs or fevers. Take one of sons for instance; when he was an older teen with a sudden unwell outlook and high fever, off he went to live in the rec room with door closed while mother here attempted to nurse him back to health. On day two, he complained about sore gums, and lightbulb glowing brightly, off to the dentist we went only to find out he required emergency wisdom teeth removal. Wiping our brows, it was still better safe than sorry, believe me. :)

We attempt to maintain a very serious balance of health protection because literally there are times when life hangs right there. Dangers are present around every corner, lurking by way of germs, ready to leap and attack when least expected.

With all this talk of the swine flu the public has literally gone mad! Opinions are plentiful!
The reality for us is *we are in defense mode all year round* and NOT just for one media hyped illness floating by.

Remember SARS
? Oh yeah, so do we? Wouldn't you if you had a deadly lung disease? ANY sniffle, cough, germy hand, sore throat, cold, bug, or flu is cause for deep concern here just for where or what it might lead to in the end with my hubby's situation.

Ignorance is not bliss for someone hovering on health safety when a person drifts too closely, or worse yet visits our home knowingly carrying a bug, placing another here in harms way. It happens all the time, ignorance that is, or would that be forgetfulness? There are days when I really have to wonder. Yes, for sure, there are days when I want to scream for the ignorance out there. Some people are just plain ole ignorant alright!

Worst offenders;
  • CHURCH! People who bring their children to church who are visibly very unwell! Ack, the times our family arrives early only to have to change pews, or worse yet, just leave during mass for all the hacking, sneezing and coughing over or around us. I'm not talking about a simple occasional cough, rather those deep SICK coughs that should warrant a child/adult being in bed and not at church. My goodness! Please, if you are reading this - keep yourself and/or your children at home folks in times such as this! Rest up, get better and recover well first before exposing others to your symptoms. Sheesh!
  • WORK! When my husband enters his office, it is clean and almost sterile from additional precautions we've rendered on his behalf. There have been times lately when fellow colleagues, superiors, waltz into his office hacking and obviously ill, blissfully ignorant of who is sitting before them until my husband grabs a surgical mask and covers his mouth and proceeds to open his window. Timidly and apologetically they retreat and realize they shouldn't even be at work, let alone visit my husband in his own office. Forgetful perhaps, definitely ignorant. Nothing bliss about this to me. THEY know better! Moral of the story here for work environments; stay home if you are sick, don a mask at the very least and be wary of your illness.
Second worst offender;
  • Family! Our family! Presently our daughter has had a cold/virus for several weeks now. There is nothing so scary as a deep chest cold for what it could pass along to my hubby, nothing! What a weak area to inflict such a thing to. This bug is almost gone, thank goodness! Surgical face masks though have been in place, offering only so much protection from sneezes and coughs. Quarantine time?

Because we can't afford to tolerate any type of ignorance,
FIVE stations like these are now located around our home.

Worse though, is when we all know what to do, and are so driven by the general routine, we forget to warn people before they visit, renewing the request from time to time to remain diligent on such a cause. It's not fun telling people they have to leave our home....but it's been necessary a few times.

Since people can read, and we prefer not to be placed in wellness police mode - new health check stations are currently in effect as the photos show above. They don't offer any aesthetic decor around here believe me, who cares though. They will however remain up year long now!

  • Our antibacterial hand cleaner supply required a refill. We prefer these small bottles of super antibacterial protection, keeping them in all the children's backpacks, every vehicle, my purse, my husband's office, the kitchen, every bathroom and beyond. We rely on these as a minute army defense system for precautionary sake. Common sense in all medical facilities = safeguard and kill those hand germs to prevent them from being passed along.

Other Offenders;
  • Surprisingly doctors and medical authorities! How many times do I accompany my husband to his appointments or hospital only to notice the staff NOT washing hands between patients. Yep, I'm not shy anymore here either. Everyone requires a spokesperson in these instances and I have remanded several medical staff to get to the sink and wash their hands before touching my loved ones. Who knows what they've touched along the way anyway. I saw one doctor put his finger onto someone's open wound without a glove and then come to examine one of my daughters in the emergency ward. Nope, he wasn't going to touch her until he washed his hands! Truly, I have had to overcome remaining quietly coy or shy with such things. It's necessary to hover, observe and take action in these types of facilities, a shame because it shouldn't be.
  • Children's teachers/tutors! I have grown tremendously in compassion and sensitivity which can be a blessing or a curse. Because I have to, I try to be diligent if I suspect someone in our presence to be ill, and try to approach anyone in our midst to query and confirm yes or no. It could be non-invasive issues for all we know, perhaps another with lung issues. But if we meet with a bit of distress for more ignorance with really ill folks around (several of the children's teachers; piano, tutor, music, horse riding, etc.. when ill, hover over our children with no thought or memory to the seriousness our family situation, (though they know well of it) all in the name of not missing a lesson ($$$), this is SO NOT good.
Without attempting to be embarrassed in any way, I might have to gently summon the children to distance themselves from such a person as prevention, apologizing but asking for understanding. No matter where we are, all year long, this is how we live! This is how we roll...

Seeking the balance as ignorance is NOT bliss here.

THIS my friend is how we live -

We have to
All of the time!

Fun with Nature, #21



"Melanoplus bivittatus"

Like a mad woman I tippytoed along this grasshopper's trail, following him in the hope of capturing a photo AND I got it! By George!

Another fun invertebrate for children to capture and examine in their bug bottles, these are plentiful in late summer and early fall.

Fun facts about grasshoppers;

  • Grasshopper is the common name for straight winged insects.
  • They undergo a simple metamorphosis, lay eggs called nymphs which molt themselves many times before they become adults.
  • Grasshoppers actually eat grass of all kinds. They eat plants in the spring and tree leaves.
  • Grasshoppers prefer to live in fields, meadows and forest edges (they like our property!)
  • Some grasshoppers just hop or jump, others can actually fly. Front legs are used for holding prey, hind legs used for jumping or hopping.
  • Predators include birds, rodents, reptiles, spiders and some flies eat grasshopper eggs.
  • There are upwards of 10,000 types of grasshoppers.
  • They make noise by rubbing their back legs together.
  • There are positively fun to catch in a bug bottle for observing.

Invertebrates, otherwise also known as Insects and BUGS!

You can view more "Fun with Nature" posts by clicking HERE

Monday, October 26, 2009

Fun with Nature, #20


Multicolored Asian Ladybug
"Harmonia axyridris"

In abundance on the property are bugs, bugs and more bugs! Just when our mosquitoe population began to dwindle, more bugs came to call.

Surprises await every day. "What will we find today?"... is a phrase I utter often with our children when we take time to meander outdoors. Bug bottles or plastic sandwich bags often accompany us, usually in tow at the very least is a baggie. Inside our identification guides are sprinkled about and subsequent searches for the perfect pencil crayon shade for capturing the subjects become the sport of the afternoon when surrounded by spiraled sketch books.

Many folks adore ladybugs, some even collect all things similar. My preference is for them to be temporarily captured and removed from indoors as one of our former homes was terribly infested with these invertebrates, thousands living within the walls, revisiting us year after year. One is cute. Many are just gross!

Our children soon learned bug hunting came with bonuses from their mother because there were so many dozens and dozens waltzing about our windows on any given warm afternoon. Sure, oh sure, they are the good guys, gulping back multitudes of insects to assist with ridding the home of them. On a personal note, I'm done with yellow ladybug gut' splotches on the walls when the children accidentally squish them instead of capture them . Yep, I'm done with that. I don't invite them in here any longer. They can remain outdoors.

How to rid our home of them though?

Open any window for an afternoon fresh air blitz, and dozens of ladybugs and flies flea out into the wild blue yonder. They are wanting to nest for winter and the winter window is seemingly closing quicker now.

Fun Facts about Ladybugs;
  • Not all are orange with black spots - species vary in size, color and number of spots.
  • Ladybugs colors can be red, orange, yellow, brown, tan or gray, even black.
  • Ladybugs usually have 10 spot pattern on an orange back, but black and unmarked forms also occur.
  • There are over 5000 types of ladybugs in the world, over 400 in North America alone.
  • The name "ladybug" refers to the Lady Virgin Mary's red robes.
  • One ladybug will lay over 1000 eggs in her lifetime.
  • Ladybugs bite though they can't hurt you.
  • A ladybug makes a chemical that smells and tastes terrible, so birds and other predators won't eat them.
  • A ladybug's favorite food is aphids, great for the garden which justifies my theory they do indeed belong outside.
  • Ladybugs spots fade the older they age.

Invertebrates, otherwise also known as Insects and BUGS!

You can view more "Fun with Nature" posts by clicking HERE

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Sending birthday kisses over to someone special today....

A very special "Happy Birthday" to my mother today who lives in the Pacific Northwest. My fondest hope is for you to have these same sunny skies we do here today, loads of sunny sunshine hovering over you to make your birthday even brighter today mostly because I know how much you love this same type of weather over there. Happy Birthday Mom! Love you lots and lots! God Bless!

AND, what a great day to have a birthday Mom....

Happy "Feast of Christ the King" to all!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

After your first glance....

After your first glance of the photo above, do tell;
  • What does these colors of this particular autumn color palette remind you of?
  • Can you guess what I'm thinking?
Yep, I told my husband to take a look outside shortly before my own ah-ha moment sunk in and began to take effect. I had asked him the same question then I'm asking you now. No worries, he really had no clue where I was going with this either.

I suggested he think back to the era we were married - the seventies, when all of our furniture and wall paint back then would blend in to this current autumn colored setting in the photo above. He turned to look at me, light bulb registering nice and bright, and then we both began to laugh. And then we were reminded of our wedding theme colors, oranges and golds. :)

After more snickers, I walked to the front door, swung it wide open and proceeded to snap away to capture these photos.

**Blush** below is a photo from our wedding day. I wasn't kidding about the color theme we had going on that day! My cape came from my current day autumn color palette for sure. *wink*

(not great as this was a photo of a photo with glass over top)

Back when we were first married in 1977, we purchased our first home and began to make an attempt at mimicking local decorator/designers' by following their hot color palettes of the day, including an array of fall colors implemented into our home environment.

Those orange, rust and gold colors built our kitchen theme for us. Bright orange painted walls greeted us each morning (blast!) in our tiny postage stamp sized kitchen. Joining in the kitchen decor were happy golden velvet like floral patterns on our white curtain sheers, and a brown pattern on the vinyl flooring to match the (what else?) brown marbled counter tops.

Our living room/dining room decor included browns and oranges with a richly colored GOLDEN yellowed berber carpeting - proving in no time at all that such an inspired seventies theme was definitely going on for us during those first few years.

This was also a time when we first invested in wallpaper to run along the hallway, also autumn themed in color. We really had something going on there, hands down - we were groovy baby!

Shocking to me was playing with my photo in my Picasa 3 program, adding the "warmify" option to my original photo above to find this single click outcome below.

I'm not really laughing or finding it too humorous because with the popularity of magnetic photo albums, this is how my photos became over the years and it took some $$ and consumed plenty of my time to solve the problem by renewing the color on all of my damaged photos from the seventies. On the other hand, wow, I won't lie, this really was the theme colors of that era!

We were real hip alright both in our home and with our selected fashions we wore; polyester pants and wedged heeled shoes. snicker... Looking back now, yikes - what were we thinking?

How about you? What colors were yours in the seventies?

Oh dear! The thought just crossed my mind that some of my audience just might be too young to participate in this conversation. Now I've really done it! Say it ain't too terribly so because I'm beginning to feel a little old now. :) Maybe you don't even remember "shag" carpeting with those special vacuum rakes to get the nap just right either then, right?

Okay, okay, on a much brighter note, here's what the same angle appears like today, sunnier skies and less rainy looking dullness up above. No matter what your walk back in time color palette chosen for your wedding day, your home decor of a seasonal theme, it's all good when the sun shines down upon us isn't it?

Magnified Creeper

As I went into the garage to hop in my vehicle this morning, I happened by chance to witness a single creeper waltzing along near the entry way of the large garage door. With camera in purse (smile), I was able to catch these photos below, magnified for viewing.

An anonymous comment offered these were meal worms, but I assure you they are not.

Someone else suggested they are baby millipedes and I have come to the conclusion they aren't that either. So further investigative study will eventually reveal just "what" they are.

My best guess at this point is they resemble a garden/forest centipede with the exception of varying legs. Check this LINK HERE out to see one type of this insect (2500 worldwide, 70 in Canada alone) which can vary in size, color and type.

Last week hundreds and hundreds of black grackle birds swooped down upon our property and those neighboring ours. They were so noisy and there were vast amounts of them, one wondered if we had been invaded, you know - The Byrds! :)

Guess what they were after? You got it! These guys....and they consumed and dined on plenty of them, population seems down at the end of this week, so let's hope the amounts continues to decline.

Aren't they just the creepiest things to have an abundance of in your garage? I might add those that have entered our garage and basement soon die afterward so they aren't active for long before we find them curled and dried up.

Fun with Nature, #19

The Invasion of Creepy Crawlers!

(Warning: This post might make you want to itch your scalp!)

Fuzzy caterpillars are a favorite for our children to scoop up, contain in bug bottles to observe and sketch. These hairy little creepers don't usually invite fear or trepidation as spiders and other creepers do for those who invite them in for observation. These creepers instead are usually defined as sweet and attractive to some.

Getting up close and so much more personal can easily allow for admiration and awe of the natural beauty of the invertebrate world. Come on, let's just go ahead and admit these "creatures" are incredibly fascinating, tremendously colorful and very unique in the creepy crawler world.

Take a look at the photo below, magnified just a bit from the original photo above and you'll easily agree with this statement. Just look at his fuzzy offerings!

Somewhere along the line here on our property, multitudes of various creepy crawlers have become a negative thing for our young daughter, so "creeped out" with the population multiplying to incredible amounts.

I've already featured one type of resident "tent caterpillar" during one of these "Fun with Nature" posts before, which you can read about by clicking HERE.

Millipedes are another super fascinating creeper,
so many legs on these creatures!

They are fascinating to me, but to one of my younguns, well let's just say they are okay until her mother gets all giddy and excited, picks one up to handle it, and then subsequently begin to allow a free reign run up and down my arm. This fast becomes.... "oh so gross and ever so creepy yuckie" to our young daughter. Guess I can hardly blame her, but still.

Until such a time as this scenario, our children are eager to explore and discover new creepers. They just don't want to "touch" them. All of our children are such good sports, but afterward when I begin to display my sense of irrational play with the wee fellows, well then, not so much.

Several multi-legged millipedes are currently attempting to reside in our garage and along doorway areas. Winter is fast approaching, naturally they are seeking shelter from the harsh weather up ahead, nature's instinct no doubt.

But, but,'s MY house! Please just go away! :)

I think millipede above saw me coming to take a photo because he appears to be in some sort of defense mode above. :)

In the photo below he looks as though he's sunbathing on the warm rocks. Maybe not.

And then again, here's what we found in the same location the following day. (see below)

Millipede discovery - ewwww....

When we were beginning to find less and less creepy crawler millipedes hovering nearby, something happened, seemingly quite abruptly.

Like the snap of a finger, it seemed we suddenly became "invaded" with these little creepers below. There are hugely abundant in numbers, creeping on the floors throughout my garage, and I mean - everywhere! I need your help for this part. We have yet to identify these things! If you know, please tell me...and fast!

Twice each week I've had to sweep the garage out and keep the dogs from eating them, followed by scooping up limp remains of those little fellows who chose to slither down the basement staircase in the garage only to meet their doom on the concrete at the bottom near the door.

How lovely to open up the door and not have anywhere to step out, especially one of the children who don't remember to wear shoes out there.

Do your children forget they are only in their socks whilst heading for a quick romp in your garage?

Due to the incredible amounts of creepy creatures working their way about the garage and staircase, no more are our children doing this, slip-on shoes lay scattered and ready to wear near doorways now.

Observing the dustpan above and below makes my tummy feel a bit queasy. Anyone need fishing bait? ewwww...

For all the ones resting in my dustpan soon to head out the door into the forest beyond the rockway, just as many somehow entered our basement. True story.

We are finding them laying dead in the strangest places, stranded no doubt following one another into the bliss of doom. They don't climb up walls, only remain on the flooring. Our young daughter is not a happy girl these days, scratching and hugging herself with just the quickest thought of them nearby. sigh....

But, can you really blame her? ewwwwww......

Let me invite you to take one last looky-look at the photo above.

Just as in those "Where's Waldo" books, can you see the millipedes blending in the fold, and the the big huge spider there hidden amongst them? This particular spider is still alive but he's heading OUT the door with the rest! Right now!

And this my friends is just another adventure of our current life in the country, living in the "east" and trying to shed our city slicker behaviors at the best of time. I suppose we will get used to all the newness of those creepers around us while living here, at least let's hope so.

Our biggest problem is developing a successful idea for refusing them entry into the garage in the first place. Our local nursery suggested using baited sticky papers, those which are used for mice. Problem, it has also attracted spiders, crickets, flies, and assorted creepers galore! Yikes, how gross! Solutions are always welcomed once these fellows enter en masse, this seems to be a temporary solution to our problem. Let's hope they seize their hunt for our garage entry soon.

Not the best solution, though a solution thus far. Thousands of these creepers are crawling in from outside seeking shelter. Know what they are? Please feel free to let me know..... with thanks.

You can view more "Fun with Nature" posts by clicking HERE

Friday, October 23, 2009

Seasonal Changes Out my Window this week

Baby, it's getting browner outside!

The rain is falling, ruining the crispy and crunchy blanket of colorful leaves on the ground by brewing them into a slimy mush. Four garden rakes are awaiting a drier tomorrow for beginning the task of winter prep cleanup, bagging the mounds for donating to municipal compost trucks which will begin to pass by over the course of the next few weeks.

It's feeling quite similar to the weather we were used to when living in the Pacific Northwest; quite dank, dreary and dark. It's a day for the fireplace to crank up its flames, a good book resting in one's lap and a nice hot cup of tea nearby.

This is it folks, winter is on its way and quickly!

You can view more of my "Seasonal Changes" posts by clicking HERE

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

Stocked up for the winter!

(You can see more "Wordless Wednesday" posts by clicking HERE.)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Autumn's Inevitable Activity

"Listen! The wind is rising,
and the air is wild with leaves,
We have had our summer evenings,
now for October eves!"

~ Humbert Wolfe

In an afternoon jiffy, already four very large leaf bags are at the road for compost pickup this week. We have some twenty more bags ready at moment's notice and soon they will all be at the roadside just like this day's efforts.

Ahhhh, Autumn's inevitable raking activity. I suppose this is why we invested in four new rakes for this chore alone.

"Many hands really DO make work light"

Monday, October 19, 2009

Autumn's Splendor ... this week

No longer are the leaves quite so orangy-red, at least it seems as much these past few days. I see more yellowy-brown and light brown now than those initial spectacular reds so it must mean winter is fast approaching.

Leaves are still "raining" down on our property with their breezy gentleness amidst a skyline with sensational sunshine all week. It's been warm during the day, a bit frosty-chilly at night and we are expecting highs of 16C later this week.

Preparing for winter has kept us hopping with so many things to do. The check list sees much accomplished yet again. Even the garden hoses are empty, rolled up and ready for storage.

If only the roofers would appear! Apparently our roofing materials are no longer available so our builder is scrambling to find a suitable and matching substitute. Hello! Winter is coming....

Our front steps are now complete, the masonry man came today to paint the final acid wash and protective coating on them. Terrific! Now we can use our front door again! And, time, time, time boys for our final inspection, only a year after purchasing the

I'm going to declare this week and next as "REWIND WEEKS" due to the many, many posts sitting and awaiting completion.

Our family enjoyed a superb Autumn visit to Montreal, Quebec over the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend, visiting the city's historical and cultural offerings with the additional blessing of great weather to boot. There were so many Churches, a Cathedral, a Basilica and St. Joseph's Oratory where Blessed Andre gave his loving service to visitors from all over the world. A post will be included in the "rewind weeks". I promise.

Oh, and please forgive my blooper typos lately, gotta focus better when my eyes are all droopy and in dire need of sleep refreshment. The week has been busy, the month has and heck let's just roll out the last year or two while I'm at it. Whew... so please come back and visit over the next few weeks as I would love to have a spot of tea with you and share our world, complete with photos. :)

Meanwhile, do enjoy these "Autumn Splendor" snaps taken on the grounds of our own property.


"The leaves fall, the wind blows, and the farm country slowly changes from the summer cottons into its winter wools."

~ Henry Beston, Northern Farm