Monday, January 26, 2009

Dreaming of Spring

I said in one of my earlier posts that I wasn't getting twitchy about planting season yet. As it turns out I may not be but my subconscious is getting quite twitchy for spring to arrive. Several nights in a row now I have dreamt about flowers and flower gardens. I see a sea of purple, red, and yellow flowers covering our snow free and green yard. Not that it is likely to happen but the dreams are always very pretty.

The seed catalogues have arrived and I have been scanning through them trying to figure out exactly what we are planting this year. I've been thinking about trellises covered in Scarlet Creeper and some other pole bean. I've been envisioning sweet and regular potatoes, as well as corn, beets, carrots, peppers, snap beans, dry beans, lettuce, spinach, summer squash, and tomatoes. I don't think I have room for all that but in my mind there is always enough room for everything.

I'll be placing my seed orders by the end of this week so I have to make up my mind pretty soon. Maybe it is time to drag out the graph paper and actually plan out my garden space. The only thing I know for sure is something will be planted in the hanging baskets on the front porch. I just don't know if it will be hot peppers, red peppers, or tomatoes. Ah, spring!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Doodle Is as Doodle Does

I've been at the ink and paper again. This is a rendition of the frost pattern that has been appearing on my living room window for the last few weeks before Christmas. Since then the frost has taken on the more traditional feathers pattern I'm used to seeing. Enjoy.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

I am in Business

After much soul searching, discussion, and with a great deal of encouragement from PeterC I have decided to open an online business. Chestnut Tree Creations is a cooperative shop between myself and PeterC hosted by He will sell photography and ironwork while I will sell my wood carvings, artwork, and woven belts. Take a look around and let me know what you think.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

It's Winter in Canada, Folks

I was watching the news last night and was amazed, yet again, by people who refuse to be aware of, and prepared for, emergencies in winter. A community in Quebec has been suffering "rolling blackouts" due to the equipment having to run at near capacity due to the recent cold weather. In Toronto, a water main break flooded a power station and caused it to shut down plunging a section of town into darkness and leaving them without water.

It wasn't a surprise that these emergencies are occurring. It has been proven time and time again that the corporations in charge of power and water, in all provinces, do not have the safety, comfort, or well being of it customers at heart. All corporations take the risk management approach to upgrading their equipment. Risk Management, in a nutshell, is don't fix it until it breaks.

Who cares that we have water mains from the 1800's running under power stations? If it doesn't leak just ignore it. Who cares that the power generators run at capacity if the weather gets down to true Canadian winter temperatures? Don't upgrade the equipment and be prepared for the likely extreme weather that is to be expected in Canada. Who Cares? Well the consumers care, of course, but they can't force the corporations to be timely with upgrades. At least not since the Government chose to privatize all the power companies and let them regulate themselves as they see fit.

What was surprising to me was the number of people who went on the air and essentially admitted that they were incapable of thinking for themselves and taking measures to be prepared for power outages in the middle of winter. It isn't rocket science folks. If you live in a country that sees at least one week a year with temperatures at the "body parts freeze and break off" levels and you know the corporations care more about their bottoms lines and CEO bonuses than they do about you, then you prepare.

It's really easy if you own your home. Install a backup heat source of come kind. Wood, oil, propane, solar, gas, or even a kerosene space heater will keep you and your family warm, if only in a single room. Even an oil lamp or candles, if used safely, can keep a single small room warm enough to take the edge off. Extra blankets, sleeping bags, and long underwear and sweaters will let you sleep comfortably and conserve body heat when you are awake. Check out the camping isle at any Canadian tire and you will find all kinds of ideas for staying warm in the cold and for cooking when the power is out, if you aren't lucky enough to have a gas stove.

If you rent an apartment it may not be as simple as installing a backup heat source. Many landlords are pretty uptight about kerosene heaters and you can't just install wood, oil, or gas into an apartment. But, there are other options. Again, check out the camping section at your local Canadian Tire. Buy a couple of solar panels and an inverter to run one of those little electric room heaters. You may have to educate yourself on power requirements and basic electronics but it can be done.

Being prepared for common emergencies isn't hard to do. It takes some money which can be saved up. It takes some time. It takes some imagination and probably some research. It can be done and it should be done. It could make the difference between life and death, or simply the difference between comfort and frostbite. Just don't go on national TV and complain about the weather and how cold it is. I mean, really folks, this is Canada after all.

Friday, January 16, 2009


Yesterday I decided I needed some fresh air and a break from the cats who consider me their own personal sleeping mat. The thermometer was reading a chilly -10ÂșC so I put on a coat and went out to feed the birds. It was very quiet outside. There wasn't a bird or squirrel to be seen. Usually I can here the sparrows, chickadees, and even the doves gossipping softly in the hedge, but yesterday they were silent. The air was very crisp and burned my lungs if I breathe to deeply, but it was clean and it felt good to breath deeply even if I had to cough afterwards.

It turned out it was colder than I thought, but I didn't figure it out until my fingers froze to the metal tube feeders. Needless to say I grabbed a pair of gloves my next trip in to grab more seed. I finished feeding the birds and played with the dogs for a bit, chasing them through the snow and up and down the paths we keep cleared in the yard. In the end I could only stay outside for an hour before I lost the feeling in my nose and ears. The fire felt very nice when I came inside.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Of Snow and Birds

I spent a couple of hours shovelling snow Thursday, the day after the snow storm. It was nice to get out in the fresh air and even nicer to exercise muscles that have gone soft with the winter slow down. Of course I was sore the next day, but not as sore as expected. That bodes well for my ability to get the garden tilled and planted without to much pain this coming Spring.

While I was playing with the snow I watched as several small, sparrow like birds attacked the thistle seed feeder and bullied each other non-stop. It was quite amusing to watch, especially when one of these small birds would frighten a true sparrow off the feeders. Some research in our bird books revealed that the noisy, bickering little tyrants were none other than Pine Siskins. I had seen them during the summer but mistook them for young female Gold Finches. With any luck that means they are nesting in the area and will help to keep my weeds and pests under control.

We made our weekly shopping trip into town Friday night and found the Seed displays have already been put up. PeterC asked if I was getting twitchy yet, which I usually am by now, and I had to answer no. Don't get me wrong, I've been thinking about the garden and what I want to plant this year but I haven't felt that uncontrollable urge to plant seeds in soil yet. I suspect I won't feel that urge until late February or early March. I also suspect it will be mid-May before I can plant the majority of the garden. It just feels like a late Spring is in the works.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009


I woke this morning to the lovely silence of a snowstorm. The snow is coming down heavily and the wind is blowing it around in swirls and clouds creating tiny areas of whiteout conditions. The most amazing thing though is the birds. Usually during a snowstorm the birds are hunkered down in a safe, wind free place to wait out the storm. Occasionally you can see them fluttering and gossipping in the hedge if the wind isn't to strong but on a day like today they are normally out of sight.

Today, though, they are at the feeders and picking the few remaining seeds from the cone flower heads. You would think they were starving and I had only just filled the feeders. The feeders were filled this weekend and they have been all over them since they were filled. Seeing them struggling against the wind to land on the feeders makes me wonder if this is just the calm before the real storm. I have to wonder if they know something we don't.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Christmas Break

I know I'm late in making a post this week. We took our normal Christmas break this year to relax, sleep late, and if we felt like it do a little cleaning and rearranging. I managed to rearrange the kitchen counters to give me some extra space and make it easy to get to my spices. We also installed a new curtain rod over the picture window. Otherwise this has been a very quiet holiday break for us.

Soon, though, the need to start planning the garden will take over and spring cleaning of the house will begin. Until then I plan on trying to work on some long overdue projects like learning to knit; finish some carvings that have been waiting; and maybe start quilting the top sent to my by my grandmother. I'll also get back to my regular posting of information, thoughts, and actions here at Sparrow Haven.