Outdoor Cat Shelters

It’s beginning to get cold around here – temperatures are now below 0 degrees celsius most days and even colder at night. Almost two years ago, a family of feral cats ~ mother cat and her three kittens ~ showed up around here. You can read more about the “Kittens” here.
Now we’ve adopted two of the feral ‘outside’ cats: brother Mandu and his sister Mochi (mother of our kittens). We managed to capture Mochi and get her spayed along with all her kittens last year. Even though the kittens have become inside cats, Mochi and Mandu remain our ‘outside’ cats. It was clear that they needed a better shelter arrangement so Nellie and I created two shelters for them last fall.
We chose plastic Rubbermaid containers to keep them dry and warm: 2 large and 2 smaller ones which fit inside the bigger ones.

First, we laid a piece of leftover hard styrofoam insulation on the bottom to add increased thermal factor on cold winter days.

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Then we lined the inside with environmentally friendly Roxul insulation.

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We carefully slipped the small Rubbermaid container inside the larger insulated one trying to keep the insulation along the inside intact.

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Then we placed the lids on both inner and outer containers. Nellie drew a circle on one end, big enough for our outside cats to fit through without letting in any unnecessary cold. Then she cut out the hole of the outside container with a box cutter, removed the circle of insulation, then cut the same size hole on the inside container.

 

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We used Tuck Tape to seal up the entrance hole area between the two buckets to keep the insulation intact and dry.   It may not be pretty but it’s effective!

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We removed the lids and proceeded to use old polyester pillow stuffing to line the insides and bottom. In one, we used some old foam insulation we had lying around.

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We tacked the lids back on with caulking (which we scraped off later because it was ineffective) and placed them where Mochi and Mandu liked to sit on the deck and look inside through the sliding glass door (and we could watch them 😉 ). Within hours, both cats tried out their new abode! Later, after the snow fell, I ‘wrapped’ the back and sides of both shelters with an old shower curtain to add to their warmth and dryness.

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Both Mochi and Mandu used their outside shelters all last winter, keeping safe and warm and often sleeping together in one bed on the coldest nights. We continue to feed them and even warm them up some homemade chicken broth every morning to help take the chill off and get something warm inside them.
Late this summer, we took off the lids and replaced the inside lining with fresh pillow stuffing.
Nellie and I feel comforted knowing that we are doing the best we can to take care of these two innocent creatures who have become our outside pets. Mandu has always remained quite feral and untouchable while Mochi has ‘allowed’ us to get close and even touch her. This fall, Nellie patiently kept feeding both of them yummy wet cat food and leftover chicken inside the mudroom every day (while the door was propped open for them to leave if they felt uncomfortable). Finally after almost two months, she was able to pet (briefly) BOTH Mochi and Mandu! And I eventually had the privilege of stroking them too.
Some day, we hope that they will feel comfortable spending the night inside the mudroom with the door closed but it’s too much for them now. We tried it one night and Mandu quickly panicked so we had to let them outside again. WE will just have to be patient……

 

If you’re interested in donating to a Kitten Rescue Fund please click on this link.

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Best Week!

Recently, I had the BEST week this summer. First of all, it had been 3 or 4 days since it rained!! Yeah! It has rained nearly EVERY SINGLE DAY this summer. And torrential downpours too; not sissy little sprinkling of rain “showers”. Since spring, my yard has suffered major floods three times when the river overflowed it’s banks plus spotty minor floods where the yard sprouts large “puddles” filled with rain water. So needless to say, several days of NO rain and sunshine is extremely welcomed around here! And to make matters even more delicious, the temperatures had been just warm enough (20-25 Celsius) to keep my toes from getting cold and NO humidity. What more could I ask for?

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Rain!  Rain!  Rain!

So I asked my granddaughters Kalia and Olivia if they wanted to come to Gramma’s for a sleepover. And a Harry Potter movie marathon! We planned to watch ALL 8 HP movies IN A ROW. That’s about 16+ hours of movie watching! I was quite surprised when my almost 12 & 14 year old granddaughters enthusiastically wanted to come spend time with their ol’ granny.

When they arrived at 10 a.m., we drove into town for ‘snacks’. You HAVE to have snacks and junk food for movie marathons don’t ya know. We shopped at several stores for an hour an a half then we were ready (and armed) to come home and start the marathon! Chips, juice, chocolate bars, gummy worms, popcorn. A feast fit for a queen.

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Homemade Lasagna

I planned to make homemade lasagna for dinner (recipe here) because I wanted us to have a nutritious meal amidst all the other food-like items they were snacking on. I know both girls love my lasagna and everyone ate heartily. After dinner, we went for a bike ride to “shake the sillies out” and get ready for an evening of MORE movies. We saw one of our ‘resident’ White Tail Deer and the flock of wild Turkeys in the field.

Bike ride

Bike ride in the neighbourhood

Back to the movie-watching. We made it until 10 p.m. then started to get tired. Everyone went into Nellie’s room to do a couple of word search puzzles before snuggling down to sleep. The girls shared the bed in the spare room – Livi tucked around Kalia to keep warm.

The next morning, we started watching more Harry Potter movies. We made it through 6 movies before it was time for the girls to go home. We only have the last two movies from the last book to watch. Maybe the first PDDay during school?

I’ve watched all these HP movies many times and I still love them. It’s great to share something with my grandchildren and grown daughter Nellie that we ALL love. And who doesn’t love Harry Potter!!

Having my granddaughters here for a sleepover was the BEST part of the week for me!

And likely even the whole summer……

Harry Potter Books

Harry Potter books

Reading Farley Mowat

This summer, I’ve been on a bit of a reading spree. I’ve focused on books by one of my favourite authors Farley Mowat (1921-2014) who wrote 42 books (translated into over 26 languages) as a freelance writer over the span of 50 years. Farley Mowat was the most prolific writer in Canada and sold over 10 million books – so why wouldn’t I want to read some of his books that I’ve collected over the years! “Subjective non-fiction” and “cause-oriented” as Farley said of his writings – he was an environmental activist to be sure.

Reading FMwm

Reading The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be

Farley Mowat wrote books about animals (domesticated and wild) like caribou, owls, dogs, wolves, and whales (Owls in the Family; The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be; Never Cry Wolf; Sea of Slaughter; etc.) or books about vanishing people who we knew nothing about like the Inuit (People of the Deer; The Snow Walker; The Desperate People; No Man’s River; etc.); or books about disappearing ways of life as in the outport posts of Newfoundland (The Grey Seas Under; Bay of Spirits; The New Founde Land; etc.) ; or books which tell a tale about a place I’ve never been to like the arctic or Siberia (Walking on the Land; Sibir: My Discovery of Siberia; etc.) > stories unwritten until Farley Mowat wove words together to share his experiences with artistic flare.

I’ve accumulated a number of his books over the years and placed them lovingly on my ‘retirement’ shelf to read ‘later’. Well ‘later’ has come this summer and I’ve been reading all my Farley Mowat books like a person starving for sustenance!

WoFMwmI started off reading The World of Farley Mowat: A Selection from His Works which is a compilation of excerpts from some of his books. I read and read and read until my vision became blurred when I looked out the window! (*Note to self: get eyes examined.) I thought I’d read my favourite piece until I got to the next chapter about another book and I loved it just as much! If I have to pick, I think I liked the story of “The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be” best. I was intensely interested in the story of the Inuit in “People of the Deer“, too. Farley Mowat is such an amazing writer! He captures the spirit of the setting and translates it with emotion. I laughed until I cried, literally, when I read his excerpt from “The Boat Who Wouldn’t Float“. I don’t think Nellie or Taylor heard me sitting there all by myself howling with laughter or they would have thought I’d gone crazy!! I enjoyed this book immensely!

 

I took a break because I recalled seeing on my bookshelves, another book by Claire Mowat, Farley’s wife, called ‘The Outport People‘ about their years living in an isolated village in Newfoundland. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this volume.

VirungawmI scoured my bookshelves for FM book #2 and decided on “Virunga: The Passion of Dian Fossey“. This biography about the famous Gorilla researcher in Africa was a very compelling read and worth every moment of my life spent devouring it’s pages.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TDWWBwmSurprisingly, I found “The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be” deep in the corner at the back of the top shelf of one of my bookcases. I was elated because I thought I didn’t have a copy anymore! THIS is the book I’m reading right now. It’s a small paperback so it won’t take me very long to read it. I also brought upstairs to read a copy of “Tundra“. These books were clearly visible on my bookshelves and I’m wondering what other volumes lie behind other books. I’m going to spend a few hours re-organizing some bookshelves to see what I’ve got……. and make room for more.

Every few years, we enjoy watching the movie made about Mowat’s book “Never Cry Wolf” as well. I want to add that I came across this amazing movie via the National Film Board about a young family who canoes the Farley route: Finding Farley https://www.nfb.ca/film/finding_farley/.

This morning I ordered “The Boat Who Wouldn’t Float; Owls in the Family; Born Naked, and Bay of Spirits from my local public library. I just HAVE to read as many of Farley Mowat’s books as possible!! I’m looking forward to the annual Book Fair in town at the end of August – I’ll be scouring the tables for more second-hand Farley Mowat books to buy! I just love reading books about the Canadian way of life – for good or for bad! I guess it’s my way of paying recognition to Canada’s 150th Birth day by learning more about my country and the people and places in it. I do believe that I’ll be reading Farley Mowat’s books for years to come……

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Expo 67

 

Today, July 1st, is Canada Day! This year, Canada turns 150 years old. I’ve been blessed that I was born in the 1950’s and have been able to participate in our country’s two milestone anniversaries: the Centennial (100 years) and now the 150th birthday. I’m not going to write or debate today about the way we, as a nation, arrived here. I simply want to write about my experience during the Centennial year when I attended Expo 67, the highlight of that year.

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My Expo 67 Postcard

 

I remember very well when Canada celebrated it’s centennial in 1967. I want to take you back 50 years ago to share my experience when our family attended the Expo 67 World’s Fair in Montreal, Quebec, Canada in July of 1967 when Canada was 100 years young. “Man and His World” was the theme of Expo.

1967 was a memorable year for me. I was 14 years old and living at home with my parents and two sisters. We planned to go down home to the Gaspé coast to see my relatives that summer. We’d have to drive right through Montreal so my parents decided that we should take in Expo 67 to celebrate Canada’s 100th birthday, along with 55 million other people – pretty impressive since our country only had 20 million citizens. We camped near Montreal at Mont Ste. Hilaire, I think, and my Dad drove us into the city bright and early to experience Expo for an entire day! I think my poor Mom stayed at the campsite with our dog that day (she probably preferred it and had a lovely, quiet day).

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Expo 67 logo

 

Expo was exhilarating, exciting, amazing and SO futuristic! It was built in the St. Lawrence River on several existing islands as well as some reclaimed land. Ninety participating countries built pavilions and I specifically remember the U.S. Pavilion looking like a giant ball of glass – actually a 250 foot diameter (76 meters) geodesic dome 200 feet high (62 meters). Currently, it’s the home of the Montreal Biosphere, which I had the pleasure of re-visiting with my youngest son a few years ago during a class trip.

There was also a Minirail – an elevated, open-air ‘train’ that took people all around the sprawling site. It seemed SO futuristic! But the best of all was La Ronde! This area was like an amusement park full of rides and games – we spent most of our day there.

La Ronde boasted rides like no other amusement park we’d ever seen before. Some of them, like the sensational, pyramid-shaped Gyrotron, were made of shiny metal and were VERY impressive: from the ground level, a rail car transported ‘travellers’ through the pyramid which attempted to reproduce space travel in a rocket. The ride suddenly ‘dropped’ into a hissing, spitting ‘volcano’ to be swallowed by a huge monster living within in it. Futuristic for 1967.

Gyrotron from Minirail WM

Gyrotron from the Minirail

 

Like any other fair, there were games galore. One particular game was a 10 cent coin toss into a plate to win a prize. I can’t figure out, to this day, what the point was of that game! My sister spent about $3.00 in dimes to win a twenty-five cent bowl or something. Hahaha!  La Ronde, still exists today as an amusement park owned and operated by Six Flags.

La Ronde WM

La Ronde

 

Fifty years have clouded my detailed memories of Expo 67 but I still feel an intense fondness for having celebrated Canada’s centennial year at Expo 67.

What do you remember?

HAPPY CANADA DAY!

There’s a First Time for Everything!

 

It’s been a very wet and cool, even cold, spring. Last month, we had record amounts of rain with flooding around the area. We’ve had unseasonably below average temperatures barely in the teens at times.

Today, it’s raining again and barely 10C degrees with a forecast high of 14. And I did something that I’ve never done in June before: I made a fire in my cookstove to warm up the house! The wind is blowing at around 35 km/hr. keeping my Canadian flag whipping in the wind.

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Cookstove

 

So what better way to celebrate a cold and rainy day but to make a beef stew (recipe here). I had some grass-fed, local beef left over from Sunday’s roast and added cut-up chunks to the turnip, onion, carrots, and celery and let it simmer all afternoon. This adds to the heat from the dwindling fire in the cookstove, steaming up the windows. The smell is intoxicating. Potatoes are added about an hour before supper as well as the leftover homemade gravy.

 
Beef stew in June. Who’d of thunk!

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Backyard flag at the river

 

Flood Warning ….. Again!

Repeat. Do-over. Redux. The past month has seen a variety of spring weather. It’s been very warm with temperatures in the high 20’s or below normal cold, and more rain than I’ve ever seen. Since I wrote my Spring Flood blog post (here) on April 9th, we’ve had an additional 107.8 mm (4.24 inches) of rain in April PLUS another 125.1 mm (almost 5 inches) of rain in the first week of May alone! That’s a month’s worth of rain in a week! It’s been raining now for 4 days straight prompting another Flood Warning for the second time in a month. This is the first time in my 36 years living here that a flood warning has been issued twice in the spring.

May8,2017WM

 
The Rideau Valley Conservation Authority, who manages the watershed, has been releasing statements regularly – I subscribe to email alerts and updates. The last one said that the rain will taper off tonight or tomorrow although we might get freezing rain or snow flurries:  “Flows in the Rideau system are now not expected to reach flows experienced in the spring freshet (flood). The rate of rise in the Rideau and its tributaries is slowing …….. Levels on the Long Reach will decline through the coming week.” The “Long Reach” is the area along the Rideau River where I live.

I’m grateful that my house is safe from the flood waters at this time unlike other poor souls who are experiencing devastating and complete loss of their homes. Most of these areas are along the Ottawa River and the Gatineau River. The Rideau River empties into the Ottawa River along with countless other rivers and small tributaries.   Almost 1,000 people have had to evacuate their homes. 😦   Many area have declared a State of Emergency.  It’s heartbreaking.

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My pond on April 8th

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My pond the way it should look in May

 

It will still be a few days before the flood level peaks. The military has now been called in to help in the flooded areas – much needed (and maybe a little belated) by exhausted homeowners. Federal government offices are closed in Gatineau, elective surgeries have now been cancelled at Gatineau Hospitals, schools closed, community centers closed, and libraries shut down on Monday because of the flooding

My house is set back about 300 feet from the river and up on a 3 foot ‘berm’ of earth. I’m glad that 40 years after this house began construction that it still holds the test of time thanks to Mr. Jones (original owner) and our old neighbour Mr. Mitchell who advised Mr. Jones to built the house a bit higher. Thank you gentlemen!

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Lettuce in my raised Kitchen Garden bed

 

Luckily, I only planted my spring garden a few weeks ago in my ‘kitchen garden’ area in the raised beds up by the house. I planted spinach, peas, carrots, and lettuce. The garlic in the main garden, which is saturated with water, was up and had healthy 6″ greens. It occurred to me today that the mole/vole problem I had in the lawn down by the river last year might be ‘remedied’ by the floods this year. The grass is growing too fast with all this rain but it will be a week, at the very least, before the water has dissipated and the ground isn’t soaking wet like a sponge. Only after it’s all dried up, I can cut the grass – and the grass will continue to grow in the meantime. Oh well, more mulch for my garden!

Now that I’ve finished writing this post, the rain has finally stopped! For now?  And a beaver is swimming around my fire pit down by the river …….  But now it’s snowing!

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Looking forward to summer in my backyard

Upper Wellington

When I was 11 years old, my parents bought their first house. I’d lived in Hamilton’s east end on Eaton Place (read more here) my entire life. My whole world was there in that quiet idyllic neighbourhood on the edge of the city. Then we moved up on the mountain to 425 Upper Wellington Street to a small 800 sq. ft., two bedroom pink (with black trim) bungalow on a busy 4 lane street at the top of the Jolly Cut mountain access road. Our Upper Wellington Street home had a very small kitchen, a livingroom, one bathroom (much to my Dad’s pain, with three daughters), 2 bedrooms, and an unfinished basement.  My Dad got busy right away finishing a bedroom for my oldest sister Faye and a ‘rec room’ for us to hang out in.  I REALLY  More

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