The Mighty Rideau River

I’ve lived here for over 30 years, along the beautiful banks of the Rideau River.  My children grew up here fishing, canoeing, chasing damselflies,and catching turtles and frogs, which I’m sure you’ve already read about in some of my other blog posts.

Painted turtle in seaweed

Painted turtle in seaweed

Damselfly

Damselfly

Bullfrog

We’ve made many ice rinks in the winter out on the river too.  I thought I’d tell you abit about this magnificent river.

River Ice Rink

River Ice Rink

The Rideau river is part of the heritage Rideau Canal system which meanders along various elevations  through Eastern Ontario from Ottawa, at the Ottawa River, to Kingston, at Lake Ontario.  The Rideau Canal is 202 kms (127 miles) long and includes lakes, rivers, 292 islands, and 45 locks along 1091 kilometers (675 miles) of shoreland, one itty-bitty section that is mine.   Actually, a person could go ANYWHERE in the world via boat right from my own backyard!

Lieutenant-Colonel John By of the British Royal Engineers supervised the construction of the Rideau Canal between 1826-1832, constructed along an old Native Canadian canoe route.  The Rideau Canal was built as a result of the War of 1812 when the United States tried unsuccessfully to invade Canada, before we were officially a country (1867).   The leaders of the day thought it was prudent to have a safe water route between Montreal and Kingston (capital at the time)  to bypass the vulnerable narrow St. Lawrence River in that area.  There were few roads in those days and most travel was via ship.  So this new Rideau Canal had to accommodate boats up to  40.8 meters (134 feet) long and 10.1 meters (33 feet) wide, which was pretty standard for the day.   Hundreds of English, French, Irish, and Scottish men battled the Canadian wilderness and malaria, working with early 19th century hand tools, to build this Canal in just 6 years!  To this day, all but 2 locks are still operated manually.

Lock

Lock

It’s awesome to go to the Lock Stations and watch boats go through – there are 45 locks located at 24 lock stations, which were constructed to bypass the 24 kms of non-navigable waterway.  When my cousin Graham and his wife Valerie came from England to visit me a few years ago, I took them on a tour to the local lock stations.  We walked right across the closed massive lock gates (it’s okay, there are railings) to the other side.  We stood over the sluice grates watching the water churning as it enters the lock.  The Lockmaster mentioned that a boat was about 15 minutes away and asked it we wanted to wait and watch it go through the lock.  We agreed and started talking about my relatives………so while we waited, the Lockmaster made us tea and served it to us on a tray outside of the lock station!   Isn’t THAT Canadian hospitality at its finest!

Locks

Locks

It’s amazing to watch a lock fill with water – 1.3 MILLION litres (280,000 gallons) for EACH lock!  It comes rushing in under the water via the sluice while the boats bob gently while rising or lowering inside the lock.  It’s fascinating!  I never tire of watching that…..  You have to remember that these locks were designed and built almost 200 YEARS ago!  And they still function today as they were meant to function then.  It’s the oldest continuously operating canal system in North America! Talk about sustainable!    The Douglas Fir gates, however,  must be replaced every 15 years, made in a shop in the small town of Smiths Falls, along the canal.

In 1926, the 100 year old Rideau Canal was designated as a National Historic Site and in 2000 it was designated as a Canadian Heritage River .   The Rideau Canal was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007, joining the Great Wall of China, the Great Barrier Reef off Australia, and the Taj Mahal in India, to name a few.  Whew, I am humbled to be keeping such noble company!

My 'Lake of Shining Waters' , Rideau River

My ‘Lake of Shining Waters’ , Rideau River

http://www.pc.gc.ca/lhn-nhs/on/rideau/plan/plan3.aspx

http://www.pc.gc.ca/lhn-nhs/on/rideau/visit/ecluse_lock.aspx

Garden Update

As May wanes and June approaches, there are lots of changes on my property.

Winter Butternut Squash has made the transplant to the garden successfully.  I’ve got several jugs around my heavy feeders to give them abit more water after I’m done watering them with the rain barrel hose.  (The other day, we had a severe thunderstorm warning and all around us experienced torrential rains, but we didn’t get a drop.)  This week, I’ll add some seaweed, scooped from the river, to give them an organic boost.

Butternut Squash

Squash

A lot of perennials are beginning to bloom now.  Around the pond, the Siberian Irises are standing tall and proud.  They don’t last too long so I enjoy their royal purple colour as long as I can.

Siberian Iris

The aromatic Perennial Geranium is blooming EVERYWHERE!  I have it planted all over the place – just one plant to start and it spreads like crazy!  It’s a wonderful groundcover and grows in shade or hot, dry sun without complaint supplying shade to other plants’ roots.

Perennial Geranium

Beside the pond’s stream, I saw the Japanese Painted Ferns that Marty got me for my Birthday many years ago when he worked at the Veggie/Garden Market in town.  They thrive there and always make me smile of those happy times.

Japanese Painted Fern

Out front, I got busy yesterday picking off the flower seed heads of the unwanted Goutweed that are invading my gardens.  I think I unknowingly got some when I bought a plant at a charity sale and now it’s just spread everywhere, trying to choke out my other plants.    But where I REALLY want it now is in that unforgiving ditch of mine along the road.

Busy Bee

So I’m transplanting some roots (difficult) and now, throwing the picked-off flower/seed heads right into the ditch.  You can’t kill this stuff so I’m trying EVERY method to get it to take over the ditch just like it’s doing to my gardens – so I don’t have to cut it and it just maintains itself!

 

I noticed alot of bees buzzing about the flowers doing their important job.

And my Lupins are starting to bloom!

Lupin

I love lupins, I always have.  While in PEI many, many years ago, I saw lupins growing naturally in ditches and I was hooked.  I started out with a few plants donated to me and every fall I sprinkle the dried seeds all over to reproduce the plants.

Getting my vegetable garden planted is going slower that I’d like.  I cannot function outside in the heat and humidity anymore and we’ve had many days so far this month with those conditions.  I did get the two blueberry plants in the ground (that Darin got me for my birthday – it’s great having a birthday in May!)  so that makes it 7 blueberry plants in total now.  I’ve decided to plant some potatoes in a couple of my raised beds in my kitchen garden as digging them in the fall is becoming an issue.  Ditto carrots.

 

I hope all of you are making progress on your Gardening this spring!

 

I’m on Vacation!

Yes I’m on Vacation…….  sort of!   Well actually, it’s a ‘Stay-cation’.   Both my stay-at-home children, are off this weekend to Toronto and I get to stay here at home with the cat and dog, on vacation.  Oh don’t feel sorry for me…… I’m actually enjoying quality time with myself.

Perce, Quebec - NOT vacationing here

Perce Quebec – NOT vacationing here this time

This weekend, it’s all about ME!  I get to do whatever I want, whenever I want, how I want.   No driving long distances or flying across the country; no whale watching or beach combing or visiting relatives or smelling the awesome ocean air…..nope, none of that.   Sooooo….. I’ve so far, eaten my usual breakfast, taken out the garbage, checked my email…. ho humm.   I have no REAL plans.  But that’s the beauty! 

I think it’s going to be very hot today:  33 degrees celsius is what I heard.   I might wait till tomorrow to plant more potatoes, IF I feel like it.

I just got in from the garden, checking on things there and in the pond.  Everything looks good except for one zucchini plant that looks like a cutworm got it.  So I’ll go out with some seeds after and replant….maybe, if I feel like it.    Awe heck, who needs TWO zucchini plants anyway!    Well okay, I do.

You see, I’ve already started talking to myself!  And worse, answering myself…..

It’s SO quiet here, I can hear the birds singing.  Listening, I can pick out which bird it is – a Robin right now, and previously “Ballistic” the woodpecker who loves to hammer on metal roofs like mine.

Sitting here writing, I can see hundreds of ‘helicopters’ a.k.a. maple tree ‘keys’ (seeds) cascading down when the wind blows……….  AAAAhhhhh.

Kitten Sleeping, again

Kitten sleeping, again

Saturday afternoon:   I slept in this morning.   It’s a real treat since I usually  get up at 6 a.m……  but this morning just after 7:30, the cat thought “enough is enough!”  and started meowing pitifully for me to get up and keep him company……….while he slept.  After breakfast, I hung out two loads of laundry before I headed out to go to some garage sales.  I found a few useful things, but nothing spectacular this weekend.

It’s almost 2 p.m now and I still haven’t had lunch yet!  After I got home around noon, I had a glass of milk and the last two of Nellie’s homemade sugar cookies because I remembered I could do that while on stay-cation.  I’ll make an egg salad sandwich on whole wheat bread in a few moments, honest!

Later this afternoon, I’ll go over to my good friends, Della and Ron, for our usual Saturday night supper and cards.  We’re usually yawning by 7:30 p.m. so I’ll be home by 8 for sure.  Likely, I’ll fall asleep while reading by 9……

I don’t have any plans for tomorrow – my last day of Stay-cation.  I’m sure I’ll be out in the garden simply out of guilt for goofing off for a  few days.  But one thing’s for sure, I don’t have to drive any long distance home, all tired and needing a vacation, after THIS Stay-cation!

Boy, you can REALLY tell that I’m on Stay-cation, since it’s taken me TWO days to write this little post!

Home, my Stay-cation Retreat

Home, my Stay-cation Retreat

Going on 60……..!!!!!!!!!!!

I had a birthday last weekend…….I turned 59.  We celebrated at my son Darin and Amanda’s with  delicious rotisserie Barbequed chickens, roasted potatoes, my favourite broccoli salad, and a yummy rhubarb cake followed by a game of Bocce and a campfire.  And when Nellie, Melvin, and I got back home, I got to pick the movie to watch.

Birthday Campfire

Birthday Campfire

It occurred to me that now I’m going on 60 years old!  Six decades…..approaching  senior citizen age!   I already get a ‘seniors’ discount at Shoppers Drug Mart, my car insurance, and now my bank (free unlimited transactions).  And all that is super great when it comes to saving money.   But, I’ll tell you, it’s an ominous feeling to be approaching 60 years old and it makes you contemplate life in a real way.

Looking back, I wouldn’t change anything.  I’ve been really blessed having seven children.  I feel grateful to have lived in my home for 31 years now and plan on living out the rest of my life here.   I feel satisfied that I’ve been dealt a good hand in the game of life.   I’ve been happy with my life mostly.  However, sometimes life throws you a curve and things turn out not exactly as you’ve planned……  Some of the terrible challenges I’ve faced in my life have actually enriched my growth.   After my Mom died suddenly in 1975, just a few weeks after my first baby was born, I eventually learned to adapt without her support, encouragement, and Motherly direction.  I always, and still do, feel her love.  Love can’t be seen, touched, heard, or smelled BUT it exists.  And because a person transcends life to somewhere beyond doesn’t extinguish Love.   And if I hadn’t been divorced, then I wouldn’t have met my soulmate Chris and had Nellie and Melvin.  So you see, it all works out…..

Looking towards the future, I feel both excitement and trepidation.  I hope to ‘cruise’ through my sixties, enjoying my little house and keeping up with the gardens as well as doing more visiting my family around the country.   I want to stop and  “smell the roses” more often or let the grass grow a wee bit longer or do less weeding  or chop less firewood.   But for now, I’m going to savour just being 59 years old!

Home by Marty

Home, by Marty

 

Internet Thumbs-up

I grew up in the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s in a time with NO internet.  Yes folks, it wasn’t until around 1998 that I even heard of this new fangled thing:  the internet.  Oh ya, back in the mid-1980s, we had a Commodore 64 which was more of a video game system than a computer, I came to discover.  But at least the kids learned the rudimentary task of writing programs ……..and stories.   So in 1998, my oldest son, Robin, convinced us that a new computer system was the way to go – the future – and it would help the other kids with their schooling……well THAT sold me!  Since we knew NOTHING about these computers he volunteered to come along to help us pick it out.  Under his tutelage, we walked out of the Futureshop store with an $3,200 IBM desktop  computer (laptops hadn’t been invented yet), scanner, and printer (dot matrix).  WE were kings!  Robin graciously helped set it up for us, even creating an email account for me  – and ,the next day, once I figured out how to turn it on and get to my email account (again with his help over the phone)  I was off to the cyber races and haven’t looked back since!  And the World Wide Web, I learned, wasn’t some kind of giant spider’s web.

I have to say, I have come to LOVE social media…..well Facebook in particular  (ya,ya, I know….I’ve heard it’s really run by the CIA ……).   It has given me a gift of reconnecting with cousins who live far away (Graham in England) or whom I’ve lost touch with for many decades (Stacey in Cape Breton) or long lost high school best friends I haven’t talked to in over 40 years (Cheryl in Hamilton).   I love to ‘chat’ with family members far away, like my sister Betty or my 3 grown sons who live across the country.  In fact, I don’t usually use my home telephone long distance very much anymore, unless I have a hankerin’ to hear their voices.  I joined Facebook in 2007 (“My Mom’s cool – she’s got Facebook!”)  originally because I wanted to see my son Marty’s pictures that he was posting.  Marty is a world traveller…..a nomad….who takes great photographs and creates awesome videos.  http://vimeo.com/42168505   My oldest son Robin has also posted pictures and videos of his travels along the West Coast of North America.  I feel like I’m there, like a fly on their shoulder….. and it gives me immense pleasure to continue to be part of their lives like that.

And who uses ‘snail mail’ (ie. Canada Post) anymore?  Well I have to admit, that I love to get birthday cards in the mail once a year……  Now we have electronic mail to communicate on a daily basis.  I can get a response from one of my children usually within hours.   And sometimes my daughter Nellie, sitting right beside me, sends me an Instant Message on the computer LOL…..usually to be funny or tell me she loves me.

Laptop

Last summer, I took the plunge and bought myself a laptop computer……..and I’m hooked.   Well that might not be a good thing since now I can comfortably sit in my recliner chair instead of that old hard chair at the desktop computer………. all the time if I want!  It’s addicting!  I love to read and sometimes I spend hours reading on the internet, even though I prefer the printed word.   And I can gaze out the window at all the yard work that’s just waiting for me…..  I guess if I try hard enough, I can justify that the computer typing is very good exercise for my arthritic hands…………

Sewing

But today’s job is not ‘playing’ on my computer or planting potatoes – it’s helping my daughter Nellie sew her costume.  But first I’ll have to fix the sewing machine as it’s acting up again (it happened before but I can’t remember what I did to fix it).

 

 

So, regrettably, I must conclude this GMoms post and turn off my computer  — for awhile anyway.

On the Inside Looking Out

 

It’s Garden Time Again

Life has suddenly gotten quite busy!  With the temperatures more seasonal and a sufficient amount of rain, my outdoors workload had skyrocketed!  I think I can actually see the grass growing and the ostrich ferns around the pond have grown 1-1/2 feet in a week.  Whew!   Some days I’m torn between maintaining the perennial flower beds (weeding) or planting seeds or transplanting started plants into my vegetable garden……or just nursing my aching joints and muscles.

Last Friday, I edged the vegetable garden to make a defined separation between the grass and the garden……something that I’ve been meaning to do for 5 years!  Every spring, it never got done and then the veggies grew and obliterated the lawn/garden lines.  I was quite gratified to accomplish this task even though I paid the price with lots of lower back pain and muscle aches ……

Started seeds in Warming Rack

 

Started plants

It seems like forever ago (early April) that I started some seeds inside – I placed the containers in the warming oven of my cook stove since it was SO cold outside that I had a fire going most days.

 

On the weekend, I took out my started tomato, pepper, and zucchini plants to ‘harden off’.  I’ll get them in the ground this morning as it’s supposed to cloud over and possibly rain for a few days.  I don’t like planting my tender veggies if it’s going to be quite warm and sunny since the shock is sometimes too much for them and stunts their transition from inside the cozy house to outside in the garden.   I can always add another section to my raised beds and top it with an old storm window for protection if the weather turns cool.  With Melvin’s help on Mothers’ Day, I planted my acorn squash in the compost and Melvin planted 4 boxes of my stored Canna Lillies, under my direction.

 

Hardening Off

 

Cold Frame Lettuce

I noticed alot of poppies coming up in my un-tilled garden, so I moved some of them all together to one of my blueberry beds.  And tons of dill sprouting in their usual spot – I love the smell of dill and often use it in my salads.  Speaking of salads, we’ve been eating the ‘cold frame’ lettuce for a couple of weeks now and the new seeds I planted a few weeks ago are up and growing.  It’s difficult to plant small seeds in my garden this early because a snapping turtle (50+ years old looking) always comes into my garden to lay its eggs in early June.  I must respect this creature as I realize that it has been laying its eggs here, likely in the same spot, for more decades that I’ve been living here – so I concede its seniority.

In the garage, in front of the window, I have a few baskets full of potatoes to be planted – these were the small spuds left over from last summer and stored in my cold ‘space’ in the mudroom.  They already have new growth almost a foot long stretching and begging to be planted………I’ll get to them this week too.

Oh I know, this hectic pace will die down again next month and I won’t be SO busy.  But certain things HAVE to be done NOW.

And this morning I realized that I HAD to get my car’s E-test (emissions) so I could renew my license sticker this week, so add that to my Must Do list…

Sunrise – time to enjoy

 

Mothers’ Day Tribute

First of all, I’d like to wish all the Mothers a very Happy Mothers’ Day weekend.   I think that it’s nice to honour our Mothers and to remind us of how valuable they are all year long.

Baby Nellie 1929

My Mother was the best Mom in the world.  She was born at home in 1929 in New Carlisle, Quebec, number 5 in a family of 10 children.  My Mom was honoured to share the same name as HER Mother, Ellen ANNIE, but everyone knew her as Nellie.  She grew up during the Great Depression and would often tell me stories of ‘the olden days’ :  during hard times, they often took sandwiches made from lard, salt, and pepper, to school…..just a sandwich and were glad to have that.   And the year the cow ‘dried up’ was tragic until she was giving milk again, many months later.  I heard stories of when her younger brother was born prematurely and they put him in a little shoe box on the open wood cookstove oven door to keep him warm (he survived and is still alive).  My Mom also regaled us with stories of life during the Second World War:  once, a German spy was captured in their small town and they often saw submarines out in the bay.  When those at home wrote letters to older siblings working in factories in Montreal, the ‘government’ blacked out much of the written words…..

1953 Mom and Me

My Mom and Dad were married in 1947 and moved to Ontario in 1951.  My Mother always loved the farm where she was raised but admitted she never liked the animal killing times.  It must have been immensely painful for her to move 1,000 miles away from everyone and everything she always knew, to an unfamiliar city where she knew nobody.  She was a REAL pioneer in the every sense.  They moved to a small little apartment downtown with my oldest sister Faye, and my middle Sister, Betty, joined the family soon afterwards.  My Mother always had positive memories of that challenging time with two young children and NO family nearby.  But she was resourceful and friendly, meeting others, young and old to spend her days with.  Just after I was born in 1953, our family moved to post WWII housing in a ‘survey’ (subdivision) along side of other young families.  I believe that those were some of the happiest days of my Mom’s life.  She forged lifelong friendships with the neighbours:  Flo, Lois, Gert.  During the summer, all the parents would congregate on OUR front steps to chat and ‘gossip’ while us kids would be playing outside until dark.  I can remember many nights, after I had gone to bed, drifting off to sleep, hearing their voices and laughter……it’s a sweet memory.   I remember various relatives from the east coast visiting us for weeks and months at a time – Mom welcomed them with open arms, cooking and cleaning and looking after them.

Early ’60s Neighbourhood

During the winter, my parents made an ice rink and ‘sliding hill’  for all the neighbourhood kids to use.  I recall times when my Mom would be outside in the dark late at night, after all the kids had gone home, watering the rink/hill wearing just a skirt, coat, flimsy scarf tied on her head, and gloves with finger tips cut out.  During this time, I also remember that she had a washboard for doing all our laundry by hand in the laundry sink and hung it outdoors to dry even in the winter.  She upgraded to a wringer washer until the late 1960s when she got her first automatic washer and dryer (but still hung the clothes outside).   But my favourite overall memory is watching Hockey Night in Canada laying on my Mother’s lap until I fell asleep,  from the time  I was 2 years old.

Mom 1972

My Mom was the perfect Mother.  She taught us that ‘you can’t judge a book by its cover’, so don’t be prejudiced.  She taught us to love mankind and the whole world around us.  She loved and respected nature and God.  She was a terrific gardener, both vegetables and flowers,  and once even won the city of Hamilton’s prestigious Trillium Award for one of the best front gardens. She was a Mother you could talk to – most of our friends preferred to be at our house rather than at their own homes and they often came to her with their problems or concerns.  Everyone knew she wouldn’t be judgemental.   Mom was hard working too – when we were young, she worked evenings cleaning offices with ‘Ernie’s girls’;   then babysat other Mothers’ children;  and finally near the end of her young life, she worked in a ‘Prep High School’ cafeteria – she rode her bicycle the 5 miles to work each day both ways…….all while raising a family.

Last Picture of Mom 1975

I remember my Mother as a young woman, many years younger than I am now.  I was just 22 years old when my Mom died suddenly in 1975 leaving us stunned and broken hearted.   She was only 45 years old.  She had two grandchildren (1 year old Brodie (Betty’s) and 4 week old Robin -my oldest) who were the love of her life.  I know that she would be proud of us girls and all those grandchildren she never met.   But a little bit of HER lives in all of US.

Mom, I dedicate this to you.

3 Generations – early ’70s

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