Spring Flood

It’s that time of year when the Rideau River’s ice is melting – it begins in the channel with a sliver of water peaking through. I always notice the melted ice in the channel first down by the bridge to town. Over the next few days, it slowly makes it’s way up to our place and beyond. Then usually the ice at the edge of the riverbank begins to melt and leaves a small ribbon of water. Huge ice flows shift from one side of the river to the other depending on which way the wind is blowing them.

My dock begins to rise with the water and bob in eager anticipation!

1 2017

2017

This year, it became cold and winter-like after spring ice break-up commenced and the whole river froze over again. We’ve had a bit more than the average total snowfall this winter (around 235 cms). It didn’t take long, though, for the thin ice in the middle channel to begin to thaw and water flowed once again.

A few weeks ago, it looked like this spring would be an average melt considering we had a very slow warm-up and the snow was melting a bit every day. Then the rain started. And it rained for several days. One day alone, we had 36 mm of rain added to the 30+ mm we had the day before (2.5+ inches).

The trouble with so much rain here on the river, is that the ground is still frozen and the river still has ice along the shoreline this year. When we get that much rain in the region, it all flows to the rivers and creeks. These waterways have no choice but to overflow. The Rideau Valley Conservation Authority issued a Flood Warning for our area a few days ago. The river is 2 meters (6.5+ feet) above normal level.

The other day when I woke up, the river’s banks had overflowed about 15 feet and the river was considerably higher – I could see my dock floating way above winter levels. My riverside flagpole and flag were gone, likely knocked over by the sheet of ice. The next day, the water had come a third of the way up my yard. A few hours later, it crept halfway up. It ended up 3/4 of the way up my yard.

We’ve always been spared from any river flood damage because our house was built on a one meter (3 feet) pad of earth. During the great 100 year flood of 1976, all the roads around our place were under water and our place stood out like an island (this was before we moved here in 1981). One old timer said Reeve Craig Road used to be called ‘Puddle Alley’ for obvious reasons.

2 2008

2008

In 2008, we had another ‘hundred year flood’ after a record-breaking winter snowfall – they might want to correct that phrase to reflect the fact that these floods are happening way more often than every 100 years. In 2014, it happened again. My grandkids thought it was great to canoe ‘on the grass’ in Gramma’s backyard!

My sump pump has been working overtime! What the heck is a sump pump you ask? Well, it’s a water pump inside a 3 foot pit in my basement where the ground water around my house flows into a perforated tube buried around the perimeter and drains into the sump pit. My basement has always been dry other than the time the sump pump failed to turn on…….

3 heron

Great Blue Heron on dock

The water has finally started to recede now! This is monumental in ‘flood warning’ mode. All the ice seems to be gone from ‘the long reach’, which is the term given to my neck of the woods (it’s the longest stretch between locks – read more here). This morning, I was treated to one of my top 5 sights: my ‘lake of shining waters’ where the water sparkles like a million diamonds in the sun. Oh, I just LOVE seeing this! (I wrote about it here) I watched a beaver sitting on a small ice flow as it made it’s way down the river; several Great Blue Herons flying along the shoreline likely looking for a nesting place; and lots of ducks.

4 Lake of Shining Waters

My Lake of Shining Waters

Spring has literally sprung!

New Deck

When we moved into this house in 1981, there was a small deck out back overlooking the river. In 1990, we enlarged it considerably (17 feet by 32 feet) to accommodate our growing family and friends. About 10 years later, we replaced the top deck boards with spruce 2×6’s as they were beginning to rot but kept the framing. That was over 15 years ago and the deck boards were now in bad shape > so bad in spots, that my daughter Nellie thought I might fall through and break a leg any time! So she texted her brother Darin and told him that they had to do something! Then she told me that Darin and her were going to build me a new deck.

1old-deck

old deck

 

Okay, I thought, yes they are right – that deck is in bad shape when I have to tiptoe on the nails to avoid stepping on the rotten spots! Yup, I had to admit it: I needed a new deck. We began with a deck planning session where we finalized the design and some of the materials. I wanted an area right outside the mudroom door, big enough to open up the screen door and be able to pass through before going straight down any stairs. We also needed a big deck area for sitting out or eating but not as big as the current deck which could accommodate our neighbourhood. And I also needed to access my clothesline and have stairs on the other side as well. This time, I wanted to use the new, eco-responsible treated lumber so it would outlast me.  Then Darin and I went to Home Depot to pick up some of the deck blocks and materials for the framing to get things started. Over the months of construction, I purchased material from both of our small town lumber companies to support the local economy.

We began one beautiful sunny weekend with ‘Deck Demolition Day’: Nellie, Darin, my 12 year old granddaughter Kalia, and I worked ALL day! Darin cut the 16 foot deck boards into three pieces with while Nellie and Kalia diligently removed all the old nails. We had the old deck down and the old deck boards stacked neatly beside the firepit at the river by suppertime.

2-rebuilding

 

During demolition, we discovered that some of the ledger board (the 2″x10″ board attached to the house which the deck is attached to) under the mudroom door was rotten. So we spent another entire day repairing this and the adjoining mudroom walls. There is still more work to do in that area but we had to focus on the deck knowing that it’s a project for next year.

During the week, I spent every day moving the composted leaves that had been under the old deck down to my garden – 19 wheelbarrow loads!

 

3-cutting-wood

 

The next weekend my son Melvin and and his girlfriend Cassidy joined Darin, 11 year old granddaughter Livi, Nellie, and I to begin the process of rebuilding. We had to measure everything out and place the cement deck blocks in place. We decided to go with free-standing deck blocks instead of digging down 4 feet through large tree roots. Each three foot deck post and all the framing had to be precisely measured and leveled. The kids worked well together like a well-oiled machine on the new deck while Livi and I did things around the yard like pick raspberries for lunch (I think we actually ate more on the spot); made lunch; made another little bridge for the back of the pond because the other one had rotted (we used two of the old deck boards that were in good shape); set up the badminton net; and played badminton for hours. And the girls played with the new kittens.

4-livi-multitasking

Livi multitasking

 

Darin set up the table saw out front of the garage for cutting all the wood that was sitting in the driveway. Cassidy even got a lesson and an opportunity to use the table saw. Livi also took time out to be the painter who coated the end cuts of the deck wood with special paint to protect them. Darin, Melvin, and Nellie attached all the deck hangers and supporting cross pieces which took a LOT of time. But finally, the framing was all done and we were ready to begin applying the deck boards next time.

6-darinnelliescrewingdeckframe

 

The next weekend we stated the decking. Each piece had to measured twice and cut once (as my FIL used to say). Livi applied the paint to the end cuts then I carried each deck board through the garage to the backyard. Finally, I was able to do something besides play badminton, eat raspberries, and make lunch!! Darin and Nellie steadily screwed down all the deck boards – boy, there were a bunch of them! We worked all day over two Saturdays and got almost all of them in place so we were actually able to stand on the new deck! And I was able to hang out my laundry for the first time all summer! And the best part was that I didn’t almost fall off the deck while putting clothes on the line because of the rotten board and the fact that the I had to lean out to reach the line before.

5playingaround

always time for playing around

 

All that was left were the two staircases. Darin has a special tool to measure out the angle which we penciled on to the board. Then he cut out the risers with Nellie and I holding the board. Three per staircase, so 6 risers. And two deck boards per stair. Finally, the whole deck was done! I have to thank my DIL Amanda who brought down supper a few weekends. Darin and Nellie rocked! They worked long days each weekend to “get ‘er done”. My granddaughters worked hard too, and best separately and away from each other ;). Melvin’s strength was a bonus as he carried all those heavy deck blocks from the front of the house to the backyard.

7framingdone

 

One of the first things I did, was sit outside on the deck with a cup of tea looking at the water, birds, and my back yard. I love that I can walk right around the deck now because it’s two feet shorter – I don’t have to go all around the chimnea fireplace to get to the other side of the house.  Nellie helped me move my big planters of spider plants outside to the edge of the deck and I took out the small outdoor table and a couple of chairs.

8done

 

Initially, I had planned to put lattice screens up along the base of the deck to hide the framing underneath but I changed my mind because it really looks nice, considering there’s a lot of money in that frame. So I’ve decided to transplant some garden plants underneath and along the edge. The other day, I planted some perennial geraniums and I have some real nice hydrangeas, hostas, and day lillies to add next spring. I also have some extra walkway ‘stones’ that my husband made years ago to put at the bottom of the stairs.

9-plants

 

That deck is so solid, if we ever had an earthquake, the house might fall down but the deck will be left standing!

Grandkids and Pizza

The best combination!

Last weekend my 2 oldest granddaughters Kalia and Livi came over for the day.  I always love when they visit.  I also know that a 12 and 10 year old would probably rather be playing with their friends than spending the day with their ol’ gramma so I really cherish these times.

Kids today are so busy.  There are sports and studying after school and a whole slew of activities on the weekends.  It makes my head spin!  Vegging out is a luxury.  I was going to take them into town the day they came here but it was so windy and cold outside that we just stayed home.  Livi made a valiant attempt to go outside to play on her rope swing but the wind was just too much for her.

Kneadingwm

Kneading the dough

Soon after the girls arrived, I started the pizza dough using my daughter-in-law Jeanette’s recipe (below).  I figured that maybe it would be fun for the girls to do some cooking and make their own pizzas for lunch.  I mixed together all the ingredients and let it rise while we watched a Disney movie (they still love Disney movies – heck, we all still love to watch Disney movies).  After an hour, I called the girls to the kitchen.  It was time to knead the dough!  I divided it into 3 pieces and dumped a bit of flour on the center island for each one.  I showed them how to knead the dough, sprinkling a little flour if it got sticky.  Livi had a great time adding lots of flour until I mentioned that the dough needs to ‘rise’ and double in size so if she added too much flour, it might get too heavy to rise.  She eased off adding more flour.  After 10 minutes of kneading and chatting, we put our balls of dough back into the bowl and covered it with a linen tea towel.  I explained why I use a linen towel – so the dough doesn’t stick to it.  We left it rise again until double in size while we watched another Disney movie.

Making our individual pizzas

Making our individual pizzas

After an hour or so, we took one of the balls and divided it into three separate pieces that would become our individual pizzas.   Each one of us rolled out our dough to fit the pans – a LITTLE bit more flour was used on the center island.  Then we cut up some tomatoes fresh from the garden, onions, and shredded some mozzarella cheese.  I almost forgot about the lone green pepper from my garden until Livi reminded me!  I also had some olives in the fridge.  Each one of us spread some pizza sauce on our dough then loaded them with our individual favourite toppings while the oven heated up.  I baked them all at the same time for 12 minutes and they were ready to eat.

They were pretty big pieces!  Livi was only able to eat half of hers while Kalia devoured all of her’s – she’s growing fast and is now taller than me.  We went back to watching more movies, tummies full.

I love spending these precious times with my grandchildren.  All too soon they’ll be all grown up.

Mmmm, 3 individual pizzas ready to eat!

Mmmm, 3 individual pizzas ready to eat!

Jeanette’s Pizza Dough

Mix together:

2 teaspoons dry yeast

3/4 cup lukewarm water

2/3 cup flour

Let sit for 30 minutes, then add:

1 cup flour

Let sit for 30 minutes, then add:

2+ cups flour (add 1/2 cup at a time)

1 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup olive oil

Add flour until dough pulls away from the side of the bowl.

Knead for 10 minutes and let it sit until doubled in size.

Living Legacy

This week I received 76 tree seedlings and 30 bushes free of charge because they were ‘surplus’ from a local project:  White Pine, Red Maple, White Birch, Sugar Maple, Bur Oak, Tamarack, Cedar, Sweet Gale, and Pagoda Dogwood.   All were bare root seedlings (not planted in a pretty one gallon container) ranging in height from 12-36 inches (up to one meter).  I assured the donor that I could definitely find homes on my property for every living plant, even though I re-gifted 10 trees to my son Darin for his home.

Bur Oak

Bur Oak tree

I had been expecting them, so I carefully drew up a map of where I wanted to plant all these wonderful trees and bushes.  It was truly a gift to receive them.   Most of the trees were planted along the sides of my property where they wouldn’t interfere with the gorgeous sunlight that feeds my soul and my garden – and maybe some day, solar panels.   White Pines were interspersed with Cedars and Sugar Maples nearest the house.  I thought that the Sugar Maples should be close so I can tap them in about 25 or 30 years to make maple syrup – maybe I’ll be like my Gramma who was active and busy when she was over 90 years old.   Sometimes there’s still snow on the ground when the Maples are tapped so being closer would be easy….. right?  Tamaracks and Cedars were planted down by the river since they like it wetter.  Some Red Maples and Bur Oaks were planted about halfway up the yard.  I tucked in a few Pagoda Dogwoods and Sweet Gale right along the riverside where they will thrive.  Most of the White Birch were reserved for the front of my house near the road where it’s drier.  They’ll grow up amongst the other maples, cedars, ash, and a variety of bushes.

White Pine

White Pine

The majority of Sweet Gale and Pagoda Dogwood bushes are destined for my ditch by the road.  It’s been an ongoing battle for me over the past few years, to keep my ditch perfectly manicured.  The sides are so steep that it’s very difficult for me to trim the grass.  So last fall, I decided to give in and let it be.  I’ll leave the centre of the ditch for the water to flow (or more like, sit and evaporate since it doesn’t really flow anywhere).  I have other bushes to add including Forsythia (which I have rooting in the kitchen), Hydrangea bushes (ready to be dug out from beside their momma bush), False Spirea (which has multiplied from the original single bush dozens of times over), Ostrich Ferns (which grow prolifically around here), Orange Daylilies (which desperately need dividing anyway), and that blasted Goutweed (which has invaded every garden – brought accidently into my garden with a friendly transplant).   So let the grass grow!  Soon it will be smothered by these other plants.

Sweet Gale waiting to be planted

Sweet Gale waiting to be planted

I reserved the three best trees for my three grandchildren who do not have a tree planted in their name yet.  To date, only 11 year old Kalia has a Ginko Biloba, 9 year old Livi has a Mountain Ash, and Spirit Baby has a White Pine.

I realize that I will likely never see these trees grow to maturity unless I live to be 100.  But as I planted each stick of a seedling, I wished it well on its journey and asked it to share its beauty with my children and grandchildren and whoever else might some day lay eyes on its magnificence.  My gift, my living legacy

International Women’s Day

 

Today I celebrate International Women’s Day.  I honour all the women who are part of my life and I pay tribute to all the women who have influenced me in the past.  Some of these women include:

First and foremost, My Mom

My sisters Betty and Faye

My daughters Kristi and Nellie

My granddaughters Kalia, Olivia, J & H

My daughters-in-law Amanda, Jeannette, and Nici

My Grandmother “Mom”

My nieces Brodie, Jennifer, Kari, Kathryn, Terri, Melissa, Meg, Kate, Emily, Dana

All my darling cousins like Maureen, Carolyn, Verna, Dale, Jacklyn and all the rest – and their daughters and granddaughters

My sisters-in-law Janet, Cheryl, Amanda, Penny, Wanda, Debbie, Lynda, Wendy, Mimi, Holly

All my Aunts

My long-time friend Kristi

Cherished friends Sharon, Aleta, Andrea

My mother-in-law Florence

Lil

Good neighbours

High school friends who have reconnected

Wise women like Elsie Cressman, Ina May Gaskin, Margaret Mead, and Marian Thompson.

My friends in La Leche League and all the mothers I’ve been honoured to help over the years.

The women I assisted with the births of their babies while I was a Midwife – and all those baby girls, many of them now adults themselves

The women around the world who I will never even meet who have impacted my thoughts and actions over the years.

I apologize if I haven’t mentioned any lady in particular who has been part of my life.  You are still important to me.

Mum

 

 

 

Cutting Our Christmas Tree

I want to share some pictures with you of our adventure to our favourite Christmas tree farm to cut our Christmas tree.

Livi, Sarah, Melvin, Nellie, baby Josh, Skylar, & Krisit

Some of my children and grandchildren:  Livi, Sarah, Melvin, Nellie, baby Josh, Skylar, & Kristi

 

This year, we were looking for a small tree under 5 feet.  I decided after last year that I didn’t want to move any large furniture to accommodate the tree in the corner.   After wandering around the field for a while, we found the perfect tree and Melvin skillfully cut it down.

Timber!

Timber!

 

Darin and Amanda and the girls were off in another direction looking for their perfect Christmas tree.

Aunt Nellie carried baby Josh around in his baby carrier – even Josh enjoyed himself!

Baby Josh and Aunt Nellie

Baby Josh and Aunt Nellie

 

While we were tying down our trees to the top of our cars, the kids enjoyed horsing around in the snow.

Skylar, Kalia, and Livi

Grandkids Skylar, Kalia, and Livi

 

Then we were off to Darin and Amanda’s house for hot chocolate, chili, and board games (of course!).

Loading up the tree

Loading up the tree

 

Merry Christmas!

 

The Sides of my Fridge

The outside of my fridge is an anthology of the life that I’ve lived and the people who’ve lived it with me. The actual surface is barely visible under all the artwork, notes, fridge magnets, and other memorabilia. Almost all three sides are visible ….. and completely covered. To me, it’s a tribute …… recognition of accomplishments or places we’ve visited.

download

 

The front side is reserved for a special tribute to our beloved Chris. Front and centre is one of my favourite pictures of Nellie and Melvin with their Daddy on the beach in New Carlisle, Quebec. Anchoring the bottom of the freezer door are fridge magnets from the many places we’ve visited like Comox Valley, B.C.; Niagara Falls; Vancouver Aquarium; Montreal’s Biodome, Calgary; Tadousssac, Quebec; Pacific Rim National Park, B.C.; Bonaventure’s BioPark; and of course Perce Rock, Gaspesie, Quebec. Every time I go to the fridge, I am reminded of these happy times with my family from coast to coast. In the top corner, I can always find our ‘burn permit number’ magnet when we need to phone it in at the start of an outdoor fire, just to keep the fire department aware of deliberate fires. And beside it is a magnet with Emergency CPR instructions. I hope we don’t ever need that…..

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One side of my fridge has the oldest collection of artwork. There you will find a diagram of DNA and RNA that my oldest son Robin drew for his younger brother Marty about 15 years ago to explain how it all worked. There is also a chemistry Periodic Table which has been in the top left corner of several fridges for many, many years. It’s always handy to have this reference just in case you ever need the symbol for any of the elements ;). A wee note from my grown daughter Kristi, drawn when she was about 5 years old is held by a fridge magnet for our veterinary office. There’s a thank you letter from Marty and Jeanette after I mailed them their tent to British Columbia. And a computer printed picture of my son Taylor wake-boarding on the river. I like the fridge magnet with a picture of the Emerald Ash Borer – this insect is devastating the ash trees around here so it’s handy to have a visual reference in case I see one.  Near the bottom, there’s also a sketch of the relationship between gamma rays, x-rays, microwaves, UV rays, and radio waves and colours that looks like it was drawn by Marty a long time ago.

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The far side of the fridge is the most open and eclectic collection in the entire house. There’s the large Mother’s Day ‘memo’ board made by Melvin when he was 5 years old. And my granddaughter Olivia’s artwork including a googly-eye star and a colourful thanksgiving turkey. More fridge magnets of ‘how safe is the ice?’ or Telehealth phone number. Granddaughter Kalia’s baby and toddler pictures – she’s 10 years old now. Sometimes I have to rearrange things as they get knocked off when someone brushes by.

All in all, I love these moments in time that are displayed on the sides of my fridge.

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