Enough Rain!

 

It’s been raining here for several days now – torrential downpours, thunder and lightening, light rain………. the whole gamut.  This morning when I woke up it was 0 degrees celsius (32F) outside.  If fact, not too far away, it snowed!!  So I’m feeling pretty lucky that I was too busy last weekend to get my tender vegetable seedlings planted in the garden or move my few dozen inside plants to their summer home on the back deck.

Squash seedlings

Squash seedlings

 

Fragrant Basil waiting to be planted outside with the Tomatoes

Fragrant Basil waiting to be planted outside with the Tomatoes

I just hope that some of my parsnip seeds don’t wash away in the rain or the Purple Bean seeds don’t rot.  Some weather reports had predicted that it was going to be ‘sunny with cloudy periods’ on several days this week but that never materialized.

Leaf Lettuce in the Kitchen Garden raised bed

Leaf Lettuce in the Kitchen Garden raised bed

A week ago we had a 5.2 earthquake (which surprisingly, I barely felt) but the thunder the other night rocked our house inside and out scaring the dog and the cat.   Right now, my pond is overflowing – and considering the water level was down about 25 cms (10 inches) because we hadn’t had ANY rain up till now, I’m very happy.  My rain barrels were overflowing days ago……..   Those previous record low river levels are a thing of the past – last week I could barely see the dock past the bull rushes and now it’s bobbing nice and high clearly visible from sitting here in my chair in the living room.  On the other hand, the front ditch is full of water and seems to be draining very slow or not at all……   The ostrich ferns are loving this wet weather and they’ve grown several feet tall.   Hostas as well are thriving in the rain.  Luckily, the apple blossoms had a normal spring in full bloom with bees busily going from blossom to blossom.

I’m ready for the rain to stop now.   Just a break.   It can rain again next week, overnight, to water the plants.    Last year we had a drought during the summer so I guess I shouldn’t complain.  And this rain is the tail end of that Oklahoma tornado weather so I really have to be grateful.  I could visualize that I live on the west coast during rainy season like 3 of my sons or my sister Betty…..  But I’ll just continue to get some ‘inside’ work done even although I’d rather be outside.

Here are a few pictures I took in the rain this morning:

I love Bleeding Hearts.   This little bush is a faithful specimen in the traditional ‘cottage garden’ which boast these lovely heart shaped flowers.  Unfortunately, the flowers don’t last long but the leaves are nice.

Bleeding Hearts

Bleeding Hearts

Japanese Maple trees are one of my favourites!  They are supposed to be ‘sensitive’ to harsh winter conditions but all of my 7 different ones do just fine without a lot of fuss.

Japanese Maple tree raindrops

Japanese Maple tree raindrops

Common orange day lillies love any kind of conditions but especially lots of rain at this time in their growth.  I have an large circle around my chimnea wood fireplace (where we used to have our 18 foot pool).

Raindrops on Daylilly

Raindrops on Daylilly

These outside planter impatiens are tucked under the eves next to the window and are spared the worst of the cold rain.  I like the reflection off the window of my back porch and back yard.

Impatiens in outside planter

Impatiens in outside planter

 

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How to Hang Laundry Outside

 

crocusIn my world, there is a right way to hang laundry outside on a line.  I’m not sure where this notion came about but over the years I’ve realized that I have a certain order to hanging out my laundry on the line.  Maybe it’s because my clothesline ends at a tree that the pulley is screwed to or that my line is about 50 feet long or that it holds 2 full loads of laundry.  Anyway, I think I ‘schooled’ most of my kids on the correct order to hang their clothes on the line and expect them to adhere to my high standards.  Hahaha.  There are no ‘one pin’ clothes hanging on MY line or shirts hung sideways , etc.   Nope, at this house a line full of clothes blowing in the wind is a work of art!

When hanging towels, one must first begin with the facecloths.  I suppose that’s because, like I said, the line ends at a tree so I don’t want long towels blowing against the tree getting bark all over them.  Plus there’s that snowball bush that I planted underneath the line a few years ago, that has grown taller than I thought it would.  After facecloths comes hand towels, then regular towels, large bath sheets and finally the kitchen towels followed lastly by the kitchen dish cloths.  I’m nuts, eh?  If there are sheets to be hung at the same time, then they must be put right after the bath sheets.  Blankets and comforters usually get the line all to themselves since they take up so much room.

One load hung, one load to go

One load hung, one load to go

My personal laundry is usually done once a week on a sunny day – wind is nice – but if I see a tiny peak of blue sky amongst the clouds, I declare the day fit for hanging laundry outside!  My children have always done their own laundry by the time they reached their teens – with 7 children, it was a real break for me when even one of them did their own laundry!  I have a similar system for my own laundry with things grouped together like shirts, shorts, jeans, socks, etc.    Clothes are hung near their seams – shirts from the bottom, pants from the waist, socks by the toe.  In the early spring, I usually hang clothes individually with two clothespins, but once it’s warmer outside, I double up, pinning one shirt beside another with the same clothespin.

When it comes to clothes pins, not all of them are alike either.  Cheap small wooden clothespins break easier than the larger wooden clothespins, which are almost impossible to find these days.  When I do find them, I’ll be buying a couple of hundred!  I’ve never used plastic clothespins.   I usually have a roll of extra new clothesline, winches (which join and tighten the line……and can break with no notice, leaving my clothes all over the ground!), and clothespins.  You never know when your line will suddenly break and I just hate driving all the way to town just for a new line.

Left-cheap / Right-good,strong clothespin

Left-cheap / Right-good, strong clothespin

I have to confess that in the winter I use my clothes dryer as well as a drying rack by the wood cook stove.   My youngest daughter always complains about how ‘crusty’ her line-dried clothes are so I’ve offered her a solution:  she’s allowed to put her clothes in the dryer for 15 minutes only to soften them up a bit ……. after they’ve been dried outside on the line.     I kinda think that ‘crusty’ towels are akin to an expensive, exfoliating  luffa sponge anyway.

I have a thing about using a dryer to heat clothes and the house when it’s 30 degrees celsius (86F) outside!  It just seems more sensible to me to use this outside heat to dry clothes………for free.  I makes no sense to me to pour more heat into the house at the same time I’m trying to keep it cool!

One of my top ten smells is the scent of line-dried clothes.  It’s like fresh air.  (BTW, I have ‘top tens’ for all my senses, lol).

My favourite thing to see hanging on a clothesline are cloth diapers – I just absolutely love seeing those square flannelette white diapers flapping in the wind!

Now of course if you’re camping, it’s perfectly acceptable to tie a rope between two trees and throw your towels or wet bathing suits over – no clothespins necessary.

I remember when my mother used to hang our clothes outside year-round, even in the winter.  Those clothes came inside, after a day in the sun, stiff as a board – the pants creepily stood all by themselves lol.  But as if by magic, they would ‘thaw out’ and be ready for ironing.  Yes my dear sweet Mother ironed EVERYTHING, even the facecloths!!  Not me.  Wrinkled clothes are nouveau chic IMHO!   I usually only dig the iron out when I’m sewing something and need to flatten seams or iron interfacing.  I think my daughter Nellie asked for it today to work on a costume – “that hot thingy”.

Now that I’ve shared all my laundry secrets, I hope that you will continue to visit my blog in the future.  Thank you for allowing me to share my passion over hanging laundry!

 

May Day

 

Today is May 1st, May Day.  Today I celebrate spring in all it’s glory.  For the next 6 months, I look forward to warm weather, no snow, gardening, my pond………….everything that goes with spring and summer.

While I was working outside today, I took some pictures to share with you:

The daffodils are finally blooming!

Daffodils are blooming

Daffodils are blooming

And the ostrich fern ‘fiddleheads’ are beginning to unfurl.

Fiddleheads

Fiddleheads

Pond stream

Pond stream

I managed to get the leaf net off the pond and the pump in and running.  It’s nice to see it going with the anticipation of adding the fish, which have overwintered in my cold-room.  There are already some inhabitants who have made a home there:

Bullfrog in the pond

Bullfrog in the pond

The wild ginger is up along the pond’s edge and I noticed some of the hostas have started to poke through the ground.

Wild ginger

Wild ginger

Of course, flies have awakened from their winter slumber. 

Fly

Fly

Yeah, the rhubarb is up!!   That’s a sure sign of spring!

Rhubarb

Rhubarb

And the cheerful forsythia is in full bloom.  I bought a cutting of this bush at a local school plant sale several years ago and it has thrived beautifully, faithfully blooming first thing every spring.

Forsythia

Forsythia

A few days ago, I moved the flagpole to the riverside and put up a new Canadian flag.  It helps me see which way the wind is blowing for hanging laundry while being patriotic.  I now have a spring list of chores to do which I hope to accomplish in due time. 

My ‘Lake of Shining Waters’

This morning when I woke up, I was greeted with one of my ‘Top Ten’ favourite sites to see in the whole wide world :  my ‘lake of shining waters’.  No, it’s not the lake from Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables .  It’s the Rideau River out in my backyard, freed from winter’s ice and greeting me with light sparkling like diamonds dancing off its surface.

My 'Lake of Shining Waters'

My ‘Lake of Shining Waters’

It’s a joy to behold after a long winter.  It’s the promise of spring and summer to come  (even though we’re supposed to get 15 cms (6 inches) of snow tomorrow.  Ugh!  Oops, I’m sorry – I promised I wouldn’t mention the “S” word anymore this spring).  Every single time I see that sparkling water, I’m reminded of Anne of Green Gables  – it’s why I call this beautiful site, the Lake of Shining Waters.  My oldest daughter Kristi and I used to watch the Anne of Green Gables movie in the 1990’s as well as all the sequels, over and over again.  We loved it SO much that when we went on a road trip to the maritimes in 1997, we HAD to visit the Anne of Green Gables home (National Historic Site) in Cavendish, Prince Edward Island ( http://www.pc.gc.ca/eng/lhn-nhs/pe/greengables/index.aspx ) and the  nearby ‘White Sands Motel’ (officially known as Dalvay-by-the-Sea).

Anne of Green Gables house, Cavendish, PEI

Anne of Green Gables house, Cavendish, PEI

I was beginning to wonder if the river’s ice was ever going to let go this spring!  It seemed to be taking a lot longer this year – last year’s break-up was a full 3 weeks earlier.   The channel in the middle of the river is the first to show water in a tiny sliver.  As the days go by, this ribbon of water gets wider and the ice along the shoreline begins to melt.   Lately, we’ve had a few very windy, rainy days which always help it along.  A few nights ago, there still seemed to be alot of ice right out to the channel, but when I woke up the next morning after a night of rain, the ice was all gone!  I guess that the increased water level helps too.

When I took some photos this morning, I was even more blessed with one of my ‘top ten’ favourite sounds:  the whistle of a distant train.  I doesn’t get any better than that!

My 'Lake of Shining Waters' , Rideau River

Summertime

 

Spring has Sprung…….Somewhere

Snow drifts

Snow drifts

This week spring officially arrived in my neck of the woods.  But you’d hardly know it – we still have about 30 cms (a foot) of snow in most areas and even more drifted in 2-3 foot (100 cm) swaths throughout the property.  The temperatures have been below normal with most mornings starting out at -10C (14F) or even colder and most days barely making it to 0! And the days have been dark and gloomy lately.  I’m tired of winter!  I think it’s got to be the time of year because when I checked my archives, l wrote about being sick of winter in early March 2012 ( ‘Yearning for Spring’)

Where's spring?

Where’s spring?

There is heat in the sun now – a warm, wonderful heat that strikes your face and makes your skin tingly.  Every other body part is still covered up since it’s not quite up to zero degrees celsius (32F) these days.   The maple tree sap even stopped running. And the days are getting longer!  Oh joy!  It’s well after 7 p.m. before it’s dark now.

And the air smells like spring too – you know, that fresh smell of outside line-dried laundry.  Ahhh, heavenly!

And water dripping off the roof, forming  very long, crystal-clear icicles shining like daggers.  If you can yank them off carefully and set them in the freezer, they make pretty cool drink stirrers or ice cubes.

Dripping Icicle

Dripping Icicle

And there’s lots of activity at the bird feeders.  I’ve hardly seen Bluejays all winter long, but now they are frequenting my suet feeder daily, screeching loudly.  I used to fill the suet feeder every week and a half or 2 weeks and now I have to fill it several times a week!  Greedy bluejays…..

And Squirrels are everywhere!  Our cat is going nuts running from window to window ‘chasing’ squirrels as they chase each other.  I have a resident squirrel in my wood shed who always skitters quickly away when I come in.  My plan is to block up his ‘doorway’ at the eves, but I’m waiting until early summer just in case she has a family in there.

Squirrel watching

Squirrel watching

And the buds are forming on all the bushes and trees!  That’s a sure sign that soon everything will be green.

Buds

Buds

I see animal tracks in the snow every day – mostly the feral cat in the neighbourhood who visits our porch during the night.  But today I saw some small tracks down by the river.

Animal Tracks

Animal Tracks

I saw a picture a few weeks ago of the beautiful cherry blossoms in full bloom in Victoria, B.C.  Wow, it was amazing to think of a place in Canada with green grass and blossoms!

I promise, these will be the last winter-like picture I will publish this spring!  BTW, I really did take all these pictures today.  Will the real Spring please stand up!?!

Still waiting for Spring.....

Still waiting for Spring…..

Maple Syrup Time

This year I decided to tap 4 of my maple trees to collect the sap for making maple syrup.  I actually tapped them about 30 years ago but decided at that time, that they needed to grow for a few more years yet.  Well, I guess 30 years is a ‘few more years’ enough isn’t it!  I stopped in at the local Home Hardware store where I had got my tap spiles last time and sure enough they were in the same spot on those old wooden shelves.  I love this store because you can still buy 1 nail if that’s all you need…..  When the outdoor temperature is just above 0 celsius (32F) during the daytime and the nighttime temperatures dip below zero, then it’s the perfect time to tap maple trees.

Buckets clean and ready to go

Buckets clean and ready to go

My son Darin and granddaughter Livi were coming over around noon so I got all my supplies ready:  I bleached out the honey buckets I had bought for a buck from Bulk Barn last fall as well as the spiles.  I charged up the cordless drill battery, found the correct drill bit, got the hammer out, duct tape, and camera of course.

We trudged down through the snow, dodging doggy ‘landmines’ of poop, to Livi’s favourite swinging Maple tree with the rope on it.  She carried two buckets while I carried the rest lol.  Darin drilled the first hole and Livi was totally amazed and excited when it started dripping right away.  She was in a hurry to get the spile into the hole so we didn’t lose any precious sap, but she didn’t want any help hammering the tap in.  Darin finally had to help her aim the hammer abit…..

Livi helping tap the trees

Livi helping tap the trees

Voila, sap started to drip!  Livi was in a real hurry to get the bucket under the dripping sap and not waste a single drop.  She was as excited as I was to see that liquid gold dripping into the bucket.  We all had a taste – Livi said it was sour lol!  It tasted like barely sweetened water to me.  I didn’t want to ruin the buckets by drilling holes in them for the lids, so I just duct taped them on.

Livi inspecting the sap

Livi inspecting the sap

I told Livi that I had to let the maple sap drip into the bucket then collect it every evening and when we had a couple of gallons, I would boil it down to make maple syrup.  I might do some of this outside on my wood-fired chimnea fireplace since it gives off alot of moisture.  But I was going to keep a pot boiling on my wood cookstove whenever I have a fire going anyway – when it’s been slightly above 0 degrees celsius (32F) and sunny outside, so I haven’t been making a fire in the morning since the house heats up just fine anyway.   It takes about 40 litres of sap to get one litre of maple syrup.  I’ll be happy with whatever I end up with!  It’s really just a project for me…….. a sweet project.

So I guess Spring has really sprung………. tonight we even turn the clocks ahead one hour.

I Like A Rainy Day

Today I awoke to the soft pitter-patter of rain outside on my metal roof……it was almost musical.  I have to say that I kinda like a rainy day every now and then.

Raindrops on Daylilly

Rainy days are awesome.  I actually get some things done inside the house.  Every day that it’s not raining, I’m outside doing yardwork like weeding or mulching the raspberries or digging grass out of my perennial flower beds or cutting up our old Christmas tree to mulch around the blueberry plants or still looking for my little hand-shovel that I misplaced somewhere last week or simply just cutting the grass.  On rainy days, I get to spend more time doing what I love:  Reading.   I read articles on my computer but I especially love to read printed magazines and books.  I was lucky enough on the weekend to borrow two of the recent issues of Mother Earth News magazine from my daughter Kristi so I’m excited to delve into those.  While I was at her house on Sunday, I brought back a half dozen books that she borrowed from me, too.  And at a garage sale, someone was giving away old magazines so I snagged a few copies of Cottage Life.   Besides reading, I managed to get my bedroom and the living room carpets vacuumed.  It was imperative that I get my bedroom vacuumed up since there were bits of  drywall and small pieces of insulation in one area from a ceiling leak repair job that my sons Darin and Melvin did for me on the weekend (bathroom ‘vent’ broke from snow/ice on the roof –  needed replacing and re-caulking) – Thanks boys.   THAT night, I wasn’t so crazy about the rain when I went to bed and my pillow was wet and a patch of the ceiling soft and mushy, from the leak!

Green Buoy by Pond

I like to sit in my favourite chair on rainy days – okay, well, every day – and look outside :  the leaves on the maple tree, just past the deck, are getting bigger by the minute, and now thankfully shade  the house.  I remember when my oldest boy Robin planted it for my birthday about 28 years ago:  he dug two little maples out of the woods, brought them home, and planted them for me – one is a Sugar Maple and the big one by the deck is a Norway Maple.   I hung up the hummingbird feeder on one of its branches on the weekend and yesterday Nellie saw our first hummingbird of the year!   From here, I can also see my green buoy by the pond, my gardens, the firepit, and beyond, the river flowing by.

 

Some drizzly days, I can still work outside as long as it’s not pounding rain.  I WON’T get soaking wet outdoors anymore just to get an outside chore accomplished.  In between rain drops, I can still plant and weed with my rubber boots on.  So far this year, we’ve had very little rain, unlike last year when we had torrential downpours during thunderstorms which brought down 5 trees in as many weeks.

2011 Trees down

Why does a person feel SO tired on rainy days?  Sometimes I even have an afternoon nap,  right here in my favourite recliner chair when it’s raining outside.  Yawn…..it’s only 6 p.m. and I already feel sleepy.  It’s supposed to rain alot this week so it looks like I’ll get caught up on my sleep.

 

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