Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Busy With Pre-Christmas Stuff!

We're quite busy these days with all the Pre-Christmas stuff that we choose to do - gift buying, sending cards, flower ordering, and making donations.  Apart from the gorgeous outdoor arrangements Mrs. F.C. created, we haven't done much decorating.  Not sure yet how much we'll do either.

Gift buying is a challenge for me, so that's another thing Mrs. F.G. has to deal with, but I think she's getting to the end.  My small contribution will be to pack it all up for mailing.  Usually the cost of mailing exceeds the cost of the gifts!

Christmas has become very quiet for us, and we won't be giving much to each other.  The last thing we need is more stuff!  But Mrs. F.G. did go out and buy the biggest Poinsettia she could find the other day.

She also brought one of the fancy dolls she made a few years ago up from her sewing studio in the basement to join us for Christmas.  Of course I can't get down to see all the good stuff she's working on in her sewing room, but I know she's frantically working on pillow cases for the grandchildren out west.  Made out of appropriate fabric for each, they're a big hit.

I'm the one who is in charge of sending out our Christmas cards (below).  I hope you think it's appropriate!  Yes we're one of those families who still do that, though it seems almost archaic today.  I have them all addressed and in envelopes, with half still to seal up.,  My tongue ran out of moisture!


Today I've been working on our donations.  We have a number of charities we support, and at this time of year we get lots of requests for donations.  I have chosen several we'll give to this year, and just ruthlessly delete the other emails.  I'm feeling generous this year though.  Since we can afford it I feel we should share more and I've done so this afternoon, including a large donation directed towards assisting the hard-hit farmers of the Sumas Prairie in Abbotsford in B.C.


Saturday, November 27, 2021

Tree Trimming

We had the tree trimmers come again the other day.  Mrs. F.G. wanted a few lower branches that were shading the garden cut.  And we're going to gradually try and shift the composition of the few trees we have away from Norway Maple, towards the Sugar Maple.  We also have to be prepared for the Emerald Ash Borer, as we have five large ash in our line of trees out the back window.

I'm always surprised at the way these guys can haul themselves up into a tree; if I wasn't in a wheelchair I'd love to try it.  Of course this is proceeded by a lot of rope throwing - and I'm also surprised at how accurately they can throw that little weight that pulls the bigger rope up over the branch.

Three of them came, and two quickly scrambled up the trees we wanted trimmed, the third hauled fallen branches away.  As you can see they arrived on the day of the snow squalls, but that didn't slow them down much.

After trimming the ash, this guy practically walked up our Sugar Maple to cut two lower branches.

Whenever possible they use a sharp handsaw to trim off the outer ends of branches, which they can grab and drop more carefully to the ground.  

The other arborist climbed high in the Norway Maple, draping ropes a good deal higher than the main branches we wanted cut.

He also climbed far out on the doomed branches to cut it off in smaller pieces.  It was right over our shed roof and I guess they were just being careful.  You can see all the ropes providing his safety harness too.

They use a separate rope to lower larger branches down, a man on the ground controlling the rope to guide and drop it gently.

Then the chainsaw comes out to cut the larger branch.  The rope on the left will lower that branch down once it's cut.

The arborist is sitting on the long curved branch we wanted cut, the smaller one above it already gone.  I'm pleased to say that all the trimming we wanted done was accomplished quickly and safely.  We'll have to wait until next summer to see what difference it makes.  Thanks to 'Arboreal' for their excellent work.



Wednesday, November 24, 2021

This Time It REALLY Snowed!

The snowflurries started Monday morning, lake streamers bringing moisture off Lake Huron, dropping it in a long narrow band right over our house!  We got 8-10" on Monday, but Tuesday dawned bright and sunny.  With blue skies it made for good pictures.

The view out the back was beautiful.

The Norway Maple leaves seemed to have fallen stem first into the snow, lodging vertically like little yellow soldiers across the white.

Of course the winter shadows were out there.

We had some tree trimming done on Monday, so this is a new view from the den, no longer impeded by low branches.

Here is the 8-10" of snow on the planters, with Mrs. F.G.'s arrangement looking more white than green.

Snow hung heavily on the neighbour's cedars, with one lonely Redbud leaf.

And our heron/ostrich got to bury its head for the first time.  By 7 a.m. several men on the street were out  with their snowblowers, and our own snowblowing service got here by 7, well in time for the caregivers who arrive about 7.45.  



Sunday, November 21, 2021

A Dairy Herd Tragedy is Unfolding in Abbotsford

If you've been watching the news recently you'll know that a huge flooding crisis is happening in the lower Fraser Valley of B.C. right now.  The rural part of Abbotsford is largely located on the drained farmland that was formerly Sumas Lake.  Today it's known as Sumas Prairie, and it's one of the best farming area in Canada.  It includes the heart of B.C.'s dairy industry.

Here the closed trans-Canada disappears into the floodwaters while the flooded Sumas Prairie extends in the background.  This is personal for us, because our daughter and our two grand-children live in Abbotsford.  We've been there, we've driven across the farmland and we've hiked with the family along the trails on top of the dykes.

The prairie was drained in the 1920s, a huge pumping system installed and miles and miles of dikes like this one built.  We've walked along the top of that dike.  

Further north lives have been lost in mudslides, but here it's the farmers who are suffering the loss of life, that of their cattle.  I don't know if you've ever spent time on a dairy farm, but dairy farmers generally know their cows by name,  Cows have personalities, some are slow, some silly and some just co-operative.  Dairy farmers strive to keep their cows comfortable because guess what - comfortable cows produce more milk!  

So dairy cows become like members of the family.  No wonder farmers are going to extra-ordinary efforts to save their cows, though tragically hundreds are drowning.  Dairy cows are bred every year too, because cows need a calf to produce milk.  So over the years the quality of a herd steadily increases based on how well the farmers manage things.  It represents an investment of decades in many cases.

Here's one of the dike-top trails we've walked along, the canal out-of-sight on the right, the farmland and buildings on the left.

And another dike, the farmland and buildings beyond.  It's a pattern that's been in place for 100 years or so and is so familiar most people probably don't even recognize it.

On another nature trail we walked first down the lower level of the canal, surrounded by the trees of the floodplain, but you could see the dike and beyond it farm buildings on the far side.

Along the way we saw several Bald Eagles.

We crossed a bridge and walked back on top of the dike, farms on the left and the sleepy canal on the right.  Here we are nearing the end of our walk, still on top of that dike.

Yes, that's mois and my grand-daughter on my shoulders (wearing my hat).  Yes, this is personal.  Spare a thought for the dairy farmers of Abbotsford.

Flood pictures from public news sources.













Friday, November 19, 2021

Snow

 Yes, it actually snowed, not just the light dusting of the highlands that I posted yesterday, but snow right here in Meaford.  Just an inch or two here, but my morning caregiver today, who lives up on those highlands, reported a foot of snow at her place!  Winter is here.

This was the view out our back window this morning.

Snow everywhere on the plants.  With no wind, it just stuck.

Our heron/ostrich got its first taste of the white stuff.

The roof of the shed was white, but melting fast once the sun hit it.  It was bare in an hour.

The dark grey skies over out neighbour's shed showed off the golden leaves of the Norway Maple brilliantly.

And those leaves really were golden.

The shadows are one of the things I enjoy in the view out our window.

And those shadows move amazingly quickly!  Compare these two photos taken just 30 minutes apart.




Thursday, November 18, 2021

A Light Snowfall on the Highlands

Now you have to understand a bit of geology to understand this post.  Driving the highway west of Meaford you slowly rise up the Algonquin shoreline of the last ice age.  After that until you drop down over the rocks of the escarpment on this side of Owen Sound you are up on top of the escarpment.  That's enough to make a slight difference in temperature.  As a result that part of the drive may have snow while both in Meaford and in Owen Sound there is none.  

Driving to Owen Sound for physio the other day, we saw the evidence of this as a gentle snowfall covered all the trees for the stretch of the drive above the escarpment.  Later on in the winter the difference will be a lot more obvious.  For now, enjoy these early winter photos.

The bluish cast is because they were all taken through the windshield.  It all disappeared of course within hours, and the following day it rose to a high of 13°C.  Now, with a forecast of -7 and snowsqualls, it has started snowing outside my window two days later.




Monday, November 15, 2021

Garden and Winter Arrangements

Mrs. F.G. has been working hard to put the garden away for winter.  She does tidy it up, but much of that involves mulching as much as she can with leaves, protecting the few tender plants we have in pots, and doing some final fall pruning.  She is careful to leave lot of shelter for the bugs, and sometimes I think we're here mainly to feed the wee beasties, the squirrels!

The planters on the deck were the first to be tidied.  They've been bare for 2 or 3 weeks now.

Across from them the main part of the new garden surrounding the patio has been tidied a bit, but left mostly as it is, except for removing the Dahlias.

The older patches of garden outside the living room and den windows though, have been heavily mulched with leaves.  What was a sea of green a month ago is now a motley vision of leaves.

The narrow gardens down the sides of the house (the first mainly day lilies, the second mainly veggies) have been heavily mulched.  The lower photo is a bit out-of-date, as all these pots have been lifted down into the window wells for protection.  The snow will protect them quite well there.

And out front Mrs. F.G. has created two wonderful arrangements of evergreens, red osier dogwood stems and other things.  These look great beside our front door.  A good friend who lives on a small farm gave her the varied evergreen bows, and she gathered the red osier herself.

Finally, out back she created a slightly smaller arrangement for each of the four planters.  Particularly when everything is covered in white these will be quite striking as the only things poking up above the snow.