Posted in grandkids, loreeebee.ca, nature, Ottawa

Mud Lake: a Nature Lover’s Paradise in the Heart of Ottawa

Recently I took my four year old grandson to Mud Lake, tucked in between the water filtration plant and Britannia beach in Ottawa. More of a (man made) wetland than a lake, Mud Lake is sure to delight nature lovers of any age. Also called the Britannia Conservation area, Mud Lake is maintained by the National Capital Commission (NCC)

Animals in Their Natural Habitat

On our 3.5 km trek around the lake, we saw numerous friendly adult and baby ducks and geese, turtles, tiny frogs and tadpoles, huge bullfrogs, beaver dams (but no beavers) rabbits, squirrels, chipmunks, chickadees and herons.

My grandson wanted to catch them all, but I convinced him to leave them there with their mommies and daddies.

Directions to Mud Lake

You can get there off Poulin, then Howe Street or by following Britannia Road to Cassels Street, next to the Britannia Yacht club. There are a few designated parking spots, but parking on either Howe Street on the south side or Cassels Road on the north side is easier and permitted. There are entrances to the trails around the perimeter of the lake from both sides.

NCC Rules

There are no dogs allowed and no bikes on the trails. These rules make sense as the area is supposed to be about conservation, namely the health and happiness of the wildlife that considers this area their home.

Although you are not supposed to feed the animals, the geese and ducks in particular were quite friendly, approaching us looking for food.

This aggressiveness is one reason you are not supposed to feed them. Creating dependence on humans for food is another reason to avoid feeding them our food. Ideally, they should be able to forage for any food they need to survive.

Respecting the natural beauty is an essential rule. No littering is obvious. Trails are well maintained and should be adhered to for protection of the fragile eco system.

When to Visit Mud Lake

Open year round, Mud Lake offers beauty, peacefulness and nature at its best throughout each season. Birds are predominant in the winter months, but the trails themselves are especially beautiful when snow covered.

Between Mud Lake and the yacht club, the elevated trails can be icy in the winter and spring though, so explore these carefully.

In the spring, migratory birds are abundant, in fact the area is know to bird watchers and photographers. The latest report shows 269 bird species!

In the summer months the wetlands come to life, full of all sorts of creatures. The trails are wide and easily manageable, even for seniors or baby strollers.

Favourite Moment

After our hike around the lake, we were enjoying a snack when a snake-like formation of geese approached. Mom was in the lead with at least 18 babies following along. They waddled ashore right beside us, climbed the small embankment and disappeared across the road…

Posted in grandkids, loreeebee.ca, nature

Buzzpatch, Who and What They are

Buzzpatch attracted my attention recently as a company that produces non-toxic, fun stickers that repel insects, namely mosquitoes. As a grandmother of five, these stickers appeal to me for use in my gardens as well as at our family cottage.

Who is Buzzpatch?

The company was established by parents for parents concerned about their children and grandchildren and the over abundance of mosquitoes any time we step out the door. Some (I have a few like this) kids are down right afraid of bugs, others don’t seem to notice them biting, but scratch the bites or worse, develop an allergic reaction to the bites.

What is Buzzpatch?

As the name depicts, buzzpatch are cute sticker-like patches that you attach to childrens’ (or adults) clothing to keep the bugs at a distance. The bugs might hover around, but do not land when they smell the product.

Created from all natural essential oils (predominantly citronella AKA lemon) and no toxic DEET, these patches are safe for everyone. Stick them on your kids’ hats, shirts, pants etc. If worried about toddlers peeling them off, stick them on their bottoms or tops of their hats.

My Experience with Essential Oils as Bug Repellents

I have been a proponent of essential oils for ages now and actually created my own bug repellent using geranium and lemon oils, both of which bugs hate. It smells wonderful and works, although I do reapply after several hours outdoors, especially if working up a sweat in my gardens.

Absolutely non-toxic, I spray it all over my clothing and even in my hair and on the bare skin of my neck, hands, legs, etc. My skin is very sensitive to everything else (including those other bug sprays and sunscreens) but not to this natural remedy.

How do Essential Oils Repel Mosquitoes?

When we as humans breathe, we release CO2 which mosquitoes are attracted to when we exhale. The scent in certain essential oils (like the citronella in Buzzpatch stickers) confuses the mosquitoes, creating an invisible shield around your kids from mosquitoes. That’s the theory, I am anxious to try out the stickers.

How do You Order BUZZPATCH?

Perhaps you have seen the same advertisement I did on Facebook. I was intrigued with the advertisement due to my experience with home made bug repellent, so clicked on the ad and ordered.

I now have a referral code, please use it if you plan to order! If I love the buzzpatch product, I will create my own advertisement on this blog and share the news.

I received my order of Buzz Patch stickers this week. They came in convenient, resealable (to keep the scent in) pouches, in sheets of six stickers, ten sheets per pouch. I ordered several pouches to keep a stash at our cottage, home and even in my van for pond adventures with my grandson.

I will keep you posted as to their effectiveness!

Posted in loreeebee.ca

Roundabouts, Traffic circles: Yay or Nay?

It seems the suburban areas of Ottawa are switching residential intersections to traffic circles, AKA roundabouts. Do you love them or hate them?

I love them. Of course they only work if drivers use them properly, but the small, one lane versions are not difficult to figure out. The larger, multi-lane roundabouts can be trickier, but the more you use them, the easier it gets, often eliminating the need for full stops.

The alternatives are not nearly as efficient at controlling traffic and are quickly becoming archaic…

All Way Stops

Most of these intersections used to be “all way stops” meaning the vehicle that reached the intersection first had the right of way.

The problem with that theory is the perception of the drivers involved. Just because a driver gets there faster doesn’t necessarily mean they got there first. I have witnessed that misconception several times…so annoying!

Then you get the uber-cautious drivers that don’t realize they got there first so don’t proceed, creating a situation where everyone sits there for a minute or two looking at each other. Even more annoying!

Traffic Lights

Traffic lights are great at busy intersections, but not at those not so busy ones. There is nothing worse than sitting at a red light for several minutes when there are no other vehicles in sight.

In other words, traffic lights keeps vehicles moving if you are going in the right direction. If you are sitting on a side street, waiting to turn left onto the busier of the two intersecting streets, the traffic lights certainly slow you down.

In fact, I know some drivers that purposely drive through my neighbourhood (much too fast) to avoid the traffic lights at both entrances to the area. I also know of drivers (myself included) that avoid the intersections with the traffic lights because we’ve spent one too many time sitting there twiddling our thumbs at a red light with no other vehicles in sight.

Safety Factor

I have heard the argument that traffic lights are safer for pedestrians. I know in my own neighbourhood they were installed to help children cross the road in school zones.

I have witnessed several vehicles running red lights though (in these same school zones) so the safety factor theory goes out the window there.

There is also the undeniable fact that traffic lights permit greater speeds as vehicles gather speed between green lights, so when an accident does occur the damages are significantly greater.

Conclusions

I do like the upsurge in traffic circles in residential neighborhoods. I believe the traffic flows consistently smoother through the intersections with no needlessly annoying stops.

What‘s your take?

photo credit to Pexels

Posted in current events, loreeebee.ca

Thou Shalt not Kill: a Christian Commandment

If you were asked to rhyme off the ten commandments, supposed rules of God in Christianity, I am willing to bet “thou shalt not kill” is one of the ones you could quote.

Canadians are heartbroken and disgusted after the sickening discovery of 215 bodies of indigenous children recently at a residential school in Kamloops, British Columbia. The fear is that this horrific discovery is just the tip of a genocidal iceberg.

Residential schools were created in 1876 as free boarding schools for indigenous children, funded by the Canadian government and run by the Catholic church. In 1894 attendance became mandatory, until 1947, although the last school only closed its doors in 1996, not that long ago. The intention was to enable the children to adjust to Canadian (rather than indigenous) cultures, to convert the children to Christianity, and to civilize them. These schools were intentionally located far away from indigenous communities to limit the children’s contact with their families, fully immersing the children in their adopted (supposedly superior) culture.

Forced to speak English or French, the children were stripped of their ancestral languages and heritage. Rumours of physical and sexual abuse were rampant within the residential schools. Children that ran away were severely punished upon their return, if they returned. Many went missing, never to return, so it was reported. The dead bodies cropping up are telling a different, more sinister tale although poor record keeping and unmarked graves will make it nearly impossible to unearth the whole, ugly truth.

Back to the ten commandments. How can any religion or culture that proclaims to follow the rules of Christianity participate in such heinous acts of abuse, torture and genocide on innocent children? It makes me sick! How could those that did survive those torture-filled years ever lead normal lives afterward?

How and why are the perpetrators not held accountable for their actions? An apology is severely insufficient. This was not a single act of abuse or a simple mistake, but years of racially motivated, discriminatory, criminal acts.

Thou shalt not kill
Posted in loreeebee.ca, nature

Save the Bees with the Bee Protectors

If you are into all things nature, you have heard that bees are endangered around the world. Whether this is due to climate change, the extensive use of pesticides or other reasons, that fact remains.

As usual, education is key to change and preservation.

The Bee Protectors project has been in the works for a while, and it has been finally brought to fruition solely off the funding of our owners.

The Bee Protectors project is run by a small, passionate, group of individuals who have a goal of helping the world to be a better place through spreading the message of the importance of bees on our environment.

Bee the change and check out this website for unique bee related clothing and even jewelry. Shipping is free for orders over $45.

My friends, family and garden clients will be seeing me supporting the bees in this sweatshirt soon! I first have to decide on the yellow or green sweatshirt, maybe one of each…

Posted in cottage life, loreeebee.ca, nature

What are Gypsy Moths and Caterpillars?

This story was posted last August…please visit the update at the end.

Gypsy Moth & Catepillar Damage

Gypsy moths, at least the caterpillars that morph into the moths, have completely defoliated many deciduous trees and devoured the tops of evergreens in Eastern Ontario.

The trees at our cottage on Palmerston Lake in Ompah, Ontario have not been spared.

What do Gypsy Moths Look Like?

First we noticed lots (more than usual) of these brown moths flying around our property…

what are gypsy moths

Curious, I googled them to see if they could be responsible for the defoliation of our trees.

Sure enough, the brown moths pictured above are the male gypsy moths.

The males fly around looking for the white, non-flying female versions to inpregnate. The females crawl on the ground, attracting the males with a sex hormone, after which the females crawl onto a tree trunk or any other vertical surface (including our garage wall) to lay their eggs.

what are gypsy moths

The eggs are enclosed in a oval-shaped, soft sac. Once the eggs hatch, the caterpillars crawl further up the trees to continue the destructive cycle.

what are gypsy moths
female gypsy moth with egg sac

Once we discovered what they were, my hubby went around the property scraping (the ones he could reach) the egg sacs off, letting the eggs fall to the ground for the birds and other insects to enjoy.

Perhaps we are tampering with nature, but the damage these caterpillars inflict on.our trees is incredible.

Here’s hoping the trees will recover!

Update

Fast forward to spring 2021…the deciduous trees have leaves and bright green, new growth is visible on the evergreens. Sounds good, except for the webs at the tops of many of the trees housing thousands of tiny caterpillars. Yuk!

Plan of Action

Apparently, simply knocking the egg capsules to the ground last season was ineffective. We should have destroyed them by putting them in a bucket of soapy water…

To try to break the destructive cycle of these gypsy moths, we spent the long weekend spraying the webs with soapy water.

Fortunately I have several of these sprayers for my landscaping business

what are gypsy moths

I purchased this brand at Princess Auto in Ottawa, but you can purchase a similar one on Amazon.

Stay tuned to see how successful we were with the soap treatment!

Posted in loreeebee.ca, rant, technology

Are Wind Turbines Efficient? They Sure are Ugly!

photo credit

Are the monstrously ugly wind turbines (windmills) dotting the otherwise beautiful countryside efficient? You can probably tell I don’t approve of them. I am reminded how much I don’t believe in their efficiency or practicality every time I drive to my favourite farm.

That’s because there is an enormous north-south swath of them crossing highway 43 near the intersection of county road 11, the last leg of our trip from Ottawa to the farm in Eastern Ontario.

My last venture in that direction that was no exception. My four year old grandson, my travelling partner that day, summed up my feelings pretty well with a loud “whoa, what the heck is that big thing?” When I explained that it was a windmill, there to gather energy from the wind, he was quick to point out “but it’s not even moving!”

Exactly! During my last visit none of the windmills were operational. I mentioned this to my uncle upon arriving at his farm; apparently they were just installed. This time, a month or so later, maybe fifty percent were in motion. Not exactly a great track record.

How do Windmills Generate Electricity?

This YouTube video posted on Good Energy in the UK explains how well the windmills are working, especially within the north-western corner of Europe where it almost always windy:

Are Windmills Efficient?

In reducing carbon footprints, these windmills are efficient, actually one of the smallest footprints in current practices of renewable generators. That’s because they do not release emissions of any sort into the atmosphere. However, their actual physical footprint is enormous, taking up huge amounts of land.

Optimal sites for wind farms are in remote locations due to the amount of space they require. The problem with this is that (expensive) transmission lines must be established to get the electricity from the remote locations to the big cities that use the most electricity. This however can be lucrative in the form of extra income for the owners of remote properties since the owners of wind power plants pay rent to the landowners, often farmers or ranchers, for the use of their land.

A windmill or wind turbine is typically only a maximum of 50% efficient when wind is at a peak level. Wind however, is typically inconsistent; very few global locations would have consistent winds to maximize the efficiency level.

Theoretically wind power is cost effective because the electricity generated can be sold at a fixed price over many years, unlike the price of gas and oil which fluctuates like our Canadian weather. Wind turbines are exorbitantly expensive to make, install, and maintain, then only last on average 25 years. The wind is the inexpensive part, as it is a (free) natural resource.

Esthetics and Dangers of Wind Turbines

Not only are wind turbines hideous to look at, they have proven to be annoyingly noisy (when they work) as well as harmful, often fatal to birds. Hundreds of thousands of birds and bats are killed annually, in collisions with the massive rotating (and sedentary) arms of the wind turbines.

Conclusions

I like to think I am open minded as well as a proponent for green energy. Why then, do these wind turbines bother me so much? Probably because I am also a proponent of sensibility, natural beauty, and efficiency, especially cost efficiency.

Posted in gardens, loreeebee.ca, weather

Which Plants Bloom in Spring?

Spring is my favourite season. I love the fact that the plants in gardens, roadsides and parks start strutting their stuff, with changes every day. My own gardens don’t disappoint me every spring, in fact I am known to just wander/putter around enjoying the new growth.

If you too love spring blossoms, here are a few plants that bloom in spring for your yard and gardens…

Magnolias

My spring starts off with the star magnolia in my front yard. From afar, the blossoms look like pom poms, brightening up my yard even before the leaves emerge. Up close they are even more spectacular:

Which Plants Bloom in Spring

Another magnolia blooms a bit later in my backyard. This beauty is the Ann variety, with blossoms that change in shape as they progress…

Forsythia

After my white star magnolia blooms and drops its flowers, forsythia bushes brighten the neighbourhood with their striking yellow blossoms. My neighbour’s is especially pleasing to me as I enjoy this view from my front windows:

which plants bloom in spring

I have a forsythia in my backyard too, but it is still small and not as effectively placed as the beauty above.

Plum Trees

Next to bloom in my gardens are my plum trees, usually. This year their blossoms were barely there thanks to the birds. This is what they are supposed to look like:

Plum trees are very fragrant when blooming too, another sign of spring. Unfortunately my husband suffers from seasonal allergies, so he does not find them as appealing as I do.

Apple and Crab Apple Trees

Next up to bloom are my McIntosh apple trees. This year they are particularly gorgeous…

…perhaps because the plum trees were not. The apple trees are loaded with bees too; I’m doing my part to keep them thriving!

Around the same time as the apple trees in my backyard, the crab apple tree in my front yard and in yards all across this city are in full bloom, ranging from the palest of pink, to light pink to my own darker almost-wine-coloured version. Whatever the variety, they are all beautifully spring-like.

Lilac Trees and Bushes

While most lilac trees and bushes are in bloom by now, with their distinct and fragrant blossoms, mine does not bloom until early June. After the plum and apples trees have shown off. These lilacs are still spring bloomers by calendar standards, but not quite a harbinger of spring in my yard.

which plants bloom in spring

Shrub Roses

Shrub roses (usually) bloom earlier and for longer than rose bushes, but of course there are exceptions. My favourite shrub rose, with pale yellow five-lobed petals and lemony yellow centers is just starting to bloom now while my crab apple tree is still going strong.

A few other varieties of pink shrub roses throughout my gardens will wait a few weeks before they decide to bloom.

Roses of the climbing or bushes type wait for the hotter days (and nights) of summer to perform.

Spring Bulbs

Spring bulbs, are planted in the fall to provide early spring colour in your gardens. Early tulips and daffodils are currently blooming, with allium still working on their strappy leaves and tall stems. The alliums will be blooming soon too, with the later variety of tulips. With summer still a month away, these later tulips and allium are still considered spring blooming bulbs.

Rhododendrons

Another spring blooming shrub is the rhododendron, fast becoming one of my favourite for all of my gardens including my own. They too range in colour, including white, pale pink, hot pink, red and a purply pink.

I have a story that I tell anyone who will listen of how I was introduced to rhododendrons. Currently I choose them for most part sun gardens, especially eastern and northeastern facing ones, their preferred exposure. I have two in my own backyard too, ready to burst out in blossoms any time now…

Other Spring Blooming Perennials

A few perennials bloom in spring too. A few examples in my gardens are garden sage with pale purple flowers and Jack Frost brunnera which sports green and white heart-shaped leaves and tiny blue flowers:

Groundcovers

There are also several groundcovers that bloom in spring. In my gardens that includes sweet woodruff with delicate leaves and tiny white flowers, as well as lamium with varigated leaves and pearl pink blossoms:

Fiddlehead Ferns

These ferns don’t flower as such, but their fronds are fascinating to watch unfurl. Apparently fiddleheads are delicious to cook and eat, although I have not tried them. This bed is full of ferns, turning into a lush, green focal point in summer:

Conclusions

There are lots of plants to choose from for spring colour in your gardens. Plant bulbs in the fall or perennials and shrubs anytime the ground is warm enough to dig in.

Posted in gardens, loreeebee.ca, nature

What Happened to the Blossoms on my Plum Trees?

The plum trees in my back yard are usually so full of blossoms this time of year that you can see and smell them from across the street. The scent is heavenly, usually. Sadly, this year there are barely any blossoms.

2020 (left) and 2021 (right) blossoms

Birds Devouring the Flower Buds

About a month ago, a large flock of strange (to us, we had never seen this variety before) birds took over our backyard, devouring the emerging buds on the plum trees. There were at least fifty birds in these two trees at once, all weekend, with no social distancing evident!

I assumed they were migrating, returning from the south, and hoped they didn’t destroy the annual spectacle of fragrant blossoms.

What Happened to the Blossoms on My Plum Tree?
cedar waxwing photo credit

A bit of research taught me that these newcomers were cedar waxwings, as suspected on their way north, stopping in for a nutrition break. Apparently, when their usual meal of seeds and nuts is unavailable, they are known to snack on the flower buds of fruit trees. Cute little guys, but boys do they do some damage.

Mystery solved, but I sure hope this does not become an annual event! The gorgeous blossoms on these plums trees is a harbinger of spring in my gardens.

I may have to resort to twinkling lights and windchimes to deter the marauders in the future.

Posted in family, grandkids, loreeebee.ca, parenting

Mother’s Day: Celebrating my Greatest Achievement

photo credit: Facebook

Today I celebrate my greatest achievement. I’m sure it is apparent how much I adore my three sons. They are all kind, caring and loving, not to mention handsome, intelligent, successful, and definitely more humble than their mother.

I am especially proud of the fathers my two eldest have become with the help of the wonderful mothers of their children.

Raising Boys to Men

When my boys were growing up, people always commented on how difficult it must be to raise three boys. I wondered about that comment as I never had any daughters to compare the boys to and I always thought it was an unfair exaggeration.

These days one would call the comments sexist and all kinds of other descriptive words popular in our vocabulary today.

I have to admit, I loved every minute of it. Ok, maybe not every single minute, but 99.9% of them.

Disputing the Theory

As a mother of three boys and a grandmother to three grandsons, I dispute the opinion that boys are more difficult to raise. They may be busier physically, with different interests, but not harder or more stressful.

My father, who raised three boys and three girls, always said the girls were harder. His theory was based on the fact that he worried more about the girls until they were married. Perhaps another sexist comment, but the norm and and non-offensive back then.

Boys will be Boys

There is something to be said for the saying “boys will be boys.” My experience is that (most) little boys are fascinated with things like bugs, dirt and mud, cars and trucks, dinosaurs and more. I don’t believe these interests are taught and learned, but more instinctive or innate. Encouraged (as they should be) perhaps, but not taught.

For example, my four year old grandson can spend hours flipping over rocks looking for bugs. His big sister and younger female cousin, not so much. They tend to run from the bugs, as fast as they can.

And, one of the words my youngest grandson, at just one year old, can say is vroom, vroom. OK, that’s two words, but I’m sure you get the gist.

Tomboys Raising Boys

Perhaps I find boys easy to handle because I was a tomboy growing up, much to the chagrin of my mother. I preferred playing hockey, football, and other sports with the boys instead of playing dolls with the girls. I don’t recall though, being particularly enamoured with bugs.

You could say I had lots of practice hanging out with the boys, that could be why I have so much patience with my grandsons’ antics and interests.

Conclusions

In closing, bearing and raising happy and healthy children is something to celebrate. Even though mine are now adults, I still consider them to be my greatest achievements in life, bar none!

Happy Mother’s Day to the rest of you celebrating your own achievements!