Patience is a virtue they say, unfortunately one that I (sometimes) have a limited and selective supply of.
Thankfully with my grandchildren I seem to have an unlimited abundance of patience, perhaps because I now realize, thanks to the wisdom acquired over my years, that it’s the little things that matter in life.
And time, I have much more time to spend on the small things, including the special small people in my life.
I also lead a much less stressful life than I did when my three sons were young. Back then I had two full time jobs, one outside the home and one within. It has been proven that patience is inversely related to stress. Who hasn’t noticed that when they are stressed, the smallest of annoyances makes them impatient and when you become impatient, you feel agitated and stressed?
Of course there are still many things that test the level of my patience. Things like:
What child doesn’t love collecting pinecones? My grandchildren are no exception. They all love to collect them. The problem becomes what to do with the pinecones once they arrive at my home.
Pinecones and Summer Flowers
I got this idea somewhere, but cannot remember where. The last batch of pinecones my three year old granddaughter collected have become a summer flower arrangement, thanks to some spray paint in pretty colours and a plastic bowl.
The first step was to protect my garage floor. We painted the pinecones in the garage as it was raining out the day we decided to tackle this craft.
An old plastic coated table cloth did the trick. I have several of these around, they come in handy in my gardening business to protect the floors of my van when transporting plants, soil and mulch.
Next, I protected my granddaughter’s clothing and hands as the spray paint I have on hand is not exactly kid-proof or easily removed from clothes or skin.
Although I have several aprons, including a few child-sized ones, they would not cover her arms or legs. So I used one of my favourite long sleeved shirts designated as gardening wear; it fit her like a dress.
She also wore her garden gloves that stay at my place for our garden adventures/chores…
I had spray paint in green, purple, orange and two shades of pink, a nice assortment of summery colours. We saturated the pinecones with colour, then let them dry in the heat before arranging them in a plastic bowl…
Fall or Winter Pinecone Decorations
In fall or winter pinecones can be painted white or silver or even left in their natural colour and used in Christmas or winter decorations.
Pinecones collected on our walks are usually small, perfect for.holiday centerpieces and more craftiness.
Craft and even grocery stores carry larger ones in fall and winter. These jumbo pinecones look great in outdoor winter arrangements, some even have sticks attached to them for easy insertion into your decor.
Use your imagination to inspire your own pinecone craftiness!
The practice of dumping raw sewage into waterways is archaic and should not be acceptable in civilized countries, including Canada. Why do we continue to allow this?
What is Bill C269?
Bill C269 was created to amend the Fisheries Act to prohibit dumping raw sewage into waterways that fish live in. That includes just about every waterway in Canada. This should be a “no brainer” in government proceedings.
Reviewed in February of this year, bill C269 was introduced by the conservative government to amend the current Fisheries Act due to the current and increasingly popular practice of dumping raw sewage into our waterways. Word of mouth is that the current Liberal government plans to vote the amendment down. Why? Most likely because it was introduced by the Conservatives.
Changes to the Fisheries Act
deleterious substance means
(a) any substance that, if added to any water, would degrade or alter or form part of a process of degradation or alteration of the quality of that water so that it is rendered or is likely to be rendered deleterious to fish or fish habitat or to the use by man of fish that frequent that water, or
(b) any water that contains a substance in such quantity or concentration, or that has been so treated, processed or changed, by heat or other means, from a natural state that it would, if added to any other water, degrade or alter or form part of a process of degradation or alteration of the quality of that water so that it is rendered or is likely to be rendered deleterious to fish or fish habitat or to the use by man of fish that frequent that water,
and without limiting the generality of the foregoing includes
(c) any substance or class of substances prescribed pursuant to paragraph (2)(a),
(d) any water that contains any substance or class of substances in a quantity or concentration that is equal to or in excess of a quantity or concentration prescribed in respect of that substance or class of substances pursuant to paragraph (2)(b), and
(e) any water that has been subjected to a treatment, process or change prescribed pursuant to paragraph (2)(c); (substance nocive)
Proposed Wording: within the definition deleterious substance after paragraph (b) and before paragraph (c) should be replaced with the the following:
“and, without limiting the generality of the foregoing, does not include raw sewage, but includes”
and the definition of raw sewage as follows:
raw sewage means sewage that has not yet been processed or treated to separate and remove contaminants, and includes:
(a) used water from sanitary appliances that contains human fecal matter or human urine,
(b) used water, other than the type of water described in paragraph (a), from sanitary appliances or from other appliances in a kitchen or laundry,
and (c) surface runoff and stormwater that is mixed with the type of water described in (a)
What You Can Do:
Contact your Liberal MP to tell them to vote YES on bill C269 to amend the Fisheries Act. Don’t let this critical detail slip through the bureaucratic cracks. Fix the obvious; the act should have been amended years ago to define and prohibit the dumping of raw sewage into our waterways!
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.
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.
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…
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 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.
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…
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…
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
I love sharing my love and respect for nature with my grandchildren, so this article from New York Timescaught my attention today on Earth Day.
My grandchildren are at the age where their brains are like sponges. They soak up (and enjoy, I hope) all the nature I throw at them…
Both of my granddaughters love to help me in my gardens, both are great little workers. Planting seeds in anticipation of gardening season and even getting dirty by digging in the dirt is becoming a hobby for them. The eldest has even helped me design a garden for her mother.
My eldest grandson is four, he loves the great outdoors. On our most recent “adventure” we checked out a local pond for tadpoles and fish to enhance my backyard pond. I tried to explain to him that his wiggly friends were still hiding in the mud waiting for the water to warm up, but he was still keen to try…
He is also a bug lover, upturning all the stones (even the stepping stones I installed so he won’t trample my plantings) and statues in my garden looking for their hiding spots. He hit pay dirt on his recent visit…
My second youngest grandson will be two years old this summer. He loves to mimic his big brother (the grandson mentioned above) so it won’t be long before he too shows interest in nature.
My youngest grandson,a pandemic baby, just turned a year old. Not quite walking yet, he does love to look out the windows at the birds and even the wind blowing in the trees. I look forward to the day he toddles around the garden, following his big sister.
The best way to celebrate Earth Day? Share your love of and respect for nature!
Cottage season is coming, fast. With increased COVID numbers and resulting restrictions, it cannot come too soon. Isolating at the lake is something we were grateful for last summer, although spending time there is always a relaxing, “unplugged” experience, regardless of what is happening around the world.
Ice on the Lake
A few weeks ago we visited Palmerston Lake to check on our cottage. We took our four year old uber-adventurous grandson with us to show him what the place looks like in winter. He was thrilled to walk on the ice and climb on the frozen pile of leaves. He was disappointed however, that the snakes and frogs were still sleeping…
This Easter weekend, less than three weeks later, we visited again to begin the annual spring cleanup. The grandson stayed home to enjoy Easter festivities, but I couldn’t help reflecting on how much he would love to see the ice breaking up.
It always amazes me how quickly the ice leaves the lake every spring. The property is now snow-free even though we had to park on the road and wade through the snow last visit. By next week the ice will be totally gone!
Spring Cottage Chores
Even though we rake up most leaves in the fall at the end of each season, there are always some that are still clinging to the trees as we are closing up. That means there are still lots to rake up in the spring too.
That’s the downside of a heavily treed lot. The advantage of course, is the natural beauty and shade these trees provide in the summer months.
We use plastic bags saved from new mattresses to collect and transport the leaves to the huge leaf pile. These bags make the chore much easier, and fold up for storage between uses. Over the season the leaves break down, providing soil amendment for garden areas.
Unfortunately, a cold north wind was blowing off the lake during this visit, much to the annoyance of my arthritic hips. I paid for that in pain on return to the city. Once the cold gets in my bones, the ache is hard to dispel.
Gypsy Moth Damage
Last year I told you about the infestation of gypsy moths at the lake. Apparently it was a record year for them in Eastern Ontario, affecting not only deciduous trees but evergreens too.
We have been praying that our trees will survive this onslaught. While the deciduous trees don’t appear to suffer long term, (their leaves return each year) the growth of the evergreens (spruce and pines) is much slower. The needles take much longer to regrow, if they do at all.
I hesitate to cut the damaged tops off these pines and spruce as that would alter the natural shape of the trees, making them bushier and rounder at the bottom. Instead we will wait to see how much regrowth they put out this season.
COVID Affecting Cottage and Campsite Rentals
Last summer Canadians stayed close to home, visiting local cottages and campgrounds more than ever before. We were no exception. With the heat wave we experienced it was a no brainer to isolate at our family cottage. While visitors outside our immediate family were not invited, we managed to get our sons’ families to join us, albeit separately.
This season promises to be even busier for cottage and campsite rentals as we head into a (possible) second summer of isolation restrictions. I’ve heard that campsites are booking up fastas families know to expect availability shortages this summer. If you haven’t already, you might want to get on it soon!
As spring weather warms us up, we relish the fact that cottage season is coming!