Saturday, October 29, 2016

Friday's Hunt v 2.18

It's time for Friday's Hunt again!  I have a lot to blog about, but so little time due to work contracts these days.  Really hoping to get back to more regular posts soon, rather than just once a week.  As usual, for Friday's Hunt, we have 3 prompts from Teresa at Eden Hills:  Starts with R, Week's Favourite, and Black or Orange.

Starts with R
I was lucky enough to have a final rose open in the garden this week.  The garden is mostly over, and frost has already taken many of the tender plants.  The hardy roses are hanging in there, but I am sure this will be the last bloom.

Bonus "R" item is red berries, which are also still hanging on in my woodland areas.

Week's Favourite
My favourite picture this week was this purple finch, who was picking up seeds under the bird feeder. I didn't see many finches this summer, but I'm glad to see them now!

This week we finally gave in, and started heating the house.  I think it was pretty stoic of us to get to the end of October with no heat, given the fact that we are having regular frosts at night these days. This new home we have is heated with a wood stove, which is located in the basement.  Neither of us have a great deal of experience with wood heat, but we are learning quickly.  The wood stove, as you can see, is black.

It's an unusual stove design, invented in Canada, but now owned by a US-based company.  You can see the website here:  It is an extremely efficient stove that burns from the bottom, and you load it from the top.  Due to the design, smoke doesn't pour out when you open the top door.  It's quite different from other stoves, but we are impressed with its performance.

The stove accommodates wood, wood pellets, corn stalks, or other biofuels.  It's very versatile.  It is doing a very good job at heating the house, which it does by a passive heat design - there are no blowers - just open ducts and a heat recovery system.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Friday's Hunt v 2.17

Almost didn't make it under the time limit this week.  Again, it's been a busy week and I was away this past weekend at a yarn spinning retreat.  I just got home, and here's my Friday's Hunt post, to keep myself going on the meme hosted by Eden Hills!  The three prompts for this week are "Starts with Q," "Week's Favourite" and "Fall or Spring."

Starts with Q
As I mentioned, I was at the Maritime Spinners' Retreat this weekend, and I had a great time connecting with fellow spinners and knitters.  We were able to participate in a fibre challenge by spinning 4 oz of merino fibre any way we wanted, and then creating a project with the yarn we had spun.  I needed to make something QUICK because I received my fibre quite late, and then had very little time to get it finished.  Spinning coiled yarn is fairly quick, but it also makes a short amount of yardage due to the structure of the yarn.  Short yardage meant a smaller project, and thus a quicker project!  I decided to use my rigid heddle loom to weave the coiled yarn into a short runner or even a neck scarf, just to emphasize the nature of the coiled yarn.  So, this was my quick project.  I'm hoping to do a blog post soon showing all the other projects made with the same fibre.

I like the way it turned out - it makes me think of ocean waves or ripples in a pond.  I might use the woven fabric to make something else eventually, when I have more time.

Week's Favourite
While in PEI for the retreat, I visited McAusland's Woollen Mill, where they make yarn as well as a lovely blankets.  The mill was built in 1868.  It was originally a lumber mill and then became a wool mill.  One of my favourite pictures is this shot showing bobbins of maroon coloured 3-ply yarn which are waiting to be skeined.  I love the contrast of the maroon and the steel and the wood of the empty bobbin.

Here's a bonus shot of the skeining machine where those bobbins are headed next!

Since I'm in the northern hemisphere, it's definitely fall for me!  Here's a picture of a young maple on our slope in the front of the house.  I do love the fall colours!  I had hoped to take some nice fall pictures at the retreat but it rained buckets all weekend - not very conducive to pictures outside.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Friday's Hunt v 2.16

I'm late again with Friday's Hunt.  I almost didn't get to it this week - just super busy!  This is going to be a quick one!

As usual, we have three prompts provided by Eden Hills:  Starts with P, Week's Favourite, and Whole.

Starts with P
I am a pajama kind of girl.  I love pajamas - especially warm, fuzzy, fluffy ones.  It's that time of year when I get out the warmer pajamas because the temperatures are dipping down at night and we've already had a few frosts.  Sometimes, I even work in my pajamas, because they're comfortable, and because I work from home, so nobody minds!

I was at Walmart recently (I really dislike shopping at Walmart because I don't like their business practices and ethics, but I do make the occasional foray there for a certain brand of cappuccino mix that I can't buy at any other store).  I do not normally buy clothing at Walmart, but these pajamas were there and...well, I could not resist.  So, for the letter P, I give you me, in my new raccoon pajamas, sort of pretending to be a raccoon.  They even have a tail, and you can see the raccoon face on the hood, complete with ears!

Really, I love them!  They are so warm and cozy!

Week's Favourite
I have been so busy this week that I haven't taken many pictures.  I took this one on Monday when I took the pictures of the tree that fell down.  The fall colours are really beautiful now.  This picture is one of my burning bushes (Euonymus alatus) that has turned a gorgeous shade of deep reddish-pink, and there were some yellow birch leaves caught in spider webs that really contrasted with the red.  I thought it made a lovely shot.

Here's a bonus shot of the driveway with fall colours so you can see how it looks now.

I was really stumped for this one, especially with not having taken many pictures this week and being so busy with work - my creative ideas are at a bit of a standstill.  Marc brought home more pallets from work this week.  He has been taking them apart to get wood to build the inside walls of his workshop.  All I can think of for "whole" is that we have a WHOLE LOT of pallets right now, as well as barn boards that he collected from an old shed!  And pallets start with P, too.  Double points!

 There are pallets against the house as shown above, and others in separate piles.

There are also some nice organized piles of pallet boards from those already taken apart.  That is a WHOLE LOT of wood!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Wind Casualty

My work has been really busy lately, and I've been missing my regular bird and plant walks around the garden.  Today I decided to take one of those walks, even though I felt like I didn't have time.  I was pleased to be back from my trip and able to feed the chickadees again.  I noticed a lot of leaves and small branches on the ground as I began walking.  We had some extremely strong winds, and other parts of the Maritime provinces have been very badly damaged by the storm that was the tail end of Hurricane Matthew passing by.  There were record-breaking rainfall totals in several provinces and many power outages.  New Brunswick fared better than Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, but we still had the damaging winds and fairly heavy rain.  I wandered around to the front yard and discovered, much to my surprise, that we had a tree fall down during the night!

The tree was an old spruce that was positioned along the lower edge of our driveway.  When it fell, it broke with about 2 or 3 feet of stump left in the ground.

The tree fell outwards, towards the road, and spans between the road and the bottom curve of our driveway.  The wood doesn't look rotten, so I think it was just the heavy winds combined with the height of the tree.

It's probably a 75 foot long tree, or thereabouts.  These tall spruce have branches without many needles along most of their length, with the green and vibrant part right up at the top where it gets the sunlight.  I wonder if that also makes them a bit top-heavy.

I noticed that it also took down a large bough from a pine tree in its fall.  Here you can see the top (green) part of the spruce pointing to the left, and the pine bough underneath it.

When he came home after work, Marc was able to help me move the pine bough and the top part of the downed tree into the goat and sheep area, so that they could snack on the pine and spruce needles, which they love to eat!  They also eat the lichen on the branches.  Now there is a bit of an open patch where the sunlight comes through - no doubt it will lead to a new tree being able to grow up into the space that has been left.

I was sad to see that we'd lost this tree, but it's part of the natural cycle of woodlands, and many creatures will benefit from the old wood as it decays.   We will have to cut up some of the largest portions and move them, but some of the branches and smaller pieces will stay on the ground.  Here's a young spruce just starting out in the area that the old one was shading - maybe this one will be the next towering tree!

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Friday's Hunt, v 2.15

It's time for Friday's Hunt again! Except it's now Sunday!  That's because this week, I had a very busy week (again!) and I had to travel to Las Vegas for a work conference from Wednesday through Saturday.  I am tired and there is a lot on my "to do" list, so this will be relatively brief.

This week we have the usual 3 prompts:  Starts with O, Week's Favourite, and Eyes.

Starts with O
This week, O is for Opulence.  Las Vegas is all about opulence, excess, and extravagance.  I'm really not a fan of the place - at least not "the strip" as it is called, and the casino-based culture.  In some ways, it is an exciting place, with much to see and do, but it's all done in an "over-the-top" kind of way.  It is a kind of oasis of wealth and extremism in the midst of a parched land.  On the outskirts of the strip, on the way to the airport, you see a lot of poverty and run-down buildings and streets.  It's such a contrast to the glitter and glamour of the Vegas strip.

There's a lot of money grabbing going on as well.  For example, you can't get room service (at least, not at the Excalibur hotel) except between 6 am and 2 pm.  So, if you want supper in your room, you have to go out and find it and bring it back, which means you have to walk through vast, smoke-filled casino areas just to get to a place that sells food.  It's an obvious ploy to make people put money in the machines.  I have no interest in that, so I just found it annoying.  The check-in desk at the hotel is nowhere near the main entrance, so you have to walk through a vast cavern of clanging, ringing, chiming machines just to be able to check in.  Then you have to walk through another whole area of gambling just to get to the elevators.  It's insanity.

Here's another word that starts with O:  Overjoyed (to be home again!)

Week's Favourite(s)
One thing I did really enjoy about being in Las Vegas was the plant life that I saw.  I didn't have an opportunity to explore much, but instead of walking through the hotels all the time to go between my hotel and the conference hotel, I walked outside.  Seems that most people don't do that there! Anyway, the various hotels have some interesting landscaping (much of it done with astroturf because of the lack of water).  There were many plants that I would not normally get to see, especially not growing in "the wild" so to speak.  You can't grow barrel cactus outside in New Brunswick!

Here are some favourite shots from the plants I saw in Vegas - I cannot identify them for you because I have no idea what most of them are!

A palm species!

I think this is a rosemary species - it smelled like it!

A yucca perhaps, or an agave species?  I like the little barrel cactus in front!

I had to go from my room in the Excalibur hotel to the conference in the Mandalay Bay hotel each day.  This took me past the Luxor hotel, which is a large pyramid-shaped building.  Out the front, it has a large sphinx statue, with very large blue eyes.  Here it is!