Easing into Monday

Monday, 17 May 2021

(Cover photo – Dukes: do I smell ice cream? Me: slurp…no.)

Spring is a busy time at work. I have a big project coming my way this week which will keep me occupied until the end of the month. All my current projects will be put on hold until this one is out of the way, so June is looking busy too. I’d rather be busy than have nothing to do.

Now comes the time to test what I’ve learned the past three weeks during the Shingles break. Take time for me to: do things I enjoy doing; exercise; spend time in nature; relax; don’t stress; eat well…

I have a habit…strike that. I had a habit of working long hours, skipping breaks and lunch so I can focus on the project. When I get in the creative zone and things are going well, I don’t want to walk away from that moment because it might take me a long time to get it back. So, like the energizer bunny, I would keep going until it’s done or I couldn’t physically continue. I realize it’s not the most healthy way to work and I’m going to find a way to get in the zone and still have time for health breaks. It’s about finding the balance. And baby steps.

During my lunch break today, I got my hands into some garden soil to fill paper pots. It was relaxing and enjoyable and difficult to pull myself away from it to go back to work! After supper I spent some quiet time transplanting Canterbury bells. One peat pot had thirteen seedlings which I transplanted into the paper pots. I had three more peat pots with seedlings and was wondering if there wasn’t a better way.

One of the paper pots ripped open, resulting in a mound of soil on the table. I grabbed a small box to brush the soil into, then would empty it into the bigger bin of soil. As I walked to the bigger bin, I had the thought, if I line the bottom of this box with newspaper, then add soil, I could transplant the seedlings into this box. Each plant would have enough room to grow and, when they reach an ideal height, I can either plant the box in the garden, or carefully remove each plant to sow in the garden. So I did just that and it’s great! I’m looking for another small box to transplant the rest of the Canterbury bells.

I purchased a cucumber plant at a local garden centre last week. There are four plants in the container and I must say, it’s seen better days. I think it got hit with frost, either at the garden centre, or while I had it here. I’m hoping by transplanting each plant to it’s own pot they will perk up. I have been having a hard time getting cucumbers to grow this season. The winter seedlings I started in March did well until the raccoon knocked the shelving unit over. They haven’t come back from that tumble. I’m going to try starting another batch and also try direct sowing. What will be, will be!

My seedlings spent their first night outside last night. They thrived! I was so pleased to see the sunflowers standing straight and tall. All week they’ve been flopping over. Same with the broccoli and cauliflower. They seem to like the fresh air.

What an amazing weekend!

Sunday, 16 May 2021

Sunshine and nature. A sure-fire way to a happy day. I had lots of both this weekend and my soul is overjoyed!

To cap things off, we had an awesome thunderstorm that brought heavy rain, gusty winds and hail. The temperature dropped at least 5 degrees! I am every grateful for bringing my plants in, under the covered portion of the veranda, a half hour before the main event got here. I didn’t even realize it was on the way. We were planning on heading into town and I didn’t want to leave the plants out, in the event a heavy rain came. Phew!

I took a few videos of the storm:

Heavy rain

It was a productive day for me. I decided to take it easy and, in doing so, got crafty! When I ordered my seeds back in the winter, I ordered a package of wood pot labels. At the time I thought they could be reused over and over. But, I was using a sharpie to mark the name of the plant and the date of planting… not so usable now! Not to mention I was going through them pretty quickly. I started cutting up milk cartons and using them as labels. They work well but also are not reusable as they get moist over time and start to breakdown. The good thing with them, though, is they are recyclable.

I saw on YouTube where a woman painted wood sticks with chalkboard paint, then used chalk markers to write on it. The marker didn’t come off in the rain, and it was removable with a “magic” eraser. I decided to give it a try.

Then came the potato containers. I wanted something firmer than the seed bags to grow the potatoes in. I decided to try the cat litter containers. The only litter my cats will use comes in a plastic container. I use them for so many things like storing bird seed and my pine cones! But they’re not food grade so I can’t grow my potatoes in them. But I can put my seed bag, filled with soil, inside. This will make the bag more stable…at least I hope so. I cleaned the containers with vinegar and water, air dried them in the sun, then drilled holes in the bottoms. I then used the chalkboard paint to spruce them up. They look a lot better without the kitty litter label!

I still had lots of energy so decided to get some pots ready for transplanting. I’m running out of pots and have lots of seedlings to transplant.

Seedlings that need to be transplanted

In just one of those little squares, I counted 14 plants… That’s a lot of pots I’m going to need! I started with the beer glasses I picked up at Dollarama. Holes needed to be cut out of the bottoms of each cup. Once that was done, I decided to paint a strip with the chalkboard paint so I can label the cup instead of using a label inside the pot. I finished the red cups, which took up more space that I had, then the wind picked up, blowing them around the veranda. So I left the blue cups as is, but then tried writing on them with the chalk markers and it works fine.

There was a nap and a trip to town in here somewhere which gave me more energy and I was ready to get back to it. My trip to town was a curbside pickup at Canadian Tire. I purchased a Thermacell mosquito repellant and couldn’t wait to try it out. I got it going, put on some tunes and started making paper pots. I wanted small pots so needed a small bottle to roll them with. I found the perfect bottle…a small bottle of Bailey’s Irish Cream!

About fifteen paper pots in, I opened the bottle of Baily’s… my sister opened a can of Glutenberg and kept me company via text. It was an enjoyable way to pass a Sunday afternoon. I made 61 paper pots and hardly noticed as I was busy chatting with my sister.

The thing I like best about using paper pots is they go right in the ground, or pot. There’s no more transplanting involved. Some plants, like Bottle House Gourds, like limited contact, so this a great solution. The thing I like least about using paper pots is they get moist when watered and cannot be handled. You’ve got to find a container that will hold them upright and give them support for as long as you have them growing. But, paper pots are free and there’s no waste from them, so for now I’m going to use them.

BTW, I’m very impressed with the mosquito repellant. No mosquitos at all while I had it going!!!

It was a peaceful evening. As the sun set, Robin began it’s nightly serenade. The geese came up from the river with their babies. Looks like there’s six. This is the first time this year they’re showing up with the babies! The turkey’s were visiting too and I saw a bald eagle fly by twice. And the hummingbird is using the new feeder. What a day!

Well now, wasn’t that a grand day!

Saturday, 15 May 2021

Today was the day I’ve been looking forward to since last Fall when the cold and snow arrived. A warm day with a breeze – to keep the black flies and mosquitoes away – and big fluffy clouds floating by.

A stand-up paddle boarder paddled by on the river. That was a first. Not long after, a small motor boat filled with young people went by. There hasn’t been that much action on the old river since I was a teenager playing in our boat. It was nice to see. This evening a neighbour across the field was having a party, playing loud calypso music. It made me think of the Caribbean islands I’ve visited. Mom joined me on the veranda to listen and then she started dancing, so I joined in. Dancing under the sparkling stars with the waxing crescent moon shining bright.

I spent a good part of the day transplanting and planting. I transplanted three fuchsia plants into a hanging basket and two more into a large pot. Then I tackled the tray of Hyssop which was one of my winter sowing experiments. I separated thirty-two tiny seedlings and ended up with fourteen containers! This was good practice for patience 😉

At some point during the day, I realized I didn’t have any Malva Zebrina’s started. I’ve been growing them for several years and love how hardy and beautiful they are. A quick search through my old seed envelopes and I found them. There were only a handful of seeds left but should be enough to grow a pot full of beautiful cheery flowers.

The last thing I planted today was a potato. Two actually. Two russet potatoes. I planted them in an old seed bag, another experiment. I’ve seen countless videos on this method, as well as using large containers, with much success. My plan is to grow all of my potatoes this way. Can’t wait to see how it works out!

We had an evening grosbeak visit us today. She was shy at first, flying away every time I stepped out onto the veranda, but eventually she got closer, especially when we were quietly sitting still for a bit. A pileated woodpecker dropped by for a visit as well. We had a Baltimore Oriole a few days ago but I haven’t seen or heard it since.

I went for a walk around the yard at sunset and found myself at the box garden, checking on my garlic. It needed a good weeding so I started pulling weeds and noticed several large dandelions and creeping Charlie. I feel like God started my medicinal herb garden for me 😉

I have been wanting to dig up dandelion roots to dry for a tea but haven’t gotten around to it yet. I grabbed ahold of the plant and pulled. It came out with such ease! Much better than having to dig it out with a shovel. I haven’t finished researching creeping Charlie so wasn’t sure what part of the plant I should harvest, so pulled some of the greenery for now. I washed the dandelion leaves, as well as Charlie, cut up the dandelion roots and placed everything in the screen to dry.

The dandelion leaves looked so good, I put a few leaves away for tomorrow’s green smoothie.

A few more photos from the day.

Going where the wind blows us

Friday, 14 May 2021

My sweet Dukes enjoying the long grass.

For some reason, I found myself browsing through the Kijiji app this afternoon. I had an inclination to buy glass jars, primarily for storing dried herbs. I had been thinking about Mason jars, wondering where I could get a bunch for a descent price. There was a time you could buy a case of jars, for canning and preserving, for next to nothing. But demand has driven the cost up a bit more than I’d like to pay. I felt the urge to browse Kijiji so I did just that, and wouldn’t you know, there were lots of ads for Mason jars. Unfortunately, they were on the Ontario side, which is currently locked down except for essential reasons. I’m pretty confident picking up jars for drying my herbs is not essential.

I kept scrolling. Then I came across an ad for Ikea jars, the same kind I’m already using for my dried herbs. Six 1.8 L and eight 1 L jars for only $30. And, the best part, the seller lives five minutes from my house.

After supper we went for a drive to pick-up the jars. I’ve lived in this area for most of my life and there are housing developments that sprang up over the years that I had no idea even existed. The seller lives in one such area. After collecting the jars, we decided to explore, driving through the neighbourhood. When we finished one neighbourhood, we drove to the next. I was flabbergasted at all of the houses. Although, this explains the rise in traffic over the years. I often wondered where everyone was coming from and just assumed it was back in the lakes, but now I know there are several small communities just over yonder.

Once we finished exploring Perkins, we headed to McDonald’s for ice cream, us, and half of the town! The line-up was quite long but they got us through in good time. We drove over to the cenotaph, parked, and ate our ice cream, taking in the lovely tree blossoms. Then we just went wherever we felt pulled to go, or as I like to say, where the wind blew us.

Cherry blossoms on my Dad’s cherry tree.

I enjoy evenings like this. Warm and sunny. Exploring old town Gatineau. Remembering what used to be and who used to live where. My window was down, I was enjoying the scents, the breeze and the sounds. I smiled at people who were out walking. They smiled back. It was encouraging seeing people gathering in their backyards on a summerish Friday night; walking their dogs on the quiet streets; or chatting with a neighbour.

Maybe there is light at this long Covid tunnel.