Thursday, June 28, 2007


I usually don't see the first fireflies until mid-July (or a little earlier), but last night, I saw the first ones of the season! They're so pretty, bobbing along in the mists around the swamp. Such a lovely scene. :)

Cats - with us for 130,000 years???!!!

Woah! The last I heard, it was believed the cat had been domesticated for about 9,500 years, but now, scientists have traced the modern cats' genetic lineage, and it looks like it broke off from its wild ancestors about 130,000 years ago! That's crazy! Wow. And, it turns out that the pet cat comes from the Middle East - not from wild cats in other regions, as was also believed. Neat-o! What they can't do with genetics testing these days - it's a really interesting time to be alive! We're learning so much, about where we came from, and where we're going. :)

Read the full article here, on the BBC.

Red Admiral

This little butterfly was sitting on the side of the road during Casey's walk today - I think he maybe was recently born, because he was just sitting there, airing out his wings. As we passed, he flew away - to the other side of the road, where we passed him again on our way back. :) Pretty little guy!

Read more about the Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta) here.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Peepers again...

I guess the trust level with him and Casey is doin' just fine...

I seem to be the only one able to go into the backyard without scaring Peepers, as long as I stay in the garden area, and don't try to approach him. While I was weeding my garden, I heard this plaintive little "mew"...then nothing...then a few more little "mews". Turns out Peepers has an adorable little kitten meow--he was moving towards the back door, mewing at whoever was on the other side of the glass. I assumed it was Dave, but when I came back into the house (around the front way) I saw no one in the kitchen but Casey. She had been by the back door, watching for me, and keeping an eye on Peepers. So Peepers was meowing at Casey, in a very friendly, "Hi, how are you, I like you" sort of way. So they're just fine. Peepers forgives Casey for barking at him, and trying to herd him yesterday.

How sweet!

Early Summer in the Swampland

Another lovely flower season is opening in the wetlands...

This wild iris blooms all over the place here, such a lovely and unusual flower to see growing wild.

And daisies, daisies, daises everywhere! So bright and fresh looking!

These roses grow wild all over Nova Scotia (and the rosehips from it were an important source of Vitamin C for early settlers - maybe they learned that from the Natives, I'm not sure...they probably did though). They smell lovely, and vary slightly from lighter to darker pink. I took a big whiff of this rose, and when I pulled back, I noticed the little white spider sitting there - *shudder*. Worst yet, he started to move his front pincers at me, like I had been threatening him with my nose. Don't worry dude, if I had known you were there, I would seriously have not gone near you! :D

Peepers update

Thank goodness, Peepers came back this morning - it seems Casey's goofiness wasn't enough to keep him away. (We're paranoid about this sort of thing, ever since Mr. Black snuck outside, panicked, and took off into the woods, never to be seen again. Dear Mr. Black... *sigh*).

Anyway, Peepers is back. Now we can work on getting the trust level with him higher.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Lots of doin's a goin'...

We went out to do our laundry at the laundrymat (we have a dryer, but no washer) and boy, did we see a lot of cool stuff!

There were horses in the horse field (with a big sign that says not to feed them) - I've seen the field many times, but rarely see horses in it. There was even a baby horse (a foal) there, a pretty palamino patterned one. So cute! I wonder if his or her's birth was on MareStare (warning: a highly addictive site! Lots of fun, very educational - but can be sad when things go wrong. More often though, things go right, and it's really special and wonderful.)

Then, we saw a hedgehog poke his head out of the tall grasses lining the highway - he took one look at our car, freaked out and started to turn around back into the woods. Good move, little guy! I've seen far, far too many of his kind end up as roadkill, sadly - I've never actually seen a live one in person before. He had really sweet, tiny black glittering eyes, and was dark brown/almost black. Small too, he must be young. What a cutie!

On the way back, we saw a white stretch limo driving by - I said, "Oh, must be prom night!" And, as if to prove the point, we saw a young man in a tux driving a very expensive car, picking up a couple of lovely young ladies dressed in beautiful ball gowns outside of the grocery store. Definitely prom! I guess pouffy is back in, I think the fashion had been long, slinky dresses for a time, but pretty ball gowns with big pouffy skirts seem to be back. Very cute! We saw another young man in a tux inside the grocery store, looking VERY nervous, and pacing around - must have been waiting for his date to arrive. CUTE!

The only not-cute part came at the end of our outing, while I was hanging some towels outside to dry. Our little grey outdoor cat (Peepers) got the fright of his life as Casey came barrelling around the corner - Casey was so excited to see the little guy close up that she tried to herd him, and he took off, and she ran after him. She refused to come back when called, so she's in the doghouse (figuratively speaking) right now. Hopefully the little guy comes back, we've tried so hard to get his trust, but Casey got outside while we were bringing laundry in from the car. *sigh*. Hope he comes back soon.

Otherwise, lots of interesting things to see out there today!

Songbird Decline

Sad news on the environmental front I read this morning: I had heard that the songbird population is declining, in no small part due to massive use of pesticides by modern mass-agriculture techniques, loss of habitat, and, I've heard, urban noise (drowning out the mating songs of birds) - but I had no idea that some species of birds have dropped off by over 70% over the last 40 years. Really shocking! Songbirds are important sources of bug control, and of course, are a beautiful addition to the background soundtrack of life. :)

While most of us don't run mega-farms, there are things you can do.

Choose gardens over backyard patios: The article I read today says that backyard patios replacing gardens has actually affected bird populations. So, if you do have a choice, choose to have a garden, to provide seeds and places for bugs to live. (Eg: we have a lot of Jerusalem Artichoke around the property, and bugs LOVE it! All types of bugs, none of which I could actually identify, none of which bite people (which is good) - they don't eat the plant, they just love to sit on it in the sun. It's like a bird smorgasbord!). Perennial gardens (plants that survive the winters and come back every spring) don't take too much work - the plants need to be divided every few years, but that's about it.

Don't use pesticides. That includes stuff like Round-Up, etc. Anything that says it'll kill weeds with one application, that sort of thing. Keep in mind: it is poison, and after it poisons the weed, where does the poison go? It doesn't just disappear. It might not seem bad ("I only used a little") but if EVERYONE does it, that all adds up to a LOT of poisons. Use as little as possible - or don't use them at all.

Buy local produce. Support local farmers when you can, especially those that grow food organically (without pesticides). Small farms are dwindling in number, as the much larger, mega-farms take over (which tend to use mega-quantities of pesticides). Purchasing your veggies and meats from local, smaller sources help keep them in business, to help them survive in what is a very tough line of work. Organic farming is even tougher, as it has very stringent requirements to get to use the name "organic", which are expensive to implement and maintain. Plus, natural fertilizers and pest deterrents tend to be more expensive (especially to use on land the size of a farm). But they're worth it! A few extra cents at the grocery store is all we have to pay to help these farmers to survive and help the planet stay healthy.

Remember, every little bit helps. It truly does!

Read the article on the CBC here.

Images of the 10 most at risk are here.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

My head hurts...

Oh man. I learned a LOT, but my head hurts. I think I'm mostly done messing with the look of the blog for now. I think. :) It's an easy enough changeover if you don't want to do anything fancy, but if you want to really personalize it, it requires a lot of tweaking.

I may still mess around with it a bit, but I should take a break from this...

Friday, June 22, 2007

Upgrading this blog

I'm going to update my version of Blogger, to the "latest and greatest". :) This might make things look funky here for a bit, but I will be working on it 'till it gets fixed.

Wish me luck!


Apparently, I'm not the only one who says we have to give up on fighting weeds with pesticides. In fact, we might learn to like some weeds! Sabrina Saccoccio wrote a great article on dandelions, the hard-to-kill flowers that brighten up yards all over North America...whether we want them to or not! The article gives lots of interesting info on the history of this plant, ideas for using the dandelion as foodstuff (tea, salads, even as a pickle!), and links to environmentally safe ways to get rid of weeds. An engaging read!

While I do let the dandelions run free in our yard, I'm still working diligently to rip them and other weeds out of my vegetable garden - and getting bitten to death by the bugs while I'm at it! :)

Swallowtail butterfly?

I see this little guy around occasionally, but I haven't been able to get a pic of him until today - really pretty, isn't he? Enjoying the intermittent sunshine and getting some pollen from our dandelions...

I believe it's a swallowtail butterfly, but I'm no expert on butterflies. :D

EDIT: According to "The Butterflies of Nova Scotia", it is the Canadian Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio canadensis) - apparently we have our own subspecies of Swallowtail. Neat!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Baby Raccoon - or at least a young one!

He's not teeny-tiny, but he is pretty small compared to the guys we get late at night! He was the size of a large housecat, but much much rounder!

What a cute little guy, with his cute little mask! He's out awfully early -- they're rarely seen out in daylight -- I guess he wanted to make sure he got some food before the adults came and ate it all! The fact that the food is meant for the birds seems to be lost on them entirely! :D We do put out a little more bread now that we know the raccoons come, though... Just a little!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Lovely day on the Passage

It was a lovely day at Eastern Passage, part of Halifax Harbour. This section turns into a sort of mud flats during low tide, and lots of people were out and about enjoying the brief sunshine, and the lovely smell of the sea (*not* the smell of the Harbour, which is unfortunately very polluted. We're working on cleaning it up though!) :D

The back deck of Boondocks (where we had my Dad's Father's Day dinner), looking out over the Passage.

Did I have a good time! You bet!

Happy Father's Day to all Dads out there!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Lilacs & BeanDreams

Some lovely white lilacs growing nearby - aside from Mayflowers, I think Lilacs are my favorite scent! Such a heady perfume!

I'm also glad to report that my second planting of beans is starting to come up today (I had to replant because of such a rainy spring rotting the first batch). Everybody needs more sun though, they're a little behind where they ought to be...

Read more on my BeanDreams 2007 page...

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Lily of the Valley

I got a few of these plants almost 10 years ago from my best friend, and they have since grown and spread all over, making a gorgeous display in the late spring. They're so beautiful and delicate! And I wish I could share the scent with you all, it is SO pretty - a lovely perfume, as only spring-blooming flowers seem to have.

Baby Falcons!

From the CBC: "Since 1989, a pair of endangered Peregrine Falcons has been nesting on the Radisson Hotel in downtown Winnipeg. In 2006, CBC in Manitoba, Shaw and the Peregrine Falcon Recovery Project (Manitoba) collaborated to provide Manitobans with the opportunity to observe each year’s family of Peregrines on the Falcon Cam."

What a fun webcam! Earlier, the baby falcons were huddled in a pile, sleeping. Except for one guy, he just couldn't get comfortable, and kept moving and stretching, waking the whole pile. :) Just now, mom was by with some food, and fed the little guys. Extremely cute!

Have a watch, it's a good time!


Monday, June 04, 2007

It's Environment Week in Canada!

It's a chance to focus (more) on the impact we have on the environment in which we live.

[start rant about pesticides]
It's important to remember: we're not in a competition against nature! It's not about being in a battle against lawn weeds by spraying pesticides on them, so we can have a completely homogeneous green lawn. If you don't spray the weeds, and let them go to seed, you'll see common birds like sparrows and juncos eating those seeds. (Until I paid attention, I didn't know they did that!) I was really glad we hadn't sprayed the lawn or the weeds, as if we had, those poisons would have gone into the birds (and that's only one of the many problems affecting songbirds, check out the book Silence of the Songbirds: How We Are Losing the World's Songbirds and What We Can Do to Save Them for more information).

I just get upset sometimes when I see commercials for pesticide products showing electric green lawns, treating weeds like they're some sort of disease we have to eliminate, at the cost of all the life that lives in our lawns, like earthworms and birds).
[end rant] :)

On to more positive things - as I mentioned, this is Canadian Environment Week, with lots of things to do to try and reduce pollution and such. The Commuter Challenge (June 3-9) hopes to get people thinking of public transportation and other options. Next time you're driving to work, check out how many people on the road with you are driving alone in their vehicle. Chances are, there are a LOT of them. Maybe you're one of them? So maybe you could start a carpool at work - never feel that you're just one person, and you can't make a difference! Every little bit helps!

Check out the website for all the other events, and your local news for any local events!

Link: Canadian Environment Week, June 3-9, 2007

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Lovely Day for Flowers

A lot of nice sunshine today - got out and gave some organic fertilizer to my growing plants, hopefully that'll give them a nice little growing boost. Also got out to do some photography, got some nice shots of flowers blooming their way into the summer months.

I love these gorgeous wildflowers - forget-me-nots have such beautiful, delicate little blossoms. They are a purpley-pink when they first open up, and turn this lovely bright blue after a time. So cheerful looking!

Not many apple blossoms out yet, but I found these guys, flowering ahead of their brothers - so pretty!

Nova Scotia's official berry, the blueberry, covered with blossoms - soon to be covered with delicious sweet blueberries! Yum!

Friday, June 01, 2007

Spectral Moon

Got a nice shot of the moon last night - eerie clouds, and a bright star (maybe a planet?) add to the mysterious feeling...