Thursday, July 31, 2008

Lobelia at length

Here is my final shot for today... I had a hard time picking a whole plant shot of the lobelia... I'm still not sure... but you get the idea... this is what the whole plant looks like and yes.. its totally surrounded by Nasturtium.
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Sage Salvia

... just liked this one... and yes.. Salvia is in the sage family... but this one has much nicer flowers than the greenleafed shrubby sage I have growing from 3 years ago... which I don't think I've seen flower at all this year.
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Gaura from the other plant

Here is the other Gaura... also cooperating today
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Squirrel Snacks

I don't know what was up with the squirrel... it was digging through the wood chips and racing around like it had just drank 3 cups of coffee. It kept chasing its tail and running in circles and bouncing off the bottoms of the tree trunks... Maybe its been eating my pickled slugs from the beer traps... qui sait?
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Lovely Leadwort

I don't think I've put up a picture of this plant yet. I actually don't know anything about it beyond its name "Leadwort" and that it will tolerate partial shade.
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Endless Echinacaea

Can you take too many pictures of echinacaea? The light falling on the flower in the center was kind of cool.
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Fairies in the Garden

I'm laughing - because currently Tori Amos is singing a cover of "Enjoy the Silence" by Depeche Mode - and while it doesn't go with the flower picture at all - its gets points for being so high school :D and I still know all the words after all these years.... my mind has crazy bits tucked away in corners I have forgotten existed. Its been a funny week for music. I must have switched up the CD in the car to something, not quite as old, but certainly some things I haven't heard in a long time... It is funny how much your taste in music can wander over the years....
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Butterfly in the Wind

I have two varieties of Gaura (from the willowherb family - related to fireweed, fucshia and willowherbs) I can't remember which one is which - one has the name "Whirling Butterfly" which describes both one being mainly white and the other being pink and white (I think its the pure white one that is the whirling butterfly variety actually). I haven't had much luck capturing the dainty and butterflylike qualities of it so far.. but today it was cooperating.
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Lobelia at Long Last

I promised pictures of the lobelia - and here is the first one. It was actually trickly to photograph - but this is probably the close up that I like the most. Related to North American native Cardinal Flower - found in boggy parts of this area or slightly north of here anyways - this lobelia I believe was a heritage variety (i.e. old fashioned and not bred into something crazy and not necessarily intended by nature - at least not recently.)
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Salvia Salvation

The salvia is starting its second round of flowering. The wicked red flowers in the background are my favourite geraniums.
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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

And the green grass grows all around, all around...

One of the hardest things to leave behind is my garden. Not because it loves me as much as the people and dog I'm leaving behind - I will miss them all certainly more than the mess of plant matter I call mine - but because I'm afraid that I'm the only one who loves the garden enough to invest time and effort it needs to keep going - especially if this wet spell passes into dryness... I have these horrid visions of crispy and wilted plants, ravaged unchecked by slugs and aphids and lily beetles (I can't really say anything about weeds.. half of what I've planted is probably considered weeds somewhere.)... So to my family who will be taking over my charges... please water the plants when they get limp - preferably in the morning - but early evening will be okay - and for goodness sake... don't use the jet setting on the hose - soaker works best for narrow beds and shower+center works bests for lots of things together like behind the cherry tree and the main bed. If things are looking munched - you can either try refilling the beer traps for the slugs or putting insect repelling soap on the leaves for everything else - just don't spray the soap on the nasturtium... it says so on the instructions on the bottle. Okay... I'll trust you - as long as you provide me with a bit of photographic proof that it is still alive... :D

Other exciting news... well. Melissa Gilbert is playing Caroline Ingalls (Ma) in a musical version of Little House on the Prairie in the Midwestern States... but it doesn't start until long after I leave - and somehow I don't think it'll travel here at any point.

There are still no spots on the sun - but August 8th is still supposed to be the best hope for viewing the Northern Lights in the near future.

Another one of the cool red and white poppies opened this morning, but by the time I got back it had been pretty much mashed by the rainstorm. However, I will have to post a picture of the Lobelia tomorrow. Its opening up nicely. We have now officially had the wettest July on record at the Airport since 1937.

Otherwise... a side from a zillion things to do and plan and think about and finish up and tidy... life is actually pretty quiet in this end of the world.
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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

My all time favourite painting

Well, I'm not sure that it looks as good on the screen as it does in real life.. but here is probably my all time favourite painting that I did.
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Late Arrivals

This African Violet plant was a gift from a close friend some years ago and I have photos of it flowering early last June - but this year it didn't flower until today (almost August) - so about 2 months later. Its in the same location, its getting about the same water - so why it is later this year I'll never know. Perhaps I should give it some food. Still... its as delightful as ever and possibly in need of a new home. Although I'm considering trying to bring it with me when I move - I just have to come up with way of doing it without killing the plant or getting dirt all over my stuff.

In other moving news, my roomate and I are trying to sort out how to get our excess luggage up north. This is proving to be much more complicated than anticipated - so while we are frustrated, we are also glad that we discovered the problem early enough to deal with it - now if only all of the agents would give us the same information and figure out how to ship our stuff efficiently withough needing to store it - then life would be good. Alternatively.. I'm not sure that it wouldn't be cheaper to drive it to Winnipeg than it would be to ship it... or even Ottawa... hopefully this will work out. I'm going to mostly pack my bags today - so I can have an idea about the weight and size of stuff before starting into talks with the air cargo folk. On the other hand, if I think of the number of times I've moved somewhere with only a dufflebag a backsack and a guitar.... then I can probably relax and figure that I'll survive regardless.
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Wildflower Wonders

Here is a slightly more all encompassing view of the wildflowers
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Stars of Hostaville

I think I might just nominate these for the coolest hosta flowers. Although it is hard to tell from the photo, they are actually quite large and they look a bit like stars.

Some other stars to be nominated:

Best Colour: Sundown Echinaea
Biggest growth: Raspberry (no shocker here)
Best comeback from near death: Serviceberry
Most popular with the bees: Catmint
Most Popular with the slugs: Lupine
Nicest leaves: Coleus
Most flowers on one plant: Mallow (zebra and pink)
Most aggressively invasive: Strawberry (we are up to 4-6 flowers now)
Most entertaining leaves: Nasturtium
Best Flowers in the Shade: Jacob's Ladder
Bushiest Plant: Lemon Balm
Most plants planted: Echinacea
Least Growth: Bunchberry
Most Eaten: Lupine
Biggest Surprise: Blood-Spattered Lily

And now back to our regularly scheduled programming...
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Monday, July 28, 2008

Wordles and Upgrade's

A few weeks ago I saw these really cool Wordle things on Reflections in the Snow-Covered Hills.

Here is one based on my last post, which honest, I didn't write just to have a post with lots of cool words in it.

In other blog related news, my brother and I are working on a plot to make it possible for me to use the snazzy new blogger templates without playing guess how CSS works - since, I have too much on my plate to spend much time mastering CSS. However, we did manage to get my cool title banner up, but as you can see its a bit of a hack job, since I haven't replaced the actual banner, just made a picture pop up above it with some help from my brother and fair bit of guesswork based on some CSS samples at this site. That said - things may or may not change in the next 2 weeks - I'm going to try hard to keep the URL the same, and hopefully we won't have a repeat of the last time we played with my blog which required me to reattach every picture I ever posted to their respective posts manually - which took probably in excess of 20 hours over several weeks and we nearly lost the whole thing (not to mention that my URL was snapped up by a BOT and I never managed to retrieve it.....) Well, hopefully this time things will go smoother and the tools at my disposal will be worth any hassle in the interim - but if I disappear off the face of the internet... I promise to claw my way back as soon as possible.


The Road From There to Here

Once upon a time, long, long ago, in an era before I had a thesis or a boyfriend or a gym membership - I used to paint small watercolours paintings. This is one of the first ones I painted, say in 1998 or 1999, on the back of a small cue card. Several years later, not to mention a small, but decent library of watercolour books later, I never managed to create more than a handful of pictures that I liked as much as this one. I guess that says something for beginners luck. I feel that the inukshuk is a very powerful and appealing symbol. To me - it represents both the journey and the landmarks that tell you whether or not you are going in the correct direction. It is associated with culture of our First Nations People - it speaks to me of their knowledge of love of the land and their own journey. I can close my eyes an picture this great stone structure standing firm through the worst of storms to perform its duty to guide them safety to their home - enduring year after year and season after season and as for myself - I have chosen a more convoluted route through life, so I'm always looking for some symbol to reassure me that my choices are sound. I know that there is more to it than that for the Inuit, and I'm looking forward to learning their vision of this symbol - but this is what it says to me.

I was flipping through my artwork when I was packing to move - and I find it definately reassuring that moving north in the right direction. Why else would have I painted so many pictures of inukshuks (ooh.. that isn't the right plural is it?), northern lights and igloos? (Granted the other half of my pictures feature mountains and trees) Of the five of my paintings currently hanging up - one is an inukshuk beside a cold looking river with mountains and a sunset in the back ground, 2 feature a lone pine tree on a small island - one with a sunset in the background and the other with the northern lights, 1 is a picture of a lone snag in a clear cut (from my tree planting days) and the last is an individual in parka with a sled in the winter with assorted spruce trees and the northern lights. So, you get the picture (ooh... bad pun) - my artwork says I'm finally following my heart to the place that my eyes and soul long for...

When I lived in Kashechewan, I used to love teaching art to my Grade 8's. Art was often a double period on Friday afternoons - where everyone was usually calm and relaxed and having fun and, if I do say so myself, we did some cool stuff. As for me, after school ended, then my art would begin. I'd head home and continue painting while I cooked supper. Sometimes - it was the start of the plan for the next week, but often I just painted or drew whatever called to me and it helped me unwind after a long and busy week of teaching. I miss the meditativeness of painting. Most of my stuff isn't that good - in fact some of it is downright awful. But I think that made me a better teacher - because I could say to my students - I love to draw and paint and sometimes it turns out good and sometimes it doesn't, but I do these things because I find them relaxing and fun and I enjoy painting the bad ones as much as the good ones and I don't let my lack of talent stop me from keeping doing something I enjoy - I just keep trying to get better and when something good happens - then I know I'm on the right track. I think that saved me from a lot of discipline issues.. because no one had to feel bad if their art work didn't come out great - because art was about learning and trying new techniques and no one was expected to get it perfect on their first try.

So - I have two weeks to go and one of my biggest jobs is to explore my own teaching philosphy and how I think it'll work in the North. I know that whatever I plot and plan from here will need serious retooling when I get a feel for what my students need, want and thrive on - but for now - I can take some time and think about who I am, my strengths and my weaknesses and how I can take both of them and put them to work and what I think makes a good classroom and learning environment. Not that I haven't been thinking about this for months - I'm sure half the time I fall to sleep mulling teaching over in my head - but I need to gather those thoughts into a coherant manifesto and then evaluate what they add up to.... and then maybe make up a rubric to give them some kind of letter grade (okay.. I'm kidding about the rubric). For the most part, I already have a good idea what kind of teacher I am - I've been that teacher on the ground - this is more about thinking about where I want to go from there - which parts to keep and which parts to slowly chisel away at and shape into a future me...... building on what I've got to be something more. So, I guess I have two weeks and the rest of my professional life to work on perfecting and building my perfessional persona and philosophy as a teacher and so...on that note... away I go.
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Sunday, July 27, 2008

New Duo of Daylillies

The peach daylily is the centerpiece of the bed. and the orange one is the 2nd of that shade and planted near the back of the bed. Speaking of duos - I saw Batman: The dark knight yesterday and while I'm not quite sure I'd peg it for getting the Oscar for movie of the year, it was certainly worth seeing in the theatres. I really want to see Pacshedale (sp??) with Paul Gross. I have no idea when it is out or if it is even already out.. I guess I should look that up and see if there is any chance of seeing it before I leave.
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Nasturtium Math

Well.. I waited and waited for the Nasturtium to do something... then there was one flower on one plant, then one on each of two plants and then two on each... now there are gobbs of flowers on this one.. yet only 2 plants out of about 10 are flowering, but once they got going... they got going.
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Bee on Lamb's Ears

Well, Erin.. here is another fellow for you to identify... he had neat markings.
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Here is a shot of one of the current inhabitants of the wildflower garden.
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Susptect Plants Removed

It still doesn't have me convinced that it is poison Ivy, but even if it were virginia creeper, some other vine or a Manitoba maple.. I didn't want it and waiting hadn't helped me identify it yet. So, I put on the rubber gloves, armed myself with a doggie bag and systematically removed ever plant in the garden. One I did find appeared to have whorls of 5 leaves - as one would expect with Virginia Creeper - so I'm hoping that is what it is... but it can also cause dermatitis, so the gloves were still a good idea.
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Sunshine on a rainy day

Well, a brief moment of not rain following more days with at least one episode of rain. Yesterday was the only sunny day in the last week, and also the first time I'd driven up to Guelph in a while. Took the backroads home, which made for a nice drive. Today.. it is threatening to rain - but it hasn't done anything yet. The wind just has that sound and feel that I associate with weather before rain.

Lots of exciting garden news...
  • everything is in the ground - yeah!! I'm sure a few of the plants that had been waiting in their little pots for weeks to get planted are happy and a nice rain should really do them some good at getting settled
  • I removed the suspected poison ivy - although I did find one of the bigger plants that had 5 leaves increasing the chances that it was just demented Virginia creeper - as opposed to something more sinsiter.
  • things are starting to look chewed on again. Since its supposed to rain I held off on spraying the leaves... but I did reset my beer traps.
  • the lobelia is nearly in flower
  • the chamomile is flowering
  • the wildflower garden has a bunch of flowers all at once and is finally looking like a garden rather than a collection of leaves.
  • The strawberries which only produced 2 flowers all summer have gotten another 2 unexpectedly
  • Two new colours of daylily are open in the daylily bed
  • The first tomatos are starting to grow into tomatoes The plants are getting absolutely huge and I did some more staking today
  • I'm still waiting for obediant plant to flower
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Saturday, July 26, 2008

Orange Light

The first orange daylily in the daylily bed.
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Campanula Champion

After having no luck with my campanula - two plants have simultaneously flowered. The drops of rain were a precursor to a recently ended thunder storm...
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