Sunday, April 15, 2018

We All Need Gardens

 Here are some cherry tomatoes reminding me that, in spite of the wintry weather outside, spring will come and gardens will grow.
At church this morning, a fellow was sharing about a trip he recently made to Guatemala with his brother. He grew up on a dairy farm so he is a practical sort of guy and knows about growing things. The soil in the area he visited  is heavy clay. The locals primarily eat corn which will grow well in that kind of soil, but the people are malnourished because they lack variety in their diet. So this man showed them how to make raised beds and how to lighten the soil with compost and sand. Now they can grow root vegetables like carrots, beets, onions, etc.
 He and his brother also built a cement washing area away from the river so that the river wouldn't get polluted with soap and dirt. The washing area drains into a big pit which is filled with leaves and loose dirt. Around the perimeter of the pit, banana trees are planted that will soak up the water and nutrients in the grey water. Simple, practical solutions that will be helpful for years to come.
Here's a pot of globe amaranth I am starting. I like this flower because it has red stems and  a branching habit. The round flowers in pink, magenta or white, dry very easily and keep their colour for months. We all need colour and light in our lives.
The fellow who visited Guatemala also helped with installing some lighting in the school's classroom as they only had one light bulb which wasn't adequate at all. Now, in the rainy season, the students will have some brightness in their classroom and will be able to learn better and feel happier. There are so many ways to help each other.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Fresh from the Indoor Garden

 I pulled two radishes from their pots this morning.  I planted them in mid-Februay and they have grown just fine on the windowsill. I put 5 seeds in a 4" pot and that gave them enough room. I fertilized them once a few weeks after planting and made sure I kept the soil damp which usually meant watering every day. Although they look small on the large plate, they are about 1" across so average radish size.
Also on the plate is celery from the plants I brought in from the outside garden last fall. It has been growing well albeit a bit leggy.  The flavour is mild - almost a bit sweet.
At the front of the plate, is a piece of basil. I started that at the same time as the radishes. It is easy to grow on a windowsill. It adds some zing to a salad or sandwich.
This is the view outside my window. Spring is slow to come this year. We had some nasty, extremely windy weather a couple of days ago . On the plus side, I read the cold might be hard on the deer ticks. April is often the month when the dog and/or I pick up a tick but I don't have to worry with snow still on the ground.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Happy Easter

Sing to the Lord a new song,
for he has done marvelous things;
his right hand and his holy arm
have worked salvation for him.

The Lord has made his salvation known
 and revealed his righteousness to the nations.

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.

Psalm 98: 1,2,4  NIV

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Magenta in March

 Although we are getting nice sunny days, the air is still chilly and we have a fair bit of snow on the ground.  No gardening any time soon. So I went to the Home and Garden Show in Ottawa to see if there was anything good in the garden part. I was seriously underwhelmed. One (!) small booth selling plants, and  a few pathetic hard-scaping designs with the odd plant stuck in for a little greenery was it for the garden part.Anyway I bought this pretty bougainvillae to cheer me up. It is only hardy to zone 10 so I will have to bring it inside for the winter, but the vendor said that they are fine with neglect in the dormant period and will perk up again in the spring.  Worth a try anyway. I've never had a bougainvillae.
The orchid's blooms popped open yesterday. It will keep blooming for several weeks. I'm still watering it with distilled water and giving it a light feeding of liquid fertilizer.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Azalea and Inktense

 A ladybug found the celery plant on the windowsill. For a lot of people around here, the ladybugs can be a real pest in the house - landing on your face, biting, and being very stinky if you squash them. However, we don't get very many, and it felt very springlike to have a little critter cruising my plant so I was happy to see it.
My husband got me a very pretty azalea plant for my birthday. Certainly cheers up a room.

It has quite a few buds so it should bloom for a while yet. Unfortunately, it won't be hardy outside so it is strictly a house plant and I'm not that successful with keeping azaleas going long term. But for now I am certainly enjoying it.

Also on the birthday front is a new box of 24 Derwent Inktense pencils (conveniently on sale). I did a quick trial last evening and I really like them.  They are an ink/acrylic blend so when they dry you can't rewet them like regular watercolours. The colours are more vibrant than regular watercolour pencils. This photo is not doing justice to the bright colours. It's going to be fun to experiment with using both the Inktense pencils and either regular watercolours or watercolour pencils together.  Apparently Derwent is the only company making an Inktense type pencil.

Spring is just around the corner.  Can't wait.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

More Science and Tech

 Some more photos from the Museum of Science and Tech in Ottawa. A  large anchor perhaps used on a CP steamship.
 A snazzy old car. I love the yellowy-green colour and the wood panelling. The white-wall tires complete the look.  It's towing a small wood-panelled trailer.
 The early days of camping. Not quite your modern RV.

An amphibian car.  I guess they weren't that successful or you would still see them around.

Got a toothache?

 This is the Crazy Kitchen.  Sorry the photo is so blurry but whenever I walk through this little room, no matter how much I tell myself it's just optical illusions, I always feel woozy which is what it is supposed to do you. Quite remarkable. It has a sturdy railing to hang on to for good reason.

 Here's a model of a dog suited up for search and rescue. It even has ear protectors.  They also had a model of a horse with a fitness tracker on a collar on its neck.
The Museum has lots of other cool stuff but the lighting is often on the dark side which makes photos difficult.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Some Science and Tech

 We spent a few enjoyable hours the other day at the newly renovated Museum of Science and Technology in Ottawa. This is a lovely sleigh - it must have zipped over the packed snow. The old skies in the foreground reminded my husband and I of skis that we used when we were kids. I guess we'll be an exhibit soon!
 I really like this woodstove.  It's not a style that I am familiar with as most of the woodstoves used in Quebec and Ontario double as cookstoves and are much boxier with a large cooking surface.
 The museum has some well maintained steam trains.
 The cab of this one was protected by glass but on another train they had modified it so it was kid friendly and it was proving to be much fun for young and old alike.
 These runged steps look like they could be really treacherous in the winter.

Any Canadian of a certain age will recognize the Canadian Pacific maroon colour and gold lettering.

This is a Canadian National engine. Those two railways were the backbone of the country's economy - they still are incredibly important. Now they have expanded into the US and are usually just referred to as CN and CP . Both companies used to carry passengers as well as freight but first CP and then CN got rid of the passenger business. Via Rail was born for passenger traffic and it uses primarily CN tracks. I like trains, and when I travel to the Toronto area on my own, I always take the train.