How My Husband Spent His Birthday..

Yesterday was my husband’s birthday. As it is with other days, we make no plans and see what the day will bring.  He had previously purchased birthday presents, we have no surprises here.  I said he needed new running shoes so that was from me.  He also got a wallet and a foam bed from Costco so he can nap outside on warm days.

But who knew what was going to happen when I mowed the front lawn?  There was a 6-year-old Nishiki Willow tree that was growing horizontally instead of vertically.  As beautiful as the new growth was with its white, light green and pink foliage, it was a tree that neither of us liked because it needed constant pruning.  In winter I was out at 3:00am shaking and knocking snow off the branches because they had flattened to a pancake.  But getting back to yesterday,  I was mowing the lawn and once again had to duck under the branches, so I asked husband to trim some of them off.  As he trimmed we talked about how we no longer liked the tree so in agreement, he got out his sabre saw and branch by branch down it came.  Then we looked at it and said “what have we done” because clean up was such a mess.  And as we cut branches into smaller branches and bound some of them up, neighbours came by and said “what did you do that for? it was so beautiful”..    but they didn’t have to mow around it nor do major trimming in Spring and other times of year, nor shake snow off at 3:00am.

After it was all cleaned up husband said “we are not going shopping to Dinters (a great local nursery) today to look for a new tree.”   But I know him, and he doesn’t like to leave things undone, so after lunch he suggested we go and “have a look”  which I knew would mean more than a look.  We looked at Japanese Maples but we have 8 varieties of those, so we finally agreed upon a Smoke Bush that has been grafted onto a tree trunk.  It was blooming and just beautiful!  I asked one of the people working at the nursery if the lovely soft blooms would hold up under a heavy sprinkling and she said that they have overhead sprinkling, so with that we purchased the tree and brought it home.  Then we went down to a local feed store to buy stakes for either side.  Below is the result.  Husband always has to have a project and I know that even though he was tired, he enjoyed doing it.

Photos taken at 6:00am, last night’s sprinkler drops are still on the blooms.

I think that it is beautiful..   below is a link to a page on Nishiki Willow so you can see what we had if you don’t know what it is.

http://www.midwestgardentips.com/hakuro-nishiki_dappled_willow.html

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My Mother’s Grape Ivy

In November of 2012 my mother passed away and I became caretaker of her Grape Ivy plant.  The funny thing is though, that my mother was never a gardener.  I remember that when I was a child, my mother used to sit on the front lawn and try to find four-leaf-clovers but my father was the one who loved to plant and care for gardens.

My mother had a lot of house plants though, drought tolerant house plants.  🙂  The Grape Ivy above is at least 25 years old if not older.  She also had a wax plant which had such a strong fragrance when it bloomed, she used to cut off the flower buds.  Also a Christmas cactus.  The wax plant and cactus were very old, I remember the wax plant as a child.  It hung on an iron tripod built by my uncle.  Now both of these plants reside with my son and his family.

When I brought the grape ivy home in April of 2013 it was looking pretty sad, my brother said he had “thrown water on it a couple of times” between the time of my mother’s death and the following April.  When I brought it home I repotted it and trimmed it way back.  It sat on the top of a china cabinet from then until yesterday when I moved it to the top of an antique sideboard.

I hope that this plant will live a long time to come.  Perhaps when I am gone from this earth, it will move to my son’s to join the others.

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Rethinking Riding the Cowichan Valley Trail

We are rethinking riding our bikes on the Cowichan Valley Trail now due to a cougar warning.. this morning we went to the staging area for a ride and the above sign had been posted.  It was not there 2 days ago.  You can see a bear or a wolf but cougars do not usually make their presence known until they are upon their prey.  As we do not know exactly where the sighting was we thought better of riding there today so we went back to the Somenos Dike Trail.  Sometimes it is better to be cautious.

Proverbs 22:3 “A prudent man foreseeth the evil , and hideth himself…..”

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Bicycle Riding on the Cowichan Valley Trail

Today we went back to riding our bicycles on the Cowichan Valley Trail.  We have been riding on the Somenos Dyke Trail but with hot weather coming, the Cowichan Valley Trail is much cooler.

I have been thinking about just how much the Cowichan Valley Trail is like life.  There are shadows and sunlight, as there are dark times in our life and bright times when everything is going well.  The way is narrow, and for a Christian, we are to follow the “narrow path”, not the wide path that leads to destruction.

Matthew 7:13-14 “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”

The Cowichan Valley Trail can be a dangerous place.  Sometimes cyclists come up very fast with no bell to let you know they are coming, and if you are not riding right on your side, it could be a disaster.  Life is like that.  Sometimes danger comes upon us that we cannot see coming.  According to the Lord’s will, he may deliver us from the danger, or we may have to go through it and be a testimony of God’s grace to us through difficult times.

There are wonderful sights, sounds and smells on the Cowichan Valley Trail..  wildflowers, the green trees and shrubbery,  the sound of roosters crowing, or sheep, the smell of freshly mowed hay at the farms beyond the trail, the smell of horses in the pasture of a farm near the trail, this is beautiful to some.  As with life, all of Creation if we just look around us, the sound of a pouring rain or a gentle rain, the sound of thunder, the sight of lightning.  The fragrance of flowers, or puppy breath, or a baby..  all of life.

I am thankful to be back on the Cowichan Valley trail.

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Removing the Bird Feeder

This Spring is the first time I have fed birds from a feeder having always fed them through winter by throwing seed on the ground.  I never thought that so many varieties would come to the feeder and it was getting to be too much, as though I was the only one feeding the birds.  The female House Finch in the photo above is one of many visitors.

I began to think it wasn’t such a good idea when by chance I saw a female sparrow carrying a moth to her nest.  That was when it dawned on me that perhaps seed was too easy and that they should be looking for their natural food.  Then a couple of days later I saw that a Starling had appeared  and if there was one species I did not want on a bird feeder it is Starlings for they take over very quickly.  A day or so after that my husband saw a squirrel in the tray below the feeder and the heavy glass roof above the feeder was knocked at an angle.  This meant that some brave squirrel had jumped from quite a distance to reach the food.  And that was the end for me so I took the feeder down and carried the pole holding it away.

But I felt very guilty..would my little friends starve after I took their food supply away?  such foolishness on my part.  Yes, they did hang around looking forlorn for a few days and I continued to feel guilty.  I decided to put some seed out on the ground in different places and it wasn’t long before a few of the birds came back.  This morning I was lying on a swing in our back yard and a Chestnut-backed Chickadee flew in and landed on my knee.  It looked at me as if to say, “that’s OK, don’t feel so bad.”  This little Chickadee who formerly would swoop down, grab a black oil sunflower seed and fly into the tree was now going down to the ground.  And I also noticed that there is a new flock of Sparrow fledglings coming to the seed on the ground as well.  For previous fledglings it was difficult for the mother to entice them to the feeder so ground-feeding is better for them.

What does the bible say about feeding the birds?

Matthew 6:26 “Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them……”

I do still provide them clean water in a bird bath every day, and I still have my hummingbird feeder up because we had such a cold and wet Spring but I think that in July when everything starts to bloom I will remove that as well.

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A Baby Deer and Pouring Rain

Yesterday my husband was angry with me.. In the morning we took our dog in for a grooming to a place that is in the country.   As we left the groomers a squirrel ran into the road but thankfully we missed hitting it, such was not the case a couple of years ago.  So we were talking about this, and about the time in 2012 when a deer jumped out of bushes and ran into the front fender of the car to $3,000 damage.  I have always thought that husband has very slow reactions when he sees an animal.  He doesn’t slow or swerve, it’s like his mind goes blank at those times.  At any rate, as we were talking about these things we were driving down the forested hill towards Cowichan Bay when a doe and a very new fawn were crossing the road.  I yelled “deer and fawn” and husband slowed but he did not stop.  The doe went into the bushes but the fawn seemed scared and started wandering around on the road.  I was terrified that someone would come from the other direction and hit it.  I told my husband to “Stop the Car!” and finally he did.  A truck came from the other direction and stopped because  he saw the fawn on the road.  After what seemed like a long time but was only a minute or so, the doe came back to the road and the fawn followed her into the bushes.  Husband was not pleased with the way I spoke to him about this matter and did not speak to me for the rest of the day..  and that I would have to go pick up the dog at the groomers on my own.  I should say that since we moved to Vancouver Island husband has done 90% of the driving and I have been concerned about losing my driving skills so probably it is good for me to drive more.

But today is a better day.  We went back to Cowichan Bay to get bread from the Artisan bakery there called True Grain.  But he got into the passenger seat and I had to drive there.   It is a wonderful thing that neither of us are grudge holders.

Also, today we are having a good downpour of rain.  I am always thrilled for rain in June because July is always very hot and dry.  The temperatures for the past week or so have been mild and that has been a blessing also.  As I always say, rain for the forest, rain for the garden, rain for the river and the lake.  Two years ago we had a terrible drought, hopefully that will not happen this year.