Friday, December 31, 2010

Little cluckers!

And now, my last (I think) and 268th post for 2010...

It has been a while since I posted any chicken pics. We are overdue!

That's Georgiana and Penelope on the perch, the three rooster boys (Lord Gaga, Errol Flynn and Beaker) in the centre, Buttercup's butt on the back left, Tina Turner on the right, and poor Chicky up front. Chicky has always been at the bottom of the pecking order, and the boys have been having their way with her far too much. I have ordered her a chicken saddle because her feathers are being worn off on her back and shoulders, and we don't want that to go any further. Eventually she might bleed, then the hens would start pecking at her, and it would all get pretty ugly. So a saddle is on its way! Sometimes, love hurts.

And someone keeps yanking out Errol's most resplendent tail feathers! Plus I found him in a nest box the other day, all hunkered down and making cute little noises like he was about to lay an egg. Either he likes it in the nest box because it's warm and cozy, or he's confused about his gender. Or perhaps he is just embracing his feminine side! All perfectly acceptable.

Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, is a lovely specimen. She lays small, creamy white eggs. All the other hens lay brown ones. She is part Silkie and who knows what else? Her cluck is the daintiest of all!

Errol Flynn escorts Penelope Pigeonator across the barn floor. Long ago, there were dairy cows in this barn. We need to tidy it up a bit and get it ready for llamas, goats, ducks and who knows what else!

Buttercup, Penelope and Georgiana bask under the heat lamps, not unlike rotisserie chickens...

Tina Turner likes to roost up near the ceiling, as do Penelope and Buttercup and sometimes Georgiana. It's a good place to go to escape the affections of the roosters!

And there was a pretty sunset yesterday...

Wishing you a peaceful, healthy, happy 2011!

Happy New Year's Eve!

Julius and I ...

...would like to wish you...

...a peaceful, happy New Year's Eve!

Please don't drink and drive!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Nothing helps!

For those among you who thought decorations would improve our Charlie Brown Christmas tree, I would say...


Hmm, perhaps the miniaturization setting on my camera will help.


Fisheye lens?


Utter darkness?


Gordon loves it, I think it's hideous. It's a draw!

While snowshoeing in the woodlot today, I found the stump of this poor tree and counted 19 years of rings. NINETEEN YEARS this white spruce grew in the forest, only to be brought into a too-warm house, tarted up like a cheap tramp, mocked for two weeks, then tossed outside to compost. Oh so very wrong!!

And on that note, I leave you with this very relevant video...

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Pook Me!

One of my more amusing Christmas gifts this year was the Pook Toque given to me by my friend Beth and her family! Someone asked me why I was wearing monkey underpants on my head. But really, it's a very warm, fleece-lined toque with a couple of socks hanging of the top. You can style the socks in many different ways, like...

The Shrek

The Jelly Doughnut
(This is the year I hope to strip that FRIGGING AWFUL WALLPAPER in my office!)

The Cindy Lu Who. Not everyone can carry this off, you know! (Shaddap, I can too!)

Cowboy mullet with appropriate facial stylings.

The Care Bear

And it looks great with my new dish gloves!

Here's the instruction chart...

And there's a very helpful video. Obviously I need to work on my technique!

Apparently Justin Bieber (who gives me the willies in ways I cannot describe... shudder!) also owns one of these toques. I never thought I'd see the day when I had ANYTHING in common with Bieber, other than my citizenship!

And at the end of the day...

...Gordon still loves me, no matter how nutty I am!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Woolly Cairns

I have just lately started to experiment with needle-felting. Back in July, I made a little hedgehog from a kit I bought from Woolpets on Etsy. And recently I discovered Aileen Clarke's lovely textile art. So I decided to try making a little picture for my friend Judy, for Christmas. She breeds Cairn terriers and lives on a farm near ours. This was the result:

It is quite small, with the inner picture measuring 6"w x 4" h. Of course now all I can see is the boo-boos I made (whacked-out perspective, lopsided roof), but Judy was very pleased with it. The brown backing is llama fibre (Judy has a pet llama) and the rest is wool fleece. The stick is from our woodlot!

Close-up of Cairns.

I see lots of potential for this technique, and I want to do some 3-D felting as well (like the hedgehog.) A fun new addiction!

Sunday, December 26, 2010


I live near a small town called Alexandria (pop 3287 or thereabouts), and every holiday season, they have a lovely display of Christmas lights in the town park. After stuffing ourselves with turkey yesterday, (not to mention an AWESOME sticky toffee pudding cake that Gordon made!), we drove to Alexandria to take Mom on a tour of the park. The pictures don't do it justice!


I wish Ultramar would spend less time designing their Christmas light display and more time filling up our oil tank, which is one again teetering on empty and will cost $900 to fill. They freaked us out last year by waiting until we were on dregs to fill our tank, despite us calling the repeatedly. We'd switch oil companies, but none of them make us happy either! Ooops, sorry, my inner Grinch is coming out... back to prettyprettypretty!


I like this display by Hawkesbury Chimney Sweeps (who clean and service our furnace and chimney each year!) the wreath-holding man is made of corrugated metal furnace piping (or whatever you call it!)


More pretty pics of the lights on my friend Ronna's blog.

Meanwhile, back at home, Tristan refused to let go of his new toy (because if he did, Sophie the b*tch would steal it!)

All in all, we had a nice little Christmas, considering it was our first without Gordon's Dad. Some sadness, but still, we managed to have fun, despite Gordon and I both completely forgetting to put the stuffing in the oven! Alas, no stuffing with dinner; we convection-roasted the turkey, which you are not supposed to stuff using that method. We had the stuffing all ready to go then completely forgot about it in the fridge. So tonight's menu features leftovers with lots and lots of stuffing, and more sticky toffee pudding cake.

Have a good one!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Merry!

M E R R Y C H R I S T M A S !!!!!

And if you don't happen to celebrate Christmas, then I wish you a happy weekend.

Santa brought me a Wacom drawing tablet for my computer. I love Santa !!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

December bees

I was pleased to see some action in both of my beehives this past Sunday. It was a beautiful, sunny day with temps around the freezing mark. Some bees were zipping out of the hives to relieve themselves (they will not defecate in the hive!) They don't stay out long, because they can become too chilled to fly.

Inside the hive, the bees form a tight cluster around the queen, and the workers take turns being on the colder edges of the cluster. The bees like to keep the centre of the cluster (where Queenie is) at a toasty 35C or thereabouts. It's amazing how much heat they can generate in there!

Here's a good post on wintering honeybees, on the Brookfield Farm Bees & Honey blog. The blogger also recommends a great book called The Biology of the Honey Bee by Mark L. Winston. I found it fascinating, but if it's too technical for you, check out The Queen Must Die and Other Affairs of Bees and Men by William Longgood.

I hope my girls make it through the winter!

PS: Sophie is eating dead bees in the snow. It is normal to have some bees dies over the winter. They either crawl out of the hive to expire, or their corpses are tossed out, then they blow around on the snow a bit, which was why Sophie was behind the hives eating them. I've heard bees taste somewhat sweet owing to minute amounts of nectar or honey in their tummies.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Murdering a Christmas Tree 2010, Part 2

All hen-pecking aside (splendid examples in yesterday's video), the weather was gorgeous yesterday and we had a great time out in the woodlot. The sun was warm, the snow was sparkly and fluffy, and the temps were near 0C.

I wonder where the airplane that left that contrail was off to?

In the woodlot, we found the remnants of last year's tree.

To get a half-decent tree, we cut down a large tree, then trim the top off to size. If you're feeling sorry for the trees, don't. We need to thin about 5,000 trees from our white pine/white spruce woodlot. So far we've managed two.

Gordon, wearing my sunglasses on lieu of proper eye protection, stands next to this year's chosen candidate. By the way, sunglasses are actually worse than no eye protection at all, so for God's sake, don't follow his example! He was only using his battery-operated chainsaw but he should have brought his proper safety glasses, which he always uses with his gas-powered chain saw. Do not follow this smiling man's safety example, boys and girls!

He did a great notching job and felled the tree perfectly, despite his wife's nagging (see video of yesterday!)

Since I have been to the ER with an X-acto blade injury (back when we still did paste-up by hand in the graphic design studio), I will NEVER use a chainsaw. I am very, very bad with sharp things and have several bloody ER trips to my credit. Sophie and I were just posing for the purposes of the blog!

I carried the chainsaw home, and Gordon dragged the tree.

He was getting hot and tired at this point. Note that he is no longer wearing the hat I knit for him!

The contrail had poofed out by the time we headed back, but it was still a beautiful day. We managed to ram the tree through the sliding doors in the family room, and here it is in all its glory:

Okay, well, I SWEAR it will look better with decorations. Really! Stay tuned!Decorating tonight!

And Alex thinks it's just fine as is!

Murdering a Christmas Tree, 2010

Henpecked! henpecked!!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Then and now...

This past fall, my cousin Steve went to Ireland with our Uncle Kevin, my father's youngest sibling (who lives in England.) Steve visited me last weekend and shared the photos from his trip, which made me more determined than ever to get myself to Ireland. I've already been to beautiful Scotland, and I have had more family visits to England than I can count! But Ireland is where my paternal grandparents were born, and where my Dad spent chunks of his childhood, much of it in what is lovingly referred to as the "family hovel" in Tobernabrone.

I have posted these old photos before, but now I have current ones to compare them to...

Some relative named Philip, my aunties Bernie and Anne, young Uncle Kevin and my paternal grandmother in front of the cottage at Tobernabrone, sometime in the 1940s.

The family hovel!

Various relatives and hangers-on, sometime in the 1960s. Nice oil drum by the front door, very classy. And what happened to the lovely stone wall? Is that... concrete?!

And in 2010...

A new roof, but the garden is very overgrown. Apparently some people in Dublin bought it, put the roof on, but ran out of money and nothing has been done since!

It hasn't really changed a whole lot over the years, has it?

Meanwhile, my paternal grandfather's family hovel in Wexford has gone WAY upscale!

The sunroom was not there when Granddad was a kid! :) And it was NOT a fancy place to live back in Granddad's day, but they've done a beautiful job on it since. I love the thatched roof. I had never before seen a picture of his home. I hope to see it in person one day.

It's funny, I have always loved the ocean and I adore stone houses. Maybe some things are just in your blood! You can see the ocean from this place, according to my cousin.

And before WWII, my paternal grandparents moved to England, to an Irish ghetto in Cricklewood, London. Here is Nanny (my grandmother) with one of her six surviving children in front of their council house on Horton Avenue. They had the end unit on the right.

And in 2010, my uncle Kevin (who may have been the baby in the carriage in the previous photo) stands in front of the house he grew up in. It hasn't changed much!

Steve and my uncle also visited my grandparents' grave, which I have not seen since 1976. We visited Nanny in March, and she died in December of that year, so when I saw it, only my granddad's name was there...

And a sad day back in 1966...

My aunt Anne and Nanny at Granddad's grave. From the quantity of flowers, I'd say he was well-loved.

After the kids had left, my grandparents got a council flat nearby, on Galsworthy Road. Here they are with my uncle Gerry, sometime in the 1950s or 1960s...

And in 2010, not a lot has changed. New windows, and no doubt a new roof!

Thus ends my nostalgic tour. But on the cottage theme, I want to show you the very lovely needle-felted picture I recently bought on Etsy, from textile artist Aileen Clarke in Fife, Scotland. I love her work and you should go check out her Etsy shop and blog.

Although it's a cottage scene from Scotland, it does remind me a bit of the family hovel in Tobernabrone. Aileen's work is exquisite.

Have a peaceful Sunday!