Saturday, April 30, 2011

And the last of the trip...

This week has been too busy and I am behind  on blogging. Big changes happening around here! My hubby has put in his resignation from his federal government job and is opening his own law practice this summer. Apart from three dismal weeks at McDonalds when he was a teenager, Gordon has never worked for anyone but the government! But he has finally had enough and after talking about it for ten years(!) he is going to return to being a lawyer. But instead of being a Crown prosecutor, he'll be a defence lawyer practicing criminal, immigration and mental health law (and who knows what else! He used to do criminal and tax law.) So wish us luck, because it's a huge change. I am looking forward to seeing more of him as he leaves behind his two-hour-plus daily commute.

Most people have been very supportive, save for a couple of friends who seem to think Gordon is crazy for quitting a job that is completely unfulfilling but very safe.  It surprises me when people aren't supportive about Gordon's plans, because really, if you have nothing nice to say, say nothing! Some people act like he's quitting his job to become a pole dancer. But he was very happy practicing law for many years, and misses it, and I know he'll do exceedingly well. He also has more books he wants to write. But I guess some people think job security is the only thing worth living for. Hubby and I both have other priorities in life!

Anyway, I finally have the last of the pictures from our Arizona trip. Enjoy...

This was taken from the airplane and I can't remember if this was New Mexico or Arizona or some other state, but I have always been curious about these "crop circles." Can anyone explain to me why farmers plant this way? It's very pretty from the air.

And then came mountains and desert...

Finally we flew over Tucson...

City in the desert!

Our last day in Arizona was uncharacteristically rainy. We decided to visit the Mission San Xavier del Bac. This Spanish mission was found in 1692 by a Jesuit. It sits on the Tohono O'odham San Xavier Indian Reservation.

I admit to having a weakness for Catholic churches. This may stem from being brought up Catholic, with an Irish grandmother who attended Mass every day. Even though I gave up religion over 20 years ago, I still like visiting beautiful religious buildings!

The church itself dates from the late 1700s...

Read more about its history here

And on a hill outside the church is a grotto with shrine...

From the hill, I looked down to see people's names written in stones on the ground. Not sure of the significance!


The exterior of the Mission.

That night we went into Tucson for dinner. I found the courthouse to be very attractive:

And that's it for Arizona photos. It was a great trip. Now back to your regularly-scheduled chickens and bees. We are splitting our beehives today. Stay tuned!

PS: Be kind to civil servants taking the leap into private industry! ;)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Little cluckers...

As evidenced by the photos below, the chickens had a nice free-range outing on Monday.

Please tell me the newly-empowered Chicky is NOT chasing Errol Flynn!

She certainly enjoyed a good scratch in the dirt!

Can you deny Errol's handsome-osity?  His tail feathers are finally growing back. I think the brutish black hens were yanking them out for kicks!

"Make sure you get my best side!"

"Easily done. Every side is my best side!"

 "Gotta go! Business to attend to!"

 Lord Gaga didn't have much time for me either.

Happy chickens!

Meanwhile, inside the house...

...a chipmunk sat on the window box, tormenting the hell out of Naomi.

And why is it 23C in April, with severe thunderstorms and tornado watches and warnings? (August, maybe, but July?) Just last Thursday, I was watching snowflakes and ice pellets outside my office window. 

This is the same weather disturbance that just schnockered the US. Last night there was a big thunderstorm, and my 80-lb dog Tristan crawled up and lay across me as I was flat on the couch, watching TV. Note that our dogs are not allowed on the furniture! But Tristan enjoys taking liberties, especially when he's scared.

Ah, spring in Canada: snow, rain, flood watches and now tornado warnings... but at least the chickens are happy!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


...with pollen, that is! My two hives of bees survived the winter and seem to be doing well. Yesterday I watched them flying in, absolutely loaded with pollen.

They gather the pollen by packing it into "pollen baskets" on their hind legs. The big yellow blobs you see on these girls are full loads of the stuff! Pollen comes in various colours; I saw shades of yellow yesterday.  I was told that around here, the girls take pussywillow pollen in early spring. Other flowers are starting to bloom now, too. I have seen daffodils in sheltered areas, but mine aren't out yet.

I don't have the winter wrapping off the hives yet, but will do soon.

Look at all that lovely pollen. Food for baby bees!

It's great to see the girls out foraging after a long, cold winter. In a few weeks, we will be splitting the hives. My mentor is bringing us two new queen bees. We will split each of the hives, and install a new queen in each half. Voilà, four hives from two! 

If you don't manage your hives in this way, your hives will manage themselves. The hive will make a new queen in preparation for swarming, When they are ready, half the hive will leave forever with the new queen, leaving the old queen and their hive-mates behind. The bees will look for a new place to set up shop, like the hollow trunk of a tree.

We beekeepers prefer not to lose our bees in this way, so we do what we can to prevent it! I have never split a hive before so I am looking forward to learning all about it.

Be kind to honeybees!

Chicky update

Uh, remember Chicky the hen, who had a bath last weekend? She's back with her flock now. Today while they were out free-ranging, she attacked Beaker the rooster, then chased him off! I do believe she has found her inner warrior. The wonders of a bath and a spa vacation!

Watch it Errol Flynn. She whipped Beaker. She can whip you.

Meanwhile, there's a new slut in town..

My Charlotte! My dear, special Charlotte. Charlotte, who flies up to my shoulder and loves cuddles. My virginal, gentle, chaste Charlotte. Apparently while Chicky and Anastasia were on their holidays, the roo-boys decided Charlotte was low hen on the totem pole. Now SHE is the one getting bald spots, and I just came inside from knocking Lord Gaga and Beaker off her, mid-gang-bang... GEEZ!!! Those boys need to learn that Charlotte belongs to the head rooster, aka ME (but relax, I do NOT use her for the same purposes as those three horn-dogs!)

Never a dull moment around here.

Monday, April 25, 2011

A rocky day...

Getting to the end of the Arizona trip photos, then it's back to your regularly-scheduled bees and chickens.

Here are more pictures from gorgeous Chiricahua National Monument.

Love on the rocks, ar ar ar. Or maybe not, as it's our 18th wedding anniversary next month.

Gordon and Roger, two intrepid hikers fuelled by Dos Equis.

Can you see the head in this rock formation? It actually has a name, but I'm damned if I can remember what it is.


This formation is known as "Punch and Judy." I think the reasons are obvious!

Yarrow's Spiny lizard, trying to warm up in the sun.

Stunning rock formations, as far as the eye can see.

The trail.

And near the end of our hike down the mountain, a Two-tailed Swallowtail landed on Gordon. It is Arizona's state butterfly.

Next it landed on me, no doubt disappointed to discover that all these bright colours were yielding NO nectar!

Then Gordon professed his love for an Alligator Juniper growing out of a rock.

Near the end of our something-like-ten-miles hike, I started hallucinating and seeing cars where there were none, but eventually we did reach the visitor centre parking lot, where we changed out of our hiking boots and coerced some innocent bystander into taking our photo!

Then we headed back to Tucson. But in the grasslands near Chiricahua, we saw more range cows:

We kept a sharp eye out of for snakes in the road. This poor Gopher snake was squashed by a car before we got there..

However, Roger rescued this lovely one from the middle of the road before it could come to harm...

I wish I could have held it, but I did get to touch it! Gopher snakes are not venomous, but they will pretend to be one if threatened, by flattening their heads to look the triangular head of a rattler. They hiss and shake their tails in a very good imitation of their venomous kin.

Gorgeous snake! I'm glad we didn't squash it. Roger is an expert with reptiles and amphibians; don't try randomly picking up snakes unless you know what you're doing.

After this, we stopped for Mexican food and tequila. A good time was had by all! Well, I abstained from the tequila. Tequila and I were last acquainted in 1990, followed by the mother of all hangovers. Never again!

Here are some cool vintage postcards from Chiricahua.

Be kind to snakes!

Sunday, April 24, 2011


Someone found my blog by searching "champagne sabayon with carmelized pears"???

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Rock formations and a dangerous cooler...

On one of the last days of our trip to Arizona, we hiked down from the top of Chiricahua National Monument with our friend Roger. It was something like nine miles, mostly downhill owing to the shuttlebus we took to the top early that morning!

Roger kindly brought lunch and beer, although his cooler was just a little alarming...

No rattlesnakes on this day, though! Just tasty sandwiches.

It was windy and cool at the top, but the panoramic views of the rock formations were stunning. These are rhyolite tuffs, rock formed from the ash of a long-ago volcano. What a gorgeous national park.

The columns of rock were very impressive, whether you were up close or far away!

A pretty cactus blossom juts out from the rock.

Roger and Gordon, two intrepid hikers.

 I was really impressed with the hiking path.

 There were lots of astounding balancing rocks. How does that thing stay up there?!

 I wanted to give this one just a little push!

 I think it's obvious why this tree is called Alligator Juniper! Note the bark.

More stupdendous scenery.

More tomorrow!