Friday, December 27, 2013

Ice Pics

     Another sunny day!  It was also a bit milder, so lots of the ice was starting to thaw and drop on the ground.  You could here the tree branches creaking as the wind blew through them, and the tinkle of ice as it slipped off them.  It's supposed to be a milder weekend, so I imagine most of the ice will be on the ground by the weekend's end.  Be careful out there!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Boxing Day

The back of the house.
     Well, another Christmas has come and gone!  It snowed off and on yesterday, so now there's a thick layer of fluffy snow on top of the ice that is still coating everything.  It's very pretty but quite treacherous.

The Squirrel Branch
     I went on another long walk in hopes of finding some good photo ops.  I walked along the Speed River, this time heading south, past the River Run Centre, and continued along through the Ward and over the covered bridge, ending up in Royal City Park, where the damage to the big, old trees was quite apparent.

Oak on Ice
Aluminum Sky
Pedestrian Bridge
Covered Bridge
It was definitely much milder today, but quite grey.  It wasn't until the end of the day, as the sun was setting, that we got some sunshine.

Sun at last!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Cold Sunny Walk


     It has been bright and sunny all day today, which has made the icy exterior sparkle and shine.  Definitely a sunglasses day because of the glare off the snow.  I did manage to get out a few times today, and on my last hour and a half trek, I took my camera once again to document my journey.

     I walked down the hill to Goldie Mill Park, went past the ruins of the old mill and hugged the river path until I decided to go up to Dufferin Street.  The park has big open areas with young trees and lots of grasses and perennials, all of which were covered in ice and reflected the setting sun beautifully.

     I went along the CN trail, past the big, white Guelph water tower, that CC and I always call 'the Mother Ship".  I reached Exhibition Park, on the north side, and continued along the west side of the park.

     I then ambled along Glasgow Street, turned left onto Suffolk where I bumped into JS and her daughter, AS, who was also out taking photos.  The setting sun really does make everyone look extra beautiful - you can't get the perfect lighting in a jar!  It was then along Dublin to London and down the hill into the park again.

     The light was different than earlier as the sun was much lower in the sky.  The shadows were longer and were taking on a much more blue hue, and it felt an awful lot colder.  My fingers were aching they were so cold.  At least it was a quick jog up the hill and then I was home-sweet-warm-home.

     Other photos of the day can be viewed at:

Monday, December 23, 2013

On the brighter side...

     It looked like it was going to be another miserable day.  It was grey, damp, cold and dangerously slippery.  Then, about 3:30 this afternoon, the sun came out!  I grabbed my camera and took lots of pictures of the house, street and trees.  The sun was causing the ice to shine and sparkle and was quite a lovely sight.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Ice Storm

Euonymous Encased

     It has been quite the weekend for weather.  We were out at friends' for a Solstice party last night and even though their place is just down the hill and around the corner, it was wet, slippery and gross out.  We all managed to get there in one piece and proceeded to partake in the seasonal libations.  Coming home wasn't much better as the sidewalks had become sheets of ice and CC was using a cane!  We made it in though and hoped it wouldn't get too windy or else lots of tree branches would be likely to come down.

Icy Cedar

     We awoke this morning to discover that the world, or at least our world, was covered in ice.  Luckilly not many branches were down and there weren't any major disasters.  I went out with my camera to take some pictures and to see if there was any damage.  It was amazing to see everything covered in a thick layer of ice, and many branches were hanging down very low from the weight of their new winter coats.

Crababble Sorbet
     Later on, I went out again and this time went down by the river in Goldie Mill Park.  There were lots of small bits of twigs and branches everywhere, and some larger branches here and there.  The scariest part was the sound of branches snapping and crashing to the ground, right by the river.  It was very reminiscent of the movie, The Road.  I wisely decided not to go down to the river just in case.  It was fairly mild out, but there was still moisture coming down so I had to cover my camera with my hat to keep it dry!


     After lunch, CC and I went downtown which was surprisingly populated - those without power had come for coffee and warmth.  I left CC at Planet Bean and went on my way to take some more pictures.

I pray for summer!
There's light at the end of the tunnel

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Holiday Decorations

Red Dogwood in Chimney Pot
     A few weekends ago, CC went out with a good friend of ours, LB, to do some "pruning" and came back with a load of Red Dogwood (Cornus sericea) and evergreen boughs and to decorate the outdoor urns, and some Canadian Holly (Ilex vertcillata) for the indoors.  He has since been out again to get more boughs and Dogwood to fill out the urns as they were looking a bit sparse.  Christmas lights will go on some of these a bit later so they show at night, and hopefully the tree rats (squirrels, for the uninitiated) will leave off chewing the cords like they did last year.

     I like the "natural" look of the arrangements, which CC always does a great job of.  No spray-painted, dried-out husks of dead plants here, and certainly no plastic or glitter - can you say tacky?  They especially look good when the snow partially covers them with the red twigs sticking out and a bright, blue sky serving as the backdrop.  Winter never looked better!

     This past Thursday, I spent the night in Toronto to attend my book club, and had a chance to walk around the city beforehand and check out the urban decorations that are so prominent this time of the year.  They are not natural-looking in any way, but they do provide a warmth of light in the cold, often-grey, cityscape.  I met up with a friend ahead of time and she took me down into the PATH, the subterranean maze of shops and services that "moles" frequent.  Again, it is not in the least bit natural looking, but at least it provides some warmth and light for the season.

     Ultimately, I know which of the two styles I prefer, but then think of all the clear-cutting that would take place if everyone, including malls and big businesses, decided to use natural decorations.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Fall Colours

     So, it's the time of year when most of the leaves have fallen off the trees and everything is looking a lot more monochromatic, especially when there is a dearth of blue sky and even the old-reliable lawns are starting to look like old polaroids.  I decided to look for some colour to brighten up the days.

     Most of our fruit-bearing shrubs have been stripped of their colourful food sources by the birds.  In fact, last weekend, a flock of robins came to our back garden and ate every single Carolina Allspice berry of one shrub in about an hour!  Still, there are Rosehips which always add a splash of colour to the garden, and the hungry critters seem to leave them alone.

     This is the time of year when it's important to have flowering house plants.  We had a bumper crop of Christmas Cactus blooms (see last blog entry) and now the African Violets are flowering.  The one above is my personal favourite colour, but we also have one in purple and two miniature ones that are either white or variegated white and purple.

     Down in the greenhouse, we have three bonsai Azaleas that spend the summer in the garden.  Two didn't look so hot by summer's end and CC debated about tossing them, but luckily didn't.  The one above was one of the consumptive shrubs that has now rewarded us with masses of pink flowers.  Of course, the healthiest looking one has nary a bud to be seen.

     Finally, the above shot was taken in the Speed River. Flowering? No.  Colourful? Yes!  And amusing to boot.  "Bye bye Hallowe'en, hello Christmas!" it says to me.

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Christmas Cactuses?

     For some years now I have had a couple of different Christmas Cactuses, one is mostly white (see below), while the other (pictured above) is pink and white.  What amazes me about them is the complexity of the flowers that emerge from the tips and the joints of the stem.  Christmas Cactuses are from the genus Schlumbergera and the six species are found within the coastal mountains of south-eastern Brazil.  Plants grow either on trees (epiphytic) or on rocks (epilithic) in habitats that are shady with high humidity.

     Cultivars of the Schlumbergera fall into two main groups: the Truncata group which have pointed stem segments, horizontal flowers and yellow pollen, and the Buckleyi group which have rounded stem segments, flowers that hang down and pink pollen.  Both of the above are of the Truncata group, which also tend to flower earlier.  My experience is that they often bloom in October or November, so I like to think of them as Birthday Cactuses.  Flowers can be white, yellow, orange, pink, red or purple or bicolored.  In addition to the two pictured above, I also have one in orange (Truncata) and three that have pink flowers (Buckleyi group) - the latter have set bud but have yet to flower.

     In addition to the four types of Christmas Cactuses, I have two Easter Cactuses (genus Hatiora) which have very similar leaves, but daisy-like flowers that hang down and bloom around Easter-time.