Friday, 5 July 2013

Its All In The Lighting

Sun rise, sun set. All that is in between can be so incredibly beautiful, or so its seems.  I strive to appreciate beauty in everything that passes my way.  The morning light is the finest time for photography, my cameras are at the ready.  Late afternoon sun is harsh, the photos never seem to be what I recall, I rarely try to see through the lens.

As you know, my followers who read this blog, my interest in our property and the creatures that pass through have put a perpetual grin on my face.  I smile at everything that walks, crawls, slithers, runs and yes, eats my garden.  We are one eco sysytem that live in harmony.

It was last night that changed my silly grin to one of deep laughter. The laughter of friends making a discovery that will be the heart of conversation for years to come.  My friend asked to see my new veg garden.  The evening garden walk lands us at the raised boxes.  What do we see, a monster snail.  My friend says; "That's an escargot, I've seen them in France".  I cannot believe my eyes, this snail is mammoth, clearly the strongest of its species, apparently escaping from France.  I don't think twice, grab my camera, take multitude of pics, then....remember the lighting, how lighting can change everything?   The lighting was perfect, the shadows were perfect, the venue for escargot not so seamless.  Should we move it, should we...now wait a minute....it hasn't moved.  Yes my friends, the escargot is rubber.  The placement of the snail was executed with skill, the lighting exquisite, the friend that discovered this with me was all too amused. 

II do not feel duped at all.  I adore the humour and  the way my evening ended with a good friend.  We have emailed each other through the day, all with cheery notes on our rubber snail. 

The question is: How does a rubber snail escape from France and end up here?

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

A Pail of Pennies for the Housekeeper

Kenya Dung Beetle
All  housekeepers, who clean for a living, have a pail  with their essential tools of the trade.  Glass cleaner, cloths, spot removers etc.  Their pail is a 'catch all'.  For 9 years, I have used the same pail, and to no surprise, I have never cleaned it.  I suppose that would be like vacuuming the vacuum cleaner.  The thought has never occurred to me, until yesterday.  The reason being, there is spare change at the bottom of my bucket.  For 9 years, I have tossed in the odd coin, left behind by guests, either on purpose or dropped on the floor.

Treasury Canada has announced there will no longer be a Canadian penny.  I have noticed this transition at most shops now, the value is rounded off and no pennies exchange hands.  Thinking, It's a good thing I don't collect  jars of change.  Yes, I am free from this financial burden.  Whoa, what about the pail?  Then occurred to me, I have a pail of change.  I poured my bounty out and started to count.   In 9 years I have collected $10.00 in small change.  Ten dollars that I didn't have two days ago.  I am now penniless.

These is my picture of a dung beetle, from Kenya.  He can roll a ball 10 times his size. The eggs are layed inside the ball and the ball of dung feeds the larvae.  How cool is that!
video


Saturday, 5 January 2013

Denial...Don't Leave Home Without It.

For those of you who know me, it it not unusual for me have a new injury.  The way I see this, I am so active something is bound to get in my way, like a boulder grabbing my finger.  Who knew boulders were so vicious and mean spirited?  Injuries are a friend,   I am Kalamity Kathi and proud of it.  You know the scope of stories, you don't know this one. Yes, not in our backyard, yes..in Kenya. I have to travel across the world, I have run out of challenging disasters at home.

First were the Safari Ants.  These carnivorous little buggers eat flesh.  Me, standing still, too long, in the Savannahs, the ants hunt human flesh, this I am convinced of.  They crawl up your pant legs and dine. The only way to rid them, is to kill them.  Once they attach their jaws on your skin, one of you has to die and it isn't me, not today.  I am proud to say I have invented the "Elephant Pepper Ant Dance".  Quite amusing, especially with ones pants dropped at ankle level with 3 men watching.

Then there was the flash storm at 4am, our high caliber lodge leaked and I slipped rescuing our luggage.  The details are not important, it's the power of denial that shines through here. I had to make a swift decision to either come home or continue our journey.  My husband, now proficient in years of medical procedures, stitched me up and held my hand, in a bloody cold shower (no ice at 4am).  I am in complete denial.  There was no 'incident'.  Repeat this Kath, there was no incident.

For the remainder of our journey he would ask me, once a day, and once a day only at my request, "Everything good?".  I would stoically answer, "I'm, good".   Strangely enough, being in denial has its merits.  Our brains can concentrate on one major thought at a time. I focus on our journey.  Game drives, sundowners and copious amounts drugs. Don't leave home without denial or superior pain killers, they make dandy companions. 


Enjoy my video of this Marsh Pride, my name for these cats who really disliked crossing water.  They were on a hunt for a warthog.  The warthog lived to see another day.

I dedicated this blog to Donna, for teaching me the power of denial.




 

Thursday, 12 July 2012

"How Cool Is That?"

Fallen Hummingbird Nest
Lately, taking photos of my creatures has been near to impossible.  They move with lightning speed, even though I ask them to wait just for a few seconds.  Do I dash for the cameras or do I stop and soak up the moment?  Yes, my eyes will remember. 

This spring and summer we witnessed a river otter run through the property.  'What you say..a river otter!'   Oh yes.  I am almost certain someone around here has or rather had, a pond with fish. A belly full of lunch without much labour, other than  walking half a kilometre on land then back to the sea.  Seems like a lot of work to me.  "How Cool Is That?"

 Yesterday, a pod of 4 Orcas.  'What you say...Orcas?' Oh yes! 4 Killer Whales. We watched until the last dorsal fin blended in with the heat waves of the distance.  These events simply take my breath away.  "How Cool Is That?"

I have also see one Canadian Tiger Swallowtail butterfly.  What you say...'a Canadian Tiger Swallowtail butterfly!   Be still my beating heart.'  Usually I see the Western Tiger Swallowtails.  Oh goodness the Canadian is so large and gorgeous.  "How Cool Is That?"

Lately, I have taken to stealing snippets of words from friends, using these little phrases then passing them along in my everyday conversations.  All words of wisdom, at least in my little world.   One such saying is: "How Cool Is That?" Now, I pass that on to you.

The chances of me finding this fallen hummingbird nest was extremely slim.  It blended in with the  moss on the forest floor.  As you know, the nests are built largely of spider silk, they expand with the growth of the babies.  A spider silk cap on top to keep the eggs warm as mom forages for food.  This nest was never used.  No eggs, no expansion.  I think it was not strongly secured to the branch and when we had a mini storm, it was dislodged.  It is my treasure now.  

I spend hours at the window watching 3 species of hummers at the feeder, then this moment happened.  A fledgling watching, now learning, at my feeder.
"How Cool Is That?"

Rufous Hummingbird and Fledgling

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Whoosh of Wings

Sounds.  What remarkable powers they have.  To hear the 'whoosh of wings' perhaps of Ravens racing directly above your head is unforgettable and revered, in particular,  if there are no other sounds in competition.  Nature sounds catch you off guard, they ground you, they grab your attention, they remind you that there is more to life than the bustle of our busy lives. My photographs are captured because I notice small nuance differences in my landscape, like a tiny mouse or a salamander that blends in.  Sounds are, at times, difficult to track, but oh, so rewarding!


This summer, like all other summers, I walk barefoot in the house and outside.  This too grounds me, I feel anchored and at peace with the seasons.  We are all so busy with this and that, remember to find your anchor, and give your anchor a hug.

Speaking of the 'whoosh of wings',  two of these Turkey Vultures were flying and then to my pleasure, landing on the beach below us.  It was the sound of their wings that drew my attention to their presence. Come-on they are beautiful and huge, the size of an eagle.


Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Maintain What You Have

In between guests, housekeeping and gardening there was time to wander through one of the local garden shops. I stumbled into the 'pond/water' feature area. Words written explained; 'Only takes a minute to install' or 'minimal cleaning involved'. For a very loooong minute, I actually flirted with the idea to purchase a water feature. Are you flippin' mad? I have been taught to 'Maintain what you have then move on to the new'. With an acre of property, plants waiting to be fed/watered, ivy growing faster than I can remove it, pruning etc. What are you thinking! With a click of my heals, I whirled around and vanished. Honestly, the idea of a frog spewing water is not the kind of yard-art I wish to maintain anyhow.

This is a Canadian Tiger Swallowtail butterfly. They frequent us often and they are the biggest and showiest of all. It has taken me 8 years to snap a photo like this. They don't often rest long enough for me to dash for the the camera.

Monday, 20 June 2011

Familiar Strangers

This has been the most wonderful spring, cloudy, rainy with sun splash. Nature abounds with massive green, upright ferns and trees thick with new foliage. Having planted hundreds of ferns, this is their year to shine. Playing in the garden is a joy now as years past have always been a struggle, always disappointed with natures progress. I understand now; ' it is what it is'.

All gardeners will tell you that our minds wander through the day. Flirting with one subject and on to the next. In one flirt of thought I was remembering when I was a postie, delivering mail door to door. For a while, an old Chinese man would greet me every day and walk with me, just for a few blocks. Every day he would teach me a new word in Cantonese. Every day, he would go over the few words I had mastered. One day, he did not show up, he had the audacity to move. Just like that, he didn't give me any warning. I was attached to my familiar stranger and missed him. For months I watched for him, hoping he would come back, if only to say good-bye. I knew his name as I delivered mail to him, he did not know mine. I have since forgotten all of my words except 'good morning' and ' thank-you'. Good words to remember, they serve me well with new Cantonese familiar strangers.

In the 20+ years I have live on the Sunshine Coast, this is only the 3rd Northwestern Salamander I have seen. (There is a one inch pine cone in the upper left so you can sense size) My new familiar stranger will move on with no notice, I am sure of that. I have said my good-byes and maybe see ya' later. Then again, maybe not.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Careful What You Wish For

We have been the stewards of this acreage for well over a decade. It came with a remarkable stalwart lady called Ivy, she is attractive and striking. Always there for you, always perky and alive, reaching out in every direction, making sure that where ever you look, she spreads her joy of fresh green. Akin to a faithful dog, riding on your heals, except she is inexorable, an inescapable stalker. It is now that I decide to remove Ivy, 5 months in, 6 months left to go, I will win and it is not easy, it is the biggest project I have ever taken on. Ivy has a second life, she gets composted and then burned as hog fuel at the local mill. Win-win for everyone!



Come visit Gibsons and the Sunshine Coast of Canada

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Hell's Gate

Slugs have an amazing and never-ending appetite, plowing through tender greenery faster than my beloved deer. It is very difficult for me to smoosh a slug, so I have succumb to beer. Having purchased a slug trap that uses beer as a lure the next step is to find beer. What do I see in the local liquor store. A beer made in British Columbia called "Hell's Gate". How appropriate is that!! Indeed, they pass through hell's gate, a one way trip. Happy slugs, happy innkeeper. FYI: slugs creep into the entrance, find one of the three drinking pools and voila, drown my sorrows.

Can you believe this tiny little field mouse? Sleeping so soundly and almost smooshed under my foot. The cedar leaves it rests on are no bigger than your eyebrows, the pine cone about 5cm (2"). My camera lens not less than 2.5cm (1") away at times.

Come visit Gibsons and the Sunshine Coast of Canada

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Chocolate Slugs

This spring in Gibsons has been unusually damp with 10cm (4") of rainfall in one month. Deer Fern's garden are lush and magnificent. We have seen an influx of slugs this year as well. I have spent a few mornings, with my nose to the ground, scouring the grounds for slugs, almost all of them are brown, very large, about 8cm (3").

I don't consider myself a gardener, I am 'one who keeps the forest floor tidy'. And with that thought, I know my forest floor intimately. When something is out of place, it catches my eye for investigation. I credit this talent to my friend Ann. She has taught me to be observant, cherish and appreciate the small things in life, especially nature, in all forms.

No bigger than basketball, this one day old Mule Deer fawn sits on our slopped bank, hidden amongst New Zealand grass and Heavenly bamboo. The chances of seeing this are once in a lifetime. This is our second chance, two years in a row. If it wasn't for Ann and chocolate slugs, I may have never had this pleasure.