Friday, August 20, 2010

Going Buggy

First it was caterpillars...big, fat, juicy ones.
Then it was skunk encounters, squirrels, possums, raccoons and now...
Praying Mantis.

I never knew there was such a dizzying array of wild life available for inspection right here in our own back yard.  Maybe I could charge admission.

Let me introduce Lucy, the Lady Praying Mantis. 




Some people would call her a "Walking Stick" or a "Grasshopper" but she is not one of those.  She is related to termites and cockroaches and there are 8 different sub-classes in her own species.  Some praying mantis are big enough to eat lizards, frogs, birds, snakes, fish and even rodents.   The one we see here specializes in insects, although she is prone to cannibalizing her mates.  Lucy makes for good biological pest control in organic gardens. 



Her grasping, spiked forelegs catch and securely hold her prey.  Her articulated head can swivel 300 degrees, giving her a very large range of vision.  With her large compound eyes, which have binocular vision, she doesn't miss much. 


Is this the praying stance, or is she asking us to dance?

Well, it's Friday and If you are over 40, you may have landed here on a blog hop follow.  Welcome, and I hope you come again.  If you are a "Regular Customer", this will be my last post for about a week.  Tomorrow, at long last, we head off on our belated vacation to Maine.  When we get there, we lock the doors at night, keep the dog inside and pretend the bears and cougars can't get in.  Mice and chipmunks are one thing, but great big bears and cougars would give me pause. 

Here's hoping the last days of summer are good to you.  I'll be back......




Thursday, August 19, 2010

Strike Zone!

Gott'im!


Then he got me.

Then....after a breather (read:  once I was able to breath again) we proceeded to dispose of the critter. 




I figured we had found the sweet spot and could try again, to rid the place of the whole litter of little skunkies.   I was wrong.




This morning, I found Mr. Peter Possum in my trap.  Have you ever looked at one of these guys up close?  They look like enormous rats.  I don't mind their nice furry backs.  They have nice eyes, and white flanges around their cheeks.  The face is okay until he opens his mouth and shows off his rows of razor sharp teeth.  It's that ratty tail that totally creeps me out!



I am not discouraged.  There is still a half jar of peanut butter left to keep making the sandwiches they all love.  There are two more nights before we leave for our belated Maine vacation, so technically, I could still catch 2 more skunks. 

No, I am not discouraged--I am determined.  Just call me Saint Patrick...you know the Sainted man who rid Ireland of snakes?  My mission is to rid Our Town of Skunks!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Still Fishing

Do you want to hear about the two that got away?  Do you want me to hold my arms out to my sides and tell you they were "this big"?  Do you want to stay for a no-fish dinner? 

After coming up empty two nights in a row, last night we struck it big.  No, still no skunk, but....this time we caught a mother raccoon.  She was not a happy camper when the dogs found her at 6:30 this morning.  The uproar was enough to wake the dead.  Howling dogs, growling, clawing, attack mode raccoon, terrified husband.  He threw a towel over the cage and brought the dogs back inside.  We all huddled under the duvet in bed, waiting for hearts to calm to a steady pace and for Mama Raccoon to compose herself.




Check out those long and deadly claws!

Once we released Mama Raccoon, she made a lightning dash for the bushes and rematerialized in the apple tree.  She moved so fast we didn't even see where she got to at first.  It was the dogs, of course, that gave us our first clue.



We have a new plan:  we will stake out the trap in the FRONT yard tonight.  There have been signs of recent skunk activity out there and several sitings as well. 

The way things are going, I am afraid the animal population at this address may unite and stage a coup against us as sovereign rulers.  The indigenous species are legion.  We are but one small family unit, barely clinging to survival in the wild kingdom. 

We may need to call for reinforcements soon. 
Be prepared

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Gone Fishing

Fishing.  In my back yard.  Think bait and tackle.  Think big game.  Think....wait for it....

S K U N K.

After close calls on several occasions, Nelson  got it in the face four nights ago. 
It was epic: 

Frothing, white foam. 
Vomiting. 
Stench.
Ulcerated eyes.
Trip to the Vet.


Now we are on a mission to catch that varmint, and I can not help but see the similarities to fishing.  (This is a boating blog, after all.)  On the ocean, I choose the bait most likely to attract the fish being sought after.  I cruise or troll the areas known for success in catching said fish.  I think positive thoughts about eating good omega 3's for dinner and hope it is tonight.

Fishing for Skunks is just like that.  I have a live trap.  I have bait.  I have the area of most frequently seen skunks.  I have good thoughts of what I will do once I catch the Stinky Fellow. But...just like in fishing, I am not having the very best results.

First, I caught a squirrel. 

Nelson found him first and was totally beside himself, running circles around the cage, barking his voice hoarse.  The squirrel was freaking out, doing flips inside the cage, throwing himself against the door to no avail.  He was well and truly trapped.  Hubby and I were in a dither trying to coral the dog, release the squirrel and not get rabies in the process.  Nobody even thought about taking a picture.  This was like catching sand shark when I want to catch sea bass.

Next, I caught an opossum.
This time, I was ready with the camera. 

A face only a mother would love, still kind of cute in a possumy-sort-of-way.
This is like catching barracuda (think teeth) when I want to catch Dorado.

Tonight we have a plan to relocate the trap to a different area of the yard.  What will we catch next????  It seems "The Wild Kingdom" is living back there.  Last night, Super Son, got the scare of his life when something large, furry, and able to bound over hedges in a single leap came at him in the dark.  Being out after curfew has its own rewards.  He says he was watching the meteor shower....

Stay tuned for the next installment in

"Inland Fishing Experts Agree:  Skunks are hard to catch."

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Clock Is Ticking

Time is of the essence.
The faster I go, the behinder I get.
Haste makes waste.

Why is it that just when you want time to slow down, it speeds up, or vise versa.  I could really use some time-lapse glimpses of the future here, but no....things are moving like they are mired in clay. 

I have an agenda.
I'm in a hurry.
Hurry up and wait.

We're talking home reno here.  You know...it must be finished by mid-November. 
Yeah, right.

So, leaving the frenzic, frantic fits for another day--I am working on doing serenity. 
Peaceful thoughts.
Deep breaths.
Quiet tea breaks.

It will all come together, when it is meant to be. 
I will have a beautiful kitchen before hurricane season ends.
My house-home and my boat-home will have an even balance that only my fairy godmother can congure, and it will be perfect.

Now, on to something completely different: 

The Friday Follow Fun.

If you are new to Steadfast, grab a life vest and hang on.  You never know what's coming on the next big wave.  Leave some love in the comments box and I will get back at you.  I need all the encouragement you can muster.  Have a great weekend, Everybody.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Then and Now

Back in the early days of spring, the long-awaited shoreline protection project began next door. 

Hurrah!

We welcomed this endeavor, noisy and messy as it has been, because it stabilized our own crumbling protection and made for a more secure bank down to the water.  The many moods of Mother Nature in the 20-something years since we completed our own project, has resulted in significant loss of protection.  Erosion has stolen land from behind our 6-8 ton stones.  Things had shifted and moved.  Sinkholes had developed and we were getting discouraged.  

Here are some before and after shots.  Can you tell why we are ecstatic? 



Notice our shifted blocks, all askew....



This is the view looking down the bank before anything started,

and this is the view at the beginning of months of work.



Previous posts tried to convey the magnitude and scope of the project.  Truck loads by the hundreds either carted away brush and soil, or delivered rock, gravel, boulders, diggers, and other machinery to the site.  We
have given up trying to keep our windows clean, and I am careful about putting my sheets out to dry when it looks like flying dirt is imminent. 

Thanks, Sami Joe, for teaching me how to link my posts!!


The day finally came when we began to see progress:


Our crumbling corner had been pulled apart, repacked and then armored so thoroughly,
I think it would take a nuclear bomb to move it.

This is the patio next door, on the same level as our bank deck.  I am envisioning lots of neighbourliness happening in the coming years.


The project seems to be on hold for a time.  The man in charge of the stonework has become embroiled in another project.  He still has the stone stairs to put in on the sloping path.

In the meantime, the pool is being installed. 


Like I said, I am going to be very friendly with my new neighbors.

The saga continues....

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Christmas Spirit...AKA: Rumtoff

I know it's a long way off, but getting ready for Christmas is best done with a clear head, lots of counter space and right about now.  The sparkle and splash of the Festive Season begins in late December, but in this particular case, it can last all winter, especially if you are frugal and of a sober disposition.  The particular case of which I speak, is Rumtoff or Rum Pot.

My great, good friend Lesley first introduced me to this delightful concoction.  After I got good and hooked, she taught me how to do it for myself.  "It's dead easy," she would say, and she was right.  As per previous posts, you will already know that I am somewhat challenged in the kitchen department, and so it is no surprise that I need the "dead easy" type of recipes to follow.  This one meets the requirements, it is delicious, and a big favourite with my family and assorted visitors. 

For those who want the official rules, amounts and procedures, you can follow this on the web:  Rumtoff

For those who want to wing it, look at these pictures and try not to drool over the keyboard.

First, it's helpful to have a cherry pitter on hand.  This saves you time, but not a mess.  I dug out my vinyl apron for this project and when I was done, it, my hands, and my FACE were spattered with deep red cherry juice.  (Let's not talk about the counter tops and cabinets.)


When I first began making Rumtoff (Rum Pot), I strictly adhered to the official recipe.  Now, I only use cherries, as I don't like mushy, discoloured fruits and cherries always hold up deliciously.  This year, I splurged and added blueberries.  Sugar.  Rum.  What's not to like.


IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER
PLEASE READ CAREFULLY

This heavenly ambrosia takes desserts to an all new "high".  Use with caution, and keep out of reach of children.  If you have teenage boys at home, don't say I didn't warn you.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Tragedy Times Three

Number One:  So I'm a klutz and I fell down.  The tragedy (spoken as the ultimate Queen of Hyperbole) is that I ruined my fav pair of capris and mangled my knee.  The worst injury was to my pride, as people came running and I felt the consummate fool.


Number Two:  After surviving a work stint in super-hot Guatemala, and one in the African heat of Nigeria, these boots MELTED on a hot roof in Ontario after a day of installing solar panels.  Have you ever seen Bozo the Clown goose-stepping on a church roof?


Number Three:  One baby bird flying into a window is sad.  Two baby brother birds fatally colliding with a window together is truly a tragedy.  I will miss these lovely Goldfinches in my garden.


In the big scheme of things, these "tragedies" are minor incidents in a happy, healthy life.  Still, they should not go unmarked, noticed for their passing.  Life is a journey of twisted turnings, leading to the molding of character and stamina.  In the end, I will want to have seen it all, and cherished the joy and sadness of every moment.

What about you?  Have you remarked on any small joys or sadness recently? 

Sunday, August 1, 2010