St. Bernard, Nova Scotia
The beautiful Indian Summer weather continues, with no end in the forecast. The sky is the clear, haze-less blue that you only see at this time of the year, and temperatures are cool in the mornings, but pleasantly warm in the afternoons. There is no suggestion of any rain in the foreseeable future, of course.
The trees have started to change to their fall colours. The big-leaf maples don't change colour en-masse, as the sugar maples do down east, and they don't turn red at all. Instead, each leaf seems to decide independently when it is going to change colour. One by one, the leaves gradually turn yellow then brown from the edges in towards the centre. An individual leaf can have concentric rings of brown, yellow and green, and an entire tree can be partly green and partly yellow.
Our biggest maple, down at the back of the meadow, is mostly green at the bottom, and mostly yellow on top. Towards the end of Fall, when two-thirds of the leaves have fallen, we may get a few days when the remaining leaves are all yellow, which can be spectacular in the right light.
Other trees starting to change colour are the Virginia creeper, which is bright scarlet right now, and the mountain ash, which is just starting to turn orange.
Most of our cedars are changing colour too. That is not a result of Autumn, but a response to the prolonged drought. About half the needles on all the cedars have turned brown. If the trees can recover over the winter, they will grow replacement needles in the spring. However, this is the second year in a row that this has happened. There is only so much stress that they can take, and, at some point, they will simply not recover.
I have finished building the ramp between the cats' shelter on the deck and the outdoor pen. It includes a cat-door where it joins the shelter on the deck, with a remotely controlled lock. By leaning out the window and pulling on two strings, we can open and close the door and lock and unlock it. The purpose is to prevent the kitties from bringing uninvited reptillian guests into the house. Think of it as going through Security screening before they can enter. For the time being, since it is too cold for snakes to be out and about, we are not implementing the security checks. In the spring, however, we may require them to carry photo ID.
Owen discovered the ramp immediately, and now happily runs in and out whenever he wants. Liesl is more cautious, and took a while to check out the ramp before using it. She also had to work around Owen's possessiveness. He thought the pen was his, and he initially wouldn't let her use the ramp, blocking the entrance by sitting in front of it. She got around that by waiting until he was asleep indoors before going out. Now they both use it.
This afternoon, we attended a book-launch for our neighbour Des Kennedy's new book, at the Community Hall. His readings are always popular, and the event was standing-room only. Des read a chapter from his book, which is set mostly in Ireland, and then presented a beautiful slide show on great Irish gardens. Because of the Irish theme and the fact that the proceeds of the event were being donated to our new health centre, our three Denman Island doctors opened the proceedings dressed as leprechauns, singing "When Irish Eyes are Smiling". A bit cheesey, but fun nonetheless.
Denman Diary is a day late this week because we were hosting our annual Thanksgiving dinner last night. It is our favourite holiday, because it is so universal - everyone has a lot to be thankful for.
We had three other couples over for a potluck vegan dinner. It was a fine meal of roast potatoes, squash, beets, walnut-pecan "meat"balls, dressing, cranberry sauce and apple sauce. For dessert, we had a coconut lemon Bundt cake.
We got out the good china and the silverware and it was a fine looking spread. Unfortunately, you will have to use your imagination because, although I had the camera ready, the conversation was so stimulating that I clear forgot to take any pictures!
On Friday evening, we attended a talk by famous eco-activist Starhawk, in the back hall of the Community Hall. A lot of people turned out to hear her, and the hall was filled to capacity. Over capacity, actually, as I am quite sure that there were more people there than fire regulations permitted.
It was a good talk. Starhawk recounted several of her experiences working for various causes, and the lessons she learned from them. She certainly has a broad range of experience and a talent for bringing different groups together.
Our cats are now both using their pen regularly, and without much friction between them. It is quite a relief not to have Owen in particular nagging to go out. He actually still spends a large part of the day sleeping indoors, but, when the mood hits him, he can go outside without asking.
There have been no successful escapes in a while, but we have had some break-ins. Java, our neighbour's cat from across the street, is a frequent visitor to our deck, and our cats know him, though they are not particularly friendly with him. He, however, wants to get to know them better, and he has learned to climb the fence into their pen. A couple of times, Liesl and Owen have come dashing in from outdoors, looking with alarm over their shoulders, with Java hot on their heels. He hasn't actually come into the house through the cat door - it's a bit small for him - but he did come up the ramp into our cats' deck enclosure. Some more enhancements may be in the works.
A few times, we have invited Java into the house because he seemed lonesome and to try some supervised interactions between the cats. Owen and Liesl weren't interested in interacting, but Java was happy to stay and be petted. He is a handsome all-black cat.
This week, Wendy flew down east to Nova Scotia to visit her parents. She left me well-supplied with food in the fridge, however, the cats and I miss her! No doubt I will have to do some cooking in the next two weeks.
The big story this week is that the rainy season has finally started. We have had 49 mm of rain this week, and more is in the forecast for next week. The cisterns are about 90% full.
In fact, I finally had enough water to test my plumbing for the overflow pipe on the new tank. I discovered that the overflow pipe siphons the water level down a couple of hundred gallons. Effectively, 2000 + 1 = 1800. Not good. Fortunately, the fix required only a minor rebuild of a small section of the pipe to allow air to enter it. I did that, and now it should be ready for any amount of rain.
While I was in plumbing mode, I made a small dust-collection system for the workshop. It has built-in connections from the shop-vac to my various saws and sanders. Rather than making a lot of dust while I work and then having to clean it up afterwards, the system can now vacuum up the dust as I create it, which is much more satisfactory.
Another project was making covers for the rear seat headrests in the car. They may not be much to look at, but the complex shapes, especially of the middle one, required a lot of fiddly sewing. Since the two larger headrests have to be stowed under the front seats any time the rear seat is folded down (which is most of the time), it is important that they have covers to protect them from floor dirt. We plan on keeping this car for 20 years, so protecting the upholstery is important.
My final project this week is to start finishing a new door for the main floor bathroom in the house. The old door is a cheap slab door that is rather the worse for wear. The new one is a rather handsome one made of knotty pine. So far, I have it cut to size, and drilled and mortised for the hardware. With any luck, I might have pictures next week.
This coming week promises to be an interesting one for the community association. The executive have been disregarding the wishes of the membership for a couple of months, and things look like they are ready to hit the fan tomorrow night. I will have to see if the hardware store sells asbestos underwear. No doubt, there will be stuff to report next week.
Ths week, the weather has been intermittently rainy and dry.
The fall colours here are subdued compared to those down east. Still, they have their own beauty. By the time the big-leaf maples reach the all-orange colour phase visible in this picture, they have already lost about two thirds of their leaves. WIth the rain and wind storms that we are getting every few days, no doubt the rest of the leaves will be gone soon.
My project this week has been finishing the new door for the main floor bathroom. The cutting and drilling work that I started last week were quite accurate, if I do say so myself. However, the door frame wasn't. (No surprise there!) It turns out that, to fit the frame properly, the two hinge mortises had to be different depths. However, with that adjustment accomplished, the door fit perfectly. It is a big improvement over the plain slab that was there before.
A friend of ours, Velda Parsons, is quite a talented painter. This weekend, she had her first ever public showing of her work at the local Arts Centre. It was quite a successful show, with lots of visitors and quite a lot of sales. Wendy is still in Nova Scotia, but, thanks to email and permission from the artist to photograph some of her work, we decided on a painting to buy.
The community association meeting that I mentioned last week took place on Monday. There were fewer fireworks than I anticipated, but tensions are high and trust is low. No doubt we are in for interesting times.
The cats are not impressed with the cooler, rainier weather. They especially don't like wind. They haven't been using their nice outdoor pen nearly as much as normal. In fact, they spend most of their time sleeping. They are getting quite good at it. They miss their Mum.
Happily for all of us, Wendy will be back on Saturday.
Copyright © 2013 Keith Walker
Last modified: 20-May-2013