Wednesday, June 24, 2009

My Little Star

I am so proud of my girl, she did a wonderful job a her recital tonight!

What do you think?:

P.S. Singing starts at 0:22, this is my first YouTube upload, so I couldn't figure out how to edit out the first 22 seconds.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Another Baby Stick Bug

Today I found a fifth baby stick bug on the side of the cage (the other 4 already being on the blackberry branch). What surprises me is the relatively large size when they are first born. Here he is on my pinky finger:
Newly born walking stick bug
Sure, he looks small, but in comparison to the size of the egg , the stick bug's body is much more than twice the length of the egg, not to mention its long legs! See photo below, where the brown egg is on the leaf, the newborn stick bug is on the edge of the leaf, and a 3+ wk old baby is to the left of it:
Baby stick bugs and stick bug egg
How does he fit inside the egg before he hatches out? I would be really curious to see one hatching, to find out how it manages to unfold or lengthen itself as or after it comes out.

By the way, the upward curl in the stick bug's tail indicates that the stick bug is agitated. In this case, I had just moved it to the leaf for the photo. Once it settles, it straightens its tail.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Stick Bug Surprise

I had a funny incident with my stick bugs this morning. On the way back from walking the kids to school, I clipped a fresh blackberry branch to replace the dying branch in my stick bug cage. The adult male was on the ceiling of the cage, so I pulled out and held the old branch (with the 4 babies) over the sink while I replaced the water in the container and stuck the new branch into the cage.
Adult male and baby stick bugs
Then I carefully transferred the baby sticks one by one to the new branch. But to my dismay, I could only find 3 stick bugs, not 4 (and I had even hoped for more!). I searched for some time, leaving the old branch on the bottom of the cage, just in case I had missed the 4th baby stick but it was still there.

Then since I was getting ready for an appointment, I brushed my teeth, changed my shirt (including cutting off the tags since it was the first time I wore it), checked my phone messages (replaying one of them a few times, to get the phone number), wrote an email, and then stopped at the washroom before I headed out the door.

While on the potty, I felt something tickling my shoulder. Good thing I have a pretty strict look-before-you-slap policy, because, to my astonishment, it was the baby stick bug. He must have climbed up my arm while I held that old branch over the sink. But how he managed to cling onto me while changing my shirt and all the other activities (which was probably 20 minutes' worth) is a mystery to me. But I was very pleased to be able to return him to his cage before going to my appointment. Much better than if I had discovered him while at the appointment!

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Fairy House and Hot Tub - Why Not?

I am still having fun expanding on our fairy garden, and recently installed a "pool" and "hot tub". I found some blue acrylic dishes which serve the purpose, and filled them with water. What do you think?

Fairy house and garden - now with pool
Fairy house from above
To see more photos of the fairy house, including its construction, click the "fairy house" link on the left margin on the blog or click here.

Lately, whenever I have a chance, even if its late in the evening or on Saturday mornings, I find myself in the garden pulling weeds. But please don't feel sorry for me, I love pulling weeds, and find it very therapeutic. I wish I remembered to take a few more "before" photos, because I love to see my progress. Recently, it was clearing under the fruit trees again, here is a "before" of the base of my apple tree:
Base of apple tree in weeds
...and an "after" photo:
Base of apple tree after weeding
The trick with weeding is not to try to do it all in one day. For me, I just tackle one spot at a time, and do what I can, enjoying the hard work, and the satisfaction of seeing the improvement. I'm not worried that I will never "keep up". There will always be lots to do, which is not a problem for me.

Of course, there are other rewards of gardening along the way. The strawberries are just starting to get ripe, and I have lots of strawberry plants this year:
Strawberry plant
I started last week to sample the occasional one while gardening. But tonight when I went out to put on a sprinkler, I found enough to bring in a handful for the kids:
Handful of strawberries
The raspberries will also not be long now, I can see the green berries forming. Sweet!

Sunday, June 07, 2009

To Everything There is a Season

As the writer of Ecclesiastes wrote: "To everything there is a season" (Eccl 3:1). That is certainly evident within the garden. There is a season to plant, to harvest, to prune, to deadhead, to divide. And in each season, a new wonder is revealed. The bright tender shoots of Spring. The glorious blooms of Summer. The brilliant colours of Fall. The interesting textures of Winter.

I didn't always appreciate this. It used to be that in my ideal world, all plants would come to bloom (or foliage, depending on what I preferred), and just remain in their full glory year round. Like in my garden painting (which I still plan to complete one day, but in the meantime decorates our loft area), where all plants are blooming at the same time (which any gardener knows doesn't happen like this).

But the garden has been teaching me to appreciate the seasons and the successive revelations of foliage and flowers. One glorious display wanes and then gives way to a different one. Always different. Always new.

About a week ago, I noticed that the Solomon's seal was coming to the end of its flowering stage. The fuzzy bumblebees had stopped showing interest in the flowers, which dropped when the branch was touched:
Solomon's seal
It was time to remove the branches, and reveal the iris, still unopened, hiding in between:
Irises in bud
Now a week later, the irises are providing their own wonderful display of colour:
Irises in bloom
Over time and in its quiet way, the garden has been teaching me to accept and embrace seasons and change, and even, in some way, my own mortality. In the same way, motherhood has also been working on me to understand and accept this circle of life. Where once I was only focussed on my personal ambitions and accomplishments, now I instead rejoice and share in the accomplishments of my children.

My daughter came home on Friday with the news that she was the top in her class in the Grade 4 Abel Math contest. I remember not so long ago being top in my class, and by Grade 10, place within the top 10 in the province, in the math contests. But now it is her turn (although I am careful to let her know that I don't expect any particular results from her, that I am already proud of her for just joining the Math club, and for trying). I am happy to rejoice that it is her "season" to excel. As it will soon by my son's. And I look forward to the day that their own unique display of abilities and accomplishments will succeed and outshine mine.
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