Monday, January 31, 2011

Stream of Dreams Mural

In September, the kids and I painted wooden fish for a Stream of Dreams mural, during the World Rivers Day celebration in Burnaby, BC.
Painted fish
Painted fish
Painted fish
We were told to watch for our fish to be displayed on a fence in the park in the near future.  But we didn't return to the Fraser Foreshore Park.  At least, not until this weekend, when we went for a walk on the beautiful clear Sunday afternoon, and discovered our fish, in a Stream of Dreams mural.  We were happy to find our fish swimming happily in the stream:
Stream of Dreams mural
Stream of Dreams mural
Stream of Dreams mural
For more photos of this particular mural, see this page, or to learn more about the Stream of Dreams, see their website.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Insect Art - Painted Stick

On our trip to Otter Lake this summer, we found a stick which had insect tunnels all over it (under the bark, which had peeled off).  I brought it home, intending to paint it in contrasting colours to bring out the funky patterns the insects had carved.  I finally found the time this past week.  I think it turned out pretty neat.

I originally planned to paint in red (for the tunnels), and finish in contrasting black, but as I started painting the red, I came up with the idea of painting in red and yellow stripes, evocative of a poisonous snake, which the shape of the stick suggested.  So that's what I did, making sure to get deep into all the tunnels:
Poisonous snake stick painting
However, at this point, the tunnels were not very evident:
Stick closeup with insect tunnels
Until the black was painted on (brushing a light coat of black using the side or heel of the brush, so as to avoid filling the tunnels):
Painted stick with insect tunnels
I am pleased with the final results, although I am not sure where to display it.  For now, I have it sitting beside a large wooden eagle head carving and stone salmon carving, both of which we bought from real (successful) artists.  So there is a sort of loosely west coast nature theme to it, even if it doesn't look like any of our local snakes.
Final painted stick of poisonous snake
If I get any compliments, I'll give most of the credit to the insects, for creating their patterns in the first place.  All I did was recognize and highlight it for them, so their artwork would be enjoyed.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Rattie Boys Introduction

Our latest pet rat, Archie, is about 3 to 4 weeks old, and is now beginning to show that he is a male.  This is good news, since our poor boy Bear (who we hoped was a girl when we bought him 6 months ago) has been without a companion, and going crazy not being able to visit the 2 girls in the cage next door to him.

Rattie boys
I decided that I would let the boys sniff each other through the bars of the cage, and when it seemed friendly, I opened the door and let them sniff each other directly.  Archie fearlessly jumped into Bear's cage, and that was that.  We watched them for some time, and the interactions have been friendly, and unlike the girls (who still tousle often, ending with Sam on top, and Jen squeaking at her), the boys chased and sniffed each other.  In fact, our dear gentle giant Bear seemed a bit afraid of little Archie buzzing about and climbing on his tail.  Often, Bear retreated to the top of his food dish, watching Archie from above.

Boy rats Bear and Archie
So I secured the second platform which we picked up at the dollar store.  The original cage was designed for birds, thus the vertical bars and lack of accessories.  We borrowed the ladder from the girls' cage, since they easily climb or jump up to their platform without it.

Our two boy ratties
Bear seemed very interested in this new lower platform.  Archie was interested in everything, it was all new to him.  He figured out how to climb the vertical bars in no time, checking out the lower and Bear's upper platforms with no problem, not even bothering to use the ladder we provided.

It looks like a successful introduction.  Just in case Archie needs a place to retreat, we added a small tunnel which he can fit through but Bear can't.  But I don't think that will be necessary.

Here is a short video clip of the boys exploring together.  We are very happy for Bear that he finally has a friend to play with.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Five Year Blog Anniversary - and Thanks!

It's hard to believe I've been writing this garden blog for 5 years now.  It was my blog's 5 year anniversary this past week.  No hoopla.  No big giveaways.  But lots of good memories, photos and reflections on my garden to look back on occasionally, and an appreciation for the wonderful people I've "met" along the years, who share my love of plants and bugs and crafts and gardening.

I remember when I started my blog in January 2006, thinking that I would offer gardening advice and share my expanding plant knowledge.  My early posts included such advice as "Flowering Shrubs to Hide an Ugly Fence", and articles like "Mint : Lovely, useful and invasive!".

Very early on, I also discovered the joy of just posting "Garden Glimpses" or photographs of my garden and plants throughout the various seasons.  I still enjoy looking back on these, and comparing the garden and blooms from year to year.

In early 2007, I started my Garden Painting project, and posted my step by step series of additions to the painting, until I finally hung it on the wall, half finished, where it remains today, waiting for my next period of inspiration.

Early on, I used to track my visitors, and what searches led them to my blog.  Early on, it was photos and descriptions of my espalier trees which seemed to bring the most visitors.  Now, other than my regular readers, it seems to be Google Images searches which brings about 100 visitors per day.  Many who click further, and others who don't.

For the longest time, it felt like I was writing mostly to myself.  My brother checked occasionally whether I was making any progress on my garden painting, and then eventually gave up on me entirely.  Then somewhere along the line, I discovered the occasional joy of visitors to my blogs who actually left comments.  One of my first regular visitors and commenters I remember was Irena from My Roots Run Deep, a fellow Canadian gardener in the Toronto area.  I treasured those comments, which were a sign that someone "out there" actually cared enough to read or look at my posts.

I discovered the joy of reading and "following" other garden blogs, and leaving the occasionally comment to let them know, too, that someone cared and appreciated their posts.  Now I can spend entire evenings just following my regular blogs, and following their links and commenters to discover more good blogs to "follow".

In my reading, I discovered that although I loved reading about plants and enjoying photos of new plants (and bugs and crafts and recipes and photography...), I also enjoyed little glimpses into the blogger's world, their moments of pride or joy or sorrow, and quirky observations or discoveries or personal anecdotes they were willing to share.  That has helped to open up and share little quirky thoughts and experiences from my life also.  Whenever I have done so, I have felt very supported and encouraged by my regular readers and other blog visitors.  It is for EACH OF YOU that I am so very thankful, for you have enriched my life as I have poured a little of myself and my love of gardening into this blog for these past 5 years.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

New Baby in the House

My son often surprises me.  Recently he decided that he would like a pet rat of his own.

When we bought our three rats earlier this year (see posting of Sam, Jen, and Bear), he was hesitant to hold them, and we didn't force him.  Now that they are nearly full grown, they are a bit intimidating.  So although he feeds them through the bars of the cage, and touches them, he is scared to hold them.  I offered that he could start with a baby rat, which is not scratchy, and he could get used to it.

Today we went to the pet store, so my son could try holding them.  I didn't expect that he would be ready on the first visit, but he found a rat he liked, held it, and decided to bring it home.  So we did.

He doesn't have a name quite yet, but that will come soon.  But he (at least we're hoping it is a boy, but not sure about it) is very cute.

We hope this latest little rattie is a boy, so Bear (who turned out to be a boy, so is in a second cage on his own) will have a companion.  Sam and Jen also have room in their cage, but since they already have each other, don't really need another friend.  But we're okay either way.  We'll find out in another 4 weeks or so.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Making Room for New Furniture - I'm Still So Excited

A most amazing thing happened a few days before Christmas.  We were driving back from a dinner with friends, and we passed our sofa (something told me this was the one!) in the window of a furniture store.  I shouted to my husband to circle the block again, and I wrote down the name and phone number (they had a Grand Opening sign) of the store, before we continued home.

The next morning, Dec 23, I phoned the store, and we arrived there in the afternoon, to check out their furniture offering, and ended up buying the whole living room of furniture before we left the store (which is very amazing for us, usually we need to go home and analyse and measure and think about it some more).  But after 6 1/2 years in our house, looking for the perfect furniture to match our living room, suddenly we had found it.

I am still giddy with excitement, and thanking God for that chance drive-by.  We have been shopping on and off for a long time, and not quite finding what we were looking for.  Disappointingly close, but the colours or fabrics or something was always wrong.  This one is beautiful, with a neutral-tone floral tapestry fabric, and intricately carved mahogany:

If you are thinking that we sound like spoiled people, you are absolutely right.  We are very blessed, with consistently good health, great jobs, a wonderful kids and supportive extended family, a spacious and beautiful home we designed and built, and many good opportunities in life.  We are VERY blessed, and we know it.

We arrived back from our trip to Otter Lake on Jan 2, and had the furniture delivered Jan 3.  So that meant tearing down and chopping the beautiful Christmas tree, which this year was amazingly fresh, even though on our instruction my Mom, who was watching the house for us, didn't water it the whole week we were gone.  It took us about 3 hours that night, before we could go to bed.  Here's the tree on Christmas Eve, before we tore into the presents:
That morning, our living room was bare again (as it is most of the year), with only the piano on one side:
Then came the furniture:

It is everything I had hoped.  I don't even mind that it is quite floral, since the colours are so neutral.  The fabric is really strong, it looks like it will last 40 years or more.  I know, since it is similar to the fabric on my first sofa, which has survived some 18 years as our main sofa, and when we bought our set of 4 LaZBoys for the family room this summer, we moved the old sofa into the basement, since it still looks as good as new.

The neutral tones, and pink highlights in the floral pattern are very similar to our dining room set.  The wood styling / carving is also very similar, although a bit more reddish in tone.

Now we just need to buy a rug (I think that would tie it together nicely, and soften the look of the wood floor), some lamps, and we are done.  Hopefully it won't take another couple of years.  ;-)
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