Saturday, July 25, 2020

That's More Like It

This is what sailing should be. A bit of wind but not too much, a nice flat surface, warm sunshine, puffy white clouds and Lake Erie virtually to ourselves. This was early yesterday morning before the Poets Day crowds headed out.  Just one plane far above us .....

......a few friendly fisherman, fat Canada geese going bottoms up and a welcome shortage of power boats. About time we had some good luck.

Monday, July 20, 2020

Rural Crime: Not the End of the Story

 If I never see another tomato plant it will be too soon. Another nibbled green tomato bit the dust yesterday.  I checked the nets yet again for any possible entry points. We decided to move the tomatoes to the back and put them on the garden table. Then it started to rain. And it rained cats and dogs, though fortunately not chipmunks. The wind got up and howled around the house to add to the effect. We decided to wait till after supper.   After supper it stopped raining and we went out on our mission. "Uh oh" said Hubby. The tomato plants had been blown off their their perches and were lying on the ground in a heap of dirt and yes, fallen green tomatoes. Meanwhile the New Batch (here's a couple of them.)

were leaning over the parapet, splitting their sides laughing.
  It is useless, useless! trying to fight nature here. The other evening something upturned every single ornamental rock on the edges of the flowerbeds and left them strewed about the grass. One good thing, the place was free of slugs for a day or so. But it was still a cheek. Oh and a tree fell down in the back missing the arch by half an inch but with the hummingbird vine and a baby maple tree as collateral damage. 

So now, to our growing felon list: deer, woodchucks, turkeys, skunks, rabbits, chipmunks, mice, slugs, wasps, Japanese beetles, mosquitoes, we now have to add the weather. This is western New York. What did we expect? 

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Rural Crime: No More Mr Sweet Guy

Yes there he is - ahhh how sweet! Our little outdoor friend who looks appealingly up at me, cadging peanuts, along with his little accomplice -er, pal - from the other side of the porch. There have been many generations of Chippy, Chipster, Chipolata et al, scampering around our property - I've rescued them from marauding cats, once splashed water over one that had been KO-d after an inter-chipmunk spat. How could you not love them?

  Well things are changing. Fast. I forgave them the network of tunnels under the flowerbeds that makes me think the foundations of our garden must now resemble Swiss cheese. I even forgave them when I spotted them sneaking the odd blueberry or two. But now I realise that I've been emphatically played for a fool.
  Let me back up a bit and the purchase of a fine tomato plant covered in promising yellow flowers which I ensconced in its container on the maximum sunny spot in front of the garage. I fed, watered, tended, observed the little tomatoes growing. Then I noticed one lying on the ground. I blamed the fat woodchuck I'd seen waddling across the back lawn. When the same thing happened the next day I blamed the rabbit I'd spotted in the front. Easy, said hubby, we'll just move them indoors overnight. So we did. And next day in broad daylight there was another fallen tomato with just one bite taken out. Next came the nets. Same thing. It was then that I realised there could only be one culprit. Or one culprit and his accomplice. Easy, said hubby, we'll mount the tomatoes on an upturned dustbin with smooth slippery sides. The next day another forlorn tomato with just one bite taken out. They can jump I noted. OK, said hubby, if we sit the pot on the net and tie the net up at the top like a gift hamper... The next day, same thing. Stripes had found a tiny hole at the top of the net. How, I can't imagine. I have now got every green twist tie I can find and stitched those nets up. Goodness knows how we'll ever get the tomatoes out when we want them for ourselves. It's probably an academic question. Because there won't be any left.

Thursday, July 9, 2020

UnBEARable (Yet Again)

Dateline: Cattaraugus County, western New York state

Walking up the lane early this morning - one of those days when the sun was doing its fairytale thing,

I met my neighbour coming the other way. We usually pass each other in the morning and wave a socially distancing hello, "I forgot to tell you", he said. Up there where the road goes uphill. I saw something crossing the road. I thought it was a dog, said to myself, 'that's one big dog'. Then I realised it was a bear!" 
  "A bear!" I squealed, "WOW! "
  "Yep, I'd say around 400 pounds."
"When was this?"
Oh I'd say a week or so ago.."
"A week!" Not ten years ago then. "You know I've been in America 16 years now", I said wistfully, "and I haven't seen a single bear."
"Well you don't want to get too close.."
 Alas just about everyone I know around here has seen a bear except me. And I was walking up there last week too. Of course if I do ever spot one, I won't be able to get the phone to work or it will be switched off or something. Or I'll find myself in the one dangerous black bear scenario, separating a mother from her cubs and have to play dead and pray.

  Well there are always the Highland cattle round the corner.

They must be hot. It's going to be 92 degrees today.

 And this  morning when I looked out into the back garden there was a woodchuck*.

The biggest, fattest woodchuck I've ever seen. Fortunately just eating grass, not the flowers. Though who knows what he'd been up to earlier.  I mentioned it to hubby later,
   "It was this big!"
  "Sure it wasn't a bear?"
  "No, wrong colour."

* Sadly not my photo

Monday, July 6, 2020

Just Not Our Sailing Year

You'd think sailing out in the fresh air and sunshine would be one thing we could enjoy in these pesky times. But life is never that simple. So far we've tried to take Titanic 2 out on Lake Erie four times. The first time there was zero wind. We motored for a bit but then there was nothing for it but to come back to the Marina.

The second time there was too much wind. Even with just the jib up. We were thrown around horribly and I actually felt seasick, which is unusual for me. I did manage to get one lop-sided photo.

But then there was nothing for it but to come back to the Marina.
  Where I was set upon by an irate mother duck. Hey, whose dock is it anyway?

After my experience last year with the sadistic swan at Sumter I am naturally wary of waterfowl. But after a bit she relented and paddled off with the family.

The third time there was too much wind again. There was nothing for it but to stay in the Marina.
Finally, the fourth time, last Friday, the weather was perfect. Sunshine, wind at 10 knots. We were all set for an idyllic sail. At last. Then hubby tried to start the engine. The choke was stuck open. We twiddled  and pushed and shoved but all to no avail. Even hubby's perennial cure-all, "Get a bigger hammer" didn't work. The chap who could possibly have fixed it was away for the Fourth of July. There was nothing for it but to stay in the Marina. Again. Open the back of the Volvo and have a picnic and pretend we were at Henley Regatta. The young seagull thought it was all very funny.

"If it's any consolation", I said, "I think the wind's getting up." 
"Yes", said hubby, "the wind's getting up".
 "Wouldn't be much fun."
"No it wouldn't."
But we weren't convinced.

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Oh No! Here We Go Again!

Just as we were sighing with relief that Chirpy, Cheepy and Chuffy had vacated the premises unscathed, we're now going to have new squatters to worry about.

You'd think motion detector lights above constantly opening and closing garage doors would not be the best choice for a tranquil nursery. But clearly, having put a lot of time and effort into building, the robins want their moneysworth. We hung a perfectly good nesting box up in the tree but evidently no one's interested in that. Social housing - huh!
  In the meantime it's a quiet Fourth of July though I have entered into the spirit by constructing a patriotic trifle - red white and blue, which will do for both of our countries. Unfortunately I ran out of raspberries so it looks more like Tottenham Hotspur colours. That was not the intention.