Monday, 29 July 2013

Long Point - Weekend with Hooking friends

About four times a year a group of us get together for food, drink, shopping, rug hooking, fun and most of all friendship.  This past weekend was one of those times. Pam, Pat, Heather and Lynn came to the cottage and we sadly missed Peggy who stayed home to celebrate her husbands birthday with the family (it was one of those milestone birthdays). Whenever we get together we make a heck of a mess as rug hooking is not a nice tidy hobby.

On these weekends we each take responsibility for a meal and so get to taste a great variety. We always have requests for each others recipes and have talked of creating a recipe book , unlikely, but recipes will be emailed out in the next week or so.

If I looked at the pictures of our past get togethers I would have a wonderful history of our hooking projects and I am now getting more conscientious about taking those pictures

Pam was finishing a rug of her own design commemorating all the "weener" dogs she has owned.

Heather was working on the J Js contribution to the PanAm games. The OHCG is hoping to have a rug for every one of the participating countries. Although Heather wasn't thrilled about the pattern she "soldiered" on and the moose and beaver turned out well. She can now pass the pattern on to the next volunteer.

Pat was working on a "proddy" rug for her renovated bathroom.  Proddy involves cutting material into small rectangles and prodding it through the backing. The picture above shows the back. The one below shows the front.

Lynn was recreating a card as a small mat, in spite of the red wine that spilled on it in transit. Luckily she planned to hook the background in red wine colour.
Along with the food and hooking, we also sat outside and were entertained by the kite boarders who came to the beach in droves on Sunday

Oh yes, and I was working on my Race Night Port Dover rug that I started about three years ago. Id like to finish it this winter.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Honey Harbour - Cottaging on an island with Ospreys.

Our cottage/home was rented for a week so we visited with our ex-neighbours at their island cottage near Honey Harbour. We drove up taking back roads. It takes longer but its much more pleasant. We went through an area with Mennonite farms, passed some buggies on the road and George wondered, out loud, if they can use mechanized farm equipment. Within minutes we saw 3 rakes, each pulled by two horses, being used to turn hay.

Aimee met us at the dock and took us the 5minute boat ride to the island. Aimee and Greg's grandchildren were there so we had a taste of grand-parenting for 3 days. Aimee and Greg are the best grandparents: homemade chocolate ice cream, swimming naked, exploring the rock island across the bay, fishing, swimming some more, picnic at the shore for lunch every day ....... I have to say it was exhausting but so much fun.
The water is very shallow, perfect for children to swim in. Aimee and Greg have a foam platform,
called an Aqua Lily Pad,that is great for kids to climb on and jump off.
There are also two floating chairs to hide under and get tipped off.
After the kids left we could get down to some serious relaxing, interspersed with kayaking, walking the boardwalk to the dock and swimming. We had great fun with Aimee and Greg, playing cards, great meals and caught up on each others lives and families.
George and I took a long kayak in choppy weather and it was a great work out - good excuse
to relax the rest of the day.
The boardwalk from the dock to the cottage is quite long and getting longer as the lake levels drop.
 Greg has measured it and Aimee recons that if she walks to the dock and back 6 times
she's gone a mile.
Their cottage, otherwise known as "Heaven".
Although there are lots of cottages around, it seems very private and, especially when kayaking in the bays and marshes, there is lots of wildlife around.
A Merganser with 18 babies.

The tragedy of the week occurred during the violent thunder and wind storm that came through the area on Friday afternoon and evening. We had been working on a wood working project and had to scurry to get everything put away. The shallow bay whipped up into huge waves sending the aluminium boat bucking like a bronco. Trees bent and broke, the canvas top of the gazebo ripped off, the kayaks came adrift, the flag pole was knocked to the ground. But worst of all; the Osprey nest with 2 babies in it was destroyed. I had been taking pictures of the Osprey family all week
The nest sits on a pole that is about 50ft from the dock.
There is always one adult on guard at the nest while the other forages. At least a couple of times
a day, one of the adults would fly back to the nest carrying a fish. Aimee and Greg have also
seen them bring back small rodents, snakes and even a young beaver.

Aimee and Greg have had the cottage for about 10 years and Ospreys have always nested on the pole. They raise from 1 to 3 young and its quite exciting seeing them learn to fly. This is the second time a storm has taken out the nest and Aimee is going to contact the Osprey Society, that maintains the nesting sites, to see if they can install some sort of rim to try and give the young more protection.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Fort Erie - Friendship Trail East

Our second day at Mum and Dad's wasn't any better weatherwise than the first but we decided to bike anyway - got to keep up the training. It was hot, very windy and felt (and looked) like it was going to rain at any moment, but it didn't.
We rode to the trail and this time turned left (East) under the Peace Bridge.

The trail then follows the road through a small commercial area made up mostly of Chinese Restaurants. In the Parking Lot of one of them is this Historical Plaque. My kids will tell you, I have to read every bit of information made available to me: art gallery title and artist cards, museum information cards and any historical markers I may come across.
So, who knew, that J.L.Kraft was born in Stevensville. Admit it, you don't even know where Stevensville
is. He worked in Fort Erie but unfortunately didn't invent his cheese processing technique 'til
he was living in the States.
Continuing on with the Historical Markers, it was not even a block before I found one commemorating one of the many ferries that crossed the Niagara River before the Peace Bridge, Niagara Falls Bridge and Queenston Bridge spanned the River.

A nearby Park Plaque indicated that these ferries were a vital last link for the Underground Railway.
Freedom Park
We continued, cycling on the road, past some lovely old homes that looked across the river to the American side. Further on there was a mix of huge new homes (most of them for sale) and small older, almost cottagy homes. They are all on good size lots with well tended gardens and huge lawns.
Across the river to the American side.
As we came out of Fort Erie, the riverside had frequent boat ramps and places for people to fish. There were also plenty of other creatures fishing, cormorants and herons.

This enterprising heron was fed by the fisherman whenever his catch was too small,
smart bird!
We were able to get off the road and cycle on the service roads which were linked by bike trail, with bridges over the little creeks going down to the river. Now we were on the Niagara River Trail that goes all the way to Niagara on the Lake.

We cycled for an hour and a half and went 21km. Still more training necessary.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Fort Erie - Friendship Trail west.

Two of Christine's friends are honeymooning at the cottage for a few days so we are visiting Mum and Dad in Fort Erie. After a trip to Buffalo, to a fabulous cheese shop and a lunch of fabulous cheese, we decided to work it off with a bike ride. Mum and Dad live very close to the Friendship Trail which is a great bike trail along Lake Erie and the Niagara River.
A block from Mum and Dad's apartment finds us at the Trail on the Lake, looking across at the Buffalo skyline.

Peace Bridge from the Friendship Trail
The Lake narrows down into the Niagara River at this point and with all the rain it is pretty full and has a visibly fast current. Biking west we came next to Old Fort Erie, the real Fort Erie.
There were people in period costume but I didn't get off my bike in time to get their picture.
The trail then winds along the shore in front of houses and cottages that look out over the Lake and Buffalo. Some are obviously new builds but many are still either little cottages or renos of little cottages. Its odd to have this cottage community looking over to the urban cityscape. Next the trail dips down into a shaded, park like area with ruins and old foundations along the shore. This was the site of the Erie Beach amusement park and there are information displays with old pictures, beside the trail. Its was a hugely popular draw in its day, had a ferris wheel, dance hall, ferry to Buffalo and looking at the photos you can almost smell the popcorn and cotton candy.

Next is Waverly Beach with a little park area.  There were kids walking along the cement pier remains and people seated on the sand.

The trail goes through residential areas, on extra wide sidewalks, and wooded areas.

We saw a couple of young rabbits, a snake and lots of squirrels as well as walkers, bikers
roller bladers.
At every street there are stop signs and a sign with the rules of the Trail. On the road there are
signs cautioning about the presence of pedestrians and bikers.

It was very hot and humid and we were glad to go back to a cool shower and Mum and Dad's air conditioned apartment. We biked for 65 minutes and went 18km. For the Tri Tri in Toronto I will need to do at least 20km an hour - got some more training to do!

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Long Point - Growing in Sand cont.

Last "Growing in Sand" post I wrote about the multitude of Yucca (I don't know if there's an s on the plural or if it's like Cacti) on the property. All of the beach end dune (we call it zone 3 as it was the last of the 3 dunes to be developed and they do each have their own micro climate) Yucca are now in flower and are quite impressive.
They have been joined by the lilies. Most of the lilies on the property are the orange "ditch lilies" that are everywhere in Southern Ontario. Driving the farm roads we see huge banks of them, in and around the ditches, making a beautiful orange display against whatever is planted in the fields beside them. Our ditch lilies don't grow as well as that. They are slow to multiply and only produce a couple of stalks per plant. I am sure that is related to the scarcity of nutrients and water, in the sand, compared to the farm ditches. However, they still give a nice splash of colour in an environment that does not easily produce flowers.
Lilies in Zone 1. George planted a few here last year and they have all survived, though struggling.
Lilies in Zone 2, beside the propane tank. Most of these are in their second summer. Many of these
came from Si and Dan's property beside the Lyyn River and it is amazing that they have adapted
to such a different location.
Lilies in Zone 1. These are actually right beside the road, not on a dune. They are doing
very well because they receive run off from the road and from the driveway, closer to
their natural habitat, ditches.
We have not actually taken any lilies from ditches. Some came from Si and Dan's, some from Terry and Patti's, across the street as they were levelling their yard and some from the Paris house. I also bought other varieties down from the Paris house and most did OK except the Tiger lilies that just disappeared after a couple of seasons here.
Next to the garage. I guess its Zone 1 as its pretty protected and gets lots of water.
When I was researching what would grow here I discovered that there are some Mediterranean plants that can tolerate our winters. They like the sand and good drainage.
Thyme growing very happily in Zone 2.
Lavender in flower. In Zone 1, beside the rain barrel so it gets lots of water. We have
lavender planted in other parts of Zone 1 and 2 but it does best here.
Zone 1: the dune closest to the road, beside the road and beside the garage. This is relatively sheltered from the wind and parts of it get run off from the driveway and the garage.
Zone 2: the dune in the middle, beside the propane tank. Plantings are mostly on the lee side of the dune so it is still relatively protected from the wind. Aside from natural rainfall, George waters them when it is very dry.
Zone 3: even the lee side gets battered by wind in all 4 seasons. The wind also makes it a drier area.
All 3 zones are entirely sand.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Long Point - Canada Day and Growing in Sand - Yuccas

For the last few years we have been unable to have our "Annual Canada Day Party" as it conflicted with the Lake Erie Interclub race. We did manage one on the August long weekend: "Too late for Canada Day Party", but sometimes didn't manage to get our act together for it at all. This year the Interclub was over early and we got our invites out before we left on the race, some by e-mail, some hand delivered in Paris, Port Dover and around Long Point.
Chris and Teri arrived on Saturday and Jason on Sunday. We had some impressive fire works displays on the beach both nights.
I had even less success capturing the beach fireworks than I did with the Dunneville display.
On Sunday night Chris said it was "overstimulating" as we were sitting outside with a fire going, watching 3 different firework displays, fireflies in the trees in front of the cottage and another group were sending aloft the little paper balloons with lighted candles.
Canada Day was grey with occasional sprinkles of rain. We stubbornly sat outside pretending it wasn't raining. George spread all the plastic chairs out to keep the "throngs at bay", even though we knew that with the weather, there would be no crowds. Lots of flags around the property.
We are never sure how many will come. One year we peaked at about 60 but that was on a lovely sunny day. People started arriving around noon. So nice to see my sister, Nicky and brother-in-law, Dave, who came early, from Guelph. People arrived gradually, filling the front deck and filling the dining room table with food contributions .
Local friends and Mum
Some of the Port Dover contingent.
Part of the Paris contingent
We talked (about work, sailing, crafting, friends who have passed away, the past, the future etc etc) drank, had a private wool felting demonstration, ate a changing array of food, walked the beach taking pictures, and BBQed off and on for about 4 hours. In total about 32 people came and the last left in the early evening. Book ended by family; my sister, one of the first to arrive, my brother and his family, one of the last. Fun time, in spite of the weather!

Growing in Sand
On a different note, I noticed today that the first yucca is in bloom. When we first bought the cottage, 13 years ago, Georges mother, Berniece, gave us a yucca from her garden, that had never bloomed. It survived the first few years of moving it around and even got bulldozed a couple of times but lives on; blooming and multiplying. Since that one I have been given a number of yuccas and even took some from a cottager who had dug them up and piled them for burning. We have a "yucca nursery" along the drip line of the garage and split those yuccas every spring.
The yucca nursery.
The only yucca I actually purchased is a veragated variety and doesn't produce
flowers or babies as well as the plain ones. 
This year we have a total of 29 yuccas flowering. The spikes start out like large asparagus spears and grow very rapidly to a height of 3 or 4 feet.
At full height and starting to branch out and bud. A couple of them, like this one,
 have a reddish tinge to the stems though most have green.
Starting to bud into flower.
Producing beautiful globular white flowers.
I don't know how many yuccas we have on the property but they seem to love the sand and put down very long, vertical roots to get the scarce water. They usually maintain some green through the winter and look quite interesting peeking their spiky leaves up through the snow.