Surf and Turf

Apparently the term “Turf and Surf” has been around since 1961. It has taken me 54 years to know about it and figure out what it means. As I’m sure everyone else in the world already knows, “Turf and Surf” refers to meals of meat and fish, especially when speaking of steak and lobster.

Yesterday the Captain and I had a Turf and Surf day, but it was a far cry from steak and lobster. We went to a store that sells commercial fishing gear near the small town of Coombs on Vancouver Island, and took care of the annual gear upgrade. Then we went to the Coombs Market where they keep goats on the roof as a tourist attraction. You may recall that we did this same outing last year and it has become a bit of a tradition: Buy fishing gear, go to the Coombs Market to buy a few picnic fixings (Black Forest ham for the bread I brought from home, some fancy mustard to put on it, and two Starbucks Americanos), and then drive ten minutes to Qualicum Beach for a seaside picnic.020

The turf was on the roof of the Coombs Market building,

004and the surf was on the nearby beach.

It wasn’t steak and lobster, but we had a beautiful day for a picnic by the beach.

The Mystery Photo Revealed

Thank you, all those who were brave enough to take a guess at the photo in the last post. I loved the imaginative answers you  had! If you look in the bottom left of the photo,  you’ll see the section I cropped for the mystery photo. If you click to enlarge it, you’ll be able to get a better look. I loved the squiggles in the picture. Nature is a pretty good artist, don’t you think?

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Taken near Masset, Queen Charlotte Islands, now renamed Haida Gwaii.

If you didn’t guess right, don’t worry. I really liked all the ideas, and all of them were great thoughts.  You were very brave to volunteer a guess. Even the Captain, who took this picture (some time ago) couldn’t guess what the mystery photo was.

The Glass Ceiling

In the spring and summer, many people like to put hanging baskets of flowers near their doors, windows, and decks. The colourful bouquets make a perfect decoration–well, almost perfect. Depending on where you hang them, the baskets can either be an enhancement or a death trap for hummingbirds.

Once when I went to visit my neighbour across the street, I stood in the covered entrance of her house and rang the doorbell. She wasn’t home, but while I waited, I noticed a hummingbird that had been attracted by the pink flowers in the basket hung in this covered area. The bird kept trying to fly away  through the skylight that was the roof of the entrance. It didn’t realize there was a pane of glass between it and the sky. It tried again and again and again, gradually becoming exhausted by its efforts in the heat.

I looked around for a way to help it, but the ceiling of the entrance was out of my reach. I used a broom that was leaning by the door, to reach up and gently  try to steer the hummingbird away from the glass. Not so easy. The bird tried even harder to get away,  and escape depended on getting up into the sky. At last I managed to swish it downwards and it flew out into the open. But not far! It landed on the wire cage that surrounded a small tree about twenty feet away. The little hummingbird grabbed hold of the wire cage and then, with its feet gripping the wire tightly, its body fell downward so it was hanging upside down.

The tiny hummingbird looked  totally exhausted. It hung on in a death grip, but could not right itself. I lifted it off the wire. Holding my hand close in front of me, I cradled the hummingbird and folded the bottom of my T-shirt over my hand to make a dark room for the bird. I took it over to my house and wondered what to do.

At first the bird couldn’t even sit up. I let it lie on its side. I wondered if it needed some food or water to help get its strength back so I stood by my hummingbird feeder and put a dab of sugar water on my finger. The bird’s eyes were closed and it didn’t look good. Its heart was pounding but that was about the only thing moving. I didn’t want to drown the bird by forcing it to drink, but I put the drop on the end of its beak. Nothing. It didn’t even try to lick it.

I stood very still by the hummingbird feeder. Other hummingbirds came and went and one of them let out a little chirp. My hummingbird opened his eye and he made a feeble effort to call back to the other bird.

Aha! I thought. When the other bird chirped, my bird tried to open his mouth. I put another drop of sugar water on my finger and waited for the next chirp from his friends. As soon as he opened his mouth to try to answer, I put the drop on the end of his beak. This time his long skinny tongue came out and tasted the liquid.

I managed to get the bird to sit, still in the fold of my T-shirt. Then every time the other birds chirped I had a drop of sugar water ready for my patient. After about ten minutes of this revival technique, the hummingbird leapt out of my hand to follow his friends.

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It should have been a happy story, but one thing  I found very disappointing was that when my neighbour came home and I told her about it, she didn’t even bother to move the hanging basket that was luring the birds into that trap. I thought about all the modern homes that have a skylight in the entrance and how people almost always hang a basket of flowers there. Why don’t they care more about what they’re doing?

Broom Busters

It’s that time of year when the first colours brighten up the neighbourhood. To me, colour means spring, even if it is only from that prolific weed, Scotch broom. Locally, broom has fallen into disfavour because, like the introduced rabbits of Australia, it is trying to take over, crowding out the indigenous plants such as the Garry oak. There is a case to be made about what is indigenous. How far back do we go? Do we call it an introduced species if “man” brought it from somewhere else? What about the seeds that are spread by sticking to a dog’s fur, or a wild animal’s fur, for that matter? Are those plants then called introduced species?

002However you may want to rationalize it, the broom was not here on Vancouver Island until Captain Walter Grant brought it to his garden in 1850. “Bad move, Walter,” say the Broom Busters who are now almost as annoying as the invasive plant they are trying to eradicate.

I don’t mind if the Broom Busters want to cut down broom that is growing rampantly in open fields, but most people take care of their own yards and the broom doesn’t go crazy there. I happen to live in a rural area just outside of town, and this is where the birds come. They find the broom a good place to hide and many a young quail has found protection under the thick broom growth that borders my property on two sides.

I like the fact that the thick bushes give me a bit more privacy from the hordes that walk past here, usually lagging behind dogs that have been let loose to do their business on the properties that have grass that is longer than one inch. I like that extra hedge beyond my own cedar hedge.

One evening I heard the snipping of pruners  just in front of my hedge. A  woman had chosen to show me how my yard frontage should look. She snipped off the blooming broom and left the ugly stalks  looking like empty tenement housing. I told her I would look after my own yard, thank you. She was convinced that she was doing a good deed and I should want to be rid of this ugly plant. It was invasive. And so are you, I thought.

I wondered if she would also cut down the big blackberry patch that is growing next to the broom. Blackberry is officially considered an invasive plant, yet everyone loves to come to pick the berries.

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I agree that broom is invasive and I do keep it under control on my own property. But broom is not shade tolerant so since much of our natural land is fir forest, I don’t believe the broom is that much of a threat there. This hedge of broom in the photo above is only growing at the sunny edge of the trees.

Meanwhile, I happen to like it in small amounts.

Watch out, people. The Broom Busters don’t like broom and will cut it down whether you like it or not. I shudder to think what my vegetable garden would look like if some of the Broom Busters decided that they didn’t like broccoli.

Square Peg, Round Hole

Square peg in a round hole” is an idiomatic expression which describes the unusual individualist who could not fit into a niche of his or her society.” So said Irving Wallace in 1957.

But 150 years before that, Sydney Smith first came up with this metaphor of trying to put a square peg into a round hole.

On occasion I’ve found myself trying to do the impossible over and over again, until someone reminds me that you can’t put a square peg into a round hole.

Well, I beg to differ! Today I had a revelation. I have been successfully putting the square peg into the round hole for YEARS! I’m so proud of myself.

And here is the proof!

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The Old Gray Mare

After staring at the monitor for too long, I wanted to have a nap, but I’m not a nap person (takes me an hour to unwind and once I’m asleep I don’t want to get up again), so I went outside to get some fresh air and revive my dulling brain. We’ll see at the end of this post whether that dull brain revived at all.

planted grass seed in a couple of bare dirt spots in the yard. Then I came inside and put the bread dough in the barely warm oven to rise. I tried to do some writing. Not inspired enough to do anything worthwhile. Turned on the oven to bake the bread and went downstairs to sew, knowing I would hear the buzzer when it was done.

I finished the quilt I’d been working on. In the meantime the Captain came home from the boat and was going up to the back of our property to cut out the broom that was growing into the cedar hedge. He had asked earlier in the day if I would help him. So I felt guilty about him starting to work without me and went up to help him.

We did the whole length of the hedge, about 150 feet of it, throwing the brush on the back of the truck. Then the Captain said we should load on the blackberry vines I had cut out of the front hedge yesterday (and left lying there).

He did that while I hacked at some more broom in the little island of trees beside the garage. You can see that we were in “work party” mode.

Tired at last, I said I’d put the tools away and go in. As soon as I opened the door, I ran up the stairs taking them two or three at a time. MY BREAD!!!! How long ago had I put it in the oven? Well, it’s a bit dark, but if we cut the crust off we can eat it.

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The Captain had two comments: “The old gray mare, she ain’t what she used to be….” and, “By the way, why was the back door open wide?”

“Oh, that would have been when the smell of overbaked bread hit me.”