Thursday 31 July 2014

July weather - tornados, heat, cold, rain

Total rainfall

We had some massive rains. The highlight was on July 27th with 48mm falling.

There was heat on the east and west coasts of Canada, while this strange sort of Polar vortex streamed cooler air down the central part of the continent, sucking up moisture from the Great Lakes.

Colder air holds more moisture, and those winds were something.

The west coast has had terrible fires, with drought conditions. 

I've been using the water barrel to keep my Goldfish pond filled. (The filed mice have chewed holes in it!)

When the barrel fills, the overflow
automatically drains into the pond.
It has been working very well for me. 
Goldfish, Geraldine bullfrog, leopard frogs!

Eighth tornado of the season in Ontario. (Attached is the image we posted 15 minutes before the Tornado Warning...

Massive dump of rain July 27

We had 22mm in the morning, and over an hour, another 46mm! The afternoon rendered up thunder and lightning. One bolt struck as I was gazing out into the back yard. I screamed, it was such a shock!

Fires out west

They've been terribly dry all along the western part of the continent. 

July 13


July 12

July 8

  July 7

Only about 1 mm! In the meantime, the maritimes were hammered by Hurricane Arthur. The prairies have floods and crops cannot go in. 

July 2nd

  1. Storm, heat warnings, weather watches end for Ottawa, Gatineau ...

    Ottawa Citizen-Jul 1, 2014Share
    ... were closing off sections chemin Kennedy in Luskville and chemins Kennedy and Dion in Quyon, Que., because of trees blocking the road.
Sinkhole in Luskville | Quebec highway 148 remains closed by sinkholeSevere weather  has caused a giant sinkhole in one of the Pontiac region's main highways.
Flooding in Saskatchewan.

  1. More than 150 acute care patients and long-term residents have been moved from a hospital in eastern Saskatchewan because of flooding.

July 1st

This storm only brought us 3mm! We haven't had serious rain since June 24th.

Don't you love grandchildren!

I went to visit, since my daughter and I went out to a show together. I don't think we've done this, ever!

Caitlin picked up the girls off from Day Care, came home, then we took a few minutes to visit. We didn't have long, since the girls had swimming lessons. PaPa was in charge, and off they all went, he'd already made their picnic dinner. 
After the show, I had a sleepover at the kids' house. It was so much fun! 
There is a wiggly tooth in there!

Isn't she sweet?
Mommy gets ready for work.
Our Foam Girls movie
was a hit!
Isn't it cute?
 I snuck out to the new playhouse that the neighbours had given to our girls. Their little girls are all big girls, now and wanted it to be used.

I remember their children waving and watching as the bridal party left for the church wedding, in 2005 when the kids were married. Where does the time go? Their teenage girls are beyond this.

Isabelle was quite pleased with the playhouse, as they planted snow peas in the hanging planter. She explained that she will be able to lean out of the window and grab a pea to eat! She is such a sweetie!

Even has a mailbox
Grampa bought some stickers and
made some cards!

I popped Grampa's cards in!

As for me, I was in town early before Caitlin was off work, and went shopping for a few things: wee pencil crayons, in a box, with a sharpener built in. Also, several post-it notes and a small notebook.
I went into the playhouse and left some crafty things, a fave in their house!

chairs, window, chalkboard!

 Wasn't that a fun surprise?!

Wednesday 30 July 2014

Touch-me-not, Himalayan Balsam and Jewelweed

In this selfie, it is taller than I am (5'4")!
This invasive species nestles amongst my hops plant.
Yet another invasive species. Who knew?
Himalayan Balsam (Impatiens glandulifera) looks like Ontario’s native Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis),  except that it is enormous! They are related species, but the Ontario version has yellow-orange flowers.

You can spot the Himalayan Balsam, as it grows very large. Like many invasive species, they overwhelm native plants, crowding out those who belong here, reducing biodiversity and the ecological value of land. Fortunately, unlike some of my other riparian plants, it isn't poisonous.

Those who warn us of it, claim that it has nectar that draws pollinators away from native species. I'm not sure how true that is, since birds and bees seem to visit a variety of species, rather than depending upon only one.
Native Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis)
in our wetland

It likes riversides, although Ontario gardeners are growing it in gardens, as you can see from mine.
Mine is snuggled in between my Hop bines. I imagine a previous owner, all three seemed to be avid gardeners, actually made his own beer! I find it an interesting bine, Hops, as it climbs all summer, then the entire vine dies.

Himalayan Balsam

Hops climb the trellises, with the
Balsam in the middle.
This was early summer.
It is called an annual herb, and while native to
By mid-summer
the HB is over 6'.
the Western Himalayas, in the early 1800s it was spread, as these things are, to Europe, New Zealand, and North America by gardeners. 

It's common name, Touch-me-not, derives from the way the mature seed pods explode when you touch it. It sends the seeds flying up to 5m (~5 yards) from the parent plant, producing up to 800 seeds per plant.

It is easy to get rid of the plant, as its roots are very shallow. I'm not sure how it survives, standing as tall as it does!
Himalyan Balsam, pretty pink flowers

Large plants in this garden



Annual management is required and repeat treatments must be completed. It is also important to properly dispose of plant materials through municipal landfill or incineration.

• Report sightings to the Invading Species Hotline  1-800-563-7711 or report a sighting online

Downloads from Ontario Invasive Species site

Distinct seedlings
sprout in Spring

It is starting to grow in the middle,
surrounded by my Hops bine plants.

Gardeners love these flowers!

Tuesday 29 July 2014


This is an amazing book! I started it at bedtime last night, and finished
after my morning workout, on the back deck while the guns blared from the annual, summer-long OPP Recertification in the back 40 (actually 500m into the wetland). It was surreal. Hubby was out delivering Meals on Wheels. I was free to read. I was riveted.

Kurt Kamm writes easily (or so it seems), and writes well. I've read my fair share of mystery novels, as well as historical fictions, and I quite enjoy them. He calls this genre: FACTION, for facts + fiction.

Target audience

It is a well-created, neatly woven story, with strong characters; heroic and dastardly; male and female. It is Kurt Kamm’s 5th novel –the others I shall have to pick up. Often, when hubby finds a male mystery writer, I find it a bit tough, difficult to read, with too much of your macho stuff to pad a weak story. This one is based in lots of historical facts, incorporates environmental issues, with a strong plot, and sub-plot.

It is well-edited, which is not always the case these days. I only spotted one error, p. 134 where the wives would 'try to kiss their mn.'  (My apologies, but they pop out at me – always a Language Arts teacher.)

I think my hydrogeologist-daughter would enjoy this read. My brother, who works in a gold mine and has worked in a uranium mine, would enjoy it. (Yes, he didn't tell any of us that he was a demolitions expert underground –not until my mom's funeral, at least! That's where he lost his baby finger, in the mine!) My husband, who worked with Homeland Security after 9/11 and before retiring, will also find it a good read.

The area had an earthquake
prior to the Sylmar explosion

My only concerns

It would stand alone, however, this reader would have found a couple of things to help her. While it is only about 200 pages, I would have appreciated an acronym list.
My brain was exploding with HasMat, JRIC, LA DIG, LA CLEAR, INCH, ISS, STAS, TLF ATF, ANFO, and the like.

Also, maps, since it is based on American geography, and an existing water tunnel, it would have clarified it for me. Maybe I'm a bit slow, but I like to get a picture in my mind. Perhaps, I was reading too quickly, wanting to finish it!

It was a shocking story, and there is much in the news about the area. Between the lack of water, the earthquakes and terrorism that is in the news... The photos in the back, of the actual Sylmar explosion, were very helpful.

What is interesting is that many of the resources exist, and my curiosity was piqued enough to do some more research.

Tunnel Visions (September 2014, MCM Publishing) 

Newspaper article

Tunnel Visions blends fact and fiction [FACTION], weaving together the historical facts of the Sylmar disaster, the current struggle for control over California's diminishing water supply, and a fictional plot to attack Los Angeles' water system.   When Homeland security mobilizes Los Angeles County, fire captain Nick Carter and his fiancée, ATF Special Agent Cindi Burns, find themselves working together to stop a terrorist threat.  As the crisis unfolds, California’s contentious history of water wars is laid to bare and Nick confronts a 40-year-old mystery. Tunnel Visions will navigate readers through this fiery mystery/thriller.

There are many resources that verify the facts, but read the book first!

Janette Zavattero, The Sylmar Tunnel Disaster,
New York:Everest House (1978)

The worst tunnel disaster in California history killed 17 miners below Sylmar, spurring the toughest mining and tunnel regulations in the nation and a year-long criminal trial against the contractor, resulting in record fines and civil damages.

Wild parsnip abounds in Ontario ditches - it's poisonous

Contact dermatitis
Poison Ivy rash in October, 2011.
Another long story!
There are lots of weeds that are toxic to us, most give us Contact dermatitis.

The Wild parsnip worries me, as it is ubiquitous in Southeastern Ontario ditches.  The government has a website for weeds. I drove home from my daughter's house, and stopped to photograph them.

I'd noticed them after cleaning them out from around my mailbox.
I've had some boils, so I know I've been infected with the poison, either from this, or from our Poison Ivy patch down by the meadow. I made the mistake of going over the ivy with the law tractor.

Contact dermatitis begins with an itch or boils. If not treated, and spreads throughout your system. Usually, with the first contact, you'll spot a little boil or two, about the size of a pencil dot on paper. It percolates throughout your body. Mine, on my arm, spread to my stomach.

First bout in the summer: July, 2011.
These boils are terribly itchy.
OCT. 2011:
The open boils spread
onto other areas if unchecked.
I found two boils on my ankle a few days ago, again. This was my second contact.

Each time I am in contact with another poisonous plant, the attack is worse. These poisonous plants give us Contact dermatitis. If not checked, it can be horrible, as I can attest. The ER doctors failed to diagnose it, while the Triage Nurse suggested that was what it looked like. I learned my lesson and apply the cream at the first sign of it.

I found Wild Parsnip in my garden, likely transported by birds. It is an invasive species. It is moving from South and Eastern Ontario, across the continent to the west.

Wild Parsnip
Pastinaca sativa

Wild parsnip is an invasive plant native to Europe and Asia. It was likely brought to North America by European settlers, who grew it for its edible root. Since its introduction, wild parsnip has escaped from cultivated gardens and spread across the continent.

This is what they look like:
First year plant

The government website is very clear about which chemicals may or may not be used these days. I used spray-on bottles, designated to kill poison ivy. They work, after a few days being absorbed, on the Wild Parsnip. You can spot the Wild Parsnip with the pretty, yellow flowers appearing in an umbel. It looks like Cow parsnip, which is harmless, and has the same umbels. In fact, the plants look much like dill weed, with the same system of umbels!

Almost looks like dill weed!

You can tell the difference as the dill weed has skinny little leaves, and smaller flowers in an umbel, much like cow parsnip, Queen Anne's Lace.

Other Resources

Here are the incredible numbers of plants in ditches.

I went in and told the family this was poisonous
-see it to the right of and below the blue?
They knew and had been trying to get rid of it.

Stay away from it. It is terrible stuff.

This is white, Water Parsnip,
found in our dried up frog pond.
It is a marsh plant.
This plant I sprayed with
Poison Ivy killer spray.
Thankfully, it died.
They look innocuous.