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Pileated Woodpecker – A Backyard First

Over the past few days, I’ve had a Pileated Woodpecker show up at my suet feeder.

I’ve never had one in my backyard before and have very rarely seen them around on the island although I know they stay here all year long.

The ones that I’ve seen before have been at higher altitudes and I’m at sea level.

Even a bit of hill seemed to make a difference to sighting them.

At least that has been my experience.

I usually hear them before I see them.

Drumming away on a tree they have a very distinctive sound and when I hear it, I immediately look up and search the trees hoping to get a glimpse of its red crest.

The one in the picture above is a male and you can tell that by the red streak on its cheek.

The female doesn’t have this stripe.

The pileated woodpecker is the largest woodpecker in North America.

Although, that can be debated as the Ivory-bill woodpecker is actually the largest but it is considered extinct.

It has been 73 years since the last conclusive sighting although like bigfoot there is some bad video footage that might show that one still exists.

I have a friend who’s bucket list includes going to Louisiana and searching for the Ivory-bill woodpecker.

He’s not a birder but he read this story and it captured his imagination.

Pileated Woodpecker:

  • about the size of a crow
  • mainly eats carpenter ants but any tree boring insect will do
  • the holes they create in trees are rectangular in shape
  • their drumming can be heard up to a kilometre away
  • and now I have one in my backyard

Jigsaw Puzzle

If you need help with instructions click here.

I Listened To The Wind

I listened to the wind today.

I heard it calling and beckoning to me.

“Come play,” it said… “come play”.

Then blew the grass sideways and laughed.

The trees bent their branches under its force.

Their trunks swaying as it pushed against their upright bodies and then snapped back into place as the air passed them by.

As I lay in the grass and watched the wind delighting in its power it said, “watch this”.

And overhead appeared an eagle, soaring in the tempest.

Going ever higher and higher as the wind played in its wings.

I laughed in delight and thanked the wind.

It blew the roof off the greenhouse.

We had been talking about replacing it so it was perfect timing.

The plants in the garden shivered in its wake.

“I make them strong,” it said.

It danced through the birch trees making each leaf shimmer in the light.

And when it exhaled it banished the clouds from the sky.

Leaving only blueness and a lonely turkey vulture sailing on ebbing currents.

A calm finally settled in on the day and as the wind slowly gave way to a wafting breeze I could faintly hear… “watch for me… I’ll be back to play another day”.

Jigsaw Puzzle

If you need help with instructions click here.

Homegrown Meal


After last week’s fiasco of eating pizza on Friday night I decided that this week I would spend some time in the garden harvesting dinner.

Not that it was a chore or anything.

I love working in the garden and I have the suntan to prove it.

It was time to thin out the carrots and the turnips.

You know… you think you’ve spaced them far enough apart when you plant but those little seeds get away on you and all of a sudden 5 carrots are trying to grow in a space meant for one.

So into the basket goes tiny baby carrots.

Next, the thinning from the golden turnips.

They look like little globes and this is the first time I’ve grown then.

In amongst the turnips were a large bunch of leaves that looked like turnip tops and when I pulled away some dirt from the top I could see it was a similar colour to the turnips.

These are always interesting as you never know if a seed got mixed up or if it was just a turnip gone wild.

Turns out it was a parsnip that was leftover from a planting two years ago.

Who knew they could remain dormant that long.

I left the beets as we had them last night for dinner and went onto the potatoes.

There is nothing like new little potatoes straight out of the dirt.

The potatoes are flowering right not, so I just scraped away a little dirt from around the top and came up with enough golden nuggets for a feed..

I also found that the rain hadn’t gotten underneath the leaves as the soil was dry so started the hose running on them.

Heading over to the romaine lettuce it was time to pick the last of it.

I had been picking it for the last month and now it was coming to its end.

Cutting them off at the base I take off all the outside leaves along with the slugs and bugs before taking the rest of the lettuce into the house and a cold bath.

Interestingly enough, on the base of the plants still left in the soil, there are new leaves growing.

So I’m wondering if I’m going to get a second crop of lettuce out of them.

The peas where saying… “pick me, pick me” so I obliged them.

They are a snap pea and the sweetness really comes when you just give them a light steam.

And for dessert… strawberries.

There is nothing like fresh strawberries plucked off the plant and popped in your mouth to make your taste buds swoon.

Last year I ripped out all my everbearing plants and took the runners of the June bearing plants and planted them in their place.

That means this year all my strawberries are coming at the same time but they are big and juicy.

I found the everbearing ones were small and deformed a lot of the time.

There is netting over the strawberries held down on each side by hooking it over some screws on the sides of the box.

Not to keep out the quails this time but definitely to keep out the raccoons.

One year they decimated the crop!

It seems if you’re going to live with the birds and critters you need to find a way to cohabitate together.

The best defence is a good offence.

By now it’s 6:30 pm and time to think about starting dinner so I head into the house to wash and prepare the feast.

Dinner for two fresh from the garden.

Talk about a homegrown meal!

Jigsaw Puzzle

If you need help with instructions click here.

Eat Your Vegetables


You always hear the saying… eat your vegetables and on some level you know they are good for you.

And today I finally realized why it was important to eat your veggies.

First, let me say I love to garden and I grow most of the vegetables we eat.

But also, there are a few other reasons vegetables are good…

  • exercise – it gets me out in the garden growing them
  • the vegetables just taste better
  • they keep your regular (if you know what I mean)

So why did the light bulb go on this morning?

Well, this morning I woke up to aches and pains.

Every joint in my body was like it was inflamed and on fire.

I came out of the bedroom hobbling on a cane that I had from when my knee was really bad.

Now, my knee is much better, but it’s still not perfect as I haven’t been able to get to a chiropractor.

For the last two days its been great and I haven’t had to take an Advil for the pain.

Yesterday I was thinking that I might even try wearing shoes today as it was feeling that good.

(I haven’t had a pair of shoes on since I twisted my knee in January)

But, this morning dashed my dreams.

Both my knees were sore and on fire as well as my ankles, hips, elbows, wrists and any other part of the body that has a joint.

And it was all my fault!

You see… for the past week or two, we had been eating out of the garden.

Some nights for dinner it was just veggies and on other nights, a large number of veggies with a small piece of meat or fish.

Lunch is usually a salad as there is way too much lettuce in the garden right now.

So, each evening I head to the garden and pick a selection of lettuce, peas, potatoes, carrots, broccoli, golden turnips (they are yummy) and beets.

Wash them up, make a salad and steam or bake the rest.

I’m even getting strawberries although technically that’s a fruit.

Needless to say, we were eating clean with little or no processed food in our diet.

And, by eating my veggies my system had gone alkaline.

Now, there are numerous studies and diets written about having an alkaline system and it’s said that most diseases prefer an acidic one.

Here I am, minding my own business, eating my veggies and now its Friday night and I don’t feel like hunting,  gathering and preparing food.

Taking the easy road I take a pizza out of the freezer, add some veggies I had in the fridge, a couple of cloves of garlic, some olives and extra cheese.


But the after-effects were not worth the convenience or taste.

Eating all those carbs after a couple of weeks of veggies put my system in a tailspin.

I’m sure if I had one of those testing strips to see if you are acidic or alkaline I would have been at the top end of the acidic scale.

You would have thought someone had injected acid into all my joints they were so sore and stiff.

I knew instantly what had happened but that didn’t make it any better.

Drinking lots of water and a green smoothie for breakfast I was finally able to move without discomfort around 11 am.

Then, I headed out to the garden to give the plants a little fish fertilizer to help them grow lush and bountiful.

Seems like I have a vested interest in the garden this year and it was back veggies tonight with strawberries for dessert.

No more pizza for me!

Jigsaw Puzzle

If you need help with instructions click here.

Birthday Girl


Can you believe it?

After 2 weeks Rob said last night that my birthday party was over.

It all started a week before my birthday with take-out Chinese food.

That was a treat as we hadn’t been out to dinner or ordered in since February.

Next came the bark mulch!

Now… some of these may not seem very exciting to you, but for me, these were things that I’ve been waiting for years to get done and this was the time.

The bark mulch was for the flower gardens to control the weeks and to put around the garden.

After that, Rob did some shopping and brought me back some flowers to plant in the garden and 4 large bags (40 lbs each) of bird seed along with 2 boxes of suet for the birds.

Then things got serious and I got a cake.

Not only any cake but my favourite hedgehog one.

Which according to the brochure consists of:

Six layers of chocolate and vanilla cake filled with mocha buttercream, hazelnut buttercream, and covered with ganache and almonds.


Then came a ring Rob found.

I think it’s supposed to be diamonds and amethysts but they have definitely been made in a factory somewhere.

It’s the thought that counts.

A beautiful bouquet of flowers arrived in Robs hands one day along with some homemade chocolates.

Driving by a road stand Rob spotted some plants for sale so he stopped and bought me two flowers.

One looks like an iris and I have no idea what the other one is but they are both planted and we’ll wait and see.

On my birthday I got an arbour!

I’m not exactly sure what to call it but the grapes had a trellis for the vines to grow up but now they were heading over the top.

So another trellis-like structure was put perpendicular to it at the top for the grapes to hang over.

I’m hoping that this will stop the birds from getting all the grapes as they will hang underneath the leaves instead of out in the open.

While this was all happening a fence was being built for the shop but what I got out of it was locking gates on our side.

So when Rob is away or on the weekends we can just lock the gates and pretend we’re not home.

Also, there was a panel of a fence behind the house that had been damaged when a tree fell down and I kept watching for a deer to get into the yard.

But… as part of my two week birthday that got fixed as well.

This year as we couldn’t go visiting I had wonderful phone calls from friends and family.

All I missed was the hugs.

Ohhh, did I mention the crabs?

Rob brought home crabs for dinner already cleaned and cooked.

He had done a favour for a lady and in turn, she stopped in with some crabs for him.


Full and meaty and so sweet.

Got out the garlic from last year’s crop, added a little butter and dipped crab until we couldn’t eat anymore.

And still, we had left-overs for the next night.

What a treat.

After that was the gutters.

Gutters you say… for your birthday?

You bet!

There is (was) a space between the roof of the house and the roof over the deck where anytime it rained it also rained on the deck.

Just the one small gap let in gallons of water as it flowed off the roof and hit the deck in a long splattering line.

This got everything for about 2 feet soaking wet if one chanced to leave anything in that zone.

Now… five years later it is finally fixed and in the process, the gutters got cleaned.

Last night Rob brought some crabs home again all cleaned and cooked and informed me that my birthday party was officially over.

Time for him to get back to doing some things that he needed to get done.

Which just goes to show… What a lucky lady I am to have Rob in my life

P.S. I forgot to mention the lottery ticket. Still waiting for the draw. But no matter. I’ve already won!

Jigsaw Puzzle

If you need help with instructions click here.

Letting Go

I failed.

I can’t believe it.

I have the perfect opportunity to do some “letting go” and I completely missed it.

Okay… so I’m sound asleep and around 6 am I become wide awake with a cramp in my foot.

It’s a charlie horse and it feels like the sides of my soles are trying to meet in the middle.

In the past, if this has happened I usually jump out of bed and stand on it and that relaxes the pain, but… after listening to all the talk about “letting go” I figured I could just “let it go” away.

Too funny.

There I lay, concentrating on “letting go”.

Willing it to let go.

Hmmm, not working.

I will imagine each muscle in my foot being totally relaxed.

Hard to imagine at the level of pain I’m experiencing.

Deep breathe… that will help.

I know it will.

I will deep breathe and then allow the “letting go” to happen.

Hmmm, still not working.

What to try next?

I know… I’ll be present with the pain.

Okay… being present with the pain, being present with the pain, being present with the pain… to heck with being present with the pain.

I leap out of bed, securely plant my foot on the floor and will the pain to go away.

As usual, this eases the flow to the pain receptors but now, because I let it cramp for so long I need to get up and walk around and untie the knots.

After a few trips up and down the hall, I crawl back into bed and a light bulb comes on.

Here I had the perfect opportunity to “let go” but I forgot the steps.

I was trying to get “rid” of something instead of “letting it in”.

Hmmm. So close and yet so far away.

If I never have that experience again to practice, I’m okay with that.

I’ll practice “letting go” in a different way.

In the meantime, I’m going to go to add some additional greens to my smoothies and up my minerals.

It seems the civilized thing to do.

Jigsaw Puzzle

If you need help with instructions click here.

How To Catch A Bald Eagle

I know the title says “How To Catch A Bald Eagle” but I’m not physically capturing one, except with a camera.

Because… it is illegal to capture a Bald Eagle with anything else.

Under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, it is illegal to do just about anything that involves eagles both dead and alive including any part, nest, or egg, unless allowed by permit.

You can’t:

  • take – pursue, shoot, shoot at, poison, wound, kill, capture, trap, collect, molest or disturb
  • possession
  • offer to sell
  • purchase or barter
  • transport
  • export or import

The bald eagle used to be on the endangered species list but thanks to good management and banning of toxic substances they are now delisted as of 2007.

Now that I got that out of the way, here is my experience of capturing an eagle on camera.

It was a fluke actually.

We were out on Lizard Lake doing some early morning fishing.

As we went around the lake we saw a few ducks, a kingfisher calling from a tree and an eagle sitting still on a snag high above the water.

As we trolled around the lake Rob got a nibble on the line, reeled it in and on the end was a nice looking rainbow trout.

It was then we noticed that the eagle had flown down to a lower branch and was looking intently at the boat as only eagles can do.

Its pale yellow eyes were focused on the fish and we realize it wanted breakfast.

Rob said if he threw the fish out as far as he could I could get a picture of it as it dug its talons into the trout.

So… that’s what he did!

Camera at the ready the eagle swooped down, grabbed the trout and was off and all I was left with was a picture of empty water.

He was so quick that he was on his way before the fish even hit the lake.

Not only that but as I had the telephoto lens on the camera I would have only gotten a small potion the bird (like a foot) as he was so close you could feel the air from its wings.

But as luck would have it, he didn’t go far.

Landing on some logs that were half-submerged in the water he proceeded to have his breakfast.

Ripping and gulping with talons and break he made short work of the trout

After which he then proceeded to fly up to a higher perch and sit and preen himself.

It let us get almost underneath it and this is the only time in taking pictures of birds that I’ve had to tell Rob to back away as I was too close to fit the entire bird in.

Not only that but you can see a few scales on its beak from its meal of rainbow trout.

I snapped and snapped (the camera that is) and almost wore out the battery.

Never having been so close to an eagle it was a shot that any photographer would get in line to take.

So, if you are wanting to catch a bald eagle:

  1. spot a bald eagle (preferable on a body of water)
  2. catch a fish
  3. let the eagle see the fish
  4. move away from the shore so the bird has farther to fly
  5. focus on the fish
  6. and I hope you have better results than me
  7. but if not, follow the eagle and fingers crossed… it lands in the perfect spot to capture it.

It couldn’t be easier (she says with a grin).

Jigsaw Puzzle

If you need help with instructions click here.

Gifts From The Past

Have you ever got a gift that you wanted to regift?

Well, I am so lucky that I like to keep mine!

Often my family will give me plants as a present for birthdays or Christmas and I love them.

At Christmas I usually get a Christmas Rose that as soon as the frost disappears it gets planted.

I love looking out my office window and seeing their bright flowers in the winter.

Brings an extra bit of sunshine to the day.

You can’t see it in the picture but right in front of that big mass of green, one is planted.

The stump behind is about 12-14 feet high and the honeysuckle embodying its structure was given to me by my sister.

It was just a tiny little thing in a pot with a stick for it to grow upon, and the poor thing stayed in the pot for about four years never getting any bigger.

But hey… I kept it alive and that’s the main thing.

Then Rob had this stump that had a cavity in the middle.

It was like the heartwood had rotted away leaving a perfect spot to plant honeysuckle.

At the time of planting, I didn’t have any other flower gardens to put it into with something for it to grow up.

Four years in a pot not growing and four years in the ground growing makes a HUGE difference.

The ground isn’t even very good ground as underneath the yard is gravel.

I remember trying to dig a hole and ended up putting a pile of dirt on the ground for it to nestle into.

The pot had to be sliced open and the roots were so full in the pot all you could see was white with a little bit of dirt inbetween.

Taking the shovel I sliced through the roots at intervals cutting down the sides just so it could breathe.

And breathe it did.

Exploding into this wonderous specimen of greenery and heavenly smelling ivory flowers.

You can see in the picture that the flowers are just starting to come out.

The hummingbirds flock to it like bees to honey and this year I believe there is a robin’s nest on top as I see them flying in and out of it.

On the left-hand side of it, there is another stump about 8 feet high with a clematis on it given to me by mom and dad.

It needed somewhere to climb so this stump was the obvious choice.

Except for now it’s taken over the stump and threatening to take over the yard as well.

I’ll give it a trim in the fall when it finishes growing.

They say to plant it in moist, well-drained acidic soil with shade on the roots and sun in its hair.

Well, I got the well-drained acidic soil right anyway so the rest doesn’t really seem to matter, not at least in our yard.

In-between the two stumps you will see what looks like a pole sticking up.

That is part of the jungle gym for the quails and any other birds that wish to use it.

This morning there was even a crow on it and I know what you’re thinking.

A crow… big deal!

But it is a big deal in our yard as I’ve only had crows visit regularly a couple of summers ago and since and before then never came again until now.

To the right of the honeysuckle on the bottom layer is Jupiter’s-beard (Red-valerian) in bloom.

That was given to me as a present in a wild seed package and this year I’ve had to support it with a tomato cage as it splayed out in the middle, last year.

Above the valerian in the midsection is a pink pussy willow.

That was gifted to me by a lavender farmer and it too sat in a pot for about four years.

It got so bad that you couldn’t water it from the top as it was just full of roots.

The soil had just disappeared.

I keep trimming it back to keep it more of a bush than a tree and although it has pussy willows (so soft) every year I’ve yet to see pink ones.

Pussy willows are wetland plants but this one doesn’t seem to mind gravelly soil with good drainage.

Keep in mind I don’t water these plants they just get what they do from the rain.

Hey, if they can’t stand my treatment of them then they are not a match for my garden.

I do give them lots of love and talk to them though.

Maybe that’s the secret.

Behind them in the top section of the picture are a row of birch trees.

They don’t have any branches lower down but they are developing nicely up top.

Rob moved a family and the move included five birch trees that were in half wine barrels.

At that time their height would have only been about 6 feet tall and now they are massive.

We were given them to take care of while the family was building a new house and it wasn’t ready to move into yet and when they finally moved in, all they wanted back was the barrels.

So, we popped them into the ground and the red-breasted sapsuckers love their sap now that their trunks have grown.

This is just one shot of the yard but the rest of my gardens are filled with flora from family and friends.

Please, for now, no more.

My gardens are full and the plants in them are not even filled out yet.

Well I might have just spoken too soon.

I had a peace rose that couldn’t make the cut so another one wouldn’t be amiss.

My thanks to everyone for the gift that keeps on giving.

Jigsaw Puzzle

If you need help with instructions click here.

Cut To The Quick

Years ago I was cut to the quick.

By whom… I never knew.

One day I was hanging out in the forest enjoying the day and the next minute, the pain!

I never dreamed that this could possibly happen to me.

It was a long time ago but I can still remember the burning and the shame.

It was so unexpected and came out of nowhere.

No one else was attacked or injured, only me.

I still don’t know if I was a target or not or if it was just a random act of violence.

And all my life totally changed on that day!

Now I’m old and gray and the scars of the past are just that.

Scars of the past.

The day someone cut off my branch made me different than the rest of my family.

I was unique, even if it was in a deformed way.

I tried for years to cover up the disfigurement growing scab after scab around the cut but it never quite closed.

You can literally see my veins and rings that are normally tucked away safely inside my bark keeping me safe.

Instead, my bleeding heart was open to the world.

After all the years that I cursed my tormentor, I finally realized that I could change that around.

As I was never going to get rid of the scar I might as well embrace it and heal the wound inside.

By opening my heart a little bit at a time the cracks grew wider until it split wide open.

No longer just heartwood (tight and dense) it was now an open heart ready to love.

And love I have.

It’s been a good life and one that I would never change.

Instead of worrying about my defect I now embrace it and thank the soul that initiated the change.

Because here I stand.

For all to see.

Imperfect and perfect at the same time.

Jigsaw Puzzle

If you need help with instructions click here.

Wood Frog

I came across this little wood frog in a mountain ash tree.

Normally the berries are red but this was still early in the season and they are still yellow with a pink blush on their way to crimson.

The little frog caught my eye and I could hardly wait to take a photo of it before it hopped away.

Snapping frantically I moved closer and that’s when I realized it wasn’t moving.

Upon closer inspection, I attained that it was definitely a wood frog.

Actually made out of wood!

Things aren’t always what they seem.

Looking at it sideways it merely looks like a bump on a limb.

But when you look at full-on it has the appearance of a frog.

Not just any frog.

But a laid back, arm over the back of a limb type frog.

Nature being nature had a reason for growing a lump on the branch.

Maybe it had cut or damaged in some way and this growth was the result of it.

It’s my perception, my belief that gave it the appearance of a frog.

It reminds me of when Captain Cook sailed to places that had never seen a sailing ship before.

The people on the shore literally didn’t have anything to compare it to so it was like it didn’t exist.

Until one person saw it then another and another and now they were able to talk about it, explain it and point to it and the rest of the people then saw it.

Well, it’s that experience only backward.

I know frogs.

I’ve seen frogs.

I know how frogs react and move.

And because in my mind this was frog-like I instantly gave it the benefit of a doubt and called it a frog.

But… in actual fact, it was my eyes playing tricks on me.

I wanted to believe and so I believed.

And even now when I quickly glance at the photo, my mind goes to…

How did the frog get up in the tree?

It’s all about perception.

Jigsaw Puzzle

If you need help with instructions click here.