This was our 2013 Jayco Flight Swift 198 RD


Sunday, 13 September 2020

Garden Art

As much as I admire colorful flowers and beautifully landscaped yards, interesting garden statues and ornaments placed among them I find enhance the looks. 


In my August 1stpost I showed pictures of some garden art that I had made. Those were pressure treated 4x4 cut off posts that we had left over from previous jobs around the yard. I painted them with paint from the dollar store and used different motives for each one and then added diverse types of tops to make them all unique. They got a final coat of clear lacquer to keep the paint from peeling and fading in the elements.


Last week I created another piece of garden sculpture from driftwood and pebbles that I collected at our little beach across the street. Northeasterly winds push the waves of lake Erie onto the shore and occasionally shove wood and debris onto the beach. Even whole trees have ended up there in past years and some of them are still lodged among the boulders and stones. So when I spot a piece of driftwood that I find interesting, I pick it up for perhaps a later use. 


When I discovered this long piece of driftwood that must have been a post in its previous life, I had the idea to hollow out a long slit in the center and to fill it with stones. The idea is simple, but the execution turned out to be a bit more problematic. Benno, my loving hubby, came to the rescue with his router and a specific router bit that was just the perfect size. So the credit for carving the perfect groove goes to Benno. I then painstakingly collected pebbles of various colors and textures that were all very close of the same size and thickness to fill the gap. To hold them in place I mixed two parts Casting Epoxy and poured it over, it flows like water, into the grove and onto the pebbles.  The finished project, complete with a wooden dowel as a support, now adorns one of our flowerbeds. 


Smaller pieces of driftwood I collected ended up in a vase that sits on a little table in our guestroom. 


There is not only driftwood at the beach, but beach glass can be found too. I gather mostly green glass and it seems to be in the majority of my finds. What to do with all that glass? Well, I fastened a dried up branch onto a piece of driftwood and glued little pieces of beach glass around the branch to look like leaves. It’s not a masterpiece, but it adorns the clematis flower that is climbing up at my shed.


Lake Erie can be quite fierce at times but when the wind is calm and the sun is out it sure is pretty and Benno and I have the yearning to be cruising again on one of our previous yachts.  Such nice memories!


This is the view onto lake Erie from just a few steps and across the street from our house.


Thanks for visiting and I wish everyone great days this September.

Wednesday, 2 September 2020

The dilemma of not enough or too much rain

In this post I am going to vent my frustration about the weather here in our area. It has been a very hot and dry summer. I love hot and sunny days, but when you have strenuous garden work to do then of course I would like some cooler temperatures. During the past weeks we have been working on grading the new property with topsoil. We got a second load of it and that was dispersed pretty fast with the help of the Kioti tractor. Then we raked the soil over and over to make it level as good as we could. That is a sweaty undertaking under burning and hot sunshine. 


Benno piled a heap of soil in the corner of the shed to use for a berm I was going to create at the end of the Northeast corner of the property, but we needed to level the ground there first because that is where the soil was dumped from the delivery truck. 


At the local hardware store I purchased edging stones that I had counted out from my other berm that I had made last year in the spring, so both of them would be the same in size. Then I worked on creating the shape and Benno brought over several buckets full of topsoil. It took more than we thought to fill it up, but that was ok because we had kept enough aside. Then we went out to a Nursery to purchase a large ornamental rock that we placed on top of the berm. We used our utility trailer to transport the rock and used the tractor to unload and to position the rock on top of the berm. The fun part for me was to browse a couple of local Nurseries in the intent to purchase a few flowers to plant onto the berm. I got another Purpleleaf Sand Cherry tree like the one on my other berm and dug out half of a Hosta plant from my garden that had grown very big to plant onto this berm. At the Nursery I splurged on a Pugster Amethyst, which is a purple dwarf butterfly bush and a dwarf hardy red Hibiscus as well as a multi colored Coneflower. Hopefully, by next year they all will look great after having been established. To finish off this berm I topped it with black mulch. 


This is the other berm I made a year ago

Next to the berm Benno dug out three large holes with a shovel that took him most of the day because the clay ground was so hard and dry. We had purchased three Emerald Cedars just like we have on the other side of our property and the rest of the soil we had left went into those holes as we planted these three trees.  


There was finally some rain in the forecast so I decided to start seeding all the freshly raked areas from the 50-pound of Turf Lawn Seed we had purchased. Of course not all of the bag’s contents was used but a large amount went onto the patches. Then guess what? Yes, we did get rain, but it was more like a torrential downpour that washed away or puddled all of my labor of the previous day.  It rained so hard and so much overnight that our wheelbarrow filled half with water. The newly planted flowers looked a little worse also but thankfully survived the onslaught. 


More reseeding was done with the promise of rain showers yesterday and overnight. IT DID NOT HAPPEN! Looking at the radar screen I saw rain clouds to the north and south of us but we got zero!! Now I have to figure out how long our water hose is and if I can at least water some of the patches and perhaps do the rest with the water can before all that topsoil becomes powdery dry and the seed flies off or gets gobbled up by the birds.  In the end we decided to add a full utility trailer full of brown cedar mulch to the shady area around and behind the new shed where grass is really not that useful. It looks good and smells even nicer.

Now if we get those grass seeds to germinate and grow I’ll be happy. 


Oh well and there was our sump pump, this is the sump from the seeping bed that keeps our house foundation dry. The float switch, which activates that pump, had a hiccup. It got stuck once awhile and needed some hits with a broom stick every other day to start the pump. Benno had enough of this, got a new switch from “Canadian Tire” our famous hardware store chain in Canada, pulled out the pump and changed the switch, but almost fell in to the sump head first doing this.  I heard him hollering me and by grabbing his belt I got him back onto the level of this earth. Throughout all of this excitement I forgot to take any pictures.


And this concludes my post about our recent activities and I’ll be moving on to other things.


Wishing everyone a great start to September.


Wednesday, 19 August 2020

The Kioti tractor finally goes to work

With a few cooler days in the weather forecast we thought it was time to order some topsoil for the planned fill and grading of our property. We ordered a truckload, i.e. 15 tons of brown topsoil to be delivered to our address. For a full truckload or starting at 15 tons there is no delivery charge. 


I really had no idea what 15 tons of topsoil would look like, and in my mind I had a vision of a small mountain, so we were surprised to see that the delivery truck was only half full when it arrived. I kind of expected the load to look a lot more than this heap that fell out of the truck. It was a big truck that could haul 25 tons I found out after my phone call to the company to make sure we got the 15 tons and not less than what we ordered. 


We do not need to cover the whole area of this 80 x 120 feet piece of land, but there are some low and uneven spots that we want to even out. Every spring we noticed some large puddles of standing water in certain areas that took forever to dry out. So we are working on filling them in.


With the tractor’s help it was easy to scoop up the dirt and bringing it to where we want it. However, the tractor does not fit behind or next to the shed where we also wanted some fill, so I dumped several less than half full buckets of the topsoil into the wheelbarrow that Benno had to manually carry to those areas, empty it and then to rake it all by hand. 


Benno and I took turns driving the tractor and scooping dirt as it turns out to be a fun thing to do. But we also need to hand rake so it is only fair that we are both working with the rakes.  We even got two little helpers who wanted to participate to move some dirt around.


As it turned out, our helpers tired out quickly and needed to rest. Oh well, I guess Benno and I have to do the work ourselves.


It did not take us long to decimate the pile with the tractor, it is just too easy (maybe we should go back to the ole shovel technique) and this little heap of dirt we have left is not going to cut it to finish the job. We are going to use it up and then calculate how much more we’ll need to complete the rest of the property.  

Next blog should have some more progress to report. Thanks for dropping by and stay tuned.


Sunday, 16 August 2020

So we finally got the promised rain

 Of course yesterday turned out to be another hot and humid day just like most days this July and August. I might have mentioned before that the grass on our property looks dead and the only green spots are the weeds that are determent to hold on regardless of how much sun is scorching it. When the meteorologists told us that this Saturday and Sunday we could be expecting some rain, as they had done numerous times before without it coming true, I didn’t believe them and watered my plants in the evening as always. Benno had spent some time this week in his “man cave” aka his workshop making a bucket level indicator for the Kioti tractor. This gadget is meant to show the operator of the tractor if the bucket is level with the ground. When we sit on the tractor it is difficult to know or see if the bucket is level or tilted, as the lever for the up/down does not display it. Yesterday evening this “level indicator” was finished and Benno had the tractor in the garage to make final adjustments and our truck was parked outside. Just then a noisy warning came over my iPhone for severe weather with fierce winds, lightening, heavy rain and hail for our area. 


                                        Benno is rushing the tractor into the shelter

It didn’t take much convincing for Benno to realize that it might be prudent to move the tractor into its portable shelter and our truck back into the garage if we were to get some golf ball size hail like some folks had last week somewhere else in Ontario. We went into overdrive and hustled to move the equipment, brought flowerpots and garden chairs into the garage and even took the big sun umbrella from its stand and into the shelter. 

                      Following pictures show the parts made in the man cave

               The white ring on the rod indicates that the bucket is level with the ground

All these above gizmos Benno fabricated in his shop and even painted them and the rod in the same red paint as the factory painted tractor came with.


And then we waited, and waited for the predicted storm. Finally, after the late evening news we gave up waiting and went to bed. Looking out this morning, everything looked just like yesterday, all dry but I noticed a refreshing cooler air. Yes, it was again the storm that never was. So, all that excitement for nothing!


Today, however, we did get a good dousing and even a heavy downpour by 10 a.m. that lasted for a while. The ground just absorbed it like a sponge and I believe there is a shimmer of green where we had parched grass before.


                                 Monarch and Black Swallowtail butterflies in my garden

My vegetable plants are slowing down now in their production but some peppers and a zucchini are in the making as are some green cherry tomatoes waiting to ripen. I decided to sacrifice my dill plants to the 4 Black Swallowtail Larva hanging there and eating them up so we will have some more beautiful butterflies among my flowers. 


                                       Look at this bumble bee loaded up with pollen.

Today, for our afternoon coffee, I baked a peach and cherry galette that we ate while it was still warm from the oven. It smelled and tasted heavenly. 


Hoping everyone had a good Sunday and wishing you a nice week ahead.


Sunday, 9 August 2020

What a wonderful visit we had

Wow, Patsy and Bill Chillin with Patsy  live on a piece of paradise and we had the fortune to be invited for a visit. First up, thank you again for your hospitality and we had not expected to be plugged into a 120 Volt power cord Bill had waiting for us. Benno had brought along our extra long-range gasoline fuel tank for the Honda 2000 generator to keep up with our electrical usage, but we didn’t need it.

Entrance to the property

Don't know how to make this picture smaller, Blogger problem!
Just about to pull into the driveway
Going up the long driveway

Durham and Hanover are charming little towns that are the immediate areas for shopping for Patsy and Bill. The property they are staying at is probably close to 4 acres and has two very large lawn fields in addition to other very well kept grassy areas that both of them keep in immaculate condition through their hard work. Part of the property and adjacent to it are ponds that attract geese in the springtime.


One of the grassy fields our dogs loved to run on
Here is Oreo in the far back just loving to run the field also
Benno brought his drone and took a photo of our setup
Kim & Ken to the left, us in the middle and on the right Patsy & Bill's 5th wheel
Bill is waving at the drone above him

Also there for a visit were Kim and Ken Journey with Ken & Kim who we had met down in Yuma, Arizona. Just as it was during our cruising time, it is always nice to meet up with friends again that we had met before and enjoyed their company. Next day we got to meet another friend of theirs, Keith, with his dog “Oreo” Keith’s hobby is also flying model airplanes and who is a member of the same club just as Bill and Ken.  Of course most of the time the guys were down where Bill has his little shop, aka “The Hangar” and cargo trailer with his many airplanes. It seems those fragile planes need a lot of adjustments and fixing when something brakes and Bill appreciated some expertise and input from these hobby pilots.


Ken and Benno watching as Bill is demonstrating
The big Telemaster plane
Two other planes of Bill's airplane fleet
Some serious engineering is involved here
Just so you get the size of the Telemaster I had Bill stand next to it
Bills cargo trailer
Keith is making something for Bill

Patsy, Kim and I were mostly in chairs at the sitting area around the fireplace in conversation, or having our noses buried in books. A nice distraction were the three little chipmunks that entertained us as they dashed around our chairs looking for peanuts. I enjoy watching birds and wildlife and so was delighted looking at the several birdfeeders and even spotted a rabbit that hopped into view probably curious of all the visitors. Every evening after supper we all would gather around the fire that Bill kept feeding with the logs he had cut from felled trees. It got cool overnight all the way down to 8C/46F, but we all bundled up around the fire and had a good time.


This was taken late afternoon with the tele lens

Chippy in his element
Peanuts in my hand that Chippy wants
Chippy is now pestering Patsy for more peanuts

We were expecting our mutual friend Suzie that we had also met down in Pilot Knob RV Resort with her late husband George  Our Awesome Travels She was not able to come up from Stratford to stay overnight, but made it out for a couple of hours on Friday afternoon. It was good to see her, touch base and hear about recent on goings in her life.


Happy Hour
Patsy, Kim, Suzie, Bill, Keith, Ken & Benno
the empty chair is mine

Meals were done to everyone’s own devices and tastes. Our travel trailer fridge was packed with all kinds of foods and precooked items I made in advance like Pesto Pasta Salad and German Potato Salad, because I did not want to do a lot of cooking while on vacation. On the first night I put Benno in charge to grill some Italian Sausages on our Weber Grill outside and on the second night he grilled a couple of Pork Tenderloins that I had marinated. Meanwhile I did some home fried potatoes on the stove inside. We had so much food leftover to eat the third night out that the Chicken Souvlaki didn’t make it to the grill and stayed uncooked in our fridge. Patsy surprised us with a couple of home baked Carrot Muffins topped with icing in honor of Ken’s birthday as a desert. Those were delicious and very much appreciated.


Benno is grilling Pork Tenderloin
All done and ready to eat

On Saturday morning it was time to say our goodbyes. The weather was again beautiful warm and sunny. Our return drive home we decided to be different than going up. We swung around Goderich, Bayfield and Grand Bend, following Highway 21 along the shore of Lake Huron. The marina in Bayfield was of interest to us and Benno took our travel trailer into the road of the marina. The place was hopping with boaters coming and going. Taking a travel trailer there on a Saturday in August might not be the best decision we have made and we were glad that we, or rather Benno, got the trailer turned around without incident, I must tell you it was a hair rising situation. The same traffic jam we saw in Grand Bend with so many tourists around trying to get into the Pinery Provincial Park. Did we see just one person wearing a mask? Nope.


Following 1 horsepower through town

Late afternoon on Saturday we pulled up into our driveway. It was hot and humid. The front lawn was totally dried out and crunchy under my feet. By the time I had emptied the travel trailer fridge and personal things to bring back to the house I was quite sweaty and Benno after positioning and setting up the trailer just the same. We had a wonderful three days of vacation with friends and hope to do it again some day. Thanks a lot Patsy and Bill and friends.