Archive for the ‘Misc’ Category

Happy Valentine’s Day!


Our special valentine, grandson Rowan, who is one year old today.

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Merry Christmas 2017


Warm winter wishes and a Merry Christmas from Willow House.

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Slime Mould


When working around the barn recently, I noticed a white patch of…something. When I bent down to take a closer look, I found that it was a sort of crusty white pocket, with something black within. I wondered if it might be some sort of egg sack, but upon further investigation, I learned that it was a slime mould, Mucilago crustacea. Or more specifically, this was the fruit body, or aethalium, of M. crustacea.

Slime moulds are composed mostly of a mass of slimy protoplasm that spend most of their lives hidden away inside well-rotted logs or leaf litter. When it is time to fruit, they migrate to a more advantageous location for spore dispersal, and may travel several feet or climb walls or trees.

Mucilago crustacea

The fruitbody of M. crustacea has an outside wall of a chalky material that gives it a crusty texture. The spore-mass within is black. After a few days, I noticed that the crusty surface had cracked, releasing the powdery dark spores.

Many mushrooms are hard for the casual amateur to identify, even with a guide book, but a helpful source is George Barron’s Mushrooms of Ontario and Eastern Canada. Quite highly recommended.


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Sunrise December 20, 2015.

December Solstice (Winter Solstice) is on Monday, December 21, 2015 at 11:49 PM in Ottawa. That’s less than an hour away as I write this. Hurray! Turn-Around Day, when we begin the slow but inexorable march to spring. Today was 6 hours and 58 minutes shorter than the day at June solstice. Tomorrow will be less than a second longer. The next day, 4 seconds longer, as we move towards the light!

Last winter was long, snowy, and bitterly cold. By November 22, we already had a few inches of snow on the ground. So far this year, winter has hardly begun. We have enjoyed an extended fall season of mild temperatures and only a little dusting of snow a few days ago, which quickly melted away. Right now, it is 4 degrees C (40 F) and a light rain is falling. No matter what January and February have to offer, we have been spared a month of harsh weather and the winter will be shorter.

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Here’s granddaughter Coralie, just approaching her first birthday, and ready for her first Halloween. Her beautiful blue jay costume was sewn for her by her doting Mom.


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Country Wedding


Last weekend, we celebrated a very special event as Ponygirl, our middle daughter, was married. The wedding took place at Ecotay, near Perth, Ontario, a rural venue featuring several barns in a pastoral setting. We were blessed with a beautiful day, and after months of planning and work, everything came together with nary a hitch.


Many hands helped to prepare the site on Friday.


Here’s the dining room, with chargers laid out to protect plates for the night.


Seven-month-old flowergirl Coralie made a practice run in the rehearsal.


The bride-to-be posed with her older and younger sisters, and niece Coralie.


Finally, the big day arrived. Fiddlegirl provides the musical accompaniment.


Ringbearer Remy smiled as he watched his ‘mom’ walk down the aisle…


…accompanied by her parents.


The ceremony was lovely.


Here I am with the bride during the dinner hour.


Dinner was followed by dancing. The bride and groom danced to ‘Toothpaste Kisses’ by The Maccabees.


Father and daughter danced to ‘Turn Around’ by the Kingston Trio. Afterwards, a live band took the stage and the guests danced the evening away. Congratulations and best wishes to Gaelan and Kris.


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Merry Christmas 2014!


Here’s our new little elf, Coralie Robyn, born November 15, 2014, and already weighing in at over 12 pounds.

Happy Christmas to you and yours. May your Christmas be merry and bright!

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After a cold and windy weekend closed out a cold and snowy week, today we are being treated to a mild, sunny day. The snow has quickly melted and although it is still windy, the sun is blissfully warm.


It’s amazing how some plants can cope with the cold. In spite of having been buried in snow and subjected to freezing temperatures, these little epimedium plants appear unscathed. The parsley is still edible!


While this bright day is lovely, we know this balmy weather won’t last long. However, we’re ready for winter, as ready as we ever will be.


A few weeks ago, I had a load of bark mulch delivered and I spread about half of it around the garden. If this mild spell lasts for a few days, I might do a little more mulching, but otherwise, the remaining pile will be handy in the spring.



A variety of birdfeeders are in place and are already attracting an appreciative flock of diners. You can see that these goldfinches are ready for winter too. They have lost their breeding-season brilliant yellow and are now dressed in a muted gold feathercoat, ready to be one of the flock.


Here’s our little kayak, hanging in the rafters over the wood pile.


Here’s even more wood! Garden ornaments have been returned to the little garden shed, where they’ll be protected from the worst of the weather.



This hay storage building is new this fall. It was installed just a few weeks ago and our hay supply has been moved inside. It will offer drier, more convenient storage than the old, rather battered outbuilding.


Also new this autumn is this run-in shelter for Czarina and her two donkey pals. They’ll be able to eat their morning hay in comfort, protected from the wind and snow. But they’re not there this morning. They’re taking advantage of the last of the pleasant weather to graze for a few hours more.


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First Snow


A week ago, we awoke to find a skim of ice on the river. In the afternoon, a flurry passed through, and while the snow didn’t stay on the ground, it stuck to the ice, making a pattern of white on the water.


It marked the beginning of snow season. Over the next few days, the temperature dropped and wintry squalls moved through, leaving a frosty white landscape in their wake.


A frigid week followed. Summer is just a fading memory. We are consoled by the thought that at least we aren’t in hard-hit Buffalo, which received more than 65 inches of snow last week. Tonight, as I write this, the temperature is above freezing and it is raining.


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Welcome, Little Girl


It’s been a busy autumn season, with some exciting additions and changes, but surely foremost among these is the arrival of our first grandchild, a little girl! She was born on Saturday, November 15th, just after noon. She weighted in at 10 pounds, 4 ounces. Mom Seabrooke and Baby are both doing well.


Here she is, taking her first car ride on the way home from the hospital. Below, she’s charming her new grandparents. We’re still waiting to learn her name. Congratulations to the new parents. We wish you much joy in your new life together.


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