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November

2017

November signifies a big change in seasons - SNOW! Whilst at the end of October we may have a few 'flurries', November sees the falling of more snow with poor visibility and accumulations. However the temperatures are generally erratic so a few days of mild weather, or rain, and what snow fell is all gone. Slowly, though, the temperatures go cold and stay cold....On a crisp sunny day the snow is, in fact, very pretty!

 

On those not so nice days when it's damp and rainy small indoor jobs can be done.

 

For a number of years I have enjoyed making soap. The whole process fascinates me (wish I'd enjoyed Chemistry at school as much!) Basically you mix an acid (oils) with an alkaline (sodium hydroxide) and they neutralise each other out and create soap! Obviously this is really a very big simplification of the process as there are a number of additional ingredients and factors that enable the process to either work - or not, as the case may be.....If the ratios of acids, alkalis and water are not correct, it doesn't work. If the temperatures of the acid and alkaline are incorrect, it doesn't work. Once a successful mix is created and poured into a mould for setting, it takes four weeks for the chemical process to finish. Soap should be as near to neutral (ph7) as possible and this tested with litmus paper.

 

Home made soap still contains glycerine which is why home made soap isn't as drying to the skin as commercial soap. I rarely need hand-cream after washing with soap that I make.

 

Years ago I had a go at woodcarving and really loved it. As yet I haven't found a source of wood (and more importantly - the time) to have another go so I decided to try carving soap! It was somewhat tricky  - not to say rather messy - but I did achieve a reasonable looking fish! One advantage of carving soap is that nothing is wasted and if it doesn't go to plan it can still be used!!

 

Finally, whilst walking amongst our trees I saw this....To me it looks like a face with a pointy hat and a full beard. I hope it does to you!!

October

In October we went to Bermuda to visit old friends. We used to live on the island and it is always a pleasure to return. The architecture of the houses is so recognisable with their unique design, colourful walls and brilliant white roofs. The roofs are kept meticulously clean as rain is collected off the roof and stored in tanks under the house; this is how Bermudians get their household water supply! It makes you VERY water conscious when the level of the tank is going down and rain isn't forecast for weeks...

 

The other striking colour in Bermuda is that of the sea;  glorious clear water in shades of intense greens and blues. The island is a visual delight as it is very colourful!

Bermuda became a British territory in 1707 and is now the oldest remaining British overseas territory.

 

Whilst Hamilton is now the main town that is in the centre of the island (which is only 22 square miles in size!), St Georges was the first capital. There is a town square, Court room and replica of the 'The Deliverance' . 'The Deliverance" is one of two vessels that were made from the 'Sea Venturer' which was run aground during a hurricane in 1609.  The occupants of 'Sea Venture' stayed on Bermuda for 9 months. Two vessels were made to transport some of the original ships passengers and crew to their original destination in Virginia. The other ship was 'Patience'; both ships seem aptly named!

Bermuda has a number of forts and a large dockyard that was built as a base for the British Royal Navy. Building work started in late 1700's with the labour of local artisans, workers, and ex-slaves. When more labourers were required convicts from the UK were brought in by ship. The history of Bermuda is colourful and very interesting.

 

I saw this tree in St Georges on one of our previous trips and it is such a good example of how diverse, unique and interesting art can be! We often think of art as drawings and paintings but there is so much more! There is glass engraving, sculpture, glass blowing, carving, painting, mixed media, photography, knitting, sewing, fashion, clothing, model making etc., etc.

 

 

Apart form drawing I also really enjoy creating with needle and thread or with my knitting needles. I love steam trains (which should be apparent from my drawings!) and is a family shared enjoyment. My brother works on a steam preservation Railway in Devon, England. The pullover featured in this photo was made for him! (There were sleeves added!!). The main body was knitted in a variety of textured wools to depict soil, hedging, grass, aggregate and sky. I then knitted the bars of the gate, the sheep and the steam train and appliquéd these into place. It was fun to do! (and yes, he does wear it!!)

 

The picture below is made from fabric. It was made for visually impaired children. When a child is visually impaired having a lot of different textures to feel is very important. The fabrics are rough, smooth, crinkly, ridged, furry, etc.. There are also of a good variety of colours to aid with visual stimulation.

 

The experience of our own son being visually impaired as an infant has inspired me in lots of creative, tactile works.

September

September has become our summer! At last we have had days of sunshine and heat! Unbelievably we had several frosts in August and even resorted to having our heating on a couple of mornings!

 

Due to the damp summer our woodland has been host to many mosquitoes so I have been enjoying walks in different places. We are fortunate enough to have a fresh water spring on our land and it is home to many species of wildlife.

 

The ducks are frequent visitors. The commonest duck in Ontario is the Mallard duck, with the male being so readily identifiable with its green-blue feathers. The female - as most females in nature - are more conservative in colour and blend well into their surroundings. The ducks pair and mate but once the eggs hatch the male disappears off to pastures new leaving the female to tend to the off-spring. The female lays 9-12 greenish-buff eggs which are incubated for about 4 weeks. When the ducklings hatch they are capable of swimming and feeding themselves but stay close to their mother for protection.

 

One day I noticed this mother with seven 'ducklings'! I'm not sure what you call 'teenage ducks' as ducklings to me are those cute little fluffy balls of feathers, newly emerged from an egg. Given the number of predators - foxes, coyote, eagles, hawks, fishers (a large animal similar to a stoat), pikes and herons - it is quite remarkable that this mother has managed to keep so many of her young safe.

 

Once the weather cools at the end of summer these ducks migrate to Mexico, Central America and even the Caribbean. I find it truly remarkable how birds are so capable of navigating such immense distances, and need to do so twice a year!

I was asked a number of years ago to do a series of duck drawings for a new nursery. I found the project very pleasing and just loved using the duck in the images, creating several amusing scenarios. The drawing below is just one of a number, with 2 more featured on my Contact page.

As regular readers of my Journal know, we have 2 Maine Coon cats. These are rarely allowed out side for numerous reasons, the 2 main ones being the predators as mentioned for ducks, and the fact that they are predators themselves and are capable of catching numerous small mammals.

 

In order to limit the success of their natural instincts both cats wear 'bear bells'. These are large bells similar to those you'd expect on a winter sleigh and are designed to warn bears away when you are out hiking...The cats also have a number of smaller bells attached to their collars so do, in fact, sound very much like a winter sleigh!

 

These bells are predominately successful but cats are patient and stealthy....This juvenile Chipmunk was proudly brought to me by one of the cats. It was lucky as the cat simply carried it in it's mouth and hadn't done any disastrous damage. You can see the ruffled fur from his experience! We carefully looked after the Chipmunk to ensure 'shock didn't occur, then let him find his way home again. I watched him as he went scuttling eagerly across the flower bed and into the nesting hole.

 

Chipmunks are so friendly and frequently come very near, even eating offered seeds from your hand! Then are very adorable!!

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