succulent mini window box

I found two charming old bread pans put out at someone's curb so I brought them home to be planters.  Since I didn't want to try drilling holes in them I figured drought tolerant succulents would be a wise choice since they don't require nearly as much watering.  Succulents are water retaining plants (usually with fleshy leaves) that have evolved fine root systems to withstand periods of drought, so therefore your container should never hold too much moisture or require drainage and a special potting mix should be used to prevent too much water from building up (see recipe below).   
I've had these succulents recuperating on my stairs for a while.  Since my plants come from dumpster diving missions they're rarely labeled so the best I can do is: R - Portulaca, L - Sedum 

Succulent Potting Mix (also works for Cacti)
2 parts builders sand
1 part perlite
1 part potting soil
1 part peat moss


SCENEfest 2010: The Library Voices || The Rumble Devils || Arkells

The last SCENEfest I went to was in 2004, I had recently graduated high-school, had my first "real" photography job working for a promoter and was madly in love with Dallas Green (version 1.0 -- Alexisonfire)...  and if you asked me I would have told you there was no way in hell that in 2010, having recently not-graduated university, I'd be living in St. Catharines, with no professional photo gigs lined up and still in love with Dallas Green (version 2.0 -- City and Colour).  But my priorities have changed, I'm (relatively) happy with how things turned out and I had a great time at SCENEfest!  I spent part of the day with my family for my Grandfather's birthday so I didn't get to check out too many bands but a few really stood out:

The Library Voices:
I looooove large ensembles and I've wanted to check these guys out for a while but somehow every time they came to a town I was living in I've missed them.  Well, making up for lost time, I saw them play not once, but twice today!  And I'm glad I finally did :)  Dancing by the steps of the courthouse on my way to the bus terminal I only caught one song from their busking set - a cover of The Beatles' Help which seemed appropriate since they were fundraising for WarChild.  It put a bounce in my step on the way to dinner and was a nice breath of fresh air between the melodrama and irony surrounding me (maybe I've just grown up alot since the last SCENEfest I went to but there was an inordinate number of emo kids and hipsters).  On my way back from dinner, I again saw them from the sidewalk, this time in the window of Whitehaut .. their sound filled up the room, the walk, the street and everyone around.  Even the emo kids couldn't help but tap their toes!  They also sound alot better with all their instruments (their busking set was mostly handclapping and tambourines with some acoustic guitar)  that sax man can really jam and I love the rainbow guitar strap - I want one haha. 

The Rumble Devils:
Sometimes I have to sit through some pretty gawd-awful stuff while waiting for Camden's bands to go onstage but this time I was really glad to be early.  I didn't get to see too many bands tonight but of the few I did see the Rumble Devils were probably my highlight!  From right here in St. Catharines they are a great throwback to true classic greaser style rock n' roll and although they're a little rougher live than they sound on their myspace, they've got a great style that makes you want to jump around (or put on red lipstick and jump in the back of a fast car)  I really love that rockabilly/ska sound when its not too "genrefied" or cliched if you know what I mean.  These guys are the real womanizing, smoking, drinking deal and their music rings true as a result.  I hope they play around St. Cats some more cause I'd love to see them live again or maybe pick up a CD.   

The Arkells:
Ever since I saw these guys open up for Matt Mays & El Torpedo at the Outpost in Thunder Bay I've just loved them.  It takes alot of sound to fill the Outpost which they blasted out then, and although I think their style has changed quite a bit, they rock just as hard.  They were on way late which was good cause Cam's band was at the same time they were scheduled for.  I'm also glad I had a band wristband cause the lineup was loooong, but the crowed packed out the place which made for a great atmosphere despite the heat and sweaty-ness.  Pumping out one hit after another with a wall of sound they turned  a medium sized club venue into what could have been mistaken for a stadium show.  Tim Oxford doesn't get enough credit as one of the best Canadian drummers around these days and I had a great view of his kit from where I was standing.  I'm really excited to see where these guys go as they graduate from being a local favourite to mainstream darlings - which I'm sure they will, now that they've opened for Them Crooked Vultures!!

The Strange @ SCENEfest 2010


3rd generation rescue rats

In just 6 short hours today we went from being a 2-rat household to a 4-rat household!  But as fun and exiting as baby rats are, this is about more than just new furry friends.  This is about the power of passionate individuals / internet communities coming together to provide safe/respectful homes through an impressive rescue operation and the irony of having to save these animals from their "professional caretakers"..  It's important to adopt animals in need, and learn their stories instead of perpetuating mill style breeding by large pet stores.  These rats come from an impressive lineage that deserves recognition, so... let's start at the beginning:

May 2008:  A "rescue" organization called Angel's Heart in Moncton, NB realizes they are in over their heads.  With multiple litters of babies and a number of aging rats all crowded into cages in a shed they are running out of space and resources.  After posting a number of ads on kijiji and pet adoption websites the passionate crew of rat lovers from TheRatShack got involved and organized RatTrain08: a relay style rescue convoy that moved 100+ rats from New Brunswick to New York making stops along the way (Montreal, Kingston, Toronto, London, Windsor, Barrie, Sudbury) and arranging loving adoptions for them along the way.  Mikey (Michelangelo) and his three brothers were adopted by Loraine:  We adopted four adult male rats from the RatTrain in May of 2008. They were not friendly rats at all. They had never been socialized and all of them were scared and angry biters. Still, we loved them from a safe distance and gave them a good home. Surprisingly Mikey did come around and now lets us pet him, pick him up and he loves to give us "kisses" and sit on our laps.

April 2010:  The Toronto Humane Society closes its doors for criminal investigations after the animal cruelty related arrests of a number of executives.  Although most larger animals find homes or are moved to other shelters, many small animals such as rats, rabbits, degus and birds remain.  After hearing  of plans to euthanize these animals Loraine and her friends again come to the rescue of the "rescuers": [THS] were going to euthanize all animals that remained at the shelter after closing for renovations. They had several white rats and rabbits and so friends and I went up to see what we could do. I ended up taking home a family of 6 female rats. At this time Mikey was the only rat we had as the others had passed on and he was/is older and slower. 

How did I get involved?  Well sometimes, despite all efforts even the best rat owners run into trouble: We put the female rats in one large cage ferret cage...it appeared that they were safely kept in.  Well, one little hussy (Mabel) managed to squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeze her way out of her cage and get into Mikey's cage where we found her the next morning with a naughty, naughty, naughty expression on her face :)  Again the internet comes to the rescue:  I got an email from Niagara Action for Animals (through a friend)  looking for serious inquiries regarding homes for baby rats.  I had been considering finding some companions for Alice and Bella so I emailed back and within the day two of the babies had a new home and I had new ratties that I named Cecilia and Dahlia (Dale for short) in keeping with my alphabet theme. 
Its really nice being able to meet the parents of my new pets - both were healthy, well cared for/socialized, bred at an appropriate age (whether intentional or not) and lived in a caring home, not an anonymous pet store.  Adopting is a win-win situation!


rarely observed nuances of everyday objects

My grandma gave me this sewing box a number of years ago when I first got a sewing machine, but it wasn't until recently that I noticed just how interesting the box itself and the contents really are.  The box is a medium sized souvenir tin from Hilversum in North Holland showing some interesting architecture of their broadcasting studios.  The thread is true Canadiana - the common ones: Eatons, Simpsons or Sears  but also: The Canadian Spool Cotton Co. and a little mending kit from a "Master Furrier" in Leaside and my grandmother apparently favours English made hardware (pins and needles).  The wooden spools are are so much more tangibly interesting than plastic spools that are destined for recycling, and even the packets and price tags are interesting to examine.  She's a very special person to me and it comforts me to use the things she's given me in my everyday life.


when bad things happen to good plants

Today was rotten - from my stolen tomato plant to a variety of waiting in clinics and having blood taken my day wasn't going well and then while walking to the library I had another unpleasant surprise.
I went to water the veggies around 6am before the heat of the day and discovered a hole in my tomato planter box!  Not the kind that a digging animal makes... not even the kind of destruction that drunken party people make... but the kind of neat exact hole made by someone who knows enough to spot my best tomato plant and is determined to have it for themselves, hoop support and all :(  boourns!  I've at least repotted my next nicest tomato into a large pot and brought it upstairs!!
Then after a day of reading outdated magazines in too cold waiting rooms, all I wanted was to return my library books and get something uplifting to read.  On my way I was disappointed (but not overly surprised) to find that some maintenance crew for the parking lot had weed whacked all the baby morning glories (that I've been watching for weeks) as they were just starting to climb up the fence and open little flowers.  They were huge and lovely last year and seem to have self-seeded hundreds of little babies so I'm sure they will soon cover the fence.  Plus I know I can't expect everyone to have the same attention to detail and love for roadside plants that I do, but is it really necessary to constantly attack every green thing that slightly encroaches on any paved surfaces?


up-cycled tote into apron

I spill everything, lean against things I shouldn't, wipe every substance known to my hands on myself - my dad on the other hand is of the mentality that if you just take care, you shouldn't end up messy.  So needless to say when I saw this great recycled apron tutorial by @betzwhite (intended for Father's Day) it was myself that came to mind first not my dad.
Since I garden in my regular clothes (or just wear my gardening clothes all the time, depends on your perspective) I figured a gardening apron would be in order and the cloth on this Canadian Music Week bag was nicely worn in but not too dirty.
I also tend to run out into my deck garden whenever the thought comes to mind, often with cellphone, camera or mp3 player in hand - which then fall off whatever precarious edge I perch them on, through the grate and onto the pavement below - so I made my gardening apron with secret inside pockets to keep those things secure!


Get Out Niagara: Morgan's Point

I wanted to say a quick thanks @ChrisEnnest for the suggestion to guest blog on his site Get Out Niagara

 Exploring the Sandy Shores of Lake Erie 
Camden and I - Lake Erie


garden update

I finally have veggies for my garden!  Its debatable how many will survive so I've planted more than I need and I'll thin them out depending on which ones do better :) Two raised planters contain: unknown tomato transplants, sweet peppers, habernero peppers, hot portugal peppers, rainbow swiss chard, purple heirloom cauliflower, early pacman broccoli.  --  My herb garden is finally filling in around the little cedar tree: spearmint, chocolate mint, pineapple sage, thyme, marjoram, basil - regular, purple and lemon.  Right next to that, under the stairs, Camden did a great job of tearing out the weeds, spreading pea gravel and creating the spiral brick design.  The grass keeps coming back but I'm hoping after some successive weedings we can keep it clear enough to plant the sedums I have recuperating on the stairs.


hungry hungry caterpillar

I've been finding big holes in the leaves of all sorts of vegetables and perennials that I'm watering at the greenhouse.  Today I finally found one of the culprits - a lime green caterpillar called a cabbage looper (Trichoplusia ni) which I had suspected from seeing the brown adult moths.  These little buggers (pun intended) have been chewing holes in the eggplant and peppers mostly - not just cabbage as the name implies.  They are known as loopers because of the loop their body makes as they inch along inchworm style - and they  consume three times their weight in plant material daily!! (McEwen and Hervey 1960)