Monthly Archives: October 2019

Citizen Science Notes

Hummingbird season here was May 12 to September 19. I still think of them making their way south after their first big task of crossing the Northumberland Strait in one go. I’ve read they end up in Mexico or Costa Rica for the winter, then make their way back here, year after year.

We used small feeders that stuck to our windows with suction cups for a few years, but switched to larger ones as the little ones needed daily refilling. The year after we switched, a couple of hummingbirds flew to each of the three locations where the smaller feeders had been the previous year, clearly showing that they were returning friends.

I joined Bumble Bee Watch in August after hearing Victoria MacPhail on CBC PEI encouraging Islanders to submit sightings. My guesses as to which bees I was seeing were way off, so I loved having my sightings confirmed by an expert (Victoria herself!). So far, I’ve recorded these two lovelies:

Bombus vagans – Half-black bumble bee (worker)
Bombus ternarius – Tri-colored bumble bee (worker)

I bought swamp milkweed seeds from Hope Seeds in 2016 and planted them in a few spots on our property. Last year they finally flowered, and this year we had our first monarch butterfly caterpillars!

I found one chrysalis, and it was fine for a few days, but I think a chicken also discovered it and gave it a peck, so that was that. Our milkweed patches are not large enough and that meant some caterpillars could’t get enough to eat, so I’ll plant more next year. Happily, I did see two monarchs, a male and a female, which is two more than I remember seeing in many years. I hope to register with Monarch Watch in the future.

Male monarch butterfly

In August, as I puttered in the garden, I heard what I thought was a hummingbird, and then this bizarre beast buzzed by. It’s a hummingbird moth, and it was hard to figure out at first if I was looking at an insect or a bird, which made it a bit creepy in a fascinating way! I’ve never seen one before, so perhaps my semi-wilding experiment is working…maybe too well!

Hummingbird moth briefly on some phlox, and forever in my nightmares!

Behold, the hummingbird moth in action!

Hummingbird moth, with the drone of crickets drowning out the moth wings.

So Enjoy Your Life

I made this fish biryani (every Thomasina Miers recipe seems to be golden!) for supper while listening to Enjoy Your Life by Marina more times than might seem appropriate for an old doll like me.

Stoic Week is going well (and Marina is half Greek, after all!), and maybe I’m not Stoic enough to sit back and enjoy my problems, as she suggests, but I’m working on it!

Sit back and enjoy your problems

You don’t always have to solve them

‘Cause your worst days they are over

So enjoy your life

Let The Sun Shine

Yesterday I turned 53. The universe and efficiencyPEI conspired to also make it the day that the cheerful crew from Renewable Lifestyles arrived to start installing our roof-top power plant.

For Greta, and her grandchildren.

The only time this feminist wants to hear “nice rack.”
And a one, and a two..
Kill switch, so no one gets killed.
Clemmie Churchill, naturally solar powered.

Stoic Week

Stoic Week 2019 begins tomorrow, and it’s not too late to sign up. It’s a free program and I’ve taken part for the last few years.

I enjoy all the readings and self-reflection that are built into the program, and I think I am generally happier because of it. I know that I like myself much more as I age, and this is due in no small part to not trying to control every situation, which is sort of Stoicism 101:

“One of the main strategies that runs through both Stoicism and this handbook is that of distinguishing between things that are under your control and things that are not. The Stoics believed that this takes training to do well but that it’s the key to self-discipline and overcoming emotional disturbances. Maintaining this distinction between what is and isn’t under your control requires continual attention to your own thoughts and judgements. We can describe this as a kind of ‘mindfulness’ practice. You’ll build upon this foundation by exploring different Stoic concepts and techniques each day throughout the course of the week.”
Excerpt From: Modern Stoicism. “Stoic Week 2019 Handbook”. Apple Books.

My life as a carer means I need to also take care of myself, but that’s not something I or most other carers do well. Stoic Week is a short burst of study and practice that helps me build resilience and critical thinking. Tell Seneca I sent you.

Dorian

Just found notes I made while we waited for our power to be restored after Post-Tropical Storm Dorian (PTSD, which is what I had for a bit!). September flew by in a series of post-summer board meetings, keeping me from posting, so I shall post this post-haste!

  1. Power out from Saturday, September 7, 17:10 to Friday, September 13, 20:30.
  2. Internet outages: Saturday, September 7 ,17:10 to Tuesday, September 10 19:15, and Wednesday, September 11 09:00-20:00.
  3. I missed the Internet more than electricity.
  4. Our average electricity costs to this point in 2019 is $3.84/24-hour-day or 16 cents an hour. We ran our generator for a total 30 hours for those six days and we used 40 litres of gasoline, so that works out to .75 litres/hour. At a cost of $1.14/litre, our generator cost was about 85 cents/hour or (if we had run the generator 24 hours a day) $20.40 a day. Electricity is a really great deal!
  5. Plug-in carbon monoxide detectors with replaceable 9v battery backups are cheaper to purchase, but they eat batteries like crazy, so I will replace these units with a type with a 10-year non-replaceable battery.
  6. A chainsaw with a dull chain is almost worse that not having a chainsaw at all.
  7. After 15 years of faithfully putting on chainsaw chaps, even when I’m just doing a quick job, I found out they work incredibly well (see little white cut in photo below).
  8. Rainfall amounts Saturday, September 7 = 76 mm, Sunday, September 8 = 26 mm
  9. Asparagus ferns are the only wind-proof residents of my vegetable garden, even though they look the most fragile. Dahlias and sunflowers collapsed in the first hour of the high winds, even though they look the strongest. Lesson there to be more flexible in challenging conditions.
  10. It’s still very dark outside when all the orange and bright white street lights that have been plonked in the middle of the country are doused.
  11. A landline will not always work, despite the promises. This was a big surprise after hearing the message for years that retaining a landline in addition to a mobile telephone is important in case of emergencies as it will always work.
  12. Landline outage: Sunday, September 8 from approximately 09:30-14:00; Monday, September 9 from at least 05:30-14:30; Tuesday, September 10 from at least 05:00 – 10:45.
  13. Chicken eggs laid during outage = 24 (no electricity necessary!)
  14. Canadian Tire in Summerside sold an emergency order of 70 generators that arrived on the morning of September 9 by noon that day. Centennial Honda only had three chainsaws left on September 10, and were out of many parts. To make a fortune, corner the generator and chainsaw market before storms.
  15. CBC Maritime Noon should always be 2 hours, just like it used to be.
  16. Media people, including power company spokespeople, say “check our website for more information” a lot. It’s a reflex now, and one I don’t usually notice, except when I can’t access the Internet. Internet-connected devices and service are not affordable by everyone, nor can everyone navigate a computer, so they are left behind even when the power is on.
  17. Never seen before: round bale of straw floating down the river, bleach bottle that blew into our yard from somewhere.
  18. Injuries = 0. Trees on house = 0. Trees on power line to house = 1 huge spruce, still very much alive. Trees down in our forest = a lot more than at any other time in my lifetime, possibly because much of our forest grew up after the 1960 forest fire and isn’t that diverse (a lot of white spruce, poplar, and white birch). What looks to us like a big mess is the forest canopy opening up naturally to allow the next generation to thrive.
  19. I thought very little about the current US president, nor anything else, really. The world kept turning, I just worried about feeding my family, getting water, cleaning up the mess in the yard.
The colours of fall.