Thursday, March 28, 2013

Garden work

Now that the weather has warmed up we've all been inspired to get out into the back yard and do some work.  Even Sue (who lives in our downstairs suite) has got into the act. She's an avid gardener and has offered to take on the vegetable garden which has been sadly neglected the past two years. We are lucky to have her expertise and good company. 

Meanwhile Harry is prettying up the garden shed by adding window trim and straightening up the grape arbour.

And as for me, I've been reading up on pruning through Cass Turnbull's marvelous book and have been cutting back the grapes and tidying up the plum tree.

I guess we can safely say that the season of garden work has begun.  We enjoy it when the weather's nice and it beats paying to exercise at the gym.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Images from an early morning walk

Spring is coming to Haliburton Hill and sometimes we even get some sunshine.  Earlier this week I took a walk with my camera.  Here's what caught my eye.

Sun glowing on the red/green Arbutus branches

Long shadows on the road as the sun comes up

Brightly lit skunk cabbage flowers that popped up in the swampy pond in the woods.

Happy Spring!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Trusted house sitters

The other day we took a ferry trip to Mayne Island to visit our housesitters Peter and Deb.  They are a wonderful couple who took care of our dogs for 17 days while we went to Mexico in February.

We are so lucky to have found a fabulous way to link up with people who are happy to come and stay in our house and take care of Maggie and Geordie while we take trips.  We connected with them through a website,, where we were able to post an ad about our house and our dogs to find house sitters who wanted to come to Vancouver Island.  It cost us nothing to post the ad and the house sitters will take care of our dogs for free.  In exchange they get to stay in our house and use our car to explore this part of the world. It's a win-win situation.

Peter and Deb are from Australia and are dedicated travellers and dog lovers. They rented out their house in Perth and have been house sitting their way around the world for almost three years.  They tell us that there are several house sitting websites that they use to connect with homeowners all over the world who are looking for reliable people to come and mind their houses.

They responded to our ad on the housecarers website because the dates were perfect for them. They were house sitting in the Yukon until early February and then were going to Mayne Island (just a short ferry ride away from here) for five weeks at the the end February.  We e-mailed them and talked with them on Skype and checked their excellent references so we felt comfortable in making the arrangements.

Of course it's a bit of an act of faith to invite people you haven't actually met to come and stay in your house.  But through the magic of Skype where we were able to have some in-depth conversations about our dogs and their needs and about their background we felt comfortable with it.  We picked them up at the airport when they flew in from the Yukon, put them up in our spare room and spent the next morning going out and about with the dogs.  By the time we left that afternoon we were confident that they would be able to take good care of our pups and our home.  And in fact they did. Peter took charge of Geordie and handled him beautifully. They even sent us photos and videos of our dogs while we were away.

To top it all off, they picked us up at the ferry when we arrived back and brought us home to a wonderful meal and a couple of happy dogs and a squeaky clean house.  What more could we ask for?

Well actually, there's even another bonus.  We now have some new friends.  Like I said, we visited them at their current housesit on Mayne Island and spent a fun afternoon hiking through a lovely area there.  Here are Peter and Deb with Maggie and Geordie on Mayne Island.

The other sites Peter and Deb have mentioned are Trusted Housesitters and Mind My House.

Apparently there are a lot of people out there who are wanting to come and take care of your house and dogs and if you do your homework you can find some wonderful people like Peter and Deb so you can go off on a trip knowing that everything will be taken care of at home.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Warm, wet weather: aka the Pineapple Express

The weather forecast is the same for each day this week:  RAIN.  The temperatures however are in the 50s (Fahrenheit) so we'll call it signs of spring.  The Pineapple express brings warm temperatures and rain from Hawaii to Vancouver Island.

Yesterday it actually dried out for an hour or two and we took the dogs into the woods.  Here's what it looked like.  There are leaves on the Indian Plum and the Arbutus bark is being washed clean. I love the look of the wet Arbutus trunks, it really intensifies the red and green colours.

And of course there is moss growing everywhere, especially on the big cedar and fir tree trunks.

It's spring, west coast style. 

Monday, March 11, 2013

Back in the flow

We are surfacing again after the flu. It took a while.  Saturday's lovely sunny weather helped I think.
I was able to sit outside on my patio in the late afternoon sun after doing some garden clean-up.  The grey weather this time of year is so depressing.

On Saturday it felt like we'd turned the corner into spring, but Sunday morning dawned grey and dreary so it was just a glimpse.  Still that's enough to get me out into the garden.

And I'm now going to painting class twice a week and am beginning to get into the flow there too.  Here are a couple of my works in progress.  You can see I'm into reds these days.  Maybe something to do with re-energizing after the flu bugs have departed.

These photos are taken with my new little Panasonic Lumix camera.  My Canon G12 bit the dust while we were in Mexico. I was a little disappointed as it was less than two years old but I must admit that I had taken thousands of photographs so maybe it was just worn out.  To repair it would have cost more than the camera cost new. This new little one was on sale and had a longer zoom lens and fits easily in my purse.  

Friday, March 1, 2013


We got back home last Friday afternoon but since then I've been sidelined by a nasty flu bug.  Just now a week later I'm surfacing but Harry has succumbed.  I guess this is the price we pay for taking three airplane flights in one day.

Weather has been nothing but rain and clouds since our return.  The dogs are happy that we're home although they had wonderful care taken by our housesitters Peter and Deb.  When I'm feeling better I'll post a bit about the house and petsitting websites we've discovered.  They're an amazing resource.