Tuesday, 28 July 2015

A buck in our garden

I was out in the yard in the evening taking pictures of the garden today.

Rugosa roses
 It's mostly too late in the year and too hot for roses, but I took some photos of the last few rugosa roses in the village.  They smell so sweet.
 I forgot to water my herbs and the thyme died, but the mint is still going strong and the fennel is doing pretty well too.
 The first tiny zucchini!  There are six or seven zucchini plants in a bed.  We are going to have so much zucchini.
Cucumber flowers
 Most of the cucumber plants are planted outside now, but this one seems to have been left behind.

That side of the yard used to be an orchard, but a lot of the trees are gone now (they don't live forever) so it's just mown meadow.

I took some pictures of the buddleia, but didn't manage to capture any of the butterflies on it. They always move by the time the shutter goes off. I took and deleted a lot of pictures of butterflies where the butterflies were not actually present in the frame. Attempting wildlife photography with a phone camera is frustrating.

 There are some old fruit trees left, apples and pears and a crabapple. The pears are pretty but they don't actually taste very good so I don't know if we'll bother to get the ladder out and pick them.

 The gardens have been neglected since my grandma died nearly ten years ago, so they've been mostly taken over by blackberry brambles. My brother cut them back to the ground two years ago, but the garden looks like the hedge around Sleeping Beauty's castle. Himalayan blackberries are invasive here.

 There are a lot more blackberries ripe, and they're no longer incredibly sour.

I turned around, and there was a buck looking at me.
He was about twelve feet away but he wasn't bothered by my presence.  He looked up when I took photos and then he went back to eating grass.

Those pictures aren't great, but they're the best I could get. Deer just won't hold still. I deleted a whole bunch of blurry pictures of the buck with a derpy expression on its face and legs at awkward angles. Deer look really weird when you photograph them mid-walk.

It's really common to look out the window and see deer, but usually they're does. Sometimes I look up from the computer and there's a deer staring in the living room window at me. I haven't been around deer in the better part of a decade, so it's kind of surreal to have all these wild animals that aren't scared of humans wandering around. It's like being in a fairy tale. I expect one of them to open its mouth and tell me my future.

The tree behind the buck in the second picture we call the bear tree. It was planted about fifteen years ago when one of the old apple trees died, but trees take a long time to grow so it's not that big yet. It has the best apples out of all our trees, but a few years ago a black bear climbed it to try to get at the fruit. So now it's at a forty-five degree angle to the ground and propped up by a piece of 2x4, but it's still alive and still covered in apples.

The bear tree

Apples on the underside of the bear tree.  We are going to have so many apples too.  I don't like sweets so I probably won't eat many, but the guys upstairs will probably make blackberry-apple pie.

The sun set and I went back inside and made a cup of coffee, and saw a flash of movement through the living room window. I looked out, and there were two bucks with velvet-covered antlers about six feet from the house, standing up on their hind legs to pick apples off the underside of the bear tree and then putting them on the ground to take bites off them. I took a photo through the window of a startled buck looking at me with an apple in its mouth. It was too dark and the flash reflecting off the glass ruined the photo, but the buck had the funniest expression on his face.

I texted my brother upstairs about it, and he was annoyed. That's the best tree and we're waiting for those apples and they're not even ripe yet. Nothing is safe from the deer. He wanted to see a picture of the deer at least, but I didn't have one, so he had to settle for me describing the scene over text message.

Stranded orca saved by volunteers

At Hartley Bay on the north coast of BC, an orca stranded on the rocks was kept alive for eight hours by a team of whale researchers and volunteers.  From the CBC July 24 2015:

Early Wednesday morning, the group received a call from a colleague about the beached orca, which was stuck on some rocks at low tide.

"We decided the best thing to do would be to keep her cool, that meant to put water on her body and we used blankets and sheets," said Hermann Meuter, a co-founder of Cetacean Lab.

"It was the only thing we could do."

Meuter said they could see the orca's behaviour change as they began to help her.

"At first she was stressed, you could see that her breathing was getting a little faster," said Meuter.

But after about 15 to 20 minutes, she began to calm down.

"I think she knew that we were there to help her," said Meuter.

Around 4 p.m. PT, the tide began to rise and the orca was able to start freeing herself.

"It took her about 45 minutes to negotiate how best to get off the rocks," said Meuter. "We all just kept our distance at that point."

When she swam away, the orca was quickly reunited with her pod, which was nearby.
(CBC July 23 2015)
That's one lucky whale.  People in the comments are arguing about the morality and wisdom of either saving whales or not saving them.  My brother says he would have helped but a lot of people are saying it's a dumb idea.  Canadians are the weirdest sometimes.

The transient orca was spotted beached on the rocks near Hartley Bay on B.C.'s northern coast on Wednesday. (Whale Point/Facebook)

Volunteers wet towels and blankets in order to keep the orca cool and wet. Courtesy of Whale Point/Facebook

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Garden: July 26 2012

It's late July and the garden is doing great!  This is all my brother and cousin's doing.  I don't even water it, I just take photos.

We have one lone hanging basket left that nobody's watered in about seven years.  It's all sedum and grass now, but it's still hanging on.

Sedum and grass

Red basil

Sweet green basil

 Most of those tomatoes are green because my cousin and I eat them off the plants as soon as they're ripe.
 The tomatoes the guys seeded are getting big and putting out green tomatoes now.

 There's a few strawberries but usually the slugs get to them before we can.

 My brother's weird old Russian Niva 1600.  He wants to buy a Mustang.

The thistles are doing great.  The bees like them too.

Friday, 24 July 2015

Did a Muslim walk on the moon?

Someone once insisted to me that a Muslim space shuttle made it to the moon before the American one did. She was a teacher I had in college, and she thought that fact proved that Muslims were superior to Americans. I asked her when that was and what the mission was called and she just kept repeating the word for “space shuttle” in Arabic and eventually I gave up.

Some time later I got on the internet and did some Googling in both languages and found out that there was a rumour that Neil Armstrong heard the athan on the moon and converted to Islam there. (The rest of this story is under a cut).

Pot Plants Found Growing In Canadian Cities

A pot plant (some sources report there was more than one) was spotted growing among other plants in a Vancouver traffic circle near Ontario St. and 19th Avenue.

At least one of the neighbours was in favour of it:

"Someone's bound to throw seeds in one of these places," said nearby resident Eric Lamond, one of several people on the scene Monday, who smelled the plant and inspected its buds.
He said he's noticed other marijuana plants growing in similar traffic circles in the area.
"I love it," he told CBC News. "It's beautiful, it's a beautiful plant, we should all be enjoying it right? It's nature." (CBC July 20th 2015)
 The plant was gone a day later, but it turned out to have been "legal and harmless" as it was a male cannabis plant:

Vancouver police Sgt. Randy Fincham said the plant was removed for analysis and found to be a male cannabis plant, which produces little to no THC, the chemical responsible for marijuana's psychological effects.

Fincham added it's unlikely police will find the person who planted the seeds. (Huffington Post July 23 2015)
If the plant was female, it would be illegal and would have to be destroyed. Police found the plant was male, which means it is just a (totally legal) hemp plant and the other marijuana plants in the traffic circle can remain. Toronto Star July 21 2015)

 It's likely the seeds were planted by marijuana activists:

Dana Larsen, a marijuana reform activist from Vancouver, said he’s tried to plant seeds a number of times, but the plants usually get destroyed.
“Normally, they get spotted by someone before they get so large,” Larsen said. He suspected the plant was grown from a clone or cutting in order to give it a head start.
Larsen said people plant marijuana in public spaces because they believe it should be legal, and like to see it thrive alongside other vegetation.
“If you put it in your backyard, you can get arrested. If you put it in a public space, everyone can enjoy it,” he said. (Toronto Star July 21 2015)
 This isn't unusual for Canada.  A week before, pot plants were found growing in public planters in Swift Current, Saskatchewan:

Swift Current RCMP found a different and unusual kind vegetation in one of the city's planters. Officers were called to the 200 and 300 block of Central Avenue North on Monday. They found several marijuana plants growing amongst other flowers, turning the plant holders into pot holders. 
"Somebody ... dropped some seeds; that would be the most logical reason," said Swift Current RCMP Staff Sergeant Gary Hodges.
"We have no idea of who was responsible for it."

RCMP officers have removed and destroyed the plant.  It is not known how long the marijuana plants have been growing before being detected. They have since been removed and thrown out.
Hodges also noted it was a type of plant which has a lower THC level than what would be found in medicinal marijuana.  (CBC July 17 2015)
The plants were certainly very pretty:

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Beatboxing with a recorder

This is is Medhat Mamdouh, he’s a 22-year-old hip hop and dubstep recorder player from Cairo.  He’s been teaching himself this beatbox-recorder style since he was 14.  This article links to his social media sites.  He’s on Facebook and YouTube and Soundcloud.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Gracie is a stubborn cat

Our tabby cat Gracie sees me hold up my phone to take a picture of her and turns her head, every time. Not just a little bit, as far as it goes so I can't get a picture that isn't terrible. I swear she knows what she's doing. I posted a picture of her doing it on Instagram today, but that's only funny once.

So my Instagram is almost entirely pics of Jesse (and flowers, I photograph a lot of flowers), except on the rare occasion where I catch Gracie sleeping. But she clearly doesn't want her picture taken (do cats even understand what photos are though?), so I haven't been photographing her recently. People were starting to wonder what happened to her. Nothing, she's just stubborn.

Friday, 17 July 2015

Eid al-Fitr 2016

It’s dawn on Eid morning and there are no other Muslims here and no masjids.  No takbeer.  No one will ring my doorbell to ask for eidiyya.  No children in new clothes.  No Eid swing.  No cap guns.  No ma3moul.  I have a doctor’s appointment this morning.

Eid mubarak everyone.

Monday, 13 July 2015

Let me tell you about our cats

We have a female tabby cat named Gracie and a male black cat named Jesse. They're both around sixteen years old. They're both barn cats, but they're in the house a lot too.

Gracie isn't shy, but she doesn't usually like to be touched. Sometimes she does like to be touched, but there's no way to know which one it is this time unless you try. I don't usually try unless she's rubbing against my legs. I let her make contact first. Usually though, she just comes in and eats and leaves again. That's fine. That's how she is.

Jesse is very shy and very skittish. I lived here for months before he would even come near me. He's always out running around in the fields, but he's also skinny and he's always hungry. I used to leave kibble for him under the porch. When the weather got warmer, I started leaving the side door open to get some fresh air and he started coming inside the house to eat. He comes in and noisily chows down at least three times a day, and he's eating upstairs with my brother too. He's probably only thin because he runs constantly.

When Jesse finishes eating, he stands on the other side of the room from me and yowls at me to come pet him. If I'm busy, he will come closer, and I'll stick my hand out, but he won't come within reach, even if he's only an inch from the ends of my fingers. I don't know what that cat's deal is, but I always have to get up to pet him. And I usually do. My brother doesn't, but he says Jesse's been doing that forever and nobody knows why. He's unlikely to stop now.

My mom tells me not to let the cat train me, but I don't mind. Life is short and his life will be much shorter. He’s already sixteen. He won’t be around forever. I don’t mind getting up a few times a day to pet him and make him happy.

He's extremely affectionate and can't get enough attention, now that he trusts me. During the day, he will sit on the couch for a while, drooling and kneading and purring like an outboard motor while I pet him, and then go back out again for a while. He comes back in in the early evening and spends all evening and night sleeping on the couch beside me, snoring softly. I stay up all night while the whole house is asleep, so it's nice to have company, even if he's asleep too.