Squirrel harmony and spring seeds

The weather remains warm for Ontario in February, going a few degrees Celsius above freezing each day.  It should be good for the more tender perennials though lack of an insulating snow cover may not help.

I still hear after all these decades since I left, that grey squirrels are still wreaking havoc with the native red squirrel population in England.  Here, they seem to get along well together.  The red squirrels have barely hibernated at all, but the greys (mostly black around here – an Ontario variant) have only been out on the warmest days.  But there are more fights within species than across.

Black and Red Squirrels
Black and Red Squirrels

As you can see, not much snow cover and there was less a week ago.

So here’s hoping it will continue and I can get my seeds into the greenhouse a week or two earlier than normal.  It’s usually around now I start worrying I planted too soon but by late May I’m usually wishing I’d done more, sooner.

I like to have a few tomatoes in flower before they’re ready for planting; otherwise it is too long a wait for fruit.  These ones may be in time.

Tomato seedling
Tomato seedling

and of course you need basil for tomatoes:

Basil seedlings
Basil Seedlings

I have a few more: rosemary, snapdragons, castor-oil plant (ricinus) and delphiniums but their pictures didn’t work out.  Somebody has borrowed all my SLR lenses for a film-shoot so these were with my little Nikon point-and-shoot.

Bathtubs and literature

I just saw several tweets from people I follow, with links to a story and picture on a functional bathtub made from books. Some people have told me that I am a little eccentric in reading so much in the bath, but this piece of art shows that I am not alone in this sensible arrangement for those of us who like a long, hot soak but would hate to have to choose between reading and bathing.

While this may have some practical merit, I have a functional bathtub made for books, which is much more practical.

Duck Board
Duck Board with books

The pen is filled with Registrar’s ink, which is waterproof (used for official signatures such as original birth certificates, and still available).  This is because I often get what seem like good ideas in the tub, and my memory is far from perfect.  Although I also read for pure entertainment, most reading is for reflecting on and so needs a little note-taking.

The post-its come in handy for marking interesting passages, which often finish up on my other blog (“Words, words, words”).

As well as the duck board, in case I feel the need for some inspiration from the visual arts, I have a large painting hanging a little higher on the white wall at the end of the claw-foot tub, painted by my wife Laurie.  It has been there for some years and I haven’t felt the need for a change, yet.

The duck board was made by my father, Frank, and has seen many years of service.  Thanks Dad!

What happened to Winter?

I think it went to Europe for a holiday; it was above freezing again today, still in February, but even southern England is frozen, with more snow on the way.  Mind you, when I phoned my parents today, in the north of England, they were having their usual rain but they had 3 or 4 kinds of flowers out already, including crocus and aconites.  I planted more seeds today, including Ricinus aka Castor Oil Plant.  Even the seeds are pretty:

Ricinus seeds
Ricinus seeds

It was a sunny day today but it’s rather drab with all the snow gone.  So here is another picture from last Sunday when the sun was just rising over the tree line and the ice from Saturday had not yet melted:

Crystal trees 1
Crystal trees 2