A Good Home, Birds, Hamlin Grange Photographs, Nature, Nature Photography

The Little Ones

PHOTOS BY HAMLIN GRANGE

We have babies!
“We” being the pair of doves that nest in the vines just outside our window.

Blog Photo - Dove in Freezing weather

Blog Photo - Dove in Freezing weather 3

These birds are monogamous. Their roles are quite specific at first and perfectly illustrate the term “nesting”. The male selects the spot for the nest (“Hey Babe: I’ve found us a nice piece of property!”) He also collects the twigs and brings them to the female, who builds the nest.

After that, the parenting duties are shared equally: the egg-sitting (the male sits on the eggs during the day, the female at night) and  the baby-feeding duties, and watching out for predators. 

This morning, we noticed that the mother/father had left the nest for a little while, so Hamlin took this photo through the window:

Blog Photo - Baby doves

Isn’t it a strange-looking little grey bundle?  They hardly look like birds!

Meanwhile, under our deck, the robins have built a nest. This couple shares the gathering of twigs, and the female builds the nest alone. It usually takes her 2 to 6 days.

I’m wondering if the female had help this time because the nest was built in just one day. (It was built after a night of soaking rain, which is ideal for gathering building materials.) 

Blog Photo - Robin's nest

And that, in my uninformed opinion, is an amazing feat. So we’ve decided to let the nest be.

Which means, when the robin babies are born, we’ll be dive-bombed every time we pass. Yikes.

Ain’t nature grand? 

Here’s more about the doves. 

And the robins.

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A Good Home, Canadian Gardens, Canadian life

Garden Friends

So, okay. I’m seriously not a Snow-White-and-The-Seven-Dwarfs-in-the-Garden kinda girl.

Blog Photo - Garden birdbath and blooms

Garden gnomes you won’t find here.

Blog Photo - Garden a beautiful shot of back garden

Blog Photo - Garden Horse

But I have garden friends.  I do!

Blog Photo - Garden rain - two birds at feeder

Birds, horses and butterflies…..

Blog Photo - Garden directions

Blog Photo - Garden - Butterfly on Mint

A green frog playing a bass serenade to the hosta.

Blog Photo - Garden Frog and Violin

A wind chime whose own song soothes our hearts, and tells us when it’s a windy day outside.

Blog Photo - garden wind chimes

Faces that steadfastly oversee the garden….

Blog Photo - Garden Sun face

Blog Photo - Garden Face

And welcomers for the newly bloomed clematis flower…. Namaste to you….

Blog Photo - Garden - welcome clematisThe nice thing about these friends is they listen to your troubles and never criticize.  They never say: “Leave those weeds alone!  And it’s 11 a.m.  Isn’t it time you got out of that tattered old houserobe and put on some decent clothes?”

Mind you, I’m glad for human friends who visit and make me laugh.

Like Pia, who insisted on getting a string to tie back the uber ex-uber-ant clematis that threatened to strangle her and all others who passed.

Blog Photo - Garden Friends

And Vito, our vintner-neighbour who claims that flowers are useless because – unlike grapes and vegetables — flowers can’t be eaten. It’s an ongoing argument and I think we both like that.

Blog Photo - Vito amid the flowers

~~

Dedicated to all who love gardens, and your garden friends too.

Photos by Hamlin Grange.

A Good Home, Art, Artists, Beautiful Neighborhoods, Bond Head, Butterflies, Canadian life, Canadians, Children, Country Homes, Country Living, Couples, Homes, Inspiration, Joyful Moments, San Miguel de Allende, Teaching Children Art

At Home with Sandra Walton-Ball

David Walton-Ball opens the door of his summer home, east of Toronto, and is greeted by a child looking up at him:

“Can Sandra come out to play?”

Blog Photo - Artist Sandra and David in Orchard

Sandra — you may be surprised to hear —  is not a child.

Blog Photo - Artist Sandra's Studio Wall

She’s David’s wife, a talented artist whose work hangs in galleries in Canada and Mexico.

Blog Photo - Artist Sandra Painting of Island

Blog Photo - Artist Sanda Painting side viewNeighborhood children gravitate towards her and she loves them. So she teaches children to create their own artwork.

Blog Photo - Artist Sandra and Student

She and the children have developed a system at her small studio at the summer house.

Blog Photo - Artist Sandra stands at work table

If this sign is up, Sandra can’t come out to play.

Blog Photo - Artist Sandra's Sign

In Mexico where she and David spend the winter, Sandra teaches art to children whose parents can’t afford to pay for lessons.

“We put on Andrea Bocelli and the children sing along.”

San Miguel de Allende is home to many artists from Canada and the U.S.

Blog Photo - Artist Sandra and Leonard's painting

Years ago, Sandra met Leonard Brooks, an esteemed artist who started the Canadian and American migration to San Miguel. They became friends. That’s one of his paintings behind her, above.

Music playing, the children in her studio sing and paint. This is her gift to them and their families: encouraging the children’s creativity. She introduces them to the styles of Mexican artists such as Frida Kahlo.

Blog Photo - Artist Sandra Gesticulates

You wouldn’t know that, nearly 20 years ago, Sandra was so ill, she was on life support for months. It took her 15 years to start painting confidently again.

Blog Photo - Artist Sandra Reaches for brush

Once recovered, she decided to take more risks with her art. And so wherever she is – in Owen Sound, the family’s main base, or in San Miguel de Allende, or here at the summer home near Toronto, she’s painting – doing “gutsier and more experimental work”.

Blog Photo - Artist Sandra's Yellow Flower painting

“When something happens to disrupt your life, you recognize that things can happen and you may not get a chance again – so you start taking risks.”

Blog Photo - Artist Sandra's Framed painting Abstract

David hired someone to turn half of the garage into a studio with skylights, and there’s been no looking back.

Blog Photo - Artist Sandra Studio Outside

Generations of the Walton-Ball family have lived in Historic Bond Head for about 150 years.

During World War 2, the family planted and supplied potatoes to all their neighbours.

(Another historical tidbit: David’s first ancestor in Canada is the “Walton” for whom Port Hope’s main street is named. Port Hope, a famous heritage community, is near Bond Head.)

Blog Photo - Artist Sadnra window garden

Through 50 years of marriage, Sandra has seen how special the place is to David. It’s grown on her.

Blog Photo - Artist Sandra in Sunroom wicker chair

“I fall in love with it each summer. Each year my garden grows. And now, like Virginia Wolfe, I have a room of my own, so it’s easier to find my heart.” 

They love this place for the history, the house, the studio, the family times, the garden and the orchard. Some of the apple trees are more than a hundred years old.

Blog Photo - Artist Sandra and David Picking apples

One summer, Monarch butterflies visited Sandra and David here. (Monarchs fly from Mexico all the way to Canada each summer and back.)

“You couldn’t see a leaf,” Sandra says. “The trees were covered with Monarchs.”

That magical event led to this painting….

Blog Photo - Artist Sandra Butterflies CU

Blog Photo - Artist Sandra's Butterfly painting

… and a gift: a butterfly chair from David.

Blog Photo - Artist Sandra and Chair

“Perhaps the Monarchs were saying thanks for all your good works with the children in Mexico?” I ask.

“Perhaps,” Sandra replies.

Blog Photo - Artist Sandra Wheelbarrow with flowers

To learn more about Sandra’s work, or to acquire her paintings, email: swaltonball@gmail.com

A Good Home, Daughters, Family, Family Moments, Flowers, Following your dreams, Garden, Guitar Playing, Home, Joyful Moments, Learning to play the guitar, Life in canada, Mothers, Pets, play music, Verandahs

A Sweet Sound

Twang, pling. Pling twang.

Pling, twang. Pling, twang.

Pl–ung???

My daughter is learning to play the guitar.

Blog Photo - Playing guitar 1

I knew she was committed when she bought her own guitar less than a week ago.

Next she cut her beautiful fingernails. One by one.

Then she watched a YouTube tutorial and downloaded a guitar chords app.

Pling pling. Twang twang…

Blog Photo - Guitar Playing CU reverse shot

She sings softly, willing her fingers to follow her tune.

Pling, pling, twang twang, twung…. Shi….!

She senses my presence and doesn’t finish that word.

She utters a loud sigh instead, rolls her eyes, shakes her head.

Blog Photo - Guitar playing with sky reflected

I’ve joined her on our farmhouse verandah. The day is crisp, cool, but beautiful. (Can you see the blue sky and evergreen spruce trees reflected on the front of her guitar?)

Birds are singing, her father’s gardening and our daughter’s little dog Mr. J.  stops and listens for a moment to the guitar playing, before running off to bark at yet another squirrel.

Blog Photo - Guitarist plays, Mr J watches

But Daughter is entirely focused on the guitar strings.

Head down, dark hair falling forward and almost covering her face, she returns to a wordless, intense concentration.

Pling, pling… 

She keeps going, singing and strumming, no mistakes this time. Even the flowers in the garden bed nearby seem to be bopping along to the tune.

Blog Photo - Tulips in garden near verandah

I applaud when she finishes.

Blog Photo - Fernleaf Peonies

In her twenties, she’s learning to play a new instrument.

How to hold it.

How to position her left hand, her right hand.

What to do when her fingertips get tender, even sore.

Soak them in cider vinegar,she says.

“Oh!” I’m surprised to learn there’s yet another use for cider vinegar. “The thing’s got as many lives as duct tape.”

“It really works!” she says, smiling. “It helps me to keep going till my fingertips toughen up. Smells awful, but it’s soothing.”

It was the same routine the day before.

Her father, who has his own guitar but hasn’t played it in almost a year, stuck his head out the door, saw her strumming and disappeared inside.

He came back a minute later with his guitar. Soon they were strumming together.

Pling pling, twang twang. Twang twang, pling pling.

Another stray twung (or maybe it was a plung) sneaked in and they started all over again.

Finally, they were playing in tune.

“We’ve got a jam-session happening right here on our verandah,” I thought.

One of life’s sweet moments.

Today, Daughter is practicing again, and — hooray, she plays the song perfectly, again!

Blog Photo - Daughter plays guitar long shot

She’s conquered the tune to this good, simple, 3-chord song for beginners.

Amazing Grace.

And I listen and think, without saying:

How sweet the sound.