Datura Again..

Datura – Jimson Weed

This I had to share.

This morning I had one bloom – that would be it for today, I thought. I just happened to glance out my bedroom window at the balcony now, almost dusk, to discover two more this evening. Looks like several more will open tomorrow.

So I went out on the balcony to photograph the plant – oh my – what an overpowering scent. My airway immediately shut down – had to head back indoors. I’m still wheezing. Lovely to look at, though!

This is yesterday – covered with aphids! I promptly dug out my Safer Soap, prepared a spray bottle, and doused the plant. I guess the aphids haven’t prevented the blooms from opening. I’ll douse the plant again tomorrow morning.

Marlene, my friend who gave me the plant, told me I’d enjoy it. She was definitely right.

Five Islands

Five Islands is a spectacular location on the NS Fundy Coast on the way to Parrsboro via Hwy 2 (the Glooscap Trail). Sitting on a park bench yesterday at Lighthouse Park, overlooking the islands, it’s clear from the panorama that at one time the islands must have been one continuous point of land projecting into the Bay connected to the mainland beyond the island at the far left of the photo. In the photo you see the western end of Moose island on the left. From left to right you have Moose, Diamond, Long, Egg, and Pinnacle islands. Beyond Pinnacle Island you can just see a seastack called Pinnacle Rock on the far right.

Five Islands at low tide

I’ve been driving by Five Islands on my way to Parrsboro for more than twenty years. Each time I’ve always wanted to take a photo of the islands at that spot on the highway where you come around a bend and see the islands through a gap in the trees. But there’s no stopping spot there – there’s sort of one on the water side of the road but I have never stopped until yesterday. I left the car parked on the shoulder, hazard lights on, and walked ahead until I got to the exact location where you can see the islands framed by the opening in the marsh.

Five Islands

The perspective here is somewhat different from the view at Lighthouse Park – you only see four islands with Moose Island on the far left and Pinnacle Stack on the right. At this angle, Diamond Island is hidden behind Moose.

My friend Ruby and I sat for quite a while on the headland bench enjoying the peaceful quiet of the afternoon. There were a pair of clammers digging quahogs on the mud flats while the tide was out but they quickly ended their harvest when the tide began coming in. This is the Bay of Fundy – the tide comes in very quickly and the water becomes very deep very fast. These locals were taking no chances and although their buckets were only partially full they knew enough to leave at the first sign of water returning.

At Five Islands

I was able to capture a photo of Ruby on the bench watching the men at work in the distance. This will definitely be my next wall art piece. I love her relaxed posture, her position against the coast, her head against the sky. I don’t know whether I’ll show low tide or imagine the Bay at high water. All to be determined.

The two of us had a lovely day. I wanted to return to the exhibit to take more photos and I knew Ruby would love to see the quilts hanging. After a short visit to the gallery (we were sneaking in because it was closed to visitors yesterday due to social distancing restrictions (there was a drawing workshop happening with Tom Forrestall) while the workshop participants were away having lunch), we had delicious lobster rolls at the Harbourview Restaurant then slowly made our way back to Halifax, taking side trips on small roads I’ve passed for years but never explored.

It was a lovely day.

BTW – show comes down Aug. 20 in the afternoon.

My Indoor Vegetable Patch

Last week my sister shared an idea with me – she’s been growing green onions on her window sill for several weeks. She suggested I try doing it myself. You buy a bunch of green onions, cut the greens off (chop them and use them) but put the white bulbs in a glass of water and, lo and behold, you’ve got green onions growing you can harvest for a salad as you need them. She tells me they grow for weeks.

Green Onions & Lettuce

Why not lettuce, too? On my last grocery shopping trip I bought a pair of hydroponically grown green lettuces, roots still intact. So instead of chopping them all up (and throwing away half) I plunked each in a planter with some water – I’ve got lettuces growing. I can harvest a few leaves from each as I need them for a small salad and the plants keep on growing, looks like.

What fun! I bet I can get some dill to grow that way, too. I must look for some dill seeds to germinate.

I don’t like tomatoes well enough to start an outdoor pot for tomatoes – I buy a single tomato every so often if I think I’m going to use one in a meal.

It’ll be interesting to see how long my lettuces will actually grow like this. When these two poop out, I’ll just pick a couple more.

A Must Read by Atul Gawande

I’ve passed on bits of information about the COVID-19 pandemic before. I just read this article by Atul Gawande – a surgeon and medical writer) which I’ve summarized; however, I really recommend reading his whole article if, for nothing else, than to enjoy the clarity of his writing (click on the title to get to the article).

From The New Yorker

Amid the Corona Virus Crisis,
A Regimen For Re-Entry

Atul Gawande

The New Yorker, May 13 2020

________________________________________

[I’m both quoting and summarizing Gawande’s discussion in what I’ve shared below]

“… Hospitals have learned how to avoid becoming sites of spread. When the time is right to lighten up on the lockdown and bring people back to work, there are wider lessons to be learned from places that never locked down in the first place.

These lessons point toward an approach that we might think of as a combination therapy—like a drug cocktail. Its elements are all familiar: hygiene measures, screening, distancing, and masks. Each has flaws. Skip one, and the treatment won’t work. But, when taken together, and taken seriously, they shut down the virus.”

  1. Cleaning your hands is essential to stopping the transfer of infectious droplets from surfaces to your nose, mouth, and eyes. Frequency matters – The key, seems to be washing or sanitizing your hands every time you go into or out of a group environment, and every couple of hours while you’re in it; plus disinfecting high-touch surfaces at least daily (like your phone). BTW environmental transmission (i.e via touching things) may account for as little as 6% of COVID-19 infections, he says.
  2. The virus spreads primarily through respiratory droplets emitted by infected people when they cough, sneeze, talk or simply exhale (singing in a group is very hazardous!). That’s why physical distancing is so important – the six foot rule. While not perfect (some people’s sneezes can travel up to 20 feet!), it helps a lot since most droplets seem to fall within a 6 foot radius.
  3. COVID-19 is not actually crazy infectious – an infected person might infect 2-3 people while going about ordinary life but that means the disease spreads. Exposure time matters: less than 15 minutes with an exposed person makes spread unlikely. Again, the 6 foot rule goes a long way to shutting down this risk.
  4. In the health setting daily screening of all employees, patients, and visitors for symptoms of COVID-19 is crucial for preventing the spread of the disease. People are asked to confirm that they have not developed:a new fever,
    cough,
    sore throat,
    shortness of breath,
    loss of taste of smell,
    or even just nasal congestion or a runny nose – [My take-away from this, is we need to monitor ourselves for these symptoms constantly and keep away from other people should we experience any of them and stay away for another 72 hours after we’re feeling better.]
  5. The critical thing about COVID-19 is that the virus can make people infectious before they develop any symptoms of illness.
    That’s the reason for MASKS! Combining social distancing with masks can block the spread of respiratory droplets from a person with active, but perhaps unrecognized, infection.
    The cloth masks, while not as effective as surgical masks, can block droplet emissions, as well. (And the virus does not last long on cloth; viral counts drop 99% in three hours.)
  6. “Culture, is the fifth, and arguably the most difficult, pillar of a new combination therapy to stop the coronavirus….It’s about wanting, among other things, never to be the one to make someone else sick.” [It’s all about social responsibility – accepting that my actions can have serious (even lethal) consequences for other people.]

The first of the official guidelines in the US for re-opening is at least 2 weeks of very low to zero new cases! This is most difficult – waiting for the number of new cases in the community to drop to zero (or almost zero) and stay there.

I was explaining to someone the other day it’s kind of like the difference between setting off on a car trip to Chester vs a car trip to Vancouver! You’ve got a very different mind set when you start out to go to Chester – it takes an hour and the trip’s over before you know it. The mind set for a car trip to Vancouver (from Halifax) is a committed undertaking – you know it’s going to be a long, uncomfortable, inconvenient, sometimes boring, haul. 

Well, we’re all taking that car trip to Vancouver right now – we need to accept the expectation that our commitment to – frequent hand washing, self-monitoring, social distancing, wearing masks, and remembering each of us does this not just to keep ourselves safe, but to keep others safe – will have to go on for a LONG time. The better we are at following the full regimen the safer we all will be and the faster we can experience the world beyond our homes safely again.

[Click here for the original article by Atul Gawande] 

COVID-19 – Some Interesting Information

I’ve read a lot of news during this time of physical distancing (five weeks? six weeks? is it now). In the last week I’ve come across two pieces of information that could prove significant should, heaven forbid, I start showing symptoms of COVID-19.

The first is the “peanut butter sniff test” which I read about in the National Post (April 18 2020)

Peanut Butter Sniff Test

a simple do-it-at-home sniff test, using common household items, would allow participants — the great mass of us — to start tracking their sense of smell. In this way, an asymptomatic carrier who feels like a million bucks, but notes a diminishing sense of smell one day to the next, could consider quarantining, ASAP, instead of carrying on until their olfactory sense disappears altogether.

The second which I came across in the New York Times (April 20 2020) describes how the COVID-19 pneumonia is presenting differently than pneumonia from other viruses:

“patients are presenting with dangerously low oxygen levels and terrible pneumonia presenting on X-rays… Silent hypoxia progressing rapidly to respiratory failure explains cases of Covid-19 patients dying suddenly after not feeling short of breath.”

Pulse Oximeter

However, the doctor explains in this piece, “detecting silent hypoxia early through a common medical device that can be purchased without a prescription at most pharmacies: a pulse oximeter” would allow earlier detection of the pneumonia and therefore more immediate medical treatment.

My take away from these two articles is I can monitor myself in two ways. First, keep checking my sense of smell – loss of smell may occur even before other symptoms like fever, cough, upset stomach and fatigue appear. Should that happen, I need to quarantine myself (not just keep a physical distance) so I don’t pass on the virus.

Second, should I start showing symptoms I want to begin checking my blood oxygen saturation. This latter may be even more important than confirming the presence of the virus so a visit to the doctor may be warranted to make sure my oxygen saturation is checked. Since, as far as I know, oxygen saturation may not be checked except on hospital admission (which could be too late to escape a severe manifestation of COVID-19), that is something I will have to advocate vigorously for myself.

Just thought you might find these two tidbits worth stashing in the back of your mind. I’ll share anything else useful (and unusual) I may come across.

Mouldy Fruit Sculptures

You gotta take a look at these art pieces by Kathleen Ryan:

Mouldy Pear – “Soft Spot” by Kathleen Ryan

“Artist Kathleen Ryan creates a conversation between the beautiful and the grotesque in her oversized sculptures of mold-covered fruit. The New York-based artist uses precious and semi-precious stones like malachite, opal, and smoky quartz to form the simulacrum of common green rot on each fruit.”

Really, take a look at her painstaking work, it’s breathtaking.

Decadent Baked Goods

Came across this wonderful crochet set of bagels by Kate Jenkins.

Bagels by Kate Jenkins

Her work is quite marvellous and ingenious! Check it out:

Decadent Baked Goods Replicated in Crocheted Wool by Kate Jenkins

I crochet well but it never crossed my mind to create something like this! Truly amazing – if you click on the link you’ll see all of her terrific pastries.

My Sock Drawer

Three more “sleeps” until my cast comes off – Yeah! I can’t wait. I will finally be able to get back to creating – sewing, knitting, quilting…. Yes.

This evening I was at my sister’s place for dinner and noticed a lovely watercolour in her family room titled “Ian’s Sock Drawer” – an artist friend of hers must have seen one of Ian’s sock drawers (he has three) and done this bright painting of his socks, and because I haven’t any original work in progress to share I thought I’d share my sock drawer.

Here it is in two steps – I have three columns of socks in my sock drawer (43 pairs in all) of hand knit woollen socks – the oldest knit in 2003 to the most recent 2019. I have given away many pairs from this sock drawer – worn, yes, but with lots of life left in them, in order to be able to add new socks to my collection.

This is what it looks like today – jumbled – no order to the colours. Sometimes I take all the socks out and replace them so like colours are together but over time as I wear them and wash them, they get put back at the front of a column that has room to squeeze them in. So my colour organization disintegrates.

Sock Drawer (Part 1)

One of these days I’ll sit on the floor and reorganize them into colour families again but for now (since it’s summer and I’m wearing sandals) they’re staying the way they are.

Sock Drawer (Part 2)