by day and by night   25 comments

Small-eyed Sphinx (Paonias myops) moth

I always mean to post to my blog more often, but time just seems to fly by. Those of you who read my old blog, Burning Silo, will probably remember that I posted almost daily, even when traveling in the most unconnected of places. These days, I’ll suddenly realize that it’s been two weeks since my last post and think, “Yikes! Has it been that long?!”. When working around this place, I’ve found that work is measured in weeks rather than days. Most repairs take a couple of days and often include a trip to the lumber yard or hardware store for the necessary materials.

Since my last post, I’ve been busy both by day and by night. More about the days in a minute, but first the nights. The weather has been a bit difficult here this spring. It seems like things just warm up and get feeling nice, and then we’re back to cool, wet weather. I’ve been trying to photograph moths at night, but without a great deal of success due to the low temperatures. However, there have been a couple of nice evenings when the moths came to the sheet that I put out over a plastic lawn chair with one of those old “bug zapper” lights beneath (set up so that the moths don’t get zapped). I photograph every different species that I see, and then post the photos in a gallery that I’ve set up for this location here at Round Hill. Later, I work on identifying the species, often helped by others who are knowledgeable about moths. While most of the moths are small, occasionally a large moth will come to the light. Lately, it has been Small-eyed Sphinx (Paonias myops) moths that have been coming to the moth sheet – see image above and click on it for a larger view. They usually show up late in the evening – after about eleven when I’m just about to turn off the lamp and call it a night.

I’ve been letting a few people know about the moths that I’m seeing and this has resulted in some interesting feedback. Yesterday, Christopher Majka, a research associate at the Nova Scotia Museum, helped with some IDs and also emailed to let me know that at least 7 of the moths I’ve photographed thus far, are new records for Annapolis County. Also yesterday, Bill Oehlke, who is a specialist in Sphingidae and Saturniidae, emailed to say that my recent reports to him had inspired him to set up a checklist page with thumbnails of the Sphingidae (Sphinx moths) of Nova Scotia. It’s those kinds of interactions that help me to feel at least somewhat as though my life is a little more normal than it has been for a couple of years. It’s still a long way from ever feeling like it is right anymore, but at least there are flashes of normalcy here and there.

Nessus Sphinx (Amphion floridensis) moth clinging to Gill-over-the-Ground

Interesting moths and other insects are also seen by day as well. Last Wednesday (June 2), Sabrina found a Nessus Sphinx (Amphion floridensis) moth for me out in the back yard. It was clinging to Gill-over-the-Ground, which grows rampant in place of lawn grass in my of the yard – see above photo. It’s a beautiful little sphinx moth which I’ve photographed back in Ontario too. Interesting to me is that the last time I photographed one was also on June 2nd in 2008, as it was nectaring at Dame’s Rocket flowers at Mill Pond Conservation Area near Portland, Ontario. That was the last time we were at Mill Pond before Don became too ill to go out for walks that summer. It may seem odd to those who haven’t lost someone very close, but almost everything you see or do seems to remind you of the last time you saw that thing, visited a place, or did certain things with a person before they became too ill, or died. Just another of those aspects of losing someone that few people seem to talk much about.

Rotted out sections above one of the front windows on the house

About a week ago, I finally got around to repairing one of the worst sections of rotten wood on the front wall of the house. Good thing too as it has been raining like hell for the past three days and I shudder to think of the mess that would resulted if all that water had gotten into the wall through this opening. In the above photo, the rotted shiplap siding has been removed to reveal further rotten planking beneath. I tore that out too, and replaced both planks and siding and put a large flashing over top of the window (it had no flashing before) in the hope that it won’t rot out again anytime soon. Unfortunately, I still don’t have a source for the correct siding, so had to modify some clapboard. I can see the difference, but unless it’s pointed out to others, I doubt most would notice that there are a couple of strips of the wrong type of siding in the wall.

Rotted remnants of planks along with a piece of birch bark that fell out of the wall when I took it apart to repair

A couple of interesting discoveries came to light while I was pulling the rotten wood out of the wall. The first was a sheet of birch bark that fell out from between the planking and the shiplap siding. I’ve noticed more of it here and there behind sections of loose siding as I’ve been re-nailing and repairing the walls. Apparently, it was used to help weatherproof the walls in the days before tar paper or plastic vapor barriers. The other discovery was what looks like the initials VK carved into one of the second layer of planks beneath an outer first layer and the siding. These were exposed after I removed all of the rotten stuff. So, now I get to puzzle over the identity of VK – also the initials of my paternal grandmother who definitely never visited Round Hill, so just a coincidence!

The house after repairing the walls up to above the rotted section shown above – and the new little flower garden with the chair where I never have time to sit

Anyhow, after a couple of days of tearing things apart, replacing planks and siding, caulking, and applying primer, the wall is looking much more weather resistant – just in time for the deluge over the weekend. I’m sorry I wasn’t able to work faster and get much higher up the wall as there are a couple of other spots that I would like to have fixed, but that’s just how things go. As of today, the outside walls of the house are so damp that it will require at least a few days before I can proceed with more repairs. A little frustrating, but that’s okay. I’ve turned my focus onto repairing plaster walls and ceilings in the upstairs of the house in anticipation of a moving truck bringing my belongings from the storage locker in Ottawa – probably in another week or two. The arrival of my “stuff” will create a bit of chaos here, but I’m finding it difficult to live without some dressers and shelving, and also finding that I keep needing this or that tool that is stored in the back of the locker, or just missing certain objects that I haven’t seen since I packed them up over a year ago before selling the farm. Living with your clothes and a few possessions in plastic tubs does get a little tedious and annoying after awhile – even for someone like me who is used to traveling with my clothes packed in a few gym bags in a cargo box on the roof of my van.

So, I guess one might say that there’s been some progress around the place. To me, it barely seems that way as I’m in the middle of it all, but I do believe things are improving. Still no water supply though. Last week, in anticipation of the impending deluge, I bought two 45 gallon rain barrels and they are full to the top after yesterday — and that was after a couple of loads of laundry done last week in a big plastic tub which I agitate using my cherrywood Grey Owl ottertail paddle. I’ve found that using the box stroke – a type of ferrying stroke – works very well for mixing the clothes all about and getting them nice and clean. Some might find conditions a little spartan here, but I don’t mind it at all. Feels like living to me.

As I sit here typing this post, I can see the river below – just a couple of small patches of it through the foliage of the maple and ash trees. The flow must be very good this morning as I see glittering flashes and they’re really moving. Time to take the dogs for a walk through the woods to see what’s happening down there.

I haven’t done so in a very long time, but I used to like to post links to good things I’ve seen while reading other blogs. I’m going to try to remember to do this again. Anyhow, a couple of weeks ago, Dave Bonta wrote about Portico Bat at his blog, Via Negativa. I’m sure that readers of this blog would enjoy that post as well.

Written by bev on June 7th, 2010