Wednesday, August 16, 2017


As part of the Canada 150 celebrations the National Capital Region engaged Mosaïcultures Internationales de Montréal to create an exhibit reflecting Canada’s history and diversity. The end result is a spectacular kilometer-long walk through some stunning horticultural sculpture.

We’d been meaning to visit and finally got around to it today. We were blown away by the artistry and attention to detail – all done in various types of plants, grasses, mosses, and so on to provide the texture and colour the artists desired. It is reported that 3 million plants of 80 different varieties were required to create this magical garden.

problem neighbour Aside from seeing the odd trimmed cedar in a front yard I’d never paid much attention to this art form. Supposedly all the rage in Victorian times it had fallen out of favour but is now making a modest comeback.

It is, understandably, extremely labour intensive and expensive (reported cost – $10 million to put on this particular exhibit of 100+ sculptures) so don’t expect to see this type of exhibit  too often. But if you ever get the chance to visit one, go for it, as these examples were truly beautiful.

Walls and roof of 'station' covered with mosses.

Canadian Pacific train crossing the Prairies. Life-sized and all plants.

Inukshuk and puffins.

Copy of a famous Orca sculpture by BC’s Bill Reid.

Inukshuk and polar bear.



Celebration of Canada’s links to China.


Mother Earth. She’s probably 30’ high.

Not horticultural art but still amazing creations by a British artist (forget her name) who uses driftwood as her medium.

All in all a great way to spend the day. Best of all, it was free. (Worst of all was the $53 parking ticket I got because I misread the sign. The fact that there was actually a free space should have been my first clue. Sigh.)

Friday, August 4, 2017

Tinfoil and vinegar

I decided it was finally time to get down to doing some work on the Kawasaki. A while back I had cleaned and rebuilt the carbs. (One of the POs – don’t know which – ‘forgot’ to replace a few small parts like springs and such and mis-installed a few others, proving once again that some people should never be allowed near tools.) Not surprisingly, once the carbs were set up properly it fired right up and ran well. Since the heart seemed strong it was now worth my time and effort to get it into reasonable shape to pass a safety check and, ultimately, get it licensed.

IMG_0140Fork seals were leaking and the clutch cable was frayed. The exhaust system was also leaking. And just overall, the bike looked ratty, which could trigger a more detailed safety inspection that I wanted.

Seals were easy to replace, as was the clutch cable (although very messy as it’s routed next to the front sprocket and is therefore subject to a lot of chain lube spray). A new, less radical, set of bars was obtained (surprising how many new parts are still available for a 35-year-old motorcycle), and the air box was replaced by 2 separate air filters.

IMG_0077But I wasn’t sure how to proceed with cleaning up all the surface rust on every chrome surface. As you can see from this shot of part of the rear fender it was pretty ugly. And every chrome surface was similar. Enter Google and YouTube where I discovered that a bit of tinfoil dipped in vinegar would remove that surface rust and leave the chrome, if not pristine, at least shiny.

I was pretty skeptical but decided to give it a try.


Et voila! Worked like a charm. The chrome is still pitted and will rust again if left to the elements, but the improvement is remarkable.


And just to highlight the difference, one muffler has been cleaned up and the second has yet to be touched. That’s tomorrow’s job.


So who knows? I might get this thing on the road this summer after all.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

La Machine

La Machine is a street theatre company from France known for it’s larger-than-life mythical mechanical creatures. (

Never having heard of them before I was intrigued when I heard that they were making their North American debut here in Ottawa, and so we decided to head downtown today to see them in action.

Of course, so did a few hundred thousand other people (it seemed), resulting in quite a crush as folks tried to jockey for position to see these creatures up close and get that perfect photo. One of our small group suggested that going up into a parking garage might give us a better vantage point and so we did. Fortunately for us it turned out that the machines – Kumo and Long Ma - would eventually come right past us. Good call Max!

It was quite a spectacle, and a great way to enjoy one of the first really nice days we’ve had this year – on my birthday no less.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Getting motivated … or not.


Day after day we continue to be deluged with near-record rainfall. May was about 3 times normal accumulations, June came in at about double normal, and we’ve already had a normal July’s worth of rain and we’re just 1/3 of the way through the month. Golf has been rained out more often than not and riding hasn’t fared much better with only a few hundred kilometres put on the bike since I got it – about 4 fill-ups worth. Our garden is drowning and all I’ve done with the boat this year is bail it out – several times. And if one does decide to venture out of doors the fact that mosquitoes and black flies are breeding at a rate previously unheard of for this time of year will drive you back inside in short order. Depressing seems too mild a term.

IMG_0050Instead there’s been a lot of indoors activity, including adding to my collection of ‘some day’ projects.

As some may know I’ve started making cigar box guitars just for fun. Up until now they have been acoustic only because I didn’t have an amp. That changed Sunday when I picked up a gently used practice amp that will allow me to start putting pick-ups in my guitars and test them out. I have a few that now need to return to the workbench to be modified and they have been added to the projects list.

IMG_0135I also scored a vintage Singer treadle machine base on Sunday. Not sure what I’ll do with it just yet (the most obvious solution is to make it into a table, but I have some other ideas as well). It’s intact but for the pitman arm which is missing and I’ll need to make a replacement for that. On this particular model the arm was made from wood so I should be able to create a reasonable approximation from some scrap oak or maple. That’s another project for another day.

Now I just need to get motivated to “git ‘er done”, as the locals would say, and start finishing some of the dozens of other small projects I have underway.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Syringa vulgaris

If the title hasn’t already sent you to Wikipedia, syringa vulgaris is the taxonomic name for the common lilac, which grows in abundance in these parts and throughout much of Europe and the US as well. It is also the state flower of New Hampshire.


And why am I writing about this? Well this is peak flowering season for lilacs here and the air is filled with their scent, making for very pleasant rides in the countryside.

This month (May) has seen record rainfalls in this area with accumulations more than 3 times the normal average. Combine all that rainy weather with a 2-week absence while we were swanning around Europe and you’re left with about 3 riding days all month.

However yesterday offered up a few hours of sunshine and dry air so I managed to jump on the bike (I really do need to come up with a proper name for her; “the bike” just doesn’t do it) for a quick ride into town to run a few errands. All along the route the lilacs were in full bloom and the smell as I would pass a house with dozens of bushes in the yard was truly divine. Mother Nature’s perfume as it were.

Just another excellent reason to ride rather than being cooped up in a cage with the air-conditioning on.