notes about nature by ~pgadey rss

This is about my indoor garden.

Plant Cam


Arthur is my oldest house plant.He has the most interesting history of my plants. He is, in some sense, and old friend of mine.

  1. Moved from London to Peterborough to attend Trent (in 2006)
  2. Lived in Champlain college
  3. My room was pretty drab
  4. Bought my first plant

  5. Carried the plant around for years

  6. Moved to Robinson

  7. Left the plant at Robinson

  8. Rescued the plant from the punks

  9. Carried around Toronto

  10. Finally repotted on 2016-06-29

Sedum morganianum

Balcony Pigeons

I took some photos of the pigeons that visit my balcony. Hopefully there will be more information on these birds eventually. Last summer we had a pair of pigeons nest on our balcony. This time around, I thought it would be good to get photos of our visitors.


This pigeon showed up recently. I started filling up a small food of tray for it. It is nice to have an outdoor friend again.

Solar Sketching


This gadget was made out of an old pair of binoculars and a tripod I found on the street. It needs a better more stable mount. We're going to take off everything other than the one magnifying lense.

Allan Sketches

These sketches were made at Allan Gardens in Toronto.

Botanical Illustration

[2016 V 29]

As of last Monday, Victoria Day in Canada, I've been on an art kick. Today I spent a couple hours sketching flowers that I found around the neighbourhood. Soon I'll make scans of my illustrations available. For the time being, here are some photos of the specimens that I illustrated.

Purple flower Bleeding heart

Presently I am very interested in learning to improve my abilities in the imitative arts. I especially enjoy attempting anatomical diagrams of plants and architectural drawing. Sticking to my love of simple tools, I am focusing my efforts on pencil sketching, fountain pen calligraphy, and watercolour.

[2016 V 30]

Today I scanned the pieces from my notebook.

[2016 VI 02]

Some additional scans from my notebook. The orchid is on the window sill above my desk. The small yellow flower was drawn through The Amazing Enlarger (a "microscope").

ROM Sketches

These sketches were made at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto.

The Worship of Nature
2016-05-30-1 at 02h

The Worship of Nature

John Greenleaf Whittier (1807–1892)

 The harp at Nature’s advent strung
       Has never ceased to play;
 The song the stars of morning sung
       Has never died away.

 And prayer is made, and praise is given,
       By all things near and far;
 The ocean looketh up to heaven,
       And mirrors every star.

 Its waves are kneeling on the strand,
       As kneels the human knee,
 Their white locks bowing to the sand,
       The priesthood of the sea!

 They pour their glittering treasures forth,
       Their gifts of pearl they bring,
 And all the listening hills of earth
       Take up the song they sing.

 The green earth sends its incense up
       From many a mountain shrine;
 From folded leaf and dewy cup
       She pours her sacred wine.

 The mists above the morning rills
       Rise white as wings of prayer;
 The altar-curtains of the hills
       Are sunset’s purple air.

 The winds with hymns of praise are loud,
       Or low with sobs of pain,—
 The thunder-organ of the cloud,
       The dropping tears of rain.

 With drooping head and branches crossed
       The twilight forest grieves,
 Or speaks with tongues of Pentecost
       From all its sunlit leaves.

 The blue sky is the temple’s arch,
       Its transept earth and air,
 The music of its starry march
       The chorus of a prayer.

 So Nature keeps the reverent frame
       With which her years began,
 And all her signs and voices shame
       The prayerless heart of man.
Reflected Spot Sundial

Last summer I made an uncalibrated reflected spot sundial. It lights up a tiny spot on the living room wall near sunset. Hopefully I'll get it calibrated this summer. The first image shows the reflected spot, about to be devoured by a flying dragon. The second image shows the small mirror, near the top of the white wall, which reflects the spot in to our apartment.

The set up

The reflected spot

Shots with times

[2016-04-24] Used the Plant Cam to take some shots of the reflected spot in action. The total elapsed time is: 12m 53s.

2016-04-23 19-51-52:


2016-04-23 20-04-45:


[2016-04-25] Craig Sinnamon helped me stack the two timed photos in Gimp.


[2016-04-26] Craig and I though that a good next step would be to photograph the reflected spot on some kind of grid background. I printed off some grid paper, and put it in to position, but the resolution of the photos from the webcam is too small to capture the grid.


earth voices
2016-02-11-4 at 00h

Earth Voices

Bliss Carman (1861-1929)


 I HEARD the spring wind whisper
 Above the brushwood fire,
 "The world is made forever
 Of transport and desire.

 "I am the breath of being,
 The primal urge of things;
 I am the whirl of star dust,
 I am the lift of wings.

 "I am the splendid impulse
 That comes before the thought,
 The joy and exaltation
 Wherein the life is caught.

 "Across the sleeping furrows
 I call the buried seed,
 And blade and bud and blossom
 Awaken at my need.

 "Within the dying ashes
 I blow the sacred spark,
 And make the hearts of lovers
 To leap against the dark."


 I heard the spring light whisper
 Above the dancing stream,
 "The world is made forever
 In likeness of a dream.

 "I am the law of planets,
 I am the guide of man;
 The evening and the morning
 Are fashioned to my plan.

 "I tint the dawn with crimson,
 I tinge the sea with blue;
 My track is in the desert,
 My trail is in the dew.

 "I paint the hills with color,
 And in my magic dome
 I light the star of evening
 To steer the traveller home.

 "Within the house of being,
 I feed the lamp of truth
 With tales of ancient wisdom
 And prophecies of youth."


 I heard the spring rain murmur
 Above the roadside flower,
 "The world is made forever
 In melody and power.

 "I keep the rhythmic measure
 That marks the steps of time,
 And all my toil is fashioned
 To symmetry and rhyme.

 "I plow the untilled upland,
 I ripe the seeding grass,
 And fill the leafy forest
 With music as I pass.

 "I hew the raw, rough granite
 To loveliness of line,
 And when my work is finished,
 Behold, it is divine!

 "I am the master-builder
 In whom the ages trust.
 I lift the lost perfection
 To blossom from the dust."


 Then Earth to them made answer,
 As with a slow refrain
 Born of the blended voices
 Of wind and sun and rain,
 "This is the law of being
 That links the threefold chain:
 The life we give to beauty
 Returns to us again."
2016-02-11-4 at 00h

The Loom of Years

Alfred Noyes (1880-1958)

 In the light of the silent stars that shine on the struggling sea,
  In the weary cry of the wind and the whisper of flower and tree,
  Under the breath of laughter, deep in the tide of tears,
  I hear the Loom of the Weaver that weaves the Web of Years.

 The leaves of the winter wither and sink in the forest mould
  To colour the flowers of April with purple and white and gold:
  Light and scent and music die and are born again
  In the heart of a grey-haired woman who wakes in a world of pain.

 The hound, the fawn, and the hawk, and the doves that croon and coo,
  We are all one woof of the weaving and the one warp threads us through,
  One flying cloud on the shuttle that carries our hopes and fears
  As it goes thro' the Loom of the Weaver that weaves the Web of Years.

 The green uncrumpling fern and the rustling dewdrenched rose
  Pass with our hearts to the Silence where the wings of music close,
  Pass and pass to the Timeless that never a moment mars,
  Pass and pass to the Darkness that made the suns and stars.

 Has the soul gone out in the Darkness? Is the dust sealed from sight?
  Ah, hush, for the woof of the ages returns thro' the warp of the night!
  Never that shuttle loses one thread of our hopes and fears,
  As it comes thro' the Loom of the Weaver that weaves the Web of Years.

 O, woven in one wide Loom thro' the throbbing weft of the whole,
  One in spirit and flesh, one in body and soul,
  Tho' the leaf were alone in its falling, the bird in its hour to die,
  The heart in its muffled anguish, the sea in its mournful cry,

 One with the flower of a day, one with the withered moon
  One with the granite mountains that melt into the noon
  One with the dream that triumphs beyond the light of the spheres,
  We come from the Loom of the Weaver that weaves the Web of Years.

The Infinite Stars

A.C. Holm

 I stand at night and gaze up at the sky,
  A huge, inverted bowl above my head ;
  Upon its blue-black concave surface spread,
  Unnumbered twinkling lights intrigue my eye.

 A bit of conscious clay upon a speck 
 Of age-cooled fire-mist, sun-warmed into life,
  With mortal eyes I glimpse a vastness rife
  With stars whose years no finite mind may reck.

 Across their background glows the Milky Way,
  The cradle-place of new born stars untold,
  Whose light shall shine adown eternity,
  When those now bright have long been dark and cold.
  And as I marvel at this vast array,
  My spirit bows in deep humility. 

In Spite of Everything, the Stars

Edward Hirsch (1950)

 Like a stunned piano, like a bucket
  of fresh milk flung into the air
  or a dozen fists of confetti
  thrown hard at a bride
  stepping down from the altar,
  the stars surprise the sky.
  Think of dazed stones
  floating overhead, or an ocean
  of starfish hung up to dry. Yes,
  like a conductor's expectant arm
  about to lift toward the chorus,
  or a juggler's plates defying gravity,
  or a hundred fastballs fired at once
  and freezing in midair, the stars
  startle the sky over the city.

 And that's why drunks leaning up
  against abandoned buildings, women
  hurrying home on deserted side streets,
  policemen turning blind corners, and
  even thieves stepping from alleys
  all stare up at once. Why else do
  sleepwalkers move toward the windows,
  or old men drag flimsy lawn chairs
  onto fire escapes, or hardened criminals
  press sad foreheads to steel bars?
  Because the night is alive with lamps!
  That's why in dark houses all over the city
  dreams stir in the pillows, a million
  plumes of breath rise into the sky. 
2015 IX 27 Eclipse
2016-02-11-4 at 00h

Hello! There will be an eclipse tonight.

If you were in the Tycho crater on the moon, on the site of Surveyor 7 at 23:45 ET, the view would look like this. A remarkable sight. Mars, Jupiter, Mercury, and Saturn will all be hanging around the ecliptic; surrounding the sunset encircled Earth.

NASA has all put up all the technical details here (local mirror).

There are many quotations related to eclipses and arranged by David Le Conte are available here.

 At a Lunar Eclipse (1906)
 By Thomas Hardy

 Thy shadow, Earth, from Pole to Central Sea,
 Now steals along upon the Moon's meek shine
 In even monochrome and curving line
 Of imperturbable serenity.

 How shall I link such sun-cast symmetry
 With the torn troubled form I know as thine,
 That profile, placid as a brow divine,
 With continents of moil and misery?

 And can immense Mortality but throw
 So small a shade, and Heaven's high human scheme
 Be hemmed within the coasts yon arc implies?

 Is such the stellar gauge of earthly show,
 Nation at war with nation, brains that teem,
 Heroes, and women fairer than the skies? 
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