Fred & Aleta's annual letter Jan 2021- March 2022
                                                  January 2021 - March 2022
From two provinces


This has been a year of very little field work, for many reasons, most of them related to the Corona virus pandemic, and Life, which has always been adequately complicated, has become even more so. Our two major family events of 2021 happened in September: Aletas mothers health crisis, and Jennifer, Rory, & Sams pregnancy, new job (Rory), and new house in December. Wed hoped to have all the windows replaced in our little red Pipershouse before winter, as well as the exterior insulated and new wooden board & batten” siding, but in these COVID times, supply chain problems slowed the project down so that the windows went in after Christmas, and the foam-board was not delivered until mid-February. Fred kept both fires burning there at the request of Skyea the Cat.


Our friend & tenant, Judy Courteau, in our neighbouring white Weirshouse, has been spending most of 2021 in Ottawa, caring for her parents, so since Aleta flew to B.C. to care for her parents at the end of September, Fred was pretty much alone until she returned in March - and bravely learned how to survive, do his work, and get the house ready to be insulated & windowed. 


In terms of artwork, Aleta, after 2020s success with the launch of her NatureMatch card-matching game, has had no time in 2021 to promote it further – although she did design a first” jig-saw puzzle of her Musquash Bog painting, which has not yet been launched. However, over the summer of 2021 she painted four small watercolour portraits of wildflowers for the next edition of the NatureMatch game. While in BC with her parents, she painted three of the five portraits commissioned by the New Brunswick Museum, and began the last.


The natural history database grew by 5082 records.
Ponderosa Pine in West Kelowna, BC                     White Pine & Miscanthus, Wolford Twp, Ont.
January: This covid-sequestered year began with our weekly Friday evening Mudpuppy Night in Oxford Mills, mailings-around of NatureMatch games, and a visit to Mike Nickerson and Claire Beetge’s Lanark Eco-Village. Then virtually, a busy schedule of on-line meetings… the North Grenville Historical Society (Fred newly on the board), the municipal Environmental Advisory Committee, the Kemptville Faith & Science group, the Rideau Valley Archeological Society, the Ontario herp atlas publications committee, and the South Nation Conservation Fish & Wildlife Committee. 

February: The municipal heritage advisory committee passed a resolution -


"The Heritage Advisory Committee recommends the North Grenville Council acknowledge the data and specimens accumulated by Dr Fred Schueler and Aleta Karstad as an important element of North Grenville's heritage, and take appropriate, prudent, and affordable action to assist them in finding homes for their specimens, and in making use of their data and specimens for research and public education."


Aleta resumed cleaning for Jennifer’s “ Blissful Home Cleaning” house-cleaning business, and there were alarms & excursions about the health of Skyea the Cat, and a zoomed Darwin Day phylum feast, followed up with a “biodiverse” list of what everyone was eating. 

March: began with meetings about sites for canoe launches along Kemptville Creek, and the North Grenville Arts Guild’s program of circulating paintings, each one added to by seven acrylic-weilders.


As was the case across the province, sugaring produced much less syrup than usual, even though we had tapped some trees on Kevin Willeys land across the street. 


Frogs began to call on 20 March, which began a quest for Chorus Frogs for Vance Trudeau’s lab’s captive population, which is to provide stock for reintroductions to sites where this species has been lost – actual conservation action for Chorus Frogs 20 years after we held the first conference on their decline. We also, as usual, caught Wood Frogs for the Storey’s work on their freeze tolerance.


From 1 March to 1 August, Fred listened around the houses at night, recording any frogs, birds, or mammals he could hear, in "auditory monitoring from home." These records were entered into the Database, as well as all nature and weather observations throughout the day, all year round.

April: Chorus Frog work continued through April. Cary Gibson trimmed dangerous branches from all of our Maples, and we squished through the Fairmile Swamp and kayaked the Jock River, looking for Leopard Frog eggs for Vances lab. On 20 April we went to Brockville for our first COVID-19 vaccinations. Fred found a freshly road-killed Fisher in Limerick Forest, which had had a lot of flesh removed by Turkey Vultures. Since the Vultures had left the skin intact, we froze and shipped it Xpresspost in a cooler to the New Brunswick Museum, which was astonished to find that the cost of the shipping was $450. They immediately prepared the skin and dried the skeleton.
The tip of Aleta's kayak, approaching the most productive flooded grassy bank of the creek through the Richmond Fen, where Aleta paddled with Judy to collect Leopard Frog eggs for the Ottawa U breeding program.

May: Jenn & Rory began to prepare their house for sale, and we hauled away trailers-full of organic detritus, and transplanted Dandelions from their garden to ours. We made our one visit to an extreme low-water event on the Ottawa river on the 6th, to Petrie Island, with Judy Courteau and Carol Howard Donati, coming back with various observations, one specimen of a Hickorynut mussel, another of Pink Heelsplitter, and a drifted plastic palm tree. We also went out with Judy Courteau to catch Treefrogs for the Storeys freeze tolerance work.
On 18 and 19 May we went out with Judy Courteau to collect local Gray Tree Frogs for freeze-tolerance work at the Storeys' lab at Carleton University.      

June: the Chorus Frog work continued with collecting tadpoles for Amphibian breeding program at Ottawa University.


We joined the campaign to make the Bishops Mills Cheese Factory a municipal park, inserting the idea that invasive Buckthorns and Emerald-bored Ashes should be removed, and the site made a demonstration area for depleted native plants.


Aleta accepted the “Participaction” challenge for the month of June, and accomplished it barefoot, enjoying a whole month of firefly displays as she walked our road at night. She painted a small watercolour of this phenomenon from memory.

15 June second COVID vaccination for both of us, when we marvelled at a “Goose Garden” on the bank of the Moira River. 


On the 21st Fred stayed up for the Solstice dawn, recording a small faint chorus of Green Frogs, a faint chorus of Bull Frogs, and a few Blink Beetles glinting from the ground at 04h01, the first Robin call at 04h04, the first Robin song at 04h07 and a full chorus at 04h12. 


Aleta did an oil painting of a slot canyon on Sombrio Beach, Vancouver Island, commissioned for Rose Jackson’s birthday by her husband Steve, delivered on 29 June. 


"Gypsy" Moth observations: Fred grew up in Connecticut, where Lymantria dispar ("Gypsy Moths") defoliated the woods every summer. When they arrived in eastern Ontario in 2000, we had a few in Bishops Mills, but we haven't recorded them around home since, and during the extensive outbreak in 2020, we didn't see any near home. This year there was a lot of defoliation west of Bishops, and fair number chewed on the Apple and Sugar Maple trees around the houses (to the extent that on one night the sound of falling frass counted as "noise" in Fred's auditory monitoring), but they didn't affect complete defoliation of any trees. It's likely that the reason for the outbreaks is that the recent dry springs have made the biocontrol fungus, Entomophaga maimaiga, less effective.

July: Strathroy Convention (church camp) 2-4 July

Almonte Convention 9-11 July, both conventions listened to by phone, except July 9,  Friday, which was our fellowship group’s assigned day to attended in person. All wore masks except the speakers. 


Fred worked with Marc Nadeau towards getting MNR to remove Emerald-bored Ashes from the woods below the Oxford Mills dam, and began planting native wildflowers on the eastern bank. Aleta’s cousin’s widow Sandra Malcolm visited us from Inuvik.


Aleta helped daughter Jennifer train new employees for her housecleaning business, and helped with first-time and emergency housecleaning. She also began painting a series of 5 portraits in oils of Maritime biologists, commissioned by the New Brunswick Museum.


On July 14 Fred had an appointment with a kidney specialist who reminded us that good blood sugar control was needed to keep his nephrons functional.

August:  Aleta attended the 2-8 August DRAW camp on the Dumoine River, Quebec, barefoot. She did three oil paintings en Plein air and two illustrated nature journal pages.The painting on the right, "Dumoine Serenity" on the right, will be donated to Canadian Parks & Wilderness Society, Ottawa Valley for their fund-raising exhibition and sale in May 2022.

At the end of the month, Joyce and Tom & Wanda were clearing their drive shed of Francis Cooks accumulated papers, and we took on 86 bins of papers and stored them in our museum trailer, hoping for time, space, and assistance to go through them, to preserve & analyse the data they contain, and archive the papers that need to be preserved. 

September: 7 September we attended from home, the South Nation Conservation virtual meeting of Fish & Wildlife Committee, where Fred sits as Chair and Aleta as a member, taking notes. We begin in earnest to clear and sort storage areas in preparation for the replacement of all the windows in the little red “Pipers House” which is our current residence.


In early September Jennifer announced that she was pregnant. The baby will join Fred, Jennifer, and Sam in having a May birthday. In response to a request from a lab at Queens University that is doing environmental DNA in streams tributary to Lake Ontario and the St Lawrence River, we went with grandson Sam to Lyn & Golden Creeks for a sample of the rare mussel Ligumia nasuta.


At the Canadian Herpetological Society, 2021 Virtual Conference, we gave presentations on Possible Hibernacular Limitation of Snake Species on the Eastern Ontario Champlain Sea Plain,” and  Francis Cook's Herpetological Papers: Is There a Plan?”


Aletas visit to her parents, Lars & Martha Karstad in West Kelowna, began on 27 September to try to get her mom out of the COVID-overwhelmed hospital, set up palliative care for her, and to stay by her side until she passed. The family gathered round – Elsen from Kenya and Mark & family from Osoyoos B.C. -- but their 96 year-old mother recovered, and continued to improve under Aletas care and companionship. 

October: 11 Oct Fred to Jennifer's house for Thanksgiving dinner with Tanners and Joyce & Thomas Cook. Fred collected the land snails Cepaea nemoralis from home, and Xerolenta obvia from the Hwy 416/43 interchange in Kemptville, for the Storeys to study their freeze-tolerance.15 Oct marked the first Mudpuppy Night in Oxford Mills of the 23rd season.

November: The Volvo developed a tendency not to shift into gear, which entailed repeated visits to the Sports Car Factory in Hallville.

On 20 Nov, Kemptville's largest ever Xmas parade included grandson Sam on the Municipality of North Grenville's float.

December: Jennifer & Rory bought a larger house at 10 Cranberry Crescent in Kemptville, across town from the small house in which they’ve lived for 7 years. They have a nice dry storage room in the basement for temporary holding of our journal archives. 

Fred made excursions to photograph patches of tallgrass prairie species in Limerick Forest, and to measure the height of Phragmites in East Oxford, and joined Joyce and Tom Cook for Christmas dinner.


Aleta's mother improved in health and gained strength steadily since being discharged from hospital in October. Aleta and her parents are now triple-vaccinated.


Having painted three of the biologist portraits commissioned by the New Brunswick Museum since arriving in BC, Aleta began a fourth in December. On her birthday she braved -18C to sit on a snowy stump to paint the view looking toward Lake Okanagan from Glen Canyon, a short walk from her parents' residence.
"Okanagan Winter" (oil on canvas, 5x7 in.) 
January 2022: Begining the new year, we were not the dynamic duo we usually try to be - among uncertainty about when the house was to be insulated, Aleta still in B.C. dealing with her parents' health problems, the moving of our partner the North Grenville Archives from one Kemptville building to another that hasn't enough space - and wishing there could be a municipal museum in the Bishops Mills General Store building. Also wishing Jennifer well with her uncomfortable pregnancy, anxious about how our neighbour and tenant Judy Courteau's care for her parents in Ottawa will work out, how to get more wood cut, pondering the conundrum of sorting and processing Francis Cook's papers, and uncertain how Fragile Inheritance, newly incorporated on Jan 16th will operate… we’re both nervous wrecks in our own ways.
February: Hopeful that Pipers House will be insulated at the end of the month, as Fred found it difficult to both focus on computer work and keep both stoves stoked, he tried to keep warm by shivering. The Volvo's heater fan refused to work at cold temperatures.
Aleta moved her parents to a retirement home near her brother’s place in Osoyoos, and hoped to be home in time for sugaring. The move of the North Grenville Archives got underway, with some hints that it may transition to a municipal museum. Jennie's pregnancy stabilized, without evident problems from herself, Rory, & Sam having gotten through vaccine-moderated cases of COVID-19. Judy Courteau continued to be away most of the time caring for her parents in Ottawa, the sump pump in our house which she's renting, in its newly dug hole, dealt with huge amounts of water from a February thaw. 
March: Aleta arrived home from BC on the 9th, just in time to help with the longest and most productive sugaring season we've ever had - 18 litres of Maple syrup from less than a dozen trees. Pipers House exterior insulation with aluminum-coated foamboard was completed just before she arrived home, necessitating some modification of our phone and internet arrangements. We Zoomed our first Board meeting of Fragile Inheritance, and the Historical Society moved its archives into a spacious upper room in a building on the Kemptville Campus. 
"Pipers House" used to be red insul-brick, remember?
We plan to resume nominally monthly Fragile Inheritance newsletter, "One Thing and Another" with a report on April's frog season.
With Best Wishes, 

Anonymous. 2021. North Grenville captures top spot as Canada/s most active community for ParticipACTION. North Grenville Times 7 July 2021,  9(26):8 (watercolour by Aleta Karstad in collage poster) 


Karstad, Aleta. 2021. Nesting Red-throated Loon (Gavia stellata )... [front cover]. Canadian Field-Naturalist 135(2):front cover. Online supplement of journal pages -

Karstad, Aleta. 2021. Mike Rankin. (pencil portrait) CHORUS, Newsletter of the Ottawa Amphibian and Reptile Association 37(1):2


Karstad, Aleta. 2021. Letter to the Editor – Face Masks. North Grenville Times - January 27, 2021


Murphy, Aly. 2021. Meet local musician Larry Pegg and the conversation he s started about truth. The Fulcrum 2021/01/17, 8:38 pm [drawing of Larry by AK] 


North Grenville Arts Guild. 2021. Last installment of the North Grenville Arts Guild Co-Operative Canvas Project. North Grenville Times. 23 June 2021.

North Grenville Arts Guild. 2021. NG Arts Guild presents a Two-Fer with the Co-Operative Canvas Project. North Grenville Times. 17 June 2021.


North Grenville Arts Guild. 2021. North Grenville Arts Guild – The Fourth Installment. North Grenville Times 9(20):12. 26 May 2021. .


North Grenville Arts Guild. 2021. North Grenville Arts Guild co-operative experience complete! North Grenville Times 9(17):26.  5 May 2021.


Schueler, Fred. 2021. Obvious Snails. North Grenville Times, 3 Nov 2021. 9(43):16 


Schueler, Fred. 2021. A Giant Buzzzing force in the Community. North Grenville Times, 9(21):2. 2 June 2021 -  (photograph by Aleta Karstad).


Schueler, Frederick W. (with the assistance of Aleta Karstad & Judy Courteau). 2021. Hickory Nuts: deployment of a drought-dependent protocol in pursuit of deepwater Obovaria olivaria along the Ottawa River after the 2020 drought had broken. unpublished report to Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Burlington. 28 Feb 2021. 104 pp.


Schueler, Fred. 2021. Did Red Squirrels invent Sugaring? Trail&Landscape 55(1):26-28 (1 watercolour by Aleta Karstad).


Schueler, Fred. 2021. Billowy stands of an invisible invasive. North Grenville Times 9(50):28 22 Dec 2021. - 


Schueler, Fred. 2021. Buckthorns . North Grenville Times 9(40):6 13 Oct 2021. -  


Schueler, Fred. 2021. The Duchess of Oldenburg. North Grenville Times  1 Sept 2021. 


Schueler, Fred. 2021. Double your Dandelions.  North Grenville Times 9(16):2, 28 April 2021,  (photo by Aleta Karstad) also in North Dundas Times, 2(16):2.


Schueler, Fred, 2021 Letter to the Editor (history of climate change)The North Dundas Times & North Grenville Times 9(33):7. 25 August 2021  - 


Schueler, Frederick W.. 2021. Onepuppy Night in Oxford Mills. CHORUS, Newsletter of the Ottawa Amphibian and Reptile Association 37(1):9.

Schueler, Frederick W. 2021. POSSIBLE HIBERNACULAR LIMITATION OF SNAKE SPECIES ON THE EASTERN ONTARIO CHAMPLAIN SEA PLAIN.  Canadian Herpetological Society, 2021 Virtual Conference, September 17-19th


Schueler, Fred, & Aleta Karstad. 2021. Does mowing down the Golden Parsnips sustain them? . North Grenville Times  29 July 2021. 


Schueler, Fred, & Aleta Karstad. 2021. Cleavers cleaving to brushy backyards – Looking for Cleavers stories. North Grenville Times 30 June 2021. 


Schueler, Fred, & Aleta Karstad. 2021. Garlic Mustard: Delicious Demon Weed of the Woods. North Grenville Times 9(19):16, 19 May 2021,


Schueler, Fred & Aleta Karstad. 2021. Plums being pocketed.  North Grenville Times, 9(17):15. 5 May 2021.


Schueler, Fred, & Aleta Karstad. 2021. Interbreeding with Aliens . North Grenville Times   9(46):13, 24 Nov 2021,


Schueler, Frederick W., & Aleta Karstad. 2021. FRANCIS COOK'S HERPETOLOGICAL PAPERS: IS THERE A PLAN?   Canadian Herpetological Society, 2021 Virtual Conference, September 17-19th -
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