Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year

Another year gone and it's left me with a few things that ought to be said.

Firstly, Gov. Sarah Palin can shoot and field dress a moose. This was an object of derision in the media.
That's a survival skill and a damned good one. My guess is she can probably cook some nice moose steaks afterward. So, to everyone who made fun of her, would you rather be lost in the bush with a companion whose idea of survival is to have a full set of charge cards?

Secondly, it is said that a man will say anything to get laid. I say a politician will say anything to get elected. I am unsure of the difference.

Thirdly, a young Chinese girl lip-synched the words to a song during the Opening Ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics.
Christopher Plummer did not sing* during The Sound of Music. No one cared. Audrey Hepburn did not sing in My Fair Lady. No one cared.
Lip-synching during an opening ceremonies? No one should care.

Fourthly, Keira Knightley, please eat something. I worry.

Fifthly, Majel Barret died recently. It was a sad, sad day. If you have to look up who she is, you don't care.

Sixthly, when will Dubya be charged with war crimes?

Seventhly, a Holocaust survivor has written a fake memoir due to be published in February. Eventually enough doubt was cast for it to be pulled before its publication. He really was a survivior, but his tale of a nine-year old girl throwing apples over the fence to him every day while he was in a concentration camp was not questioned by anyone at Penguin. Seriously, does no one care?

Eighthly, near the end of a recent afternoon drive I spotted some people and was trying to tell my husband. I wanted to say humanoids, and I wanted to say hominids. What I said was, "Gaahhhhh! Homonyms!"

And finally, the "new age" refers to the precession of the equinoxes. The world does not end in 2012, the current Piscean age ends. The sun will rise in constellation of Aquarius on the morning of the vernal equinox instead of Pisces as it has for the past 2000+ years. The symbol of Aquarius is water. Invest in drinking water.

Thanks. I feel better.

Happy New Year, Homonyms! See you in '09.

*I heard this once when he was a guest celeb on a Canadian game show called "Definition" hosted by Jim Perry. Perry made some mention that Plummer didn't sing a note during the film and Plummer nodded or somesuch in agreement. It was the early 70s and I'm going by memory.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Return of the Frost Fairies

It was really quite cold for a few days lately and that always brings out the best, most artistic of the Frost Fairies.
They spent many a long cold night drawing their delicate patterns on our screen doors.
I've always been a fan of their work. I hope they know it.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Gratitude Monday - Magnificent Moment Edition

Clicking to enlarge is strongly recommended.

The Bald Eagle is a majestic and dynamic bird. They are scarce here and a reasonably rare sight.
We were very blessed on our Christmas drive to see five of them. Four were gathered by a creek and then this lone one was in a tree near a subdivision.
The eagle stayed in the tree as I approached though it grew restless. Eventually I got too close and it took wing, but it gave me ample opportunity to get some magnificent shots.
I am so grateful to have seen it and to get this photo.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Photo Finish Friday - A Different Christmas Ham

We went out for our traditional Christmas drive yesterday. It's a good day to go as most people are inside stuffing themselves stupid and then sleeping it off. The world is mostly quiet and the animals come out to play.

This stag had two does out with him for an afternoon hay feast. He was intrigued by us and when he saw the camera he very courteously posed.

Here he is being playful.


And pensive.

He was a bit of a ham, but he enjoyed it and so did we.
I hope you do, too.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Not A Creature Was Stirring...

Mike waits for the pine siskin to wake up and notice him so he could refill the feeder.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

If You Were Wondering... much snow we've had, then these photos will answer your question.
Well, to be honest it only half answers it. This is the amount we've had since I cleared away 6-8 inches last week. I've been too lazy to go out and shovel, plus it just keeps coming.

I think the snow hat makes the bird house look rather cozy.

This is just weird. This hole in the snow formed all by its lonesome. I've no clue how. But I like it.

For perspective here's that hole in the snow. As you can see it's on the front porch railing. It looks like it's made a snow bridge.
You can see on the railing how it's piled up out there.

I hope this tides all my poor, snow-deprived readers over for a while.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Gratitude Monday - Winter's Here

Yes, I am grateful that winter is finally here.
It's a good season. The land rests. The rivers are slow. The world itself is calmer and cleaner and perhaps prettier.
We in the colder climes turn inside ourselves for a bit. It's a time of thinking and creating and staying close to home, if we can.
We are past the Solstice. The days will lengthen. We are returning to the light.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Photo Finish Friday -Waiting Wings

This male Hairy Woodpecker is the mate of the one in the photo from Monday's post.
He found a way to keep himself occupied while he awaited his turn at the feeder.
Now that the cold weather is here the feeders are very busy and we are rarely without woodpeckers.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Pass The Roast Beast

Pass the roast beast.

Think you can do better?
I know you can.
Have a spot of fun and write a caption for this picture for everyone to enjoy.
I'm not going to hide the comments. I think seeing someone else's work is a great way to spark you own creative juices.
If I'm wrong, please blame MizFit. She gave me the idea to let others do the work for me.
If I'm right, thank MizFit.
The important thing is to have fun.
What does this photo remind you of?
What does it make you think of?
What does it make you want?
What do you see when you look at it?
What do you want others to see?
It's not a contest as such. It's a time to stretch out and see what you can do. If you don't want to write a caption feel free to answer any of the questions above instead. They are meant as prompts in case anyone needs a boost to get going.
Respond as often as you like.
Have fun with it.

*You are under no obligation to play and no salesperson will ever call you.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Spuds Merengue. What Food Bores You?

This seemed like a good idea at the time.

I was wrong.

Some culinary experiments are best left unperfected. The other day I made Spuds Merengue and it’ll be a one-shot wonder.
Mike had baked. He made Wickelkuchen (rolled coffee cake) and it is magnificent. The recipe called for four egg yolks plus one whole egg. We had egg white. We wondered what to do. I was inventing a potato dish with some sweated onions and had the brilliant idea to put a meringue on it. I prepared the onion and mashed the potatoes. I put a cup of onion in the spuds and let it sit in the fridge for the afternoon.
It reheated in the oven for 20 minutes or so and Mike whipped the egg whites for me. I spread them on. It cooked another 12 or 15 minutes. I sprinkled parsley on top. It looked good.
It’s not.
It is quite possibly the most boring thing I have every created.
I’d be ashamed, but it’s too dull a dish to warrant such a strong emotion.
Oh, it’s edible. A truly hungry person would appreciate it. And there’s nothing wrong with it. The poor thing is terminally boring, that’s all. We called it “merengue” simply to give it a bit of spice. It’s like adding an exclamation mark to a sentence to fool the reader into thinking something exciting happened.
And that brings me to a question. What’s the most boring thing you ever cooked?

This is Wickelkuchen. It needs no punctuation.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Gratitude Monday - Still Hanging Around Edition

A female hairy woodpecker anchors in at the peanut feeder. The cage beneath her has peanut butter.

A year ago yesterday I was in ER for a few hours. I had several dedicated medical personnel hovering over me. I was hooked up to several machines. Many tests were done.
I had a cardio-conversion by drug that was both very painful and didn’t correct my fast and feeble heart.
At one point the attending physician muttered, “We don’t have much time.”
I had congestive heart failure. I went through six doctors in three hospitals and no one could sort out why this happened.
I’ve had two cardio conversions since then and am more than pleased to report I’m alive and well. I am grateful for that.
Like the female hairy woodpecker in the photo above I’m going to hang around and eat a lot. Life is good.
In honor of the anniversary of my near-croaking experience I have written a sappy poem:

It’s been a year,
And I’m still here.
Screw you, heart failure.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Photo Finish Friday - Chickadees at Sunset

Chickadees wait in a tree as the sun sets behind them on a cold winter day.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Something's Lost, What's Been Gained?

It used to be that if there was something electronic to hook up, then I did it.
I could see in my mind how things were supposed to be. I kept the instructions close by to refer to, but even then it was afterward and only for confirmation that I’d done it properly.
For reasons I do not yet fathom this has all changed. Hooking up multiple recording machines is now beyond me. Granted things have changed since the old, glory days of two VCRs and a simple patch cord (coaxial cable).
DVD-Rs have three color-coded cords to worry about and they have to be hooked into the television.
Mr. Goat got me a second DVD-R for my birthday and I’m very pleased about it. Many favorite programs are on at the same time. Some went to the VCR and some to the DVD-R.
Now we can record even more. The annoying wrinkle is DVD-Rs can’t be hooked up together. They can be sent through a video selector which is also hooked to the TV. But they won’t record together, so we were told.
The only way we could do it was to get a second VCR to use as host for the new DVD-R. This involved splitters and a switcher and this is where it all left me. I could not see it in my mind. Mr. Goat drew a picture and took it to the store where he was told that he’d gotten it right, but also needed some additional bits.
Eventually he got it set up. The old and new VCRs are the same and the TV brand is made by the same co. Because the VCR had been unplugged the circuit was disrupted and the remote functionally dead. The new VCR’s remote and the TV remote operated the old VCR. Fixing this was easy. We unplugged the old VCR for about 10 seconds and re-disrupted the circuit. It’s fine.
The DVD-Rs are the same brand so the remotes work on both. This takes a bit of recoding. The instructions are provided. The display code that was supposed to come up for the new remote showed on the old DVD-R. Once Mr. Goat sorted it out it worked fine.
I still can’t get through my mind how everything is connected, but it doesn’t matter. I hit two buttons when I want to view things on the old machines if I’m currently using the new ones.
Everything records as it should. Everything works.
But I wonder why it has to be so complicated. Why can’t it be that we can simply patch one DVD-R into the other? Why must they have a parasitic relationship to a VCR?
What possible good does that do the DVD-R makers?
All that said I am really quite pleased to have a second VCR, too. I have things on tape, like all but two episodes of the real Star Trek series, that I want to watch again and again and again.
I also wonder why I can’t fathom electronic connections like this anymore. Surely something wonderful has taken its place, but it hasn’t shown up yet.
On the good side, that’s something to look forward to.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Winter Light

Sunset comes early in late fall and with it stark reminders of the cold.
Fading sun against the clouds has its own beauty. The last thin fingers of sun try to warm the boughs by casting them in deep shadow as the branches stretch out to grasp the dying light.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

In Protest

It's finally here.
It's been snowing and it's all very fluffy and wonderful.
The temperatures are cold and normal and all is right with the world. It makes me happy.
There'll be other times for pictures of snow and cold.
Today, as a gesture of protest against the icy oppression of normality, I give you the above.
It's another peek at Abraham Lake from out west of Rocky about a half-hour from the Banff National Park gate.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Gratitude Monday - The Sensual Pleasure of Baking

Cattails have such personality. The photo has nothing to do with today's post.

It’s almost normal weather here. It’s gotten cold and we’ve finally got a bit of snow on the ground.
Yes, let the record show I am happy to have snow on the ground. It’s December in Canada. We are supposed to have it.
Baking is a lot more fun when it’s cold. Mike made a Swabian Rum Cake on Saturday which has to be soaked in rum once it’s cooled. I baked panettone in the bread machine, rhubarb cake, and date squares (AKA matrimonial cake) also on Saturday.
A day of baking for the sheer joy and later enjoyment of it is one of life’s simple, beautiful pleasures.
It’s tactile in that ingredients are handled and stirred. It appeals to the aural sense in scraping sound of the mixing as well as satisfying sounds of chopping and the beep of stove and bread machine when the creation is ready to come out.
The olfactory sense can be joyously overwhelmed during preparation and baking. We who cook by feel often consult the gustatory sense during the process. It is always rewarded at the end.
I’m grateful for the normal weather and for the chance to enjoy it through the kitchen. Baking is a sensual pleasure at the best of times and much more so on a cold and wintry day.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Photo Finish Friday

Here's a typical scene from the farming area south of Rocky.
It's as good a way as any to top off the week.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

My Follow- Along- At- Home NaNo Novel

The eagle's beak in this outcropping of rock reminded me of writing. Chip away all the stuff that doesn't belong, add and polish as needed, and then you've got something.

Now what do I do?
I wrote a 50,456 word first draft of a novel last month. I had space aliens. I sunk the ancient, disputed continent of Mu. I killed off an MC in a cheesy cornball death scene. In short, I had a blast.
Best of all I learned a great deal including, but not restricted to, I have a novel in me. Whether it should stay there or be let out is moot; the bare bones of it are down.
I’m going to let it cure in some forgotten corner of the hard drive for a while. Then I’ll take it out and putty up the plot holes, sand it down, and then give it a good coat of varnish.
I will finish it into acceptable novel form. After than, I don’t know. I might send it out on a lark. I haven’t been rejected in a while and I miss the attention.
I did it for the challenge of it. I’ve tried to write dialogue in the past. It was awful. This made me learn. I am confident I still have a great storehouse filled with clunky dialogue in me, but I’ve found a way to empty it. I can only get better.
It was fun. I haven’t enjoyed writing for the sheer joy of it in years.
Meanwhile, I’ve got to find a way to avoid tinkering with the draft for a while. The only thing for it is to start another project. Is there a market for vampire westerns?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

My Husband's Carvings

My husband spends his free time in the winter carving masks.
His current project is a lynx. This is how it looked a few days ago.

This is it now.
He has also made a raccoon.

And wolfie was a very big hit.

He spends one to two weeks per mask depending on what needs to be done, i.e. carving, burning, painting, adding whiskers.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Current Canadian Political Situation Explained

The meat of the matter:

To recap:

Highlights package:

That ought to clear things up.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Monday Gratitude - Grateful For Twenty Years Here

Birds, like this blue jay, like our bird bath.

Crescent Falls in the spring

Summer scene south of town

Between the shops

High sun on a bright fall day on Main Street

My husband and his carving

A pond in town in fall

The path to the pond

Our nanking cherries in bloom
I've lived here for 20 years as of yesterday and my first day at the Mountaineer newspaper was 20 years ago today.
I have a great deal to be grateful for and the best way to show it is pictures.
I hope you enjoy the sights as much as I do.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Score! Another Anniversary

I moved to Rocky 20 years ago today.
For the past two decades the mountain scene in this photo, or some version thereof, has been a common sight.
I'll post about this again, but for now I simply wanted to mark the day where I moved into my current life.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Did Hell Freeze Over?

This is not a picture of Hell. It's a frozen pond. I took the photo with my new Olympus 850SW.

I never thought this would happen, but it did.
A telemarketer hung up on me a few days ago.
She was a persistent little cuss determined to do her job. I told her repeatedly that I didn’t want the Calgary Herald. I get the Edmonton Journal. I like it.
My refusal only made her more ardent. I could get all manner of wonderful extras and could even still get the Edmonton Journal’s digital edition.
I said no a bit firmer and proceeded to tell her that she was going a very good job and that persistence was good, but I really was not interested. I was quiet. I heard the hum. There was no one on the other end.
I have to say I’m at a bit of a loss. I was kind about it. I simply wanted her to understand that no means no.
But she saw fit to hang up. That technique might work in face to face conversation with some people, but it doesn’t work on me. It is pointless over the phone between a client and a telemarketer.
I hope she had a good day. I certainly did.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Awarded For My Attitude

Back when I was a young 'un I never thought this would happen. An award for attitude.
My blog buddy the wonderful Thomma Lyn at Tennessee Text Wrestling gave me this the Attitude and Gratitude Award!

It proves once again that anyone can change. And look what happens when you do.
Anyway, enough about me. Here are the rules of engagement:

-Put the logo on your blog or in a post
-Nominate at least 10 blogs which show Great Attitude and/or Gratitude
-Link to your nominees in the post
-Let them know they have received this award by leaving a blog comment
-Share the love with a link to this post and to the award-giver

Okay, I understand that I got this for my gratitude not so much my attitude.
But I maintain an attitude of gratitude. Never mind. The point is I got an award and I am tickled silly about it.

As for nominating other blogs. I think all my blog buddies have great attitudes and I refuse to single anyone out.
And I'm really quite lazy.
Consider yourself awarded.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Fuzzy Bulbs

Clematis in full fuzz.

I have another new camera. An Olympus 850sw was part of the birthday excitement on Saturday.
It's a fun toy. I've got a great deal to learn. I'm a product of a different age. Just adding software to my computer is nerve-wracking. But at its heart it is still a camera so I can get my mind around it.
It's got some macro settings I was playing with yesterday in an attempt to get used to it.
The top shot of the clematis is okay.
The picture below or the orchid bulbs is not so great.
Learning is done best by doing, for me anyway, so I was out learning.
The pics are posted for your enjoyment, such as you can find it.

Add Image
Pseudobulbs of a coleogyne cristata. The other kind of fuzzy.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Gratitude Monday - You Asked For It Edition

Some of you, at least two, let it be known in the comments patch that you wanted to see a photo of Mike and me at our simple dinner out for my 50th birthday on Saturday.
I am grateful that you asked, and grateful that we managed to get a photo of ourselves that was adequate.
Dinner was very good. We made happy hogs of ourselves and I went to heaven on the sticky toffee pudding at dessert. I'm grateful for that, too.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Fifty And Fabulous

This is a Westphalian Cherry Cake.

It's my birthday.
I'm fifty years old today and thoroughly proud of it.
I can take all that glorious life experience from my first 50 years and put it to good use during my second 50.
That is going to be fun.
And if you're wondering about my use of the word fabulous, let me assure you I mean that I fully intend to live a life that becomes the stuff of legend.

We're going out tonight so I insisted we start on the birthday cake last night. It's very tasty. I'll be insisting he bake something similar soon.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Busy, Busy, Busy

I'm busy writing a paraNano novel. I didn't register at the NaNoWriMo site, but I am playing along at home.
Two fellow writers are doing something similar and we check in with one another twice a week or so. We call it PoLeRo, based on our names, and it's good to have someone else to answer to.
It's been going well. Some days I totally wing it while others I have some clue, cobbled together from the night before, as to what I need to write about. Occasionally I pay attention to these notes.
I'm having a blast. I am lousy at dialogue and thought it would be a great exercise. I force myself to have conversations. I'm building characters with it. I have two characters that have no idea when to shut up. One rambles a bit. The other tends to prattle on.
I've several different sentient species to play with so I give them interesting appendages and coverings. Not everyone breathes air.
I needed to get my imagination fired up to make sure it still works. So far it's earning its keep.
As of last evening I had 34,145 words.
This excitement goes to the end of the month. It is likely that the blog will take a bit of a hit while I busy myself with the destruction of the ancient world due to a math error.
I smile for no reason. I'm having fun. ParaNaNo PoLeRo has created a monster.
My husband took this pic of me. We were trout fishing in a reclaimed gravel pit along the first range of hills out west of town. I'm smiling. I'm having fun. That's about how I look this month.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Second Blogiversary

November 17 marked my second anniversary of blogging.
Thank you to everyone who stops by and reads me. You are under no obligation to comment, but I appreciate it when you do.
It's still a thrill.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Gratitude Monday – Snowy Sunday Edition

I used a slow shutter speed to make the fluffy flakes of snow show up better against the hawthorn trees in the back yard.
We had a snow day yesterday. In this neck of the world that simply means it finally got around to snowing like it ought. It’s November. It’s normal. I am grateful for it.
I was worried about the poor little animals who may have changed to their winter togs already. Nothing worse than white mink standing out against a yellowy-brown landscape. Critters need a place to hide.
Trees get confused when it’s too warm. They need the cold to rest just like any of us.
We need the insulation of snow and the resultant moisture.
On a personal note, I like cold weather. It gathers my energy to me instead of spreading it out. Writing is a much more enticing pastime and easier when there’s no nice weather whispering how much you need to be outside right now.
I like to cook things that take all day and warm up the house. A pot of stew simmering on the stove is a welcome sight and imparts a wonderful, homey fragrance throughout the house. I put one on yesterday and let it simmer as I wrote.
Snow makes for good baking days. I’m grateful that my husband likes to bake and he’s good at it.
It was too miserable to go outside and carve so he made a batch of apple strudel. It’s one of his specialties.
Stew and strudel and snow. That’s plenty to be grateful for.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Green Scene

It's good to be reminded of the abundant life which surrounds and sustains us. It's all gone cold and dormant now, and that's good, too, but the occasional reminder is good for the spirit.
I was going to say something about denial. I changed my mind when all I could muster was "Denial is a cow."
Hoofed mammal, two stomachs, chews cud, gives milk. No, can't quite get what I was trying to say with that.
Maybe I mean it's sacred. Or a good source of leather.
Whatever it was I am not denying the cold. I like it. It's good for writing. But I do think that as the days get colder and darker we need to be reminded it's only sleep, not death, and it'll be green and vibrant again.
Happy days of cold everyone. Enjoy it for what it is because it's all we've got.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Peaks and Valleys

Banff National Park

Peaks are less intimidating the closer you get. But they're still high.

I had a very good writing day yesterday. I had a reasonable idea for a scene and a character and had fun writing it. I've alway felt good when writing, but it's been decades since I felt this good. My paraNano project has been wonderful. I'm inventing creatures and writing dialogue. It seems to have blasted through some barrier. I was never very good at dialogue and got to the point where I told myself I couldn't write it.
Now I am writing it.
Stop thinking and start doing. Or, as I tell people who are annoyingly negative around me, "Stop telling me what you can't do and start telling me what you can do."
I am supposed to hit the 20,000 word mark today, 20004 in fact. As of yesterday I was less than 1,200 away.
It is logical to assume I will get there.
And if I fall short today, so what? There's always tomorrow and there always will be a tomorrow as long as I'm enjoying it.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Gratitude Monday - Philosophical Edition

I’m grateful I decided to write a novel and take my imagination out for an airing.
It’s surprising me.
Characters are doing unexpected things and I’ve got a new a character who insisted on joining in the fun. It’s a pre-adolescent and neither male nor female. It insists that it’s important to the story.
I decided to parallel NaNoWriMo which means that I’ve committed myself to 50,000 words before the month is up. I’m keeping pace so far and I’m grateful for that, too.
My husband is very supportive. When I told him I was writing a novel he responded with a fist pump and a hearty “About time!”
I thought 50,000 words was good in that it represents 1,000 words for every year of my life. I’m grateful to say this got me thinking about my memoir. My next project should be 1,000 words about every year of my life. Whether I do it or not it sounds like a great exercise. And I’m grateful to get the writing juices flowing again.
Meanwhile, novel writing has put almost everything else on hold including freelance work and the contemplation of deeper meanings.
This brings me to the question posed by today’s photo.
I’d be grateful for any insight you might have.

For the love of all that hops and purrs, why is this chicken crossing the road?