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.