Monday, August 31, 2009

Gratitude Monday - Food Fall

It's getting close to one of my favourite times of the year. Yeah, I love autumn, and I don't care who knows it.
One of the best bits of it is the harvest. Back on the farm we were getting ready to bring in the grain. It would be swathed about now and then left to dry until it was ready to be combined.
Today I have no grain to cut, but I have a garden in the back and my husband has a larger garden out at his mother's place. His dad has a large garden, too, and we've been getting several loads of veggies from him.
I have huge bag of yellow beans to be topped, tailed, blanched, and frozen. I collected them yesterday and will be stiff and sore for days from bending and squatting to do it. It's not something to complain about, I merely mention they exact a price.
I also have about eight dozen tomatoes of varying sizes and degrees of ripeness now crying for my attention. I see sauce in my future.
It's work now, and a bit overwhelming, but I'm happy to do it. Come the dead of winter I will be even more grateful.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Photo-Finish Friday - A Few Minutes From the End of the World

Tierra del Fuego.

During our bus tour in Tierra del Fuego we stopped along a lake to have a walk along the shore. It was relaxing and invigorating at the same time.
All stops should be.
I took about 600 photos during our cruise from Argentina to Chile and I took as many as I possibly could while Tierra del Fuego. I'd wanted to go there since I was 12. I've long forgotten why, but the name alone is compelling.
This spot is close to the south end of the land, but it wasn't quite the end of the world.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

NaNo and the Dead Fish

Mt. Lorette Ponds, Kananaskis

I started editing my Nano* novel other day. I read it over to find the obvious mistakes and thought I might take care of them first. Then I realized bits of Chapter Two and Chapter Three are really Chapter One.

Knowing this, I started using my mad cut -and-paste skills. This led me to do a bit of rewriting and now I'm correcting in some chapters and rewriting in others.

It's hard to say if said novel will amount to anything other than an exercise in learning how to write a book.

As I read it I cannot help but come up with a tortured metaphor concerning the above photo. Like the pond it is shallow, rocky at the base, and offers the occasional dead fish on the bottom.
The above pond has been artificially deepened and is fed from underground water if memory serves. It is also stocked for fishing and is quite popular.
I'll be deepening my manuscript as I go and stocking it with whatever it needs. Perhaps something may come of it someday and it will be popular.

I hope no one sees the dead fish.

*Nano is NaNoWriMo, the National Novel Writing Contest held each November. It's a contest you have with yourself to write a 50,000 word first draft in 30 days. I didn't register for it last year as I didn't know I was going to do it until the last minute, but I played along at home.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Shed a Tear for The Weeping Wall

The Weeping Wall

It's been such a dry year the Weeping Wall in the north end of Banff National Park is barely a trickle.

At least there is some water on it, but it's nowhere near what it should be.

Maybe we'll get some proper rain. Maybe we'll get a decent amount of snow in the mountains and then this and other waterfalls and rivers can go back to being their spectacular selves.

If you'd like to compare, here's what it looked like last year.
Please note, I made a mistake in the photo caption last year. The Weeping Wall is in Banff National Park, not Jasper National Park.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Gratitude Monday - Soup Day

The soup in question.

Yesterday was soup day. It was cool day and overcast and windy most of the day. It was a good day to have something bubbling gently on the stove.
It occurred to me that making soup is a skill. Cooking in itself is a skill, but within it are whole different skill sets. One might make a great roast or the best cookies ever, but might be thrown by putting together a simple pot of soup.
Ingredients are important, but the most important ingredient is patience. Proper soup takes time. Whatever gets thrown in needs time to adjust to its surroundings and to determine the best way for it to give back to its community.
Patience is itself a skill and it's one I need to hone.
I have patience for making slow food like soup because it imparts a lovely fragrance throughout the house and warms it up in more ways than the physical.
My mom's sister, Myrtle, described it best once: "Soup is good because it goes to all parts of you."
So right, Aunt Myrtle.
Soup is a lesson in patience and perserverance and using what you've got to the best of its abilities. It shows us how even the smallest bit of vegetable or bone still has a little something left to give if only we'd encourage it.
This lesson can be applied throughout life and I am grateful for the reminder. I am also grateful for being able to make a decent pot of soup.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Photo-Finish Friday - A Kananaskis Hike

This is the top of the Ptarmigan Circe Trail in Kananaskis. It's one of my favourite hikes.
I haven't done this hike in years and I expect it might be a year or so before I'm able to do it again.
I can look, though, and that's good enough for now.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

August Abundance

The new moon was at 6:02 a.m. EDT today. You do remember what that means, right?
It's abundance cheque time.
Write yourself out a cheque, make the amount "Paid In Full," and sign it "The Law of Abundance. Do not write in the date.
If you like, you can write "Thank You on the memo line. I usually do.
Put the cheque away somewhere.
Watch for abundance.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Because Bird Babies are Cute

A fluffy baby Goldfinch sleeps it off at the feeder.

A baby Bohemian Waxwing stopped by the front porch for a visit.

It made its way to the railing where it assessed the situation.

With daring and determination it made its way away.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Still Burning Over Book Banning

Bastard Toadflax

I don’t like being told what I can and can’t read. My parents knew this so they commonly let me read almost anything when I was growing up. This was a good decision.
Generally speaking my sister didn’t care what I read either.
Except there was this one time, more than 40 years ago, and to this day it galls me.
We were coming back from visiting relatives in Salmon Arm, B.C., a trip that took a day and a half from Fort Assiniboine, Alberta, back then. My Uncle in Salmon Arm had given us some books to take home. He was a voracious reader and had hundreds of books, many of which were wonderful pulp science fiction.
On the car ride home I picked up a double novel, “Our Man in Space,” by Bruce W. Ronald and “Ultimatum in 2050 A.D.” by Jack Sharkey (Ace Double, copyright 1965). I still have this book in my bookcase.
My sister, four years older than me, started in on something called “The Parasite.”
I finished mine and wanted to read hers. She wasn’t reading it and what she had read of it scared her. Because of this, she told mom I shouldn’t read it.
Even then at age nine the unfairness of it burned me. What I read is my choice mine alone.
Now, before this gets any further, please understand. This has nothing to do with my sister looking out for me. This is my sister’s fear being so unreasonable that she couldn’t handle anyone else reading this book.
So mom took the book into the front seat of the car. I fussed a bit then decided I’d dig it out when we got home.
I never saw that book again.
I still have the one I read plus many hundreds of others. My parents had probably every other book ever given to them.
Within about a year a radio play came on that started with some guy telling his doctor about a growth on his shoulder. That’s as far as it got because my sister started screaming,“That’s ‘The Parasite’ I know it.”
Off went the radio.
I’ve tried to find this book through the Internet. I’ve found something by Arthur Conan Doyle with the same name, but I have no idea if it’s the same story.
It’s been more than 40 years since this happened. Whenever I search through used books there’s the small spark of hope that I’ll find it.
Maybe I’ll hate the story. Maybe it’ll scare me. But that’s for me to find out, not for anyone else to dictate.
Maybe this is why I hate book banning so much. It goes beyond being wrong, stupid, reprehensible, offensive, and inexcusable. For me, it’s personal.
As for the picture of Bastard Toadflax, it's not really related to the post other than it's parasitic, but it's name fits my mood.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Gratitude Monday - Food Work Edition

I was busy yesterday. I had a lot to do in the house, but it felt like such a good baking day that I decided pie and cake trumped cleaning.
I'd been meaning to get at a few cupboards for a few days now. We have dried fruit, pasta, rice, etc. that needs to be sorted and rearranged. The various flours we have are jumbled together and need to be straightened out. The cupboards with the oils and vinegars ... never mind. I don't want to talk about it.
Instead, I baked a peach upside down cake, a peach pie, a loaf of bread ( in a machine but I still had to triple-sift the flour) butterscotch brownies and Katherine Hepburn Brownies. (I add cayenne.)
In between the pie and brownies I made Potatoes Romanov. These are potatoes mashed with cheese and sour cream then left to set for a few hours. They need to be baked before serving. It counts.
During the course of all this I kept wanting to get at the cupboards plus I had peas to shell and beans to blanch and freeze. I felt swamped. Dishes piled up. Instead of thinking about what I'd done I was focused on what needed to be done and became somewhat anxious.
Then my thinking changed. I realized this was all about food. I was getting upset because I had too much food.
I decided this was
a) stupid
b)offensive to those who have so little
c) ungrateful
Once I realized this I had to laugh at myself. Gratitude replaced the feeling that nothing was being done. Plenty got done. I had the pile of dishes to prove it.
I had a counter overflowing with dirty dishes and a whole whack of food needing my attention and for those blessings I am grateful.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Photo-Finish Friday - Penguin Moments

More Rockhopper Penguin action from the Falklands.

I swear I didn't shoot this pic on purpose. The contents were a complete surprise to me.
That said, I have no idea what those two are doing.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


Not much of a post to offer right now.

Here's why:

I finished the first draft of A Fly on the Wall yesterday and am now out of words.

Am hoping to restock later on.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Twofer Tuesday- Catspiration

I decided to crack open a Zane Grey a few days ago. It's been interesting. I can't help but be 12 years old sometimes, though, and his choice of name for the Bad Guy makes me smile. It is unlikely that today this character name would make it to a mainstream novel.
Here are a few sentences from Valley of Wild Horses, by Zane Grey, Pocket Books, copyright 1927.

"Pan's cup was full. The days flew by. Snow and cold were nothing to him. Not even study, and the ever-malicious Dick Hardman could daunt his spirit."

I'm closing in on A Fly on the Wall, I think. I expect to wind it up within a few thousand words.
In this scene the characters in the main frame of the story have gathered at Mrs. Phlebos' house.

"A fluffy cat with the build the feline equivalent of a linebacker strode into the kitchen and rubbed up against Nick.
' This is Pussums Manynaps. He seems to like you. That’s good. If Pussums didn’t I’d have to ask you to leave.' ”

The neighbor's cat, Panther, has been so helpful to me while writing A Fly on the Wall that I thought it ought to be in it. Kitty was the inspiration for Pussums Manynaps.
Above, the Pussums model spends quality time in a cardboard box under the clothestree.

For more or to get in on the fun please see the Women of Mystery.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Gratitude Monday - Cakes and Rain

Last week we were treated to a few rain days. This is good in that we're having a drought, but it meant my husband was off work for a bit. He put his time to good use by making some practice cakes.
It is his wish to perfect the cake that has the top recessed a bit to allow for a gelled fruit topping. I am grateful he got the opportunity to make two last week before work got in the way.
I was his guinea pig.
Emphasis on pig.

This is the second effort before the gelled liquid was added on top. It included rum.
Did I mention I was grateful?

Friday, August 7, 2009

Photo Finish Friday - Beard and Toes

Our day trip to Kananaskis gave us many fuzzy sights from the furry creatures I posted earlier to these flowers we found growing near the Ptarmigan Circe Trail, deep in Kananaskis Country.
They're called pussytoes and it's easy to see why.

One almost expects they'd flex and send out some claws.

Here's another view of them.

As you can see they've surrounded a Slender Blue Beard-Tongue.

I hope you like the pretty, fuzzy flowers. Please remember to click, enlarge, and enjoy.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Furry Critters in Kananaskis

We took a day trip south to Kananaskis on Sunday. So did thousands of others as it was the Heritage Day long weekend. That aside it was a good day. I did a bit of hiking and we stopped and looked at assorted places along Highway 40, a. k.a. The Kananskis Trail.

We saw some wildlife mostly of the small, furry variety. At Mt. Lorette Ponds we saw this little fellow. We tried to get some photos, but being an Action Chippy he wasn't much for posing.

We'd hoped to see pikas at the Rock Glacier, but instead we found several golden-mantled groundsquirrels. This one was curious about us.

While this one was more Sphinx-like in its outlook.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Twofer Tuesday and Tomatoes

Another week has slipped by. I meant to get more done than I did, but I still got things done. I even wrote some and read a bit, but mostly I played with tomatoes.

My FIL grows some of the finest and he has plenty to share. This meant dusting off some favorite tomato salad recipes and firing them up once more. Tomato season is one the happiest times of the year.

In honor of that my two sentences are from Please To The Table: The Russian Cookbook by Anya von Bremzen and John Welchman, Workman Publishing, 1990.

“In a small bowl combine the vinegar and the garlic and let stand for 30 minutes.
Place the tomatoes and onion in a salad bowl and sprinkle with the vinegar and garlic mixture.”

My contribution to the cause this week is from A Fly on the Wall. In this scene Dr. Phlebos has just told Brelyan and his friend Nick how she had to kill a Kodiak bear when she was out on an expedition alone:

“Hated to do it, but it was him or me. Anyway, that’s my reminder to be more careful when I’m on professional expeditions.”
“And not personal ones?”
“Oh, dear no. If I’m on personal travel I’m someone else’s problem.”

For more, or to find out how to participate, please see the Women of Mystery.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Gratitude Monday - Not Forgotten

Alpine Forget-Me-Nots in Kananaskis.

I remember to be grateful most of the time. And when it slips my mind I bring it back to the forefront. There's always something to be thankful for, even on those days where it's hard to find something. I am grateful I rarely if ever have those days.
And what am I getting at besides a tiresome lecture on gratitude?
I have so many things to choose from I was unable to decide, but I couldn't let the day go by lest you think I'd forgotten.
So I'll simply say there's a lot out there as long as we remember.