Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Vote You Lazy Fools

My fellow Canadians, you make me sick.
We've got another federal election coming and what I've been hearing is how sick we are of elections and how few people are going to bother voting.
How dare you?
People in Middle Eastern countries are protesting and dying for changes in their governments. We get one handed to us and we can't be bothered to care.
I spoke to many Egyptian people while Mike and I were stranded there during the protests.
Do you know what they wanted initially?
Fair elections.
They were willing to let Hosni Mubarak stay in office until the next scheduled election in September if only he would promise to step down and to not rig the outcome.
Such as simple request. After 30 years all they wanted was the chance of a fair election where their vote actually meant something.

Egyptian protesters after being tear gassed.

It wasn't later that they decided they'd had enough and wanted his ouster. I suspect the only reason he stayed as long as he did after the protests began was he needed the time to salt away the bilions of dollars he'd stolen over the years.
Meanwhile, we have an election about nothing that despite all his protests I am sure Stephen Harper did some slick back room engineering to get.
We have a chance to have our voices heard in an election that,while engineered, will not be rigged.
We should be grateful for this opportunity, not bored and apathetic.
All of you who can't be bothered to vote --as is your right in this country-- need a refresher course in what living in a democracy means.
Maybe you should get out more. See the world. Spend a few days stuck in a police state during political upheaval. Maybe then you'll appreciate what you've got.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Two Sentence Tuesday -- Who's in Charge?

My latest WIP is being uncooperative at best. I was about 2000 words in when another character walked into the scene with yet another character beside him.
Okay.  Fine. They had their moment. I continued with what I wanted only to discover the second character believes herself to be important to the story.  I suspect she is correct, but I can't sort out how yet so I'm writing her back story.
As I write it the first interloper, her father, wants some attention as well.
All I can do is write what they tell me now and sort it all out afterward.
Two sentences I wrote for Bound: 
"Mitha was always cold. Even when the sun rained down on the mountain pastures and warmed the clear running streams that whispered and laughed down the hills, she was cold."
I started reading Freda Warrington's, Elfland (Tor 2009)
" 'To deny us is a devastating breach of tradition. It's not just for our own benefit--the Earth needs the flow of Elysian energy as much as we do.' "
Thanks for being here. For more or to get in on the fun, please see the Women of Mystery.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Gratitude Monday -- Half-Measures Edition

Last Thursday I cut my beta blocker dosage in half. I got there by exercising.
Since late May of 2009 I've been doing something called Tibetan Rites.  They are essentially yoga stretches and they are easy to do. I found them in a book called  Ancient Secret of the Fountain of Youth, by Peter Kelder, a book I got for free thanks to my cousin Reb.
I started the exercises a  few weeks after having a catheter ablation for atrial fibrillation. By early August my cardiologist told me I had to have a second procedure, but I felt too good for him to be able to justify it. 
In November of 2009 he looked at some fresh test results and said my heart was working within the normal ranges.
I told my husband we were going to Cuba. Such things must be celebrated.
In late May 2010 my cardiologist told me he no longer needed to see me.
I told my husband we were going to Egypt.
Last week I saw my family doctor for the new, lower strength prescription.
Gratitude doesn't seem like a strong enough word.
I make no representations as to the efficacy of said Rites. I offer anecdotal evidence only.
Your mileage may vary. Please consult a physician before starting any exercise program.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Happy Birthday, Mr. Nimoy

funny celebrity pictures - I take comfort in knowing that, by the time I turn 80 years old, people will not remember me as the guy who wore the pointy ears ...
see more Lol Celebs

Leonard Nimoy in Vulcan, Alberta, 2010.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Photo-Finish Friday -- Pushing Off

A Nubian gentleman pushes our boat out of the crowded dock for our trip to Philae Island.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A Pie Month Check-In

Beef Pot Pie

Pleasantly Juicy
I've devoted this month's baking adventures to pie. This includes pot pies, dessert pies, and pizza. Yesterday I took leftover roast and the veggies it got cooked with and put them between two crusts for a beef pot pie.
It turned out well.
Wheat gluten isn't so good for me. I am not celiac, merely intolerant, so I've learned to make bread products with other flours. I am lucky in that I can use spelt, Polish wheat, rye, barley, and oats.
It takes trial, error, and plenty of eating to sort out what flours need what smooth-talking to get them to do what I want.
The above is some Polish wheat (kamut) mixed with spelt. The former is ground by my husband's father and is a pleasure to work with while the latter was purchased from an Alberta company.
It was listed as whole grain and we believed this was meant in the same vein as one would buy whole wheat flour for baking. I grew up on a farm. The stuff they sent us looks like the stuff my dad made into chop for the hogs, only not as fine.
I run it through my blender for a few minutes and it chops it enough to incorporate the bran and make it easier to use. It is not great, but I can work with it.
The more I play with the flours, the more I understand them, and the easier it becomes to bake.
Pie Month.
I do it for the research.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Two Sentence Tuesday --Bound to Write

Pussy Willows - Nature's WIP
Dead Broke cooled enough for me to read it over and do some minor editing while I checked for larger problems. I'm tickled silly to say that it does not appear to have any huge problems. That said, it may be that its flavours haven't matured yet.
For now I'm going to just take care of the typos. I'll let it sit again, but not for long. I think this one can go out in a few months and try to make its way in the world.

Once the read over was done I decided it was time to get going on Bound.  The idea's been kicking around since November or so. I did a few world-building exercises for it. I could have done more, but realized they'd gone from an exercise to an excuse.
I have more than 2000 words now.  I intend on knuckling down on it soon.
For context I've added a few more that two sentences

"She'd blot it from her mind as she'd done with so many uncomfortable feelings over the years. She'd dance with Johnal at least once. She'd dance with him all night if she could, but if it led to anything else she'd forfeit her training. Acolytes must be virgins."
Last week I read Jean McNeil's The Ice Lovers (McArthur and Company, 2009). The setting is Antarctica a few years from now and that's what attracted me to it.  She certainly did her homework for it, even went there.
It's an okay book, but it's not compelling enough to read again. That said, she got it published and it caused me to buy it.  That's more than I've accomplished.
Two sentences:
"She said, ' I never know what time it is on base.'
'Time doesn't matter here.' "
Thanks for being here. For more or to get in on the fun, please visit the Women of Mystery.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Gratitude Monday -- Generations Edition

The last of his kind.
The gentleman in the centre of the photo surrounded by his sons, daughter, and two granddaughters is my Uncle Marvin. Last Thursday he turned 90. His family organized a celebration for Saturday and Mike and I were among the guests.
I am grateful they did it, grateful I got to go, and very grateful that Marvin, the last of my dad's siblings, is still around.
He was the second youngest of the family of eight. Violet, who was the oldest and the only girl, and seven boys:  Robert, Oscar, John, Reynold,  Eugene, Marvin, Gilbert.
It's good there's still a link left.
Not only is he still around, he's mentally sharp.  I don't mean "for his age." I mean I'd like a personal upgrade to half his sharpness now.
We had birthday cake, a visit with family members we rarely see, and a look at some old slides that showed his  family, immediate and otherwise, plus a few other people when we were very young.
It was a good day, and I am grateful for it.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Photo-Finish Friday--Valley of Lions

Above is Wadi El Sebou or Valley of Lions.
It takes its name from the Avenue of Spinxes leading to the Temple of Ramses ll.
Our visit was early in the morning before it was too hot and too crowded.
We had an armed guard in our small boat from the cruise ship to the shore. If you look on the right side of the pic you can see two armed gentleman walking toward the hill.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Come and Get Me, Paddy !

The rare and elusive Alberta Snow Snake is not above taunting.

Happy St. Patrick's Day, everyone.
May you be half an hour in heaven before the snow snake knows you're dead.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Gratitude Monday -- Mountain Drive Edition

Looking east along Highway 11 driving through the Kootenay Plains.
We went for a drive out west along Highway 11 yesterday.
It was a warm, windy day that felt more like spring than winter.
I was grateful to get out and see the mountains again, grateful for the warming weather that signals the change of season, and so grateful that in less than two hours I can see the above.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Photo-Finish Friday -- Alabaster Cool

Courtyard of the Alabaster Mosque 
This is the fountain in the great alabaster mosque of Mohammed Ali in Cairo.
We had to take our shoes off, or buy protective coverings for them, before we set foot in the courtyard as it led into the mosque proper.
The marble beneath our feet was quite cool.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

In The Summertime

I'm getting a wee bit lonesome for green.
Winter is a fine time of year and I am so very glad to live in a climate where there's a clear distinction between the seasons. But I could do with seeing fresh new life poking its way out of the warming ground.
It's going to be awhile yet before we see any plant younglings so I decided to put up a summer photo to remind me that life will return.

And here's a bonus because I like to look at mountains.

Both photos are taken along the David Thompson Highway (Hwy. 11) in or near Banff National Park.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


Don't wade across.

They look like islands.
Of course that's what they are now, but they were once the tops of hills, mountains almost.
The waters of Lake Nasser  reach very close to the tops. Many hills contained archeological sites. Some got moved, others flooded.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Two Sentence Tuesday -- Done

I've mentioned from time to time that my husband reads me a bedtime story. It's been that way for 21 years and I have yet to think of a logical argument as to why it should end.
We've made it through the Harry Potter books, The Adventures of... books by Thornton W. Burgess, and many, many more.
These nights I am lulled to sleep with the Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling.   His repetition works. The rhythm he uses in his sentences is wonderful.
I don't recall being exposed to them when I was younger. It's just as well as I do not believe I would have appreciated them as much then.
Plus I would have had to read them myself.
It is simply not the same.
Two from The Sing-Song of Old Man Kangaroo, Just So Stories, Rudyard Kipling (Lancer Books 1968)
"He went to Nqa at six before breakfast, saying, 'Make me different from all other animals by five this afternoon.'
Up jumped Nqa from his seat on the sand-flat and shouted, 'Go Away!'"
I finished --for now-- the rewrite of BloodLovers.  I hunkered down on Thursday determined to get the thing done as quickly as I could. It may not have been the best approach, but the deed was done on Sunday. The last few chapters didn't need all that much work.
Or so I claim.
Here's a bit more than two:

"Alexander, you poor misguided fool. Humans are my food in the same way you take the cow. You don’t listen to your beasts and I don’t listen to mine. The only difference is I can have a conversation with my food first if I want. We can even make an evening of it. Some of my best dates have wound up as my dinner."
Thanks for coming by. For more or to get in on the fun please see the Women of Mystery.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Gratitude Monday -- Our Daily Bread

Baking pitas in an outdoor oven.

I had some of the most wonderful pita bread ever during our trip to Egypt, as well as the best feta cheese I have ever eaten.
The compound at the Cairo Marriott had a few outdoor restaurants including one where the fresh breads were made. Two women did this from at least 9 a.m. to well after 10 p.m. I can't say it was the same women all day, but I saw with my own eyes how long a day the ovens worked.
One woman shaped the breads and set them out on a table covered in barley bran. When her side was full she spun the table around so the second woman could bake them.
I'm grateful to have seen this, grateful to have eaten it, grateful for their hard work, and very, very grateful that I do not have to make a living this way.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Photo-Finish Friday - Coffee Time

A Cuban man turns coffee beans as they dry in the sun.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Crumbiest Pie

Rhubarb with a Streusel Pecan Topping
I made the crumbiest rhubarb pie recently.
And I couldn't be happier.
I had one pie crust and plenty of rhubarb filling. What to do?
A wonderful, sweet, and hands-on fun solution came to me:  pecan streusel topping.
I used breadcrumbs instead of flour, cane syrup and brown sugar, coconut lard, and chopped pecans. If you want to know how much of each, my best guess is "enough."
This dances up a rhubarb pie better than anything else I've ever thought of. I am tempted to make all my rhubarb pies this way.
I might make several other kinds of pies this way just to make sure it's really good and not just an aberration.
One can't be too careful.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Two Sentence Tuesday -- Daring Things

The best thing about birthdays is they can be quite fluid. While the official big day for me is November I often collect my gift from by best friend a few months later as part of our late Christmas. I bring hers along and she stores it until her big day in April.
This year one of her gifts to me was The Pocket Daring Book for Girls. It's got great ideas in it as well as how to execute them safely.  A quick skim of it rendered some wonderful treasures. Regrettably, my friend has expressly forbade me from building my own back yard zip line.
Two non-contiguous lines from The Pocket Daring Book for Girls: Things to Do by Andrea J. Buchanan & Miriam Peskowitz (Collins, 2008)
From the Essential Gear section about caring for your Swiss Army Knife: "Clean with hot, soapy water, and add a tiny drop of mechanical oil once every three blue moons."
From Miscellanea, about Taking Things Apart: Old televisions and fax machines, a cell phone that no longer works, or a computer that's ten years out of date and living its final years in the back shed: no discarded machine should go undismantled."
My latest writing is no where near so daring or fun, but at least I have done something.
Here's a wee sample from Blood Love:
"But they found Kevis Loney’s body all pale and drained. That raised a few brows."
Thanks so much for coming by. For more or to get in on the fun please see the Women of Mystery.