Friday, August 30, 2013

Photo-Finish Friday -- Beside The Point

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Columbia Icefields Glacier. Popular, beautiful, receding at a steady pace.

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And this is the scene to the immediate left of the glacier. The road takes the buses to the top where tourists board the snowcoach for a glacier tour. It's just as beautiful, but doesn't get nearly the press.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Voodoo in the Doughnut Shop

I posted earlier about the popularity of Voodoo Doughnut in Portland.
The lineups are long and constant. We had much to do and see and none of it involved waiting in line.
But we still wanted to try the doughnuts. We'd seen the pink boxes from the store everywhere.
Fortunately we were cater corner from the shop with a window from our suite looking right over it. Keeping an eye on the line was simple.
Voodoo Doughnut is open 24 hours a day almost every day of the year. One could logically reason out there must be a slow period.
The first morning in Portland I looked out the window at about 6 a.m. and discovered only a few, maybe four, people in line. The lineup didn't get serious until about 9 a.m., but it stayed serious all day.
My friend and I decided whoever awoke in the night would make the trek to the shop. We'd already sorted out what we wanted so the mission would be quick and easy.
I woke up around 1 a.m. peeked out the window and found the line was still about a half-block long.
At 4:30 a.m. I was awake again, looked out the window, and found no line at all. People were about, some even stepped out of the store carrying the pink box of treats, but no waiting.
The front of the hotel was in the opposite direction of the store so it made for a two block walk and a good slice of life. It was still warm, if a bit windy, and really quite pleasant.
Behind me and across the street I saw some homeless people.
Across from me I saw members of the general population out enjoying the morning
A fellow in his twenties popped out of a doorway in front of me and listed to starboard for a few lurching feet before taking refuge in another doorway.
Just before the shop door there's a pedway with picnic tables. One table was filled with young people hunched over the boxes enjoying the contents.
There's tape across the floor at the shop with instructions to wait until you're called. I didn't have to wait long until my 'Doughnuteer,' Colt, pictured here, called me in.
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Colt was tickled I wanted his picture and posed for me.

Music blared. I could seen a few younger people behind the racks of doughnuts working away and talking. I am sure they were having fun.
Colt was sorry to tell me that one of the doughnuts I'd ordered, the Voodoo Doll, wasn't ready yet.
I've nothing else to do at that time of day so I asked how long it would be.
Turns out they were just ready as he asked.
Can't ask for much fresher than that.
I took some pictures, got the goods, and made my way back home.

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Clockwise from top left: the Diablos Rex, Voodoo Doll, Bacon Maple Bar, Gay Bar. 
They're tasty enough, but different from what we get in Canada.
Here a doughnut is light and fluffy to the point if you held it in the palm of your hand and blew it would probably fly away.
The above were substantial. Fluffy, yes, but had some heft to them.
I'm glad we had them, and I am glad for the experience of going out early in the morning. It was fun.
At no time did I ever feel threatened.
But I must say they are only doughnuts. They've been given some character, they are marketed well, and I can only conclude waiting in line is part of the experience.
I don't mind missing out on that part of it.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Gratitude Monday -- Juiced

The nanking cherries are processed into juice and in the freezer.

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Nanking cherries (Prunus tomentosa) in bloom in the front yard
It took me about six hours to take care of the six one-kg buckets of cherries my husband picked.
Normally he does the juicing as well as he's the one who uses it. It goes on his morning steel cut oats.
He's busy.
He'd stored the collection in the freezer with the intent of doing the work himself. But I need more room for beans now and carrots soon.
It's a simple matter of boiling them until they split and then draining off the liquid.
All it takes is time.
It also involves the big pots for boiling, colanders, containers to catch the drainings, and even more containers to store the juice in.
By the time it was done I had a huge stack of dishes to tackle both from the processing and from having to rearrange the freezer. After the containers were out I decided that I needed to re-contain (may not be a real word) some other items with the idea of making even more room.
I did that.
It led to more dishes.
What's important is it is done. We have plenty of nanking cherry juice and I am grateful.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Photo-Finish Friday -- Morning in the West Country

BowSummit2013 028 We left early enough on our drive out west last Saturday that we got to see morning coming to the mountains.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Estonian Independence Restored

Estonia got its independence back on this date in 1991 after living under Soviet rule.

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Estonian Flag atop a structure in Tallinn from the 12th (I think) Century. 

I had the pleasure of visiting the country in May. It is friendly, clean, and proud. I'd go back there in a heartbeat.
In fact, I'd like to as my family lived on Hiiumaa Island while the country was under Swedish rule. I couldn't get there this trip, but there's always the future.
Among the joys of Soviet rule was children learned that everything good and right in the world came from Russia.
Our guide for a tour of Tallinn old city told us when he was in school his mother asked him one day what he'd learned.
He said he'd learned that the radio was invented by Patapoff.
She told him that was fine, son, and when it comes to the test you write that answer, but "it's important that you know it was Marconi."

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Today, 22 years after the country got shed of its oppressors, the people can laugh about the nonsense of those times and share their stories.
I hope everyone gets a chance to hear them and learn from them.
Happy Restoration of Independence, Estonia.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Gratitude Monday--Weekend With a Friend Edition

My friend Sylvia and I went to Portland for the August long weekend to see Star Trek in the Park presented by Atomic Arts.

It was the last of the theatre group's Five Year Mission and we'd only heard about it last fall so we made sure to go.
I am grateful we did, and that's for a lot of reasons.
The show was free, held in the late afternoon at Cathedral Park, and a blast. They did The Trouble With Tribbles, word for word, scene for scene.

Fun as it was, the more important aspect of this was a weekend with a friend.
We had a well-organized, relaxed, well-paced time in a city where it's easy to get around.
We used public transportation or walked.
We ate well.
We went to the largest bookstore in the world.
But best of all we dedicated a weekend out of our lives to spend together and for that I am grateful.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Photo-Finish Friday--The Painted Sky

A hawk listens against the painted sky.

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Thursday, August 15, 2013

My Gluten Free Experiment

I had an idea that the gluten free biscuits I'd made last week would make a toothsome pizza crust.
I was right.
The recipe I consulted called for two cups of flour and used a half-cup each of sorghum and sweet rice flours with a half-cup of tapioca and potato starches. 
Instead for the biscuits I used a half-cup of brown rice flour, a half-cup of sorghum flour and one-quarter cup of coconut flour.
It's important to note here that coconut flour drinks a lot and expands. A quarter-cup of it is equivalent to a full cup of most other gluten free flours such as the above-noted rice and sorghum.
I used a whole egg instead of only egg white as the recipe called for, and added an extra tablespoon of liquid as well. It worked out fine.
For the crust below I used soya flour in place of the sorghum, but that was the only change from my version of the two recipes.

I added two teaspoons of guar gum even as the recipe called for a half-teaspoon of xanthan gum. ( They are interchangeable. Guar is one-third the price, but use xanthan if guar upsets your stomach.)
I also added a tablespoon of psyllium fibre. It helps with stretchiness and it soaks up liquid.
When using coconut flour and/or psyllium it's important to let the dough rest a few minutes. It will set. Liquid will soak up.
It rested about three minutes and then I spread it out on the pan using the back of a spoon. I had to wet the spoon a few times to help things along.
That sort of thing is normal.
I did the crust at 425F for 13 minutes. I'd set the stove timer for 17 minutes, but decided --correctly-- the crust was done.
I made it early in case something went terribly wrong.
It was fine.

Sausage with mushrooms, peppers, and onion.

A light and fluffy crust that supports the toppings.
What more could one ask? 

Monday, August 12, 2013

Gratitude Monday--Tranquility Base

Despite all assurances and my research, I still had a silly fear of the spinal anaesthetic on tap for me for my recent hernia surgery.
It's safer than knocking me out completely because it made monitoring my blood pressure easier.
I have a heart condition. Monitoring is important.
Yet there I was, uneasy.
Further, I read that it is safer in general than general anaesthetic.
But it bothered me for a silly reason. I feared being awake while being unable to move my lower body.
The idea that I'd be physically half –dead made me jittery. It's absurd, but feelings don't concern themselves with logic.
In the OR the anaesthetist explained to me what was going where and why.
He was thorough, he was calm, and his scrubs cap had hockey players on it.
That alone eased me.
Then he reached over me from behind.
Tranquility flowed over me.
Tranquility flowed through me from inside out.
With it came the scent of flowers coupled with the fresh air and scents of the forest.
For a moment I was out in nature filling my lungs with the sweet, fresh air of trees and plants.
Everything was fine and I was totally at ease.
The ease stayed.
The hospital is a scent free zone.
Even if it weren't the fragrance carried no base chemical odour.
It could not have come out of a dispenser.
Years ago after a heart operation I had my spirit guide visit me in the hospital so I'm open to anything.
This time, it was a higher up coming to help.
You can believe or dismiss the following as you see fit, but
after a bit of research I have an honest belief the scent was provided by the Archangel Michael.
I am grateful.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Photo-Finish Friday -- A Rare Sight

You have to get up plenty early to see this:

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Because it usually looks like this:

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We were fortunate to have a hotel room cater-corner from Voodoo Doughnut, the popular doughnut shop in Portland. The lineup is at least as long as in the second photo from just before 9 a.m. to well past 1 a.m.
Note please the entrance to the shop is on the corner. The line forms in two directions to it.
The shop is open 24 hours each day except some holidays such as Thanksgiving.
The first pic is at 6:34 a.m.
The second at 2:48 p.m.

I will post about our doughnut escapade in the near future.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

What I'd Like To See At The Sochi Olympics

The Sochi Olympics are in the social media sights right now.
This is good.
President Vladimir Putin's hateful stance on gays in Russia appalls me. His purported reasoning for it which includes their lack of contribution to the Russian birthrate is specious at best.
Many people are appalled and there's a petition to sign asking for the games to be moved to Vancouver.
This is fine and admirable. It would send a message as to our thorough disgust at this stance.
But I have an alternate idea.
A wonderful, beautiful, logistical nightmare of an idea whereby every athlete from every country marches into Olympic Stadium, Sochi waving a rainbow flag.
It would convey how wrong and out of touch Putin's stance is while showing worldwide solidarity against him and for the rich diversity of human life.
It would be difficult to organize, but it would be even more difficult for Putin and all who agree with him to ignore.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Photo-Finish Friday -- Elk

A trip to Jasper National Park is not complete without an elk sighting.
This magnificent bull was browsing along the side of the highway near the townsite. He was kind enough, or blase enough, to let us take his picture.

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Here's another look.
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He ate his way up the hill.

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Thursday, August 1, 2013

A Silly Law

We were just pushing off from shore on our lake paddle Sunday when I realized what was missing: we hadn't put our life jackets on.

We pulled back in and put them on, then went about our way even though legally we didn't have to wear them.
This I find silly in the extreme. Under the regulations we're obligated to have enough life jackets on board to kit out each person on board.
We do not actually have to have them on.

Every season we hear about people drowning on rivers and lakes. Most of the time said drownee wasn't wearing a life jacket.
Now I'm all for using common sense approach as opposed to legislation. But in this respect common sense is not the least bit common.
This applies to both sides of the story. Common sense would dictate using a life jacket not just having it handy.
Common sense would also suggest if one is going to write a law concerning public safety then one should go the whole hog with said law.
But that does not seem to be the Province's way.
That said, Alberta likes to stick its legislative nose in everyone's business be it needed or not.
We've got some silly laws that serve no purpose and others that are window-dressing at best.
Laws get changed or created all the time and in many cases it's to make the Province look like it's doing something.

Sometimes in the late nineties a young adult riding in the back of a pick up truck got thrown out and killed as the result of an accident.
His mother got the legal ball rolling and got the Province to declare it illegal for anyone to ride in the back of a truck.
This was annoying.
Riding in the back of a truck can be safe if one does not do anything stupid.
Further, as I recall the truck driver was drunk.
This was the real issue.
Not the rider in the box, the driver.
Also, we have no idea if the young man was minding his own business and died as a result of simple misfortune and the drunk driver, or if he was drunk, too, and did something stupid while riding.
The above sounds like blaming the victim. I'm sorry. It's not supposed to. I blame the driver.
We can see how one person can make a difference, but I've yet to hear of a drownee's loved one making a fuss about wearing life jackets. That would be a sensible change.

We can't ride in a truck box.
It's against the law to have your expired insurance card in your vehicle.
It is, or at least was, against the law to have a copy of your driver's license for use.
Frankly, those last two laws are nonsense.

But wear a life jacket?
Nope, that's your call.
Do I want this changed?
Actually, no.
In this matter, sad as it may be, the only law I'd care to see applied here is survival of the fittest.

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Paddling while wearing a life jacket.

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Sensible enough to wear it, not just have it.