Monday, September 29, 2008

The little munchkin is doing fine!

The new family member pictured in the previous post now has a name: Naomi. When she is good, she can use my surname. When she is bad and beautiful, she will get my husband's surname: Campbell. Hey, she's a gorgeous little supermodel with attitude; why not?

Yeah, a gorgeous little supermodel with fleas, worms and a slight upper respiratory tract infection. (Still sounds better to me than the hooman supermodel Naomi!) But no feline leukemia and no FIV! We went to the vet this afternoon. Naomi's now had her first shots, been dewormed, and had flea treatment. She's sleeping the excitement off now. I didn't hear a peep from her the whole drive home.

I stopped at the pet store and got her a cushy new bed, and a little toy to cuddle. She's in quarantine for about four more days until she shakes the infection.

She weighs two pounds and is about six weeks old, truly a little baby. I hope that Naomi has a long and happy life with us, and that Zoë us watching from Cat Heaven (they must have a lot of catnip there!), pleased.

Look who showed up last night!

Well, at 10:30 last night, I was reading in bed when I heard the most pathetic meowing. (Lucky my window was open.) I of course ran outside. A tiny kitten tore across the driveway and straight to me. She was starving hungry, so I took her into the front porch and we fed her. Then we set her up in the downstairs bathroom with food, a litterbox and a bed.

Gordon shocked me once again by taking four minutes to agree to keep her (usually he takes four years to make a decision. Last year he shocked me by taking ten minutes to decide to adopt Alex from the SPCA.) She has to go to the vet and be checked out, and she needs a name, but here she is. She's very young...

I'm presuming it's a "she" because of the tortoiseshell (or is that calico?) but I'll let the vet confirm that before we work on a name! I am already in love.

The dogs will not be allowed near her for quite a while, as I am not convinced that Tristan the Squirrel Hunter could differentiate between a tiny kitten and a rodent. He is fine with our other cats, but they are CAT size! :) She'll be spending at least the next week in the bathroom.

Have I mentioned that I am already in love? She has the cutest orange stripe down the middle of her forehead.

I have been wanting a third cat for some time, because we had three cats before and can handle that. So many cats need homes, and it pains me not to be able to help more. I keep going to the SPCA to brush and socialize cats, and it has taken all my strength not to bring one home. But in my heart I had a feeling that the right cat would just turn up, and it apparently has. And tomorrow marks a year since my dear lap-cat Zoë died unexpectedly. Zoë came to me as a malnourished, ringworm-infested kitten. I still miss her. Call me crazy but I am convinced she sent this little one to me last night.

Excuse me, I have to go. Someone is meowing for me! :)

Friday, September 26, 2008

Oooh, saucy!

First off, my kitchen helper, the able and handsome Tristan:

"I am King of the Omnivores. There is nothing I won't eat!"

T is excellent at cleaning up anything dropped on the floor.

The other week, I made chili sauce with ingredients mostly from my garden. I ended up with something like eight kinds of tomato in the sauce. The recipe is from an old Bernardin canning book I have. I've been trying to find the recipe online so I don't have to type it out. No luck yet.

Anyhoo, here is the sauce before being boiled down for 2-1/2 hours:

And voila, here it is next to my mother's canner, which is almost as old as me (i.e. past 40!)

And here we have the finished product:

Chili sauce was probably one of the first things I ever canned, some 20 years ago. I love canning stuff, although I stick to recipes that require water bath, as opposed to pressure, canning. I used to be afraid of my Mum's pressure cooker, never mind a pressure canner!

This year I've so far "put up" two kinds of pickled beets, chili sauce, "Garden Patch" salsa, Mexican tomatillo salsa, pickled hot peppers, and strawberry jam. There's more to come. I want to make some salsa verde tomorrow with the pounds of tomatillos I have in my fridge (they did really well in the garden this year.) I also intend to make some chutney, more beets, and more salsa of some variety.

I get a thrill out of growing things, then putting them in jars and eating them throughout the winter. I'm channelling my inner pioneer. And the stuff is always vastly superior to the mass-produced crapola you get at the grocery store. If you follow basic hygiene and safety rules, it's surprisingly easy to do your own canning. Stick to water bath canning and tested recipes. Bernardin has a very good site.

I also intend to buy their excellent book, the Bernardin Complete Book of Home Preserving: 400 Delicious and Creative Recipes for Today. It's packed with yummy ideas. No, I don't work for Bernardin BUT about ten years ago I did some packaging design for them when I freelanced at a studio in Oakville, Ontario. They still use some of my work, which makes me smile every time I see it on the store shelves!

Now back to your regularly scheduled foodstuffs...

The basil bug

Update 08/09/30: This is an immature stink bug, although I still don't exactly what kind!

Before the frost got my basil, I found this cool bug on it. I have no idea what it is (haven't taken a stab at identifying it yet), but it was about the size of a ladybug:

The design on its back was incredibly intricate, like someone had painted it on there. Amazing!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The King on His Throne

We have what are quite possibly the most spoiled pets in the world. My in-laws, sadly for them, have no grandchildren. That would be because Gordon (an only child) and I (an only child) have no offspring. The line dies with us. So my in-laws, who brought Gordon up in a petless household (well, there was a budgie, who stiffed it while being boarded, and some fish that used to engage in suicide leaps onto the carpeting; apparently aquarium hoods were a new concept in the 70s because I had similar issues with MY fish), have thrown themselves into the roles of grandparents to our cats and dogs. They can't remember the 15-year-old leopard gecko's name, so she tends to get left out! :) (Her name is Kartini, and she is named after this woman. Kartini the gecko was a wedding gift to us, and the hubacious one and I honeymooned in southeast Asia, including Indonesia.)

Upon visiting this weekend, my in-laws handed over two puffy pillows for the cats and a piggy-bank for all the hairy kids, with over THIRTY BUCKS inside for the pets to spend on what they wish! I had to hide the bank, because Gordon can and will steal from his own fur-children. just as he relentlessly pilfers from my wallet. ("That'll be $13.59, ma'am." "Uhhh... I apparently only have 12 cents in my wallet. Do you take debit or credit cards?" "No, ma'am.")

And here is King Alex, tripod-kitty extraordinaire, enjoying his new butt-cossetting throne:

This time last year, he had recently been rescued from a leg-hold trap by some caring individual, had his injured, maggot-infested leg amputated, and was awaiting adoption at the Cornwall SPCA. Things seem to be going a whole lot better for him this year!

"What dost thou want, scum-sucking serf?"

My in-laws have been very sweet about loving up the pets. I know they would have adored grandchildren, but among other things, my own personal plumbing was not up to the task. So they have graciously thrown themselves into pampering the furry monsters, all of whom are rescues. And I think that's lovely!

Monday, September 22, 2008

The killer frost came... and killed!

Yes, well, on Thurday night the killer frost came and killed. So the timing of my poetry was apt! Luckily, I believed the warning on the Environment Canada site, and went out and harvested as much veg as I could before the bitter end. I could have covered my tomatoes with dainty blankets, I suppose, but it's gotta end sometime, and it's only a matter of delaying the inevitable. I was too lazy to do that this year.

I was thrilled to get about eight decent pumpkins, a few of which are in this photo with other things (Delicata winter squash, mutant pattypans, the ever-handsome Tristan):

Speaking of good-lookin' boy dogs...

I loathe that day-glo hunting collar but until I find something that is attractive AND washable, it'll have to do. This one is UGLY and washable; one out of two ain't bad. The washability aspect is very important when you have dogs that swim daily, roll in dead things, smear themselves in rancid fat, wriggle in manure, enjoy being sprayed by skunks, and so on.

My several varieties of sunflower did yery well this year too. I picked a few flower heads, but I'm leaving the rest out for the birds. Next year I'm just going to do a whacking huge patch down in my field. The cats have a nice haul of organic catnip drying in the pantry cupboard. They are complete and utter 'nip sluts.

And here is lovely Sophie in her own unlovely collar:

She's lying in the shade of the Newport flowering plum tree I planted in memory of my dear friend Carol, who passed away last November at the tender age of 42. I think the tree will be tall and graceful, like Carol was. Next spring we'll get rid of the post and nylons (SO attractive!), but with the winds around here, I think it'll need support to help it through its first winter.

If this coming winter is anything like last winter, I'll need some support myself....

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Ode to a veggie patch in its death throes

Out in the garden, my basil turns black
The tomatoes are rotting, the Swiss chard is slack.
The pumpkins are turning, the zucchini is toast,
The pattypans are puckered! But what bothers me most?

These deaths of brave veggies, over which I have slaved!
I picked them, I shared them, and everyone raved.
My dear little cukes, all prickly and green,
My sexy soft eggplants with appendages obscene.

The wee tasty scallions that made my breath smell,
The garlic and onions caused halitosis as well.
The juice-leaking beets with their bug-ridden leaves,
The multi-hued carrots that the dogs always thieved.

The burgundy beans and the freaky kohlrabi
(Well wasn't that silly! What rhymes with "kohlrabi?")
The poopy broc-CO-li that smells like bad feet,
The fat tomatillos with the Mexican beat. (What? It rhymes!)

Tomorrow they'll die when the temperature hits zero. (Celsius, for you Yanks! 32F)
There's no way to save them; I ain't no veg hero.
And so I must witness their horrific demise.
They'll turn gloopy and icky as they scream their good-byes.

Yes the garden is finished and winter is nigh.
Crap tomatoes and 'tatoes I'll soon have to buy.
It's tragic, it's awful, it makes my heart hurt,
to think of my darlings lying dead in the dirt.

Yet it's not all misery, sadness and woe,
crying and screeching and hurling my hoe.
For next year I'm hopin' to have in my employ
A deliciously hunky Colin Firth SHED BOY!

Thank you. Thank you very much! No poets were harmed in the making of this ode.

Yes, he's turning over in his grave...

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


I am SO not ready for this... and they're turning up everywhere:

This morning it was 2C or 35F. The end (of everything in my vegetable garden) is near...

Monday, September 15, 2008

That eggplant lasagna recipe...

The recipe is from Weekend Cooking by Ricardo:

Scroll down to the third from the bottom, "Lasagna with Eggplant Caviar and Grilled Sweet Red Peppers."

The recipe is also on this page!

It was very yummy and not complicated, except Gordon used "oven-ready" lasagna noodles and you should really use the normal ones. The lasagna doesn't really cook long enough for the oven-ready ones (although G added on time and it worked out okay.) I picked several more small eggplants from my garden to make the sacrifice for this meal. The fellow below with the dubious appendage was actually killed at the altar of "pasta with roasted veggies", from Truly Madly Pasta by Ursula Ferrigno, two days earlier!

Tasty little suckers!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Eggplant, anyone?

I grew eggplants for the first time this year, and they have been quite successful. Tonight le chef Gordon is making eggplant lasagne. I need to pick the rest of the eggplants before the first frost hits, which I suspect is going to be within the next week or two at most.

I thought this particular one had very humanesque features:

Happy weekend! And I still can't believe I only got two lousy comments on the Colin Firth birthday post. Where is Colin when you need him?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

"Teeny Wallace" my BEHIND!

My friend Nancy, aka Sexy Mexy, lives in Mexico. She has thus far rescued three ... no, wait, isn't it four?... (good grief, I'm losing track!) street dogs. She keeps telling all and sundry that her dog Wallace is a dainty buttercup of a canine, but I refuse to believe it, and I ain't the only one. So she sent me this photo as proof of his diminutiveness, and claimed it hadn't been doctored in Photoshop:

Amazing, isn't it, how perspective can make the gargantuan seem small? Last I heard, Wallace weight 498 lbs and stood six feet tall at the shoulder! Guinness is knocking down Nancy's door.

Nice try, though, Sexy Mexy. "Teeny Wallace" my big furry behind!!

What's he up to?

Our barn was home to a family of raccoons this spring. There is a room in the barn that is insulated and was used by the former owner as a sort of office for his machining business. The raccoons and the squirrels spent several months ripping apart all the insulation in there, and depositing piles of raccoon dung and black walnut shells in every imaginable place.

Gordon decided to start tackling the mess last Sunday, and he managed to clean all the insulation and assorted crapola out of the downstairs part of the barn. Next he'll do the upstairs. As you can see, he was suitably attired. Tristan and Sophie were happy to help by dropping tomatoes, stolen from my garden, on top of the insulation!

And on a brighter note, some sunflowers from my garden...

A job well done!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Happy birthday, Colin Firth... you love rat.


Mr. Sexy turns 48... ye olde fart!

Happy 48th birthday, Colin Firth. My greetings are tinged with acrid bitterness, for you have COMPLETELY ignored my desperate entreaty. I asked, nay, BEGGED you to acknowledge my dear American friend Phyllis, your most loyal stalker, I mean, fan. And what did you do? You blew her off! You blew ME off! You blew NORTH AMERICA off! HMPF!

I, personally, am ticked and will never speak to you again. Well, obviously that's a lame threat, since we've never spoken before, but you know, THEORETICALLY I will never speak to you again. I will no longer take your calls. I am so done.

Hey, I can take your snub, your caustic lack of awareness of our existence, but what about poor, poor Phyllis? She's had to go and get a dog with brown eyes that remind her of yours. A DOG, Colin. The ache in her heart will never cease! A DOG, to heal the bleeding, throbbing hole in her heart left by your careless regard for her beautiful soul that loves you so.

And yet, Mr. Colin Firth Love Rat, she is forgiving. Phyllis still holds a candle for you. The flame burns night and day, night and day, occasionally setting off the smoke detector. Okay, well, it's not a REAL flame because Phyllis has asthma and can't be around smoke. It's one of those fake battery-operated flames, but it LOOKS real and that's all that matters. Amazing, isn't it, what they come up with these days? Remember when we were kids, Colin, and computers hadn't been invented? No DVDs, no VCRs, heck, I remember the advent of colour television!

Well, in the spirit of generosity, to celebrate your 48th birthday (no wonder you're playing father roles these days!), my dear friend Phyllis has a special, special greeting JUST FOR YOU:

"Happy birthday, you big British hunk o' Mr. Darcy burning love. CALL ME!"

(Oh come on, SOMEBODY must have a comment on this post!)

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

That's one big Setter!

My friend Phyllis, aka Spidergurl, aka author extraordinaire, recently adopted a lovely English Setter she has named Dodger (after the character in Oliver Twist.) Dodger, age four, was given up for adoption by a moronic freaking idiot, I mean, by his former owner, because the moronic freaking idiot's, I mean, former owner's new boyfriend doesn't like dogs. Don't get me started.

Dodger doesn't know how lucky he is; Phyllis is one amazing dogmother. She has adopted many dogs before this, including an ancient poodle left homeless after Hurricane Katrina. She nursed him back to health and gave him a marellous retirement. This year Phyllis lost her heart dog Fred, another well-loved senior canine citizen. Recently she decided she was ready to give a home to another needy dog, to join her terrier-mix Ginger (aka "Whinger") and fluffy grey cat Dickens. And so Dodger arrived.

Gordon loves up Fred (l) and Clint (r), while visiting America’s Dairyland (and Phyllis) in October 2006.

Whinger says, “But what about me? ME ME ME ME ME?!! I need love too. I am soooo neglected.”

Meanwhile, Dickens enjoys exploring his new home.
(Phyllis’ photo, used without permission. Tough noogies, diddums.)

The most amusing part of this is how Phyllis keeps insisting that Dodger is a small dog. Phyllis has had a string of small dogs, ones that actually fit neatly in a lap. Dodger, however, is an ENGLISH SETTER. Now, I have lived with five different English Setters in my life, all belonging to my Mum, the first of which was Gina (who joined the family when I was three) the last of which was Tara, whom I inherited upon my Mum's death in 1997. However small they are, even field English Setters are NOT SMALL DOGS, damn it. Now, Dodger is admittedly a petite boy, but he is NOT SMALL. However, Phyllis refuses to believe this. Therefore, I am posting this photo of Dodger with Phyllis to prove once and for all that Phyllis is completely and utterly wrong. Dodger is a BIG BOY, as evidenced below:

Small my ass!

Welcome Dodger! You've landed in clover. Or dog biscuits!

Monday, September 08, 2008

Peachy keen!

Yesterday I reached into a basket of fine Ontario peaches and pulled out this...

Good thing I'm not squeamish, eh? SLUGZILLA!

I liberated Slugzilla outside, to dine on my hostas. I figured he deserved to live if he'd made it this far, enduring a ride from the Niagara region on a refrigerated truck onto the shelves of the Farm Boy store in Cornwall, and then a warmer ride home in the trunk of our car.

And look! Slug hanky-panky!

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Tomatoes and tractors

My tomatoes are finally, finally ripening! We had a solid two weeks of sun and it did the trick. I planted many varieties, including various heirloom tomatoes, but don't ask me what's what (except for the green ones, which are called "Lime Salad" and are supposed to be green after ripening.) There's also a purple tomatillo in here!

Tristan and Sophie also like the tomatoes, and to my dismay have been helping themselves in the garden! It's not enough that they sit next to me and beg for carrots when I'm out digging, now they are helping themselves to whatever they can find out there! I've never had dogs so fond of vegetables. Yesterday I found Tristan gnawing on a raw potato, which I took away from him. ("Awwww, Mummy! Come on!! It's just a little potato!")

And on another note, our "little brother" back in BC send us a stuffed Husky after his trip to Alaska with his Mom. The Husky is quite fond of our neighbour's old English tractor, which had been driven over here with a load of wood last week.

I think this tractor has a lot of character, but neither Gordon nor I will drive it, despite our neighbour's offer to teach us. Gordon drove it once and thought he was going to roll down the hill and die. We're terrified of it. It apparently lacks brakes, and definitely lacks a roll bar! Our neighbour Bill, who has sold several cords of hardwood, has been bringing over loads and moving the tractor around for us (from wood shed to barn to basement window, through which we toss wood for this winter, to be stacked near the wood/oil furnace.)

Bill has no problem with the scary old tractor, but he has been driving it for decades.

And the sled dog has no fear!

Friday, September 05, 2008

An autumn poem

Here's a poem for you about autumn, by John Clare, who had rather a sad life:

Autumn Birds

The wild duck startles like a sudden thought,
And heron slow as if it might be caught.
The flopping crows on weary wings go by
And grey beard jackdaws noising as they fly.
The crowds of starnels whizz and hurry by,
And darken like a clod the evening sky.
The larks like thunder rise and suthy round,
Then drop and nestle in the stubble ground.
The wild swan hurries hight and noises loud
With white neck peering to the evening clowd.
The weary rooks to distant woods are gone.
With lengths of tail the magpie winnows on
To neighbouring tree, and leaves the distant crow
While small birds nestle in the edge below.

John Clare

PS: Visit Shellmo's lovely log cabin site and enter for a giveaway on Monday! But you have to submit a poem or quote about autumn. If you haven't looked at my "favourite links" lately, Shellmo has two other quite gorgeous blogs, about her place in Northern Michigan, and her birding (amazing photography!) And no, Shellmo, I'm not just sucking up to win a prize! ;) I love blogs like hers, that combine interesting text with great photos and a beautiful blog design to boot. (Yes, I am the world's laziest graphic designer. I could have made this blog more attractive, but you know how it is... you're lucky I customized the header!)

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

The Lancaster perch roll...dig in!

We live in the township of South Glengarry, in the county of Stormont, Dundas, Glengarry. All around here, you see signs outside restaurants advertising what was, until today, a mystery to us:


Now, I grew up fishing in Ontario and I know what a perch is, but a perch roll? I hoped it was something like a lobster roll (which I enjoyed many times in Nova Scotia) but I wasn't sure. Until today, when I found this gem of a video on the South Glengarry tourism website. If you want to learn about the glorious perch roll, and see some of the area surrounding where I live (we often lunch in Lancaster, and have also frequented the Blue Anchor), watch this:

In Search of the Legendary Lancaster Perch Roll

You also get to see a bit of the countryside around here, which I think is very attractive!

Perch roll, anyone?