Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The very long car ride

We spent last Thursday - Monday on a whirlwind driving trip to and from Maryland, to attend the bat mitzvah of our friends' lovely daughter Rachel (for my other pals in the MD area, I'll be back there again for a longer visit soon, not to worry!) The drive down ended up taking 12 hours because apparently all of Pennsylvania is under construction. Funny, it was under construction the last time we drove down there, in 1995! We broke up the drive home, staying in Corning, NY on Sunday night (what a BEAUTIFUL spot!) I'll upload some photos in another post.

By Monday afternoon, we were both very bored and tired of driving. That's when the "music" began. Tragic to think I spent four years at university earning a Bachelor of Music. On the other hand, I was a clarinetist, not a singer, in case that's not abundantly obvious. Not that I was trying very hard.

This video may be toooooo long for some to endure!

We hadn't been drinking! I swear!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Honkers and fungi...

...have nothing in common. Do they?

A sprinkling of mushrooms in our woodlot (which was planted 25 years ago with mainly white spruce and white pine.)

Mystery hole... perhaps for a chipmunk!

Future tree.

Nice lookin' 'shrooms. No clue if they are edible, and I was not about to sample them! Only the knowledgeable should be eating the mushrooms they find.

Biiiiiig mushroom.

And the honkers, aka Canada geese. Some hunter dropped by to ask if he could shoot some on the weekend. Uh, no, sorry. But we appreciate that he asked! But we don't want guns going off on the farm.

And I don't mind people hunting for food, as long as they are responsible hunters, and not wasteful. It' s not my thing, but until I stop buying/eating animal products, I feel it's hypocritical of me to say much about hunting. I've found the hunters around here to be quite respectful and polite.

Trophy hunting is a whole other matter!!! Don't get me started.

The geese finally got tired of me and the dogs and took off.

Bye bye!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Fluffalicious fluffacity!

The milkweed pods are poppin' and it's a world of fluff on the farm! It drives the farmers nuts, but milkweed is food for monarch butterfly larvae, and supplies nectar to a wide variety of insect. I think the flowers are pretty and I love their scent. And I can't resist grabbing handfuls of the floss as I walk along... so silky! One of those things you just have to reach out and touch.

Pods in various stages of opening.

Dainty little thing!


Milkweed floss on the seeds of a cow parsnip plant.

I don't think this one is milkweed but it's a perfect puffball!

The seeds remind me of fish scales.

Blowin' in the wind.

A Canada goose feather, which is fluffy enough to be included in this post!

Not milkweed, but still pretty darn fluffy!

A carpet of fluff! Magical.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Mmm, chocolate-y!

My husband knows how to cheer me up. A chocolate-almond croissant from Pâtisserie fine Fidélice in Québec!

Mmmm, pass the Lipitor!

PS: My friend with the fractured pelvis is doing okay and is fairly chipper. I appreciate all the suggestions of ways to help her and her hubby while she's laid up!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The odiferous ones

"La la la! A beautiful fall day! A wonderful walk in the woods!"

"La la la! Let's run joyfully through the milkweed fluff!"

"And when we get back to the house, let's run up to the black and white kitty-cat and try to make friends!"

"Mummy, when I tried to make friends with that kitty-cat, he sprayed something bad in my face."

"I don't understand why this keeps happening, Mummy. He is a bad kitty-cat. This is the fourth time this year he has been mean to me like this."

"It stung so much, I had to go rub my whole face in the dirt. I feel a little better now. But why won't you get close to me, Mummy? Why are you wrinkling your nose and swearing?"

"I wasn't stupid enough to make friends with that dumb black and white kitty-cat. But it's possible that I rolled in some stink that wafted onto the lawn. It was an accident, I swear."


If anyone needs a good de-skunking recipe, here you go:

Mix 1 quart/1 litre hydrogen peroxide, 1/4 cup baking soda, and about a teaspoon gentle liquid soap. Massage into stinking dog, avoiding eyes and other delicate bits. Attempt to leave on for ten minutes, or as long as dog will tolerate. Rinse well.

This is fantastically effective so long as you make sure you've gotten it well into the reeking areas, and leave it in as long as you can!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

How life can change in an instant

Two beautiful Clydesdales and a pretty half-Clyde. I'm no horse expert, but as I understand it, work horses are more mellow than "regular" horses. These three all have lovely personalities and I love being around them!

I'm not in my happy place at the moment. On Sunday, one of my closest friends, someone I can always rely on and who has brightened my life immeasurably, was thrown from her horse while out riding on her farm. She's now in the orthopaedic trauma unit at an Ottawa hospital with a broken pelvis and a concussion. We're just glad she was wearing a helmet or she might not be here, period. Her husband found her confusedly wandering the field (on a broken pelvis!) after the horse returned to the barn without her. It's going to be a long recovery for my friend, but fortunately she has "just" one break, not several. She is a fit, active, energetic person but she's also technically old enough to be my mother (if she had been a teen bride!), and it seems the older we get, the more time it takes to heal.

I'm still not over the shock of all this, and it strikes me yet again how fragile life can be, and how everything can be turned upside-down in an instant. I am immeasurably sad for my friend, who now has this long, painful recovery ahead of her. She dearly loves riding, but has already talked of giving it up, and I wouldn't blame her. Who would want to take the chance of going through this again?

My friend is not one to enjoy sitting around doing nothing, and I know that spending any extended period in hospital will test her patience. She will have to go to a rehab hospital after she is stabilized. Thinking of her being held back by this devastating injury makes me well up.

I am also sad for me, because I will miss my friend's happy presence at yoga class, and at the community choir practices we attend together, even if it's just for eight weeks or so (that's the amount of time she will be made to stay relatively immobile.) I want everything to go back to the way it was before Sunday afternoon, when something unknown spooked my friend's normally-placid horse, and everything, literally and figuratively, came crashing down.

My friend and her husband are very active in the community and spend a lot of time helping others, including making deliveries for Meals on Wheels. One hopes that all that kindness and generosity will be reciprocated, now that they are facing a struggle of their own. We live in a rather tightly-knit rural community where neighbours look out for each other, so that helps a lot.

And on that note, if you have any suggestions for nice things I can do for my friend and hubby, especially while she is in hospital, let me know! I'm trying to think of more imaginative stuff than taking flowers and chocolate (not that we aren't doing that, too!) Gordon took a pot o' chili over to my friend's hubby last night, which is a start.

Be careful out there... in many ways, humans are very strong but in others, we break easily. Life can change so much at any given moment. It's important to enjoy today.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

"Food, glorious food..."

Oliver! was the first movie I ever saw in a cinema. I believe I was four or five at the time. I got tired and started crying halfway through and my parents took me home.

Anyhoom for some reason, I felt compelled to photograph supper last night.

Russian Blue potatoes from my garden, which are actually purple. Strangely, I have a cutting board to match. A word to the wise: these potatoes look scary when mashed. Save the mashing for the Yukon Golds!

Lemon coriander rub, for salmon, from Bonnie Stern's Essentials of Home Cooking: 1 tbsp smoked paprika, 1 tbsp coriander seeds, 1 tsp kosher salt, pepper, 1 tbsp lemon peel, 1 tbsp brown sugar. Rub into salmon and roast on parchment paper at 425F for about 20 minutes until fish flakes easily with fork. Results in this:

Served with a salad thing of yellow peppers, grape tomatoes, avocado, balsamic vinegar and olive oil, sea salt and pepper:

But plating is DEFINITELY not my forte. I am always so hungry that I don't give a damn how it lands on the dish. Gordon is much more artistic with food.

And whenever I serve the purple potatoes with anything, the colour scheme goes all to hell. But I can't help it, they are such yummy potatoes!

I know, I know, orange and purple are not meant to go together on the dinner plate. Just close your eyes and eat.

And no, this is not a lemon zester, I know, I know. I was too lazy to dig out the zester. It's an old grater that belonged to my mother.

The most amazing part: it was made in SWEDEN. Not China! What's made in Sweden these days?!

Random squid shot.

I like squid, too, but it's been a long time since I've cooked it! c. 2006

Bon appetit!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Fall is here...

... because the ladybugs are moving indoors! While I hate the seasonal cluster fly invasions, the ladybugs (aka ladybirds) always make me smile. For some reason, this one was attracted to the Lightfoot's pine-scented soap my friend brought me back from the Adirondacks:

Such cheery little insects. I guess this one didn't mind the taste/feel/scent of soap.

There's yet another frost warning on for tonight, it's zero degrees Celsius right now (at 6:30 pm) and today I saw several VERY OFFENSIVE snowflakes. I'm sorry, snow before Hallowe'en is a crime against humanity!*

*Not a true crime against humanity. I do realize that there are FAR worse things in the world than snow in October. But I'm c-c-cold, my garden plants are succumbing to frost, I'm not ready for mittens, and I need to wwwwwhine! Waaaaaah!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Gordon goes north

Today's lovely photos are courtesy of my guest photographer, aka my husband Gordon. I thought he did a great job taking photos up in Thunder Bay this week, where he spent two days on a business trip.

I have not spent much time in northern Ontario (mostly I have just driven through it on our two cross-Canada moves) but it's spectacularly beautiful up there and I'm dying to go up for a real vacation.

Thunder Bay is located in northern Ontario, on a large bay at the head of Lake Superior. Here's a nice shot of the bay itself:

One very tall tree sticks out above a forest of colour:

Trees poke out from a vertical rock face.

Thunder Bay sits on the Canadian shield. There's a lot of rock, including a rock road.

As you can see, autumn is in full swing:

And it's a looooong way down!

Beautiful! Thanks for sharing, Gordon.