Monday, January 31, 2011

Happy day

I had a good day yesterday, my birthday, thanks to Gordon...

 We went out snowshoeing. It was sunny and beautiful out, not too cold.

We followed the creek along our field into the adjacent field. Then I broke through the ice! You can see how it has fallen away from the edge in this photo. Uh, that was me. But I didn't even get wet, just leapt onto shore. I told Gordon to stop where he was and climb our, which is what he was doing in this photo! (The water here is about six inches deep. No worries of hypothermic drowning.)

The dogs were having a great time and posed for a photo or two.

Then they gave me a bunch of over-exuberant birthday face-kisses!

 The farmer who owns the land next to ours has a nice hardwood forest. They've been driving their snowmobiles and ATVs through it. We walked through for a while, for a change of scenery.

I was surprised to see a sunflower had been growing in the woods! I grow lots of sunflowers in my garden. I figure some bird transported seed to the woodlot, and voilà!

A very large tree died and fell into the fork of another tree.

When we got back to the house, Tristan pulled his usual stunt of settling down in the snow and looking pathetic.


We fed chickadees by hand near the house. They are so sweet! And can you see what's on Gordon's hat?
Yep! A hungry little chickadee. I am going to try to get more hand-fed chickadee pics in the coming weeks.

But wait, there's more fun! We met a local dairy farmer recently, and he invited us to come see his farm. He and his wife have lots of lovely cows who like to lick...

They licked my hands, they licked my hair, the licked my coat, they licked my leg!
 Worse than a cat!

Here's Gordon slacking off while the farmer does the hard work.

The healthy, happy barn cats enjoyed fresh creamy milk.
And look, a new born calf. Mama cow hadn't even finished cleaning her up yet.

After the dairy farm, we went out for Thai food. I was hoping that the other restaurant patrons wouldn't notice the scent of barn emanating from our booth.

Snowshoeing, chickadees, dairy farms, Thai delights... never a dull moment around here!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

End o' January

I took the dogs for a walk late in the afternoon the other day, and snapped some more pics. The light in winter can be very dramatic, or very subtle.

Good night, sun!


An animal (or various animals) likes to hang out in the hole at the bottom of this big old tree. The dogs feel compelled to stick their heads in there every time we walk by! A few weeks ago, something was in residence and it was not pleased with the invasive dog noses. It could have been a pine marten, or a fisher, or even a small raccoon. It made some very nasty sounds, and I dragged the dogs away before the occurrence of any tragic nose amputations. I just caught a glimpse of some dark little paws in the hole. I am tending towards pine marten.

 I decided to be brave and snowshoe on the frozen "municipal drain" (aka creek) that runs through our property. I figured that if the ice was thick enough for people to be skating on the Rideau Canal in Ottawa right now,  then this ice is thick enough to hold me. Plus the water beneath it  is currently about 8" deep, unlikely to cause a fatality if I fall in. I am paranoid about walking on ice. I think I paid a bit too much attention to the ice safety movies they used to show us in elementary school!

 Sophie is not worried at all about ice. Now if I had a Zamboni, I could groom this ice into a nice skateway.

 Anyone know what the tracks in the middle are? The ones on either side are from the dogs. I need to get out my field guide. They looked too large to be a cat, but I could be wrong about that.

 Winter presents lots of opportunities for stark and dramatic photos...

Look at this poor, pathetic soul. Tristan is afraid of Sophie, who has a nasty habit of snarking at him at the end of our walks. So when we are nearly home, he hangs back and lets her go ahead, and waits for me to call him over and walk beside him to the house. I'm his personal thug! It's funny how he can't see that he has at least ten pounds on Sophie and could take her if he wanted to. But bitches rule. ;)

Tristan is definitely the master of the sad, "poor me" look.

 This is outside my office window.

And now I must go eat the wonderful breakfast my husband is preparing, because today is my BIRTHDAY! :)

Saturday, January 29, 2011


I don't know about other countries, but in Canada, we call Canadians who go south for the winter "snowbirds." The destination of choice for most of them seems to be Florida. So for my Art Trading Cards meeting today, I came up with a whack of my own "snowbirds", all from various places in Florida. Click on the images to enlarge. And see if you can spot the squirrel.



Alex says...


"Talk to the paw, baby, talk to the paw!"

Friday, January 28, 2011


 What is wrong with this picture?


 "I beg to differ!"

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Please vote

This will benefit my local shelter, where our tripod kitty Alex is from. The top three winners get funding. My shelter needs and deserves this $10,000. It is in a very economically-depressed area, and there are far too many mistreated and abandoned pets around here. Please vote! Voting ends Feb 28th. 

Read more about the SD & G OSPCA shelter here.

Alex was found in a leghold trap. Some kind soul took him to the SPCA, where they amputated his hind leg and put him up for adoption. 

I am no fan of Pepsi (I don't drink pop, and even when I did, I was a Coca Cola gal!), but I really want this idea to get funding, so I swallowed my pride, signed on, and am voting daily. Please help us by doing the same! I know it's a bit of pain, but I will be hugely grateful if you can help out. Let's get this idea into the top three.

I definitely ain't living in the city anymore...

I grew up in the deepest, darkest suburban hell of Toronto. As a young adult, I lived downtown, and also in the heart of Montréal for several years. You can find many interesting, not to mention startling, things when you walk around a city with your head down, but I never saw one of THESE until I moved to our farm...

It's a deer tag!

I found this lying in our laneway after a visit from my beekeeping friend, Eugene. The tag fell out of the back of his pick-up truck. He had just come back from taking a (dead) deer to the local butcher, and stopped by for a chat. Eugene doesn't hunt these days, although he used to be quite the trapper. He's more a fluffy bunny man now. The deer was shot by his son. I am grateful he didn't stop by when the deer was still in the back of the truck!

The dogs were VERY excited about the interesting smells in the bed of the pick-up and I had to stop them from jumping in.

I don't have a problem with responsible hunters, so long as they are not trophy-hunting, and eat/use what they kill. I really can't say much against hunting until I turn vegetarian. But personally I could not shoot an animal, and I guarantee I will never own a gun. I can't even kill insects! As for fishing, I gave that up when I was a teenager, because I found it too brutal, what with the hook in the mouth and all.

If I weren't such a hypocrite, I'd be a vegetarian by now. I don't eat a lot of meat, and I prefer fish, but I have not gone all the way down chickpea lane yet. I do at least buy whatever meat we consume from local farmers, where I know the animals have led decent lives.

So, what have you found in YOUR driveway lately?

(Or if you don't have a driveway, what about the sidewalk?)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

More oldies but goodies!

Some more old photos from my rather vast collection (only child inherits all!)

I'm not sure where this was taken; somewhere in Ontario, and judging from the swollen river, leafless trees, and my attire, it looks like spring. I adored my Dad! And I trusted implicitly that he wasn't going to let me fall in the water and be washed away to my death, although we do seem rather close to the edge. This was sometime around 1970 - 1971. I was so much more girly then than I am now. I mean, check out the PURSE.

And here is my maternal great-grandmother, Fanny, holding my very young mother, in England c. 1934. My mother used to tell me how Fanny was asked to be trained as a lady-in-waiting for the queen, but her own mother couldn't bear to be parted from her and so she was not allowed to go to the palace.   I figure this story is probably true, as my maternal great-grandparents had wealth until somebody (I think my great-great grandfather) drank it all away.

 Here is my mother, her brother, and her parents c. 1939 in Purley, Surrey England. My mother loved to tell me that her mother never ever wore a bra and it absolutely "ruined" her breasts. So I've worn a bra since I was three. Kidding! It was age 12. My grandfather was considerably older than my grandmother (17 years as I recall) and it was not, in the end, a happy marriage. My grandmother died on the operating table  at the age of 43, when my mother was 16.

My mother also told me my hair was EXACTLY like her mother's. I blow-dry it straight these days, but it's true that it's naturally wavy like my grandmother's.

Both of my grandparents were talented artists and I have some of my grandfather's drawings and a painting hanging in my house. My grandmother was a gifted pianist with a grand piano that my mother wanted to bring over to Canada when she immigrated. But apparently the climate here would have done it in, so she left it behind.

Two not-very-happy-looking little schoolkids! My mother and her brother, who was five years her senior. Neither of them looks particularly impressed with being photographed!

And now, some eggplant parmigiana calls my name. A good evening to you all!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

My first beau

When I was five, back in the year a man first walked on the moon (sigh!), my parents and I went to Barbados for family vacation. My parents rented a house complete with housekeeper/babysitter, a warm woman named Anita whom I immediately took to and still remember fondly all these years later.

My parents befriended another family while we were there. They had one child too, a six-year-old boy named Shaun. I immediately fell in love. Nowadays I prefer my younger man, but back then, the older Shaun seemed exotic and fascinating. We also had matching haircuts. For reasons I am still not clear on, right before our trip, my mother decided that all my curly blonde hair needed to be lopped off. I ended up looking a bit like a miniature Twiggy. 

Being a talented dressmaker, my mother used to sew all my clothes and was responsible for the ensemble in the above photo. She did beautiful work and it's a shame she never became a costume designer, a career she once dreamed of. Instead in her later life she ended up sewing a lot of Hallowe'en costumes, wedding and bridesmaid gowns, including one carefully altered to fit a very-pregnant bride! She sewed my wedding dress too, and I am still grateful for that.

I don't remember much about Shaun, except that he persuaded me to hide in a closet with him long enough to make our mothers frantic looking for us. Now don't worry, nothing naughty was going on in there! I recall sitting in the dark, trying to stifle giggles as we listened to our mums calling our names. I think Shaun ended up getting the blame for that episode.
I wonder what Shaun is up to now? I don't know his last name and I can't quite recall if his family was from England or Australia; I know they weren't Canadian. I wonder if he's gotten all decrepit and gelatinous and pasty, working as debt collector, or if he's still a sleek blonde womanizer, luring unsuspecting girls into closets? I guess I'll never know!

I have a lot of fond memories of our Barbados trip, but I also contracted a bad case of sand fleas, ending up with scabby, infected legs. I was taken to a Barbadian doctor and not allowed on the beach or in the ocean for the last week of the trip, something I found so upsetting that I still remember it 42 years later!

I could use a Caribbean vacation right about now...

Monday, January 24, 2011

Confluence of pets

One of the sunniest rooms in our house is the south-facing "piano room", so called because I keep my piano in there, along with an aged TV (c.1994) and some furniture in need of replacing! Lately I have been finding a daily assortment of pets enjoying the ever-moving patch of sunlight on the floor...

 Julius prefers the sofa, sunlight or not. Alex had been bathed in the sunlight until it shifted over towards Tristan!

The pink "coffee table" is out of place because I had hauled it over near the piano the other day. I needed somewhere to put my tea mug while I was playing Brahms and Liszt (badly).

 Not the greatest photo but they were pretty cute sunbathing together.


Meanwhile Julius expresses his disdain for all things canine.

 Sophie wandered in to check things out, then left again.

Meanwhile, Julius shows off his yoga skills. I wish I were that flexible in my yoga classes! Not even close.

By the way, when I got up at 6:30 am today, it was MINUS 36 Celsius (that's -32.8F) outside, and that was before the addition of any windchill. Ottawa (an hour west of us) set a cold record for yesterday's date. They have issued a frostbite warning for today. And some poor souls over the border in Gatineau, Quebec, are without power. Given that many Quebeckers heat with hydro, they are probably having a very cold morning! Meanwhile, pipes have burst in the World Exchange Plaza in Ottawa and water is cascading down three storeys over the atrium! Ah, winter in Canada. Gotta love it!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Mmmmm... cookies!

Cosmic Cookies from the Planet Organic Cookbook

Poor Gordon has been sick as a dog for the past ten days, despite rallying for a Thai food outing on his birthday. Right now he barely has a voice! If you know Gordon, you know how rare it is to see him rendered unable to speak. I consider it nothing short of a miracle that I have thus far not been infected by this nasty bug going around.

In a wifely effort to be kind and caring, I made cookies last night. I've been wanting to try these for a while, and despite the rather healthy-sounding ingredient list, they were REALLY good! Really. Trust me! The recipe is quite vegan but I used milk chocolate chips and defiled it. YUMMY! Yes, the batter looks a little strange, but fear not, it all turns out well in the end.

 I am trying to resist eating one for breakfast...

Here's a link to the recipe on the Planet Organic website, since the formatting below is a tad screwy. My friend got me the cookbook for Christmas 2009, and I use it all the time!


Cosmic Cookies

We debated long and hard on whether or not to reveal this secret recipe. By far our most popular cookie, in one week the Edmonton deli sells more than 1500!


2 1/4 cups Quick cooking oats 560 ml
2 cups Spelt flour 500 ml
1 cup Sunflower seeds 250 ml
3/4 cup + 2 tbsp Pumpkin seeds 210 ml
1/2 cup Shredded coconut, unsweetened 125 ml
1/4 cup Flax seeds 60 ml
1 cup Granulated cane sugar 250 ml
1 tbsp Cinnamon, ground 15 ml
2 1/4 tsp Sea salt 11 ml
1 3/4 cups Dark chocolate chips 430 ml
1 1/4 cups Raisins 310 ml
1/4 cup Water 60 ml
1/4 cup Blackstrap molasses 60 ml
3/4 cup Canola oil 180 ml
1 cup Soy milk 250 ml


1. Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line baking trays with parchment paper.
2. In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients, everything from oats to raisins. In a separate large bowl, combine wet ingredients, everything from water to soy milk. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix slow at a low speed (or by hand) until just combined. Do not over mix.
3. Portion cookie dough using a 1/3-cup measure and place onto lined baking tray. Gently flatten cookies before baking. Bake for 24 minutes or until lightly browned. Yields 24 cookies.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Being an "only"

I am an only child, and not only that, I am an only child married to an only child! This is the allegedly the worst marital combination possible, as we are both supposed to be spoiled brats who can never relinquish the limelight to another. We are evidently selfish, stunted human beings who never learned to share (some would say we are all the more despicable because we never had children!) Obviously the world would have been a better place had we both been smothered at birth.
Despite the horrific, horrific I say, odds, Gordon and I will be celebrating our 18th wedding anniversary this spring. And I have a lot to say about this "selfish only child" bullsh*t, which is about as bad as the "You don't have children, ergo you are selfish!" bullsh*t.

My Mum, my Dad and me in a swimming pool somewhere
in western Ontario, sometime around 1965.

First off, let me just say that Gordon and I both LOVE being only children. We have both always LOVED it. In fact, the only time I had the slightest smidgen of a feeling of "A sibling might be nice!" was after both my parents had passed on and I no longer had any immediate family. But then I thought of all the battles over wills and estates that go on amongst siblings after parents die! 

Now, I know there are people out there with wonderful siblings, and I do envy them those close relationships. But I have never known anything but being an only child, and I am happy with my situation. What gets me is when people feel SORRY for me for being an only child, or presume I must be a selfish freak, or that my childhood was lonely and pathetic because I had no brothers or sisters. And that just pisses me off! I mean, I don't presume other people are freaks because they have siblings, so why do they make gross generalizations about us "onlies"?

Gratuitous bathtub shot of me being held upright by Mum!

Even better are the people of childbearing age who tell us with a straight face that OF COURSE they are planning on having a second child because if they don't, their first child will be damaged and tortured by the lack of a brother or sister, and grow up to be some sort of sibling-less monstrosity with a twelve-foot-long rap sheet of psychological problems (because everyone knows that having siblings is a sure-fire way to avoid having psychological problems! - note sarcasm -)

And while people are proclaiming such nonsense to us, the only children, we are standing there with bemused looks on our faces, wondering where we fit in on their monstrosity scale! Really, I should save the world and go stick my head in a gas oven RIGHT NOW. - note sarcasm -

 Mum, me, Dad and my Uncle Kevin peeking in from the corner.

Here's the scoop, people. Being an only child doesn't automatically turn you into a selfish, stunted freak, any more than having siblings will guarantee that you'll grow up to be a well-adjusted, generous marvel. For the record, Hitler had SEVERAL siblings. In fact, there are many ADVANTAGES to being an only child, and as for loneliness, I grew up next to a family with seven kids and never lacked for playmates. I also had lots of friends, not to mention cousins and of course pets.

Wikipedia has an entry on only children and the ridiculous stereotypes that have been debunked by numerous studies.

Mum and me at the park

Amusingly, a certain member of my extended family continually told my mother, throughout my childhood, that I was spoiled and would grow up to be a mess. As it turns out, her six children have all had issues and perhaps only one or two of them have made anything of their lives. One has been in jail repeatedly for dealing drugs and assaulting his wife. Despite my "handicap" of being an only child, I have done considerably better in life than THAT.

So please, people, stop judging us only children! (For that matter, stop judging those of us who chose not to have children! Oh wait, I know, just STOP JUDGING OTHER PEOPLE, period.) We are no more or less selfish or demented than those of you with siblings. Gordon and I have thus far led productive lives, have done lots of (unselfish) volunteer work, have ample friends, are involved in our community, and are quite happy with our sibling-less status, so please, spare your pity for people who really need it. And for the love of all things chocolate-y, stop telling us, to our faces,  how you OF COURSE had to have a second child to prevent your first one from growing up to be a sick, twisted loner. Only children can do just fine without siblings, thanks very much. And the last time I checked, neither of us were sick, twisted loners. (Well, okay, I might be a little twisted, but that's what makes me creative!)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The frigid moon...

The moon setting the sky was a very pretty sight this morning, so I went outside in my pajamas, robe and boots to try to get a photograph that would convey its beauty...

Not quite! The fact that the windchill was -22C did not encourage to stay outside with my camera for very long. Take my word for it, it was more beautiful than the photos show.

PS: Our friend Richard took a STUNNING photo of the moon here last night. Check it out.