Monday, February 28, 2011

Oscars that suck, and sundaes that don't...

I'm sorry, but the Oscars last night SUCKED. Big time! And oddly, we watched them to the bitter end. Some years we don't watch the Academy Awards at all, and I can't remember the last time I stayed up for the whole shebang. I think we stuck it out this year because it was like watching some hideous traffic accident; you knew you should just look away, but your eyes were magnetically drawn to the spectacle. Plus Gordon and I both had our netbooks out and were having an impromptu Facebook Oscar party with our friends during the whole show. Some of the comments were scathingly hilarious. Bring on the F-bombs.

The other thing that made it all bearable was our annual tradition, invented by Gordon about a decade ago: The Oscar Sundae...

 Vanilla ice cream, homemade hot fudge sauce, pecans, bananas and toasted coconut. But we forgot the whipped cream.

It almost made James Franco bearable. Almost. He could have dunked himself in hot fudge sauce and slathered on whipped cream and I still wouldn't have found him appetizing.

And here's a much cuter couple that Anne Hathaway and James "I smoked a cucumber-sized spliff in the limo on the way over" Franco...

Still watching those chickadees.

Sometimes Julius gets a turn!

Happy Monday.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Stylish, moi?

Little Blue Mouse has bestowed upon me a Stylish Blogger Award, for which I thank her warmly! So here's what I need to do:

1.  Thank the person who gave me the award and link back to them
2.  Share seven things about me that you didn't know
3.  Pass the award onto 15 great bloggers
4.  Let those bloggers know they have been awarded
I enjoyed reading Little Blue Mouse's post on this, which led me to some other great blogs.

Hmmm, let's see, seven things you don't know about me... at least, I THINK you don't know them. 
In no particular order...

1. I have always dreamed of being a drummer in a rock band. I did get an "A" in percussion when earning my Bachelor of Music degree. I also got A's in my rhythm training classes. I have a strong desire to hit things with sticks. My parents gave me a clarinet when I was 9, which is why I ended up as a clarinetist, but I should have gotten a drum kit. Initially, I wanted a cello because I love Beverly Cleary's book Mitch and Amy, and Amy played cello.

2. As a child I was constantly writing poetry and got  a poem I wrote published in the kids' section of the tabloid Toronto Sun newspaper. It was called "Flight of the Gull" and was suitably melodramatic. I think I was inspired by Jonathan Livingstone Seagull. I loved that book and cried at the movie (I was 9 at the time.) I was a rather dramatic child. I fell in love with Neil Diamond after the movie, but we're divorced now.

3. When my mother taught me the facts of life, I got a bit confused and thought that to make babies, men peed on women. Then I told my friend next door. Who told her older brother. Who told her I was wrong. And I told her that her BROTHER was wrong.

I was wrong.

4. In high school, my bad friend Lynda and I wrought havoc in the school library. First, we left a banana on a remote bookshelf to see how long it would take a librarian to notice. The last time we checked, in 1982, it was black and rotten. For all I know, it's still there.

And when no one was looking, we also rearranged the letters on the library notice board to say rude and outrageous things.


5. When our dog chewed the the legs off my Skipper doll, I put her in a little wooden domino box, pretended she was paraplegic, and said the box was her wheelchair. I spent a LOT of time playing with Barbies. But I also spent a LOT of time playing with Tonka Toys, Hot Wheels, and Dinky Cars! I was an only child, so my Dad did all the "boy" things with me: baseball, laying with Lego, learning to use a hammer and nail...


6. I know how to change an I.V. bag. I know this because Gordon got typhoid fever during our trip to Cambodia and Vietnam in 2004. I found a US-trained Cambodian doctor, who came to our hotel room in Phnom Penh. He hooked up the I.V., then told me I had to put a new bag on when the first one emptied (Gordon was dehydrated.) I managed this successfully, but while I was out of the hotel room for a bit, Gordon dragged his sorry ass to the bathroom and got a kink or bubble in the I.V. tube (the details escape me now!), because he didn't hold the bag up high enough. I couldn't get the thing flowing again and feared the air bubble would travel through his bloodstream and make his brain explode, so I took the I.V. out. He survived. 
He also learned a valuable lesson about checking  how long a typhoid fever vaccine is good for BEFORE you travel to a typhoid fever zone. Apparently seven years is too long between typhoid vaccines.
After we got home, I bought him one of these.

7. I learned to drive on a Mercedes 240D sedan and a red Triumph Spitfire. My nutjob of a mother was married to my nutjob of a stepfather at the time, and he liked cars. My favourite was the Spitfire convertible. I also took driving lessons from Young Drivers of Canada (which I think taught me fantastically well; they teach defensive driving) and my instructor had a Dodge Omni, which is what I took my test on in 1980. I learned to drive on a standard transmission, and I still drive a stickshift. I can't stand driving a car with automatic. When Gordon and I bought our first car, I made him go out and take lessons to learn to drive standard, because I refused to buy a car with automatic transmission. He is now glad he learned to drive stick!


Right, now I nominate these 15 bloggers for the Stylish Blogger award:
Go forth and multiply. Or something!

Friday, February 25, 2011

More feathered friends...and a furred one.

Continued from yesterday, more pictures from the birdfeeder!


That cute little White-breasted Nuthatch again!

Stealth Bluejay.

Woodpeckers LOVE suet!

 Cutie Downy Woodpecker


Redpoll niger-seed party. Apparently all common Redpolls, not the elusive Hoary! Click here for good tips on figuring out whether you're looking at Common Redpolls or Hoary ones. And here's a Charter Index for Redpoll identification. And here's a great picture of a Hoary and Common Redpoll party. Thanks, Happy Wombat Boy, for these great links. Hoary Redpolls are friggin' complicated.

Redpoll cage fight. Okay, not quite.

 "Why did you have to buy that squirrel-proof feeder? WHY?"

Nuthatch again.

We get a good variety of birds here, since we are surrounded by fields and also deciduous and coniferous forests. Plus we have a creek and we back onto the Beaudette River, and the bigger St. Lawrence River is just south of us. We are on a migratory bird flightpath and get snowbirds passing through. The farm across the street from us is a migratory bird sanctuary with many beautiful ponds. Last year I saw green herons, bitterns and a cormorant over there! 

I feed the birds year-round with good-quality seed from the Ritchie Feed Mill off Innes Road in Ottawa. We buy their "gourmet mix" (only the best for these birds!) and I think it's worth it. There's no filler junk seed in the mix, and the birds eat everything. 

I also have a birdbath with a water heater in winter. Birds really appreciate easy access to water in the cold months, especially around here where any liquid is frozen for most of the season.

The niger feeder is great for attracting goldfinches, redpolls and any other birds that like that tasty, expensive seed.

The snowstorm we were supposed to get moved south and so only the north edge is hitting us. 2 cm of snow instead of 20 cm. I'm bummed, because our friends are coming over to cross-country ski with us tomorrow, and the snow right now is icy and crappy for that.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Feathered friends

On Tuesday, I took 253 bird (and squirrel) photos out my office window. Lordy, I do love digital cameras. On our ten-week 1993 honeymoon in southeast Asia, I remember taking ten rolls of slide film for my Pentax K1000 SLR (fully manual, remember those?), and carefully rationing it to make every photo count. Nowadays I can just blow off 1,000 photos and it costs me nothing! So you're going to get a lot of bird pictures today, and maybe tomorrow.

I used to post quite a lot of bird photos back in 2006 - 2007, when we lived on a lake in Quebec for a year and had the most amazing array of birdlife I have ever seen in my garden. I've slacked off over the last little while, but seeing the nice bird photos my friend Ronna has been taking with her new Nikon inspired me to grab MY Nikon and start shootin'. Here ya go...

Bluejay playing peekaboo!

 A demure red squirrel.

 Male Downy Woodpecker. They LOVE suet!

 Pretty American Goldfinch sitting in the sun. In the winter, the boys lose their bright yellow plumage and turn a sort of olive colour.

Goldfinch checking out the seed on the ground from a tall perch.

A cute little Dark-eyed Junco.

 And the Common Redpoll! They love niger seed and arrive in flocks to chow down.

 The top Redpoll was reluctant to share the suet feeder!

And a pack o' Redpolls on the niger feeder.

A Tree Sparrow taking a piece of corn.

A dear little Red-breasted Nuthatch...

 ...and the larger White-breasted Nuthatch.

I am very fond of nuthatches, and in the past have gotten them to eat from my hands. They run up and down tree trunks in every direction looking for food in the bark. Unlike the woodpeckers, the nuthatches can go down the tree headfirst.

And here's a Red-breasted Nuthatch hanging with the male Downy Woodpecker.

More birds tomorrow. And snow, apparently. There's a storm coming and we may get up to 25cm (10") of snow. This is great, because our friends are coming over Saturday to cross-country ski, and right now the snow surface is too icy and crappy for good skiing. I predict a snow day for Gordon tomorrow but we'll see!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Inter-species Peace Treaty

Now, the esteemed Mr. Fluffy, aka Julius, (Sir Fluffybutt to you mere mortals) has strong opinions about dogs. They are filth. They are lesser beings. They are not worthy of attention, unless they come too close the claws of death, in which case Julius thinks that dogs are worthy of having their fleshy muzzles shredded (a lesson Sophie was slow to learn.) 

And while he and Sophie still hiss and growl at each other regularly, (but without contact or bloodshed) Mr. Fluffy seems to have reached a certain peace with Tristan. This is probably because Mr. Tristan is not terribly interested in cats, except for occasionally wishing to get up close and personal with the dog-nose to cat-butt contact! Tristan is quite tolerant of the felines that rule the household. 

Mr. Fluffy gave Tristan attitude a few times in the early days of their relationship, which only increased the T-Man's respect for this ten-pound ball of fur, fang and claw. But nowadays Julius will run nonchalantly over a reclining Tristan's front paws, and the big lug doesn't even raise an eyebrow!

Occasionally I find these two hanging out together, if avoiding actual physical contact. Both Julius and Tristan are seriously addicted to sunbathing. In winter, the piano room gets a bit of hot sun every day, but the patch of illumination is not very big, and it's a struggle for the pets to share it. I walked in the room yesterday morning and discovered this scenario:

 It almost looks as if Tristan is worshipping at the altar of the Great Sun Cat, not to mention wishing he could get up on that loveseat (once he even succeeded!)

Tragically, yesterday he was forced to remain on the floor... still, a boy can dream!


Three words: PETS ARE WEIRD!

We clearly need more sunlight in here. A nice conservatory would help.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Birds vs. cats: which are smarter? Discuss!

"Wow, man. Look at all this free seed! Right on!"*

(*This little chickadee is clearly a child of the 60s.)

 "What the... who the hell are YOU?"

"I. Am. DEATH! DEATH!! You succulent little morsel! Come to me!!!"

"Er, Naomi, don't forget your handsome boyfriend. It's considered romantic to share the kill!"

 "Are you still here, Fish-breath? Because I've figured out the window concept, and DUH, you're no threat!"

"I. Am. DEATH! DEATH!! DEATH!!!I will use my super-kitty powers to fly through this glass and DEVOUR YOU!"
"Blah blah, whatever. Are all cats this stupid?"
 Rhetorical question!

Here's a short video of the fun...


Monday, February 21, 2011

Meyer Lemon Scones and "Count the Pets!"

Somehow, I found Meyer lemons for sale at a supermarket in Cornwall, ON. I still can't get over it. At any rate, I bought a bag and looked for a recipe. I found a tasty one for Meyer Lemon Scones at Farmgirl Fare.
MMMMMmmmmmm! I love scones.

The recipe made eight scrumptious triangles, but we've been cutting them in half as they are HUGE.

Meanwhile, back in my office, every single pet but the gecko (who turns 18 this spring!) was hanging out. Can you find all five?
Let me just reiterate, for the thousandth time, how much I loathe that wallpaper. Eventually it will be burned. Right now I am just finishing up stripping the wallpaper in the upstairs bathroom. It's not easy, because most of the walls that were papered over in this century home (fortunately not EVERY room!) are the original plaster, and it's all damaged. Every time I take on a wallpaper stripping project, we have to budget for the subsequent wall repair (which is beyond my meager plastering capabilities!) 

The only saving grace is that so far, I've only found a max of two layers of wallpaper on a wall. I've heard of some old houses with ten layers!

But anyway, enough ranting about wallpaper. How many pets do you see? (Sorry, the office was a bit of a mess at the time!)

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Yer still the one..

A whole lotta love going on around here! Enjoy my latest video involving music, pets and farm animals.

And don't worry about Sophie chasing chickens. She occasionally thinks it's her job to herd them, but they are used to her and she never lays a paw on them!

And if you need another video, this one from October 2009 is still one of my favs...

Friday, February 18, 2011

Art Fayre 2011 blog

I have put together a blog for our Art Fayre show this year (June 11 & 12, 2011 at the Glengarry Pioneer Museum in Dunvegan, Ontario.) Please visit it, bookmark it, and share it with your friends! We will feature artist profiles and regular updates in the weeks and months leading up to our show. If you're within driving distance, mark your calendar and come see (and buy!) our art in person.

Check it out (the link is working now; it was screwed up yesterday!)

The Glengarry Pioneer Museum is an hour east of Ottawa, an hour west of Montréal, and about 45 minutes north of the New York state border crossing at Massena.

And if anyone out there has ideas on how I can further publicize our show, especially on the web, let me know!

Here's a gorgeous watercolour by local artist Fran Bailey. You can read more about her here.