Sunday, September 30, 2007

The End of an Autumn Day, with a Wild Kitty

I'm lying on my side, in the cold grass of early fall - wondering how a modern girl like me ended up trying to communicate with a stray cat through rudimentary body language.

Every night, I set out cat food for our newest stray, the almost all-black cat temporarily named "Pretty Kitty" (as that's what he seems to respond to). I was a little late tonight, and he ended up at the bottom of the deck stairs, staring up with a most impatient look in his eyes. I take it he's comfortable getting food from us, at the very least. He did his traditional *mew mew HISS mew*, and ran off to a safe distance to watch and wait while I refilled his bowl. Tonight I thought I'd try to get a little closer to him.

I sat down on the ground near the food. He thought about coming closer, but thought better of it. The wind was sharp: the sky - darkening. The sun had already set. The ground still holds a touch of summer warmth, but the grass is cold. The detritus of the regular bird flocks we get at our feeder lies around me (feathers, seed shells, and - well, if you've seen statues in cities, you know what else birds leave behind).

After a few minutes, I thought I'd try doing what he does to me: lying over on my side to show I'm not a threat. I lay on my side, but couldn't help but laugh a little. He looked at me, rather puzzled. I felt like a pretty big tool at that point. I lay there for a few minutes, then sat up, hoping he got the point.

By this time, I've been there long enough that the birds figure the coast is clear, and show up looking for a final snack before bedtime. About 10 - 12 birds, mostly grey juncoes, appear in the trees and tall weeds nearby. Fortunately, the cat shows nothing more than a passing interest in them. It feels strange to see the birds so very close - and them not noticing me at all. I get to hear the soft peeps they use to communicate with each other, to see the scrap between siblings who both want the same spot on the feeder. I'm just a few feet away from a sparrow hopping about in the tall weeds. It's so quiet - I feel like I'm intruding on a quiet evening ritual, but blessed to be able to witness it nonetheless.

"Pretty Kitty" starts to blink (a friendly gesture we both share back and forth) - but stretches them out longer and longer. It looks like he's getting comfortable and sleepy, and not likely to come closer this night. So I leave, vowing to try again. He can't avoid me forever, no more than any of the other feral cats we've captured, tamed, & made part of our family were able to.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Nodding in the Rain

We had a beautiful autumn mega-rain today, coming down in torrents - it's a great warm-up for the blustery weather to come. You get all the "oooh, scary" of a storm, but it's still warm and green outside.

After the rain, I went outdoors for a minute and got some shots of my beautiful Russian Sunflowers - they've got lovely big faces, and should provide a lot of sustenance for the little birds out there come winter.

I love raindrops on flowers!

24 Hour Sale Begins

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Well, just help yourself, then!

This blurry surveillance photo, taken just last night, shows a raccoon BRAZENLY STEALING cat food from a dish outside. In daylight! And ENJOYING it! You should have seen his weirdly elongated fingers greedily grasping the tiny kibbles!

Silly 'coon...

But why, Ann, (you may ask) do you leave catfood outside, if not for the raccoons?

Well, it's a funny thing...a few weeks after Peepers was captured, brought inside and tamed (I'll be posting an update soon, detailing his terrific progress)...we started to see this little guy around:

FOR SURE, as per Dave's theory, we have cat hobo signs out back in the woods somewhere..."Free grub, lots of pet-ums - you get fixed, that's not as fun, but otherwise a wonderful establishment".

This new black cat is definitely feral, as he hisses if you get too close. He also seems pretty young, as when he's not hissing, he's meowing plaintively.

*mew mew hiss mew*

So he's a little confused about humans still. He must have been around people at some point, though, because while talking to him, he wouldn't look up unless you said "pretty kitty", at which point he'd look at you.

We're trying to laugh about it, but our hearts ache for this little abandoned kitten, who looks to be around the same age as Peepers (his brother perhaps? He's got an identical splash of white on his chest), but obviously had a much harder time of it than Peepers did.

This new guy is a real beauty though - such a beautiful rich black - and looks pretty healthy - he ate at first like a starving cat, but he seems "caught up" now, and eats a reasonable amount slowly now. And look at the pic - we've got enough trust going with him that we've earned the "tail tip curl" of happiness/relaxation. It used to be straight out, stiff as a board and very tense. (Want to learn what your own kitty is saying with his tail? Check out Kitty Angels for a bunch of cat body language signals.) And for the last couple of days, he's taken to flopping over on his side, which I hear is a signal to me that he doesn't pose any threat - poor little guy, I knew that already!

I'll keep y'all posted on this new, furry black development.


A fresh look to for fall!

I made the navigation easier to follow by making titled groupings in the sidebar. Let me know what you think!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

BeanDreams 2007 wraps up

My veggie growing adventures are over for another year! It was an early end, as I grew short season crops - turned out pretty well! I would certainly grow all of the crops I grew this year again - each one to a greater or lesser extent. :)

Read all about it in the wrap-up!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Parity, part deux

I've been complaining about books and mags, this article takes it one step further to point out that there are tons of products with price disparity that are making some people very rich while the rest of us...well...

From Hamburger Helper to books - the price gap is annoying! And expensive!

CBC: Canadians should clamour for lower prices: analyst.

24 Hour Sale Begins!

Thursday, September 20, 2007


That is a word we have not heard in almost 30 years here in Canada - it's pretty exciting! Our dollar is now virtually on par with the American dollar.

I was at a bookstore with a friend yesterday, and I accidentally almost discouraged her from buying a book she wanted, when I pointed out how annoying it was to still have to be paying the Canadian list price on the back of the book, since our dollar was virtually on par with the American one. We're not the only ones discouraged and annoyed - a lot of people have been complaining, and I understand that publishers will be addressing this soon. It's a pain in the butt! I know they can't reprint all those book covers, but surely something can be done - there's no longer (at least for now) a reason for us to pay a $4-$6 higher price for books.

If I find an online petition or some such thing, I'll let you all know! :)

Otherwise, yay parity!

EDIT: I heard on the news tonight that the "great plan" publishers have come up with is to stop printing the American price on the back of book and mags, so we Canadians don't know how much more we're paying. Disgraceful.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

In a math textbook? Me?!

Don't ask me how this happened, it's one of those queer twists of fate. I am not good at math. Not at all. I can't add even semi-large numbers in my head, and don't even talk to me about multiplication. The only math I've really "gotten" are the subtleties of geometry, angles, and three-dimensional visualization that has been so very handy in my art forms.

So I guess that's why one of my (three dimensional) pysanka designs will be featured in a new math textbook to be used in Canada next year (see the series here, on the McGraw-Hill Ryerson site).

How cool is that? I'm smilin'!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Lefties are making a comeback!

As a proud left-hander myself, I was most interested to read this article in the Sunday Times today - the number of left-handed people has risen steadily over the last hundred years, as we see a huge reduction in the number of natural lefties being forced at school and at home (sometimes with their hand tied behind their backs) to write with their unnatural, right, hand. I really can't fathom the amount of brain-wiring confusion caused by forcing someone to write with their wrong hand. I just see it as such a wasted effort, when that effort could be put to much better use helping the person to expand on the natural gifts of left-handers (so called "right-brained" people), such as art.

Very interesting article, be sure to check it out.

Friday, September 14, 2007

24 Hour Sale Begins

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Got a tiny dog? Here's a quick, fantastic outfit for them!

Found this featured, purveyor of everything awesomely cute on the Internet. It's a fantastic Yorkie outfit made simply and quickly out of an argyle sock!

Perfect for everyday wear - but keep in mind that Hallowe'en is coming up! Find a funky sock, and you're on your way!

Great work, Seth Prandini!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Madeleine L'Engle

Madeleine L'Engle died on Friday, at age 88.

I really loved her books when I was a kid. I don't know how many times I read A Wrinkle in Time - dozens, I'm sure. I had never read a science fiction book before (although I had watched lots of such stories on TV), and I was fascinated with the strange worlds and exotic mathematical concepts she explored - for someone like me who's always had trouble with math, this was good! I learned that math could be more than just boring multiplication tables. To boot, L'Engle had a fluid writing style, and the story was engaging - a young insecure girl finds the courage within herself to search for her missing father. Only, he's not missing on Earth...

I read and enjoyed two of the three followup books, A Wind in the Door and A Swiftly Tilting Planet, a few times. I liked seeing the characters change and grow (and of course, all the funky new science concepts), but I still feel that Wrinkle was the best.

So, I take a moment to pause and reflect on Ms. L'Engle's life, and thank her for her contribution to my own life, and the lives of so many others out there.

Friday, September 07, 2007

OMG - But Can I LIVE with what I know...?

I just found out...brace yourself...that my beloved "Fairy Fly", is, in actuality...

An Aphid.

A stinking, flying woolly aphid. An actual PEST...

An aphid! My sworn enemy, second only to slugs as a destructive force in my garden - "farmed" by ants, aphids suck the very life essence from my plants.

I wrote to the "What is this pest" photo identification page (I'm #1467), where specialist volunteers and others identify photos of bugs people send in. Their mega-contributor, retired
entomologist Ed Saugstad, id'd this bug for me. (The site is really awesome, by the way - people from all over send in pics of pests and bugs and such they see around, but don't know what they are).

But now that I know...can I live with it?

I think I'll still call them "fairy flies"...


24 Hour Sale Begins!

Monday, September 03, 2007


I apologize for all the downtime lately - something is seriously wrong at Powweb, my service provider. All of their sites are down (forums, blogs, mainsite) and that extends to the sites they host, which mean most of my blog photos are missing, and & my gift shop ( are down completely.

I have no idea what the problem is, as there's no notes posted anywhere for web site owners like me to find out what's going on...hopefully things will be back to normal soon - I first checked at 10 am ADT this morning - they've been down at least since then.

I'll keep you posted!

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Tonight, I'm revisiting some happy childhood memories. Saturday nights were always baked beans and fried bologna night at our house. I didn't find out until later that Saturday is the traditional night for Maritimers to serve baked beans - I was part of something more widespread than our little household).

I can vividly recall the sounds and smells of dinner cooking - the burble-burble of the beans simmering in the pot, the sizzle of the bologna in the frying pan. To wrap up the evening, I'd rush through taking a bath, so I wouldn't miss the beginning of Wayne and Shuster. was pretty simple back then.

But, back to the present: Dave's mom bought a big round of bologna, and said I could take what I wanted of it. I went out and picked up some beans to go with them, and tonight, I will have a traditional "bean night" dinner. :)

If you want to be REALLY traditional, however, you can make your own baked beans from scratch. Following is a pretty good recipe, from the Thompson's white pea beans bag. (note: Pea beans are just another name for navy beans - it took me a while wandering around the bean aisle in vain before I asked an employee, who told me this little informational tidbit). :)

This recipe requires an OVERNIGHT SOAKING and an ALL DAY BAKING! Plan ahead.


Thompson's Old Fashioned Baked Beans
Serves 8
2 cups pea/navy beans
5 cups cold water
1 medium onion, sliced
1/2 tb salt
2 tsp cider vinegar
1 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp prepared mustard
1/4 cup molasses
1/2 cup tomato ketchup (they recommend no salt added ketchup)
pinch of black pepper
1/4 lb pork or bacon, sliced (they recommend low salt bacon/pork bellies or lean pork)

Sort and rinse beans. Soak beans overnight in cold water. Drain. Add 5 cups cold water, cover, heat to boiling, then simmer 30 minutes or until nearly tender. Drain.
Place onion slices on bottom of 6 cup flameproof casserole dish. Add remaining 7 ingredients in with the beans, stirring gently to combine, then pour entire mixture into casserole dish.

Add enough water to cover mixture, then place sliced lean pork on top. Cover with lid and bake in oven at 250 deg F for 7 hours.

When beans are tender, remove 1 cup of beans, mash, then stir back into pot carefully. Cover and continue to bake. Add water as needed to keep beans covered. One hour before serving, remove cover to darken up the beans. Salt to taste.


Making your own beans is a bit of an art form. It's a difficult thing to ensure that your beans are not too firm, but not too mushy, either. And they can BURN, so for goodness sake, keep an eye on them - not the sort of thing you can put in the oven and forget about all day. They can be fiddly, but many people swear they're worth the effort!

I like them, myself, but unless it's a special occasion, I stick with the canned kind. :)