Sunday, June 29, 2008

Sunny Clover

Clover has a beautiful, beautiful perfume. Favored by bees, hummingbirds, and bunnies alike, we've been really blessed with a HUGE proliferation of clover growing in our background. You just have to step on the back deck and you can catch the lovely scent on the breeze - it's just delicious!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Baby Boy as a ... well, baby!

I've been sorting through my old photo CDs, trying to purge out the pics that are out of focus or duplicates, and reburn them on a couple DVDs. WAY easier to keep track of stuff that way, instead of the huge pile of CDs I currently have. It's hard though, trying to come up with a good organizational structure for the files - I'll just have to pick one and go with it, and not change half-way. :)

While going through all these pics, I found this great one from 2003, when Baby Boy had only been with us about 5 months or so. He had been SUCH a hard case when we first captured him - a VERY feral kitten, he scratched and bit us a lot till he finally gave himself over to the domestic life he was destined for. Once he gave himself over, he REALLY gave himself over. Totally and completely. Aside from occasionally getting startled, he is still the more relaxed cat I have ever seen. And here, you can really see that. He tucked himself in to Dave's side, and ended up under Dave's arm. And then he passed right out. What a goofy kitten!

Prom Night Time Again

I LOVE prom night - you can spot the kids here and there, usually around the Superstore, collecting their corsages or last minute snacks. The girls look so elegant in their gowns, and the boys so handsome in their tuxes - crossing the threshold into post-high school life, and adulthood. I just want to pinch their little cheeks! :)

Last night, teens were meeting in the Superstore parking lot, but there seemed to be more of them than usual. And then more. And more! And THEN, a huge red double-decker bus, the sort that are common in Britain, drove up. Now, it all made sense! All the kids got on, pictures were taken, and off they went to the prom - very cool! Great idea!

So congrats to the Class of '08 - have a ton of fun!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Porters Lake Fire Update: One Week On

Well, it looks like our big fire will have cost about $750,000. Eep. (CBC) And that's just the cost of fighting the fire. No word on how much it cost in business (having that main highway closed for several days, businesses without power, people not going to work, etc. etc.) The latest news is that a forestry worker said on Friday afternoon he saw a woman on an ATV trail (that's All Terrain Vehicle, for those who live in non-ATV places) in Lake Echo (right next to Porters Lake), trying desperately with a small bucket, to put out a fire that had already spread far beyond her tiny bucket's ability to cope. He called 911 and left, just as a dude on an ATV showed up with some hamburger buns on the back of his vehicle.

(Don't get me started on ATVs. Just don't.)

But, in any case, this was one of those "unofficial" trails (aren't most of them?) and it's way back in the woods, and someone decided to have a campfire. It was really, really stupid. This was one of the windiest days of the year. Like, it was creepy windy, getting up to huge gusts that were hard to walk against. NOT the time for a BBQ in an open pit in dry woods. I understand that fire can get out of control FAST, way faster than you might imagine, but C'MON! I feel bad for them, because the guilt must be horrible. (If it's true - which we don't know yet, they have to investigate further). It was just a really stupid mistake.

God grant that our stupid mistakes don't have such consequences. Amen.

A local DJ is hosting a party (and providing entertainment) for all the volunteers (firefighter and otherwise) who helped fight the blaze and care for the evacuees, at the Lake Echo Community Centre on June 27th. The note advertising this event says it's a potluck, so to call Dude (I forget his real name) and tell him what you're bringing. You're having a party on a Friday night (6pm - 1am) after a horribly stressful event that everyone needs to get rid of their excess nervous energy from, and you want everyone coming to CALL you? Last I heard, the rumour (there's that word again) is that over 6,000 people plan to attend. :D I think this is going to be a little bigger than Dude thought. Everyone wants to thank these people, and everyone wants to have a good time.

We'll see how it all goes! And I'll keep you posted on the cause of the fire, if it's true cause is ever discovered.

Friday, June 20, 2008

BeanDreams: Herbal Update

When they said parsley was a slow starter, they REALLY meant it! Even though I simulated winter and soaked the seeds before planting, it still took a couple weeks for them to sprout. They're here, finally, though!

And you can tell the oregano and catnip don't like the coolish weather we've been having. They sprouted, and pretty much stayed that way - not many true leaves showing up on these little seedlings yet.

Guess which plants were said to be cold-weather lovers, and could be planted early in spring? The kohlrabi and the bachelor's buttons - they're just growing like freakin' crazy! They love this weather!

Looks like some spiders have hatched nearby - little babies here are spinning webs in between the plant pots. It's amazing they're SO small, and still have enough brainpower to be able to create the beautiful webs spiders are known for. Amazing.

Hopefully with the coming of warmer weather, the herbs will grow more! :)

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Lakes as Mine Dump Sites

WHAT?????!!!!! Big news on the CBC today, 16 lakes here in Canada are slated to be turned into places where mines dump their toxic tailings. It's being done quietly, getting around laws that protect fish-bearing lakes. How horrible!!!!

Read the whole story here.

Terribly disturbing news, hopefully now that the word's out, the outrage will prevent this from occurring. Considering this is CANADA, which is known internationally for our beautiful lakes, streams, and forests, we really can't be doing such things!!!

Monday, June 16, 2008

New Ruralish Life/Simple Living Merchandise!

I've created a new line of merchandise celebrating living the simple life! My designs reflect these values - from buying locally to support local farmers and reduce gas use, to minimizing consumerism and living more simply and self-sufficiently, I've got the perfect designs to help spread the word about the lifestyle you love!

More designs coming soon! I'll keep you posted here!

Rough Winds and Fire

Rough winds may shake the darling buds of May, but in June, they tear the crap out of new leaves! Our poor trees! The leaves are really torn up, and they just came out! Hopefully the trees will be able to get enough nutrients still...

At least the winds have finally died down, and the weather's turned dampish, if not outright wet, so they're allowing evacuated families to return to their homes. We had another power outage last night for a few hours, but otherwise nothing new happened for us (thank God!).

One thing that amazed me during this whole thing was the Rumor Mill. It was INSANE!! The rumors were flying fast, furious and out of control! Every hour, talking to people, you'd hear of some new street evacuation, or that the power was going to be shut off for safety reasons in a couple of hours, and on and on and on! It was really nuts! Especially considering none of it was true! At least the Chronicle-Herald was good about keeping people up to date (if they had Internet access) - so if you could get there, you could see a running list of current evacuation notices. And NO power shutdowns listed. :)

Hopefully soon they will be able to re-open the highway to the city - right now a normally 20 minute drive takes an hour or so. Glad I don't have to go to the city today! :)

Now that things are settling down, talk is starting to turn to what actually caused this fire in the first place. I assumed it was some careless homeowner doing a "controlled" burn of his yard on a WAY too windy day, but now there is a RUMOR (there it is again) that it started behind an elementary school, leading some to believe that it was started by some kids. But, ONLY TIME WILL TELL. It'll be interesting to see, for sure. There was a lot of inconvenienced people, money lost for stores and other businesses (shippers couldn't use the highway, power outages, etc.), and property damage and loss. Not to mention the stress!

Glad it's all (seemingly) coming to a close. :)

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Crazy Fire here in Porters Lake

I know it's not as big as the fires you get in California in the summertime, but it's been huge news in our area, even getting national coverage. There's been really high winds, which are only making matters worse, and the whole area was clobbered by Hurricane Juan several years ago, and there's still deadwood around that's really helping fuel the fire. Areas have been evacuated. Power was out yesterday, and even today in some areas. The fire is still "out of control". Scary stuff.

So far, aside from the power outage yesterday, we've been okay. We've gotten all of our stuff together - photos and computer stuff in a knapsack, pet food, pet carriers, etc. in case we need to evacuate quickly. Ever since Juan and our 5 day power outage that totally scarred us for life, we've been at a low-level prepared-ness for a repeat. :) We have our charcoal bbq to boil water and cook food (which we didn't have last time - we had to cook stuff on a tin ketchup tin heated by tealights - over 5 or 6 hours - oy). We always have bottled water on hand, because our well is not drinkable. Candles on both levels in most rooms, with matches in set locations that are easy to find in the dark, emergency flashlights up and down stairs, etc. etc.

Here's some of the pics of the fire clouds I took.

This is the sky in the opposite direction of the fire, so you can see how nice a day it was otherwise:

This is what it looked like, looking down my street:

Walking down the highway, I was able to get these pics:

And these were from my backyard deck:

Check out the secondary cloud that the fire cloud is trying to pop out of - that other cloud looks like a misty tarp. :)

What do you do, when you have no power, and it's summertime? BBQ, of course! Sausages and stir fry on tinfoil - that's good (power outage) eatin'!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Witherspoon Tries Tea Ceremony

Looks like Reese Witherspoon is trying her best, but having some difficulties with the subtleties of traditional Japanese tea ceremony. Pretty funny. :)

Read more about it on Reuters (look under Pictures Results).

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Unusual Flower (I thought it was wheat)

This little flower caught my eye as I was emptying my kitchen compost into our large city collection bin. I've seen it before, and I thought it was wheat, but as I looked more closely, I saw some beautiful little yellow flowers inside the beautiful dark brown, wheat-like "oats" at the top of the grass. So, I suppose it isn't grass at all! :)

It's only about 3" to 4" high - so it pays to bend down occasionally and see if you can find some hard-to-notice, but still beautiful, wildflowers!

Saturday, June 07, 2008

BeanDreams: First Harvest

Yesterday, I harvested some of the bok choi and one of my daikon radish.

As I mentioned before, this is a petite variety of bok choi, so the leaves don't get much bigger than this. The stocks are nice and crisp, though!

As with last year, my daikons are pretty small. Okay, they're TINY. Japan has worked at breeding larger and larger daikons, but I don't know that you can get those seeds around here. :) So, she's pretty small, but tasty, I'm sure!

I did them up in a stir fry last night, and they were delicious!

The oregano and catnip finally look like they're getting started! I'd love to know for sure which was which, but I'm sure it'll become more obvious over time. :D As you can see from the photos, the leaves are only about 1 mm long - really micro!

There's a couple of sprouts in my parsley container, but I'm not sure if they're parsley or weeds. Again time will tell! :)

All in all, it's been great to have a taste from the garden already - nothing beats REALLY fresh! :D

Friday, June 06, 2008

Apple Blossoms, Part 3

The blossoming continues. Look at that gorgeous blue sky!! Sets off the delicate pinks of the apple blossoms so beautifully.

While I was out taking these pics, I saw the first damselfly of the season - woohoo! They eat those blood-sucking blackflies that have already started swarming and making outdoor trips unpleasant. I can hear other damselfly wings buzzing in the back field, too. So glad they've arrived on the scene. :)

Summer Fun: Spicy Toasted Hot Dog Buns Recipe

This was one of the first recipes I successfully reproduced as a kid. It was from a giant cookbook collection (I think from McCalls?), that my mom likely got as a wedding present. They had one whole volume dedicated to recipes kids could try, and this one caught my eye right away when I was little.

I've loved it ever since then, and have made it throughout my life. It's a fun alternative to the traditional triad of mustard, ketchup and relish toppings.

Note: We didn't have chili sauce in the house growing up, so I got used to them without it.

Spicy Toasted Hot Dog Buns
Serves 4

4 hot dog buns
2 tbsp softened butter or margarine
1/4 tsp dry mustard
1/4 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp minced or grated onion
4 hot dogs
1 tsp canola or other oil, for frying the hot dogs
1/4 cup chili sauce (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 deg. F. Mix the margarine/butter, parsley, and onion together with a spoon until it is soft and creamy. Open up the hot dog buns, spread the inside of each bun with the mix. Place the buns in pie plate and bake for 15 minutes. While rolls are baking, cook the hot dogs in greased skillet over low heat. Place hotdog in each roll and top with 1 tbsp of chili sauce and serve piping hot.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Evening Sun Dances by Dandelion

Dandelions can be so pretty, especially when highlighted by the setting sun... :)

Spring Frog Sounds

Spring Peepers

It's pretty quiet (my little mp3 player doesn't have a loud mike), but if you crank your speakers, you can hear what it sounds like outside my home in the springtime at night. The male spring frogs peep all night, in an attempt to attract a mate. I don't know the specific breed name of the frogs in questions, but there are more than one swamp areas locally, and the frogs live in all of them, so they're doing okay for themselves.

The sound is actually rather soothing. :)

But don't forget to TURN YOUR SPEAKERS DOWN again after listening! ;)

EDIT: And in an example of science accurately naming something for what it is, I discovered that this frog is actually called...get ready for it...

The Northern Spring Peeper.

There you have it. :)

Learn more about this peeping frog here.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Apple Blossoms, Part 2

Remember a couple of days ago, the photo looking up the apple tree branch, where the flowers were all in bud? Well, it's starting to bloom! :D

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

BeanDreams - the Coldening

Its like the Reckoning, but Cold. :)

Just after I planted all my containers, we were hit with a bad cold snap. Worried I had rotted out my seeds by choosing a bad time to plant, I replanted my Bachelor's Buttons and Kohlrabi, as they are the most cold-hardy. It was a warm day, and within 24 - 48 hours, both had sprouted (including, I think, some of the ones I thought had rotted out). In any case, I've got a lovely bit of growth happening, helped by the recent warmer temps.

This is the container.

Highlighted in the photo below are the kohlrabi. They have a reddish tinge, and the first leaves are double leaves.

Highlighted below are the Bachelor's Buttons. They are light green, with single leaves.

I'm pretty excited to get this next round of growing started! My bok choi is just about ready for harvest, which is wonderful. Wish I had planted more, but I've just been too busy with my new job. Once I start harvesting, I will be doing another planting.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Photo Journal: Spring, Eastern Shore, Nova Scotia

A foggy but bright morning, perfect for taking floral shots - lots of great ambient light, no shadows.

The apple trees in the back field (likely planted over a century ago in a failed attempt to get this swampland converted to a farm) are just starting to blossom. So fresh looking with the morning dew and fog still resting on their leaves and petals.

And speaking of fog and mist, check out this delicate mist-encased spider web, spun close to the ground in a low bush.

These lovely little star flowers bloom every spring - they're tiny, only as big as the first knuckle on my pinky finger, but they're very noticeable amongst the masses of green leaves they bloom against.

And, heralding a delicious summer to come, Nova Scotia's official berry, the blueberry. Delicate little bell-like flowers will become a yummy treat in a couple months!

The sun's burning off the fog as we speak, so it should be a lovely afternoon.

Addendum, 4:30 pm: after the fog burned off, cloud moved in! Bleargh! But there's been some sunny breaks, fortunately. :)

Got some more shots of the beautiful forget-me-nots that grow wild around here. The buds are purple, and the flowers open pink or purple, then turn that lovely blue.

And, through our dirty kitchen window (gotta get some Windex goin' on that), we got that cute little girl squirrel, with the distinctive light markings around her nose and eyes, that really make her look special. Cute!