Wednesday, July 30, 2008

refreshingly simple

The cocktail hour has been missed.
I have to work later this evening so no sunset viewing, but there's no thunderstorm either.
Tonight, on my balcony, mini quiches and another refreshing drink (courtesy LCBO Food&Drink)

Lemon Grass Splash

Exotic garnishes add style and sophistication to any cocktail and are easy to find at your local grocery store. Lemon grass can be used as a stir stick, while imbuing your cocktail with its perfumed citrus essence.

1. Fill a Collins glass with ice.
2. Add 1 tsp fresh blueberries and 1½ oz gin, top with 5 oz lemonade.
3. Garnish with a lemon grass spear.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

palace soother

A refreshing drink on the balcony watching the sun set.
Feeling slightly calmer. Slightly less stressed.
Still worrying. Still feeling so *%$&! stupid.

I was so positive that my passport expired in October that I never bothered to check. So when I did and saw the date 1 Aug 08 ... well you can imagine the sinking feeling. The horror. The panic.

Today I drove down to St Catharines so I could get into a less busy passport office without having to endure too long a wait. That part worked very well. Before I even had a chance to sit down my number was called. But because I didn't have my plane tickets yet, they cannot expedite the process. There's always the chance it could be ready to be picked up by next Tuesday but they can only guarantee 10 days. That's 10 business days. We have a holiday next Monday. That puts it to Aug 13th. I fly out on the 14th. I can still work myself up into anxiety mode a little. Imagining all kinds of silly things that could go wrong. Like, I misspelled my name on the form. Or I put in a wrong number somewhere. Or they cannot contact either of my references ... silly, I know. My body is listening to the words of friends and the voices inside my head that vascillate from "don't worry, it'll all work out fine" to "omg, I would just be freaking the whole time". I will not completely relax until I have that little blue book in my hands.

In the meantime, I made one of these. Then another.

Palace Soother

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice.
Add 1 1/2 oz blended scotch,
2 oz each mango juice, passion fruit juice and orange juice
and shake sharply.
Strain into an old fashioned glass filled with ice and garnish with a fresh mango or orange slice.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Sunday, July 27, 2008

stress busters

I am having a stressful weekend. I don't do stressful very well. I suck at it, actually.

In days past, when other people would be stuffing ice cream or chocolate or whatever into them to ease their stress, I was the opposite. The mere thought of food added to my woes.

So when, exactly, did that change?

I was very, very good though, when I went out this morning to restock my pantry. I sprinted right past the chips aisle (crisps, to you Brits). I ignored the cookies (biscuits, but the more fattening ones). And managed to escape the frozen cheesecake. I came out with a small bag of salad fixins'. And some very calorific hummus dip. Okay, maybe I was just one very good.

My way of dealing with stress is usually first to ignore it. Completely. When that fails to work, I move on to avoidance. Diversions are always good for awhile. I thought of watching The Canadian Open, which just happens to be just a ways down the highway from me (about 15km). So that sudden downpour of TORRENTIAL RAIN we had in these parts yesterday, that was an added, interesting diversion. Lasted for about an hour and a half here and knocked down a few tree limbs. Fortuitously, not the ones above my car.

So, for the record, besides eating my junk food stock, those magazines that were piling up? Gone. The socks all have mates. And the dud light bulbs in the lamps that don't get turned on much because it is summer and therefore not dark? All pitched and replaced and ready to go. The desk is cleared of paper. And I found my stapler. Just in case I ever need to staple my fingers as punishment, self-flagellation, for my sin of IGNORING things. Until it is almost too late.

It's not too late, is it?

Just how long should it take to get a new passport these days anyway?

Friday, July 25, 2008

Name That Person

Hands up how many of you do not like your name? How many of you spent your childhood dreaming of a more suitable or romantic name? Or of a less silly or hard to pronounce name?

I am not old enough to remember the days when foreign born pupils would arrive at school and have a "Canadian" or "English" name bestowed on them from a list in the teacher's drawer but I do remember teachers, and some kids themselves, simply anglicizing some: Pavel, you are now Paul; Ruqqiya, we'll just call you Ricki; Krysia, you'll be Christine. Thankfully that doesn't happen anymore. Though a friend of mine, who teaches in Mississauga where there is a very large East Indian population, says it takes her months to learn some of her pupils' names due to the complexity of syllables and sounds and not having any English reference point for the names.

But that is altogether different than what some parents will do to come up with a unique name for their child which is seldom appreciated as much by the so named. Take Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii. Please, she begged, take it and just call me 'K'. The news report does not mention what her New Zealand parents names are. Quite possibly Ann & John.

Some names seem to garner far more ridicule than they deserve. I have no problem with Apple. It is a little odd (though Peaches [Geldof] is odder). Really, what is the difference between flower names and fruit names? Why is one more acceptable than the other? Soap operas were always good for geological names like River, Stone, Ridge, Brooke, Lake, Leigh, Sierra. And geographical names are now common: Montana, Dakota, Denver, Madison, Logan, Kingston. I rather like the sound of Alaska, though I doubt it would ever become a popular name.

I personally know a Sandy Beech and a Sandi Whyte-Beach (she is constantly having to give the correct order of the vowels). And I had a friend with the unfortunate moniker of Phyllis Diller. Her parents had never heard of the famous comedienne, and in fact she grew up without television so it was years before she fully comprehended just why so many people snickered when they heard her name.

The name I grew up with was very common in my day. There were four of us (boys and girls) on our block and seven others of us in my grade 7 home room in my first year of junior high. Later, I worked in an office where there were five of us out of a staff of 28 all with a variety of spellings.

I longed for an unusual name, but one of my own choosing. I loved baby name books and would collect names for myself, my imaginary friends, my unborn children, my pets. Some of them, I look back on now and wonder: what was I thinking? Did I really want to have a name beginning with 'Q'? And the obsession with Welsh and Gaelic names - especially since I later found out my pronunciation of some them was way off. A while ago I found an interesting site, a Baby Name Map, which I now share with you to find the popularity of names in your area of the world. Or someone elses area of the world. Choose wisely.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

White Chocolate Blueberry Bark

From Picard's. In Niagara.

Sorry can't talk now. Am in heaven.

Go on, have a piece. This is too good not to share.

Monopoly Money


exp 31 Dec/08

Collectors are buying up the 100 billion agro cheque (bank note) for $80 US on ebay.

for $100,000,000,000 a Zimbabwean can buy a loaf of bread
for $80 an American can buy a tank of gas.

In the Guardian, on 18 July 2008, a report on Zimbabwe's inflation, said that

  • an egg costs ZW$50 billion (GBP 0.17, USD 0.32)
  • adverts for prizes of Z$100 trillion in a Zimbabwean derby and ZW$1.2 quadrillion ($1,200,000,000,000,000.00: ~GBP 2,100; USD 4,200) in a lottery.
  • a monthly war pension currently is ZW$109 billion (GBP 0.37, USD 0.74)
  • shops can only cash cheques if the customer writes double the amount, because the cost will go up by the time the cheque has cleared
  • people can only withdraw a maximum of ZW$100 billion from cashpoints.

inflation rises so quickly that it is not unknown for 20 people standing line to buy the same item to pay three different prices.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

a not so busy day

Later today I have a mani pedi planned.
Nothing else, just that.

Oh, and maybe a coffee.

Am quite looking forward to it.

Am not sure how I'd handle this kind of treatment.

Looks kinda ticklish.

And a bit creepy.

Am wondering: do you tip the fish?

Monday, July 21, 2008


When I moved out of my parents home, for the final time, it was into a high rise building not far away. I'd never lived in an apartment before, and hadn't particulary wanted to be in a highrise of 22 storeys. Not with my fear of heights. But such was my desire to live away from the parental units that I took this apartment with a balcony that I swore I would never use. I was glad to be able to afford to live on my own and happily transferred all my meager belongings in the elevator up to the 20th floor. I was able to move everything in my father's Omni and my brother's station wagon. This was a long time ago, obviously! My friends all exclaimed about the wonderful view I had over the lake and of the sunrises and storm clouds and foliage changing I would see. I was glad I didn't need to buy curtains. Being so high up had at least that advantage. As I recall, I even had the energy to take my exercise on the stairs - though I'm not certain how many times I actually walked UP.

My first night, I plopped myself onto the bed, exhausted but slightly exhilerated about having my very own first apartment.

Then the fire alarm went off.

I hadn't considered that. Not entirely sure what was expected, should I stay put? go downstairs? and if so by stair or elevator? I thought, I'll just open the door and see what the neighbours are doing. They were doing nothing. The hall smelled a bit smokey. I decided on the stairs. Got to maybe the 16th floor when the smoke starting climbing up to meet me. Ran back up to the 20th floor and slammed my door behind me as if I was being followed. I remembered about wetting a towel and placing that at the bottom of the door to keep the smoke out. The fire alarm still blared. The trucks were screeching around the corner. Lights were flashing. The sky was dark with billowing smoke. I stepped outside onto that dreaded balcony and peered over the railing to see four fire vehicles, one ambulance, and flames reaching out through clouds of thick black smoke at an apartment way down to the left of me. I was so fascinated with watching the fire and the water hose and the trucks, I completely forgot about being scared of heights. Or of being scared of the fire.

Turns out it was contained to that one apartment. On the second floor. The one the previous tenants of my apartment had just moved into that morning before I moved in. A party with friends, a cigarette left to smoulder in the sofa.

I have been remembering this event of 28 years ago after seeing this article about an explosion at a highrise that has left 900 people homeless and a building possibly structurally unstable.

My old home.

This is Sunday's fire, nothing like what happened when I lived there.

Monday AMuse

Sunday, July 20, 2008

inspiration ... in appreciation

the weather for today
morning afternoon evening night

Well, what do you know ... it is RAINING! with a THUNDERSTORM!

We have had more lightning strikes in the last month than in all of the last year. If nature wanted to prove she has the power she has done it, she has succeeded. 9,050 times in fact, in June alone. And how many times did I jump up with a start at the sound of rain and run outside to check on my sunroof that was all along closed? Well, not 9,050 times, I'm not that absent-minded.

The cat is oblivious to it all and is sitting outside on the balcony
soaking up the wet from the green carpet.
Watching the pigeons.
Yes, Clive and Jack and Vera are back.
Maybe not the original ones, but who knows?

Doesn't matter as the tv is on and the remote is nearby for easy switching from

The weather in England is windy.
The weather in Italy is wet.
The weather in Canada is wet and windy.
The weather in Australia is warm and sunny.
Well somewhere in Australia.

Maybe not Melbourne, where it is a chilly, winterish 12C and my blog friend Frogdancer is knitting SCARVES for everyone due to some idea of extreme cold.

People in Australia live in a topsy turvy world.

But, since she has given me my FIRST AWARD I shall not be rude or condescending or mention any more that she is knitting scarves in 12C weather.

So, it seems I must now pass this on to SEVEN other people.

I could hardly sleep for thinking about this immense responsibility. This is my first afterall. I promise to become more blase by the third or fifth ...
So, in no particular order here are my chosen seven:

Crystal Jigsaw for having such good stories and turns of phrase. And for having a life sized cardboard cutout of David Tennant in her room.
XUP for seeing so much humour in life. Jazz for her dry wit. So few words can convey so much with her comments.
Urban Animal who used to be a Happy Downtowner but now just keeps on running. Like a fox. Chasing a dream. And happy to do it.
Under There for the most thought provoking writing. Ever. A perfect combination of seriousness and funny. Ruth over at synch-ro-ni-zing for her prose and photos. Lovely.
Lone Grey Squirrel on whose blog I lurked for a long time before finally commenting and was immediately challenged/inspired to come up with my own New 7 Wonders votes that took up so many delightful hours of my time last week.

Padraig Harrington has his award.
So drop on by. Pick up your award and pass it on to your own seven..

Drinks are on me.

New 7 Wonders/Nature vote #7 of 7

And, finally we come to the final vote. My 7th choice after a week of wandering the world. I have seen, in real life #1, #4, #5 and one of the places in #7. These choices were by no means in any preferential order. I'm not that decisive. I simply decided to start at the farthest location (New Zealand) and make my way back to Canada.

"Poor Niagara"

But didn't stay here long because there is an even more impressive sight to see.

check out the size of the falls compared to the boat in each of these pictures!

Iguassu Falls scroll down on this link to see a panorama of the falls from Brazil. My download lost way too much of the immensity of the view. Don't be too lazy to read up on the legend and accessibility and comparisons (to Niagara and Victoria).

Taller than Niagara Falls, twice as wide with 275 cascades spread in a horsehoe shape over nearly two miles of the Iguazu River, Iguazú Falls are the result of a volcanic eruption which left yet another large crack in the earth. These matter of fact details do nothing to describe the grandeur of the falls, the tremendous amount of water (an average of 553 cubic feet per second) thundering down 269 feet, the tropical location and the sheer beauty that led Eleanor Roosevelt to say "Poor Niagara". Four times the width of Niagara Falls, Iguazu Falls are divided by various islands into separate waterfalls. Iguazú Falls, called Foz do Iguaçu in Portuguese, and Cataratas del Iguazú in Spanish, lie on the Argentina - Brazil border and are a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site. The falls are part of a singular practically virgin jungle ecosystem protected by Argentine and Brazilian national parks on either side of the cascades. Two thirds of the falls are on the Argentinian side of the river where you can also tour Iguazú National Park where there are jungle trails and bird hikes. The view from the Brazilian side is the most panoramic and there are helicopter rides out over the falls from Foz do Iguaçu. The light is best in the morning for photographs.

Iguassu Falls Waterfall
ARGENTINA/BRAZIL Iguassu Falls lies on the Iguassu River and consists of a spectacular series of several hundred cataracts, separated by rocks and tree-covered islands. Together they form a horseshoe some 21/2 miles (4 km) long. The vast hydroelectric power potential of the falls is undeveloped. National parks have been established here by both Argentina and Brazil.
Current rank: 18

And here we go, another link to someone else's travel photos!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

New 7 Wonders/Nature vote #6 of 7

Enough of North America. There is still Europe and South America to explore. And ... dare I suggest Central America. And Antarctica. Although, its only nominee, the Ross Ice Shelf technically belongs to New Zealand. But I'm not one to let technicalities get in my way of a good round the world journey. I had planned on visiting and choosing one place from each continent, with one wild card (which was always going to be #5). The rules of the N7W Foundation are that only one site per country can win. I make my own arbitrary rules for choosing my votes. My next choice is listed in Asia but ... it is in the European Union. So I've stuck it in my Europe entry.

In Turkey, Pamukkale is considered the eighth wonder of the world (another one!). So it is a wonder that the government has botched up this amazing tourist destination. Access is much more limited than it was before it became a World Heritage Site, but at least it has been preserved. I would still make the effort to get there.

Deriving from springs in a cliff almost 200 m high overlooking the plain, calcite-laden waters have created at Pamukkale (Cotton Palace) an unreal landscape, made up of mineral forests, petrified waterfalls and a series of terraced basins. At the end of the 2nd century B.C. the dynasty of the Attalids, the kings of Pergamon, established the thermal spa of Hierapolis. The ruins of the baths, temples and other Greek monuments can be seen at the site.

Pamukkale, Springs
TURKEY The hot springs at Pamukkale, meaning "cotton castle" in Turkish, are in south-western Turkey. It is some 2,700 meters long and 160 meters high and can be seen from a great distance. Every second, 250 liters of hot water rises from the spring. The water contains large amounts of hydrogen carbonate and calcium, which merge to form calcium bi-carbonate. This natural phenomenon leaves thick white layers of limestone and travertine cascading down the mountain slope, which resemble a frozen waterfall.

Current rank: 121

For a 6 minute video of the area and more photos check out For a slideshow of photos see this link below

Friday, July 18, 2008

New 7 Wonders/Nature vote #5 of 7

Now let's see what beautiful damage water can do as it cuts into layer upon layer of rock over 17 million years. I'm heading south to Arizona.

"Mountains of music swell in the river,

Hills of music billow in the creeks...

While other melodies are heard

In the gorges of the lateral canyons.

The Grand Canyon is a land of song."

- John Wesley Powell

Grand Canyon
UNITED STATES The Grand Canyon is one of the most studied geologic landscapes in the world. It offers an excellent record of three of the four eras of geological time, a rich and diverse fossil record, a vast array of geologic features and rock types, and numerous caves containing extensive and significant geological, paleontological, archeological and biological resources. It is considered one of the finest examples of arid-land erosion in the world. The Canyon, incised by the Colorado River, is immense, averaging 4,000 feet deep for its entire 277 miles. It is 6,000 feet deep at its deepest point and 15 miles at its widest. Its great biological diversity can be attributed to the presence of five of the seven life zones and three of the four desert types in North America.

Current rank: 20

And the usual bonus, for your viewing pleasure see this link.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

New 7 Wonders/Nature vote #4 of 7

After that visit to Ha Long, well, so many of my other choices just didn't measure up anymore. So I came home to think on it some more. And I decided the best place to think would be not in my corner of the lake near Niagara Falls, but in Gwen's backyard on the Bay of Fundy. This measures up very well indeed.

Forever restless, the Bay of Fundy tides are in constant motion. As life ebbs and flows just beneath the surface, tidal waters rise and fall and the shoreline continually evolves. This is the intrigue and uniquenss of the Bay of Fundy, where the highest tides in the world wash the shores twice daily...exposing life, creating life, sustaining life.

Bay of Fundy
CANADA The Bay of Fundy is renowned for having the highest tides on the planet (16.2 metres or 53 feet). One hundred billion tonnes of sea water flows in and out of the Bay of Fundy twice daily – more water than the combined flow of all the world’s fresh water rivers. Fundy’s extreme tides create a dynamic and diverse marine ecosystem. The Bay is also renowned for its coastal rock formations, extreme tidal effects (vertical, horizontal, rapids and bores) and sustainable coastal development. It is also a critical international feeding ground for migratory birds, a vibrant habitat for rare and endangered Right whales, one of the world’s most significant plant and animal fossil discovery regions. The Bay of Fundy is located between the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia on North America’s east coast.

Current rank: 179

Visit this interactive video to watch the tide speeded up or you could visit in real time and watch the tide rise at a rate of between six to eight feet an hour, for 6 hours and 13 minutes.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

New 7 Wonders/Nature vote #3 of 7

Moving along with my continental tour, I have now reached ASIA. Suddenly the choices have become much more complicated and numerous.

Two of the criteria for my choices is accessibility and a fervent wish to visit the natural site. The descriptions alone on the N7W website were not enough for me, so I delved into the internet.
The pictures on this site alone have me crying with desire (and feeling intense envy that Jazz has actually been there) .

Ha Long literally means descending dragon(s) and according to local myth, long ago when their forefathers were fighting foreign invaders from the north, the gods from heaven sent a family of dragons to help defend their land. This family of dragons descended upon what is now Ha Long bay and began spitting out jewels and jade. Upon hitting the sea, these jewels turned into the various islands and islets dotting the seascape and formed a formidable fortress against the invaders. The locals were able to keep their land safe and formed what is now the country of Vietnam. The Dragon family fell so much in love with this area for its calm water and for the reverence of the people of Vietnam that they decided to remain on earth. Mother dragon lies on what is now Ha Long and where her children lie is Bai Tu Long. The dragon tails formed the area of Bach Long Vi known for the miles of white sandy beaches of Tra Co peninsula.

Dotted with 3000 limestone islets rising from emerald waters, it is the best known natural wonder of Vietnam. Because of their precipitous nature, most of the islands are uninhabited and unaffected by a human presence. The site's outstanding scenic beauty is complemented by its great biological interest. The islands feature endless numbers of beaches, grottoes, and caves.

Ha Long Bay
VIET NAM Ha Long Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in Quang Ninh province. The bay features thousands of karsts and isles in various sizes and shapes.

Current rank: 2

oops ... and I neglected to include links to more photos of vote #1. For consistency that has now been attended to, so have a gander back a couple of posts and dream some more.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

New 7 Wonders/Nature vote #2 of 7

This is not a place to get stranded without a hat, sun glasses and a big bottle of water.

These dunes may or may not be the largest in the world, but they are the largest in Morocco. It is said that they can be good for patients with rheumatics — they bury themselves in the sand and stay there all the day. And these dunes are often used in films and commercials.

The dunes of Erg Chebbi is a strikingly strange natural formation. This mountain of sand is surrounded by flat and desolate nature on all sides. Its existence is so weird that it has given rise to legends and myths among the locals. One legend tells us that the dunes of Erg Chebbi were created by God as a punishment to the locals of nearby Merzouga after they refused to give shelter to travellers during a local festival. A sandstorm came, and buried the village of Merzouga where it was then.
© Copyright 1996-2007 LexicOrient. All rights reserved Tore Kjeilen.

Erg Chebbi, Dunes
Erg Chebbi is the only Saharan erg in Morocco. This flat area of desert is 22 km long and 5 km wide. Its dunes reach a maximum height of 150 meters. It is located roughly 40 kilometers south-east of Erfoud.

Current rank: 120

While seeking more information on this area I found this blog with amazing photos which may be of interest.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Monday AMuse


New 7 Wonders/Nature vote #1 of 7

As of tonight (13 July 2008) the ranking of the top 21 New 7 Wonders of Nature sites has not changed.

My first of my seven choices is not in the top 10 and falls into the emotional category.

It has been described as "the eighth wonder of the world" by Rudyard Kipling.

I have been here and have tramped the trail (a very small part of it, mind you) and taken the tourist cruise. We almost didn't go as it had been raining so much overnight and was still overcast in the morning. But, patience, as the sun came out and we soon realized that the previous nights' rain only enhanced all the waterfalls. And there were many!

In an area often visited by rain, the mountain peaks rising from the waters of Milford Sound are often softened by mist and an air of almost flawless and overpowering mystic calm.

Milford Sound, Fjord
NEW ZEALAND Milford Sound, located in the southwest of New Zealand’s South Island, is located within the Fiordland National Park. It runs 15 km inland from the Tasman Sea and is surrounded by sheer rock faces that rise 1200 m or more on either side. Among its most striking features are Mitre Peak, rising 1,692 m above the sound, the Elephant at 1,517 m and resembling an elephant’s's head, and Lion Mountain, 1,302 m, in the shape of a crouching lion. Lush rain forests cling precariously to these cliffs, while seals, penguins and dolphins populate the water.

Current rank: 97

Here is one link to a travel blog with some great photos of Milford Sound
and another poetic photo album link

Sunday, July 13, 2008


This post has been inspired by a Lone Grey Squirrel and a Grumpy Old Ken.

A favourite childhood diversion that occupied my imagination for many hours was my View Master and its ever present reel of the Seven Wonders of the World. The Hanging Gardens of Babylon were my favourite. Interestingly, the most mysterious of the seven wonders. I was crushed to learn they were no longer standing. I also had a book of stories about the ancient cities and monuments of Greece, Persia, and Egypt. Archaeology featured large in my imagination. I travelled to these wondrous sites many times and made great discoveries while in my sick bed.

When a new Seven Wonders listing was proposed, I followed along. It was to be decided by popular vote (as opposed to one man glorifying his country's achievements). Of course, this would be no less subjective. Sites were nominated, the voting extended by a year due to demand, with great excitement for the shortlisted cities. Visits were made and each city had a chance to promote their man made wonder - think of the IOC visiting Olympic bid cities.

New7Wonders of the World list was announced on 07/07/07. Hundreds of sites from around the world were nominated and voted on globally through the internet. The current project is the New7Wonders of Nature. Already there are almost 300 natural sites nominated. The top 77 sites will be whittled down to the top 21 in January 2009, and eventually the final 7 by December 2010.

Anyone can vote for their favourite 7 in the nomination stage (until Dec 31, 2008) and again for their favourite 7 of the shortlisted stage.

Lone Grey Squirrel has already posted his top 7 choices which you can see

I need a little more time for mine! There are so many places I have never heard of. So many beautiful natural spots in the world. So, I'm going through the lists by continent and will post one favourite vote a day. Starting Monday.

Play along if you wish.

If you are not going on holidays this year, you can dream of where you want to go next year.

If you are wondering how Grumpy Old Ken fits into this, you can check out his post on
sterioscopic images and his trip down memory lane. A world apart, for sure.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

sorry for the colour shock


Not sleeping today.

humidity rising

Need to get me some of this

I have spent more than 8 months growing my hair out.
Got tired of having bangs that would not wisp properly.

So I've been through the hellish stage and they are now long enough to put out of the way behind my ear[s].

Am not so sure anymore.

Had forgotten just how HEAVY my hair was.
And I foolishly thought the flat iron would help the frizz problem.
Am now very tired of my sweating head.

Have booked appointment. Now must decide what to do with it. Who do I want to look like?

Friday, July 11, 2008

water, water

So, I was checking out Noha's blog and came across her post referring to a water use calculator.
Decided to check it out for myself, just out of curiosity. Thinking, rather smugly, that my usage will be so low and I will feel so virtuous in my conservancy.

Not so fast.

Even without the extra 'not applicable' bits (dishwasher, laundry, pool, yard) I was only a little below the average.

Still, at least I was below.

Ed: this is a Canadian site, but still, play along. Just pick a province or territory at random, Ontario being the most populous and Nunavut the least, with PEI being the most densely populated by area.


My worknight starts at about 2am and I crawl back into bed sometime around 6am. Strange hours, I know. But it has several advantages. One of which used to be driving in the middle of the night with no traffic. Some nights I would see no other cars on the road (save other newspaper carriers, maybe a taxi or Limo, the odd night owl near the highway). It made driving a joy.

The route I have now is the same one I had four years ago and the biggest change I've noticed is the millionfold increase in traffic. Seriously. I cannot leave a parking lot or driveway on any of the main roads without having to wait for some headlights to pass. The other night I thought I'd count them. Lost track before 30. And that was only the first 1/2 hour!! Why are so many of you not tucked up in bed at this hour? By 5am I expect the traffic flow to increase and plan accordingly. But at 3am??

I noticed that the front page of [one of] the papers I deliver had its daily photo and story of death by vehicular accident. There has been one every day this week. I thought about this post, and that maybe I was exaggerating, but no, buried inside the paper was a page devoted to just this sad state of deaths. There have been 20 deaths involving automobiles since May 25 (after Victoria Day weekend) and 10 of them have been in the past week (since Canada Day). And that is just this area WEST of Toronto. This most recent one involved a teen who was crushed by his parents' SUV while trying to steal it for a joyride in the middle of the night. A couple of days ago there was a well publicized road rage incident where a man was killed after being cut off on the 401. And a week ago a teen was struck and dragged under a car for more than 1/2 km. He is still in an induced coma and the perp has not turned himself in.

Driving has ceased to be a joy.

And I haven't even begun to complain about traffic during the day.

Forgive me if I am a little skeptical about the high gas prices forcing people to reduce their driving.

Thursday, July 10, 2008


And here I was wondering where everyone had gone.
Are they all LIVING a life, instead of writing about stuff to entertain me?
Turns out my RSS feeder is not updating as it should.
It is my feeder that is ignoring us.
So, if some of you were wondering where I was, I'm right here. Waiting.
Well shortly, I'll be off waiting out the afternoon on the patio at Pepperwood's having a drink and a bite of something tasty, watching the lake and the world go by.

See y'all later

Violet - the gentlest corner of the rainbow

Roses are red,
violets are blue.
That's what they say,
but it just isn't true.

Roses are red,
and apples are too.
But violets are violet,
violets aren't blue.

An Orange is an orange,
But Greenland's not green.
A pinky's not pink,
so what does it mean?

To call something blue
when it's not, we defile it.
But what the heck,
it's hard to rhyme violet.

from The Animaniacs

Orphaned at the coolest end of the rainbow, as vulnerable to frost as an April flower, distant from the passion and power of red, the colour violet remains misunderstood and fragile, suffering, through no fault of its own, for the sin of not being purple.
But it is its ineluctable confusion with purple that torments violet the most.

True violet can not be concocted by mixing red and blue.

The colour violet has long been associated with spirituality. In ancient times, when alchemists sought to change base metals into gold, violet was seen as a key to spiritual transformation.

The Count of St Germain, an 18th century courtier, adventurer and alchemist, used the violet flame for enlightenment and for achieving a state of unity with the Divine.

Leonardo da Vinci claimed his meditative powers increased tenfold when sitting under a a violet light coming through stained glass.

Richard Wagner used violet light in his surroundings when composing his operas.

Simple happiness seems to elude all who are tinted by it:

"Violet! Sweet Violet! Thine eyes are filled with tears.
Are they wet, even yet, with the thought of other years"

"A violet on the meadow grew
that no-one saw, that no-one knew..."
This post stolen and excerpted from AVENUE COLOURS to read more of the 7 part series on the exploration of colour

Wednesday, July 9, 2008


on a sunny, breezy day I will do an extra laundry and throw in my clean bed linen just so I can have fresh air scented sheets to lie in.

instead of doing laundry, I will buy new socks or underwear. I'll need to buy them eventually.

I will simply throw the cat food at her dish if she doesn't get out of my way. The bits on the floor are just as tasty as the ones in the bowl.

I will put 1/4" of Nutella on a piece of bread that also has a good portion of butter. It's even tastier than straight out of the jar.

though not usually in summer, I will have only candles burning for light all evening, in every room I'm using.

the glow from the television and computer screen is the only light I use to get around the room.

I need more light to see.

I will spend an evening watching TMZ, Entertainment Tonight and ET Canada.

I will spend an evening not recognizing, or knowing who those people are on TMZ, Entertainment Tonight or ET Canada.

I don't bother closing the balcony door, even when I'm sleeping.

other wildlife will wander in through the open balcony door.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

A Cat's Love

Pet me, pet me.

Right here, right behind the ear. Oh that's good. Don't stop. Under the chin, oh yessss. Keep going. Keep.... okay, that's enough.

Jumps off lap, shakes herself vigorously to let loose hair fly. Rubs herself down along side of chesterfield to get rid of more hair then turns around to deal with the other side.

Nice kitty.

Jumps back up on lap.

Pet me, pet me. [Pulls hand toward forehead with paws.]

Right there, on top of my head. Oohh, that's lovely. Here, let me give you a hug and drape as much of my hot, heavy, furry body around you as possible in gratitude.

Oh dear, is that a bead of sweat I see?

Let me get that for you. And there's more. I'll just lick it all off, shall I? Move your arm a bit and let me in.

What? What did I do?

Pet me. Pet me.

Not there. Oh, nevermind. I'll just go back to bed and sleep for a bit.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Monday AMuse

Pigeon Talk

I was out wandering around a favourite Lebanese bakery/grocery store yesterday when "Frozen Egyptian Pigeons" caught my eye. Right beside the frozen quail. Intriguing, I thought. Is this a mis-translation? It was a little too expensive for my pocket to experiment and I had no idea what to do with it.

Besides, the pigeons that were making a summer camp on my balcony have returned.

In the local news there is a story about the collapse of a local pigeon breeding enterprise that has left thousands of pigeons likely to be gassed.

Brian Caldwell
Documents were seized from a Waterloo office this week as officials try to determine the scope of a collapsed pigeon-breeding operation. Darren Grandel, regional manager for the Ontario SPCA, got a court order to search Pigeon King International for information on the number and location of birds. "Our main concern is that they aren't starving to death," he said.
Company founder Arlan Galbraith has said he signed up 1,000 breeders on farms in Canada and the United States, fuelling estimates there could be 400,000 pigeons in Ontario alone. What will happen to them all has been unclear since Galbraith, 61, sent breeders a letter last week telling them the controversial business is "dead in the water."

Starting in 2001, Galbraith recruited farmers -- many of them Amish and Mennonite -- to buy pigeons and breed them under 10-year contracts. He promoted the business as a salvation for family farms, selling pairs of breeding pigeons for up to $500, but promising to buy back their offspring at lucrative prices. Once a huge breeding network was established, Galbraith said, he would set up processing plants and develop food markets for squab -- young pigeon meat -- at reasonable prices. Critics, however, alleged Pigeon King was an elaborate Ponzi, or pyramid, scheme and several U.S. states blocked Galbraith from recruiting unless he could prove it was a viable business. Breeders who invested up to $200,000 now have nowhere to sell the offspring, although one area group is exploring ways to sell the birds for food on its own.
So, I looked it up - isn't the internet a wonderful resource for a late Sunday night?
What I discovered is that this is indeed a delicacy in Egypt.

I have enclosed two recipes for your collection.
Has anyone travelled to Egypt and sampled this?
Is anyone willing to try this with a local pigeon?
Is it even legal to eat pigeon?

Hamam Meshwi
(Char-grilled Pigeon)

A traditional Egyptian dish of marinated char-grilled pigeons (though poussin works well as a substitute).

4 plump pigeons (or poussin)
2 large handful of flat-leaf parsley leaves

For the Marinade
Juice of 2 lemons
2 onions, roughly chopped
6 cloves garlic
6 tbsp olive oil
sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste

First make the marinade by placing all the ingredients in a blender and purée into a liquid. Meanwhile cut the pigeons in half through the breast and snip the body at the leg and wing joints (this allows them to flatten when cooking). Place the birds in a dish and cover with the marinade. Leave them for an hour, turning occasionally to ensure they are evenly covered.

Heat the barbecue until the embers are glowing. Oil the grill and place the birds on top. Allow the birds to become brown before turning. Cook until the meat is rosy in colour but still tender. Arrange on a plate, sprinkle the chopped parsley over the top and serve.

Hamam Mahshy
(Stuffed Pigeon)

4 pigeons (1 lb each) - pigeon giblets, chopped - onion, chopped - butter - salt - pepper - cornmeal - mint - cooked rice

Preheat oven (200°C/400°F).
Heat the butter and add the onion, salt, pepper and giblets.
Then, toss the giblets in cornmeal and mint until golden brown.
Clean the pigeons and rub them inside and out with salt and pepper.
Stuff each pigeon with the giblets and the previously cooked rice.
Place the pigeons in a casserole.
Add enough hot water to cover the bottom of the casserole.
Pour the remaining butter over the pigeons.
Roast in preheated oven for 50 minutes.
Add additional water when needed.
Put some of the pigeon stock in a saucepan with the remaining cornmeal.
Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes.
Serve with the roast pigeons.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Snowflake Medal

So, I was going to be all irrelevant and just post funny comics, if I felt like posting, since most people are off on some holiday. Or enjoying the damn fine weather we're having. Or wondering about Nadal vs Federer or Williams, V vs Williams, S. to be wanting to think or read about anything serious and thought provoking as honours and abortions and knickers twisting.

And yet, the Canadian media has certainly helped whip up a frenzy this past week over the recent awarding of Dr Henry Morgentaler to the Order of Canada.

For all of you non Canadians, a primer:
Henry Morgentaler is 84 years old, born in Ludz, Poland and was a family doctor who gave up his practice in Montreal to open his first abortion clinic in defiance of the laws of 1968. He endured several trials, assassination attempts, protests, firebombing of his clinic in Toronto and eventually 10 months in jail in his unwavering "committment to increased health care options for women, his determined efforts to influence Canadian public policy and his leadership in humanist and civil liberties organizations." [from the Governor General's website on the award]

This is and always was and will continue to be a very explosive and emotional issue.
I will not wade in with my personal opinion.
The awarding of such honours are not a personal choice of individual Canadians.

Here are some samplings of opinions from people who waded in anyway:

Yay: "Mr Morgentaler ensured the rights of Canadian women to safe and legal abortions without the interference of church, state or pro forma hospital committees. For that reason alone - for the right of all women to be regarded as capable of making a decision whether to bear children - Morgentaler merits the Order of Canada." [Catherine Ford, Calgary Herald]

Nay: "It's not like he did it in a volunteer spirit. He was running for-profit clinics." [Robert Thibeault, MP]

On the fence: "I guess my preference, to be frank, would be to see the Order of Canada be something that really unifies, that brings Canadians together." [Stephen Harper, PM]

The Order of Canada is our country's highest civilian honour. It is meant to recognize a "lifetime of outstanding achievement and dedication to community". Forty-three names are included in the list of Members and 26 as Officers on July 1st. Those have all been overshadowed by this one appointment. In fact, by now, at least one person officially and a few others in letters to the editor have stated they would like to return their medal as they "do not want to be associated" with such a member. One man out of the 4,000 or so other members.

Created in 1967, the order was established to recognize the lifetime contributions made by Canadians who made a major difference to Canada. The first level, Member of the Order of Canada, is awarded for "a lifetime of distinguished service in or to a particular community, group or field of activity." One man, who asked to remain unnamed to avoid media publicity, told that, although he had been named as a recipient for his volunteer activities, he would ask the committee to remove his name from the list. "At first I thought it was a great honour. But right now I'm not sure I'm a proud Canadian. Honour dropped down quite a bit today," he said. [from website]

Now, this is just me, but I admit that out of those 70 names, I only recognised three.
So, I ask of any Canadians out there not watching Wimbledon this weekend, can you name 10 Order of Canada recipients off the top of your heads?
Without cheating?
Who are NOT former Prime Ministers?

The cynical side of me will now list these illustrious few:

  1. CONRAD BLACK - crook
  2. CELINE DION - diva
  3. SUE JOHANSON - sex talker
  4. WAYNE GRETZKY - great one
  6. PIERRE TRUDEAU - loved and hated PM
  7. H SANFORD RILEY - who?
  8. JOE CLARK - Joe Who
  9. MONTY HALL - come on down
  10. JOHN A MACNAUGHTON - Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (look how well that turned out)

Friday, July 4, 2008

A Friday Funny

If you are like me, you may want to click on the comic to make BIG

Thursday, July 3, 2008

bees knees

It seemed such a lovely way to spend an afternoon. Sitting by the water partaking of the Strawberry Social. My friend Jan was even willing to share most of the cream in the bowl of strawberries and cream we had together. She ate her tart on her own. Now, I know that I am allergic to strawberries, but have managed to be able to eat maybe two or three at a sitting if each bite is surrounded by cream or yoghourt or, my personal fave - custard. But not this time. This years crop is not liking me as much. I haven't felt like this since the summer of 1994, when even a hint of a strawberry, or tomato, or kiwi would set my mouth on fire with tiny pimply boil like eruptions. Most unpleasant, to put it mildly.

I am feeling better today. Less fire, but certainly a lot of tenderness. The roof of my mouth and the insides of my cheeks and my lower lip are a bit raw. I thought the yoghourt would help. It seems to have the most pleasing consistency to gently coat and cool and soothe. Then I got hungry and last night thought maybe some honey would be good. After all it is good for sore throats.

Big mistake. Having it on a slice of freshly baked, very soft bread with 1/4 inch of butter also a mistake. Sigh. I was really looking forward to that.

Honey slides down your throat much easier than off the roof of your mouth.
I tried to move it along with my tongue, which only moved the pimply skin on the roof of my mouth - agony. Next instinctual move is to SUCK it off the surface. So now I am pulling all this tender, loose, pimply skin. I held my face in one of those isometric exercises for as long as I could until the suction finally released and I fell to my knees. I found a hand mirror to check that I still had skin on the inside of my mouth. It was not a pretty sight. All white and puffy. I felt very sorry for myself.

But it made me think about honey. Anything to distract. Another blogger mentioned that her son was taking a beekeeping class. Sounds intriguing. Then I read about a truck that turned over on a highway in NB spilling its load of 12 million bees. The bees were being shared by Ontario to help pollinate their blueberries as there are not enough around. And there is the Honey Moon Suite on top of the Royal York Hotel that is now home to 3 beehives after a bit of a struggle with the city. There are various laws that govern keeping hives within certain distances of residential areas, even at 16 storeys above. You wouldn't think there'd be enough for the bees to live on, but along with the rooftop garden for them to play in, there is a buffet feast in the ravines and the islands for them to gorge on. I've learned that bees travel about in 12 km range, so whatever is grown in that specific area is found in the honey they produce. You cannot get more local than that. And I'll bet most people walking along Front, or King or Queen or coming out of Union Station aren't even aware of them.

I used to drive past an apiary almost every day when I lived farther away, and I loved to stop by their roadside stand and try out their different honeys. When I was growing up, we only had Billy Bee Honey. Usually creamed. Sometimes, if my mother felt adventurous it might be buckwheat honey. What a sheltered life we had in the 60's. The first time I ever tasted anything more decadent than Clover honey was in New Zealand - their honey rivals their ice cream and would warrant a return visit just for that if my carbon footprint wouldn't put the buying spree through the roof. Now it is possible to find honey of many hues and textures and flavours. From many different countries. Local is good. But so is honey from every part of the world. And, amazingly, honey is one product that can be made naturally in every climate. Every jar is subtly different. Every taste an experience like no other. What I have in my cupboard now is a Blueberry and a Pear Blossom. At $7.95 a jar it is not to be wasted.

Therefore, I sucked all that honey from the inside of my mouth and shed a tear.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

red and white

It's that time of year again.

Plump. Fresh. Juicy. Red.


The Strawberry Social.

A Canada Day Tradition.

What could be more Red and White than Strawberries and Cream.

Seems my allergy to strawbs is in full force.

Am off to get more yogourt to cool my mouth.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Happy Birthday Canada

um, are all the beer stores closed, then?