Monday, June 28, 2010

Monday AMuse

Absynthe has still been receiving postcards from the Postcrossing site. And we really must get some of them uploaded onto her postcard wall.

Many, many beautiful cards have arrived, but some of our favourites are those from a Finnish artist Kaj Stenvall. Because we all know how much Violet loves ducks.

His duck, while looking remarkably like another famous duck, seems to be at the same time distinctly a Stenvall duck. Stenvall ducks are shown in a variety of scenes (some of which may also seem remarkably familiar) and are endlessly amusing.
Here is but a small sampling to pique your interest.
(The Night of the Arts)

(The Superior Power of the Red Hat)

(Private parts)

(A Toast)

(Humble Servant)
Interestingly, of the dozen or so postcards received so far, there is not one duplicate!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

SundayStills - history

History is the theme for this week's Sunday Stills photo challenge. "Anything over 60 years, people, place or event"

So, here we have a rather unassuming house that is credited as being the oldest house in the Halton region. It was moved around the corner from it's original spot on Dundas Street in 2000 and extensively restored. A new by-law was recently enacted to save it from demolition.

'The Cork House is a historic home converted to showroom and factory outlet for Jelinek Cork Group. Eco-friendly and renewable cork products represent the core offerings of Jelinek Cork. The Cork House presents these products in a real-world situation providing an example of how to integrate sustainability into your life'.
It is a modest homestead, but you will notice it is made of wood. Maybe it was saved at one time by one of these beauties?
She could race to your location at speeds up to 50mph.
A REO Speedwagon from 1922. It has been lovingly (yes, lovingly, I talked to the Firefighter) restored by the Volunteer Fire Department of Kilbride. I didn't take note of his name (and I bet he is over 60, too!) but he noted, a little sadly, that none of the younger crew are interested in her.

See other bits of history, recent and ancient, at SundayStills

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

food fun

Whenever I travel, I like to eat the local food. Even if it is just to another city, I see no point in eating at a chain restaurant that I could easily have eaten at in my home town. And I try to order something that I would never make for myself. Mind you, the list of things I can't be bothered to make for myself keeps growing. It's not so much the noodles or fish, but the special ingredients that go into the sauce that I may never forget to use use again. I once travelled with a friend who was alternately impressed and horrified that I would order off a menu with little idea of what I was getting. Well, I'm not that adventurous; I knew enough Spanish to recognize that the dish was rice, it was just the other ingredients I wasn't familiar with. I can't remember what she ate, but do remember her trying to get translations from the waiter who in the end, I think, just made it up to get her to finally order something, anything. I also discovered that local customs sometimes meant szechuan food in one country was not necessarily the same as szechuan food in another country.

I remember the exciting days when "ethnic" restaurants finally appeared in Toronto in the 70s. And we finally got past the idea that 'spaghetti' was ethnic. Our family would eagerly choose a restaurant just for the experience of finding out how Greek or Mexican, Indonesian or Central American food tasted. Sushi became a favourite for some of us. My love of eating out and trying new foods must have been a pleasant surprise for my mother who suffered through my picky eater stage as a young child!

All of this preamble is a set up to introduce you to a list of World Cup Recipes I found at iAfrica. There is a common national dish for each of the more than 30 teams participating in the first round. They range from the expected pavovla from Australia, cheese fondue (Switzerland), paella (Spain) to the weirdly named "bare bottoms in the grass" from the Netherlands and "toad-in-the-hole" from England.
I had fun reading through the recipes and some of them looked interesting enough to try... (note to the Americans, the recipes are all in metric).

Some of the 'quirky foods from South Africa', however might curb some of my enthusiasm for local cuisine...
Mopane worms: Protein-packed caterpillars eaten dried or fried until crunchy. Often served in a tomato sauce
Walkie talkies: Cooked chicken feet and heads. The feet are also known as "runaways".
Smilies: Sheep heads par-cooked and roasted with the heat exposing the sheep's teeth into a grin or smile. Usually found at taxi ranks and downtown city markets
Ulusu: A stew of animal stomachs
Umqombothi: Traditional grain-brewed beer. Milky in appearance with a yeasty, sour taste

then again, I would definitely try these, along with some Rooibos: indigenous "red bush" tea, a popular caffeine-free beverage...
Bobotie: Spiced, fruity minced meat baked with egg custard on top. A Cape Malay dish believed to have roots in the East Indies slaves brought by Dutch colonists
Melktert: "Milk tart" sprinkled with cinnamon. Also popular is malva pudding - a spongy cake-like dessert
Vetkoek/ Amagwinya: Balls of deep fried bread dough. Served plain as street food but also can have sweet or savoury fillings

oh, wait. I see the trend........

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

expect major delays

I had a reason to be in Toronto today. Downtown, though not exactly near the 'perimeter'. Still, I wanted to see it for myself. I wanted to see just how my tax dollars were looking.

They were looking rather oppressive, to say the least. Very forbidding. Which I guess was the point. Except that, as we all know by now, many of the 'forbidden' are residents, workers. Tourists. Baby trees.

It also looked ugly. So very ugly. Which wasn't the point. What a way to showcase the city to the world. Thanks, Steve.

I so desperately wanted to take a picture or two, but after seeing at least one poor sod being intimidated into having to delete his photos from his camera and having to show my ID when I pulled out my camera, I decided I didn't need my own pictures. Though, technically, the police can't force you to delete your photos. There is even a flickr account of the CBC I have now found where you can upload your G20 photos.

If you are not aware of the insanity around this G20 security enforcement you can read up on it at this frequently updated Globe and Mail site.

Once you are familiar with the insanity of this billion dollar shut down of Toronto there is a satirical twitter account if you are interested. Apparently, even the police find it amusing.

This would be so endlessly amusing, if it weren't costing a billion dollars.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Saturday, June 19, 2010

having a bit of fun all by myself

I thought about heading over to the Sound of Music Festival, but it is such a popular event that the thought of the crowds kept me back.

In the end, there was quite the show going on that I could see from my balcony.

It has been hot and humid here all day
see how lovely it is over the waterfront.

But wait, what is this....

moving in from the northwest
fast moving clouds

with the strains of music wafting through the air from the various stages providing background accompaniment
the clouds soon got a little more threatening as they headed for the park

as they do for the Sound of Music weekend with its open air stages
for every year, with the screams of the crowd as accompaniment

it rains

then, as suddenly as it came, the clouds moved on
and a rainbow appeared

then the clouds came back and it rained some more

this went on for some time, well about an hour.
all in all we had at least three different outbursts of rain and as many rainbows.

and I got enough sky shots to fill up every SkyWatchFriday posting for the rest of the year.

Eventually, the sun was setting and it was time to go inside to watch Dr Who save humanity.


... and the matching necklace, just becasue I couldn't resist.

By a Montreal designer, Christophe Poly

Thursday, June 17, 2010

a fine day out

There is a lovely little touristy town not far away that offers up the Shaw Festival. A friend I wander down that way twice a year for a play - once in the spring and again in the fall.

It is a day full of rituals that never seem to tire.
We grab a coffee for the drive into Niagara-on-the-Lake because the wonderful bakery we always stop at serves exquisite pies but crap coffee.
She pays for the parking and I pay for the pies (which co-incidentally will likely come to almost the same price!)
When we start to see the signs for the various wineries one of us will say: we must spend a day and do a wine tour.

In eight years we have never done a wine tour.
The shame of it all.

After pie we feel a need to walk a bit and head for our favourite antique place. Going to an antique place right after an auction is never a good plan. Still, there was something a bit ... spiritless this time. The barn seemed smaller and was certainly almost empty, but here was nothing that caused either of us to seek out the other and grab her arm and drag her over to see something wonderful that we would never buy. We will need to replace this part of the tradition, I think.

The weather people had promised lots of rain with some thunder and lightning thrown in for added drama, but when we got on the highway, the car said it was 25C and it was humid enough to require the A/C, it was windy with blue sky and lots of white puffy clouds skating across it.

We decided to save the walk on the waterfront trail until after the play due to the humidity and instead spent a few minutes window shopping (I later had to go back and purchase those earrings I saw in the window even if they were at inflated NOTL prices).

Apparently we missed the massive rainfall and dramatic thunderstorm while sitting comfortably inside the theatre.

Because that seems to be the other ritual: it always rains when we go to NOTL.

When we came out of the theatre, the streets were wet, the grass was glistening. There were deep puddles everywhere. We decided against going for a walk along the water afterall, though I had to make a quick stop to take more photos of the sky.

And found these entertaining guys.
(click on the image for full effect - for some reason it gets very big!)

You can see the transistion to looking like a real Canada Goose.

They are so funny at this awkward stage.

Probably the only teenagers in town that afternoon!

Later, we have dinner at our favourite restaurant that is near a shipwreck. I would have taken photos for you, but as soon as we got off the highway, the skies opened up for a brief but intense downpour. By the time we were seated, it had cleared up again and we ate our meal while watching the gulls soaring over the waves of the lake.

I was waiting for my friend at the bar as we were leaving, watching the television screen with the soccer match repeat and chatting to a fellow once-every-four-years-fan. In the course of our chat, his wife accidentally let slip the final score. Poor thing, she must have apologized 15 times, but really I wasn't bothered. Though when I got home and turned on the tv for the news and caught the last 10 minutes, I admit to feeling a teeny bit of smugness knowing the outcome while listening to the announcer getting all excited and unbelieving about the prospect that Switzerland - Switzerland! - might win this match.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Monday AMuse

Continuing our butt theme....
Who ever thought these were cute?
This is rather a disturbing trend in cake decorating.

Makes you wonder what happened to the rest of the baby?
Or why someone has this tyke half buried.

the above I chose in honour of wee Callum (the newest member of our small family)
and below is in honour of all the people (including my niece who was married last weekend) who are visiting Paris this year (it definitely seems to be the destination of choice!)

apparently the Eiffel Tower is pure sugar!
and what does black icing taste like, I wonder?

photos from

Friday, June 11, 2010

end zone

My work schedule has been rearranged. The snacks and beer have been bought. Remember when I got my new tv, the slim version? Well, I realize one other advantage to having a flat screen with no big ass back end is being able to bring it outside. I can set it up on the balcony and not lose any of the beautiful weather while I watch SOCCER for the next month.
I still haven't decided which team to support (since we are not in it, quel surprise!), but I see that as an advantage: since I don't really care who wins, no matter what, I should be happy!

Now, I realize a good number of you don't give a rat's ass about this event...

so, I'll leave you with these amusing asses just so you don't think you've wasted your time reading this post.

I've got you covered

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


After 30 years of neglect, they were in poor condition. After expropriation, things only got worse for this three block stretch of 41 buildings, some dating back 170 years. Today just before noon, the demolition crew was out with the crane to begin tearing down (1) what is considered the longest stretch of pre-Confederate buildings in Ontario. (2)

No-one bothered to get a historical designation on any of them.
There is no plan for the land once the buildings are gone.

By now, many of the residents are likely fed up with the decay. The stench. The undesirables who inhabited the buildings while they could. The division in the local government.

It was inevitable.

Why it became inevitable is the saddest part of all.

Take pride in what you have.

If you are a city with history, please don't erase it because you couldn't be bothered to take care of the historical structures.

And don't let the vultures in.

(1) photos of the first demolition
(2) a historical list of the buildings on the street

Monday, June 7, 2010

gussy up

I was at a wedding over the weekend. I don't get to many weddings. The rush of nuptials amongst my friends all ended in the 80s and now we wait for their children to make it to the altar. (and they are taking their sweet time about it!)

The last wedding I attended was 2 years ago in England. It was a rather formal affair. The groom was in his newly hard earned Marine full dress uniform, his best man in a kilt. I was one of only two female family members not wearing a hat. (And I was okay with that, since hats do not suit me at all.)

It has not gone unnoticed that people over on this side of the pond tend to dress much more casually for any event. There was a time when I had Sunday best clothes and office suits. Since I no longer work in an office and don't attend church, I have little use for those Sunday best clothes. For our family dinners, we all wear clean clothes, mostly of a semi casual type. My brother now owns a tux from a formal wear shop that is going out of business, so maybe we'll have to have at least one cocktail party a year for his tux to have an outing.

My niece loves to dress up. A particular favourite era for her is 50s attire, so she looked perfectly natural in her ivory pink wedding gown with a strand of pearls. Her partner, who does not like to dress up, looked very elegant in a black suit with pink tie and shirt.

It was a garden wedding, held late morning. Still, on looking at the gathering, a friend and I cattily critiqued the attire of some of the attendees. There were suits with running shoes - even in the wedding party, albeit fancy pink shoes to go with the theme of pink and white. There were some who were almost unrecognizable in their crisp shirts and ties and cufflinks. There were some people who looked like they made no effort to look in their closet for something just a little special for a special event. A particularly galling example was one family member who wore cargo shorts! Interestingly, he, among others, went to a much greater effort for the evening dance reception held at a restaurant.

Really, would it kill you to wear some well fitted clothes that bring out the best of your figure, that shows you have a little style and that you care enough about the people you are with to make an effort to look pleasing to the eye??

Even Gus didn't make a fuss when this get up was foisted on him!

Friday, June 4, 2010

sleeping dangerously

Where I live there is a creek running in the back and a lake across the road. So it is not unusual to see the odd duck or two (mallards) or several Canada Geese roaming around.

Meet Chris.

Chris has lived here for several years. I have no idea whether Chris is a male goose or a female goose - how does one tell? Canada Geese mate for life and there used to be two of them we would see often down by the creek. Then a few years ago, the other goose appeared to be limping badly. A few of us would keep our eye out for it and someone did call an animal rescue service, but eventually Chris's mate disappeared forever. But for at least 5 or 6 years Chris still comes round. All alone.

Oh, occasionally there is a squabble between three geese, but this is obviously Chris's turf and they are sent away whenever he is around.

Have you ever wondered where geese and ducks sleep?

Chris seems to prefer the pavement.
And once settled, he.will.not.move.
One day, I found him in my parking spot. Luckily, it was during the day and there were few other cars around so it wasn't too hard to get around him and back into my space.

Many's the night I have found him, sleeping in the middle of the road or at the end of a driveway. It's a bit nervewracking, worrying about running into him.

I've often wondered why he likes this dangerous corner.
Perhaps he remembers where he last saw his beloved.
Maybe he feels closer to her and has fond memories of their time, grazing and paddling the creek together.
After seeing him almost every night for most of the last month or so, I haven't seen him (or her?) for three nights.
I'm getting worried.