Thursday, September 30, 2010

Fun with Stickers

Now I understand the scrapbooking phenomenon! Mom pulled out her stickers and we decorated a birthday present. It was simple fun.

The family gathered for a double birthday celebration full of laughter and calories. That's just what birthdays are all about.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Colourful Harmony

I myself am quite absorbed by the delicate yellow, delicate soft green, delicate violet of a ploughed and weeded piece of soil.
Vincent van Gogh

The Sun shone on a beautiful, if chilly, Fall day. Thank goodness for green spaces in the city. A peaceful moment can be inhaled by taking in the green-gold harmony while waiting for a bus.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

B&W & Red

A downpour left its mark across the city in flooded fields and underpasses. We stayed on high ground and marveled at low white clouds hanging across a dark slate background. And then into the grey image flew the shock of a red cardinal. Amazing.

Monday, September 27, 2010

A(nother) Rainy Day

Be still, sad heart, and cease repining;
Behind the clouds is the sun still shining;
Thy fate is the common fate of all,
Into each life some rain must fall,
Some days must be dark and dreary.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, "The Rainy Day"

If these raindrops look a little icy that's because it's darn cold these days but we've had fun fixing up the house and buying comfy bedding for our soon-to-arrive guest. Stay tuned.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Wondrous World

This is God’s wondrous world, and to my listening ears
all nature sings, and round me rings the music of the spheres.
This is God’s wondrous world; I rest me in the thought of
rocks and trees, of skies and seas, God’s hand the wonders wrought.
Maltbie D. Babcock, 1901

Another favourite hymn from my childhood is "This is my Father's World". The United Church has changed the words slightly to be more inclusive of masculine/feminine perceptions of divinity. Both versions work for me.

"Wondrous" is certainly an appropriate adjective as Dad and I took in the autumn colours, sounds and scents during our walk along another section of the Rail Trail.

Vibrant Michaelmas daisies blossomed along the path.

I had fun photographing the old electrical poles and their insulators. Some have become one with the trees. Others were enveloped in vines. But each had a unique character. The clouds gathered and at times appeared to be carrying snow (brrrrr), but we had a wonderful time nonetheless.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Che Sara Sara

Che sara sara translates colloquially as 'go with the flow', my guiding tenet. And lucky for me that tenet took me to my hometown's celebration of Culture Days.

Super Crawl drew thousands of folk to the city's central core, which has languished for that past few decades. Local artists, entrepreneurs, and visionaries are upgrading the North End neighbourhood and making it a happening place once again.

The idea behind Culture Days is to build links between artists and their communities and so while two artists brought Michelangelo to a city street, kids nearby used big pieces of chalk to create their own masterpieces.

The event opened my eyes to the magnificence of the city's architecture. Christ's Church Cathedral, consecrated in 1842, shimmers with Decorated Gothic style windows. The soft rendering of each face lifts up a person's spirit at the sight of such beauty and such achievement.

I was amazed by the architectural gems that I had never noticed before. This detail adorns the Hamilton Brass Manufacturing Company building, built in 1873. Converted into shops and apartments, its ground floor has a great Italian coffee bar that also sells every type of espresso maker imaginable. I felt like a kid in a toy store!

Originally built in 1905 as the city's Orange Hall, this building's ground floor now houses the Vasco da Gama football/social club. The rampant rider is King William of Orange while the statue is Justice proclaiming "Justice for All".

Not wanting to overload the post, I include only a few images from my interesting afternoon. One never knows where life's journey is going to flow, but it's certainly an interesting ride!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Blowin' in the Wind

I can't change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.
Jimmy Dean

As Newfoundland deals with the affects of hurricane Igor, 70-km/hr winds blew hard across the land here.

But no rain (thankfully); only bright skies and warm temperatures. Indian Summer.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Ontario Farmland

Every blade of grass has its angel that bends over it and whispers, "Grow, grow."
The Talmud

As the Sun was setting, we drove eastwards along secondary highways. The fields glowed red, gold and brown. We passed cows and sheep and orchards. Angels have been hard at work.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Growing Gills

It rained again today. I've seen so much rain recently that I think I'm growing gills so I decided to go with the flow and cook fish for dinner. Among Granny's cookbooks is one issued in 1915 by the Department of Naval Service "in the hope that it will come into the hands of many in whose homes fish as not yet become an important part of the diet of the household." (Preface) The book is by no means outdated; in fact, it seemed quite contemporary: "In these days when the cost of living has become such an important factor, it is necessary for the average housewife to give careful thought to providing for her table. The articles procured must not only be reasonably cheap, but they must be palatable and nourishing." (Fish as Food)

First I started the tomato sauce:
One-half can tomatoes (I used a whole can); one-half onion, minced; three peppers (I used only one). Stew these together ten minutes.

Then I steamed the whitefish with just salt, pepper, lemon juice and slices of onion as the book recommended.

While the fish was cooking I returned to the sauce:
Melt one tablespoonful butter, add one heaping tablespoonful flour, strain the tomato on to this. Cook till it thickens, and pour around fish.

It made a nice light meal, a century ago and this evening.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Vicar's Vice

It is a great pleasure to get together with my great aunt for lunch when I return to the homeland.

A country church closed its door some 30 years ago. Six years ago it was turned into a restaurant. Although I have some misgivings about a bar in the chancel area, I heartily approve adaptive reuse of the fine old buildings. Using a building keeps it alive and maintained.

The restauranteur had some fun designing the menu . . . although with Auntie we'd have a good laugh even without the imaginative menus!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Shadows and Sunlight

Time flies over us, but leaves its shadow behind.
Nathaniel Hawthorne

Realizing that I lacked a photo for today's post I went for a walk to the neighbourhood park where I once played baseball as a kid. The diamonds are long gone with soccer all the rage but the park still hosts hundreds of children and their families every summer evening.

Out in right field I spent a lot of time pulling up dandelions. The loathed weed holds magical powers in my mind. Each feathered seed represents a dream that floats on the wind.

The park has always been a home for gulls, especially when a storm blows across the bay. The wonder of a feather: so delicate and yet so strong.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Thanks Be

For the beauty of the Earth,
for the glory of the skies,
for the love which from our birth
over and around us lies,
Lord of all, to thee we raise
this our hymn of thankful praise.
Folliot Pierpoint, 1864

I learned this hymn as a child and I still sing it to myself. Usually, it springs to mind when I find myself surrounded by nature's beauty - even when stopped at a traffic intersection. Only remembering the first verse, I (re)learned today that the hymn sings thanks for other blessings: family and friends. I am truly blessed!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

First Fall Fair

Harvest celebrations are happening everywhere and every weekend at least until Thanksgiving. We headed to the village of St. George today for their Applefest.

Apples could be bought in a number of fattening forms: candied, pied, frittered, and crisped.

The United Church congregation put on a lunch in their hall featuring soup, sandwich and apple crisp. Serving the food on china, rather than plastic or paper, plates was a nice touch. And they provided a carpet sample on each of the metal folding chairs so that patrons' buns stayed warm. Smart idea!

Our first stop: coffee. The Brown Dog Coffee Roastery & Frittery is housed in an old mill.

Great ambience. And the hot apple cider was deliciously warming.

Peeking into the kitchen I was surprised to see them making apple fritters from fresh ingredients. Having already ordered, I decided its worth another trip to St. George just to try this house specialty.

Along the highway a creative promotion entices people to next weekend's fair in a neighbouring community. Good times!

UPDATE: In case the photos above didn't entice you to visit St. George, a guest photographer shares some of his photos.

Coffee: morning nectar.

Hot chocolate is pretty good too.

Along the journey we spotted a beautiful bellfry in Lyndon. We spotted a similar bell with its giant pulley-wheel in the church in St. George. I was fascinated by these century-old constructions but couldn't get a photo no matter how I tried. Dad caught this one belonging to St. George United.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Butterflies & Burro(w)s

Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.
Nathaniel Hawthorne

The Time Traveller and I joined his mother for tea in her garden, a lovely sanctuary not only for us but for various species of insects, birds, and four-footed critters.

It offers milkweed to feed the caterpillars and a Buddleja bush for the butterflies. The lovely scent intoxicates.

After tea we visited the burros who live down the road. Very cute and, surprisingly, very short. How does an adult ride one?

Nearby, a groundhog kept close watch but let me get quite close before diving into his burrow. I figure he's a cousin of Wiarton Willie, so I'll name him "Ingersoll Iggy". Let's all meet under the tree on February 2nd to see if Iggy sees his shadow.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Happiness in Apples

Good apple pies are a considerable part of our domestic happiness.
Jane Austen

From the window I watched sparrows dance in the rain and then rest briefly on the garden love seat before resuming their birdtrot. All the while, singing. Raindrops caught what little sunlight there was and magnified it in their wobbly prisms.

It was a cool and rainy day. A perfect day for apple pie. We had bought the Cortland variety at the farmers' market last weekend. None of the names sounded familiar. Where are the apples of my youth? The Northern Spy or the Spartan? These are now termed 'heritage' apples. What a way to make a girl feel old!

The Cortlands remained firm after an hour in the oven. Firm is good, but these are a little too firm. Perhaps a full top crust would have produced better results. Under the blanket, cinnamon-infused steam could have softened the fruit. Further experimentation is definitely required. Stay tuned. ;-)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Bluebird Visit

Three Blue Jays dropped by this morning as I looked out the back window. What a sight! I was lucky that my camera was in hand.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Thank You, Mr. Uli

Dad introduced me to the "Rail Trail" with a 7km walk this morning. Perhaps he thought the hike would do me good after weeks of fruit pies? I wonder. In any case, we had a great hike along the old CN rail bed as it climbed the "Mountain". The grade is easy on account of the double-locomotives that had to pull the cars up the hill; nonetheless I'm sure to feel my leg muscles tomorrow!

I don't know Mr. Uli but I applaud his altruistic spirit. He created 305 stone steps that connect the "Rail Trail" with the "Bruce Trail" and the Mountain.

Government bureaucrats consider them unsafe. I think they're beautiful and much more of a pleasure to climb than the incongruous metal staircase that had the approval of the city's lawyers. Whoever you are Mr. Uli, "Thank you".

Only a few plants heralded the approach of Winter. Brrrrrrrrrr. Single digit temperatures are forecast for tonight.

The depth and vibrancy of colour caused my optic nerve to quiver.

Several types of berry lined the trail. Uncertain of their poisonous quotient, I did not collect any for a pie. ;-)

Bushes with tiny orchid-like flowers also decorated the trail.

I was enamored by everything we saw and came home with 49 pictures, in addition to wobbly thighs.