Sunday, October 31, 2010

Autumn Birds

The robin was posing for me in the plum tree that was dressed in its best Autumn colors.
It was a long shot at the Jay as it was sitting at the top of one of the cedar trees.

There has been many more birds in the garden recently.  With the high winds we had a few days ago lots of apples were on the ground again.  I picked them up and put a couple dozen of them across the road into the deer pasture.  Pat picked a large bucket full off the tree and put half of them through the juicer for about a quart of apple juice.  I guess we could freeze this juice if we make more.  There are lots of apples left on the tree.

I have finally got the house cleaned up.  It looks a lot better.  Our Scotish guests will be here in a few days and we both have hospital and doctors appointments that seem to be filling up the calendar for November.  I have been walking more and so have had less and less time on the computer, which is not an entirely bad thing.  I need to up date my page to add yet another under construction page for our St.Lawrence Seaway and Rideau Canal cruises. I am only 5 years behind in making the albums!

Megashot is growing like crazy.  I must find the time to continue the meet and greet to new members.  Actually, it works good, I think, for me to be a few days behind in this.  This gives them a bit of time to look around and figure out how to do things, maybe upload a few photos, etc.  They can always use a bit of encouragement at this point in time.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

This is one of my hostas in its October colors.  I seem to be having quite an adventure with this new uploader. 
This is shooting towards the woodland in my back garden.  In the foreground is the small tree that is in the Arbutus family.  Very messy.  It is dropping berries on the sidewalk now.  The birds are suppose to like it, but I never see them eating these berries.  In the background on the left is a Japanese cedar.  It is an evergreen that is bronze in summer and organish/red now and in winter.  In the middle is the momentary colors of the sumac trees.
I had two fuschias in a cedar planter on the deck this year.  I hope they survive the winter.  I should cover them once the colder weather arrives.

Yesterday I made a birthday card for Irene.  It was quite fun to do.  I hope she likes it. We replenished the ink supply for my printer today.  :-)  It took me several tries to get the card made properly with all four pages of it with the top up and the right reverse side..  fun, though. 
After getting home from shopping and lunch (Squash soup with pesto.. yum) I went out to trim back the branches of the front liquid amber tree.  We had high winds for a few hours last night.  The tree branches were whipping around very close to the living room window.  Our power was out for a few hours. The next wind storm should not be a worry with regard to the branches.  I took the pole pruner saw and cut them back quite far.  One of the branches I had to reach by standing on a chair.  I stood on the chair to cut back the burning bush also.  It is now at a height of about 10 feet and should bush out more.  I trimmed the simplicity rose, also while I was working in that corner.  The roses are nearly finished and I will be soon cutting back all of them.  The cuts on the liquid amber tree are not professional, but they are not too bad.  This should keep the tree in check for a few years now. 
The apple tree is in terrible shape.  I will be pruning it and the plum tree also.  I took a few apples to the deer pasture again.  The deer do seem to be eating them, as they disappeared when I last put a few out there.
I have the humming bird feeder out and are getting visits.  There are numerous birds in the back yard. When I was out today there was a gorgeous little wren no more than 18 inches from me... no camera, alas.  There are uncos, sparrows of different kinds, tit mouse, robins, jays, woodpeckers, alaska robins, wrens, humming birds.   Its a treat to watch them.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Autumn harvest

When we visited the Upper Canada Village they were holding a Fall Fair and sale.  There were all kinds of canned produce, fresh produce, quilts, needlework, and many other items produced in the Village.  The gardens in the homes in the village were marvelous.  Huge tomatoe plants.  I suppose the horses in use in the village contribute to the well grown gardens.  Its a wonderfully interesting place.  I will eventually have more photos of this place.
Yesterday, I shopped for pesto making ingredients and walked home from the mall.  After lunch, I prepared the pesto from this recipe:
Fresh Basil Pesto Recipe


    * 2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
    * 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano or Romano cheese
    * 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
    * 1/3 cup pine nuts or walnuts
    * 3 medium sized garlic cloves, minced
    * Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

    * Special equipment needed: A food processor (Check's sales on Cuisinart food processors)


1 Combine the basil in with the pine nuts, pulse a few times in a food processor. (If you are using walnuts instead of pine nuts and they are not already chopped, pulse them a few times first, before adding the basil.) Add the garlic, pulse a few times more.

2 Slowly add the olive oil in a constant stream while the food processor is on. Stop to scrape down the sides of the food processor with a rubber spatula. Add the grated cheese and pulse again until blended. Add a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Makes 1 cup.
I did not have enough basil, so I substituted one cup of spinach leaves.
To preserve the pesto be sure there is a thin layer of oil over the top.
Serve with pasta, or over baked potatoes, or spread over toasted baguette slices.

My interest in the pesto began with the recipe for quinoa, squash soup with pesto.  The soup recipe:
Quinoa Soup with Squash and Pesto

2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
1 celery rib, finely chopped
3 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 lb. cleaned banana squash peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/3 cup quinoa
1 (14 oz.) can diced tomatoes
2 Tbsp.pesto
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Place the oil in a pot set over medium heat.  Add the onion and celery and cook 3 to 4 minutes to soften.
Add the stock, squash, quinoa and tomatoes and bring to a slow simmer.  Simmer 15 to 18 minutes, or until the squash and quinoa are tender.
Stir in pesto, salt and pepper and serve.
Note:  I freeze the soup, and so add the pesto after reheating and just before serving.

The pesto turned out very well and the soup is delicious.  I have two large jars of the soup and two small jars of the pesto.
We got a large frozen salmon and cut it up into salmon steaks.  I took the boney parts and made up fish stock from a recipe found on line.  It contains bit of celery, onion, garlic,  carrot, parsnip, ginger root, salt, pepper. bay leaf,  white wine, and maybe a couple of other spices that I don't remember.  I did not copy this recipe.  The stock turned out very nice and I have 5 half cup jars frozen for the next fish or seafood chowders that I make.  Having the chicken stock on hand to use in the squash soup was a real plus and I am sure the good homemade stock contributes to the good taste of the soups.  I am making soups lately because the store bought ones just have too much salt.  AND, I am really enjoying the taste of the soups as well as making them.  Easting them also cuts back on the calories too, I am sure.

Today Pat had a question about what coriander was and so in searching the net I found this information place.

Oh my!  I thought I had lost this whole post, and I had, except that Blogger has 'drafts' saved as you compose your post.  I found the draft under edit posts or drafts and published it!   Good stuff!

Some Autumn Color

Last Sunday we went on the VCCC run with the Bentley, on a sunny warm day.  I took the opportunity to get a photo of the Virginia Creeper that goes up the telephone post by our driveway.  It's colors are spectacular in the sun.  Some other flowers of Autumn are the michaelmas daisies, cyclamens pansies, mums, autumn crocuses, sedums.  The trees are beginning to turn colors and the rains have started.  

I have been walking more.  The housework is slowly getting caught up. 

Megashot is slowly growing.  The critique forum is very active and we have a few new communities.  

I just finished reading a short book on Alexander the Great.  It had a surprising amount of good information for the size of it.  For pure enjoyment, on our trip, and after I read a couple of novels by Rollins.  I picked up a copy of Stephan Hawking's latest book and find it rather tough going.  I am sure it would be far more interesting if I knew more physics or was more interested in the topic.  So, I will delve back into another history on Cyrus the Great, next.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Autumn on the Rideau Canal

 The Kowartha Voyageur going through a lock on the Rideau Canal
 This is shooting at the locks of the Rideau Canal from on the bridge in Ottawa
A sparkling water photo using my CS filter
The Canadian Empress and the Kowartha Voyageur tied up at the dock in Kingston.
The new uploader on my blog is not working properly.  This photo was shot in the vertical format in my camera by turning the camera around.  Now the clever uploader thinks it knows better about how the photo was taken.  I suppose I shall have to go to photoshop and turn the photo again, so the wretched uploader will load it properly.   Dammit!!
Well now the uploader refuses to upload the turned photo.  I suppose I shall have to take out the wrong one and try the turned version.  Let me try with another one shot in vertical and turned just for this uploader.
Ok, that seems to do it.  Just turn it in photoshop and turn it back again.  This is a shot of reflections of some of the colors along the Rideau Canal
There, then!  bother!!!

We had our Thanksgiving day feast on Sunday.  It was duck and delicious.  With the pumpkin pie and all, of course, there was far too much to eat.  I made duck soup from the brownings in the roasting pan.  We had the left over duck on Monday and I made more soup from the bones.  I now have about 6 servings of duck soup frozen.  The last batch was cooked a bit too long and is not as good as the first one I made.
Duck Soup reciepe
Boil the bones of the duck in about 1 gallon of water for one to one and a half hours.  Remove the bones by draining the broth over a colander and catching the bones and meat in it.  Remove the meat from the bones and set aside.  Place the broth back into the pot.

Chop and add vegetables: 3 sticks of celery, 1 large cooking onion, 2 carrots, 1 cup of lentils, half cup parsley, 2 cloves of garlic, and add to the broth.
Add spices:  dash of mild curry powder, black pepper, dash of salt, oregano, basil, rosemary to taste, and a bay leaf.

While the vegetables are cooking chop the meat and return it to the broth.

Add one can of stewed tomatoes.

Simmer, don't over cook or it will be mushy.  Since I freeze some of this soup, I actually under cook it as it cooks more when being warmed up, of course.

On Monday, I tweaked a few of the photos of the locks in operation, that Pat wanted.  I have a file started for the photos from this trip that I will eventually be adding to my web page under travel.  I am five years behind in this endeavor, so it might be a while before I get this album added.

Yesterday I walked to the lottery ticket store.  I stayed on the street instead of going through the park on the chip trail.  A bear has been seen in the Cardova Bay area, and so I don't want to take any chances of encountering one, in our area.

Its a lovely day again today.  I have managed to update the Model T page on my web page.  None of these albums are finished, but I am slowly getting the list compiled.  I was moved to do this update after seeing a photo on Megashot of the Elbow Falls.  We were on a Model T Ford International meet in 2005 that took us to these Falls and I have a few good photos of it.


Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Rideau Canal and St. Lawrence Seaway trip

 This is one of the last locks we went through on our Rideau Canal Cruise - The Lower Brewster Lock
This in Kingston, a tribute to Sir John A. MacDonald, our first Prime Minister
This is the furnicular in Quebec City
 I am attaching a copy of Pat's version of our trip:
 We both enjoyed our Eastern Canadian jaunt very well. You may recall we were looking forward to this a year ago, as to book the cruises for the fall colours that's what it takes. Arrangements for the air travel were made through the Visa card points people by telephone this time, and went reasonably well. The first flight to Vancouver was around 8:00 am and was the earliest departure encountered, every other was very civilized. A direct flight to Ottawa landed there mid-afternoon, and we had booked accomodations for overnight. We got one of the shabbier rooms in the place, and probably should have complained, but for one overnight we didn't. A mid-day train took us down to Kingston next day, and we met another couple destined for the Canadian Empress cruise where we were advised to wait if arriving early. Dinner was aboard that evening, and we were guests of St Lawrence Cruise Lines for the next 6 nights among 60-some other passengers.Most were Americans, the rest Canadian. The Thousand Islands lie at the entry to the St Lawrence and have some lavish properties on display. All travel was in daylight, we tied up at various points for the night. Mansions, castles and viewing towers were visited along the way, Upper Canada Village was a highlight. It's a living museum staffed with characters from early times, appropriately costumed and informative of the trades they represented. Pat got behind the scene to view the over-sized clockwork mechanism of the sawmill feeder and reciprocating blade, run by a waterwheel on the millpond below. The flour miller was visited, the tinsmith was entertaining some school students, apprenticed to him for the day making candle-holder wall sconces. The cobbler told us he gets paid, he's not an independantly wealthy eccentric volunteer as was suggested. A horse-drawn wagon took us around the grounds at first, then they turned us loose to wander. The "village people" also wandered around, chatting with each other. As one of the wagon drivers had a lengthy gray beard I was moved to remark he looked more ZZ Top than the Village People!
  A two hour tour of Montreal was included and was very informative. Another tour at Trois Rivieres went to the Shrine of Notre-Dame-Du-Cap. At Quebec City we all disembarked and then we had a couple of days on our own to tour and visit. The hotel we picked from the internet was really good, central to restaurants and central in the old town. We can recommend The Clarendon to other travellers. As with most people spoken to, we agree Quebec City has much to recommend. On the last morning the Funicular ( inclined elevator)  took us down to the lower level of the old town, which has all the tourist shops, and an electric bus got us back up  to our hotel. If the driver was understood the bus has a range of 100 miles and takes 8 hours to recharge. Capacity was about 10 seated and maybe another 4-5 standees. It ran smooth and quiet, and I'm sure seasonally as they bragged about substantial snowfall, and the regular tour bus driver said he too is only seasonal, the topography being among the hilliest this side of San Francisco!
  Trains, and boats and planes! Rail to Montreal, a nice hotel, The Bonaparte in the shadow of Notre Dame Basilica was recommended by the Captain on the Canadian Empress, and we found another city tour and walked about as much as we wanted. McGill University is a major presence in the city, and contributes greatly to the viability of the city core where it is situated. Most places we were greeted in both english and french, and they could continue in either as per our response.
  Ottawa is similarly bilingual. The train had us back there for another couple of nights. This time the upgraded room was specified, a vast improvement over last visit. Good places to eat are everywhere at the Byward Market, between the Hotel and Parliament. They have hop on, hop off busses and trolleys which are a favorite way to see a city, get the layout , then return selectively to the good stuff, this one included an informative cruise for a couple of hours on the Ottawa River. The Museum of Civilization was enjoyed again, over on the Gatineau side. This time we made a point of seeing the Parliament Building, and went up into the Peace Tower. Visability was good despite some overcast skies, Marg took some pictures, not sure how many "keepers". The Museum of Nature was closed when we tried to visit on Monday, before going to meet the next cruise boat.
  The next 5 nights were on board the Ontario Waterways ship Kawartha Voyageur.Again we tied up each night. Smaller by design to fit in the Rideau Canal locks, and under assorted bridges, this one has 47 passengers, all were Canadian, mostly from Ontario, 5 from BC and 2 Newfoundlanders. There were 30-some locks between Ottawa and Kingston, all like parks, as Parks Canada operate the canal. The fall colours were coming along nicely, but not quite peaking, and this was the last cruise for this year. The Rideau River is interconnecting lakes, and where the river isn't navigable due to falls or rapids, there is the canal and locks. All are gravity flow, no pumps, just like when it was first dug by hand , in the 1830's. As a world heritage site the old method of hand-opening and closing the locks continues. The personnel crank up these drums winding up chains that push the gates shut, or open, and similar drums open or close valves to let water in or out. It's primitive, laborious, and a beautifully simple event to witness. Staff from the boat send a tray of coffees and treats of baked goods down to the locks staff at each lock, as they explained the people may sometimes stay on longer or come on early to man the locks as required for the ship to pass. The locks people also operate several swing bridges, stopping road traffic to allow the ship to pass. Some bridges were manually pushed, all were counter-balanced, and my favorites were a couple that needed a stem-winding device, an Iron rod bent 30 degrees which engaged a gear-drive in the middle of the bridge deck. The guy would insert the big handle and walk around in a circle pushing against the handle which turned a small gear under the bridge, turning the small gear engaged with a larger gear attached to the underside of the deck, swinging it around 90 degrees to open the canal. These bridges were mostly single-lane width.
  There had to be a couple of rainy days, nothing serious, and mostly indoor things doing at those times, except when at Fort Wellington near Prescott, Ontario. Walking around Westport in the rain wasn't appealing either, so staying on board was the easier choice.
  Another couple of days in Kingston almost got us into their Chili Festival, it's a very big deal! Between it and a convocation at Royal Military College, rooms were at a premium, a good thing we'd enquired earlier and booked at the Holiday Inn, both ships we travelled on tie up on the doorstep, and there they both were shortly afer our arrival. Another trolley tour showed the points of interest, then we walked about to see some things on our own. Sir John A. MacDonald lived here, they have much history to share, as this was proposed as first capitol of Canada. Queens University is central in the city, lending support to the vitality of the community.
  Another train ride and back to Ottawa for connections to Toronto and home, arriving evening of Tuesday last, October 5th. We were away three weeks in total, returning to a couple of nice sunny days, and now for a day or two of seasonal rain.
 I think that's most of it!  "

  I have quite a few photos that might be keepers.  I will eventually get them added to my web page, but as I am 5 years behind in creating the albums it might be awhile before it gets done.  There is music on that page, so it might load slower.  :-)
The garden is looking pretty good.  The colors are beginning to change.  The lawn is green and needs mowing.  We have had some rain, it seems.  The grapes are ready for eating.  The apple tree is loaded and some have dropped to the ground.  I will collect them and take them over to the deer pasture.  
I have a lot of catching up to do on Megashot too.  That link is my referral code that takes you to the Megashot site to register or look around.  If you register using my referral code I will benefit from it when or if you become a paying member and the same will happen with your account when you invite friends to join using your code.  :-)  There has been a lot of good activity lately in the critique forum and in the communities.
While I was away I discovered that Google had deleted my Adsence account for invalid activity.  Well, I am somewhat disappointed but I can see their point in protecting their advertisers.  I don't know how to get rid of the empty space on my blog where the ads were placed by them just under my post and don't have time to figure it out just now, so I will have to live with that empty space.  Its a good reminder to think before acting with greed and stupidity. 
Ok, I do believe I have found how to remove the space!  I was certainly not going to get rich on Google Ads anyway, but it was fun and interesting to set it up and see how it worked.