Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Winter wind

 On January 22 we had some high winds and our power was out for about 4 hours.
 The weather forecast had said that we would have this wind storm, so I was ready for it.  I had heated the soup.  Found the candles and flash lights.  We had plans for cooking on the wood burning stove in Pat's room.  Just like camping; we were going to have our treat... fried spam.  The power went off before lunch.  I spent the time building and maintaining a roaring fire in the fireplace, and Pat had his stove going.  I really like this fireplace heat but never seem to be bothered to make a fire.  The power came back on again before supper, but we had our fried spam anyway.  The house smelled rather like a campfire, so this worked well.  The photos were taken later in the evening when it was dark out.  These little lamps each contain a different alcohol based fuel that burns in the three colors.  Very pretty.
 During the storm, the birds were flocking around the suet feeder that Andy has hanging in the back patio area.  The humming birds were hungry too.
 Rufous sided towhee

There were more birds and I have more pictures, but do not have time to process them all.  Our big patchy colored robin still dominates the robin population this year.  Next year, maybe I will have to put the feeders out in the front, on the tree.  Maybe I will see the woodpeckers visiting again.  I want to see more butterflies and think too many birds might be bad for the butterfly population.  
Andy and Tara have moved into their own home and we have the suite empty again.  We will do some renovation -- floors and paint and then decide what we want to do with it.  Its kinda nice to have our home to ourselves again.  They might take an orange tree or two; but later.
Marlene and Art were over to dinner.  We had mulligatawny, smoked turkey legs with ratatouille and quinoa, with chocolate mousse for dessert.  Was all good.  They are thinking about whether or not they want an orange tree for their new place. They are slowly getting unpacked, too.
I have made batches of soup and ratatouille, and so have some good lunches and dinners on hand, without a lot work.  The indoor plants are watered and the laundry is done.  Now, I need to find some time to do some stuff on Megashot.net.  It seems I am going to be creating another community for butterflies.  An internet contact from Megashot and before who is from Oregon has become very gung ho about raising Monarchs.  This is very exciting and to be encouraged.  We need more monarchs on the West Coast.  I need to get some milkweed growing.  Dave has some plants on order already.  Last autumn I brought home a couple of milkweed seed pods.  I put the seeds into pots last Autumn and they have been on the deck for the winter.  I hope they sprout.  The milkweed seems to be on the noxious weed list.  Strange.   I don't see any of it growing here.  There are different kinds of it, so hopefully I will be able to find some plants at the nurseries later this year.   
I managed to get the rose by the front door pruned back a bit.  It has been very warm out today.  I also cut the butterfly bush back to about 12 inches high.  I stuck the cut ends in to the ground along the strip between our driveways.  Hopefully they will root.  These plants, too are suppose to be invasive.  I have never noticed too many of them around, either.  Broom... yeah... far too much of that stuff.  What good is it anyway?  Maybe sheep can eat it?

Friday, January 20, 2012

January - snow

We have snow!!!  Of course we all freeze in place for a day! But by the next morning the radio broadcasts are telling us that all the schools, and everything else, is business as usual.  All the photographers go crazy with trying to get the best exposure for the snow while it lasts.  I have a bizillion photos of birds and kids.  :))  I love the contrasts of the colors against the black and white.
By tomorrow, the snow will be gone.  It is raining and sure to wash it all away in a day.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Reviewing trip to SW US in March 2011

This is the Tonto monument in Arizona, the cliff dwellers habitat.  The photos on this post are from our trip to the South West US last March.  I have many more of them the best of which will eventually appear on web page.  Some of them will be added to my Megashot page as the spirit moves me to do.

We had a light covering of snow, that soon melted.  We are promised more for tomorrow.  Other places around us are getting much more of the white stuff. 

I have spent the a few hours after lunch cooking a double batch of ratatouille, and a big bowl of cole slaw.  Today, for lunch we finished the Curried Shrimp bisque which was delicious.
       Curried Shrimp Bisque

3   Tbsp. butter              1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1   Tbsp. curry powder        1/4 cup finely chopped celery
1/4 tspn paprika              1 garlic clove finely chopped
1   Tbsp tomato pase          3 1/2 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup light cream                  or vegetable stock
3   Tbsp. Flour                  Salt and pepper to taste               
200 grams cooked shrimp (1/2 lb.)
2 green onions, finely chopped
2 oz. brandy (.5 oz per serving)

Melt the butter in a soup pot over medium heat.
Add the onion, celery and garlic; and cook until tender,
3 to 4 minutes.
Mix in the flour, curry, paprika and tomato paste and
blend well.  While stirring gradually add the stock.
Bring to a gentle simmer and cook 15 minutes.
Add the shrimp, saving a few to garnish the top.
I blenderize it and put it back in the pot.
Add the cream (I use 2% milk) Cook 3 to 4 minutes more.
Divide the brandy among 4 heated bowls.  Pour in the soup.
Sprinkle with green onions and saved shrimp, and serve.
Makes 4 servings.

Note:  I had some fish stock with chunks of salmon to use
and about 1/3 of the stock was chicken and the other third
was vegetable.
I used OLD BAY SEASONING (1 tbsp) instead of paprika and
salt and pepper. I used extra tomato paste, also.
It turned out very well.
Note 2:  Irene left me a big can of the OLD BAY SEASONING
that she bought when they were down East on their long trip

I have been reading Magnus Magnusson's  'Scotland - The Story of a Nation'.  It doesn't exactly move along.  You have to really want to know this history of Scotland to get through this 700 page volume.  It has its moments though. 

Thursday, January 12, 2012

January gardening

 A walk in the park from a few days ago.
 While on my walk I stopped to snap the flock of geese that were feeding on the school grounds.  Of course, Leroy and his little friends who were also out for their walk had other ideas about the geese.
 The geese
 The school grounds in a panorama with the little Sony
 I guess this is the last rose of the year.
And the first snowdrop of the year... both on the same day.
On two days this week I spent two hours in the garden.  It was wonderful to be out.  I have been  cutting back the perennials and doing a bit of clean up.  I cut back some of the Virginia creeper and some of the mountain ash.  I cleaned most of the leaves off of the moss garden and the dry stream.  And off the alpines and the thyme circle in the front garden.  The vegetable garden, grass and some of the perennials have had lime spread on them.  Then I added  a 1.75 kg box of bone meal, mostly on where the bulbs are to be soon coming up.  I spent a bit of time digging up some of the blue bells that are spreading like crazy at the back.  These are a campanula bulb and are rather nice in small bunches. These plants are sprouting up leaves and so are easy enough to dig out.  Trouble is, I am not sure if all of them are the bluebells.  I have noticed that some of the dutch iris are up.  I expect to see the Saxatillis species tulips, that grow in the same area in the back garden woodland strip, coming up soon too.  I can keep the bluebells under control a bit if I do not let them go to seed, and do more digging them out when I find out which ones they are for sure. 
The weather this Fall and Winter has been almost balmy.  It has been freezing lightly over night and this week the days have been sunny and up 10 degrees.

Friday, January 06, 2012

January - Happy New Year!

 this is a photo of the Fraser River, at a photostop over looking this great deep chasm.  We stopped here, just before Lilloet, on our way home from Barkersville last August.  We took the Duffy Lake Road back.  It is a very challenging drive, with many switch backs with 20 km hairpin turns and very steep grades.  Our brakes were smokin'. 
 this is something from 2006, shot with my Canon S3IS at the Tillamook Aviation Museum. 
 This is a shot from our moving Bentley, on the New Year's day run with the VCCC.  I was using my little Sony and laughed to see it capture this wonderful flare on a random shot out of the car window.  This photo lead me to an enjoyable couple of hours reading about auras.  I checked out the color of my aura  and think it was blue... the first time.  :-))  Now this lady seems to have violet and even a few sprinkles of silver (which seems to be the major fairy dust)  I have to work on getting some of that stuff!  I probably should be adding hot links ... but .... hey... who has the time to follow them?

these wild flower shots were taken at the tourist information building at Wells, B.C., just before our visit to Barkerville, B.C. in August.  I was moved to look them up because I was pursuing an idea of making the front grass strip of my garden into a wild flower meadow.  This strip of grass is now called the crocus field and has crocus bulbs blooming in the Spring.  Imagine, if, in August, it could look like this.  And so, I went to find some wild flower seeds that I might use to over seed this grass.  I found a very interesting site ... that I actually have been aware of for some time... West Coast Seeds  And then, while looking at the wild flower blends, I came upon a Butterfly Garden blend.  One thing lead to another, of course, and hours later I was prompted by Pat, that it might be time to make the supper.    On the topic of the butterfly garden... I had saved a pod of seeds from the milkweed which is the flower that the monarch butterfly larvae feed.  I have planted the seeds.  I hope they grow.  But, the plants are available from nurseries, too.  The monarch butterflies recently suffered a reduction in numbers when there was a killing frost in their Mexican over wintering home.  There is someone on our Island who breeds Monarchs and releases them.  I am not seeing them ... I guess I don't have any milkweed plants for them. 
As you can see, over the past week, I have been all over the map, with my hobbies and interests.  In addition to the above I now have my copy of the Amen Solution.  My brother, Dan, mentioned this book to me, with regard to weight loss.  I was down to Russel books to pick  it up, after they had ordered the paperback version in for me.  The on-line only had the expensive hard cover copy.  Its an interesting book.  Dr. Amen is probably making a fortune on his books and solutions for weight loss.  I won't link it.  If you want it, you will find it.  One of the foods mentioned in the book... after a very quick scan ... was stevia.  I googled this and find that it is a herb, called sweet leaf.  The seeds are available but hard to germinate, and it is annual.  The made up portions are actually less expensive than the seeds.  This is a herb that the Japanese and South Americans have used for years.  I believe a derivative of it is used by the Coca Cola company in a specific brand of their sodas now.... but I could not be bothered to follow up on that, as all Cola products and Pepsi taste like dirt, to me.  I seldom drink pop or soda or soft drinks of any kind.  Was interesting to see them using stevia as a sweete4ner, though.
On a completely different tangent, as I returned home from my walk today, I noticed an empty beer can thrown on my front garden.  As I picked it up, I noticed a snowdrop in bud in the front garden!  This is January? right?