End of Year Thoughts

I’ve never taken a  break from blogging since I started this blog in 2011, but I think it’s time for a breather until after the new year.

At this time, I often think about people who have lost loved ones they miss even more than usual around this traditional family time. I tell myself that if it were me, I would manage to get through the hardest times by remembering the lost ones with good memories of them. If I need to have a little cry in private, so be it, but then I would pull myself together and try to focus on the joy of others.

Soon a new day will begin. It will be just another day without all the traditions that come with bittersweet memories attached, but it will be a new day and a challenge for me to make the most of it.

I like to think ahead and make plans and goals and things to look forward to – one of the reasons I love January.

I want to thank you all for being there. Blogging would not be fun without you.

I hope that, whatever form your celebrations take at this time of year, you have lots of warm, fuzzy  times with friends and family. I look forward to seeing you on your blogs and mine in the new year.

Wind and Rain

Yesterday, on a rare sunny day I was coming home from town when I had to make a quick photo stop. The mist and cloud formations across the bay were ominous, warning of the next weather system coming in.

*Warning* Wet camera lens was an ongoing problem.

I turned the camera back towards town. The spread of the clouds stretched along the far hills. In the water is a long row of posts that has been there ever since I can remember. Not sure what purpose they once served, unless it was a  navigation guide. The posts still stick out at high tide and warn boaters of the bar.

As you can see below, some posts still show in places where the bar is farther below the surface, and the trunk of a long-dead tree is hung up on the gravel. This is not where you want your boat to end up. Seagulls and a heron sit on the log like sentinels warning of hazards to navigation.

After a slightly deeper stretch of water, the bar comes up again and continues into the bay. A river flows along the side of the bar that is closest to us (at the bottom of the photo), while the water beyond is a shallow bay that is a mudflat at very low tide. If you want to bring a boat up the river, you need to know where the channel is or end up with seagulls sitting on your hull.

The sandbar is a popular place for birds to dabble and sun themselves. Sometimes you’ll find ducks and geese there; sometimes, like this day, seagulls.

The sun came blasting through the clouds for one last look at me. I clicked the camera as I looked back into its blinding light, knowing I might not see this light for days ahead.

This morning I see that I was right. Looking out my living room window, I saw what was behind those first clouds I saw yesterday – a blast of southeast duck weather.

It’s a good day to stay home while the Captain goes duck hunting.

*****

Winter on the coast is wet,

Wind and rain is all you get,

Sometimes there’s a glimpse of sun,

Just five minutes, then it’s done,

Back we go to wind and rain,

Hope by spring I’m not insane.

 

Easy Plum Squares

List of ingredients is at the end of the post.

Don’t be fooled by this butter picture. I tried to use less than the recipe called for and it didn’t work. You need the full cup of butter for the crumble to stick together.

So! Put one full cup of butter into the food processor. Then add the flour, salt, and cinnamon. Give it a few pulses until the butter is finely mixed with the flour mixture. THEN add the sugar and rolled oats and give it a couple more very short pulses – just enough to mix it all in.

Why not put it all in together? If you put the sugar in sooner, it makes the butter smear a little, and if you put the rolled oats in right away, the blades will cut the flakes up into a fine oat mixture. I like to see the flakes and keep them coarser, but if you want them to be smooth, you know what to do.

Pour about two-thirds of the mixture into an ungreased pan and press it flat with gentle pressure using your hands.

Now for the plums. I have plum trees in my backyard so in the fall, I wash, cut and freeze the plums, 24 to a bag because that’s how many it takes to make a cake. They thaw easily in warm water  for use in this recipe. If you have plums available in the store you can buy them to make this cake. If not, you may want to substitute some other fruit at this point. Apples, pears, apricots, and dates should work well for this dish. I wouldn’t try it with berries as they would make too much liquid, but most other fruit is very forgiving as a substitute.

I’ve tried it with apples and pears and they work very well. With pears, I’ve used powdered ginger instead of cinnamon.

Notice that the plums are placed skin side down, so the juice doesn’t soak into the bottom layer of crumble.

Sprinkle the last third of the crumble mixture over top of the plums (or whatever fruit you use).

Bake at 350 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes. Usually when the fruit starts to bubble, it’s time to take the cake out of the oven.

When the cake is cool, cut it into squares and top with ice cream, whipped cream, or have it just plain. It’s good no matter how you serve it.

Ingredients:

1 cup flour

1 cup butter

2/3 cup brown sugar (I cut this down from 1 cup)

1 and 3/4 cups rolled oats (large flakes)

1/4 tsp. salt

1 tsp. cinnamon (or ginger if using pears)

24 plums (or enough of whatever other fruit you use to make one layer)

Bake 350 for 40 to 45 minutes.

 

One Misty, Moisty Morning

One misty, moisty morning,

When cloudy was the weather,

There I met an old man,

Clothed all in leather.

Clothed all in leather,

With a cap under his chin.

How do you do?

And how do you do?

And how do you do again?

 

Montucky posted such beautiful photos of the mist in the mountains in this post: https://montucky.wordpress.com/2018/11/28/in-between/

that I felt inspired to run out onto the deck to take some misty photos of my own. They are nowhere as beautiful as Montucky’s, and nowhere near as remote, but it’s what we have here close to town.

Looking at the mist hanging in the trees took me back to a childhood nursery rhyme. Do any of you remember it? I think nursery rhymes are becoming a forgotten treasure of our childhood. I’d hate for them to disappear like these mists will do in an hour or so.

The Monster Sink

After 27 years, the taps and faucet in our bathroom sink needed to be replaced. Not only was the calcium residue winning the battle I waged with it all those years, but the material in the collar around the base of the taps was breaking down. It was time for a change.

The Captain bought a new faucet and taps and set to work. Ruby was very interested in what was happening to the sink, but Emma, at the bottom of the photo, was not at all sure where that gray monster as big as herself, had come from or what it was doing there. She kept well away from it.  Who knew what it could do, especially with those metal feelers reaching out towards her?

She tried barking at it, but it stayed there, apparently unmoved, so Emma stayed in the corner near the door so she could beat a quick retreat if necessary.

Eventually, and not without a lot of extra problems, the Captain finished the job. The O-ring that came with the new set was the wrong size. Then the plastic of the drain pipe under the sink broke and had to be replaced with a new piece. That new piece had threading that was a different size from the old one (we thought it might be the change from the standard measurements to metric, but no, the supplier told the Captain it was just that different brands have different specs). Can you imagine trying to plumb a house with those inconsistencies?

At last, the new faucet set was installed and everyone was relieved that the job was done, especially Emma.


I made a short video clip of Emma’s interaction with the monster sink. The Captain growled, mean of him, and Emma looked for safety.

 

A Flicker of Light

Sitting in the dark in my living room at about 6:30 this morning, I was surprised by the contrasting colour of the two levels of clouds — one layer of light gray and one of very dark gray. It gave me the shivers to think of the wind and rain that were coming our way.

I was not disappointed. It blew and dumped rain on us. Once the moisture had been thrown into our faces, the clouds lifted (that’s not the same as going away) and the sky brightened up.

The flicker looked up from his perch in the black walnut tree and called to his buddy who had just flown away, “What do you think, Dear? Is this it for today, or is there more coming? Should we find a more sheltered tree to peck on?”

 

Flicker eyes the roiling sky

Shakes himself and gives a cry,

Shudders at the force of storm,

Sodden feathers, not the norm.

Hoping sun comes shining through,

Flicker asks, “What will I do?

If the next storm is as wild

While I’m wishing it were mild.

Friends will fly away from here, 

I’ll be left alone, I fear.

Wait! I see a glimpse of sun.

Surely I’m the happy one.”

Lunacy

The moon was full just a couple of days ago, on November 22.

Somehow, by brightening the night sky, the moon helps take away the gloom of the dull, cloudy days we’ve been having.

I took this picture from my back door, quick, quick, before the moon disappeared behind a cloud.

The moon is associated with magical and mythical things: omens, spells, fictitious creatures (vampires) and of course, with love.

Some moon expressions I have found:

Mooning around — to pine or grieve about something.

Moon someone — to show someone one’s nude posterior.

Moonshine — high-proof distilled spirits, usually produced illicitly.

Moonlight — work at two jobs.

Reach for the moon — aim for a high goal.

Over the moon — to be extremely happy.

The man in the moon — the shadowy shape on the moonscape that looks like a man’s face.

Promise the moon — make a promise that is impossible to keep.

Go between the moon and the milkman — take flight between dark and dawn.

Moonraker — a light square sail set above the sky sail.

Once in a blue moon — seldom (as when a full moon occurs twice in one month).

Shoot the moon — to take a great risk for great rewards.

Bay at the moon —  make appeals in vain.

The moon is made of green cheese – not really the colour green, but referring to the pale yellow colour of “green” (unripe) cheese.

Moon over —  waste time pining or grieving.

Moon-blindness (mooneye) – recurrent inflammation of a horse’s eye, often resulting in eventual blindness.

Lunatic – unstable person.

Loony – crazy.

Honeymoon – holiday immediately after getting married.

Moonface — a round face.

Moonstruck — very much in love.

Moondog (Mock moon) — a relatively rare bright circular spot on a lunar halo, caused by the refraction of light from ice crystals in cirrus clouds.

The Moonies — a religious cult that had a strong hold on (usually) young people they recruited. Named for its Korean founder Sun Myung Moon.

Blood moon — the reddish colour of the moon when it is in eclipse between the earth and the sun.

And then there is our Canadian dollar – the loonie. I suppose it was meant to be named after that beautiful bird, the loon, but to me is seemed like lunacy to downgrade our currency by making our dollar into a piece a small change.

*****

Do you know of some moon expressions?  How about moon boots? The list seems to be endless.