Toes to my daughter

I have always had problems with my feet, ever since I can remember and especially since I had bi-lateral bunionectomies (!) when I was just 16. I think the bunions, which are essentially extra calcium deposits, were helped along by the ubiquitous foot x-ray machines that popped up in every shoe store for awhile in the late 50's early 60's. Regardless, had the big boney bumps removed and couldn't walk properly for 2 months, and had lovely garbage bags as sox for a week or two, but I eventually heeled -er, healed - and the only residual foot issue is that they ache quite a lot, and yearn to be rubbed and massaged frequently....ahhhhhhhah hhha....

So when my daughter came home recently for a holiday, imagine how sublimely happy I was when she insisted that we go shopping for stuff...like nail polish, foot scrub, and cute ickle remover! Peddie party time!!

Amazing how polished the colours have become in the past three decades! I mean really! There was an entire array of colours, a complex rainbow of polishes, some for before, some for during, some for after. Some with sparkles, some with hints of sunlight, some with gold dusting...who knew the little piggies could have so many choices? And after much consideration, having picked a colour, that it would be so satisfying! To look down and see a ruby toed ankle-ender simply glowing! Or a brilliantly hued turquoise bouquet of tiny toes...that's something that calls for a celebration!

So here's a toes to you my clever colourful daughter for putting your foot down and refusing to let me feel defeeted!


Fun gal injections

Well, it's been raining just about every day all summer here in the woods of eastern Ontario, and now that we've become an inland rain forest, lots of strange and slightly sinister fungi are showing up.
Saffron yellow, deadly poisonous.

Amanita, don't a eata. (sorry, it's the rain that's rotting my brain!)

Can't find this slightly floral looking one in my guide book. Not about to pick this posey.

This might be a bathtub fungus (or Sparassis crispa)...the guide says I can eat it to flavour a souffle. Ha! Over my dead body!

Oh gross! Look at that thing! I have a slight aversion to slime...especially the moving variety with little antennae attached to one end of its body!

In a previous life I would have been a gatherer. I absolutely love mushrooms, and especially ones I pick for free in the fields. Those one's I trust. The forest varieties? Them I leave for the witches, haints, and slugs.


Defining Summer ...

Some things say "Summer" more than others.
Soaking up the sun on a kayak in the middle of the river is definitely
a summer thing I long to do (just like my daughter's doing in this shot)...
especially when it's 40 below, and the wind's howling and it's the middle of January!

Daisies say "Summer" too. They're so bright and cheerful, and compliant! They're pretty and perky, and bend with the breezes, and they're not overpowering, like uh... Begonias.

I never knew 'til I planted some this summer that I'm not really all that fussy about Begonias. In fact, they're too much really! They remind me of someone's old Aunty Flo, who's a little gin fizzled, her hair's awry, her lipstick is smeared, and she's about to start crying. I'd never even given Begonia's a thought before this summer but there you have it. I prefer the pert and sassy daisy! Sort of the cheerleader of flowers. Ol' Flo is just too much of a good thing, gone overboard.

The plants I really love, which deserve the Best Plants of the Garden Award, are Hostas and Ferns. I have lots of both, and they're the Dignitaries of the Sideyard. They add culture, class, texture, and subtlety (unlike a Begonia which will never win an award for tact). They appear every year, just as they are supposed to, they perform perfectly, and they're really no trouble at all. They're diplomatic, and if they were movie stars, they would be the Cary Grants and Katherine Hepburns of the plant world, you know, movie stars of my parent's era, which had more filler and less thriller.


You Ate What?

Right now I'm reading "The Art of Eating" a collection of essays on food, and the love of it by M.F. K. Fisher. It's a wonderful book that is fun, witty, wise and interesting. And it made me think of all sorts of odd things we eat in the course of a lifetime.
In 1967, my mother, Eleanor A. Ellis, wrote "The Northern Cookbook" as the Canadian centennial project for her department within the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs. Intended for use as a text book for students across northern Canada, it is a compilation of recipes and techniques for harvesting and cooking country food aka beaver, moose, seal, ptarmigan, goose, rabbit...all sorts of fish and game. There's also recipes for breads, fruits, veggies and a whole section entitled "Pointers from Pioneers".
Mom always claimed that she had tried every single recipe that she collected in her abundant travels across the Yukon and North West Territories (now Nunavut). I have a little trouble seeing her working with this nugget for Baked Skunk: "Clean, skin, wash. Bake in oven with salt and pepper. Tastes like rabbit. (No smell). Skunk fat very good for whooping cough." However, I do know that she tried Sweet Pickled Beaver, because I was actually the one who made it. An old fur trapper named Henry Metcalfe, whom I'd befriended, once brought me a beaver. He'd skinned it, and then brought me the meat to try in this recipe. It was a very lengthy process, as the meat had to soak overnight, then it simmered in a brine for ages, and had to be skimmed every so often...bearing in mind that beavers eat trees, and taste just like...trees. Until you use this recipe that ultimately calls for roasting it with cinnamon, mustard, pickling spices, white wine, and pineapple juice.
When it's all done, you have a party and invite a lot of friends over for a potluck buffet dinner. You place the beautifully carved and presented Sweet Pickled Beaver, which now looks exactly like a roast of beef, on the table amidst all the other meats and salads and rolls and see what happens.
At our dinner party, it was totally cleaned up...nary a sliver for leftovers. And when guests asked what they'd eaten we told them....made'em feel akin to the north, and more than one was heard to say "Eat a beaver, save a tree" with a new little chuckle!
The cookbook became a northern classic, and even had a favourable write up in the NY Times. Mom died several years ago, and every now and then I get out the cookbook and hold it close.


It's not raining?

For the first time in over 5 days, it isn't raining. Even the clouds aren't sure what to do next.

Well, this cumulated fella looks like he's finally blown it...

and this nebulous dirvish is gonna kiss the moon goodbye...

and now it's officially a red sky at night...sailor's delight. Hello world, nice to see you again!


Oyez! Oyez! Oyez! Gulls on high!

I have never seen our Town Crier cry. In fact, I have only seen him smile, and chuckle, and grin, and outright laugh, right out loud! Even on Canada Day when he was jumping over puddles, dodging lightening bolts, and yelling above the thunder he was positively beaming! Proof positive that it helps to have a positive outlook if you're called to do your duty to God and the Queen in the middle of the pouring rain. Which he does. In spades. And buckets.
Happy people are a tonic. And on Canada Day, it seemed that I was surrounded by them. Makes sense I guess, as who but happy people would come out in the rain to watch the Legion honour the fallen heroes and lay wreaths and play dirges. A sombre enough opening ceremony on a sunny day, but in the rain?? Takes a person with a cheerful inner child to do that.
It didn't pour constantly mind, just enough to give the biceps and triceps a workout opening and closing the umbrella, and flipping it outside in when the wind finished blowing it inside out! Good exercise for the chipper upper lippers among us!
And as we all know, every cloud has a silver lining...and there was no exception to this rule on Canada Day. After it had downpoured for about the 10th time in ten minutes, a city Works guy said, " Well, that's all the rain we're getting for the next few hours." He said it with such authority, that I turned and said to him, "And you know this because???" To which he responded,
"I' m a Newfie". Well, that explains it! But then he pointed up to the clouds, and said "See all the gulls heading out over the river?" Which I did. He said you can tell a storm is coming by watching the gulls. If they are heading inland, there's rain on the way. The further inland they fly, the worse the storm. And, after the storm, they'll head back out over water...which is what we were watching as he explained all of this folkie wisdom. And as we looked up, the sun broke through the clouds, and the sky cleared, and all was well with Canada for the afternoon. Then the gulls flew back to land, all hell broke loose, we had to cancel the fireworks, and bow to Nature's version instead. Which was quite allright with all the cheerful people. And the gulls too - happily chowing down on popcorn and french fries instead of fish.