(Wordless Wednesday) Watchdog

March 23, 2011


(Illustration Friday) Making Cake

March 18, 2011

One year when I was a girl, my mother made an angelfood cake for my birthday. It was from a mix which included multicoloured sprinkles (some of you call those candy bits “hundreds and thousands”). I have no recollection of how old I was, whether all of my brothers were in attendance, whether all were still alive, even, or what present I might have received — I just remember the beautiful wedge of cake, and the fact that Mum had attempted it and it had turned out well.

Maybe I remember the scene because she was relaxed and pleased with her work for once. Mum’s culinary expertise lay in  pork chops, meat loaf, scalloped potatoes, pickled red cabbage, and green beans by the truckload, cheap, nourishing food that sustained seven people on a paint-factory worker’s paycheque. Maybe, on this particular evening, Mum’s face was as bright as that slice of white cake shot with rainbow dots of colour.

Whatever the reason, whenever I think of birthday cake, I think of that one.

I was quite pleased, then, at the card I made Aunt Theodora for her 95th birthday:

Sprinkles, glorious sprinkles.  They shower downwards at a gentle slant, thanks in great part to this nifty little paintbrush:The purple and yellow background dots were made with a round (think “ordinary”) brush, while the words took a rigger, a brush with longer, fewer bristles, so that it will hold a decent amount of paint while producing thin lines; it’s also called a script brush.

And here is a close-up of the candle. The photo doesn’t show the shininess of the blue. I mixed the blue paint with gum arabic, a liquid that greatly slows the drying time, and then coloured in the flame, starting at the top and finishing by touching the yellow to the blue and tipping the card upright. The result wasn’t quite what I wanted; the time I’d tried this before, the yellow stayed yellow and didn’t blend to make green. Will have to keep experimenting.

although I composed the words for the card, there have likely been hundreds of riffs on the same theme in the history of commercially-produced birthday greetings. So sue me. I’ll pay my lawyer with one Cardi, and you can have the other one.

Anyway, the fact that both the plate and the words on the outside of the card use the same colour helps to give a “black and white” effect to the inside — with just a little added sweetness:

There you have it.

No cats were harmed in the making of this card.


(Wordless Wednesday) “She’s Just Using Me”

March 16, 2011


Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy, Goodbear’s Back!!!!!

January 28, 2011
“Hide-and-seek’s more fun than hide-and-hide.”

Hi everybody,

This is just a quick post to say that Goodbear has returned to the Blogosphere from a hiatus of four months (that’s, like, 16 bloglives).

Goodbear was the second blogger (after Checkers, and besides E.g., who was only humouring me 😉 ) to leave a comment on my brand-new-baby blog, on March 6, 2008. What drew her here? Three guesses…tic-tic-tic…time’s up:

Dog barf.

Yep, her dog Cody Bear has gastroparesis, and my Cai started his life with megaesophagus. These are both digestive-tract poblems — Cody’s food wouldn’t leave his stomach, and Cai’s wouldn’t get down his throat. Goodbear and I exchanged notes on our furchildren’s conditions, and have been fast friends ever since.

So if you have a moment, please pop over and welcome her back. Like me, she’s a generalist blogger: her dogs, interesting birds and bugs, hikes in the desert foothills, decent beer, and memorable meals all go into the mix.

But mostly, her dogs. Cody is a Chow mix, and Pickles a Border Collie. Oh, and there’s Spree, the kitty, too. See them here at Cody Bear’s Friends.

Or maybe photography’s more your thing. For photos that really capture the personality — er, dogonality? — of every canine she meets, please visit her photoblog, Dog Daily Photo. We mustn’t let her get away again!


(Wordless Wednesday) When Cats Make Dessert

January 19, 2011

Hint: if you don’t see what I saw, the rollover tag spells it out.


(Even-More-Eloquent Thursday) Ah, So That’s What 16.4 cm Looks Like

January 13, 2011

How picturesque.

My little camera didn’t do yesterday’s storm justice.

No, this wasn’t a natural disaster (there’s enough of those elsewhere recently), it was simply a typical good dump of snow, about 6 inches, like Binky got out his way.

It was, though, enough to be exciting. Scary, even, for me. So while you look at the fun side of snow in this morning’s pictures, let me regale you with a tale of yesterday afternoon.

A flake or two meandered down about 14 00. By three, it was so thick that the accompanying sound effects in a movie would have been, “Ka-FLUMP! Ka-FLUMP!” E.g. went out to the main road with her camera, and watched a fourteen-wheeler crawling its way up the hill, a van with its four-way flashers on, and at the bottom of the hill, a police cruiser at the intersection. (You can find pix here.) Good thing we weren’t going anywhere.

Then we remembered her dad.

Never mind yesterday, Mum, come play!

Eddy had a routine doctor’s appointment at the hospital. While he can drive all right during the day, he prefers to be a passenger at night or during inclement weather, when visibility is reduced. E.g. called her parents’ place, and yes, Eddy had left before the storm started and was now in the thick of it. Would Rose like us to help her husband get home? Well… all right.

The plan was that E.g. would find her dad and drive him home in his car. Since there was no sense leaving a vehicle at the hospital, or E.g. stranded at her parents’ house, E.g. and I took the automatic so I could retrieve her from Rose and Eddy’s. And I got behind the wheel, for my first taste of slippery streets.

AFTER snowstorms, driving is fine; the greatest danger is heart attack from all the shoveling.

Windshield wipers on. Long strings of crawling traffic. The dictum to Always keep going, Never stop unless absolutely necessary. The terror of losing control as we went downhill (Saint John is very hilly — not tall ones, but numerous). The car jerking sideways no matter how delicately I applied the brakes or titched the steering wheel. Falling onto the shoulder and easing the vehicle back onto the asphalt. And E.g. beside me, talking me through it.

We made it to the hospital, and E.g. went in to find the doctor’s office. It was closed and dark. No dad. All we could do was return home, this time E.g. driving.

E.g. knows how to pace herself.

Another call to Rose and Eddy’s revealed that Daddy wasn’t home yet — a bit unsettling, since they live closer to the hospital than we do — but with another look out the picture window, Rose rejoiced to find her husband powering up their long, steep drive.

Whew.

Cai kept looking for something this morning, too...

 

...and finding it, and hiding it again, and finding it again...

Eddy is an excellent driver, and has always loved to drive. He told us later that afternoon that most of the trip home from the hospital, though slow, had been manageable. The hardest part had been the final right turn onto their street, in the thickest whiteout, when he really couldn’t see much of anything. After fifty-one years of turning right onto this road, however, he decided to use his body-memory to make the turn, and succeeded.

He called it “gut instinct”, but he may have been thinking of another source of Help that begins with “G”.

Yes, Mother, a fine narration. Now where's the lawn?


Reflections on a Frightening Film

January 11, 2011

This week, several food-related incidents occurred. One was that we’ve gotten back on the Weight Watchers program, and have agreed to swap k.p. duty every other week.

The second is that I’ve been perusing online seed catalogues, making little charts and studying the backyard while playing fetch with the dogs.

The next is that we’ve signed up for Bible studies at the church we’ve started attending. Eh? Well, yes, this denomination is acutely aware of social justice issues, and one of the possibilities for a several-week study is the danger of according corporations the right to patent food.

Frankly, I had no idea what the topic was about. E.g., though, decided that last night’s supper entertainment would be the American documentary film, Food, Inc. It was a well-balanced film. It stated facts clearly, calmly, and soberly. And it disturbed me greatly.

Disregard for animal welfare was only a side issue in this film; human rights abuse was its main focus. Health issues, environmental harm, employment practices tantamount to human trafficking, and governmental and police collusion with food industry owners — suddenly I don’t feel so hungry.

If you’re Canadian, you have a few weeks yet to see this film on the CBC website in the Passionate Eye series (I’m presuming that the programming is inaccessible to people outside the country). But be warned, it isn’t dinner theatre.

I spent today online again, this time researching container gardening tips and gathering a list of calcium-rich foods. Ones that didn’t start with a cow — or patented soybeans, for that matter.

Lemme know if you’re interested in any of the menu plans I concoct for next week. And don’t worry, I’ll smile again soon.

Growing up is just no fun at all.