Saturday, March 31, 2007

Every Blossom Has its Bee

With the temperatures in the high 60s (F) 18-19 C the last two days, and a spattering of rain overnight, the gnarled old apricot tree behind the Tinpalace is exploding into bloom. The fat rose-tinged buds have been ever so slowing swelling. Just before dark last night we looked and counted maybe a half dozen open blossoms. This morning at least a quarter of the buds have opened.

The bees have taken notice. There are as many bees as blooms. They hover in a whirring buzzing cloud, happily dipping into the embrace of the blossoms. They took no notice whatsoever of me as I maneuvered among the branches looking for a good angle for my photographs.

It's migration time. Here that means exodus as snowbirds head home. Our neighbours Bill and Ruth were Ontario-bound this morning shortly after six. Ron and Yvonne weren't on the way until after lunch, but have been hugged and waved off. Des and Carol, Mary Jean and Marcel will be on the way in the next 24 hours. Others will be leaving over the next couple of weeks. We seem to be the only ones who plan to stay in Oliver over the summer.

But we will be moving too, more on that later. For now I've started packing our winter clothes. Over the next week we'll get the skirting off the trailer, and pack up all the winter-related gear.

Right now I am just enjoying watching the blossoms unfold. I feel sorry that our friends have left before the spring show. Evidently most years the trees have bloomed by now, but spring is late this year.

Salvador is restless, begging to go out, so I will post this and go be a good cat's Mama.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Nothing Gold Can Stay

Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf,
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.
~ Robert Frost

The Plate Runneth Over

We had a lovely dinner with the other snowbirds last evening. The group was smaller than the Christmas group, which included quite a few family members and friends. Last night it was just the "birds". I haven't counted, but 25 -30 people? Mostly couple with a few singletons in the group.

The food was divine, as it usually is at any of our potlucks. We had a couple of roasted turkeys and the requisite stuffing and gravy. Joy brought two kinds of cabbage rolls, one of my favorite dishes, and someone brought rutabagas which for my money are one of nature's perfect foods. Sometimes it's the simplest foods, done to perfection, which are the most sublime. Our neighbour Yvonne simply cut up potatoes, dressed them with oil and herbs and roasted them. They were scrumptious. By request I made the southern sweet potato dish I made a Christmas. It was pretty, coming out of the oven with the marshmallows browned over the top. Jim said it was too pretty to eat, but that didn't seem to slow anyone down once we hit the table.

We had a really nice time, lingering after the meal to visit and enjoy each other's company. This is a good group, congenial and cheerful, always ready to laugh at the teasing which goes on between us.

The season is drawing to a close as the grass begins to green on the hills above us. Several couples will be pulling out in the next few days, and more will leave at the end of the month. By the end of April most everyone will have gone home, or at least moved on to their summer spots. Tourist season will have begun in the Okanagan, though as someone in town asked recently, "Why do we call it tourist season if we can't shoot at them?"

Today the sun is shining, and I'm looking forward to going out and trying to capture some of the budding newness of spring. Hopefully I'll have something to share later on.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Royal Flush

Toilets in an RV are different than yer house toilet. For one thing they only use a tiny amount of water. I haven't yet figured out why RV-style toilet mechanisms haven't been adopted by the "greenies" as the ultimate low-water use toidy.

Be that as it may, the 35-year-old avocado green toilet in the Tinpalace's bathroom finally kicked up daisies after a long and successful run. (no pun intended) About ten days ago the trap mechanism failed, leaving the trap open by about 1/2" all the time. Surprisingly this didn't smell the way we thought it would, or else we have become entirely insensate to odours after spending a winter with a 23 pound cat, his litter box and two fully functioning humans in a 7'6" x 21' space.

We called Gary, the much-relied on RV repairman for this end of the valley. He took a look and made a phone call which apparently amused an RV parts supplier to no end. Surprisingly there were no replacement parts available for 35-year-old avocado green toilets, though he found it funny that we should ask.

This toilet has caused us some degree of distraction over the months. Tony has a bleeding problem, so we tend to keep an eye on such things as the colour of his wee-wee, and that is absolutely impossible in a green toilet.

I remember years ago, when our family doctor and his wife were very good friends. We were at their house for dinner and afterwards toured their large garden. We left laden with edible greenery. I cooked some of them for dinner the next night. When Tony got up at 6:00 the next morning he produced shocking bloody urine. He called our friend the doctor, who asked through a mouthful of toast if we'd enjoyed the beets he gave us.

Tony was a bit taken aback, "bleeding" as he was, to be asked about his enjoyment of a root vegetable, but he stammered that, yes, we'd eaten them the evening before and, thank you, they were delicious. "Good," the doctor said, slurping away at his orange juice, "you're peeing beet pigment, go drink some water and let me get to the office."

Today Gary brought a lovely white toilet and installed it in our teeny bathroom. I never thought I'd miss the green one. Believe me, I don't.

Let's See Some Action With That Broom!

Housecleaning Time! And I don't mean the Tinpalace. The TP has gotten a good interior clean in the last couple of days, as I washed down the cabinetry and appliances, washed down the bathroom, and vacuumed or cleaned all the horizontal surfaces.

What needed an application of aggressive housekeeping was the Baby Mac. It's been sweating and groaning for some time now, but when the fan kicked on today after I'd just been sending mail I knew something was amiss.

I rolled it around in my wee brain while we shopped and ran errands. I had this vague sense that I knew what was likely to be wrong, but just couldn't quite recall it. It finally came to me tonight, ten minutes after I turned out the light and slid into my sleeping bag.

It's not unusual for me to get from 50 - 75 e-mails a day, legitimate e-mails, not counting the ones which promise me a larger you-know-what, super miracle drugs, millions of Kenyan dollars and lottery winnings. And I rarely delete a legitimate e-mail because I frequently find myself needing to refer back to one... now when was that order shipped, what did he say about his blood pressure, who was my third great-grandfather's elder brother's youngest son's wife and who sent me that name, etc. etc.

The upshot was that I had over 5000 e-mails, many with attachments, in my in box. Shame shame. And I can't remember when I last cleared my cache, and the cookie file is a couple of months old. I also still have old e-mail accounts I haven't used since we left Calgary. They sit and spin endlessly trying to pick up mail that isn't there. I'm a baaaaaadddd girl. I even need to go through and clear out the bookmarks I no longer use. In for a penny, in for a pound.

Baby Mac needed a digital broom! I backed up the mail to a CD, deleted the old accounts, cleared the cache and cookies and trimmed the bookmarks and we'll see if the poor Bebe' is less stressed.

Now the cat is complaining loudly that I'm keeping him from being able to see out the window. The view is better when it's dark inside. Best close this down and make him happy.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Curry Up!

Well, finally!

I've been trying to post a picture of the curry we had for dinner on Wednesday since Wednesday! Blogger has evidently been having indigestion. Every time I fed it my curry picture it burped and said, "No, thank you."

Anyway, this was delish. I changed the recipe slightly from the one posted a few days ago. I substituted firm "silken" tofu for the chicken and added whole almonds for protein, calcium, crunch and a bit of contrast in colour. (Four c's in a row. I ought to do better.)

A la David Suzuki's Nature Challenge we are trying to reduce the animal protein in our diet and eat vegie dishes more often. We were vegetarians for years, don't know why we fell off that wagon, except that we were living in a remote community where it was very difficult to get fresh food. We got out of the habit and here we are many pounds later with our arteries probably clogged with beef fat and egg yolks.

It's a grey, cool day but I got a kick out of watching a male sparrow near the brush pile. He had grabbed a fine root which was protruding from the ground about five or six inches. The sparrow was holding the end of the root in his little black beak and running around the attachment point in an orbit, like a dog tied to a pole runs a circle at the end of its leash. He had several female observers so maybe it was a male ego thing. Maybe the root looked like prime nesting material, or maybe he was just playful. But it sure looked silly.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Prime Real Estate...

James has now finished trimming the 90 fruit trees in the park. He could be seen up a ladder with a saw until black dark every night for weeks. It was cold, windy and often wet. Have to admire his cheerfulness. I'd have been snapping the heads off baby bunnies, but he was his usual cheeky, jovial self, even when he was so tired he could hardly put one foot in front of the other.

What he ended up with was several huge piles of branches, from twigs to hulking big branches. Two of these piles are in the empty spot adjacent to the Tinpalace and we have been having a ball watching the birdlife that has sprung up in and around them. The one pictured is 12 -14 feet long and four feet high.

Hawks and owls are the major predators of small birds here, and these threats come from overhead. So any cover is obviously coveted real-estate with the "snack-sized" bird crowd. These brush-piles are the equivalent of a Malibu penthouse with a view of Niagara Falls to the local featherites.

The quail dash beneath the pile and peer out like anxious old ladies. The sparrows and finches perch on top, or inside. They flow to the other side of the pile as you walk past, but don't take flight unless you get too close. (I now understand where the term "flighty" comes from.)

The piles are close enough to us for the birds to make a quick raid on the feeder, grab a seed or peanut, and retreat to enjoy their meal in peace. They are also a great spot to fight, court and (ahem) make a little bird whoopee. Male sparrows are always contentious, right now they are downright belligerent! Spring is obviously just around the corner.

But what's most fun to watch is the sparrows taking baths in the sandy soil next to the pile. At first they left little brush marks on the sand, but day by day bathing "holes" have grown, eroded by the vigorous flapping and rolling that sand bathing entails.

The holes are now so deep that the sparrow jumps in and totally disappears. You see wing tips blurring at the top of the hole. Sand flies. The sparrow jumps out, fresh and sandy clean, and the next guy in line jumps in. (Yes, they actually line up to have a turn!)

It's supposed to rain later today so I ran out and took a couple of photos of the bath holes. Yesterday they looked like the top section of a snow angel, today the wings are less apparent, and the holes are more oval in shape.

This is way better than the movies.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Spinach Paneer

Popeye would have thought he'd died and gone to heaven!

500 gms Fresh Spinach
100 gms Paneer (1 recipe, see previous post on how to make paneer)
1 tbs oil
2 Onions, diced
1 package Indian Chicken Curry Paste

Clean and wash spinach.
Cook the spinach in a small amount of water and allow to cool.
Put spinach through food processor and reduce to puree
Heat the oil in a large non-stick skillet
Add the onions and cook till golden brown.
Add curry spices and cook for a minute.
Add the spinach and a little water if needed and cook for 4-5 minutes.
Cut paneer into pieces, add to the spinach and cook until done.

Serve hot.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Way to Gain Weight

I've been cooking Indian foods the last couple of weeks, and SMM asked for recipes and pictures. Well, we ate it, so the pictures will have to wait until later in the week, but I can post pictures of a couple of ingredients, including the box of creamed coconut. The cell isn't part of the ingredients, just there for scale.

Indian Chicken Curry


1 packet Indian chicken curry spice paste
1 tbs vegetable oil
1 large onion chopped
2 potatoes, cubed
1 chicken breast, cut in pieces
50 gram coconut cream paste, mixed into 2 cups water
1/2 cup green peas

4 cups cooked basamati rice

Heat oil in large non-stick skillet, add spice paste and cook for 30 seconds. Add onion, potatoes and chicken, stir fry for three minutes. Lower heat and add coconut milk. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add peas for the last five minutes.

Serve over rice.

Paneer is a soft cheese which is used in many Indian dishes. You can't buy it in the market here, so you have to make it yourself. It's easy.


2 litres of 2% milk
3 Tbsp white vinegar

Bring milk to a simmer in a glass or stainless steel pan. When the milk begins to boil turn off heat and stir in the vinegar with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula. Allow to sit for 30 minutes. Lift curds from the pan with a slotted spoon and place in a mold lined with several layers of clean cheesecloth. The "mold" can be any container which will allow liquid to drain from the paneer. I use a small plastic basket. You can catch the liquid (called whey) and use it as a soup base, or sweeten it slightly and drink it.

When the curds are all ladled into the mold cover flip the cheesecloth over the top of the paneer and weight it down. I used two square plastic food containers filled with water, with the lids on for weights. Let the paneer sit for 30 minutes, then peel cheesecloth away and wrap the paneer in plastic wrap. It will keep about a week in a closed container in the fridge.

I'll add some paneer recipes later

Happy! Happy! Joy! Joy!

Dare I say it? The sun is shining!! Okay, forgive me for being a bit excitable over such a simple thing, but this old girl grew up in the sunny southwest, where clouds were a novelty.

Much to rejoice about at the moment. I am not in pain, well, not much pain. I seem to always have some nagging muscles, cranky bones, etc. but the migraine that pounded away at my head for the last week was gone when I got up yesterday morning, and I got to do something really fun.

A very nice woman came in with a cartload of supplies to show "us girls" how to make our own greeting cards. Since I am a sort of unfocused but enthusiastic crafter I had been looking forward to this day since we planned it.

And it was fun. She had a huge stock of all kinds of papers, new and recycled, scissors that cut fancy edges and corners, all kinds of lettering, from foam ones that stuck on to stamps with different messages. Glitter pens, coloured chalks, ribbons, flowers, buttons, photos, shapes and fabric trims. She had a stack of stuff and we had a ball making our cards.

My neighbour Helen made cards for her little granddaughters who have the unusual names of Fenya and Glorianna and can never find the "My Name" doo-dads and sparkly things little girls love. Helen was so much fun to watch as she made her cards. I enjoyed her delight as much as my own. She made some really pretty cards too.

We started at 10:00 and went until 2:00 so we had a pot-luck lunch. I'll tell you, these gals do know how to cook! My next-door neighbour Ruth brought a scrumptious apple crumble. It would have been ill-mannered to run off with it, hide under a table and eat the whole thing by myself, so I restrained myself, but only with difficulty.

Well, the sun is inviting me outside, so I will wake the sleeping cat and take him for a walk.