Monday, February 19, 2018

Ruled by the moon

So many people, so many different places on Earth, observe a calendar based on the moon. The Asian calendar, with its welcome this weekend to the Year of the Dog, is one of those.

We celebrated in our own small way by cooking up some delicious (store-bought, frozen) siu mai (shumai) to go with the rest of our decidedly western supper (spaghetti -- though, wait a minute, weren't noodles invented in China?). If you look carefully, you'll see that there's a traditional red envelope in view, though ours didn't contain money, but a couple of lottery tickets.

It wasn't long ago that I learned a bit about a First Nations tradition called Hoobiyee, a celebration that marks the new year according to the moon. It was also linked to the return of the oolichan to the river, an important event marked by the Nisga'a.

I wasn't able to see the moon last time it was 'new' (February 15th), but I'm hoping its shape was more of an upturned crescent than a downturned one. My reason goes back to one of the concepts I learned about Hoobiyee: the first new moon after the new year indicates what kind of harvests there will be. An upturned one (cup-like) indicates bounty, while a downturned one, the opposite. Especially where I've just pruned our berry bushes, I am already looking for a good harvest later this summer.

And after our yummy sampling last night, I suspect, before the week is out, I am going to want to go to a restaurant for a celebratory feast of more dim sum.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

P.S. to the previous post

Yep, looks like spring is 'off' again.

Hoping this lacy white stuff only lasts through Valentine's Day.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

On again off again spring

This past week has seen temps going up and down, from T-shirt afternoons to bundled-up as if ready for snow mornings.

The sun has meant I've managed to get myself outside more. I've pruned a friend's blackberries, trimmed some butterfly bushes and rhododendrons, and hacked the dead bits off of some of our roses too.

While the snowdrops are to be expected this time of year (and are out, in their usual proliferation), the daffs and tulips are up a good hand span, looking green and fresh -- a welcome sight. And the little treasure above (a cyclamen, something I generally overwater and kill) said hello to me from a friend's garden patch -- a friend who, unlike me, was a dedicated and skilled gardener.

Sadly, the meaning of the cyclamen is resignation and goodbye.

Even though that gardener friend has been gone a couple of years now, I don't suppose I'll ever be quite ready for a final goodbye -- especially when I see such lovely signs of life from her.

Sunday, February 04, 2018

Superb Owl goes to the Super Bowl

...and takes an actual 'super bowl' along.

The bowl has quite a history. It started life as a prop in a play, but remains as an item in my kitchen. And yes, that's coloured tape on the side of it. The effect was supposed to make it look like Mexican pottery.

The bowl's theatrical background made it seem like the right container for treats brought back from Cuba, even if the geography's not exactly right. (There'll be more on that visit in coming posts, I am sure.)

The 'treats' are a range of junk foods, but ones that seem perfect for nibbling with beer at a Super Bowl party with friends. Garlic flavoured puffy balls, cheesy ones too. Another that I think is mostly potatoes.

Whatever, they should be a good conversation piece, even if they aren't the hit of the potluck table.

(Go, Eagles!)

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Bluper moon?

By now most people probably know that the second full moon occurring in the same month gets called a blue moon.

This one was even more than that, as it was one of those occurrences when the moon is close enough to the earth to earn the title 'supermoon'.

And then, to make things even crazier, there was a lunar eclipse at 5:26 am, which led to last night's/this morning's moon to qualify as a super blue blood moon. Impressive titling, to be sure. Makes me think of British uppah-classes or worse, that hateful little rich boy in Monty

I was too lazy to get up at 5, so I didn't get to see the eclipse or the moon turning red. Still, I was pretty happy to get this shot of the just about perfectly full moon last night -- probably just before the clouds took over the sky.

Monday, January 29, 2018

A wee bit late

I suppose any die-hard traditionalist would find it terrible to be observing Robert Burns' birthday this late in the month. But it turns out this was just the first day we could manage.

Even as we bump along in our non-traditional ways, we try to keeping a few of the 'auld' rituals. One of these is celebrating with a homely version of the Burns Night Supper that isn't exactly what true Scots might be serving.

At least the centrepiece of the meal was the traditional haggis, a food that is apparently illegal in the US.

I admit to cheating, and to buying this haggis from our local butcher shop -- and I even admit to quite liking it, though I probably wouldn't want it all the time.

As for the accompaniments, they weren't exactly what they were supposed to be, but made up from ingredients that were in the fridge, the pantry, or the garden.

The pantry and fridge elements lent themselves to the "MacRoni" and cheese -- made with a nicely respectful Cheddar (aged) at that. And the other side dish wasn't exactly 'neeps and tatties' (turnips and potatoes), but a pretty good facsimile with freshly-dug Jerusalem artichoke, one of the items remaining in the kitchen garden.

Burns Night celebrates the life of a poet, so I probably need to cite a few lines of his that befit the occasion:
Some hae meat and canna eat And some would eat that want it. But we have meat, and we can eat. Sae let the Lord be thankit. 
To that, I can only add an after-dinner Amen.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Finders keepers

I'm pretty sure it was Stephen King who impressed me with his recommendation to read Dickens. He may have even said he often re-reads particular books by Dickens, including the tome of tomes, Bleak House. It isn't one I've ever tried.

Great Expectations was a novel we were expected to read in high school. Memorable in its own ways (at least parts of it linger in memory), it wasn't enough to push me into wanting to read the rest of the Dickens library.

But today (not rainy, hurrah!) might mean that I have to screw up my courage (and clear my calendar?) to take a run at this 1,000+ pages classic. As I entered a building where I had an appointment, there it was, standing near these mossy bricks, extending an invitation to me. For someone who's a believer in 'signs' it's hard to ignore this new addition to my bookshelves (especially where it takes up what seems like more than its fair share).

I'm not ready to start it yet, though I am sure over the course of the year, it will beckon me. When (if?) I manage it, I'll let you know.

Gosh though, if only the title wasn't so grimly discouraging.