Sunday, October 31, 2010

Hydrangeas Hanging Around

I love the way my neighbour’s hydrangea blooms hang over my fence this time of year:


They add colour to my garden during the time of year when there’s very little of it outdoors.


Aren’t the flowers just lovely? You really can’t go wrong with hydrangeas.

Happy Halloween

May it be ‘spooktacular’...

And candylicious!

Enjoy!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Saturday Silliness

Today, it’s all about Halloween, starting with a couple of jokes...

Halloween with Beethoven

A daring vacationer in Vienna is walking through a graveyard on Halloween when all of a sudden she hears music. No one is around, so she starts looking to see where it’s coming from.

She finally locates the source and finds it is coming from a grave with a headstone that reads, “Ludwig van Beethoven.”

Then she realizes that the music is the Ninth Symphony and it is being played backward. Puzzled, she leaves the graveyard and persuades a friend to return with her.

By the time they arrive back at the grave, the music has changed. This time it is the Seventh Symphony, but it is also being played backward.

Curious, the ladies agree to consult a music scholar. When they return with the expert, the Fifth Symphony is playing and the expert concludes that the symphonies are in fact being played in reverse order.

By the next day the word spread and a huge group gathered around the grave to hear the Second Symphony being played backward. Just then the graveyard's caretaker approaches the group. Someone in the crowd asks him if he has an explanation for the music.

"Oh, it's nothing to worry about" says the caretaker. "He's just decomposing!!"


Ten Signs That You’re Too Old for Trick or Treating

10. You get winded from knocking on the door.

9. You have another kid chew the candy for you.

8. You ask for high fiber candy only.

7. When someone drops a candy bar in your bag, you lose your balance and fall over.

6. People say, "Great Keith Richards mask!" and you're not wearing a mask.

5. When the door opens you yell, "Trick or..." and can't remember the rest.

4. By the end of the night, you have a bag full of restraining orders.

3. You have to carefully choose a costume that won't dislodge your hairpiece.

2. You're the only Super Hero in the neighborhood with a walker.

1. You avoid going to houses where your ex-wives live.

And ending with some funny pictures...


And finally, my favourite:



Bahahahahaha...

Friday, October 29, 2010

Amaryllis

As the Christmas season gets closer and the greenhouses start to bring in holiday plants, most people think of the legendary Poinsettia and often overlook a plant that will display some of the most dramatic flowers you will ever see – the Amaryllis. With proper care, the Amaryllis will boast dazzling blooms the first year you own it and every year after that. And if you really pamper this beauty, the bulb may even divide and multiply, leaving you with a gift of more Amaryllis bulbs. Lucky you...


Caring For The Beautiful Amaryllis

If you can’t grow a single other thing, you will be able to grow an Amaryllis. It’s foolproof. Three simple ingredients - water, warmth and sufficient light - get this tropical beauty to start developing roots, stalks and leaves in no time.

The first step in your Amaryllis-growing project is bringing home a healthy bulb. Make certain you choose one that is firm to the touch. Bulbs that are too soft may be rotten. Don’t hesitate to open up a kit to check out the bulb; you don’t want to end up with a dud. Pick it up out of the box, place it in the palm of your hand and give it a small squeeze (not too hard!). It should feel firm. The bulb should also be clean and disease-free. There should be no signs of shriveling, decay, scars, nicks, mold, mildew, visible damage or offending odors. If the bulb is dried up, wet, squishy, light in weight or obviously unhealthy, move on to another one.

In the case of Amaryllis ‘bigger is better’ so pick the largest bulb you can find. Smaller bulbs are usually young – one to two years old – and will only produce one flower stalk. On the other hand, the larger, older bulbs can easily produce two or three stalks. With a plump bulb, the results will be richer and longer-lasting.

Avoid buying bulbs that have already started to grow significantly at the store - unless you are a real softie for sympathy purchases. The ones that have begun to sprout before being bought are quite often stressed, which will lead to smaller, lesser flowers; occasionally those bulbs will also fail to produce. If there is any visible growth, it should be extremely minimal (the bud tip should barely be showing). There will likely be some dried roots and signs of leaves having been cut off, which is all normal.

Once you’ve made your purchase and transported it safely to your home, pot it up in the container that was in the kit or select your own. I personally don’t like the cheap plastic pots that come with the kits. For one thing, Amaryllis can become very top-heavy so it’s wiser to choose a container with a little more weight instead of the flimsy one the plant is sold with. Make sure that the pot you choose has drainage holes, is wide enough to allow 1” to 1½” of space around the bulb and large enough to accommodate the extensive root system. Ideally, there should be 2 – 3 inches available below the bulb.

Plant the bulb up to its neck in quality soil that is sterile, light and very well-draining to avoid rot. Pat the soil down to make sure that the bulb is snug and secure in its new home. Water thoroughly and set the plant in a sunny spot (indirect) in temperatures between 21°C (70°F) to 23°C (75°F). Do not water the plant again until you see obvious signs of growth, which generally take about three weeks. Once new growth begins, water thoroughly when necessary. Keep the soil moderately moist. Do not allow it to dry out completely and be careful of over-watering.

The flower stalk is usually the first to appear but it’s not unusual for leaves to grow before or even during the initial stage. As a general rule, the period from potting to flowering takes place between 7 – 10 weeks. Depending on the size of your bulb, you may be awarded anywhere from 4 – 6 flowers. And if you’ve picked up a top grade bulb, you’ll get to do it all over again with a second flower stalk, maybe even a third. Keep stakes on hand to stabilize top-heavy plants. It’s not unheard of for the plants to topple over or for flower stalks to bend and break. Remove each flower as is fades to prevent seed formation, which depletes nutrition from the bulb. You want your plant to concentrate its energy on blooms not seeds. Make sure to rotate the plant every now and again to assure that it grows straight. An Amaryllis tends to bend towards the light source.

When the flowers are opening, and especially while in bloom, keep your Amaryllis away from direct sun and taxing heat sources such as air vents and fireplaces. Direct light and high temperatures will shorten the flower life while cooler areas away from the sun’s rays will prolong it.

It’s that simple.

Once the blooming period is over, there’s no need to throw out that bulb. With the right care, you can get your Amaryllis to bloom again next year. It may even be worth your while to keep that Amaryllis bulb instead of buying a new one every year. The longer you have your Amaryllis bulb, the bigger it will get and the more flowers it will produce. For those reasons alone, it’s worth keeping it around.


Getting Your Amaryllis To Bloom Again

When the blooming period is officially over, cut the flower stalk down completely but do not touch the leaves that have grown. The leaves are necessary in preparing the bulb for the next performance; they absorb nutrients and deliver them to the exhausted bulb, replenishing all the depleted food. From here on in, you will treat your Amaryllis like any other foliage houseplant.

Water and feed your plant regularly to promote vigorous leaf growth, which in turn will manufacture enough food to reenergize the tired and noticeably shrunken bulb. Use a standard liquid fertilizer for houseplants at half the recommended strength a couple of times a month. During this period, make sure that you provide plenty of light for your plant to gather the right amount of energy. A sunny location near a window or on a windowsill is ideal.

When August arrives, stop fertilizing and gradually reduce watering. When the month of September approaches stop watering completely to force the bulb into dormancy; Amaryllis bulbs perform much better when they enjoy a substantial resting period. Allow the leaves to yellow and die, and cut them off to an inch or two above the bulb. By the end of September, no later than the beginning of October if you want flowers by Christmas, set the bulb in its pot in a dark, cool (not cold) location for 6 – 8 weeks. A corner of the basement or a shelf in the garage is a good storage option as long as the temperature remains fairly steady between 10°C (50°F) - 12°C (55°F). During this important period, your plant is snoozing and gathering energy for its upcoming presentation.

After a few weeks of uninterrupted and much-appreciated rest, it’s time for your plant to wake up. Move the bulb back into a warm, bright spot in your home and encourage the growth cycle to begin by watering. From this point on, repeat the process that you would with a newly-purchased, newly-potted bulb. Before you know it, the tiny green tip of a flower stem will appear. Once that happens, get ready for another spectacular performance.

(Note: You can also remove the bulb from the soil, clean it and store it in the crisper of your refrigerator. Do not store it in a refrigerator that contains apples, which can damage the bulbs! Storing bulbs in the fridge is recommended by many reputable growers. However, I have never tried it myself and don’t know just how effective it is. In addition, you don’t necessarily have to force the bulb into dormancy. The leaves of an Amaryllis bulb begin to yellow on their own after 5 – 6 months of normal growth, usually in early fall. Forcing the bulb into dormancy is typically done in order to manipulate the flowering period, which for most people is desirable during the holidays. If you don’t care when the flowers emerge, you can allow your plant to handle its own natural cycle without your interference. If you do want to control the flowering period, plant the bulbs 8 weeks before you’d like them to bloom.)

Photo Of Clair

Today’s ferrety Friday is short and sweet with a photo of Clair doing what ferrets do best: lazing around.

Just a reminder...

If your ferrets are caged, please make sure you let them out for a few hours a day (at least 4) to play and exercise. Ferrets are social and very energetic creatures that will become depressed and physically weak if caged indefinitely.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Today's Trivia – Halloween

On Sunday, it’s October 31st, so this week’s trivia is all about – you guessed it – Halloween!


- Orange and black are Halloween colors because orange is associated with the Fall harvest and black is associated with darkness and death.

- Jack o’ Lanterns originated in Ireland where people placed candles in hollowed-out turnips to keep away spirits and ghosts on the Samhain holiday.

- Halloween was brought to North America by immigrants from Europe who would celebrate the harvest around a bonfire, share ghost stories, sing, dance and tell fortunes.

- The ancient Celts thought that spirits and ghosts roamed the countryside on Halloween night. They began wearing masks and costumes to avoid being recognized as human.

- Apparently, signs of a werewolf are a unibrow, hairy palms, tattoos, and a long middle finger.

- Vampires are mythical beings who defy death by sucking the blood of humans.

- In 1962, the Count Dracula Society was founded.

- To this day, there are vampire clubs and societies with people claiming to be real vampires.

- There really are so-called vampire bats, but they're not from Transylvania. They live in Central and South America and feed on the blood of cattle, horses and birds.

- The movie "Halloween" was made in only 21 days in 1978 on a very limited budget. Because it was shot in spring, fake autumn leaves were used.

- The mask used by Michael Meyers in the movie "Halloween" was actually William Shatner's mask painted white.

- The character Laurie Strode, played by Jamie Lee Curtis was named after John Carpenter's first girlfriend.

- While the setting for the story is in Illinois, the vehicles have California license plates.

- Halloween is on October 31st, the last day of the Celtic calendar. It was originally a pagan holiday, honoring the dead. Holloween was referred to as All Hallows Eve and dates back to over 2000 years ago.

- According to folklore, if you see a spider on Halloween, it is the spirit of a loved one watching over you.



- Halloween was originally a Celtic holiday celebrated on October 31.

- According to folklore, the jack-o-lantern got its name from a man named Jack.

- Turnips and beets served as the original jack-o-lanterns.

- Mexico celebrates 'The Day of the Dead' instead of Halloween.

- Pumpkins originated in Central America. When Europeans arrived in the New World, they found pumpkins plentiful and used in cooking by Native Americans. They took seeds back to Europe where they quickly became popular.

- Halloween is the 2nd most commercially successful holiday, with Christmas being the first. People spend as much as over $2.5 billion during Halloween on candies, costumes, decorations and parties.

- Halloween candy sales average about 2 billion dollars annually in the United States.

- Chocolate candy bars top the list as the most popular candy for trick-or-treaters.

- It is believed that the Irish began the tradition of Trick or Treating. In preparation for All Hallow's Eve, Irish townsfolk would visit neighbors and ask for contributions of food for a feast in the town.

- Black cats were once believed to be witch's familiars who protected their powers.

- Samhainophobia is an intense fear of Halloween.

- In Ohio, Iowa, and Massachusetts, Halloween is often referred to as Beggar's Night.

- The largest Halloween celebration -- the Village Halloween Parade -- is held in Greenwich Village.

- The most popular costume of 2005 was Spiderman.

- The first official city-wide Halloween celebration was held in Anoka, Minnesota in 1921.

- The biggest pumpkin ever grown weighed 1,140 pounds. (Oh my...)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Words Of Wisdom

I know people like this...

My Garden’s Death Row

As we moved further and further into the fall season, I began to remove annuals from their containers and plant them in – what I named – my ‘sunflower circle’. It’s called the sunflower circle because my sunflowers pretty much dominated that space. Those suckers grew huge; their stems could give the stems of the baby trees in my yard a run for their money.

Anyhow.

Between the sunflowers, I inserted whatever annuals were still alive. The reason I did that is:

a) I wanted to extend their blooming period. Annuals in containers succumb much faster to frosty weather than the ones in the ground.

b) It’s much easier to get rid of them when the frost kills them. If they’re in the ground, all I have to do is dig/yank them out and throw them in the compost bin. But if they’re in containers, I have to dig/yank them out AND clean the pot they occupy. So I save a step. Not that it would have been such a big deal, but still. You gotta cut corners somewhere.

So a-ny-way...

When I finished adding the annuals to the sunflower circle, it dawned on me that everything planted in that space is biding its time until the grim reaper claims it. Thus the reason why it’s considered my garden’s ‘death row’.

Here’s what my garden’s death row looks like (or rather, looked like; the plants are all now up in botanical heaven):

Lots of pretty colours:

And flowers:


Just thought I’d share this part of my garden with you guys.

Plus, I couldn’t think of anything else to post about today. So this is it.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Expert (And Awesome) Pumpkin Carvings

Hubby sent me photos of some expert pumpkin carvings that are so awesome I had to share them with all of you.

Check them out...


















Aren’t they just amazing? I thought so , too.

My Blog’s Weekly Themes

Now that the name of my blog has finally been changed, I’m concentrating on weekly themes. I’ve added a couple of new ones and will probably consider a few more. Weekly themes give me something to focus on, so that I always have a particular post to fall back on to keep the blog flowing. This doesn’t mean that I’m never going to go beyond these themes; sometimes I may skip them completely to work on a different type of post. It just means that if I’m stuck on ideas for a blog post, there’s always the default theme.

Anyway.

So here are the weekly themes, if anyone is interested. Not that I expect anyone to be (I’m sure you all have better things to do), but I figured that, what the heck, I’d list them either way.

MONDAY

Monday's Musings (my thoughts and feelings about a variety of themes)

TUESDAY

Tasty Tuesday (recipes)

WEDNESDAY

Wednesday’s Words Of Wisdom (This is a new addition that will include an image with a quotation in it.)

THURSDAY

Thursday’s Trivia (useless but interesting information)

FRIDAY

Ferrety Friday (photos and/or information about ferrets)

Friday’s Flower Pot (This is also a new addition that will include care information about houseplants.)

SATURDAY

Saturday Silliness (humor, jokes)

SUNDAY

Snapshot Sunday (interesting, favourite photos)

So that’s what’s happening so far. Although almost every day has something attached to it, it doesn’t mean that I won’t stray from it from time to time. For example, Friday might include both Ferrety Friday and Friday’s Flower Pot one week, and then include only one or the other the next. There may even come a time when it’ll include neither.

Wednesdays will almost always include an image with a quotation in it, but it’s often a day that I use to talk about my garden. And, of course, any day of the week may include garden-related topics on top of everything else.

The whole point of all this is that I’d like to keep my blog busy, which in turn will keep me writing, taking photos and working with a photo editor, all things that I enjoy very much.

We’ll see how it goes.

Meatball Avgolemono Soup

You will love this recipe from one of my favourite cookbooks, “The Complete Book of Greek Cooking”. It’s hearty, delicious and easy to prepare. Serve it with a nice green salad and a loaf of crusty bread.

Ingredients

Meatballs

1 cup minced onion
1 pound ground beef
1/4 cup raw converted rice
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon chopped fresh mint leaves or 1/2 teaspoon dried mint
1/4 cup chopped parsley
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup flour for coating
5 cups chicken stock

Avgolemono Sauce

2 eggs
2 tablespoons cold water
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Preparation:

Combine onion with ground beef. Add raw rice, lemon juice, mint, parsley, salt, and pepper. Make small meatballs and dip lightly in flour to coat. Bring chicken stock to a boil. Add meatballs and simmer for about 30 minutes. (These can be made ahead of time.) Before serving, reheat broth and meatballs.

Make the Avgolemono Sauce

Beat eggs with water. Add lemon juice slowly, stirring constantly. Add all the hot broth from the meatballs, stirring constantly to avoid curdling. When all the liquid has been added to egg-lemon mixture, return to the pot, pouring over meatballs. Cook gently until sauce has thickened. Serve at once in soup bowls.

Yield: 4 servings

Mmmm...mmmm...

(Once again, I forgot to snap a photo of the meal when it’s ready. The picture above is how the meatballs look when they’re ready to be cooked.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Racism

Well, would ya looky here. Looks like we done got us our very bona fide redneck up here in our northern woods...

Recently, I ran across a news article about a man in Nova Scotia that admitted to setting fire to a two-metre wooden cross (with a noose attached to it) on an interracial couple’s lawn earlier this year (February).

Say what?

[Jaw drops...]

I couldn’t believe it.

It’s the year 2010, buddy. We’re supposed to be over burning crosses on lawns. Get with the program already. What are you, slow?

Anyway.

I think what startled me the most is the perpetrator’s age. 20! Can you believe this?

When I first ran across the news story, I automatically assumed that the man accused of the crime was older. Maybe 60 – 70ish. It’s not that I think all older white men are close-minded. Or bigots. Or, you know, rednecks. I don’t. It just never crossed my mind that it could be a very young person. Mostly because I was under the (false) impression that the younger generations (because of exposure to different cultures and races, because of more education and because of the availability of infinite – sometimes intelligent - data at the touch of a mouse click), would be much, much more open-minded. Tolerant. Informed. Enlightened. And basically, respectful of their neighbours and fellow human beings. Diverse or not.

But then along comes this young man, barely out of his teen years, burning a cross with a noose attached to it on an interracial couple’s property.

Sheesh.

I guess I was wrong.

Anyhow.

So this young racist appeared before a packed courtroom last week and pleaded guilty to criminal harassment of the interracial couple who live in a small, nearby community. But he maintains that he is innocent of inciting racial hatred, a charge to which he pleaded not guilty. I’m guessing his lawyer advised him to plead innocent on the latter charge because he (lawyer) is quoted as saying “We have an act of burning a cross but we have no incitement of others" and he goes on to say that while his client’s action was “nasty, crude and contemptible, there was no evidence that it stirred up racial hatred among others. To the contrary, residents organized an anti-racism march.”

Are you for real counselor?

Ugh.

Where is my barf bag?

Yes, counselor, thankfully this junior redneck’s actions didn’t stir up any negative actions from others (so far). But this is mostly because it’s the year 2010. What would have happened, though, if this racist action was done, let’s say, about 100 years ago? Do you think the neighbours of the victims would have organized an anti-racist march? Or a lynching?

And counselor, while you’re advising your hillbilly of a client (who I’m ashamed to say is a Canadian) on how to lessen his punishment, perhaps you can recommend that he take up more appropriate hobbies. I mean, really now; burning crosses is so passé.

Oh, when will the rednecks of the world go the way of the dodo?


Check out the links below for more details about this story:
 N.S. man pleads not guilty to hatred in cross burning
Man pleads not guilty to hate crime in cross burning

Sunday, October 24, 2010

A Single Photograph

My garden perennials are heading towards their snooze period, but even so, some of them are still trying to add colour to my garden.

Take for example this little flower:

It never reached its full potential, but it’s one of the prettiest things I’ve seen in my garden so far. Just the fact that it made it this far this time of year makes it very special.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Saturday Silliness

This week it’s all about kids...

Things I've Learned From My Children

(For those who already have children past this age, this is hilarious. For those who have children this age, this is not so funny. For those who have children nearing this age, this is a warning. For those who have not yet had children, this is birth control.)

1. A king size waterbed holds enough water to fill a 2000 sq. ft. house 4 inches deep.

2. If you spray hairspray on dust bunnies and run over them with roller blades, they can ignite.

3. A 3-year-old's voice is louder than 200 adults in a crowded restaurant.

4. If you hook a dog leash over a ceiling fan, the motor is not strong enough to rotate a 42 pound boy wearing Batman underwear and a Superman cape. It is strong enough, however, if tied to a paint can, to spread paint on all four walls of a 20x20 ft. room.

5. You should not throw baseballs up when the ceiling fan is on. When using a ceiling fan as a bat, you have to throw the ball up a few times before you get a hit. A ceiling fan can hit a baseball a long way.

6. The glass in windows (even double-pane) doesn't stop a baseball hit by a ceiling fan.

7. When you hear the toilet flush and the words "uh oh," it's already too late.

8. Brake fluid mixed with Clorox makes smoke, and lots of it.

9. A six-year old can start a fire with a flint rock even though a 36-year old man says they can only do it in the movies.

10. Certain LEGOs will pass through the digestive tract of a 4-year old.

11. Playdough and microwave should not be used in the same sentence.

12. Superglue is forever- especially in hair.

13. No matter how much Jell-O you put in a swimming pool you still can't walk on water.

14. Pool filters do not like Jell-O.

15. VCR's do not eject PB&J sandwiches even though TV commercials show they do.

16. Garbage bags do not make good parachutes.

17. Marbles in gas tanks make lots of noise when driving.

18. You probably do not want to know what that odor is.

19. Always look in the oven before you turn it on. Plastic toys do not like ovens.

20. The fire department in town has a 5-minute response time to my house.

21. The spin cycle on the washing machine does not make earthworms dizzy.

22. It will, however, make cats dizzy.

23. Cats throw up twice their body weight when dizzy.

24. The mind of a 6-year old is wonderful- as in:

One day the first grade teacher was reading the story of the Three Little Pigs to her class. She came to the part of the story where the first pig was trying to accumulate the building materials for his home. She read,"...And so the pig went up to the man with the wheelbarrow full of straw and said, 'Pardon me sir, but may I have some of that straw to build my house?"

The teacher paused then asked the class, "And what do you think that man said?" One little boy raised his hand and said, "I think he said...
'Holy Sh*t, a talking pig!"

The teacher was unable to teach for the next 10 minutes.


And...

Excerpts from Readers's Digest.

My 4 year old son came screaming out of the bathroom to tell me he'd dropped his toothbrush in the toilet.

So I fished it out and threw it in the garbage.

He stood there thinking for a moment, then ran to my bathroom and came out with my toothbrush.

He held it up and said with a charming little smile, "We better throw this one out too then, 'cause it fell in the toilet a few days ago.

--------------------

On the first day of school, a first-grader handed his teacher a note from his mother.

The note read, "The opinions expressed by this child are not necessarily those of his parents."

--------------------

A little girl had just finished her first week of school. "I'm just wasting my time," she said to her mother.

"I can't read, I can't write and they won't let me talk!"

--------------------

A little girl was talking to her teacher about whales.

The teacher said it was physically impossible for a whale to swallow a human because even though it was a very large mammal its throat
was very small.

The little girl stated that Jonah was swallowed by a whale.

Irritated, the teacher reiterated that a whale could not swallow a human, it was physically impossible.

The little girl said, "When I get to heaven I will ask Jonah".

The teacher asked, "What if Jonah went to hell?"

The little girl replied, "Then you ask him".

--------------------

The children had all been photographed, and the teacher was trying to persuade them each to buy a copy of the group picture.

"Just think how nice it will be to look at it when you are all grown up and say, 'There's Jennifer, she's a lawyer,' or 'that's Michael. He's a doctor.'"

A small voice at the back of the room rang out, "And there's the teacher. She's dead."

--------------------

A teacher was giving a lesson on the circulation of the blood.

Trying to make the matter clearer, she said, "Now, class, if I stood on my head, the blood, as you know, would run into it, and I would turn red in the face."

"Yes," the class said. "Then why is it that while I am standing upright in the ordinary positions the blood doesn't run into my feet?"

A little fellow shouted, "Because your feet aren't empty."

--------------------

The children were lined up in the cafeteria of a Catholic elementary school for lunch.

At the head of the table was a large pile of apples.

The nun made a note, and posted on the apple tray: "Take only ONE. God is watching." Moving further along the lunch line, at the other end of the table was a large pile of chocolate chip cookies.

A child had written a note, "Take all you want. God is watching the apples!"


Kids! You gotta love ‘em...