Saturday, August 8, 2009

iGoogle Latitude

We've had an interesting week using a new web device that #2 son, the techie guy, installed for us.  He bookmarked iGoogle for us and set it up so that what is displayed is the location of his blackberry, presumably always on his person.  Since he and his family were driving across Canada (in our car) we were able to track their progress, practically hour by hour.  It was fascinating, until Wednesday, when there apparently was no progress to report once they left Kenora, Ontario.  For 7 hours the icon said, "Kenora, 1 hour ago" right up to "Kenora, 7 hours ago".  I found it frightening.  Where were they?  What had happened to them?

We looked at the map and saw that between Kenora and Thunder Bay there is precious little in the way of population.  Could it be that there was no way to track their position, because they were out of reach of any positioning devices?  (towers? satellites? who knows?).  

We finally tried to call them on his blackberry, but had to leave a message, as there was no answer.  

Aha! Finally their icon reappeared in Thunder Bay, their destination for that day's drive.  A few minutes later they called us, and confirmed that the problem had been in a lack of Rogers coverage over the area of their travel for that day.  

Yesterday we were delighted to track their progress through Toronto, and safely to their destination in Niagara Falls.  

New technologies: often marvelous, sometimes frightening.

On the home front: 7 pints of raspberry jam, 12 quarts of Red Currant juice, goodness to be consumed in the winter months.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Cherry Juice!

This was a really busy day.  First of all, a walk, of course, though M. and I did the short one, just a mile and a half, because of a threat of rain.  It had rained during the night, again, and the weather was very cool, with a high of just +11 (about 52F). That made it a good day for picking.

S. picked almost three gallons of Nanking Cherries today, and I got five quarts of juice from them, using the steam juicer.  That'll be delicious next winter!

Also on the docket for today: a home perm for Jim, which turned out just great.  He looks so cute with curls!  Too bad I don't have a picture.

Baked five batches of brownies.  One for us, and four for the harp and fiddle concert that Arts Alive is sponsoring this Thursday evening.  Last year the harpist gave a concert here in the Arboretum.  It was a beautiful setting.  But the storms of this past weekend have caused so much damage to the trees there, that it's not safe for anyone to be there.  It will be two weeks before the damage is sufficiently cleared up for people to visit again.  We've moved the concert venue to the Baptist church hall.

Last year I made brownies for the same concert, and used a recipe from Epicurious.  This year I'm using a mix, and enriching it with butter.  Last year's brownies were truly sensational, but each batch of nine (3" x 3" each) used, among other things: 4 large eggs, 8 ounces of bittersweet chocolate, a cup of butter and two cups of sugar.  No wonder they were so terrific!  Tomorrow: another four batches of brownies.

Monday, August 3, 2009

First Fruits and some "grands"

We had a lovely visit from son #2 and his family, including their two delightful girls.
I picked them up from the airport on Friday morning.  We spent time relaxing on our
backyard deck that afternoon, while the young granddaughter (6) played in our backyard pool.

By the end of the day they were pretty tuckered out.  They had stayed overnight with cousins who live near the Vancouver airport, and had gotten very little sleep.  So they were soon ready for bed.

On Saturday the girls decided they wanted
to make some little pillows.  They each 
drew a design on a 10"x 10" sheet of graph
paper.  We chose some materials from my
stash.  I thought their color choices were 
terrific.  The flowers and leaves were
attached using steam-a-seam II, and 
Grammy put the satin stitch around the
applique, since that was a little beyond
them.  The older granddaughter (9) sewed
her pillow around three edges by machine
and we used some stuffing from grammy's stash.  I sewed the edges for the 6 year old.
Here's the happy girls with their unique pillows, and a proud grammy between them.

All too soon it was time for them to leave again, and this morning, bright and early, the family took off for an extended trip to eastern Canada.  Jim and I took a very long walk, over 4 miles, a good activity for a holiday morning.  Today is the "August Holiday" in Canada,  also known as "Heritage Day".  It's a way of enjoying a long weekend in August.

After a lazy day of catching up on our reading, we picked a gallon of Saskatoons, the fruit on the right.  Saskatoons are very similar to blueberries, but don't require the acid soil.  Our soil is quite alkalai, and the Saskatoons do well here.  They are a very fussy fruit, though, and if there is either frost or wind when they are blossoming, there is little fruit.  Another hazard is lack of water, which has certainly been our problem this year.  After showers the past weekend, we are at a season total of a little over 3".  

We have four 350' long rows of Saskatoon bushes, but only the few bushes on the east end are producing any amount of fruit.  These bushes were planted just the last few years, and are not crowded together like the rest of the rows, so the little moisture they received did not have to be shared so much with their neighbors.
Saskatoons make lovely muffins, jam, juice and wine.

Then after supper I went
 out and picked our first gallon on Nanking Cherries, the bucket on the left.  We have lots of Nanking Cherry bushes, and some of them are loaded this year.  That whole bucket came from one bush, and that bush still has lots of berries on it.  Nankings have a large pit in a small cherry, so I process them in the steam juicer.  The juice goes for drinking, for cherry jelly, syrup and wine.

We're just at the beginning of all this fruit processing.  Wonder how much I'll get done this year?