Tuesday, 19 January 2016

It Works For Me

For the most part, I'm pretty good at maintaining a sensible diet. Since I have an intense sweet tooth and poor self control, I avoid eye contact with sugary grocery store confections and usually bring home only healthy choices. Maybe once a year, I'll fall off the wagon and purchase a litre of heavenly hash ice cream. And like the hound dog that I am, I eat it too fast. And I feel ill. And I'm reminded again of why I have my 'just don't bring it home' rule.

But one evening a few weeks ago, while lounging on the good old couch and watching Netfix movies, I had a strong craving for something rich in sugar and fat. Something akin to cheese cake or up-market chocolates. My pantry held nothing of the sort. But thanks to my dear little honey bees, I always have a shelf of honey filled jars. And I always have peanut butter which, combined with lard, forms the basis of suet cakes I make for my backyard birds. I also just happened to have had some cream cheese in the refrigerator. The following is now my 'go to' source for a sweet indulgence.

In a small bowl, mix together one tablespoon of peanut butter, one tablespoon of cream cheese and one teaspoon of honey.

Have at it and let me know what you think. Oh, and it wouldn't hurt to sprinkle on a few chocolate chips. 

A satisfying, no-bake winter snack that I'm enjoying this winter.

A downy woodpecker and a tree sparrow replenish their fat reserves.

In this bitter cold, we all need some extra fat in our diet.

Monday, 18 January 2016

Winter Furs

As we are in the depth of winter, I can't help but admire some local fur coats. And of course I mean those worn by their rightful, original owners.

A plump red squirrel in a cozy, rust coloured coat.

Former feral and now pampered pet, Ellie Mae, doesn't ask to go outside much these days. Aside from the cold, she seems to dislike the local tom cats who prowl about the property. I've seen her run off smaller females who wander in but she is no match for the big old toms. When she spots one from her window seat, she stands up and growls. But I feel sorry for these seemingly wild wanderers and during the cold months I keep a handout dish in my garage to supplement their hunting. The following black and white snaps were from the trail camera I have set up in my garage.

Night visitors (top to bottom) Thomas, Gray Owl and Cisco.

As snow falls, wandering Cisco examines a dried leaf.

On a cold and windy morning, Thomas hunts for mice.

He spots a hopeful sign. A moving twig, perhaps?

Her Ladyship, Ellie Mae, keeps watch from her window bed.

Sunday, 10 January 2016

Some Rain Must Fall

"Into each life some rain must fall," wrote Henry Longfellow in his poem, The Rainy Day. And this January day has rain aplenty, accompanied by strong winds that banshee howl against the house. As the temperature falls those rain drops become coatings of ice, and broadcasts advise against unnecessary travel.

Ice coated branches add sparkle to the yard.

And so it's a perfect day to say indoors and transform the beeswax I've collected last summer into candles. In previous winters, I used the traditional dip method to make tapers. That was all fine and dandy but the candles were a little tricky to fit reliably into candle holders which seem to lack standardization. This time I'm using a silicone candle mold to make a self standing 5 inch hexagon model. Yes Peter, I'm your copy cat.

Beeswax melting in an old double boiler.

The melted wax will be poured into this silicone candle mold.

A morning's production yields about nine candles.

A beeswax candle adds light and sweet fragrance to a gloomy day.

The Rainy Day
The day is cold, and dark, and dreary;
It rains, and the wind is never weary;
The vine still clings to the mouldering wall,
But at every gust the dead leaves fall,
And the day is dark and dreary.

My life is cold, and dark, and dreary;
It rains, and the wind is never weary;
My thoughts still cling to the mouldering Past,
But the hopes of youth fall thick in the blast,
And the days are dark and dreary.

Be still, sad heart! and cease repining;
Behind the clouds is the sun still shining;
Thy fate is the common fate of all,
Into each life some rain must fall,
Some days must be dark and dreary.

  --  Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807 - 1882)

Saturday, 2 January 2016

Hungarian Surprise

Each morning my cat friend, Ellie Mae, sits on her window-view bed and surveys the backyard. She is usually bored with and mostly ignores the birds coming to the nearby feeder but this morning her body language expressed an interest in something unusual. And not for the first time, I set down my coffee cup and removed myself from the comfort of the couch to see what she found so fascinating. Foraging beside my picket fence were six Gray Partridge (a.k.a. Hungarian Partridge). Well spotted, Ellie!

Gray Partridge foraging in the early hours of my backyard.

Checking the snow for seeds, this one ventures forth.

Six ribbons of Gray Partridge tracks on the snow.