Saturday, August 20, 2011

Mapping in Uncharted Waters

I'm copying this entry from my geocaching blog.    My original geocaching blog had a good following, and this blog does also, but I since I could not connect the two I created a new geocaching blog, connected to this account.  People aren't really finding that one so I may give up trying to keep the two separate in the future.

I have acquired a new GPS.  I have a cyber buddy who recently became interested in geocaching, after listening to me tell my tales for the past 4 years.  When he showed me some screen captures of what his gadget could do, I knew it solved my problem.  Normally, when we go geocaching, I print off a stack of pages for the caches we want to find.  Sometimes we don't do all of them and I store the left overs in a binder.  The binder has become rather full, and really, that's a big waste of paper and ink if we never go looking for those caches....or if I get frustrated looking for the right ones and print off new ones. 

My friend's new GPS is a paperless model. That means that he can see whatever is on the web page, right there on the GPS.  He does not have to print off a hard copy like I have had to do.  He also downloaded some more detailed maps, and I can tell you that the maps that come with these units don't show any of the back roads we would normally be travelling, or for that matter the highway that runs through my village.  Oh sorry, it's now a county road....but still, it should be on there.

I had been considering getting either a laptop or a tablet, so we could look up caches where ever we might be.  Of course, you can't always get a signal, so I was hesitating.  Until my friend showed me his Dakota20, I didn't know you could get a paperless GPS.  He had told me what he paid, and thought he got a good bargain.  Then suddenly GPS City was advertising the Dakota20 for a lot less than even my friend paid. And the sale was only good for a couple of days.

Well I have a GPS, so at first I ignored the sale.  Then I thought a bit, and realized the main reason I wanted a tablet, or whatever, was so we could go geocaching where ever we might be.  The GPS was certainly a lot cheaper than a tablet or a laptop, and it would save me a fortune in paper and ink as well.  I quit hesitating and ordered it.

Then the fun began. My friend insisted that I would find the Dakota20 a lot more useful if I downloaded a better map.  There are some you can buy, and there are some you can get for free. I opted to try a free one first, but the Canadian ones were no longer available for direct download so it was suggested I get one by something called Bit Torrent.  What the heck is that?  I went to watch the video that was supposed to guide me though that, but it started out by trying to get me to download the thing that had been disabled.  So much for that.  My friend jumped in and sent me a couple of map files to try, but he didn't tell me how to load them, no matter how many times I asked.

Now, let's consider that I have found at least 209 caches so far, without the aid of a fancy map.  That includes the 4 I've located since this new gadget arrived this week.  We could carry on as we always have, and I'd only have to print a map of the area we were about to cover.  That still saves a lot of paper and ink.  But I'm stubborn, and decided to keep trying, just to see if a fancier map would really make that much of a difference.

Today I finally figured out how to do it.  It took me 3 days....and I used to think I was pretty good at this technical stuff.  When I opened that map though, it wasn't any different than the one I already had....other than that it didn't have the geocaches I'd loaded onto the other one.  Back to square one. But at least now I have a clue how to get the maps to show up on the GPS.  I'll try the other map file tomorrow. I hope loading and deleting multiple maps doesn't fragment the drive on the GPS as that could slow things down.  This is new territory for me, so if you have any advise, I'd be happy to listen.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Fair Results

I recently mentioned I was asked to sit in a garden full of hostas and paint for the afternoon.  Well, this was certainly an new experience. I've never painted hostas before, and I've certainly never painting where others could watch me before either. 
I just finished the first of 3 hosta paintings I started for that event.  It was rather an ambitious undertaking, and since I finished it just in time for the fair, I decided to enter it to see how it would do.  Usually I win something for my paintings, and that's always a great way for me to get the encouragement I need to continue. I've never pretended to be an artist, but I do like to paint.
Well, this one didn't win anything at the fair. 

Actually, the acrylic one didn't either. I was more surprised by that as I really thought it would catch someone's attention.  Oh well. Maybe there was a lot more competion this year.  That's not a bad thing, since when I first started entering paintings in the fair, it was because the quality of what I was seeing there was such that I figured these people just slapped some paint on some paper at the last minute, just so they could enter something.  It made me feel like I had a chance, and I did well.

Now, I know that I'm a lot better now than I was then, so it's not that I've gone downhill, but rather that the competition has gotten better. That's certainly okay with me.  It makes for a much better show.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Change In Nature

I have an apple tree in the back yard. About this time if year it starts dropping apples and I go out and pick them up. I sort them into baskets of those that will go directly into the trash, and those that I may be able to get some good bits off of, to make apple sauce and the occasional pie.  I haven't sprayed the tree in years, due to windy conditions, so most end up in the trash.

The trick as always been to get out there first thing in the morning and get all the new apples picked up. If I waited, the wasps, slugs, ants, and crows would beat me to them and it's amazing how quickly they gobble them up.  The squirrels also help themselves, and one year I even found proof that a bear had come to check out my tree.

One year we had been away for a few days and when we came back there were more than the usual number of apples on the ground.  I went out to get them later in the day, when there were lots of wasps about. I got a bucket and a shovel, and I carefully scooped up the apples and dropped them into the bucket. When the bucket was full, I'd slide the shovel through the bucket's handle and pick it up that way so it would be a safe distance away.  As I was being careful, the wasps were still with the apples as I took them to the garden and dumped them there. 

I had made several trips when my hubby came around the house and spotted me. I could see by the look on his face that he was alarmed. Here I was, in my shorts and sandals, totally surrounded by wasps flying low to the ground.  I was afraid he would excite them so I quickly told him to calm down and go away. I told him I was fine, that I'd been there, doing that, for the past half hour and I was in no danger of being stung unless he got the wasps excited.

I think of this now, as I've just come in from picking up apples. There were no wasps.  None. No slugs or earwigs either.  Heck, this year the crows aren't even bothering to sit in the tree and pick at the apples until they fall off. Only the occasional squirrel has helped himself to an apple this year.  That's fine with me, but I'm finding it very strange.  Where are the wasps?  For that matter, where are the slugs and earwigs?  And why have the crows suddenly decided my apples aren't worth the effort? 

Ha.  Come to think of it, I haven't bothered with them myself this year.  Any I've picked up have gone straight to the trash. I have only tasted a couple of bites off of two of them so far, but have not even thought about trying to cook some up. When the tree was in full bloom this year, a big wind came and blew most of the blossoms off.  Usually I'm all worn out from processing them by now.  Luckily for me, there aren't many out there this year.  Maybe I'll look forward to a good crop next year.  Maybe I'll have to fight for my share again.  Maybe......

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Back on the Job

I'm an official recipe tester for Chatelaine magazine. (see Working in an Official Capacity and  Kitchen Experience ). 

I turned down the last assignment because it was for gluten free recipes, and I didn't want to have to buy strange flours I'd never use again.  I told them that and also told them I hoped that wouldn't knock me off the list for future assignments. The recipes I didn't want to test can be found in the September issue.

Now they are lining up testers to do some baking, I can only assume is for the Christmas season.  I was contacted and I jumped at the chance.  I was sent 10 recipes and I have to bake at least 2 of them. I didn't have too much trouble narrowing down which recipes I'm going to try. I may do as many as 4, but I've only got a couple of weeks, so we'll see.  I can't tell you any more than that.  You will have to wait patiently until the issue comes out to know specifically what recipes I tested. 

Let's just hope I don't gain too much weight taste testing along the way.

Monday, August 8, 2011

I've Run Out of Time

Well, I said I'd try to take you along with me on some of my rambles, and I managed to get some of them in here, but not everything.

If I didn't mention The Basket Case in Morrisburg, I'm giving it the highest rating for where to have lunch, or even just dessert. It was the first time we've ever been there, and you can be sure it won't be the last. 

If things like Whiskey Apple Cake, or Raspberry Port Cake (it's chocolate) don't tempt you, then maybe a nice piece of quiche and a lovely salad for just $6.99 might get you in the door.  As you can see, the walls are lined with local art, and there are other lovely gift items at the front of the shop too.  Well worth a stop, even if you aren't hungry.

We did locate a Stone Cold Creamery in the Tim Hortons across the street from where we saw Sir John Eh? on Friday night. (our previous search) The play was in an old stone church and it was quite hot in there, so an ice cream treat seemed like a perfect way to end the evening.  It's a good thing we were hot, and that the ice cream was good. These treats cost us over $11....but now we can at least say we tried them.
We had the medium size in a waffle cup.  You can get a smaller one, in a normal paper cup for somewhat less.  Mine was raspberry ice cream with blueberries and strawberries mixed in. Hubby's was vanilla with crushed oreo cookies, chocolate chips and chocolate syrup. There were lots of other choices and apparently you can even just tell them what you want and they will mix it to your specifications.

We also took in the Sheep Dog Trials, down near Kingston on Saturday. This was an extremely well organized event, and if you have never been, I recommend it. There were more than just sheep dogs there, and if you wanted something a little more exciting, there were wolves and tigers and eagles and other interesting things to see.  I'm not sure I'd have put my small child in the front row. This tiger may have been just a young one, but those kids still look too much like tiger food to me.

I've run out of time and while what I've shown you is not everything I saw and did over the past couple of weeks, I hope you enjoyed going along for the ride

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Sir John Eh?

A couple of years back a cousin of mine tried to convince me that we were related to Sir John A. Macdonald, Canada's first Prime Minister.  I had not heard of this before, and decided to try to find the connection.  My great grandmother was Catherine Macdonald, but if you've ever looked at the Macdonald family you would immediately notice that there are an over abundance of Johns, James, Hughs, Alexanders and Catherines.  It's not easy to keep them all straight, but I'm sure I did rule out any possibility of any direct line relationship.  His only son that survived to adulthood, Hugh John Macdonald, who became the Premier of Manitoba married, but had no children. That was the end of the family line on the male side, and any females would, of course, have changed names upon marrying. 

I've been asked to check out lines from Sir John's brothers, or even his father's brothers. I will if I ever get time.  But really, I suspect my cousin's parents just told her that to make her feel special.  I remember my own Dad telling me I was a direct descendant of some Greek royalty, but I don't believe that's true either. I'm sure he just wanted me to feel like a princess.

Last night we went to see a play called Sir John Eh? which was advertised as a musical comedy.  There was music, and the odd funny bit here and there, but mostly it tried to pass on historical bits about Sir John and his life and career.  He was a bit of a scoundrel and a well known drunk.  Here's a wee excerpt from the play:
John A.: I never took bribes for my own use. I may have spent a few tax dollars at Mrs. Grimason's tavern. On my constituents. It was the custom of the day. Courtney: But you did takes bribes.
John A.: To pass along to others. Of course. Wheels don't turn if they don't have grease. Buy a man a drink, you've got his vote. Unless he's a Methodist. Make him a senator, he's yours for life. Bribery is an essential tool of government. Let me give you an example. (Sets the scene) I was fresh from winning the election in '87, giving my usual "Canadians have spoken their minds" speech - "Not for sacks of Yankee gold," sort of thing ...
Shortly after that the modern day character named Courtney blamed Sir John for setting a precedent for all the politicians we have today.  A bunch a corrupt bunch of liers, was the gist of what she called them.  And it was all his fault!

The play went on to indicate that he managed to impregnate the above mentioned Mrs Grimason during a time when both his first wife and her husband were still alive. In fact, the play made it look like his wife died while he was at the tavern for the night.  He went away for several months and and when he returned  he had married a woman that the play indicated was such a snob her nose dented her forehead.  He claimed that was his biggest mistake, as he would rather have taken up with the widowed Mistress of the bar.  That may have just been part of the play too. Who knows?

I'm no longer so sure I want to find myself related to this fellow, though apparently he was quite acceptable as a man of the day in which he lived.

I do like one of his sayings, and will try to remember it when things go wrong.

"When fortune empties her chamber pot on your head," Sir John A. once said, "smile and say we're going to have a summer shower."

The way the world is going lately, it sure feels like that chamber pot has been dumped.  And hey, we could use those summer showers right about now, right?

Monday, August 1, 2011

A Bit of False Advertising Leads to Adventure

It seems Tim Horton's now has Stone Cold Creamery at some of their locations. I've got a coupon so that if I buy one ice cream treat, I get another one for free. I knew there was no ice cream at any of the Tim Horton's around here, so I put in my postal code and did a search for the nearest location where this would be available.  The search came up with two possibilities.  One was on Bank Street in Ottawa, and the other was in Elgin Ontario, which is down highway 15 toward Kingston. I couldn't believe that, so I double checked it. 

It was decided that today would be a good day to go geocaching, so we decided to go to Elgin for an ice cream treat.  Of course, once we got there, there was not only no Stone Cold Creamery, there wasn't even a Tim Hortons.  That really was no surprise, but it's strange that the search engine brings it up as if there were.

Now, if I had clicked on the little bubble, I would have seen this....

And that would indicate that I needed to go all the way to the 401 to get the ice cream. But for some reason it still says Elgin Ontario...which is not near the 401.  Just a sneaky way to get people to go to Elgin perhaps?

Anyway, we did some geocaching, and then dropped into the local restaurant to have a cool drink.

No, not that kind. 

The geocaching part of this story can be found at

Vendors Everywhere I Go

Sunday we spent a few minutes at Merrickville's Canalfest.  There were the usual craft vendors, silent auction, Voyageur Canoe Race and, of course, musical entertainment. 

One thing I notice, at all the craft fair events, is that there are an over abundance of jewelry makers out there this year.  The only interest I have in those stalls is to see if anybody has come up with something different that I might like to try making myself.

A few of them sell interesting beads and pendants, as well as jewelry. It's just a good thing I have enough stuff around the house waiting to be strung up as it is, as I've seen some interesting ones over the past few days. I have been able to resist, however.  Next year, when I'm looking for such things, there won't likely be any.

It was too hot to stay long, and I had grocery shopping to do, so we set off to Kemptville.

First stop on a Sunday is always the Kemptville Farmer's Market.  There are a lot of different farmer's markets in the area, and I like to visit them, when I can.  I think the Kemptville one is the best though.  There is always a wide variety of vendors there, and there seems to be a lot of good sampling to be had too.  I experienced pickled jalapeno peppers (I saw "Pickle" and it was green, so I got a surprise when I tasted that!), a couple of different shortbreads (I liked the one with the toffee bits), and a few different kinds of strange looking cucumbers and tomatoes.

The highlight of this market trip was these interesting vegetables are grown in Oxford Mills by Luke Swale.  I was told that they plan to grow something new and different every year.  Check out their website at . Personally, I'm bookmarking that one.

I came home with a nice loaf of bread and an assortment of freshly dug potatoes.  I likely should have made off with a few of those cute cucumbers too.  Oh well, maybe next time.....