Friday, 30 January 2009

The rogue mother of all vinegars

Making herbal concoctions, usually tinctures, is one of my passions.

Usually I use Smirnoff 50% wodka, but for this batch of fall-dug Dandelion root I choose organic unpasteurized Apple Cider Vinegar, or ACV. A squirt of it makes a nice winter drink mixed with honey and hot water. ACV tinctures only lasts a year, but it is cheap and it has all sorts of health benefits as well.

Live vinegar still has some strands of Mother of Vinegar in it. That's fine.

But this mother went absolutely nuts on the Inulin, the precious sugar compound that is to the Dandelion what fat is to a bear. It helps it get through winter. Last year when I didn't wait as long to decant the tincture the Inulin showed up as a nice white layer at the bottom of the jar.

Inulin is not digested in the small intestine, so if all is well it makes it into your colon, where it becomes food for good bacteria like bifidus. That is known as a Pre-biotic. Food for the good wee beasties, the Pro-biotics.

If you are severely depleted in intestinal flora it may give you gas.

Anyway, look what this crazy Mother did. It ate most of the Inulin, and grew to monstrous size. You could peel layers off, a lot like a Kombucha culture.

Is it good for anything? Apart from making more vinegar, which doesn't interest me.

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

The Joy of Farmers' markets (again and more)

Guess what: I just got my first batch of SEEDS in! Can spring be far behind? Actually it can, but I am chomping at the bit to get started. As soon as the Moon is past full the first seeds will go into their baby pots. Leeks take forever and are quite demanding, so they need a good long headstart.

I have big plans this year, not only for my own use but also for the farmers market. We had a shortage of vegetable bedding plants last year, so this year I'll start some extra for sale. The weekly market is the highlight of my life in summer. I started going with my Amazon Rainforest business, and brought a few plants along. To make a long story short, the plants took over. Last year I started doing Reflexology demonstrations as well, a dollar a minute. It was a big hit on warm days! The picture above has been posted before. It is a few years old, when I still had the Amazon business and would pour samples of Rainforest Treasure Tea. For the record: I did not quit the business, the Canadian government made things too hard for the company. I am still choked about it.
This is the ancient Subaru that I used to call the Silver Wreck, but have recently started to call Survivor. My husband's tender handling and sheer willpower has kept it going well beyond its expected lifespan. It is used mainly to take plants to the market and garbage to the dump, and as extra vehicle for Chris in case I am off with the good car.

Detail. It truly is a miracle the thing is still going.

Chris starting on the canopy. It is old, but still perfectly fine. Next year I might get one of those easy things that just unfold. It is really nice to have help in getting the booth up and ready to go.
No matter how early you start, some "early birds" will be running around trying to beat everyone to eggs, fresh bread or tomato plants.The market is underneath some glorious big Acacia trees. This is what you see in June when you look straight up. The smell is incredible. I heard that the trees were planted by returning WWI veterans, who had gathered seeds at the Champs Elysées. I would have to check with our local historian, but doesn't it make a great story?

The market on a busy summer morning. People come and hang out. It is getting busier all the time!
The booth of my best market buddy. Colette is a market onto herself. She has plants, produce, bread, relishes, hand-made crafts ranging from Moon pads to juggling sticks and gorgeous baskets, massage lotions, you name it. Our lines overlap but we are always helping each other out. The whole market is like that. We all try to help each other. I love it, and I can hardly wait till we get going again on the Victoria Day weekend!!

Friday, 23 January 2009

City of my heart

Some of my Dutch pictures. I have not the slightest desire to return there to live. But Amsterdam will always tug at my heartstrings. I was happy there in my early twenties.

My family of origin is all in the Netherlands, so I have made regular visits back.

Amsterdam was a very different town back in the sixties. The place has always been liberal, and the red-light district in the "walletjes" has been there for ages. But the walk from Grand Central Station to Dam square was not an assault on the senses with ugly blaring blatant sex ads everywhere.

The Jordaan, now a gentrified prize location, was still a working class neighborhood, albeit with a sprinkling of students and artists.

I'll do more another time, but I just had to post these pictures I found on the "miscellaneous"CD that was made from old regular negatives.


Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Happy Obama Day!

Just a quicky note to congratulate all my American friends on a peaceful transition of power. So much for all the conspiracy doom sayers who were predicting martial law etc by now.

We were glued to the TV, watching history in the making.

There is hope for the world!

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Wasted time, and some gelo-therapy

I am really ticked off.

I spent several hours on a thoughtful essay on the definition of racism. One of those rare times when I don't just dash it off, but actually polish the style, move blocks of texts around, decide a big chunk should become an essay of its own, and so on.

Just before the end I got tired of it and stuck it in Draft. And decided to do a little fluff piece, started on it, but didn't feel like getting the camera for the picture that was part of it, and stuck it in Draft too.

It turns out you cannot do that. Only the fluff piece remains. DAMN.

But I did get a chance to do a bit of blog visiting, and a friend's religious jokes prompted me to finally post this one. It cracks me up every time I tell it.

Some Gelo-Therapy*

*Healing through humor. Taking ourselves too

seriously is the cause of much suffering.

Saint Peter has been manning the Pearly Gates for

many centuries, and the novelty has worn off.

He goes to see Management and says: “I really need

a break. Any chance Junior here could fill in for

me for a while?“ Jesus being the good sort that

He is agrees to take over and reports for training.

“It’s pretty straightforward”, says Peter. “We have

all the records in this big Akashic filing system here.

All you have to do is ask who they are, the rest is

on automatic Karma pilot.”

And so it proves to be. All is well till a dignified

elderly man with handsome Mediterranean features

shuffles forward.

“I can’t remember my name” says he. “The whole

recent past is a bit fuzzy. But I do remember this:

“I worked with wood.

I had a son who became very famous.

My son taught many people important moral lessons…”

Taken aback, Jesus looks into the old man’s eyes.

“DAD??” he asks.

And the old man replies:

carefully crafted pause.....


Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Snowy heroism

We finally got CABLE!!! Yeeha!! The router connection seems to flicker on or off a lot, I will have this machine hard-wired soon. That means a bunch of ugly wire strung along the ceiling from the living room to this back bedroom, but it will be worth it. This is an old trailer anyway, not exactly Martha Steward or Colin and Justin territory.

Anyway......It has been snowing. And snowing some more. For almost a month now.
Husband Chris has been doing a heroic job keeping the driveway and parking space clear. Today we are expecting a professional with a machine, only the second time this year. It was insane yesterday. It snowed the way it rains near Vancouver: there is less space between the drops there. Then it got too warm and wet, heart attack snow.
So, with the new ability to post pictures quickly, here are some pictures of the man at work.
He has it down to a fine art. Goes out for a half hour, comes back in to rest for an while, and so on. Scoop it, push it around, pile it on top of an ever-growing pile.... and start all over again. I would feel guilty if it were not for the fact that I do 90% of the outside work in summer. That is a choice, I live to garden. But still. Anyhow, it sure is nice to not have to worry about snow removal, and I appreciate it!