Archive for January, 2013


Winter Sunset

These beautiful winter sunsets just never get old.

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Great Scot! It’s Rabbie Burns Day again. By way of honouring the bard, we had cranachan for dessert. Cranachan is a traditional Scottish dish, usually served in the summer, but in modern times also enjoyed on special occasions such as Burns Day. Recipes vary, but all are very simple.

Toast oats, fine or flaked according to personal preference, in a frying pan or on a baking sheet, until lightly browned.

Whip half a cup or so of whipping cream until stiff. Then whip in a couple of tablespoons each of Scottish malt whiskey and runny honey.

In glasses or parfait dishes, swirl together or layer the oats and the cream along with a half pint of fresh raspberries.

There should be enough Scotch left to raise a glass in a toast to one of Scotland’s favorite sons.

For more on Robert Burns, and an interpretation of his poem To a Mouse, follow this link to last year’s Burns post.

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I’ve been neglecting The Chronicles. You might imagine something exciting has taken over my life, but no, I have just been filling my days with mundane chores. With over 1000 posts, The Chronicles have taken on something of a life of their own, with a continuous flow of visitors to older posts. The snapping cold weather we’ve been experiencing makes sitting by the fire with a good book more tempting than blogging.


After a January thaw that reduced our snow cover by half, the mercury has again recoiled to the bottom of the thermometer. We heat our house with a combination of a high-efficiency propane furnace and a wood-burning fireplace. A wood fire is very cozy, but it does require quite a bit of work. A quote, most often attributed to Thoreau, notes that wood warms you twice, once in the cutting and once in the burning.


I have many years of experience with splitting wood and would claim a modest level of proficiency. But my strength is limited. On a mild winter day, large logs defeat my best efforts. Wood splitting is a task that lends itself to cold weather. The colder the day, the easier it is to split a log. On really frosty days, the logs split easily with an effortless rap of the axe. If the temperature drops low enough, I can pretty much split the toughest log in the woodpile! And, as Thoreau noted, the exercise warms you until you return back inside and settle beside the fire with your book.


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Fade to Black

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Our Christmas tree is standing near the birdfeeder now, providing a perching spot for birds and a bit of greenery outside the door. We enjoyed a pleasant holiday, with our three daughters all home for Christmas. Of course, sharing time with family is the best part of Christmas, but we also shared some wonderful handmade gifts this year.


Here’s Fiddlegirl with the Willow House sign she made for my garden. Isn’t it perfect? She has become a proficient woodworker. For my December birthday, I was thrilled to receive a Purple Martin House that she constructed.


I’ve been wanting one since Seabrooke told me she could hear martins down by the pond a few years ago. I can’t imagine them turning down such elegant accommodations this spring.


Seabrooke’s imagination and ingenuity shine through in this accent lamp she made.


She also etched this charming kitten design on a wine glass for me.


This family tree, which is now gracing our front hall, was designed and assembled by Ponygirl. Beautiful and unique!


For my part, I completed a couple of crochet and knitting projects, and for Ponygirl and her beau, painted this landscape designed for over their sofa.


Here it is in situ.

Finally, here are Macy and Remy with Ponygirl. At Christmas, like every other day of the year, their presence in our lives is a gift.


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Charlie Surprised by Snow

For some reason, Charlie Bird didn’t migrate to the garden shed this fall, and was surprised to find himself neck-deep in a snowdrift. To see the rest of Charlie, follow this link.

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Happy 2013! I hope you enjoyed a pleasant holiday season and wish you all the best for the upcoming year.

As you grow older, time seems to speed up. With each passing year, the days and weeks grow shorter and shorter. Can it really be that we are already nearly two weeks into 2013? Amazing. With each passing year, a big snowstorm becomes more and more of a bother and less and less fun, so perhaps it is just as well that the winter is speeding by.

Here is southeastern Ontario, we had a white Christmas, with a significant snowfall a few days before the 25th. This was followed up after Boxing Day with a major storm that blanketed the landscape with an additional foot of snow.


We’ve also had some crisp, cold days, with the temperature dipping below -20 C. This is rather reassuring to those of us who grew up in the 1950s and 60s. It seems “right”, the way winter is supposed to be. But actually, all the snow and cold has been something of a mirage. In spite of winter cold snaps and a snowfall that set a one-day record in Montreal, a few hours east of here, December was warmer than normal. It just shows how deceptive appearances can be.


The Weather Network had this to say about December:

Temperatures across southern Ontario were a couple of degrees above normal for December,” says Dayna Vettese, a meteorologist at The Weather Network. “Normally, Toronto sits at about 1°C for daytime highs in December, but in December 2012, Toronto was 4°C. The same goes for southwestern and eastern Ontario.

After a nippy start to the New Year, temperatures for January have taken an upswing too. Today, the mercury climbed above 0 C and light precipitation fell as rain.

blue jays

In fact, if you are 27 years old or younger, you’ve probably never experienced a colder-than-average month (global average, local conditions vary).

Climate Central’s Andrew Freedman notes the last cooler than average month globally occurred in February, 1985 (almost 28 years ago), “the year the hit film “Back to the Future” [the original, not the sequels] first hit theaters”.

“To put it another way, if you are under the age of 27, you have never experienced a month in which global average surface temperatures came in below the 20th century average,” Freedman writes. (Washington Post)

The weather’s just not what it used to be.

joe crow

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Undercover Car

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