Thursday, July 30, 2009

Easy Fruit Dessert

Summer invites relaxation and I can't think of a simpler way to do this when it comes to easy desserts than fresh fruit. Squeeze some lemon onto the cantaloupe - tastes better that way. Relax and eat fresh fruit.

Monday, July 27, 2009

A Quiet Breath

Sometimes I think about life - its brevity.
And how, like a quiet shadow or breath,
it is here - and then,

Just, like that.
It takes my breath away.
(Photo by GG.)

Friday, July 24, 2009

Silent Pools

Silent pools deep in my thoughts,
no one knows how silence mocks,
places, faces, voices come,
words and smiles deceitful - numb.

You thought you knew, but knew you not,
chattering pain, foolish lot,
come no more, nor bid me - no,
cold foolish ways I've banished - go.

He'll show the way, and it will be
light and freedom, grace, not thee.
Retreat, go feast upon your plight,
my joy sees day, not dismal night.

(Today's post was supposed to be about Freezing Tomatoes. Seems Fun sniped the SD card from my camera, hence, we have no tomatoes. Furthermore, it was raining tonight and we all know how that goes. Photo: Shiny Pond on The Farm.)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

More From the Beach

A few more pictures from last week's foray to Seacliff Beach. We are vacationing in our own neck of the woods this summer and even gave up some baseball tickets rather than drive all the way to Toronto to see the Jays.
To the back and left of the little beach houses the land rises making a perfect spot for winter tobogganing and summer water sliding. The last time I was here in winter, my toes got frostbitten.
Further east toward the marina, facing the water, pretty gardens and these cheery birdhouses were visible to the public walkway. I've been wanting a birdhouse of some sort to transform a tree stump in our front yard. These provided some inspiration.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Vacation At Home

I'm not a beach person. I'm not a water person. It takes a lot of doing to get me anywhere near water even on a hot day. It's pretty, but I don't much like to be in it especially in the Annette Funicello sort of way. Lounging on a beach deflecting sunlight is not for me. I'd sooner be floating on Shiny Pond in a canoe reading a book. Or firmly planted on shore, frying a just caught fish over a wood fire. Or walking through the bush with paper and pen and camera, swatting the odd mosquito. We've been having a very cool summer here and that has been just fine with me. I like the fact that thus far, most nights this summer only flannel sheets will do. Coffee smells and tastes better in nippy air. I like wearing wool sweaters and trackpants in July. I really do.
Thursday this past week, GG suggested a trip down to the beach. It was the second hot day we've had this summer, something I truly do not mourn and GG's suggestion gave me a Red Green moment.
"Okay - I'll go - if I have too."
"You have your camera," he consoled. The water was white capped with a strong wind coming in off the lake. People were apparently enjoying their day at the beach. I wanted to leave. I can't understand it but that's just how it is. I saw a man in long trousers and jacket walking his dog. "AHA!" I thought, "Another me. He's as uncomfortable here as I am." But then I noticed him taking sideways glances at various bikini clad girls, while being pulled up the beach by the bounding dog. Aha. Another guy. Today GG asked me if I would like to travel north, a traditional thing many Southern Ontarians do to escape the heat here in southern Ontario. Usually, I would say yes, but this year, it's as if the north has come to us.
"It's nice where we are, don't you think?"
"Yes. It is," he answered.
And this has made me think about how we rush around doing things because it may seem fashionable or traditional or appealing. The weather has come to us and with a few day trips out here and there, we are enjoying vacation in our own backyard.

(Seacliffe Beach, Lake Erie, Ontario, Canada.)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

How to Make Laundry Detergent

I really hesitated putting up this post. I mean - how bizarre can it get - showing photos of the laundry? But then a few weeks ago Bob - an arty type with whom I've worked in several operettas dropped by looking for Violinist and took note of my laundry flapping in the breeze beneath the deck rafters. "Have you always hung out your laundry or have you gone green?" asked Bob.
"I've always hung out the laundry," I replied.
Bob continued, "My father-in-law used to paint things like laundry - ordinary things - it inspired him. He'd open a closet and ta da! Inspiration!"
So while Bob stood there smiling away at my laundry, I looked at it too, but somewhat less inspired...Am I ever glad I only did the boys underwear today...and then said, "I've never thought to paint the laundry. But I have taken photos of it. But I would only tell you that, Bob" ...Because you are arty and understand and no one else would think to ask me this and I wouldn't be having this conversation about painting laundry.
"Well, it looks like you've got a system," said Bob nodding upwards.
"Yes, yes, I've got a system"... and I am so glad that system includes doing dainty whites separate from boxers.
So here it is - for all the WORLD'S VIEWING PLEASURE!!! never mind Bob - Decadent Housewife's LAUNDRY flapping in the sunshine. Yes, clean and I suppose green too, given it's washed with homemade laundry detergent. I didn't think to tell Bob that.
It all came about one morning when faced with a mountain of dirty laundry, Decadent Housewife realized she had forgotten to buy laundry detergent and didn't feel like driving twenty miles to Town to buy some, which would take longer to do than just making some because she just happened to have all the ingredients on the laundry room shelf because I'm just weird like that.

I wanted to do this years and years ago but never got around to it and now kick myself for not having done so. It's as hard as making brownies - ridiculously simple, quick and cheap, CHEAP, CHEAP. Think of all the hmmm...stuff I could have bought with the savings.

I used a recipe from That British Woman's blog tweaking it a bit. I suspect I used double the amount of bar soap than needed because her recipe calls for one bar of soap while her photo shows a twin pack of Sunlight bars, each bar weighing only 130 grams. I used a 270 gram bar of Linda soap because it is half the price of the Sunlight and I used to live with an Italian girl who knew all about laundry and swore by Linda. I have noticed that the laundry now, except for the towels, is very soft to touch after line drying.

Laundry Detergent
  • 1/2 cup of borax
  • 1/2 cup of washing soda
  • 1 and 1/2 litres (6 cups) of hot water, lst amount
  • 9 litres of hot water, 2nd amount - I just filled the bucket to almost the top.
  • 1 bar of yellow laundry soap, Sunlight or Linda - I used a 270 gram bar of Linda.
Pour the lst amount of water into a stainless steel pot. I used an old granite wear canner, but will use the stainless steel cook pot in future because the bottom of the canner was uneven making stirring a problem. If you use a wooden spoon to stir, I'd recommend to keep it for just making soap. The flavour may permeate the wood and mess up anything else cooked with that spoon.Grate the bar soap and add it to the hot water. If you have to leave the grated soap unattended in the kitchen you may wish to put a note on it explaining that this is soap and not CHEESE. I did and still had wolves sniffing around. Stir over moderate heat until melted. Once the soap and water is mixed, whisk in the borax and washing soda. Stir until it thickens. It will be just gelatinous. Remove from heat. Next I poured the mixture into a bucket and then added the second amount of hot water whisking it in. It began to thicken up and took on a pearly appearance. Of course this was all very scientific looking and peaked GG's curiosity. A few minutes later he showed up with a long plastic tube with which he siphoned the liquid into empty detergent bottles he also had hidden in the Shop From Hell. The mixture thickened up nicely - maybe too much. After it cooled completely down in the bottles, it seemed a bit solid as if it wouldn't pour, but I really shook the bottles and was able to pour out the detergent. I did swish it around in the washer to be sure it was evenly distributed. Next time I will skip using the bottles and just pour it into a lidded bucket for storage.
I've been using 1/4 cup per large load. If the items are particularly soiled - up to 1/2 cup per large load. It will not suds up, so don't go looking for bubbles, however, this is big on savings. My batch filled up four jugs, less what got spilled onto the deck steps - approximately twelve litres. I didn't go and measure exactly. I did take time to do the sock test to see if the detergent truly cleaned. I smelled a just washed sock and it smelled clean.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

July Sky

The shift in the sound of wind rustling through the wheat fields indicates the grain is ripening - combines will soon be working the fields. On our bicycle ride, we noticed the change just overnight from quiet nothing to a distinct dry hiss, even after the previous day's heavy rainfall. This was Sunday, on our way home from church after having enjoyed a leisurely lunch in Town at Taco Tony's. I am now looking forward to learning how to make Shrimp Soup with Lime. Delicious.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Stratford Shakespeare Festival '09

When one thinks of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, one thinks of well, Shakespeare - Macbeth, Richard III, Romeo and Juliet - classical theatre - big costumes...ones that I know took months to make - drama. Canada's Shakespeare Festival is the best classical theatre in North America but they have been slowly adding in musicals until this season's musicals and modern plays outnumber The Bard. All may be forgiven when festival showpiece, "Westside Story" is reported in the L.A. Times as far superior to Broadway's.
A few weeks ago Violinist handed me tickets to the musical, "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum" and told me to choose another show for the same day. Thank you Violinist. xo. Four theatre locations make up the festival, this is the crown jewel, Festival Theatre, looking out over Queen's Park and the Avon River. Dozens of people carrying wicker baskets and little plaid blankets picniced down by the river before the matinee performances, while in a lovely shady area of the park artists displayed their works for purchase - Art in the Park. The Tom Patterson bridge spans the Avon across to a wee island. Patterson is the founder of Stratford's Shakespeare Festival. I'm showing you ducks and geese and swans, o my, because no photos are allowed inside the theatres. I noticed the same thing in the theatre giftshop - lots of pictures of birds. If it's good enough for them, then me too. The Avon River is home to many Canadian geese, mallards and swans. The swans are all micro-chipped and they winter indoors.After looking at the schedule, I choose Oscar Wilde's "The Importance of Being Earnest." Both it and "Forum" are playing at the Avon Theatre located downtown in a former vaudeville theatre, beautifully redone a few years ago in preparation for the festival's 5oth birthday celebration. Plays by Shakespeare were unavailable for the time I needed and I was a tad disappointed.
That is until I saw the photos - Macbeth wearing army fatigues - Lady Macbeth dressed in something akin to 1962 cocktail party wear. Army jeeps. It seems they have taken Macbeth out of Scotland and put him into mid 20th century Africa. I'll wait until they put him back into the century and country, where he belongs. Or rename it something else, like the writers of Westside Story did when inspired to update Romeo and Juliet."The Importance of Being Earnest" pokes fun at Victorian upper class society and I really didn't see what the program notes meant about it being relevant for today other than the fact that it is fluff and good entertainment; as funny and appreciated by modern audiences as in 1895. It was a very well done tight performance. I did not like the pointillist sets, though each brought applause when first revealed. Brian Bedford's Lady Bracknell sailed the stage, all moving wide of her wake. Algernon Moncrieff and John Worthing matched each other's wits and showed exactly where men's affections lay - food. Gwendolen Fairfax was clean if not a tad over affected. Cecily Cardew seemed a bit old for her purported 18 years but I liked her anyway.
"A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum" was very, very well done. I would not go see it again, however, on account of the ribaldry, something I think could be tamed despite it's obvious plot line - people weren't as enthusiastic after certain scenes. Nevertheless, the non-stop energy and loveableness of Bruce Dow and his character Pseudolus with Hero made a very short evening. Anyone who recalls Laugh-in would see the similarities. Chilina Kennedy played Hero's true love Philia, in a mix of Bernadette Peters and Georgia Engel's Georgette. Forum was a perfectly timed flawless presentation.
And so we spent a lovely day walking about the town of Stratford, Ontario - unpretentious little beauty bereft of any That-Marts. Between shows we lunched on this park bench which you can't see, because I'm sitting on it, looking across at this little monument of which I know nothing since I was relaxed and decided to just watch the flags flutter in the cool air whilst puffy clouds floated by, because it's allowed. A ducky day. It was a ducky day.

(Second last photo by GG.)

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Wheatfields at Dusk

In the last 48 hours I did laundry with homemade laundry detergent, fixed meals, fed men, fed cats, discovered kittens living beneath our deck, watched a funeral on TV while waiting for someone in the dentist office, read a book, soaked in a hot tub, ate one fat laden chocolate mint ice cream cone, ate several salads, stopped at Timmies more than I have in six months, drank champagne spiked with homemade elderflower cordial, pedaled thirty miles, drove 300 miles, walked kilometers, threw trail mix at mallards, chased a swan, ate a hotdog from a street vendor, ate in a sportsbar, sat on a park bench, attended a live musical, attended a live play, drove very very fast up the 401 - and very very fast down the 401, watched the full moon follow me home, thought about Auntie and Mother Brown, answered phone calls from Buff, "Where are you? Where's that? Where's the computer? Where's the other computer? Why are you there? Who's with you? What are you doing now? When are you coming home? This car is so stupid! Will you book my driver's education? See you tomorrow. I love you."

GG and I went to the Stratford Shakespeare Festival yesterday. These photos are actually from where we live taken on our bicycle ride the other night. GG took the one with the grain mill I took the one with the barn. It was late when we got in last night. I'll talk about Stratford later.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Cornfields Forever

Imagine. If the Beatles were Canadian, they may have written something about cornfields not strawberries. And no, those are not spots on Decadent's camera lens, those are crows. Really. They really are. Cornfields. Crows. They go together.

Monday, July 6, 2009

A Road More Traveled

I've been seeing a lot of this lately. In a mad attempt to cut a svelte figure in the Mother of the Groom dress, I've upped my three km daily walk to a daily 15 mile bike ride. Can you tell I'm Canadian - miles and kilometers all mixed up?

(Photo by GG. I was too busy sweating.)

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Upon the Pond

Summer days
beneath the haze,
I will sit with you,
upon the pond it's shiny face
in yonder red canoe.

I'll read you Keats
and maybe sleep,
awake and share a kiss,
summer days beneath the haze,
nothing else to miss.

(Hey. It was raining tonight, what can I say? And yeah, "yonder" is kinda' dorky but it needs two beats there and the only thing Buff could come up with was "teensy" and we ain't goin' there. Copyright. Daily Decadent. July '09)

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Canada Day

142 years old today.
Canada - not me!