Friday, October 30, 2009

Tomato Recipe

A few posts back I wrote a piece about how much I liked tomatoes. I referred to a recipe, but didn't have it . So here's the super recipe for eggs and tomato.

Baked Eggs Bulgarian Style
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tomato
4 oz feta cheese
2 eggs
Pinch each of paprika, salt, pepper

Preheat oven to 350F(180C) Pour olive oil into a cold oven proof pan or baking dish while someone else slices the tomato. Place slices of tomato into pan/dish and crumble half the feta cheese over top. Break the two eggs over the tomato and feta and sprinkle the remaining feta, paprika,salt and pepper. Bake uncovered until the eggs are set and feta has melted...about 20 minutes.In the meantime chop fresh oregano . Just before serving sprinkle oregano on top of dish.

This recipe comes from James Barber (the Urban Peasant) from his cookbook Cooking for Two.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Authors Valued

It's time to acknowledge that I have two valued authors who help me on Hiawatha house. Ialso hope that they will post their own work from time to time to make the blog more interesting.

Jock Mackenzie joined me a few months ago. I had taught with Jock and he was also assistant administrator and as a result supervised me. I valued his observations as he always left me feeling supported and left a few tips to help me. I was looking for someone to help me with some editing and since I had confidence and trust in Jock I requested his time. He has edited, but mostly he's given me inspiration and topics that get me on a roll. He produces his own which I follow and highly recomend to you.

MK joined me last week after much pleading on my part (seriously, not THAT much pleading). MK was a student of Jock's for gr.7,and is actually my daughter. I have worked with her before and she's a stickler on form, punctuation and sentence structure. Some of my long rambling awkward sentence structure will have to go! I hope she will post from time to time as she has opinions which are well supported. Maybe there will be some American perspective as she resides near Chicago. She has agreed to try her best to check in from time to time and review postings...

So welcome to Jock and MK.

Any good blog needs a mascot so Maggie has agreed to be the mascot for Hiawatha house. Maggie says "hello" to all and enjoys keeping up with her grampa's blog postings. Maybe one of these days she'll post a message of her own.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Julie and Julia

Just when you've got a couple of things lined up to post to Hiawatha House, whammo! Something else comes along that just has to be posted.

Last night I went to the movie "Julie and Julia". I thoroughly enjoyed it. I had read articles about the movie and Meryl Streep's performance before , but I had forgotten about the movie. Of course, I wandered into the movie not knowing what it was, so the surprise was that much better when I found I was watching a fine movie.

It's interesting how the plot was set up with Julia Child's biography, and then Julie trying to write a blog by cooking Child's recipes for a year. There were some similarities. Both had conflicts with publishers . However , both dealt differently with challenges. Julia Child tended to bumble through the challenges while Julie worried intensely. Neither one knew much about publishers. Both had supportive husbands. Julie and Julia were almost at opposite ends of the societal scale. Julia cruised in high society while Julie lived in a crummy flat above a pizza joint. Julie just scraped by economically while Julia lived the life of luxury. It was a unique way to cover Child's biography, which on it's own I think would have been a tough sell.

What really caught my attention was the blog aspect which carried the plot along. Since I am keenly interested in blogs, that made the movie much more interesting. I could identify with the struggling blogger.

So if you want to watch a very funny movie, see "Julie and Julia".

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Write...Then Research?

      Yes I've just committed this error. I wrote a blog and posted on Hiawatha House without doing research first. When I researched immediately after posting the blog I found all kinds of in formation on Theodore Taylor and his novel  The Cay.

      I had wanted to something about tolerance and understanding. I was using The Cay to make my point. I had used the novel for many years and with numerous grade 7 classes. I found it a real gem as it was written in such a way that it appealed to kids on many levels.

     Now most of the information I discovered wouldn't have changed much in my post. I was just amazed at how much material was out there. I found numerous book reviews.

     I discovered that many teachers are still using The Cay for novel study. I retired in 97 and many teachers I taught with were not using it any more.

      I found out that Theodore Taylor had died.

    Most surprising I found that the Cay had at one time been banned!

     So yes, I learned a lesson. Do some research before you open your mouth on Hiawatha House.

My Ship is Sold

My ship didn't come in today. It was sold! In 1978 I saw a freighter canoe for sale at an auction. I was actually looking for 12 foot fishing boat. I knew what a freighter canoe was and it went for the right price, so I became the proud owner.

Not many people know what a freighter canoe is . Those of us who know them have a strong affection for them. Freighter canoes are larger than the double-pointed paddling canoes. They have a flat stern and you can attach an outboard motor for power. They are much wider than regular canoes. These vessels draw very little water and as a result can be propelled with very little power at a good rate of speed. They are easy to handle and smooth riding. I have used them on lakes , rivers and the sea. Aboriginal people from coast to coast like to use them as they were reasonably priced , very sturdy and easily repaired . And you guessed it; they had a large capacity for cargo.

I first encountered the freighter canoe when I was teaching in Inuvik, NWT. One of the best trips I ever had was going down the Great Bear River. This river drains Great Bear Lake into the Mackenzie River. There were 21 miles of rapids, which we floated down with the outboard motor turned off. I then met the canoe again on the far northern coast of Quebec. There we ran up and down Wakeham Bay and out on to Hudson Strait. In all cases it handled beautifully. Many fish, seals and moose carcasses could be transported with ease.

As a family we used the canoe on a lake where we had a cabin.  It was an odd looking boat on central Alberta lakes , but it cruised effortlessly. The time had come to part with the ship as we were no longer using it. Someone from Thunder Bay saw my ad, knew these canoes well, and came out and picked it up. Our family had lots of fun times, and of course it was always referred to as "the ship".

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Tolerance and Understanding

      Tolerance and understanding is a topic that can get me going and fill Hiawatha House with a few posts. A few posts ago I wrote Visible Minority and it got me thinking about differences which we encounter from time to time.

     When I was teaching I used the small novel, The Cay, with my grade seven classes. This novel had several obvious themes that made it easy to discuss racial prejudice at a level grade seven students could easily understand.

     The novel was about an eleven year old boy who gets shipwrecked in the Carribean. He washes up on a small island with an elderly black man who was part of the crew. The boy had received a head injury and was blinded. The elderly black man is skilled in survival skills and helps the boy to survive, as they were not found for about nine months. Old Timothy helps the boy through his loneliness and homesickness, all the while teaching him about racial tolerance and understanding. For a little boy who was quite prejudiced , he had much to learn. One quote from Old Timothy that I really liked was that, "We are all the same color inside." That quote really made kids think about things from another perspective.

     For a first novel study, I would read most of the story so that we could stop and leisurely discuss at opportune times. Students were given a couple of comprehension and understanding questions to make sure that they were really following the story and not just having a nap. Most kids were on task as they found the story interesting and they wanted to find out if Timothy and the boy were rescued. There was also a very old movie version of the story that we could watch after we finished reading the novel.

     I hope that many of my students picked up a few things and were able to see others as human beings who are either good or bad and see individual characteristics in each person, rather than label somebody with a set of general characteristics gathered from prejudice.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Obama Rocks!

I fully agree with the choice of the Nobel Peace Prize going to President Barak Obama. Now, I know there are some who disagree with the choice and some of their reasons hold water. Yes, he has not yet achieved much in the way of concrete results...

However, I think that the total change in rhetoric is 100% necessary. The talk of the country had to change from one of "I'll beat everybody up " to one of "we will cooperate, compromise, succeed, and live peacefully".

Obama inherited two wars that he cannot just walk away from. I don't think he will start any new wars. He has to work on his own country first and gain its support for peace in the world. With so many generals with much experience he will have to work hard. Someone once said generals make great leaders, but it's hard to get them to follow. Some serious following has to be done to gain world peace.

I think Obama will be the person to bring about a much greater world peace.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Arctic Front Hits Birds

On Oct. 6 an Arctic front pushed down over western Canada. There were gusty winds to 90kph with snow which accumulated to about 2cm where I live. To say the least, this was nasty, nasty weather.

I have done several posts lately on bird migration and began thinking about how such unseasonally inclement weather affects birds. Fortunately, at this time of year most of the song bird migration is over. A few laggards may be found. A few of the hardier sparrow species are still here. I recently wrote about the dark eyed juncos cavorting through my shrubbery. Juncos tend to show up to feeders in dirty weather. In the worst of the weather I would still hear crows in the early morning. In fact, on Oct. 6 I saw crows putting on awesome flying displays as they flew into the raw wind and caught air currents which form over escarpments.

On Oct. 10 I traveled out of town. Some ponds were frozen, but larger bodies of water still had open water. Larger lakes and rivers were ice free. So the water fowl still had open water for their activities. Fields still provided excellent food for ducks and geese . I saw numerous flocks of geese feeding in the stubble.

I find that my feeder birds tend to disappear when storms like this occur. When the weather calms down birds return to the feeder. I'm never sure if my birds have been blown out of the neighborhood and I have somebody else's birds? Today I had many birds back at the feeder paticularly, red breasted nuthatches. Undoubtedly, some birds perish when the weather changes so rapidly. However, most birds survive and carry on for another day for their own enjoyment.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Joyful Juncos

This week there have been about 20 dark eyed juncos around my yard. They are exuberant and joyful as the feed and fly through the shrubbery.

Juncos are migrating through this area but are in no great hurry. Juncos can be observed quite late into fall and early winter. They are sometimes counted in the Christmas bird count here. For now they find an abundance of food. They eat seeds and insects found on the ground. They scratch with both feet at the same time so this is a very energetic action. These days they seem to fly at each other and chase through the bushes. The chase is usually brief. Juncos have two or three outer tail feathers which are white so when they fly there is brilliant flash of white. At most times of the year the junco is a very quiet, hard to notice bird. You often hear them rather than see them. If you stand still, they may come right up to you as one did to me when it fed less than a meter from my foot.

Juncos belong to the same family as our native sparrows. At one time they were identified as two separate species...the slate colored and the Oregon. Now they are considered as one species with some variation in color. Juncos are dark gray on top and have a white or off white belly. There is a very definite line across the breast which separates the gray breast and white belly. Some have a definite brown tinge in the gray. The females are a lighter gray and the young are streaked so you will find a certain amount of variation in the same flock of birds. See Sibley's for detailed descriptions of juncos.

Juncos have a habit of appearing at or feeders in very inclement weather. Our weather has been much cooler and windy this week. Therefore , I have been entertained by some energetic, joyful migrating juncos

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Visible Minority

      A few days ago I became a visible minority on a friend's face book page. More about that later.

     In the 60's I taught in aboriginal and Inuit settlements. In some locations students were 100% aboriginal or Inuit and other places up to 75% aboriginal. Standing in front of a class it never really sunk in that I was the minority as I was in the position of power. One day an incident occurred and it sunk in . That experience was life altering.

     I was in a small aboriginal settlement and went to house to look for someone. When I knocked on the door I heard someone inside say , "It's a white man!" That really hit me. I was labelled.

After that experience I had a lesson for the rest of my life. I learned to look at other people as individuals rather than a group and attach labels to the whole group. It made a huge difference in the way I lived the remainder of my life . No matter who it is I had to look at them as an individual who has unique characteristics. We are all made up of a wide range of good and bad characteristics. This combination makes us an individual. We have to be able to recognize the individual by his or her traits.

     Recently someone who I know quite, well asked me to join his face book page. When I looked at his list of friends I was the only one who was different. I have always looked at visible minority situations for myself as a learning opportunity which will broaden my understanding of people. Many times I have felt supported and welcomed when I found myself in a minority situation.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Frost on the Pumpkin

Now I'm not really sure if the saying in my title is accurate. I also wonder what it really means. Where did it come from? Maybe some of my readers can comment on frost on the pumpkin.

What it means to me is that we've had the first killing frost of the season. Two nights ago the temperature went to minus8 C or between 10 to 15 F. For gardeners, like myself, this means a major shift in gardening activities. Up to now we have been nursing some things along to gain some more blooms or larger yield of fruit. Some early maturing plants we have cleaned up.

Now we have to get serious with fall gardening work. It's over for another year. Now we begin to remove plants that have been killed by frost. We carefully remove all plant material so that any insects or diseases are removed from the area. The compost bin is built up so that the plant refuse decomposes and can be returned to the soil. Garden soil has to be turned . I found this year that the soil is extremely hard and I'm adding peat moss and shavings that I get from a friend who does lathe work. Flower and perennial beds must be worked up and reconditioned.

Last all the tools and equipment must be cleaned repaired and stored away before we are finished.

I didn't know gardening was so much work until I wrote this list? However, I enjoy every bit of it through out the season.