Wednesday, 28 February 2007

Dog and Cat in the evening sun

Fun animal sculptures created from recycled steel oil tanks and scrap metal by Jean Pierre Schoss of Dog Bite Steel.
These are only little ones, he makes REALLY BIG ones too.... take a look at his web site!

Monday, 26 February 2007


Meet our "William".

William is a long case clock, otherwise known as a "Grandfather Clock", made by William Rippon of South Shields, County Durham, England in the middle of the 19th century, approximately 1850. He's lived on the second floor of our house for almost 15 years (the clock, not Mr Rippon).

The clock has an 8 day mechanism, and a hand painted dial with a typical country scene in the arch. There are date and seconds dials, but the date dial has never been connected.... perhaps he was a no-frills model. He has brass hands, and a wide polished mahogany case.

William Rippon was born at Iveston, Lanchester, County Durham, England, on 18 April 1809, and was baptised 14 August 1809. He was the youngest child of John Rippon and Hannah Short, who were married in 1793.

It's not known where William Rippon apprenticed to learn his craft, but we know he was a clock and watchmaker in South Shields from 1834 to 1864. He operated out of premises at 16 West Holborn 1834-1841, 66 West Holborn 1847-1850, and 83 West Holborn 1855-1864.

William and his wife Mary had no children, and Mary was left a widow on William's death in 1865. By 1871, Mary was described as a "Property owner", but ten years later she had fallen on hard times and was described as a "mangle woman". Mary Rippon died aged 88 in South Shields in 1897.
I wonder how many more examples of William Rippon's clocks are still counting the minutes and chiming the hours. I'm very fond of dear William, and I love hearing his musical tones every hour on the hour. He groans and wheezes a bit at times, but so would you if you were over 150 years old.

Thursday, 22 February 2007

L-L-L-Lovely Lemon Lime Marmalade...

Take 2 big juicy lemons and about a dozen limes.... squeeze the juice out, separate the pips, and chop the peel in teeny weeny thin strips. Do all that tiresome soaking and boiling and adding the sugar and stirring over a hot stove until you are hot, fed up and bad tempered and everything you touch is sticky and the rest of the family wants to stay far far away.....

And this is the delectable result....
When you spread some of this delightful confection on your morning toast, a wonderful tart spicy lemon-lime aroma fills the air and your taste buds tingle in anticipation, and you take the first bite and wonder why you ever bought the sweet sickly stuff they sell in the supermarkets!

Next year I'm going to try making Ginger Marmalade for a change.

Monday, 19 February 2007

Gung Hei Fat Choy

On Sunday February 18, the Chinese New Year 4705 began. It's the Year of the Pig, but not just any pig, this year is the Year of the Golden Pig, an event that happens every 60 years. It's reputed to be an auspicious time to have children, as babies born during the year will be prosperous and wealthy. Watch for a baby boom in China!

To welcome the New Year, the local Chinese community celebrated their traditions and culture.

This Chinese artist painted a beautiful traditional landscape on rice paper using black ink, and a bamboo brush. He told me he learned to paint when he was a small child, and now teaches his craft to others.

The finished product....
The Lion dance is a very important part of New Year celebrations, to chase out the old year, and welcome the new, and bring Good Luck and Happiness.
A display of Chinese pottery, crafts and symbols to welcome the New Year.
This man is playing the ERHU, a Chinese violin.
Playing the YANGQIN, a Chinese hammered dulcimer.
and the GUZHENG, rather like a zither.

The children were making delicate bookmarks with dried pressed flowers.

The Money God gave us red envelopes for good luck.... supposed to contain lucky money, but these had a "buy one, get one free" coupon for a Chinese travel agency inside! Never let tradition get in the way of commercial enterprise.

Sunday, 18 February 2007

Sign of Spring?

The TV weather man says it's been below Zero C for 30 days now. So much for WiartonWillie's prediction of an early spring! Never trust a groundhog, that's my policy.
But not everything is cold and frozen.

We gave amaryllis bulbs for Christmas prezzies this year.
Here's No1Son's MIL's amaryllis. Four beautiful crimson flowers.
No1Son's Beloved only just planted her bulb, so it's a bit behind the others.

And here's No2Son's Beloved's amaryllis. It grew to more than 24 inches high within 2 weeks, and has 6 gorgeous blooms on two separate stems, with a couple more blooms yet to open.
Now I wish that Santa Claus had brought me one too.

Wednesday, 14 February 2007

St. Valentine's Day

Ah, February 14 is here, the traditional day for gifts to be given in the name of Love and Saint Valentine. Mother Nature must love us a lot as her gift to us today was a blizzard! Just look at my house. Buried.

When I was a teen in England, to receive a Valentine Card in the post was the ultimate in excitement. Especially if it was unsigned... that kept me busy for weeks guessing and dreaming of who my secret admirer could be. These days it's become another "Hallmark Holiday", cards for everyone, thousands all the same, no individuality or imagination.

However, a couple of years ago, I got a very special Valentine from The Space Cadet. He said he didn't have time to buy me flowers, and was very apologetic, and then suddenly appeared like this!

A Valentine surprise that will live in my heart forever!

Monday, 12 February 2007

House Inspection

No2Son and his Beloved have bought a house!

They won't be moving in until May1, but this weekend I was able to go with them to see the house and measure for appliances. Three bedrooms upstairs, gas fireplace in the living room, gas furnace, full basement. They can't wait to move in!

Sunday, 11 February 2007

Mmmmm - Marmalade

Finally, after phoning at least six other grocery stores in the neighbourhood, I found Seville Oranges in our local supermarket. These bitter oranges are only available in Canada at this time of year, and make the very best marmalade. These probably come from California, not Seville! Lots of prep time required, cutting, slicing, squeezing, boiling, making the whole house smell of oranges.
But the finished product is worth it!

A welcome taste of sunshine in the depths of winter.
Next project is lemon/lime marmalade.... watch this space!

Friday, 9 February 2007

Alien Invasion?

Monsters from the Dark Swamp?
Aliens from Outer Space?
Hitherto unknown deadly virus?
or simply children's toys..... you decide.

Thursday, 8 February 2007


Winter streetscape through my window reflected in the bookcase. The stained glass is over 100 years old, the bookcase a mere 15 years.

Monday, 5 February 2007

Super Bowl Sunday

My sons love football.
Now, to me, football means the players run up and down the field kicking the ball with their feet.
FOOT + BALL = Football. Logical.
Not this kind of football. Mostly the players pick the ball up and run, then fall down, and jump on each other until someone in a striped shirt tells them to stop. And they wear body armour and helmets, the wussies!
Even though both sons have explained the rules to me a kazillion times I'll never get it. I kinda like the tight pants though.
In spite of my complete ignorance of the game, we had a great time at No1Son's house watching the Colts beat the Bears. All the girls were cheering for the Colts because we like teams with horsey names, and let's face it, even though they look cuddly, Bears can be mean.

No1Son had prepared Super Bowl quizzes, score sheets, and devised a football game that included gambling (with quarters) and prizes.

I won this attractive fridge magnet for correctly predicting the 3rd quarter score.

The Space Cadet didn't win a thing!

Food... mmmm lots of it, nachos, cheesy dip, 2 kinds of lasagne, mini grilled cheese, salad, beer, meatballs, cheesecake, chocky cake.

And Sushi!

Friday, 2 February 2007

Groundhog Day

Today Wiarton Willie emerged from his winter hibernation (with a little prodding) and didn't see his shadow, predicting an early spring here in Ontario... YAY!! Shubenacadie Sam did the same, thus avoiding six more weeks of winter.
Let's hope they are right for a change.

Thursday, 1 February 2007

The Three Hares

The symbol of The Three Hares is a mysterious emblem that has been known for more than 1,500 years, and has been found in many parts of the world in Christian, Buddhist and Islamic cultures. Its origin or meaning has been lost through the centuries.
Three hares are chasing one another in an everlasting circle. They share between them three ears which form a triangle in the center of the design, yet each animal has two ears. You can read more here and here and listen to a BBC radio programme about it here.

I've wanted to make a stained glass panel using this ancient symbol ever since I first came across it.
Here are my tools and materials:

And here's the finished product. I didn't have enough of the blue glass so I used green instead.