Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Sugaring Off

It's Maple Syrup Time at Bruce's Mill Conservation area.
Who can resist a stroll through the maple woods in the spring sunshine to see how the maple sap is collected and learn about the process that turns it into maple syrup?
I joined OlderSon and Callum, and YoungerSon and The Bride for a spring adventure.

But first, we needed some sustenance to provide energy for our walk through the woods, so the first stop was at the pancake restaurant. Mmmmm ... pancakes and sausages with butter and Maple Syrup! You can't get a much more Canadian breakfast than that! The Breakfast of lumberjacks.

Callum made short work of his sausages, he's a good eater!

And then a stroll through the sugarbush. The sap is collected in the spring, and the weather conditions have to be just right.... cool nights and warm sunny days.

The maple tree is tapped and a spile is inserted into the hole in the trunk, and a bucket hung to collect the sap that drips out. But that's the traditional way to collect the sap. Behind the bucket you can see green plastic piping that is hung from tree to tree and the sap is suctioned through the lines by a central vacuum pump.

The First Nations people made maple syrup by heating stones in the fire and putting the hot stones in a hollowed out log filled with sap. It was their only form of sugar, and it was used as a flavouring and to tenderise meat.

But when metal cooking pots became available, the process of evaporating the sap became a lot faster.

Samples of finished syrup for tasting. So syrupy and sweet. Let it run across your teeth and rest on your tongue... there's no taste quite like it! Calories? Who cares!

Then a stop at the sugarshack. The modern method of sugaring off... a big gas fired boiler that evaporates the sap. When the temperature of the syrup reaches 103C it's ready. OlderSon has tapped the maple trees on his property this spring, and has made his own maple syrup, so he was interested in talking maple syrup talk to the man in charge.

And the finished product for sale in the shop.

All those pancakes and sausages needed to be walked off, so Callum did some exploring all on his own.

Walking around outside and exploring the different textures of grass and leaves and trees is a new experience for him after being snowbound most of the winter. Hooray for spring!

Sunday, 29 March 2009

Earth (Half) Hour

The world switched off it's lights from 8:30pm to 9:30pm yesterday to conserve power and to celebrate Earth Hour.
Everyone except me.... I had Earth Half Hour.
I was out, left my living room and back porch light on, and didn't get home until 9pm.... OOPS!
Walking home, I passed windows flickering with candlelight. Street lights were still on in the name of safety, but many people observed the second annual Earth Hour by turning off all unnecessary lights and enjoying the peace and quiet.
We have to look after our beautiful planet.
Symbolic, but it's a start.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Go Leafs Go!

Since the arrival of the dreaded WalMart, many of the small stores on Main Street have converted to providing services such as lawyers, dentists, walk-in clinics, and hairdressers. But this hair salon is a little different.... not only do they beautify nails and hair, one window is completely devoted to Maple Leaf worship.

The salon owner must be a fan!

Toronto Maple Leafs were one of the "Original Six" ice hockey teams before the league expanded in the 1970s. Their big moment came when they beat their rivals, the Montreal Canadiens, to win the Stanley Cup in 1967.
The team has many thousands of fans collectively known as the "Leaf Nation" and a long waiting list for season's tickets. All home games are a sellout, in spite of the fact that they haven't won the championship in 42 years!
Win or lose, Toronto loves it's Maple Leafs!
And, yes, in case you thought I was making a spelling error, the plural of Leaf is Leafs!

Sunday, 22 March 2009

News Update

Need something to read while commuting to the City on the GO train?

Take your pick, lots to choose from. Free!

Friday, 20 March 2009

Verandah or Porch?

My previous post seems to have generated some discussion on what's a verandah and what's a porch. So which is this? Or perhaps it's a balcony? Or could it be called a stoop?

Perhaps its a verandorchonyoop????

This 1885 Victorian house is also on Main Street, and has recently received a facelift. For many years the whole house was painted grey, but the bricks have been sandblasted and the woodwork restored to it's former glory.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009


The dictionary defines a verandah as a roofed opened gallery or porch.

This example is on Main Street.

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Video Games Live!

Yesterday I had a glimpse... no, more than a glimpse... more aptly described as a full frontal exposure... to an alternate sub-culture that I know exists but I've never really dabbled in.
Witchcraft? No.
Satanic worship? Sort of.
Video Games? YES!

I went to see Video Games Live! with YoungerSon and The Bride.

WOW! It was great!

The audience was full of "gamers" who came to see the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony and the Kitchener-Waterloo Youth Chorus perform music written for video games by video game composers Tommy Tallarico and Jack Wall.

First let me say I'm far from being a gamer.

My video game experience is limited to Pong, Donkey Kong and Frogger with quick bursts of Super Mario and Tetris in between. Oh, and recently some rather pathetic attempts at Guitar Hero on "easy".
But these sellout crowd gamers were rabid! Hoots and hollers and cheers each time their favourite video came on the big screen. Some dressed as their favourite game character.
The Symphony played valiantly through big screen monster attacks, caveman skirmishes, and military ambushes.
And the laser lights just kept on flashing.

A special guest was Martin Leung, the Video Game Pianist. Never heard of him? Don't worry, I hadn't either but apparently his claim to fame is an internet video of him playing the Super Mario Brothers theme while blindfolded. See the video here. He sure could bang away at top speed on that piano!

Part of the show is a Guitar Hero competition and the champion is invited on stage to play "Sweet Emotion" from Aerosmith on "Hard", and is given a target of 160,000 points to win a prize. This has to be one of the most difficult songs on the game. He scored over 150,000 points, so they gave him the prize anyway!

This is a concert that I would never in a million years put on my "must see" list, but I surprised myself by really enjoying it. The music was unexpectedly good, although a lot of it was a bit "Star Warsish". Lots of interaction between the performers on the stage and the audience.

One thing's for sure, I need to play more video games.

Monday, 9 March 2009


It's been a very long cold winter here in Southern Ontario. Storm after storm after storm. The snow has been piled high along the sidewalks and driveways and there have been so many really cold days with temperatures down into the -15C range and colder. And a lot of grey skies.
I was desperate for a hint of spring so I treated myself to a pot of tulips.

The buds started to appear about a week later. I thought they were going to be a pale pink but...

.... now that they are open they turned out to be a gorgeous deep jewel pink.

A pot brimming over with spring sunshine for the bargain price of $4.99 ..... plus tax of course! The government has to have it's share, even of my spring sunshine.

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Tea Party for One (and Update)

When I was little, Mum would let me play tea parties with this little tea set. There's a teapot with a lid, a tiny milk jug and a sugar bowl, one tea plate and one cup and saucer.
Under the teapot it says "Pekoe, England".

Each piece has the flags of Britain, Germany, Russia, and France, and the words "For Right and Freedom" on the front, and a symbolic crown on the reverse.
The horizontal white, blue and red bands of the Russian flag was used until the October 1917 Revolution, so I am assuming that this tea set was made before 1917.
But I wonder what event it commemorated?
Any ideas, anyone?

Blogger Xtreme English pointed out the error of my ways in confusing the German flag with the flag of Belgium. Germany has horizontal bands, Belgium has vertical bands. Of course, I knew that!
She also says this is WWI commemorative china showing the flags of England, Belgium, Russia, and France--the allies against Germany in WWI before America entered the war. A lot of this china was made in about 1914. Thanks M.E.!