One of These Veggies is Not Like the Others

One of these things is not like the others,
One of these things just doesn’t belong …
– Words and Music by Joe Raposo and Jon Stone –

You will recognize this ‘One of These Things‘ song if you spent any time watching Sesame Street. My photo today is going to demonstrate this song, so go ahead and start humming. First, I’ll explain why I chose these four items – they are roughly cylindrical in shape, and they are all in my kitchen right now.

One of them, however, is clearly different. Have you chosen which one? My pick is the mystery vegetable – the white one that looks a bit like a fat parsnip. But it isn’t a parsnip, and I really don’t know what to do with this newcomer to my kitchen.

There is a disconnect in our house between the food that is purchased and the food that is cooked and served. This is to be expected, I suppose, when the buyer is one person, and the cook is the other.  Most of the time I figure out what to do with the groceries The Car Guy comes home with, but this week he brought home this white root that isn’t a parsnip. Fortunately he remembered  that it is called a Lobok. I’m not sure how well Lobok will fit in with the rest of the food in the kitchen. It is said to be radishy, and that isn’t my favourite flavour.

The banana, however,  could be the thing that isn’t like the others because it is the only one with a sticker on it.  I normally don’t pay any attention to the sticky labels on some fruits, but while I was working with this photo I realized what the label actually says. If I didn’t already like bananas, the sticker would make me feel much more inclined to have a few in a bowl on the counter. Very cheerful.

But what about the spaghetti squash? It is odd man out too, because it is the only one with seeds inside it. I like spaghetti squashes because they are the sort of thing that can sit on the counter for several months and still be as good tasting as the day they were picked. They don’t threaten to expire if they aren’t used within a few days of arriving at my door. The downside to the squash, in my opinion, is that it takes great muscles and a knife the size of a machete to get one open. I have to be feeling particularly brave to tackle a spaghetti squash.

This leaves the carrot. By virtue of the bright orange colour, it could be ‘not like the others’. I’m very fond of a good carrot, particularly because it is very simple to eat. It doesn’t even need to be cooked. Not much waste to it either. Very easy to grow – willing to cosy up to all sorts of other foods without being overbearing, yet willing to stand alone when required.

Now that I’ve spent a bit of time pondering the vegetables and fruits in my kitchen, I’ve come to the conclusion that this Sesame Street song isn’t really very nice. While it is quite appropriate to point out all the wonderful ways that one thing differs from another, it seems very wrong to suggest that these differences mean that something doesn’t belong. I have therefore made a promise to The Car Guy and the Lobok that I will find a way to make this radish wanna-be feel at home until such time as it gets eaten (or dies a natural death in the fridge crisper.)

Seeing Through Windows and Doors

You can’t go on “seeing through” things forever. The whole point of seeing through something is to see something through it. To “see through” all things is the same as not to see.
– C.S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man –

It wasn’t too hard to find a photo in my archives to demonstrate ‘Through’.  Windows are very good for this sort of thing.  This one is our patio and driveway in the summer through our front door window.

This is the same view through the window today  – snow, thanks to a low pressure system moving in from Idaho into Montana then north into our province. And everyone thinks all the bad weather originates in Canada!

No, I wanted a much more difficult challenge, and for that I would have to use a magic spell. I took two photos, waved my magic mouse over them and uttered “Photoshopis elementis transperantis layerosis!”

photoshop transparent door
The magic spell used to create this transparent door is Photoshopis elementis transperantis layerosis!

Ta Da! You can see right through the closed door of my dishwasher! Yes, I know the view isn’t crystal clear, but dishwashers are notorious for leaving a bit of a soapy film, aren’t they?

If you would like to see how other photographers have interpreted this challenge, click on this link: WordPress Photo Challenge: Through.

Shadow Play – Looking at Photography Differently

If I die, who’s going to take care of my shadow? Or will it return to the night, from whence it came? While I sleep at night I keep my shadow folded neatly in my underwear drawer.
― Jarod Kintz

E.C. at Enjoying Creating has thrown down the gauntlet. She has challenged her faithful followers to ‘Cast your shadow over something and take a photo’. She chose her cat, and because of that she calls her challenge “ShadowCatting”.

I thought this sounded like fun, although two obstacles stood in my path. The first was – no sun. Day after day of clouds and light snow. The second problem – no cat. At least, not one that would lie in the sun on command and wait patiently for me to take a picture. Mooch, our ex-cat that lives next door, wanders over here at least once a day, but he is not inclined to oblige me in any way. (You can read about Mooch in my post, The Cat Compendium.)

The solution, once the sun came out, was to choose an obliging animal. I chose a Moose. Not just any moose, but one I bought in a craft store this past winter.

You know, taking a picture of anything while deliberately casting a shadow on it is intuitively awkward. On a bright sunny day, surrounded by glaring white snow, the object in the shadow almost disappears. So, I took three bracketed photos and attempted to… well, that didn’t work all that well either, so I ended up adjusting my position so that not all of the moose was in the dark. It would be a shame if you couldn’t see his beady little eyes.

So, there you have it. ShadowMoosing. I wonder if it will catch on in the  Shadow Play circles?

There is 3 key things for good photography: the camera, lighting and… photoshop.
– Tyra Banks –

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This Moose was made in Canada by the Rocky Mountain Teddy Bear Co. If you would like to contact them, their email address is donandmillie@shaw.ca

Line Up the Usual Suspects – Gingerbread Men and Pyrogy

We decorated the Gingerbread Men on Boxing Day. In Canada, Boxing Day is December 26th, and at The Red House, it is the day that we normally cook The Wokadoo. And just what is a Wokadoo, you might ask? Many years ago, one of our young nephews was having trouble saying, or perhaps even remembering, the word ‘turkey’. But he was sure, when the bird was still alive, that it made some sort of noise and he was equally sure the sound was ‘cock a doodle doo’. But again, he couldn’t put his finger on that word exactly. The very best he could come up with, was that the bird I had in the oven was a ‘wokadoo’, and that is what I have called a turkey ever since.

It was an Open and Shut Case. The Confectioner had no trouble identifying the culprit who was making off with the Candy Canes…

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This year, however, we didn’t cook a Wokadoo, opting out for a ham instead. A ham is quick and simple, and compliments the rest of the meal which was prepared by all the guests – pyrogy and holopchi (Ukrainian staples that have many names that can be spelled many ways.)

Our kitchen was a bee hive of activity with no less than 14 people mixing, rolling, stuffing, cooking. 20 pounds of potatoes, a big bag of flour, 2 big cabbages, pounds of bacon, onions, cheddar cheese…

And sinks full of dirty dishes. Bowls, platters, cookie sheets, pots, pans… all were washed over and over again, just to keep up with the pyrogy assembly line.

Once the pyrogy were stuffed, boiled and lined up on cookie sheets, they made their way out to the giant deep freeze, which is the snow bank on the back deck. When they were well chilled, some became dinner that night, while the rest were bagged and sent home with the guests.

Later that night, when the last dish was done, I surveyed the kitchen.  A plate full of Gingerbread Men were on the counter, their candy eyes imploring me to turn out the light and let them get some sleep.

Question: What did the gingerbread man put on his bed?
Answer: A cookie sheet.
– Author Unknown –

Winter Disorders – SAD and SDUSTD

In the Northern Hemisphere, December 21 is the day that has the least number of daylight hours. Where I live, that is a scant 7 hours and 54 minutes.  Today, the greatest altitude of the sun above the horizon will be 15.6 degrees. If you compare that to June 21, when there are 16 hours and 33 minutes of daylight, and the sun rises to 62.4 degrees above the horizon, you can understand why I am suffering from SDUSTD.

Some people get SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) which is a form of depression thought to be caused by not getting enough sunshine. While I believe I suffer somewhat from this, the disorder I am suffering from today is SDUSTD, which is Seasonal Dusty Disorder. While SAD is caused by too little sunshine, SDUSTD is caused by the low altitude of the sun.

By way of explanation, here are some photographs:

This is a photo of dust on the top of the coffee table. Allowed to gather and multiply for a scant few weeks, this dust would normally be unobtrusive. But when caught by a shaft of light at 15.6 degrees, every speck stands out in sharp contrast.

These crumbs arrived on the counter this morning. Normally I would not have noticed their accumulation for days, but with the sun slanting across the surface at 15.6 degrees, every crumb is clearly visible.

Last, but certainly not least, is this drip on the window pane. When the sun is low, the windows appear filthy, making it look like I hadn’t washed them a mere two months ago.

And so it goes. Everywhere I turn the low sun plays across every surface, taunting me with cries from my furniture, “Dust me, please, I’m suffocating!”

Oddly enough, though, the inside of the fireplace is clean. Santa, it is safe for you to visit my house. You will not choke on soot, nor land in a bed of ashes! Steer clear of the coffee table though. The dust bunnies are getting to be a remarkable size!

How To Make Breakfast More Fun

I went to a restaurant that serves “breakfast at any time”.  So I ordered French Toast during the Renaissance.
– Steven Wright –

While there are many interpretations of Breakfast, I’ve chosen to photograph the food I eat most mornings!

I start with the exact right bowl. It has to be the correct size – not too big and not to small. More importantly though, it has to have a happy group of animals dancing around the rim. This one has horses, camels and elephants – quite appropriate because I bought these dishes when we lived in the Middle East!

I put some fruit in the bottom of the bowl. I used bananas, but some times I use an apple, or an orange or some berries. This is the dangerous part of making breakfast  because I had to use a sharp knife to cut the bananas into the exact right thickness.  Like the bowl, the bananas can’t be too big or too small.

Next, I added some cereal. I used granola  with whole grains, fruit and nuts. You can use any type of cereal you want, but it has to compliment the fruit, not fight with it.

Last, I added yogurt – plain, low fat, high calcium yogurt. See how carefully  I spooned it on so that it formed a happy face? Two eyes, a nose, and a big grinning mouth.

The last detail is the spoon. Like the bowl, the spoon has to have some character, and it has to be not too big, and not too small. Today I chose a shiny new spoon, but some days I use a spoon from the set of cutlery that were a wedding present almost 42 years ago!

Remember the days when you let your child have some chocolate if he finished his cereal? Now, chocolate is one of the cereals.
– Robert Orben –

When I am done eating, I will have one small square of very dark chocolate…

How about you – how do you make your breakfast fun to eat?

Windows – Eyes of the Home

Bad weather always looks worse through a window.
Tom Lehrer

Windows are the eyes of the home. From the inside looking out, they frame the view of the outside world.

Seen from the outside, the windows form part of the face of the house.

This is The Red House, through the eyes of The Wild Child.  Two eyes, a green nose (or maybe a nose/mouth combination, but clearly two  blue eyebrows!

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manor house

Wakehurst is the English country estate of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.  This window on the side of the building is peeking out over a vine clad roof.

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thatch roof houseThis thatch roof home is in Bourton-on-the-Water in the Cotswolds, England. I see two close-set eyes framed with a carefully groomed head of thatch hair! (Of course, I also see an X shaped handle bar moustache…)

How about your house – what kind of face does it present? Ask a child to draw it – how do they see your house’s face?

This week’s WordPress.com Photo Challenge is Windows.

Button Up for Winter – Closing Down the Cabin

I stayed at the cabin for most of the first half of October.  Besides spending many hours taking fall pictures and listening to the sound of crunching leaves beneath my feet, I got everything ready so that when The Car Guy arrived we could Button Up the Cabin for Winter.

The shut down process isn’t complicated, just time consuming. Anything that won’t survive six months of freeze is packed up and taken home.  Anything that we might want at home during the winter is packed up too. Lawn furniture, bikes, golf cart and toys are put under cover. Water lines are drained. Anti-freeze is poured. The blinds are pulled. The door is locked. I cry a bit, and we go home.

The cabin won’t be without occupants, however. As we moved things out, the two spotted ladybug was moving in. Our province is host to many species of ladybugs, but the native one, and the bug least frequently seen, is the two spotted one!

Spiders will move in too. I’ll find their webs everywhere when we open up the cabin next April. We’ll move back in, and the bugs will  move outside. The cycle will start again.

What bugs do you share your home with?

Finding Comfort in My Rock Family

painted rocks

On a tree stump in front of the cabin there is a Rock Family. The Wild Child painted them this past summer, and they greet each and every visitor with the same exuberance as the Wild Child would if she were here. They are very comforting to look at now that the family has all gone home and there will be no more visitors at the cabin until next spring.