Saturday, August 31, 2013

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies

I haven't made peanut butter cookies for a while but I was curious about a recipe printed on the label of the peanut butter jar:

Mix together:
1 cup (250 ml) peanut butter, crunchy or smooth
1/2 cup (125 ml) sugar
1 egg

 (I mixed it in the jar.)

Place well-space heaping teaspoonsful of batter on ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake at 325 degrees F (165 degrees C) for 20 minutes. Remove warm baked cookies and allow to cool on a plate.

Delicious! The cookies are less firm than peanut butter cookies made with flour - but they have fewer calories per cookie as well!

Friday, August 30, 2013

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Windflowers in Bloom

A week or so ago, I was puzzled by a plant that was growing in my front flower bed. It was well over a meter or yard tall.

It recently came into bloom and I recognized it as a "Anemone tormentosa" or Windflower "robustissima" that I must have planted a year or two ago!

I see (in the nursery link above) that they are unattractive to deer. That really isn't a problem in the city - though rural gardeners could consider this factor!

It may be the latest blooming flower I have. (The next step, in perennial flower gardens, is dividing - and separating - these wonderful flowers that all need a little more space each year.)

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

DIY Camera Maintenance

Should I get my camera professionally cleaned? I asked Terry. I notice some dark marks on the lens - and the photographer in the camera store said the dust was inside the camera.

Terry did some online research - and discovered that finding dust inside the camera lens was a common problem with my Lumix. Simply turning the camera off - the lens moving inside the camera - drew dust in.

He showed me a You Tube clip on taking the camera apart to clean it. I quickly decided it was too complicated for me! But it did make me understand why camera shops charged over $100 to take the camera apart and clean it.

Another solution jumped out at me - from something I read somewhere: Try vacuuming the lens.

So I attached the round brush to the vacuum cleaner and turned it on. I placed it over the lens, then turned the camera on - so that the lens would come out. I did this three or four times...

Then I took a close-up of a white door.

It looked a lot cleaner than the picture I took prior to cleaning the camera. Not perfect, but a whole lot better!

(And a whole lot cheaper!)

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Limits of Medical Science

I remember - as a child - standing in line at school, waiting outside the nurse's office for a vaccination. My whole class was there, waiting in fear and dread. Children were coming out crying... Those of us waiting started whimpering, too.

Then one child came out and proudly announced: That didn't hurt.

Really?! I stopped sobbing and wondered: Would it - or would it not - hurt when my turn came?

Look away and it won't hurt, the nurse informed me. I did - and hardly felt a thing.

From then on, my secret when dealing with needles is to look away... and think about something else.

I don't know what my mother's reaction to needles was when she was growing up or even as an adult. But when she moved to Ottawa at age 83, the sight of a needle going into her skin already transformed my normally calm mother into a screaming two-year-old.

Now, at 94, she has macular degeneration. She can't see out of one eye. But this summer she has been complaining that rooms are dark. She can't see the color of the food on her plate - and faces around the table are all dark gray.

I made an appointment for her to see a specialist. After examining her eyes, he announced that macular degeneration results in a blood vessel forming at the back of the eye, making everything she sees dark. A new treatment, with a 90% success rate, can hold the condition at bay. Treatment is covered by the Ontario Health Insurance Plan, and it's ongoing: Every four weeks medication has to be administered - by needle - into each eye, after freezing the eyes.

I remember having my eyes frozen for laser surgery four years ago. It felt strange to realize what was happening - I watched but I didn't feel a thing... The whole procedure was painless.

Did she want to try the treatment? the doctor asked my mother.

She nodded.

But when she saw the first needle the doctor was going to use to freeze her eye, she squeezed her eyes shut and started to scream.

The doctor looked at me and said: She has to lie perfectly still and open her eyes. If she can't do that, there's nothing I can do.

So, of course, nothing was done.

For me, it was sad and discouraging - knowing medical science had discovered a treatment - but because of my mother's fear of needles, nothing could be done.

When I later recounted the event to my neighbor - a woman much younger than me, she nodded. I can't stand letting anyone touch my eyes either. There is a history of macular degeneration in my family. So I guess I may go blind, as well.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Do I Need This Stash?!!

You can never have too much fabric, I recently heard a young quilter say. (With a room full of quilting stuff upstairs, I'm not sure I agree!)

I sit here musing about my other passion - knitting! Is it possible to have too much yarn?! 

Why this reverie?

Today I went to a "warehouse sale" at one of my favorite yarn stores, and... I couldn't resist buying half a dozen bulk bags of yarn!

I do have a project in mind - an striped afghan inspired by an "Amish Country" beanie kit I bought during my last trip to Pennsylvania. Stripes of black, blue, purple and possibly pink.

As I grabbed bags of this and that, I looked over at a shopper whose basket was even fuller than mine.

I shouldn't have come... she muttered, piling more into her basket. I nodded and smiled. It's hard to think of knitting now. But when the snows fall, as they inevitably will, I'm sure we'll both be glad we did!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Freedom In Community

I am always looking for insights into parenting and relating to family members, and have found a lot to ponder in the Benedictine concept of community. As I read Joan Chittister's book, Wisdom Distilled From the Daily, I realize that this is the way I would like to relate to others:

A Benedictine spirituality of community... has a reverence for uniqueness as well as bondedness...; it is community of heart and soul and mind..., not control... [To] understand that is to free us from having to control everyone in our world... We begin to realize ... the gift of the individuals in our lives... We begin to realize that we don't have the master plan for every body else's life... children must be allowed to go their own way and ... husbands have to be allowed to make their dreams come true... and wives must be permitted to become gifted people themselves instead of simply being the family's live-in help.

We begin to learn to trust our own gifts, too, but not for their own sake. We develop our gifts... for the good of others... Our gifts are to be given away so that the whole human community is richer for our having been here.

All my life I have lived in a culture of "control." As a child and even as an adult, I have often felt pressured to please family members. (And - I confess - in return I expect them to please me!) Professionally, as a teacher, I would have lost my job had I not demonstrated classroom "control" daily! So control is and always has been a big part of my life - and I hate it! Change isn't easy... But as a mother, a daughter, a wife, a sister, a friend, I would really like to live with an attitude of daily appreciation of the uniqueness of everyone in my life - encouraging them to follow their dreams, free from the tyranny of having to do things just to please me.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Traffic Jam

Highways are places where we whiz past other vehicles, oblivious to who is inside, unless the driver is particularly annoying... or until there is a serious traffic jam!

We were driving happily along on our last vacation, when - out of the blue - traffic slowed, then came to a standstill! Five minutes passed. Eventually a few people gingerly got out of their cars to peer down the road, trying to see what the problem was. But there were only standing vehicles as far as the eye could see.

More time passed. More and more people got out of their cars and started walking around, chatting...

I couldn't bring myself to leave the car, but Terry got out to try to find out what the problem was. Maybe someone knew. But nobody did - so he continued chatting with drivers who had congregated on the median.

It did help pass the time. An hour later, as suddenly as it had stopped, traffic slowly started moving again. Off we all went...

(We never did find out what had caused the delay!)

Friday, August 23, 2013

Visiting Amish Country

Our last trip to Pennsylvania involved numerous trips to Amish country, mostly to eat!

We tried several country-style buffets before concluding we liked Miller's - and Good 'N Plenty in Smoketown the best.

There is something restful about visiting the region's small towns and farms.

But I also felt a vague dissatisfaction that  the simple country life we go to see...

... has become a museum-like rarity.

I felt like a voyeur, spying on a lifestyle that's a remnant from another age - without knowing what to make of it.

What do I really know about the Amish, who cling to life as their forefathers knew it? Only that they still drive horse-drawn buggies and dress in black. 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Baseball Kindness

I don't attend a lot of baseball games, but Terry loves baseball - so he was excited at the prospect of seeing as many games as possible while we were in Pennsylvania.

We watched our first game in Harrisburg. Sitting in the stands, we met a few local fans and started talking. Terry told them we were visitors from Canada.

Halfway through the game, an older gentleman Terry had been chatting with suddenly got up. Ten minutes later he returned - with gifts for both of us: souvenir hats of the Harrisburg Senators!

Our second game was a few nights later in Scranton.

We watched the game in their new stadium.

Time flew - and before we realized it, we had missed our shuttle back to the hotel.

I hunted for a pay phone to call a taxi.

When I couldn't find one, I asked one of the young women who worked at the stadium if I could use an in-house phone.

When she realized my predicament - and that a taxi probably wouldn't make it through the traffic jam at the end of the game - she had some friends give us a ride to our hotel!

All that left me wondering: Are baseball people that kind all over? Or just in Pennsylvania?!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Enjoying Harrisburg

We have passed through Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, but never spent much time there.

On our recent Pennsylvania vacation, Terry and I decided to explore Harrisburg a bit.

The first thing we did was take a paddle boat tour on the Susquehanna River.

Terry was fascinated by the paddles that drive the boat, how one or the other slow down to make the boat turn...

I admired the beautiful bridges.

We were told that the river floods from time to time...

One year it almost covered this pedestrian foot bridge...

A marker shows how high the water level reached!

Later we wandered around nearby historic downtown Harrisburg...

... admiring some of its beautiful old buildings.

Then we went to a baseball game...

... where I came across this large photo on the wall behind two water fountains: an aerial view of the baseball diamond the year it flooded!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Mid-August Flowers

Summer is flying by.

With this year's hot weather and abundant rain, the flowers are still doing well.

Pink phlox add an iridescent brightness to my backyard flower bed.

White phlox are still in bloom here and there.

Brown-eyed Susans dominate my front flower bed, where most other flowers have disappeared.

 The cone flowers (echinacea) are still blooming.

The tall, yellow Rudbeckia flowers are beginning to flop over and fade.

The Knautia are still doing fine, though they don't make the dramatic statement some other flowers do!

 Like the golden rod...

... and Heliopsis.

I'm puzzled by this (new?) tall plant. Is it one of the wild flowers I bought a year ago? Is it in bud? Or getting ready to seed?

There is one flower in the backyard that is just beginning to bloom - the mauve spear-shaped flowers mixed in with the phlox.

Sedum is turning pink and attracting bees.

Every fall I add more flowers along the curb. The ones I planted last year are thriving - and hopefully will fill out next year.

I love this season of the year. Everywhere I look - some flowers are in bloom!