Sunday, April 29, 2007

Pita Poem

Have you ever looked really closely at that bag your pitas come in? Did you ever see something like this?

Lebanese bread's the new way
To a fine meal today.

Topped with beans, its a treat.
Served with plum jam, so sweet.

With eggs have it toasted
Or with turkey that's roasted.

Round a weiner, its great.
Makes a pizza, first rate.

Tastes grand with cold ham,
Not to mention broiled lamb.

Good with soup, kids agree.
Mom enjoys it for tea.

Its delicious with cheese,
Or caviar, if you please.

Isn't this fantastic? You just don't see things like this anymore. Fancy Lebanese Bakery, I salute you!

How many of these ways have you tried? I count a modest four methods.

But wait, there's more!

Nouvelle cuisson du pain Libanais,
D'un bon repas a le secret.

ouvert de feves, c'est un regal;
Avec gelee de prunes, c'est sans egal
. . .

They have it in French, too!!! Doesn't that just take the cake? I mean, sure, it may just be a legal bilingual requirement, but I still like to praise their resourcefulness. They could have decided to leave off any poem.

Oh, and the pita isn't half bad either. Nice with homemade hummus.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Just 'cause

I have a headache tonight and should be going to bed, especially if I plan to do Real Live Schoolwork tomorrow.

But I leave you with a picture:

I think it looks great in its largest size. I was too headachey to tweak this much. I increased the contrast and the saturation by the tiniest amounts, but this is the shot I took. I love late afternoon sunlight.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Rhubarb saga

I was out in the garden today, planting bulbs, digging holes and then filling them back in, taking a pick-axe to a two-and-a-half-foot deep hole. My muscles nearly wept. Let's just say it has been a very lazy winter, and shovelling and pick-axing rocky, wet clay soil is both a strength and cardio exercise in one.

Perhaps some of you have tasted our rhubarb? Dad found the rhubarb growing in a field by the side of the road probably more than twenty years ago. He dug it up and brought it home (like many other plants in the yard), and there it has been growing for years. For information on this tangy treat, try the impressively thorough rhubarb compendium, or the (usual) wikipedia article. Our rhubarb is nearly three feet across, the main roots go over a foot deep, and who knows how deep the oldest roots descend. Probably into the underworld. This is a big plant. And I have to move it. Yep, in order to finish the boards for the raised vegetable beds, we have to move the rhubarb.

I'm not going to write much more about moving the gigantic rhubarb today. I have started documenting Rhubarb Osborne's travels, and maybe I will share them with you later (that is, if you would like to see big holes and plant crowns and root balls on tarps being dragged across the lawn). For now, I give you early spring rhubarb pictures. It's the goriest plant around.

Rhubarb uncoils

Seriously, lookit. It's, like, brains or something.

Spring rhubarb

Like gangrenous brains!

Okay, how about something a little more peaceful? I got a sprout from an old package of Sweet Marjoram seeds. If she lives, I shall call her Sweet Marjory. Because I am not original at all.


Monday, April 16, 2007

Roots and branches - Nephew blogging

I thought I'd go back to my roots today with some Brand New Nephew Blogging!!!! but then I realized nephew blogging is actually more like going forward to the new branches. Then I realized that blogging about branches that are actually little nephews just sounds silly. So let's get to it:

This weekend my sister-in-law brought the boys to our house for a visit. Kam is still very Mommy-clingy, but even so, he is at a point where you have to start keeping him occupied, or he will get into everything. Cutely, adorably, endearingly get into everything, but still. So what did we do to put the grin on this face?

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Baby drums, of course! You can't see the spoon, it's moving so fast! I wouldn't be surprised if this baby ended up on drumline.

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Look at this technique!

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When he's rocketing around on hands and knees, it can be hard to get a picture of him, but when he stands, it's as if he is frozen in time. You know, for, like, a second. But a very photgenic second.

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Next up: The intense Mr. Kohl.

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Kohl takes his work very seriously. Whether it's monitoring his stocks, analyzing data, or identifying vegetables on the Sesame Street website, Kohl's work ethic is unrivalled by any other almost-three-year-old (he knows how to spell and write his name, how cool is that?).

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Just look at his formidable focus!

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Even when he is reading with Papa (one of my childhood favourites), his attentiveness is astounding.

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He's one of those supervisors who is really engaged in his work, who is willing to mentor and oversee his employees, and likes to enjoy the benefits of his labours. Just look at the way he stakes claim to this sandwich! What a pro.

Saturday, April 14, 2007


On Sunday we had snow, on Thursday we had irises. I love spring, in all its temperamental glory.


These early-blooming irises are only about 8 cm high and 4 cm across. I love the particular spot on this next picture where the edge of the petal is so crystal-clear. This image has not been digitally processed. Do you think it needs some tweaking? I can't decide.

Iris - unprocessed

**Update** I seem to get a number of hits a day on this post - for anyone searching, this is iris reticulata. They bloom even before the crocuses in our yard in Nova Scotia. There is more information on them here and here. They're apparently hardy to -45 degrees Celsius! Impressive.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Impacted, er, "profoundly affected" by essays

I am finished my teaching assistant duties for the year.

I really enjoyed leading TA groups, but the marking was a bit of a chore. I wouldn't say that I am a "perfectionist" per se, but I like things to be as perfect as possible. In practice, this means that if my professor tells me each essay should take an average of half an hour to grade, it actually takes me an hour and fifteen minutes of mental agony to assign a mark and write comments that are accurate and helpful. Marking fills me with guilt, because I'm generally worried I'm being too generous to some students over others, or being too harsh as well. Bad essays fill me with TA Rage, and after so many C minuses in a row, my essay remarks tend to turn cranky, and I have trouble coming up with "token nice things" to say.

The part of marking I actually like is finding ridiculous sentences. They happen to the best of us, but we generally hope we have enough time to edit that we will catch it. Last-minute essays are often full of 'em.

My biggest peeves from this set of essays were:
  • The use of present tense when discussing history. Hello, people! It happened, it is not happening. Sheesh!
  • The dearth of weird funny sentences. I had far more "this doesn't make sense" than "hahahas" written in the margin this time around.
  • The use of the word impact and all its variants.

  • When you think of the word "impact," your first thought should generally be of a violent collision between two objects. An "impact" is powerful, dangerous, and often results in tragedy (think plans and bombs, people). It's a very strong word. My first peeve about the word "impact," then, is that it is used too freely. "The law had an impact on the rise of bootleggers." This word is too strong for the actual meaning. Why not use "influence," "effect," "affected," "directly resulted"? I don't want to be Henry Tilney quibbling over the word "nice," here, but c'mon people. Let's always aim for precision and accuracy in our writing. It conveys more meaning.

    The English language does allow the use of "impact" as a verb. You can grammatically say "the lack of rain impacted the farmer's crops." But would you? This is purely a stylistic quibble, but when I hear the word "impacted," I think of bowels. That's bowels, not "vowels." This is particularly amusing to me, because Pastor Kohler uses the word all the time. Hee.

    Okay, temporary relapse to first grade aside, let's talk a little more about the verb "to impact." This really goes back to my complaint about "utilize". I will quote my handy computer dictionary here:

    As a verb, impact remains rather vague and rarely carries the noun’s original sense of forceful collision. Careful writers are advised to use more exact verbs that will leave their readers in no doubt about the intended meaning. In addition, since the use of impact is associated with business and commercial writing, it has a peripheral status of ‘jargon,’ which makes it doubly disliked.

    This really says it all, and I think I can round up my post now. using the word "impact" as a verb is a recent development in the English language - it apparently started cropping up in business jargon in the 1960s. Its meaning has been undermined by frequent, vague applications, and there are more specific words you can use!

    I just want to return once more to the medical use of the word "impacted":

    *snicker snicker*

    Given my obvious train of thought, there will be no images today to accompany this post. Heheheheh.

    Sunday, April 08, 2007

    Happy Easter!

    Easter eggs

    I remember Easters with snow on the ground, but none accompanied by snow storms. Look at what we woke up to this morning:

    Easter morning snow

    What fun! I dyed these by immersing them in some food colour, vinegar, and water. It's not a permanent sort of dye, so the colour will rub off onto fingers/clothes if they are humid while you handle them. For pictures and display, however, it gets the job done.

    And another egg macro:

    Easter morning

    I really love looking at these in the large size, the colours really set off the texture of the egg. Click and you can see them in my flickr account.

    Friday, April 06, 2007

    Steaming Roses!

    My father drinks about four and a half litres of Pepsi a week. My mother likes everything decaf, but still drinks green tea every day. I have a cup of coffee every morning, but my real indulgence is tea. During marking time, I probably drink about two litres of tea a week. Orange Pekoe, Earl Grey, chamomile, green, chai, and my favourite, that strange leafy tea full of sticks that Kristen gave me as a birthday present. Well folks, it's marking time, so if you see me sometime next week sporting teeth the colour of rootbeer, give me another week to get them nice and sparkling again.

    This picture is a *leetle* bit blurry, since the lighting conditions weren't ideal for my little workhorse Olympus. I took it at Queen of Cups, where I ate lunch with a friend on Tuesday. She most emphatically recommends the peach bread pudding. It really is delicious. The tea in my cup is some kind of rose-scented tea. It is a very gentle rose scent, and quite delicious tea. When I was little I always thought roses smelled like soap, so I naturally held quite a grudge against them. It's only in the last five years or so that I have been able to really appreciate their scent. Now I blame soap for smelling like soap.

    I don't think I have posted this picture of a rose I took at the botanical gardens in Annapolis Royal back in September.

    Tuesday, April 03, 2007

    One bad mom ruins the whole batch

    This is a caution against daughterly thoughtfulness. It's just not worth the pain.

    Today I was in my old bookstore, that glorious Gift Destination, with a friend, indulging in that most annoying of all bookstore customer activities: reading magazines at the back of the store (Very dicey behaviour, you know. When I worked there, we used to roll our eyes at the customers who built up a big pile of magazines. If you have the time to read it, buy it! heheheh). My friend was working her way through all the "mother" Chicken Soup for the Soul books, when she came across the following:

    Inside it? This:

    Have you connected the dots yet? I mean, beside the fact that a cashier accidentally gave store credit for a book that shouldn't have been returned because of the writing inside? Oh, yes, that. A mother receives a sentimental book from her daughter, a book of stories meant to "warm the heart and honor the relationship," with a nice little personalized dedication inside. But, mom doesn't want the sweet but cheesy book. She would rather have the $20 credit to... spend on coffee? The Kama Sutra? Chick-lit? Canadian lit? A book on knitting? Ciggies?

    Thank goodness today is not Mother's Day. I don't think I could stand it. That would make this *really* depressing. I'd be tempted to lose faith in all mothers. I mean, gift returns are one thing. But returning a personalized book, thereby cheating a company out of its money? That's just tacky. Sometimes letting something take up shelf space is just more loving. And tasteful.

    Oh, and don't worry Mom. I trust you.

    EDIT: If you think I'm heartless, please read the comments. There's a bit more of an explanation there.