Hoc non est blog
Well, it isn't! Yes, it has a date under which there's
an entry describing some aspect of life here at the Moose ranch,
or some comments on the world and culture at large, but this
really isn't a blog. It's more like..... a web site that
can be easily updated! Look - there's not even a comment
system. Can't be a blog without a comment system....
Anyway, here it is. Enjoy.
Saturday, March 31, 2007 @ 08:33 PM
Look over here.
I think this not-a-blog will go to "just archives" soon.
Not that there's been all that much to archive for the past
1.5 years (approximate time since last entry here).
Tonight, we were reading Psalm 33 with the girls, and I
realized that pianos were right there in the second part of
verse one. And you can tell by the context that of course
it's referring to pianos. After all, verses 2 and 3 three
continue the musical theme.
Here's Psalm 33:1-3, from the New King James Version:
1 Rejoice in the LORD, O you righteous!
For praise from the upright is beautiful.
2 Praise the LORD with the harp;
Make melody to Him with an instrument of ten strings.
3 Sing to Him a new song;
Play skillfully with a shout of joy.
Every now and then when I play it, praise really does come
from the old upright (and from the one who plays it).
For those who are interested in a Cincinati Chili recipe (and you know who you are),
here it is.
Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method
-------- ------------ --------------------------------
1 quart water
2 medium onions -- finely chopped
2 8 oz cans tomato sauce
5 whole allspice
1/2 teaspoon red pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 pounds ground beef
4 cloves garlic
4 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons vinegar
1 large bay leaf
5 whole cloves
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 ounce bitter chocolate
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Add ground beef to water in a 4 quart pot, stir until beef
separates to a fine texture. Boil slowly for 30 minutes
Add all other ingredients. Stir to blend, bringing to a boil.
Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 3 hours. For
the last hour, the pot may be covered after desired consistency
is reached (runny enough to be ladled, but not watery).
Chili should be refrigerated overnight so that fat can then
be lifted from the top before reheating and serving (the better
ground beef you use, the less fat to fuss with)
3-way - plate of spaghetti, covered with chili, and then finely
grated mild cheddar cheese. Serve with bottle of Louisiana red
pepper sauce, for those who want more heat.
4-way - 3-way plus chopped onions (usually) or chili beans
5-way - 3-way plus onions and beans
Cheese Coney: hot dog on bun, with mustard, chili, and finely
grated mild cheddar cheese (optionally, add chopped onions).
The first week of June, we went north for a week's vacation.
It's been a while since we got back from the great north
(it wasn't white this time of year), so I've probably forgotten half
of what we did, but here's an attempt at retelling.
Warning: Rambling travelogue ahead.
We packed most of the stuff Friday night before we left, so, in
theory, we could get an early start Saturday morning.
We got out at 8:40 - early enough, but earlier would have been
nicer, as the end of the day proved. I misjudged just how
long it would take us to get up there.
We drove north to Erie PA, then east into NY and ate at a
McDonald's there. We told ourselves that it would be the
last McDonalds for the whole trip. We were right.
We crossed the Peace Bridge from Buffalo into Canada and the
girls fell asleep. Getting in was incredibly easy - "where are
you from" and "where are you going." They didn't even ask
about the hundreds of pounds of high explosives packed in our
suitcases (just kidding). We were listening to
Tanglefoot as we crossed the border. Somehow it seemed
We followed the QEW highway past Niagara and along the shores of
Lake Ontario until we got only to the outskirts of Toronto, but
close enough to get a glimpse of the CN Tower. We stopped
for a walk around at a small mall. Then I discovered that I
had forgotten my map of Toronto. And had my first experience
with Canadian currency, since the news booth where I bought
a map did not take credit cards. (This was our first stop in Canada.)
But I got a fair exchange anyway.
We headed north from Toronto to Barrie, where we decided to
stop at a grocery store and get some supplies for the morning.
Rule 1 - never stop at the first grocery store off an exit.
It was in an older mall, and was one of those "deep discount"
stores. The nicer ones were a few lights further up
the road. But we got what we needed, threw it into the cooler,
and kept going.
We finally arrived at Collingwood, ON, at about 6:15 and checked
into the condo. After unloading a few things (like what needed
to go into the refrigerator) we headed out for supper. The closest
place (a couple tenths of a kilometer) was called "Montana." Great -
come all the way to Canada to eat at a place called Montana. But
the food was good, and the girls ate well. It took the edge
off their crankiness. Don't know why kids get cranky in the
car. I know I've never been cranky in the car on vacation road trips.
We went to a small Baptist church in town. They had PowerPoint
instead of hymnbooks (yuck) and had a few additional instruments
instead of just a piano. But the sermon was good, if a little long.
One of the announcements had to do with an upcoming baptism. Shortly
after that, the pastor invited a family to come to the front.
Turns out that they were going to be the special music for the offertory,
but A. thought they were going forward to be baptized, since that's
what she's seen at our own church.
In the afternoon, we tried to lay down for a rest, but nobody slept
much. And the power went off in the middle of the afternoon.
We wandered around to the front desk to get some information on the
area, and the power came back on. We went out to another grocery
store (this time a nicer one - an A&P) and laid in supplies for the
We had to adjust to buying meat in kgs and not lbs. But the produce
was still sold by the lb. And the milk comes in bags. 4 liter bags
of milk. They sell the 2L size (like a half gallon) in traditional
cardboard containers. I still haven't figured out why they use
Sunday we also explored the pool situation. There was an indoor
pool at the resort, and we checked it out. The girls
were skittish in the water at first and would not let go of us.
That changed over the course of the week.
The unit we had was a two bedroom unit. Walking through the door
brought you into the main area - kitchen to the immediate left,
with stove, refrigerator, sink, dishwasher, and counter. Straight
ahead was the dining area, with a big table and enough chairs, and
the living area with a couch and two uncomfortable chairs and
a gas log fireplace with the pilot lamp still lit (we had it
turned off). At the end was a slider to the balcony.
To the left was the master bedroom with a king size bed, and
a bath with shower that was quite large. To the right
was the other bedroom with two double beds. Each bedroom
(and the living room) had a TV. Some of the channels were in
French. In the second bedroom there was a closet with the A/C
unit. When it went on, it sounded like a giant fan starting up,
which was appropriate, because it was a giant fan starting up.
The girls did not do well in there, even though they
had separate beds. After the first (long) night,
we moved them into the king bed and Lise and I took the room
with the double beds.
We were on the second floor, and had to hit "1" in the elevator to get up
to our floor. Thus we reversed a trend of getting to ever higher
floors with our condo trips - Massanutten, first floor, no steps;
Williamsburg, second floor, no elevator; Outer Banks, fourth floor,
no elevator. The girls got the hang of the elevator rather quickly
and liked to help us get in and out and up and down.
We explored what there was to do at the resort. The girls and
I went swimming in the outdoor pool (giving Lise some peace and
quiet), and they were starting to enjoy the water more.
Monday evening was a social for the folks at the resort.
There were free drinks and munchies, and we played a people
bingo game. The announcer read out the winners and had some
people come up on stage for some fun. We were not any of the chosen
ones. We did get to meet some of the other folks staying there.
We went into the town of Collingwood and explored a little bit
at a cookie shop and a candy store and some other places
in the pleasant downtown shopping district.
After lunch, the girls and I took another dip in the indoor
Then, we gathered at the front of the inn with many others,
and boarded buses for a boat ride. After riding for
1.5 hours through some farmland, we came to Midland,
and boarded a boat for a two hour cruise through a small
part of the 30,000 Islands. That's way more than New York's
Thousand Islands. I did not ask if they had salad dressing.
Midland (and Collingwood) are on the shore of Georgian Bay,
which is the eastern part of Lake Huron.
The lake cruise was quite enjoyable, and the boat was going
through some narrow passageways between the islands. Many
of the islands had cottages on them, and many were
The girls liked the wind in their faces on the ride.
We had some pizza and hot dogs for supper on the boat, and the
buses got us back to the condo at 8:30 or so.
We saw snow.
Near Collingwood, the land going back from the lake is flat for several kilometers,
then rises abruptly up about 1000 feet. There are several
ski slopes along the ridge. Also, there's the
Scenic Caves. They're more like deep cuts and
crevasses in the rock than caves, but we went exploring anyway.
The girls didn't do quite as good as I expected, but
we had fun anyway. In the deepest part of the caves,
there is still snow left over from last winter.
It was very cool down there - about 40-45 degrees, and the
sun does not reach, so the snow stays. The girls
were rather fascinated by this.
At the same place there is a suspension foot bridge which
is almost 400 feet long, 80 feet or so above the floor
of a gulley, and 1000 feet in elevation above Georgian
Bay. The girls and I walked across it; Lise did not.
For lunch, we visited one of the small local restaurants in
town. I found out that Canadian ketchup is much sweeter
than American, and that they serve duck sauce with chicken
nuggets. I don't know why.
We also found that some of the speech patterns are different.
"Out" becomes "oot" and "house" becomes "hoose." After a while,
I picked up on the accent and drove Lise crazy with it. I was
fascinated that I had heard this same pattern from someone
I knew from Maryland's Eastern Shore.
This was our Toronto day. Toronto is about 90 minutes (more or
less) from Collingwood. We were delayed a little in the morning
getting out because E. had acquired a bug bite near her eye
and it was swelled almost shut. We administered some Benadryl
and went off anyway.
The way to get into Toronto (from the north, at least) is to park at the Yorkdale Mall
on the north side and catch the subway. We parked in a parking
garage near a lift, went up one floor and found ourselves
directly in the middle of the mall, with the entrance
to the subway station only a short walk away.
The girls enjoyed the subway more than anything else in the
city, I think. We took it all the way to Union Station,
then walked to the CN Tower
The CN Tower is big. Really big. Really really tall.
I pointed out a spot to Lise about 1/3 of the way up and
told her that was how high the Seattle Space Needle was.
It's much taller than the Empire State Building.
It has two parts - the main Observation platform, and the
Sky Pod - up even higher. The Sky Pod is the highest
man-made publicly accessible observation place in the world.
The elevators get you to the top quite quickly. The day
we were there was rather hazy, so the view wasn't as good as
it could have been, but it was rather neat being above everything.
The Observation level has a Glass Floor in one section where
you can walk out and look straight down. Lise avoided it.
The girls and I walked right out onto it. The girls
got down on their hands and knees and pressed their faces
right into the glass - "looking out the window" is what they
called it. And then we went to the SkyPod - up even higher.
We had lunch at the food place at the base of the tower and
bought a few things in the gift shop. Lise wanted to
visit Eaton Center (a shopping mall) that she had been to before.
So we rode the subway again, walked around, had a snack, and
caught the subway back to the mall. Dinner was at the Rainforest
Cafe in the mall - the girls liked it.
There is so much more in Toronto to do than what we did; we'll
have to plan a trip back someday. We got back to the condo
at a suitably late hour.
Friday was a hang out and start to pack day. We drove around a bit,
went to the outdoor pool for the last time, and tried to eat all
the food that was left.
We got out in good time and began the three hour drive to
Niagara Falls. I didn't tell the girls what we were going
to, so when they saw it for the first time, they were suitably
impressed. Lise had never seen them before, and she enjoyed
it also. The best views are from the Canadian side. We
parked near the Canadian Falls and walked around a bit and
ate lunch at the place there. It was a very hot day (as had
been the previously three days), and 3/4 of the crew didn't
feel like walking too much. So we drove up to the Floral Clock,
had an ice cream, and looked for the way back to the US.
Getting back in was easy too - let's see your ID, where were
you, what are you bringing back in.
We drove to the American city of Niagara Falls, and there's
quite a difference from the Canadian side. Most things are
run down or never got off the ground. It's nicest
right around the Falls state park. We took the Maid of the Mist
boat ride from there. The American side is where to catch
the ride. The Canadian boats are bigger and not as nice
and the wait in line is much longer. We walked in, took the
elevator down, and walked right on to the boat. The American
boats also get just a little bit closer to the falls.
Everyone got appropriately wet, and the girls loved it.
At one point, I looked to the left and right and saw
both sides of the Horseshoe Falls. It was quite
We left the Falls area and started heading for our hotel,
stopping for supper at a family restaurant in NY that
served good Greek food.
We drove about 45 minutes to Erie and attended church where
we have been many times before. It's to the point that people
that I sort of recognize say to us "my how the girls have grown."
After the service, we had lunch with our friends the Dunsworths
at their house. Ray made burgers and hotdogs. They have
five children, and one is a few months older than the girls.
They all had fun.
We arrived back home about 6:15 from Erie, had subs that we
picked up on the way, unpacked, and went to bed.
There's probably things that I forgot, like dealing with
the money. At times we had pockets full of loonies and
toonies. There's also lots that we didn't do. But that
leaves the possibility open for a return trip. Wasaga Beach,
near Collingwood, is supposed to be the longest stretch
of unbroken freshwater beach in the world (13 miles).
There's more to do in Toronto (including a place called the
Frank Castle), and more to do in Niagara Falls (like walking
behind the falls). Maybe someday, as E. would say.
I wish I had a decent microphone - better than the little
one built into an IBM laptop.
Then I'd be able to get a good recording of what I'm
hearing right now.
Every year in August, we get what I call the "summer bugs."
It's how I know it's August. We have crickets, and
I suppose there's grasshoppers and locusts and who knows
what else out here. Some chirp, some give off a constant
hum. If you sit and think about it and listen long enough,
it's enough to drive you crazy.
I have the laptop from work, a good battery, and we have
a wireless router. So after the girls were put to bed,
I came out to the yard to clean up the goodies they
left lying around (play yard tools and a beach ball), and
I brought my laptop with me.
Right now, it's mostly dark. The sun went down about half
an hour ago, and the cloudy sky still has a light grayish
hue. I can make out the outline of trees against
the sky, but I can barely see across the yard. It was
humid today, and that seems to bring out the fireflies
more. Or lightning bugs, if you prefer. And here I am
with a computer, sitting in a lounge chair, enjoying all
Ah - technology! Ah - country!
Tomorrow, I will really find out what it means to get the
bugs out of my computer.