Tuesday, September 30, 2008
I have always enjoyed taking pictures. My father introduced me to SLR cameras years ago and I have many colour slides of people and of places I have visited. Film and developing had a cost attached so we were more careful in shooting as one had to pay for the good and bad pictures.
Digital cameras have changed that! I am able to shoot 100 pictures in a day and keep only 25 without cost concern. I have taken a couple of thousand pictures this year and had about 400 of them on the SD memory card in my camera. These were some of my favourite shots and while they had been downloaded to my computer, they were not yet backed up. On Saturday we spent much of the day at the market with my brother and his family and there were about fifty new pictures from this outing on the 2 GB card.
I proceeded to download my new pictures and received the message, "No images on card". Impossible! I knew there were hundreds of photos that had not been deleted. Melissa from Empress of Dirt wrote a timely post last week about some freeware that successfully found pictures she had accidentally deleted from her memory card. I downloaded the software but it would not run on my system. But thanks to her I knew a solution was possible.
The next stop was Walmart where I put the card in a photo machine. No images! The young clerk told me my card was corrupted and those pictures were lost.
He did not know me...I do not give up easily.
I bought a card reader, which I should have had in the first place, and searched the internet again for a solution. A program called PhotoRescue allowed me to download a trial version to search for my pictures and then required payment to retrieve them on my hard drive. Amazing! In 10 minutes it located 480 pictures and I happily paid $29 to keep the program. There was no loss of quality to the images.
Forensic experts have tools which can find files which have been deleted from hard drives, voice mail systems and memory devices. A while ago our voice mail system at work was upgraded and messages deleted months before reappeared on the new message box. Beware! Electronic evidence is not removed as easily as paper is shredded in a machine.
I hope I do not have to use my "forensic software" again, but have it ready if my SD card becomes corrupted again. I have reformatted it and also bought another card. This list of memory card do's and don'ts was on the internet at this site. I broke about half of these rules regularly but will change the way I use my memory devices in the future.
From the website Digital Inspiration:
Here are some tips that may prevent memory cards from getting corrupt and prolong their life as well:
» As far as possible, use brands recommended by the camera manufacturers.
» Never turn off the digital camera while photos are being transferred to the PC or vice versa.
» It is always advisable to reformat camera cards at regular intervals depending on how frequently you use the digital camera.
» Use the camera controls itself to reformat the memory card, don't do this via your computer.
» Do not switch to the View (or Play mode) while the picture is still being written to the disk.
» Do not shoot the next photograph while the previous one is still being written or saved to card's memory.
» Make sure your camera batteries are properly charged. Shooting images with a low battery may sometimes cause problems. If the camera batteries fail while the image is being written, your card may get corrupt.
» Weird but true - Don't delete files from the Memory card using Windows Explorer. Either use the Camera controls or the photo management software supplied by the Camera vendor.
» If the memory card is showing problems frequently, it's probably time to invest in a new memory card before disaster strikes (again).
» Never eject the memory card while the camera is till ON.
» Do not use the same memory card is different cameras.
PS: Memory cards in the story above refer to all storage media formats including Memory Stick, Secure Digital [SD Cards] or even CompactFlash.
Sunday, September 28, 2008
Slideshow of market images
Pony cart drivers
I am very sure our markets are the best but would love to hear of others that you think are worth visiting.
Friday, September 26, 2008
Neil is my husband's co-worker. He loves photography and has a natural curiosity that leads him to good photo opportunities. They work in a rural area north of the city where there are many Mennonite farms. Neil noticed these pots and the interesting irrigating system as he drove to work last June and had no idea what they were.
He took this picture of the same field in August. There appears to be another crop in the foreground but the pots are visible in rows, now full and green but not yet identified.
Pots of fall mums were set out for sale yesterday at one of our local farmers' markets. I have purchased several over the years and have planted some of them in my garden where they come up season after season. If you cut them back by half on the first of July, they produce many more blooms in September and October. These frost hardy plants add colour to my autumn garden but are also very effective placed in pots on a deck or porch.
Perhaps I shall buy a new colour or variety this year.
And thanks to Neil for letting me use his pictures.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Autumn is well established even though the days continue to be warm and sunny. Bird songs have changed and the woods echo with Chickadee and Nuthatch notes accompanied by the drumming of Woodpeckers. The Cardinal's cheep is heard in the berry bushes and crows caw overhead. Male Red-winged Blackbirds started flocking in early August and were gone by the middle of the month, the females following soon after. Each week since another familiar bird has gone missing.
It seems that all the birds have fled, but really we are just going through a changing of the guard in the forests, waterways and meadows.
Monday, September 22, 2008
Listen closely. Be useful. Bring the gift of yourself.
Be voluntary. Visit with magic.
Try playing their game. Let wisdom seep in.
Cradle your own future old person. Be gentle. Listen closely.
Pay attention to an old person. The treasures will be revealed.
from Sark, A Creative Companion
I have been looking for some old people to photograph as an illustration for this post. A white haired lady was walking her dog in the park but when she turned around she appeared vibrant and healthy and not old at all.
One of my friends will be 80 next year. He writes on my Facebook wall frequently and keeps in touch with people all around the world. He has a bounce in his step and an interest in everything and everyone around him. Is he old? I think not!
This couple brought their lawn chairs to the park and were sitting in the afternoon sun at the edge of the little lake. They were old but not retired from enjoying life as they watched the ducks and geese and children around them.
Here is another quote from Sark that defines old in a "new"way...
So as we do and feel new things, we can never be “old.”
(Unless we wish to be.)
Sunday, September 21, 2008
with skies a deeper blue, and nights that
become suddenly clear and chilled.
The season comes full with the first frost,
the disappearance of migrant birds,
and the harvesting of the season's last crops."
Glenn Wolff and Jerry Dennis
an over praised season more remarkable
for biting winds than genial breezes.
Autumn is the mellower season,
and what we lose in flowers we more than gain in fruits.
Saturday, September 20, 2008
I have been watching large groups of Monarch butterflies gathering together amongst the wildflowers in the meadow over the past week. Our three Monarchs have been slow to eclose and today, three weeks to the day that the caterpillar shed its skin for the last time, the first one appeared. The other two will be three weeks old on Monday and I expect they will not eclose before then.
The butterfly is still hanging and will not be ready to fly for a while. I gave Samuel one chrysalis and still have one left at home. Perhaps I will catch it on video next time if I am lucky.
Friday, September 19, 2008
West Perth Wetlands
Spotted Knapweed, a non-native plant considered invasive especially in Western Canada. These plants in this family are copious nectar producers are are favoured in some areas by honey producers.
Seabrooke of The Marvelous in Nature wrote a recent post in defence of Purple Loosestrife called the Purple Monster. She pointed out that many invasive plants gain a foot hold due to human activity in highly disturbed areas. Her post is well worth reading to gain perspective on both sides of the coin of this issue.
Butterfly Bush (buddleia davidii) is an import from China and is considered an invasive plant in West Vancouver. But it is frequently recommended as a planting for butterfly gardens. The bushes at West Perth were covered in butterflies of different species.
Invasive plants or not, I enjoyed their blooms and their visitors. And I applaud the efforts of those who have transformed the sewage ponds into an important nature area.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Close to the hospital on an empty lot stands an old "Chip Wagon". It is actually a trailer and the flag of Newfoundland flies proudly above it. One of my patients who had been in hospital for three months following surgery made this the destination of her first trip to the outside world. I drive by the stand every day but have never been inclined to stop for a meal.
The Becka severely limits her intake of sugar, dairy and wheat during ragweed allergy season but had a craving for some french fries one evening. We decided to have some real french fries, not the fake, factory moulded items sold in fast food restaurants. The trailer menu was interesting. Newfie fries came with gravy, peas and stuffing! Poutine, the French Canadian artery clogging delight, came with cheese curds and gravy. And the most trendy option was nacho fries with sour cream and salsa. We settled for a small order of plain fries which ended up being large enough to feed a family of four. But the potatoes were real and they were hot, crisp and delicious. We hid incognito under a large multi-coloured umbrella and enjoyed the treat.
Most cultures have a signature dish and we all enjoy comfort foods that tend to be tasty if not the most healthy for us. Earlier this week, Laura from Somewhere in NJ posted a meme called the Omnivore's Hundred. Many of the foods are ethnic specialities. Here it is with my results. I have added some comments in italics. What are your favourite comfort and ethnic foods??
The Omnivore’s Hundred:
1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
2. Nettle tea -a patient brought me a big bag of nettles…not bad
3. Huevos rancheros
Steak tartare -have you seen Mr Bean hide his steak tartare?
5. Crocodile – well it was Alligator, but only once!
7. Cheese fondue- I still have a fondue pot
10. Baba ghanoush -eggplant is my “iff-iest” vegetable
12. Pho – one of our favourite Thai take out items
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi - I love this dish! Recipe on my other blog…
Hot dog from a street cart
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
24. Rice and beans
Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
Root beer float -I hate root beer
Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea- I think this an error. You eat clotted cream with your scones and fruit at tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
40. Oxtail – Mom often made oxtail soup
41. Curried goat- pretty standard fare at Indian buffets
44. Goat’s milk
Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
47. Chicken tikka masala
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut -once
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
54. Paneer- Delicious Indian cheese
. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
Dirty gin martini
Beer above 8% ABV
60. Carob chips
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake -or “Beaver Tails” at the Byward Market in
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail -sounds better when called “escargot”
79. Lapsang souchong -tea lover that I am
81. Tom yum- I made this yesterday but the chili pepper was very HOT!
82. Eggs Benedict
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
90. Criollo chocolate
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish (this is on the list twice)
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
Postscript: My nephew Alex did not think I had enough disgusting food on the list so he has added some of his "favourites". The links are not for the faint of heart or stomach!
None of this stuff is particularly gross, so I’ll add some:
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
My feet are soaked as I cross the lawn to pick raspberries for breakfast. The fall harvest of this fruit produces the biggest and sweetest berries.
The Monarch butterfly chrysalis is sixteen days old now. Wings are even more visible through the green shell but this group of three is slow to eclose. They need to start on their southern journey before it gets much colder.
Another butterfly drinks from moisture beads on a leaf. I seldom see an Eastern Comma and this one is reluctant to open its wings.
Finally it gives a salute to the morning sun before it flutters away.
Our local newspaper published this story on Monarch butterflies on September 13, 2008. The link is here, but as links quickly go dead, I will copy the text below.
Among the insect group known as lepidoptera is the monarch butterfly that this month embarks on an incredible 5,000-kilometre journey to wintering grounds in Mexico, sometimes flying more than a kilometre above the Earth.
Four life stages (metamorphosis): egg, caterpillar, chrysalis and finally butterfly.
Stage one: Butterflies sip flower nectar but caterpillars only eat milkweed. A female will search for a healthy milkweed plant on which it will lay one egg on one leaf, up to several hundred in an area.
Stage two: Caterpillars emerge from eggs in three to 12 days and undergo five stages of growth known as instars. Caterpillars have a tough exterior called an exoskeleton and as it grows, this exoskeleton splits, sheds and is consumed by the caterpillar. By the time the fifth moulting takes place, a chemical reaction within the caterpillar creates a lovely green skin with gold dots that hardens into a chrysalis.
Stage three: The chrysalis is the pupating stage, where the monarch transforms from caterpillar to butterfly. Attached to the bottom of a milkweed leaf, this stage lasts two weeks with the chrysalis eventually becoming transparent.
Stage four: The monarch emerges as a fully formed butterfly, though it must inflate its wings by pumping fluid which is aided by gravity given the butterfly is hanging upside down under the leaf.
Summer butterfly: The so-called summer butterflies live two to five weeks and do not migrate; rather their purpose is to mate and lay eggs, often several times during a lifespan. As the weather cools and the days shorten, a chemical reaction occurs triggering the last summer generation of caterpillars to emerge as migrating butterflies, with a life span of up to eight months and no interest in breeding.
Mexican holiday: Canada has two populations of monarchs: eastern and western, both with different migratory patterns. The eastern population, anything east of the Rocky Mountains, overwinters in fir trees in a remote area of Mexico, while remaining largely inactive. Researchers studying the population fly overhead, photographing small sections from which they estimate numbers based on density and distribution. Unfortunately, the monarchs' numbers are shrinking, from 20 hectares just a few years ago to last year's estimate of 4.6 hectares, due to diminishing habit, pesticides, herbicides and illegal logging in Mexico.
The milkweed run: Mexico lacks milkweed so in March or early April, monarchs leave for Texas where there is plentiful milkweed for egg laying. Several generations of monarchs will hatch, pupate, emerge then lay eggs as they re-colonize North America. eventually spreading into southern Canada.
Monday, September 15, 2008
When it comes to technology, I am a tortoise with the newer toys. I have never had an iPod even though there are a number of them floating around the house. Our daughters have received free iPods for opening bank accounts and buying computers but I have never understood the appeal of walking about with headphones on. I like to listen to the sounds of nature on my walks and think earphones are unsafe in a car. (Do you notice the people who do not hear an approaching siren on the roadway?) One of my patients who is in her late 70's was listening to an iPod at her bedside recently. Her husband had programmed it for her and I was very impressed with their youthful attitude.
I purchased a new laptop a year and a half ago with Windows Vista OS installed. The computer is not compatible with the printer that came with it, nor my relatively new Canon scanner, even though I have installed upgraded software. I have to reinstall my printer software every time I use the printer. Recently the computer has decided to crash rather frequently...click...black screen...all is lost. I have logged over 200 such crashes in the past few weeks with as many as eight in a row during rebooting. We used Apple computers until I purchased my first PC laptop for work in 2000. I no longer need a laptop since I resigned from my community job, so it is time to return to Apple.
We welcomed two new MacBooks into the family last week and each came with a bonus iPod Touch. I can check my email and browse the internet wherever there is a WiFi signal and do not need to subscribe to a service. I am able to add pictures, videos and more songs than I can listen to. I have decided I really like this little gadget now that it is personalized with my favourite images and music. Mind you, The Becka had to provide some coaching assistance with the set up. The unit comes without an instruction booklet and says only to "plug into your computer and follow the directions on the screen". Well those directions were rather vague to say the least.
This tortoise is on the move! Maybe I will even catch up with my children one of these days. Maybe not, but I am still in the race.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Most everyone in North America followed the colourful and dramatic satellite images of Hurricane Ike as it approached the coast of Texas this weekend. The giant storm had already caused much damage in the Caribbean (under-reported by the media in my opinion). We are waiting for the remnants of Ike to pass directly over us this evening with lots of rainfall promised and flood advisories in place.
Weather forecasting has always been of interest to people, especially to those who farmed and fished for a living. Severe weather brings severe consequences, especially to the unprepared. In the past, observations of the natural world led to the creation of many weather proverbs and sayings that were passed down from generation to generation. Some have merit, and some are just silly.
When the forest murmurs and the mountain roars,
Then close your windows and shut your doors.
When leaves show their undersides, be very sure that rain betides.
When the night goes to bed with a fever, it will awake with a wet head.
When clouds look like black smoke a wise man will put on his cloak.
When sea-gulls fly to land, a storm is at hand.
When the ditch and pond offend the nose,
Then look out for rain and stormy blows.
If they flay away, fine will be the day.
When evening comes, you say,
"It will be fair weather for the sky is red"
and in the morning
"Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast"...
An Osprey waits for the storm
Friday, September 12, 2008
The trails I walk are lined with wildflowers closing their heads and going to seed at the end of the summer. The showy blooms of Queen Anne's Lace have been centre stage in the meadows for weeks now but are responding to change of season, the shortening hours of sunlight and the cool evening air.
Wild oats have grown year after year on this land that used to be part of a farm. Heavy seeded heads droop among the clover. I remember collecting oats like these from a friend's farm when I was eight or nine years old. My brother and I crushed the individual seeds with a rock to make "rolled oats" which we gave to our mother for the porridge pot. I couldn't resist crushing a seed for my daughter.
Not everything is closing though. Some flowers bloom in the cool weather and survive the early frosts of fall. Autumn Joy Sedum is opening in my garden and bees are attracted in large numbers to the blossoms. This bee's pollen sacks are full as it prepares for the arrival of winter.
Woodland Sunflowers are at their peak and the bright blooms of the tall plants catch the sun's lowering rays in the afternoon.
New England Asters are native perennial wild flowers that add bright blue and purple colour to the yellows and oranges of the autumn season. They are just now staging a fall opening and will bloom well into October. By then, the season for all flowers will be closed until the long winter has passed.