19 October 2011


Forty-two new citizens took the oath of citizenship in Belleville today and four of them were our family. There were 18 countries represented in the group and it seemed that England was the supplier of the largest number, with about nine of us in all (there were also two Scots, so a fairly good showing by the UK!). The ceremony had everything necessary: a convivial presiding official (Roy Bonisteel), civic dignitaries, bilingual proceedings, lots of maple leaves and, of course, a Mountie. We swore our Oath of Citizenship (which involved promising to obey the laws of Canada and "to be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second"), received our Certificates of Citizenship and then sang 'O Canada'.

We came away clutching bags of Canadian swag (I am never going to be short of Canadian flags) and feeling, on the whole, quite proud and happy.

10 October 2011

Cider apple experiment

I don't know what I'm doing wrong with the orchard, but I'm not having a lot of luck with it. Last year we had no fruit and this year the only tree to produce anything was one of the cider apple varieties (Brown's apple). I had about six apples from it, total weight 1 lb 4 oz. Hardly impressive.

And now I had a problem: six apples is hardly enough to make cider from. I could have used them to make apple juice, but at the moment I don't have an apple press of any kind. I couldn't work out whether cider apples are good for anything much else apart from making juice. This post is by way of a public service in case there's anyone else out there wondering the same thing.

I decided to take a chance and turn them into apple strudel. I took the precaution of tasting the raw apple first and it was surprisingly sweet. I'd been expecting them to be more like a Bramley cooking apple than an eating apple and thought I'd have to add a fair bit of sugar to them to compensate. After being cooked in the strudel, they did disintegrate to mush in a way that a Bramley wouldn't - but they tasted very good and I would certainly use them in cooking again.

I still harbour hopes that one day in the future I'll get a crop that's big enough for me to be able to justify the investment in a small cider press, but this year all I have to show from the orchard is this single apple strudel.

08 October 2011

Dream scenes

Just recently I've been having a lot of dreams where I'm taking photographs. Seems odd - my mind conjuring up a scene and then trying to record it. I'm obviously taking too many, though, because the other night, the batteries in my dream camera ran out...

I don't know if the dreams mean that I'm taking too many photos in my waking hours, or too few, but I woke to the promise of a misty dawn, the sort of weather that usually provides great photo opportunities and I was up like a shot, heading to the lake to see what it looked like.

Quite lovely, of course, but the water in the air transforms even the most workaday views: the silos and the stubble of the corn in next door's field:

Our big barn:

And a tuft of Canada thistle caught in the chicken-wire fence:

02 October 2011

Closet photography

It's not often that I get compelled to take a photograph upon entering a toilet cubicle. But yesterday was one of those days. The (slightly eerie?) combination of the frosted glass window, tendrils of living and dead creeper was crying out to be recorded.