Gardening Hint Spurs A Revelation

Winter continues to hang on, even though it is now officially spring.  We had 10+ cm of snow yesterday.  It will be -18 tonight.  We have lived in Ottawa for a decade and sometimes by this time of year the weather has been downright balmy.  

The other day a friend and fellow gardener sent me a link about how to grow tons of tomatoes:

It’s about knowing if your tomatoes are determinate or indeterminate and removing suckers accordingly.  And there was the revelation:

Next year I am determinate not to be a sucker and stay in Ottawa all winter long.

The Never Ending Winter

It is less than a month till spring officially starts according to the calendar.  Looking outside here, things will need to change quite a bit if our outdoor experience is to line up with the calendar.

The past several weeks have been very good for winter outdoor activities, well, at least until it rained and that made things crusty for cross-country skiing and snow shoeing.  

Here are a few pictures of some lovely sights while out getting some fresh air and exercise.  My experience for a number of the days is summed up here:

Today I spent some time outdoors with my friend

With devices strapped on our feet we headed over hill and round bend

It was apparent quite soon, compared to her, I’m not nearly as fit

My friend easily floated ahead and then patiently waited a bit

The only time I could really keep up was with the beer at the end



Extreme Winter Sport-Do Over Sudoku

Sudoku is a once in a while thing for me
Summer-forget it-so many places to be

The puzzle is fine….as long as I get it
If I mess up, I chuck it and say forget it

It’s then been a waste of my time I deduce
Trying to pry those pesky numbers loose

But this inhospitable winter weather is getting my goat
I am staying inside much more than reaching for my coat

In chatting with friends they told of puzzle in the paper just now                                                                         Five stars and special codes to crack from people who knew how

Into the re-cycle I went and retrieved the five-star game
I tried it once, failed and said “this is lame”

I looked on the internet for clues on puzzles tough
Their hints were written in a way to make it more rough

Why can’t people write in language some plain
Instead they want to, on our Sudoku parade, rain

Rule of K or Rule of Necessity they do give lip
I looked briefly and gave the whole thing the slip

I tossed the puzzle back into the box black
But this morning once again to the container went back

And ERASED the errant answers from yesterday’s attempt
A challenge was needed, winter’s got me verklempt 

I ciphered and cogitated, this failure, it mars
And in the end solved that sucker with five stars

Author: Unknown

Do you have things you do only in winter?  Like a do over on a Sudoku?

Wads Of Weather Warnings

It is the middle of winter.  I was whining about a stretch of cold weather only a few days ago but wait…..can we have that weather back, please?  This morning we are advised there are three weather warnings for our locale.  Not one, not two.  I wonder if there are a maximum number of warnings that can be issued at one time.  And get this, our warnings tell us to be prepared for rain and windchill in the same day.

Environment Canada has issued a freezing rain warning, a flash freeze warning and a windchill warning for us today.  

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Outside the little cushion of snow that fell yesterday is covered with some 20mm of rain, the driveway and street are shimmering in wet and ice.  Later today the wind will gust, the temperatures will plummet and getting around outside will be even more treacherous than it is this morning. The temperature will fall from -2 to -33 in less than 24 hours.  Roads and sidewalks will be turned into ice rinks.

Today you wouldn’t want to have a job as a paper delivery or a Canada Post delivery person or be out at all, really.  People will be slipping and falling and emergency departments will be busy with visits due to mishaps from the weather.  It would be a good outdoor day if you had a job where you travelled from place to place on skates using a parasail.  

It’s days like this when my husband says it’s good people aren’t constituted as bi-metal strips.  If we were, I suppose it would be good for business for massage therapists and chiropractors.  

It’s A Mean -40

It is the dead of winter here in Canada, the second coldest country in the world.  There has been bitterly cold weather in many parts of the country.  While we don’t live in the coldest part of the country, we’ve had “unseasonably” cold temperatures this past while.  

The past few days the temperature, including windchill, has been hovering around -40 C. People are being cautioned to dress properly, to be careful when driving and not to travel when bad storms are forecast.  

The days are short. It gets dark so early.  You come down with “cabin fever” from staying inside for days. Cars won’t start.  Some people have had their water pipes freeze in their homes and have tried to unthaw them using an open flame.   They have used a blowtorch, for example.  And then the fire department comes to call as you’ve started a house fire.  (I don’t know this from experience, I am only repeating what I heard on the radio.  I wouldn’t attempt to unthaw frozen pipes.  Although once I did try attempt a temporary plumbing fix ones using balloons and duct tape.  It ended badly).  There are still 936 hockey game left in the NHL season. There’s a storm forecast for a few days from now bringing 15 cm of snow, they say.  Friends are leaving for Florida and Hawaii and other warm places.  And this morning it was a mean -40C.  

Still, there are hints this won’t last forever.  The temperature is supposed to moderate starting tomorrow.  My gardening partner and I have started to plan our garden for the coming season.  Seed catalogues should arrive soon.    I watched some golf on television today and they talked about how the players are looking pretty sharp for the beginning of the golf season.  The beginning!  And we have dairy products in our fridge that have a best before date of March 13th.  I bet it won’t be a mean -40 outside then!

Do you have words of comfort and wisdom about coping with the dead of winter? Got any advice for a friend of mine who has cabin fever?  It’s not me.  Really.


Simply Biscotti XV

We are living in the dead of winter in these parts.  While there are parts of Canada that get much colder than here, we end up defaulting to how cold it is here compared to the seasonal average as reported by Environment Canada.  I sound very much like the elder when I say “Cold!  You don’t know cold!  Why, where I grew up it was so cold that we had to chip the ice off the water in the wash basin!”    An exaggeration, but you know how it goes.

What better way to put in a sunny cold afternoon than to connect with a friend over a large mug of tea and a couple of Simple Biscotti treats.  


In the background is a lemon custard tart with meringue topping.  It looked very pretty.  The lemon custard filling was different.  My friend had thought it would be the traditional lemon pie filling.  In the foreground an almond chocolate bar with shortbread crust.  There was some raspberry in the topping as well.  The “after” picture would show two empty plates.  Apology for the somewhat fuzzy picture.  User error.  

I have been trying to cut back on sugar over the last while.  Perhaps that is what made me think that both desserts were very sweet.  The same word can be used to describe a visit with a friend on a cold afternoon.  Sweet.

If I’m going for something less sweet, perhaps I should try a biscotti.  After all, that’s the name of the place.

Do you have an activity that helps you through the dead of winter?

Winter At Its Prettiest

We live in an area called the Ottawa Valley in Ontario, Canada.  The people who have lived here a long time say the weather has changed over the years.  Winters here used were once marked by lots of fluffy white snow that came and stayed.  Nowadays we are just as likely to get freezing rain mixed with snow or temperatures that see the snow partially melt and then, with city traffic, the snow is soon dirty and slushy.  

The longer term forecast for our region for January and February 2013 is for a colder, snowier than usual winter.  Since cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are favourites of mine, I say bring it on!  Here’s some of the beauty of a trail about 10 minutes from home.

What do you choose to do in winter (wherever that may be) to make the best of colder temperatures?