Saturday, February 29, 2020

Cake Bake

Slowly, I’m learning the names of the many varieties of small birds that feed at my feeders. The bigger birds (Jays, Woodpeckers, Owls and Hawks and Ravens) are easy to identify, but the smaller birds (other than the Hummingbirds) have taken time for me to identify and learn, but now I can differentiate between a Sparrow, Finch, Nuthatcher and Towhee, but I’ve still more to learn.
I’m chuffed because I did quite well with a new baking technique: A mirror glaze with leaf decorations.
Baking a cake to glaze it involves a lot of work. First I bake the cake and then I make the butter icing whilst the cake bakes and cools in the fridge. Once the cake is cooled, I put a good healthy layer of icing between the two halves of the cake and then a very, very thin layer of icing on all the exterior surfaces except the cake bottom. The exterior coating functions to contain the crumbs and provide a perfectly smooth base surface for the glaze.
Then I cool the cake again, this time in the freezer so that when it comes out I can again make the surface even smoother with a hot knife. Whilst it cools, I make the glaze, which is really a second icing. Finally, I mount the cake on a stand on top of a cookie sheet so that I can pour the glaze over the cake and collect the extra glaze. Then comes the moment of truth: the pour.
It’s tricky, if the glaze is too hot, it melts the butter icing on the cake, but if it isn’t warm enough, it won’t flow over the cake to make the glassy mirror finish. And as for making chocolate leaves, I didn’t have the right tool with which to draw them onto parchment paper so I painted real leaves with chocolate, seriously chilled the coated leaves and then peeled the real leaves off the chocolate.

Today I’ll be cooking two dishes for the main course of the dinner party I’m hosting on Sunday night. I’ve invited five friends from the island to dinner. I’ll cook two more dishes tomorrow. The cake is for dessert. Duh. 
It’s clear today and tomorrow’s predicted to be nice as well. Besides cooking, I’ve to chop wood so that there’s lots of kindling for Hannah to use while I’m away, and I’m going to uncover my fountain and get it going as I believe the threat of sub-zero temperatures is over.

Friday, February 28, 2020

And February Leaps

Today I’m going to bake a chocolate cake and then, for the first time ever, I’m going to try to make a mirror glaze with which to frost it. And because of that, I had dreams of trying to make and glaze a chocolate cake. This dream world of mine is exhausting because nothing ever goes well.
My other dream involved me returning to an apartment that was mine, but I was apparently living somewhere else because there were signs everywhere that the apartment had been empty for a long time. And … and … in the apartment there were three aquaria from which giant fish had escaped and were seemingly thriving in air. But skates and fish that looked like sharks were everywhere.
Hannah is a sweet girl. She’ll be caring for my pets when I’m in Vancouver. She and her mother, Shelly, came by yesterday to learn about my pets and where things were and now I’ve achieved a peaceful outlook about leaving Fred, Ethel and Her Highness behind when I go to Vancouver.
Today marks the second anniversary of being horridly dumped by Rob after ten not-so-easy years together. He was here two years ago today and he behaved horribly.
I remember when my dog Spike was getting terribly weak and tired; I knew that the end was coming and I was terrified of what would be required of me. But then one morning I awoke to him having a dreadful seizure and so I scooped him off and raced to the vet.
He was put down, of course, and the funny thing was that I was glad for that seizure that was so, so hard to see. The horror of it gave me the strength and conviction to make the decision I’d been dreading for so long. And Rob’s horrid behavior on his last visit served the same purpose. I’ve missed him, of course, ever since. I miss the affection and pride I took in his company, but his behavior allowed me to let go.
Today is marks two months without Marijuana. I’ve not missed it, but there were a couple of demanding days when I thought: A puff would go down well right now.
I’ve thought I might have some if I had guests who used it, but there are none coming in March and I’m not allowed to have any whilst I’m in the mental health program during April and May, so the next time I can consider having some will be in June and by then I’ll have not had any for five months.
So far, there’s no sign of construction on the lot next door. The owners have said during each of the past two summers, that they’d intended to start building in February. It could begin at any time and I’ll lose my sense of privacy when they build, so I’m grateful for every month that goes by without any human presence.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

My Most Popular Post

On June 16, 2018, I wrote the text below as part of my post. A few months later, my blog started getting a lot of hits from Russia and Ukraine and ever since, this post has remained as my most viewed or second most viewed and both Russian and Ukraine have remained a high source of visits to my blog.
I’m fed up with ignorant leaders. I’ve met many lovely, ethical and empathetic people of limited intelligence. I hate how horrid it sounds to say that but I’m glad I can because otherwise I’d blame stupidity for Donald Trump, all the Trumps, Rudy Giuliani, Jeff Sessions, Betsy Devos, Doug Ford and the like. 
It’s not their lack of intelligence that’s the problem; I loathe their conviction that their way of thinking should affect public policy and all the lying, despicable language and hate talk. I hate the pendulum swing between our social polarities.
What if there were two ballots for our elections—one for left leaning people and one for right and you can only have one? What if each side chose their leader and governments were jointly led and social policy had to be hammered out between them? That way, perhaps public discourse would be less objectionable and not posturing.
Hannah, who’s eighteen, is coming by today to learn the ins and outs of caring for Fred, Ethel and Sheba whilst I’m in Vancouver next week. I’m finally emotionally reconciled to this trip; until recently I’d been suffering a lot of angst about being separated from Sheba for so long.
Jonathan Franzen held my attention easily for eighteen hundred pages, but a lot of the fascination was his talent with plot and structure. He has a talent for telling a story that moves about in time and perspective that I admire. Richard Powers, author of The Overstory is an altogether different kind of master storyteller: He’s a magnificent writer. His prose paints pictures in my mind; as I read his novel it gives me a feeling of being adrift on gently rolling waves. His prose is powerfully emotional and it has nothing to do with plot. He makes me glad I’m a reader.
Last year I made a concerted and successful effort to reduce my use of electricity because my Hydro bill from my first year on Gabriola was $4,500! My annual total for my second year was closer to $1,200. Well, I’m happy guy because I just checked on my consumption for this year compared to last, and look at the results:

The light blue shows my levels of use for 2020; the dark blue shows use in 2019. I’m chuffed to see that I get better and better at living here and reducing my living expenses.

Calceolaria uniflora is also called the flower-doll plant