Archive for October, 2013

North Celestial Tree

Sometimes I run into a photograph where it is not so much the tree itself that is so awesome but the way the photographer uses the tree to create a spectacular image.

Such is the case with the photo below, taken from NASA’s wonderful site, Astronomy Picture of the Day.

NCTreeLosada(Image Credit: Jerónimo Losada)

Explanation: If you climbed this magnificent tree, it looks like you could reach out and touch the North Celestial Pole at the center of all the star trail arcs. The well-composed image was recorded over a period of nearly 2 hours as a series of 30 second long, consecutive exposures on the night of October 5. The exposures were made with a digital camera fixed to a tripod near Almaden de la Plata, province of Seville, in southern Spain, planet Earth. Of course, the graceful star trails reflect the Earth’s daily rotation around its axis. By extension, the axis of rotation leads to the center of the concentric arcs in the night sky. Convenient for northern hemisphere night sky photographers and celestial navigators alike, the bright star Polaris is very close to the North Celestial Pole and so makes the short bright trail in the central gap between the leafy branches.


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Every once in a while, fashion – like art, music, food, children and other aspects of one’s life – goes through an unfortunate phase.


One such phase occurred in the 19th century.


The bustle.


I’m not sure if this fashion tort will ever again inflict its beasty society upon right-thinking members of society.


We cannot, however, become too complacent about this issue.


Our watchword must be, “Ceaseless Vigilance!”


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Dark Hedges, County Antrim

Sometimes I come across some awe-inspiring trees and one photograph alone simply does not do them justice.

dark-hedges-1(Image: globaltraveltorusim.blogspot.co.uk)

Such is the case with the Dark Hedges in County Antrim, Northern Ireland.

dark-hedges-2(Photo by Pawel Klarecki)

This beautiful avenue of beech trees was planted by the Stuart family in the eighteenth century

dark-hedges-3(Via globaltraveltorusim.blogspot.co.uk)

It is one of the most photographed natural phenomena in Northern Ireland.


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Oak Alley Plantation, Louisiana

This magnificent ‘tree tunnel’ is situated on the banks of the Mississippi River

Oak-Alley-Plantation-LA(Credit: i.mgur.com)

The canopied path is created by a double row of live oaks that was planted in the early 1700’s, long before the present house was built.

Yet one more reason why I miss The South!


The above text is based on the article “14 Magnificent Tree Tunnels” at Buzzfeed.com.

For a full-resolution image, click here.


Please visit Oak Alley Plantation at their website and on their Facebook page!

Website: http://www.oakalleyplantation.com/

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/oakalleyplantation

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The Sagano Bamboo Forest is located in Arashiyama, a nationally-designated historic site. The pathway you see in the picture below is 500m long, and runs through one of Japan’s most beautiful bamboo forests.


No wonder the Agency for Cultural Affairs declared Arashiyama a “Place of Scenic Beauty”. This forest is close to many famous temple and shrines, including the Adashino Nenbutsu-ji Temple.


The sound the wind makes, as it blows through the tall bamboo trees, has been voted by the Japanese authorities as one of 100 must-preserve sounds of Japan.


The text is from ‘10 Amazing Tree Tunnels in the World‘ at AmazingWorldStuffs.com.

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Jacaranda Trees, Johannesburg, South Africa


In Johannesburg, where the Jacaranda trees explode into full blossom every October.

Stunningly beautiful.

Or as some of my South African friends might say, “Virry nahss!”


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My dear friend Deb and I have closed down many a restaurant over the years. Purely unintentionally, mind you.

I don’t know which of us noticed it first but we began to detect a disturbing pattern. It seemed like every establishment at which we dined closed within a month or so of our visit. Out of business. Shut down. Closed for various health violations. Condemned. Engulfed in flames.

ANYWAY… I received a Facebook message from her the other day. She’s up in Iqaluit up on Baffin Island [1] bless her, and feels the need for human contact more keenly than those of us down here in sub-tropical southern Ontario.

“You’ve GOT to try this banana bread recipe! It uses honey and applesauce instead of sugar and oil!”

So, here it is!



2 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
3/4 cup honey
2 eggs, beaten
3 mashed overripe bananas


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl, mix together applesauce and honey. Stir in eggs and mashed bananas until well blended. Stir banana mixture into flour mixture; stir just to moisten. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan.

Bake in preheated oven for 60 to 65 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of the loaf comes out clean. Let bread cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack.

≈   ≈    ≈    ≈    ≈    ≈

It should be noted that I have a real penchant for anything with a banana flavour. Banana popsicles, banana bread, banana muffins, banana pudding, banana-flavoured penicillin, etc. You name it. If you give it a banana flavour, I’ll want to eat it.


[1] Long story. Not for the squeamish.

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I love nerd humour.


Sometimes it has a seasonal flair!


Funtastic! Howlarious!


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Mantid Butt!

Honey… ?

mantis-butt(Chinese Mantid – Image credit: C. L. Goforth)

Does this make my butt look too big?

Thanks to C.L. Goforth for this and other amazing insect photos.

Check out her blog at The Dragonfly Woman!


Mantidae is the largest family of the order Mantodea, commonly known as praying mantises; most are tropical or subtropical. Historically, this was the only family in the order, and many references still use the term “mantid” to refer to any mantis. Technically, however, “mantid” refers only to members of the Mantidae family, and not the 14 remaining families of mantises.

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The other day, I got together with my dear friend Tracy (aka ‘The Extreme‘) [1] in advance of her upcoming (and, no doubt, life-threatening) trip to Bolivia.

Eventually our conversation turned to The South and Southern Sweet Tea.


I promised that I would forward to her the original recipe (courtesy of a dear friend in The South) as well as my variation of said recipe.

Proper Southern Sweet Tea


  • 3 cups water
  • 2 family-size tea bags
  • 3/4 cup sugar (If you like it really sweet, add a full cup)
  • 7 cups cold water


  1. Bring 3 cups water to a boil in a saucepan; add tea bags. Boil 1 minute; remove from heat. Cover and steep 10 minutes.
  2. Discard tea bags. Add sugar, stirring until dissolved. Pour into a 1-gal. container, and add 7 cups cold water. Serve over ice.

That’s the standard recipe.


Here’s my modification….

A Damn Northerner’s Sweet Tea Abomination


  • 4 cups water (or a quart/litre mason jar’s worth)
  • 2 family-size tea bags
  • 3/4 cup sugar (If you like it really sweet, add a full cup)


  1. Bring 4 cups water to a boil in a saucepan; add tea bags. [2]
  2. Remove from heat. Cover and steep 10 minutes.
  3. Discard tea bags. Add sugar, stirring until dissolved.
  4. Allow to cool. This is my sweet tea concentrate.
  5. Pour into a 1-qt/1-l mason jar. Put a lid on it. Refrigerate.
  6. Get pint-size mason jar. Fill with ice. Fill halfway with cold water. Add a few drops of lemon juice (optional).
  7. Top with refrigerated sweet tea concentrate.


[1] My dear friend Tracy is none other than The Extreme. She is also the inspiration for one of the lead characters in my Twitter novel, The Great Dead North.

[2] Use a strong tea. I use Tetley Bold orange pekoe tea. 


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