Monday, August 31, 2009

Fish Fry

Well, mine didn't look exactly like that in the picture, but close enough.

Yesterday we had Stephanie and Chad over for a Perch Fry. The Perch were some we'd caught while at Keystone. Saturday we'd stopped at the local farm stand (Stade's) for sweet corn, cucumbers, tomatoes and green pepper. Their sweet corn is wonderful! The kind that dribbles down your chin in lovely sweetness with every bite. Nirvana!

I fixed the Perch as my mother and grandmother did before me. I can't even remember when I first fixed fish...I'm sure it was as a child...just don't remember. It's done very simply. Dip the fillets in an egg-milk wash, dredge them in flour-salt-pepper mixture, saute in olive oil (we used to use butter or shortening, but those days are long gone) until golden brown. Nothing fancy. With fresh fish that's really all one needs. The fish is flakey, tender and delightful. Nothing gets in their way.

I also fixed potatoes with onions. Now, here I repent. The flavor depends on a buttery taste, so I've been using I Can't Believe It's Not Butter...and lots of it. We don't have these often anymore, they are a sinful delight. Saute the onions, add sliced potatoes and get them a little brown around the edges, add a 1/2 cup of water and simmer on low for 20-30 minutes. Yum.

I added a side-dish of fresh, sliced cucumbers, tomatoes and green peppers.

Oh, Steph and I sipped a Reisling that went quite well with the fish. And dessert, about an hour later, was vanilla ice cream with Smuckers Dark Chocolate topping.

It was a good, honest, filling meal.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Day the Falls Stood Still

The Day the Falls Stood Still
by Cathy Marie Buchanan
A Hyperion book
copyright 2009

Once again when I got home from my Canadian vacation I had an ARC awaiting me in my stack of mail! What a treat to come home to! Even more of a treat because The Day the Falls Stood Still takes place during a time-span that fascinates me - WWI and just after.

My father told of how, when he was a child and his father was in bed with the Spanish flu, dad would listen on his home-made crystal radio for war news and move thumbtacks on a map of Europe so his father could keep track of what was transpiring. Dad was all of 8-10 years old at the time.

The Day the Falls Stood Still
takes place on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls beginning in 1915 when Bess Heath was a seventeen year old convent school girl. She was the youngest daughter of the director of the Niagara Power Company. The advent and boom of hydro-electric power moves her story and the story of her family through the following years.

Bess meets and falls in love with Tom Çole, a riverman whose almost psychic connection with the Niagara has made him, as it did his grandfather, a legend in his own time. When events transpire that make him a threat to the power companies, Bess' and Tom's marriage is also threatened.

The story is very loosely based on an actual legendary Niagara riverman, William "Red" Hill. Throughout the book are actual photos taken of some of events mentioned and fictional newspaper clippings that put the reader right there, in the moment, of what is happening.

I've never visited Niagara Falls, but throughout reading this book I swear I could hear the rush of water in the background. Buchanan does a wonderful job of putting us there, in the moment. Bess is beautifully written. We see her grow from a silly, privileged school girl into a strong, passionate, self-sufficient woman.

My only quibble is that there is much use of flashback and it gets quite predictable fairly soon. And while it might be argued that this mirrors Bess'(and her culture's) feet originally stuck in the past and her eventual movement toward balance, it was still very annoying at times. Flashbacks for backstory always make me feel like the author went, "Whoops! I forgot to tell you this... " But aside from this, Buchanan tells a powerful and engrossing story.

I would definitely recommend The Day the Falls Stood Still to anyone interested in this time period, Niagara Falls, hydro-electric power, or just a plain good story.

Saturday, August 22, 2009


Bud reminded me that I forgot to report something about our Northwoods experience. Shame on me!

Bud had caught one of his biggest Bass and I was taking the picture. I had set my rod down propped against the side of the boat, jig plus worm dangling just slightly at water-line. I was about to press the camera button when Bud stood up, "Your rod!"

I turned around and NO ROD! Bud saw it disappear over the side of the boat! Those Bass are aggressive little buggers and one obviously took advantage of a tasty meal hanging like the proverbial carrot in front of his nose.

My nice, lightweight, Shimano rod was gone! Phooey! Bud's custom crafted for him G. Loomis (no relation) rods just didn't feel right - stiffer, heavier. I was bummed.

We went on fishing. Bud caught more Bass. I moped. (Damn Bass! Grumble...grumble...grumble)

About an hour later as I was sighing and deciding to just get on with it, Betty, this is silly, when Bud says, "Hey! Look what I got!"

My rod!!! He was hauling in my rod, complete with reel, jig...and still wriggling worm! He thought he had a weed or, maybe, a Northern on the other end. But what were the chances that it would be my rod, for Pete's sake??? Geeez!

Bud said we'd used up all our luck for the week right then and there.

However, we did come into Walleye later in the week anyway. But not as many Bass after that. That Bass must have gotten more than he bargained for and spread the word.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Back from the Northwoods

We got back early Sunday afternoon from our 2009 sojourn into Northwestern Ontario. I have a hard time getting myself back into my usual routine when home. Yesterday, I just went through the motions, today I'm starting to actually be consciously aware of what's going on around me. I'd much rather not, but I gotta.

Bud says that this trip could be boiled down to two words, "Wet ass!" The seat of his pants never seemed to dry out because his seat cushion in the boat we used was perpetually soggy! It rained. It sprinkled. It poured down in buckets. It spit at us. It thundered. It boomed. It lightninged. It cracked. It shocked us awake in the middle of the night, hearts thumping, skin tingling. For seven out of the 10 days we were there.

The sun did manage to peep out for short periods between showers (that brought out some beautiful rainbows!), so we did get out between the worst deluges. We had brought with us some good rain gear to help keep us dry, but it was rather discouraging to have to skitter back to camp with the first rumble of thunder just when the walleye would start biting again!

We knew that the weather had been miserable up there for the previous two weeks, but we got a phone call from the Frostiaks, the Keystone Lodge owners and proprietors, the day before we left and they told us that they would meet us to transport our belongings from the one mile mark from the camp because that last mile of the road was washed out! Indeed, when we turned onto the 8 mile gravel road that leads to the camp we were met a couple miles in by a worn, wet and bedraggled looking Dave Frostiak on his ATV telling us that, instead, we and our belongings would be transported via boat from a sister camp to Keystone. Our van stayed parked at the Northern Lights camp for the duration. Heather, the 15 yr old Frostiak daughter, navigated our boat for the 40 minute lake ride, in the rain, to Keystone Lodge. She made a wrong turn at one point and her brother, Mike, didn't let her live that down all week! It was, definitely, not an auspicious beginning to the week.

That ride started Bud's chronic ear infection to start ferociously up again despite the precautionary meds he was taking. Wednesday, one of the days the sun managed to stay out until late afternoon, we hopped in a boat, made the 40 minute trip back to the van and went to the Dryden hospital (another hour+ ride). A tiny, petite, very young woman doctor named Esther (What young woman is named Esther these days? And if I saw her on the street I'd think I was pushing it if I thought she was 20!) dressed in blue jeans and hoodie prescribed different meds for Bud and off we went back to camp. Blessedly, the meds worked wonders! Thank you, Esther!

Saturday, the Frostiaks thought it might be safe, after a couple of dry days, to try transporting us out of camp over that mile of washed out road. We headed out in the Suburban. Yikes! That road was one big mud pit! Shortly before we hit that mile mark we got mired to the axles. Bud and I sat in the Suburban while Mike Frostiak dejectedly slogged back to camp for reinforcements. He and another camp visitor came back, Mike on the ATV and the visitor in a truck. We transferred our belongings to the truck. . . . then the truck got mired. . . .

Mike went back to camp on the ATV. He and Dave came back on the ATV with a covered trailer attached. Most of our belongings fit into the trailer and I got my first ATV ride with Dave back to the camp. We unloaded and he went back for Bud and more of our stuff. We wound up boating back to our van at the other camp in that visitor's very de-luxe boat. Lovely thing! And we made the trip in half the time! But what a muddy, soggy mess we were!

The Frostiaks were continually apologizing, poor things. But what could they have done? They had no more control over the weather than anyone else! They did everything they could and, as usual, bent over backwards to make everyone as comfortable as possible. Neither Bud nor I have any complaints about Keystone Lodge and its proprietors. Quite the contrary. They did all they could to make our stay a good one. And it was, despite the crummy weather. We caught lots of fish! Northwestern Ontario is gorgeous, even in the rain. We rested, slept and ate well while we were there. And the company was the best! They are plain, good folks.

Anyhow.... despite those adventures, there were others to be had! On our way up to Keystone I saw a Wolf! It was just standing amid some trees by the side of the road somewhere between Duluth and Twig, MN. I just stared at it as I went by, hardly believing my eyes! Beautiful character. Lanky and sinewy, golden and black coat, standing there, panting, looking like he was considering whether he should risk trying to cross the road or not. There was no question in my mind it was a Wolf and not a dog. My gosh, he was beautiful. For an hour afterward I just sat smiling to myself.

We also saw a couple of Beavers, three very playful Otters, countless Loons and Bald Eagles, Deer - one particularly handsome fellow with a marvelous rack - and a Moose! Well, Bud saw a Moose. I saw a brown lump on the edge of the water from too far away to determine what that brown lump was and so I turned away. Then Bud says, "A Moose!" He saw it stand up from bending down and drinking and walk back into the woods. So, I kinda saw a Moose.

I got two good books read while waiting for rain to stop. One, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows, I will recommend to anyone. It is a treasure. And the other was a Temperance Brennan novel, Death du Jour by Kathy Reichs, the novels that inspired the TV show Bones. Gruesome at times, but fun stuff to read.

So that's my foray into the Northwestern Ontario wilderness for 2009.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Marketing, This and That . . .

This is going to be a rather muddled post. Follows my current brain pattern, I guess. (The Boss and I will be leaving for Canada on Tuesday and I have bug spray, worms, and sweatshirts muddled in along with all the following up there in my noggin.)

Marketing...that's the thread here. While I have a B.A. in Business, marketing got short shrift in my courses. Suited me fine back then - I had no idea I'd need to market myself and my skills when I hit 60 years old. But that's what I'm looking at with Swan Church Services. What to do? How do I put SCS out there? And where? Exactly whom do I target? And how do I get past that cringing little person inside me whose mother exhorted her to not impose herself on others?

I'm not the only one facing the daunting challenge of marketing in this web-oriented world. My friend, Cinnamon Moon, recently launched a Spiritual Studies website at Spirit in conjunction with her Spirit Lodge discussion board where I met her many moons ago. She has even more exciting marketing plans in the works for the future.

And there's my friend, Michelle Frost (who blogs over at Crow's Feet), who has put together this wonderful trailer for promotion of her very exciting debut novel, First Light.

Michelle is an excellent story-teller and a lyrical writer. I am so excited for her. First Light is a beautiful story with characters who draw you in and make you want to know more about them. Michelle hints that a sequel may be in the works. I dearly hope so!

Anyhow, Michelle has taken the leap into creating that trailer to promote her book. How exciting is that!

And then over on Writer Unboxed, I read an article by J.C. Hutchins who promoted his first novel, 7th Son, via a freebie Podcast when that was a mere fledling art. Now, along with a flourishing website that promotes the work of other authors as well as his own, Hutchins novel 7th Son: Descent, picked up by St. Martin's Press, will be in bookstores this fall!

How does one do this? This marketing thing? I am awed.