My random nattering about all things geek, including family, friends and what I find to be fantastic and fun!
|Posted on July 3, 2015 at 8:05 AM||comments (0)|
The beginning of July is one of my favourite times of the year. Here's why...
Blackberries and Manchu Cherries
...and Saskatoon Berries
We've also been eating strawberries that we've had growing in our garden for over 10 years now.
There is no greater delight than warm, fresh berries on vanilla ice cream on a hot summer day.
If anyone is interested in growing their own, contact me. We have saskatoon berry bushes, strawberry plants, and blackberry cane to share with those who would like to have fun with their own tiny fruit farm right in the city!
All the best, your GG
|Posted on June 8, 2015 at 11:05 AM||comments (0)|
Back in September, my husband Pat and I decided to do War of 1812 reenacting to celebrate our 25th Anniversary. From that time to today, we put together the basics of what we needed to make that happen. From outfits, to a tent and other camp gear, we did a lot of research, Value Village exploration, sewing, and building. This past weekend was the cumulation of all our preparation. We attended our very first official reenactment - The Battle of Stoney Creek.
Only part of the encampments throughout the whole park.
We arrived on the Wednesday before so that we could participate in their education day, and to make the trek from Ottawa worth the long drive. Once we arrived in Hamilton, our first stop was to Spencer's Mercentile.
We have known the owner Susan Spencer for quite a while, and we've bought many things for our adventure from her store via the internet, but we finally got to see the bricks and mortar store. We also picked up our tent and got to have a nice visit with our friend, and one of her staff, Alison. I even ended up finding the one piece of clothing I was missing, my shift. With those two important pieces of our gear acquired, we set off down the road to our final destination.
We arrived in the early afternoon, easily found our spot and our Captain, our friend Dan, and got right down to the business of setting up our camp. This involved setting up Dan's two british bell tents, and learning from him how to put ours up too.
Our reenacting home away from home
We quickly got everything inside and Pat put together the camp bed he made us. Even though he measured and we discussed putting a double bed into the tent with the makers, we were still uncertain it would fit until it was entirely put together. We were so relieved when it fit beautifully.
So incredibly pleased that our tent fits a double bed!
A little later more members of our regiment arrived, Brent and Andy. Everyone helped set up Brent's tent and a giant marquee that became our mess tent and extra bedrooms (this tent is ginormous). Afterward, Andy and Brent had to leave us until the weekend. So it was a quiet night with just the three of us.
19th Dragoons encampment
Such a wonderful place to gather together, especially in the evening.
The next day was an educational day for local school kids. Over 1400 students attended. Pat and Dan taught them a little about what it was like to be cavalry and infantry. I got to talk about a few typical things a camp follower would do. It was an incredibly busy day, but a lot of fun too. Such a brilliant way to teach history - hands on. And the kids were sharp. They asked great questions.
Friday was a quiet day, which was wonderful after the rush of the educational day. We relaxed. Pat and Dan spent a good amount of time playing a board game based on the War of 1812. Pat says it was good and has a lot of possibilities. Later in the afternoon/evening the rest of our regiment arrived. More unpacking and organizing was done and everyone was settled before dark. We spent that night eating great food, (Kudos goes to Pavel who grills meat like a pro. So tasty!) and getting to know each other better.
Over the weekend we ate very well. We basically potlucked the whole weekend. We even got introduced to some delicious Quebec traditional foods. One was grilled pork belly (sliced like bacon) covered in a spice mix made just for this tasty treat. It's called grillade. We ate a lot of that in the evenings while drinking very good Port and/or Whiskey. Such a delightful way to spend a night in camp.
Over the weekend there was much for the troops to do including drills, marching and of course, battles.
Practicing on the battlefield.
Practicing marching and formation.
Heading into battle.
That's my little friend watching the action.
I have to note that we were blessed with incredible weather. It was sunny every one of the five days we were there except for about 1 hour of rain and a thunderstorm on Friday afternoon. That's it. And the storm was actually appreciated because we were able to test our tent in bad weather. It stood up to rain blowing sideways. What more could you ask for.
I enjoyed watching my sweetie working with the regiment and other groups. There were camp duties to attend to, but there was also lots of time to wander, shop, and visit with friends we haven't seen in a long time. The best part though was simply spending time with my husband of 25 years.
We're already looking forward to the next part of our anniversary adventure and making lists of what items we need to get for next time. Here's one thing we don't need to get. Thanks to Brent for this lovely anniversary gift!
All the best, your GG
|Posted on June 1, 2015 at 2:00 PM||comments (0)|
Last year I reviewed the first book in a new series by author Jon Sprunk - Blood and Iron. At that time, I was asking when the next book would be ready. Well, it's finally done and will be released tomorrow.
Storm and Steel is part two of the Book of the Black Earth series. It picks up just a little time after the first one ended. Horace is now the protector and First Sword of the queen. Alyra is now a free woman, both from the queen and the spy network, but she still continues the mission on her own. Jirom has become a full fledged rebel and is part of the growing slave uprising.
Each of them seems set on their paths of destiny, but while they look to be moving farther apart from each other, and from their greatest desires, circumstances occur that inevitably throw them back together to try and survive an even bigger danger than they faced in the first book.
Best romance in this book - between Jirom and his rebel leader, and partner in love, Emanon. It started in the first book, but their relationship develops in this book and it's beautifully written. It's not written like fan fiction or "oh, two hot, sweaty, sexy rebels" (channeling Spartacus here). No, Jon Sprunk wrote this like two average guys in love. If they weren't fighting for their lives and freedom, I could imagine them with a sweet house in the burbs and a Subaru. This was probably my favourite thing about Storm and Steel.
And if you read my review of the first book, you'll remember I mentioned Astaptah. This baddie gets even more nasty, and seriously dark, in this chapter of the series. Just when you think he's gone, think again. And while he still doesn't get a lot of play in this book, I have a feeling that he will be back in a big way for the next part.
When this book ends the reader can relax for a moment, but it will leave you thinking of all the different ways the story might continue. Storm and Steel is just as good as the first, and I definitely look forward to the next book in the series as well.
You can get your own copy tomorrow from bookstores and online at amazon.ca
All the best, your GG
|Posted on May 11, 2015 at 2:10 PM||comments (0)|
To me, Egyptology was always the exotic highlight of the late Victorian and early 20th century. I had no idea that it's popularity in England started so much earlier, in the Regency period. And while I've heard about William Bankes, I had no clue that he was a big part of Egyptology's earliest discoveries and documentation.
Luckily, Prometheus Books has published this very detailed account of his life and works written by Professor Dorothy U. Seyler - The Obelisk and The Englishman.
The book chronicles Bankes family life to a small degree, but it's his adventures in Egypt and Syria that are related in great detail by the author. The details include extensive research that provides his travelling companions, his exotic dress, his bouts of illness, and even his exploits and mischiefs getting into areas and ruins where Europeans were not welcomed.
There are many photos and images of his drawings and plans, as well as those made by a crew of artists he took on a second expedition. These really show the reader how incredibly dedicated he was to capturing the history and splendor of the ancient pyramids, temples, statues, and ruins he came across.
Not only does the Professor's research about Bankes read like an adventure novel, but it also reads like a history of GLBT rights, or really the extreme lack thereof, in the Regency period. Bankes' preferences were thought to be criminal during his lifetime. Professor Seyler talks a lot about his very private life and his very close friendship with Lord Byron. I got the impression that Byron, and the dangers that Bankes' lifestyle brought, were a great influence toward his desire to travel far away from England.
He spent very little time in England. Whenever he lived there he felt unwelcome and uncomfortable. He was constantly having to hide his true nature and always under threat of discovery. Even after 7 years exploring and being away from his family, he spent much of his time back in England working on his distant estate in Wales and planning some way to launch a new expedition. Sadly, this great explorer spent the last part of his life in exile from England and his family.
The only issue I had with Professor's Seyler's account was that occcasionally she would be describing a new temple or ruin that Bankes was investigating and she would divert into a discussion, in great detail, about the temple's history, pharaohs of the time, etc., etc. While it was interesting, it broke the flow of her narrative about Bankes.
All in all, this is not only a great account of William Bankes' life, but there is also a lot of information about others involved in exploration and digs in Egypt during the Regency period. There is also some fantastic details about contemporary big names such as the Duke of Wellington, Lord Byron, Keats and more.
If you are at all curious about Egyptology, GLBT during the Regency period, or simply about one of the greatest pioneers of the period, this is a perfect book for you.
You can get it from amazon.ca and any bookstore near you.
All the best, your GG
|Posted on May 10, 2015 at 6:30 AM||comments (0)|
It's that special day of the year when mother's around the world sit back and soak in the love, and perhaps a little coffee with Bailey's. It's the one day we can all sleep in and not do a single, blessed thing.
Except when your youngest has to work at 5:00 a.m. When she gets up and starts getting ready, I can't sleep again until I know her dad has dropped her off for the day. So of course I'm lying in bed dozing when this person zips into our dark room, throws something at the end of the bed, whispers "happy mother's day" and runs out. I can see some hulking thing in the dark and there's no way I'm going to ignore it and go to sleep, so I turn on the the light, and find this...
Yes, that is how mellow our chihuahua Carmen is. She didn't move.
I laughed and laughed. My youngest knows me so well. The octopus is one of my absolute favourite creatures in the whole world. I was also thrilled that she spent her hard earned money on something so huge and wonderful for her dear old mom (it's a little dusty in here).
I look forward to what her sister has in store for me today, but I can wait, she's still sleeping.
Octavia says "Happy Mother's Day" to all the wonderful moms out there!
All the best, your GG
|Posted on May 8, 2015 at 5:00 PM||comments (0)|
You still have time to enjoy some fantastic Latin American films right here in Ottawa. And if you like old classics, then you're going to love The Great Madcap. This film from 1949 is a classic comedy from the 'Golden Age' of Mexican cinema.
When a rich man let's his life get out of control, his family is convinced that in order to help him get better they need to make him think he's lost all the family's money. But not all the family is on board with this plan. They have been mooching off his wealth themselves. Things get really funny when he finds out he's been tricked and the tables are turned
At the beginning of The Great Madcap I really didn't like Ramira or his family. They are all greedy and self-centred, and care only about how much money they can spend. Ramira is also a great lush. He drinks away all his troubles and ignores his business and his one loyal employee, Alfonso who tries to help him.
As the movie progresses you start to learn the sad tragedy that lead to Ramira's downfall. You also find that his family do love him, they are just people who have taken advantage of their situation. When his other brother, a famous doctor, arrives and finds the state he's in, he brings the family together to help, and they are more than willing to go along to make him better.
I quite enjoyed watching his mooch of a brother and his hypochondriac sister-in-law adjust to being poor, and his daughter's romance with the down to earth electrician/inventor. I also enjoyed the costumes and cars of the period. The costumes run from the traditional to high end fashion. I only wish it had been made in colour. It would have been gorgeous in Technicolour .
The film is definitely a little social commentary, a little romance, and a lot about family. It's a sweet comedy and the ending is classic perfection.
All the best, your GG
|Posted on May 7, 2015 at 7:05 AM||comments (0)|
A couple of weeks ago I mentioned Ottawa's own Latin American Film Festival. The Festival has been showing fabulous films for the past week and will end this weekend. One film that will be shown this evening is the bitter sweet and funny Mr. Kaplan from Uruguay.
Mr. Kaplan is 76 years old. He is eccentric and feels like he hasn't accomplished anything with his life. When his family decides it's time for him to stop driving and gets an ex-cop named Wilson to drive him where he wants to go it just makes him feel even more worthless.
Wilson too is feeling the same but for very different reasons. He is a good man who's had his family, and really his whole life, taken from him when he covers for his corrupt brother-in-law.
When Mr. Kaplan's granddaughter mentions an odd german running a beach cafe nearby, he and Wilson suddenly have purpose and they hatch a crazy plan to bring this "Nazi" to justice. Of course for these two, nothing seems to go right and it's one blunder after another.
I watched this film with my girls and we all fell in love with it. There were many comments to the characters on the screen. We all hated Wilson's brother-in-law. The girls loved Kaplan's granddaughter. There was also the comment from my oldest, "Wilson, you can do it man". That's how involved we got.
It is a very sweet and sad film. It's a wonderful story of endings, beginnings, and finding purpose in life at any age. It's also a lovely story of taking back the life you want. We all enjoyed Mr. Kaplan very much.
It's playing this evening at 7:00 pm at the River Building Theatre at Carleton University. You can get tickets online or at the door. I highly recommend it.
All the best, your GG