Posts Tagged winter

Plum delightful

jars of plum spread

Wendy’s plum tree produced fruit this year and she wasn’t available to pick them. So I picked them and made them into Plum Delight Spread. I obtained the recipe from Cooks.com. Their name says “preserves”, but we think it’s more of a spread. Recipe features more than just plums, where a regular preserve recipe would have plums only. Of course, I’m always tinkering with recipes. Friend Debbie says I “make recipes my own.”

Here is my own version:

Plum Delight Spread

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2 qts. plums
4 1/2 c. sugar
grated rind and juice of 1 1/2 lemons
3 c. raisins
grated rind of 1 1/2 oranges
1 1/2 c. finely chopped nuts
1 tsp. butter
1/2 package liquid fruit pectin

Wash plums, cover with water. Cook until tender. Remove blemishes, peel, seeds and cut up. Measure 6 cups pulp. Add sugar, lemon juice, raisins, grated orange and lemon peel. Cook until thick and clear. Add butter and nuts, then pectin. Bring to a full rolling boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Boil 30 seconds. Remove from heat. Skim foam if necessary. Pour into hot sterilized jars. Hot water bath for 10 minutes, adjusting for altitude if necessary.

Yield is about 7 half-pint jars.

Cooks.com’s recipe does not include hot water bath instructions, but I’m rather obsessive about canning food safely. I want no pathogenic bacteria in my canned goods.

I am so grateful for the opportunities God has given me to provide food for the winter.

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Food in our tummies

freshly-canned jars of peach jam

About all I’ve gotten done in the last few days is canning: Plum-raisin spread, relish, peach jam and green beans. In consequence, my back aches, but I keep telling myself the pain will be worth it when we eat our produce this winter. Our tomatoes are finally beginning to ripen and our peppers are nearly ready to pick. When they are ready, they’ll go into jars as well.

I’m not putting up any more cucumbers. We have enough relish now for three years of eating. Our church has a produce exchange every Sunday morning and whatever cukes are left are going into that.

The peaches come from the neighbors’ tree, which is loaded. I hope to can more of them.

Then in the winter, we can sing “Yummy, yummy, yummy, we’ve got food in our tummies!”

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I.M. Pei’s pavilion

I had a list of the top four places I wanted to visit in Boston:

1) John F. Kennedy Library and Museum

2) Adams National Historic Park

3) Freedom Trail

4) Isabelle Stewart Gardner Museum

The Adams’ houses are closed during the winter, so I crossed that attraction off my list. Seeing only the visitors center left me cold. If the houses had been open, I would have seen Presidential sites for the first six Presidents. But this was not to be.

On our first day in Massachusetts, I headed for JFK’s Library. Since the library has free parking, I drove there, then hopped the transit system, or “T”, to Boston Common, where I picked up my Go Boston card at the welcome center. It was good at every attraction I desired to visit. Instead of standing in line to pay, I showed attraction staff my card and went right in. I hopped back on the T and returned to the library, which is now the furthest east I’ve ever been.

JFK Library and Museum building from its pier

When Jackie Kennedy was choosing a design for her late husband’s library, she chose I.M. Pei, then an unknown, as the architect. The tour starts with a showing of a film about JFK’s life, after which visitors are supposed to go downstairs to the museum exhibits, then end in the memorial pavilion. Somehow, I often don’t do things like other people do.

tour group in the pavilion

I must have exited a different door than the one leading to the exhibits because I ended up in the pavilion. Its only furnishings are some low benches. At 115 feet high, it dwarfs all humans entering. If the pavilion is intended to make visitors feel the weight of history and the brevity of life, it succeeds.

pavilion flag and ceiling

The flag, the room’s only decoration, is 45 feet by 26 feet. The space defines stark.

view of Atlantic Ocean from JFK Library's pavilion

The ocean only a few feet away saves the pavilion from unrelieved severity.

Boston skyline from JFK Library pavilion

JFK’s love of the ocean and of sailing was well known. Among other reasons, he said he loved it because of its changeability. The day I was there, the ocean and sky were nearly the same leaden color. The next day, the ocean was brilliant blue, although the skies continued to be overcast.

I could get addicted to seaside views.

For information on visiting JFK’s Library, go here.

This is my slide show from JFK Library:

Click on the link in the gallery or go directly to gallery here.

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Fallin’, American Falls is free fallin’

Seneca Casino (left) and Comfort Inn The Pointe (right)

Comfort Inn The Pointe in Niagara Falls, N.Y., advertises that it’s “ideally located at the entrance of Niagara Falls State Park.” This is no exaggeration. In the image above, I am standing in the gate to Niagara Reservation, the state park in which Niagara Falls lies. I arose early enough that the streetlights were still lit.

From the gate, it’s a short walk to the Falls.

Niagara River rapids

First you see the turbulent Niagara River. Its rapids are probably Class IV: Very difficult. “Demands expert boatman and excellent boat and good quality equipment.” In reality, they may as well be Class VI: Unrunnable; i.e., “You will die here.” Anyone trying to run those rapids will almost certainly go over the Falls. The Falls are most definitely unrunnable. Daredevils or would-be suicides face a $10,000 fine, plus rescue costs.

Seven-year-old Roger Woodward was swept over the Falls when his neighbor’s boat capsized and lived, but his miraculous escape is not an example to be followed.

footbridge to Goat Island

This footbridge crosses to Little Green Island, then to Goat Island. For some reason I cannot understand, I didn’t cross that bridge when I came to it. I stood on it, but didn’t cross to the other side. As a consequence, I missed out on Bridal Veil Falls and the view of Horseshoe Falls from the American side.

Disgusting, but life goes on. I guess that gives me something to look forward to should I ever visit Niagara Falls again.

in front of the Falls

Soon the skyline across the river comes into view. And, yes, Virginia, I did visit Niagara Falls!

The river disappears

Of course, I knew perfectly well that the Niagara River would vanish, but the actual sight was disconcerting. I thought of Enoch in the Bible:

And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him. (Genesis 5:24, King James Version)

This river WAS NOT.

Niagara Falls

Then, finally, the main attraction: The awesome spectacle of one of God’s wondrous works. Because of the early hour, no one was present when I first began shooting. I had that glorious sight all to myself and I reveled in the solitude amid the roar of Niagara.

Solitude didn’t last long.

tourists at American Falls railing

No one was using these viewing machines, but cameras and video cameras were everywhere.

tourist taking pictures with camera phone

I cannot imagine using only a camera phone for such glorious scenery. If that’s all you’ve got, I guess you have to live with it, but I’d croak if that’s all I had.

Dad at the railing

Dad (third from left) joined me after awhile. I was amazed how many tourists had appeared. What must this scene be like in the summer?

Maid of the Mist boats in drydock

Fewer attractions are open in the winter. The Maid of the Mist boats are unable to navigate the river because they are iced in. Yet still the Falls draw people.

American Falls and Niagara Falls, Ontario

Dad was getting anxious to leave. Boston was still many miles away. So I very reluctantly said good-bye to Niagara. We ate an excellent breakfast at the hotel and were on the road again.

I shot some video of Niagara River and Niagara Falls:

Here’s my slide show of Niagara Falls, New York:

Click on the link in the slide show to order any of them or go to the gallery on my website.

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Canadian ice and lights

Table Rock Ice Castle

Behind Horseshoe Falls are other beautiful photographic opportunities. Table Rock Complex, located across Niagara River Parkway from Horseshoe Falls in Queen Victoria Park is continually sprayed with mist. It looked like something out of a fantasy — an ice castle.

frozen handrail

Anyone who would brave this slanted skating rink is crazy. It was a solid sheet of ice, stairs, handrail, posts and all.

Don't tread on me

The sign states the obvious: “Walkway is not maintained during the winter season.” If I’d been carrying a measuring tape, I would have loved to know how thick this ice was — both on the walk and the tree. The reflection of the lights above was beautiful and acted as a DANGER! sign.

Minolta Tower and Marriott Hotel

Fallsview Boulevard above Queen Victoria Falls is full of hotels and towers and Casino Niagara, all beautifully lit. Konica Minolta Tower started as the Seagram Tower, but has changed names six times. Supposedly Seagram built it to resemble one of their whiskey bottles.

Tower stands 525 feet above the falls and is said to offer spectacular views. The night was late, so we passed on a visit to the tower. Maybe someday…

After I’d shot about as much as my freezing fingers could stand, we turned toward the Rainbow Bridge and New York.

Crossing into Canada had been easy. The customs officer had only asked us whether we had firearms, which we didn’t.

Returning to the United States: Not so easy.

The Niagara Falls bridges together are the second-busiest crossings between the US and Canada. Thankfully, winter traffic is much less than during the rest of the year.

Homeland Security now requires a passport for travel between the US and countries in North America and the Caribbean.

Dad has a passport.

I don’t.

The prices for expedited passport services were outrageous, far more than I could afford. (Too bad I didn’t know a person can do that herself with the State Department — without extra fees.)

After much online research, I discovered that Niagara Falls seemed to have a loophole. A birth certificate and driver’s license would get me back into the USA. I obtained my birth certificate, then held my breath as we approached the Border Patrol station.

We received quite a grilling: Where were we from? How were we related? Why were we traveling? How long had we been in Canada? Yada, yada, yada.

The Border Patrol officer did not seem to be convinced by any of our answers.

Then he asked, “Were there any really cool things you saw on your way here?”

I went blank for a horrible moment.

Then inspiration came.

“There was this really cool rest area in Iowa…”

Suddenly the officer smiled and started giving us travel tips. Then he let us through. Whew!

Here’s my slide show from Niagara Falls, Canada:

To order, click on the gallery link in the slide show or go here.

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Freezing at Niagara Falls, Canada

Speed limit 25 mph

You know you are in Canada when you have to read the interior numbers on the speedometer. 40 kph seems like crawling, especially when 40 on our signs means 40 mph. 40 kph is just under 25 mph.

During the height of summer, I doubt that cars even reach that speed limit. When we were there, hardly anyone else was on the road. Parking lots were empty. What a deal!

Dad next to an ice-encrusted monument

Niagara Falls does a wonderful job of keeping the roads and walks clear. They spread ice melt frequently and every bit of it is necessary. At the time I snapped this picture, we could hardly stand upright. I felt as if I were learning to walk again. We had to cruise from one handhold to another instead of walking unaided.

I wish I knew what this monument commemorated. I thought I’d be able to discern that from the photo, but I can’t read it. Usually, I can find anything on Google, but this answer eludes me. If anyone can tell me, I’d appreciate it.

Just after I snapped the above picture, someone drove by and spread ice melt.

The walk shortly became passable and we were free to enjoy.

our first view of Horseshoe Falls

This is the first view we had of the Falls. It was more beautiful than I had remembered. I had visited in November 1985, but those memories had faded.

Niagara Parks trains spotlights on the Falls at night. Every so often, they change colors.

purple falls

Here the Falls are in purple.

green spotlight

They changed the lights to green. Skywheel is toward the left of picture. Rainbow Bridge that connects Niagara Falls, N.Y., to Niagara Falls, Ontario, is toward the right.

Niagara Falls in green spotlight

Here are the Falls with that green spotlight.

And now in white.

I like the simplicity of the white best, but the colors are fun too.

Niagara Falls with rainbow section

The mist covers everything and light shining on it produces wonderful prismatic effects like this one. I wasn’t lucky enough to see a full rainbow.

I feel blessed to have gotten these pictures. I have rarely — if ever — shot in such adverse conditions. Dad was carrying my tripod and we got separated somehow. I had to shoot all these low-light pictures with my elbows on the fence. Amazingly, that steadied my hands enough for clear pictures. Because of the constant rain of mist, I wrapped my camera in gallon storage bags held on by rubber bands. Only the lens was exposed. I wore my down parka, Gore-Tex Thinsulate pants and hiking boots with several layers underneath. That was comfortable. My fingers were anything but. I was wearing Thinsulate convertible gloves, but I had to expose my fingers to shoot.

Brrrrr! This was worse than night football in the rain, but, oh, was it FUN! I’d do it again tomorrow. Can we go? Can we? Huh? Huh?

Here’s my slide show from Niagara Falls, Canada:

To order, click on the gallery link in the slide show or go here.

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Clifton Hill, Niagara Falls, Canada

Yogi Berra was famous for his redundant statements, including “This is deja vu all over again.”

I could sympathize with Berra when we arrived at Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada. Once we got through Canadian customs, I felt as if I’d gone back to Branson, Mo. The same tourist trap chains that populated Branson populated Clifton Hill, Niagara Falls’ entertainment district.

Dinosaur Rampage

I laughed out loud at the Dinosaur Rampage Theater. The toothy predator’s head was too funny, especially with the cheesy growling noises emanating from the theater.

passer-by poses for a picture

I’ve never been to Las Vegas, but I imagine this was a pale imitation of the Nevada city. I considered it preparation for the greatest light show of all, the one in Times Square. I set up tripod in an out-of-the-way corner and shot some pictures. Dad stood by to ensure no one came up behind me and knocked over my camera. A group came by, saw what I was doing, and one struck up a pose. He didn’t think I’d actually shoot, but I caught him. Too bad I don’t know who he is.

Note all the attractions behind him.

Skywheel and Rock N Bowl

The Skywheel was interesting.

Dad in front of Skywheel entrance

Skywheel spans 175 feet, high enough for a wonderful view of the Falls.

Skywheel gondolas

The gondolas are enclosed and completely climate-controlled, which was a good thing. Temperatures at that time were in the 20s. Gondolas seat up to six. The car’s motion prevented me from shooting pictures of the beautiful view. I cannot understand now why I didn’t video instead. Perhaps the dirty windows put me off? If I ever return, I’ll definitely video the ride. Even so, the ride was definitely worth taking, if only to orient ourselves.

view from Clifton Hill

This is the view from the exit side of the Skywheel. Unfortunately, the Falls are not visible from this angle; the trees obscure them.

Some of the attractions are deja vu, but the main attraction at Niagara Falls, are — naturally — the Falls themselves. After riding the Skywheel, I could hardly wait for the main event.

If you have more time to spend at the Falls than we did, the advice at USATourist.com and BootsnAll.com are worth reading.

Here’s my slide show from Niagara Falls, Canada:

To order, click on the gallery link in the slide show or go here.

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Encased in ice

Recently, Dad and I drove to Massachusetts. He needed to have some medical tests run at the University of Massachusetts in Worcester. He asked whether I’d like to ride along. I accepted his invitation. I had intended to blog about the trip while we were on it, but I was too exhausted to write. By the time I got home, trip odometer read 4,396.5 miles.

Dad had to be at UMass 7 a.m. EST Monday and we wanted to visit Niagara Falls on our way. Because of that, our first day out was a brutal one, around 800 miles. The trip seemed never to end.

We hardly stopped. Other than endless miles, only one place stands out from that day, the eastbound rest area at Adair, Iowa.

I had been fretting overnight Thursday that perhaps we should have driven awhile that night.

Staying at Dad’s was the right decision.

When we got up Friday morning, the ice on the driveway was very treacherous. Dad had to sprinkle ice melt behind the van so we could load. Otherwise, we were unable to stand up.

We drove in freezing fog several hours, crawling down the Interstate. We took our time over breakfast in hopes that highway crews’ work would make travel safer. That long breakfast was a very good idea.

bushes covered in ice

Adair, Iowa, would normally be around 5 hours into a trip, but getting that far took longer than 5 hours. I was glad to get out of the car. We stepped into into a fairy-tale world. Everywhere that hadn’t been covered with ice melt was covered with ice. We could hear tree branches cracking underneath the weight. That noise was punctuated by ice chunks crashing to the ground.

ice peeling away from a branch

Ice peeling away from a branch

I stayed on the cleared walks because standing was impossible otherwise. I still had to dodge falling ice chunks and nearly was hit by one. I’m grateful that motion attracts attention.

Frozen US, Iowa and POW/MIA flags

The flags made noise, too, but not the noise usually associated with flags. Instead of a snapping sound, they emitted something akin to a thump. Most of the time, the wind was insufficient to move their weight, and they sagged from the flagpole.

IA Meet People News sign

The usual crop of newsstands stood on the sidewalk in front of the building, including this one. I found the scene hugely ironic. Does this scene encourage you to move to Iowa and meet people?

leaf in ice

I could not resist the beautiful scenes before me. Ice is deadly, yes, but it’s also gorgeous. The light was perfect, too, slightly overcast for even lighting. Fall raking missed this leaf. I love the contrast of brown on white, fall vs. winter. Winter’s winning.

Leaves on a bush encased in ice

Winter is winning here, too, but eventually spring will take hold. The ice will melt and these leftover fall leaves will be pushed off by new growth.

Icicles dangling from garbage can

Even the garbage can was beautiful with its necklace of icicles.

Praise God for ice melt, highway maintenance crews and the beauty of His creation — even when it’s dangerous.

Pictures from the eastbound Adair rest area:

To see pictures full screen or to purchase them, click on the “visit gallery” link here or in the slideshow.

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Open season on snowmen

Since we change decorations nearly monthly, we have a lot of boxes filled with decorations. I was arranging some for better fit when the shelf holding our Snowmen

We had this sled and plastic tub, both of which were gifts from our friend Patty. I’d never quite known what to do with the tub. It’s a bit shallow for flower arranging. I’d tried to stand the sled on an easel, but that didn’t work well. Necessity is the mother of invention, and in this case, the proverb proved to be correct. I took a round piece of floral foam and cut it to size. I pushed the bottom of the sled blades into that foam, then covered it with cotton balls. Voila! a nearly instant decoration.

Flower arrangement

This arrangement took a bit longer. When I checked Walmart’s Christmas aisles after the holiday, I found these painted pine cones and the white and gold poinsettias, all deeply discounted. I got a long rectangle of floral foam and a tall cylindrical blue glass vase. (At $3, it’s definitely a vase, not a “vahz”.) I already had the ivy and the blue candle ring at the bottom. After about 15 minutes’ work, I had a new arrangement.

framed snowman card

I wanted something else to hang on the wall. (Yes, we change what hangs on the wall, too.) I had saved a snowman Christmas card from last year. I recycled a frame I’d bought in a thrift store and used a piece of scrap mat for a very inexpensive decoration.

Happy New Year card

Last year, I found a “Happy New Year” postcard Hubby had received from an aunt when he was little. I didn’t have a mat cutter then, so I simply taped it onto a piece of red paper cut to size. Now I own a mat cutter, so I cut a double mat for it, using that piece of red paper for the inner mat. Our house was built in 1929, so this 1928 calendar is pretty close to one the original owners here would have displayed in that first year.

Coca-Cola: COLD Refreshment

Hubby asked what to hang on the wall above the antique secretary in our entry way. I had received this little Coke puzzle for Christmas 1985 and had glued it together then. Placing it on an easel didn’t work well. This year, I cut a mat for it and framed it. This frame is in its third usage.

Recycling and repurposing are great fun!

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Winter transformation

After I photographed the statue outside the library, I shot pictures in my “backyard studio”. I leave up the dead vegetation as a snow trap. It doesn’t look all that great. But the frost wrought a wonderful transformation.

Driftwood in our corner garden

Dill along the fence

frosted spruce needles

Jack Frost visits my spruce

frosted seed pods

Detail of frosty gate

top of old wire spool covered in frost

There’s nothing like a little coating to make the world look better.

Order my winter pictures here. Click on the “Visit Gallery” link that appears when you hover your cursor over the slide show below.

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