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Melodians and Masks

I stumbled across this curious video on the YouTube machine tonight. These two excellent players are wearing masks to cover up the unbridled mirth and glee they usually exude while playing.

Here they are playing without masks…

These videos are from Gilles Poutoux’s YouTube channel, and they feature Gilles Poutoux and Catherine Renard. Love their playing!


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The Paris Cardinals


We recently installed these two male cardinals at a home in Paris Ontario. They’re hanging on a set of wires which are designed for roses and clematis to grow on. As the plants mature, they can grow around the mosaics.

These cardinals are traditional mosaics made with smalti glass tiles.

To see more of our mosaics, please visit the Long Branch Mosaics page.

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Pickles, end of day 2


I’ve got my pickles fermenting in two containers. One is our bean crock, which lives in the basement because we simply can’t eat a whole crock of beans. The other container is a cookie jar. It reminds me of the cookie jar which sat for many years on the counter in the house where I grew up, the cookie jar from which I snatched many a cookie in my day. In fact it may even be the same cookie jar. This container lives in the basement too and I dug them both up looking for something to ferment pickles in.

You can see there is an improvised weight in the cookie jar, keeping the pickles submerged in the brine. I’m using the actual lid for the cookie jar in the bean crock to keep those pickles down. As the cukes ferment, I’m expecting a white mold to appear on the surface, and I understand the pickles should be kept below that surface film. From my reading, some people skim this scum off the surface and others just leave it be until the pickles are pickled.

Around about day 5 or 6, the pickles should have reached the half sour stage and I’ll likely sample one at this point to confirm. I’m not going to stop at half sour though. Live the dream, that’s what I say, full sour or bust.

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Pickles, the other kind

Regular readers will recall that a while back I make a batch of dill pickles – the preserved kind, not the naturally fermented kind. We gave away several jars of these, and I’ve been gobbling up the ones we kept for ourselves. We’re down to about half a jar and there are still some very good pickling cucumbers available, so I thought what the heck, I might as well try to make a batch of the fermented ones. These are usually known as kosher dills, and while I know nothing to speak of about Jewish dietary law, it seems to me the name refers to the traditional, naturally fermented approach, rather than being actually kosher. (if you know about these things, please comment and teach me a thing or two).

What do I know about fermenting dills? Why, nothing at all of course. At one time making pickles would be something we would learn from our elders. In today’s insta-society, it’s easy to simply refer to the squillion videos up on YouTube, with instructions to do anything at all.

Still, I suspect YouTube might not always tell me everything, and I’m hoping those of you out there with some experience with this kind of fermentation can offer up some tips, and let me know what pitfalls to avoid. On the surface, it looks easy, but I have questions.

  • Is tap water ok or should I be using water that has no chlorine?
  • Can you use any salt that is not iodized?
  • Is it true that adding bay leaves helps keep them crunchy or is that a myth?
  • Is it true the ends of the cucumbers should be cut off because there is an enzime there which will make your pickles mushy?
  • How often do you need to skim the surface of the croc?
  • I’ve read some people don’t add pickling spices to their kosher dills, and just use the salt, garlic cloves, hot peppers and peppercorns. Anyone have any experience with this? Somewhere I read to avoid cloves.
  • Any other tips?

I will report on progress. If this goes well, maybe I’ll try making kim chi next.


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The Perth Cedar Waxwing


This Cedar Waxwing mosaic, made from a combination of broken crockery and floor tiles, now hangs at its new home near Perth Ontario. You can see more pictures including details at the Long Branch Mosaics site.