31 March 2014

Attempts at spring

Scale-invariant melting
Something of a fixer-upper
A little early
 So there were reports of a possible tufted duck at Hanlan's Point, which is at one end of the giant and mostly treed or lawn'd sandbar referred to as the Toronto Islands.  It is important to know that in the winter, only the Ward Island ferry runs; this is at the other end of the Islands than Hanlan's.  (It's also, per the Ferry, winter until 12 April.)  So it's a 5km walk each way.

I'd been meaning to go for a camera walk yesterday anyway, it was supposed to be a pleasant day, and why not?

I even managed not to fall into any of the diverse excavations being undertaken on the Islands.  Something to do with both sewer and power, so far as I can tell, and it makes it really obvious how much of a sandspit the place is.

So I've got pictures of a lot of scaup; "blinding white flanks" is a terrible field mark for picking a possible tufted duck out when the common merganser have started arriving in fresh breeding plumage and are zipping about like green-headed U-boats racing for a better intercept position.  "Black back" is a terrible field mark when you're looking at scaup from astern, because their otherwise grey back goes black from that angle.  And friendships have ended over the shape of scaup heads, so that's not much help, either.  So I have, obviously, no tufted duck photos, because if there's one there, I couldn't find it.

Lots of mergansers and redheads and scaup, black duck, trumpeter and mute swans, mallards, bufflehead, and long-tailed ducks, plus ring-billed gulls, cardinals, singing away like video games of a certain age, red-winged black-birds practising their territorial calls, and what might well have been a tree sparrow.  (There are tree parts in the way in all the pictures.)  Oh, and a downy woodpecker.

So, very much like early spring; lots of ice still in the interior waterways, nothing's even thinking about leafing out, no passerine migrants yet, and it's still remarkably quiet over there.

Book at Kobo is still attempting to upload; have some idea what the problem is but it's not one I can fix.  (I have dark suspicions their tool chain is not set up to handle being given valid EPUB3.0 files.  It seems to go into shock.)

16 March 2014

If the weather's going to stay cold....

I'm going to keep cooking like it's winter.
One decided advantage of going to the same butcher for the last long while is they'll make a point of telling me they've got, by whatever odd concatenation of fate, some unusually nice sirloin in.  One decided disadvantage is that they do this because they know I'm very likely to buy it once they tell me about it.
  1. Set oven to 175 C/350 F
  2. Fill bottom of roaster with a coarsely chopped onion and some fancy beets, peeled, halved, and sliced.  Cover with water; make sure the roaster cover does not touch vegetables.
  3. Rinse ~5 lb slab of sirloin.  (Your butcher doubtless doesn't carry that size, but will probably cut one if you ask nicely.) Place on roaster; sprinkle with thyme and taragon, drape with bacon to cover evenly.
  4. Bake for 20 mins/lb for a rare roast; 30 mins/lb for well done.

The excess beets and onions and the surrounding broth go into the big pot of Ongoing Soup, the left over sirloin goes into the fridge and gets sliced and put over green peas and doused with reheated soup for dinner for the rest of the week.  There is no excess bacon.

15 March 2014

I've committed book

The March North
Egalitarian heroic fantasy with presumptive female agency, battle-sheep, and bad, bad odds.

Update, 2015-05-31:
Since it makes sense for Book 1 to be as available as Book 2, and here we are in the future where that's relatively easy to do, also available on:

That's the Draft2Digital List. Yes, I will update the links as everything percolates through.  (I'm told iBooks can take weeks, and didn't want to wait.)  I won't be publishing on Amazon.  Amazon's thing-like-a-contract continues to be deeply alarming, while their payment mechanisms continue troubling.

11 March 2014

Seeing practice

Got out with the camera for the first time in ages, and tried to notice stuff.

It's been an actual winter.  Unlike many of the people I hear expressing opinions around me, this is filling me with hiraeth, because I don't think there are going to be many more.  We got this one out of the polar vortex collapsing, the trend is toward losing distinct Arctic and temperate air masses, I have no idea what kind of climate that will bring us but I expect that I shall live long enough that the Lady of the Ice shall not visit evermore.  I already miss Her and Her chill silences.

Looking for work (got any XML you want wrangled?), somewhere in book six, if the Blessed Novel is one and the Doorstop is two and three; four has been copy-edited and has a cover and been turned into an EPUB and I'm at the point of filling out forms and cursing the notion of an informative error message which seems to prevail in this sector of online commerce.

Bicycle tune-ups are taking place, the specific size of handlebars I want for the Experiment are the only size unavailable of that particular make and they're completely unavailable, indefinitely out of stock at the manufacturer, but I may have at long last discovered a cat-conveying solution for the Rickshaw.

So, not dead, doom no thicker than usual.