Sunday, 30 January 2011

No News Sunday

My life has become so boring lately that I cannot find anything worth sharing with you.

Weekend ...    tidied up porch
Monday ...     iced in ... baked
Tuesday ...     iced in lesson and food prep
Wednesday ...X-ray and teaching
Thursday ...    Tired
Friday ...         Felt as if I'd been run over by a truck so didn't go snow shoeing
Saturday ...     Tammy and her gang came out and helped get the wood supply down the hill and into the porch

That was the best day ... Lily the wonder babe entertained us all and then nursed and fell asleep.

Apart from that ... I finished reading The Sentimentalists ... and felt relieved to be finished with it ... watched some good movies ... have started reading Vimy by Pierre Berton ... excellent  ... but I really want to read a piece of fiction that gathers me up in its covers and transports me to a whole new world of the imagination.  i have ordered a couple that I have hopes for ... Elegance of the Hedgehog and Cutting for Stone .

Next week does not appear to be terribly exciting ... I teach twice ... on Wednesday and then again on Saturday here at the lake.  I will make a lunch, one of my students will take us out snowshoeing and give us an interpretive tour, and then we will complete the lesson.  The rest of the week I expect to be cooking and painting that little table and chair.

Hope your days are more exciting than mine are!

Sunday, 23 January 2011


Sunday morning ... and a good day to hunker in by the fire, the computer and the DVD screen ... or maybe return to the down-filled nest with a book.

I am reading The Sentimentalists.  I wish I were enjoying it more.

I just ordered Eat, Pray, Love (the book) because two people have told me that they felt the book was far richer than the movie.  Me? .... I loved the movie ... so I am really looking forward to the original.

I also ordered a book about how the brain regenerates itself and changes its circuitry even after traumatic incidents.  Who knows what my brain is doing there inside its cracked little egg?

And the third book I ordered was recommended by Mary Ito (sp?) who hosts Fresh Air on Sunday mornings.  I love her choice of music and she invariably mentions movies and books that I too enjoy.  This one is called Wait for Me ... by one of the six strange Mitford sisters ... Deborah the Duchess.  I can't remember all their names but one was a fascist, another a communist, another a writer ... all seemed interesting ... and Mary characterized them with these single nouns. This book is autoiography and tells the story of the author and her sisters.

I also ordered Passchaendale but have to wait for that DVD ... as I have to wait for Barney's Version and The King''s Speech.

I do have to go out at least once today.. and who knows? ... maybe I will enjoy the day and stay out and play a bit.  On Friday I went snowshoeing for about 1 1/2 hours in the woods and was perfectly comfortable exercising out of the wind.  It's much more fun snowshoeing on bushwhacking trails than simply slogging along a road.  

I have to take over the final part of Peter's order and, with it, the instructions for a couple of things but after that I think I will just stay close to the home fires.

Yesterday was an eating day ... in fact we (my guests and I) couldn't finish all the food.  We started with a Lebanese tray of goodies with pita, went on to oven roasted veggie soup, and from there to beef wellington, mashed potatoes and stir-fried veggies, and then to apple cake with whipped cream.  We did not have room for the salads. 

The beef tasted fine but I would make radical changes to the recipe ... FAR too many peppercorns ... not NEARLY ENOUGH filo sheets ... so the beef ended up looking like a blob covered with the wine/mushroom/shallot/ duck liver sauce.  Bits of dingy grey sogginess clung to it.  The whole thing should have been encased in a puffy crust.  The peppercorn cream sauce masked the final product that came to the table ... but I cook with everyone watching and helping so we all knew what was hiding under there!

Before my guests arrived, an entire family came to make decisions about which furniture they wanted me to paint for the newest little boy.  Both little boys were there, the parents of one, the mother of the other and the grandmother of the family.  They decided on a small table with a chair and want it done in gentle blues and greens with animals.  I am looking forward to starting a new project.

Tomorrow I will get the x-ray done .... and next week the temperatures are supposed to moderate a little so I hope I can go out and play.  I hope you are having a great weekend whether you are living in the icebox that is central Canada or some place where the temperatures are balmier.

Friday, 21 January 2011

Old Labs

You might well ask what old Labs have in common with me and why they are showing up on this blog.

A hint ... it has only a little to do with either medical labs or with Chelsea the old and lumpy Lab I sometimes care for.  However; I do seem to be going to the dogs at an accelerated rate lately.

My son laughed when I told him about my lumpiness and said I was aging like an old dog.

My doctor, on the other hand, was not amused.  She is sending me to an eye surgeon to have the lump on my eyelid excised and biopsied, and I have to have my skull x-rayed Monday because she thinks I fractured it when I fell.  There is not a lot that an x-ray can tell as far as I can understand beyond whether it was indeed fractured, but she says it may indicate the need for more poking about with an MRI or CTScan to see if the brain itself was damaged.

She asked whether I had noticed any drop in intelligence and I laughed and said, "No, but then I live alone with a dog, so who would tell me?"

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Why can't a man be more like a woman?

Yes, I know it sounds like an inversion of the famous "My Fair Lady/Pygmalion" complaint mouthed by Henry, the old curmudgeon and lover of language ... and that is a little scary since I may well fit that description myself.

But honestly.

I keep meeting really interesting women who would be lovely mates if only they were men!

I am not thinking of the stereotyped images of either sex, but fully fledged and interesting ... and fit ... in all ways ... mentally, physically, financially, morally, sexually  ...

I have recently been meeting men who have some or even most of those attributes, but too often they are sadly deficient.  But I meet women who seem whole all the time.

The woman I met most recently said things like: "Oh, I can't be bothered with men; they all seem to need mothers", "The ones I meet have no sense of adventures at all", "I met one who spent his entire year traveling from one of his offspring to another and wanted someone to share that life!  Good grief!" and "All the men I have met on-line seem like dorks."

Another started her last email with the salutation "Men, shmen" and proceeded to write in a most interesting, independent fashion.

Still another sighed and stated with finality, "They are all boring, you know, even the good ones."

A very old friend decided several years ago that men were fine as friends but she was quite quite finished with the idea of a relationship with one.  She much prefers the company of the women she knows.

Anyway, so far,  the men I have met whom I had some hopes for have proven to be mentally ill, physically decrepit, poverty stricken, virtually homeless, lacking friends, without much of a life and/or boring.

The woman I just met the other day may have the answer.  She says she is going to start looking for Latin men.  At least life would be interesting with them!

I dunno about that as a solution but I am going skiing with her on Tuesday.  Maybe I will learn more.  She seems to have thought things through pretty carefully, and, like me, she's still hopeful.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

A grey Saturday Morning at the Lake

This has, once again, been a busy week that has flown by.

I taught Wednesday and spent most of Thursday in Ottawa.  I was exhausted after a day of appointments and errand-running, so tired that I went to bed without supper at 7:30 and slept for 12 hours!

On Friday the weather was beautiful and I spent two hours snowshoeing with Tom and his five old ladies ...  three of us in our seventies and two in their late sixties.  It was all uphill for 3.5 k. on the way out and much more pleasantly downhill on the return journey.  Kenya had a wonderful morning bounding hither, thither and yon.  She probably got in about 20 kilometres, most of it running.

One of the women was a new acquaintance and her xc skiing skills and courage seem to be on a par with my own.  I think we will get together some time soon.  It is hard to find someone who wants to ski but is as cautious, slow and inept as I am!

I have been invited to go on a moonlight potluck snowshoeing jaunt in the park with a much faster moving group on Monday evening.  Not sure whether I will make it.  It is 4 k. each way ... and I was exhausted by yesterday's excursion.  However the 8 k. would be broken up by a convivial meal around the woodstove at one of the cabins.  I will see how I feel after I have dealt with my day on Monday ... another trip to town that may end up being tiring too.

Today is meal delivery day ... so a morning of last minute veggie etc. preparation followed by packaging and delivery.  This week (as predicted)  has been much easier than last week was.  Instead of baguettes I am tucking in a tortilla dish made with my own tomato sauce, fresh tomatoes, black beans and Monterey Jack cheese.  I had it for supper last night and really liked it.  I am going to do more with tortillas from now on. I had intended to have salmon but again was too tired ... so that will be lunch today!

The other news is that I received an email from someone who bought one of my rocking chairs for her son last year and now wants another for her nephew.  I don't, unfortunately, have any rocking chairs available to work on ... but I will see what I can do.  If anyone reading this sees a child's rocker that needs a paint job and a new occupant, please let me know.

So ... I have managed to balance the week ... reading, writing, cooking, teaching, and snowshoeing ... not sure I've got it right yet.  Maybe the problem is that I am seventy years old and trying to fit too too many things into an old lady's week.

I am planning to play on the kick sled tomorrow ... or ski or snow shoe ... we are getting a dump, I hear.

Enjoy your weekend.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011


I have been remiss ...

I used to blog daily ... then every couple of days ... now it seems to be coming down to once or twice a week.  Does that mean I have a life in the here and now?

I miss the reflective nature of blogging when I don't do it regularly.  Just sitting down and thinking about things ... looking back ... pondering ... looking forward ... it is all important to me.  My life seems to become a half life when I don't take the time to reflect.

Lately I have been consumed by preparing meals and teaching.  I need to balance my life again. (God, how often do I have to remind myself to do that?)  Anyway ... this will be a kind of resolutionary blog post ... an attempt to find balance through reflection ...

I have prepared the beginnings of most of the meals I will deliver on the weekend ... a beef stew base that is luscious ...  yogurt breaded pork chops ... a chocolate banana cake.  On Friday night I will dine on salmon the leftovers of which will then become salmon pasta primavera on Saturday when I will also prepare the fixings and the soup, and package and deliver everything.   Between then and now I will pick up any necessary additions like bread and salad makings.

My lesson for today is all ready and in the bag I carry to River Echo.  Three hours of preparation for three hours of teaching this week.  Still too much but at least saner.  We are working on tenses and using the film "Babies" as a base.  If you haven't seen it, do ... four babies ... two from developed countries (Japan and the USA) and two from developing countries where I have worked and come into contact with the nomadic people portrayed in the film ... Namibian Himbas and Mongolian herders.  The first year of the babies' lives is documented.

Kenya and I just got back from a longish walk.  I was going to go skiing this week but discovered one ski boot was filled with ice.  It is is still drying out.  On Friday I will be out with our snowshoeing group ... about two hours of snowshoeing, followed most likely by an impromptu social get together.

One of the things that has occurred since I fell in early December is that I seem to have given myself permission to be lazy.  I quite like it!  I have watched a few good movies ... The Governess ... The Ugly Truth which is predictable and not great, but funny enough in one spot especially, to make me howl with laughter ... My Sister's Keeper which brought tears ... and Baby of the Bride ... another slight film but I liked it.  My favourite lately was Eat, Pray, Love ... I watched it twice ... reminded me of a dear friend who has been ill recently and looks for all the world like Julia Roberts ... and thinks and behaves like the character she plays in this movie.

I have also been reading ... just finished The Matter with Morris ... and have started to read The Sentimentalists ... both about the aftermath of wars in far away places ... Vietnam and Afghanistan.  Not bad ... but not completely riveting either.  But that may be me ... perhaps I am a little scattered just now.

My head still hurts and I suspect from the strange long wriggly lump I can feel that I may have cracked my skull when I fell.  There was no blood but this feels like a healed irregular fissure.  I probably should have it and the warty thing on my eye and the smooth lump behind one ear looked at one of these days.  Some people get grey hair.  I become lumpy. Damn this aging anyway!

And that ... she said ... is that for now.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Whew ... end of a busy week ... time to play

If I charged by the pound for contents, packaging and delivery I would be making about 25 cents a pound ...

It has been a hectic week ... back to teaching with huge amounts of prep time needed ... then making five multi-stage meals, desserts and homemade soup in a short period of time.

This is what I accomplished:

a kitchen that is a disaster
a fridge and freezer that are jam-packed and totally disorganized
several partial meals in the freezer

The boxes that are going out contain:

chili con carne with herby salad and french stick
pasta with a hearty meat sauce, spinach salad and french stick
chicken kebabs on rice with green beans and almonds
pork roasted in apple cider with oven roasted veggies and apple sauce
chicken stew with mushrooms, carrots and potatoes
dressings for the salads
banana bread
pumpkin cake
extra pasta sauce
grated parmesan
instructions for keeping and cooking


Today I am going to get my fridge and freezer re-organized and pre-cook any veggier that might not last till next weekend.

Next week should be easier because I have some cooked meat portions etc in the freezer now.

Right now I am going on my delivery run ... and this afternoon I am going out to play.

Have a great weekend, everybody.

Post Script:

Just got back from playing on the kicksled with a new friend who had a ball with it.  The fresh powder snow is wonderful for good runs on the hills.

I made a roasted tomato sauce that we had with nice bread; also a spinach salad for tonight and my Oma's pureed spinach with green onions and butter.

And I have got my garbage and recycling up the hill and organized the fridge and freeze.  I feel MUCH better now ...  Playing in the snow does wonders for the soul.  So does feeling on top of things!

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

a new career ...

January 4, 2011

A New Career ...

Well not really ... just another way to play at life using the life skills I've developed over 70 years.

One of my buddies who does not feed himself well and is tired at the end of a working day has commissioned me to make his meals 5 days a week. I make enough $$$ to cover my costs plus the ingredients for my own meals and he comes home to an easy ready to heat meal during the working week.  So far I have made breaded pork chops with mashed potatoes and a carrot/leek/celery side dish plus chili con carne with french stick and green side salad. He likes surprises and not too much heat so it will be be fun.

I am also starting back with my lovely quebecoises this Wednesday.  We are starting our time back with old fashioned folk and fairy tales ... with just a splash of feminist philosophy thrown in for good measure.

I have been off work for a full month now ... and it is time to replace the stars in my eyes with practical dollar signs ... while still having fun.

Off we go!

Monday, 3 January 2011

Putting On the Brakes

I read something this morning and thought about the brake pedals in my life.

Even though you may want to move forward in your life, you may have one foot on the brakes. In order to be free, we must learn how to let go. Release the hurt. Release the fear. Refuse to entertain your old pain.

The energy it takes to hang onto the past is holding you back from a new life. What is it you would let go of today?

(Mary Manin Morrissey Minister, Author and Speaker)

I lived with someone for seven years ... a good man ... independent ... healthy ... athletic ... but he had two hang-ups that determined how we lived together and ultimately why I left.

The first was about weight gain and activity levels. 

His wife had been a cute little thing when he met her in high school but after their marriage she became inactive, grossly obese, and slovenly.

Any time I was sick or had an accident that prevented me from keeping up, I could I feel an invisible whip coming down on my shoulders.  Once, biking in Eleuthera, I fell on loose gravel on a steep coral road and got a horrible gash in my knee.  Because it was a coral cut it took forever to heal, but I was not allowed to stop biking even for a moment.

If I gained a pound I was subjected to ridicule.

I realized that I could not grow older with him because I was not allowed to age normally.

The second was his fear of allowing a woman into his life, of allowing her to truly become his partner.
He was determined to keep himself free of any real entanglements so he put up barriers to prevent anyone from getting too close.  He made all the decisions.  We lived in his HIS house under HIS rules. 

I resented this and began to withdraw into myself.  I became as fiercely independent as he was.  And just as armoured.

And when I was finally strong and independent enough to leave him, I did

Funny ... I was drawn to the things that ultimately drove me away ... his independence and his active lifestyle.

Unfortunately I am still encased in that armour and I still worry that I cannot keep up or stay young so I am fearful that I will not be good enough when I meet someone who is independent and athletic.   

I wish I could erase the memories that make me put on the brakes when I meet someone at all like him.

Is there anything that causes you to put on the brakes before you become vulnerable?