Thursday, April 19, 2018

photos from our trip

The map of the second leg of our trip. From Fort Lauderdale to Princess Cay (a private beach resort), to Falmouth Jamacia, to Grand Cayman, and finally to Cozumel Mexico before heading back to Fort Lauderdale where we had a boat tour of the canals.


Grand Cayman tour to turtle farm and hell.


Cozumel Mexico: tour of Mayan ruins, drive along coast, tour chocolate factory


Around the ship on the sea day. We toured the stage area and performers dressing room. The guy was on of 4 main singers and had a terrific voice. It is obvious that there isn't much to do around the ship as he seems to spend lots of time in the gym - look at those 'guns'!

We met Mary and Chuck on the first day of this leg of the cruise. They are an interesting couple from Colorado that we hit it off with. Shared political views, and of course they were both IT people made for interesting conversations... We met up for a few dinners and lunches - we find the cruise is made more special when we meet nice people.


Fort Lauderdale - the overcast sky matched our gloom at heading home. Little did we know then what we'd be coming home to! The drive from hell and then 2 days without power quickly brought us back to reality.

So long Regal Princess.


Tuesday, April 17, 2018

a recap

Power is due on at 4pm this afternoon, but honestly we are in good shape for many days. We have wood for the fireplace, (which keeps the house toasty warm, especially in these just below freezing temps). We have lots of water for flushing as we collected gallons from the melting roof yesterday. We have lots of bottled water for drinking. We have a bathtub of clean water for dogs and dishes. We have a big water jug with more water for washing up.

I washed my hair with just a bowl of water.

The one thing we are missing is a way of cooking and making coffee. That will be remedied asap with a little butane burner. For now Carm is driving to the Tim Horton’s for the brown elixar and sundry other foods.

Our days at sea seem like a long time ago… the shock of going from being waited on hand and foot to the deprivation of power has ensured that we had no gentle transition.

I can barely even remember our last few days but I’ll try to remember bits, just for my own benefit.

Thursday was formal night (but I think I’ve covered that already). That was on our last port day: Cozumel, Mexico. I was full-on into a cold though and really didn’t feel like dressing up with stockings, etc., but I choked it up and got dressed anyway. I can’t remember what I ate for supper except that I had an extra entre of lobster tail! The people sitting at our table are just a blur - we met so many people over the 14 days that very few of them stand out.

We ate one night with John who we christened ‘Hat’ as he wore a cap at supper every night - and we thought that someone in his 80s should know better, along with his much younger wife Claire. One night it was 2 Canadian nurses, other nights: 3 Southern women with beautiful accents; a couple from Bowling Green, Rick and Carol - he was an insurance agent, she was quiet; Frankie and Herb from Texas - she was in the Voice of the Sea; Richard and Mary originall from New York city; Earl from Newfoundland; and many other people who have faded from my memory. It was a scrambler of dinner companions.

We met up with Chuck and Mary for supper again on Saturday. They are a fun couple from Colorado that we met in the piazza one afternoon. Our political views aligned, and they are also both from the IT world so we had lots in common. They are also dog lovers so could understand how much we were missing our pooches (and Grace).

On the sea day we slept in, ate breakfast, shopped, went on a tour of the theatre, had a 3 course lunch, had a rest in our cabin, listened to some classical music in the piazza, and then ate another 3 course supper.

I had so many fantastic meals that I can’t even remember much of what we ate… the highlight may have been the creme brule, or maybe the scallops, or maybe all the shrimp, or perhaps the beef. The lamb curry was good, as was the angel hair pasta wrapped in roasted eggplant. The veal stuffed ravioli in a cream sauce topped with melted cheese was delish. So much good food that I had to let out a belt buckle on my jeans, and my legs felt like sausages in the tight denim. The news on the scale this morning was not good - I managed to gain 5lbs, which I suppose is not bad considering all the eating :-0

Our next cruise is in Jan 2019 and we are already looking at one in the Med for Nov 2019 - we just need to talk our lovely pet sitter into agreeing to another 2 weeks.

Photos to come in another post tomorrow.

Monday, April 16, 2018

home sweet home

Home. Ice storm and power outages have welcomed us back. So long hot Caribbean sun, hello grey skies with falling ice.

We left the ship on Sunday at 8am, joining a land tour of Fort Lauderdale to kill some of the time to our 7:45 pm flight home. A tour guide narrated as we took a bus tour of part of the city. He took us to a tour boat that then traversed some of the areas 3000+ miles of canals. We sailed past homes that cost tens of millions of dollars, and some yachts that cost more. Wow. That is how the other half lives! Imagine paying 5 million for the house next door just to tear it down to put in a tennis court.

At the end of all that we ended up at the airport around 1 pm, lots of time to make our late flight.

We sat around in the pre-departure lounge till it was time to check-in. Hurry up through that process, to wait in the line for security (actually not a long wait). Hurry up to find a seat with a power outlet. Wait. Hurry up to find a seat closer to our gate. Wait. Hurry up to find a seat even closer. Wait. Flight delayed 1 ½ hours. Wait some more. Hurry up and get in the line to board. Wait. Board plane and get seated. Wait. Take off. Sit in seat for 3 ½ hours. Land. Hurrah!!! We made it to Ottawa (we had serious doubts that we’d get here). Hurry up to get off the plane. A bit more waiting. Get taxi. Drive over ice covered streets to my parents.

Actually, it was all well and good and mostly everything went as planned. I can hardly complain over the 12 hours when it would take us 30 hours to drive.

When we got to Mom & Dad’s, there was Mom outside in the ice, clearing our car. The ice was over ¼ inch thick and she had cleared off almost half of it. We were so grateful as it was late and we still had a dangerous drive home. I tried to get Carm to stay at my parents place but he was adament that we get home.

The drive home was trecherous. I don’t think we’ve ever driven roads as bad as they were last night. Sheets of ice covered the road. Carm took it easy (most of the trip was done well below 60 kmh, and a lot closer to 30), and we arrived home without incident.

As we turned into the laneway we both breathed a sigh of relief. We were home. The dogs were at the door to greet us, soon followed by Pat.

We got the suitcases into the house, talked for a bit with Pat and then collapsed into bed. But not before Carm walked into the door frame and split his forehead. Note to self: we need more bandages.

Our heads had barely hit the pillow when a chorus of beeping sent Carm into the living room. The UPSes were signaling a loss of power. Yes, you guessed it: power failure. I’m usually pretty miltant about getting water buckets and stuff set out, but I was too stunned last night to think about it…

Carm and Pat went out about 11:30 am to get coffee and lunch - I dozed on the sofa. I still have a cold (which is perhaps now worse after Sunday’s long day). After lunch I bundled up and started collecting water from the roof downspouts into a garbage can for toilet flushing and general washing. Luckily Pat had put some water in the bathtub so we have some clean water for dogs and dishes. I set up candles and lanterns for tonight, and only at 5pm did I sit down to write this blog post.

I think it will be a long night… oh, and thanks winter for the welcome home.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

to Hell in a hand basket

It wasn't actually a handbasket, but a small tourbus that brought us to Hell, Grand Cayman. There wasn't much more than a post office, gas station, and little souvineer store but we can say we've been to Hell.

Speaking of hell... I'm in my own personal one as I've come down with a cold... that's 4 cruises out of 4 that I've suffered. My immune system must be crappy. Is crusing for me? I might have to give it one more go. At least this time I packed cold meds.

Where was I? Oh yes, the Grand Cayman on Thursday. We took a tour that included a sea turtle farm, and I can't remember what else. It was formal night so even though I was starting to feel crappy I got dressed up again. It wouldn't have been so bad, but the shoes I have need stockings so I felt like an overstuffed sausage. My blingy necklace continues to attract compliments.

Yesterday we were in Cozumel, Mexico. Our tour went to a chocolate factory, Mayan ruins, and a quick stop at the Atlantic coast where the waves pounded the shore. It was intersting, but I felt like crap so didn't get much out of it. All I could think of was getting back to bed.

Today is a sea day. Carm brought me breakfast in bed and then he headed out to play some trivia. I lollygagged around, taking my time getting ready to face the day.

I thought of going back to bed to rest up for tomorrow's marathon day of getting home, but the theatre was having a tour and a meet and greet with some of the dancers and singers.

We had lunch with Mary & Chuck then headed to our room to pack for our long voyage HOME! I've had a fantastic time on this cruise, but am ready to see my pets and have a simple bowl of soup for supper - no more three or four course suppers till the next time. Some kind of fat-free vegan soup will be on our menu for many, many days/weeks/months...


Wednesday, April 11, 2018

another sea day and then to Jamacia

This is our fourth sea day so far (one more to go at the end of the week) and I'm pretty sure my travel pants will no longer fit. We've been eating and eating. Today we had lunch in the dining room: Thai Hot and Spicy soup, pasta carbonara, rice pudding. And that's just lunch. I'd already eaten breakfast: 1 small pancake, 1 egg, 2 slices bacon. And supper is still to come.

I think I wrote yesterday about the lovely beach. After posting my blog we drifted around the ship stopping to watch some music in a few places. Up on the deck for hip hop / Caribbean music, downstairs in the piazza for some steel drums. If you are adverse to loud music a cruise is not the place to be! Unless you want to hole up in your cabin.

We met some nice people for supper in the dining room, including two women from Canada. After supper we went to the theatre for a hilarious performance by a comedian, another Canadian. After the show we found chairs in the piazza to watch the dancing. It is all good fun.

Today we staked out some chairs by the pool and took turns getting our breakfast. The two chairs next to ours were already laden with towels and books, but the people didn't turn out for 2 1/2 hours... they  gave us heck for stealing chairs, but we pointed out that there were no towels on it, and anyway, it is against the rules to chair hog. This chair thing is very frustrating.

Supper was wonderful. We sat with another group of people, including one old guy who 'held forth' for much of the meal. He was a character... but it would have been nice to hear from a few of the other people :-/ At least he wasn't talking racist sh($.

It was formal night - Carm looked dashing in his suit and I looked okay in my grey dress. There were many more people dressed up than on our last cruise which had more young families.

The show was fantastic. We'd seen it last week and honestly, could watch it every week. We sat with Mary & Chuck, a couple from Colorado that we'd met the day before. We continued our conversation in Crooners after the show.


Well... all that above was yesterday. We got caught up in activities and I never did post it.

Today we woke up in Jamacia with the weather hot and sunny. I feel slightly guilty to be having such great weather when back home it is still winter. I'm just hoping that the cold weather is keeping the dogs from giving Pat trouble when she lets them outside!

We didn't have an excursion planned but got off the boat to wander around the dock area. Lots of souveenir shops full of junk and not much else. I did find another 'shift' to wear as a bathing suit cover-up and for lounging around our room. One isn't enough as it gets wet from the pool and isn't usable for the rest of the day, especially in our icy room.

After our sojourn outside we re-boarded the boat and headed to the pool. Lots of deck chairs today. We sat next to a lady who had just heard that her sister had passed away unexpectedly. I shed a few tears for her.

We had lunch at Alfredo's again - a delish pasta dish with veal ravioli and of course tiramaso for dessert.

My jeans are getting tighter...


Monday, April 9, 2018

Princess Cay again

We are enjoying another day at the beach in the Bahamas. Princess Cay is a private resort with sun, sea, and sand. We snagged a seat in the sun again (just barely), and spent a few hours swimming and relaxing on our loungers. And slathering ourselves with sunscreen. So far (touch wood), we haven't burnt ourselves which is no mean feat in the blazing sun.

Yesterday we were back in Fort Lauderdale, the end of the last 7 day cruise and the beginning of our last 7 days. Carm got up early and did a load of laundry, we went through customs, and then hung around the ship, moving from one entertainment area to the next.

They have a great show for sail away with the Princess dancers but with showers on the horizon they moved it to the inside Piazza. We were there a few minutes early and got seats right on the edge of the dance floor - we could have reached out and touched the dancers.

I did 27 flights of stairs yesterday.

With a new cruise came new people at dinner. Some of the ladies at our table had a deep south accent which was fun to listen to.

Politics... we've been avoiding the topic and certainly don't bring it up ourselves but there have been a few people who have something to say.

A few nights ago we had another formal night - I wore my blingy necklace and got lots of compliments. I've been dressing up for supper every night and I'll have to say that it is fun. It is such a big change from my usual jeans and tshirts, but the setting is perfect for dress-up.


Time for a nap to rest up for the rest of today's activities!


Friday, April 6, 2018

at sea again

Today is a sea day which is a day without a port stop and just the endless ocean around us. What it really is, is a day of moving from one eating event to the next...

We started with breakfast in the buffet. We seemed to have hit a busy time though as it was a zoo. We managed to find what we wanted (I usually have smoked salmon and some melon), but somehow some extras found their way onto my plate... burp.

After such piggery we decided to walk around before heading to our room where we lay like beached whales on the (comfortable) bed. Carm turned on MSNBC for some all Trump tv. I went for another walk. When I got back I saw on the schedule that there was a clearout sale down in the dining room. Carm joined me and we shopped, then walked. We sat in the piazza to listen to the piano player for a while, then the smell from Alfredos caught our attention.

In all our cruises so far we had never tried out this little Italian restaurant - today we changed that. The lunch was lovely and even included some mixed baby greens so I could feel virtuous (at least for a moment). We walked around some more then have come back to our cabin to watch some golf and so we could digest in prepareation for tonight's formal night in the dining room.

Next time I'll pack more elastic pants! And I'm wondering how I'll fit into my 'skinny' jeans for the trip home. I just may end up travelling in my bathing suit coverup :-/


Last night we ate at the Crown Grill, the ship's steakhouse. Oh my. Giant pieces of beef perfectly cooked. But first, I started with a fantastic prawn starter, and a 'black & blue' onion soup. Oh my, oh my.

The captain said it best when he said they treat dinner as an event. There is no rushing at the dining room (well not by us, the servers run their butts off). The tables are set with linen tablecloths, and silver flatwear shimmers on the white surface. The glasses are kept filled with ice water, and in fact I can hardly set a 1/2 filled glass down before it is filled again. There are always at least 3 courses, and if you choose a salad as well, 4. Thankfully the serving sizes are reasonable so we don't leave feeling totally gross and full.


After supper we attended another fantastic show. Princess is known for their entertainment and I'm not surprised, we've been to the theatre everynight and have not been disappointed. The shows are the highlight of our day.


Today we've avoided the pool, or at least I have. Carm went for a quick swim after his run this morning. He was the only one in the water, but even still, every single deck chair was already reserved with a towel, which is totally against the rules. When we walked past the pool on our way to breakfast the chairs were still mostly empty :-/

Oh well, it probably doesn't hurt to say out of the sun for a day, and luckily our balcony is on the shady side of the ship so we've been able to spend some time there.


Before I send this into the ether, I have to thank everyone for their lovely comments on my photo yesterday.


Thursday, April 5, 2018

our day in St. Martin

Carm was up bright and early to run on the track. I rolled over and went back to sleep... my legs are already rubber from stairs.

We had a nice dinner last night with the same people we ate with a few nights ago. Since it was a port day the dining room was fairly empty so we could have gone later, but we do like to make the 8pm show without having to rush. Carm and I both had a Pad Thai dish which was a bit disappointing - should have gone for the surf and turf but was feeling a little 'beefed' out (could that actually happen?)

After supper and the show (a pretty funny comedian), we changed shoes and went up to the Lido deck (that's the pool and buffet deck) where the Beatle Maniacs were playing. It was fun, energetic music. By 9:45 I was ready to chill on our balcony to watch our ship leave St. Thomas.

Lights twinkled on the houses perching up and down the hills, stars twinkled in the velvety sky. The air was warm and soft.

Today we woke up to blue skies again. We were already berthed in St. Martin/Marteen beside a smaller Holland America ship and the giant Allure of the Seas. We had a quick breakfast and then, slathered in sunscreen, walked off the ship into the town of Phillipsburg. We browsed the shops, sat in a few places for icy drinks, and then hot and sweaty walked back to the ship for a swim and a bit of quiet time (that's what I'm doing now).

One of the funny things we've seen are all these teenage girls taking selfies of themselves and each other in their bathing suits. I'm quite certain that if I were the mom I wouldn't want to see photos of my daughter plastered on the internet wearing the skimpiest of bathing suits. But I'm not young anymore so maybe I'm just jealous :-o

We have dinner reserved at the specialty dining room - a steak house that serves some of the best beef we've had (yes, more beef!!!!)



Photos from St. Thomas


Wednesday, April 4, 2018

first day at sea

I haven’t felt hungry for a few days, and I’ll have to say that I never imagined that I would miss that sensation. We move from breakfast to lunch to supper to bedtime snack… Not to complain though! I can barely think about the instant pot.

Yesterday was a sea day so we drifted from activity to activity, starting (of course) with breakfast. From there we attended a Cruise Critic meet and greet. The captain and all his senior staff were there to introduce themselves and answer questions. It was an intimate gathering with 30 or so people.

Pool time was next on the agenda… oh oh. I think all 800 kids that are on board were in the pool and all their parents were taking all the deck chairs. We cruised around and finally found a spot in the shade (we lucked out as the pool attendent had just removed towels from chairs that might have been saved by someone. We weren’t shy and jumped on the lounges. It was a pretty quick swim though - kids jumping in practically over my head drove me to dry land. We enjoyed our chairs for some good people watching.

I guess we drifted around the ship for the rest of the afternoon with a break for a nap. Then we headed to Crooners for an adult drink, thinking we’d take it to the piazza - NOT. The 800 kids had left the pool and were now gathered on the main floor of the piazza for crafts. Mayhem, that was best watched from the safety of the 3rd floor.

We sat with another group of people for supper, 8 at the table this time. Too many people for real conversation. Sometimes we are glad for that though as we’ve run across a few racist people - not our style.

It was dress-up night so we put on our finery and strutted around, me teetering in my silver heels. Carm looked dashing in his suit, and me, well, I was okay in my grey cocktail dress. I didn’t spill on myself, but I do have to remember not to order soup. The tremor in my hand had soup splashed all over the white linen tablecloth :-(  

The show was a big Dance production show and was up to Princess standards. It was very entertaining. The night before was Beatles Mania, another fantastic show.

We are having a good time, but we haven’t met anyone yet that we’ve really clicked with. Perhaps meeting Lana and Peter on our last cruise was a fluke and not the norm. We haven’t lost hope though!

Monday, April 2, 2018

anchors away


Princess Cays

Oh yeah! One of the best parts of cruising is the food. No cooking, no dishes, no cleanup for us. Instead we pull ourselves up to the table and place our order. Or if you don’t want to sit for 1 ½ hours you can visit the buffet with its miriad of choices.

Last night we sat with two older couples. It was intersting conversation about all the places they’d been and how many times they’d been around South America. One lady was in a band and a bit of a comedian.

I had a divine goat cheese souffle for a starter, then scallops with some vegetables for the main course. I can’t forget the strawberry thyme granatta between courses… desert was a simple creme carmel.

There will likely be ‘more of us’ by the time we roll off the ship.

Or maybe not. We’ll certainly have huge legs from walking up countless flights of stairs.

We hung around for sail away before supper. There was a band playing - it was really rocking up at the top of the ship, and not from waves.

After supper we hung around until it was time for the show to start. It was a production number called Sweet Soul Music and was very entertaining. The dancers were great and some of the singers, fantastic.

This morning we slept in and had a leisurely breakfast at the buffet. Then we slathered ourselves with sunscreen and crammed into our bathing suits for a trip to the beach. We were a little late getting going and I lamented that we’d never get loungers in the shade. Well, we were lucky and found two lonely chairs under the shade of a giant leafed tree. It was a good, deep shade. It wasn’t long before a group of ladies were hauling chairs to join us in the precious shadow. They were a fun bunch so we had a good time.

Twice we wet ourselves in the Carribean, bobbing in the coolish water and dragging our feet in the sugary sand. The water is a beautiful turquoise. Again, like last year, I wished I had a waterproof camera.

I bought a sarong from a little shop - it seemed like a great thing to wrap around myself when getting out of the shower or just lounging around the room. I’ll be able to use it at home too.

It’s 2pm now. We’ll hang around in the room for a bit, go for a walk around the ship, then dress up for supper. The show tonight is BeatleMania.

I miss all the pets, but they seem so far away - they barely exist in this strange dimension. I’m less stressed this trip, partially because I have FB messenger available and Pat is letting us know what is going on at home.

test

test with no photo


Sunday, April 1, 2018

hurry up and wait

Travelling is like stepping into another dimension. From the moment we loaded our suitcases into the car on Saturday morning it was a blur of hurry up and wait. It was clear that we’d left our home dimension and were now in an alternate dimension of hard seats, rushing, waiting, and discomfort. First line was to check our bag, then through the first level of security, then through security gates where I was chosen as the random passenger to step through the booth. Shuffle here, shuffle there, shuffle shuffle everywhere.

The flight was good but a little bumpy. For once I was glad to be a short person as we were crammed into narrow seats. The guy sitting next to me was well over 6’ and couldn’t stretch his legs out. The misery!!!

Once in Fort Lauderdale, we waited for an hour before the hotel shuttle showed up, and to make up for it the driver dropped Carm and another woman off at the giant wine store, while her husband and I were taken to the hotel. Wrangling 3 bags made me yearn for Carm’s bag to be a 4 wheeled model and not the old fashioned two wheel dragester. I managed though, but imagine that not one of the 100s of boy scouts in the hotel came to my rescue ;-)

The hotel was nice, but even though I was dirt tired, my brain would not slow down enough for me to sleep. I was unfortunately awake at 7am when the alarm went.

Now, we are in our stateroom, having gotten onto the ship at 11:30. We’ve walked around, had lunch in the dining room (medallions of beef tenderloin for me, salmon for Carm), had a swim, and are now waiting for muster. So far so good!

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

heating it up

My resolution to write everyday didn’t last long. Again, I have let the days slip by with nary a comment. They’ve been good days too. Although I will make a small complaint about the cardinal that is waking us up at 6:30 am… I feel exhausted and barely able to function. We’ve tried some things to scare it away but no luck so far.

The new stove got a workout on Saturday. Roast beef and yorkshire pudding on New Year's Eve is what triggered the purchase of our new stove, so it was with bated breath that I put the yorkshire batter into the oven. In at 400 for 20 minutes, then temp reduced to 350 for 10 or 15 more minutes and it was perfect! The roast beef turned out well too - instead of bringing it out at 142F, it was removed at 138F, covered, and left to rest while the yorkshire cooked. Oh my… swoon. I love pink prime rib!

Monday we dashed into the mall for me to change my nail polish, and then went to Jo Ellen and Don’s for a lovely bean soup.

Tuesday, Carm’s birthday, we went to Ikea for a lookie-loo, the accountant’s for pre tax meeting, the Works for a juicy burger, home for a rest, then over to Vashek & Marie’s for a birthday supper. All in all a wonderful day.

Today I’m doing some pre-final travel activities: charging the camera, clearing of the camera data card in anticipation of another set of Caribbean blue ocean photos, getting jackets arranged… Tomorrow I get a manicure so I’ll be protecting my nails from any bangs or nicks.

Spike has his DAP collar on - he’s been fairly quiet but that might just be the norm for a cloudy day.

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”
~Marcel Proust

Thursday, March 22, 2018

I want to taste and glory in each day

Another sunny day! And yesterday was nice too, although the temps haven’t made it much past 2C. It is trending up though. I wonder why we decided that April was the time to go away? These can be the most glorious days as the earth sheds its wintery shroud and slowly comes awake. Crocuses will soon be poking their noses through the sun warmed earth (assuming the snow eventually goes away - still lots on the ground).

The strange thing about spring though is it is the time when I am most likely to get depressed. I can’t figure out why. The sun is coming back, summer is around the corner, camping season is nearing - all this somehow overwhelms me.

Yesterday I spent a lovely afternoon toddling around the mall with my Mom. I tried on enough clothes to feel thoroughly sickened, we ate Cinnabuns to make us feel happy again, and had a great time. Mom is so much more fun to shop with than Carm! Especially for clothes…

My new black dress pants have had a trial run: first night curled on the sofa, second night supper with Jo Ellen and Don including some sofa curling, third day shopping. They do bag at the knee a little bit after all that abuse, but are supremely comfortable. Now I have to decide if I’ll bring them on our trip… I have everything already planned out and don’t really need another pair of black pants, but the ones I am bringing are palazzo pants (wide leg), and these have a more flattering narrow leg. I’m driving myself crazy… maybe I’ll decide when we weight the suitcase

:-0

You must all be pretty certain that I have gone ‘mad’ and perhaps you are right. I’m having a fair amount of anxiety about this trip and find that distracting myself with the small details helps to calm my mind. I sort of wonder if the vacation is worth it...

I wasn’t there to witness it, but apparently Spike was a tail hair away from catching a black squirrel. Luckily for Mr. Rodent who eats all the bird food, Spike did not continue the chase after he snuck under the fence. The puffy poodle almost triumphs!

“I want to taste and glory in each day, and never be afraid to experience pain; and never shut myself up in a numb core of nonfeeling, or stop questioning and criticizing life and take the easy way out. To learn and think: to think and live; to live and learn: this always, with new insight, new understanding, and new love.”
― Sylvia Plath

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

motoring around

Yesterday was a bright day, and with my trembling mood we decided to go for a drive (always the best medicine for me). We started off in the city at a big mall. First stop: try on pants and found two pair that are actually flattering and feel comfortable too. From there we did the circuit around the mall, with a few stops as we oohed and ahhed over various things. The second loop we decided to just zoom around, getting our steps for the day. It was a fun afternoon.

I had thought that I’d wear the new black pants on the plane, but looking up the flammability of rayon, I decided I’ll stick with less comfortable cotton jeans… cause you just never know. Of course I did my research when I was in bed, desperately trying to fall asleep - giant fail!  The awfulizing started and I didn’t get to sleep for hours :-(

From there we did some groceries -  it seems that we are always shopping for some sort of food as we eat it up as fast as I make it.

I clipped the dogs nails this afternoon and did a total hack job - it looked like a scene from Carrie. Kabira got off scott free, Bella had one nail nicked, but Spike? My poor wee pup had several nails slaughtered. Bloody footprints from multiple paws earned him time in his crate. I’ve only rarely barely nicked him and don’t know what went wrong for me to do such a bad job.

This afternoon we sped into the city to pick up a new motor for our Heat Recovery Ventilator (HRV). The old one has failed and since our house is so airtight it is important that we get it fixed asap.

Can you understand? Someone, somewhere, can you understand me a little, love me a little? For all my despair, for all my ideals, for all that - I love life. But it is hard, and I have so much - so very much to learn.”
~Sylvia Plath

Sunday, March 18, 2018

beautiful moments

Bright rays of sun are streaming into the living room, a refreshing change from many days of grey gloom. Unfortunately, icy winter weather is the price we are paying. A few days ago it was warm enough for the maple sap to start running, but now it is frozen in the veins of the giant conveyors of sugar.

Despite the number on the thermometer, the dark patches on the laneway continue to increase. Even today there is melting though the temperature hovers around -7C. The sun is strong.

The sky was cloud free yesterday too. I took a break from ‘housework’ to luxuriate in the bathtub. The sun was sparkling on the water, reflecting rainbows of brightness onto the wall. I could lie back and see the bright blue sky. The cardinal pecked at the window. It was the perfect setting for a few moments of mindfulness.

I’m trying to grab onto these beautiful moments as if they were a life raft. As so often happens this time of year, I am becoming weary. Physically tired yes, but it is more than that. It is a weariness of the spirit. The will to do things is weakening and thoughts of ‘I can’t be bothered’ enter my mind. I’ve been alert to these thoughts and shoo them away as quickly as possible. It isn’t really bad but I don’t want it to become worse so I push myself a bit harder and hope that I feel better soon.

All that housework yesterday was for a reason: Trudie and Leo came over for a simple meal of minestrone soup. It was going to be pasta fagioli (basically minestrone with pasta and with a fancy name), but as usual, I filled the pot so high that there was no room for the pasta. We now have another 3 containers of soup for the overflowing freezer. I can seriously take a break from cooking any day now!

Two weeks from today we will be getting onto the cruise ship. Spike will be depressed but I’m sure he’ll get over it.

You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.”
~Ray Bradbury

Friday, March 16, 2018

cardinal sin

Bang. Crash. Flutter… and on and on it went, starting at the crack of dawn and continuing through the day. Huh? A resplendent male cardinal has taken up residence in the tree outside our bedroom and is fighting with his reflection in the giant picture window. We’ve tried an outline of a predator bird, a life size photo of a person’s face, closing the blinds, but nothing has helped. I’ll have to start going to bed early if I’m going to be awake at 6:30 every morning :-(

Fur flew the other day when the poodles lost their heavy coats. Puffy poodles are now sleek hounds with only their heads puffy. Both dogs prance more now that they are cooler. Maybe they are just trying to stay warm, but they do seem perky.


Last night we had the annual birthday dinner at the Keg. It was early as Bruce & Carm’s birthday isn’t until March 27, but travel plans necessitated a change. Ummmm… large quantities of meat and unquious potato and those lovely little fried onions… errrrr… stomach ache all night. It was worth it though and we especially enjoyed the company.

I’ve been thinking about my writing lately and am not sure where I’m going with it. I no longer rush to put words down on the page: it often seems like more of a chore. Is it the fog in my brain? Or am I out of practice and have lost the discipline? There was a time that I’d do writing practice every day which consisted of 10 minutes of constant writing of whatever came into my head. I stopped doing that over a year ago.

I often don’t feel that I have anything to write about. I have become less mindful, moving through my day without noticing things. Writing was good for becoming more aware of what was going on around me. There was much that was good about writing a daily blog, even if only to detail the pleasures of the day.

I think I’ve talked myself into giving writing another go. I’ll try to rediscover the joy that I got from expressing myself.


Speaking of pleasures: Carm brought home some lovely orange yellow tulips that have been brightening up a corner of the kitchen. Their bright faces are like little suns in the murky indoor light (it hasn’t been sunny all that often lately, but wait, that’s not a pleasure!). With temperatures above zero the snow has been slowly melting. I love the feeling of my boot stepping into a pristine patch. The snow ‘gives’ under my foot in a most pleasing manner.

“We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.”
~Anaïs Nin


Thursday, March 8, 2018

plastic

It figures… after days of beautiful dry roads today it had to snow. Mom and I had made plans to spend some time together, maybe poking around the mall and getting some steps in, but since I am a giant chicken when it comes to driving, we have rescheduled. So now, I’m sitting on the sofa watching giant snowflakes swirling around.

It just goes to show how long it was since I last wrote… last time we had just had supper at Jo Ellen and Don’s, this time we had them here last night. Curried potato soup was on the menu again. I made it a bit spicy hot, but I guess everyone enjoyed it.

Sunday night we had Pat B., Trudie & Leo for supper. We had gnocchi with mushroom sauce which is one of Carm’s favorites. It has been a while since I made supper without the instant pot!

The days are still blending into one another as the winter carries on. I don’t know what I do with my time.

Well… all that above was yesterday! I got distracted from finishing by the arrival of my repaired tablet! We got the call that it was ready not long past noon, and Carm, being my hero, drove into town to pick it up. So I spent some of my evening setting it up, vainly trying to get it where it was before the crash.

I spent some more time today and I think it is mostly recovered. More things will show up missing as I go to do something, but for now my morning routine is taken care of. Database updates, and I think blog entries, are settled.

There were a few very sad moments as two (so far) apps didn’t recover, and I can’t find them on the app store. Of course these are two that I use multiple times a day :-(  I found stand-ins for them, but it remains to be seen if they do the job or are just irritating. Or maybe they’ll be better! Gotta keep an open mind.

This whole exercise has shown me that my brain lacks plasticity. Switching from tablet to tablet is hard, it is like learning something new all over again, and the learning process is sticky. It doesn’t come easily. I need to start doing some brain exercises to flex those learning muscles some more.

All of this aside… I had a lovely walk and cuppa tea with Christina this afternoon :-) A more pleasant challenge for my brain.

Friday, March 2, 2018

is it a skien?

There have been flocks of geese honking overhead and a gaggle has made ‘homestead’ their resting spot. Homestead is one of the little hills on our property and it got its name from… you guessed it… the foundation remains of the original homestead. The flooded creek winds its way around the base of the hill, making it an ideal spot to shelter and rest for the next leg of their trip.

Some red-wing blackbirds have been seen in the vicinity as well. Their cheerful song seems out of place with so much snow around. Speaking of snow, we’ve had a monster melt and the laneway is ICE FREE!!! Hurrah :-)

Yesterday we enjoyed a day of sunshine and warmth: I was even outside in a t-shirt to walk around the house. The snow has crystallized; the earth is now a giant snowcone, mostly unflavoured, but little spots of ‘lemon’ scattered about :-p

The weather is due to turn though which I guess is fine; we’ve had a lovely taste of spring, and best of all, the ice is gone.

We had a lovely supper with Jo Ellen and Don last night. We’ve been taking turns at each other’s houses which is nice, although honestly, I don’t mind being the cook!

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

lamentations

Yesterday I woke up in a roar. I was cranky and miserable, really not any fun to be around. It was pretty obvious my mood was shifting, or if I had been better at foreshadowing, perhaps a sign that something bad was about to happen.

Grumble, grumble. I tried to settle into some activities but couldn’t. Then I decided to download some photos off my camera so I could futz with them on my tablet. Get the cables, attach camera, flip switch. nothing. undo everything and try again. still no luck. reboot tablet and try again. dead. futz around for ages till my battery was getting low. Plugged it in at over 30% charge. check 15 minutes later. 25%... and so it went, draining and draining despite being connected to the charger. Quick backup of my database, then bite the bullet and set tablet back to factory - which basically removed EVERYTHING :-(

Now I was really miserable and had a reason for it.

Carm made some phone calls to find out where to take the tablet to be repaired and then like the wonderful husband that he is, today drove to the other side of the city to drop off the damaged goods.

In the meantime, I’ve recharged my old tablet and restored a few things. I guess I’ll survive.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

more freezing rain and dreariness

Another birthday, this time Kabira. She turns 12 today, a ripe old age for a big dog. She’s still got lots of get up and go in her and aside from some arthritis that is under control is not showing much sign of the passing of 12 years. I think she feels the cold even more than ever though so she wears a heavy fleece outfit almost all the time. Oh, and she’s become rather hard of hearing.

Mom called me yesterday to remind me that I had done a few things last week as I had mentioned in my blog that nothing much had happened. I had forgotten to mention that we celebrated a belated Norwegian Christmas Eve complete with lutefisk and tortillas standing in for the lefse. Carm and I had made a huge stack of lefse in December for our first attempt at this party, but it mysteriously disappeared in my parents house after we had to cancel. This time I got busy making a fudgy burnt sugar cake for Dad’s birthday. He seemed pleased, although I did whip away the leftovers to serve to guests we were having the next night (sorry Dad).

Friday, Trudie called to invite us over for supper so we braved the freezing rain to get over to their place which is around one kilometer away. It is nice to have friends that live so close! And to have a Subaru which handles well on the slippery roads.

Have I lamented about the ice yet today? The laneway is still a skating rink and basically impassable on foot. I haven’t gone outside for a month. This is by far the worst winter in my memory for ice. I’m sick of it.

Yesterday (Saturday), we drove into the city to shop for a top for me and to visit with Carm’s mom. After a bit of running from store to store I found the black sparkly sleeveless top that I was looking for. Just what I needed… more black clothes… my wardrobe for the cruise is predominantly black with a bit of dark blue. Wow. I really went for the Caribbean vibe (not).

After all the shopping and visiting was done we rushed home so I could get supper started. I had a recipe for black bean soup that I wanted to try, but after reading it over more carefully I thought the spices were written down wrong:  1 Tablespoon paprika, 2 Tablespoons chili powder and 2 Tablespoons cumin seemed right off the charts. I often use cumin but only 1 TEASPOON at a time. Plus the green pepper that we bought a few days ago mysteriously disappeared, so I made my adjustments and tasted. OMG! It was way too hot for Leo. I added a bunch more water in. Yuck, now it was hot and watery. Bother. Not much else I could do so I started it cooking, and got to work on a second soup. I whipped together a minestrone and set that up in the other instant pot. Whew.

Once the black bean soup was finished, I removed the lid and set it to simmer to get rid of some of the liquid. 45 minutes later it was thicker, and now we were eating really late. Oh well, the best laid plans and all of that…

Today there is ice on the windows and a heavy drizzle falling from the grey sky. A perfect day to cuddle on the couch with a movie to recover from the 3 days in a row of social activities.

Blah. I think I’ve mentioned recently about how well I’ve been doing… yesterday I felt a flutter… today I feel almost as grey as the miserable sky. I can’t settle into doing anything, yet I feel slightly restless. I’m hoping it is just a blip brought on by the endless days of gloomy skies. Nevertheless, I will do a few minutes on the treadmill and if the ice ever goes away I’ll get outside for a bit. I’ll watch my thoughts, nipping any negative self-talk in the bud.

Friday, February 23, 2018

a step out of time

We booked our summer/fall camping yesterday morning. We’ll do the same as last year: home during the summer, and away for the fall. I like to spend my birthday at the campground, and thanksgiving in the viletta has been a tradition since we got our first camper in 2007. Beautiful days in autumn are best enjoyed at the parks. Long walks in the crisp air (although sometimes it is wicked hot!) are a balm to the awareness that winter is around the corner.


My shoes arrived Tuesday and I love them… my feet? Not so much. But I think the discomfort is bearable. I’ve walked around the house to get a feel for them and even did two 1/4 mile walks on the treadmill and didn’t rip them off my feet in agony. So they are keepers (I think…).


One (and I include myself in that number), may wonder why I’d suffer so miserably in a pair of shoes. It certainly isn’t logical, but it is fun to dress up like a girl every now and then, and the cruise is the perfect time to do it. No gravel laneways to rip at the heel, and actual places to go. Walking down to supper with some people watching on the way, dressed in something other than shorts and a t-shirt (which aren’t allowed in the dining room anyway), is fun and a very different experience than being home. It’s all about a change in scenery!


I have never been one to dress up unless absolutely necessary (weddings, funerals come to mind), but I did find it fun on the ship. I think it helps that I’m not in a never ending depression that saps the will to go out, let alone put some makeup on. It used to be that getting out the door was a huge accomplishment and if I had to spruce up more than a shower and comb through my hair I might not make it out the door. I hadn’t given it much thought, but I AM feeling much better these days and rarely have more than a week or two of black dog.


Last night we visited with Jo Ellen and Don and since Don has an Irish background I tried out the Irish Cabbage and Potato Soup recipe that I’d found. Vegan and totally delish.


Life is good, even if the shoes pinch a bit ;-)


Tuesday, February 20, 2018

resistance

Despite the fact that the clouds and ground were meeting in some invisible line, and that a light drizzle fell from said sky, we ventured out in the car. Liquidation was our first stop - Carm came out with a dress shirt to wear with his suit, I came out empty handed (which is pretty darn rare).

We belted ourselves back into the car and drove 20 miles to the FreshCo (grocery store) & Bulk Barn. I picked up the ingredients for tomorrow night’s soup.

After our shopping was done we stood in the parking lot trying to talk ourselves out of a burger at the Works. I was starving - just a banana smoothie for breakfast and it was 3pm already. Carm had more will so instead of turning left out of the parking lot we turned right, towards home.

We’ll have roasted asparagus with sweet potato fries, and maybe a garlic sauce, for our supper tonight - healthy and low calorie. Actifry to the rescue again.

I took another chance with online shoe shopping - I’m checking the mailbox with crossed fingers. Luckily returns are easy… but lets hope unnecessary!

Oh, and the ice… it is back… the laneway is a sheet of ice covered with a glaze of water. There is nothing more slippery than ice & water. Blech.

The ninety-nine cent price of a fast-food hamburger simply doesn't take account of that meal's true cost--to soil, oil, public health, the public purse, etc., costs which are never charged directly to the consumer but, indirectly and invisibly, to the taxpayer (in the form of subsidies), the health care system (in the form of food-borne illnesses and obesity), and the environment (in the form of pollution), not to mention the welfare of the workers in the feedlot and the slaughterhouse and the welfare of the animals themselves.”
― Michael Pollan

Monday, February 19, 2018

candlelight dinners

I’ve never had much luck with pot roasts - I’ve always cooked them in the slow cooker and they end up dry and stringy, perhaps they were cooked for too long. Last Sunday I tried a blade roast in the instant pot. I looked up a bunch of recipes and settled for one with what looked like lots of flavour, but instead of following the suggested 45 minutes of cook time, I reduced it to 40. Well. It turned out beautifully - I could hardly wait till the next night when we got to have the leftovers.


We had Pat, Trudie & Leo for supper last Sunday and this Sunday - maybe we’ll make it a tradition of Sunday suppers - there was lots of laughter and a few arguments (all in good fun!). The line up of instant pots and crockpots on the counter was quite a sight. Last night was just an instant pot and the actifry.


Spike wore his DAP bandana to supper both nights, and I believe he did better each time. Pat gave him a good cuddle and he seemed okay with that.


Nothing much else has gone on here… just the intermindible winter that goes on and on…


… I wrote the part above a week ago, but then set it aside and forgot about it. I’ve gone back and edited it with some more recent events but the tense and what not might be off.


The weather has shifted and now we are having spring like days with sun and melting snow. I clipped the dogs nails outside this morning in just a t-shirt - no coat required. Such a lovely change from the -40C wind chill we’ve had so much of.


Carm and I are both enjoying hosting our ‘candlelight dinners’ (ever watch ‘Keeping Up Appearances’ with Hyacinth?). I think these frequent social interludes are helping the winter to pass by with no visits of the black dog yet. My fingers are crossed that the only black dog to cross my path is Bella.


I’d better end it here, but Spike wants to say a word:


“Hi. I wanted to tell you that it is my birthday and that I’m 10 now. I thought birthdays were supposed to be lots of fun, but Laura clipped my nails today and even made one of them bleed. I had to spend a long time in my crate, but Laura gave me something special to chew so I guess it wasn’t too bad.  Then Carm got out the table that I have to stand on when I get a haircut so I knew my birthday was going to be even worse. Luckily Laura just gave me a hair cut on my face and my belly. She did my tail and bum too but that’s too embarrassing to tell. The rest of my hair is really long and everyone says how cute and fluffy I am. I guess that’s okay, but I’d rather they just left me alone sometimes. I don’t like people cooing all over me.


Maybe Laura did all these things cause something special is going to happen so I better rest up just in case.


I should tell you about the bandana that Laura puts around my neck when some company comes over. It smells really nice and makes me feel less worried that Laura is going away when Pat comes over. I don’t know though, she’s got a bag on the floor of the extra bedroom full of her and Carm’s clothes. Why is she doing that? Are they both going away? Don’t tell Laura this, but I get pretty upset when she goes away and I worry that she might never come home, I miss her so much.”



Friday, February 9, 2018

a cobblers miracle

Miracles do happen and one happened here today. If you’ve followed my blog for any length of time you’ve read of my troubles with getting shoes that fit and that don’t hurt my feet. Well, a tendril of madness was present the other day when I saw this cute pair of silver shoes online… I crossed my fingers and pressed ‘order’. It was with excited trepidation that I tore open the box today - would they or wouldn’t they? They slid right onto my feet and it was instant comfort!!!! I walked around the house a bit, tried them with a light sock, got on the treadmill for ¼ mile and SMILED. Hurrah!

Snow. White. Colourless. Or is it? I strode along on the treadmill, staring out the window at the endless white. The earth seemed blank and boring. Later, outside, I crouched down to admire the perfection of the individual flakes; a cloud shifted in the sky and the sun was suddenly bright upon me, and there, locked in the flake was a rainbow. I imagined that if the sun was able to shine on each flake of snow just right, the field would be an amazing sight.

The instant pot and actifry have had a short break over the last week: supper at Trudie’s on Sunday, and then supper at Jo Ellen’s on Thursday.

Speaking of snow… we’ve had more and more… no worries about the ice anymore.

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”
~Albert Einstein


Friday, February 2, 2018

my genes

There has finally been a bit of snow to cover the ice. Oh, it is still there as evidenced by the odd slip, but it’s mostly obscured. I can actually walk outside. Hip hip hurrah!  I did try walking in the field but with the ice just thick enough to carry my weight for a split second, it was more of a crashing lurch, so I only went as far as I needed to get the naughty dogs where were suddenly deaf.

Jo Ellen and Don were guinea pigs for another new recipe last night. The curried potato soup was a clear winner. I was glad that I did a double recipe cause now I have 3 containers in the deep freeze garage. That means no cooking for a few nights, which may or may not be a good thing - I’m in the mood to cook!

I’ve been making an effort to be more active and to at least get on the treadmill most days. I stepped on today but barely made it 10 minutes before I was too exhausted to continue. Geesh. It is like a step back in time to last summer when I could barely take two steps before collapsing. I hope it is just from the late night last night…

Our days (especially mine) have been slow and uneventful except for the bright spots of supper company. I don’t mind. Carm and I were prepping supper yesterday afternoon and it felt so comfortable, content, easy. I think my Norwegian genes have set me up for long quiet winters with not much excitement and nowhere much to go.  This year I’ve stopped fighting it with other expectations of myself, and instead am taking pleasure in the somnolence. The odd bit of cooking with the associated company has also buoyed my spirits.

“Every winter,
When the great sun has turned his face away,
The earth goes down into the vale of grief,
And fasts, and weeps, and shrouds herself in sables,
Leaving her wedding-garlands to decay—
Then leaps in spring to his returning kisses…”
~Charles Kingsley, Junior

Monday, January 29, 2018

a heartbeat at my feet

Ice. Ice. Ice. We are living in a world of ice and I’m sick of it. The laneway is impassable to all except our trusty Subaru. Our visitors last night slipped and slid into their parking spaces and needed a few shoves to get them on their way again at the end of the night. I won’t walk outside. I get in the car for a drive to the gate when we go anywhere, and even then slide all over the place when I open the gate.

It is ridiculous. The field is covered in a thick glaze. We could probably skate on it.

So life carries on inside the house. I’ve still got the cooking bug and made a ginger lime carrot soup that came partly from a recipe online and partly from my head. I’ll write it down in ChefTap so that I can recreate it. We had company and everyone had seconds.

I’ve probably mentioned Spikes anxiety over Pat’s visits. He has a good memory and we are pretty sure he associates her with me leaving. He tries to hide and shakes like a leaf when she comes over. Poor Pat - I hope she doesn’t take it personally. His anxiety triggers my anxiety and when we are away I am worried sick about him - scared he’d run away or something - obviously nothing happened, but I can’t help but worry.

So after we got home I knew I had to find a solution otherwise there is no point on me going away. I investigated drugs (there might be one that works), I tried a herbal concoction called Rescue Remedy - it had helped him relax in the truck on our trip west a few years ago - but it didn’t work. Then I remembered someone talking about D.A.P. collars/sprays a few years ago. I did some research -thank goodness for Google! DAP stands for Dog Appeasing Pheromone which is the hormone released by a nursing dog to keep her puppies calm. It seemed worth trying. A local trainer carried a few items so I met with Michelle yesterday and got a spray and a collar.

Pat was coming to supper so it was the perfect time for the first trial. I followed the instructions for the spray (I’ll leave the collar sealed until our trip) and tied the spritzed bandana around Spikes neck a few minutes before Pat’s arrival.

He didn’t exactly run to the door to greet her, but he didn’t hide and stayed on ‘his’ loveseat for a while. He wasn’t shaking and didn’t have his tail tucked. He was noticeably better - he only hid in the pantry a few times and could be lured out with a treat, which he actually ate. He even did a few tricks which wouldn’t have happened before. Others noticed a difference too, so it wasn’t just me.

I have hope that with exposure he’ll come to love Pat as much as the other dogs do, and maybe not worry so much about us leaving.

My little dog - a heartbeat at my feet.” ~Edith Wharton

Thursday, January 25, 2018

freezing rain again

We had freezing rain Monday night into Tuesday. Spike had to go out in the middle of the night and I could see him slip sliding as he made his way across the snow. Tricky to do business when your feet don’t stay underneath you! Luckily it had changed to rain by mid morning and the roads were clear by early afternoon.

The temperatures dropped again and now our laneway is a treacherous skating rink and I am reluctant to stick my nose out the door. I did eventually work up the nerve and strapped on my ‘icers’ so I could (gingerly) walk down the laneway… once... Sheer ice.

I’ve been in a cooking mood lately and have been trying some new recipes. Two Sundays ago when Pat was over I tried a ‘creamy wild rice soup’ which was good, but I don’t think it was good enough to waste a cup of wild rice over.

This past Sunday (Pat was over again), I made a lentil mushroom shepherds pie and I’ll have to say that it was fantastic. It got an easy 5/5 stars from all of us. I wasn’t sure if I’d like it as lentils are not my favorite, but the seasoning was bang on so it wasn’t ‘lentily’ at all.

Tuesday night I made up an onion mushroom soup. Again, 5/5. It took a lot of cooking time in the IP but since it was all unattended it was no big deal. I often throw together a bunch of ingredients together and usually forget how much of everything I used, so lately I’ve been either updating the recipe with my changes, or adding new recipe to the database. I use an app called Cheftap on my tablet/phone/pc that imports recipes from the internet with just a press of the button. Then I can categorize and edit the recipe. There is an export feature to take a backup, and since it is in the cloud I can access from all my devices. How cool is that!

We had Jo Ellen and Don over last night to celebrate them booking the Panama cruise with us. We are now a group of 8, including Andy & Edna, as well as Jo Ellen’s cousin Kathy & Neil. We are excited :-)

We have all our bookings, including air and hotel, for another Caribbean cruise the beginning of April. We may have lost our minds a bit (especially Carm, this was pretty much his idea). I told Spike but I don’t think he understood… I may use a DAP collar for him as these supposedly alleviate anxiety - does anyone have any experience with them? I may need one for myself :-0

It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.”
~Ursula K. Le Guin

Saturday, January 20, 2018

bling and lots of it

It wasn’t snowing yesterday (which means the roads were clear and almost dry), and it wasn’t -30C, so we decided to venture out to Winchester, a nearby town with a few shops. I was interested in clothing stores which is somewhat out of character for me. We have another cruise in our future and since we plan on eating in the dining room instead of the buffet, I want a few nicer outfits.


Yes, I said it… outfit. I don’t think I’ve ever used this word to refer to myself, Kabira is the only one in this house that has an outfit. There is something so, well, I don’t know, maybe middle aged about the term. Certainly it isn’t a term to be used for the jeans and t-shirts that I normally wear. But I’m going to expand my wardrobe for this cruise and dress up a bit.


Which brings us to shopping. Our first stop was at a place called CJam - it had an eclectic collection of clothes and a charming owner to help us, so I picked out a few things to try and disappeared into the change room. Not much of it fit very well, or just looked stupid on me, but I did find a dark navy sleeveless top that fit perfectly, no small feat as I rarely have luck with sleeveless. I also scored a simple black camisole to be worn under a scarf thing that I bought on the last cruise.


But on a shelf along a wall flashed a necklace that kept drawing my eye… it was a huge statement piece with tons of bling. It is over-the-top fancy. I tried it on… we negotiated with the owner… and it was packed into a bag with the two tops. I was thrilled. I love bling.


I wore it around the house last night and marvelled at the way it caught every flicker of light. I can’t wait to wear it somewhere, but aside from the cruise (where it will fit right in), I’m not sure where.



Friday, January 19, 2018

black slash

The alarm went off before the sky was fully light, actually it never did get bright out as there was a thick cloud cover all day. Well, back to getting up… the stove was coming between 8am and 12, so we had to get at it and get the old stove out of the way and cleaned up, and the spot wiped clean of years of cobwebs and other yucky things. I guess we aren’t good housekeepers as we don’t drag the stove out very often.


After some scrubbing all there was left to do was wait for the delivery. Happily, at 9am the truck rolled down the laneway. The delivery guys had the stove in and the old stove into the garage within 10 minutes - these guys were efficient.


Once we let the stove come to room temp Carm got in place to plug it in. Nope, nada, not going to happen. The plug orientation had the cord coming out at the bottom and there was no way there was room for the thick cord. The breaker was already flipped to turn the power off, so we got a screwdriver and got to work. Carm was able to rotate the outlet 90 degrees so that the cord would be in the right orientation - it took a few tries to figure out how to do it, but eventually the stove was plugged in.


The huge black cooking service, and the huge black glass door, are like a huge black swath in my all-white kitchen. The stainless parts are minimal and therefore don’t look too bad. It’s the black that catches my eye. I can’t say that I was overjoyed. Oh, and that black and stainless: impossible to keep clean, showing every fingerprint and smudge.

And then it was time to fit in the stuff from the bottom drawer… you know, the cookie sheets, baking pans, muffin tins… not happening… at least not all of it… the drawer was ½ the size. Now I had to find room for the rest so emptied a spot in another cupboard and tried to find a place for THAT stuff… the ripple effect.

After an hour of ‘break-in’ time (run oven at 400f), I put in a batch of shortbread cookies and was pleased when they came out perfectly.


So what next? I decided that, even though we rarely cook meat, I wanted a roast of something so we trundled out to the grocery store. A pack of pork tenderloin had our name on it.  I searched the internet for cooking instructions and finally settled on a method. In at 375 for 30 minutes, but since I was cooking at the convection roast setting I backed the time to 25 min. It was perfect.

The top of the stove wasn’t so perfect: I had browned the meat before putting it in the oven and the black stovetop was spattered with oil… oh yuck. I suppose my old stovetop would have been the same, but I don’t think it would have required a special cleaner to make it streak free again.


Tonight I might make biscuits. Any suggestions of other oven dishes that I can try out?


“Cooking is at once child's play and adult joy. And cooking done with care is an act of love.”
~Craig Claiborne


Monday, January 15, 2018

dirge music

Her stories are like Leonard Cohen’s songs, beautiful prose about depressing topics. Dirge music. Dirge stories. I can’t do a marathon read of Alice Munro. Her stories are about the poor and downtrodden, those without much hope or beauty in their lives. The settings are often depressing and hardscrable: shacks, scruby old farms and dingy homes in poor towns. Their struggles are depressing and the outcomes rarely uplifting. The topics are raw and gritty, impossible to put down, but difficult to start again. Her brilliance with the written word has me turning the pages again.

So, like my Leonard Cohen albums (which I can only listen to for a while), her stories are ones to be read and savored, but not for too long.


Surely everyone is aware of the divine pleasures which attend a wintry fireside; candles at four o'clock, warm hearthrugs, tea, a fair tea-maker, shutters closed, curtains flowing in ample draperies to the floor, whilst the wind and rain are raging audibly without.”
~Thomas de Quincey

Sunday, January 14, 2018

swarovski crystals

It is sunny today and that is a blessing. Of course with the sun comes wicked cold, but that’s okay cause I’m toasty and warm in a sun spot.

The trees outside are glinting in the sun, the ice on their limbs like the swarovski crystals on the bracelet my Mom gave me for my birthday: Nature’s inspiration.

I’ve been getting on the treadmill most days but skipped yesterday. Instead I froze my butt off shoveling over a foot of snow from the back deck. I was out for around an hour, although I did have to deek into the house to warm up and find some long johns… luckily I had bought these awesome merino wool blend tights that did the trick. I didn’t take them off for the rest of the day as they were so silky. They were from Liquidation or Costco last winter - I wonder if they still have them, and if they do will they also have a top? A head to toe outfit would bring joy.

I don’t know if he’s keeping track, but Carm has been out with the snowblower countless times this winter. I should ask him: which is worse? snowblowing or lawnmowing? We are blessed that he is still fit enough to do both (or at least I am!).  (just checked - lawn mowing is worse because of the heat)

“Melancholy were the sounds on a winter's night.”
~Virginia Woolf

Friday, January 12, 2018

curtains of fog

Curtains of fog drift across the field blurring the trees along the road. Occasionally a puff of wind clears the fog for a moment but it soon returns. A steady rain (freezing rain maybe?) starts, beating the curtain down and I am left with an even more dismal view. Will it seem better when the rain changes to snow? Or will I feel more trapped inside.

But honestly, it’s all okay. I have a few lights on which give a nice glow, a pot of soup simmers in the instant pot (vegetable again), some old music is playing. It is warm and cosy and better yet I have nowhere to go in this soup. Carm is out visiting his mother, but should be home before the rain turns to snow. We’ll light a fire to further banish the gloom.

But day after day has been grey here and it is starting to affect my thinking, or at least I think it is. I don’t feel depressed, just meh, slow as if I’m entering a hibernation. And maybe I am, maybe that’s what I do in the winter and instead of accepting it, I rail and beat myself up over my lack of motivation. Maybe I’m quite comfortable to be all slow and sluggish, cuddled under a warm blanket, happy in a subdued way, or if not happy, at least content. But no, I feel that I should be, must be, doing things and since I don’t get going I call myself a failure and my mood takes a nose dive.

So what does all this mean? I think I’ll just go with the flow and see how it goes. I’ll be more accepting, taking the slow days as they are and enjoy the energetic days when they come. I’ll try inviting people for supper - it makes me feel cosy to cook a simple warm meal and then sink into sofas for more conversation. Going in the car doesn’t inspire me, especially if the weather is bad, but on a nice day a car ride is a nice distraction. Reading during the day is a special treat. I’ll try luring myself onto the treadmill with the promise of ‘just 10 minutes’ - that sometimes morphs to 20 minutes (and today 25 min!) - I can feel satisfied with that. I’ll find little tasks to give me a sense of accomplishment.

Then maybe I’ll get through the winter without the black dog.

And maybe, just maybe I’ll get something done in the house.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

new friends

The frost fairies got into my body powder last night and dusted the trees outside. It sparkles in the sun and with the pale blue sky it looks like a piece of art done with pastels. I actually ventured outside for more than a minute to enjoy the wonder.

Last night we met some new neighbors: Shane & Inge came over for a visit after supper so that we could meet and discuss the possibility of Shane dropping in mid-day to let the dogs out if Pat is skiing while looking after the beasts. We had a delightful time and hope to see them again soon.

The dogs took a shine to them, Spike even did some of his tricks. I think it helped that Shane & Inga didn’t hug or try to hold them, just simple pets and scratches won them over. I don’t think it is uncommon but my dogs do not like to be hugged, even by me. Their old dog, who recently passed over Rainbow bridge, didn’t care for hugging either.

My pleasures today: taking a container of soup and dumping it into the instant pot switched to the low slow cook function so that it would be ready for lunch; didn’t require any attention so I was able to get on the treadmill, which brings me to my next pleasure: snow in the field sparkled in the bright sun. The up and down motion of my steps made the stars twinkle. So pretty and motivating. If only I could bottle up the feeling.

“Nature is full of genius, full of the divinity; so that not a snowflake escapes its fashioning hand.”

~Henry David Thoreau

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

a cure for all ills

A swing of 40C (counting the wind chill) has brought us up to 0C today. A pleasant break from the deep freeze, but I hope and pray that the forecast rain skirts us…

We got our hair cut yesterday, but the poodles will wait a month or two until it is consistently warmer - often we all get sheared on the same day… which reminds me, it is time to do their faces - their most dreaded day.

We were desperate to get out again today so we braved the mostly just wet roads and went to Liquidation, just to look around… Well, I don’t think I’ve ever come out of there with empty hands and today was no different. One of my finds is a shawl type thing that will be perfect for travelling. It slings over the shoulder and is easily opened for those hot flash moments. No more struggling with getting into and out of a sweater on the plane. We also picked up a few other odds and ends including a few things for gifts. So much for looking around :-o

Before we left on our sojourn I got a soup cooking in the instant pot. The beauty of the IP meant that I could set it and then leave. Today's soup had garlic, onion, celery, carrot, green beans, dried peas & romano beans, a can of diced tomatoes, chicken broth, 1 tsp smoked paprika, 2 tsp Italian seasoning, 1 tsp garlic powder, and of course 3 hot peppers. Ummm… it was good and made me think that maybe I need to go on a ‘soup’ diet where all I eat for a week is soup. I’d surely lose this cruise/Christmas weight quickly. Maybe next week.

The grocery store had pork loin roasts on sale for $2 and I’ll have to say I was mighty tempted to eschew our vegan diet for a hunk of meat. They were huge and could easily be cut into a few roasts - I’d love to try cooking one in the instant pot, and maybe one in our soon to be new stove (Jan 18th). But Carm was there as my good sense leprechaun so I walked away. At $2 it isn’t even too expensive for the dogs to have some as a treat.

“The lore has not died out of the world, and you will still find people who believe that soup will cure any hurt or illness and is no bad thing to have for the funeral either.”
~John Steinbeck

Saturday, January 6, 2018

too cold

Minus 40… yes -40… and today was the day to line up outside to get the dog’s meat. The air was so cold it hurt and the wind whipped it into every crevice of my coat and pants. Luckily the meat guy was on time so the wait wasn't too long. We were glad when we had the 280lbs of frozen meat tucked into the car.

It is time for this cold snap to end, although who’s to say that the freezing rain we got at the beginning of January the previous two years is any better. We’ve had a vivid reminder of what ice can bring - the news has been bringing flashbacks to 1998’s (that’s 20 years ago now) ice storm when we were out of power for 9 long days. So maybe the cold is okay, for us anyway.

Aside from a quick run into Costco for some groceries we came straight home, the feeling of warmth and safety of home like a salve for frozen fingers. I quickly got to work and got a pot of soup into the instant pot for a hot lunch. It’s a lentil soup so it takes a bit longer to cook (I like the lentils to break down into a thick broth), but it should be done in less than an hour. Three hot peppers will make sure it warms us.

Tomato lentil soup: dice 1 large onion, a few cloves of garlic, 3 little hot red peppers. Saute until soft. Add 1 tsp of cumin and stir for a minute. Add 1 can diced tomatoes, 1 ¼ cups rinsed lentils, 4 cups of chicken broth, enough water to bring the level to just over 6 cups. Cover and set IP to manual for 25 min, NR, whir up with immersion blender. Couldn’t be easier! I made the same recipe a few days ago and when I asked Carm what kind to make today he said the exact same soup. I’m writing it down here cause I’m sure to forget it.

p.s. the soup turned out great

“It's too cold outside for angels to fly.”
~Ed Sheeran

Thursday, January 4, 2018

white

It was a grey day yesterday, but warmer than it had been for the last week, and no snow (to speak of) falling from the sky, so we decided to drive into the city to look for stoves. I’d been putting this off for perhaps a few years, but after the New Year’s Eve fiasco we decided it was time.

My current appliances are white; my kitchen cabinets are white; I wanted white. Have you been appliance shopping in the last few years? No white, all stainless :-( Stainless and black. Not white. Oh sure, there were a few basic stoves in white, but they weren’t convection and that was a must have. So, I settled on a mid-range range in stainless. Passed over the higher-range stainless which had some nice features but was mega expensive (could that have been the right one despite the expense?) I am underwhelmed and underexcited.

The earth is all white outside my window… the sky is white… everything is white except the freaking stove. I think I’m overthinking this and worrying too much about matching and how it looks.

As I walked around the showroom I couldn’t help but notice the fingerprints and smears that were so visible on the ss. Carm said he’d look after it.

I unearthed my copy of Alice Munro’s ‘My Best Stories’ from the bookshelf and have treated myself to one short story already. Even though I’ve read it before, maybe even multiple times, her turn of phrase continues to astound. In one paragraph she’s talking about murder…

“Does the thing have to be carried through, in the end, partly for the effect, to prove to the audience of one - who won’t be able to report, only register, the lesson - that such a thing can happen…”

The victim can’t report, but will register, seems to give the victim a voice, even in death. I love the way with words she has.

I’m a slow reader though as I savour and try to absorb each word, phrase and sentence. I study the punctuation and note that even dreaded comma splices are put to work. Semi colons, commas, and periods move then slow then speed the story along, creating a rhythm that adds a depth to her words.

The birds have finally found our bird feeder and none too soon as the temps are forecast to drop into the deep freeze range again. This morning the bright red feathers of the cardinal contrasted with the blue jay’s plumage. Christmas ornaments on the tree.

The problem, often not discovered until late in life, is that when you look for things in life like love, meaning, motivation, it implies they are sitting behind a tree or under a rock. The most successful people in life recognize, that in life they create their own love, they manufacture their own meaning, they generate their own motivation. For me, I am driven by two main philosophies, know more today about the world than I knew yesterday. And lessen the suffering of others. You'd be surprised how far that gets you.”
~Neil deGrasse Tyson