Thursday, February 27, 2014

Observations at 6:00am.....

Weird and wonderful things happen to morning people. I know that even weirder and dare I say more wonderful things happen to night people too, but since I've never been one, I wouldn't know. However, as an insomniac, I have been known to peer out of windows at 3:00am and I have seen you out there walking the streets, at night, alone, why? - go home and sleep. Then you can get up with me at 6:00am :)

I take some routine medication in the morning and can't eat or have tea or coffee for an hour. That means that I sit in a semi-somnolent state waiting for the hour to pass. Not wishing to waste all that time this morning  - there are other mornings when I have wasted much more - I decided to write a blog for my business. This blog, Infiknit News, gets short shrift, often, so I knew that I had to write something soon and since "sock monkeys" were screaming at me from the cosmos, I thought "Why Not."

OK, I know that not everyone has a screaming sock monkey. But I work in a creative field. I used to take a more creative part in this field, when I designed lace knitting patterns, however, now I just distribute the tools to create unbelievable knitted art!! I do plan to do some more creative work a little later, but right now I am just catching up on what I have missed over the last 20 years or so - this could take a while!! Here's the post, The Return of the Sock Monkey.

Just a short post today. I decided to spare you fragments of my dreams from the night before. Winter dreams are not all snowflakes and warm fires. The other night I had one about Popsicles that didn't melt - this winter is starting to creep me out!!

The picture? A sock monkey from the Mendel Art Gallery in Saskatchewan.

Have a creative day!!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

I Ask You

I am looking outside at bare tree branches - again. They are still taupe against a pale grey sky; nothing has changed in months. I am tempted to feel sad. No, I mustn't give in to sadness. I ease back a little from the melancholy and think again. I realize that I haven't read Billy Collins in a while. He usually dispels the gloom. A google search brought me to and this poem.

I Ask You

What scene would I want to be enveloped in
more than this one,
an ordinary night at the kitchen table,
floral wallpaper pressing in,
white cabinets full of glass,
the telephone silent,
a pen tilted back in my hand?

It gives me time to think
about all that is going on outside--
leaves gathering in corners,
lichen greening the high grey rocks,
while over the dunes the world sails on,
huge, ocean-going, history bubbling in its wake.

But beyond this table
there is nothing that I need,
not even a job that would allow me to row to work,
or a coffee-colored Aston Martin DB4
with cracked green leather seats.

No, it's all here,
the clear ovals of a glass of water,
a small crate of oranges, a book on Stalin,
not to mention the odd snarling fish
in a frame on the wall,
and the way these three candles--
each a different height--
are singing in perfect harmony.

So forgive me
if I lower my head now and listen
to the short bass candle as he takes a solo
while my heart
thrums under my shirt--
frog at the edge of a pond--
and my thoughts fly off to a province
made of one enormous sky
and about a million empty branches. 

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Corn Flakes and Beer

OK it's 7:00am Sunday morning and the bars are open. This is not Mexico or some other exotic place where the bars never close. No, this is Toronto, where getting a license to stay open an extra hour or two on a Friday or Saturday night, if you are a pub owner, is right up there with blasphemy, heresy and any other ungodly pursuit!!

So how come at a moment's notice each and every bar across the province, probably across the country, was allowed to open on a Sunday morning to serve alcohol in all of its diabolical forms? Oh, did I mention that there was a hockey game on? Well it wasn't being played here. You only get to play hockey here at 7:00 in the morning if you're six years old and in some pee wee league. And then only your parents get to drink from thermoses, because they had to haul you out of bed at 5:00am, drive an hour to get you to the rink and spend another hour to get you into your gear.

No, this particular game was being played in Russia and broadcast here at 7:00am. It is, though, the reason why so many parents make these sacrifices, because one day you too could win Olympic gold. You would then be the reason why thousands of people would get up at 6:00am on a Sunday morning to get to a pub by 7:00am to swill beer, smoke and cheer for what many consider the true meaning of life - HOCKEY!!

Gotta love 'em - yay team Canada!!

Have a sober day!!

Psst...Buddy...Need an idea?

My blogs are works in progress. That is, I often re-read a post, which might be listed on my stats. page, as recently read by someone else. Invariably, I find an error, usually minor, in the spelling or the syntax, which I then correct.

Today, someone read this post - Content Marketing Tools Can Be Fun. It reminded me that there is this really cool site that will generate blog topics for you. Since I was writing about knitting again, I decided to key the word knitting into the idea generator and let the fun begin. Here are some random topics from the generator, with comments :)

1. How Knitting Makes You A Better Lover - Knitting is not just the domain of grandmothers and even if it were, grandmothers can be lovers too. I was always fascinated by the concept that some people knit underwear - very sexy underwear. If you were at all timid about going into a lingerie shop, you might just want to buy a few balls of gorgeous silk yarn and knit yourself a "Teddy" - just saying.

2. Unbelievable Knitting Success Stories - There really are some amazing "things" that people have done with knitting and crochet. Some people have covered cars and buses with hand knit pieces. One woman even knit a house cozy. Yes, she covered an entire bungalow with knitted squares. That's not to say that finishing your first ever knitting project is anything less than an amazing accomplishment!!

Fair isle knitting

3. Why Knitting Should Be One Of The 7 Deadly Sins - Sloth comes to mind. It's not that knitters are a lazy lot; it's just that when we sit down to knit, it's really difficult to break that concentration to get up and make dinner or clean the house, for example.

4. Why Do People Think That Knitting is a Good Idea? - I have always maintained that, if you have a skill, however small, you have the means of earning a living or augmenting a pension, through sheer industriousness. Many people have supported whole families by knitting.

5. Ways Your Mother Lied To You About Knitting - My mother crocheted. She could knit, but preferred the fact that with crochet, you only had to keep track of one stitch at a time. I would see these gorgeous fair isle sweaters and decide that I wanted to knit one. My mother would say, "Oh, they're far too difficult." I was almost 40 before I attempted fair isle knitting. It is still my favourite!!

Have a awesome day!!

The Spy Who Came In From The Cold....maybe...

There was an interesting post to my FB wall yesterday about knitting. Yes I am still involved in the knitting community and I do enjoy articles that add to its mystique!! The article from The Guardian,  listed several little know facts about knitting and its uses, other than to make scarves, socks and sweaters!!

There were several references to Yarn Bombing, which uses knitted items to "decorate" trees, lampposts, statues etc. in urban areas. The idea is to make "the world" a more colourful, if not a better place!! In addition, there were references to knitting and its relationship to various protests during the French revolution, along with descriptions of knitted islands, clocks and shrouds. My favourite, however, was the note about knitting patterns, as secret codes during WWII.

Here is the excerpt -

During the Second World War the Office of Censorship banned people from posting knitting patterns abroad in case they contained coded messages. There was one occasion when knitting was used for code. The Belgian resistance recruited old women whose windows overlooked railway yards to note the trains in their knitting. Basic stuff: purl one for this type of train, drop one for another type.

This is neat stuff!! I wonder, though, if the article was just scratching the surface. Maybe a whole lot more went on under the guise of a knitting pattern. What could K3tog or SSK really have meant, for example. And again might intricate cable designs have actually been strategic battle plans for the allies? I have to believe that the codes were hidden in patterns for small items such as socks and gloves. Knitted garments in pairs would allow for subtle changes in the wording of a pattern or the insertion of intentional errors. Then again there are enough twists and turns in a sock pattern to destroy an entire enemy battalion!

Now if all those coded directions were actually knit as garments, one could keep a lot of spies warm and cozy during a long cold war :)

The picture? Secret messages from behind the needles - every stitch holds a story :)

Friday, February 21, 2014

What does it take to win "gold?"

....maybe just an empty net and a flukey missed shot. How many times have you succeeded in spite of the odds and how many times have you missed a wide open opportunity?

These moments happened in Olympic proportions yesterday to the Canadian woman's hockey team. Down 2-1 against the US, they pulled their goalie. At the face off, the US got possession of the puck, lined up a shot, on an empty net and then missed. The Canadian team recovered the puck and went on to score the tying goal, with seconds remaining in the game!! The person, who fired the shot that missed, will take that moment to her grave!! I wonder how it will affect her life?

Alternatively, Canadians may begin to believe in divine intervention. For the last four or five minutes of the game, Canada paused - people stopped work, traffic thinned and anyone, who could, glued themselves to TV screens across the country to watch a cliff hanger of a game that ended against all odds.

I am reminded of another spectacular game, also in Russia, a long time ago. Canada paused then too. Those who could, watched; those who couldn't, just listened. In my case it was over the PA system, during the last period of the school day. All of us, along with the rest of Canada, held our breath, as Paul Henderson scored the winning goal against Russia.

Believe in miracles.

Have an awesome day!!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Chicken scratch....and lip-sync-ed lives

.....the other day I was scratching around for a blog post. You know there wasn't much out there that was being "ironical." OK, it was bright and sunny, which might have deceived us into thinking that it was warmer.  No, it was still around -12ºC, warming up to -7ºC as it clouded over.

We did head out for a walk, though and managed one that was over 5 miles - there and back!! Now if I could only do that everyday!! It was, however, a holiday - Family Day. On another topic, we are still feeding two feral cats, which I suppose we shouldn't, but they have become a little a part of our family now.

Scratch, scratch, more kernels - we had hoped that our daughter could come with us to France this June, however, her various camp jobs were starting and she didn't want to miss any time. Finally, after some thought, we decided to move the holiday back to the end of April - beginning of May, so that she could come. This, of course, meant changing all our bookings etc. etc. But fortunately we were able to book a great place in Cannes owned by the same person that we had to cancel our previous booking from - now that was amazing. Alas we are still looking for something in Paris!! But we can get flights into Paris and out of Marseilles - getting closer!!

Since, the weather is beginning to ease, we have had a few mild sunny days, even though it will rain today and the sidewalks will all freeze to ice overnight!! This is how what goes up, comes down - funny (ironical) how things just seem to naturally balance themselves.

Even though the weather may have improved today, the conversation at dinner took a turn for the worse. The topic was "Kim Kardashian" because she is married to Kanye West. Our youngest had just come back from a Kanye concert last night in Hamilton. I'm not sure why the venue was Hamilton, not Toronto, but then I am told that Hamilton is an up and coming city. It always amazes me how a cluster of young IT people can turn a defunct steel town into a trendy hot spot in a matter of a few years. Maybe all any of us really need to turn things around is extra high speed access :)

As you can see, it's been a slow week for irony. I've really had to scratch the bland surface of my days to find any kernel of interest. Yes, I guess I could have mentioned my Rastafarian postman, who wears the equivalent of a Kufiya under his postie's hat and always sings, "Oh Carol," (my name) when he arrives with packages to deliver :) Lately, that's been the highlight of my week!!

Well that's it. The chicken scratch or cat kibble of our lives. I have to believe, that even the very rich and famous, have days, possibly weeks, that are well, just "hum drum." Celebrities probably say, maybe quite often, "oh no, another concert tonight. Guess I'll just go out and lip-sync."

Lip sync!! I've never really thought of that. On a boring day wouldn't it be wonderful to just play out some amazing pre-recorded event? This might even be an idea for a new business - selling pre-recorded lives or at least days in lives or maybe just a few hours, like a concert, except that you would be the star and you would be amazing, (if not a little fake,) because you had bought the software!! It could be right up there with 3-D printers!!

Any backers :)

The picture? Packaged lives!!

Have a day that is real!!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Art and Fat Fingers

I wrote a post the other day on doodling. I decided that I might be able to do more doodling and therefore reap the benefits, mentioned in the post, if I could doodle on my phone. So I opened the app store, keyed in "drawing" and came up with several free apps for the purpose. I read the reviews and decided on one.

Since I don't want to damage my phone by using anything pointy, I decided that I would just have to use my ring finger. Well, it's still a little thick, but the others are worse and the baby finger isn't strong enough or the least bit artistic :)

From the ring finger

Add a stamp

and another

Something tells me this is not art.

Any suggestions?

Have a wonderful day!!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

iMaxims and other truths....

Yesterday it was about -1ºC and the day before it was 0. I walked through the cemetery in the sun, listening to my iPhone. It was bliss!! In fact, I hadn't listened to all of my music in over a year, because it was on an old MP3 player, which I just never remembered to take with me, when I left the house.

However, since, I declared a snow day for myself last week, I had time to transfer the music from the old player to my iPhone - It wasn't easy, even though it should have been. All I needed to know was that I had to first put all those tunes into a folder called iTunes and then magically do a drag and drop to the phone, which was plugged into my MAC!!  But tell me, how was I to know this? This is obviously not some universal truth. No the fundamental commandments of life - "the thou shalt nots" - which have been told to us many times, by many people, throughout our respective lives, somehow have not included the digital basics, you know the "thou shalts." As pervasive as computers are, they are obviously not considered tantamount to our spiritual survival in this world or the next. Maybe not by some, but after several frustrating hours, I can see how many would be on their knees, praying for a sign!!

Unfortunately, iMaxims are not found in any Bible. I have never heard a minister after expounding on the virtues of the sermon on the mount say, BTW, if you want to do this and that on your computer, it helps to remember....... (As an aside, it may improve church attendance, just saying.) No, anything of value, as far as computers are concerned is tossed off by teens, pre-teens and/or young adults, who have iGenes spliced into their DNA. My daughter actually managed the music transfer, without really knowing what to do. She did, however, manage to work out what had to be done, intuitively, with just a few clicks. So what took me three hours, without success, took her just three minutes - oh, to be young and wired again!!

The picture? Architectural inspiration from the Newman Centre, University of Toronto. Truths in a digital age reach us through various means or vehicles :)

Have an inspired day!!

Friday, February 14, 2014


I was reading an article the other day on the positive effects of doodling. There is now a book out, by Sunni Brown, on how you can improve your "idle" drawings and reap the benefit of -

1. Improved focus. Yes, apparently drawing during lessons or at meetings keeps your mind from drifting off topic. I have to presume, though, that you are drawing pictures of the subject being discussed. If not than you are being "drawn" off topic :)

2. Better information retention. Well I guess that it follows on from improved focus. If doodling helps you focus, it should also help you retain information from the lesson or meeting.

3. Creative problem solving. Apparently doodling helps you access parts of your brain that are very helpful in discussions or brain-storming sessions.

4. Information integration. Doodling or drawing pictures, according to the author, helps you understand better the information you have been given.

5. Emotional release. Drawing has always been considered a release or manifestation of inner tension. It's often interesting to attempt to interpret doodles. Are they small windows to the soul?

Play me hearts and flowers :)

The focus of the book is to help you improve your doodling and thereby increase all of the above benefits. Ms Brown says that once you start doodling, you should never judge your work. It's always better to let your work evolve and improve naturally. You can speed this improvement, however, by learning the "visual alphabet." Actually the thought of learning a new way of communicating was what really got me hooked. The visual alphabet is as follows: the point, line, angle, arc, spiral, loop, oval, eye, triangle, rectangle, house and cloud.

Finally there is the interpretation of these visual metaphors. What have you made them stand for? I know that when I did a lot of doodling - mainly in school - I always drew violins, flowers and hearts. I liked curvy symmetrical figures. They were like brackets, enclosing me in an aesthetic world. I guess that I needed to escape from a world of uncertainty into a world of love, beauty and art.

The picture? Clearly I need to work on improving those doodles!!

Have a great day!!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

-23ºC is not the meaning of life....

I realized this morning that I have become a gadget junkie. On the table in front of me is my Fitbit - charged, my point and shoot camera - charged, my MAC - charged and my iPhone - about to be charged!!! Oh God, I've become my father!!

I knew that I was in trouble the other day, when I left my iPhone at work. For the next 24 hours, I went through "weather withdrawal." Since I couldn't access my weather app, I didn't know how cold it was outside and therefore could not assess the amount of pain I should be in. -23ºC is really more painful (in the mind) than -13ºC, for example.

Another time, I forgot to wear my fitbit and managed to walk several miles (it was milder that day) doing errands. I was very frustrated because I couldn't measure how far I had walked. Somehow this gadget has become a little energizer. I think of it as powering me forward - OK, I'm still delusional!!

Finally, from Sunday until Tuesday, we couldn't access the internet. I'm sure my provider, Rogers, did something at their end, which knocked out our modem for almost 60 hours. Fortunately, I could check my email via my phone, or I would have been even more stir crazy.

Sigh!! I have really been trying to keep my spirits up!!

1. I have been cleaning. Purging is more like it. I know that it's good for the soul and there is a certain satisfaction and virtue to be found in a grease-free oven, fuzz-free dishwasher and junk-free fridge.

2. This weekend, I am moving onto the closets (again.) It's a little like those people who are in such despair that they rend their clothes, or draperies or something like that. It's a little dicey with the clothes in public and if you rip up your window coverings, then the neighbours will know just how far you've gone over the edge. No, I'll stick with throwing out those cheap blouses that I bought at Winners which they said were 100% cotton, however, I have never been able to bend my elbows in them, ever :)

3. I have been cooking. What fights winter blues better than lentil soup, roast pork, and spaghetti!! I would cook more, but I do put on weight, so I have steeled myself against making some wonderful chocolate confection that I found in the latest Bon Appetit!! But, I have put real butter (unsalted) on my baguette and pretended that I was somewhere in the south of France.

4. I have been blogging - not as much as last year, but, yesterday my hits spiked. Clearly baking soda has a following.

5. Finally, today I am going to have a life's worth of sun damage removed from my face via liquid Nitrogen. Yes, the lady is for burning. I'm not sure that the procedure will warm me up, but it will be a diversion. Maybe it's a type of controlled self mutilation. Alas, the things we do to get through winter!!

Yes, I am following the Olympics and thrilled at Canada's performance. Maybe it will have warmed up by the time they're over!!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Muse of Baking Soda

I was musing in a post the other day about the branding of baking soda. The box was on the counter, because I had to remind myself, or my husband, to pick up more. Even though it is a cleaner, the symbol of the arm and hammer was just a little too industrial for my liking. I was also not very fond of their choice of orange as a company colour. It has overtones of prison uniforms and well, enough said.

OK, the symbol and the colour just got bigger. My husband remembered to pick up baking soda on Saturday. However, he didn’t just buy one of those small little boxes that fit in the fridge or on a shelf in the cupboard, for the few times that you need it for baking. No, he bought the giant economy sized package, which is the size of a small cereal box!!

Nothing says cleaning more than two kilos of bicarbonate of soda. Now I don’t have to use it sparingly!!! I can just shovel it into sinks, tubs and basins with gay abandon – when has cleaning been this much fun!! You see I really have gone mad with Cabin Fever!!

In fact, I immediately went into a cleaning frenzy. My first target was the fridge. I turned it off, emptied out the food, took out every rack and bin and scrubbed the interior. Next, I cleaned each rack and bin, before putting it back in place. Finally, I threw out old dressings, sauces and everything else that was past its best before date, as I restocked the shelves and drawers. I even cleaned the freezer. What a catharsis!  I still may be a little mad, but, I am cleaner and happier.

Ironically, I didn’t use an ounce of baking soda. I will though, when I soak the oven racks, while I clean the oven. Then it’s on to the dishwasher. Now, I know that you can use baking soda to clean an empty dishwasher. In fact according the box – it’s bigger now so there is more information - I can -

1.     Use it with a septic tank – don’t have one.
2.     Use it to clean silver – don’t have any
3.     Use it to maintain my swimming pool – don’t have one
4.     Use it in the bathtub to soften my skin. Hmmm then I would have to forgo my shower.

Maybe I’ll just let the kids make a volcano or two. Or I could go on the internet and look up a few more uses for baking soda. This might take the rest of the day. Now who said that Arm and Hammer was just about cleaning – maybe it’s more about how to brighten a cold grey winter’s day. Perhaps their symbol should be a ray or two of sunshine. Then they could change the colour of the box to yellow and voila – put the sparkle back into cleaning.

Friday, February 07, 2014

A Mixed Salad of a Day....

It was one of those days. You know, toss a lot of good and bad together, add a little dressing of humour and you get salad days :) maybe. It went like this -

1. I decided to walk to work. Since the postman and a neighbour had to push my car out of the snow yesterday, I thought that it was better to leave it in the drift, that I had to drive it back into, when I got home from work last night. Street parking in winter isn't fun.

2. I was a little late for work, not because I was walking, but because I had decided to be super woman and organize dinner before I left for work. My plan was to boil some rice; let it sit in the fridge during the day and then stir fry it with shrimp for dinner in the evening.  What I had forgotten, though was that I wasn't super woman - no kidding!! So what I actually did was put a pot of water on the stove, start a blog post and let the pot boil dry right under my nose. Now, not only do I have no cooked rice, I also have a blackened pot, which I will have to explain at one point!!

3. Fortunately the walk to work was pleasant - very bright and sunny, so much so, in fact, that I decided to try some ice skating at the outdoor rink in the park near work. Well, I had to do something to take my mind off this morning's disaster. I packed up my skates; walked all the way over to the rink, only to find that they hadn't cleared the ice from Wednesday's blizzard, so I had to turn around and walk all the way back again, sigh!!

4. It was now about lunchtime. On Fridays I usually treat myself to Brie and avocado on an baguette from Thobor's. It's quite an organized procedure. You place your order, pay and wait off to the side for someone to bring you out your sandwich. No problem. My sandwich came and I left. It wasn't until I got back to the office, that I realized my sandwich was actually someone else's order. I'm not sure how that happened. So instead of my Friday treat, I got someone else's sandwich with sardines, sliced egg and lettuce - nice, but not what I had ordered!!

5. Finally, there was a lull in the afternoon, when nothing horrible happened!! Then a devastatingly handsome man came down stairs looking for the owner of a convertible Mercedes in the parking lot. I would loved to have said it was mine. Well, apparently, he had backed into it. In fact, the injured car was actually parked in my spot, but since I had walked to work, my spot was empty or at least should have been!! Well, Mercedes, it serves you right for taking someone else's spot. I was so glad, that it wasn't my car!! And I did so enjoy my brief chat with this person who looked like a cross between Robert Redford and Paul Newman in Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid. He was even wearing a leather fedora!!

6. Things were looking up!! It was still quite light out, when I left for my walk home and my iPhone shuffled up a lot of great music, including Max Boyce singing about walking to Merthyr Tydfil in the moonlight - it's a folk music "thing" and I disappeared into another world, with no disasters for a little while, anyway!!

The picture?  It's actually one of the many dings that my old car has suffered in the aforementioned parking spot.

Have a wonderful day!!

Where in Paris....

My husband has been trolling the site for an apartment to rent for a week in Paris this summer. Last year we rented an apartment for a week in Rome and then one for another week in Cinque Terre. This combination worked so well that this June we have decided to spend a week in Paris and a week in Cannes.

Finding a flat in Rome was very easy. I think that it took my husband about two or three days with emails back and forth to finalized a great place that was steps to the Tiber, five minutes from the Vatican and walking distance to all the other must see sites in Rome, except the Colosseum, which was a bus ride away. This apartment had two bedrooms, two bathrooms, it was completely renovated and worked perfectly for us.

Paris has been a little different. After about a week, my husband found three units, all central with these trade offs -

1. Latin Quarter - stones throw from the Seine, however, the kitchen is tiny and ill equipped. There is one bathroom, with a tub, but no shower. The reviews suggested that it was a little dirty, because guests are expected to clean it for the next tenants - not a great idea.

2. Slightly north of the Lourve - this unit has a shower stall, but no bath. It looks nice but it's on the 6th floor with no elevator - puff, puff, gasp!!

3. The third unit was close to the river as well, but had a small bedroom in an open loft and another double bed screened off from the living room. There were no pictures of the bathroom - never a good sign.

All three of these were the equivalent of $2,000.00 for the week - yikes. We have since found another very small unit, at half the price, with a wonderful kitchen and bathroom, but it's about a half hour walk from Notre Dame. I did want to be closer. We're still looking.

Cannes has not been a problem. We found a nice place with two bedrooms, a glass shower, balcony and a view down the street to the sea. I was also able to find several walking trails in the area and the train runs regularly to Antibes and a few other nice (no pun) places along the coast.

No, Paris has been a challenge. I'll keep you posted.

The picture? The entrance to our place in Rome last year.

Have a great day!!

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Snow Wonder....

It's snowing again today - blizzard conditions. My husband walked to work - safer than taking the car, maybe. I was wondering, if you own your own business, who has the authority to "call" a snow day? Yes, I guess it's me and since I don't feel like walking to work and I definitely don't feel like digging my car out of the drift and driving to work, I could just stay at home, right. Well, now I am feeling very guilty because -

1. My son took a taxi to work and the taxi driver, not only made it to work, he is helping others make it to work!!

2. The mail has just come through the slot in the front door, so I know that the postman made it to work and is delivering the mail, on time!!

3. The plows are out, so others have made it to the lots around the city that store these monsters.

Oh, thou great Protestant work ethic, please cut me a little slack!! Even, my daughter, of her own volition, is out shovelling the first layers of the storm off the sidewalk.

I would just like to mention (as an aside) that there are two schools of thought on shovelling. One school says, get out and shovel often, to avoid the build up. The other says wait until it's all over and then do one massive clear! Then there are those who never shovel and just wait for Spring!

But I digress. I am looking for ways of either staying at home and dealing with my guilt or bundling up and heading out to work in the storm. Think time -

1. If I stayed at home, I could always clean the bathroom. This would be a kind of penance so I wouldn't feel as badly.

2. I could tackle an item or two on our to do list, like calling the roofers, who put on a new roof last February and asking them why we have a leak in our bedroom ceiling.

3. I could finish the first of eight books in Middlemarch and sort of help Dorothea through, what all the literary foreshadowing is suggesting, a failed first marriage. Well she wouldn't be the first :)

4. I can't make dinner. I did that last night for tonight. I'm sure that I read somewhere that you could bank virtue and pay it out at a time when you aren't that virtuous. I'll check "my favourites." I must have book-marked it somewhere.

5. I think that I'll start by getting dressed. I am always more productive clothed and standing (as opposed to naked and lying?) This is debatable :)

So once more into the breech, as we soldier on through this winter from Hell, which has obviously frozen over.  Now, where is that list of all the things that I would do when Hell freezes over. I think that I'm in for a very busy day!!

The picture? My daughter shovelling the back deck in her lifeguard hoodie. Well, someone, somewhere could be drowning in snow, or guilt - Rescue me!!

Tuesday, February 04, 2014


Last Saturday, my daughter was going out to dinner and then to a movie. As I'm always interested in a good restaurant, I asked her where she was going. Apparently, they were going to a place called "Bamburger." I immediately thought of Bambi!! I wasn't worried that they were serving venison, I just had this image of all these cute little animals on a bun - so sad. On Sunday, I asked her how the meal was. She said that the restaurant had closed - I'm not surprised!!

With all this ice and snow, I have been confined indoors far too long and clearly cabin fever has set in. My thoughts are a little deranged and I am starting to imagine "things." I wonder, for example, why my box of baking soda is called "Arm and Hammer." I know that bicarbonate of soda is used for cleaning and I use it a lot, however, I also use it in my cooking. I'm not sure that I want my muffins rock hard. The picture on the box of an arm holding a hammer, always reminds me of the hammer and sickle of Soviet Russia. All I can think of now are babushkas and woman scrubbing floors - how not to sell a product!!

The other day, a fellow blogger, Muriel Jacques, mentioned that her favourite word was "anodyne" - pronounced an/a/din. It means something that eases pain. I immediately thought of Anacin and wondered if there were a cure for being stuck in the house. Don't say, "go outside," because one foot on the ice encrusted driveway could lay me up for weeks and then I would have bedroom fever - best not to go there :)

Another blogger, Roy Ackerman, in the same group, said that a word he remembers often is "meretricious." It means having no worth. An older usage also meant related to prostitution. Funny I always thought that it had a positive spin, because the first part of the word sounds like "merit." Now, I am really confusing things. I think that I have to put on the heavy artillery, brave the elements, get out there and face reality. It has to be a lot better than my imagination at the moment.

The picture? Something random, like my mind. It actually reads, "transport yourself." Really, I wish I could :)

Have an awesome day!!

Monday, February 03, 2014

Pulled Pork....

Being kept in because of the weather has its advantages. For example, I cook more and I try a few new recipes. Yesterday we had something that could be called Pulled Pork. We told the kids that anyway, so that they would eat it. It was actually just a pork shoulder roast which began on Saturday, like this -

1. I brinned a 2 pound, bone in, pork roast. I now have a large box of Kosher salt which I have to use up and I am short two tablespoons of peppercorns. I hope that the price of peppercorns doesn't spike :)

2. Sunday I poured all the brine along with the peppercorns down the drain. Patted dry the pork. Seared it in a hot oven and then cooked it slowly for 5 hours at 300ºF.

3. When it was done, I took the pork out of the pot. It was a challenge because the roast was falling apart. Next, according to the recipe, we had to "finish it" on the Bar-B-Q. I would have just flaked it onto a plate as it was, however, my husband is a purest and so we lathered the meat with BBQ sauce and worked out a strategy for getting it out of the house and onto the grill in one piece - not easy.

     a. First we had to resurrect a grate that had been hanging around in the garden for several years. I bought it for my husband as a birthday gift to do grilled vegetables on, but since he doesn't like vegetables, he never used it. We will not go into why I bought him the grill in the first place. Did I say that I happened to like grilled vegetables?

     b. Then we had to find a cookie sheet to put under the grill to stop the BBQ sauce from running all over the place. The pork and the sauce, of course, stuck to the grill and now I have it soaking in baking soda to resurrect it again.

We rounded out the pork with herbed navy beans, also soaked the night before and a sweet potato and squash puree with toasted pine nuts. At one point I looked at my plate and realized that there was nothing green on it. I guess I was too busy to do yet another lot of beans, green ones this time!

We knew that the kids wouldn't eat the vegetables, so we bought hamburger buns, cut up onions and tomatoes etc for them to make pulled pork burgers. There was lots gravy for a dipping sauce and lots of leftover beans for soup tonight.

It wasn't especially healthy and it took a lot of time and used too many pots and pans, but it was an adventure. It broke the boredom of snow, snow, snow.....and it made me really appreciate our recipe for BBQ'd ribs. Even though I par boil them, they are simple, not the engineering feat of the pulled pork.

The picture? There is none. I was too exhausted to remember to take one, sorry and there won't be a next time!!!

Have an easy day!!

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Warming up to Snow...

I have said before, many times in fact, that I live in a country where it warms up to snow!!! Well, the weather has been hovering around -20ºC for almost a month, now and although it's been often quite sunny, it's been far too cold to take a walk longer than from the house to the car or from the car to the office. Brrr.

That's why when it warmed up yesterday, even though it snowed continuously most of the day, I got out and walked. First I walked to the office. I know I drive on weekdays, because those are work days. But on the weekend, I often walk well past the office in a three mile loop that gets me home again, exercised!! Yesterday, however, I had a number of errands to run. I had to pick up my iPhone, which I had mistakenly left at the office. I love the weather app on the phone and was quite lost without it :) Then I had to pick up a baguette for our dinner of pasta with clams later and finally, I decided to drop into the local library to see if they had Middlemarch. I am thrilled that we still have, within walking distance a small library, which the government, in its effort to save money, or keep us in ignorance, has for some reason decided not to close, just yet anyway!

I was a little dismayed, though. They didn't have Middlemarch in their collection, nor did the larger library near a large bookstore, both of which are still open and operating, have it either, sigh. I was also a little surprised that I had to remind the librarian of the author's name, George Eliot. Librarians apparently don't know everything :) Alas, I was hoping to save myself a little money, by borrowing the book, rather than paying $20.00 to buy it at Indigo. I walked home consoling myself that I would have to have read the book in two weeks, if I had got it at the library and maybe it would take me a little longer - I'm a slow reader - and then I would have to have renewed it and maybe someone wanted it etc. etc. Free always has strings attached, and maybe a librarian or two, as well :)

Later that day, my husband proposed another walk. Even though my scarf, hat and mitts were still a little damp, I decided that, if we walked to the bookstore, I mentioned earlier, I could perhaps buy a copy of Middlemarch. The snow was still falling and it seemed thicker and wetter than before, but it was still very mild, just around 0ºC, almost balmy!! Eureka, Indigo had Middlemarch at a mere $13.00!! I can now have a long leisurely read, while I wait for Spring!!

Have a great day!!