Tuesday, September 21, 2021

I'm just a spiteful African Violet in an Escarole pot....

....OK not exactly a great title for a poem, the opening line of a novel or even the chorus of a song, as in "I'm a lonely little petunia in an onion patch." I kid you not, it is a real song - lonely little petunia in an onion patch.

I grow some edible, leafy greens on my back deck. In August I seeded some Arugula, Escarole and Cilantro for the Fall. About a month ago, I did notice an odd leaf growing among the Escarole. It looked like an African Violet leaf. I thought, no it's really a weed masquerading as an African Violet - they do that, even in the plant world. Evil is everywhere!


Anyway, the other day, this leaf produced a bloom - a white African Violet bloom. I was amazed. Now, I did remember last Fall throwing a white African Violet plant in the compost heap. I presumed it had died or wasn't worth retrieving, given that I had too many African Violets as it was.

Well, nature is amazing. It survives, in spite of us, or to spite us. I have just to look at the weeds growing almost 6 ft tall at various intersections in the city - Jarvis & Wellesley comes to mind, to be reminded that if you give nature 50 years, it will return the urban jungle to simply jungle - bring on the lions.

A brief post today. But a resurrection is always worth celebrating.

Have a blooming wonderful day

Friday, July 09, 2021

A House is a Home is a Garden - in several posts - 1

People who know me, know I love growing "things." Yes, growing older comes to mind, but not today. Fortunately, I have a large back garden. Unfortunately it is heavily treed - growing anything in the way of food and/or flowers is a challenge. Hence (love that word), I rely on my front garden to grow plants that require full sun - tomatoes, roses, aubergines, lilies, black-eyed susans....and the like.


Covid has made me concentrate a lot on the house and the garden. We haven't gone away for weekends so, I fill the time with planting, weeding, re-decorating and cleaning.

Redecorating:

I have, as I have said in an earlier post, redecorated my daughter's room, now that she has moved out. I re-purposed much of what was in her room except the bed - it was ancient and thoroughly destroyed. Teenage years are difficult.

We replaced her double bed with our queen bed and mended or refurbished the bedding. 

Applique´ and embroidery to cover the worn fabric

I will try to revitalized a very discoloured white fitted sheet. I am thinking that some tea and a little tumeric in a dye bath might work. Also after buying on Amazon, what looked like a pretty white chair cover, only to discover, when it arrived, that it was cream, not white and made of some very thin stretchy synthetic, I decided I would have to make the chair cover myself.

Fortunately, Ikea had opened for in person shopping, so I was able to buy 3 yards of pure white, 100% cotton fabric, in a sturdy weave. I decided not to buy the McCall's pattern for a chair cover on Amazon, because it was listed at $54.00 - whatever were they thinking. With much keying in of as many variations of "chair cover" I could think of, I found a site, "sustain-my-craft-habit" that showed the viewer how to measure a straight-back chair to make a slip cover. Voila! Now, I just have to finish embroidering those appliquéd flowers.

Old wooden chair refreshed

Yes, I had to spend some money to "pull" the room together - 2 Ikea bookcases, a new closet door - mirrored, another dresser, yet to be assembled, but I painted the room myself to help cover these costs and the price of new windows!! Plus, I did repurpose a set of open shelves from the old room to both the dining room, living room and garden, ta-da!!


These were 4 very long white shelves that fit perfectly over the radiators in both the dining room and the living room. Two shelves stacked one on top of each other provided enough insulation from the heat of the radiators to allow for a mini greenhouse in the dining room and a keyboard (piano) stand in the living room. I euphemistically refer to this small alcove as the conservatory. I've clearly been reading too many Victorian novels.


The radiator, unfortunately raised the piano a little higher that "normal" so I bought an adjustable  stool from Ikea (They should pay me for all this advertising!) and can play quite comfortably, though not well - which has nothing to do with the height of the instrument. I jokingly say that I am practising to play in a piano bar.


The frame that held the shelves has gone into the garden as a support for my pole beans, one of the few plants that still grow in the back of the garden.

More on the house and the garden later.

Have a purposeful day!

Saturday, June 26, 2021

Challenge

 Our writing word for a long time has been challenge. Well, I have been accepting the "take on a daily challenge" idea for a while now - maybe not everyday, but enough of them to throw out an ankle, a knee, an elbow and a shoulder - need I say more.  Since April, I have - 

1. Assembled 6 Ikea purchases - 2 narrow bookcases, 1 small chest of drawers, 1 desk and two head boards - oops the headboards were from Lowes.

2. Transplanted 4 rosebushes from the back of the house to the front - all have survived.



2a. Extended a soaker hose system to water the replanted rose bushes.

3. Put in 2 vegetable gardens - back and front.

4. Potted up 25 pots of various sizes with both flowers and vegetables. Did you know that Chives can look a lot like Dracaena, with some imagination - OK a lot of imagination.

5. Sanded and spray painted 12 wooden lawn ornaments - all black cats, which I designed years ago as part of an art project.


6. Installed a string of 24 outdoor lights to fancy up the deck. My apologies to the Lilac.

7. Got the bike rack on the car - with help and have had several short bike rides - well, it's been a year since I last rode.

8. Added dozens of indoor house plants to the few we had. All had to be re-potted several times, watered a lot and repositioned on a regular basis - not sure why.


I have tried to slow down with some needlework projects, but that required rummaging through boxes of old fabric, embroidery floss and other miscellany. Still I managed to -

1. Add 13 dome fasteners to 3 duvet covers to keep the duvets from falling out - just another 13 fasteners to go.

2. Repair one very worn duvet cover, which I just couldn't throw out.


3. Begin embroidery work on 2 tea towels that were screen printed, years ago, with a drawing of mine, plus a poem, that was not mine. Pictures to come.

Happy to report that two of my self-inflicted injuries have healed and the other two are on the mend. Now to tackle one remaining Ikea dresser and finish those knitting projects.

Have an awesome day!

Saturday, June 19, 2021

Butter Chicken

 I promised a while back, actually a long while back, to give you my version of Butter Chicken from J's World Kitchen. I loved J's recipe for Naan so much that I decided to make his version of butter chicken. I did, however, take a look at a few other videos, just to see what was out there. Well, by far J's was the easiest. Some used fresh tomatoes - OK, when you have too many tomatoes in August, but this is June. J used a store bought tomato puree (as did a few others). He also did not add cashews - expensive and then you had to puree them, with the fresh tomatoes, using a hand held blender. No, this recipe is very easy. Please check out the link above for recipe amounts for two chicken breasts. I used just one chicken breast.




To start -

I chopped the chicken breast and marinated it in 

1 tsp Coriander
1 tsp Garam Masala (You can substitute Allspice.)
Cayenne and salt to taste

Then I prepared the following:

1 small onion chopped
1 tablespoon each of garlic paste and ginger paste

I created my own garlic paste and ginger paste in a small blender, using 2 garlic cloves and about 2 inches of fresh ginger, peeled, plus 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. J used store bought paste for both ginger & garlic, but I got the idea to make my own from Madhur Jaffray.

I sautéed the onion in a large skillet over medium heat. J uses vegetable oil, but I used butter. Either one works well. To the onion, I added the garlic and ginger paste, plus the following spices:

1 tsp Garam Masala
1 tsp Chilli Powder
1 tsp Cumin
1 Bay Leaf 
Salt to taste

I then added the chicken and fried (sautéed) everything for about 5 mins.



Next, I added 1/4 cup of yogurt. Well, I had to get creative here, because the yogurt had gone off. Fortunately, I did have sour cream. I substituted and it worked.

I also added 1 cup of cream and 1 cup of tomato paste (actually a whole tin of tomato paste - one of the small ones.) J also adds a can of tomato sauce, but I was doing just 1 chicken breast and the sauce, as it was, tasted great! I let it all simmer, while I boiled the rice.

Finally, I poured spoonfuls of the butter chicken over the cooked rice and enjoyed it all immensely.


Oh, yes and I did add some fresh Coriander from the garden and a large dollop of Major Grey chutney. It was at this point in my life, that I finally realized Major Grey chutney is not Mango chutney. Well, they all look the same in those small jars. I guess I didn't read the fine print - the story of my life.

Have an enjoyable day!


Thursday, April 15, 2021

Plus ça change, plus c'est la meme chose......

Our writing word for today is "change." I have always maintained that change is the only constant, well maybe not. Maybe the more things change, the more they remain the same. 

For some reason, there are always dictators. Democracy is challenged in the most democratic of countries. There are still the poor, the homeless, the starving. There is still war somewhere. Peace is merely a "time out." Time to catch one's breath, gather some capital and then start all over again. We have only to look at Northern Ireland.

There is racism everywhere. Certain cultures are being purged daily. Free speech is silenced. Journalists are incarcerated and/or killed. The list goes on. Nothing, it seems has changed over hundreds of years.

Something there is in the human psyche that is always ready to explode. It's buried like a mine, just below the surface. Say the wrong thing, create an awkward situation, or look a little suspect and you could be destroyed.

Are we genetically programmed to remain the same?

It wasn't that long ago that a divorced American celebrity challenged the Crown. It is now happening again.

Trump could happen again.


Any liberties won by women, by those not following, what is considered a social norm, by those not following a dominant religion, by those not part of the main stream for whatever reason, could be reversed with every new governing power.

Change may not be merely two steps forward, one step back. It might be constantly turning in the same frustrating circles, waiting for the end ...or...

The Second Coming

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of 
Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

W.B. Yeats

"Psst, buddy, can you spare some change?" I wish I could.

The picture? The best I could do for circles.

Have a thoughtful day.


Tuesday, April 13, 2021

The Duchess of Wessex....

 .....I have not commented on the very silly antics of "some very minor people" who have a lot of money and who feel that they need to be considered important. OK, she manipulated herself into a minor role in a dramatic series, "Suits," which aired on a secondary network. She also had her sights on a title - doesn't everyone, who wants easy fame, and/or lots of money. She charmed herself into the life of a prince, several slots away from the throne, and managed to get him to marry her.

She had a son - a great-grand-child to a woman far her superior. So, she got the job - Duchess of Sussex, but didn't want to do the work - go-figure. She wanted the title, the money, the prestige, without doing all the bowing, smiling, dressing for the cameras..etc. Somehow, she must have thought that royalty was an easy ride. 

So she started to play the cards - bi-racial, American, divorced, independent woman etc. Did she never think that the monarchy had been there before and that she was just another mistake to be "dealt with"?

May she fade away like all the others of her ilk. Wallis Warfield Simpson comes to mind. May she live and die in that obscurity, in that virtual exile. Certainly ignored, in fact, possibly hated, by many, while those who chose duty over petulance, live the beautiful lives of the role models they are - worshipped for their diligence at keeping the faith, setting an example, putting duty before pleasure, and generally reminding everyone that we are dependent on one another, we support one another, we respect one another and we play the games that get us through life, by making ourselves and everyone else stronger. Rather than being pathetic weaklings, needing sympathy and generally luring the emotionally immature into their maelstrom.



I think that her current title should be revoked. I'm sure Sussex wouldn't mind. Personally, I don't think that she or her husband should have titles at all and certainly none of their offspring.  May I offer another title, should she need one - the Duchess of Wessex. Now, Thomas Hardy may object, as would his hard working heroines - the county, of course is novel (she doesn't deserve literary); it is imaginary, as are most of  her illusions, and Wessex is inherently tragic - may she meet the fate of any or all Hardy's Wessex characters.

...and on the topic of sadness, a tribute to Prince Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh, may he rest in peace. Even at 99, he may have been brought to an earlier grave by the antics of a particular grandson. Still because of Prince Phillip's commitment to duty, we are all a little happier in our small little lives because he chose his duty over his preference, and as a result we are all doing our duty and sucking it up rather than complaining that $10 million isn't enough.

Have a hardier day

The picture - strength from my hardiness zone!

PS. Did you know that we all have hardiness zones - Mine is 6b - what is yours?

Monday, April 12, 2021

Naan....

......Yesterday, I made naan, an Indian flatbread that is often eaten with curry. I also made Butter Chicken, but I forgot to take pictures so I'll have to make it again and post the process here, because it was delicious. 

I accepted the "naan" challenge, because a friend of my son has just started a YouTube cooking channel - J's World Kitchen -  and I wanted to try some of his recipes. I make curries from time to time, but I often forget to buy naan to go with them. I also forget to buy Mango chutney, but that's another story.

My journey went as follows: (please take a look at J's World Kitchen for the proportions.)


1. I set about to proof the yeast.

2. I measured out the flour and salt in one bowl and mixed the egg and milk in another bowl, while I waited for the yeast to froth up.

The yeast took a while, because it was a little old - not Egyptian tomb old, but you know, old.

3. Finally, I added the frothy yeast to the dough along with the milk and egg and started to mix and knead by hand. Yes you could use an electric dough processor, but that would be another machine on the counter and you would miss all the fun (and exercise) of kneading the dough. J tells you how long to knead the dough.


4. I covered my "blob" with plastic wrap, a tea towel and put it in a "warmish" spot to rise. I then went to Metro to pick up a few things.

5. An hour later my efforts were rewarded with an even bigger blob of dough that had risen beautifully!! It was huge, too big to turn it all into to naan, so I halved it and will use the rest for a pizza tomorrow. I love doughs that just need one rise. I do make bread, but I always worry about the second rise.


6. Now to fry the naan in a cast iron frying pan. Fortunately, I have four of these, each a different size. It's a heavy collection :) J said to pull off chucks of the dough, roll them out and then fry the flattened dough, coated in butter, in a medium hot pan. Enter, my son. He is one of those, who cannot pass a stove without stirring a pot, flipping a pancake, or sniffing a stew. He decided that I was not cooking the naan long enough and took over.


7. It was perfect. I rolled the dough and he fried it. A great way to spend some fun time with my son.


I covered the stack of naan with an overturned bowl and proceeded to make Butter Chicken, another post on J's World Kitchen. I'll save my take on it for another day, when I remember to take pictures.


Have a tasteful day!

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Trees...

For some reason, I felt I had to write today, right now, in fact; but I had no topic, no reason, nothing.... Well, I'm glad that I could count on my old friend poetry to give me an idea. I keyed "poem for a day" into google and I was rewarded - cast your words upon the waters and they will return - tenfold. I read several poems that came up, including Fern Hill - Dylan Thomas is the green fuse that drives not only the flower, but also the heart, certainly the writer's heart. He is the essence of Spring. But we are not there, yet, just a few more days before the eternal equinox, before Demeter rises on her chariot to claim her daughter Persephone from the underworld....and so...in this hiatus, I chose Mary Oliver, the quiet, understated, poet with the female voice...she is the patience, we need to wait for the full onslaught of Spring. 


Here is the poem I chose...

The Trees

Do you think of them as decoration?

Think again.

Here are the maples, flashing.
And here are the oaks, holding on all winter
to their dry leaves.
And here are the pines, that will never fail,
until death, the instruction to be green.
And here are the willows, the first
to pronounce a new year.

May I invite you to revise your thoughts about them?
Oh, Lord, how we are all for invention and
advancement!
But, I think
it would do us good if we would think about
these brothers and sisters, quietly and deeply.

The trees, the trees, just holding on
to the old, holy ways.

I have "tree people" come in every few years to do the work, my husband and I can't. They will attend to an old Maple...probably as old as I am, that is in decline...go figure. Maples in the city live for about 75 years. In the country they can live for 150 years or more. Makes you think.


I will have my Apple tree pruned, some limbs from a failing Lilac trimmed so it can re-generate, a Yew cut down to let in more light and a Rose of Sharon transplanted. I worry that the trees, which are trimmed, will hurt. I wonder, if a severed limb might have blossomed or borne fruit. Yes, I guess, I worry about my brothers and sisters. But mostly, I worry about somehow destroying the "old holy ways." The ways in which, we once respected trees, fostered them, protected them, helped them propagate. Will I be cursed by the Druids for lopping off a limb?


Just a few thoughts on the sanctity of nature.

The pictures? A few of my friends holding their collected breath

Breathe a sigh for Spring.

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Escape

Our writing word for today is "escape" - go figure. After twelve months of various combinations of lock down, I need an escape. I would love to escape to the country; go for a walk in a forest, with a stream maybe, and oh yes, a hill or two. I need a different four walls to look at, different windows to peer from and different landscapes to survey. 

OK, I have been doing virtual escapes almost daily. I've been reading. I finished Dutch House by Ann Patchette and have ordered Bel Canto, which is ready for pick up at the library. While waiting for Bel Canto, I finished Jamaica Inn and read two articles from the New Yorker, which my writing friend forwarded to me, both written by Ann Patchett. They were amazing escapes.


I have been "re-doing" an upstairs bedroom - the whole, patch, sand, and paint (several coats) odyssey. I  have, as result, been able to escape to paint and furniture stores on-line. There, I muse about colours, Iceberg, Palest Pistachio, Snow White. I visualize how furniture will look in the room. Mentally, I add plants and a writing desk. I escape to a Victorian oasis of letters written to imaginary friends. 

Even the building of two new bookcases from Ikea was an escape. The physical assembly of perfectly matched hardware with pre-drilled holes in a kind of braille for wanna-be carpenters was both a mind and a muscle challenge. How will two new beds, with balloon duvet covers look, in the light from french windows, framed by two tall white bookcases against walls of the palest Wedgwood Blue, I ask myself.


Unfortunately, mental, however, possessive it may be for some people, could not hold me for long. As soon as the stores opened, I was at Home Depot buying a few new plants for the bathroom, a curtain rail to keep them in place on a narrow sill and a wrench to fix a squirrel cage, bought to keep the rodents from a feeder. Alas, the birds didn't come either. More on the wrench idea later.

I have escaped into cooking, Rogan Josh, chicken pot pie, a few fancy sauces, and a dessert or two. I browse through old cookbooks, click on dozens of digital recipes and conjure up some concoctions of my own. But these are always done within the repetitive parameters of the home, four walls, locked doors, closed windows...there is no physical escape. Can you hear my silent scream?


Maybe I just need the proverbial "rabbit hole." I need a different kind of imaginary escape, an adventure, perhaps with some intrigue. Unfortunately, the "axe-murderers" across the street have shown themselves to be quite pleasant. And the guy who kept a mannequin at the side of his house, which scared me to death every time I passed it, has moved. There just remains a colourful van decorated with decals, a surf board and a plastic flower or two. Do I wait for the right moment and just hop in or do I knock first?

The pictures? Earlier escapes.

Have a wishful day


Tuesday, February 23, 2021

In the grey of a February day.....

 I may have hit my seasonal nadir. Hmmmm Feb. 23, 2021, a day after thinking day. Twenty years and a day, after I was diagnosed with breast cancer. How does one measure time? Certainly the highs and lows of the human experience come to mind. Do you..

1. Measure time, as a distance from birth - obviously your own, your siblings? your children? your parents, a favourite author, celebrity, friend?

2. Measure time, as relative to significant events - world wars, moon landings, pandemics, inventions and interventions.

3. Measure time, as data projections - the average life span for a woman is 82 years. My mother died at 83. My father died at 104 - defying all odds, but that in itself defined him.

4. Measure time as the objectives you have set for yourself and accomplished, or nor, as the case may be. I have set many goals for myself - travel, family, vocation, self-employment, creative pursuits. I'm probably 85%  realized in this measure. Does one every reach 100%? It may be a reason to keep moving forward.

5. Measure time as your contribution to the human condition. How many lives have you saved, enriched, fostered?

6. Measure time as your contribution to nature. How many endangered species have you preserved; how much have you reduced, recycled, reused, repurposed......this in itself is a life's work.

7. Measure time as the constant change of the seasons, the neighbourhood, the government....this is something that is on-going - change is the only constant. How do we become a meaningful part of the "constant?"

8. Measure time as diary or log entries. Do you record what is meaningful or not in the day-to day rhythms of life?

9. Measure your life in daily challenges. I try to do as many as I can...or remember to do. However, over the past week or so, I have undertaken the painting of my daughter's room. She has flown the coop and I have been left with the "poop" - so to speak. To save some money and to rise to a challenge, I have patched, sanded, primed and am about to paint ceilings, walls and woodwork of an average sized bedroom. This is a therapy I would never have imagined I needed. Say naught that the challenge not availeth!!

In the grey of a February day, there is something about the white of a primer that clears the mind, covers the scars and leads the way to a new and peaceful place to be.

Oh and did I mention, I have new windows.....there is something about windows that lets in, not only the light, but the life on even the greyest of February days!!

Monday, February 01, 2021

Up for the Challenge?

 I spend a good deal of time reading articles on self improvement. I'm sure I read them years ago, as well. Then it would have been to get a better job, perhaps, or to dress a little trendier, look a little smarter, keep a cleaner house, raise healthier children....the list goes on.

Now, I read posts to just keep me going, recharge what faculties I have left and maybe make a few more, if I try a lot harder. This is how I came to read a post that summarized a book on productive ageing. Mercifully the post condensed a lot of scientific data into 5 basic principles. You will add years and richness to your life, if you:


Friends from elementary school.

1. Keep up meaningful friendships. I'm a little weak in this area, but I will try to push myself even more to keep a close circle of friends.

2. Exercise. I walk and bike often. But I know I could do both, more often.

3. Sleep. Yes, having a good night's sleep is critical to repairing those bits of the body that may need some mending. I'm pretty close to having a routine to get back to sleep, if I wake up. I rarely have trouble getting to sleep.


Biking over the Golden Gate Bridge

4. Eat more berries. What could be simpler. Buy a box of blueberries and eat a bowl a day. I add them to muffins and pancakes, but I think I should get back to the steel cut oatmeal in the morning covered with berries.

5. Do something everyday that challenges you. I could do more of this and I am working on it. My writing partner and I will get back to giving each other word challenges for blog writing and I am working on some longer writing. I have decided to learn to play the piano properly - if there is an improper way to do anything, believe me, I will find it. 


Says it all !!

I have also been working on challenges with house cleaning and organizing. My garden is a challenge every year. This year I may add winter sowing. I still run a small distribution company, with its daily challenges. When the weather is better, we will look for new bike trails as challenges. However, I don't do these everyday. I need to start a daily challenge.

Here is a synopsis from another post on actually adding to your brain's grey matter, rather than watching it shrink.

1. Fast for 16 hours everyday or one day, once a week. I'm not sure I could do this.

2. Read novels. I do this, but I could read more.

3. Travel. I do, but I could do more (not during the pandemic). I could travel closer to home more often, rather than waiting for the one big trip.


Eros at Piccadilly Circus for anyone who loves to travel

4. Learn a new instrument. I have tried guitar, but I wasn't very good. I do play the piano a little, but this wouldn't be a new instrument. Maybe I'll just have to settle for learning a new or more complicated piece of music, more often.

I do follow a group on FB called "Growing Bolder" as opposed to "growing older." They are enablers. They are the ones who post about the 100 and somethings who run marathons. I should be so lucky - never say never.

I'll posts my challenges.

Collected Wisdom......

 .....or not as the case maybe. Yesterday I spent the day cooking. I actually like cooking. I do it in Winter and garden in Summer. 

I didn't really intend to spend the entire day cooking, but it is better than cleaning and way more satisfying. In fact this cooking marathon actually started on the previous day, when I went grocery shopping for the food, that the stores, who deliver groceries, always screw up. It was there that I saw a pork loin roast for a little over $7.00. Now it had a bone in, but it was a substantial size and I thought - for the price I couldn't go wrong. Well, of course, I have and could go wrong with anything in my hands or my head. Here's what happened:

1. I bought the roast and made roast pork with roast potatoes and French green beans which were on special for $2.50 for a week's worth!!

2. After dinner, half the meat was still on the bone. We had the roast again with gravy and fried potatoes for lunch the next day.

3. I balked at having it again for dinner, so I made chicken pot pie.

4. My husband cut the pork off the bone and I decided to use the bone in a soup stock with dried white beans. However, we still had the rest of the cooked pork to use up. Google gave me more recipes than I could read in one sitting so I chose two that sounded interesting and left the rest for another marathon. I did, however, smile at the pork tagine recipe - whatever were they thinking?

5. The bone yielded masses of meat and the dried beans grew to almost fill the pot. I now have pork and bean soup to last me until the Spring.

6. One of the "use up pork" recipes was easy - a lot like turkey "a la king" only with pork. The other one needed "black eyed peas." I thought, I'll just pick up a can at the grocery store. Not that easy. We are obviously too far north for canned black eyed peas. I was frantic. I checked my phone for substitutes, while a line formed behind me. I was now one of those irritating people who spend too long in one area of the store. I was blocking all purchases of both tinned and dried beans. Wait, what's this? - dried black eyed peas. Extra work, but why not?

7. Hence, I added to my cooking day, the preparation of black eyed peas. Did you know that two cups of dried peas, when soaked overnight, will fill a 2 quart pot to the brim - neither did I? I now have black eyed peas ready for half a dozen "use up left over pork meals." Fortunately you can freeze them.

There, I have now passed on what I have learned from trying to use up leftover pork loin. I'll not go into details about the muffins I made to use up the apple sauce, that was bought for the roast pork...sigh.

Sorry, no pictures. I was too busy cooking.

Have an awesome day!

Monday, January 18, 2021

Something there is that doesn't like a mask.......

 .....personally, I love masks, masques, disguise, pretence, theatre, Commedia Dell'arte. There is a certain intrigue about hiding, being secretive, pretending to be something you are not. Actors do this on a daily bases and call it entertainment. For them, it's a job - a very well paying job.

OK, this pandemic has brought the concept of a mask to an entirely different level. Wear a mask and live, maybe. Don't wear a mask and die, probably.


I think of all the people, who escaped from situations that were intolerable, by donning a disguise, pretending to be someone else, in order to survive. 

I think of people, who for years professed to be what they really weren't - gays, who married heterosexual partners. Men, who were really women and women who were really men. These disguises must have taken their toll on the personalities, closeted within.



Disguises are a means of escape, a means of protection, a means of subterfuge. One may hide behind the cover of a respectable identity, as a way of covering up an aberrant character trait. 

Unfortunately, too many examples come to mind of teachers, clergy, community workers, the list goes on, who have used their professional disguises to create opportunities to exercise these aberrant personality traits.



We are indeed a motley crew, hiding ourselves to gain the respect of others, who are also hiding themselves. Unfortunately, we have seen what giving vent to unmasked feelings can create - mayhem, anarchy, insurrection.

Hmmm, hand me my mask, my visor; give me my coat of many colours; do I have my makeup on? where's my script? do I enter stage left? Let's get this show on the road!!

The pictures? Masked identities?

Have an entertaining day!!

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

The Holy Ground

 I copied this from FaceBook and had to share. It speaks to my soul.

Hiking - "I don't like either the word or the thing. People ought to saunter in the mountains - not hike! Do you know the origin of that word 'saunter?' It's a beautiful word. Away back in the Middle Ages people used to go on pilgrimages to the Holy Land, and when people in the villages through which they passed asked where they were going, they would reply, 'A la sainte terre,' 'To the Holy Land.' And so they became known as sainte-terre-ers or saunterers. Now these mountains are our Holy Land, and we ought to saunter through them reverently, not 'hike' through them."
- John Muir

I have to agree with John Muir, Nature is a sacred place. It's where we go to repair our collective souls, get back to our roots (no pun intended) and put everything into perspective. I do, however, like the word "hike." It makes me feel, as though I've, at least, got some exercise. 



Just as an aside, "The Holy Ground" title of the post is a nod to another area that has been elevated in song, sea shanties mainly. It refers to the red light districts in port cities that house prostitutes. I don't saunter through these though, just sayin'.


The pictures? Places to saunter. They're not mountains, but they are closer to home. And in the Fall they are red leaf districts. :)

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Of Chickadees and suet balls, I sing.

Finally a bird came to my feeder - a Chickadee. I was overjoyed. This was the feeder closest to the house, with the smallest number of suet balls - three. The other feeder, I had hung in a nearby Apple tree. It held six suet balls and a lot of hope. Well, within a day or two, the squirrels discovered this larger feeder and decimated it. Never underestimate the power of a rodent. They'll rat you out every time.

The further feeder (Can I say that?) now lies helplessly on the ground - gone are its suet balls, dignity and what ever else a bird feeder may need - oh yes, birds. Well, it never had any to begin with, so with its purpose in life negated, it lies hopelessly in the snow, disembowelled of suet, seed and soul.


Back to the drawing board for winter garden entertainment. I've thought of shooting squirrels, but then I would have to buy a BB gun, buy BBs for it and yes, find a place to store it. I would have to hide it from my husband, who would use it to shoot the tires of cars that park in "our" parking spot on the street. God forbid he use it on the guy who comes up our mutual drive (a Toronto "thing") and empties our recycling bin for bottles and cans (a foraging "thing.") I should introduce him to my squirrels.

Well, that's all for today, folks. I have a dozen cellar stairs to scrub and a basement floor to clean, because a can of Dr Pepper (who buys Dr. Pepper these days?) rolled off a shelf and punctured a hole in its side. I'm still trying to figure that one out.

Oh, yes, and then there is the book, I'm writing - may as well get it out of the bag, now. I'm at 25,000 words. Just another 50,000 to go. It's a page turner, I'm dying to see how it ends :)

Have a squirrel-less day!



Suet for the suetless...

There are times when a word or phrase hits me with nothing less than "stark reality." It might be the punch of an opening line from a good book or a squirm from the awkwardness of a phrase, that makes me wonder why anyone would string those particular words together and call it a sentence.

Well, it happened again the other day. I was online looking for bird feeders - I had a bathroom to clean and was in avoidance mode. My daughter had given me a wire globe for Christmas that could either be a feeder or a place to put out nesting materials - no string, just fluffy fibre. I decided that nesting season was about two months away and since I needed some lockdown entertainment, I would fill the gift with suet balls.

Off, now, to find a source of suet balls. Fortunately there are many and some come with inexpensive holders as well. It was in this search that I may have met my writing soulmate (or not) as the case may be. Some copywriter, stretched to the limits, writing about the advantages of this bird seed over that and vice versa, made one of those stark statements. Here it is:

If you are looking for a well-sized tub of suet, look no further.

I wondered about the possibility of using it as the opening line of a novel. Would it be set in farm country, sometime in the dirty thirties, where anything resembling food looked good? I can hear the snake oil salesman now extolling the virtues of suet balls, "I say, put the fat back into the land and thrive." Or perhaps the setting would be some urban tangle of alleys and refuse, sheltering souls desperate for a hit of anything. "Psst, wanna buy a suet ball?"


But I digress. I did buy some suet balls and another holder for them - I have two now - and set out to feed the birds, as follows:

Day 1 - no birds

Day 2 - no birds

Day 3 - still no birds

Day 4 - I went online to see where all the birds had gone. Well, I was told that a) there may be better feeding stations elsewhere in the neighbourhood, (hrmph) b) there may be better natural sources of food  (humph, hrmph) or c) there may be a predator in the area - eureka! I did see a hawk a day or so ago.

Day 5 - Sometime about mid-day close to two dozen Juncos invaded our Rudbeckia patch. Juncos are ground feeders, though, and not one of them looked up at the suet balls. 

A week has passed and I have not seen a house sparrow, a chick-a-dee, or any other suet loving bird - sigh! I did see a male and female cardinal briefly, but they are not known for liking suet and didn't even sniff at the feeders.

Well, with no other time wasters to divert me from the tasks at hand, I guess I should either clean the bathroom or write a book with a riveting opening sentence. Wish me luck!