Friday, January 31, 2014

Cooking and Sewing and other Pursuits

The other night I made "Italian Bean Balls" served with thinly sliced cabbage cooked in a tomato/pesto sauce. 100% vegan, reasonably low fat (1oz of walnuts per serving), and 100% tasty! Another favourite to add to the growing list. It does have a downside though - I started prep at 5pm and we didn't eat until 6:30, and that was with Carm taking care of the Caesar salad (vegan and low fat as well, but high on flavour).


I actually made it out of the house and into the city! Tuesday I went to donate blood for the Ontario health study (I thought they were greedy, they took 5 vials), tried to meet up with my brother (he was busy), and met with a friend of Carm’s for a quick visit. Norm is a criminal lawyer who has represented some pretty interesting characters. We couldn't visit for long as he had a young client anxiously waiting to see him.

The last few days have been bright and sunny, however the wind has been picking up early afternoon. I can hear the wind howling and see the snow doing its dance across the fields and roads. The roads in our area are in bad shape, so it isn't a surprise to hear of chaos on the news.

I heard Grace say "Oh, you know what" this afternoon - it made me laugh, and also feel grateful that she wasn't swearing. Sewing has been happening, and it is 100% paired with swearing. I had quite a time with the bag that I made. I puzzled for days how to sew things together so when they are pulled right side out they match up. I finally had to get out some paper napkins, tape and a stapler to get it figured out. I forgot one thing though so had to make a few adjustments. Still, I think it turned out okay. Perhaps more dorky looking than I had envisioned, and I hope I don’t have to sew on stronger straps...


The fridge was delivered yesterday morning. Shelves were measured, and then a trip to a few dollar stores netted us some plastic bins for organizing. The fridge is “reach in as far as your arm can go” deep, so some containers to corral the stuff in the back are a must. The giant bag of 5 heads of romaine gets its own shelf, there was room for 4 boxes of the mixed greens, Grace’s food and the dogs food all fit. We got everything else in, including the stuff from the little fridge, there was even room for a few bottles of beer. Not exactly sure where the bottle of bubbles will fit though (which should have been our first priority)!. I don't have tons of leftovers right now - that will be the real test. We were able to turn off the little fridge, which is a good thing.

I am grateful that I needed a bigger fridge to hold all this lovely fresh produce. What a wonderful country we live in that there is such bounty. I am grateful for taking a day of rest from exercise, and feel even more motivated to get back at it today. I am grateful that Carm does such a good job with keeping the snow cleared away - it is a lot of work. I am grateful for the sun! I am grateful that I remembered that it is not spelt greatful!


The snow itself is lonely or, if you prefer, self-sufficient. There is no other time when the whole world seems composed of one thing and one thing only.  ~Joseph Wood Krutch

Monday, January 27, 2014

Snow Dancing Across the Earth

On the treadmill this morning I was treated to the spectacle of the snow dancing across the earth to the music sung by the wind. The spruce trees stood on the edge of the dance floor, moving to the beat as they waited to be asked to dance. The snow seemed tireless as it danced on and on without pause. The sun made an occasional appearance, dusting the earth with sparkles.

Beautiful, but treacherous. I saw a few snowploughs go past, one even backed up a few times to remove a particularly snowy section of road. Heavy coats, scarfs, and warm mittens are the attire today.

I just saw the garbage truck go by, with the guy at the back clinging on to his perch. How cold must that be! The houses are far apart here, some have even 1/2 km or more between them, so he wouldn’t get much chance to warm up by getting on and off – he’d be frozen in place at the back of the truck. I felt slightly guilty to be in a warm house.

My grateful today will have to be a nice warm house, and never having had to have a job that kept me in the freezing cold. I was/am blessed.

The tulip blossoms are nearing the end of their lives. We know they are not gone forever though. A cold sleep and they will bloom again. I think they are still beautiful.



Are ye the ghosts of fallen leaves, O flakes of snow, For which, through naked trees, the winds A-mourning go? ~John Banister Tabb

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Women of a Certain Age

I still don't have much going on. I am reluctant to go even outside, let alone go somewhere in the car - I just can't take the cold this year. I'm quite content to look out the windows at the frozen wasteland, and feel no real need to actually experience it!

Thank goodness for the treadmill; at least I'm still moving! At the beginning of last week I started putting on my treadmill clothes as soon as I get up. Guess what - I haven't missed a day since. When I am dressed and ready, it is so easy to say to myself, just 10 minutes – even when I don’t really feel like it. Once I'm on, the 10 minutes easily stretches into 30, and often more (this morning I made the 10 minute promise and ended up at 90 minutes!).

We watched a tv program about the Eagles last night - very informative. I'll be honest, I didn't really like the Eagles, associating them mainly with "Hotel California". Well, DUH! There is a ton of other music that I do like - A LOT. I kept shaking my head with each song they presented; how did I not know it was done by them? More 70s music to add to my embarrassingly large collection. The 70s - my formative years as a music lover.

I'll be downloading a few Linda Ronstadt songs as well - she was in some of the scenes and is a talented musician with a lovely voice.

I haven't moved forward very far with my sewing projects. I did get Kabira's new outfit finished - she is happy to wear the lighter fleece version during the day. I did some mods to her other outfit (I added another layer on the back), so she is toasty warm at night. Which is a good thing, as the weather has turned cold again. The bedroom is freezing, but I'm happy to sleep out of the covers much of the time (something about being a woman of a certain age). Oh my gosh! "A woman of a certain age", I guess that's me now.

I read somewhere that 60% of certain age woman have insomnia. This is not a good thing for me as sleep, or lack thereof, is a sure trigger for hypo-mania. My mood is holding out, although yesterday morning I did have a minor freak out about sleeping so little (again).

Last night I did a little better, but was up at 6am :-(  Considering I try for 9 or 10 hours, a measly 7 just won’t do. One would think that with the extra time in my day I’d be really productive. Not so. Instead I spent time on my computer designing forms that will hopefully keep me motivated in my fitness and weight loss regime. If only the work of planning would do the actual work. Twenty nine years of working, where the work was writing and documenting (as well as other technical work), has me convinced that the form is all that is required. Oh, I’m not wording this right, I hope you get what I’m trying to say…

One of the big lessons I had to learn with horseriding, is that just reading about something, and learning it intellectually, would not transcribe into my body knowing what to do. It was very frustrating.

I think the lack of sleep is showing itself in this long, boring, rambling post!

Take it easy, take it easy
don't let the sound of your own
wheels make you crazy
~The Eagles

Monday, January 20, 2014

Almost Frigid

The days are passing quietly – I’ve almost completely hibernated, but in a contented way. There is a comfortable rhythm to my days: exercising, cooking, and puttering around the house.

I’ve been trying to get on the treadmill more consistently, with variable success. Carm was at his mom’s yesterday so I cued up the soundtrack for Les Miserables, and walked for 90 minutes (which was no small feat for me).

We do have a few minor happenings. Spike has been to the vet about his ear so we are trying some things. The poor guy has no hair left on one ear!

Another excitement? We bought a new fridge! Our current one is 18cf but with all the produce we eat we’ve been having to use the little bar fridge. As it turns out, they now make a deeper model that is 4cf bigger (and that will fit in the same constricted space). It is a bottom freezer model so hopefully we’ll have more luck seeing what’s in the back… We don’t get it for a week, but I’m excited to see how everything organizes. I foresee a trip to the dollar store for some containers to keep things from totally disappearing in the deep depths!

Now it is time to get the sewing machine out to start work on a new outfit for Kabira – this one with an extra layer for the especially cold nights. I have a list of other things I want to sew, but one thing at a time.


And finally Winter, with its bitin', whinin' wind, and all the land will be mantled with snow. ~Roy Bean

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Finding Nimo, errr, Velcro


There was a beautiful sunset last night – red clouds with flashes of blue sky. As I sat in the car enjoying it (I was the passenger!), I wondered if animals appreciate the beauty around them, or if we humans were the only ones to appreciate Natures gift?

You probably don’t remember, but several months ago I just about tore the house apart looking for something. I looked for HOURS, but to no avail. Yesterday, I went into the old bird room to look at some work Carm had done in there – I happened to glance down at the little table and… yes… THERE IT WAS!!! I have NO idea why it was there, it was the last place I would have put it. I figure that either we have a poltergeist, or I had it in my hand to put it away and something distracted me. And the crazy thing (as if there were just one!), I can’t even remember what I wanted it for!

Bjorn commented on a post the other day – oh, my NZ post – and mentioned that his 11 year old grandson has started reading Lord of the Rings, in English. Now that might not seem remarkable (although it is a young age to be reading it), but his grandson is Norwegian!

Jo Ellen and Don came by for supper the other night, bearing movies. Both movies were worth watching: Quartet, and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Even Carm enjoyed them, which was something as there was no killing or explosions, and probably no special effects either.

I got a lovely gift from JE&D, beautiful pink tulips. They bring the promise of spring into the house :-)

And speaking of spring, we are having a respite from the frigid cold these last few days. I hope it is enough to melt all the ice from the driveway (which I refuse to walk on), but I really doubt it. We had let a thick layer of snow build up to protect the gravel surface from the snowplough. It is nice not to freeze though.



Life isn't about finding yourself. It's about creating yourself. ~George Bernard Shaw

Friday, January 10, 2014

Long Ago and Far Away

A year ago today I was finished with all my running around with last preparations for my trip to New Zealand; I had packed ages before but was still loading up my suitcase with the last few ounces of treats.

No, I wasn’t there yet, but was well en-route. I believe I was still waiting around in Sydney, a 10 hour wait for my flight to Wellington. I was tired, but excited. It seems like longer ago, and yet just the other day. Isn’t time strange like that?

This Jan/Feb seems somewhat bleak, with just the incline on my treadmill to remind me of all the hills we climbed. No long visits with family. No wonderful trips through the NZ countryside. Ah well. Memories :-)

Archie was picked up yesterday and is back with his people. As soon as he was outside he made a bee-line for their car – no chance of Mike getting away without him! He was such a good houseguest, aside from leaving a shadow of himself wherever he went (hurrah for poodles!).


Remember what Bilbo used to say: It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.

~J.R.R. Tolkien

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Long, Quiet Stretches

I hadn’t been out of the house since before the new year, so it was strange to be in the car. The temps were in the mid negative teens (C), and the wind was howling so strongly that I had trouble with the gate. I was all for turning around and getting back inside the house, but it was Carm’s mom’s 86th birthday and we were taking her out for lunch. The local roads were ice covered, thankfully when we got onto the highway the going was almost ice-free.

His mom enjoyed her outing, and hopefully felt special – the staff at Swiss Chalet brought over a cake at the end of our meal, all singing and clapping.

We were right at Critter Jungle (pet store), so while Carm took his mom to the bank I deeked into CJ to look around. They had the cutest Sherpa lined sweatshirts for dogs, perfect for Kabira. The decision to get it didn’t take long (even though it cost a fortune)! Unfortunately when we tried it on her at home, it was too small. But it gave me an idea for making one like it – just need to get to the fabric store  (hummm, maybe a discount clothing store for a sweatshirt that I can modify).


Speaking of the dogs, Archie has settled in well, and our dogs have (mostly) stopped growling at him. Bella is rather protective of the kitchen. We’ve been just going out for quick business, but since today is much warmer we went out for a little walk in the hay field.

Spike went crazy, running top speed up to the far top corner (about 900ft), and then down and across the cow pasture. Part of his joy was having the “cone” off. He has been scratching at his ear and made it all scabby and even more itchy. I still had the cone from his neutering all those 5+ years ago (it sometimes pays not to throw things out!). He is SO good about getting it put on, and even comes over on his own volition when I pick it up to put it back on. He doesn’t seem to view it as a punishment, but just something that must be endured.



I’ve been back to healthy eating, which is going well. I’m still sticking with the weights and ab exercises – I can actually start to see definition in my arms (which is reasonably exciting for me). 

The other thing I’m doing is cutting out/down is caffeine – no more coffee, except decaf; just a cup of green tea; and the rest herbal tea. I picked up “Lemon Zinger” yesterday – yum.

There is some research to suggest that a plant based diet may help with mood disorders – good motivation to keep with the Eat to Live eating plan.

I’ve been reading the grammar book that Carm got me – I’m more confused than ever about punctuation! Please feel free to message me about any mistakes – you can be my professor, some of you might even be English teachers ;-) For instance, I’m pretty sure I got the punctuation wrong in the sentence about coffee/tea…

That’s all that’s new in 2014. I sure found lots to talk about even though nothing much is happening! I guess you are probably used to my babbling on though :-o


There is a privacy about it which no other season gives you...In spring, summer, and fall people sort of have an open season on each other; only in the winter, in the country, can you have longer, quiet stretches when you can savour belonging to yourself. ~Ruth Stout

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Happy New Year!

2014 started with bright sunny skies and temperatures around –25C. Burr! Global warming seems like a distant hope these last few days.


The night was celebrated with friends (Jo Ellen, Don, Cathey, Jim). At our advanced ages it seems impossible that we’ll make it to midnight without falling asleep. A late supper and a cup of coffee gave us a second wind so we made it to 12 and beyond. I don’t know how many years we’ve been hosting, but it has been a lot. And such grand memories - if I could actually remember ;-o




We have a house guest for the next several days. My friend Christina had to take a trip to Switzerland for family matters, and with the frigid temperatures in the forecast for the next several days, didn’t want to leave their dog, Archie, at the farm to freeze. I thought that Spike might be a problem, but he has actually been the best behaved of our bunch. Bella and Kabira bark and growl at him as he moves around the house. They are slowly getting better, but gosh, not very nice hosts. Archie is a gentle, old soul, so I don’t know what they’re problem is.

Archie lives on a dairy farm, and as such spends the majority of his time outside. That, combined with his limited exposure to other people’s houses made his first few hours here quite uncomfortable for him. We had to literally drag him into the house, and once inside he wouldn’t leave the front hall. After he had been here for a few hours we just dragged him into the rest of the house; once past the threshold he wandered around checking everything out. Surprisingly, once he was comfortable here, getting him back into the house after a trip outside was no longer a problem – he leads the way back to the door!

It has been a few days of firsts for him. Today he got a bath in the bathtub (he was pretty stinky). He stood like a gentleman while we lathered him up and rinsed him off. He was also happy to wear a big, puffy dog coat to go out later in the day. I can tell though, that he’d rather be home.

I’m not sure how my dogs would fare without us and in a strange place: I think Spike would be okay; Bella would adapt as long as she got lots of pets; Kabira would be a basket case.


In the bleak midwinter Frosty wind made moan, Earth stood hard as iron, Water like a stone; Snow had fallen, snow on snow, Snow on snow, In the bleak midwinter, Long ago. ~ Christina Rossetti (1830 - 1894), A Christmas Carol