Reading List 2021

Friday, 26 February 2021

Firsts and Lasts

First:  Today I saw the sun. It was glorious. It's the first time we've had lovely, continuous sun through the day. That doesn't mean it isn't still cold because it is, and the giant snowballs that the kids rolled on the yard earlier in the week froze into solid mountains of ice, but when the sun glinted off them, it looked beautiful. 

Last: I completed, signed, and gave out my last set of report cards this week. There should have been fireworks, or music, or at least a toast. There were none of those things, but it is all very surreal and real at the same time. I have no idea how many report cards I have written and signed over the years. The year I started teaching, we actually hand wrote them. The following year, we were introduced to typing them up ourselves. Now of course, it is a report card programme that we use, which isn't without faults and issues, and which really doesn't mean that you aren't spending hours and hours marking and creating comments and agonizing over a B or a B-. 

First: I made my first batch of cinnamon rolls a little while ago. I was determined to conquer my fear of all things "yeast". I've always thought proofing and rolling and kneading and allowing to rise and then punch down and rise again was all far too much trouble and beyond my capabilities. Here's how the whole thing panned out (ha ha!):









Verdict? Edible, but not pull-apart soft and heavenly. I didn't take a picture of them smothered in a cream cheese icing, but that made them much more enjoyable. I think practise will make perfect and I am not there yet. Don't know if I want to dedicate a big portion of my life to learning to make these when commercial bakeries seem to have the whole thing down pat!

Last: I've been watching the new version of All Creatures Great and Small and the last episode (for this season) aired this past week. I think they chose a great "Tristan". I've read all of the books, and enjoyed the earlier series and thought the casting was great then, too. Of course, I love all things involving farm animals and beautiful scenery. 

First: I chose a date on which to retire. The date I chose was March 19th. I thought I was being very clever, because March 19th is the Friday of the March Break. March Break is a week's holiday from school and teaching that happens every year in the middle week of March, usually including St. Patrick's Day. I thought it would be a perfect time to take my leave - the students would have been away from me for a week anyway, so a good time for a new teacher to step in, as well, I would still be earning money and not having to teach that week. Why is this categorized as a "first"? For the first time in the 31 years that I have been teaching, March Break is cancelled. The Ontario government and his royal tight-pantness Stephen Lecce, the minister of education, decided that it would be best if we do not have a week off in March for fear that people suddenly converge together and cause another spike in the virus. He decided to move it to April, when everyone is likely going to get together for Easter anyway. So yes, in this already surreal year, we've added a cancellation (well, technically a delay) of March Break. 

Last: This is the last puzzle I will borrow and complete from the puzzles that my colleagues have brought in for all of us to share during these times. It was pretty tough, but I'm glad I finished. 




To wrap up my post today, I shall provide you with not a first, not a last, but a constant. Here is Scooter-the-cat-with-no-tail in his usual position. As he breathed in his coma-like state, his back legs would pulsate up and down. Oh, to be that relaxed.



Monday, 22 February 2021

Mundane Monday - February 22, 2021

                source


 I was reading Joanne's post about purchasing a new pillow and the quest to find a good one. Well, there's nothing more mundane than sleeping (unless of course you suffer from lack of sleep, in which case sleeping would be a cause to celebrate). I thought I would pose a series of sleep questions today and see what the turnout is like.

1. Do you sleep on the right side of the bed, or the left? (From the perspective of being in the bed) Or do you have a bed to yourself, in which case, do you keep to one side or the other, or do you take full advantage of the space?

2. Do you use one pillow or two, or more?

3. Are you a sound sleeper, or do you wake a couple of times through the night (or more)?

4. Do you dream (or maybe I should ask, do you remember your dreams) ?

5. Do you have a source of sleep disturbances (e.g. a snoring partner, an obnoxious cat, the neighbour's barking dog, the snowplow)?


I shall begin the proceedings.

1. I sleep on the left hand side of the bed.

2. I use two pillows, but they are both rather soft and flat.

3. This is a tough one to answer because it has really depended on what stage I've been or what's been happening in my life. When our children were very young, I swear I could hear them shifting in their cribs and I'd be aware of any noise they made. When I was going through what felt like five years of perimenopause I was awake more than I was asleep. Now, I would say I am a pretty sound sleeper, until husband starts in on the "big snores". 

4. I used to remember my dreams vividly. I still am aware of dreaming, but tend to forget the details upon waking. About a year ago, when Covid first hit, I had some pretty disturbing dreams and was interested to find out I was definitely not the only one.

5. Early morning snowplows wake me up because we are on a dead-end road and the snowplow roars in front of our house, beeps on its way backing up, roars up a second time and beeps backing up again. Husband has become a snorer, so that can be a sleep disturbance as well. Sometimes our cats over the years have felt the need to wake me shortly after 6:00 a.m. on the weekend because they think I'm dead.


I look forward to hearing about your sleeping habits! 

Monday, 15 February 2021

Mundane Monday Feb. 15, 2021

 Happy post-Valentines Day. Happy Family Day today. It is a holiday here. In honour of Family Day, the theme of Mundane Monday is birth order and family size.









I'll start. I am the youngest of four. I have two older brothers and one older sister. We are all spread quite far apart in age, with gaps of 4, or 5 years between us. I do not have the sibling rivalry memories that others may have. My oldest brother and I are thirteen years apart, so for much of my childhood, he wasn't even living in the same house because he was away at university or working. I was the flower girl in his wedding. 

Do I feel I had advantages to being the youngest? I am honestly not sure, because I think my parents were much different parents by the time I was an adolescent, or older teen. I don't really even know what my two oldest siblings' childhoods were like, as I didn't yet exist, or I was too young to remember. 


Where are you in the birth order of things? Do you have siblings? Do you come from a large family, or are you an only child?








Sunday, 7 February 2021

Mundane Monday (Feb. 8 /21)

 Today's topic: blue jeans


My "children" have been doing their own laundry since, I don't know when, maybe their early teens? It's a skill all kids need. When my daughter was a Don as university, one of the biggest (besides vaping in the residences and setting off smoke alarms) problems was university students leaving home and not knowing how to work a washing machine. It boggles the mind. 

But I digress... as I was saying, my son always does his own laundry, but this morning as he was sleeping in (because he landed a construction job for now, while he waits on being able to go back to his college programme full time - yay!!, and gets up very early), I took his laundry out of the dryer because I wanted to put a load in, and I thought I'd be a nice mom and fold his clothes for him. I don't usually. He will thank me when he notices. 

So, here's a pair of his jeans:


The faded wrinkles and the multiple rips are on purpose. He bought them like this, but the knee has ripped out considerably more. 



He is 21. This is what 21-year olds wear. It is normal. They likely cost about $80 or more. I don't know for sure.

I am more impressed by this pair of his pants:


These pants got like this through hard work and they'll never come clean.


Getting back to blue jeans, I owned many "styles" over the years, acid wash (ahh, the eighties, sigh), painter pants, Levis, skin tight, "mom" jeans, low rise, straight leg, stretch... but I've never been one to spend a big chunk of money on the desired name brand. I can't conceive of spending more than $100 on a pair of jeans, but I guess if you wear them frequently, it might be worth it. 

I still wear jeans and like how they feel. I've "grown" out of some, lost enough weight to fit back into them, and was sad when I had to throw some out. One of my favourite pairs of jeans was a very old pair of Levis that were originally husband's back in the days when he was "svelt". I loved them. They were worn out in just the right places, they were trendy at the time, they looked great with a belt, and I was in a rather "svelt" phase myself at the time. Alas, the rear end eventually rippped right out, so they ended up getting tossed. 

Here are the topics of discussion:

1. Do you still wear jeans?

2. If you do, do you have a favourite pair? Why are they your favourite?

3. Have you ever spent "a lot" of money on a pair of jeans?

4. Any other blue jean memory or opinion you want to add?


Thanks for taking part in Mundane Monday!

Tuesday, 2 February 2021

Join in the Mundane

 A lot of us have mentioned not having a whole lot to blog about lately (heavens knows why), so I've decided to embrace it. I literally had this thought while I was standing at the sink peeling potatoes. One time, many years ago, while I was standing at the same sink peeling potatoes for some sort of gathering that I was hosting, I was brushed aside by another woman (no, sister, it wasn't you!) who grasped the potato from my hands and started to peel, as if I wasn't fast enough or good enough. It bugged the hell out of me, because I do just fine, thank you, but hey, if you want to do this so I can go do something else, have at it!

This memory then led to this post idea. The mundane theme of the day is peeling potatoes. 

A pot of potatoes waiting to be boiled, then mashed with nothing special except a blog of margarine, a little milk and some salt. I don't even love mashed potatoes, but they are a good filler.

Time to weigh in on two questions:

1. With what do you peel your potatoes? 

a)


b)


c) 



2. In which direction do you peel your potatoes?

a) toward you

b) away from you

Thank you for participating in my first ever "Mundane" post. I'm sensing a "Mundane Monday" trend about to happen! 

(Please note the use of Joanne's towel for my display photos!)
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
My own answers would be 1. a) the standard old-fashioned peeler because it is smooth and you can jab that little end into the potato to dig out the "eyes"
2. b) away from me
Riveting!


Sunday, 31 January 2021

Procrastination Post - a Collection of Funnies

 My grandmother called the comic section of the newspaper, the "funnies". Can anyone relate?


I am currently (well, not currently, because I'm currently typing this) working on my very last set of report cards ever on a new report card programme about a new math curriculum deciding if I should be including the new online learning from this past month. Fun and games. 

Which is, of course, why I just spent the last twenty minutes or so clicking around Pinterest. 

Now I shall share the funnies I found. The references may or may not get lost on you depending on if you are anywhere close to my generation, or if you watched the same stuff I did. (And depending on if you actually find it funny or not). Here goes:









I cannot believe the month of January is pretty much done. I spent most of it in a chair in my living room attached to my laptop. I think the fitbit that my kids bought me for Christmas thought I was dead. Well, onward to groundhog day and valentine's day and family day, all probably virtual. With the Covid weight I've applied to my body, I'm probably best without Valentine day chocolates anyway. 


Have a good week, all!

Sunday, 24 January 2021

Perfect Gift Ideas for Any Animal Lover in your Life

 Being stuck in your house (sheltering at home) means it is harder to see your loved ones, get out and buy gifts, and it also means that your pets become your best buds (even more so than they already were). 

This past Christmas, I gave two incredible gifts to the long time boyfriend / girlfriend of our two children. I am kicking myself for not having taken pictures, but I asked my talented sister, Jade, to paint the portraits of Tiger (a cat, obviously, not an actual Tiger because we all know how that ends up!), Maeve (a cat) and Tanner (a dog). The recipients were thrilled with the paintings and I am told they now take up special places of honour in their homes. 

My sister didn't just paint them for fun, it is her actual business and she's great at it. You can check out her website here and see for yourself! 

I've shown you her work before, but it bears repeating. These are our cats, past and present.


This one is Scooter (the cat-with-no-tail).


He is "unique", or "challenged" as we like to say. Won't use kitty litter, sleeps on smooth surfaces only, meows like a three pack a day smoker, and has only recently decided that it is o.k. to jump up on your lap for brief moments. But we love him for all of his oddities. This is the actual Scooter wearing his Christmas ruff (which incidentally, my sister sews herself and sells on her website).


You can see how she captured his wide-eyed innocence and quirky nature in the painting.


This is our beloved Samson.


He was one in a million as brown tabbies often are. He was the calm intelligence in the cat family. A handsome, perfectly symmetrical boy, he looked to Scooter as a project he couldn't train. Sammy was cool. Just cool. He was the Steve McQueen of cats. We lost him a year ago in November. We still miss him.


The three cats in the middle collection are cats who have also passed on. 


From left to right, Kitty, Nelly, and Boots. Yes, I know the names are on the paintings as well, and I like that she does that. Kitty was my first cat as an adult living on my own, in my first year of teaching. I wasn't married yet and husband was away at school in another country! She and I were each others' company. Every day when I came home from work and opened the door of my undesirable two story walk up apartment, she would greet me with all of her cat toys laid out on the floor. She lived to the ripe old age of seventeen and was a beloved member of our family. 

Next was Nelly, small in stature, big in personality. She was a "talker", entering a room meowing and answering all of your questions. Her biggest joy was a sick human, so she could curl up on your blanket and not leave your side for hours on end. She had an enormous purr. She lived to be nineteen years. 

Boots was our second cat, the first one purchased by both husband and I in our first year of marriage. He was more dog than cat. I have no idea if he actually was a Maine Coon cat, but he fit all the descriptions. He fetched toys, came when you called, had enormous paws, and I'm pretty sure was able to say "Mama" when we encouraged him. He died early from kidney problems. He and Kitty were best friends.

I really cherish these paintings because they are grouped together and when I look at them, I think back fondly to family memories because of course, our pets are part of our family. 


Mother's Day is coming up (for us, in early May), birthdays, or just a "thinking of you" present to those elderly parents who are sheltering at home and have had special pets in their past. I can't think of a more unique, special gift to give. My sister can do it all from a photograph emailed to her. She gives all the instructions on her site. For the horsey set in your world (and come on, they LOVE their horses), she also does paintings of horses, dogs, even a gecko! 

Check her out at Abstract Pet or maybe suggest her to someone else. Thanks for letting me shamelessly promote my only sister. (I have brothers, too, but they don't paint pets -haha!)