Friday 29 July 2016

cake and sweet treats

I planted four zucchini plants in my garden. One died. Two shriveled up, but with lots of water, they are growing more leaves, although they still have a ways to go. The fourth zucchini plant thrived and is producing. So what's a girl to do? Make cake.

Four cups of shredded zucchini, along with some other ingredient are about to be mixed together.

I know a lot of people probably have online recipes and things saved in "favourites", but I'm still old fashioned. Even if I save a recipe from some place on the internet, if I like it, I will still write it up on a recipe card. I wish I could give credit to someone for this recipe, but I can't remember from where I got it.

I made it into two cakes this time, instead of one big 9 x 7 pan. I froze the little one to have on hand, just in case. This cake doesn't get iced. Cakes that you don't put icing on, and that you eat while still warm remind me of Duncan Hines Snack n Cakes. Do you remember those? My mother would keep one or two boxes on hand for a quick fix.

The cake ends up being pretty moist and dense. Without the chocolate chips, it would be rather boring and not too sweet at all, so I always add the chocolate chips. I remember my in-laws always saying about dessert, "Well, you wouldn't want it too sweet." And I would be thinking in my head, "Actually, that's exactly how you would want it. Isn't dessert supposed to be sweet??" Honestly, I don't think I've met a dessert that wasn't "too sweet"!!

I have a serious sweet tooth. My drug of choice is almost always chocolate, my favourite being chocolate covered almonds, or peanuts. The other night, we were in town because the husband and I had to look at some things at Home Depot for the bathroom that is now/still under construction (remember that??), and then he went to Princess Auto where he likes to be alone, so the kids and I went to a dollar store type place and got some treats. My son chose Nibs. If you don't know what Nibs are, they are little bite sized red pieces of licorice. But they taste like all of the most horrible cherry flavoured cough syrup moments you have ever had. He kept trying to tempt me to eat one. I can't even stand the smell of them. I told him I would only eat one if I was in a life and death situation, where I would most certainly die if I didn't eat one. Only then, would I eat a Nib.

It's funny how people have different tastes and preferences when it comes to treats and desserts. My daughter was remembering how when we were at my parents' home (Grandma and Grandpa) my father would offer them candy and she always wanted the blue one (and at this point, my son chimed in with the same sentiment) and she would always try it, and it would always be the same disappointment. She was talking about Licorice Allsorts, my father's favourite candy. The 'blue ones' were the little bead covered candies that were jellified licorice (i.e. black licorice flavour) on the inside. Both kids ended up laughing over that shared memory of childhood letdown. Oh, how they suffered...

Tuesday 26 July 2016

Around the Yard

Some people are griping about the heat, but honestly I would like to be able to soak it up and store it for January. I've been kind of a lazy blogger lately, not a great deal going on, so I thought I would just walk around the yard and see what's what. (How's that for excitement??)

First stop is the back porch where I have this planter filled with creeping jenny, fuschia, some sort of whispy white filler, and impatients. It is very soft and feminine. If you look past the porch, you can see the yellow crispy grass / weeds that is our lawn. We got rain a couple of nights ago which filled up the buckets under the downspouts, but wasn't enough to bring the lawn out of dormancy.

My little vegetable garden is coming along pretty well. I have used  soaker hoses, but had to narrow it down to just one because the other one blew a substantial hole in it. When a soaker hose has a big hole, the rest of the hose, farther down the line doesn't drip much water at all. I tried fixing the hole with $10 "super tape" (or whatever it was called) and the super tape was not so super. So far the only harvest I have had is one zucchini and one cucumber.

This cucumber plant is growing up my rabbit fence. The picture may not show it perfectly, but this cucumber is growing around the wire, with a dent in it.

Oh dear. That one seems to have been hiding on me. I don't usually like to wait until the zucchini are that big! Stuffed? Grate it for zucchini bread? I don't have one of those neat "spiralizer" gadgets that people now use because real spaghetti is the devil.  (Oh ya, on that note, no I am not gluten free anymore. The pain of inflammation is most definitely still there, gluten or no gluten.I think I just must have a broken tailbone that every medical professional seems to have missed, or maybe I am growing a tail...)

While I was out at my garden I heard a pitiful meow. That is Scooter in the bathroom window. I guess he was all done drinking from the toilet. (No, I don't condone this.)

One last vegetable garden shot. I have had the worst luck with tomatoes for the last two years, so it is wonderful that this year's crop seems to be doing fine and there is promise of lovely, warm, right off the vine tomatoes. (Husband and I could eat toasted tomato sandwiches 'til we scrape the skin right off the roofs of our mouths).

Next stop, the shed. These planters are doing very well. Creeping jenny is just so nice, isn't it? The window boxes were inspired by a trip to Prince Edward Island years ago. I saw so many pretty window boxes as well as shrub/ perennial borders. The cast iron urns (there is a matching one) are from ages ago and have had different locations on our property over the years.

Oh how I love crocosmia!! They look so exotic and tropical. They grow in a perennial bed that I call "the hot bed" because the colours are "hot" (oranges, reds, fuschias...) and it is showy at the hottest time of the summer (now).

This is part of the hot bed with daylilies and Echinacea. I love how the middle of the Echinacea (purple cone flower) matches the orange of the daylilies.

These are daylilies growing by a pale peachy coloured potentilla. I've thought many times of ripping that potentilla out because it is rather boring, but then it blooms and I just don't have the heart.

Here is a sad picture. This is one of our maple trees that we had planted several years ago. It is quite a big tree now, although it is hard to tell in the picture. It is dying. Barely any leaves came out in the spring and the ones that are there are drying up and dropping off the tree. We had this happen to another maple a few years ago. I don't know what's wrong, but it always makes me sad to lose a tree. The only thing I have noticed are a lot of chipmunk holes in the ground. Surely chipmunks cannot be responsible for killing a tree?!?

On a happier note, my pretty cherub planter is doing well beside the lichen covered bench. It is very close to the little arbour that is covered now with trumpet vine.

These are orange trumpet vine flowers (along with red begonia in the hanging pot and the last of the fluffy smoke bush). It took YEARS for this trumpet vine to actually bloom. My neighbour planted one and it is blooming profusely! Hers is more out in the open, so maybe sunlight is an issue.

We went into town to get a power adaptor/converter for when we go to England in August and changed some money over into pounds. Tonight my son's soccer team plays in a town about 40 minutes away, so we will have an early supper and head over there. Soccer goes from May until August. Those first few evening games in May are often a bit chilly and parents will wrap themselves in blankets, sitting on their lawn chairs to watch. Now when we watch home games, we are all wearing sunglasses, blinded by looking to the west as the sun beats down on the players, making sure everyone gets their water breaks. It's very enjoyable watching these games as they are age 16 and under players. There is a lot of skill and action to the games now. When our kids first started playing soccer at about four or five years of age, the players would run as a pack, or a swarm. My daughter picked clover and held hands with other little girl players as they ran down the field. It's a whole different game now, as many of the players are old enough to shave!!

I hope everyone is having a great July, and for us Canadians, don't complain about the heat. It will be winter soon enough!

Tuesday 19 July 2016

Just Hangin' A Round

This is what my daughter saw when she went to wash her hands in the bathroom yesterday.

Just in case you want to see it again...

Perfect fit.  (Purr-fect fit?)

Sunday 17 July 2016

A Week Without Gluten, How It's Going

Today marks a full week without gluten (knowingly, anyway). Quite frankly, I feel kinda gross. My stomach is protesting, I feel a bit nauseous, and yesterday I was sort of spinny and weird. (How's that for a specific description?) I have NO idea if this is what they call gluten detoxing or not. It could just be some virus, or it could be my body feeling the ramifications of no gluten.

Rice cakes and I are good friends. I did have oatmeal with berries and yogurt, but it did not specifically say it was processed in a wheat free facility. That would probably cost me an extra $5.00! Because I am not dealing with celiac disease, I can live with the legal disclaimer of "may contain wheat". I have not had a single piece of bread, bun, muffin, pasta, or bowl of regular cereal. My gluten free birthday cake was lovely. We've been eating our way through it for the last couple of days. When I am at home, it is not difficult to be gluten free.

It was a little different, however, when a friend of mine took me out for lunch. There were so many wonderful meal choices that involved a bun, a slice of bread, pasta, or even a bit of gravy (I was contemplating the pulled pork, but it was served with gravy and cheese curds and I figured the gravy was thickened with wheat flour). Instead I had white fish and risotto. My friend had macaroni and cheese with bacon served in a little cast iron skillet.

I do not feel any more energetic, I have no change with joint pain, and I haven't lost any weight (but the extra birthday wine and cake certainly wouldn't allow for that). I am going to go for one more full week without gluten and then decide if it is worth it for me. The turmeric which I have incorporated into my supplements hasn't helped with the joint pain, either, but I am willing to keep that up until the bottle is empty.

I have never felt that gluten caused me any digestive distress, so I wasn't expecting any changes with that (even though now my stomach hurts when I eat!), but I was hoping to feel a bit more energetic and just overall "well". I also believe it is too soon to fully assess, so I will continue. Anybody out there try to go gluten free and have similar (or different) experiences?

Saturday 16 July 2016

Half a Century

Yesterday I turned half a century old. I don't hide my age from anyone. My birthday was very low key, and that was the way I wanted it. When I woke up and came downstairs (I was the first one up, as always) I saw that the kitchen had been decorated with streamers and a banner and large pink pom poms. This was the work of my daughter.

A good friend of mine arranged the day before to take me out to lunch, so we went to a nice place and had a good catching up session. When I got home, there were cards and both kids were up and around. We then went to a local winery where we tasted a few samples and bought a bottle of wine and a bottle of cider made from apples, pears, and grapes.

Then at home, husband made supper for me (chicken and mixed vegetables with feta cheese over rice - remember I am still gluten free) and then we had this:

My husband arranged for a gluten free cake to be made and it was delicious! It was moist and flavourful, not dry and crumbly like many gluten free products are.

You may be thinking, "That poor woman, her fiftieth birthday and no party, no presents, nothing exciting going on, what a horrible family she must have." But, first of all, I HATE being the centre of attention. I cringe at the thought of being at a restaurant where the wait staff comes out and claps and sings some stupid birthday song while a sparkler sizzles away on top of a cupcake and all the people in the restaurant are watching. Secondly, I specifically told my family not to do anything like a party. Thirdly, I WILL be celebrating my 50th, as well as our 25th wedding anniversary (which is the 20th of this month) and also my husband's 52nd birthday which is in August because... we are going on a trip this summer!!

It is exceedingly hard for me to spend large (or small, for that matter) amounts of money, so this decision did not come easily, but I decided (and hubby) to go to England this summer for a week. In August we are going to visit the Costwolds and do all things quaint and quintessentially English. My husband has been to England a few times because his grandmother lived there for many years. I have never been. We booked the flight just a couple of days ago, and so now that we know when we are going, we can book where we are going to stay. I think maybe a couple of different places, but I don't know if we will go with a B and B, a rental place with its own kitchen facility, or some kind of inn or hotel. We are going to rent a car (that is the thing that TERRIFIES me, that hubby will be driving this car from the airport in Gatwick to wherever we are staying, with the steering wheel on the opposite side, and driving on the other side of the road!!)

I know that some of the people who read my blog are from England, so if they have any suggestions about places to stay, or things to do, I welcome them!

Now, concerning becoming half a century old: I honestly don't feel like I am any wiser or more knowledgeable than I was twenty years ago. I don't think I look fifty (whatever that looks like!) I would however, like to physically feel less than fifty, but that is all down to my back which still hurts like the devil every night (gluten doesn't seem to be the answer either). But the one thing that I have learned over the course of fifty years is that this too shall pass. Every difficult, scary, frustrating, painful, agonizing, stressful thing that I have had to deal with has always worked itself out eventually and nothing is permanent. So I know that my back issues will subside somehow and I will be able to look back at this and shake my head and be glad it is over with. I now also know, concerning making decisions such as travel, that I need to adopt an "if not now, then when?" attitude.

One thing that frustrates me about the generation of young people coming up is their inability to endure delayed gratification. They want it and they want it now. (Yes, I am generalizing here). Husband and I certainly didn't rush out and buy our first house and lease a brand new car and go on a fancy honeymoon right away because we weren't financially able. But I hear of more and more young people who get everything they want right away and don't worry about whether they actually should be treating themselves to these luxuries. We are a country of people wallowing in debt because "they deserve it".

My husband and I have worked in our professions for over 25 years each and are now at a stage (balanced with assisting our children with their post-secondary educations) where we are able to treat ourselves to what we deserve. We are still doing this in a sensible, cost effective way, but we know there will still be another pay check next week. We owe nothing on our vehicles, I buy no-name products at the grocery store, and I colour my own hair!! (Ha, so there!) It even took me until just this year to get an iPhone! (Last person on the planet, I swear!) So, this is the year I fly across the ocean to see pretty cottages and quaint villages and tons of history in the Cotswolds and we celebrate our birthdays and anniversary at the same time. Fish and chips, here I come!

Wednesday 13 July 2016

Wed. July 13

I'm still wiping the sleep out of my eyes as I type this. Yesterday we headed over to a soccer field about an hour and a half away (how are they even part of our league??). Our son drove the "new" third vehicle and did very well. Husband sat in the back seat and I sat in the front because he has a hard time not saying things and really doesn't like it when somebody else is driving (including me!). The game was very good, but I wasn't paying close attention because I was talking to some of the other parents. One parent I have known for a  long time. She is interesting and informative. Both she and her husband were born in Holland and they have worked very hard to establish a large pig operation here and are successful farmers. The parent to the other side of me belongs to a religion where the women are required to wear long skirts all the time. I was constantly surprised at how uninformed she was of very basic, simple things in life. I did not have much in common with her. She spoke of how she didn't want her children to grow up and she wanted to live with them when they grew up. I couldn't hold my tongue and told her that it is important to let our children live their lives and become independent people with self-confidence enough to go out and become individuals in the world. I am not big on naivete and ignorance and I found it all a bit grating.

It has been incredibly hot here. I like hot. I don't complain about it because it is so infrequent. I also remember winter and what it feels like and I'd take hot any day. The lawn is crunchy and dormant. I water my planters and hanging pots daily. I have soaker hoses set up in my little vegetable garden. I don't bother to water my big flower beds. That would be a never ending job, so my perennials and shrubs just tough it out.

In bloom at the moment: spirea, hollyhoks, delphiniums, hydrangea, unnamed tall  yellow flower?
My front bed has become quite overgrown. There is actually a path that runs through it, but you can't really see it at the moment.

This plant is in a different bed. I do not know its name, but it is doing very well and puts on a nice show right now. It is a tall plant, generally over three feet in height.

I love this daylily. I'd have to go look up the name, can't recall at the moment.

How goes my gluten free world? Pretty good so far. The pain in my hips was quite diminished two nights ago, but I still have considerable pain in my tailbone region and am very stiff and sore when I wake up. I would not say that I have noticed significant changes yet. Here is a cereal which I bought. It is o.k. The flavor and texture reminds me of Captain Crunch cereal from my youth ( I was allowed to eat all kinds of junk as a child). It is specifically labeled gluten free. I probably wouldn't buy it otherwise, as there are other cereals which I much prefer.

Today has nothing special in store. I have been procrastinating painting the den. It needs a new paint job and the three cans of paint have already been purchased. I'm just being a bit lazy. Maybe I will wait for this heat wave to pass... but I'm not complaining.

Monday 11 July 2016

First gluten free shopping trip

I didn't go shopping this weekend, which is usually when I do my shopping, so I went today. I kept a list handy of all things which mean gluten in my purse so I could whip it out and check as I read lists of ingredients (after I rummaged around to find my reading glasses... ohmygod I sound old). Here's what I discovered:
-it wasn't too tough to find things that didn't have gluten (salad dressing, yogurt, meat, cereal (Cheerios!!), cheese, eggs, all fruits and veggies, rice cakes)
-it is ridiculous to buy gluten free bread or hamburger buns because of the cost (aprx. $5.00 for four buns!!)
-I can't read anything without my reading glasses
-if I was someone who relied on ready-made food, rather than making many things from scratch, this would be a much harder endevour

I will not be eating gluten free bread, cookies, buns, or cake. For this experimental time, I will just forego. I am the one making the burgers anyway. I'll just make them without bread crumbs this time and I'll have mine without the bun. I'll just take extra salad. I saw something where people use giant Portobello mushrooms as buns. Uhhh, no. That's not a bun. Gross. You'd get that squidgy mushroom sensation every time you bit into it. Blechhhh!

My family is not going gluten free, just me. So I will cook as usual, unless it is pasta. Gluten free pasta is good enough that everyone will enjoy it. Otherwise, I will just have alternatives for myself. My latest go-to lunch / snack has been avocado smushed up, diced up tomato, a sprinkling of seasalt and a big squeeze of lime juice. (Stole the idea from a coworker). I've been spreading it on triscuit crackers. Now I'll just spread it on rice cakes. No biggy.

Here's what we had for dessert last night (and we often don't even have dessert): pineapple slices grilled on the barbecue with some brown sugar sprinkled on them as you grill them. Yumm! They are also very good with vanilla ice cream.
grilled pineapple

Observations: pain still there, no extra energy, feel the same

Onward I go.

Sunday 10 July 2016

Jumping (make that carefully, easing my way up) on the Gluten Free Bandwagon

A while ago I posted about having my thyroid levels tested to see if that was responsible for my aches and pains. You can read about it here. I described my burning, aching lower back and hips (at night, when lying flat on my back), as well as shoulder pain. The shoulder pain is now gone, but the night time pain continues. My feet are also painful to walk on and I feel like I have lost a lot of strength.

In an attempt to deal with the pain I have done the following:
                 Round 1: chiropractor adjustments
                 Round 2: really intense massage therapy
                 Round 3: specific stretching and foam roller therapy
                 Round 4: physiotherapy
                 Round 5: turmeric supplementation (specifically curcurmin which is the active ingredient)
                 Round 6: all kinds of pain meds, ibuprofen, naproxen...
                 Round 7: recently increased my exercise level- daily

I went to my doctor and described my pain (again). I had already had an ultrasound to eliminate scary things like ovarian cancer (that doesn't make you think unimaginable thoughts, does it?) I had already had my blood work done for thyroid and it came back normal. He also said that my hormone levels came back normal which I absolutely do not believe at all due to what my body has been doing (or not doing) now for months. However, my blood work did show elevated levels of inflammation, so I am off to see a rheumatologist in September (that only took six months!) to check for... get this... lupus or anklyo spondolitis (likely spelled that completely wrong), two autoimmune diseases which could cause the same pain I have been experiencing. I have been reading up on both of those conditions, and I am not convinced I have either one. I do not experience any of the other symptoms, and if I had that anklyo...whatever I would likely have been diagnosed at a much younger age. I have since asked for my B12 levels to also be checked and no doubt I will be told they are "normal".

So here is my next kick at the can. I am going to try going gluten free. I know, I know... it's the latest trend, along with paleo this and essential oil that. I also know that if you keep searching on the internet you will find whatever answer you are hoping to find. Honestly though, I really did find an awful lot of comments from people (often on blogs, not representing any particular organization or product) saying how their inflammation and painful joints went away, sometimes surprisingly quickly, after stopping gluten.

I think it is much easier to go gluten free in today's world. There are so many other options. I know myself, though. I start things out with an amazingly positive "go get em tiger!" attitude. I record things, I research things, I am absolutely 100 % committed... and then I'm not. That is why I am making myself accountable out there on the "interwebs" because the only other thing that works even better for me is guilt. I will guilt myself into posting about my journey and the results. I am just hoping (seriously hoping) that this will be the "ticket". I don't think a 49 year old otherwise healthy woman should be in this much pain and hobbling slowly around every morning until the pain eases up and I feel "normal" again, only to be repeated the following night.

I swear I will not post every scrap of food I shove in my mouth. If I find an alternative product that is any good, I'll let you know. If I find something that tastes like cardboard, I'll let you know. And if I find that my pain is disappearing, I'll let the world know!! And if this is all too depressing, I can take solace in the fact that wine is gluten free!

Wednesday 6 July 2016

First Cars

Tomorrow we are taking possession of a "third car". Now that we will have four drivers in our family with only two vehicles, we decided that sharing driving would become a royal pain. The car we purchased is not luxury by any means, but it is much better than I imagined a third car to be. We warned both kids that if we were to get a third vehicle it would not be anything fancy. It might be showing its age with the odd ding or dent. It would not have the bells and whistles of a newer vehicle, and it most definitely would not be their car. It would be our car that they could use.

As it turned out, we got a fantastic deal on a car, 2006 Hyundai Sonota, in great condition, certified. The family from which we are buying it is actually moving out of the country and they have been systematically selling off many of their possessions in preparation of the move. Our big expense in all of this will undoubtedly be the insurance.

My husband had been looking online for used Crown Victorias which were previously police vehicles. He claimed they would be perfectly maintained. I thought it would look like a land yacht. I was very glad when this car became available.

This has all made me think of the first vehicles that I drove. When I was living at home, I was permitted to use the giant yellow Oldsmobile. I was slightly embarrassed by it, but beggers can't be choosers. My father only ever drove big cars, almost always Oldsmobiles. He did all of his own maintenance and work. An unfortunate day was when he discovered stick on "racing stripes". For a while we had skinny brown stripes that ran along the sides of another yellow Oldsmobile. My mother died a thousand silent deaths when he later decided that he should glue fake fur to the aging seats. We never had a new car. My parents just weren't financially able to afford such luxury. My father no doubt saved a ton of money by doing his own body work and maintenance. I have fond memories of gathering up little piles of body filler shavings (can still remember the smell) and using them for snow for my little plastic animals in the drive way.

Later, when I was finishing my degree and heading off for a year at a university in another province, I purchased my first car. It was a Chevy Sprint. They do not make them anymore. It had three cylinders and was small and red. I used it to drive from Ontario to Nova Scotia. I'm pretty sure my mother thought I would die in it. She was so worried about me driving all that distance on my own, she said I should dress up a stuffed dummy in the seat beside me so people didn't think I was a girl travelling alone. (I did not).

-an image I grabbed off the internet, not actually my car, but just as attractive

They say men marry their mothers, women marry their fathers. I'm not sure this is entirely true, but my husband also does much of his own maintenance and work on our vehicles. He has three "project cars" that he envisions being able to drive in the future. He is forever scouring the internet for parts, as well as harvesting parts from his project cars and selling them to other car guys. My son has shown no interest in learning how to tinker with cars. That may or may not change as he gets older.

One of my husband's first cars was a burgundy Volvo that was the family car. This was the car he "courted" me with. Nothing says sexy like a boxy Volvo!! Later, when he also attended a university far away, he drove a pea soup green Volkswagon Rabbit with one black fender. It had holes in the floorboard so bad that I got splashed while I was a passenger inside the car! At the end, my father suggested that it be driven back to the bush and shot to put it out of its misery.

What was your first vehicle that you drove? Was it a flashy muscle car, the family stationwagon, or something held together with duct tape and wire?

Monday 4 July 2016

turmeric tea and smokin' hot smoke bush

Good morning. Sometimes when I post comments on other people's blogs I see that the time stamp is insanely wrong. I really do not stay up until 3:00 in the morning reading blogs, or writing them. Obviously, long ago when I started my blog I entered the wrong time zone, or didn't even look at the time zone. In reality, it is currently 10:43 a.m. I am on my summer holidays and happy as a clam about it. The sun is gloriously hot and it looks, smells, and sounds like summer. (Canadians really appreciate summer!)

On a side note, have you ever noticed that as soon as you get the fly swatter, the annoying insect that you are determined to kill disappears? There has been a big wasp buzzing around me and now that I have gotten up, gone in the house, found the fly swatter, it is nowhere to be found.

Next side note, I got the wasp.

I am on my porch, but I am not having "coffee on my porch". I already had my coffee hours ago. Right now I am having turmeric tea. Apparently turmeric is good for everything from pain to preventing alzheimers. Why am I drinking it? Well, nobody wants to hear a list of physical complaints from anyone, but long story short, I have been fighting lower back pain / hip pain at night for MONTHS and have pursued everything from chiro., to physio, to massage therapy, to yoga and no change yet. In fact, it's getting worse. I am due to see a rheumatologist but not until September. I read about turmeric and its anti-inflammatory properties. I am not sure why I think a teaspoon of yellow powder will work where ibuprofen has not,  but at this point, I am willing to try anything.

You might think, "turmeric tea... ew gross", but actually it is quite lovely. I boiled up some cinnamon, a little ginger, turmeric, and tiny dash of black pepper with water. Then for an added measure of that-which-is-the-latest-greatest-cure-all, added a spoonful of coconut oil. I strained the whole lot, stirred in a little honey and milk, and Bob's your uncle. It mostly tastes like cinnamon, which I love, so I enjoy it. And as with every new thing I try, I am expecting results by tomorrow!!

No more belly aching now. Instead, I am going to show you my smokin' hot smoke bush. This is a shrub that my mother gave to me years and years ago. It was small and straggly. She purchased it when a small greenhouse was going out of business close to where she lived. I planted it in the corner of the property and since then it has grown like a weed. I have chopped it back a number of times and  it grew fuller and more amazing. Right now it is in its glory.

My mother died a few years back and her last several years were trying for her and for all of us. Gardening, and preserving are two areas that I feel a connection to her. There are other connections that I have fought and resisted as I have journeyed through adulthood. This smoke bush is a good connection, so I am glad that it lives on so well.

Saturday 2 July 2016

Canada Day... polite and apologetic

Yesterday was Canada Day. It was a rainy cool day made brighter by my sister coming for a visit and an invite for a get-together from friends.

My sister's boyfriend was away at a friend's cottage, so she decided to come for a visit and then would be driving to meet her boyfriend at the cottage later. We desperately needed rain and boy, did we get it! Today, things already look greener and perkier. We just had a nice day at home and we made another strawberry, rhubarb pie!

In the evening, we went to friends' where we enjoyed munchies (ribs made in the smoker for a "snack"), and wonderful fireworks. We have spent other Canada Day evenings on their covered back porch watching the guys set up the fireworks and the kids bouncing around on the trampoline having some laughs. While others go camping or go to a cottage for Canada Day, we tend to stay closer to home.

I love being a Canadian. I know nothing different. I am proud of Canada's reputation in the world. Apparently many people think that Canadians are polite and tend to say "sorry" for everything. I probably fall into that category.

 I have been amused over the years when I have met people from other countries who say they know someone in Canada, and do I know them? I live in a big country. My province alone is the size of some countries. But I have smiled and asked, "Oh, where do they live?" 'Cuz you never know, maybe I do actually know them!

However, I do not watch hockey, I do not say "eh", nor do I say "aboot" instead of "about". I do not particularly like Tim Horton's coffee, moose do not walk through our neighbourhood, and I spell these words correctly:  colour, programme, centre.