Thursday 29 September 2016

What I would tell my young self

If I could go back and impart knowledge on my young self, what would I say? What would I tell my young self to have an even better life?

1. Stop trying so hard getting people to like you. My early adolescent years were spent trying to be "part of the group". I wanted to be accepted and liked and to have people want to include me. Those same people (mostly girls) that I thought were so popular and important and wonderful are no longer part of my life. I don't use Facebook, so I have absolutely no idea what happened to them or the kinds of people they turned out to be as adults. I don't miss them and in fact I never think of them.

2. Be more comfortable in your own skin. Like many girls, there was a list of physical things that I did not like about myself. The bump on my nose, my big front teeth, my long feet, my this, my that. The piece by piece scrutiny did little for my self esteem and caused me to wish for differences over which I had little or no control. I would tell my young self that NOBODY cared. If I spent more time just having a good time rather than worrying about looks or proportions or comparing myself to others who were completely different body types than me, I would have had a much more enjoyable adolescence.  We are a whole package, not a collection of parts.

3. Don't be embarrassed by your abilities and successes. I was raised to be humble, not boast, not draw attention to myself. I downplayed getting good grades, or being able to draw well, or excel at public speaking, or any number of things. I received little or no praise from my parents who had already raised three other children by the time I came along and were actually probably too old to have the energy to put into raising another. I would tell my young self that I was actually smart and good and talented and that it was o.k. to be proud of myself.

4. Have more fun. I was a serious child, somewhat shy and cautious. I've never wanted to look like a fool. I spent a fair amount of time around adults or just playing on my own. I would tell my young self to throw caution to the wind and just have a blast, learn to laugh at myself, take chances, don't care what anyone thinks and just have fun. Pure unadulterated joy -- that is what I would recommend, no matter how silly or foolish it might seem.

To sum it up, I would quote Bill Murray in "Meatballs", "It just doesn't matter! It just doesn't matter! It just doesn't matter!"


Do you have anything you wish you could tell your young self?

Sunday 25 September 2016


Why can't people just contain their dogs?

I have started walking outside instead of on the treadmill. Our treadmill has to be at least fifteen years old. It was a really good treadmill with lots of settings and a great incline. It is showing its age. The belt has become all wrinkly which poses all kinds of hazards. It is also making ominous squeaking noises. No doubt a new belt could be ordered and husband could disassemble it and figure out which parts need dealing with, but I don't want to bug him with it because he has been closing the pool and dealing with outdoor stuff, as well as the bathroom reno.

And so I walk outside. Here is something you may not know about me. I am VERY fearful of dogs. This stems from being eight years old and having my uncle's border collie "attack" me. I wasn't bitten but it was terrifying all the same. The only dogs I am not afraid of are those which belong to friends and are known to be gentle. Even then I think, "Don't look at it in a funny way. They smell fear!"

 My walking route is determined by dogs. I don't walk the way I would like to go to the east because the people at the farm to the left do not keep their dog on a leash and it is known to be "snappy".  I only go so far to the west or I would have to walk by a house that has a collie mix who is never leashed. It is a great life for that dog, not being on some sort of chain. I think she is a gentle dog, I just don't want to be that one exception where she decides she doesn't like someone walking past her lane.

I don't walk around a certain block because the weird guy who just drives around the village in his van (again and again and again) lets his German Shepherd sit outside his little house untied. This is what it looks like:

But in my mind, this is what I see:

I don't know if it is a territorial biter, but I'm not taking any chances.

Today I was walking to the north. I thought I would go to a certain point, then turn around and come back in order to achieve a decent distance. As I was getting closer to my destination, I saw wild running and heard barking. This is probably what it looks like normally:

This is close to what I saw as well as what it was trying to achieve:

The difference between this picture and reality is there was no leash. I quickly turned on my heel and went the opposite direction, not looking back, and expecting this little monster to close the gap and latch onto my ankle. It didn't, thank goodness.

I don't walk north because there is no sidewalk and I would just be walking along a fairly busy road. And who knows, there is probably a crazy ass poodle that waits in someone's back yard until someone walks past in that direction, too.

Not only am I afraid of dogs, but I am also pretty much a non-confrontationalist. (is that a word?) I will not be approaching the owners asking them to contain their dogs. (That would mean I would have to go on their property and in my mind be ripped to shreds). I also can't talk. I have two cats who enjoy the opportunity to go wherever they want. I don't think they strike fear in anyone's heart, but you never know.

I don't have a walking partner, nor do I want one. I like being lost in my thoughts and not having to make small talk conversation. I don't really enjoy small talk.

Anyway, I will continue on my quest to find a long enough route that weaves its way through our tiny village where people either do not own dogs or keep them fenced in. There is a place where three rottweilers live, but they have a big fenced side yard (tall fence!) and although they bark their fool heads off, they can't escape. (Yet!?)

Friday 23 September 2016

Pastoral Morning

My drive to work is relatively short. I do not have to deal with traffic jams or catch public transit. I get to travel on back roads in total silence if I choose.

Today was overcast and a little cooler. It seemed a bit more like Autumn. I decided to pull over in a few spots to take pictures of the beautifully colour coordinated animals I see most mornings.

There are many more sheep than this, but these were closest to the road.

The same farmer keeps these cattle. They match the sheep very well. Even his sheep dog is this colour.

A little farther down the road I see this beauty.

These are his friends. They were a little farther away, so I played around with zooming in. I love when they are all out in the field together.

The trees have only just begun to change colour, little bits here and there. I am so glad that I get to drive through the countryside every day. I don't know how people commute to the city, spend hours on a highway, drive along congested roads. Some mornings I might meet four or five other vehicles at the most. I am much more contented when I am surrounded by wildflowers, birdsong, and a big dose of "green".

Wednesday 21 September 2016


You know how you start eating "clean" and you cut back on all the junk, and then two days later you step on the scale and actually have to audacity to expect to see a change? Ya, well that's where I am.

Anyway, I shall persevere.

Was the song that goes, "Sunrise...sunset...sunrise...sunset..." from Fiddler on the Roof? It was in my head when I took this picture this morning.

Again, thank you to my neighbor for having his property in my picture. Oh well, that's what you get for building east of me. It was a really lovely day, weather wise. No jacket required, crickets chirping, still tomatoes ripening outside, just really nice.

Who was peeking at me while I was admiring the morning?

Hi Sammy. He comes in, he eats, he hisses at the other cat, he goes back out.

If you read much of my blog, you know that I have been pursuing the answer to my back pain. It's been almost a year now. It hurts most at night (base of spine, hips). I finally saw the rheumatologist who ordered x-rays and took my history. Bottom line(s)- I'm 50 and all that entails, (and I'm thinking, "but I'm only 50"), I'm too sedentary and need to get back into moving a lot more and working on my core, my x-ray shows some degenerative arthritis in my lower back (which sounds scarier than when she translated that into "wear and tear"), and my tailbone (coccyx) is displaced. She asked me again if I had an injury. I can't think of anything recently except falling off my rolling office chair when I tilted too much, but that happened after I was already in pain. Maybe childbirth messed me up a long time ago?? She told me that there wasn't anything we could do about that anyway. So I am on some wicked anti-inflammatories which I am going to trade in for some coated ones from my own doctor so I can digest again without pain (or another prescription for an ulcer!), I'm walking a lot more, and I am still doing physio.

Yes, but I am not healed after the first session, or the second, or the tenth...

I've even tried acupuncture.

But most of the time I feel like this:

I'm not going to let this side line me. I really think if I can lose some of this perimenopausal weight from hell, and strengthen my core, and stretch daily then I can start to feel like the old me (hah! the "old" me... no, maybe the new me).

Something I like to say to myself when I get caught up in a personal pity party is, this too shall pass. Every rough patch I've been through in my life has run its course. No health , emotional, professional, or relationship problem has lasted forever. They have all worked themselves out with varying amounts of effort. I believe I will at one point in the future think to myself, "Remember when I had back pain? "

Now I shall wash more of my tomatoes that are sitting on my kitchen counter, windowsill, in baskets, and freeze them in big ziplock bags. When I make sauce or chili in the winter I can just take a few out to thaw and mix them in! TTFN! (Tigger quote)

Saturday 17 September 2016

Getting the Groceries

Part of the regular routine around here is buying groceries on the weekend. I go to one of two stores. When I am feeling that we need to cut back a bit on the money we spend I go to one, when I want really nice produce and sliced meat, I go to the other.

I am a list maker. I make lists for everything, but my grocery list is always laid out the same way. I have headings in the order that food is located around the store: produce, deli, bakery, meat, can/box, and frozen/dairy. I start making the list around Wednesday or Thursday and leave it out as I realize that we need certain things. When I find someone's list that they accidentally left in the cart, I always look at it, the nosey beggar that I am.

Saturday morning, list, coffee, and computer

A couple of years ago, President' Choice (a food company) introduced a points card. It isn't a credit card, but instead a way of earning points depending on how what you purchase that can then be redeemed toward buying more groceries. I get an email sent to me every Friday showing me what foods I could buy to earn extra points. I don't buy anything I don't need, but there is a tracking system that uses previous purchases to offer those same foods again in later weeks. Usually there is something that I would be buying anyway. When I earn 20,000 points, I can knock $20.00 off my grocery bill. Woo hoo!

I always ask my husband and kids if there is anything they need, or want me to pick up when I am grocery shopping. Most often, the answer is, "No, I can't think of anything." Then, inevitably later in the week, someone says, "Did you pick up any _________?" (Eye roll).

I am the meal maker in our home, so I usually have certain meals in mind for which I buy ingredients. Sometimes I am just inspired right there in the grocery isle due to something being on sale.

I should stop being surprised at how much money I spend on groceries. Right now there are only three of us at home. It is ridiculous how much groceries cost. With this I am including things like cleaning supplies, laundry soap, toilet paper, pet food, etc. I have no clue how a bigger family does it. And before someone suggests coupons, here in Canada we don't have the same coupon deals as they have in the States. I have watched just a couple of shows about "Extreme Couponers" who get a huge cart load of stuff for $3.26 or some other outrageous deal. But I also think, why do you want ten cans of fruit cocktail?

A lovely blogger from England gets her groceries delivered to her. I believe she orders them online. The convenience of this is understandable. I still don't think I would want that service, though. I want to see things, pick out my own box of strawberries, check the expiry date of the yogurt myself...

Because I am a working mom, and both of my kids currently are or have worked part time at the grocery store, I usually go shopping on a Saturday, when one of them is working a shift and when I have time. Everyone else has the same idea. It is packed. And lord help me if a holiday is coming up. They're all out there buying up everything like Armageddon is about to occur. (But then I'm there, too). I admit to having silent road rage (or isle rage) in grocery stores. MOVE YOUR CART OVER TO ONE SIDE!!!!  If you are going to ponder over that jar of olives, could you please pull over so other people can get on with their lives? This grocery store has several carts that are made out to look like cars, complete with little steering wheels in the front. Although these carts are a little bigger, I don't mind them because they keep little angels busy and happy, sitting in the front, "driving" while Mom or Dad does the shopping.

There has been a big movement here over the past several years to get rid of plastic bags. Almost everyone brings their own fabric bags in which to pack their groceries to take home. If you have forgotten your bags in your kitchen, or they are in the back of the other vehicle, then you have to pay for plastic bags. It's not much (cents per bag) but it still kind of bothers me. Ya, ya, I know environmentally they are a nightmare, but if I just spent $200.00 in your store, the least you could do is give me a few bags because I can hardly carry this stuff in my arms out to the car. (Don't jump all over me for polluting the earth, please. We reuse plastic bags here for all kinds of things).

Do you ever feel that others are silently judging you based on your groceries? Those times when I bought the three bags of chips because they were on sale and I like to stash them away for when we have friends over, and there was a special request for hot chocolate so I bought the giant size because it is cheaper per serving that way, and you eye my cart , I want to say, "There are vegetables in here, you just can't see them! I'm not planning on eating all the chips tonight!" 

There is also the secret that many women keep. When my daughter worked as a cashier through highschool she became an expert at spotting the secret and aiding and abetting women on a regular basis. What am I talking about? I am referring to the "eat it on your way home treat". C'mon, don't pretend you don't know what I'm talking about. It's that chocolate bar that nonchalantly gets put on the conveyer belt that you are going to be snarfing and then hiding the wrapper in your purse before you get home. My daughter would spy the "treat" and as she was bagging up the groceries would say to the purchaser, "Do you want me to leave this out, so you can put it in your purse?" The woman would say, as if it was a novel idea, "Oh sure! Thanks!"

What about you? Are you a list maker, a once a week shopper, a secret hoarder of enough food that you're practically a "prepper"? Do you buy yourself a sneaky secret treat when grocery shopping? Do you shop alone, or does your significant other and a boatload of kids come with you? Do you remember your non-plastic, environmentally friendly shopping bags? Do you choke on the price of things? Chime in.

Friday 16 September 2016

What do I know anyway?

I've been a bad blogger.
 I have nothing mind boggling to report, except that I watched the finale of America's Got Talent and the girl who played the ukulele and sang kind of like a cross between Tiny Tim and Joni Mitchell, who I said I didn't really get why everyone was so crazy over her, ended up winning the million dollars. What do I know anyway? ( And yes, that was a horribly put together, ridiculously long sentence.)

Sunday 11 September 2016


As I was sitting at my computer this morning I could hear blue jays calling to one another. It's a "moody" sort of morning, still wet from rains last night, the air a little cooler than it has been, the sunlight showing bright behind clouds. I had a memory of a poem:

Along the line of smoky hills
The crimson forest stands
And all the day the blue jay calls
Throughout the autumn lands

There's more to the poem, but those four lines are the only ones I remember. I owe this ability to quote a tiny bit of poetry to my grade seven teacher, Mr. Kilburn. He seemed ancient to me at the time but was likely around fifty. He was old fashioned, strict, expected much of all of his students, and was a wonderful art teacher. I believe that he, himself was an artist. He thought it was important to memorize and be precise.

I don't think anyone memorizes anything anymore. If you need to know something, you look it up. It's a thumb movement away. You don't even need to remember phone numbers anymore. I honestly don't even know my cell phone number. I can find it in my cell phone. The two numbers I still have memorized are my university i.d. number (from thirty years ago) and my social insurance number (which I still have). I had to recite or fill in those numbers many times and so they became ingrained. I'm no brain expert, but I'm guessing that when we are forced to memorize something and then recall it, it uses specific parts of our brains. Maybe new synapses are formed. I wonder if that part of the brain will slowly shrink and become nonexistent in future generations.

I know that some bloggers that I read can quote lines of poetry, if not entire poems. To give the poet credit, the four lines above were written by William Wilfred Campbell and the poem is called "Indian Summer". What did you have to memorize as a child that you can still recall?

Wednesday 7 September 2016

Anybody Watching America's Got Talent?

When my daughter was home this summer, she "turned me on" to America's Got Talent. I've never watched it before, but now I'm completely hooked. Of course, she's back in university, so now I'm watching it by myself. Husband's not interested. Neither is son, but sometimes I call him into the room and force him to watch parts of it with me.

I am so impressed with so many of the acts. The singers are amazing and the magicians are astounding (and I really don't like magicians). I'm not as fond of the acts that are risky, like the guy who throws knives at his wife, or the icky gross couldn't-even-look-at-him-had-to-hide-behind-a-pillow guy who put  sharp objects up his nose and down his throat. The one thing I don't quite get is the young girl who plays the ukulele and sings. The judges are head over heels for her and say she will be famous, etc. Maybe I just don't like or understand her style. Granted, I couldn't do what she does, but I'm not trying out for the show.

Many years ago I watched American Idol, maybe the second year they did it. That was when it was Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul, Randy Jackson, ? (was there another judge?). Simon was brutally honest and nasty. Now, he seems to be a kinder, gentler Simon. Maybe he is mellowing with age, or fatherhood agrees with him.

Just wondering if anyone else is following it. Chime in if you are.

Tuesday 6 September 2016

Look who Dropped By

I was sitting on the front porch after work drinking a glass of ice water (boy, it was hot today!) and I heard a rustle and then a thump! Here's what dropped from the sky (or more likely from the hanging plant above):

Well, hello! 

Want a different angle?

Isn't the camouflage amazing? Those wings definitely look like long, thin leaves. Those spindly legs look like the fine stems of leaves. I'm not sure if this is a male or female praying mantis. If you didn't know, the female sometimes eats the male after mating. This was a BIG praying mantis. Maybe it is a female who consumed her significant other and that's why she's so substantial!

I swear it was looking at me as I was trying to get good pictures.

Sunday 4 September 2016

I'm dying!! (my hair)

In preparation for fall, I need to deal with my roots, not my plants, my hair. Today was hair dying day. Once upon a time, I would pay a lovely person to do this for me. That person would also add low lights (lites??) and high lights and I would sit with a stack of magazines and a cup of coffee and all was right with the world. Then I would pay the lovely person well over $100. That was without a blow out because I was just getting into my vehicle and driving home. I could do that with a damp head.

I have played around with dying my own hair over the years. It started back in highschool and university days when I would put a semi-permanent colour on my hair to get a bit of a strawberry blonde look. I also would comb lemon juice into the front of my hair and sit out in the sun so I would get high lights framing my face. However, those were also the days of perms. Does anyone even get a perm anymore? I had long hair and would get a spiral perm! God I loved those perms. I was an 80's girl. I would hang my head upside down and put mousse in my hair, stick the diffuser on the end of my blowdryer and scrunch for all I was worth. I also got the high lights where you wore a little holey cap and someone used a crochet hook looking device to pull strands of hair through the holes and apply the brain searing chemicals to create a "natural" sun kissed look. Highschool was literally spent in a haze of mousse, gel, and hairspray. Shoulder pads and big earrings also played a part in the look. I would tease my bangs. If the bangs wouldn't stay up high, I would at least pop my collar up to achieve an upward appearance.

Now I pay about $13.00 for a box of hair colour and that does me for about two months. (My hair does grow quickly and I should probably do it more often, but life gets busy). Here are some of the preparations:

I let my husband know that I was doing my hair. That means, I cannot be contacted, I am unavailable, do not disturb. Hair dying and canning are the two times that you need to just leave me alone. However, husbands, like children seem to need you the most when you are your busiest. As I was squeezing the contents of the bottle along my roots, I hear my husband call from the kitchen, "The computer did that thing again!"

Seriously?? How do you expect me to be gloriously beautiful if you disturb the process? Yes, that's a towel clamped around my neck. It's my hair dying towel. It is relegated to this job only, as various stains can attest.

As if by magic, I emerge about 45 minutes later, freshly washed and coifed, practically stunning.

Have a look at those roots!! That one area appears dark, but I think it's a shadow of my phone. It actually isn't dark. And, how 'bout those picture taking skills?!?! That's not my arm in the shot.

Nor, is that my finger in the corner of that shot.

So... I ask you... do you go to the hair dresser to have your colour done? Are you simply such a spring chicken that you don't require a dye job? Or are you one of the brave (and cheap!) ones who dyes her own hair. Do you even (sharp intake of breath) do your own highlights?? Some day I'll work up the nerve.

Friday 2 September 2016

Ode to the B.L.T.

Slow news day, here. I'm just telling you upfront, the image is from google images. This is not my bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich.

This is an excellent September the 2nd supper. My tomatoes are heavenly right now. They never go into the fridge. The fridge is death to the taste of ripe, out of the garden tomatoes. Room temperature, glorious red orbs of health and happiness are September the 2nd tomatoes. Winter tomatoes are tasteless, hard, shouldn't-even-be-consumed, useless imitations. That takes care of the "T."

Now for the "B". I have discovered a great way to fry bacon. It doesn't involve a frying pan or a microwave. Instead, I line a big cookie sheet with tin foil and make a little wall all around the outside to contain the grease. I bake the bacon in the oven. You just turn it on to 400 degrees, stick your tray of bacon, laid out (not touching) on tin foil in the oven, and keep watch for several minutes. The bacon comes out flat, crispy and delicious. I transfer it to doubled over paper towel to soak up some of the grease before it goes on the sandwich.

For the "L" I just used romaine lettuce, but it could be ice berg or leaf lettuce from the garden. Nothing special there.

I prefer Miracle Whip to mayonnaise, but all we have right now is mayonnaise. For that purpose I also salted my tomatoes a little. If I was using Miracle Whip, I might not have bothered with extra seasoning. I use lovely whole grain (ancient grain!) bread, lightly toasted. I like to have the whole thing assembled while the toast is still warm and the bacon hasn't cooled off too much. The combination of crunch from the bacon and lettuce, and the soft, smooth texture of the tomato makes for a perfect sandwich.

But the whole point is that this is the only time of year that I really make or enjoy BLTs. I know I wouldn't get the same pleasure when I'm not harvesting tomatoes out of my own garden. And you also get the feel good aroma of bacon in the house!  (And for the "are you sure you're my child?" son who hates tomatoes, he gets bacon, lettuce, and cheese).

And that, people, was a post about a sandwich. ( I need to lead a more exciting life).

Thursday 1 September 2016

The Storms you Face

I've been reading the blog, Bless Our Hearts and the author describes how preparations are being made for an upcoming hurricane and I got thinking about how, depending on where you grew up, or where you live now, there are storms you may never come in contact with.

People in Florida might be boarding up windows, or filling containers with water, or worrying about losing power. Here in Ontario we don't worry about hurricanes (obviously, our proximity to the ocean is too far away), the same way that Floridians don't worry about white outs. I worry about people being out on the roads in a blizzard and getting caught in a white out where they don't even know what side of the road they are on, where they are afraid to stop because other people can't see them until it is too late, and where they could end up in the ditch without a hope of being rescued until the blizzard calms down.

Some people live with a fear of flooding. When we were driving around in England we commented on how the roads are so low with hedges or stone walls on either side. If they got heavy rain, the water would just end up making the road into a river (I would imagine, although I am not certain if it is a real threat or not, however I do remember flooding in the U.K. a couple of years ago). Our roads are raised up higher than the land around them so that rain runs off, and snow can be removed and left at the sides of the road and in the ditches.

There are some areas where tornadoes are a big concern. When I was about 12 years old, a tornado (or perhaps tornadoes) ripped through where we lived. It skipped over our house, but took out farms, bushlots, hydro towers, trees around us. It was fairly widespread and there hadn't been a tornado like that for a long time. It was quite newsworthy. It has caused me to watch the sky in certain circumstances and to respect the weather. I can't imagine what it is like to live in the area deemed "tornado alley". A colleague has a brother who lives in Missouri and apparently tornado sirens go off with some frequency. Many of these houses do not have basements. I know that I would head to the basement if there was the threat of a tornado, so I can't imagine what you do if you don't have one.

What about other parts of the world? Are sandstorms an issue for some people? Lightning strikes? Freezing rain? When bad weather hits frequently, do you become complacent? Do people ignore the tornado warnings because it has become like the boy who cried wolf? Do people choose to tough it out, rather than evacuate?  Even though snow storms and bad driving conditions are a very real part of our lives here, I must admit I do not have an emergency kit in my vehicle. I don't have a flashlight, or flares or water (it would freeze!). I do have a blanket, but not a great one (left over from cool evenings at the side of a soccer field). I almost always have a hat and mits if I should have to get out and walk any distance.

What about you? What is your bad weather? What is the worst you faced? Are you even prepared?

I certainly hope that those people who are affected by the impending hurricane are fine, don't have too much damage, don't loose power for too long, and know that their family members are safe as well.