Reading List 2021

Saturday, 29 February 2020

Softening the Edges

For those of you who wish to romanticise the notion of an old fashioned snow storm, being stuck inside with a roaring fire and good book, here is my world this morning. I cannot remember which poet I studied who wrote about how snow softens the edges, but the undisturbed heavy blanket which surrounds us this morning certainly has that effect.

-the doorway to the back porch

-the sheer volume on the front porch

-taken in that beautiful blue light of early morning



It boggles my mind as I read some of your blogs where you write of snowdrops being over and daffodils emerging, harvesting the first of your rhubarb, and taking scenic walks. Some day, months from now, that will be my reality, too.

Friday, 28 February 2020

iphone woes and a guilt free day (woes now resolved, if interested)

We are in the middle of a blizzard warning, so for the first time in a very long time, my school is closed (schools don't close due to weather around here, busses may be cancelled, but teachers are still encouraged to get to the school and teach the kids who get dropped off by their parents). So I have a guilt- free day off work today.

Before I knew that the school was closed, I was trying to text a couple of friends /colleagues to see what their intentions were in terms of trying to get to work and let them know about some road closures in case they didn't already know. Nobody was answering my texts. I had to contact my Vice Principal to let him know that my road was closed and I wouldn't be coming in at that time. He never texted back. Hmmmm. Through email, instead, I contacted him and he said he had indeed texted back. So some texts were going out, no texts were coming back.

I am not a technological wizard, but I muddled through with resetting things, turning the phone off and on, and the regular stuff. I then did what people do, I googled how to make this work. I have tried all the possible methods to get my phone to allow imessaging to and from my cell phone number but it keeps telling me it won't activate.

So frustrating. Anyone else ever have a problem with not being able to send texts or receive texts on their iPhones? (yes, I'm connected to wifi, and yes I know I can send as text messages, rather than imessages, but still, nothing is working.). (No, I can't go to an apple store, that would require a three hour drive). My last resort will be to phone my cell phone carrier, which happens to be Virgin mobile, and see if it's a problem on their end. First world problems, I know.

O.K., sooooo… I ended up spending a good hour and a half on the phone, first with Virgin mobile, who tried to figure things out, then they linked me up with someone from Apple. A lovely woman with a southern accent went through a whole bunch of stuff and as it turned out, someone that I messaged (have no idea who because I'm really not a big phone person) declared my message as spam /blocked my number. (No, there isn't someone who really hates me out there, I'm pretty sure) Because of that my number could not receive or send texts normally. She was able to reverse this and now I'm good to go. Technology - love it or hate it, but I could never have solved this problem on my own, so thanks lady from Apple.

The blizzard intermittently rages on outside my windows. I'm glad nobody has to go anywhere. Many businesses are closed. Take care, those of you who are in the middle of this as well.

Wednesday, 26 February 2020

What's for Supper - Wednesday

I honestly don't know how people post every day. I don't ever post about work, confidentiality and all that, and besides work, my day basically consists of feeding people and chickens, watching some tv, and sleeping, or at least that's what I do right now at this time of year. If it was a different time of year, I could tell you about weeding or planting or raking or digging or harvesting. But it is currently snowy, with more "snowy" on the way.

So... I fed my chickens standard layer crumble with a handful of oyster shell thrown in. For my people I had some pork ribs that were a good price. Here's what I made for supper:

I cut the ribs into two decent sized chunks, put some Diana sauce on them, wrapped them in foil and put them in a low slow oven for a couple of hours. Unfortunately, it wasn't long enough, so I blasted them further at 375 degrees for an additional half hour which did the trick. No one wants ribs that aren't fall off the bone tender. I completely forgot to take a picture when I unwrapped them and put some on my plate.


Mushrooms fried up in butter, salt, ground pepper and a pinch of garlic powder. I like how my grocery store features produce in "less than perfect" packages. That's literally how it is advertised. So, I buy a big bunch of mushrooms which are, as described, less than perfect either because they are an awkward shape, or not quite the perfect size, or whatever. Less expensive, but just as tasty!

Caesar salad made with two romaine hearts cut up, three slices of bacon that I cooked up between paper towel in the microwave, a handful of croutons, and whatever Caesar dressing I had in the fridge.

Steamed broccoli and cauliflower. Nothing special, just a little salt on it afterwards.

There was leftover corn and carrots from a previous meal. Those can be heated up and eaten as well. I am a woman of many Rubbermaid containers - I take a lunch every day, keep in mind. As well, I was raised by a woman who threw out NO leftovers. My mother used to use margarine tubs to put leftover food in. Unfortunately, they were not see-through, so she never really kept track of what was in each container, nor how long it had been hiding in the back of the fridge behind all the other margarine tubs. Always an adventure.

I sometimes think I get stuck in a food rut. I'm no gourmet cook, but I do get bored of the same old food quite easily. I wonder what other people are having for supper. I even like to see what my colleagues are bringing for lunch. Sometimes someone will have leftovers that they heat up and everyone will remark how good it smells and ask, "Ohhh, what are you having??"

My good friend growing up had the same food every Monday, and every Tuesday, and so on. I could never do that. My son used to go to his friend's house and every Saturday (or was it Friday?) supper was pancakes. His parents were Dutch and I guess Dutch pancakes are a tradition.

I did make pancakes (and bacon!!) last night, as it was Shrove Tuesday. The whole religion thing is lost on me, but I do love pancakes, so why not? Are you a person who knows exactly what you are making each night of the week? Do you have a fridge filled with leftovers? Do you hate cooking, or love it, or are you indifferent? Could you eat the same thing night after night? Do you now want bacon?

Sunday, 23 February 2020

"Puzzle Club", and everyday life

A friend of mine, another teacher, usually has a puzzle on the go. I asked her how she sets it up, and keeps it both out of the way and accessible. It got me thinking. It's better to have down time in the evening doing a puzzle, maybe listening to a tv show at the same time, than mindlessly snacking on something, so I bought myself a thousand piece puzzle.

I got it started in the conventional way, finding all the outside edges and trying to piece them together. This coincided with my daughter coming home from university for reading week, and her boyfriend bringing her back. So naturally, they sat down and helped put some of the puzzle together with me. Thus began a bit of an obsession. We deemed it "Puzzle Club".




This is a Thomas Kincaid painting puzzle (the Painter of Light or some such expression). Daughter and boyfriend were determined to put together as much as possible that first go round.

Throughout this past week, daughter and I would sit and try to add more. Then, son came home for his college reading week on Friday. It was his time to lose himself in adding more to the puzzle.


This was the scene on Saturday, as three twenty-somethings gathered round the coffee table, grouping pieces into shape categories ("turtles", "threes", "throwing stars"...), passing the picture back and forth, shifting positions.

It was a wild and crazy night.

Anyway, my eyes couldn't see the details properly and it was well past my bedtime, so I bid them adieu and they were still at it with just a fistful of pieces left.

Here is what greeted me on the coffee table this morning.


Do you notice the corner?


They left me the last piece - right beside my reading glasses, as the running joke was always the fact that I was saying, "Where are my glasses?"

They're good kids.

What else is happening? Made roast beef in the magical cooking pot last night with a bit of onion soup mix and water. Simple and good.
Made broccoli salad as part of supper last night, too. Man I love that stuff - you know what I'm talking about, cut up broccoli, bacon, red onion, sunflower seeds, shredded cheese, miracle whip, dried cranberries or raisins. So good!
Changed out the chicken water this morning and opened up their little door. It is sunny and "warm" and they were appreciative.
I've been on strike several times in the last few weeks with my teachers' union here in Ontario. Not going to get into a political discussion, but these are stressful times in ways that only people in my profession truly understand.
I will be stuck on my computer for most of the rest of the day doing I.E.P.s (individual education plans) for nine of my twenty-five grade four students. Yes, we work on the weekends. No, we don't have time to do this at work.
With the help of everybody, we moved the small chest freezer from our yucky hundred plus year old basement upstairs to the mudroom. The food was placed in laundry baskets on the back porch while the freezer was defrosting and being moved and being wiped out. Here's what I know for sure now. We are prepared for a zombie apocalypse in shredded zucchini and strawberries alone.
After seeing the ridiculous amount of shredded zucchini I was inspired to make chocolate chip zucchini muffins this morning, taking care of one of the one hundred and thirteen bags in the freezer (that's just an estimate).
Found a dead, flat mouse underneath the mat on the back porch when I was taking out a bucket of water for the chickens and wondered, "Why isn't the mat laying flat?"
It is almost leap day. A childhood friend of my twenty year old son has a birthday on leap day. Not sure how old that makes him. Five, I think.
It is nice to see the sun. There is a small patch of bare grass behind the house. A cottontail bunny was nibbling away, not caring that we were watching it from the back window.
I bought a large bag of bird seed on sale from the local co-op yesterday and have filled both bird feeders. I am wondering how long until the red squirrel wedges himself in there to have a feast.

And that... is all for now.

Sunday, 9 February 2020

Sunday, February 9, 2020

My house smells liked burned food. For supper I made parmesan crusted fish (don't be impressed, it came out of a package), reheated some left over basmati rice with a can of Italian seasonsed  tomatoes, and roasted sweet and spicy cauliflower. I love cauliflower, husband does not. So this was for me. The sauce that you toss the cauliflower pieces in was made from maple syrup, sriracha sauce, pepper and olive oil. Even though I roasted the cauliflower on parchment paper (don't you love parchment paper?), some of the sauce still caramelized and burned and leaked beyond the parchment paper onto the baking sheet. Hence the burned food smell. The cauliflower was still yummy and quite spicy. I have enough for some leftovers for myself either to take as part of my lunch tomorrow, or with whatever I make for supper tomorrow night.

When I was packing up Christmas this year, I decided to weed out a few unwanted, tired, unused items like garland that we didn't use or ornaments that had been gifts but didn't really match with our d├ęcor, etc. I boxed them up with the intention of donating them. Today the weather ended up being better than predicted (cold, but no snow falling), so I decided to go to the closest Value Village (which incidentally is 40 minutes away). I also gathered up a handful of books (paperbacks that I'll never read again), and a coat of my daughter's from when she was in elementary school.

I have a couple of co-workers that seem to find all sorts of good items at Value Village, so I thought I would have a wander around after I stopped off at the donation drop-off. I don't know how they find the things they do... I was not impressed or tempted by anything and the whole place had an aura of "old dingy musty things". So, I went to Winners and Homesense. Sometimes I have great luck at Winners, but not this time. Maybe I just wasn't into the whole shopping mode. I did find a pair of shoes (more for warm weather wear) and a pair of cushy socks. A quick stop a Walmart for hair colour, because my roots are coming in nice and grey, and I was on my way home.

I haven't been reading a lot recently, apart from the latest Louise Penny. From some blogger suggestions and a little research (e.g. if you like Caroline Graham, you'd like...) I had picked up a couple of Elly Griffith (Griffin?) books from the library but they've been sitting at the bedside for a while, in fact I had to renew them because I'd had them so long. I started one last night and was enjoying it, but was also realizing I had the book in my hand and my eyes were closed for a while, so put it down and went to sleep.

In a week's time, daughter comes home for 'reading week' from university. She and her dad have been pursuing looking for her first car. He gives his opinion, she gives hers, and round and round they go. They did look at one (used, of course, being sold by the owner), but there were problems that couldn't be overlooked. She doesn't have an unlimited budget, but we want her to have something safe and reliable, but not necessarily beautiful! Ha ha. So perhaps there will be a bit more car looking this coming week when she has more time. Son then comes home the following week for his reading week from college. Too bad they weren't on the same week.

Being Sunday night, it's another new episode of Curse of Oak Island. If I can stay awake, I'll see if they finally find that bloody money pit! I'm guessing it's already been found but everyone involved with the show has signed a confidentiality agreement to not talk about it or reveal anything, as the episodes come out later.

What about you? Do you have a good used clothing / items store in your area? Do you like cauliflower? Do you fall asleep with a book in your hand?

Sunday, 2 February 2020

Feb 2nd, Groundhog Day, Netflix series

Wiarton Willie, an odd albino little rodent, has proclaimed that we will have an early spring. Here's hoping, but really, the choice is between "early spring" and "six more weeks of winter". In six weeks, it will be March 15th. In my part of Ontario, it is always still winter by March 15th anyway, so this whole ground hog prediction is just a bit of foolish fun anyway.

After a visit with my sister coming here and then leaving yesterday afternoon, I've had a pretty restful day. I spent way too much time watching tv, specifically Netflix. I had begun watching the series called "Line of Duty" a while ago and loved it, but stopped because Canadian Netflix only offered the first couple of seasons. I noticed a little while ago that it showed there were new episodes of Line of Duty, so I started watching it again. Oh my, what a well done series, with twists and turns and references to previous seasons, intrigue, mystery, suspense, you name it. It centres around a section of policing that investigates internal crime - dirty members of their own forces. If you are looking for a  great series that you can really sink your teeth into, I highly recommend it!

Son was home for the weekend which was nice because he got to see his aunt, and we had a little visit, but he spent quite a bit of time with his own friends which I am happy that he was able to do, as he doesn't see them as often, being away at school. I made an early supper, and then he and his dad checked the oil, added windshield washer fluid, and he was off to drive three hours to return to his college.

We had lots of heavy, wet snow today, but it seems to have stopped now, this evening. I'm sitting here, having handed the tv remote over to husband, who sat/ snoozed through some of my binge watching and he is now watching some YouTube video of two guys finding an old beat up British sports car and  making it over again to resell it. Now it's my time to zone out.

*** Want to add, that yes, I messed up and called the series "Line of Fire" when in fact it should have been "Line of Duty". Duhh. Thanks to the commenter who gently pointed it out!! I have now corrected it. ***