Reading List 2021

Tuesday, 30 March 2021

Regular Tuesday - March 30

 This is the second last day of March. Now that I am not teaching anymore, here is what my day consisted of:

-drove to town to pick up a bag of layer crumble for the hens and also two seed starter kits (really should have started some by now...)

-tracked my calories for breakfast and lunch as I am on (yet another) quest to lose the 15 pounds I packed on during the last year

-fiddled around with a set of bluetooth wireless earbuds that my daughter gave me that I didn't really utilize, but now I think I would quite like to as I am walking or outside in the yard

-raked some more outside and also cut back three shrubs (holy man is it windy!!)

-managed to get a piece of shrub in my eye and literally removed it with my tweezers (tried a damp Q-tip but all that did was push it around on my eyeball - ewwww!)

-made the spice blend for a new recipe I'm trying that uses smoked paprika, black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne, and brown sugar (I'm using it on chicken legs this time)

-helped husband cover up a car that is bought, but not yet picked up (did I mention it's windy??)

-checked out my school email because old habits die hard

-ordered more library books online (still have one to start, maybe tonight)

-watched most recent episode of American Idol that had been previously recorded


I am now going to go coat the chicken and get it ready in a baking pan. I have asparagus to steam and I'm going to try a recipe for a salad that is supposed to be just like Olive Garden restaurant. We don't have an Olive Garden within hours and hours of us. Actually, are there any in Ontario anymore?? I don't even know, but I know I love their salads from what I had so many years ago. I'd kill for one of their bread sticks, too. Funny how when you are trying to improve your eating habits, all you think about are all the foods you want, but shouldn't.

Thursday, 25 March 2021

Describing Distance

 I was reading somebody's blog, or maybe someone's comment, the other day and that person was describing where they lived. They said they were a certain number of km from a well-known place. It took me a moment to realize that we never describe distance that way. We always describe it in terms of driving time, not actual kilometres. 

Husband sells car parts for particular kinds of cars and he gets people asking where he is. He will tell them how many hours we are from Toronto, for example. I have always said that I like teaching eight minutes from home. To get to my siblings' houses in a city, I think of it as 2 and 3/4 hours away.

Is this a Canadian thing? We rural Canadians think nothing of driving an hour to get somewhere. Apparently Westerners think nothing of driving three hours to get somewhere! Perhaps it's just a rural thing, but not limited to people from any particular country. How do you describe distance?


On a different note, it felt very spring-like last evening as we had thunder and lightning and plenty of rain. Everything needed a good washing down. I had an othodontist appointment, in the middle of the day! I'm on my last twenty weeks of my invisaligns. It feels like it has been forever having these things on my teeth, but there is quite a difference in how straight they are now. Yesterday, the orthodontist filed my front teeth! I was nervous about it, but it didn't hurt at all, however the smell of metal on hot tooth was a bit disconcerting! 

I've been raking the yard and gathering up many wheelbarrow loads of spruce branches and cones, and some plant materials from perennial beds. Then I burned it in the burn barrel in batches. I have much to do with the flower beds, as I didn't clean them up as carefully as I would have liked in the fall. How are you coming with your spring yard work?

Monday, 22 March 2021

Mundane Monday - March 22, 2021

 We Canadians talk about the weather a lot, especially rural folk. 

When Spring hits, even if it's temporary, we get incredibly excited. People literally come out of the woodwork. 

Today's Mundane Monday is about signs of Spring (capitalized to signify the importance and reverence it should have) in your part of the world (unless of course, your part of the world doesn't emerge from winter like ours does, in which case you can still talk about the weather).

Here is a handy dandy fahrenheit to celsius converter if you are are going to include your day time temperature, so everyone understands. I still have no clue what you mean if you tell me in fahrenheit. 

I shall begin: Yesterday was go outside without a coat on weather. It supposedly got up to 17 degrees! In late-ish March! I have seen (and heard) robins and I have also seen starlings, although I've not witnessed a mass flock of starlings on my lawn which sometimes occurs. I did a burn in the burn barrel and while I was out there, I was charmed by four little chipmunks racing over and under a pile of cedar rails. They weren't the least bit bothered by my presence. Spring flowers are starting to emerge.

My little clump of snowdrops has wandered to a different location on the lawn, but they are still my first sign.





As well, my little dark purple crocuses (yes, that is the plural form, I checked) are also emerging. When I took this photo it was a little early in the morning for them to be open.

Lastly, along with the robins and starlings, my chickens are very happy to be outside, scratching around through the leaf cover that I dumped in their run last fall. 


March 20th was the first day of Spring, so please join in and contribute with a list of signs of this hope-providing season in your neighbourhood. 


Sunday, 21 March 2021

It's Official

 I am now officially retired from being a full-time elementary school teacher. Friday was my last day and the staff went out of their way to make sure it felt special, and for that I feel incredibly humbled and grateful. From a majestic trumpet fanfare over the announcements in the morning, to a "virtual" assembly that I viewed a la my LCD projector and computer, my class watching with me on the white board in our classroom, to a tour of the school with my class and outside in front of the school where each class clapped for me as I walked past, to a gigantic chocolate cake, and then a final staff wave at the sidewalk at the end of the day as I drove away, the whole day was more than I expected. 

My sweet class, with the help of their gym / health / music teacher created individual illustrated pages where they suggested what I might do when I retire. The pages were laminated and assembled as a book for me. There were cards and lovely messages from parents, and little gifts purchased and hand made from my students, as well as an incredible gift certificate to a local garden centre which is the perfect gift for me from the whole staff.

I held it together for the entire day, not shedding one tear, but did have a chin wobble when my principal led me, and my class, outside for the first of many classes banging drums and clapping and holding up signs to wish me a happy retirement. Even at the end of the day, when my kids were getting ready in the hall to go home and their bus numbers were announced, one by one, and they walked down the hall, I managed to smile and tell them they would love their new teacher and to have a great weekend. 

But it was when I finally left the building, dragging bags and items with me to my car, and pulling out of the parking lot, that I saw teachers standing along the sidewalk, waving, that I went into the ugly cry before I could honk my horn and drive past. See, we have a time honoured tradition that went from our "old school" that closed and now to the "new school" that we moved to, which ironically is the "old highschool", that on the last school day in June, all the teachers and other staff members go outside and stand along the drive way and sidewalk and each school bus pulls away filled with smiling, waving, happy kids ready to begin their summer holidays and we shout our goodbyes to them and they shout their goodbyes to us and the bus drivers wave and honk, and the whole thing is just such a fun way to wrap up yet another school year. And that is what my colleagues were doing for me. It chokes me up just writing about it. I shall miss them a lot.

That evening, my daughter and her boyfriend made their specialty for me (and husband and son), butter chicken and naan bread. It was so good and there was wine and this spectacular thing:

which happened to be the world's best carrot cake with cream cheese icing. Husband had ordered flowers for me to be delivered at my school that day, but alas, the process of locally ordering flowers is a complex and ridiculous one. In a tiny town, there are no local florists, so an online order is placed. That order then goes out into the cyber world to be picked up from some company which will process that order. I did not get my flowers and when husband investigated further (after many phone calls and confusion), it was discovered that some place in California had processed the order and then the somewhat local florist did not receive the actual order until the next day. We did not get charged for the messed up order. 

Of course, none of this has sunk in yet and so far nothing feels different. The only thing that has been a reminder that my time is now my own, is my ability to book a library book pick up time for 1:00 on Monday afternoon! Look at me living the life of luxury!

On a different note, the weather here is incredible. As is the way with Ontario, we went from winter, to four days of spring, to a 17 degree (C) basically summer day. My socks are off. I'm going out to rake fallen branches and spruce cones off the lawn. If I don't get done, it doesn't matter. I can do it some more tomorrow!


Monday, 15 March 2021

Mundane Monday - March 15, 2021

 We were watching a show last night that had been pre-recorded, called The Food That Built America. This particular episode was called Cola Wars and told the tale of the decades long competition between Coke and Pepsi. 

Perfect topic - pop, soda, soft drinks, whatever you happen to call it.

I was a heavy kid, let's just get that out of the way. This was due to the fact that nothing was restricted. I was able to eat any quantity of food I wished, drink whatever I desired, and nobody took me aside and told me not to. There was always junk food in the house, and I spent a great deal of time at "the farm" where there was always a try of Chelsea buns and pie and maple syrup and pop. Cases and cases of pop. Alas, I cannot go back in time and change those facts, but it does mean I have a lot of memories of pop. 


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I spent a bit part of my youth trying not to cut my fingers on these. Do you remember these openings in pop cans?

But nothing tasted better than an ice cold coke in a glass bottle from the cooler at Kitchings Marketeria.


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Do any of you remember Pop Shoppe Pop? You could get all kinds of hideous flavours like grape or cream soda and then you could return the bottles. It was actually very environmentally friendly - before its time. 

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If I could vote for the worst flavours of pop, I would nominate Dr. Pepper and anything cherry flavoured. I'm pretty sure Dr. Pepper was developed by tossing together the dregs from the bottoms of the vats of other pops, perhaps cola, cream soda, and something cherry. 

A friend of mine used to drink this stuff. Ughhh, it could also have been nominated for worst pop. 

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I grew up in the 70's when diet pop became all the rage. I can almost conjure up the taste of Tab in my mind! 


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My father bravely gave up alcohol when I was in my early teen years. He replaced one vice with another and drank a great deal of pop. He described it as black pop, orange pop, red pop, or white pop (cola, orange soda, cream soda, or something like Sprite or 7-Up). 

Thankfully I do not drink much pop these days. I am not good with caffeine besides my one cup of coffee in the morning. But if I could indulge, I would say I enjoy Coca Cola (ice cold, please), Diet Pepsi (far superior to Diet Coke), or every once in a while, rootbeer (again, must be ice cold). I'm not big on gingerale, or any similar "white pop". The only foods that I think go perfectly with some type of cola are burgers and pizza, but even then I don't always (again - the caffeine, and yes, the sugar content, but then, what the heck, I'm eating burgers and pizza!).

Now let's proceed with the discussion topics. 

1. Did you drink much pop as a child, or were you raised in a far more health conscious family than mine? 

2. Do you have a favourite pop now?

3. Are there certain foods that just seem to require a nice cold soda for you?

4. What would you nominate for worst flavour of soda pop?


Please join in the discussion, and welcome to any new contributors out there!


Monday, 8 March 2021

Mundane Monday (March 8, 2021)

 Socks.


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Let's see how we can pontificate about a truly mundane subject: socks. 

I worked with someone who hated socks. Even in the winter, she had bare feet inside her boots. 

I think a living hell would be having to wear toe socks. I don't like socks that are too high. I need my socks to either match my pants, or match my low boots. I only ever wear "fun" socks if it is some kind of spirit day at school, and then I will wear Christmas socks, or Hallowe'en socks. 

I remember those little white ankle socks that had little coloured pom pom balls at the back. They never fit me properly because they were made for girls with cute little size 6 feet. When I tried to wear them, with my likely size 7 or 8 feet when I was young, the pom pom ball wouldn't sit high enough at the back of the shoe. 

My husband has gone through stages where he finds a kind of sock that he likes, so he just buys multiple pairs of exactly that same sock. 

Little Canadian kids tuck their pant legs into their socks so they can pull on their snowpants without the leg of their pants ending up somewhere around their knee. Then when they come back in after playing outside and take off their snowpants, they often forget to untuck their pant legs and walk around with their pants tucked into their socks.

I have somewhat successfully knit one pair of socks once. It was not a fun experience and they didn't fit right and I will never do it again.

When the temperature gets ridiculously low in the winter time, I will resort to wearing socks to bed. If my feet are too cold, I can't get to sleep. I will then inevitably take those same socks off part way through the night.

When I was very young and spent a lot of time at the farm, I would watch my grandmother use a lightbulb inside the men's barn socks so they would hold their shape while she darned them with a big darning needle and grey yarn. Does anyone even darn socks anymore?


Please share your own opinions and thoughts about socks. Do you wear them? Do you wear socks and sandals? Do you even need socks because you live in a climate where your feet don't freeze? Do you have favourite socks? Thin socks? Thick socks? Ankle socks? Work socks?

Sunday, 7 March 2021

Sunshine Sunday

 Good morning (late morning - it's almost 10:00 as I'm writing this). It is minus 10 degrees celsius  "feels like minus 12" right now, but the sun is actually shining, so it makes me feel like it's warmer and almost, getting close to, could possibly be on the way to spring. 

I've carried out a sack of chicken feed this morning and said hello to the girls. Two eggs so far. I have been gifted with as much as five eggs in one day now, and so their strike must be over. For their efforts they get things like leftover kale pieces, strawberry cut-offs, half a cooked sweet potato, and a big treat - some haddock that I experimented with (new recipe) that was o.k., but nobody wanted to have reheated fish the next day. 

Here is this morning's picture of Scooter on the "lawn". 


The front porch, on which I won't be drinking coffee quite yet:


This is my view right now. Those of you who are Schitt's Creek's fans may appreciate this very cool gift from a teacher colleague. She made it with her Cricut (pronounced like cricket apparently - it's a crafty gadget that lots of teachers now own) (but not me, I'm not crafty).


That's a Nespresso coffee in my mug. I don't drink them all the time because I'm innately a very cheap person and usually have instant in the morning, but it's the weekend, and THE SUN IS SHINING!!

Yesterday I started a task that has been long overdue. For years and years we had a little metal two-drawer filing cabinet that never really had a proper home and long since exceeded its storage capacity. We have then resorted to accordian files and well, quite frankly, piles that topple over on top of the little filing cabinet. 

Husband found a nice looking wooden filing cabinet (used) that, although it was also two-drawer, held much more than our little one. It has been sitting empty, as an end table, in the living room for months and months. Because husband was the one who seemed to be bothered by the appearance of the metal one and sought out the wooden one, I presumed he would be the one to transfer paperwork into it. Well, you know how that goes, so yesterday I started preparing the little labeled tabs and put them into hanging files (which were going to be tossed from my workplace - score!) and got a start putting paperwork into the files. I'm no where close to being done, but at least I've started. 

Here's the thing. I am very organized in my professional life. I have binders of units that I teach, all labeled and accessible. I have files upon files of units, worksheets, etc. in a large four-drawer cabinet. (Well, actually, I don't anymore since I've been purging, but I DID). I am a meticulous writer-downer of my day plans, my marking pages, my group emails to parents... but at home, I am in complete denial of paperwork. I despise even opening the mail and if it has both of our names on it, I leave it for husband. I know, I know... it's ridiculous. It's my own personal downfall. So, I feel pretty good about even broaching this filing task yesterday. Who knows, I might even finish today! (Husband, in the meantime is completing a bathroom reno project, so I feel like I should be doing something productive). 

Have a great rest of your Sunday, all. I hope the sun is shining where you live! 

Wednesday, 3 March 2021

Lately...

Sorry, no Mundane Monday this week. I have found out who has been hired to take over my class. She is young and fun and my retirement has now provided her a full-time contract position, so I am very happy that a young teacher now has some stability. 

March came in like a lion with blizzard warnings and white-out driving conditions, so I'm looking forward to lamb-like weather by the end of March. Since putting a heat bulb in the chicken coop and with the increased daylight, the hens have stepped up to the plate and are laying more. Not everyone is producing, but I am now occasionally getting five eggs from eight hens. I tell them they are "good girls". We had a slightly more mild day this past weekend, so I pushed and shoved at the gate to the chicken run and shoveled snow away enough to be able to open their little chicken door and they came outside onto a muddy little patch for a couple of hours. 

I decided to actually act upon one of the MANY recipes I have pinned in Pinterest, and made something called French onion baked chicken. It involved a lot of caramelized onions and mozzarella and parmesan cheese. It was so good. It tasted just like french onion soup. When did ordering french onion soup in a restaurant become out of fashion? I remember ordering it often back in the 80's. That, and caesar salad, were very common to have as your main meal. 

As of this morning, I have thirteen teaching days left. I have been purging my things, leaving items and resources in the staffroom for anyone who wants them. Of course, I am leaving some in my room, as well for the new teacher. It is the little things, that I've kept over the years in drawers and cubbies that have meaning. Years and years of class pictures, a little sculpted clay pumpkin with googly eyes made by a student, a small painting of a toucan from another student, SO many pins with slogans on them from years of contract negotiations and strike actions, an ancient troll doll given to me from a student from my very early days of teaching... What has brought particular joy, has been files that I have labelled "Happy File" from a couple of schools. My very first principal, who I admired greatly, told me I should keep such a file and put positive notes from parents, and little hand-written cards from students in there, because there would be days when I would need to look at them. She was absolutely right. I went through such a file yesterday, wishing the students had written their last names on the cards and little notes that told me I was "the best teacher in the world" (haha, until their next year's teacher came along!) because I've taught so many I couldn't recall anymore who it was. I was close to tears when I finally removed (but not discarded) a special items from my top drawer yesterday reminding me of a sweet girl who I taught for two years, who died along with her sister and father, in a house fire. 

We are now considered to be in a "Green Zone" due to our Covid numbers being so low. Our province in only just getting organized to vaccinate people over 80 years of age. It is beyond me why it can't be done like flu shots by pharmacists, all very organized, quick, easy, using everybody's health cards as data in an already existing database. Sigh. 

I just read in our little local freebie newspaper, a notice saying that my family doctor is retiring as of May 1st. There was nothing sent out to the patients. There is no information regarding any other physician taking over his patients. So, our family will now be one of so many orphaned patients without a family doctor who will have to go to the emergency department for any of our medical needs. I am not begrudging my doctor his retirement, but I am very displeased with the lack of communication to his patients. It takes A LOT for me to start to trust any physician, so this gives me an anxiety that I have to work hard to control. I know I'm not alone in this situation, however, as a close friend of mine had her doctor retire, too, and she also goes to emerg. for all of her medical needs.

Eee gads, I've written a lot for something that was just supposed to be a quick catch-up and it's time I had breakfast and get going to work. Over and out.