Tuesday 9 April 2024

April 9, 2024

 Today was lovely and mild and warm. I baked cookies, something I haven’t done since Christmas preparations. I did my walk through the village ( made myself a promise to get back into daily walking). I cut back my limelight hydrangeas by the pool fence. 

Then later the rain came and it started to hail. It wasn’t significantly large hail, but hail nonetheless. It has cleared now after supper. I made pork chops in the air fryer and they turned out great. Have you tried smoked paprika? It’s fabulous on chops or chicken pieces ( with garlic and onion powder).

Yesterday was eclipse day. I was stuck in the city where I have to go for follow up oncology appointments. I made it home in time to see husband and son on the back porch with welding face shields, watching the last of it. It did not become dark here, but certainly dimmer. I might be one of few people who didn’t get particularly excited about the eclipse. It was overcast earlier in the day, but cleared up in time to witness most of it.

Right now I’m sitting composing this on my phone and husband is on the other couch watching a YouTube video about the making of The Great Escape. It might be his favourite movie, or one of them. ( If you aren’t familiar, the movie is based on the real experiences of prisoners of war who dug tunnels and devised other ways of escaping. Later, the tv show Hogan’s Heros was based on it as well).

Do you have a person in your life who is a movie buff? What are their favourite movies? Did you watch the eclipse? Did you care? That’s all for now - thanks for reading my little blog!

Saturday 30 March 2024


 When I was out for my walk this afternoon, after baking the lemon cake that we are having tomorrow, I ran into a lovely woman, the daughter of a widowed woman in the village. We had a nice chat, she also does supply teaching, but not at any of the schools I go to. 

After I continued on my walk, I wracked my brain trying to remember her name. I went letter by letter through the alphabet, and never did come up with it. 

It drives me nuts when I can’t remember a name and trust me when I tell you that I have thousands of names stored in my head and it is often that I have to spend a bit of time recalling them. I’m now in my thirty- third ( fourth?) year of teaching ( albeit not full time any more) and with a class of approximately 25 students, that’s 825 names at the very least . Of course I would know students from other classes, or their siblings, let alone their parents’ names or grandparents. Let’s add in various staff members, some you know for years, others who come and go quickly. 

Of course, I’ve had occasions where someone says hi to me while I’m out shopping and I realize he or she is a previous student ( from twenty odd years ago) and they change of course. Sometimes I know their name right away, and other times I ask for a little reminder.

But getting back to my walk and the thoughts that run through my head, I got thinking how names can be popular for a while and then you won’t hear of anyone with that name at all. Being around small children for all these years, I’ve really noticed the name trends.

I’m 57 years old and some girl names when I was young were Jeannie, Linda, Heather, Tracey, Sharon, Wanda, Kristine, Colleen, Carolyn, Lisa, Sherry, or Angie. None of those names are popular now, at least where I’m from. 

Boy names go through trends. Husband and I used to joke about cowboy names beings a thing a while back : Cody, Dylan, Maverick, Wyatt…

Lately there has been an onslaught of what I refer to as the “on” names for boys: Bryson, Carson, Tyson, Jaydon, Jordan, Jackson, Brandon, Kaden, Landon, Trenton…

For a while there were also boys named after hockey players, both first and last names being inspirational. 

Creative spelling of names has also become a thing. I always feel a little sorry for the child, knowing they will forever be spelling their name out loud to people when filling out forms or signing up for things.

There are the traditional names that still stand the test of time but you don’t hear them a lot. I knew one William, a couple of Johns, quite a few Emmas ( that was my grandmother’s name). 

Have you known any youngsters with your name? Is your name quite unique or one of many? Any “creative “ names popping up in your families? Do you also have a little difficulty recalling someone’s name after not seeing them for a while? Share in the comments if you wish.

Sunday 24 March 2024

Joys of Home "Ownership"

 We finally have hot water (and the heat ensuing with our portions of in-floor heat as well), but it was a rocky road to get there. Husband decided to call in the experts, a local heating and plumbing company. This involved a visit, a diagnosis, an ordering of a part, waiting for the part, another visit, a rediagnosis involving an additional part, waiting two more days for that part, a third visit, then.... a strong smell of propane in the house - on a Friday - yes, after closing, after hours. We all know what that means. 

Husband phoned the company back, found out they close early on a Friday, called their emergency after hours number and a different guy came back, discovered that first guy had not done a proper job (MASSIVE EYE ROLL AND SWEARING ON MY PART, BUT NOT DIRECTLY AT THE GUY) and the job was fixed properly. We were assured by second guy that we would not be charged the $350 after hours fee (I'll believe that when I see it). 

This all, of course, has occurred during our third winter or false spring or whatever you want to call the latest drop in temperature and snowfall. Coincidentally, we have been having issues with the downstairs bathroom toilet, at the same time. Husband, fearless as ever, has literally dismantled the toilet and snaked it and checked all kinds of things and treated it for "organic iron" build up which we do have with our water... alas the problems, despite his efforts, have continued, to the point where we were up until well past 1:00 a.m. with son trying to figure out this problem, taking apart things in the basement and well, you don't need all the details. 

I think this was a "the leg bone's connected to the hip bone" situation. It's too much of a coincidence that we should have both of these problems at the same time and for them not to be related. So today, fearless husband is trying to determine if there is an ice damn somewhere in the system. This even involves checking into the septic system. The man saves us hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars by tackling things himself. However I wouldn't mind if we were independently wealthy and could just hire someone to do it for us (however, that didn't work out so well with the propane fired hot water heater, did it?)

Thank goodness for the addition that we built onto this old house years ago, so we can still use the bathroom over there, but we are currently not using ANY water on the "old" side of the house for specific reasons. Oh well, at least I got a couple of loads of laundry in yesterday and had a shower. 

I am weary. I am despising the issues that have caused so many inconveniences and days (weeks) of waiting. And I'm not even the one getting down and dirty trying to work it all out. 

On the upside, it will be 13 degrees C tomorrow, so that's something to look forward to!!

Sunday 17 March 2024

Back Again

 It's been a while since I've posted. We were away again for a couple of weeks. Since I am such a homebody, I am very happy to be back in my own home, in my own bed, with my own stuff around me. I'd make a poor world traveler. 

We had some Spring. Now we have some Winter. This too shall pass. 

We have a defunct water heater (propane) and husband is waiting on a part which could only be obtained through american amazon. It will have taken six days to arrive. I have been boiling water on the stove to wash dishes. We do cold water laundry (no big deal). We do have a small electric hot water heater to provide hot water to a third bathroom in an addition of our house, so we can take short showers. 

The ironic thing about this is, the place we were staying in on part of our trip didn't have hot water either and I was boiling water on a stove to do dishes. While I was there, I felt very "third worldish" and now that I'm home doing the same thing, I feel very "pioneerish". I'll be very happy to have things fixed. 

I do not have much to contribute. I'm watching the new episodes of Somebody Feed Phil on Netfix and the season 13 episodes of Vera on Britbox, via Prime video. I just picked up some books at the library - a Janet Evanovich (#28) and some James Patterson (the most recent Alex Cross ones). I haven't been teaching due to being away and this past week has been March Break, so no school. 

I'm patiently awaiting real Spring. Happy St. Patrick's Day. I am having corned beef and cabbage tonight. 

Sunday 18 February 2024

Sunday, February 18, 2024

 "Fool's Spring" is definitely over and winter has returned. We have had a tremendous amount of snow over the past couple of days with more coming today. The drive way was shoveled twice yesterday and will need shoveling again today. (We have a big double driveway that normally is cleared by a man with a tractor and snowblower and we pay him for it, but I think he is on holidays right now.) 

Yesterday I spent a lot of time cleaning the house - really cleaning. Tub scrubbing, taking everything off dressers and night tables and thoroughly dusting. I bought the Method brand wood cleaner a while ago and like it. It has an almond extract scent, one I can tolerate. Many cleansers are too scented for me, sending me into a post nasal coughing fit. 

Scooter sheds in clumps (long haired cat) and I am forever picking up after him. I call our upstairs hallway the path of fur. I also baked an apple cake. 

Today, we are all getting together (us, the "kids", and Nana) for a little visit and early supper (Nana gets antsy, thinking she should return back "home", which is her nursing home, so we try to eat earlier). It will be cabbage roll casserole and garlic toast tonight. Apple cake is for dessert.  I'll make the casserole today, ahead of time. 

Thanks to everyone who commented about the air fryer. So far, I think I have realized that I am using it for too long each time. However long it says on a package to put something in the oven is definitely too long in the air fryer. I have made frozen pre-cooked chicken wings (I don't really like wings, but son does) which were o.k., frozen french fries which were stupendously better than done on a cookie sheet in the oven, Marc Angelo pork souvlaki which I over cooked the first time and was better with less time the next, and pieces of fish which I breaded myself which were pretty good. 

I am glad I did not go out and purchase a new one. I see the air fryer as something like my bread maker and instant pot. Used a lot at the beginning until the novelty wears off and then I get tired of how much space it takes up on the counter and re-arrange something in the pantry and store it away, then rediscover it again months later...

Tomorrow is Family Day, a made-up holiday in February. I have no idea why we have it, but we do. I decided to have the get together today, so the working kids could feel like they truly had a day off to do absolutely nothing tomorrow. 

I purchased some root touch up for my hair. I've dyed my own hair now for quite a few years. It usually looks fine. I go for a "dark blonde" which is actually more like light brown. I decided to break things up a bit and bought a highlighting kit. It even has the cap with the little holes to pull the strands through. We shall see how that goes. I might, perhaps, give you a before and after (but only if it turns out o.k.) I've highlighted my hair before, years ago. It turned out all right. I just won't go crazy and pull the hair through every little hole in the cap, that might be a bit too much. Any other brave souls out there who colour their own hair, or have even dabbled in highlights?

I have been substitute teaching a bit here and there. For the last couple of years, the government allowed retired teachers to sub. a bigger amount of days before it affected their pensions. This year, however, they kept the number of days at the minimum amount, so I have to be careful and spread my days out over the course of the school year. It is silly that they haven't increased the amount again because schools are still having to bring in "emergency" people. That means it could be anybody from a university student without a teaching degree or to someone's grandma. She could be the nicest lady, but regardless she has had no training and doesn't know the ins and outs of the rules we must abide by in teaching. 

I've spent enough time at the computer (yes, I'm using an old desk top right now), and must carry out fresh water for the chickens' heated water bucket, making my way through my path in the snow. I hope you all have a good rest of your weekend and happy Family Day to any Canadians out there!

Sunday 4 February 2024

"Treating Myself" Feb. 4, 2024

 I am now the proud owner of an air fryer. But, if you know me, I didn't go out and buy a $199.00 Ninja special edition or whatever is out there. I bought one from somebody in a neighbouring town for $40.00 through Facebook marketplace. It has barely been used from what I can tell and came to me very clean, along with the manual. 

I've been curious about air fryers and this is the perfect way to decide if I would really use it all that often without making a huge commitment. 

So here's my question: for those of you who have already taken the plunge into air fryer world, what do you make that's really great, convenient, surprising, yummy, etc.? Also, do you line the tray with anything?

Thanks ahead of time for any and all suggestions. 

Meanwhile, it is a beautiful morning, in my opinion. There is a thick layer of frost on all branches and it looks magical. It likely won't translate well into pictures, but here are a couple:

As you can see, we don't have much snow. I'm not complaining. Have a lovely Sunday!

Monday 29 January 2024

Monday, Jan. 29, 2024

 I'm slow to get back into the rhythm of things here. I have taught two days since coming back home. Mostly I've been tending to the hens and getting back into my (usually) daily walks through my little village. 

I walk alone with no distractions. My route is the same streets but sometimes I change the direction or I add a loop to cover more distance. In the nicer weather, there are sometimes other people with whom to exchange pleasantries, but in this cold that is a rarity. I have a couple of dogs who still bark at me from behind fences or from inside houses. 

Mostly I think.  I go over a lot of things in my mind during my walks. I plan ahead, I think about my family, I think about my to-do list, and I think about the village. I do not live in an idyllic "chocolate box" village where people lovingly tend their window boxes and stroll about with their pretty babies. I live in a scrappy little collection of streets ripped up by the snow plow inhabited by locally raised seniors and young families who can't afford to live in better, bigger homes. As I've said, there are few if any amenities: a mechanic, a plumber, a post office, a community centre, a fire hall. There is no corner store. There is no gas station. 

Many people who live here have bigger things to worry about than maintaining a pretty yard or putting on new siding, or picking up the random garbage that blows out of the recycle boxes. Sure, there are some who keep things tidy and take pride in their surroundings, and those are the ones that, by comparison, really stand out in the little community. But for the most part, the properties are tired, worn down, somewhat messy, and in previous economies, cheap - much like their owners or renters. 

I walk past a place that in my mind I refer to as "the hoarder house". It is a small one storey house that has had a car bumper on its front lawn for more than a year. The boxes and random objects sprout from the porch of the house and make their way down both sides of the drive way. They continue into the back yard. I know there is a young woman and a child who live there, or at least I have seen then in the nice weather. I often wonder how much room the child has inside the house. Personally, I think hoarding is sign of mental illness, but I'm no expert.

I walk past another place that has an exterior combination of various greens - mint, olive, kelly... Inside that house lives a pair of grandparents who have taken over the raising of five (I think) grandchildren for what has been hinted at as good reason. They have created a haven in the backyard of a collection of swings, tree houses, bird houses, and seasonal decorations. 

There is another place I walk past that used to be a school. I will come back and edit this with the date on the outside of this big brick building later, after my walk today, if I remember to take note. It is a big, two storey structure with two entrances and I think it was actually a secondary school. I find it funny that this little village was "booming" enough to have a highschool, but of course it would have drawn from outside areas. Now it has been converted into apartments. It seems to house a collection of men, some older, some young enough to be away all day working, but sometimes I see them gathered round the back with a small campfire, talking, with a dog keeping them company. There is a work truck parked there, but it seems to always be there, so maybe there is no work for that person. 

Then there is a sweet little house lived in by a widow who I sometimes see walking to her granddaughter's house. She always changes up her seasonal decorations and things are cheery and bright. I look to see what is coming up in her flower beds and have serious clematis envy, as her two climb over wooden trellises and bloom like crazy. 

There are times, especially early spring when the snow is melting and all the garbage and "stuff" that was hidden by sbow becomes visible again, sometimes never to be dealt with, when I desperately hate this village. I'm happy to just stay put in my own house and not look anywhere else. We are at the end of a dead end street, but now new houses have been built across from us, so we no longer look out at fields of grain or corn. 

But then spring flows into summer and plants are blooming and those people who do care are cutting their lawns and saying hello and there are enough nice things to look at that they outweigh the bad. Why do we stay? Well, because it is home. This is where we raised out two kids. We are on an acre at the outside of the village, away from everyone else (or we once were) in a big old yellow brick house and I've created flower beds and a vegetable garden. Husband built a pool and a big gazebo and a chicken coop. We have been able to have a little oasis at the end of our road with relatively low (although they have increased) taxes. And our closest neighbours either are never there or are rarely there (they were in that group from the big city that decided to buy in rural areas during Covid). Would I like to live somewhere else? Yes, sometimes, but not yet. Not now. For lots of reasons. (Couldn't even imagine having to pack up our lives - husband's garage alone would be a nightmare!). 

So I get out and I walk. And I think all these thoughts and then about 23 to 30 minutes later, I come back to our home, having filled my lungs with fresh air and done something good for my body and carry on with my life. 

Monday 22 January 2024

Monday, January 22, 2024 - getting my feet back under me

We went away. We are now back. I have done laundry and cleaned up the house, and started back into my walking routine through my little village. Our son, who lives here as well, took care of cats and hens for which we are grateful. 

We were in Florida with friends who are very much Florida oficionados. We drove down with them and flew home separately, as they stayed for a while longer. I have only been to Florida one other time, shortly after husband and I married. It was the year of the "storm of the century" when highways were closed and weather was awful. Perhaps it was 1992?? This time, ironically, the temperatures were unseasonably cool, the skies overcast and rainy. I have never been in hot tubs more frequently in my entire life. I will not bore you with a multitude of vacation photos, but here are just a few:

We had a day here and husband loved it. I also liked it, but didn't have the same knowledge or interest as husband, but it was still a good day. Windy as heck!

We agreed to go to one Disney park, so we chose Epcot. 

Ridiculously, one of the highlights for me was seeing manatees. This fellow is a rescue who lives at the aquarium in Epcot. 

Our friends are very much Disney people and we stayed here, Wilderness Lodge, for three nights. Did you know they pipe in cricket sounds in the evening to add to the effect? Now you know.

And it just wouldn't be a post without a Murphy picture. I'm not sure what the message is here. We were unpacking and putting away suitcases and this happened. If possible, he is now wider of girth than before we left. 

We did time it well in terms of the weather at home. There were days of closed roads and bus cancellations for schools (schools always remain open however). It is still pretty darn cold, but things are supposed to "warm up" later this week. 

I am happy to be home. Our friends showed us many interesting things during our time down south. There are so many communities for retirees, everything from trailer parks to luxurious homes in gated communities. We are not, however, Disney people. I just don't feel the need to go back and the commercialism and contrived world just isn't for me and husband. But for those who do like it, fill your boots!

It is unfortunate about the lack of sunshine while in Florida, but that is nobody's fault. At least it was green. Everywhere we stayed had pools which were heated and glorious hot tubs. I've never really been a hot tub person, but I was those two weeks. As well, we ate. A lot. Time to stop eating. A lot. 

Today my excitement may consist of putting away clean laundry and mopping the kitchen floor.