Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Who really likes to do house work? And who really likes to have their picture taken?

I will confess that I do not. Never have, probably never will. I consider it a necessary evil.

Tonight the bedroom needed to be worked on and I found a creative solution to not having my picture taken this Christmas.

People with facial injuries aren't popular subjects for the Christmas photo shoot.

So I worked away at the bedroom clutter and I was making good head way when...


Face meet the top of a clear acrylic water glass.

The glass was tall because I live with 3 cats that steal bedside water if you don't used a tall skinny glass that they can't get their thieving mugs into.

I knew the glass was there on some level. I was aware of it and had made a mental note to take it to the kitchen on my next trip there. But I guess I was close enough to it that when I bent over I just never saw it. That and the fact that the glass was so much taller than your average glass that I probably thought I had at least 4 inches more space before my face was going to connect with a hard object.

At first I was shocked and quiet.

And then...

I cried. I will confess that I cried.


Like a small child.

It hurt.


And it bled.

Actually quite alot.

More than I thought it would and I've always heard that facial cuts bleed like a son-of-a-gun.

It suprised me how much it bled.

But I don't think I broke my nose.

However I think it's gonna leave a mark.

I'm hoping it's only going to be a temporary mark.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Hidden By Gortglas Lough

Hidden By Gortglas Lough (5x5 pen and graphitint pencil)

I finally was able to do something for the Virtual Paintout hosted by Bill Guffney. This month Bill has sent us to County Clare in Ireland. It was really wonderful to walk around this area of Ireland. But frustrating in a way because I was looking for sheep and never did see any. I saw some cattle but... I didn't want to paint those, or the horses I saw. I did find a border collie but the dog was from Galway as were most of the cattle and horses so they were out as subjects.

On a whim I plopped myself down on a road by Gortglas Lough and saw this. I was so happy and surprised! I took one step to the right and turned back to the left and found the view I wanted to use. And from there it was pretty easy. I did a sketch and then inked it with a micron pen. I decided that I wanted colour and used my graphitint pencils washed with water to add the tinted colour.

I'm happy with the results and was even happier when I showed it to a friend who immediately said, "It's a canoe!"

If only I was there and could find that canoe and go for a paddle in the lovely Irish sunshine.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Fleabitten Gray (11x14 graphite pencil) sold

Portrait of a horse in graphite pencil.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Ditch Racers

I was driving to town the other day and I had to smile.

Two children were playing in the ditch. How close to the road they were was a little scary I'll admit but it was what they were doing that made me smile. And remember some happy times my brother and I had as kids.

We have a little snow here right now. A very little bit of snow. There is enough that you need to wear boots because it's deep enough to spill into your shoes if you walk through it but not enough to be doing any serious winter stuff. Not enough for me to build a snowman... Which is what the barely below zero temperatures told me I wanted to be doing.

I saw movement at the far side of the road and looked over to see what was up.

There was a child with a snow racer and he plopped it down at the road side and then jumped on it and swooped it down the "hill" of the ditch into the bottom of it. There was another youngster at the bottom with his snow racer too. It made me smile... These two kids were obviously having a great time, putting alot of energy into the game, and I wonder what they were imagining as they played in the snow covered ditch which was only about 4 feet deep at the most and not that steep. Was it some sort of cliff they were taking their machines off the edge of? Were they on a steep mountainside trekking across some wilderness? Were they on snowmobiles jumping over drifts and flying across the snow?

Who knows?

When we were kids my brother and I used to build forts in the bushes, and of the bushes. We would remove all the dead branches from the center of a willow thicket and haul stones inside and other flat pieces of wood and that would be our fort. We imagined we were part of the Wind in the Willows book or some other adventure we had dreamed up. In the summer with all the thick leaves around us it was an excellent fort. No one could see us hiding there. We would spend hours there after we crawled through the hole in the leaves and branches to get to the center. At least that's what we believed. Now I'm not so sure how good the cover really was. And I can't go back and look anymore because that bunch of trees died when the water decided to invade that area. But the point was that we were doing something, we were using our imaginations and we were having fun.

In the winter we dug caves in the hard packed snow that drifted up against the willows on the slough near the yard. We would jump from the tops of the drifts and swim through the snow at the base of these cliffs. And in our mind they were cliffs, there was no doubting it, and there was deep water at the base. Now I'm not sure how tall those drifts were or how deep the snow really was. It seems like now there isn't as much snow as there was back then. I'm not sure if that's a climate thing or the fact that I'm just taller now and my perspective has changed.

It doesn't really matter. We were having a blast in those chilly rooms we carved out with a spade in our artic igloos each winter.

Those kids in the ditch brought back to my mind something I'd forgotten about. Made me smile to remember.

They made be feel both young and old at the same time....

Saturday, October 16, 2010

A Watermelon and Some Dairy Cows

There is a farm on my way to and from work that I drool over almost every time I pass it.

From and artistic perspective.

There are dairy cows and calves in a lovely little rolling pasture with a greying wooden hip-roofed barn and hay and straw bales surrounding it. The pasture is bordered on 3 of the 4 sides by large maple trees and has 2 or 3 large maple trees in it. The pasture backs up to a lovely old clapboard house with a small bunch of flowers behind it and between it and the pasture. There are a couple of old pieces of machinery that the hens wander through. The little calves are just so sweet and darling.

It all begs to be photographed and painted in some way. I want to take photos of everything and hoard them until I can figure out the best way to make that place come to life in some artistic way.

The light is perfect in that pasture at every time of day. In the morning it comes from the front but at an angle. All through the middle of the day it is overhead but still at a slight angle and in the late after noon it comes from the back and a bit off to the side. It hits those black and white cows and highlights every dip and bulge on them. The blacks have blues in them and the whites are golden. The light bounces off of the small rolling bumps in the closely cropped pasture and there are always shadows that show the depth of the land. The trees in the pasture cast lovely shadows on the ground and on the cattle. There is always side lighting. Even the back lighting in the evening is side lighting.

It is a golden place to me.

I have never stopped to take photos until this past Wednesday on the way home from work.

The cattle were all grouped up under a tree near the page wire fence line and were lying down to chew their cuds. There were Canada geese spread all out across the rest of the pasture right back to the treelines. The ground was this living moving mass of green and golden mouse brown with little white bums. I had to stop. I stayed back so I didn't alarm anyone and snapped away.

A hay wagon pulled in across the road and a fellow came over to talk to me. He told me to pull my truck in their driveway so that I didn't get it hit on the shoulder of the road and to take as many photos as I wanted. He told me to go in with them if I wanted to. They were quiet and wouldn't mind me. He gave me permission to sit and sketch there anytime I liked. He offered me a pumpkin and when I declined, saying I had some at home, he offered me a watermelon. Which I took him up on completely unable to believe my luck.

I found out he is milking 6 head right now. The rest are pregnant and dry. He just milks them to feed the calves. And then I realised they are veal calves... I was sad for a minute, they are so young and they will have such short lives. And then it hit me. Although they will have short lives they will be good lives. They are living out doors with each other and their mothers and they have freedom and space.

It drove home to me that quality is more important than quantity.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Bulloney - or Say Cheese

Mom and Dad have a relatively young bull on the Ranch.

He's quiet. Well pretty quiet. As far as I know he's never made it his life's mission to hurt anyone. Dad is selling him this fall but it isn't because he's hard to deal with from a temperment perspective. It's just a pain in the butt to have a bull around before calving is over in the spring. You can end up with a drastically early calving season the next year if he gets creative and crawls a fence. It's easier to get a bull after calving is over so that you can decided when his fun starts rather than him.

I was taking some pictures of the herd up the hill towards the west of the house. They were all sort of artistically spread out and the light was just nice.

He was up pretty close and watching me pretty close and made his way up through the trees to the water trough near the house.

When he was done with his drink he decided that he wanted to check out my camera. I tell you he is almost as bad and Mom and Dad's youngest horse who is almost impossible to get a decent picture of unless he is on the opposite side of the fence from you. And then you still can't get a good photo because the fence is in the way. That boy wants to be petted so bad that you can't get far enough away from him to even get his entire head in the frame.

And the bull was almost the same. I'd squat down to take his picture... to be clear there was a 3-rail fence separating us that I was doing my best to get a photo without it being in...this involved me trying to lean between the two lower rails out into his part of the world... and he'd walk up and put his head down and try and smell the camera...and I would lean back into my part of the world.

I did get some photos of him that I liked from that angle and then I got some more traditional bull photos from the side that showed what kind of bull he is.

My artsy shots are fine for artsy things but to show a bull's confirmation you really need a shot from the side. That will show you how long in the back they are, what kind of legs they have, basically give you a good idea of what kind of calf they might throw.

I climbed through the fence farther away from him so that I could get a shot without the rails obstructing the view. He stood pretty quietly for me while Dad urged me to get a little farther out beside him to get the right angle.

In the back of my mind I was thinking that I was getting pretty far from safety and trying to keep mental track of all the tree branches and holes that were between me and the nearest fence but he really is a quiet bull and he let me finish the photo shoot and then hung around for a few more close-ups afterwards too.

He even let me scratch his head. Once. Just for a second. Until he got a little weirded out by this stranger touching him. Until I decided I'd probably tempted fate long enough and that I didn't need a broken arm or a broken camera and stopped.

We sort of mutually agreed we'd both had enough.

Then I squatted down and took another photo and he came over and tried to smell my camera again.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Cud is the Key

The first thing Mom and I did on our little mini 4-wheeler run was to go up to the far west pasture/hay field and check the cattle.

On the way up I had to stop to take some pictures of a gopher who was kind enough to stand up and chirp at me and pose for several minutes.

Mom came back to find me.

When we got to the gate at the top of the hill we looked out over the pasture and saw not a single cow in sight.

Which is a little odd because it isn't that big of a pasture and although it isn't flat as a pancake at the Ranch, there really isn't anywhere for 28 cows, 27 calves and 1 black angus bull to hide. They had either truly accomplished something spectacular or they had all cut and run. And that would have been a problem.

There is one hill at the far end of the pasture that that many cattle could potentially get behind so we decided to run up along the fence and head for that spot to see if that's where they all were.

We hadn't gotten that far when we looked across the pasture and saw a string of calves hot footing it out from behind the relatively small hill created by the dug out being made. They were apparently all having a drink at the same time from the water trough which is filled by a solar powered water pump. The dugouts in the two cow pastures are fenced to keep the water clean and to keep anybody from falling in and drowning.

I gotta say I never would have thought that close to 60 head of cattle could've been hiding behind that mound of dirt.

But they were indeed there.

The cows and the bull all came out from behind it as well.

They headed over towards us and we met them roughly in the middle and tried to count them to make sure nobody small had slipped through a fence somewhere.

Mom and I both got 29 adults right away. No problem.

But we both seemed to keep getting 25 calves.

The little suckers get behind their mothers, or they move or they lie down behind someone else or they are on the opposite side of there mom nursing and she is blocking them from view. We were on one side of the whole herd so Mom drove into the middle of them to see if that would make it easier to get a look around the mama cows. It didn't really help that much.

We both ended up sort of taking turns standing on the seat of Mom's 4-wheeler and counting over and over and over again. We finally got 27. We counted them up twice to make sure we weren't double counting anyone but as Mom pointed out nobody was bellering like their baby was missing so the amount of counting we'd done was probably overkill.

I took some pictures of the cows.

But I like to get a different angle on them

I like to squat down and shoot up at them. You get a nice little angle on their faces.

When I'm standing up they can be a little wary of me. They are quiet animals, except for 2 of them, but they don't know me from Adam. I keep my mouth closed or speak quietly and I try not to make any shocking moves. They generally just watch me but their on a mild sort of alert. If I were to move to fast they'd probably bolt.

But when I squat down I become a curiousity.

I squatted down with my back to the 4-wheeler that Mom was on. She watched my back in case someone got too excited.

And something really cool happens at that point.

They all take a step towards me rather than away from me. The calves come in close. One, Speckles, came in so close I touched his little nose. While I was doing that Mom said I came close to getting licked by another calf. Even the adult cows come up really close to me. If I was standing they would never dream of coming within arm's length but when I squat down like that they come right up to me.

As I was taking pictures of them I noticed that they were all starting to chew their cud and some of them were even lying down. Definitely not stressed. They have to be pretty relaxed to do that.

I'm not sure what they thought I was but apparently they decided that I wasn't a threat and thankfully the bull stayed back and away and didn't spoil it.

He's pretty quiet too but if he'd've decided to come up and check me out I can tell you that I wouldn't have been just squatting there thinking isn't this cool anymore.

But he stayed out of the picture. His photo shoot had been this morning. So I guess he was happy enough with that.

It's funny. Some cows chew with their mouth open. Guess their mamas never told them it's not polite to do that.

We should've waited and counted once the cud chewing began.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

X-Files on 4-Wheelers

After the train with it's mystery man went by we started up the 4-wheelers and headed for the old campground about a half a mile away. My younger brother and I used to ride our bikes over there in the summer to get fudgsicles and revels for ourselves and then bring an icecream treat home to Mom and Dad as well. We'd pedal as hard and as fast as we could on those old bikes. Banana seats and one speed and to brake you pedalled backwards. I tell you the 4-wheelers were alot faster than our little legs were.

And Mom really gave it when she crossed the highway. I was impressed. I would've waited but she just put her thumb to the handle bars and I had no choice but to give it to. Well I had a choice but if my Mom could do it then I could do it too!

The campground was a wreck. It was sad to see it like that. The windows were all broken and boarded up on the office but there was one that was smashed and hadn't been boarded up. So we went inside the old campgound office to look around and it was so sad to see that the vandals had completely trashed the whole thing.

I used to be such an nice campground and if the government had kept it up it would be amazing now because the trees have grown up. The roads were all paved and alot of the sites had electricity hook-ups. Now it's all overgrown and alot of the paving is getting pretty rotten.

But we did see this mysterious sign before we went into the park that said :

Enter at your own risk.

It wasn't on the main gate. It wasn't in the spot where the vandals cut the fence and go in. It was in it's very own spot.

And then when we came out of the old office we saw a fluorescent orange dotted line painted on the pavement.

"Let's follow that," Mom said.

I nodded and we tracked it down to a spot where it led off into what used to be bush but now had been largely cleared of the trees and had all of these odd orange posts with hinged tops and lengths of orange bailer twine tied to them.

We opened one of the tops. They weren't locked although the top did have a spot where there should have been a padlock to prevent prying eyes. Inside was a PVC tube with a screw cap on it and the bailer twine was attatched to that and the outside of the metal post around it.

Someone had thrown down a pair of surgical gloves beside one of the orange posts.

It was very strange.

We took pictures.

We felt like we were investigating some strange scene.

It was like a TV show or a movie.

It felt like a combination of CSI and the X-Files.

We went back to the paved road and kept following the dotted line out a back road that was no longer paved.

And saw even more of those orange posts.

They were all around the old dump from the campground.

We took more pictures.

When we ran into Dad after our fence fixing later on we told him all about it. I found the pictures on my camera and showed them to him. We told him about the bailer twine. He asked if there was a PVC pipe inside. I showed him that picture. Mom and I wondered if they were natural gas test holes or something like that. Mom told him that they were even out by the old dump.

Dad pointed out that they were probably test holes drilled to make sure that the old dump hadn't contaminated the ground water.

My Dad could beat both Gil Grisolm and Mulder with his eyes closed.

Me, maybe not so much....

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Train Graffiti and Hobos

Went to visiti my Mom and Dad last week in Saskatchewan.

My Mom took me 4-wheeling - it was a check the cows, tour the old campground and check fence sort of trip.

It's funny what can make you smile.

As I was following Mom up our road to where we'd have to cross the rail road tracks and then a highway a train came along. The CP Rail runs along the entire south border of Mom and Dad's ranch.

When I saw the engine coming I thought to myself, "I wonder if the engineer's still wave back at you if you wave at them?"

They always waved at us as kids and sometimes they'd even blow the whistle at us too. The caboose guys always waved too and you ALWAYS got to see them because you had to wait for the caboose to go by in order to cross the tracks. And the guys in the caboose always used to wave at us if we were out in the pasture when the trains went by too. You don't always get to see the engineer. We frequently met up with the middle of trains rather than the fronts of them.

Anyways I decided to see if engineers will still wave at you.

I gave him a wave, he waved right back at me and I ended up as excited as a six year old and wearing the biggest grin I had in a while.

I pulled up to Mom farther along the road and we shut off the 4-wheelers to wait for the train to go by.

"I like the graffiti on the trains," Mom said.

"I do to," I said.

I always have liked the graffiti on the trains. I realise that it's vandalism and illegal but it is also often pretty darned creative and cool to look at. And it was really neat to realise that Mom and I both liked something uniquely odd that we'd never ever talked about before.

As we were sitting there I heard a wolf whistle and looked around.

"There's a guy on the train!" I told Mom.

He waved at me and she turned around to look at him too.

"Did you get his picture?" she asked.


I had thought about it but I was so shocked to see this man squatting on the hitch between the two cars and waving at us that by the time my brain processed the steps to take the picture he was too far away to get a picture of him. I settled for taking a long shot of the train across the open prairie a little later on instead. Where I grew up it is possible to see the entire length of a train that is over a half a mile long all at the same time and get it all into one frame on the camera. The sky is that big where I grew up.

We couldn't figure out who he was and what he was doing there. They put a second engine on alot of the trains that run that stretch of track and this train had that extra bit of power but he was at least 10 cars ahead of that second engine. The train was going really slowly so we wondered if he'd hopped on to hitch a ride. But I sort of thought he was wearing a safety vest and we hadn't ever heard of hobos wearing reflective orange and yellow safety vests but if he worked for CP he shouldn't have been where he was in the first place and maybe I imagined the vest. There is a switch about 2 miles from our crossing at an inland grain terminal but the train didn't have any grain cars on it. It was completely full of sea containers.

So we were stumped.

So we enjoyed some more train graffiti while we contemplated our hobo and I waited for the guy in the caboose.

And then I remembered that there aren't any guys in the caboose anymore because they did away with the cabooses a few years ago.

But somehow I still got the customary two waves out of this train!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Colour Challenged

I was invited to do a sample for this week's colour challenge over at Splitcoaststampers and I was so incredibly flattered to be asked. I was thrilled!
The colours were:
Always Artichoke
Blushing Bride
Marine Mist
And there was a desert option to do embossed frames but more than 1 per card.
I can't resist desert so I had some of that as well as playing with the colours.
I was over in the States today and on the way over my truck got x-rayed along with 5 other ones. I guess it had to do with heightened security becasue of 9/11 and I can understand that. The border guards were very nice and it all went really quickly too.
But if I'd thought about it I probably wouldn't have gone across this close to the anniversary of that horrible day.
My Tool Man and I watched a slide show on the internet and the coverage on TV about it and it still makes me want to cry, thinking about all the people that died and remembering hearing about it on the radio and then seeing it on TV when I got home from work that evening.
My heart goes out to all of the people who lost loved ones.
But since I was there I decided to pop into JoAnn's and have a look around. And while I was there this cat stamp just followed me home. I just couldn't resist her and I brought her home with me and knew that I had to use her to make one of my sample cards today.

Cat card
Stamps: Inkadinkado
Ink: SU Basic Black craft, Marine Mist, Blushing Bride, Always Artichoke
Clear embossing powder
Just a Note card
Stamps: Kraftin' Kimmie, Hero Arts
Ink: Memento and as above
Copics BG72 as Marine Mist with BG70 and 79, R30 with RV21 as Blushing Bride and YG 99 as Always Artichoke with YG96 and 00

Friday, September 10, 2010

Kiss It Better

Not a great day at work today...

Cat wrestling is not a sport I excell at. I usually disarm them with my charm and understanding and they usually respond to the low stress, low restraint approach I take.

Until today.

No wrestling needed.

Until today.

I very rarely get bitten.

Until today.

Today I got bitten on both of my thumbs by a cat. It really wasn't his fault. He couldn't probably have helped himself if he'd thought to try to.

But it was a nasty, nasty bite. My thumbs got gnawed on. He chomped my right one and when I pried him off of that thumb with my left hand he clamped down on my left thumb too.

Apparently when I said, "Ow, ow, ow, ow, ow!" It was louder and not as calm and rational sounding as I was attempting to make it. In my head I very cool and calmly said "Ow, ow, ow," as I gently removed his teeth from my right thumb.

And it bled... Alot... Which is good because hopefully that flushes some of the bacteria back out with the blood. But it is bad if you are the poor people that had to clean up after me. Normally I clean up my own messes but they, the poor people, let me off this time.

When we got done handling him, I turned around and there stood one of my technicians, syringe with teat cannula (so she could flush out the bite wounds more effectively) in hand along with a bowl of antiseptic soloution.

"No," I said.

"We have to flush it," she said.

"That won't work very well," I said.

I'm slightly notorious for not being good at getting needles or at having someone else dig things out of my hands. I let this gal do it because she is good at it, patient and gentle, and she likes to do it. But usually I have to sit down and have someone else forcibly hold my hand in place so I don't jerk it away.

"We'll get help," she said.

I am bad at getting needles. But what the problem is is that I have a really strong vagal vagal response - bascially you give me a needle and my nervous system has a reflex that tells me to feel light headed and faint - and I can't control it. It's annoying and embarassing. And it makes nervous to have needles and stuff done to me even if I'm not even afraid of it per se. Because you just never know, you know.

We compromised. I soaked my thumbs in the antiseptic and she watched me. And I confirmed that I had not been lying to all those animals in the past whom I've confidently told that the antiseptic doesn't sting.

Well, it stings a little bit. But only a little. And much less than the hydrogen peroxide my Mom wielded all throughout my childhood.

I have to take pills 3 times a day for 7 days.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Emergency Flutterby Instructor

This was done for Mother Mark's Teapot Tuesday Challenge over at Splitcoaststampers.
This week we are visiting Coconut Creek, Florida. Butterfly capital of the world and home to the National Butterfly Behaviour Foundation.
The challenge was Top Gun inspired as well and since I am that age Top Gun and the Tom Cruise of that era made my teenage heart fo pitter patter. I knew exactly what I would do for this challenge which is about 2 out of control young butterflies wanting to do a flyby on the administrative offices to make the secretary spill her tea.
I enlisted the help of Lavinia from Kraftin Kimmie and thought that she could be the NBBF's Charlie. Maybe she could get those boys undercontrol to avoid poor Emma, the secretary, getting tea all over herself.
I took a different slant than everyone else for this challenge but I like what I came up with even if it is unconventional.
Stamps: Lavinia - Kraftin' Kimmie, Silhouettes - Stampendous, Sentiment and butterflies - MFT
Ink: Memento, SU Baha Breeze, Vintage Violet, Blue Bayou, Distress Ink Walnut Stain
Paper: Melon Mambo, Neenah Solar White
Copics: R80's for the Pink and B40's for the blue. Hair is assorted E's in the 50 and 70 range.
Extras: Tim Holtz Texture Fade, MFT Cloud Die
I stamped and coloured Lavinia and the butterflies and then cut them out. I stamped the silhouette stamps inking both of them only paritally and then masked off the skyling and sponged BB for the sky and VV and BB for the tarmac. Then I did my embossing. All the layers have WS on them to distress them. I layered everything up and there you go!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Zebra at Sunset

This card was done for this weeks CAS challenge and last week's colour challenge over at Splitcoaststampers. Stamps are from Coronado Island (silhouette) and Artful Stamper (zebra).
I cut a piece of white paper, sponged on More Mustard, Melon Mambo and Pacific point and blended it all to make a sunset, then stamped on the skyline. I stamped the zebra, jazzed her up a bit with some W copics and then cut her out and popped her up. I hand wrote the sentinment.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

My Gran

My Gran used to love going on vacation to Hawaii. Mom and Dad have lava rock she brought home with her for us.

And she wore a mumu back in the 70's and 80's when that was "in".

I remember the swirly fabric and the smell of her perfume when I was a young child and we would sit together on her couch or out on her back deck.

I bought this stamp simply because it reminded me of my Gran.

She is in a nursing home now and doesn't really know anyone anymore.

Makes you realise that life isn't fair.

But what I'll always remember is my Gran, independent woman, widowed really young with a young son still at home. She moved to the "big city" and worked in a dress shop. I always thought that was so romantic, that she worked at what I thought was a very upscale ladies dress shop down town. I always thought she dressed so smartly too. If I'd known the word I would have thought she was chic back then. She ended up being an independent business woman and owne her own wallpaper business, Bertha's Wallpaper Patch. She sold it and hung it up for people. There must have been an artist somewhere inside of her.

She grew up poor in one of the poorest spots in southern Saskatchewan. Beautiful country if you ask me, the sandhills, but a hard hard hard place to try and farm and make a living. But they did it until my grandfather died when I was a small child of a heart attack and she was left to raise their youngest son on her own.

My Gran and the cereal she used to give us. The only time we ever got sugary cereal was at her house. Mom and Dad never told us we couldn't have it there but at home we were never allowed Lucky Charms or Corn Pops or Frosted Flakes. Gran got them for us though.

My Gran is the smell of fresh dried sheets on the line. Everytime I hang up my sheets or smell them I think if her. The sheets were always freshly washed and hung to dry at her house and there is just something about the way clean, line dried sheets feel and smell. It is pure heaven if you ask me.

My Gran was Yatzee and Uno. She was the best at Yatzee and could spot a full house across the room I swear. She knew exactly how to play the game to get the most points possible. Uno was a game she played with my brother and I when we were kids - it was easy to understand and fun to play.

My Gran was the baton she bought me when I was really young and S-O-F-T icecream. When I was even younger than the would be baton twirler me, she used to ask Mom and Dad if she could take us for S_O_F_T icecream. She would spell soft and then say icecream and we knew what was going on. I remember my parents telling the stories about it. I'm sure the way she said it was no accident... It was designed so we'd figure it out and it would be harder for Mom and Dad to say no to her if we were standing there begging!

My Gran in her chic mumu.

At least to my 10 year old self she was.

I loved her.

My Gran loved me.

I knew that and that was what was important.

Life is simpler when you're 10 and it's 1981.

Monday, August 23, 2010


OK I admit it.

This blog thing freaked me out last week.

I walked into a store and the gal that owns it asked me how my back was.

I said fine but in my head I was going through all the emails we had passed back and forth trying to remember if I had mentioned anything about my sore back. Then I wondered if a mutual friend may have told her I was in agony. I couldn't figure it out. How did she know I had a sore back????????

I don't have a good poker face.

Everything I thought probably scrolled across it in the 3 second it took to think it all.

"I read it on your blog," she said. "I thought I should check it out."

To be totally honest I never thought anybody read this thing.

I was glad that someone had. That isn't really why I do it. This is just sort of a handy place to keep track of stories and if my friends want to read it then it's there for them to take a gander. I guess I never really thought anyone else would read it though.

I was sorta stoked that someone had visited. To be honest.

But if I'm being totally honest it also sorta freaked me out.

I have to get one of those traffic monitors so I can tell if someone besides me comes here.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Snap, Crackle, Pop on a Life Saver

I feel like a giant Rice Crispie.

Without the milk.

Or at least my spine does.

We went boating on the St Lawrence River last weekend and it was a little rough at times.

I woke up the next morning with a fairly severe pain in my posterior and couldn't figure out what the deal was. I took myself off to yoga class where my Physio Phriend pronounced that I had likely jammed my back up. She even tried to manip me on the ground at the park but she couldn't get enough leverage on me to do it successfully.

So we completed our class with me avoiding everything that involved putting weight near the point of my tail bone.

The stretching seemed to help it alot and I thought I was getting better until Saturday.

My tooshie was even more tender at that point and by yesterday morning I was starting to hobble. So much so that my Physio Phriend noticed immediately when I got to yoga (which when it's not the sunny summertime we do in her physio clinic) and hauled me over to the dangerous physio bed (more on that bed later). And manip'd me right there on the spot.

I counted 5 or 6 snaps on the first manip and she got two more out of my back as well.

Thank God!

By then end of yoga I felt like a human being again and then by the afternoon I felt sooo much better.

Later that night I noticed my pelvis was clunking again and there was one spot in my back that went pop pop pop each time I moved. I can't figure out if it's in or its out but that is my bad spot and feels stiff right now so I'm sort of assuming it's not in the closet anymore. Then waking up this morning I felt at least 2 or 3 crackles in my upper back.

Frankly, I'm hoping they all were good cracks and I'll be back to normal.

I started doing my physio exercies this morning.... I know what they are. I spent 2 years in physio after 2 bad car accidents left my back as less than perfection.

But my big question is how in heaven did this happen????

Essentially my core is not as strong as it should be. Still not strong enough. Plus I'm horrified and slightly afraid to believe that I now am classified among those with a bad back.

But what, after discussion at yoga with all the girls and my Physio Phriend, seems to be the root of this incident is my lack of junk in the trunk. I have almost no bum. There is no padding there at all and that combined with the rough conditions and the boat slamming the waves a bit and me not concentrating on keeping my core strong in the boat seems to be enough to have sent me out of wack.

Apparently without enough padding, repeated banging of the tail bone can put your pelvis and back out.

So now I have come to the conclusion that I'm getting old and my back is never going to be the same.

What to do about the boat thing. I can't give that up. I just can't and won't.

My Physio Phriend suggested I take myself down to the friendly neighbourhood pharmacy and purchase myself and inflatable invalid ring to sit on. This should have enough cushiness to become that junk in the trunk I'm missing and save my tail bone from the repeated trauma that was the culprit here. It is essentially donut shaped - kind of like a life saver ring on a ship. She also advised me that since it deflates it is really portable and easy to stow and reinflate when needed. She though I should attatch it somehow to my clothing so it was always in the right position.

"Plus that way," she said, "If you fall overboard you can use it as a personal floatation device too."

Friday, August 13, 2010

Powerthawing Chickens 101

Who decides at the last minute to make what is essentially a roast chicken for a party???

Especially when you aren't in possession of a thawed chicken.

And double especially when you know the chicken you need will not be reacily available because it is not one of those 2-3 pounders they have at the grocery store that you seek.

Apparently that would be me.

I needed one for Jeffery's Mom's and The Artiste's combined birthday party dinner.

And when you are looking for something pushing 5 pounds on a Monday morning and the party in question is Monday night, well then you are almost certain to be up a certain creek.

In my defence I did start trying to procure said chicken on Sunday.

I called my friendly neighbourhood butcher at 3PM. No answer.

I visited the supermarket in town. But they were sold out of chickens period. No fresh ones, not even of the 2-3 pound variety. Not sure how that happened on a sunny Sunday afternoon. People don't barbeque on days like that. Not even and frozen birds to be seen. And strangely the meat counter was like a ghost town. I went past it at least 1o times.

At that point I went home and pondered what to do.

My friendly neighborhood butcher sweetly told me that they wouldn't have any chickens until Tuesday and that I likely would only find frozen at that size at the supermarket. I discovered they are only open until 2PM on Sundays and that's why they let the phone ring off the hook unanswered the day before.

Next I looked up butcher shops near me on the web. The place on the 6th concession poppes up. I called the number but it was not in service anymore and then remembered that they had moved to a different spot but couldn't remember where that was.

So then I typed in chickens and my town.

Low and behold there was Aubin's Farm listed. I have seen the sign driving by but never realised that you could buy things there. I just thought it was a heritage type sign. So I gave them a call and Mrs Aubin kindly discussed my problem with me.

It was now approximately 10AM.

She did not have any chickens fresher than July 29th and those were frozen. This was both good news and bad news at the same time given that it was August 9th.

Mrs Aubin suggested that a better option might be roast beef because you can cook it from frozen but I was stubborn in my desire to beer butt a chicken for dinner mostly because you can completely ignore it once you put it on the barbeque and it is nearly impossible to wreck even if you forget about it. Of course that would never happen to me because I never get distracted while cooking.

We talked thawing options and came up with the idea that I could try the running water trick and hope that in the 6 hours that remained before the bird had to meet the heat that it would thaw out. Mrs Aubin told me that she would get it out and start it to thawing in her very own kitchen sink.

I hightailed it over there and was invited into the Aubin's kitchen where we discussed thawing options. Mr Aubin came in carrying a lovely bucket of fresh brown eggs. I was tempted by those eggs. I am a sucker for brown eggs and the farm I currently buy from has only white eggs. It was hard but I had to focus. Keep my eyes on the prize so to speak. I managed not to negotiate on the eggs and plucked my lovely free range organic chicken from her sink, popped it in my plastic bag and made a run for it home where I grabbed my biggest cooking pot and headed for my laundry sink.

The Aubin's and I had reasoned this all out. If I kept the bird submerged in cool running water for the roughly 5 hours I had left then I might have a chance at this. The ONLY place to do this would be someplace where my fine feline friends could not lick or steal my bird. That meant that my kitchen sink was out and I had already learned that frozen meat kept in a closed oven is the same thing as keeping it in the freezer. I briefly considered a 5 gallon cooler and the garden hose outside but was worried about what the neighbours hounds might do to my twenty one dollar and fifty cent chicken.

So the laundry sink it was. Into the pot of cold water went the chicken, on went the tap. Drip, drip, drip went the cold water. At 11:30AM I made sure all the cats were out of the laundry room and shut the door behind me. Then I braced it with a 5 pound hand weight because it's amazing what feats of strength inquiring paws can accomplish when they set their minds to it.

A watched frozen chicken just doesn't thaw quickly enough. The suspense killed me all afternoon. I had to get away. I finally had to take a break and went to visit a neighbour to get some corn and potatoes I needed for supper and since ours aren't ready in the garden yet I decided to buy some of his.

I was vaguely worried about a potential basement flood if the drain on the sink plugged but I needed the veggies and a cookable chicken and I wasn't going to be gone that long so I was willing to take the risk.

Make or break time arrived at 4:00PM.

Supper was supposed to be just after 6PM and by my calculations a 5 pound chicken at 20 minutes per pound would take 100min or a bit more to cook depending on the ultimate temp of my barbeque.

I opened the laundry room door.

It was the moment of truth.

The floor was dry.

The Artiste carve a perfectly beer-butted chicken at precisely 6:15PM.

Who says it takes 9 hours or overnight to thaw a 5 pound chicken???

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Chocolate Butterdream, I Mean Cream

A few more words about the birthday cupcakes I made for Jeffery's Mom and The Artiste.

As I have mentioned before, they made my whole house smell like I had died and gone to chocolate heaven. Specifically the spare bedroom that they spent the night and day locked up in to keep them away from prying cat paws.
JM was so overwhelmed by the smell that we had to get her out of their fast before she OD'd on chocolate fumes.
That was a result of the buttercream icing. Something I have never made before or even tasted. I've made butter icing before but never buttercream icing. Somewhere inside my head I guess I kinda thought they were almost the same thing and couldn't really understand how the buttercream tasted like a creamy chocolate cloud and the butter icing I remember tasted like sugary unspreadable cement. That buttercream icing came out of my 2 for 99 cent pastry bag and through that giant 7 point star tip, well like butter. Butter icing would never have done that. The last butter icing I made behaved badly while we tried to spread it on the Easter sugar cookies I made with my niece and nephew.

On my craft crawl with The Artiste and JM we discussed this.

I wanted to know how come this icing tasted sooooo good compared to the unspreadable cement I remembered from my childhood.

"Isn't butter icing just made with butter and icing sugar and milk?" I asked.

They wanted to know what the buttercream recipe was.

"Well basically it's a pound of butter, a pound of chocolate, some milk, but I never added any. About 3 cups of icing sugar. And then some vanilla, but I forgot to put that in."

The Artiste said, "Well last time I made butter icing it called for about a quarter cup of butter to 3 cups of icing sugar."

We concluded that nearly a pound of chocolate in anything will make it devine.

We concluded that a pound of butter in anything will make it even more devine.

We concluded that the cupcakes were high calorie but that nothing is fattening on your birthday.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Cupcakes, Nose Hairs and Bacon in Paris

I had my two crafty friends over for their birthday party last night.

The Artiste and Jeffery's Mom.

We had a very old fashioned kids' party.

There were the loot bags - the designer hand bags I made out of paper and then filled with all sorts of fancy candies. I had to do loot bags because I remembered as a kid how fun it was to see what was inside the loot bags.

There was the roast chicken. More on that later.

There was the cake. The lovely cupcakes I made the night before last that made my entire house smell like chocolate. The cakes that spent the entire night and day locked up in the spare bedroom to keep the three feline food testers from testing each individual cupcake to make sure it was good enough to be served to company. I made 27. 25 of them spent the night there. 13 on the cupcake stand that I bought before I realised cupcakes were cool. Saw it at an un-named department store on sale and got it for another birthday party because I thought the idea of cupcakes as a birthday cake seemed sweet and original. 2 never survived. I ate #26 without icing to make sure they tasted OK and #27... Well I found it on the floor after my three taste testers got a little too quiet.

There were the crafts - we sat and coloured images we rubber stamped with my fancy new markers. And used alchohol inks to custom colour go cups for cold drinks. And then we coloured some more.

All the while we kept each cat in turn from stealing the one cupcake that Missy somehow managed to lick while we were distracted and eating our own cupcakes.

Then today we went on what The Artiste has christened a craft crawl. Which is essentially a lovely day spent with friends trying not to go broke while single handedly saving the economy of Ontario.

ie: We shop.

Today The Artiste dared me not to spend any money in one particular shop. I failed outright but was partly successful because I spent way less than I could have.

I play chauffeur.

While we drive around we talk and catch up and laugh like teenagers.

As I was driving along a busy street this afternoon, The Artiste commented that the guy in the next car needed a nose hair trimmer. We started to giggle. And look around. I was gawking around a little too much and in the process came close the the traffic median trying to get a look at him. We giggled some more.

We always go somewhere for lunch and it's usually after we stop at the shop I was dared not to spend any money in. We crossed the parking lot and right beside the Shwarma Shop and Subway is a clothing store that has some of what The Artiste calls Lori clothes. The store feels like me - the ceilings are 12 feet high, it is a tiny store with racks of artsy looking clothes, there is jewellry, there are hats, there are hand bags that aren't designer but are close enough for me, there are shoes on low round risers in the middle of the store that are to die for, the change rooms have these green striped curtains with pink tassles and ruffles on the bottoms. But, and here is the kicker, everything there is always too expensive. I have tired but never buyed in that store many many times.

However, there were dresses hanging on the side walk and who can resist that???

I made a B-line for something pink and glittery and bohemian/Indian with strappy straps and decided since it was on sale I should try it on.

Now one thing I learned today besides to keep my eyes on the road and off my neighbour's nose hairs was that someone who has girls like I do should not be dress shopping without a bra. It just doesn't do me or the clothing any justice. That being said, I don't normally go around without a bra when clothes shopping but today we were on a craft crawl and I was wearing a halter dress that packed its' own support. In a strappy situation this is a no go and, since this dress was not returnable because it was on sale, I was prepared to leave empty handed. As I was trying to ignore all of the goregeous bags and shoes that were calling my name a pretty little thing with a tiered ruffled skirt and a halter top caught my eye.

I tried that one on and it was so Lori that I got it and switched clothes right there in the store.

Which made Jeffery's Mom do a bit of a double take but like she said... It went with my shoes.

And I felt so French in it. I'm not sure why that's important to me in clothing but it just is. I like dresses that make me feel like I am in Paris... I've never been there and I'm not French at all. I can understand only if people speak slowly to their dog's and children and then only if it is in context. But France and Paris seem so romantic and somehow it makes me feel wonderful to think that Vianne from the novel Chocolat might consider wearing something like this. It comes across in how I act when I wear the dress. I feel more like me, more Lori.

Subway was our ultimate goal after the dress shop. Not that glamourous, definitely not French, but then after all the chocolate from the day before we seemed to have an unspoken agreement to eat more wisely today.

That doesn't mean you can't have bacon though. I don't ever have bacon on my subs because that removed the healthy feeling from the situation but those lovely strips were calling to me today.

"How much is it to add bacon?" I asked.

The cute kid (being nearly 40, if you are young enough that I could have babysat you, then I consider you a kid) behind the sneeze guard said, "How many slices?"

"Just one."

He smiled at me and said, "I'll give you that for free."

The Artiste leaned back and said, "It must be the dress."

We all giggled.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Ring Around The Yolk

I saw a recipe for hard boiled eggs recently.

On FoodTV.

Boiled eggs... I used to only love the white... Never, ever ate the yolks... Not on pain of death could my parents get me to eat an egg yolk. That was what Dad was for. On Easter morning he looked after those extra yolks for my brother and I.

Then I progressed to wanting to make Devil'd Eggs just like Mom did when I was having a party. Devil'd Eggs are just the perfect thing for a party... I'm not sure when you reach THAT age where the thing to have at your party is a plate of Devil'd Eggs but I am way beyond that age now. And those suckers go fast at parties too. I was at a house warming lately and the Mr at the house asked about whether there were any left and Mrs at the house informed him that they were long, long gone. MMMMMMM the thought of that got me thinking how good they'd be and that got me thinking about boiling eggs.

Then there was that FoodTV show. They never made any Devil'd Eggs on the show. Jellied eggs were the subject that day. Those I'm not so much interested in those guys.

But the thing about hard boiled eggs that always bugged me was that icky grey scum that has covered every egg yolk I have personally boiled.

I see perfect eggs in magazine pictures and on TV that have perfect golden orbs in their center with nothing nasty around them to spoil their lovliness.

Why can't I make pretty eggs that way?

Today it came to my attention that this recipe I had heard of was also a Martha Stewart recipe.

One of my coworker's daughters, C, was going to try it and her mom was doubtful.

But Martha wasn't who orignally gave me the recipe. Even though we're like this and if I'd asked her she would've told me her secret in a pinch. Frankly, I'm a little jealous that she just gave it to C and C never even had to ask for it.

The idea is to put the eggs in a pot and just cover it with cold water. Bring it to a boil and when it gets to a boil you take it off the heat and put on the lid for, now I've heard both 8 and 10 minutes. And at that point you are supposed to have the perfect hard boiled egg.

So I set out to make my boiled eggs. I was even concentrating.

I put 5 farm fresh extra large eggs in my stainless steel and just covered those babies with cold water. Onto the fire they went and then I sat down here and before I knew it I heard this odd sound....

I wondered what that sound was....

..And then I remembered my eggs. They wer boling! I have these V8 moments fairly often...

Get up take it off the fire, slap down the lid and wait 10 minutes. I even madea mental note of the time 9:21PM. I thought to myself I'll just watch a bit of CSI LA while I put in my time waiting for that perfect egg. Before I knew it, it was 9:32 and I wondered if they'd be ruined by waiting at least 2-4 extra minutes.

So I got them out of the water and peeled one.

And what do you know.

The white was firm and warm and there was no unsightly ring around the yolk. I had my first perfectly golden yolk to enjoy.

And there is just something about a warm boiled egg with that lucious solid but still creamy yolk in the center. Certainly the best part of any egg.

What did I know as a kid anyways????

Now if someone would just give me a perfect recipe for peeling hard boiled eggs. Mine are a little rough looking.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Lyme Disease part 2

I got a phone call today telling me that the blackberries were ready to be picked again. My fellow doctor C asked our receptionist to call and let me know. That way I could bring jeans, socks, runners and bug spray as well as berry picking baskets. In short, I would be better prepared this time.

I remembered the socks, shoes and my berry baskets.

I decided to tough it out as far as the jeans and bug spray went.

I could see where Dr C had walked out into the bush but for the life of me I couldn't tell she had picked ANY berries. They were big and literally falling off of the canes. I would pick a handful of berries and watch as more berries would fall onto the ground.

I picked over 4 quarts of berries again. Sweating in my scrub pants and, why oh why, my white top again.

Somehow I never got any blackberry stains on my nice white T-shirt. But there are some unsightly yellow areas on the shirt now. Under my bosom area... I need to look up how to get out sweat stains on you tube later.

I am scratching my mosquito bites. You can never tell if a tick nymph bites you though. Ixodes nymphs can be as small as a grain of pepper. You'd never see them, you'd never feel the bite, you'd never even know they'd been there. It's my job to know the life cycle and habits of the Ixodes tick. Why didn't I tuck my scrubs inside my ankle socks?

The first joint on the index finger of my left hand has been sore for the past few days. I have no known explanation for this. No injuries of any kind. But we do have Ixodes here.

I think I'll go get tested for lyme disease now.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Pool Girl

I realised today why the pool boys on TV soaps have such rock hard abs and incredible biceps and triceps...

That would be from cleaning the pool, specifically, working the vacuum in the pool.

I know this because I spent my morning playing pool girl. I vacuumed it and did all the basic pool type stuff. This is high resistance exercise you know.

So basically I am now sporting 6-pack abs and my arms are shapely and exquisite and there are no more triceps masquerading as bat wings on me anymore.

With my vertigo I always worry that I'll fall in the pool or backwards off of the edge of the pool. It is above ground and to clean it I have to walk around to top edge of it. But I was rocking it up there in my itsy bitsy teenie weenie... Well my shorts and T-shirt. At least I was working the ol' abs and flexing those guns and feeling quite proud of myself...

Until I fell in...

First time ever...

I had contemplated this situation many times in the past...

Usually at the half way around the pool point.

I would always wonder if I would drown because I had hit my head or broken an ankle and not been able to keep my head above water or be unable to get out of the pool because I had taken the ladder out so I wouldn't trip on it and fall in the pool. Surely someone would hear me calling for help and come and save me. Unless I had been knocked unconsious.

I yelled out "OOOOOOH" as I fell in. It was more out of suprise than fear. The water was cold after all. I briefly considered my eyes... I had just poured 2 jugs of bleach, added pucks and put chlorine stabilser in the pool. Then I considered my watch and remembered that it was water resisitant. I kept on cleaning, making a point to try and keep my left wrist out of the water.

At one point I heard a neighbour's 4-wheeler start up and pull out of their yard. Oh someone did hear me call out in fear and was coming to make sure I was OK.

No one showed up. Must've been heading somewhere else.

But that's OK.

I learned two things.

1. My watch is water resistant to 4 feet at the very least, and

2. My abs and arms are stronger than I thought - I was able to press myself up and out of the ladderless pool.

Guess all that yoga, erm pool cleaning, is paying off.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Lyme Disease

I spent the afternoon risking several deadly illnesses just to make sure that I had fresh wild blackberries for his desert.

I had spied them when I got to work. They were just in the bushes at the edge of the parking lot. I thought, "I'll pick myself a handful after work," all I have ever gotten were just a handful of wild blackberries at at time. And handful is a generous way of describing 6 berries. Then I promptly forgot about them for the rest of the day. Until I went to go home. That's when I wandered down to the edge of the bush in my sandles and skirt and realised that there were more berries there than the taste I had anticipated.

Visions of lovely pies and jams and cobblers danced in my head.

I ran back inside and asked my shoe size twin to trade me her runners for my sandles and bless her heart she never even asked why she just slipped off the shoes and handed them over. I put on my scrub pants. I was still wearing my cute white T-shirt but I forgot about that.

I ran back to the bush and picked berries.

I forced my way through those thorny canes. And I picked berries.

I sweated and picked berries.

One of the other doctors came out after her shift and picked berries with me.

In the heat and humidity we picked berries.

There were oodles of berries. There was oodles of sweat. My hair was plastered to my head. My pants were sticking to my legs. I was scratched and scraped. It wasn't a pretty sight.

We probably picked about 8 quarts of berries that day.

Juicy blackberries.

We talked about how we would make jam. About how we could eat them on icecream, in yogurt, on our cereal. About how we would freeze some for the winter.

I took my berries home and made my jam.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Seat Of My Pants Jam Making - AKA Not A Great Idea

Did I mention I lack a certain amount of concentration when cooking and baking??? I can do a lovely job but I need to focus and keep my mind in the game.

Sometimes I decide to experiment and fly by the seat of my pants... And most times I get away with it no problem.

But not on Saturday night I didn't.

What have I learned over the course of my two or three as yet not over jam making spree?????

Don't experiment with jams unless you are either:

1. rich and can afford to waste valuable fruit

2. have so much fruit you aren't worried about it not turning out


3. are content to have sauce or syrup instead of jam in case is doesn't turn out.

I crazily thought that since a blueberry pie recipe worked so well for Tammy, my sister-in-common-law, to make a saskatoon pie that a blueberry jam recipe would work equally well for me when making saskatoon jam.


I got sauce. A wonderful sauce that tastes amazing but is too chunky for a syrup and too thin for a spread. I ate it on my toast this morning anyways... Just to prove that it had turned out.

Well I would eat it on toast but I couldn't give it away at Christmas and call it "jam".

I would need to attempt "remaking cooked jam".

So I had a very lovely conversation with a lovely gal at Kraft Canada this morining who counselled me on the ins and outs of not substituting when making jam.

1. You shouldn't change the style of certo (that I knew already) and

2. Apparently you can't really get away with chaning fruit types. Blueberries and Saskatoons seem similar but apparently as far as pectins are concerned they are not so much the same.

What I learned is this:

1. You can do one redo of a non-set jam recipe and then yer done.

2. I have a lovely Chunky Saskatoon Sauce/Syrup Recipe and the lovely Kraft lady said people call up all the time looking for that.

4 cups crushed Saskatoons
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 box certo crystals
5 cups sugar

Bring the berries and lemon juice to a boil and add the sugar and bring it back to a hard boil and let it go for 5 minutes. Take off the heat and skim and stir for 5 minutes and then bottle it up and let the bottles seal.

3. Don't try adding 2 more cups of sugar like the saskatoon jam recipe on kraftcanada.com calls for - it also calls for certo liquid so you'll still be up the creek - refer to the rule that says you can't interchange certo types which I said I already knew but still considered doing anyways in light of my current non-set saskatoon jam situation. Desperate times call for desperate measures after all.

4. Really search that old internet well before concluding that there just are no saskatoon jam recipes out there and deciding to go it alone. In my defence I did consult my mom and the 4H cookbook but had not luck. Mom only had a saskatoon-rhubarb jam and I am currently rhubarb-less. The cookbook had a recipe for jelly and I am making jam.

I'm not stubborn at all.

So I have now emptied one batch of jam back into a sauce pan and have washed the jars again and started them on their journey towards sterilization again... And am getting ready to follow the remaking cooked jam recipe in the certo box.

For my next Saskatoon Jam attempt I intend to get the certo liquid - two of them as called for in the recipe - and make a real batch of jam.

If my remake doesn't work out then I've been told I'll still have a really nice sauce that I can give away as Christmas gifts instead of some jam.

So no harm no foul. I'll still spread it on toast and eat it.

Final thought - my two younger cats, Mako and Missy, both like jam. They seem to prefer raspberry though. They obviously aren't native prairie dogs like me.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

In A Jam

Well not really. I'm not... but the strawberries are I guess. Well I hope they are. That was the general idea and the point of all the steps I followed this afternoon and evening.

Three baskets of strawberries make three batches of strawberry jam.

It takes about an hour to hull and wash all of those berries.

Then you have to wash the jars and sterilize them and have them all ready for that strawberry goodness to fill them up.

Then you crush the berries, add the pectin, bring it to a boil, add the sugar and boil some more, stir and skim for 5 minutes and then fill up the jars.

Add the lids and rings and you're good to go right???

Well hopefully...

Jam making is an interesting thing... For me anyways. It requires concentration and I have a tendency to flit sometimes. My blonde roots show up at times like this. So I have to mentally chain myself to the stove and my wooden spoon to keep myself there and stirring so that I don't wander away allowing the jam to burn on the bottom of the pot or miss that critical hard boiling stage that you need to time so carefully so that the jam sets.

Making jam is a bit of a lottery. You spend all this time and money and energy. You hope it all turns out the way you want but you just never know until later that night you here the tell tale popping (which I haven't heard yet) that tells you the lids sealed. And then you need to wait until it cools to see if the jam actually jammed.

I guess it remains to be seen if I hit the surgary jackpot... I'll let you know when I know.

Still no tell tale popping sounds though....

Update: All the tops popped and all the jam jammed! Whoo hooo!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Social Yoga

Every Sunday morning, well... just about every Sunday morning, for the last 2 and a half or 3 years I have been going to yoga class in a nearby town. The "advanced" class (somehow our yogi named it wrong) throughout the year starts at 10:30AM, in the summer we start earlier and try to do yoga outside. Well it is supposed to start at 10:30, in actual fact we end up having a conversation about what happened this week and who did what until almost ten to eleven. But that's OK with all of us including the yogi.

She gets us to close our eyes and bring our thoughts into ourselves and we ohm once to start our practice.

Inevitably half way through the cat-cows we start talkin again. It's not that hard to have a conversation while doing cat-cows, or thread the needle or C-spine stretches for that matter. None of it takes a whole lot of energy or thought to do. Unless you're me and in that case thread the needle could end badly. I may be the only person I know who can fall over while kneeling on the ground with my head on the ground as well. But then that's vertigo for you. Balancing postures I ace, teddy bear head stand... no problemo. But the simple little low level thread the needle??? Well let's just say that everyone wants to be facing me while I do it just to see if I fall over this week. I use all of my abs in order to stay upright and have to really focus in order not to topple over.

I'm glad when we move on to the C-spine stretches and the donkey-kicks. Our yogi has wonderful and creative names for the assanas, or if she doesn't think of one then one of us will. I think donkey-kick is one of those names. But it is sooooo descriptive. One of my other favourites is dead-bug. We think the real name is actually happy baby and that is truly an accurate description but dead-bug is so much more interesting and warped. So we go with dead bug. We like to decompose at the end by doing chavasana.

We do dolphins which we and our abs take seriously and move on to down dog and then the superman series of poses which are good for the back. And we really like to try out new poses on people who have missed a few weeks. Such as the side bow pose which is really entertaining to watch someone trying to get into.... Picture someone one their stomach arched back and holding onto their ankles with their hands trying to roll over onto their sides... You could almost gut yourself laughing if you weren't trying so hard to roll over onto your side while holding onto your ankles too.

We do our sun salutations. Aschtanga-style. 4 A series and 3 B series and suffer when one particular person is not there. She counts for us. The rest of us lack the concentration to count to 4 and then 3. When she's not there we do it carefully, methodically and OUT LOUD! Other than that there is no taking in sun salutations for the most part. You have to really concentrate during sun salutations or you may just fall over trying to go from down dog to warrior 2. And that wouldn't be pretty.

Balance postures become almost competetive... OK not almost... OK not just the balance postures are competetive. Anything involving holding a pose for an extended period of time can become competive. Have you ever tried to hold a pose for as long as you can while laughing or trying NOT to crack up??? Yoga really does require concentration to pull it off the way it was meant to be done. We do our best and sometimes our best is better than others.

But our yogi is very understanding. We are her special class. She says she thinks she's lost control of the class and we tell her that this seems like a very un-yogi-like thought... having control and all. Somedays we do free style yoga. Somedays we let her have control for a little while and then we wrest it back from her.

After we're done decomposing we all go for lunch together and chat some more. I'm not sure I would make it through a conventional yoga class. I'd probably be kicked out for making too many comments or asking too many questions. So I have to say I'm glad to have found a social yoga class that accepts me for who I am. A vertigo challenged individual who struggles with thread the needle but who can do tree posture with her eyes closed... Well at least for a few seconds before the vertigo takes over again.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Pause Point And Proceed

How do geese cross the road????

The right way of course. By stopping traffic! By following the rules we are all taught as small children. To pause, point and then proceed. My young niece and nephew have known this rule since they were very small.

It is truly amazing that these wild animals are smart enough to learn this rule too.

Geese are really cool creatures.... and smart too. And Canada Geese are all over the place here. And there is one specific spot where there is a wildlife park situated between the river and the road. The geese cross this road in order to eat grass in the other ditch, I think. Or maybe they are just bored of being on the canal side so they cross over. I don't really know how a goose thinks....

But needless to say they cross the road. And they follow the rules. I witnessed it one day.

That day two goose families needed to cross back to the canal side.

There were two mamas and two papas on the left side of the road (away from the water) and each had a family of three babies that were about half grown but clearly still dependent on mom and dad. Let's call them family #1 and family #2 There was a third family of similar size on the right or river side of the road. Let's call them famil #3 and that family had to cross an approach to get to where everybody wanted to be.

Well when I came upon the scene the traffic coming towards me had stopped to let the birds cross the road. The car in front of me drove on through but I stopped too. Papa #1 came out into the other lane about 1/2 way and waited and. And watched me. And shook his head in the direction he wanted to go. And waited. And when he was convinced I wasn't going anywhere then he took his little family across the road. Now it was papa#2's turn. He came out about to the middle of the road and his babies sat down in the opposite lane while he decided what to do. He waited while family #3 did the same sort of deal to cross the approach to the park and then wandered into the park across from him and cleared the shoulder of the road. Then pap #2 got his little brood up and took them across in front of my lane and into the ditch after he waited to make sure we, the car drivers, didn't move and shook his head to show where he was going.

I was amazed. But it doesn't always take much to amaze me.

But still... a goose knowing the rules of crossing the street??? They must do it all the time to know enough to pause, point and proceed.