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.