Sunday, March 4, 2018

Must be spring or something...

Fist I chopped the ice off the sidewalk. And I got my hair permed. And I found myself actually considering wearing makeup - which I haven't done for twenty years!

Yep, that means it's spring, at least in my head.

My latest adventure is cooking up a storm. I have an e-book: The Indian Family Kitchen. (Oh, and I don't recommend trying to follow recipies on e-books, by the way! Invariably the list of ingredients is two pages back from the instructions!)

But it appears I've become jaded with my normal staples. Spaghetti. Lasagna (which is just a different kind of spaghetti, in my current frame of mind.) Caesar salad, chicken caesar salad. Salad. Potatoes. Ground beef in any form. Pork chops. Pork roast. Roast beef. Chicken.

My tastebuds are going "bleah."

So I opened up my Indian Family Kitchen, and I've been knocking myself out in the kitchen this past week and weekend.

The goal was to get some leftovers I could bring to work, but that's not what happened - yet. The first batch of Dhal, not from that cookbook but off the internet, went down very well and I did get one lunch out of it.

Yesterday's recipe of Tadja Dhal received a less-than-enthusiastic reception from the two Men. Hubby dipped his nan bread in it, and when the bread was gone he handed over the bowl to me. Boyfriend nobly had a second bowl, but I think it was more from hunger than from enjoyment.

However, I thought it was the most delicious thing I'd ever tasted! So there's none left, and I had to start over today if I hoped for leftovers.

For the first time in my life I'm actually tasting the different spices within Indian cooking - mostly because the dishes are NOT super-spicy. Once my tongue is burning, I can't taste anything! But these dishes are amazing!

Today's adventure were two dishes, called "One-pot Chicken with Smoked Spices" and "Chai Chickpeas." Chai chickpeas is cooked in TEA for gosh sakes! It's almost suppertime now and I can't wait to dig in!

Did you know that cardamom comes in a) pods, b) seeds, and c) ground? Did you know it comes in two different colors? And the different colors taste different!

The other day I made some potato pancakes, I think they were called "Tikki Aloo," but don't quote me! When you boil potatoes for mashing, try adding a tablespoon of ground turmeric and the rinds of a lemon! They turn wonderfully golden and you can taste the lemon!

Well, I don't know what the reaction from the Men will be tonight - hopefully slightly more enthusiastic than last night, so just in case, I made fudge.

That'll put a smile on their (diabetic) faces!

Saturday, February 24, 2018

The Ice Dam

Today was a very productive day! Hubby was off looking at motorcycles, and Boyfriend and I cleaned. Quite satisfactorily, if I do say so myself! Apparently we missed vacuuming last week...and thereby hangs a tale...

I often gag at cleaning product commercials on television. "Who would ever let their house get so dirty!" I snort in derision.

Well, with four cats and a dog, it takes a week.

One week for the hair to become so pervasive, that a single pass with the vacuum leaves a definite trail. The "black" carpet is grey, except for that one pass.

Sigh.

Just prior to beginning the vacuum process, I emptied the dishwasher and began a recipe of oatmeal bread. I haven't made bread in ages, and I get so tired of commercial breads...

The vacuum did its thing while the bread rose in the dishwasher - a great place to proof bread! Except for the fact that your dirty dishes have to stay somewhere else for at least three hours!

The the bread went in, and I went outside to hack at the four-inch thick glacier that is our front walk, surrounded by eight-foot high snowbanks on either side.

I'm sure my poor Daughter can hear me talking to myself..."In my day, my Grandpa would NEVER have let this ice build up! He'd go out while it was snowing, he'd go out while the freezing rain was falling, and keep sweeping and shovelling everything off in order to keep that path cleared down to the cement! We never had slippery steps! Grandpa would turn over in his grave to see this mess! Those men in there oughta be ashamed of themselves..."

Etc etc etc.

I used an iron rod with a chisel tip on one end, the rod weighs about thirty pounds. I used a tool on a very short handle that looked like it would help break up ice, and it did so nicely. And I found Grandpa's very own aluminum shovel, no longer straight across the bottom from all the times he and I have used it to break up ice...

And I DID it!

The walkway is clear all the way to the street, with four-inch sides. I'm not sure how much damage I did to my crumbling neck or my aching wrists, but I don't have to fear for my life any more while walking to the car!

Then I came in, died a bit on the couch, a got up for a lovely slice of still-warm oatmeal bread.

*sigh of contentment

Sunday, November 19, 2017

She's Baaaaaaaack!

So, in a nutshell, Boyfriend and I are moving...into Hubby's house.

Pretty much everybody looks at us with the same quizzical look your face just made, dear reader! And quite honestly, we three are also wearing the same questions marks on our faces!

How did this happen? When did this happen? Why did this happen?

All good, solid, unanswered lines of inquiry! Like when people asked me how long it took to write the only good poem I've ever written, it depends on when you want to start. I've been sobbing every year of my life each and every time I saw the Canada Geese coming back in the spring or leaving in the fall. But one day when I was in my twenties, after bursting into tears seeing the geese leave, I ran into the house and wrote my poem.

So it either took twenty years, or twenty minutes, depending on where you want to start!

So it is with this latest move. How did this happen? And Why? And When? It depends how far back you want to start!

The short answer is, Boyfriend and I have run out of money because he's been out of work, and we've had to sell our house.

Before that, we thought he'd land another job tout de suite, no problemo! It took fourteen long months for both of us to be astonished that no job turned up. (And yes, before you get all "helpful" and start asking, he did EVERYTHING he was told to do, by numerous advisors and government officials and head hunters.)

His real crime is being over 50 years old. So let's get back to the matter at hand, which is that we will starve if we don't sell. So that was that, and we put the house up for sale, and at the time of writing it's mostly in the bag.

Now, we've been wondering and thinking and planning and worrying about our future during this whole time, and of late one fact began to dawn on me: namely, that I do not make enough money for us to rent a place of our own AND eat. It's one or the other.

This situation did not escape my beloved Hubby's notice. And he has opened his home to us, given us a rock to climb on to catch our breath, so to speak.

Now, however unusual this turn of events may seem (because separated couples don't usually do this for their exes and their Boyfriends, for example) readers of this blog will no doubt be overjoyed, because it means that there will be more blogs, because, well because of...

Hubby!


If you recall, the glory days of my blog happened when Hubby and I were living together, because Hubby creates in me the need to tell the world what is going on. And Hubby is funny! Because he's an Irishman, and therefore stubborn and resistant to change, and because each and every day he leaves himself open to ridicule due to the strangeness of his opinions and sayings!

Our future together is uncertain, but my writing career will take off once more!

See, already several things have happened that were blog-worthy, I've just been too busy to publicize them!

One of the finest moments happened when I urged said Hubby to abandon his (formerly) pink leather couch and loveseat in favour of a new (for him) second-hand black leather couch. And a dogbed for the dog, who has so far refused to sit on it.

I got such a celtic "black look" from Hubby I nearly quavered in my determination to get that damned thing out of his living room!

His black look said "Hey. What the hell is this? Am I...getting the WIFE back?"

Hello Hubby, your wife is back! And this time, she's brought a helper! Someone strong enough to move stuff!

Boyfriend has been cautioning me to contain myself, and go easy on "the big lug."

"He's giving us a play to stay, Deb! For goodness sake don't make him regret it" (Subtext: At least not before we get there!)

I don't think he'll regret it. I think he needs us. So far he's ditched the broken loveseat that Stepson had manhandled in the basement, got rid of the now blackened pink atrocious set from his livingroom and received, for free, a black leather sectional. He's got a nice new tempo that's 50% longer than his was AND had help setting it up. Oh, and each and every time a job gets done, Boyfriend cleans up, because Boyfriend doesn't like clutter and likes to be able to find things rather than fall over them.

The removal of the couch and loveseats also netted him several dollars in loose change, some tools and cutlery, and Stepson's long-lost expensive vape thingy.

Who knows what we'll unearth when we move Stepdaughter's furniture to the basement, or when we clean up the laundry room?!

So far, Hubby is definitely ahead in this deal! He's also getting a new mattress out of it - a beautiful firm mattress that will fit his hand made bed frame, as opposed to the smelly futon that's now 20 years old and never fit the bed frame from day one. The smell came from the dog, who has now been bathed, and who will continue to be bathed regularly from now on.

So yes, Hubby, your Wife is coming back, with reinforcements...and with thankfulness and love...but with no less determination to get you to clear out your junk than she ever had! But best of all, Hubby will be written up in the blog once again, and I look forward to telling you, dear readers, all the latest foibles and fumbles! In a phrase...

He's baaaaaaaack!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Opinions

I was out playing cards with friends, and happened to mention that the reason I hadn't printed our usual scoring paper, and instead was working on a hand-drawn paper, was that we were out of printer paper at home.

And it began...

"Well," said my friend D, "you certainly don't need to be buying printer paper, given your circumstances!"

(Said circumstances being that A is still looking for work, and we are facing having to sell our home, or go bankrupt.)

I didn't reply - I was stunned. An awful lot of things were running through my head, like, "you're kidding, right?" or "printer paper! It's a necessity, D!" or "what would you have me use instead?"

My friend S rescued me and said simply, "Well certainly if A has to print a resume, he needs to have some paper for his printer, D!"

D later said, "Well, it's not my business, but I wouldn't be wasting my money on paper if I were in your circumstances..."

And the card game went on. But my inner turmoil had just begun...

We - the generic, universal we - all have our opinions concerning the less fortunate. How they got themselves into the mess they are in. How they have no one but themselves to blame. How they are inherently lazy, untrustworthy, less intelligent than "we" are...

Until it happens to US.

These kinds of arguments about "the poor" have been going on forever, and they are all complete bunk. It's called paranoia: blaming situations on somebody or something else, instead of looking inward to find the source of the problem.

Our society has more and more people walking the knife's edge of poverty. We now have the "working poor," households where both adults work but still have to use a food bank. The gap between the richest people in our society and what used to be the middle class is widening at a frightening pace, and nobody wants to face how really close to that knife's edge they are living. Or do the work of making the rich stop fleecing the rest of us, because they're powerful and scary and we keep hoping if we're nice and obedient that they'll let us be. And maybe let more money trickle down.

But when someone falls on the wrong side of that knife's edge, judgements fall like hailstones.

I've been on the receiving end of judgements many, many times in my life. Growing up in fundamentalism will do that to you. I had to fight really hard to free myself from that kind of mindset - the mindset that judges others. That says "I don't think you should be doing this or that," or, "I don't think you should be spending your money this way or that way." That's judging. And it has a thin edge, but a steep, slippery slope.

It starts with my printer paper. Should someone "like me" be allowed to buy printer paper? Kleenex? Paper towels? Toilet paper? Are you going to tell me I have to start using single ply?

Then on to food. Do I have to stop buying fresh food, switch to canned only? And buy only the cheapest brands?

Cheap, by the way, does not equal economical! Or even healthy!

But let's continue on the list of things we decide for others: can the poor visit a dentist? On the same day he lost his job over a year ago, A cancelled his dentist appointment. But he kept an appointment for a car tune-up.

He could understand the value of maintaining the automobile, but not of maintaining his teeth. My protests that dental health impacts heart health went unheeded - no one had ever suggested such a thing to him before, so he saw no reason to believe me!

So, do poor people automatically have bad teeth? Should they let their teeth rot, because they shouldn't be spending their money on frivolities? After all, teeth are largely cosmetic...

What about no car insurance? Or are their cars dirty, because they can't pay to have them washed - and we already know they are too lazy to wash them themselves!

Glasses? Shampoo? Body wash? Books? Cable TV? Restaurants?

Where do we draw the line, when we criticize another person's choices?

Well, you say, if they hadn't made poor choices, they wouldn't be in their current predicament!

Aye, and there's the rub. You see, we are ALL victims of our own choices. We are ALL our own undoing. Just some of us haven't come undone - yet.

We all "make our own beds" or "dig our own graves." We make choices every single day of our lives that we either don't think twice about, or that we deliberate over for weeks. It doesn't matter. Because whatever choices we make change the direction of our lives, and random chance happens and we can end up on the wrong side of that knife in a heartbeat, wondering what the hell happened.

If A and I go bankrupt, I assure you, I'm not getting rid of my cats. I will find ways to have fun in life. Less expensive fun, perhaps, than I might have at one time, but I'm not dead and I'm not going to act like it until it actually happens.

I remember being on the receiving end of a Christmas basket, when my Daughter was very young - the Christmas she was 2, in fact. I stubbornly was trying to turn the givers away when I saw that there were chocolate candies in the basket, and I realized that I could not afford to buy my child any chocolate for Christmas, and that if she was going to have anything nice like that, I had to swallow my pride and accept it.

I remember Welcome Hall Mission saying that if we wanted to give something for the men, that chocolate was appreciated, because they could usually cover the necessities, but it was nice to be able to offer them a treat.

Even the poor deserve a treat. Some kindness. Something nice. Even though they've made different choices in their lives and had different experiences, they still deserve kindness and a treat and some goodness.

Nobody needs to be harangued by judgmental voices saying "you shouldn't do this" or "you shouldn't spend that" - or worse, "you shouldn't have done this..." foremost because those voices are within each of us all the time anyway, and there is no getting away from them. We don't need to add our judgmental voices to anyone's personal demons.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

A Great Gift

Boyfriend and I returned today from a brief camping trip, courtesy of my pal R, who gave us the gift of four nights camping at Voyageur Provincial Park - the park previous known as Carillon, to those of us old enough to remember such things!

It was a gift in every sense of the word. It gave us a break, a change, from daily duties and weekly worries. It got us outside, in the sunshine (and the rain) and fighting the bugs and trying to remember in which container we had packed things. It got us under the trees and into the fireflies. It was magical.

Boyfriend did a LOT of heavy lifting while I watched, helpless.  That trailer is a monster! And it doesn't help that it's 30 years old! All the legs are stuck, all the bits are breaking. At one point when Boyfriend wasn't feeling so well it occurred to me that I had no idea how to close this thing up on my own, nor did I possess the skills to do so! Thankfully, Boyfriend survived his odyssey none the worse for wear, and a lot better for being in the fresh air.

Hubby came down on his motorcycle and spent a night in his newfangled tekkie-tent, showing off all his lightweight zero-gravity toys for the avid camper, while scrupulously avoiding the beach.

I discovered that some of the ideas I'd had in my twenties, like the LARGE pot of water kept hot over the fire at all times, wasn't such a silly idea after all, especially when it came to needing water to wash and rinse dishes or for an impromptu sponge bath at the campsite. Boiling ONE pot of water for coffee is bad enough - boiling SIX pots of water so you can wash the dishes is seriously tedious! (Plus, after you boil six pots of water, the residue that collects around the pot gives one extra pause...it may look like calcium, but it feels like soap... Good thing we brought the Brita filter!)

When we left to go camping, we were both stressed. Boyfriend has been out of work much much longer than either of us ever expected. He's been dealing with his anxieties, I've had to deal with my own sense of entitlement.

That's right - the E-word. The thing we all accuse Millenials for having a sense of. Entitlement. I never once in my life thought of myself as having a sense of entitlement, but here we are, looking bankruptcy in the face, maybe losing our home, maybe moving to an apartment, we don't know...All this is going to have to happen soon. And I kept looking around in total astonishment and thinking, "What do you mean I might not live in a bungalow in the suburbs? What do you mean we might have to get ride of nearly everything and move to a really small place? But I've always lived in a bungalow in the suburbs!"

Stuff like that. That's entitlement. And yes, people lose their homes, and I might be next, and it happens to nice people all the time. Because the market changes, because social systems only extend so far, and after that, something has to give. And sometimes, what has to give is how we see ourselves.

In the face of all that is to come, in the middle of a four-day camping trip, I found happiness. Boyfriend and I went to the beach. I taught someone's dog how to swim. I got to pat some other dogs. I didn't get sunburned. I floated for hours on my floatie toy. All my hard work ahead of time, cooking up food that we could grab and eat, paid off! Open a jar, splorp into a bowl, presto! Vichyssois! Open tupperware, splorp onto a plate, presto! Tuna salad! None of this nonsense of "we'll buy our food when we get there," stuff I used to hear for years! What a crock! Who wants to spend the only four days off they get a year shopping and chopping?! I'd much rather do that ahead of time and enjoy the fruits of my labour on the spot, when it counts! And I did, and we did, and it worked!

I walked the dark road lit only by fireflies and ceased to worry about the mundane, the everyday, and about what was expected of me. For a few brief days, I merely was.

And it was wonderful.

Now we are home. Boyfriend is exhausted from the physical work, but he is rested from his stress. And he had some calls for jobs while we were away, so who knows...?

Saturday, June 17, 2017

My Home-Made Ginger Ale

I would like to set the record straight about my home-made ginger ale and lemon-lime "soft drinks."

I've offered these recently to friends and they've politely refused, saying they don't drink sugared drinks. Great, they got plain soda water, made from my filtered-water put through the sodastream machine. That's about as home made as you can get.

I make my own ginger "syrup" and lemon-lime "syrup" to flavour the home-made soda water for one reason only: to control the amount of sugar.

I don't know the exact number of tablespoonfuls of sugar that are in each serving of commercial soft drinks, but I know it's a LOT.

Here is mine, for all the world to see. I'll do the ginger "syrup," and then maybe you'll understand why I'm putting quotation marks around the word "syrup."

I used one fair sized ginger root. I peel the ginger root, cut it into small portions and press them through my garlic press. I add 2 cups water.

And one-quarter of a cup of sugar.

I bring it to a boil and simmer it long enough for the water to reduce to one-and-a-half cups. Then I strain it and pour it into a container which I keep in the refrigerator.

Are you with me? I have 1.5 cups of liquid here, and dissolved in that is 1/4 cup of sugar.

To make a ten-ounce glass of ginger ale, I put a HALF TEASPOON of the ginger syrup in the bottom of the glass, and top up with soda water. And ice, if the patron wants it.

A HALF TEASPOON.

I don't actually know how many half-teaspoons are in one-and-a-half-cups of liquid, but it's NOT MUCH.

So really, when I offer you a glass of home-made ginger ale, you can drink it. You've eaten more sugar than that from your diet bar this morning. You get more sugar than that from your vegan protein powder. You get more sugar than that from your bran muffin.

Believe me, you can drink my ginger ale!

Monday, June 5, 2017

Is that laughter...?

The Universe is laughing at me.

A month or so ago, I set out, with a couple of pals, to make beeswax-infused cotton cloths to be used, and re-used, instead of plastic wrap.

The project was a resounding success, the most difficult part being the grating of the beeswax.
But I didn't make enough, and I've been meaning to get around to making more...

In the meantime, my kitteh Spooky got very ill and had to be hospitalized for two days and have a blood test and an ultrasound and a new special veterinary diet. This very diet comes in large tins, and I have to store half a tin in the fridge for a day, since she only gets a half tin at night.

So I have to put the unused portion of the vet food on a plate, and wrap it in - you guessed it - plastic wrap. Each and every day.

I'm using four times as much plastic wrap as I've ever used in my life.

Then, I started a fresh round of migraines. I'm currently waiting for a set of six, repeat, SIX injections into my cervical vertebrae to curb the incessant cluster migraines. In the meantime, I'm taking a migraine medication-of-last-resort: and, it really is a last resort, no pun intended, because it's a suppository.

So in addition to using plastic wrap at four times the norm, I'm going through one latex glove each night.

I did briefly contemplate re-using the glove, but quickly thought better if it, given my scattered thinking processes and somewhat messy housekeeping habits.

Better safe than sorry, I figure. One has to draw the line somewhere!

So much for saving the planet by using less plastic.

Moving on, there's the home-made soap adventure. It only takes a few minutes to make the various recipes. It does take a bit of experimentation to find recipes one likes though. This past week I finally gave in and tried a recipe I'd seen on the internet at least a hundred times, equal parts coconut oil, honey, and Castillo soap. Plus some essential oils.

I used it once, and had to use Boyfriend's Old Spice body gel to wash it off as best I could immediately. I don't know who all those people on the internet were who were raving about this stuff, but I think they're nuts! Bonkers! I've never felt so greasy or sticky in my life! I promptly went back to an older recipe which is much more watery but leaves me actually clean.

Know anyone who likes feeling oily and a bit sticky after their shower? I've got a generous supply of body wash to give away...

I don't mind the loss if the coconut oil. I can even stand losing the half cup of Castillo soap. It's the liquid honey that pisses me off - I could have used that in my tea!

So much for saving the planet with my home-made soap. At least, not this week.

Then there was the palazzo-pants fiasco. I made a lovely pair of pants and wore them going to work last week when I had that unfortunate encounter eith the motorist who didn't want to stop for pedestrians and ended up tripping on the pants, which were too long.

Boyfriend pinned them up for me this week and I'll try again, but not before I managed to seriously injure my already dangerously weak right knee. It's been putting out a fresh bruis each day this week and the pain is getting worse, not better.

So  I'm off to the doctor in the morning. Because I made home-made pants, trying to save some money. I wonder what this fiasco will end up costing me.

I'm not winning.