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How to Burn Meringue

I watched all 120 episodes of the Great British Baking Show, and have been trying my hand at some new baking, but often fall back on the old tried and true.  So when Penny and Jim, as well as John and Katrina were coming for dinner, I thought I’d better play it safe and make Pavlovas.

You know Pavlovas?  Just a fancy name for meringues filled with something like fruit compote and whipped cream.  When I made them for James and Julie in the spring I added a lovely crème patisserie, but this time I thought I’d better not fool around given I also had chicken Marbella and other things to make.

I’ve never had any problems making meringues, yet some instinct told me to make them the day prior, just in case.  Good thing as they came out of the oven mostly raw and sticky and so I had no choice but to throw them out and start again, which I did the morning of the dinner party.

They turned out beautifully, and as I needed counter space I decided to leave them in the oven until after dinner when I’d add the peach compote and whip.  The guests arrived and due to a recent shop-out at Costco with Elsa, I had a nice box of spring rolls which I thought would make a decent appetizer while we waited for the chicken.

I have an open kitchen dining living room so could chat with the assembled while going to the oven to preheat it for the spring rolls.  I sat down and about twenty minutes in, in mid-sentence I screamed Oh my God! and ran to the oven to remove the caramelized meringues.  Damn it!  That’s never happened to me before, so it was quite disturbing.

But you know how annoyingly loyal old friends are, and they insisted, no no, these are perfectly fine!  I had two bites and said no thanks, and Katrina has the good luck of being a Type2 diabetic so said she wasn’t able to eat that much sugar and just had the whipping cream off the top.

I went to Osoyoos to hang around with old friends Bernard and Michael who were visiting from Victoria.  On my way to mom’s I always stop at Luke’s first and drop stuff off for Jan as she adores things I buy for her like pickled herring or white chocolate with nuts.  At this time of year she adores getting all of the local produce and I had a lot of garlic, crab apples and plums to drop off.

She had about 40 tidy little baggies sitting on a cookie sheet on the counter with a pinkish substance inside, so I said what’s that, Jan, and she replied “Pork.”  She explained it has to go out into the sun and after several days it’s “sour” and then ready to eat.  She said “you want to try some, mom?”  I demurred as I don’t like the idea of raw pork left in the sun until sour.  Probably just me though, right?

But you know what they say, one man’s feast is another man’s poison.  George the male cat is a real scrapper and spends summers covered in scabs from war wounds from other cats.  That’s Frieda’s cue to get busy and nibble each and every scab off the cat, while he lies there purring, thanking the dog for the service.  Not my idea of food, but there’s no stopping some people or animals.

The Chickens Are Here

Most people strive for inner peace and find ways to bring less stress into their lives to achieve this.  For some reason, I cast about for ways in which to drive myself crazy with anxiety.  I must’ve needed to age several years as why else would I purchase four beautiful white chickens which now cause sleepless nights of worry?

I’ve never really looked at a chicken before but now that I own four of them, I think they’re extraordinary and lovely.  That’s a bummer as I’ve already messaged a chicken farmer down the road who said owls, hawks, raccoons and bobcats have all killed countless numbers of her birds, and she’s had to electrify both the top and bottom of her fence.

We can only try, I suppose.  You’ll recall the situation several years ago when I tried beekeeping.  After purchasing the hives, frames, smoker, bee suit, hot knife, honey spinner, and the bees themselves, a bear came along and knocked down the hive and ate the bees and honey and came back the following spring to see if there was more to be had so I had to pack in beekeeping.

Because I’m scared of chickens and hoping through experience this will pass as I felt the same way about the bees and got over that, I had Calvin drive us to Glenmore to pick them up.  The farmer was super nice, as was his small son and their beautiful basset hound dachshund-mix female dog.  We popped the hens into a dog kennel and put them on the back seat and drove home.

The coop is lovely.  Filled with straw, a ladder for them to roost on, nesting boxes, water, food, and a motion-sensitive light outside, we said night night to the hens.  I then spent the night wondering if they were too hot, or too cold, or if perhaps a raccoon was tearing at the screen and if we should have a sturdier covering for that window.  You know, the relaxed rural lifestyle we all crave.

And here’s more fun.  The dogs are hounds so they’ve hunted quails, squirrels and other rodents, and these menaces are going to discover four white birds living in a fenced area of the yard.  Though the dogs never go into this area, now fenced they want in in the worst way.

Calvin is so adorable as he’s used to large dogs on his parents’ farm which were shown the chickens and learned not to touch them.  He said once the dogs know those are their chickens they’ll be fine, and I said I doubt that very, very much.  Most big dogs are trained to listen given they’re size and all, but these two little hounds won’t do the most basic things so to stop them from biting a chicken seems impossible.  To be continued.

I remember telling people about the beekeeping and a common response was “oh did you take that course at the college on beekeeping?” to which I would reply in the negative.  Usually with a “Heavens, no!” And now when I tell people about the chickens, with wrinkled brow they’ll ask a similar question and I reply “piffle.” How hard can this be??

Now we wait to see if these young hens will start to lay, and then the real fun begins.

Opportunity Knocked

Years ago I contacted the City to ask about zoning re: chickens, and I got the official reply that I’m zoned for up to ten chickens or ten rabbits.  Why would I want rabbits?  But then whenever I’d think about getting chickens I’d chicken-out because it all seemed so daunting.  Just like with beekeeping, where I started out knowing nothing and being scared crapless of them, I know nothing about chickens and fear them, too.

Enter Calvin the Millennial Basement Tenant.  It turns out he’s an expert in chickens as he grew up on a farm and he tended to them.  He was very keen on the whole idea, so I thought wow I’d be stupid not to strike while I have him here to help.  Though when I said to Luke I wonder how long Calvin’s going to live here, he said “oh, he’s a millennial so probably about 20 years.”

My friend Scott came over and as usual when you have someone look with a fresh eye it can really help.  I had wanted to convert the old playhouse into a coop, but then he looked at the solid little shed at the top of my driveway and said why not just use that?  It’s already nicely made, and I did just have it re-roofed last year by Carl and all I do is store junk in there.

So now Calvin’s going to convert that shed, and he’s insulating it right now and has bought some wire for a fence to prevent the dogs from menacing the chickens.  I worry about George the cat who’s brought a Stellar’s Jay into the house before, so he could have the strength to beat up a chicken.

I wanted to get those adorable black and white striped hens, however couldn’t find any available so have bought four white chickens which I believe are sussex.  The standard red/orange ones are leghorns.  I told the nice man I bought them from I’ll get them at Labour Day and that gives us lots of time to do the shed.  Notice the word ‘us’ which always means only Calvin.

“We” also need to paint the shed, and will do it like a mini barn, red and white.  I’ll then have to make a nice sign for the door with these dear birds’ names on them: Kate, Megan, Charlotte and Lily.  They’re to be treated like royalty, at least until the first bobcat or racoon gets peckish.

The chickens have made me think of the bees, so I went onto Okanagan Beekeeping’s website and see the prices are now $275 for a queen and her brood.  It used to be $175 but then everything’s gone up.  I’ll have to order this fall and then pick them up in the spring.  Calvin said chickens can be brought home on the back seat in a cardboard box which sounds somewhat more relaxing than driving the bees home in the trunk.  I make it a quick drive from the bee place to here.

I’ll be ready for the end of the world: eggs, honey, vegetables, a bit of fruit.  The well.  I guess by now you think I’m some kind of a crazy survivalist, but I’m not, I’m just nutty.

Which could be a hereditary trait as my nearly blind 97-year-old mom phoned the other day to say she really didn’t like the old stereo in the living room, and when I come we have to look at that corner and try to think of what piece of furniture to buy.  Most people at that age are in their dotage, but nah-ah, not mom.  She’s a good example of continuing to do things in the face of others going, are you nuts?

Medical Miracles

After all the tick nonsense, the blood test for Lyme disease came back negative, as did the tick, and so it’s quite likely there’s absolutely nothing wrong with me.  I have the nice new doctor, and she also sent me for routine blood tests, the results of which we discussed by phone.  She said my white and red blood platelet count was good, iron and B 12 levels are okay, very low cholesterol, no sign of diabetes, good kidney and liver function, so she said to continue doing whatever I’m doing.

You know what a mistake that is, don’t you?  We had the phone appointment a few days ago and I’ve probably gained five pounds with the thought that the doctor TOLD me this is okay to do.  I simply have to stop going through the drive-thru at Dairy Queen for a chocolate-dipped cone.

Genes could have something to do with it, as you’ll recall mom ate a hundred pounds of fruitcake a year while I was in the fruitcake business.  At 97 she’s puttering around her house, watering her plants, eating dozens of Ritter Sport chocolate bars a week, and happily filling in her rest time with CNN and MSNBC, glass of wine in hand.

Calvin went home to his mom’s ranch in Falkland for a week, and while there found a little orange tabby kitten that needed a home so asked me if he could bring him here.  I said sure, but just know George will beat the tar out of that cat if he sees it on his property, but Calvin said he’s going to try to keep Felix as an indoor cat.

I was telling Calvin about my two white cats, Simone and Claudette who I had when I was 20 and had an apartment on Hemlock Street in Vancouver.  It was an ivy-covered old brick building, and those cats would go outside the window and walk along the narrow ledge, even though we were on the second floor. 

Hemlock Street was a feeder onto the Granville Street bridge, so people would barrel past the building at tremendous speeds.  When I first told my dear old gramma my boyfriend gave me two kittens for my birthday her reply in German was “throw them right out the window onto the street.” This is very funny because two years later these cats moved into my gramma and grampa’s house in Osoyoos, and were pampered pets. 

For some reason I treated the cats like dogs so I recall taking them down to Kits beach with my deaf boyfriend Bob and we’d hang out with other deaf people, and must’ve made quite a scene with the two white cats.  They were good cats as they just kind of stayed nearby, but now I imagine them running straight onto a busy road.  As we get older, we get more timid.

And more lazy, as I just called Gilles the nice gardener to come and prune a bunch of stuff for me.  In this heat I can haul the hoses around and water, but that’s my limit.  The tomatoes, cucumbers and yellow zucchini are all starting to produce, I have a lot of figs but not sure if they’ll ripen in time, and a bumper crop of hardy kiwi.

I’ve pitted a few pounds of cherries, cooked them, then added Kirsch brandy so that I can make Black Forest cake.  I’m determined to conquer the Genoise sponge.  More health food, perhaps?

50th High School Reunion

While I struggle to recall who the guests were at birthdays and other celebrations of the past, I can remember a lot of my graduation night.  As it occurred 50 years ago this is astounding, but when I think of the amount of liquor I consumed that night, it’s a miracle of memory.  I think what made it so memorable was being with people I had known since the age of six from the vaunted Osoyoos Elementary Junior Secondary School.

And so there we were, 19 of us from Osoyoos and I think a larger contingent from Oliver.  We attended South Okanagan Secondary School for grades 11 and 12, and for me these were happy years.  It was therefore great to see some people I hadn’t seen since the last reunion ten years ago, and at least two people I hadn’t seen for 50 years.

I find it hard to visit with that many people in a few hours though, so I saw a lot of folks and said hi and that was about it.  It was held at the lovely Quinta Ferreira Winery in Oliver, out on their front deck looking north to McIntyre Bluff.  I don’t drink wine so before leaving home I had the sense to put four ounces of tequila and some mix into a water bottle.

It was lucky I was at the reunion at all, as that morning our friends Jim and Fede met Luke and me and we all headed out in Luke’s boat.  Jim made the mistake of attempting to waterski which ended after just two tries as he’d pulled his left buttock muscle and couldn’t walk after that for several days.  I was falling over in the boat laughing but eventually I was able to stop it and at least act sad about his injury.

I said I wouldn’t try to ski after that incident, and so Luke said well try the tube, it’s fun.  I said sure.  As soon as he roared off I almost fell over backwards but managed to stay upright and mostly on the wake which I could handle.  However Luke got bored of it and soon did tight loop de loops which would cause the tube to fly at the highest rate of speed perpendicular to the boat, then over the big waves he’d made which caused the tube to bounce three feet up out of the water and whoomp! back down, then a turn in the opposite direction and I’d go flying up alongside the boat, gripping for dear life.

I had a lot of time to ponder dismemberment and death as it was early in the morning and the lake was like glass.  Few boats were out so I could enjoy the experience without distractions.  I could see at the speeds I was being whipped, if I so much as moved a muscle the wrong way, I’d be flung onto the water and I’d hit as though it was cement.

Fede told me afterward he was saying Luke, that’s your mother, but Luke wasn’t having any of it.  When I finally did the cut power signal and got into the boat I said to Luke what the hell are you doing I’m 68 years old, and he just shrugged and said that’s how you tube.  End of story.

And so, uninjured I got out the white dress I’d bought in Hawaii and hoped to look both young and thin in it.  Failing that, I was hoping the dress would distract people.  There was a photographer there taking pictures of various groups so I look forward to getting them.

Several from our grad class have died, so it’ll be interesting to see which of us makes it to the 60th.  I certainly won’t be boating the morning of that event, should I still be alive.

A Complete Mess

There’s really nothing like being cocky and then having the Universe punch you in the head to focus your mind.  Remember I said, phew, no symptoms from the two ticks?  About one week after writing that I noticed the skin on my right leg was totally numb from the knee to the ankle, and thought oh dear, I must’ve pinched a nerve sitting on a high stool at King Taps at Happy Hour with Kathy.

About a week after that I was eating dinner and thought man, my salivary gland is feeling very funny.  This got much worse and I realized I had a swollen lymph node at the top of my jaw and under my ear.  My friend Julie who’s a nurse had warned me to be vigilant about any weird symptoms, and between the numb skin and this lymph node I finally realized the ticks did mess with my system.

As seeing a doctor is out these days, I was able to book a ten-minute phone appointment with her, explained everything, and she prescribed ten days of doxycycline and asked for the tick as it’s going to be analyzed to see if it carries Lyme disease.  As the doctor’s office and pharmacy are adjoining, I picked up the pills and dropped the tick.  So now I wait for the results.

I’m thinking even if that filthy tick comes back negative, how do I know the tick I had in my chest, and which I pulled out and threw down the sink, didn’t carry Lyme?  Or, if I have these symptoms, and the tick doesn’t have Lyme, I think I should stay on the antibiotics no matter what they do to my system just to ensure all tick filth is dead.

Into every life a little rain must fall.  And I guess this is why my entire system decided to fail and go into a migraine, which made me sick for three days afterward, and so I’ve contacted Joan and said I need Reiki badly as obviously I’m out of alignment with the Universe.  What next, I wonder.

Shopping therapy is my excuse for the ridiculous amount of tchotchkes I’m hauling home from the thrift stores.  I fell in love with a trio of adorable Beswick ducks from the 1940’s, a small lusterware bowl with two intertwined swans as the handle, a Shafford hand-decorated cup and saucer made in Japan, and several other unneeded items.

My house is actually a small gift shop when you think of it.  I’ve chosen what on eBay, Etsy, and wherever I do my research, are decent and laudable items, so basically a person could just walk around shopping, pointing at items they wish to view, and then buying.  But could they, really?  I insanely pondered breeding dachshunds at one time and then realized I could never, ever sell any of the puppies.

You know how I love to cook and bake, so am happily planning the menu for my birthday party in Osoyoos next week.  I’m going to make sriracha chicken skewers, wild salmon, Amish pasta salad, Greek salad, sweet and sour cucumber salad, small roasted potatoes and buy some nice soft buns to warm.  For dessert Phyllis offered to make a cake, but mom can eat half of one on her own, so I’m going to make a Black Forest cake to ensure everyone can eat like mad.

So all things considered, life isn’t all that bad, and the next time I write an entire blog about my health please send nasty messages to bring me to my senses.

Tick Tick Boom

I was quite surprised to get a phone call early June saying a local doctor was willing to take me on as a patient.  On top of that, it’s a woman, she’s young, and the office is on Pandosy and KLO, in other words, my hood.  I shop right there at Lakeview Market so it’s meant to be.

I met with Doc Bielby and told her I’ve sprouted a small forest of moles on my chest, and she looked at them and said she wasn’t concerned but would refer me to a skin doc to examine them with a more powerful instrument than she has.  She said “It’ll take a while” to which I replied I didn’t care, given there’s likely nothing funny going on.

I then went to Osoyoos for the weekend, and our neighbour Bonnie invited me on their “nature walk” which is a seven-acre piece of wild land below their property.  It’s lovely with grasses, indigenous bushes and lovely ponderosa pines.  There are benches in various areas where one can enjoy the view of the lake and mountains.

The next morning as I was brushing my teeth I noticed a dark mole on my chest that seemed to have sprouted overnight, and I thought wow, good thing that doc is on top of this. I put on my glasses and when I touched it, it moved!  I grabbed and pulled, and a tick came out and I threw it into the sink and washed it down, feeling creeped out.  But I know how these things operate, so I took off my nightgown, and sure enough, another new dark spot on my back.

I tried to phone Lynne who wasn’t home, so I phoned Bonnie and she headed right over.  In the meantime I told mom and showed her my back and she said “come over here” as though she thought she knew what she was doing and I said “I don’t want a blind person grabbing at this tick, I want someone who can actually see it.”

A few minutes later Bonnie arrived and asked for a magnifying glass (we have many due to mom’s eyesight) and a pair of tweezers.  This wasn’t working, so she requested a sewing needle and lighter which she then used to apply to the tick’s ass.  Unfortunately as I later learned from Google, that’s the worst way to remove them, however it did work and she was able to pull it out and put it into a glass vile for me.

When I got back to Kelowna I Googled the kind of tick, and it looks like it’s a ‘dog tick.’  This kind doesn’t spread Lyme disease however can cause Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.  I advised my pal Julie, who’s a nurse, and she said just watch for any symptoms like numbness, fever and some other things that I immediately decided I wasn’t going to get, and I didn’t.

Then today I was at RBC and while at the teller discovered I’ve lost my debit card.  I was in shock as I’m the sort of odd person who very rarely loses anything, so I was completely discombobulated and at one point handed my many cards to the teller and asked her to rifle through, which she did, and still nothing.

I said to her, “hey, I’m here to withdraw money, but it turns out I’m also here to report a lost card”.  She immediately cancelled my old one and we checked on-line for weirdness, but nothing.  So you see, if I had only the tick on my back, I would never have known and God knows what would’ve happened.  If I wasn’t at the bank today it could’ve taken a long time to notice my card was missing.  Sometimes bad luck is a kind of good luck in disguise.

Trapped!

About 25 years ago Denis built a little garden shed on the side of the garage.  It’s large enough to store the lawn mower, weed whacker, garden pots, an old table I keep planning to ‘restore’, and all of my old beehive equipment.  The frames are gucked with old wax and there’s some sort of decay going on so if I ever return to beekeeping I can see a lot of cleaning will have to occur.

The latch to the door has become really finicky and for the past ten years we’ve had to keep a screwdriver lying on the ground outside it as once latched it’s really hard to open just with one’s hands.  However yesterday it was open as I’ve been going in and out getting pots to fill with dirt and plants, and then putting them into the greenhouse given this horrible cold spring.

In I went for another pot when suddenly a strong wind blew the shed door shut.  I ran toward it rattling it and realized to my horror I was locked in!  The shed faces the neighbour’s driveway so I tried screaming “help, help!” a couple of times, but of course given the wind, me inside a shed, them inside their house, I could see this was going to be futile.

For most of the time it’s been there a large thick English ivy has covered the entire garage and most of the shed as well, but it died this past winter.  Calvin had to take every single piece of it off, and by doing that he exposed a door I’d forgotten about on the opposite side of the shed.  This was good as images of breaking the glass to get out had already passed through my mind, and perhaps could now be discounted as a logical solution.

Seeing the door flooded me with relief and being a panicked maniac, I stampeded toward it knocking hive boxes, frames, and anything else in my way flying.  This door was fortunately bolted from the inside, and so with trembling hands I tried to slide the bolt, but it wouldn’t move as it hadn’t been done in a couple of decades.  I could also see a few thick old vines still adhering and causing a barrier.

I thought of the dogs outside, and how disappointed they’d be to miss their dinner.  Calvin was in the basement, probably with headphones on, gaming on the computer, and I imagined a day or two going by with people finally going huh, I wonder where Moni is.  I decided no damned way, I had to get myself out of this shed.

I studied the bolt and decided pushing the door forward would help, and finally I was able to loosen it which opened the door a crack, but the vines prevented full opening.  Kind of like when a fridge falls on a kid and the mom is able to lift it whereas otherwise she wouldn’t be able to, I pulled that freaking door toward myself as hard as I could and it gave way.  Suddenly I was out in the yard, panting.

How long was this traumatic adventure?  Maybe three minutes at most, but it felt much longer given I like going straight into panic mode.  Unlike the people who survive in the documentaries I enjoy about cave diving gone wrong, mountain climbing accidents and people lost on hikes, I prefer the all-out white-faced terror reaction when all logical thinking ceases.

Mom Won’t Waste Food

Every Easter I dye hard-boiled eggs and because I love the colour to be super deep, I leave them in the dye for two or three hours.  Then they sit in a basket for a few days and then get thrown out.  Not at mom’s though as under no circumstances will she waste food.

So no-one should’ve been surprised to find out mom had eaten two of them a week after they were made.  Luke said the next day she told him they were slimy, but she rinsed them off and they tasted fine, so down the old hatch with the eggs.  Naturally she vomited all night long and was completely weak and sick for several days afterward.

The scary part was her inability to find the right words, but after a few days of that she regained her ability to speak and is now right as rain.  Every time she gets very sick she demands I phone the doctor’s office and get the doctor to order MAID (Medical Assistance in Dying) for her, and just like last time she told me to cancel the appointment as she’s feeling fine.

Given her hearty nature, I can’t imagine the doctor actually ordering MAID, but who knows.  I do as I’m told, even if the request is particularly out of the norm, yet most are really normal, thereby demonstrating her mind is sharp.  Today she reminded me to bring perennials from my garden to replace those that had died in hers.

And speaking of gardens, please never buy rudbeckia (common name black-eyed Susan) as just like variegated ground cover, mint, or forget-me-nots, you’re going to have it for the rest of your life and in every garden bed you own.  For years I ignored it as I’m a very lazy person so thought hey, that’s nice, I don’t have to do anything as these things plant themselves.  But now I have to dig and dig and dig to get it out of all the beds I allowed it to roam into.

As you may recall I was on the Liberal executive for five years, and thought that’s enough of event-planning and retired from it.  Yet one of the cagey fellow Liberal board members had me over for lunch and after a preamble asked if I’d be interested in doing events organization for the Kelowna Citizens for a New Performing Arts Centre Society.

Alice is on the board, and apparently in a meeting the topic of events came up and she said hey I have the perfect person.  Long story short, I’m now the events planner for this newly-formed society which hopes to raise 100 million dollars for a new performing arts centre to replace the old Kelowna Community Theatre.

But why not, as God knows some of my best memories come from plays such as Oh Calcutta! which I saw in London and was pretty outré for a twenty-something girl from Osoyoos.  The whole thing was performed in the nude which was very chi chi in those days.  Never mind my joy at seeing plays in Boston, New York and Vancouver.

I’ll be in Osoyoos this weekend for Mother’s Day and will be making a nice lunch and we’re hoping James and Julie will attend as is tradition.  With Liz and Liza gone they enjoy reminiscing with us.  The only fear will be when I drive home the next day and the wonder of what leftovers will be sitting out for X number of days precipitating another call for MAID.

Easter Confusion

Nick and his little family came to Osoyoos to have lunch on Easter Sunday, and the topic of what Easter means came up.  Neither Luke nor Nick had a clue, and wondered.  They said is it when Jesus was born?  I said no, it’s when he died.  Luke said I thought Christmas was when he died, and I said no, that’s when he was born.

It seems almost incomprehensible that two kids, ages 32 and 35, with quite decent IQ’s would never have understood the significance of either Christmas or Easter.  I said to Luke at your gramma Gen’s, we’d have birthday crackers and hats at Christmas to celebrate Jesus’ birth.  Oh well.

Most of the weekend went well except for one small skirmish whereby mom had to verbally attack a waitress at the Diamond Steak and Seafood House.  The waitress was one of those competent, self-confidence types who likes to call all customers ‘hon’, which is fine with me but to mom is like waving a red flag in front of a bull.

When the bill arrived mom explained she didn’t wish to be called hon and resented it.  The waitress was excellent, recognizing she had a severely old person here, given we entered at a snail’s pace with the walker which became a major obstacle to all who tried to pass.  So she rolled with the punches and just said she was sorry about that, and Luke and I said nothing because what can you say about a crabby 97-year-old?

Mom and I went out for a nice drive on Sunday afternoon to look at various areas of the town to see how development has affected the poor place.  It’s always amazing to see the amount of land taken out of the Agricultural Land Reserve for subdivisions.  I guess the town’s planners are banking on food coming from California for the rest of our days.

Where the farms haven’t been taken out of the ALR many have converted to grape-growing, which is another puzzle as to how that’s agriculture.  But maybe we’ll end up like the Ruskies, and have our grocery shelves empty of food, and where they have gallons of vodka in times of severe food shortages, we’d be able to forget our troubles with gallons of red and white wines.

I’ve embarked on a new project for mom’s vast collection of books.  Most were bought and read by my dad, so there’s a lot of World War 2 history, and many 60-year-old books in that teensy print that seemed to be okay back then, but now we don’t like that small font, probably due to being very lazy and so we want reading to be easy.

As a result, every two weeks I take a couple of dozen off the shelf, and then replace them with books under 20 years old, within a wide range of categories.  In a year I should have each book replaced and then people will want to grab one off the shelf and read it.  Very few people are interested in the life and times of Hermann Goering.

Certainly the next time I’m in thrift with Elsa I’ll peruse the religious section and try to find books with which to enlighten the children with the meaning of the holidays we’ve celebrated for our entire lives.  I may have to throw in a couple of books about Judaism and Islam and as Jan’s a Buddhist, perhaps one or two of those, too.  In any case, it can’t hurt and perhaps will lessen holiday confusion.