Nature in all its Glory

Just so you know, I gave up on sourdough as I don’t like being bossed by a food.  You have to feed it regularly or it dies, and I don’t like that tiny task.  It involves adding flour and water, but I don’t want to, so go figure.  However, the kids are baking themselves into a stupor downstairs, and they’ve certainly adopted the idea of sourdough bread making.

I currently have a good-sized spider living on my kitchen window.  It’s made a large web encompassing about half the window and touching the tops of some plants and ornaments on the fly-blood-covered ledge.  I guess my window sill is its garbage dump and this is the fly detritus it won’t eat.

Because of all the fruit in the house there are plenty of fruit flies for this spider to eat so I wonder how long it’s going to remain there.  Surely at some point it’ll die or move away?

The other day I went into the bathroom, in which I have a tile floor, and saw Louie had peed right beside the tub as he likes to do from time to time.  Because of the pale colour of the tile I saw the dog’s pee looked quite coral-coloured and so I figured there was blood in his urine.

I had an old syringe from some animal illness, and used that to suck up as much blood-filled pee as I could, and put that into an old pill bottle.  I put it into the fridge and decided to call the vet first thing in the morning.

As I was pondering what of many ailments my poor dog could have, my mind went back to lunch, and the cooked beets I’d made.  I recalled feeding piece after piece of beet to Louie as he really liked it and I figured beets are a good way for him to cleanse his liver.

Oh my God.  I then retrieved the beet-filled dog pee from the fridge and threw it into the garbage and pondered Munchausen by Proxy.  Munchausen disease involves making oneself sick for attention and pretending one has all manner of ailments.

Munchausen by Proxy involves making someone close to you sick for similar mentally ill reasons.  I briefly wondered if I was crazy but then remembered that no, I was feeding the dog beets not in a cry for attention and a large vet bill, but for the animal’s health.

Our little vegetable garden turned out not too bad for the amount of effort made.  Margaret’s been taking home onions, tomatoes, beans and yellow squash, and I’ve been eating the same here pretty much daily.  I juice the Swiss chard, beets and celery so figure I can’t possibly be any healthier.

Some decidedly unhealthy things I love to sling down my gullet are the snick snacks and drinks at various joints around town for happy hour.  I meet pals there and we get a poor waitress running like mad as we ask how many minutes until happy hour ends.

And you know how writers want to be published, no matter where, so I continue to write reviews on Trip Advisor and have a small readership there.  Isn’t that adorable?  I just reviewed the lovely Waterfront Café in Kelowna and have to say I adore the little chicken sliders at Cactus Club.

Sour Dough Bread is the New Goal

You know how I like to try out new things and now sour dough bread-making has just landed in my lap.  I was visiting my friend Alice the other day and she said her neighbour had brought over sour dough starter and then showed her how to bake bread.  She asked if I’d like to take some starter home and I reluctantly said I’d try it.

Alice had the good fortune of watching a pro make bread and she took notes as it was happening.  She then printed these for me, but guess what?  They’re pretty damned hard to understand because I wasn’t there.  So now I have to go to You Tube and get taught myself, then tomorrow Ayumi and I are going to try and bake bread.

Our friend Jim brought his new boyfriend, who’s from Argentina, to Osoyoos.  They came to mom’s last week and I stayed for two nights of fun.  As you can imagine, mom can’t make food for herself, let alone guests, so I’m always invited to come to do the cooking, which I enjoy doing.

I was all proud of myself as I’d made lasagna and panna ricotta for dessert.  They arrived at mom’s in time for dinner, at which point Jim said “Federico attended cooking school in Manhattan.”  As this is a family blog, I cannot print the next few words I said to Jim, but the gist of the message to him was could you have told me in advance so that I would’ve really killed myself making something gourmet?

The next night Federico cooked, and he made beef with chimichurri sauce which was delicious.  Just now my friend Beverly was here from White Rock so I said to her I’m going to make steak with chimichurri and it was absolutely delicious.  I have a lot of herbs out on my deck so this is the ideal time to be doing it.

After our usual stint at thrift, Bev and I went over to Luke’s condo to try out his pool.  Jan and Luke have never set foot in it, but I wanted to try it given Luke had said it was a heated pool.

We rang Luke’s and he took us down and unlocked the gates to the pool.  There was just one young couple there lying in the sun and reading.  At one point the strata president, Dennis came by to talk to Luke because Luke does handyman duties for the place.

Bev and I were just slowly easing ourselves into the pool due to its temperature, so I said to Dennis “are you sure this pool is heated??”  He said it was and that it was very comfortable or something like that.  Both Bev and I have swam in my brother’s pool in Maple Ridge which he keeps at 30 degrees C so that’s what we call a heated pool.

Besides watering the vegetables and flowers, I’m now doing the odd stint of door-to-door canvassing for the Liberals.  It’s not a lot of fun, but I look at it as an excellent way to get some good exercise.

We spend two hours walking up, down, up, down streets knocking on doors, and if not kicked right off the stoop, we sometimes have a nice exchange with whoever answers.  It’s really not for the faint-hearted but again, a lovely challenge for a retired individual.

Most Scary Challenges over for the Summer

I admit I really challenged myself this past year, first with vocal lessons, and then with tap dancing.  The vocal lessons were the scariest, as one is alone in a small studio with a person who has a Bachelor of Music degree displayed behind them and a piano in front of them.  Gulp.

Tap was only slightly less terrifying because it involved eight of us and the instructor in a large room.  Hence one could bluff the odd move and get away with it, but alone with the music teacher I could not.  At last, by the final lesson, I had the nerve to just sing loudly and forget about the next pigeon waiting on the chair outside the door.

Scary events that occurred in June included using my GPS to get from Maple Ridge to North Vancouver, and getting to my destination just by luck as half the time it wouldn’t speak at all, and I’d be screaming at it, where to, you bitch.

The same thing returning to my brother’s in Maple Ridge as for fun, while approaching the Port Mann Bridge it was completely silent and I had to use my wits and take the exit for Maple Ridge despite not a whisper.  My God, that is one useless device.

To continue with some adrenaline-inducing fun, I offered to make the food for my friend Beverly’s daughter’s wedding.  There were 45 invited guests and I made sriracha chicken skewers, cocktail meatballs and deviled eggs.  So not all the food that was there, but a good portion of it.

Because I hadn’t found that too difficult, I told mom I wanted to make the dinner for the 20 guests she invited for my 65th birthday party at her house.  For that I made the same sriracha chicken skewers, pork tenderloin marinated in soy sauce, garlic, oil and mustard, and salmon baked with brown sugar and butter.

I also made an Amish pasta salad which contains hard boiled eggs, a Greek Salad and those little red potatoes baked in oil and honey mustard in the oven.  People went berserk over those.

I bought raspberries and made a puree, then used that to make raspberry buttercream for the chocolate and vanilla cupcakes I’d baked.  I stuck a few candles in those and asked my pals Mary and Phyllis to surprise me by carrying them out, singing, which they did.

I believe all those challenges are now behind me, as the rest of the summer I plan to do nothing but hang around in the garden, admiring the dahlias and marveling at their immense size.  They’re a satisfying thing to plant.

As compared to the peppers I planted in the vegetable garden which are the exact same size they were when planted in May.  The radishes turned into tall green blooming plants and the spinach bolted from the heat.

Hence vegetable gardening remains a mystery and a trial, so I suppose while still alive, one can never fully escape scary challenges.

Osoyoos Girls’ Reunion

I survived the reunion, however it was nip and tuck at the beginning.  Renate (“Sam”) arrived as scheduled and spent the night, then as we were waiting for Alison and her husband JT, we decided to go shopping.  As we all know, when the going gets tough, the tough go shopping.

We had a pleasant couple of hours at thrift and were quite surprised to arrive home to Mr. Rooter’s truck parked on the driveway.  I was informed the outlet to the septic tank was plugged, and crap had backed up in the shower stall while Nicky was showering, hence his call to Mr. Rooter.

The first Mr. Rooter person insisted the septic tank must be full and stated we should lift the lid and check it.  He demanded a couple of hundred of dollars for that and left.  Nicky started to dig, at which point Alison and JT arrived and were informed they had to pee on the lawn.

Alison replied, “Damn, I shoulda gone at the restaurant.”  We were basically helpless and finally Nicky got the engine hoist out and lifted the several hundred-pound cement lid and looked in.  Nope, not full.

I then called Mr. Rooter again, and said we needed someone back here.  A new person came who had the sense to lift the basement toilet and snake out the line, thereby dislodging the plug.  Another $600 for that, so an expensive day on the ranch.

The next day JT headed back to Toronto, and Alison, Sam and I went to shop for the groceries for the reunion.  It wasn’t too bad, as it was just $300 for seven people to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner for three days.

We headed up to the house at Kalamalka Lake and were met by the manager who showed us around.  I said to Sam and Alison quick let’s pick the best rooms before the others arrive, which we did.  I had a lovely lakeside room with a queen-sized bed.

Right at the dot of 4:00 PM Rhonda, Penny, Mary and Phyllis arrived and began to stake out the house and the rooms.  After a bit of back and forth everyone was settled into one of the rooms.

Friday night involved barbecued salmon and sitting outside talking and drinking.  Saturday saw a bit of napping and some shopping as Sam thought she’d forgotten her bathing suit, bought a new one, then found her own in her suitcase.

Saturday night Alison made a lovely chicken Marbella recipe, and I’d made my chocolate chunk cake which served as dessert for all three nights.  Phyllis insisted I perform, so I tried to get them all to engage in karaoke with me, but they stunk at it.  You know how you have to be right on top of the highlighting of the word to stay in sync with the music and I was screaming at them, you’re too slow!  Or you’re too fast!

Finally, I performed the old standby, Dream a Little Dream of Me, and they were satisfied with that.  I think most people want me to have turned from a tone-deaf quacker into Celine Dion, but that just didn’t happen.

On Sunday we had a fab adventure as Penny had arranged for us to rent bikes and go on the 26 km rail trail along Kalamalka and Wood Lakes.  They picked us up at the end and drove us back to our vehicles, which were parked at Predator Ridge.

That night we had steak salad, barbecued by Miss Alison, and who would be feted each night by Mary making us say in a chorus “Goooood cookin’, Alison.”

We all felt satisfied at another great reunion, with everyone having good visits and reminisces.  Phyllis brought old photos and we poured over those, feeling perplexed where those thin, smooth-skinned lil’ gals had gone.

I’m sad we didn’t take a photo of the empties when we checked out of there on Monday morning as we had a good lot of them.  And this with two teetotalers in the group, so ya know, those of us drinking had to really pick up the slack.

But basically we’re all rockin’ being 65 and are loving it.  There was alcohol, there was nudity, there was sentimentality over Liz not being there except in spirit form, so we experienced it all once again.  Next reunion 2024.

Maniacal Behaviour Results in Injury

This coming weekend Mary, Rhonda, Renate (AKA Sam), Penny, Alison, Phyllis and I are having a reunion at an Air B and B house we rented on Kalamalka Lake.  As you may know, I met some of these women in grade one when we were six, and some came later over the years.

Sam’s coming from California tomorrow, and Alison will arrive on Thursday, then Friday we’ll head to the house to meet the other four women.  Naturally I’ve gone berserk with baking, cooking, gardening and cleaning in preparation.

Due to all of the food prep, I lost my mind for a moment and put my plastic bowl from the Cuisinart onto a hot burner.  Imagine my surprise when I went to pick it up a while later only to find it had glued itself to the ceramic cook top.  I did get it off, but it never fit onto the base again as it was warped from the heat.

For Christmas Nicky gave me a powerful Ninja brand blender.  I wondered if it could sub in for a Cuisinart, so yesterday I put in some raw cabbage to see if it would shred.  For some stupid reason, I pushed on the cabbage and sliced the Bejesus out of the middle finger of my right hand.

Blood began pouring out, so I wrapped it in a paper towel and checked every few minutes.  Nope, not gonna stop bleeding as it was a deep gash.  I then thought oh crap, I have so much left to do in the house to get ready for the women I’d better get it stitched so I can continue to work.

I hummed and hawed, then drove off to the Orchard Park Medical clinic.  I was all excited at the light as I could see there weren’t many cars parked there, however when I arrived the reason for that was clear as it was closed!  I then went piffle to the cut and drove home.

I bandaged it up very well, but strangely no matter what I do, I seem to hit that finger.  I can’t wring anything out, chop or prune as those motions are killers on the cut.  However, in a few days it’ll be a distant memory, though hopefully one I remember every time I use the Ninja.

For everyone’s enjoyment while here, I made two kinds of muffins, buttermilk oatmeal and bran.  And for the weekend with the women I made a three layer chocolate chunk torte for our desserts, and a banana loaf for breakies.

For dinner tomorrow Sam’s getting wild salmon topped with giant shrimp and all covered in a rich cream sauce.  I have broccoli and cucumber salad for the sides; then homemade panna cotta for dessert.

On Thursday it’ll be lasagne with garlic bread and Caesar salad followed by meringues filled with a mixture of strawberries and rhubarb from my garden.  Then on Friday Alison’s volunteered to take over the cooking duties for the seven of us for the weekend.

On Sunday we’re renting bikes and doing a 26 km trek on the new rail trail, so I hope I can survive that given I haven’t been on a bicycle in 35 years.  I’ll keep you posted.

Obsessive Yard Work

Because my house is on a small hill, my priority for gardening is always this top area around it.  However, I have a greenhouse and garden in the lower part of the yard and over the years I allowed it to turn into a helluva mess.

For the past few weeks Nicky, Margaret and I have been working on restoring the beds.  I had Dean from Redline Bobcat, who’s a genius by the way, put in a gravel path to make it easier to access.  Tomorrow a company’s coming to remove all foliage and then rototill so the entire area will be a sea of dust.

Alfalfa will begin to grow again next spring, and then I can buy a ride-on tractor mower and it’ll be all nice and flat and I can turn it into something lovely.  But for now, my days are spent lugging grass-laden sod from beds via a shovel so we can plant vegies.

I’ve always alleged this yard’s gonna kill me one of these days.  I’ve already dealt with the two trailers of mulch, and the other day when Juergen phoned to ask if I was ready for a third, I said absolutely not until I get the lower area into shape and then I can use more down in the vegetable beds.

But I don’t go to the gym anymore so the garden’s my way of getting worked out.  It’s just too bad a lot of the workout leaves one so crippled that straightening up is a painful experience.  I sure slept well last night after two solid hours of heavy, heavy shoveling.

Margaret participated and we were both happy when the ordeal had ended, and we could reward ourselves with a libation followed by dinner.  And speaking of dinner, I had the Persnickety Women again the other evening and all the food was well-received.

When we do those happy hour events at each other’s homes we like to try out adorable little appies that women like to eat at that hour.  I made a Jewish dish called knishes which none had eaten before and they all said they loved them.  It’s a puff pastry filled with mashed potatoes and baked, so it’s a nice hot appetizer.

I also made little cocktail meatballs, deviled eggs, stuffed cherry tomatoes (with sour cream, cream cheese and dill) and skewers of kalamata olives, ham and sharp cheddar.

For dessert I made panna cotta which I’ve never tried before, and it was fine however a bit too stiff, so next time I think I’ll ace it.

I’ve taken a hard line with a lot of my plants as I removed all Russian sage because I just don’t like it.  I had a pyracantha removed.  Have you ever heard of it?  The common name is Fire Thorn, and man, is that ever accurate.  This plant can draw blood with its vicious big thorns.

I have about 18 dahlias in pots in the greenhouse ready to be planted so that’ll happen in the next week or so.  Ditto with getting bedding plants for my pots around the house.  What a joy May is, other than the body pain stuff of preparation.

I remember when we first moved here 29 years ago and a retired couple two doors down spent their days killing themselves in their yard and I thought wow, those people are nuts.  And now I am the nut.

Blimp in Pain

I asked Juergen my neighbour, who’s also a handyman, if he could get a trailer full of mulch for me, and he delivered it last week.  Today I finished shoveling the last of it into the wheelbarrow and distributing it throughout the yard.  I need an awful lot more as this yard is pretty neglected.

However after a winter of sedentary fun on the couch, shoveling and pushing, bending and hand-distributing a lot of the mulch has made this old body say uncle.  I can’t fully open my right hand and I noticed back muscles I’d forgotten about.

But that’s why I keep this property; I need the exercise.  Juergen is so funny as he’s about five years older than me and when I said I was half dead he said “I don’t doubt it.  This is a big yard for a girl your age.”  Isn’t that adorable?

I’ve tried everything to get myself to exercise over the winter and not a thing worked.  I thought maybe if I brought the exercise bike upstairs it would help but it didn’t.  I have a rebounder I won’t use.  I won’t do any on-line weight training or yoga.  I therefore have to count on my yard to give me a work-out.

And here’s a new fun thing that burns a handful of calories, tap dance.  I had my first class last week and it was so much fun the 50 minutes flew by.  There are eight of us in the class, all in a similar age group, IE old.

You have no idea how complicated tap is.  I think Sharon said she’s taking level one for the third time as there are only five classes in total.  Someone else said they’d tried level two but it was way too hard.  So doesn’t all of that sound like an insanely fun challenge?

Apparently my grand niece, River, is also taking tap dance, and she’s eight years old.  So I told them to bring her tap shoes when they come at Easter and the two of us can tap ourselves into a stupor.

Denis was over last week and I mentioned I needed a piece of plywood as the instructor had said you can dent your floors from the taps.  He kindly asked if I wanted him to help me and I said sure, so we headed to Rona where I got a three foot by three foot square piece so now I can practice.

Now here’s something odd: I find it very hard to practice either my singing or tap dancing with Nicky in the basement.  He really and truly could give a rat’s ass what I do upstairs, but for some reason I have inhibitions that prevent me from properly belting out tunes or seriously stepping.

The good news is he’s gone to Vancouver and won’t return until Sunday so I have a few days in which to give it my all.  The sad thing is I’ve now probably crippled myself so badly from the mulch distribution that any attempt at dance might be too painful.

But nothing can stop the voice, as this week I’m practicing Who’s Bed Have your Boots been Under?  Oh my, what a great tune!