Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Pesky Pet

 I have a new pet, and it is so annoying...I’m going to have to get rid of it. It’s not been easy, sharing this space. He wakes me up, pesters me when I’m busy, disappears for a short time only to come back with a vengeance.

I left the door open for a moment, hoping it would wander out and leave me alone, but no such luck. He’s decided her likes it here, likes me, and I may have to resort to drastic means.

My new pet is not a cat or dog, nor is it a bird...but it does fly, is a fly as a matter of fact. For days I’ve had this pesky insect flying about. I’ve tried hitting it with a rolled up newspaper, the flyswatter, even my book, but he’s quick.

I need a roll of that sticky tape, that stuff that he could fly into and stay put. I’ve had the door open, and he won’t leave, and seems to think he’s king of the castle, as none of his friends have joined him.

Maybe he’ll find it’s too hot in here and perish from the heat, I know I am. I like to call it a feminine glow, but it’s really plain old sweat. I don’t have air conditioning, but I do have a small fan that I have total control over and direct it on myself.

It’s probably hotter in here than it needed to be. I left my windows open, love that fresh air, but that air was hot. The weather channel says it is 21 degrees Celsius, hot and humid. We’re not expecting rain until Thursday, and I hope it brings some relief. Tomorrow is going to be 25, with a Humidex of 31.

I’m barricading myself inside; it’s too hot to do anything. I have two new books I’ve been saving for just such a time.

Take care, stay cool, and if you’ve got some of this heat, hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Bread Cravings

I have made a concerted effort to eliminate bread from my diet. Not that hard to do, if I can refrain from buying it in the first place. I have no one here to make toast for in the morning, or sandwiches for lunch which makes it easier.

But every once in a while, I can’t resist buying a loaf to satisfy my sandwich cravings, finding it hard to say no to those store baked loaves of bread for 99cents at Walmart. The aroma of freshly baked, warm from the oven bread is too much temptation.

My bread cravings usually lean to peanut butter and jelly, the classic PB&J. My favorite is made with Welch’s grape jelly. After that is another tried and true, peanut butter and banana, mine is made with added mayo.

And to finally satisfy my bread cravings, I need to make a grilled cheese sandwich. I discovered why this sandwich has never lived up to my expectations...I never made it the right way, until this week. There’s a knack to it, a timing that makes all the difference.

Before, I would have tossed the sandwich in the frying pan, and waited impatiently for it to brown. I might squash it down with the flipper, as if that would speed up the cooking time. I would flip too early, and often flip too many times before I managed to get it ready to eat. And always I was disappointed.

This week I put the sandwich in the pan, and turned to something else for a moment. When I returned to the stove, I checked my sandwich and found it beautifully browned, and flipped it. I didn’t leave the second side to brown the same, considered it lightly grilled, (that impatience again).

That sandwich was great, best I’ve ever made, I’d bet. It’s like pancakes, I’m thinking.

Pancakes don’t taste as good if they’re flipped too many times. But at least they give you a clue as to when to flip. You have to wait until the batter bubbles on the surface before you turn the pancake, though I have no idea where I learned that.

A grilled cheese sandwich doesn’t give you a warning sign; you have to peek under to see if it’s done, and if you wait too long, I hope you like it well toasted.

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Something Silly

My seven year old grandson and I have a shared sense of humor, and an appreciation for something silly. He was here the other day and, as little boys usually are, was curious about the things he sees at my place.

He always comments on the number of books on my bookcase, wanting to know if I’ve read them all. He’s a smart kid and likes to read, so appreciates books.

When I am crafting, I end up with bits of thread and yarn that are snipped off in the process. Last weekend I made macramé duck call lanyards for my son. Then it was crocheted owl change purses. I made seven and lost three to the grandkids when I delivered them to my daughter for her friend.

I usually make a pile of all these scraps on the table, but they inevitably end up on the floor.

What made us laugh that day was the bright green, plastic garbage can sitting on the table beside my chair. It’s about 6 inches tall, and has wheels and a lid, just like the larger version used to cart garbage to the curb.

“It’s a garbage can,” he said. I explained that I use it for all the bits and pieces of yarn, and he laughed, opening the lid to check for himself.

I’m not sure what my little garbage can was originally intended for, but don’t think it’s garbage, more like pencils or crayons or such.

My grandson’s response was the same as mine when I first saw it in the dollar store. It was just too cute, and it makes me smile to see it sitting on the table, this mini garbage can collecting my mini bits of refuse.

I know, I know, I’m easily amused.

Saturday, 18 July 2015

On Waking Up

It was shortly before eight when I woke this morning. The sunshine streamed in the window creating patterns across the floor. I can hear the birds singing outside; feel the cool morning breeze blowing in my window.

Should I turn over and go back to sleep, I wonder. I can’t decide. Another hour would make up for some of the time I spent reading late into the night. I like easing into the day, but he book I couldn’t put down last night doesn’t capture my interest this morning, so I set it aside.

Instead I turn over and stretch my legs, wiggle my toes, feel my muscles tense and then relax. I rest my head on folded arms and feel...content.

It’s enough just to lie here and enjoy my bed, all comfortable and cozy. My thoughts go to my children, now grown with children of their own.

There are no peaceful mornings like this for them, no sleeping in, no moment for quiet reflection, for thinking, or not thinking as the case may be.

I remember those mornings, one minute you’re sound asleep, only to be jerked awake when the kids jump into bed with you. They have no understanding or appreciation for the concept of ‘sleeping in’.

The reality, even the memory, of early morning cuddles, teasing tickles, and hugs and kisses are the best way to start the day.

Enough of this, I’m well awake; sleep is lost to me now. I guess I’m getting up. I see coffee enjoyed on the patio, basking in the morning sun, in my near future.

A great way to start the day. Have a good one.

Friday, 17 July 2015

First Born's Birthday

The tone of my relationship with my daughter was set long before she was born. From the beginning of my pregnancy I was plagued with problems, or should I say challenges.

I remember the day my labour pains started. Her father and I were in the grocery store, and my back hurt more than usual, and I felt these mild pains across my abdomen. But I wasn’t sure it was labour and said nothing to him, just waved him off to work for the evening.

The pains got worse, and I figured it was the real thing, and called him home. I decided there was no sense in his finishing his shift, it was Friday, and he might as well wait with me.

He came home and we waited for things to progress, by watching television. I remember exactly, it was the eight o’clock episode of Quincy. But the waiting got too much for the old boy, as we had more than forty miles to drive to the hospital. I could see his worried glances coming my way, like he was afraid I’d pop that baby out at any time.

I relented and we left for the hospital, and all my pains stopped, false alarm. We went back home and caught the ten o’clock episode of the same show. As always happens, my pains started again, but this time I was determined to see the entire show. We left for the hospital, at eleven, when the show was over.

I was in labour all night and into the next day. Walk around, the nurses said, and I tried, so long as there was a chair available when the next contraction came. My doctor guaranteed the baby would be born that day, and I took him at his word, as I was already 10 days overdue.

Well, he lied, but only by minutes. My labour never did progress, as that baby kept changing her position. Seemed she liked it where she was and didn’t want to battle her way out. The doctors won that argument by delivering her by C-Section, late that night, just after midnight.

I was asleep and missed the blessed event. When the nurses wheeled my bed out of recovery, back to my room, I asked what I'd had. They laughed as they'd told me before and detoured by the nursery so I could get a glimpse of my beautiful baby girl.

Beautiful, stubborn, determined and likes things her own way, at her own timing. That’s how it was that day and every day since, but always a joy.

Said with much love, knowing she’ll understand the feelings, as she’s a mother herself.

Happy Birthday.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Moving on to Macrame

I wrote yesterday about my first attempts at being a potter. At the same time I was making macramé wall hangings, and part of the pottery appeal was making clay items to embellish the wall hangings.

I can remember the hook placed in the overhead beam of the mud room that I used to hang my work in progress. I would sit on my stool and work for hours.

The family could always attest to whatever craft I was into at the time, by the homemade Christmas gifts they received. I had my pottery year, the macramé year, followed by ceramics, crocheting and sewing and so many more.

I saw some macramé bracelets on Pinterest, and my son happened to see them. Could I make a lanyard, he asked. What kind? I replied. This led to an internet research on duck call lanyards.

For those unfamiliar with duck hunting, there is this call thing that imitates...a duck, I guess. It has an irregular shape and no hole by which the hunter could hang it, keeping it handy. Someone designed a lanyard with a noose tied end on it that could be adjusted to the duck call.

I can make that, I told him.

We were going out for dinner and stopped at the store for some paracord, and I was off to the races. By the end of the weekend, after another trip to the store, I had the design down pat. I made a few variations and will leave it up to my son and his buddies to decide which one works best.

There’s something very relaxing about the repetition of knotting, and I find it a pleasant way to while away the time and keep my hands busy.

My son is always finding these ‘little projects’ for me. I still have the research saved for making fishing lures. Still thinking about it, but this one is out of my comfort zone.

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

A Wanna-Be Potter

I have gone through many phases in my arts and crafting history. One of the most memorable was when I wanted to be a potter. That was more than thirty years ago, when I began taking night school courses from the community college.

What made this ideal, and would never happen in today’s financial climate, was that the school maintained an open studio. There were large work tables, pottery wheels, and an abundance of clay. Any completed items could be left on a shelf and the instructor would fire them in the kiln, ready for glazing, and then to be fired again.

As long as there was no class in progress, the studio was open, day and evening.  I spent a lot of time there, as I was temporarily off work.

I never did get the hang of the wheel. It was an impossible position to maintain, given that I was 8 ½ months pregnant, that baby bump made leaning over difficult, hard for me to rest my elbows on my knees. So I did hand pieces and found I liked that better than the wheel.

My dream was to have my own studio. I had a simple wheel of my own, and had dibs on a room in one of the sheds for my kiln. Things never worked out the way I planned.

We were living on a small farm at the time, with an old house that needed some renovation, so my studio was put on hold.

But that was okay, because I had this other creative project to keep me occupied, my beautiful baby girl born that July. So, without saying exactly how old she is, this little remembrance comes the week of her birthday, when all those memories come flooding back.

Happy Birthday, Kiddo, it’s been a fantastic journey.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Butter Tarts

My mother was not much of a baker, so I have no fond memories of home baked cookies, unless they were the refrigerator kind you slice and bake.

When I was married, I gained a grandmother-in law who baked all kinds of things, cakes, brownies and butter tarts. The tarts were the most popular, and she had to make extra for family gatherings to keep everyone happy.

I loved her butter tarts, and occasionally attempted to make my own. Let me tell you, they are a lot of work. Not the filling, but the rolling out and cutting of all that pastry. I now take the easy way out, and use a frozen tart shell (I find Tenderflake the best) and so far the kids and grandkids haven’t complained.

What I hadn’t realized, is that butter tarts are a particular Canadian thing. My sister, who lives in Florida, looks for butter tarts whenever she comes north.

Apparently a butter tart is a type of small pastry highly regarded in Canadian cuisine and is considered one of Canada’s quintessential desserts. The tart consists of a filling made of sugar, butter and eggs, baked in a pastry shell. Recipes vary, as do the additives, like walnuts, pecans, chocolate chips and so on.

A butter tart is usually runnier than, say, pecan pie, due to the omission of corn syrup.

A few years ago I heard about a tourist event called the Butter Tart Tour in the Kawartha/Peterbourough districts. They included a map of the area with all the participating bakeries that offered butter tarts.

There was a problem though. Another area of Ontario had started what they called The Butter Tart Trail. This sparked some controversy, and some heated discussions. It was even written up in the Canadian Living Magazine.

I was reminded of all this as I went on a day trip Friday to Belleville, and visited one of my favourite stores...A Taste of Country. The store is located just north of the city, in an old stone farmhouse with a board and batten addition.

When you walk in the door the bakery smells are enticing. There is a freezer section selling meat, vegetables and other assorted frozen foods. The bakery offers fresh bread, rolls, cookies, and, you know it, butter tarts. I bought a package of two, as I know they are so good I could eat them all, so I limit myself.

The rooms of the original house offer a variety of goods. Lots of signs, metal and wood, some kids’ books, toys and candles. There are calendars, jewellery, some clothing and a host of kitchen gadgets including all of those country chair cushions, place mats and linens.

It was a good day, and I can recommend the tarts. Our next day trip we’re going to Campbellford. They have a cheese factory, the World’s Finest Chocolate Outlet, and two of the butter tart bakeries from the tour.

Can’t wait.

Friday, 3 July 2015

Studio Space

I find my clothes are frequently smeared with paint or glue, from some project or other. It may not have been my intention, to paint or indulge in some other craft, when I dressed for the day in something nice, but, invariably, I’d suddenly find myself involved in a new project and my nice top or pants ruined.

So my habit now is to start the day in the stained and paint smeared outfit, and change into something nice if I find myself going out. I use these shirts with ease now, wiping my fingers across the fabric if need be, with no concern.

I wish the shirts were a colourful representation of my work, but they just look grubby.

I remember reading a story some years ago about a young man who moved into his late grandfather’s house. The older man had been an artist, and his studio was on the upper level of the garage.
I’ve never forgotten the description of the old hardwood floor, covered in years’ worth of paint, leftovers from all the paintings created in that space. It was nice that the man did not want to change it, but respected and valued the studio in memory of his grandfather.

I would have loved to have such a studio, but I’m not sure I could have left all the drips and dollops of paint on the floor. Too many years of conditioning, I guess. Whenever I’ve had a studio type space, it has been a spare bedroom, so a space that had to stay neat, the floor clean and paint free.

To have that kind of freedom, where you can say to hell with the mess requires a separate space, a designated space. One where you feel the freedom to just create, and not have to worry about walking through paint and stepping on the hall carpet when you go to the bathroom sink to clean your brushes.

My living space is small, and though I still make notes and create in my mind, I haven’t done much art since I moved. What I have done, I’ve managed to do sitting on a stool at the kitchen counter. It has good light and easy access to the sink and water. If I was going to do some serious work, I’d need to set up a little table for more space.

I remember seeing pictures of Jackson Pollack in his studio, the huge canvas on the floor, and the artist leaning over it, swinging his paint laden brush. Now there was a studio that would have plenty of paint on the floor...and the walls and most likely the ceiling, too. He was one of a kind.

My mother once had her ‘art room’ in a tiny closet, but she made it work. I think it all falls down to this, if you want to create, if you have a need to create, you’ll find a way to make it work, no matter what your space is.

I just need to get that ‘want’ and ‘need’ back.

Thursday, 2 July 2015

How Silly is That?

I woke up suddenly, feeling disoriented. What time was it? Okay, 2:45, almost three o’clock in the morning.

I stumble, doing my own personal waltz, one step forward, two steps back and one to the side, before I find my rhythm and walk in a fairly straight line to the bathroom.

I remember now. I was in bed, reading, and I kept dropping my book and nodding off. Time to go to bed, and do what activity that required. But I was too tired, so I turned over, made myself comfortable and closed my eyes...just for a minute...and fell sound asleep.

Just a little nap, at eleven o’clock at night? Before I go to bed? How silly is that?

And all of that, the reason I was up, in the bathroom, washing my face and brushing my teeth at three A.M.