Ok, I have to admit I’m not really a winter person. I HATE dressing up in layers of restrictive yet oh so warm clothing. I HATE putting on a hat, then pulling my hood over it just to save my nose from frost bite. I HATE losing my peripheral vision, and having to turn my whole body to look over my shoulder to see if the goats are torturing the pig. I HATE the gauntlet mitts that I have to remove every time I need to actually use my hands to open latches and unscrew bottles. I HATE the wind most of all–the cold isn’t bad if it’s calm, but the wind!!! It blows the cold right thru to my bones, takes my breath away, freezes tears on my cheeks, and sometimes even freezes my eyes shut….without the wind, I can work up a sweat even at -30C, but add a wind and it takes me hours to warm up again. Today started quite cold, about -27C, but it warmed up to -12C. The blood red sky yesterday morning was actually right. Last night I parked my truck with the nose pointing away from the prevailing wind. Of course the red sky foretold a change in the weather and a howling gale has been blowing all day from the exact opposite direction, right into the nose of my truck. But it grudgingly started and I flipped a bale–of course the hay only runs out when the weather is crap. Everyone got fed and watered and bedded down. I think only the pig and I don’t like this weather–everyone else was cavorting and dancing and prancing–even the chickens were happy.
But winter does have its own particular beauty and I can’t imagine living somewhere without a winter. If it wasn’t for the extremes, how would we ever appreciate the middle ground?
We always celebrated Christmas Eve in our family. This was THE day. When we were still small enough to share the tub, my sister and I were whisked away for our nightly bath and listened to “Santa” hohohoing in the living room. We were then drapped in towels and allowed to run screaming out to “catch” Santa delivering presents, but were always too late. My father would be sitting, slightly out of breath, in his chair, admiring the tree and all the pretty pressies underneath. My Austrian grandmother would have scoured the markets in Vienna for chocolate Christmas tree ornaments, as many as possible would be hanging from the tree, always a Charlie Brown special we cut ourselves from the northern Provincial forest.
Our Christmas eve feast was meatless, with baked or fried fish, baked potatoes, a vinegary cole slaw and ALWAYS butter fried Pacific oysters. Over the years, shrimp and scallops were added and greatly enjoyed. As fas back as I can remember CBC radio was always a big part of the celebration, first with classical Christmas carols and especially Handels Messiah on Christmas day, but later with Fireside Al and his readings of classic Christmas stories. My favorite was O. Henry’s Gift of the Magi, a story guaranteed to reduce me to tears every single year (including last night). My father’s favorite was Frederick Forsyth’s The Shepherd.
Listen here (cut and paste address into browser): http://www.cbc.ca/asithappens/features/2014/12/23/our-traditional-reading-of-o-henrys-the-gift-of-the-magi/
Make sure you have enough time to REALLY listen, a glass of your favorite tipple, and a box of tissues.
Christmas, for me, is a time for reflection and to be grateful for everything I have. A chance to look back over the last year or years, and smile or cry over all the wonderful memories. I hope your Christmas celebration does the same for you!! I wish you a joyful Christmas and a New Year filled with memory making moments…Merry Merry Christmas!!
Oh the good Ol hockey game,
It’s the best game you can name,
And the best game you can name,
Is the good Ol hockey game…
So because I’m a hermit by nature, three years ago, when a coworker asked me to volunteer at the rink I forced myself to accept. It was something to do that took me out of my comfort zone and forced me out to interact with people. My job is mostly being the pop corn lady…making the pop corn, melting the butter, oops, edible oil product, stacking cups etc. it’s actually more complicated than it sounds. It’s a carefully choreographed dance of keeping the bin full while filling cups, making sure we don’t run out of butter and helping grill man by putting hamburger and hotdog buns out, filling the buns with the appropriate meat, then packaging up the burgers or dogs and putting them in the warmer.
Everyone talks about rink burgers but I think the star of the show is the hotdog. Oozing with ketchup, mustard, relish and crunchy onions. It’s all about the texture. When you bite the dog you have to get equal portions of the juicy condiments, the grilled dog, steamed bun and crunchy onions. Each bite is perfection. I think I volunteer here just to get a hotdog😍
Those of you who know me know that I love my coffee. I’m not an all day coffee drinker–just one LARGE cup in the morning, in either my travel mug or in one of my other favorite mugs, of which I have four. Do you see the theme?? Don’t get me wrong–I am NOT a huge Timmies fan–their coffee is far too whimpy (at least since they changed the formula some years back) but they make kick-ass cups…perfect size, perfect weight, keeps the coffee warm for as long as it takes me to slurp it down. (Plus I didn’t pay for any of them, they were either gifts or liberated from the tyranny of unappreciative owners) And the Vegas cup?? such happy happy colors–I’m all about the colors 🙂
I have been using the same six-cup Bialetti espresso maker for many years–do they ever really need replacing? It makes just enough coffee to fill any of my favorite mugs with enough room for a healthy sploosh of cream. And the brightly colored coffee canister holds exactly one brick of finely ground coffee from either IKEA, the Italian grocery in Edmonton, the middle Eastern shop in Stoon or even from No-Frills. This canister with all its happy colors comes from Langley BC, where I was poking around the Sally Ann. I love it and I hope it becomes an item my children fight over when I’m dead. Not valuable, its just the memories.
And finally you see the litre of whipping cream lurking in the background. This is NOT my cream of choice–I far prefer 18%–hence the title of this blog. I KNEW I used up the last of the cream yesterday but forgot to buy a replacement jug. AAARRRGGGH!!! I went thru many phases before I found THE cream. First it was Coffee Mate–a highly flammable powder of dubious origin. Then evaporated milk, which if not decanted from its tin began to taste very metallic towards the end of the week. Then whipping cream–yes, I confess to using this in my coffee for years–but middle age changed my tastes, and I began to find it too rich, (I know, is that even possible??) So then I made the change to 18% and haven’t looked back.
Its the ritual of making coffee I love, even more than drinking the coffee–run the water till its bottom-of-the-well cold, rinse out the grounds from yesterday, add two heaping scoops of espresso powder tamped down slightly, screw on the cap, wipe off the water dropplets from the bottom of the Bialetti so it doesn’t do the coffee dance all over the top of my stove as the steam escapes, listen to the pressure building and the coffee burbbling out into the top reservoir and finally the silence that means its finished and ready to be poured. It is not to be rushed. The aroma that fills the kitchen is heavenly, even more-so when I’m making Arabic coffee with cardamon.
So, now in the time it’s taken to write this Ode to Coffee, I have enjoyed my cup of joe. I hope you all have a coffee or tea ritual that makes you smile.
Life is too short not to enjoy the simple things!!
Where does the time go? I thought being retired would mean more unstructured time–being able to be spontaneous and do whatever I wanted. Is that just a fantasy? Who gets to do the things they really want to do? It seems my days are filled with structure and schedules and at the end, when I’m home, I don’t want to do anything at all. I have chores twice a day. I do my bus run twice a day. I try to visit my mom five days a week. I’m trying to fit xmas shopping in between dental, optometrist and podiatrist appointments. I started skiing last week. I actually made it out three times and really enjoyed it. But over the weekend I went to Edmonton with my daughter to pick up a harness for her new pony. Sunday I ripped up the flooring in the living room and relaid it (it looks much better). So much for spontaneity.
Skiing on the island has been wonderful. There were fresh moose tracks and lots of highbush cranberries. Sadly the snow will disappear over the next few days as the weather is unusually warm. Perhaps I’ll start walking then.
This post sounds like a lot of whinging. Maybe no one really gets to do what they want.