Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Five alive -- the Thanksgiving exercise

Continuing to think about things I'm thankful for.  Last night I said good-bye to one of my three brothers--none of whom lives,is domiciled in this province or the adjacent ones; but the peculiarities of my youngest brother's profession have led to his being in Prairie Metropolis, or in the immediate hinterland, more over the last couple of years than not.

There are -- have always been! -- nearly eleven years between us.  Putting it another way, "I walked the floor with him" (and with his twin -- for their first two years they had the tag-team form of colic, going on more or less night and day), which is pretty comical to remember given that he is now more or less 6'5" not counting the boots.  He and his twin were only 12 when I "got married and left home," and I'd been away from home at university most of the time for the previous five years.  So there is, potentially, something of a GAP.

But this summer and last we have had The Best Time--eating and drinking and talking world without end -- and we have a new joint pursuit as well in these latter years -- the fine domestic art of PICKLING things.  And then CANNING them.  Turns out that my baby brother (my baby brother, the colonel) is a demon in the kitchen when it comes to PUTTIN' UP STUFF.  Especially once we ascertained that the mandolin was strictly off limits to him (he's a south-paw).  We chopped, and we stirred, and we timed things, and we lifted hot jars in and out of the canner, and we listened and congratulated each other as we heard the cooling jar lids "poinking" successfully, and successively, into place.

We made bread and butter pickles.  We made chutney.  We made bread-and-butter-style jalapeno pickles.  And on the most recent weekend, we made our grandmother's Green Tomato Mincemeat.  We made a 1/2 recipe and the yield was SIX QUARTS -- enough for what we agreed would be a MORT of mince-tarts.

And meanwhile we talked. And TALKED.  Literature and music and politics and liturgy and history and MILITARY history and movies and family, and then around the circuit again and again.

He flew homeward this morning.  But I look at this array of shining (and perfectly sealed, please note) jars of good things...and remember hours and hours of good talk.  And am very very thankful.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Thankful Four

Reflecting as I drove out this morning to do the first of a short series of errands, that over the last two or three years I have been increasingly thankful for a cadre, or a bevy, or maybe a squad, of amiable and competent young women who are at present clustered around the "party of the first part," here, and bending their impressive talents and efforts to keeping me healthy, solvent, and secure.  We all know it takes a village etc. to raise a child?  I think it also takes a fair-sized village to keep the ol' lady on her feet and on the move.

There is my new physician -- who, blessedly, LISTENS.  And her clinic-pharmacist -- a consultant, whose conversations with me are completely uncontaminated by retail considerations.  (There is also a splendid pharmacist who does dispense my prescriptions but also goes to bat with my insurer on my behalf and sorts out the bureaucrats.)

And there is my new insurance broker, who phoned me a year and a half ago to say, "I think I can save you some money..."  and then did.

And a duo of bankers...who discuss, and advise, and encourage, and then say -- "you go have some fun, and we'll see if we can make you some money, here."

Not to say that there aren't older women, and men, for whose professional skill and generosity I'm not profoundly grateful too. But tonight, I give thanks for "the girls" who brighten my calendar in the ways I've described.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Thankfulness, Three

Picking up the theme of thankfulness, again...

I am thankful for the play of the seasons in this part of the world.  (With a possible asterisk against the name of Winter.) But autumn here can be very beautiful, and this year it is.  We have taken pride, municipally, in harbouring what is perhaps the last major stand of un-diseased American elms, here in Prairie Metropolis; and in our older neighbourhoods in the autumn there are still some wonderful "elm avenues" blazing with gold both above and (after a bit of leaf-fall), below.  

We don't have the kind of stands of maple that add so much colour to the Carolinian hardwood forests of eastern Canada -- but the Mountain Ash can muster up a pretty striking red, and there are some ornamental non-native plantings that also vary the yellow of poplars and the coniferous green.

Just at the moment we're promised some Indian summer days over the weekend -- sandal and shirtsleeve weather again and bright although low-angled sunshine.  (Come the winter solstice, the sun will rise a whole splendid eleven degrees above the southern horizon...LONG shadows.)

So even as we mentally batten everything down in the face of "what we are about to receive" meteorologically over the next six months -- there are days of great comfort and pleasure in the outdoor world, to lay to heart and to memory.

And for this I am thankful!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Thankfulness some more, Day #2


Considering the question of how and for what we are--for what I am--thankful again this morning.  Staying small-scale for now.  Working up to some sort of cosmic, apocalyptic utterance later (hah!  that at least is the dream).

I am thankful for my cat.  She appears to have had Siamese ancestors; she is black all over, and vociferous.  I think little gold Egyptian ear-hoops would become her, but I doubt she would agree.  Much of the time, or most of the time, she "sleeps at me."  (At this moment, curled up on the sofa next to where I'm typing.)  At night she comes and finds me sometime after I've turned in.  She was a Humane-Society kitten, and on her first night in the house she slept across my throat like a little poultice; the second night she coiled up like a little furry Danish pastry and slept on my ear.

But she doesn't sleep all the time.  Come nightfall, she importunes me for a game of "fetch."  We live in a bi-level house with an open stairway to the basement in the living-room.  Her joy is to persuade me to pitch small balls of paper over the banister and down the stairs, whither she pursues and captures them, trying to make as much noise as a troop of cavalry en route.  How cats can manage to "stamp their paws" remains a mystery.

If I don't respond to her loud invitations to play, she steps up her persuasions, and eventually she will collect all the paper-balls currently in use, and bring them to me like a little dog -- and LINE THEM UP next to my chair.  So there's another mystery.  How does a cat perceive a STRAIGHT LINE?  What moves her to create one?  I'm serious -- three or four little wads of paper all in a ROW.

So for the mystery, and the beauty, and the comfort, and the comedy, of one small black cat, I am thankful.  And now I'll go scoop her box.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

A Season of Thankfulness

Pastor Kelly at G-Free Rev (revgfree@wordpress.com) invites us to a Season of Thanksgiving in the gap between the Canadian celebration (this weekend past) and the American one six weeks hence.
Thankfulness has been much on my mind this week for various reasons, some more comfortable and edifying than others -- that's quite another story.  But I'm happy to take up Kelly's challenge and make a start here, at least.
I am thankful again and again for a battery of really substandard, off-code, frankly kinda "ad hoc at best" and "crappy at worst" kitchen utensils that I've grown accustomed to over the years, and come to rely on in a grab-this-first sort of way.
There is my cutting board.  I have a Sunday-go-to-meeting one, but the one that knows the knives best is a slab of 1" X 12" Lauan mahogany, about 18" long, a relic of somebody's rec-room renovation in a bygone decade, I am sure, that I bought for maybe $1 at a garage sale in a posh neighbourhood, years ago.  It fits across my sink and leaves room to scrape debris into a colander below.  It is double-sided.  I have scrubbed it down countless times.  It's faintly cracked here and there, but unwarped.  "Remember now, you're bacteriostatic," I remind it from time to time.
I have a proper big wooden pastry-board too -- but it is neglected in favour of the patch in the middle of the old Arborite kitchen counter where a previous owner's au pair set down a hot saucepan and burnt the &^%* out of the surface.  The ruined section was replaced with a slab of Corningware ceramic, with a neat metal margin around it like a sink fitting.  The best thing to roll out pastry on because it's always cold. And always a safe place to set down something too hot to handle!
An array of battered "Harvest Gold" nylon scrapers and spatulas, scorched and warped and -- from time to time -- rehabilitated by a little scissor-work...and still serviceable!
I might also mention the genuine pre-owned Mouli hand-grater (French) bought back in the last century for fifteen cents in a thrift-shop operated by the women's auxiliary of the Canadian Opera Company back in The Navel of the Known Universe aka Toronto.  They make them in plastics, now, but this is the real tinned-metal dented and battered article.  It has chewed up a lot of Parmesan in its time.
And for all these widgets and who-jimmies I am thankful, this morning.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

hitting the road....


Going out to the car for a fast loop through the closest shopping mall, pharmacy, bank, coffee shop, and then back into the now-packed vee-hickle and THE OPEN ROAD.  

By tonight I should be back in my calf-country, or one segment of it, and snugged down in the motel I've been returning to for, oh, the better part of 40 years off and on.  Not every year, but most.  And then into the hot springs.  Soaking out the aches and pains and perhaps some of the Original Mean.

Hoping to make some gentle side trips away from my base of operations, north or south in the great Columbia Trench, tallying up the visible osprey population, drinking Fair Trade Coffee -- the whole East Kootenay region floats atop a gigantic seething reservoir of Fair Trade Coffee, I believe.  Other places have magma etc., they have coffee.

"Sat" the elder granddaughter last night, Thing One, and we discussed our summer travels; she was quite sure she could "come with" Grandma to the mountains and just maybe we would see a BEAR.  Apparently she canvassed this possibility with her parents over breakfast this morning also.  One of these days, I told her.  One of these days!



Friday, August 15, 2014

Friday again, woo hoo, I think, anyhow...


Up and full of good resolves this morning, some of which I've even carried out.

It is a constant, repeated (I don't know whether I mean "continuous" or "continual" or both of them) business managing what I need to do, what I want to do, what I have to do, and what I can do -- not to mention "what I FEEL LIKE doing" which usually has nothing to do with any of the above.

Part of this -- I think of it as "ergonomics" in a sense -- has to do with noticing when there is energy and when there isn't -- against a backdrop in which the constant is "less energy than there was, more than there will be" -- which is disconcerting at the very least.

Part of this is learning to ask the question, "What and how much of it do I need to do today in order to feel contented when I turn in, tonight?"  because there will always, always, be more on THE LIST than can be done in one day.  Not to mention more things in the "henh" file.  I am very fond of the concept of the "henh" file. (It contains all those items which you pick up, or remember, or think of, and then say "henh" and lay them down again.)

I have letters to write.  I have nearly finished the laundry.  I have made two business-like phone-calls.  I have scheduled some deliveries.  I have done all the newspaper puzzles over my breakfast this morning -- a sign of sufficient sleep last night.

There is ironing.  There are groceries to manhandle into meal-form before dark.  There are pots to wash, books to read, carpet to vacuum, and a kitchen floor to scrub...and somewhere in there, a walk; and somewhere soon a foray to buy new bedding for a new bed, a brand-new bed, to be delivered next week--very exciting.

And there are books to shelve, papers to sort, archives to shred, garments to mend, projects to complete.

And there is a parish on the horizon--six weeks' interim supply work in last summer's venue, "Little Prairie Town Halfway to the Jumping-Off Place" as we might call it.  Long, long drives every Sunday, but I'm looking forward to it.

But the Blog Post is done.  So now that comes off the list.  It suffices.